Showbiz Sandbox 225: Comcast and TimeWarner Cable Is A Marriage Made In….

February 17, 2014

The proposed merger of Comcast and TimeWarner Cable has presented industry analysts with a number of complicated questions. Providing some of the answers is David Gelles, a business reporter for the New York Times, who joins us to provide background and insight into a transformative $45 billion deal that would combine the two largest media and technology providers in North America.

Though there are no legislative restrictions, will the U.S. government try to prevent to the two cable giants from consolidating? What concessions will the regulators ask of Comcast if allowing the merger to go through? How will consolidation give Comcast leverage in negotiations with content providers? Would the combined companies have too much control over the media? Most importantly, what does all of this mean for consumers?

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, the BAFTA awards were handed out over the weekend to films with strong British ties. That wasn’t the case at the Berlin Film Festival where Chinese movies took home the top prizes.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” debut, actress Ellen Page’s inspiring coming-out speech, and an update on actor Shia Labeouf’s latest performance art stunt.

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Showbiz Sandbox 224: How Leno’s Departure Will Affect Late Night and Los Angeles

February 10, 2014

When Jay Leno signed off as host of “The Tonight Show” last week he left late night television and the city of Los Angeles in different states than when he first began the job 22-years earlier. Scott Collins, TV reporter for the Los Angeles Times, discusses the legacy Leno leaves behind in a late night landscape that now includes two dozen shows, along with what “The Tonight Show’s” move to New York City means for L.A. production jobs.

If you weren’t one of the more than 14 million viewers tuning in to Leno’s last late night stints, then maybe you’re watching the Winter Olympics. Networks such as NBC in the United States are making it easier to stream the Olympic Games online… sort of. The catch is that you must already be a subscriber to cable or satellite television services.

Meanwhile the Berlin Film Festival is currently taking place in Germany though the person making most of the headlines at the event is an actor who claims to no longer be famous. Can you guess who it is? (Hint: It’s Shia Labeouf).

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including singer Clay Aiken’s run for seat in Congress, Fox puts an end to the “X Factor” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers get called out for miming their Super Bowl halftime performance.

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Showbiz Sandbox 222: Grammys Spin Positive Message Into Big Ratings

January 28, 2014

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 220: Content Owners Can’t Afford Your New 4K Ultra HD Television

January 13, 2014

Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas manufacturers stirred up a lot of buzz around 4K Ultra HD television sets. The proven and tested technology promises resolution four times greater than current high definition monitors. The biggest hurdle the industry must overcome for Ultra HD to work are the economics, specifically the high cost of delivering 4K content.

For those consumers who have given up on cable and broadcast television, commonly referred to as “cord-cutters”, the good news is they will now be able to watch wrestling via streaming video thanks to the WWE’s new online only network. However, the United States Supreme Court will decide whether they can continue using Aereo to stream local broadcast channels.

Meanwhile, this year’s awards season continues to chug along as the Golden Globes are handed out and the Director’s Guild of America announced their nominations.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including why Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus are too sexy for France, the demographics of last year’s Broadway ticket sales and whether a movie critic’s tweets can be used in advertisements.

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Showbiz Sandbox 218: Reports of Hollywood’s Demise Are Greatly Exaggerated

December 23, 2013

Beating up on the film business seems to be all the rage lately, as witnessed by the New York Times recently suggesting the industry was in “survival mode”. Yet the worldwide box office is about to break another all-time record and home video revenue actually went up in 2012. With grosses rising in several sectors, including television, why is there still a debate over the health of the business?

Speaking of debates, just about everyone this past week seemed to have an opinion about the controversial comments made by Phil Robertson, the 67-year-old patriarch of the family that runs the Louisiana hunting supply company depicted in the A&E reality series “Duck Dynasty”. Was the network too quick in their response by suspending Robertson?

Amazon and Target also acted quickly this past week when they announced they would not be selling physical copies of Beyoncé’s latest album after, in a surprise move just days before, she released it exclusively on iTunes.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including the end of Katie Couric’s daytime talk show, Shia LaBeouf’s plagiarism and how talent agencies are relying on sports to grow their business.

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Showbiz Sandbox 188: Remembering Roger – Personal Recollections of the World’s Most Famous Film Critic

April 8, 2013

The death of film critic Roger Ebert last week after a lengthy and public battle with cancer was followed by an endless stream of heartfelt appreciations. Arguably one of the most recognized and influential movie critics in the world, few were aware of Ebert’s generosity, especially when it came to fellow critics and journalists.

David Poland of Movie City News and Anne Thompson of Indiewire join our hosts in discussing a few of the personal memories each has of Ebert from spending time with him over the years. For instance, did you know filmmaker Michael Moore credits Ebert with helping spread the word about the his first movie? Or that Ebert was an early investor in a little web startup named Google?

Meanwhile, late night television dominated the entertainment news last week as NBC officially announced they would not be renewing Jay Leno’s contract as host of the “Tonight Show” in order to bring in the younger Jimmy Fallon. The move has been widely hailed as a boneheaded attempt to win ratings in key demos as competition increases, but in the end Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” might still bring in more viewers.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including Pixar’s “Finding Nemo” sequel, “American Idol’s” declining ratings and why take-down notices issued by movie studios are actually helping pirates, not hindering them.

