DreamWorks Animation Focused on Finding Distribution Partner

by Georg Szalai
UPDATED: CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg says that self-distribution is "not something that we are pursuing" right now and that a possible DWA channel is part of the distribution talks.

DreamWorks Animation is focusing on finding a studio distribution partner over self-distributing its movies in the future, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said on the studio's earnings conference call Tuesday.

And he said that some of the distribution talks have involved discussions about a potential branded DWA channel.

DWA's current distribution deal with Viacom's Paramount Pictures  expires at the end of the year, and the firm continues to explore its options.

"Right now, our expectation is that our distribution will be handled by a major," he said. "We will not be handling that independently."

The company previously said it was eyeing self-distribution arrangements. But right now, "that is not something that we are pursuing," Katzenberg said.

Asked by an analyst if the agreement to acquire Classic Media affected the focus, he said: "We would have the [financial capacity] to do it…Classic Media did not take that option off the table for us."

Early in the call, Katzenberg had said that discussions about a distribution deal were ongoing with "multiple studios." He didn't mention names of possible studio partners. Sony Pictures and Fox have been mentioned as possible suitors.

He said he had no plans to discuss the issue further on the call, but reiterated the plan was to share more details about any decision by Labor Day.

Katzenberg did, however, later in the call say that his company continues to be "in aggressive exploration" of a possible branded DWA family channel, which could be a cable or digital channel "with both domestic and international reach." That has also been part of conversations with potential distribution partners, he said.  

"The brand has really begun to come into its own and has real value," Katzenberg explained the reason for exploring a network.

Dennis Miller Radio: Interview Clips - And on the Bongos...Marlon Brando!

Dennis Miller Radio: Interview Clips - And on the Bongos...Marlon Brando!

Michael Weatherly Surprised by 'NCIS''s Long Run

NCIS is set to air its tenth season this fall, and if you can't believe that it has been nearly 10 years since the crime drama first aired, you're not alone. Michael Weatherly, who, alongside Mark Harmon, Pauley Perrette, and David McCallum, has been with the show since its inception, revealed to ET that he never could have anticipated the show to have such great success.

"No one goes into a TV pilot anticipating that ten years later they're going to be sitting down and talking about [it]," Weatherly said. "I think that this has become something that we are all really grateful for and we love, but...I think it's a surprise to all of us."

The show's previous season ended with an explosive episode that left viewers with many unanswered questions. To the relief of fans, Weatherly revealed that the upcoming Season 10 premiere will address the cliffhangers right away.

"It's all dealt with in the opening moments of the season premiere and it's a huge season premiere," he said, then teasing upcoming scenes. "I just finished shooting scenes with Cote de Pablo where we're trapped in an elevator together--very sticky situation--and...I required the services of a stunt double."

The 44-year-old who plays the role of "Tony DiNozzo" on NCIS said that the show's upcoming tenth season may just be its best.

"I think this could be the best season we ever do because...we've hit the ground running, things feel very connected and very solid, [and there is] great storytelling," he evaluated. "It's too early to really call it but it feels like a winning season."

After nine completed seasons, the writers are faced with the challenge of keeping the material fresh and appealing, a task that Weatherly says they have already achieved by keeping the content realistic.

"Being honest about how we all grow and change is a really important aspect of the story," he said.

NCIS's Season 10 will premiere on September 25 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Breaking: CNN’s Jim Walton Resigns

By Betsy Rothstein on July 27, 2012 11:37 AMCNN President Jim Walton, who has been with the company for 30 years, has announced that he’s resigning. He will remain with the network until the end of the year.

“CNN needs new thinking,” Walton wrote in a note to staff this morning. “I have interests to explore, I need to give myself time to do [them].”

See various quotes and his note after the jump…

From CNN PR: Jim Walton told the CNN organization today that he will step down as president of CNN Worldwide at the end of this year.  He will continue in his current role until that time.  Jim’s decision has the support and respect of Turner Broadcasting CEO Phil Kent.  Phil will lead the search for Jim’s successor. Employee note from Jim Walton is below as well as statements from Phil Kent and Jeff Bewkes.

Jim Walton note to staff:

After more than 30 years at this company and nearly 10 years as the leader of this great news organization, I have decided to leave my role at CNN on December 31, 2012.

For some time, I’ve been talking with Phil Kent about wanting to make a change, and he supports my decision. I’ve told Phil that I will cooperate with any transition timeline that he and Time Warner want to implement.  Phil requested that I work out the year and be available after that if needed, which I’ve agreed to do.

