April 24, 2017

Campaign Spotlight: Hotel Says ‘G’Day,’ and ‘G’Night,’ With Music-Centric Campaign

As the announcer used to say in the Certs commercials, “Stop, you’re both right.” The clip, with an accompanying behind-the-scenes video, does double duty, for the Redbury Hotel in Los Angeles and an Australian rock band named the Rubens.

The clip and the video are part of an extensive campaign, with a budget estimated at $75,000 to $100,000, that also includes the Web sites for the Redbury and the Rubens; e-mail marketing; social media like blogs, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vimeo and YouTube; prize giveaways; and paid ads on Facebook.

Synergistic marketing efforts have become commonplace in recent years, particularly with the increasing popularity on Madison Avenue of what is known as branded content, branded entertainment or content marketing.

The goal is to produce advertising that is perceived by consumers as entertaining or informative rather than yet another hard-sell product pitch.

While the clip works hard on behalf of the Redbury and the Rubens, it originated as a content marketing campaign for the Redbury, a five-story, 57-room hotel near the intersection of Hollywood and Vine that was opened in 2010 to cater to guests in creative industries like film, fashion, advertising, television and music. The SBE Hotel Group, a unit of the SBE Entertainment Group that manages the Redbury, brought in Matthew Rolston, the director and photographer, to develop the concept for the hotel along with Sam Nazarian, the entrepreneur and nightlife impresario who is also the chairman and chief executive of SBE Entertainment.

Mr. Rolston was asked recently to produce a campaign that would help attract to the Redbury more guests from its largest international feeder market, Australia, as well as show off its features, which include a restaurant, Cleo, and an indoor-outdoor lounge, the Library. His idea was to find a band from Australia to front the campaign, musicians who would personify the image of the Redbury, which The Los Angeles Times describes as “an effort to mix bohemian, 1960s flower power and old Hollywood sensibilities.” Mr. Rolston then turned to Warner Brothers Records, part of the Warner Music Group, whose executives suggested that he work with the Rubens, a band that includes three brothers from New South Wales, Australia, named Sam, Elliott and Zaac Margin. (Hmmmm. Perhaps their parents are fans of the American actor Sam Elliott.) Among the mutually beneficial aspects of the collaboration is that Warner Brothers Records plans to release an album by the Rubens on Sept. 10.

“The Redbury brand is rooted in rock ‘n’ rock and Hollywood,’ says Veronica Smiley, chief marketing officer at SBE in Los Angeles. “It’s a brand in its infancy in the life style category and for us, relevance is so critical in our relationship and appeal to guests and prospective guests.”

To help “extend the love and excitement for the Redbury to new audiences,” Ms. Smiley says, on the “limited budget” that SBE has as “a small yet growing company,” the decision was made to “zero in on an important consumer segment, Australians.”

Then “we went to Matthew, our established partner on this brand, and challenged him to develop a campaign to amplify the Redbury’s awareness and connection to rock ‘n’ roll and Hollywood,” she adds.

Centering the campaign on branded entertainment or content marketing was crucial, Ms. Smiley says, because “our audience doesn’t respond to a print ad.”

“They’re looking for unique and unexpected ways to connect with us,” she adds.

The clip and video represent “an authentic extension of how we have envisioned our brand,” Ms. Smiley says. “We were thrilled with how it turned out.”

The clip was directed by a young director, Sean Nalaboff, for Mr. Rolston’s production unit, R-Roll; the behind-the-scenes video, also a production of R-Roll, is directed by Sophie Turner. The clip begins by proclaiming: “R-Roll Presents the Rubens. The Rubens at the Redbury. ‘The Best We Got.’” (“The Best We Got” is the title of the song the band sings in the clip.)

The clip, liberally peppered with sex, runs for almost four and a half minutes. It intersperses scenes shot in daytime and nighttime, in color and in black and white, at the hotel and the neighborhood.

The opening images include a brief glimpse of James Dean’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a young woman undressing as she walks down a corridor in the Redbury.

