Explaining Southern California's economy

This just in: Variety for sale, Corzine in trouble

Former MF Global CEO Jon Corzine Testifies To House Hearing On Company's Bankruptcy

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former chairman and CEO of MF Global and former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine testifies during a hearing before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee.

A couple of pieces of breaking business news, one from Hollywood and one from Wall Street. Reed Business Information just announced that it's going to sell Variety; and Jon Corzine — former head of Goldman Sachs, U.S. Senator, and Governor of New Jersey — may have broken securities laws as CEO of MF Global and perjured himself before Congress.

Not a lot to say about Variety, just get ready for all the inside jokes about Reed "ankling" the century-old trade. The Wrap wastes no time in, um... Celebrating?

[Variety] has been challenged by digital upstarts like TheWrap and the Deadline blog. It has also faced greater competition from long-time rival The Hollywood Reporter, which relaunched its website and folded its daily print editions, launching a glossy weekly in its stead.

The larger point is worth noting, of course: ad dollars are moving away from print to digital. However, the profits from digital aren't enough to make up the losses, so it's tougher for companies to maintain both print and digital editions — or hang onto the brands at all.

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Taylor Hackford versus the Internet pirates

64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards - Show

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for DGA

DGA President Taylor Hackford and host Kelsey Grammer speak onstage during the 64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland on January 28, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

Directors Guild of America President Taylor Hackford went on "The Patt Morrison Show" on Wednesday to offer withering opposition to the opponents of SOPA and PIPA, the two pieces of federal legislation that are intended to halt the scourge of online copyright piracy and, if you believe Hackford, to preserve the gainful employment of many thousands of entertainment industry workers who make far less money than he does ($50,000 a year, on average).

You certainly can't begrudge Hackford his defense of the "artists" against the Internet ruffians. He's made some fine films, including "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Ray" (we'll forgive him "Against All Odds" and the improbable ballet-tap Cold War mashup "White Nights"). He's on his second go-round as the DGA prez. That said, he could have done a better job of dealing with Patt's question during the segment about the Hollywood business model.

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Hollywood is shocked — Shocked! — that it lost SOPA battle

SOPA/PIPA protest, Wikipedia

Wikipedia blacked out its whole website to join the SOPA/PIPA protest

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Mozilla

Mozilla puts a note on its homepage.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, MoveOn.Org

Political website Moveon.org participates.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Minecraft

Minecraft's website sports a colorful protest page.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Imgur

Imgur.com also shuts down.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, PostSecret

Postsecret.com also joins the protest with an interactive webpage. The faint light illuminating the center of the screen follows your cursor, leaving other sections dark.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Reddit

Popular site Reddit.com also shut down in protest.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Wordpress

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Wired

Wired.com had a creative take on censoring, only blacking out certain words and photos.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Google

Google made changes to its homepage to support the SOPA/PIPA protest.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, BoingBoing

L.A.-based website Boing Boing is down for the day.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Craigslist

Craigslist updated its homepage to this message protesting SOPA/PIPA.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Destructoid

Destructoid.com

SOPA/PIPA Protest, failblog

Failblog.org

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Flickr

Flickr is letting users participate by darkening their uploaded photos.


At The Wrap, Sharon Waxman lays into Hollywood for not being able to convince Congress that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was a worthy undertaking:

The messaging industry never had control of the message.

The tech guys found a simple, shareable idea -- the Stop Online Piracy Act is Censorship -- made it viral, and made it stick.

Hollywood had Chris Dodd and a press release. Silicon Valley had Facebook.

That's pretty well put. But of course it doesn't really get to the root of the issue, which is that California's two leviathan businesses — entertainment and tech — are running away from each other way faster than they're running together. And when it comes to the race for future economic viability and the hearts and minds of consumers, only tech is running in the right direction. 

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Can Hollywood win young men back from video gaming?

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Getty Images

Activision’s video game, "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," shattered sales records and became the biggest release of any entertainment property ever in 2009, earning $310 million in 24 hours and solidifying video games as the entertainment medium of today.

At The Wrap, Sharon Waxman offers a list of remedies for what ails the movie business. One of them jumped out at me:

Find a way to connect the gaming obsession of what used to be the core moviegoing audiences – young males 13-24 – with the movie experience. Learn from that interactivity and use that to drive them to the multiplex. (This is a challenge for marketing geniuses. Hollywood has plenty of those.)

Sounds great, but this isn't a marketing problem — it's a medium problem. Apart from technical innovations in digital filmmaking, special effects, and 3-D, the movies are basically the same as they were 30, 40, 50 years ago. A bunch of people sit in a large darkened room and wait for huge moving image to be projected onto a screen. The seats are more comfortable and the sodas are vastly larger. But the medium is about as 20th century as could be. Mid-20th century.

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In SOPA debate, is Hollywood on the wrong side of history?

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Getty Images

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)

The debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act is heating up. The SOPA bill could come to a vote this week in the House, and a similar bill is under consideration in the Senate. This has kicked the so-called "Geek Lobby" into high gear. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, a venture capital firm in New York, has been vocal on his blog, going to far as to symbolically censor his post today as a call to action.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has suggested that the online encyclopedia could go on strike in protest. And California Republican congressman Darrell Issa has broken ranks and proposed his own alternative legislation, allying himself with Silicon Valley against Hollywood and the Big Content industry that supports the SOPA legislation.

The opposition has also created a video explainer on why the legislation is the worst thing that's ever been proposed. It's over-the-top and doesn't present the issue with anything resembling complete accuracy. But it is worth a watch (In the interest of reasonable objectivity, I'm not going to embed it, so follow the link if you're interested).

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