Entertainment

Essential entertainment industry news & intel to start your day.
May 25, 2021
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Top Stories

  • Amazon.com Inc. is close to purchasing MGM Holdings for nearly $9 billion including debt in a deal that could close this week, according to people familiar with the matter, assuming negotiations do not fall apart in the final stages. If completed, the deal would be the latest sign of the increasing importance for streaming services like Amazon’s Prime Video to expand their content offerings for subscribers, with MGM owning notable titles like the James Bond franchise and TV shows such as “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Fargo.” (The Wall Street Journal)
  • “The Boss Baby: Family Business” will now debut in both movie theaters and on NBCUniversal’s streaming service Peacock on July 2, marking the first time a Universal Pictures film will premiere simultaneously on the streamer and at cinemas. The initial plan for the animated sequel, whose voice cast includes Alec Baldwin and Eva Longoria, was a Sept. 17 theater premiere and inclusion on premium VOD in October. (The Hollywood Reporter)
  • “Hadestown” will resume performances on Sept. 2, almost two weeks earlier than any reopening dates announced by other Broadway productions, which could lead to other producers rethinking their own shows’ plans as Broadway accelerates its return to the stage. The announcement about “Hadestown,” the last show to win a Tony Award for best musical, noted that “protocols may include mask enforcement, increased cleaning and ventilation/filtration enhancements, vaccination or negative test verification.” (The New York Times)
 

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What Else You Need to Know

General
 

Disney Restructures, Expands Media & Entertainment Distribution Tech Team To Support Digital Growth

Jill Goldsmith, Deadline

Disney’s Media & Entertainment Distribution Technology group has promoted and hired a handful of executives and realigned its business to better support the entertainment giant’s continued growth, the company said Monday.

 

Bob Chapek Sees Disney Parks Nearing Full Capacity By Fall; Calls Out “Famous Zero Feet Vs Six Feet Vs Three Feet” Social Distance Confusion Amid Reopening

Jill Goldsmith, Deadline

As the Covid-scarred world continues to reopen, Disney CEO Bob Chapek predicted low double-digit capacity growth over the next few months as the entertainment giant’s parks push towards full capacity this fall.

 

Discovery Deal Deepens Uncertainty Over WarnerMedia’s Bleacher Report

Sahil Patel and Jessica Toonkel, The Information

Shortly after Jason Kilar took over WarnerMedia a year ago, he met with executives at Bleacher Report to discuss the future of the scrappy digital sports business, according to people familiar with the discussions.

 

‘F9’ star John Cena says he loves China after Taiwan remark stokes anger

Jill Disis, CNN Business

“F9” star John Cena has professed his love for China after calling Taiwan a “country” during an interview that generated a backlash among fans in Hollywood’s most important international market. 

 

U.S. Warns Against All Travel to Japan Ahead of Olympics

Jessica Donati, The Wall Street Journal

The State Department warned Americans against all travel to Japan because of the risk posed by the Covid-19 pandemic on Monday, raising its travel advisory for the country to its highest level two months ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Janet Jackson’s Costumes, BTS’s Outfits: Why the Celebrity Auction Market Is Booming

Jacob Gallagher, The Wall Street Journal

In 2015, Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, Calif., sold the fuzzy green mohair-blend sweater that Kurt Cobain wore on Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged” episode for $140,800.

 
Film
 

NY Theater Owners Lobbying Empire State To Lift All Capacity Restrictions At Cinemas

Anthony D’Alessandro and Jill Goldsmith, Deadline

With all the glee emanating out of NYC this past weekend that Covid capacity restrictions were lifted, from restaurants to SNL‘s Studio 8H audiences, movie theaters are still slammed with a big asterisk.

 

Why Local-Language Adaptations Are the Next Round of Remakes

Scott Roxborough and Patrick Brzeski, The Hollywood Reporter

International films and series have a greater reach and wider audience than ever thanks to the success of global streaming platforms and a growing acceptance to leap over, as Parasite director Bong Joon Ho put it, “the 1-inch-tall barrier of subtitles.” So why, then, is the adaptation business booming?

 

‘Army of the Dead’ Viewers Question Dead Pixels on Screens

Jazz Tangcay, Variety

If you happened to watch Zack Snyder’s “Army of the Dead” this weekend, you might have noticed something was not quite right. 

 

Kevin Spacey Cast in Italian Film After Being Sidelined in the U.S.

Julia Jacobs, The New York Times

Kevin Spacey has been cast in a film in what is believed to be the first time since accusations of sexual assault against the actor started surfacing more than three years ago, prompting several court cases and unraveling his onscreen career.

 

Lindsay Lohan to Return to Acting by Starring in Netflix Christmas Romantic Comedy

Kate Aurthur, Variety

Lindsay Lohan, who has largely foregone acting in recent years, will soon star in a yet-to-be-titled Netflix holiday rom-com.

