EM.TV TO SELL 49.9 PCT STAKE IN JIM HENSON
24, 2002 From
Reuters: EM.TV, a German developer of children's programming, said on Tuesday it will
sell 49.9 percent of Jim Henson Co. to an investment group led by a former media
executive, helping it to pay down debt while retaining majority control of the renowned
Thanks to Bill & Mary Ann for passing this along!
MST3000 WHEN YOU NEED IT?
December 30, 2002 From the Jan 3 issue of Entertainment
Now I'm not gonna sit here and tell you this Sci Fi Channel premiere is a
good movie. The story (about a group of scientists who clone a dragon and
then watch it run amok) is weak, the acting is weaker, and the effects are
mediocre at best. On the plus side, you do get to watch Dean Cain (as chief
of security, above) get chased by a fire-breathing dragon, and who hasn't
begged to see that at some point in their lives? But wait, there's even
more unintentional fun to be had: Director Phillip Roth tries to get all
arty on us by using split-screen shots to show different angles of the same
scene, which would have been cool had the action actually matched up instead
of always showing the same actors standing in completely different
positions. It's like one big two-hour blooper reel. D+
Thanks to E B for passing this one along!
EM.TV TO SELL 49.9 PCT STAKE IN JIM HENSON
24, 2002 From
Reuters: EM.TV, a German developer of children's programming, said on Tuesday it will
sell 49.9 percent of Jim Henson Co. to an investment group led by a former media
executive, helping it to pay down debt while retaining majority control of the renowned
Valentine, the former chief executive of United Paramount Network, heads the group that
won the stake in Henson, the creator of Big Bird and Kermit the Frog. Europlay Capital
Advisors, a private equity shop that specializes in media and entertainment, provided
Terms of the
proposed transaction, which is expected to close in January 2003, were not disclosed.
who served a stint at Walt Disney Co.'s Touchstone TV unit overseeing the creation of
hit shows "Home Improvement" and "Ellen," expects to build the
Henson brand, which has suffered under EM.TV.
feel there is enormous potential for growth, not merely from Kermit and the Muppets, but
from the expansion of the Henson brand into all areas of family entertainment,"
Valentine said in a statement.
will run Henson's operations. His management team includes Mort Marcus, the former
chairman of Miramax Television and Video, a Disney subsidiary, and Nick Van Dyk, former
executive vice president of Artisan Entertainment.
$680 million for Jim Henson Co. in March 2000, purchasing it from the Henson family. It
began trying to sell it less than two years later.
Co. DIS.N was recently believed to be planning a $135 million bid for all of Henson,
people familiar with the situation said. But it was unclear whether that offer was
submitted, or whether EM.TV simply opted to sell a minority stake instead.
three other suitors had been interested in buying Jim Henson Co., sources said.
EM.TV had a 64 million euro ($64 million) loan coming due at year's end, but it
got an extension from its lenders over the weekend.
DISNEY TO BID FOR
19, 2002: Mickey Mouse
and Kermit the Frog could soon be new best friends.
Walt Disney Co. is preparing to offer about $135
million for Jim Henson (news)
Co., a bid that likely would position it to win the assets
of the renowned Muppet maker more than a decade after it
walked away from the chance, according to people familiar
with the situation.
Although Disney's bid would be a steep discount from
the $680 million German children's programming giant EM.TV
paid for Henson in March 2000, it is still far too rich a
price, people familiar with Henson's assets said. They put
the value at no more than $80 million.
Four other suitors also are considering bids for the
creators of such famed puppet characters as Miss Piggy and
Big Bird, but none is likely to pay as much as Burbank,
California-based Disney, sources say.
They said the other parties mulling bids are
London-based Entertainment Rights Plc ; privately held
Classic Media; billionaire investor Haim Saban; and Dean
Valentine, the former chief executive of United Paramount
"EM.TV is in parallel talks with several parties
and this means more than two," said an EM.TV
spokesman in Munich who declined to comment about specific
bidders. A Henson spokesman in New York also declined to
A Disney spokesman said that as a matter of policy the
company does not comment on speculation regarding
acquisitions, while a spokesman for Entertainment Rights,
which develops and licenses children's programming,
declined to comment. None of the other potential bidders
could be reached.
