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UPDATE: Haim Saban Praises Obama’s Middle East Policy At Fundraiser

By | Monday November 25, 2013 @ 10:37pm PST

Power Rangers billionaire and staunch Israel supporter Haim Saban tonight offered strong support to President Obama for his efforts to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and his recent initiative in negotiations with Iran. “We’re out of Iraq, we’re out of Afghanistan and the military and intelligence cooperation with Israel — our staunchest ally in the Middle East, arguably in the world, has never been deeper and the president’s commitment to Israel’s security has never been stronger,” Saban said in his introduction to Obama’s remarks tonight at his Beverly Hills home, according to White House pool reports. “And “If Iran is at the negotiating table today, make no mistake about it, it is only because of President Obama’s resolve in striking them with the most crippling sanctions ever.” The event was the second fundraiser of the night for Obama and the first Saban has hosted for the President directly. (He’d hosted a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton last month.) About 120 people attended tonight’s dinner — including Tom Hanks & Rita Wilson, Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer and wife Wendy, and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos — with tickets going for $16,200 each. (Read an edited and condensed version of the White House Pool report and official WH Press Office remarks from both of tonight’s fundraisers below.)

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Earlier in the evening, Obama was the headliner at a fundraiser at Magic Johnson’s Beverly Hills house. About 160 people including Samuel L. Jackson and Diane Keaton paid $2,500-$15,000 a ticket hear the commander-in-chief speak at the reception. Tomorrow morning the president will be attending a $32,400-per-guest breakfast event at the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman (take a look at the original invite here). After that, he will visit and give a speech on the economy and the entertainment industry at big donor Jeffrey Katzenberg‘s DreamWorks Animation HQ, as well as meeting with studio bosses. Obama’s Southland visit, his first since August, is partially a makeup for a planned swing in September that was scrapped because of the Syria crisis.

Here are the pool reports: Read More »

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Alan Horn & Other Studio Bosses Set Big Jerry Brown Fundraiser Next Month

His re-election is a year away and as much of a sure thing as anything can be in politics but Hollywood moguls unsurprisingly are already opening up their check books for Jerry Brown now. A $1,000 to $27,200 a ticket November 21 fundraiser for the Democratic incumbent has been scheduled at Disney Studios boss Alan Horn and his wife Cindy’s Bel Air home. Maybe the studio chieftains who are co-hosting the event will want to talk to the Governor about the state’s Film and TV tax credits program that everyone but he seems to want raised when it comes up for renewal next year. And make no mistake, this is an unofficial studio chieftains conference that even out shines the fundraiser Barack Obama had at Peter Chernin’s place in June. Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer and Kevin Tsujihara as well as Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, who was at the Obama event, Universal’s Ron Meyer, Paramount’s Brad Grey, Sony’s Michael Lynton and DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg all serving as co-hosts also with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Following up on his support last month of a Hollywood visit by Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to raise money to challenge Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, this is another move by Katzenberg positioning himself as a big donor for the midterms like he did for last year’s Presidential … Read More »

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Time Warner Says THR/Barry Meyer Claims “Complete Fabrication”

The Hollywood Reporter has really hurt their credibility. I don’t understand how they could write that stuff. It isn’t true,” Time Warner told me. The Hollywood Reporter Jeffrey BewkesThe strong denial was about a July 11th THR article claiming that Time Warner chief executive Jeffrey Bewkes recently asked Warner Bros chairman and CEO Barry Meyer to remain on the job beyond his scheduled December 2013 departure date – and the veteran executive declined. THR hangs it on ”a knowledgeable source”. Time Warner explained to me, “This story is a complete fabrication. We could not lie about it. Why would we lie about this? Because it’s going to come out one way or the other. Everybody who talked to the Reporter explained that no part of this is true – but they kept writing. How ridiculous.” As for who replaces Barry Meyer, that is if anyone replaces him, ”There’s not even any need to make a decision at the end of 2013.” My own opinion is that the three Warner Bros division heads who make up the Office Of The President — Jeff Robinov, Bruce Rosenblum, Kevin Tsujihara (in alphabetical order) — could continue comfortably like that reporting to Bewkes for years.

One of the main reasons The Hollywood Reporter has lost many millions of dollars (informed sources even put the figure as high as $10 million since it got into business with Guggenheim Partners) is that it’s no longer trusted by the Hollywood community. That’s what happens … Read More »

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UPDATE: 3rd Online Piracy Bill Surfaces As Hollywood Lobbying On Capitol Hill Escalates

MPAA Arranges Studio-Guild D.C. Lobbying

UPDATE, 1:50 PM: Movie studios took Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and California Rep. Darrell Issa to task today after they unveiled draft anti-piracy legislation that could serve as an alternative to the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act. The two current bills have created a furor about how to police overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated entertainment: Content companies want to give federal officials authority to block the sites. Tech companies say that would put too much power into the government’s hands, which could lead to abuses. The MPAA supports PROTECT IP and SOPA, and challenged a key part of Wyden and Issa’s legislation: They would have the U.S. International Trade Commission, instead of federal courts, handle anti-piracy cases. That “allows companies profiting from online piracy to advocate for foreign rogue websites against rightful American copyright holders,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior EVP Global Policy and External Affairs. ITC is set up to oversee patent cases, not criminal ones, and therefore would favor tech companies that deal with patent law all the time, he adds. But  Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) — a co-sponsor of the new legislation, called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act –told The Hill blog that it’s ”a good starting point for future discussions on how to best protect U.S. intellectual property rights.”

