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Headline News Pentamedia Acquires Media Dreams

Continuing its rapid growth, Chennai-based Pentamedia Graphics has acquired three additional India-based companies, including entertainment production house Media Dreams. Pentamedia purchased all three firms in a share swapping deal. Media Dreams produces television, theatre and Internet content and has recently expanded into post-production. The company boasts deals with Indian sci-fi writer Sujatha Rangaraja. In addition, Pentamedia has bought sports entertainment company, Krish Srikkanth Sports & Entertainment Pvt.

Headline News Stan Lee Media Probed Over Stock Trades

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched an informal inquiry into stock trades at Stan Lee Media, which may have attributed to the company's stock plunging from $12 to $0.12. The SEC is looking into large trades made by executives and investment partners. In addition, the government agency is investigating possible misuse of company funds by former employees. The alleged misuse was uncovered during a recent internal investigation. Stan Lee Media has terminated executive VP operations Stephen Gordon and its consulting pact with Paraversal Inc.

Headline News Incanta and AtomFilms Announce Distribution Agreement

Incanta, a managed content solutions firm for broadband service providers (BSPs), has announced a new distribution deal with AtomFilms. Incanta's Cinema and Arts channel will feature AtomFilms' short films and original animation. Incanta's content services for BSPs include an award-winning personalized radio service as well as customized video offerings that range in subject from sports to film, from chat to music video. Incanta's other content partners include Quokka Sports, Vidnet, Planet Jam, AdventureTV and Academy Entertainment.

Headline News Saban Forces His Way Out Of Fox Family

Children's TV executive Haim Saban has exercised his option for News Corp.'s Fox Broadcasting to buy his 49.5% in the Fox Family Worldwide Inc. cable network. As part of the original agreement, each side will enlist an investment bank to determine the fair market value of the company. If the two numbers come within 10% of each other, the final purchase price will be the average of the two numbers. If they differ by more than 10% than a third bank will be brought in to mediate the settlement. Each parties' bank must determine Fox Family Worldwide's value by January 31, 2001.

Headline News Z.com Sues Chris Rock Over Non-Delivery Of Content

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 21, 2000 at 12:00am

Late Tuesday, December 19, 2000, Z.com filed suit against Chris Rock for repayment of fees in excess of US$1 million for content not delivered. In Z.com's filing, they claim that Rock and his Chris Rock Enterprises entered into a preliminary programming agreement on April 6, 2000 with a finalization deadline of June 30. Z.com then paid Rock $1.075 million on April 10, 2000 as promised. However, Rock quickly counter-sued Z.com and incubator idealab! for intentional misrepresentation, negligence, breach of a written contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.

Headline News EM.TV Shares Rocket Upward

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, December 20, 2000 at 12:00am

EM.TV's stock price made a hefty jump upward on Monday, December 18, 2000 after announcing a creditors' banks' backing. Over the weekend the kids production and merchandising firm had positive meetings with 40 creditor banks to help fund a company overhaul as part of media house KirschGroup's purchase of a non-controlling share in EM.TV. The company's stock jumped up 18% to finish out Monday at 6.73 euros (US$6). Since February, EM.TV shares have lost 90% of their value after the company reported accounting errors in its acquisition of the Jim Henson Co.

Headline News Cinar Announces Canadian Tax Settlements

By Rick DeMott | Wednesday, December 20, 2000 at 12:00am

Cinar Corp. announced that it has finally come to settlements with Canadian federal and provincial tax officials over the repayment of improperly obtained tax credits. Scandal hit the Montreal-based company in the fall of 1999 when fraud allegations were made in the House of Commons claiming that Cinar was placing false Canadian names on scripts written by U.S. writers to gain tax credits. Subsequently, the firm's co-founders Micheline Charest and Ronald Weinberg and CFO Hasanan Panju were fired.

Headline News Animation Stock Ticker For Tuesday, December 19, 2000

AWN's stock ticker features the most prominent publicly traded companies in the world of animation. AWN, Inc. makes available certain financial information from third party information providers. AWN does not give advice in any such fields, and has not reviewed, and in no way endorses the validity of such data. This information is provided solely as a means to keep our readers informed of the market performance and trends of certain companies. AWN strongly suggests that one seek advice from a competent professional regarding any investment or financial issues.