Disney shares fell almost 3 percent, or 49 cents, to
$16.04 on the New York Stock Exchange (news
sites) in Thursday afternoon trading.
MUPPETS, SPECIAL EFFECTS, PROGRAMMING
Henson's business includes the rights to its world
renowned Muppets characters, the Creature Shop that
creates special effects for movies, and about 650 hours of
Under EM.TV's ownership Henson divested its stake in
Crown Media Holdings Inc. for $100 million and sold the
Sesame Street Muppets characters to the Sesame Workshop
for $180 million.
Sesame Workshop still owes about $70 million on the
deal, which is to be paid over time, giving Henson a
steady cash flow stream, people familiar with that
agreement said. However, some of the licensing
arrangements at Henson are messy, the company's staff is
bloated and it needs an infusion of capital to restore the
brand to its former glory, sources said.
Critics say Disney pays too high a premium on its
acquisitions. While that idea can be debated, the company
is widely seen by analysts to have overpaid for Fox Family
Worldwide last year, on which it spent $5.2 billion,
including $2.2 billion of debt. Earlier this year, Disney
cut about half the work force at renamed ABC Family.
Disney, which already has some partnership arrangements
with Henson, was set to buy the company in 1990, but when
namesake Jim Henson died suddenly, it pulled out of the
deal. Henson's son, Brian, took over the empire founded in
EM.TV, which has been shopping Henson for more than a
year, had been looking to close a deal soon to cover a 64
million euro ($66 million) loan due at year's end.
The company could, however, get an extension from its
lenders, who are being apprised of the Henson auction, and
push the sale into the first quarter of 2003, sources
Privately owned Classic Media, which holds the rights
to children's characters including Casper the Friendly
Ghost, only wants to buy a half stake in Henson's
character licenses and programming, sources said.
Saban, who made his fortune selling his stake in Fox
Family to Disney, bid about $128 million for Henson with
Evercore Partners Inc. in October. His partner dropped
out, but Saban remains interested, these people said.
Valentine is seeking partners, they added, but his
financial backing remains unclear at this point.
TAKEN TAKES TOP CABLE HONORS
UPDATED From Multichannel News: The Sci Fi Channel said Thursday that the
third episode of "maxiseries" Taken averaged a 4.3 household rating
Wednesday night - up from Tuesday's 4.1 but down from Monday's 4.9 for the premiere,
December 4, 2002: From Media Week: Sci Fi Channel's premiere of the Steven Spielberg miniseries Taken
on Dec. 2 broke ratings records with a 4.9 household rating (3.9 million households).
The performance made Sci Fi the No. 1 cable network that night.
The first installment of Taken surpassed Sci Fi's production two years ago of Frank
Herbert's Dune, Part 1, by 28 percent. Taken scored a 3.1 among viewers 18-49 and a 4.0
with the adult 25-54 demographic. The Dec. 2 episode, the first of a 10-part series,
generated more than 6 million unique viewers.
"It is simply an incredible testament to everyone involved in this project, all
of whom lent support to what was an unparalleled creative risk," said Sci Fi
president Bonnie Hammer.
SCI FI WINS SECOND WEEK WITH "TAKEN"
December 18, 2002 FROM
MULTICHANNEL NEWS: For the second week in a row,
Sci Fi Channel's Taken miniseries propelled the network to a primetime ratings
win among all ad-supported networks during the week of Dec. 9 through 15.
Four of the last five episodes of the 10-part, Steven
Spielberg-produced vehicle finished among the highest-rated programs for the week,
helping Sci Fi to average an overall 2.5 primetime rating, besting ESPN’s and Turner
Network Television's 1.9 ratings, according to Turner Entertainment Research from
Nielsen Media Research data.
Overall, Taken averaged a 4.1 rating for its
two-week run, Sci Fi said.
