Alex Winter’s documentary about the rise and fall of Napster will open at Manhattan’s Village East Cinema on Friday, June 21 and the Sundance Sunset Cinemas in Los Angeles on June 28, VH1 announced today. Focusing on Napster and its founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker, Downloaded examines the rise of digital media sharing and “VH1 is so proud of this timely project, and we want to showcase it in as many ways as possible,” said Brad Abramson, Vice President, Programming and Production, VH1 in a statement today. This comes on the heels of VH1′s distribution deal with AOL. Additional theatrical bookings for Downloaded are scheduled for Albuquerque, Austin, Chicago, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Martha’s Vineyard, San Francisco and Seattle, as well as other cities to be announced, in partnership with specialty distributor Richard Abramowitz of Abramorama. On July 1, the film will debut on several On Demand platforms including iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, Comcast, DirecTV, Time Warner Cable and XBOX, in partnership with digital entertainment curator FilmBuff. Produced by VH1 for its rockDocs series, Downloaded premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Following the theatrical and On Demand windows, VH1 will air the film, most likely in 2014. Downloaded is written, directed and executive produced by Alex Winter and executive produced by Maggie Malina.
The sun finally came back to a windy and rainy Cannes but the weather clearly couldn’t slow the nonstop parties, premieres, deals and hype for which this festival is famous. And despite the rain on Saturday the turnout for Lionsgate’s big Catching Fire bash was wall-to-wall at Baoli Beach, with everyone including star Jennifer Lawrence crowded into the large tent. One exec there actually was happy with the monsoon-like conditions. “The rain probably kept 30% of our RSVPs away which is probably good because i don’t know how we could have squeezed them in,” he said.
With everyone drying out Sunday there seemed to be even more party-hopping than usual. At the crowded Participant Films party at the Carlton, Focus Features CEO James Schamus was accepting congratulations on his re-upping at the company. I have rarely heard him wax more eloquently about a film than Focus’ recent pickup of The Dallas Buyers Club, the movie where Matthew McConaughey lost about 50 pounds to play an early AIDS victim. It’s not dated yet according to Schamus but is planned for fall sometime. “It’s just a bloodbath trying to pick the right date in that period but this movie is extraordinary. I just so admire what Matthew has been doing with his career in the last couple of years between Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Mud and now this. You know me, I don’t rave like this a lot, but he really knocks this one out of the park. It is the performance of a lifetime,” he says of the actor in a film that is sure to be a main focus of Focus’ awards-season plans.
Cannes Briefs: Magnolia Boards ‘Bone Tomahawk’, Mongrel Buys ‘Blue’ Competition Film; ‘Badges Of Fury’ Sales; Stealth Indie Adds Pics; More
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Magnolia Pictures has boarded Bone Tomahawk, the horror Western from S. Craig Zahler starring Kurt Russell, Peter Sarsgaard, Jennifer Carpenter and Timothy Olyphant. Magnolia parent 2929 Entertainment has come on board to fully finance the project, which begins shooting in August in Utah and which the uConnect-Celluloid Dreams combo has been selling at Cannes. Caliber Media Co.’s Dallas Sonnier and Jack Heller and Floren/ShiehProductions’ Aimee Shieh and Clay Floren produce alongside 2929’s Ben Cosgrove and Shay Weiner. Constantin has taken rights for German-speaking Europe and the film has presold in France (Wildside), Australia (Transmission), Russia (Luxor) and Thailand (IPA Asia). The uConnect/Celluloid partnership’s Cannes slate includes Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Best Offer and Katrin Gebbe’s Nothing Bad Can Happen which is playing in the Un Certain Regard section. Another uConnect/Celluloid title is the Takashi Miike competition pic Shield Of Straw. The companies said they have acquired Miike’s next pic, taking international rights to his contemporary take on Japan’s most famous and chilling ghost story Yotsuya Kaiden.
Mongrel Media has been on a shopping spree during Cannes, acquiring all Canadian rights on competition titles Inside Llewyn Davis and Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza. Its latest pickup is competition entry Blue Is The Warmest Color from director Abdellatif Kechiche. The movie premieres here Thursday. Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos star in the lesbian coming-of-age story. Mongrel is planning a 2014 release.
