Showbiz Sandbox 199: Comic-Con and Hollywood Is A Match Made In Nerdvana

Hollywood movie studios are no stranger to Comic-Con, the world largest pop-culture convention attracting 140,000 fans to San Diego each summer. For years they have showed up with new titles hoping to drum up pre-release buzz, though at times such calculated marketing moves have backfired in spectacular fashion. Even so, Entertainment Weekly’s Geoff Boucher says audiences always welcome Hollywood back to the Con with open arms.

Boucher gives us an inside look at this year’s event, filling us in on which movies, television shows and events were huge hits (or misses) with fans. Did the announcement of a film pairing of Superman and Batman go over well with the crowd? Was everyone surprised to see a trailer for the “Veronica Mars” movie.

Last week also saw the Television Academy announce their nominations for this year’s Emmy Awards. The big news was the Netflix series “House of Cards” which earned 14 nominations and marked the first time a show will vie for an Emmy without having aired on broadcast or cable networks.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a public spat over Spotify streaming royalty rates, Keith Olbermann’s return to ESPN and a summer of big box office flops.

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Showbiz Sandbox 164: Geoff Boucher Knows More About Nothing Than Anyone

Geoff Boucher shocked the entertainment and media industries when he announced his resignation from the Los Angeles Times in mid-September. After all, Boucher has been credited with pioneering a new model for entertainment writers by melding print publications with both an online brand and live events; a format he’s dubbed “tradigital”. Why wouldn’t the Times want to keep him around. (They actually did).

Boucher spent 21 years at the paper, earning a stellar reputation as an entertainment feature writer and ultimately the editor of the Hero Complex, a blog covering all aspects of pop culture. In a wide ranging interview Boucher, who says he knows more about nothing than anyone, discusses his departure from the Times, how he landed at Entertainment Weekly less than a week later, and what his future plans are.

Meanwhile, the best and brightest talent on North American television was honored this past weekend at the 64th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards. We’ve got a rundown of all the winners and a recap of the awards ceremony.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including an update on Universal Music’s purchase of EMI, electronic voting at the Oscars and how Major League Baseball is selling off its television rights for billions of dollars.

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Showbiz Sandbox 160: Shedding Some Light On High Frame Rate Cinema

In case you haven’t heard, Peter Jackson is shooting his upcoming adaptation of “The Hobbit” at 48 frames per second (fps). That’s twice the standard 24 fps most films are filmed and shown in. Digital cinema expert C.J. Flynn explains why filmmakers such as James Cameron are urging the industry to adopt high frame rates (HFR). While HFR has its benefits, Flynn highlights the many technology hurdles that need to be overcome before it becomes the norm.

DreamWorks Animation is undergoing changes of its own. The studio signed a new deal with Twentieth Century Fox to release their films after the expiration of their current agreement with Paramount Pictures.

Late-night TV also had some big news last week with ABC announcing it will move Jimmy Kimmel’s show to 11:35 pm, competing directly with Jay Leno and David Letterman. What does this mean for the late shift and more specifically, for the long running news program Nightline, which will be pushed back an hour.

Of course, we cover all the week’s top entertainment news including Amazon launching the Kindle in India, Taylor Swift proves she has staying power with her latest single, and NBC’s “The Office” comes to an end after nine seasons.

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Showbiz Sandbox 154: Understanding Comic-Con’s Tribe Mentality

Last weekend self-professed geeks made their annual pilgrimage to San Diego for Comic-Con. There’s no better person to speak with about the world’s largest pop-culture convention than Los Angeles Times writer Geoff Boucher. His Hero Complex blog has become a must-read for those attending “the Con” and he fills us in on all the big news coming out of this year’s show.

Boucher also had a professional and somewhat personal relationship with producer Richard Zanuck who unexpectedly passed away last week at the age of 77. The executive behind such films as “The Sound of Music” and the producer of movies like “Driving Miss Daisy”, Boucher provides a unique perspective on what Zanuck was really like.

Meanwhile in the world of television, the war over carriage fees has heated up once again. This time Viacom has pulled its 26 networks from DirecTV and AMC has yanked its programming from Dish.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Bruce Springsteen’s curfew, the exodus of judges from “American Idol” and why you should see the “The Dark Knight Rises” in Imax.

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Showbiz Sandbox 136: Crafting A Story For The Grammys Through Triumph and Tragedy

Los Angeles Times entertainment reporter Geoff Boucher was on assignment at the Grammy Awards when he heard about the the sudden death of pop star Whitney Houston over the weekend. While still covering music’s biggest night, Boucher was given two hours to write Houston’s obituary for the Sunday paper.

At the same time, David Wild was backstage at the Grammys putting the finishing touches on his script for the telecast. A contributing editor at Rolling Stone and best-selling author, Wild had less than 24-hours to work with Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich and revise the awards in the wake of Houston’s passing.

After an exhausting weekend Boucher and Wild join us to discuss how this year’s Grammys focused on two voices; one looking to the future with Adele winning six awards and one honoring the past by mourning the fresh tragedy of Houston’s death.

A whopping 40 million people watched this year’s Grammys telecast, though if we were to believe Nielsen few of them were under the age of 24. Brian Stelter of the New York Times stops by to explain why young people are watching television less often.

