DETROIT -- "Your story is ready to be told. You stir emotion. Create applause. Message delivered!" This simple formula is what producers use to create opening night activities for the North American International Auto Show that takes place annually in the Motor City.
And how about the Democrats? What production-design formula did they use in 2008? No story. No engaging theme. No surprises.
Message delivered: "We don't know what we're doing."
CNN's Anderson Cooper told television viewers at 9 PM, "The first two hours went by without anyone delivering a focused message." He has a flair for understatement. Cooper filled the time talking on air with Wolf Blitzer and Gloria Borger about who knows what. Behind him, the jib camera almost did a 360 as it aimlessly swung back and forth across the Pepsi Center.
Were any exciting, new products introduced during opening night ceremonies? Do you consider John Kerry new? For two hours a reaction-shot camera was trained on Kerry, the senator who lost to George W. Bush in 2004. It's a mystery why producers thought the home audience would be interested in Kerry's reaction to anything.
Ted Kennedy's appearance on stage at 9:30 PM raised the energy level of the arena. The central metaphor in a video about Kennedy's life was his huge sailboat, which obviously cost more than my house. It seemed a little off message, considering the mortgage crisis.
Michelle Obama did a fantastic job delivering her speech. But what did she really say? What did any of the Democrats really say? Bush got a pass. The Iraq war got a pass. The economy got a pass. Unless the production design of this event changes -- and changes fast -- the Democratic National Convention is in danger of giving John McCain a bump in the polls.