Showbiz Sandbox 325: Keeping Track of Who’s In Charge at Hollywood Studios

June 20, 2016

It would seem keeping one’s job as a senior executive at a major Hollywood movie studio has become much harder of late. Last year both Paramount and Sony Pictures replaced their studio heads. Now the executive shuffles at Sony and Fox, as well as the turmoil at Viacom, have our heads spinning. We’ll be joined by Anne Thompson of Indiewire who explains why Hollywood is in turnaround.

We also breakdown the past week’s worldwide box office, where a little fish swam a long way. Apparently audiences hadn’t forgotten the forgetful character from “Finding Nemo” and thus turned the Pixar movie “Finding Dory” into a box office smash.

Amazon plans to expand its streaming music service, but will it be worth listening to? Meanwhile, CBS won a potentially significant lawsuit when it argued successfully that a remastered album can in fact be considered a brand new work in terms of copyright.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including the Tony Awards telecast get a ratings bump, Disney opens a theme park in Shanghai and ESPN devotes itself to soccer (or football, depending where you live).

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 307: Can Guild Nominations Forecast Oscar Winners?

January 11, 2016

This year’s Academy Award nominations will soon be announced and we wonder if one can predict who might take home Oscar gold by watching the annual honors handed out by Hollywood’s labor guilds. We’ll tell you how won Golden Globes, which have proven less reliable in forecasting Oscar winners, and take a look at who the Brits shine a spotlight on via the BAFTAs.

Much like the movie business, publishing has become a global game. That makes the recent broadside by groups representing authors around the world especially notable. They’re calling on publishers to offer author contracts that are more equitable and represent the way business is done in the 21st Century.

Director/Producer Gavin Polone believes Hollywood studios and television networks are only hurting themselves when they decide to cook the books when it comes to reporting earnings to profit participants. He argues that the talent and creatives they cheat on the backend have no incentive to keep costs down on the front end.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Netflix went worldwide, actor Sean Penn went to Mexico to interview the head of a drug cartel and the death of legendary musician David Bowie.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 145: Rise of Playlisters Marks The Death of Music Blogs

April 16, 2012

Last week Doug Freeman, a music critic for the Austin Chronicle, wrote an opinion piece in response to a Hypebot interview in which Sean Adams, the founder of Drowned In Sound, suggested music blogs are no longer influential. Freeman joins us to explain that if blogs were simply gateways to new music discovery, then the streaming playlister is the new music blogger. New influencers and kingmakers will emerge in a shifting editorial landscape.

We also take you to the first weekend of this year’s Coachella Music Festival where more than 150 acts strutted their stuff to an more than 100,000 attendees. Headliners such as Radiohead and The Black Keys proved to be big hits, but Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg stole the show by performing with a picture perfect hologram of the late Tupac Shakur.

“The Hunger Games” continues to feast on the North American box office, but the number one movie in the world this past weekend was “Titanic 3D” thanks to a record breaking opening in China.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Mel Gibson’s public fight with a screenwriter, an extended run for “Game of Thrones” and an anti-trust lawsuit against major publishing houses.


Read more

Showbiz Sandbox 118: Mr. Television Rates This Year’s New Shows

September 12, 2011

There’s a good reason Marc Berman is known as Mr. Television. As the man behind MediaWeek’s daily television newsletter The Programming Insider his commentary on the medium reached more than 50,000 readers per day. Berman recently launched TV Media Insights, a new online destination for television and media with its own newsletter, forum and podcast. Berman handicaps this year’s Emmy Awards and also tells us which new shows are worth watching in the upcoming season.

We also continue our discussion on the publishing industry, which due to the dramatic changes in how they do business, is becoming one of the more fascinating parts of the entertainment industry. As e-book sales increase, popular authors are beginning to announce plans to release new work directly to readers and Amazon plans on creating a Netflix fof books.

Meanwhile, a The Hollywood Reporter served a cease and desist order on which sparked a war of words between the two trade outlets. Is the Reporter in financial trouble, and if so, should Deadline staff be spreading the word to potential advertisers?

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 100: In Showbiz, As In Life, Size Matters

April 25, 2011

It’s hard to believe we’ve recorded 100 episodes of Showbiz Sandbox. It’s also hard to believe that a 3D porno (okay, an erotic comedy) could ever smash a box office record set by “Avatar”. But that’s exactly what happened in Hong Kong, where “Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy” opened to USD $2.19 million. The producers wanted to screen the film in Imax, but were refused, disappointing Karen Woodward, our guest and former co-host, who says that despite all the rumors, size does matter.

