"Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan is working on a new series for CBS. (Kevork Djansezian / AFP/Getty Images)
After the coffee. Before figuring out what shows to drop from my DVR.
The Skinny: Once again I was denied a MacArthur genius grant. Where's the outrage? Somehow I will carry on. Thursday's headlines include an important FCC proceeding on TV ownership rules and reviews of new sitcoms from Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams. A new study that downplays cord-cutting and more gossip about shakeups at Sony Pictures and a review of ABC's new sitcom "Back in the Game."
Last season, I got hooked on ABC's "Nashville." Unfortunately, the rest of the country didn't follow my lead, and ABC started to turn the show about country music artists into another guilty-pleasure soap. I watched last night's season premiere and it was as if NFLRedZone had produced the show. It was nothing but quick cuts from silly plot line to sillier plot line. Bummer.
CBS is banking on "The Crazy Ones" starring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar. (CBS / September 25, 2013)
Still crazy. CBS is banking on the zany antics of Robin Williams to give its fall lineup a big lift. Williams is starring with Sarah Michelle Gellar in "The Crazy Ones," about an advertising firm struggling to stay relevant. Williams knows his name alone can't carry a show. He tells USA Today that "the big name doesn't mean anything if it doesn't work."
No Bat Phone? Fox has struck a deal with Warner Bros. for a new series called "Gotham" based on the character of Police Commissioner James Gordon. However, this is not a Batman series. According to Deadline Hollywood, the show will focus on the early days of Gordon when he was a detective in Gotham City, which is starting to be overrun with colorful criminals.
Daily Dose: It's hard not to see billboards for new TV shows while driving around Los Angeles these days. Interestingly enough, the location of posters is not just about hitting the most trafficked areas. Networks also often place billboards near the homes of the talent to try to show how heavily their show is being promoted. Sometimes they do that even if they are otherwise not spending a ton of money. So naughty. The FCC is planning on removing its so-called UHF discount from its TV ownership rules. More on that below, but one of the big worries of the FCC action was that it could derail some potential deals. However, the FCC has proposed grandfathering deals already announced before the plans to relax the regulations.
Tom Sherak, newly appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti as L.A.'s film czar, is former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He's seen here in his academy office in Beverly Hills in 2012. (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / July 10, 2012)
New Film LA Czar: Former President of the Academy.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has appointed veteran Hollywood executive Tom Sherak to be his senior film advisor.
Sherak, the former president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will lead Garcetti’s efforts to support the local entertainment industry and increase local production, the mayor said in a statement.
“The entertainment industry generates more than 500,000 local jobs. Protecting and expanding it is an absolute necessity,” Garcetti said. “Tom will lead our campaign for production incentives in Sacramento and is empowered to work across city departments to make L.A. the best possible location for production.”
Sherak, who will also serve as the director of the Mayor's Entertainment Industry and Production Office, will earn a salary of $1 per year.
“The entertainment industry has a true champion in Mayor Garcetti, and I’m honored to work with him to make sure L.A. is always the entertainment capital of the world,” Sherak said. “I look forward to helping Mayor Garcetti stop runaway production, increase state production credits, and cut City Hall red tape.”
The appointment comes at a time when L..A. has experienced significant declines in film and TV production as business has flocked to other U.S. states and countries offering stronger tax breaks than are available in California.
Garcetti campaigned to help fight runaway production and said pressing for increased state film tax credits was one of his top priorities.
He also has pushed for the city to do more to help the industry. The City Council is scheduled to vote soon on legislation he wrote to waive city fees for television pilots, with the goal of landing the full series.
Sherak currently consults for Skydance Productions, One Three Media and other entertainment entities.
As a partner at Revolution Studios, Sherak helped lead the release of 47 films including "Black Hawk Down," and he consulted for Marvel Studios on films including "Iron Man."
His experience includes serving as chairman of Twentieth Century Fox Domestic Film Group, senior executive vice president of Fox Filmed Entertainment, and president of domestic distribution and marketing for Twentieth Century Fox.
He is the chairman of the MS Hope Foundation, which he helped create, and is a former chairman of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation and a former board member of the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
He is the chairman of the MS Hope Foundation, which he helped create, and is a former chairman of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation and a former board member of the Motion Picture and Television Fund.
Sherak received an honorary doctorate in the arts from the Academy of Art University and holds a degree in marketing from New York City Community College. He has served on the faculty of the UCLA Producers Program.
A new survey from PriceWaterhouseCoopers finds that reports of pay-TV cord-cutting might be overstated. Cable television continues to be the top pay-television option, the consulting firm found. (Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg / August12, 2013)
What, me worry? A new survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers attempts to throw cold water on the idea that pay-TV customers are itching to cut the cord to their pay-TV service in favor of newer online platforms. Many analysts and columnists have suggested that consumer trends indicate that people -- particularly young adults -- are eager to get away from traditional pay-TV providers in favor of cherry-picking content from other platforms such as Netflix, Hulu and iTunes. Not to question the fine folks at PWC, but on first glance this survey looks a little too optimistic. I'm sure there were surveys 15 years ago saying people wouldn't get rid of their landline phone in favor of just having a cellphone. More on the PWC survey from the Los Angeles Times.
FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn. If the FCC eliminates the UHF discount, it would probably slow the fast rate of consolidation in the television industry. (Susan Walsh / Associated Press)
A whole new U. The Federal Communications Commission is considering tweaking its TV ownership rules. At its monthly meeting Thursday, the FCC is expected to propose changing the value it puts on a UHF signal compared with a VHF signal when determining whether a broadcaster is in compliance with the TV ownership rules. I know what you're thinking. Does anyone even care about UHF versus VHF anymore? Probably not, but this is a big deal for the industry. If a UHF is given the same value as a VHF instead of the current 50% discount, a lot of broadcasters may have to put the brakes on gobbling up TV stations. Details from the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg. Also, some good background on the issue in this recent story from TVNewsCheck.
Bet on 'Bad.' CBS has struck a deal for a new detective series from "Breaking Bad" creator Vince Gilligan. David Shore, creator of "House," is on board to serve as a writer and a show runner on the as-yet unnamed series. Interestingly, the script has been kicking around the industry for about a decade and CBS initially passed on it, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
WGA survey: Screenwriters are gravitating to the small screen.
Screenwriters who once viewed television as inferior to the big screen increasingly are giving the small screen more props. That's one of the key takeaways from a survey by theWriters Guild of America, East, which polled about 20% of its 4,000 members who write for film, television and new media.
Although more than half of the respondents said they wrote feature films in the last five years, nearly 90% said they intend to seek guild-covered work in television in the next year.
"In other words, screenwriters plan to explore opportunities in TV,'' the guild said in a statement. "Members view television as a more writer-driven medium than feature film, and a growing slate of compelling, creatively satisfying shows is being produced for the small screen."
The survey's findings underscore the commercial and critical success of such Emmy Award-winning TV series as Netflix's"House of Cards" and AMC's "Breaking Bad."
Most of the writers who answered the survey also performed other work in the entertainment industry in the last five years. About 45% said they have also produced; nearly 30% have directed; and about 18% have acted.The survey also found growing numbers are writing for new media: 17% of the respondents indicated they have been paid to write for digital media, over which the guild first won jurisdiction in the 2007-08 strike.
When asked to select the biggest challenges WGAE members will face in the next five years, half of the respondents cited the decreased number of feature films being made. Many also lamented the dearth of development deals in feature film and limited revenue from the re-use of shows online and on digital devices, the guild said.“What I’ve learned the last few years is that I have to be open to more kinds of work -- feature, TV, cable, etc. -- and then work much harder to get the job,” said one anonymous respondent in the survey.
Robin Williams, left, and Forest Whitaker in "Lee Daniels' The Butler." (ANNE MARIE FOX / The Weinstein Company /September 30, 2012)
No surprise here. It looks like "Lee Daniels' The Butler" will have a second life as a TV show on OWN, the network created by Oprah Winfrey, who starred in the movie.
OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network said on Thursday that it has acquired the network television rights to the hit film from the Weinstein Co. to begin airing a show in 2017.
The drama, in which Forest Whitaker plays a White House butler who serves three decades' worth of presidents, hit theaters in August, has made more than $113 million at the box office worldwide and has generated awards buzz for Winfrey.
Winfrey plays the wife of Whitaker's character.
"OWN is the ideal broadcast home for this film, which has had such a tremendous response from theatrical audiences," said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Co.
Said OWN President Erik Logan: "On the heels of the film’s fantastic debut, we couldn’t be more excited to showcase this incredible movie for our viewers.”
Ay, caramba! The comedy "Instructions Not Included" is going to become the biggest grossing Spanish-language movie ever in the United States and is now playing on almost 1,000 screens.Variety looks at what is driving its surprising success.
A scene from "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2," which is expected to top the box office this weekend.
'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2' set for clear box office win.
This weekend's box office forecast is anything but murky: "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" is set to become a clear No. 1 hit.
The 3-D animated film will likely debut with around $45 million in ticket sales, according to those who have seen pre-release audience surveys. That would be a robust start for the sequel, whose predecessor launched with $30.3 million in 2009. (Sony Pictures, which is distributing the film, is predicting a softer opening of around $33 million.)
Three other new films are also hitting theaters nationwide this weekend, though none will gross nearly as much as the second "Cloudy."
After getting off to a decent start in limited release last weekend, the race car flick "Rush" will expand to about 2,300 cinemas and is expected to collect a so-so $10 million.
"Don Jon," actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut, and the romantic comedy "Baggage Claim" will probably open with $9 million apiece.
"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2" is the first animated film to be released in almost two months, after a summer packed with cartoons. With little family competition in the marketplace, the $78-million production is poised for a strong box office run that should rival the $243 million the original film took in worldwide.
Sony Pictures Animation, the studio behind the picture, is coming off somewhat of a disappointment with "The Smurfs 2." Since its release in July, the picture has collected about $307 million globally -- far less than the $563 million the original generated.
"Cloudy 2," which has received less positive reviews than the first film, features the voices of Bill Hader, Anna Faris and Andy Samberg. The film, loosely inspired by a children's book series, is about genetically modified leftovers that evolve into “foodimals."
Hoping to capitalize on strong reviews, U.S. distributor Universal Pictures decided to launch "Rush" in five theaters last weekend. The movie ended up with a per-theater average of $37,458 -- a good, but not great, result.
Directed by Ron Howard, the film is based on the rivalry between 1970s Formula One drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). To help sell the picture before production, Howard attended the American Film Market and met with international distributors in an effort to persuade them to invest in his movie. Eventually, the picture was co-financed for $38 million by Cross Creek Pictures and Exclusive Media.
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January, "Don Jon" was quickly acquired byRelativity Media for $4 million -- one of the bigger deals to come out of the festival. The $6-million production was written and directed by Gordon-Levitt, who stars as a New Jersey playboy whose porn addiction gets in the way of his burgeoning relationship with a head-turner (Scarlett Johansson).
At 32, Gordon-Levitt has become one of Hollywood's brightest young stars. In recent years, the actor has appeared in a number of respected indie successes like "(500) Days of Summer" and "50/50"while also drawing the attention of top-tier directors like Christopher Nolan and Steven Spielberg.
"Baggage Claim" is only the second film from writer-director David Talbert, whose debut came in 2008 with the Katt Williams comedy "First Sunday." First known as a playwright, Talbert went on to write a 2005 novel upon which his latest movie is based.
The Fox Searchlight release, which is aimed at an African American audience, stars Paula Patton as a flight attendant so desperate to get married that she starts dating her ex-boyfriends again. The movie has earned the least-positive reviews of any of the weekend's debuts by far -- notching just a 6% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Cloudy with a chance of firings. Some recent departures at Sony Pictures has rumors flying that a bigger overhaul of the executive ranks at the movie studio is in the works. Sony has been under the microscope since hedge fund operator Daniel Loeb questioned how the studio was being run. More from the New York Post.