I am proud of what we have accomplished together over these last 10 years – innovative programming, the development of great talent in front of and behind the cameras, expansion in digital and mobile, significant investment and expansion in international coverage, financial success and, most importantly, great and trusted journalism.  Thank you for the role you have played in our successes.

CNN needs new thinking.  That starts with a new leader who brings a different perspective, different experiences and a new plan, one who will build on our great foundation and will commit to seeing it through.  And I’m ready for a change.  I have interests to explore and I want to give myself time to do it.

The next few months will be filled with election news and other important events that will require all of our focus to report the news with the quality and expertise the world expects of CNN.  I look forward to working alongside each of you, as I have over the past 30-plus years, to do just that.


Phil Kent quote:

Jim is the leader we all aspire to be: Smart and steady, tough and fair, business-savvy and respected by his team, and with a track record of great judgment when it matters most.  His vision has modernized and globalized our legacy news brand, enhanced CNN’s journalistic standing, positioned it at the forefront of multi-platform branded news content and challenged the organization to think bigger, reach further and do better.  I am honored to work alongside him and proud to call him my friend.

Phil Kent

Chairman and CEO, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.

Jeff Bewkes quote:

When Jim Walton assumed the presidency of CNN in 2003, it was underperforming and earnings were in serious decline.  Since then, he and CNN have tripled earnings, doubled margin and delivered annual growth of 15 percent.  In his nearly 31 years of uninterrupted and distinguished service to CNN, Jim has been instrumental in growing the business into the financial powerhouse it has become, while establishing the brand as the worldwide leader for television news.  I respect him personally and professionally and support the decision he and Phil Kent have reached.

Jeff Bewkes

Chairman and CEO, Time Warner Inc.

George Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley) Dead at 74

Another African American entertainer has passed away in 2012. 

According to TMZ:
Sherman Hemsley, the actor who made the character George Jefferson famous in “The Jeffersons,” has died, El Paso cops tell TMZ.
Hemsley died at his home in El Paso, Texas. 
Hemsley, who was 74, became famous during his appearances on “All in the Family.”  The spin-off, “The Jeffersons” was a monster hit.  He also starred in the TV show, “Amen.”  He was also a professional singer and even released the single in 1989, “Ain’t that A Kick in the Head.”
Hemsley had no wife and no kids.
It’s unclear how he died.

Potential link between 'Dark Knight' film and theater massacre probed

Christian Bale as Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises."
With the deadly shooting in Aurora, Colo., inside a packed movie theater showing "The Dark Knight Rises," questions are being raised as to whether there is any connection between the killings and the movie's plot and the character of Batman.
In "The Dark Knight Rises," a masked villain leads a murderous crew into a packed football stadium and wages an attack involving guns and explosives.
It's just one of the more haunting scenes in what was one of the most anticipated movies of the summer, if not the year.
It's unclear whether the shooter's motives had any specific link to "The Dark Knight Rises." The shooting happened at 12:30, not far into the midnight screening that marked the film's opening day.
Violent attacks on the public by villains are key components of most superhero movies, including "The Avengers" and "The Amazing Spider-man," both in theaters now. By Hollywood standards, the Batman movies are more grim than bloody.
AP Tom Sullivan, center, stands with family members outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning.
But there are general parallels to the Colorado shooting, "The Dark Knight" and the comic book character:
— Bruce Wayne's drive to become Batman arose from witnessing the deaths of his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, at the hands of small-time criminal Joe Chill, who shot and killed them after they had left a movie theater.
— The Batman video game called "Arkham City" takes place in an abandoned movie theatre (The Monarch, outside of which Bruce Wayne's parents were killed).
— In the third issue of DC Comics' "Batman: The Dark Knight," a gritty retooling of the Batman character that was written by Frank Miller in the 1980s, the Joker kills an entire late-night TV audience with gas.
—In the same book, a man starts shooting up a porn theater after getting fired from his job.
— "The Dark Knight Rises" features at least two scenes where unsuspecting people are attacked in a public venue: the stock exchange and a football stadium.
"The Dark Knight Rises" director Christopher Nolan released a statement Friday night saying, "I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community."
"The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families."

Happy Birthday Mr. Robin Williams!

We know he was born in 1951, in Chicago. Fact. GOLDEN GLOBE Awards? Four wins. Fact. The rest of his story is a bit murkier. Say, did you know that volcanic energy could come with a soft touch? And when was he noticed worldwide first? Maybe with the TV show Mork & Mindy, maybe when he yelled Good Morning, Vietnam or when he instructed his little poets to seize the day. To the younger generations he is probably best known for his work as the voice of the Genie, in Aladdin, or for the subtle comedic turn in the TV show Wilfred. Truth is, the actor has been tickling imaginations non-stop, sometimes dressed as Mrs Doubtfire, sometimes undressed in Central Park like a free spirit in the company of the Fisher King. No matter the date of the eruption, we've all had the pleasure of knowing him through his work. So, the sentiment on this side is only one: we're seriously wishing you a Happy Birthday, Mr. Robin Williams.

