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Jerry Levin Q&A: Ex-Time Warner Chief Decries Fox Mega-Merger And Lack Of Creative Guts And Corporate Vision

By | Friday August 1, 2014 @ 9:21am PDT
Mike Fleming

Jerry Levin Q&A: Ex-Time Warner Chief Decries Fox Mega-Merger And Lack Of Creative Guts And Corporate VisionEXCLUSIVE: As we watch Rupert Murdoch attempt a colossal Time Warner takeover, who better to evaluate its merit than Jerry Levin. He steered Time Warner as chairman/CEO for many years, adding Ted Turner and AOL along the way. A retired philanthropist and chairman of StartUp Health, Levin is still paying attention and is therefore better suited than most to explain the complexities of Murdoch’s ambitious plan and its far-reaching impact. He was gracious with his time and wasn’t interested in sugarcoating, so buckle up.

mrlevinDEADLINE: Rupert Murdoch sees a match in Fox and Time Warner. All I see is a collision of duplicative assets, pink slips, two major studios making fewer movies, and nothing here that empowers creativity. Obviously I’m naive. What value do you see in a union between Fox and Time Warner?
JERRY LEVIN: None at all. It provides great theater; everybody gets excited when there are large transactions in the offing with iconic brands. But the fact is, it makes no sense, culturally or creatively. It’s not good for movies, and television, and storytelling. All it is is a financial construct that gets Wall Street going with valuations. It is so disruptive, particularly when you’re talking about two studios with vastly different cultures of their own. When you put these things together, usually there’s a push from Wall Street to cut back and make sure there are the right synergies, which there usually aren’t. It just means a lack of focus and trying to harmonize the cultures, particularly in this case, it doesn’t make any sense to me at all. Read More »

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Lily James, Paul Dano Circling BBC, Weinstein Co ‘War And Peace’ Miniseries

Lily James, Paul Dano Circling BBC, Weinstein Co ‘War And Peace’ MiniseriesEXCLUSIVE: The six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic War And Peace is beginning to cast up. I hear that Downton Abbey’s Lily James and PrisonersPaul Dano have offers for lead roles and are seriously circling. The mini hails from BBC Worldwide, The Weinstein Co and Ripper Street‘s Look Out Point. Described as one of the most ambitious event series ever made for the BBC, it will be produced by BBC Cymru Wales and scripted by Andrew Davies. James would play Natasha Rostova, one of the novel’s central War and Peacecharacters, who ultimately falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov, the awkward illegitimate son who rises in society but leads a tumultuous life as he seeks to overcome his emotions. Dano would play Pierre. In King Vidor’s 1956 feature adaptation, the roles were played by Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda.

The notoriously expansive novel begins in 1805 Russia and revolves around five aristocratic families set against the backdrop of the reign of Alexander I, the lingering effects of his grandmother Catherine The Great’s rule and the events surrounding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Executive producers on the mini are BBC Cymru Wales drama chief Faith Penhale, BBC Wales’ George Ormond, Davies, Look Out Point’s Simon Vaughn and Harvey Weinstein.

The miniseries is due for air in the UK in 2015 and was a first sign of The Weinstein Co’s ambitions to forge into the European TV arena when it was announced in October. The company subsequently teamed with the BBC and Look Out on upcoming TV movie Stan And Ollie, which is being scripted by Philomena’s Jeff Pope. TWC also acquired U.S. TV and VOD rights for the first three seasons of BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders. Read More »

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Should Fox Shareholders Hope Murdoch Doesn’t Buy Time Warner?

By | Monday July 28, 2014 @ 8:18am PDT

Should Fox Shareholders Hope Murdoch Doesn’t Buy Time Warner?The risks of a deal are becoming more apparent as 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch prepares to sweeten the $80B offer that Time Warner rejected, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson observes in a thought-provoking report this morning. With memories of the AOL Time Warner debacle still fresh in their minds, Time Warner execs won’t accept a non-cash bid “unless it is wildly generous,” the analyst says. He hopes Fox draws the line at $100 a share, up from $85, but notes that Murdoch could go to $105 without losing his company’s investment-grade debt rating. Yet if he prevails at that price, then Fox would have little margin for error. And Nathanson warns that mega-mergers “are more complicated than the simplicity of adding two Excel spreadsheet models together.”

