The ABCs Of Aereo: Streaming Service Wants “Something For Nothing”, Former Top Federal Lawyer Says

By and | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:31pm EDT

Editors Note: This is the second of three Deadline posts that lay out the issues in the Aereo case, which Deadline Legal Editor Dominic Patten will cover from the Supreme Court next week. Today: An interview with former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, who is serving as an adviser to the broadcasters in their case against the streaming service. 

Related: The ABCs Of Aereo: What Is Aereo And Why Are Broadcasters Taking It To The Supreme Court?

On April 22, Aereo and major broadcastersAereo case will have their day in the Supreme Court. Broadcasters will say Aereo is stealing their copyrighted material, end of story. The Barry Diller-backed streaming service that launched in early 2012 will say it merely rents antennas to consumers so they can watch TV that’s already available for free over the public airwaves. Both sides will be represented by lawyers who know the Supreme Court well. David Frederick of D.C. firm Kellog Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel LLP has more than 40 SCOTUS appearances notched on his belt and will handle defendant Aereo’s arguments. Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who has argued more 70 cases before the high court, will represent Disney, CBS, NBCUniversal, Fox and the other plaintiffs. He will have a half hour to make his points, unless the Justices give 10 minutes to the current Solicitor General’s office to argue on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Here’s the broadcasters’ argument from Neal Katyal, now a partner at international firm Hogan Lovells, who was picked by President Obama to serve as Acting Solicitor General from May 2010-June 9, 2011.

Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing On Enemy CombatantsDEADLINE: So, let’s cut to the chase — what is this case really about?
KATYAL: I certainly think that streaming of the broadcasters’ signals is retransmission and blatantly violates the Copyright Law. Our case is can a company come along and yank broadcast signals out of the air and then package them and sell them to individual subscribers for a fee when the producers of that content aren’t compensated for it? The networks each year spend billions of dollars creating, producing, acquiring and distributing and marketing their content. Aereo is yanking the signals out of the air and selling them to people. So that’s what the case is about.

Related: Aereo Slammed One Last Time By Broadcasters Before SCOTUS Hearing

DEADLINE: Aereo would say that it complies with the Copyright Act and that broadcasters are trying to stem the use of innovative technology and stop the future from happening.
KATYAL: I think this idea that Aereo has some innovative new technology is an absolute red herring. The only thing innovative about Aereo is its legal strategy. It’s not people capturing the signal, its Aereo capturing the signal through antenna and then selling it to the entire American public and it’s Aereo who’s violating the Copyright Law by doing that. What Aereo is doing is grabbing the broadcasters’ signal from the air and then they’re retransmitting it. In 1976 Congress expressly said any device or process that retransmits a broadcast signal without the copyright holder’s permission is unlawful. So to me this is one of the easiest cases the Supreme Court is going to decide this year because it’s something that Congress settled. There maybe a number of interesting policy arguments about how we should have a different Copyright Law, but with respect to the Copyright Law we do have, it’s a very hard argument for Aereo. Read More »

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Dakota Pictures Taps Pair Of VPs, Director Of Development

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 7:08pm PDT

CorbinChristos Sourligas photoThe Hollywood-based TV and film production company has tapped Christos Sourligas as VP Distribution, Corbin B. Larson as VP Production and Serena Turner as Director of Development. Sourligas will oversee serenatheatrical and television acquisitions and distribution for Dakota Pictures. He has worked for some of Canada’s largest comedy producers including Encore Television, Dakota’s Canadian partner, along with Quebecomm and the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Larson will supervise the development and production of the company’s TV and film projects. His credits include producing FX’s Brand X With Russell Brand and the upcoming Hulu series Deadbeat and serving as AD on the features Life Happens and Little Birds. Turner, who also has worked on Deadbeat and Brand X, will work on developing TV and film programming and oversee program creation at Dakota. “This talent trifecta will spark a creative revolution for Dakota Pictures,” company founder Troy Miller said in a statement. “The collective strength of Christos, Corbin and Serena has already begun to generate new partnerships to further expand the company’s production slate.”

