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MPAA Taps Joanna McIntosh To Oversee Global Policy

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 6:53am PDT

MPAA Taps Joanna McIntosh To Oversee Global PolicyJoanna McIntosh comes to the EVP for Global Policy and External Affairs job from Verizon, where she was VP Federal Government Relations. Prior to that she was involved in international affairs as General Counsel of the 2004 G8 Summit, director of the Markle Foundation, and VP International Relations for AT&T.

“With her extensive experience in working with the private sector and government agencies and strong legal background, she has demonstrated the kinds of skills that we believe are needed to help guide the MPAA both here in the United States and around the world,” said MPAA CEO Chris Dodd. “As movie and television content is increasingly enjoyed over the Internet through an exponentially broadening range of services, her experience with supporting communications technologies and platforms will complement the deep pool of talent at the MPAA.”

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MPAA’s Top Lobbyist Michael O’Leary Exiting

By | Wednesday June 18, 2014 @ 10:47am PDT

MPAA’s Top Lobbyist Michael O’Leary ExitingMichael O’Leary, Senior EVP for Global Policy and External Affairs at the MPAA, will exit at the end of June, staying on as an an adviser during the transition. O’Leary joined the Hollywood lobby group in 2005 and was promoted to his current position in 2011. He was also on the MPAA Board Of Directors, and helped build the organization’s domestic lobby team in Washington DC. Prior to joining, he was deputy chief for intellectual property in the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Tech Activists Protest SOPA And PIPA BillsDuring O’Leary’s tenure the MPAA led the fight for two highly controversial anti-piracy bills known as Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). Entertainment and media companies pushed the bills hard, but their prospects collapsed in the face of vociferous opposition online and off organized by the tech industry and privacy advocates. SOPA would have enabled the government to block overseas websites that traffic in copyright-infringing content.


O’Leary also helped the effort that led China to increase its quota on movie imports to 34 from 20. In addition, he was instrumental in securing federal and state tax incentives to keep TV and film production in the U.S.

“Having accomplished most of my goals at the MPAA, I am excited to move onto new career challenges,” O’Leary says. He plans to “take some time in deciding on his next endeavor,” the trade group says.

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North Carolina Senate OKs Deep Cuts In State’s Production Tax Credits

By | Thursday June 5, 2014 @ 5:18pm PDT

North Carolina flag The North Carolina state Senate voted today to approve a sharply diminished form of the state’s film tax incentives, which would slash funding for the program by two-thirds. The Tar Heel State’s current program, which has been beset by allegations of abuse, expires at the end of the year, and a proposed extension was facing an uphill political battle, with Gov. Pat McCrory calling for deep cuts in the program. On Thursday, the state Senate approved a proposal that would turn the incentives program into a grant program and substantially reduce its state funding, with a $20 million annual budget compared with $60 million last year. Legislators in the state’s House of Representatives, meanwhile, are pushing to extend the incentives as-is for another year. A final deal would have to be worked out by both chambers of the legislature and then signed by the governor.

Related: Where Hollywood’s Union Jobs Are Going

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MPAA Lobbies The Feds: Aerial Drone Cameras Are “Safer Option For Filming”

By | Monday June 2, 2014 @ 3:21pm PDT

Federal law prohibits the use of unmanned camera platforms, but the MPAA wants that to change. The group today joined seven aerial photo and video production companies in asking the Drone ImageFAA for a regulatory exemption to allow the use of drones in the production of films and TV shows. “Unmanned aircraft systems offer the motion picture and television industry an innovative and safer option for filming,” said Neil Fried, the MPAA’s SVP Government and Regulatory Affairs. “This new tool for storytellers will allow for creative and exciting aerial shots and is the latest in a myriad of new technologies being used by our industry to further enhance the viewer experience.” Unmanned aerial cameras are legal elsewhere in the world; drones were used extensively in New Zealand during production of the Lord of the Rings series, for example. Although the use of drones would result in some job losses for helicopter and airplane pilots and crews, it also would be one less reason for producers to leave the U.S. to shoot overseas where drone camerawork is allowed.

Related: Helicopter Crashes Have Taken Most Lives On TV & Film Sets

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Eva Green’s ‘Sin City’ Poster Too Sexy For The MPAA

By | Thursday May 29, 2014 @ 10:59am PDT

Apparently it’s a little sin city eva green poster (1)too risqué for the MPAA. The Hollywood studios’ trade group has voiced its disapproval of the poster for the upcoming sequel Sin City: A Dame To Kill For that features Eva Green draped in a strategically placed sheer white gown. We’re told it was nixed “for nudity — curve of under breast and dark nipple/areola circle visible through sheer gown.” It’s not unusual for the MPAA to weigh in this way, and we hear the association is working on a compromise with the filmmakers. Dimension Films had no comment but confirmed that the poster was being reworked. Frank Miller’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For opens August 22.

