Bill Clinton, Carlos Slim to Launch Soccer Project for Mexican Youngsters


President Bill Clinton addresses the audience before the "Walk In My Shoes: Conversations Between A Civil Rights Legend and His Godson on The Journey Ahead" book Event at The Paley Center for Media on February 9, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

President Bill Clinton addresses the audience before the “Walk In My Shoes: Conversations Between A Civil Rights Legend and His Godson on The Journey Ahead” book Event at The Paley Center for Media on February 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Bill Clinton and Carlos Slim are teaming up for Mexican youngsters.

The former U.S. president and the Mexican tycoon are planning to launch a project using soccer to encourage 900 teenagers and young adults to return to school in a border state ravaged by drug violence.

Renato Flores, spokesman for the Fundación Carlos Slim, said Friday that the project will transform lessons and intellectual skills developed through sports into marketable job skills for youth in the northern state of Chihuahua.

The Clinton Giustra Sustainable Growth Initiative says in a news release that the program will involve people ages 16 to 24.

Flores says both foundations will provide an undisclosed amount of money to the project and monitor its development through a local organization in Ciudad Juárez, epicenter of the drug war.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: Fox News

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Movies You’ve Heard Of Coming To YouTube. Will You Rent Them?


YouTube is finally ready to move its movie rental service from a long-running test into a real, bona fide movie store.

TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman first reported the news Monday evening. I’ve been able to confirm much of her story from people familiar with the plans.

Waxman’s report says the revamped store at Google’s video site “may start as early as this week or next;” I’m told it could be “weeks, but not months.” Big studios including Sony, Time Warner’s Warner Bros. and Comcast’s Universal are on board. So are indies like Lionsgate.

Notable holdouts: News Corp.’s Fox (News Corp. also owns this Web site) and Paramount, whose corporate parent Viacom is still suing Google over YouTube copyright claims.

YouTube started testing movie rentals internally in 2009, and has been renting a small handful to the public since 2010. Those movies have been offered as a streaming file, instead of the downloads that Apple’s iTunes rents, and I’m told the plan is for that to continue.

The difference is that you’ve probably only heard of a handful of the movies in YouTube’s existing store (I think “Made” is really under-appreciated). Post-expansion, you’ll get the same stuff, or much of the same stuff, that you can get from Apple, Amazon, and several other Web services.

So here’s the real question: Will you, or anyone else, use it?

Waxman quotes an unnamed executive who says they are “pretty excited,” but primarily because YouTube is embracing individual rentals, instead of a Netflix-style subscription plan.

A source I talked to from a participating studio, though, is less enthused: “A small VOD deal? Who cares? There are 40,000 other people who are selling VOD. This is a short-term, transactional deal.”

Another source familiar with the plans cautions that the initial expansion will only be the “first inning” of a longer game. Other features that Google could add down the road would be the ability to purchase movies, and store them in a cloud-based locker service.

Google is unlikely to get that ability until it makes several moves to mollify the big studios, primarily around copyright issues: They want the search giant to make it harder to find pirated movies, and they don’t want Google placing its ads on pirate sites, etc.

Google has been making some moves along those lines, but apparently not enough of them. (The flip side of this argument: Many studios are very interested cloud-based lockers, because they think that system, which allows people who own an individual movie to watch it on different machines, will support their eroding DVD sales. That may be more wishful thinking than anything else, but that’s for a different story.)

But the problem for both Google and the studios is that so far digital consumers seem largely uninterested in renting or buying individual movies.

Given the choice, consumers have overwhelmingly gone for Netflix, which now boasts 23.6 million subscribers. Research firm NPD estimates the company has 61 percent of the digital movie market.

Source: Smart Money

NFL Lockout Ruling Foreshadows Eventual Defeat for Owners


WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08:  National Football ...U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ordered an immediate end to the lockout Monday.  The NFL will certainly seek to stay this ruling.

Her ruling shouldn’t surprise anyone, and it may foreshadow an eventual victory for the players.

ECONOMIC INTERPRETATIONS OF JUDGE NELSON’S RULINGS

In her ruling, Judge Nelson wrote “The plaintiffs have made a strong showing that allowing the League to continue their ‘lockout’ is presently inflicting, and will continue to inflict, irreparable harm upon them, particularly when weighed against the lack of any real injury that would be imposed on the NFL by issuing the preliminary injunction.”

To paraphrase aspiring lawyer Vinnie Gambini from “My Cousin Vinnie” fame, Judge Nelson’s assessment is “dead-on balls accurate” because it is consistent with 3 undeniable economic truths in the NFL:

(1) The average NFL career is approximately 3.5 years.

