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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Last of Doolittle's Raiders

70 Years Ago Today we struck back at Japan with Doolittle's Raiders

Doolittle's Raiders launched a daring no return bombing raid on Japan 70 years ago today.
There are five surviving raiders alive today. The attack did limited damage but showed Japan we were willing to fight back and could strike the Japanese homeland. It sent a clear message just four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, while the US was still licking our wounds and building our war machine.


Doolittle's raid is the second battle shown in James Cameron's "Pearl Harbor."

American Bandstand - "Dick Clark" (TV Actor) Dies Age 82 (1929-2012)

American Bandstand 30 Year Special - 1982 (2/11)

Dick Clark RIP. Background Checks to protect Child Actors. Rescue for Shelter Animals. Super battle over Superman. The Glory Days of NBC. Tom Petty's guitars recovered.


Kringle "No Kill LA" campaign
Photo: Kringle, a homeless dog featured in the No Kill Los Angeles advertising campaign that rolled out Tuesday in Los Angeles.  Credit: TBWA   Also See: Makaveli (click here) 

Below is from the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest industry news.

Ending the death sentence at Animal Shelters. A high-profile ad campaign rolling out this week is not designed to sell tickets, cars or computers. Instead, a prominent group of advertising executives is taking creative license to try to prevent the deaths of an estimated 17,000 animals killed in Los Angeles shelters each year.

Lee Clow, a dog-lover best known for being one of the creative minds behind the groundbreaking "1984" Super Bowl commercial that introduced the Apple Inc. Macintosh computer, is leading the "NKLA" effort. The largely pro-bono campaign, which stands for No-Kill Los Angeles, has a goal of dramatically reducing the number of animal euthanasias performed by 2017.

"Our hope and our goal is to raise the conscience and the awareness of the entire community to this problem," Clow said Tuesday in an interview. "We want to start a conversation that creates its own velocity. We want to make it a movement."

The campaign has been in the works for nearly a year.  It brings together a loose-knit coalition, spearheaded by the Best Friends Animal Society and Let There Be Dragons, a unit of the advertising behemoth Omnicom Inc.

Let There Be Dragons drew on the talent of the TBWA\Chiat\Day agency in Los Angeles (part of the corporate family) to create the campaign's visuals, website and other media platforms.
Stark, black-and-white billboards and print advertisements depict the faces of Fang, Shep, Jewel, Kringle and other abandoned cats and dogs. The animals are proxies for the thousands of occupants of city shelters.

The coalition is trying to raise awareness about the plight of unwanted animals by facilitating adoptions and encouraging people to spay and neuter their pets.

Best Friends Animal Society this year began operating a shelter in Mission Hills that the City of Los Angeles built in 2007 at a cost of more than $19 million -- but then lacked the funds to open and manage. Best Friends turned the facility into an adoption center, and plans to spend about $1 million a year managing it, according to Francis Battista, one of the group's founders.

The NKLA coalition would like to lower the euthanasia rate to 10% of animals in shelters, reserving the practice for those that are injured, sick or aggressive. Last year, Los Angeles shelters euthanized 17,000 of 56,000 animals, or 30%, according to the NKLA website.

As part of the NKLA effort, Best Friends has allocated more than $1.2 million to make grants to area rescue leagues to encourage more adoptions, and to provide financial assistance to help people who don't have money to neuter their pets.

Nissan, a client of TBWA\Chiat\Day, donated a vehicle which has since been dubbed "The Neuter Cruiser" that will be used to ferry pets to the procedures. OMD, another unit of Omnicom, secured media placements valued at about $500,000 for the print campaign. Media organizations donated space.

"We are just trying to support this coalition of rescue groups who are the real heroes in this campaign," Clow said.

Battista, of the Best Friends Animal Society, added: "We think that we can move the needle. But the only way for us to be successful is for this campaign to be owned by the entire community."


RIP: Showman, DJ and New Years Even Producer/Host Dick Clark is dead at the age of 82. He suffered a heart attack. The host of American Bandstand and related radio shows for over 30 years had power in the music industry to make and break artists. He went on to produce game shows and movies, plus the annual New Years Eve celebration from Times Square. He has been in legal disputes with the company he sold his Dick Clark Productions name and company rights to. Always smiling and always welcoming as an on camera persona, Dick Clark is an American icon.


The Skinny: The NFL schedule was announced last night, so for one brief moment I can look and fantasize that the Redskins will have a winning season. Wednesday's headlines include a push for tough background checks for those who work with child actors, News Corp. finding itself in violation of FCC ownership rules, and Universal planning a movie version of "The Rockford Files."


