Codeblack Entertainment is trying to help artists and record labels battle the ever-worsening decline in music royalties and digital piracy using some old school tools music videos and DVD releases.


Codeblack's idea is for music labels and recording artists, many of whom they say are already looking to kick-start acting careers, to leverage existing music video budgets to shoot a full-length feature film starring the label's recording artists. The full-length feature would be shot concurrently with the production of the artist's music video. The cost beyond what would be spent on the music video would be minimal. According to Codeback's CEO and founder Jeff Clanagan, this is possible because music video budgets are typically inflated.


By extending the duration of the shoot, the company is trying to deliver both the video itself and an entire full-length narrative movie starring the artists. Codeblack estimates their average production cost will range from $500,000 to $1 million; the company will then edit and release the movie on DVD.


Hip-hop trio Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is the first to sign on for the concept. The group released its album "Strength & Loyalty" via Full Surface/Interscope Records in May, and Codeblack will follow with the Sept. 25 release of "I Tried," the group's full-length feature film starring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony members Layzie, Krayzie, and Wish Bone.


The company specializes in "urban" or African American-centered fare; some of Codeblack's best-selling DVDs to date are standup comedy releases featuring comedians Katt Williams, Steve Harvey and actor Jamie Foxx.


On the Move

Celebrity gossip and news web site TMZ.com has staked out new digs, kitty-corner from Sam Nazarian's Privilege nightclub and also near hot nightspot Hyde, making it prime star-watching real estate.


The new facility at 8033 Sunset Blvd. will house TV studio facilities for TMZ's daily half-hour show that is set to launch this fall on Fox. The eponymous infotainment content, part of a deal struck in January with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, will premiere on 35 Fox stations on Sept. 10 and feeds live news to affiliates round-the-clock. The TMZ footage will also be used in local news telecasts.


The site is a joint venture of AOL and Telepictures productions, both owned by Time Warner Inc. An Internet phenomenon for years, the site put itself on the mainstream map when it broke details of actor Mel Gibson's controversial DUI arrest last year, when the actor launched into a well-publicized anti-Semitic tirade.


MySpace and TokyoPop

MySpace and TokyoPop will partner to premiere four exclusive shows online based on TokyoPop hit manga series, "I Luv Halloween," "A Midnight Opera," "Bizenghast" and "Riding Shotgun."


The huge L.A.-based distributor and publisher of manga entertainment fare is taking the new content right to MySpace, hoping the social networking phenomenon will continue to increase the popularity of the themed, Japanese-style comics and print cartoons. The shows are all based on TokyoPop's original manga, a format that has become a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry.


MySpace and Tokyopop are launching a branded profile to host and deliver the shows to MySpace users. TokyoPop maintains each show's profile on MySpace Comics where users can access the company's library of manga series.


Featuring music from underground acts and digital animation from Asian CG powerhouse Menfond Electronic Art, pilot episodes began running last week.


Bending the Ratings

It may have had more to do with pop culture and eye candy, but David Beckham's debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy was the most-viewed Major League Soccer telecast in the history of the Walt Disney Co.'s cable channels ESPN and ESPN2.


According to Nielsen data, 1.5 million viewers tuned in to watch Beckham sit on the bench for most of the game between the Galaxy and England's Chelsea FC. He had an injured ankle and saw just a bit more than 15 minutes of playing time. The Galaxy lost, 1-0.


It was MLS's best performance in more than a decade. Until the July 21 Galaxy match, the most-viewers to tune in for a game were the 1.1 million who saw the DC United match up against the San Jose Clash on April 6, 1996, also on ESPN.


ESPN2 is slated to carry five more Galaxy games this season, on Aug. 9 and 23 and Sept. 13 and 27 and Oct. 18.


Scribe Tribe

The 2007 Screenwriting Expo will be held October 25-28 at the LAX Marriott and Renaissance Montura Hotels.


The four-day expo is the sixth in an annual series presented by Creative Screenwriting Magazine and is the largest TV and movie screenwriting event, with annual attendance of nearly 4,000 writers, producers, agents, script analysts and consultants.


Screenwriters can shell out $300 for an all-inclusive pass which includes all the parties with elbow-rubbing potential or $75 for a basic pass that doesn't include seminars or cocktail hour access.


The lineup of film and television writers and producers includes screenwriters Michael Goldenberg ("Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"), Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio ("Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Shrek"), Bill Lawrence ("Scrubs" and "Spin City"); and Oscar winner Steven Zaillian ("Schindler's List," "Gangs of New York").


Staff reporter Anne Riley-Katz can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 225, or at ariley-katz@labusinessjournal.com.

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