Showbiz Sandbox 222: Grammys Spin Positive Message Into Big Ratings

Whether it was Hunter Hayes belting out an anti-bullying song or Queen Latifah performing a mass-marriage ceremony for 32 couples to the hip-hop beats of Macklemore & Lewis, this years Grammys’ ceremony was more upbeat than ever. David Wild, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, wrote the telecast that attracted a whopping 28.5 million viewers, as well as the Beatles tribute concert the very next night. He stops by to discuss what it was like helping put both shows together.

Awards were also handed out for movies this past week. The Directors Guild of America shook up the Oscar race by giving its top prize to Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity” and the Sundance Film Festival came to an end by handing out more than two dozen awards to indie movies.

Meanwhile, a number of companies are locked in a heated battle to provide an online alternative to cable and satellite television. The biggest hurdle for the likes of Amazon, Sony and Verizon in helping audiences cut the cord may turn out to be the erosion of net neutrality.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including shorter movie trailers, Quentin Tarantino’s latest screenplay gets leaked and Bill Cosby returns to NBC with a new sit-com.

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Showbiz Sandbox 216: Last Year’s Unknowns May Be Next Year’s Grammy Winners

When the Grammy Award nominations for 2014 were announced last week, they were filled with names of artists and musicians who at this time last year few had ever heard of. One hasn’t even graduated from high school yet. Lorde, country singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves and the rapper-producer duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis rose to stardom on a wave of self-distribution, YouTube and social media.

Accolades are also being handed out for some of the year’s best movies. There’s only one problem; nobody can agree on which films to award. One critics group was so divided over Best Picture that it led to a tie for two different movies.

Meanwhile, producer Jerry Bruckhiemer’s year will be ending on an up note. Though he might be on the outs with Disney after the disappointing performance of “The Lone Ranger”, the mega-producer announced a new first-look deal with Paramount Pictures.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Indiana Jones heads to Disney for a reboot, Billy Joel takes up residency at Madison Square Garden and television audiences tune-in en masse for a live performance of “The Sound of Music”.

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

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.

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

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 79: A New Social Music Chart To Rival Billboard?

Media measurement company BigChampagne believes that ranking songs and musicians based on radio airplay and record sales is an antiquated method. Joe Fleischer, the company’s Chief Marketing Officer, explains how they’ve added social platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Pandora into the mix to create the Ultimate Chart, a new music chart giving industry heavyweights Billboard and Soundscan a run for their money.

Speaking of media metrics, the biggest entertainment launch in history occurred last week and it wasn’t a James Cameron movie. In fact, it wasn’t a movie at all, but a video game. “Call of Duty: Black Ops” earned  a record setting $360 million in its first day alone.

If that’s not strange enough for you, the biggest headlines coming out of the Country Music Awards may not have been from winners Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton or even the red hot Taylor Swift. Instead it was actress Gwyneth Paltrow who performed the title song from her upcoming movie “Country Strong”. Paltrow proved she can really belt out a tune, though whether that helps rehabilitate her career or image remains to be seen.

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