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Friday, April 27, 2012

Is there a War on Women? Have womens rights been set back decades? Mining asteroids to finance space travel. FOX/Newscorp faces the music

The Politics of Women

Banner image: Demonstrators participate in a protest at the Hyatt Regency where Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was scheduled to attend a fundraiser on March 22, 2012 in Washington, DC. Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

To the Point: The Politics of Women

KCRW's To The Point (click here to access program).
Sara Terry

One party works to undo health care that will lower cost and insurance rates for women, women become primary breadwinners, a new recession hits women workers hardest, forced ultrasounds, contraceptives and healthcare, working women and stay-at-home moms, married women and single women, women in politics, child care, education, social services... Women's issues have dominated the political headlines over the past several weeks. Guest hosts Sara Terry asks why they've taken center stage, who benefits from the debate, and how important women voters are in this year's election. Also, James Murdoch is questioned on News Corp's political influence in Britain, and move over space tourism. Entrepreneurs have set their eyes on a new frontier, space mining.

Making News

Photo: James Murdoch. Credit: AFP/Getty Images 

James Murdoch Queried on News Corp's Political Influence in UK

In London today, James Murdoch appeared before a judicial inquiry into British press ethics and behavior. His father, media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, is expected to testify later this week in the latest chapter of a long-running scandal involving Murdoch-owned newspapers. Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson is media editor for the Financial Times.


Main Topic

Is the 'War on Women' Just a War on Words? 

Every election year, women's issues grab headlines at some point. What's being know this year as "the war on women" is being fueled by many of the same issues that always come up when the conversation is about women. Is there anything new to the latest debate? Working women versus stay-at-home mothers, and reproductive rights have all been hot topics in the past. What's different this year? Is there really such a thing as "the women's vote"? If there is, what defines it? How are the two political parties courting women, and what influence will women voters have in the 2012 election?

The past two years, under a Republican House, women's rights of choice, equal pay,  social benefits and even relief in the high cost added for insurance and health care for just being female have been under attack. Now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party for president has built these attacks into his platform. Other women say they would be better off in a return to "morality", social graces and the home.

But is it a war? Hyperbole aside, it is a very real political battle being fought between the two parties for women's votes in the all elections. Will advertising, the media and polarized politics blur the issues and influence the vote, or will their own self interest and the future of their daughters prevail?

The debate is on!


Reporter's Notebook


Mining Minerals in Space 

A group of space entrepreneurs announced today that they plan to explore a new frontier. Nearly 9,000 asteroids larger than 150 feet in diameter orbit near Earth, and a group called Planetary Resources thinks that billions of dollars could be made mining precious metals from those chunks of matter. Experts say they're pushing the boundaries of what's actually possible. Adam Mann reports on space and physics for Wired magazine.


People Falling from the World Trade Center

September 11, 2001 - As It Happened - The South Tower Attack

Are we going to college for the wrong reason? Have schools become stores where you pick and choose what you want to learn rather than challenging your mind to discover what you do not know?

Are Colleges As We Know Them Endangered?

(Flickr/anneohirsch) Author Andrew Delbanco argues that high costs and globalization are threatening the character of colleges that have historically created well-rounded citizens, who are ready to participate in a democracy. A drive to educate individuals for specific tasks, and a desire to only think about money and only about a specialized education may be robbing America of its place as a leader in research, development and great thinkers.

Here and Now from National Public Radio

Do More For 1 in 4 is a call to action to help the 1 in 4 American adults who will have a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition every year and that treatment works, recovery is the expectation, and screening is a first step to help. (from Mental Health America Website)

Voice Over is Changing

The world of voice over is changing.

For those who succeed in establishing a career, voice work remains very lucrative,  but the changing landscape has increased both the competition and altered some of the skill sets needed for a career.

Where once major city based union talent, primarily those with or who came out of broadcasting, dominated the market, today voices from all over the world compete for the same job, even local market jobs.  There has been a long time trend away from "announcer" voices to "real people", a sound that, believe it or not, takes a professional voice actor to pull off. Where once deep, smooth and resonate voices were king, today slightly higher and even slightly flawed voices are sought for radio and television voice work. It is important to sound conversational and natural, yet be able to produce the exact same read and "real" person feel for duplicate reads and matching levels.

