Who's Next From Universal Republic

MTV and Nick Rise in Paramount Hierarchy

Tower Files Chapter 11... Again

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Reprinted with permission from Hits Magazine

August 24, 2006

The Who's back and Universal Republic's got 'em.

Endless Wire, the band's first studio album in 25 years, will hit stores Oct. 31, which will be a treat and a trick.

Universal Motown Records Group Chairman/CEO Mel Lewinter was so excited he busted up a guitar and turned over his drum kit: "We are thrilled beyond words to welcome The Who to Universal Republic. They are truly one of the quintessential rock bands of all time. Larger than life, never compromising The Who's profound insight and willingness to push the musical envelope embodies everything vital about the indispensable music culture they helped spawn. Is Keith Moon still in the band?"

Added Universal Republic President Monte Lipman: "The Who not only defined their g-g-g-generation, but every g-g-g-g-generation of artists that followed with their g-g-g-g-genre-defying mixture of rock, R&B and conceptual breakthroughs. We're honored they've chosen Universal Republic and are certain their new album is poised to reinvigorate the music world all over again. 'Pictures of Lily' is my favorite song about masturbation of all time."

Commented UMG Chairman/CEO Doug Morris: "I join Mel and Monte in welcoming The Who to the Universal Republic family, and look forward to the next great chapter in one of the most indomitable and innovative legacies in the history of rock & roll."

Universal Republic will release Endless Wire, the first new Who studio album since 1982's It's Hard, on Halloween, Oct. 31. The disc will include all new songs, as well as music culled from a 29-minute operatic work, described by leader Pete Townshend as "a mini-opera inspired by his novella The Boy Who Heard Music." Townshend has made the book available online at

The recent Wire & Glass EP, available only on import in the U.S., featuring music from the mini-opera, and one new full-length song, "Mirror Door," all of which will be available on the new studio album, has garnered rave reviews for the comeback.

Townshend, who along with vocalist Roger Daltrey has been the long-standing dynamic force behind The Who (drummer Moon died in 1978 and bassist John Entwistle died in 2002) indicates that the new material is definitely on par with what Who fans have come to expect from the legendary band.

Pete and Roger described themselves as "fit and ready to rock," as they announced their first world tour in almost 20 years. The Who will embark on a whirlwind trek that will find them hitting the U.S. in September, kicking off in Philadelphia on Sept. 12, with more shows to follow in U.S. and Canada in October and November, as well as South America, East Asia, Europe and Australia in 2007. The band's touring lineup is also to include Ringo Starr's son Zak Starkey on drums, and Pete's brother Simon Townshend on guitar, Pino Palladino on bass and keyboardist John Bundrick.

The Who were inducted into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 after bursting onto the scene in the mid-'60s armed with the coming of age anthem "My Generation." Townshend is recognized as one of rock's most prescient songwriters, penning some of the most influential and recognizable oeuvres in rock for more than four decades.

The bande have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide, including the 1969 groundbreaking rock opera Tommy (which won five Tony awards for its Broadway adaptation in 1993), 1971's pummeling Live at Leeds which was recently voted best live album of all time in the U.K., 1973's Quadrophenia, 1978's Who Are You, and their final studio album, 1982's It's Hard. Known for their legendary live shows as much as their conceptual and innovative album and song structures, they vie with the Rolling Stones for the title of "World's Greatest Rock & Roll band."

Townshend and Daltrey reunited for the 2005 Live 8 Concert in London's Hyde Park, as well as the 9/11 Benefit concert at Madison Square Garden. This summer, The Who offered a glimpse of their upcoming U.S. live show with a string of well received, sold-out concerts in Europe.

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

August 21, 2006

Viacom's Tom Freston continues to remake Paramount Pictures in the image of MTV.

MTV and Nickelodeon will become full labels under Viacom's Paramount Motion Picture Group as part of a new structure designed to take advantage of their successful track record with core target audiences. The two former production companies, which previously operated as on-lot producers, will now join Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, Paramount Vantage and Paramount Classics under the umbrella.

Said Viacom President/CEO Freston: "After successful 12-year stints as production companies at Paramount, MTV and Nick have been upgraded to full movie label status. This will expand their role at Paramount, will better leverage their considerable talent and marketing capabilities, and will allow for smoother day-to-day management on the lot with strong connections back to the core brands. This move plays perfectly to our company's unique strengths and will surely increase the positive momentum that we're seeing at Paramount under the leadership of Brad Grey and his team. Is this something that might interest you?"

Added Paramount Pictures Chairman/CEO Brad Grey: "MTV and Nickelodeon are two of the strongest brands in entertainment reaching families and young adults. We look forward to great films and a great future with these two new labels at the Paramount Motion Picture Group."

Said MTV Networks Chairman/CEO Judy McGrath: "In partnership with Paramount, this new model represents a great opportunity to build on the growing success we've experienced making movies over the last decade. We believe that together we can take these brands to the next level, attract the best talent and material across genres, and really tap into our strong relationships with kid, teens, young adults and families around the globe."

Paramount and MTV Networks today named veteran producer Scott Aversano President of MTV Films and Nick Movies, giving him responsibility for film development, production and acquisitions for the two film labels. Aversano will work on the lot, reporting to Paramount Pictures President Gail Berman. On all image- and brand-related matters for these pictures, he will also report to MTV Networks Group President Van Toffler and Nickelodeon and MTV Networks Kids and Family Group President Cyma Zarghami.

