Posted on: 09/22/2016

Matt Belloni of Hollywood Reporter: Building the Entertainment Industry's Premier News Organization

Matt Belloni

Executive Editor - Hollywood Reporter


Podcast Summary

Matthew Belloni is the Executive Editor of The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard. In this episode, Matt talks about the evolution of his own career from entertainment lawyer to journalist and editor. The Hollywood Reporter dominates Entertainment Industry coverage online and offline. However, 5 years ago the Company was an industry trade magazine with competitors. Belloni explains how the print version evolved into a weekly and how the web version has become a traffic monster.

Podcast Transcript

Scott Orn:

Welcome to Founders and Friends Podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. This week’s guest is Matt Belloni, Executive Editor of Hollywood Reporter. Matt’s a big-hitter in the entertainment industry and Hollywood Reporter really is the dominant news source both online and offline in the entertainment industry. So Matt shared a lot of tips from us about how he changed his own career. Went from entertainment law all the way to Hollywood Reporter. And he also talked about the evolution of Hollywood Reporter and how it’s become such a huge site online and how the print edition is just so well-respected by everyone in the industry. Hope you enjoy the podcast. Alright. This is Scott Orn at Founders and Friends Podcast with Matt Belloni, Editor of Hollywood Reporter. Welcome Matt.

Matt Belloni:

Hi! How are you?

Scott Orn:

Thanks for doing the podcast.

Matt Belloni:

No problem. It’s been a lifelong dream.

Scott Orn:

So we have been friends for almost like 20 years.

Matt Belloni:

I knew back in 1995 that someday I would be on your podcast and be able to tell all the stories that you could never tell about yourself.

Scott Orn:

There is a lot of dirt that could be had both ways here. So Matt is I don’t know what your exact title is. But you’re like …

Matt Belloni:

Executive Editor.

Scott Orn:

So Matt’s like one of the big shots at Hollywood Reporter which is the dominant online and print publication for the entertainment industry. So this is a real treat here. Every time I go to dinner with Matt, I get to ask him a ton of questions about what’s going on. So we figured we’d have him on the podcast.

Matt Belloni:

Usually who’s dating who.

Scott Orn:

Absolutely. That’s number the one question.

Matt Belloni:

And I’m definitely not an expert in that field but I try.

Scott Orn:

We did that last night a little bit. So just to start off, I think people … you did something earlier in your career which I found just super amazing like … and inspirational. You were at a big Hollywood entertainment law firm and you basically flipped and went over back to the journalist side. How did you do that? And like why did you do that?

Matt Belloni:

Okay. It goes back to my original plan out of college even. As you know, when I was in college, I did a lot of journalism. I did the Berkeley student paper Daily Californian and I was a columnist and I did some stringing for New York Times, Time Magazine, a couple of others. And I was actually debating when I graduated whether I wanted to be a journalist or go to law school. And I took a year or two off, lived in San Francisco …

Scott Orn:

Spent some time skiing.

Matt Belloni:

Yeah exactly. And I ultimately decided that if didn’t go to law school out of college, I probably would never go and I could always transition back into journalism if I wanted to. It was the classic the-law-degree-couldn’t-hurt argument. And I had always been interested in entertainment. I grew up in Southern California. I was a pretty voracious reader of the entertainment media when I was growing up. So I knew that I wanted to ultimately be in Southern California. Went to law school at USC and got a job out of school at a pretty well-known entertainment litigation firm. So we were representing mostly talent, stars, directors, mostly individuals and smaller production companies.

Scott Orn:

Big time people though. I remember a couple … you had to postpone a couple of Vegas flights because the inquirer would run something on a Friday.

Matt Belloni:

Yeah we would represent some stars. I remember I once got a restraining order for Jennifer Love Hewitt. That was the highlight. And we worked in some pretty big complex cases. We brought some lawsuits against Fox. One for David Duchovny over the X-Files. He wasn’t getting paid. There’s some pretty complex business issues going on in those cases.