Lifetime Television managed a fourth-place primetime
finish for the week with a 1.8 rating, while Nickelodeon, USA Network (tied with a 1.6),
Cartoon Network (1.5), TBS Superstation (1.3), Fox News Channel (1.1) and A&E
Network (1.0) rounded out the top 10.
Sci Fi also finished first among adults 18 through 49
and 25 through 54 in primetime. ESPN, on the strength of its top-rated Dec. 15 Arizona
Cardinals-St. Louis Rams National Football League telecast, finished first among adults
18 through 34.
Over a 24-hour basis, ESPN was tops among 18-through-34
viewers, while sister services TBS and TNT finished first among adults 18 through 49 and
25 through 54, respectively.
Nickelodeon once again had the highest total-day rating
for the week, averaging a 1.5, slightly better than Lifetime and TNT (tied at 1.1).
SCI FI DELAYS PREMIER OF TREMORS
December 16, 2002 FROM
MULTICHANNEL NEWSDAY: The premiere of Stargate SG-1's new companion show, Tremors: The
Series, has been delayed until March, Sci Fi Channel announced Monday. The series -- starring Michael
"Steven Keaton" Gross -- was originally scheduled to kick off in January along
with new episodes of SG-1.
blamed the delay on the show's special effects taking
longer than anticipated. Now, the show will premiere
alongside the season six finale of Stargate, which the
network also confirmed will run in March, as expected. Also
taking center-stage on Sci-fi that month is the
mini-series Children of Dune and the final episode of
to e b for passing this along!
Seagram's Owners Are Preparing Its Art Collection
December 12, 2002 FROM THE NY TIMES: Vivendi
, the troubled French entertainment conglomerate, has asked the three leading auction
houses for proposals to sell off the prized modern art collection that has long been the
hallmark of the Seagram Building on Park Avenue.
The collection, amassed over decades by the Bronfman
family, which sold Seagram to Vivendi two years ago, includes paintings by Miró, Rothko
and Larry Rivers, hundreds of photographs by Stieglitz, Steichen and other masters, and
scores of drawings by world-class sculptors. Most prominent is a 22-foot-high curtain
visible from Park Avenue that Picasso painted in 1919 for Diaghilev's ballet "Le
Tricorne," which has hung between the two rooms of the Four Seasons restaurant
since the landmark building was completed in 1958-59.
Anita Larsen, a spokeswoman for Vivendi, confirmed that
plans to sell the collection, which had been talked about since the company undertook a
drastic retrenchment earlier this year, were solidifying. "The company has defined
assets it no longer considers strategic in its portfolio," she said. "And the
art collection fits into that category along with planes and real estate." The art,
amassed over 30 years, has appreciated in value significantly, she added. It is
estimated at $15 million.
But the sale of the art only hints at how deep
Vivendi's break is with the Bronfmans and their efforts to burnish the image of
Joseph E. Seagram & Sons
through the development of the vast collection. Some of the works are on display in the
Four Seasons, and others are on the executive floors of the sleek headquarters, which
was designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson and is one of the great icons of
Vivendi is moving all of its offices from to cheaper
quarters on Third Avenue.
"This is part of a whole Greek tragedy,"
Phyllis Lambert, the daughter of Samuel Bronfman, the Seagram patriarch, said of the
unraveling of the family legacy. She was involved in the building's design and the
formation of the art collection. "I'm heartbroken," she said. "These
collections are really part of the heritage of New York."
Ms. Lambert isn't alone in that sentiment. Mr. Johnson
said he was horrified that anyone would think of selling the Seagram art collection,
especially the works like the Picasso that are on public view. "When Alfred Barr
found the Picasso for us it fit perfectly," he said, referring to the legendary
director of the Museum of Modern Art. "I consider it an integral part of the
architecture. It's also very delicate and could get damaged if it were moved."