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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 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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CinemaCon: MPAA’s 2014 Report Good News For Overseas: Slideshow

By | Tuesday March 25, 2014 @ 3:46pm PDT

CinemaCon2014_badgeOverseas markets, and especially Asia, provided most of the good news for Hollywood in 2013 — a year when global box office sales increased 4% to $35.9B — according to the MPAA‘s annual Theatrical Market Statistics report released today at the CinemaCon confab in Las Vegas. But domestic theater owners have less to cheer as attendance in the U.S. and Canada slid a hair vs 2012, but rising ticket prices contributed to a 1% uptick in sales to $10.9B. Here’s how some of the results look – click on thumbnails below to launch the slideshow: Read More »

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CinemaCon: Chris Dodd And John Fithian Discuss Texting, 3D, And The Near-End Of Celluloid Prints

By | Tuesday March 25, 2014 @ 3:17pm PDT

CinemaCon2014_badgeExhibition execs face several controversial matters, but “there’s peace in the homeland” in their relationships with studios, NATO‘s John Fithian said in his annual joint press meeting with MPAA‘s Chris Dodd at the CinemaCon confab. The lobby group heads always emphasize the positive, but this time Fithian sounds like he means it. He acknowledged that there’s been a friction in previous years — especially 2011 when there was what he calls a “very public food fight” over how quickly studios can CinemaCon 2014 - The State Of The Industry: Past, Present And Future And Universal Studios Presentationrelease their films on home video. But now “we’re working together instead of fighting. …Since then it’s been dialogue and cooperation.” Dodd says his MPAA members agree that “the best experience for their product is in the theater.”

On one hot-button issue, texting in theaters, Fithian says that his members “have conversations every week” about whether to allow it under certain circumstances. But it’s unlikely that anything will change soon. When some execs said here two years ago that they’re looking at the matter, “They got barraged from moviegoers saying, ‘that is my last refuge of peace.’…Then the 17 year olds respond and say, ‘we have to be connected.’ ” The sense, for now, is that “the vast majority of our consumers go to the cinema to escape” with many looking at moviegoing as “a quasi-religious experience.” But Fithian says “it’ll be an evolving space. Let’s leave it there.”

Related: CinemaCon: MPAA’s 2014 Report Good News For Overseas: Slideshow

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CinemaCon: Chris Dodd Talks Up Global Sales And Continuing Need To Fight Piracy

By | Tuesday March 25, 2014 @ 11:06am PDT

CinemaCon2014_badgeThese are old themes for the MPAA chief, but he had some fresh data to support his case in his presentation at CinemaCon this morning. He says that box office in China soared to $3.6B in 2013, a year when sales in the U.S. and Canada hit $10.9B (+1%) and overseas hit $25B (+4.6%). Chris Dodd says that 13 new screens are opening each day in China and cited rapid growth of modern theaters in countries such as Cambodia and chris_doddPakistan. He also said that he has lost none of his zeal to fight piracy globally. It “is today, and shall remain as long as I have this job, a top priority.” He thanked theater owners for helping to crack down on the illegal use of camcorders. “The good news is we are making some progress.” He adds, though, that the industry has to see technology as “our friend and not our foe. … The most frequent moviegoers tend to own more technological devices than the population at large.” Read More »

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WGA West Rejects MPAA’s “Unreasonable” Approach To Copyright Infringement

By | Thursday January 30, 2014 @ 5:23pm PST

wgaw__130208220853-200x112__130701180057__130917230333__130920203125Looks like not everyone in Hollywood is on the same page when it comes to combating copyright infringement. Specifically, the Writers Guild of America West thinks that the multimillion-dollar damages the Motion Picture Association of America wants extracted from file-sharing sites “has little additional deterrent effect” and “high statutory penalties are not only often unreasonable but unpayable.” The strong comments from the WGAW comes in a submission the guild made on January 17 (read it here) to the Commerce Department on its paper on Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Digital Economy. Citing that “television and film are controlled by a handful of media companies who decide what content consumers have access to,” the guild’s remarks are a clear slap to the MPAA and the studios from the representatives of more than 8,000 frontline content creators.

