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Posts Tagged ‘Michael Eisner’

Taking Another Look at That Bernard Weinraub Farewell Column

ShutterstockAmyPascal2013When Bernard Weinraub exited the New York Times in 2005, he of course composed a farewell column. That article contains what now seem like a number of very prophetic statements, given the criminal intrusion and Tinseltown reactions threatening his wife’s tenure as Sony Pictures co-chairman. Starting with this Weinraub observation about his 14 years covering Hollywood:

My marriage, and some of the events that tumbled out of it, taught me something about the ferocity of a culture in which the players can be best friends one day and savage you the next.

Maybe it was 24 hours then. But thanks to the solidified culture of texting, email and social media, it’s now nanoseconds. As some of Pascal’s emails have shown (and the press has failed to properly contextualize), one of the main jobs of a studio chief is to tell each fragile ego what they want and need to hear. Regardless of that studio chief’s personal, true beliefs.

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Steve Guttenberg’s Stupendous Studio Lot Tale

Actor Steve Guttenberg is busy making the PR rounds for his new memoir The Guttenberg Bible. And no matter how many times he tells the story of the clever way he kick-started his LA acting career in the mid-1970s, it never ceases to be downright unbelievable.

Per a an interview on NPR, here’s how Guttenberg essentially took a page from Steven Spielberg’s Universal Studios playbook and applied it to the storied Paramount Pictures lot:

“In those days, there was no computer, there were no cell phones. There was just a guard with a telephone. So I just started walking by the time-punch machine and I punched a blank card, like everyone else was punching their cards and I started sneaking onto the lot and I found myself an office in the old Lucille Ball makeup building.”

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Disney-Loving Frenchman Looks to Reinvigorate KCET

LA Times TV reporter Scott Collins shared an intriguing look over the weekend at Dominique Bigle, the 60-year-old Gallic media investor who is hoping to fill the PBS void at KCET. The newly independent outlet definitely needs him; according to figures quoted by Collins, the station averaged just 10,000 viewers last month at any given time of the day, a 52% drop from the same period a year ago. (Prime time ratings were down 41%.)

The intriguing genealogy here is that Disney courses through Bigle’s veins. His father, journalist Armand Bigle, switched after World War II to a career overseeing the company’s European expansion, and son later followed suit, after initially studying law:

Bigle joined Disney in 1973. At first he was helping the company find and develop European musical acts, but he branched out into TV and home video, including the launch of Le Disney Channel across Europe. Meanwhile, he said, he cultivated ties with the company’s executives back in Burbank, including then-Chief Executive Michael Eisner

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Rick Fox, Arianna Huffington and a Real Housewife of New York City

1003_mockup.gif— DIANE CLEHANE

It was SRO at Michael’s today with movers and shakers jammed into every corner. I was so glad I got there early and was able to chat with Rick Fox and his girlfriend Eliza Dushku (who we loved on Buffy the Vampire Slayer) when they arrived at the stroke of noon. Having watched the former LA Laker morph into a serious ballroom dancer during his stint on Dancing With the Stars, I just had to ask him if he’d kept up with his smooth moves. “No I haven’t,” he told me with a laugh. “I guess I need to call [professional partner Cheryl Burke] if I ever need to do that again.”

Rick said he was in town for Internet Week to promote Off Season, a podcast production he is working on with Michael Eisner as producer. “It’s great and that’s where the future seems to be. I’m having a lot of fun with it.” As for Eliza, who is truly stunning in person, she’s in town to film an episode of  White Collar. When asked if she is playing a good girl or femme fatale on the USA Network series, she demurred. “A little of both, I think.” With that, the dazzling couple sailed off to take their place at their table in the center of the room.

I was lunching today with Myrna Blyth, editor-in-chief of thirdage.com, the longest-running site devoted to female baby boomers. Ever since Web entrepreneur Josh Speyer bought the site in 2010 and brought Myrna, who was once the guiding force of Ladies Home Journal and More, on board, over two million visitors have been flocking to the site for everything from boomer celebrity news to the latest health breakthroughs. While magazines seem to shun the 50-plus crowd, which Myrna thinks is a “big mistake,” thirdage is welcoming ‘women of a certain age’ who have have real buying power and who want talk  — and talk — about what matters to them online. “I think it’s wonderful to give such a powerful group the voice they deserve,” says Myrna. “Thirdage is for the woman who wasn’t born yesterday and wants to make the most of today.”

