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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dreamworks expands animation reach. Legendary Entertainment moving? Selma Blair off 'Anger Management.'

DreamWorks Animation
A scene from the DreamWorks Animation TV series "Dragons: Riders of Berk" on Cartoon Network. (Cartoon Network /August 27, 2012)

DreamWorks Animation reinventing itself with TV deals

With the freshly-announced deals to produce animated television shows for Netflix and Germany's leading children's TV channel, DreamWorks Animation is well on the way to reinventing itself as a multifaceted media company.
That's the message Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg is imparting to Wall Street in the wake of the company's television deals with Netflix and Super RTL.
"We're now on a path to becoming the biggest producer and distributor of high quality TV programming on a global basis," Katzenberg said in a conference call with analysts Tuesday.  "DreamWorks is increasingly shifting from an animated film company into a multifaceted entertainment company."
Since its launch as a public company in 2004, DreamWorks Animation has focused primarily on making animated movies such as the "Shrek," "Kung Fu Panda" and "Madagascar" franchises.  Despite the success of most of its movies, the studio has been trying to lessen its dependence on box-office revenues, at a time when DVD sales have been declining, by focusing more attention on the television business.
DreamWorks already produces several animated TV shows based on its characters, including a successful series onCartoon Network based on "How to Train Your Dragon," and now will rapidly expand its output.
The Glendale company will produce 1,200 episodes of animated TV shows for Netflix, RTL and other outlets over the next five years. Revenues from television will exceed $200 million by 2015, up from $100 million in 2013, Katzenberg said.
Katzenberg said DreamWorks aims to secure deals with other television networks around the world, including in China.
The company has agreed to create more than 300 hours of programming for Netflix, the world's largest streaming service, which first partnered with DreamWorks Animation in September 2011, replacing a previous pact with HBO.
"They are a very different platform, they engage their customers in very different ways,'' Katzenberg said in an interview. "The ability to offer, in particular for families, what right now seems to be the most popular viewing experience, makes it a great home for us."

After the coffee. Before knocking this cold out.
The Skinny: I thought the San Antonio Spurs knew how to close. Not sure I see them winning a Game 7 on the road. Wednesday's headlines include a recap of Federal Communications Commission nominee Tom Wheeler's confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee and Charlie Sheen makes clear he won't take any lip from his co-stars.

Steven Berns (L) and Chandler Bigelow
Steven Berns (L) has joined Tribune Co. as executive vice president and chief financial officer. Current CFO Chandler Bigelow h

Daily Dose: Tribune Co., parent of the Los Angeles Times, has hired Revlon executive Steve Berns as its new chief financial officer. Chandler Bigelow, who had been CFO since 2008, has been named executive vice president and chief business strategies and operations officer. More on the appointments from the Los Angeles Times

Big decision. Thomas Tull, head of Legendary Entertainment, said the production company ("Dark Knight," "The Hangover") will decide in the next 60 days where it will make its home. Currently based at Warner Bros., there has been rampant speculation that Legendary will exit the studio. On Tuesday, Tull said Legendary is talking to everybody and didn't rule out staying at Warner Bros. More on Legendary from the Los Angeles Times and Hollywood Reporter.

Tom Wheeler
FCC nominee Tom Wheeler appears before the Senate Commerce Committee. (Bloomberg / June 18, 2013)

In the spotlight. Tom Wheeler, nominated last month to be the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, got through a Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing with nary a scratch. Wheeler stressed competition over regulation and, like most nominees, avoided getting into any details that would shed light on his thinking. He even said to one senator asking about media consolidation, “I am specifically trying not to be specific.” Bet that line doesn't work at home. Details on Wheeler's hearing from the New York TimesLos Angeles Times and Broadcasting & Cable

What if the Lakers were winning? A group of cable subscribers have filed a class action lawsuit against Time Warner Cable for how it is selling its Lakers sports channel and will likely sell a Dodgers network. Both channels are carried by Time Warner Cable as part of its basic service and sold to other distributors the same way. In other words, there is no way not to buy the channels. Of course, this is how much of the pay-TV industry operates and the courts have in the past been reluctant to challenge how channels are packaged. In other words, don't hold your breath. Coverage of the suit from Deadline Hollywood.

Charlie Sheen and Selma Blair
Charlie Sheen gives Selma Blair a piece of his mind. (FX / June 19, 2013)

Can't say I'm surprised. When Charlie Sheen was at odds with the producers of "Two and a Half Men," one of the common complaints was that he came to work late and often unprepared. He was then booted from the show. Selma Blair, costar of Sheen's new comedy "Anger Management" on FX, made similar observations recently. So, did the producers tell Sheen to get it together or quietly try to make peace  between the duo? Nope. Instead Blair is now off the show. Sheen has a stake in the show so it's hardly a surprise that he calls the shots. Probably a blessing for her. More on the drama fromTMZ.

Amateur hour. For the first time in five years, Chevy will have a commercial in next year's Oscars. But there is a twist. According to Advertising Age, rather than make its own ad, Chevy will ask aspiring filmmakers to submit entries in a contest and the winner will get to make the spot for the show.

On Location
Actress Katey Zouck says she felt violated after learning that the casting call she showed up for was a prank being filmed for a movie about two men who try to one-up each other with outrageous stunts. (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times /June 4, 2013)
Inside the Los Angeles Times: A casting call turned out to be a prank and some of the victims are not happy. ABC Family's new drama "The Fosters" might be too modern of a family for some viewers. 

"The Fosters"
Teri Polo, standing, and Sherri Saum (seated at center) star in "The Fosters." (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times /June 10, 2013)

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