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tv   Studio 1.0  Bloomberg  August 23, 2015 9:30am-10:01am EDT

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♪ emily: it is a show about a bunch of geeks locked in a house, writing code. a most unsexy, un-hollywood premise that is now an hbo hit. "silicon valley" pokes fun at the idiosyncrasies. behind the show, people that brought us some of the greatest satire in entertainment history. mike judge of "office space" and "beavis and butthead," and alec berg, writer on "seinfeld." joining me today, silicon valley creator mike judge and executive producer alec berg.
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thank you for joining us. i am a big fan and i have seen every episode. you have written, produced, and directed several different episodes. what is different about season two? mike: alec? alec: the biggest thing we have had to deal with was the loss of christopher evan welch, who played peter gregory. he was the cornerstone of season one, the guy financing-wise. that was a huge, huge hole to fill and writing-wise a challenge to figure out what to do. emily: he was terrific and i understand he is being replaced by a woman. mike: not necessarily replaced. his firm, she becomes the lead partner, this new character that was not in season one. played by suzanne cryer. but he is -- it is not necessarily one for one.
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he is not, necessarily -- you cannot replace him with anyone. we had to write around that. the second season is the story about what happens to a company. it is them going to the next level. emily: everybody wants to know, is there a good dick joke in this series? i mean, that is -- mike: there is at least one. i think it is a good one. emily: is it as worthy as the one in season one? alec: we love all of our babies. [laughter] it is hard to say which dick joke is better than another dick joke. emily: that is one of the most talked about moments of season one. i feel like it is indicative of how you put the show together because it is technically correct. you did a lot of research on the technical part of things.
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tell me how that came to be. alec: when mike and i first talked about working on the show, what we said is that what we hate are technically incorrect jokes, so we said that -- we vowed from that point forward, if we do dick jokes, they are going to be technically correct. they may not be funny, but they will be technically correct. so far i think we have stayed with that. emily: mike, you are an engineer. you worked in silicon valley yourself. you know about this world. mike: i have fun on that one. we actually, believe it or not, this guy who got his phd after we finished season one was the compression consultant. we asked him, for that dick joke -- we have a lot of technical stuff about the various angles. he went to town on this. it came out of one of the writers. he was completely separately talking about, a discussion with his roommates about how you
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could -- i don't know what you can say on this show. about how you can manipulate four men at the same time. alec overheard this and said, i think we have got it. alec: that is my own personal "beautiful mind" moment. emily: i just got spit on. mike: i am sorry. are you ok? emily: i am fine. very meta. mike: i just did a spit take. alec: they call it a classic for a reason. mike: i will take a real drink of water. emily: you guys do a lot of research for the show. tell me a little bit about that. mike: our stories come from real stories up here. i think we both have a desire to dig in and find out more about the real world and what these people really do. they just kept occurring to us, i do not know what these people
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are doing. i used to program a little bit but i was not building apps and platforms, i was in a test engineering thing. the more we dug in, the more we found. emily: tell me about your time in silicon valley. mike: it was a long time ago. i worked -- my first job up here was for a company called parallax graphics. they made what would be called a gpu now, graphics interfaces. this was in 1987. worked there for a few months. emily: why did you leave? mike: i did not enjoy it too much. i think -- emily: you thought you might write a show about it instead? mike: the movie "office space" was more about why i would leave that job. i don't know, i just wanted to do something else. emily: the hot shows used to be about doctors and lawyers. why write about silicon valley and computer geeks? like, where does silicon valley fit in this arc of entertainment? mike: you do not think these guys are hot? emily: they are worth a billion dollars.