Technology has allowed an increasing number of voice actors to enter the marketplace. Where once you had to live a half hour from the production studios, today you can live half a world away, using equipment that compared to previous generations cost pennies on the dollar. A computer, soundproofing, a qualify microphone and the proper recording and editing programs are now a manageable cost and can be set up in a spare bedroom or closet.

It use to be who you knew, with regular in person contact and relationships needed to establish and maintain a professional marketing relationship. Today many voices are judged on computer files, blind boxed without the name or location of the talent revealed to decision makers. Relationships and consistent quality of work remain important for talent to be rehired or put first in line where there is competition for the next job.

The union market is the most lucrative, with the added protection of the union, use fees, broadcast cycles and multiple use payments. However, increasingly producers are using non-union talent to save clients money, maximize their own profits and have a flow of "fresh" talent.

If you are interested in animation I suggest contacting Bob Bergan in Los Angeles.

There are beginner and intermediate coaches in  Nevada, however budget for far costlier national coaching talent and travel to where ever they teach. Even established professionals study with these coaches to keep their skills, knowledge of the business and professional connections up to date and current.

For entry level talent in Las Vegas I suggest Dr. Alice Whitfield for those who live on the west side and Melissa Moates for east side and Henderson. They are very different in their backgrounds, skills, approach and coaching techniques, so an audit may be recommended. Other coaches for entry level talent include Gretta Lorworth , Casting Call Entertainment and, in full disclosure, myself.

Support Theatre in the Libraries

Patrons of Signature Productions:

As you are aware we have not booked a 2012 season.  The Library District has decided to raise the fees for use of the Library Performing Arts Center, and we cannot afford the increase.  We have been users of the Library Theatre for the last 17 years.  This outrageous fee increase of about 570% is unacceptable, and will close the Theatre to our Musical Theatre productions, and put us out of business.

The Library District was built not only on books but also with the notion that there will be publically funded meeting and theatrical spaces.  The arts spaces have been there since the 1990's.  The theaters were built to serve the community and bring artistic and theatrical productions to the Las Vegas community.

We are a large user of the Summerlin Performing Arts Theatre, but the largest user of the space is the Las Vegas Clark County Library District itself, using it for its own programs.  It is unfair to ask the user groups, like us, to pay for their use and then also pay for the young person's library events, district departmental meetings and training sessions, seminars and human resource training and the staff salaries for the times any particular groups are not in the space.   Our group would be responsible to pay about  $54,000.00 for one of our regular season shows.  Since we book our musical theatre productions one year in advance the deposit would be $27,000.00 per show.  Since we do 3-4 shows per year it would be impossible for our group or any other production company to afford these fees.  This is outrageous to charge our Theatre Group, which is a non-profit Community Theater Company, for space that is publically funded through your taxes, and which encourages the patronage of the library system. To raise the additional money the ticket price would increase by $35-$40, taking our top price from $25 per ticket to over $60 per ticket!   

You, the public, are paying taxes for not only access to books but theatrical productions which will be taken away from the Las Vegas community.  Other libraries have already lost this service.  The Library District expected that all the current users would just rollover and pay the new fees.  I think they have been surprised that the spaces are not being booked, thus bringing them NO MONEY.

The Library District said that if there are no bookings then they will do their own programs WHICH PRODUCE NO REVENUE???  Does this sound counterproductive to the reason why they wanted to increase our fees in the first place??  You, the Public, are already providing tax dollars that funds upkeep, electric bills and staffing for the majority of the time. The charging for the use of facilities, already being funded, results in a double taxing on the public.  The technicians are paid by the District for all events whether we are there or not.

Some of you have asked what you can do to help relieve this situation.  If you will let all your friends, who have seen our shows,  know that this is happening and would they write to their City and County Commissioners who appoint these Library District Board members. Also write to the LVCC Library District Board Directors and ask them to reconsider their decision to impose these increased fees on us.  We have always been willing to talk about an increase in the fees but in a sensible way.  Thanks for your years of support for Signature Productions.

Karl M. Larsen,O.D., Pres.

