news digest


RealNets has new player

NEW YORK — RealNetworks on Thursday unveiled its new free RealPlayer software featuring a plug-in that will make it easier for users to download streaming content from video sites. The player, available this month in beta mode at, will contain a "download this video" button that will appear when users are streaming noncopyright-protected videos on their computers. This will give users the option to download content from such sites as Google's YouTube or Yahoo's video site directly to their hard drives for offline viewing — a feature that is sure to raise eyebrows among copyright holders and digital rights management proponents.

Simon & Schuster suing gov't

CBS Corp. book unit Simon & Schuster and former CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson have filed a lawsuit against National Intelligence director J. Michael McConnell, the CIA and CIA director Michael Hayden, citing interference with the planned publication of Plame's memoir, "Fair Game," in October. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court/Southern District of New York Court, alleges that the executive branch of the U.S. government is interfering by classifying public domain information, namely the dates of Wilson's federal service. They claim the dates were previously released by the CIA in an unclassified document and online.

Rogue ups pair in push for development

Rogue Pictures has promoted Alex Heineman to vp production, and Andrew Deutschman has been upped to creative executive. The moves come as the company said it is accelerating its development slate for 2008. Deutschman and Heineman will continue to be based in the company's West Coast and East Coast offices, respectively, reporting to Rogue co-presidents Andrew Karpen and Andrew Rona.

Magnolia, Red have 'End' in their sights

Magnolia Pictures and Red Envelope Entertainment have acquired North American rights to Charles Ferguson's Iraq documentary "No End in Sight," which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival. Oscar-nominated Alex Gibney executive produced the film that has been touted as one of the more unique examinations of the U.S. occupation of the Middle East. Bowles negotiated the deal along with Red Envelope Entertainment head Bahman Naraghi, Magnolia head of business affairs Jason Janego and Cinematic Media's John Sloss.

ATAS tweaks Emmy rule on 'dangling'

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' board of governors has approved a rule change stating that "dangling" episodes — those that fall outside Emmy eligibility dates — are now eligible for awards consideration. The academy's 2007 rule book mandates that if episodes associated with a series are fewer than the minimum number needed to qualify as a stand-alone series in any given awards year (six for drama and comedy, three for all other series), they are considered "dangling" episodes and are disqualified from eligibility in any awards year. With the change, the "dangling" episodes (up to five for drama and comedy, two for other series categories) now qualify for Emmy consideration in the year the series qualifies. The "dangling" episodes also can be at the start of the series' run. In addition, all "dangling" individual achievement work is eligible as well.

Tribune close to share-payment completion

Tribune said Thursday that 90% of its outstanding shares have been accepted for a tender offer of $34 a share, part of the multiphase takeover of the media group by investor Sam Zell. The company will commence payment for shares purchased in the tender offer no later than Tuesday, officials said.