Paula Deen is looking to grow her brand again less than a year after being dropped from her high-profile gig at Food Network. Paula Deen Ventures — which includes Paula Deen Foods, Paula Deen Media, Paula Deen Restaurants, Paula Deen Cookware and Paula Deen Home — is being backed by Najafi Media, the deep-pocketed content and distribution subsidiary of Najafi Cos. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because it is: Founder and CEO Jahm Najafi was the principal investor and financing partner who with Jeff Berg launched Resolution talent agency in January 2013 — the first major full-service agency start-up in almost two decades. Paula Deen Ventures will be run by retail veteran Steven Nanula, who for the last two years led the development of the Paula Deen Food Company.
Nanula told the Wall Street Journal the company is in talks with TV networks and other possible partners, but no deals have been signed. The WSJ says the investment is from $75 million-$100 million.
Najafi is a former Salomon Bros banker active in real estate and private equity. The Phoenix-based firm has been in the mix of several deals as it adds to its entertainment industry holdings, which include ownership stakes in the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, Direct Brands (BMG Music Service, SkyMall, Columbia House and Book Of The Month Club), and Toronto-based recorded media manufacturer Cinram. “All of us at Najafi Companies have a deep respect for the hard work, unique content and quality products which Paula has built around her brand,” Najafi said today in a release announcing the partnership with Deen. “We know that the enterprise will be successful and valuable, as Paula and her team continue to bring quality products and experiences to her loyal fan base; and now we have a proven management team in place to build and lead the organization.”
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Paula Deen visits another of the stations of the cross on her road to TV redemption tonight — she’s the subject of an E! True Hollywood Story. E!THS says it will detail the “rags to riches … Read More »
Celebrity chef Paula Deen took a big step toward becoming non-toxic-for-TV today, when lawyers signed a deal dropping that discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuit that wound up costing Deen her Food Network gig, among other business relationships. Both sides agreed to drop the lawsuit “without any award of costs or fees to any party,” according to a document filed in U.S. District Court in Savannah, the Associated Press reports. Former employee Lisa Jackson had sued Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers last year, saying she suffered from sexual harassment and racially offensive talk and employment practices during her five years as a manager of a restaurant Deen and Hiers co-owned. During a deposition related to the lawsuit, Deen acknowledged having used racial slurs in the past and, when a transcript became public in June, the media frenzy led to Deen being dumped by Food Network and other business partners.
Related: Paula Deen Can’t Be Sued For Racial Discrimination, Judge Says
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A federal judge in Georgia says a former restaurant manager can’t sue celebrity chef Paula Deen for racial discrimination. But the ruling today by U.S. District Judge William T. … Read More »
Wednesday’s live sitdown interview will be exclusive to NBC’s Today whose Matt Lauer had been scheduled originally to talk to Paula Deen on Friday. “She has told us she will be here this time,” Lauer said today on the air. The Southern comfort food cook was a no-show citing exhaustion Friday, the same day she received the bad news that The Food Network wasn’t going to renew her contract when it expires at the end of June. This, despite her release of two videotaped apologies for using “N-word” racial slurs in her past. Today on its website asked whether Deen can stage a comeback after the racism allegations. But this TV appearance also may re-ignite the media frenzy after what appears to be a public backlash to Deen’s punishment for what seemed a survivable scandal on the surface. Now the entire matter has sparked a national debate about what constitutes ”acceptable” old and new Southern attitudes towards race.
Related: Food Network Chops Paula Deen After N-Word Slur; UPDATE: Her Response Read More »
Related: Paula Deen To Face Matt Lauer On ‘Today’
UPDATE: Paula Deen’s statement today: “I would like to thank The Food Network for 11 great years. Because of the gift The Food Network gave me, I have had the … Read More »
At Least Four UK Nets Lining Up To Bid For FA Cup Rights
A bidding war reportedly is gearing up in the UK for TV rights to soccer tournament the FA Cup for the three seasons to 2017-18. Financial Times reports that BT, ITV, BSkyB and the BBC are entering bids. BT and ITV currently share rights to the FA Cup until the end of the 2013-14 season. FT says analysts predict that having all four in the ring could significantly push up the cost of the rights. In January 2012, ITV acquired free-to-air broadcast rights for 16 FA Cup games per season, along with some of England’s home qualifying games, for an annual cost of £43M. But the BBC is understood to be concerned about its lack of live soccer during the regular season. BT and BSkyB are still expected to be the most aggressive bidders.