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IRS Says CBS Can Convert Billboard Business Into Real Estate Investment Trust

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 3:04pm EDT

CBSOutdoorCBS shares are up 1.6% while CBS Outdoor Americas — the billboard company that the broadcaster spun off earlier this month — is up 6% following the ruling. It means that CBS can save a bundle on taxes later this year when it unloads the 81% interest it still has in the outdoor business.  “CBS Outdoor’s conversion into a REIT will unlock its true value, and the completion of our Outdoor initiatives will enhance our ability to return capital to our shareholders,” CEO Les Moonves says. “We’re very pleased with the way CBS Outdoor has launched as a public company, and with this favorable IRS ruling, we look forward to great success in the future.”

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Pivot Picks Up Sky Series ‘Fortitude’, Sets Development Slate, Revamps ‘TakePart Live’

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 9:02am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

pivotParticipant Media‘s network Pivot today announced the pickup of Sky Atlantic’s 12-episode drama series Fortitude starring Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon. The series became available in the U.S. in December when Starz, which originally had committed to the project, pulled out. Pivot is designed as a younger skewing network than Starz, with its target demo being 18-34. As part of its upfront presentation, Pivot also announced an overhaul of its nightly topical series, TakePart Live. Beginning Monday, May 12, the hour-long late-night program will move to primetime (10 PM) with a new producer, Michael Davies’ Embassy Row, which is behind Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and AMC’s Talking Dead/Bad. Also undergoing makeover is the hosting team of Jacob Soboroff and Cara Santa Maria, with only Soboroff coming back, joined by Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain and comedian Eddie Huang.

Pivot also unveiled a development slate that includes eleven projects from production companies including IAC’s Electus, Universal Cable Prods., FremantleMedia North America/Pukeko Pictures, Funny or Die, and Eyeworks, and revealed premiere 2014-15 dates, including an August 8 debut for the sophomore season of coming-of-age comedy, Please Like Me, and the comedy Human Resources. “Our second slate demonstrates our significant investment in, and commitment to, groundbreaking content for the thought-leading segment of Generation Y we call ‘Upstanders,’” said Pivot president Evan Shapiro. Here is Pivot’s full slate: Read More »

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UPDATE: Yahoo Stock Rises After Hours Following Q1 Sales Gains

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 3:15pm PDT

Yahoo_logonewUPDATE, 3:15 PM: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was bullish on the sales gains and talked up the company’s results in four key investment businesses: mobile, video, native and social, with 98% ad growth year over year. (Mayer said mobile was the most important of those pillars, by the way.) Alibaba, meanwhile, remained a hot topic after the Chinese e-commerce company reported 66% sales growth — a major catalyst on the sales side but still a bit of a mystery to U.S. investors who will get more of a peek under the hood once it starts trading on the NYSE. An institutional investor asked what Yahoo expects to do with the potential $12B windfall from an Alibaba IPO, and Mayer answered that the company would remain a “good steward of our capital.” No word on further original content deals, other than Mayer saying expect more of the same mix of deals between tuck-in and outright acquisitions.

PREVIOUS, 1:55 PM: Yahoo shares bumped up in after-hours trading after the Web giant reported its first sales gains in more than a year. The news comes as the company reported revenue of $1.09B during the quarter, better than the $1.08B analysts expected and up from $1.07B a year ago. Net income was $311.6M, down from $390.3M year-over-year. Profit came in at 38 cents a share, a penny better than estimates. The big reason for optimism though were the sales gains: the company said it … Read More »

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UPDATE: MGM & Bond Producer Slam Universal In Latest ‘Section 6′ Lawsuit Action

By | Monday April 14, 2014 @ 4:14pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEUPDATED, 4:10 PM: The Section 6 lawsuit that sees two studios pitted against each other is starting to move faster than the opening sequence of a James Bond movie. Just three days after Universal responded to the multi-claim complaint from MGM and Bond producer Danjaq, the plaintiff today fired back with a response to the response. “Defendants thus admit that they not only have no plans to stop their infringing conduct, but that they are forging ahead—right now,” says today’s 4-page filing in federal court (read it here). “Even worse, as Universal knows from public reports, plaintiffs are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the next James Bond motion picture,Universal-Pictures-logo-2013__140130232555__140321183123-275x141__140404181950 slated for theatrical release in October 2015 and home video release in early 2016,” the filing adds. On April 3, MGM and Danjaq hit Universal with a complaint for unspecified damages and an injunction against the announced Aaron Berg-written World War I spy drama. The plaintiffs charged that mgm__130913144151-200x137__131115203538Section 6 was a rip-off of the James Bond properties, which they own. On April 11, Universal claimed in a filed of its own that the film was not even greenlighted and was still in the very early stages of development and did not infringe on the Bond copyright at all when the script was in its final form. “In essence, Universal’s response is to claim: ‘Just trust us, we’re trying to fix it. But it will take time.,’” the filing says. “That is no basis for Universal to avoid the targeted discovery plaintiffs seek. Without that expedited discovery, any attempt by plaintiffs to obtain preliminary relief would be tantamount to shooting at a moving target. The Court cannot possibly ascertain the status quo under such circumstances, let alone fashion appropriate relief to address it.” Judge Dean D. Pregerson will have to weigh in on this soon, but it sounds like both studios can use an M to separate them in this you said/I said schoolyard brawl.

