Jay Leno, being inducted into the TV Academy’s Hall of Fame Tuesday night, said he’s glad he left NBC’s Tonight Show when he did because he was the oldest person on the show. Everyone else was 20 to 40 years younger than him and, while you may think you’re holding your own with them, “they’re really just laughing at you,” he explained. “You can’t be hip past a certain age. You have old guy gestures.” And when you make references to The Dick Van Dyke Show they think it’ s “a lesbian joke or something” — and they don’t understand what you’re talking about when you say the time is “Half past 2.”
Leno told the Beverly Wilshire hotel gathering his favorite book is Charles Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol” — a searing indictment of 19th century industrial capitalism – and his favorite character in that classic work of literature, Mr. Fezziwig, who treated a young Ebenezer Scrooge like a son. Leno mentioned this by way of saying how proud he was that his Tonight Show was a place where people came to work hard during the day and, at 6, they went home to be with their family. Read More »
In this week’s audio podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom look at the possibility that frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch will combine and snap up the UK’s Channel 5, even as a booming ITV opts out; and Amazon’s new combination platter of Prime services that are challenging Netflix more aggressively in Britain, including through a partnership with the BBC to revive the cancelled period drama Ripper Street. They also preview those other big awards this weekend, France’s Cesars, and take their weekly look at the international box office, as both Frozen and The Hobbit 2: The Desolation Of Smaug continue to rack up huge cumulative grosses.
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 27 (.MP3 version)
Global Showbiz Watch podcast 27 (.M4A version)
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Are longtime frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch about to partner on a UK venture? That’s the word on the street according to The Financial Times which reports that the Malone-backed Discovery Communications and BSkyB, majority owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, are in talks on a joint bid for Britain’s Channel 5. The free-to-air broadcaster, which media entrepreneur Richard Desmond acquired for £103.5M in 2010, is thought to be seeking a buyer with about £700M to spend. The FTA channel has raised the antennae of several media companies with parties rumored to have shown interest including ITV, Turner Broadcasting, BT, NBCUniversal and Saban Capital. The latter is eyeing the possibility of merging Channel 5 with the UK’s Channel 4, creating the market’s third-largest broadcaster by audience. However, such a deal would require regulatory approval and the privitization of Channel 4. The discussions between Discovery and BSkyB have focused on the latter taking over Channel 5’s advertising sales operation, sources told the FT. Channel 5 is notably the home of Big Brother, although its contract for the show expires in 2015. The net also airs U.S. dramas like Under The Dome, CSI and Person Of Interest, but it’s previously dropped such titles as Once Upon A Time and Justified. Its weekly ratings hover around 4%.
Malone and Discovery, … Read More »
Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International (now News UK), took the stand for the first time today in London’s long-running phone-hacking trial. This was Brooks’ first time in the witness box since the criminal trial stemming from the phone-hacking scandal at the now-shuttered News Of The World began in October. After nearly four months, prosecutors rested their case this week and the defense is just beginning. According to local media reports, the presiding judge, John Saunders, instructed jurors that Brooks is to be found not guilty on one of the five counts against her. She was acquitted on the single charge of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office related to payments The Sun allegedly made for a picture of Prince William wearing a bikini at a costume party. “There is no case to answer for Mrs Brooks” on the charge, the judge said. The Guardian reports he told the jury his decision was “a matter of law.” He did not provide further detail, but The Associated Press reports Saunders said there was “considerable uncertainty” about the photo’s provenance. The photo was taken when William, now the Duke of Cambridge, was at Sandhurst Military Academy and Brooks was editor of The Sun.
Related: Trial Of Former Murdoch Newspaper Lieutenants Starts In London
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There are a lot of moving parts in Fox‘s fiscal Q2 report out this morning with the inclusion of Sky Deutschland revenue and a gain on the sale of an ownership stake in Phoenix Satellite Television. But for the most part it looks pretty much as expected, and blah, as the company lowered its cash flow guidance for the current fiscal year. Net income for the last three months of 2013 was cut in half to $1.2B on revenues of $8.2B, +14.9%. That revenue number beat the $7.9B that analysts expected. Adjusted earnings, at 33 cents a share, matched the Street’s consensus forecast. Fox pulls out the old “difficult comparisons” explanation for the profit decline in Filmed Entertainment, where cash flow fell 11% to $218M on revenues of $2.5B, +6.6%. Fox says that it had higher release costs this year for The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and Walking With Dinosaurs, and couldn’t match 2012′s Taken 2 and home videos for Ice Age: Continental Drift. The TV business softened the blow with syndication sales for Modern Family, higher revenues for Homeland, and streaming revenues for The Killing. The Cable Network Programming unit fared a little better with cash flow +2.4% to $1B on revenues of nearly $3B, +14.1%. Payments from pay TV distributors increased 15% while domestic ad sales were +7%, helped by double digit growth at FX — but hurt by Fox News … Read More »
R.I.P. Tom Sherak
Hollywood is honoring the life and legacy of former Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak, who died today at 68. Here is a sampling of the reactions:
Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Academy President:
“In the more than 30 years I’ve known Tom, his passionate support of and excitement about the motion picture business, the Academy, his family and friends never wavered. He was truly larger than life, and he will be missed.”
Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO:
“He was my mentor and my friend. I learned from him, I laughed with him, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time we shared together. He had a huge influence on the direction of our Academy and on me personally. I will miss laughing with him most of all.”
Related: Tom Sherak: “It’s About Love”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti:
“I am devastated to learn of the passing of my close friend and advisor Tom Sherak. Tom was a true Hollywood original, moving up the ladder to promote blockbusters, running the Oscars and having a bulging rolodex filled with not just A-list contacts, but so many close friends who were smitten by his humor, drive, and spirit. In just a few short months, Tom laid a policy foundation that my Administration will stand on for the next four years. Tom’s work will continue through my office and the many charities to which he devoted … Read More »
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz may be the main beneficiary of the move — which just involves Fox, not News Corp, the entity that includes most of Rupert Murdoch’s publishing and Australian holdings since the operations separated last summer. Fox, the movie and TV company, currently has four types of stock with Class A and super-voting Class B shares (controlled by the Murdoch family) in Australia and the U.S. But the Saudi prince is also a major owner of the Class B shares. Fox curtailed the voting rights of the non-U.S. stock holders to comply with FCC rules that prohibit a company from owning TV stations here if more than 25% of its shares are controlled by foreigners. The change in stock listings will “likely” reduce foreign ownership of the Class B shares, Fox says. Once below the 25% threshold, it “would enable the Company to …restore full voting rights to the Company’s non-U.S. stockholders.” Murdoch says that the change is part of “our ongoing agenda to simplify the operating and capital structure of our Company.” Fox “has only limited operations in Australia, and we believe that consolidating the trading of our stock in the world’s largest equity market would provide improved liquidity to the Company’s stockholders and greater efficiencies for the Company.” Fox needs Class B shareholders to approve the change. That should come at a special meeting in March or April, with the delisting in Australia to … Read More »
China’s State Council has temporarily repealed a ban on selling foreign video game consoles, Reuters reports this morning. The move had been expected and will open up a path for the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to sell their wares after a 14-year block. Now, “foreign-invested enterprises” will be allowed to make game consoles within Shanghai’s free trade zone and sell them in China after inspection by cultural departments. Consoles were initially banned in 2000 over concern that gaming would harm young people. Reuters says the growing market is worth a potential $14B.
Fox Turkey has appointed Shebnem Askin as EVP of programming. She was previously SVP of international acquisitions and sales at Fox International Productions and will take up her new role immediately. Her mandate will cover building on Fox Turkey’s entertainment offering and commissioning, acquiring and scheduling film, drama, factual, kids and event entertainment programming in addition to working with Fox Turkey’s channel partners in the increasingly hot TV territory. At FIP, Askin was a key player on co-productions and acquisitions including Mexico’s Academy Award entry Miss.BALA; Gaumont’s upcoming Mea Culpa directed by Fred Cavaye; and Sundance prize winner Metro Manila.
While the phone-hacking trials involving a number of its former staff continue in Britain, News Corp Monday signaled its “long term … Read More »
NBC News‘ Brit chief Deborah Turness has named the current director of online for ITV in the UK and former Sky News exec, Julian March to be her news operation’s senior VP of editorial and innovation. March will move to New York in early ’14. Reporting to Turness, March will be a key editorial leader at NBC News, overseeing all digital businesses, including NBCNews.com, as well as the news division’s editorial units. NBC News said this will allow for further integration of broadcast TV news and digital operations.
