If you're new to our annual combo capsule/critique of these presentations, here's the scorecard. Each event gets graded on a scale of 0-5 Jacks (named for the overseer of this Web site) in several categories -- the venue where it takes place, the presentation itself, what news breaks out there (the amount and importance), how the host/hosts do, and a final overall score.
Got it? Good. Now that you get it, let's head out:
Venue : The Stanford White-designed dining room on the second floor of The Lamb's Club restaurant, located on W. 44th St. near Broadway and ABC's Good Morning America studio. Elegant, stylish, intimate room (so intimate it only fits two large tables) surrounded by book cabinets which suggest you've traveled back into the Victorian era. Top choice on the breakfast menu: French toast with green apples on both slices and a maple glaze, so light and distinctive that syrup wasn't necessary. Grade: 5 Jacks
Presentation : Simple, short speeches by Chairman/filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and Vice Chairman Scott Sassa, punctuated by three video clips (one setting the network's tone, the others showcasing From Dusk Till Dawn, El Rey's first original and scripted series, launching March 11. From the start, this is a channel long on creative series-making, low on bureaucracy. "There are no executives," Rodriguez declared. "We want to open up the doors to find new voices, and offer a truly mainstream, entertaining place, but with an eye toward diversity," especially for Latinos on both sides of the camera. One shortcoming was no clip highlighting some of the other programs El Rey will launch in the near future. Grade: 4 Jacks
News : Rodriguez will follow up his Dusk Till Dawn involvement (executive producer and directing multiple episodes) with directing episode one of Matador, the channel's second scripted series (from Sleepy Hollow and Star Trek movie writer/producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci), aimed at a July debut. Heineken USA and its various beer brands will get product integration on both series and more via a new one-year sponsor contract, El Rey's second such deal in its short existence (General Motors was first). The Director's Chair, a forum featuring top directors, launches next month with John Carpenter a first episode participant. Later, Rodriguez hinted that another upcoming series will give new talent $7,000 (the budget for his breakthrough movie El Marachi) to make films or TV pilots. Grade: 4.5 Jacks
Host : Rodriguez has a gift of gab, naturally discussing his ambitions for the network with low-key passion and enthusiasm. At his best when illustrating points with anecdotes from his filmmaking career. You can discuss movies with him for hours and not get jaded. Grade: 5 Jacks
Overall Grade: 4.5 Jacks . A tremendous first-time effort: One or two more short programming clips and you're looking at a 5-Jack ace.
5 Jacks - Excellent
4 Jacks - Very Good
3 Jacks - Good
2 Jacks - Fair
1 Jack - Poor
0 Jacks -Worse than bad
Next up: The Weather Channel
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