Madison Meets Vine Meets Silicon Valley

Google's Eric Schmidt, NBC's Ben Silverman, Grand Theft Auto's Strauss Zelnick Among Speakers for M+V '08

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LOS ANGELES ( -- Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, heads the list of heavy hitters speaking at this year's Madison & Vine conference.

The conference, now in its sixth year, will take an insider's look at the convergence of entertainment, technology and branding. Ad Age and the William Morris Agency, which co-programmed the event, have done away with slick Svengalis muttering about yesteryear's product-placement deals and focused on insightful interviews, thought-provoking panels and short, sharp case studies that aim to tackle the future of the entertainment business.

TV in tumult
Take the TV networks, which are in total tumult: Labor disruption, skyrocketing costs and audience erosion have all conspired to catapult TV into an uncharted year-round programming and promotional cavalcade on the dial and online. Should you join them there, or should you buy your own night of programming? Among the panelists answering that question are Ben Silverman, head of NBC, and Darren Star, creator of "Sex and the City."

The conference will also take a look at the media owners of the future, including sports leagues such as the National Football League and Major League Baseball, which are becoming powerful media companies in their own right by launching channels that compete with traditional outlets. Where does that leave everyone else? Where does it leave your brand? At this year's M&V, these issues are addressed by Brian France, Nascar CEO; Gary Bettman, National Hockey League commissioner; and Tony Ponturo, Anheuser-Busch's VP-global media and sports marketing.

Video games, meanwhile, are becoming a network of their own, but consumers rightly ask, "Why am I still paying $65 for a game?" and advertisers want to know where they fit into this highly interactive medium that saps so much of their audiences' time. "Grand Theft Auto IV" publisher Strauss Zelnick is among those who'll offer thoughts on the future of gaming.

And then there's the "record business," with its ongoing attempts to become to the "music business." Will the labels be left without a chair? Does a No. 1 album mean anything anymore? Will the record companies' new plan to save themselves include your product or service? MySpace COO Amit Kapur and William Morris Agency's Marc Geiger, senior-VP, head of contemporary music, will head a discussion of the future of music.

The Madison + Vine Conference 2008 takes place Wed., July 16, at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Click here for more details and to register to attend.
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