Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Madonna /Obama-Tues, 26 Aug 2008

Agents tell me they’ve never had a tougher time negotiating paydays for their top stars.

Upfront salaries are shrinking along with percentage slices on the back end.

Before working up too much empathy for the superstar fraternity, I thought it would be helpful to take one more look at Forbes’ the Celebrity 100
its annual listings of “the world’s most powerful celebrities” as ranked by power and pay.

Forbes estimates annual incomes of stars in various categories and chooses not to disclose research techniques or sources’.

Nonetheless its breakdowns yield yearly surprises as well as question marks.

Absent from the top of the money list this year are the likes of Tom Cruise ($13 million) and Brad Pitt ($20 million) – they either had a bad year or were secretive about their take-home pay.

Nonetheless, there are all sorts of surprise additions:

I knew 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) had a good year at $150 million, but did Pharrell Williams really pull in $20 million?

Miley Cyrus scored big this year ($25 million), but did Daniel Radcliffe also haul in $25 million for Pottering around and yanking off his shorts in Equus?

I thought actresses like Keira Knightley and Gwyneth Paltrow devoted too much time to art movies to become big-time earners, but Paltrow pulled in $25 million according to Forbes;

Knightley, $32 million.In the actor category, Bruce Willis got his act together well enough to make $41 million this year, which still paled next to Will Smith’s $80 million.

Even Howie Mandel dealt himself in for $14 million.

Just to get the sordid details out of the way, the top five earners across all categories consist of J.K. Rowling at $300 million
(and she just writes!), Oprah at $275 million, Curtis Jackson at $150 million (he’s still 50 Cent?)

Jerry Bruckheimer at $145 million and Ste-ven Spielberg at $130 million.

At the bottom of each category are the let’s-not-feel-sorry-for-them losers like Amy Adams ($14.5 million), Vanessa Hudgens ($3.2 million),

Marg Helgenberger ($6 million, which helps support her husband, SAG ball-breaker Alan Rosenberg), Daria Werbowy ($3.8 million Cavalli model) and Anthony Bourdain ($1.5 million chef on the Travel Channel).

I have no idea if these numbers are reasonably accurate, but I think all of these folks deserve our applause.

In a recession year, they had to hustle for their money.

Anthony Bourdain even roasted a warthog rectum for his viewers.

And then ate it.

That’s earning your pay.

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Barack Obama compared to Mahatma Gandhi and John Lennon by Madonna

By Matthew B. Zeidman

CARDIFF, Wales (Hollywood Today)

8/25/08 –

Saturday was the first performance of Madonna’s highly anticipated “Sticky and Sweet” tour, and the Michigan-born entertainer wasted no time in stirring up controversy.

According to the Associated Press, a video montage was played during the show, preceding a photograph of Republican presidential candidate John McCain with images of destruction,
global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler and anti-Western president of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe.

Not limiting the Welsh audience to her opinion on only one White House hopeful, Madonna played a more favorable montage later on, AP reported,
this time following pictures of John Lennon, Al Gore and Mahatma Gandhi with McCain’s Democratic rival, Barack Obama.

Madonna hasn’t been afraid to step on toes before, having received heavy criticism during 2006’s Confessions tour from various Christian leaders for performing the song “Live to Tell” while suspended from a cross.

Also during that tour, Madonna substituted curse-laden lyrics during her performance of “I Love New York” to insult President Bush.

During Madonna’s Blond Ambition tour in 1990, Pope John Paul II urged Catholics not to buy tickets because of the interspersing of Catholic and sexual themes, and her 1989 music video for “Like a Prayer,”

which featured her dancing in front of burning crosses and experiencing stigmata, caused Pepsi to pull a commercial featuring Madonna and the song after just a few airings.

Though Madonna was raised Catholic, she has been an ardent follower of Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism, for several years.

Fellow pop star Britney Spears studied the religion after befriending Madonna, but declared in mid-2006 that she had discontinued her involvement with Kabbalah to focus on raising her first son, Sean Preston.

Monday, August 18, 2008

monday, 18th Aug 2008


Shortly after Tom Cruise was anointed (with Paula Wagner) as the new czar of UA, I encountered him at a party.

After I congratulated him on his new venture, Cruise said, "You ran UA once, didn't you?"

"Yes, I ran it for 20 minutes.

The trouble is, UA's a ghost, not a company." I said.

Cruise smiled his ultra-cool smile and replied, "I'm hoping for 25."

He was being modest, I realized.

There were good portents surrounding his deal, which was orchestrated by Bert Fields, his attorney, and Harry Sloan, chief of MGM.

There was a $500 million pool available to finance production.

There was a firm commitment of support from the persuasive Sloan.

So Cruise in the end got his 25 minutes and now he'll go back to being a movie star.

Wagner will go back to producing.

And UA will go back to being a ghost.


Geek Fantasy Come True....


***Record producer Jerry Wexler has died at age 91.
Ed Christman, N.Y.

Music industry legend Jerry Wexler, who kick-started his career as a Billboard journalist in the late 1940s and went on to cultivate the careers of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin while a partner at Atlantic Records, has died at the age of 91 at his home in Siesta Key, Fla.
Wexler was born on Jan. 10, 1917, into a Jewish family in the Bronx.
After graduating from the school now known as Kansas State University and spending a stint in the Army, he was hired in 1947 at BMI, writing continuity copy for radio stations and plugging the organization's songs.
Later that year a friend recommended him to Billboard, where he was hired with a starting pay of $75 a week.
At Billboard, Wexler invented the term "rhythm & blues" to replace the name "race records," which was then the name of the chart tracking such music.
He stayed at Billboard until 1951, when he went to work for Big Three, the music publishing arm of MGM Records.
The following year, Atlantic Records tried to recruit him, but Wexler said he would only join if he was made a partner, and nothing happened.
A year later, when co-founder Herb Abramson joined the Army, Atlantic came back with another offer and this time agreed to take him in as a partner.
Atlantic had already established itself as an up-and-coming R&B label thanks to hits from artists like Ruth Brown, Joe Turner, Stick McGhee and the Clovers, with the just-signed Ray Charles waiting in the wings.
If Atlantic founders Abramson and Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun led the way into exploring rhythm and blues, it would be Wexler who ultimately led the label deep into Southern soul.