Rupert Murdoch steps down from NI boards

Rupert Murdoch's grip on UK newspapers is loosening "finger by finger", as he resigns string of directorships.

Rupert Murdoch has resigned as a director of a string of companies behind The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, fuelling expectations that he is preparing to sell the newspaper group.

Companies House filings show that Mr Murdoch stepped down from the boards of the NI Group, Times Newspaper Holdings and News Corp Investments in the UK last week. He also quit a number of News Corp’s US boards, the details of which have yet to be disclosed by the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

News Corporation played down the significance of the resignations as “nothing more than a corporate housecleaning exercise prior to the company split”.

The media giant took a similar line when James Murdoch resigned a string of directorships at News International last November, pouring cold water on suggestions that he was walking away from the UK newspaper arm. He quit as chairman three months later.

News Corporation has already said it will split into two separately listed companies, distancing its embattled newspaper and book publishing interests from its rapidly growing film and television operations, which account for nearly 90pc of News Corp’s $4.2bn (£2.7bn) annual revenues.
    Mr Murdoch has repeatedly insisted that he remains committed to the UK newspaper business. He vowed at the time of the announcement to remain a “very active chairman” of the publishing business. But his surprise resignation of directorships on both sides of the Atlantic has raised expectations that he is gearing up to sever all ties with the company.

    Splitting News Corp would also put some much-needed distance between its film and television assets and the newspaper business, whose reputation is threatening the whole News Corp empire.

    Claire Enders at Enders Analysis said Mr Murdoch’s resignations were part of the “slow fade of Rupert and James from the UK” that began last year and will be “complete and permanent”. “The grip of the Murdochs, finger by finger, has been loosened and it’s not in order to return triumphantly. It’s a permanent shift.

    “James and Rupert have decided that they are not welcome in the UK, and they’re right. there is an enforced emotional withdrawal from these assets because they are no longer useful [in terms of influence]," she said.

    Sources close to News Corp say that its executives have discussed the possibility that, after the split, the Murdochs could sell down their stake in the publishing division altogether and use the equity to help fund a leveraged buyout of the film and entertainment division.

    It is unclear whether the business still plans to pursue this course of action, but doing so would allow Mr Murdoch to shake off shareholder pressures and revive a long-held plan eventually to appoint his son James Murdoch as his successor.

    However, some analysts claim that News Corp investors want the Murdochs to buy the publishing assets outright

    UPDATE: Warner Bros & Filmmakers “Deeply Saddened” By Colorado Shooting


    Warner Bros Dark Knight Rises ShootingUPDATE: It turns out that Time Warner sent Deadline its Warner Bros statement before Christopher Nolan had a chance to vet it. Therefore the studio has issued Deadline a new statement making clear that “Warner Bros and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about the shocking” Aurora movie theater shooting. The studio just cancelled tonight’s The Dark Knight Rises movie premiere in Paris as well as for all French press interviews for director Christopher Nolan and stars Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, and Morgan Freeman (who have not commented on the tragedy). Here’s the new Warner Bros’ and filmmakers’ statement:

        “Warner Bros. and the filmmakers are deeply saddened to learn about this
        shocking incident. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims at this tragic time.”

    'Finding Nemo 2' Finds its Director

    The follow-up to Finding Nemo is finally coming together, with original director Andrew Stanton returning to helm the sequel to his huge Disney-Pixar underwater hit.

    According to The Hollywood Reporter, it looks like the Mouse House is willing to overlook Stanton's recent live-action box-office flop, John Carter, and give him an opportunity to return to safer waters with Finding Nemo 2, tentatively scheduled for a 2016 release date. Screenwriter Victoria Strouse will pen the script, with Lindsey Collins producing.

    The 2003 Finding Nemo won the Oscar for Best Animated Picture, and is set for a big-screen re-release in 3D September 14.

    News Corp. Donates $20 Million to the Motion Picture & Television Fund

    by Gregg Kilday
    The contribution goes toward the $350 million fundraising campaign that begun earlier this year.

    News Corp. is donating $20 million to the Motion Picture & Television Fund, the charitable organization that cares for workers in the entertainment industry.

    In announcing the donation, Rupert Murdoch, News Corp. chairman and CEO, said, “The MPTF is vital to the long-term health of the entertainment industry and provides crucial support to many valued members of the creative community. I’m so pleased we can play a role in its ongoing success and hope that this commitment will spur others within the entertainment community to get involved and join this important mission.”

