April 20, 2021

Guidelines for Animal Safety on Film Sets Questioned

And the book is voluminous, 131 pages of guidelines imposed by the American Humane Association on film and television productions, all seeking those coveted words of approval: “No animal was harmed.”

Still, animals sometimes are harmed, and when they are, the public outcry is swift. A year ago, after a third horse was injured and euthanized on the HBO series “Luck” — the horse reared, flipped over backward and struck her head on the ground — the company announced the next day that it was canceling the show.

Incidents like those on “Luck” focus attention on the humane association and its ability to monitor and enforce standards. In the aftermath of those deaths, animal rights groups pressed for answers amid suggestions of negligence, and a former association employee filed a wrongful termination suit, saying she was punished for lodging complaints about the treatment of horses.

More recently, there was a reaction over the deaths of some two dozen animals during production of the “Hobbit” films and a recent Kmart commercial on which a shark died. In a statement last Thursday, the humane association, which is based in Washington, said it was investigating the death last week of a dog that had been taken to a clinic at the association’s behest after showing signs of distress before it was called to the set of a commercial shoot.

Trainers and others in the business accuse the association of being too cozy with the industry, which provides its financing, and of being more interested in expanding its power than exercising it.

The humane association argues that it is struggling to meet the challenges of protecting animals in an era of modern filmmaking. “We’re not covering enough animal action, because of the way the business model in the industry has changed,” Robin R. Ganzert, the association’s chief executive, said in a phone interview last month.

Ms. Ganzert and others suggest that the association’s resources and authority are too limited in an era that has brought the proliferation of smaller productions — like indie films, cable TV and even Internet productions — as well as a sharp rise in public expectations regarding animal safety.

Many of these issues will get a hearing at a planned meeting on Wednesday at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences here. So far, however, studio response has been cautious. Queried about plans to attend, no major studio except Warner Brothers confirmed that it would attend.

Film companies generally value the association’s certification, which tends to allay public concern about animal scenes, and few would suggest that the current financial shortfalls are beyond the reach of an industry that churns through billions of dollars in revenue each year. But the studios have yet to address the problem, partly because executives are wary of meddling with a financing system devised to operate at arm’s length.

Still, word of the planned get-together is provoking a fierce reaction among animal trainers and others who have not been invited (though a trainer will join a panel discussion). Some suspect the association of a power-grab that is meant to increase income, and cover its own failings.

Trainers, who are already heavily regulated by state and federal officials, are particularly incensed by the idea that the association might seek to extend its authority beyond film sets, to include certification of those who house and supply animals — something they see as an attempt to bolster funds by tapping them for fees.

“It feels to us that they’re becoming an animal rights organization no longer interested in what’s right and wrong in the industry, but only in collecting money,” said Benay Karp, an animal-keeper whose company is equipped to supply trained skunks, prairie dogs, hummingbirds or, if the scene calls for it, a rhinoceros.

In January, Ms. Karp led an uprising in which about three dozen trainers and others confronted association officials at their Studio City office. The trainers complained that the group had failed to back them in disputes with aggressive producers and directors, has often dispatched monitors who had no specific experience with exotic animals on a set, and was getting too chummy with the industry it watches.

They cited Hallmark Channel’s “2011 Hero Dog Awards,” for which Ms. Ganzert was an executive producer. Some trainers said the association had crossed a line by supplying a dog that was not specifically trained for film.

“We turned it into a listening meeting,” Karen Rosa, who oversees the association’s film and television operation, said of the showdown. “For some people, we’ll always be too tough. For others, we’ll never be tough enough.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/15/business/media/guidelines-for-animal-safety-on-film-sets-questioned.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Bank of America Confirms 30,000 Jobs to Go

In a widely anticipated speech at an investor conference organized by Barclays in New York, Mr. Moynihan outlined his plan to make Bank of America, the largest bank in the United States, more efficient and profitable even if that means sacrificing scale. “We don’t have to be the biggest company out there,” he said. “We have to be the best.”

While he did not specify the number of jobs that might be involved, the company announced shortly after his speech that 30,000 jobs are to be eliminated under the company’s Project New BAC cost-cutting initiative. The initial recommendations by the architects of New BAC, which takes its name from the company’s ticker symbol, were reviewed last Thursday and Friday by the company’s top management in Charlotte, N.C.

“As the decisions are implemented, employment levels in the areas under review during Phase I are expected to be reduced by approximately 30,000 jobs over the next few years,” the bank said in a statement. “The company expects that attrition and the elimination of appropriate unfilled roles will be a significant part of the anticipated decrease in jobs.”

The first part of New BAC involves the consumer banking operations of the company, as well as its home loan, technology and support operations. Other parts of the business, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, will be reviewed in the second phase, which begins in October and continues through March 2012.

