Media this week: It’s resurrection time

August 17, 2007

Revivals, restarts and reboots took over the agenda this week in media as fallen stars and moguls plotted comebacks.

Tom Cruise and business partner Paula Wagner landed $500 million from Merrill Lynch to fund 15 to 18 films over the next five years to revive the storied United Artists brand.

UA, as film historians recall, was the joint venture founded by Hollywood legends Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith that was famously panned by one studio chief who described it as “The inmates are taking over the asylum.”

Perhaps Cruise will have better luck than the original team, whose project fell apart after feature film production expenses soared. Pulling it off could be the “Mission Impossible” star’s best riposte to Viacom’s Sumner Redstone who canned him in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.

Media/tech news this week:

Tom Cruise’s and Paula Wagner’s United Artists revival landed $500 million through Merrill Lynch. (Reuters)

Fired shock jock Don Imus could be back into the multimillions after settling his termination dispute over racial slurs with broadcaster CBS. Could he be headed to satellite radio? (Reuters)

And Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen began mulling more radical action at debt-strapped U.S. cable operator Charter Communications that could be the precursor to privatizing or selling off the company. (Time Warner Cable has expressed interest before.) (Reuters)

Even Yahoo had something to cheer about. A consumer satisfaction study from the University of Michigan of Internet users gave Yahoo the edge — finally — over Google. (Reuters)

Skype outage leaves millions of cheapskates like us incommunicado, possibly including owner eBay’s communications staff, which said last year it planned to wean itself off landlines. Time to read a book. (NY Times)

Sumner Redstone isn’t the only one big into games. MTV Networks earmarked well over $500 million to invest in developing and distributing games online in a move that will see it being weaved into the creative process at its inception. (Reuters)

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