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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dodger Ownership Changes...Sale soon to come.

Frank McCourt is divorcing himself from the storied Los Angeles Dodgers.

From FOX News, broadcast rights owners for the Dodgers (click here).

The embattled owner and Major League Baseball settled on late Tuesday to sell one of the most popular teams in the sport. He owned the Dodgers for seven years before becoming embroiled in legal troubles, filing for bankruptcy protection and enduring a messy divorce that involved ownership of the team.

A joint statement said there will be a "court-supervised process" to sell the team and its media rights to maximize value for the Dodgers and McCourt. The Blackstone Group LP will manage the sale, which could include Dodger Stadium and the surrounding parking lots.

The announcement came as the Dodgers and MLB were headed toward a showdown in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware at the end of the month as mediation between both sides was ongoing.
McCourt and baseball Commissioner Bud Selig have traded barbs since MLB took control of day-to-day operation of the team in April over concerns about the team's finances and the way it was being run. McCourt apparently realized a sale of the team he vowed never to give up was in his best interest and that of the fans.

"There comes a point in time when you say, 'It's time,'" said a person familiar with the situation who requested anonymity because details of the negotiations had not been made public. "He came to that realization at the end of today."

McCourt filed for bankruptcy protection in June after the league rejected a 17-year TV contract with Fox, reported to be worth up to $3 billion, that he needed to keep the team afloat. Selig noted that almost half of an immediate $385 million payment would have been diverted from the Dodgers to McCourt.

The franchise's demise grew out of Frank McCourt's protracted divorce with Jamie McCourt and the couple's dispute over the ownership of the team. The divorce, which played out in public in court, highlighted decadent spending on mansions and beach homes and using the team as if it were their personal credit card. They took out more than $100 million in loans from
Dodgers-related businesses for their own use, according to divorce documents. In bankruptcy filings, attorneys for MLB said McCourt "looted" more than $180 million in revenues from the club for personal use and other business unrelated to the team.

"The Dodgers are in bankruptcy because Mr. McCourt has taken almost $190 million out of the club and has completely alienated the Dodgers' fan base," the baseball attorneys wrote.
As the former couple continued to fight over ownership of the team, the Dodgers' home opener against the rival San Francisco Giants kicked off a year of even worse publicity. A Giants fan, Bryan Stow, was nearly beaten to death in the parking lot. Stow's family has sued the Dodgers, and his attorney said medical bills could reach $50 million.

In the outpouring of public sympathy, attention focused on cutbacks in security at Dodger stadium and fans turned their animosity toward Frank McCourt. Scores of police were dispatched to patrol the stadium after the attack.

Dodgers attorneys claimed Selig deliberately starved the club of cash and destroyed its reputation in a bid to seize control of the team and force its sale.

"As the commissioner knows and as our legal documents have clearly shown, he approved and praised the structure of the team about which he belatedly complains," the team said in a statement.
The team was asking Judge Kevin Gross in Delaware to approve an auction of the team's television rights as the best path to exit bankruptcy. But the league wanted to file a reorganization that called for the team to be sold.

Last month, Jamie McCourt cut a deal with her ex-husband to settle their dispute over ownership of the team they bought in 2004 for about $430 million.

The terms of the settlement between the McCourts weren't disclosed publicly, but a person familiar with it who requested anonymity because it's not meant to be public told The Associated Press that Jamie McCourt would receive about $130 million. She also would support the media rights deal worth up to $3 billion.

That removed her from the number of opponents Frank McCourt was facing in bankruptcy court because Jamie McCourt had initially lined up behind MLB and Fox in asking the bankruptcy court to reject his bid to auction Dodgers television rights.

All the bad publicity appeared to drive fans away. There was a 21 percent drop in home attendance from last season and it was the first time in a non-strike year since 1992 that the Dodgers drew fewer than 3 million people.

A new owner would be the third since Peter O'Malley sold the team to News Corp. in 1998. The Dodgers had remained in the O'Malley family since Walter O'Malley moved the team from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958.

The Dodgers finished this season with an 82-79 record.

Vocal Jazz at CSN

3-D slows, Movie Tickets may go down in price!

One We Didn’t Expect

Movie ticket prices actually going down?

NATO says yes.

