OTT.X to Honor Industry Heroes

OTT.X (formerly the Entertainment Merchants Association) is looking to honor industry “heroes.”

The group is looking for a team member who has gone out of his or her way to help neighbors, to help the community, to support health care workers, or to just do something good during the pandemic — or for a team member who has gone out of his or her way to help the company continue to serve its customers during the crisis.

“Just as the hard work of grocery and pharmacy teams are keeping our pantries and medicine cabinets full, all of the teams in our industry, at digital platforms, channels and retailers; at content companies; and at all of the service and technology companies that facilitate the flow of content ultimately to the consumer are playing an important role in providing the needed entertainment to keep everyone sane during these stay-at-home days,” according to OTT.X. “We need to recognize our own heroes.”

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Entries should include a brief paragraph nominating a hero or heroes and a photo if possible. In mid-June, OTT.X will hold an online live ceremony recognizing all the heroes and presenting a few special awards. Nominations must be sent no later than May 30 to mfisher@ottx.org and include “our ottx hero” in the subject line.

In addition, OTT.X is soliciting pictures of home offices and awarding prizes. Photos should be sent to mfisher@ottx.org and include “my new home office” in the subject line.

USC Annenberg Dean Willow Bay to Receive DEG Hedy Lamarr Award

Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, will receive the third annual “Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology” from DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group this fall.

The DEG created the Innovation Award to recognize female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

The DEG also will present the “Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leaders in Entertainment Technology,” which recognizes female college students whose studies in the fields of entertainment and technology have shown exceptional promise. Maya Tribbitt, who is earning her bachelor’s degree in journalism and international relations at USC Annenberg and the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, will receive the Emerging Leader honor along with a financial award to continue her education.

The awards will be presented in Los Angeles to coincide with the 105th anniversary of Lamarr’s birth Nov. 9, 1914.

“We are thrilled to present DEG’s 2019 Hedy Lamarr Awards to Dean Willow Bay, for her traditional and digital platforms, and USC student Maya Tribbitt,” said DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith in a statement. “These communicators truly embody Hedy Lamarr’s dedication to innovation in media and technology.”

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Bay, a broadcast journalist, is the first female dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and holder of the Walter H. Annenberg Chair in Communication. Since joining the USC Annenberg faculty in 2014 as director of the School of Journalism, she has launched the school’s state-of-the-art Media Center in Wallis Annenberg Hall, expanded the school’s partnerships with key media and technology partners, and accelerated curricular innovations, including an expansion of the school’s experiential education and career development programs, according to the DEG. Bay’s work to ensure that current and future communicators are fluent writers across many digital platforms was recognized with the Award of Honor from the PEN Center USA. She is married to Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger.

“I am honored to receive this award inspired by Hedy Lemarr’s relentless commitment not only to pushing the boundaries of invention, but also to forging new roles for women in the entertainment and technology industries,” Bay said in a statement. “At USC Annenberg, we prepare our students to lead with this same level of intelligence, curiosity and courage as they shape the future of media, technology and culture.”

Austrian-American actress Lamarr was a Hollywood legend who is best known for her roles in film classics including Samson and Delilah, The Strange Woman and Tortilla Flat. She was also a lifelong inventor whose innovative work included pioneering “frequency hopping,” which became the foundation for spread spectrum technology. Conceived by Lamarr and composer George Antheil for radio guidance systems and patented in 1942, this highly secure technology resists interference and dropout, and is utilized today for a variety of cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth applications.

To determine the award winners, DEG enlisted its Canon Club Advisory Board, which comprises a cross-section of leaders representing the entertainment, technology, IT and consumer electronics industries. Among other factors, the judging panel based its decisions on the candidates’ embodiment of the principles of innovation, engagement and excellence.

Golden Trailer Awards Honor Entertainment Marketers

The entertainment industry celebrated motion picture marketing at the 20th Annual Golden Trailer Awards May 30 at The Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Los Angeles.

More than 1,000 studio and network marketing executives, movie fans, celebrities and trailer editors were on hand as AV Squad and Lionsgate won the night’s top honor of Best of Show for their work on the John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum trailer titled “Conversation.” Netflix won the most awards of the night, taking home 16 Golden Trailer statues. Warner Bros (with HBO), and Disney were also big winners of the night taking home 14 and 11 Golden Trailer Awards respectively.

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Among the home entertainment honorees were:

Best Home Ent. Action
Mission Impossible: Fallout, Blu-ray Trailer
Paramount
Aspect

Best Home Ent. Comedy
Crazy Rich Asians, “Target Showcase Wall”
Warner Bros. Pictures
Trailer Park

Best Home Ent. Drama
Bohemian Rhapsody “Royalty AVOD”
20th Century Fox
Mob Scene

Best Home Ent. Family / Animation
Mary Poppins Returns, Bonus Trailer “Be A Child”
Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International
Aspect

Best Home Ent. Fantasy Adventure
Avengers: Infinity War “Announce Trailer”
Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International
Tiny Hero

Best Home Ent. Horror / Thriller
In Darkness “Listen 30”
Universal
Silk Factory

To view the complete list of 2019 winners and a selection of this year’s trailers, visit http://www.goldentrailer.com.