In 1965, he signed a distribution deal for Memphis-based Satellite Records, which was putting out songs by Carla Thomas.
That label would later become known as Stax.
Before long, Stax began a golden era of hits from Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd and William Bell, among others.
Before long, Wexler had begun using FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., as a home base for sessions.
"More than any other locale or individual, Muscle Shoals changed my life -- musically and every which way," Wexler wrote in his 1994 autobiography, "Rhythm & the Blues: A Life in American Music.
"The first artist he brought to Muscle Shoals was Aretha Franklin, whose 1967 debut, "I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You," redefined soul music.
As the '60s wore on, Wexler grew more involved with producing and much less with running Atlantic, although he was still closely involved in signing Led Zeppelin, the J. Geils Band and Donnie Hathaway.
He left Atlantic for good in 1975, but resurfaced two years later returned as VP of A&R for Warner Bros. Records.
In his autobiography, Wexler says that with the help of Karen Berg, they signed the B-52's, Dire Straits and Gang Of Four.
During the latter half of the 1970s, Wexler produced Etta James' "Deep in the Night," Bob Dylan's Christian album, "Slow Train Coming," Kim Carnes "Sailin'" and Dire Straits "Communique," among others.
Later in life, Wexler was involved with "The Wiz" soundtrack, the Dylan album "Saved" and recordings by a young George Michael, Bill Vera, Lou Ann Barton and Kenny Drew Jr.
Funeral details have yet to be announced.
***Eddy W. Hartenstein, a former head of DirecTV, will become publisher of The Los Angeles Times, the newspaper reported.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday, 15th August 2008



***Lead singer for Aerosmith Steven Tyler's memoir, promising coverage of "his early music career and influences, his legendary partnership with Joe Perry,

the meteoric rise, fall, and rise of Aerosmith over the last three decades, their music, his epic romantic life, his relationship with his four children (including actress Liv Tyler),

life on the road and in the spotlight, the economics of the rock star business --

and all the sex, drugs, and rock and roll a reader could ask for," sold to Ecco, at auction,

reportedly for over $2 million (Crain's NY), by Lisa Queen at the Queen Literary Agency (world).

The band as a whole told their story in the 2003 book Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith.

***Author of the bestselling Purpose-Driven Life Rick Warren's THE PURPOSE OF CHRISTMAS, based on a holiday message he delivered to 38,000 Christmas attendees at Saddleback Church,

which he calls "the clearest presentation of the Good News I've ever written,"

also sharing the 50-year-old Warren family tradition of having a Birthday party for Jesus, sold to Denny Boultinghouse at Howard Books, for publication in October 2008.

***Under a new deal with the Gotham Group, Simon & Schuster is seeking projects with multimedia potential.

The idea that appearance is valued more than performance is one of those painful facts of life that people always hate to be reminded of.


***Tom Cruise's producing partner Paula Wagner said Wednesday she will leave her job as chief executive of United Artists to produce projects independently.

Wagner will continue to co-own the studio with Cruise and "be attached to UA's most exciting film properties," UA and its parent company Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. added in a joint statement.

Cruise and Wagner were brought in to head UA in November 2006.

***Sid Ganis has been re-elected president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

The Academy's Board of Governors voted Ganis a fourth term as topper on Tuesday night.

All of the clocks in the movie Pulp Fiction are stuck on 4:20.
*** The only fruit with seeds on the outside are strawberries.
*** Donald Duck's middle name is Fauntleroy.
*** Bob Dylan's real name is Robert Zimmerman.
*** Mr. Rogers is an ordained minister.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


RGM hatches $400 million prod'n fund

Written by Michael Fleming

Tuesday, 05 August 2008

Singapore-based management and production company RGM Entertainment has set up a fund that will spend up to $400 million to fully back a handful of English-language features and TV productions over four years.

Money comes from a combination of debt provided by Oceana Media Finance, plus coin from RGM itself and institutional investors from Singapore.

The 25-year-old RGM, run by chairman Robyn Gardiner and CEO Devesh Chetty, started in Australia but moved to Singapore four years ago to better tap Pacific Rim talent and coin.

The management company reps some 300 clients, including Cate Blanchett.

The funding deal reflects RGM's growing ambition in production, following its assistance in financing the upcoming Jan De Bont-directed "Point Break 2" and "Winged Creatures," a drama that stars Forest Whitaker and Kate Beckinsale.

Gardiner and Chetty planned to meet with Hollywood studios and agencies this week.

They aim to firm up at least two film projects in the $15 million-$40 million range to finance over the next year, with the goal of financing four pictures per year.

Some of the projects will involve RGM clients, such as an India-based film that is in the formative stages and was hatched by Blanchett as a star vehicle.

Others will just be projects that have North American distribution and the potential to play in the global marketplace.

"My background is in finance and production, and Robyn's is in talent management, and we see this as a natural progression," Chetty said.

"We share clients with all of the major agencies and will turn to them for help in finding great material,

with the only requirement that we want to have North American theatrical distribution to protect our downside."

Paradigm's Motion Picture Finance Group represented RGM in the funding deal.

© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

All rights reserved.

Wed, 13 Aug 2008

Jenna Jameson's Nude PETA Ad Addresses the Issue of Too Much Sex!

Check out behind the scenes footage of Jenna's photo shoot.

Rumors are swirling that adult film icon Jenna Jameson might be pregnant.

Whether this is true or not, one thing is for sure:

Jenna knows the importance of birth control—animal birth control (ABC), that is.

That's why Jenna posed nude alongside the tagline "Sometimes Too Much Sex Can Be a Bad Thing" in PETA's latest ABC ad.

Every year, nearly 7 million dogs and cats are abandoned at animal shelters in the U.S., and the shelters are forced to euthanize almost half of these animals for lack of good homes.

The good news is that you can help as Jenna has—and you don't even have to take your clothes off!

It's as easy as ABC: animal birth control.

What is animal birth control?

It means always spaying or neutering your companion animals and never buying from a breeder or pet store.

If everyone took these small steps, we could put an end to the companion animal overpopulation crisis.

"Until dogs and cats can go on the pill or wear condoms, we need to help them practice safe sex—by spaying and neutering," says Jenna.

"Millions of homeless animals are turned in to shelters every year because there simply aren’t enough good homes for them all.

The answer is as easy as ABC: Animal Birth Control, which means get your Fido or Fluffy fixed!"

Filed under: R.I.P.

If you are in Chicago…

A large public memorial will be held for recently deceased comedian Bernie Mac, this Saturday, August 16th, at the 10,000-seat House of Hope church at 752 E. 114th St. in Chi town.

Donations in Mac's honor may also be sent to

The Bernie Mac Foundation for Sarcoidosis

40 E. 9th St., Suite 601

Chicago, IL 60605.

No Recession for Superstar Paydays

Agents tell me they’ve never had a tougher time negotiating paydays for their top stars.

Upfront salaries are shrinking along with percentage slices on the back end.

