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Disney sees ESPN+ reaching up to 12 million subscribers by 2024

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Disney sees ESPN+ reaching up to 12 million subscribers by 2024

NEW YORK (Reuters) – ESPN+, Walt Disney Co’s sports video streaming service, could attract between 8 million and 12 million paying subscribers by the end of the fiscal 2024 year, the company said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A screen shows the logo and a ticker symbol for The Walt Disney Company on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Disney’s forecast for significant growth in paying customers in the next few years was disclosed in a presentation of its streaming video strategy to Wall Street.

Operating losses for ESPN+ are expected to be $650 million annually in both fiscal 2019 and 2020, Disney’s chief financial officer, Christine McCarthy, said during an investor day webcast presentation. But the service, which launched one year ago, should reach profitability by 2023, she said.

“I view this positively because I think that they need to illustrate the subscriber growth to validate the investment. They’re putting out some very strong number guides to the market,” said Patrice Cucinello, a director at Fitch Ratings. “They’re going guns blazing at direct consumer.”

As cable and traditional media companies lose subscribers to the likes of Netflix Inc, they are building new streaming video businesses that appeal directly to consumers.

Disney launched ESPN+ a year ago as a way to test its streaming services and distribute additional sports content directly to fans, for a monthly or yearly fee.

Since then, ESPN+ has drawn millions of subscribers, inked sports rights deals, and seen its mobile app rise in popularity. Disney is also moving forward with its larger plans for Disney+, which will stream its trove of new and classic blockbuster movies.

As for current paying sports fans, Disney said the number was currently over 2 million, or roughly what it disclosed in February.

Disney’s own estimates about ESPN+ growth seemed slightly higher than analysts, though its time frame was longer.

Morgan Stanley analysts expect 2.7 million people to be paying for ESPN+ access by the end of fiscal 2019 and 3.9 million by the end of fiscal 2020. By 2022, it could have 6.7 million, Morgan Stanley said.

MoffettNathanson gave a more modest outlook, predicting that ESPN+ will end fiscal 2019 flat, with just 2 million subscribers, growing to 4 million by 2022 and 5 million by 2023.

Analysts at Citi predicted that ESPN+ would have 4 million paying subscribers by fiscal 2020.

Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Leslie Adler

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Bea Arthur’s son recalls growing up with ‘The Golden Girls’ star, addresses alleged Betty White feud

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Bea Arthur’s son recalls growing up with 'The Golden Girls’ star, addresses alleged Betty White feud

Bea Arthur left behind a gift that keeps on giving.

When the TV legend passed away on April 25, 2009, the Ali Forney Center in New York City, the nation’s largest non-profit providing shelter and support services to homeless LGBTQ young people, learned that she had bequeathed $300,000 to them in her will.

In 2012, the City of New York turned over a long-abandoned building to the center, which was ultimately transformed into the Bea Arthur Residence, which is described as “an 18-bed long term housing facility for homeless LGBT youth.” The Bea Arthur Fund not only helps support the operational costs of the Bea Arthur Residence, but it also assists the center in obtaining additional sites to provide housing.

R. LEE ERMEY’S DAUGHTER TELLS ALL

Arthur first learned of the center in 2005, when her friend Ray Klausen, who designed most of the Academy Awards sets in the 1980s, told her the organization was in dire financial straits, The Hollywood Reporter revealed. Arthur willingly flew from California to New York, where she held a benefit performance of her one-woman Broadway show. According to the center, back then Arthur said she supported it because it saved lives.

Arthur’s son, Matthew Saks, told Fox News he wasn’t aware of the donation until she passed away.

“My mom was very private and never made any mention of money that she gave annually,” said Saks. “I didn’t know she had planned on giving that money. I learned about it when she died. I remember the Ali Forney Center gave me a posthumous award for her a few years ago at one of their banquets. They asked me, ‘What would she think about all of [the attention]?’ I said, ‘She would not be pleased — her being honored so publicly.’ But I’m sure at the same time she secretly would feel very proud.”

GYPSY ROSE LEE’S SON TELLS ALL

This 1975 file photo shows actress Bea Arthur at an unknown location. (AP Photo/File)

This 1975 file photo shows actress Bea Arthur at an unknown location. (AP Photo/File)

To the world, Arthur was a towering figure with great comedic wit delivered by her signature husky voice. She embodied the strong-willed, fiercely independent Maude Findlay in the groundbreaking sitcom “Maude,” which aired from 1972 until 1978. She then transformed into no-nonsense, sharp-tongued Dorothy Zbornak in “The Golden Girls” from 1985 until 1992.

But to Saks, 57, Arthur wasn’t just mom — she was a woman who found joy on stage.

“Since I can remember, my mother was an actress,” he explained. “I literally went – when I was 3 years old – on the road with her. She was opening ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ so I had to go with her. I spent a lot of time in her dressing room. There was a speaker system and you could listen to the entire play while you’re in that dressing room. So I knew her plays, front to back. Just every part of them.”

