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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Bluetooth beaming ... Cruise aftermath ... AOL Video launches movie downloads

- CBS is promoting some of its new TV shows by installing billboards at Grand Central Station that can beam a free video clip to travelers' cell phones, using Bluetooth wireless technology. (Is it just me, or does Bluetooth technology actually work for some people?)


- The Wall Street Journal wonders about hedge funds financing future Tom Cruise movies:


    ...[T]he question is: Will investors be willing to back a single -- and sometimes volatile -- producer like Mr. Cruise? From "Risky Business" to "War of the Worlds," the actor's movies have generated billions of dollars of revenue over his 25-year career.


    ..."If they thought Sumner [Redstone] was a tough boss, wait till they see what they have to put up with to get $100 million out of a fund," says Hal Vogel, an entertainment industry analyst who runs Vogel Capital Management.


The LA Times has a few pieces, one headlined `Money is the Real Star in Hollywood'. It includes this interesting passage:

    "Celebrity is less powerful now," said Jeff Fenster, an executive at Jive Records who helped discover pop superstars Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. "Just because a film or album stars a big-name celebrity doesn't guarantee success anymore. And Hollywood craves making money above everything else."


    Even Sumner Redstone, chairman of Paramount owner Viacom Inc., suggested in an interview Wednesday that parting with Cruise after a 14-year business relationship had more to do with the profitability of his recent films than with his off-screen antics.


    "There is no question that the box office is affected by other distractions such as the Internet and video games," Redstone said. "Studios make peanuts compared to the stars, and unless they learn how to say no and demand more for less, they won't survive."


And there's another LA Times piece headlined `Star is Collateral Damage of Studios' Profit Push'. It focuses on internal politics at Viacom, and why some executives didn't like the idea of firing Cruise.


- Where can't you buy digital movie downloads, all of a sudden? AOL just added them to its own site, AOL Video. Prices will range from $9.99 to $19.99 per movie, and the studios include 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

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