BlogHer09: Ilene Chaiken and the Incredibly Disappearing Website

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BlogHer09: Ilene Chaiken and the Incredibly Disappearing Website

Last week I was surprised to learn that L Word showrunner and former OurChart.com CEO Ilene Chaiken was scheduled as a keynote speaker at the 2009 BlogHer conference, which took place July 24 - 26 in Chicago. Focused on female bloggers and those blogging for a female readership, the con's website touts the gathering as bringing together "bloggers from every corner of the blogosphere." Chaiken's inclusion as a keynote speaker was curious for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that she has made virtually no public comment about OurChart.com since it abruptly dumped its entire staff late last year, and a month or so later, was unceremoniously wiped off the face of the interwebs — an ignominious end to what had been, up until then, a vibrant and highly successful blogging and social-networking site.

As a former blogger for OurChart, and someone who had been invested in the online community there, I was wildly curious to hear what Chaiken had to say about the state of social media and the blogosphere to a group of female bloggers from all over the country. Heck, I was also eager to learn if bloggers could actually afford to shell out the $600 a pop (!!!) to attend. Certainly, I couldn't — which means I've been forced to rely on media coverage of the event and the lesbian phone tree to slake my curiosity. And from what I can tell after a thorough scouring of Google, Twitter and YouTube, as well as a judicious shaking of said lesbian phone tree, it seems Chaiken didn't even mention OurChart in her keynote remarks, speaking instead about her experience making The L Word series and product placement and advertizing in relation to film and TV. She also announced that she has begun work writing an L Word movie script.

While her co-speakers engaged with one another about blogging and social media in their roundtable panel discussion, Chaiken related every question back to making a TV show. As far as I've been able to discover, she said not one word about her experiences as the CEO of a ground-breaking blogging and social-networking site for women, excepting an oblique reference to being "moved" by online fan participation in terms of the decisions she made about the direction of the show. And all this at a women's blogging conference. A peculiar and puzzling omission, don't you think?

According to AfterEllen.com's Trish Bendix, Ilene did promise we'd find out who killed Jenny in The L Word movie-to-be. But as fans, after being jerked around for so long by a show that made increasingly little sense, do we even care anymore? I can't say I do. But I still miss what we built together at OurChart. I'd still love to know what in the frilly heck happened to it and if it was ever more to Ilene Chaiken than a means of acquiring fan input about her intended franchise, if she had even the slightest inkling of what a rare and wondrous thing she held in her hands before she threw it away without so much as a backward glance.

"Opportunity is often missed because we are broadcasting when we should be tuning in." - Anonymous



Comments [85]

annemarlen's picture

cooking

Just remembering some  OC videoblogs during S5. Gosh, ICs cooking tips were awesome: "When ready to serve, spoon chicken mixture into each tortilla."...

Wink

love is a pebble laughing in the sun

peacekitty's picture

I actually loved those

I actually loved those "Secret Ingredient" vlogs, but I love cooking shows.  :) 

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

annemarlen's picture

I knew i'm not the only one.

I knew i'm not the only one. Crown

love is a pebble laughing in the sun

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Chaiken never owned OurChart

I went into this in detail at that other site, but I guess most had bailed on that site by the time I had researched and validated all the information.

The short of it is this:

Ilene Chaiken never owned OurChart.com.  It was, and still is, owned by Showtime Networks, Inc., who is owned by CBS-Showtime, who in turn is owned by Viacom.  The decision to shut down OC came from SNI, which saw OC as a money loser.  SNI continues to own the site name, and as of today uses the publicity surrounding OC to redirect everyone to Showtime's main web site.  Markmonitor.com enforces Viacom's legal and business interests related to the site.

Showtime never intended the site to go beyond the final season of The L Word, according to a few people I know that work at the CBS Studios in Los Angeles.  The primary purpose of the site was never what was stated, but was instead to get viewer feedback and ideas for future scripts.

Given this information, and how the ultimate demise of OC came about, I'm curious as to how Chaiken was selected to deliver the keynote address to begin with.  Probably because she could afford the $600 price of entry?

