The Morning Fix: Is there life after 'Oprah'? Labor tries to hobble 'Hobbit.' Bewkes loves TV.
After the coffee. Before seeing if "Lone Star" makes it to week three.
TV is good. Remember that clunker of an ABC ad campaign from 10 years ago or so? Well, it's become the mantra of today's media moguls. In an interview with the Financial Times, Time Warner Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes says he doesn't think new technologies and platforms are going to hinder the value or reach of traditional television and the content companies. Said Bewkes: "There’s this inappropriate comparison to the music business, where something happened to them when digital technology arrived on their shores that was akin to the Vikings landing.”
"Hobbit" hoo-ha. There is labor unrest on a movie that hasn't even started production yet. The Screen Actors Guild joined six other unions that represent performers abroad in protest against Warner Bros., New Line and MGM, the studios behind the film "The Hobbit." The unions are charging that the makers of the Peter Jackson-produced movie are unwilling to negotiate with them. Details on the squabble from the Los Angeles Times, Deadline Hollywood and Variety.
Pillaging indie films. While the big studios do a lot of mouthing off about the evils of piracy, indie filmmakers are really getting clobbered by illegal downloads. Richard Verrier of the Los Angeles Times tells the story of Greg Carter, a writer and producer whose movie "A Gangland Love Story" has lost six figures from piracy, by his estimates. While the big Hollywood players have trouble generating sympathy for pirates, Carter notes that what happened to him is akin to someone "walking into your house and stealing your furniture."
Wants to be king. Graham King, producer of "The Departed" and "Avatar," is teaming up with his longtime partners Tim Headington and Peter Schlessel to create FilmDistrict, a production and distribution company that wants to release up to eight movies a year. The plan is to take advantage of the desire of big studios to make huge movies and not mid-level films. More on the venture from the Wrap.
Life after "Oprah." As the queen of daytime talk goes into her final season, the local television stations that carry her fading but still powerful show are trying to figure out how to fill the huge hole that will be created when she leaves. The biggest broadcasters who carry Winfrey's show include Walt Disney Co.'s ABC stations, Hearst Corp. and Raycom. Broadcasting & Cable surveys the landscape and finds most stations are "guarding the answer like a confidential Cold War document." My hunch is because most still don't have an answer. If a station carries both "Oprah" and another successful show such as Ellen DeGeneres' talker or "Dr. Oz." then odds are one of those two would slide into the Winfrey slot. But if they don't have any other bullets in their gun and no new talent emerges in the next year, don't be surprised to see a lot of stations launch another hour of local news. That's not because of some commitment to better serving their communities, by the way, it's because it can be cheaper to make and more profitable to carry than a talk show.
Going for the gold? How aggressive will NBC Universal be in bidding for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics if its new owner Comcast Corp. has any say in the matter. The Hollywood Reporter says that the new entity will shake the playing field in the multibillion-dollar world of televised sports rights. Then its lengthy story contradicts itself left and right. On the one hand, Comcast wants to make Versus, its small sports channel, a legitimate competitor to ESPN. On the other, Comcast is pretty tight with a dollar so don't expect it to spend like a drunken sailor when it comes to sports. In other words, no one really knows what Comcast is thinking with regards to sports but hey, we have to fill pages with crazy speculation that is all over the map, so get used to it.
C'est la vie. As expected, Vivendi SA, the French conglomerate, has sold its 7.7% stake in NBC Universal back to parent General Electric Co. for $2 billion. That sale is part of General Electric Co.'s proposed deal to sell control of NBC Universal to Comcast Corp. Details from the Wall Street Journal.
-- Joe Flint
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