PREVIOUSLY, 10:39 AM: Looks like Universal have brought their own legal license to kill on board in the Section 6 lawsuit with MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq — in more ways than one. Just over a week after being hit by a multi-claim copyright infringement suit by the duo, the studio has responded and they’ve brought a top operative in Bert Fields to handle things for them. Read More »

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BOX OFFICE FINAL: ‘Captain America 2′ Tally $41.2M, ‘Rio 2′ Runs Afowl With $39.3M, ‘Oculus’ $12M Over Disappointing Opener ‘Draft Day’ With Only $9.7M

OPENING: Rio 2 (FOX) on Friday was expected to fly to No. 1 for $43.9M to $44.3M (Fox was the only one to predict $45M), then Saturday got its wings clipped by Captain America: The Winter Soldier and ended at $39.3M, Oculus (REL) was expected to scare up $12M to $12.8M for third spot and ended up at $12M; Draft Day (LGF) on Fri. was second round pick for $10.9M (although Summit estimated lower $10.5M) and ended the weekend with $9.7M. NOTEWORTHY: Captain America 2 (DIS) expected to fall 56% in second weekend but will take No. 1 with $40.5M to $41.4M to end the 3-day with $41.2M.

BoxOffice_logo__131122164403-275x206UPDATED, MONDAY, 3:37 PM:  Rio 2 opened to $39.3M right in line with the first film which opened in 2011 to $39.2M. That hurts, but overseas, the film has already grossed $63.4M, so it has already pulled in over $100M worldwide and it should get some decent multiples as there is really nothing standing in its way for some weeks to come … well, there is the long- in-release Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Muppets Most Wanted. But for the sequel not to surge past the first film, something went a little haywire. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the champ again this weekend and the final tally ended up at $41.2M but next weekend, it has competition when Warner Bros. opens the Johnny Depp sci-fi thriller Transcendence. The big disappointment of the weekend was the Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner football feature Draft Day (LGF). It took in only $9.7M. That’s three in a row for Costner that really didn’t thrill audiences — behind 3 Days To Kill and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, although the criticism for that film really was directed at Chris Pine not being a strong enough lead. Regardless, it’s too bad for all involved. Oculus, despite its C CinemaScore, was able to pull in $12M for the weekend which served Relativity well. Noah also bypassed Divergent to step into the Top Five. Read More »

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UPDATE: Maker Studios Rejects Relativity’s Acquisition Offer Saying It Has A Done Deal With Disney

By | Monday April 14, 2014 @ 5:00pm EDT

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UPDATED: Maker says Relativity is too late. The online studio’s deal with Disney “has been approved by Maker Studios’ Board of Directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.” Oh, it also notes that the effort to block he deal in court “was denied today by The Superior Court of California; County of Los Angeles, Central District.” Relativity responds that it “made a compelling offer” and will “continue to aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution.”

PREVIOUS, 8:58 AM: Is $1B in stock from Relativity worth more than $950M in cash from Disney? That’s the proposition Relativity is offering online multichannel company Maker Studios today. It sent a letter of intent last night that it says “is superior to the current offer from Walt Disney” that the Maker board accepted last month. The plan developed with help from Jefferies and Barclays includes $500M in Relativity shares, $400M in stock when Maker hits “certain financial milestones,” plus $100M in stock to go to “key talent and executives” who also “are not existing stockholders of the Company.” Relativity says that both it and Maker “are natural partners” because both “share a commitment to challenging the status quo, Relativity_newlogobreaking down old models that don’t work and inventing new ones that do.” Disney believes that the deal it struck with Maker last month — $500M upfront and $450M with milestones — is binding, so we’ll see where this goes.