Mostly, the Rubens are the focus, performing “The Best We Got” and frolicking in various parts of the hotel, including Cleo and the Library. They eat pizza, stand on a table, have a food fight and hang out with attractive young women. To spice things up, there are quick shots of two women in some amorous activity as well as a moment, after the food fight, when one member of the band licks frosting off another band member’s face.

In the behind-the-scenes video, which runs almost five minutes, Mr. Rolston, as creative director and executive producer, explains how the clip represents “an interesting cross-promotion between a hotel group and a record label and a band.”

“It’s something I feel points the way to the future of marketing and advertising,” Mr. Rolston says, “where entertainment really is the medium.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/03/business/media/hotel-says-gday-and-gnight-with-music-centric-campaign.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Times Says Web Site Failure Is Not a Result of Cyberattack

“The outage occurred within seconds of a scheduled maintenance update being pushed out, and we believe that was the cause,” said Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The New York Times Company.

The site went down about 11:10 a.m.. It returned around 1:15 p.m., but service was sporadic. New articles were being published again by about 3 p.m. The failure took place during the peak hours for traffic to the site, between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Ms. Murphy said, adding that the site had more than 7.1 million visits on Monday.

In January, The Times reported that Chinese hackers had repeatedly attacked NYTimes.com and had obtained passwords for some reporters and other employees before being repelled by computer experts working for the company. Ms. Murphy said that based on what experts examining the failure on Wednesday had seen, there was “no reason to believe this was the result of a cyberattack.”

It was a consequential day for international news, with reports that the Egyptian military had fired on protesters supporting the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, leaving hundreds of people dead. The Times used Facebook Notes to publish a handful of articles, including two concerning the violent crackdown in Egypt.

With a let’s-put-out-a-newspaper attitude — for example, the Opinion section of The Times posted to Twitter: “Readers, don’t fret. If NYTimes.com remains down, we are ready to tweet op-eds and editorials in 140-character increments” — the failure was reminiscent of a power blackout. As it happens, Wednesday was the 10th anniversary of the East Coast blackout.

Others were there to fill the void — with some promoting their podcasts or articles. Dow Jones sent a message via Twitter about its newspaper, The Wall Street Journal: “Bonus lunchtime reading: WSJ.com is free to everyone for the next 2 hours.” The company said the offer was for its breaking news coverage of Egypt, a practice it has followed in the past.

For readers, the single biggest opportunity seemed to be the reaction on Twitter. Ezra Klein of The Washington Post posted: “What, you thought Jeff Bezos was going to buy the Post and play defense?”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/15/business/media/new-york-times-web-site-returns-after-hours-offline.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Another Rowling Mystery Solved: Behind the Tweet That Identified Her

It was the literary leak heard around the world: a little-read detective novel called “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” by the debut author Robert Galbraith, was actually written by J. K. Rowling, one of the best-known authors in the world.

Now a law firm in London has sheepishly admitted that it was responsible.

Russells, a firm known for its work in the entertainment industry, said on Thursday that one of its partners, Chris Gossage, had told his wife’s best friend that the book, published in April, was actually written by Ms. Rowling.

That friend, Judith Callegari, revealed the information to a columnist for The Sunday Times of London in a Twitter exchange last week, then promptly deleted her tweets.

After doing its own investigation, The Sunday Times confronted Ms. Rowling with its findings, and she admitted to writing the book under a pseudonym. The newspaper published an article on Sunday identifying Ms. Rowling as the author.

But until Thursday, it remained a secret who was actually behind the leak of her identity.

In a statement released on Thursday, the law firm apologized “unreservedly” for the slip, explaining that Mr. Gossage had disclosed the information.

“Whilst accepting his own culpability, the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted implicitly,” the statement said. “On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified J. K. Rowling’s agent. We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither J. K. Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved.”

When reached by telephone, John Reid, a partner at Russells, declined to comment further.

Through her publicist, Ms. Rowling released a statement saying that she was “disappointed.”

“A tiny number of people knew my pseudonym and it has not been pleasant to wonder for days how a woman whom I had never heard of prior to Sunday night could have found out something that many of my oldest friends did not know,” she said. “I had assumed that I could expect total confidentiality from Russells, a reputable professional firm and I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/19/business/media/another-rowling-mystery-solved-behind-the-tweet-that-identified-her.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

A Secret Food Satirist Comes Out of the Pantry

Who is Ruth Bourdain?