 
Television
 

From ‘FBI’ to ‘The Wonder Years,’ TV Networks Bet on More Franchises, Reboots

Joe Flint and Suzanne Vranica, The Wall Street Journal 

As ratings fall and viewers decamp to streaming platforms with fewer or no commercials, broadcasters are embracing the adage that imitation is the strongest form of television.

 

‘Rebel,’ ‘Clarice’ and More of the Biggest Surprises From the Broadcast Networks

Lesley Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter

The bulk of the renewals, cancellations and new series pickups are in, and the five broadcast networks largely played it safe by greenlighting what you’d expect them to: extensions of well-known and easily sold franchises and reboots of their own IP. That said, there were still some surprises. 

 

Can cable news win over young viewers? At MSNBC, a 40-year-old new president is going to try.

Jeremy Barr, The Washington Post

Cable news is not for the young.

 

Nielsen Invests in New TV Ratings Platform After Selling $2.4 Billion Unit

Mark Maurer, The Wall Street Journal 

Nielsen Holdings PLC’s finance chief Linda Zukauckas is allocating funds to a new TV ratings platform after the sale of the company’s market-analytics business earlier this year.

 

‘Real World’ alum Rachel Campos-Duffy joins ‘Fox & Friends’ as weekend co-host

Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times

Rachel Campos-Duffy has signed on to co-host the weekend edition of the Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends,” replacing Jedidiah Bila.

 

ViacomCBS’ Jo Ann Ross on Top Upfront Priorities and Keeping Her Event Short

Jason Lynch, Adweek

Following NBCUniversal’s Mark Marshall, Fox’s Marianne Gambelli , Discovery’s Jon Steinlauf, Disney’s Rita Ferro and JP Colaco’s WarnerMedia, next up is Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer, ViacomCBS domestic advertising sales.

 
Technology and New Media
 

Advertisers, TV Networks Go to Battle Over Streaming Ad Rates

Brian Steinberg, Variety

Rob Master loves the idea of putting commercials into new Hollywood streaming hubs like Peacock, HBO Max and Paramount Plus. But he’s not so enchanted with the costs being demanded by the media companies that own the sites.

 

Streaming services are vying to create the least annoying ad experience

Adam Epstein, Quartz

When NBCUniversal’s streaming service, Peacock, launched last year, the company bragged that it featured the “lightest ad load in the industry,” at only five minutes of advertisements per hour of content (or less).

 

Instagram’s Mosseri Is ‘Exploring’ Subscriptions, Open to Creator Fund

Kaya Yurieff, The Information

Instagram has long been a home for influencers, but it wasn’t until a year ago that it started offering ways for them to earn money directly on the app. Now, Instagram is “exploring” subscriptions and a marketplace for NFTs, said Instagram head Adam Mosseri in an interview.

 

Netflix is holding a week-long ‘geek’ event in June about The Witcher, The Sandman, and more

Jay Peters, The Verge

Netflix is announcing a new week-long virtual event, “Geeked Week,” where it will share information about upcoming titles like The Witcher, The Sandman, and The Cuphead Show.

 

SiriusXM partners with TikTok on a new music channel, Pandora Playlists and more

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch 

SiriusXM is leaning into TikTok. The satellite radio company and Pandora parent today announced a partnership with the social video platform to power several new initiatives, including a TikTok channel on SiriusXM, hosted TikTok playlists on Pandora and re-airings of Pandora LIVE events on TikTok.

 

‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ Is Leaving YouTube After $760,999 NFT Sale

Christina Morales, The New York Times

The original 2007 video “Charlie Bit My Finger,” a standard-bearer of viral internet fascination, has sold as a nonfungible token for $760,999, and the family who created it will take down the original from YouTube for good.

 

Apple releases iOS 14.6 with support for paid podcast subscriptions

I. Bonifacic, Engadget

Apple has started rolling out iOS 14.6 to regular iPhone users. The update’s headline feature is support for paid Apple Podcasts subscriptions.

 
Music
 

Bruno Mars Sells Part of Song Catalog to Warner Chappell Music

Ed Christman, Billboard

Bruno Mars quietly sold off a portion of his song catalog to Warner Chappell Music more than six months ago, according to sources and confirmed by the company.

 

Joe Crowley registers to lobby for musicians

Hans Nichols, Axios

Former Rep. Joe Crowley is registering to lobby for his first client — a coalition of recording artists fighting to finally get paid when their work is played on the radio.

 

‘The Off-Season’ Is J. Cole’s Sixth Straight No. 1 Album

Ben Sisario, The New York Times

Two big new hits top the Billboard charts this week: J. Cole’s “The Off-Season” is the No. 1 album, with the year’s most robust streaming number so far, while Olivia Rodrigo’s “Good 4 U” is the top single.

 

Here’s Why K-Pop Probably Won’t Have Its Own Grammy Category Anytime Soon

Hannah Lee, Billboard

The past two years have been filled with milestones for K-pop recognition in the U.S. In April 2019, BlackPink became the first all-female K-pop group to perform at the Coachella music festival.

 
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