news digest


Ruggers up: Versus teams with Crowe

Oscar winner Russell Crowe will have his struggles as co-owner of an Australian rugby team documented in a six-part series airing on cable network Versus. Crowe owns the South Sydney Rabbitohs with Australian businessman Peter Holmes a Court. The team, which had been publicly owned by the working-class sector of Sydney, had fallen on hard times because of a lack of money and a losing record. "South Sydney Story," will detail their struggles to buy and rebuild the team as it enters its 100th season of competition. It debuts at 10 p.m. Oct. 10.

InterMedia banks on WCSN

World Championship Sports Network, which focuses on Olympic and lifestyle sports, has closed "significant financing" with private-equity firm InterMedia Partners, which now becomes a majority stakeholder in WCSN. The network also has inked a deal with ESPN to bring exclusive live Olympic and lifestyle sports event coverage to, the recently relaunched live sports broadband network.

'Idol' format owner OK with buyout

CKX Inc. has agreed to a revised buyout offer from a group led by its chairman and CEO Robert F.X. Sillerman and "American Idol" creator Simon Fuller. CKX has the rights to the names and likeness of such pop culture icons as Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. It also has the rights to the "Idol" TV format. In June, CKX agreed to go private in a $13.75-per-share cash deal. CKX also agreed to distribute half of its stake in a Las Vegas real estate firm. Under the revised agreement, CKX shareholders will receive all of the real estate firm, with the cash portion of the deal reduced by a percentage of the incremental increase in value now offered.

Composer Gregson-Williams heeds 'Call'

Award-winning film and TV composer Harry Gregson-Williams is producing the soundtrack for Activision's new video game "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," to be released Nov. 5. The game features an original score by Stephen Barton, with its main theme and production by Gregson-Williams with a full orchestra, primarily recorded at London's Abbey Road Studios.

Fox Latin succumbs to 'Cholera'

Fox Latin America nabbed all Latin American rights to Stone Village Pictures' "Love in the Time of Cholera," Mike Newell's film version of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novel. Fox is planning a December holiday release in Central and South American territories after its Nov. 16 stateside release by New Line Cinema. The film will have its world premiere this month at the Rio International Film Festival in Brazil.

Ad spending growth sees dip

Mature markets will see advertising spending grow 4.8% in 2008, the lowest quadrennial expansion since 1992, with possible further downside, investment bank UBS said Friday. The firm said it sees its proprietary Advertising Key Global Indicator, which forecasts global advertising, at $454 billion for 2008. That would mean year-over-year gains of 6.7%, driven by emerging markets and the Internet.