It looks like media mogul Haim Saban has some money left over from his recent $100 million contribution to charities in the U.S. and Israel to make a second attempt to buy ProSiebenSat.1. Saban pulled out of the deal to buy Kirch Media in June 2003. Now rumors are circulating that the POWER RANGERS-powered billionaire is making another run at buying only the broadcaster asset from Kirch's creditors.
Northern California-based VFX house ESC Entertainment was originally funded by Warner Bros. to handle the bulk of the work on the MATRIX trilogy, which cost more than $100 million. But now the studio has decided to expand ESC's role by having it take a lead or secondary role in all of its event films, VARIETY reports.
In honor of its 20th anniversary - and perhaps owing just a little to the success of the acclaimed ABC series, ALIAS - Alias|Wavefront will now be known simply as Alias. According to the Toronto-based 3D graphics technology leader and creator of the Oscar-winning Maya software, the name change "provides a simple yet powerful name that is well known throughout the 3D industry and beyond."
Humunculus, launched only nine months ago in Venice, California, has already expanded into a new, 2,000-square-foot facility. The new studio, located at 529 Victoria Avenue, was designed by Predock Frane architects of Santa Monica, and modified by studio founder Saam Gabbay for Humunculus. "Using the architects' original materials of Lexan, MDF and sanded homosote, we created four subdivisions in the space to fulfill our distinct needs," Gabbay explained.
When the Nickheads.net fansite (which is not connected with Nickelodeon) posted news that Klasky Csupo was only getting an order from Nick for eight episodes of the RUGRATS spinoff, ALL GROWN UP, and thereby was laying off lots of employees, AWN asked reps at Nickelodeon and Klasky Csupo to respond.
With the demand for CGI growing, animatronics special effects wizard Stan Winston has launched a CGI division as part of his Stan Winston Prods, reports VARIETY. Entitled SW Digital, the new Van Nuys, California-based firm will start by offering digital effects services to mid-to-low budget projects. SW Digital will start hiring new staff as projects warrant it. This move adds to the in-house power Winston has to produce his own films. Stan Winston Prods recently produced this summers horror flick WRONG TURN, along with New Regency Prods., Summit Entertainment and Constantin Films.
The legal battles are over with Viacom gaining the right to call its TNN Network Spike TV. Movie director Spike Lee settled his legal debate July 7, 2003 with Viacom Inc. State Supreme Court judge Walt Tolub lifting his injunction barring Viacom from using the moniker Spike TV. Details of the settlement were not disclosed. Viacom claims the delay has cost media conglom $30 million in marketing expenses.
On Friday, June 27, 2003, Marvel Enterprises filed yet another lawsuit worth $10M against SPIDER-MAN partner Sony, this time specifically Sony Electronics, reported VARIETY. Marvel claims in the suit, filed in L.A. Superior Court, that Sony Electronics refused to license the Spider-Man character for its electronic products like radios and portable CD players and has advised sister company Sony Pictures to do the same with competitors.
Maybe he couldnt quite afford to buy KirchMedia and its ProSiebenSat1 channel, but media mogul Haim Saban and his philanthropist wife, Cheryl, are donating $100 million in charitable gifts to health care and education in the U.S. and Israel, according to a report in the LOS ANGELES TIMES. The man who got rich on kids programming like the MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS and the Fox Kids and Fox Family Channels has dedicated $40 million to Children's Hospital Los Angeles to support ongoing research into cancer and gene therapy as well as further research into neuroscience.
His permanent thank you card will be an 88,500-sqaure-foot facility research facility to be named the Saban Research Institute of Children's Hospital Los Angeles. It is the single largest donation to a childrens hospital to support pediatric research in North America according to Walter W. Noce Jr., president of Childrens Hospital. Cheryl Saban has served on the hospital's board for seven years.
After a four-year hiatus for Disney comic books in the U.S. market, Disney Publishing Worldwide has signed a deal with Gemstone Publishing to bring Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and other Disney favorites back onto the printed page. Gemstone will release the first two monthly comics, WALT DISNEY COMICS AND STORIES and UNCLE SCROOGE, in June at $6.95, while the first bi-monthly, DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES ($7.95), debuts in July, and monthlies DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS and MICKEY MOUSE AND FRIENDS ($2.95), arrive in September.
Just as it gears up for more VFX feature work, Blur Studio (www.blur.com) has moved into a new, 20,000 square-foot computer animation studio that is nearly triple the size of its former Venice, California headquarters. Through an international talent search, it has also increased its artistic staff to 65, with additional talent to come.
Playhut Co., a toy designer and manufacturer, launched its own production and distribution company, Playhut Entertainment, to produce anime and childrens programming for home video and broadcast.
Hong-Kong-based animation production house Stvdio Media has established an office in Los Angeles to handle sales and marketing for the North American Market. Founder/ceo Larry Feign, an American animator and cartoonist, has appointed Susan Goldstein to head the U.S. office. Goldstein worked for the Screen Actors Guild, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and was evp of VIDEO INSIDER.
Based in the U.K., Jennifer Taylor and Clair Daintree have combined a wealth of expertise and recognition in the field of voice overs, as well as a unique link with Hollywood to provide a genuinely full service voice over agency, Shining Management, Ltd., in London to service the broadcast and production industry.
