NEW YORK (AP) — Comcast is buying DreamWorks Animation, the film company behind the “Shrek,” ”Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda” franchises, for approximately $3.55 billion, strengthening its presence in the important and growing business of children’s entertainment.
DreamWorks stockholders will receive $41 for each share they own. That’s a 24 percent premium to the company’s Wednesday closing price of $32.20. The companies put the deal’s value at about $3.8 billion.
DreamWorks will become part of the Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, which includes Universal Pictures. The studio has churned out hit animated movies through its Illumination label, including the “Minions” sequel and it has some Dr. Seuss projects in the works such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”
The nation’s largest cable company said the deal gives NBCUniversal, a unit of Comcast Corp., a “broader reach to a host of new audiences in the highly competitive kids and family entertainment space, in both TV and film.” In addition to the cartoon franchises, DreamWorks also owns what Comcast called a “thriving TV operation” with its AwesomenessTV network of online video creators and a lengthy contract to create shows for Netflix.
The deal solves what Cowen and Co. analyst Doug Creutz “would have been a very difficult succession plan had DWA remained independent, as to a certain extent we think the company had been held together purely through (CEO Jeffrey) Katzenberg’s force of will.”
The analyst said that while he is “skeptical about the strategic logic” for Comcast in inking the deal, it is an excellent one for DreamWorks.
“Despite some positive recent developments with TV production and the Awesomeness asset, DWA remains a company that has not generated significant earnings since 2010,” Creutz wrote. “We think DWA is worth far less than either Marvel or Lucasfilm, for which Disney paid comparable prices when they acquired those companies.”
Once the deal closes, DreamWorks co-founder and Katzenberg will become chairman of DreamWorks New Media. He’ll also serve as a consultant to NBCUniversal. Creutz called it a “happy exit.” Katzenberg owned nearly 10 million shares — meaning he’ll receive over $400 million — and controlled 60 percent of the voting shares in the company, which spun off from DreamWorks Pictures as a publicly traded company in 2004. DreamWorks Pictures, backed by Steven Spielberg, produces live action movies like “Bridge of Spies” and is not part of the deal.
Earlier this year, DreamWorks expanded a licensing deal with Netflix Inc. to have the online video service feature more of its series and movies. The expanded licensing agreement announced in January allows Netflix to showcase several new DreamWorks series, including “Trollhunters,” a fantasy created by acclaimed movie director Guillermo del Toro. The deal gives Netflix more video likely to appeal to children, an audience segment that has played an important role in its growing its service to 81.5 million subscribers in the first quarter.
The boards of both Comcast and DreamWorks have approved the transaction, which is targeted to close by year’s end.
Shares of DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc. leapt $7.76, or 24 percent, to $39.97 while Comcast added 9 cents to $61.39 in afternoon trading.
With DreamWorks Animation, Comcast adds several movie franchises — among them, “Shrek,” ”Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda” — to its growing entertainment empire.
Though the bulk of its business remains in cable TV services, Comcast also has television channels and theme parks, mostly through its purchase of NBCUniversal from General Electric.
Here’s a look at Comcast’s various businesses:
— CABLE SERVICES: Comcast got its start providing cable TV services and grew to be the nation’s largest cable provider, though it trails AT&T in overall TV subscribers following the phone company’s purchase of satellite provider DirecTV last year. Comcast’s cable services, which include high-speed Internet and phone services, generate about two-thirds of the company’s revenue and income. It has more than 22 million TV customers.
— TELEVISION: Comcast owns the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks and operates 27 local TV stations. The company also owns such cable channels as CNBC, MSNBC, USA, Syfy, E! and Bravo. Sports networks include NBC Sports Network, Golf Channel and a few regional networks that cover hometown teams.
— MOVIES: Even without DreamWorks Animation, Comcast already has a large TV and movie production business. It owns the Universal Pictures, Illumination and Focus Features studio brands. Major Universal franchises include “Jurassic Park,” ”Despicable Me,” ”Fast & Furious” and the Jason Bourne films.
— THEME PARKS: Comcast owns Universal theme parks in Florida and California and the Wet ‘n Wild water park in Orlando, Florida. It has a majority stake in Universal Studios Japan and plans to open a theme park in Beijing. The theme parks include rides devoted to Harry Potter under license from rival studio Warner Bros.
— ONLINE: Comcast has a hodgepodge of Internet businesses . Comcast bought the movie ticketing business Fandango in 2007 and bought the M-Go online movie service this year — from a joint venture that included DreamWorks Animation. M-Go is now FandangoNow. Through Fandango, Comcast is getting movie rating services Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes from Warner Bros. Meanwhile, the DreamWorks deal gives Comcast a controlling interest in AwesomenessTV, an online video service that targets younger viewers.
— SPORTS: Through Comcast Spectacor, the Philadelphia-based company owns the Flyers hockey team and the Wells Fargo Center arena in Philadelphia.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The chancellor of the University of California, Davis says politics are driving a state decision to put her on paid leave amid an uproar over her service on corporate boards and the school’s hiring of image consultants after campus police used pepper spray against protesters.
