How To Tackle Leisure Time During A Recession

Online movies and TV shows are significantly cheaper than going to the movies. Janine Basinger, chair of the film studies department at Wesleyan University, and Bill Tancer, author of Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters discuss books, movies and TV shows that may help people get through the economic downturn.

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LYNN NEARY, host:

This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Lynn Neary in Washington, Neal Conan is away.

Congress may have passed an economic stimulus package but a lot of us still aren't ready to celebrate. We're taking a wait-and-see attitude to this economic situation. And while we're waiting, we're trying to figure out what to do with ourselves. Do we plunk down a bundle of money at the local Cineplex or do we stay home and watch TV or DVD, read a book or surf the Web? Just what are we in the mood for these days? We'll find out. What's you're favorite book, movie or TV show that's helping you weather this recession? Give us a call. Our number here in Washington, 800-989-8255. The email address is talk@npr.org, or join the conversation on our Web site, npr.org - click on Talk of the Nation.

Later, an extreme makeover from Martha Washington. But first, the next in our occasional series Your Life in a Recession, we'll explore leisure time in a recession. What's getting you through the dark days of this recession? And with us on the line now from Beverly Hills, California is Janine Basinger. She chairs the film studies department of Wesleyan University. Good to have you with us.

Ms. JANINE BASINGER (Chairperson, Film Studies Department, Wesleyan University, California): Thank you very much.

NEARY: So, Janine, would you say that the movies people go to see change during difficult economic times?

Ms. BASINGER: Well, you know, it's hard to answer that, because today people have so much control over what they can see and what they want to see, and we tend to keep comparing that question back to the Depression or to World War II when they had a more limited choice. But, yes I think that they want films - well, basically people always want the same thing from the movies - good, cheap, available. And you know, Hollywood can usually deliver on two of those - cheap and available, but not always on good. But people either want escape or they want reassurance, and so it's kind of fundamental to the same thing that goes on all the time, really, with movie-going.

NEARY: I think the - I'm not going to remember them all, but among the top five, the box office this past week and I think the number one was "Friday the 13th" a sort of a...

Ms. BASINGER: Teenage slasher movie.

NEARY: Teenage slasher movie. A couple of romantic comedies, those kinds of films - can we construe anything from that or would those movies have been doing well anyway, do you think?

Ms. BASINGER: They would have been doing well anyway, because the remake of the slasher horror movie is a tried and true format for the teenage or young moviegoer, and they're the people who go out to the movies the most. So, that is a name, "Friday the 13th," that has a pre-sold, built-in, you know, audience guaranteed. Romantic comedies are date movies and those are the other people who go out constantly to the movies. Now, whether those two romantic movies will last at the box office or not, you know, they probably won't, because word of mouth tends to kill these things off. But the slasher movie, that's going to go a few weeks because, you know, it just seems that people like slashing, no matter what's going on.

NEARY: You know, one of the romantic comedies - I haven't seen it but I'm assuming it was a romantic comedy - is "Confessions of a Shopaholic." That is a romantic comedy, isn't it?

Ms. BASINGER: Well, if the romance in your life is shopping, yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BASINGER: I would say yes. But I think so, yes. That's the big if, is how are people going to react to a movie about shopping when, you know, you presumably don't have any money to shop. I mean, that's an interesting question. The thing is, people like to see goods in the movies. They want to see clothes and furniture. There's always an audience for that type of thing. So, maybe it will go, maybe it won't. But there's a fundamental thing that people always forget. A movie really has to be good for people to go in big numbers. It's got to be good. People have to want to see it. They have to see it come out and tell the friends, go to that, I liked it.

And that was never more true than now, when people can control so much of what they're seeing. You know, you can go on the Internet, you can go to your Blockbuster store, you can go to your TV where you have old movies, new movies, old TV shows, new TV shows, National Geographic, news, sports, music. You know, the audience has choices. And so, if this movie doesn't get good word of mouth, if it doesn't work, they're not going to go, no matter if they are losing all their money at the bank and they want to see somebody else buying stuff.

NEARY: All right. We're going to take a call now. We've got Marina(ph) on the line from San Antonio, Texas. Hi, Marina.

MARINA (Caller): Hi.

Ms. BASINGER: Hi, Marina.

NEARY: Go ahead.