Due to the success of Digital Fusion and DFX+, eyeon Software Inc. has opened two new offices eyeon USA and eyeon Europe. Los Angeles-based eyeon USA is lead by Digital Fusion guru and director of business development, Rony Soussan, who has been influential in Digital Fusion's proliferation on the west coast, and has a long history as a digital compositor. Soussan offers expertise with both the product and the pipeline, as well as advanced training.
KirchMedia, the once mighty German media giant, shut down on June 16, 2003 after a flurry of attempts to buy it. It looked like the cash-strapped company was going to be owned by American entrepreneur Haim Saban, until the parties couldn't agree on final terms and nullified the deal after the contract expired on May 31. Management and creditors had hoped to restructure the company to maintain it until the market climate improved to sell it, but shareholders voted to sell off its main assets into separate companies.
Just days after Hiam Saban withdrew his bid to acquire KirchMedia's television and its library, the American entrepreneur is said to be teaming up with a consortium to buy British broadcaster ITV. Some say he's looking to buy ITV shareholder companies Granada and Carlton, which are planning to merge to form a $4.4 billion ITV company. The two broadcast/production/distribution powerhouses are working on a solution to make their merger pass the Competition Commission regulator in the U.K.
Dear Friends and Colleagues:
My good friend and associate, Jim Hardison, said it best, "It's surreal!"
After many great years building Will Vinton Prods. and creating groundbreaking Claymation and 3D-animated films, television and commercials, and growing Will Vinton Studios, I have been forced out of active involvement with the company by Phil Knight and his associates. The situation could also be described as "Machiavellian"! And I expect you'll hear much more about this David and Goliath story in the near future.
"I'm definitely on my way back from hell," Will Vinton told AWN, a few months after the studio he founded, Vinton Studios, gave him the boot. The king of Claymation claims he is much happier now, having signed with Creative Artists Agency and is shopping around a number of animated projects, including a feature film script, THE QUEST, written by Peter Crabbe.
Entrepreneur Haim Saban has dropped out of his $2.3 billion contract to buy Germany's biggest broadcaster ProSiebenSat 1 from bankrupt KirchMedia. Saban signed the 40,000-page contract on March 27, 2003 for the acquisition of the broadcaster and its programming rights to approximately 18,000 films and series, the largest film library outside of Hollywood. Over the next two months, Saban did not agree with KirchMedia and creditor banks on "details of the transaction" by the deadline of May 31 for the purchase of ProSiebenSat 1.
The California state Supreme Court decided unanimously on June 2, 2003 that celebrities are not entitled to compensation from studios, publishers and artists so long as the likeness of the famed is portrayed creatively rather than literally. The court ruled against Johnny and Edgar Winter, recording artists who sued DC Comics for portraying the brothers as worm/human villains with tentacles sticking out of their chests, called Johnny and Edgar Autumn. Depictions that "are distorted for purposes of lampoon, parody or caricature" are entitled to free-speech protection, justice Ming W. Chin wrote in the decision, Winter vs. DC Comics, S108751. The Motion Picture Assoc. of America had filed arguments in the case so that studios would be able to produce unauthorized drama-documentaries and celebrity spoofs. Celebrities must still be compensated if their actual faces or names are used on commercial merchandise. The court also found that trial judges can throw out these kinds of lawsuits by celebrities without trials. This decision protects the right of studios for background uses of celebrity images, photographs or posters, according to the Motion Picture Assn. The Winter brothers still have a claim against DC Comics for using the brothers' names in advertising for the comic books, a decision the Supreme Court left to a Court of Appeal.
Filmmaker Spike Lee is suing Viacom Inc. over its plans to call the TNN channel Spike TV to attract male viewers. Lee filed papers June 3, 2003 for an injunction against Viacom's use of the name, it was reported by The Hollywood Reporter. "The media description of this change of name, as well as comments made to me and my wife, confirmed what was obvious that Spike TV referred to Spike Lee," he said in court papers. Viacom has been asked to explain why it shouldn't be barred from using the name. Viacom bought TNN in 2000 and announced a new programming and branding initiative, which is expected to launch on June 16, 2003. Viacom said it was confident the court would reject Lee's claims to the name Spike. Lee said TNN's president Albie Hecht has publicly associated the name "Spike" with Lee. Lee has signed affidavits from industry people who thought of Lee when they heard about Spike TV. Some believed Lee had become affiliated with the network.
Dieselfx has commenced operations in Santa Monica, California. Elliot Jobe founded the new effects house after leaving Playground where he was the lead inferno artist. Joining the team with be Craig Price, Playground's former creative director and producer Alessandra Pasquino, who also worked at Playground. From design and production supervision to final finishes, the new firm has a wide range of serves for clients including a complete CGI package.
Post-production company PostWorks New York has made a major move, acquiring all of Tapehouse companies, including Tapehouse Editorial, Tapehouse Digital Film, Tapehouse Broadband, Black Logic and The Anx, as well as all of SMA Realtime and 50% of audio post house Caterini Studios. With the acquisition, PostWorks will be equipped to handle every aspect of digital or film post-production for both short-form and long-form television, film and multimedia projects.
By an overwhelming vote, the members of the Animation Guild and Affiliated Optical Electronic and Graphic Arts, Local 839 IATSE have ratified a new collective bargaining agreement with the major animation producers. The new Animation Guild agreement offers the same wage minimum increases, health and pension benefits as the IATSE Hollywood Basic Agreement, which was agreed to in November 2002 and ratified in February 2003.