news digest


Weak releases add to wider loss at WMG

NEW YORK — Warner Music Group Corp. reported a widened fiscal second-quarter loss Tuesday because of a lack of big releases and continued music retail sluggishness as it unveiled details of an organizational realignment that will see the firm move jobs and financial resources into digital and other areas where it expects growth. Chairman and CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. lauded his company's solid digital revenue gains in the quarter and reiterated WMG's commitment to digital rights management. WMG also said its realignment will lead to about 400 job reductions in traditional retail and other areas, sources said. WMG shares closed down 0.9% to $17.14.

ABC, Cox testing b'band, VOD ads

NEW YORK — Disney-ABC Television Group and Cox Communications Inc. said Tuesday that they will test several technologies in the fall, including allowing ABC's broadband player to appear on Cox's Web site and testing ad-insertion technology within a VOD environment. It will be the first time Disney-ABC has syndicated its broadband player, which it launched to fanfare a year ago at NCTA's annual conference and is available not only on but on about 80% of ABC's affiliated stations' Web sites. will be another site for the broadband player that gives users the ability to watch episodes of several ABC shows.

Grace closes door on Court TV, show

NEW YORK — Controversial attorney/TV host Nancy Grace will leave her daily Court TV show, "Closing Arguments," and the network that launched her TV career. Sources said Grace had asked to be let out of her contract with Court TV to focus on her primetime legal show "Nancy Grace" on Headline News as well as charitable work. "Closing Arguments" is a two-hour daily show that runs from 3-5 p.m. ET; "Nancy Grace" runs on sister channel Headline News at 8 p.m. She will continue on "Closing Arguments" through the summer. An exact departure date has yet to be announced.

Screen Gems lands spoof 'Armageddagain'

Screen Gems has acquired the actioner spoof "Armageddagain: The Day Before Tomorrow." Robert Moniot is directing from a screenplay he co-wrote with Travis Oates. Shooting is set to begin in August for a 2008 release. ICM repped North American rights on the project, negotiating the sale with Screen Gems' Michael Helfand. Odd Lot International will handle foreign sales at the Festival de Cannes. Brian O'Shea and Laura Ivey brokered the deal on behalf of Odd Lot Entertainment. Moniot is repped by ICM and the Gotham Group.

Sony acquisitions lights up with Inferno

Sony Pictures Entertainment's nascent acquisitions unit has entered into a multipicture co-financing and domestic distribution agreement with Inferno Films. The deal gives the Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group all media rights to films produced by Inferno. The first film covered by the deal is "The Heaven Project," a psychological thriller starring Paul Walker. The deal is expected to yield between five and 10 films.

Many feel the love from Italy's Davids

ROME — Two of Italy's best-known directors are behind the best film nominees at this year's 2007 David di Donatello Awards, organizers said Tuesday. This year's slate spreads the wealth among nearly a dozen productions nominated in more than one major category. Among the leading films are Ermanno Olmi's "Centochiodi," which garnered the director his seventh David nomination in the best film category. Giuseppe Tornatore's "La Sconosciuta" (The Unknown) also was nominated for the top honor. The awards will be presented June 14 in Rome.