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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Check out the Boulder City Museum and Hotel (longest continuously operating hotel in Nevada, still in origional condition)

Four-alarm fire at Tyler Perry's Atlanta studio CBS plays new media to profitable projections for 2012. Joe Drake reunites with Mandate partner for Good Universe. Japanese buy San Franciso Video Game Company. News Corp.'s woes in Britain reignite calls for scrutiny in U.S.

Rupert and James Murdoch in happier times
Photo: Rupert and James Murdoch in happier times. Credit: Adrian Dennis / AFP/Getty Images.
 From the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest updates.

FOX/NewsCorp open to shots in US due to British "verdict." A Parliament report critical of News Corp., its Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his son Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch for their response to the ethics scandal at its British newspapers will give new fuel to the company's critics in the United States.

One activist group already is demanding that the Federal Communications Commission strip News Corp.'s Fox unit of the licenses it holds to operate 27 television stations in the United States.
“The House of Commons report makes clear that both Rupert and James Murdoch were complicit in New Corp.’s illegal activities," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "If the Murdochs don’t meet the British standards of character test, it is hard to see how they can meet the American standard.”

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, a nonprofit media watchdog group, compared Rupert Murdoch to Richard Nixon.

"Both practiced partisan hardball but quickly cast themselves as victims when law enforcement started to ask difficult questions," Boehlert wrote. "For Murdoch and Nixon, the rules did not apply, as breaking the law became commonplace in the pursuit of the ultimate goal -- serving enemies with payback. And like Nixon, Murdoch's reputation has suffered a fatal blow in the form of a botched cover-up."

The FCC declined to comment on the Parliament report or whether it would spark its own investigation into News Corp.'s fitness to hold broadcast licenses in the United States.
One communications attorney said a challenge to Fox's broadcast licenses would face a long, uphill climb, unless Murdoch were arrested or found guilty of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits paying a government official for commercial gain.

"Based on what has happened today and what is known today, I don’t see any material risks to the licenses," said John Hane of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said the renewal process for broadcasters is not as tough as it should be and that he hopes the Parliament report will at least lead the FCC to take a harder look and not just rubber-stamp News Corp.'s renewal applications.

"This should be a wake-up call," Copps said. "These are the kinds of problems when too much media is held in too few hands."

The U.S. Department of Justice has been conducting its own probe into whether there is any evidence of wrongdoing by News Corp. newspapers here. If the Justice Department were to uncover illegal activities in the United States or determine that the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was violated by News Corp., that could force the FCC to take an aggressive stance on the renewals.

A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

Jack Welch stands by Rupert Murdoch
 Photo: Jack Welch in 2001. Credit: Neal Hamberg / Associated Press.

Former GE Chief says Murdock is a good man and fit to run media giant NewsCorp. Former General Electric Chief Executive Jack Welch took issue with a report from the U.K. Parliament that questioned News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch's fitness to lead the global media giant in the wake of an ethics scandal at its British newspapers.

“It is outlandish to suggest that Rupert Murdoch is anything less than perfectly fit to lead his organization as it moves forward," Welch said in a statement. "Over our many years of dealings, I’ve seen nothing but integrity from him. He has never been anything but straightforward and above board in all his interactions with me, and his courageous and innovative moves in business have always been a source of inspiration to me.”

Welch, of course, competed head-to-head with Murdoch when General Electric controlled NBC. Back then, their relationship was not always cordial and at times was bitter. In fact, in 1994, NBC filed a complaint at the Federal Communications Commission accusing Murdoch and News Corp. of violating rules that limit foreign ownership of television stations.

The FCC complaint was withdrawn around the same time that News Corp. agreed to carry an NBC channel on one of its Asian satellites.

Photo: Tyler Perry introduces President Obama during a fundraiser at the filmmaker's Atlanta studio in March. Credit: David Goldman / Associated Press
A fire that broke out at Tyler Perry's Atlanta film studio was under control late Tuesday night, the Atlanta Fire Department said.

Over 100 firefighters, 13 engines and 12 trucks responded to the four-alarm fire at the filmmaker's studio complex, and no injuries were reported, said Capt. Jolyon Bundrige.

"As far as I know, [Perry] is OK -- there was a report that he was on the scene, but I didn't see him," Bundrige told The Times.

It is unknown what caused the fire, and firefighters on the scene were continuing to investigate the source Tuesday evening, Bundrige said.