MARINA: I like watching "Dexter" during the recession, because he's a serial killer and he experienced a traumatizing thing when he was a kid that made him that way and he goes through that and lives his life well, and I know we could survive the recession if he could make the best (unintelligible). It's kind of a metaphorical. If he can survive his traumatization then we can survive our recession problem.

NEARY: OK. Marina, I'm having a little bit of hard time hearing you but I think it's an interesting though slightly odd choice if he can survive by becoming a serial killer...

MARINA: Well, that's an excellent solution for all of us, I'm sure.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. BASINGER: But, you know, it makes a good point, which is escape is escape, you know? You define it on your own terms, and a character who's living outside the norm and doing things that you can't do can be a reassuring figure. I mean, it's - everybody describes, you know - escape is personal for people, and to be good escape it's got to connect to something that the audience feels or believes in.

And it can go in any direction, it doesn't have to be mindless, either. During World War II, people went in huge numbers to films about combat and World War II because it was on their mind. It was reassuring to them to see stories in which it turned out OK or in which at least they could kind of empathize or connect to maybe what their loved ones were going through in combat. They wanted to know about it. They wanted see it. So, you know, it's really tricky when you start defining these things, unless you want to oversimplify, people find what they want to find in movies, and nowadays there are so many choices, so many different kinds and...

NEARY: Well, I want to - speaking of choice. I want to bring in another guest, because what gives us the most choices, of course, these days is the Internet. And Bill Tancer is general manager of global research at Hitwise. And they're an online service that tracks Internet trends. And he's joining us from our bureau in New York. Good to have you with us, Bill.

Mr. BILL TANCER (General Manager, Global Research, Hitwise): Thanks for having me, Lynn.

NEARY: So, what are you tracking right now? What kinds of sites are popular, the most popular right now?

Mr. TANCER: Well, there are the intuitive sites that are increasing in traffic, sites like financial news. We see big increases, about 20 percent year over year, and visits to sites...

NEARY: Now, that's not escapist.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. TANCER: That's not escapist at all. You know, sites like Yahoo! Finance and Google Finance, definitely increases there. But when you back up a little bit and look at the sample that we track, which is about 10 million Internet users in the U.S., some of the segments that are increasing are a little counter-intuitive. Celebrity gossip tends to be up significantly over the previous year. It's doubled since last year and quadrupled over the last two years. And I think that represents one of the areas of escape or diversion a lot Internet users are engaging in.

Ms. BASINGER: Was that a trend before the recession? Increasing news about gossips going up, up, up or has it started with the news of the recession?

Mr. TANCER: That's a great question. It was a trend but I think it was in its infancy before the economy really started to go bad. One of the things that we studied, we did a little analysis for Forbes Magazine and we looked back in August, 2008, segmented our sample just for the most affluent households, and what we found is if you looked at those affluent households, the top sites they visited were their brokerage accounts, sites like eTrade and Schwab and Merrill Lynch. Then, if you forwarded that sample or that view to August of 2008, all of a sudden those brokerage sites started to drop down to the bottom and we saw sites like Perez Hilton and TMZ, celebrity blogs, at the top of the list.

NEARY: I suspect people got easily distracted from their (laughing) Schwab accounts?

Mr. TANCER: Exactly, not for...

NEARY: Too much going on with Paris Hilton.

Mr. TANCER: And that particular segment is really interesting, you know, it probably had the most to lose in that drop in the Dow that happened in the fall were the ones who were putting their heads in the sand and engaging in diversion or activity versus going to those sites to check their portfolio value.

NEARY: On the other hand, another site that I understand is popular, the sites that are popular now are gambling sites which...

Mr. TANCER: That's true. Yeah, we've seen online gambling go up as well. Now, all gambling sites are not created equally. It's kind of interesting, we can segment gambling by a number of different activities. We've seen visits to state lottery sites increase. We've seen the traditional online casinos increase while poker sites or poker betting sites have actually decreased over these last couple of months. So, there does seem to be a difference in online gambling activity, but when you look at - in the aggregate we're seeing an increase.

NEARY: Alright. We're talking with Bill Tancer. He is the author of "Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters." Also with Janine Basinger, chair of the film studies department at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. And we'd like to hear from you. We'd like to know what you're doing with your leisure time in a recession, what your favorite book, movie or TV show that's helping you weather the recession. Give us a call at 800-989-8255 or send an email to talk@npr.org. And we're going to take a call now from Peggy(ph) and she's calling from Napa Valley, California. Hi, Peggy.

