Magazine article Variety

Top Billing

Magazine article Variety

Top Billing

Article excerpt

"I think they treated us like s**t... kicked us to the curb. They're getting what they deserve."

Kathy Bates on NBC's handling of "Harry's Law"

THE BIG PICTURE

FILM

Sony Corp. Says No To Spinoff

Sony Corp. rejected a proposal by Third Point Capital, which owns about 7% of the conglom, to spin off as much as 20% of its Hollywood studio and other entertainment assets. Third Point's Daniel Loeb has been pressuring Sony's board to split off its entertainment units into a separate public entity. In a four-page letter to Loeb, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said Sony's board "unanimously concluded that continuing to own 100% of our entertainment business is the best path forward, and is integral to Sony's strategy."

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures gave ousted former 20th Century Fox co-chairman Tom Rothman a production deal in hopes that he can revive its TViStar production label and develop some TV projects.

Our Take: Rothman is better at keeping budgets in check (which could be beneficial to Sony) than he is his famous temper.

TV

Oscars Take Shape With Femme Host

Three days after Cheryl Boone Isaacs became the first female prexy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in 30 years, Ellen DeGeneres was named host of the 86th annual Academy Awards, taking place March 2. DeGeneres previously hosted in 2007, the highest-rated Oscarcast in key demos in the past eight years. DeGeneres is the only woman besides Whoopi Goldberg to host the Oscars solo.

At the most recent Oscars, women became a punchline in Seth MacFarlane's "We Saw Your Boobs" routine. With Boone Isaacs and DeGeneres (plus Academy CEO Dawn Hudson), the next Oscars shouldn't be as divisive.

Our Take: It's not that there's no place for humor that cuts at the Academy Awards, but making people uncomfortable on a night of celebration was questionable. With DeGeneres front and center, that's less likely.

DIGITAL

CBS Blackout Spills Over to Web

If Time Warner Cable subscribers thought they could go online to get around the blackout of CBS that went into effect last Friday, they were sorely mistaken. In a sign of how intense the standoff is between these two companies, the Eye went so far as to block access to full-length episodes of its series on CBS.com for the MSO's broadband subs.

While the blockade is hardly unprecedented - Fox did same via Hulu in its 2010 tiff with Cablevision - it leaves the good οΓ fashioned antenna as frustrated viewers' only recourse.

Our Take: We've come to the point where the multiplatform nature of media makes it impossible to contain these conflicts to just one screen. But the more negotiations like these go sour, the more consumers get aggravated when the battles spill into their living rooms. And that winds up not being good for either side.

REARVIEW

'The Canyons'

It may feature Lindsay Lohan, porn star James Deen and a much-discussed four-way sex scene, but "The Canyons," the controversy-seeking erotic thriller from Paul Schräder

and Bret Easton Ellis, deliberately short-circuits the viewer's pleasure. That's precisely why it works.

- Justin Chang

Share your thoughts at Variety.com/t/rearvlew

DEALS

Fox Adds 'Avatar 4'

Fox and director James Cameron announced a third "Avatar" sequel, and hired Josh Friedman, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Shane Salerno to collaborate with him on screenplays for all three films.

Chris Evans Wants to Direct

"Captain America" and "Avengers" star Chris Evans will produce, act and, for the first time, direct a film - romancer "1:30 Train." financed by McG's Wonderland Sound and Vision.

Sloan, Sagansky Raise Coin

Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky's Silver Eagle Acquisition Corp. …

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