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Signs of the Apocalypse Roundup – September 2009 – Week 3

Signs of the Apocalypse Roundup – September 2009 – Week 3

Susan Boyle to make U.S. TV debut
Scottish star to appear on ‘America’s Got Talent’
The Scottish sensation of “Britain’s Got Talent” will make her U.S. TV debut on the season finale of “America’s Got Talent,” according to a person close to the series. The person, who lacked authority to release the information, spoke Friday on condition of anonymity.

Ellen DeGeneres joins ‘Idol’
Also inks five-year deal to continue talk show
She has joined “American Idol” as the fourth judge, filling the void left by the departure of Paula Abdul. Additionally, she’s inked a new five-year deal with Warner Bros. to continue her successful daytime talk show.

Barry Manilow’s music to get cinematic
Film being developed around singer’s catalog
Single Cell partners Sandy Stern and Michael Stipe and Playtone partners Gary Goetzman and Tom Hanks have joined forces to develop a romantic comedy that will exploit the song catalogue of singer/songwriter Barry Manilow.

Germany’s RTL renews ‘Big Brother’
Series to air on RTL2 again next year
German web RTL2 has renewed its license for a 10th season of “Big Brother” from Endemol Germany. “Big Brother” ran from July to December on RTL2, climbing more than 40% above the channel’s average market share. In Italy, this year’s ninth season of “Grande fratello” averaged 6.6 million viewers and a 29.2% market share. In Spain, an 11th season of “Gran hermano” bowed on Telecinco on Sept. 6. A total of 28 “Big Brother” series are airing in 67 countries this year.

IFC sets table for ‘Dinner’
Cable network orders up episodes
Cabler has ordered six episodes of “Dinner With the Band,” a half-hour series that will have Gotham chef Sam Mason cooking a meal for top indie bands. Based on a Web series, “Dinner” will mix three musical performances and chat over a fine meal; skein will be shot in a Brooklyn loft. The bands booked are Les Savy Fav, Kid Sister and Flosstradamus, Men, Final Fantasy, Yacht and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings.

Bits and Pieces

Business of the Business

D-cinema gets $525 mil boost
Consortium’s fund will bankroll 15,000 conversions
JP Morgan next week will send out briefing books for a $525 million financing of up to 15,000 d-cinema installations over the next five years at the nation’s three biggest movie circuits. The circuits — Regal, AMC and Cinemark — will add 3D equipment at many of the sites. The 3D embellishments will carry considerably lower costs, which will be borne by the theater chains or in some cases 3D vendors. The heftier expense of first converting screens to digital is being defrayed in large part by commitments from the major studios.

New AT&T venture looks like Hulu 2
Free content available without subscription
Telephone company AT&T, parent of TV provider U-Verse, launched an online destination Thursday that looks a lot like Hulu. In fact, Hulu — the joint venture of Disney, Fox and NBC Universal — provides much of the content to the new venture, dubbed AT&T Entertainment. CBS Interactive and dozens more also provide content. The site, at www.entertainment.att.net, features ad-supported movies and TV shows from ABC, CBS, NBC, Bravo, Oxygen, Syfy, the CW, USA Network and others. Users don’t need to be U-verse subscribers to access the content, which is free, though some of it — like a two-minute scene from Universal’s 1985 film “The Breakfast Club” — requires users to register before viewing.

VOD set to help indie scene
Homevideo decline leaves room for new market
Viewed as a whole, VOD revenues can be underwhelming and deceiving, expected to near $2 billion across digital services such as iTunes, cable and other outlets this year — that’s just a sliver of the $22.5 billion expected from DVD and Blu-ray, projects Adams Media Research. Yet for a growing number of indie films, VOD has become a crucial revenue source, accounting for as much as 60% of revs for some movies and returning seven-figure checks for the highest-profile indies.

