It was completely appropriate that AFI‘s 41st Life Achievement Award honoree Mel Brooks made his entrance at the Dolby Theatre to the Steven Sondheim song, “Comedy Tonight”. It set the tone immediately for a very different evening than any that had come before at this annual event. Look at the list of the 40 previous AFI honorees, and there’s not a single solely comedic filmmaker or actor in the whole bunch. Yes, there are some — like Billy Wilder, Mike Nichols, Shirley MacLaine and Tom Hanks — who have made a few classic comedies but no one whose whole screen career is built on laughs. The AFI finally corrected that glaring omission Thursday night.
“Ladies and gentlemen, tonight the American Film Institute honors the art — and the farts — of American film,” said AFI Board Of Trustees Chair Sir Howard Stringer in welcoming the star-studded crowd. “When I telephoned Mel to tell him the AFI had voted him in as the 2013 recipient, he responded instantly, ‘What took you so long?’ Fair enough. Comedy is routinely short-changed at many awards ceremonies , particularly the Oscars. It is often said comedy is harder than drama because funny is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. That makes Mel, without question, Hollywood’s principal lightning conductor.” READ MORE »
Michael Lynton will be announced as Howard Stringer’s Sony Corp Of America successor next week. “The people who know in Culver City are very happy — and very relieved,” a source tells me about Sony Pictures Entertainment where Lynton since January 2004 has been chairman alongside Amy Pascal. Sony’s principal U.S. businesses include Sony Electronics Inc., Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC, Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., and Sony Music Entertainment. Sony Corporation of America, based in New York, NY, is the U.S. subsidiary of Sony Corporation, headquartered in Tokyo. The Japan brass would like to base Lynton full-time in NYC but he prefers to stay in Los Angeles because of his family. So that’s still a question mark. Lynton’s promotion has been expected for some time and even more so since Comcast bought NBCUniversal because the Sony exec is close professionally and personally to Brian Roberts and Steve Burke, something the hyper-ambitious Lynton let it be known throughout Hollywood and beyond. My insiders say this job promotion is because Lynton has become a favorite of Kazuo Hirai, who takes over as Sony Corp President/CEO at the start of April. Stringer will retain the chairman title. My insider says, “Hirai who’s very Americanized really likes Michael. He’s his kind of guy because Michael is all business and not flashy.” Lynton already oversees Sony’s movie and TV studio, distribution deals, global production operations, and such. He previously was CEO of AOL Europe and before that headed Pearson’s Penguin publishing company as well as served a brief stint running Disney’s Hollywood Pictures.
But Lynton has a herculean task in front of him. Here’s why: Sony’s U.S. shares have lost more than 36% of their value over the last 12 months. The company is plagued by a feeling that it’s too slow moving and out of touch with consumers, technology, and business. One of the key aspects of the Sony Corp Of America job is ensuring that the corporation’s proprietary technology doesn’t lose out to hardware advancements and content exclusivity. Sony always will be haunted by its Betamax loss to VHS which started the company on a long downward spiral. Since then, the Sony Corp Of America top exec’s marching orders have been to ensure that Sony doesn’t get left out in the cold when the hardware manufacturers and content providers agreed on an industry standard whether for CD, DVD, Blu-ray, 3D or other formats. Problem is, this has meant that even when Sony has had proprietary technology, the company has shared it rather than tried to go it alone again. The result is that the Sony Corp Of America job requires an executive capable of subtle diplomacy and industry respect, and Lynton fits that description perfectly. (On the other hand, he is not shy about his political activism for President Obama and is along with his wife one of the reelection campaign’s top bundlers. And he has used his current gig as a soapbox, most controversially scolding movie theaters for making Americans fat by selling unhealthy concession snacks.)
Combatting current trends won’t be easy. Apple, not Sony, controls tablets and music players. Amazon, not Sony, dominates e-readers. And Microsoft, not Sony, is No. 1 in game consoles while Sony angered Read More »
This morning the AFI Board Of Trustees meeting was held from 9-11 AM at the Peninsula Hotel. Among those attending were Sir Howard Stringer, Bob Daly, Amy Pascal, Christopher Dodd, Thomas Tull, Chris Silbermann, Rich Ross, and more. As a … Read More »
Now we know why Sony wanted to announce yesterday that Kazuo Hirai will replace Howard Stringer as CEO in April. U.S. shares are down about 5.4% in pre-market trading after the electronics and entertainment giant released a fiscal 3Q … Read More »
Sony Corp has announced the ascension of Kazuo Hirai to the role of president and CEO, with current chief Howard Stringer to become chairman of the board of directors. The moves were expected as Sony last year expanded Hirai’s duties to oversee all of its all-important consumer products and services business. The Sony press release is below:
TOKYO, Japan – Sony Corporation (“Sony”) today announced that Kazuo Hirai has been appointed as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 1, 2012. Sir Howard Stringer, currently Chairman, CEO and President, will become Chairman of the Board of Directors in June, 2012.