For three years and 2,700 posts on Twitter, an anonymous wit has used @RuthBourdain — an avatar conceived as an unholy mash-up of the former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl and the bad-boy TV food host Anthony Bourdain — as a sharp fork to poke fun at the pretensions of the culinary elite. The dispatches have taken pot shots at celebrity chefs, noting “Mario Batali’s plump biscuits,” endowing Tom Colicchio with a habit of snorting tangerine zest and teasing Thomas Keller for his saintly status in the religion of restaurants.

In response, attempts to ferret out the identity of Ruth Bourdain’s creator have burned up the blogosphere. Accusations have been leveled. Wild guesses have been flung. Perhaps in an effort to flush out the truth, a new James Beard journalism prize for humor was invented and awarded to @RuthBourdain. No one showed up to accept it.

But now the perpetrator has decided to come in from the cold. In a message to The New York Times this week, @RuthBourdain offered an “exclusive reveal,” adding, “It’s going to be you or asylum in Venezuela.”

Ruth Bourdain, it turns out, is Josh Friedland, a mild-mannered freelance writer in Maplewood, N.J., who produces the Food Section, one of the longest-running culinary blogs on the Web. “I never thought the joke would go on so long,” said Mr. Friedland, who plans to continue the Twitter posts. “But the food world has become so ripe for satire in the time since I started it.”

Few arenas of 21st-century life have so quickly become the focus of aspiration and outright obsession: the byzantine tasting menus, the competition to discover the Next Great Place, the melodramatic top-chef reality shows. And while most celebrities are subjected to satire these days, few are mocked more gleefully than the legion of chefs who can claim some level of fame, from international brand names like Gordon Ramsay to local upstarts in every city, each with an online following and a pork-butchery diagram tattooed on a forearm.

To Mr. Friedland and other parodists (including the amateurs who in recent weeks have created a YouTube subgenre of Paula Deen sendups), these cooks and their culture offer a delicious opportunity to remind devotees that for all their passion about cooking and eating, it is all, finally, just food.

Mr. Friedland, 43, has sent Twitter messages almost daily since March 2010, when Ms. Reichl, a former restaurant critic for The Times, began posting a flowery, haiku-like description of her breakfast nearly every morning. Mr. Bourdain, famously combative, began reading them aloud on his Sirius radio show.

“It wasn’t a huge leap to combine their voices in a funny way,” said Mr. Friedland, noting that phony Twitter accounts like Fake Steve Jobs had just begun to pop up. “They are pretty much the polar opposites of culinary experience.”

Here is the real Ms. Reichl writing on Twitter: “Still. Gray. Cicadas screeching. Such a mournful sound. Fragrant strawberries, just picked. Rivers of yellow cream. Color for a muted day.”

And here is Ruth Bourdain, who is frequently profane, libidinous or under the influence of hallucinogens: “Foggy. Stormy. Lightning in the night. Is that asparagus tucked into your softly stirred eggs or are you just happy to see me? Brown butter me.”

Over time, this slim premise has drawn more than 66,000 followers, and evolved to include the invention of new holiday drinks (turduckennog), pasta shapes (recessionini) and classifications for the food-crazed, from “curd nerds” to “Zagateers.”

A few people have accurately guessed Ruth Bourdain’s identity, but Mr. Friedland managed to deflect them, often changing his cellphone number, using voice-cloaking software to do radio interviews in character, and compelling editors and some reporters to sign nondisclosure agreements.

In 2011, the local-fresh-organic-food guru Alice Waters, not known for her sense of humor, announced on Twitter that she was Ruth Bourdain, sparking a fresh round of speculation.

Later that year, Robert Sietsema, the former Village Voice restaurant critic, was mistakenly outed as Ruth Bourdain at a conference of food journalists in Charleston, S.C., when Lee Svitak Dean, reporting for The Minneapolis Star Tribune, said she had spotted him typing on his phone at precisely the same times that Bourdain posts were going up. She immediately posted her accusation on Twitter.

