Listen to (and share) episode 36 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s Executive Editor talks with host David Bloom about Apple’s taxing day on Capitol Hill; whether production tax incentives pay off the way the MPAA says they do; and Marissa Mayer’s big gamble with Yahoo’s $1.1 billion Tumblr acquisition.
Here’s the U.S. trailer for the Edgar Wright-directed The World’s End, the third film that teams him with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Five childhood friends reunite when one of them becomes hellbent on trying a marathon pub crawl in their hometown, 20 years after attempting the last one. But the old stomping grounds have changed — a lot — since they were last there. Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine and Rosamund Pike co-star. Pegg co-wrote the script for the Working Title comedy. Focus Features releases in the U.S. on August 23, a month after the film’s UK debut July 19.
Rachael Harris has signed with ICM Partners. She was with UTA. Harris most recently starred opposite David Spade in the ABC comedy pilot Bad Management, which remains in serious contention for a series pickup. She also recurs on USA drama Suits and did an arc on Fox comedy New Girl. On the feature side, Harris is probably best known for role as Ed Helms’ girlfriend in The Hangover. She also starred in the indie Natural Selection, earning an Independent Spirit Award nomination, as well as the Diary of A Wimpy Kid trilogy. She next will be seen in the Yahoo! comedy series We Need Help opposite Cheryl Hines. Harris is managed by Principato Young Entertainment.
Claire Danes, James Marsden and Sarah Bolger star in the IFC Films drama As Cool As I Am from Wind Dancer Films (Bernie) based on Pete Fromm’s novel. It stars Bolger as a smart young woman who must grow up herself while dealing with her immature parents (Danes and Marsden), who had her when they were teenagers. Thomas Mann co-stars. The pic hits theaters June 7.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer danced on a tightrope this morning as she tried to explain the logic behind her company’s $1.1B agreement to buy social network site Tumblr. She told analysts in a conference call that the companies will work together, but separately. They appeal to different audiences, but she says they can complement each other. And since Yahoo is “all about brands” and advertising, it can gin up sales on Tumblr even though it has a history of being ad averse — and tolerant of porn. “We need to have good tools for targeting” ad messages, Mayer says. While it’s important for Tumblr to be “true to their voice,” the companies can “monetize [it] in a way that’s tasteful” while showing advertisers “the benefits of [Tumblr's young] demographics and the huge volume of users and traffic.” Tumblr’s 26-year-old founder and CEO David Karp — who Mayer called “one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs I’ve ever met” — underscored the cultural differences in a blog post this morning. Promising that “We’re not turning purple,” he ended his brief news announcement saying “fuck yeah.” Mayer vowed to “let Tumblr be Tumblr” operating “under the Tumblr brand and David’s vision” from its base in New York. Yahoo will help with the infrastructure, but won’t put its brand on Tumblr’s site. The connection “will be largely invisible to users.” She says it shouldn’t be hard to gin up ad sales at the social network, which just began to accept them a year ago. “Of the top 10 Hollywood studios, all use Tumblr to promote movies,” she says. “Tumblr views itself as a home for brands.” For example, Yahoo could “work with [Tumblr] bloggers who want ads.” She acknowledges that the businesses have different psychographics — Yahoo audiences are older than those at Tumblr where the average user is 25. “I would expect any ad units that we create [there] would be native and follow the form and function” of the site, Mayer says.
Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business. David Karp will remain CEO. The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.
UPDATE, 1:27 PM: Yahoo‘s spin machine will be hard at work today and tomorrow trying to persuade investors that CEO Marissa Mayer isn’t wildly overpaying for Tumblr. Although the social media service has become red hot — it averages about 75.8M posts a day — it generated just $12M in revenue last year and hopes for $100M this year, Forbes says. CEO David Karp began to sell ads for the site just a year ago. Yahoo has more than enough cash to make the deal. Still, Mayer could use Wall Street’s support for the biggest acquisition that she has made since taking charge in July. Her company’s shares have appreciated about 33% so far this year because Yahoo’s investments in Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba and Yahoo Japan have been doing so well. Sales of display ads, which have been key for Yahoo, continued to disappoint in Q1. Tumblr, whose average user is under 25, could help Yahoo make more connections with young Web users. But it also could complicate Yahoo’s sales message due to Tumblr’s comparatively lax views about hosting porn, BusinessWeek notes.