Architects like Robert A. M. Stern, dean of the Yale
School of Architecture, had a strong reaction, too. "My heart is in my mouth I'm so
upset," Mr. Stern said. "These works are absolutely essential to the character
of the space. It would be like taking the ceiling off the Sistine Chapel. It would be a
and Christie's, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Vivendi had asked
them to submit proposals for a sale. As of now no decisions have been made whether to
hold one sale of the entire Seagram collection or to split the works up and put them in
Named a New York City landmark in October 1989, the
38-story Seagram Building at 52nd Street and Park Avenue was the most expensive
skyscraper of its day, costing $41 million. It was also the first glass-walled office
tower in Manhattan with a bronze exterior. A constructivist-inspired sculpture designed
by Richard Lippold that was commissioned to hang over the Four Seasons bar in its Grill
Room has been designated part of the landmark interior and cannot be sold, said Sherida
E. Paulsen, chairwoman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. But the art that is
removable cannot be protected.
During various times in the building's history,
sculptures by artists like Henry Moore, Jean Dubuffet and Roy Lichtenstein have
temporarily been installed there. Inside the entrance to the Four Seasons hang three Miró
rugs, each labeled property of the Seagram art collection.
Over the years, artworks by Frank Stella, James
Rosenquist and Jackson Pollock have hung in the restaurant, too. At the time the
building was being designed, Mark Rothko was asked to paint of series of works for the
upper dining rooms of the Four Seasons. Ms. Lambert says she remembers standing in the
Pool Room with the artist. "He suddenly realized this was to be art for a
well-to-do place," she said. "The problem was that he only wanted his art to
be in a destination like a museum, not where people eat." Over the course of two
years Rothko produced about 40 paintings consisting of three series, though only seven
were intended for the restaurant. After their completion, Rothko said he found the
restaurant setting inappropriate, and they never hung there. Several have ended up at
the Tate in London.
In addition to the art there are also some 300 drinking
vessels as well as various containers dating from the 16th century through the 19th,
collected between 1957 and 1961 at Ms. Lambert's direction by Olga Raggio, then the
assistant curator of Western European art at the Metropolitan Museum.
In the Seagram offices, photographs, including work by
Steichen, Stieglitz, Walker Evans and Garry Winogrand, line the walls. At last count its
photography holdings numbered around 700, and all of them are destined for the auction
block. Ms. Lambert helped put the collection together. "I wanted something for the
offices that people who were not involved in the art world could connect to," she
recalled. So she began buying a group of photographs that fell under the theme of
American urban life. "I hoped that they would help people look at cities in a
different way," she said.
But everyone agrees that the biggest loss to the
Seagram Building would be the Picasso curtain. John Richardson, the writer and the
Picasso biographer, called the mural important. "It was painted as a small panel in
the center of a huge cloth which Diaghilev cut out when he needed money," he said.
"Picasso finished it in three weeks." Using a studio next door to the Covent
Garden opera house in London, Picasso, clad in carpet slippers, laid out the canvas on
the floor and painted it with a brush attached to a broom handle and a toothbrush for
the more detailed work. "He wanted to evoke Goya's tapestries," Mr. Richardson
said, referring to the artist's subject matter, bull fighting.
"Losing it would be regrettable," Mr.
Richardson added. "It would be like losing the Maxfield Parrish in the bar of the
St. Regis hotel. Both are so much a part of New York."
VIACOM TO START A SCIFI CHANNEL?
Many thanks to Mike for passing this along.
December 10, 2002 FROM VARIETY: Viacom
Inc. chief operating officer Mel Karmazin is busy exploring the launch of a sci-fi cable
channel, hunting for bargain acquisitions, continuing to beef up CBS and pressuring
Washington to loosen station ownership regulations.
At a media conference Monday in Gotham, he also threatened to make
CBS a pay network down the line, if TiVo (news - web sites) really catches on and viewers zap
"We give you all this great content for free, and all we ask is
for you to watch our commercials. If the time comes when you don't watch our commercials, then
we will have to make our money some other way," he said.
Karmazin, who has butted heads with Viacom chairman Sumner Redstone
in the recent past, said there's "so much noise" about his future at the company
that he'd like closure "sooner rather than later."
