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J.R. Ramirez To Play Wildcat On ‘Arrow’ Season 3

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 8:41am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

J.R. Ramirez To Play Wildcat On ‘Arrow’ Season 3EXCLUSIVE: J.R. Ramirez has been cast as Ted “Wildcat” Grant on the upcoming third season of the CW‘s Arrow. The show’s executive producer Marc Guggenheim announced at Comic-Con this past weekend that the character would be introduced on the show in Season 3 but did not reveal casting information. The role is envisioned as a potentially recurring. In the DC Comics, Ted Grant is a member J.R. Ramirez Wildcat Arrow CWof the Justice Society for America, as well as the mentor and trainer of other masked vigilantes including the Black Canary.

In Arrow, Grant will be a former boxer who now runs a gym for underprivileged youth. A man with a mysterious past, he will play a pivotal role in Laurel Lance’s arc this season. Wildcat is one of two major DC comic book characters to be added to Arrow this coming seaso, along with villain Ra’s al Ghul. This marks Ramirez’s return to the CW where he recurred on Emily Owens, MD. The actor, repped by Mavrick Artists and manager Marie Mathews, has been recurring on Starz’s drama Power.

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Comic-Con: New ‘Arrow’ Villain & Hero Confirmed At WBTV ‘Gotham’ Premiere, ‘Flash’ & ‘Constantine’ Screening (Video)

By | Saturday July 26, 2014 @ 10:50pm PDT

Comic-Con: New ‘Arrow’ Villain & Hero Confirmed At WBTV ‘Gotham’ Premiere, ‘Flash’ & ‘Constantine’ Screening (Video)After lurking as a presence in Arrow throughout the second season, villain Ra’s al Ghul finally will appear in Season 3, as will the hero Wildcat, fans at Comic-Con’s mega-screening for Warner Bros TV and DC Comics properties learned tonight. While his face was not identified, the criminal mastermind was seen in full costume and with a sword in a new preview clip. Following up on a Facebook hint by Arrow lead Stephen Amell that Ted “Wildcat” Grant  would join the show, producer Marc Guggenheim tonight confirmed both additions to the hit CW drama. A longtime DC villain, Liam Neeson played the character on the big screen in 2005’s Batman Begins and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.

Stephen Amell and his Abs 2The Arrow revelations came at the end of the first nighttime presentation for SDCC, screening a smorgasbord of upcoming WBTV shows in massive Hall H.

“You saved the best for last,” said WBTV Marketing chief Lisa Gregorian to the thousands in the hall in kicking off the 3-hour event. The extravaganza not only was a testament to the rise of superheroes but also WB and DC properties. “I david goyer wbtv comic conremember being at Comic-Con when we were the only DC property on television,” said Amell, the night’s emcee, as he named off The Flash pilot, the world premiere of Batman prequel Gotham, plus a preview of NBC’s new supernatural thriller Constantine and … Read More »

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Comic-Con: Sony Dates Two ‘Spider-Man’ Films And ‘Uncharted’

Mike Fleming

Comic-Con: Sony Dates Two ‘Spider-Man’ Films And ‘Uncharted’San Diego Comic-Con has become more than a place for film studios to vamp their upcoming superhero movies. Now, they use the geek frenzy to stake out release date turf. Days after Disney and Marvel declared release dates for a flurry of superhero films the studio isn’t even ready to identify yet, Columbia Pictures has set its release plans and formalized plans to expand its $4 billion Spider-Man universe. As expected, the next film in the series will be Sinister Six, writer-director Drew Goddard’s bad guy mash-up, which is the first of several planned character and story expansions. That film has been dated for release November 11, 2016, with Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach producing.