But Arthur wasn’t fazed by the fame she achieved in Hollywood. Rather than spotted at glitzy soirees, she preferred the comfort of home with her trusted confidantes.

Rock Hudson was a friend of Bea Arthur's, says the comic legend's son.

Rock Hudson was a friend of Bea Arthur’s, says the comic legend’s son.
(Getty)

MICKEY ROONEY’S DAUGHTER TELLS ALL

“I do remember Rock Hudson being in my mom’s home,” said Saks. “… Rock had dinner there and then he cleared the table. I was trying to clear the table, but I was not good with all the dishes. He just stacked them up to his arm and told me I was a rookie. And that lucky for him, he had been a waiter at one point.”

“My mother had close relationships with a few close friends,” continued Saks. “She wasn’t a loner. But she really liked sitting around and chilling, as people say. I can’t do that. If I just look out the window, I realize I need to do something. She would wake up in the morning, have a coffee and read the LA Times and The New York Times. That was fun for her.”

According to Saks, life at home was normal, one that involved doing chores. But there were perks to being Arthur’s son. Like the time he was cast as a cop on an episode of “The Golden Girls.” But Saks is aware there have been some misconceptions about Arthur’s relationship with her castmates, specifically Betty White, who played naive Rose Nylund from St. Olaf. For years, rumors have persisted Arthur and White had an off-screen feud. But Saks insisted there’s more to the story.

Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund and Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo in Season 1 of "The Golden Girls"

Bea Arthur as Dorothy Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund and Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo in Season 1 of “The Golden Girls”
(NBC / Getty)

“You know, I’m always being asked that question if my mom hated Betty White,” he explained. “It’s not the way it is. I think my mom had some problems with her, but she liked her. I think it was George Bernard Shaw who said it’s fun to hate your neighbors. And I think what he meant was that everyone needs someone to say, ‘Oh, here she goes!’ We all need to have somebody that we can let get under our skin.”

JUDY GARLAND’S DAUGHTER TELLS ALL

Saks added the two women also had completely different styles of acting. “The Golden Girls” co-star Rue McClanahan explained it like this back in 2009:

“Bea came from a New York stage point of view. She always had what we call ‘the fourth wall.’ And Betty came from a television point of view. She would flirt with the audience, and pull up her skirt and say, ‘Hi, sailor.’ But Bea never acknowledged the audience,” McClanahan said.

Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo-Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund, Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo on "The Golden Girls."

Bea Arthur as Dorothy Petrillo-Zbornak, Rue McClanahan as Blanche Devereaux, Betty White as Rose Nylund, Estelle Getty as Sophia Petrillo on “The Golden Girls.”
(NBC via Getty)

Saks also clarified Arthur later wanted out of “The Golden Girls” because she was ready to pursue new projects and ideas.

“I think she got tired of it,” Saks admitted about the hit series. “She just thought it was time to leave the show. She wanted to leave a year before, but the others asked her to stay for a final year and she did. And then, of course, they did ‘The Golden Palace’ without mom on it. She came and did one episode, though. [But] I don’t think she really wanted to do that. But she did. Her logic was also that these shows ran their course. Something suffers, whether it’s the production, the writing. It loses its magic.”

HUMPHREY BOGART’S SON TELLS ALL

But one thing Arthur never got tired of was performing on stage. The New York Times reported before Arthur skyrocketed to fame on television, she worked regularly off-Broadway and sang in nightclubs. It was Norman Lear who persuaded Arthur to appear on a guest spot of “All in the Family” back in 1971 as Findlay, a character created just for her. Her appearance was a hit with viewers and almost immediately CBS ordered up a spinoff titled “Maude.”

Bea Arthur holds her Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series on April 16, 1988. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Bea Arthur holds her Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series on April 16, 1988. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

“What comes to mind is just how beloved she was to so many people,” said Saks. “Even when I was a young kid, people were always coming up to my mom on the street. My whole life I saw the world tell her how much they loved her. It’s definitely a nice feeling. Some of the fans know more about my mom’s career than I do at times!”

Arthur spent her later years embarking on a one-woman show, one of her proudest projects.

“She just wanted to sing a lot of songs,” chuckled Saks.

RICHARD PRYOR’S SON TELLS ALL

Matthew Saks poses with wife Vanessa Saks, daughter Violet Saks and son Brody Saks at Ali Forney Center's 2016 A Place At The Table Dinner at Capitale on Oct. 21, 2016 in New York City.

Matthew Saks poses with wife Vanessa Saks, daughter Violet Saks and son Brody Saks at Ali Forney Center’s 2016 A Place At The Table Dinner at Capitale on Oct. 21, 2016 in New York City.
((Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images))

As for Saks, he originally pursued acting in his 20s, but eventually abandoned it and focused instead on home renovating and landscaping. His biggest client turned out to be his mom, when he updated her 1920s Spanish-style estate in Brentwood, Calif, which sold in 2015 for $15 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

At the time of Arthur’s passing at age 86, family spokesman Dan Watts told The New York Times in an email that the cause was cancer. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Arthur left money to a number of causes, including the center, which received $300,000.