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UPDATE: CW Could See $1B From 4-Year Licensing Deal With Netflix

UPDATE, 11:10 AM: This deal’s more lucrative than it initially seemed. Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker figures it could be worth as much as $1B for CW. While she acknowledges that “the accounting is somewhat complex,” she says that CBS — which co-owns CW with Time Warner — might see an additional 5 cents a share annually. Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says it could contribute 2 cents a share to Time Warner. “The money-losing CW may also retain a minority of the Netflix fee, helping reduce its losses,” he adds. The deal’s so valuable because CW’s young-skewing shows fit well with the audience that streams shows on demand from Netflix. What’s more, Netflix’s payments escalate for long-running series.

Warner Bros Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum won’t comment on the financials but says the terms “won’t be repeated” because “other networks don’t own (as much of) their own content.” This isn’t an exclusive deal in the traditional sense — the shows can appear elsewhere – but Netflix has a narrow right to show entire seasons on-demand from previous years. (Others can license select episodes.) “We know from Day 1 that the syndication on-demand window has been sold, but we also have the ability to sell linear rights down the road,” Rosenblum says. CW shows also may continue to run on Netflix even if the deal isn’t renewed; the online service has the right to keep offering series that begin while it’s in force.

PREVIOUS, 7:55 AM: This one follows the usual pattern: Nothing current — just previous seasons of CW series. And it’s not exclusive. Producers can continue to sell their shows in syndication and to other digital services. No mention of how much Netflix will pay for the programming. Here’s the release:

October 13, 2011 — CBS Corporation and Warner Bros. Television Group announced today a licensing agreement with Netflix [Nasdaq: NFLX] allowing U.S. members of Netflix to instantly watch previous seasons of scripted series that air on The CW from its current schedule through the 2014-15 season.

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TOLDJA! Raymond Wu & Mark Kaufman Atop Revamped Warner Bros Theatre Ventures

By | Tuesday September 13, 2011 @ 9:30am PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Gregg Maday Out In Shakeup At Warner Bros Theatre Ventures

(September 13, 2011 – Burbank, CA)—Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros., today announced a reorganization of Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, with Mark Kaufman and Raymond Wu sharing the position of Executive Vice President, Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures, the Studio’s live theater production operation. Kaufman, who will be based in New York, and Wu, who will be based in Burbank, will both report to Alan Horn, who is overseeing the division in his consulting role for the Studio, reporting to Meyer.

“It’s great to have Alan’s creative instincts and insight available to Theatre Ventures, with Ray and Mark bringing a terrific combination of experience and proven hit-making talent to our team,” said Meyer. “With this new leadership structure, we can make the most of the myriad opportunities available to Theatre Ventures and take its operations to the next level.”

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SHAKEUP: Warner Bros Unveils Succession



2ND WRITETHRU (UPDATES 1:30 & 4:15 PM VERSIONS): Warner Bros Chairman/CEO Barry Meyer stays on for 2 more years. President/COO Alan Horn leaves next April and becomes consultant until the end of 2013. An Office Of The President is created and shared by Jeff Robinov, Bruce Rosenblum, and Kevin Tsujihara. Those are the headlines from today’s shakeup and succession announcement. This was expected, especially when Meyer kept dropping hints around Hollywood recently that he wanted to stay on. So was Horn, but the bad blood that’s existed between him and Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes is legion. After all, Horn never cozied up to Bewkes even when Jeff was rumored to be taking over the top Time Warner job. “Alan never reached out to Jeff. Even with all the rumors of Jeff’s impending promotion, Alan never chased a relationship with Jeff at all. Never,” according to an insider. That dictated Alan would be gone according to the March 2009 don’t-let-the-door-hit-in-you-in-the-ass schedule of 2 years dictated by Bewkes. But not Barry now. “Alan’s really very hurt. He’s a very prideful guy,” a Horn pal tells me today. “It would have been much easier for him if Barry was leaving at the same time. Until very recently, Alan’s expectation was that he and Barry would be.” (How Horn could not have known what everybody else in Hollywood did, that Meyer wanted another 2 years, demonstrates how out of touch he has been and still is. But that is the result of Alan’s peculiar arrogance.)

I’ve just learned that Bewkes behind the scenes clarified his intentions to the new co-president troika. He told them he was not delaying succession. Instead, he made it clear that in 2 1/2-to-3 years, the trio of execs will be running Warner Bros together — that is, unless one of them fucks up. Bewkes told them: “I’m not bringing someone in and I don’t want a horserace. The 3 of you bring different skill sets to this so I want you to do this together.”

