EXCLUSIVE 10 AM… UPDATEd 12:30 PM : Deadline has learned the meetings were an intimate preview of the new Xbox One capabilities before next week’s E3 confab where secretive Microsoft will unveil details of the device’s technology. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was escorted by his entertainment studios president Nancy Tellem for the visit late last week to lobby her closest Hollywood pals: her former boss CBS chief Les Moonves, Sony TV boss Steve Mosko, and WME co-CEOS Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell. It’s all part of Ballmer’s effort to drum up exclusive content after Microsoft intends to launch 40+ new voice-controlled customized TV and entertainment apps on Xbox One. But it was also more, one insider tells Deadline, “to reiterate Microsoft’s commitment to transitioning its business to devices and services and to explaining that Hollywood entertainment is a big part of that. Microsoft in the past has just dipped a toe but now has a real commitment.” Tellem wanted to give Ballmer 3 different perspective: the broadcaster, the independent producer, and the agent. Deadline has learned that Ballmer touted “what we could do with” the Xbox One in sports, music, reality and scripted programming, promising execs that they’d see more sophisticated technology and that his company “doesn’t want to be a cable channel”. He also met Tellem’s Santa Monica team for the first time and outlined his vision for a new Xbox One world. Ballmer’s trip to Hollywood will only anger more hard-core gamers who already were miffed by Microsoft’s focus on entertainment when it unveiled the product on May 21. (Xbox One will be on store shelves later this year). The hard-core gamers fear Microsoft sees its new Xbox One more as a souped-up Internet-connected, voice- and motion-controlled cable box than a next-gen gaming console. Tellem has said Microsoft has studios in Los Angeles, London, Seattle and Vancouver producing content that merges “the story-telling magic of TV with the interactive power of the Xbox One.” More recently, Microsoft said Steven Spielberg will create a new live-action TV show based on the Halogame franchise. Microsoft also announced a new partnership with the NFL that promises side-by-side integration of a viewer’s fantasy football stats with live game broadcasts. And the company also set a partnership with ESPN for broadcasts of other sports. This isn’t the first time Microsoft has tried to entice Hollywood with the Xbox. Peter Chernin for one discussed producing Conan O’Brien’s talk show on the platform when the host was booted from NBC’s The Tonight Show. Hollywood’s big problem with Microsoft: it moves slowly. The Xbox One was designed to establish its primacy in the industry-wide effort to develop a single box that can handle all of a home’s entertainment needs. But company watchers have had mixed reactions to the Xbox One. Turnoffs include the expected high price (rumored at as much as $499), the possibility that it won’t play certain used games without an additional payment, and a suspicion that it take liberties with users’ privacy for example by reporting whether a TV viewer watched certain commercials.
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