Perry's Hollywood connection has been principally with Lionsgate Entertainment, with whom the filmmaker has had a long-standing relationship. The filmmaker's next movie, "Madea's Witness Protection" -- in which he will reprise his role as a sassy, plus-size grandmother -- will be released by Lionsgate on June 29. Perry is currently in post-production on "The Marriage Counselor," which is set to hit theaters next January. TBS also ordered 35 additional episodes of Perry's sitcom "For Better or Worse" in February.

Lionsgate had no comment Tuesday night on how the fire may affect production.

According to Perry's website, in 2008 his studio moved into a 200,000-square-foot location in southwest Atlanta. The studio includes a back lot, a 400-seat theater, a private screening room, five sound stages, a post-production facility, a chapel and a gym, the website said. In March, Perry hosted a fundraiser for President Barack Obama at the 30-acre complex.

Modern War Funzio

Gree International Inc., a Japanese mobile game company, announced Tuesday that it had purchased San Francisco mobile game developer Funzio Inc. for $210 million.
 From the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest updates.

The deal represents the second major acquisition of a U.S. company for Gree, which a year ago bought OpenFeint, a mobile social game platform company, for $104 million.

Gree and rival Japanese mobile game company DeNA Co. have been speculating in the U.S., where the market for mobile social games has exploded in the last three years thanks to Apple Inc.'s iOS devices and a proliferation of tablets and smartphones powered by Google Inc.'s Android operating system.

Both Gree and DeNA are betting that the U.S. market will mirror the surge in Japan's mobile games industry over the last decade and evolve into a multibillion-dollar business. DeNA placed its bet in 2010, when it paid up to $400 million for Ngmoco Inc., a Bay Area mobile game company. DeNA and Gree are profitable, largely owing to the lucrative mobile market in Japan.

With Funzio, Gree has kicked up its rivalry with DeNA a notch. The purchase gives Gree a development studio that created Modern War, Crime City and Kingdom Age -- titles that were among iTunes' top 25 grossing apps as of Tuesday.

The games are free to download, but Funzio makes money by selling bundles of in-game currencies for as much as $79.99 that let players advance more rapidly. Funzio estimates that more than 20 million players have downloaded its games.

"Las Vegas" to be among first films to come out of new film company.
Former Lionsgate movie chief Joe Drake, who was squeezed out of his job as part of the independent studio's acquisition of Summit Entertainment, is joining his former Mandate Pictures business partner to launch a new company that is essentially Mandate 2.0.

Drake and Nathan Kahane, who was most recently president of Mandate, are starting a new film finance, sales and production company called Good Universe.

Mandate is best known for quirky low-budget films like "Juno" and "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle," as well as horror films like "The Grudge" from its Ghost House label, a joint venture with director Sam Raimi. Good Universe will continue both efforts and also seek to make bigger-budget projects that appeal to a broader audience and have the potential to spawn sequels.

Founded in 2003, Mandate was acquired by Lionsgate in 2007. Drake then took a job as chairman of that studio's motion picture department while Kahane ran Mandate independently.
Several of Drake and Kahane's staffers from Lionsgate and Mandate will be joining them at Good Universe.

Their move to essentially re-establish Mandate has been expected for several months, since former Summit co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger were given Drake's job.

Santa Monica-based Good Universe will take over Mandate's entire development slate, in which it will share ownership with Lionsgate, and will help manage Mandate movies soon hitting theaters, including August's "Hope Springs," starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell.

The first Good Universe movies expected to start production are both carry-overs from Mandate: "Oldboy," directed by Spike Lee and starring Josh Brolin, and "Last Vegas," starring Michael Douglas. Drake will sell foreign distribution rights for those pictures and others at the Cannes Film Festival later this month.

Lionsgate will maintain its ownership of Mandate's library of approximately 30 films, including last year's dark comedies "50/50" and "Young Adult," though Good Universe will provide management services for them.

Lionsgate is not expected to replace Kahane or keep Mandate open as an operating entity. The studio already has a significantly expanded film operation following the integration of Summit.

Drake's departure from Lionsgate ironically comes little more than a month after the blockbuster success of "The Hunger Games," which the executive oversaw from development through release. However, Friedman and Wachsberger were promised the top film jobs at Lionsgate as part of the Summit acquisition.

