Showbiz Sandbox 243: United They Stand – SAG-AFTRA Forges Ground-Breaking Contract

Two years after merging their unions, and with their current contracts set to expire within hours, SAG-AFTRA reached an agreement with studios and producers for a new three-year contract. Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney and contributing editor at the Hollywood Reporter, discusses the proposed deal and what improvements actors managed to secure.

Music sales, on the other hand, aren’t improving at all. Nielsen reports that album and digital download sales for the first half of 2014 are down significantly. Could the increase in on demand music streaming be the cause?

Movies aren’t faring much better so far this year, at least not in North America and Germany where box office is down 12% and 8% respectively. Is something amiss with this summer’s blockbuster releases, or is setting new earnings records every year simply unrealistic?

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including how the characters from “Frozen” are crossing over to television, why cable set-top boxes gobble up so much energy and The Who plan on saying a long, slow goodbye during yet another one of their farewell tours.

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Showbiz Sandbox 143: “Mommy Porn” Is Hollywood’s Hot New Trend

Hollywood studios spent this past week waging a bidding war for a book derived from fan fiction stories on “Twilight” websites. Universal Pictures wound up paying an estimated $5 million for E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey”, an erotic novel that has become a best selling phenomenon despite only being published as an e-book. Producers now must figure out how to handle the graphic sexual content found in titles the media has dubbed “mommy porn”.

Last week also marked the merger of SAG and AFTRA, the unions representing actors. Members of both groups overwhelmingly voted to join forces to create the largest bargaining group in Hollywood. Only time will tell if presenting a united front will give the thespians more power to negotiate better contracts.

Meanwhile, the popular music streaming service Spotify has decided to allow unlimited free listening indefinitely. While this is good news for music fans, how will Spotify, which has yet to turn a profit, pay increased licensing fees to all the record labels?

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Showbiz Sandbox 135: Is The SAG-AFTRA Merger Good For Hollywood?

After years of humoring the idea it looks as if two of Hollywood’s largest labor unions may actually merge. Detailing the history of SAG and AFTRA, Jonathan Handel, a contributing editor at The Hollywood Reporter and an entertainment attorney, explains the reasons behind why the unions might want to merge and what it all means for the entertainment industry.

The telecast of Super Bowl XLVI proved to be another ratings winner and as in previous years, is expected to be the most watched show of the year, if not all-time. Were audiences tuning in for the game or to watch Madonna’s extravagant half-time show?

Despite gaining a million subscribers last year the minuscule royalties paid by Spotify to independent musicians barely budged at all. Some industry veterans have grown weary of subscription music services and are advising they be used for promotional purposes only.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a new CEO at Sony, why you won’t see Bon Iver perform at the Grammys and how Facebook might turn U2’s Bono into a billionaire.

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Showbiz Sandbox 78: The Fight Over Streaming Television Online

As if broadcast and cable networks didn’t have enough to worry about with online streaming offerings from Apple and Google, they now have startups such as ivi.TV to contend with. The company recently launched an online service that retransmits signals from broadcast television stations in New York and Seattle with more cities coming online soon. Though networks and movie studios are trying to shut the company down, its CEO, Todd Weaver, explains that ivi.TV is operating legally under current copyright laws.

Another media company dealing with legal issues is MGM who filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Fortunately the restructured studio won’t have to worry about an actor’s strike since the two unions representing thespians agreed to a new contract with studios and networks. The Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel fills us in on the key deal points as well as what the news means for writers and directors as they begin their own contract negotiations.

This week also marks the return of Conan O’Brien to late-night television as he kicks off his new show on TBS.

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Showbiz Sandbox 22: The Trouble With Indie Films, Roman Polanski and Hollywood Guilds

When the Toronto Film Festival concluded last week only one of its official selections had been picked up for distribution. This touched off a string of articles and blog posts from the likes of Anne Thompson and Roger Ebert on the state of the independent film industry. One of the more interesting blog posts came from indie producer Ted Hope who has produced over 60 films in a career which spans three decades. He joins us on this week’s episode with independent film producer Christine Vachon.

Hope has worked with such filmmaker as Ang Lee, Michel Gondry, Hal Hartly, Todd Solondz, Ed Burns, Todd Field and Tamara Jenkins while producing films like “In The Bedroom”, “The Ice Storm”, “Eat Drink Man Woman”, “The Brother’s McMullen”, “American Splendor”, “21 Grams”, “Happiness” and “The Savages”. His production company This Is That has produced more than 17 films since it was founded in 2002.

Vachon has also produced an astounding number of indie films, including Todd Haynes’ “Poison” and “Far From Heaven”, Larry Clark’s “Kids”, John Cameron Mitchell’s “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, Todd Solondz’s “Storytelling” and Kimberly Pierce’s “Boys Don’t Cry”. Along with Pamela Koffler, Vachon has been running the production company Killer Films for the 14 years.  Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 22: The Trouble With Indie Films, Roman Polanski and Hollywood Guilds

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