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Discovery and AT&T: How a Huge Media Deal Was Done

Deals are rarely smooth, and an anomaly with Discovery’s share price dovetailed with the negotiations. Discovery’s stock began to inexplicably rocket in February and March to $75 from $45 because of a convoluted trading scandal involving Archegos, a little-known private investment firm that bet big on Discovery and other companies via derivatives using billions in borrowed money.With banks forced to buy shares to hedge their spiraling exposure to Archegos, Discovery’s market value jumped nearly 60 percent, for no obvious reason to outsiders. But by May, the stock had returned to where it was during Mr. Zaslav’s initial approach, …

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AT&T’s WarnerMedia Group to Merge With Discovery

It’s as if Logan Roy, the fictional patriarch of the Waystar Royco media empire on HBO’s popular series “Succession,” masterminded the deal himself: AT&T has thrown in the towel on its media business and decided to spin it off into a new company that will merge with Discovery Inc.The transaction will combine HBO, Warner Bros. studios, CNN, TNT, TBS and several other cable networks with a host of reality-based cable channels from Discovery such as Oprah Winfrey’s OWN, HGTV, the Food Network and Animal Planet.But it raises numerous questions about what that will mean …

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AT&T-Discovery Deal Would Create a Media Juggernaut

“AT&T didn’t know what they were buying,” said Brian Wieser, a longtime Wall Street analyst. “The strategy underpinning” the acquisition “was probably flawed.”Mr. Wieser said AT&T deserved credit for slimming down WarnerMedia’s operations and putting money into HBO Max. Shortly after AT&T closed on the deal in 2018, the company quickly worked to consolidate the media giant’s various divisions, ultimately laying off about 2,000 employees. “They were genuinely reorganizing the business to give it the clarity to be able to compete with Netflix,” he said.At the same time, AT&T is no longer best …

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Ellen DeGeneres Loses 1 Million Viewers After Apologies for Toxic Workplace

Public perception of Ms. DeGeneres started to change in July when BuzzFeed reported that several of the show’s former and current staff members said they had confronted “racism, fear and intimidation” on the set. Several staff members also said producers had sexually harassed them. Warner Bros. investigated the workplace and found “deficiencies.” Three high-level producers were fired, including Ed Glavin, an executive producer; Jonathan Norman, a co-executive producer; and Kevin Leman, the head writer. Ms. DeGeneres apologized to her staff before addressing her viewers in September.Some observers believe the accusations may have weakened Ms. DeGeneres’s relationship with …

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Warner Bros. Trades Box Office for HBO Max, but Stars Still Want Their Money

The 97-year-old studio, the ancestral home of Humphrey Bogart (“Casablanca”) and Bette Davis (“Now, Voyager”), suddenly finds itself at the uncomfortable center of a Hollywood that is changing at light speed. Even before the pandemic, streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV+ and Amazon Prime Video were upending how movies get seen and their creators are compensated. Now, with theaters struggling because of the coronavirus and the public largely stuck at home, even traditional film companies are being forced to evolve.It’s not that all actors and directors are against streaming. Plenty of big names are making movies for Netflix. …

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Warner Bros. Says All 2021 Films Will Stream on HBO Max Right Away

It was a framed as a singular event, and theater owners, desperate to fill screens with appealing content, happily agreed to it. “Given that atypical circumstances call for atypical economic relationships between studios and theaters, and atypical windows and releasing strategies, AMC is fully onboard for Warner Brothers’ announcement today,” Adam Aron, chief executive of AMC Entertainment, said at the time.He was much less welcoming to an entire year of this practice, which provides no additional incentives to theaters.“Clearly, WarnerMedia intends to sacrifice a considerable portion of the profitability of its movie studio division — and that of its …

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Hollywood’s Obituary, the Sequel. Now Streaming.

LOS ANGELES — “Hollywood’s like Egypt: full of crumbled pyramids. It’ll never come back. It’ll just keep on crumbling until finally the wind blows the last studio prop across the sands.”David O. Selznick, the golden era producer, made that glum proclamation in 1951. A new entertainment technology, TV, was emasculating cinema as a cultural force, and film studios had started to fossilize into bottom line-oriented businesses. As Selznick put it, Hollywood had been “grabbed by a little group of bookkeepers and turned into a junk industry.”Since then, Hollywood has repeatedly written its own obituary. It died when …

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