There's no shortage of comeback acts in the music business these days--Simon & Garfunkel, Duran Duran, Fleetwood Mac. Now, add Napster to the list. The online music service, which was shut down in 2001 after losing a courtroom fight with record labels incensed by its free-music-for-all ethos, is relaunching itself as a legit company to sell songs online.
Amid the usual skinfest of top female stars at the MTV Video Music Awards last week, one artist stood out. Amy Lee, lead singer for Evanescence, the year's hottest debut rock act, strolled the red carpet in a modest skirt and top, about as rare a sighting at the show as a rap star sans rap sheet.
The music business has a long playlist of problems--piracy, slumping CD sales and marketing costs that are spiraling out of control. But one steady hit maker is Lyor Cohen, CEO of Island/Def Jam Records, who's poised to get the kind of courtship usually reserved for star artists.His five-year contract will expire early next year; rival Warner Music Group has quietly alerted Cohen that a top post is available, senior AOL Time Warner execs told NEWSWEEK.
As the reconstruction of Iraq gets underway, a cottage industry has sprung up to facilitate the grab for war spoils. On May 5, Equity International will sponsor "The Iraqi Reconstruction Conference," where private companies, relief groups and development organizations can network with top government officials and bureaucrats overseeing the rebuilding of Iraq--an estimated $25 billion to $100 billion undertaking.
Surely there's an easier way to make money. But execs at Disney and AOL Time Warner appear determined to go the hard route, and have fixated yet again on their long-running interest in merging their respective news-gathering operations--Disney's ABC News and AOL's CNN division.
The building is going up (and up), but it isn't rising as fast as the questions about one future occupant. The AOL Time Warner Center, as it's currently named, is rising 80 stories above Central Park, a $1.7 billion, twin-tower project that was billed as an urban breakthrough marrying residential, commercial and retail space under one roof.
Avoiding "Sex" was a sure sign that the marriage of AOL Time Warner was in trouble. Last Tuesday, top company execs were supposed to show up for a welcome break from the relentless gloom of AOL's sagging stock price: premiere night for the new season of "Sex and the City," the smash series on AOL Time Warner's HBO.
Barry Diller tried to plant himself backstage last week, far from the spotlight that focused on troubles in the world of Big Media. Vivendi, the French conglomerate that includes the Universal Entertainment division that Diller has run for two months, finally booted its CEO, Jean-Marie Messier, after his ambitious plan to remake a former water utility collapsed under the weight of staggering debt and a sinking stock price.
In the annals of american labor, show-business mogul Barry Diller has set a record for pay that's unlikely ever to be broken. By merely showing up for the first day's work as chief executive of the newly created Vivendi Universal Entertainment, Diller will collect a 1.5 percent piece of the action worth at least $275 million.
AOL Time Warner CEO Gerald Levin returned with his trusted deputy Richard Parsons from a tour of Ground Zero, devastated. Not since the 1997 murder of his son had Levin appeared as shattered as he did looking over the wreckage that September morning. "He seemed to almost cry when he talked about 9-11," says Sandy Reisenbach, a Warner Bros.
As any TV executive will tell you, television is a game of numbers and gut feeling. And it was by those rules that CBS chief Leslie Moonves decided to end round-the-clock, commercial-free coverage of the 9-11 attacks after 93 hours, and to resume normal broadcasting with regular Saturday-morning fare, toy ads and all.