MURDOCH: CAREY ME BACK
Confirming a spate of rumors that arose on the Internet and trade publications last week, Rupert Murdoch announced Wednesday that Chase Carey will return to the News Corp fold with the titles of deputy chairman, president, chief operating officer, and member of the board of directors. Essentially, he will be taking over the company reins from Peter Chernin, whose recent resignation becomes effective at the end of this month but who has said that he will participate in the executive transition process. Despite the rumors, the appointment took some industry watchers by surprise, since Murdoch said in February, when Chernin announced his resignation, that he had no plans to replace him. Carey had spent 15 years as a top News Corp executive, including a period from 1996-02 when he shared the COO position with Chernin. He was serving as president/CEO of DirecTV when Murdoch persuaded him to return. In announcing Carey's appointment, Murdoch said: "This is not a time to stand still or allow the difficulties we're all facing to overwhelm us. ... I am confident that the right leadership team is now in place to steer us through these difficult times.'
NO. 1 CELEBRITY: ANGELINA JOLIE
Angelina Jolie has knocked Oprah Winfrey from the top of Forbes' most powerful celebrity list. The magazine estimated that Jolie earned $27 million over the past year, much of it for a movie featuring only her voice -- Kung Fu Panda. But Forbes also took special note of the media attention paid to her, citing coverage of her travels with longtime beau Brad Pitt (ninth of the Forbes list), the birth of her twins, and her philanthropic efforts in Africa. Winfrey dropped to No. 2 on the list, even though she earned ten times as much as Jolie. Rounding out the top five were Madonna, Beyonce, and Tiger Woods. Forbes took special note of the fact that while many Americans were caught up in economic turmoil, most celebrities were managing to avoid it. Those included in the 2009 100 list together earned $4.1 billion over the past year, up from last year's $4 billion.
BLART'S A BLAST ON DVD
Paul Blart: Mall Cop, a movie that many critics regard as the year's biggest overperformer, has managed to surprise again on video. The relatively low-budget Sony film, which grossed an astounding $146.3 million domestically earlier this year, has pushed its way to the top of the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart and also head Home Media Retail magazine's rental chart for two consecutive weeks. Twentieth Century Fox's Taken placed second and the Lionsgate comedy New in Town, third in sales.
STUDY: ALL YOU KNEW ABOUT ONLINE VIDEO IS WRONG
Two new studies indicate that much of what one reads about entertainment technology may not be true. In one study, conducted by researchers Frank N. Magid Associates for the Vuze video site, found that those using peer-to-peer software to access movies online are some of the biggest purchasers and renters of DVDs. Another study conducted by Sequent Partners and Ball State University's Center for Media Design indicated that far fewer people actually watch video online than previously believed and watch more television than they say they do. The study, which relied on observed behavior rather than surveys ("self report"), also disputed previous studies that concluded that consumers avoid most television advertising.
RAID ON MALAYSIAN WAREHOUSE NETS 35,000 BOOTLEG DVD'S
In one of the biggest raids on DVD pirates ever, Malaysian police officers, accompanied by a disk-sniffing Labrador named Paddy, have seized 35,000 pirate DVD movies at six warehouses, published reports said Wednesday. Several of the films are currently in theaters, including Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, Angels & Demons and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. In a statement, Mike Ellis, who heads the Asia regional branch of the Motion Picture Association of America, said, "We are glad to hear that Paddy's skills are being put to good use against the large, organized network of pirates involved in exporting illegal pirated DVDs to Singapore." Singapore, a close neighbor of Malaysia, is the principal trading center of the region.
ROMANIAN FILMS WINNING AWARDS, FEW VIEWERS IN ROMANIA
Many Romanian films that have received top honors at film festivals internationally are not performing well at the box office in Romania itself, the website FilmNewEurope.com reported Wednesday. The biggest hit of the year in that country, the website observed, was the Hollywood feature Yes Man, which sold 90,524 tickets, followed by Fast and Furious 4 (overseas title) with 88,794. By contrast, the top-drawing Romanian film, Weekend With My Mother drew just 4,144 moviegoers and The Happiest Girl in the World, which won the special C.I.C.A.E. award at the Berlin Film Festival this year, has sold only 1,300 tickets. And the latest Romanian film to hit local theaters, Carol I, has sold just 642 tickets.