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Sunday, June 30, 2013

First Openly Gay president of a major motion picture union. RIP. Gary David Goldberg. 'Mad Men' and 'Under the Dome'. 'Monsters U.' and 'World War Z' score! Big Changes at Major Studios. Hollywood's VOD experiment.

RIP. Gary David Goldberg, whose producing credits included "Family Ties," "Brooklyn Bridge" and "Spin City," died Sunday of brain cancer. Before creating "Family Ties" Goldberg cut his teeth writing on such CBS classics as "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Lou Grant." An appreciation from Variety.

"Monsters University"
"Monsters University" made it no contest at the box office. (Disney-Pixar)

After the coffee. Before over analyzing the "Mad Men" season finale. 

The Skinny: Actually, I don't over-analyze "Mad Men." Nor do I read anyone else's critiques since most make "Moby Dick" look like a short story. It was a good episode that made me tear up at the end. There's my take. Monday's headlines include the box office recap and Hollywood's experiment with early video-on-demand in South Korea.

Julie Henderson
Julie Henderson was named chief communications officer for 21st Century Fox.(News Corp. / 21st Century Fox)

21st Century Fox senior team to include Julie Henderson

Public relations executive Julie Henderson will wear a new hat as chief communications officer for the soon-to-be entertainment company 21st Century Fox.
The split of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. into two publicly traded companies later this week has prompted new titles -- and, in some cases, new allegiances -- for many existing News Corp. executives.
Henderson, who stepped into the role of News Corp.'s communications point person last year, will be part of the senior management team for the renamed television and film company.  
Her new title will be executive vice president and chief communications officer, the company said Monday.  Henderson is a close ally of News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Chase Carey, who also will move over to 21st Century Fox.
"Ms. Henderson will continue to serve as the chief spokesperson for the company, leading all global communications initiatives, specifically in support of corporate financial matters, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues and litigation," the company said in a statement.
Before being elevated to the top role, Henderson was a senior vice president for communications and corporate strategy. Before joining News Corp., Henderson ran the digital division at MPRM Public Relations in Los Angeles.
News Corp. communications will be managed by Ashley Huston, former spokeswoman for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. Robert Thomson, former Wall Street Journal managing editor, will become chief executive.
The publishing company, which will spin off from News Corp. and take its parent's name, will include the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Times of London, the Australian, HarperCollins book publishing and a nascent educational materials division called Amplify. 
Murdoch will serve as chairman of both News Corp. and 21st Century Fox. The 82-year-old mogul also claimed the job of chief executive of 21st Century Fox.

Big Drama at One of Hollywood's Most Successful Studios. The destabilization of the most successful studio in the history of the industry is underway. Warner Brothers has lost it's top execs over both television and the movie studio. Both were very successful at what they did and made big bucks for the studio. The stewards over Dark Knight, Argo, Harry Potter and major films, plus the boss who green light "Big Bang Theatre" are gone. Also out is the home entertainment boss, who oversaw the DVD, OnDemand and VOD growth despite a decline among other studios. Unanswered questions include the future of "Legendary" films and other partners or production divisions. More from KCRW's The Business and the LA Times.

Kevin Tsujihara
Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara is doing away with management layers. (Bloomberg)

