news digest


Now for a real high school musical story

Showtime, Lionsgate and Spitfire Pictures will co-produce an untitled documentary that will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the cutthroat world of high school musicals in southern Indiana. Written and directed by Barry Blaustein ("Beyond the Mat"), the film follows three Indiana high schools that spend tens of thousands of dollars on their musical productions in order to compete for admission to the International Thespian Festival. Plans are to debut the documentary in 2008 on the festival circuit, then present it on Showtime.

Eckel tapped to lead Alliance team

WPP's Alliance entertainment marketing agency has named CAA commercial endorsements agent John Eckel president and CEO. He replaces Jarrod Moses, who recently left to start up a branded joint venture with UTA. Eckel will lead the Alliance team with an office in Los Angeles and also expand to sports marketing.

Cosgrove in dual role

Tom Cosgrove has been named COO and executive vp at Discovery Channel and the Science Channel, managing the overall network strategy for both. He succeeds Doug Coblens, now executive vp business strategy and new media at Discovery Communications. Cosgrove will continue as acting GM while the Science Channel replaces him.

'Wild' is a force in COLA race

Paramount Vantage's "Into the Wild" will compete with the big boys in the 2007 California On Location Awards. "Wild," as well as Marvel Studios' "Iron Man," Fox's "Live Free or Die Hard" and DreamWorks' "Transformers" and their location teams, are finalists in the feature film category. Nominated in the features category for location professional of the year are "Wild's" Matt Wersinger; "Die Hard's" Curtis Collins; Rick Schuler and Scott Fitzgerald of "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"; and Kenny Brant of "American Son." The COLAs, now in their 13th year, will be awarded Oct. 14.

Nets, print behind ad slowdown

NEW YORK — Ad spending fell slightly in the first half, dragged down by declines in spot and network TV and in many sectors of print. Nielsen Monitor-Plus said Thursday that advertising totals fell a little less than 1% year-over-year in what is a mixed picture. Internet spending led categories with a 23% increase, while advertising in national magazines, Sunday supplements and outdoor rose 5% or slightly higher.

Trio rises in Fox promo ranks

Fox Broadcasting Co. has upped three publicity and marketing executives, pinning senior vp stripes on Shannon Ryan and vp stripes on Jason Clark and Peter Overland. Ryan, now senior vp publicity, will have increased oversight of the network's publicity staff. As vp publicity, Clark, along with New York-based vp Elissa Johansmeier, will help Ryan in managing the entertainment publicity staff. Overland was upped to vp on-air promotion.