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DirecTV CEO says he's open to mediation to resolve Dodgers TV dispute

Satellite broadcaster DirecTV said it would be open to some sort of mediation to resolve its dispute with Time Warner Cable over carriage of SportsNet LA, the new local TV home for the Dodgers.

Speaking to analysts and investors during its second-quarter earnings conference call, DirecTV Chief Executive Mike White said he is "frustrated" with the negotiations with Time Warner Cable, which has distribution rights for the Dodgers-owned channel.

While White's remarks may be seen as cause for optimism for Dodgers fans, he also suggested that the team should be part of any talks.

"Without active participation of the Dodgers I'm not sure how you get any resolution to this dispute," White said. 

So far, the team has shown little interest in getting actively involved in the standoff. Time Warner Cable acquired distribution rights for SportsNet LA in a 25-year deal worth $8.35 billion, according to a valuation by the Dodgers and Major League Baseball.

Earlier this week, Dodgers President Stan...

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Sony Pictures rides 'Spider-Man' to strong fiscal first quarter

Sony Pictures Entertainment rode the box office performance of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" and "22 Jump Street" to a profitable fiscal first quarter.

For the three months ending June 30, Sony Pictures posted operating income of $78 million, up 109% from a year earlier. Revenue increased 23% to $1.93 billion.

Tokyo-based consumer electronics giant Sony Corp., the parent company of the film and television studio, recorded net income of $265 million, up more than 750% from the same period a year earlier, when it eked out a small profit. Revenue was up 6% to $17.9 billion.

Sony's Culver City studio has been trimming overhead after announcing a cost-cutting initiative at an investors conference in November. Some of the cuts have come through layoffs.

Sony attributed the studio's first-quarter improvement to the "strong worldwide theatrical performances" of its high-profile sequels.

Released May 2, "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" has taken in $707 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo....

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Audiences ready to marvel at 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

"Guardians of the Galaxy" could give the summer box office a cosmic boost this weekend.

The sci-fi action film is expected to gross $70 million to $75 million in ticket sales through Sunday in the U.S. and Canada, while Universal Pictures' James Brown biopic "Get On Up" could bring in $18 million, according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys.

Director James Gunn's "Guardians" film, starring Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Zoe Saldana, is the latest from Disney's Marvel Studios, the unit behind blockbuster franchises such as “Iron Man,” “Thor,” “Captain America” and “The Avengers.”

Walt Disney Studios expects “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which cost about $170 million to make, to gross a more conservative $60 million to $65 million this weekend.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at the entertainment data firm Rentrak, said Marvel’s brand is part of the draw.

“Usually you have to either have a star or be a known commodity like a sequel that’s part of a...

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Michael Bay extends, expands first-look deal with Paramount

Michael Bay, the director and producer behind the $3.7-billion "Transformers" franchise, inked a new three-year deal with Paramount Pictures, the longtime home of his Platinum Dunes production company.

Bay's pact with the studio has been expanded to include his Bay Films banner. The new first-look deal is effective immediately.

“We take great pride in the fact that Michael is part of the Paramount family and we look forward to growing our productive and successful partnership," Brad Grey, Paramount chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Bay's "Transformers: Age of Extinction" is the top-grossing film of 2014, taking in $968 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. The fourth installment in the series earned more than $300 million in Chinese box offices, the highest grossed for any movie in the country.

But the film faced scrutiny from the investment company behind the Beijing real estate development Pangu Plaza, which appeared in the film as part of a product...

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TV ratings: 'America's Got Talent' ties 'Big Brother' in key demo

NBC's "America's Got Talent" and CBS' "Big Brother" tied for first among the key 18- to 49-year-old demographic on Wednesday, elevating both networks to No. 1 in the same category.

According to Nielsen ratings, both reality shows nabbed a 2.2 rating in the key demo. CBS, which had about 5.7 million viewers, and NBC, which had 7.5 million viewers, shared the same rating of 1.5 in the desired demo.

Though down in its rating 4% from Tuesday night's telecast, "America's Got Talent" still wooed roughly 10.6 million people, who tuned in to see which five acts would move on to the semifinals.

"Big Brother" trailed with 6.4 million viewers, finishing as the No. 2 most watched show of the night.

Also on CBS, Halle Berry's sci-fi series "Extant," which shifted to the 10 p.m. slot this week, maintained its rating of 1.1 in the key demo, averaging about 5.9 million viewers overall.

With roughly 1.7 million viewers, CW's series premiere of "Penn & Teller: Fool Us" was the network's second most...

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Dodger channel woes give Time Warner Cable revenue blues

The SportsNet LA debacle is starting to affect Time Warner Cable's bottom line.

Time Warner Cable lowered its revenue projections for 2014 Thursday because of its inability to distribute SportsNet LA, the new TV home of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The channel, which the Dodgers own, is managed by Time Warner Cable, which has been unable to sell it to other area distributors including DirecTV.

"Assume we do not sign affiliate agreements for the Dodger Network this year," said Time Warner Cable Chief Financial Officer Artie Minson on a conference call with analysts to discuss the cable company's second-quarter results.

The company said it was lowering its revenue projection growth for the year from 4.5% to as low as 3.5%. Operating income projections were lowered to 3.75%-4.75% from 5%-6%.

The unit that houses SportsNet LA saw its operating costs jump 56%. Profit for the unit dropped 26% to $173 million.