Before working up too much empathy for the superstar fraternity, I thought it would be helpful to take one more look at Forbes’ the Celebrity 100, its annual listings of “the world’s most powerful celebrities” as ranked by power and pay.

Forbes estimates annual incomes of stars in various categories and chooses not to disclose research techniques or sources’.

Nonetheless its breakdowns yield yearly surprises as well as question marks.

Absent from the top of the money list this year are the likes of Tom Cruise ($13 million) and Brad Pitt ($20 million) – they either had a bad year or were secretive about their take-home pay.

Nonetheless, there are all sorts of surprise additions:

I knew 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) had a good year at $150 million, but did Pharrell Williams really pull in $20 million?

Miley Cyrus scored big this year ($25 million), but did Daniel Radcliffe also haul in $25 million for Pottering around and yanking off his shorts in Equus?

I thought actresses like Keira Knightley and Gwyneth Paltrow devoted too much time to art movies to become big-time earners, but Paltrow pulled in $25 million according to Forbes;

Knightley, $32 million.

In the actor category, Bruce Willis got his act together well enough to make $41 million this year, which still paled next to Will Smith’s $80 million.

Even Howie Mandel dealt himself in for $14 million.

Just to get the sordid details out of the way, the top five earners across all categories consist of J.K. Rowling at $300 million (and she just writes!),

Oprah at $275 million, Curtis Jackson at $150 million (he’s still 50 Cent?) Jerry Bruckheimer at $145 million and Ste-ven Spielberg at $130 million.

At the bottom of each category are the let’s-not-feel-sorry-for-them losers like Amy Adams ($14.5 million), Vanessa Hudgens ($3.2 million),

Marg Helgenberger ($6 million, which helps support her husband, SAG ball-breaker Alan Rosenberg), Daria Werbowy ($3.8 million Cavalli model) and Anthony Bourdain ($1.5 million chef on the Travel Channel).

I have no idea if these numbers are reasonably accurate, but I think all of these folks deserve our applause.

In a recession year, they had to hustle for their money.

Anthony Bourdain even roasted a warthog rectum for his viewers.

And then ate it.

That’s earning your pay.


Israel is just one of the 23 foreign countries with daily LBN E-Lert readers.


***Jennifer Aniston, without beau John Mayer, checking out Lili Haydn's performance at the Friends of El Faro event at Boulevard 3 in Hollywood with Leslie Bibb, Josh Duhamel and Molly Simms.***Music attorney John Branca having lunch alone yesterday at Piccolo Paradiso on Beverly Drive.

***A very pregnant Ashlee Simpson and hubby Pete Wentz at the Boost Mobile BBQ party in Malibu sipping Snapple Antioxidant water.

***Michael Kors and the cast of "Gossip Girl" at Capitale in NYC on the Bowery filming a fashion-show scene.

***A high-wattage mix of showbiz talent, execs, agents and managers packed UCLA's Royce Hall on Monday evening to remember Bernie Brillstein as a friend, mentor and industry icon.

Emcee Martin Short set a light but loving tone at the outset of the tribute to the pioneering manager and producer, who died Thursday at age 77.

***BE AN LBN CORRESPONDENT Send your celebrity sightings to LBNElert@TimeWire.net

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creative Artists Agency, in China, 12th Aug 2008

CAA imports 'tenpercentery' concept

Written by Patrick Frater

Monday, 04 August 2008

China and its population of 1.3 billion have been a tantalizing but elusive market for Western entertainment companies.

However, in the space of two years, CAA has built up an enviable client list and a position of significant influence by introducing a business that’s largely new to the Chinese film industry.

The Beijing office of CAA, headed by American Peter Loehr, boasts a staff of 20 and more than 50 clients, including more than 20 directors and a dozen writers.

The office has made Hollywood deals for its clients, who include Ang Lee, Jet Li and John Woo, but much of the emphasis is on creating work for the clients within China and other parts of Asia.
CAA brought with it the Western ideas of packaging and agency commissions, radical twists to the Asian way of doing business.

This “new” approach has worked to the agency’s benefit.

Many Western media companies have set up offices in China, only to be frustrated by bureaucracy and red tape from a government that is wary of losing control over the levers of mass communication.

But media ministry State Administration for Radio, Film & Television, as well as the Film Bureau (the government body that executes policy in the movie industry), were receptive to the Hollywood agency:

CAA is a business-to-business service supplier, not a broadcaster, distributor, publisher or exhibition company that connects with the public.

The government welcomed a way to modernize and expand the industry.

And China liked the fact that CAA, with its roots in Hollywood, could help local talent find a worldwide audience.

The business plan is in sharp contrast to the usual scenario in many Asian territories, where writers and directors have little or no representation and are responsible for creating their own deals.

Actors, meanwhile, are subject to variable conditions across Asia.

In some instances they are signed to (by western standards) extraordinarily long and onerous contracts.

In others, they are akin to employees of their management companies, which pay “clients” a wage or give them a much smaller share of the revenues:

Asian managers regularly hold onto more than 80% of talent’s earnings.

In other cases, talent is repped by relatives, a practice that has tinges of amateurism but has the virtue of keeping much more of the star’s earnings within the family.

While other agencies are keeping an eye on CAA’s moves, so far none has jumped in.

For example, WMA has a Shanghai outpost and remains more specialized, linking its Chinese clients with such corporate sponsors as Nike.

Most other Hollywood agencies are looking after their handful of Chinese clients from the U.S.

CAA made a smart choice when the agency approached Loehr in 2005.

He was already based in the city and knows the Chinese film business like few others.

Not only does he speak fluent Mandarin (and Japanese), he was arguably one of the country’s first independent producers of any nationality:

He set up an arthouse production company Imar Film Co., and later a more commercially oriented shingle Ming Prods.

The idea of a Beijing office “started in L.A. with people thinking about the region,” he says.

“I was already working with CAA as a producer.

And then I was offered the amazing resources of the agency.

The model that the agency works off of is something so novel and different for this market, that it was a really interesting opportunity.”

He says what convinced him, over nearly a year of negotiations, was a common recognition of the huge talent pool in China and the importance of having a physical presence in the country from which to create opportunities for that talent.

Loehr says what CAA in China does is very similar to its work in L.A., Gotham and elsewhere.

“Our business is very much built on representation of talent.

We work with fantastic artists, help them capitalize on opportunities that exist or that we create and we work with them on their careers.

Our goal is to emulate the U.S. office in any way we can.”

It helps that the agency can count on star names of Chinese cinema.

But the Beijing-based unit also represents helmers who have not yet had much influence beyond the Middle Kingdom.

That list includes Ning Hao, helmer of genre-defining hit “Crazy Stone”;

up-and-coming female director Ma Liwan; and Zhang Yibai, a prolific helmer of commercially oriented movies.