Scott Orn:

Does it like the studios try to hide money from the stars, right?

Matt Belloni:

They don’t say that. They say that their accounting practices are 100% kosher and that everyone’s just greedy. But there is a pretty extensively documented history in the business of what they call Hollywood accounting and that is what you’re trying as a litigator for talent to expose. You do an audit. You look at the books. You say okay, my profit definition which some of these profit definitions are 30, 40 pages long and my profit definition entitles me to 20% of first dollar gross once we break even and this spreadsheet shows that this movie grossed $600 million-worth worldwide and yet the ultimate profit from the film is listed at negative $200 million. So how did that happen?

Scott Orn:

Something’s wrong.

Matt Belloni:

Something’s wrong. So there’s a whole cottage industry of litigation that attempts to crack that code. So I was doing that. Totally enjoyed it. Great firm. Great people. A great place to learn. You know, out of school, I had a big law firm-type experience and a big law firm-type paycheck but I was getting entertainment experience which is very difficult to get at a young age. But the more I thought about it and this is something that I’ve always thought, I didn’t ultimately want to be my boss. I didn’t want to be a partner at a law firm I decided. It was a great job and it was interesting for me when I was 28 but I didn’t necessarily want to be 48 and be a partner at a law firm. And once you decide that you don’t want to be your boss, my inclination is always to say, okay well then what’s next? And for me, that process was where are my interests? What do I ultimately want to be doing? And I kept gravitating back to journalism. I started writing a little bit on the side. I wrote for Esquire Magazine while I was still at the law firm.

Scott Orn:

You actually wrote one of … we talked about this once. You wrote one of the best pieces. It never ran at Esquire and it breaks my heart. But it was about the crashing real estate market in Vegas. Can you talk about it? Are you even allowed to talk about it?

Matt Belloni:

Yeah. It was an article about the world’s largest strip club basically. But and while that might seem interesting, to me, the article was not about the world’s largest strip club. It was about this mild-mannered family that through a complicated real estate deal had acquired the world’s largest strip club with the hope of turning it into a health club and ultimately flipping the property and this was in about 2007 and 2008 when people thought you could just buy whatever you wanted to buy, flip it and make a huge profit. What ended up happening is, the economy started to turn. The value of the property was not what they thought. There were all sorts of other entanglements and this very nice Jewish family from the valley ended up owning the world’s largest strip club in Vegas and the story was about how that family went about managing this asset.

Scott Orn:

But the amazing thing … [inaudible 00:06:38] the article. The amazing thing was, you also got into how some of the strippers were like sub-prime borrowers.

Matt Belloni:

Oh yeah. Which is hilarious because did you ever see the Big Short? The movie that came out last year?

Scott Orn:

Yeah.

Matt Belloni:

There’s scenes in that movie that totally hit home for me because they’d go to a strip club and start talking to these women and they’re like, what are you talking about? I have five houses and I paid nothing for any of them and I saw that as it was happening.

Scott Orn:

Yeah you wrote about it in like late 2008. It was amazing. It breaks my heart that that never ran.

Matt Belloni:

But the thing is, it was a complicated thing where the economy was crashing as the story was closing on the magazine and they were just like, we can’t run a stripper story when all this is going on in the world.

Scott Orn:

There’s too much serious stuff going on.

Matt Belloni:

Exactly.

Scott Orn:

But if they would’ve looked deeper, they would’ve … it was the perfect microcosm of the crash.

Matt Belloni:

It’s like my favorite story they never ran. But so I was doing that stuff and I was also practicing law and ultimately Hollywood Reporter actually found me because they were looking to beef up their legal coverage at the time. It was right around when TMZ was getting big and they were looking at the online universe and TMZ was doing something that no one else was doing which was essentially using public legal filings and access to law enforcement to write stories. In a way that had not been done before in an urgent and kind of evolving way online in a way that the traditional media was completely not doing it at the time.

Scott Orn:

Yeah.