So why was Barry renewed for 2 more years? I’m told to “ease the transition”. There’s the transition with Wall Street because Bewkes has begun positioning Time Warner as a TV-centric company, noting that 80% of the Big Media behemoth’s profitability is from Turner, HBO, and half of Warner Bros. But there’s also another transition Meyer must ease, according to some of my sources. ”Bewkes is not so confident that Jeff [Robinov] is ready to step up, that he has the visibility or stature or personality to lead a theatrical division. Bewkes lets Rosenblum and Tsujihara talk to analysts. Robinov does not. Bewkes does not perceive Robinov at the same level. So Bewkes wants Barry on the front lines.” But, of all the co-presidenting trio, Robinov is the only one now with clear air. He no longer has to answer to Horn for greenlight authority after April 1st, and Meyer has always backburnered anything film-related. Whereas Rosenblum and Tsujihara still have their boss around. But Meyer gave them far more authority than Horn ever gave Robinov. (More on Robinov below.)

Meyer also positioned himself inside Hollywood and with Bewkes as the only mogul who could keep the upcoming Hollywood guild negotiations from running off the rails because he is the most extreme hardliner of all the studio and network bosses. (Indeed, his fellow moguls estimated to me that Barry extended the agony of the WGA strike by at least six weeks because he considered the labor action such a personal affront and didn’t “want to reward a strike”. But then, when SAG didn’t strike, he didn’t want to reward that either.) Today’s announcement comes just days from the kickoff of the negotiations season for contracts expiring in 2011. (On September 27th, SAG and AFTRA will begin jointly bargaining with the AMPTP for 7 weeks, followed by the DGA in mid-November. No date has yet been set for the WGA, whose contract ends May 1, 2011, but Meyer and the moguls and the AMPTP intend to negotiate with the writers last to ensure there’s the most Hollywood pressure on them.)

Back in late 2008-early 2009, when Meyer and Horn were renegotiating their own contracts, Bewkes balked at giving the Warner Bros duo a full 3-year, or 4-year, or 5-year vote of confidence. In the end, after not wanting to renew the pair, Bewkes kept them on a humiliating 2-year choke chain. Bewkes had only been in charge of Time Warner for one year, and Hollywood was waiting for him to shake things up at Warner Bros like when he re-possessed Bob Shaye’s New Line. He’s a cautious man, and he did the cautious thing.

At the time, cranky and tired Barry wanted to retire. But something happened to Meyer when he finally got his expiration date from Bewkes: it reanimated him. Suddenly, he was back doing his job aggressively. Warner Bros TV made a comeback after 2 years of losing clout when it couldn’t produce any successful new shows amid a plethora of expensive creative deals. But profitability wasn’t affected because of a legacy of TV hits. But credit also goes to Bruce Rosenblum, President of the Warner Bros Television Group, who for some time now has ably filled the power vacuum created by Meyer’s once imminent departure. Rosenblum now runs his division almost autonomously. If he titularly comes back under Meyer’s thumb, but don’t expect Bruce to give a shit. “Bruce is all about the hands-on creative and distribution and dealing-making process which Barry allowed him to do a lot more of in recent years. Also, while Barry is sitting back, Bruce is overseeing the TV strategy transition from analog to digital. All digital conversations are going through Bruce’s office.”

As for Horn, he just got more distracted and depleted after the rug was pulled out from under him. And just as stubborn Read More »

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DC Entertainment Relocates Film, Television And Digital Operations To Burbank

Nellie Andreeva

As part of Warner Bros. Entertainment’s efforts to better integrate the DC Comics business, DC Entertainment will relocate its multi-media and digital content production operations to Warner Bros.’ lot in Burbank, California. That includes all businesses related to the development and production of feature films, television, digital media, video games and consumer products as well as the company’s administrative offices. Only DCE’s publishing operations will remain in New York. The move is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2011 and will involve layoffs as well as personnel relocations. “This strategic business realignment allows us to fully integrate and expand the DC brand in feature films as well as across multiple distribution platforms of Warner Bros. and Time Warner,” said Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group, “We are creating a seamless, cohesive unit.”

Speaking at an investor relations conference last week, Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Barry Meyer touted maximizing DC’s potential as a priority for Warner Bros. and said that a DC slate of new projects will be announced by the end of the year.

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Attention, Les & Barry: Broadcast Giant Files For Bankruptcy, Blames CW Ratings

Talk about a Maalox moment: this is the sort of major news that, coming as it does right before this week’s upfront presentations by the networks, can give CW co-bosses Les Moonves (CBS) and Barry Meyer (Warner Bros) heartburn. According to the business wires, Pappas Telecasting Inc, the largest privately-held commercial broadcast operator in the U.S. filed for Chapter 11 Saturday with plans to sell its 30 TV stations under bankruptcy court protection. cw.JPGPappas cited “the extremely difficult business climate for television stations across the country” in papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The Fresno, Calif.-based company’s TV stations are affiliated with a number of broadcasters, and include two big Fox affiliates in Fresno and Omaha. But Pappas specifically blamed the “poor ratings of the CW Network” for some of the financial trouble that forced it into bankruptcy. Also cites as problems are the economic downturn, plunging advertising and the cost of converting from analog to digital TV broadcasting.

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