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Archives: October 2008

LAT In 90 Seconds

43126299.jpgSuper Personal Touch: For a story about text message-based dating, the LAT ran a photo of one of the subjects that the subject took himself with his phone. A nice, meta touch — or more evidence that the LAT has fired too many workers?

41944255-291ffdsfd10756.jpgSwing Votes? Seema Mehta, following Sarah Palin on the campaing trail, reports today from Erie, Pa. that crowds booed the VP candidate when she told them, “I am thrilled to be here in the home state of the world-champion Philadelphia Phillies.” Turns out Erie is pretty divided between loyalties to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cleveland Indians. But to be fair, folks in Erie can practically see Philadelphia from their porches.

43135569-31115309.jpgCoolest Job At The Paper: When we grow up, we want to be Thomas H. Maugh II.

The Media Recession Hits Finland

sanoma10.31.08.pngSanoma Corp., the fifth biggest magazine publisher in Europe and the biggest media company in the Nordic region, reported profit that were slightly down from last year’s third quarter. The company made 61.1 million euros versus 61.5 million euros last year. While revenue increased, from 719 million euros to 779 million euros, higher corporate taxes lowered profits.

Like American publishers, Sanoma is feeling the advertising slowdown. “The advertising markets in our key operating countries have reacted to the general economic uncertainty and consumer confidence has begun to decline in many areas,” the company said in a statement. “Our outlook for the remaining part of the 2008 has become somewhat weaker.”

The Electoral College: That’s A Lot of Blue

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From here.

McCain To Appear on SNL?

Yes, it appears true. Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, in a last ditch effort to get votes, will appear this week on “Saturday Night Live,” press reports claimmccain5.jpg.

McCain may be trying to appeal to a younger demographic or he could just want to bitch-slap Alec Baldwin and Lorne Michaels for making fun of his running mate, Sarah Palin.

Either way, should be a good show.

‘What Just Happened’ Just Happened

An improbable studio film from director Barry Levinson is leaving audiences perplexed in its limited releaserwhatjusthappened_02.jpg.

The film, based on producer Art Linson’s tell-all book about the ins and outs of producing, is really more of a producer’s mea culpa. (Click here to see a trailer for the film.)

That Linson was able to convince a studio (much less 2929 Prods. chieftain Mark Cuban) to take on his semi-biographical tome is testament to his power as a producer. That he was able to script the version that Levinson actually shot is perhaps a greater accomplishment.

Hollywood is not ripe material for the film business, going back Preston Sturges’s classic “Sullivan’s Travels” all the way through to Levinson’s earlier film, “Wag the Dog” (ironically starring Robert De Niro as well) and even Robert Altman’s “The Player.”

It might have something to do with the age-old industry adage: Don’t ask how the sausage is made, just eat it.

Linson is not much of a screenwriter, but he does get off some good riffs. Bruce Willis, as a coddled star, screams at De Niro that he doesn’t have any films, he’s a producer:

“That’s like the mayonaisse on a bad sandwich.”

Maybe we should leave it at that.

Men’s Vogue and Portfolio: The Morning After

Yesterday was one of the darkest days yet for print media, and is some cases online, too — one Conde staffer told us that during the meeting to announce the layoffs and scale backs at Men’s Vogue even Anna Wintour choked up. And there’s till no word yet on how many people are being cut from Portfolio.com or when the cuts will take place. Rumor has it they are taking their time informing staffers. It’s also unclear why the website is being scaled back so drastically since staffers were recently told that they have been “meeting their revenue goals for 2008 while the magazine has not.” And then there was this bit of forward-thinking:

According to a person who attended the meeting, one of the staff’s braver souls asked why the Web site was being punished more severely than the magazine. “He gave a sort of corporate-speak answer, and what it appeared to boil down to is, is ‘This is a magazine company,’…And it left the impression that the Web site was sacrificed to save the magazine.”

Hard to believe magazines are faltering under that sort of leadership! Meanwhile over at Men’s Vogue publisher Marc Berger is reportedly leaving the company, while editor-in-chief Jay Fielden will stay on.

Rob Tornoe: The ‘Real’ Beginning of the End

modsssem.jpgRob Tornoe has a sobering post on his site today. It’s a graph from a 1982 Newsweek article:

“The Modem, a.k.a. modulator/demodulator, is a handy little device that lets computers talk over telephone lines. … ‘I go home, have a glass of wine, turn on my computer and see what’s on Dow Jones,’ says Apple vice president Wilfred Houde. ‘I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but I don’t read the paper anymore.’”