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Showbiz Sandbox 175: Fixing Electronic Oscar Voting In One Easy Step

December 31, 2012

When the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced it would allow electronic voting for this year’s Oscar nominations many industry insiders felt it was long overdue.  However with a median age of 62, the Academy’s membership may not be ready to cast ballots online.  Heck, some members don’t even have computers.

Now reports have emerged that the Academy’s electronic voting procedure has hit a few speed bumps.  Members have had password problems and those that were able to log into the voting system found it difficult and complicated.  Some fear that voting for the Oscars will reach an all-time low.  Yet there may be a very simple way to overcome some of the security concerns the Academy and its members have in casting online ballots.

The National Film Registry cast a vote of their own last week, adding 25 films to its archives in the Library of Congress, declaring them culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.  Unfortunately this doesn’t necessarily mean these films will actually be preserved.

Of course, we cover the week’s top entertainment headlines, including a lucrative holiday box office, big changes for “The Walking Dead” and a historical court ruling for screenwriters.

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Showbiz Sandbox 68: Who Said Jennifer Aniston Was A Movie Star?

August 23, 2010

Who would have guessed that in this day and age a Sylvester Stallone movie could top the box office for two straight weeks. But Sly’s “The Expendables” finished first with $16 million beating out five new releases including the Jennifer Aniston vehicle “Switched”. The dramedy opened to a disappointing $8.1 million prompting entertainment pundits like Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times to question whether Aniston is truly a movie star.

Generating interest doesn’t seem to be a problem for “The Social Network”, which details the founding of Facebook. More than six weeks before its release the film directed by David Fincher is getting a ton of early Oscar buzz.

Google is also making waves in Hollywood. A book about the company’s early days is being turned into a movie and Google TV has the industry worried that consumers will start canceling their cable subscriptions en masse. According to a story in the New York Times however, Americans have not been cutting their cable cords in the large numbers once predicted. Instead, cable subscriptions have increased.

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Showbiz Sandbox 54: Le Petit Cannes – Downsizing The Festival

May 17, 2010

Two of our co-hosts, Michael Giltz and J. Sperling Reich, are still at the Cannes Film Festival. Along with David Bourgeois, who is covering Cannes for Movieline, they discuss all the films they’ve seen, which ones they’ve liked, which ones are duds and the trends emerging at this year’s festival. So far it seems Mike Leigh’s film “Another Year” is the movie everyone has liked, while Woody Allen’s latest proved disappointing.

Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood” opened the festival, though it didn’t open theatrically as well as everyone had expected. In it’s debut week it couldn’t top “Iron Man 2” at the box office.

The past week also saw some big television news. Networks have begun holding their “upfronts” to announce fall schedules. As usual a number of new shows will be hitting the airwaves and few didn’t make the cut, including “Law & Order” which NBC canceled after 20 years.   Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 2: Disney Hearts Hulu, Endeavor Hearts William Morris

May 4, 2009

Disney Hulu“Wolverine” opens big with $87 million in North American box office, Disney joins online video site, meanwhile Sony streams movies on  An advance look at NBC’s uprfront announcement about which of their television shows are being picked up and which are dumped.  Scrubs may be back on ABC next season after all.  Hasbro and Discovery are putting together a cable network. Obama’s ratings drop and McCain hosts a movie marathon.  Oliver Stone will make “Wall Street 2” with Shia LeBeouf, Chris Noth signs on to “Sex and the City 2”, Universal remakes “Drop Dead Fred” and Don Johnson will play a porn director.  Theatre chain National Amusements is up for sale and studios stop paying for 3D glasses.  Finally, it’s official – talent agencies Endeavor and William Morris will be merging.

“Wolverine” A Hero At The Box Office

Disney’s Anne Sweeney Talks Hulu: It’s All About Casual Viewers

Disney’s Hulu Deal Raises Question About YouTube Model

Denis Leary goes Hulu, mocks your ‘Tweety-pages’ and your ‘Faceyspaces’

“TV Everywhere”: Pay your cable bill, watch Entorage online

Sony Offers Free Films On Crackle

NBC Gets Rolling Before Its Upfronts

NBC Exec Dies On “Parenthood” Set

Chuck Decision Delayed For A Week Or More

Talks Continue For “Scrubs” Return

Hasbro and Discovery Plan Channel Based On Toy Brands

Full Orchestra Puts “Lost” Audience On Edge

Obama Presser Audience Slides But Still Beats Idol

McCain To Host AMC Movie Marathon

Stone To Walk “Wall Street” Again

Mr. Big To Return In “Sex and the City 2”

Universal remaking “Drop Dead Fred”

Don Johnson set to play porn director

Bruce Willis Is Living Hard

Relativity reaches deal with Lionsgate

Viacom Profit Veers Down

National Amusements Ups Ante On Auction

Biz Balks At Cost Of 3D Glasses

Battle Brews Over 3D Glasses In Europe

WMA, Endeavor Approve Merger

As Willliam Morris and Endeavor Near a Merger, a New Book May Cause Discomfort

Paradigm Makes a Move of Its Own