The bottom line is that Fox’s stock “is in purgatory”as long as Murdoch’s interest in Time Warner remains alive. And the legendary dealmaker may not be able to pull it off. “After initially believing that this deal gets done at $100 per share, we have our doubts that it will be done at all,” Nathanson says. Among his concerns:

What’s up with Chase Carey?  The Fox COO is highly regarded on the Street, but his contract expires in mid-2016. Some shareholders “are nervous that this deal — and the value of [Fox's] stock — will fall short of expectations if Chase was to leave.” Read More »

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Venice Film Festival Lineup Announced: ‘Manglehorn’, ‘Good Kill’ In Competition; Bogdanovich, Franco, Levinson, Von Trier Also In Official Selection

Venice Film Festival Lineup Announced: ‘Manglehorn’, ‘Good Kill’ In Competition; Bogdanovich, Franco, Levinson, Von Trier Also In Official SelectionI’m here at Rome’s St Regis Hotel where Biennale president Paolo Baratta and Venice chief Alberto Barbera are announcing the lineup for the 71st edition of the world’s oldest international film festival. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman world premieres in competition as the opener on August 27 and we’ll see 55 movies across the Official Selection through September 6. Yesterday, I wrote a primer for today’s reveal with such films as David Gordon Green‘s Manglehorn and Peter Bogdanovich‘s Squirrels To The Nuts expected to be announced today; and they have been.

Manglehorn (1)Twenty films will compete in the main competition, 19 of which are world premieres with one international premiere. There are an abundance of titles from Italy, France, the U.S. and the UK. Among the U.S. titles in competition are Manglehorn with Al Pacino, Holly Hunter, Harmony Korine and Chris Messina, and Andrew Niccol’s Good Kill with Ethan Hawke, Bruce Greenwood, January Jones and Zoe Kravitz. Both of those will move on to Toronto next. Gonzalez Inarritu’s opener Birdman is in competition with a starry cast that includes Michael Keaton, Zach Galifianakis, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Amy Ryan, Emma Stone and Naomi Watts. The closing-night movie, as previously announced, is Ann Hui’s The Golden Era. Among the other expected players that are turning up in competition are Fatih Akin with The Cut starring Tahar Rahim (Carlos); Xavier Beauvois’ La Rançon De La Gloire; Abel Ferrara’s Pasolini with Willem Dafoe; Benoït Jacquot’s 3 Hearts and David Olehoffen’s Loin Des Hommes with Viggo Mortensen. Also particularly of note is The Act Of Killing director Joshua Oppenheimer with documentary The Look Of Silence. Ramin Bahrani, Roy Andersson and Andrei Konchalovsky are also in the mix (see full list below). Read More »

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Venice: First Fall Fest Comes Into Sharper Focus As Lineup Reveal Looms

By | Wednesday July 23, 2014 @ 4:50am PDT

Venice: First Fall Fest Comes Into Sharper Focus As Lineup Reveal LoomsWith The New York Film Festival setting David Fincher’s Gone Girl as its opener, and Toronto yesterday announcing a bevy of world premieres, the signs are getting somewhat clearer as to what to expect from Venice when it unveils its lineup in Rome tomorrow. We do know that Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Birdman is opening the festival in competition. That last fact is a pointer to how Venice wants to be perceived on the international stage. It’s the world’s oldest festival, but has sometimes been overshadowed by the other fall movie meccas Toronto and Telluride. Last year, Venice chief Alberto Barbera was miffed when films like Under The Skin got a sneak at Telluride before what was meant to be the World Premiere in Venice. Telluride, as my colleague Pete Hammond points out, does not announce its films ahead of time and does not label its films as premieres. Toronto laid down the law this year that any big movies that choose to first play at Telluride won’t be able to play in Canada until after opening weekend, and Barbera said last year that Venice competition films had to be World Premieres. Venice runs August 27-September 6, Telluride is August 29-September 1 and Toronto goes September 4-14.

