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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas before Halloween, much less Thanksgiving

Occupy Wall Street Raided

Charles P. Pierce on how you can have all the freedom of speech the government and "the business community" will give you.

Industry News

Two generations say "farewell" to Regis Friday, Disney blogs for moms, Interactive TV, First Kid Chelea Clinton joins NBC,

Company Town

The business behind the show

Farewell Friday: Thanks for the memories. Regis Philbin is exiting "Live with Regis and Kelly" this Friday after more than 20 years co-hosting the national morning show. No replacement for Philbin has been named yet as Disney, which distributes the show, is going to try out lots of different hosts to see who has the best chemistry with Kelly Ripa. Again, I'm available. Philbin strolls down memory lane with the New York Times

Shrinking growth. Projections of a 6% increase in TV advertising revenue for 2011 may come up short. Over the summer, spending was up only 2%. One reason there has been a slowdown is that Hollywood is making fewer movies and hence has less to market. A tough ad market makes having to give free commercial inventory to make up for ratings shortfalls -- which is something Fox has had to do because of "The X Factor" -- even harder to swallow. Fortunately, 2012 is expected to pick up thanks to political spending and the Olympics. More on the state of the ad market from the Los Angeles Times.

Immortal performance. The action flick "Immortals" proved to be just that, taking in $32 million and the top spot at the box office. Still, my early favorite for best picture -- Adam Sandler's "Jack and Jill" -- also delivered a solid $26 million. Box office coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and Movie City News.

Work hard and you too can get ahead. NBC News has tapped Chelsea Clinton as a full-time "special correspondent." Surely everyone knows her fine work at such other media outlets as ... oh wait, she's never been a journalist before in her life. At a time when real journalists are struggling to find work, this kind of vanity hire feels like a slap in the face to the profession. More on how NBC landed this scoop-generating machine from the New York Times. Maybe Kim Kardashian can be groomed for Matt Lauer's job
Disney Moms.  Walt Disney Co. has acquired New York-based Babble Media Inc., a parenting site that features advice about pregnancy, child development and related topics from some 200 mommy bloggers. The Burbank entertainment giant has been acquiring family-focused websites in recent years, as its struggling Disney Interactive Media Group seeks to build out its online offerings for parents. Babble, launched in 2006 by husband-and-wife team Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman, attracts about 2.1 million monthly visitors -- about 483,000 of whom are women with children ages 2 to 17, according to Nielsen.

Blogs have become a vital source of information for women with children. The research firm EMarketer estimates that 54% of the 32 million mothers who go online in the U.S. every month visit blogs.

"This is an audience where there's a lot of loyal, faithful readers," said Debra Aho Williamson, an online analyst for EMarketer who wrote an October 2010 report about moms who blog. "People tend to gravitate towards certain bloggers ... and comment regularly on what they're reading. It's a very tight-knit community."

Major media companies have been in hot pursuit of mothers. Nickelodeon plans to launch NickMom, a nightly block of programs aimed at parents, late next year. It will be accompanied by a website, Nickelodeon's, to dispense parenting advice.

ConnecTV application

Recognizing that the big-screen TV is facing increased competition from tablets and other small screens, 10 television station companies have partnered with a Bay Area start-up to create a social media network for viewers of local and network programming. ConnecTV's application, which has been in the works for two years, is designed to enable viewers to interact with other fans of the TV shows as everyone watches in real time. The technology automatically detects and "checks in" ConnecTV subscribers when they tune into a program and then sends related content to their "second screen," such as a laptop or Apple Inc.'s iPad.

For example, sports fans could receive statistics of football players on their laptop or second screen as they watch the game on their big screen. Viewers of ABC's "Modern Family" could see a feed on their second screen that contains the latest news about Ty Burrell or another actor in the show.
The rollout of ConnecTV's free application -- which is currently in a restricted beta test mode -- is expected to begin in January.  Later in the year, the company is expected to introduce an application for smart phones.

