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VH1 Backs Rock Band, Denies Label Plans

7/25/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

VH1 is backing alternative rock band Morningwood — Pedro Yanowitz and sexy singer Chantal Claret — whose song “Best of Me” is the theme for VH1’s Daisy of Love. Executives in the music and/or television business said the MTV Networks outlet pitched the band to join a new music label the network is planning — diving into the troubled music industry, leveraging the exposure it can provide.

“Artists would go into business with VH1 for the promotion,” one industry executive who heard the plans told The Wire, quietly. “VH1 is giving artists promotion, so why not get more? If VH1 can carve out a few million from artists, that moves the needle.”

That exec said VH1 was going after major label-type artists — unlike VH1 Classic Records, which signs bands (Kiss, Thin Lizzy) big labels are done with. Morningwood, which was said to be dropped by Capitol, is a template.

The Morningwood page on Wikipedia (not the most reliable source) says the band “recently signed with VH1 as the first artist on the newly formed VH1 Records.” The Answers.com page about the band also cites VH1 Records.

A VH1 rep, though, says there are no plans for a VH1 Records, just a one-off deal to promote Morningwood’s upcoming release. Checking around, The Wire found some Morningwood interviews on VH1.com, and Morningwood performed at sister channel Logo’s NewNowNext Awards in June.

Efforts to reach the band were unsuccessful. Its MySpace page lists its label as Capitol Records, though sources say that relationship ended. Capitol’s Web site has the band on a list of artists but has no other info.

Cablevision Finding Room for Channels?

Speaking of rumored new business lines, The Wire hears Cablevision Systems plans to launch a channel covering schools in its New York City metropolitan region. Haven’t heard when, though.

It makes sense. Local programming is key to cable (and phone company) video offerings versus satellite TV. Time Warner Cable’s Bob Benya, for example, recently called high-school sports a “real differentiator” for that cabler’s video on demand platforms. Cablevision apparently has bandwidth, too. Otherwise it wouldn’t be gearing up, as The Wire has heard, to launch a spinoff channel from its WE TV service, focused on brides. The Wire heard the rumored spinoff launches in August on Cablevision.

The schools channel also presumably will be exclusive: For more on the importance of local exclusives, please see a Cablevision viewpoint piece on page 25.

Comments were declined by representatives from Cablevision and from WE TV.

Goldstein Via Skype: An Oregon Solution

What to do when you’re hours away from your big annual event, and kaboom, your opening speaker can’t make the trip?

That was the stress-bomb lobbed at the Oregon State Cable Association in Salem last week, when a scheduled representative from the National Cable Television Association, Lon Goldstein, had to cancel his participation because of work stuff. No worries, though: OCTA officials Skyped him in on a Webcam, linked the Webcam to a big screen, and let the talk proceed, complete with audience Q&A. Goldstein missed his shot at the golden goose, though – a two-week, all expenses paid trip to Hawaii.

“You won, Lon, but, tough luck — you have to be present to win,” OCTA head Mike Dewey kidded.

(There wasn’t really a trip, but don’t tell Lon.)

Hallmark 'Deadline’ Just a Greeting

Hallmark Cards may have partially built its empire on missives like “Thinking of You” and “Sorry I Forgot Your Birthday,” but lawyers for the greeting card giant may have found a new niche — the “Sorry We Imposed that Non-Existent Deadline” card.

Hallmark Cards, the largest shareholder of Hallmark Channel parent Crown Media, has been waiting since May 28 for an answer from the programmer on whether to accept or deny a proposed $1.1 billion recapitalization program.

In securities filings in May, Hallmark Cards appeared to impose a deadline for receiving that answer: it wanted an answer before Crown files its next 10-Q second quarter statement. That document is usually filed in late July or early August.

But in a letter to Crown attorneys on July 16 (filed at the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 17), Hallmark Cards attorney John F. Johnson wrote “that filing date was in no way intended as any sort of deadline.”

The letter continues that Hallmark also understands that the special committee of independent directors assembled to review the proposal “need to take whatever amount of time it determines to be required to make what it and its advisors determine to be an appropriate response to our proposal.”

Johnson said Hallmark also understood that while it believes Crown’s refinancing options are limited – it has said that it believes Crown cannot pay the $1.1 billion owed it by May 10, 2010 – “we have assumed the special committee will explore other refinancing alternatives.”

That may take a while. While Crown assembled a special committee of independent directors to evaluate the proposal shortly after it was received, the committee only hired an independent financial adviser (Morgan Stanley) on July 14.

Interestingly, the argument that Crown’s special committee of independent directors would not have enough time to properly evaluate the Hallmark Cards proposal was a major complaint of Crown minority investor Sal Muoio prior to his filing a suit July 13 to try to block the deal. Muoio had stated in the past that Hallmark appeared to be threatening Crown with bankruptcy in order to push the recapitalization deal through.

 

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