Showbiz Sandbox 167: The Digital Age Crushes Variety

October 15, 2012

Last week the venerable trade paper Variety, which has been covering the entertainment industry for more than 100 years, was sold to Penske Media Corporation for $25 million. Dana Harris, the editor-in-chief of Indiewire, spent 11 years at Variety and she joins us to discuss the past, present and future of a news outlet that has struggled to adapt in an online world.

Of course, the music world is quite familiar with how digital technology can disrupt existing markets. Digital radio pioneer Pandora is pushing legislation regarding the royalties they pay to artists. This past week they made public some the big checks they’ve been writing to individual musicians.

The royalties for a bunch of super heroes are also being disputed. Stan Lee Media is suing Marvel to get a cut of all that “Avengers” money and the daughter of Superman creator Jerry Seigel is duking it out with Warner Bros. over copyright claims.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a break for Louis CK, CNN gets into the documentary film business, and how New Zealand is literally minting money for “The Hobbit”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 166: How MoviePass Unlimited Moviegoing Service Really Works

October 9, 2012

When MoviePass announced an unlimited moviegoing subscription service last year it faced stiff resistance from cinema owners and film studios. Now, MoviePass has relaunched with a revamped offering that doesn’t need approval from either group. Stacy Spikes, the CEO of MoviePass, joins us to explain why this time the company will succeed.

Over in the world of music, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced this year’s nominees. The likes of Randy Newman, Donna Summer, Public Enemy and Rush head up what has been considered by many to be a very weak list. At least this year however fans get to vote for their favorite nominees.

Meanwhile, Broadway has been consumed with the story of how “Rebecca”, a musical based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, went up in flames just weeks before opening. Despite having major talent enlisted to write, direct and choreograph, not to mention an ongoing ad campaign, it turns out on of the investors behind the production may have been completely made up.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a huge debut for Mumford and Sons second album, why MTV is getting out of the “Jersey Shore” business and how Lil Wayne bested Elvis (sort of).

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Showbiz Sandbox 78: The Fight Over Streaming Television Online

November 8, 2010

As if broadcast and cable networks didn’t have enough to worry about with online streaming offerings from Apple and Google, they now have startups such as ivi.TV to contend with. The company recently launched an online service that retransmits signals from broadcast television stations in New York and Seattle with more cities coming online soon. Though networks and movie studios are trying to shut the company down, its CEO, Todd Weaver, explains that ivi.TV is operating legally under current copyright laws.

Another media company dealing with legal issues is MGM who filed for bankruptcy protection last week. Fortunately the restructured studio won’t have to worry about an actor’s strike since the two unions representing thespians agreed to a new contract with studios and networks. The Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel fills us in on the key deal points as well as what the news means for writers and directors as they begin their own contract negotiations.

This week also marks the return of Conan O’Brien to late-night television as he kicks off his new show on TBS.

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Showbiz Sandbox 68: Who Said Jennifer Aniston Was A Movie Star?

August 23, 2010

Who would have guessed that in this day and age a Sylvester Stallone movie could top the box office for two straight weeks. But Sly’s “The Expendables” finished first with $16 million beating out five new releases including the Jennifer Aniston vehicle “Switched”. The dramedy opened to a disappointing $8.1 million prompting entertainment pundits like Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times to question whether Aniston is truly a movie star.

Generating interest doesn’t seem to be a problem for “The Social Network”, which details the founding of Facebook. More than six weeks before its release the film directed by David Fincher is getting a ton of early Oscar buzz.

Google is also making waves in Hollywood. A book about the company’s early days is being turned into a movie and Google TV has the industry worried that consumers will start canceling their cable subscriptions en masse. According to a story in the New York Times however, Americans have not been cutting their cable cords in the large numbers once predicted. Instead, cable subscriptions have increased.

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Showbiz Sandbox 63: Mel Gibson Wishes It Were All A Dream

July 19, 2010

Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated film “Inception” jumped to the top of the North American box office upon release. The follow-up to the director’s blockbuster “The Dark Knight” has some critics buzzing about a Best Picture Oscar nomination.

Academy Award nominations are the least of Mel Gibson’s problems. After being caught on tape screaming obscenities and death threats at his ex-girlfriend, the actor and filmmaker should be happy if his next film,“The Beaver”, simply makes it into theaters.

A number of important court decisions were handed down this past week having to do with First Amendment rights. These include a ruling about “fleeting epithets” and whether broadcasters can be fined for airing them. An appeals court told the Federal Communications Commission their definition of “indecency” was too vague and may encroach on the freedom of speech.

We go over all the week’s top entertainment headlines during Big Deal or Big Whoop, including why the R.I.A.A. has spent $17 million suing music fans only to collect $391k, whether Tom Cruise will be cast in “Mission Impossible IV” and e-book sales outpacing those of real books on Amazon. Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 35: Women In Hollywood… It’s Complicated

December 28, 2009

You know it’s a slow entertainment news week when J. Sperling Reich, Karen Woodward, and Michael Giltz wind up talking about their personal arrest records. However even during the holiday season we can find showbiz news to talk about, not to mention places to talk. Michael joins us from the boisterous Cranky Café where he was enjoying homemade mac and cheese (and free Wifi).

America was sinning over the holidays, and by that we mean seeing movies on Christmas Day. Avatar set box office records with a $75 million North American gross and a $145 million international gross, but is it really a good movie? One movie that Karen and Michael agree is not at all good is “It’s Complicated”, and yet it’s doing rather well at the box office – is that because women are so starved for a decent “women’s film” that they will see whatever is in theatres?

Speaking of women’s films, or lack thereof, Karen digs up a couple of interesting news pieces focusing on the lack of a strong female presence in Hollywood, both on screen and off. Read more

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Showbiz Sandbox 26: Hollywood Struggles With New Business Models

October 26, 2009

Freelance entertainment journalist Todd Gilchrist joins us this week to talk about movies, music, and journalism. (But he recused himself from discussing TV because he doesn’t watch a lot of it. [gasp!]) Fine. We’ll start with movies then.

“Paranormal Activity” took over the box office this week. The film has been so well received that Paramount, which distributed the film, may produce a sequel. If a film is this successful, is a studio almost obligated to make a sequel? (And will it be as bad as “Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows”?)

In other news involving Paramount , the studio has angered members of the National Association of Theatre Owners by releasing “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” on DVD only 88 days after its theatrical run. It also set the Jeremy Piven comedy “The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard” for DVD-rental release 88 days from its theatrical bow, not that anyone wants to see it. “We don’t know what Paramount is up to,” NATO president John Fithian said. “But it’s highly objectionable.”  Read more

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