Clarifying his position, Karmazin told hundreds of investors at the
Credit Suisse First Boston confab that he prefers not to be locked into a long-term contract.
He insisted an agreement with Viacom and Redstone doesn't hinge on compensation or title, but
on "whether in 2004 and beyond I can add more value here and have fun."
Karmazin's contract expires at the end of 2003. Negotiations started
in earnest this fall, and speculation on the outcome has been a favorite pastime on Wall
WON'T BID FOR VIVENDI
Karmazin said Viacom won't bid for Vivendi Universal, although he'd
love to add the Sci Fi Channel to Viacom's stable if someone else bought the French media
giant and wanted to unload the fast-growing cable network. Marvin Davis and a group of
financial partners have bid about $20 billion for Universal's U.S. entertainment business.
Since that's a long shot, Viacom is considering creating its own
sci-fi network, where it could repurpose all its "Star Trek" programming. Karmazin
said the concept of a gay network is still simmering.
He's not looking at the USA cable network, which he called too
"general-interest." He wanted Bravo but couldn't match the offer made by NBC --
which had a tax advantage in that $1.25 billion transaction since it already owned a chunk of
Bravo's parent, Cablevision. AMC, which Cablevision may put on the block, isn't growing fast
enough to meet Viacom's acquisition criteria.
"We generate a tremendous amount of cash flow. You can assume
that anything you can think of, we have thought about and sat down at the table."
LOW-COST, HIGH-PROFIT PIX
On the studio side, Karmazin said Paramount will continue to churn
out low-cost, high-profit pictures. "I love what we've done with 'Jackass' -- it's Mel's
quintessential movie," he joked.
"You'll never hear from us that we lowered numbers because of
what happened at the studio," he promised. (Disney restated earnings recently after
"Treasure Planet" tanked -- and Karmazin rarely misses a chance to a needle a
He's still crusading to pull CBS to the top. He said network chief
Les Moonves has done a fantastic job turning the broadcaster around, but still, "There's
a huge difference between NBC and CBS. So I believe there's a great opportunity ... for us to
gain market share."
Another battle is in D.C., where Karmazin is pushing regulators to
allow "triopolies" -- owning three TV stations in one market. The FCC (news - web
sites) only recently approved duopolies under certain conditions. If the rule is relaxed, he
said, Viacom would be more likely to swap stations with ABC or NBC than buy stations or
BID FOR JIM HENSON CO.
06, 2002 From The
Hollywood Reporter: Former UPN president and CEO Dean
Valentine has emerged as the latest suitor to field an offer for
the Jim Henson Co.
Valentine has eyed Kermit and Co. as the foundation for a
children's programming venture that he's considering launching
in partnership with Mort Marcus, formerly a top TV executive at
Buena Vista Television and Miramax. Valentine became familiar
with Henson this year after he was hired by investment advisory
firm Europlay Capital Advisors to help Henson's troubled German
parent company EM.TV evaluate its options for selling Henson.
It's now understood that Europlay could play a part in helping
Valentine acquire the company.
Valentine, who ended his four-year run at UPN in January, sees
the Henson assets as the basis for a start-up production venture
whose initial focus would be on direct-to-video releases.
Valentine's competition in the Henson bidding, which appears to
be getting close to the finish line after more than a year of
false starts, includes billionaire Haim Saban and a separate
group led by members of Henson's current management team.
Valentine, Marcus and Europlay declined comment
24, 2002 FROM IMDB NEWS:
Liberty Media mogul John Malone may
be looking to team up with Barry Diller to buy Vivendi
Universal's entertainment operations in the U.S. and with Rupert
Murdoch to buy Hughes Electronics' DirecTV unit and some AOL
assets, Business Week magazine reported today (Friday), citing
Martin Sass of investment management company MD Sass
New York Post said that, preliminary to a deal with Liberty,
Diller may buy DreamWorks for stock, so that the eventual
company would bring the dream team of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey
Katzenberg and David Geffen into the fold.
