Longtime TV Guide columnist Joe Finnigan died January 22 in Sun Valley, CA after a long illness. He was 88. Finnegan began writing about Hollywood after landing in UPI’s Los Angeles bureau in the late 1950s, writing one of UPI’s two daily Hollywood columns. In 1965, Finnigan segued to TV Guide’s Hollywood bureau where, for the next 18 years, he penned the iconic, yellow-page “TV Teletype” column, along with features, profiles and interviews. He also wrote the “Inside Hollywood” column for the Daily Racing Form and worked as a writer/guest prep interviewer for The Merv Griffin Show. He later wrote for the now-defunct Television-Radio Age and Emmy magazine. Throughout the years, Finnigan also was occasionally cast as an extra in a TV series or movie, with credits including TV’s McHale’s Navy and Hazel and films Seven Days In May and The Patsy.
CBS Interactive will feature some of the magazine’s content on TV.com and TVGuide.com, and help sell subscriptions on those sites plus Metacritic, CNET, CHOW and GameSpot. In return, TV Guide will promote CBS Interactive, as the companies put it, “within the pages of TV Guide Magazine.” The release announcing the arrangement doesn’t say anything about editorial independence. But TV Guide Magazine CEO Jack Kliger notes that the deal will give the publication ”a more robust digital presence” as it “solidifies our relationship with CBS, one of the world’s most prestigious and prolific content producers.” That will “serve our advertisers better” and “cost-effectively support our subscription business.” CBS and TV Guide already had a relationship of sorts: Last May CBS bought the TV Guide trademark and TV Guide Digital. The magazine, owned by OpenGate Capital, remained separate. Its ad sales increased 5.9% in 2013 to $121.8M according to Publishers Information Bureau data. This morning’s announcement says that the magazine has a “total weekly audience” of about 12M adults, but provides no figure for the print publication’s circulation.
TV Guide Magazine Owner OpenGate Capital Forms Media Acquisition Unit With Jack Kliger And David Fishman
A lot of moving pieces here: In conjunction with the announcement about the new venture, OpenGate Capital named Jack Kliger CEO of TV Guide Magazine — he had been “acting CEO” since 2009 — with David Fishman becoming COO. The execs know their way around the business. Kliger was a long-time honcho at Advance Publications where he helped launch Conde Net, and was publisher of Glamour and GQ. And Fishman had been CEO of Hachette Filipacci Media’s television subsidiary RTM Productions. OpenGate says that the new collaboration will create “an efficient platform for the pursuit of media assets in need of significant rejuvenation or strategic repositioning.” Partner Robert Lezec adds that TV Guide Magazine “has been profitable for the past three years while the magazine industry continues to experience significant upheaval. We will take the same prudent strategy that is applied to OpenGate’s other portfolio companies and apply it to the new media assets we will either acquire or manage.” Here’s OpenGate’s release:
Here’s the full list of the 101 Best Written TV Shows Of All Time revealed tonight by the Writers Guild of America and their sponsor TV Guide in an event at the WGA theatre in Beverly Hills. This one seems tailored to some very short memories, or perhaps it is just designed to sell magazines for TV Guide. Voted on by the WGA membership in May 2012, this list does not have any completely disastrous embarrassments among the shows chosen. But there are a number of ridiculously shocking omissions in my opinion. In summary, the WGA membership could and should have done a lot better. It’s a slap to what many called the Golden Era of television - the 1950s and 1960s – because only a single show from that era, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone (1959), was deemed worthy enough to make the top 10. The rest of the top 10 were all from 1970 forward: HBO’s The Sopranos led followed by #2 Seinfeld, #3 Twilight Zone (1959), #4 All In The Family, #5 M*A*S*H, #6 The Mary Tyler Moore Show, #7 Mad Men, #8 Cheers, #9 The Wire and #10 The West Wing. Let the arguments begin.
This TV list is a sequel of sorts to the WGA’s 2005 roster of the Top 101 Screenplays which many still argue over (led by 1943′s Casablanca but inexplicably putting Groundhog Day at #27 well above classics like Midnight Cowboy, The Searchers, Psycho, The Bridge On The …
EXCLUSIVE: A month after CBS Corp acquired 50% of TV Guide, the company that encompasses TVGN (formerly TV Guide Network) and TVGuide.com, I hear CBS is in the process of taking full ownership of TVGuide.com. CBS has been in a 50-50 partnership with Lionsgate on TV Guide since buying the stake previously owned by One Equity Partners for about $100 million in late March. I’ve learned that CBS is in negotiations with Lionsgate about acquiring its half of TVGuide.com. The website had been valued at about $20 million, and I hear CBS is paying a little shy of $10 million for Lionsgate’s half of the Web property. I hear DirecTV had been in exclusive negotiations to acquire TVGuide.com, but the talks did not result in a deal. CBS then decided to step in and incorporate TVGuide.com into its CBS Interactive division, which includes the similar-focused TV.com as well as CNET, CBS.com, CBSSports.com, GameSpot, BNET and Last.fm.