Columbia will then release the third installment of The Amazing Spider-Man in 2018.

unchartedThe studio also announced that it has slated Uncharted for June 10, 2016, the date originally held by The Amazing Spider-Man 3. The adaptation of the Sony PlayStation vidgame will be directed by Seth Gordon, and the latest draft of the screenplay is being written by David Guggenheim. They haven’t set a star to play Nathan Drake; I’ve heard they are trying to pull Mark Wahlberg back into the mix, but the studio and the actor’s reps say nothing is happening. That film will be an Arad/Atlas Entertainment Production, produced by Charles Roven, Avi Arad, Alex Gartner and Ari Arad. 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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Business Briefs: DreamWorks Animation Stock Downgrade; Aereo Strategy Questions; Cable Nets Rocky Forecast

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 10:18am PDT

Business Briefs: DreamWorks Animation Stock Downgrade; Aereo Strategy Questions; Cable Nets Rocky ForecastDreamWorks Animation Shares Touch 52-Week Low

The stock is down about 1% in early afternoon trading after taking a hit early this morning following B. Riley’s Eric Wold’s decision to abandon his “buy” recommendation. It touched $21.90, a 12-month low, after the analyst dropped his price target nearly 22% to $25. Wold acknowledged that his upgrade in March, when the stock value was 23% higher, “proved to be ill-timed and premature.” He calls the box office for How To Train Your Dragon 2 “disappointing” which “may turn DWA into a ‘show me’ stock and keep a ceiling on valuations until more consistent box office results develop.” The good news? Wold still likes DWA’s plans to diversify and expand its TV production. He also says that Dragon shouldn’t require a write-down.

Aereo’s Effort To Define Itself As A Cable Company Could Backfire At FCC: Analyst

Aereo may have bought some time with its attempt to redefine itself as a cable company, but it likely won’t succeed, Guggenheim Securities’ Paul Gallant says this morning. He figures that U.S. District Court Judge Amy Nathan — who’s overseeing broadcasters’ plea for an injunction to shutter the streaming service — will want to hear additional arguments after the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Aereo could not take over-the-air signals without payment. Justices likened it to a cable company: Copyright law gives operators the right to a compulsory license, which enables them to carry broadcast signals if they pay a relatively low fee set by the Copyright Office. But if the FCC also deems Aereo to be a … Read More »

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HFPA & Dick Clark Productions Settle Long Golden Globes Lawsuit

HFPA & Dick Clark Productions Settle Long Golden Globes LawsuitThe long-running legal battle between the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Dick Clark Productions over who controls TV rights to the Golden Globes is over. While seemingly impossible to imagine after all the rancor between the two sides, they have reached a confidential agreement that will see the Guggenheim Partners-owned dcp continuing to produce the annual awards for broadcast on NBC until 2018, sources confirm. This comes four years after the HFPA first filed, and dozens of courts dates, hundreds of filings, an early 2012 trial that saw the HFPA lose its case against dcpand an appeals hearing last month that still hadn’t issued a ruling. During the legal battle, the HFPA and dcp had a shotgun marriage to keep producing the awards show.

The heart of the HFPA’s contention was that a 1993 extension of its deal with dcp was invalid. The agreement said that the production company, which was sold by then-owners Red Zone in the fall of 2012, had “the exclusive right to produce a live television broadcast for each of the years 1998 through and including 2005, and for any extensions, renewals, substitutions or modifications of the NBC agreement.” Federal judge Judge Howard A. Matz agreed. He also made a point of citing the disorganization among the HFPA leadership over the years. To that end, the two-week non-jury trial saw a series of past and current HFPA presidents and dcp executives take the stand. Dick Clark, now deceased, did not appear, but CBS Read More »

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Aereo Says Court Decision Entitles It To License Network Programming

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 4:14pm PDT

Aereo Says Court Decision Entitles It To License Network ProgrammingUPDATE: Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia has sent a message to “users and supporters” with a link to today’s letter to the court that outlines the company’s new position. “From the beginning, it has been our mission to build a lawful technology that would provide consumers with more choice and alternatives in how they watch television,” he says. The Supreme Court decision against Aereo resulted in “a challenging journey for our team, but your support has continued to lift and propel us forward. We remain committed to building great technologies that create real, meaningful alternatives for consumers.”

PREVIOUS, 4:14 PM: The Supreme Court‘s recent ruling against Aereo may have left an opening for it to stay in business — but now as a kind of cable service – its lawyers said today in a joint letter with broadcasters outlining their views to the U.S. District Court in New York. (Find it here.) The high court concluded that the streaming service was so similar to cable companies, which are required to negotiate a deal if they want to carry broadcasters’ programming, that it could not simply pluck signals from the airwaves without paying. That’s significant, Aereo says, because the classification also means that it’s “now entitled” to work out a deal — which broadcasters, in turn, must negotiate in good faith. Indeed, Aereo says, its eligibility for what’s known as a compulsory license “must be decided on an immediate basis or [its] survival as a company will be in jeopardy.” It suspended service shortly after the Supreme Court decision.