It’s not a huge drop, but we can’t remember the last time it happened. The reason seems to be that the 3D fad is slowing.

Classic Horror, a new radio version aired this week in Florida

The perfect Halloween story: classic radio drama, adapted from Mary Shelley's original 19th century horror novel, brought to life by The LITE FM Players.

The Cast:

Host – Ellen Jaffe
Walton – Dave Corey
Victor – Rob Sidney
Elizabeth – Susan Wise
William – Dillon Purchase
Alphonse – Bill Stedman
Ernest – Adam Schneider
Clerval – Paul Tei
Justine – Jeanne Ashley
Monster – Dave Corey
Market Woman – Luann Cardinal
Officer – Bryan Shine
Servant Woman – Sheila Miah
Blind Man – Steve Gladstone
Boy – Beth Jordan

Original Theme – Michael Hoffman
Sound Design – Matt Corey
Written, Directed and Produced by Dave Corey

The program is presented in three parts, running a total of 86 minutes.

Simply press the 'play' arrow on the first media player below, and the audio will begin.

When you come to the end of each part, please press the 'play' arrow on the next media player and the program will continue.

Frankenstein tells the story of an artificial life experiment gone terribly wrong producing a monster. Mary Shelley began writing the story at age 18; it was published when she was 21.

The actual storyline was conceived during a dream in which Shelley had a conversation with three writer colleagues resulting in a competition to see who could write the best horror story. Frankenstein was born!

The story is often considered to be the first true science fiction story.

Frankenstein Factoid:

The name "Frankenstein" often refers (incorrectly) to the monster. In the actual manuscript, words such as "monster", "monster", "fiend", "wretch", "vile insect", "daemon", and "it" refer to the monster. Frankenstein is actually the novel's human protagonist.

To listen to this newly recorded version of a classic story:

Check out TED for topics, speeches and up to date knowledge and curiosities

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act morally ... explore two art projects about storytelling ...
check in on the open-source future of science ... and hear the astonishing story of the Norden bombsight ...
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What drives our desire to behave morally? Neuroeconomist Paul Zak makes the case for a hormone called oxytocin (he calls it "the moral molecule"). Watch now >>
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After he ended up on an FBI watch list, artist Hasan Elahi was advised by local agents to let them know when he was traveling.
He did that ... and more. Watch now >>
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a molecule that might be the answer.
An inspiring look at the open-source future of medical research. Watch now >>
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Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of the Norden bombsight, a groundbreaking piece of World War II technology with a deeply unexpected result. Watch now >>

Harry Potter saves Warners, Comcast has problems but turns profit, Sony sees Red, Oscar loses a good friend

From the LA Times Company Town here for the latest industry news.

Harry Potter went out with a bang.
Time Warner Inc. said Wednesday it had third-quarter profits of $822 million, a 57% increase compared with the same period a year ago, and revenues of $7.07 billion, a jump of 11%.
Much of the gains were a driven by the strong box-office performance of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2." The last chapter of the long-running Warner Bros. franchise took in $1.3 billion around the world. For the quarter, Time Warner's filmed entertainment unit, which also includes television production, had revenues of $3.3 billion, up 17% from the third quarter of 2010. Operating income went from $209 million to $528 million.

But Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes was quick to tell analysts that Warner Bros. was more than a one-man show.

"It wasn’t all about Harry at Warner Bros.," Bewkes told analysts during a conference call Wednesday morning. "Contagion" and "Horrible Bosses" were also strong performers for the studio, as was revenue from reruns of its hit sitcom "The Big Bang Theory."

Universal and NBC are struggling but USA and other assets lead to profits for Comcast. Comcast Corp. reported strong third-quarter earnings, holding onto more cable customers than expected despite the sluggish U.S. economy. However, the media conglomerate's two NBCUniversal units turned in frowny-face results.

The NBC broadcast network and the Los Angeles based Universal movie studio posted weak numbers for the quarter ended Sept. 30. The film studio underperformed at the box office, resulting in a 7.8% revenue decline compared with the third quarter of 2010.

Tepid ratings at NBC as well as increased spending for new prime-time programming added to the drag on NBCUniversal's overall results. The broadcast TV division barely turned a profit.
As usual, NBCUniversal's collection of profitable cable television networks, including USA, Bravo, Syfy and E!, did their best to make up for lackluster numbers in the broadcast and film units.

