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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Homer a multi-billionaire? CBS pulled off air? Time Warner Cable and CBS play chicken. Sotelo exit plot twist.

Disclaimer on above...langage and images may offend...see below..

"The Simpsons"
"The Simpsons" will make even more money for 21st Century Fox. (Fox)

After the coffee. Before figuring out when to sneak a nap. 

Lots of filmmakers want to jump from YouTube clips to regular movies and TV, but how many are doing so on the power of fart jokes? 
"Dick Figures," an animated YouTube series featuring crude drawing and equally crude humor, has been made into a 73-minute movie set for digital release on Sept. 17. 

Crude is an understatement...juvenile, gross. obscene, loud, irreverent...
Production company Six Point Harness and distributor Mondo Media have partnered with the Google Inc.-owned video service, along with digital distribution company Cinedigm and video-on-demand tech company Yekra, to release the film.
The companies have not said exactly how they will distribute "Dick Figures: The Movie" to the masses. They did say the distribution model will combine ad-supported and paid options.
The series, which lives on Mondo Media's YouTube channel, is quite popular. It has amassed 350 million views in its three-year existence. The filmmakers completed a $300,000 campaign on crowdfunding site Kickstarter last year.   
The cartoons are clearly aimed at teenage boys. To give you an idea of the type of humor involved, web episodes have titles like "Chug-A-Chug-A-Brew-Brew" and "The Fart Knight Rises."
The movie's trailer helpfully promises "stick figures," "raccoons," "ninjas" and "explosions." 

The Skinny: I worked from 5:30 a.m. to midnight Monday so I'm very groggy this morning. You can thank me later for making sure no one missed one minute of the craziness between Time Warner Cable and CBS. And remember, I'm not getting paid what the big shots at those two media giants are pulling down. Besides that story, Tuesday's news includes the real story behind radio personality Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo's exit from Univision and Sinclair Broadcast Group strikes a deal for Allbritton CommunicationsSaw "Blue Jasmine" over the weekend and though it is a good movie, it's really ultimately not about a woman who loses everything as much as it is about an alcoholic in denial. Andrew Dice Clay is good in it. Monday's headlines include the box office recap, NBC's plans for aHillary Rodham Clinton miniseries and a big advertising agency merger.  

Aubrey Plaza
Aubrey Plaza arrives at the Critics' Choice Television Awards in the Beverly Hilton Hotel on June 10. (Chris Pizzello / Invision/ Associated Press / June 10, 2013)

The zombie comedy "Life After Beth" has come to life.
The independent film, which stars Aubrey PlazaJohn C. Reilly and Anna Kendrick, among others, began filming earlier this year month in Los Angeles, according to film permits.
"Life After Beth" has already filmed in Griffith Park, a handful of private residences and a church in Encino, an apartment building near USC and Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena.
On Friday, the film and its 55 crew members shot scenes at a private residence in Northridge, according to a permit filed with FilmL.A. Inc. The permit referenced interior dialogue, intermittent pedestrian control, smoke effects, and simply "Zombies."
Zombies have been running wild in Hollywood of late, withBrad Pitt's recent thriller "World War Z," Summit Entertainment's "Warm Bodies," not to mention AMC's hit series "The Walking Dead."
"Life After Beth" contributed to a 20% jump in feature location filming in the Los Angeles area last week, though location filming for features has been flat this month compared to a year ago.       
Television saw a 13% drop in production days for locations shoot last week, and is down 24% this month versus a year ago.
Commercial production also dropped 6.4% last week and is off 3% so far this quarter from a year ago, according to a Los Angeles Times review of data from FilmL.A. Inc. The data track productions that film on streets as well as non-certified sound stages in the city and county.

