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Posts Tagged ‘Ben Fritz’

Nikki Finke Talks to the Wall Street Journal

On page B1 of today’s Wall Street Journal, there it is. That rare entity known as an extensive on-the-record Nikki Finke interview. Finke emails and phones reporters all the time, but it’s usually always off-the-record. So kudos to Ben Fritz for being the one holding the scoop this time around.

In this particular case however, there was a minor glitch. Within a few hours of the online version being posted, Finke was objecting via the comments to the sub-headline ‘Founder of Website Deadline.com Says Vision Is No Longer Shared’:

That sub-head is unsupported by my quote published in the article: “The issue is whether this shared vision is still intact,” Ms. Finke said in an interview this week.” The WSJ needs to correct this sub-head immediately.

[Editor's note: The WSJ did correct immediately to 'Founder of Website Deadline.com Questions Whether Vision Is Still Shared']

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PMC, Prometheus Settle Deadline-TVLine-THR Lawsuit

From a PR standpoint, it’s been a strange week for PMC.

On Tuesday, Jay Penske’s operation rolled out a new weekly edition of Variety. But for a variety of reasons (pun intended, sorry), the launch yielded not nearly the boffo media splash it should have.

Now, at the end of a Passover/Good Friday week’s close, there is news of the settlement of a contentious IP theft lawsuit filed by PMC against Hollywood Reporter parent-parent company Prometheus Global Media. In this case, perhaps PMC was readying a big Cesar Chavez Day press release. But instead, Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz this afternoon got to the court documents first, followed by TheWrap’s Lucas Shaw:

When PMC filed the suit, it was seeking more than $5 million in damages, accusing THR of lifting source code from PMC’s site TVLine.com. The two parties settled on $162,500 as well as some other pieces that have not been made public, according to an individual with knowledge of the suit.

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Daniel Miller Logs His First LA Times Piece

As we reported, Daniel Miller recently jumped from The Hollywood Reporter to his hometown newspaper the LA Times. He replaces Ben Fritz who, after a short break, starts next Monday at the Wall Street Journal LA bureau.

For his first LAT item, appearing in Saturday’s print editions, Miller focuses on Universal Pictures’ re-entry into the toy business. As Miller notes, it’s been a while:

The last time Universal mounted a significant products campaign was in 2005, when it partnered with toy makers on the studio’s King Kong remake…

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Variety Editors, Reporters Dodge First Round of Penske Layoffs

The timing – right before Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday season – is tough for all involved. But per an internal message circulated today by Jay Penske, it’s the official ground-level beginning of a new era at trade publication Variety. And perhaps not the last of such cost-cutting measures:

Dear Team,

For the past six months, we have diligently reviewed every aspect of the Variety business. And in more recent weeks, we have outlined to Variety senior management an exciting and also aggressive trajectory for the brand’s resurgence. These steps will include substantial further investment in editorial and digital, but will unfortunately require some immediate eliminations in the following business units: LA411/NY411, Circ, Systems, Conferences, and Admin.

Without a doubt, this is a challenging day, and I particularly wanted to notify and acknowledge those of you who will be saying goodbye to valued colleagues and friends. As we look ahead, Variety’s business holds almost limitless potential and I will remain available to answer any questions you might have regarding today’s changes and our future. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me, or see Tammy Chase to arrange an appointment.

Sincerely,
Jay Penske
CEO
Variety Media, LLC

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HOLDJA Horses! Penske Reportedly Back in Lead for Variety

The ominous, bizarre, hilarious specter of Mike Fleming and Jeff Sneider working for the same parent company has reared its head again. This time in the form of a Monday afternoon LA Times report by Ben Fritz:

Penske Media Corp., the owner of Deadline and six other online properties, is now the leading bidder for Variety, partnered with private equity fund Shamrock Capital Advisors, according to two knowledgeable people not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

The company, led by Jay Penske (pictured), the 33-year-old son of automobile magnate Roger Penske, could close a deal to purchase the paper in the next three weeks for around $30 million, one of the people added.

