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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
August 29

Entertainment News August 29 - TOP 3 Stories for Wednesday

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SOUTH PARK BOYS SIGN BIG DEAL WITH VIACOM

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have signed an unprecedented production deal with Viacom guaranteeing the two a 50-50 split of ad revenue and a stand-alone Web presence as part of a three-year contract extension, according to a report published Monday in the New York Times.

The deal, which will guarantee Parker and Stone about $75 million over the next four years, will foster the creation of SouthParkStudios.com. The Web site will feature new applications for the characters on the Comedy Central hit and is intended "to spread 'South Park'-related material across the Net, mobile platforms and video games."

The new contract was agreed upon in part because Parker and Stone had signed their deal before the advent of sites like Google's YouTube, which has spread noncopyrighted South Park clips throughout the Web to the dismay of Viacom. The duo had previously expressed frustration that their show, the highest-rated offering on Comedy Central, had no digital home. Now it does with the Rupert Murdoch-run company. Sounds like a match made in heavan!

WOMAN IN FILM/GM LAUNCH ONLINE MAGAZINE

Women in Film and General Motors have launched a free online magazine titled Traction, aimed at empowering and nurturing women in the media biz. The mag (wiftraction.com) will include stories on industry-relevant topics, as well as a virtual mentor - featuring how-to pieces on everything from shooting in a foreign country to securing an agent.

Traction will also feature Friends & Neighbors, a directory of industry organizations, companies and resources available to readers. Contemporary film and television reviews and a discussion forum also will be included. Traction is the next step in Women in Film's effort to "empower, promote, nurture and mentor" women around the world in the entertainment industry.

Judith James, head of the Women in Film/GM Alliance, will serve as editor-in-chief of the magazine.

LANTOS LAUNCHING DISTRIBUTION OUTFIT

Canuck producer Robert Lantos is returning to distribution - and he's taking on market leader Motion Picture Distribution right off the bat. On Tuesday, Lantos confirmed local rumors by unveiling his Maximum Films, a Toronto-based company that will have domestic and international distribution arms. He has already wooed MPD client IFC Films, inking a multi-year output deal for Canadian rights to at least 30 films annually. Deal includes Hou Hsiao Hsien's "The Flight of the Red Balloon" and Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park."

Mark Musselman, head of business affairs at Maximum, said the company will announce more output deals with U.S. companies in the coming days. It's the latest move in the carve-up of the Canuck distrib biz, which began when Alliance Atlantis-controlled MPD was acquired by Toronto private equity firm EdgeStone Capital and Goldman Sachs earlier this year. Lantos helped found Alliance Releasing - the company that eventually became MPD.

He has tapped two former colleagues from his days at Alliance Atlantis. Former Alliance exec Charlotte Mickie, who was most recently the Toronto-based managing director of Celluloid Dreams, will be managing director of Maximum Films Intl.

Anthony Cianciotta, who was general manager of Alliance Releasing, will head Maximum Film Distribution, the domestic unit. Maximum Films is wholly owned by Lantos, who also owns production company Serendipity Point Films. Maximum will distribute most of Lantos' productions. Lantos' previous productions include "Where the Truth Lies," "eXistenZ" and "The Sweet Hereafter." He also produced David Cronenberg's latest pic, "Eastern Promises," though Maximum isn't handling it.

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