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Hollywood & entertainment industry news
'Lucy' floors 'Hercules.' FCC asked to weigh in on Dodgers TV mess.

After the coffee. Before seeing how "Manhattan" did in the ratings. The Skinny: I was on TV on Sunday and realized I look older than I feel. It may be time for an eye job. Since this is Hollywood, I'm sure there are plenty of people my readers can recommend who will do a good job. Today's roundup includes the weekend box office recap and Fox's latest effort to woo Time Warner shareholders. Daily Dose: The seven lawmakers looking for the Federal Communications Commission to help get Dodgers  games on TV for all of Los Angeles (see below) may be disappointed. The FCC has shown little willingness to weigh in on or try to resolve disputes between programmers and distributors. However since Time Warner Cable, which distributes the Dodgers channel SportsNet LA, is in the process of being acquired by Comcast,  the agency might be more inclined to at least look at the situation. No contest. "Lucy," the science fiction/action thriller starring Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman, blew away...

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FCC should help reach deal to end Dodgers TV standoff, lawmakers say

A group of Southern California lawmakers wants the Federal Communications Commission to broker a deal to end the bitter standoff between Time Warner Cable and other pay-TV providers over distribution of SportsNet LA, the new channel that is home to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Launched this year, SportsNet LA is not available in the majority of pay-TV homes in the Los Angeles market. Time Warner Cable secured rights to distribute the Dodgers-owned channel in a 25-year deal worth $8.35 billion, according to a valuation by the Dodgers and Major League Baseball. Time Warner Cable has been unable to land carriage agreements with other distributors serving the market including DirecTV, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Verizon FiOS. Only Time Warner Cable subscribers have access to the channel which means about 70% of the market has been unable to see Dodger games on TV except for the handful that have been nationally televised on Fox and ESPN. At issue is the price Time Warner...

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Florida accuses former Digital Domain Media officers of fraud

The state of Florida has filed a lawsuit against the former officers of Digital Domain Media, accusing them of defrauding the state and local governments out of $82 million. Digital Domain Media was the former owner of the Venice visual effects company co-founded by James Cameron, who directed "Titanic" and "Avatar." The company filed for bankruptcy protection from creditors in September 2012 after incurring heavy losses and making a series of costly investments, including building an animation studio in Port St. Lucie that closed. The closing resulted in 280 layoffs. Digital Domain also launched a new animation and digital arts institute in West Palm Beach, billed as a "pioneering public-private partnership" with Florida State University's College of Motion Picture Arts. To finance its Florida expansion, Digital Domain Media secured a $20-million grant from the state and an additional $62 million in funds from St. Lucie and Palm Beach counties. In a lawsuit filed this week, the...

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Box office: 'Lucy' outmuscles 'Hercules'

This weekend’s box office was an action-packed showdown between a drug-induced superhuman and a fearless Greek god. The drug-induced superhuman won. Universal’s “Lucy” led the multiplex after it took in an impressive $44 million in its first weekend, according to studio estimates. With “Lucy,” director Luc Besson (“La Femme Nikita,” “The Fifth Element”) continues to craft sophisticated, female-driven action. The high-concept action flick stars Scarlett Johansson as Lucy, a party girl-turned-unwitting drug mule who after an accidental chemical overdose begins to utilize a higher percentage of her brain and gains metaphysical and intellectual powers.  The R-rated film, which costars Morgan Freeman and cost $40 million to make, benefited from a sleek marketing campaign that attracted a mostly older audience (65% of ticket buyers were 25 and up) and was evenly split between male and female, according to exit-poll data. That performance was more than enough for “Lucy” to trump Paramount...

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Murdoch's 21st Century Fox selling stakes in two satellite TV firms

In a deal that enables Rupert Murdoch to amass a bigger war chest, 21st Century Fox Inc. is selling its stakes in two European satellite TV companies for $9.3 billion. Fox's sale of its Italian and German pay-TV systems would provide the company with approximately $7.2 billion in cash — money that could be used to help finance a proposed takeover of Time Warner Inc. It is widely expected that Murdoch will make another run at Time Warner after the company rejected Fox's initial $80-billion offer. Some analysts contend 21st Century Fox needs to increase its bid to above $90 billion. "Fox reloads with cash," Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. media analyst Todd Juenger said in a research report. "Fox and Time Warner are now both engaged in posturing." In a complicated deal announced Friday, Fox agreed to sell its interests in Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to satellite TV service British Sky Broadcasting Group. Fox owns a 39.1% interest in BSkyB, which it plans to maintain. The transaction marks...

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TV ratings: 'Big Brother' helps CBS rise to top

CBS came out on top of the TV ratings Thursday with “Big Brother” and “Big Bang Theory.” "Big Brother," though down 5% from last week, still got a rating of 2.1 in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, according to Nielsen ratings.  More than 6 million people tuned in to the show. “Big Bang Theory” had a rating of 1.8 in the key demo, but with over 7 million views, it was the No. 1 program of the night overall. More than 5 million people also tuned in to CBS’ “The Millers,” making it the No. 3 most-viewed program of the night. On Fox, the season finale of “Hell’s Kitchen” got a rating of 1.7 in the key demo, earning it the No. 3 spot in that same category.  The show was down 19% from the 8 to 9 p.m. hour of last summer's two-hour finale in the key demo, with a rating of 2.1.  However, it only dipped 6% in total viewers, with roughly 5 million people tuning in this year versus the 5.3 million last year.  “Gang Related,” which had a rating of 0.8 in the key demo, was down 11% from last...

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'Lucy' set to soar. Satellite deal gives Fox lots of cash.

After the coffee. Before breaking this heat wave. The Skinny: It's Friday and I have to wear a suit today to tape a TV interview about the Dodgers TV mess. If that's not bad enough, the interview is in Universal City, where it will be even hotter. Yes, you are hearing me gripe about being on TV. I'm too jaded. Today's roundup includes the weekend-box-office preview and a big deal by 21st Century Fox involving its European satellite assets, which will give it more cash to go after Time Warner. Daily Dose: The SEC Network, ESPN's new college-sports channel that will cover the Southeastern Conference, is closing in on full distribution with three weeks to go before launch. On Thursday, it signed a deal with Time Warner Cable, and last week it nailed down Comcast. It currently has 60 million homes locked up. The big holdout is satellite broadcaster DirecTV, which has over 20 million subscribers. With Time Warner Cable, Comcast and satellite service Dish Network all carrying the channel,...

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Murdoch's Fox to sell European TV systems for $9.3 billion

21st Century Fox is selling its interest in pay-TV systems in Germany and Italy as part of a $9.3-billion deal that will give Rupert Murdoch's media company a big pile of cash. Analysts have speculated that proceeds from the sale, which had been expected, could help finance Fox's proposed takeover of media giant Time Warner Inc.  Earlier this month, Time Warner rejected Fox's $80-billion offer, but most people expect the Murdoch family soon will up the ante with a higher bid. Friday's transaction was complicated. Fox agreed to sell its interests in the two European systems -- Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland -- to British Sky Broadcasting, the giant pay TV service in Britain.  The deal is expected to make British Sky Broadcasting a leading pay TV operator in Europe.  Meanwhile, Fox owns 39.1% of British Sky Broadcasting -- a company that becomes even more valuable with the addition of the Italian and German pay-TV systems. Fox said it would transfer Sky Italia, which it wholly owns, and...

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ESPN's SEC Network reaches distribution deal with Time Warner Cable

ESPN's new SEC Network scored another touchdown with Time Warner Cable signing a deal to carry the new network. Set to debut on Aug. 14, the SEC Network is a joint venture between Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and the Southeastern Conference. The channel will carry 1,000 events in its first year including 45 SEC football games and more than 100 men's basketball games. Last week, Comcast Corp., the nation's largest cable operator also reached an agreement to carry the SEC Network. Comcast is in the process of buying Time Warner Cable. Overall, the SEC Network has struck deals putting it in 60 million homes. The major holdout is satellite broadcaster DirecTV, which has more than 20 million subscribers around the nation. Heisman trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow is one of the analysts for ESPN, as is veteran announcer Brent Musberger. In Los Angeles, the SEC Network will be available on Channel 361 in high definition and 279 in standard definition. The channel is being offered...

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Hero vs. superhuman: 'Hercules' to battle 'Lucy' in weekend box office

Greek-hero movie "Hercules” may not out-muscle superhuman “Lucy” in the box office this weekend. “Lucy" is expected to gross $45 million, higher than the $30-million-to-$35-million projection for "Hercules," according to people who have seen pre-release audience surveys. Meanwhile, the comedy "And So It Goes," also opening this weekend, is expected to draw in less than $10 million. "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," the 3-D sequel to the 2011 blockbuster "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," will likely cede the top spot at the box office after ruling domestic cinemas for two weekends in a row.  “Lucy,” distributed by Universal Pictures, follows a party girl turned unwitting drug mule (Scarlett Johansson) who ingests a powerful chemical that transforms her into a superhuman with enhanced abilities. The R-rated film, which costars Morgan Freeman, generated early buzz. At WonderCon, held in Anaheim in April, the film's writer and director Luc Besson revved up the crowd when he screened two...

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

For the second night in a row, NBC's "America's Got Talent" helped the network win the night in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic. The show, down 4% from Tuesday night's telecast, had a rating of 2.3 in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, tying it with CBS' "Big Brother" for No. 1 in the key demo, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen. More than 10 million people tuned in to watch the end of "America's Got Talent's" "judgment week," in which the top 47 contestants were selected to move on.  The network also aired "Taxi: Brooklyn," which was up 38% in the key demo from last week with a rating of 1.1. "Big Brother," which had about 6.5 million viewers, was up 10% in the key demo from last week's episode.  The privacy-deprivation show helped make CBS the second most-watched network in the key demo and overall total viewers. About 6 million people tuned in to the network, which saw a rating of 1.4 in the 18-to-49 demo. However, "Extant," the new Halle Berry sci-fi series,...

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Sony delays next 'Spider-Man.' Sexual Harassment at Comic-Con.

After the coffee. Before yelling at Obama for Wednesday's traffic mess. The Skinny: It took me forever to get home Wednesday night, all because the president just had to have a party at producer Shonda Rhimes' Hancock Park house. Maybe if they had invited me ... Today's roundup includes a wrap-up of the upfront advertising season. Also, Sony delays the next "Spider-Man" movie, and there are some bad apples attending Comic-Con. Daily Dose: How much should anyone read into a tweet. If it is from California's attorney general, maybe a lot. On Wednesday, Kamala Harris tweeted, "first pitch is in 4 mins. Too bad only 30% of LA baseball fans will be able to watch ... can’t y’all work this out? Sure hope so." She was referring to the deadlock between Time Warner Cable, which distributes the Dodger-owned channel SportsNet LA and area distributors including DirecTV that aren't carrying it yet. So far, politicians and government officials have been reluctant to comment much less get involved...

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