Publishing Industry Soundbytes 1-23-04

Posted on January 23, 2004

Content Deals | Film and Television
Launches and Redesigns | Miscellaneous
Music Business | People

People

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Michael Lynton has been named Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), it was announced by Howard Stringer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sony Corporation of America and Vice Chairman, Sony Corporation. Mr. Lynton, who had been President, Time Warner International; President, AOL International, and CEO, AOL Europe, since 2000, will be headquartered in Culver City, California. At the same time, Amy Pascal, Vice Chairman, SPE, is promoted to Chairman of the Motion Picture Group at SPE, with responsibility for all of the films produced and distributed by Sony Pictures Entertainment. Both appointments are effective in January 2004.

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Commonwealth Business Media, Inc. has announced the appointment of William Armbruster to the position of Shipping Digest editor. Under Armbruster's direction, the company plans to revamp the 80-year-old magazine in the beginning of 2004 to include an updated look and feel consistent with its sister publications, The Journal of Commerce, Pacific Shipper, The Florida Shipper and Gulf Shipper.

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Primedia Inc., a targeted media company, announced that Scott Fogarty (37) has been promoted to president and CEO of Films for the Humanities & Sciences. With this promotion, Mr. Fogarty will have responsibility for extending the market leading position of Films for the Humanities and Sciences, a provider of educational video content to schools and universities. In addition, he will direct curriculum-based content initiatives currently under development with Channel One, Primedia's satellite-distributed school news franchise. He will report to Jim Ritts, president and CEO of Primedia Television. Mr. Fogarty most recently served as vice president of development at Primedia's corporate office, where he was responsible for corporate development activities at Primedia's education companies, in addition to other Primedia segments. Prior to joining Primedia, he served as an executive in the television industry at Telerep, a unit of Cox Enterprises.

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Harcourt Supplemental Publishers (HSP) has named its new CEO and President, Tim McEwen. McEwen joins HSP from Haights Cross Communications where he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. McEwen took over the helm of HSP on January 1, 2004. At his position at Haights Cross, his operational responsibilities included day-to- day operations for this $160 million business group, more than 600 employees, 14,000 titles and 400,000 customers. In addition, his prior experiences include that of President and CEO, Lifelong Learning Group; President and CEO, Higher Education Group; President and CEO, South-Western College Publishing; and SVP, Publisher at Delmar; each within the Thomson Learning group.

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Tribune Company has named Thomas D. Leach vice president/development, effective Feb. 1, 2004. Leach is currently chief financial officer of Tribune Broadcasting, and has been with the company for nearly 20 years. Leach was named vice president/administration and chief financial officer of Tribune Broadcasting in March 2001. He directs group staff activities for finance, planning and development for the company's television, radio and entertainment businesses. In February 2003, his responsibilities expanded to include Tribune Broadcasting's news and broadcast operations, as well as its Business Systems Development group.

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Damien Saccani, who started his career as director of development at Universal Pictures in 1998, is returning to the studio as vice president, production, it was announced by Universal Pictures vice chairmen of worldwide production Mary Parent and Scott Stuber. Mr. Saccani, who is currently developing projects at Disney, Warner Bros. and Paramount, most recently worked at Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance Productions, which he joined in early 2002. There he executive-produced Catch That Kid, a children's adventure film written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas and directed by Bart Freundlich, which 20th Century Fox is scheduled to release in April, 2004. He also recently executive-produced Carl Franklin's thriller Out of Time, written by Dave Collard and starring Denzel Washington and Eva Mendes for MGM.

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Mylo Carbia, an up-and-coming screenwriter has formally announced her plans to leave Global Screen Partners to launch a new film production company called Zohar Films. Named after a 2,000-year-old spiritual text, Zohar Films will initially serve as a production entity for Carbia's own film projects and will later expand into a full-fledged independent film company by the end of 2004. Carbia leaves Global on December 31st with full ownership of several of her projects including the thriller Statute of Limitations which tells the story of a gang-rape victim who's paid to keep quiet, then years later methodically destroys the lives of each of the perpetrators. Global Screen Partners -- who still plan to release Carbia's big screen version of the comic book Double Impact -- said that they harbor no bad feelings about Carbia's decision to leave the company.

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Donald De Line has been appointed Vice Chairman, Motion Picture Group and President, Paramount Pictures it was announced by Sherry Lansing, Chairman, Paramount Pictures. Mr. De Line, whose appointment is effective January 5th, 2004, will report to Ms. Lansing. As president of the Motion Picture Group, Mr. De Line will be responsible for the company's annual slate of films which includes overseeing the acquisition of literary properties, development, budgeting, casting and production of motion pictures. Mr. De Line takes over this post from John Goldwyn who is stepping down to become a producer at the studio. Donald De Line has been at Paramount Pictures since 1998 with De Line Pictures where he produced The Italian Job, the upcoming Stepford Wives and Without a Paddle.