Here’s the rundown on todays’ crowd:

1.  Fidelis Global’s Gerry Byrne and Hollywoodlife.com‘s Bonnie Fuller, presiding over their second monthly “Influencers” lunch. The table was so jam packed that we could barely make out all the attendees, but we were able to spot Cosmo editrix Kate White; Neil Vogel, co-founder of the Webby Awards; Cablevision’s Tad Smith; Real Housewife LuAnn de Lesseps (that’s Countess de Lesseps to you!); Veronika Ward of MediaCom Interaction; Estee Lauder’s Marisa Thalberg; MMC’s chief revenue officer Aly Racer; and WNBC-TV’s Jane Hanson.

2. Michael Holtzman

3. Alan Grubman and NBC’s Richard Engel

4. Michael Fuchs and producer Jean Doumanian

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Mainstream Media Heavyweights Toast Launch of GabCast.TV

Lloyd Braun, Michael Eisner, and Fred Silverman. That’s a pretty impressive media exec triumvirate. Add to the mix Paul Wagner and you’ve got the braintrust responsible for GabCast.TV, a new streaming video programming hub that officially launched today.

There’s all kinds of grassroots programming here, including a channel featuring 28-year-old LA single Katie Matthews (pictured). Her show continued with another episode this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. PST:

Aside from her abundance of personal dating and relationship trials, Katie blogs and ghostwrites for several dating sites. She also writes sketch comedy and plays on an all-female improv team around LA. Originally from Missouri, Katie’s morally conservative upbringing underscores her adventures in the vibrant LA dating scene.

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The Maestro of Digital Hollywood

As per the ridiculously impressive line-up of speakers and panelists set to parade through the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel from October 18th to the 21st for Digital Hollywood, Victor Harwood has done it again. Victor who?

Although Harwood’s accomplishments are well-known within the trade show industry and (some) entertainment circles, his is certainly not a name that gets bandied about by the average fan when the topic of gold-brand Hollywood franchises is raised. But it should.

Harwood came out with his first release in 1990 and has followed with dozens of successful sequels, unimpeded by imitators who have tried and, for the most part, failed to follow in his well-organized footsteps. He started out in the trade show business up in San Francisco in 1987 and has touched everything from the International Business in Space Conference to the New York Writer’s Conference. He also had a hand at one point in New York Writer magazine, which reached a national subscriber base of 100,000.

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Lunch: TV Titans, Ivana Trump, & Devo!

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— DIANE CLEHANE

You never know who you’re going to meet on any given Wednesday at Michael’s. I’ve chatted with former presidents, Oscar winners, and tabloid targets who have made the usually unflappable crowd turn and stare, but it’s those unexpected, below the radar moments that are often the most fun. When GM Steve Millington introduced me to Jerry Casale of Devo, one of my favorite ’80s bands, I was delighted. Just last week, I’d just seen Pearl Jam’s cover of the group’s famous anthem, “Whip It,” on YouTube where they wore copies of those infamous yellow jumpsuits and red flowerpot hats. I asked Jerry if he’d known about the act in advance. “No, and I wished they’d told me,” he joked. “I would have been able to tell them about the hard hat holders we wore to keep our hats in place. They had to settle for those silly elastic straps under their chins.” Still, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, says Jerry. “I’ve gotten so many calls since it wound up in Rolling Stone and gone viral. It’s a lot of fun.”

