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Hulu's Jason Kilar 'Thinks Different' about television

Hulu Chief Executive Jason Kilar chose the advertising agency's conference in Los Angeles to do his own riff on Apple Inc.'s "Think Different" campaign.

Instead of saluting "The Crazy Ones" from the memorable TBWA/Chiat/Day ad campaign from 1997 that heralded the rebirth of Apple -- and featured some seminal figures of the 20th century, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi and Albert Einstein -- Kilar offered his own pantheon of innovators.

Kilar saluted those who strove to do better -- including Walt Disney, who conceived of the idea for Disneyland while sitting on a park bench in Griffith Park, watching his daughters ride a merry-go-round; James Dyson, who invented the bagless vacuum cleaner (and brought a sense of industrial design to the bland household appliance), and Steve Jobs, whose iPhone relegated the rotary dial phones to museum pieces.

"I can think of no bigger inspirations for looking at the world around you and looking for a better way," said Kilar, speaking Wednesday at the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies conference at the Beverly Hilton hotel.

Hulu, said Kilar, strives to bring the same relentless innovation to television. "If we're really on our game people will look back on it and will say, "Wow, I can't believe TV was like that in 2007."

The online television service, which is jointly owned by media giants News Corp., Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal, as well as Providence Equity Partners, brought in $420 million in revenue last year. The site, which features television shows from the current season, attracted some 37.7 million viewers last month.

Kilar articulated his oft-repeated vision for the future of television, saying it will become more personalized (the way Internet radio service Pandora delivers music tailored to a listener's taste) and social.

"TV is one of the most social mediums.... The things people talk about most are the weather and television," Kilar said. "With digital, we should be able to encourage social to the core. It's going to be a big, big deal."

Kilar also highlighted some of Hulu's attempts to re-imagine advertising, including allowing the viewer to choose which ad they'd like to watch, or to skip commercials they don't find relevant. Such efforts increase the viewer's ability to remember the promotions they've watched, Kilar said. "The recall goes through the roof because they're mentally engaged with the ad."

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-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Video: Steve Jobs narrates this unaired version of Apple Inc.'s 1997 "Think Different" ad campaign.

On Location: Cameras rolling on Sofia Coppola’s L.A. crime caper

Sofia Coppola began production on "The Bling Ring," starring Leslie Mann and Emma Watson, in Calabasas this week

Independent film darling and Oscar winner Sofia Coppola began production on "The Bling Ring" in Calabasas this week, according to the city clerk's office. The majority of filming, however, is expected to take place in Los Angeles.

The movie, inspired by true events, is about fame-obsessed teens growing up on the fringes of Hollywood celebrity culture who become burglars targeting the homes of stars.

Leslie Mann and Emma Watson star in the film along with a crop of fresh young faces, including Taissa Farmiga, Katie Chang and Maika Monroe. Coppola, daughter of famed director Francis Ford Coppola, also wrote the script and is producing alongside her brother, Roman Coppola, and Youree Henley.

Representatives for Coppola and San Francisco-based production company American Zoetrope declined to comment.

The real Bling Ring, also known as The Hollywood Hills Burglar Bunch, was a group of L.A. teenagers that burglarized numerous celebrities, including Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, by using the Internet to track down their whereabouts and addresses. The group allegedly stole more than $3 million worth of clothing and jewelry in 2008 and 2009.

The burglaries have already inspired adaptations. In the 2010 premiere episode of "Law & Order: Los Angeles," the fictional detectives tracked down a young group of thieves that robbed the rich and famous. A made-for-T.V. movie, also titled "The Bling Ring," aired on Lifetime last year.

This will be Coppola's second consecutive film to tell a uniquely Angeleno tale. Her last picture, Focus Feature's 2010 release "Somewhere," starred Stephen Dorff as an idle Hollywood actor going through an existential crisis while living at the legendary Chateau Marmont.

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-- Dima Alzayat

Photo: Sofia Coppola on the set of Focus Features' "Somewhere." Credit: Franco Biciocchi / Focus Features

On Location: 'Iron Man 3' lands in North Carolina

Iron_Man_Robert_Downey_Wilmington_Screen_Gems

In a blow to Los Angeles' below-the-line community, Marvel Studios will take its next "Iron Man" movie to Wilmington, N.C.

After weeks of speculation about where the movie would land, EUE/Screen Gems co-owner and Chief Operating Officer Chris Cooney confirmed Thursday that Manhattan Beach-based Marvel will shoot its next "Iron Man" movie at his studio in North Carolina.

“We aggressively pursued this piece of business,” Cooney said at a press conference held at the studio. “We negotiated hard and it paid off.”

