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'Thomas' has new friend in Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan is making the transition from secret agent to really useful engine. The actor, who played the British superspy in four James Bond films, has been tapped as the narrator of the popular children's TV and DVD series "Thomas & Friends," HIT Entertainment is expected to announce today. Previous narrators have included Ringo Starr, George Carlin, Alec Baldwin and Michael Brandon. Brosnan, who said he was "thrilled'' and watched the train stories with his children when they were young, will make his debut on a DVD episode set for a fall 2008 release in the U.S. and U.K.

Endgame taps trio for exec roles

NEW YORK — Production-financing outfit Endgame Entertainment is upping its game, hiring Robert Norton as CFO, Greg Schenz as head of business and legal affairs and Matt Birch as senior vp physical production. Norton recently was a film-financing adviser to such production companies as Radar Pictures and Jersey Films. He began his career at Lucasfilm Ltd. Schenz was head of business and legal affairs at Beacon Pictures, where he oversaw a first-look deal with Walt Disney Pictures. Birch recently was a production supervisor on such films as "Transformers," "Mission: Impossible III and "The Italian Job."

EC to members: Roll out mobile TV ASAP

BRUSSELS — The European Broadcasting Union and the European Commission were at cross purposes Wednesday as the EC said that it has backed DVB-H technology, urging governments to roll out services using the standard "as quickly as possible." The EBU warned that it is too early to consider mandating standards for mobile television broadcasting and that Europe should let the market settle the issue before intervening. The EC said that 2008 will be crucial for mobile TV adoption as people will want to watch the Beijing Summer Olympics and the European football championship on handsets.

Premiere, Arena clinch pay TV soccer deal

COLOGNE, Germany — German pay TV group Premiere scored a golden goal Wednesday when regulatory authorities approved a soccer deal between Premiere and its main rival, Arena. Under the deal, Arena can sublicense to Premiere the broadcast rights to the next two seasons of Germany's premier soccer league, the Bundesliga. Both sides declined comment on the price Premiere will pay, but sources said it was "substantially" above the €220 million ($303 million) per season Arena parent Unity Media paid to secure the rights from Germany's Soccer League. For Premiere, it means a de facto monopoly on the German pay TV market. Soccer is the driving force behind pay TV subscriptions in Germany. Sources said Arena will not bid to extend Bundesliga rights when they come up for renewal in 2009, leaving the field to Premiere.

Hollywood Records CD gets busy

NEW YORK — Hollywood Records will debut CDVU Plus, a new ecologically friendly, interactive digital disc format with the upcoming self-titled album from teen rockers the Jonas Brothers, due Aug. 7, according to retail sources. The Jonas Brothers CDVU Plus will play in all CD players and feature digital liner notes and art work as well as 75 photos, music videos and allow access to the artists' Web site. It also will include a poster maker in which a fan's likeness can be superimposed with the Jonas Brothers.
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