Content tagged “Media”

Lamar gets IRS approval for REIT conversion

Lamar Advertising Co. has received approval from the Internal Revenue Service to convert to a Real Estate Investment Trust, the Baton Rouge-based company announced today via a press release. The conversion, which shareholders still need to approve, is expected to be made effective as of Jan. 1 of this year. REIT status allows a company to avoid paying corporate-level income taxes if it distributes at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. As a REIT, Lamar says it will be allowed to treat its outdoor advertising displays as real property for tax purposes, noting some of its assets and operations will continue to be subject to state and federal corporate income taxes. "Furthermore, assets and operations outside the United States will continue to be subject to foreign taxes in the...

'Business Report': Battle between 'Advocate' and 'Times-Pic' over legal notices goes to Capitol

In a legislative session dominated by debates over the hot-button issue of Common Core, a series of bills that would change state law to allow The New Orleans Advocate to compete for government classified ads in Orleans and Jefferson parishes hasn't made big headlines. But then, as Editor Stephanie Riegel notes in a new Business Report magazine feature, newspapers often shy away from calling attention to themselves. "Still, the proposed legislation—which would remove the requirement that a newspaper publish in a parish for five years before it can bid on public and legal notices in Orleans and Jefferson—is worth following as it makes its way through the legislative process," writes Riegel. For one thing, it's the latest skirmish in the ongoing media war between the state's two largest newspapers. They've been locked in competition since the fall of 2012, when The Advocate entered the New Orleans market and began aggressively going after subscribers...

In conversation: Sam Irwin

Our tail-pinching, head-sucking love of crawfish might be a little odd, but it's not new, as writer Sam Irwin explains in his latest work. Irwin was raised in Breaux Bridge, in the cradle of Louisiana crawfish culture. His grandfather, Joe Amy (pronounced ah-mee), was an industry pioneer, dealing crawfish from Amy's Fisheries in Henderson as early as 1932. Louisiana Crawfish is available online from The History Press, and at better bookstores and bait shops.

A legals war

In a legislative session dominated by debates over the hot-button issue of Common Core, a series of bills that would change state law to allow The New Orleans Advocate to compete for government classified ads in Orleans and Jefferson parishes hasn't made big news. But then, newspapers often shy away from calling attention to themselves.

HBO taps BR firm for 'Game of Thrones' licensing deal

Baton Rouge-based specialty masks and prop maker Composite Effects, or CFX, has landed a licensing deal with HBO to mass-produce products for the popular show Game of Thrones. As 225 reports, the company's "White Walker" costume masks, based on mythological characters from the show, are set for a spring 2014 release. "This is a huge deal," says CFX sculptor and media relations director Diana Branton. "HBO is very specific and careful about how they license things. They have high standards. They would rather not offer a product than offer something that's merely OK. They've set the bar in product licensing." Branton says work on the White Walker silicone mask and costume pieces began during season 3 of the popular HBO series. Read the full story. —Matthew Sigur

Spreading the message

As the longtime publisher of Tiger Bucks—a coupon booklet targeted to LSU students that offers discounts and deals at local restaurants, shops and service providers—Carol Thomas has a unique perspective on small businesses. Not only does she operate a small business herself, so do most of the clients who advertise in her publication.

Religious-themed movie shot and produced in B.R. stuns industry with fast opening

Film industry experts were more than a little surprised when they got a look at last weekend's box office numbers and saw the locally produced, faith-based film God's Not Dead finished at No. 5, grossing nearly $9 million. "The box office was shocked," says Patrick Mulhearn, director of Celtic Studios, where the movie's production offices were based. "It's especially impressive, considering the film only cost about $1 million to produce." Perhaps no one was more surprised than its producer, Baton Rouge-native Jared Coates, who thought it would do well but is amazed at how it has exceeded everyone's expectations. The movie tells the story of a Christian student at a secular college who debates his atheist philosophy professor over the existence of God. Coates, who has been involved with the production of more than 30 films but counts this as his first big success, believes the film resonated with moviegoers because "people want a film that can touch your heart, challenge your...

Freshening up the brand

At the start of the new year, CC's Coffee House came into its own.

La. film industry promotes Pelican State at SXSW

When the artsy and techie hipsters of the world attending South by Southwest checked into their Austin hotel rooms earlier this week, many found a "Do Not Disturb" sign already hanging from their doors. The bright blue and white door hangers were courtesy of Louisiana, which created them as a way to plug the state's movie and digital arts industries. "Lights. Camera. Louisiana!" read the signs. "With state of the art facilities, a wealth of talent and competitive incentive programs, Louisiana is the perfect location for your next production. Let's connect while you're here." The marketing gimmick was the brainchild of Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly, who says for several years the state attended the conference—now billed as the biggest music, film and digital interactive gathering in the world—but it took 2013 off. "This year we went back to reconnect and decided at the last minute to do these door hangers," he says. "They created...

Entrepreneur: David Maples and Virginia Huling

David Maples moved with Virginia Huling to Baton Rouge in August 2007 to begin his studies at the LSU law center. He did, in fact, enroll as a full-time student. Yet "the minute we came down here," says Maples, "I looked at Virginia and said, 'Why don't we just go into business for ourselves?'" As Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature on Maples and Huling—who are CEO and president of Catapult Creative Media Inc., respectively—the two met at the University of Georgia, where he'd double-majored in marketing and management, she in fine art and animation. Later, in Atlanta, Huling was a designer for a Fortune 100 company, while Maples prospered at outside sales. The newcomers to the Capital City perceived it was "behind the curve in Web design." So drawing on their savings, they incorporated Drift Web Design on Sept. 11, 2007. Belatedly, Maples approached the vice chancellor for permission to work at the startup while a student: "Here's what we're...

When China cinema calls

Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn had a surprise when he recently checked his LinkedIn account: two messages from headhunters asking him to apply for the top job at the largest movie studio in China.

Behind the camera

Lee Meredith (right) is the new vice president and general manager of WAFB-TV and its sister station, WBXH, replacing Sandy Breland, who moved on to WVUE in New Orleans. He comes to Baton Rouge from WMC, a fellow Raycom Media station in Memphis.

Recommended Reads

Chief marketing officer, Global Data Systems Inc.

