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Saturday, June 30, 2012

People choose their own facts, not the facts

People choose the facts they want now. They do not seek balance or center, or even truth. They choose what they want to believe and what they want to listen to, and what they want to reinforce. We are divided, polarized, and we want to to win for our side, as if this were some sporting event and the stakes were simply winning and not the lives, health, and future of others who are not as fortunate as we are.    -Drawn from dialogue in "Newsroom" on HBO

Friday, June 29, 2012

"Jobs" movie about Apple founder Steve Jobs begins shooting

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs
Apple's website announcement of Steve Jobs' death in October. (Apple / June 26, 2012)

Filming for the biopic “Jobs," the true story of Apple founder Steve Jobs, has begun on location in Los Angeles and Los Altos, Calif. The cast, which includes Ron Eldard, John Getz, Lesley Ann Warren, James Woods, Josh Gad, Lukas Haas, Matthew Modine and Dermot Mulroney, will join Ashton Kutcher, who plays the title role.

“Jobs” will be directed by Joshua Michael Stern (“Swing Vote”, “Neverwas”) from an original screenplay by Matt Whiteley, and is a Five Star Feature Film Production produced by Mark Hulme.
Another high-profile Silicon Valley themed movie, “The Social Network”, the 2010 film about the founding of social networking site Facebook, was also filmed in various locations in Los Angeles.

Getz played the role of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's attorney in “The Social Network.”
"Jobs" chronicles Jobs’ transformation from the enthusiasm and self-discovery of his youth to the personal demons that clouded his vision, and finally to the ultimate triumphs of his later life.

In “Jobs,” Gad will portray Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, while Eldard will play Apple designer Rod Holt. Getz will carry the role of Jobs’ father, Paul Jobs, and Warren will play Jobs’ adoptive mother, Clara Jobs.

This is not the only Jobs biopic in the works. Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who wrote "The Social Network," will write a Sony Pictures’ adaptation of Walter Isaacson's biography "Steve Jobs."

Eldard co-starred in “Super 8” while Warren recently co-starred on USA’s “In Plain Sight” and “Desperate Housewives.” Woods is best known for starring in "The Onion Field," "Against All Odds," and "My Name is Bill W."

The release of “Jobs” is planned for December.


Investors Rank Apple No.1
Aaron Sorkin to Write Steve Jobs as Hero in Upcoming Film 

From the LA Times Company Town Blog (click here)

Democratic Presidents Are Better for the Economy

Presidential Economic Scores


Illustration by Kiersten Essenpreis 

Bloomberg News (click here)

The prevailing political wisdom says that a U.S. president should win re-election if gasoline prices are stable, the stock market is climbing and monthly jobless numbers are declining.
There is some logic to this: Such indicators affect our pocketbooks and our psyches, whether or not the president has much control over them. Yet short-term economic fluctuations are not what make the nation strong or a president great.

Voters can decide whether to re-elect Obama according to gas prices, the monthly jobs reports and fluctuations in the stock market. Or they could take the long view and look closely at where the U.S. economy stood when he took office and where it is today.

A president is a success economically if he can help steer the country onto a longer-term path of broadly shared economic growth, and if his policies lay a foundation for sustainable prosperity for the future. Although it isn’t easy for voters to determine if a president is contributing to long-term economic success, they can do better than base their decisions on gas prices.

After three years in office, President Barack Obama has enough of a record to judge against the economic performances of other recent presidents. The rankings can help you cast a more informed vote in November -- one that doesn’t view Obama in isolation or depend on which candidate’s super-PAC spent the most on advertising.

To continue with this story go to  Bloomberg News (click here).
Bloomberg News (click here)

Health Care and other stuff from Colbert

Supreme Court refuses FCC bid to fine CBS for Janet Jackson Superbowl incident. Disney extends worldwide Oscars deal to 2020. 'Ted' to the top? Savannah Guthrie's moment.

Billy Crystal
Billy Crystal at the 2012 Oscars (Chris Carlson / Associated Press / June 29, 2012)

From the LA Times Company Town Blog
Click here for the latest industry news

Disney will continue receiving the Oscars.