The actor roster ranges from the likes of Hong Kong establishment Karen Mok to Yu Nan, star of Berlin Golden Bear winner “Tuya’s Marriage” and who recently appeared in “Speed Racer.”

“We represent some clients who we feel have tremendous international potential and we work with them in that space, but we also represent those who are totally local.

We have the resources to go either direction,” says Loehr, who estimates he spends two hours per day on the phone with his Stateside colleagues.

Although operated from Beijing, CAA has also signed up the cream of South Korea’s helmers.

These include “The Host” director Bong Joon-ho; Kim Jee-woon, whose “The Good the Bad the Weird,” just enjoyed a $15 million opening weekend;

John H. Lee; and Kang Je-gyu, pioneer of the Korean modern age with “Shiri” and “Taegukgi.”

“At the initial stages we took a decision to focus on directors because directors were not represented in China.

We strongly believe that directors and writers lead to material and packages that create opportunities for all our clients,” says Loehr.

Although the notion of a pro-active talent agency putting people, projects and coin together is relatively new in China, packaging has quickly become a significant part of the CAA model.

It comes at a time when the majority of state-run studios are becoming irrelevant to the marketplace and a handful of private companies such as Huayi Bros. or Chengtian or aggressive state-owned enterprises such as China Film Group and Bona are redefining the production scene

— often using the coin of wealthy investors from other sectors.

“We find that because the marketplace in China is so new and growing and there are so many new players in the marketthat the concept (of packaging) is embraced,” says Loehr.

“We are taking a lot of the strain off the financier.

Instead of saying ‘Here’s this script, what do you think?’ we are saying ‘Hey, here’s a finished package you can evaluate from an investment perspective, script, genre;

this is the performance of similar movies, these are the cast, director, this is the budget and this is how we will help you recoup it.’ ”

The agency was involved in packaging more than 20 films last year, with budget ranges from $300,000 to $8 million, and mobilized some $50 million of finance — 90% of which was Chinese sourced.

Loehr says, “Most companies in this (area) are management companies rather than agencies.

They are really producing movies for their clients.

We think that is a very difficult model to sustain, because even the most prolific production companies are making four to five movies a year, where we can package together 20-25 movies a year.”

Still, Loehr welcomes the launch of high-profile management companies, such as Bona Yinglong (a joint venture among the Bona group, Jackie Chan and Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Picture)

and Stella Entertainment, which is headed by John Woo’s producing partner Terence Chang and thesp Michelle Yeoh.

“We think that the China market is going to grow by 30%-40% per year for many years to come,” says Loehr.

“In Asia as a region there is tremendous growth in B.O. on a year-in, year-out basis.

Eventually the economics of that will be a tremendous tool for casting Asian actors in roles that were not initially written for them,” says Loehr.

“Will there come a day when a lot of the great Hollywood roles open up?

We believe that is going to happen.”

© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

All rights reserved.

Snoop Dogg's Bollywood cameo

Written by Byron Perry

Monday, 04 August 2008

DreamWorks isn’t the only Hollywood entity foraying into India these days.

Rapper, reality TV star and outspoken medicinal marijuana advocate Snoop Dogg has a cameo in the Bollywood musical “Singh Is Kinng,” which opens in the region Aug. 7.

More than one option

In crimson Punjabi shirt and a turban, Snoop performs the titular musical number alongside star Akshay Kumar in a segment that was lensed in Chicago.

The Long Beach, Calif.-based rapper and the Bollywood actor apparently hit it off so well that they went on a “kingly” shopping spree for the Indian garb seen in the shoot.

It’s not the first time that Hollywood actors have appeared in Indian pics —

Rex Harrison and Sylvia Miles had supporting roles in the 1978 flop “Shalimar” and Ali Larter recently starred in “Marigold” — but it is the first time that a mainstream American artist has performed on a Bollywood soundtrack.

The song’s already a hit: Soundtrack sold 5 million copies in “just about a fortnight,” according to the “Singh Is Kinng” website.

“Snoop’s presence has definitely invited mainstream media attention and a lot of American-Asian and British-Asian youth focus as well.

There is no denying that his presence has spurred sales,” says Tanuj Garg, U.K. and Europe head of Studio 18, the Viacom-owned distributor of the pic.

And the Doggfather sends the love right back.

“Represent that Punjabi,” he growls on the track’s intro, while later proclaiming, “What up to all my ladies hangin’ out in Mumbai.”

The rapper is also mulling the prospect of a live tour in India.

© Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

All rights reserved.

tuesday, 12th aug 2008

Spielberg wants Bollywood

Steven Spielberg, ever the iconoclast, is just saying NO to the studios these days.

As has been reported over and over, he's doing a deal with India's Reliance ADA Group.

The India contingent is putting up a billion bucks to give Spielberg carte blanche (or however that translates to Indian) to make and distribute whatever he wants.

He's already got some producers ready to attach to the Spielbergian realm, including Walter and Laurie Parkes (longtime Spielberg pals) and Ben Stiller.

Oh yeah, the distribution might not be so easy.

He still doesn't have any distribution set for these films and unfortunately the only ones who can legitimately distribute films in this country are the major studios.

Nobody can explain why the majors have such a stranglehold on film distribution, though the Internet is starting to whittle that influence away.

Regardless, Speilberg's looking and the majors are all considering (but not relying on, ho ho) his Reliance cash,
but invariably it's likely that Spielberg will be back in bed with Universal, where all of his filmic links have been in the past, whether DreamWorks SKG or Amblin.

The India Reliance deal is supposed to be completed this week.

We'll see if Spielberg starts wearing a Sari or has a red dot implanted on his forehead.


***Some packages like the curvaceous old Coke bottle become so iconic that they are recognizable at 30 paces.

So it is with Rolling Stone, whose large format has stood out on magazine racks for more than three decades.

It won't for much longer, however.

With the Oct. 30 issue, which will go on sale Oct. 17, Rolling Stone, published by Wenner Media, will adopt the standard size used by all but a few magazines.

In an interview in his office, Jann Wenner, founder, publisher, editor and general guiding force behind the nation's biggest music magazine, was characteristically brash about the change.

Leaning back in his chair, one leg slung over the side of it, he said, "All you're getting from that large size is nostalgia."

***Tina Brown has worked in the US for more than two decades, since taking the helm of Vanity Fair in 1984;

and she's now attempting to reinvent herself for the internet.

But Lady Evans, as the 55-year-old former magazine editor is also entitled to call herself, remains at heart a Brit of an earlier generation, pickled in ink and arch wit.