birdman1Birdman’s World Premiere in competition is what I like to call a nice dovetail to last year’s opener, Gravity, which was directed … Read More »

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Toronto Film Fest Will Close With World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get Perches

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 8:40am PDT

Toronto Film Fest Will Close With World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get PerchesUPDATED, 8:40 AM: The 39th Toronto Film Festival, running September 4-14, will close with the world premiere of Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet, Rickman, Matthias Schoenaerts and Stanley Tucci. The opening-night film was not announced at this morning’s press conference.

Alan Rickman Kate WinsletA Little Chaos is the perfect closing-night film – it transports audiences to another time, another place, full of beauty, complexity, rivalry, politics and romance,” said Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey. “Alan Rickman’s film will wind audiences up just as our festival is winding down.”

In this sumptuous historical drama Sabine De Barra (Winslet)  —  a landscaper with a taste for the unconventional — is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles. As she battles with the weather, the perilous rivalries at the court of Louis XIV and her own private demons, she finds herself drawn inescapably closer to the formality and enigma of the architect who hired her.

Of the 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations announced, the initial lineup includes 37 world premieres from directors including Noah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, David Dobkin, Philippe Falardeau, Mia Hansen-Løve, Ning Hao, François Ozon, Christian Petzold, Lone Scherfig and Chris Rock. Here’s the list: Read More »

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NBCU Says Its Strong Upfront Ad Sales Cut Pricing Gap With Competition

NBCU Says Its Strong Upfront Ad Sales Cut Pricing Gap With CompetitionNBC and cable networks led by USA “were trading at a 20% discount to our competition” in the cost-per-viewer of ad sales before the recent upfront market, NBCU chief Steve Burke told analysts this morning. “We’re now at about a 10% discount.” Comcast‘s entertainment arm says it bucked a trend in the upfront — seen as generally down 5% vs last year — as it benefits from the growing popularity of its shows, and a decision to sell broadcast and cable ad inventory together. “If the industry was down 5% and we were up 10%, that’s a 15% difference vs what we would have done” if NBCU had sold broadcast and cable separately. “It’s a swing of $750M” that will go “a long way toward closing monetization gap.”
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Venice Days Sidebar Includes Shawn Christensen, Laurent Cantet, Kim Ki-Duk

Venice Days Sidebar Includes Shawn Christensen, Laurent Cantet, Kim Ki-DukAhead of Thursday’s announcement of the Venice Film Festival competition lineup, the parallel Venice Days section has presented its roster. As previously noted, Kim Ki-duk’s revenge drama One On One will open the section out of competition. The Korean helmer’s Pieta won the Golden Lion in 2012. Closing the section is Alex De La Iglesia’s documentary about Argentine football great Lionel Messi. Titled Messi, the film uses reconstructions, archival material and interviews to trace the player’s rise to stardom. Among the competition titles is the world premiere of Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet’s Return To Ithaca. Set in Havana, the film sees five friends reflect on their past and future. The section also hosts the international premiere of Shawn Christensen’s SXSW drama Before I Disappear with Emmy Rossum, Fatima Ptacek, Paul Wesley, Ron Perlman and Richard Schiff. It’s based on Christensen’s 2013 Oscar-winning short film Curfew. Click over for the full Venice Days lineup: Read More »

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Michael Caine Joins Vin Diesel’s ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 9:14am PDT

Michael Caine Joins Vin Diesel’s ‘The Last Witch Hunter’Lionsgate confirmed this morning what Vin Diesel has been saying over the weekend while doing press for Guardians Of The Galaxy: that Michael Caine has come aboard The Last Witch Hunter, the supernatural action film starring Diesel and Rose Leslie and directed by Breck Eisner. Summit is releasing the pic, about an immortal witch hunter (Diesel) who partners with his natural enemy, a female witch, to stop the covens of NY from unleashing a plague on humanity. Caine recently wrapped Paolo Sorrentino’s The Youth opposite Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz and his upcoming pics include Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Matthew Vaughn’s The Secret Service. He is repped by ICM Partners, Jackoway Tyerman and 42 in the UK. Read More »