Related: WGA Sets Feb. 3 As Start Of New Contract Talks With Producers

MPAA-logo_20110430052942__130828213708__130901164146 No surprise the MPAA does not agree with that POV. “The deterrence provided by the current range of statutory damages is of vital importance to MPAA’s members and other copyright owners, especially in the online environment,” says the studio lobbying group in its own submission (read it here).
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Capitol Hill Vets Patrick Kilcur, Ben Staub Join MPAA

By | Monday January 27, 2014 @ 1:07pm PST

MPAA_Logo_20110404212318The MPAA today announced that Patrick Kilcur and Ben Staub have joined the organization as Vice President and Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs, respectively. They will be responsible primarily for MPAA advocacy before Congress. Both will report to Neil Fried, SVP Government and Regulatory Affairs. Kilcur has spent the last five years as a Senate Floor staffer, most recently for Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Staub has nearly six years of copyright and competition policy experience working for the House Judiciary Committee, beginning in the 110th Congress under then-Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Fried said.

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Theater Owners Want Movie Trailers Limited To 2 Minutes

By | Monday January 27, 2014 @ 6:49am PST

That’s one of several recommendations in the voluntary in-theater marketing guidelines released this morning by the National Association of Theatre Owners.NATO  ”These guidelines will evolve in response to technological innovations, marketing and advertising trends, competition in the marketplace, and consumer demands,” the trade group says.  NATO wants trailers for a movie to run no more than 150 days before it’s released, with other in-theater marketing limited to 120 days — although each distributor would have two exemptions a year from those guidelines. NATO says that it will be the “information clearinghouse” for distributors to identify the films that they want to be exempt. movie-theaterTrailers for those releases still wouldn’t be able to exceed three minutes. In addition to the limits on timing, the NATO standards would require distributors to sit down with exhibitors to negotiate terms for showing special content — such as behind-the-scenes footage and extended looks. NATO also expands on the current ratings match policies saying that members “will only place trailers with content appropriate for the particular feature” following guidelines it has established with the MPAA. Trailers can’t include third-party brands or endorsements, for example for video games or TV shows, and can’t include direct response prompts including Internet URLs or codes that might “encourage mobile phone use during the show.” The standards would apply to films released on or after October 1, with an exception for movies that are already being advertised. Central to the rules is NATO’s conclusion that trailers “are played in the theaters at the discretion of each theater chain or individual theater owner.” Read More »

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NY Governor Cuomo Tells Mogul-Filled Fundraiser He Wants More Production In Empire State

By | Thursday January 23, 2014 @ 8:34pm PST

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Gives Annual State Of State AddressPartially in jest and partially dead serious, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tonight told a mogul-heavy big ticket fundraiser at the home of Fox’s Jim Gianopulos and his wife Ann that NY was the birthplace of film in America. He also said he has no qualms about trying to bring more of the film and TV business back to the Empire State. With tickets going for up to $50,000 a couple, a crowd of over 100 tonight packed the “intimate evening” fundraiser for the Democrat’s reelection held in the Gianopulos’ backyard, which had been set up with tables and heat lamps. Introduced by the MPAA’s Chris Dodd, who himself was introduced by Gianopulos, Cuomo spoke for about 20 minutes. Among a number of topics, the Governor stressed on the importance he puts on protecting Intellectual Property. Having helped lure The Tonight Show back to NYC last year, Cuomo also discussed the value he puts on what the industry can contribute to the NY State economy. New York has a film/TV tax incentive of more than $420 million – the highest in the country.  Even with a reelection war chest estimated at over $33 million, the over $600,000 raised tonight was a hefty contribution to Cuomo’s campaign.

One of a growing number of pricey midterm election fundraisers being held by moguls, the Cuomo gathering tonight was strictly top tier. DreamWorks Animation boss and Hollywood … Read More »

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Why Harvey Weinstein’s Comments On Movie Violence Matter

t100_weinsteinCOMMENTARY: The Weinstein Company’s co-chairman Harvey Weinstein made some bold statements Friday on CNN to Piers Morgan about backing away from violent content.  He spoke about his own children and how he no longer wanted to feel like a hypocrite. “The change starts here,” the man who produced Quentin Tarantino’s violent Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and D’jango Unchained told Morgan. “It has already. For me, I can’t do it. I can’t make one movie and say this is what I want for my kids and then just go out and be a hypocrite.” He added that he would still make a movie like Lone Survivor, which is a violent but accurate portrayal of our American military and their dedication to serving this country. “I’m not going to make some crazy action movie just to blow up people and exploit people just for the sake of making it,” he said. “I can’t do it.” Weinstein’s statements came only days after a fatal shooting of the father of a 3-year old in a Florida theater during a screening of Lone Survivor who was killed while texting his little girl by a supposed “good guy with a gun,” a 71 year-old former police captain.

