news digest


Execs exit Island Def Jam; Sony BMG next?

Staffing cuts continued at Universal Music Group's Island Def Jam division. Island Def Jam A&R representatives Paul Pontius and Rob Stevenson have exited, following last week's departure of executive vp promotion Greg Thompson. Also, the staff of imprint Stolen Transmission, co-founded by Stevenson and blogger Sarah Lewitinn, also was let go. Lewitinn said she plans to continue running Stolen Transmission as an indie. Meanwhile, Sony BMG reportedly could be close to laying off as many as 70 of its midlevel executive roster before year's end. Silicon Alley Insider reports that some Sony BMG executives already have been notified of layoffs, and others are pending.

Ballatt leads new CAC board

NEW YORK — The Cinema Advertising Council announced a new board of directors and executive committee, with Screenvision senior vp marketing and former CAC executive director Stu Ballatt elected president and chairman. He replaces Cliff Marks. New board member Dave Kupiec was elected executive director and will be joined on the executive committee by treasurer Bob Brouillette and secretary Laura Adler, who remain in their roles.

AccessIT, Doremi in foreign deal

Building on their domestic collaboration, digital-cinema provider Access Integrated Technologies has entered into a nonexclusive distribution agreement with Doremi Labs for territories outside of the U.S. The agreement allows server manufacturer Doremi to bundle their media server with AccessIT's unique Theatre Command Center software and Library Management System. Two pilot programs with cinema companies in the U.K. and Ireland kick-started the effort.

Howsam pleads not guilty

Former Peace Arch Entertainment CEO Gary Howsam pleaded not guilty Monday in Los Angeles federal court to charges that he forged and faked international distribution documents to secure $7 million in film financing for "Going Back." Howsam was arrested Nov. 5 and indicted by a federal grand jury Nov. 20 on seven counts of fraud. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for each count, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Howsam remains free on bond and under house arrest. A status conference is scheduled for Jan. 14.

CNN adds Bernstein, debate dates

NEW YORK — CNN said Monday that it has hired Carl Bernstein as an analyst for the 2008 election. Bernstein became famous with Bob Woodward for their work uncovering the Watergate scandal in the Nixon White House in the early 1970s. He most recently wrote a biography of Hillary Clinton titled "A Woman in Charge." Also on Monday, CNN said it will sponsor the final two debates of the primary season with a Democratic candidate debate Jan. 31 in Los Angeles and a GOP debate a day earlier at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif.

Geisser gets Hallmark promotion card

Jennifer Geisser has been upped to senior vp corporate communications at Crown Media Holdings' Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. Geisser, who was vp, will lead and execute special events for the network. She reports to exec vp programming David Kenin.