“I started looking around to see who was the likely person, who has the sort of humor you need and the big-enough ego to be Ruth Bourdain,” Ms. Dean told a reporter. “It’s like playing the game of Clue.”

In 2012, New York magazine casually referred to “Ruth Bourdain (a k a Voice writer Robert Sietsema)” in a mention of “Comfort Me With Offal,” a satirical book Mr. Friedland wrote as Ruth Bourdain and published last fall.

David Sax contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/dining/whos-ruthbourdain-now-we-know.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder: The Other Snowden Drama: Impugning the Messenger

As a pure story, it’s tough to beat the Snowden saga. Man of intrigue? Roger. Crusading reporter? Check. A powerful government in hot pursuit? Yessir. Unclear agendas by foreign countries? Most certainly.

And as Edward J. Snowden made his way across the globe with a disintegrating passport and newly emerged allies, Twitter was there, serving up a new kind of chase coverage, with breathless updates from hovering digital observers speculating about the fleeing leaker’s next move. All day Sunday, it was like watching a spy movie unfold in pixels, except it was all very real and no one knows how it ends.

Almost lost in the international drama was a journalistic one in which Glenn Greenwald, the columnist from The Guardian, found himself in the gunsights on a Sunday morning talk show. The episode was part of a continuing story about the role of the press in conveying secrets to the public.

If you add up the pulling of news organization phone records (The Associated Press), the tracking of individual reporters (Fox News), and the effort by the current administration to go after sources (seven instances and counting in which a government official has been criminally charged with leaking classified information to the news media), suggesting that there is a war on the press is less hyperbole than simple math.

For the time being, it is us (the press) versus them (federal officials), which is part of the reason David Gregory ended up taking a lot of incoming fire for suggesting on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that Glenn Greenwald may have committed crimes, not journalism, when he published leaks by Mr. Snowden.

“To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?” he said in the interview.

Mr. Greenwald responded assertively.

“I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” Mr. Greenwald responded.

“The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence — the idea that I’ve ‘aided and abetted’ him in any way.”

Mr. Gregory may have thought he was just being provocative, but if you tease apart his inquiry, it suggests there might be something criminal in reporting out important information from a controversial source.

In using the term “aided and abetted,” Mr. Gregory adopted the nomenclature of Representative Peter T. King, a Republican of New York who has argued that Mr. Greenwald should be arrested, lately on Fox News.

Writing in The Washington Post, Erik Wemple expressed deep skepticism about Mr. Gregory’s assumptions.

“The entire question of Greenwald’s ‘aiding and abetting,’ furthermore, collapses when considering what it would entail,” he wrote. “Snowden was a contractor for the National Security Agency. Over his years of work in intelligence, he developed an exquisite understanding of the government’s eavesdropping activities. Plus, he had passcodes and access privileges that came with his position.”

Mr. Gregory’s position on the show was that as a journalist raising questions he was “not actually embracing any particular point of view.”

“There’s a question about his role in this,” he said, referring to Mr. Greenwald. “The Guardian’s role in all of this. It is actually part of the debate; rather than going after the questioner, he could take on the issues. And he had an opportunity to do that here on ‘Meet the Press.’ ”

The press is frequently accused of giving itself a pass, but the present moment would seem like a good time for a bit of solidarity. The current administration’s desire for control of information is not a new phenomenon, but at this juncture, there is a clear need for a countervailing force in favor of openness.

There will be, as Ben Smith pointed out on BuzzFeed, an attempt to depict the sources of information as rogues and traitors, a process that will accelerate now that WikiLeaks has begun assisting Mr. Snowden. “Snowden is what used to be known as a source,” Mr. Smith wrote. “And reporters don’t, and shouldn’t, spend too much time thinking about the moral status of their sources.”

Politicians would like to conflate the actions of reporters and their sources, but the law draws a very clear and bright line between the two in an effort to protect speech and enable transparency. Mr. Greenwald may have a point of view and his approach to journalism is through the prism of activism, but he functioned as a journalist and deserves the protections that go with the job.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/business/media/the-other-snowden-drama-impugning-the-messenger.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

As Social Media Swirl Around It, Supreme Court Sticks to Its Analog Ways

They will be joined, if Twitter is any guide, by thousands of anxious, curious people across the country eagerly waiting for the court to rule on a remarkable number of major cases with huge implications. With just days remaining in its 2013 schedule, the court has left dangling its considered opinions on same-sex marriage, affirmative action and the nation’s voting rights laws.