Melinda Guzman, an attorney for Chancellor Linda Katehi, called the action by UC President Janet Napolitano unjustified.
“This smacks of scapegoating and a rush to judgment driven purely by political optics, not the best interests of the university or the UC system as a whole,” Guzman said in a statement late Wednesday.
Napolitano, the head of the statewide University of California system, announced earlier Wednesday that she plans to appoint an independent investigator to examine the “serious and troubling” questions raised involving Katehi and to determine if they violated university policies.
In the meantime, Napolitano has removed Katehi from the post she has held for nearly seven years until the inquiry is completed. Campus provost Ralph Hexter will fill the post on an acting basis.
“I am deeply disappointed to take this action,” Napolitano said in her statement. “But Davis is a strong campus, nationally and internationally renowned in many academic disciplines. I’m confident of the campus’s continued ability to thrive and serve California students and the Davis community.”
Katehi welcomed the independent investigation, the statement from her lawyer said.
The probe will examine whether Katehi has been truthful about her role in the hiring of consultants to improve the school’s online image, and evaluate if there were irregularities surrounding the hiring and compensation of three of her close relatives, Napolitano said in a letter to Katehi released by the president’s office.
Katehi’s husband is a chemical engineering professor at Davis, while her daughter-in-law works as chief of staff for the vice-chancellor for student affairs. Her son is a graduate student in epidemiology.
Napolitano said she is concerned about a raise of over $50,000 and a series of promotions the daughter-in-law received over 2 ½ years while reporting to an administrator who in turn reported to the chancellor.
Katehi recommended that the vice-chancellor’s pay go up by 20 percent during the same period, according to the letter.
Napolitano also expressed concern that the academic program where Katehi’s son has a paid research position was put under his wife’s supervision and that student fees may have been used inappropriately to finance the move.
“You have verbally assured me that all matters relating to the employment of your husband, son and daughter-in-law have been consistent with policies and procedures, but documents and other information appear contrary to that assurance,” Napolitano wrote to Katehi.
Napolitano’s announcement ended two days of tense speculation on campus over Katehi’s status.
A petition to Napolitano circulated among faculty members and signed by more than 300 professors earlier Wednesday stated they believed Napolitano had asked Katehi to resign and voiced objection to “this peremptory action carried out without any consultation.”
Katehi added to the intrigue with a midday email to her deans and vice-chancellors in which she said she was “100 percent committed” to staying on as chancellor.
Katehi, 62, an electrical engineer who has advocated for women in the sciences, came under fire early in her tenure at Davis when campus police officers used pepper spray on seated demonstrators during a November 2011 protest by the Occupy movement.
The action received widespread attention because of widely circulated videos and photos of the cringing demonstrators getting sprayed.
The Davis Faculty Association called for Katehi’s resignation for ordering police to dismantle the protesters’ tent city. An independent investigation later criticized her for demonstrating ineffective leadership leading to and during the incident that sparked a series of campus reforms.
Katehi weathered the crisis, but calls for her resignation increased after The Sacramento Bee reported in March that she had accepted a seat on the board of a for-profit college company the federal government is suing and previously earned hundreds of thousands of dollars as a director for a textbook publisher.
Student protesters upset by what they perceived as a conflict of interest spent five weeks camped outside her office, staying there even after Katehi said she would donate some of the proceeds from her service on the board of textbook company John Wiley & Sons to a scholarship fund.
Pressure from state lawmakers and others for her to quit continued to mount when The Bee reported the campus had spent at least $175,000 on Internet search optimization consultants who promised to diminish online references to the pepper-spray incident.
In a statement last week, Katehi apologized for “a series of highly publicized missteps” that she acknowledged had overshadowed the university’s accomplishments and “been a setback to our reputation and hard-earned prestige.”
She disputed, however, the idea that her administration had tried to bury the pepper-spray incident by working with the search optimization firms and investing more than $2.6 million on advertising and campus outreach.
“Because of the importance of philanthropy to UC Davis and the need to make sure those searching for information about the university get a complete picture, we needed to do a better job telling the world about the university’s extraordinary achievements,” she said. “So we did what any organization in a similar situation would do ? we sought to strengthen our communications capabilities.”
UC Davis enrolls about 27,000 undergraduates and 4,600 graduate students at a campus 18 miles from Sacramento.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An oral surgeon made a Rhode Island tourism ad and paid for it to air on television following the botched rollout of the state’s own tourism campaign that featured an image of Iceland.
A tourism video that Rhode Island released in March was quickly pulled after being mocked for showing footage of a Reykjavik concert hall.
Cranston surgeon Stephen Skoly said he saw the state’s mistake and thought, “We could do a lot better.”
Skoly, who owns a production company, created his own 30-second video featuring local footage with the tagline, “Sea Rhode Island.” He said it cost about $575 to make and $3,000 to air locally on CNN and elsewhere.
