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2nd UPDATE: Jim Carrey Fires Long-Time UTA and Long-Loyal Nick Stevens. “The Fix Is In” For CAA To Sign Jim. But Nick Gave Ari Advice On How To Bag Carrey

By | Wednesday September 13, 2006 @ 5:24pm PDT

2nd UPDATE: *Two Jim Carrey meetings this coming week: Endeavor and CAA. First, I was told Jim Carrey’s manager Jim Miller called UTA’s Nick Stevens to fire him as the star’s 15-year-long agent. Then the truth came out (when people stopped trying to shield the client): it was Jim Carrey himself who Wednesday morning called Stevens and said he was going to take meetings with other agencies. Immediately, I hear, UTA realized “that the fix was in” for Carrey to sign with CAA, where one of Carrey’s managers, Eric Gold, just X’ed on the dotted line for exclusive representation as a movie producer, and where the other manager, Jimmy Miller, has steered most of his clients. But here’s the juiciest part: I’m told that Nick Stevens, in a last-ditch bid to foil CAA’s chances of bagging Carrey, actually called up rival Ari Emanuel of Endeavor and gave him pointers on how to sign the actor if his agency scores a meeting. Emanuel and Miller are tight, and Endeavor handles Miller clients Sacha Baron Cohen and Adam McKay, among others. For some time now, CAA has been after another Stevens’ client, Judd Apatow, who also is managed by Miller — to the point of promising “there’s $400 million out there for you to make movies.” (Hear that, CAA client Tom Cruise?)*
Some further updates mixed in below…

So I’m told that Jim Carrey has fired United Talent Agency. Few agents have ever worked harder for a client than Nick Stevens did for Carrey for seemingly eons (some 15 years). Carrey will … Read More »

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TV/Movie Stats To Make Your Head Spin

By | Wednesday September 13, 2006 @ 12:59pm PDT

Either these stats are going to elate you … or depress you. There’ll be 30 new TV shows debuting this fall on the networks. And 60 new movies screening in theaters until the end of the year. Before this, I used to have a life.

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LA Times’ Scriptland: Just a Terrible Idea

By | Tuesday September 12, 2006 @ 10:48pm PDT

This may be the single worst idea in the history of the Los Angeles Times’ Calendar section. It’s certainly the single worst execution. I’m talking about the just launched “Scriptland” once-a-week column purporting to be “a new weekly feature on the work and professional lives of screenwriters.” What to the LAT editors must have seemed like a fresh idea is sheer lunacy. Because it’s not feasible. Simply put: you can’t review screenplays. If you wanna get all artsy about it, you’re reviewing a work-in-progress akin to the sheet music for a Sinatra song, or the first draft for an Updike book. If you wanna get all Hollywood about it, then you need to know which draft you are reading. The first draft turned in by the writer? The second draft after the studio gave its notes and the mid-level exec who shepherded something awful like Alien vs Predator now actually rewrites scripts from top to bottom because he thinks he’s some kind of boy genius? The third draft after being worked over by the actor’s private screenwriter and the director’s therapist now being arbitrated by the Writers Guild? The shooting script after the studio cut $25 mil from the budget and the actress wouldn’t leave her trailer so the third act got mangled?

As for its execution, this fanboy foolishness smacks of something that Ain’t It Cool News does — and those are geeks who haven’t left their parents’ basement since puberty. And let’s not even comment on the fact that … Read More »

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UPDATED: George Clooney Spoke To UN Security Council About Darfur

By | Tuesday September 12, 2006 @ 8:09pm PDT

2nd UPDATE: *George Clooney spoke movingly and passionately to the United Nation’s most powerful body Thursday, saying the world would be blamed for another Rwanda if atrocities were not halted in Sudan’s Darfur region. “In many ways it is unfair but it is nevertheless true that this genocide will be on your watch. How you deal with it will be your legacy,” Clooney said. “Your Rwanda, Your Cambodia, your Auschwitz.” Reminding that the mandate of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur expires at the end of the month and the Sudanese government has rejected their replacement by a U.N. force, Clooney warned that if U.N. forces are not sent to replace them, all aid workers would leave and the 2.5 million refugees who depend on them would die. “After September 30, you won’t need the U.N. You will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones,” the Oscar-winning actor said. ”The United States has called it genocide. For you, it’s called ethnic cleansing. But make no mistake it is the first genocide of the 21st century. And if it continues unchecked it will not be the last.”*

It’s been said that Hollywood’s hottest marriage is the one between actors and Africa. That’ll be true Thursday when Oscar winner George Clooney is scheduled to address the United Nations Security Council on the crisis in Darfur. That’s right, not some small media conference, but the actual Security Council. Hosted by John Bolton, … Read More »

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NYT Selling Off Its Broadcast Network

By | Tuesday September 12, 2006 @ 2:34pm PDT

Pinch Sulzberger announced to the staff today that, after a year of rethinking strategy for The New York Times, he’s made ”some very hard choices about what kind of company we are going to be five years down the road. Regrettably, in an era of scarcer resources, we concluded that we cannot be all things to all people.” As a result, the NYT plans to sell its Broadcast Media Group, which includes nine network-affiliated television stations and their related properties: WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa (NBC); KFSM-TV in Ft. Smith, Ark. (CBS); WHNT-TV in Huntsville, Ala. (CBS); WREG-TV in Memphis, Tenn. (CBS); WQAD-TV in Moline, Ill. (ABC); WTKR-TV in Norfolk, Va. (CBS); KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City, Okla. (NBC); KAUT-TV in Oklahoma City, Okla. (MyNetworkTV); and WNEP-TV in Scranton, Penn. (ABC). The proposed sale is aimed at enabling the NYT to “place an even greater emphasis on developing and integrating our print and rapidly growing digital resources. This makes the most sense for our Company and it will enable us to make the best use of our considerable journalistic and financial strengths.” The latest moves comes after increasing Wall Street criticism of the way the Sulzberger family is running the NYT Co.