 Photo:  CBS Corp. board member Arnold Kopelson, Chairman Sumner Redstone and CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves  in March.  Credit:  Alex J. Berliner / ABImages

CBS Corp. might be a titan of old media, but it can lay clam to knowing how to maximize new media profits and gain.

CBS's first-quarter earnings were boosted by gains in new media: the digital distribution of its television programming and the sale of e-books.

"The growth in digital is a positive development for us," CBS Chief Executive Leslie Moonves told Wall Street analysts in a conference call Tuesday to discuss earnings. "We are extremely pleased with our first quarter. We broke records in five key financial metrics for the quarter, and I’m confident we will break records for the year as well."

The New York-based broadcasting company beat analysts' estimates by reporting 80% higher net earnings. The company earned $363 million, or 54 cents per diluted share, up from $202 million, or 29 cents per diluted share, compared to the year-earlier period. The substantially higher margin came from growth in operating income as well as lower weighted average shares as a result of the company's stock repurchase program.

For the quarter ended March 31, CBS collected revenue of $3.92 billion, an increase of 12% from the first quarter of 2011.

CBS attributed the increase to content licensing, particularly its online distribution deals with Netflix and, and higher fees paid by cable and satellite TV operators for the retransmission of CBS' broadcast signal. Content licensing and distribution revenue soared 39%.

"There are a lot of players out there circling the building," Moonves said. "They need our content.  It's an exciting period of time."

Advertising revenue, company wide, was up 5%. At its flagship CBS broadcast network, ad sales were up 8%. The network, according to Moonves, is expected to end the TV broadcast season with ratings gains in key demographic groups: total viewers, viewers age 18 to 49 and viewers age 25 to 54.
CBS boasts the most stable schedule in network television. 
“With 18 shows already renewed, the competition to get onto our schedule is extremely strong -- meaning that we will be much more selective than our competitors will have to be," Moonves said.  As the company heads into the upfront advertising sales season, Moonves said, "We feel very good about our future -- both creatively and financially."

Investors have been expecting CBS to post a strong year -- lifted by hundreds of millions of dollars in political spending expected to flood the company's TV and radio stations. CBS shares closed Tuesday at $33.42, up 4 cents.  The shares are trading 33% higher than last year at this time.

In addition to the CBS television network, which broadcasts such popular shows as "NCIS," "Survivor," "Hawaii Five-0" and "Two and a Half Men," CBS owns television and radio stations, a billboard unit, premium cable channel Showtime, and the Simon & Schuster publishing house.
The company said it spent $269 million to buy back 9 million of its shares in the first quarter.  The company also sold a radio station group in the mid-sized market of West Palm Beach, Fla., as part of its strategy to own stations in the nation's largest markets.

"Making God Laugh" a musical comedy by Sean Grennan

Sean Grennan is my friend from high school. A life long actor, writer, lyrist, actor and producer, he spent most of his career as an actor in Chicago, but has relocated and launched a new career behind the stage based out of NYC. - Art Lynch

On year ago today...a New Yorker rememberance

Romney Walks into Obama’s Bin Laden Trap

The Obama campaign chose to release its controversial attack “ad” about the killing of Osama bin Laden last Friday—a day when the news cycle would otherwise have been dominated by negative economic tidings: the Commerce Department’s announcement that G.D.P. growth in the first quarter slowed to close to two per cent. If the intention was to divert attention onto other matters, and there was surely some of that, it succeeded brilliantly. Today’s anniversary of the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad was always going to be newsworthy. But the row over the campaign ad, and whether Mitt Romney would have approved the raid, has transformed a one-off story into a political dustup that is now in its fourth day.

For David Axelrod and the rest of Team Obama, things could hardly have worked out better. For the Romney campaign, it is another damaging diversion, and the boys in Beantown have only themselves to blame. Their rivals in Chicago set a trap for them, and they walked right into it. Rather than ignoring the ad, or dismissing it quickly and moving onto other topics less favorable to Obama, the Romney campaign decided to stand and fight on ground it cannot hope to win.

It is hardly surprising that the Obama campaign would seek to draw attention to the anniversary and exploit it for maximum advantage. In Obama’s three and a bit years in office, the clinical (and quite possibly unlawful) killing of bin Laden stands out as Obama’s one action that Americans of both parties are willing to applaud. Even Dick Cheney praised the President for sending in the Navy SEALs against the advice of some of his colleagues. (“I give him high marks for making that decision,” Cheney told Fox News, a few days after the raid.) It is also no surprise that the Obama campaign enlisted the help of Bill Clinton, who appears in the spot, which is entitled “One Chance,” praising the President’s resolve in ordering the attack, or that it would seek to contrast Obama’s decisiveness with Romney’s statements on the subject.