    “Rupert Murdoch has been a major donor to MPTF for nearly twenty years. He was one of the first people I approached when I became involved as Chairman of the MPTF Foundation in 1991. He said yes then and has never stopped, and now this incredible commitment from News Corporation is the ultimate expression of generosity,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, chairman of the MPTF Campaign as he announced the contribution Wednesday along with Michael Douglas, MPTF Foundation committee member.

    The MPTF, which runs a nursing home facility in Woodland Hills among its other activities, announced a $350 million fund-raising campaign in February. Last month, Barry Diller, chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp., and his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg made a $30 million contribution through their family foundation.

    The $350 million campaign is focused on meeting the needs of current industry workers as well as current and future retirees with charitable programs and services ranging from financial assistance for rent, mortgage, food and healthcare crises to counseling and health care support for uninsured and underinsured members of the entertainment community through a new MPTF program called Bridge to Health.

    MPTF president and CEO Bob Beitcher said of the latest donation, “Everyone knows the unpredictable nature of working in the entertainment industry and the needs that can arise as a result.  MPTF is only able to continue to provide a safety net because of generous donations and the gift from News Corporation is extraordinary and will surely impact thousands of lives for years to come.”

    Jeff Daniels: Anchoring The Cast Of 'The Newsroom'

    Aaron Sorkin's new HBO drama The Newsroom revolves around Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), a popular cable-news anchor floating happily along with his nightly newscast, which does well in the ratings but doesn't tend to delve into anything that could offend or alienate anyone.
    After McAvoy has a public meltdown at a university lecture, he's put on a three-week hiatus by his boss (Sam Waterston). During McAvoy's time off, his staff defects and a new executive producer named Mackenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer) is hired to take the helm of McAvoy's show.
    But there's a back story: McHale and McAvoy used to date years ago, and now McHale wants to shake things up, with a new show anchored by McAvoy that tackles real hard-hitting news stories and calls out those who don't tell the truth.
    It's a typical Sorkin drama, complete with fast-paced dialogue, witty storylines and top-name actors, including Daniels, the star of such films as Dumb and Dumber, The Purple Rose of Cairo and The Squid and the Whale.
    Daniels, who calls himself a political news junkie, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he started watching cable news during the 2000 presidential election, and now has even a greater understanding for how the shows run by news anchors work.
    "There's certainly an awareness of what these guys do, and what they do well," he says, "when they really earn their money — breaking news, and being able to stay on the air and cover things and just keep talking — and to do it in a way that's factual without diving too deep into speculation."
    In an early episode, Daniels' character calls out other news anchors for their willingness to play to their base and spin stories to attract ratings instead of reporting on actual news and events. That's something Sorkin feels very strongly about, says Daniels.
    "Aaron will tell you that he's an idealist, he's a romantic, and he thinks there is a place for truth in journalism — and there is a place for ideals," he says.
    Daniels describes being on set at The Newsroom as like being thrown "into the middle of a six-lane highway." There were HBO cameras filming newsroom cameras which were filming Daniels, who also had a series of TV monitors behind him.
    "You're sitting right in the middle of it in a chair, and the traffic is going all around you on all sides," he says. "You understand how to do it, you get better at it, but I got an awareness and admiration for the guys who do that on a nightly basis who are able to keep [everything] straight and know where to look and where the guest is and which screen to go to and read the teleprompter."
    Working with Sorkin has been especially gratifying for Daniels, a huge fan of Sorkin's drama The West Wing.
    "When I met Aaron, I told him not only did I watch The West Wing, but when it went into syndication on Bravo, I would watch each episode two or three times just to see the mechanics of how he puts a story together," he says. "He knows how to do that. The great ones do."
    On the teleprompter tips he received from a local news anchor near his home in Michigan
    "He said, 'Look right in the middle, and out of the corner of your eye, read from left to right, but try to look right down the middle of that prompter and it won't look like your eyes are going left to right, left to right.' "
    On how being on a fictional cable-news show helped his own understanding of cable news

    We all can become anybody. Actors are just given the tools on how to draw that out and become someone else. It's kind of legalized schizophrenia.

