Entertainment Industry

Category: CAA

Morning Fix: 'Social Network' scores. Rupert Murdoch tilts right again. Sanchez adds to CNN's woes. Quick hook in new TV season. CAA gets an infusion.

After the coffee.  Before seeing if I had the Kansas City Chiefs going undefeated this season.

The Skinny. In Monday's roundup: Sony's "The Social Network" takes the top spot at the box office, but don't look for Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to buy the DVD. CAA has landed a big investment from TPG, a private equity firm, that the talent agency hopes will position it for a bright future in an uncertain world. No new hits so far in the TV season. Legendary producer Stephen Cannell, who died late last week, not only created great TV, he stood up for independent producers against the networks.

Sony likes this! "The Social Network," Sony Pictures' attempt to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the creation of Facebook and the legal battles that followed its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, finished first at the box office, taking in $23 million. That is just a little off from what industry analysts had projected, and the movie easily beat the other two major releases that opened -- "Case 39" and "Let Me In." The real challenge for "The Social Network" will be to avoid being the MySpace or Friendster of movies, starting out hot and then vanishing from the zeitgeist. Box-office analysis from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News

Zuckerberg's thumb is down. Although the box office was good, Facebook and Zuckerberg are not fans of "The Social Network," which people close the company claim is a very distorted look at the history of the social-networking site. Hollywood take creative liberties? Shocking. David Kirkpatrick, who wrote a book on Facebook with the cooperation of Zuckerberg, talks about what he thinks the movie got wrong in the Daily Beast. After reading his article and seeing the movie, I was more surprised by how much Kirkpatrick said the movie got right versus what he said the movie got wrong. OK, so Zuckberberg didn't have sex in a bathroom as implied with the movie; I think he can survive that hit to his reputation.  In the meantime, Zuckerberg is trying to improve his own profile, making a big donation to public schools in Newark, N.J., and appearing on both Oprah Winfrey's show and Sunday's episode of "The Simpsons."

Disney's new new media duo. Walt Disney Co.'s digital aspirations are so big that it takes two executives to run its interactive unit. Over the weekend, the company announced that John Pleasants, chief executive of Playdom, a social gaming site that Disney bought earlier this year, and James Pitaro, who oversees Yahoo Inc.'s media operations, will be co-presidents of Disney Interactive. They replace Steve Wadsworth, who left a few weeks ago. Details from Bloomberg.

CAA's new look. On Friday, Creative Artists Agency announced TPG Group, a firm whose investments include Burger King and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, bought a 35% stake in the talent agency whose clients include Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey. The deal will also see CAA and TPG create a $500-million fund for future investments. The move comes as the movie and television industries struggle to adjust to the shifting digital landscape. Analysis from the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and Deadline Hollywood.

CNN's struggles. It is a cash cow with a brand known the world over, but Time Warner Inc.'s CNN has seen its ratings plummet in the U.S. over the last decade as Fox News has raced to the top and MSNBC has made big inroads. New York magazine looks at the unsuccessful efforts of recently ousted CNN U.S. President Jon Klein to shakeup the network and turn it around, and how its competitors have managed to steal the spotlight. CNN's headaches only got worse on Friday when one of its hosts, Rick Sanchez, was canned for calling Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" a bigot and for taking some shots at CNN management as well. The Washington Post on how Sanchez imploded.

Rupert leans right. Once again, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch has made a big donation that has people talking about the influence of his media company -- whose holdings include Fox News -- on the country's political climate. Murdoch wrote a $1-million check to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is working primarily on behalf of Republican candidates. The New York Times takes a look at Murdoch's spending and what it has people saying about his company.

Quick trigger. The TV season is only a couple of weeks old and already two shows -- Fox's "Lone Star" and ABC's "My Generation" -- have been canceled. So much for having patience when, with so many shows launching at the same time, it's hard to get the attention of viewers. Of course, some shows just are not good, and all the marketing in the world won't make a difference. Variety has a look at the quick hook of the networks.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: Scott Collins looks at the lack of success for most of the TV season's new shows. Legendary producer Stephen Cannell, who died on Friday, not only made a lot of great shows ("The Rockford Files," "Wise Guy"), he was a strong voice for independent producers.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter because it will make Monday go by faster. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Private equity firm TPG Capital takes 35% stake in CAA

Private equity firm TPG Capital has taken a 35% stake in Creative Artists Agency, an investment in Hollywood's premier talent agency that both parties said would spur future growth.

Neither CAA nor TPG would disclose terms of the deal terms,  but the talent agency is valued at roughly $1 billion, according to agency insiders. TPG is investing an estimated $150 million in equity, with bankers contributing an additional $200 million in debt. 

As part of the agreement, CAA and TPG will create a $500-million fund to provide capital for future investments. CAA represents some of the biggest names in Hollywood, including Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, George Clooney, Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Will Ferrell, Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey.

CAA has been in talks with potential investors for the past seven months, Including Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts, seeking an investment partner that would bring the capital and expertise to help grow the agency's business, according to one person with knowledge of the situation.

The agency also carries the financial weight of paying the mortgage on its imposing $35-million headquarters in Century City, where it moved in January 2007 after nearly doubling in size. CAA has also been investing aggressively in the sports business.

The agency began pursuing new types of business as its mainstay -- bringing together writers, directors and actors on television and film projects -- has been under intense pressure in recent years amid changing Hollywood economics.

In 2006, it entered the sports business, and it now represents more than 650 athletes, including NBA all-stars Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and soccer standouts David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. CAA Sports also won the rights to sell major, multi-year corporate partnerships for the new Yankee Stadium and soon-to-be-renovated Madison Square Garden.

"CAA exists for one reason -- our clients," CAA's managing partners said in a statement. "Our new relationship with TPG will help us continue to build momentum in the work we do for our clients."

CAA's managing partners made long-term commitments to remain at the agency.

TPG invests in a number of industries, and has taken stakes in Burger King, Harrah’s, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Beringer Wines, America West Airlines and MGM.

"We look forward to supporting CAA at this exciting inflection point in their evolution as they look to expand their operations and services around the globe," David Bonderman, TPG founding partner, said in a statement.

 -- Dawn C. Chmielewski





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