Monthly Archives: September 2017

Oprah Winfrey Have praised the Power 100 Women at the Entertainment Breakfast

The Hollywood Reporter’s “Power 100” Women in Entertainment Breakfast, honoring Oprah Winfrey with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, presented to her by former California First Lady Maria Shriver.

The program: TV host Jimmy Kimmel opened the ceremonies, taking note of “this sea of perfect blowouts” and suggesting “Wouldn’t it be better to rename the event the 100 most powerful people in Hollywood and just not give any of the spots to men?” He then delivered a warning to Kanye West, seated with the Kardashian clan. “Don’t even think about taking this award away from Oprah,” Kimmel said.

Next up were the Hollywood Reporter’s editorial director Janice Min, publisher Lynne Segall and Sherry Lansing. Demi Lovato followed by naming participants in the magazine’s mentoring program, a joint venture with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Los Angeles, which pairs high school girls with mentors and awards them $10,000 college scholarships. Lovato surprised the audience by announcing not one, but two winners of full four-year scholarships, valued at $200,000 each, to Loyola Marymount University.

The crowd: The affair, presented by Lifetime, took place at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Wednesday (Dec. 11), the day the magazine released its list of the industry’s top female power players (and coincidentally the same day Screen Actors Guild nominees were announced, including Winfrey,nominated for supporting actress for her role in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”).

The packed Beverly Hills ballroom included  Anne Sweeney, the  co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, who was named No. 1 on the list for the fourth year. Also attending were Nancy Dubuc, president and CEO A+E Networks; Amy Pascal, co-chair, Sony Pictures Entertainment; Donna Langley, chair, Universal Pictures; Sue Kroll, president, worldwide marketing and international distribution, Warner Bros.; Jennifer Salke, president, NBC Entertaiment; Stacey Snider, co-chair and CEO, DreamWorks Studios; Sandra Stern, COO, Lionsgate TV; Jill Leiderman, executive producer, “Jimmy Kimmel Live”; Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO DreamWorks Animation; “The Butler” director Lee Daniels and the film’s screenwriter, Danny Strong.

More familiar to the general public were Jane Fonda, Gayle King, Whitney Cummings, Nikki Reed, Maria Bello, Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Naya Rivera, Big Sean, Allison Williams, Amber Valletta, Geena Davis, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Molly Sims, Ahna O’Reilly, Candice Accola, Angie Harmon, Gillian Jacobs, Mandy Moore, Cat Deeley, Alyson Hannigan and Judy Greer.

The presentation: “The woman that we are all honoring here this morning puts the capital ‘I’ in inspiring. She also puts the capital ‘I’ in influence,” Shriver said of Winfrey, continuing with more “I” descriptors:  imagination, instruction and impact.

After reciting a list of Winfrey’s many accomplishments, Shriver asked Winfrey to think back on her life from her birthplace in Mississippi to President Obama presenting her with the Medal of Freedom last month. “Think back to how hard you’ve worked, how many mountains you have climbed, how many scary, scary things you’ve pushed through, how many people you have proved wrong, how many people you have inspired,” she said.

The acceptance: “That beats a eulogy, I gotta tell you. It really does,” said Winfrey. “I mean, good Lord. And you’re alive to hear it.”

Winfrey defined power as “strength over time. That means strength times strength, times strength, times strength equals power.”

She talked of seeing herself on the cover of the Hollywood Reporter’s “rule breakers” issue. “When I saw the title of the cover, it brought tears to my eyes because my cover line was ‘innovator.’ And I thought, ‘Is that what this was? I’m a rule breaker and an innovator?’ I just thought I was getting my [rear] kicked.”

She concluded with the importance of using power to better the lives of others. “That is the true purpose of leadership,” she said. “How do you use your life to elevate the life of somebody else? That’s what everybody in this room has been called to do.”

Obama praised the growth of employment in the entertainment industry

President Barack Obama put the klieg light on Hollywood Tuesday, crediting the motion picture and television industry for being an engine of growth and a bright spot in a recovering economy.

“Entertainment is one of the bright spots of our economy,” Obama told a crowd of nearly 2,000 people gathered at the Glendale campus of DreamWorks Animation SKG. “The gap between what we can do and other countries can do is enormous. That’s worth cheering about.”

Obama was hosted by DreamWorks Animation Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, who is one of Obama’s biggest contributors and fundraisers.

