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DHD Update: 1 Million Page Views!

By | Friday May 19, 2006 @ 10:42pm PDT

Tonight, DHD passed 1,000,000 page views in 9 weeks of operation.

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Dreamgirls Gets Great Cannes Response

By | Friday May 19, 2006 @ 4:33pm PDT

The first 20 minutes of Dreamworks/Paramount’s Dreamgirls starring Beyoncé Knowles and Jamie Foxx screened at the Cannes Film Festival tonight and received big applause from the media, distributors and VIPs inside the Martinez Hotel. Dreamworks’ David Geffen, Viacom’s Tom Freston, Paramount Pictures’ Brad Grey and Gail Berman were all spotted inside the screening. Almost as big a reaction, but not quite, as the reception for Volver, the latest from director Pedro Almodovar, starring Penelope Cruz, which scored big, big applause. People are saying it’s his best.

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EXCLUSIVE: Da Vinci Code Is 2nd Biggest Opening Weekend Of All Time Worldwide With $224 Million; No. 1 International Opening Weekend with $147 Mil; $77 Mil U.S. Opening Weekend; Sony Execs Attribute Huge Success To Teen Moviegoers Globally

By | Friday May 19, 2006 @ 10:48am PDT

8th UPDATE (Wednesday): My latest lalogo.gif column,  The Passion of the Cash, is all about how I’ve seen the future of Hollywood, and it is foreign, as demonstrated by the craptastic Da Vinci Code

7th Update (Sunday): Sony Pictures told me exclusively this morning that Da Vinci Code earned $224 million worldwide, making it the second biggest opening weekend of all time worldwide. (The only movie that did better was Star Wars 3, the last of the prequels, with $254 mil). That DVC figure broke down to $147 mil internationally, and $77 mil domestically. The studio told me that the film is the No. 1 all-time opening weekend internationally. DVC was #1 in predominantly Catholic countries Italy and Spain, and #1 or #2 in every South American territory. Sony execs explained to me that the reason for the huge success is that “young people” including teens were going to see the film worldwide as well as adults. But all audience segments were doing well, even infrequent filmgoers. “We are absolutely thrilled with the worldwide opening of this movie and it’s a true international event,” the chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, Amy Pascal, told me Sunday morning. ”And we got some very good reviews. Mainstream critics liked the the movie all over the world; it just wasn’t all negative.” According to Box Office Mojo, DVC ranked #13 on the all-time U.S. opening weekend, behind Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. … Read More »

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Moonves Blinks: 20th’s Reba Coming Back

By | Thursday May 18, 2006 @ 7:19pm PDT

I’ve just been told Les Moonves blinked after The CW’s anemic upfront presentation today and finally made a deal to bring back the highest-rated sitcom on The WB. But Reba won’t air until CW’s 2007 midseason schedule. You may remember that, back on April 30th, I wrote that Les had manhandled 20th Century Fox’s show. I was told 20th was shocked to hear the CW didn’t want the sitcom even though, last year, Reba was picked up by the WB for two years. When news broke about the WB/UPN merging to form CW, Reba‘s executive producers informed the cast and crew that Moonves had sent word that he expected the new netlet would honor that deal. So the series’ shooting ended on March 14th with everyone expecting to be back in the fall. Then, in mid-April, the CW execs told 20th they wanted out of the WB deal — the reason being that Moonves didn’t think the show attracted “the desired demographic” the new network wants tuning in. (Translation: no Country-Western yahoos.) Fox said no way, and reneging on that WB deal was going to cost the new CW a mint. At the time, some people believed this might be a negotiating ploy by Moonves to lower Reba‘s license fee and other costs. But the cast was devastated, and the crew had been told to grab any other work that’s offered. What I hear happened is that even after The CW told advertisers today it was only targeting the 18-to-34 demographic, the netlet clinched the deal for Reba, starring the 51-year-old singer/actress. Meanwhile, Reba McEntire hosts the Academy of Country Music Awards live on CW-partner CBS … Read More »

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Stone’s WTC: Is a Moving Movie Enough?

By | Thursday May 18, 2006 @ 6:46pm PDT

Yes, Paramount is showing 20 minutes of the film at the Cannes Film Festival. But you don’t have to be near the Croisette: I just saw Extra‘s exclusive and shorter preview tonight for Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center which opens wide on August 9th. I’m not much of a Stone fan because so many of his more recent movies have generally stunk. But I must say this preview was incredibly moving. I had tears in my eyes. Will there be more natural storytelling, more realistic characters and more subtle direction than Stone usually gives the public? Again, it’s only a preview, so who knows. But hopefully, Paramount’s kept him more reined in than Warner’s was able to do on recent flicks where Stone’s particular agendas were shoved down our throats (i.e. Gay Alexander). Question is, do I want to see this movie? Well, a lot more than I did before I saw the preview, but that’s not saying much: this will still be a box office-challenged pic. Not just because Stone has lost his directorial luster, not just because star Nic Cage has failed to connect with audiences for years now, but because of the 9/11 subject matter. After all, Universal’s United 93 was a critical success but only made $26.5 mil since it opened April 28, and cost only $15 mil. Stone’s movie, obvious even from this preview, looks like a full-frills big budget studio blowout, and I can’t imagine it’s going to be able to earn back.