Warner Bros.' CEO Kevin Tsujihara does away with movie, TV fiefdoms

New Warner Bros. Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara is wasting no time overhauling the movie and television studio and doing away with executive layers.
"Flatter and faster," is how one Warner Bros. senior executive described Tsujihara's structure.
Whereas previous Warner Bros. chief executive Barry Meyer preferred to have a few direct reports that were given wide latitude to run their units, Tsujihara's structure is more decentralized and will provide him with a ground floor view of the entire operation.
It will also mean Tsujihara will have a lot more direct reports than his predecessor.
For example, when Jeff Robinov was president of Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group, distribution, marketing and production reported to him and he reported to Meyer.
With Robinov leaving, Tsujihara has put four movie executives on equal footing and all will report to him.
It is similar to the approach Tsujihara took with television after Bruce Rosenblum resigned from the presidency of the Warner Bros. TV Group. Rosenblum oversaw all aspects of the studio's TV business. Now, there are three executives holding the title of president and each reports to Tsujihara.
The challenge for Tsujihara's approach will be whether the people he has named president can coexist. If not, Tsujihara could end up spending much of his time playing referee instead of focusing on the bigger picture.
On the other hand, the exits of Robinov and Rosenblum was inevitable. Both had battled Tsujihara, who had previously run the studio's home entertainment unit, to succeed Meyer and there were hard feelings that probably weren't going away any time soon. The last thing a new CEO needs is to be second-guessed by the people he beat out for the job.
The drama of the bake-off at Warner Bros. and the aftermath that has led to two well-respected executives to leave is the opposite of the smooth change of leadership that took place over the last few years at HBO, another Time Warner unit.
There, three executives -- Richard Plepler, Eric Kessler and Michael Lombardo -- all had the title of president under chairman and chief executive Bill Nelson. When Nelson retired last year, Plepler was named his successor but Kessler and Lombardo remained in senior positions.

From (L-R): Sue Kroll, Greg Silverman and Toby Emmerich
From left, Sue Kroll, Greg Silverman and Toby Emmerich are rising at Warner Bros. in the wake of Jeff Robinov's departure. (Kroll, Getty Images; Silverman, Warner Bros.; Emmerich, New Line.)

Jeff Robinov out at Warner Bros.; studio taps new film leadership

Warner Bros. unveiled new leadership for its movie division, promoting executives Sue Kroll, Greg Silverman and Toby Emmerich and confirming that studio chief Jeff Robinov is leaving.
The trio will lead Hollywood's largest film studio, a unit of Time Warner Inc.
Kroll, president of worldwide marketing, adds international distribution to her duties.  Silverman, president of production, will also become president of creative development and worldwide production at Warner Bros. Pictures. New Line Cinema President and Chief Operating Officer Emmerich will continue to oversee that production company and assume responsibility for Warner Bros. Theater Ventures., which is its live theater division.
The Burbank company also said it has extended the contract of Dan Fellman, president of domestic distribution. The leadership trio and Fellman will report to Warner Bros. Chief Executive Kevin Tsujihara.
Robinov, president of Warner Bros. Pictures Group since 2007, was not mentioned in the Warner Bros. announcement. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that the executive was making arrangements to depart the studio after a falling out with management. 
For more than two years, the studio has been gripped by tension and turmoil as three executives — Robinov, Tsujihara and former TV president Bruce Rosenblum — all jockeyed to succeed Barry Meyer, who is retiring as chairman at the end of the year. 
Tsujihara won the bake-off and was named chief executive in January. He will assume Meyer's chairmanship at the end of the year.
Robinov's departure comes about a month after the resignation of Rosenblum, chief of Warner Bros. Television Group.
Tsujihara's decision to appoint a trio of executives to run Warner Bros.' movie group is similar to the approach he took to restructuring the television unit in the aftermath of Rosenblum's exit.
“Warner Bros. is the world’s preeminent motion picture studio with one of the most talented executive benches in the industry,” said Tsujihara in a statement.  “Collectively, this team has more than 100 years at the company and broad experience across the film business, which will ensure that Warner Bros. Pictures continues as a respected leader in production, marketing and global distribution."
Kroll became president of worldwide marketing at Warner Bros. Pictures in January 2008. Silverman has been president of production at Warner Bros. Pictures since April 2011.
Emmerich has headed New Line Cinema since March 2008. The production company, a unit of Warner Bros., made recent movies "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Jack the Giant Slayer"and "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone."
Warner Bros. also announced that Veronika Kwan Vandenberg will continue as president of international distribution, and will eventually take over worldwide distribution responsibilities upon the planned retirement of Fellman.

Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in "Mad Men."
Don Draper (Jon Hamm) in "Mad Men." (Jaimie Trueblood/AMC / June 23, 2013)

Matthew Weiner explains the Hershey bar

(Spoiler alert) Despite being set amid national turning points for race relations, the major political parties, and the Vietnam War, the season finale of “Mad Men” was always moving toward a pivotal moment with a chocolate bar.
Let this serve as an official spoiler alert for those that have not yet seen Sunday night’s season finale of the Emmy Award-winning drama, which placed much of its action in the turbulent year of 1968. In an interview last week from his offices at Los Angeles Center Studios, the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, spoke about his choices in the closing episode "In Care Of."
“I’ve never wanted the history to take over the show,” said Weiner, who directed Sunday's episode. “But it seemed clear that all of the bubbling issues that we’d talked about, even those tangentially in the news since the show started, were completely in people’s lives in 1968.”
“The Hershey pitch is where we were working toward the entire season,” he continued. “And then the one-two punch of Don coming clean and this image of him standing in front of the house with his children.”
While the show’s central character, Don Draper, has certainly had his problems with clients this season, the resident creative genius at Sterling Cooper & Partners suffered a genuine crisis at the most unlikely time -- during a business meeting.
At first, Don dazzles visiting Hershey executives with a heartwarming pitch that linked his own loving childhood to a Hershey’s chocolate bar. Of course, it’s a lie -- and the home audience immediately knows it. Then, Don makes sure the Hershey executives know it.
“I loved that Don would give this phony baloney story and he would tell it really well,” said Weiner. “Then we see him confess to inappropriate people where it really mattered because it was Hershey, because of Ted, because he was so ashamed, and because he knew he couldn’t take it anymore.”
“And there was that crucial line ‘Weren’t you a lucky little boy,’ ” he added
Weiner chose to build the scene around the product because Don is from Pennsylvania, where the chocolate empire is based. Also, Weiner has had a longtime interest in business titans such as Milton Hershey, Conrad Hilton and H.J. Heinz, among others.
“There are certain American businessmen that are completely eccentric but have this kind of strange moral quality,” said Weiner. “As moral as you can be and be a ruthless business person.”
In one of the season’s most poignant moments, Don brings his children -- most notably his estranged oldest daughter Sally -- before the decaying carcass of the home of his youth. (In a recent episode, Sally caught her father sleeping with a neighbor's wife.)
“You’d like it to be the beginning of something,” said Weiner. “I’m not sure whether it is or not, because I don’t even know.”
“But the gesture itself is huge,” he added. “It’s a tough thing for him to do it. He does it in a Dad-like way and as someone I work with commented a lot of us never have that moment with our Dad or Mom.”

Matthew Weiner on AMC, Twitter and the End of 'Mad Men' (click here).

Daily Dose: All eyes will be on the ratings tomorrow to see how CBS' summer series "Under the Dome," based on a Stephen King book, will perform. While cable networks have long used summer to launch new dramas, the broadcast networks have primarily stuck to reality. But that luxury no longer exists and broadcast networks can no longer ignore summer.

Under the Dome
Deputy Linda (Natalie Martinez) and her fiance, Rusty (Josh Carter), find themselves separated by a massive transparent dome that's suddenly fallen on the town of Chester's Mill on "Under the Dome." (CBS / April 26, 2013)

'Under the Dome' seems in a rush to tell a good story

The CBS adaptation of Stephen King's tale of a small town mysteriously trapped looks promising, if only it would slow down.