A May 2012 fundraiser hosted by Katzenberg at George Clooney’s house raised nearly $15 million for the Obama campaign. And in September, Obama met Katzenberg for dinner at the Hilton Woodland Hills after an appearance the president made on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

Obama thanked Katzenberg for his support. “Jeffrey … has been a friend and supporter through thick and thin,” Obama said. “His place in the entertainment industry is legendary. I don’t need to puff him up too much. He has a healthy sense of self, but he is a great friend and somebody whose counsel and advice I value and I’m incredibly grateful to be here at this wonderful institution that he helped to build.”

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday that Obama chose the DreamWorks Animation site because of the studio’s track record in creating jobs, not because of Katzenberg’s fundraising. Employment at DreamWorks has risen by 50% since January 2008.

DreamWorks has generated billions in box-office revenue from its hit “Shrek,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Madagascar” movies, expanding its business in China and overseas markets and branching into television with a recent partnership with the Netflix streaming service.

Guided by Katzenberg, Obama got a lesson in how animators use motion capture to bring animated characters to life and had a funny exchange with actors Steve Martin and Jim Parsons, who were recording lines for the studio’s upcoming alien-invasion film, “Home.”

Obama greeted the actors in a small sound studio. He shook hands with Parsons but not Martin, who declined, explaining that he had a cold. Instead of shaking hands, the actor and the president did a little elbow bump.

“Are you going to sound a little nasal in your reading today?” the president asked Martin.

“I actually got the cold intentionally,” Martin joked.

“How’s the banjo playing?” Obama asked Martin. “This guy performed at the White House and was unbelievable,” he said, turning to the press. “I was a little shocked at how good he was.”

Martin said the performance had been “the biggest thrill of his life.”

“That’s how I felt about it,” Obama said. “I told Michelle: ‘Biggest thrill of my life. Inauguration, nothing; Steve playing banjo, that was big.'”

After the tour, Obama said he asked Katzenberg if he could work for the company and quipped that he felt a natural connection to the studio because his “ears were one of the inspirations for Shrek.”

The president met privately with a group of top Hollywood executives including CBS Corp. Chief Executive Les Moonves; Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara; Peter Rice, chairman of Fox Broadcasting; Amy Pascal, co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment; Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBC Universal; and Chris Dodd, head of the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

“The meeting was an opportunity to discuss the economy and highlight the entertainment industry as a bright spot in our growing economy,” Earnest said. “The president discussed the impact that broader economic conditions has on the industry. He also touched on piracy and intellectual property rights, which are chief concerns of participating film industry leaders.”

Obama’s visit and upbeat message about the entertainment industry, however, comes at a time of widespread anxiety among the middle-class crew members in Los Angeles who work behind the scenes on film and TV sets.

Many have seen their job opportunities and incomes dwindle as more work has migrated to other states and countries such as Canada and the U.K. that offer film productions stronger incentives and tax breaks than are available in California.

“Some indicators suggest that activity in the entertainment industry is up, but that has not translated into jobs here in California,” said Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist with the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. “In fact, the number of industry-related jobs locally and in California has shown little improvement since the recession, even as industry employment nationally has increased modestly over the past couple of years.”

CBS entertainment head Nina Tassler extended the deal until 2017

CBS’ entertainment chief, Nina Tassler, has earned a bigger title — chairman of CBS Entertainment — and a new employment contract that will keep her at the network through 2017.

Tassler will continue to be responsible for all of CBS’ entertainment programming, including prime-time, daytime and late-night hours. She also will head program development for all genres, including comedy, drama, reality, mini-series and other TV specials.

Tassler will oversee scheduling, research, advertising, promotions, publicity and business affairs for entertainment programming matters, but those division chiefs will continue to report CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves.

“There are very few executives with her track record of consistently achieving high-level success in all forms of entertainment programming,” Moonves said in a statement Thursday announcing Tassler’s new contract.

Tassler also will continue to report to Moonves. The two executives have worked together for 25 years, dating back to their days at Lorimar Television and, later, Warner Bros. Television, where they developed and produced “ER.”

Over the years, Tassler has helped nurture some of the most popular shows in television, including “The Big Bang Theory,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and the critically acclaimed “The Good Wife.” Earlier, when she served as senior vice president of drama development,  Tassler helped shepherd “CSI” and “NCIS” to the screen.