Matt Belloni:

So they said listen, there is probably a version of this that we could do at Hollywood Reporter that is not writing about people’s parking tickets and falling down outside night clubs but is a little bit more elevated and more of a business way of doing this. And they approached me through a friend who was working here and the more I thought about it, I said, if I’m ever going to make a move, then was the time. I was 29, 30 and I was like, I don’t have a wife, a house so I can do this. I can take a little bit of a pay cut and ultimately, if I’m happy in what I’m doing and motivated, I’m going to be more successful.

Scott Orn:

Yeah and you did.

Matt Belloni:

So I did that. I came over. I started covering the legal world. Did that for about 2 years then got promoted up to managing editor and then …

Scott Orn:

You did something really interesting when you start like maybe like 6 months in which I always found amazing and you started a list and you called it like Hollywood’s Power Lawyers or something like that, right?

Matt Belloni:

Yeah.

Scott Orn:

And the beauty of the list was … this was before BuzzFeed, this was before like listacles. You basically created a scarce list that every Hollywood attorney needed to be on.

Matt Belloni:

Yeah.

Scott Orn:

You weren’t like … it wasn’t like a … I think you just did this out of … it was an interesting thing to write about. It wasn’t like some [inaudible 00:09:29].

Matt Belloni:

I’m definitely not the first person in the media to come up with a list because Powerlist and Influencers, all that stuff, they’ve been around for decades.

Scott Orn:

But just not in like the entertainment lawyer. No one thinks about their lawyers, right?

Matt Belloni:

No one had entered this world of entertainment law because frankly, it’s a pretty secretive and exclusive world. They’re not like traditional lawyers. They don’t go to bar events. They don’t go to court really. Some of them do. But it’s a very unique community and no one had really shined a light on it before. And I remember when we came up with that first list, people when I was talking to them, I’m not participating in this. Who cares about the lawyer? And I was like, well you know, we’re trying to do something new and people actually might care about you. You’re an interesting guy. You have represented $2 billion in deals last year and that’s something that people would be interested in and it took a lot of effort but that first list was really good. It had all the right people on it. It had great participation and it kind of grew from there.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. And it really hit home … this is like 2 or 3 years later after you started it. We were at a movie premier and this older gentleman comes up and it just like hanging on every word you say and had the biggest smile and I was like, what happened there?

Matt Belloni:

This guy is not that interesting or charming. What is going on? Yeah. I mean there is an element of that in media in general.

Scott Orn:

Any business.

Matt Belloni:

Yeah. Exactly. When you have something that other people want, you tend to be the most beautiful girl at the party. And but I try also, I do those kinds of things but if you ask people around Hollywood what my reputation is, my reputation is a little more of a hard ass. Like I end up being the face of our news operation. I now run our news operation. So basically I did just legal for a couple of years then I got promoted to I think I was a managing editor but then we got bought by a private equity group, a Guggenheim-led group and they turned us from a daily trade newspaper into a weekly glossy magazine in print and then re-launched our web operation into a much a more robust 24/7 news operation.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. There’s a couple of things because I think the metamorphosis of Hollywood Reporter as an internet property is super and a business. So you were like publishing those thin little newspapers every day.

Matt Belloni:

Not every day. That was going on for 75 years.

Scott Orn:

Yeah and it’s like now, and then you didn’t really have that great of a website presence like how did you guys … you did two things, you basically rebuilt the internet interface and started publishing there and then you went from kind of daily to weekly. Like maybe talk a little bit about those decisions and like how did you execute on that? That’s like the hardest thing to do.

Matt Belloni:

It was hard.

Scott Orn:

Because Hollywood Reported was not the juggernaut it is today.

Matt Belloni:

No not at all.

Scott Orn:

You were one of five or six.

