Danny Goldberg, the former head of progressive but troubled Air America Radio, has resurfaced. He's launched the Ammal Records label and is looking for established artists to promote.

Ammal is a joint venture with the Beverly Hills independent label New West Records. Goldberg will oversee creative endeavors while 9-year-old New West will handle most of the marketing and promotion. Goldberg is also behind a just-launched New York talent firm, Gold Village Entertainment.

Goldberg told Bloomberg last week that he is in discussions with several artists and expects the label to release two to three albums a year from artists similar to those on New West's roster. Goldberg founded Artemis Records in 1999. Prior to that he served as chairman of Mercury Records and Warner Bros. Records and was president of Atlantic Records.

Left-leaning Air America Radio, founded in 2004 and home to the popular "Al Franken Show," was clouded by scandal last summer when it was reported that the then-owners of the radio group arranged to obtain a $875,000 "loan" from a largely state-funded charitable organization in New York, the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club.

Much of the money apparently went to fund Air America operations, prompting an investigation by New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. As a result of the scandal, the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club lost its funding and was disbanded.

Goldberg resigned as chief executive of Air America in April after a year and a half on the job. He will keep his title of vice chairman through the end of the year.

Showing Initiative
Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. handed off its $130 million media-buying and-planning account to L.A.-based Initiative Worldwide last week after a three-month search.

After seven years, the independent studio has left Palisades Media Group, which suffered its second studio loss in a week: MGM also pulled its $100 million Palisades account in late August, following a number of executive-level changes at the studio. MGM had signed a $100-million account with Palisades this spring and Lions Gate had been with the firm for seven years.

Santa Monica-based Palisades Media Group is a mid-size outfit that handles buying and planning for media and entertainment companies including a $150 million account with the Weinstein Co. and others with video game producer Electronic Arts Inc., Paramount Classics and New Line Cinema Interactive.

Other studios are considering changes as the media landscape shifts. News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox has put its $1 billion media business in review as it looks to consolidate most of its worldwide account at a single global agency. MindShare has handled the majority of Fox's buying for the account that, for the moment, remains up for grabs.

Rethinking Things
Hollywood veteran Mark Lieber has launched his own entertainment-branding outfit, Rethink Entertainment & Media.

The consulting and production firm is designed to handle distribution, marketing, sales, advertising, consumer products, branding, licensing and merchandising, with an eye toward cross-promotion.

Rethink Entertainment has already signed its first media client, New York-based Imagemark Brand Resources, a group that already works with Comcast, Turner Entertainment Networks, Sony Pictures Television and GSN.

Lieber has the entertainment chops for the job: Prior to starting Rethink Entertainment, he was the West Coast managing director of CBS Radio's corporate marketing division.

Prior to CBS, Lieber owned consulting and production firm Lieber Entertainment. He also held executive positions at Film Roman, PolyGram Television and Saban Entertainment, where he was an integral member of its "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" team.

Pursuing Pirates
Kodak Digital Cinema has begun using Thomson's NexGuard digital cinema watermarking technology to track down film pirates. The watermarking is used to trace the date and location a pirated movie was copied, an infraction typically perpetrated in a very low-tech manner: with a video camera smuggled into a theater.

According to the Motion Picture Association of America, global movie theft amounted to $18.2 billion of lost revenue last year.

Digital watermarking, including the method used by Thomson NexGuard, embeds an indelible and invisible 'message' into both the image and the audio track of the motion picture as it passes through the digital server. Audiences can't see or hear the watermark and an exhibitor can't remove it. But the watermark contains information such as the date, time, and location of the projection.

Kodak will include the NexGuard in its future digital cinema servers and may also offer it as an upgrade to the current generation.

Staff reporter Anne Riley-Katz can be reached at ariley@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 325.

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