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Star Wars Fans Not Thrilled that Disney is Embracing its Darth Side

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 31, 2012 04:43 PM

The Walt Disney Company's announcement that it's buying Lucasfilm — the production company owned by producer/director George Lucas — for $4.05 billion means every last bit of the Star Wars franchise is now part of the Mickey Mouse Empire. The deal shouldn't come as a huge surprise, given the success of Star Wars-themed weekends luring amateur Jedi warriors and Darth Vaders to Disney parks.

Even though series creator Lucas says that there is such “a large group of ideas and characters and books and all kinds of things” that new Star Wars movies could be coming out for the next 100 years, fans of the franchise are a little confused that their cinnamon-roll-haired Princess Leia is now on the same squad with such gals as Pocahontas, Snow White, Ariel, and Cinderella.

Fans won’t have to wait 100 years for the next film, however. The first one under new ownership, Star Wars VII, will hit screens in 2015. Some, though, are not happy about the news.Continue reading...

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Pepsi Announces Beyonce as Next Super Bowl Half-Time Performer

Posted by Shirley Brady on October 16, 2012 05:31 PM

Pepsi announced on Twitter and Facebook that it is returning to Super Bowl advertising with a big pop.

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Microsoft Takes Aim at Apple and Google With Xbox Music

Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 15, 2012 11:14 AM

Microsoft’s Zune is no more, but that doesn’t mean the computer giant is shunning the music-buying public. It announced Monday that it is getting back into the music business by providing 30 million free tunes through its upcoming Windows 8 as well as on Xbox consoles starting Tuesday. (Apple’s iTunes “only” has about 26 million tunes, the BBC notes.)

The pitch for Xbox Music: "Enjoy your favorite music from a 30 million-song global catalog powered by the one service that integrates your music experiences across your tablet, PC, phone and TV. All the music you love, every way you want it."

“The service is part of a broad set of bets Microsoft is making this fall to help regain ground it has lost to competitors, especially Apple and Google,” the New York Times reports. Along with Windows 8, Microsoft is about to release a new Windows Phone operating system for mobiles as well as a tablet, the Surface. The bean counters in Redmond, Washington, are clearly hoping for a big fourth quarter holiday season, including ramping up maketing efforts and opening holiday pop-ups in key markets.Continue reading...

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VIDEO: Watch Sony's New 007 Skyfall Trailer Featuring Adele's Theme Song

Posted by Shirley Brady on October 9, 2012 01:15 PM

Continuing on our Skyfall theme today, Sony Pictures has released its latest trailer for its upcoming James Bond movie, for the first time featuring Adele's theme song.

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Velvet Underground Plan to A-peel Warhol Banana Ruling

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 11, 2012 05:10 PM

Andy Warhol helped establish Lou Reed's old band, Velvet Underground. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers used to be the house band at Warhol’s Factory happenings in NYC and laid down the tunes at the famed artist’s exquisitely named Exploding Plastic Inevitable events. Heck, Warhol managed the band in its early days.

Perhaps most famously of all, Warhol's painting of a banana graced the cover of the band’s 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico, inarguably one of the most influential rock albums of all time despite not selling many copies when it first came out. Brian Eno reportedly quipped that only 10,000 people bought the disc, but all of them went out and then formed bands. 

So Warhol’s banana, which he never trademarked, became a symbol of that album and the rock revolution that marked the decade. So when the Underground’s lawyers got word that the Warhol Foundation had licensed the image for use on iPhone and iPad products, a suit was filed; it marked a moment of incongruity to a relationship that had long seemed harmonious.Continue reading...

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Amazon Prime'd to Vanquish Netflix

Posted by Sheila Shayon on September 3, 2012 09:47 AM

As the grandfather of streaming video, Netflix has suffered the slings and arrows of being out front, exacerbated by hubris and internal missteps.

The video rental company's announcement of separate fees for DVD and streaming services a year ago was a disaster, one that was exacerbated by CEO Reed Hastings’ foot-in-mouth comment regarding subscriber outrage, "It's something we'll monitor, but Americans are somewhat self-absorbed."

“Despite shrinking margins, a weakening balance sheet and increased competition, the stock was bullet-proof. Netflix was the great Achilles that vanquished Blockbuster Video with a little assistance from Coinstar's Redbox. But like Achilles, Netflix was not invulnerable,” notes Seeking Alpha.

Enter Amazon and its move to free video streaming with Amazon Prime in February 2011, membership priced at $79/year, including free Super Saver Shipping, free book rentals via Kindle and the add-on to rent or buy digital movies and TV shows for an additional fee providing newer content overall than on Netflix.Continue reading...

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Hertz Woos Customers With Free Music Downloads

Posted by Sheila Shayon on August 8, 2012 10:21 AM

Forget free GPS — Hertz is sweetening car rental deals by offering Gold Plus Rewards members free music downloads with every rental.

The brand's new Hertz Music Store, the digital dashboard for its Hertz's Movin' with Music program, lets renters acquire music from thousands of artists and in the kick-off the initiative, any Gold Plus Rewards member who rents a car through August 31, 2012 gets three free song downloads per rental.

"For Hertz customers, the connection between the open road and great music runs deep," stated Hertz Chairman and CEO Mark Frissora. "With the Hertz Music Store, loyal Hertz customers will have a new way to download, for free, the music they love, making their travel experiences even more enjoyable."Continue reading...

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Sir Richard Branson Ready to Return to His Roots as a Music Maven

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 18, 2012 11:20 AM

The record company that made Sir Richard Branson the man that he is today may be back on the block soon and the billionaire who parlayed Virgin Records into a global house of brands is saying that he wouldn’t mind putting the business he sold back into his own back pocket.

Universal Music Group is attempting to purchase EMI but it may be forced to ditch Virgin the process by regulators, according to the Guardian (UMG is reportedly ready to offer concessions to get the deal done). Branson, meanwhile, has spoken with French entrepreneur Patrick Zelnik, a former Virgin exec, about buying Virgin together. Branson let it be known that he is ready to join the bid for Virgin Records if it is sold by Universal Music Group as a condition of the major label's £1.2 billion acquisition of EMI Music.

”Richard Branson and Virgin have been assessing how to get back into recorded music business for many years," said a spokesman for Virgin Group, according to the Guardian. "The potential disposal of Virgin Records by Universal Music offers a wonderful opportunity to recreate a dynamic independent label in the market."Continue reading...

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