Daily Dose: Ratings for NBC News' TV magazine "Rock Center" are pretty bad, but anchor Brian Williams can still hold his head high at home, at least for now. Last week's "Rock Center" did manage to get better ratings than HBO's heavily hyped "Girls," whose cast includes Williams' daughter Allison. Even though "Rock Center" is on NBC and available in over 100 million homes, while HBO is only in 30 million homes, it was a close race. In fact, among female viewers age 18-34, "Rock Center" had 141,000 viewers while "Girls" averaged 114,000. Odds are "Girls" will get a second season from HBO. It seems unlikely NBC will offer that to "Rock Center."

Warner gets win in battle of rights to Superman

Photo: Part of a variant cover for DC Comics' new Action Comics No. 1, drawn by Jim Lee. Credit: DC Comics.

WB fights family of creator for rights to Superman. Warner Bros. has won the rights to use what it believes could be damaging documents in its long-running legal fight to hold on to the rights to Superman.

The ruling from three U.S. Court of Appeals judges issued Tuesday came as part of the studio's lawsuit against Marc Toberoff, a pugnacious attorney who represents the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

But Warner believes the documents will ultimately prove critical in the effort of its DC Comics division to retain the rights to the superhero, which Toberoff has asserted should revert to the Siegel and Shuster heirs in 2013.

According to Tuesday's ruling, the documents in question were sent by an attorney who formerly worked for Toberoff to Warner Bros. prior to June 2006. A cover letter that accompanied the documents said they show that the Siegel heirs' prior attorney threatened that, if they worked with Toberoff, he would testify that the heirs had previously reached a settlement agreement with the studio.
Warner is apparently hoping to use those documents in its fight over the Superman rights. A judge previously ruled that the Siegel heirs' 50% interest in Superman should revert back to them, and Toberoff is trying to win a similar ruling for the Shuster heirs to take effect in 2013. That would deprive Warner Bros. of control of one of its most valuable and iconic properties.

"We are extremely pleased that the 9th Circuit unanimously found in our favor," a Warner spokesman said in a statement. "The ruling means that defendant Marc Toberoff must now turn over critical evidence in the pending litigation against him and others."

Toberoff had argued the documents were covered under attorney-client privilege. In a statement, he disagreed with the ruling and said it would not affect the overall dispute over the Superman rights:

"We cooperated with the US Attorney's office to enable them to investigate the theft from our law firm of the Siegels' and Shusters' privileged documents. We are disappointed in today's decision which holds that such cooperation with law enforcement by the victims of a privacy crime, itself waives privilege as to stolen documents. However, nothing in this ruling or the documents at issue will affect the merits of this case. We are considering our options as to the ruling, and will continue to vigorously defend our clients' rights."

In an entirely unrelated development, an unnamed bidder paid $160,000 at an online auction Tuesday for the original check that DC comics wrote, more than 74 years ago, to acquire the rights to Superman. The check was made out to Siegel and Shuster in the amount of $412.
Kate Winslet in "Titanic"
 Photo: Kate Winslet in "Titanic." Credit: Paramount Pictures

Ticket sales in China set record $7 million record for IMAX. Imax Corp., the big-screen theater company, this week sank its previous box office record in China with the 3-D release of "Titanic."

Since its release April 10, the 3-D version of director James Cameron's 1997 epic drama starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio has grossed an estimated $74 million in overall ticket sales in China -- breaking previous box office records in that country.

That was a windfall for the studio that released the film, 20th Century Fox, and also for Imax, which accounted for a record-breaking $7 million in opening week ticket sales from 64 of its theaters in China, the company said in a statement. (The re-release of "Titanic" has so far produced $210 million in ticket sales globally, with Imax theaters accounting for $15 million.)

"As the record-breaking results demonstrate, Chinese moviegoers have a huge appetite for 'Titanic 3D,'  Jim Cameron's one-of-a-kind filmmaking, and are passionate about seeing it in the most immersive way,'' said Greg Foster, chairman and president of filmed entertainment for Imax.
The Canadian-based company, which has a large operation in Santa Monica, has been expanding its business in China. Last year, Imax formed a joint venture with China's largest cinema operator, Wanda Cinema Line Corp., to open 75 theaters in 25 locations by 2014.

Internet advertising reached a record $31 billion last year -- a gain of 22% over 2010 spending, according to a report released Wednesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Photo: An Internet cafe in Australia. Credit: Rob Griffith / Associated Press

Internet advertising reached a record $31 billion last year -- a gain of 22% over 2010 spending, according to a report released Wednesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

Advertising tied to Internet searches continues to dominate the category, accounting for 46 cents of every dollar spent online. Revenues for search advertising reached $14.8 billion in 2011, an increase of 27% from a year earlier, according to the IAB.

