Showbiz Sandbox 295: Thompson Keeps Tabs On Telluride and Toronto

September 21, 2015

Two of the world’s most prominent film festivals are held each September in Telluride and Toronto and, without fail, you’ll find Anne Thompson, Indiewire’s editor-at-large, dashing off to both of them. Thompson gives us a feel for what both festivals were like this year, which films created the most awards buzz and which she thinks audiences should be looking forward to.

Thompson also joins us to discuss this year’s Emmy winners. The premium cable network HBO proved it is still at the top of its game, fending off the stiff competition of hot new shows being produced by upstart streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. The network wept away the Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Comedy Series and Outstanding Limited Series categories, winning 14 awards in all.

Meanwhile, in case that seems destined to reach the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal judge ruled that copyright owners must take into account the possibility of fair use before sending a takedown notice. Rather than force possible infringers to mount what is known as an affirmative defense, the court is placing the burden on copyright holders to consider whether a work should be considered fair use.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the new over-the-top and mobile streaming services being offered by the BBC and Epix, one of the creators of Batman will finally get the credit he has long deserved (though maybe not the money) and Denzel Washington will produce ten August Wilson plays for HBO.

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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 198: One Flop Does Not A Studio Break

July 15, 2013

Though the media might like to focus on Hollywood’s failures whenever a big blockbuster tanks, the reality is most movie studios can weather a flop or two. Modern-day entertainment conglomerates include music, merchandising, consumer products and travel divisions of which the movie studio is much smaller part. Disney, for instance, made nine times as much revenue in 2012 on its television media holdings than it did with its movie studio.

Even so, without a pipeline of even modestly successful movies, an entertainment company’s entire operation can eventually suffer. That’s why even though mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer is in a bit of a dry spell lately, (see “The Lone Ranger”) someone in Hollywood will always be willing to bet on his next project.

The past week also saw a seemingly endless supply of news stories concerning the health of celebrities. Placido Domingo was hospitalized with a pulmonary embolism, Randy Travis is in serious condition after suffering a stroke, Elton John canceled a tour after emergency surgery for appendicitis and it was all topped by the untimely death of “Glee” star Cory Monteith at age 31.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Meredith Vieira’s return to television, a Twitter storm over “Sharknado” and Joan Rivers’ dispute with the Writers Guild.

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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 115: Record Industry Wages A Quiet War Over Song Rights

August 15, 2011

When the United States copyright law was revised in the mid-1970’s a little-known provision was included that lets musicians and songwriters reclaim ownership of their recordings after 35 years. Artists such as Bryan Adams, Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Tom Petty and Tom Waits are set to regain control of their recordings starting in 2013 thanks to these “termination rights”. Rather than lose control of works worth millions of dollars, New York Times culture reporter Larry Rohter discusses how record labels plan to fight the provision in court.

Also picking a fight is Disney, which halted production of “The Lone Ranger” which was to star Johnny Depp and be directed by Gore Verbinski. Does pulling the plug on Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest blockbuster mean that Depp will refuse participate in another “Pirates of the Caribbean” sequel?

AMC has had its fair share of scuffles lately. After numerous disputes with the creators of their hit shows, AMC has become not only one of the most acclaimed cable networks in recent memory, but also one of the most troubled.

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Showbiz Sandbox 41: Live Nation Becomes The Master Of Tickets

February 8, 2010

We swear we’re trying not to talk so much about Avatar, and although this seemed like a good week to skip the Ava-chat (congrats “Dear John!”), alas, the news cycle had other ideas.

But wait! There was also some important television news! Namely, the Super Bowl, which drew an average of 106.5 million people, just edging out “MASH’s” 106 million people in 1983. And football fans didn’t just watch the Saints win; they also watched the ads (which are sometimes the best part of the Super Bowl). This year’s favorite seems to be the Leno-Oprah-Letterman ad, but you be the judge. Where was Conan? Probably negotiating with Fox? It certainly seems like Rupert Murdoch plans on playing hardball with Team Coco (whenever he’s not unofficially greenlighting “Avatar 2”).

A company that doesn’t appear to be negotiating is Hulu, or is it NBC? During a Congressional hearing last week to investigate Comcast’s proposed acquisition of NBC, a representative asked NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker, “What about Boxee?” Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 13: Hooliganism At Comic-Con (Or Lack Thereof)

July 28, 2009

We had a plethora of panelists this week, all of whom were in San Diego over the weekend to experience Comic-Con first hand. KPBS’ Cinema Junkie blogger Beth Accomando covered the event for National Public Radio, Todd Gilchrist was there for Cinematical, SciFi Wire‘s news editor Patrick Lee made the trip, as did Phillip Nakov from MovieSet.com and Harry Medved, who helped out with Fandango’s coverage of the event as their director of public relations.  Also joining in on this week’s fun is New York Daily News writer and Huffington Post blogger, Michael Giltz.

If you weren’t one of the 126,000 people attending Comic-Con, this episode will fill you in on what you missed.  There was whole day devoted to 3D movies, which apparently isn’t just a gimmick anymore.  The big hits of Comic-Con were “District 9”, “Avatar”, “Kick Ass” and “Iron Man 2” and the biggest miss was Roland Emerich’s next movie “2012” which is either so bad it’s good, or so bad it’s just plain bad.  Irrelevant whether it wowed people at the convention or not was “Twilight: New Moon”, because fans just wanted to see Robert Pattinson .  Hundreds of young girls, their moms and a bunch of sensitive men camped out overnight to get into a jam packed “Twilight” panel. The festival was “the redemption of “New Moon” director Chris Weitz, who was clearly adored by his cast. It was definitely the panel with the most security.

This year marked the first appearance by Tim Burton (as a presenter), Peter Jackson and Terry Gilliam. Johnny Depp stopped by to say two words (literally) in promotion of Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.”  Read more

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