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When Will (Like Grace) Was Straight

By | Thursday May 18, 2006 @ 2:04pm PDT

Given that after tonight’s season finale, Will & Grace goes off the air (though it will live on, in syndication), I thought I’d look back a bit. I was in the audience at Radio City Music Hall the day at the upfronts when NBC proudly put the show on its 1998-1999 primetime schedule. Like everyone else, I diligently read through the program NBC handed out on the way in: it said Will & Grace was a sitcom about two best friends. And the network took the unusual step of showing a long, long, long, portion of the pilot (in fact, it sure seemed like it was the entire pilot). Will was smart, Grace was perky, and Jack clearly was the comic foil written so gay that he was downright festive. But I kept thinking as I watched, hmm, something’s weird. It seemed a pretty lightweight premise to just have two friends with a gay pal and a lush assistant. It was only when I walked out of the presentation and went to the NBC after-party that I learned that Jack wasn’t the only gay character. I remember exactly how I felt at the time: incredibly pissed at NBC suits that they didn’t have the courage of their convictions and felt they had to hide Will’s homosexuality from advertisers out of fear that Home Depot or Colgate-Palmolive might get upset. It was such a noxious notion, and so antiquated — like we were back in the days when … Read More »

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By | Thursday May 18, 2006 @ 12:56pm PDT

*New programs in CAPS

8:00 p.m. ”7th Heaven”
9:00 p.m. ”RUNAWAY”

8:00 p.m.  “Gilmore Girls”
9:00 p.m. “Veronica Mars”

8:00 p.m.  “America’s Next Top Model”/2007 “Beauty and the Geek”
9:00 p.m. “One Tree Hill”

8:00 p.m.  “Smallville”
9:00 p.m.  “Supernatural”

8:00 p.m.  “Friday Night Smackdown!”

7:00 p.m. “Everybody Hates Chris”
7:30 p.m. “All of Us”
8:00 p.m. “Girlfriends”
8:30 p.m. “THE GAME”
9:00 p.m. “America’s Next Top Model” Encore

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By | Thursday May 18, 2006 @ 11:48am PDT

*New programs in CAPS

8:00 p.m. ”Prison Break”/Jan 2007 “STANDOFF”
9:00 p.m. ”VANISHED”/Jan 2007 “24″

8:00 p.m.  “STANDOFF”/Jan 2007 “American Idol”
9:00 p.m. “House”

8:00 p.m.  “Bones”"/Jan 2007 “JUSTICE”
9:00 p.m. “JUSTICE”/Jan 2007 “American Idol”
9:30 p.m. Jan 2007 “THE LOOP”

8:00 p.m.  “‘TIL DEATH”
8:30 p.m.  “HAPPY HOUR”
9:00 p.m.  “The O.C.”

8:00 p.m.  “Nanny 911″/Jan 2007 “Bones”
9:00 p.m.  “Trading Spouses”/Jan 2007 “THE WEDDING ALBUM”

8:00 p.m. “Cops”
8:30 p.m.  “Cops”
9:00 p.m. “America’s Most Wanted: America Strikes Back”
11:00 p.m. “Midnight MADtv”

8:00 p.m. “The Simpsons”
8:30 p.m. “American Dad”
9:00 p.m. “Family Guy”
9:30 p.m. “The War at Home”

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Who’s John Hanusz, Pellicano Scooper?

By | Thursday May 18, 2006 @ 11:10am PDT

LADJ.jpgWhile the media seems to have suddenly gone silent on the Pellicano scandal (The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, even bloggers), the one guy plugging away at it with scoops is John Hanusz, whose beat for the local legal newspaper Los Angeles Daily Journal is the federal courts. So I phoned him today for the 411 about him. He’s a 33-year-old attorney-turned-journalist who came to the Downtown Los Angeles paper from a legal practice in Atlanta in July 2005. ( that must be one disappointed mother…) The problem for Hanusz is that his stories don’t get much Internet play because it costs major $$$ to subscribe to the LADJ. He’s kinda close-mouthed (due, no doubt, to all that legal training) about opining. But he did express his feelings about reporting the story. “The key to this case is don’t get your hopes up. That’s the key to covering it, anyway. That’s been my mantra in all of this.” And, yes, he’s having “fun. Absolutely. It’s fascinating.”
Pellicano: Brad Asks to Stay Bo’s Lawsuit, More Legal Heat On NYT Pellicano Pair, Pellicano Prosecutor Probes NYT Leaks

