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Lorber, Hidden Treasures pair for new firm

Lorber Media and Hidden Treasures Prods. have merged operations to form Lorber HT Digital, headed by CEO Richard Lorber. The company will acquire "secular spirituality" documentaries and distribute them via digital delivery, direct-to-consumer DVD Web sales and retail video outlets. The new company also will acquire projects with broader rights for TV and international licensing as well as pursue co-production opportunities. Hidden Treasures will continue to operate as the new venture's nonfiction production arm. Lorber will remain president of the separately run indie distributor Koch Lorber Films.



NBC Uni tunes in 'Live'

NBC Universal Digital Media on Thursday launched "Live From the Peacock Room," a concert series featuring established and up-and-coming musical artists, available online at VirtualNBC.com and in the virtual world Second Life. The series, featuring such artists as Fuel, Michael Penn, Jason Mraz and Jada Pinkett Smith's band Wicked Wisdom, will continue through the summer.



IDA turns up music with new award

The International Documentary Assn. has created the Alan Ett Music Documentary Award. The honor will be bestowed upon a filmmaker for an outstanding documentary about music and/or illustrating exemplary creativity for the use of music in a documentary short or feature. The award, which comes with a $5,000 prize, is named after Ett, a past winner of the IDA's Pare Lorentz Award for executive producing for the documentary "Sugihara: Conspiracy of Kindness."



Mobile moves at Sony BMG

Sony BMG is expanding its mobile presence with a pair of deals this week. The music major struck a deal with mobile TV service MobiTV, adding more than 2,500 music videos to its existing branded video channels. The two also are collaborating on customized artist channels offering original programming. The first is Avril TV, which includes all of Avril Lavigne's music videos and a made-for-mobile version of her "Make 5 Wishes" comic book. Meanwhile, the label's U.K. division has licensed its catalog to distributor VidZone, which allows customers to access content on computers and mobile phones.



Here! due as sub service for SoCal TWC

Here! — the premium network that targets gay viewers — said Thursday that it is launching as a subscription service ($7.95 a month) on July 1 to all areas served by Time Warner Cable in Southern California. Currently, here! is available to some TWC customers on a transactional basis. To promote the launch, TWC and here! will be at the Gay Pride Parade in West Hollywood this weekend with opportunities for customers to presubscribe.



Eastman taps Spinotti for jury duty

Director of photography Dante Spinotti will judge entries in the 2007 Eastman Scholarships for film school students and the Kodak Faculty Grant competitions. The programs are co-funded by an endowment established by Kodak and administered by the University Film and Video Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance the study, practice and preservation of motion picture and video production. Spinotti earned Oscar nominations for "L.A. Confidential" in 1998 and "The Insider" in 2000.
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