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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

June 26, 2006

David Beckham bent it like he was supposed to do, sending England to a 1-0 victory over Ecuador and into the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the world's most finicky fan base, as Adam Sandler once again proved to have a remote control over the movie box office as we head into the teeth of the summer, with both Nelly Furtado and Superman ready to take flight. Oh yeah, mazel tov to Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban on their marriage this past weekend in Australia. Turns out her betrothal to Tom Cruise wasn't recognized by the Catholic Church, which allowed her to walk the aisle without getting an annulment. Anyone care to venture an over-under on whether it lasts longer than the one between Renee Zellweger and Kenny Chesney?

Adam Sandler's Click was the top grossing film this weekend, earning an estimated $40 million over the weekend for Sony Pictures, upending Disney's Cars. It's on target to become Sandler's seventh straight movie to clock in with $100 million. His best opening weekend came last May, when The Longest Yard grossed $47.6 million, and his top overall success was Big Daddy, which took in $163.5 million during its 1999 run. Focus Features' Waist Deep, an urban thriller with Tyrese Gibson (who introduced his new rap persona Black-Ty over the weekend), which generated a better-than-expected $9.5 million. Cars came in at #2 in its third weekend, grossing an estimated $22.5 million, bringing its total gross to $155.9 million. Paramount Pictures' Nacho Libre grossed an estimated $12.1 million, Universal Pictures' The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift took in $9.2 million, Warner Bros.' The Lake House racked up $8.3 million and 20th Century Fox's Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties mustered $4.8 million. Industrywide, ticket sales were up from the previous year for the sixth straight weekend and the 13th weekend in the last 14. Box-office revenue reached an estimated $4.4 billion, up 4.5% year to date, according to Exhibitor Relations Co.

This Wednesday, Warner Bros.' Superman Returns hits theatres, with wonderers wondering if it can top Aquaman's record-breaking first week of $114 million. The Bryan Singer-directed entry has been garnering impressive advance word. 20th Century Fox's The Devil Wears Prada, based on the best-selling book, with Meryl Streep as a fictional version of Vogue editor Anna Wintour, hits Friday (6/30), with Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest the weekend after next.

Meanwhile, Nelly Furtado's Dreamworks/Interscope album Loose is expected to top this week's HITS Top 50, thanks to the smash Timbaland collaboration, "Promiscuous," the hottest summer jam since, unh, "Hips Don't Lie." Feel free to check our building sales chart over the next two days to track its progress. Look for Tooth & Nail Christian rockers Underoath to bow at #2, with around 100k, while Interscope's Keane should crash the Top 5 with around 70-75k.

The L.A. Times' Geoff Boucher takes a look at the Hollywood life of expatriate DJ Paul Oakenfold here. N.Y. Times' classical music critic Allan Kozinn raves about the new $150 million Cirque de Soleil and Apple Beatles production Love, which opens at the Mirage in Las Vegas this Friday here. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison are all expected to be there.

Get ready for the return of Dee Snider and Twisted Sister. The band has inked with Razor & Tie for a Christmas album, A Twisted Christmas, coming Oct. 17, featuring metal versions of classics like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Deck the Halls" and "O Come All Ye Faithful." What, no Hanukkah songs?

Goo-goo ga-gah. Former Disney chief Michael Eisner has acquired Team Baby Entertainment, a producer of sports videos for infants and toddlers that highlight college athletic teams while, at the same time, teaching children to count and spell. After leaving Disney, Eisner formed the Tornante Company, an investment concern for entertainment ventures. Team Baby currently has 20 DVD titles, including Baby Irish, for fans of Notre Dame, and Baby Longhorn for University of Texas followers.

And, in case you didn't hear it, 33-year-old Kevin Richardson is leaving the Backstreet Boys to pursue "other interests." The other members of the group say he will not be replaced. What, they're not interested in Lance Bass?

Good news for fans of legendary L.A. DJ Rodney Bingenheimer. The music biz stalwart will receive his much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year.

In other news of love matches, rapper The Game will wed actress Valeisha Butterfield on March 22, 2007, the anniversary of his proposal to her. Butterfield has appeared in Remember the Titans and Road Trip and is the daughter of North Carolina Congressman GJ Butterfield, who reportedly gave the rapper the "third degree" when he asked for her hand. Valeisha revealed that "we never dated… We went from being friends to being engaged." Wonder if 50 Cent will be best man.

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

June 23, 2006

Apparently, they still want their MTV.

Closing out an impressive Q2 reaching more viewers across more platforms than ever before, MTV is the #1 rated 24-hour basic cable network among P12-34, marking their 37th consecutive quarter at #1 for P12-24.

Driven by hit series, Real World XVII, The Hills, Real World/Road Rules Fresh Meat, Nick Cannon's Wild N Out, 8th & Ocean and My Super Sweet Sixteen, the net has six of the Top 10 P12-34 rated basic cable series for this second quarter. In addition, its 10-Spot destination ranks #1 in its time period among P12-34 for cable competition. The 2006 MTV Movie Awards was the highest rated program for the night among P12-34 across all of cable.

MTV Networks Music Group President Brian Graden, now a gym teacher at Laguna Hills High School, enthused: "Our success is now measured by how we perform across every single one of our screens, and this quarter's results are a testament to the success of our multi-platform approach to programming. Whether it is on-air or online or on their phones, we continue to deliver compelling, engaging and inventive original programming and the result is our greatest aggregated audience ever, with more people watching MTV content than ever before."

Added EVP Programming and Entertainment Lois Curren: "We pride ourselves on the strength of our programming offerings and our connection with our audience across all day parts. With a diverse line-up spanning music, reality, drama, comedy and more, we are continually engaging our audience with new ideas, inventive series and a creative programming agenda. Now do I get my Sweet Sixteen party?"

Broadband net MTV Overdrive is now generating over a 1 million streams a day, up 35% vs. last quarter, and 14 times as high as the same quarter last year. Music video streams alone on Overdrive are up 25% from Q1 '06. 2006 MTV Movie Awards content on MTV Overdrive and also generated huge traffic, up 50% to date vs. last year's Movie Awards area. The average monthly time spent per visit to in Q2 '06 is up 26% versus the same quarter last year.

MTV Mobile rounded the quarter with an impressive programming line-up and 7% growth versus Q1 2006. This quarter saw MTV successfully debut its first originally produced wireless series, Sway's Hip Hop Owners Manual, which was the most watched MTV wireless content in Q2. Other popular MTV Mobile programs included MTV Movie Award performances from Christina Aguilera and others, plus clips from the new MTV2 Sic 'Emation block featuring Celebrity Death Match and Where My Dogs At?

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

June 22, 2006
By Rodel Delfin

The post-Ienner era has kicked into gear, with significant changes going down in A&R, particularly at Columbia. As we reported last week, the departure of Columbia Prexy Steve Greenberg has led to additional layoffs in A&R in order to make room for new hires. About five (senior and low-level) executives were let go on the Columbia A&R side, while Epic shed only one staffer on the West Coast. Insiders share that Columbia Chairman Steve Barnett and staff producer Steve Lillywhite have been meeting with executives to set up a new creative team. At the moment, the senior A&R staffers at Columbia include John Doelp, Jay Landers (whose house is profiled in today's L.A. Times Home section) and Steve Yegelwel. A handful of scouts/managers on the East Coast are still in place. And we hear central core staffer Keith Naftaly will transition over to Columbia A&R as well. However, the departure of West Coast GM Tim Devine last month leaves the label somewhat underrepresented on the West Coast. Veteran producer Lillywhite, whose credits include U2, Peter Gabriel, Simple Minds, Dave Matthews Band and Morrissey, among many others, was gracious enough to take this industry loser's phone call. He shared with us that Columbia's new A&R department will consist of a "fresh creative team that's enthusiastic and opinionated about music." He further stated that "Columbia is a big company, and it needs to be a place where art and commerce can be married." It seems that rock acts will continue to have its place at the label. It's evident with some of the recent signings such as Arbedeen City, U.K. singer/songwriter David Ford and Satellite Party, which is a new project from Jane's Perry Farrell and former Extreme member Nuno Bettencourt. We'll keep you posted on the upcoming A&R additions. But along with staff changes in marketing and promotions over the past months, it's definitely a new regime at the label. And talk from inside the company is that the climate and attitude has changed for the better… ON THE NOT BROKEN, DON'T FIX IT TIP: The Charlie Walk-run Epic, on the other hand, had very few changes. The label boasts a solid A&R staff, with seasoned players assembled over the past couple years by veteran A&R exec Ben Goldman. Senior staffers include Peter Malkin, Pete Giberga, Mike Flynn and Diana Fragnito, with scouts on both coasts still in place. The label sheds one staffer, but adds two to the team—Stacy Jones as staff producer and Billy Clark, who had A&R stints at Island Def Jam and most recently Atlantic. Jones was a member of rock outfit American Hi-Fi and recently produced tracks for a number of artists, including the highly sought-after Ronnie Day, who was just signed to Epic. The label's Mike Flynn, who also serves as staff producer, gets production and signing credit for The Fray, who has been experiencing impressive success for a new artist. Expect upcoming releases from Josh Hoge and Day. Meanwhile, Epic acts Cartel, Eighteen Visions and Augustana are tracking upward, with solid radio play and tours… Finally, veteran exec David Massey, who maintains his position as President of Daylight Records, will continue to identify, sign and develop artists for all the labels within the Sony Music Label Group. Massey has signed and helped develop a broad array of artists that has sold millions worldwide with such acts as Anastacia, Good Charlotte and Phantom Planet. Meanwhile, A&R hitter Michael Caplan, who previously co-ran the Or Music label that spurred hits with Los Lonley Boys and Matisyahu, will also continue to sign and develop acts for label group as well. He will continue to be based at the RED offices downtown.

HITS magazine is the most powerful information vehicle in the music industry, and is read religiously by all the top executives and everyone else.

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By Kenny Kerner

UMG (Universal Music Group) became the third major record label to settle with the state of New York in their alleged radio payola case. UMG agreed to shell out some $12 million as a fine for violations and agreed to make reforms in the way they handle their future radio promotion activities. The fine will be donated to New York not-for-profit music education programs.

According to late year-end figures released by the RIAA, music DVDs are down for the first time since reporting began backing 1998. DVDs slipped 3.8% in 2005.

The McCartneys called it quits after a few years of marriage and one child. Wonder what their pre-nups were like?... So far this year, best-selling first week honors go to Chili Peppers and Rascal Flatts... Looks like Britney Spears is with child again. Apparently she can do something right!

Arguably the very best book on the Beatles is the new one by their recording engineer, Geoff Emerick called "Here, There And Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles." I had the pleasure of working with Geoff while recording a Badfinger album at the Beatles Apple Studios and the stories he told were truly amazing. Rush right out and buy this one. You won't be able to put it down!

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