Larry Kramer joined me for lunch today and was excited to tell me all about his upcoming book, Talespin, which was bought by HarperCollins earlier this fall (Freddie Friedman agented the deal). In it, Larry tackles the idea of how all businesses are grappling with “the recreation of storytelling” from publishing to retailing. The game has changed, says Larry, especially in media. He takes “the media guys” to task for “protecting the business model instead of the business.” Besides getting top executives from here and abroad to weigh in (in his reporting Larry discovered Europe was way ahead of the curve in adapting to a changing multi-platform world) — the book is a sum total of Larry’s experience in “the old and new worlds of media.” In addition to his two decades as a reporter and editor for top papers including The Washington Postand the San Francisco Examiner, Larry founded MarketWatch in 1997 and has helmed CBS Digital Media. These days, he’s consulting for a cross section of media ventures including Discovery Networks and The Weather Channel. In January, Larry will begin teaching a graduate level course at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School where some of the lectures will be Skyped in and students will be “embedded” into companies to study their strategies first hand.

Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:

1. Cosmo editrix Kate White with a table full of gals we didn’t get to meet.

2. Peter Brown

3. ‘Mayor’ Joe Armstrong, uber agent Ed Victor and Don Epstein of Greater Talent Network.

4. Author Ed Klein and Owen Laster

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Eisner To End His CNBC Show, Of His Own Accord

eisner2.jpgFormer Disney chieftain Michael Eisner has terminated his talk show on CNBC of his own volition, the New York Post’s Peter Lauria discloses.

The show only drew about 100,000 viewers (not great, by even CNBC standards).

But Eisner seems to be able to call the shots, even though he was deposed as Disney king years ago.

Gates, Buffet Speak, and the Moguls Listen

SV200815.jpgDan Cox, on special assignment for FishbowlLA, covering the 2008 Sun Valley Media Conference.

On the closing day of the Sun Valley Media Conference, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett held court with individual speeches about — what else — money.

Gates spoke about collecting it for his Gates Foundation, while Buffett discussed how it could be spent to help the country, according to people who listened.

GatesBuffet_7.13.jpg“Bill said amazing things,” said James Robinson III, former chairman of American Express. “He had all sorts of things to say about raising money for such things as medicine and diseases. He was very engaging and interesting, as he is every year.”

About 200 of those left at the conference attended the speeches, which had a ridiculously inordinate amount of security, with every entrance and exit to the speakers’ hall watched by four guards. Mediabistro, which was kept out by at least three different guards at entrances, thinks that’s what billionaire-type money brings.

But a few who stuck around to listen to billionaire mentality included William Morris Agency’s Jim Wiatt, Yahoo!’s Sue Decker, ICM’s Chris Silbermann, Page1Media’s Isaac Lee, Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Starr & Co.’s Ken Starr, News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, Time Warner’s Richard Parsons, media chef Rachael Ray, Scripps Co.’s Ken Lowe, former Disney chair Michael Eisner, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

Though almost half the invitees departed on Friday night, some stuck around to celebrate host Herb Allen with a special dinner last night. And, as every year, a special outdoors ice show (in the middle of summer!!!) took place behind the Sun Valley Lodge.

Friday night, Murdoch and Parsons were secluded at a table in the Sun Valley Lodge bar, discussing either some pending deal or the mixed drinks they wanted to order.

Parsons, who stepped down as Time Warner chair a few months ago, earlier told a reporter he was happy to be an observer at the conference this year rather than a corporate participant.

Dauman, Grey Mum About Redstone Succession

SV200810.jpgDan Cox, on special assignment for FishbowlLA, covering the 2008 Sun Valley Media Conference.

Paramount Chairman Brad Grey and Viacom CEO and President Philippe Dauman, after having an enjoyable Allen & Co.-sponsored lunch, refused to discuss the New York Times item this morning about Viacom founder Sumner Redstone settling with his daughter Shari to buyout her interest in the company. Redstone and Viacom reps were not available. But both Dauman and Grey, walking as quickly away from the pair of journos tracking them, said: “We aren’t commenting on that.”

Eisner_7.10.jpgFormer Disney chairman Michael Eisner wouldn’t admit as much, but he had to be pleased that he didn’t have to worry about any potential SAG strike. SAG is sitting down today with the AMPTP to possibly avert such a strike, but Eisner flat out refused to discuss it. “I won’t talk about the SAG strike,” he said. “I won’t go there.”

But Eisner did talk about his buddy Jeff Katzenberg‘s presentation on 3-D. “It was incredible and Jeff did a great job with identifying the technology behind the 3-D presentations,” he said.

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