Broadcasters say that Aereo, having lost once, is now raising “a brand-new defense” that it “never before pled (much less litigated).” Read More »

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Business Briefs: Lenny Daniels To Run Turner Sports; Tribune Expands TV Data Services Overseas

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 11:03am PDT

Lenny Daniels To Run Turner Sports

Turner Sports logoThis is a promotion for Lenny Daniels, who was EVP and COO of Turner Broadcasting System’s sports operation. He’ll handle day-to-day management and continue to work with TBS President David Levy on strategic issues including acquisitions, programming and expanding sports media rights. Daniels helped negotiate TBS’ 2012 deal with Major League Baseball, the 2010 agreement with the NCAA to offer Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, and the 2012 acquisition Bleacher Report, a sports Web site.

Tribune Digital Ventures Acquires What’s-ON

Image (2) Tribune-Digital__140403154655-275x114.jpg for post 709077The $27M deal is the Chicago-based media company’s latest effort to establish itself as a power in TV metadata, including information for onscreen program guides.  What’s-ON provides that data for cable and TV services in 16 countries including India, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain, Indonesia, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. The transaction means “we will have a new presence in markets with significant opportunity,” CEO Peter Liguori says. What’s-ON’s management will stay with the operation which will continue to operate from Mumbai.

Ross Levinsohn Joins DramaFever Board

Ross LevinsohnThis is an interesting choice for the media exec who recently left as chief of Guggenheim Digital Media, and previously served as Yahoo’s interim CEO, and president of Fox Interactive Media. DramaFever is an online video service (with subscription and ad-supported free options) that syndicates programming from around the world, … Read More »

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Aereo Is “Over” Barry Diller Says As Court Ruling Lifts Stock Prices For CBS And Broadcasters

By | Wednesday June 25, 2014 @ 7:56am PDT

Aereo Is “Over” Barry Diller Says As Court Ruling Lifts Stock Prices For CBS And Broadcasters“We did try, but it’s over now,” Aereo investor Barry Diller told CNBC following this morning’s Supreme Court ruling that Aereo violates TV station copyrights when it streams their over-the-air signals without their permission. That has given a jolt to broadcast stocks: Sinclair Broadcasting leads the pack with shares up more than 15% But CBS is up 5.4% with E.W. Scripps +6.5% and Gannett +4.7%. The decision relieves a big concern for Wall Street: that Aereo or a service like it might endanger broadcasters’ ability to demand rising retransmission consent fees from pay TV providers.

Image (7) diller.jpg for post 715696Station owners are expected to collect $7.1B in retransmission payments in 2018, up from $3.3B last year. CBS chief Les Moonves has predicted that his company will collect at least $2B in retransmission revenues in 2020.  And the revenues could account for nearly 20% of cash flow growth this year at the major broadcast network owners — CBS, Fox, Disney, and Comcast — MoffettNathanson Research estimates.

CBS had the most at stake among Big Media companies because it has few cable channels or other businesses to offset any threat to its broadcast network and stations. The court ruling “validates CBS’ investment in expensive and high-quality programming,” Guggenheim Securities’ Michael Morris says. Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible says the decision “effectively increases broadcaster’s negotiating leverage over [cable and satellite companies] in retrans discussions, which is critical given the weaker ad market and … Read More »

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Barnes & Noble Shares Rise On Plan To Separate Stores From Nook Media

By | Wednesday June 25, 2014 @ 6:13am PDT

Barnes & Noble Shares Rise On Plan To Separate Stores From Nook MediaThe stock is up 7.3% in pre-market trading after the book retailer said that it plans to split Nook Media into a separate, publicly traded company. The businesses “will have the best chance of optimizing shareholder value if they are capitalized and operated separately,” Barnes & Noble CEO Michael Huesby says. The plan still needs to be approved by regulators, and the company says it could change course if  it can’t raise enough funding or the markets shift. B&N has hired Guggenheim Securities to provide financial advice, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore to handle legal matters.
Read More »

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Will A Federal Court Clear The Way For Unbundled Pay TV?

