MediaFile

Disney turns to baseball to pitch guinea pig spy film

Walt Disney is turning to baseball to hype a 3-D movie about secret-agent guinea pigs.Walt Disney Pictures has signed a deal with Major League Baseball for undisclosed terms under which the entertainment giant will give away 1 million tickets to the movie “G-Force,” scheduled to open nationwide on July 24, if a grand slam home run is hit at the sport’s All-Star game on July 14.”G-Force” is a comedy adventure about a covert government program in which guinea pigs are trained to work in espionage. “Armed with the latest high-tech spy equipment, these highly trained guinea pigs discover the fate of the world is in their paws,” says Disney.Under the program, a grand slam at baseball’s mid-summer classic means a free ticket for the first million people to register at Disney.com between April 22 and July 14, as well as the more than 46,000 fans attending the game in St. Louis.If no grand slam is hit, no free tickets. In 79 previous MLB All-Star games, the only grand slam was hit in 1983. (Thank you, Fred Lynn).Most U.S. sports have been hurt by consumer and corporate spending cutbacks in the recession. Major League Baseball officials expect attendance to fall as much as 10 percent this season, but that still translates to more than 70 million people at the games. And companies are still drawn to the sport as recent marketing deals have shown.The last movie to use the MLB All-Star game to promote its debut was Disney’s “Angels in the Outfield” in 1994.”G-Force” also will be part of the All-Star voting, appearing on more than 20 million ballots distributed at the 30 MLB ballparks, more than 100 minor league parks, and through in-stadium messages and announcements.The Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie stars the voices of Sam Rockwell, Tracy Morgan, Penelope Cruz, Nicolas Cage, Jon Favreau and Steve Buscemi.Hey, it may be guinea pigs, but check out Bruckheimer’s track record. His credits include such hits as “Flashdance,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Top Gun” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” in theaters, as well as “CSI” and “The Amazing Race” on TV.Baseball is careful about how it ties into movies, however.You will see no “G-Force” logos on any bases. In 2004, baseball officials scrapped plans to promote the “Spider-Man 2″ movie on its bases after a major public outcry.

(Photo courtesy of Disney.go.com)

Now showing: The cable show

The big story in the media for the rest of the week is the annual National Cable Telecommunications Association Show, or “the cable show,” as its commonly called.

This year’s primary topic looks like it will be how the big, traditional operators in the business will adapt to an age when the Internet is giving people more options to watch shows, and not always in a way that feeds the bank.

Here is our own take on the show from the Reuters wire:

Both sets of companies will be brainstorming on how to cope with or benefit from disintermediation: consumers can now watch decent-quality video online whenever they want, and often for free.

New York Times brings IHT into the fold

It’s no secret that the International Herald Tribune is part of The New York Times Co, so why not flaunt it? Visitors to nytimes.com and iht.com saw evidence of this thinking Sunday (or Monday, depending on where you are).

When you visit the IHT website, you now see a Web link on your Internet browser that says this: http://global.nytimes.com/?iht. The flag at the top of the page now reads: “International Herald Tribune: The Global edition of The New York Times.” The layout of the website also has been adjusted to resemble that of nytimes.com’s homepage. If you visit nytimes.com, a banner across the top of the page invites you to “try the new global edition,” which, of course, is what iht.com used to be. If you’re a regular Reuters reader, you can’t say you’re too surprised, as we told you last June that this was coming.

We’re curious about whether bringing the IHT closer into the fold allows the Times to cut its costs in any significant way, and will update this blog entry once we get some clarity on that. The Times is dealing with falling advertising revenue and also has had to take other steps such as selling its interest in its headquarters building and borrowing money at a high interest rate from Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to help pay off debt. It also cut 100 jobs in its business operations, it said on Friday, and said it is cutting staff pay by 5 percent (and in the case of union workers in its newsroom, is asking them to agree to that pay cut to avoid news staff layoffs).

Seattle P-I prints last daily edition

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, after today, will be an online only paper, the latest casualty in the beleaguered newspaper business

The news is no better for papers in Tacoma, Boise and elsewhere

 

Keep an eye on:

    Walt Disney Co. has put the long-delayed expansion of its Hong Kong theme park on hold after failing to agree with the city’s government on a cash infusion (Reuters) U.S. retail sales of Apple Inc’s Mac computers fell 16 percent in February on a unit basis, even as low-cost netbooks helped Windows-based PCs sales rise 22 percent (Reuters)

My iPod shuffle knows 13 more languages than me

Picture this: An Apple 10-inch touchscreen netbook. And hold that image for at least a little longer.