CBS Corp. just announced that it is acquiring 50% of of TV Guide, the company that encompasses TVGN (formerly TV Guide Network) and TVGuide.com. The deal adds a basic cable network to its TV portfolio, which includes broadcast networks (CBS and the CW), a pay cable network (Showtime), international TV channels, a TV studio and syndication unit. As we first reported on Friday, CBS is taking over the TV Guide stake held by One Equity Partners, the private-equity arm of J.P. Morgan Chase, which owned 49% of the company, with an option to buy another 1%. CBS is said to be paying about $100 million, less than the $122 million OEP spent in June 2009. CBS joins TVGN co-owner Lionsgate Entertainment. Here is the release:
Following its agreement last week to acquire Summit Entertainment, Lionsgate Entertainment is looking to sell the TV Guide cable channel and website, Bloomberg reports. Lionsgate hopes to secure “a substantial increase” above the $242 million the company paid in March 2009, according to an unidentified investor briefed on the deal. Lionsgate began shopping TV Guide two months ago and would prefer to sell the channel and website in a single package. Lionsgate sold a 49% stake in the TV Guide properties to JPMorgan Chase in May 2009. In the six months ended September 30 TV Guide’s loss widened to $20.3 million from $13.6 million a year earlier, according regulatory filings, and revenue fell 11 percent to $50.8 million.
Magazines pretty much held on to customers in the first half of 2011 according to a report today from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Subscriptions and single-copy sales at 418 of the most popular titles only fell 1.4% vs the same period last year. The tally was down 2.3% this time last year vs 2009. People continues to lead the pack among entertainment and celebrity-driven magazines: Its average circulation of 3.56M was flat with last year. TV Guide comes in second at 2.02M — its 3.3% decline is a vast improvement from last year when it dropped 28.7%. It was followed by US Weekly (1.98M, +1.4%), Entertainment Weekly (1.80M, -0.1%), Star (880,256, -7%), OK! Weekly (747,040, +7.5%), and National Enquirer (659,562, -9.2%). Money still leads the business and finance magazines with 1.92M, -0.05%. Trailing are Forbes (928,900, +0.7%), Bloomberg BusinessWeek (921,839, +0.1%), Fortune (845,043, -1.4%), and The Economist (844,387, +2.6%).
HBO Pulls ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ And ‘Entourage’ From Station Syndication; Warner Bros Made Calls On Thursday
Both Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage went into syndication this fall on terrestrial broadcast stations for their first season. They were sold to Tribune Co stations as a major launch for the group in late night. But they have performed poorly in the ratings. So HBO recently came to its corporate cousin, Warner Bros Domestic Television Distribution, wanting to pull the shows from syndication. Yesterday, Warner Bros contacted stations to give them the news. However, the series will continue their syndicated runs on cable: Curb Your Enthusiasm on TV Guide Channel, and Entourage on Spike. What HBO plans for the two shows next is unclear.
TV Guide Network has greenlit its first original reality docu-soap, The Nail Files, created and executive produced by Jersey Shore co-creator/executive producer Sally Ann Salsano through her 495 Prods. The Nail Files stars Katie Cazorla, a 32-year-old budding entrepreneur who juggles owning and operating Hollywood’s fast growing celebrity-filled nail salon, The Painted Nail, and her relationship with 52-year-old Grammy-winning music producer Walter Afanasieff. “The producers of Jersey Shore have once again come up with a highly entertaining, non-scripted series capturing the fascinating lives of colorful individuals, this time against the backdrop of Hollywood,” said TV Guide’s EVP Diane Robina. Added Salsano, “I love working with entertaining, raw, everyday people with some sass and a point of view.”
TV Guide announced today it promoted two executives to top editorial roles. Debra Birnbaum (whom I tipped last week) was indeed named editor-in-chief, replacing Ian Birch who was forced to exit. Birnbaum had overseen the magazine’s efforts to combine content from across media platforms. Craig Tomashoff, the West coast bureau chief, was named executive editor. The moves and layoffs follow the acquisition of the mag’s parent company Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc by Macrovision Corp, the video technology provider. The name of the combined company is now Macrovision Solutions Corp. Macrovision has said it intends to sell the print version of TV Guide and its TV Guide-branded cable channel but hold on to the popular TV Guide Web site and Gemstar’s technologies that drive electronic TV programming guides. The once venerable TV Guide magazine has flailed in recent years, going through an overhaul in 2005 after losing millions of dollars because of plummeting newsstand sales. The TV Guide layoffs led to exits of the two managing editors Lois Draegin and Steve Sonksy and several others, including the marketing department, on the eve of its annual high-profile “Sexiest Stars” party in LA. News Corp dumped TV Guide last fall. (See my previous, “TV Guide Getting Gutted Today”.)
(I’ve woven in more info…) Add TV Guide to the long list of publications undergoing massive downsizing. It’s yet another sign of the shifting fortunes of TV in general along with the downsizing in network pilots and upfronts etc. An insider tells me that editor Ian Birch and the two managing editors Lois Draegin and Steve Sonksy and several others, including the marketing department, got the word this morning they’d be exiting. I heard that Birch, an editor at Heat (that hot tabloid in the UK) didn’t even come in to the building today, while publisher Scott Crystal and a Human Resources henchwoman were “running around handing out the news that TV Guide is getting gutted today.” The timing couldn’t be worse: TV Guide is holding its annual high-profile “Sexiest Stars” party in LA on Thursday.
Crystal just told the staff they will have a new editor in place by end of next week. (Rumors are it may be Debra Birnbaum…)
News Corp dumped TV Guide last fall and the mag moved out of the News Corp building in December. I hear some stockholder meeting by current owner Macrovision is happening today. Word is Macrovision is looking for a new owner for the magazine and, if none is found, the print version could shutter. Supposedly, Macrovision only bought Gemstar-TV Guide for the digital technology. Word is the company will keep the technology and the on-line version of TV Guide and sell the print version which does retain 3.5 million subscribers. But I’m told the print edition had …