By | Monday June 23, 2014 @ 11:34am PDT

Will A Federal Court Clear The Way For Unbundled Pay TV?Investors and consumer groups will be watching for just such a possibility following U.S. District Court decision Friday to let Cablevision pursue an antitrust claim against Viacom. More than a year ago the cable company charged that it was improperly forced to carry 14 channels it didn’t want (including Palladia and Tr3s) in order to offer eight that it did. Viacom asked the court to dismiss the complaint, saying that Cablevision failed to make a prima facie case that its bundles violated antitrust law. But Judge Laura Swain said there were enough facts to “support plausibly an inference of anticompetitive effects.” Although far from a definitive ruling, the decision to let the case proceed “was not a given, so it was a victory for Cablevision,” Guggenheim Partners’ Paul Gallant says today.

Cablevision logoIf Cablevision prevails, the case could rock Big Media. Most of the top content companies’ business models depend on their ability to require pay TV distributors and their customers to pay for channels they don’t want. If the court says that’s illegal, then “that could feed into the nascent Telecom Act rewrite — or perhaps a narrower bill updating the 1992 Cable Act —  in an unwelcome way for content companies,” Gallant says.

But the case could take more than a year to approach a verdict. Viacom appears ready to fight: Cablevision wants to “renege on a long-term business agreement, using arguments directly contrary to positions it has taken in other cases and to its own business practices,” the … Read More »

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Ross Levinsohn Leaves Guggenheim Digital Media: Report

By | Tuesday June 10, 2014 @ 11:33am PDT

Ross LevinsohnGuggenheim won’t comment about Ross Levinsohn‘s departure, first reported by Re/code. But the development has been long expected, even though the former Yahoo interim CEO has only been at the investment firm’s media operation — which includes The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, and Dick Clark Productions — since January 2013. When it hired Levinsohn, Guggenheim said that it planned to allocate “significant capital to acquire and invest in new media companies and properties that will meaningfully expand its current portfolio.” But it became clear by late last year that he had lost his mojo at the company. In November, Michel Protti – who was Levinsohn’s chief of staff at Yahoo – announced his plan to leave as Guggenheim Digital’s SVP Strategy and Operations to become Director of Emerging Business at Facebook. Then, in January, he lost Zander Lurie, a former CFO and M&A guy at CBS Interactive, who had joined in 2013 to help with Levinsohn’s expansion plans at Guggenheim Digital. He also lost control of THR and Billboard when Guggenheim Media promoted Janice Min to Chief Creative Officer of its Entertainment Group, which includes the magazines, with John Amato serving as co-president overseeing business affairs.

Related: Guggenheim Digital Media Loses Another Top Exec

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Would A Sprint Acquisition Of T-Mobile Have A Ripple Effect On Media Mergers?

By | Wednesday June 4, 2014 @ 4:24pm PDT

sprintSome industry watchers say it might as reports circulate tonight that the No. 3 and 4 mobile carriers have settled on basic terms of a $32B deal. They still have to iron out details, and that could postpone an announcement by several weeks, according to The New York Times (here) and the Wall Street Journal (here). t-mobile3But they appear to have agreed that Sprint‘s parent, Japan’s Softbank, would pay $40 a share in cash and stock for T-Mobile, which closed today at $34.28. T-Mobile’s parent, Deutsche Telecom, would keep as much as 20% stake in the combined company. It also would receive $1B in cash and assets if the deal collapses, including from objections by federal regulators. That’s a real risk: Remember that in 2011 AT&T abandoned its plan to buy T-Mobile after the Justice Department sued to block the deal, saying that consumer prices could rise if competition in wireless was reduced to three carriers from four.

Related: Is Peter Chernin Key To AT&T’s Deal With DirecTV?

