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Business Features

As Dawn Ostroff Exits, Spotify Rethinks Rich Talent Deals

On Jan. 23, as Spotify staff learned of plans to lay off 6 percent of the company, or about 600 people, top podcast executives at the audio giant went into damage-control mode. Most notable among the departures was Dawn Ostroff, the chief content and advertising business officer who was hired in 2018 to build out Spotify’s podcasting […]

Behind Disney’s Activist Investor Battle: A Marvel Mogul’s Revenge Play

In 2004, Roy Disney — Walt’s nephew — summoned Disney shareholders to the company’s annual meeting, asking them to oust then-chairman and CEO Michael Eisner, who had been running the place for 20 years. Roy had Walt’s face, and his “Save Disney” movement brought emotional Disney-loving individual shareholders of all ages to chilly Philadelphia, some […]

A New Era of Noncompetes May Shake Up Hollywood Contracts

A new Federal Trade Commission rule that would ban noncompetes nationwide could complicate Hollywood hiring, even though California already prohibits the clauses in most contracts. On Jan. 5, the FTC released a proposed rule that would bar employers from making workers agree to noncompetes, which generally prevent them from taking jobs with competitors for a certain […]

Attack of the Chatbots: Screenwriters’ Friend or Foe?

Is ChatGPT a sign that automation is coming to film and TV writing? As far-fetched as it sounds, the arrival in November 2022 of a free prototype of the AI-powered chatbot — which has jolted observers with the sophisticated, fluid writing it can produce when prompted, even in the form of poems, essays and, yes, […]

Box Office: As 2023 Begins, Worry and Fear Linger After a Topsy-Turvy Year for Moviegoing

The ups and downs at the 2022 box office were certainly dramatic. Recovery from the COVID-19 crisis was in full swing during the summer, only to crash in the fall and early winter. There were high hopes for the year-end holidays, but the merriment didn’t quite materialize outside of 20th Century’s Avatar: The Way of […]

As CES Kicks Off, Hollywood’s Technologists Forecast 2023’s Challenges

The evolution of the metaverse, virtual reality and TV technology are just a few of the buzziest trends that will be on display at the 2023 CES Show, which gets underway Jan. 5 in Las Vegas. Organizers are hoping to reach 100,000 attendees, which is far below pre-COVID levels (the org reported 171,000 at its […]

The Year of Media Layoffs, Ad-Tier Launches and Private Equity Money Fueling Celebrity Brands

It’s hard to believe, but at the beginning of this year Bob Iger was retired from Disney, Netflix seemed like an unstoppable juggernaut in the entertainment business, and ViacomCBS was still a thing (hello, Paramount!). For the entertainment business, 2022 was a year of change and transformation, in corporate names, in executive leadership, and in […]

Celebrities Shilling Crypto Face More Than Just Mockery

To the uninitiated, the world of cryptocurrency exists on the outskirts of traditional finance. But every once in a while, more people catch a glimpse. This year’s coveted commercial breaks during the Super Bowl fit the bill, as several now-infamous ads featured stars hawking crypto. Larry David appeared in a spot for FTX, as did […]

When the Numbers Don’t Add Up: Recession Fears Dent Hollywood’s Streaming Ambitions

Across every major studio, economic emergency brakes have been pulled, with hiring freezes, enhanced scrutiny on travel and entertainment expenses, and, yes, layoffs. In the legacy media world, where studios have been betting on streaming to make up for declining cable revenues, it also has provided a gut check. Profits are still years off for […]

Mark Burnett’s Disruptive Reign at MGM Ends

Despite his outsize reputation as a prolific unscripted hitmaker — and the mythmaker who created Donald Trump’s image as a successful businessman — Mark Burnett’s departure as chairman of MGM’s Worldwide TV Group reads more like a footnote than a headline in a dramatic (and, so far, confusing to some in the creative community) ongoing […]

Bob Iger’s Austerity Era Begins at Disney: Behind His Most Pressing Concerns

When Bob Iger returned to Disney’s Burbank lot on Nov. 28, clad in a bright white shirt and a blue cardigan, he sought to reassure anxious employees by quoting Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning musical. “There is no more status quo … But the sun comes up and the world still spins,” actor Daveed Diggs sang […]

Nexstar’s Next Battle: Making The CW Numbers Work

In the end, Nexstar was paid $54 million to take The CW off of Paramount and Warner Bros. Discovery’s hands. Actually, that’s an oversimplification. In fact, Nexstar, led by CEO Perry Sook, was given its 75 percent stake in the network for free, but after factoring in its cash on hand, accounts receivable and accounts […]