Showbiz Sandbox 345: Awards Season Kicks Off With the Proper Spirit

November 28, 2016

Despite an endless debate as to precisely when the movie awards season begins each year, everyone agrees that the Independent Spirit Awards are one of the more important events. Though not all of the indie films honored by the Spirit Awards will go on to be nominated for Oscars, each year’s nominees provide a list of worthwhile movies on which to catch up.

With 2016 entering the homestretch Hollywood movie studios have begun releasing titles they hope will win big awards or big box office… or both. Disney continues to fire on all cylinders with it’s latest animated release “Moana” as well as “Doctor Strange” minting money during their record breaking year. And “Star Wars: Rogue One” is still a month off.

Meanwhile the media fallout from the U.S. presidential election continues to make headlines, not all of which are accurate. In fact, Facebook and Google are making efforts to crack down on fake news stories as news organizations begin to look at the role they played in recent political events.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including this year’s International Emmy Award winners, why television networks aren’t canceling this season’s failing shows and animator Hayao Miyazaki comes out of retirement to make another movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox 342: Box Office Growth in China Begins to Fizzle

October 31, 2016

Hollywood has been talking up China’s explosive box office growth for years and the country is forecast to surpass North America as the largest movie market in the world as early as next year. However, the growth in China is slowing with ticket sales down 10% this year from last year’s figures. Ryan Faughnder, a staff writer with the Los Angeles Times, stops by to explain some of the reasons for the decline and what it means for major studios.

Faughnder also gives us the lowdown on how some studios, specifically Lionsgate, are turning to YouTube stars in search of their next big hit. Warner Bros. and Disney have similar efforts underway, though none have found the secret to success in transforming online talent into mainstream stars.

Meanwhile politicians and investment analysts have publicly expressed their concern over AT&T’s acquisition of TimeWarner. Some have gone so far as to say the deal can lead to “a whole bunch of different horribles for consumers”. For their part, AT&T is trying to assuage fears by moving head with its virtual cable plan.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why the creator of “Mad Men” signed with Amazon for his next series, why viewership of two popular sports has decreased significantly and how the pop group ABBA is reuniting for a live performance… sort of.

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Showbiz Sandbox 341: AT&T Deal For Time Warner Makes Vertical Integration Trendy Again

October 24, 2016

Last weekend, in a sudden and unexpected deal, telecommunications giant AT&T agreed to buy the media conglomerate Time Warner for $85 billion. As its current offerings become more commoditized AT&T is looking to add content to its portfolio through picking up Time Warner, a company that counts among its assets networks such as HBO and CNN, not to mention Warner Bros. Pictures. However, this marriage is far from certain will surely come under the scrutiny of antitrust regulators.

As awards season gets underway, studios have begun releasing some of their high profile title in hopes of going after Oscar glory. Historically, that meant opening arty films in a limited number of cinemas before going wide after gaining word of mouth. We explain why that’s happening less often these days.

Meanwhile, the Wanda Group is inviting all of Hollywood, and frankly anyone producing film and TV, to its new movie studios in Qingdao, China. They are offering a 40% incentive in hopes of luring productions to the multi-billion dollar facilities, but will anyone take them up on it?

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including why Bob Dylan might not be interested in commenting on his recent Nobel Prize award, why the “Deadpool” sequel lost its director and Garth Brooks signs an exclusive deal to stream his music on Amazon’s new service.

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Showbiz Sandbox 340: Bob Dylan Is A Poet and We Didn’t Know It

October 18, 2016

When Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature last week there were cries of joy and jeers of contempt over the decision. Music Journalist Sal Nunziato joins us to ponder whether Dylan’s work is in fact literature. He explains why, out of all the musicians that could have received such an award, it had to be Dylan.

Nunziato explains who out of this year’s 19 nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should actually get in. Will Kraftwerk finally make the cut? Joan Baez seems like a no-brainer and nobody would be shocked if Pearl Jam makes it through on their first attempt, but what about bands like Depeche Mode and hip-hop stars such as Tupac Shakur?

Meanwhile, there’s never been more ways to listen to music thanks to streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Now Amazon has entered the world of music streaming and hopes that soon every song request begins with the word “Alexa.”

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including an expansion of the latest Harry Potter franchise, Billy Bush reaches a settlement to depart “Today” and Netflix gives comedian Chris Rock a huge payday.

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Showbiz Sandbox 115: Record Industry Wages A Quiet War Over Song Rights

August 15, 2011

When the United States copyright law was revised in the mid-1970’s a little-known provision was included that lets musicians and songwriters reclaim ownership of their recordings after 35 years. Artists such as Bryan Adams, Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Tom Petty and Tom Waits are set to regain control of their recordings starting in 2013 thanks to these “termination rights”. Rather than lose control of works worth millions of dollars, New York Times culture reporter Larry Rohter discusses how record labels plan to fight the provision in court.

