Showbiz Sandbox 282: Broadway’s Not So Big Night at the Tony Awards

June 8, 2015

A musical about family, sexuality and suicide along with a play about an adolescent with Aspberger’s syndrome won the top prizes at this year’s Tony Awards over the weekend. Based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir, “Fun Home” was awarded Best Musical and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” earned Best New Play. On paper, both could have been marginal longshots to win Tonys, which can at times go to more commercial productions.

We go over the list of this year’s Tony Award winners and choose a few highlights from a ceremony in which they were quite sparse. It was great to see Kelli O’Hara win a Tony for Best Actress In A Musical after she had been overlooked the last five times she was nominated. Yet, in a year which saw Broadway break box office records, the telecast flirted with all-time low ratings.

Meanwhile, as we record this episode Apple appears set to announce their streaming music service which some big record label executives see as a tipping point that could save the industry. That seems like a tall order given how late the company is getting to market, but it’s never a good idea to underestimate Apple.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including how Netflix is heading to Spain, Senator Chris Dodd is staying on as head of the MPAA and Showtime is going over the top with its new streaming service.

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Showbiz Sandbox 268: Going Backstage At The Grammys With David Wild

February 8, 2015

The Grammy Awards were held last weekend to honor the year’s best music. David Wild, one of the producers and writers of the Grammys telecast (not to mention a contributing editor at Rolling Stone), takes us behind the scenes at the ceremony. He explains what it’s like to get Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Nikki Minaj on the same page and the difficulty of describing Sia’s unique stage performance to Stevie Wonder.

Meanwhile, a couple of big media conglomerates announced significant management changes over the past week; Amy Pascal will be stepping down as head of Sony Pictures due in no small part to the recent cyber attack against the company and Tom Staggs is anointed as the most likely candidate to take over for Disney CEO, Bob Iger when the latter steps down in 2018.

Speaking of big name execs, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler finally submitted his proposal for net neutrality, which would regulate ISPs to enforce open internet protections.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why actor Michael Gambon is retiring from the stage, the uproar over news anchor Brian Williams and how Kodak is keeping film stock alive.

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Showbiz Sandbox 255: Better Pixels Not More Pixels – Why You’ll Never Care About 4K or 8K TV

October 27, 2014

Technology is quickly emerging that delivers enhanced theatrical and home viewing experiences the likes of which audiences have never seen. What remains unknown is whether consumers even notice incremental upgrades such as Ultra HD or care enough to pay extra for them. TV manufacturers sure hope so.

However, at the SMPTE 2014 Technical Conference held last week in Los Angeles, some of the industries smartest engineers agreed that images with a wider contrast and color range (HDR) are preferable to those packing more pixels into every frame (4K). They also questioned if we were technically capable of getting all this enhanced content onto screens both big and small.

China, on the other hand, will take any content they can get their hands. After Hollywood spent years trying to break into the Chinese market, China is now come knocking down Hollywood’s door in search of movies and television programs to show via streaming and subscription services.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including how Ken Burns scored big ratings for PBS with his latest documentary, why sock puppets are all the rage on Broadway and TLC shows Honey Boo-Boo the door.

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Showbiz Sandbox 217: In Hollywood You’re Nobody Till Somebody Sues You

December 17, 2013

The entertainment industry is marking the end of 2013 with a flurry of lawsuits all having to do, one way or another, with profit participation. Moguls Harvey and Bob Weinstein have filed suit against Warner Bros. over profits from sequels to “The Hobbit”, a property they originally owned. Then there’s the fired creator of “The Walking Dead” who is suing AMC claiming the network owes him tens of millions of dollars for the hit television series.

Filmmaker James Cameron is no stranger to legal battles since he is constantly having to fend off plagiarism lawsuits. Last week the director said he struck a tax deal with New Zealand to film not one, but three “Avatar” sequels in the country.

Golden Globe nominations were announced last week helping solidify awards season frontrunners such as “12 Years A Slave”, “American Hustle” and “Gravity” among others. Keep in mind, only about 90 international entertainment journalists get to nominate and vote for the Globes.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the new additions to the National Film Registry, the new members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and how Beyoncé surprised fans with a new album.

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Showbiz Sandbox 206: Emmys Offer The Worst of Every Other Awards Show Rolled Into One

September 23, 2013

With Neil Patrick Harris as its host and a wide array of popular shows nominated for top awards, this year’s Emmys ceremony was primed to be a memorable one. The telecast was memorable alright, but for all the wrong reasons. If the Emmys were trying to combine all the worst elements of every other awards show, they succeeded.