“We all crave information instantaneously,” said Ms. Blatt, a lawyer at Arnold Porter who has argued 33 cases before the court, including one that is still pending this year. Last Monday, and again last Thursday, she found herself scouring legal blogs, looking for whatever clues might exist.

“I always thought those people were strange, and there I was, doing it,” she said. “People are dying to know something that they can’t.”

In a city beset by leaks — a young programmer recently gave a hoard of top-secret documents to newspapers — the high court’s annual rulings remain stubbornly opaque until they are handed out (on paper, first) by the court’s public relations staff. Meanwhile, the nine justices have the luxury of appearing publicly oblivious to the swirl of social media, the angst of Washington’s legal community and the voracious appetite of America’s 24-hour news cycle.

Many Washington institutions are making the high-tech transition; even the chairman of the Federal Reserve holds regular news conferences now. But like the Kremlinologists of the cold war, who deduced Communist power struggles by a leader’s presence on the Red Square reviewing stand, modern-day court watchers can do little more than speculate about when and how the court might rule.

“You never know when it’s going to come down,” said Mr. Olson, a former solicitor general who would know, if anyone would. A court observer for decades, he has shown up on each of the last three decision days at the court. “I just try to prepare for anything.”

Mr. Griffin is a founder of the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the organization that filed the legal challenge to Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California. Four times in the last two weeks, the court has issued decisions in other cases but not about that law’s constitutionality. Each time, Mr. Griffin has returned home and unpacked, lest his suits become wrinkled.

On Monday, Mr. Griffin will return once again, joined by the four plaintiffs in the case, who plan to stay in Washington until the high court rules, before they return home to California. If the court overturns the ballot initiative, the couples hope to have a wedding ceremony as soon as possible.

Across California, gay rights organizations have started many early mornings refreshing their Web pages for news and then going back to bed. Staff members at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center have elaborate plans for action after any outcome, and they are preparing to head into the office in the early morning as they anticipate widespread celebration or protest in West Hollywood.

And lawyers at the office of California’s attorney general, Kamala D. Harris, have been preparing for weeks with legal memos anticipating a wide range of possible outcomes.

The Web is ready, too. On Thursday, after the justices once again did not issue rulings in any of the biggest cases, news organizations blared the “news” to their followers. “BREAKING NEWS: No major decisions from Supreme Court today,” the Yahoo News site announced on its Twitter feed. Another Twitter user wryly observed: “Clearly all Supreme Court judges were unpopular kids in high school and, excited by all the attention now, are gonna drag this out.”

A year ago, in the minutes before the court announced its decision on President Obama’s health care law, Twitter users posted more than 13,000 messages a minute about the court. (By comparison, there were 160,000 a minute at the height of the presidential debate in Denver last year.)

The court’s term is dwindling fast. The schedule calls for a round of rulings on Monday, and court observers believe the justices may issue decisions on Wednesday and Thursday as well. There has been speculation of a July 1 session, though Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is scheduled to teach a class on the history of the Supreme Court in Prague on July 2.

There will be other issues in Washington this week. The Senate is set to take a final vote on an immigration overhaul, perhaps on Thursday. (If the court overturns the federal Defense of Marriage Act first, lawmakers may not need to seek immigration protections for same-sex partners of immigrants, advocates said.)

But most of the intellectual guesswork will be about the justices and their rulings.

There are ways, if you know them, to offer educated guesses about the timing and authorship (if not the substance) of the court’s coming decisions. The tricks have become de rigueur among the Washington social set, whose members swap Supreme Court theories at cocktail parties the way Angelenos swap movie industry gossip.

“Everybody around this time starts to try to predict who has the decision and what it’s going to say,” said Irving L. Gornstein, the executive director of the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown University. Mr. Gornstein calls himself a “participant” in the court-guessing parlor games. This year, he said, is the worst he can remember.