Headline News Medusa Etches Deal In Stone To Buy Lanterna Magica

Rome production and distribution company Medusa Films has acquired financially strapped Italian toon house Lanterna Magica. The 20-year-old animation factory will remain under the watchful eye of executive producer Maria Fares and stay in its home in northern Turin. As part of the deal, Lanterna will produce an animated feature each year and an animated TV series for Medusa sister firm Mediaset every two years. Medusa CEO Federico di Chio will serve as president with Lanterna's Guido Manuli and Maurizio Forrestieri remaining in their roles as artistic and creative directors respectively.

Headline News AntEye Closes Its Eyes

AntEye has closed its eyes and its doors. The Los Angeles Netcaster shut down on Friday, December 15, 2000 and laid off its 20 employees. The company decided to finally close up shop after finding a buyer was unsuccessful. Matti Leshem, company CEO, told the DAILY VARIETY, "The party is over. We're shutting for the same reason that everyone else has; the market can't support this kind of company.

Headline News iFilm Lays Off 10% Of Its Staff

iFilm has laid off 15 employees, or 10% of its staff. The move was made to release some pressure on the Netcaster's capital. The cuts were across many divisions and come on the heels of the firm's launching of three new projects the iFilm portal, the relaunch of iFilmpro and an online testing business. In the past year, iFilm has purchased film industry business-to-business services such as Film Finders, the Hollywood Creative Directory, Lone Eagle Publishing and TV Tracker. However, rumors have flourished that the company is backing away from a b2b model and refocusing on content.

Headline News Stan Lee Media Stops Operations

On Friday, December 15, 2000, Stan Lee Media (SLM) stopped operations and laid off "substantially all of its [140 person] staff." The company will keep an executive core to look into possible new directions for the company including selling off the firm's assets. The move comes as a result of the Netcaster's plummeting stock and inability to raise a new round of financing. Early in December, SLM announced it had obtained US$2.2 million as a bridge loan until it could finalize a $40 million financing round.

Headline News TV Loonland Acquires Korean Distrib Firm Saerom

Berlin children's producer TV Loonland has bought a 65% stake in Seoul distribution firm Saerom Entertainment. Saerom is the third-largest video and DVD distributor in Korea and controls a leading Internet film portal, which it has been leveraging as a new means of distribution. TV Loonland will pay US$9.5 million for its share of the company, which foresees sales of $14 million and profits of $2 million for the year 2000. The move is yet another step in TV Loonland's global expansion, giving the company a strong distribution and Internet foothold in Asia.

Headline News FTC Says You've Got A Time Warner/AOL Merger!

On Thursday, December 14, 2000, the Federal Trade Commission approved America Online's US$111 billion acquisition of Time Warner. As part of the approval, AOL must open its high-speed Internet access to competitors. At least three Internet service providers (ISPs) must be offered when AOL/Time Warner enters a new market. "Our concern was, and has always been, about access," said FTC chairman Robert Pitofsky.

Headline News Shockwave.com and AtomFilms To Merge

Shockwave.com and AtomFilms announced they have signed a definitive merger agreement. Under the terms of the agreement, shockwave.com will acquire AtomFilms in a stock-for-stock deal giving Shockwave shareholders 70% of the combined company. In addition, Macromedia, parent of shockwave.com, will now own less than 50% of the new firm. The combined company will announce its new name at the closing of the deal.

Headline News EM.TV Investigated For Insider Trading

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 14, 2000 at 12:00am

The Munich state prosecutor, Manfred Wick, has begun a probe into allegations that EM.TV, the German family production and merchandising company, has participated in insider trading and other stock market violations. The investigation will focus on EM.TV CEO Thomas Haffa and his brother, Florian, who recently resigned from company's board. This move comes on the heels of investors filing suit last week against the company after EM.TV cut its year-end profit forecast by 90%.

Headline News WireBreak Jumps Net For TV

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 14, 2000 at 12:00am

WireBreak Entertainment has restructured its business model to fight going under. As a result, the company has laid off most of its staff except for a few key executives. Started in October 1988, the company quickly moved from being a Web destination site to an online producer and syndicator. Now the firm is moving away from Web content and focusing on interactive television, television and film. Current projects will be outsourced to other production houses.

