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.

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Showbiz Sandbox 246: The Emmys Have A Hopeless Scheduling Problem

August 26, 2014

It’s bad enough that the Emmy Awards honor the exact same talent and television shows every year. Now, the Emmys are really growing stale by handing out prizes to shows that finished airing before last year’s ceremony. Unfortunately, as television migrates to year round programming, there is no good time to schedule the Emmys which would make them feel more timely or relevant.

The industry-at-large was likely glad to see at least one aspect of the Emmys go unchanged as shows from broadcast and cable networks continue to win the most awards over shows from streaming services such as Netflix, which went home empty handed. There also, thankfully, seems to be a voter backlash against shows positioning themselves in odd categories.

Meanwhile, August has proven to be the cruelest month for show business with the untimely death of actor Robin Williams and the passing of Hollywood legend Lauren Bacall, among others.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Amazon public relations battle with Hachette over e-book pricing, Jimmy Fallon comes out on top in the late night television war, and Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat may see new life on the big screen.

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Showbiz Sandbox 132: Moviegoing Is Alive And Well In The Modern Age

January 16, 2012

According to mainstream media, nobody goes to the movies anymore. However news about the death of movie theaters has been greatly exaggerated according to John Fithian, President of the National Association of Theater Owners. In fact, statistical trends for the last three decades show that movie attendance is actually on the rise. In a discussion that touches on everything from the price of tickets to digital cinema technology, Fithian reveals the truth behind today’s movie going experience.

Meanwhile, the Golden Globes handed out this year’s awards. The big story wasn’t necessarily who won awards, but rather which stars were victims of host Ricky Gervais’ scathing humor. Ironically the comedian managed to steal the spotlight again by being less insulting than last year… go figure!

There is some fresh news about two antipiracy bills making their way through Congress now that the Obama administration says they won’t support them.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment news including how Spin magazine intends to review new music releases, a slight delay for the “Avatar” and Hulu’s plan for original content.

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Showbiz Sandbox 127: Has NBC Lost Touch With Its Community?

November 28, 2011

When NBC removed the quirky sitcom “Community” from their mid-season schedule the show’s cult following went berserk. Fans launched petitions via Twitter and Facebook and in an ironic twist, got the show selected as TV Guide Magazine’s second annual Fan Favorites winner. In a desperate effort to find success with their primetime programming, NBC has given the “Community” time slot to another acclaimed comedy with mediocre ratings, “Up All Night”. Is anyone minding the store at the struggling network, or are all these calculated strategic moves?

Maybe “Community” can be saved by Netflix. That’s not such a far fetched idea now that the video rental cum streaming service is resuscitating the long-canceled “Arrested Development” by producing another 10 episodes. Yet, as Netflix moves into original content, it stock price continues to decline as some of the companies cash flow problems are made public.

Meanwhile, 30 years after it occurred, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department has decided to reopen the case of Natalie Wood’s death. The legendary actress drowned under mysterious circumstances in 1981 while boating with her husband Robert Wagner. Could investigators actually find new evidence so long after the fact, or are they following tips from sources who might have ulterior motives.

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Showbiz Sandbox 126: Foot In Mouth Disease Sweeps Through Hollywood

November 14, 2011

Getting publicity in Hollywood can be a very difficult task. If you are an A-list director like Brett Ratner or a hot actor like Ashton Kutcher however, all you need to do is make a bigoted statement or fire off an ignorant Twitter post and you’ll get more ink than you ever wanted. Ratner’s homophobic slur forced him to resign as producer of next year’s Oscars, while Kutcher’s uninformed opinion on current events caused him to rethink his social media participation. Has the entertainment industry become overly sensitive or do its inhabitants just have no class? We try to figure out what all the fuss is about.

The other big news of the week was the sale of record label EMI to Universal Music Group and Sony. EMI’s owner, Citibank, decided to split the record label from its publishing arm in an effort to get the deal passed antitrust regulators. As the music industry contracts from four major record companies to three, what will it mean for indie artists and their fans?

Broadway may also be undergoing some changes soon. Long running musicals such as “Mamma Mia!”, “Chicago” and “Mary Poppins” seem to be fading fast and may need to make way for new productions such as a revival of “Porgy & Bess”, “Evita” featuring Ricky Martin and a stage version of “Bonnie & Clyde”.

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Showbiz Sandbox 119: Thompson On Toronto and Telluride

September 19, 2011

The Toronto International Film Festival has become a mandatory stop for studios opening awards contenders in the fall. The last four best picture winners at the Academy Awards, including The King’s Speech, all played in Toronto. Along with the smaller, cozier Telluride Film Festival, Toronto is where some films first start picking up awards buzz. Anne Thompson, editor of IndieWire’s Thompson on Hollywood, just returned from both festivals and provides a few details to those of us who weren’t lucky enough to go.

The Emmy Awards were held on Sunday evening and once again “Mad Men” and “Modern Family” won top honors. Though many of the award winners were predictable, there were still a few surprises, such as Melissa McCarthy from the sitcom “Mike & Molly” walking off with lead actress in a comedy. The Emmy telecast itself however was a bit of a “train wreck”.

Netflix continued to top headlines this past week after their stock price plunged 19 percent upon lowering their subscriber projections. Apparently their higher prices have scared off potential customers and caused a few to abandon the video rental service. Now Netflix has announced they will split their business in two, renaming the DVD-by-mail service Qwikster.

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Showbiz Sandbox 116: Will Hollywood Miss Steve Jobs?

August 30, 2011

Last week’s news that Steve Jobs was stepping down as the CEO of Apple caused headline writers all over the world to work overtime. Sure Jobs became a household name by helping revolutionize personal computing, but he also helped shape the modern entertainment industry with products such as iTunes, the iPod and the iPad. And we shouldn’t forget his role in founding a little animation company called Pixar. We discuss what Jobs departure from Apple means to Hollywood and why some entertainment execs may be secretly relieved to see him exit the stage.

On the other hand, news that filmmaker Ridley Scott was working on a sequel to his sci-fi masterpiece “Blade Runner” didn’t seem to please anyone. Some showbiz pundits went so far as to call the idea “catastrophically bad”. We’ll explain why.

Over in the world of television, one of the husbands on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” committed suicide causing Bravo to re-edit episodes for the upcoming season. Will the death of Russell Armstrong cause networks to rethink how they handle reality television?

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Showbiz Sandbox 90: Pick Up Artists Score At Sundance

February 1, 2011

The Sundance Film Festival was held in Park City, Utah over the past two weeks and word is that this year’s official selections were well worth the trip. Just back from the festival, Anne Thompson of IndieWire’s Thompson On Hollywood blog fills us in on all the buzzworthy films and why so many of them were picked up for distribution. Could it be the death of independent film has been greatly exaggerated?

After winning top prizes at the Director’s Guild and Screen Actor’s Guild over the weekend “The King’s Speech” has overtaken “The Social Network” as the favored Best Picture Oscar winner. More often than not Academy members follow the guild’s lead when doling out trophies in major categories, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have a few surprises in store.

Netflix continues to do battle with HBO, not only over the networks own content, but also over Warner Bros. films. Meanwhile, rumors abound that Amazon may soon be joining Netflix in the video streaming business.

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

January 17, 2011

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.

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