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Hollywood & entertainment industry news
Tearjerker 'If I Stay' is expected to top box office

Moviegoers will likely head to the theaters this weekend with Kleenex in one hand and tickets to the adaptation of the young adult novel “If I Stay" in the other.

The PG-13 tearjerker is expected to gross a solid $25 million in its opening weekend, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys.

Warner Bros., the studio releasing the film, does not believe the film will open with more than $20 million - but either way, "If I Stay" should end up ahead of the weekend's two other debuts, graphic novel adaptation sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” and inspirational sports film “When the Game Stands Tall."

Based on the 2009 bestselling book by Gayle Forman, "If I Stay," co-financed and co-produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and New Line Cinema, cost about $11 million to make.

Directed by veteran documentarian R.J. Cutler, the film follows the love story of teenagers Mia (Chloë Grace Moretz) and Adam (newcomer Jamie Blackley). Stuck in a coma after a car crash that...

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SoundCloud joins the music streaming mainstream with advertising

SoundCloud, a popular destination for music on the Web, is going commercial.

The site has attracted millions of users with free streaming audio and no ads. But its days as a commercial-free service are coming to an end.

Late on Wednesday, the Berlin-based company said it will start placing ads on its service as part of a broader effort to generate revenue, some of which will go to record labels and artists that sign up for its advertising program.

"We're trying to help creators make money with us, and advertising is one way to do that," said Jeff Toig, the company's chief business officer. 

The switch from ad-free may seem like crossing over from punk rock to top-40, but it shouldn't come as a surprise from the company that has raised $100 million from investors including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Union Square Ventures and Index Ventures. 

Ads have become the norm for the crowded streaming music industry, and the decision to include commercials puts SoundCloud in the company of...

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TV ratings: 'Big Brother' wins key demo, 'Talent' gets most views

CBS' "Big Brother," which featured special guest Kathy Griffin, won the television ratings battle Wednesday night among the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic and boosted the network to No. 1 in the desired category.

However, NBC, which aired "America's Got Talent" and "Taxi: Brooklyn," won the night overall averaging 6.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

"Big Brother," which drew roughly 6.5 million viewers, earned a rating of 2.3 among the key demo, a 10% boost from last week's episode.

According to data provided by Canvs, a social TV platform created by social media insights firm Mashwork, "Big Brother" also won the night on social media.

There were 101,730 total tweets about this week's episode. About 40,230 of the tweets were categorized as "reactions," meaning they contained emotion. 

Also on CBS, Halle Berry's sci-fi series "Extant," which had roughly 5.5 million viewers, stayed even with last week's episode. With a rating of 1.0 in the key demo, it tied with its series low....

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Research firm Screen Engine acquires ASI Entertainment

With the goal of bringing together industry leaders in film and television research, consulting firm Screen Engine announced on Wednesday that is acquiring ASI Entertainment.

"This will be a game changer for all of us and especially for our clients," Screen Engine founder and Chief Executive Kevin Goetz said in a statement. "Our hope is that we become true industry disrupters as we fuse the innovative products that our two companies have built to form the industry’s ‘go-to’ firm for all media and entertainment needs.” 

The Century City company provides research and marketing information on movies.

ASI, which has been in business for more than 50 years and is in the San Fernando Valley, is known for pioneering dial testing research for television programming. 

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Screen Engine will continue to focus on film-related research. ASI, which will now be known as Screen Engine/ASI, will remain focused on television and advertising industries.

Screen Engine/ASI...

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Al Jazeera America rejects allegations in Al Gore's lawsuit over sale

The Al Jazeera America television network is rejecting claims it owes former Vice President Al Gore and his business partner $65 million.

Last week, Gore and business partner Joel Hyatt sued the satellite TV service owned by the Qatari royal family for fraud and breach of contract. The two men alleged Al Jazeera America Holdings illegally withheld $65 million of the agreed-upon $500-million purchase price for cable channel Current TV, which was rebranded as a news network, Al Jazeera America.  

Al Jazeera America, in a statement, called some of the Gore-Hyatt public statements “blatantly false” and “potentially misleading.” The network said the matter is simply “an ordinary commercial dispute.”

"The lawsuit and statement simultaneously issued by Al Gore’s celebrity trial lawyer were designed to grab headlines with misleading accusations like 'fraud' and 'price discount,'" the statement said.

Current Media, founded by Gore and Hyatt nearly a decade ago as a youth-oriented news and pop...

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TV ratings: 'America's Got Talent' helps NBC win the night

Though down from last week, the final phase of live quarterfinal performances on NBC's "America's Got Talent" won the night in ratings, according to Nielsen.

With a rating of 1.9 in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the show decreased 10% from last week and tied its series low in ratings.

But with roughly 9.3 million viewers, the Nick Cannon-hosted reality show was still the most viewed program among the desired demo and overall.

The network also aired an episode of "Food Fighters," which was up 10% from last week with a rating of 1.1 in the key demo. Roughly 4.6 million people tuned in to the Adam Richman-hosted culinary competition show.

NBC averaged about 7.8 million viewers total, helping the network earn a rating of 1.6 in the key demo.

Meanwhile, Spanish-language network Univision was the second most viewed in the key demo, with a rating of 1.2.

The network, which was No. 4 most viewed overall, drew in about 3.1 million viewers with its telenovelas "Mi Corazón es Tuyo" and...