Rumors have swirled this week that Apple could announce a touchscreen PC, but it instead unveiled early on Wednesday a revamped iPod shuffle. Here are the details from the press release, headlined “Apple Announces Incredible New iPod Shuffle”…

The third generation iPod shuffle is significantly smaller than a AA battery, holds up to 1,000 songs and is easier to use with all of the controls conveniently located on the earphone cord. With the press of a button, you can play, pause, adjust volume, switch playlists and hear the name of the song and artist. iPod shuffle features a gorgeous new aluminum design with a built-in stainless steel clip that makes it ultra-wearable… The third generation 4GB iPod shuffle is now shipping and comes in silver or black for a suggested price of $79

Can’t get enough of that (Kindle) reading thing

Just as we’re getting over the buzz and acclaim for the new Kindle e-reader, Amazon comes right back at us. This time, it is selling    e-books for the iPhone and iPod — that’s right — through a Kindle application that can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store.

Here’s how the Wall Street Journal describes it: “Amazon’s software application, which can be downloaded free of charge, allows iPhone and iPod Touch users to read books or periodicals purchased on the Web or through their dedicated Kindle device, usually for $9.99. Using a service that Amazon calls whispersync, the program keeps track of a readers’ latest page in any given book across both a Kindle and iPhone.”

Amazon has competition, of course, from Google as well as other e-book sellers. Still, give credit to Amazon for creating big hype for its Kindle (which is still a relatively small market, regardless of all the press it gets).

Redstone debt crunch could be easing, despite income loss

Here’s the latest on Sumner Redstone: On CBS’s earnings call he reiterated that negotiations with lenders regarding National Amusements’ debt situation were moving forward.

“We are making very good progress with our creditors, and as I have also said before, we have not, since our original sale, sold a single share of CBS or Viacom, and our lenders are not urging us to do so,” he said.

He also told investors that the CBS dividend cut — they slashed it by 82 percent to 5 cents — wouldn’t mean a thing as far as National Amusements’ debt talks go (How the dividend cut will impact Redstone himself is another matter. Last year, he took home more than $80 million in dividend payments).

One big, happy, musical family

Hey, Madonna meet Miley Cyrus. Jay-Z, these are the Eagles. You all could be one big happy family. Sort of like the Brady Bunch.  Or the Partridge family!

Only, however, if merger talks talks between Ticketmaster Entertainment and Live Nation result in a deal — and if that deal isn’t blocked by regulators worried about too few power players in the ticket  

Here’s what we reported: A source briefed on the matter told Reuters that talks are at an advanced stage, but could still fall apart over issues such as management control.

See you at the job bank

We were talking the other day about job cuts — more specifically about who would be next to feel the axe blade. We’d seen big cuts at Viacom, Omnicom, Warner Brothers and Time Inc, and, you know, it obviously didn’t take a genius to figure more were coming.

The next day: A memo from AOL Chief Executive Randy Falco announces that the Internet unit of Time Warner will cut 700 jobs, or about 10 percent of its workforce;  Reader’s Digest says it will cut 8 percent of its staff.

And now we come to Walt Disney Co, which is cutting about 5 percent of its workforce through a combination of 200 layoffs and a job freeze on another 200 positions.

from Fan Fare:

Hollywood ponders Jobs-lessness

(Writing and Reporting by Sue Zeidler)jobs

Apple Inc's Steve Jobs has commanded a leading role in Hollywood for years with his clout and influence in the digital entertainment arena, including Apple's position as a leading provider of downloads for music and video at its iTunes Web site. 

Jobs also sits on the board and is the largest individual shareholder of the Walt Disney Co., having sold his Pixar Animation Studios for stock in the venerable film and TV studio. Now, his exit from the limelight at Apple has left Hollywood abuzz.

The 53-year-old tech icon and pancreatic cancer survivor recently said he was stepping aside temporarily at Apple due to health problems "more complex" than previously thought, leaving studio execs to wonder if negotiating with Apple, famous for its tight control on pricing, could become easier. Or, has Hollywood lost a powerful visionary and advocate for change at a time when it needs to move fast in the shifting digital landscape?