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.

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Showbiz Sandbox 287: The Unofficial Line On This Year’s Comic-Con

Pop-culture fans from around the world made their annual pilgrimage to San Diego over the weekend for this year’s Comic-Con.  More than 130,000 attendees turned up to a show where the largest auditorium has a capacity of 6,000. Alex Billington, editor of FirstShowing, explains how some fans had to wait in line for days (literally) to get into popular panel discussions such as the one for “Star Wars: Episode VII”.

Billington waited out the neverending lines so he could fill us in on all the events, panels, trailers and collectibles designed to build hype for upcoming films and television shows like “Hateful Eight”, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Deadpool”. In fact, so many movie studios and television networks showed up at Comic-Con, and with so much content, one has to wonder if their marketing messages weren’t ultimately lost in all the noise.

Meanwhile, the Minions spinoff from the “Despicable Me” franchise opened to record box office in North America giving Universal Pictures yet another big hit this year. Surely the studio will want the animated film to stick around cinemas for as long as possible, whereas Paramount Pictures has teamed up with two theater chains in an experiment to shorten the release window on certain films.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a request from publishing groups for an antitrust investigation targeting Amazon, “South Park” continues to redefine television thanks to a new deal with Hulu and the Rolling Stones continue their reign as the concert industry’s top earner.

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Showbiz Sandbox 67: Cheap Digital Music Downloads Are On (Arcade) Fire

The indie rock group Arcade Fire topped the album charts for the first time in their career with the release of their third album “The Suburbs” which moved more than 156,000 copies in its first week. However more than 97,000 of those albums were sold digitally at significantly reduced prices. Are digital music downloads devaluing music? Todd Martens, a music reporter with the Los Angeles Times, joins us to explain how digital downloads are affecting the music industry.

Speaking of digital media, Netflix entered into a $900 million deal with Epix which will allow them to stream films from Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate starting in September. Meanwhile the popular television streaming website Hulu is rumored to be investigating an IPO.

Sylvester Stallone may have shown up just in time to save Lions Gate with “The Expendables” which came in first at the box office, but “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” proved a disappointment despite earning rave reviews.

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Showbiz Sandbox 11: Wild About Michael Jackson (…and Neil Diamond)

Rolling Stone contributing editor David Wild joins us this week to discuss the Michael Jackson memorial.  Wild is an Emmy-nominated television writer and a best selling author. on top of his work with Rolling Stone.  He recently worked on the magazine’s Michael Jackson tribute, and was also instrumental in putting together the pop star’s memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.  He explains some of the realities and feelings taking place behind the scenes at the event.  He also has a new book out titled He Is… I Say: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Neil Diamond, currently available on Amazon and other retailers.  You can follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/wildaboutmusic.

Audiences weren’t wild about “Bruno,” which won the weekend box office race, but didn’t perform as expected. Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock’s “The Proposal” continues to perform well – well enough that Reynolds has been offered the role of The Green Lantern in Warner Bros’s upcoming movie. Was he a better choice over Bradley Cooper and Justin Timberlake?  Does anyone even care about “The Green Lantern”?  Anne Thompson addresses that, and the future of film criticism in her blog Thompson On Hollywood. Continue reading Showbiz Sandbox 11: Wild About Michael Jackson (…and Neil Diamond)

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