In an otherwise festive occasion, Netflix COO Ted Sarandos struck a somber note while being honored on Monday night by the Museum of the Moving Image. He paused to remember Anton Yelchin, the 27-year old “Star Trek” actor who was killed when his car crushed him against a security fence on Sunday. Yelchin was working with Netflix on Guillermo del Toro’s animated series “Trollhunters” at the time of his death.
“He was just a great guy and a super talent,” said Sarandos.
The gala for the Astoria museum also honored comedian and late-night host Seth Meyers. Meyers used his time on stage to rib Sarandos over Netflix’s refusal to share viewership statistics on its shows.
“I asked Ted Sarandos, ‘What would you give this night on a scale of one to 10,'” he said. “And Ted said ‘We don’t release numbers.'”
CNN’s Tapper saluted Meyers’ “generosity” and “willingness to evolve and take direction.” He also praised him for not falling into the Jar Jar Binks trap, a reference to the much loathed “Jamaican frog” character that appeared in George Lucas’ “Star Wars” prequels. Tapper explained that Binks’ inclusion was an example of when celebrities became too isolated and self-obsessed to listen to others. Taking a swipe at the competition, he joked that it was when someone failed to tell former NBC News anchor Brian Williams not to tell “self-aggrandizing war stories.” Williams was suspended last year and stripped of his anchor desk in the wake of a scandal over misleading statements he made about his time covering the Iraq War in 2003. He was subsequently assigned to MSNBC.
Sarandos said he was happy to support the Museum of the Moving Image, because the organization focuses on the art of television and cinema, rather than focusing on the way it is delivered to audiences. Netflix has drawn a lot of attention for the way it plays with business models. The company often forgoes movie theaters to release its films directly to subscribers and debuts all the episodes of its television shows at the same time so customers can binge watch.
The museum doesn’t get mired in these debates, Sarandos implied, arguing that it instead serves as a celebration of “the different ways we use technology to express ourselves.”
Sony Pictures Classics’ Barker, whose company releases movies the “old-fashioned way,” hailed the Netflix executive as a “visionary” who had upended the entertainment industry.
“He’s fearless,” said Barker. “He takes on all detractors.”
Kutcher noted that Sarandos was willing to take bets on talent. “The Ranch,” the actor’s new Netflix comedy, originated from a pitch that Kutcher developed with a buddy and a series of spirited text messages with Sarandos.
“He gives you the power to be a creator,” said Kutcher. “He trusts you. If my show’s bad, it’s on me. But if it’s good, that’s on Ted.”
Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.