Showbiz Sandbox 161: Patrick Goldstein On Departing The L.A. Times And Seeing The Big Picture

Entertainment reporter Patrick Goldstein surprised everyone two weeks ago in announcing he was leaving the Los Angeles Times after 12 years. His column, The Big Picture, was a must read for anyone in or just following the industry. Goldstein joins us to discuss his departure from the Times, the state of the movie business and where we might be able to read his work in the future.

If one were to look solely at box office alone, they wouldn’t be faulted for believing the film industry was in dire straits. Though receipts were only down 3% to $4.2 billion this summer, movie attendance dropped to a 20 year low in North America.

Televised sports, on the other hand, isn’t having any trouble attracting an audience. In fact, cable networks can’t seem to pay enough for the broadcast rights to sporting events as ESPN proved by signing a multi-billion dollar deal with Major League Baseball.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why Bruce Willis is mad at iTunes, MTV cancels “Jersey Shore” and how you’ll be able to play, but not hear, Beck’s latest music.

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Showbiz Sandbox 154: Understanding Comic-Con’s Tribe Mentality

Last weekend self-professed geeks made their annual pilgrimage to San Diego for Comic-Con. There’s no better person to speak with about the world’s largest pop-culture convention than Los Angeles Times writer Geoff Boucher. His Hero Complex blog has become a must-read for those attending “the Con” and he fills us in on all the big news coming out of this year’s show.

Boucher also had a professional and somewhat personal relationship with producer Richard Zanuck who unexpectedly passed away last week at the age of 77. The executive behind such films as “The Sound of Music” and the producer of movies like “Driving Miss Daisy”, Boucher provides a unique perspective on what Zanuck was really like.

Meanwhile in the world of television, the war over carriage fees has heated up once again. This time Viacom has pulled its 26 networks from DirecTV and AMC has yanked its programming from Dish.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Bruce Springsteen’s curfew, the exodus of judges from “American Idol” and why you should see the “The Dark Knight Rises” in Imax.

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Showbiz Sandbox 153: Hollywood Loses Another Battle In The Copyright War

Fearing that it would restrict freedom of speech, basic civil rights and an open Internet, the European Parliament voted down the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) last week. The move effectively kills the international anti-piracy legislation that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have lobbied so hard for. We explain what ACTA’s defeat means for Hollywood and what anti-piracy measures you may be hearing about next.

It’s hard to believe piracy is affecting the entertainment industry. Music sales, which have been in a slow decline over the past decade, are actually up this year thanks to digital sales. Movie box office is also up with studios such as Disney having already earned $1 billion in North America alone.

Billion was also a number subscription movie service Netflix has been using a lot lately. Their customers watched more than a billion hours of content in June. That’s not only a new record for the company, but it would make them more popular than any U.S. cable network.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Hollywood’s highest-paid actor, Charlie Sheen’s slipping ratings and why we won’t be seeing “Raging Bull 2” anytime soon.

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Showbiz Sandbox 152: Rupert Murdoch Shows Off His Split Personality

Last week, in-between sending Twitter posts about the break-up of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, News Crop. chairman Rupert Murdoch announced he would be splitting one of the world’s biggest media conglomerates into two different companies; one for the publishing entities, the other for the much more profitable film and television operations. Could the tycoon be trying to focus attention on something other than the ongoing phone hacking scandal he is embroiled in?

Speaking of scandals, Charlie Sheen returned to television with a bang (no pun intended). His new series, “Anger Management” set viewership records for a scripted comedy series. If the first 10 episodes prove to be a ratings hit, FX has promised to produce another 90 episodes.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invited 176 professionals to become members and it looks like they’re becoming more of an equal opportunity group. In fact, they have finally included hair dressers in the makeup category at the Oscars, renaming it Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment news, the “Today” show’s continuing troubles, Arsenio Hall’s return to late night television and the record breaking ratings for Eurocup 2012.

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Showbiz Sandbox 124: UltraViolet Is A Solution In Search Of A Problem

More than 75 companies have teamed up to form UltraViolet, a new service that promises to give consumers the freedom to watch movies and television shows wherever and whenever they want. However, early adopters have discovered that untethering content from physical media such as DVDs can be a tedious and confusing process. As the entertainment industry experiments with rapidly evolving technologies, viewers seem hard pressed to find any benefits in moving to the cloud.

When it comes to music though, fans have already migrated to online services such as Pandora, iTunes and Amazon. Now Google is preparing to launch its own music offering which is rumored to allow users to share music with their friends and family.

And if you thought digital technology was a tough racket, so is trying to copy the success of the hit television series “Mad Men”. NBC failed with it’s 1960s drama “The Playboy Club” and ABC isn’t fairing much better with “Pan Am”, a similar knock-off. They could have picked up Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom, “Anger Management” as a replacement, but FX scooped it up before anyone had a chance.

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

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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