Matt Belloni:

We weren’t also ran because the leader in the entertainment trade space had always been Daily Variety and that was what we were up against and I knew that when I came here which is why I only thought I would be at Hollywood Reporter a couple of years. Use it as a springboard to go to some bigger property. I’m fortunate that the property evolved and elevated along with me along the way but something happened in the mid-2000’s and the late 2000’s and that was if the entertainment news environment was completely commoditized and what I mean by that is, the news that would have been front page news on the old Hollywood Reporter daily newspaper was widely circulated everywhere at noon the previous day. And when you enable the internet to slice and dice and carve up the news, it’s not fresh when you’re looking at it in the morning. There was no point. The first rule of media is it has to serve an audience and it has to serve an editorial point. And the point of the Hollywood Reporter was sort of going away because that news was being done by five other entertainment trade outlets online, by every fan blogger, by the big news organizations like New York Times or Wall Street Journal were getting into this area and there was nothing that made it special. It just made it commoditized. So the fortunate thing is our owners, our new owners came in and took a look at that environment and said okay, how do we do something that’s unique and create something that’s special? The first thing they did was they brought in an editor from New York with weekly magazine experience, Janice Min.

Scott Orn:

She’s a badass, right?

Matt Belloni:

Yeah she’s great and she is now my boss. And she had experience at People and US Weekly and more consumer magazines in the celebrity space. But she had a real vision for what Hollywood Reporter as a print entity could be. She brought in a lot of style features and a little more of a visual touch. We up the photography.

Scott Orn:

The magazine’s beautiful. It’s incredible.

Matt Belloni:

We photographed our covers. We did everything that you do at a big glossy monthly but we were doing it every week and then what she did is she came to me and she said, what would you like to do here? And I said, I’d like to be in-charge of our news operation. She’s like, great. So what that meant is I was … half of our print magazine is devoted to the business. The hard news and analysis. We knew in creating a print magazine for Hollywood that it had to be solid on the basics. It had to be giving you something in print that was valuable business information.

Scott Orn:

Like commentary or …

Matt Belloni:

Commentary and analysis and you know, news that you weren’t reading elsewhere and perspectives.

Scott Orn:

Like the Sumner Redstone stuff. You guys actually like really get in ...

Matt Belloni:

We were the last interview that Sumner did. And we got him on our cover in 2014 and that’s like, that was a coup for us. That’s a good cover story for us.

Scott Orn:

But then also like on the web, you’re detailing like board proxies. He fired the board … we were just talking about it. He fired the board today of CBS or Viacom. Excuse me. And it’s like, you guys are actually getting into the meat and potatoes of that which is really …

Matt Belloni:

Absolutely. But we also, we do everything from that to today Lady Gaga is going to star in a Star is Born remake. So we’re doing those stories. We’re doing what’s Trump doing today? We’re doing how’s the media covering Trump? The Disney alligator attack is a big story for us. So we have a huge breadth of coverage area. And the challenge is, when we went to a weekly magazine, there aren’t many weekly magazines that have a real news brand. And what I mean by that is, is you are solid in print, you have a solid print product and then you also have a 24/7 news operation that people look to and there’s really only a handful of places that do that. Most do either print well and they struggle online or they are a native digital outlet that doesn’t have to worry about the deadlines and production and all the other things that go into print. Here we do both and that’s part of what makes it so labor-intensive and demanding but it’s also what makes it fun.

Scott Orn:

Don’t you think it makes it more prestigious though? I feel like print’s gone … the way you guys do print with the photo like the really nice covers, it’s so much more tangible to people. It’s not like a web page that just kind of you read for 10 seconds and goes away and you never think about it again. I feel like there’s prestige there to me.

Matt Belloni:

There definitely is. And especially since we are perceived and this is Janice’s vision from the very beginning was that this was going to be an aspirational magazine. You are going to want to be in this. And a lot of our coverage in the style areas and lifestyle stuff is all aspirational because you know, our owners when they took over Hollywood Reporter, they looked at the readership that we had and the income level and education level and lifestyle level …

Scott Orn:

Which is all huge right? For everybody.