The conglomerate announced Friday morning its Disney Media Distribution had negotiated a deal with the Motion Picture Academy to broadcast the Academy Awards worldwide through 2020, extending an agreement that had been set to expire in 2014. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The agreement will keep the show entirely within the Disney family -- ABC last year had signed a pact extending the Oscars through 2020 domestically as well.

The news comes about two months after the Motion Picture Academy voted to keep the annual movie fete in Hollywood, at the newly renamed Dolby Theatre, for the next 20 years.

The Oscars are broadcast worldwide to about 225 territories. In the U.S., the awards program is hugely profitable for ABC, which rakes in about $75 million a year in advertising from the broadcast.   This past February, advertisers paid a premium to reach the show’s affluent audience — $1.7 million for each 30-second spot on ABC.  Most advertisers return each year.

Last year’s domestic ratings were up slightly, with an estimated 39.3 million people watching the telecast, up from 37.9 million the year before.

The 2013 Oscars are to take place on Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theatre formerly known as the Kodak, in Los Angeles.

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake
The Supreme Court declined to reinstate a fine against CBS for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction' during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. (Associated Press)

The long legal battle between CBS and the Federal Communications Commission over Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show is over.

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to hear the FCC's request to reinstate a $550,000 indecency fine against CBS for the halftime performance featuring Jackson and Justin Timberlake, who at the end of a song tore a piece of Jackson's top, exposing her bare breast to an audience of about 90 million.

In November, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia upheld its earlier ruling that the FCC's indecency fine against the network was invalid. The court didn't say whether the incident was indecent but said  the FCC's fine represented an undisclosed change in the enforcement of its  policy with regard to "fleeting images" and hence could not be enforced.
The FCC then appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The incident, which took place during the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers, led to a crackdown by the FCC on indecent content. The National Football League was also embarrassed by the incident and has since kept a tighter grip on halftime performances and tended to feature artists over the age of 50.

In a statement, CBS said it was "gratified to finally put this episode behind us" and noted that "at every major turn of this process, the lower courts have sided with us." The network added that since the Super Bowl, it has added delays to all live programming to prevent similar incidents from happening.

The Supreme Court also rejected the broadcast industry's effort to repeal an FCC ruling limiting the ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same market.

After the coffee. Before seeing how Charlie Sheen's 'Anger Management' performed.
The Skinny: Saw "The Amazing Spider-Man" Thursday night (no I wasn't at the premiere), and while I enjoyed it, I wish Emma Stone hadn't gone blond for the part. She looked too much like Lindsay Lohan and the two already share husky voices. Very distracting. Friday's headlines include the weekend box-office preview, a look at Savannah Guthrie, who will succeed Ann Curry on "Today" and reviews of "Ted" and "Magic Mike."

Daily Dose: Come Saturday, AMC fans who have satellite broadcaster Dish as their pay-TV distributor may find themselves staring at a blank screen. Dish is poised to drop AMC this weekend, a move which means fans of "Breaking Bad," which returns next month, may have to find a new provider. Dish says AMC wants too much money for its signal. AMC says this fight isn't about money but about a separate legal battle between the companies. Regardless, it's viewers who are left in the lurch as usual.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog
Click here for the latest industry news

'Ted' is expected to do well
'Ted,' a Seth MacFarlane comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, is projected to make $40 million in its opening weekend. (Universal Pictures / June 29, 2012)

 Bear vs Brave. This weekend's box-office battle will be between "Ted," a raunchy comedy directed by "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, and Pixar's "Brave," which last week took in over $60 million. "Ted," about a man (Mark Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, is projected to make $40 million this weekend. Also premiering this weekend is Channing Tatum's stripper comedy "Magic Mike," Tyler Perry's "Madea's Witness Protection" and the drama "People Like Us." Box-office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.

"Prototype 2" is one of the video games created by Radical Entertainment. 
Activision Blizzard Inc., which earlier Thursday said it may shut down or sell its Radical Entertainment game studio, issued a follow-up statement later in the day saying it is laying off 90 developers at Radical,  or 86% of the staff, and is keeping a skeleton crew of 15 developers to work on Activision's other games.

The Santa Monica company insisted that it will not be selling Radical, which created the "Prototype" series of games. Activision cited poor sales of "Prototype 2" as the reason for downsizing the studio.
To continue reading click on More...