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Proposal to expand California film tax credit to get a show of support

California lawmakers are poised to quadruple funding for the state's film and TV tax credit program, but industry supporters aren't leaving anything to chance.

An alliance of unions, producers, small businesses and crew members will converge on Sacramento on Wednesday to demonstrate their support for Assembly Bill 1839.

The bill would increase funding to $400 million annually and would scrap a lottery system to allocate subsidies. Instead, applicants would be chosen based on how many jobs they would create.

AB 1839, or the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act, cleared a major hurdle last week when the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 5 to 0 in favor of the bill, which has wide bipartisan support and is expected to be approved by the full Senate this month.

Still, Gov. Jerry Brown has been silent on the measure, and it remains unclear whether he will be willing to expand funding by that much, given his focus on reining in state spending.

"We never want to...

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'Variety' owner Penske Media to acquire Fairchild Fashion

Jay Penske's media company is buying Fairchild Fashion Media, the owner of such fashion industry publications as Women's Wear Daily, Footwear News and Beauty Inc.

Conde Nast, which currently owns Fairchild Fashion Media, said Tuesday that it wanted to sell its U.S.-based fashion trade brands to better focus on its flagship properties, including Vanity Fair, Vogue, and the New Yorker.

The purchase price was not disclosed, although several publications pegged it at just under $100 million.

Penske, son of auto mogul Roger Penske, formed his media company, Penske Media, more than a decade ago. He made a splash in Hollywood in 2009 when he acquired the juggernaut insider news blog Deadline.com from its founder, Nikki Finke.

Then, nearly two years ago, Penske significantly expanded his empire by buying the granddaddy of Hollywood trades -- Variety -- for about $25 million. 

Last year, Penske Media Corp. folded the print edition, Daily Variety, to focus on a weekly magazine. Breaking news...

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Discovery's 'Shark Week' reels in viewers, sets records among key demos

Discovery Channel's 27th annual "Shark Week," which ran from Aug. 10 to Aug. 16, reeled in 42 million viewers, according to the network.

Though this year's programming was third best to date, behind 62.1 million viewers 2010 and 51 million viewers in 2013, it set ratings records among women and young men.

The weeklong programming finished in first place among all networks in men under 50. It was also was the highest-rated week ever in Discovery's history among women in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, with 639,000 women in that category tuning in.

Programs included late-night talk show "Shark After Dark," "Shark of Darkness: Wrath of Submarine," "Jaws Strikes Back," "Alien Sharks: Return to the Abyss," "Sharkageddon" and "Megalodon: New Evidence."

"Everyone is absolutely thrilled," Michael Sorensen, Discovery's vice president of development and production, told The Times in an interview. "It shows you how engaged the 'Shark Week' fans are as we keep making it bigger and bigger."

...

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Disney stock tops $90 a share, a new high

Walt Disney Co. stock is trading at all-time highs.

Shares of the Burbank entertainment giant closed Tuesday up 12 cents to $90.09 a share. It was the first time in more than 15 years that the stock ended a trading day above $90 a share.

Back in the 1980s and '90s, Disney shares traded above $100 -- but that was before a series of stock splits established new adjusted levels.

On Monday, Disney shares reached $90.37 during intra-day trading. That set a 52-week high for the company.

The stock has increased 18% since January.

Investors approve of Chief Executive Bob Iger's stewardship of the company.

Disney shares also got a boost earlier this month when the company reported strong quarterly earnings. Disney's film studio helped fuel the company's 22% increase in net income for its fiscal third quarter, although its cash cow ESPN sports empire suffered from rising sports rights fees, which weighed down results of the company's television division.

Disney posted net income of $2.25 billion...

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TV ratings: CBS' 'Under the Dome' most watched of night

CBS' "Under the Dome" won Monday night in viewers, elevating the network to No. 1 most watched overall.

Based on a sci-fi novel by Stephen King, the CBS show was up 5% in viewership, with roughly 7.2-million people tuning in compared with the 6.9 million last week, according to Nielsen.

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FOR THE RECORD

An earlier version of the photo with this post incorrectly identified Eddie Cahill as Mike Vogel.

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According to data provided by Canvs, a social TV platform created by social media insights firm Mashwork, there were 6,429 total tweets about this week's episode. About 37.8% of tweets contained an emotion that expressed love.  

It had a rating of 1.5 in the key 18-to-49-year-old demo, tying it with Fox's "Hotel Hell" for third most watched in the key demo. 

With roughly 5.5-million viewers, CBS was the first most watched of the night.

On Fox, both "Hotel Hell" and "Masterchef" saw increases in ratings. With a rating of 2.0, Gordon Ramsay's culinary showdown, up 11%...

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SAG-AFTRA issues statement on journalists' rights in Ferguson

SAG-AFTRA, which represents more than 165,000 actors, journalists and other media professionals, issued a statement on Tuesday calling on law enforcement officials in Ferguson, Mo., to "permit journalists the freedom to do their jobs."

"SAG-AFTRA joins the rest of the journalism community in condemning the arrest and detention of reporters covering the events happening in Ferguson," the union said in a statement. "As a union that represents broadcast journalists, including many local St. Louis broadcasters, we strongly support the rights of journalists not to be impeded in their efforts to report the news."

The statement comes after several journalists voiced incidents of being arrested, detained or threatened while covering ongoing protests in Ferguson after the Aug. 9 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer.

"Just cuffed and searched as we said we were leaving as he asked," Financial Times reporter Neil Munshi tweeted on Sunday, attaching a link to a Vine video of...

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