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Monday, May 7, 2012

TV and Film Actors taking work from Voice Over Artists. Sheen's Anger Management one month off. Disney to join venture on 24 hour English Language News with Univision. Who gets the big buck deals?

The Skinny: Two things about Sunday night's "Mad Men." First, using that Beatles song wasn't cheap. Second, did they have hand dryers in bathrooms in the mid-1960s? Monday's headlines include analysis of the record box office for "The Avengers," what the growing trend of movie and TV actors doing voice-over work means for professional voice actors, and Walt Disney Co.'s ABC News and Univision forming a joint-venture.

Daily Dose: Next month Charlie Sheen's much-anticipated new comedy "Anger Management," for the FX cable network, will premiere. But anyone thinking that now that Sheen's on cable he can let the obscenities fly should think again. Although FX doesn't shy away from bad language on most of its shows, including "Louie" and "Sons of Anarchy," that won't be the case for "Anger Management," which is steering clear of swear words, according to network insiders. The reason for that is the makers of the show -- Debmar Mercury -- want to sell reruns to broadcast stations to run in the early evening, so producers will be ready to wash Sheen's mouth out with soap if he starts talking dirty.

Speechless. As more television and movie stars get into voice-over work, professional voice actors are finding it tougher to land the plum gigs. Some grumble that advertisers are wasting their money on A-list talent when few listeners really spend a lot of time figuring out who's pitching them and there's no proof that having a celebrity voice boosts sales. But advertisers and marketers think having a known name can boost brand awareness. A look at how the influx of celebrities is changing the voice-over business from the Los Angeles Times.

Disney's ABC to launch join English Language 24 Hour News Channel with Univision. With Fox ready to launch a Spanish language network, Telemundo gaining ground, new Internet network networks froming for the Spanish Market, a much anticipated partnership has formed with Univision. ABC News and Univision plan to launch a 24-hour English-language news network targeting U.S. Latinos, the fastest-growing segment of the nation's population.

The as-yet unnamed television network is expected to launch in 2013, covering issues of relevance to the audience, the companies said in a joint statement. A website, along with mobile and social media content, is scheduled to debut this summer -- in time for the upcoming presidential elections.

"This exciting joint venture represents the latest example of our long-term strategy to broaden the reach of ABC," Anne Sweeney, co-chair of Disney Media Networks, said in a statement.

Latinos represent 16% of the total population in the United States, a number that is projected to increase to 30% by 2050. The demographic group wields considerable spending power, over $1 trillion.

"This alliance combines the expertise and brand strength of Univision News with ABC News' leadership and is another example of Univision's commitment to serving and empowering Hispanic America while connecting all audiences to Latino issues," said Cesar Conde, president of Univision Networks.

As part of the joint venture, ABC and Univision News would share reporting and production resources. A management team is expected to be announced this summer.
The Avengers set a record

 Photo: "The Avengers." Credit: Zade Rosethal/Walt Disney Co. 

Top this: "The Avengers" had a record-breaking opening weekend, taking in more than $200 million. That easily topped the previous record of $169.2 million raked in by  2011's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 2." "The Avengers" has already taken in more than $440 million overseas. Yes, I saw it and while it was exactly what I expected -- things get smashed up and Robert Downey Jr. makes wisecracks -- it didn't need to be almost two-and-a-half hours. Also, how many times do I need to see Grand Central Station destroyed? Box office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

Judi Dench stars in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."
Photo: Judi Dench stars in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel." Credit: Fox Searchlight
Already a hit overseas "Marigold Hotel" has strong US Debut.
"The Avengers" may have dominated the box office this weekend, but that didn't stop a handful of older moviegoers from checking in on "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel."

The well-reviewed film, which follows seven British retirees on a trip to India, debuted in 27 domestic theaters this weekend and collected $750,301, according to an estimate from distributor Fox Searchlight. That means the film notched a strong per-theater average of $27,789.

Heading into the weekend, "Marigold Hotel" was already a hit overseas with its international gross of $70 million. Playing in 17 foreign countries this weekend, the movie grossed an additional $1.3 million, raising its tally abroad to $72.4 million. The well-reviewed picture has performed best in the United Kingdom, where many of its stars — including Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, and Tom Wilkinson — hail from.

The film succeeded in the U.S. this weekend due to interest from the Baby Boomer crowd, Searchlight said. A number of matinee screenings for the movie were sold out, indicating that older adult audiences were the key demographic for the film, according to the studio's Executive Vice President Sheila DeLoach.