Daily Dose: Fans of "Dr. Phil" may be out of luck this afternoon if CBS and Time Warner Cable are unable to strike a deal that would keep TV stations owned by the network on the pay-TV distributor's system. Most of the country isn't in risk of losing their CBS signal, but Time Warner Cable subscribers in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas are. Deadline for a deal or extension of the old deal is 2 p.m. this afternoon. Here's my latest updateOWN, the cable channel co-owned by Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications, appears to be finally turning the corner. On its second-quarter earnings call Tuesday morning, Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav said OWN is now cash-flow positive. Much of the credit goes to higher distribution fees and the addition of two shows from producer Tyler Perry.

Inside the newsroom at the NFL's digital media studio in Culver City.
(Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / July 19, 2013)

NFL amps up its digital media, launching a fantasy football effort


Comedy Central launches a new Xbox app
Comedy Central network has launched CC: Stand-Up, a new app for the Xbox that offers access to stand-up performances from comedians such as Hannibal Buress. (Michael Underwood / Comedy Central)

Who says comedy doesn't travel?
Comedy Central is taking the best of its televised stand-up shows, from such notable comedians as Aziz AnsariPatton Oswalt and Hannibal Buress, and making the best bits available through Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console.
Its CC: Stand-Up app  features clips of past stand-up performances, which are programmed so the comedy routines can be viewed in a continuous stream -- just like any other TV channel. Viewers also can choose to watch one of the themed playlists, search for routines of a favorite comedian or pick selections from a recent special.
"For Xbox in particular, we've spent a lot of time and effort to go back into our library ... and figuring out the best way to present this content," said Ben Hurst, vice president of mobile and emerging platforms for Comedy Central's corporate parent Viacom. "We didn't just take clips from the archives, as currently exists. We thought about what's the best clip length? What's the best way to present [the performances]?"
CC: Stand-Up will be available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers, who pay $5 a month to play against other gamers online, watch high-definition movies and TV shows, and access such entertainment services as Netflix
The game console affords networks like Comedy Central a new way to monetize their video libraries in a way that doesn't threaten lucrative existing business arrangements with cable and satellite TV distributors. In the case of Comedy Central, it can tap into an archive of more than 6,000 videos from more than 700 comedians.
"It really goes back to our legacy and our overall history with stand-up in general," said Hurst. "We launched with stand-up in 1991. It goes back our beginnings. We have amassed this huge library of stand-up. We felt it was a great opportunity to re-imagine how we bring that content to our fans."
The digital channel can also serve as a marketing vehicle, to drive viewers to an upcoming stand-up special on Comedy Central.

Hugh Jackman stars in "The Wolverine"
"The Wolverine" didn't have sharp claws this weekend. (20th Century Fox )

Dull claws. "The Wolverine" was supposed to slash the box office this weekend but it scratched its way to only $55 million. That's far less than what industry analysts had projected and even lower than 20th Century Fox thought it would make and studios are notoriously conservative when predicting box office for their movies. "The Conjuring" continues to thrill moviegoers, taking in $22 million. Weekend box office recaps from the Los Angeles Times andMovie City News.  

Time Warner Cable briefly pulled CBS owned properties
A notice Time Warner Cable showed subscribers when it briefly pulled a CBS-owned channel from its system. (July 29, 2013)

Game of chicken. 
On Monday, Time Warner Cable and CBS took viewers and the media on a roller coaster ride. The two companies, unable to hammer out a new distribution deal to keep CBS-owned properties including TV stations in Los Angeles and New York City on Time Warner Cable systems,kept agreeing to a short-term extension. Then, at 9 p.m. PDT, Time Warner Cable yanked the CBS signals off its systems and told customers no deal could be reached. But just a few minutes later the networks were back onThere is still no agreement and now the new temporary deadline is Friday afternoon. Wake me then. Coverage of all this distribution drama from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times.

Eddie Piolin Sotelo
Radio personality Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo of "Piolín por la Manana." (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press / October 17, 2008)

More to the story. The removal last week of popular radio personality Eddie "Piolin" Sotelo by Univision had to do with accusations of sexual harassment against him. According to the Los Angeles Times, Alberto "Beto" Cortez, a writer, producer and performer on the "Piolin por la Manana" morning radio show, charged that Sotelo was "physically, sexually and emotionally harassing" to him. Sotelo's lawyer denied the claims. 