“Here you have four huge cases, which is really extraordinary for a Supreme Court term,” Mr. Gornstein said. “I can’t remember when you’ve had this many cases at the end of a term.”

Among the tricks of the court-watching trade is knowing that each of the justices is assigned to write the majority opinion in at least one case during each two-week “sitting,” when cases are heard for oral arguments. On Monday, if there are rulings yet to be announced from a particular sitting, and a justice who has not yet written an opinion from that set of cases, that justice might be a good bet.

Knowledgeable observers also keep close watch on the number of boxes of rulings set out by the public information officers at the court. The more boxes, the more rulings.

“It is a game that everybody’s playing because it’s so important,” Mr. Olson said. “These decisions are really important to the people involved, and they have consequences for a long time.”

Adam Liptak contributed reporting from Washington, and Jennifer Medina from Los Angeles.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/24/us/high-court-sticks-to-its-ways-oblivious-to-social-media.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bits Blog: Love and Hate for Apple’s New Mobile Software

Apple's Craig Federighi introduced features of the new mobile operating system, which has been significantly redesigned.Kimberly White/Getty Images Apple’s Craig Federighi introduced features of the new mobile operating system, which has been significantly redesigned.

Apple this week unveiled a major redesign for iOS, the mobile software system running on iPhones and iPads. The software, called iOS 7, adopts a “flat” design principle that simplifies the look, while introducing thin typography and a vibrant color palette.

After Apple demonstrated iOS 7, Twitter lit up with reactions from designers, Apple fans and even some former Apple employees. The responses were polarized: Some loved the new design, while others despised it.

Here’s a sampling of tweets from notable people in the technology industry.

Andrew Borovsky, a former Apple designer who now works at Square, said the operating system was not designed for everyday people.

John Gruber, owner of Daring Fireball, an influential Apple fan blog, could not begin to fathom why anyone would dislike iOS 7.

Khoi Vinh, a former design director for The New York Times who is now an app developer, suggested that Scott Forstall, Apple’s former head of mobile software who was fired last year, did not have much to worry about.

Matt Gemmell, an Apple app developer, didn’t like some elements of the operating system, but he was otherwise positive about the overall improvements.

Sebastiaan de With, chief creative officer of DoubleTwist, the maker of a music app for mobile devices, disliked the icons and the typography of the system.

Josh Brewer, a designer at Twitter, wondered whether Apple had thoroughly tested iOS 7 before going with this approach.

Article source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/12/love-and-hate-for-apples-new-mobile-software/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Network TV Is Broken. So How Does Shonda Rhimes Keep Making Hits?

When “Scandal,” which is based very, very loosely on the life of the Washington crisis manager Judy Smith, had its debut last spring, it appeared to be a standard soapy procedural with a fizzy twist: the main character, the fierce Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington), was having a torrid interracial affair with the president of the United States, a Republican named Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn). By the end of the first season, however, when the chief of staff was hiring an assassin to kill a former intern who slept with the president, the show had revealed itself to be much wilder than it initially seemed, a brash, addictive mixture of Douglas Sirk and realpolitik, and TV’s most outrageous spectacle.

In the second season, there has been a waterboarding, an assassination attempt and a mail bomb. Three women, a gay man and a sleazy oil baron successfully stole a presidential election. The president personally murdered a Supreme Court justice. One of Olivia’s staff members, a C.I.A.-trained assassin and torturer, sits in on A.A. meetings because he has an addiction to killing people.

As the audacity of “Scandal” has increased, so have its ratings. The series now averages an especially impassioned eight million viewers a week, making it the No. 1 drama at 10 p.m. on any night, on any network, among the most desired demographic, adults 18 to 49. It has also become a highly “social” show: on Thursday nights, Twitter becomes a giant “Scandal” chat room, fans of the show dispatching more than 190,000 tweets per episode, a good portion of which contain at least one “OMG.”