Cannes Briefs: Mongrel Acquires Canadian ‘La Grande Bellezza’; Cohen Books ‘Inventor And The Tycoon’; Zombie Western From ‘Iron Sky’ Producer; Glavkino Expansion
Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza (The Great Beauty) won’t make its world premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival until Tuesday, but Mongrel Media has already stepped in to acquire all Canadian rights. The plan is for a fall 2013 release. The film — Sorrentino’s fifth competition on the Croisette — tells the story of an aging writer who who bitterly recollects his passionate lost youth against the backdrop of modern Rome. It stars Tony Servillo, who also starred in Sorrentino’s Il Divo, which Mongrel also released in Canada.
Cohen Media Group has acquired National Book Award winner The Inventor And The Tycoon, Edward Ball’s recently published book about the true story of photography and motion picture pioneer Edward Muybridge and wealthy industrialist and politician Leland Stanford. The acquisition was negotiated by Cohen chairman and CEO Charles S. Cohen and ICM agency, which reps Ball. The book focuses on a shocking incident: At the time of his work with Stanford that resulted in the creation of one of the first motion pictures, Muybridge killed a drama critic friend of his young wife after he discovered the man may have fathered their baby son. At his murder trial Muybridge refused to deny his actions and was acquitted on the grounds of “justifiable homicide.” Stanford arranged for his defense. “Edward Muybridge’s great accomplishments are well known, but his life story has faded over time”, Cohen said. “Edward Ball’s remarkable book brings Muybridge and all his uniqueness back to life, and we are thrilled to be able to bring his story to the screen.”
EXCLUSIVE: New York-based distributor Adopt Films has acquired all U.S. rights to French director Jacques Doillon’s Love Battles (aka Mes Séances De Lutte). The movie debuted in the Panorama section of Berlin earlier this year. The story follows a young woman who deals with her father’s death by engaging in a contest of wills, physicality and carnality with the caretaker of his estate. Sara Forestier, here in Cannes with Katell Quillévéré’s Critics’ Week opener Suzanne, stars alongside James Thiérrée. Adopt is planning a theatrical and VOD release this fall for the controversial title that will go out in France afterwards. Led by Tim Grady and Jeff Lipsky, Adopt has had a healthy track record with films coming out of Berlin. At the 2012 fest, they picked up Ursula Meier’s Sister, which was shortlisted for a foreign language Oscar. They also acquired Christian Petzold’s Barbara which won the directing Silver Bear, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Golden Bear winner Caesar Must Die and Miguel Gomes’ Tabu, winner of the FIPRESCI prize (Gomes is president of the Critics’ Week jury here in Cannes). Grady negotiated the deal on behalf of Adopt with Doc & Film CEO Daniela Elstner.
This is a — and possibly “the” — key question for Big Media investors coming out of the major broadcast and cable networks’ upfront programming presentations this week. As the sales pitches wore on it became clear that execs plan to spare no expense to recover from a year of dreary ratings. There’ll be 25 new programs on the Big Four networks, up from 18 planned this time last year. What’s more, “all of the broadcast networks are moving toward year-round original schedules, less re-runs [and] more frequent ‘mini-events’,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says. He adds that networks continue to depend on star power — for example CBS landed Robin Williams for its sitcom The Crazy Ones and Turner enlisted off-camera help from Michael Bay (Transformers), Dick Wolf (Law & Order), Howard Gordon (Homeland), Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead), and Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI). “These guys don’t come cheap, and we presume they must participate significantly in the back-end,” Juenger says. Execs no doubt feel confident that their bets will pay off. For example, hit dramas could play well in international syndication. Mini-series also should appeal to streaming services including Netflix and Amazon where subscribers like to binge view.
But domestic advertisers still provide lions’ share of revenues for TV shows. And if networks are optimistic about that market, it has as much to do with whether they believe consumers will buy lots of cars as with the merits of what programmers put on the screen. “Auto represents about 13% of annual TV ad spend and is seen as a pivotal player in this year’s upfront,” says Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible. That may be good news for the networks: Car companies appear to be headed for a big year as the economy improves and consumers take advantage of today’s low interest rates. As a result, Wible says “the tone of the upfront was more in favor of the sellers than we had anticipated” — leading him to forecast “substantial CPM [unit cost] increases that will offset recent ratings losses.” UBS Investment Research’s John Janedis forecasts that cable CPMs will be up as much as 7% with the major broadcasters “slightly better,” although some advertisers will just shift dollars for late this year from the scatter market to the upfront “which will make the total dollars look a little better.”