The D.C. angle is what interests many in media most about a Sprint/T-Mobile plan. They wonder whether regulators might choke at the thought of approving three mega-deals, adding the telecom one to Comcast’s $45B acquisition of Time Warner Cable, and AT&T’s $49B merger with DirecTV. Softbank’s Masayoshi Son has been making the case that the two media deals help to justify a merger of Sprint and T-Mobile: By uniting their wireless assets, they could compete more effectively with cable’s broadband service, as well as with AT&T and Verizon, he says: ”If anyone says four is better than three, I agree with that. We should be the No. 4.” Read More »

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Antoine Fuqua Attached To Fox Drug Trafficking Thriller ‘Narco Sub’

By | Wednesday May 28, 2014 @ 1:11pm PDT
Mike Fleming

fuqEXCLUSIVE: Fox has attached The Equalizer helmer Antoine Fuqua to direct Narco Sub, the David Guggenheim-scripted thriller that has long been a priority project at the studio. It’s set in the dangerous world of drug smuggling, and the title refers to the semi-submersible crafts that South American drug cartels have been using to ship cocaine into the U.S. without having to deal with land-based authorities.

Related: Antoine Fuqua Closes Deal To Direct Kurt Sutter-Penned ‘Southpaw’

The pic will be produced by Scott Free’s Jules Daly, Ridley Scott and Michael Schaefer and Genre Films’ Simon Kinberg. Elishia Holmes and Aditya Sood are exec producers. Kinberg had a hand in revising the script and Anthony Peckham as well. Fuqua is next directing Southpaw at The Weinstein Company, and his reteam with Training Day star Denzel Washington on The Equalizer has generated such strong buzz at Sony that a sequel is already in the works. Fuqua also is mulling The Magnificent Seven at MGM, but Narco Sub looks promising. Fuqua is repped by CAA.

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Cannes: ‘Sea Of Trees’ Financier Makes First-Look Deal With Upstart Addictive Pictures

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ken Kao was one of the new financiers who made a splash Ken Kao, Gus Van Sant, Matthew McConaughey and Alex Waltonon the Croisette when he launched Bloom with former Exclusive Media exec Alex Walton and shopped international on several strong properties including Sea Of Trees with Gus Van Sant directing Matthew McConaughey, Naomi Watts and Ken Watanabe. Under his other banner, Waypoint Entertainment (under which he set up Sea Of Trees), Kao has made a first-look deal with Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder and their newly formed Addictive Pictures.

Related: Cannes: Matthew McConaughey Hits Croisette To Talk ‘Sea Of Trees’

Cannes2014_badge__140417160328-150x150 (1)Ackerman was Guillermo del Toro’s development executive for six years, and worked on such films as the horror pic Mama. He’s still working on projects with filmmakers that include the Neil Cross-scripted Midnight Delivery and the Rodrigo Cortes-directed Mine. Schoenfelder comes from the book world, where he was editorial director for the Little Brown imprint Mulholland Books and worked on projects from JJ Abrams, Warren Ellis, Charlie Huston, Scott Spencer, David Guggenheim, Derek Haas and Anthony Horowitz. He also oversaw the relaunch of Popcorn Fiction, a Haas-hatched website that featured writing from such screenwriters as Brian Helgeland, Rian Johnson, DB Weiss, Mark Bomback, Brian Koppelman and Scott Frank. Books Schoenfelder shepherded that were set up for films include Ellis’ Gun Machine, Guggenheim’s Weaponized and others. Read More »

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AT&T Seals $48B+ Deal To Acquire DirecTV

By | Sunday May 18, 2014 @ 2:37pm PDT

AT&TAT&T has finalized its deal to acquire DirecTV, the nation’s No. 1 satellite TV provider, for $94 per share. The boards of the respective companies reportedly came to terms of the $48.5 billion stock and cash deal over the weekend in a major tie-up creates a pay-TV powerhouse that would have a similar scale and in some ways act as a response to Comcast’s proposed $45B merger with with Time Warner Cable and is just the latest major proposed consolidation in the TV and telecom industries.

Related:
Are DirecTV And AT&T Becoming Serious About Making A Deal?
DirecTV Shares Up On Report That A Deal With AT&T Is Near

direcTV__130523212608AT&T has an existing partnership with the satellite giant to sell its service in areas where it offers broadband but doesn’t offer its U-verse TV service, which has 5.7M subscribers. DirecTV has about 20M subs. The broadband expansion will cover 70M customer locations. Under the terms of the deal DirecTV’s operations will continue to be based in El Segundo, CA.