DreamWorks, the possible deal would give the company a film
library and access to much-needed capital. It would also provide
a handy exit strategy for the company's founders and billionaire
investor Paul Allen. Under the scenario being floated, VUE would
buy DreamWorks for stock that could later be cashed out in a
of Malone's interest in the French-owned entertainment companies
came just one day after billionaire Marvin Davis (who once hired
Diller to run 20th Century Fox when he owned the studio in the
1980s but later had a falling-out with him) confirmed that he
made a $15-billion cash offer for VU's entertainment assets and
would likely continue his discussions with VU Chairman Jean-René
Fourtou after the beginning of the year. Shares in Vivendi
Universal shot up $2.28 to $14, a 19 percent leap, on the news.
OF THE POPUP
22, 2002: It disappeared for a while, but it's back - the
popup from SciFi. Could it be that they're experiencing another
surge of email, snail-mail and phone calls urging them to renew
case you haven't seen the pop-up, read the text below.
Thank you for your tremendous efforts in support of Farscape. We
have received the many phone messages, e-mails, faxes, letters
and flowers that you have been sending. And they are
appreciated. (Unfortunately, we will have to return the check
for $60 that was sent to help pay for a new season.) Your
dedication and devotion to the series make us all proud to have
worked on such a beloved show.
We request that you direct all your e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org
so we can keep track of how much Farscape mail we receive. This
mailbox is checked throughout every business day by SCI FI staff
members. Also, SCIFI.COM staff members monitor the BBoards every
day, so messages posted there will be read. We request that you
refrain from sending your comments directly to individual
employees, either by e-mail or by phone.
If you'd like to call, you can leave a message on our Viewer
Line (212) 413-5679. Although many other numbers have been
posted, this is the one to use to ensure that your voice is
heard. If the mailbox is full, please try again later, as we
listen to the messages every few hours.
You can also read the F.A.Q on Farscape's cancellation at http://www.scfi.com/farscape/faq/.
SCI FI Channel
SEC INVESTIGATES VIVENDI
The U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission has launched a formal investigation of Vivendi Universal, the
Paris-based media conglomerate confirmed late Tuesday.
Earlier this month,
Vivendi acknowledged that the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York
had opened a preliminary criminal investigation in conjunction with the SEC. At that time, the
commission’s inquiry was informal.
Earlier this year,
the Paris prosecutor’s officer and the French equivalent to the SEC, the Commission des
Operations de Bourse (COB), launched their own criminal investigations into Vivendi in
connection with possible misleading information released by the company during the tenure of
embattled former chairman Jean Marie Messier.
Messier resigned in
July and was replaced by Jean-Rene Fourtou, a well-respected French executive and vice
chairman of the supervisory board of Franco-German drug giant Aventis Group.
In a press release
late Tuesday, Vivendi said it intends to cooperate fully with the SEC investigation.
TO SPIN OFF ENTERTAINMENT ASSETS
14, 2002 FROM THE NY
POST Vivendi, the company that owns the SciFi Channel, has
decided to spin off it's US entertainment assets. An initial
public offering is expected in the next four to six
Meanwhile, Barry Diller has
taken an expanded role in the company on an interim basis to
prepare for the spinoff, sources said. Vivendi has added the
music and games divisions to Vivendi Universal Entertainment,
which is overseen by Diller.
Jean-Rene Fourtou, who became
CEO in July, will focus on reducing the company's debt and other
The Los Angeles Times reported
yesterday that Diller had been elevated to co-CEO of the entire
company, but a Vivendi spokesperson said that's not the case.
The only change is that now music and games have been added to
The decision to go forward with
an IPO - hopefully in the first half of next year - suggests
that Fourtou is seeking to distance himself faster from the
entertainment assets than he previously indicated. In September,
Fourtou detailed plans for asset sales and - despite much
speculation to the contrary - said the company would keep the
entertainment businesses for perhaps two years.
The company does not plan to
make an official announcement about Diller's new role. A
spokesperson declined to comment on when, or if, the company
plans to spin off the entertainment business.
