NEW YORK CITY – SATURDAY, APRIL 10 – 4:23 PM
This morning I opened my drawer full of power adapters and grabbed the one with “MIP” written on it in black marker. I rifled through my envelope of foreign currency and found 40 Euros sandwiched between some worn out pesos and pounds. I took Mary out for coffee, gave her a big hug and a kiss, promised to call her every night and said goodbye.
I am going to MIP. And I’m still not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, for a quiet person like me, being at MIP is like being a marshmallow held over a campfire until my outsides are crispy and my insides are a white goo. But on the other hand, I love MIP. Not the pitching and the schmoozing and the mad pursuit of table space. No, I love MIP because I see my friends there. For me, MIP is like a twice-yearly reunion with people that I rarely get to see anywhere else in the world. Some I adore. Some I worked for. Some I adored before I worked for. But they are my community. The good, the bad, and the licensing folks.
IN AIR ON BOARD DELTA FLT #82 FROM NYC TO NICE – 7:41 PM
I review my itinerary and the bios of all the people I’ll be meeting in Cannes. I try to remember their names and one particular thing about each of them. They scuba dive. They grow zucchini. They like Hello Kitty. I’m traveling with Little Airplane’s Line Producer, Sharon Thomas, and between the two of us we will pitch 28 broadcasters in four days. Sharon grew up in Singapore and Hong Kong and speaks half-a-dozen languages, so she covers Asia. I barely speak English and I cover Canada, Australia and Europe. Back in New York, we have the third member of our international team, Melanie Pal, who provides any materials or support we need while in Cannes. Melanie covers Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East and she could easily write a Lonely Planet guide about any one of them. I like to think of us as a very lean three-person SWAT team that tracks down new preschool TV business anywhere on the planet. Kind of like the “Wonder Pets!” except the animals we save are ourselves.
CANNES – SUNDAY, APRIL 11 – 5:15 PM
I got here, ate an omelette, slept an hour, ironed all my shirts, took a short run by the water and then rushed over to The Majestic for my first pitch. I had twenty minutes on a couch in the lobby to explain what I’ve been doing for the past year and a half. I felt rusty as I tried to describe our new shows. I’m jet lagged and I’m having trouble making the shift from show making to show pitching. I can see the broadcaster’s eyes drifting away from my animation and towards the bar. Never a good sign.
CANNES – SUNDAY – 11:15 PM
A lovely dinner tonight with some of the movers and the shakers of the kids’ business. I walk back to my hotel along the wet, shiny streets of Cannes. I am so jet lagged now I am hallucinating. The neon lights appear to be actually burning. There’s a low rumble, not unlike the way the ground shakes before a volcano erupts. And the volcano is called the Palais, and it will explode in the morning.
CANNES – PALAIS – MONDAY, APRIL 12 – 9:45 AM
I am in the VIP Lounge at the Palais waiting for my first meeting of the day. Though I had a nice e-mail inviting me to use this lounge, getting in was not unlike going through the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. But it is lovely here and quiet and there is a view of the ocean and the boats. Though I was raised in a very middle class home, I have to confess I really enjoy all the amenities of VIP life when I am able to access them. I like when it’s nice and quiet. I like when someone gets my coffee. And though I don’t love business, I do love business class.
CANNES – PALAIS – MONDAY – 12:35 PM
A full morning of meetings and pitching. I hit my stride and glide like a skater effortlessly from one table to the next. “You don’t like my short form, here, try my long form. You don’t want to dub my songs, this one has no words!” Pow! Kick! Karate chop! I feel like a pitching Ninja.
I return to the hotel to recharge my laptop and my frontal lobe. The sheer volume of programming in the Palais is mind-numbing. But I have to say that business appears to be quite healthy at this MIP, a vast improvement from a year ago when the only person selling anything was the crepe guy.
But if I had to sum up how I feel after my first 24 hours in Cannes, I would say I feel not unlike the statue that stands guard at the entrance of the VIP lounge: A horse with a lampshade on his head struggling to retain some dignity.
CANNES – HOTEL – MONDAY – 9:25 PM
This afternoon I had the good fortune of being on a panel called, “Going Global – Brazil’s Producers Seek Out International Co-productions.” Our host was Jacques Bensimon, whom I first met and came to admire last year in Sao Paulo. The thrust of the panel was simply that Brazil now offers financial incentives for co-productions that rival those of Canada or France. And with several new international treaties in place, Brazil is quickly becoming a major player in the global animation scene.
Though I confess I couldn’t offer much insight on the financial side of things, I did enjoy sharing my own views on the extraordinary creative work that is coming out of Brazil. I have seen first-hand how bold and innovative their young producers are, and I feel quite certain that Brazil is on the verge of great international success.
Took a run tonight along the Croisette to clear my head. It is so beautiful here by the water and the boats glisten and bob in the harbor. I think about my day and I feel happy.
PS: The winner of last week’s “The Worst Note You Ever Got Contest” is Kathy Messick of KM Productions, creators of “Cyber Angels.” Kathy’s winning entry is the blunt and unfortunate note, “We don’t want kids to have to think.”
Kathy’s prize is a bunch of delicious chocolate penguins from my favorite chocolate penguin place, L.A. Burdick Handmade Chocolates. Congratulations, Kathy! We will figure out how to get your penguins to you!<–>