news digest


Cates has 14th date with Oscar

Taking the reins of the Oscar telecast for the 14th time, Gilbert Cates will produce the 80th Annual Academy Awards, which airs Feb. 24 on ABC from the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland. Cates' last Oscar assignment was the 78th Academy Awards in 2006. He takes over for Laura Ziskin, who did this year's show.

Top billing from the grave

A bill giving "postmortem publicity rights" to dead celebrities has passed the California State Legislature. Introduced by state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, SB 771 passed the Senate on Friday after being cleared by the state Assembly. It now goes to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk. Endorsed by industry groups including SAG, the bill clarifies legal rights of heirs to celebrities' estates in California.

ShoEast int'l honors set for Magana

Alejandro Ramirez Magana, CEO of Latin American exhibitor Cinepolis, will be presented with the annual international achievement award at ShoEast 2007. Magana, whose company operates 1,635 screens in 176 locations throughout Mexico and Central America, will be feted on the opening day of the exhibition industry confab. ShoEast is scheduled for Oct. 15-18 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Ramirez sits on the boards of several Mexican and academic institutions and is president of the Morelia International Film Festival.

Sagansky atop Peace Arch

Peace Arch Entertainment Group has elected industry veteran Jeffrey Sagansky as co-chairman of the global entertainment company's board. Sagansky, one of the company's largest shareholders, will serve alongside co-chairman Drew Craig. Sagansky been CEO of CBS Entertainment, co-president of Sony Pictures Entertainment, president of TriStar Pictures, senior vp programming at NBC and CEO of Paxson Communications.

Promo times: Sullivan adds PR role at DW

Chip Sullivan has been promoted to head of publicity at DreamWorks, the studio said Monday. He will oversee corporate communications for the company while continuing to collaborate with DreamWorks Animation on marketing projects. Sullivan will report to DreamWorks SKG co-chairman and CEO Stacey Snider. Sullivan began working for the studio in 1995 when he served as head of special projects.

'Gimme' brings more for VMAs

The 2007 Video Music Awards, which aired on MTV at 8 p.m. Sunday, averaged 7.1 million total viewers, an increase of 23% compared with last year's telecast, according to Nielsen Media Research. The show had been on a downtrend recently, averaging 5.8 million viewers last year, 8 million in 2005 and 10.3 million in 2004. But this year, MTV decided to air the telecast — which featured a "comeback" performance by Britney Spears singing her new single "Gimme More" — only once in its original version, with "remixed" versions set to air throughout the week. In the network's target 12-34 demographic, the telecast averaged a 6.4 rating (5 million viewers), up 23% compared with last year's 5.2 rating.