Diller's expanded role was
described by one source as "primarily a Wall Street
move" to buck up the company's credibility among investors
as it plans for the IPO. Diller is worshipped on Wall Street,
while Vivendi is slowly trying to restore some of its luster
after coming close to bankruptcy last summer.
All of the entertainment assets
- including film, music, theme parks, games and television -
have been placed under one roof, with all the division heads
reporting to Diller. Previously, the music and games divisions
had been separate and reported to Fourtou in Paris.
Under the current scenario
being discussed, Vivendi would keep roughly 40 percent of a
stand-alone Vivendi Universal Entertainment, Diller and the
various division heads would get equity stakes, and the rest
would be sold to the public.
Diller has been chairman of
Vivendi's entertainment division since Vivendi bought his USA
Networks last year for more than $10 billion, a price that many
observers say was steep. And Diller is set to cash in again once
the IPO happens.
In addition to a personal
equity stake that he would receive, his e-commerce company, USA
Interactive, holds 5.44 percent of Vivendi Universal
AD CAMPAIGN FOR "TAKEN"
November 10, 2002:
Media Kitchen is aiming for close encounters in an
unusual campaign for the Sci-Fi Channel's upcoming $40 million abduction miniseries, Taken.
The ad effort begins
next week and is set to hit its peak during Thanksgiving weekend. The New York media shop's
buy includes placing UFO-like images into packages of photos developed by Snapfish, a San
Francisco-based digital photo developer.
As part of the
estimated $25 million campaign, 700,000 photos that show a couple and what could be a UFO will
be inserted into the packages--which consumers may get at Snapfish stores or at other photo
shops that use Snapfish technology--during the next few weeks. The photos' reverse sides
feature Taken's logo and air dates.
The effort also
includes a traveling interactive exhibition on UFOs and a 45-second trailer that will run in
movie theaters starting Thanksgiving weekend. Besides Sci-Fi's on-air promotional spots, TV
commercials for Taken will run during programs like The Late Show With David Letterman (news
TV). Creative was done in-house.
fact and fiction in very subtle, interactive ways," said Media Kitchen chairman and CEO
Paul Woolmington of the effort.
Taken, produced by
Steven Spielberg (news)
and DreamWorks SKG, debuts on Dec. 2. It focuses on three families affected by alien
abductions, incorporating key events in American history
SCIFI RENEWS STARGATE
7, 2002 As has become typical for the SciFi channel, they first lied
about whether rumors were true, then issued a press release confirming them. (Read
The SCI FI Channel renewed its
original series Stargate SG-1 for a full seventh season, the network announced.
SCI FI ordered 22 new episodes from MGM. Richard Dean Anderson will stay in his role
as both the series' star and executive producer.
"Stargate fans are
everywhere," SCI FI president Bonnie Hammer said in a statement. "The
ratings prove it. We are delighted to renew SG-1 for a new season. Clearly
the show has done phenomenally well for SCI FI, both with original and acquired
episodes, and we look forward to another record-breaking year."
SCI FI began airing the series in
June, starting with its sixth season, and Stargate SG-1 broke a channel
record with its summer finale episode (2.0 rating, 1.6 million households). In
October, SCI FI began airing earlier Stargate SG-1 episodes as a Monday-night
block, which delivered the biggest average monthly 8-11 p.m. audience for the time
period in the network's history.
Production on the new season is
slated to begin in Vancouver, B.C., early next year, for a summer 2003 launch. The
remaining original sixth-season episodes will resume on SCI FI in January 2003.
MGM, which produces the SCI FI
Channel's original series Stargate
SG-1, issued a statement denying rumors that a decision has been made on
whether to renew the show for a seventh season.
"Regretfully, it was incorrectly stated at an event in the [United Kingdom]
that Stargate SG-1 was a firm go for a seventh season," Hank Cohen,
president of MGM Television Entertainment, said in a statement. "Both MGM and
SCI FI have been in discussions regarding such a possibility; however, discussions
are still ongoing."
Cohen added, "It is
unfortunate and a disservice to our loyal fans to prematurely make an announcement
that is not based on fact.We understand how important the future of this show is to
the millions of loyal viewers. When the time is appropriate MGM and SCI FI will
issue an announcement regarding the future of Stargate SG-1."