“Nobody can make that decision for you,” Clinton intones to the camera. “Suppose the Navy SEALs went in there and it hadn’t been bin Laden. Suppose they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him… He took the harder and the more honorable path…” The ad then changes tack, and a question appears on the screen: “Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?” This is followed by a sentence from a Reuters news story dated August, 2007: “Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for vowing to strike al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary.” Then Wolf Blitzer is shown reading out a quote from Romney: “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars trying to catch one person.”

In leaving the impression that Romney wouldn’t have ordered the raid, there is no doubt that the Obama campaign selectively edited his words. As the Huffington Post’s Jon Ward pointed out yesterday, Romney didn’t actually rule out attacking targets in Pakistan. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, on August 2, 2007, he said,

It’s wrong for a person running for the president of the United States to get on TV and say, “We’re going to go into your country unilaterally.” Of course, America always maintains our option to do whatever we think is in the best interests of America. But we don’t go out and say, “Ladies and gentlemen of Germany, if ever there was a problem in your country, we didn’t think you were doing the right thing, we reserve the right to come in and get them out.” We don’t say those things. We keep our options quiet.

The quote from Romney that the Obama ad references was taken from an interview he did with Liz Sidoti, an Associated Press reporter, in April, 2007. Here is the relevant part of the transcript:

LIZ SIDOTI: “Why haven’t we caught bin Laden in your opinion?”

GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY: “I think, I wouldn’t want to over-concentrate on Bin Laden. He’s one of many, many people who are involved in this global Jihadist effort. He’s by no means the only leader. It’s a very diverse group—Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and of course different names throughout the world. It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person. It is worth fashioning and executing an effective strategy to defeat global, violent Jihad and I have a plan for doing that.”

SIDOTI: “But would the world be safer if bin laden were caught?”

GOVERNOR ROMNEY: “Yes, but by a small percentage increase—a very insignificant increase in safety by virtue of replacing bin Laden with someone else. Zarqawi—we celebrated the killing of Zarqawi, but he was quickly replaced. Global Jihad is not an effort that is being populated by a handful or even a football stadium full of people. It is—it involves millions of people and is going to require a far more comprehensive strategy than a targeted approach for bin laden or a few of his associates.”

Romney’s statements can be interpreted in several ways. Some would say that he was displaying a good grasp of global politics and the nature of jihad. Others would say he was taking his eye off the ball. Either way, there is nothing in what he said to suggest how he would have reacted had he been in Obama’s shoes this time last year. Eric Edelman, one of Romney’s foreign policy advisers, is right when he says that “the comments by Governor Romney were taken out of context in a way that distorts their meaning.”

From a moral perspective, this is disturbing. I agree with my colleague Ryan Lizza that journalists should call out politicians who use such underhand tactics. But we are going to be busy. In today’s political campaigns, twisting your opponents’ words is standard practice: all sides do it, and all sides have to be prepared for it. Late last year, the Romney campaign released an ad that quoted Obama as saying, “If we keep talking about the economy, we are going to lose.” Obama had actually been quoting one of John McCain’s advisers, but that didn’t stop the Romney campaign from misusing his words.

Although often referred to as “ads,” these zinger spots aren’t really advertisements at all: most of them don’t get broadcast. They are simply videos that the campaigns post online in an attempt to shape the daily news narrative. A better name for them might be “bait.” The rational strategy for an opponent is to ignore them or to dismiss them lightly, giving the media little reason to cover them. But rather than doing this, the Romney campaign and its allies reacted in a way that was guaranteed to give the story some legs.

First, John McCain issued a statement in which he said, “Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad.” As if Republicans haven’t been exploiting 9/11 since it happened. To quote Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: “Are they kidding? If it had been Bush who ordered the hit on Bin Laden, the Republicans would have wanted to make the day it happened into an instant national holiday.”