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Bart & Fleming: Fox-Time Warner Merger Mania Means Banker Fees And Layoffs, Not Quality

By and | Sunday July 20, 2014 @ 9:25am PDT

Bart & Fleming: Fox-Time Warner Merger Mania Means Banker Fees And Layoffs, Not QualityFlemingBartColumn_badge__140510005503Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this weekly Sunday column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.

Bart: Like  7th grade boys staring in the mirror, corporate CEOs these days keep asking themselves, “Am I big enough?” What scares them is the prospect of becoming a takeover target, and there’s been a rush of takeover talk lately —Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Time Warner being the most dramatic. Size means safety in the corporate universe and Time Warner became vulnerable by ridding itself of Time Inc., AOL and Time Warner Cable — the latter becoming a target for Comcast. With giants like Google, Apple and Amazon looming, CEOs are scared they can’t measure up, but the folks who should really be frightened are the creatives and their audiences. Bigness means giant fees for bankers and profits for shareholders, but the impact of the monoliths is easy to read — a universe of corporate plodding, tentpoles and sequels.

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Will Anyone Besides Rupert Murdoch Take A Run At Time Warner?

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 3:49pm PDT

Will Anyone Besides Rupert Murdoch Take A Run At Time Warner?It’s a foregone conclusion now that something big will happen with Time Warner. Its stock wouldn’t be up 20% since yesterday morning — when Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch‘s $80B June offer came to light – if investors thought that Time Warner’s rejection of it was the last word on the matter. Indeed, the stock closed today at $86.12, which means a lot of people are betting that Fox or someone else will top the $85 a share stock-and-cash proposal that Time Warner shunned.

But here’s the problem: Some of Wall Street’s top analysts don’t know who has the desire and wherewithal to wage a bidding war with Fox. If Time Warner seriously wants to escape Murdoch’s embrace, it might have to make a deal of its own — perhaps to buy CBS. Even if it did, “Time Warner would still have to make the argument that more value would be created by merging with CBS than by accepting Fox’s tender offer,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says.

What about other usual suspects who might covet Time Warner? Comcast and AT&T are out of the running as they pursue their acquisition deals with, respectively, Time Warner Cable and DirecTV. Here are others that might conceivably kick the tires:

Disney: Hard to find anyone who thinks the company will jump in. Disney doesn’t need a big deal, especially with a “clear strategy that should play out over the last two years of Bob Iger’s contract,” MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson says. The CEO likes properties that appeal to targeted audiences that he can coax to attend Disney … Read More »

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UPDATE: Time Warner Shares Soar On Reports Of $80B Offer By Rupert Murdoch

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 6:46am PDT

UPDATE: Time Warner Shares Soar On Reports Of $80B Offer By Rupert MurdochUPDATE. 6:46 AM: Time Warner confirms that it rejected 21st Century Fox‘s acquisition offer saying its board concluded that remaining independent “will create significantly more value for the Company and its stockholders and is superior to any proposal that Twenty-First Century Fox is in a position to offer.” Fox said it would pay $32.42 in cash plus 1.531 of its own non-voting shares for each Time Warner share. Directors don’t like the plan, in part because it involves “significant risk and uncertainty as to the valuation of Twenty-First Century Fox’s non-voting stock and Twenty-First Century Fox’s ability to govern and manage a combination of the size and scale of Twenty-First Century Fox and Time Warner.” The board also notes that there would be “considerable strategic, operational, and regulatory risks” to a deal.