The proposal does not appear to be directly related to an effort by former Maker execs including co-founder Danny Zapplin to persuade the LA Superior Court to block the deal with Disney. The application for a temporary restraining order wants to put things on hold while the plaintiffs try to demonstrate that  current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” Disney isn’t named as a defendant in the matter. Read More »

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Leslie Moonves Talks New ‘Late Show’ Host Deal, Says Program “More Than Likely” Will Stay On East Coast: Video

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 7:42am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

late-show-with-colbert-logo_While watching the Final Four in the NCAA championship in Dallas last weekend, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves was on the phone working on Stephen Colbert‘s deal to succeed David Letterman as Late Show host. That’s how quickly CBS brass settled on Colbert as a replacement after Letterman announced his retirement last Thursday. “There were other good candidates but he stood out, we knew he would be the greatest replacement for David we could ever get,” Moonves told CBS’ The Early Show this morning (see the clip below). ”And when I called Dave to ask for his blessing he said exactly the same thing. He said I can’t think of anybody even a close second.” Moonves also revealed Colbert’s reaction to the news he had been chosen for the job. “He kept thanking me for this opportunity and telling me he wouldn’t let me down.”

Related: Leslie Moonves Takes ‘Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ Victory Lap

Moonves indicated the transition — he called it “once-in-a-generation change” –  will likely happen after the end of next season, saying that Letterman will stay on for “at least another year.” As for where the show will be based, Moonves noted that Colbert is a New Yorker, so “it is more than likely it will be on the East Coast.” The network has been the subject of Read More »

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Disney’s Maker Studios Purchase Threatened By Ex-CEO’s Legal Action

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 1:37pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEDisney’s proposed $500 million plus purchase of Maker Studios may have a problem from the past. The former CEO of the multichannel YouTube network wants a California judge to issue a temporary restring order against the planned vote next week on the big ticket merger. “Permitting the April 15, 2014 vote on the Merger to proceed without requiring additional disclosures would makerstudios__140311194353-275x177irreparably harm Plaintiffs, as well as Maker shareholders, because it would deprive them of the opportunity to make an informed vote in the Merger,” says the redacted and previously sealed application, filed yesterday in LA Superior Court by co-founder Danny Zapplin and three other former Maker execs. The TRO application alleges that something has to be done before it “will be too late” because current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” The application to Judge Elihu Berle became public today. Disney is not named as a defendant in the matter.
Read More »

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Rupert Murdoch Talks About Succession, Politics, And His Greatest “Screwup”: Fortune

murdoch-rupertRupert Murdoch is all over Twitter. (“My family are horrified that I’m on it,” he says.) But in agreeing to sit down for a broad interview with Fortune, one of the media industry’s most powerful moguls signals that he’s finally ready to return in a serious way to the public stage that he has largely abandoned as he grappled with his UK hacking scandals and a bitter divorce, as well as uncertainty about the prospects for his media empire — which he split into two companies last year — and his succession plans. You should check out the piece by senior editor-at-large Pattie Sellers. Here are a few of the highlights:

Related: Rupert Murdoch Says There May Be Multiple ‘Avatar’ Sequels: Fortune

Succession: His sons James and Lachlan are first in line to take over although “I’m going to be here for a long time. And so will [Fox COO] Chase Carey and [News Corp CEO]  Robert Thomson.” murdochsThe effort to bring Lachlan back intensified after a private meeting with James at last year’s Allen & Co confab in Sun Valley. “We had two or three hours together. Lachlan was not not going to come back. It was a question of how we would work together.”

Related: Lachlan And James Murdoch Given Big New Roles At News Corp

Daughter Liz Murdoch’s decision not to join the News Corp board: Rupert says he’d “rather not go into that.” A lot of close families “have good arguments. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.” And it’s “more than possible” that she’ll return to the family business.

Who’ll be the GOP’s 2016 presidential candidate: Murdoch says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is “my number one” calling him “a man of very fine character.” He also has “particular admiration” for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “could recover” from inquiries into his possible role in manufactured traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Murdoch agrees with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on “a great number of things” but disagrees on foreign policy “too strongly perhaps to vote for him.”

