Lloyd Braun, Yahoo
Lloyd Braun’s colleagues have described him every bit “creatively reckless”–big on ideas but a piddling hard on the fine prc. Before going to Yahoo, Braun created Grayness’s Beefcake, Lost, and Drastic Housewives for ABC, until his caput-butting with Michael Eisner got him pushed out. Now he’s the new honcho at Yahoo’south Media Group, charged with inventing, as The New York Times put it, “a medium that unites the showmanship of television set with the interactivity of the Cyberspace.” That means he’ll be pushing tons of original content to the portal’s 191 million users, priming the pump for video on need. Braun has already lured several elevation network execs and moved his NoCal crew to Santa Monica. This fall, he tapped director Richard Bangs to produce an run a risk series, starting with a grueling climb up the Eiger. Not a bad metaphor, actually.
Robert Rodriguez, Director
Hollywood studios similar Robert Rodriguez’s math: Take a relatively small production budget (his start pic, El Mariachi, cost $7,000; Sin Urban center cost $45 million), run it through a digital camera, and out comes a whole lot of money–nearly $600 one thousand thousand to date. Rodriguez financed Mariachi by being a guinea pig in a drug trial, but those days are long gone. Now the man behind digital films like Desperado and the Spy Kids trilogy shoots under his Troublemaker Studio banner from his abode in Austin. Rodriguez records his characters confronting a blue screen, later on creating the entire “set” digitally, which frees him up to focus on the functioning. He’due south already working on a prequel to Sin City (he’s not above a niggling franchise building) and on a black-and-white feature chosen Grindhouse with Quentin Tarantino. Each director is making an 60 minutes-long segment, which will be packaged together and “fabricated to await former,” says Rodriguez. The film “will be sold as a double characteristic, like a night out at the movies, complete with trailers and film reels of movies that don’t be.” We’re betting that if Rodriguez can convert Tarantino, a longtime celluloid purist, to the digital religion, the residual of Hollywood can’t be far behind.
Steven Soderbergh, Director
More kids should make like Steven Soderbergh and only skip college. The director of sexual activity, lies, and videotape and Traffic is emerging equally 1 of cinema’s most conspicuous innovators (see “Maverick Mogul,” page 70). His upcoming Chimera, a murder mystery shot on high-definition video cameras along the Ohio-Westward Virginia border, will bear witness upwardly simultaneously in January in theaters, on DVD, and on Tv–a directly slap at manufacture exercise–and uses no actors, but locals. Soderbergh may be philosophically opposed to studio meddling, merely he’s keeping his options open: He has more than a dozen films in various stages of production inside the studio system, including Che, starring Benicio Del Toro. Give that man a diploma.
Anne Sweeney, Disney-ABC Television
Anne Sweeney is no stranger to mag power lists. Every bit president of the Disney-ABC Tv set Group, she’southward redefining what it means to sentry Tv set. But she wields her influence discreetly. When her boss, Bob Iger, took the credit for the new video-iPod coup (and chummed information technology upward with Steve Jobs at the unveiling), Sweeney, one of the architects of the deal (information technology’ll make ABC hits available to iPod users starting in Oct), stayed in the background. And when Disney took a shot from the guilds about residuals, Sweeney took the bullet and defended the motility–no surprise from a woman who once gave an advertizement exec a Kevlar vest during a especially rocky period. Before Disney, Sweeney earned a reputation as a turnaround creative person at Nickelodeon and FX. She tends to hire artistic people and permit them do their thing. And that seems to exist paying off only fine: Disney posted a tape $998 million profit for the tertiary quarter of 2005. She won’t exist needing a belong anytime shortly.
Blair Westlake, Microsoft
Blair Westlake joined Microsoft in 2004 after the software behemothic realized it had to lay a lilliputian sugar on Hollywood if gizmos such equally its Media Middle and Xbox 360 were always going to make it as movie platforms. Who better to sweeten the pot, after all, than the erstwhile head of Universal Studios’ telly division? Now, with the living room overwhelming the theater as the venue of pick for inert Americans–and with Microsoft establishing the PC as a living-room fixture–the forces are aligning (scarily) backside the cattle from Seattle. Media and tech convergence VP Westlake has already greased the works past bankroll the studios on intellectual-property protection. That should purchase the visitor plenty of goodwill if and when Hollywood builds out its own domicile-distribution pipeline. Nib Gates must be on the edge of his seat.