The introduction is significant because it illustrates the marriage of new technologies with one of the oldest mediums, TV.  In recent years, a handful of technology and cable television companies have jumped into the fray, building services to help viewers navigate the offerings of hundreds of TV channels and, at the same time, link to social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
 "Ever since broadcasting began more than 60 years ago, people have talked about their favorite programs," said Roger Keating, senior vice president of digital media for Hearst Television Inc.  "Now, that conversation is moving over to social media platforms and as local broadcasters, we want to be part of that."

In addition to Hearst, broadcast TV groups participating in the venture include such industry heavyweights as Belo Corp., Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. and Raycom Media.

The companies collectively own more than 200 stations that reach nearly two-thirds of the homes with TVs in the U.S.  The consortium also includes TV station affiliates of the major broadcast networks.  Some of the participating TV station companies have taken a financial stake in ConnecTV, a private venture. The company would not disclose its backers.

The ConnecTV technology is expected to detect and sync with more than 250 television channels, said Ian Aaron, co-founder of the company.

"Social media is going more and more local," Aaron said. "The application we are creating will be the connective tissue" between TV channels and Twitter or Facebook.

The technology aims to give local broadcasters -- who have been hard hit during the recession as advertisers cut spending -- an opportunity to create a new revenue stream. Stations will be able to sell advertising that appears on the second screen.

TV station groups were interested in the service in the hope that it will keep viewers engaged in their programming even with the distraction of a competing electronic device. They plan to insert teases to upcoming local newscasts and other programming on the second screen.

ConnecTV was developed by some of the architects of another technology that revolutionized the TV industry more than a decade ago:  TiVo.  Stacy Jolna and Alan Moskowitz were both part of TiVo's founding team.  Aaron was former president of Gemstar-TV Guide, a pioneer of electronic TV program guides.

 San-French Film influence. Santa Monica-based Illumination Entertainment is looking more and more like a traditional animation studio. The company's owner, Universal Pictures, has acquired French animation house Mac Guff Ligne, which made Illumination's 2009 hit "Despicable Me" and is working on its next two pictures: March's "The Lorax" and 2013's "Despicable Me 2." Illumination is the family entertainment unit of Universal founded and run by former Fox Animation president Chris Meledandri. Along with "Despicable Me," Universal released Illumination's so-so performer "Hop," a live-action animation hybrid, in April.

In the past, Meledandri has said that Illumination would outsource all of its animation work rather than employ artists as competitors like Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks do. Apparently that approach has changed somewhat based on the significant amount of work that Mac Guff Ligne is doing for Illumination.

Unlike those other animation studios, Mac Guff employs fewer than 50 people on a permanent basis. It expands to as many as 350 people, however, at the peak of production on movies.
Universal is looking to Illumination to eventually provide it with two movies per year.
Mac Guff, which is based in Paris and will now be called Illumination Mac Guff, will continue to be led by its president, Jacques Bled. He will now report to Meledandri.

Disarray? What disarray? The turmoil behind the scenes of next year's Academy Awards isn't helping ABC sell the show to advertisers. According to Advertising Age, ABC is asking for between $1.6 million and $1.7 million per commercial for the show, which is flat to down slightly from the 2011 show. In fairness, the debacle around the show -- producer Brett Ratner and host Eddie Murphy were replaced last week by Brian Grazer and Billy Crystal -- probably is a less of a factor than a soft ad market when it comes to the price tag.

Culture clash. Is ICM, one of the biggest talent agencies in Hollywood, on the verge of imploding? Variety looks at the tension between Chairman Jeff Berg and President Chris Silbermann over a restructuring of the firm. Cynthia Littleton even manages to write the story without making it about herself.

Lack of community. NBC unveiled its midseason scheduling changes and left the sitcom "Community" out of the lineup, which immediately sent many TV critics to the pharmacy to stock up on antidepressants. NBC says it is just benching "Community," not cutting it from the team. The same may not be able to be said for "Prime Suspect." Vulture and Hollywood Reporter with their analysis of the moves.

The Sandusky effect. Some advertisers are wary of having their commercials run in Penn State football games in the wake of the scandal around former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who has been accused of molesting children. "The school's image is damaged and brands will disassociate," Kevin Adler, founder of sports marketing firm Engage Marketing told the Wall Street Journal. While the story primarily deals with ESPN, seems to me it'd be more interesting to see if advertisers in Pennsylvania were supporting the local radio coverage of the team or starting to bail.