 Double duty. With News Corp. splitting in two, Rupert Murdoch will now be a mogul of two media giants. Murdoch spent Thursday talking to Wall Street and the media about the decision to divide News Corp. into two companies -- one that will house its movie and TV assets and another that will be home to newspapers, book publishing and its education unit. Interestingly, some wonder if the newspaper company will be the one that is active on the deal front given that there are lots of newspapers in need of a committed owner. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Times.

Just the facts? The media's rush to get the story first bit it in the you-know-what Thursday when both CNN and Fox News initially goofed on the Supreme Court's ruling on President Obama's healthcare overhaul. This is the problem when everyone shoots first and aims later. FOX News and CNN both go it wrong by not reading the document first, while NBC/MSNBC got it right. Jumping to conclusion, meeting the expectations of management and the decline in journalism all deserve part of the blame. Analysis from the Daily Beast.

Open the floodgates. A federal court ruling may make it easier for writers who think their idea got ripped off to get payback. The case in question involves actor Hayden Christensen and his brother Tove who claim the cable channel USA stole their idea for the show "Royal Pains." Details on the case from Variety.

iHeartRadio on Yahoo
Yahoo integrates Clear Channel's iHeartRadio as its "preferred" radio service. (Yahoo Inc.)

Yahoo, the Silicon Valley Internet media company, on Thursday announced it is integrating Clear Channel Communications' iHeartRadio streaming music service into its Yahoo Music site.
The pairing comes on the heels of Yahoo's announcement Tuesday that it had added Spotify's on-demand digital music service.

The two services are complementary in that iHeartRadio continuously streams songs that are similar to what its listeners say they like to hear -- similar to what Pandora does. Spotify, on the other hand, lets users choose exactly which songs or albums they want to hear, much like a jukebox -- but one with 16 million songs.

Yahoo has a standing arrangement with CBS Radio, a division of CBS Corp., which will continue to be available for now.

However, iHeartRadio will be the "preferred radio" partner, according to Lisa Goodwin, a Yahoo spokeswoman. Yahoo promotional campaigns, for example, would link to iHeartRadio rather than CBS, whose service is labeled iHeartRadio also is the site's default radio player. In addition, Clear Channel will be Yahoo's exclusive Web and mobile broadcaster for live concerts such as the upcoming iHeartRadio Music Festival.

Traffic to Yahoo's music site, which includes the radio service, grew 14% over the last year to 25 million unique visitors in May, from 21 million a year earlier, according to ComScore. Still, that's less than half of the 53.3 million people in May who tuned in to Pandora, a rival Internet radio service. (Spotify attracts 10 million listeners a month. Of those, about three million pay a monthly fee for Spotify Premium, which lets users access the service on mobile devices, among other perks.)

The addition of both Clear Channel and Spotify signals Yahoo's willingness to elevate its music and broader entertainment offerings. The company, which reaches 700 million users a month, on Wednesday announced it had hired Rich Cusick, who was senior vice president of digital media at Gemstar TV Guide, as vice president of its entertainment and lifestyle sections, which include Yahoo's Shine, Health, Movies, TV and Music sites.
On the hot seat. Although it's not official, Savannah Guthrie is expected to replace the departing Ann Curry and become Matt Lauer's new BFF on NBC's morning show "Today." Guthrie, host of the third hour of "Today" and the network's chief legal correspondent, was sitting next to Lauer on Friday's show and insiders at the network say the job is hers. A look at Guthrie from the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Betsy Sharkey on "Ted." Kenneth Turan on "Magic Mike."

Follow me on Twitter and I'll give you the world.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog
Click here for the latest industry news

Who controls our elections?

Karl Rove painted a target on my 2010 race.

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, shady groups – including Rove’s – dumped millions in unregulated cash into Colorado.

Citizens United has turned our electoral system into a silent auction. My Democratic colleagues and I are taking Karl Rove head-on with an amendment to reverse the ruling, but we can't wait to fight back.

The math is tough: Republicans have half as many seats to defend. If they gain just 4 seats, they’re in charge.

Sen. Michael Bennet

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Media Get Health Care Ruling Wrong, At First

Audio for this story from All Things Considered

A number of media outlets reported Thursday morning that the Supreme Court overturned the individual mandate in the health care law, even as the Supreme Court was announcing that the law was upheld.

