Publishing Industry Soundbytes 7-2-04

Posted on July 2, 2004

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

People

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Mark Smelzer has been named the new Publisher of JCK (Jewelers' Circular Keystone) magazine, Reed Business Information's (RBI's) flagship jewelry publication, which is relocating from King of Prussia, PA to New York City. Smelzer, formerly Associate Publisher of Variety, assumes the role vacated by former JCK Publisher Frank Dallahan, who elected not to relocate after seven years with the publication. Smelzer will be based in New York and report into RBI's Retail Group. He will also lead the New York-based jewelry publications, which include New York Diamonds and Israel Diamonds & Precious Stones.

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J. Bruce Baumann, managing editor of the Evansville (Ind.) Courier & Press for the past six years, has been promoted to executive editor of the newspaper. The Courier & Press is owned and operated by The E.W. Scripps Company. In his new role, Baumann will be in charge of all news operations for the newspaper. Baumann's elevation will enable Editor Paul McAuliffe to spend more time focused on strategic issues, including developing ways to exploit new technologies to deliver information. Both executives will report to the publisher. Baumann, 61, has been managing editor since returning to Evansville in 1998. He grew up in Evansville and began his newspaper career as a sportswriter intern with The Courier. He also worked for the Sunday Courier and Press from 1964 to 1969. Baumann was later assistant managing editor of the Pittsburgh Press for 10 years and was editor of Scripps' book publishing division for three years. He also has been a photographer and editor with the National Geographic magazine.

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Veteran television executive Maureen Smith has been named executive vice president and general manager of Animal Planet, U.S. The announcement was made by Billy Campbell, president, Discovery Networks, U.S. Based at the company's headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., Smith will report to Clark Bunting, executive vice president, Discovery U.S. Networks Group and join Animal Planet July 15. In her new role, Smith will oversee all programming, development, production and operations for Animal Planet. Most recently, Smith served as co-creator and executive producer on a variety of projects with the independent production companies Taweel-Loos and Company Entertainment and Ampersand Media. Smith joined TLC Entertainment in May of 2002 after transitioning Fox Family Channel to its new ownership under the Walt Disney Company.

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Belo Corp. has announced the retirement of David L. Cornwall, publisher and chief executive officer of The Press-Enterprise, effective December 31, 2004. Cornwall, 57, joined The Press-Enterprise in 1959 as a newspaper carrier. He rose through the ranks of the organization during his 45-year tenure before assuming his current role in October 2002. Cornwall began his Press-Enterprise career at age 12 as a newspaper carrier. By the time he began attending college part-time in 1964, he had been promoted to a management position within the circulation department.

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Newsday announced that Timothy P. Knight has been promoted to president and chief operating officer. Knight, 38, joined Newsday as executive vice president and general manager in February 2003. Previously, he served as vice president/strategic marketing, development and finance for the Chicago Tribune. He also was responsible for the newspaper's interactive operations. From 1998 to 2001, Knight was vice president/strategy and development of Tribune Publishing Company. In that position he oversaw acquisitions, strategic planning and development projects. Newsday also announced that John McKeon, senior vice president and general manager of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, will rejoin the newspaper as executive vice president and general manager. McKeon, 47, was Newsday's senior vice president/advertising when he left the paper in 1998 after 12 years to take a similar position with the Los Angeles Times. He joined the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in 2001 as senior vice president/general manager.

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Comcast Corporation and E! Networks have announced that Ted Harbert will become President and CEO of E! Networks effective July 12. He will succeed Mindy Herman, who announced her decision to leave her post with E! Networks earlier this year. Mr. Harbert most recently served as a producer at 20th Century Fox Television, where he developed more than a dozen comedies and dramas for networks over the last year. He previously was President of NBC Studios, with responsibility for the development and production of all NBC-owned programming for all dayparts, and was a television producer for DreamWorks SKG. He also held key executive positions at ABC, including serving as Chairman of ABC Entertainment.

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Starz Encore Group LLC (Starz) Executive Vice President of Finance and Chief Financial Officer Bill Myers have announced the promotion of Linda Brauns to vice president, strategic planning. Brauns had been executive director, business intelligence. In her new role, Brauns will be responsible for the financial analysis of all distribution agreements with Starz' cable and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) partners, the review of the company's major marketing campaigns and the evaluation of industry trends affecting Starz' competitors and distribution partners. She joined Starz in 1998 as a senior analyst in the market research department. Before joining Starz, Brauns was the finance manager for Intuit Inc., a provider of business and financial management software, where she was responsible for revenue and expense forecasting, reporting, budgeting and variance analysis. Brauns received her undergraduate degree in business administration from California State University. She is a member of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) and Women in Cable & Telecommunications (WICT) and recently attended CTAM U at Harvard Business School.

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New York Magazine design director Luke Hayman announced that he has hired Chris Dixon as art director. Dixon, who was art director of the Adbusters magazine, joined New York Magazine on June 1, 2004. During his tenure at Adbusters, the native Canadian was responsible for the re-design and conceptual development of the magazine. Since moving to New York, Dixon has worked at the New York Times Magazine as editorial designer and most recently did work through his own firm, Studio Plural. The firm's projects included creating a new international design identity for the United Nations in publications and books from the HIV/AIDS division, and developing a new in-flight magazine for Lan Airlines in Chile.

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Barbara Ehrenreich, an award-winning author, will pen a column for The New York Times Op-Ed page as a guest columnist for one month beginning July 1. Her column will appear on Thursdays and Sundays in place of Thomas L. Friedman's column while he is on sabbatical to finish a book about geopolitics. Gail Collins, editor of the editorial page, made the announcement.