    - Jeff Daniels
    "When they get their 'go-to' guests, you almost know what they're going to say before they say it. But when they get that new guy — that rogue guest who comes in and goes off message, which allows a Chris Matthews or a Sean Hannity to come in and pounce, I can see it in their eyes. It's interesting to know pretty much what's being whispered in their ear by their producer in the middle of an interview — to know when they go off on Sarah Palin, depending on which show you're watching, that's either going to be good for ratings or bad for ratings. It's almost like science or math, the way these folks approach it."
    On who Aaron Sorkin based the drama on specifically
    "He certainly knows Keith [Olbermann]. He knows Chris Matthews. Larry O'Donnell was a consultant on The West Wing. And certainly the producers did a lot of research hanging out scouting the CNN newsroom to get a set replica. But when they brought me on, no one ever dropped a name saying, 'Him. Follow him. Be him.' It was more, 'Let's create our own guy and see if we can't fictionalize somebody.' "
    On Sorkin's dialogue
    "If you do it at the proper pace, it sings. It's like a verbal car chase. This isn't an action series; we're not pulling guns on each other or having cars come around corners. But we go after each other, and when done properly and at the right pace, it can be very compelling — almost like an action sequence."
    On acting
    "We all can become anybody. Actors are just given the tools on how to draw that out and become someone else. It's kind of legalized schizophrenia."
    I love that on 'Fresh Air' with Terry Gross we're talking about 'Dumb and Dumber.'

    - Jeff Daniels
    On the infamous toilet scene in 'Dumb and Dumber'
    "I love that on Fresh Air we're talking about Dumb and Dumber. ... Certainly the toilet scene was a challenge. As I told the director, 'This is either the beginning of my career or the end of it.' I think the actual act of what happens on the toilet, I think they had cut it down to 30 seconds, but there were takes that were two, two-and-a-half minutes long of just pure agony. ... There were times, I think there's one close-up where I'm pushing so hard that I almost passed out. I almost fell off the toilet. And I'm pretty sure they used that shot. The career was at a crossroads when that scene was finished."
    On living in Michigan
    "We wanted to raise our kids in a place we understood. And that made me get on that airplane and take red-eyes back and forth every two weeks or so. It made me spread the career around to supporting roles and get off the Oscar trail of trying to become the biggest star in the history of stars. Family just became more important. The career was second — it was a close second, but it was second."

    Indy Film Fest: A weekend of film Making Seminars!

    Ray Mills: Founder & Director at Middlewest Film Institute has announced a series of valuable seminars geared towards filmmakers this weekend. These seminars will cover everything the filmmaker needs to know about making their film a success.

    Indie Filmmaking from Start to Finish
    Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 11:00am
    Filmmakers Andie Redwine & Storme Wood will guide you through the creation of a successful indie film from the initial idea through the final product. Andie & Storm's award-winning film PARADISE RECOVERED played at 20 festivals over the 2010-2011 festival season and was just released by Monarch Home Entertainment on DVD, Blue-Ray and VOD. Andie is an Indiana based filmmaker and the film was shot in Bloomington, IN and Austin, TX.

    Horror Stories from the Frontlines of Filmmaking
    Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 1:00pm
    So you want to make a movie, huh? Listen to these tales from a wide variety of filmmakers who found out the hard way how hard filmmaking can actually be! Hopefully their stories will help you avoid some of the horrors and pitfalls that await you when you decide to step behind the camera.

    Meet the Filmmakers
    Saturday, July 21, 2012 at 2:30pm

    The Indie Film Fest presents films from all corners of the globe and we're fortunate to host some of them among us. Join us to meet and mingle with filmmakers who have joined us at the fest!

    Casting the Critical Eye
    Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 1:00pm

    Step into the mind of a critic and find out what they are thinking about as they watch your favorite films. Critics on the panel include Edward Johnson-Ott (NUVO), Matt Socey (WFYI) & Christopher Lloyd (The Film Yap)

    Show Me the Money: Funding Your Filmmaking
    Sunday, July 22, 2012 at 2:30pm
    Fundraising is probably the most daunting task for the indie filmaker. Come hear from those who have successfully funded their filmmaking efforts and get some insight on how to handle the money once you have raised it.

    The Sound of Music: Film Music Licensing
    Monday, July 23, 2012 at 6:00pm
    Hear about the ins and outs of music licensing from an entertainment lawyer, an artist representative and others before you add the latest track from Gotye, Nicki Minaj or even your favorite local band to your soundtrack without permission.