The font of all this fervid storytelling is Rhimes, who, at 43, is often described as the most powerful African-American female show runner in television — which is too many adjectives. She is one of the most powerful show runners in the business, full stop. Rhimes is among the few remaining bona fide network hitmakers; her pull at ABC is matched only by Chuck Lorre, with his three sitcoms at CBS, or Seth MacFarlane, with his three animated shows at Fox. Before “Scandal,” Rhimes created the hit medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and, later, the sudsier “Grey’s” spinoff, “Private Practice,” which ended this past January after a six-year run. Channing Dungey, who oversees ABC’s drama development, describes Rhimes as “incredibly important” to the network. “If she came in tomorrow and said, ‘I have a great idea,’ I would jump at it.” Since 2009, ABC has given over its Thursday-night lineup to a solid two-hour Shonda Rhimes programming block.

Sitting behind her expansive desk, Rhimes continued to go through the script with her writers, finessing dialogue, addressing continuity errors and looking to sharpen the trademark “Scandal” tone. A writer noticed that the phrase “Cyrus is the mole” was repeated four times in an exchange. Rhimes told him not to worry. “It’s the rhythm of the conversation,” she said. “It’s going to be sexy. Trust me.”

As part of her Shondaland production company, Rhimes oversees some 550 actors, writers, crew members and producers, and her days are optimized to do so. In the morning, she gets her older daughter, Harper, who is 10, off to school and then contends with whatever is most urgent: writing, giving notes on a script and watching casting videos. The televisions in her office and home are connected to a system that allows her to watch real-time editing by her editors. Both of her daughters have rooms across the hall from her office at work. The younger, a perfectly chubby-cheeked 1-year-old named Emerson, comes in every day, clambering onto Rhimes’s lap during meetings.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 14, 2013

An earlier version of this article misidentified a film for which Shonda Rhimes wrote the screenplay. It is “The Princess Diaries 2,” not “The Princess Diaries.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/12/magazine/shonda-rhimes.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

The Fox News Anchor Megyn Kelly Renews Contract

Ms. Van Susteren, who signed a long-term contract this week, according to her husband, John Coale, may move out of the 10 p.m. time slot that she has held since 2002. That would open up the hour for Ms. Kelly, now an afternoon anchor, who has long been mentioned as a candidate for a prime time position.

Mr. Coale, a lawyer who represents Ms. Van Susteren in contract negotiations, said he was not aware of any impending scheduling changes. But in a brief telephone interview on Tuesday, he suggested that she would happily move to an earlier hour, perhaps sometime later this year.

Mr. Coale learned in December that he had cancer. (Ms. Van Susteren wrote a blog post about his condition in February, after he had surgery; she did not specify what type of cancer he had.) He is recovering now, he said on Tuesday, and, “I’d like to spend some quality time with my wife, at least before 11 p.m.” He emphasized that he was speaking for himself, not for Ms. Van Susteren, who declined to comment when reached via e-mail.

A prime time change would be, by Fox News scheduling standards, seismic; the channel has had a remarkably consistent lineup of hosts and shows, much to the chagrin of competitors like MSNBC and CNN, which have not. Fox also has its two biggest stars, the 8 p.m. host Bill O’Reilly and the 9 p.m. host Sean Hannity, under contract for several more years.

A Fox spokeswoman, asked to confirm the new deals for Ms. Kelly and Ms. Van Susteren, said, “We will neither confirm nor deny any contract discussions.” Several other people with knowledge of the situation said that Ms. Kelly had renewed her contract. Some of her fans congratulated her on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon after reading about it online.

The people spoke on condition of anonymity because contract talks are usually conducted in secret.

Although some contract renewals are mere formalities, Ms. Kelly’s was not; her future has been the subject of media speculation since late last year. She met with the heads of at least two other television networks. But she decided to stay at Fox News, where she has hosted the two-hour afternoon program “America Live” and co-anchored special reports on election nights for the last three years.

She was widely noticed on election night last year when she walked through the corridors of Fox and asked the channel’s voting analysts about Karl Rove’s assertions that the channel had called Ohio for President Obama prematurely. They, not surprisingly, defended their decision. The moment became a viral hit and bolstered Ms. Kelly’s personal brand as a part of Fox’s news side, not its opinion side.

Not long after that, the chief executive of Fox News, Roger Ailes, acknowledged that “a lot of people will try to recruit her” when her contract came due.