Then Romney himself wades in. First, he follows McCain’s line, getting all high and mighty. Then he tells reporters, “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order.” And today, he appears on “CBS This Morning” to whine about Obama playing politics again, and add, “Of course, I would have” ordered the raid. This afternoon, he is scheduled to appear with Rudy Giuliani in an event that will draw even more attention to the story. He would have been better advised to spend the day at a factory, an abandoned real-estate project, or a job center.

Out in Chicago, David Axelrod and his cronies must be swapping high fives all the way down Michigan Avenue. In Boston, meanwhile, Team Romney appears oblivious to the lessons of its own experience in the dark art of putting out underhanded attack ads. “Here’s the bottom line,” Dan Hirschhorn, a blogger at Ad Age, pointed out during the brouhaha over the twisted Obama quote on the economy. “Romney’s already won this particular messaging war, and the fib helped him do it….The predictable sniping today between his camp and Obama’s has elevated him and accomplished just what the deception was supposed to.”

What TV Shows would you save or shelve? Murdock under glass. Diller supports former boss. Dick Clark Productions win Golden Globe lawsuit. New Media race for content. Tribeca's best.

James and Rupert Murdoch
Photo: Rupert Murdoch, right, and his son James Murdoch in July 2011. Credit: Sang Tan /  Associated Press

Tell us how you really feel. A much-anticipated report from a British parliamentary committee probing the ethics scandal at News Corp.'s UK newspapers said the media giant's chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, "exhibited willful blindness" and was unfit to lead a company such as the media giant. Murdoch's son, James, who oversaw the unit that housed the British tabloids News of the World and the Sun, was also chastised for showing poor leadership. Other News Corp. executives were accused of misleading Parliament. Now the question is if the report will lead U.S. officials to look closer at whether News Corp.'s actions in Britain ran afoul of U.S. laws. Early analysis on the report from the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and the Guardian.

Murdock acknowledges News Corp Errors. Chief Executive Rupert Murdoch sought to move beyond a damaging report from Parliament accusing him of "willful blindness" in failing to properly investigate allegations of phone hacking by one one of his company's London-based tabloids.
Murdoch, in a message to News Corp.'s 50,000 employees Tuesday, said the findings by the Culture, Media and Sport committee were "difficult to read" -- but afforded "an opportunity to reflect upon the mistakes we have made.

"We have done the most difficult part, which has been to take a long, hard and honest look at our past mistakes," Murdoch wrote. "There is no easy way around this, but I am proud to say that we have been working hard to put things right."

The select committee of the House of Commons found that "News of the World" and News International, the company's British publishing division, misled the committee in a 2009 investigation into phone hacking by blaming the actions on a "rogue reporter."  The committee found that the media company continued to downplay the involvement of its employees in phone hacking and engaged in a cover-up, rather than seeking out wrongdoing.

News Corp. issued a statement Tuesday acknowledging the "hard truths" that emerged from the committee's investigation: that it had been "too slow and too defensive; and that some of our employees misled the Select Committee in 2009."

But News Corp. took issue with some comments, which the company labeled "unjustified and highly partisan." This appeared to be a reference to an explosive line in the report that called Murdoch  "not a fit person" to lead a major international company.

Murdoch wrote that the company should have acted more quickly and aggressively to uncover wrongdoing, and he expressed regret for failing to rectify the situation sooner.

News Corp., and Murdoch, sought to underscore the company's efforts to fix the situation. Murdoch noted that an autonomous committee set up by News Corp. has completed a review of conduct at the company's other British publications, The Times and Sunday Times and The Sun, and found no evidence of illegal conduct beyond one incident reported months ago, in which disciplinary action was taken.

News Corp. General Counsel Gerson Zweifach is also creating a system of education and a compliance structure across the company's businesses. News International, the group that controls the company's British publications, also instituted governance reforms.

"The opportunity to emerge from this difficult period a stronger, better company has never been greater," Murdoch wrote. "And I will look to each of you to help me ensure that News Corp.'s next 60 years are more vital and successful than ever."

The Skinny: I have far too many workplace-anxiety dreams. Tuesday's headlines include a blistering report from the British Parliament on News Corp.'s handling of the ethics scandal at its UK newspapers; Dick Clark Productions' victory in the legal fight over TV rights to the Golden Globes; and Charlie Sheen not wanting to be immortalized by a New York City strip club.

Barry Diller stands by old boss Rupert Murdoch
  Photo: Barry Diller. Credit: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg

Stand by your man. Former News Corp. executive Barry Diller, who was the architect of the Fox network, is standing by his old boss Rupert Murdoch.

In a statement issued in response to Parliament's blistering report challenging Murdoch's fitness to lead the media giant in the wake of the ethics scandal at News Corp.'s British newspapers, Diller said Murdoch is "more fit, morally and otherwise, to lead an organization than the majority of those that do."

Diller, who was chief executive of Fox Inc. from 1985 to 1992 and a News Corp. board member, said in the nearly 10 years he worked for Murdoch that he "never once, not once, in any situation saw anything other than the most honorable behavior in every possible business situation."

Ironically, while Diller is standing by Murdoch as British lawmakers take aim at his media empire, a company Diller backs is being sued by News Corp. Diller is on the board of Aereo, a firm that seeks to transmit broadcast signals through the Internet. Diller's IAC/InterActive Corp. also led Aereo's $20.5-million round of financing.

In March, News Corp.'s Fox, along with CBS, NBC and ABC, filed a suit accusing Aereo of violating copyright laws.

Daily Dose: Dick Clark Productions Chief Executive Mark Shapiro got a colorful critique from U.S. District Judge Howard Matz in his ruling in favor the company in its legal battle with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. over control of the TV rights to the Golden Globes Awards show (see below). Noting in his ruling that former NBC executive Marc Graboff called Shapiro a liar during negotiations for the Globes, Matz said, "Shapiro's negotiation tactics may boost his 'street cred' as a shrewd executive in the gabled world of Hollywood deal-making." When Shapiro testified in the trial, he acknowledged misleading NBC as part of a negotiating strategy.

Golden Globes ruling. A U.S. District Court sided with Dick Clark Productions in its legal battle with the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. over who controls the television rights to the Golden Globes Awards show. The HFPA, which owns the Golden Globes, had sued Dick Clark Productions in 2010, claiming that the company did not have the right to sign a long-term renewal with NBC for the show. Dick Clark Productions claimed it did. In the ruling, Judge Howard Matz criticized the HFPA for its "absence of sound, businesslike practices." Coverage from the Los Angeles Times, Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

Chasing the dollars. If there is a shortage of shrimp and champagne at the broadcast network programming presentations to advertisers in New York in two weeks, put the blame on new media. Over the last few weeks, Yahoo, AOL and other digital companies held their first big presentations to woo more advertising money to the Web. "The Internet industry could have only dreamed of a week like this a few short years ago," Yahoo executive vice president Ross Levinsohn said. More on new media's Madison Avenue sales pitch from the Los Angeles Times.

The people speak. Every year, USA Today surveys its readers on what low-rated TV shows should be saved from cancellation. This time around, NBC's "Parks and Recreation" and "Parenthood" led the voting. More interesting was the response to USA Today's question about what hit shows have overstayed their welcome. The winners were CBS' "Two and a Half Men" and Fox's "Glee."

How about the Carlos Estevez room? You've heard of the champagne room in strip clubs? Well, one New York club opened a Charlie Sheen room. Cheetahs named a room after the actor that allows its patrons to, uh, eat sushi off of some of the entertainers. Though Sheen can occasionally laugh at his own high jinks, no one else can. According to the New York Post, Sheen's legal team is trying to shut down the room. What if they give Sheen a lifetime VIP pass? Would that work as a peace offering?

Scene from "Resolution"
Photo: A scene from "Resolution." Credit: Tribeca Film Festival.
Five Films you will want to see from Tribeca Festival. The Tribeca Film Festival wound down Sunday, reaching what organizers said was a 95% attendance rate at its screenings and panels. Of course, what plays to packed houses within the festival bubble won't necessarily bring the crowds in outside it. What movies can you expect will attract some interest long after the last screening has ended? Here's a diverse, but by no means exhaustive, list. Select Tribeca films remain available for view through iTunes.

"The Flat": Tribeca is known for documentaries, and this year was no exception. Receiving some of the best buzz from the festival was Arnon Goldfinger's "The Flat," a nonfiction tale about an Israeli man who begins to uncover some things about his Jewish grandparents after his grandmother dies and he is left cleaning out the Tel Aviv apartment she once shared with her husband. Reviews have been strong, and, without giving anything away, we'll just say it's a story that soon hops countries en route to some surprising discoveries.

"The World Before Her": We're a bit removed from "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Slumdog Millionaire," but a movie that combines elements of both in a story of Indian beauty pageants can only be interesting. The jury agreed too, handing Canadian director Nisha Pahuja its top documentary prize.

"Una Noche": Hey, when your stars defect in an art-imitating-life twist, that always helps. Also of assistance: when you have a well-made and well-regarded movie, as Lucy Mulloy does, telling compellingly of the fictional (but entirely plausible) aspirations of three very different teenagers in a bleak but poetic Havana. The movie still doesn't have U.S. distribution, but with all the attention paid the defectors, don't be surprised if that ends soon, particularly for a company with a Latin focus.

"Resolution": Starting out as a story about a man trying to get his buddy to go to rehab, Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorehead's film soon evolves into a tale of secrets and narrative revelations. A smart marketer will call it a thriller, and maybe in the confines of a film festival it is, but many have recognized it for something else: strong storytelling with suspense and emotion.

"Fairhaven": More to come on this one shortly, but suffice it to say that Tom O'Brien's wistful drama about men in their 30s, stuck in and returning to their small New England town, will conjure up the 1990s hit "Beautiful Girls." That's a good thing. Starring Chris Messina, the suddenly omnipresent indie actor, in a movie that could easily have played Sundance to some acclaim.

-- Joe Flint and others

Follow me on Twitter for my critiques on NBC's "Smash."

2012 Tony Award Nominees

Complete Steaming Coverge of 2012 Tony Awards Noms from the New York Times

‘Once’ Leads the 2012 Tony Awards Nominations

Jim Parsons, left, and Kristin Chenoweth announced the Tony Awards Nominations at The New York Public Library for Performing Arts.Sara Krulwich/The New York TimesJim Parsons, left, and Kristin Chenoweth announced the Tony Awards nominations at the New York Public Library for Performing Arts.
The nominations for the 66th annual Tony Awards were announced at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The new Broadway musical “Once” led the Tony Award nominations with 11 nods, including for best musical, director, actor, actress and choreographer, while “Peter and the Starcatcher” led the unusually strong pack of plays with 9 nominations. Among the losers on Tuesday was the $75 million “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” which received only two minor nominations, and the critically acclaimed play “The Lyons,” which drew a best actress nomination for Linda Lavin but nothing else.

Play | Musical

10:54 A.M. Final Thoughts
Tuesday's Tony Award nominations not only spread the wealth among more Broadway shows than usual - 30 musicals and plays received nominations, out of 37 eligible - but also tacitly honored the vibrant pipeline of American theater that often leads to Broadway.

The four best play nominees, all by Americans, were also all transfers from Off Broadway, a rare feat. Two of the four took a little while to reach Broadway, such as "Clybourne Park" (which went to Los Angeles first) and "Peter and the Starcatcher," while the two others ("Other Desert Cities" and "Venus in Fur") went through some re-casting of key roles. Several of the acting nominees from those plays are theater veterans who have continued to return to Broadway or Off Broadway in between breaks in their television and film schedules.

Among the best musical nominees that came through the pipeline, "Once" had its start last year at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Mass., and then Off Broadway at New York Theater Workshop; "Newsies" began at Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey last fall; and "Leap of Faith" played at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles in 2010 before undergoing a script overhaul for Broadway.

And two of the four musical revival nominees had their start at important theaters in the United States - "Follies" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" at the aforementioned A.R.T. (The other revivals hailed from elsewhere as well: "Evita" in London and "Jesus Christ Superstar" at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada.)

The acting categories are dominated by Americans this year, too, and several of the races - as well as the best new play and best revival of a musical category - are too close to call. The toughest competition is for best actress in a play, a category that has been on the weaker side in recent years; Tony voters will have to choose in the coming weeks among Nina Arianda ("Venus in Fur"), Tracie Bennett ("End of the Rainbow"), Stockard Channing ("Other Desert Cities"), Linda Lavin ("The Lyons") and Cynthia Nixon ("Wit"). Better they than me.

The winners in this batch of nominations? "Once," no doubt, with the most nominations (11) on the heels of glowing reviews from critics. The estates of George and Ira Gershwin, who can claim a measure of credit for 10 nominations for "The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess" and another 10 for "Nice Work If You Can Get It," a pastiche book musical featuring many of the brothers' tunes. "Peter and the Starcatcher," an imaginative and well-received show that is nevertheless hard to categorize - is it for kids? is it for adults? - and is hoping for a box office boost. And "Follies," lovely old "Follies," which has fallen during its two previous trips to the rodeo - but has a chance at the spotlight this time around.

