Showbiz Sandbox 278: Grooveshark Goes Down As Periscope Comes Up

May 4, 2015

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

March 30, 2015

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 220: Content Owners Can’t Afford Your New 4K Ultra HD Television

January 13, 2014

Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas manufacturers stirred up a lot of buzz around 4K Ultra HD television sets. The proven and tested technology promises resolution four times greater than current high definition monitors. The biggest hurdle the industry must overcome for Ultra HD to work are the economics, specifically the high cost of delivering 4K content.

For those consumers who have given up on cable and broadcast television, commonly referred to as “cord-cutters”, the good news is they will now be able to watch wrestling via streaming video thanks to the WWE’s new online only network. However, the United States Supreme Court will decide whether they can continue using Aereo to stream local broadcast channels.

Meanwhile, this year’s awards season continues to chug along as the Golden Globes are handed out and the Director’s Guild of America announced their nominations.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus are too sexy for France, the demographics of last year’s Broadway ticket sales and whether a movie critic’s tweets can be used in advertisements.

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Showbiz Sandbox 207: Which New TV Shows Are Hits? Ratings Alone Won’t Tell You

September 30, 2013

The new television season got off to a strong start last week with major broadcast networks celebrating higher prime-time viewership. That is what initial ratings results would lead one to believe, though such figures are increasingly inaccurate. Delayed viewing on DVRs and online has made it more difficult than ever to properly measure viewership in a timely fashion.

Changes are also afoot at the Oscars as the Academy is modifying the way animated films are nominated for Best Animated Feature. Rather than rely on a selection committee, a majority of the organization’s 6,000 members will now be able to participate in the nomination process by viewing films on screeners.

Meanwhile as the film industry moves from celluloid film to digital projection, object based audio is also being adopted over traditional channel based surround sound. Major studios recently made the issue more contentious by mandating any new audio be distributed in a common, non-proprietary format. Will this stifle future innovation in the cinema space?

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why iTunes music purchases have started disappearing, Robocop returns to Detroit (literally) and “Star Wars” fans draft an open letter to director J.J. Abrams about how to make the franchise.

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Showbiz Sandbox 187: Does The Justice System Finally Understand Copyright?

March 25, 2013

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States dealt another blow to copyright owners in a landmark ruling that confirmed what most consumer advocates had been saying for years; the first sale doctrine does not have geographic boundaries. The court smacked down publisher J. Wiley & Sons’ copyright infringement lawsuit against Supap Kirtsaeng for reselling textbooks he had purchased at a discount in his native Thailand.

While major entertainment companies and trade groups like the MPAA and RIAA may have been on the losing end with the Supreme Court, an appeals court handed them a major victory by ruling in favor of movie studios who claimed that the operator of isoHunt, a large BitTorrent site, was inducing copyright infringement. The court agreed isoHunt was not eligible for safe harbor.

Meanwhile the Library of Congress announced 25 new recordings that will be added to its official preservation registry. We’ll fill you in on the grab bag of popular music, radio shows, news reports, opera and other recordings that made the cut.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including NBC’s silly decision to oust Jay Leno from The Tonight Show (again), the booming Chinese box office and “Downtown Abbey’s” record ratings.

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Showbiz Sandbox 171: Cost Of Sports Could Be Cable’s Unbundling

November 26, 2012

The rights to broadcast Major League Baseball games through 2021 were recently scooped up by ESPN for a cool $5.6 billion. That’s nothing compared to the $15.2 billion the network will be paying the NFL for “Monday Night Football” over the next eight years. Now News Corp. has coughed up billions for a stake in the New York Yankees network and are on the verge of paying a rumored $6 billion for the rights to air Los Angeles Dodger baseball games for 25-years. Some cable operators are now saying the skyrocketing costs of sports programming is out of control and unrealistic.

Since we’re talking about billions of dollars, we may as well mention Sony Pictures. Thanks to films such as “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “Skyfall” the studio has taken in more than $4 billion worldwide this year at the box office. Lionsgate isn’t doing too bad either, earning $1 billion with releases such as “Hunger Games” and “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”.

In fact, the North American box office is on pace to set a new record this year, much like the grosses recorded over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The $290 million was a new high for the four day period.

Of course, we also cover all the big entertainment headlines from the past two weeks including the ongoing sexual abuse scandal rocking Sesame Street, the death of actor Larry Hagman and NBC’s big win during the November sweeps.

