Monday, November 23, 2009


Harpo Films sets sensual pilot at network
Oprah Winfrey has a surprising project in the works. Her Harpo Films has made a deal with HBO to team on a sexually charged hourlong series pilot about a woman who leaves her seemingly perfect marriage and children in Santa Monica for the underbelly of L.A., where she indulges her secret fantasies and desires.
Pilot is being written by Erin Cressida Wilson, best known for writing 2002 indie pic "Secretary," which starred James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal film in the story of a boss-secretary relationship that veers into S&M.
Winfrey and Harpo Films president Kate Forte will be executive producers along with Wilson.
The pilot is a high priority at the pay web. The idea was hatched by Forte, who pitched it to HBO prexy Sue Naegle right after Harpo made a deal to generate series and miniseries.
"It is unsentimental and pretty shocking, and there is something complicated and destructive driving her," Forte said. "It is literally a day at the pool, where she gets up, in sarong and flip-flops, and walks out of her life, leaving everyone behind so abruptly that her husband and kids initially think she's been kidnapped or murdered."
Harpo Films previously set at HBO "Ida Tarbell," a miniseries about the true-life muckraking journalist who helped expose the unfair practices of John D. Rockefeller and his Standard Oil monopoly.
On the film side, Harpo Films is producing for Focus Features a Sam Mendes-directed adaptation of the Joseph O'Neill novel "Netherland" and is partnered with Playtone for an adaptation of the David Wroblewski novel "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" at Universal.

source: Variety

Sunday, November 22, 2009

TiVo Teams with Major Advertiser To Show Commercials When Viewers Fast Forward Through Content

In a pioneering deal, TiVo has partnered with a major advertiser to show messages from the advertiser even when viewers fast forward, rewind, pause, or delete certain content, Advertising Age reports.
When viewers perform these functions with NFL games, message for Coors Light will appear on the screen.
According to the report, " 'It's true that sports are much less time-shifted than anything other than news,' said Todd Juenger, TiVo's VP-general manager for audience, research and measurement. 'But it's 20%, and that's not zero.' "
The report also notes, "The deal covers every NFL game through the Super Bowl, which means consumers could theoretically find themselves looking at Coors Light branding while rewinding for another look at an Anheuser-Busch spot. (A-B is the only brewer with commercial time during the Super Bowl broadcast, although Coors Light is the big game's official beer.)"


Mark Ndesandjo, President Barack Obama's half-brother, gestures as he speaks during an interview in China.

BEIJING (AP) — President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he met briefly with a half brother who lives in China and who recently wrote a semi-autobiographical novel about the abusive Kenyan father they share.
Obama, who spent three days in China during his first official tour of Asia, acknowledged the meeting in an interview with CNN. He offered no details. An aide said later that the meeting took place Monday night after Obama arrived in Beijing, the Chinese capital.
The White House had declined to say whether the president and Mark Ndesandjo would meet. And no White House official mentioned the visit until Obama did when asked about it.
"I don't know him well. I met him for the first time a couple of years ago," Obama told CNN. "He stopped by with his wife for about five minutes during the trip."

Describing the meeting as "overwhelming" and "intense," Ndesandjo told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he had long anticipated the chance to welcome his famous brother to China.

"I think he came directly off the plane, changed some clothes and then came down and saw us," Ndesandjo said. "And he just gave me a big hug. And it was so intense. I'm still over the moon on it. I am over the moon. And my wife. She is his biggest fan and I think she is still recovering."
In the CNN interview, Obama said he hadn't read his brother's book, "Nairobi to Shenzhen," which features a protagonist who is the son of a Jewish mother and an abusive father from Kenya.
Ndesandjo has revealed in previous interviews that his father, Barack Obama Sr., beat him and his mother. The president also wrote about his father, who abandoned him as a child, in his best-selling memoir.
"It's no secret that my father was a troubled person," Obama said. "Anybody who has read my first book, 'Dreams from My Father,' knows that, you know, he had an alcoholism problem, that he didn't treat his families very well. Obviously it's a sad part of my history and my background, but it's not something I spend a lot of time brooding over."
Ndesandjo said he bought tickets months ago to fly from the southern boomtown of Shenzhen, where he has lived since 2002, to Beijing, in hopes of reconnecting with his brother. The two last met in January when Ndesandjo attended Obama's inauguration as a family guest.
The three chatted on Monday, with Obama being introduced to Ndesandjo's wife, a native of Henan, China, whom he married a year ago, he said. He gave few details of what they discussed.
"All I can say is, we talked about family, and it was very powerful because when he came in through that door, and I saw him and I hugged him, and he hugged me and hugged my wife. It was like we were continuing a conversation that had started many years ago," he said.
The two men did not grow up together. Ndesandjo's mother, Ruth Nidesand, was Barack Obama Sr.'s third wife. Before arriving in Beijing on Monday, Obama had been in a townhall-style meeting with students in Shanghai, and joked that a family gathering at his house "looks like the United Nations."