Her forthcoming news site, backed by old patron Barry Diller of IAC, is to be dubbed The Daily Beast, after the shameless tabloid of Evelyn Waugh's 1938 novel Scoop.


What was wonderful about doing business with Bernie Brillstein was that he enjoyed a good laugh as much as a good deal.

In a business of grabbers, Bernie was a collector:

He collected great stories and relished sharing them.

He understood all the nuances and subtexts of deal making and found humor both in success and failure.

Bernie has left us now and there are many who feel the loss.

That's because there was only one Bernie.

To reply directly to Peter Bart, email LBNElert@TimeWire.net.

Monday, August 11, 2008

more...monday, 11th aug 2008

An Old Rocker Gets Digital

Peter Gabriel, a founder of the rock group Genesis, is today an investor in Internet music delivery systems.


Published: August 9, 2008

WHEN Charles Grimsdale, a British investor, started the Internet music venture OD2 in 1999, he had a hard time persuading large record companies to license their music.

But when he approached the rock musician Peter Gabriel about putting his music catalog online, he got a very different response:

Mr. Gabriel was not only willing, he also wanted to take a stake in the company.

Peter Gabriel during a festival in Switzerland. He was an early embracer of digital recording.

While major record companies have spent heavily on the Internet with relatively little to show, Mr. Gabriel and his partners started OD2 on a tight budget,

built it into a digital delivery platform that retailers like Virgin used on their Web sites, and sold it in 2004 for $40.5 million.

“When most labels were banging their heads, he got it and saw the liberating value of Internet distribution to artists, and that’s what excited him,” says Mr. Grimsdale, a partner at Eden Ventures, of Mr. Gabriel.

“He has a very good sense technologically of what’s going to work.”

OD2’s success also catapulted Mr. Gabriel, after decades as a top-selling artist, into a second career as a powerful player in the emerging online music industry,

a move that once seemed more outlandish than the costumes he wore in the early 1970s as a singer for the rock group Genesis.

But Mr. Gabriel, the son of an inventor, keeps devising new ways for musicians and record labels to use the Web to control their work and to make — not lose — money.

His two newest Internet ventures — We7, an advertising-driven music site, and TheFilter.com, which offers personally tailored multimedia recommendations
— have received strong financial backing and positive user reviews in early tests.

As an artist, Mr. Gabriel was quick to embrace new technologies like music videos, interactive CDs and high-definition television.
His 1982 release featuring the popular single “Shock the Monkey” was among the first completely digital recordings.

“He’s very technically savvy,” says Tom Teichman, chairman

of Spark Ventures, which is a partner with Mr. Gabriel on We7.

“He carries all the latest gadgets, understands what the artistic involvement can be and is very clued up on the business model.

That’s an extremely unusual combination, and he does it in a chummy way.”

Those attributes set Mr. Gabriel apart from most musicians and, indeed, from most record executives.

“Technology has always shaped music,” he says, “be it 78s, 45s, LPs or CDs, it changes the shape of the music.

With downloading, the artistic change hasn’t really hit yet.

But it’s turned the economic model on its head.

The major record companies have some smart people looking at digital models.

But the question is, will the people at the top be willing to turn the business upside down?”

Mr. Gabriel is betting that they will have to make that leap, and recent record industry history seems to be on his side.

Since the advent of Napster in 1999 made music file-sharing ubiquitous, the recording industry has been in a downward spiral:

in the United States, from 1999 to 2007, annual CD sales plummeted from $13 billion to $7.5 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, or RIAA.

Though the major record companies succeeded in shutting down Napster, their subsequent attempts to control online music proved fruitless, largely because the labels either lacked the skill or disliked one another too much to agree on delivery systems.

More recently, outside services like Apple iTunes, Amazon.com, eMusic and Rhapsody have succeeded to the point that paid digital downloads

— which also include ring tones — now account for nearly 25 percent of record industry revenue, according to the RIAA.

That’s hardly enough to make up for the drop in CD sales. Moreover, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a trade group, says that freely traded music downloads still outnumber paid tracks by 20 to 1.

But encouraged by the growth of the commercial digital marketplace — and worried about the success a handful of established artists like Radiohead and Trent Reznor
have had selling music online directly to consumers — the big labels are cautiously expanding the kinds of deals they’re willing to make.

And they are trying a wider variety of new online models.

We7, which lets users choose between buying recordings and downloading a free version with a 10-second ad (which expires after a month),

is one of the start-ups trying to ride that evolution to a position of prominence.

Twenty years ago, Mr. Gabriel says, the idea of tying a recording to an ad would have felt sacrilegious.

“Today I have a different view: it’s a way to hold onto income for creators,” he says.

Royalties from downloads on We7 are paid to the record companies, which then pay a portion to the artists.

Though still in its test phase, the company, which is based in Britain, already has a licensing agreement with one of the majors, Sony Music Entertainment.

Mr. Gabriel say the interest from big labels is a welcome change.

“With OD2, it took us 18 months to get a major fully engaged,” he said.

Not all his Web efforts have succeeded.

In 2004, he and the musician Brian Eno proposed a cooperative, Mudda (for Magnificent Union of Digitally Downloading Artists), aimed at creating a Web site for artists to deal directly with listeners.

The idea found few takers.

“People were shy of upsetting the record companies,” he says.

If Mudda proved a failure, it still enhanced Mr. Gabriel’s reputation with other musicians.

“Peter approaches business the way he approaches his music: it’s not digital, it’s organic,” says Thomas Dolby,
a musician who has enjoyed his own business success as the co-designer of the Beatnik ring-tone synthesizer, a utility included in more than a billion Nokia mobile phones.

“I am impressed that he’s achieved so much in the business world.”

MR. GABRIEL, 58, was born in Cobham, a town in the English county of Surrey.

His father, now 96, worked for Rediffusion, the pioneering British commercial television company, and was an early proponent of on-demand programming.

But “his company never believed people would pay for television,” Mr. Gabriel says.

And while Peter inherited his father’s interest in exploring new technologies, he credits his maternal grandfather with his investment activities.

“My mother doesn’t like me to say this, but her father was a bit of a gambler,” he says.

“If you feel like you’re riding a wave that hasn’t hit before, that’s a great feeling.”

Friends and business associates say Mr. Gabriel has always been entranced by the lure of new ideas.

“In the early days, we’d go skiing together and Peter would have an idea every 30 seconds,” says the British entrepreneur Richard Branson, whose Virgin Group includes more than 200 companies.

“We’d be sitting on the lift with me scribbling madly in my notebook, trying to get everything down.

He’s worse than me.”

As a recording artist, Mr. Gabriel has always been hard to pigeonhole.