Address of LVCCLD Board of Directors
LVCCLD Board of Directors
Jeanne Goodrich, Ex. Dir.
Kelly Benavidez, Chairman
Ron Kirsh, V. Chairman
Keila Crear, Sec.
Michael Saunders, Treas.
Shannon Bilbrary Axelrod
Randy Ence, Sheila Moulton
Carol Reese, Ydoleena Yturralde

Windmill Library
7060 W. Windmill Lane
Las Vegas, Nevada 89113

Address of the City officials
Mayor Carolyn Goodman

City Council Members
Steven Ross, Ricki Barlow
Bob Coffin, Lois Tarkanian
Steve Wolfson, Stavros Anthony
City Hall
400 Stewart Ave.
Las Vegas, Nv 89101


First Friday Anchor, The Arts Factory, pulls out, may sell building

Arts Factory owner Wes Isbutt puts his iconic property up for sale, blames "overbearing bureaucracy" and being forced to pay for Metro's First Friday presence for his imminent departure (click here for full Review Journal Coverage of this story).

More than 15 years after Wes Isbutt converted an abandoned warehouse into what became the heart of Las Vegas' incipient Arts District, the feisty artist turned frustrated businessman says he plans to leave town.

Isbutt has long expressed frustration with city government he describes as an overbearing bureaucracy. In recent weeks it reached a boiling point, this time over special event security requirements he argues are excessive.

That frustration contributed to Isbutt listing his Arts Factory building at Charleston Boulevard and Art Way with a commercial real estate broker and a decision to stop hosting bands, poetry or other outdoor events, including at the upcoming First Friday.

"There are so many permits we have to get every month for First Friday on my own property," said Isbutt, who also goes by the name Wes Myles and who operates Studio West Photography. "I will not pay them another penny. I am done with the extortion."

From the Las Vegas Review Journal. Click here to read the full story and for photos.

Break-up at Warner Brothers. Disney Interactive Origional Series for Moms. "The Five Year Itch". Superhero Summer starts.A most unusual Pirate. Should broadcasters report their on-line political advertising revenue and sourcess?

Ali wentworth

Photo left: Ali Wentworth, shown at the 39th Annual Chaplin Award gala in New York City, is host of the Disney Web series "Daily Shot."  Credit: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

From the LA Times Company Town Blog, click here for the latest entertainment news.

Just in time for Mothers Day. Disney Interactive Media Group has unveiled original Web series targeting an influential demographic -- moms.
Margie Gilmore, vice president of online originals, told a group of media buyers gathered for a Digital Content NewFront presentation Thursday at SoHo House that the shows strive to remain true to the Walt Disney Co.'s heritage of storytelling -- while offering an honest, open and authentic voice that some within the company found "a little uncomfortable."

"There's not a lot of pixie dust in the world of parenting," Gilmore said. "We have to strike a balance between being Disney and being relevant and real."

The new digital shows build on Disney's considerable portfolio of assets targeting moms, including Babble Media, with its extensive roster of mommy bloggers dispensing parenting advice, and iParenting Media, which operates a network of websites geared to parents.

One series, "Moms of," features interviews with the mothers of accomplished athletes, musicians, inventors and teachers. One vignette Disney screened focused on 2009 Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, whose mother, Shonda Ingram, advises, "As mothers we don't have all the answers ... you just have to keep fighting and working hard to raise your child."

Other shows, "That's Fresh" and "Thinking Up," fall into the self-help category -- leavened with humor. The cooking show is hosted by Chef Helen Cavallo, who describes herself as "50% Italian, 50% Colombian and I'm 100% New York." Each episode features one fresh ingredient that can be prepared in multiple ways.

"Moms are looking for answers. 'What's for dinner?' 'How can I feed my kids in healthy ways, in the time that I have?'" said Gilmore, who was an executive producer for Food Network. "We're working with the irresistible Helen Cavallo. ... She's so funny and so warm, and she's the kind of person the kids won't look away from, and the moms won't look away from."

Television personality and author of "Courtney's Creative Adventurers," Courtney Watkins, hosts "Thinking Up" -- which provides imaginative children's activities, drawing from her eclectic background as a teacher of kindergarten and art and a designer of jewelry, murals and greeting cards. "Courtney is like no one else I've ever met -- an embodiment in how to be a creative adventurer with and for your kids," Gilmore said. "She's a mom who can so easily access what it means to be 8 or 9 years old."