Shanghai Now Second-Biggest Box Office Among Chinese Cities
Shanghai box office has become the second biggest of all mainland Chinese cities and is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the next few years, spurred on by investment from U.S. studios Disney and DreamWorks, according to a study by Artisan Gateway. In 2012, Shanghai’s box office was $214.2 million, a 22.2% year-on-year growth. The city, regarded as the birthplace of Chinese cinema, has 122 movie theaters, just two more than the No. 1 Beijing market. The U.S. Consulate, which sponsored the study, said it plans to contribute more to protecting IP rights, Shanghai Daily reported. Read More »
The company behind HGTV, Food Network and other lifestyle channels has a great topline story to tell for Q1. The bottom line? Not so much. Net income came in at $151.2M, -3.7% vs the period last year, on revenues of $594.4M, +11%. The revenue figure was well above the $582.5M that analysts expected. But earnings attributable to Scripps Networks investors, at 72 cents a share, were 2 cents shy of the consensus forecast. The company says that ad sales and affiliate fees were both up 11% in early 2013, respectively to $395M and $187M. Food Network revenues came in at $208.3M (+4.8%), with HGTV at $206.0M (+10.9%), Travel Channel at $76.4M (+15.1%), DIY Network at $$31.9M (+15.4%), Cooking Channel at $26.3M (+32.7%), and GAC — Great American Country — at $6.4M (+28.2%). But expenses for the quarter, at $347M, were +17%. Scripps Networks says that the increased outlays were “driven by programming amortization expenses as the company invests to drive viewership” as well as “higher employee costs and investments in planned domestic and international growth initiatives.” The company has been struggling to boost its audiences in the U.S., where the pay TV market has plateaued, and to expand overseas. Read More »
Travel Channel is embarking on its post-Anthony Bourdain life by adding four new series to its 2013 programming slate, which was unveiled today as part of Scripps Networks Interactive‘s upfront presentation today in NY. The lineup includes a new show from host Adam Richman, Adam Richman’s Fandemonium, which will premiere July 14. The other three greenlighted shows are the wilderness survival series Get Lost, the take-out food series Best Daym Takeout starring YouTube food critic Daymon Patterson, and the antique car restoration show Backroad Gold. Travel Channel also set premiere dates for Season 3 of Hotel Impossible (August 12) and Season 5 of Mysteries At The Museum (August 15).
Food Network is celebrating its 20th anniversary and along with sibling Cooking Channel will add more than 20 new series to its lineup, Scripps said today. HGTV unveiled nine new original series.
Here’s a look at the networks’ new and returning shows: Read More »
It’s not a leading economic indicator. But Scripps Networks CEO Kenneth Lowe says that programming on his cable channel HGTV “had to be turned on its head” when the housing bubble burst a few years ago. Viewers suddenly wanted to know how to flip their house, not just how to make it beautiful. But things are changing, he hopes: “As we slowly build the housing market back, it will have a positive effect on HGTV.” So will improvements at the network’s popular show House Hunters, where ratings have softened. “Stabilization is the key word” for that show, Lowe says. That concept is important for all of Scripps’ lifestyle-focused services. When it comes to advertising, “we’re not seeing a lot of things to be concerned about, but we’re watching along with the rest of the industry,” says Lori Hickok, EVP Finance. Lowe’s upbeat, though, because he says Scripps’ channels are “the female equivalent of ESPN. They’re must-have. … The passion and connection that female viewers have for these networks is second to none.” Even among those viewers, Scripps saw a shift last year to sports programming, which Lowe says “was a little unusual.” He attributes that to the growing appeal of live shows. Read More »
Shares are down 2.6% in pre-market trading following the 3Q earnings report from the owner of lifestyle channels including HGTV and the Food Network. The company said it had nearly $130M in net income, down 4.5% vs last year’s … Read More »
Scripps Networks stayed on course in 2Q, which is a contrast to other cable channel owners that ended the period with mixed messages. The company generated $77.4M in net income, a drop of 27% from the period last year, which was … Read More »
The cable industry is livid today over a new FCC order that makes it harder for pay TV distributors to mess around with independently owned channels. Regulators clarified the rules of engagement called for by the 1992 Cable Act to resolve contract disputes that channels have with cable and satellite companies. One provision particularly infuriates cable: The FCC says channels can’t be interrupted during a fight; for example, Cablevision customers lost Food Network and HGTV in early 2010 when Scripps wanted to raise the price for its services. A standstill order would keep existing contract terms in place while the FCC resolves the matter. The agency particularly wants to prevent cable operators from using their near-monopoly power in TV distribution to favor channels that they own — or extort channel owners to sell equity in order to guarantee carriage. Public interest advocates welcome the change. “This will promote diversity in cable TV offerings by insuring that independent cable channels have a shot at getting carriage on large cable systems” says Media Access Project policy director Andrew Jay Schwartzman. But former FCC Chairman Michael Powell — now CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association — says the order shows “little regard for the limits of agency authority or constitutional rights, and a disturbing lack of appreciation of the potential impact of government intervention on consumers or the marketplace.” Read More »
Scripps Networks seemed to dash investor hopes that it might be sold when the owner of HGTV and the Food Network announced today a plan to buy back $1 billion of its stock — including $300 million from its … Read More »
Food Network’s Alton Brown, writer, producer and star of Good Eats, host, resident food historian, scientist and commentator on Iron Chef America, and host/judge on Next Iron Chef, has signed a new three-year deal with the network to develop new ongoing series. He will also appear as a guest star … Read More »
After a three-day blackout of Scripps Networks’ cable networks, including HGTV and Food Network, on AT&T U-Verse, the two sides tonight reached a new distribution agreement. The five Scripps channels affected, HGTV, Food Network, DIY, Cooking Channel and Great American Country have been restored in 2.7 million AT&T U-verse … Read More »
Another week, another carriage dispute that escalated into channels being pulled from a cable/satellite system. This time, it is the Scripps Networks, including HGTV and Food Network, which went black on AT&T U-Verse at 1 AM. The same networks were also off Cablevision for 3 weeks at the beginning of the year as part of the two sides’ nasty carriage dispute. In the summer, AT&T U-Verse came close to losing AMC in a standoff with Rainbow Media but the companies reached a last-minute agreement, preventing a blackout. Here is AT&T’s release: Read More »