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Gov. Brown OKs tripling state film tax-credit funding to $330 million
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Hollywood & entertainment industry news
California to hike film tax credits

It's been a slow summer at the box office, but Hollywood got a genuine blockbuster Wednesday — a $330-million deal that will help subsidize film and TV production in California for the next five years.

In a last-minute compromise reached Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown said he would approve legislation that would more than triple the annual tax credits available for movies and TV shows produced in California. The bill is aimed at reversing the loss of location shoots to other states that offer rich incentives to studios and producers.

Backers originally sought $400 million in tax credits over four years. Brown cut that by $70 million annually, but agreed to extend the program for one additional year.

Currently, California allows $100 million in annual credits, a fourth of what New York offers.

"This law will make key improvements in our film and television tax credit program and put thousands of Californians to work," Brown said in a statement, indicating he will sign the bill pending its...

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Gov. Brown OKs tripling state film tax-credit funding to $330 million

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed off on a deal that would more than triple funding for California's film and TV tax-credit program.

The compromise would increase funding to $330 million a year over the next five years. While that falls short of the $400 million annually sought by backers, the amount is substantially more than the $100 million that the state currently allocates.

“This law will make key improvements in our Film and Television Tax Credit Program and put thousands of Californians to work,” Brown said.

AB 1839 also would allow more projects to qualify, including new network television dramas and big-budget studio movies, and would provide additional incentives for projects that shoot in California cities other than Los Angeles.

It would also scrap a controversial lottery system used to divvy up funds. Instead, tax credits would be allocated based on how many jobs projects would create.

The deal, which is expected to be approved by the Senate this week, was the result...

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'Guardians' likely to top 'The November Man,' 'As Above, So Below'

The box office's summer slump is likely to continue into Labor Day weekend, as the two newcomers -- "The November Man" and "As Above, So Below" -- are not expected to deliver huge numbers.

Heading into the four-day holiday weekend, pre-release audience surveys indicate that both could fail to outshine Marvel's August blockbuster "Guardians of the Galaxy" as it enters in fifth week in release. The movie based on the comic book cult favorite -- also the top film last weekend -- could add an additional $14 million to its total through Monday. 

"Guardians," now the summer's highest-grossing movie domestically, has taken in $255.2 million to date in the U.S. and Canada. Worldwide, it has crossed the $500-million mark.

Both "The November Man" and "As Above, So Below" are expected to gross $9 million to $11 million over the four-day weekend, making it a tight race for No. 2.

"The November Man," which cost about $15 million to make, opened in about 2,750 theaters Wednesday. Relativity...

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Time Warner Cable Internet outage fuels opposition to merger

Time Warner Cable's nationwide outage early Wednesday -- which left millions of homes across the country without Internet service -- is fueling opposition to the company's proposed merger with Comcast Corp.

Overnight maintenance on the backbone of Time Warner Cable's Internet network prompted the outage, which hit customers in California, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Texas.

The company said the problem occurred at 1:30 a.m. Pacific time during routine network maintenance.

"An issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and On Demand services," Time Warner Cable said in a statement.  By 3 a.m. Pacific time, much of the problem had been resolved.

"Services should be restored for all customers; our apologies for the interruption," Time Warner Cable said on Twitter at about 7:50 a.m. Pacific time. "If you're still having issues, please let us know."

Metropolitan Los Angeles was affected in the outage, Time Warner Cable confirmed.  The company routinely does...

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TV ratings: NBC's 'America's Got Talent' wins key demo, total viewers

NBC's "America's Got Talent" won Tuesday night in viewership and boosted the network to No. 1, according to Nielsen.

Roughly 9.4 million viewers tuned in to see the first batch of semifinalists perform. The Nick Cannon-hosted reality show earned a rating of 2.1 among the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, a 5% increase from last week.

The network, which also aired "Food Fighters," averaged 7.8 million viewers and earned a rating of 1.8 among the key demo.

ABC's "Bachelor in Paradise" stayed even with Monday's telecast with a rating of 1.3 among the key demo. The show, which had roughly 4.8 million viewers, tied with Univision's telenovela "Hasta el Fin del Mundo" among the key demo.

The Spanish-language network and ABC also tied for second-most-watched network among the key demo, with a rating of 1.2. 

Reruns of "NCIS" and "NCIS:LA" were the second and third most watched shows of the night, elevating CBS to the No. 2 most watched network overall. The network, which also aired a rerun...

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Turner Broadcasting offers employee buyouts, plans more staff cuts

Grappling with ratings doldrums and increased competition, Turner Broadcasting plans to cut several hundred workers as part of an overhaul of its operations.

On Tuesday, the Atlanta cable TV programmer notified employees that it was offering buyouts to older workers who have been with the company at least 10 years. The unit, which employs more than 13,000 people worldwide, is planning further staff cuts to focus resources on areas of growth.

Turner Broadcasting comprises such channels as CNN, TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network.

The Turner networks long have been sturdy revenue engines, but in recent years have been eclipsed by competitors — including Fox News Channel and entertainment outlets such as FX and AMC — that have fielded more daring shows. In addition, cable networks industrywide, including Turner, experienced softer-than-expected advertising sales during this summer's advertising sales period.