Deal will also allow AT&T to boost broadband speeds and expand its high speed broadband service to 15M customer locations including rural areas not currently wired, to be completed within four years. DirecTV customers can retain their standalone service packages for three years.

DirecTV stock has been hovering around record highs the past week amid rising rumors that … Read More »

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Are DirecTV And AT&T Becoming Serious About Making A Deal?

By | Wednesday May 7, 2014 @ 3:51pm PDT

direcTV__130523212608Seems so: The satellite company has hired Goldman Sachs to help evaluate a possible combination The Wall Street Journal reported today — contributing to a late afternoon spike in DirecTV‘s shares. The company closed +8% to $81.35 and touched $88.55, an all time high. Yesterday DirecTV CEO Michael White tried to besmirch apparently accurate and newsworthy reports about AT&T‘s approach as mere “media rumors and speculation.” He added that he doesn’t “view it as productive to speculate about alternative business combinations, which may or may not occur.” But he also chose not to tell investors the facts. Brean Capital’s Todd Mitchell says a combination would give AT&T — which has 5.7M video customers on its U-verse platform — “much needed scale in a post Comcast-[Time Warner Cable] world.” But Guggenheim Securities’ Michael Morris says that consolidation is “unlikely in the current environment” because competition “appears to be limiting pricing growth to consumers, likely a positive from a regulatory perspective.”

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Alex Gibney’s ‘Finding Fela’ Docu Acquired By Kino Lorber

By | Wednesday May 7, 2014 @ 8:39am PDT

FindingFelaKino Lorber has landed all north North American rights to Alex Gibney’s Finding Fela, the prolific documentary-maker’s latest film, which had its world premiere at Sundance. The theatrical rollout will begin August 1 at NY’s IFC Center, adding Washington DC the next week and Boston and Atlanta the week after that. In addition, Kino Lorber will book Finding Fela in more than 75 additional markets where Fela!, The Musical, attracted big crowds; it will also screen at Tennessee’s Bonnaroo music fest June 13, where Fela’s son, musician Seun Kuti, will appear for a Q&A and performance.

Related: Alex Gibney To Receive AFI’s 2014 Guggenheim Honors

Finding Fela tells the story of the life of the Nigerian music and political icon  Fela Kuti, whose Afrobeat (a fusion of Jazz, traditional West African rhythms, Funk, Highlife, and psychedelic rock) creation brought audiences closer to his fight against the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and 1980s. He was twice a Presidential candidate in the ’80s, after  his socialist political views led to a government-sanctioned attack on his commune in 1977, which led to his arrest and the death of his  mother. Read More »

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Does AT&T Really Want DirecTV Instead Of Dish Network?

By | Thursday May 1, 2014 @ 10:09am PDT

PdirecTV__130523212608ossibly, but the smart money today is betting that AT&T would prefer Dish. DirecTV shares are up 5.5% in mid-day trading following a Wall Street Journal report that the telco giant initiated conversations about a deal that could be worth $40B. But Dish Network is up even more at 7.5%. “We scratch our heads” at AT&T’s motivation to team with DirecTV because the satellite company “does not have wireless spectrum,” Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker says. She suspects the approach to DirecTV is a way “to perhaps ‘flesh out’ [Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen] to pursue some sort of transaction with Dish.” Guggenheim Partners’ Paul Gallant also says that AT&T would prefer Dish, which has been amassing rights to spectrum in the hope of creating a wireless broadband business. AT&TThat could be important for AT&T because “it is not immediately obvious where new spectrum comes from after the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction in 2015.”

Wunderlich Securities’ Matthew Harrigan believes an AT&T-DirecTV combo makes sense. AT&T’s U-verse has just 5.7M video customers. Teaming with DirecTV, with 20.1M U.S. subs, would “offer a premium demographic national video solution that supports first to market 4K TV capabilities while allowing AT&T’s U-verse plant to be entirely dedicated to broadband.” (Its systems now allocate 15 Mbps to video and 10 Mbps to Internet.) Read More »

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