The Continuing CSN Houston Fiasco Makes Luc Besson Films Seem Sane and Logical
Luc Besson's movies teeter on the edge of insanity. They're full of stylized violence, shouting, slow motion and visual effects. They're full of bright colors, big stars, fancy camera moves and flashy editing. Yet his movies usually make zero sense, appear to have no script, don't follow the rules of logic, and are usually huge, big-budget messes. But when everything meshes, his movies are joyous wonders to watch.
CSN Houston is, in many ways, the equivalent of a Luc Besson movie. The continued existence of the network borders on the brink of insanity. It's loud and messy, and features big stars trying their best to distract viewers, owners and creditors from the mostly inferior product. CSN Houston is failing and it's failing fast. It's what happens when Bruce Willis is cut from The Fifth Element for more Chris Tucker, and there's just absolutely no chance than Gary Oldman is going to pop up and pull it out of its death spiral.
Sometime this week the good folks at Comcast are supposed to find out the identity of the secret bidder for the bankrupt network currently known as CSN Houston. And by the end of next week, there's an actual chance that the people of Houston will know the identity of this entity. That's all, if of course, this so-called entity is still interested in the nightmare known as CSN Houston. And if it is, at what cost is it interested in the network?
That's just the so-called main plot of this shipwreck. All parties currently involved with the network are still waiting for Judge Lynn Hughes to get off of his ass and make a ruling on the Astros' appeal of the ruling declaring that the network's bankrupt. Hughes did a little grandstanding earlier this year, conducting several mediation sessions with the parties, attempting to settle the matter and come out a hero. But that time's long past, and all he needs to do is issue a simple ruling saying bankrupt or not bankrupt.
And there's the other subplot, this one involving the lawsuit filed by Astros owner Jim Crane against Comcast and the team's former owner, Drayton McLane, claiming that McLane and Comcast used fraud, breach of contract and civil conspiracy to get Crane to purchase the team and the network. The suit was initially filed in state court, but the Astros and Comcast had it sent to federal court. Bankruptcy judge Marvin Isgur recently ordered the matter back to state court, though he stayed that order long enough for the Astros and Comcast to decide whether or not to file an appeal. And maybe, once it gets to state court, someone will figure out why the Houston Rockets weren't sued since the facts of the petition appear to have the Rockets as active parties to all of the alleged misdeeds.
But quick, back to the so-called main plot and the floundering network in search of a savior. The speculation is that the secret bidder is either DirecTV and/or AT&T. DirecTV owns and operates several regional sports networks, and AT&T has talked in the past about getting into the RSN business. There's also been discussion about Fox Sports coming in and swooping up the network and folding it back into Fox Sports Southwest.
Questions abound with all of these scenarios. What happens to the Astros' and Rockets' media rights? Do the teams get paid the money they haven't been paid these past several years? If the media rights are rebid, is there any chance of the teams getting close to what they were supposed to be paid by CSN Houston? Who runs the network? Will the Astros and Rockets retain any ownership stake; will Comcast retain any ownership percentage? And perhaps most important of all, what about carriage? Will anybody show the damn network? Will it go out over a five-state network or a Houston-centered network?
One has to suspect that even Luc Besson would look upon this whole mess -- a network that's been on the air for nearly two years, unseen by most of those who would want to watch it, with a primary product consisting of one of the worst teams in MLB over the past half decade -- and declare the whole thing nuts. Not even Gary Oldman could enter stage right, yelling at the top of his lungs with guns blazing, and find a way to save this network. The whole thing, the very concept of the entire network, is too insane, too nuts, for even a mad genius like Besson to turn into a watchable feature film.
But this isn't an insane Besson film. There's going to be no barrage of bullets bringing this to a close just before the fade to black. It's a real network employing actual people and affecting the lives and professions of many others. At some point the madness has to end, and even though it might make absolutely zero sense, the ending, whatever it is, will be very real.
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