Also picking a fight is Disney, which halted production of “The Lone Ranger” which was to star Johnny Depp and be directed by Gore Verbinski. Does pulling the plug on Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest blockbuster mean that Depp will refuse participate in another “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel?

AMC has had its fair share of scuffles lately. After numerous disputes with the creators of their hit shows, AMC has become not only one of the most acclaimed cable networks in recent memory, but also one of the most troubled.

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Showbiz Sandbox 95: The Media Is Charlie Sheen’s Worst Enabler

March 7, 2011

It’s hard to believe that we’re writing headlines about Charlie Sheen for the second week in a row. Alas, the actor went on a whirlwind media campaign let the world know he was ready to go back to work on his hit sitcom. Mainstream media reveled in an endless supply of Sheen’s erratic and manic behavior, portraying him as a deluded, drugged out narcissist.

Eric Deggans, the television and media critic for the St. Petersburg Times, stops by to discuss his NPR commentary piece on how mixed-race couples are portrayed on network television. However, we get sidetracked when news arrives that Sheen has been fired from “Two And A Half Men”.

During Inside Baseball we are joined by Andrew Wallenstein of PaidContent (and soon Variety) who explains why movie studios should start a war over premium video-on-demand.

We also cover all the week’s top entertainment news including Google’s rumored music service, “American Idol’s” ratings dominance, Courtney Love’s Twitter lawsuit and Oprah’s struggling cable network.

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Showbiz Sandbox 92: The Awards Otherwise Known As The Grammys

February 13, 2011

Indie rock darling Arcade Fire provided an upset at this year’s Grammy Awards by taking home the prize for Album Of The Year. Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild helped write the Grammy telecast and he provides an insider’s perspective on the show as well as a peak backstage. Unfortunately, nobody can explain why Lady Gaga arrived in a glass coffin.

Teen pop sensation Justin Bieber didn’t take home any Grammys on Sunday, but does he really care? After all, his concert film “Never Say Never” earned an astonishing $30 million during its opening weekend.

Meanwhile, the movie industry had their own awards show over the weekend and we’ll go over who the big winners were at the BAFTAs and how they might affect the Oscar race.

We also review and provide analysis on all the week’s top entertainment headlines, including how to get tickets to LCD Soundsystem’s last concert, Pandora’s IPO, Zooey Deschanel’s move to television and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to acting.

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Showbiz Sandbox 89: The Rising Fortunes Of Lady Gaga

January 24, 2011

Lady GaGa may be well on her way to earning more than $100 million dollars this year. With a new album and a world tour, Zack O’Malley Greenburg, a staff writer at Forbes, believes the pop star has the potential to become one of 2011’s highest paid musical performers. Greenburg stops by to help us do the math on Gaga’s ever increasing fortunes.

One event which won’t be contributing to Lady Gaga’s income is the Coachella Music Festival. Coachella, which is held in Southern California every April, anounced its lineup for this year’s event and Gaga isn’t on the bill. Even so, this year’s fest is overstuffed with acts you don’t want to miss and Los Angeles Times pop critic Ann Powers fills us in on all of them.

Meanwhile, MTV has a new hit on its hands with “Skins”, but advertisers and parents groups are protesting the show over its portrayal of teenage sex and drug use. At least three big advertisers have already pulled their support of the show. Over on Fox, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have joined a revamped “American Idol”, which despite dropping 13% in the ratings still managed to beat out all its competitors.

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Showbiz Sandbox 49: Hollywood Experiences Premature Sequalization

April 12, 2010

Have you ever wondered why movie studios love to make sequels of hit films? Well, these studios don’t even wait for a film to be released before announcing its sequel. Steve Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times fills us in on the sequel culture that has taken over Hollywood.

Meanwhile, the king and queen of television, Steve Carell and Tina Fey, nudged “Clash of the Titans” out of first place at the box office with their new release “Date Night”.

While Fey may be making a move to the silver screen, the big news of the week was happening in television – cable television no less. Oprah Winfrey announced five new shows that will air on her cable network starting next January, a lineup that left some industry-watchers befuddled. Another TV personality following Oprah onto a cable network is Conan O’Brien. He surprised just about everyone by announcing he would be starting his own late night talk show this fall on TBS.

While analyzing the week’s top entertainment news stories including how celebrities are using Twitter these days. We finish off with a little Inside Baseball in which we try and understand why anyone would want to buy Miramax or MGM.  Read more

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