PEGGY (Caller): Hi. Well, I'm catching up on episodes of "Big Love." I subscribed to Netflix so I can comfortably lay on my couch and watch "Big Love," and for me, it's pure escapism.

NEARY: Yeah, what's so escapism about - escapist about "Big Love?" I'm a fan as well, but why did you find...

PEGGY: Somebody else's problems.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: And you find it realistic or just...

PEGGY: No, I don't find it realistic at all. So, I just - it's just entertaining, and to hear and see the problems they have, mine are just - it's just pure escapism for me.

NEARY: Alright. Thanks so much for calling, Peggy. But, Peggy...

PEGGY: Yeah.

NEARY: Brings up the subject of Netflix and I wanted to ask you about that, Bill Tancer. How's Netflix - how's business doing for Netflix and other movie rental sites?

Mr. TANCER: In terms of online visits, Netflix is actually doing really well. We're seeing an increase for Netflix, a little over 10 percent over these last couple of months. Now, before I came on, I did a little analysis and I checked Netflix against movie directory sites, sites like moviefone where you might go to check the movie times of your local theater. Those sites actually down. So it looks like, in terms of Internet users, we're preferring to rent videos online rather than actually going to a movie and paying for a movie.

PEGGY: It's cheaper.

NEARY: What about watching TV or movies on the computer? Are they watching on the computer or...

Mr. TANCER: Yes, they are. You know, one of the things I just wrote about in my Wall Street Journal column was about the site Hulu, which has also seen a pretty significant increase, mostly people watching sitcoms. There's about a 20-minute limit factor, seems like the amount of time people are willing to spend online watching a video.

NEARY: Alright. We're talking about movies and the Web and what is television serving up in this recession. We'll get to that next, and your calls. What's your favorite book, movie or TV show? What's helping you weather - that is helping you weather this recession? Give us a call at 800-989-8255. I'm Lynn Neary. It's Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

NEARY: This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Lynn Neary in Washington. In better times, you know, about a year and a half ago, you could find shows like "Flip That House" and "My House Is Worth What?" all over cable TV. Now, as fortunes changed, so do many of the TV shows we watch. But change comes slowly to TV. We'll talk more about that in a moment. Our focus this hour is on your leisure time in a recession, part of our series about how the economy is affecting your life. What's your favorite book, movie or TV show? The book, movie or TV show that's helping you weather this recession. Give us a call. Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255, and our email address is talk@npr.org. And you can also join the conversation on our Web site npr.org, click on Talk of the Nation.

Our guests are Janine Basinger, she chairs the film studies department at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and Bill Tancer, he tracks trends on the web for Hitwise and he also wrote a book about it called "Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters."

We've heard about what's going on in the movies and on the Internet. How is television responding to this recession? Joining us now to talk about that is Ginia Bellafante, TV critic for the New York Times. Thanks for being with us, Ginia.

Ms. GINIA BELLAFANTE (TV Critic, New York Times): Thank you, Lynn. NEARY: So, are the TV studios looking at this economic situation and creating new programs in response?

Ms. BELLAFANTE: You know, we have to assume that we are, because television does like to reflect its era. The crash has happened too recently for us to be seeing the fruits of these created efforts yet. However, in a real sort of moment of fortuitous timing, TNT, which is a basic cable network, was ready to go with something that was obviously planned a long time ago called "Leverage," which made its debut in December. And it's a one-hour drama which stars Timothy Hutton as a sort of avenger of financial fraud and corporate malfeasance. So, it's just very funny to see this happening now. And, you know, someone obviously who's either anticipating this or just had this idea and the series is turning out to do extremely well...

NEARY: Somebody was reading the Wall Street Journal very carefully.

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Yes.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: What about a show like "Damages"? That has a little bit of that in it too, doesn't it?

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Yeah. "Damages" is really, again, had a funny prescience, because when it debuted in 2007, it revolved around the prosecution of an Enron-type CEO named Arthur Frobisher who was played by Ted Danson who had built his company's pension fund. And the entire plot, you know, revolved around a lawyer trying to nail him, a very, sort of amoral lawyer, but again it was a revenge, a corporate revenge fantasy.