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Report: Ron Burkle Set to Acquire Variety

As has been previously noted, there is only one bidder for Variety who has the capacity to write a check without picking up the phone. Thus, Ron Burkle was always seen as a leading contender to acquire the trade publication if he so chose. Apparently, he has.

According to an LA Times report by Ben Fritz, Burkle is now the leading contender to acquire the trade:

Burkle’s Yucaipa Co. has been the most aggressive bidder and is most likely to emerge victorious from a sales process currently underway, according to two people close to the sale but not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Much like the notion of Eli Broad purchasing the paper Fritz writes for, if it does transpire this way, it really could not have turned out any better for Variety. Burkle has deep pockets, tons of business acumen and, most likely, a solid big-picture plan that could spell trouble for the trade’s direct competitors. The purchase price would allegedly be close to what has previously been reported: $40 million.

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For Now, Larry Ellison’s Daughter Prefers Twitter Oracle

Megan Ellison, 26-year-old daughter of the third-richest man in America, has so far refused all interview requests. Nevertheless, LA Times reporters Ben Fritz and Steven Zeitchik have managed to put together a solid profile of the moneyed indie producer, beginning with these fabulous first two paragraphs:

She’s a 26-year-old former party girl with social anxiety issues, a motorcycle-riding iconoclast who dropped out of USC and attends meetings in Led Zeppelin T-shirts.

Megan Ellison is also the most powerful new producer in Hollywood, running a burgeoning movie company from her $33 million compound in the hills above the Sunset Strip — and giving a critical boost to the kinds of adult dramas the major studios have all but abandoned.

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Warner Bros. Beta Tests ‘Flixster Collections’

For the past two years, a large team of Warner Bros. executives has been trying to crack the nut of online movie purchasing. Now, per LA Times entertainment business reporter Ben Fritz, the studio is finally rolling out the results.

As an outgrowth of the studio’s purchase of Flixster.com, Warner Bros. is beta testing a “Collections” app that will allow consumers to organize their online movie libraries and share walls of poster illustrations on Facebook. The new tool can also be connected to iTunes, Netflix, or Amazon, and is the first of several such apps the studio has in the pipeline:

Warner sells more DVDs than any other studio with 21% of the market so far this year, meaning it would be the largest beneficiary of any overall industry growth.

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LA Times Calendar Section Defends Itself

Yesterday we listed all the people who are no longer at the Calendar Section of the LA Times. We noted it makes the section look pretty dysfunctional. We don’t hear of en masse exits from say the Sports Section. But it’s been pretty consistent at the Calendar section.

The newspaper has sent us a statement saying we forgot to mention they’ve hired people too. Hear that obit writers? You should also talk about how people are being born. Otherwise it’s only half the story.

From Nancy Sullivan:

LA Times Calendar section: The Mass Influx

NEW HIRES (in the same frame):
Joy Press, Randall Roberts, Melissa Maerz, Gerrick Kennedy, Yvonne Villarreal, Nardine Saad, Nate Jackson, Rebecca Keegan, Nicole Sperling, Ben Fritz, Joe Flint, Steve Zeitchik, Julie Makinen, Deb Vankin, Jori Finkel, Amy Kaufman, David Ng

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Top Gun Sequel’s Best Asset May Be 28-Year-Old Billionaire’s Son

Recent rumblings that a sequel to Top Gun may be brewing brought about a large, collective groan. But after reading today’s LA Times profile of David Ellison, the 28-year-old son of Oracle Corp. billionaire Larry and potential sequel producer, FishbowlLA is cautiously optimistic.

Under a headline that suggests Ellison Jr. is intent, with $350 million in funding, in working with Paramount Studios to make his Skydance Productions a “media company 2.0”, writers Claudia Eller and Ben Fritz put forth a portrait of a young man who has little hesitation about what he is doing:

Ellison pitched Top Gun‘s original team — Cruise, director Tony Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer – on ways to update the story to the 21st century, such as integrating the increasing use of unmanned drones by the military.

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