21stcenturyfox1__131014203730-275x122PREVIOUS, 4:39 AM: Time Warner’s up nearly 20% in pre-market trading after The New York Times and CNBC reported that the media giant recently rejected an $80B takeover proposal by Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox. The bid could “put Time Warner in play and might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry,” the Times says. Fox COO Chase Carey met with Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes in early June offering $85 a share — 40% of it in cash — a 25% premium at the time. The proposal said that the combined companies could save at least $1B by TimeWarnerlogoblueeliminating duplication. Fox, which owns Fox News, offered to sell CNN to avoid antitrust problems, and indicated that it would maintain Time Warner’s studio and cable network operations, as well as most of its best execs, according to the reports. The Time Warner board seriously considered the proposal but rejected it, in part because the offer included nonvoting shares. Nonetheless, “Rupert Murdoch is ‘determined’ to buy Time Warner,” CNBC reports, citing unnamed sources. Murdoch is said to have enlisted Goldman Sachs and Centerview Partners to advise him while Time Warner has Citigroup.

Fox says that it “can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies. The Time Warner Board of Directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.” Read More »

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UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – Recap

UPDATE: Herb Allen’s Sun Valley Retreat – RecapUPDATED, Monday, 4:56 PM: Saturday’s panel with Secretary of State John Kerry and interviewer Charlie Rose went off without a hitch after some technical problems the previous day, but listening about the conflicts in the Middle East was not as interesting to moguls (‘what else is new, it’s a mess over there’) as the panel that featured billionaire investor Warren Buffet and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, according to some in attendance. Bezos, whose company Amazon has become a powerhouse in publishing and is creating its own content now, told the group gathered that the Amazon business model in publishing and creating content is here to stay. While the panels are always greatly attended, some of those who sat through the first few said they were a bit dry and boring, but “Buffet is always interesting to listen to,” said one attendee. Jeffrey_Katzenberg_118299588Said another, “All the networking is really done in the first day … unless you’re Jeffrey Katzenberg lining up meetings every hour.” Added another, “He sits there and does one meeting after another … he must have had like 20 meetings.” Yes, DreamWorks Animation’s Katzenberg was doing his ‘speed-dating’ meetings near the duck pond as usual which had some entertainment moguls laughing and others rolling their eyes (‘He has like what? One movie in the marketplace?’ Does he know how silly it looks?).

On Saturday, too, were presentations from the younger entreprenuers of Lookout, Xapo and Lending Club, which another attendee said he thought was fantastic (‘The guy from Lookout looked like he was 16 years old’). Also interesting to one attendee was the education panel with Eva Sarah Moskowitz, CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools and Kaya Henderson who is the D.C. school superintendent. “They were really good together and kept everyone’s interest.” That panel took place last Thursday.

The five-day Sun Valley retreat wrapped up last night with the annual dinner hosted by Herb Allen, whose aserbic wit and self-deprecating humor was enjoy by all. In reference to the panel earlier in the week that featured producer Brian Grazer and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein talking about the creative process, one attendee noted that “Brian really hit the mark on it. He was pitch perfect. If he did that same speech in showbiz circles it might not resonate but it did with most of people who were not in the business.’” One of the things that they both suggested was to listen to the voices in your head and get in touch with your instinct, which Allen use as a set up for a joke at the Sunday night dinner: “I have the voices in my head. I just don’t know what to do with them yet.” Until next year …

3RD UPDATE, FRIDAY, 2:50 PM: People actually enjoyed the Michael Bloomberg panel today at the H2013-07-11t154703z_2111664344_gm1e97b1tzw01_rtrmadp_3_sunvalley-conference_Fotorerb Allen Sun Valley conference as the 72-year-old answered questions from journalist Willow Bay, wife of Disney’s Robert Iger. The former mayor of New York whose fight for reasonable gun laws is well-documented, spoke about his philanthropy efforts and giving back to society. Through Bloomberg Philanthropies, the billionaire does just that in the areas of education, the arts, gun issues, governance and public health. He spoke about how dysfunctional the current U.S. system is politically and otherwise to get things done — no doubt as he personally saw what happened behind the scenes in Washington D.C. as politicians in the pocket of the NRA stymied efforts to get background checks on gun sales passed. Leave it to a politician — an orator and a former Eagle scout (hey, it’s no small task) — to wake up the moguls.