Aversano is currently an independent producer for Paramount. Prior to that, he spent more than seven years with producer Scott Rudin, most recently as President of Production.

Said Aversano: "MTV and Nickelodeon are household names with audiences in every corner of the world. I'm excited to embark on this new challenge to continue bringing movies to the marketplace that utilize Viacom's unique strengths in targeted demographics."

MTV Films and Nick Movies will continue to release films targeted to their respective demographics; with Nick Movies releasing animated and family films, and MTV Films focusing on comedies, documentaries, urban fare and horror films for teens and young adults.

Among recent Nick Movies are the Jack Black comedy, Nacho Libre, directed by Napoleon Dynamite's Jared Hess and CGI-animated film Barnyard starring Kevin James and Courteney Cox, written and directed and produced by Steve Oedekerk (Ace Ventura, Nutty Professor).

Nick Movies is currently in pre-production on the The Spiderwick Chronicles and in December, will release a live-action version of the classic children's book, Charlottes Web, starring Dakota Fanning, Julia Roberts and Oprah Winfrey. Previous hits include Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, starring Jim Carrey, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie and The Rugrats Movie.

MTV Films hits include Napoleon Dynamite, Election, The Longest Yard, Varsity Blues, Save the Last Dance, the Oscar-nominated documentaries Murderball, Tupac: The Resurrection and the Oscar-winning musical drama Hustle & Flow. Upcoming releases include Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank, Jackass: Number 2 featuring Johnny Knoxville, and, with DreamWorks, the comedy Blades of Glory, with Will Ferrell and Jon Heder.

At Rudin, Aversano oversaw production on a variety of films including Failure to Launch, Team America, Lemony Snicket, The Manchurian Candidate, The School of Rock, Changing Lanes and Orange County.

Prior to joining Rudin, he was Director of Development at Paramount Pictures from 1997 through 1999, where he served as an executive on 12 films and 75 development projects, including Wonder Boys, South Park, Bringing out the Dead and Runaway Bride.

Aversano started his career in the entertainment industry at Sid Ganis' Out of the Blue Entertainment in 1996.

Aversano graduated from Brown University and has a M.A. in English Literature from University of Michigan.

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

August 21, 2006

This Tower's leaning more than the one at Pisa.

Tower Records filed a Chapter 11 petition in federal bankruptcy court yesterday (8/20), with the owners seeking to sell the fabled chain "as a going concern" so that a buyer could take control prior to the 2006 holiday season.

According to the Delaware filing, eight separate parties own and operate the 89-store chain, which includes a direct sales network and warehouse distribution facility. According to sources, they are Three A's Holdings, Jeremy's Holdings, Tower Direct, 33rd Street Records, Pipernick, MTS, Columbus Bay and R.T. Records.

Creditors number in the "thousands," according to the doument. Among the largest: Six Degrees Records ($1.9 million) in San Francisco; International Periodical ($1.3 million) in Chicago; City Hall Records ($595,000) in San Rafael, CA.; and Baker & Taylor Book ($437,000) in Chicago. The chain reportedly owes a total of $87 million, $70 million of that to the four major music distributors, who cut off the chain's line of credit at NARM two weeks ago.

The debtors want the bankruptcy court to establish bid procedures and set an auction date for the sale of assets. A Chapter 11 petition was previously filed two years ago which contained a pre-packaged plan of reorganization. While that case remains open, court documents insist certain claims issues are the only remaining matters left to resolve.

In that restructure, debtors converted $110 million of unsecured notes into common stock comprising 85% of the outstanding equity in MTS and $30 million in new notes.

Since then, Tower's profits have plummeted, blamed on an "industry-wide decline in the sales of physical music and video products" and "intense competition from music downloading (legal and illegal) and 'big-box' retailers which use music and video products as loss-leaders."

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

Taylor Hicks' reign a top the Billboard charts was over in a flash as his single "Do I Make You Proud" debuted at Number One then was gone. Lesson to be learned: no matter how popular you are, a bad song is a bad song!

American Idol reject Chris Daughtry, who turned down an offer to join Fuel, recently signed a label deal with Clive Davis in conjunction with 19 Recordings, the label managed by AI creator Simon Fuller. Daughtry will form a new band and record with a host of top songwriters and producers.

More Idol news: Former AI contestant Daniel James "DJ" Boyd has been indicted on child pornography charges in Salt Lake City, Utah. If he's convicted, he'll face up to 40 years in prison. The Salt Lake City DA office also charged him with unlawful sexual activity with a minor and unlawful supply of alcohol to a minor. If found guilty, Boyd will have a brand new audience to entertain.

Have you had a chance to hear the new Bob Dylan CD Modern Times on Columbia? Four of the 10 tracks are fairly long with "Spirit on the Water" nearly eight minutes and the closing track, "Ain't Talkin'" clocking in at nine minutes long. Nine minutes is a whole lotta talkin' for someone who ain't talkin'!

Dylan will be the subject of a tribute concert on November 9 at New York's Avery Fisher Hall. Among the confirmed guests are Rosanne Cash, Patti Smith, Philip Glass, Black Crowes, Al Kooper, Phil Lesh, and Natalie Merchant.

Start making your plane and hotel reservations now because the TAXI 2006 Road Rally is right around the corner. Call TAXI for more info.

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