Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The Japanese Edition

Dinner with Hiroshi Hayakawa and his lovely wife Yuko at the Hyotan Soba House. Hayakawa is Japan’s leading publisher of mystery books in Japan. He has also published the Japanese editions of two of my books: Legend: The Secret World of Lee Harvey Oswald and The Rise and Fall of Diamonds. This restaurant not only has a private room, sealed off from view by Shoji screens. but a private entrance way. The Japanese concept of dining is very different from that of (my) New York, where a restaurant is a venue to see–and be seen-- by other people.
Hayakawa has good news for me: he has decided to publish my book The Big Picture: The New Logic of Money and Power in Hollywood. This especially heartens me because I see the new–and future Hollywood– as being very much a product of Japanese enterprise.
Consider just three examples. First, the VCR, which was developed by Sony and Matsushita. Even though the Hollywood studios, led by MCA’s Lew Wasserman, resisted with a law suit (Universal vs. Sony), Sony prevailed in American courts. The result of the VCR victory was that the profit center of Hollywood moved from the box-office to home consumption of videos.

Next, came the DVD in the late 1990s, spearheaded by Sony (which now owned the Columbia Tristar studio) and Toshiba (which was now a partner in Time Warner). The success of the DVD not only further expanded the world home audience but contained random access unavailable on video. This new capability to navigate a disc allowed the studios to create new products by adding"extras"– including games to the disc

Finally, beginning this year, there will be a blue laser DVD from Sony and Toshiba that will quadruple the DVD’s storage capacity. The first effect of this additional storage will be high definition picture quality at home. The Sony version will also allow consumers to customize their DVDs by directly downloading and recording extras from the Internet. Movies can thus be supplemented and fused with interactive games.

For better or worse, these Japanese interventions have helped transform Hollywood– a point I will expand on in the Japanese edition of The Big Picture.
When I return to the Hyatt Grand, more good news according to my agent Tina Bennett’s email: Publishers Weekly (Dec 13th) has come out with a starred review– whatever that means.