The senior Obama married Ndesandjo's mother after divorcing the president's mother. They returned to Kenya to live, where Mark and his brother, David, were born and raised.
Obama Sr. died in an automobile accident in 1982 at age 46.
Ndesandjo lives near Hong Kong and earns a living as a marketing consultant. For most of that time, he has maintained a low profile, with few people knowing of his connection to the U.S. president.
© 2009 The Associated Press.


One of my favorite music executives Sean "Diddy" Combs celebrated his 40th Birthday Party on November 20th at the Plaza Hotel in New York with hundreds of his friends. Everyone was in the house from Martha Stewart, Bono, Lorne Michaels to Nelly, Slick Rick and Al Green. Sean knows who to party!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009


MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade (FSY) pleaded for years to join the Jordan Brand family, wanting to wear the shoe his idol made famous.

His persistence is being rewarded.

When Jordan Brand makes its long-awaited release of the Air Jordan 2010 in February to commemorate the popular line's 25th anniversary, Wade will debut the shoe. Hand-picked for the role by Michael Jordan himself, the Miami Heat guard called it "a huge honor."

"I was in awe, because I know what it means to not only be a part of Jordan Brand but really represent Michael on the court in the shoe he would wear," Wade told The Associated Press. "Very excited, to say the least."

The shoe will be launched nationwide Feb. 13 and will carry a retail price of $170. That coincides with All-Star weekend near Dallas and is four days before Jordan's 47th birthday. It's unknown if Wade will wear the shoe beforehand, say in Miami's marquee Christmas Day game at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks.

"Sometimes you have to pass the torch. ... He epitomizes what the brand represents," Jordan said Wednesday night, when the arrangement was formally announced. "Being a player from our home community of Chicago, he has won championships already, his work ethic ... those is are all things that I feel like represent the brand. I think we can build a great relationship."

Wade's game has often been compared to Jordan's, even though the Heat guard is two inches shorter than the six-time champion — something Jordan pointed out Wednesday, when he stood back-to-back with Wade.

"He thinks he can beat me; I know I can beat him," Jordan said, smiling. "The only way to find out is to put these shoes on and go out and play. He's wearing my shoe. I'm not wearing Dwyane Wade's shoe."

Jordan said that consumers have pushed him "to take the next Air Jordan beyond their wildest imagination."

This was beyond Wade's imagination, anyway.

He spent six years wearing Converse apparel, then made the switch to Jordan Brand in July. (Both are owned by Nike.) Details of his contract with Jordan Brand were not disclosed, although it was certain to at least match the remaining three years at $6 million annually left on his Converse deal.

Jordan Brand spokeswoman Terri Hines said Wade is the first pitchman for the Air Jordan other than Jordan himself.

It's the latest notch in Wade's business world: He also has strong deals with T-Mobile and Gatorade.

"One thing I understood coming over to the brand, it's a team," Wade said. "I'm fortunate enough to be able to be in a spot with guys like Chris Paul (FSY), Carmelo Anthony (FSY), Derek Jeter, all those guys. We all have a role to play. And I'm going to play the role that they signed me up for and hopefully I do the best I can."

The shoes displayed Wednesday night were are black and white with red trim and circular windows on both sides, with Jordan calling them "trendy," "stylish" and "high-performance."

This arrangement had been kept under wraps for months. Wade told only few people, including teammate Quentin Richardson (FSY), who like Wade is a Chicago native who grew up idolizing Jordan's play with the Bulls.

Richardson has worn the Jumpman line throughout his NBA career.

"I think it meant the world to him, truthfully," Richardson said. "Us being from Chicago, I don't think people understand. ... We adored M.J. We watched every move he made. I think for us guys, it made a big difference. And even before he came over to Jordan, Dwyane would wear it. He'd come over to my house and get stuff all the time."

Aligning himself even closer to Jordan is as big a perk as being able to wear the Air Jordans, Wade said.