CNN and Fox both got it very wrong when the story broke.

"The individual mandate has been struck down" reported FOX.

"A narrow reading of the constitution may have upheld the health care mandate."

CNN later apologised.

FOX never did apologise.

Media relying on media got it wrong.

Obama was fooled by coverage on CNN and FOX and heard the truth from this own staff.

So, can we trust media?

The fault lies in ratings driven rapid reporting, commentary without the facts, and political bias on the part of media (FOX is Republican, and CNN is trying to be "even" by leaning Republican when it is to their advantage).

Only NBC and NBC's MSNBC read to the fourth page of the over 1200 page decision before reporting correctly, without error.

Health care "debate" misses ten key points

Your opinions, views, critical thoughts and observations are encouraged. Respond in comment below. items posted on this blog do not necessarily reflect the editor, or any institution. They are posted for educational purposes and discussion.

Can Batman top the Avengers? Ted Talks Nasty. Dotcom dodges the bullet. NBC relies on news, talk and sports. Madea's Witness Protection

"The Dark Knight Rises" is poised to have a blockbuster opening on July 20
"The Dark Knight Rises"is entering the final sprint to the box office just slightly behind "The Avengers," which set an all-time record in May with its $207.4-million domestic debut.
Warner Bros.' third and final Batman movie from director Christopher Nolanmade its first appearance Thursday morning on widely used research surveys known in Hollywood as "tracking" that gauge audience interest in upcoming pictures. To continue reading this story in the LA Times click More.

Mark Wahlberg stars as a man whose best friend is a teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) in "Ted."

Mark Wahlberg stars as a man whose best friend is a teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane) in "Ted." (Universal Pictures / June 28, 2012)

Seth MacFarlane's 'Ted' to dominate stuffed box-office weekend

The potty-mouthed “Ted” will heckle the male strippers off the box-office stage, as the Seth MacFarlane comedy will take down “Magic Mike” and all other new movies hitting theaters this weekend.

"Ted," starring Mark Wahlberg as a man whose best friend is a talking teddy bear, is expected to open with a robust $40 million in ticket sales, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys. Universal Pictures, which is distributing the film, is predicting a softer opening of between $26 million and $36 million. To continue reading click on More..

Tyler Perry's "Madea's Witness Protection" will aim to appeal to an ethnically diverse audience.
Denise Richards, left, stars with Tyler Perry in "Madea's Witness Protection." (Lionsgate / June 27, 2012)

When "Madea's Witness Protection" opens this weekend, Hollywood observers may think they know exactly what to expect. The film is the 13th released by Lionsgate and written, produced, directed by and/or starring Tyler Perry, and the seventh featuring his trademark cross-dressing Madea character.

But "Witness Protection" marks a first: Never before has a Tyler Perry movie been released during the high-stakes summer movie season, which is traditionally packed with big-budget tent poles. The brand-name filmmaker has consistently found success during the "off season" for Hollywood's biggest-budget pictures, typically between February and April or between September and November.

There are plenty of examples of low-budget pictures that succeed as "counter-programming," like the recent adult drama "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" and last year's comedy smash "Bridesmaids."

Perry's "Madea" movies have been consistent box-office performers no matter what time of the year they've premiered. Movies starring the character -- a loud-mouthed grandmother played by Perry -- have all debuted with at least $25 million and typically grossed between $50 million and $60 million. (One exception was 2009's "Madea Goes to Jail," which launched with $41 million and ultimately collected $90.5 million.) To continue reading in the LA Times click More..

Matt Lauer and Ann Curry in happier times.
Matt Lauer and Ann Curry in happier times. (Associated Press / June 28, 2012)

"I'm sorry I couldn't carry the ball over the finish line," NBC "Today" co-anchor Ann Curry said during her tearful farewell speech on Thursday morning's show.

Whether Curry was apologizing to the audience or her bosses, or both, is unclear. But fairly or not, she has been pegged as the cause of NBC's ratings woes. Curry was tapped to replace Meredith Vieira as Matt Lauer's co-anchor a year ago and almost immediately ABC's"Good Morning America" started to close the ratings gap.

Now with "Good Morning America" running neck-and-neck with "Today" and even winning on occasion, NBC and its parent company Comcast can't afford to risk any further damage to its news franchise.

