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Hollywood & entertainment industry news
NBCUniversal to settle suit by former interns for $6.4 million

NBCUniversal and a group of former interns have agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit contending the interns should have been paid for their work.

The $6.4-million settlement, subject to court approval, would be shared by thousands of interns, including some who worked at "Saturday Night Live."

The lawsuit is among several that have roiled the entertainment industry in New York and Los Angeles, where unpaid internships have long been a cost-saver for television networks, movie studios, production companies and music labels — and a foot in the door for Hollywood hopefuls.

The settlement would be the largest yet among several cases filed by interns against entertainment companies. Last year, for example, talk show host Charlie Rose and his production company paid about $110,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by former unpaid interns, with part of the proceeds going to the interns as back pay.

However, attorney Cheryl Orr, chairwoman of Drinker Biddle & Reath's national labor and...

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Look Cinemas learns that it's deemed a threat

Veteran theater industry executive Tom Stephenson and his partners invested $20 million last year to open a luxury 11-screen theater in an affluent suburb of Dallas where patrons can order food and drinks in plush recliners.

But the future of his Look Cinemas was thrown into question when Stephenson recently learned that he would not be getting the third installment of the hugely popular "Hunger Games" franchise next month. Instead, the movie will be first shown at a new AMC Theatres multiplex less than a mile away.

Stephenson was even more stunned to learn that his theater was placed on a list of cinemas from Harlem to La Jolla that AMC deemed "predatory competitors."

According to a confidential memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times, the world's largest theater chain singled out Look Cinemas and a dozen other mostly independent theaters nationwide as threats to its business.

AMC asked studios to grant it "clearances," a long-standing practice in the exhibition industry in which...

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Comcast's big gain in Internet service users fuels 50% profit increase

Comcast Corp. added 315,000 high-speed Internet service customers during the third quarter, surpassing analysts' estimates for subscriber growth and boosting the company's earnings.

The gains more than offset Comcast's loss of 81,000 cable television customers during the July-through-September period. Still, that marked the Philadelphia cable giant's best third-quarter retention of TV subscribers in seven years.

Wall Street closely monitors subscriber trends to gauge the overall health of the company — and the entire pay-TV industry.

Analysts have been watching for evidence that consumers have been cutting the cable cord — or just switching to another provider. Comcast attributed its improved retention to the wider rollout of its upgraded bundled packages of Internet and TV service, which have been deployed in 5 million homes.

Comcast already is the nation's largest cable operator. It is awaiting government approval of its $45-billion acquisition of Time Warner Cable Inc., which would...

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AMC Networks pays $200 million in deal to operate BBC America

AMC Networks has completed a deal to acquire a 49.9% equity stake in BBC Worldwide's BBC America cable channel for $200 million.

 The deal forges a relationship between the cable network company, which boasts such shows as "The Walking Dead" and "Rectify," and the cable outlet that is home to such shows as "Doctor Who" and "Orphan Black."

As part of the joint venture, which was announced Thursday after months of talks, New York-based AMC will take over operational control. It will handle affiliate and advertising sales and manage the channel "consistent with BBC's editorial standards and policies."

AMC chief Josh Sapan told The Times on Thursday that it was a logical move for the two parties.

"We really have for a long time appreciated the effect and success of BBC America and what they've done from a content point of view. Their work speaks for itself. We share an editorial vision. And joining forces improves and increases all of that."

BBC America is currently available in...

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Mayor Eric Garcetti thanks CBS for keeping 'The Late Late Show' in L.A.

"The Late Late Show" is, as expected, leaving its heart (and production) in Los Angeles--and for that, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is thankful.

Early on Thursday, CBS revealed the dates of the baton hand-off for its often overlooked "Late Late Show." Craig Ferguson will step down from his hosting perch on Dec. 19 after a 10-year run, with his replacement, British comedian James Corden, stepping onto the stage on March 9.

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For the Record
Oct. 24, 10:36 a.m.:
An earlier version of this article included a quote about NBC moving "The Tonight Show" to New York that was incorrectly attributed to Mayor Eric Garcetti. The quote was from a Times reader.
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But for Garcetti, the bigger cause for celebration is that there's a victory for L.A. in all of this, given that the talker will stay put in Southern California.

"I want to thank CBS for keeping 'The Late Late Show' in Los Angeles," Garcetti said in a statement. "We are proud to be home to so many CBS productions that provide...

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NBCUniversal CEO Burke says cable channels face challenges

Media companies' most reliable cash cow -- their clusters of cable TV channels -- could be headed for some rough terrain.

On Thursday, NBCUniversal Chief Executive Steve Burke warned Wall Street not to expect cable TV channels to produce the same fat profits as they have during the last five years or so.

Since 2008, cable channels have generated among the highest margins in the business. The consistent cable programming profits boosted media companies' earnings even when their big-ticket movies bombed at the box office, and their broadcast TV shows nose-dived in the ratings.

NBCUniversal, in particular, was particularly dependent on its portfolio of cable channels -- including USA Network, Bravo, Syfy, CNBC and MSNBC -- during the lean years after the U.S. financial crisis when General Electric owned the company.

Shifts in consumer behavior, Burke said, are beginning to crimp cable programming ratings -- and profits.

"It's going to be more and more challenging," Burke said of the cable...

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