DirecTV's playbook: Now that John Malone has control of the El Segundo-based satellite service, the question is what he plans to do with it. The WSJ speculates that he could be after Rainbow Media, the Cablevision unit that owns the NY Knicks and Rangers, as well as Madison Square Garden. Having a strong sports component ties distribution and programming, and it makes the property more valuable. Speaking of which, Malone could already be thinking about an exit strategy. Potential suitors include Comcast and Verizon.
2006 venture dealing: It was the best year for L.A.-based venture capital investments since 2000, with 98 deals totaling $1.26 billion, compared with the 86 deals worth $884 million in 2005, according to Ernst & Young LLP. The fourth quarter was sluggish, however: just 16 deals totaling $226 million, down from 27 investment deals worth $284 million in the previous three months. Obviously, the boom in private equity and initial public offerings played a big role in the 2006 numbers, though it's best to use these numbers as just a general gauge. Some deals are not disclosed and the numbers tend to bounce around quite a bit, depending on who does the counting. Business Journal
Tribune buzz: Attention is focusing on the company's 23 TV stations, which account for one-third of total profits. But margins have lagged other broadcast groups, despite Trbune owning stations in big markets (including KTLA, Channel 5). One obvious problem is that Tribune stations are mostly affiliated with the low-rated CW network. Meanwhile, the NY Post reports that both Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs are advising the Chandler family in its bid for the company - the same investment banks that are overseeing the auction for Tribune. The firms are offering to provide financing for all interested parties, a practice know as "stapled financing." This is viewed in some circles as a kind of financial coercion because bidders who might want to go with their own people don't want to upset the folks running the auction. WSJ NYPost
Airport shooting: That's as in movies and TV shows and it's become a pretty big revenue generator, according to a study by the L.A. County Economic Development Corp. Between 2002 and 2005, film shots at local airports brought in $590 million in wages and other revenue. "The Terminal," "Catch Me If You Can" and the short-lived TV series "LAX" are examples. A lot of the shooting involves curbside, terminal and runway scenes - as well as sand dunes on LAX property and empty buildings under the airports' care. LAT
Disney makes anchor: The Mouse House's cruise line will be offering seven-night cruise vacations from San Pedro to the Mexican Riviera, beginning next year. A trial run was sold out in 2005. The Port of Los Angeles had more than 1.1 million passengers pass through last year (don't you remember the show "Love Boat"?), but the port is looking to boost its cruise presence. There are plans for a second terminal in the outer harbor to accommodate the larger ships. Press-Telegram
HD Porn: High definition can spot the slightest imperfections, which is a big deal if you happen to be in the pornography business. “The biggest problem is razor burn,” Stormy Daniels, an actress, writer and director, told the NYT. Cosmetic surgeons are about to clean up: One side effect of high-definition is that breast implants can be seen bulging oddly on screen. From the NYT:
The pornographers’ progress with HD may also be somewhat slowed by Sony, one of the main backers of the Blu-ray high-definition disc format. Sony said last week that, in keeping with a longstanding policy, it would not mass-produce pornographic videos on behalf of the movie makers. The decision has forced pornographers to use the competing HD-DVD format or, in some cases, to find companies other than Sony that can manufacture copies of Blu-ray movies. The movie makers assert that it is shortsighted of Sony to snub them, given how pornography helps technologies spread.
Box office catches up: Tomorrow morning's Oscar nominations should provide a further bump for movies like "Dreamgirls" and "The Queen," which just went into wide release this month. Helped along by the Golden Globes, "Dreamgirls" finished third in the weekend box office, with $8.7 million. But here's a little nugget that shows where Hollywood's bread is really buttered: "Night at the Museum," a comedy frolic starring Ben Stiller that opened around Christmas and wasn't taken seriously by any of the critics, picked up $13 million and now exceeds $200 million. Worldwide, it's $379 million. LAT