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Category: Oscars

Sacha Baron Cohen follows Oscars stunt with new Paramount deal

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Fresh off a publicity stunt at the Academy Awards promoting his upcoming film "The Dictator," Sacha Baron Cohen has signed a new deal to produce and star in more movies for Paramount Pictures -- even after he slipped away without actually attending the Oscarcast.

After ginning up huge press coverage about whether he would be allowed to attend the Oscars -- including a phone-in appearance on the "Today" show -- Cohen walked the red carpet in costume as his "Dictator" character Gen. Aladeen. After promising Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences officials not to disrupt the Oscars broadcast, Cohen was given sixth row tickets to watch the ceremony on the condition that he change out of his "Dictator" get-up and into formal attire, a person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly said.

But after walking the carpet and throwing what he claimed were the ashes of deceased North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il on Ryan Seacrest, Cohen never took his seat in the Hollywood & Highland theater. Rather, he was shown into a dressing room inside the theater, where he changed into a tuxedo and then went out a back door to a party off-site, the person confirmed. A spokesman for Cohen did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

PHOTOS: Oscars 2012 best and worst

The Oscars stunt provided a marketing boost to "The Dictator," which will be released by Paramount on May 11.

Under the new deal, Paramount will make Cohen's next film in which he stars as well. The agreement also gives the British star, who made his name on television with "Da Ali G Show," funds to develop new movie projects with his production company Four By Two Films. For the next three years, Paramount will have a first right of refusal on every movie developed by Four By Two.

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Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen on the Academy Awards red carpet Sunday. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Box Office: 'The Artist' leads other nominated films on Oscars weekend

"The Artist" beat the other Oscar nominees still in theaters at the box office. The Weinstein Co.'s black-and-white homage to the silent-film era picked up $3 millionThe winner of the Academy Award for best picture won't be revealed until this evening, but it was "The Artist" that beat other nominees still in theaters at the box office.

The Weinstein Co.'s black-and-white homage to the silent-film era picked up $3 million. Receipts grew a healthy 23% while the movie added only 158 theaters to its previous run of 808. That's a sign that audience interest remains very strong. The movie's average take per location on its 14th weekend in theaters was $3,106, and total domestic box office is now $31.9 million.

Not far behind was the George Clooney drama "The Descendants," which took in $2.2 million, or $2,475 per theater, at 889 locations. The Fox Searchlight release has taken in a very impressive $78.5 million in total at the box office.

Martin Scorsese's big budget 3-D family film, "Hugo," grossed $1.6 million at 501 theaters, down only 5% from the previous weekend. Its average take of $3,134 was the highest of any of the best picture nominees this weekend. But its box-office total of $69.4 million is still disappointing for a movie that cost more than $150 million to make.

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," based on the book about the 9/11 tragedy, took in just $254,000 as it finishes its box-office run with a total of just over $31 million.

The other five best picture nominees -- "The Help," "Midnight in Paris," "Moneyball," "War Horse" and "The Tree of Life" -- are no longer playing in theaters.

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-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Jean Dujardin in "The Artist." Credit: Weinstein Co.

Kodak name banished from Oscar telecast

The Kodak Theatre is no more

The name Kodak will be verboten at the 84th annual Oscar Awards this Sunday, according to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Academy Awards will still take place at what was until very recently known as the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. However, now that Kodak has filed for bankruptcy and gotten out of its naming rights deal for the theater, announcers on the telecast will refer to the facility simply as the Hollywood & Highland Center.

It's not as catchy, but at least no one will have to worry about creditors interrupting the ceremony.

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-- Joe Flint

Photo: Members of the props crew work on moving one of the large Oscar statues before the 2011 Academy Awards. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

 

Kodak name to disappear from Academy Awards theater

KodakOscars
Bankrupt camera and film giant Eastman Kodak Co. won court approval on Wednesday to remove its name from the Hollywood theater that houses the Academy Awards.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Allan Gropper rejected the effort by landlord CIM/H&H Media to compel Kodak to continue with a 20-year sponsorship offer signed in 2000, worth an estimated $72 million, representatives for the two companies confirmed.

The Kodak Theatre opened at the Hollywood & Highland shopping complex in November 2001 and has since housed 10 Oscar ceremonies, as well as other events including the ESPY Awards and the resident Cirque du Soleil show "Iris."

Kodak sought to cancel the agreement, under which it paid approximately $3.6 million a year, to save money following its January filing for Chapter 11 reorganization.

Left undetermined by Gropper is how quickly the Kodak name and signage will be removed from the theater. The camera company had sought to do so immediately, but CIM claimed in an earlier court filing that doing so before the Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 26 is "not practically feasible."