Earlier this week, in response to pressure from U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks)...

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Big year for indie flicks! Jon Feltheimer's big payday.

After the coffee. Before seeing how "Sharknado 2" did.

The Skinny: I caught Episode 3 of FX's "The Strain" last night and think I'm hooked now. Give it a shot. Today's headlines include Time Warner Cable's second-quarter results, Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer's big payday and a look at the indie film market.

Daily Dose: Former Turner Broadcasting Chairman Phil Kent is going back to school. Kent was named a resident fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. As a resident fellow, Kent will work with students and lead study groups. He also will be "afforded many opportunities to participate in the intellectual life of the Harvard community," the school said. Besides running Turner, Kent is also a former head of CNN. 

If we have lunch, you're buying. Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer had a compensation package worth $63.6 million for the company's fiscal year, which ended in March. Feltheimer's compensation was...

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Kodak to keep making movie film, with Hollywood's support

It looks like Hollywood's in for some more Kodak moments.

Eastman Kodak Co., one of the world's most recognizable film suppliers, is finalizing agreements with industry leaders to keep celluloid in the future of film.

"After extensive discussions with filmmakers, leading studios and others who recognize the unique artistic and archival qualities of film, we intend to continue production," Kodak Chief Executive Jeff Clarke said in a statement Wednesday. "Kodak thanks these industry leaders for their support and ingenuity in finding a way to extend the life of film."

Kodak's sales of motion picture film have declined 96% in the last 10 years because of a widespread conversion to digital displays of movies worldwide, according to data provided by the company.

Founded by George Eastman, Kodak launched the first commercial transparent roll film in 1889. Since then, the company has won 30 awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, including nine Oscar statuettes.


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'Guardians of the Galaxy' captures 93% of Fandango ticket sales

Movie-goers are ready to marvel at "Guardians of the Galaxy" this weekend, according to early Fandango ticket sales.

Fandango, the nation's largest online ticket company, said on Wednesday that the upcoming Marvel Studios blockbuster is poised to be the biggest August pre-seller in the company's history.

James Gunn's sci-fi action film, starring Chris Pratt, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel and Zoe Saldana, captured 93% of this weekend's ticket sales on Fandango and scored 94 out of 100 points on the company's "fanticipation" movie buzz indicator.

“In a year filled with sequels and remakes, ‘Guardians’ feels fresher and more fun than any superhero movie so far this year,“ said Fandango Chief Correspondent Dave Karger in a statement.

After surveying more than 1,000 "Guardians" ticket-buyers, Fandango determined that 95% of those surveyed are attracted to the film's off-the-wall humor.

Already, 80% of those surveyed said they are interested in seeing additional "Guardians" movies even though...

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TV ratings: NBC's 'America's Got Talent' wins the night

NBC's "America's Got Talent" outshined other shows on Tuesday with a whopping 10.5 million viewers tuning in to see the final 12 acts perform live.

The reality show, which had a rating of 2.4 in the desired 18-to-49-year-old demographic, was No. 1 in the key category and overall, helping NBC rise to the top network of the night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Adam Richman's NBC reality show "Food Fighters" jumped 30% from its premiere last week in the key demo, increasing its rating from 1.0 to 1.3. With about 4.7 million viewers, it was the fourth most watched show of the night both in the key demo and overall.

The network got a rating of 2.0 in the key demo and roughly 8.6 million viewers total.

Spanish-language network Univision was the second most watched network in the key demo with a rating of 1.4.

On CBS, "NCIS" was the second most viewed show of the night with 8.2 million viewers and a rating of 1.0 in the key demo. The network was the second most watched of the night with 6.3...

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FCC not happy with Dodgers TV situation. Hollywood to keep film alive.

After the coffee. Before hoping there's no new Dodgers news today.

The Skinny: The Dodgers are keeping me very busy these days. I guess I shouldn't complain. Better to be a reporter with news to write about than one trying to figure out what to do. Today's roundup includes the latest Dodgers news. Also, some big studios are close to a deal with Kodak to keep the ability to make some movies with actual film.

Daily Dose: Can't help but wonder if the fact that so many Dodgers fans can't see Vin Scully call games this season played any part in the legendary announcer's decision to stick around for one more year. Only Time Warner Cable is offering the Dodgers-owned SportsNet LA as other distributors have not signed deals to carry the channel (see below). The situation seems unlikely to resolve itself this season but next year anticipation is that if Comcast is successful in acquiring Time Warner Cable it will move quickly to resolve the dispute.

The umpire is mad. Federal Communications...

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Lawmakers, FCC chairman urge arbitration over Dodgers channel

Political pressure is mounting on Time Warner Cable to bring an end to the bitter standoff that has prevented many Dodgers fans from watching the team on television this season.

More than a dozen members of Congress and the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission have called for the cable giant to find a way to end its dispute with other area pay-TV providers over its distribution of SportsNet LA, the new local TV home for Dodgers games.

The actions mark a potential step forward in what has been stalled negotiations. But it remains to be seen whether the political push will hasten an end to the nearly six-month stalemate.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was particularly harsh on Time Warner Cable, saying in a letter Tuesday to Chief Executive Rob Marcus that he was "troubled by the negative impact that your apparent actions are having on consumers and the overall video marketplace."

The FCC, Wheeler said, "intends to monitor this situation closely in order to determine whether...

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