Showbiz Sandbox 337: Streaming Comes to the Rescue of the Music Industry (Sort Of)

September 26, 2016

After more than a decade in decline, the sale of recorded music in the United States is set to grow for the second straight year thanks to increased revenue earned from music streaming services such as Spotify. Even so, the music industry is taking in half of what it earned at its peak late 1990s because streaming revenue hasn’t made up for the falloff in actual sales.

Meanwhile, the Dalian Wanda Group continues its invasion of Hollywood by cutting a deal with Sony Pictures to market movies in China. Wanda can practically guarantee the success of a new release given that it controls the largest movie theater chain in China ensuring a film will be scheduled heavily when it opens.

There is no sure bet at Viacom however as the media giant’s leadership remains in turmoil. It’s interim CEO is stepping down sooner than expected and the vice chairman of Paramount Pictures is also exiting. Then last week the company announced it would take a $115 million loss on a movie that hasn’t even been released yet.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including a new law requiring websites like IMDb remove an actor’s age upon request, the BBC gets into a bake off battle and why Netflix is getting more original every day.

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Showbiz Sandbox 304: The Music of 2015 Was Good, Not Great

December 14, 2015

Sal Nunziato, former co-owner of the shuttered record store NYCD, is now a musician and popular music blogger. He joins us to weigh in on his favorite albums of 2015 and unlike Rolling Stone magazine, Adele’s latest release didn’t make Sal’s list. Who better to get a state of the industry report on the music business?

The end-of-year awards season continued to kick into high gear as the Golden Globes announced their nominees. The SAG Awards may matter more however, since some of the guild’s members actually vote for the Oscars. Even after these nominations the Oscar race continues to be wide open.

With “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opening this week it’s impossible to avoid news about the eagerly anticipated sequel. Disney’s secrecy over the project reached new heights when the studio held its press junket without first showing the film to the media.

Of course we also cover the week’s top entertainment news including Melissa McCarthy’s sitcom is canceled, “Dirty Dancing” is being adapted into a television musical and Apple presses pause on its plans to offer a live streaming television service.

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Showbiz Sandbox 240: Nikki Finke Is Back! And This Time It’s Personal

June 16, 2014

An infamous entertainment industry journalist who causes Hollywood executives to break into cold sweats is back on the interwebs. Nikki Finke, the founder and former editor of Deadline Hollywood whom the New York Times once dubbed “a digital-age Walter Winchell”, launched her new website last week. Using her trademark brash and personal writing style, Finke admits she is ready to spill some show business blood.

Amazon appears to be just as aggressive as Finke when negotiating with their suppliers. First the online retailer started making it difficult to purchase books from the publisher Hachette. Now they’re taking the same approach with Warner Bros. movies as they come to a new agreement with the studio. According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers we’ll all be buying more of our media on digital platforms rather than physical ones anyway.

The platform the Metropolitan Opera cares most about is the stage. However New York’s opera company is weathering some tough negotiations of its own as it tries to balance big salaries with a shrinking endowment. A recent tax filing has revealed the Met’s inner financial workings, including some of the hefty salaries it pays to employees and performers.

Of course, we also cover the week’s top entertainment news stories including Matt Lauer extends his contract at NBC, Bjork gets selected by the Museum of Modern Art and actor Harrison Ford takes that “break a leg” saying to a whole new level on the set of the new Star Wars movie.

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Showbiz Sandbox Special Episode: A Look Inside TMZ’s Michael Jackson Scoop

July 24, 2009

When pop singer Michael Jackson died unexpectedly at the end of June news organizations all over the world frantically tried to keep up with the story. What was noteworthy, and what will surely be a historical footnote to Jackson’s death, is that mainstream media such as newspapers and cable news networks were not the outlets breaking the story. That privilege belonged to the upstart celebrity news site Before it broke the Jackson story, TMZ was primarily thought of as an online version of the National Enquirer and was better known for running stories about Christian Bale’s profanity laden temper tantrums.

However Stephen Brook, a press correspondent for London’s Guardian newspaper and deputy editor MediaGuardian, believes that it is precisely the salacious content TMZ has a reputation for running that gives the site its power. Less than 24 hours after the event, Brook wrote an article for the Guardian which detailed how TMZ managed to be the first media outlet to correctly report the story of Jackson’s death, possibly six minutes before he was officially pronounced dead. Brook’s article was reprinted all over the world in dozens of newspapers and websites.

In this special episode of Showbiz Sandbox, Brook explains how he put the story together and discusses some of the highlights from his piece. Read more


Showbiz Sandbox 10: The Death Of Pop, Pinup Girls and (Possibly) 2D Movies

June 29, 2009

Roger Friedman, senior columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, and joins us along with writer Michael Giltz to discuss the death of Michael Jackson. Friedman has been covering Jackson since his first child molestation trial and is one of the trusted reporters covering the pop star’s life and death.

The Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences announced this week that the Academy Awards would now nominate ten films in the Best Picture instead of the usual five. Will this allow more deserving movies a shot at the big prize, or is this blatant pandering for higher Nielsen ratings?

“Transformers 2” stormed the world-wide box office over the weekend, but that still doesn’t make it a good movie. Read more