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Showbiz Sandbox 170: Why Star Wars Is Better Off Without George Lucas

November 12, 2012

Two weeks ago Disney surprised everyone by purchasing Lucasfilm for a pricetag of $4 billion. Like the studio’s acquisition of Marvel in 2009, the move makes perfect sense since Disney can exploit the Star Wars franchise in films, television and theme parks. Given the quality of the prequels, it’s not hard to see why fans were relieved to hear George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars universe, will have a limited role in the sequels Disney plans on releasing.

Speaking of lucrative franchises, the latest James Bond film, “Skyfall” was released to both favorable reviews and huge grosses. The twenty-third installment of the Bond series may earn over $1 billion at the international box office. And all without 3-D ticket surcharges.

Though audiences continue to reject paying a premium for 3-D movies in theaters, consumer electronic manufacturers report that the sales of 3-D capable televisions and Blu-Ray players is on the rise. However just because a TV can play 3-D content doesn’t mean people will take advantage of the technology.

Our former host Karen Woodward joins us for a rundown of all the top entertainment news stories from the past two weeks, including the huge sales figures from Taylor Swift’s new album, Mark Wahlberg signs on for the next “Transformers” film and CBS finally signs up for Hulu.

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Showbiz Sandbox 145: Rise of Playlisters Marks The Death of Music Blogs

April 16, 2012

Last week Doug Freeman, a music critic for the Austin Chronicle, wrote an opinion piece in response to a Hypebot interview in which Sean Adams, the founder of Drowned In Sound, suggested music blogs are no longer influential. Freeman joins us to explain that if blogs were simply gateways to new music discovery, then the streaming playlister is the new music blogger. New influencers and kingmakers will emerge in a shifting editorial landscape.

We also take you to the first weekend of this year’s Coachella Music Festival where more than 150 acts strutted their stuff to an more than 100,000 attendees. Headliners such as Radiohead and The Black Keys proved to be big hits, but Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg stole the show by performing with a picture perfect hologram of the late Tupac Shakur.

“The Hunger Games” continues to feast on the North American box office, but the number one movie in the world this past weekend was “Titanic 3D” thanks to a record breaking opening in China.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Mel Gibson’s public fight with a screenwriter, an extended run for “Game of Thrones” and an anti-trust lawsuit against major publishing houses.


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Showbiz Sandbox 132: Moviegoing Is Alive And Well In The Modern Age

January 16, 2012

According to mainstream media, nobody goes to the movies anymore. However news about the death of movie theaters has been greatly exaggerated according to John Fithian, President of the National Association of Theater Owners. In fact, statistical trends for the last three decades show that movie attendance is actually on the rise. In a discussion that touches on everything from the price of tickets to digital cinema technology, Fithian reveals the truth behind today’s movie going experience.

Meanwhile, the Golden Globes handed out this year’s awards. The big story wasn’t necessarily who won awards, but rather which stars were victims of host Ricky Gervais’ scathing humor. Ironically the comedian managed to steal the spotlight again by being less insulting than last year… go figure!

There is some fresh news about two antipiracy bills making their way through Congress now that the Obama administration says they won’t support them.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Spin magazine intends to review new music releases, a slight delay for the “Avatar” and Hulu’s plan for original content.

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Showbiz Sandbox 119: Thompson On Toronto and Telluride

September 19, 2011

The Toronto International Film Festival has become a mandatory stop for studios opening awards contenders in the fall. The last four best picture winners at the Academy Awards, including The King’s Speech, all played in Toronto. Along with the smaller, cozier Telluride Film Festival, Toronto is where some films first start picking up awards buzz. Anne Thompson, editor of IndieWire’s Thompson on Hollywood, just returned from both festivals and provides a few details to those of us who weren’t lucky enough to go.

The Emmy Awards were held on Sunday evening and once again “Mad Men” and “Modern Family” won top honors. Though many of the award winners were predictable, there were still a few surprises, such as Melissa McCarthy from the sitcom “Mike & Molly” walking off with lead actress in a comedy. The Emmy telecast itself however was a bit of a “train wreck”.

Netflix continued to top headlines this past week after their stock price plunged 19 percent upon lowering their subscriber projections. Apparently their higher prices have scared off potential customers and caused a few to abandon the video rental service. Now Netflix has announced they will split their business in two, renaming the DVD-by-mail service Qwikster.

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