K I T's picture

lol you think

you where the only one who did some research? winks

lets put it ths way OC to me ias i see it was a marketing tool it was there to make money direct and indirect

now i don't see that as a problem  only it was not clear to some and they  did draw people  with misleaing and perhaps false or incorrect  and non complete  stuff.

but  is that so much different then what most do ?

now lets take twitter for example , in not used it  but resently i did because i need to  look in to some stuff

a socaled social networking device , yet the most important tool /aim use is to  make money companys and people on there using the exposure to draw people to there site  shops products etc.

right or wrong ?

as long as people enjoy the ride and as long as it last  its part of the game

think lots enjoyed OC and had a blast , so time to get over it and just move on no point in blaming  any one or anything i say

there is no doubth that the basic idea the one we wanted & see that is & not theres ofcourse could have been great and build out even more and that indeed is a lost

however : VP with there new drupal cms can and is on its way to making it happen

and to be honest? the fact that it aint focust around a  tv show or film  or  fan thing etc is the real power

its more general yet still specific in its own unique way. so mmm maybe we should and can be glad that  the OC is gone

winks

Grace Moon's picture

you pretty much got that, except:

Showtime never intended the site to go beyond the final season of The L Word, according to a few people I know that work at the CBS Studios in Los Angeles.  The primary purpose of the site was never what was stated, but was instead to get viewer feedback and ideas for future scripts.

 I can't say that this is true, but i can't comment further.

tweet tweet @gracemoon

yonks's picture

May i ask you

were you in OC since the beginning?

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Not2Taem's picture

Damn those nondisclosure clauses!

Seriously though, its nice to know there are still ethical people in the world. Frustrating as all hell! But nice.

yonks's picture

We have to gather in NY and

We have to gather in NY and make her drink Evil

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Not2Taem's picture

OK, just don't let me have any

I'm generally a very horny drunk and the woman is H-O-T!

Did I mention that I plan to pursue a career as a Lesbian Layer? :shy:  I mean Dragon Slayer!

Grace Moon's picture

yes

Beer

tweet tweet @gracemoon

camomileroses's picture

note to IC: silence is a

note to IC: silence is a tacit admission of guilt.  did i spell that right?

"there will never be a technology more advanced than the human mind - fully engaged in the divine process of being. technology is a tool not a destination." me.

Professor C's picture

at least pompeii had artifacts...

well said, Julia! (as usual)

Julia Watson's picture

A fine figure we'd all have

A fine figure we'd all have cut, too, in those gothic-macabre lava molds.

Tex's picture

Ah yeah!

I love making women tingle!

The mug will be in full display once I get home to my computer.  Right now I'm commenting from my iPhone. Absolutely I think it's a fantastic little machine, and am thankful for what I have, but goodness knows, surfing the internet with Edge is slooooooow!

EDIT: this was supposed to go under Grace's comment to my comment!  :)  It is okay with me, however, that the above statement made the top of the column! I am an equal opportunity tingler!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Rusty's picture

TiBette? JoBette? I know I

TiBette? JoBette? I know I tweaked the TiBetters more than once (and got pages of my comments flagged), but honestly I never gave a rat's ass about any of the ships. I don't care who ends up together on this or any other show.

All I wanted was compelling stories whose characters who um, maybe stayed in fucking character and didn't go All About Eve on us. There are many examples but the Helena charm makeover was the most ridiculous.

Ilene has no one but herself to blame. This is a guess on my part, but I see the possibility of her getting fed up with complaints from TiBetters and saying, "Fuck you. You want them together? Imma put them together." And she went and wrote lame-ass; hole-filled (and not in the good way) plotlines.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

LongBeachDogLover's picture

Hey now...

Please don't blame *us* TiBetters for her lame-ass scripts, and marginal story-lines. Actually, had she listened to many of the TiBetters, she would have had some awesome directions to take the show in. Unfortunately, she listened to no one but herself. And, she dried up. It happens - now, let's move on.   Smile

 

Rusty's picture

Sorry, I'm not blaming the

Sorry, I'm not blaming the TiBetters. If it did go down the way I surmised, I blame IC for a childish response to the fans.