Headline News Creative Planet Lays Off 72

By Rick DeMott | Thursday, December 14, 2000 at 12:00am

Creative Planet Inc., a business-to-business solutions firm for the film and TV production industries and parent company of Animation World Network, laid off 72 employees, or 20% of the work staff, on Wednesday, December 13, 2000. The move comes on the heels of the company securing US$30 million in financing from United News & Media PLC. "These reductions are unfortunate," said Creative Planet chairman and CEO Alan DeBevoise. "But we have acquired a number of companies, and as you're scaling and integrating and market conditions change, we have had to streamline the organization.

Headline News Animation Stock Ticker For Tuesday, December 12, 2000

AWN's stock ticker features the most prominent publicly traded companies in the world of animation. AWN, Inc. makes available certain financial information from third party information providers. AWN does not give advice in any such fields, and has not reviewed, and in no way endorses the validity of such data. This information is provided solely as a means to keep our readers informed of the market performance and trends of certain companies. AWN strongly suggests that one seek advice from a competent professional regarding any investment or financial issues.

Headline News Turkish Network Shut Down After Airing Pokemon

The Turkish government has taken the next step in its fight against the cartoon POKEMON. Broadcasting officials ordered the privately owned ATV network to shut down for a day as punishment for airing an episode of POKEMON. The move came under a law that bars "broadcasting that could affect children's and teenagers' physical, emotional and ethical development negatively." This action comes on the heels of the Turkish government's call to ban the series after two children hurt themselves imitating POKEMON characters [AWN 11/29/00].

Headline News EM.TV Investors Take Company To Court

Munich officials are looking into several lawsuits that have been brought against kid media and merchandising company EM.TV. One case was filed by the German shareholders association DSW, which claims that EM.TV executives repeatedly held back information about their financial problems. EM.TV's financial concerns started when they first announced the cutting of revenues due to accounting errors in the acquisition of the Jim Henson Co. and Formula One racing.

Headline News Wild Brain Taps AniManagement To Rep

Wild Brain has picked AniManagement to represent the animation house in the U.S. The agency will work in Wild Brain's interest to find syndication deals for the company's film, television and Internet content. AniManagement's Aaron Berger and Rebecca Poole will handle Wild Brain's film and TV productions with James Strader handling the Internet content. Poole will also work with Wild Brain to increase their production slate.

Headline News DreamWorks & Lucasfilm Make Forbes' 500

DreamWorks and Lucasfilm have secured places on Forbes 500 Private Companies list for 2000. Each year Forbes magazine ranks the top privately held companies in the U.S. based on revenue and number of employees. DreamWorks placed #174 and Lucasfilm was #219. If the companies on the list do not provide revenue data to the magazine they arrive at estimates based on analysts, trade organizations and competitor recommendations. For the year 2000, Forbes estimated that DreamWorks made approximately US$118 million in profits and $1.2 billion in revenue.

Headline News Microsoft To Acquire Gaming Company Digital Anvil

Microsoft Corp. announced it has reached a preliminary agreement to acquire Digital

Anvil Inc., a Austin, Texas games developer. Under the terms of the

deal, Microsoft would gain the rights to Digital Anvil titles, such

as FREELANCER, the highly anticipated space-combat simulation game.

This deal gives Microsoft more leverage in game development for its

forthcoming Xbox console. Microsoft and Digital Anvil have worked

together on PC games since 1997. Microsoft has recently acquired such

Headline News Fox Loses Interest in Icebox's Zombie College

It appears that Iceboxs announcement of a deal with Fox to take on their Webtoon ZOMBIE COLLEGE was premature and ill-timed. As AWN reported on November 29, Icebox announced that it had signed a deal with Fox to have FUTURAMA writer-producer Eric Kaplan draft a pilot script for a live-action rendition of the Webtoon ZOMBIE COLLEGE. If the pilot had been picked up the Internet company would have been able to claim executive producing fees. However, Fox is now reported to be miffed at Icebox for several reasons.

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