NEARY: Now CBS, which hasn't been doing very well in recent years, is suddenly doing pretty well in the ratings.

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Yes.

NEARY: How do you explain that?

Ms. BELLAFANTE: CBS, which is always considered the sort of stodgier network, not young, not youthful, not hip, has really been sort of having a renaissance with the police procedural, primarily a series called "The Mentalist" which stars the Australian, an Australian actor who had been a psychic fraud on talk shows. He would pretend to be able to connect people with the dead, to be able to solve crimes with his psychic abilities. You know, he comes clean that he's totally been a fraud, in the meanwhile his family members have been murdered and he goes to work as a detective as a kind of payback, really, for his fraudulence, and is very, very successful because he is actually just intuitively very, very gifted.

These episodes wrap up in one hour, they are purely episodic, they do not make certain demands of the viewer that shows with long, you know, and complicated narrative arcs like the HBO dramas make. So, we sort of understand this as kind of comfort food television, you can really get into the show for an hour, not think about anything else.

NEARY: What about something like "Lost," are those kinds of series where...

Ms. BELLAFANTE: "Lost," you know "Lost," is so complex. It still does very well, it's still popular and it is certainly escapist, but you really, you need to be focused when you're watching it, you can't be distracted with your own dwindling...

NEARY: And it's been losing some viewers hasn't it?

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Yes.

NEARY: Yeah. I have an email here from Julian(ph) from Little Rock. She says, I'm really enjoying the new show from the L.A. director J.J. Abrams, "Fringe." It's based on the far-fetched segment of science called "fringe science" and it's just as addicting as "Alias" with turns in every episode that keep me coming back every week. It has given me something to turn to now that "Heroes" has started to become less and less entertaining. So...

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Yes.

NEARY: There's another vote for J.J. Abrams.

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Yeah. "Fringe" is another, you know, conspiracy theory, complicated conspiracy theory show that again, you know, certainly demands your attention. It's done very well and certainly because of J.J. Abrams has benefited from a lot of buzz.

NEARY: Alright. Well, we're going to take a call now, want to got to Scott(ph), he's calling from Flagstaff, Arizona. Hi, Scott.

SCOTT (Caller): Hello.

NEARY: Hi. Go ahead.

SCOTT: Hi, I actually enjoy epic fantasy, even though my wife makes fun of me all the time for it. And Steven Erikson really does it for me because a guy can read him and be gone from this world and that's what I like.

NEARY: Have you always like that or are you particularly finding yourself wanting to read it now at this particular time?

SCOTT: Probably more now, just because it really is just a complete take-me-away-from-this-world. So, a little bit more now and - although I've liked it for five or six years now.

NEARY: Alright, well thanks so much for calling, Scott.

SCOTT: You're welcome. Thank you.

NEARY: Great. We're going to take another call now. We're going to go to Travis(ph), and Travis is calling from Lansing, Michigan. Hey, Travis.

TRAVIS (Caller): Hey, I actually really enjoy the online game World of Warcraft.

NEARY: Well, tell us a little bit about that. Why do you like it?

TRAVIS: Well, in World of Warcraft you have a lot more control over your own success. The more work you put into the game, the more you get out of it and so, unlike the real world, you can actually see the fruits of your labors rather than watch them evaporate.

NEARY: And do you find yourself playing the game more now?

TRAVIS: Oh, yeah. Right about when the recession started it was when a friend of mine actually started getting me into the game and I found myself being more entertained by that, it than worrying about anything else that's going on here in the Motor City area.

NEARY: (Laughing) OK. Oh, you live, that's right, in the Motor City area. Alright, well, thank you very much for calling in.

TRAVIS: Thank you.

NEARY: Let me ask you about that, Bill Tancer. Games like World of Warcraft and other computer games like that, going up on popularity?

Mr. TANCER: They are. I can't comment specifically on World of Warcraft because of a lot of that traffic happens outside on a private network, but I can tell you that visits to fantasy games - the other category of online games, the non-betting games that are up are those simple games like solitaire, things that you may find on a site like Pogo, we find traffic to those sites increasing as well. So, that's yet another diversionary activity that we think is increasing because of where we are today.

