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The treasure trove of about 4,000 films in MGM's library will have guaranteed distribution under the studio's sale to Sony Corp. and its consortium of partners. Sony partnered with buyout firms Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group and DLJ Merchant Banking Partners in an 11th-hour bid of nearly $5 billion, which snatched MGM away from its other potential suitor, Time Warner. Cable behemoth Comcast Corp. also joined the deal, agreeing to work with Sony to create several premium channels that will distribute both Sony and MGM movies, 8,000 in all, and offer the product through video-on- demand. Sony recently merged its music business with competitor BMG, owned by Germany's Bertelsmann, showing its focus on compiling entertainment content to feed its new technology platforms.

Martha picks: jail now, garden later

Martha Stewart said she hopes to be out of jail in time to plant her spring garden and reclaim her professional standing, after petitioning a judge to start serving her sentence for lying to federal investigators. The domestic doyenne, who stepped down as chairman of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia after her conviction, is expected to continue to appeal her sentence. Ms. Stewart was found guilty of four counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to federal investigators looking into her sale of stock in the biotech company Imclone and sentenced to five months in federal prison, five months of home confinement and fined $30,000. Since her sentencing, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has purchased two health-related magazines to broaden the company's portfolio beyond the home-related and Ms. Stewart- related brands. Adage.com QwikFIND aap96g

`Vitals' spawns women's mag-alog

Fairchild Publications will step up its rivalry with Conde Nast Publications, its Advance Publications sibling, with the launch of a women's spinoff of its Vitals, men's shopping title. Vitals for women will launch with its March 2005 issue on newsstands Feb. 15, and will publish four times a year. It will mirror its male counterpart with a 200,000 rate base and $4.95 newsstand price. Fairchild plans to sell both Vitals titles as a package, aiming at fashion, technology, home, finance and travel advertisers. The new publication is a shot across the bow at Conde Nast's Lucky shopping magazine, which invented the shopping-mag category.

`EW' publisher now `People' person

People magazine may veer back towards more celebrity coverage with the appointment of Paul Caine as publisher, replacing Kathy Kayse. Ms. Kayse has taken a leave of absence "to attend to some personal family matters," according to a memo from Time Inc. Exec VP Nora McAniff and Entertainment Weekly president Andy Sareyan. Mr. Caine will be replaced as EW's publisher by Associate Publisher Tom Morrissy.

`Ad Age,' siblings in B2B awards

Advertising Age and two other Crain Communications publications are among the finalists for the 9th Annual Creative Excellence in Business Advertising (CEBA) Awards, which will be presented in New York Sept. 21. Thirty-seven finalists compete in several categories of business-to-business print and interactive ads and corporate promotions, sponsored by American Business Media. This year's finalists include the trade campaign for The Ad Age Group from WPP Group's Berlin Cameron/Red Cell, New York, and corporate promotions for Automotive News and Crain's New York Business.

FYI...

Standard & Poor's Ratings signaled it may downgrade Interpublic Group of Cos.' credit rating, after it put the advertising holding company on CreditWatch "with negative implications." Adage.com QwikFIND aap96f ... The sixth annual Advertising Age Hispanic Creative Awards show will be held Oct. 1 in New York, in cooperation with the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies. Tickets are available online at ahaa.org.

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