(2) The median NFL salary for the 2010-11 season was approximately $770,000.

(3) The median NFL operating income is near $30 M.

Translation?  Judge Nelson recognizes that:

a)  Many NFL players have short careers, and the money they earn during these short careers is likely 50-75% of their overall lifetime earnings.

b) With most NFL teams earning double-digit operating incomes and with median franchise values at $1 B, there is no Greek tragedy that will suddenly emerge if the league were to re-open for business immediately.  To avoid the chaos everyone is talking about, simply agree to a one-year extension of the rules that governed the 2010-11 season, set September 1, 2011 as the deadline for a new CBA to take effect as of March 1, 2012, and move on from there.

She further ruled, “The public ramifications of this dispute exceed the abstract principles of the antitrust laws, as professional football involves many layers of tangible economic impact, ranging from broadcast revenues down to concessions sales…And, of course, the public interest represented by the fans of professional football—who have a strong investment in the 2011 season—is an intangible interest that weighs against the lockout. In short, this particular employment dispute is far from a purely private argument over compensation.”

In this passage, it’s clear Judge Nelson understands that the lockout could eventually impact everything from TV contracts, employment of full-time and seasonal staff, and ‘psychic income’.

Aside from the media and concessions revenues, it’s clear she recognizes the social and cultural importance of the sport.  Its power as a common identification symbol.  An entity which creates ‘psychic income’ that one doesn’t assign with your typical Fortune 500 company or major industry.

PLAYERS’ GAMEPLAN WORKING THUS FAR

The players are the ones used to having a gameplan handed to them which they must learn and execute.  So it seems fitting that, to this point, the players’ legal gameplan seems to be working beautifully.

Recall that, with the expectation of getting locked out, the NFLPA had to decertify before the lock out was imposed so that they would be able to more expeditiously address the collective negotiations with owners in court.

Given that the courts – based on Judge David Doty’s precedent – were likely to be ‘pro-player’, decertification was the best strategy for players to follow.  They knew NFL owners were hell-bent to lock them out and blow-up the current economic structure of the NFL.

In the courts, it would appear that the owners may find very little sympathy for their arguments given the profitability of the league, most teams within the league, and the relative wealth position of the owners compared to the average player as cited above.

The owners best hope in these labor wars was for player fragmentation.  Keep the issue in the courts long enough and close enough to the beginning of the regular season that the ‘rank-and-file’ non-millionaire players start getting nervous and itching to strike an inferior deal.

Some rumored that this was in the midst of happening as recently as last week, though it appears now that these reports were overblown.

In late February it was U.S. District Judge David Doty (who has presided over cases involving the NFL, the NFL Players Association and the collective bargaining agreement for nearly two decades) who ruled that the NFL would not have complete access to $4 billion in television revenue during a lockout.

Strike 1 for the owners.

Now Judge Nelson has ruled for the lockout to be lifted.  Strike 2.

Though the owners have brilliant lawyers, access to an appeals process, and the hope of ‘player fragmentation’ on their side, perhaps it’s time for them to ‘play ball’ in order to avoid ‘Strike 3′.

In other words, realize that ’sunk costs’ are indeed ’sunk’ , suck up their overblown bellies and pride, and get back to some meaningful negotiations rather than playing a legal game of ”Doe-See-Doe”.

Unfortunately, as much as I’d like that to happen for all the reasons Judge Nelson so eloquently articulated, these negotiations are ’hard-ball’ not ’slow-pitch’.

For football fans, this process is going to feel like a late-night extra innings affair.  Like an NHL playoff multi-overtime game that seemingly has no end.

But if the players can avoid fragmentation, the rulings of Judges Doty and Nelson will ultimately pave the road to legal victory over the NFL owners.

By Patrick Rishe (Forbes)

Netflix: Bigger than cable?


Netflix knocked over a new milestone Monday: It now has more subscribers than the largest cable TV operator in the U.S.

Netflix’s global subscriber base grew almost 70% over the past year, to 23.6 million users. With that audience, it dethroned Comcast (CMCSA, Fortune 500) as the country’s biggest provider of subscription video content. More than 7% of Americans now subscribe to Netflix.

Those details came out Monday in Netflix’s (NFLX) first-quarter report, in which the company reported earnings of of $60.2 million, or $1.11 a share. That’s up from $32 million, or 59 cents a share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 46% to $719 million. Both figures topped Wall Street estimates, but shares fell 2.5% in after-hours trade on light forecasts for the second quarter.

