28 Day mandtoary Delay in DVD release ends. Warner Bros.' deal with Redbox has expired with the two companies still at odds over how long consumers should wait to rent DVDs for $1.20 a night.
As a result, kiosk rental company Redbox will have to buy Warner DVDs from retailers like Wal-Mart at a higher price but will no longer make customers wait 28 days after discs go on sale to rent them, as it did under a previous agreement with the studio.
The two sides were clashing earlier this month when Warner Bros. announced it would sell its DVDs and Blu-ray discs only to rental companies that agreed to wait until 56 days after they go on sale. Warner executives believe that the delay encourages consumers to buy DVDs and Blu-rays or rent movies via video-on-demand, both of which are more profitable transactions for the studio at a time when home entertainment revenue has been shrinking for years.
Two years ago, after a similar dispute, Redbox agreed to the 28-day delay in order to buy movies directly from Warner Bros. at a discount. But Redbox has concluded that 56 days is too long to make its consumers -- who often look for new releases in the red kiosks -- wait.
In a statement, Redbox senior vice president of marketing Gary Cohen said the company "will work to provide Warner Bros.' movies through alternate means." That will most likely mean buying the discs in bulk from retailers or other distributors who charge more than the studio when it sells directly.
A Warner Bros. spokesman fired back in a statement: "The consumer is best served by a windowing and pricing structure that ensures a healthy film business continuing to deliver quality movies. We hope to continue discussions with Redbox and reach a mutually agreed upon solution to this situation, but we fully intend to do what is best for our business, our consumers and the industry as a whole."
A person close to the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said the companies had continued talks in hopes of reaching a compromise throughout January. But the two sides could not find common ground and consequently don't currently plan on having more discussions.
Among other major retailers, Netflix agreed to abide by the 56-day delay, but Blockbuster has not, meaning it too will have to buy Warner discs from other sources.
Redbox currently has direct deals with all other Hollywood studios, but its agreement with Universal Pictures expires in April. Universal currently imposes a 28-day delay, and it's not yet known whether it will, like Warner, try to extend it longer.
The first Warner Bros. release that Redbox will have to acquire through "alternate means" is "A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas," which comes out on DVD on Feb. 7.
Separately, Redbox announced Tuesday that it extended a deal to feature its kiosks at 3,700 Wal-Mart stores through January 2015.
From Schools to Media Mogul Empire. The director of communications for the New York City Department of Education has been tapped by News Corp. Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch as the media mogul's chief of staff.
Natalie Ravitz will join News Corp. in about two weeks and report directly to Murdoch. Ravitz has close ties to Joel Klein, the former chief of education for New York City who joined News Corp. in 2010 as executive vice president and is a member of Murdoch's Office of the Chairman.
In an internal email to his staff, Murdoch said, Ravitz would help him "prioritize my commitments to align with key News Corp. initiatives."
The announcement comes just one day after News Corp. announced that Teri Everett, the head of corporate communications for News Corp., was resigning.
Everett's role is being filled by Julie Henderson, who had overseen West Coast communications for the media giant and is close to News Corp. president and chief operating officer Chase Carey. While Carey is based in New York, Henderson will split her time between Los Angeles and New York.
The appointment of Ravitz to a key post in Murdoch's inner circle shows the growing clout that Klein carries inside the corridors of the media company. Although Klein was hired to oversee News Corp.'s efforts to enter the education business, Murdoch has come to rely on his counsel on other matters, including the phone hacking scandal at News Corp.'s British newspaper division.
Before running the New York City public school system, Klein served as antitrust chief at the Justice Department and was previously chief executive of Bertelsmann Inc. Last year, Lon Jacobs, News Corp.'s longtime general counsel, left after bumping up against Klein. Earlier this month, News Corp. named Gerson Zweifach, a partner at the white-shoe law firm of Williams & Connolly, its new top lawyer.
Clear Channel gains Reality Show Mogul Ryan Seacrest. Ryan Seacrest and his radio show partner Clear Channel Communications are taking their relationship to the next level.
Not only have private equity funds controlled by Clear Channel's majority owners, Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL) and Bain Capital, have committed up to $300 million to acquire and develop propeties with Ryan Seacrest Media, the producer and television and radio personality's holding company, but Clear Channel is also taking a minority stake in Seacrest's production company.
“We aim to build Ryan Seacrest Media into a leading multimedia company with diversified assets and interests,” Seacrest said in a statement. Already the host of a radio show that airs on Clear Channel stations, Seacrest also hosts Fox's "American Idol and has a growing television production company whose credits include E!'s "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and ABC's "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.”
For Clear Channel, the investment in Ryan Seacrest Productions allows the radio giant, which wants to expand further into entertainment, to stay in business with the ubiquitous Seacrest even if the radio show eventually goes away. Seacrest has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Matt Lauer when the latter's contract is up on NBC's "Today" show. Such a gig would likely mean Seacrest either moving his radio show to afternoons or scrapping it.
“Ryan is an unmatched creative talent with success across more media platforms and involvement with a greater variety of programming and venues than anyone else in the industry,” said Bob Pittman, chief executive of Clear Channel.
Seacrest has also recently partnered with entrepreneur Mark Cuban and entertainment giant AEG on a new cable channel called AXS that will debut this year and focus primarily on covering the entertainment and music industries.
Photo: Pre-shakeup cast of "The X Factor." Credit: Nino Munoz / Fox
Don't let the door hit you on the way out. Simon Cowell and the other producers of Fox's musical competition show "The X Factor" did some housecleaning Monday night. Officially gone from the show, which finished its first season without the spectacular ratings the network and Cowell expected, are host Steve Jones and judge Nicole Scherzinger. Unofficially gone is Paula Abdul, who of course worked with Cowell on the massive Fox hit "American Idol." Fox confirmed the exits of Jones and Scherzinger, but as of late Monday night not Abdul. The dirt from from Deadline Hollywood, which looks to have been first to say Abdul was toast along with Jones and Scherzinger. Additional coverage from the Hollywood Reporter.
The Daily Dose: Over the weekend, Sony Pictures unveiled plans to show fans advance footage from this summer's "The Amazing Spider-Man" in a very 21st century way, my colleague Ben Fritz informs us. Rather than "announcing" the screenings, which will take place in 13 cities worldwide on Feb. 6, the studio did their version of the Bat Signal and projected Spider-Man images in public locations, along with the address of a website where fans could order tickets (which sold out rapidly, natch). And for those wondering how Sony will differentiate July's reboot from the original "Spider-Man" movie just 10 years ago, the URL of the website selling the tickets shows that the studio is confronting that question head-on: www.theuntoldstorybegins.com.
Oscar stunt. Jack Gill has pulled off a lot of big stunts in his career, but the biggest still eludes him. The veteran stuntman is trying to persuade the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to create an Oscar for the folks behind the big stunts in movies. "It's ridiculous that we're not honored," Gill, told the Los Angeles Times. "These films can't get made without stunt coordinators."
Do they get their own trailers too? Spanish-language network Univision is taking product placement to a new level in its new telenovela "El Talisman." Not only are Chevrolet products seen throughout the show, one even has a name, and another has its own website. More on how Chevy is driving "El Talisman" from Variety.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on whether pro athletes are surpassing Hollywood stars in the eyes of the public. Concert promoters are optimistic about 2012.
-- Joe Flint and others
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Photo: Pre-shakeup cast of "The X Factor." Credit: Nino Munoz / Fox