You'd think it would be easy to adapt Stephen King to film or television, but history has proven otherwise. King's work is as much about mood as it is monsters, and that's a tough combo. For every masterpiece ("The Shining," "Carrie," "Misery"), there's a mess ("Christine," "Children of the Corn," "Bag of Bones").
Still, my own deep and abiding love for King began with television; my friends and I watched the 1979 miniseries "Salem's Lot" literally on the edge of our seats, pillows in hand for the moments when we Could Not Bear to watch.
So there are worries and expectations for "Under the Dome," which premieres Monday night on CBS. And not just regarding King — concerning the nature of adaptation as well.
Although "Under the Dome" is based on the 1,100-page book of the same name, it is a full-fledged, open-ended dramatic series. Graphic novelist Brian K. Vaughan, brought on as executive producer and writer, was given King's blessing to take the story of a small Pennsylvania town suddenly trapped by a mysterious barrier wherever he felt it needed to go.
Which is under that wacky dome as quickly as possible. For a story of such wide and possibly allegorical ambitions, the pilot seems in an unnecessary rush to get the party started.
Opening with a shot that manages to make the hatching of a baby bird seem ominous, we get right down to evil-doings. One man burying another in the middle of the woods, a young couple whose summer fling clearly cloaks something darker. A local drunk calls the sheriff to complain about some commotion, and a surprisingly lucid American hoarder tips off the comely local newspaper editor to a mysterious stockpiling of propane.
Then boom, down comes the dome, deadly and dramatic. After a cellphone call to his employer reveals he probably killed the guy he was burying in self-defense, Dale "Barbie" Barbara (Mike Vogel) runs his car into a field to avoid hitting some cows. Good thing too: As the earth trembles and the birds take off, an invisible barrier slices down right where his car would have been, cutting a cow in half.
As he is joined by young Joe McAlister (Colin Ford), whose family owns the field and the bifurcated cow, a private airplane smashes against the same invisible force, showering wreckage and body parts.
Right down the road, Sheriff Duke Perkins (Jeff Fahey), whose pacemaker suddenly goes dodgy, realizes that electricity and phones are out all over town. Showing up at the scene of the plane crash, Perkins immediately concludes that the whole town is trapped (it's like he read the Wiki page). He is quickly joined by Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris), an Al Haig-like car dealer, and that titian-haired investigative editor, Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre).
All of whom seem to instantly understand that Chester's Mill, Penn., is completely cut off from the rest of the world, probably for quite some time.
Many other things are established with equal rapidity and all-cap importance: Carolyn (Aisha Hinds) and Alice (Samantha Mathis) are passing through town when their troubled teenaged daughter Norrie (Mackenzie LIntz) has a fit that will no doubt Prove Significant (she mutters something about stars falling in straight lines). Big Jim commandeers the hip 'n' groovy radio station in a Most Fascist Way (although he does show life-saving foresight) and quickly asks to be deputized. The trysting couple seen earlier is revealed to be Rennie's Obviously Psycho son, Junior (Alexander Koch), and young Joe's Sweet but Feisty sister, Angie (Britt Robertson); their mother is on the other side of the dome so they are perilously On Their Own. Meanwhile, Sparks Fly between Julia and Barbie, although Julia is married to the town doctor, who is Inexplicably Missing.
Every pilot is burdened with establishing character, jump-starting the narrative and hooking the audience, but "Under the Dome" unnecessarily force-feeds us its first hour to its own detriment. What made King the master of his genre was patience and attention to detail — here is a town just like yours, here are people similar to the ones you know; they're drinking coffee, they're eating pie and chatting — except, whoops, a vampire has just moved into the house on the hill.
Perhaps Vaughan and his colleagues were afraid a quieter, more suspenseful opening would seem too trite, or maybe CBS figured the point is what happens under the dome so let's get that dome in placetout suite.
This was, perhaps, King's most overtly political novel, illustrating how quickly the social order we take for granted can erode when people are isolated and afraid — "Lord of the Flies" with grown-ups. Even so, order begins unraveling here at such a break-neck pace that it's swiftly predictable.
Which isn't to say "Under the Dome" won't wind up being fun to watch. All of the performances seem promising — and what's not to love about "Twilight's" Lefevre proving that print journalism is alive and well and drop-dead gorgeous? It's summer, it's Stephen King, it's small-town Pennsylvania, and it's a great concept; I'm in.
I just hope the creators take a breath between Episodes 1 and 2 and remember that when you're telling a scary story, it's best to tell it slow.

'The Good Wife'
CBS series "The Good Wife" is now available to Lovefilm Instant's U.K. and German users, as are "Blue Bloods," "Nurse Jackie" and "Californication." (CBS Broadcasting Inc.)

Amazon's Lovefilm gets 'The Good Wife,' 'Star Trek' in CBS deal

Lovefilm Instant, Inc.'s European streaming video on-demand service, has landed a licensing deal for content from CBS Studios International.
With the agreement announced Monday, Lovefilm's U.K. and German users can now stream CBS shows "The Good Wife" and "Blue Bloods," along with "Nurse Jackie," "Californication" and"Dexter," from the CBS-owned cable channel Showtime shows.
Subscribers can also stream the original 1960s "Star Trek" series and "Star Trek: Voyager." 
In addition to the U.K. and Germany, Lovefilm Instant is available in Sweden, Denmark and Norway, which were not included in the multi-year licensing deal with CBS. Financial terms were not disclosed. 
"This is another example of the growing licensing opportunities available for CBS’ world-class content in a dynamic global marketplace,” said Armando Nuñez, chief executive of CBS Global Distribution Group.
The deal comes as competitor Netflix Inc. is boosting its own European presence. The company said last week that it will launch in the Netherlands later this year.  
Online retail giant Amazon acquired Lovefilm in 2011 as it was preparing to launch its U.S. streaming service Amazon Prime Instant. 

Monster performance. "Monsters University" graduated with honors in its opening weekend, taking in $82 million and finishing first at the box office. Also delivering was the zombie thriller"World War Z," which made $66 million in its debut weekend. While "Monsters U." was expected to be huge, there were a lot of questions about Brad Pitt's "World War Z" because of all the problems the movie endured during production. However, the behind-the-scenes drama wasn't enough to scare off folks hungry for big-budget summer movies. Box office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

A couple of big Hollywood studios plan to let South Koreans rent movies via video on demand while they are still playing in theaters. The WSJ’s Jeyup S. Kwaak tells Yun-Hee Kim why Disney and Sony Pictures picked South Korea to test this model, which has failed in the U.S.
The parking is probably better too. Want to watch new movies at home? All you have to do is move to South Korea, where Walt Disney Co. and Sony Corp.. are experimenting with releasing movies on video-on-demand just a few weeks after their theatrical debut. Movie studios are eager to see if it is possible to release movies on VOD earlier here but movie theater owners are resistant, fearing it will keep moviegoers at home. The Wall Street Journal on the South Korea experiment.

Locked and loaded. There is no shortage of gun imagery in the posters for this summer's big movies. Although there was a lot of talk about whether Hollywood would tone down romanticizing guns and violence in the wake of last years massive shooting at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises," so far it appears to be business as usual. The New York Times on what it calls Hollywood's gun passion.

Paris Barclay has been elected president of the Directors Guild of America. (DGA)

A bigger show to run. The DGA will have the first African American and first openly gay president of a major motion picture union. Paris Barclay, a veteran television director currently working on "Sons of Anarchy," was voted president of the Directors Guild of America. Barclay has won two Emmy awards for his work on "NYPD Blue." More on Barclay and the DGA from the Los Angeles Times.
WGA, East announces board candidates for election.

WGA, East President Michael Winship to run unopposed for 4th term

Michael Winship, president of the Writers Guild of America, East, will run unopposed for his fourth term as president of the 4,000-member union.
Winship, a TV documentary writer who currently works onBill MoyersPBS show, was first elected in 2007. Secretary-Treasurer Bob Schneider also is running for reelection unopposed, seeking his third two-year term. Vice President Jeremy Pikser will run for reelection against Jeff Christman.
The WGA, East annual membership meeting and election is scheduled for Sept. 19.
Aside from the officer positions, the guild announced a dozen candidates were nominated for nine open seats on its council.
The nine candidates are incumbents Bonnie Datt, Henry Bean, Bernardo Ruiz, Susan Kim and Courtney Simon, as well as challengers Zhubin Parang, David Atkins, Robert Levi, Michael Lannan, Amy Sohn, Norman Steinberg and George Strayton.
In addition, five candidates will compete for three open staff seats, those that are available to guild members in good standing who work in news shops under guild negotiated contracts. They are Duane Tollison, Jeff Christman, Phil Pilato, Matt Nelko and Sue Brown McCann.

WGA, East, which is based in New York, jointly bargains with its larger sister union, WGA, West, which is based in Los Angeles. The unions have separate boards, staffing and elections.
Winship's counterpart -- WGA, West President Chris Keyser -- also will run unopposed in fall elections.

Honey Boo Boo
Alana (Honey Boo Boo) reads a book to her baby doll in "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." (TLC)
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Discovery Founder John Hendricks' new autobiography "A Curious Discovery" tells the story of how he built a cable empire.

Follow me on Twitter and we'll see where we can take this thing. @JBFlint.

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