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Morning Media Newsfeed: Sony’s Pascal to Step Down | Williams Draws Criticism

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Amy Pascal to Step Down From Top Sony Post (THR)
Amid the fallout of the Sony hacking crisis, Amy Pascal will step down from her post as co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment. PRNewser We’ve read enough well-spun corporate statements to know that this is the beginning of the end for Pascal, though she will still get production credits on the coming Ghostbusters reboot and future Amazing Spider-Man movies. Variety She will remain at the studio as part of a new producing deal. Pascal will stay in place through May, at which point she will take the reins at her new venture. No decision has been made on her replacement, according to an individual with knowledge of the situation, but there is a deep bench on the Sony lot. Politico / Dylan Byers on Media Pascal had served as co-chair alongside CEO Michael Lynton since 2006. The cyber attack, by the hacking group Guardians of Peace, exposed Pascal’s private emails, as well as the personal information and social security numbers of staff, film budgets and financial figures. A threat from the hackers also led several theaters to cancel showings of Sony’s The Interview. WSJ As recently as November, Pascal was negotiating with Sony to extend her contract, which expires in March, according to emails stolen by the hackers and released online. However, she was damaged more than other executives by leaked emails, which revealed she was struggling to find a new direction for the studio’s Spider-Man franchise, second-guessing many of her own decisions, and facetiously speculated about whether President Obama prefers movies starring black actors.

Brian Williams’ Apology Draws Mixed Reviews From Mission Vets (Stars And Stripes)
Apologies by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams for a false claim of being on a helicopter forced down by Iraqi rocket fire in 2003 satisfied some soldiers who were there but left a few insisting that details were still misrepresented. Williams admitted on air that he was not on the Chinook that was struck by enemy fire, saying he was \»instead on a following aircraft\» and writing a Facebook apology to soldiers saying \»I was indeed on the Chinook behind the bird that took the RPG.\» FishbowlNY According to David Luke, a retired soldier from Texas who was a flight engineer with a company of the helicopters under the 159th Aviation Regiment, the Williams formation of three Chinooks was headed back to Kuwait, flying at one point over a white Iraqi pick-up truck. Another company of Chinooks, he says, flew past in the opposite direction towards Baghdad and were subsequently fired on by the men in that pick-up. WSJ It remains to be seen if there will be a backlash against Williams from NBC viewers. But Williams has been lambasted by other media professionals and former journalists. NBC, a unit of Comcast Corp., had no comment on Williams’ actions and wouldn’t say what steps, if any, it might take as a result of them. TVNewser Among high-profile journalists, few have declared themselves solidly in favor of Williams continuing in his role as anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.

ISIS Video Brings Huge Traffic to FoxNews.com (TVNewser)
Fox News executives didn’t know how many people would actually want to see the unedited — and horrific — video released by ISIS that seems to show a captured Jordanian pilot being burned to death. Mediaite The 22.5-minute video has accounted for a total of 10 percent of all streams since it was posted on the Fox News site Tuesday. Fox executive John Moody said earlier this week they decided this video was important to show viewers the reality of ISIS brutality. The Washington Post / Erik Wemple The raw video from the Islamic State plus the news package featuring Fox News correspondent Catherine Herridge accounted for about 50 percent of the video streams on FoxNews.com Wednesday, when the site delivered 7.7 million streams. That’s about double the normal volume. All of these figures stem from Omniture metrics provided by Fox News. HuffPost Fox News’ Howard Kurtz told Megyn Kelly Thursday night that he does not stand with the network in their choice. Just the day before, Special Report host Bret Baier chose to air still images from the video during his program. Kurtz said that posting the video in full only helps to “spread the fear” of ISIS.

Time Inc. Restructures Communications Team (FishbowlNY)
Time Inc. just announced a restructuring of its communications team, and as always when you have the \»r word,\» people are out of jobs. According to a memo, executive VP, corporate communications Teri Everett will be leaving, as well as Time Inc. veteran Nancy Valentino, who served as senior VP, communications and brand development. Everett had joined Time Inc. in 2012; Valentino in 2003. PRNewser The company will be \»eliminating the role of EVP, corporate communications.\» In place of the two ousted executives, former VP of investor relations Jaison Blair will assume the role of \»SVP in charge of corporate communications.\» Poynter / MediaWire Susan Parkes, senior vice president of marketing, will oversee \»communications efforts for People and Entertainment Weekly.\»

Disney Names Thomas Staggs Chief Operating Officer (THR)
Disney on Thursday named Thomas Staggs its new COO, a move that makes him the top candidate to replace CEO Robert Iger when he retires in mid-2018. Disney had been operating without a COO since 2005 when Iger was promoted from that role to chief executive, replacing Michael Eisner. WSJ Thomas Staggs has run the company’s parks and resorts unit since 2010 following a 12-year run as Disney’s chief financial officer. All of the company’s operating divisions, including movies, television, consumer products and parks, now will report to him as well as to Iger. Variety Disney sources emphasized that Staggs’ promotion to COO does not give him a lock on inheriting the top job from Iger. His strategic vision and leadership skills will be closely evaluated by the Disney board during the next three years. \»By no means is this a guarantee,\» said a source close to the situation.