This season, "Today" is averaging 5.3-million viewers, which is a 4% drop from last season. At the same time, "Good Morning America" has gained 4% to 4.9-million viewers, according to Nielsen. To continue reading this story in the LA Times click on More..

Screen shot from "Prototype 2," released in April.

Activision Blizzard on Thursday confirmed it is seeking to sell or shut down Radical Entertainment, the game studio that created the "Prototype" action-adventure series of games.

The Santa Monica game company in a statement said the decision stemmed from the failure of "Prototype" to "find a broad commercial audience."

Activision did not say how long it will continue to pay Radical's 90 employees, or whether it will shut down the studio entirely. To continue reading in the LA Times click on More..

Kim Dotcom, left, founder of file-sharing site, with Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak in Auckland, New Zealand, in May. Wozniak has said that the U.S. piracy case against Dotcom is "hokey" and a threat to Internet innovation. (Kim Dotcom / June 28, 2012)

Dotcom search rules illeagle. A New Zealand judge has ruled that investigators obtained evidence unlawfully in a search of founder Kim Dotcom’s home, dealing a huge blow to the U.S. case against the online file-sharing company.

High Court Chief Justice Helen Winkelmann said in the ruling Thursday that warrants used by New Zealand authorities to conduct the search at the FBI's behest were too broadly defined and “did not adequately describe the offenses to which they were related.”

“Indeed, they fell well short of that,” she said in the 56-page ruling. “They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.” To find out more, continue reading in the LA Times by clicking on More...

Jean-Bernard Levy
The chairman and chief executive of French telecommunications company Vivendi stepped down on Thursday following a disagreement with the board. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / June 28, 2012)

Jean-Bernard Lévy, the chairman and chief executive of the French telecommunications company Vivendi, stepped down Thursday following a disagreement with the company's board.

The company, in a statement, described the tension as "a divergence of views on the strategic development of the group." News reports and financial analysts suggest that the board has been embroiled in a debate about whether to carve off assets or break up the company, which consists of European pay-television operations, including France's popular Canal+, Activision Blizzard video game company, Universal Music Group, and phone and Internet services.

The company's stock has also been stagnant.

"The most likely explanation would seem to us to be Lévy's long-standing opposition to a fundamental shake-up of the group's corporate structure," London-based Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Claudio Aspesi wrote in a research report. To continue reading this story in the Los Angles Times click on More..

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

Public Health Care Decision: The End of the World?

As always your comments on this issue, from any and all sides, are appreciated. Hit "comment" below. This is presented for educational use only, not as fact or entertainment.

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Reform Act

A divided Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Obama administration's health-care law, in one of the most anticipated high-court rulings in a generation. Jess Bravin reports on The News Hub. Photo: AP.

WASHINGTON—In a surprise conclusion to a constitutional showdown, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Supreme Court's four liberals Thursday to uphold the linchpin of President Barack Obama's health plan, the individual mandate requiring citizens to carry insurance or pay a penalty.

The Supreme Court found one part of the health-care law unconstitutional, saying its expansion of the federal-state Medicaid program threatened states' existing funding. Jess Bravin has details on The News Hub.

By a 5-4 vote, the court held the mandate valid under Congress' constitutional authority "to lay and collect Taxes" to provide for "the general Welfare of the United States." The penalty for failing to carry insurance possesses "the essential feature of any tax," producing revenue for the government, Chief Justice Roberts wrote.

Although the Obama administration always asserted the penalty was valid under the federal taxing power, until Thursday no court had fully accepted that theory. Those that upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as the law is known, did so under Congress's constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce.

The court did find one part of the law unconstitutional, saying its expansion of the federal-state Medicaid program threatened states' existing funding. The court ruled that the federal government can't put sanctions on states' existing Medicaid funding if the states decline to go along with the Medicaid expansion.
The ruling leaves the bulk of the law intact and means the fall campaign will present voters with a clear choice between Republicans who want to repeal the law and Democrats led by Mr. Obama, who spent much of the first 14 months of his term pushing his health overhaul through Congress.

To continue reading go to the Wall Street Journal by clicking here (subscription may be required).


Explore the Health-Care Ruling

Read more about the Supreme Court's decision on the health-care law.