Showbiz Sandbox 314: As Expected, The Oscars Shine A Spotlight On Diversity

In a year when the Academy Awards were faulted for a lack of diversity among its nominees, ceremony host Chris Rock addressed the #OscarsSoWhite controversy head on in his opening monologue by mixing pointed criticism with biting humor. Anne Thompson, Indiewire’s editor at large, brings us along as she attends the 88th annual Oscars and explains just how difficult it was to predict this year’s winners.

Mind you, award season never really ends. France handed out their own awards for last year’s top movies and we’ll tell you who won all the big prizes at the Cesars. We even look at the nominations for the Olivier Awards, the London theater equivalent to the Tonys. Literally hours after winning his first Oscar, Mark Rylance was nominated again, this time for his performance in “Farinelli and the King”.

Meanwhile, Barnes & Noble is planning to imitate its online rival Amazon by, oddly enough, opening new brick and mortar stores. And a reissue of the Alex Haley bestseller Roots brings up everything from copyright to the question of when a book goes out of print to ebook pricing.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Netflix and other streaming services have decimated video sales, PBS will launch its own cable network and Adele tops the Brit Awards.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 314: As Expected, The Oscars Shine A Spotlight On Diversity

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 169: How TV Networks Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The DVR

Major networks used to bemoan the use of DVRs out of fear that audiences would use them to skip over commercials. However, with DVRs in almost half of all US homes, they have begun touting the big audience increases some of their shows get after factoring in time shifted viewing. Scott Collins, a television reporter with the Los Angeles Times, discusses modern-day TV ratings and how the industry is coping as viewing habits change.

And if you thought television networks were in trouble, they’ve got nothing on the film industry. If you were to believe folks like film critic David Denby and a recent New York Times article, movies may not even be relevant anymore.

Talent agencies aren’t immune from all the changes affecting the industry. Last week the longtime head of ICM Partners, one of the world’s largest ten percenteries, announced he’d be leaving to start a new agency.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how a child sex abuse scandal at the BBC, the merger of publishing giants Penguin and Random House, and an Amy Winehouse musical.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 169: How TV Networks Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The DVR

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 138: Lessons Learned At This Year’s Oscars

Predicting who will win Academy Awards each year isn’t as easy as it looks. Just ask IndieWire’s Anne Thompson. She managed to pick 19 out of 24 winner’s at this past weekend’s Oscar ceremony, but there were a few categories which had everyone guessing. Thompson takes us backstage on Oscar night and explains how easy it is for someone covering the awards season, like herself, to over think how Academy voters will respond when ballots are cast.

Meanwhile, Google filed applications last week to become a cable television provider in Kansas City. What remains to be seen is whether the tech giant can obtain enough programming to attract customers.

Maybe Hollywood will welcome Google with open arms as they have with the glut of streaming video providers all vying to license premium content. Ironically, the industry seems to be ahead of the curve on a new technology they hope will make up for falling DVD sales.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including a new book from J.K. Rowling, Barbara Streisand’s new record deal and how advertising at movie theaters is being taken more seriously.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 138: Lessons Learned At This Year’s Oscars

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 136: Crafting A Story For The Grammys Through Triumph and Tragedy

Los Angeles Times entertainment reporter Geoff Boucher was on assignment at the Grammy Awards when he heard about the the sudden death of pop star Whitney Houston over the weekend. While still covering music’s biggest night, Boucher was given two hours to write Houston’s obituary for the Sunday paper.

At the same time, David Wild was backstage at the Grammys putting the finishing touches on his script for the telecast. A contributing editor at Rolling Stone and best-selling author, Wild had less than 24-hours to work with Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich and revise the awards in the wake of Houston’s passing.

After an exhausting weekend Boucher and Wild join us to discuss how this year’s Grammys focused on two voices; one looking to the future with Adele winning six awards and one honoring the past by mourning the fresh tragedy of Houston’s death.

A whopping 40 million people watched this year’s Grammys telecast, though if we were to believe Nielsen few of them were under the age of 24. Brian Stelter of the New York Times stops by to explain why young people are watching television less often.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 136: Crafting A Story For The Grammys Through Triumph and Tragedy

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 131: Broadway Flops Find New Life On The Road

Even the worst Broadway flops can wind up turning a profit once they begin touring in cities throughout the world. Patrick Healy, the theater news and features reporter for the New York Times, explains how sometimes it doesn’t matter if you make it big on the Great White Way, provided you’re a hit in Buffalo. He also provides a glimpse at what we might see at this year’s Tony awards.

Speaking of awards, the Director’s Guild, Writer’s Guild and Producer’s Guild announced their nominations for end-of-year accolades, helping to further define which films might be in the running for this year’s Oscars. Still, there doesn’t seem to be a front runner for Best Picture.

Music sales were up in 2011 for the first time since 2004. As expected, the sale of digital albums rose significantly as CD’s and other physical copies continued to decline.