“The insensitivity that the average person has now because of violence is because people have become so used to it. It’s an obsession as well as almost an addiction. It’s a cheap way of getting an audience, more people shot and more explosions, but it’s at the expense of the story,” said one entertainment marketer with 35 years of experience. “Abject violence has proven successful, and as long as it is, it will be produced because it’s profitable. It’s the accepted way of life rather than asking is this the right thing to do?”

Related: Harvey Weinstein Has Change of Heart On Violent Content In Films: “The Change Starts Here”

The question is, of course, how Harvey is going to reconcile being in business with Tarantino. The filmmaker has made a lot of money for the company with violent fare. And therein lies the conundrum that all studio heads and TV executives face. I’ve interviewed several executives over the past few weeks and many have said privately that they think the gun violence — especially in video games — has gotten out of control. However, they also say they have an obligation to their shareholders to make a profit and violence sells. There will always be violence in movies, just as there is violence in the Bible and in the plays of William Shakespeare. But, Weinstein is trying to tip the scales; to shift Hollywood from glorifying violence in films, to showing the true human cost and destructiveness of it.

fruitvale-station1-e1374069048695The Weinstein Company did just that when it released Fruitvale Station last year. The film does contain gun violence, but it’s told from the point of view of the victim of gun violence. And that, in itself, is unusual and powerful. When Weinstein said, “The change starts here. It has already for me,” I thought of Fruitvale. Produced by Forest Whitaker and directed by newcomer Ryan Coogler, you come to care about this boy, see him with his little girl, understand him as a father and a son before he is murdered. It was passed over by the Academy this past week for Oscar noms, but it shouldn’t have been. It did win the Producers Guild’s Stanley Kramer Award. Stanley Kramer, of course, was the patron saint of bringing social issues to the foreground with films such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. fruitvale2Fruitvale was the first film I saw in a theater (a large screening room) after the Aurora, CO shooting where my cousin’s daughter was among many murdered by a gunman at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises on July 20, 2012. During the emergency room scene, I couldn’t bear it. I closed my eyes and sobbed. The film depicts the true face of violence — a very realistic depiction of how gun violence destroys a family. It was made for under $1M and brought in $16.7M at the box office is and still bringing in money in its ancillary markets. Read More »

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R.I.P. Richard Heffner

By | Friday December 20, 2013 @ 1:27pm PST

Richard HeffnerRichard Heffner, longtime host of PBS interview show The Open Mind and former head of the MPAA ratings board, has died. The Rutgers University professor passed away December 17 at his home in New York City of a cerebral hemorrhage, according to the university’s website. He was 88. Heffner was tapped to head the MPAA’s Classifications and Ratings Administration in 1974 by then-chairman Jack Valenti. He served until 1994. The PG-13 and NC-17 ratings were introduced during his tenure — PG-13 in 1984 and NC-17 in 1990. He spoke about the ratings with our sister pub Variety in 1994. When a producer asks about reasons for the rating he told Variety, “We always try to be helpful,but sometimes we simply can’t be as specific as filmmakers want us to be. We’re not film editors, and don’t pretend to be.” He also acknowledged that the NC-17 rating should have been communicated more clearly when it was introduced. “It was clear we needed a public service campaign. A mistake was made in not educating the public” that the NC-17 was not the same as an X, he told Variety.

Heffner created and hosted The Open Mind, a half-hour public affairs program broadcast on PBS stations around the country, from 1956 until his death. During that time, he interviewed dozens of iconic figures, among them Margaret Mead and President Jimmy Carter. In 1963, after the assassination in Mississippi of civil rights leader … Read More »

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‘Wolf Of Wall Street’ Had Its Own Consigliere For R-Rating In Tom Sherak; Exhibs Waiting To See How It Plays In Peoria

By | Monday December 16, 2013 @ 6:47pm PST

15-outrageous-scenes-in-martin-scorseses-wolf-of-wall-street-we-cant-wait-to-seeMartin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street will be released wide by Paramount Pictures on Christmas Day with a three-hour play time and an R-rating that some who have seen the film are surprised it received from the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration. Exhibitors who’ve seen it have called it everything from “rough” to “the hardest R I’ve ever seen from a major Hollywood studio.”