Illustration by: John Ueland
ABC's John Saade is the third out of four unscripted chiefs out as the network franchises age and desperation sets in for a new "Duck Dynasty"-size hit.
Trend or coincidence? Over the last few months, three senior reality television executives have left or been pushed out of their jobs. Is there a purge going on or is this just one of those things? The Hollywood Reporter tries to figure if there is a bigger story to be told. I'm guessing coincidence.
Are we a nation or a factory? US media, from music to movies, television to Internet, are shifting focus from pleasing and serving the domestic market to making the big bucks internationally. This has several effects. The first is very positive, which is a greater understanding of the world and its cultures. The second is that the interests of the US may not be served in the content of US produced media, if the end game is to be successful overseas and beyond out borders. Even the news and documentary media are abandoning their role as the fifth estate, watchdog and mirror on our government and society, for international dollars. If they do not do so, with Americans less interested in news and view that oppose their own, these media could be doomed to financial failure and the fate of the dinosaur.
David Guetta performs during a concert at the Rock in Rio Festival in Rio de Janeiro. Bart Cools, tapped by Warner Music Group Corp., was a key architect in Guetta's dramatic rise. (Buda Mendes / Getty Images / September 13, 2013)
Bart Cools to lead WMG's global electronic dance music strategy.
Warner Music Group Corp. has tapped Bart Cools to lead its electronic dance music strategy as it pushes to take advantage of the growing EDM genre.
Cools, a key architect of EDM star David Guetta's dramatic rise, will hold the newly created position of executive vice president for global A&R and marketing for dance music at Warner Recorded Music.
Cools, who will report to Atlantic Records Chairman and Chief Executive Craig Kallman, came to Warner when the record company closed its acquisition of Parlophone Label Group from Universal Music Group in July.
"This is a dynamic genre that breaks many of the rules of traditional artist development, and Bart’s unique insight ... will be invaluable as we continue to transform our capabilities," Kallman said in a statement.
Most recently, Cools led EMI Dance Network as it was launching campaigns for artists such as Guetta, Swedish House Mafia and Deadmau5. He has worked with dance music acts including the Chemical Brothers, Massive Attack and St. Germain.
Kallman's Big Beat Records, which Warner relaunched in 2010, is the label behind electronic acts such asSkrillex, Chromeo and Icona Pop.
Because there just aren't enough NFL highlights out there. The National Football League has struck a deal with Twitter to offer game highlights on the social networking platform. The folks who have TV rights to the NFL can't do that. According to the Wall Street Journal, the pairing of Twitter and the NFL has already sold millions of dollars in advertising.
Shocking! DirecTV said it would raise its rates by almost 5% this year and laid the blame on rising programming costs, particularly distribution fees for carrying local broadcasters. Sports programming is also driving up programming costs. Coverage from Multichannel News.
Cup runneth over. The exciting finish in the America's Cup race was a boost to NBC and NBC Sports Network, which was carrying the event. Last year, America's Cup was only available online. This year the folks behind the race bought time on NBC and NBCSN. The numbers for NBCSN were better than what its heavily hyped soccer coverage has averaged. Still, the audience was relatively small compared with the late 1980s. More from the New York Times. See also "Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines (click here)"
Angry Birds creator Rovio Entertainment said its animation channel has surpassed 1 billion views. (Sarkanniemi /September 25, 2013)
One billion plus Angry Birds~! Angry Birds creator Rovio said its new ToonsTV animation channel has surpassed 1 billion views, demonstrating that entertainment distributed through a mobile game application represents a powerful new way to reach viewers.
Seven months after launching "Angry Birds Toons" through its popular game app, Rovio Entertainment said the company has achieved the viewing milestone. The Finnish company said it would create a second season of "Angry Birds Toons" for 2014, as well as spinoffs dedicated to other game characters, Bad Piggies and Stella, the pink bird.
Rovio launched the "Angry Birds Toons" series in March through its game app as well as through Internet-connected smart TVs and devices. The series also aired on more than 20 television networks worldwide.
BTIG media analyst Richard Greenfield wrote that this strategy allows Rovio to serve as its own gatekeeper, building its own content library and creating a meaningful video platform where the company controls the economics.
"Investors have not paid significant attention to how far Rovio has come in the past seven months," Greenfield wrote in a blog post. "That is going to change."
Greenfield estimates that ToonsTV is carried on more than 25 million devices, giving it a bigger distribution platform than the nation's largest cable TV distributor, Comcast. He projects that the potential audience will continue to grow, thanks to fresh content, like the just-released "Angry Birds Star Wars II," and more devices connected to the Internet.
Other Hollywood studios have begun to take notice.
Rovio said it had struck deals to bring more content to its channel, including "Stan Lee's Chakra the Invincible" from Pow! Entertainment, specials from Hasbro Studios, "Amazing Animals" from National Geographic Kids, "Fraggle Rock" from the Jim Henson Co. and the French animated series "Oggy and the Cockroaches" from Xilam Animation.
"Given the size and reach of our massively engaged audience, it seemed only natural to extend beyond our own storytelling and partner with the best content creators to bring our fans even more fun entertainment," Rovio Chief Executive Mikael Hed said in a statement.
SAG-AFTRA holds first national convention in L.A.
Seventeen months after its creation, Hollywood's largest performers union began its first national convention in Los Angeles this week.
More than 350 delegates from across the country are representing those that elected the at the inaugural SAG-AFTRA National Convention, which kicked off at the JW Marriott at L.A. Live on this morning.
Delegates will elect the executive vice president, the second-highest-ranking member in the union behind the union's president, as well as seven vice presidents representing various locals and categories within the union representing actors/performers, broadcasters and sound recording artists.
The vice presidents serve on the national board of the union, which has more than 168,000 members.
The delegates also will vote on some 35 resolutions, including a controversial proposal aimed at "advancing local autonomy" by giving local union offices control of their budgets and local checking accounts. Another proposal would reopen the Nevada and San Diego offices that were shut down as part of a restructuring after the merger.
Other resolutions call for establishing singer representation on the national board, creating a separate membership category for background performers (extras) and a new method for qualifying for membership within SAG-AFTRA.
The new method would replace the current so-called three voucher system with one that requires background performers to complete 100-days of non-union work before they become eligible to join the union, according to a copy of the resolution obtained The Times.
Bringing together such a diverse group of actors, singers and broadcasters in a common coalition was one of the chief catalysts for the decision in March 2012 to combine the Screen Actors Guild with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, a sister union with which it had often clashed.
Veteran actor Ken Howard, who championed the merger, was elected to a second term as the union's president last month, easily defeating challenger Esai Morales.
The convention, which runs through Saturday, also will feature various industry panels and high-profile speakers, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who will deliver the keynote speech on Thursday, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, who will speak on Saturday.
A screenshot of "Saturday Night Live's" new YouTube channel for international audiences, managed by the Venice, Calif., company ZEFR. (ZEFR)
'SNL' launches first YouTube channel internationally with ZEFR.
International Web surfers may be seeing more of Chris Farley's "Saturday Night Live" skits on YouTube.
The long-running sketch comedy series has launched its first official YouTube channel with the help of ZEFR, a Venice, Calif., start-up that makes technology for media companies on the Google-owned Web video site.
The "SNL" channel is available on YouTube to viewers everywhere except in the United States, where Yahoo runs an online video outlet for the show.
The "SNL" deal is a big get for ZEFR, which has partnered with Lorne Michael's company Broadway Video Entertainment to eventually deliver 4,500 clips from all 39 seasons, starting with 2,500 videos.
"'SNL' is huge and it’s basically built for YouTube," said ZEFR's Zach James, who co-founded the company as MovieClips in 2009. "It has the most highly produced, most loved comedic sketches in the world, and when you put that on the biggest video platform in the world, that’s a winning combo."
To help bring "SNL" to foreign online viewers, ZEFR will manage the show's YouTube page and place promotions at the end of each clip to direct users to other sketches they might like.
ZEFR, which has raised $31 million in funding, has previously partnered with major Hollywood studios including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment. It says it manages 130 million premium videos on YouTube totaling more than 7 billion views a month.