    Indinapolis Museum of Art
    4000 Michagan Road,
    Indianapolis, Indiana 46208

    For more information contact:

    Microsoft, NBC dissolve MSNBC.com joint venture

    AP Technology Writer
    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Microsoft is pulling out of the joint venture that owned MSNBC.com, freeing the world's largest software maker to build its own online news service.
    The breakup announced late Sunday dissolves the final shreds of a 16-year marriage between Microsoft Corp. and NBC News, which is now owned by Comcast Corp. The relationship began to unwind in 2005 when Microsoft sold its stake in MSNBC's cable TV channel to NBC.
    Terms of the deal weren't revealed. The New York Times cited unnamed people knowledgeable about the deal who said Microsoft will receive about $300 million for in exchange for its 50 percent stake in the joint venture.
    MSNBC.com has been rebranded as NBCNews.com. Anyone typing MSNBC.com into a Web browser is now being automatically redirected to NBCNews.com.
    The website will move its headquarters from Microsoft's corporate campus in Redmond, Wash., to NBC News' longtime home in New York.
    The online divorce stemmed from the two partners' desire to gain greater control over their digital destinies as the Internet becomes an increasingly important part of their businesses.
    The inherent constraints of being locked into a joint venture sometimes handcuffed Microsoft and NBC.
    Microsoft, in particular, had grown frustrated by contract terms requiring it to exclusively feature MSNBC.com content on its own websites. That exasperation was exacerbated by the MSNBC cable channel's strategy to counter Fox News Channel's appeal to conservative viewers by tailoring its programming for an audience with a liberal viewpoint.
    The strategy fed a perception that material from MSNBC's website was politically slanted, too.
    "Being limited to MSNBC.com content was problematic to us because we couldn't have the multiple news sources and the multiple perspectives that our users were telling us that they wanted," said Bob Visse, general manager of Microsoft's MSN portal and a board member of the former MSNBC joint venture.
    Now that it has shed those shackles, Microsoft is preparing to launch its own news service this fall. Although he declined to provide many details about the operation, Visse said the news staff will be about the same size as the roughly 100 people who created original content for the former MSNBC.com.
    By hiring its own news staff to feed material to its websites, Microsoft is embracing the same strategy as the owners of two other major Internet companies, Yahoo Inc. and AOL Inc.
    Microsoft has leaned on its lucrative franchise selling personal computer software to finance massive Internet investments that have rarely paid off, much to the frustration of its shareholders. The software maker initially invested $220 million in the MSNBC joint venture. It's unclear if Microsoft ended up making any money on the alliance. As a whole, the company's online operations, which include the Bing search engine and MSN portal, have lost more than $10 billion in the past seven years.
    Even as it sets out to compete against NBC News, Microsoft will continue to highlight the top stories from its former partner for the next two years under terms of the split.
    NBC News, in turn, believes it will be able to attract more traffic to its stable of websites by forging other partnerships that were off-limits when it was tied to Microsoft.
    "There is no question that we are going to have more flexibility to make our own decisions," said Vivian Schiller, NBC News' chief digital officer. "This is really an amicable breakup. We think competition will make us better."
    MSNBC.com and its affiliated sites ranked as the Internet's fourth most popular site for general news in the U.S., with nearly 50 million visitors in June, up 5 percent from last year, according to the research firm comScore Inc.
    Yahoo's recently formed alliance with ABC News topped the charts with 81 million visitors, followed by AOL/Huffington Post, and CNN.
    As part of its online restructuring, NBC News plans to create a new online destination for the MSNBC cable channel's personalities next year.
    Although it will be based in New York, NBCNews.com will retain a significant staff in the Seattle area, according to Schiller. About 170 of MSNBC.com's 300 employees worked in the Seattle area.
    Microsoft is letting NBCNews.com remain in its Redmond office while it looks for a new location in the area.

    Oscar-Winner Celeste Holm Passes Away at 95

    Celeste Holm, who was best known for her Academy-Award-winning performance in the 1947 film Gentleman's Agreement, passed away on Sunday at the age of 95, according to the Associated Press.

    The actress who rose to fame in 1943 after her critically acclaimed role in the Broadway production of Oklahoma! had been hospitalized two weeks ago with dehydration and wanted to spend her final days with her husband and other relatives in her New York apartment, where she passed away early Sunday morning.

    "I think she wanted to be here, in her home, among her things, with people who loved her," Holm's great-niece Amy Phillips said.

    In addition to receiving an Oscar for Gentleman's Agreement, Holms also received Oscar nominations for Come to the Stable (1949), in which she played a French nun, and All About Eve (1950), which was among the first 50 films to be preserved in the U.S. National Film Registry.

    Beyond acting, the New York native was also known for her commitment to charity work, and was also appointed to National Council on the Arts by President Ronald Reagan in 1982.
    Holm first married in 1936 at age 19 with fellow showbiz man Ralph Nelson, but the couple divorced three years later. After two more short-lived marriages, Holm married actor Wesley Addy, with whom she remained for three decades until his death in 1996.

    She is survived by her two sons, three grandchildren, and her husband, Frank Basile, a man over 45 years her minor who she married in 2004.