Beginning his recording career with Genesis in 1968 while attending Charterhouse, the English boarding school,

he and the band had theatrical, experimental twists and their albums were marked by lengthy and sometimes elaborate compositions.

Departing the band in 1975, he embarked on a solo career (sans such costumes) that has proved successful.

His compositions often draw on ethnic and popular music traditions, yet the recordings themselves reflect state-of-the-art technology.

Early in his music career, he showed signs of being keenly aware of the business of being a musician.

“He was the one that used to tout the tapes around and conduct the meetings with the agents, managers and record companies,” recalls Gail Colson, his former manager.

“He seemed to be able to see the future of music and technology at least a decade before anybody else.”

Ms. Colson saw that Mr. Gabriel’s interest in technology could pay dividends when, in 1982, he signed with Geffen Records and, in contravention of typical practice, insisted on paying for his videos and retaining ownership.

“At that time, no one knew how important videos and MTV were going to be,” she says.

But when a dizzyingly creative video that Mr. Gabriel produced for the hit song “Sledgehammer” in 1986 —

using stop-motion, collage, clay animation and other special effects — became a popular and ultimately imitated piece of work, it also proved quite valuable.

“He used to sit and tell me how he saw the future,” Ms. Colson says.

“We filmed a concert in high definition when there was hardly anywhere to show it in all its glory.

He experimented with 3-D and foresaw the time when the public would be able to take music and mix it the way they wanted to hear it.”

Michael Large, an astrophysicist by training and a former lighting and studio designer for the BBC, is one-third of Mr. Gabriel’s current business management team, which also includes his lawyer, Michael Thomas.

Mr. Large was hired to build a recording studio for Mr. Gabriel in 1984 and went to work for him full time two years later.

Mr. Large also helped Mr. Gabriel with two of the projects on which he flexed his entrepreneurial muscles:

Real World Records and Womad, the World of Music, Arts and Dance festival.

Womad, a pioneering Western showcase for world music begun in 1982, currently presents annual concerts and workshops in Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

Real World’s expanding catalog of 150 albums from around the world also includes Mr. Gabriel’s “Passion,” the soundtrack he created for the film “The Last Temptation of Christ.”

“The mission became to take the music and content from artists without access to the Western music industry machinery and set it on an equal footing with Peter’s own catalog,” Mr. Large says.
“It grew from that in terms of our own career into wanting to own as much of the industry as we could. It’s very important for Peter to have control over his own destiny.”

In 1995, Mr. Gabriel bought half of Solid State Logic, or SSL, a leading maker of high-end recording studio consoles. Mr. Large once worked for the company.

After that came OD2.

The success of OD2 led directly to Mr. Gabriel’s investment and involvement with Mr. Grimsdale in We7 and TheFilter.com.

So far they have invested $8.5 million in The Filter, which uses technology developed at OD2 to provide music, film and video recommendations based on user preferences.

“I don’t believe in the death of the major record companies,” Mr. Gabriel says.

“But as an artist, I’d love to see them reinvented as service companies.”

monday, 11th august 2008

Isaac Hayes dies at 65:

Singer-songwriter known for 'Shaft' theme, 'South Park':

Isaac Hayes, the pioneering singer, songwriter and musician whose relentless "Theme From Shaft" won Academy and Grammy awards, has been found dead at his home.

He was 65.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Debut aLbum


produced and mixed by roslan aziz

all songs written by mukhlis nor

& universal music malaysia

for more go to:

"original & great, ...proof that no matter in what language, great MUSIC, will always come through".

"aLi is Global...."

....leon bernstein..... "independent music journalist, new york, new york

Holy Cash Cow, Batman! Content Is Back

Warner Brothers Pictures

Time Warner is betting its future on hot-selling films like “The Dark Knight.”

As Jeff Bewkes whittles away at the Time Warner empire, it’s become clear that the company will have unraveled the two great megamergers that created its current shape.

Published: August 9, 2008

ON an early Saturday morning about three weeks ago, Barry M. Meyer pulled a sheet of paper from the fax machine in his home office, inhaled deeply and held it up to the light of a nearby window.

Time Warner’s new C.E.O., Jeff Bewkes, is pruning the media monolith, with a focus on content over distribution.

“Entourage” is a hit show for HBO, which itself is crucial to Time Warner’s quest to dominate certain media categories “with a clear brand strategy.”

The number on the fax was eye-popping: $66 million, plus change.

The opening-day box office receipts for the Batman film “The Dark Knight” had just set a record.

And for myriad reasons — including the late Heath Ledger’s delicious turn as the Joker — the blockbuster is still filling theaters on a pace that may land it just behind “Titanic” on the list of all-time, top-grossing films.

Mr. Meyer is the chairman of Warner Brothers, the Hollywood studio behind “The Dark Knight,” and the film has had its debut at a transformative moment for his studio’s parent, Time Warner.

In an effort to focus more sharply on “content creation” (or what nonsuits still like to call movies and television shows),
Jeffrey L. Bewkes,

who became chief executive of Time Warner in January, is whittling down the company’s many branches.

It’s a makeover that will unravel about two decades’ worth of mergers that created the company in its current form, putting its trophy studio,

Warner Brothers — as well as the ups and downs of moviemaking — more directly in Wall Street’s glare.

Time Warner, initially the amalgam of the old Warner studio and the Time Inc. magazine empire, grew to include Turner Broadcasting,

America Online, a cable company and such prized cable channels as HBO.

Some analysts have had a hard time embracing this goliath as it has grown into the world’s biggest media company.

So, it turns out, have some of its executives.

“It’s always been frustrating that as well as we do, it becomes a blip on the screen,” says Mr. Meyer of Warner’s contribution to Time Warner’s overall bottom line.

“We joke that we could have the greatest year in history, and if AOL misses its advertising target by one-tenth of a percentage point, that would be the headline.”

Up or down, Warner’s performance will stand out much more starkly in the years ahead because the days of Time Warner being all things to all media are gone.

For now, Mr. Bewkes is staking the company’s future on three big content providers: Warner Brothers, Turner Broadcasting (which includes TNT, TBS and CNN) and HBO.

To ramp things up on the entertainment front, he’s also been overseeing internal discussions about acquisitions in film and television —

including a possible takeover of NBC Universal, should its parent, General Electric, decide to sell, according to executives and bankers who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to disclose details of the discussions.

Elsewhere in the company, it’s all about downsizing.

Time Warner’s cable operation is being spun off, eviscerating the once-popular corporate notion peddled by business consultants and merger specialists that content and distribution should reside under one roof.

Mr. Bewkes is also looking to sell AOL or, more likely, find a partner like Yahoo or Microsoft to take it off his hands, leaving Time Warner with a small stake in the online company.

