Weekly E-News, Issue #215, June 5, 2007

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Fuller, Sillerman Taking CKX Private
U.S. entertainment tycoon Robert Sillerman and “Pop Idol” creator Simon Fuller have acquired CKX, the parent of “American Idol” production house 19 Entertainment.

The $1.3 billion deal to take Nasdaq-listed entertainment giant CKX into private hands comes just two years after the company bought Fuller’s 19 Entertainment for almost $200 million.

As well as owning 19 Entertainment, CKX has exclusive talent deals with David and Victoria Beckham and others, including singers Rachel Stevens, Will Young, Claudia Schiffer, Annie Lennox, and Emma Bunton. The company also has a controlling interest in Elvis Presley Enterprises and owns the names, images, and likenesses of Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali. Sillerman is currently chairman and CEO of CKX and Fuller is a director and CEO of 19.

As well as seeking to take over his parent company, Fuller is also planning to bring UK comedy show “Little Britain” to U.S. TV under a development deal with HBO, and is also developing an “EastEnders”-syle blue-collar soap for Fox.

Nickelodeon To Create Lodging Resort Brand
There will be plenty of “sliming” worldwide as Nickelodeon plans to create Nickelodeon Resorts by Marriott, a new lodging resort brand and concept in conjunction with Marriott International Inc. and Miller Global Properties. The deal proposes 20 upscale, self-contained destination resorts expected to be under construction by 2020. Miller Global will have certain exclusive rights to develop and own the resorts in specified geographic areas and will initially provide $300 million of dedicated development equity capital. All properties will be managed by Marriott.

The first property is expected to be a 650-room resort at Liberty Station in San Diego complete with a 100,000-square-foot water park and activity deck complex featuring a variety of pools and interactive attractions. The resort is expected to break ground in January 2008 and open in early 2010. Other potential resort locations being considered include major family-oriented destinations in the U.S., Caribbean and Mexican resort areas, the UK and Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Middle East.  

Harry Potter To Come To Life in Themed Environment
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and Universal Orlando Resort will bring the world of Harry Potter to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in late 2009. The partnership was forged through a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products. The “theme park within a theme park” will be titled “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” and provide an opportunity for guests to visit some of the most iconic locations found in the books and the films, including the village of Hogsmeade, the mysterious Forbidden Forest, and even Hogwarts castle itself. The new environment will feature immersive rides and interactive attractions, as well as experiential shops and restaurants. Also debuting will be a state-of-the-art attraction that will bring the magic, characters, and stories of Harry Potter to life in an exciting way that guests have never before experienced.

JCPenney Nabs Exclusive on Abby Cadabby Apparel
Sesame Workshop’s newest “it” girl is having her time in the sun at JCPenney this summer with an exclusive apparel line for newborns, infants, and toddlers. The Abby Cadabby line will be featured at the department store’s “Friendshop” hot zones in July and August during a special “Sesame Street” promotion. The Abby Cadabby line, created by Children’s Apparel Network, will include sets and dresses, playwear, and sportswear and feature treatments such as an appliqués on satin, felt, and knit fabrics.

Along with Abby, fans will see character artwork of Elmo, Cookie Monster, and the rest of the “Sesame Street” friends on the clothing. Additional products will roll out at retailers this year including plush from Fisher-Price (a two-piece basic Elmo & Abby Best Friends plush set and a talking Abby Cadabby with bonus DVD sampler); a plush assortment from Gund; greeting cards from American Greetings; fun-shaped balloons from Anagram; pop-up books from Bendon Publishing; storybooks from Dalmatian Press; board books from Random House; novelty books from Reader's Digest Children's Publishing; books and CDs from Soundprints; as well as Sesame Street DVDs from Sesame Workshop and a Sony Wonder that features Abby.

New Strategies Announced at Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.  announced plans Friday at its annual shareholders' meeting to leverage capital resources through a strategy designed to improve returns, productivity, and sales within its U.S. stores. The plans include moderating the growth of its U.S. supercenters.

The result of this strategy will be a growth program of between 190 and 200 new U.S. supercenters during this fiscal year and approximately 170 supercenters each year for the next three fiscal years.