Luncheon Fetes Fast Forward Award Honorees

FandangoNow VP of home entertainment Cameron Douglas, Redbox CEO Galen Smith, Google Play head of media and entertainment Jonathan Zepp, and the team at Apple iTunes were honored with Fast Forward Awards at a luncheon April 4 in Los Angeles at the Universal Hilton.

The awards, presented by Media Play News, recognize people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward.

The luncheon was produced by Media Play News and hosted by the Entertainment Merchants Association, which used the occasion to announce a new Leadership Development Foundation to foster executive talent.

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“All of today’s honorees are truly worthy of recognition for their leadership in our industry,” said EMA president and CEO Mark Fisher.

Media Play News publisher Thomas K. Arnold noted that all of the honorees are involved in the digital transactional business. Not all consumers want to get their entertainment buffet-style with the content curated for them as offered by subscription streaming services; many consumers would like to choose the content they would like to see a la carte, he said.

Warner Bros. Entertainment SVP of sales Michael Rweyemamu presented the award to Smith of Redbox, which has nearly doubled the selection of films and TV shows available on its year-old digital movie store, Redbox On Demand, and last December announced a new deal in which its app is featured on all Vizio Smartcast TV. Rweyemamu noted the irony of the occasion, considering the rocky relationship between the studio and the kiosk company several years ago when the two fought over release windows for low-priced rentals.

“Ten years ago, had you told me I’d be presenting an award to Redbox, I’d have said, ‘Hell, no!’” Rweyemamu joked.

He praised Smith for his leadership.

“Galen, you’ve been a great partner,” he said. “We started off on a rocky road like some relationships, but we’re in a really good place right now. And a lot of that has to do with the fact that you were really tenacious. You were really disciplined, really open to conversations to allow us to be where we are today.”

Smith also noted the evolution of the relationship between the two companies.

“In a similar vein, receiving an award from Warner Bros. I didn’t think was ever going to happen,” Smith said.

The company’s Redbox on Demand digital service “is a real natural evolution for our business,” Smith said.

“We’ve got 50 million customers that rent from us every year; it’s an opportunity for us to help them move to digital,” he said. “This is the last bastion of customers who haven’t moved yet. We have an opportunity to bring them over.”

He also praised the transactional model.

“We did a stint in a more of an SVOD-type business, and it didn’t really work,” he said, in reference to a failed joint venture with Verizon. “Our consumers are transactional, and so we want to do everything we can to support the business.”

In presenting the award to FandangoNow’s Douglas, industry veteran and former DreamWorks home entertainment chief Kelly Sooter praised him for his ability to anticipate trends and forge strong partnerships and lasting relationships — and for always being in touch with the consumer.

“He knows everything about … how consumers behave,” she said.

FandangoNow has been revving up its promotional muscle and is aggressively tying in digital purchases and rentals with its movie-ticket-selling sister company.

Douglas noted he got involved in the digital business at DreamWorks when he was asked to help with a startup (M-GO, which eventually was acquired by movie service Fandango and became FandangoNow).

“As we finally refined what we were doing and launched in 2013 as a transactional service, I truly felt like I was now building the future of digital home entertainment,” Douglas said.

He noted FandangoNow’s early and strong support for 4K and initiatives such as binge bundles and the “Fresh Picks” program, which curates titles deemed “Fresh” by sister service Rotten Tomatoes.

Praising Google Play’s Zepp, who was unable to attend, Paramount Pictures president of worldwide home media distribution Bob Buchi said, “He truly has the talent and the vision to market very impressively to consumers and really change the way that they behave.”

Buchi noted that Google Play, which is in its seventh year, “really put a movie store in the hand of millions of consumers with the Android mobile platform [and] really elevated and streamlined the experience of purchasing or renting a digital product, and opened up a whole new world in literally over 100 countries.”

“They continued to enhance the product day in and day out,” he said. “It’s now on every major television manufacturer and streaming sticks, so it’s really never been easier to rent or to purchase a movie.

“They’re also super champions of 4K which is great for adoption and great for all of our futures.”

Google Play Movies & TV is currently on a big 4K push, automatically upgrading customers’ past movie purchases to the new format, so they can stream them in 4K, even if the movies were originally purchased in standard or high definition.

Google Play’s Bill Kotzman accepted the award on Zepp’s behalf and read a statement from the honoree: “Transactional home entertainment is and will remain a key part of the media and entertainment business.… Google continues to invest heavily in transactional, and we’re excited to continue to grow the category in partnership with all of you.”

The EMA’s Steven Apple accepted the award for the iTunes team. Apple’s iTunes service began the year with a game-changing deal with No. 1 TV manufacturer Samsung. New Samsung SmartCast TVs will allow consumers to access their iTunes movie and TV show libraries through a new app.