Netflix said it expects earnings of 93 cents to $1.15 a share for the second quarter, lower than analysts’ forecasts.

When you’re a giant, growth gets harder.

Netflix said in its release that it expects subscriber growth to continue at a rapid clip for the rest of the year, but it warned that year-ago comparisons will get tougher in the coming quarters.

The release also noted the emergence of new, competing services Hulu Plus Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) Prime.

0:00 /3:42Why Netflix avoids new movies

More content: Netflix is hoping to combat increased competition with more unique content. Last month, the company announced it had bought its first original show: “House of Cards,” featuring Kevin Spacey.

“This represents slightly greater creative risk than we’ve taken in the past, but we think it’s reasonable given the popularity of the original BBC show,” Netflix said Monday in a “letter to shareholders” released alongside its earnings report.

Netflix will consider the buy a success “if ‘House of Cards’ is popular enough on Netflix so that the fee we’ve paid is in line with that of other equally popular content on Netflix at the time,” Hastings wrote in the letter.

The company said it hopes to “license two or three similar, but smaller deals” in the future.

Netflix has also brokered deals with networks and studios. In its earnings release, the company admitted its recent deal with CBS “includes only a few on-air shows at present” — but it also makes Netflix the only online subscription service to offer shows from all four broadcast networks.

International concerns: Netflix launched in Canada late last year, and it ended the first quarter of 2011 with about 800,000 Canadian subscribers — lower than the company had forecast.

“We are still learning the seasonality curve and nuances specific to Canada,” Netflix said in its release.

The company had previously said it expected $50 million in operating losses in the second half of the year for the international sector. Now, it forecasts $50 to $70 million in losses — “which we are comfortable with given the size of the opportunity.”

On a post-earnings conference call, many analysts’ questions revolved around the situation in Canada. Hastings shrugged off most of the queries, saying “it takes time” to develop accurate data and forecast correctly in a new region.

Hastings also said developing apps for Google’s (GOOG, Fortune 500) Android operating system is “a big priority,” but he wouldn’t comment further on a timeline.

Source: CNN Money

The Borgia’s Episode 1


This showtime production is based off of the religious institutions of the time. You can learn plenty on organization management, culture creation, etc.

Julian Day’s Radio Shack Turnaround Has Been A Failure


Five years ago Julian Day showed up at RadioShack, a rock star CEO ready to perform his turnaround magic on the struggling electronics retailer that was quickly becoming irrelevant. Known as a cost cutter, the former investment banker had helped revive Safeway while chief financial officer of the company. He had taken over as chief executive of Kmart Holdings when the discount retailer was in bankruptcy court in 2003 and presided over a stunning reemergence.

But after five years in Fort Worth, Tex., Day is leaving behind a mess. RadioShack today posted a 30% drop in first quarter earnings and its partnership with T-Mobile has been a disaster, leaving the company with uncompetitive product offerings and a contract dispute. The company also cut its revenue forecasts today. Day’s five-year contract with RadioShack expires this year and his last day with the company will be May 16.

Day has done things his way at RadioShack. He presided over the firing of hundreds of employees who were told about their job losses via email. He also mostly ditched quarterly earnings conference calls, analyst meetings and press interviews. But he could not find a way to offset competition from big retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart, which offered one-stop shopping and deep discounts.

Still, Day has done pretty well for himself. He has received $21.4 million in cash and exercisable options for his five years at RadioShack. He would have taken home much more had he been able to sell the company, whichDay seemed close to doing last year. It looks like he will still, however, be able to afford those $5,000 suits

Source: Forbes

Tyler Perry vs. Spike Lee


Tyler Perry is not only opening his latest film Madea’s Big Happy Family, he is also opening up about unbalanced criticism from the media and fellow filmmaker Spike Lee.

Back in 2009, Mr. Lee shared his thoughts on the “complex subject” of Tyler Perry’s Madea films and television shows. Lee acknowledged Perry’s accomplishment, but he cautioned the filmmaker and audience against promoting what he considers stereotypes of black people.

Back then Lee acknowledged that regardless of his opinion or anybody else’s, those alleged stereotypes resonate with audiences and have reaped box-office gold for Perry. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Perry weighs in on Lee’s criticism:

This is where the whole Spike Lee [thing] comes from — the negativity, this is Stepin Fetchit, this is coonery, this is buffoonery, and they try to get people to get on this bandwagon with them, to get this mob mentality to come against what I’m doing. I’ve never seen Jewish people attack Seinfeld and say ‘this is a stereotype,’ I’ve never seen Italian people attack The Sopranos, I’ve never seen Jewish people complaining about Mrs. Doubtfire or Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. I never saw it. It’s always black people, and this is something that I cannot undo. Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois went through the exact same thing; Langston Hughes said that Zora Neale Hurston, the woman who wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God, was a new version of the darkie because she spoke in a southern dialect and a Southern tone.