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Pellicano: Brad Asks to Stay Bo’s Lawsuit

By | Thursday May 18, 2006 @ 10:33am PDT

The legal newspaper Daily Journal‘s John Hanusz reports today that Brad Grey has asked a judge to stay Bo Zenga’s lawsuit seeking to add the Paramount Pictures studio boss as a defendant for his alleged role in Pellicano’s illegal wiretaps. Grey’s lawyers filed the court papers because Pellicano is scheduled to be tried on the criminal charges in October. Moreover, Grey’s lawyers said, they have not seen the government evidence which the feds turned over to Zenga’s lawyers.  “A complete stay would allow all parties to proceed on a level playing field because information from the criminal proceedings would be equally available to all,” the legal filing declared. Gregory Dovel, Zenga’s attorney, told the reporter that Grey’s motion was a “desperate” attempt to stall a deposition of the studio head about his knowledge of Pellicano’s alleged wiretapping of Zenga.  But Grey’s attorneys, in turn, say that’s ironic since Zenga himself invoked his Fifth Amendment rights several hundred times in his own depositions in order to avoid testifying” in Zenga’s original Scary Movie lawsuit. So what gives?
Zenga filed a motion to add Grey, lawyer Bert Fields and Fields’ firm to a 2004 lawsuit against Pellicano, former LAPD Sgt. Mark Arneson and the city of Los Angeles. That stems from Zenga’s contract suit against Grey and his production company, Brillstein-Grey Entertainment about a supposed  agreement Zenga had with Grey to produce … Read More »

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DHD Update: 900,000 Page Views!

By | Wednesday May 17, 2006 @ 9:10pm PDT

Tonight, DHD passed 900,000 page views in 8+ weeks of operation.
Thank you!

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Finke/LA Weekly: Promiscuous TV Bitches

By | Wednesday May 17, 2006 @ 6:00pm PDT

It’s not every morning I wake up to an excited phone call telling me, “You’re in Maureen Dowd today!” The New York Times columnist mentioned me and my interview with Grey’s Anatomy creator/exec producer/head writer Shonda Rhimes (Here’s the DHD excerpt, Grey’s Producer Had Disney “Hard Times” ).
It’s also my latest lalogo.gif column: TV’s Promiscuous Bitches.  “Up-front week is when the networks unveil their fall TV schedules to advertisers at fancy New York City venues, then attempt to mask the stink of failure at even more lavish parties in even fancier venues. In other words, it’s all a big con. The alphabets pretend that they still have an audience, and advertisers feign that they don’t have other media options. Meanwhile, a new poll finds that almost 80 percent of teens can’t name the big-four broadcasters and prefer the Web to TV anyway….contd.

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Clooney and Crowe Were First Choices to Play White House’s Clarke, Not Penn

By | Wednesday May 17, 2006 @ 5:25pm PDT

I’m told that Sony Pictures’ first choices to play Richard Clarke in the film version of his first-person book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, were George Clooney and Russell Crowe. Not Sean Penn, whom ABC News today is reporting has been cast in the role. This may explain that scoop: Clarke, who was Dubya’s former White House counterterrorism adviser, works as an on-air analyst for ABC News. Both Penn and the film’s director, Crash‘s Oscar-winner Paul Haggis, are leading Hollywood activists against W’s administration. And Sony does have Penn starring in its remake of All the King’s Men (whose release has long been delayed). But that pic is an esemble piece, and I find the studio’s choice of Penn surprising to carry what is sure to be the box-office-challenged subject of politics in Against All Enemies. Don’t get me wrong, Sean is certainly a world-class actor. But, alas, he’s also box office poison.

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Ebert/Roeper and Lumenick/NY Post Only Raves for Da Vinci Code So Far

By | Wednesday May 17, 2006 @ 4:57pm PDT

Even though it’s not yet been announced, I’m told that Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper are giving Sony/Imagine’s The Da Vinci Code two thumbs-up. So far, they, and Lou Lumenick of the New York Post, are the only major film critics who like the movie. Already, Richard Corliss for Time magazine, Todd McCarthy for Variety, Owen Gleiberman for Entertainment Weekly, Claudia Puig at USA Today, Tony (A.O.) Scott of The New York Times, Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kenny Turan of the Los Angeles Times are panning it as dull or lifeless or tedious or boring — or all four.

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Wasn’t Schamus Already Running Things?

By | Wednesday May 17, 2006 @ 3:52pm PDT

File this under the promotions-for-the-sake-of-promotions category:
From Universal Pictures today. Dateline Cannes: “As Focus Features commences its fifth year of operations, James Schamus has been promoted to chief executive officer of the company, taking on responsibility for all aspects of Focus, Rogue Pictures, and Focus Features International. Andrew Karpen has been promoted to president of Focus and co-president of Rogue, with Andrew Rona also being named co-president of Rogue.