Marvel also had been considering Michigan, but uncertainty surrounding the future of that state's tax credit took it out of the running.  Marvel executives also weighed filming in Los Angeles -- where the first two films in the superhero franchise were shot -- and New Mexico, but executives were ultimately wooed by North Carolina’s 25% film tax credit, in addition to the large Wilmington studio. California offers a film credit of up to 25% but it excludes big-budget movies like "Iron Man 3."

“We have a massive film facility and the third-largest film and television based crew in the country,” EUE/Screen Gems Executive President Bill Vassar said.

Vassar also noted that EUE/Screen Gem’s relationship with Disney, which bought Marvel Studios in 2009, played an instrumental role in getting Marvel executives to consider the Wilmington studio for filming. EUE/Screen Gems, which owns additional studios in Manhattan and Atlanta, also operates a lighting and grip company in Charleston, S.C., that has worked with Disney on several projects including the ABC pilot “Revenge" and four seasons of the television series “Army Wives."

“We’ve been under Disney’s radar for a long time,” Vassar said. “We have a wonderful relationship with them.”

“Iron Man 3,” scheduled for a 2013 release with a budget estimated at more than $140 million, will be the largest film to shoot in North Carolina so far. Offices will open in early January and cameras are expected to start rolling in the spring, Vassar said.

Most of the production, expected to last about 10 months, will take place in the state. Marvel will use all 10 of EUE/Screen Gem’s stages, the largest of which is 37,5000 square feet and includes a special-effects water tank, over the course of production.

At the press conference, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue predicted an economic windfall for the state. The movie is expected to create 550 jobs for crew members and crafts people and pump $80 million into North Carolina's economy, Perdue said.

Representatives of Marvel were unavailable for comment.

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-- Dima Alzayat

Photo: EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, N.C. Credit: EUE/Screen Gems.

Crest theater to close for renovations, Bigfoot executive says

Majestic A year after buying the former Majestic Crest theater in Westwood, Bigfoot Entertainment plans to close the movie house for an unspecified period of time to undergo renovations.

Ashley Jordan, chief executive of Big Foot Entertainment, based in Venice, said the theater would temporarily close in early October after it finishes hosting the Singafest Asian Film Festival.

Jordan said the Bigfoot Crest Theater -- a Los Angeles landmark founded in 1941 by Frances Seymour Fonda, wife of actor Henry Fonda -- needed renovations. The newly appointed executive said it was not clear how extensive the upgrades would be, or when the theater would reopen.

"We're going to assess the future and how much we want to put into it,'' Jordan said. "We have to figure out what we are going to do with it."

Jordan declined to say whether the 460-seat theater, which Bigfoot acquired last year for about $4 million, was up for sale.

The company, whose owner is German investor and filmmaker Michael Gleissner, produces action and horror movies as well as TV programs and reality shows. Bigfoot had planned to use the theater to showcase films it produced or acquired.

Carmike Cinemas, which Bigfoot tapped to manage the theater, will not continue its relationship with the Crest, Jordan said, declining to specify the reasons. Carmike representatives were not immediately available for comment.

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Photo credit: Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times

 

On Location: Soderbergh brings 'Magic Mike' to L.A.

Soderbergh
 
With his latest pandemic thriller “Contagion” enjoying critical praise and generating more than $50 million in ticket sales, Steven Soderbergh has already started rolling the cameras on his next project, and this time, he’s keeping it in town.

The Oscar-winning director, who hasn’t shot a film primarily in L.A. since 2006’s “The Good German,”  recently began production on “Magic Mike,” a comedy about male strippers living in Tampa, Fla., at Mulligan’s Family Fun Center in Torrance. The five-week shoot, which will mostly film in L.A. with some on-location filming to take place in Florida, has since shot scenes in Hollywood and Studio City and at Dockweiler Beach, according to FilmL.A. Inc., the nonprofit that handles film permits.

Soderbergh’s filming locations have spanned several states and countries over his lengthy career, which began more than two decades ago with the cult classic “Sex, Lies and Videotape.” “Contagion” was shot primarily in Illinois, a state the director has also used for filming parts of “Ocean’s Eleven,” “Ocean’s Twelve” and “The Informant!” His next film to hit theaters, “Haywire,” a spy thriller starring Channing Tatum that is scheduled for a Jan. 20 release, was shot largely in Ireland.

“Magic Mike,” is based on Tatum’s early life as an exotic dancer in Tampa and has Tatum playing the title character, Mike Martingano, a veteran stripper who takes a newbie dancer, played by Alex Pettyfer, under his wing. Matthew McConaughey, Olivia Munn, Joe Manganiello and Elvis Presley’s granddaughter, Riley Keough, will also star in the film.