As with other media companies, Disney indulged in a bit of celebrity sizzle: comedian Ali Wentworth filmed an episode of "Daily Shot" -- a show mixing news, celebrity gossip and topical issues sprinkled with wit -- at SoHo House, instead of its typical setting at her kitchen table.

"As you can see, we're not in my kitchen," Wentworth joked in her opening. "I'm here with a bunch of really really close friends, some family, some in-laws. ..."

The Skinny: I've decided soy sauce is to vegetables what ketchup is to meat. Friday's headlines include a weekend box-office preview, a partner in Hulu wanting to cash out, and a look at a most unusual movie pirate. Also, a big break-up at Warner Bros. and a review of "The Five-Year Engagement."

Daily Dose: Later this morning the FCC will vote on whether to require broadcasters to put detailed financial information about politicians' advertising on the Web. The broadcasters have been lobbying hard to keep the actual costs of their commercials out of view. It appears they will lose that fight. However, the FCC will throw broadcasters a bone and agree to review, a little way down the road, whether putting specific unit rates for commercials on the Web had negative ramifications for their bottom line.

Five-Year Engagement
Photo: "The Five-Year Engagement." Credit: Glen Wilson / Universal Pictures 

Start throwing rice. The road to the altar should be paved with box-office gold for the Jason Segel comedy "The Five-Year Engagement." The movie is expected to take the top spot this weekend with between $18 million and $20 million in sales. Also opening this weekend are the horror movie "The Raven," the action flick "Safe" and the 3-D family film "The Pirates! Band of Misfits." I can't explain it, but there's something about the marketing for "A Five-Year Engagement" that makes it seem like it has been sitting on the shelf for a while. Box office previews from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.

Time to sell. Private investing firm Providence Equity Partners is looking to cash out of Hulu, the online video platform co-owned by News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp. Providence had invested $100 million in Hulu and is taking away about twice that, according to Bloomberg. Earlier this week Providence invested $200 million in former News Corp. President Peter Chernin's media company Chernin Group. That seems to be more than a coincidence. Additional coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

The break-up. Warner Bros. and mega-producer Joel Silver are parting ways after a quarter-century together, according to Deadline Hollywood. Silver's deal will not be renewed by the studio when it expires later this year. Clashes between Silver, who's known for his temper, and Warner Bros. apparently finally reached the point of no return.

The face of piracy. Meet Hyman Strachman, a 92-year-old World War II vet who spends much of his time making bootlegs of Hollywood hits and sending them to soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. The New York Times profiles Strachman, who by his estimate has sent hundreds of thousands of pirated DVDs to the troops for free. Although what he is doing is illegal, Hollywood has not come down on Strachman yet. My public relations advice to the movie industry is to tell him to stop, and then start doing his work for him.

Superhero summer. "The Avengers," "Batman" and "Spider-Man" are just some of the big-budget superhero blockbusters coming out this summer. USA Today looks at Hollywood's big bets for the months ahead. I just want to know who came up with "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter."

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Disney has its hands full figuring out how it will fill Rich Ross's position as head of its movie studio. Betsy Sharkey on "The Five-Year Engagement."

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. I'm a No. 1 pick.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog, click here for the latest entertainment news. 

Rupert Murdoch again apologizes for tabloids' phone hacking. Majors increase HULU state. AMC to make movies while pulling back from IPO. The death of he DVD has been greatly exagerated.

Rupert Murdoch leaves a hearing
 Photo: Rupert Murdoch: Credit: Justin Tallis / AFP Getty Images

The Rupert Murdoch apology tour continued Thursday with the News Corp. chief executive again telling British lawmakers that he was sorry about the phone-hacking scandal at the media giant's tabloids.

“I failed. And I’m very sorry about that,” the 81-year-old media mogul told a British judicial inquiry on media ethics inaugurated after revelations of phone hacking by the now-closed News of the World. “It’s going to be a blot on my reputation for the rest of my life,” Murdoch said.

While acknowledging that as head of the company the buck stops with him, Murdoch also continued to deflect blame for the fiasco which sparked three separate criminal investigations, the firing of top executives and dozens of arrests.

Murdoch, whose son James had oversight of the tabloids during much of the wrongdoing, said staffers at the paper had kept him out of the loop. James Murdoch has made similar claims.