Mr. Stringer recommended to the Sony Board of Directors that Mr. Hirai, currently Executive Deputy President, be his successor as President and CEO. Mr. Stringer will continue as Chairman of Sony Corporation until his ascension to the Board Chairmanship, which will become effective upon Board approval following the annual meeting of shareholders in June, when the current Chairman, Yotaro Kobayashi, will retire. Mr. Hirai is also expected to be appointed to the Board at the June shareholders meeting.
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Sony Corp. is pulling out of its LCD manufacturing partnership with Samsung, the company announced today. Samsung will pay $939 million for Sony’s share. The S-LCD joint venture was set up in 2004. The move is expected to save … Read More »
It’s a lousy morning for Sony. The company has locked 93,000 PlayStation Network user accounts — including 35,000 in the U.S. — following yet another round of cyberattacks on Friday and Monday, Bloomberg reports. The company says … Read More »
Howard Stringer: Sony Will Overtake The iPad With Content
A rival has revolutionized the mobile computer industry and Sony hasn’t had a device catch on big with consumers in years. But worried? Not Sony, not if you believe CEO Howard Stringer. “Yes, yes, Apple makes an iPad, but does it make a movie?” he said at a Berlin electronics show today. “We will prove that it’s not who makes the tablet first who counts but who makes it better.” Stringer unveiled its two tablet models, priced at $599 and $499, about the same price as an Apple 2. But analysts and technology reviewers’ first impresssions were largely negative. Also today, Sony announced in Tokyo that it will merge its liquid-crystal display manufacturing efforts with Toshiba and Hitachi and use $2.6B of government-backed funds to fend off competitors in Korea and Taiwan. The merged entity will be the world’s largest maker of the LCD panels used in smartphones and tablet PCs.
‘The Kennedys’ Takes Acting Prizes At Canada’s Geminis
It may have struggled to find a buyer in the U.S. and drawn fire from both ends of the political spectrum, but the controversial miniseries The Kennedys was a winner tonight in Toronto at the Gemini Awards, Canada’s top TV honors. Barry Pepper won for lead actor for his role as Bobby Kennedy and Diana Hardcastle won supporting actress for her role as matriarch Rose Kennedy. The Pillars of the Earth was named the top TV movie or mini. The Jason Priestly comedy Call Me Fitz won for direction (Scott Smith), supporting actor (Ernie Grunwald), supporting actress (Rachel Blanchard) and writing (Pat Bullard).
Hulu Rolls Out Subscription Video Service In Japan
Streaming entertainment site Hulu is on the auction block, but that isn’t stopping it from making its first international foray. The company said today that Japanese audiences are “passionate about premium video content” and that the country is a “major producer of world-class TV and feature films.” Japan’s extensive broadband coverage and Read More »
It hasn’t been a good year for Sony, which has been reeling from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami and hacker attacks on its PlayStation Network that the company said will cost it $2 billion in operating profit this fiscal year. … Read More »
Granted Japan’s earthquake and tsunami were not Sony chief Howard Stringer’s fault. But everything else that’s going very wrong at that company is. (Bet he wishes he were back at CBS …) Stringer today felt the need to write a very belated letter of apology (below) to PlayStation Network users for the recent PSN data breach and shutdown since April 20. As the fiasco enters its third week, Congress, the FBI and Sony-hired private computer forensic experts are now trying to find the hackers. And there are lawyers … lots lawyers. Several class-action lawsuits have been filed since confidential data for as many as 100 million users may have been exposed and possibly taken. On Sunday, Sony also took down the multiplayer online games on its Sony Online Entertainment network because it appeared compromised. (PSN provides games for downloading, while SOE hosts online games like EverQuest.) It’s supposed to make gamers feel safer that Sony’s currently in the process of overhauling its entire security system. And Stringer promises PSN will be back online in the “coming days.” But, seriously, this sucks:
I know this has been a frustrating time for all of you.
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