Photos of the event are here.

DEG Presents Hedy Lamarr Awards to VR Pioneer, Carnegie Mellon Student

DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group presented its second annual Hedy Lamarr Award for Innovation in Entertainment Technology to Emblematic Group CEO Nonny de la Peña, a leader in virtual reality, in Santa Monica, Calif., Nov. 1. The award recognizes female executives in the fields of entertainment and technology who have made a significant contribution to the industry.

The DEG also presented the Hedy Lamarr Achievement Award for Emerging Leader in Entertainment Technology to Carnegie Mellon University student Cassidy Pearsall, who will receive a financial award to continue her education.

“Thank you for thinking about women and technology,” de la Peña said in accepting the award. “The numbers are appalling. In 2017, 98% of venture funds went to men. In 2016, in 2015, the same — it’s brutal. To celebrate women’s contribution to technology helps change their story to venture capitalists. They always say they invest in founders of the company. Putting women out there like this and talking about Hedy Lamarr and putting people like me and Cassidy out there, you start to change that story, you start to change what they expect a founder to look like, so it’s really important what you’re doing here. This work is important, and I really appreciate that I’ve been able to be a representative of that ongoing attempt to show the world how much we can contribute.”

DEG president and CEO Amy Jo Smith said the awards were created “to celebrate the memory of Hedy Lamarr,” who was both a Hollywood actress and an inventor.

“Louis B. Mayer famously was one of the first people to call her the most beautiful woman in the world and of course many people followed thereafter, but Hedy wasn’t just a beautiful, talented film star,” Smith noted. “She came up with a way of actually making sure torpedoes would hit their destinations during World War II. This highly secure technology, radio frequency hopping, is the foundation on which technologies such as wi-fi, bluetooth and cellular technologies, technologies that we use every single day, are based.”

After reminiscing about finding his mother’s patent as they went through boxes of magazine covers and photographs in the attic, Lamarr’s son Anthony Loder congratulated the 2018 winners.

“Cassidy, my mother would be very proud of you,” he said to Pearsall. “She’d be a fan, and she’d be impressed.”

“To be compared to someone as talented and as driven as Hedy is really an incredible honor,” Pearsall said in accepting her award.

De la Peña was named “The Godmother of Virtual Reality” by The Guardian and Engadget, while Fast Company recognized her as one of the people who made the world more creative for her groundbreaking work in immersive journalism. A former correspondent for Newsweek magazine, de la Peña founded Emblematic Group in 2007. The company became an innovator in walk around virtual reality with the first-ever VR documentary, Hunger in Los Angeles, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Emblematic has also produced Project Syria, which was commissioned by the World Economic Forum, Use of ForceOne Dark NightOut of ExileAfter Solitary and Greenland Melting.

Pearsall is a student in Carnegie Mellon’s Theatrical Video and Media Design program, and a recipient of the university’s prestigious Presidential Scholarship. She is training as a theatrical designer and technician in scenic design and construction and lighting design and programming.

Deluxe Entertainment Services Group hosted the reception and Sony, including Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony Corp. of America, was a presenting sponsor.

See photos from the event here.

EMA Presents 2018 Digi Awards

The Entertainment Merchants Association presented the 2018 Digi Awards at the Digital Pipeline summit in Los Angeles Sept. 26.

The Content Provider Digi Award, recognizing a company supplying a movie, television program or other audio-visual work, was awarded to Sony Pictures for “always being ready to team up on pilot programs that push toward automation,” according to the EMA.

(L-R) Presenter Suyin Lim of Sony Interactive Entertainment, FandangoNow’s Cameron Douglas and the EMA’s Mark Fisher. FandangoNow won the Digi Innovation Award.

The Innovation Award, given to a company that has demonstrated noteworthy innovation through its technology or programming to enhance the consumer experience of digital entertainment, was awarded to FandangoNow for its “Binge Bundles,” an initiative that allows consumers to rent multiple movies in one package at a discounted price.

The Service and Technology Provider “Digi” Award, which goes to a company that advances the development and growth of the digital video retailing sector through outstanding products and/or services, was given to Vubiquity for being a leading provider to premium content services and technology solutions and for continuing to innovate and provide state-of-the-art products and services to transform digital video distribution, according to the EMA.

The Digital EMA Industry Leadership Award, given to a company or individual that has made a significant contribution to the industry, was awarded to Bill Sondheim, president of Cinedigm Entertainment, for his leadership managing the largest indie studio and aggregator in the home entertainment space, for his overall participation in industry leadership, and for his leadership in guiding discussions regarding the EMA’s focus and future. A second Digital EMA Industry Leadership Award was given to Erick Opecka, Cinedigm’s EVP of digital networks, for his leadership in broadening the EMA’s focus developing a program to support those companies offering OTT channels, and specifically for his chairmanship of the EMA’s OTT Channels council and the successful OTT Channels conference at the EMA’s LAES this past summer.