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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Media Biggies Still Scheming Over YouTube ... Remembering Peter Ellenshaw ... Bob's Basement

- Richard Siklos has a piece in today's NY Times about the continuing discussions among the CEOs of NBC Universal, Viacom, and News Corp. about whether they ought to create a competitor to YouTube (or perhaps ally with Yahoo.) The opening:

    JEFF ZUCKER, the newly minted chief executive of NBC Universal, ventured to the Times Square headquarters of Viacom two Wednesdays ago with Peter A. Chernin, president of the News Corporation. It was not a social call as much as a social-networking call, to see Philippe P. Dauman, Viacom’s chief executive. After all, Viacom had rather publicly ordered YouTube, the Internet’s most popular video-sharing site, to remove thousands of clips of MTV material.

    A few weeks earlier, Viacom had also bowed out of a partnership with NBC and the News Corporation to set up their own alternative to YouTube, which was recently acquired by the search juggernaut Google. Not to be dissuaded, their idea is that a Web start-up featuring the broadcasters’ most Web-friendly fare (comedy clips and even whole episodes of their popular shows) could gather a crowd on its own and also be a powerful consortium for licensing content to other destinations around the Web — including, of course, “GoogTube.”

    According to people briefed on the visit, Mr. Zucker and Mr. Chernin ran through a presentation on why they thought Viacom ought to rejoin their group. So far, Viacom has not rejoined the venture, and the project’s fate remains unclear. (No love is lost between Viacom and the News Corporation, since the latter snatched from under Viacom’s nose.)

- Peter Ellenshaw, a great matte painter who worked with Walt Disney on movies like 'Treasure Island' and '20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,' has died at age 93. He shared in the Oscar for visual effects awarded to 'Mary Poppins,' in 1965. Here is the AP obituary. The Wall Street Journal has a longer remembrance. Stephen Miller writes:

    A master of a now-dying art called matte painting, he helped usher Walt Disney Corp. into live-action films by painting miniature scenery that was combined through technical wizardry with frames depicting actors. He reached his apogee with "Mary Poppins," which won the Oscar for special visual effects in 1965. Mr. Ellenshaw, who died Feb. 12 at age 93, was nominated three other times and worked on 30 Disney films.

    "He helped define the Disney look," says Roy E. Disney, nephew of the founder and a former vice chairman. "He created a kind of faux-realism which you believed in. It didn't look like something pasted onto the frame. ...Walt loved him."

    Mr. Ellenshaw's handiwork can be viewed in films from "Treasure Island" (1950) -- his first for Disney -- "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" (1954) and "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (1971). He also left his mark on several Disney television programs, including "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier," where actor Fess Parker as Crockett -- on his way to Washington to serve a spell in Congress -- journeyed down a dirt road that was an Ellenshaw painting.

Also a nice piece about Ellenshaw's work on Jim Hill Media, a Disney fan site.

- Fun piece in the NY Times about Bob's Basement, a collection of famous Hollywood props.

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