What are the biggest email marketing pitfalls to avoid?

No one wants an email they just spent precious time perfecting to end up in a recipient's digital trashcan. Eight in 10 people say the marketing emails they receive go mainly to their primary personal email account, displayed alongside their personal emails, according to a 2012 Blue Kangaroo Survey on Marketing Emails. With the opportunity to reach so many potential customers, what are the biggest email marketing pitfalls to avoid? We asked three local experts for their advice.

David Maples and Virginia Huling

David Maples moved with Virginia Huling to Baton Rouge in August 2007 to begin his studies at the LSU Law Center.

'Advocate' publisher: We can take half of 'Times-Pic' readers

In a wide-ranging interview with LaPolitics released today, John Georges, publisher of The Advocate, ratchets up the rhetoric in the ongoing newspaper war with The Times-Picayune by comparing his competitor to "new Coke" and predicting his newspaper can take half of its readers. Georges—who also says in the interview that he has not ruled out another run for governor in 2015—says that The Advocate's circulation numbers in New Orleans are "just about where I want them to be, maybe a couple months behind." Georges says there are between 25,000 and 30,000 paid subscribers in New Orleans now, adding "we were less than half of that when we started," and "we're on record to double those numbers." As for the changes The Times-Picayune and its website,, have undergone over the past year and a half, Georges says: "The...

'Parish Heat' looking for greater online presence as print publication ceases

After circulating just six issues, Parish Heat—a biweekly newspaper highlighting local arrest records and mugshots—ceased print publication in December but continues to post news on arrests in East Baton Rouge Parish via its Facebook page, says publisher Tony Modica. The newspaper published its first edition in early September, but Modica says he quickly found that managing distribution of the print publication was not feasible. "We honestly thought that 20,000 copies would be enough to blanket Baton Rouge," Modica says, "but the interest was a whole lot more than we thought. We got so many phone calls asking, 'how come I didn't get one over here?' [Distribution] was almost a harder job than getting the stuff together." While Parish Heat's Facebook page has gained some traction—5,000 followers without active promotion—Modica says the...

Chinese have eye on Celtic Studios director as movie industry grows ever more global

Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn had a surprise when he checked his LinkedIn account earlier this week: messages from two different headhunters asking him to apply for the top job at the largest movie studio in China. It could be seen as a local example of how closely the Chinese are watching the U.S. movie industry—and with good reason. By 2020, China is expected to surpass the U.S. in terms of film consumption, and statistics show that several new cinemas are built in that country every day. What's more, while 80% of U.S. film industry revenues were generated domestically just a decade ago, with 20% coming from overseas markets, that ratio is reversed today—and China is one of the biggest foreign consumers. That helps explain why so many of the movies produced now—including several that were shot in Baton Rouge at Celtic Studios—are reboots or sequels of the action/adventure variety. "When the DVD market dried up, the foreign market became...

Celtic takes over management of B.R. studios from Raleigh

The Celtic Group has terminated its management agreement with Raleigh Studios and is now managing Celtic Media Centre studio operations at the Airline Highway facility through its Celtic Studios subsidiary. The studios at Celtic have since 2007 been managed—at least in name—by Raleigh Studios, an independent studio based in Hollywood, Calif., with satellite facilities around the country. "It was basically like a franchise agreement," says Patrick Mulhearn, whose title is now executive director of Celtic Studios. "Early on it made a lot of sense to have that relationship because it gave a comfort level to filmmakers. They knew what to expect because of the Raleigh brand." But over time, officials with Celtic, which is locally owned, realized they no longer needed Raleigh's name. "We kind of reevaluated during the year and decided it was time we stood on our own two feet," Mulhearn says. As a practical matter, the management change will not mean much in terms of day-to-day...


227 Florida St., Baton Rouge
CEO: Sevetri Wilson
Founded: Jan. 15, 2014

Louisiana Digital Media Center dedicated on LSU campus

More than three years after ground was broken on the $29.3 million, 94,000-square-foot Louisiana Digital Media Center at the LSU campus, officials from the university, state and Electronic Arts Inc. convened today to formally dedicate the facility. The center serves as the permanent home of the EA North American Test Center—which occupies about 30,000 square feet in the building—as well as the LSU Center for Computation and Technology, which will encompass about 50,000 square feet. The LSU CCT's Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research initiative—or AVATAR—is also based in the center, which includes instructional space with audio/visual capabilities to support LSU's academic research efforts related to digital media and software development. In total, about 190 LSU CCT faculty, staff and students will be located in the center, and another roughly 200 students are expected to use the center's facilities and classrooms each week. "Such companies...

The negative online review

Anyone who has ever Googled a product and clicked on "reviews" before buying it knows how important online feedback has become to business.

Local business owner goes DIY with Super Bowl commercial

Shortly before kickoff of Sunday's Super Bowl, local salad dressing manufacturer Richard Hanley decided he would make his own halftime commercial and send it out to friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and email. The 30-second spot only got a few hundred views, but considering that Hanley produced it himself at no charge while fiddling around on his laptop, it wasn't a bad way to pass the time during the lackluster first half of the game. "I thought it would be cool to have my own Super Bowl halftime ad," says Hanley, who has a background in advertising. Though Hanley says he would never spend the $8 million it cost to air a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLVIII even if he had it to spend, his company, Hanley's Foods, hasn't needed to spend much on advertising so far. Since it began manufacturing, bottling and selling an all-natural sensation salad dressing last spring, sales have skyrocketed and the...