His view of Hillary Clinton: He left open the possibility of supporting her but “it would depend on the Republican candidate totally.” He adds that he “could live with Hillary as President. We have to live with who we get. We don’t have any choice.” Read More »

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‘Twilight Saga’ Financier Goldcrest Sues Summit For Millions Owed In Revenue

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 4:06pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEThe Twilight Saga films may be over, but the battle for money from the blockbuster franchise is not. Financier Goldcrest Film Distribution hit Summit today with a multimillion-dollar breach of contract lawsuit (read it here) over the movies. “As a direct result of Defendant’s deceptive accounting practices in which it systematically understates the Twilight revenues and imgresoverstates its costs, however, Goldcrest has received many millions of dollars less than it is due,” says the heavily redacted document filed today in LA Superior Court. The plaintiff says they are trying “to recover several million dollars in payments” from the more than $392 million that the first Twilight made worldwide. In a 2008 sub-distribution deal Goldcrest says in the filing it agreed to front Summit and others $10 million for four films based on the bestselling vampire books by Stephenie Meyer. For the upfront payment, the London-based financier was to get a hefty slice of the pics’ global net revenue.

Obviously that didn’t happen to Goldcrest’s satisfaction with what they allege are fast and loose moves on the part of Summit, now a Lionsgate subsidiary. “We uncovered numerous improper accounting charges, including retroactive ‘bonuses’ paid to actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson after Twilight was released, which were not due under their agreements. These bonuses were paid and charged back to Goldcrest long after Twilight was completed,” said Goldcrest attorney Mark Holscher of Kirkland & Ellis in a statement … Read More »

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Brie Larson Enters Lenny Abrahamson’s Captivity Drama ‘Room’

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 10:49am PDT

brie larsonEXCLUSIVE: Spirit Award-nominated Brie Larson has boarded indie drama Room, directed by Lenny Abrahamson. She’ll star as Ma, a woman kidnapped as a teenager who has been held captive for years in a tiny room where she lives with her 5-year-old son Jack. To the boy, Room is the only home he’s ever known. Emma Donoghue adapted the script from her own 2010 bestseller which was itself partially inspired by the 2008 case of Austrian woman Elisabeth Fritzl, who escaped from a basement after a 24-year captivity during which she gave birth to seven children. Larsen is coming off of her award-winning central turn in last year’s Short Term 12. She’ll next be seen in Paramount’s upcoming The Gambler opposite Mark Wahlberg, Judd Apatow’s Trainwrecked, and DreamWorks’ The Good Luck Of Right Now. Room is produced by Ed Guiney for his Irish shingle Element Pictures. Larson is repped by The Gersh Agency and Authentic Talent & Literary Management. UTA reps Donoghue and the film and is putting financing together alongside Element.

Related: Lenny Abrahamson To Helm Adaptation Of Best-Seller ‘Room’

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UPDATE: CNBC Orders More ‘The Profit’, Beefs Up Reality Slate; ‘Restaurant Kickstart’ Looks “Under The Hood”

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 11:40am PDT

cnbclogoUPDATE, 11:40 AM: One of CNBC‘s new series Restaurant Kickstart adds to the business network’s roster of reality-competition fare. Debuting in July, it follows wannabe restaurateurs launching pop-up establishments with $7,500 in seed money, on Melrose Avenue. Start-ups, chef and co-star Tim Love said today at the network’s NBC Press Day panel, are getting to be “more and more focused,” he said, citing The Meatball Shops that have opened up around New York, and one of this show’s would-be restaurateurs who wanted to serve all her meals in waffle cones — “she thinks that’s the next big thing,” he said. In this new program, competitors must create and open a pop-up restaurant almost overnight. Love and show host Joe Bastianich then decide, based on the results, whether to invest more heavily in the entrepreneur. Unlike the pantheon of food competition series on TV these days, “it’s not a restaurant show — it’s an investment show,” Love insisted. “It really looks under the hood,” chimed in exec producer Eden Gaha.