It is less clear how the Time Inc. unit, which publishes magazines like Time, People, In Style, Fortune and Sports Illustrated, meshes with Mr. Bewkes’s strategy.

According to Time Warner insiders, the company is likely to shrink the publishing unit to just a handful of the most profitable titles.

Some analysts predict that Time Warner might try to sell the publishing unit en masse, but only if market conditions improve.

What is clear is that Mr. Bewkes is tethering his fortunes to companies that are juggernauts in their respective industries and are sprawling, global brands.

They also represent the antithesis of the notion that content for the masses is passé, and that popular culture has devolved into narrow niches and user-generated fare like video clips of bulldogs riding skateboards.

Get ready then, says Mr. Bewkes, for global fireworks.

“Around the world, the consumption of entertainment products is growing rapidly,” he says.

“The question is how do you offer it, and how do you get paid for it?”

THE troika that Mr. Bewkes prizes faces distinct challenges.

HBO is under constant pressure to remain a cultural tastemaker by finding new fare to replace hits like “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City,”
while Turner Broadcasting’s cable stable is susceptible to the vagaries of advertising and viewers who are increasingly watching video online.

For its part, Warner has to produce movies and television shows at a time when it is harder —

though not impossible (see “The Dark Knight”) — to attract large audiences.
This is compounded by the fact that the industry’s engine of growth, DVD sales, has slowed to a near standstill.

(Warner executives are quick to point out that DVD sales haven’t fallen off the cliff, however, as some analysts had predicted.)

Mr. Bewkes describes Time Warner’s new raison d’ĂȘtre as “dominating niches with a clear brand strategy.”

“HBO today means ‘Entourage,’ ‘Big Love,’ ‘Flight of the Conchords’ and the coming ‘True Blood,’ ” he says.

“There are 10 subniches below the brand.

And inside Warner Brothers are a bunch of brands — Harry Potter, Batman, ‘Two and a Half Men’ and so forth.”

But if Time Warner’s long-languishing share price has been driven by the ups and downs — mainly downs — of AOL, is it any better to have the fickle nature of the world’s moviegoing populace drive the share price?

“The investor world that looks at studios as part of media companies will say that the studio business is supposed to be erratic,”

Mr. Bewkes says. “Not at our company. Not at Time Warner.”

Among the three units that Mr. Bewkes is betting the shop on, Warner is by far the biggest revenue generator.

For the 2007 fiscal year, Time Warner’s film division — including New Line Cinema, which this year was folded into Warner Brothers — generated $11.7 billion in revenue.

Turner and HBO, which Time Warner lumps together in its financial reports, generated $10.3 billion.

The profit picture is slightly different, because cable networks have much higher margins.

Last year, Warner Brothers earned about $1.2 billion in operating income, compared with about $3.4 billion for HBO and Turner combined.

When Time Warner reported second-quarter earnings on Wednesday, Warner and the cable networks were the fastest-growing units.

Overall revenue grew just 5 percent, but Warner was up 14 percent and the cable networks were up 9 percent.

AOL and Time Inc. posted declines.

For Mr. Bewkes and his team, the core of the strategy is a wager that the media pendulum will swing away from distribution and back toward content.

“The last number of years, all you have heard about is new and better ways to distribute content,” says Mr. Meyer,

sitting in his office on Warner’s lot in Burbank, Calif.

“At some point, I think distribution gets commoditized,” leaving, he says, content as the more valuable component.

He points at a television screen in his office.
“At the end of it all,” he says, “it’s just a blank screen.”

True, to a point.

But look at the music industry and ask yourself who has made more money from the digital revolution:

Apple from selling iPods, or the record labels from digital song sales?

Despite the proliferation of devices that threaten to make content a commodity —
and have already arguably done so with music — there are others besides Mr. Bewkes who see growing content opportunities on the horizon.

“While we are in a period of transition, there has never been a better time to be in the content business,” Philippe P. Dauman,

the chief executive of Viacom, said in a recent conference call with Wall Street analysts.

Among media companies, Viacom, which includes the Paramount film studio and MTV Networks, is the clearest parallel to what Time Warner is now becoming.

THE Warner lot in Burbank is a 110-acre mill of popular entertainment.

Now 85 years old, it has long had a place in the fabric of Americana.

A lengthy, soon-to-be-published coffee table book about the studio’s history,

“You Must Remember This: The Warner Brothers Story,” along with a PBS series, will open the annals for movie buffs.

The book’s author, Richard Schickel, is a movie critic who has also produced television documentaries on Warner directors.

Those projects spawned the book.

Warner’s story “is crucial to the history of American movies, even to American social and cultural history —

that is to me unbreakable,” Mr. Schickel writes in the book’s introduction.

Indeed, Warner has long been considered one of the most stable and durable of the major studios —

and largely devoid of Hollywood histrionics.

“These are honest and decent people who keep their word with both the business and creative communities,” Mr. Bewkes says.

While Warner is most closely associated with movies, the production of television shows for major broadcast networks and cable channels in some years makes up half the studio’s profits.

The bulk of Warner’s revenue, though, comes from movies.

On the television side, where the most lucrative franchise right now is the CBS show “Two and a Half Men,” revenue is about $4 billion, compared with close to $7 billion from motion pictures.

Although no one denies the shifting media landscape and the enormous degree to which new technologies and the Internet are disrupting it,
the revenue that Warner draws from distributing shows or movies on the Web is minuscule and is likely to remain tiny for some time.

Yet digital growth is all the rage on Wall Street.

“I probably spend three-quarters of my time talking about things that are about 10 percent of our business,” Mr. Meyer complains.

That’s partly because many analysts regard Warner’s traditional businesses as mature, and therefore hard to expand.

“We are facing a marketplace where consumer spending is relatively flat,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president of Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.

“Our challenge is in how we go about improving margins in this environment.”

He says Warner’s answer is to convert the DVD rental business, still a roughly $7.5-billion-a-year business for the entire industry, to video-on-demand, or V.O.D., services, which now amount to only about $1.2 billion annually.

But the margins are juicy and likely to become even more so.

Studios get about 20 cents on the dollar per DVD rental.

Their take on a V.O.D. sale is about 60 cents to 70 cents on the dollar.

“Even if you get modest growth, you can grow the margins, which help the most important line, which is the bottom line,” Mr. Tsujihara says.

Warner executives say demand for American entertainment is growing globally as well.

In television, consider this: in Germany five years ago, the only American series in prime time was the 1980s show “Quincy.”

Today, “Monk,” “CSI: Miami” and “House” all reside in German prime time.

Digital piracy is also forcing studios to make shows available sooner in international markets.

