20th Century Fox TV has promoted Howard Kurtzman to President, Business Operations, and Mark Pearson to EVP Brand Management and Digital Media. Both report to chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who made the announcement today. Kurtzman will expand his responsibilities to include additional involvement with the studio’s expanding cable production units Fox 21 and Fox Television Studios, while continuing to oversee the company’s business and legal affairs operations. Pearson continues to lead the exploitation of the studio’s brands across all distribution channels, with specific emphasis on digital and new media, overseeing the company’s Brand Management, Strategy, Marketing, Research and Music operations. He helps guide Twentieth TV’s home entertainment, DVD and SVOD strategies, and works alongside the syndication division on new broadcast and cable sales and the digital entertainment group on developing mobile apps and games.
The rumored tie-in between NBCUniversal and former AllThingsD co-executive editors Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg is now a reality. NBCUniversal News Group tonight announced a strategic investment and content partnership with Revere Digital, the new technology-focused media company launched by Swisher and Mossberg as their contract with News Corp. and its Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal businesses ended December 31. The announced was made at the very moment Revere’s new website, Re/code, went live at midnight ET on January 2. “Kara and Walt are two of the most knowledgeable, well-connected and respected technology journalists working today. They built an incredible brand and business with ‘AllThingsD,’ and we are very excited about partnering with them in this new venture and deepening our engagement in this rapidly changing technology market,” said Patricia Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group. Under the partnership, Revere’s breaking news and analysis stories will run simultaneously across NBCUniversal News Group’s multiple media platforms, and Swisher, Mossberg and other Revere journalists will appear on-air across all of the News Group properties including CNBC, MSNBC, Today , and Nightly News With Brian Williams. Additionally, CNBC will become Revere’s media partner for its global conferences.
Fox Gives 13-Episode Series Order To Ancient Egypt Drama ‘Hieroglyph’ From Travis Beacham & Chernin Entertainment
A day after 6-year-old pilot Babylon Fields came back to life with a pilot order at NBC, another old drama project is making a comeback. During the 2011-12 development season, Travis Beacham‘s fantastical action-adventure spec Hieroglyph narrowly missed the cut for a pilot order at Fox. Two years later, it did one better — landing a straight-to-series 13-episode order.
Produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment, Hieroglyph, which is eyed for next season, is set in ancient Egypt, where fantasy and reality intertwined. It follows a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and even a few divine sorcerers. Executive producing the project are Beacham, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and Miguel Sapochnik (Fringe), who will direct the premiere episode. Filming is scheduled to begin in early 2014. “We wanted to do a show about deceit, sex, intrigue in the court and fantastical goings-on — no better place to set that than ancient Egypt,” said Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly. “Travis Beacham has an inventive mind, and he has wrapped this all together in this intoxicating new drama.”
This is a shift for Institutional Shareholder Services, and a recommendation that it has to know is doomed to fail. The investor advisory firm endorsed all of the board candidates last year when Rupert Murdoch‘s entertainment and publishing properties were combined at News Corp. But ISS is upset that the mogul adopted an anti-takeover plan called a poison pill in June when he split his assets between two companies: 21st Century Fox for entertainment, and News Corp for publishing. ISS now wants Fox shareholders to oppose Murdoch, his sons James and Lachlan, COO Chase Carey, and five Murdoch allies when they’re up for election to the board at Fox’s first annual meeting on October 18. In addition, the firm wants shareholders to support a resolution calling for an independent board chairman — Rupert is CEO and chairman — and to end the two-tier stock system that enables the Murdoch family to control 39.4% of the votes even though it owns just 14% of the all shares.
This is a complicated annual exercise for 21st Century Fox — and its predecessor, News Corp — as it tries to comply with U.S. laws that bar a company from owning TV station licenses if non-citizens control more than 25% of its total voting shares. To stay under that threshold, Fox applies a discount to the votes of non-U.S. shareholders. And with 31% of its Class B voting shares held by foreigners, the company determined that it could reduce the discount to 35% from 40%. If you’ve followed along this far, you might wonder whether a process that discounts some investors’ holdings would inflate the clout of CEO Rupert Murdoch and his family who control 39.4% of the B shares. Not to worry: The company says they’ll stay at that percentage of the total by agreeing not to vote or provide voting instructions for “a portion” of their shares. When all’s said and done, about 711.9M Class B shares will be entitled to vote at the annual meeting that’ll be held October 18 in Los Angeles. As a technical matter, Fox (which includes the Fox studio and TV networks) is the same company that we knew as News Corp until June. At that point the Murdoch-controlled publishing assets and Australian media properties were spun off into a new entity that’s now called News Corp.
NEW YORK– News Corp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; Temp. ASX tickers: NNC, NNCLV) announced today that it has sold the Dow Jones Local Media Group, which operates 33 publications, including 8 daily and 15 weekly newspapers, to an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group LLC.
The Dow Jones Local Media Group daily newspaper franchises include the Times Herald-Record (Middletown, N.Y.); Cape Cod Times (Hyannis, Mass.); The Record (Stockton, Calif.); The Standard-Times (New Bedford, Mass.); The Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, Penn.); The Herald (Portsmouth, N.H.); The Mail Tribune (Medford, Ore.), and The Daily Tidings (Ashland, Ore.). In addition to daily and weekly newspapers, the Dow Jones Local Media Group operates other print and online community media, including web sites, magazines as well as news and advertising niche publications.
You can take Koch Industries off the list of potential buyers for the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune publications. A spokeswoman for the Wichita, Kansas-based company told Bloomberg that Koch is no longer interested in bidding for the newspapers. The Daily Caller website initially reported that Koch decided it would not be buying any of Tribune’s daily newspapers after conducting a review. ”Koch continues to have an interest in the media business and we’re exploring a broad range of opportunities where we think we can add value,” Koch spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. The Kochs had been named among several potential Tribune buyers, people familiar with the negotiations said back in March. That group included News Corp., Berkshire Hathaway, Wrapports LLC and Freedom Communications.
Global Showbiz Briefs: UK To Charge Ex-Newspaper Staffers In Bribery Scandal; Yahoo Taps Dawn Airey For SVP Post; More
Ex-Daily Mirror, Sun Staffers Among 9 Charged In Bribery Scandal
Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said today that nine people would be charged in relation to allegations of illegal payments to public officials. Among them are former Daily Mirror journalist Greig Box-Turnbull, and ex-Sun staffers Graham Dudman, John Troup and Vince Soodin. Box-Turnbull is being called up on two charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office with regard to alleged payments to prison officers for information. The prison officers also are being charged as co-conspirators. Dudman is alleged to have requested the authorization of payments to one or more police officers and to have authorized payments to public officials in his capacity as Sun managing editor. Troup is charged as a co-conspirator. Soodin will be charged with conspiring with a police officer to commit misconduct in public office. The remaining defendants are a police officer and a hospital employee. All will appear before Westminster Magistrates’ Court on September 5. The new charges come a few days after the revelation that Scotland Yard is actively investigating Sun owner News International (now News UK) for possible criminal violations related to the phone-hacking scandal and allegations of illegal payments. News UK is the British press arm of News Corp.
Dawn Airey Tapped As Yahoo’s SVP Europe, Middle East And Africa
Yahoo has appointed UK television veteran Dawn Airey as SVP Europe, Middle East and Africa. Beginning November 1, Christophe Parcot, who has served as Yahoo’s interim lead of EMEA, will take on a new role focused on expanding the web giant’s business in the region. Airey joins Yahoo from RTL Group. She has also held high-level executive positions at Five, ITV, BSkyB and Channel4.
Fox TV Studios, division of News Corp.’s 21 Century Fox and a sister company of Fox News, is in discussions with NBC about coming on board to produce the network’s recently announced 4-hour miniseries Hillary, about Hillary Clinton, that has Diane Lane attached to star as the former First Lady and Secretary of State. I hear the talks, first reported by the New York Times, are preliminary, with the two sides far apart. The economics of TV movies and miniseries are challenging, which is why very few production companies take on such programs these days. That includes NBC’s own studio, Universal TV, which would not produce NBC’s longform projects, including Hillary. The Clinton mini, to be written by Courtney Hunt, already has become a lightning rod of controversy, with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus threatening to yank primary debates from NBC and NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd calling the mini “a total nightmare” for the news division.
The CEO of 21st Century Fox opened today’s briefings in Los Angeles for Wall Street analysts who are trying to figure out where the entertainment company is headed now that it’s separate from the publishing properties at News Corp. “I believe this will be a day to remember,” Rupert Murdoch said. He acknowledges that Fox critics say its collection of traditional media movie and TV properties have peaked. He says, though, that in business — like in the movies — “many of you know that sequels can be far more lucrative than the original.” He points to opportunities overseas in markets with a growing middle class, and with new digital technologies including smartphones. “Our challenge at 21st Century Fox is to get there ahead of everyone else,” Murdoch says noting that “the value of hit content is only going to increase exponentially….A good story knows no border.” Fox execs will be “thoughtful risk takers” since “our greatest successes come from the businesses that we have built, not acquired.”
The shopping spree by the production company of the UK’s leading private broadcaster continues with the acquisition of Big Talk, the producer of such award-winning comedy series as Rev for the BBC, Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner and ITV’s recent sitcom The Job Lot, as well as films including Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, which Focus Features bows in the U.S. on August 23. ITV is buying 100% of the company, in which actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are shareholders. The initial payment is expected to be in the neighborhood of £12.5 million, depending on Big Talk’s 2012/13 financial performance, while additional payments will be made on the delivery of target profit growth over the next five years. In addition to ITV, News Corp. Shine also had been in discussions about acquiring Big Talk.
This is the latest buy for ITV, which has been beefing up its production portfolio over the past few months. In December 2012 it acquired a controlling interest in Gurney Productions (Duck Dynasty) followed by majority shares in Thinkfactory Media (Hatfields & McCoys) and High Noon Entertainment (Cake Boss). ITV also has controlling stakes in The Garden and So Television in the UK, Mediacircus in Norway and Tarinatalo in Finland. The company also has been mulling a £90M ($134M) takeover of Scandinavian Nice Entertainment.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Don Mischer To Produce Pair Of Awards Show In China; TV5 Monde Preps SVOD Service In US; More
Don Mischer Productions Takes Stage-Show Experience To China
Don Mischer Productions is set to produce the stage show for the Huading Celebrity Image Awards on October 7 and the Huading Sports Awards on October 9 both in Macau, China, honoring China’s leading celebrities as determined by fan voting. Oscar and Emmy veteran Don Mischer and his team also will introduce an all-new global version of the Huading Awards featuring international talent to be filmed in LA in April and broadcast throughout China. The Huading Celebrity Image Awards recognize outstanding work in film, television, dance, theater and music.
French Cultural Channel Teams With Comcast For SVOD Service In US
Attention Francophiles: French cultural channel TV5 Monde has partnered with Comcast to launch its first SVOD service in the U.S. TV5 Monde Cinema On Demand went live on Thursday and is available via cable in San Francisco, Denver, Miami, Boston, Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Houston, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Jersey. The service includes recent French films, films from the past decade and classics. A new thematic strand will pop up each month with the first based around Jean Dujardin.
News Corp announced today plans to move its entire London operations to a single location in The Place on the south bank of the Thames River. The locally based businesses and staff of News UK, Dow Jones and HarperCollins will be housed together for the first time and will begin relocating to the new site in the summer of 2014.
“Our new London location in the vibrant borough of Southwark will allow us to realize one core objective as the new News – to work more closely and creatively, and leverage our collective resources,” said Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp.
The Place resides alongside The Shard at the heart of the London Bridge Quarter, a major redevelopment surrounding one of the best-connected travel hubs in the UK. The project is an important part of the redevelopment of south London, contributing to the further regeneration of the local area, and is a significant milestone for the capital.
British Labour Party MP Tom Watson, a vocal and enduring Rupert Murdoch critic, has called on the News Corp boss to be questioned by police following yesterday’s revelations about a secret recording of comments he made to Sun staffers last March. Speaking to Channel 4 News, Watson said he wants to know “what are they sitting on that they’ve not given the police” and “I hope that they’re going to be interviewing Rupert Murdoch about what he did know about criminality in his organization.” Enders’ senior analyst Douglas McCabe tells me Murdoch being questioned by police or ordered before Parliament again is “just about plausible” but adds, “I don’t feel that this in isolation would be comprehensive as a trigger to make that happen.” McCabe sees Murdoch’s comments to Sun staff as being blown out of proportion. “Fundamentally, should we be surprised that privately the chair of a large media organization is trying to rally the troops and be sympatheic with different situations he acknowledges in public?” He allows, “I think one can say he shouldn’t be saying whatever he is about the UK police operation,” but “I can’t read any impact on News Corp.” News Corp yesterday said, “The unprecedented co-operation granted by News Corp was agreed unanimously by senior management and the board, and the [Management and Standards Committee] continues …
Forget the speculation that Peter Chernin has lost interest in teaming with AT&T to bid for Hulu ahead of the Friday deadline for final offers. He and the telco will be there, along with a group that’s expected to include DirecTV, Guggenheim Digital, investment firm KKR, Silver Lake Partners with WME, and Time Warner Cable — with Yahoo a question mark. Some people began to wonder about Chernin’s intentions Monday after Fox unveiled a deal to license shows to Netfllix. The arrangement meant that Hulu lost its access to full seasons of the Chernin Entertainment-produced sitcom New Girl. (It will only be able to offer a few episodes at a time.) Yet we’re told that he’s still eager to help AT&T. Company watchers say that the telco’s intrigued by the possibility of turning Hulu into the centerpiece of a new wireless video business that would ask studios to help pay for the costs to transmit video to mobile devices. It was a coup for the company to align with Chernin who’s popular in Hollywood and helped to develop Hulu back when he was No. 2 at News Corp.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Rupert Murdoch Eyeing Financial Times?; Ruling On Hacking Appeal; ‘Either Way’ Helmer’s Next Pic
Report: Rupert Murdoch, Abu Dhabi Media Group Eyeing Financial Times
A report out of Malaysia circulated this morning which claimed Rupert Murdoch and the state-owned Abu Dhabi Media Group are in talks to acquire The Financial Times Group for $1.2B. News Corp. said, “This is completely untrue” and FT owner, Pearson, also denied the report saying, “The Financial Times is not for sale, and Pearson is not in any talks to sell it.” The talks, reported by Malaysian political and business magazine The Edge Review, cited financial executives familiar with the negotiations which had purportedly been going on for the past month. The Financial Times Group includes the flagship Financial Times newspaper as well as The Economist magazine. Per AFP, the report said the Abu Dhabi group is eyeing a 75% stake with Murdoch’s new News Corp. taking 25%. News Corp. officially split into two entities today. In an interview published in the FT website on Thursday evening, chief executive of the publishing business, Robert Thomson, said News Corp. could use its $2.6B of net cash for acquisitions, but there was no mention of the FT, and he also played down expectations of a bid for the Los Angeles Times. Thomson is a former U.S. managing editor of the FT.
Judges Deny Appeals To Drop Charges Against Hacking-Scandal Figures
In other News Corp.-related news, former News International chief Rebekah Brooks, and former News Of The World editor Andy Coulson have both been denied appeals to have criminal charges against them dropped. Neither appeared in a London court Friday, but three judges there dismissed the appeal that had been brought by Brooks, Coulson and three others, The Guardian said. Brooks and Coulson’s trials begin in September, when they will face charges related to phone hacking. The appeals were fashioned on the grounds that the law does not extend to voicemails that already had been listened to.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Broadchurch’ Set For US; Locarno To Fete Douglas Trumbull; Sky Sports Offers Free Football; More
ITV’s UK Hit ‘Broadchurch’ Coming To BBC America In August
ITV’s hit contemporary drama Broadchurch is set to debut on BBC America at 10 PM August 7. The series, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, was created and written by Chris Chibnall. It’s set in a quiet seaside town following the shocking murder of a young boy and focuses on the impact the crime has on the community when everyone becomes a suspect. The most tweeted-about UK drama ever, the show had Britain rapt over its eight-episode run and set off a “Who shot J.R.?”-type frenzy as it progressed. Broadchurch is a Kudos and Imaginary Friends co-production that’s distributed by Shine International. ITV ordered a second season back in April.
Douglas Trumbull Receive Locarno Film Festival Honor
Director and special effects veteran Douglas Trumbull will receive the Locarno Film Festival’s first Vision Award — Electronic Studio. The new prize is designed to highlight and pay tribute to a professional whose creative work behind the scenes, as well as in their own right, has contributed to opening up new perspectives in film. The 66th edition of Locarno will screen films Trumbull worked on including Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life as well as his own Silent Running. Trumbull will also offer two masterclasses. The Locarno fest runs August 7-17.
Just ahead of News Corp.‘s official split into two entities, its UK press arm, News International, is rebranding. The company that’s parent to The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, will henceforth be known as News UK. The new name and logo are “designed to convey a more coherent and logical identity for the new parent company across the globe,” News UK said. News International spiralled into controversy when the phone hacking scandal broke open in July 2011; the company has since shuttered tabloid News Of The World. Mike Darcey, CEO of News UK, said the company was beginning “a bright new chapter.” Referring to the scandals, Darcey said the rebrand “follows the fundamental changes of governance and personnel that have taken place to address the problems of the recent past. News International apologized to its victims and set up a compensation scheme; closed the News Of The World and co-operated with all the relevant authorities. New policies and procedures are in place across the company, its main titles are all under new leadership and the executive team has been transformed.”
EXCLUSIVE: FremantleMedia North America COO Donna Redier Linsk has opted not to renew her contract. Redier Linsk will exit the company in July and segue into a new role as a consultant at FMNA’s Fox series American Idol until December. Chief Operating Officer was a new position established by FMNA in 2009 when Redier Linsk was brought in by then-CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz from Fox Broadcasting, where she had been SVP Business Affairs and Alternative Production for five years. At FMNA, Redier Linsk oversaw production, finance, business and legal affairs for all of the company’s entertainment programming and was actively involved in day-to-day production of American Idol, The X Factor and America’s Got Talent. FMNA is expected to name a replacement. “I want to thank Donna for the contribution she made to our business over the last four years,” said Frot-Coutaz, now CEO of parent company FremantleMedia. “She brought us her relentless rigor, business acumen, passion for production and incredible dedication. I will miss her dearly.” Added FMNA CEO Thom Beers, “Donna is an amazing talent.”