Showbiz Sandbox 279: “Carol”, “Amy” and “Saul” Stand Tall At Cannes

May 18, 2015

It is impossible to see all the films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, but halfway through the 68th edition at least three films have scored some positive buzz, all of them about tortured souls. Director Todd Haynes is leading the pack with “Carol” a film about repressed sexuality set in the 1950s, the Hungarian entry “Son of Saul” set in a Nazi concentration camp and “Amy” a powerful and moving documentary about the life of singer “Amy Winehouse”.

From the official screenings to the behind-the-scenes press conferences, we give you all the ins and outs of this year’s Cannes, including the world premiere of Pixar’s “Inside Out” which wowed attendees. Join us for our annual trip to the south of France.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, television networks have been busy selling advertising for next season’s lineup at the upfronts. We’ll tell you which shows got canceled, which new series got picked up and whether the television season has become year round.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the BAFTA TV Awards, David Lynch heads back to “Twin Peaks” again and “American Idol” sings its final note.

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Showbiz Sandbox 169: How TV Networks Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The DVR

October 29, 2012

Major networks used to bemoan the use of DVRs out of fear that audiences would use them to skip over commercials. However, with DVRs in almost half of all US homes, they have begun touting the big audience increases some of their shows get after factoring in time shifted viewing. Scott Collins, a television reporter with the Los Angeles Times, discusses modern-day TV ratings and how the industry is coping as viewing habits change.

And if you thought television networks were in trouble, they’ve got nothing on the film industry. If you were to believe folks like film critic David Denby and a recent New York Times article, movies may not even be relevant anymore.

Talent agencies aren’t immune from all the changes affecting the industry. Last week the longtime head of ICM Partners, one of the world’s largest ten percenteries, announced he’d be leaving to start a new agency.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how a child sex abuse scandal at the BBC, the merger of publishing giants Penguin and Random House, and an Amy Winehouse musical.

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Showbiz Sandbox 116: Will Hollywood Miss Steve Jobs?

August 30, 2011

Last week’s news that Steve Jobs was stepping down as the CEO of Apple caused headline writers all over the world to work overtime. Sure Jobs became a household name by helping revolutionize personal computing, but he also helped shape the modern entertainment industry with products such as iTunes, the iPod and the iPad. And we shouldn’t forget his role in founding a little animation company called Pixar. We discuss what Jobs departure from Apple means to Hollywood and why some entertainment execs may be secretly relieved to see him exit the stage.

On the other hand, news that filmmaker Ridley Scott was working on a sequel to his sci-fi masterpiece “Blade Runner” didn’t seem to please anyone. Some showbiz pundits went so far as to call the idea “catastrophically bad”. We’ll explain why.

Over in the world of television, one of the husbands on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” committed suicide causing Bravo to re-edit episodes for the upcoming season. Will the death of Russell Armstrong cause networks to rethink how they handle reality television?

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Showbiz Sandbox 113: Hollywood Studios Think Twice About Comic-Con

July 25, 2011

Attendance at this year’s Comic-Con was higher than ever. Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times and Alex Billington of First Showing were in San Diego last weekend sitting in on, if not moderating, panel discussions with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Francis Coppola and “Game of Thrones” cast members. In filling us in on all the highlights they explain why some studios skipped this year’s festivities and why next year’s convention is set to be the biggest Comic-Con yet.

There was also some sad news this past weekend as we learned about the untimely death of soul singer Amy Winehouse at the age of 27. The troubled young singer battled with drug addiction since rising to stardom in 2006 and her death raises the question over what responsibility the entertainment industry has in helping artists with drug or alcohol problems.

There was better news on Broadway where at least three recent shows turned a profit with even more shows about to follow suit. Even the much-hyped disaster “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” is shaping up to be a financial success.

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Showbiz Sandbox 105: The Dark Truth About Digital Cinema

June 1, 2011

When Ty Burr, film critic for The Boston Globe, noticed that the films he was seeing didn’t appear as bright as they usually do he did a little investigating to figure out why. What he discovered, and documented in a recent front page article, is that some major theater chains are leaving moviegoers in the dark by regularly misusing digital projection equipment. Burr joins us to explain why this is happening and what cinema patrons can do about it.

Meanwhile, the market for streaming music online hasn’t cooled off. Apple is about to announce a service the company has dubbed iCloud and it is rumored that Facebook may integrate Spotify into its website. It seems more people are listening to more music than ever before. That may be why the Coachella Music Festival is doubling down and expanding the event to two weekends next year.

Oprah Winfrey ended her long-running talk show last week and nearly 17 million people tuned in to watch. Yet that audience pales in comparison to the 28 million viewers that watched the final episode of this season’s “American Idol”. That’s nearly a 20% increase over last years finale.

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Showbiz Sandbox 34: Hollywood’s Box Office Billions Set New Record

December 21, 2009

We are joined this week by two of the film industry’s top box office pundits, Paul Dergarabedian of and Daniel Frankel of They help us understand how the North American box office surpassed $10 billion in 2009 while releasing few films during an economic recession. Of course, we also touch on “Avatar’s” opening weekend box office and the worldwide spin it’s distributor claims makes the film a huge hit.

But we promise this week’s episode won’t be entirely about Avatar! We also discuss the untimely death of actress Brittany Murphy and the rumor mongering it set off among online tabloids. The Golden Globe nominations were announced mid week. Were there any surprises? What about snubs? Which noms will carry over to the Oscars, and what can be done to get audiences to actually watch the Oscars?

There’s also a ton of television and music news, such as the rumor that Simon Cowell might leave “American Idol” (oh no!), the list of next year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees (ABBA!) and an old Rage Against The Machine song beating out this year’s winner of “X Factor” on the U.K. singles charts during Christmas week (huh?!). Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 14: Zooey Deschanel Proves It’s Twee To Be You And Me

August 3, 2009

First off, we took care of a little internal business by welcoming entertainment journalist Michael Giltz as an official co-host.

Alonso Duralde joins us this week. Alonso is the film critic at and the author of “101 Must-See Movies for Gay Men“. His reviews are featured regularly on The Rotten Tomatoes Show. A member of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, Alonso spent six years as Arts & Entertainment editor at The Advocate where he is still a contributing writer. His work has also appeared in such publications as the Village Voice, Movieline, Detour among many others. This month Alonso will be curating a the series “So Bad They’re Brilliant” at the American Cinematheque. You can follow him on Twitter at @MSNBCalonso.

We asked Alonso to join us because of a story he wrote for called “Do You See What I Twee?”, as it related to the latest movies. He described the essence of twee as “avoiding the fashionable, the obvious, the predictable, the mundane in an attempt to be, for lack of a better phrase, showily unshowy…It’s about replacing one calculated technique of visual and cultural cues with another.” It’s an apt description of one of the more popular movies out this summer, “(500) Days of Summer,” and its lead, Zooey Deschanel. We also just love saying the word “twee.” Read more