As film studios increasingly depend on overseas box office and video receipts to meet profit expectations, prominent show biz public relations firm Rogers & Cowan has decided the time is right to open a United Kingdom film division in London.


The strategic move is an extension of the 50-year-old Los Angeles agency's 2004 acquisition of London-based Denmead Marketing, an independent film and TV publicity agency. Denmead owner Nikki Parker moved to Los Angeles to become Rogers & Cowan's executive vice president for international film.


"As we witness the global film industry's development, where international markets collectively surpass the U.S. in total box office revenue on a regular basis, a heavy emphasis has been placed on overseas PR campaigns to support theatrical film releases," said Tom Tardio, Rogers & Cowan chief executive.


International campaigns handled by the agency, which also has offices in New York, include "The Aviator," "Good Night and Good Luck," and "The Grudge."


Heading the London office will be U.K. native Janine Azern, who will focus on U.K. and European releases of U.S.-made films, as well as further development of the agency's clientele of UK and European production and distribution companies for the U.S. release of their productions. Azern will report to Parker and Michael Dalling, executive vice president for worldwide film publicity and marketing.


Azern recently accompanied Oscar nominee and "Walk the Line" star Reese Witherspoon on a European tour to promote the Johnny Cash biopic. "Johnny Cash is obviously more of a U.S. story and this is an example of where you need to strengthen awareness of an icon like Johnny Cash in a marketplace where they may not have as much awareness," Tardio said.


Rogers & Cowan is a unit of the Interpublic Group of Companies Inc.


Angels Radio
Sherman Oaks-based Radiovisa LLC has agreed to sell the Spanish language news, talk and sports station KMXE-AM (830) to a partnership led by Arte Moreno, majority owner of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.


KMXE, whose programming includes CNN en Espa & #324;ol news and live coverage of University of Southern California football, NASCAR, Los Angeles Galaxy and Chivas USA soccer, will become the flagship Hispanic radio broadcast outlet for the Angels starting with the 2006 season.


"Once the transaction is complete, the station's sports broadcast lineup will be expanded to a bilingual format, providing Hispanic sports enthusiasts with access to exciting regional, national and international sporting events," said Dennis Kuhl, Angels president and a partner in the acquisition, in a statement. "It will also provide an opportunity for advertisers to reach an audience with a buying power of more than $105 billion."


Broadcasting at 50,000 watts, KXME is considered to have the nation's strongest Hispanic AM radio signal. Radiovisa bought the station, then known as KPLS-AM, from the Catholic Radio Network in 2003. The latest purchase price was not disclosed.


Viewing Platform
Burbank-based NBC Universal has partnerships with several area media companies to enhance its broadcast coverage of the Olympics Winter Games in Turin, Italy, which runs through Feb. 26.


To help viewers keep track of more than 418 hours of programming on six broadcast and cable channels over 17 days, Los Angeles-based Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. is providing a variety of cross-platform viewing guides. That includes a dedicated Olympics area in its scrolling guide that runs across bottom of the screen on its TV Guide Channel. TV Guide's online site, print magazine and digital cable interactive program guide also will provide special coverage. NBC channels in turn will promote TV Guide as offering the most comprehensive Olympic viewing information.


El Segundo-based DirectTV Group Inc. is dedicating its Sports Mix channel (Channel 104) as an interactive Olympics coverage hub for customers with interactive-enabled receivers. Viewers will be able to preview the schedule and click to coverage on NBC, USA, MSNBC and CNBC; the high-definition networks NBC HD and Universal HD, and additional on-demand content for DirecTV's DVR customers.


This and That
KABC-TV (Channel 7) has begun broadcasting what it says is the state's first fully high-definition local TV newscast. KABC's Eyewitness News studio and remote news crews are now equipped for HD production in the enhanced 16:9 wide screen format. Bill Burton, the station's vice president of programming, advertising and promotions, said the upgrades also will provide even viewers who don't have an HD television set with sharper, clearer pictures.


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Fleishman-Hillard Los Angeles has expanded its local expertise in several practice groups with the addition of six employees and the promotion of Debra Hotaling to corporate communications practice group director. Hotaling joined Fleishman-Hillard in 2004 following her position as senior director of public relations for KB Home. Among the new hires are senior vice presidents Melissa Robinson (consumer brands and entertainment) and Michael Ritchey (health care). Robinson comes from GolinHarris and Ritchey had worked for LehmanMillet and FischerHealth. Fleishman-Hillard is a part of Omnicom Group Inc.


*Staff reporter Deborah Crowe can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 232, or at dcrowe@labusinessjournal.com .

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