Bo Duke actor opens production studio in Holden

Actor and singer John Schneider, perhaps best known for playing Bo Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard television series, has opened a production studio in Holden. John Schneider Studios boasts a 5,000-square-foot soundstage, two homes suitable for filming locations and a large swimming pool, Schneider says in a news release. Plans are to add post production sound and editing capabilities by May, along with an on-site chef and residences for key crew members "which would assist with project flow and consistency allowing staff to live on premises in a focused and convenient working environment with minimal distractions," the release says. Schneider touts the studio's location in the release, saying it not only provides river, lake and swamp filming opportunities, but it is also conveniently situated between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, both of which have become hubs for filming projects in recent years. —Staff report

Lee Meredith tapped to head WAFB

Raycom Media has named Lee Meredith as the new vice president and general manager of WAFB and its sister station, WBXH. Meredith comes to the local CBS affiliate from Raycom's NBC affiliate in Memphis, WMC, where he has been vice president and GM since 2006. "I'm truly honored to be joining the team at WAFB," says Meredith, who previously headed Raycom stations in Huntsville, Ala., and Columbia, S.C. "I'm a longtime Raycom Media employee and being in the company a long time, I'm well aware of the great track record WAFB has established in this community. I'm looking forward to continuing those traditions." Meredith was among the station officials and dignitaries on hand this morning for ribbon-cutting ceremonies marking completion of the downtown station's $1 million studio and office renovation. He joined Raycom President and CEO Paul McTear, Gov. Bobby Jindal and outgoing GM Sandy Breland, who was recently promoted to regional vice president and GM of WVUE-TV in New Orleans, which...

Independent film begins shooting in B.R.

Baton Rouge will be home to an independent film crew and its stars for about a month. Principal photography began Tuesday on Zipper, a movie starring Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring, Insidious) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), and directed by Mora Stephens. The cast also includes Richard Dreyfuss. The feature is scheduled to shoot in Baton Rouge through Feb. 24, according to Baton Rouge Film Commission Executive Director Liza Kelso. Film crews were seen shooting off Highland Road on Tuesday, near the intersection of Nelson Drive. The film revolves around the story of a successful U.S. Attorney who is groomed for a Senate position, but then becomes involved in a dark situation that could destroy everything he has. Zipper is one of three previously announced movies slated to begin production soon in Baton Rouge. Bad Ass 3, starring Danny Trejo (Machete) and Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon series), will be shot in the city between Feb.

Two films shot in La. up for Best Picture Oscar

Of the nine films up for the Best Picture award at the 86th Academy Awards, two were shot in Louisiana, mostly in the New Orleans area. 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club are among the Best Picture nominees announced this morning, and that's not the only award the Louisiana-shot films are competing for. 12 Years a Slave, based on the 1853 novel by Solomon Northup about his experience as a slave in Louisiana, garnered a total of nine nominations, including best picture, best director, best actor and best supporting actor, and others. Dallas Buyers Club, which is based on the true story of a homophobic AIDS patient who built an underground business dealing with non-FDA approved anti-AIDS drugs, is up for seven Oscars total. Other movies up for Best Picture are Gravity, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Her, Nebraska, Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Stelly: La. film industry now competing on global scale

In 2012 more than $1.1 billion in business sales were generated in Louisiana due to entertainment-industry projects, according to an economic impact study commissioned by Louisiana Entertainment, which is part of LED. Speaking to the Alexandria Rotary Club on Tuesday, Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly said film, TV and other productions also supported 15,000 jobs in 2012 and generated more than $770 million in earnings, The Town Talk reports. "The economic benefits of these programs are tremendous," Stelly said. "It's amazing what this industry does for our state." The state of Louisiana offers tax credits in four areas—motion picture, digital interactive media, sound recording and live performance. By far, film and TV makes up the biggest piece of the state's entertainment pie, Stelly said. Reality TV, of course, has been one of Louisiana's most notable recent exports, though Stelly said series such as Duck Dynasty and Swamp People...

Nussbaum leaving WBRZ to join WWL-TV in N.O.

Friday will be Dave Nussbaum's last day on the air at WBRZ-TV. The local meteorologist, who has anchored the weathercasts on Channel 2's morning and noon shows for more than a decade, is moving to WWL-TV in New Orleans. "We will miss him," says WBRZ News Director Chuck Bark, who hired Nussbaum in 2002. "He has been an important part of the team for a number of years, but it is a good opportunity for him." New Orleans is a significantly larger media market than is Baton Rouge. The Crescent City is the 53rd largest market in the U.S., while Baton Rouge is 95th. Bark says WBRZ is looking at several potential replacements for Nussbaum, both on staff and from the outside, and "will make an announcement fairly soon." In a Facebook post today, Nussbaum says he will start work at WWL next week, handling the noon and 5 p.m. weather reports. —Stephanie Riegel

Mary Hurlbert Stein

Asked what she "geeks," Mary Stein replies, "Music and design and enthusiasm!" The nationwide Geek the Library campaign is one of many successful programs Stein has implemented as assistant director of EBR Parish Library. Stein embraces the program's basic theme: that whatever you "geek," or are passionate about, the public library supports. "When I do sound bites," she says, "I say, 'Libraries change lives. Libraries mean business. Libraries provide access. Libraries build communities.' " Nearly 30 years ago, with a master's degree in library science from LSU, Stein joined the staff of EBRPL in a "step 1" position in Circulation and Adult Services. "I had wonderful mentors throughout the staff of EBRPL," she says, "and I was fortunate enough not only to move up in rank but also to learn so much in every assignment." The mother of two sons and longtime choir member at St. Joseph Cathedral, Stein provided steady, visionary leadership during 2011 and 2012, serving as co-director with...

Local law firm now accepting Bitcoin for payment

Local real estate attorney Bryan G. Jeansonne kicked off the new year with a new way of doing business. On Wednesday, Jeansonne's firm, Dore Jeansonne, began accepting the digital currency Bitcoin as a method of payment, along with more traditional modes of payment like credit cards and personal checks. "A lot of people find it easier to use than regular currency," says Jeansonne, explaining why his firm decided to begin accepting Bitcoin. For those unfamiliar with the technology, Bitcoin is a four-year-old electronic currency that in many ways functions like any other currency. It was created by a software developer and is accepted as payment by a growing number of merchants, both online and in the real world. What makes Bitcoin unique is that it is decentralized and no single institution controls the Bitcoin network. Jeansonne says for his clients there are a couple of potential advantages to using the digital currency. "There are a lot fewer fees than payment processing companies...