    Holm, who acted in multitudes of films and television shows over the years, was asked in her seventies if she ever thought of retiring.

    "No. What for?" she replied. "If people retired, we wouldn't have had Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, John Gielgud...I think it's very important to hang on as long as we can."

    Richard Zanuck, Producer of Blockbusters, Dies at 77

    Richard D. Zanuck, the once-spurned son of the legendary Hollywood producer Darryl F. Zanuck who carved out his own career as a frequently honored producer, running up more than $2 billion in grosses and, by producing “Driving Miss Daisy” in 1989, becoming the only son to duplicate a father’s best-picture Oscar, died on Friday at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif. He was 77.

    The cause was a heart attack, Jeff Sanderson, his publicist, said.

    Richard Zanuck’s successes rivaled those of his father, who co-founded 20th Century Fox, won three best picture Academy Awards and later fired his son in a studio shake-up. The younger Mr. Zanuck produced or helped produce movies like Steven Spielberg’s first feature film, “The Sugarland Express,” in 1974 and the director’s first blockbuster, “Jaws,” the next year.

    In a statement, Mr. Spielberg said Mr. Zanuck “taught me everything I know about producing.”

    David Brown, an urbane New Yorker with whom Mr. Zanuck produced the two Spielberg films, also worked with him in producing “The Sting” in 1973. Reuniting Paul Newman, Robert Redford and the director George Roy Hill after their 1969 box office hit “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting” won the best movie Oscar, though Mr. Zanuck and Mr. Brown (the husband of the Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown) were not listed as its producers.

    Mr. Zanuck produced six movies directed by Tim Burton, including this year’s “Dark Shadows,” starring Johnny Depp as a heartsick vampire. They also collaborated on “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (2005), Mr. Burton’s reimagining of “Planet of the Apes” (2001), and “Alice in Wonderland” (2010). “Alice” has grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.

    As a boy Mr. Zanuck had the run of 20th Century Fox, where his father reigned as one of the most powerful Hollywood moguls. Richard attended his first Academy Awards ceremony at age 7.

    In high school and college, he worked in a different department at Fox every summer. In 1962, when Mr. Zanuck was still in his 20s, his father defied charges of nepotism and made him Fox’s production chief. Under Richard, the studio won 159 Oscar nominations, and three movies — “The Sound of Music,” “Patton” and “The French Connection” — were named best picture.

    Darryl Zanuck, a cigar-chomping Midwesterner who never made it to high school and waved a polo mallet to reinforce a conversational point, fired his son in 1970 after a studio shake-up. The father was trying to save his own job, unsuccessfully. Richard Zanuck’s resentment lasted almost until his father’s death, in 1979.

    “It was different from the usual father-son relationship,” Mr. Zanuck told The New York Times in 2003. “But I was able to patch everything up before my father died.”

    Richard — soft-spoken, Stanford-educated and comfortable on a California beach — went on to his productive collaboration with Mr. Brown after a brief stop at Warner Brothers.

    Richard Darryl Zanuck was born in Los Angeles on Dec. 13, 1934. His mother was the silent film star Virginia Fox. As a youngster, Richard was made to sell copies of The Saturday Evening Post to teach him the value of hard work. “Of course,” he told The Los Angeles Times in 2010, “my dad did have a chauffeur take me to pick up the papers.”

    To show he cared about his son, Darryl Zanuck bused studio executives to Richard’s ballgames so that they could cheer on his son, as if they were extras in a sports movie. Personalities like Orson Welles were regular visitors to the Zanuck home.

    Richard, who excelled in sports in high school and continued running five miles a day into his 70s, served in the Army as a lieutenant after his graduation from Stanford. His father, meanwhile, had been fired by Fox in 1956 and moved to Paris to become an independent producer. The elder Zanuck, who had a wide reputation for womanizing, had affairs with three French actresses in succession but failed to advance their careers, as he had suggested he might.

    Darryl Zanuck arranged for his son to produce his first film, the murder mystery “Compulsion” (1959), at age 24. It won the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for the ensemble work of Welles, Dean Stockwell and Bradford Dillman.

    In 1962, Fox, still struggling, rehired Darryl Zanuck as president. But because he did not want to abandon his romantic interests in Paris, he asked his son to give him a list of possible candidates to run the West Coast studio. Richard Zanuck presented him with a piece of paper with one word on it, “Me.”

    His father went for it. “I have always considered that one of the gutsiest moves,” Mr. Zanuck said of his father’s decision. The son kept his father up-to-date by trans-Atlantic telegram.

    Mr. Zanuck moved to Warner Brothers to be executive vice president and there collaborated with Mr. Brown on such box office hits as “The Exorcist” and “Blazing Saddles.” In 1971, the two men formed the Zanuck/Brown Company.