Neville comes through for James Murdoch. Neville Thurlbeck -- the former News of the World reporter who is right in the  middle of the ethics scandal at the News Corp.-owned tabloid -- said James Murdoch was kept "in the dark" on the extent of hacking at the paper. More from Reuters.

Changing online options. Warner Bros. Television is starting to loosen its restrictions on when the studio allows its television shows to appear online. A new deal with ABC reflects a new approach.  In return for showing ABC some flexibility, Warner Bros. can take its shows into syndication  after three years, instead of the traditional four years. There are other caveats as well that are far too complicated to go into, but you can you read about it until your eyes glaze over in Variety.

Another chance. Ted Williams, the homeless man with the golden voice who squandered his first opportunity at a comeback, is getting another shot as the voice of New England Cable News channel, a regional network owned by Comcast. Interestingly, it was NBC's "Today" (owned by Comcast) that gave Williams huge media coverage when his down-on-his-luck story first surfaced. Williams told the Boston Herald he has been sober since May. That's hardly a  lot of time, and last time Williams got a taste of money he went on a run. Hopefully he can keep it together this time. More from the Boston Herald (courtesy of I Want Media).

"NCIS" crew films in Santa Clarita's Summit Park
Santa Clarita is rolling out the red carpet for its storied movie ranches.
The City Council for the suburban community in northern Los Angeles County recently approved a new zoning designation intended to promote filming on local ranches within a 30-mile radius. The designation establishes standard rules for shooting on the ranches, 10 of which are located in Santa Clarita. It will allow owners to build soundstages and other production-related facilities on their property without obtaining special permission. Additionally, ranch owners won't have to reapply for a special film-use permit every 10 years.

"Filming is important to us in Santa Clarita," Mayor Marsha McLean said in a statement. "We are committed to doing everything we can to support and grow California's signature industry, while making a name for Santa Clarita as the city that not only understands the industry but supports filming at every level, from ordinances and policies to infrastructure and zoning."
The vote is the latest effort by Santa Clarita to grow its movie and TV industry. It already subsidizes film permits and location fees and provides a partial rebate on hotel taxes for productions that do most of their filming in the city.

With close proximity to the Hollywood studios, several soundstages as well as its movie ranches, Santa Clarita has attracted several TV shows in recent years, including the CBS series "NCIS,"  the TBS comedy "Franklin & Bash" and the ABC game show "Wipeout," which is filmed at Sable Ranch. The city's ranches have a long history of hosting westerns, from the vintage TV series "Gunsmoke" to HBO's critically acclaimed "Deadwood."

Walt Disney Co. also is preparing to build a dozen soundstages on the sprawling Golden Oak Ranch off California 14 that hosted such movie classics as "Old Yeller." The ranch is located just outside of the city of Santa Clarita.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: James Rainey on NBC's hiring of Chelsea Clinton. Walt Disney Co. has bought the online parenting community site Babble. Relativity Media is at a crossroads but its founder Ryan Kavanaugh is not lacking for confidence. John Horn on Alexander Payne.

-- Joe Flint
Follow me on Twitter. I'm quick and to the point.

11-17-11: Let your voice be heard

The “Art of Conversation” Event in Las Vegas!

Attend an entertaining evening to learn insights and secrets to master the art of conversation.  Presented by Loren Ekroth, aka “Dr. Conversation.”  A national expert on conversation for social and business life, Loren will offer these ideas in a fast-moving, lighthearted presentation and will show you practical ways to engage others in rich conversation within minutes.

●You will meet interesting people and make new friends while talking about fascinating topics instead of the usual small talk.
●You’ll experience how to turn a conversation from “me” to “we.”
●You will learn the 4 factors others most want to know about you.
*You’ll learn a skill that will put you in the top 2% of conversationalists!