Perry is correct. Black celebrities criticizing other black celebrities in the public sphere is nothing new. In fact, hip-hop has built an international industry out of black-on-black beef. At times it would seem there is no pleasing the black peanut gallery. Back in the ’90s The Cosby Show wasn’t authentic blackness. Now, Tyler Perry’s southern grandmama Madea isn’t authentic blackness. And it’s not just among black entertainers that these imbroglios take place. Years ago Salma Hayek made disparaging remarks about Jennifer Lopez for not speaking Spanish and therefore not being an authentic “Latino-ness.”

Now it could be that black people tend to have a much harder time coming to solidarity than civil rights newsreels would have you believe. This isn’t the first public feud this month between two black icons. If you haven’t seen Dr. Cornel West and Rev. Al Sharpton exchange strong words on MSNBC’s The Black Agenda, you should catch it online.

Maybe there is more competitiveness amongst black people due to limited resources and opportunity; or maybe, the reason you don’t hear Jewish entertainers criticizing other Jewish entertainers is simply because the media isn’t asking them to weigh in on one another’s work.

Nevertheless, the cry from minority entertainers for “authentic” representation has a tendency, in itself, to be bigoted. The criticism seems to suggest that minorities are monolithic and that there is no spectrum when it comes to the minority experience. There are actually black people that can distinctly relate to Madea’s family. Just as there are black people and otherwise that can distinctly relate to the Cosby family; and the characters that Jennifer Lopez has played; and the characters that Selma Hayek has played. There is room for all these portrayals and then some.

The problem and the solution to minority representation in Hollywood lies in the “then some,” in the variety of choices available to the public. In that context, Spike Lee is right too. The frustration with black images in Hollywood becomes valid because there are so few images out there to choose from. I have given up on ever seeing a portrayal of myself on screen.

Minorities on the big screen tend to be represented by stereotypes. There is no Asian leading man who doesn’t know kung fu in Hollywood films. You’d have to consult IMDB to find films, especially comedies, featuring moderate Muslims or contemporary Native Americans. In my experience, no one in Hollywood has any interest in changing this status quo.

The common thinking in the industry is the absence of cultural diversity in films is due, predominantly, to the lack of box-office potential. There is no international market for English-speaking Asians, Native Americans and moderate Muslims. India, China, Japan, the Middle East all have their own booming film markets where Asians speak their own languages and play dramatic rolls that don’t involve self-effacing humor or martial arts; and religious Muslim culture is revered and respected.

The international market is also the reason Hollywood gives for not seeking black films that don’t star Will Smith or Denzel Washington. It’s true. I’ve seen the numbers. There aren’t so many movie theaters in Africa and piracy is a real problem throughout the continent. The African Diaspora is so diverse, Europe and Britain’s immigrant groups from all over Africa and the West Indies may have a harder time relating to the distinct Southern American culture presented in Perry’s Madea franchise. And this disconnect goes both ways. How popular with African Americans was the BBC/HBO series No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency starring Jill Scott as a Botswanian private investigator? Not popular enough to keep it on the air after just one season. At the end of the day, Hollywood seems to assert that the world doesn’t embrace cultural diversity or cultural stereotypes — depending on how you see it, as much as we would all like to believe.

I think both Spike Lee and Tyler Perry have contributed excellent work to the world that has been groundbreaking, thought provoking and entertaining. They have each brought their distinct style to the big screen. They are different, but that’s entirely positive. Instead of this conflict, it would be more encouraging to see them join forces and build up 40 Acres and Tyler Perry Studios. It would be nice to see them doing more to seek out new screenwriters, new producers and new investors to create new material.

We have the acting talent in spades. Halle Berry, Idris Elba, Rosario Dawson, Don Cheadle and so forth should be working more. We need minority talent behind the camera to make that happen. We need minority talent behind the camera so that new filmmakers, like Perry and Lee once were, don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time they want to make a film with and about minorities. We need this sort of minority talent to help diversify the choices out there to appeal to a broader spectrum of audiences. For the limitation is in the choices not in either filmmaker.

Vanessa Carmichael’s debut novel Blockbuster will be released this summer. Blockbuster is a fictional tale of life behind-the-scenes of Hollywood, where the treacherous business of show business meets the rarefied world of celebrity.

Source: Huffington Post

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