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Forecast > Google, Web major figures in 2007 media III January 5, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Media.

Talent pools. Hollywood talent agencies continue to consolidate. Indie-oriented United Talent Agency, home to Johnny Depp and other stars, sells out to little-known Connecticut investment banker Suhail Rizvi, who owns half of International Creative Management.

Head UTA agents Jeremy Zimmer and Jim Berkus smile all the way to the bank, while Rizvi sets his sights on destabilizing monolithic Creative Artists Agency.

Hollywood crunch. As DVD sales decline for the first time ever, studios step up their crackdown on costs, putting the squeeze on talent, shuttering production deals, cutting jobs and finding other ways to rein in spiraling production and marketing budgets.

Some big stars follow Tom Cruise’s lead by setting up joint production ventures with investors, bypassing the traditional studio financing system.

Studios increasingly rely on outside financial partners, although many of them flee after being burned by big-budget flops in 2006. Studios accelerate the next-generation, high-definition DVD format to keep their cash cow alive and take advantage of banner sales of flat-panel TVs.

Strike out. Bracing for a strike, studios and networks stock up on reality TV shows this spring, angering leaders of the Writers Guild of America, West.

Although they are eager to share the spoils of digital content distribution, the writers lie low when their contract expires Nov. 1, choosing instead to align with the Screen Actors Guild, whose contract expires in 2008.

The studios cut deals with both unions to avert twin strikes, but thousands of production employees are out of work for months in 2008 because the studios stockpiled TV shows and movies.

Of sequels and pixels. A flood does not a glut make, at least when it comes to animated feature films. Although 13 are scheduled for release this year, following 16 in 2006, audiences still turn out, especially for DreamWorks Animation’s “Shrek 3,” Pixar Animation Studios’ “Ratatouille” and 20th Century Fox’s “The Simpsons Movie.”

The big summer surprise at the box office? “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” leaves Spidey, Shrek, Captain Jack and Harry Potter in the dust.

Parsons for mayor. Time Warner Chairman Richard D. Parsons, eyeing a bid for mayor of New York, conducts preliminary polling, scoring well on name recognition, fiscal acumen and leadership skills. But Gotham voters tell pollsters that Parsons is “not rich enough” to be mayor. He retires to his Italian wine villa.

Spring training. New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner trades places with Sumner Redstone. The Yankees justify the move by saying that after six seasons without a World Series victory, they need a take-charge leader who isn’t afraid to stand up to his front office.

Viacom promises Wall Street that Steinbrenner will bring a “human touch” needed to coddle fragile egos in the entertainment business.

Redstone’s daughter Shari is offered a job in Tampa, Fla., running the Yankees’ farm system, with a promise from her father that “if she wants it badly enough,” one day she might be called up to the big leagues.

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