The Indian icon, known at home as Big B, may seem like an odd choice for a “to watch” piece, but the series of vignettes I’m doing this week is about keeping an eye on interesting people here in Cannes, not solely newcomers. And, Amitabh Bachchan, who has made more than 180 films at home, has only just made his Hollywood debut with a cameo in Baz Luhrmann’s Cannes opening night film The Great Gatsby. Bachchan has said that the short scene in which he appears with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire was a “friendly gesture” towards Lurhmann whom he had met a few years back. He also says he did not take any compensation: “What commerce can one consider for work for a single day!” he recently wrote on the blog he updates religiously. Luhrmann called him “one of the best actors” he’s ever worked with at the Gatsby press conference yesterday. (He also got a shoutout during a scene on Fox’s New Girl last week.) Bachchan has said he would consider other Hollywood roles if they were offered. Here in Cannes, he also stars in a section of Bombay Talkies, which is screening in honor of the 100th anniversary of Hindi cinema. An Indian producer says, “We’ve grown up watching his versatility and there’s nothing he cannot do. An absolute all-rounder. He’s our Al Pacino, Daniel Day-Lewis and Robin Williams all rolled into one.”
Related: Cannes: Producers To Watch
Ordinarily I wouldn’t be especially interested in today’s news about a $1.1M seed round investment in Skift, a business travel information site. But I thought differently when I saw the list of media biggies backing the young enterprise from Paid Content founder Rafat Ali. Lerer Ventures — the investment firm created by Huffington Post co-founder and former AOL Time Warner EVP Ken Lerer — led the latest financing effort. Other new backers include Shari Redstone‘s Advancit Capital. New angel investors include Martin Nisenholz (former New York Times SVP digital operations) and Paul Noglows (former Variety reporter-turned-analyst/investor). Current investors include Chris Ahearn, former president of Reuters Media; Gordon Crovitz, former publisher of the Wall Street Journal; Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters; and Jason Hirschhorn, former co-president of MySpace. With the new investment, Skift will have raised more than $1.5M, with plans to double its staff to produce news and services for business travelers. “At a time when investors are leery of both travel companies and content companies, Rafat and the Skift team have created a model that’s immediately viable and valuable,” says Lerer Ventures Managing director Eric Hippeau.
EXCLUSIVE: Following in the footsteps of Beasts Of The Southern Wild or Fruitvale Station, the 13 projects selected today for this June’s Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs could end up as Oscar nominees or at Cannes too. The projects’ origins range from the U.S. and the U.K. to Mexico, Peru, Germany and Somalia with the filmmakers’ backgrounds in photography, advertising and documentary not to mention a couple of past BAFTA and Sundance winners. This round of Sundance fellows will work with established filmmakers such as Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, On The Road director Walter Salles, author/screenwriter Walter Mosley, Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Sundance founder Robert Redford. The Directors Lab runs from May 27 to June 20 at the Sundance Resort in Utah while the Screenwriters Lab goes from June 22 to June 27. (see the full list of the June 2013 Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs below)
NEW YORK, NY – May 9, 2013 – Kino Lorber is pleased to announce that it has signed an exclusive agreement to distribute selected titles from Adopt Films on home media and digital platforms. Adopt is a leading theatrical distributor of critically acclaimed world cinema and documentary features. Designed to cover packaged media (Blu-ray and DVD), all digital markets and educational rights, this deal is set to begin with the DVD and Blu-ray release of Christian Petzold’s Barbara and The Taviani Brothers’ Caesar Must Die. Adopt Films, which specializes in international and independent American cinema, will continue to release between 8 and 12 new titles per year, all of which are expected to open in select theaters nationwide. The company was co-founded by industry veteran Tim Grady, President of Adopt, and art house pioneer Jeff Lipsky, who heads distribution. Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s Caesar Must Die and Christina Petzold’s Barbara are two of an impressive list of films that also include Ursula Meier’s Sister, a 2012 Berlin Competition Silver Bear winner, and Miguel Gomes’ Tabu, the winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize and the FIPRESCI international critics award also at the 2012 Berlinale.