"When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." ~ Pollyanna

Not2Taem's picture

I have wondered

if she might have done it on purpose. It just seemed such obvious sabotage of awesome potential. I asked myself if it was possible that Showtime was going to require something of her/the show that she found so abhorrent that it was worth making it irreparable to keep that from happening. It sounds like paranoia and I don't know enough about the industry to even guess what might be on the table, or who controls what. Maybe she will tell all on her death bed. The question is, would it be fact or fiction?

 

camomileroses's picture

maybe it was just an

maybe it was just an *oblivious* sabotage of awesome potential. 

"there will never be a technology more advanced than the human mind - fully engaged in the divine process of being. technology is a tool not a destination." me.

peacekitty's picture

There are a lot of conspiracy

There are a lot of conspiracy theories and rumors out there about what happened. I don't believe any of them but I do have questions.   1.  Don't they have editors working on films that are there during the scripting process to let writers know when they stop making sense? 2.  Unless I misunderstood (which is very possible) JB and IC gave contradictory accounts at the Times Talks of what happened during production.  First JB said how happy she was to work with Ilene because she had an "open door policy' and would welcome imput from the actors.  But she also said that during season 6 she "caught wind" of the murder plotline (a curious way to put it since they read the scripts before acting it out) and then begged Ilene to please not do what she did....but Ilene did it anyway.  So which is it?

Since we'll never know I'll just chuck it off as one big "whoops" and forget Season 6 never happened.  Smile

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

SMBrown's picture

PK, regarding your confusion

PK, regarding your confusion about JB's statements, though Season 6 is now mercifully truly a blur to me I distinctly remember Jennifer saying she was unaware the season would be told in flashback.  As you probably know, in both film and television things are often shot out of sequence, and then assembled in the editing room.  So JB's being in the dark regarding the flashback aspect leads me to theorize that the opening sequence of Jenny's murder was shot at the end, thus the actors probably didn't know where things were heading.

As for crediting Ilene for welcoming input, many writers/directors/producers welcome actors' input on a micro level, i.e. how to play a particular scene, but rarely, much to actors' frustration, do they entertain suggestions regarding character arc or plot points.  

 

Robin Rigby's picture

It's not an editor's job to

It's not an editor's job to fix scripts, they cut footage together. Not that a lot of things can't be 'fixed in post', but more things can't.Most TV shows have a team of writers but often only one will be the predominant writer on an episode. The producer or director could step in and say something's not working but unlike a movie each episode also has to fit into the season's and the show's overall arc. The showrunner is in charge of keeping everything on track within the various arcs and is the one who has an overall vision for the show. This is why the brilliant Bryan Fuller can come up with another great premise for a show- "Heroes" and showrunner Tim Kring can totally blow it.

peacekitty's picture

Thanks Robin.  I guess I

Thanks Robin.  I guess I thought there might be someone who has to approve scripts before they go to camera, like a newspaper editor does before an article goes to print. 

 

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Robin Rigby's picture

It might be the showrunner's

It might be the showrunner's job to do something like that, but LBDL would know more about the details, I just know the broad stroke stuff since I've never worked in TV.  The job of an editor in movies/TV is completely different than a newspaper or book editor though.  That part I know well, since I am a movie editor. Smile

K I T's picture

IC ...

IC a keynote speaker at the 2009 BlogHer conference ???

LMAO

I don't C U anywhere let a lone blogging !

mmm but does it not infact and indeed say more about the conference and the people who set it up then it does about IC ?

Amy Nicole Miller's picture

GO Julia!

Way to bust her out!

peacekitty's picture

I LOVE your new picture...and

I LOVE your new picture...and what and awesome effect it adds to your comment.  Wink

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Amy Nicole Miller's picture

LOL

LOL

deedee's picture

Julia, Right there with you Girl

I so loved OurChart .I made so many friends there it was the first blogs I ever want to and would read .It was heartbreaking to me when it just WANT away with no news of why.I felt very uesed .When it closed I never heard from some of those ppl again I always wonder how they are.Some of the posters on OurChart had very sad stories and just wanted a place to talk and were so happy to be there that is Y it was so sad to me,to have it just go away.

annemarlen's picture

deedee

Hi sweet Deedee Garfield, I love to see you posting here again.