Meanwhile, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has considered moving the Oscars ceremony to the Nokia Theatre in downtown Los Angeles beginning in 2014. An academy spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

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— Ben Fritz

Photo: Preparations for the 2006 Oscars outside the Kodak Theatre. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times.

ABC sells all of its Oscar broadcast commercial spots

NataliePortmanWinsOscar

Commercial time in this month's Academy Awards broadcast is a hot ticket.

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Bob Iger said Tuesday that the ABC network last week sold the remainder of its available advertising time — several weeks earlier than usual. 

"There was demand for even more spots than allowed in [our] contract," Iger said in an earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts. Iger said the network squeezed in a few additional spots before it hit the contractual cap.

ABC fetched an average of $1.7 million per 30-second spot for the 84th annual Academy Awards broadcast on Feb. 26, a slight uptick from last year's rate.

The strong demand by advertisers bodes well for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which relies on television revenue to stage its annual Oscar festivities as well as finance its operations.  Some observers have fretted that the field of nominees, led by "The Artist" and "Hugo," lacks a mainstream blockbuster film that would help lure mass numbers of viewers to the awards telecast. The biggest box-office draw of the major nominated films was "The Help," which had four nominations.  

Billy Crystal will host this year's awards ceremony.

The Academy Awards historically is one of the top television events of the year — often second only to the Super Bowl — and has become advertisers' favorite vehicle to reach women. The show is typically the second most-expensive network TV buy, too, after the Super Bowl. In the advertising world, the event is known as the "Super Bowl for women."

The Oscar audience is also typically upscale, representing viewers with plenty of disposable income, making it all that more attractive to advertisers.

The Oscars ceremony also has drawn high advertiser interest because — like the Super Bowl or the "American Idol" finale — it is broadcast live and viewers watch the commercials rather than speeding through them with their digital video recorders. That makes the ad time more valuable to companies.

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— Meg James

Photo:  Natalie Portman accepts her Academy Award for lead actress for her performance in "Black Swan" at last year's Oscar ceremony.  Credit:  Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

The Morning Fix: More trouble at OWN! Netflix on rebound?

After the coffee. Before another long day in court.

The Skinny: Hollywood makes being a lawyer seem so glamorous, but watching the Golden Globes trial for a few days will clear that image right up. It's hard work and long hours and lots of standing and no coffee allowed. I don't know how they do it. Thursday's headlines include more trouble at OWN, how electronic voting is coming for the Oscars, and a look at this year's Sundance "It" girl.

Oprah Winfrey's OWN network is struggling

The Daily Dose: One question still not answered in the aftermath of Lion Gate's plans to merge with Summit Entertainment is what happens to the latter's deal to sell its movies to HBO. Lions Gate is a partner in Epix, a smaller pay cable channel that competes with HBO. Summit signed a five-year deal with HBO that starts next year. People familiar with the matter think Summit will not try to break the contract with HBO since it is guaranteed revenue for its movies. Still, down the road it may get tricky to determine what (besides a "Twilight" movie) qualifies as a Summit movie that should go to HBO.

Will the last one leaving OWN turn out the lights? OWN, the cable network started by Oprah Winfrey and Discovery Communications, continues to struggle both on air and behind the scenes. On Wednesday, Lisa Erspamer, a top production executive at the network and a longtime member of Winfrey's inner circle, was shown the door, the latest in a string of high-profile departures at the network. Meanwhile, the talk show starring Rosie O'Donnell, which was OWN's big and expensive bet, is generating no heat in the ratings. O'Donnell has gone rogue off air, canning much of the staff of ex-Winfrey workers and abandoning the glitzy and expensive set that was built for her show in favor of a much smaller set that looks to me more like something one would see on a cheesy cable access channel. The details on Erspamer's abrupt departure and OWN's other headaches from Deadline Hollywood.

Some good news for a change. Netflix saw its subscriber and revenue numbers grow in the fourth quarter of 2011, which led investors to push the company's stock price up 13% in after-hours trading. However, profits were still off 13% compared with the fourth quarter of 2010. A look at the numbers from the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal.

Going electric. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is moving ahead with plans to launch an electronic voting system and do away with paper Oscar ballots for its members. Fear not, those accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers will continue to be in charge of counting the votes. The Hollywood Reporter says the move could have "far-reaching implications" for awards season.

Katie's comeback. Former "Today" and "CBS Evening News" anchor Katie Couric was down in Miami earlier this week meeting with television executives at an industry convention to promote her new talk show, which debuts this fall. Couric is banking on the vacancy created by Oprah Winfrey's departure from daytime. USA Today chats with Couric on what her show will be like.

