Showbiz Sandbox 236: Getting Sleep At This Year’s Cannes Film Festival

May 19, 2014

It’s the middle of May so that must mean it is once again time for the Cannes Film Festival, one of the most anticipated and prestigious annual events of the international film industry. This year’s Festival du Film is stocked with titles by auteurs considered to be the world’s crème de la crème. Whether it’s a selection from festival favorite Ken Loach or a timely political movie from Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako, we’ll tell you all about the films that have been hits with the critics and attendees.

Meanwhile, cable and broadcast networks held their annual upfronts in New York last week to announce which series we’ll be watching next season (and which ones they’ve cancelled). The question is with most of the networks moving toward year round programming, are upfronts still an effective method to sell advertising.

The Federal Communications Commission finally published their open internet notice last week managing to please just about nobody. This comes as media companies continue to consolidate with AT&T announcing their plans to purchase satellite TV provider DirecTV.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including this year’s Eurovision Song Contest winner, labor disputes at the Metropolitan Opera and Conan O’Brien’s contract gets renewed.

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Showbiz Sandbox 232: Coachella Goes Over The Top, Figuratively and Literally

April 14, 2014

In its 15 year history the Coachella has grown from a two day event with a couple dozen bands to one of the world’s most important music festivals with so many VIP luxury amenities that some have argued the high-priced perks have begun overshadowing the actual music. At the same time, Coachella organizers have made it easier than ever for stay-at-home-fans to catch their favorite artists by streaming the whole first weekend live on YouTube.

Speaking of VIP entertainment experiences, there is a brewing battle over premium large format screens at multiplexes all over the world. You might know these types of auditoriums as IMAX, though not for long if your local cinema chain has anything to say about it.

Since it’s tax time here in the United States we uncover a few stories about how movie, television and theatre productions are not only skipping out on their taxes, but in fact getting huge subsidies courtesy of the tax man in most states.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Stephen Colbert’s move to replace David Letterman, the motion picture Academy’s new high profile curator and James Cameron’s complaints about the latest blockbuster movies.

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Showbiz Sandbox 224: How Leno’s Departure Will Affect Late Night and Los Angeles

February 10, 2014

When Jay Leno signed off as host of “The Tonight Show” last week he left late night television and the city of Los Angeles in different states than when he first began the job 22-years earlier. Scott Collins, TV reporter for the Los Angeles Times, discusses the legacy Leno leaves behind in a late night landscape that now includes two dozen shows, along with what “The Tonight Show’s” move to New York City means for L.A. production jobs.

If you weren’t one of the more than 14 million viewers tuning in to Leno’s last late night stints, then maybe you’re watching the Winter Olympics. Networks such as NBC in the United States are making it easier to stream the Olympic Games online… sort of. The catch is that you must already be a subscriber to cable or satellite television services.

Meanwhile the Berlin Film Festival is currently taking place in Germany though the person making most of the headlines at the event is an actor who claims to no longer be famous. Can you guess who it is? (Hint: It’s Shia Labeouf).

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including singer Clay Aiken’s run for seat in Congress, Fox puts an end to the “X Factor” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers get called out for miming their Super Bowl halftime performance.

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Showbiz Sandbox 138: Lessons Learned At This Year’s Oscars

February 27, 2012

Predicting who will win Academy Awards each year isn’t as easy as it looks. Just ask IndieWire’s Anne Thompson. She managed to pick 19 out of 24 winner’s at this past weekend’s Oscar ceremony, but there were a few categories which had everyone guessing. Thompson takes us backstage on Oscar night and explains how easy it is for someone covering the awards season, like herself, to over think how Academy voters will respond when ballots are cast.

Meanwhile, Google filed applications last week to become a cable television provider in Kansas City. What remains to be seen is whether the tech giant can obtain enough programming to attract customers.

Maybe Hollywood will welcome Google with open arms as they have with the glut of streaming video providers all vying to license premium content. Ironically, the industry seems to be ahead of the curve on a new technology they hope will make up for falling DVD sales.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a new book from J.K. Rowling, Barbara Streisand’s new record deal and how advertising at movie theaters is being taken more seriously.

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Showbiz Sandbox 90: Pick Up Artists Score At Sundance

February 1, 2011

The Sundance Film Festival was held in Park City, Utah over the past two weeks and word is that this year’s official selections were well worth the trip. Just back from the festival, Anne Thompson of IndieWire’s Thompson On Hollywood blog fills us in on all the buzzworthy films and why so many of them were picked up for distribution. Could it be the death of independent film has been greatly exaggerated?

After winning top prizes at the Director’s Guild and Screen Actor’s Guild over the weekend “The King’s Speech” has overtaken “The Social Network” as the favored Best Picture Oscar winner. More often than not Academy members follow the guild’s lead when doling out trophies in major categories, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a few surprises in store.

Netflix continues to do battle with HBO, not only over the networks own content, but also over Warner Bros. films. Meanwhile, rumors abound that Amazon may soon be joining Netflix in the video streaming business.

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Showbiz Sandbox 79: A New Social Music Chart To Rival Billboard?

November 16, 2010

Media measurement company BigChampagne believes that ranking songs and musicians based on radio airplay and record sales is an antiquated method. Joe Fleischer, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, explains how they’ve added social platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Pandora into the mix to create the Ultimate Chart, a new music chart giving industry heavyweights Billboard and Soundscan a run for their money.

Speaking of media metrics, the biggest entertainment launch in history occurred last week and it wasn’t a James Cameron movie. In fact, it wasn’t a movie at all, but a video game. “Call of Duty: Black Ops” earned  a record setting $360 million in its first day alone.

If that’s not strange enough for you, the biggest headlines coming out of the Country Music Awards may not have been from winners Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton or even the red hot Taylor Swift. Instead it was actress Gwyneth Paltrow who performed the title song from her upcoming movie “Country Strong”. Paltrow proved she can really belt out a tune, though whether that helps rehabilitate her career or image remains to be seen.

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Showbiz Sandbox 78: The Fight Over Streaming Television Online

November 8, 2010

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 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 73: Handicapping This Season’s New TV Shows

September 28, 2010

With the new television season already underway our hosts debate which of the new series will get a full season order from the networks and which won’t make it to October. Will the revival of “Hawaii Five-O” make the cut? What will be the first show to get canceled? Let the arguments begin.

Oliver Stone got passing grades this week with “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”. The sequel to his iconic 1987 film topped the box office with just over $19 million. Of course, if Hollywood studios have their way, video-on-demand might start being included in opening weekend numbers. In an effort to supplement sagging DVD sales, the studios are planning to offer movies via premium VOD shortly after their theatrical release. At $25 per film audiences may just be willing to wait a few months.

Meanwhile, shares in Netflix soared when Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy, though the DVD-by-mail powerhouse may be facing some stiff competition as it migrates to a movie streaming business model.

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Showbiz Sandbox 70: Digital or Bust – The Future of Reading

September 6, 2010

It seems a new electronic reading device is released every week. It’s no wonder the sale of e-books has begun to outpace traditional print copies. Ryan Chapman, the online marketing manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, talks about how the industry is dealing with the new technology and in certain instances, using it to their advantage.

Print editions are no longer a problem for Josh Jackson, the editor-in-chief of Paste Magazine. He discusses the recent decision to suspend print publication of the indie pop culture magazine.

In the television world, everyone seems shocked that the latest cast of “Dancing With The Stars” included the likes of Bristol Palin, the daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. They must be putting quotation marks around the word “star” in her case. Maybe her participation will cause politicos to rent a few episodes on their new Apple TV.

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