Smile

love is a pebble laughing in the sun

Not2Taem's picture

And if they stop in here,

And if they stop in here, they will recognize a very special friend in our sweet deedee.

(******* ☺ *******)

deedee's picture

AHHHHHHHHH

(Hangs head with hands in pocket)You guys are GREAT. 

chelilektra's picture

In defense of Ilene...

Yeah, I've got nothing. 

 

I want a role model, but she's such a plastic vagiwig. It's just too goddamn hard.

________________________________________________________

"Bitch, what you don't know about me is that I can just about fit in the Grand fucking Canyon. Did you know that I always wanted to be a dancer in Vegas?" Silent Bob

Tex's picture

Horse hocky!

IC is a shit head! She's still blaming fans for those story lines! Geezy, if the woman wasn't creative enough to finish out her series coherently why would anyone think she could write a movie! Knew this chick was light in the loafers when she had Alice erase the original chart! How stupid was that? And they sold props! Woman had no clue what was going on with OC....absolutely no clue....no good instincts for successful endeavors!

Twitter Time @kdhales

peacekitty's picture

"no good instincts for

"no good instincts for successful endeavors!"

Wow Tex....I think you said it all in those 6 words.

BTW...when and where did IC blame the fans for the story lines?

"Fight Prime Time. Read a Book"

Tex's picture

Fan input

Ilene makes comments all the time how she loved fan input with the story lines. Now, since we all know Season Six was a crock of crap, and she certainly also knows that by reviewers, bloggers and commenters, then I'm assuming she's saying it's the fans' ideas that were circumspect. Besides, we were USED by Ilene and Showtime. The L Word ended with Season 5. Season 6 was nothing more than a preempt into The Farm - it was not the end of The L Word. The ones of us who sincerely used OC for the social networking tool that it was are the only winners out of all of this......do you know they're still having TLW Conventions? Now, I like a sincere fan, but Trekkies LWordies are not! Hi, PK - smooch!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Grace Moon's picture

tex when you talk like that

you make me tingely inside.

when are we gonna see your mug on that avatar of yours?

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Lake's picture

So not worth it....

$600 bucks.....No way.....I wouldn't pay that to see anyone!!!!

Chaiken doesn't even blog...wtf was she doing there????

 

I'm starting a movement.......it's a stick a fork in the L Word movement.....put it in the history books....call it a day.....find a new lesbo drama to cling on to...

Snarky Lake

 

 

 

 

Lake

Tex's picture

Yes you will!

You paid that much to see me! No, on second thought I did to see you! Smile. How's the North, Lake?

Twitter Time @kdhales

Lake's picture

The North is.....

needing a Southern touch!!! Wink

 

Thankful everyday for that money spent!!!!! Wink

Lake

Not2Taem's picture

limited benefits

I'm pretty sure going to see Ilene wouldn't have the same benefits.  At least, I hope not. :0

Not2Taem's picture

Everyone should take a swim

in Snarky Lake.  Wink

Lake's picture

Swim......

at your own risk!!!!  Wink

Lake

Not2Taem's picture

Paddling on the edge!

LOL

Lake's picture

It's always....

warmer in the middle of the Lake!!! Wink

Lake

Not2Taem's picture

Did I hear...?

Was that an invitation?

Diving into the middle!   ;-}

Lake's picture

Standing...

invite for months.....we can never get on the same schedule.....LOL!!!!  Wink

Lake

LongBeachDogLover's picture

"wtf was she doing there????"

Well, we're talking about her..... aren't we.  I'm sure that's why she was there. 

What's the saying - "any publicity is good publicity" ?   That may not be the exact saying, but I think it works here.

Lake's picture

Very

true......still want to put a fork in it!!!  Wink

Lake