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John Seely Brown, formerly the Chief Scientist of Xerox Corporation and director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) has been elected to serve on Amazon.com's board of directors. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Annenberg Center for Communication at the University of Southern California. Brown becomes the eighth board member and seventh independent member to sit on Amazon.com's board of directors. Brown received a BA in mathematics from Brown University and a PhD from the University of Michigan in computer and communication sciences. He is a Trustee of Brown University and the MacArthur Foundation, and serves on the boards of directors for Corning, Varian Medical Systems and Polycom Worldwide, as well as on numerous advisory boards. He has published over 100 papers in scientific journals and is the author two books, Seeing Differently: Insights on Information, and The Social Life of Information.

Content Deals

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Pulitzer Newspapers, Inc. ("PNI") a subsidiary of Pulitzer Inc. (NYSE:PTZ) and the parent of Pulitzer Central Coast Newspapers ("PCCN"), publisher of the Santa Maria Times and The Lompoc Record, has announced the purchase of two weekly newspapers serving the Santa Ynez Valley -- the paid-circulation Santa Ynez Valley News and the free Santa Ynez Extra Edition -- from Ynez Corporation, owned by Peg Johnson. The Santa Ynez Valley News was founded in 1927. Johnson acquired sole ownership of the publication in 1980. Both publications will continue to be printed at the Santa Maria Times in Santa Maria, Calif. Johnson will continue to work with the publications through a transitional period. In addition to the Santa Maria Times and The Lompoc Record, PCCN's operations include three English-language weekly newspapers, El Tiempo, a Spanish-English weekly newspaper, a monthly real estate publication, and news-based websites.

Launches and Redesigns

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The Windows XP Game Advisor, a new game website, lets people try before they buy. They can look at screenshots, watch trailers, try a free demo and then order the game online. Developed with Futuremark Corp., the Windows XP Game Advisor lets users select a game genre, from Action to Family to Strategy, and the age range of the gamer. They are then presented with a list of game titles that are age-appropriate and invited to test their machine to make sure it meets the system requirements. The Game Advisor makes the process simple by checking the computer, and then displaying a graph that shows if their PC can play the game. It also includes links to informative articles to help improve the gaming experience, and features more than 170 games from nearly three dozen publishers.

Film and Television

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Sony Pictures Entertainment's Spider-Man 2 established a new industry record for opening day box office receipts with an estimated $40.5 million in ticket sales. Spider-Man 2 debuted in 4,152 theaters. The $40.5 million figure shatters the existing opening day record of $39.4 million set by the original Spider-Man, which opened in May, 2002. The film also set a new record for openings on a Wednesday.

Music Business

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XM Satellite Radio, a provider of satellite radio, announced that it finished the second quarter of 2004 with more than 2.1 million subscribers. XM added more than 418,000 net new subscribers in the quarter. XM's subscriber gain during the second quarter of 2004 is more than double the number of subscribers added during the second quarter of 2003, when XM recorded more than 209,000 new subscribers. XM Satellite Radio is a satellite radio service with more than 2.1 million subscribers.

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Over 600 music and entertainment luminaries gathered at the 17th Annual ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. ASCAP President and Chairman and three-time Academy Award-winning lyricist Marilyn Bergman hosted the evening's festivities, which also saluted Black Music Month, and the 90th anniversary of the founding of America's first and largest Performing Rights Organization. 50 Cent picked up the Songwriter of the Year award for his five award-winning songs "21 Questions" featuring Nate Dog, "In Da Club," "Magic Stick" featuring Lil' Kim, "P.I.M.P.," and "Wanksta."

Book Deals and News

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Stoeger Publishing announced that they have signed an exclusive publishing agreement with Thomas Hamill to tell his story of faith, survival and ultimate escape after enduring 23 days of being held captive by Iraqi insurgents. The book, which will be co-authored by writer and photographer, Paul Brown, will be released October 15, 2004. Hamill, from Macon, Mississippi, was a truck convoy commander when his group was ambushed on April 9. The 44-year-old Hamill was wounded and taken prisoner. Four of his associates were killed and two are still missing. According to Hamill, prayer was the key to his survival. Hamill has signed an exclusive contract with Stoeger Publishing that includes not only the book rights but film rights as well. Stoeger Publishing will also work cooperatively with True Exposures Publishing, Brandon, Mississippi, on initial production.

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Self-published AuthorHouse writer George D. Robey recently optioned his corporate thriller, The Climbers, to Hollywood- based Rafelson Media Consulting, Inc. for a future large-scale movie production. Released in 2002, The Climbers is the story of three employees plotting to supplant their company's chief executive officer. The novel will be converted into a script and pitched to major movie studios. The film has a projected budget of at least $15 million with no spending limits, Robey says. Rafelson Media Consulting, Inc. develops original content and collects external ideas for distribution worldwide. The Climbers traces the devious schemes of three employees of National Public Energy, a large electric utility company in Columbus, Ohio. They hope to oust CEO Arnold Cloud and take over three top management slots at the corporation: CEO, board chairman and chief counsel. After an assassination attempt fails and a plan to link Cloud to a sour business deal backfires, the power-hungry men, Lou Rose, Charles Darst and Ralph Blackmoore, turn against each other.

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MediaBay, Inc., a spoken audio media company, has announced the launch of a new ecommerce website for its AudioBook Club members. Highlights of the new website include vibrant designs, intuitive navigation, member preference tracking, personalized product recommendations, product content communities, optimized product searches, audio excerpt streams in both Real Player and Windows Media formats, and online credit card payment options. MediaBay's content library includes over 60,000 classic radio programs, 3,500 film and television programs and thousands of audiobooks.