Trading Martha for Marie. Hallmark Channel, which is dropping its association with lifestyle diva Martha Stewart, is close to a deal with Marie Osmond that will see the former teen star host a show for the cable channel, says the New York Post.

Inside the Los Angles Times: Gina Rodriguez is this year's Sundance "It" girl. It's a high-profile gig but it doesn't always turn into a long-term career. After threatening to close down, the motion picture nursing home is going to stay open and add new patients.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter: It's where we pretend to know each other. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: Oprah Winfrey. Credit: Prakash Singh/AFP.

Oscars 2012: 'Descendants' expanding rapidly, 'The Artist' slowly

"The Descendants""The Artist" and "The Descendants" came out of Tuesday's Oscar nominations as top contenders for best picture, but one will be much easier to find in theaters this weekend than the other.

Fox Searchlight is planning a major expansion of the George Clooney drama "The Descendants," expanding the film's run this Friday to more than 1,900 theaters from 560.

The Weinstein Co., meanwhile, is taking a more measured approach to the release of its black-and-white silent movie "The Artist." It will add fewer than 250 theaters this week, going to about 900 from 662.

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"The Descendants" was always scheduled to add at least 1,000 theaters this week, said Searchlight Executive Vice President of Distribution Sheila Deloach. But the movie performed well last weekend after it won best picture (drama) and best actor (drama) at the Golden Globes the previous Sunday. Box-office receipts increased 13% to $2.4 million even though the film dropped 100 theaters.

As a result, the picture is expanding even more rapidly than previously planned and should add substantially to its $51.3-million box office total.

By contrast, Weinstein Co. is planning a slower roll-out of "The Artist" over the next few weeks.

The French movie has already been following such a course, to mixed results. Last weekend it expanded to 662 screens from 216 and grossed almost exactly as much as "The Descendants" at 560, bringing its to-date domestic total to $12.1 million.

People who have seen detailed box-office data said the film has continued to perform well in big cities -- including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York -- where it has been playing several weeks. But in new markets such as Sunrise, Fla., where it debuted last weekend, ticket sales were substantially lower.

Weinstein Co. marketing president Stephen Bruno said that while the independent studio can drive awareness of the movie through advertisements, audiences are likely to be initially hesitant about a black-and-white silent film."When people see the movie and talk to their friends, the grosses hold up," he said.

Paramount Pictures will modestly expand “Hugo”  on Friday to 944 theaters from 650. The Nov. 23 release’s ticket sales have flattened out this month at $56 million but Tuesday’s Oscar attention could help director Martin Scorsese’s big-budget 3-D family movie add to its bottom line.

"Hugo" garnered 11 nominations Tuesday -- more than any other film. "The Artist" received 10 nods and "The Descendants" received five.

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-- Ben Fritz

Photo: George Clooney, left, Shailene Woodley and Nick Krause in "The Descendants." Credit: Merie Wallace / Fox Searchlight

ABC and motion picture academy unveil updated Oscars app

Oscars app for iPhone

Behind-the-scenes moments of the 84th Academy Awards ceremony Feb. 26 will once again be coming to multiple screens near you.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, together with Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Television Group, have updated the Oscars app they introduced last awards season that brings video from the red carpet, backstage and the Governors Ball to portable Apple Inc. devices.

Tuesday's announcement coincides with this morning's unveiling of the 2012 Oscar nominations.

Enhanced features include new ways to experience Hollywood's biggest event of the year from the iPad, iPhone or iPod touch. Viewers will have two ways to view the goings on: in a "watch" mode that provides a guided multi-camera tour of the Oscars, or a "direct" mode that enables viewers to choose their own camera angle.

One pre-show component offers access to awards buzz on Twitter and video from last year's show and original video, plus photos.

"Our team really listened to what fans had to say last year, and made a huge effort to build on the things that worked and make them even better," Karin Gilford, senior vice president of digital media for ABC.com, said in a statement.

The Oscars app is an attempt to hold onto viewers who already use a tablet, smartphone or laptop computer to check their email, surf the Web or post to social media sites while watching TV shows. Its content is designed to complement the live telecast.

ABC sister division Walt Disney Studios is competing for best picture in this year's Oscar race with two movies it distributed for DreamWorks, "War Horse" and "The Help." 

However, Disney's Pixar Animation Studios did not receive a best animated feature nomination for "Cars 2" -- the first time an eligible Pixar movie has been snubbed by the Academy since the animation category was created in 2001.

Pixar's "La Luna" did garner a best animated short film nomination Tuesday.