Mobile advertising showed the fastest growth -- amid the popularity of smartphones -- and the ability of marketers to deliver timely, relevant ads in a way that previously wasn't possible. The IAB reported that revenues rose to $1.6 billion in 2011, up 149% from the prior year.

"Clearly mobile has become a key category," said David Silverman of PricewaterhouseCoopers, in a briefing with the media Wednesday morning.

Another category showing significant growth is advertising associated with digital video. Revenue reached $1.8 billion last year, compared with $1.4 billion in 2010 -- representing a 29% year-over-year gain.

Retail advertisers continue to represent the largest buyers of Internet ads, accounting for about 22% of spending in 2011, according to the IAB.


Voting rights suspended for some shareholders. Oops. Media giant News Corp. said it is suspending the voting rights of some of its foreign shareholders because the company discovered that the level of foreign ownership of News Corp. stock had risen to 36%. That put the company in violation of Federal Communications Commission rules, which allow a company that owns TV stations here to have foreign ownership of no more than 25%. News Corp. said the suspension will continue until the foreign-ownership percentage is in compliance with FCC rules. More from the News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal.

News Corp.'s board of directors temporarily suspended the voting rights of a portion of shares held by non-U.S. citizens to comply with U.S. law, according to a regulatory filing.

The media conglomerate Wednesday suspended the half of the voting rights of foreign citizens who hold Class B shares in News Corp.  The company said its board took the action to comply with U.S. law, which limits foreign ownership of broadcast licenses to no more than 25%.

The decision would impact Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, who holds more than 56 million Class B shares.

News Corp.'s 27 owned and operated television stations, and Fox Broadcasting Co., are lucrative assets, together generating $4.8 billion in revenue and $681 million in operating profit in 2011.
The board determined that about 36% of the company's Class B stock was held by non-U.S. shareholders, and immediately suspended the voting rights of 50% of this class of stock held by foreigners.

As part of the announcement, Chairman and Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch and the family trust -- which hold nearly 318 million shares of Class B stock -- agreed to cap their voting power. The Australian-born Murdoch became a U.S. citizen in 1985 to comply with the foreign-ownership restrictions on U.S. broadcast licenses. 

"The suspension of voting rights will remain in place for as long as the company deems it necessary to maintain compliance with U.S. laws," the company said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Echo Park Film Center
Photo: Students and instructors discuss upcoming film projects at the Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles. Credit: Glenn Koenig/ Los Angeles Times

Teaching Film at the Echo Park Film Center. On a recent Thursday afternoon, 16 students ages 12 to 19 gathered around three fold-out tables in an Echo Park storefront on Alvarado Street. Shelves of film canisters, movie journals and how-to guides lined the bright red and teal walls of the 900-square-foot space.
Three teachers and a guest speaker instructed the kids to use an array of wooden blocks, plastic figurines and other knickknacks to build miniature models of their ideal cities. The brainstorming session will eventually culminate in a 16-millimeter student-made film that focuses on urban planning.
The two-hour class is part of a 12-week course from the Echo Park Film Center, a nonprofit group that serves as a unique community resource center for film. It provides free courses to disadvantaged youths to teach them how to make movies and a cinema house where aspiring independent filmmakers can screen their movies and talk about their craft. (click here for the full story from the LA Times.

The Vampire Diaries
 Photo: "The Vampire Diaries." Credit: Annette Brown / The CW.

Time for a Better Television Ratings System. Warner Bros. Television Group President Bruce Rosenblum said it is crucial that Nielsen come up with better ways to measure who is watching television.

"This is our bread and butter," Rosenblum said during in a session at the National Assn. of Broadcasters convention here. The TV industry, he suggested, needs a more "efficient and effective measurement of all the places content is being watched."

Rosenblum cited Nielsen ratings for the CW Network as a particular source of frustration. The CW, which is co-owned by Warner Bros. and CBS, carries shows that primarily target teens and young adults, an audience whose viewing habits have proved hard to track. CW's drama "The Vampire Diaries" (pictured above) averages just under 4 million viewers, and "Gossip Girl" has an audience of only 1.7 million, according to Nielsen.

"We know there are more viewers engaged in our content than we are getting credit for," said Rosenblum, who called the measurement of CW ratings by Nielsen "one of our great frustrations."
The CW has been very aggressive putting its content online soon after it airs on the network. Last month, the CW said it was cutting the window from three days to several hours from when a show aired on the network to when it went online on its website.

That move, while not hurting CW's ratings, does make it more important that reliable measurements of online viewing emerge. "Somebody will have to break the code," Rosenblum said about the challenges of measuring viewing on computers, mobile devices and tablets.

Though he was careful not to bash Nielsen, noting that the ratings company is "trying," he also noted that Nielsen still uses handwritten diaries to gather ratings information in much of the country.