The losers? "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," the $75 million blockbuster that received just two nominations. "Seminar" and "Godspell," which have some strong fans but were shut out of the nominations. And some performers who were passed over, too like actresses Elena Roger ("Evita") and Bernadette Peters ("Follies") and actors Matthew Broderick ("Nice Work If You Can Get It") and Reeve Carney (the long-running hero of "Spider-Man").

The Tony Awards ceremony is June 10 on CBS.

Tony nominations 2012: Surprises and snubs

 'Clybourne Park'
"Clybourne Park" received just four Tony Award nominations after winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama. (Nathan Johnson Photography / Associated Press / April 5, 2012)

NEW YORK --  “Clybourne Park,” Angela Lansbury and a play about a dysfunctional family were among those overlooked when Tony Award nominations were announced here Tuesday morning.

Although Bruce Norris’ “Clybourne Park,” the Pulitzer Prize-winner about race and real estate, received a best play nomination and enthusiastic reviews, it failed to dominate the Tony announcements, picking up just three top nominations, as well as a fourth for scenic design. The show received the Laurence Olivier Award for best new play when it opened in London. (A production of the satirical drama played at the Mark Taper Forum earlier this year.)

Meanwhile, a drama revival, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” starring Blair Underwood, was even more forgotten, picking up just one nomination in the costume category.

A number of leading actresses failed to impress Tony voters. Angela Lansbury was among the grandes dames of theater to be overlooked for her performance this year; her featured performance as a political operator in the election-themed revival “Gore Vidal’s The Best Man” did not land the five-time Tony winner a shot at what would have been a record-breaking sixth prize.

British musical comedy icon Elaine Paige also was snubbed for her role in “Follies” despite stellar reviews for her performance, especially her showstopping number “I’m Still Here.”

And Rachel Griffiths, the television star who followed Jon Robin Baitz to Broadway to incarnate the role of a troubled daughter and memoirist in his drama “Other Desert Cities” did not receive a nomination for her well-reviewed performance. She was left off a Tony list that included her costars Judith Light and Stockard Channing.

The 2012 Tony Award calendar of events
While “Cities” picked up five nominations, another dysfunctional-family drama, Nicky Silver’s “The Lyons,” was largely forgotten by Tony voters. The show received only one nomination, a leading actress nod for Linda Lavin for her performance as an acid-tongued matriarch.

Ricky Martin also failed to pick up a Tony nomination for “Evita,” his first appearance on Broadway in more than 15 years. The actor garnered mixed reviews for his role as Che, a troublemaking Greek chorus of one, in the musical revival. His costar Elena Roger was overlooked too.

Your USB drive and your Car

Yet USB is slower than newer options, and wifi in cars is becoming a reality..still

Companies design USB drives specifically for in-car use
Scosche and Verbatim have separately developed USB drives designed for use with in-car entertainment systems. The devices are significantly shorter than traditional USBs so that drivers don't inadvertently bump into them.


People will forget what you said.
People will forget what you did.

But, people will NEVER forget 
how you made them feel.

Will USA self destruct by giving up its core audience?

Actors Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar film a scene for the upcoming season of USA's 'Burn Notice' in Hollywood, Fla., Tuesday.

The Happy-Time Network

At USA, all shows must be colorful, sunny and upbeat. As the No. 1 cable channel readies a host of new programs, a danger lurks—is the formula too formulaic?

USA Network has an estimated "asset" value of 14.4 billion dollars, many times more than the actual NBC network, valued at only 1.4 billion dollars. There is a case that Comcast did not buy Universal studios and NBC so much as it purchased USA and what came with it.

The average age of a USA viewer is 51.2 years old...while the choice prime "advertising" target remains an average age of 32. But everyone is going after those 32 year olds (or the range of 18 to 40), so why give up number one?

A successful mix, USA under Comcast is now doing what it has done to every other network it owns...adding wrestling, reruns of network shows and programs geared to a younger audience to compete against all other networks. With USA number one 12 to death, but lacking in the key 18 to 45 demo, they simply feel that they need to mess with the pie. Why?

The Wall Street Journal looks at the cable channel's recipe for success, which has led to big ratings even if most critics and Emmy voters dismiss many of its shows as empty calories.