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Sunday, June 30, 2013

RIP James Gandolfini. Public Enemy. Dating Ap from the Bachelor. Will 'World War Z' rise? Superticket to the Movies! CNN Defector to FOX.

RIP James Gandolfini. Will 'World War Z' rise?

James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano (HBO)

After the coffee. Before remembering how fleeting life can be. 

The Skinny: Very sad about James Gandolfini. I only met him once, and it wasn't on duty. I used to hang out in a little bar in Chelsea that "Sopranos" costar Michael Imperioli owned, and Gandolfini came in. He was nice, and I seem to recall a brief conversation about music. Thursday's headlines include appreciations of Gandolfini and a look at the hard road "World War Z" traveled to get to the big screen. If you are interested in receiving an email alert when the Morning Fix is live, please send me a note.

Fade to black. James Gandolfini, who brought conflicted mobster Tony Soprano to life in the HBO series "The Sopranos" died suddenly while vacationing in Italy at the age of 51. Gandolfini, who won three Emmys for his portrayal of the Jersey mob boss, was also an established character and stage actor, and a producer as well. "Sopranos" creator David Chase said Gandolfini was "one of the greatest actors of this or any time." Appreciations of Gandolfini from the Los Angeles Times, the New York TimesUSA TodayVariety, the Hollywood ReporterBuzzFeed and Vulture.

Forgotten credits. Earlier this year, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences hired Vicangelo Bulluck as its managing director of outreach and strategic initiatives. But according to Deadline Hollywood, AMPAS left off some of Bulluck's resume, which includes producing soft-core pornography primarily for Playboy, in its bio of him. 

Daily Dose: The lawyer behind a class-action suit against Time Warner Cable over how the distributor sells its local sports channels is no stranger to the industry. Maxwell Blecher of the Los Angeles law firm Blecher & Collins has been trying for years to get the pay-television industry's practice of bundling channels together tossed in court. However, he has not been too successful yet. Last year, a panel of judges for the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco sided with a dozen media giants including News Corp., Time Warner, DirecTV and Comcast in a class-action suit Blecher filed that sought to end the practice of bundling.

"World War Z"
Mireille Enos, left, and Brad Pitt star in "World War Z." The film tells the story of former U.N. investigator Gerry Lane (Pitt), a husband and father who, like much of the world’s population, goes on the run after a zombie outbreak causes mass panic and a global health crisis. (Jaap Buitendijk / Paramount Pictures)
Rise up! Though it's not quite "Waterworld," the zombie movie "World War Z" starring Brad Pitthas had its share of production drama. But now it is looking like the movie may manage to overcome all the behind-the-scenes drama and turn out to be a decent performer at the box office. The Los Angeles Times on the long journey of "World War Z."

Making history. Thanks to "Duck Dynasty," "Ice Road Truckers," "Hatfields and McCoys" and other hits, A&E and History have become two of the hottest channels around. Nancy Dubuc, the executive behind much of that success, has also risen up the executive ranks and now runs A&E Networks, which is co-owned by Disney and Hearst Corp. Business Week weighs in with a profile of Dubuc.

'Pacific Rim' movies
Warner Bros.' upcoming science fiction film "Pacific Rim&" is among the titles expected to be included when Cineplex rolls out its SuperTicket package. (Kerry Hayes / Warner Bros.)

Get ready for a "SuperTicket" to the movies.

'SuperTicket' for seeing movie at theater and home.

Major studios and theater chains are experimenting with a 'SuperTicket' package in which they sell digital copies of films to moviegoers.

After years of bickering over how soon after theatrical release a movie can be piped into the home, major studios and theater owners are experimenting with a new way to promote home entertainment sales — by selling ticket packages that enable patrons to order early digital downloads of movies that they see in the theater.
In the first multi-studio deal of its kind, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures Canada, Sony Pictures and Universal Pictures are partnering with Canadian theater chain Cineplex to offer a SuperTicket package that combines an admission ticket with a pre-order of a digital copy of the film.
Under the deal, the digital version of the movie will be available before the DVD and Blu-ray release and will include added features, such as bonus scenes, special footage from the movie, cast interviews and discounts on related films. Customers will access the movie via Ultraviolet, through which consumers can watch the film on any device they wish.
"We feel at the end of the day this really changes the whole business from the perspective of movie evolution and how people watch movies," said Ellis Jacob, president and chief executive of Toronto-based Cineplex, which has 136 theaters with 1,454 screens."This will be the future of owning movies after seeing movies."
If successful, the experiment could portend a new business model for movie distribution in Hollywood and encourage U.S. theater chains to follow suit.
For theaters, the model provides a new source of revenue at a time when theatrical attendance has flattened in North America. Studios would benefit by tapping into the exhibitors' large customer base to spur home entertainment sales at a time when DVD sales have declined.
"This is a very big step forward in bringing exhibition into an ancillary business where they've never been before," said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros.' president of domestic distribution. "This is an innovative and interesting way to expand the DVD business. You're reaching a consumer that you know is a moviegoer. It's like one-stop shopping for the same consumer."
Although SuperTicket is only available to Canadian moviegoers, other theaters in North America are launching similar experiments.
Last week Paramount Pictures and Regal Cinemas said they would offer a $50 "Mega Ticket" that included a ticket to see an advance screening of the Brad Pitt movie "World War Z" on Wednesday, two days before its worldwide release. The package included one HD digital copy of the movie when it becomes available, a pair of custom RealD 3-D glasses, a limited-edition full-size movie poster — and a small popcorn.
"The interest and anticipation for Brad Pitt's latest thriller is at a fever pitch and this 'World War Z Mega Ticket' offers a unique experience for our patrons," Ken Thewes, chief marketing officer forRegal Entertainment Group, said last week.
Unlike the Cineplex deal, however, Regal's package was limited to five theaters in Houston, Philadelphia, San Diego, Atlanta and at the Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21. It was not tied to a single movie or studio.
Cineplex will roll out its SuperTicket package this summer for several upcoming movies. Among the titles that are expected to be included is Warner Bros.' upcoming science-fiction film "Pacific Rim."
When customers purchase a ticket they will receive two vouchers — one for their theater admission and another containing a unique access code, which they can redeem for the digital version.
When the movie is available in the home, they log into a website where a copy of the movie has already been stored in their Ultraviolet locker and can be accessed on their computer, mobile device or Internet-connected TV.
How much will SuperTicket cost? Cineplex said prices will vary depending on the movie and features included in the package. Sources not authorized to speak on the record said the download packages would cost $20 more than the movie ticket price.
"This is really a convenience for the guests," Jacob said. "It's saying, 'When you watch a movie in the theater, now you have the ability to store it in your [digital] locker and watch it on multiple devices.'"
The budding alliances between studios and theater owners are surprising given the level of tension that existed only two years ago, when the sides clashed publicly over when movies should be available in the home.
Theater owners were incensed over plans by some studios to offer the early release of movies into the home, which they said would hurt their business by encouraging consumers to wait for the movie to come out on home video instead of seeing it in theaters.


Netflix has said it wasn't seeking special treatment from broadband firms. Pictured, Netflix's California offices.
Toll fee. As the Internet gets clogged with more and more content, some Web companies are paying broadband providers in return for better connections. This is opening up a debate about who should foot the bill for making sure traffic runs smoothly online. The Wall Street Journal looks at the complex issue and who's on board -- Google and Microsoft -- and who's not -- Netflix.
A dating app from "Bachelor" veterans
"The Bachelor" host Chris Harrison and creator Mike Fleiss worked with Silicon Valley notables to develop the dating app At First Sight, shown on an iPhone. (Perceptual Networks)

'The Bachelor' host Chris Harrison on launching a dating app.

“The Bachelor” doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to forming lasting relationships. But show creator Mike Fleiss and host Chris Harrison are hoping that their new venture will inspire more meaningful love connections.

“The Bachelor” veterans on Wednesday unveiled At First Sight, a dating app aimed at helping singles connect through video profiles. The app, available for free on iOS and Android, was developed by Perceptual Networks, a tech start-up whose investors include Silicon Valley notables such asPayPal founder Max Levchin and YouTube co-founder Steve Chen.

Users of the app are asked to post an introductory video and then add follow-up clips answering more specific queries, such as, "What is the scariest thing you’ve ever been through?" or "What is the most fun thing you’ve done lately?"

Harrison, 41, who recently divorced his wife of 18 years, said At First Sight stemmed from both his personal experience and his work helping to cast people for “The Bachelor” franchise.
We spoke to the host about his new project, the world of online dating and -- yes, his own At First Sight profile.

Why create a dating app when there are already so many online dating sites out there?

Mike and I have been talking about this for about 10 years. For a while, we thought about getting involved with an existing site, but the more we looked into them, we realized how antiquated they were. The way we cast “The Bachelor” has really been a study in human behavior. And we’d never cast someone based off of an old, Photoshopped picture from 18 years ago, a bio and a psych evaluation.

The backers of this app look like they’re some pretty serious tech titans. How did you team up?

Through Mike, we met these guys who are just ridiculous big wigs in Silicon Valley. We know the love game, and they know the tech game. Working with these brainiacs has been so cool to watch, and so out of my comfort zone from where I usually do business.

Did you and Mike put up your own money to help make the app a reality?

We are fully vested in this.

The app is free right now. How are you going to make your money back?

I don’t know if we will eventually charge. We’re in a beta phase right now. If millions of people are downloading this eventually, there’s obviously ad space, so there will be revenue and cash flowing from other areas. Like, if Ryan Gosling is on here, and every woman wants to get to him -- there may be a way to pay to send him a virtual bouquet or something to make you stick out.

You recently got divorced. How has the dating world been for you?

You know, a lot of this was inspired by where I am right now -- trying to get back out there and realizing that most of my good friends are married with kids. I’m having to meet new people and get back out there. So I kind of put my own pain and misery into the thought process, like, how do I connect with people?

But would you really make a profile on At First Sight? You’re a public figure.

A lot of times, celebrities -- or fascinating, beautiful men or women who have a lot to offer -- say they get inundated with 50,000 messages on dating sites and they run off. So we’ve put safety measures into the app which only allow you to receive a certain number of hits per day.

OK, so you do have a profile?

Yes. I’m in New York with my daughter right now, so I haven’t filled out all of my stuff yet. But I don’t see why not. I meet people all the time from different walks of life. I feel completely secure. If I sat there and saw your video and it intrigued me, after watching four or five more videos I would totally be interested in messaging you.

Do you think rejects from past “Bachelor” seasons will sign up?

Totally. Sarah Herron from Sean’s season just tweeted me asking if they need a spokesmodel! Maybe we’ll even be able to cast the show from the app in the future, if there are people who really blow us away.

Public Enemy
Public Enemy is using BitTorrent to let fans remix a new track. (BitTorrent Inc. June 19, 2013)
It takes a nation of millions … to make Public Enemy’s next remix.
The political hip-hop group, best known for such songs as "Bring the Noise" and "Fight the Power," is letting fans remix its new single, “Get Up Stand Up,” featuring Brother Ali, for a contest.
Peer-to-peer file-sharing service BitTorrent Inc. is providing the raw materials through a “bundle” for fans to download for free. The Public Enemy package gives fans access to the 37-stem multi-track for the song, allowing them to make their own remixes and submit their work.
The bundle also includes outtakes and a music video. 
Members of Public Enemy will listen to the resulting tracks and vote to determine their favorite, which they’ll release digitally.
BitTorrent has been testing its Bundle service, which lets musicians, filmmakers and other content creators distribute their work online.
File-distribution companies have not often been seen as friends of musicians, but BitTorrent is trying to change that by giving artists new ways to interact directly with fans.
The BitTorrent Bundle program, which will have its official launch by the end of this year, lets artists distribute to the site’s 170 million active monthly users. Artists including Death Grips and Kumare have used it, as has Berklee College of Music.
“We’re really trying to use the Bundle not only as a distribution and consumption space, but also as a collaboration space,” said Matt Mason, vice president of marketing at BitTorrent, in an interview.
For the Public Enemy contest, the first-prize winner will have the winning mix distributed by the group and will get recording equipment and Public Enemy gear. Additional prizes will go to eight runners-up. 
Though Public Enemy is making its download available in exchange for an email address, Mason said the Bundle service will let artists make money by requesting donations.
“The idea of the bundle is, you can publish anything and distribute to millions of people,” Mason said. “We wanted to give the artists the option for how they want to monetize their content.”
Though Public Enemy continues to record and tour with rappers Chuck D and Flavor Flav sharing mic duties, Flavor Flav is perhaps best known currently as a reality-TV mainstay, most notably as the star of VH1's "Flavor of Love." 
Howard Kurtz
Howard Kurtz (Associated Press)
Howard Kurtz is taking his critical lens on the media from CNN to Fox News.
The media critic and longtime host of CNN's "Reliable Sources" will anchor a similar weekend show for Fox News starting in July.
In making the announcement, Fox News executive vice president Michael Clemente said Kurtz is a "master of social media trends, information good and bad, and a veteran political reporter. Altogether, he will add even greater depth to a very accomplished team of reporters and anchors."
A former reporter for the Washington Post and the Daily Beast, Kurtz has helmed "Reliable Sources" since 1998. He will host for the next two weeks and then CNN will search for replacement, the network said.
Kurtz has at times been criticized for covering the media while having a cozy relationship with CNN. More recently, he took heat for an article on the Daily Beast about NBA player Jason Collins announcing his homosexuality. Kurtz criticized the article Collins wrote for Sports Illustrated because Kurtz claimed that Collins didn't acknowledge he had once been engaged to a woman.
The problem was that Collins had mentioned his engagement in his article. Kurtz also made a video about Collins' article for a website called Daily Download that made fun of the player. Kurtz left the Daily Beast soon after the article, while CNN stood by him.
Kurtz will also write a column on the media for Fox News' website.

Kelsey Grammer
Kelsey Grammer is starring in a new FX sitcom with Martin Lawrence. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times / June 19, 2013)

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Soon you may be able to buy a ticket to watch a movie in your home. FX has struck a deal for a new sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence. 


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