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March 28, 2013 | By Daniel Miller
If you looked up into the Los Angeles sky this past weekend, you may have spotted a slowly moving blimp emblazoned with the mammoth image of a one-eyed yellow creature. The 165-foot-long craft, which is slated to fly over Phoenix on Thursday, displays the image of a "minion" -- one of the jabbering, pill-shaped beings featured in Universal Pictures' "Despicable Me" franchise. Universal and Van Wagner Communications, the owner of the airship, are calling it the "Despicablimp. " The 55-foot-tall dirigible is scheduled to tour the United States over the next six months to promote the upcoming release of "Despicable Me 2. " PHOTOS: Hollywood Backlot moments The film, produced by Illumination Entertainment -- the main supplier of family movies to Universal -- is set to come out July 3. Van Wagner, a New York-based outdoor advertising company, got into the blimp business last year when it acquired the Lightship Group, a blimp advertising operator, and the American Blimp Corp., the designer and manufacturer of Lightship's blimps.
November 14, 2012 | By Lewis MacAdams
Los Angeles has a great opportunity, but it will require action. On Wednesday, NBC Universal's plan for a major expansion will go before the City Council for final approval. The plan, thanks in part to effective agitating by Los Angeles River advocates, bicycle riders and neighborhood activists, represents a fine civic bargain, but there is also an opportunity to accomplish much, much more. For those who live in Los Angeles, there is a lot at stake in this deal. NBC Universal and its corporate masters - currently Comcast, the largest cable operator in the United States - have been trying to expand Universal's footprint since 2006.
June 28, 2012 | By Meg James
Jean-Bernard Lévy, the chairman and chief executive of the French telecommunications company Vivendi, stepped down Thursday following a disagreement with the company's board. The company, in a statement, described the tension as "a divergence of views on the strategic development of the group. " News reports and financial analysts suggest that the board has been embroiled in a debate about whether to carve off assets or break up the company, which consists of European pay-television operations, including France's popular Canal+, Activision Blizzard video game company, Universal Music Group, and phone and Internet services.
June 1, 2012 | By Ben Fritz
Volatility at Universal Pictures, particularly the huge loss the studio is taking on "Battleship," has kept NBC Universal from a steady performance this year, the chief executive of its parent company Comcast Corp. said at an investors' conference Friday. After noting that the NBC Universal had a 34% increase in operating cash flow during the first quarter driven in part by the success of films "The Lorax"and "Safe House,"Brian Roberts said the Comcast-owned media conglomerate that also operates television networks and theme parks is now facing a "negative quarter.
November 10, 2011 | By Harriet Ryan and James Rainey, Los Angeles Times
The verdict is in, the jury has been dismissed, and Dr. Conrad Murray sits behind bars, but one question about the trial of Michael Jackson's doctor remains: Who paid for the defense? Speculation about how the cash-strapped physician funded an expansive legal team focused Wednesday on a British documentary made with Murray's cooperation and purchased recently by NBC for broadcast on its cable network MSNBC this weekend. Representatives of Jackson's estate demanded the network cancel the program, entitled "Michael Jackson and the Doctor: A Fatal Friendship," in part because of unanswered questions about whether Murray was compensated for giving filmmakers interviews and allowing camera crews to follow him and his lawyers.
October 27, 2011 | Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times
Daniel Burke, considered one of the architects of the modern television industry and a former president and chief executive of Capital Cities/ABC, died Wednesday. He was 82. He died at his home in Rye, N.Y., of complications from type 1 diabetes, according to his family. Burke spent more than 30 years at CapCities, rising from manager of its television station in Albany, N.Y., to chief executive. Working closely with Tom Murphy, the chairman of CapCities, the duo transformed the company from a handful of TV stations into a broadcasting and publishing giant.
August 3, 2011 | Bloomberg News
Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, posted a 16 percent increase in second-quarter profit after adding Internet users, boosting sales at its NBC Universal unit and reducing video-subscriber losses. Net income climbed to $1.02 billion, or 37 cents a share, from $884 million, or 31 cents, a year earlier, Philadelphia- based Comcast said today in a statement. Excluding some costs, profit was 42 cents a share, topping the 41-cent average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
June 14, 2011 | By Joe Flint, Los Angeles Times
Business media conglomerate Bloomberg has accused Comcast Corp. of violating the conditions the federal government put on the cable giant in return for approving its merger with NBC Universal. In a complaint filed at the Federal Communications Commission on Monday, Bloomberg said Comcast is required to position its Bloomberg TV cable channel near other news channels on its cable systems, which reach almost 23 million subscribers. Bloomberg is worried that with Comcast as an owner, its chief competitor, CNBC, will now have an unfair advantage.
May 17, 2011 | By Melissa Maerz, Los Angeles Times
When it comes to the 2012 election, Donald Trump is so fired. During NBC's presentation of its fall schedule here on Monday, the real estate mogul and reality TV star announced that he will not make a bid for the White House, bringing an end to what many have regarded as a transparent publicity stunt. For the rest of America, this means two things: "Celebrity Apprentice" will be back next season, and the difference between politics and entertainment has never been so hard to define.
May 16, 2011 | By Ben Fritz, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
Comcast Corp. has made an offer to renew the contract of longtime Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer -- a potential vote of confidence that could quell speculation in Hollywood that his days in the job are numbered under the cable giant's new ownership. But the two sides have yet to reach an agreement. A key sticking point in the negotiations is how long Meyer's contract will be extended beyond its current expiration in 2012. Comcast was offering a shorter extension than the executive would like, according to a person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because of the confidentiality of the talks.
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