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Monday, April 25, 2011

KCET lot sold to Scientology


The Church of Scientology is has just bought a bigger pulpit.
The church has cut a deal to acquire the historic Los Feliz studio lot that has been home to pubcaster KCET-TV Los Angeles for the past 40 years. In a lengthy statement, the church said the deal allows it to "establish one of the most advanced centers used by religious broadcasters with the ability to harness 21st century broadcast technology and production power to deliver its message to the the largest international audience possible."
The statement said the lot and its satellite uplink facilities would serve as "a central media hub" for its network of churches around the world. The KCET lot will concentrate on "the production of television programs, short-form information films and Internet content to further Scientology's religious and charitable purposes" while its existing Golden Era Prods. outpost in Hemet, Calif., will continue to focus on producing "informational and educational films" for use among members and as part of its "social betterment and humanitarian programs."
The church also said it "welcomed the unexpected opportunity" to acquire the lot.

Company Town, Hollywood News

Seeking Next Teen Movie, Fast Five Rolls Overseas, Thor Weaker, MPAA silent on VOD, Life without Simon, Sony President Passes...

FastThe season of big summer tentpoles will kick off next weekend, when Universal Pictures' sequel "Fast Five" will drive into domestic theaters. But overseas, that film and another big-budget studio movie, "Thor," have already begun to roll out and are having some early success.
"Fast Five," the fifth movie in the franchise known for its high-speed car races, launched this weekend in four international markets and collected a strong $24 million. The 3-D "Thor," meanwhile, opened only in Australia, where it lost the box office race against "Fast Five."

Get "Rio." For the second week in a row the 20th Century Fox-distributed "Rio" is the top movie. This weekend, "Rio" took in almost $27 million. That was enough to hold off Tyler Perry's "Madea's Big Happy Family," which made about $26 million. Also getting off to a solid start was "Water for Elephants," the romantic flick starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson. Box office coverage from the Los Angeles  Times and Movie City News.
What teens want. With the "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" franchises heading toward retirement, studios are scrambling to find the next big teen thing that doesn't have a vampire or a wizard in it. TheWall Street Journal looks at what rights are being gobbled up by which studios.
Sitting on the sidelines. While the studios,  theater owners and a some big shot directors battle over how fast movies should go from the big screen to the small screen, keeping silent is the Motion Picture Assn. of America. Of course, given that the studios pay the salary of new MPAA chief Chris Dodd, it's not much of a surprise that the association would not weigh in on the issue. The Directors Guild of America is also mum on the issue. The New York Times on who is talking and who is not.
Netflix expands overseas, 
While Wall Street eagerly awaits word on where Netflix will expand next overseas, the fast-growing home entertainment company has signaled its plans to Hollywood. 
According to entertainment industry insiders, Netflix executives have said they plan to expand soon to Latin America -- with Mexico and Brazil considered particularly promising markets -- and Britain

Walmart takes on Netflix. 
One of the most remarkable things about Netflix's accelerated growth over the past few years has been its lack of competition. 
Despite Netflix's 20 million-plus subscribers and skyrocketing stock price, no other companies offer a significant online video subscription service. 
That's about to change and the world's largest retailer could be in the lead. Wal-Mart is one of several companies in talks to launch a Netflix-like Internet service, or expand existing ones, along with well-known names like Best Buy,, Dish Network and Hulu, according to people familiar with the matter. 
For much more on the potential competition Netflix could soon face, read the story in Saturday's Los Angeles Times.

Is Simon Cowell worried? Do you get the sense that Simon Cowell and Fox are suddenly nervous about "X Factor?" At first, "X Factor" was going to save Fox because "American Idol" was going to be on the way out without Cowell. Now, though, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez have kept "American Idol" going strong and the focus is on whether there will be enough of a hunger for Cowell's import. All I know is Cowell seems to be everywhere these days, as if he and the network are screaming, "Look at me!" His latest chat is with Deadline Hollywood where he again talks about potential judges and gossip about the show.
RIP Norio Ohga. On Saturday, retired Sony President Norio Ohga died at the age of 81. It was Ohga who pushed the consumer electronics company into Hollywood, overseeing the purchase of Columbia Pictures and CBS Records. An obituary from Reuters.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Netflix won't have the field to itself all that much longer. Jodie Foster on working with Mel Gibson.
-- Joe Flint and others
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