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Showbiz Sandbox 113: Hollywood Studios Think Twice About Comic-Con

Attendance at this year’s Comic-Con was higher than ever. Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times and Alex Billington of First Showing were in San Diego last weekend sitting in on, if not moderating, panel discussions with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Francis Coppola and “Game of Thrones” cast members. In filling us in on all the highlights they explain why some studios skipped this year’s festivities and why next year’s convention is set to be the biggest Comic-Con yet.

There was also some sad news this past weekend as we learned about the untimely death of soul singer Amy Winehouse at the age of 27. The troubled young singer battled with drug addiction since rising to stardom in 2006 and her death raises the question over what responsibility the entertainment industry has in helping artists with drug or alcohol problems.

There was better news on Broadway where at least three recent shows turned a profit with even more shows about to follow suit. Even the much-hyped disaster “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark” is shaping up to be a financial success.

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Showbiz Sandbox 84: A Black List Every Screenwriter Wants To Be On

Since 2005 Hollywood studio executive Franklin Leonard has compiled an annual list of the industry’s “most liked” unproduced screenplays. Dubbed The Black List, past selections have gone on to win Academy Awards (“Juno”) or be turned into critically acclaimed films (“The Social Network”). Leonard talks about the project he began on a whim and how it has grown to a point where it can help launch a screenwriter’s career.

Also joining us on this week’s show is Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times. Boucher explains how he recently broke two big stories in the film world. His first scoop was about filmmaker Jon Favreau who, after helming the first two installments of the Iron Man franchise, has opted not to direct “Iron Man 3”. Instead he’ll make a big budget film about Disneyland. That’s right… Disneyland. Meanwhile, Boucher also spoke at length with director Ron Howard who is working closely with author Stephen King to adapt the writer’s “Dark Tower” series for the big screen.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association had many in Hollywood scratching their heads this week after they announced their Golden Globe nominations. Exactly how (or why) they nominated an action film such as “The Tourist” in the Best Musical or Comedy category is anybody’s guess.

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Showbiz Sandbox 64: Buzzing About Comic-Con, Digital Comics and E-Books

Geoff Boucher of the Los Angeles Times, Alex Billington of First Showing and Anne Thompson of indieWIRE all attended the 41st annual Comic-Con. They stop by to fill us in on all the the movies and television shows that managed to generate a lot of buzz (as well as a few that fizzled). We recap the pop-culture convention’s highlights and breaking news items.

Of course, before Comic-Con invited movies and television shows to the party, it used to be about buying and selling comic books. However, as Alex Pham of the Los Angeles Times informs us, physical comic books may be an endangered item thanks to the growing popularity of digital comics. These newfangled comics have animation, sound effects and narration. Pham also explains how e-books are changing the future of how and what we read.

E-books were the source of major controversy in the publishing world this past week. Literary agent Andrew Wylie announced he would bypass traditional publishing firms and form his own digital publishing company to release e-book versions of his client’s work, including out of print work from the likes of John Updike and and Philip Roth. Rachel Deahl, senior news editor at Publishers Weekly, tells us why this move was so controversial within the publishing industry.

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Showbiz Sandbox 40: Taylor Ain’t Swift At The Grammys

The highlights of this week’s entertainment news were the Grammys and Sundance. First though, there was “Avatar”, “Avatar”, and more “Avatar”. The 3D wunderkind was number one at the box office again and has sold roughly 56 million tickets in North America so far. “Titanic” sold roughly 128 million admissions in North America, so if “Avatar” did that, it would gross about $1.2 billion in the U.S alone.

But there is more going on in the entertainment world besides “Avatar”. The music world gathered for the Grammys on Sunday, January 31. Geoff Boucher from the Los Angeles Times and David Wild, one of the writers on the Grammy telecast, join us to discuss the hits (Pink’s performance), the misses (Taylor Swift and Stevie Nicks) and what was going on backstage (Alice Cooper hangs with Smokey Robinson).

The Grammys weren’t the only prizes handed out over the weekend. Sundance announced its festival winners and Alison Willmore, a senior editor at IFC.com, stops by to talk about her favorite festival films and a few she recommends skipping. Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 40: Taylor Ain’t Swift At The Grammys

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Showbiz Sandbox 24: How To Get A Hero Complex

Our special guest this week is Geoff Boucher, full time entertainment writer for the Los Angeles Times and part time Wookiee. Geoff began the popular L.A. Times blog, Hero Complex, devoted to caped crusaders, zombies, wizards and all things superhero. With a tag line that reads “for your inner fanboy”, Hero Complex has quietly become a huge hit and recently won the award for best online commentary among large websites from the Online News Association.

Over the last week, Geoff wrote a series of posts on the blog that look at film franchises entering their fourth turn on the silver screen, including “Lord Of The Rings”, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Spider-Man”, and “X-Men”. (Check out the reader poll: ‘The Hobbit’ Will Triumph But ‘X-Men’ and ‘Pirates’ Franchises Should Quit Now)

Meanwhile, at this weekend’s North American box office, moviegoers made “Couples Retreat” the number one film, followed by “Zombieland” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”. The big surprise of the weekend was the little indie film “Paranormal Activity”. Made for peanuts, the film is now raking in millions based solely off a social networking marketing campaign. That might be why Michael Giltz and Karen Woodward are dying to see the movie. . . no pun intended. (See the movie, you’ll get the joke).  Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 24: How To Get A Hero Complex

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