3 Entertainment News Stories You Missed: David O. Russell's New Show, 'Grey's Anatomy' Contracts, and the NPD Report

With news breaking every day in Hollywood, a number of stories get overlooked that really should be a bigger deal than reported. This is a look at the top three from last week.

Jan 27, 2014 at 2:23PM


David O. Russell at premiere of American Hustle. (Credit: AP)

In the entertainment industry news comes out fast and furious and sometimes the importance and impact of some of those developments gets lost in the shuffle. Here's a look at three of the top entertainment industry stories from the past week that you may have missed and why they are worth a second look.

NPD issues new study; networks refute

Companies affected the most: Showtime (a subsidiary of CBS (NYSE:CBS)Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN))

The NPD group (formally National Purchase Diary) this week released a new study indicating that over the past two years, the rise of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime video may have had an impact on the subscription rates of customers to premium channels such as Showtime, HBO, and Starz. If true, that would make "cord-cutting" an even larger threat to traditional media and show that the streaming services have begun to eat away at the premium market.

Of course, that's only IF it was true.

Shortly after the NPD released the report, Showtime was the first to challenge the findings with ones of its own showing the REVERSE was true. Instead of the main premium channels losing subscribers, they actually saw gains. In response the NPD quickly issued a statement saying that after further review, "there is data supporting the conclusion that individual subscribers are either subscribing to more channels, or adding channels over time."

Impact on business:

This is a big deal for two reasons. One the NPD is a highly respected group and a number of marketing and PR campaigns are crafted around their numbers. It's not like them to be wrong and gives the organization a bit of a black eye. Second, the study actually pokes a hole in the "cord-cutting" theory that many Americans are now more likely to ditch traditional TV for streaming online options.

Most of the counter arguments to this point have really relied on the small sampling of the population that actually has made the switch, but for Showtime and the other premium channels to come forward and have proof they are not affected gives traditional media a huge boost. Premium content obviously costs more than basic cable, so if people are still willing to add both to their monthly spending, there's reason to believe people are interested in paying for additional options and not choosing one over the other. The battle for your money just got a lot more interesting.

ABC orders drama from American Hustle director David O. Russell

Company affected the most: ABC (a subsidiary of Disney (NYSE:DIS))

While it may not be taking a hatchet to pilot season like Fox, ABC this week did bypass the pilot process and give a straight-to-series order to a new drama from Academy Award-nominated director David O. Russell and screenwriter Susannah Grant. As first reported by Deadline.com, the untitled drama would focus on the upstairs/downstairs (i.e., members and staff) of an elite country club. Russell will helm the pilot off a script he co-wrote with Grant.

Impact on business:

Russell has been nominated three times for Best Director at the Oscars, including back-to-back nominations last year and this year. Furthermore, his cast for each of those films (Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle) has had a presence in the four main acting categories, an extremely rare feat. Now take that resume and transfer it to network TV and you can see why this is a big deal for any network, let alone ABC, which could really use a shiny new drama.

Remember, this isn't a pilot; it's a straight-to-series order meaning you will see this show on ABC's 2014-2015 lineup, and that gives the company a huge advantage with advertisers. Russell's partner is also a big get as Grant wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay for Erin Brockovich and previously served as an executive producer on Party of Five and A Gifted Man.

Ellen Pompeo & Patrick Dempsey re-sign with 'Grey's Anatomy'

Company affected the most: ABC 

ABC announced on Thursday "Grey's Anatomy" stars Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey have each signed a new two-year deal to continue with the hospital drama. The pair, who play a husband and wife on the show, are arguably its two biggest stars, with Pompeo also being the title character.

Impact on business:

On paper this is nothing more than a deal between a TV series and its two leads, but it's actually so much more than that as it creates a ripple effect throughout the network. The signing allows ABC to confidently renew the drama and not worry about audience erosion should the popular pair decide to move on. "Grey's" remains a network staple and still draws a healthy audience that helps anchor the network's Thursday night lineup. However it has seen a number of its original cast members depart over the years and is gearing up for Sandra Oh's departure at season end.

The network had feared Pompeo and Dempsey might follow her lead, especially after Dempsey made a few intriguing comments last summer that indicated he may be ready to walk away from the show that helped make him a household name. The loss of all three actors would have forced ABC to decide if it was really comfortable going the ER route and relying on new characters to carry the show.

Series creator Shondra Rhimes had already planted the seeds for that scenario last year by introducing a new group of faces to the ensemble, the majority of whom were promoted this season to series regulars. ABC will now look to secure Justin Chambers, James Pickens Jr., and Chandra Wilson who have also been on the show since episode one.

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Fool contributor Brett Gold owns shares of CBS. The Motley Fool recommends Netflix and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Netflix and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

4 in 5 Americans Are Ignoring Buffett's Warning

Don't be one of them.

Jun 12, 2015 at 5:01PM

Admitting fear is difficult.

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This past May, The Motley Fool sent 8 of its best stock analysts to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting. CEO Warren Buffett and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger fielded questions for nearly 6 hours.
The catch was: Attendees weren't allowed to record any of it. No audio. No video. 

Our team of analysts wrote down every single word Buffett and Munger uttered. Over 16,000 words. But only two words stood out to me as I read the detailed transcript of the event: "Real threat."

That's how Buffett responded when asked about this emerging market that is already expected to be worth more than $2 trillion in the U.S. alone. Google has already put some of its best engineers behind the technology powering this trend. 

The amazing thing is, while Buffett may be nervous, the rest of us can invest in this new industry BEFORE the old money realizes what hit them.

KPMG advises we're "on the cusp of revolutionary change" coming much "sooner than you think."

Even one legendary MIT professor had to recant his position that the technology was "beyond the capability of computer science." (He recently confessed to The Wall Street Journal that he's now a believer and amazed "how quickly this technology caught on.")

Yet according to one J.D. Power and Associates survey, only 1 in 5 Americans are even interested in this technology, much less ready to invest in it. Needless to say, you haven't missed your window of opportunity. 

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David Hanson owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and American Express. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Google, and Coca-Cola.We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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