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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres









Rupert Murdoch is said to have planned the deal with his son James and other close advisers.Credit Rick Wilking/Reuters



"The media giant 21st Century Fox, the empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner Inc. but was rebuffed. The bold approach could put Time Warner in play and might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry, prompting a new spate of mega-mergers among the nation’s largest entertainment companies. Mr. Murdoch has built a global media juggernaut over nearly five decades spanning studios, television channels and newspapers, in part, by pursuing bold deals that were often rebuffed at first by the targets of his overtures, only to later acquiesce. Time Warner on Wednesday confirmed that it had rejected a cash and stock offer from 21st Century Fox, saying that it was not in the company’s best interests.  The Time Warner statement pointed to its own strategic plan, what it said was 'uncertainty' over the value of 21st Century Fox stock and regulatory risks as among the reasons for its rebuff. The company said that  21st Century Fox  had offered 1.531 of its Class A non-voting common shares and $32.42 in cash for every Time Warner share — or a total of  nearly $86.30, a premium of roughly 22 percent to Time Warner’s closing price on Tuesday. Earlier on Wednesday, 21st Century Fox also confirmed that it had made a formal offer to Time Warner last month.  'The Time Warner board of directors declined to pursue our proposal,' the statement said. “We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.' Together, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner would become a colossus with an array of television networks and channels like Fox, Fox News, FX, TNT and TBS; the premium subscription channel HBO, movie studios like 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and other prominent outlets. It would also combine Fox’s growing sports business with the broadcast rights that Time Warner owns for professional and college basketball and Major League Baseball, among other sports.The combined company would have total revenue of $65 billion." (NYT)






Brian Grazer Variety Imagine Entertainment Changes
Cody Pickens for Variety
 


"But there he is — the frenetic mega-producer — lounging in his sprawling backyard in Santa Monica, Calif., overlooking the Riviera Country Club, munching on a breakfast of turkey bacon and eggs over easy, drinking fresh-pressed carrot juice with a touch of ginger. Not surprisingly the zen moment quickly dissolves. 'Oh shit, can I text Mick Jagger back?' Grazer asks a reporter, suddenly bolting upright, his gold-and-white leather encased iPhone vibrating. The two are co-producing 'Get On Up,' the James Brown biopic that debuts Aug. 1. Jagger’s on tour in Europe, and they’ve missed a chance to talk. “He’s so polite and British,' Grazer confides. 'You have to be like, ‘How are you this morning?’ and take a beat, and then get on with it.' Grazer prides himself on deciphering what makes a person tick. He’s spent the past three decades peppering industry titans, entrepreneurs, rappers, scientists, Nobel laureates and just about anyone else he finds fascinating with a steady barrage of questions to quench his fanatical curiosity, and provide creative fodder for his entertainment endeavors. The producer is working on a book for Simon & Schuster with writer Charles Fishman on curiosity, and how it has impacted his life and work, which is tentatively scheduled to be published in April 2015. Grazer’s inquisitiveness, relentless drive and penchant for storytelling in films, TV shows, documentaries and the digital arena have made him one of Hollywood’s top producers. Those attributes also have led to a best picture Oscar for 'A Beautiful Mind'; three Emmys for, respectively, 'From the Earth to the Moon' and series 'Arrested Development' and '24'; and landed him the job of producing and retooling the 84th Oscars ceremony after Brett Ratner was booted and host Eddie Murphy walked. As composer Hans Zimmer, who has collaborated on projects with Grazer, puts it: “He’s trying to be an intelligent life form.' Grazer, who co-founded Imagine Entertainment with director Ron Howard 28 years ago, came up in the business at a time when hard-charging producers with great material and talent connections had carte blanche at the major studios. But those days of outsized clout and ultra-rich production deals for the likes of Grazer, Scott Rudin and Jerry Bruckheimer are over. A far less welcoming environment has forced them to recalibrate their business models and scale back amid dwindling DVD sales, a challenged theatrical market and demands from corporate studio owners who prefer franchisable movies that can sell as many lunchboxes and theme park admissions as movie tickets." (Variety)