The revenue growth is modest, but it’s the second time in eight years that AOL has been able to boast that the gains from ad sales have outweighed the decline in its Internet subscription business. The company just reported Q1 net income of $25.6M, +21.9% vs the quarter last year, on revenues of $538.3M, +1.7%. Revenues beat analyst forecasts for $537.2M. But diluted earnings at 32 cents a share missed their target for 35 cents. AOL says that a 9% growth in global ad sales to $359.2M included an 8% increase in global display revenues — with domestic sales +6% — as well as a 10% pick up in third party network revenue and 9% rise in search revenue. The Brand Group — with online destinations including The Huffington Post, Patch and TechCrunch — saw a 14% pick up in sales to $189.6M while its cash flow loss was cut to $4.9M from $16.8M. About 112M different people visited AOL properties each month, up 3% from last year’s Q1 but -1% from the end of the year. The ad gains were somewhat offset by the Internet access business which ended the quarter with 2.7M domestic subscribers, -4.7% from the end of 2012. Revenues for that business fell 10% to $211.5M while adjusted cash flow fell 8% to $146.4M. Finally, the AOL Networks business services unit saw revenues increase 8% to $160.9M with an adjusted cash flow loss of …
In the past several months, Chinese comedies Lost In Thailand and Journey To The West have laughed all the way to the bank, becoming the top local hits of all time with over $200M in box office each. In the past several days, a drama has been breaking records. So Young, a nostalgic look at college romance directed by actress-turned-helmer Vicki Zhao Wei, broke opening day records for a 2D Chinese movie on April 26 with $7.3M, beating Lost In Thailand‘s previous high mark. It also bested Journey To The West in advance sales, according to reports. Through Sunday, its cume was $76.72M, per Ent Group data. First-time feature director Wei, a star who’s appeared in such hits as the Painted Skin movies and Shaolin Soccer, also reportedly became the first female director to see her debut pass the coveted 100M yuan mark. The film now faces stiff competition from Iron Man 3, but Wei is apparently taking it in stride. She told China Daily, “I’m given box office figures every other day. I feel OK. I am very satisfied with what we’ve taken. You can’t be too greedy.” Here’s a subtitled So Young trailer:
No surprise about who topped the list of 2012′s highest paid CEOs at the media companies whose compensation practices I track most closely. (See here for an explanation). CBS’ Les Moonves returns to the head of the pack with $62.2M, even though his package was 11.1% smaller than it was in 2011. That was an anomaly: The top 20 collectively made $542.7M, up from $416.6M in 2011, according to company proxy statements filed at the SEC. It took $25.9M to crack the Top 10 — last year Time Warner Cable’s Glenn Britt made it with $16.4M. The most notable change in this year’s list vs 2011 is the jump by Liberty Media’s Greg Maffei to No. 2 from No. 28 as his company adjusted stock options just in case the feds change the corporate deduction this year for performance-based compensation.
Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer also joins the top 10 following her move there from Google. Her appearance also highlights a quirk in this year’s list which has more CEOs than companies: Yahoo had three CEOs last year (Mayer is still there) and there were two apiece at Sirius XM (James Meyer replaced Mel Karmazin) and Cinemark (Tim Warner is now in charge). Also, remember that this list just includes corporate CEOs, not division chiefs or board chairs. I’ll be back soon with a list of the highest-paid media execs. The numbers on the right are the amount in millions of dollars for the total compensation as reported by each company.
Here’s our list of 2012′s highest-paid media CEOs:
EXCLUSIVE: Big Media companies don’t tell you when something’s rotten with the corporate culture. But this list should help you begin your search. This is Deadline’s third annual tally of out-of-whack CEO compensation. It’s an account of chiefs who not only make vastly more than you and me, but also collect far more than their closest colleagues at their own companies. Corporate governance experts become concerned when a CEO consistently makes at least three times more than the median for the four other highest-paid execs that the SEC requires companies to list in the annual proxy statement. That’s the standard I use, and it indicates that 14 out of 31 media companies that I tracked and that have already filed 2012 data failed the test — in many cases miserably.
