Company Town
Hollywood & entertainment industry news
California loses nearly $2 billion in 'runaway projects,' report says

California lost nearly $2 billion in production spending over the last four years, as film and TV projects took their business out of state, according to a new report. In a study released Wednesday, the California Film Commission found that from 2010 to 2014, so-called runaway projects accounted for almost $2 billion in production spending outside of California. The commission, which administers California's film and TV tax credit program, analyzed projects that applied for, but did not receive, a state tax credit due to limited funding. The state allocates $100 million annually in sales and income tax credits to the film industry, but funding is used up on the first day it is available. This year, the state received a record 497 applications for the funds on June 2, the deadline for an annual lottery that is used to divvy up the credits. Only 26 projects made the cut, while the remainder were put on a waiting list. So what happens to the projects that don't win the lottery? The...

Read more
'Weird Al' Yankovic dominates Spotify's viral track charts

There's nothing odd about it -- "Weird Al" Yankovic's new album dominated Spotify's most-shared track charts in its first week in release. Globally and in the U.S., songs from the pop music parodist's "Mandatory Fun" currently hold four of the five most-viral tracks counted by the Stockholm-based on-demand streaming service, according to data released Wednesday. The streaming figures follow the announcement that "Mandatory Fun" -- featuring parodies of Robin Thicke, Lorde and Pharrell Williams -- has hit the top of Billboard's album chart, selling more than 104,000 copies during the week that ended Sunday. That marks Yankovic's first No. 1 album, and the first comedy record to earn the top spot since 1963. "Mandatory Fun's" rollout generated a huge amount of buzz on the Web. For the campaign, the comic musician teamed with online video destinations such as Nerdist, Funny or Die and College Humor to unveil eight music videos over eight days. The video for "Word Crimes," a linguistically...

Read more
TV ratings: NBC tops Tuesday with 'Talent'; 'Food Fighters' soft

Although NBC won Tuesday night's ratings with help from reality show "America's Got Talent," its premiere of Adam Richman's reality show "Food Fighters" didn't fare as well with audiences, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen. "America's Got Talent" continued its intense "judgment week," during which performers compete for a chance to move on to the live shows. Despite a 8% decrease from its most recent non-recap original, the show still had a strong rating of 2.4 among the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic. More than 10 million viewers tuned in to see the make-or-break performances on Tuesday.  With about 4.5 million viewers, "Food Fighters" rounded out the top five in total viewership. The series premiere had an average rating of 1.0 among the key demo, though it managed to increase from its first half-hour to its second. The culinary competition show pits home cooks against professional chefs for a chance to win $100,000. Earlier this month, the Travel Channel postponed the...

Read more
Chinese firm sues Paramount in 'Transformers' product-placement beef

The management of a scenic park in southwestern China featured in “Transformers: Age of Extinction” said Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures and one of the studio’s Chinese partners seeking about $3.4 million in damages over what it says is a product-placement deal gone sour. Chongqing Wulong Karst Tourism Group Co. claims the studio failed to include the park’s name in the film as agreed in its contract with M1905, Paramount’s go-between on the product-placement deal. As a result, park representatives said, viewers of the movie were left with the mistaken impression that the scenes filmed at the Wulong park are in Hong Kong. The park’s management said it wanted Paramount to include the park’s name and logo in the DVD version of the movie, as well as any versions aired on TV or online. It also is seeking the return of the product-placement fee of about $800,000, another $660,000 for lost revenue during the park’s closure for eight days of filming, and $2...

Read more
Hollywood wary of 21st Century Fox's ambitions. Blake out at Sony.

After the coffee. Before figuring out who to torment today. The Skinny: Whenever "The Godfather" comes on I can't change the channel. I also then start tweaking the script to fit the media world. I may need more therapy, or at least a vacation. Today's roundup includes more stories about 21st Century Fox's move on Time Warner. Also another shake-up at Sony Pictures and some Comic-Con previews. Daily Dose: Another reason 21st Century Fox is eying Time Warner may be Time Warner's strong presence in Latin America, which is the fastest-growing pay-TV market, according to media analyst Todd Juenger. In a new report, Juenger said Fox and Time Warner have gobbled up valuable real estate there, along with Discovery Communications. Juenger said Viacom and AMC Networks have been left in the dust in the region. A call to arms. Hollywood unions are starting to sound alarm bells about 21st Century Fox's pursuit of Time Warner. If consummated, a combination of 21st Century Fox and Time Warner would...

Read more
Comcast profit jumps 15% on rise in high-speed Internet customers

Cable giant Comcast Corp.'s second-quarter profit increased 15% as more customers signed up for its high-speed Internet service. The Philadelphia company added 203,000 high-speed subscribers during the April-June quarter, more than making up for losing 144,000 homes with cable TV channel subscriptions. If current trends continue, Comcast should boast more Internet customers than those paying for cable TV by the end of 2015. Comcast's prowess providing Internet service to 21.3 million customers is helping its bottom line. But it could potentially draw a red flag with regulators weighing the company's potential $45-billon takeover of Time Warner Cable. The combined company would control 40% of the high-speed Internet market. "Could Comcast be judged too powerful?" analyst Craig Moffett questioned. He thinks the huge presence Comcast would have could come back to bite the company. It will especially be a sensitive area for regulators considering the flurry of proposed deals that are on...

Read more
Web content producer BiteSize making move into network TV

At first glance, the set of "Hollywood Today Live" looks like just another entertainment talk show. Four hosts — Kristen Brockman, AJ Gibson, Tanner Thomason and Porscha Coleman — sit next to one another on a studio stage at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, discussing everything from upcoming movies to celebrity Tweets for one hour every day. "Let's get the party started," Thomason said to the camera after the hosts outlined the program's topics of the day: Kim Kardashian's video game, "Woman Crush Wednesday" picks, a review of "Sex Tape" and other segments. But unlike programs such as "Entertainment Tonight" or "Access Hollywood," "Hollywood Today Live" is a Web-inspired talk show with fresh-faced hosts who cater to the millennial crowd. The series began in 2012 as an online show for BiteSize TV, a new network that streams, produces and distributes a wide range of programming on its website. Last week, the series made its network television debut on Fox, which also...

Read more
Physicists, others using science to help art of film animation

In a small, utilitarian office in Glendale, Ron Henderson methodically jotted down equations for Isaac Newton's Three Laws of Motion on a whiteboard next to his desk. The equations, the physicist explained, are the mathematical building blocks for constructing a three-dimensional, bubble-like sphere. Henderson could easily have been preparing a lesson at Caltech, where he once was a faculty member. Instead, he was at DreamWorks Animation's Tuscany-style campus, doing his part to bridge the divide between art and science. Henderson was explaining the math behind a fluid-simulation technology that would help artists working on the upcoming movie "Home" draw soap bubbles inhabited by a race of diminutive aliens called the Boov. To give them visual references, Henderson and his team began by studying drawings and photos of soap films and bubbles last year. He invited a physicist colleague from San Jose State to give a lecture titled "Bubble Science." The physicist, Alejandro Garcia, took a...

Read more
WGA issues a 'call to arms' over proposed Fox-Time Warner deal

The Writers Guild of America, West is stepping up its fight over Rupert Murdoch's proposed $80-billion offer to acquire Time Warner Inc. In an email letter to members Tuesday, the guild's leaders issued a "call to arms" in response to the offer from 21st Century Fox, saying the merger and other media deals threaten the livelihoods of writers. "As writers, we face a landscape today that the founders of our Guild would hardly recognize,"  wrote Guild President Chris Keyser and negotiating committee Co-Chairs Chip Johannessen and Billy Ray. "For decades, there were dozens of significant buyers in television and movies. Then Federal limits on mergers disappeared." The resulting industrywide consolidation has reduced opportunities for writers, the letter added: "Fewer movies being made. Fewer development deals. Smaller TV staffs. And lower quotes ... because the industry was suddenly in the hands of only six - six! - conglomerates. And the Writers Guild, without a voice in Washington to...

Read more
Univision's second-quarter profit soars with World Cup soccer

Boosted by the popularity of its soccer telecasts, Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications' second-quarter profit more than doubled compared to the previous year. For the quarter ended June 30, Univision posted net income of $98 million -- up from $40.7 million in the second quarter of 2013.  Revenue climbed 23% to $833.7 million for the quarter. The privately held company, owned by Los Angeles billionaire Haim Saban and a consortium of private equity firms, has been steadily improving its financial performance by recruiting new TV advertisers, collecting programming fees from pay-TV operators and cutting costs. Saban and the other equity firms have been searching for an exit in their seven-year investment in Univision. However, the company's operating officers did not shed light on the ownership group's plans during an earnings call Tuesday with analysts. Instead, Chief Executive Randy Falco and Chief Financial Officer Andrew Hobson detailed the company's particularly...

Read more
Sony Pictures executive Jeff Blake departing company after 22 years

Sony Pictures Entertainment Vice Chairman Jeff Blake is departing the company after 22 years, making him the latest notable executive to leave the studio in the last year. Blake, 61, serves as the studio's chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution. His exit is effective Aug. 1, Sony Pictures said in a statement Tuesday morning. The studio, a unit of Tokyo-based Sony Corp., did not name a successor for Blake, who led the studio's marketing campaigns for its five recent "Spider-Man" films, including this year's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." That film has grossed more than $700 million worldwide, but has not performed as well as the studio's four previous "Spider-Man" films. The company's most recent offering, "Sex Tape," fared poorly when it debuted last weekend. The Cameron Diaz-starring picture, which cost an estimated $40 million to produce, took in $14.6 million in the U.S. and Canada. Sony Pictures -- which includes Columbia Pictures, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics...

Read more
TV ratings: 'Masterchef,' 'Ninja' rise; 'Hotel Hell' returns down

Fox's full-on night of Gordon Ramsay earned it a ratings victory for the evening, according to early numbers from Nielsen. His culinary showdown "Masterchef" earned a rating of 2.1 among 18-to-49-year-old viewers, making it the highest-rated broadcast show by that measure. Its 18-49 number surged 17% from last week. Fox's other Monday night show "Hotel Hell," which also features Ramsay, premiered its second season after a year off the air. It earned a 1.5 in the 18-49 demo, in which a ratings point equals about 1.3 million viewers. That's down about 21% from its series premiere two years ago and roughly 12% lower than the finale. Still, Fox beat its rival networks in the demographic with a 1.8 average. "Bachelorette"-fueled ABC had the most viewers overall.  The men of the "Bachelorette" were in the mood for confrontation on Monday's "The Men Tell All" special, and the episode was the most-watched overall, with 6.8 million people tuning in.  NBC's "American Ninja Warrior" jumped 12%...

Read more
Loading