The second panel, which was supposed to feature Charlie Rose interviewing Secretary of State John Kerry piped in live from Afghanistan, went awry as the video feed didn’t work (they tried for about 15 minutes to get it up and running to no avail). That conversation, which was expected to be about how heavily the U.S. should be involved in the current explosive situation in the Middle East, will now take place tomorrow after journalist Becky Quick interviews Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos.

So they are attempting to fix the video feed for tomorrow, but let’s face it, if it doesn’t work, we doubt anyone will be upset as Kerry drones … on and on. Speaking of drones, there has been some attempt to make sure that drones don’t fly over the conference taking pictures, according to Bloomberg News. Ahhh, technology … the age of the paparazzi drone? If people are still awake after Kerry and Rose, a number of younger entrepreneurs will have their turn at bat.

Most all we spoke with don’t expect any major deals to go down at this conference. That Read More »

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EMMYS: Overall Nominations By Network

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 7:08am PDT

EMMYS: Overall Nominations By NetworkOnce again, HBO led all networks in Emmy nominations this year, and it wasn’t even close. Here’s a look at HBO’s noms haul in the past decade, followed by a breakdown in who got what this year.

Emmy Nominations HBO Chart 2004 to 2014

 

NOMINATIONS BY NETWORK

HBO – 99
CBS – 47
NBC – 46
FX Networks – 45
ABC – 37
PBS – 34
Netflix – 31
FOX– 30
AMC – 26
Showtime – 24
Comedy Central – 21
FOX– 30
Lifetime – 17
National Geographic Channel – 15
Starz – 11
Discovery Channel – 10 Read More »

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Primetime Emmys: Full List Of Nominees

By | Thursday July 10, 2014 @ 5:53am PDT

Primetime Emmys: Full List Of NomineesThe 66th annual Primetime Emmy Awards nominations were announced this morning at the TV Academy in North Hollywood. Netflix fared well with Best Series nominations in both comedy and drama categories, with Orange Is The New Black in the former and House Of Cards in the latter. HBO fared well with noms for rookie Silicon Valley and Veep on the comedy side and Game Of Thrones and True Detective on the drama side. Both of that series’ stars, Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrleson, received nods in the actor category, as did Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm. The AMC show is back in the drama race with Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey rounding out the category. On the comedy side, the top category includes reigning champ Modern Family, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and FX’s Louie.

Here’s the full list of noms:

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory
CBS • Chuck Lorre Productions, Inc. in association with Warner Bros. Television

Louie
FX Networks • Pig Newton, Inc. and FX Productions

Modern Family
ABC • Picador Productions and Steven Levitan Productions in association with 20th Century Fox Television

Orange Is The New Black
Netflix • Lionsgate Television for Netflix

Silicon Valley
HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Judgemental Films, Alec Berg, Altschuler Krinsky works, and 3 Arts Entertainment

Veep
HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Dundee Productions

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad
AMC • Sony Pictures Television

Downton Abbey
PBS • A Carnival Films/Masterpiece Co-Production in association with NBC Universal

Game Of Thrones
HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Bighead, Littlehead; Television 360; Startling Television and Generator Productions

House Of Cards
Netflix • Donen/Fincher/Roth and Trigger Street Productions, Inc. in association with Media Rights Capital for Netflix

Mad Men
AMC • Lionsgate Television

True Detective
HBO • HBO Entertainment in association with Neon Black, Anonymous Content, Parliament of Owls and Passenger Read More »

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Tech Stocks Slammed On Weak Day For The Market

By | Tuesday July 8, 2014 @ 1:22pm PDT

Tech Stocks Slammed On Weak Day For The MarketPerhaps it’s due to profit taking ahead of earnings season. Or maybe investors became scared early this morning when Samsung said that it expects its Q2 earnings to come in far below analyst expectations due to weakening demand for its mobile products. Whatever the reason, or reasons, traders pummeled tech stocks today in the second day of declines after the market hit an all-time high last week. The tech-heavy NASDAQ fell 1.4% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was -0.7% to 16,907 after crossing the 17,000 mark for the first time last week. The Dow Jones U.S. Media Index slipped 1.1%. Among the tech companies we watch, Pandora was -7.3% followed by Twitter (-7.0%), Facebook (-3.9%), Netflix (-3.4%), Amazon (-2.9%), Yahoo (-2.8%), and AOL (-2.5%).

