Showbiz Sandbox 280: French Films Win Big In Cannes This Year

May 26, 2015

The 68th annual Cannes Film Festival wrapped up over the weekend with the French drama “Dheepan” winning the Palme d’Or. In a festival filled with artistic works commenting on modern social issues, director Jacques Audiard’s film tells the story of three Sri Lankan refugees who form a family-of-convenience while fleeing to France in hopes of a better life.

Anne Thompson, Editor-at-Large for Indiewire, joins us to discuss the highs and lows of this year’s Festival de Cannes, which include many of the films that took home awards, not to mention a 3D porno. But as Thompson explains, many of the big buzzworthy films were Hollywood titles screened out-of-competition; “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Inside Out” come to mind.

Time Warner Cable meanwhile, fresh from having broken up with their previous suitor, Comcast, may now be acquired in a $56.7 billion deal. Though this move was widely expected, it is an indicator of how the market is attempting to stay ahead of the fast changing ways by which audiences consume television content.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the David Letterman’s signs off the “Late Show” one final time, Jennifer Lopez is taking up residency in Las Vegas for a string of shows next year, and multi-hyphenate Barbra Streisand is penning her memoirs.

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Showbiz Sandbox 226: Back To The Future – Why TV Networks Suddenly Love Old People Again

February 24, 2014

Broadcast television networks are finally catching on to what most of us have known all along; people over the age of 50 actually watch a lot of TV. In a never-ending pursuit to attract younger viewers, networks discovered that baby boomers make up a large portion of their audience. Surely we’ll be seeing a lot more programming meant to appeal directly to this new found demographic.

Maybe some of these new, more mature shows can be turned into movies one day. That seems to be the new trend in Hollywood as studios get set to release two movies that are spun-off from canceled series (“Veronica Mars”) or are have actually already appeared on television as mini-series (“Son of God”).

Speaking of Hollywood studios, it turns out that despite crying poor on a perennial basis, they all managed to make hundreds of millions of dollars in profit during 2013. Not revenue… actual profit.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Cee Lo Green quitting “The Voice”, CNN quitting Piers Morgan and the end of Moviefone’s movie listing service.

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

July 22, 2013

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 197: Studios Suffer A Summer of Blockbuster Flops

July 8, 2013

Hollywood is learning the hard way that big name movie stars don’t always guarantee the success of a tentpole release. This summer at least three mega-budget titles have tanked; Will Smith couldn’t save “After Earth”, Jamie Foxx and Channing Tatum couldn’t rescue “White House Down” and even the casting of Johnny Depp as Tonto wasn’t enough to rustle up an audience for “The Lone Ranger”.

On the other hand, filmmaker Lee Daniels’ next film may not have a blockbuster-size budget, but it does feature an all-star cast that includes the likes of Forest Whitaker, Robin Williams and Oprah Winfrey. Now all it needs is a new name, since a 1916 Warner Bros. short has already laid claim to “The Butler” causing Daniels and distributor The Weinstein Company to call out the lawyers.

Meanwhile, as we await the court’s verdict in the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against Apple over the pricing of e-books, it turns out Amazon has quietly been raising the ante on a lot of titles, especially those from academic and small presses.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Academy’s new members, Jennifer Lopez in Turkmenistan and the cost of purchasing a Tony Award.

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

July 17, 2012

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 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 108: China Becomes Hollywood’s New Best Frenemy

June 20, 2011

Hollywood movie studios have been raking in the yuan at the Chinese box office over the past year. This despite China missing the most recent World Trade Organization deadline to open its market to more foreign films. Forced to work through government sanctioned monopolies, studios have been aggressive about getting their movies in front of China’s billion plus citizens. Meanwhile, actors such as Christian Bale have headed east to star in China’s big blockbusters, such as Zhang Yimou’s Heroes of Nanking.

Maybe a film from China will be nominated for a Best Picture Oscar in the near future. Of course, contenders will have to figure out the new Best Picture nomination process put forth by the Academy last week. In an effort to create an air of suspense, the number of nominees for the year’s big film prize will fluctuate between 5 and 10 entries, depending on how balloting shakes out. We’ll explain all the new rules.

It looks as if Spotify, the popular European music streaming service, may be launching in the United States as early as July. They’ll go up against well established offerings like Pandora, which went public last week.

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Showbiz Sandbox 101: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner To Corner Office

May 2, 2011

Starting out on the streets of Brooklyn, New York as a drug dealer in the late 1980s, hip-hop star Jay-Z has transformed himself into a recognizable brand encompassing music, clothing, restaurants, nightclubs and an NBA basketball team. Our guest this week is Forbes staff writer Zack O’Malley Greenburg who tells the improbable story of how Jay-Z rose to the top of the business world in his new book, “Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office“.

Another brand that has proven their business acumen is home video subscription service Netflix. The company, which reported record first quarter numbers this past week, soon will have a number of competitors, including the likes of YouTube, DirecTV and Comcast.

Maybe Vin Diesel can turn himself into a mega-brand, proving he can still open a film on a global scale with “Fast Five”, the fifth installment in the “The Fast and The Furious” franchise. The film earned mega-bucks this past weekend, despite being up against the summer blockbuster “Thor” in international territories.

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Showbiz Sandbox 72: Grading The Toronto and Venice Film Festivals

September 21, 2010

After attending both the Venice and Toronto Film Festivals over the past month Anne Thompson of IndieWIRE may need a little time off. But since Thompson is entering the hectic Oscar season there’s no rest for the weary. She stops by to tell us about all the great films she saw in Venice and Toronto, as well as the amazing number of acquisitions. Based on Thompson On Hollywood, it was a great year at TIFF.

Ben Affleck’s second film as a director, “The Town” premiered at Toronto to rave reviews and this past weekend it surprised a few industry watchers by topping the box office.

During Big Deal or Big Whoop we argue about the week’s top entertainment headlines, including why celebrities like George Michael and Lindsay Lohan can’t seem to stay out of jail. The departure of Warner Bros. Records chairman Tom Whalley is our Inside Baseball topic, along with Google’s plans to take on Apple’s iTunes.


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Showbiz Sandbox 65: Hollywood’s Love/Hate Relationship With Twitter

August 2, 2010

Last summer a number of movies had enormous box office drop offs in their second day of release and studios blamed it on what they termed the Twitter Effect. Daniel Frankel from The Wrap joins us to explain how the social media trend that was going to revolutionize word-of-mouth hasn’t demonstrably done so. Platforms such as Facebook, MySpace and even text messaging seem to influence moviegoers more than Twitter. That hasn’t stopped studios from finding modest success on Twitter by purchasing trending topics.

A number of big television news stories broke over the past week thanks to the annual Television Critics Association press tour. Ellen DeGeneres resigned as a judge on “American Idol”, but Fox may be replacing her with Jennifer Lopez. Meanwhile, Stephen McPherson, the president of ABC, abruptly resigned under a cloud of controversy relating to rumored sexual harassment investigations and was promptly replaced by ABC Family topper Paul Lee.

In the music world Kanye West may be hoping the Twitter effect will help boost sales of his upcoming album. The hip-hop star made headlines by opening a Twitter account and turning up at Facebook headquarters to entertain employees.

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