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Good Week/Bad Week: Invasion of the Latte Snatchers

Media moguls gather in scenic Idaho to discuss box-office slump, loafers with no socks; analysts say statewide lack of Starbucks may hinder progress. Plus: This Is Only a Test, our semi-regular quiz.

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Good Week

Hollywood Moguls

History is full of great gatherings. The Diet of Worms. The Constitutional Convention. The Potsdam Conference. Yanni’s Fiftieth.

Hence, historians (and people with a knack for knowing what time it is even though they don’t wear a watch) are quick to point out that, despite what Cindy Addams says, this week’s convergence of media moguls in Sun Valley does not rank up there with the truly important get-togethers in recorded history. Nevertheless, several major publications hailed the five-day gathering of Hollywood CEOs as an epic event. Forbes called the gathering a “High Powered Summit of Media Masterminds.” Fortune dubbed it “The Ultimate Power Lunch.” Highlights called it a “sleepover.”

The powerful chief executives, including News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch and Walt Disney Co.’s Michael Eisner, began arriving in Sun Valley on Wednesday. In case you don’t know, Sun Valley is a lovely resort town set in the rugged Bitterroot Mountains, the same hills Lewis and Clark had such difficulty crossing on their famous journey to the Pacific in 1803. The Nez Perce tribe of Shahaptian-speaking Indians befriended Lewis and Clark, saving the lives of the exhausted explorers and their starving men. The Nez Perce then promised to always be at peace with Americans, to treat the strangers with dignity and respect, and to honor their customs. As a token of friendship, the white man later returned to Idaho, stole the Nez Perce’s land, then hunted them down, killing women and children as they went. You’ll find better friends.

Others bits of Idaho esoterica: They have famous potatoes in Idaho. No, really. It says so right on their license plates, and if you can’t trust your license plate, who can you trust? Also, Idaho is one of the most conservative, right-wing states in the union. Indeed, the only left-leaning town in Idaho is Moscow, a fact which violates at least three basic tenets of believable storytelling.

Anyway, at this week’s gathering in Sun Valley, the media moguls discussed several pressing concerns, including ways to boost box-office sales, what to do to thwart digital pirates, and how to break the news to Jessica Simpson that talking in a high nasal tone does not constitute singing.

At a press conference, Sydney Pollack, director of such movies as The Yakuza and Three Days of the Condor, told reporters that box-office earnings were hurting for several reasons — more people watching DVDs at home, and an increasingly “loud and rude” environment for enjoying movies in theaters, particularly with customers talking on their cell phones during a show. When a reporter asked if it was possible that graphic, desensitizing movies such as The Yakuza and Three Days of the Condor might contribute to rude behavior in public venues, Pollack cleared his throat, then took a call on his cell phone.


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