Books, Digital Real Estate Assets Lift News Corp. Results (Reuters)
News Corp., owner of The Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins, reported quarterly revenue and a profit just above analysts’ consensus forecast as its book publishing and real estate businesses offset dwindling print revenue. THR News Corp., which was spun off from Fox’s entertainment assets in 2013, reported $142 million in net income compared to $150 million in the same quarter of the prior year. That means it had earnings of 24 cents per share compared to 26 cents per share in fiscal 2014. WSJ Revenue rose 2 percent to $2.28 billion, limited by $72 million in foreign exchange losses related to declines in the Australian dollar. Results were also impacted by a higher effective tax rate and lower interest income.

Changes at People, EW (FishbowlNY)
The dust has settled around People and Entertainment Weekly. A few days ago, we reported that Matt Bean was out as editor of EW and Henry Goldblatt would succeed him. Now, Bean has been named senior VP, editorial innovation, a new role at Time Inc. \»In this position, he will develop new editorial products and content verticals that leverage emerging audiences and technology,\» wrote Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp, in a memo announcing the changes. New York Post Goldblatt moved to People as deputy editor a year ago when Jess Cagle was promoted from EW editor to editorial director of People. But Cagle has always had oversight over EW as group editorial director.

Twitter Q4 Earnings: 288 Million Monthly Active Users, $479 Million Revenue, $0.12 EPS (SocialTimes)
Twitter’s fourth quarter earnings for 2014 are out and the all-important monthly active users (MAU) number is, once again, soft. Twitter reported 288 million MAUs for Q4 2014, up just 4 million on Q3’s 284 million, which was well below analyst expectations (which ranged between 287 to 292 million for the period). THR The social media company reported revenue of $479 million, a 97 percent increase over the same period last year, and earnings of 20 cents per share, minus some expenses. That beat analyst expectations of $453 million in revenue and adjusted earnings of 6 cents per share.

Lionsgate’s Quarterly Earnings Showcase TV Production Growth (THR)
The popularity of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 helped Lionsgate narrowly beat quarterly earnings expectations, with the company reporting on Thursday that it earned 65 cents per share, one cent above analysts’ expectations. Revenue, though, was down 11 percent to $751.3 million. Variety Lionsgate reported earnings above Wall Street forecasts with $98.2 million, or 70 cents a share, for its third fiscal quarter ended Dec. 31, up 11 percent from the year-ago quarter. The stock was down about 2 percent in afterhours trading, sliding 56 cents to $28.74.

Reuters Adds Two to Top News Team (FishbowlNY)
Reuters has added two staffers to its top news team in the Americas. Sue Horton joins as top news editor of the West Coast. Horton was most recently the LA Times’ op-ed editor. Stuart Grudgings has been named a foreign policy and health contributor. He most recently served as Reuters’ Malaysia bureau.

Harper Lee Is Thrilled About New Book (GalleyCat)
Author Harper Lee is \»happy as hell\» about the publication of her second novel. HarperCollins issued a statement from the author’s attorney which shared Lee’s response to her upcoming book Go Set A Watchman.

Studios Call for MPAA Overhaul, Adding New Members (Variety)
Hollywood studios are considering plans to bring new members into the MPAA along with other changes to revamp the organization, which is supported largely by hefty dues from its six major-studio member companies, studio and lobbying sources confirmed on Thursday.

Bruce Gersh Joins ITV Studios America as Head of Digital (Deadline)
ITV Studios America has tapped industry vet Bruce Gersh for the newly created position of EVP & head of digital, strategy and branded entertainment. Gersh will focus on maximizing opportunities for brand expansions and revenue streams for ITV’s content based in the company’s Los Angeles headquarters.

Sony Stock Jumps 12 Percent on Strong Results (THR)
Sony Corp. stock jumped 12 percent Thursday in Tokyo after its strong quarterly earnings beat expectations with operating income of $1.45 billion (¥178 billion) announced on Wednesday, with troubled Sony Pictures even staying in the black. The stock ended the day at ¥3,101.5 ($26.42) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, and is now up 95 percent over the last 12 months.

Huffington Post Hires Media Editor (Talking Biz News)
Huffington Post Media Group has hired Gabriel Arana as its senior media editor, starting Feb. 9. He will oversee the Huffington Post’s Media section.

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