PREVIOUS, 8:51 AM: Coming off its best quarter among adults 25-54 in more than a decade, CNBC today announced an extended order of episodes for Season 2 of The Profit. The series, which airs Tuesdays at 10 PM, follows serial entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis who saves struggling businesses while investing his own cash in the process. Last Tuesday’s episode of The Profit was the most-watched original series telecast ever for the network among P25-54 and total viewers. And among P25-54, season two is up +115% from last year’s first season. CNBC added eight additional episodes to season two for a total of 16 one-hour episodes. The additional episodes, which have yet to be shot, will air in October. The Profit is produced by Machete Productions with Amber Mazzola as executive producer. The network also greenlit two new primetime summer series, Restaurant Kickstart with restaurateur Joe Bastianich, and celebrity chef, Tim Love set for July; and Filthy Rich Guide to debut in August. In addition, CNBC unveiled three series in development: Restaurant Confidential: New York (working title), Hard Money (working title) and More Money More Problems (working title). The announcements were made today by Jim Ackerman, SVP, Primetime Alternative, CNBC. Here are descriptions of the new greenlit series and projects in development: Read More »

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Shorty Awards Winners Announced

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 8:52pm PDT

Jerry Seinfeld, Aaron Paul and Batkid were among the big winners tonight as the 6th annual Shorty Awards for the best in social media were handed out in New York. The trophy show, which this year added a category for best Vine video, honors various online video, business, entertainment, journalism and social-media stars. Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee was voted best web show, while Paul was tapped as favorite actor Parks And Recreation‘s Retta took the actress prize. Other winners included Patton Oswalt, Paul Feig and Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson. Will Ferrell picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award. Here’s Seinfeld’s taped acceptance speech. The full list of winners is after the jump:

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BOX OFFICE FINAL: ‘Captain America’ Smashes April Opening Record With Estimated $95M For Disney/Marvel, Includes $10.2M Thursday Previews; Year Up 6.8%, Weekend Ahead 23% From 2013

OPENING: Captain America: The Winter Soldier (DIS), smashes April opening records with estimated $95M to $96.2M opening and ended up at $95M.

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UPDATED, MONDAY, 1:00 PM: Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘s final numbers are in, and it’s on the low end of the estimate to $95M with international numbers still coming in. But what a huge start overseas: The Disney/Marvel franchise has commanded an estimated international cume of $207.1M, with $32.9M coming this weekend from China alone. So worldwide, it already has grossed $302.1M to date. It’s about 47% ahead of the first Captain America, which made $193.9M overseas and ended its run with $370.5M worldwide in 2011.

Domestically, it should be clear sailing next weekend for Captain America as bowing will be the animated kid’s fare Rio 2 From Fox, which has already hit overseas markets to gross $55.4M. It hasn’t swung into China or Mexico yet. The first Rio made $143M domestically and $484.6M worldwide in 2011. But family audiences are growing weary of both Muppets Most Wanted and Mr. Peabody & Sherman, which have been in the marketplace for three and five weeks, respectively, so its prime time to come out with another family film. In addition, Lionsgate Films’ opens in wide release the Ivan Reitman-directed Draft Daystarring Kevin Costner, who must be exhausted from the number of press junkets he’s had to go through this year with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, 3 Days to Kill and now Draft Day. Blumhouse Prods’ horror flick Oculus from Relativity hopes to mirror the success of Evil DeadOculus premiered at Toronto while Evil Dead also went the festival circuit last year at SXSW before bowing in April. In limited release from The Weinstein Company will be opening the Colin Firth-Nicole Kidman starrer Railway Man, the WWII film based on the Eric Lomax’s best-selling book.

1). Captain America: The Winter Soldier (DIS), 3,938 theaters / 3-day cume: $95M ($10.2M from previews) / Per screen average: $24,129 / Wk 1

2). Noah (PAR), 3,571 theaters (+4) / 3-day cume: $17M (-61%) / Per screen average: $4,773 / Total cume: $72.3M / Wk 2

3). Divergent (LGF), 3,631 theaters (-305) / 3-day cume: $12.9M (-49%) /Per screen average: $3,573 /  Total cume: $114M / Wk 3

4). God’s Not Dead (FREE), 1,758 theaters (+580) / 3-day cume: $7.7M (-12%) / Per screen average: $4,416 / Total cume: $32.5M / Wk 3

5). Muppets Most Wanted (DIS), 3,052 theaters (-142) / 3-day cume: $6.1M (-46%) / Per screen average: $2,014 / Total Cume: $42M / Wk 3

6). The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL), 1,263 theaters (+286) / 3-day cume: $6.1M (-28%) / Per screen average: $4,842 / Total cume: $33.19M / Wk 5

7). Mr. Peabody And Sherman (FOX), 2,931 theaters (-368) / 3-day cume: $5.1M (-43%) / Per screen average: $1,751 / Total cume: $102M / Wk 5