Matt Belloni:

We’re making a lot of money. We’re reaching stars. We’re reaching people in New York and LA and they said okay, you have this readership and you’re serving them this product that was a flimsy little trade newspaper so it was just a nat … now it seems simple that we transition to this. At the time and it’s been five years now. At the time, it was kind of a revolutionary thing in this space. We’ve got a lot of really nice attention for what was going on and but at the core of it, we always knew that the news brand and the business credibility was the rock of the whole thing. You had to be solid on that stuff and then you build off of it and do real estate coverage and car coverage and travel and nice photography and all that stuff that is great but other outlets can do that too. What we do uniquely here is we cover the crap out of the entertainment business. From every angle.

Scott Orn:

It’s amazing.

Matt Belloni:

And you know, that’s what’s been fun and satisfying.

Scott Orn:

But the world has devolved into like … this is a niche but it’s a huge niche. It’s a niche that everyone loves. I say niche. It’s a segment, right? Like you guys own the entertainment segment which is super powerful. Super lucrative. But you guys do it the best. Like people just know your brand now.

Matt Belloni:

We hope so. It’s been a process because you know, we were not known as a national media brand. I mean people knew what we were but it was not … we have a much higher profile now and there’s a lot of factors for that. But that’s important to us. That our stories are not just read by the industry. That they’re also read around the world. But it’s interesting, you mentioned print. People still want to be in print.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. That’s what I’m saying, the prestige, right? Like there’s something about opening that and because it’s a beautiful magazine, it’s like the ads are like stunning because they can do a lot with the ads. And a lot of the times there, you know, they’re recognizing a great actor for a lifetime achievement or they’re promoting a movie that’s up for the Academy Awards or they’re just really high quality advertisements.

Matt Belloni:

Like Gucci. We got luxury ads as well. But people want to be in print which if you think about it is not a rational decision because our readership, our print readership, I think our circulation is like between 70,000 and 90,000 or something like that. We say we reached like 100,000 print readers because we have a lot of sharing. Which is great. It’s much bigger than it used to be. But it’s not a million. It’s not what some of these huge international publications are. And then when you look at our website, our website’s up to about 15 million uniques a month.

Scott Orn:

That’s amazing. That’s awesome.

Matt Belloni:

And you know, if you think rationally about that, people should be dying to be on the website. It’s like oh whatever. I don’t care about print. But it’s the opposite.

Scott Orn:

I think because they know A, they can hold the magazine in their hands and they know the other people who are holding that magazine in their hands matter.

Matt Belloni:

Yeah. And then you get both. Some of our most read stories, a lot of our most read stories on our website are print stories. Because we put a lot of effort into them, we try to make the magazine special and a lot of our longer profile, a lot of our photograph pieces, our big cover story profiles, things like that. And when we transition those online, they do big traffic.

Scott Orn:

So on the … you talked about the web, talk about your … how you guys have gotten so much stronger on your webpage or your web profile and how do you guys do distribution now? Like we are talking six months ago at a bachelor party and you’re talking about how important Facebook was becoming to Hollywood Reporter like how has that, because that’s a really … how has that transition happened?

Matt Belloni:

It’s been an interesting transition because the entire media world in the time that I’d been here which is about 10 years now has completely changed. The rise of the social networks and our biggest traffic referrer is probably still Google just because …

Scott Orn:

Because people Google like …

Matt Belloni:

People Google Brad Pitt and like what his next movie will come up. But and we’re writing about all this stuff and all the incremental news.

Scott Orn:

And Google knows you’re one of the dominant sources so you have higher page rank and all that kind of stuff.

Matt Belloni:

We also have … this is kind of a morose thing but when people die …

Scott Orn:

obituaries. You guys have really high quality obituaries. Like I read your

Matt Belloni:

We have a ton of obituaries prepped. If you’ve won an Oscar or an Emmy and are over 65 or 70 years old, we probably have your obituary ready to go.

Scott Orn:

I hope to be on that pre-prepped obituary someday.

Matt Belloni:

Sadly it’s true. I mean there are surprises but …

Scott Orn:

No but you guys do have that.

Matt Belloni:

And we put effort into that. And because of that, we are known as a quality outlet when someone does die. Our obituaries surface to the top because of that. Once … the way the internet works, if there’s a big death, the entire internet will swarm in on that. Like when prints die, it was gigantic. First of all because it was so unexpected. But people want … they want more information about it. They want to know. They want to read about his whole life. They want to read everything. And you can serve that up. You can provide it. People will come.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. So you’re timely, you’re high quality online.

Matt Belloni:

It’s basically reemphasizing or emphasizing for the first time in many ways the urgency of the web, getting stuff up quickly, pushing stuff out. We have an email alert system that people sign up for.

Scott Orn:

You guys, do you guys find like the celebrities are distribution channel for you as well? Like are they posting …

Matt Belloni:

You know who’s great?

Scott Orn:

Who?

Matt Belloni:

The Rock.

Scott Orn:

By the way, we love The Rock and we watched Ballers religiously in our … we love Ballers.

Matt Belloni:

San Andreas. Great movie.

Scott Orn:

San Andreas. Great movie. Vanessa wants to watch that like every time that comes up on iTunes. She’s like, let’s watch San Andreas again.

Matt Belloni:

Yeah. It’s fun.

Scott Orn:

He’s an amazing entertainer.

Matt Belloni:

He’s great.

Scott Orn:

He seems really smart too.

Matt Belloni:

He’s very smart and he’s super savvy on his social media channels. So whenever we write about him, he’ll tweet it and he’ll like write at our reporters and stuff. The Rock has a few million followers like Twitter is a referral source for us. It’s not the biggest. Facebook is a big referral source. Although the way Facebook is changing their algorithms and things to prioritize video, it’s less of a referral source that it once was.

Scott Orn:

I’ve heard about that just like in the last quarter, right?

Matt Belloni:

Yeah. All publishers are feeling the impact of that because Facebook is changing things. But we now have a Facebook Live deal. We’re creating video for Facebook and we’re kind of experimenting about it but we’re one of their media partners because they know we have great access to the inside star world and they’re seeing what we can do.

Scott Orn:

What’s your take on that live video stuff? Do you like it? Is it uncomfortable to be in that?

Matt Belloni:

I don’t mind. I do a lot of media appearances outside of here. Like I’ll do the morning shows or I’ll do Entertainment Tonight or CNBC. I’m comfortable doing that. So I don’t mind doing it. I haven’t really done Facebook Live yet. We just started it yesterday. We did a video in our morning meeting and I will say it was a little bizarre …

Scott Orn:

Can people hear you or is it just the video?

Matt Belloni:

I think they could hear us. Yeah. Because I went on Facebook to watch our video as it was being done and you see like people from all over the world are popping up like, hey, how are you?

Scott Orn:

Yeah. It’s amazing.

Matt Belloni:

Or like oh, why am I watching this? The comments start flowing in. We were joking yesterday like we had always joked that someday we would all work for Facebook and literally we are now working for Facebook.

Scott Orn:

We will all work for Mark Zuckerberg.

Matt Belloni:

But it’s a partnership. I think a lot of people are experimenting with what works online.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. They’re trying to figure it out. We were talking about last night like they’re probably trying to figure out like where the inflection points are, how many people need to get into that, what people want …

Matt Belloni:

Totally. And what they want from certain media outlets. Like what works from an entertainment outlet. Is it star interviews or is it pre-packaged clip things or what is it?

Scott Orn:

We were talking about SnapChat last night like we just … it’s like I’m learning how to use it and I’m realizing how powerful it is. It’s like amazing. So … this has been awesome. Just a couple more minutes. To just explain the phenomenon on Trump, like we all …we’re not fans of his politics. Just … but he’s doing something well in media.

Matt Belloni:

Oh absolutely. He’s owning the conversation each day. Or he has been. He’s kind of lost it a little bit. I think Hilary knows what he’s up to.

Scott Orn:

It feels like the adults are coming home.

Matt Belloni:

I think so.

Scott Orn:

And she’s competent.

