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 141: Mike Daisey Learns The Difference Between Journalism and Art

March 19, 2012

Monologist Mike Daisey began performing his one-man show, “The Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs”, hoping to highlight the poor working conditions suffered by workers who make Apple products in Chinese factories. When it was learned that Daisey made-up most of his accounts of meetings with factory employees, it stirred up a debate over the changing definition of journalism. Are Daisey’s monologues really human truths in story form, or was he simply bending the truth to tell a better story?

Meanwhile, fans of British television are probably already familiar with Acorn Media. Now current and classic British programming such as “Upstairs Downstairs” can be watched on the company’s new streaming service, Acorn TV. Most recently Acorn acquired the rights to the popular World War II mystery series “Foyle’s War” as well as the estate of Agatha Christie. Miguel Penella, the company’s CEO, joins us to discuss some of Acorn’s bold moves for survival and long-term growth.

In music news, Billboard has finally figured out a way to include online music streaming figures in their weekly Hot 100 chart. Even so, some skeptics are pointing out that music video plays still aren’t being counted.

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Showbiz Sandbox 123: DVR Data Can Save TV Shows From Cancellation

October 17, 2011

It turns out your DVR can be helpful beyond just recording your favorite television shows. Examining which commercials you skip past might be able to help predict box office flops and monitoring which shows you watch can save a borderline series from being canceled. We’ll debate whether television networks and movie studios can benefit from the data being collected from your DVR.

Apple however may be trying to make your DVR obsolete. The long standing rumors that Apple might be working on a next generation television set have heated up once again. Would you welcome Apple into your living room?

Dozens of entries make up this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar list, though all of them will ultimately be nominated. We’ll explain how the list ultimately gets whittled down to just five movies.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including why Hulu is no longer for sale, why Jonny Depp’s “Lone Ranger” is back in production and how Amazon plans to make publishers unnecessary.

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Showbiz Sandbox 95: The Media Is Charlie Sheen’s Worst Enabler

March 7, 2011

It’s hard to believe that we’re writing headlines about Charlie Sheen for the second week in a row. Alas, the actor went on a whirlwind media campaign let the world know he was ready to go back to work on his hit sitcom. Mainstream media reveled in an endless supply of Sheen’s erratic and manic behavior, portraying him as a deluded, drugged out narcissist.

Eric Deggans, the television and media critic for the St. Petersburg Times, stops by to discuss his NPR commentary piece on how mixed-race couples are portrayed on network television. However, we get sidetracked when news arrives that Sheen has been fired from “Two And A Half Men”.

During Inside Baseball we are joined by Andrew Wallenstein of PaidContent (and soon Variety) who explains why movie studios should start a war over premium video-on-demand.

We also cover all the week’s top entertainment news including Google’s rumored music service, “American Idol’s” ratings dominance, Courtney Love’s Twitter lawsuit and Oprah’s struggling cable network.

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Showbiz Sandbox 49: Hollywood Experiences Premature Sequalization

April 12, 2010

Have you ever wondered why movie studios love to make sequels of hit films? Well, these studios don’t even wait for a film to be released before announcing its sequel. Steve Zeitchik of the Los Angeles Times fills us in on the sequel culture that has taken over Hollywood.

Meanwhile, the king and queen of television, Steve Carell and Tina Fey, nudged “Clash of the Titans” out of first place at the box office with their new release “Date Night”.

While Fey may be making a move to the silver screen, the big news of the week was happening in television – cable television no less. Oprah Winfrey announced five new shows that will air on her cable network starting next January, a lineup that left some industry-watchers befuddled. Another TV personality following Oprah onto a cable network is Conan O’Brien. He surprised just about everyone by announcing he would be starting his own late night talk show this fall on TBS.

While analyzing the week’s top entertainment news stories including how celebrities are using Twitter these days. We finish off with a little Inside Baseball in which we try and understand why anyone would want to buy Miramax or MGM.  Read more

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