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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nickelodeon house cleaning! Guggenheim eyes Dick Clark Productions. For radio personality producing a movie was a real challenge. Spielberg has partial split with Disney.

Dora the Explorer
Nickelodeon, home of "Dora the Explorer," is making executive changes. (Nickelodeon)

After the coffee. Before figuring out whether if I act like Charlie Sheen I can get his job security.

The Skinny: FX gave an order for 90 more episodes of Charlie Sheen's new sitcom "Anger Management." That's not a typo. Thursday's headlines include some big executive changes at Nickelodeon and Fox, and Dick Clark Productions may have a buyer. Otherwise, it is pretty slow as most of Hollywood is on vacation this week.

Daily Dose: Over the last few months, ABC, NBCand Fox have all gotten new program planning chiefs. But the musical chairs among schedulers isn't over yet. NBC, which wooed ABC's longtime scheduling chief Jeff Bader, is now looking for a No. 2 who will handle day-to-day management of the schedule while Bader focuses on long-term strategy. ABC, meanwhile, filled Bader's position with Andy Kubitz, the No. 2 at CBS, which promptly promoted Noriko Gee, its No. 3 scheduling executive, to No. 2.

DreamWorks' Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider at the premiere of "Cowboys and Aliens."
DreamWorks Studios, led by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider, will no longer release its movies overseas through Walt Disney Studios. (Alex Berliner)

Walt Disney Studios will no longer release movies from its partner DreamWorks Studios everywhere around the world.

The two companies have renegotiated their longstanding agreement. Going forward, Disney will release movies produced by DreamWorks, the independent studio led by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider that made "War Horse" and "The Help," in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, Australia, and most of Asia.

DreamWorks has signed a deal with Mister Smith Entertainment, a new company headed by Summitt Entertainment co-founder David Garrett, to handle sales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Mister Smith (whose name was inspired by the Frank Capra classic "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington") will pre-sell foreign distribution rights to upcoming DreamWorks productions such as "Need for Speed," based on the car racing video game, and an untitled comedy from French-Canadian filmmaker and comedian Ken Scott, to local distributors in each foreign country.

That arrangement, which is commonly used by other independent studios such as Lionsgate and Relativity Media, will give DreamWorks more money for production, as the foreign partners will pay a guaranteed amount of money up front for the rights to release films.

Previously, DreamWorks fully financed its movies and then received all of the foreign box office receipts, minus a fee paid to Disney.

After several high-profile flops last year, such as "Cowboys & Aliens" and "I Am Number Four," and a new financing deal with backer Reliance Entertainment in April, DreamWorks' financial resources have been significantly decreased. The new international arrangement is thus a critical component of the studio's ability to continue making movies.

Mister Smith will not be involved in the release of upcoming DreamWorks movies "Lincoln" and "Robopocalypse," both directed by Spielberg. 20th Century Fox co-financed those films and will release them overseas.

Garrett, a former president of Summit's international unit, launched Mister Smith at the Cannes Film Festival in May together with backer Constantin Film.

Christopher J. Dodd
MPAA Chairman Christopher J. Dodd

Rare praise for Republicans from Democrat Christopher J. Dodd. Dodd, a former Democratic senator from Connecticut and now Hollywood's point person in Washington, had some rare kind words for Republicans.

Dodd, chairman and chief executive of the Motion Picture Assn. of America, Hollywood's chief lobbying group, praised the GOP's statements on intellectual property and Internet freedom during its convention in Tampa, Fla.

"The Republican Party platform language strikes a very smart balance: it emphasizes the importance of us doing more as a nation to protect our intellectual property from online theft while underscoring the critical importance of protecting Internet freedom,'' Dodd said in a statement. "I agree wholeheartedly with my friends in the Republican Party that we must protect the free flow of information on the internet while also protecting American innovators. It is imperative to our national economy and our national identity that we protect an Internet that works for everyone."

Fighting piracy has been a top priority in Hollywood, where filmmakers often complain about the blatant theft of movies and TV shows from Internet sites, many of them registered overseas.

But the MPAA's efforts to enact tougher anti-piracy laws aimed at foreign websites badly misfired in January after Internet giants, including Google and Wikipedia, led a fierce online campaign to defeat the proposed Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), viewing them as an excessive intrusion on Internet freedom.

In a concession to movie studios, music labels and television companies, Google announced earlier this month that it would tweak its search engine to penalize websites suspected of hosting pirated music, videos, games and other copyrighted content.

And then there was one. Private equity firm Guggenheim Partners is looking like the leading candidate to acquire Dick Clark Productions. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Guggenheim is now in exclusive negotiations with Red Zone Capital, the private equity firm headed by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder that is the majority owner of Dick Clark Productions. Others that were circling the company included CBS, Core Media Group and Ryan Seacrest.

Earley to rise. Fox Broadcasting has promoted its longtime marketing and public relations chief Joe Earley to chief operating officer, which is a new position for the network. In essence, Earley will be the No. 2to Fox's entertainment chief Kevin Reilly. Earley has been with Fox for almost 20 years, starting as publicist on "The Simpsons."  More on Earley from Variety.

Howard Stern
Howard Stern's radio programs are among the crown jewels of SiriusXM's lineup. (Mark Seliger / NBC)

Liberty Media has raised its stake in SiriusXM Radio to 48.8%, bringing the Englewood, Colo., media company closer to majority control of the New York satellite radio company.

The increase in ownership, from 48.1%, was reported in a regulatory filing late Tuesday by SiriusXM.

Liberty's steady march toward full control of SiriusXM is not surprising. The company has publicly stated its intent to acquire a majority share of SiriusXM and is now attempting to follow through with its promise.

When Liberty crosses the 50% threshold, it will need to apply for a transfer of operating licenses from the Federal Communications Commission to fully take control of SiriusXM.

Liberty had tried, and failed, to obtain those licenses in March, when it had 40% of SiriusXM's stock. The FCC responded that Liberty needed to have at least a majority share.

A media and entertainment conglomerate, Liberty owns Starz, a digital pay-TV company, and the Atlanta Braves baseball team, and it holds shares in Barnes & Noble, Time Warner, Viacom and Live Nation Entertainment, among other companies. SiriusXM was formed in 2008 with the merger of two struggling satellite radio companies -- Sirius and XM Radio.

Once on the verge of bankruptcy, SiriusXM has become a cash machine in recent years. It posted a $427-million profit last year, up tenfold from 2010. Revenue of $3 billion was up 7% from 2010, thanks to a steadily growing number of subscribers. SiriusXM currently has 23 million customers who pay anywhere from $8 to $18 a month for access to its 140 specialty radio channels.

Liberty's executives have said they plan to combine SiriusXM with another property, likely its Starz pay-TV business, and spin the combined entity off as a separate company in order to avoid paying taxes for acquiring SiriusXM.
'Sleepwalk With Me'
Host and exectutive producer of "This American Life," Ira Glass, left, produced comedian Mike Birbiglia's "Sleepwalk With Me." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / August 30, 2012)
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Radio host Ira Glass ("This American Life") learns that producing a movie is no walk in the park.

Follow me on Twitter to a funnier tomorrow. @JBFlint.

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