Voom: Simultaneous and Incredibly Clear

A month after Steven Soderbergh's
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
for simultaneous release (or nearly
simultaneous—just as unusual) in theaters and on Voom sometime in mid

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
, 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

“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.)

Anchors Aweigh!

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
, 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
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

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
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

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.”