Of course, we cover all the week’s top entertainment news including Van Halen’s reunion tour, new trouble for Netflix and the resignation of Disney’s marketing head.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 131: Broadway Flops Find New Life On The Road

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 124: UltraViolet Is A Solution In Search Of A Problem

More than 75 companies have teamed up to form UltraViolet, a new service that promises to give consumers the freedom to watch movies and television shows wherever and whenever they want. However, early adopters have discovered that untethering content from physical media such as DVDs can be a tedious and confusing process. As the entertainment industry experiments with rapidly evolving technologies, viewers seem hard pressed to find any benefits in moving to the cloud.

When it comes to music though, fans have already migrated to online services such as Pandora, iTunes and Amazon. Now Google is preparing to launch its own music offering which is rumored to allow users to share music with their friends and family.

And if you thought digital technology was a tough racket, so is trying to copy the success of the hit television series “Mad Men”. NBC failed with it’s 1960s drama “The Playboy Club” and ABC isn’t fairing much better with “Pan Am”, a similar knock-off. They could have picked up Charlie Sheen’s new sitcom, “Anger Management” as a replacement, but FX scooped it up before anyone had a chance.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 124: UltraViolet Is A Solution In Search Of A Problem

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 88: How Many Producers Does A Movie Need?

Other than some pointed barbs from comedian Ricky Gervais this year’s Golden Globe Awards were truly predictable. Nicole Sperling of the Los Angeles Times attended the ceremony and tells us all about it. She also explains why the Academy Awards only allow three producers to be nominated for each Best Film nominee. Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh is one of six producers on “The Fighter”, but not when it comes to the Oscars.

We are also joined by Aaron Rich, the gentleman blogger behind All The Movies I Watch and They’ll Love It In Pomona. While many media outlets are cutting back on movie critics, Aaron is part of a wave “amateur” critics who are making use of the Internet to share their passion for cinema.

Taylor Swift continues to make news with her new album. “Speak Now” topped the Billboard 200 chart again, but did so by selling the fewest units ever for a number one album. And the record industry isn’t alone in suffering from decreased sells. Video game revenue dropped 6% in 2010.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 88: How Many Producers Does A Movie Need?

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 65: Hollywood’s Love/Hate Relationship With Twitter

Last summer a number of movies had enormous box office drop offs in their second day of release and studios blamed it on what they termed the Twitter Effect. Daniel Frankel from The Wrap joins us to explain how the social media trend that was going to revolutionize word-of-mouth hasn’t demonstrably done so. Platforms such as Facebook, MySpace and even text messaging seem to influence moviegoers more than Twitter. That hasn’t stopped studios from finding modest success on Twitter by purchasing trending topics.

A number of big television news stories broke over the past week thanks to the annual Television Critics Association press tour. Ellen DeGeneres resigned as a judge on “American Idol”, but Fox may be replacing her with Jennifer Lopez. Meanwhile, Stephen McPherson, the president of ABC, abruptly resigned under a cloud of controversy relating to rumored sexual harassment investigations and was promptly replaced by ABC Family topper Paul Lee.

In the music world Kanye West may be hoping the Twitter effect will help boost sales of his upcoming album. The hip-hop star made headlines by opening a Twitter account and turning up at Facebook headquarters to entertain employees.

Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 65: Hollywood’s Love/Hate Relationship With Twitter

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 17: Twitter Makes Movie Critics Important Again

Anne Thompson of “Thompson On Hollywood” joins us again this week, with big news of her own: Her blog is now a part of the indieWire network, where she will shine the Hollywood light on outlet which has traditionally covered the indie scene. Thompson can now be read at http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood, and you can always follow her on twitter at twitter.com/akstanwyck.

Speaking of Twitter, is the social media platform responsible for the successful opening weekend of “Inglorious Basterds”? “Bruno” and “GI Joe” plummeted at the box office within their opening weekends, and box office watchers posit that social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have a lot to do with it. Bad news travels fast. Obviously so does good news – and the best news is that studios may have to start making – gasp – watchable movies!

Friday, August 21st was Avatar Day, when fans could hustle over to their nearest IMAX theatre to watch 16 minutes of 3D footage from James Cameron’s “Avatar.” Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 17: Twitter Makes Movie Critics Important Again

Play

Showbiz Sandbox 16: Hollywood Thinks Outside The Redbox

David Poland of Movie City News joins us this week.  You might know Poland from his days at the Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly or Roughcut, but he is most known as the columnist behind The Hot Button which has morphed into his blog, The Hot Blog.  He can also be seen on DP30 or his new video podcast Super Movie Friends.  You can follow Poland on Twitter by visiting twitter.com/davidpoland.

“District 9” topped the box office in North America over the weekend with $37 million, but will it have legs?  Warner Bros saved a New Line movie once again with “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” which had been sitting on the shelf since last year.  It made a respectable showing with $19.2 million.

Some interesting/baffling/exciting movie news this week. Aaron Sorkin uh, is writing, uh, a draft of the Facebook movie, which, um, is a movie about social networking.  (Listen to the episode to, ah, get the joke).  And if you think that’s crazy, Warner Bros is putting together a movie based on the Legos toys, and Bryan Singer is directing a big screen version of “Battlestar Gallactica.” Will Starbuck still be dead? Does anyone care? Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 16: Hollywood Thinks Outside The Redbox

Play