“There’s no question in my mind that maybe even the editor, but certainly beyond that -- someone took charge of a cover-up -- which we were victim to and I regret,” Murdoch said.

For more on Murdoch's testimony, please see our story in World Now.

Redbox kiosk
Photo: Anja Murphy returns videos to a Redbox kiosk in an Albertsons supermarket in Santa Monica. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

Apparently nobody told Redbox's customers that the DVD is dead. First-quarter revenue for the movie-rental company surged 39% to $502.9 million, and its operating income increased 222% to $76.4 million, Redbox's parent company Coinstar Inc. said in financial results released Thursday.

Coinstar said April 12 that its first-quarter performance would be better than projected thanks in large part to growth at Redbox, but it didn't specify just how well the subsidiary, which operates 36,800 DVD kiosks, would do. (The kiosks also carry Blu-ray discs and video games.)
Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar
 Photo: Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar at the company's Santa Monica headquarters in July 2010.  Credit:  Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Big studios increase stake and interests in Hulu. Providence Equity Partners is selling its stake in online video service Hulu for about $200 million, according to people familiar with the situation.
The move, first reported by Bloomberg News, is expected to give at least two of Hulu's media company owners -- News Corp. and Walt Disney Co. -- a greater ownership stake in the rapidly growing online service.
The 5-year-old service now has more than 2 million paid subscribers to its Hulu Plus offering, and about 38 million visitors a month to its free site, which offers catch-up episodes of such popular television shows as "Glee," "Revenge," "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."
The buy-out of the private equity firm would resolve some of the tensions that have been simmering for more a year. The stakeholders have long argued about Hulu's direction, priorities and monetization strategy.  Nine months ago, the partners considered selling Hulu, but the media companies opted not to shed the venture because they did not want to lose control of the online distribution of their valuable content.

The improved performance comes after a price increase in late 2011 to $1.20 per night from $1 per night for DVDs. Coinstar previously said that customers reacted less negatively to the price increase than anticipated and that demand was particularly high for titles such as "Moneyball," "Puss In Boots," "50/50," "In Time," "Abduction" and "Mr. Popper's Penguins."

More in the LA Times (click here). 

 Photo: Moviegoers gather at an AMC theater in Burbank on a Friday night. Photo credit: Ringo H.W. Chiu / For the Los Angeles Times. 

AMC Theaters to make and market films, while pulling back from planned IPO's. AMC Entertainment, the nation's second-largest exhibitor, has once again scrapped plans for a stock offering, two people familiar with the matter said.

The Kansas City, Mo.-based theater chain had said in a regulatory filing last spring that it planned to raise up to $450 million in an initial public offering of stock, using the proceeds to pay down debt. Top shareholders in AMC include JPMorgan, Apollo Investment Fund and Bain Capital Investors.

But at the prompting of AMC's owners, the circuit has opted to shelve the IPO, out of concern that market conditions aren't ripe for a stock offering, said two sources familiar with the plans who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

"It's a tough business,'' said one of the sources, citing the long-term challenges faced by the exhibition industry, especially from the threat posed by shrinking theatrical windows -- the period between when a movie is released in theaters and when it can be viewed in the home. "The biggest issue they are facing is how to navigate the collapsing of theatrical windows."

Industry-wide, the number of tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada fell 4% last year to 1.28 billion, the lowest level since the mid-1990s. But revenue has rebounded this year, jumping 23% in the first quarter.

This marks the third time in five years that AMC has pulled back from going public. The company originally filed for a $750-million IPO in December 2006 as private equity firms looked to recoup some of their heavy investments in the theater operator. But AMC withdrew that offering in May 2007 after investors balked at the $17-a-share asking price.  AMC then unveiled plans for a scaled-back stock offering in September 2007 but withdrew that plan a year later amid market volatility.

Along with rival Regal Entertainment, AMC last year launched a joint venture called Open Road Films that will acquire and release independent movies.

The results demonstrate that despite the ongoing decline in DVD sales and the closure of many DVD-rental stores, including thousands of Blockbuster locations, people still want to watch movies on discs. They just prefer to pay a low fee per night to rent DVDs at convenient locations such as grocery stores and drugstores, where Redbox kiosks are located.

More in the LA Times (click here).

How the 1% came to be....We gave it to them.