The Morning Fix: Disney withdraws trademark application for SEAL Team 6! Universal gets new marketing chief. Another big exit at NBC Sports.
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After the coffee. Before figuring out how to get four days out of a three-day weekend.
The Skinny: I feel an emptiness in my life. A void I haven’t felt in 25 years. Well, maybe I’ll just watch some OWN and try to feel better. In Thursday’s news, Disney backtracks on its tacky plan to patent the term ‘SEAL Team 6.’
Dishonorable discharge. Walt Disney Co. said it will withdraw an application to trademark the term ‘SEAL Team 6,’ the name of the military unit that took out Osama bin Laden. Less than a week after the Navy SEAL team’s successful mission, Disney moved to patent the name in the hopes of exploiting it for toys and entertainment, making the company the butt of jokes for its greed and annoying the Navy. After the Navy filed its own trademark claim, Disney bailed out. I just want to know why someone in media relations didn’t say at the time that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t such a good idea. More from the Wall Street Journal.
Universal shuffle continues. Universal Pictures is getting a new marketing chief -- Sony Pictures’ Josh Goldstine. He will succeed Eddie Egan, who is taking the top marketing position at Universal’s family entertainment partner Illumination Entertainment. The marketing shift follows the recent ousting of Debbie Liebling as president of production after only eight months with the studio. Details from the Los Angeles Times.
Happy Birthday. Viacom announced it was increasing its quarterly dividend by almost 70%. Shareholders won’t be the only ones excited by the news. Bloomberg reports that the increase will pump $41 million into National Amusements, the closely held parent company of Viacom that is majority-owned by Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone and his family. Sumner turns 88 this week so there should be some extra icing on that cake.
Guess they know now. Sony Corp. released its fiscal 2010 results Thursday morning and, as promised, the company lost $3.2 billion. However, the consumer electronics giant said it expects to rebound to a $1-billion profit. On the movie side, the results were hurt by the disappointing performance of James L. Brooks’ ‘How Do You Know,’ which I watched on a plane last week until I couldn’t take anymore and stuck a fork in my eye. More on the numbers from the Hollywood Reporter.
Another big exit at NBC Sports. Just a week after NBC Sports Group Chairman Dick Ebersol announced his exit from the network, his longtime No. 2 is expected to leave as well. Ken Schanzer, who has been with NBC for 30 years and spent the last 13 as president of NBC Sports, will announce his retirement as early as Thursday. The scoop from the Los Angeles Times.
Sorry old chap. Only months away from its premiere, and there’s been a big shakeup at Fox’s ‘The X Factor.’ TMZ reported that Cheryl Cole, a judge on the British version of the musical talent show, has been dropped from the U.S. version. I only hope the reason isn’t the one cited by TMZ, which is that producers were worried about her thick British accent being a challenge to viewers. That would say more about the network’s contempt for their audience than it would about their concern for the show.
Just need a little makeover. Martha Stewart’s company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has hired Lisa Gersh, a former senior executive at Oxygen and later NBCUniversal, as president and chief operating officer and retained private equity firm Blackstone to look for partners and investors, setting up speculation that the company may be getting a cleanup in an effort to find a buyer. Gersh told the New York Post that ‘it is not our stated intention to sell in any way.’ Uh huh.
Dude, where’s my return? Ashton Kutcher is more than a pretty face. The actor has also become an early investor in many Silicon Valley startups, including Foursquare. He also was an early investor in Skype, which Microsoft is in the process of buying. In other words, even if his move to join ‘Two and a Half Men’ doesn’t pay off, he should survive. The New York Times talks with Kutcher about his investment strategy.
Inside the Los Angeles Times: A look at the busy Memorial Day box office weekend and who will come out on top. Betsy Sharkey says ‘The Hangover 2’ seems to be more about money than laughs. Really? I’m shocked!
-- Joe Flint
Beat the Memorial Day traffic and follow me on Twitter today. Twitter.com/JBFlint
For the record: An earlier version of this post said Disney wanted to patent Seal Team 6. The more correct term would be trademark.