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  • Buffett, Murdoch, Among Allen Conference Biz Leaders Thursday, 12 Jul 2007 | 11:46 AM ET
    Rupert Murdoch

    It's been a whirlwind here at the Allen & co. Conference--watching and interviewing all the biggest names in the media world. Everyone's paying close attention to Rupert Murdoch. He rushed into the Sun Valley Inn Wednesday morning just in time for breakfast. .

  • 35 Disney Films Coming to Xbox Live Wednesday, 11 Jul 2007 | 3:10 AM ET

    Microsoft. said Tuesday it struck a deal to make 35 Disney movies, such as the animated hit "Aladdin" and the action title "Armageddon," available for download on its online video game service.

  • "Transformers" Help Paramount Shift Gears Monday, 9 Jul 2007 | 5:25 PM ET
    Transformers

    "Transformers" took the box office by storm this weekend, bringing in a total of $152 million at the domestic box office since it opened on Tuesday, and a total of about $250 million worldwide. This isn't just a nice summer opening--this is huge news for Paramount, which is going to get a huge boost from this hit: not just from its take on this film, but also from the fact that it's Paramount's first potential franchise since Mission Impossible. And unlike the MI series, they're not relying on a huge star (Tom Cruise), nor are they paying him a huge chunk of gross.

  • The shape-shifting robots of "Transformers" have taken on a new form: Huge piles of cash.

  • Ratatouille Prompts Study: Rats Nicer Than People? Tuesday, 3 Jul 2007 | 12:27 PM ET
    Ratatouille's Remy

    In a scientific tie-in to the new Picture film "Ratatouille" (do scientists do this on purpose?) lab humans observing lab rats have determined that rats who've been helped in the past "pay it forward." This is, they claim, the first proof of "indirect reciprocity" in non-humans. In other words, rats that were helped in the past are more likely to help a stranger in the future. The report was published in Los Biology, an online open access journal (the same place I found the stuff about fruitflies having free will--what a gold mine that site is).

  • 'Ratatouille' Seen as Test of Disney-Pixar Deal Friday, 29 Jun 2007 | 3:28 PM ET

    Walt Disney's animated movie "Ratatouille" opens Friday against strong competition from better-known franchise films, drawing early industry skepticism that it can match its predecessors' success and posing a challenge for Disney.

  • Transformers

    I attended the "Transformers" premiere Wednesday night--and my first star spotting epitomized the importance of the film for its parent company. It was Sumner Redstone (he qualifies as a star for the CNBC set) and he was slowly retreating from the hubbub of the red carpet and (surrounded by bodyguards) slipping into a black car.

  • YouTVpc and Peekvid Sued By Movie Studios Over Piracy Thursday, 28 Jun 2007 | 11:01 AM ET

    The Motion Picture Association of America filed suits late Tuesday on behlaf of Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox against YouTVpc.com and Peekvid.com. The Wall Street Journal broke the story Wednesday night. The sites don't actually provide copyright-violating material--which is their defence--but they do show users where to find that material, which is the studios' problem with the site.

  • Video Games "Play" Into Hollywood's Picture Wednesday, 27 Jun 2007 | 11:45 AM ET
    Wii Cars Video Game

    The businesses of movie making and video game making are tighter than ever. Today, they're rubbing shoulders at the Hollywood and Games Summit. These are two industries that need each other more than ever. Movie studios count on the reliable licensing fees that come from selling 5 million video games. And the video game makers like the fact that by paying a licensing fee they can tap into a guaranteed fan base, and all those marketing dollars the studios have spent. Virtually every big summer movie is also a video game: "Pirates," "Spiderman," "Shreck," and coming up "Ratatouille," "Transformers," and "Harry Potter."

  • The Six Million Dollar Man

    Update: Here's Dimension's response to my blog post: "We are not going to publicly comment on a private business matter." Earlier Post: Two Hollywood insiders just forwarded me an email exchange between Endeavor Agency partner Tom Strickler and Dimension Films President of Production Richard Saperstein about a new “spec” script that Endeavor sold to New Line called “$40,000 Man.” Per Variety, the script is about “an astronaut who finds himself horribly injured in a car accident and rebuilt by the government to be a bionic man, on a budget of $40,000-which makes him not that bionic.” Sounds kind of funny, right?