“We did it for a small amount of money and I think it’s better than what they spent an awful lot of money on,” he said. “That was my little, subtle protest of how they’re reckless with our capital, to the point that it does frustrate the taxpayers.”
The state also dropped its poorly received marketing slogan, “Cooler & Warmer.” The state chief marketing officer resigned.
Skoly said he wants more transparency and oversight.
When asked about Skoly’s ad, Kayla Rosen, a spokesman for the state’s economic development agency, said the next phase about the tourism campaign is “all about public engagement” and “we’re excited to see everyone contribute.”
Among the agency’s new initiatives, it’s opening a temporary studio in downtown Providence and creating a website where Rhode Islanders can share photos, videos and stories about their experiences in the state.
Skoly said that no one from the state has approached him about his ad, or vice versa.
He said he’s not sure what he’s going to do with it now, it depends on the feedback he gets.
On the web: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLOUIxL5Vwk
NEW YORK (AP) — A preteen prodigy and a master celebrating his 75th birthday will be among the headliners at the world’s largest jazz festival.
Pianist Chick Corea will be marking his milestone birthday at the Montreal International Jazz Festival in a trio with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade, with whom he released the Grammy-winning album “Trilogy.”
Joey Alexander, the 12-year-old piano sensation from Indonesia, has moved up from opening act last year to headliner at this year’s festival, which will run June 29 to July 9.
The festival, which announced its indoor lineup Tuesday, also will feature Melody Gardot, Gregory Porter, Wynton Marsalis’ Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Lauryn Hill, returning after a 14-year absence.
Brian Wilson will be recreating songs of the Beach Boys’ album “Pet Sounds” to mark its 50th anniversary. Rufus Wainwright will present a concert version of his opera “Prima Donna” with a video.
ATLANTA (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s claim that Hillary Clinton is playing “the woman’s card” has drawn intense backlash, from the Democratic front-runner herself as well as tens of thousands of critics on social media.
“If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ‘woman card,’ then deal me in,” Clinton said in Philadelphia as she celebrated wins in four out of five of Tuesday’s Democratic primaries.
Trump had leveled the “woman’s card” accusation Tuesday after his own five-state primary sweep.
“She’s playing that card like I’ve never seen anyone play it before,” Trump said on NBC’s “Today” Thursday. “All I’m doing is bringing out the obvious, that without the woman’s card, Hillary would not even be a viable person to even run for a city council position.”
Trump’s remarks prompted social media hashtags like #dealmein and #womancard, the latter ranking among the top 10 global trending topics on Twitter Wednesday, with more than 45,000 tweets by late afternoon.
Voters also circulated video of Mary Pat Christie, the wife of Trump backer and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who stood behind Trump during his victory speech Tuesday and looked as though she was rolling her eyes as he made those comments.
The exchange highlights Trump’s perilous standing among female voters who could help propel Clinton to the White House.
An anti-Trump super PAC, backed by Republican donors, last month launched an ad in which unnamed women read aloud quotes Trump has proffered about females. “Bimbo. Dog. Fat Pig,” the ad begins, with later references to Trump critiquing “flat-chested” women and referring to “a young and beautiful piece of a–” and a woman “dropping to your knees.”
In March, Trump distributed via social media an unflattering image of Heidi Cruz, Trump rival Ted Cruz’s wife, prompting the Texas senator to assert that “strong women scare Donald.”
Cruz, who’s aiming to topple Trump at the Republicans’ July convention in Cleveland, implicitly emphasized the front-runner’s turbulent relationships with women Wednesday as he tapped former candidate Carly Fiorina as his would-be running mate, praising her as someone who has “over and over … shattered glass ceilings.”
Four years ago, 11 out of 13 general election swing states went to the nominee who won among women. Of those 11, President Barack Obama, with 55 percent of the female vote nationally, won nine; Republican Mitt Romney won just two.
If Clinton manages an even wider advantage among women than Obama, Democrats say she may get a boost in states like Pennsylvania and Colorado, casting them out of Trump’s reach while allowing her to compete in GOP-leaning territory like Georgia and North Carolina.
As for Trump’s claim that women “don’t like” Clinton, he’s wrong at the very least about Democratic primary voters. Exit polls conducted for The Associated Press and television networks in 25 states this year show Clinton won 62 percent of female voters over Bernie Sanders’ 36 percent.
In a recent AP-GfK poll of the general population, women weren’t significantly more likely than men to have an unfavorable opinion of either Trump or Clinton. Women, however, were more likely than men to say they definitely would not vote for Trump in a general election, 66 percent to 60 percent. About half of men and women said they would definitely not vote for Clinton.
Among Republicans only, primary exit polls have shown Trump facing a gender gap his last remaining rivals do not have. In the 25 states polled, Trump won 36 percent women and 44 percent of men. Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both demonstrated consistent support across genders.
Associated Press News Survey Specialist Emily Swanson and AP writer Laurie Kellman contributed to this report from Washington.
Follow Bill Barrow on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/BillBarrowAP