NEARY: Right. And I wanted to ask you, Janine, we were talking earlier with Ginia about TV shows that were sort of prescient about the way things are going. I wanted to ask you about the movie "The International," which is a movie about a really bad bank (laughing).

Ms. BASINGER: Yes. Well, it would have been in the works, of course, for quite a while as she referred to the turn around time, not being able to get things ready so quickly but starting to get it ready. I think they had a piece of good luck having that. Of course, bankers and banks have always been ready villains in the movies, going back to Frank Capra movies even in the 1930s. But that movie isn't doing too well at the box office and it didn't get good reviews. So, it's fortuitous that they came up with a plot we can all identify with, but again, it needs to be good to compete with everything else. Notice all the Internet things, the games, the betting, the television, there is so many choices for people, that actually getting up and going out to see a movie, you know, is the hardest kind of form of escapism probably that there is. You can sit home and do so much else.

NEARY: Plus you have to spend so much money for it with you, to get all that popcorn and soda and everything (laughing).

Ms. BASINGER: Still cheap compared to theater or going out for dinner or to a sports...

NEARY: That's true. Let's go to Barbara. She's calling from Fort Myers, Florida. Hi, Barbara.

BARBARA (Caller): Hi.

NEARY: Go ahead.

BARBARA: Well, we have found a lot of enjoyment in watching some of the old movies on Turner Classic Movies. There is just something very relaxing to just go to a movie that you know how it ends, everything turns out all right. There's nothing deep and dark and sinister and...

NEARY: So, you're saying you're like re-watching movies, not just the old movies but because you like - you know how the movies going to end, so you're like re-watching movies you've already seen?

BARBARA: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, Cary Grant is just Cary Grant, and he's always one of those - the economy can collapse but Cary Grant will never collapse.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NEARY: That's a good way of putting it (laughing). Alright, well thanks so much for your call, Barbara.

BARBARA: You're welcome.

NEARY: Alright. Now, we're going to Violet, Violet is calling from Georgia. Hi, Violet.

VIOLET (Caller): Hello, Lynn. I just wanted to say that I understand that somebody, the enormously talented late Peter Ustinov. Do you remember Peter Ustinov?

NEARY: I do, yes.

VIOLET: So clever. Somebody made, I assume about his book, "The Old Man and Mr. Smith." Have you ever read it?

NEARY: No, I haven't.

VIOLET: It's enormously funny and a very unappreciated, very talented gentleman was Peter Ustinov. And I'm telling you, Lynn, if I used belong to an hors d'oeuvre club, and if you want to laugh so hard that your ribs hurt, I suggest your listeners get hold of "The Old Man and Mr. Smith" by Peter Ustinov.

NEARY: All right.

VIOLET: Don't laugh, Lynn - you ever heard of the English children's book writer Beatrix Potter?

NEARY: Mm-hmm.

VIOLET: Treat yourself to the complete series and get your friends to put on an English accent and everybody read two paragraphs and pass it around at your next cocktail party, you will laugh so hard.

NEARY: Now Violet, are you putting on an English accent for me right now, Violet?

(Soundbite of laughter)

VIOLET: But didn't you love Peter Ustinov?

NEARY: Oh, back in the day - well, yes I do.

VIOLET: So, clever and so unappreciated.

NEARY: Well, thank you so much for calling, Violet.

VIOLET: Bye-bye.

NEARY: Charming talking to you. Well, I think we have old movies here are one of the things that people are really getting into, I think, Janine Basinger.

Ms. BASINGER: Yes, I definitely think so. They - ones that you've seen before, you're glad to look at again, and ones that you missed, on Turner Classic Movies they're available or at your DVD store, whatever. And people do find the quality of the old films and the stories to be reassuring, old genre forms they're familiar with, stars that they love and feel comfortable with. And those really make great escapist routes even though the films themselves may be sad or end sadly or, you know, whatever, they become really great sources of escape because they're familiar and they're brilliantly done, many of them.

NEARY: Ginia Bellafante, what about TV, what about old TV shows?

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Well, you know, the '70s were a high mark for very realistic shows about difficult economic times. Obviously, you know, we were in the middle of a gas/oil shortage and a terrible recession, and Norman Lear was a kind of one-man factory for the genre with shows like "All in the Family" and "Good Times," which was set in, of course, in a Chicago housing project. And the theme song which, it's hard to imagine a theme song quite like it today, you know, talks about easy-credit ripoff and, you know, tough life in the projects and he found comedy in the difficulty, let's say, of getting health care when you have no insurance. And we that might see something like that again, something that sharp and witty and relevant, we hope.