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Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Life Itself’, ‘Me And You’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘The Girl On The Train’

By | Wednesday July 2, 2014 @ 4:18pm PDT

Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Life Itself’, ‘Me And You’, ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘The Girl On The Train’Perhaps the most beloved film critic will get his starring spotlight on the big screen this holiday weekend. Filmmaker Steve James, one of many directors who was discovered in part because of Roger Ebert and his partner (and rival) Gene Siskel, looks at Ebert’s life in Life Itself, which opens July 4 in select cities via Magnolia Pictures. The doc will go up against a trio of studio blockbusters over the long weekend along with the latest from Oscar-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci, Me And You, which will open as the fourth Italian film under an initiative with Emerging Pictures. A re-release by Janus Films will be the weekend’s “largest” Specialty release. Acclaimed 1964 Beatles film A Hard Day’s Night will roll out into 100-plus theaters with more cities expected into July. And thriller The Girl On The Train will open with two runs from Monterey Media.

life itself posterLife Itself
Director: Steve James
Subjects: Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Gene Siskel, Ava DuVernay, Errol Morris, Ramin Bahrani, A.O. Scott, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese
Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Filmmaker Steve James first met Roger Ebert at the Sundance Film Festival in 1994 where his doc Hoop Dreams debuted. Ebert and Gene Siskel championed the film, which went on to receive an Oscar nomination the following year. “Like many, I had a relationship with him though he didn’t with me. I watched the show when I first fell in love with movies,” said James, referring to Siskel and Ebert’s show At The Movies. “I had hoped to one day make them as well.” James had formed a professional relationship with Ebert and that status remained so up to his involvement with the big screen version of Life Itself, which is based on the 2011 memoir penned by the critic about his life. Read More »

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Movie Academy Invites 271 New Members

Movie Academy Invites 271 New MembersThe Oscar organization has unveiled its annual invitees list for 2014. Check out the release below:

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is extending invitations to join the organization to 271 artists and executives who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to theatrical motion pictures. Those who accept the invitations will be the only additions to the Academy’s membership in 2014. “This year’s class of invitees represents some of the most talented, creative and passionate filmmakers working in our industry today,” said Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs. “Their contributions to film have entertained audiences around the world, and we are proud to welcome them to the Academy.”

The 2014 invitees are:

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Online Video Ads Don’t Threaten Traditional TV: Study

By | Thursday June 26, 2014 @ 5:30am PDT

Online Video Ads Don’t Threaten Traditional TV: StudyHere’s a fun fact that summarizes RBC Capital Markets’ David Bank’s conclusion from his thorough examination this morning of the video ad marketplace — and the potential threat that digital poses to broadcast and pay TV: An entire week of YouTube is roughly as valuable to major advertisers as a single, first-run episode of The Big Bang Theory. “Is The Big Bang Theory a big show? Yes,” Bank says. “Does its scale threaten the fabric of the rest of the TV advertising ecosystem? We do not think so.” That’s one reason the analyst says the market isn’t a zero-sum game, and is big enough to support growth in digital and traditional video ad sales.

It’s an important issue for investors. Many are becoming wary about conventional TV’s prospects as the ranks of people who watch video on their smartphones, tablets, and PCs grow. Last year was the first in which people spent more time with digital devices including their phones than they did with TV, and the gap between the platforms will continue to grow. No wonder advertisers also are looking seriously at digital, which companies including Google, Yahoo, and AOL encouraged at their NewFront presentations. Sales to national and local Web video providers have grown an average of 20.6% a year since 2009 vs 4.9% a year for national and local TV.
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