Showbiz Sandbox 295: Thompson Keeps Tabs On Telluride and Toronto

September 21, 2015

Two of the world’s most prominent film festivals are held each September in Telluride and Toronto and, without fail, you’ll find Anne Thompson, Indiewire’s editor-at-large, dashing off to both of them. Thompson gives us a feel for what both festivals were like this year, which films created the most awards buzz and which she thinks audiences should be looking forward to.

Thompson also joins us to discuss this year’s Emmy winners. The premium cable network HBO proved it is still at the top of its game, fending off the stiff competition of hot new shows being produced by upstart streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. The network wept away the Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Limited Series categories, winning 14 awards in all.

Meanwhile, in case that seems destined to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal judge ruled that copyright owners must take into account the possibility of fair use before sending a takedown notice. Rather than force possible infringers to mount what is known as an affirmative defense, the court is placing the burden on copyright holders to consider whether a work should be considered fair use.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the new over-the-top and mobile streaming services being offered by the BBC and Epix, one of the creators of Batman will finally get the credit he has long deserved (though maybe not the money) and Denzel Washington will produce ten August Wilson plays for HBO.

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Showbiz Sandbox 184: How Authors Rig The Bestseller Lists

March 4, 2013

When Soren Kaplan’s “Leapfrogging” was published last summer it immediately appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s list of best-selling business books, a position that would be maintained for only a week. That was more than enough time for Kaplan to cement his status as a best-selling author which, in-turn, helps him land lucrative speaking and consulting gigs.

That is precisely why Kaplan hired a marketing firm to purchase copies of the book upon publication to assure it would appear on bestseller lists. During an interview with the Journal, Kaplan reveals how authors buying their way onto the bestseller list is a dirty little secret the publishing industry would prefer you not know about.

Dreamworks Animation is not being completely honest either. They took huge write-downs on their most recent release “Rise of the Guardians” and faulted the film’s weak performance as the reason for laying of 400 employees. However many question whether the company’s decision to move some of their production to China may have more to do with it.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including the best yearly music sales since 1999, the end of Daily Variety and whether NBC is looking to part ways with Jay Leno (again).

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Showbiz Sandbox 109: Making Grammar Fun (And F*cking Funny)

June 27, 2011

When Chris Baker isn’t working on Madison Avenue for a big advertising firm, he is creating some of the world’s most exclusive websites… literarily.  TheWorldsMostExclusiveWebsite.com only lets verified celebrities and big wigs past the home page. His website M. Night School is crowd-sourcing enough funds to send director M. Night Shyamalan back to film school. Baker joins us to discuss his latest effort, “The Elements of F*cking Style“, a book that, unlike the one it parodies, employs sex, drugs and swearing to help teach readers proper English grammar.

After this past weekend, Baker may want to send Pixar back to film school. “Cars 2”, the company’s highly anticipated sequel to their blockbuster “Cars”, was given a drubbing by critics. However, critical acclaim may not matter for a film that earns $2 billion a year in merchandising.

At least nobody’s forcing you to see “Cars 2”. That might not be an option in China where the government is “suggesting” that everyone see “Beginning of the Great Revival,” a propaganda film disguised as a historical epic detailing the founding of China’s Communist Party.

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Showbiz Sandbox 99: How To Fix Hollywood’s Obsolete Residual Payments System

April 11, 2011

Labor and contract negotiations are a constant concern in Hollywood. Entertainment attorney Jonathan Handel is a contributor to The Hollywood Reporter and has written a book about the industry’s labor disputes,  “Hollywood on Strike!: An Industry at War in the Internet Age“. The book grew out of his coverage of the labor unrest that began with the 100 day Writers Guild strike leading to turmoil in all union negotiations over the next two years. Handel proposes a new formula for residuals that could help avoid future strikes.

Blockbuster, the beleaguered video chain which filed for bankruptcy protection last year, was auctioned off to Dish Networks.  How the acquisition will benefit the satellite television provider remains to be seen.

The Grammy Awards are getting trimmed down as they cut more than 30 categories and combine a number of others.  Music industry professionals are split over whether the changes will help the awards show.

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Showbiz Sandbox 77: It’s Official – Hollywood To Make Nothing But Sequels

November 1, 2010

With the seventh installment of the Saw franchise and Paranormal Activity 2 topping this week’s box office, it’s not hard to see why Hollywood studios have been greenlighting sequels and prequels. They range from high profile titles such as “The Hobbit” and “Avatar”, to questionable projects such as “Top Gun 2”. Don’t even get us started on the prequel to Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas”.

If big budget Hollywood movies aren’t your thing, you could always stay home and watch television, provided the broadcast networks don’t get into a carriage dispute with your cable provider and black out their signal. Fox did just that to Cablevision subscribers recently and we’ll explain why. Meanwhile, Conan O’Brien prepares for his new late night talk show with a Rolling Stone interview.

During Big Deal or Big Whoop we provide analysis of the week’s top entertainment headlines, including Charlie Sheen’s latest trouble, a new hit for AMC and a film based on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Our Inside Baseball discussion focuses on why consumers prefer to rent digital movies rather than purchase them.

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Showbiz Sandbox 76: Taking On The Hobbit And Ticketmaster Down Under

October 25, 2010

Our friends Down Under generated a lot of entertainment news this past week. In New Zealand a union boycott of “The Hobbit” may cause Warner Bros. to relocate the production to another country. Director Peter Jackson has publicly opposed such a move, but as the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel explains, this may just be Warner Bros. way of negotiating better government tax subsidies.

Over in Australia, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has launched Foxtix, a live event ticketing service aimed at capturing a share of Ticketmaster’s business. Taking on Ticketmaster is a difficult and expensive fight, but Adam McArthur, the head of Foxtix, fills us in on how the company will differentiate itself in the market.

Former Australian native and current Hollywood pariah Mel Gibson was all set to make a comeback with a cameo in “The Hangover 2”, but Warner Bros. decided he was just too much trouble and opted for Liam Neeson.

Meanwhile, in television news the Fox network pulled its programming from Cablevision’s channel lineup over a retransmission fee dispute. Don’t worry, Cablevision’s customers were still able to follow the baseball playoffs through Twitter posts from the Federal Communications Commission. Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 44: And The (Six) Oscars Go To… “Hurt Locker”

March 8, 2010

The ballots have been counted, the envelopes have been opened and the nominees have undoubtedly returned their ball gowns and tuxes. Finally, after all the news coverage and public speculation about who would this year’s Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences put us out of our misery on Sunday during their annual awards ceremony. The proceedings lasted more than three hours as usual and provided very few surprises.

Katheryn Bigelow made history by being the first woman to win the Best Director Oscar for “The Hurt Locker”, which won six awards in total including Best Screenplay and Best Picture. Jim Cameron’s “Avatar” won three technical awards for art direction, cinematography and visual effects. One of the night’s biggest surprises was when Geoffrey Fletcher walked off with the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for “Precious”, upsetting Jason Reitman’s “Up In The Air”.

As we predicted on last week’s episode, Jeff Bridges won Best Actor for “Crazy Heart”, Sandra Bullock won Best Actress for “The Blind Side”, Mo’Nique won Best Supporting Actress for “Precious” and Christolph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor for “Inglorious Basterds”. Damien Bona, co-author of the book Inside Oscar, stops by to help us analyze this year’s Oscar results. Read more

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