First of all, apologies for the hiatus. I've been spending a lot of time in the third dimension; Tom's been spending time in the middle -- Middle East, that is. But we thought we'd bring it back with a bang, so here it is: Ten Questions with the newly-minted COO of FremantleMedia (and one of my personal digital media heroes), Gary Carter. Mr. Carter has been serving as President, Fremantle Creative Networks, and as Chief Creative Officer of FMX, Fremantle's new media platforms group. I was lucky to catch up with him just as he assumed his new title -- which I regard as just desserts for his track record as a true media visionary.
Angela: Congratulations on your well-deserved promotion. You’re taking on a big job, but I believe you have a big vision for it. So I’m asking the big question first: Obviously, the economy is on everyone’s minds. What becomes imperative for a media company in a tough economic environment?
Gary: Good content and a secure basis for its funding. On the other hand, if you ask me what a company which is historically a television production and distribution company needs, I might give you a different answer.
Angela: Fremantle has excelled in creating what you have dubbed “participatory media experiences” with television as the primary delivery device. Where do you see these experiences going next?
Gary: Oy. I see reality television (competitive reality, I think Americans would call it) and the activities of individuals and groups in the broadband internet space as being part of a continuous line of progression based around personal and societal performance. I use the word 'performance' as defined within the discipline of Performance Studies. I believe, therefore, that many of the manifestations of participatory and personalised media currently in vogue (this blog, for example) are performances. This tendency will continue to develop as the basis for content ideas. I think the big endgame, or at least one of the historic turning points, is going to be the marshalling of many platforms of performance into structures which enable gameplay.
Angela: I am in love with my iPhone – it’s with me 24 hours a day, actually. More than my family. I know that’s rather sad, but it leads me to my next question: what’s your favorite portable media device?
Gary: My mouth.
Angela: I find your theories about the personalization (excuse me, “personalisation”) of media experiences to be quite prescient. Is there a device or a format that is ripe for personaliz – uh, personalisation – that hasn’t been tackled yet?
Gary: All devices tend towards personalisation. This - along with miniaturias, um, miniaturization, will continue to be primary drivers in media technology.
Angela: You’ve spoken a bit about the value of “niche audiences” online, and a good deal of Fremantles’s recent work has been directed that way. What makes this a big opportunity for media companies?
Gary: Anything that breaks the historic mediation of the producer-audience relationship by distributors, and allows closer collaboration between producer and audience in creating content.
Angela: Fremantle has launched a series of original online properties in recent years. Which ones do you regard as being most successful, and why?
Gary: Depends on the measure. Personally speaking, I like creative achievements - so, Fremantle France's NON-STOP JOE.
Angela: Obviously Fremantle is an extremely successful business. Are there other media companies that you find impressive, and what do you seek to learn from them?
Gary: I tend to find individuals more impressive than companies. I admire Nancy Tellem of CBS, for example, because I find it inspiring to see individuals of quality and integrity who are collaborative and decent (in the best senses of the word) succeed in environments which tend to praise ruthless, egocentric individuals with little sense of personal roundedness.
Angela: On that vein, are there any visionaries in other businesses that you find particularly inspiring?
Gary: Visionaries? The ones I admire aren't necessarily in business, or at least not obviously. Try Lloyd Newson of DV8 Physical Theatre.
Angela: Of course, we need to know: What’s your favorite television show?
Gary: Big Brother.
Angela: You’re known for your “distinctive eyewear.” Who’s your current favorite eyewear designer?
Gary: Currently I am wearing Persol. Thank you for asking.
Thank you, Gary! Now I'm on the hunt for back episodes of Non-Stop Joe, to pair with my American Idol fixation.