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Tangled Web

BuzzMedia Rebrands Itself as SpinMedia, Adds Tween Site

When we recently spoke to BuzzMedia CEO Stephen Hansen, one of the topics we brought up was whether the company might consider changing the name of its entertainment news site Celebuzz. This morning, the firm has gone one better.

The entire operation is now to be known as SpinMedia. In concert with the rebranding, the NY-LA company has launched its 45th site, Hearts & Foxes, a mobile-first destination optimized for “snackable” content. E.g., a site aiming squarely for teens thumb-glued to their Smartphones.

There is also a full redesign of Celebuzz in the pipeline, with changes to be added incrementally. Every article on that site will soon be a gallery and the content will appear differently depending on whether the reader is coming in via Web, mobile or tablet. From this morning’s announcement:

“Our mandate was to position SpinMedia as a next generation digital media company… ” says Hansen. “What remains steadfast is the authenticity of our editorial voices and the unprecedented context and depth that we bring to storytelling. This will only accelerate as we re-imagine what it means to be a digital media company super-serving fans who view consuming music and entertainment to be as vital to life as food, water and even sex.”      ”

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RIP: Movieline

Actually, it’s not quite RIP. But if one goes by the information at the bottom of a recent Anne Thompson Indiewire blog item, it does not exactly inspire bookmarking confidence:

UPDATE: [Editor Frank] DiGiacomo writes in an email:

“Movieline is in the process of transitioning to an all-video site, probably in mid-April. The plan is for me to become PMC’s New York-based editor at large when that changeover occurs.”

In other words, just a few months after DiGiacomo’s west coast counterpart Jen Yamato parked her byline at Deadline (a development noted by Thompson and also something we have been noticing), what was once a beloved monthly LA glossy mag is getting ready to transform yet again. DiGiacomo’s update makes it seem like there will be lots of trailers and PMC YouTube embeds.

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Gossip Cop Takes Another Shot at Jay Penske’s HollywoodLife

It’s not usually a good thing when an outlet gets the “zero” rating on gossipcop.com’s rumor-to-truth left-margin thermometer graph. That was the case this morning with Bonnie Fuller‘s HollywoodLife or, as Gossip Cop deems the outlet, “Jay Penske‘s Webloid.”

Chief cop Michael Lewittes has been all over this particular news trail since Day One. He links to a head-spinning number of HollywoodLife items about an alleged Down Under “trial separation” between Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. Lewittes claims the entire coverage block was erroneous:

It was sad, really, watching HollywoodLies — er, HollywoodLife — try to cover up its previous misrepresentations with increasingly desperate “reports” that bore no resemblance to reality.

Through it all, Gossip Cop correctly said that nothing had changed between Pattinson and Stewart, and predicted that when Pattinson returned to California, he and Stewart would make HollywoodLife look foolish. Sure enough, that’s exactly what happened.

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World of Wonder Resurrects Celebrity Call-In Show Ring My Bell

Has it really been that long? More than two decades after Ring My Bell first launched in 1991 as a Channel 4 UK live broadcast, the World of Wonder series is being dialed up for a second Web revival. The first episode premieres on the company’s YouTube channel Thursday, March 21.

In case you’ve forgotten, the show – which got a previous Web makeover in 2006 – very simply connects a celebrity and inbound callers. Some of the earliest programs featured Al Sharpton and Boy George. From today’s announcement:

“We always felt Ring My Bell was so simple, it was ahead of its time”, said World of Wonder co-founder Fenton Bailey. “The best talk show is the one without a host!” added partner Randy Barbato.

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The Insanity of YouTube: Kate Upton Considering LA Teen’s High School Prom Invitation

Are you sitting down? And if you’re a male teen, can you accept the fact that no, you should not have thought of this first?

In what is even by today’s va-va-voom viral standards a mind-boggling progression, Jake Davidson – a senior at Milken Community High School in Bel Air – has gone from posting a humorous Kate Upton prom invitation on YouTube March 16, to receiving a “maybe” reply from the supermodel via Twitter on Tuesday, to appearing this morning on The Today Show. With Upton joining in via telephone!

