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29 October 2010

Australian Entertainment And Gambling News, by Greg Tingle - 29th October 2010

Punters, entertainment and celebrity news junkies, casino and media millionaires and billionaires, and one and all. What a huge week it was. Media Man and Gambling911 offer up a weekly entertainment and gambling wrap up Skippy down under style maties....

Crown Casino Aussie Millions Robber Gets Jail...

A mug punter and druggy who robbed an American poker player at knifepoint of his $31,000 grand in winnings as he departed Melbourne's Crown Casino has lost an appeal against his sentence we are pleased to report. Dwayne Johnstone (no relation to The Rock), 34, and a co-accused mug decided to rob Jason Potter after a brain malfunction, when they witnessed him collect his hard earned winnings after leaving the Aussie Millions poker tournament at James Packer's Crown Casino on 21st January 2008. As Potter returned to his hotel, Johnstone nailed him on the cranium, produced a knife with intent to harm, and called for his wallet and its contents. The robbery netted $31,075, but the law caught up with the perpetrators. Johnstone, who had just been released on parole for being a getaway driver in a nasty milk bar robbery, was hitting "ice" (drug) daily and using "mull" (cannabis) at the time of the heist. During his court appeal, his defence team argued his 4-year jail term was way too big because it failed to take into account a brain injury he received from an earlier assault and his depression. They argued it reduced his moral culpability and that he did not get enough credit for pleading guilty to charges of armed robbery, possession of a drug of dependence, and theft. The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal, determining the sentence was reasonable and the sentencing judge was correct in finding the offence was well planned, coordinated, and not "impulsive". Johnstone has a massive 69 prior convictions, will serve a 2 two years before being eligible for parole. His co-accused, Vhyharn Arumughasamy, of Wheelers Hill, was put in the slammer in 2008 for a minimum 12 months after pleading guilty to armed robbery. Crown Casino 'Aussie Millions' will start again mid January 2011, and we understand security will be stronger than ever, so don't get any funny ideas ok? Gambling911 has a vast array of news from Australian casinos, including a colourful range of crimes that have occurred at Packer's Crown over the years.

Casino Icon James Bond 009 Aston Martin DB Sells Below Expected Price...

As reported earlier in the week, the James Bond DB5 went under the hammer. The car driven by Sean Connery in the 1964 James Bond film "Goldfinger" sold for 2.6 million pounds ($4.1 million) at an auction on Wednesday. The Aston Martin specially outfitted for the world's most famous spy was the star attraction at a classic car auction in London that also saw rocker Rod Stewart's Lamborghini sell for 600,000 pounds ($946,000). Auctioneer Peter Haynes had earlier estimated the Bond supercar could have snatched as much as 3.5 million pounds ($5.5 million), but we thought he was talking things up a bit old chap. Bond's gadget master Q outfitted the car with an ejection seat, machine guns, radar and nail-throwing machine. American broadcaster Jerry Lee, who purchased the car in 1969 for $12,000 sold it to raise money for his charitable foundation. Tally ho then.

Tweeting Celebs Look To Cash In On Online Ads And Promos...

Well, casino and poker nuts, and news media entrepreneurs could have told you there's good money to be made in Tweeting, but now the cat is out of the bag. Aussie celebs are being offered as much as $10 grand for a single tweet endorsing products to their thousands of Twitter followers, say experts. In the US celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan, Snoop Dogg and Paris Hilton are understood to be already enjoying large one-off payments to promote brands and products on Twitter, the dash for cash is yet reach its potential down under. Media Man reckons they might well be leaders in the field, and they also think Shane Warne and Max Markson are doing pretty well out of it also. US websites like Sponsored Tweets are also helping to shake up traditional sponsorship models by matching advertisers like Sony and Microsoft directly with the celebrities on their registers for one-off transactions. Lindsay Lohan's profile on Sponsored Tweets says she will tweet for a $US2985.80 fee, while Khloe Kardashian (sister of reality star Kim) will tweet for a slightly lesser $US2,941. For an extra thousand, advertisers can procure the tweeting services of model Holly Madison. Some companies that will pay for the right promos are understood to include Microsoft, Sony, American Airlines, Toyota, and AT&T. Media Man doesn't pay for ads however, as they don't need to, whispered an insider. Payment usually on a per-tweet model. US rules compel celebrities to add the word "ad" or "spon" to paid-for comments, and Shane Warne said non-disclosure by celebrities tweeting about products for cash, amounted to "the same sort of deal as cash for comments". Scott McClellan, executive director of the Australian Association of National Advertisers said social media campaigns would fall under the existing advertising code of ethics in Australia. We have quite a strong statement in the code around being honest and truthful and obviously not misleading person in any way. We believe that abbreviated terms like 'spon' will very rapidly be understood by consumers as being commercial in their nature and people will learn there is a cost associated with accessing the material." He said his biggest concerns were related to children, who would be particularly vulnerable to social media marketing from celebrities. "For children there would be a much greater onus on the advertiser to be clear about the offer they are presenting," he said. U.S gaming powerhouse Gambling911 has found the Twitter medium good for business on a national and international level, as has some of their contributors like Media Man. Some of the strongest gambling Twitter brands on the web include PartyGaming, Virgin, World Poker Tour, Casino News Media, Poker News Daily and World Series of Poker. Media Man Int Twitter:
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Bruno Star Accused Of Inciting Gay Riot...Not?