8). Sabotage (OPRD), 2,486 theaters / 3-day cume: $1.9M (-62%) / Per screen average: $2,486 / Total cume: $8.8M / Wk 2

9). Need for Speed (DIS), 1779 theaters (-926) /3-day cume: $1.8M (-57%) / Per screen average: $1,016 / Total cume: $40.8M / WK 4

10). Non-Stop (UNI), 2,515 theaters (-430) / 3-day cume: $1.7M (-55%) / Per screen average: $1,040 /  Total cume: $88.1M / Wk 6 Read More »

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Studios Slam Megaupload With Mega-Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

DJP LEGAL BADGEOver two years since notorious cyberlocker Megaupload was shut down on January 19, 2012, Hollywood today has gone on the legal offensive. Disney, 20th Century Fox Film, Paramount Pictures, Universal, Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. today filed a mega-lawsuit against the site and its principals in federal court in Virginia (read it here). Alleging that the site infringed upon “thousands of plaintiffs’ Megaupload__130307174948-200x117__130826113534copyrighted works,” the studios and the MPAA are seeking million in damages from the profits Megaupload made off their copyrighted material or “the maximum statutory damages, in the amount of $150,000 per infringement,” as the 21-page complaint says. All of which means potential billions and billions.

“Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. According to the government’s indictment, the site reported more than $175 million in criminal proceeds and cost U.S. copyright owners more than half a billion dollars,” said the MPAA’s  SEVP and Global General Counsel Steven Fabrizio today. “Megaupload — and sites like it that are built on stolen works — damage the consumer experience online and undermine the creators who don’t get compensated for their work,” he added. This case starts up as the Department of Justice case against Megaupload and its New Zealand-based founder Kim DotCom, who is among the defendants here, languishes in the courts. Since … Read More »

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Xbox Entertainment Studios Partners With Channel 4 For Drama Series ‘Humans’

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 1:05am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

real-humans41In what marks the first official scripted series green light for Xbox Entertainment Studios, the entertainment arm of Microsoft’s XBox has teamed with UK broadcaster Channel 4  to co-produce Humans. The drama, which has received an eight-episode order, hails from UK production company, Kudos (Broadchurch), which has been developing the project, an adaptation of Swedish series Real Humans (watch trailer below), for more than three years. Humans will begin production in the summer for a premiere on the Xbox platform in North America and Channel 4 in the UK in 2015. Read More »

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Specialty Box Office: Scarlett Johansson Reigns With Sci-Fier ‘Under The Skin’

By | Sunday April 6, 2014 @ 9:51am PDT

Specialty Box OfficeUPDATED: Boasting a bankable Hollywood star in a decidedly unconventional narrative, Jonathan Glazer’s stunning Under The Skin starring Scarlett Johansson (who also stars in this weekend’s fellow opener Captain America 2) proved a winning mix in the Specialty Box Office for distributor A24 in its opening weekend. The film, Glazer’s first in 10 years, grossed a robust $140K in four L.A. and NYC theaters. That comes in at a $35K screen average, easily the biggest since the The Grand Budapest Hotel‘s bombshell $202K PTA when it opened March 9. Scarlett Johansson Under the SkinUnder The Skin‘s initial numbers also bode well for A24, which opened in 2012 and had a streak of box office successes over last year, including Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers, which had an $87,667 PTA when it opened last March ($14.1M cume), The Spectacular Now ($49,354 PTA in 4 theaters last August and a $6.85M cume), The Bling Ring ($42,879 PTA in 5 theaters last June and a $5.8M cume) and Ginger & Rosa ($14,279 PTA in 3 theaters in March 2012, $1M cume).

Said A24 this weekend: “[Under The Skin] opened to rave reviews and sold out shows in New York and Los Angeles this weekend. This unique cinematic event is second only to The Grand Budapest Hotel as the highest limited specialized film opening of the year. Scarlett Johannson, who stars in both Under The Skin and the Captain America sequel, was a box office star this weekend dominating the box office with Captain America and Under The Skin having the highest per screen average in the country.”

A24 noted that the title, which it acquired out of Toronto last year, is “an art movie that people are embracing.” A spokesperson told me Sunday that they “couldn’t sell more tickets” at its showing in New York’s Union Square. Read More »

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