Former child stars Corey Feldman and Todd Bridges are pushing for legislation to provide more oversight of child actors
Photo: Todd Bridges. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

Fighting back. Former child stars Corey Feldman and Todd Bridges are pushing for more oversight of child actors. The two are speaking publicly about their personal experiences of being molested while working in the entertainment industry, trying to help push the California Legislature to pass a bill that would require background checks for talent managers, photographers and others who work unsupervised with child actors. In 2006, a similar bill failed to get enough support to pass through the state Senate. "Without these types of precautions, Hollywood will continue to attract pedophiles with an unmonitored playing field to commit their inhumane acts," Bridges told the Los Angeles Times.

Gold watch time? Gordie Crawford, senior vice president of Capital Research and Management Co. and a prominent media investor, may be retiring. Crawford, considered to be a sharp observer of the media industry and tight with many top executives, will step back at the end of the year, Reuters said.

Who will play Angel? Normally, the Morning Fix doesn't link to stories about movie projects. But Universal is making a movie version of one of my favorite shows -- "The Rockford Files." According to Deadline Hollywood, the studio is going to remake the 70's classic with Vince Vaughn reprising the role made famous by James Garner. This is distressing to me, but I will reserve judgment until I see the final project. One suggestion: Either Seth Rogen or John C. Reilly for the part of Angel.

Score settling. Former NBC Entertainment chief Warren Littlefield's oral history about the network's glory days in the 1990s is coming out, and Brian Lowry of Variety has a review. Lowry notes -- as the Los Angeles Times did as well -- that the book takes a lot of shots at Littlefield's former boss, Don Ohlmeyer. Also missing is anything about late night, even though Littlefield had a major role in the drama that led to Jay Leno replacing Johnny Carson and David Letterman heading to CBS.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Patrick Goldstein on whether the folks who rate movies are going soft on weed. Tom Petty's stolen guitars were recovered. Having seen Petty, I can tell you the dude changes guitars after every song. Frankly, it's very annoying.

-- Joe Flint and others

Follow me on Twitter. It won't feel like work at all. Twitter.com/JBFlint



From Silicon Valley, A New Approach To Education


Four major universities are joining forces with Coursera, a Silicon Valley startup, to offer free online classes in more than three-dozen subjects.

Last year when Andrew Ng, a computer science professor at Stanford University, put his machine-learning class online and opened enrollment to the world, more than 100,000 students signed up.
"I think all of us were surprised," he says.

Ng had posted lectures online before, but this class was different.

"This was actually a class where you can participate as a student and get homework and assessments," he said.

The class was interactive. There were quizzes and online forums where teaching assistants, fellow students and Ng answered questions. In the end, tens of thousands of students did all the same work and took the same tests that Stanford students took; thousands passed.
  "Stanford has always been a place where we were not afraid to try bold new things, often without knowing exactly what the consequences were going to be," said Jim Plummer, the dean of engineering. "And this is an instance of that."

Now Ng and Daphne Koller, a Stanford colleague, are launching a company called Coursera to bring more classes from elite universities to students around the world for free online.

"By providing what is a truly high-quality educational experience to so many students for free, I think we can really change many, many people's lives," Koller says.

Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan will join Stanford. Two Venture capitalists are investing more than $15 million in the company.

Koller says she believes online classes could bring university classes to millions of people who are now effectively cut off.

But to do this, these classes have to be effective at teaching more than just computer science. How will they teach hundreds of thousands of students to write?

"You've asked the right question," asks Al Filreis, a poetry professor at the University of Pennsylvania, "which is: You are really going to try to do a poetry course?"

They are. In fact, Filreis is the guy they have roped into doing just that. He will teach modern and contemporary American poetry online for free starting in the fall. He says he knows he's not going to be able to grade thousands of essays.

But "I am really, really game and open to other ways of understanding whether people are getting it because my university has decided to let me free," he says.

Filreis isn't looking for correct answers. He wants people to think about the poems he's teaching and engage one another.

"Poetry is really good in this setting because you can read it alone and get so much out of it, and be perfectly fine with it, but the next step was [to] hang out with some intuitively smart people and collectively — together, collaboratively — let's read the poem together," he says.

In his class this fall, Filreis will discuss poetry with a small group of students while potentially thousands make comments online. Coursera is building a system like Yelp that will let these students value each others comments; the most valued and respected will rise to the top.

Will all this work? Is this a way to teach poetry or anything else? Filreis isn't sure, but he's excited to give it a try. And it's possible this fall he could reach more students with poetry than he has in his entire career.

FROM NPR's Morning Edition (click here for full story, other news and audio of NPR news stories)