NEARY: Great. If someone has got a cell phone there, maybe you can turn it off. (Laughing) So, it was interfering a little bit with what Ginia was just saying there. And I do want to remind people that your are listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

All right. We're going to take a call now from Joe, and Joe is calling from Zanesville, Ohio.

JOE (Caller): Yes, good afternoon. Thank you for taking my call.

NEARY: Go ahead.

JOE: I was calling to say I like the show "24," particularly this season, because of the character Jack Bauer's search for corruption within the government.

NEARY: Ah-ha. So that seems relevant to you at this moment.

JOE: Yes, it does...

(Soundbite of laughter)

JOE: Very relevant.

NEARY: All right. Well, thanks for your call, Joe.

JOE: Thank you.

NEARY: So, it seems like people find escapism interestingly not so much just from movies or TV shows that are comedies but also from movies and TV shows that might have some relevance to what's going on in the world at this moment, you know, corruption or fighting corruption or fighting bad banks, things like that. Ginia?

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Yeah. You know, "24" has taken a sort of self-reflective turn this season. It was maligned last season, really for kind of dramatically falling apart and for its elevation of torture of, you know, many people thought that it really made torture seem reasonable and feasible. Now, the problem with this season is that there's still a lot of provocation and unsavory interrogation practices, but the twist this season is that the enemy, you know, is not a Middle Eastern terrorist group but an actual corrupt U.S. government.

NEARY: All right. Let's take another call now from Zora(ph). She's calling from Powell, Ohio. Hi, Zora.

ZORA (Caller): Hi!

NEARY: Go ahead.

ZORA: I would just like to say that one of the TV shows that helps me feel better about this recession is the TV show "Ugly Betty."

NEARY: Why is that?

ZORA: Well, it's sort of about this kind of Plain Jane who works at a fashion magazine and the end she befriends her office - her office manager who is like a Casanova kind of type and, you know, it just shows that a lot of what matters is what's on the inside as opposed to what's on the outside, which is kind of a reassuring moral in this tough times.

NEARY: All right. Well, thanks so much for calling.

ZORA: No problem.

NEARY: And I just want to read an email here from Frances. She's calling from, she's writing from Anchorage. It says, what I'm reading during economic storm, "Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life" and "In the Markets" by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. One of the works' central themes is that in American culture, including academic and Wall Street, the role of luck - good and bad - has been grossly underestimated and that the data simply do not support the widely-held belief that America's rich got there through brains and hard work.

I think that's a good thought for the moment, to reassure ourselves that it's not all our fault that we're in a situation we're in. And I wanted to ask you, Bill Tancer, about one other thing about what people are doing online, and that is, as I understand it, a lot of people going to job sites.

Mr. TANCER: Of course, and that's one of the intuitive things that we see is that there is a lot of traffic going to job sites. I found it really interesting that a look at the click stream of job sites, and that - when I say click stream I mean where people are coming from and where they go to when they visit a job site. And I was looking for escapism or diversionary activity there and what I found is one area that we haven't talked about yet, and that is social networking. About 2.5 percent of all people leaving a job site go to their favorite social network, MySpace, Facebook. A lot of that could be explained by people actually networking to find a job, but I think a bit of that is also trying to get away, talk with friends.

NEARY: And of course social networking is just going crazy right now...

Mr. TANCER: Exactly, it's still increasing at a very rapid rate.

NEARY: All right. Well, thanks so much for joining us today, Bill.

Mr. TANCER: Thank you.

NEARY: Bill Tancer is author of "Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters" and he is the general manager of Global Research at Hitwise, that's an online service that tracks Internet trans. We also spoke with Janine Basinger, chair of the film studies department at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. And Ginia Bellafante, TV critic for the New York Times. Thanks to all of you for being with us.

Ms. BASINGER: Thank you.

Ms. BELLAFANTE: Thank you.

NEARY: Coming up, Martha Washington gets a makeover - why she might not be the frumpy first lady of our history books. Stay with us. I'm Lynn Neary. It's Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

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