With DreamWorks Studios about to be taken back by Steven Spielberg through a deal with Indian conglomerate Reliance ADA Group, rumors are circulating in Hollywood that Paramount Pictures may soon be on the block.

Some believe that Paramount, which has owned DreamWorks since 2006, would have a hard time as a stand-alone studio without DreamWorks pumping out hit titles.

Indeed, Paramount was the first studio to break the $1 billion mark this year with the help of the Steven Spielberg and George Lucas blockbuster "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," and later DreamWorks' "Tropic Thunder."

Paramount executives said that Paramount Pictures is not for sale, with a studio spokeswoman saying that the mere thought of a sale is "preposterous."

And it's not as though the studio didn't have big hits from other sources. Marvel Entertainment's "Iron Man," for example, a film distributed by Paramount, grossed more than $300 million domestically.

Still, some believe that Paramount may have a tough go of it, prompting parent company Viacom Inc. to place it and its extensive library of films up for sale.

And recently, there have been some exits at the executive suite, which has done nothing to quell the sale rumors.

Last month, Michael Vollman, executive vice president of integrated marketing and national publicity at Paramount, left to take a marketing post at MGM/UA.

Gerry Rich, president of worldwide marketing, who was largely responsible for the success of Paramount top grossing films of the summer, resigned last week with nearly two years left on his contract, saying that he "wanted to go out on top."


Tribune Co.'s KTLA-TV (Channel 5) has been going through some big changes, losing nearly a half dozen reporters and several staffers back in June.

But its reinvigorated Web site, which launched last week, registered nearly double its traffic on the day of its launch, generating nearly 50,000 unique page views on Aug. 27.

The increase in traffic is being attributed to a heavy on-air campaign and a good news day, said Jymm Adams, director of marketing and branding sales at KTLA.

Topping the list of page views were the news reports of actress Mackenzie Phillips being busted for drugs at LAX and the story of an abandoned 6-month-old baby girl found on a downtown sidewalk.

Bottle Box Office

Few independent films launched in Los Angeles break the $3,000 per screen benchmark and when they do the question is inevitably: Yes, but will it play east of the San Diego (405) Freeway?

The question still remains an open one for the comedy "Bottleshock," which is in its third week at about 40 movie theaters throughout the L.A area. The comedy has been compared to "Sideways," a box office success for 20th Century Fox's independent arm Fox Searchlight.

While both films are comedies involving the California wine industry, they have different plot lines. "Bottleshock" is a film that takes place during the 1970s when California wines competed for the first time in a prestigious French competition. "Sideways" is a contemporary wine country road trip film starring Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church, which was reportedly made for about $16 million and pulled in more than $72 million at the box office.

Still, "Bottleshock," which was made for less than $10 million, has been pulling in more than $4,800 a screen at about 40 screens throughout Los Angeles, said Joe Davis, one of the film's executive producers. "It's been a regional hit but we've had a heck of a time trying to get it discovered in theaters in New York and Miami," Davis said.

India's Ace

As India's Bollywood ties to Hollywood continue to strengthen, niche entertainment companies are beginning to cut more programming deals the latest being the introduction of televised poker to Asia.

Los Angeles-based World Poker Tour Enterprises Inc. recently signed a deal with ZEE Entertainment Enterprises Limited, one of India's largest sports television networks, to broadcast a poker series on Zee Sports channel beginning this month.

Zee Sports is the flagship sports channel of Zee Network, the largest media franchise serving the South Asian Diaspora and one of the largest producers of Hindi programming in the world.

Under the terms of the agreement, Zee Sports will broadcast 19 two-hour WPT Season IV episodes throughout India. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Zee Sports is expected to promote the WPT series on-air and online through Web site ZeeSports.co.in. It will broadcast the episodes alongside current sports programming including football, cricket and golf.

Staff reporter Brett Sporich can be reached at bsporich@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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