    After they split up in 1988, Mr. Zanuck started the Zanuck Company. That year it made “Driving Miss Daisy,” which was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won four, including best picture. It cost $5 million to make and grossed more than $100 million.

    Mr. Zanuck’s first two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, Lili Fini Zanuck, with whom he produced the 2000 Oscar ceremony; his sons Harrison and Dean, who have produced movies; and nine grandchildren.

    Mr. Zanuck was a hands-on producer, going to the set every day and watching the day’s work every night. Mr. Spielberg recalled that while filming “Jaws” in 1974, he and Mr. Zanuck were in a boat off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts as they watched the movie’s mechanical shark sink to the bottom of the sea. As Mr. Spielberg recalled, “Dick turned to me and smiled” and said, ‘Gee, I hope that’s not a sign.’ ”

    Gary Sinise: Guest on the Deb & Tam Show this morning!

    Dear Friends,

    Please join us for a very exciting show today with our special guest, Academy Award Nominated actor, Gary Sinise.  In addition to his iconic role as Lt. Dan in the movie "Forrest Gump", and his ongoing hit series, CSI: NY, Gary has traveled the world entertaining our nation's heroes and their families.

    Today's entire show of "Your Voice with Deb and Tam" is going to be about giving back, and you will be inspired not just by Gary's example but by many others we will share.  So grab your coffee, or tea, and join us, Saturday July 14th at 8 am MT.

    You can catch the show every Saturday from 8 am to 10 am MT (that's 7 am to 9 am PT) on KRKS 94.7 FM in Denver or streaming live on  AmericanWomenMedia.com and KRKS.com.
    We hope you tune in and join us.  It's called "Your Voice with Deb and Tam" because it's all about you. We look forward to elevating the dialogue in this country together!

    Deborah Flora and Tamara Colbert

    Gary Sinise hopes new documentary inspires others to give back to U.S. wounded warriors

     When Gary Sinise took on the role of wounded U.S. serviceman Lt. Dan Taylor in “Forest Gump” in 1994, little did he know it would have such a profound impact on the rest of his life, both personally and professionally.

    Today, Sinise spends much of his spare time entertaining and raising money for U.S. troops, veterans and their families with his group The Lt. Dan Band. His experiences have been captured in the documentary “Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good,” which debuts on the Documentary Channel this Sunday.
    “I just felt a call to action after what happened on September 11th. I had been involved with a lot of different veterans’ organizations supporting Vietnam veterans groups and the Disabled American Veterans organization which I got involved with after 'Forrest Gump,' and September 11th just shook me,” Sinise told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “I felt a call to action to help our country through a difficult time."
    "If the documentary can inspire people, then hopefully it does its job"
    - Gary Sinise
    "We were deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan our troops were getting hurt. After being involved with veterans over the years and especially Vietnam veterans who came home from war had the door shut in their face, they were treated badly and the thought of that happening to our returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan was troubling to me," he said. "When freedom is in jeopardy in America these are the ones called to action and called to serve. When our backs are against the wall they will always be the ones to step forward to help bad things from happening to our country and our citizens.”
    Director Jonathan Flora's film documents Sinise’s inspiring journey, following several of the band's performances for our servicemen and women, and honoring the remarkable efforts of first responders, their families and the citizens who support them.
    “I’m not in it to be a composer or a recording star. I have a good career as an actor, that is what I do for a living. The band is completely and totally separate, it is part of a spiritual mission to serve the needs of men and women in uniform and people that are serving our country,” Sinise continued. “The band folds into a mission to lift spirits and morale and show support. When I first started USO tours it was just handshaking and pictures, and on the very first tour in Iraq I asked if they would let me bring (my musicians) on tour and entertain. I am an actor, but I didn’t want to go up there and do a monologue. That wouldn’t be entertaining for anyone.”
    And while not everyone has Sinise’s public profile, or musical skills for that matter, he said all Americans can and should play an important part in supporting our troops.
    “I would encourage people to look to the great military charities. Look within your own community, your own small town. They may need help with grieving families, communities need to reach out to those people and show them their sacrifices are appreciated,” he added. “Giving back can happen at home. Buy groceries or drive a wounded warrior someplace. If the documentary can inspire people, then hopefully it does its job.”
    “Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good” premieres on Documentary Channel Sunday, July 15 (8PM ET/PT). Throughout the premiere on-air, watch for a promo code redeemable for an exclusive, free download of the Lt. Dan Band's original song "A Letter Home" at http://documentarychannel.com/ltdanband.
    Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report.
    Please consider making a difference by contacting these great organizations: