Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Green eyes monster (deal)

There's a great moment in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke Skywalker faces Darth Vader in a battle to the death. Hanging on for dear life, a battered and bruised Luke is hit with the facts behind his mysterious upbringing. His masked nemesis tells him that ObiWan Kenobi had lied, and that he was in fact Luke's father. Still, it's not all bad news for the Jedi in-training. Vader makes him an offer he can't refuse (or so he thinks), saying "Together we will rule the universe."

The relevance? I can't help thinking back to that momentous scene when I read about Simon Cowell and Philip Green planning a transatlantic media organisation that could rival Disney. The fact that they're still talking means that Simon Cowell didn't scream "No", attempt suicide and end up hanging upside down from a weather-vane. I also imagine that he still has all his own fingers.

So what does all this mean? No-one's really sure, since the contract have yet to be signed. However, I can't help but be a little cynical about the notion that this partnership could be bigger than Disney. After all, despite being a union-breaking, anti-semitic, pro-McCarthy dictator, Disney was also a visionary creative. His story-telling skills, imagination and entrepreneurial risk-taking marked him out as a true original. He also gets extra points for inadvertently inventing the immersive brand experience. Simon Cowell, on the other hand has precisely two ideas to his name - a resurrection of The Gong Show, and a slight tweak to the Pop Idol format.

As for Philip Green, he's got a reputation for buying up old stock and selling it on, finding innovative ways to avoid paying tax, and getting on the wrong side of anti-sweatshop groups. All of which makes me think that this is going to be less of a Luke and Vader team-up, and more like a Sith and apprentice arrangement.

Who knows, in five years' time Mickey Mouse might be queuing up to have his photo taken with Susan Boyle...

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