Joe Roth, former studio head and erstwhile producer, could not help but stage manage his keynote appearance at Variety’s Entertainment and Technology Summit on Monday, asking to move his chair up closer to the aud at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. He then held forth on a number of topics, stressing the benefit of marketing through social media. Before he was done, he also championed the notion that studios once again own theaters in the U.S. This has been a no-no for more than 60 years, but Roth, who got caught in the crossfire between Disney and international exhibitors over “Alice in Wonderland,” argued it no longer makes sense. My Variety story on the confab is here.
Top execs admitted they don’t know the answer to sweeping technological changes but said they can’t wait until the dust settles to figure it out. My report from the Milken Global Conference panel on the outlook for the entertainment industry.
Getty Images, which has been aggressively going after the U.S. entertainment photo biz since at least 2003, scooped up Hollywood stalwart Berliner Studios late last month. I was in charge of Variety’s event coverage when Getty came on the Hollywood scene and can attest to the turf battles between it and rival agencies. Variety, you see, had a deal with Getty, which was determined to get as much access as possible.
Variety also held a day long conference for BritWeek late last month. British reality king Nigel Lythgoe, who helped found the celebration, sounded off on his difficulty getting American networks to take his advice.
Been remiss in posting links to various stories that have kept me busy the past few months. In no particular order: Here are two stories I did for ShoWest, one on this summer’s tentpoles and the other on potential sleeper hits. (Attempting to answer, in other words, what this summer’s “Devil Wears Prada” might be.)
I did a story on successful mystery novelists that may finally be emerging from Hollywood development hell. Maybe. One of those profiled: Fellow Lord Jeff Harlan Coben. His book “Tell No One” was finally made into a movie in France and now in the process of being remade by producer Kathleen Kennedy.
Four of the best picture nominees dealt with infidelity of one form or another. So I wrote about it, comparing cinematic cheating to the reaction to Tiger’s marital woes. Also did a report on the Film Finance Forum earlier this month (harder than ever for those without domestic distribution to get financial backing they need to make the film in the first place) and ongoing shakeout in the PR ranks.
What else? The tension between creativity and client control in branded entertainment, that’s what.
Between “Avatar” and CES, it’s hard to avoid the 3D hype machine. Does everyone want to watch 3D at home? Consumer electronics companies, and all the studios pumping out 3D movies, sure hope so.
Last, forgot to post a link to this Variety story about those confusing Oscar rules. Do they really have to be so complicated? Oscar members defend themselves.
When I was on the beat, I was never sure what to make of Ryan Kavanaugh. He always had a million financial deals going, but didn’t talk like one. He was always running late, and seemed a bit scattered. And there were rumors about his finances, a couple drunk driving incidents….
Yet studios like Universal and Sony kept doing big slate deals with him.
A couple weeks ago, I had a chance to sit down with Ryan for this Billion Dollar Producer section Variety ran in last Friday’s paper. Ryan was running late, of course, but once the interview began he was all mine. The interview stretched several hours as he showed off several projects he’s working on. Just as I suspected: He’s always running late because he gets caught up in the moment.
I tried to write this story several times when I was at Variety, but it kept getting pushed back due to one exec departure after another. And frankly, at the time Yahoo was more interested in me writing a story about the success of “Primetime in No Time” than a broader one on its originals.
In the meantime, a new CEO has come into the company, a search outsource deal with Microsoft finally struck, and a renewed interest in reinventing itself as a media company. The company has been ramping up its original programming, both in terms of web shows and editorial content.
Rest assured, however, that Yahoo is NOT attempting to revive Lloyd Braun’s ambitions to create TV style programming for the Internet. For more, check out my Variety story here.
When I started at Variety, Army Archerd was about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his column. There was a lavish party — newbies weren’t invited — and a certain expectation that he would retire. He was 80 — and he’d had a good long run, breaking the news of Rock Hudson’s illness from AIDS, among other scoops.
But Army had no interest in retiring, and continued writing for Variety — online the last few years — until two late July. Today, he succumbed to cancer, ankling to the great beyond at age 87. I’m among the many that will miss him.
Unlike some of my former Variety counterparts, I did not grow up reading the trade paper, first becoming acquainted with it as a fact checker for TV Guide. Even then, I was just scanning news items on microfiche.
I didn’t really get to know Army and his work until I started working at the paper in April 2002. Army was so wonderfully old school, scribbling notes on slips of paper, phone cradled under his ear. He was very serious about his column: When I edited Variety’s party coverage, he would call to check and see what we were running, to make sure we didn’t overlap.