Season Vining

Occupation: Novelist
Hometown: Baton Rouge
Age: 36

Websites work to nix nasty comments

Mix blatant bigotry with poor spelling. Add a dash of ALL CAPS. Top it off with a violent threat. And there you have it: a recipe for the worst of online comments, scourge of the Internet. The Associated Press reports a growing number of websites are reining in the Wild West of online commentary. Companies including Google and the Huffington Post are trying everything from deploying moderators to forcing people to use their real names in order to restore civil discourse. Some sites, such as Popular Science, are banning comments altogether. Locally, The Advocate changed the way it displays readers comments this year to decrease anonymity and identify readers through their Facebook accounts. These and other efforts put sites in a delicate position. User comments add a lively, fresh feel to videos, stories and music. And, of course, the longer visitors stay to read the posts, and the more they come back, the more a site can charge for advertising. What websites don't want is the...

Jumping markets

WAFB General Manager Sandy Breland is leaving the local CBS affiliate to become vice president and general manager of WVUE-TV in New Orleans. Raycom Media, which owns WAFB, will begin providing operational services this month at WVUE,

One love, one lawsuit

Bob Marley's family apparently has little love for Raising Cane's. Fifty-Six Hope Road, owned by Marley's widow and children, has asked a federal court in Massachusetts to permanently stop the fried chicken finger chain from using the phrase "One Love"—which also happens to be the title of the reggae songwriter's immortal ballad—in its promotions.

2016 hopefuls make bid for evangelicals by embracing 'Duck Dynasty' star

Few could have predicted that the storylines of the hit A&E reality show Duck Dynasty and the 2016 presidential contest would ever converge. But as The Washington Post reports, that unexpected mash-up played out on Thursday as conservative politicians rushed to defend Phil Robertson, the shaggy-bearded, homespun star of the breakout series, who was suspended by the cable network after his published comments about gays stirred a storm of controversy. Gov. Bobby Jindal was among the first politicians to wade into the controversy—going to bat for the Robertson family personally and criticising A&E for its move to take Phil off the show—but he wasn't the only one. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another probable 2016 candidate, chimed in on Facebook, writing: "If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the...

Eight former workers sue 'Times-Picayune' and parent company

Eight former employees of The Times-Picayune have sued the newspaper and parent Advance Publications Inc., alleging their layoffs violated a longstanding "job security pledge" and age discrimination laws. The Associated Press reports the plaintiffs were 46 to 59 years old when they lost jobs ranging from warehouse worker to reporter in June and September 2012. They either were not allowed to apply or applied unsuccessfully for lower-paid replacement jobs, according to lawsuits filed on Wednesday and Friday last week in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP. The plaintiffs are: Keith Catalanotto, 53; Patricia Gonzalez, 59; Aileen Kelly, 50; Vivian Hernandez, 50; Jeanne Woods, 60; Ulpiano Lugo, 50; Stephanie Stroud Naylor, 47; and Patricia Pitt, 49. All the plaintiffs said they relied on a longstanding company pledge not to fire non-union workers because of economic or...

WAFB general manager leaving for WVUE-TV in New Orleans

WAFB General Manager Sandy Breland is leaving her post at the local CBS affiliate to become vice president and general manager of WVUE-TV in New Orleans. The announcement came in a release from Raycom Media, which owns WAFB and, as of this month, will begin providing operational services at WVUE, the Fox affiliate in New Orleans owned by Tom Benson's Louisiana Media Company. "Sandy is the perfect choice to lead and grow this station," says Paul McTear, president and CEO of Raycom Media. "She knows New Orleans and served the people of that community during some of the more challenging times in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." Breland, a native of New Orleans, spent more than 20 years in the New Orleans broadcast market, the majority of that time at WWL-TV. She joined WAFB in the summer of 2008. She will continue her role as Raycom regional vice president, with managerial oversight of the company's Louisiana stations, WAFB, KSLA in Shreveport, and KPLC in Lake Charles. Raycom is...

Council considers giving bus bench contractors access to state rights of way in exchange for tighter restrictions

Although a new franchise agreement with bus bench company National Concrete Industries was OK'd by the Metro Council at Wednesday's meeting, a potentially crucial aspect of the contract was removed just before it was approved. Article 11 of the agreement would have permitted National Concrete Industries to place bus benches on state rights of way, a privilege that two other franchisees with bus bench contracts, Geaux Benches and Giraffe Advertising, do not enjoy under their current agreements. State highways running through Baton Rouge include Florida Boulevard, Airline Highway, and O'Neal Lane. Because National Concrete Industries' new contract is far more restrictive than the other two—capping the number of benches they can put out at 300, prohibiting advertisements related to alcohol, cigarettes and/or gambling, and limiting bench placement to a 30-degree angle from the road...

Marie Desormeaux Centanni

"I'll share two pieces of advice—one that helped me start my business and a second that's helping to guide our growth. The first was from lobbyist Randy Haynie. I visited with him after finishing grad school, and he said if the opportunity presented itself to work on a contract basis rather than as a direct employee, take it. That way, you can focus on projects that will best put your talents to use, control your workload and manage free time for your family. I also stick to something Chris Rader of Rader Solutions in Lafayette told me: Be Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way! In other words, no matter what's going on, give clients your best self. Don't let stress from one client affect your demeanor with another. Always deliver your best work, and if you make a mistake, make it right."


When the Metro Council voted earlier this month to remove from its agenda a Florida company's request for a bus bench franchise, many breathed a sigh of relief.

Businesses should consider spending part of advertising budget on events, panel says

Marketing via events has a web-effect on a business's client base, whereas more common forms of advertising—billboard, print and radio—reach clients in a linear fashion. That was the takeaway from the "Smart Marketing: How to Capitalize on Events to Grow Your Business" panel discussion held in Baton Rouge today as part of the 2013 Smart Growth Summit. While it may be difficult to convince a financially prudent businessperson to sponsor an event instead of purchasing an ad, the panel agreed the ripple effect from such a sponsorship can extend far beyond the reach of an ad. Take MayerIT, for example. After sponsoring a lane at the opening night of the 2012 Bowling Congress Open Championships, MayerIT Director of Design & Marketing Robert Hebert kept track of every relationship he formed throughout the process, as well as at the event. From there, Hebert tracked all subsequent contacts and clients MayerIT made in connection to those original relationships. Within a year,...

How effective is it to advertise your business by hiring someone to wave a sign on the roadside?