Tassler joined CBS in August 1997 as vice president for drama programming for CBS Productions. The following year, she moved over to the CBS network as senior vice president of drama development and became the network’s entertainment president in 2003.

Tassler also serves on the board for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation and for Jewish Family Services. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for Boston University. She graduated from Boston University after majoring in theater.

She began her career as an assistant at the Roundabout Theater Company in New York while waiting tables and auditioning for acting roles. She got a call back for the play “Come Back, Little Sheba,” but failed to land the part. However, she excelled in program development.

L.A. 2020 Commission’s silence on Hollywood jobs

A new report on spurring job growth in Los Angeles covers the bases, but leaves Hollywood out of the picture.

The Los Angeles 2020 Commission report, titled “A Time for Action,” was commissioned last year by City Council President Herb Wesson and offers various prescriptions to reverse a net decline in jobs over the last two decades.

The recommendations include such ideas as promoting bioscience research, establishing a regional tourism authority and combining the ports of L.A. and Long Beach.

But film industry advocates said they were disappointed that there was no discussion of what should be done to reverse a long-term decline of employment in L.A.’s entertainment industry.

Hollywood’s labor unions have been saying for years that L.A. leaders don’t pay enough attention to protecting one of the area’s economic pillars, allowing other states and countries to lure away film and TV production with rich tax credits and rebates. Mayor Eric Garcetti, however, has appointed veteran entertainment industry attorney Ken Ziffren as a film czar to lobby for stronger state film tax credits to make California more competitive.

“It is a little surprising to me that it wasn’t at least a focal point of the report,” said Paul Audley, president of FilmL.A. Inc., which handles film permits and promotes the local film industry. “So much around the city is tied to the entertainment industry, and the job losses in this industry are pretty critical. It’s one of the quickest things that could turn the economy around.”

Locally, the entertainment industry remains among the largest private employers, with about 250,000 jobs and an output of $60.9 billion in 2012, or 11% of Los Angeles County’s overall economy, according to a recent report from the Otis College of Art and Design.

But L.A.’s entertainment economy has been losing market share. California lost 16,137 film and TV industry jobs (mainly in the L.A. region) between 2004 and 2012, an 11% decline, according to a recent report by the Milken Institute, as jobs fled to such states as New York, New Mexico and Louisiana.

In an earlier report, released in January — one that painted a bleak picture of L.A.’s ills — the 2020 Commission briefly acknowledged the problem of entertainment jobs losses in one paragraph of a 43-page document that highlighted high poverty rates, chronic budget shortfalls and failing public schools.

The follow-up report released Tuesday, however, did not address the entertainment sector among any of the 13 policy recommendations the commission said would “put the city on a path to fiscal stability and renew job creation.”

“It’s very odd to raise a concern in the opening document and leave it un-addressed in the conclusion,” said Kevin Klowden, a managing economist at the Milken Institute.

The report’s focus on tourism, he added, would have provided a natural opportunity to discuss the importance of the film and TV industry to L.A.’s economy.

“I’m very surprised that the film industry was not at least touched on in reference to tourism because it is such a key component of tourism,” Klowden said.

But Austin Beutner, a former investment banker and L.A. deputy mayor and co-chair of the private commission, said there was a lack of consensus among its members on the best strategies to boost local entertainment jobs and that the topic had already been addressed by others.

“Clearly the loss of entertainment jobs has impacted the community. Clearly we need to do what we can to bring those [jobs] back,” Beutner said at a Times editorial board meeting. “I don’t think there’s any debate in the group about that. We just said … ‘Others are covering it and we don’t have consensus on whether that’s the highest and best use of tax dollars.'”

Beutner was former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s jobs czar. He was joined by several other high-profile business, civic and labor leaders on the commission, none from the entertainment industry. They included former California Gov. Gray Davis; former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis, a candidate for county supervisor; and Commission Chair Mickey Kantor.

Kantor, a veteran Los Angeles lawyer and former U.S. Commerce secretary, said the commission had to limit the scope of its recommendations.

“We didn’t deal with transportation and traffic,” he said at the editorial board meeting. “We didn’t deal with education. We didn’t deal with homelessness. We didn’t deal with the environment. We’re 13 people without staff. So we dealt with … what we understood.”