The privately financed project does not yet have domestic distribution and is being produced by Nick Wechsler, Gregory Jacobs, Tatum and Reid Carolin, who also wrote the script.

A publicist for the film said producers were unavailable for comment.

After “Magic Mike,” Soderbergh is planning to direct the Warner Bros. film “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” based on the 1960s television series and scheduled to begin shooting in February, and the biopic “Liberace” about the flamboyant pianist, scheduled to start filming in June.

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On-location film production flat last week in L.A.

Feb.chart On-location film production was as flat as Wilshire Boulevard last week, with overall production days down 1% compared with the same period a year ago, according to FilmLA Inc., the nonprofit film permitting group.

One production day is defined as a single crew's permission to film at a single location in a 24-hour period.

Features generated 106 production days, down 5% from the same week in 2010. Major films currently shooting on location in L.A. include "Welcome to People," a DreamWorks drama starring Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde and Michelle Pfeiffer; and Twentieth Century Fox's sci-fi thriller "NOW" with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried and the fourth installment of the "Spider-Man" series from Sony Pictures.

Pine Commercial activity, which began to slow in the fourth quarter, was also down 5% with 174 production days, while TV production was up slightly at 1% with 425 days. 

Local TV production has been fueled by such shows as NBC's drama "The Event," and FX's crime series "Justified" and the ABC crime drama "Castle."

Although commercial production is up nationwide as advertisers spend more as a result of the improved economy, L.A.'s share of commercial filming has declined in recent years as other states such as New Mexico, New York and Illinois grab more of the business.

For more details on what's filming where, see the accompanying chart.

 -- Richard Verrier

Photo: Chris Pine is stars in the DreamWorks movie "Welcome to People," which is currently filming in L.A. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images
 
 

 

On Location: Film survey ranks Griffith Park, downtown warehouse and former hospital among busiest sites in 2010

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When producers of the ABC game show “Downfall” needed a building from which to hurl dishwashers, gumball machines and other “prizes,” they settled on a warehouse on the east side of downtown Los Angeles.

The six-story building on Terminal Street, near the corner of 7th and Alameda streets, was among the most popular on-location filming sites in the region in 2010, along with a long-shuttered hospital in Boyle Heights and a faux Route 66 pit stop on the edge of the Mojave Desert, according to a recent survey by the nonprofit group FilmL.A. Inc., which handles film permits for location filming in city of L.A. and much of L.A. County. The data track filming done outside the major studios on city streets and on soundstages that aren’t certified by the fire department.

Topping the list of the year’s 10 most popular sites was Griffith Park, a favorite of location scouts because of its diverse terrain that spans more than 4,210 acres, drawing shoots from such TV shows as CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

LocationMore surprising was No. 2 on the list: the six-story building on Terminal Street, a former manufacturing facility built in 1913 that is housed in the same complex as clothing designer American Apparel Inc.

Now called Central City Studio, the building has been remodeled with various stage sets. Along with a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, it includes a “fully dressed” hospital, complete with emergency room and morgue.

Last year, the studio catered heavily to low-budget cable shows, including multiple episodes of the Spike TV’s “1,000 Ways to Die,”  Discovery's Fit & Health channel series “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” and Animal Planet's "I'm Alive”

“I’m an RN so this is my area of expertise,’’ said Lucy Doty, who opened the facility a year and half ago and also serves as a medical consultant on shows.

Several low-budget feature films, including a drama about the homeless called “Monday” also shot there last year. “The building has excellent space for filming, it gives you a gritty, industrial look and it’s relatively cheap,’’ said Crystal Wortman, location manager for “Monday.”

View on interactive map Another downtown venue, the 20-acre Los Angeles Center Studios, was the third-busiest site for on-location filming. A private street runs through the property and it is often used for filming by the TV shows that are based at the studio, including AMC’s “Mad Men” “Law & Order: Los Angeles” and TNT’s “Southland,” said Sam Nicassio, the studio’s president.

“We try to continually add new sets to keep our location fresh,” Nicassio said.

In Boyle Heights, the former Linda Vista Community Hospital attracted several independent films and TV shows in 2010, and has played host over the years to such medical dramas as “E.R.” and movies that included director Wolfgang Petersen’s 1995 sci-fi thriller “Outbreak” about a deadly virus.

“What makes it a great location is that it’s large, you can really get lost in there, and it’s foreboding,’’ said Daniel Schwartz, executive producer of Travel Channel’s “Ghost Stories,” which filmed an episode at the hospital last year entitled “The Ghost of Dr. Edwards.”