– Newsweek cover story, February 22, 1982, page 54.

Tornoe titles his post “The REAL Beginning of the End,” but we don’t agree. The REAL real beginning of the end would have been a graph from newspaper editors around the country on February 23, 1982, saying that either they hadn’t read the story or, worse – and more likely – that they’d read it and thought nothing … absolutely nothing … about it.

Paramount/DreamWorks Divorce In Settlement Stage

Further details in the Paramount/DreamWorks split are coming to light in what appears to be an amicable divorce (if such a thing exists in Hollywood), the Hollywood Reporter saysdreamworksteam.jpg.

As part of the studios’ separation agreement, projects remaining on Melrose Avenue that the new DreamWorks will have an option to co-finance and co-distribute (through its deal with Universal) include “No Man’s Land”; the Demetri Martin-penned comedy “Will”; “Love Me or Leave Me”; “Blood and Thunder,” about 19th century adventurer Kit Carson; “Follies”; “Little Britain”; “The Rivals,” with a screenplay by Robin Swicord; “Dominion,” produced by Nina Jacobson; “Spydust”; and an untitled Diablo Cody-scripted comedy from an original Steven Spielberg idea.

Previously reported in this batch were “Matt Helm,” “Imaginary Friends,” “Children of the Lamp” and a President Lincoln biopic scripted by Tony Kushner that was in the Paramount development fold before Spielberg showed an interest.

Paramount plans to distribute 20 films in 2009.

Meanwhile, former DW production president Adam Goodman, now a production chief along with Brad Weston at Paramount, has acquired rights to the graphic novel “Agnes Quill: An Anthology of Mystery” for Thor Freudenthal to direct. Evan Spiliotopoulos is adapting the Dave Roman work.

Goodman also will oversee all DreamWorks-developed projects remaining in active development at Paramount. Those number about 100.

For its part, DreamWorks likely will keep new acquisitions rare and focus on ready-to-go, well-packaged projects in the next few months as the company staffs up and finalizes financing. Development will continue on the 17 projects DreamWorks took with it after the split that Paramount will have the option to co-finance and co-distribute.

Those projects include “Button Man,” “Escape Artist,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Motorcade,” “Hereafter,” “St. Agnes’ Stand,” “The Damned,” “Rainbow Bridge,” “Real Steel,” “The Kidnapping of Eduardo Mortado,” “Atlantis Rising,” “Cowboys & Aliens,” “Dinner With Schmucks,” “Deep Sea Cowboys,” “The 39 Clues,” “Quartermain” and “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which the studio is in talks with Ben Stiller, among others, to direct.

Several of these have been floated to one degree or another since the studio acquired them as potential Spielberg directing gigs. But the director is casting his net wider for an outside project that he can helm while the new studio retools.

Additionally, Spielberg will remain an executive producer on four wholly owned Paramount properties, including “Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen” and “When Worlds Collide.”

LA Observed: Layoffs At LA Weekly Confirmed, Daily News Layoffs Rumored

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Man, it’s been a horrible couple of weeks for the state of print in this town. LA Observed notes that jobs were slashed at the LA Weekly and reports of a rumored four job cuts at the LA Daily News.

Sacked Staffers, Shannen Doherty Pay Last Respects To Radar

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Ex-Radar editor-in-chief Maer Roshan and Village Voice nightlife columnist Michael Musto

Last night, New York’s media mavens had a chance to mourn Radar at a farewell party at Chelsea lounge Citrine. Originally, the event was billed as a Halloween bash, but when the magazine suddenly folded, it turned into an impromptu funeral. Upon arriving, we spotted RadarOnline executive editor Alex Balk who’s no longer working with the site since its purchase and subsequent gutting by American Media Inc. Par for the course, Balk wouldn’t permit a picture, but he tried to appease us with a promise of a “big celebrity guest” supposedly stopping by the party later on. Radar’s last-ever cover girl Shannen Doherty did indeed make a cameo, but showed up late and left after less than five minutes, making her the only person who spent less time at the party than Balk.

More sightings and photos from the evening’s festivities, post-jump…

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