"Before this, our relationship was kind of on the basis of seeing him and still being in awe of the person I grew up watching," Wade said. "Now I can e-mail, call him, all these lines of communication. So I think it's kind of cool. He responds back to me a lot quicker now than he used to."

Associated Press


Later this month, will launch its first scripted web show, "Buppies" starring Tatyana Ali, following the socialite daughter of a celebrity as she and her friends "navigate LA's young black power elite." The buzz surrounding the show solidifies the claim, reported by the Washington Post, that Black programming is thriving online.

Online shows, usually in the form of short webisodes, are created and executed by Black talent shut out by network TV these days.

Last year, NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous released a statement on the issue: "At a time when the country is excited about the election of the first African-American president in US history, it is unthinkable that minorities would be so grossly underrepresented on broadcast television."

The statement followed a NAACP study which found that since 2002, when minorities were cast in a record number of roles on TV (24% of total), there had been a steady decline in available opportunities. The Hollywood bureau of NAACP called this a "virtual whiteout."

Websites dedicated to Black programming, such as and Better Black Television, have popped up at a rapid rate over the past year. With brands like BET noting the trend and creating original programming to ride the wave, this DIY work ethic seems to be attracting attention.

"Why online as opposed to with the network?" says Denmark West, president of digital media at, "it's an opportunity to provide original content for the Web . . . and to see what kind of online audience we can attract."

"You can look at this as revolutionary," says Jonathan Moore, founder and CEO of Rowdy Orbit, which was launched in February. "It is giving people a voice and a platform to express themselves without judgment or red tape holding you down. Now they can go from idea to production to distribution."

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Obama administration is once again using iVillage to spread its message about healthcare reform.

Today, the women-aimed service and community site will hear directly from Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius via a White House produced video. Sebelius, a former Kansas governor, will answer questions submitted by users. Last week Michelle Obama released a similar healthcare-focused video on iVillage.

According to iVillage officials, Sebelius will focus on the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs, the insurance industry and various women’s health issues. Some of the questions specifically reference the healthcare reform legislation currently being debated in Washington.

Among the questions being addressed are: "Are there going to be measures built into the bill that prevents skyrocketing premiums for pre-existing conditions?" and "One of my concerns is how do you keep quality doctors if they are not paid well for their efforts?"

Nielsen Business Media

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Adidas drops sponsorship over Jordan's son

Marcus Jordan, son of basketball legend Michael Jordan, is causing some sponsorship drama at his school, the University of Central Florida. While Adidas is the main sponsor of his basketball team, and requires all coaches and players to wear their products, Jordan only wears Nike Air Jordan shoes, because "they hold special meaning to his family," ESPN reported.

Adidas reportedly dropped its sponsorship deal after Jordan wore the Nike shoes during a game on Wednesday.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


EXCLUSIVE: One of the biggest questions in the TV biz has been when, and even if, Oprah Winfrey would give up her daytime syndicated talk show to focus on OWN, her long delayed Oprah Winfrey Network in 70 million homes that was supposed to launch in place of the Discovery Health Channel as a joint venture between Winfrey and Discovery Communications. The industry has been betting that the daytime diva would extend The Oprah Winfrey Show for at least another year or two because of the huge cash license fees which stations have long paid her. But people around Oprah are telling me that won't happen. They say that Discovery Communications chief David Zaslav has demanded that Oprah "move it or lose it" -- move her talk show to OWN, or risk losing the Oprah Winfrey Network altogether. I've learned that in coming days Winfrey and Discovery will issue a press release announcing OWN's on-air launch for the start of 2011. And, in several weeks, Oprah will tell the public that she's ending her syndicated Chicago-based daytime talk show when her current deal runs out and moving it to OWN headquarters in Los Angeles probably as soon as mid-2011.

Hardest hit by the news will be CBS Television Distribution which syndicates the show, Also hit will be ABC's owned-and-operated stations which make up Oprah's core station group, and also Sony TV execs who'd been hoping Oprah would deliver any extension of her daytime talker into their hands based on the success they've had this season syndicating Dr Oz, Harpo's latest daytime talk show star). "Les Moonves, Bob Iger, and Sony will flip out," one of my insiders says about Oprah's news. "The only winner is David Zaslav."