Morgan Freeman, ClickStar
Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman has gone from Driving Miss Daisy to driving old-school Hollywood insane. In July, Freeman announced that he was teaming up with Intel to launch ClickStar, a startup based in Santa Monica, California, built to distribute movies to computers at the same time they’re released in theaters. ClickStar, Freeman announced, is designed “to evangelize first-run premium entertainment to film fans effectually the world–and to make film easier to purchase than to pirate.” The visitor won’t be building whatever actual hardware, just borer its Hollywood connections to deliver movies to platforms built by companies such equally Microsoft or TiVo. Theater owners may not like ClickStar’s programme, only the company thinks it has plant a way around their objections: Pay them. The service is set to launch sometime in 2006.
Harvey Weinstein, The Weinstein Co.
Harvey Weinstein tin’t play the underdog for long. Afterward splitting with Disney (and losing the Miramax library, which includes Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, and Shakespeare in Beloved, non to mention the visitor that made $4.five billion at the box office and collected 53 Oscars in 10 years), Harvey and brother Bob did what any heavyweight entrepreneurs would do: They started over. And now, with a fiddling aid from Goldman Sachs, the Weinstein Co. is on rail to build a new $1 billion auto with interests in motion-picture show, Broadway musicals, music, publishing, and video games. Harvey has already inked deals with directors such as Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. And a strategic Cablevision pact should allow him to control everything from production through multiplatform distribution.
Brian Roberts, Comcast
“Scary” isn’t a give-and-take people ofttimes use to draw Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. But as head of the country’s largest cable operator, he certainly has the bandwidth to strike terror in the Fifty.A. establishment. In late October, Roberts upped the fear a notch by announcing that Comcast was increasing its video-on-need content past 250 titles, to a roster of 800 movies a month. That may be but one pocket-sized pace for Comcast customers, just it’south a giant spring toward Roberts’southward philosophical goal of releasing films simultaneously on cablevision and at theaters. And with his call for the major networks to feed their programs to cablevision operators on an on-demand basis (much as ABC volition be piping Desperate Housewives to iPods), Roberts isn’t going to be soothing many nerves in Old Hollywood.
Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros.
No 1 would charge the film studios of beingness early adopters, but if one studio was alee of the pack in seeing the huge potential upside of the DVD, information technology was Warner Bros. And at present, with that cow running dry, Warner has given the nod to Kevin Tsujihara, the man information technology hopes will lead the studio into the adjacent green pasture, video on demand. Tsujihara, an xi-twelvemonth Warner veteran, was promoted in October to caput video, wireless, and online operations, as well as games and antipiracy. As if that weren’t plenty, Warner too gave him its new digital distribution unit (video on need, electronic video sales and pay-per-view). That puts the 41-year-old Tsujihara in charge of the most of import technological transition the studio has faced in decades (no force per unit area, Kev!). Meaning he’ll exist Warner’s next superhero–or its adjacent fall guy.
Bud Mayo, AccessIT
Bud Mayo began his career as an IBM estimator salesman in 1965–and he’s still selling. Mayo founded AccessIT in hopes of getting every theater in America converted to digital distribution and projection. He has already committed AccessIT to making 150 screens operational by twelvemonth’south end and some four,000 by October 2007. He fifty-fifty predicts that all 36,000 American screens could be retooled in a decade. To go people to fifty-fifty mind, though (especially theater owners terrified of the $100,000 price of conversion), took some smooth talking. “Everyone in Hollywood was waiting for someone to show them the way,” Mayo says. His mantra is “No theater left backside,” and his recent partnership with projector maker Christie Digital Systems should attain that. It standardizes format, delivery, and distribution–and even creates a payment plan to keep out-of-pocket costs for theaters on par with analog.
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