At ITV, March is credited with coming up with the strategy and delivery of the network’s entire online business. Prior to ITV, he spent 11 years at Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News, where he launched the Sky News app, and produced over 3,000 hours of live television, including coverage of major breaking news stories such as the 7/7 London bombings and the Indian Ocean tsunami. Read More »
No gain without pain, I guess — and Fox‘s investments in services including FXX and Fox Sports 1 pinched in the quarter that ended September 30. The company just reported net income of $1.26B, -43.8% vs the same period last year, on revenues of $7.06B, +17.6%. The revenue number was well ahead of the $6.8B that analysts anticipated. But the bottom line, at 33 cents a share, was two cents lower than the consensus forecast. The disparity between revenue and profit is clearest at the Cable Network Programming unit, where sales were +12.3% to $2.8B while cash flow fell 2.4% to $991M. Domestic affiliate fees were +10% while ad sales here were +6%, despite a drop at Fox News, which was helped last year by the presidential campaign. Still, expenses rose 22%, the company says, with two-thirds of the increase going toward the new channels. Filmed Entertainment also had a mixed quarter, with revenues +9.5% to $2.1B while cash flow fell 24.3% to $328M. As studios typically say in these situations, Fox attributes the profit fall to “difficult comparisons” with last year, which included Ice Age: Continental Drift. The revenue increase was helped by syndication of Modern Family and Netflix payments for the first two seasons of New Girl. The broadcast TV unit held its own as retransmission consent fees doubled — outweighing weak ad sales from lower ratings including at X Factor, and the loss of … Read More »
Hacking Trial Lawyer: Brooks And Coulson Had 6-Year Affair
The phone-hacking trial taking place in London was the source of new revelations Thursday as prosecuting attorney Andrew Edis told jurors that defendants Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson carried on a six-year “secret” affair from 1998-2004. Brooks is the former head of News International (now News UK), the British press arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and Coulson was editor of the now-closed News Of The World before leaving to join Prime Minister David Cameron’s team as his communications director. As part of his opening remarks, Edis stressed that he was not bringing up the relationship between Brooks and Coulson, which the prosecution said was evident from a letter to Coulson that was found on one of Brooks’ computers, to intrude on their privacy or pass judgment. “The point that I’m going to make in relation to that letter is that over the relevant period, what Mr Coulson knew, Mrs Brooks knew too. And what Mrs Brooks knew, Mr Coulson knew too — that’s the point.” He told the court the affair spanned the period covered by the phone-hacking conspiracy charges the pair is facing, according to The Times. “Mrs Brooks and Mr Coulson are charged with conspiracy,” Edis said, “and, when people are charged with conspiracy, the first question a jury has to answer is how well did they know each other? How much did they trust each other?” At the time of the letter in 2004, Brooks was editor of The Sun and Coulson was at NOTW. Read More »
On October 14, Rupert Murdoch tweeted: “Big media trials in London in 2 weeks. Remember, everyone innocent until proven guilty, entitled to fair trial in most countries.” Murdoch was referring to the criminal trial related to phone hacking at his now defunct News Of The World tabloid. This morning, eight defendants including former Murdoch employees Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson made it to court amid a media frenzy for what some are calling the “Trial of the Century.” It may feel like a century once the proceedings wrap sometime around Easter 2014 and after an expected 100 witnesses have been called. Jury selection began today with the prosecution starting later in the week.
While Murdoch, Brooks and Coulson are no longer linked professionally, the outcome of the trial has the potential to impact the mogul’s business going forward. Even the News Corp-owned Wall Street Journal wrote that the courtroom drama “could further embarrass both the media giant and the British government.” One of the lines of questioning during the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics, the probe hatched by Prime Minister David Cameron in the wake of the News Of The World scandal, focused on the relationships between politicians and newspaper proprietors and editors. With Brooks and Coulson now standing trial, this could put News Corp’s relationship with the UK government back into the spotlight. Brooks was head of News Corp‘s UK press arm, News International (now News UK), until the phone-hacking scandal first exploded at the News Of The World in July 2011. She has denied the five charges against her including conspiracy to hack phones, conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office by paying officials for stories, and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Coulson was formerly editor of News Of The World. He went on to become Cameron’s spin doctor, a post he vacated in 2011. He is facing three charges related to phone hacking and conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office. They are joined by six other defendants who have all pleaded not guilty, including Brooks’ husband Charlie, a longtime Cameron friend. Read More »
UPDATE, 2:18 PM: The official results of today’s shareholder votes are in and while Fox management won resounding victories, the tallies show a few interesting nuances. Nearly 29% of those voting yes or no endorsed a shareholder resolution to make the chairman independent. Just 15.3% opposed the company’s management compensation plan in the government-mandated say-on-pay advisory vote. A shareholder proposal in the proxy to get rid of the dual stock system wasn’t considered because there was no one at the meeting to present it. As for the directors, the smallest victory margins went to Lachlan Murdoch (75.3%) and James Murdoch (80.5%) while the most popular candidate was BHP Billiton Chairman Jacques Nasser (99.2%). Rupert Murdoch was elected with 90.9%, behind COO Chase Carey’s 92.4%.
PREVIOUS, 10:49 AM: So much for the effort by some activist investors and advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services to protest 21st Century Fox’s corporate governance practices. In a shareholder meeting that lasted less than 34 minutes, CEO Rupert Murdoch said that all of the company’s board candidates had been re-elected. Company critics also wanted changes that would require the chairman to be independent (Murdoch now is both CEO and chairman), and to eliminate the dual classes of stock that enable the Murdoch family to control 39.4% of the votes even though it owns just 14% of the all shares. The exact vote on those resolutions will be disclosed later although the outcome isn’t in … Read More »
BREAKING: 20th Century Fox Film has restructured its marketing operations into a worldwide unit, promoting Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus to co-Presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution. Under the new structure, both the domestic and international marketing and distribution teams will report to Jegeus and Hanneman. They begin their new roles immediately. This comes after Fox let Oren Aviv go as marketing chief. According to the studio, the move was made to embrace the idea of film as a global game and create cohesion between domestic and offshore campaigns.
There is no mention here of whether Fox is done making moves, and rumors continue to race that the studio could be the next landing place for Jeff Robinov, who left Warner Bros recently. Some say he won’t land until January, and I’ve heard there is question of whether he would report to Jim Gianopulos, the well-regarded Fox Film chairman/CEO who has been running the studio solo since the exit of Tom Rothman and likely doesn’t want another partnrr. Robinov went out on a good note with Man Of Steel, and looks better than ever given the success of his passion project Gravity from Alfonso Cuaron, which has turned out to be the sleeper hit of the fall. But his exit was considered contentious, and I’ve heard it has colored opinions at Fox. I’ve heard Rupert Murdoch is determined to get him—even if it is as a producer with money behind him–but all of this continues to be loose talk, until it isn’t.
Related: Exclusive: Oren Aviv Exited At 20th Century Fox
As for the marketing restructure, Gianopulos said: “Our industry is more global than ever before. Paul and Tomas have proven success in the global arena, having run the industry’s most successful international operations, and coupled with our excellent domestic team, they will reshape our worldwide marketing and distribution strategies for the future.” Both will report to Gianopulos.
Fox also confirmed the exit of Aviv as Chief Marketing Officer for the domestic division. The studio indicated Aviv will announce his next move shortly. Read More »
The BBC has commissioned more than 2,500 hours of programming that will span four years to mark the centenary of World War I. As part of the ambitious undertaking Rupert Murdoch will be interviewed about his father’s role as the whistle-blower who told the world the truth about the botched Gallipoli campaign in Turkey. The season kicks off in early 2014 and will run through 2018 on BBC TV, Radio and Online and across international, national and local services. At MipTV in April, BBC controller Ben Stephenson foreshadowed some of the plans when he announced five-part half-hour series The Great War from Life On Mars’ Tony Jordan. The series is now titled The Passing-Bells and will be stripped over one week. Other highlights include drama The Ark from Sarah Phelps (Great Expectations) and starring Oona Chaplin, Hermione Norris and Kerry Fox as a dedicated team of medics; factual drama 37 Days about the lead up to war with Ian McDiarmid and Tim Pigott-Smith; four-part documentary Britain’s Great War; and My Great War, a film based on the unseen archive of hundreds of hours of interviews with veterans that the BBC shot in 1964. Read More »
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. Read More »
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.
This was the quarter when Facebook left behind memories of its troubled IPO last year: As it reassured investors that it has a strategy to sell ads on mobile platforms, its shares closed Q3 at $50.23 — a 101.9% gain since the end of June. That’s the biggest jump on the list of media company stocks we track. The sector did well as the economy, and advertising, improved: The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index rose 8.3% beating the Dow Jones Industrial Average (+1.5%) and Standard & Poor’s 500 (+4.7%). Radio company Cumulus Media came in second in our group, rising 56%, followed by Netflix (+46.5%), Best Buy (+37.2%), Pandora (+36.6%), and Yahoo (+32%). Among Big Media companies, Viacom (+22.9%) saw the biggest improvement followed by Time Warner (13.8%), CBS (+12.9%), Comcast (+8.1%), Disney (+2.1%) and Sony (+1.7%). We left Fox and News Corp off the list for this quarter; their stocks were essentially brand new after Rupert Murdoch’s company split in two at the end of June. Companies that probably were glad to see the quarter end include 3D technology company RealD (-49.6%), Barnes & Noble (-19%), Rovi (-16.1%), and Outerwall — the parent of DVD rental kiosk owner Redbox — which was -14.7%.