Out of $73 billion in annual expenses, Mr. Moynihan aims to cut at least $5 billion by shutting some of its 63 data centers, eliminating overlapping deposit systems and trimming layers of back-office staff accumulated during the acquisition binge undertaken by his predecessor, Ken Lewis.

“It’s taking out work we don’t need to do any more, and getting it out of the company,” he said. “We’re a much simpler company than we were 24 months ago.”

While the speech fell short of the bold blueprint many analysts and investors had been hoping for, Bank of America shares rose in early trading by 1.1 percent to $7.06.

It has been a very busy summer for Mr. Moynihan. In the last few weeks, the company has announced a management shake-up, a $5 billion investment by Warren E. Buffett and the sale of more than $15 billion in assets.

None of those major news events have propped up the bank’s battered stock, which is down nearly 30 percent since the beginning of August.

During the question-and-answer part of the session, Mr. Moynihan was asked whether Bank of America had been asked by the federal regulators to raise capital at the time of Mr. Buffett’s investment. Mr. Moynihan said they had not.

A shareholder asked him: “Can you or would you bankrupt Countrywide?” Mounting losses at Countrywide Financial are still plaguing the bank, three years after Bank of America bought it for $2.8 billion when Countrywide nearly collapsed into bankruptcy as its financing dried up.

Mr. Moynihan answered that in dealing with the troubled mortgage giant, the bank “looks at all our options on everything.”

When the questioner followed up by asking Mr. Moynihan if he was saying that bankrupting Countrywide was a viable option, Mr. Moynihan again demurred. “There are options around all this stuff that we continue to work on,” he said.

Angry investors are trying to force Bank of America, and other large banks, to buy back billions of dollars worth of mortgages that have defaulted, arguing that the home loans did not conform to the original underwriting standards or were originated with little evidence of adequate assets on the part of borrowers.

In other cases, investors including the federal government and the insurance giant A.I.G. want to recover tens of billions of dollars from the big banks for losses on securities they assembled from now-troubled subprime mortgages.

Then there is the investigation by state attorneys general into mortgage servicing abuses, which could cost the big banks more than $20 billion in a proposed settlement that so far they’ve been unable to finalize. “The attorneys generals settlement is part of what can move us forward, but the settlement has to be reasonable for the company and reasonable for shareholders,” Mr. Moynihan said.

Kevin Roose contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/business/ceo-promises-cuts-at-bank-of-america.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder: CBS on Top, Again, as Upfront Market Ends

As the big English-language broadcast networks wrap up their advertising sales before the start of the 2011-12 season, in what is known as the upfront market, CBS is again taking the lead in total volume.

CBS completed its upfront sales process on Thursday, hours after ABC said that it had finished. Like ABC, and the other two broadcasters that are done, CW and Fox, sales executives at CBS are writing business with robust increases in total volume as well as in rates.

CBS’s total volume is being estimated at $2.5 billion to $2.55 billion, compared with $2.4 billion in the upfront market last year, which took place before the start of the 2010-11 season. Like last year, ABC’s total volume is second to CBS’s. ABC’s tally is being estimated at $2.3 billion to $2.4 billion.

Fox Broadcasting, which was first across the finish line last Thursday, is estimated to have sold $1.98 billion to $1.99 billion. CW, which was done on Tuesday, is estimated at $400 million to $420 million.

NBC is expected to complete its upfront sales later on Thursday or Friday. NBC is estimated to have sold $1.6 billion in total volume in the upfront market last year, and no analyst expects NBC’s take to grow so much that it would surpass CBS’s.

In terms of rate increases, known as cost per thousand viewers, CBS is also running ahead of its competitors.

The CBS increases in cost per thousand viewers are being estimated at 13 to 15 percent. The network’s sales executives were reported to have initially asked for increases in the range of 18 percent.

ABC, Fox and CW all increased their rates at around 10 to 11 percent.

Analysts had predicted that the five big English-language networks would do well because of the recent strong demand for commercial time on television.

As for its inventory, CBS sold about 80 percent of its total commercial time for the coming season in the upfront market.

Fox also sold about 80 percent and CW sold an estimated 75 to 80 percent. It was not immediately known what ABC decided to do about its inventory.

Commercial time that is not sold in the upfront market is held back to sell during the season in what is known as the scatter market.

In addition to the major English-language broadcasters, there are upfront markets for Hispanic television as well as cable channels.

ABC is part of the Walt Disney Company. CBS is owned by the CBS Corporation. CW is owned by the CBS Corporation and Time Warner. Fox is part of the News Corporation. And NBC is a unit of the NBCUniversal division of Comcast.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=75de7f22d222e446a044a563fd1bb95c