Controversial comedian Sacha Baron Cohen has been accused of inciting a riot at a pro-gay marriage rally in America in order to "enhance" the drama in his 2009 film Bruno. Cohen is being sued by a cameraman allegedly assaulted while filming the star at a Proposition 8 rally in Los Angeles in November 2008, claiming he was shoved and threatened after members of the Bruno production crew held up signs advocating against same sex unions to deliberately fire up the crowd! Cameraman Mike Skiff has filed the lawsuit against Cohen, citing alleged assault and battery by the British comic's own production crew, violation of civil rights and inciting a riot. Court documents filed by Mr Skiff - a self-described gay journalist in Los Angeles – allege he was “injured in his health, strength and activity, sustaining injury to his body and shock and injury to his nervous system and person, all of which injuries causes and continue to cause Plaintiff great physical, mental and emotion pain and suffering". Proposition 8 was a proposed legal change to part of the California Constitution to recognise gay marriage. The papers claim Mr Skiff was "shoved, pulled and wrestled in a vicious and blatant attempt to keep him from filming the event" in breach of his "right to go about his business free from violence and intimidation directed at his sexual orientation." Bruno follows the antics of fictional gay Austrian fashion journalist Bruno Gehard, played by Cohen, as he takes his fashion program to America. Mr Skiff alleges the production team incited violence while filming the rally ahead of an important vote on gay marriage in Los Angeles, in order to increase entertainment value for their movie. The lawsuit states: "In order to create dramatic content for its production, Bruno Productions' intent was to promote violent discord between the assembled yes and no factions. In stark contrast with the ‘ultra gay’ Bruno character, members of the crew of Bruno Productions carried ‘Yes On Proposition 8’ signs contrived for the sole purpose of inciting and sparking unrest to enhance the dramatic effect of what they may capture on film." Mr Skiff is seeking $25,000 in damages, medical expenses, and attorney's fees.

Batman 3 Movie News...

The next Batman sequel has a title -The Dark Knight Rises. Distributor Warner Bros confirmed the name for director Christopher Nolan's third adventure about the DC Comics vigilante hero, which follows Batman Begins in 2005 and The Dark Knight in 2008. The Dark Knight Rises is due in theatres July 20, 2012. Ignoring Hollywood's current wave of 3D movies, Nolan is not planning to shoot the film in 3D. Warner Bros had agreed with Nolan's argument that the sequel should resist the 3D craze, the director told the Los Angeles Times' Hero Complex blog, which first reported the title. Nolan would not reveal what villain might appear in The Dark Knight Rises, but he said it would not be the Riddler, one of the key bad guys in the comics and past film and TV Batman tales. Earlier this year, Nolan said he would not resurrect the Joker, the cackling villain played by the late Australian actor Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. Ledger won the supporting-actor Academy Award for the role, a year after he died of an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. That was no laughing matter.

Avatar To Be Trilogy First Sequel In 4 Years...