“Life is very nice for me today, [but] I miss my mom if that’s what you mean,” said Saks. “I wish she was here to see my kids. I’m pretty lucky to be me — my mom’s son. I remember really enjoying seeing her on stage. That work is not recorded, but she was just really phenomenal. And she was pretty good at living her life and not being a star at home.”

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Pamela Anderson calls out charity fundraiser for donating to Notre Dame rather than kids in need

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Pamela Anderson calls out charity fundraiser for donating to Notre Dame rather than kids in need

Pamela Anderson is disappointed in one of France’s most decorated football clubs after a fundraiser for children in need ended up donating a significant sum of money to help rebuild the Notre Dame cathedral.

The iconic structure caught fire in Paris on April 15 in a blaze that was eventually ruled an accident. The cathedral’s 19th-century spire and two-thirds of the roof need extensive repairs. Since its partial destruction, nearly $1 billion has been raised to pay for the cost of construction, which Anderson believes is more than enough.

PAMELA ANDERSON CALLS FOR AN END TO REALITY TV SHOWS, CALLS THEM ‘EPIDEMIC OF UGLINESS’

The star attended a gala with her boyfriend, Adil Rami, a defender on the Olympique Marseille team. The soccer club organized a fundraiser for children in need, but Anderson was shocked to see that the largest item up for bid, which reportedly went for 100,000€ (about $111,400), helped fund the reconstruction of Notre Dame.

“Last night we attended @OM_Officiel annual Gala to help raise money for youth suffering in Marseille – full of good intentions. While raising a meaningful amount of € for a great cause,” the former “Baywatch” star wrote on Twitter. “Then 😳 ‘big surprise auction item’ came to raise money for rebuilding Notre Dame???”

She continued: Surely the children suffering in Marseille could have used the 100,000 € more than the church that has already received over a billion in donations by billionaires.”

A source close to Anderson told Fox News that reports the couple stormed out of the venue in disgust are untrue.

PAMELA ANDERSON BLASTS BRITAIN, US AFTER JULIAN ASSANGE ARREST: ‘HOW COULD YOU U.K.?’

“They didn’t storm out. They left after the dinner and auction,” the source said. “Adil was very generous and tried to buy almost everything, but then the biggest item came out for auction and they said this € would go to Notre Dame. OM Foundation is very generous each year, always giving back to the community of Marseille, so that was a shock. Pamela was very disappointed.”

The star concluded by urging the organization to reconsider where the funds will be allocated given that Notre Dame seems to already be in good hands. Experts estimate that the cost of rebuilding will be in the hundreds of millions, which has reportedly been raised.

“I hope they will reconsider and give to where it is needed. To the community here in Marseille where it was intended. And would go much further in making lives better,” she wrote.

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Representatives for the organization did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

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Rami Malek to play Bond villain in franchise’s 25th film next year

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Rami Malek to play Bond villain in franchise's 25th film next year

(Reuters) – Oscar winner Rami Malek will play the international villain who Daniel Craig’s James Bond must battle in the British spy franchise’s 25th film set for release next year, the producers announced on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Daniel Craig poses for photographers as he attends the world premiere of the new James Bond 007 film “Spectre” at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Malek, 37, who drew critical acclaim for his portrayal of Queen front man Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody” last year, will play Bond’s nemesis in the upcoming film, which goes by the working title “Bond 25,” producers said.

“I promise you all I will be making sure that Mr. Bond does not have an easy ride of it in this his 25th outing,” Malek said in a recorded announcement from New York that was aired as part of a webcast about the new movie.

The still untitled movie will be Craig’s fifth go-around as Britain’s most famous fictional secret agent, and will feature on-location scenes in Jamaica, the producers said in the webcast from the Caribbean island.

Actors who will reprise their roles alongside Craig in the 2015-released “Spectre” include Ralph Fiennes as M, Léa Seydoux as Madeleine, Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q and Rory Kinnear as Tanner, the producers said.

Other actors joining the “Bond 25” cast are Jeffrey Wright Billy Magnussen, Dali Benssalah, Ana De Armas, David Dencik and LaShana Lynch, they said.

Producers had already announced that the movie, set for release next April, will be directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, the man behind the first season of the U.S. drama “True Detective” and the Netflix comedy “Maniac.”

Among the trademarks of Bond movies are their exotic locations, beginning with Jamaica when the franchise was launched with “Dr. No” in 1962 and featuring the spy’s introduction to a bikini-clad Ursula Andress on an empty beach.

Jamaica, where Bond was created by novelist Ian Fleming, will again be among the locales for the upcoming film, along with Italy, Norway and London, the producers said.

“We consider Jamaica Bond’s spiritual home,” said Barbara Broccoli, one of the film’s producers.

The Bond franchise, based on the novels about the British secret agent who outsmarts international villains, overcomes certain death and charms glamorous women, first hit screens during the Cold War with Sean Connery as Bond.

Connery’s second appearance as Bond was in 1963 in “From Russia With Love.” He would go on to do five additional Bond movies.

Bond has also been played by George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.

Reporting by Peter Szekely; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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