If bigger really is better, then Netflix has nothing to worry about. They are set to become the largest subscription entertainment business in the United States with over 23 million customers, beating out satellite radio and cable television. The same can’t be said about any of the music streaming services that Apple, Google and others are working on. Apparently, negotiating a licensing deal with record labels can be quite difficult. Go figure!

The Coachella Music Festival also took the size issue to heart, adding more space for attendees to enjoy the more than 100 bands which performed this year. J. Sperling Reich was there and tells us which artists are worth checking out (Lauryn Hill), and which shouldn’t quit their day jobs (Odd Future).

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 96: Why Facebook Is Becoming Your Friendly Neighborhood Video Store

March 14, 2011

In their never ending quest to replace declining DVD revenue movie studios have begun renting movies on Facebook. Such partnerships are focused on more than just sales, or finding a Netflix competitor, they are also about marketing. As Facebook users rent and purchase movies they’ll be transformed into a social marketing army.

Mel Gibson made headlines again last week accepting a plea deal in his spousal battery case. Whether moviegoers will forgive Gibson for recent ethnic slurs and racist comments will be tested when his next film, “The Beaver”, premieres at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Meanwhile, Carlie Sheen, in between streaming his wacky behavior on the Internet, was also headed to court to file a $100 million lawsuit against Warner Bros. and sitcom producer Chuck Lorre.

Julie Taymor joined Sheen on the unemployment line. After spending nine years bringing the Broadway musical “Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark”, Taymor was replaced as the director of the expensive, beleaguered musical.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 82: Training For The Awards Season Marathon

December 6, 2010

The end of the year always has more “best of” lists and awards show news than any media outlet knows what to do with. Over the past week nominees were announced for the Independent Spirit Awards, the Grammys and the Annies (for animated films). In Europe, they’ve already started holding awards ceremonies, with “The King’s Speech” cleaning up at the British Independent Film Awards and “Ghost Writer” topping the European Film Awards.

Competing at next year’s awards shows will likely be a few films selected for the upcoming Sundance Film Festival which will take place in January. Some outlets noted that the festival’s competition selection didn’t have enough star driven films, but artistic director John Cooper points to the premieres section which has been programmed with films sure to keep the Park City paparazzi quite busy.

In television news, it appears the degree to which networks and advertisers trust Nielsen’s rating system is decreasing by the day. They claim Nielsen’s method of acquiring its numbers is antiquated.  Meanwhile, on Broadway, all anyone wants to talk about is “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”. While most avid theater-goers believe the super hero musical is going to be awful, they all still can’t wait to see it.

Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 76: Taking On The Hobbit And Ticketmaster Down Under

October 25, 2010

Our friends Down Under generated a lot of entertainment news this past week. In New Zealand a union boycott of “The Hobbit” may cause Warner Bros. to relocate the production to another country. Director Peter Jackson has publicly opposed such a move, but as the Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Handel explains, this may just be Warner Bros. way of negotiating better government tax subsidies.

Over in Australia, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has launched Foxtix, a live event ticketing service aimed at capturing a share of Ticketmaster’s business. Taking on Ticketmaster is a difficult and expensive fight, but Adam McArthur, the head of Foxtix, fills us in on how the company will differentiate itself in the market.

Former Australian native and current Hollywood pariah Mel Gibson was all set to make a comeback with a cameo in “The Hangover 2”, but Warner Bros. decided he was just too much trouble and opted for Liam Neeson.

Meanwhile, in television news the Fox network pulled its programming from Cablevision’s channel lineup over a retransmission fee dispute. Don’t worry, Cablevision’s customers were still able to follow the baseball playoffs through Twitter posts from the Federal Communications Commission. Read more


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


Showbiz Sandbox 62: The Secret Behind Hollywood’s Accounting Practices

July 12, 2010

How is it the last Harry Potter film can gross $938 million but still lose $130 million? Journalist and author Edward Jay Epstein joins us to unravel some of Hollywood’s quirky accounting practices. He’s written two books on the subject; The Hollywood Economist: The Hidden Financial Reality Behind the Movies and The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood.

“Despicable Me” topped the box office though the amount it took in from 3D screens was rather low. Could audiences be tiring of paying exorbitant 3D ticket prices? Meanwhile, Miramax finally seems to have found a buyer and Lions Gate is trying to make piece with activist investor Carl Icahn.

The Emmy nominations were announced last week and we’ll fill you in on whose up for the television’s big awards. Over in the world of music Pollstar announced that concert ticket sales are down 15% for the first half of the year.

During our Big Deal or Big Whoop segment we race through a number of top entertainment headlines, including Roman Polanski’s release, Lindsay Lohan’s jail time and Mel Gibson getting dumped by his agency. Maybe Gibson can find some work on YouTube, which plans to offer $5 million in grants to select content partners.


Read more

Next Page »