The talk about Tumblr could eclipse some additional news Yahoo plans to make tomorrow: It has scheduled a press conference to unveil updates to its Flickr photo-sharing service, Bloomberg reports.
UPDATE 10:55 AM: Yahoo board has greenlighted buying the social network in a billion-dollar-plus deal that could be announced as early as tomorrow
Steven Moffat is returning for another Doctor Who season, the BBC officially confirmed today. The current series finale aired tonight ahead of a 50th anniversary special slated for November 23 starring Matt Smith, Jenna-Louise Coleman, David Tennant, Billie Piper, and John Hurt. Moffat “is already plotting a brand new run of adventures for the Doctor,” the network announced on their blog. Brian Minchin will executive produce alongside Moffat.
PREVIOUSLY, WEDNESDAY AM: Time Warner Cable, the country’s No. 2 cable service and a second unidentified pay-TV entity are considering taking a piece of the ad-supported streaming-video service, The Wall Street Journal reports. Slower growth in the pay-TV sector has the NY-based Time Warner Cable paying more attention to its broadband operations lately. Disney, News Corp and Comcast own about a third each of the 6-year-old service, which recently topped the 4 million-subscriber mark. Other groups mulling a stake in Hulu include Yahoo and the Chernin Group, run by ex-News Corp. exec Peter Chernin.
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.”
Magnolia‘s Magnet Releasing has not one, but two morbid anthology series churning out sequels. Its summer found-footage follow-up V/H/S 2 features connected segments by Gareth Huw Evans (The Raid), Simon Barrett (A Horrible Way To Die), Adam Wingard (You’re Next), Edúardo Sanchez (Lovely Molly), Gregg Hale (The Blair Witch Project), Timo Tjahjanto (The ABCs Of Death), and Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun). Pic hits VOD on June 6 and opens July 12. Here’s the redband trailer:
The billionaire founder of hedge fund Third Point startled many in entertainment today with the news that he has paid $1.1B for a 6.4% stake in Sony – and wants the company to create a stock for its movie, TV, and music businesses, selling as much as 20% to the public. But on Wall Street, where Daniel Loeb is an A-list celeb, the big surprises are that he showed any interest in showbiz — and that his language in the letter he sent to Sony was so polite. As a value investor managing more than $13B, Loeb, 51, likes to engage in deep research and then bet on relatively boring companies and assets that others overlook. Third Point’s most recent quarterly investor letter highlights its holdings in International Paper and mortgages, as well as John Malone’s European cable company Liberty Global. Although Loeb was raised in Los Angeles, the son of a lawyer and an historian, he’s known as a New Yorker. He earned an economics degree from Columbia University before he hit Wall Street. After working 12 years for firms including Citibank, Jefferies and Warburg Pincus, he founded Third Point in 1995 with about $3M from family and friends.
2ND UPDATE, 2:15 PM: Sony doesn’t slam the door on Third Point‘s proposal for it to sell up to a 20% stake in its entertainment assets — but doesn’t encourage the idea either. Sony “welcomes investment in the company,” SVP Corporate Communications Shiro Kambe says. But he adds: “We are focused on creating shareholder value by executing on our plan to revitalize and grow the electronics business, while further strengthening the stable business foundations of the entertainment and financial service businesses. As President and CEO Kazuo Hirai has said repeatedly, the entertainment businesses are important contributors to Sony’s growth and are not for sale, and we look forward to continuing a constructive dialogue with our shareholders as we pursue our strategy.”
