May 5, 2015
9:31 am

Disney in Battle With Theater Operators (WSJ)

A blockbuster movie is at the center of a dispute between the Walt Disney Co. and movie theater operators. The Wall Street Journal reports that a battle is going on behind the scenes of “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

“The head of the trade group representing the theaters told Walt Disney Studios he had received ‘an avalanche of complaints, concerns and fears’ from members after the movie studio imposed new conditions on theaters that wanted to show the ‘Avengers’ sequel, according to a copy of the letter reviewed by The Wall Street Journal,” the publication reports.

The new conditions reportedly include stipulations about “when cinemas can offer matinee discounts or alternate showings of ‘Avengers’ with other movies on the same screen; and new payment rules that the National Association of Theatre Owners said could over the long term raise prices for everyone,” WSJ reports.

The article adds: “Following the outcry from theaters, the studio is altering its approach on some issues, including the matinee cutoff and suggested payment limitations. The studio had outlined the requirements in its standard licensing agreement, which says how exhibitors can show a film but can be modified on a theater-by-theater basis.”

The new movie reportedly opened to $191.3 million in ticket sales over the weekend in the United States and Canada, second only to the original “Avengers” movie.

With the success of films including “Frozen” and “Cinderella,” and with new “Star Wars” movies on the horizon, Disney wields considerable power in the marketplace, the report notes.

avengers age of ultron-poster

May 5, 2015
9:17 am

Commentator: ‘Fight of the Century’ Undermined by Pacquiao’s ‘Stupid Decision’ (USA Today)

In the aftermath of what was billed as the “Fight of the Century” between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao — which by almost all accounts was a disappointment in terms of its entertainment value — much of the focus is on what went wrong.

One commentator, Mike Foss, writing for USA Today, pins the blame squarely on Pacquiao, noting: “It was revealed Monday that Pacquiao will undergo surgery to fix what is being reported as a ‘significant tear’ in his rotator cuff. According to Pacquiao’s advisor, Michael Koncz, the injury was sustained in early April.”

Foss doesn’t give any slack to Pacquiao for what the fighter’s fans might consider a legitimate excuse for a poor performance.

“This is worse than simply underperforming,” Foss writes. “This is stupidity incarnate, and truly confirms that this fight was only about the money.”

Foss adds: “The Pacquiao of old would have put the fight on hold and allowed himself the nine months it would have taken to heal from surgery. That’s what a fighter with a desire to win would have done. That’s what any competitor would have done. But by fighting anyway, Pacquiao made the decision to take the loss and the money now.”

Please click on the link near the top of the story to read the rest of the Foss commentary.


May 5, 2015
9:09 am

How Media Giant Disney Defied Expectations (NY Times)

The Walt Disney Co. had a surprise for analysts in today’s quarterly earnings report. The New York Times reports: “Despite expected declines in movie and cable network income, the Walt Disney Company on Tuesday reported a 10 percent increase in quarterly profit, beating Wall Street’s expectations by a wide margin.”

For the company’s fiscal second quarter, Disney reported $2.11 billion in net income, up from $1.92 billion a year ago.

Analysts were predicting net income would equal $1.10 per share, but it came in at $1.23 a share, up from $1.08.

Total revenue for the quarter was $12.46 billion, up from $11.65 billion.

The Times notes: “The better-than-expected results reflect the size of Disney’s entertainment empire. If one or two divisions encounter momentary difficulties, other units are typically strong enough to pick up the slack. Lately, difficulties of any kind have been few and far between, however, with Disney shares trading at record levels.”

While operating income at the Disney cable networks declined 9%, to $1.8 billion, and movie profit slipped 10% to $427 million, “operating income at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts increased 24 percent, to $566 million, in part because of higher ticket prices for theme parks and cruise lines,” The Times reports.

Operating income in the broadcasting segment surged 90% to $302 million, driven in part by the sale of “Daredevil” to Netflix.

disney logo

May 5, 2015
9:01 am

‘Rapping Granny’ From ‘The Wedding Singer’ Dead at 101 (ABC News)

An actress known for roles as a grandmother in the movies “The Wedding Singer” and “Wedding Crashers” has died.

ABC News reported that Ellen Albertini Dow died Monday at the age of 101.

Dow made an impression with her performance of “Rapper’s Delight” in the 1998 movie “The Wedding Singer,” and played a foul-mouthed grandma in “Wedding Crashers” in 2005.

The actress made a number of TV appearances, including guest spots on “Seinfeld,” “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Will & Grace” and “My Name Is Earl.” She recently appeared as Aunt Ruthie on “New Girl.”

Here’s a brief clip of Dow doing “Rapper’s Delight” in “The Wedding Singer”:

May 5, 2015
8:44 am

ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ Claims Ratings Win Over ‘NBC Nightly News’ (TVWeek)

ABC’s “World News Tonight” claimed a win in the key news demo of viewers 25-54 for the seventh time in the past eight weeks, as rival “NBC Nightly News” continues to be hosted by Lester Holt during Brian Williams’ suspension.

The NBC program, however, took the win in total viewers over ABC’s David Muir-hosted program.