For fiscal year 2008, the 190-to-200 range includes approximately 70 relocations and 40 expansions of discount stores into supercenters. In October 2006, the company had announced that its fiscal year 2008 growth plans included between 265 and 270 supercenters in the United States. Approximately 80 of the supercenters originally scheduled to open in January 2008 now will open in early fiscal year 2009.

In addition, under the leadership of Eduardo Castro-Wright, president and CEO for Wal-Mart Stores U.S., a three-year plan is being implemented to drive returns and sales through a strategic approach to improve customer relevancy in operations and merchandise. This is the second year of the three-year plan.

"Through our strategy, we are pursuing high return opportunities by focusing on markets where our customer segmentation approach offers the best opportunity to create a more competitive position for Wal-Mart and drive higher comparable store sales," says Castro-Wright. "In addition, our U.S. plan includes a variety of initiatives designed to improve labor productivity and enhance margins."

European Brand Show Offers Free Seminar
Brand Licensing 2007, the only pan-European event dedicated to brand licensing, is extending to trade show attendants complimentary access to a 10-session seminar, featuring tips and guidance from industry leaders that will teach executives how to maximize their brand’s licensing potential. The two-day program will include topics such as brand protection for art and design, royalties and pricing strategies, and trend spotting in Internet-launched brands and characters—free for convention attendants. Brand Licensing Europe 2007 will take place Oct. 2 to 3 in London.
 
Ruling Affects TV Advertising Rules  
The European Commission’s new version of the TV Without Frontiers directive has been approved, allowing producers to use product placement as long as viewers are informed at the beginning and end of the show. The practice remains banned in news content and children’s shows. The initiative will take effect by year-end and covers all audiovisual media—from terrestrial broadcast to online on-demand services—regardless of the transmission technology. Broadcasters will remain limited to 12 minutes of advertising per hour, but the directive eliminates the current limit of three hours per day of advertising.

Snoopy Goes Styling
Snoopy will take to the catwalk in September at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week when MetLife presents “Snoopy in Fashion,” a fashion benefit for Dress for Success. Designers Isaac Mizrahi and Betsey Johnson will create outfits inspired by Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts” to benefit the organization that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.
 
Mattel Revs Up Fisher-Price’s Licensing Presence
Mattel expanded its relationship with Springs Global US Inc. with the first-ever complete line of bedding and bath products for infants and toddlers under the Fisher-Price brand due on shelves in spring 2007. The pair also collaborated on an activity-based line of bedding featuring Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Polly Pocket with products such as “make-it-yourself” fleece throws and pillow shams.  

In other news, Fisher-Price partnered with Dream Apparel on a line of sleepwear featuring the “Animals of the Rainforest” design, which is also a popular theme across the brand’s playwear, bedding and Baby Gear product lines. The sleepwear collection for infants and toddlers will be on shelves at select retailers in October 2007.
 
Stars Align for “Planet Groove” TV Debut
Nicktoons Network will begin broadcasting “Planet Groove” featuring Australian music group The Star Girls in a deal with Big Tent Entertainment. As the marketing and licensing agency for the property, Big Tent plans a merchandising program with key partners in apparel, home furnishings, and stationery and accessories categories for girls 6 to 12 years old. Planet Groove revolves around the intergalactic music group, their manager and DJ, and their adventures.

New Justice League Series Airs on Boomerang
“Justice League Unlimited,” a direct spinoff of the “Justice League” series, launched on Boomerang’s Boomeraction franchise starting Sunday, June 3. The 30-minute action adventure series features superheroes from the original Cartoon Network series such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the Green Lantern, along with famous superheroes like Green Arrow, Supergirl, and Captain Atom. Other members may be a bit more obscure like Hawk & Dove, siblings with a very different take on conflict resolution techniques; B’wana Beast, a jungle man-turned-superhero; The Atom, the world’s smallest superhero; Booster Gold, a glory-seeking hero from the future; and Zatanna, a beautiful magician and sorceress. A few classic villains return, including Lex Luthor, Soloman Grundy, and Mongul.

Beverly Hills Shield Focus of Licensing Program
Bradford Licensing Associates signed on as the exclusive worldwide agent for the City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce. As part of the three-year deal, the agency will create a luxury branding program for the Beverly Hills Shield in categories such as high-end apparel, fashion accessories, cosmetics, jewelry and wine & spirits. Licensees will also have the opportunity to use sub-brands currently being developed by the Chamber, including new branding initiatives for Beverly Hills, signed “Love, Beverly Hills XX.” This tagline and related branding details will be available to licensees for limited-edition, niche product lines.

CopCorp To Rep Junior Lifestyle Brand
CopCorp Licensing will manage the licensing program for Pink Cookie Design, a junior lifestyle brand for consumers in their teens and twenties. Hot on the heels of the announcement was also the news of the brand’s first two licensees: Anchor licensee HYP has already launched hosiery, flip-flops, and slippers at mid-tier retailers, and Jacques Moret will soon be launching intimates, daywear, and sleepwear.  
 
Guess Who’s Going Global
Italian game show “Guess Who” will venture into new territory, following a recent deal between Distraction Formats and the program’s current broadcaster, RTI Mediaset, that will air the show in Romania and France. Romania’s Antenna 1 will be the first to air “Guess Who,” premiering it in the fall in a prime-time weekend slot. The show, created by Antonio Ricci, is a hybrid talent show/guessing game where five contestants are challenged to guess the identities of a secret guest. Licensing negotiations are in progress with broadcasters in Greece, the UK, and the U.S.
 
“Storming” Around the World
Fresh on the heels of licensing deals that will broadcast RTI Mediaset’s animated series “Storm Hawks” to much of the world, BRB Internacional acquired the television, DVD, and licensing rights from Nerd Corps to bring the animated series to Spain and Portugal. Canada’s YTV will begin airing the program this year, as well as Germany’s RTL II, France 3, and the Cartoon Network in the U.S., UK, France, and Latin America. MGM Worldwide Television Distribution secured the rights to broadcast the series in all territories, excluding North America and Latin America.

This fall, Spin Master plans to release its first line of “Storm Hawks” toys, serving as the cartoon’s master toy licensee. The cartoon follows the adventures of five teens who, on flying motorcycles, battle skybound villains.
 
YouTube Scores Goal with MLS
YouTube partnered with Major League Soccer to bring free online video content to soccer fans. The deal creates a brand channel for Major League Soccer within the YouTube online community and grants the league the freedom to post and remove content as desired. Fans will have access to free highlights from each regular season and playoff game, as well as additional on- and off-the-field footage, to be posted within 24 hours of the game’s initial broadcast. YouTube and MLS will share profits from the content-adjacent advertising. 

Ripe Ideas Adds to Client Portfolio
Ripe Ideas added two new clients and is planting some new deals for The New York Botanical Garden. Together with Camp Brands Holdings, the agency plans to devise a comeback strategy for 1980s fashion brand Camp Beverly Hills. Already on board is Project Runway winner and teen style setter Jay McCarroll, who will design the collection of apparel and accessories for teens and tweens. A teen book series is also in the works as is entry into many other product categories. On the design side, the company partnered with Jackie Shapiro to represent the French Bull brand and its mass-market “sister” brand MOE 3.  

For long-term client The New York Botanical Garden, Ripe Ideas signed deals with MeadWestvaco for stationery, paper, and home-office products; Larson Juhl for fine art prints; Enchante Accessories for botanical personal care; and Biederlack for home accessories. The agreements pave the way for the launch of new product lines featuring artwork from the collections of the Garden’s LuEsther T. Mertz Library, the most important horticultural and botanical library in the world.

Execs on the Move
Marvel Entertainment Inc. appointed Alan Fine to the new position of executive vice president and chief marketing officer/Marvel Characters, a subsidiary of Marvel. Fine will also retain his current title as CEO of Marvel’s publishing and toy divisions.

TOMY Corp. promoted Kaz Sugiyama to president, Laura Yoshioka to director, consumer software division, and appointed Ron Kushner to national sales manager.

Atlantyca Entertainment appointed Claudia Mazzucco CEO and Caterina Vacchi as senior manager and executive producer.

Steven Jacober stepped down as president of SHOPA (the School, Home, and Office Products Association), effective June 1, 2007. Jacober is leaving in order to accept a position as executive director of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, a synagogue based in Washington, D.C. Albert Arends was appointed as interim president to oversee the association’s operations.

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