In an interview with TVNewser, Mr. Ailes said, “We’d love her to stay here and be even a bigger star.” He added: “I’d be stunned if she wanted to go to any other cable channel. That’s a real dive off a high cliff. If somebody wanted her to host the ‘Today’ show or something, she’d have to look at that, I suppose.”

Earlier this year, Ms. Kelly spoke with other channels, including CNN, which was very interested in hiring her, according to one of the people who spoke on condition of anonymity. Her representatives also sought a number of meetings with executives at ABC, stirring speculation that she might be in contention for a spot on “Good Morning America.” But “G.M.A.,” the newly No. 1 network morning show, led by Robin Roberts and George Stephanopoulos, has a rather full bench at the moment, and ABC’s conversations with Ms. Kelly went nowhere.

Ms. Kelly’s 1 to 3 p.m. program was watched by an average of 1.1 million viewers in the first quarter of the year, slightly more than the programs before and after it. Prime time hours are more coveted than daytime hours because they generally have higher ratings; Mr. O’Reilly, for instance, attracted nearly three million viewers a night in the first quarter.

But Ms. Van Susteren’s 10 p.m. program, “On the Record,” has been a sore spot on the channel’s schedule. The program had an average of 1.43 million viewers in the first quarter. In the demographic that matters most to advertisers, viewers ages 25 to 54, Ms. Van Susteren attracted 250,000 a night, only 35,000 more than her competitor on MSNBC, Lawrence O’Donnell. At the end of the quarter, MSNBC said in a news release that Fox’s “On the Record” had recorded its “worst quarterly performance ever.”

Still, as Ms. Van Susteren has noted on her blog as recently as last month, the show “has been No. 1 for 11 plus years” among total viewers, a winning streak that has few parallels in the news industry.

One of the people with knowledge of the situation cautioned on Tuesday that “nothing’s decided.”

Another person noted that no change was imminent because Ms. Kelly is pregnant with her third child. She said in February that her baby was due this summer.

Mr. Ailes, meanwhile, has one other contract negotiation coming up this year. Shepard Smith, the channel’s 7 p.m. host, has a deal that expires at the end of the year, according to TV Guide. In an interview last month, Mr. Smith said he had had no contract talks yet, but he also said: “I love it at Fox News. I love working for Roger Ailes. I want to do what’s best for everybody involved.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/business/media/fox-news-anchor-megyn-kelly-renews-contract.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Condé Nast Introduces Web Series for Its Magazines

Last year, the latest innovation every magazine wanted to release was an iPad edition. This year, it’s online video content.

Condé Nast’s Entertainment Group introduced 30 programs at its first presentation made during the Digital Content NewFronts. Dawn Ostroff, president of Condé Nast Entertainment, presented shows that have already started to appear on Glamour’s Web site, like “Fashion Week Ride-Along” with its editor in chief Cindi Leive and “Elevator Makeover,” in which a woman receives a fashion makeover during an elevator ride. She also offered a glimpse of the 10 programs scheduled to begin soon on Vogue’s site, like “Vogue Weddings” and “Vintage Bowles,” in which the Vogue editor Hamish Bowles shops the world for clothes.

Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, Epicurious and Style.com are also expected to unveil programs by the year’s end, and Condé Nast said it hoped to distribute content through partnerships with Yahoo, AOL and Twitter.

“Each brand will have its own mix,” said Fred Santarpia, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Condé Nast Entertainment.

The company officially introduced its entertainment group in October 2011 to expand into film and television, but before Wednesday, the group had received little attention except for criticism from some writers who said the venture was curbing their film and television options.

The presentation on Wednesday also let the entertainment group finally show the fruits of its video labors, which appear to be in all stages of development. Glamour and GQ are the furthest along because they have already unveiled programs. Vogue will start to introduce shows on May 8, and Wired magazine will follow a week later with four programs, including an animated series.

Robert A. Sauerberg Jr., president of Condé Nast, stressed that the company’s new focus on video would never surpass its interest in print.

“Our company is founded in print,” he said. “This is an extension of what we are doing. We see this as a new business that is not in lieu of but in addition to.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/business/media/conde-nast-introduces-web-series-for-its-magazines.html?partner=rss&emc=rss