Big is the new big. The massive wave of consolidation in the local television station business continued Monday with Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcast Group buying Allbritton Communications for $985 million. The deal gives Sinclair, already one of the operators of TV stations, seven more stations including WJLA-TV in Washington. Sinclair will also own Allbritton's Washington-based local news cable network NewsChannel 8, which will boost its presence on Capitol Hill. Overall, Sinclair owns or operates well over 100 outlets. More on the deal from the Los Angeles TimesWall Street Journal and Broadcasting & Cable.

Have a cow man. Already one of the most popular and financially successful series in television history, Fox's "The Simpsons" is poised to make even more money. While reruns of the hit cartoon have populated local TV stations for years, repeats of the show have never been sold to a cable channel. The reasons for that are too complicated to explain here, but now 20th Century Fox is going to start shopping it to cable channels and there will likely be lots of eager buyers. Details from TV Guide.

Together Again. It wasn't that long ago that Bob and Harvey Weinstein were angry at Walt Disney Co. over how the media giant ran their production company Miramax. Now Disney and the Weinsteins -- who now operate The Weinstein Co. -- are teaming up on a movie based on the Artemis Fowl young adult book series. Guess time heals all wounds. Reuters on the reunion.

Michael J. Fox at NBC's TCA
Michael J. Fox on "The Michael J. Fox Show" panel during the NBCUniversal Press Tour in Beverly Hills. (Chris Haston / NBC / July 27, 2013)

NBC completes upfront ad sales with $2.1-billion haul.

NBC's financial fortunes are perking up, with advertisers agreeing to pay rate increases of 7% to 8% over last year's prices during the annual summer sales bazaar.
In the last few days, NBC executives finished selling their advertising time for the upcoming 2013-2014 television season, hauling in roughly $2.1 billion in total commitments for prime-time, a person familiar with the negotiations said Tuesday.
That amount represents a 15% increase over NBC's upfront haul last year when the peacock network collected between $1.8 billion and $1.9 billion in total sales. The market is known as the upfront because the networks sell the bulk of their advertising time in advance or "upfront" of the new TV season.
NBC sold about 80% of its prime-time inventory for the upcoming season, slightly more than last year.
NBC's ad rate increases appear to exceed that of market leader CBS, which wrangled 6% to 7.5% increases during its upfront ad sales last month. CBS, the No. 1 ranked network, collected the largest total purse in the industry with about $2.6 billion in prime-time commitments.
Fox wrapped up its advertising sales last month, collecting about $1.8 billion for prime-time. The network, owned byRupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, collects less money than the other major broadcasters because Fox schedules just 15 hours in prime-time.  ABC, CBS and NBC each program 22 hours in prime-time.
ABC, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., has not finished its sales. ABC has been at a stalemate over prices with one of the major advertising companies, GroupM.
This summer, advertisers snapped up time on NBC's juggernaut properties, "Sunday Night Football" and "The Voice." Advertisers also appeared enthusiastic about some of NBC's new shows, including Michael J. Fox's Thursday night sitcom, "The Michael J. Fox Show," and the edgy drama "Blacklist," starring James Spader.
NBC sold higher volume in the upfront market for its premier property, "Sunday Night Football."  That's because advertisers are increasingly interested in getting their messages into "event" programs that viewers watch live rather than record for later playback, when they can fast-forward through the commercials.
NBCUniversal approached this year's upfront market differently from its broadcast competitors. Instead of focusing primarily on NBC, which has spent years in the ratings cellar, the company's advertising sales chief Linda Yaccarino rolled out a "one-portfolio approach."
The strategy of Yaccarino and NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke was to combine sales of commercial time on NBC along with the sale of spots on the company's cable channels, including USA NetworkBravoSyfy, NBC Sports and E!
That strategy appeared to pay off.

Peter Foley/European Pressphoto Agency
Despite Mrs. Murdoch's prenuptial and two postnuptial agreements with Rupert Murdoch, some areas remain unsettled.

If only this was televised. Wendi Murdoch has hired a new lawyer to handle her divorce from media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The New York Times says she tapped William Zabel, who represented Jane Welch in her divorce battle with then-General Electric boss Jack Welch. Murdoch had been represented by Pamela Sloan but apparently felt that she needed more independent counsel.


Commercial kings. Advertising agencies Omnicom and Publicis announced Sunday that they were merging in a deal worth $35 billion. The combination will make for strange bedfellows as Omnicom does work for Pepsi while Publicis counts Coke as a client. Some are positioning the deal as Madison Avenue's answer to the growing power of digital advertising. By getting bigger the two shops will be in better position against Google and Facebook. More on the deal from the Wall Street JournalVarietyBloomberg and Advertising Age.  

Hillary Clinton
NBC will make a mini-series about Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Cliff Owen / Associated Press / July 27, 2013)

Betting on Hillary. NBC said it is planning a miniseries on Hillary Rodham Clinton starring Diane Lane as the former first lady and secretary of State. The program is one of several big event projects NBC said it has in the works. NBC brass also indicated that it hopes Jay Leno will maintain ties with the network after he finishes his run on "The Tonight Show" next year. Details from the Los Angeles TimesUSA Today and Hollywood Reporter

The Bachelorette
"The Bachelorette" Desiree Hartsock and Chris Harrison appear on an episode earlier in the season. (Rick Rowell / ABC /March 20, 2013)

TV ratings: ABC beats CBS with 'Bachelorette' finale.

ABC's "The Bachelorette" had no trouble courting viewers Monday night.
Monday night's broadcast of "The Bachelorette," the first part of the series' season finale, drew an average 7.77 million viewers and scored a 2.3 rating in the key 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen, up 21% from last week.  
A ratings point equals about 1.3 million viewers.
ABC followed up the two-hour broadcast with "Mistresses,"which also increased viewers and ratings.
ABC beat CBS for the night. ABC average viewership was 6.56 million, with a 18-49 rating of 2.  
CBS's "Under the Dome" fell in ratings this week. It was still the most-watched and highest rated show of the night, with 11.1 million viewers and a rating of 2.7 in 18-49.
The show, which follows a small town trapped under a transparent dome, was down about 4% from its previous week rating, matching its low from the series.
At NBC, "American Ninja Warrior" and "Get Out Alive withBear Grylls" fell from last week to season lows. "Siberia" fell 14% from its previous episode two weeks ago to its series low.  
Fox was in all repeats Monday night. 

Daniel Rosenbaum for The New York Times

Justin B. Smith, as president of Atlantic Media, developed a reputation as an aggressive promoter of digital media.

New boss. Bloomberg Media, the business news conglomerate whose properties include the Bloomberg TV cable channel and the magazine Business Week, has tapped Atlantic Media boss Justin Smith as its new president. Smith is credited with will building a strong digital presence for the Atlantic magazine. Andy Lack, who had been president of Bloomberg Media, has been named chairman. Details on the hire from the New York Times

“An organization of, by and for actors alone!” 
- Eddie Cantor, October, 1933

The Summer Blockbuster Flop 

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas are warning that Hollywood is on the verge of a meltdown. They say that studios' reliance on big budget action movies could doom them.  And so far this summer, there have been six major flops. So is the movie industry going through some soul searching? 

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg launched the era of the modern blockbuster with their movies Star Wars and Jaws.  So people took note when last month they warned that Hollywood could suffer big for its reliance on huge action movies. Indeed, there have been six big budget flops in the last few months.  The latest -- R.I.P.D. which cost 130 million dollars to make and has earned just 23 million worldwide.

The number of people who could be put to work on lower budget and even large budget traditional films for the money it takes to make and market one blockbuster, Spielberg argues, could fund a new Genesis of film making and a new Golden Age for film.

The flops are films in the works from two to thirteen years. You cannot shift the industry on a dime.  And the industry focuses on television, games, theme parks, music, toys or products, and other revenue sources.

Breaking through the clutter is harder than ever before. There are many other intriguing alternatives for your recreational dollar, and your time. The younger, most sought after audience is even more cluttered with alternatives than those over 40. The add the larger number of films opening each weekend, and hanging on from previous weeks, and the movie going public has more choice then ever before.

In response studios are trying too hard to launch new big budget block busters in an age of DVD, Blue Ray, on-demand streaming and Netflix. But existing sequels are making money while new big budget gambles flop. 

Meanwhile low budget low humor films are breaking through on dimes for the dollar. 

Independent films are finding a niche, partly in theaters and partly in ancillary markets, such as on-demand and unit sales. But even the indys cost more to produce then ever before, at least those what gain theatrical release and are deemed worth the high marketing costs to launch in theaters.

Movies are green-lighted by committee, with the age of the mogul and the producer product centered break through are limited. 

Could it be marketing to the lowest consumer at the lowest taste and education level to guarantee maximum possible tickets sold?

Marketing cost has skyrocketed, with the global market the new primary target. So recouping the cost is double or even a much as five times the production costs.

It is difficult to sell audiences on traveling to a destination, risking neighborhoods or locations, putting up with poor service, cell phones in the theater and so on.....

The movie going experience needs an overhaul.

Meanwhile five years ago everyone was crying about the death of television, and now television is its most profitable ever, even being called the new Golden Age of Television. Even large Hollywood film producers and stars are now doing television, even down to obscure cable channels and gambles like Netflix and Amazon.

Small films are going direct to cable, Netflix or on-line distribution. They may not make tons of money, but they are profitable and often finance the next movie while keeping its creative staff in house and home.

Back to movies...the international market is now primary, with the entire international market being dwarfed by the growth of China as a market for films. Rural people are being forced to move to new cities, making non-traditional (read Western) entertainment a new market. 3D and iMax have an advantage, as those screens equal traditional screens in the "new China". The government distributes films, funds films and decides which foreign films get distributed, where and when. Production in China is growing, with American and International film companies investing heavily in the fastest growing production and audience in the world. China is number two to North America as the biggest grossing market in the world, due to overtake the US within six or seven years.

In terms of content humor, locations and "things" that may not be "legible" to the world wide market are being taken out of films, reducing dialogue, historic references from the US point of view, and strictly US cultural references.

The basic model of working within 'the industry' has changed, become more complex, with additional update work and expenses in 'specs', alternative finance and distribution options, the celebrity model, foreign pre-sales, studios as distribution partners or simply requiring you pay them to use their name, multi-platform marketing and much more.

This is a time of evolution, revolution and change in this industry. The digital revolution, the Chinese and foreign markets, shifts in cultural norms and beliefs, multi-liqualism, inflation is costs and the role of film and video entertainment in our cultures.

Can the movie theater's be saved?

Will there be television in its traditional network form in the future?

In a world where people watch or consume only what they want, will they be open to the variety and diversity of opinions that they were forces to be exposed to when there were fewer entertainment options?

What is the future of the movie business? Television? Entertainment?

From KCRWs to the Point and other research and notes....(click here for To The Point)

A revitalization of the Forum includes restoring the building's Roman-inspired columns and repainting the metal panels "California sunset red." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Madison Square Garden Co., the new owners of the legendary Forum in Inglewood, have big plans re-energize the facility and take on Staples CenterGreg Braxton on the final season of "Breaking Bad." Robert Lloyd on the new Sundance Channel series "The Writers' Room." 

Breaking Bad
Bryan Cranston in "Breaking Bad." (AMC / April 22, 2012)

The Performers Alliance (Membership First) and the Screen Actors Guild

Follow me on Twitter and we'll make it rain! @JBFlint.

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