We've all seen them. The costumed Statue of Liberty outside the tax preparation service. The leprechaun and her kettle in front of We Buy Gold. The sign-spinning wonders in front of Little Caesar's pizza shops. George Popov, who owns several Liberty Tax franchises in the region, says he combines the approach during the height of tax season with other forms of marketing, including flyers and Web advertising. He pays the promoters just above minimum wage—and a bonus if they stay through the end of the season. It's a long way from a billboard or a social media campaign, but it does attract attention. How effective is this approach to marketing? We asked four of the Capital Region's top branding consultants for their take.

WAFB replacing 9 p.m. evening newscast with 6:30 show

WAFB-TV will roll out a new newscast Monday on its sister station, WBXH, cable channel 16. The Six30—which will air, as its name implies, at 6:30 p.m.—will replace the 9 p.m. newscast that has aired on WBXH for the past several years. News director Robb Hays would not say the 9 p.m. newscast was performing poorly, but he does say station management decided to make the change because having a lead-in with the top-rated 6 p.m. newscast on WAFB will be a natural way to drive viewers to the 6:30 show. "We are hoping to have people do a direct switch from our 6 p.m. show to our 6:30 show," says Hays. "But they will be seeing very different content. It won't be a repeat of the same show." The Six30 will be anchored by Greg Meriwether and Steve Caparotta, who will develop different content for it geared toward a slightly different audience from the 6 p.m. broadcast on WAFB. Caparotta will also be doing new social media-related features, like what is trending now on...

Greg Milneck

"I became a filmmaker because, as kids, there was always a camera in our face."

Bernstein: Media needs to return to reporting 'best obtainable version of truth'

The American system of government isn't working, and the American people are becoming increasingly closed-minded, thanks to a media that reflects partisanship and preconceived prejudices rather than reality. Such is the sobering assessment of renowned journalist Carl Bernstein, who spoke today at the LSU Union as part of the ongoing celebration of the 100th anniversary of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. "Today, the picture of our society, as reflected in the media, is too often illusionary and delusionary," the famed Watergate journalist said. "I learned an approach to reporting that was very simple, and that was simply to pursue the best obtainable version of the truth." That approach to reporting is rare these days, Bernstein said, because we live in an age when not only do most reporters not look for the best obtainable version of the truth—neither do the readers. "That concept has been undermined and overwhelmed by cultural and ideological warfare," Bernstein...

Show me the money

While the responsibilities of anchors and other on-air TV talent have increased, the salaries they make have not.

Lights! Camera! Insurance?

When Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise—known for performing his own movie stunts—lands safely on his feet after making a death-defying leap from an impossible height, it's not just the Oblivion theater audiences who breathe easier. The insurer that indemnified Universal Pictures against liability connected with the film likely shares their relief.

Fee flap

Though Cox Communications subscribers may not have noticed much change to their monthly cable bill, since January they've been paying an extra fee.

'Advocate' launches marketing effort to brand itself as 'official newspaper' of LSU sports

Readers of The Advocate might have noticed a banner headline on the front page this morning billing the paper as "The Official Newspaper of the LSU Tigers." It's part of a new marketing campaign—the daily is also now the official paper of the New Orleans Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans—designed to help promote The Advocate as it tries to expand into the New Orleans and Acadiana markets. "This is a business and marketing venture," Advocate general manager Dan Shea tells Daily Report. "It allows us more signage, more visibility, things like that." Neither Shea nor LSU or the Saints would discuss how much The Advocate is spending on the sponsorships, but Shea explains "it's not different than any other corporate sponsorship." Experts, however, say this latest maneuver in the high-profile newspaper war between The Advocate and Times-Picayune is highly unusual. "I have never heard of anything like that anywhere...

Publisher says 'Advocate' can help connect B.R., N.O., Lafayette

The Advocate's push into New Orleans has been well documented, and late last month, publisher John Georges told a Lafayette crowd that Acadiana would get more attention in 2014. "There's a big movement to connect Lafayette, Baton Rouge and New Orleans," and The Advocate can be a part of that, Georges said today to a packed meeting of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge. Georges says the paper's business strategy of investing in other markets will make the Baton Rouge edition stronger. "My commitment to you is that if you support The Advocate, we will continue to pour those resources into the newspaper," he said. "You'll have to read a little bit more about the rest of the state. I hope you don't mind that. The people in Lafayette are starved for news. They'll take New Orleans news." That last sentence was one of several laugh lines for Georges. Asked whether he had gotten running for office out of his system, Georges replied, "The system's gotten it out of me. I never...

B.R. Film Commission pitching program to local businesses

While the state of Louisiana offers generous subsidies for film production, some parishes, such as Jefferson and Caddo, provide extra sweeteners. East Baton Rouge does not, but Liza Kelso, active director with the Baton Rouge Film Commission, says the agency's By Baton Rouge program is a way to give local productions some additional assistance while hopefully benefiting Capital Region businesses. "Basically, it's our incentive on top of the incentive," she says. "We wanted to do something different that wasn't too stressful on the taxpayers." The commission provides a free smartphone app that filmmakers can use to find locations, crew members and, most important to local businesses, vendors. About 100 or so businesses, including caterers, equipment rentals and graphic designers, among others, have signed up to participate. Many offer discounts through the program, but it's not required. Vendors must be comfortable with the "need-it-yesterday" mentality of the film business. Kelso...

WAFB begins $1 million renovation

Work crews have begun renovating the headquarters of local television station WAFB-TV in a $1 million project that will double the size of the station's newsroom and upgrade the offices of the marketing and creative services department. The building, located at 833 Government St. downtown, was built in 1953 and has long needed an overhaul. The existing newsroom will be reconfigured and workspace will be freed up by the elimination of obsolete radio booths. "It will also significantly expand the work area for the station's fast-growing digital department, which focuses on WAFB's website and mobile news products," says news director Robb Hays. Nearly all of the design and construction is being handled by local firms and is headed up by GD Architecture and Chris Town Construction. WAFB, the local CBS affiliate, dominates the ratings in the Baton Rouge market. It is owned by Raycom Media. —Stephanie Riegel

Newhouse: Advance Media 'absolutely pleased' with 'Times-Pic' evolution

As the newspaper war between The Times-Picayune and The Advocate rages on in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Steven Newhouse—chairman of Advance Media, which publishes The Times-Picayune and—tells Daily Report he is "absolutely pleased" with the success The Times-Picayune has had since reducing its print circulation to three days a week. "We are committed and have no intention of doing anything other than stay the course and continue to work hard to earn the patronage of our readers," Newhouse said in a telephone interview. "I have known [Times-Picayune editor] Jim Amoss for many, many years, and he truly is one of the greatest editors that I have ever met and he continues to be right at the top of his game, and [Advance Media president] Ricky Mathews is really a strong leader and has done a terrific job." Advance Media came under intense criticism last year when it reduced its print circulation in New Orleans and...