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Da Vinci Code’s Cannes World Premiere: French Say Oui! While Critics Say Non!

By | Wednesday May 17, 2006 @ 3:25pm PDT

Despite tepid and even terrible reviews coming in from film critics, the first report I’ve received from the Cannes Film Festival today tells me Sony/Imagine’s The Da Vinci Code received a standing ovation at the end of its official world premiere. (Clearly there’s no accounting for taste within that VIP audience.) There was one point during the screening, I’ve learned, when audiences did snicker (Semi-Spoiler Alert): When Hanks (aka Robert Langdon) tells Audrey Tautou (aka Sophie Neveu) who her true ancestors were. But no one walked out in the middle, which the Cannes crowd is wont to do if they hate a movie. The black-tie premiere brought out the stars of the film – Hanks, Tautou, Ian McKellen and Paul Bettany onto Cannes’ famous red carpet. It was on that carpet that, hours before the premiere, nuns and priests supplicated themselves on the Palais steps to protest the film. At the premiere inside the theater, I’m told, Hanks made a point of meeting and greeting (and talking) to two priests in the audience. With the pair located at opposite ends of the theatre, Hanks had all eyes on him as he had to wend his way around the theatre to get to them. More as it comes in…

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By | Wednesday May 17, 2006 @ 1:24pm PDT

*New programs in CAPS

8:00 p.m. “How I Met Your Mother”
8:30 p.m. “THE CLASS”
9:00 p.m. “Two and a Half Men”
9:30 p.m. “The New Adventures of Old Christine”
10:00 p.m. “CSI Miami”

8:00 p.m. “NCIS”
9:00 p.m. “The Unit”
10:00 p.m. “SMITH”

8:00 p.m. “JERICHO”
9:00 p.m. “Criminal Minds”
10:00 p.m. “CSI:NY”


8:00 p.m. “Survivor: Cook Islands”
9:00 p.m. “CSI”
10:00 p.m. “SHARK”

8:00 p.m. “Ghost Whisperer”
9:00 p.m. “Close to Home”
10:00 p.m. “Numb3rs”

8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. ”Crimetime Saturday”
10:00 p.m. “48 Hours Mystery”

7:00 p.m. “60 Minutes”
8:00 p.m. “Amazing Race”
9:00 p.m. “Cold Case”
10:00 p.m. “Without a Trace”

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UPFRONTS: When Kevin Met Jon

By | Tuesday May 16, 2006 @ 3:19pm PDT

Last night’s William Morris party — biggie of all agency upfront fêtes — took place as usual at the swanky Four Seasons Restaurant. Bob Wright and Jeff Zucker were there. Les Moonves was there (sitting at a table in the corner with wife Julie Chen and letting the rabble come up to kiss his Godfather ring). A usual crew of producers, directors, agents, and media were there, including Dick Wolf, Steve Tisch, J.J. Abrams, Aaron Sorkin, Peter Horton, Chris Cuomo and Billy Bush. A handful of celebs were there (DL Hughley, Sean Hayes, Carmen Electra, Serena Williams, Rick Fox, Super Nanny Jo Frost, and… oh, who cares?) So was Kevin Spacey, and his presence sent a major politico running to say hello. Turned out, in another area of the restaurant, a major Democratic fundraiser was taking place. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd was there. New York Sen. Hillary Clinton there. So was newly elected New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, who crossed over to the William Morris party “and made a beeline for Kevin,” I’m told. The actor is a Democratic Hollywood activist but hardly a big political donor. So what gives? Well, Spacey was born in South Orange, N.J. How much you wanna bet that Corzine talks Kevin into being the state’s new spokesperson?

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By | Tuesday May 16, 2006 @ 6:56am PDT

*New programs in CAPS
8:00 p.m. “Wife Swap”
9:00 p.m. “The Bachelor”/”Supernanny”
10:00 p.m. “What About Brian”

8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”/”SET FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE”
9:00 p.m. “LET’S ROB…”
9:30 p.m. “HELP ME HELP YOU”
10:00 p.m. “Boston Legal”

8:00 p.m. “Dancing with the Stars”/”George Lopez”/“According to Jim”
9:00 p.m. “Lost”
10:00 p.m. “THE NINE”

8:00 p.m. “BIG DAY”
9:00 p.m. “Grey’s Anatomy”
10:00 p.m. “SIX DEGREES”

8:00 p.m. “BETTY THE UGLY”
9:00 p.m. “MEN IN TREES”
10:00 p.m. “20/20″


7:00 p.m. “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”
9:00 p.m. “Desperate Housewives”
10:00 p.m. “BROTHERS & SISTERS”

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