Edited by Joel Topcik -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/19/2006 7:00:00 PM
Voom: Simultaneous and Incredibly Clear
A month after Steven Soderbergh's Bubble flouted the traditional theatrical release by debuting simultaneously (if not spectacularly) in theaters, on DVD and on TV, the HD channel-suite Voom is looking to do the same.
Voom tells Flash! that it will partner with Independent Digital Entertainment (InDigEnt) to produce Starting Out in the Evening for simultaneous release (or nearly simultaneous—just as unusual) in theaters and on Voom sometime in mid 2007.
Like Bubble, which was produced on a shoestring, Starting Out will cost less than $500,000. (Unlike Bubble, it will feature some big names, including Frank Langella, Lili Taylor and Lauren Ambrose.) Voom is throwing in two of its HD cameras as its part of the deal. Both Voom and InDigEnt are units of Rainbow Media's Independent Film Channel, which has made three other films.
“When this film is made, it will be stunning television,” says Voom General Manager Greg Moyer. “There's five times as much visual information in a high-definition video picture as in a standard-definition video picture. And the image in the theater looks almost as good, and some would say, as good, as if it was made on film.” (There's a Moyer Q&A on p. 18.)
The sweeps are on—time for “watch-and-win” cash contests, exposés of the myriad bacteria on your dinner plate and other ratings stunts cooked up by local stations.
But this February, several ABC affiliates are finding a fresh promotional hook in one of the network's most reliable prime time sweeps winners. Following the lead of the B-list celebrities on Dancing With the Stars, local news anchors are teaming up with professional hoofers for dance competitions tied to the hit show.
In Lincoln, Neb., KLKN's 10 p.m. news anchors are battling radio hosts in a series of Dancing With OUR Celebrities segments. At WZZM Grand Rapids, Mich., reporter Stephanie Webb is training with Arthur Murray dance instructors for the WZZM 13 Dance Off. And in Rochester, N.Y., WHAM anchors are spicing up the morning news for Dancing With Rochester's Stars.
After a local FM station challenged KLKN anchors Rod Fowler and Lauren Silverman to a dance-off with one of its DJs, the station built its sweeps promotion around the competition, calling in dancers from Basically Ballroom Dance Studio to train the contestants.
Each couple will be featured on the late news this week, leading up to the Feb. 25 finals to be broadcast from the Cornhusker Marriot and judged by viewers and dance instructors.
Fowler and Silverman are in it to win, says KLKN Promotions and Marketing Manager Dave Dwinell, even resorting to on-air taunts.
“They're trash-talking,” Dwinell says.
So much for happy talk.
Katz Calls It Quits
Media analyst and history buff Ray Katz is finally history himself at Bear, Stearns & Co.
After nearly two decades as a sell-side securities analyst, he resigned his post last Thursday. Katz's exit has been long in coming. He had been snooping for his replacement for months before finding a worthy successor: Spencer Wang, who has been media analyst for JP Morgan.
Katz was a Bronx, N.Y., elementary school teacher and a CBS executive before he took his first Wall Street job at age 39. He rose to prominence tracking cable and entertainment companies and regularly appeared on Institutional Investor magazine's annual ranking of top media analysts.
“It's time to try something else,” says Katz. He has nothing but praise for Bear Stearns but acknowledges some weariness of the “day trips to Singapore” and other such job requirements.
He's not sure what his next gig will be—a buy-side institutional-investment firm, a private-equity firm or perhaps elsewhere at Bear Stearns.
“I'm not going to go to another sell-side job,” he says.
He'll wrap up sometime after Bear Stearns' annual media-investment conference in two weeks.
Any parting predictions?
“Cable's oversold” and will bounce back, he says. “Media stocks will do better than everybody thinks,” particularly Time Warner, “if they can straighten out AOL.”
Here's one prophecy he will guarantee: “I forecast that Cablevision will drop a bomb somewhere along the line. That's the easiest prediction to make.”
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