Wizarding world

"The scariest sound in New Orleans' French Quarter is silence," begins Elysian Fields, the third installment in Suzanne Johnson's Sentinels series. It's a haunting opening, especially for anyone who has had the rare experience of silence in the Quarter, and it kicks off a particularly dire series of events for Drusilla Jaco, the new wizard sentinel of New Orleans. In previous installments, DJ has dealt with the arcane while recovering post-Katrina and an unexplained pollution of the Mississippi River. Now, she is tasked with policing local preternaturals who are legally entitled to enter New Orleans, including vampires, elves and the historical undead.

'Advocate' to cut full-time staff by 5%

As it continues to battle The Times-Picayune for readers in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, The Advocate is looking to reduce the number of its full-time employees by 5%, according to the newspaper's website. "When businessman John Georges bought the newspaper in May, it had 450 employees—with about 380 being full-time. That would mean a reduction of no more than 19 jobs. Half of the staff reductions will come from the news departments," the paper reports. If not enough employees take an offered buyout plan, there will be involuntary layoffs in some departments. "It is natural for any new owner to take a look at how and why we are doing things," reads a notification posted for employees today, according to the report. "Our goal is to create a company that is technologically nimble, customer driven and a powerful source of news and advertising online and in print. We expect over the months ahead that many jobs here will be impacted. Some employees may prefer not to go...

Moving pictures

This year may meet or exceed 2012 activity for the state's motion picture industry, says Chris Stelly, executive director of the Louisiana Film Commission.

80-year-old ban on hedge fund advertising lifted

The end of an 80-year-old ban on advertising by hedge funds and other private firms won't have much impact in Baton Rouge. That's according to Eiad Asbahi, the chief investments officer and managing partner of Prescience Investment Group. Asbahi says that even though the Securities and Exchange Commission lifted the ban with a 4-1 vote on Wednesday, those fund managers still can only take money from accredited investors. That means people with an annual income of at least $200,000 or a net worth of $1 million, excluding their primary residence. "When you go to a financial capital like New York, you may see funds sponsoring golf events in the Hamptons and things like that, but those are much larger funds," Asbahi says. "They'll be able to do things that they haven't historically been able to do, but I'm not sure there will be a major change in the way that hedge funds advertise." Asbahi says the change won't make much difference locally, even though it will allow companies such has...

Major film to begin production in Baton Rouge in September

Celtic Media Centre has landed a large contract for a major film to begin production in September, though execs are mum on what the movie is. Celtic Executive Vice President and CFO Robert M. Bayham says the studio landed the contract this week for a live-action production that will remain at the studio through next May. The filmmakers, he says, want to announce the film on their own time frame. It could just be coincidental, but Hollywood trade publications are reporting this week that plans for Jurassic Park 4 are once again a go. Universal Studios confirmed in May it was delaying the production and release of the film, which was reportedly to have been partially filmed in Baton Rouge. Bayham says the latest contract, along with others in the works, are helping to boost the studio's revenues after a sluggish 2012 for the industry. "The movie industry is looking up," he says. —April Castro

A second shot at The Devil

The Devil in Her Way is Bill Loehfelm's fourth book and his first set in New Orleans, where the Staten Island native has lived since 1997. His previous books are set in Staten Island, including his third, The Devil She Knows, which introduced readers to Maureen Coughlin, a character who author Laura Lippman says "jumps off the page and demands the reader's full attention."


The survivors who fall in love in Robert Crais' new crime novel, Suspect, have been deeply damaged by gun violence.

Celtic looks to rebook studio space left vacant by 'Jurassic Park 4' delay

Ever since Universal Studios confirmed in May it was delaying the production and release of Jurassic Park 4—which was reportedly to have been partially filmed in Baton Rouge—executives at Celtic Studios have been trying to figure out how to fill the sound stage space they had been keeping open for the major movie project. Now they have fingers crossed they have found one to fill the void. "It's a really big project and would be almost as big as the one we had been planning for," says Patrick Mulhearn, director of studio operations at Celtic, adding he hopes to know something for sure in the next few weeks. Several other projects are also in the works, Mulhearn says, all of which have begun to gel in the two weeks since the legislative session ended. Lawmakers had been considering changes to the state's film industry tax credit program but ended up leaving the incentives basically intact. "Phones started ringing again as soon as the Legislature adjourned," Mulhearn...

B.R. Film Commission launches rebrand

The Baton Rouge Film Commission has launched a new website and unveiled a new logo as part of a rebranding of the group. Liza Kelso, the commission's assistant director, says the new website reflects the lessons learned by the commission since it was formed in 2007 by Mayor Kip Holden to be a liaison between the city-parish and the film industry. "Basically, we've gathered everything that filmmakers have asked of us over the years and have put it all together on the new site," she says. "It's about making that connection between the production and the business community as easy as possible." The new site has information on permitting, production essentials and the state's film tax credits as well as a production guide. It also supplies pertinent information for those who want to find work in the film industry or make movies, says Kelso. Local businesses that are interested in serving the film industry are encouraged to sign up to be included in the site's production directory. You...

Nowhere but Home

The big Challenge in packing for the beach? Choosing the right book. Make sure to bring Liza Palmer's new novel, Nowhere but Home. This homecoming story is tender not treacly, told in smart, funny, unfussy prose. It is sure to enhance any laid-back vacation.

How many characters?

When not busy producing our monthly print publication or weekly online products, many of 225's staff and contributors are engaging in interesting discussions on Twitter. Here's where to find everyone and what to expect.