*UPDATE: My news this morning caught CBS by surprise. The Eye was counting on a 1- or 2-year renewal of The Oprah Winfrey Show. "In all honesty, we have not heard she's made a decision yet whether to continue," an insider tells me. "We think we're still in the talking stages. To our minds, it's a non-decision." CBS had scheduled a face-to-face meeting a month ago with Oprah and her personal and professional posse at her Santa Barbara compound to discuss her plans. But one of the people in the close group of people around her passed away. So it was canceled, I've learned. CBS is quick to point out that, a few years back, Winfrey re-negotiated her distribution deal with CBS TV Distribution so it "gets a lesser fee now". The result is that, when Oprah stops her syndicated talk show and moves it to OWN, "It will be a hit for us, but not until 2012. And with the lower syndication fee, it's not as big a hit as it would have been," a CBS insider tells me. Besides, CBS has seen Oprah claim time and time again over the years that she's "retiring" from the syndicated show. But to take Oprah to a nosebleed cable channel even if it reaches into 70 million homes? "She has always respected the fact that the pulpit she has now gives her such a huge amount of influence." And CBS also plans to remind her that, thanks to the syndicated show, "she by far makes more money on TV than anybody else." Now let's see how persuasive Les Moonves and his people can be.*

I'm told that right now Oprah and her advisers are trying to figure out what to do with her mini-city in Chicago, and which personnel she can and will move out to LA in the next six months. Also Discovery will have to renegotiate her own deal. Even though it has yet to go on the air, OWN has experienced tremendous turmoil since it was announced, including the entrances and exits of many top female TV executives -- three in just the last 7 months. Combined with the unprecedented delays, that has come at a cost for Discovery. "It's so upside down because Discovery has lost millions of dollars since it was announced," a source tells me. "It was rumored 50/50 that Zaslav would throw in the towel and her network wouldn't launch. But Zaslav sees it as a loss leader."

Last week, Oprah called a confab in Los Angeles and met with everyone associated with OWN. She also personally heard programming pitches. Only very recently has she put in place her two current top lieutenants to run OWN (but for how long?): Christina Norman, who at the start of the year was named CEO after spending 17 years with Viacom Inc's MTV cable empire before stepping down as MTV president. And Lisa Erspamer who this week was named OWN's Chief Creative Officer and is a 15-year veteran of Harpo Productions where she served as co-executive producer of Oprah since 2006. But I hear that recently appointed OWN head of programming Jamila Hunter, NBC’s former SVP of alternative entertainment, is out looking for a job after just 3 months.

Leaving the extraordinary visibility she enjoyed through syndication for a nosebleed cable channel is a huge gamble for Oprah as a TV brand. There's the possibility that OWN could distribute her new talk show for syndication. But I hear no one is talking about that now. In the U.S., Oprah is viewed by an estimated 7 million people a day (though that audience has fallen by half over the past 10 years) and in 140 countries. It has been estimated that she currently earns about $275 million a year in showbiz income. Long the No. 1 rated daytime talk show, Oprah also made Winfrey into the richest African American woman worth $2.3B at last count, a worldwide media personality with a powerful media empire around her, a celebrated actress who doubled as a film and television producer, a force in both book and magazine publishing.
But there's also no question that Oprah is a much more controversial figure now than she's ever been before because of her wealth and fame and politics. "She's lost her authenticity. Like when she said, 'It's good to have your own private jet.' Or when she shut down the City of Chicago with this season's 'flash mob' for the opening show. Where's the relatability?" The word internally at ABC is that TV stations have been cringing at Oprah's past and present and continuing support for Barack Obama, from her appearance at his inauguration (see photo) to her visits to the White House, because it antagonizes half the viewing public who don't share her politics. Now Oprah will no longer be in their faces: instead she'll be isolated on cable. The biggest question now in the TV industry is whether it's "Good Luck!" or "Good Riddance!"

By Nikki Finke

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Comcast Finalizing Deal for NBCU Stake

Comcast, which reports its third-quarter earnings Wednesday, is in the homestretch in its negotiations for a deal with General Electric for a controlling 51 percent stake in NBC Universal.

If the process doesn't falter, an announcement is expected soon, but it's not likely this week as the two sides continue to iron out the complex agreement after due-diligence meetings and presentations by NBCU execs last week in New York.

One key hurdle is for GE and Vivendi to agree on a price for the latter's 20 percent stake in NBCU. The French firm hasn't shown its hand ahead of an annual window that starts Nov. 15 and allows it to decide to sell its stake, a prerequisite to a Comcast deal.