Matt Belloni:

Trump, I mean there’s a couple of things. He was not … the Republican field was not adults.

Scott Orn:

Not strong.

Matt Belloni:

No. Not strong. And … but he has incredible training in the media world. I mean people forget. He’s been famous for a long time and there was a time in the 80’s and 90’s where he was doing what worked in that era which was being on the cover of the New York Post every day. Being in the tabloids. Writing books. Doing these shady endorsement deals. And now, he is successfully transitioned to both the TV with The Apprentice. Learned a ton there. You talk to people at NBC, that guy was a pro. He knew exactly what his brand was. He knew how to work it for the camera.

Scott Orn:

That’s awesome.

Matt Belloni:

And now he’s doing it for social media. I mean he’s owning social media.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing. And then where’s Hollywood Reporter going next? What’s your guys’ … I mean you guys are … Guggenheim’s got to be super fired up about that purchase like you guys are doing really well.

Matt Belloni:

We are … the next step right now is video. We’re doing a lot more video. We’re doing a lot more in the partnerships space.

Scott Orn:

I want there to be a Hollywood Reporter TV show. Like even if … whether it’s a Charlie Rose-style or where you really get the actors to talk about how they feel and all that kind of stuff or the business side of it. Like I think the business … like one of the reasons why I want to have you on the podcast is I find this, the entertainment business so fascinating. And like where we are, we don’t really … we don’t understand it frankly. You know? So it’s like …

Matt Belloni:

Yeah. That’s a good idea. We’ve talked about that. Sort of what the right outlet would be for that. We have a TV show on the Sundance Network called Roundtables. We do …

Scott Orn:

Roundtables are really good. Yeah. Talk about that a little bit. Because you have like five big stars or …

Matt Belloni:

Yeah. We do roundtables about 15 of them a year in film and TV where we gather people in the same room. So it’s 6 actors, 6 executives in the film world, 6 writers, 6 directors and we just have a conversation. And there’s so much media out there where it’s one celebrity talking or it’s two celebrities who are promoting a movie are talking together and they’re just promoting the movie. But when you strip that away and you put these stars in an environment where they’re talking to each other, there’s a moderator but I would say the best roundtables are the ones where I don’t talk very much.

Scott Orn:

For sure.

Matt Belloni:

And you just allow them to pick each other’s brains and ask questions and it can be compelling. It depends on the group of people but it’s interesting. It’s not already out there.

Scott Orn:

That’s going to kill on the video stuff. Like the day you use Facebook Live, one of those actors’ roundtables or actor roundtables or directors, it’s going to … that’ll be humongous.

Matt Belloni:

I mean right now, we have a TV deal for them. So they are on the Sundance Channel. So I don’t know if we’re going to Facebook Live them. We may. But I don’t know if Sundance would be excited about that. Maybe they would. It would be promotional.

Scott Orn:

Yeah.

Matt Belloni:

Yeah but I could see us doing more of that stuff.

Scott Orn:

So to recap, do what you love. Figure it out early. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. You really kind of discovered the power of like prestige and you’ve been a part of like a really amazing turnaround.

Matt Belloni:

Yeah it’s been fun. I’ve always been the kind of person where if I’m into something, I’m going to work really hard and it was just about finding something that I could be into and want to succeed in and you know, would motivate me every day.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. That’s amazing. That’s great advice. Can you tell everyone where they can find you? On Twitter and Facebook or whatever you prefer.

Matt Belloni:

@THRMattBelloni. M-A-T-T-B-E-L-L-O-N-I. That’s my Twitter handle. And if you go on THR.com, you can check out our website and I have a daily newsletter.

Scott Orn:

Newsletter’s actually really good. I get that too.

Matt Belloni:

I signed you up. So you better. No, but if you go on THR.com, there’s a space to sign up for the Today and Entertainment Newsletter.

Scott Orn:

Awesome. Thanks for having the time for us. Really appreciate it.

Matt Belloni:

No problem.

Scott Orn:

Matt Belloni, Hollywood Reporter. Thank you.

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