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-- Dawn C. Chmielewski

Image: The Oscars app. Credit: Disney/ABC Television Group

Oscars 2012: 'The Artist' online ticket sales boosted by noms

Best Picture Nominee The Artist
The fabled "Oscar bump" is already looking real for "The Artist."

Ticket sales for the Weinstein Co.'s black-and-white, largely silent film, which received 10 Academy Award nominations including best picture, jumped 190% on Web retailer Fandango.com in the five hours following the announcement of the nominations Tuesday morning.

Also getting a boost was the George Clooney drama "The Descendants," which received six nominations, including best picture, and sold 65% more tickets than during the same five-hour period Monday morning.

Not every movie benefited from the academy's attention, however. Despite receiving 11 nominations, more than any other film, the Martin Scorsese-directed 3-D family film "Hugo" didn't see any immediate increase in ticket sales on Fandango.

Of course, "Hugo" has also proved the most popular of those three movies, taking in $55.9 million to date. "The Descendants" is close behind with $51.3 million.

But "The Artist" has grossed only $12.1 million thus far, meaning there are a lot more potential moviegoers who haven't yet seen it.

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Photo: Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist." Credit: Peter Iovino / Weinstein Co.

The Morning Fix: Oscar noms out! Diddy goes cable. New Weather man

After the coffee. Before figuring out who the Academy snubbed.

The Skinny: It was five years ago today I quit cigarettes. Just thought I'd share that. Tuesday's headlines include early analysis of the Oscar nominations, a new cable channel from Diddy and a look at one of the most popular channels on YouTube.

The Artist got lots of Oscar nomination love

The Daily Dose: "I haven't seen any of these movies," sports radio personality Dan Patrick quipped Tuesday morning after looking at a list of the nominations for Best Picture. He's not the only one, and that may be a problem for ABC, which airs the awards show. While lots of people tune in for the glitz and gowns, having some popular movies in the running for the top trophies doesn't hurt either. Last year's show, which saw "The King's Speech" take the big prize, averaged 37 million viewers. A far cry from the 55 million that watched in 1998, the year "Titanic" cleaned up. Billy Crystal, you have your work cut out for you.

Crowded field. There will be nine movies including "Hugo," "The Artist" and "The Descendants" vying for Best Picture at next month's Oscars, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced Tuesday morning. Other nominations include Melissa McCarthy for Best Supporting Actress for "Bridesmaids" and, of course, George Clooney and Meryl Streep in the best acting categories. Early thoughts on the nominations from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Variety and Hollywood Reporter.

Big machine. The future of television may be on YouTube. Machinima, a channel on the Google-owned online video site, has a monthly average of 125 million viewers looking at a billion videos. The channel is for video game geeks and draws lots of teenage boys. A look at the channel and the influence it's exerting in the entertainment industry from the Los Angeles TImes.

Diddy TV. Music and fashion mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs is launching a cable music channel and has Comcast on board to carry it, according to Broadcasting & Cable. The channel, dubbed Revolt, is set to launch in December of this year. Former MTV programming exec Andy Schuon is on board to help get it off the ground.

New BFFs. Billionaire investor Ron Burkle, who made his fortune in the supermarket business, has moved from the fringes of Hollywood to the thick of it with an investment in Ryan Kavanaugh's production company, Relativity Media. Maybe he'll get to ride around in Kavanaugh's helicopter! Details from the Wall Street Journal.

Change in forecast. The Weather Channel made some news Tuesday morning, announcing that David Kenny, former president of Web application firm Akama and a Yahoo board member, will become chairman and chief executive of the company. The hire is a further sign of the growing emphasis the Weather Channel is putting on its digital and online operations. He replaces Mike Kelly, a publishing industry veteran who will remain as a consultant. This news is so fresh, we don't even have a link for you.

Guard your wallet. With Time Warner Cable and the Pac-12 Conference launching regional sports channels in Los Angeles later this year, consumers should brace themselves for a hit. Sports Business Daily looks at what these two new channels could do to your cable bill. It won't be pretty.

Home-field advantage. WNBC, the local New York NBC affiliate that will carry the Super Bowl, is poised to make millions more in local advertising now that the Giants are in the game than they would have if the San Francisco 49ers had won. Of course, the same is true for the Boston NBC affiliate because of the Patriots' involvement in the game. Having a local team in the Super Bowl is kind of like winning the lottery for a TV station. More from the New York Post.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: John Horn and Steven Zeitchik look at the contradictions the Sundance Film Festival. Lots of tough films about the bad economy amidst a festival full of booze, caviar and free gifts! Sign me up.

-- Joe Flint

Follow me on Twitter. Don't make me get tough with you. Twitter.com/JBFlint

Photo: "The Artist." Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

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