The voluntary buyouts are being offered to fewer than 600 U.S.-based employees over age...

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North Carolina cutting film tax credit program

Even as California looks to substantially boost funding for its film tax credit, North Carolina may be exiting the Hollywood stage.

North Carolina was among the first states to offer film tax credits. The state's incentives, low labor costs and varied geography have made it a popular film location, drawing such major movies as "The Hunger Games" and the TV series "Under the Dome."

But last week state legislators opted not to renew the program, despite heavy lobbying by the local film industry to preserve the incentives.

The state budget signed by Republican Gov. Pat McCrory reserved $10 million for a grant program for the first half of 2015.

That pales in comparison to $61 million in tax credits received by production companies last year. Under the program, companies get back 25 cents for every dollar they spend on qualified production expenses, with a cap of $20 million per project.

Opponents said the film industry should not be singled out for tax breaks and that taxpayer dollars...

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DreamWorks Animation's 'Dragon 2' stays atop China box office

DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon 2” remained atop China’s box office last week, and will soon become the top-grossing animated film of 2014 in the territory.

The sequel earned $24.4 million in the seven days ending Sunday, according to figures from film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway, bringing the movie’s gross to $51.5 million. “Despicable Me 2,” released in China earlier this year, took in a total of $52.3 million.

The strong showing for Hiccup and Toothless is good news for DreamWorks Animation as it pushes deeper into the Chinese market. The company has set up a venture with Chinese partners, called Oriental DreamWorks, to create “Kung Fu Panda 3” and other animated films, and is building a large entertainment complex in Shanghai.

Taking second place at the box office last week was “The Four 3,” a martial arts film from Gordon Chan that debuted with nearly $16.8 million. Third place went to the Hong Kong real estate comedy “The Temporary Family,” which...

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TV ratings: NBC's Emmys drop from last year but dominate on new night

Held on a Monday for the first time since 1976, the annual Primetime Emmy Awards won the night in viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.

Down in total viewership from last year, the three-hour ceremony drew in 15.6 million viewers.

Last year's ceremony, held on CBS and hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, drew about 17.8 million total viewers despite having to compete with finales of "Breaking Bad" and "Dexter." With help from a Sunday-night-football lead-in, the show was the most-watched Emmys since 2005.

NBC reported its biggest total viewer count for a Monday, excluding the Olympics, in more than two years.

With a rating of 4.2 in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, the 66th annual awards show, hosted by Seth Meyers, had its second-highest rating in eight years, falling short of the 2013 show.

Elsewhere on network television, Fox boasted solid Monday night ratings with Gordon Ramsay shows "Masterchef" and "Hotel Hell."

The culinary competition show took second most watched in the key...

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Turner Broadcasting to cut costs; older workers offered buyouts

Turner Broadcasting has launched a significant round of cost-cutting, with plans to eliminate several hundred workers.

The move, announced Tuesday, comes after a nearly three-month review of the business initiated by John Martin, who earlier this year became chief executive of Atlanta-based Turner Broadcasting. The unit includes CNN, TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network.

The voluntary buyouts are being offered to fewer than 600 employees based in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the plans.

To be eligible, workers must be at least 55 years of age and have worked at the company for 10 or more years, according to a memo sent Tuesday morning to Turner employees.

The company said it would make other cuts, too, although it did not disclose the overall number of workers it plans to shed.

Turner Broadcasting has seen its fortunes fade in recent years amid ratings declines at key networks, including CNN, TBS and TNT.  In addition, cable networks industry-wide experienced...

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L.A. Mayor Garcetti seeks FCC review of Dodgers channel impasse

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is asking federal regulators to examine the stalemate between Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV operators that's prevented much of the region from watching Dodgers baseball this season.

Garcetti's request came late Monday in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, which is reviewing cable giant Comcast Corp.'s proposed $45-billion takeover of Time Warner Cable.

A combination of the two companies would make Comcast the dominant pay-TV operator in the Los Angeles region with 1.8 million customers.

Monday was the deadline for people to voice their opposition or support on the proposed merger to the FCC, which was deluged with thousands of comments.

Some two-thirds of the Los Angeles area has been unable to watch most Dodgers games this season because Time Warner Cable has not reached a deal with the region's other cable and satellite operators. Comcast would inherit Time Warner Cable's expensive contract to distribute SportsNet LA on behalf of...

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MTV Video Music Awards viewership down 18% from last year

Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards at the Forum in Inglewood averaged 8.3 million viewers, down 18% from last year's buzz-worthy gala, according to Nielsen.

Last year's VMAs, which featured a now infamous performance by Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, scored 10.1 million viewers. The record for the music kudos-fest stands as 12.4 million viewers for 2011. 

Sunday's awards show featured an acclaimed 16-minute performance by Beyonce, who tore through a medley of songs from her latest album before being joined onstage by husband Jay Z and child Blue Ivy.

Other acts included Taylor Swift in full pop mode with her new single "Shake It Off" and Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and Jessie J kicking the evening off with renditions of "Break Free," "Anaconda" and "Bang Bang."

Beyonce ruled Sunday's telecast, winning three trophies in addition to the "Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award" presented to her by her family.

Miley Cyrus, Drake, Ed Sheeran, Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, Lorde and 5 Seconds of...

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