UPDATE, 10:28 AM: The CBS speculation has taken on new life following this morning’s news that hedge fund Third Point wants the electronics company to create a public stock for its entertainment assets. Third Point proposed that Sony keep at least an 80% stake in the studio and music properties. Still, the plan “will concentrate investor attention” on the businesses and “the synergies that potential acquirers such as CBS might eventually realize,” says Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser — who likes the idea. Sony shares are +10.5% in mid-day trading and CBS is +2.6%. Late last year Sony firmly rejected a sale after CBS’ Les Moonves mused that he “would want to look at them” if the properties were for sale. Sony execs might start to think differently if they take the movie, TV, and music assets public. The stock would give them a clearer sense of how much the properties are worth and, therefore, how much they could collect from a buyer. And Wiser believes that CBS could show that it would do a better job than Sony — which he says “has never bridged a significant cultural gap nor overcome its hierarchical bureaucracy to work better with the U.S.-centered operations.” CBS will be flush with cash soon as it prepares to sell and restructure its billboard ad properties.
About Time stars Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Bill Nighy, Tom Hollander and Margot Robbie and was written and directed by Love Actually‘s Richard Curtis. The Universal/Working Title pic centers on a young man (Gleeson) who learns he can travel through time. But as he finds his true love (McAdams) and sets off on their life together, he discovers his gift has its complications too. The movie’s platform release date is November 1 before going wide the next weekend.
Four days after Summit released the first four minutes of its ensemble heist thriller Now You See Me, another trailer has hit the web. The newest look at Louis Leterrier’s first helming effort since Clash Of The Titans shows a group of Vegas illusionists pulling off a trick that leaves their audience in the money. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Isla Fisher and Mark Ruffalo star in the pic that Lionsgate unleashes May 31:
Media CEOs don’t run their companies by themselves. Having looked at chiefs whose pay is out of whack, and those who are paid the most, here are others of note: the five best compensated company chairs, COOs, CFOs, and General Counsels as well as 10 other execs with standout compensation. We find that the five highest paid chairs collectively made $106.5M (+4.1% vs. 2011), with the COOs at $136.2M (+7.5%), CFOs at $77.9M (-15.0%), and General Counsels at $42M (+6.4%). Keep some caveats in mind with these results: I looked only at chairs who aren’t also CEOs, and there aren’t that many. (To avoid duplication, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collected at CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan received at Cablevision and AMC Networks.) Also, it’s often hard to define the roles that execs play. For example, Disney and Comcast don’t list a COO and Comcast’s CFO is also the Vice Chairman. So these compensation figures from company proxy statements can help you to see how the media power elite stack up, but only tell part of the story. Finally, remember that the SEC requires companies to provide compensation information for their five top executives. It’s safe to assume that several unlisted execs at big companies were paid more than some listed execs at smaller ones. Here’s how some of media’s top non-CEOs fared in 2012:
Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) stars in Fruitvale Station as Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old Bay Area man whose fatal 2009 shooting by Oakland BART police sparked outrage and protests against police brutality. The Weinstein Co. nabbed Ryan Coogler’s directorial debut out of Sundance for $2 million before it won the fest’s U.S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. Now the pic’s set for a July 12 release, eyeing awards season. Check out the trailer:
The latest from Joel and Ethan Coen screens in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off next week. Inside Llewyn Davis stars Oscar Isaac as a singer-songwriter looking for a break in the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene. Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund, Justin Timberlake, F. Murray Abraham, Adam Driver and Alex Karpovsky also star. CBS Films acquired the film in February and has set a December 6 domestic release. Here’s the latest trailer:
A first look at The Butler and the staff that Lee Daniels assembled including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey in her first film since 1998′s Beloved, and Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan which raised plenty of eyebrows and rankles last year. The film tells the story of Eugene Allen (Whitaker), who served eight commanders in chief during his 1952-1986 stint as the White House butler. Daniels wrote the screenplay with Danny Strong, based on Wil Haygood’s 2008 article in The Washington Post. The Weinstein Company releases the drama on October 18: