Showbiz Sandbox 309: Getting Shutout at Sundance

Anyone who is anyone in the indie film world is presently in Park City, Utah attending this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Of course, it’s impossible to see all the nearly 200 films making their debut at Sundance. As we explain, seeing some of the hottest titles at the festival requires hours of waiting in line for screenings that are often over capacity, thus leaving dozens out in the cold. Literally and figuratively.

Some of the biggest headlines at this year’s Sundance were made by Amazon and Netflix. Though both distributors have previously had a presence at Sundance, this year they went on a buying spree, shelling out big bucks to snap up a number of buzzworthy films. The industry now is watching closely how the distribution of these acquisitions is handled and whether the companies are capable of turning them into financial successes.

Meanwhile, the controversy over the lack of diversity for this year’s Oscar nominations continues to boil over. With talk of boycotts and accusations of racial bias, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced some drastic steps it plans on taking to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, this only caused the debate to become even more boisterous.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Grammy Awards will go live, Bette Midler will be going to Broadway and actress Gillian Anderson balks at being paid half of what David Duchovny makes for the “X-Files” reunion.

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Showbiz Sandbox 278: Grooveshark Goes Down As Periscope Comes Up

Content owners seem to be locked in a never-ending game of legal Whac-A-Mole in an attempt to thwart technologies that enable copyright infringement. Last week record labels managed to shutter the music streaming service Grooveshark and movie studios were granted a court ordered injunction against Popcorn Time, which has been dubbed the Netflix of Piracy. Yet now entertainment companies are concerned about audiences live streaming television shows and movies from their mobile phones using social media apps such as Periscope.

That’s exactly what happened on Saturday during the welterweight title fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao. Some viewers took it upon themselves to beam video of the boxing match by transmitting the pay-per-view broadcast through their phones.

Meanwhile on Broadway, this year’s Tony Award nominations were announced, recognizing the best and brightest new live theatre productions. We’ll give you a rundown of who was nominated and why walking off with one of the prestigious prizes can mean big profits at the box office.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the gigantic opening of “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, a remake of “Roots” and how “Seinfeld” is earning big bucks on subscription video-on-demand.

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Showbiz Sandbox 275: TV Casting Isn’t Just Black and White

Thanks to the success of new shows like “How To Get Away With Murder”, “Black-ish”, “Fresh Off The Boat”, “Jane the Virgin” and, of course, “Empire”, Deadline Hollywood reports this year’s pilot season is experiencing an explosion of minority casting. Networks are now writing roles specifically for ethnic actors and demanding series pilots feature a diverse cast. Though long overdue, the suggestion that the “pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction” ruffled a few industry feathers.

In less controversial news, the Library of Congress announced the 25 recordings it will be adding to the National Recording Registry this year. Among them are classics by The Doors and Radiohead, Broadway cast albums and hits by The Righteous Brothers and Johnny Mercer. There are even a few historical wax cylinder recordings dating all the way back to the 1890s.

And just when you thought the awards season was long over, the New York Independent Film Critics held their annual meeting to select the IRA Film Awards. Our host Michael Giltz was on hand to argue, discuss and vote for the best in movies from last year with a prestigious group that believes they have better taste than all those other awards shows. We’ll go over the list of winners.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including who will replace Jon Stewart as host of “The Daily Show”, the popular television series “Downton Abbey” calls it quits as does Zayn Malik, a now former-member of One Direction.

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Showbiz Sandbox 61: Andrew Garfield Fills Spider-Man’s Reboots

That “Twilight Saga: Eclipse: wound up at the top of the box office over the Fourth of July holiday weekend with $280 million worldwide was not a big shock, however the casting of Andrew Garfield to play Spider-Man in the next installment of the franchise came as a surprise. Entertainment journalist Michael Giltz has been following the 26-year-old actor for several years, but the selection of the unknown had most industry insiders searching for his resume.

In all likelihood the next “Spider-Man” film will be shot in 3D though the format is not a guarantee of box office gold. Just ask M. Night Shyamalan whose “Last Airbender” had a disappointing opening despite being converted to 3D in post-production. Film critic Roger Ebert was not alone in trashing the film.

This week also saw Larry King announce his retirement from the nightly talk show he’s hosted on CNN for 25 years. King’s program has been slipping in ratings recently, as have late night talkers hosted by Jay Leno and David Letterman. But viewership continues to grow on cable television, not to mention on Hulu which will begin offering monthly subscriptions for expanded content offerings.

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