Showbiz Sandbox 55: I Want My Google TV

It’s official. Google is getting into the television business with help from Sony and Logitech. Will making television searchable cause viewership to rise? On the other hand, movies have apparently found a way to shrink their audience – raise movie ticket prices. While “Shrek Forever After” may have topped the North American box office, it’s $71 million debut was seen as a bit of a disappointment. Industry pundits are pointing to the rising cost of 3D movie tickets as part of the cause.

And if you think movie tickets are getting too expensive just wait until cable companies start offering “home theater on demand”. Movie studios are being pitched by cable operators on distributing their movies via video-on-demand just 30 days after they are released in theaters. However, the $20 to $30 price tag may turn potential customers away.

We wrap up our coverage of the Cannes Film Festival, where an obscure “auteur” film from Thailand took the top prize. Michael Giltz and J. Sperling Reich tell us about all the films they liked (and hated) at this year’s festival.

The series finale of “Lost” aired over the weekend, though it received mixed reviews and mediocre ratings. Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 55: I Want My Google TV


Showbiz Sandbox 54: Le Petit Cannes – Downsizing The Festival

Two of our co-hosts, Michael Giltz and J. Sperling Reich, are still at the Cannes Film Festival. Along with David Bourgeois, who is covering Cannes for Movieline, they discuss all the films they’ve seen, which ones they’ve liked, which ones are duds and the trends emerging at this year’s festival. So far it seems Mike Leigh’s film “Another Year” is the movie everyone has liked, while Woody Allen’s latest proved disappointing.

Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” opened the festival, though it didn’t open theatrically as well as everyone had expected. In it’s debut week it couldn’t top “Iron Man 2” at the box office.

The past week also saw some big television news. Networks have begun holding their “upfronts” to announce fall schedules. As usual a number of new shows will be hitting the airwaves and few didn’t make the cut, including “Law & Order” which NBC canceled after 20 years.   Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 54: Le Petit Cannes – Downsizing The Festival


Showbiz Sandbox 42: Tom Cruise Takes A Pay Cut, And Other Indignities

We only talk about “Avatar” for a couple of seconds in this week’s podcast, thank goodness. Instead, we focus on actors campaigning for their Oscars (and a few who aren’t). We also discuss what we call “the 3D movie brouhaha” which has made Jeffrey Katzenberg irate.

In TV news, co-hosts Karen Woodward and Michael Giltz are passionate about the Olympics and the absurdity of “Lost” (even recaps are confusing!) And, after 28 years, MTV is changing its logo to reflect that the channel is no longer just about “music television”. They may be about 10 years too late.

Co-host J. Sperling Reich jumps into one of his favorite topics – new media – and reminds us that this guy named Steve Jobs sits on the board of Disney and is one of the top shareholders. No wonder Disney CEO Robert Igor called the underwhelming iPad “a really compelling device” that could be a game changer. We’ll hold off our thoughts on the new Apple product until we see if it really will change the way entertainment is distributed.  Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 42: Tom Cruise Takes A Pay Cut, And Other Indignities


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, 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


Showbiz Sandbox 37: Conan and Leno’s Late Shift Shrift

It’s official: Simon Cowell will be leaving “American Idol” this season and NBC (finally!) admits that airing “The Jay Leno Show” in primetime five nights a week was a mistake. Cowell is headed off to start a new reality talent show, “X Factor”, while Jay Leno is headed back to his old late night time slot, at least for a half-hour. But where will Conan O’Brien’s tonight show end up? Right now NBC wants to push him back a half hour.

In theaters, “Avatar” just will not go away. It stays firm at the top of the box office again this week. “Daybreakers” staring Ethan Hawke, also did well in its debut, but the Amy Adams vehicle “Leap Year” didn’t leap anywhere.

Meanwhile, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) tries to sell us on 3D television and video rental service Netflix reaches an important agreement with Warner Bros.

David Colker, a business reporter covering technology for the Los Angeles Times gives us the low down on CES, espcially all the 3D televisions announced at the show (which aren’t even available for sale yet). Do consumers even want 3D television? More importantly, how are we prepared to wear those funny 3D glasses at home? Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 37: Conan and Leno’s Late Shift Shrift


Showbiz Sandbox 30: “Modern Warfare” Stuns Hollywood

As predicted, the teen vampire romance “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” opened this week and earned record breaking box office. The second installment of the “Twilight” franchise made $140 million in North America, making it one of the largest openings in history. The film did manage to break the record for highest grossing midnight screening when it opened Friday morning. What might be more amazing is that the Sandra Bullock vehicle “The Blind Side” came in second with an impressive $34 million. Opening so strongly against a powerhouse tent pole like “Twilight” makes Bullock one of the more bankable stars in Hollywood these days.

Of course, even “Twilight’s” $258 million worldwide opening pales in comparison to what the new video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” raked in during its first five days in stores. Ben Fritz an entertainment business reporter for the Los Angeles Times joins us to talk about the wild success of the video game. Actually, calling it a video game is almost an insult – it’s more like an interactive action movie, and one that made $550 million within five days of its November 19th launch.

Fritz is a prolific journalist who this past week wrote tons of stories for the L.A. Times Company Town column and blog. One such story was on the controversy over the Academy Awards’ Documentary short list. Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 30: “Modern Warfare” Stuns Hollywood


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

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 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.”  Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 13: Hooliganism At Comic-Con (Or Lack Thereof)