ZEFR employs more than 200 people and is headquartered in Venice's Abbot Kinney neighborhood. It also recently expanded into sports by running a channel of NASCAR clips. "These are the kinds of guys we want to be working with,” James said.
While the new "SNL" YouTube channel isn't accessible in the show's home country, James says the series has a wide international draw and that 70% of YouTube's audience is outside the U.S.
Surely, there's a foreign audience for the those old "Superfans" sketches.
Betsy Brandt and Michael J. Fox star in "The Michael J. Fox Show." (Eric Liebowitz, NBC / September 26, 2013)
Inside the Los Angeles Times: Robert Lloyd on new sitcoms starring Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams. Mary McNamara on ABC's new comedy "Back in the Game." The Hollywood United Methodist Church is one of Hollywood's favorite places to film.
The Rev. Kathy Cooper-Ledesma and the Rev. Dave Stambaugh in the Hollywood United Methodist Church. The pastors encourage filming at the church because many of their members work in the entertainment industry. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times / September 25, 2013)
News Corp.'s Thomson says print media remains 'very powerful'.
News Corp. Chief Executive Robert Thomson has been cagey on how his publishing company plans to spend its mountain of cash -- or identify potential acquisition targets.
Regulatory rules, he said, prevented him from naming names.
"We'd all be arrested," Thomson quipped on Tuesday to investors gathered at the Goldman Sachs 22nd Annual Communacopia Conference in New York.
News Corp. Chief Executive Robert Thomson, shown with Wall Street editor in chief Kristina O'Neill in 2012, declined to provide any hints about his company's acquisition strategy. (Evan Agostini / Invision/AP / October 18, 2012)
"I cannot be more specific but it would not be far removed from what we do now," Thomson said. "We are not going into the fruit and vegetable business. We are not going to be fishmongers."
Four months ago, the new News Corp. sprang to life with big ambitions and $2.6 billion in cash on its balance sheet. Rupert Murdoch divided his corporate empire into two publicly traded companies: 21st Century Fox, the TV and film company, and the publishing arm, News Corp., to mollify investors who had long demanded that the mogul divest his print holdings.
The corporate break-up was completed in late June.
Thomson, former managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, became chief executive of the slimmed down News Corp. The company boasts the Journal, the New York Post, Times of London and a nascent educational materials firm called Amplify.
"Print is still a very powerful platform. Look at the strength of the Wall Street Journal," Thomson said. "The value of print certainly should not be underestimated."
Murdoch long has been rumored to be interested in the Los Angeles Times, owned by the Tribune Co. The Chicago TV and newspaper company exited bankruptcy protection in December, and its owners would like to eventually divest its eight newspapers.
This summer, two major newspapers were sold: the Washington Post went for $250 million to Amazon.com founder Jeffrey Bezos. The Boston Globe fetched $70 million from John Henry, the principal owner of the Boston Red Sox.
Thomson noted that News Corp. also could acquire technology for video to enhance its digital products. Then he quickly said video was just an example.
Thomson also said that figuring out how to provide content, and advertising, on mobile phones has become "the biggest challenge of all" facing the industry. Companies are experimenting with ad designs and the length of ads on content displayed on tablets and mobile phones.
For the fiscal year that ended in June, News Corp. reported a net income of $506 million. That compared to the previous year's loss of $2.08 billion when write-downs obliterated the company's earnings. Revenue for the most recent fiscal year ticked up 3% to $8.9 billion.
On Tuesday, an investor at the conference asked Thomson about further consolidation in the book publishing industry.
News Corp. owns HarperCollins. Last fall, company executives had some merger talks with Pearson, owner of Penguin books, before Pearson cast its lot with the German media giant Bertelsmann, owner of Random House.
The Penguin Random House merger was completed two months ago. It controls about 25% of the book business.
"Is consolidation possible? Yes, but certainly not at any price," Thomson said. He noted that currently "there is a lot of jostling going on for big name authors" by various publishing house executives.
If one were to sign a few high-earning authors, "then do you need to buy a publisher?" Thomson asked.