Louisiana film incentive backers not relaxing yet

A bill that might have scaled back Louisiana's film production incentive program was tabled Wednesday, making it less likely that major changes will be made before the session ends next Thursday. "I don't think that you can get comfortable with anything until sine die," says Will French, president of the Louisiana Film & Entertainment Association, referring to adjournment. "Anything can happen, even at the last minute." Still, industry backers say they're finding traction with their argument that cuts to the film program won't produce immediate savings to fill the current budget hole, so there's no reason to rush through making changes that might harm the industry. Senate Resolution 132 establishes the Entertainment Industry Development Advisory Commission to review incentives for film, music, digital media and live performances before making policy recommendations by Feb. 1, 2015. Patrick Mulhearn, director of studio operations at Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge at the Celtic...

Humorist David Sedaris returns to Baton Rouge

With a knack for knowing how to deliver a great story or essay, David Sedaris has earned quite the rabid fan base. The bestselling author has consistently delivered absurd, clever and moving tales in his collections. His latest book, Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls, is no different, broaching subjects such as his father's dinnertime attire, his first colonoscopy and more. In support of this latest work, Sedaris returns to Baton Rouge tonight, visiting the Citiplace Barnes & Noble (Map it!) to discuss and sign copies of the book. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. For more information, click here.

Guest services 101

Author: Doug Lipp
Year: 2013
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Pages: 222

MBAs and motherhood

What becomes of the women who graduate with MBAs from Harvard Business School? Do most go on to fulfilling careers? Do they drop out of the workforce when they become mothers?

Reality TV casting crews widening search for next La. stars

In recent years, viewers across the nation have seen reality TV shows about Louisiana alligator trappers, exterminators, sheriffs, prisoners, brides, shrimpers, nutria hunters, mixed martial arts fighters, garbage collectors, "bad girls," overnight millionaires, run-of-the-mill rednecks, and pawnshop owners (about whom there are multiple shows). And there's more on the way, including former Gov. Edwin Edwards' show, which begins airing this summer. Which has led The New York Times in a new feature story to wonder if "there actually are any interesting people left in Louisiana." "There's more material to be found in Louisiana; it's just going to be harder to find," David McKillop, executive vice president for programming at A&E, tells the newspaper. To find the next reality TV stars in Louisiana, casting agents are scouring the state, cold calling people with promisingly colorful occupations. Producers are hosting pig roasts to get to know potential subjects, and local contacts...

'225 Weekender': Be a part of the story at the Storybook Ball

Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge is hosting a whimsical gala for the entire family this weekend. The fifth annual Storybook Ball kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Baton Rouge River Center. The event will feature classic stories, such as The Jungle Book, Where the Wild Things Are, Harry Potter and more. Each book will have its own station full of interactive activities. The Young Band Nation Blues Project, Tim the Magician, stilt walkers and more will also be on hand. Proceeds benefit Family Road. Children's tickets are $20; adult tickets are $60. Specials and reserved tables are also available for purchase here. Get the lowdown on more local happenings taking place this weekend in the new 225 Weekender e-newsletter here.

Hollywood and local celebrities team up to promote tax incentives

Celebrities and state politicians walked the red carpet Tuesday night for the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association's Laissez Louisiana Film Rouler event at the Celtic Media Centre. While the affair brought a Hollywood vibe to Baton Rouge, its purpose was simple: to show support for Louisiana's film industry tax incentives. Currently, a bill approved by the House would reduce the tax credits for nonresident workers hired from 30% to 20%, while the credit for resident workers would remain at 35%. The event was dubbed Scott Niemeyer's "baby." Niemeyer is the chief financial officer of Gold Circle Films, the production company behind Pitch Perfect and the upcoming Search Party, both of which were filmed in Baton Rouge. "The Legislature has a big job cut out for them to balance the budget," he says. "We recognize that's not an easy task. We also want to mention the significance of our industry—the 15,000-plus jobs, the billions of dollars of in-state spending.

Be a part of the story

Family Road of Greater Baton Rouge will host a whimsical gala perfect for the entire family. The fifth annual Storybook Ball kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Baton Rouge River Center. The event will feature classic stories such as The Jungle Book, Where the Wild Things Are, Harry Potter and more coming to life. Each book will have its own station full of interactive activities. The Young Band Nation Blues Project, Tim the Magician, stilt walkers and more will also be on hand. Proceeds benefit Family Road. Children's tickets are $20; adult tickets are $60. Specials and reserved tables are also available for purchase online.

With tax break OK'd, New Orleans set to get $28M movie studio

Construction on a $28 million movie production complex in New Orleans is slated to begin this fall, following approval Tuesday of a property tax break for Starlight Studios by the New Orleans Industrial Development Board. The project, to be built on a 32-acre vacant plot of land across from the Michoud Assembly Facility, is projected to include four soundstages with 96,000 square feet of space and a 30,000-square-foot office building. The Times-Picayune reports the industrial development board has agreed to assume title to the property for 10 years, during which time it will lease the land back to the Starlight developers in exchange for an annual PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes. Starlight's first payment to the board in 2014 will be based on the current tax rate and the assessed value of the vacant property, which is approximately $10,000. Subsequent payments will be based on the projected value of the property upon the project's completion, determined to be $444,000. The...

LFEA president: Industry can survive latest proposed cut to film tax credit

Actors, actresses and politicians—including former Gov. Edwin Edwards and his wife, Trina—will be among those attending a private event in Baton Rouge tonight to promote the positive effect the film industry has in the state. And while the event was originally organized by the Louisiana Film and Entertainment Association to rally, at least in part, against a budget proposal that would have seen the film industry's tax credit cut by 15%, the shelving of that plan means there will be more fun and less politics tonight. Nonetheless, LFEA President Will French says the deal reached Monday in the House—which would result in a much smaller cut to the film tax credit—could still reduce Louisiana's competitiveness in relation to other states vying for film business via tax credits. "The question is, what exactly will it mean for us? Are we going to lose a little business, maybe a movie or two a year, or are we going to start to lose dozens of films, or worse?" French...

Brave new world

In the business world, “adapt or die” is a truism. The ubiquity of the Internet is altering—in some cases, radically upending—the models for all sorts of industries. Exhibit A: the current turmoil in print journalism.  