Searchlight and partner Participant Media financed the picture for $12 million after rebates and tax credits.

Next weekend, the movie will expand to 24 markets and will play in about 150 theaters. By Memorial Day, Searchlight hopes the picture will be in around 800 locations.

Stamp of approval. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has a lot of headaches these days, thanks to the ethics scandal at his British newspapers and a declaration by Parliament that he's not fit and proper to lead the media giant. But one group is unlikely to question or criticize Murdoch: his own board of directors. New York Times columnist David Carr suggests the News Corp. board rests comfortably in the mogul's pocket.

Change of address? ABC's comedy "Cougar Town" may be moving to cable channel TBS. "Cougar Town," which has struggled to establish itself on ABC but has a cult following, probably won't get renewed by the network for next season. TBS, which has been trying to establish a presence in comedy, is in talks on a two-season order of "Cougar Town," according to Deadline Hollywood.

Looking to sell. Comcast Corp. said it is going to unload the bulk of its minority stake in A&E TV Networks, parent of cable channels A&E, History and Lifetime. The company's majority owners -- Hearst Corp. and Walt Disney Co. -- will now have to negotiate a price. Comcast has put the value of its 15% interest at about $2 billion.

Where you'll find me. Next week the broadcast networks and a few of the big cable channels (USA, ESPN, Turner) will unveil their fall schedules to advertisers. The Hollywood Reporter has a presentation and party guide. Of course, the purpose of all this is to sell commercials. Ad Age has a look at how the ad market is looking.
Karmazin Malone

Photos: SiriusXM Chief Executive Mel Karmazin, left, and Liberty Media Chairman John Malone appear to be duking it out over control of SiriusXM. Credits: Sirius XM Radio Inc. and Liberty Media Corp. 

Score one for Mel Karmazin, the chief executive of Sirius XM Radio Inc. 
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission on Friday dismissed Liberty Media Corp.'s request for the operating licenses that would have given the company control over SiriusXM.

Liberty's request, made in March, argued that because it had 40% of SiriusXM's shares, along with five out of 13 seats on the company's board, Liberty effectively controlled SiriusXM, a New York-based satellite radio service with 22.3 million paying subscribers. Sirius strenuously protested with the FCC, and Karmazin in a recent call with investors mocked Liberty's argument as "40 is the new 50."

The FCC, in a letter to Liberty's lawyers, rejected the application. Here's the relevant rationale:
We find Liberty Media’s applications to be unacceptable for filing because they are defective with respect to “execution” and “other matters of a formal character.” Specifically, Liberty Media was unable to obtain the passwords, signatures, and other necessary information from Sirius to properly file an electronic transfer of control application. Furthermore, we conclude that a waiver of basic filing requirements is not warranted, as the facts disclosed in the referenced applications are not sufficient to establish that Liberty Media intends to take actions, such as conversion of preferred to common stock and installation of a board majority, that would constitute exercise of de facto or de jure control.

Translation: In order to get its hands on SiriusXM's operating licenses, Liberty Media would have to get the passwords and approval of executives and board members who run SiriusXM. Eddy Hartenstein, publisher of the Los Angeles Times, is a non-executive chairman of the SiriusXM board.
Calls to SiriusXM and Liberty Media were not immediately returned.

John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media, isn't one to give up easily, however. The FCC option was simply the least expensive path to gaining control of SiriusXM.

Liberty now has other, albeit costlier, options including accumulating enough shares of SiriusXM to boost its stake above 50% and staging a boardroom coup by calling a meeting of Sirius stockholders and putting the matter to a vote. But doing so could trigger a big tax bill for Liberty Media if the transaction is deemed to be an acquisition.

Liberty's executives, including Chief Executive Greg Maffei, have suggested to Wall Street investors that it could also execute a complex, but tax-free, Reverse Morris Trust, which would require Liberty to increase its share of SiriusXM above 50%.

Your move, Mr. Malone.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: A profile of AMC's head of programming Joel Stillerman, who's looking for the next "Mad Men." Subscriptions may now be required. On-line world wide available.

-- Joe Flint

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw the Avwngers opening night and I thought it was amazing! Of course my boyfriend did because he is a marvel fanatic but I am surprised that I did. I actually found it hilarious! I laughed more than my boyfriend did though.

Nicole Baxter COM 101/4080