Out of whack CEO pay can send a poisonous message to employees, including others in the C-suite. Internal pay parity “is critical to ensuring fairness and encouraging a collaborative team effort,” News Corp says in its proxy. Huge disparities also can tip you off to troublesome boardroom beliefs. It might indicate that directors lack faith in the business or leadership team — and fear that things will unravel if the top dog leaves. It may be a symptom of corporate groupthink where people give the chief credit for everything that goes well, and seek scapegoats for everything that doesn’t. Or it might mean that directors are beholden to the CEO — or share a cynical and grandiose sense of entitlement — and see nothing wrong with helping him (it’s almost always “him”) stuff his pockets with shareholders’ money, even where there’s little danger that he might leave if paid less. Whatever the case, researchers find that all too often the damage from such obeisance to the CEO eventually hurts a company’s performance and stock price. (For example, here, here, here, and here.)
This list looks at the biggest and best known infotainment providers. I include Web-based companies such as AOL and Yahoo that produce and sell their own content, and added Facebook which depends on ad sales. But I left out ones including Apple and Verizon that generate most of their revenues from hardware or personal communications services. (I’ve also left out Google, where the top execs benefit from stock performance and only collect a symbolic $1 in compensation.) For context, I’ve also noted how many people the company employs, and how that’s changed since the last fiscal year, to see whether these fabulously rich CEOs were job creators. The data isn’t nearly as revealing as it ought to be. For example, the SEC doesn’t require companies to specify how many jobs are based in the U.S., or even how many are full time. I’ve also included the CEO’s 2012 compensation rank among other media chiefs in our list, as well as among all media executives listed in their company proxies, and the average compensation over the last three years. (To avoid having them counted twice, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collects as chairman of CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan collects at Cablevision and AMC Networks.)
A few things to keep in mind: The SEC reporting rules only cover the top-paid executives of publicly traded U.S. companies. That means we’ll miss a lot of highly paid people who work at subsidiaries of a big company; Universal Studios’ Ron Meyer may be a big deal in Hollywood, but he didn’t make the top echelon at his corporate parent Comcast. Also, the pay data given to the SEC can spike in a year when an executive cashes in stock or collects deferred compensation. Averages also can be skewed when people on the list come and go in the middle of the year. So consider this to be a starting point to judge whether a CEO was paid fairly — not a final verdict.
I’ll be back soon with additional information including a similar list showing CEOs whose pay was more in line with his or her colleagues. Here’s how the out-of-whack CEOs stack up for 2012:
1. Live Nation: Michael Rapino. The concert and ticketing giant had a so-so year generating higher revenues but even higher costs — and a net loss. Last year’s big tours included Madonna, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Roger Waters, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Company shares appreciated 8.1% in 2012, lagging the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 which was +12.7%. But the big excitement took place at year-end with the surprising departure of Chairman Irving Azoff, taking performers he represents including Eagles, Van Halen, and Christina Aguilera. That left Rapino clearly in charge — but under the watchful eye of Liberty Media, which owns nearly 27% of the stock. With a flood of option awards, the CEO’s compensation rose 138.4% to $28.5M (The package: $2.2M salary, $243,281 bonus, $2.6M stock awards, $19M option awards, $4.4M non-equity compensation, $46,408 other compensation.) That was a whopping 17.0 times more than the median for the four other highest paid execs — up from last year’s 5.5 times — and 46% of the pie. Even these numbers underplay the disparity in executive pay: The group of other execs includes Azoff who made $27.4M. The company had 7,100 full time employees at year end, up 500. (Pay rank among media CEOs: 9. Among all media execs: 11. Average annual pay over last three years: $18.7M.)
New York, NY (May 6, 2013)–Multimedia entertainment studio Electus, an operating business of IAC (Nasdaq: IACI), today announced a strategic investment in Hud:sun Media, a production and entertainment company founded by Michael Rourke and MDC Partners in 2010. Helmed by CEO Rourke, Hud:sun Media will work closely with Electus to develop and produce programming for television, digital and content marketing, both domestically and internationally.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Kiss Of The Damned’, ‘What Maisie Knew’, ‘The Iceman’, ‘Generation Um…’, ‘Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s', ‘Dead Man’s Burden’, ‘Something In The Air’, ‘The Happy House’
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Following last week’s hefty rollout of new Specialty films, the coming weekend is also awash in a large number of diverse titles that will hit the limited release slate, including titles with stars, soon-to-be stars and big screen novices. Xan Cassavetes will open her drama/thriller Kiss Of The Damned via Magnolia this weekend with a cadre of French vampires. Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan and Alexander Skarsgard star in Millennium Entertainment’s What Maisie Knew. The distributor is doubling up this weekend, also bowing The Iceman with Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta and David Schwimmer, while Keanu Reeves stars in Phase 4′s Generation Um… Cinedigm will open indie Western Dead Man’s Burden from newcomer Jared Moshé, starring Barlow Jacobs, Clare Bowen and David Call, while First Run Features’ The Happy House will also be looking for its niche among the weekend’s new titles. IFC Films will bow veteran French filmmaker Olivier Assayas’ latest, Something In The Air, while doc Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s joins the weekend’s packed lineup.