James Cameron will start writing the scripts for two Avatar sequels early next year, aiming to land the first one in cinemas four years from now. Executives at 20th Century Fox announced on Wednesday that Cameron has settled on two sequels to the blockbuster hit as his next film projects, with plans to begin production in late 2011. The studio hopes to have the first of the as-yet-untitled sequels in cinemas in December 2014, with the third movie in the franchise following in December 2015. Like the first film, the sequels will be shot in 3D. Cameron will decide whether to shoot the films back-to-back after he completes the scripts for the sequels to his sci-fi sensation. Set on the distant Pandora, Avatar is the biggest modern blockbuster, with $US2.8 billion ($A2.85 billion) at the box office worldwide. "In the second and third films, which will be self-contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of Avatar's visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world," Cameron said in a news release. "I'm looking forward to returning to Pandora, a world where our imaginations can run wild." Cameron had been up in the air on what he would do next, telling reporters as recently as last week that he had not decided whether to shoot another film before returning to his Avatar saga. At an event a week ago to show off the technology used to make Avatar, Cameron speculated about how long it might be until the next instalment would hit cinemas. "I made two very effective sequels in my career. One was Aliens, and one was Terminator 2. Aliens came out seven years after the first film. Terminator 2, seven years after the first film. I'm not saying that we're planning on seven years," Cameron said of Avatar. If Cameron meets the 2014 deadline, it will be just five years after Avatar arrived last December. Avatar follows the adventures of a man in alien form (Sam Worthington) who falls for a two metre, blue-skinned native (Zoe Saldana) of the distant moon Pandora, where greedy humans wage war over the land's natural resources. While Avatar was set in the exotic jungles of Pandora, Titanic director Cameron plans to bring his love for deep-sea exploration into the next chapter, setting some of the action in the moon's oceans. He would not reveal plot details. "That's classified," Cameron said. Avatar blended live action with performance-capture, scenes shot on a soundstage with actors in skintight suits covered in sensors that allow digital cameras to record their movements. Visual-effects artists later transformed them into the alien creatures and filled in landscapes and other details. Jon Landau, Cameron's producing partner, said last week that they would only proceed with an Avatar sequel when the script and story were right. "Jim has done a couple of sequels in his career, and both times he's done them, I would argue they lived up to at least what the first movies were," Landau said. The studio was anxious to get back into the Avatar business. "We had no higher priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world of Avatar," Fox studio bosses Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said in a statement.

E Book Heading For Hollywood...

Melbourne writer Max Barry's novel Machine Man, which was published online one page at a time and does not appear in book form until late next year, is to be made into a major Hollywood movie. It will be directed by Darren Aronofsky, who made the Oscar-nominated 2008 film The Wrestler, the cult sci-fi hit Pi and the forthcoming, critically acclaimed sicko-in-a-tutu thriller Black Swan. "I'm absolutely thrilled, because he's a fantastic director who can make a movie that's smart and also popular and good," the 37-year-old Barry, who lives in Kensington, said. "The fear you have with a movie is that it will turn out to be commercial but bad, or good but a commercial failure, but he's a wonderful guy who can make a film that hits both of them." Machine Man was an experiment in publishing that, perhaps understandably, didn't at first meet with the full approval of Barry's US publisher, Vintage, which saw it as potentially undermining sales. (His Australian publisher, Scribe, was quite relaxed about the exercise, seeing it as a form of marketing.) The first page was published on Barry's website on March 18, last year. The last page was published on December 3. "There is something very satisfying about a solid, ninety-word scene," he wrote on his blog early in the exercise. "I think I like this medium. It's like a novel with ADHD." At first, subscription was free, and Barry reached a peak of around 3500 readers. When he began charging — casual visitors could still see some pages free, but not the entire story — his numbers dropped to around 650. At a cost of $US6.95 each, it wasn't exactly enough to keep him well fed but, he said, it helped.
Every page was open to comments from readers, a risky proposition that Barry found exhilarating. In fact, some of the feedback he received informed later entries. Barry is now working on thoroughly rewriting the "rough and ready" online version, which he always considered a first draft, for the print version due late next year. Although he is excited about the deal for Machine Man, which he has known about for six months but which he said he is finally ready to believe, experience has taught him to keep at least a portion of his expectations in check. In 2003, his novel Jennifer Government was optioned by Section Eight, the production company in which Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney were partners. It has never been filmed. His two other published novels, Syrup and Company, have also been optioned by Hollywood but are yet to see the flickering light of day. Still, Barry said he felt this time was different, with a name director attached and a production company — Mandalay — with a proven track record involved. "Realistically, there are so many ways for a movie to fall apart and so few ways for it all to come together," he said. "But this time, I feel like it's got a really good chance." Bloggers out there, don't think just because this guy is getting a movie done you can to. 'Machine Man' is the exception and a one in a million. We here hope the film doesn't disappoint.

Rebel Avatars Spotted In Sydney; News Media Companies Start Probe...