When?  November 18, 2011, Friday evening, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Where?  The Center for Spiritual Living, 4325 North Rancho, Suite 110, Las Vegas, NV 89130  (NOTE this is not a religious event, it's a good hall to meet in).
No Cost:  This event is free and open to members and the public
Host?  Dr. Loren Ekroth, professional speaker and publisher of “Better Conversations” and “Tip-a-Week” newsletters

"Dr. Conversation"
Las Vegas, Nevada
Subscribe to "Better Conversations"

Med School in Las Vegas?

Build a medical school.

There’s a lot to chew on in a 178-page report presented to the Economic Development Board on Monday, but that one stood out to me for its short- and long-term benefits.

The report, prepared by researchers with the Brookings Institution and SRI International, is a “sector analysis,” a guidebook for policymakers on what areas of economic activity we should try to specialize in and what policies to enact to get there. Not surprisingly, health care is near the top of the list.

Benefits of a medical school in Las Vegas would far outweigh the cost

Boulder Dam Hotel

Health Care in the court ..Remember Bush v. Gore and Row v Wade?

Facebook Hackers

Hackers are busy on Facebook.
They are posting insulting messages on the walls of your friends with your regards without you knowing about it.
They are also sending out X-rated pictures.
If you receive one of those messages in my name, it isn't from me.
I would NEVER disrespect any of my FB friends!!!
Put this on your wall and warn your friends.
Share the news!

Quick, name 11 sounds that you or your kids may never hear

Google set to launch music store Wednesday

Photo: Busta Rhymes is scheduled to be among the celebrity guests at Google's music announcement Wednesday. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here for the latest industry news)

Google Inc., which will launch its long-rumored music store Wednesday, is still furiously working behind the scenes to get key music companies onboard with its plan to take on Apple Inc.'s iTunes and challenge numerous competing digital music services.

After more than a year of negotiations, the Silicon Valley search giant is on the verge of signing a deal with Universal Music Group, the world's largest record company.

The deal will allow Google to sell digital downloads of Universal's vast catalog of music and offer a licensed cloud service that lets users tap into their music collection from any Web browser, said people close to the talks who declined to be named citing confidentiality of the discussions.

Google has already “locked up” a deal with EMI Group, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Last week, Universal struck a $1.9 billion deal to acquire the recorded music of EMI.

In addition, the Mountain View, Calif., technology company has reached an agreement with Merlin Network, an organization that represents 18,000 musicians through independent labels worldwide such as Beggars Group, Merge, Epitaph and Warp Records, said people familiar with Google’s announcement Wednesday. Merlin is considered the world's fifth-largest music label.

EMI, Universal, Sony, Merlin and Warner all declined to comment.

It's uncertain whether Google will be able to clear the hurdles with the No. 2 and No. 3 music giants, Warner Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, before its event, set for Wednesday afternoon at Mr. Brainwash's Studio, the La Brea Avenue compound operated by street artist Thierry Guetta, who calls himself Mr. Brainwash and was the centerpiece of the 2010 documentary “Exit Through The Gift Shop.” Musical luminaries scheduled to attend include Drake, Busta Rhymes and Maroon 5.

Roadblocks to Google’s negotiations with the music companies have revolved around copyright infringement. Record companies, for example, have been pressuring Google to exclude from its search results websites that could be trafficking in pirated music. But Google has resisted, on the grounds  that editing out websites could send its search engine down a slippery slope of censorship.

Another set of issues is simply financial. Some record companies have asked for advance payments from Google, said executives involved in the negotiations. The record companiues may be concerned that Google, whose primary revenue comes from search and video advertising, has had limited success in getting consumers to pull out their wallets.

A more intractable point of friction, however, concerns Google's online “cloud” service, Google Music Beta, which the company launched in May without licenses from the major record companies. The service lets users access their music collection from any Web browser. At issue is a desire by some record executives to have Google charge its users for the service, called Google Music Beta. Google's free service contrasts with a similar offering from Apple, which charges users $25 a year.

Throughout the touch-and-go negotiations, Google has demonstrated a willingness to forge ahead, with or without the major music companies. In September, for example, Google launched Magnifier, a music blog that gives away digital songs from independent bands to its Google Music Beta users.
The company may do the same on Wednesday and open its new store without all the licenses.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here for the latest industry news)