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alec: we asked ourselves that on a daily basis. why did we decide to do a show about people who sit and type all day? and what they do literally 16 hours a day is inherently unfilmable. it is a challeng [laughter] alec: mistakes were made. emily: unsexy. unglamorous. unfunny. alec: it could not be more relevant. you look at the speed at which tech is moving and the role that it plays in our life. mike: hollywood is always very puzzled. when the internet exploded, they tried a movie called "the net," trying to make it sexy and intriguing. and it just was kind of ridiculous. this was an interesting challenge just because, as alec says, it is sort of unfilmable. but that can lead you to do more interesting stuff that has not been done in television. it seems like a good time to take a look at the people who
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are getting rich off of it and building the things that we use everyday. emily: when you ask doctors about "gray's anatomy," they say that it is nothing like that. what do you want engineers to say about "silicon valley"? how important is it to you to get it right? mike: i like it when they say -- we have a lot of people saying that we have gotten it right for the most part. alec: we try to get the technical details right. we do a lot of research and have a lot of consultants that ask a lot of questions. it is mostly the personality types. mike was an engineer and my father was a biophysicist. my brother is a computer guy. his wife works at microsoft. i feel like i know those personalities and he knows those personalities, so it is really about that attitude. mike: i also feel like it is good if we can make the people who work in this world actually laugh and enjoy it on that level. that is good too. so far it seems like for the most part that has been the case. i mean, there are a few haters
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out there. emily: i have to mention elon musk. alec: nice segue. emily: at one point he said, he told "redode," none of those people are software engineers. software engineers are more helpful, thoughtful, and special. i feel like mike judge has never been to burning man, which is silicon valley. have you ever been to burning man, first of all? mike: i have not. he is right about that. alec: he did just last week light a man on fire. emily: that has to count for something. mike: one step at a time. emily: how do you respond to that? mike: elon musk is at the top of the game here. he is not -- he might see things a little differently. you know, i am not ever going to say that elon musk, that i know silicon valley better than elon musk. we are looking for comedy, not to just glorify and put it up on a pedestal.
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emily: mark andreessen is a huge fan. peter thiel, venture capitalist, also a huge fan, even though you might poke fun at him in season one with a guy named peter gregory. i know that some of these people you talk to on a regular basis. who did you talk to make sure you were getting it right? to make sure you had geek cred? mike: lots of people. early on, i didn't -- before this went to series i did not have quite the resources, so one of my best friends from high school, his son is a top programmer at google. a lawyer who has a connection to startups. once we got going we went all over the place. google and facebook and yelp. emily: larry, sergi, and mark zuckerberg, were they happy to talk to you? mike: we have not met them yet.
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alec: we saw that larry and serge were wearing our shirts when they did the ice bucket challenge. mike: they had a houli and a pied piper shirt on. emily: what is your take on the sexism issue in silicon valley? mike: it is kind of surprising to me that it took this long for anything like this to happen. ♪
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emily: i wonder, is it strange critiquing silicon valley from hollywood? which is its own epicenter of anxiety and ego. alec: i think there are actually a huge number of similarities. we pitch pilots, entrepreneurs pitch startups to seed investors. we do season one and they do series a. it feels natural and there is no shortage of ego or pompousness in either business. emily: you often hear entrepreneurs say they are trying to change the world. they are making the world better place.
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what do you think they are doing? mike: some of them are making the world a better place. not to say that hollywood is better. i am sure that the top successful people in hollywood like j.j. abrams and chuck lorre are not saying, my shows are making the world a better place by making people laugh. you just want to make good stuff. it is a different culture. they just have more money up here. that is all. emily: a lot. mike: they do not flash wealth in silicon valley the way they do in hollywood. or at least the way it used to be. alec: it is an interesting code. you cannot drive a car because it is pompous but you can fly 50 friends to france and have a million-dollar party. emily: or burning man, right. your movie, "idiocracy," portrays a world in which people are getting stupider. everything is so easy, and they are lazy. we do not have to drive today
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thanks to uber, we do not have to cook. groceries are delivered by amazon. are we on a path to a real-world idiocracy? mike: yes, probably so. [laughter] mike: i don't know. that -- i would not take that movie too seriously. that is just exaggerating things the way they are. i mean, maybe it is making the world a better place. i like uber. emily: who in tech is most overdue for lampooning? mike: tom perkins. if i can name names. alec: it is funny. because there is so much lag time between when we write the show and when we air, when the show comes on, we write in june and it comes on in april. it is 10 months from when we start writing to win the shows start to hit air. so much of what happens that we want to go after happens after we have written shows but before
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we air. it always feels like there is a stockpile. emily: you're writing history before it happens. mike: sometimes we have gotten lucky -- or unlucky, depending on how you look at it. we do something on the show and in between the time we shoot it and it comes out, it has happened in the real world. emily: what would you like to happen in the real world silicon valley? like, it would power the show for three more seasons? alec: honestly, just keep doing what you are doing. it seems like every time we try to make up what is the crazy next thing, the real crazy next thing happens and is even crazier. emily: in the next season, all the unicorns are going to blow up, and the bubble is going to burst, and you have already written it? mike: we were talking about that. we would take meetings and people would describe deals that have happened. this is like, 50 million users from this app are worth so much. we flipped it. we found ourselves saying, is
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there a giant bubble that is about to burst here somewhere? i would like to see the bubble not burst. that would not be good for anybody. emily: but you think there is one? alec: we wanted it to be hard for them to get money to fund this company, because that is compelling. so we would ask people, what are the reasons that they could not get $10 million or $50 million in funding, and the people we talked to kept saying, there is no reason. we'd say, if you had to make up a reason why, hypothetically, so the show was more interesting, what would that be? no, there is no reason. emily: the show has been criticized for the portrayal of women. amanda crew, who plays the only recurring female character up to this point, has said, we are not trying to change silicon valley, we are trying to be a commentary on silicon valley. do you agree? mike: yes. we are doing satire about it.