It’s hard to determine precisely why this year’s Emmys just didn’t work. It could have been a weak opening, unnecessary musical numbers or the string of depressing memorials. Worst of all, the telecast didn’t provide viewers with a better understanding of the shows being awarded.

Meanwhile, one of China’s wealthiest citizens wants to spend over $8 billion building a movie metropolis that is meant to rival Hollywood. Some of the film industry’s most most recognized celebrities and important leaders have signed on to help the cause. The only question is… why?

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the billion dollar launch of “Grand Theft Auto V”, Britney Spears’ new gig in Las Vegas and why WikiLeaks has taken up film criticism.

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Showbiz Sandbox 201: Why CBS Is Winning The Battle (And The War) Over Cable Television

August 12, 2013

For the past two weeks Time Warner Cable has been blacking out CBS networks in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets over a retransmission dispute. Despite losing more than 3 million households ratings on CBS have remained steady giving the network no reason to back down from its demands. With the new television and football seasons set to begin in September Time Warner Cable may have no choice but to cave in to CBS’ terms.

Meanwhile, this summer’s blockbuster movies continue to underperform at the box office with Disney announcing they may have to take a $190 million write down on losses from “The Lone Ranger”. Actor Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have figured out who to blame for the movie’s failure; vengeful American film critics.

After being publicly trashed by George Clooney, activist investor Daniel Loeb was unable to convince Sony to spin-off its entertainment divisions. Even so, Loeb says he’s pleased since the company’s stock price is up and its management more accountable to shareholders.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a lost film from Orson Welles, a new ending for the “Finding Nemo” sequel and the surprising new owner of The Washington Post.

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Showbiz Sandbox 177: The Bloomin’ Onion Effect: Why Audiences Are Happy Movies Have Gotten Longer

January 14, 2013

In an age where audiences have grown used to the brevity of YouTube clips and 140 character updates, Hollywood is instead serving up super sized movies. Six of the top ten movies from 2012 were over two hours, including comic book movies like “The Avengers”. Even comedies such as “This Is 40” crossed the 120 minute mark and don’t even get us started on “The Hobbit”.

Rebecca Keegan of the Los Angeles Times explains the increase in movie running times has a lot to do with the creative control marquee directors have over their films as well as digital tools that allow them to shoot more footage. Surprisingly, Keegan found that most moviegoers appreciate longer running times since it makes them feel they are getting a more value for the price of admission.

Also from the Los Angeles Times is Glenn Whipp, who joins us to discuss some of the surprise Academy Award nominations announced last week and whether the Golden Globes might affect who wins Oscars this year.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a resolution in Superman’s court case, the return of daytime soap operas and whether the film adaption of “Fifty Shades of Grey” will be rated NC-17.

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Showbiz Sandbox 156: Olympic Telecasts Turn Everyone Into A Sports Expert

July 31, 2012

The 2012 Summer Olympics got off to an auspicious start last week with coverage of the opening ceremonies earning record ratings. With broadcasters presenting events live on multiple channels, as well as streaming online, it’s never been easier to keep up with the games. We review how broadcasters are covering the Summer Olympics, not to mention explain why there always seem to be empty seats at sold-out events.

Meanwhile, the aftershock of the “Dark Knight Rises” theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado continue to ripple through Hollywood. Box office grosses were down significantly over the past weekend, though it is hard to know if moviegoers are staying away out of fear, or if something else is deterring them from theatres … like coverage of the Olympics.

Maybe cinema patrons are simply staying home to watch Netflix. Despite turning a profit and increasing their subscriber base, the company’s stock price declined. This didn’t stop Netflix from announcing they would soon be launching their movie rental service in Western Europe.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a third “Hobbit” movie, what caused Warner Bros. to sue Amazon users and why the FCC fined Comcast.

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Showbiz Sandbox 139: Why The Music Industry Is More Brutal Than Ever

March 5, 2012

With nine different streaming services there are more ways than ever to listen to music these days. With the likes of Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, Mog and Pandora all competing for our attention and media dollars, some have argued that there is too much competition in the market and is primed for a major consolidation. Which services will survive and why? Will Amazon, Apple or Google launch there own services? We try to answer all these questions and more.

Meanwhile Harvey Weinstein is once again fighting the MPAA over the ratings for one of his films. Public figures such as Rev. Jesse Jackson joined the chorus of those opposing the R-rating which the Weinstein Company’s school bullying documentary received. Unfortunately, if “Bully” is released without a rating, movie theaters may be forced to treat it as an NC-17 film.

Former co-host Karen Woodward, joins us to run down some of the top entertainment news stories of the week including, James Spader’s departure from “The Office”, Mike Tyson’s Las Vegas show, and Random House trippling the price of e-books for libraries.

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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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