"Earlier this year, when I wrote about the emerging political consciousness of Silicon Valley, I didn't mention Rand Paul at all. Partly, I omitted Paul's name because, despite the airtime given to a few prominent libertarians like Peter Thiel, the tech industry still remains an overwhelmingly liberal stronghold, with the vast preponderance of campaign donations and votes going to Democratic candidates. And partly, I just didn't think Paul's overture to tech companies would work — Paul's anti-surveillance shtick might appeal to privacy zealots, but Bay Area social progressives would reject his more extreme fiscal and foreign-policy views out of hand. I may turn out to be wrong. Today, Paul appears to be making a full-court press for the affections of Silicon Valley, and there are some signs that his efforts are paying off. At last week's Sun Valley conference, Paul had one-on-one meetings with Thiel and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The former isn't surprising. (Thiel basically bankrolled the elder Paul's 2012 presidential campaign.) But Zuckerberg is an unlikely Paul ally. He's clearly not a down-the-line Democrat — he held a fund-raiser for Chris Christie, and his meandering political organization, FWD.us, has backed conservative politicians — and, when asked about his affiliation, he has refused to identify with either major party, saying only, 'I'm pro-knowledge economy.' But he hasn't come out as a tea-party conservative, or anything like one.
Sean Parker, another Facebook-affiliated billionaire and politically active tech investor, has also met privately with Paul. Parker is undergoing his own political rebirth, shifting from backing mostly progressive causes and politicians to writing checks to centrist conservatives as well." (NYM)



















"I went down to Michael’s to lunch with Bonnie Strauss and Paula Stein of the Bachmann Strauss Dystonia & Parkinson Foundation. Bonnie who has lived with Dystonia for much of her adult life (she contracted it after her second pregnancy). When she told her father whom she was close to and respected, he advised her to seek solutions for herself, but for others also. That fatherly advice was well taken.Today there are four Bachmann Strauss Dystonia Centers at Beth Israel Mount Sinai here in New York, a the University of Alabama at Birmingham, at UC San Francisco, and at the University of Florida. In the past twenty-two years of the foundation’s existence they’ve raised about $25 million which has been re-distributed for research grants. You may have read about their 22nd annual fund-raising golf tournament a couple of weeks ago here on the NYSD. Most people have never heard of Dystonia, and it is very difficult to diagnose the early symptoms, but it affects people of all ages. And because it is a neurological condition, it can ruin people’s lives. It is an enormous burden for children to grow up with. Bonnie and her associates and contributors/supporters, are dealing with that.Bonnie and her foundation director Paula Stein make an interesting lunch as there is much to learn and understand. It is also especially interesting to me to hear what they are doing and why. Bonnie’s father was a successful textile manufacturer here in New York. The family lived in Rye. But her father was also an active philanthropist and inculcated his daughter with the values of his objective. When he advised her to do something about it for others, she was naturally predisposed to follow in his footsteps. Families. Last night, I had dinner at Sette Mezzo as a guest of Scott Stevenson, a young lawyer, the son of a friend of mine, whom I have known since he was a boy, and his fiancee Dr. Karen Duncan. Sette was busy: Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani was dining with his wife Judith. Wilbur and Hilary Geary Ross were dining with Harry and Gigi Benson – the Bensons are just back from Paris where the George V is running an exhibition of Harry’s photos of the Beatles at the very beginning of their spectacular career." (NYSD)






















"Yesterday morning at the Frank Campbell funeral home, they held a service for G. Nicholas (Nick) Simunek who died last Thursday, July 10th, after being briefly ill with cancer.Nick, an Englishman, born and bred in London, a member of the Coldstream Guards in his youth, was 76. He’d attended McGill University in Canada and then lived in this country for a good part of his adult life. Fifteen years or so ago, he married Broadway producer and Wall Street banking heiress Terry Allen Kramer. Nick was a hail-fellow-well-met kind of guy, a man with a warm, ebullient personality which he shared with whomever he came in contact. He and Terry shared a deep interest in theatrical and film producing, as well as the camaraderie of a wide variety of friends. They very often entertained at their fabulous Upper East Side duplex penthouse, at their spectacular oceanside villa in Palm Beach, and every summer in St. Tropez. In the last few years Nick has been active in film production. He was vice-chairman of two production companies – Helmdale and Gateway Films. He was also president of Remarkable Partners, a production company owned by Terry which has produced more than 40 plays and musicals on Broadway and in the UK. Catching up with the social calendar. Last Wednesday night at Arena, the event space next door to Bryant Park, Fred Anderson, the business partner of fashion designer Douglas Hannant, celebrated a special birthday in the company of scores (hundreds?) his mostest and closest friends. Arena is an ideal stage set for special parties with a very sophisticated lighting system, 5600 square feet of party space easily transformable for multi-media events.  Fred Anderson knows how to show his guests a good time, and so it was ..." (NYSD)

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