Content Deals

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Commercial Aviation Today announced that it is now part of Arlington, Va.-based GCW Consulting, a strategic consultancy for organizations in the aviation sector. The publication's founder, Daniel-Robert Gooch, will continue to manage the daily email newsletter as well as serve as a media and communications advisor to GCW clients. Founded by 30-year airline industry veteran Mo Garfinkle, GCW Consulting's principals have provided strategic and legal counsel for airlines, airports and industry vendors around the world.

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Kaplan Professional, a division of worldwide educational services provider Kaplan, Inc., announced that a subsidiary of Kaplan, Inc. has acquired the assets of Transcender LLC, a publisher of IT certification products. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Transcender is a subsidiary of Information Holdings Inc. Transcender will be joining Kaplan Professional's existing IT test prep and training businesses, which include Self Test Software, a leading provider of exam simulation software for technical certifications, and Perfect Access Speer, which provides software training for law firms and financial services companies. Transcender and Self Test Software represent the industry's number one and number two providers of IT practice tests respectively, preparing an estimated 250,000 professionals annually for IT certifications from leading vendors including Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Novell, Lotus, CIW and CompTIA.

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Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., announced that it has entered into an exclusive global publishing agreement with Reno-based developer BattleBorne Entertainment, Inc. for their soon-to-be announced video game for the next-generation gaming systems. Comprised of former members of the Fallout 2, Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon teams, BattleBorne is currently utilizing the Snowblind Studios technology and their own proprietary tools to develop the game.

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A.G. Media Group, Inc. announced that it has acquired all of the issued and outstanding shares of GospelCity.com Inc. GospelCity.com is a web destination site for new, established and independent Urban/Gospel music artists, fans and consumers. Founded in 1999, the North American based media company currently draws an audience of over 250,000 visitors.

Launches and Redesigns

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Electronic Gaming Monthly, the flagship publication of the Ziff Davis Media Game Group, has teamed up with MTV to bring viewers the Ultimate Video Game Countdown. The television show which will celebrate the best games from the past three years of the new millennium will air on MTV: Music Television on January 2, 2004 at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT. The show will repeat six times within a two-week time period. The winners will also appear in the February 2004 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly.

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VerticalScope Inc. has launched MarketingFind.com, a dynamic new Web portal providing tips, tools and ideas for SMEs to improve their online presence. MarketingFind, a marketing resource, provides marketing guides and vendor directories to help SMEs establish their online strategy to increase traffic or fine-tune existing targeted efforts to draw new customers. MarketingFind provides informative and articles on marketing topics including: affiliate programs, email marketing, pay per click initiatives, search engine optimization, online promotional tools and technologies, Web design, and Internet strategy development.

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Search engine Google has unvelied a new online social networking service called Orkut. The new service allows users to connect with friends and friends of their friends, as does online soon-to-be-rival service Friendster. Orkut is named for Google engineer Orkut Buyukkokten, who worked on the project during the 20 percent of his work time that Google lets their employees use to pursue their own projects. Orkut is a Stanford graduate who in his pre-Google years created social networking sites InCircle and Clubnexus. Orkut only accepts people who are invited by someone already on the Orkut network. After you have been accepted you are able to see profiles of the person who invited you and their friends. Orkut gives you the option to limit who can view which parts of your personal information, such as email addresses or IM names.

Film and Television

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A host of celebrities including Ann Archer, Roseanna Arquette and Holland Taylor have signed on to guest star on the new upcoming Showtime original series The L Word, about a group of young women living in Los Angeles. The series follows their lives, careers, and romantic relationships -- both gay and straight. Co-produced by Showtime and MGM, The L Word stars Jennifer Beals, Erin Daniels, Leisha Hailey, Laurel Holloman, Mia Kirshner, Karina Lombard, Eric Mabius, Katherine Moennig, and Pam Grier. Joining the ensemble cast for guest appearances are: Anne Archer, Rosanna Arquette, Lolita Davidovich, Ossie Davis, Devon Gummersall, Kelly Lynch, Tammy Lynn Michaels, Julian Sands, rap star/actor Snoop Dogg and Holland Taylor.

Jenny Schecter (Mia Kirshner) is a writer of fiction who has just graduated from college and arrives in Los Angeles to begin her "adult life" with her boyfriend Tim Haspel (Eric Mabius). They reside in West Hollywood, next door to Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals) and her partner Tina Kennard (Laurel Holloman), who are trying to find the perfect sperm donor to help them start a family. Bette's and Tina's close network of friends includes Shane McCutcheon (Katherine Moennig), who is the resident heartthrob; Dana Fairbanks (Erin Daniels), a professional tennis player not yet out of the closet; bisexual journalist Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey), and Bette's half-sister Kit Porter (Pam Grier), who is a musician and a recovering alcoholic. In the two-hour pilot, Jenny's plans for her future are shaken when Marina (Karina Lombard), a beautiful and compelling woman who owns a West Hollywood caf�, makes a pass at her at a party hosted by Bette and Tina.

The L Word is executive produced by Ilene Chaiken, through her production company Posse Productions, Inc., Steve Golin and Larry Kennar. The pilot is produced by Kathy Greenberg, Michele Abbott and Bob Roe. The pilot teleplay was written by Ilene Chaiken, with the story by Ilene Chaiken and Kathy Greenberg & Michele Abbott. The pilot was directed by Rose Troche.

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Emmett/Furla Films, a wholly owned subsidiary of Family Room Entertainment Corporation, recently announced in conjunction with Avi Lerner's Millennium Films that they have teamed up to produce and finance Edison from writer/director David Burke. Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman and LL Cool J are set to star. The producers for Edison are Randall Emmett, George Furla and Avi Lerner. Production is scheduled to commence in Vancouver on February 27th, 2004. Edison is being financed by Avi Lerner's Millennium Films, who will also handle the worldwide distribution.

Edison is the story of an elite unit of cops caught in a maelstrom of corruption by a young journalist who quickly finds himself in over his head. To find the truth and to save the lives of those around him, he must make an uneasy alliance with a burnt-out reporter (Freeman) and the DA's ace investigator (Spacey).

David Burke, a prolific writer/producer/director for television, will be making his feature film debut. Burke began his career as a writer on Michael Mann's Crime Story for CBS. He received an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination for his work on CBS' Wiseguy, for which he was Executive Producer as well as a writer and director. Most recently, Burke executive produced NBC's Law & Order: SVU

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MGM Pictures and Dimension Films have signed a co-production deal to produce and release the films The Amityville Horror and True Believers, it was announced by MGM Vice-Chairman and COO Chris McGurk and Dimension Films Chairman Bob Weinstein. Under the deal, MGM will take the lead on the production and domestic release of The Amityville Horror (as well as select international territories) while Dimension will handle the bulk of international distribution. For True Believers, the roles will be reversed: Dimension will take production and domestic distribution leads while MGM will release the film abroad.

A modern retelling of the classic ghost story, The Amityville Horror is being produced by Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Ted Field, and Andrew Fuller, the same team that struck gold with the recent update of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. True Believers is being produced by Arnold Rifkin, David Wally, and Richard Gladstein, with Ringu director Hideo Nakata set to direct from a script by Doug Richardson.

Music Business

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Loudeye Corp., a leader in managing, promoting and distributing digital media, has announced a multi-year music samples agreement with Amazon.com. Loudeye operates the world's largest archive of digital music with more than 4 million tracks from over 400,000 CDs. By using music samples from Loudeye, Amazon.com retains access to the most comprehensive music samples catalog available with the vast majority of new release material available on or prior to their official release dates.

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Liquid Digital Media, a provider of custom digital media services, has announced the test release of a Music Downloads service at walmart.com. There are plans for an official launch in 2004. Wal-Mart's Music Downloads service is the first service developed under the Liquid Digital Media name. Liquid Digital Media is a provider of custom digital music solutions, encompassing design, technology, and commerce. Current distribution partners include Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, and Clear Channel. Created in January 2003, Liquid Digital Media is a division of Anderson Media, a large music distributor, and was formed from the assets of Liquid Audio. Liquid Digital Media is staffed with experts in the digital music industry, including former employees of Liquid Audio, Rioport, and Listen.com.

Miscellaneous

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The Ziff Davis Media Game Group announced that beginning with the March 2004 issue, Xbox Nation (XBN), the gaming magazine exclusively serving the Microsoft Xbox gamer community, is increasing its publishing frequency from bi-monthly to monthly. Launched back in December 2001 as a quarterly magazine, XBN has increased in frequency every year, moving to bi-monthly in November 2002 and now to monthly. XBN provides information on Xbox games and accessories, game reviews and previews, along with targeted tips and strategies, and news and features covering Xbox culture.