A different way of watching DVDs in Japan
Distrib develops a pay-as-you-watch model
Users purchase the DVDs for $5.83, then, after receiving the disc, visit the Visonare website, either by scanning a bar code on the disc sleeve — bar code scanners are common on Japanese cell phones — or by typing in a URL. Once on the site, they then pay the PPV fee — for instance, $1.12 for one week of unlimited viewing of each toon episode — and input a six-letter password using their DVD remote to view the disc. They can also buy multiple episodes in a package. When the week ends, the disk goes into a lock mode. Users can unlock it for another week at any time, however, by paying an additional $2.25 fee.

Producers’ pacts with the majors plunge
Studio cuts impact on-the-lot deals; about 50% fewer since 2000.
The number of term deals at the majors has dropped to about half of what it was in 2000, when a stunning 292 deals were listed in Variety’s Facts on Pacts report. That number fell to 241 in 2001, stayed fairly consistent for the next half-dozen years and then began plunging to the current level of 152 (not including pacts at Lionsgate or Overture).

Bits and Pieces

Planet of the Odd

‘M*A*S*H’ creator Larry Gelbart dies
Oscar nominee for ‘Tootsie,’ ‘Oh, God’
Larry Gelbart, the award-winning comedy writer best known for developing the landmark TV series “MASH,” co-writing the book for the hit Broadway musical “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and co-writing the classic movie comedy “Tootsie,” died this morning. He was 81. Gelbart, who was diagnosed with cancer in June, died at his home in Beverly Hills, said his wife, Pat.

Patrick Swayze dies of cancer at 57
‘Dirty Dancing’ star was nominated for three Golden Globes
Patrick Swayze has died after a nearly two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He came forward about his illness last spring, but continued working as he underwent treatments. He kept on working even after it was disclosed in March 2008 that he had a particularly deadly form of cancer. He starred in “The Beast,” an A&E drama series, and said he and his wife were working on a memoir.

Garrison Keillor recovering from stroke
Humorist expected to be released from hospital soon
Humorist Garrison Keillor still plans to start his new season of “A Prairie Home Companion” as scheduled in just over two weeks, despite suffering a minor stroke. Keillor had the stroke and was admitted to Saint Marys Hospital at Mayo Clinic, said Karl Oestreich, a spokesman for the Rochester, Minn. facility. He will remain there until Friday for tests “and upon his release will resume his schedule as previously planned,” Keillor spokesman David O’Neill said.

Kanye West causes VMA controversy
Rapper interrupts Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech
The MTV Video Music Awards suffered a bout of controversy Sunday night as Kanye West was booed after getting onstage and interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech. Swift had just received the award for best female video, beating out favorites Beyonce and Lady Gaga. As Swift thanked the crowd and her fans, West took to the stage and implied that Beyonce should have won, saying she had one of the best videos.

Australian actor Ray Barrett dies
Star of Brit television in the ’60s
Veteran Australian actor Ray Barrett, who became a star of British television in the 1960s, died Tuesday after a fall at his home at Gold Coast city in Queensland state. He was 82. Barrett’s last film role was as the character Ramsden in director Baz Luhrmann’s movie “Australia,” released last year. Born in Brisbane, he moved to England in the late 1950s and starred in the long-running British television series “The Troubleshooters” in the 1960s. Barrett did a wide range of acting work in the United Kingdom for almost 20 years, including voices for the iconic puppet television series “Thunderbirds,” before he returned to Australia in the mid-1970s.

The Fine Print

This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive roundup of the entire weeks’ news. All stories are chosen by me for no other reason than that they got my attention and might capture yours. If something you think is more important chime in on the feedback; we’d love to hear comments and have a conversation about it.

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About The Author

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Scott is an art director, writer and comics creator living in Los Angeles. He has been a pop culture maven from a very young age. His very first job was as a manager of a comic book store. He spent several years working in a video store, and yes, we are talking VHS tapes. A student of literature and Writing, he brings his obsessive love of comic book trivia, movie history and science fiction/fantasy writing to bear on the work he does for CoolShite.

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