Also among the most popular filming desinations last year was a desert outpost east of Lancaster called Club Ed, which includes a 1950s-style diner, motel and gas station built as a set for an obscure 1991 Dennis Hopper movie “Eye of the Storm.” The 12-acre ranch is popular for fashion shoots, commercials, music videos and some TV shows, such as “Southland.”

“I’m not going to be a millionaire out of it,’’ said ranch owner Randy Czajkowski, adding that his facility generates revenue of $300,000 to $550,000 a year. “But it’s a good business.”

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Crew members get ready to film a scene for "NCIS: Los Angeles" on Ocean Front Walk in Venice. Venice Beach attracted 96 production days and 90 shoots in 2010, including the feature film "The Good Doctor." Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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Comcast: Take the bus, park the golf carts at the office

Golfcarts 
Comcast Corp. executives are preparing for a "global" town hall meeting Thursday to introduce the approximately 30,000 NBC Universal employees to the new leadership.

Comcast officially assumes control of NBC Universal on Friday, but Thursday's town hall meeting, moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, is being designed to set the tone for the new administration.  Employees at five locations will receive the Comcast "credo," a set of business objectives, along with a book that features the three founders of the soon-to-be melded company: Carl Laemmle, who in 1909 formed the Independent Moving Picture Company of America, the precursor to Universal Studios;  David Sarnoff, the radio pioneer who was intregal to the formation of NBC in 1926; and Ralph J. Roberts, who in 1963 bought a small cable TV system in Tupelo, Miss., and over the next five decades built Comcast, which soon will be among the nation's largest media companies. Ralph Roberts' son, Brian, is the CEO of Comcast.

Last week, employees in Burbank and Los Angeles received invitations to Thursday's town hall meeting  "to be a part of history to celebrate the formation of the new NBC Universal." The invitation "strongly" encourages workers to attend the telecast, which will be held at the Universal Amphitheatre. Employees will be able to park in one of Universal's hulking parking structures or hop a shuttle bus, which will be at the ready at 7 a.m.

Employees were told they must be in their seats by 8:30 a.m. — earlier than the 9 a.m. when much of the workforce usually rolls in.

Those trying to read the Comcast tea leaves were puzzled by one sentence in the invite: "Golf Cart Parking Will Not Be Available."  Was that because Comcast wanted to send a message that ranking studio executives, who can tool around the film studio lot in golf carts, should ride in the shuttle buses like ordinary employees?

No, said one high-level executive. There just isn't enough space around the amphitheatre to accommodate a flotilla of golf carts.

After the webcast featuring Brian Williams interviewing new NBC Universal Chief Executive Steve Burke, a localized session will follow. In Los Angeles, Brian Roberts, Universal Studios chief operating officer Ron Meyer and the new chairman of NBC Entertainment, Bob Greenblatt, will take questions from employees.  

At two other locations — NBC's headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York and Telemundo's production center in Hialeah, Fla. — demand is so high that employees must enter a lottery for a chance to win a ticket to the telecast, which also is being beamed to Comcast's headquarter's in Philadelphia and NBC's offices in London.

Employees have been told they must surrender their old NBC Universal badges on Thursday in order to receive a new Comcast-issued NBC Universal badge.

— Meg James

Photo: Golf carts at Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times.

 

On Location: 'The Dark Knight Rises' in L.A. as studio sets up production office

Batman 

"The Dark Knight Rises" could give Los Angeles a much-needed lift.

The next installment in the Batman franchise will film at least partially in Los Angeles beginning this summer, people familiar with the project said.

Warner Bros. recently set up a production office for "The Dark Knight Rises" at the Los Angeles Center Studios, where director Christopher Nolan also had an office during the filming of "Inception," which filmed in six countries but featured some key scenes in L.A.

Although it's not clear how much of the movie will film locally, having a major studio feature (with an estimated budget of at least $175 million) shoot even partially in town comes at a welcome time for L.A., which also is playing host to the fourth installment of the "Spider-Man" franchise. The region has been struggling to keep such big productions from shooting outside of California.

The previous Batman "Dark Knight" was filmed in Chicago and Britain, which has attracted a number of feature films because of its film tax credit.

As our sister blog Hero Complex reported, Anne Hathaway will take on the role of Catwoman and Tom Hardy will play the villainous Bane in the next Batman movie, with Christian Bale returning in the title role.

-- Richard Verrier

Photo: Christian Bale as Batman in 2008's "The Dark Knight." Credit: Stephen Vaughan / Warner Bros. 

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