"The core of the programming business in NBCUniversal's cable networks unit and the results were good," Craig Moffett, senior analyst for Bernstein Research, wrote Wednesday morning just after Comcast released its earnings. "But the face of NBCU is the broadcast network, and while investors were braced for a weak result, they didn't disappoint in disappointing."

Overall, NBCUniversal generated $5 billion in revenue, a 4.6% increase from the year-earlier period.  Cable networks delivered 12% higher revenue of $2.1 billion. The broadcast television division contributed $1.5 billion for the quarter, an increase of 2.9%.

The movie studio generated $1.1 billion in revenue compared with $1.2 billion in the 2010 period.  Revenue for theme parks, including Universal Studios in Los Angeles, swelled 9.1% to $580 million.
Comcast acquired 51% of NBCUniversal in January and longtime owner General Electric holds the remaining 49%.

Shocker! The debut of the NBC's newsmagazine "Rock Center" did not pump billions of profits into the network or turn around its prime-time fortunes. This is, of course, not really a surprise, but given all the attention around the show by some reporters, one would think that newsmagazines have been big ratings winners for broadcast TV for generations instead of (with the exception of "60 Minutes") viewing of last resort. In my opinion, the show was solid except for the Jon Stewart segment, which was too jokey. Also, lose that big red bowl on the table. A look at the numbers from Vulture.

Sony's TV loss and lackluster films put Sony in the Red. Sony Corp. swung to a $350 million loss its second quarter as sales of LCD televisions and other products in its flagship consumer electronics business deteriorated worldwide.

Hampered by an appreciating yen that made its products more expensive outside of Sony's home country of Japan, revenue dropped 9% to $20.5 billion in the quarter ended Sept. 30 compared to the prior year. Its losses reversed a year-ago profit of $398.5 million, Sony announced Wednesday.
The red ink is expected to bleed into Sony's full fiscal year ending in March, resulting in a $1.2 billion loss. It previously had projected a $769 million gain.

Kazuo Hirai, a senior Sony executive who is widely expected to succeed Howard Stringer as the company's next chief executive, vowed to stanch the losses, particularly in the consumer electronics division, and bring Sony's finances back to health.

"I promise to lead the turnaround plan to get us out of the red," said Hirai, who was also tapped earlier this year to be the company's corporate face during another crisis when its computers were hacked, compromising millions of customer profiles.

RIP. Producer Gil Cates, who restored luster and glamour and brought humor to the Academy Awards, died Tuesday at the age of 77. Although best known for the Oscars, Cates was also a prolific movie, television and theater producer and founder of Westwood's Geffen Playhouse. Additionally, Cates was a force in the industry behind the scenes as well, serving two terms as president of the Directors Guild of America. "There are few people in the history of the guild who have matched Gil's vision and influence on the organization and our industry," said DGA President Taylor Hackford. Obituaries from the Los Angeles Times, Deadline Hollywood and Variety.

It's the cover-up that gets you. Britain's Parliament has published a slew of documents related to its investigation of the phone hacking scandal at News Corp.'s now-shuttered News of the World tabloid that don't paint a pretty picture of how the media giant handled the crisis. In particular, the information released by Parliament's Culture, Media and Sports Committee strongly suggests that the top brass at News International, the unit of News Corp. that housed the tabloid, were warned by outside counsel in 2008 of the severity of the matter. Next week, James Murdoch, son of Rupert and the head of international operations, is scheduled to appear before Parliament again, where he will likely be grilled on what appear to be contradictions in his earlier remarks before the government body. Details on the documents and what it could mean from The Guardian.

Why pay if you don't have to? If a company can set up a page promoting its product on Facebook on the cheap, why would it spend millions advertising on the social network page? That's the question Facebook is going to have to answer as it tries to beef up its commercial revenue. The Wall Street Journal looks at how Ford spent $95 million on an ad campaign for its Ford Focus that got a lot of promotional attention via Facebook. But of that $95 million, less than 5% was spent online.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Appreciations of Gil Cates from Charles McNulty and Mary McNamara. The risks and rewards of the American Film Market.
-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I'm the Cal Ripkin of tweets.