It rained on Burning Man this week, delaying the start of the experimental, utopian festival in the Nevada desert attended by many technology entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Burning Man’s usual meteorological challenge is dust storms, so it made a change for the desert to imitate Glastonbury by turning to mud.
Bernie Ecclestone, the 83-year-old supremo of Formula One, this week brought his empire-threatening bribery trial to an end by agreeing to pay $100m to the German court that was hearing the case. That is right: he paid off the state of Bavaria to escape a bribery charge.
My first reaction to the $73bn bid from 21st Century Fox for Time Warner, which this week settled in for a prolonged fight as Time Warner blocked Fox from mounting a rapid assault on its board of directors, was to ask: what problem is Rupert Murdoch trying to solve?
Rupert Murdoch is not exactly putting his money where his mouth is with 21st Century Fox’s unsolicited $80bn offer for Time Warner. By offering non-voting Fox shares as part of the cash-and-stock bid he has made clear that he will not risk his voting grip on his family-controlled company. Read more >>
President Business, The Lego Movie's villain (AP)
Business schools love Lego. One Wharton professor co-wrote a tribute to the Danish toymaker, arguing that it “rewrote the rules of innovation”. But has this case study taken an anti-capitalist turn?
The baddie in The Lego Movie, out this month, is called President Business, prompting excitable Fox Business TV pundits to froth about the brand being used to brainwash kids against the profit motive. Rustbelt leftie Michael Moore tweeted his approval of the film, adding fuel to the fire.
However, having seen the film last weekend, I can assure any Ayn Rand-worshipping FT readers that it is not a threat. Read more >>
Steve Jobs has joined Lenovo. Well, almost.
Actually the truth is only a little less outlandish. Ashton Kutcher, the Hollywood star of Two and a Half Men, who recently played the Apple co-founder in the poorly-received biopic Jobs, is the Chinese computer group’s latest recruit: a product engineer. Read more >>
JK Rowling is very annoyed at Russells, a London law firm that specialises in entertainment and media, for leaking the fact that she had written The Cuckoo’s Calling under the name Robert Galbraith. Read more >>
Expect more Chinese heroes. That seems to be the clear message of the tie-up announced on Wednesday between China’s Seven Stars and Pinewood Shepperton Studios. Among other things, it should allow Chinese co-productions wider distribution in the fast-growing Chinese market, provided, my colleague Robert Cookson writes, they have “at least one Chinese actor, some scenes to be filmed in China, and somehow relate to China”. Read more >>
If I were a 72-year-old billionaire with interests in three Los Angeles sports teams and venues from the Californian city’s Staples Center to London’s O2 Arena, I might be inclined to relax, put my feet up and count on enjoying another 15, even 20, years of guaranteed VIP seating at the best live events in the world. But I am not Philip Anschutz, the Denver-based billionaire who has just put Anschutz Entertainment Group, his sport, music and entertainment company on the block.
We’re unlikely to hear the explanation for this decision direct from the mogul himself. One of the few live events AEG has not had a hand in staging or hosting recently is a press conference or interview starring Philip Anschutz. Read more >>
The internet industry scored a tactical victory this week with Wednesday’s blackout of sites such as Wikipedia and Reddit, and the White House’s decision to oppose parts of two bills intended to curb the file-sharing of films and copyrighted material. “Piracy rules,” tweeted Rupert Murdoch angrily.
Spider-Man at last opened on Tuesday night on Broadway, having already been playing to audiences for six months of “previews” that produced disastrously bad notices, injuries to five actors who fell off the set or crashed from the hanging wires, and the eventual firing of Julie Taymor, its original director.
When creative stars explode, they do so with a more spectacular bang than the average sufferer from a midlife crisis.
Christian Dior this week fired John Galliano, its 50-year-old chief designer, for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks to a couple in a bar. He denied the claims but it seems that he told others in the same bar: “I love Hitler” and that their forefathers would have been “gassed” – a video of Mr Galliano slurring those words was published by The Sun.
Avatar has been declared the “future of movies” and it may be – though perhaps not quite in the way Hollywood thinks. Barely a month after launch it has generated more than $2bn in ticket sales, becoming the top-grossing film of all time. Its popularity is almost entirely down to the amazing 3-D special effects rather than a compelling plot or a roster of bankable stars, since it has neither of those. Is this the point where, once-and-for-all, technology overtakes talent as the driver of box office success? Pixar’s animated features, after all, have already shown the way. And since technology tends to get cheaper every year, while movie stars don’t, perhaps this signals a shift in the industry that puts power and profits back into the hands of the studios. This is not true of Avatar itself, of course. Reputedly, director James Cameron stands to make even more ($400m) than News Corp’s Fox ($300m), as shown in yesterday’s results. But as 3-D effects become commonplace, studio’s won’t need a James Cameron behind the camera every time.
Good luck to the search committee of General Motors in finding a new chief executive.
The abrupt departure of Fritz Henderson from the job this afternoon under pressure from Ed Whitacre, GM’s chairman (and temporary replacement as chief executive) leaves the company looking for someone to take his place. Read more >>
The Companies & Markets section of the US edition of the FT has the following headlines today:
Apple leaps ahead with 47 per cent surge in profits Read more >>