In Singapore, for example, Warner will offer “Gossip Girl” a day or two after it shows in the United States, compared with the usual lag of six months.

“Audiences are watching shows that are in the zeitgeist online as early as a day after the U.S. telecast on sites where people have posted them illegally,” said Jeffrey R. Schlesinger, head of international television.

International distribution is paying more these days: a few years ago, a typical show’s international revenue was about $500,000 an episode; today it is closer to $1 million.

And as a percentage of television revenue, international represents 20 percent, compared with 15 percent five years ago, according to Bruce Rosenblum, president of the Warner Brothers Television Group.

For 17 of the last 22 years, Warner has been the top seller of television shows to the four major broadcast networks, despite not owning a network itself.

In 1995, the government repealed rules that prevented networks from owning and producing their own television shows, and Warner has been in competition with networks’ production houses ever since.

“Our job is to be the second-favorite supplier of shows to each of the networks,” Mr. Rosenblum says.

“All of our competitors have the advantages of owning television stations.”

It is this dynamic, in part, that could drive Time Warner to buy NBC Universal. G.E. has consistently said it plans to retain its TV and movie unit, but many in the industry say they would not be surprised if, after the Olympics — now on NBC — G.E. explores alternatives.

A recent analysis published by Michael Nathanson, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, found that the share of independent programs (meaning not produced internally) on networks dropped to just 21 percent this year from 42 percent in 2006.

“Nonaligned third-party TV studios like Warner Brothers and Sony appear to have an increasingly harder time finding homes for their programs,” Mr. Nathanson wrote in his report.

That insight isn’t lost on Warner executives.

“In television, we have to be better than the other guys because the networks would prefer to buy from their own production companies,” Mr. Meyer says.

Although ratings for networks have declined, they are still the best place to break a new show.

“For the next number of years, access to a big network is irreplaceable,” he says.

FOR such a big, ambitious movie, “The Dark Knight” had a small-town theatrical birth.

Its world premiere was in Montpelier, Vt. — several days before a glitzier coming-out party on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The premiere’s site was chosen because of a friendship between Mr. Meyer and Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat.

It was a week before the movie was released more broadly, and Mr. Meyer and other executives were nervous about preventing a leak to file-sharing sites on the Internet that could undermine its theatrical debut and the studio’s profits.

People patrolled the aisles of the Capitol Theater in Montpelier, wearing night-vision goggles to detect hand-held camcorders.

(No one was nabbed.)

In fact, the antipiracy efforts before the release of “The Dark Knight” were so tough that Mr. Meyer himself couldn’t bring a DVD copy home to watch a rough cut.

When a copy of the film didn’t make it to the Web until 38 hours after its debut — Warner tracked a grainy camcorder copy to a theater in the Philippines — it was seen as a triumph.

Those 38 hours, as well as Warner’s tactic of discouraging downloaders by flooding file-sharing sites with fake copies of the film after pirated copies surfaced, probably saved the company millions in lost ticket sales.

“With a movie like this, where the audience is technologically savvy, the threat and potential cost of piracy is huge,” says Mr. Tsujihara,

who also oversees antipiracy efforts at the studio.

THOSE efforts underscore how important protecting intellectual property is to Mr. Bewkes’s overall strategy.

Because of the difficulty of aggregating an audience — consider the decline of broadcast television ratings in recent years — a big movie like “The Dark Knight” is all the more valuable.

“You just have to look at the box office numbers,” said Jeff Robinov, president of the Warner Brothers Pictures Group.

“It’s more challenging to grab that audience.

But when it works, like with Batman, it extends to all areas of the company.”

A few years ago, Mr. Bewkes, along with other media executives, attended a session at the Museum of Television and Radio in Los Angeles,
during which a group of computer hackers demonstrated how easy it was to find first-run movies on the Internet.

When the assemblage went to lunch, Mr. Bewkes stayed behind to chat with the hackers.

“They said they didn’t feel bad about piracy becaus

e of all the money studios make,” Mr. Bewkes recalls.

“I said,

‘Let me tell you what we make.’

And I said, ‘Here’s the percentage.’

They said, ‘We’ll pay for movies if you give it to us the right way.’ ”

In the future, the “right way” is likely to mean making movies available on every platform — theater, DVD, V.O.D. and on the Internet —

either at the same time or with a smaller window following a theatrical release.

But until technology forces Hollywood’s hand —

Mr. Bewkes suggested that it would take three to five more years before high-definition videos are delivered conveniently over the Internet — the industry will retain its grip on sequential windows of release.

“Warner Brothers is staunchly and adamantly supportive of preserving the theatrical window,” said Alan Horn, president and chief operating officer of Warner Brothers Entertainment,
mentioning a statistic he had read indicating that 17 percent of people who had seen “The Dark Knight” had gone back a second time.

“I wonder how many of those would have gone out and bought the DVD instead of seeing it again at the theater.”

The future, most agree, is seamless distribution of films to television using Internet technology.

But the big question facing Hollywood is, how far off is that future?

That transition will be, and is, wrenching because studio executives must walk a fine line between preserving the traditional business, which still amounts to a vast majority of revenue and profits, and experimenting with new ways of distribution.

That experimentation often puts studios at odds with longtime retail partners —

the biggest of which is Wal-Mart Stores — and theater owners.

Some are already doing it.

Sony recently announced that it would offer its Will Smith movie “Hancock” directly to consumers who have an Internet-enabled Sony Bravia television, at the same time that the film is released on DVD.

“Management’s biggest challenge is transitioning into this brave new world without trampling the massive revenue streams that have supported our businesses for so long,” Mr. Meyer says.

MR. BEWKES ultimately will be judged by how much of a boost he gives to Time Warner’s torpid stock price.

On the Monday after “The Dark Knight” opened and set a record, Time Warner stock closed down 51 cents, suggesting that Wall Street still hasn’t made up its mind.

On Friday, the shares closed at $15.60, down nearly 20 percent from their 52-week high of $19.42.

“So ‘Dark Knight’ comes out and it has a calculable earnings lift and the stock doesn’t move because the Street factors in something else,” Mr. Bewkes says.

In this case, he says, that something else is worries about the impact that Verizon’s television service, FiOS, might have on Time Warner Cable.

“It’s hard for investors to balance the pros and cons of dissimilar businesses,” Mr. Bewkes says, adding that once Time Warner’s cable unit is spun off, investors will have an easier time valuing the parent company.

And that, of course, brings Mr. Bewkes back to his central point: in a digital age, content becomes more valuable, not less, because it’s becoming cheaper to deliver.
“The production of media content is a rapidly growing category,” Mr. Bewkes says.

“Is that a good and promising thing for us?