SCI FI is airing repeats of Stargate
SG-1 on Mondays, beginning at 7 p.m. ET/PT. New episodes of Stargate SG-1
will resume on SCI FI Fridays, starting Jan. 10, 2003
SCI FI TO AIR SHATNER'S
September 25, 2002:
stars a pre-"Star Trek" William Shatner and is the first (and last) film
ever shot in Esperanto, the "universal language" developed in 1887 by Dr.
L.L. Zamenhof. All Esperanto words are spelled as pronounced. All nouns end in -o,
all adjectives end in -a, and all verbs have only one form for each tense or mood.
film appears to be cursed. After its release in France in 1965, the art house film
experiment was lost for 30 years. In that span of time, the movie's cast and crew
experienced several murders, a suicide and a kidnapping.
by "The Outer Limits" creator Leslie Stevens, "Incubus" is set
on the mysterious island of Nomen Tuumm. Inhabited by succubi, female demons who
lure corrupt men to an untimely death, the island is thrown into turmoil when one of
the women falls for Shatner's noble character. The leader of the succubi, the
Incubus, is summoned to end the affair.
will make its world television debut on Sci Fi on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 1 a.m. ET,
immediately following "William Shatner's Full Moon Fright Night."
HENSON & YORAM
GROSS TOGETHER AGAIN
Jim Henson Company, Yoram Gross-EM.TV and the Seven Network announced a strategic alliance to
co-produce 65 half-hour segments of live-action pre-school series
Bambaloo's cast will have both human and Muppet-style amimal characters that
will "help children explore the world through story, song and games, while singing and
dancing to the latest Bambaloo hits."
Jim Henson Company will handle international distribution of the series and Yoram Gross-EM.TV
and the Seven Network will look after Australian and pan-Asian territories.
Gross is the company that produced the cartoon segments of Farscape's season three episode Revenging
VIVENDI LOOKING TO SELL SCI-FI ?
September 1, 2002: According to
the NY Times, Vivendi's CEO, Jean-René
Fourtou, would like to separate their entire American entertainment division from the rest of
Here's what the article by Suzanne Kapner had to say:
LONDON, Aug. 30 — When Jean-René Fourtou, the chief executive of
Vivendi Universal, meets with board members in a few weeks, he plans to outline a new strategy
that calls for separating the American entertainment division from the rest of the company, a
person close to the company said today.
Though no formal decision has been made and the details of such a move
might take months to work out, Mr. Fourtou is increasingly convinced that breaking off the
American entertainment business, including the Universal film studio and music company, USA
Networks and the Sci-Fi Channel, is the right way forward, this person said.
Options under consideration include selling these businesses piecemeal
and spinning them off to shareholders, people involved in the discussions said.
Any strategic changes would be subject to approval by Vivendi's board,
which is scheduled to meet on Sept. 25. A Vivendi spokeswoman in New York declined to comment
on the agenda for the board meeting or the company's future strategy.
Mr. Fourtou is scheduled to meet on Sept. 12 and 13 in New York and
Burbank, Calif., with senior American executives in the entertainment division, including Doug
Morris, the chairman of the Universal Music Group, and Barry Diller, who runs Vivendi
Universal Entertainment, a person briefed on the itinerary said.
Unraveling Vivendi's entertainment assets would be an acknowledgment
that Jean-Marie Messier, the former chief executive who was ousted in June, failed to build an
enduring global media player out of an old-fashioned water company. Vivendi amassed 19 billion
euros ($18.6 billion) in debt in the effort under Mr. Messier.
Since he succeeded Mr. Messier on July 3, Mr. Fourtou has been poring
over the company trying to forge a more focused strategy. Though he told shareholders in a
recent letter that Vivendi had "a number of scattered assets that are of little or even
no use to its core strategy," it has not been a foregone conclusion that he would decide
to sell off the American entertainment division.
For the rest of the story, go to the NY
Times Business News Section