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i mean, it's -- i think if we came out with the show and every company was 50% women, 50% men, we would be doing a disservice by not calling attention to the fact that it is 87% male. i think vc firms, partners are 94% male. one of the guys early on that i talked to was a system architecture guy on facebook who said, by the way, there are no women. i said, it is still like that? it was like that when i was here. but i mean, if you're not -- we are doing satire. we are taking jabs at them for it. it is different than endorsing it, i think. emily: have you been following the ellen pao versus kleiner perkins trial? facebook and twitter. what is your take on the sexism issue in silicon valley? mike: it is kind of surprising
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to me that it took this long for anything like this to happen. i mean, it has been male-dominated for -- i am old. i was in it in the 1980's. i am not surprised. engineers, i making a broad statement, but i think a lot of male engineers have this thing about women that goes back to women treating them badly in high school. or something. and maybe there is a little bit of that. alec: anything that is ripe for satire, we have a duty to the show to go after. if we can figure out an inspired way to hit it, absolutely. emily: would you work for amazon studios? would you work for netflix? ♪
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emily: i wonder, how does silicon valley compared to the other things that you have done? "seinfeld," "beavis and
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butthead," office space." mike: "king of the hill," "beavis and butthead," there was no overall arc. i have never done live-action television. i have done movies. when you have 40 crew people standing behind you, you worry about them snickering behind you. alec: season one, it is like if we screw it up nobody will notice. now that people are watching and we have a little buzz, we cannot fail quietly. emily: the entertainment landscape is so fragmented. it is so different from "seinfeld" and must-see tv on nbc. it is different for viewers. how is it different for writers and creators? alec: from the writing side, it does not feel that different to me. you have to do something that is good and make it as funny as you can and you can't listen to people who want to make it something it is not.
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mike: one thing that is different is the nature of hbo of almost no interference from the network. it is helpful when they give us notes. it is not bad. with networks it is just all kinds of notes and things you cannot say. very weird standards. not that i am always trying to be foul mouthed and vulgar. it is just -- doing pay cable is just different. alec: they do not have advertisers. that is a whole -- they do not have to worry about offending anybody. they do not have to worry about, we take money from that airline, so we can't mention that airline. emily: what does hbo care about? what did they say they want from you? mike: they wanted something that seems like -- originally, something that is uniquely yours. your voice. that kind of thing. they have really just -- it has been nothing but let's get you what you want. emily: would you work for amazon studios? would you work for netflix? mike: sure. not for the next year or two. i am under contract.
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[laughter] emily: have you been impressed with what they have been producing? alec: when you're not making that many shows, there is an emphasis on quality because you have to put something out that people are excited about. and for us that is the greatest thing in the world. they want to spend a lot on something and their only stipulation is that it has to be good, sign me up. emily: should comcast be worried? mike: probably. i guess they should be worried. if they are not, they should be. i am sure they are. who knows. emily: what is next for you guys? you having fun? how long do you want to keep doing this show? alec: it is funny. when we wrapped the shoot -- we write for four or five months and shoot for three months and edit for four or five months, and then it is time to start writing again. when we wrap the show, there is this thing going around the crew
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the next couple of days about what the next gig is, and and they always ask us this, and the question is, what are you working on? i am working on this. when i am done working on this, i am going to start working on this again. [laughter] mike: i get two weeks off. alec: it is embarrassing but that is the reality. it takes a year. mike: this is more like doing three movies in a year. that is what it feels like. but it is 10 episodes. that is -- i don't know. it seems like it should feel easier and be easier, but it is not. but i love doing it. emily: when do you start thinking about season three? mike: june. alec: we might be gathering material as we speak. emily: ok. i think we have a good spit up moment that could be written into season three. alec: season three, season of the spit take. emily: thank you so much for joining us. ♪
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♪ betty: he is the country boy millionaire of dish network, charlie ergen. and he is looking to emerge with that guy, the t-mobile ceo john ledger. but the famously tough boss faces questions about his management style. charlie: we have high expectations, and for somebody who is not used to high expectations, you're going to be in trouble. betty: join me and charlie e


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