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

Most think it will play well on the coasts but question how audiences will react in Middle America once they realize the movie is quite different from what the ads indicate. (One exhib I spoke with Friday said it might be another Django Unchained – referring to the Quentin Tarantino pic that despite its violent content played well across the country.)

The Wolf of Wall StreetFor Wolf Of Wall Street, the studio’s marketing team cut together a slick advertising campaign selling the party aspects of the film, which play to the young, college crowd (the demo that floods the marketplace during holiday break). But, the content is … well, even its star Leonardo DiCaprio aptly calls it “a modern-day Caligula.”

Related: Scorsese, DiCaprio Back In Oscar Race With ‘Wolf Of Wall Street’
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Arts And Culture Added $915.9B To The Economy In 2011: Report

By | Thursday December 5, 2013 @ 2:08pm PST

You’ll be seeing a lot more data like this over the next several months. Bureau of Economic AnalysisThe Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis wants to put a dollar amount on the contributions different industries make as it prepares to introduce a financial metric — Gross Output — designed to provide a more comprehensive picture of the economy than the familiar Gross Domestic Product. And it says its “prototype” model shows that the broad array of arts and cultural goods and services accounted for $915.9B in Gross Output in 2011 vs a $504B contribution to GDP (equal to 3.2% of the total). When you zero in, “motion picture and video goods and services” added $83.2B to Gross Output, behind “cable production and distribution” (at $100.2B) and ahead of “radio and television broadcasting” ($39.7B). When it comes to employment, arts and culture in 2011 accounted for 2M workers who were paid $289.5B. Motion pictures and video had 310,000 workers paid $25B. The MPAA, which is eager to show lawmakers that studios are economic powers, applauded the effort to quantify its members’ contribution. It’s the “latest acknowledgment from the government of the major impact our industry and other arts and cultural industries have on the U.S. economy,” MPAA chief Chris Dodd says. In July BEA began to include R&D investments for creative work in GDP. It said that Q2  investments in films, television shows, literature and music amounted to $75.3B.

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Evan Rachel Wood Rants Against MPAA Over Deleted ‘Charlie Countryman’ Sex Scene

By | Wednesday November 27, 2013 @ 3:36pm PST

evanrachel2Evan Rachel Wood has taken to Twitter to vent her anger against the MPAA over a sex scene in her new film Charlie Countryman that had to be deleted in order for the pic to receive an R rating. The graphic scene between lead characters Wood and Shia LaBeouf was cut in the final version after the film’s debut at Sundance. “The scene where the two main characters make “love” was altered because someone felt that seeing… …a man give a woman oral sex made people “uncomfortable” but the scenes in which people are murdered by having their heads blown off… …remained intact and unaltered“, she wrote. The indie drama was given an R rating because of “some brutal violence, language throughout, sexuality/nudity, and drug use”, according to the MPAA.

Here’s the complete text of what Wood had to say: Read More »

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MPAA’s Anti-Piracy Fight Contributed To Financial Loss In 2012 While Chris Dodd Collected $3.3M

By | Wednesday November 20, 2013 @ 11:48am PST

The Hollywood’s lobby group’s finances took a hit in 2012, a tax filing shows — but CEO Chris Dodd did just fine even as the MPAA licked its wounds from its failed effort to promote tough anti-piracy legislation. Dodd’s compensation came to $3.3M last year. (The package: $3M base compensation, $250,000 bonus, $41,930 other compensation, $13,753 retirement benefit, and $19,585 non-tax benefit.) That’s up 36.5% but it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison since he worked a partial year in 2011 beginning in March. The MPAA saw its year-end loss increase nearly 587% to $1.7M on revenues of $68.1M. Although the top line was +12%, mostly from members’ increased dues payments, it was more than offset by a 14% increase in expenses. The biggest increase went to unspecified “other” expenses — mostly fees to consultants and vendors — which rose 81% to nearly $4.5M. Advertising and promotion were +329% to $2.2M. Pension plan was +132% to $2.1M. That’s partly due to a reclassification of the operation’s matching payments for 401K savers; it was formerly listed as a benefit — the pension and benefit outlays together were +12%. A $382,500 severance payment for former EVP Fritz Attaway was accrued earlier, and had a minimal impact on the 2012 total. The tally also doesn’t include a $1M severance payment to former CEO Robert Pisano. Salaries increased 10% to $17.3M. The … Read More »

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