'Bonnie & Clyde' filming to close downtown streets Monday

Filming of the History Channel's Bonnie & Clyde in downtown on Monday will force some road closures in the area and will include "loud simulated gunfire," city officials announced today. Filming is scheduled to take place between noon and midnight along Third Street, between its intersections with Laurel and Convention streets. During filming, police will be stopping traffic intermittently while the cameras are rolling to ensure no modern cars slip into the frame of the period feature. Along with partial street closures, parking will also be restricted on portions of Third, Laurel, Florida and Convention streets. The four-hour mini-series, distributed by Sony Entertainment, is being directed by Bruce Beresford and is based on the true story of legendary bank robber, Clyde Barrow. The cast includes Emile Hirsch, William Hurt, Holly Hunter and Holliday Grainger.

'Jurassic Park 4' shoot in doubt

Filming of Jurassic Park 4 has been delayed, the studio confirmed to trade publications on Wednesday. While Universal Pictures has not said so publicly, it has been widely believed that much of the film would be shot in Baton Rouge. Universal reserved stage space at Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge at the Celtic Media Centre, and had been working toward a June 2014 release. Patrick Mulhearn, director of Studio Operations at Raleigh Studios, tells Daily Report he has not received any official word from Universal, but says their production office and construction mill on the lot have been told to shut down and pack up. "It wouldn't surprise me one bit if they were at least somewhat spooked by what the Louisiana House of Representatives is proposing," Mulhearn says in an email, referring to possible cutbacks to the state's film incentives. "For Baton Rouge and the studio, it is devastating to lose a huge production that was just in its infancy. I think there is still hope that...

Horse People

If success in fiction depends on creating characters who seem not just believable but actual, then Cary Holladay succeeds wildly in Horse People, the latest issue in the Yellow Shoe Fiction series out of LSU Press.

Das a real hero, cher

He's a Coast Guard veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. His city is a cold shadow of its former self. And he is out for blood—perhaps literally.

Cover to cover

The Mapmaker's War
"I've read everything Carolyn Turgeon has written. I received an advance reading copy of her next novel, The Fairest of Them All—due in August—and this one has the same hallmarks of whimsy, sensitivity, and imagination as her other works. She does a masterful job of entwining the stories of Rapunzel and Snow White in a fairy tale retelling that's dark, sensual, and clever."

La. spent $800M on film tax credits over 5 years

A new audit says Louisiana shelled out $800 million over the last five years in tax breaks for the film industry. And the review released today by the Legislative Auditor's Office suggests the state's coffers get little in return for the expense. For example, the audit says the state spent $197 million tax credits for production projects in 2010—and received $27 million in tax revenue. Supporters of the program say the industry has created thousands of new jobs. Critics question whether Louisiana gets enough return on its investment. LED says a recent analysis estimated that every $1 issued in film tax breaks generates $5.71 in economic output. But the state also loses at least 85 cents in tax revenue for every $1 it spends. The process for granting credits could be strengthened if LED had some authority in selecting the certified public accountant used by the production companies to audit its cost reports, the audit states, adding that LED also did not collect all the required...

After more than five decades, Bible and Book Center closing

The Bible and Book Center at 4242 Government St. will close its doors for good on Saturday after 54 years in business. Competition from online retailers and big-box stores, which carry many of the Christian book series that have been a main staple of the shop's merchandise mix, have taken a toll, and the family-owned business can no longer compete, says owner Janet Dearman. "When we bought the business, there weren't any chain bookstores in town," says Dearman, whose parents, Jim and Billie Sykora, bought the store from its original owners in 1980. "Once Sam's and Walmart came into the market, things started to change." Online retailers exacerbated the problem, then Hurricane Gustav in 2008 forced the shop to remain closed for a week. "That was sort of the nail in the coffin," says Dearman. "We never really recovered from that." The Bible and Book Center is the last independently owned, non-denominational Christian bookstore in Baton Rouge, according to Dearman, though there are two...

B.R. representative plans to scale back movie credit bill

State Rep. Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, filed a bill for this session that would have slashed the value of the state's film incentives in half, made the credits non-transferable, and ended the state's buyback program for the credits. While James says he's not going to pull his bill, he plans to make changes to soften the impact it would have on the industry. He says he has learned the importance of credit transferability in funding small productions. He also says he has met with representatives of local people who work in the business behind the scenes. "I didn't want to do anything to hurt those guys," James says. "I still think we spend too much on the program." He says he'll continue to meet with industry representatives to find an appropriate way to tweak the program, and he hopes legislators will find ways to limit the budget damage from the state's myriad other tax breaks and incentives. "I don't think that the will of the Legislature is there to really take an honest look at our...

Tech Park launching new digital media studio today

The Louisiana Technology Park will officially launch a new digital media studio at its Florida Boulevard facility at an event today featuring Mayor Kip Holden and BRAC President/CEO Adam Knapp. The Tech Park says Level Up Lab will be "the first of its kind in the South," providing "qualified, pre-screened companies the chance to create games, mobile apps and other digital content." The lab will include roughly 1,800 square feet of space inside the park. It's being paid for, in part, with funds from the Delta Regional Authority. Along with Holden and Knapp, Tech Park officials will outline details on the lab at an event slated for 11 a.m. at the park. As with current Tech Park clients, companies in the new lab are expected to receive discounted office space, data center access, and consultation services, while also gaining access to industry-specific software and hardware.

Local studio head in tiff with NASA

NASA has been renting out empty space at its Michoud Assembly Center in New Orleans for film productions. Patrick Mulhearn, director of studio operations at Raleigh Studios Baton Rouge, says the arrangement allows for unfair competition with facilities like his. Earlier this month, Mulhearn visited Washington, D.C., to participate in what he describes as a roundtable on government competition with the private sector, hosted by conservative Florida Congressman John Mica. "I think it's kind of a support group of people who feel like they've been wronged by the federal government," he says. "They felt like we could kind of be a poster child for unfair government competition." Congressman Bill Cassidy's office is looking into Mulhearn's concerns, as is NASA's inspector general. Mulhearn cites a policy directive that states: "NASA shall not compete with private sector sources in the provision of goods and services. NASA facilities and services may be made available under this policy only...