news digest


Byrne to head NBC-GE fund

NEW YORK — GE Commercial Finance's Media, Communications & Entertainment business and NBC Universal said Thursday that Thomas Byrne has been appointed managing director of the new $250 million joint-venture investment vehicle Peacock Equity Fund. Megumi Ikeda was named executive director of the vehicle. Based in London, she will report to Byrne. Peacock Equity is a joint venture of the two General Electric units that invests in "media and technology companies with high growth potential," the companies said.

'Last Winter' on IFC's N.A. calendar

NEW YORK — IFC Entertainment has picked up all North American rights to Larry Fessenden's eco-horror thriller "The Last Winter" for its IFC First Take day-and-date release program. The feature, which premiered in the fall at the Toronto International Film Festival, features Ron Perlman, James LeGros and Connie Britton as members of a remote Alaskan oil-hunting team haunted by an unseen presence. "Winter" will be given a platform theatrical release and a simultaneous VOD release in mid-September. The film screens today and Sunday at Film Independent's Los Angeles Film Festival. IFC vp acquisitions and productions Arianna Bocco negotiated the deal with Sarah Lash from Cinetic Media, who repped the filmmakers.

Waxman probes P2P services

WASHINGTON — One of Congress' most dogged investigators and chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is training his sights on peer-to-peer services. Industry sources said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has grown concerned over government, personal and corporate data that has become available to hackers as consumers use P2P services to get such content as music and movies. Waxman sent letters to LimeWire CEO Mark Gorton and StreamCast Networks CEO Michael Weiss asking them to explain what steps they've taken to ensure that users of the P2P services don't open up their computers to abuse.

Labor-reform bill delayed

A Senate vote on a labor-reform bill, which would replace union-certification elections with simple "card-check" procedures, has likely been delayed until next week. The WGA, SAG, AFTRA and the DGA have called for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, introduced by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. (HR 6/21). Senate action on a major energy bill prevented the measure from reaching the floor Thursday.

Hill stepping down as Par exec

Janet Hill, Paramount Pictures executive vp corporate communications, will step down July 18 when her current two-year contract is completed. She informed her staff and other studio execs Thursday, having previously discussed her decision with studio head Brad Grey. Hill expects to explore other opportunities once her duties at the studio, which opens "Transformers" in two weeks, are over. The studio has not yet begun a search for her replacement.

Garcia patrols Fox's 'Prison'

Danay Garcia has landed a regular role on Fox's "Prison Break" next season when the drama will be set in a Panama prison. She will play Sofia, a beautiful Latin woman living in Panama whose boyfriend Whistler (Chris Vance) is incarcerated with Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller). Garcia will be seen next in the feature "From Mexico With Love" opposite Bruce McGill and Steven Bauer. She is repped by Stone Manners Agency and manager Travis Clark.