Thursday, May 07, 2009

Jeff Katz emerges as an American Original

Talk about a company name designed to look good in headlines. I've always loved Terry Gilliam's infantile urge to name his production company Poo Poo Productions, just so lawyers would have to have serious conversations about Poo Poo, but I think most sane people want a name that conveys an attitude and suggests what you should expect. I like it when people bite off more than they can chew right out of the gate. If you name your company "Bad-Ass Ninja Robot Shark Productions," and you've got a logo that's four and a half minutes long and cost $2 million, you are making an inherent promise to your customer. I always laugh at the way people try to either go vague or "aha!" cute. And I wonder if there are people who regret their company name after living with it for a while.

All things I pondered as I opened the press release for Jeff Katz's new entertainment company, American Original. I met Jeff many years ago at New Line, as a junior executive there. He was incredibly young at the time... I think 13 or 14... and he had already had this wild other earlier career in the world of professional wrestling. And talking to him, I was amazed not that New Line had him meeting with people to discuss genre movies, but more that they would even let him in the building. He was way too real, too unpolished, too in love with movies and genre fare and comic books and pop culture to be anyone who any corporation would let make any degree of decision. It does not surprise me at all that he would announce his new company today as a "nerd machine." It does not surprise me at all that he's only 30 and he's not only worked for two studios (he had a good run at New Line before making the jump to Fox, where he was hired specifically to be the House Nerd. It does not surprise me at all that he's a really good comic book writer (his Booster Gold stuff is, yes, gold), since he seems to ingest comics and video games and pretty much everything nerd on a steady IV drip.


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