But those two have been in continuing talks, and an agreement could be reached even before the window opens. Vivendi is in no rush, though; its annual sales option runs through Dec. 10.

Analysts have pushed Vivendi to strike a deal.

"We would see a sale of NBCU as a positive move in crystallizing value ($4.4-5.9 billion) and helping to reduce Vivendi's conglomerate structure," UBS analyst Polo Tang said Monday. "Importantly, in our opinion, it would also help ease balance-sheet concerns given Vivendi's M&A ambitions" in telecom firms in emerging markets.

The NBCU deal remains Comcast's to lose despite recurring chatter about possible counterbids. The Wall Street Journal, for example, reported that GE also has begun preliminary talks about a potential alternative deal with Journal owner News Corp., but experts see this as a negotiating ploy.

"We think it's an attractive set of assets, and we're taking a look at it," a News Corp. spokeswoman said Monday.

Comcast COO Steve Burke, chairman and CEO Brian Roberts' right-hand man, is expected to be a driving force behind the firm's content ambitions. Jeff Shell, who runs the company's programming businesses, also is seen as playing a key role.

Sources have said that NBCU president and CEO Jeff Zucker would remain in his post, but Comcast hasn't made anything official.

source: ad age

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Twitter Lists Mean for PR

Twitter's new Lists functionality rolled out last week to a certain amount of fanfare in the blogosphere, and in media circles. It's designed to help users track groups of people, topics or trends without further clogging up one's main feed. Some might see this as a virtual school lunchroom, where the cool kids get even better tables and nerds become literally listless. Social media consultant and immensely popular blogger Chris Brogan is concerned about the exclusionary aspects of stuffing people into little boxes. He has a point that drier things like travel, airline and workaday newsfeeds work well in Lists when you need a quick look at a niche universe.

Adding to Brogan's take, Twitter in my opinion was a messy but fun replacement for RSS for some users. Now Twitter Lists can replace them altogether if one chooses. For example, with a few clicks you can create a List of news sources covering China, or a List to track the best deals on electronics with nary a complaint from the personally branded.

Poynter believes Lists could change the way Twitter is used altogether, by adding new elements of customization, discovery and curation (the buzzword for the fall), making Lists "something for every journalist, editor and news organization to keep a keen eye on."

What about for the public relations business?

Our quick take is that Lists will create a new layer of lobbying for clients and PR people themselves as they ask to be included on the more prominent ones. Clever PR people will also use the function to track their clients and competitors, and to keep an eye on issues bubbling up that may require a response. More paranoid users and aspiring astroturfers now only need one account as you also have the option to create closed lists.

Initially I felt that excessive segmenting and microtargeting would take all the fun and thrill of discovery out of Twitter. It is key to remember however, you can follow feeds on your Lists without following their feeds directly. A person with a head for curation can actually get a lot more out of Twitter by cleaning up the static.

There is already a guide to finding interesting lists

By Jason Chupick

Hasbro travels a popular road to mark Candy Land's 60th birthday

Client: Hasbro (Pawtucket, RI)
PR agency: Coyne PR (Parsippany, NJ)
Campaign: 60th Anniversary of Candy Land
Budget: Approximately $220,000

To celebrate Candy Land's 60th anniversary, Hasbro turned San Francisco's famed Lombard Street into a huge version of the board game. The effort featured Candy Land characters and players, as well as visitors from local UCSF Children's Hospital.

Working with Coyne PR,* Hasbro's research found that the rainbow-colored path was the best-known piece of the game.
"We wanted to bring the brand personality alive for multiple audiences and generations," says Pat Riso, VP of global communications.

The union with the hospital comes from Candy Land's heritage, she adds, as it was created by Eleanor Abbott, who suffered from polio, to give others suffering a way to escape.

Hasbro and Coyne reached out to Bay Area print, radio, online, and broadcast outlets. At the event, the firm "identified the key moments that would make good visuals for the media," says Brian Murphy, Coyne associate VP and lead on the campaign. "We had some traditional plays first, which helped feed the fire from a social media standpoint."
Photos and news of the event spread online through Twitter, Facebook, and Digg.

Media coverage included local, regional, and national outlets. In addition, Riso adds, "Yahoo not only marked it as one of the most popular stories, it was also the most e-mailed photograph of the week."

Riso says this event brings up possibilities for its other games, including Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit. "As the Candy Land brand expands globally," she adds, "this idea doesn't just have to take place in the US."