A new mystery has struck Sydney's suburbs, stretching from Bondi Beach out to Marrickville and beyond, which has people from all walks of life wondering where the lovable creatures will strike next. It was film producer / director James Cameron who introduced the world to 'Avatar' in 2009, however sources close to Cameron and News Limited owned 20th Century Fox deny any responsibly for the "rebel" avatar phenom to hit Sydney streets. Marketing and media insiders have noted however that the "knock off" Avatar's have a habit of showing up whenever bodypainter and artist Eva Rinaldi and one or two of her photographic team are around. In this month alone the rebel 'Avatar' creatures have been seen and photographed at Bondi Beach (alongside the graffiti art wall), the Sydney Opera House, Abbotsford and most recently, Marrickville (Skid Row Radio). Judging upon appearance the mysterious Avatar's are neither the work of amateurs, however they are not quite ready to insert right into a Cameron production either. A source who claims to be close to the rebel Avatar's leaked that they are quite likely creations of Sydney based artist Eva Rinaldi, who perhaps not by coincidence has also embarked on a national - international campaign to bodypaint and / or create a human statue of Oprah Winfrey, who is set to hit Australian soil this December. The leak said "I'm pretty sure its Eva Rinaldi behind this publicity stunt - ambush marketing effort of sorts. She's very clever. You will note that there's no branding on her bodypainted creations, unlike the Barvaria beer happening at the World Cup. She seems to have her heart in the right place and its not a blatant brand knock off or anything else that is likely to get her in hot water on the legal front. It's actually very clever and talented work and marketing, and she looks to have created an international marketing and media campaign on a shoestring budget. I'm pretty sure had something to do with the Sydney Opera House 'John Travolta' shenanigans last weekend on the open day also. By plugging into major events she's generating national and worldwide publicity, and I think it may even be assisting the official Tourism Australia and Oprah Winfrey media campaigns also. Her campaign, if its hers of course, is likely to spark a number of copy cat artists, and I think that may have already happened. If one further researches Eva Rinaldi you come across Human Statue Bodyart on the internet, and there's a number of photos, articles and even blog entries that further suggest she is the mastermind behind these Avatar phenoms". Thus far both the official Avatar franchise and the mystery Avatar's have received largely balanced and positive news media coverage. James Cameron's Avatar recently announced that they will be doing a trilogy, and something tells us that Rinaldi and co conspirators are also well aware of that fact. Readers, if you happen to spot any of the rebel Avatar's in your neighborhood please make contact with both local authorities and us immediately. No one has offered any reward money to date, however an anonymous legal eagle did suggest that if the outbreak of the new breed of Avatar's become too much of a problem that reward money may be offered. Rinaldi or her Human Statue Bodyart enterprise is understood to have not entered any marketing or media awards this year, but judging upon her recent efforts we think most certainly that she should throw her colourful hat in the ring. At the time of publication a media leak suggested that Rinaldi and / or the rebel Avatars, will also be covered in suburban Sydney newspaper, Northern District Times, published by the Cumberland Newspaper Group. In the meantime entertainment and media commentators have suggested to enjoy the ride, as its unlikely to last forever, however with that said, Rinaldi and friends are understood to always remain one or two steps ahead of the thought police, adding media tycoon Richard Branson, John Travolta, Nicole Kidman and rock gods KISS to her 'To Do - To Paint' list. Rinaldi if you're out there, and I think you are, I See You!

3-D Movie Genre May Be Getting Old...

That's the question Hollywood executives are asking after a post-Avatar nose dive. Hollywood will continue to push 3-D movies to bolster box-office revenue even if profits aren't what the studios envisioned when "Avatar" ignited widespread enthusiasm for the format. Studios will release at least 26 films in 3-D next year, up from 22 in 2010, according to Box-Office. 3-D winners include James Cameron's Avatar, the No. 1 film of all time, and Walt Disney Co.'s Toy Story 3. "Jim showed how it can be done well," Bill Mechanic, the former chairman of Twentieth Century Fox and producer of the 2009 3-D release "Coraline," said in an interview. "A lot of it depends on how you use it." For many of this year's releases, the typical $3 to $3.50 surcharge for a ticket to a three-dimensional film more than covered added production costs of $5 million to $20 million per movie, studios say. Still, not all 3-D movies have succeeded, and 2012 may see a smaller number as studios complete projects approved in the glow of "Avatar" and become more selective. "If you get a 10 percent or 15 percent boost in your box office, it's completely worth it," Mechanic said. Execs will discuss the success and the future of 3-D films today at the 3D Entertainment Summit in Los Angeles. Speakers include DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Katzenberg and director M. Night Shyamalan. As they say, I see you!

Lachlan Murdoch Prime Media Group Sells Assets...

Prime Media Group Ltd has sold its non-core outside broadcast assets amid reports its deputy chairman Lachlan Murdoch is in talks to buy half of James Packer's new stake in Ten Network Holdings Ltd. Prime said it had sold OSB Australia to UK-based Gearhouse Broadcast Pty Ltd for $8.5 million in cash and $3 million in instalments between December 2012 and December 2014. OSB Australia provides outside broadcast facilities and services for professional sporting events. Prime will hold a 15 per cent interest in the merged OSB/Gearhouse business, which has extended its agreement with Fox Sports for rugby union coverage through to 2015. "The sale of OSB Australia continues our program of divesting non-core assets to re-focus on maximising earnings from television and radio," Prime chief executive Ian Audsley said in a statement.
Prime in July sold its New Zealand outside broadcast operator, OSB New Zealand, to Sky Television Ltd and also announced the sale of Moonlight Cinema to Amalgamated Holdings Ltd. Prime will incur a $1 million impairment on the sale of OSB, but will avoid $13 million of capital expenditure that is required for OSB Australia. The proceeds of the sale will be used by Prime to pay down debt, which stood at $96 million at the end of June when the company recorded a $54.5 million full-year net loss, a widening of its $45.5 million net loss for the previous financial year. Separately on Thursday, Fairfax reported Mr Murdoch's company Illyria Pty Ltd was likely to buy 50 per cent of Mr Packer's 17.88 per cent stake in Ten acquired last week. Mr Packer's surprise $280 million purchase marked his return to free-to-air television after years of focusing on the gambling sector. The Fairfax reports, citing "a well-placed Murdoch source familiar with the discussions", said Mr Murdoch saw the possible deal as a "turnaround" story. A price had not been agreed upon, the report said. Ten declined to comment, while Prime was being sought for comment. Comment was also being sought from Consolidated Media Holdings Ltd, where Mr Packer is deputy chair. Shares in Prime closed steady at 65 cents, Ten shares dipped almost two per cent to $1.50 - the same price Mr Packer paid for his shares in the broadcaster - and Consolidated Media shares were two cents softer at $3.35.

James Packer Media News...

Ten Network chairman Nick Falloon may be getting ready to leave as media moguls James Packer and Lachlan Murdoch join forces on the network and we ponder could Falloon’s loss end up as Murdoch’s gain? Meanwhile, BHP Billiton moves to squash talk that its PotashCorp bid is set to crash and burn in Ottawa. Elsewhere, as the political offensive against the ASX-SGX merger intensifies investors may be losing faith with the exchange operators and AXA SA seals a heavyweight China deal with the world’s most valuable lender ICBC. With Ten Network Holdings reportedly set to welcome two heavyweight media moguls as its major shareholders the rumour-mill has gone into overdrive with reports that James Packer’s planned overhaul of the network may have claimed its first victim. Unsurprisingly, the unfortunate victim is reportedly the network’s executive chairman Nick Falloon. According to The Australian, Falloon has agreed to relinquish his position after a meeting with Packer. Rumblings that Falloon’s head was on the block took hold pretty much as soon as Packer pulled of his share raid last week and The Australian reports that his departure is yet to be formalised. The news comes as media scion Lachlan Murdoch looks set to take a board seat at the network with confirmation that his Illyria Private Limited was in talks with Packer’s Prime Capital to buy 50 per cent of its 17.88 per cent stake in Ten for around $155 million. The deal between the two moguls is expected to be finalised in a month or so and interestingly there is talk that Murdoch will not only push for a board seat but could possibly be a candidate to become Ten’s chairman. Packer has reportedly set his sights on culling Ten’s planned foray into news and current affairs and return the focus on the low-cost 16 to 39 demographic. While the plans seem to have been broadly welcomed by Ten’s major shareholders there are detractors out there especially analysts who point out that a return to youth-friendly programming could actually end up costing the network more money and with the inception of multi-channel offerings from Seven and Nine cutting into the market the new approach may not be as successful as first thought. Either way its great reading for the the Gambling911 and Media Man loyal following. All we can say is don't bet against Packer.

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If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

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