news digest


Warner/Chappell hires Sweeney

NEW YORK — Ann Sweeney has been appointed executive vp at Warner/Chappell Music. Based in New York, she will report to CEO Dave Johnson. Most recently, Sweeney was senior vp at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a position she held since 2000. In her new role, Sweeney will focus on U.S.-based catalog acquisitions as well as legislative issues. She also will oversee worldwide digital revenue as she works with WMG's digital strategy and business development team to broaden Warner/Chappell's efforts in new media and digital music.

Here! there for rights to 'Fat Girls'

NEW YORK — Here! Films made one of its heftiest acquisitions to date, nabbing all North American rights to writer-director Ash Christian's coming-of-age comedy "Fat Girls." Here! sister company Regent Releasing will handle theatrical distribution of the film in the fall. The story centers on a gay teen (Christian) from a small Texas town and his adventures with an overweight female friend (Ashley Fink) and her Cuban love interest (Robin De Jesus). The film premiered at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, followed by more than a dozen film festival appearances nationwide.

Three tapped at Ventanazul

Salma Hayek's Ventanazul film label has named Annie Stewart, Lumumba Mosquera and Juan Davila to key senior management positions. Stewart, formerly director Mike Figgis' producing partner, has been named vp development; Mosquera, who comes from the Weinstein Co., will head the company's legal and business affairs; and Davila, a former A&E Television Networks exec, will be director of development.

Starbucks, NBC Uni pair on 'SNL' DVDs

Starbucks Entertainment has teamed with NBC Universal Television Distribution for the first time on a "Saturday Night Live: The Best of '06/'07" DVD set to be sold exclusively in Starbucks Co.-operated locations in the U.S. beginning Aug. 28. The venture marks the first time NBC Universal Television Distribution has created an exclusive DVD release for a retailer.

Book deals for Belzer, Shaffer

Richard Belzer and Paul Shaffer have separately inked book deals. Belzer has signed a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster to write a mystery series featuring the author as himself, a TV actor who gets wrapped up in real mysteries. The first novel in the series, "I Am Not a Cop," will be published in fall 2008. Belzer will co-write with Mike Black. Shaffer has signed with Flying Dolphin Press to pen a memoir of his life in show business. David Ritz will collaborate on the book, which is expected to be published in 2009. Shaffer and Belzer were repped in the deals by their manager, Eric Gardner of Panacea Entertainment; Ritz was repped by his agent, David Vigliano.

U.K. panel signs off on royalty deal

LONDON — The U.K. Copyright Tribunal has endorsed the settlement agreement for online and mobile royalty rates reached between the MCPS-PRS Alliance and a string of online music companies. According to the alliance, the decision confirms an agreement reached in September that songwriters, composers and their publishers should receive 8% of gross revenue from online music service providers for on-demand services. The dispute was referred to the three-member tribunal in June 2005.