  • Legendary Pictures

    Legendary Pictures has raised $1 billion plus in new financing, and extended its first-look co-producing and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. through 2012. This means that their first partnership--which they say was profitable--worked out for both parties. About a year ago all my Hollywood banker pals were talking about how the private equity money was going to start pulling out of these movie studios--it's unstable, risky, and Wall Street can get burned.

  • "Ratatouille": Why Disney Spent $7.5 B On Pixar Tuesday, 26 Jun 2007 | 8:20 AM ET
    Disney/Pixar's "Ratatouille"

    "Ratatouille" is Disney/Pixar's first joint venture since the acquisition, and the movie--and its associated merchandise -- is exactly why Disney wanted to snap up Pixar. The film's opening on Friday but I got a sneak peak at the premiere a week early, and I was seriously impressed. Call it "Cyrano de Spice Rack", it's the story of a rat who loves to cook, and befriends the garbage boy in the best restaurant in Paris, becoming his secret chef. I was really impressed.

  • "Evan Almighty" did not live up to its name at the weekend box office in North America.

  • Will "Sicko" Be Healthy At the Box Office? Friday, 22 Jun 2007 | 2:09 PM ET

    There's no question that "Sicko" is impacting the national debate on health insurance--but will the movie be a box office hit? It's gotten an incredible amount of press, but as we saw with "Snakes on a Plane," media and YouTube, buzz doesn't always mean box office dollars. (A YouTube search finds 4,800 "Michael Moore" related videos--of those 2,200 come up for "Sicko.)

  • Michael Moore's "Sicko" Summer Thursday, 21 Jun 2007 | 12:03 PM ET
    Michael Moore

    The tables have turned. Over the past couple of years I've been to a number of pharmaceutical industry related and drug company events--where the security and paranoia have been noticeably increased over what I referred to as "The Michael Moore Effect". Ever since it became known that the documentary filmmaker was setting his sites on healthcare the companies I cover have been on heightened alert. But, at least for now, I think they can let their guard down.

  • Fantastic Four

    Hollywood's superhero foursome is still fantastic at the box office.

  • The Fox "Business" Plan For TV Success Friday, 15 Jun 2007 | 2:46 PM ET

    Merrill Lynch reported that Fox (owned by News Corp) is gearing up to launch its business channel in the fall with 30-million plus subscriptions. This could be the largest cable network launch ever, but it's certainly taken them long enough, Fox has been trying to get subscription access for years. And it won't come cheap-- start up costs are estimated to be about $200 million, with News Corp expecting the division to break even by its fourth year. But it sounds like Fox Business Channel won't be anything like CNBC (GE is parent company.)

  • Oscar's New Rules, Middle East Cell Phones, And More Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 | 2:12 PM ET
    Oscar Awards

    The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences just approved some new rules for the 80th Academy Awards. The most notable change is a rule that states that nominees for Best Picture can only be "three or fewer producers who have performed the major portion of the producing functions." The board approved the potential for exceptions to that limit, but it definitely sends a message about disputes over who claims awards to films like 'Crash' from Yari Films.

  • The Marty Ingel's Memo: His Rebuttal To Me Thursday, 14 Jun 2007 | 10:21 AM ET

    On Friday I poked some fun at Shirley Jones for sending out a press release when Florence Henderson reportedly called her a nasty name. Well, I got an earful on the phone from Jones’ husband, comedian Marty Ingels, who wanted to know if I’d be willing to print a rebuttal. I said, “Absolutely! Every word!” Oops! Last night in the ol’ email inbox I got a four-page scanned hand-written letter from Ingels. Here it is, the whole thing...

  • Blockbuster Offers Cheaper Online Rental Wednesday, 13 Jun 2007 | 6:29 AM ET

    Blockbuster  is offering lower-priced plans for online movie rentals as it competes with Netflix  in a market that some analysts believe could grow more than 40% this year.

Entertainment

Television

  • NEW YORK— The future of Aereo, an online service that provides over-the-air TV channels, hinges on a battle with broadcasters that goes before the U.S. Supreme Court next week. For as little as $8 a month, Aereo subscribers in New York and 10 other markets can watch shows live or record them using Aereo's online digital video recorder.

  • Former NBC Chairman Bob Wright discusses the market's adaption to new technology, and explains why the symbol for CNBC did not have the peacock at first.

  • Former NBC Chairman Bob Wright talks about the creation of the network and the merger with FNN.

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