Jan. 28 – 30
It’s the end of January -- and while, yes, there have been some unseasonably warm days up north, I do recall my Twitter and Facebook feeds being inundated with “I’m done with the cold” updates. These updates didn’t come from me, however, because I am based in the Miami area now, where networking cocktails are served outdoors with the crush of the ocean rambling behind you while palm fronds tickle the sky. As was the case this week at NATPE Miami: Content First.
Day One, First stop: Market Floor (you know, an expo hall for entertainment types) Happy Hour. It should come as no surprise that at a content-focused conference and schmoozefest, tablets occupied one hand while the other gripped a cool beverage. Booth bunnies emerged from their fabricated caves. “I’m trying to sell my Web series," “We’re looking for a distributor,” and “I saw Ben Silverman’s beard” popped up in conversation. Santiago Arreaza, creative director at Columbia-based Panoramika.tv, was there talking with Luz Adriana Morales, commercial manager at 7glab. I also met Ravi Kapur, Vice President KAXT1. I also got trapped behind a giant from TCW Traditional Championship Wrestling.
Day One, Second Stop: Opening night party poolside at the Fontainebleau. Ran into Mike Bloxham of Media Behavior Institute and met Max Heavenrich-Vassilos, International Man of Mystery and photographer Daniel Orren. Food stations puffing out gastro science dotted the green. The party was bathed in bright purples and greens while a DJ on his little DJ island coerced a brave few into a dance clump.
Day Two, First Stop: The Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award honoring Steve Levitan, co-creator, “Modern Family"; John Langley (my hero – “Cops” is a Samardak family favorite), executive producer, "Cops"; Debra Lee, CEO, BET; and Herbert Kloiber, C\hairman of Tele München Gruppe. The event was hosted by Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” fame. In person, that guy is like a caffeinated marmoset. Cocktails were served and enjoyed beneath purple-white-flower-lit trees that were overlooking the ocean. The ceremony was short and sweet, full of laughs and what seemed like genuine appreciation for exceptional TV pros.
Day Two, Second (and last stop): NATPE 50th Birthday Bash at LIV in the Fontainebleau. This is where I met a fellow getting the word out about Popovich Comedy Pet Theater -- it’s what you think it is. I also met writer Sean Davidson and ran into the very hardworking and no doubt exhausted NATPE production team. A massive gaggle was letting off steam close to the stage. Fitz and The Tantrums performed -- and if you haven’t heard of them already (how is it under that rock?), you will not be angry with me for highly recommending them. The voices, the music -- superb. Their energy on stage whipped the sea of content nerds into a frothy mass of flailing arms and instagrams.
This event is massive, with panels covering everything from the usual “create compelling content” entry on the buzzword Bingo board to the way TV drives music and vice versa. The “Market Floor” was international, diverse. I lurked by one booth that offered on-the-spot pitch critiques, a clever idea and relevant considering the number of people I met shopping a series. All that schmoozing and knowledge-sharing should be bookended by networking disguised as boozy parties under the glowing Miami moon.