Here are the numbers for the big three broadcast evening newscasts for the week of April 27, 2015, based on Nielsen figures:

Total Viewers

NBC Nightly News: 7.726 million

ABC World News Tonight: 7.687 million

CBS Evening News: 6.576 million

Adults 25-54

ABC World News Tonight: 1.6 average rating/7 share (1.856 million viewers)

NBC Nightly News: 1.4/7 (1.726 million)

CBS Evening News: 1.2/6 (1.430 million)

Adults 18-49

ABC World News Tonight: 1.0 average rating/5 share (1.293 million viewers)

NBC Nightly News: 1.0/5 (1.244 million)

CBS Evening News: 0.8/4 (1.011 million)

abc world news tonight

May 5, 2015
8:37 am

Henry Rollins and C. Thomas Howell Join Drama Series (THR)

Punk rocker turned actor Henry Rollins (“Sons of Anarchy”) and actor C. Thomas Howell (“Grimm”) will be a part of the ABC Family paranormal drama “Stitchers,” The Hollywood Reporter’s Live Feed reports.

“Rollins will guest star as Barbiero, a security whiz who knows Maggie (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) from a previous job and learns that the new gig is a demanding one,” THR reports. “Howell joins in the recurring role of Daniel, Kirsten’s mysterious former acquaintance. Both actors are set to appear later in the first season.”

“Stitchers” is ABC Family’s first procedural, the report notes.

stitchers-logo-abc family

May 5, 2015
8:17 am

Channel Aimed at Native Americans Coming to U.S. Cable (Variety)

A cable channel aimed at Native Americans and other viewers who have an interest in Native American culture is in the works for the U.S. market.

Variety reports that the project is a partnership between Atlanta-based Castalia Communications and Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN).

Castalia founder and President Luis Torres-Bohl who confirmed that his company is talking with all of the major U.S. cable and satellite companies, as well as telcos.

Said Torres-Bohl: “APTN has done an excellent job of entertaining and informing Aboriginal audiences throughout Canada. We are excited by the opportunity to now bring this relevant, high-quality TV option to a clearly underserved segment of the U.S. population.”

Variety notes: “APTN — the first national indigenous television network in the world, which launched in 1999 — is a cable TV service with mandatory carriage in Canada, where it’s seen in approximately 11 million households.”

aptn-aboriginal peoples-logo

May 5, 2015
8:01 am

Discovery Exceeds First-Quarter Profit Expectations (Washington Post)

Discovery Communications surpassed expectations with its first-quarter earnings report, released today. The Washington Post reports that the operator of cable channels including Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC posted quarterly profit of $250 million, or 37 cents per share, with earnings of 42 cents per share adjusted for amortization expenses.

“The results surpassed Wall Street expectations,” the report notes. “The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 36 cents per share.”

Revenue during the quarter was $1.54 billion, the report adds.

doscovery communications-logo

May 4, 2015
2:22 pm

HBO Adds Period Comedy Series (Deadline)

A comedy project has been ordered to series by HBO, although the pay-cable channel wasn’t commenting. reports that David Fincher’s “Living On Video” has an order from the channel for a 10-episode first season.

The show is set in 1983 Los Angeles and the burgeoning video music business.

Fincher “is revisiting his music video director roots with the comedy, written by Rich Wilkes (‘xXx’) and Bob Stephenson, a friend of Fincher’s from his music video days, based on an idea by Fincher,” the report notes.

Fincher is known for directing “The Social Network” and “Gone Girl,” and executive produces “House of Cards.”


May 4, 2015
2:01 pm

History Announces Four New Shows (Variety)

History has announced four new series that will become a part of the cable channel’s lineup during the next two months. Variety reports that “Lost in Transmission,” “Leepu & Pitbull,” “Alone” and “Forged in Fire” are set to roll out as part of the summer slate.

The four new unscripted series join a summer lineup that will be anchored by the event miniseries “Texas Rising.”

The cable channel’s summer schedule launches this Wednesday with the season premiere of “American Pickers.” Thursday night will see the launch of “Lost in Transmission,” leading out from the premiere of “Pawn Stars.”

“Transmission” finds “Top Gear’s” Rutledge Wood, along with George Flanigen, rescuing classic cars from garages and back yards.

“On Tuesday, June 16, new episodes of ‘Counting Cars’ will debut at 9 p.m., followed by the series debut of ‘Leepu & Pitbull,’” Variety reports. “The series follows master mechanic ‘Pitbull’ Steve and renowned Bangladeshi car designer Leepu as they transform heaps of metal into a cash-producing business venture.”

June 18 will bring the series debut of “Alone,” leading out from the return of “Mountain Men.” “Alone,” which has a 10-episode order, is “the longest survival experiment ever captured for television,” the report notes. “It places 10 hardcore survivalists alone in the Vancouver Island wilderness – no camera crew, no teams, no producers – on a single mission to stay alive.”

Set to premiere Monday, June 22, is “Forged in Fire,” a competition series hosted by weapons expert and former Army Ranger Wil Willis. The show features top bladesmiths creating bladed weapons.


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