Showbiz Sandbox 290: Disney Plans A Trip To Star Wars Land

Last week the Walt Disney Company held its annual fan club convention, the D23 Expo, which gave the company a chance not only to promote some of its highly anticipated movie releases, such as a live-action “Jungle Book”, but also announce some new additions to their popular theme parks.

Disney plans to leverage its acquisition of Lucasfilm by creating an immersive Star Wars Land at both of its theme parks in North America. The company is also working on a “Toy Story” themed land for both parks as well. This is all on top of the “Avatar” attraction Disney is building in its Animal Kingdom park in Florida.

Meanwhile, the dog days of summer are usually a slow time for live theater productions, especially on Broadway. However this year multiple shows are bringing in million dollar grosses each week, including “Hamilton” a new musical that had the courage to premiere during August.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including Sesame Street’s move to HBO, the end of Columbia House and how the late talk show legend Johnny Carson is returning to late night.

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

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

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 201: Why CBS Is Winning The Battle (And The War) Over Cable Television

For the past two weeks Time Warner Cable has been blacking out CBS networks in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets over a retransmission dispute. Despite losing more than 3 million households ratings on CBS have remained steady giving the network no reason to back down from its demands. With the new television and football seasons set to begin in September Time Warner Cable may have no choice but to cave in to CBS’ terms.

Meanwhile, this summer’s blockbuster movies continue to underperform at the box office with Disney announcing they may have to take a $190 million write down on losses from “The Lone Ranger”. Actor Johnny Depp and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have figured out who to blame for the movie’s failure; vengeful American film critics.

After being publicly trashed by George Clooney, activist investor Daniel Loeb was unable to convince Sony to spin-off its entertainment divisions. Even so, Loeb says he’s pleased since the company’s stock price is up and its management more accountable to shareholders.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a lost film from Orson Welles, a new ending for the “Finding Nemo” sequel and the surprising new owner of The Washington Post.

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

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 187: Does The Justice System Finally Understand Copyright?

Last week the Supreme Court of the United States dealt another blow to copyright owners in a landmark ruling that confirmed what most consumer advocates had been saying for years; the first sale doctrine does not have geographic boundaries. The court smacked down publisher J. Wiley & Sons’ copyright infringement lawsuit against Supap Kirtsaeng for reselling textbooks he had purchased at a discount in his native Thailand.

While major entertainment companies and trade groups like the MPAA and RIAA may have been on the losing end with the Supreme Court, an appeals court handed them a major victory by ruling in favor of movie studios who claimed that the operator of isoHunt, a large BitTorrent site, was inducing copyright infringement. The court agreed isoHunt was not eligible for safe harbor.

Meanwhile the Library of Congress announced 25 new recordings that will be added to its official preservation registry. We’ll fill you in on the grab bag of popular music, radio shows, news reports, opera and other recordings that made the cut.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including NBC’s silly decision to oust Jay Leno from The Tonight Show (again), the booming Chinese box office and “Downtown Abbey’s” record ratings.

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Showbiz Sandbox 159: Raiders of the Lost Email

We are incredibly proud of our audience here at Showbiz Sandbox and believe our dedicated listeners are the most important members of our team. Imagine how upset we were upon discovering some listener email hadn’t been making it to our inbox for the past few months. We rectify that situation on this episode, revisiting a few of the popular topics from past shows.

We debate the merits of bringing “Raiders of the Lost Ark” to the big screen again… the incredibly big screen. In fact, it’s been restored for presentation in Imax theatres.

Turns out the Olympics was the most watched television event in U.S. history, but even with that success NBC confirmed that they were lowering the salary of popular late-night talk show host Jay Leno, and laying off two dozen staff members from his show.

We also cover the week’s top entertainment headlines including saying goodbye to “The Closer” , the untimely death of filmmaker Tony Scott, a Nordic expansion for Netflix and why YouTube is where all the cool kids discover new music.

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Showbiz Sandbox 81: Kanye West Spins His Own Hype

The week of Thanksgiving is usually slow when it comes to entertainment news, but not this year. There was a horse race at the box office as Disney’s 50th animated feature nearly toppled the seventh Harry Potter film at the box office. “Tangled” received positive reviews and earned an impressive $69 million over the four day holiday weekend.

Also bowing last week was Kanye West’s fifth studio album which is being hailed by critics as a masterpiece. But even before critics had weighed in West had jumped on popular social networking platforms to promote the release and his image. A story in the Los Angeles Times claims the hip-hop star has become a master at creating and controlling his own hype. If that’s the case, then why does West have such a terrible reputation as a troublemaker?

Also trying to promote themselves via social media was Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster. The furry blue “cookie enthusiast” is campaigning to host “Saturday Night Live” starting with a video on YouTube. Don’t laugh too hard though, since “SNL” seems to be where the Oscars are scouting for hosts. Just ask two former SNL guests James Franco and Anne Hathaway who will be co-hosting the 83rd Academy Awards.

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Showbiz Sandbox 70: Digital or Bust – The Future of Reading

It seems a new electronic reading device is released every week. It’s no wonder the sale of e-books has begun to outpace traditional print copies. Ryan Chapman, the online marketing manager for publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux, talks about how the industry is dealing with the new technology and in certain instances, using it to their advantage.

Print editions are no longer a problem for Josh Jackson, the editor-in-chief of Paste Magazine. He discusses the recent decision to suspend print publication of the indie pop culture magazine.

In the television world, everyone seems shocked that the latest cast of “Dancing With The Stars” included the likes of Bristol Palin, the daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. They must be putting quotation marks around the word “star” in her case. Maybe her participation will cause politicos to rent a few episodes on their new Apple TV.

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Showbiz Sandbox 60: Reality TV Doesn’t Kid Around

If you are a minor working on a reality television series it turns out there are no child labor laws that protect you. A month long investigation by the Los Angeles Times found  dozens of kids appearing on reality programs without legal safeguards due to widespread uncertainty about how to classify the shows. Times staff writers Matea Gold and Richard Verrier reveal that most of the popular shows had not obtained work permits to employ minors. Gold joins us this week to provide all the details.

It was good news and bad news at the box office. Good news for “Toy Story 3”, which finished in first place for the second week and bad news for Tom Cruise, whose latest movie, “Knight and Day” didn’t open to boffo numbers. If you’d like to place a bet on how much Cruise’s next movie might make, you might never get the chance. The U.S. Congress is set to pass a financial reform bill that would prevent two box office futures exchanges from operating.

The government is also getting involved in the annual Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, and not in a good way. The events promoters was subpoenaed last week for an anti-trust investigation. Turns out the “radius clause” in Lollapalooza’s contract is preventing Chicago night clubs from booking musical acts. Maybe Coachella’s booking rules aren’t so bad after all.

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