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Kevin Drum Celebrates 10 Years of Cat Blogging

Irvine’s own political blogger Kevin Drum fielded an AMA today on Reddit. Was he answering questions about his work at Mother Jones? Sequestration? Health care? Drone strikes? His Caltics days?

Ha! This is Reddit we’re talking about. No, cats and not news were the order of the day.

Says Drum:

Ten years ago, I took a picture of my cat and posted it on my blog. One thing led to another, and a few days later Friday Catblogging was born. Ten years later we’re celebrating its anniversary here on Reddit.

Indeed, the cat questions followed–including a rather salacious one involving tuna. We’ll let you sample that one for yourselves.

We personally were unaware of Drum’s role (ha!) in spreading metaphorical toxoplasmosis across the web. Now we are–and we’re shaking our fists grandpa-style in the general direction of Orange County (which we actually do regularly anyway).

Backstage Magazine Exalts ‘Digital All-Stars’

Lisa Donovan, co-founder of Maker Studios, is on the cover. She is joined inside this week’s issue of Backstage by other “actors, creators, moneymakers and misfits building the future of entertainment” as part of the publication’s first annual list of Digital All-Stars.

The crisply laid-out cover story blends a half-dozen interviews and shorter snippets to celebrate Funny or Die host Billy Eichner, Hulu senior VP of content Andy Forssell, YouTube Space LA chief Liam Collins, Issae Rae Productions namesake Issae Rae, Amazon Studios director Roy Price and many more. There’s also a nice, timely intro from executive editor Daniel Holloway:

And then there was House of Cards. Love it or hate it, Netflix’s $100 million venture into scripted original programming – David Fincher! Shakespearean undertones! — signified a Gutenberg moment. From this point on, high-end entertainment with genuine artistic ambitions would no longer only come first through a cable box or a cinema projector; it can and will come from anywhere…

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OC Video Game Company Blows Up Kickstarter, Again

There have been several recent Kickstarter campaigns cut from the same bell-curve cloth as the record-breaking Dow Jones Industrial average. Almost all of these have involved the video game industry and, in two cases, Newport Beach-based inXile entertainment.

Symptomatically, the figure quoted yesterday by OC Register reporter Ian Hamilton for the company’s Torment: Tides of Numenéra  campaign has since doubled. At press time, more than 33,000 backers have ponied way past the target goal for a combined total of more than $1.8 million. From the company’s Wednesday Kickstarter update:

Upon reaching $1.5M, we will expand the richness and reactivity of the story through adding two new writers to our team – Tony Evans and Mur Lafferty. We have designed the game’s storyline to be highly scalable and modular, and this allows us to bring in additional writing talent to enhance Torment’s story through deeper content and new areas and characters – both optional ones and on the critical path.

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Earbits Launches Social Music Currency ‘Groovies’

In this morning’s press release from Earbits, a Venice, CA company whose backers include WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg, CEO Joey Flores clearly highlights the marketplace need for something like Groovies:

“Over 70% of streaming music listeners are non-paying, most of whom also recognize the need to support artists and labels,” said Flores. “Groovies create a social economy that maximizes the potential of this demographic by putting a real value on the actions they take to support their favorite bands. Groovies empower fans to earn rewards, recognition and unlock access to our growing music catalog.”

Here’s a quick example of how the Earbits product works. Each streaming song costs 10 Groovies. If a listener joins a Facebook fan page for a particular or musician, they earn 50 Groovies (thereby unlocking five songs). According to Earbits, the value of a Facebook fan is around $3.60, e.g. a much higher revenue stream than the 0.5-2.5 cents typically paid by streaming services for single audio tracks.

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Perez Hilton Is a Dad

Who would have expected this a few years ago, when he was posting crotch shots of a then-teenage Miley Cyrus‘ on his site? Perez Hilton is a daddy.

Writes Hilton on his site:

I am ready to announce that earlier this month I was blessed with the birth of my first child, a beautiful and healthy baby boy – with lots of hair on his tiny head!

My family is overjoyed at this newest and most cherished addition.

Hilton told the LA Times a few years ago he wanted to have a child by the age of 35. Today’s announcement made no mention of his son’s surrogate mother or if he plans to raise the child alone.

Photo: Perezhilton.com

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