Xan Cassavetes initially had the idea for Kiss Of The Damned after touring a house some years ago. The home eventually became the venue for the thriller/drama which revolves around a vampire, Djuna, who resists the advances of Paolo, but soon gives into their passion. “I went through the house and the nature of its setting felt so transitory — it’s a weekend house and it’s the setting for a transitory vampire,” said Cassavetes. “I looked at the house a year and a half before writing the screenplay.” After working on other projects, Cassavetes recalled the house and wrote the screenplay for Kiss Of The Damned in only three weeks. She and her team were able to put together the financing elements from previous films. “I wanted French actors because the movie has the flavor of a beautiful European flavor,” said Cassavetes. “I also wanted relatively unknown actors because I thought it was more powerful to buy into that.”
EXCLUSIVE: Alex Winter’s documentary about about the rise and fall of Napster has a new online home. AOL will be making Downloaded available to visitors to its on.aol.com via streaming later this year. This is the portal’s first foray into longform streaming as a part of the distribution deal between the brand company and VH1, which is showing the film theatrically. Downloaded will be on AOL after its big-screen release this summer by the Viacom-owned broadcaster’s VH1 Rock Docs in partnership with Cinetic Media and Richard Abramowitz. The film on the legacy of file sharing pioneer premiered at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Downloaded will also be on Cable VOD and iTunes later this year as well. “We sold the film to AOL at SXSW,” ,” Winter told me. “Cinetic’s John Sloss, VH1 and I made a deal with our partners that focused heavily on digital/streaming and still gives us room for theatrical and CVOD. It’s a new frontier for distributing movies, and the Internet is finally monetizing in a way that can work for everyone.” The film was directed and executive produced by Winter and executive produced by Maggie Malina. Executive producers for VH1 are Brad Abramson, Warren Cohen, Rick Krim, Bill Flanagan, Shelly Tatro, and Jeff Olde
NEW YORK, NY (April 29, 2013) – Time Warner Cable today announced that Arthur T. Minson, Jr. has been named Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective May 2. He will report to Glenn A. Britt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. The company also announced that Irene M. Esteves will be leaving the company.
“We’re delighted to welcome Artie back to Time Warner Cable,” Mr. Britt said. “His deep knowledge of the cable industry, the broad experience he gained at AOL as CFO and COO, and his outstanding reputation in the financial community make him a great addition to our management team.”
As CFO, Mr. Minson will oversee all of the company’s finance functions, including treasury, accounting, financial planning and analysis, tax, mergers and acquisitions, and investor relations. He also will oversee a range of corporate services including supply chain and business affairs.
The European Union and the U.S. are expected to begin discussions later this year that could result in the removal of trade barriers between the world’s two biggest economies by October 2014. But, in an uproar reminiscent of the tensions surrounding the 1993 GATT talks, European filmmakers are up in arms over a perceived threat to their “cultural exception.”
Last month, the European Commission adopted a draft negotiation mandate that includes the audiovisual and film industries in the proposed talks with the U.S. Their inclusion, which goes against the cultural exception’s raison d’être of treating cultural goods and services differently than others, led dozens of filmmakers last week to sign a petition entitled “The Cultural Exception Is Non-Negotiable!” Signatories include Michael Haneke, Michel Hazanavicius, Pedro Almodovar, Stephen Frears, Roger Michell, Costa Gavras, Paolo Sorrentino, Thomas Vinterberg and Cristian Mungiu as well as non-European directors Walter Salles, Jane Campion and David Lynch.
The cultural exception has its roots in 1993 when a furor erupted as Hollywood, notably led by late MPAA chief Jack Valenti, wanted to include the audiovisual industries in the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) negotiations. Europe, led by France, balked. Member states claimed that including the arts would threaten their quota and subsidy systems and put them in danger of total Hollywood hegemony. Hours from the deadline, a deal was struck and Europe got its way.