Previous: Morgan Stanley & Others Challenge NYT Co.’s Sulzberger Family Control

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Reviews Are In for New Movie iTunes Only Selling Disney Pics: Thumbs Down!

By | Tuesday September 12, 2006 @ 10:35am PDT

Disney’s Bob Iger took the stage at Apple’s “It’s Showtime” special media event in San Francisco today as Steve Jobs unveiled a new version of the iTunes store selling downloads of movies and videogames. The dog-and-pony show also debuted a revamped Ipod lineup including a specially adapted-for-movies 5th generation iPod with 80G storage, 3.5 hours of video playback, a bigger and 60% brighter screen, gapless playback and new earphones, for $349. And already the reviews are in: thumbs down! As expected, the iTunes store will initially offer only films from Walt Disney Co. (which owns Jobs’ Pixar). Today, films from Disney, Pixar, Touchstone, Miramax — over 75 movies — become available. They are near DVD quality: 640 x 480 resolution. New movie releases will cost $14.99 apiece, preorders $12.99, and older titles $9.99. Buyers will be able to watch the movie as it downloads as well as download multiple movies at once. It’ll be in Dolby surround audio. Apple also will release a compact wireless box for the TV called iTV that allows consumers to watch movies purchased online, as well as other digital content stored on a computer, on a connected television set. Half the size of the Mac mini, it works with Apple Remote. It will sell for $299 and be available early next year. Also, there’s a new matchbook-sized iPod shuffle and a 2nd generation ipod Nano. Look, if you’re like me, then we’ve been waiting for a really cool Movie iPod whose screen will be at least the length and width of the device itself with the controls on … Read More »

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DHD Is Having Technical Difficulties

By | Monday September 11, 2006 @ 1:18pm PDT

All day. They should be ironed out by Tuesday. Thanks for your patience.

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Johnny Depp Joins Billion Dollar Club

By | Saturday September 9, 2006 @ 2:31pm PDT

Walt Disney Pictures announced today that its Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man’s Chest joined the Billion Dollar Club box office benchmark. Behind only Titanic and Lord of the Rings 3, P2 has topped the overseas box office for 9 consecutive weeks. As of Friday, P2 has grossed $415.1 million domestically and $587.5 million internationally, making it the number #1 film of the year here and overseas.
Crossed the $1 billion mark in record time (nine weeks compared to ten weeks for previous record holder, Lord of the Rings 3).
·         Highest three-day opening in box-office history ($135.6 million)
·         First film in box office history to pass $100 million in only two days
·         Tied as fastest film in history to reach $200 million (8 days)
·         Fastest film in box office history to pass $300 million (16 days)
·         Passed the $305.4 million final gross of P1 (in 16 days)
·         Opening day gross ($55.8 mil) highest single-day gross in b.o. history
·         51st film in Buena Vista history to pass $100 mil in gross, most of any studio
·         13th film in B.V. history to pass $200 million in gross, most of any studio
·         Highest grossing film in B.V. history and 6th highest grossing film of all time
·         Biggest international release of 2006.
·         6th biggest film ever released internationally.
·         Most popular international release in the history of Walt Disney Studios.
·         #1 overseas for nine consecutive weekends in a row.
·         Longest consecutive weekend reign of any film this century.
·         Biggest industry opening of All Time: Greece, Russia, … Read More »

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Ben Affleck Wins Venice Best Actor, But His ‘Hollywoodland’ Lags At Theaters; This Weekend’s Box Office Pulls Up Lame; Sony Horror Pic ‘Covenant’ Limps To #1

By | Saturday September 9, 2006 @ 9:01am PDT

SUNDAY: Lousy box office at movie theaters was the entertainment story this weekend as Sony yet again boasts the No. 1 movie. Audiences continued their lust for horror movies as The Covenant opened with $3.1 million in 2,681 theaters Friday and $3.6 mil Saturday for a $9 million weekend. (It was Sony’s 9th Numero Uno debut of the year, which ties the record. The studio hopes to break it next week with The Rock’s heavily hyped Gridiron Gang.) Focus Features’ well-reviewed Hollywoodland, starring Ben Affleck in what was being billed as his big return to the big screen after a long absence, had a disappointing opening in second place with $1.8 million from 1,548 theaters for what was only a $6 million weekend. Critics loved Affleck’s performance, and in a huge surprise he won Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for the role. But maybe moviegoers wanted Ben The Pin-up back, since he packed on 28 pounds to play this role of old Superman TV star George Reeves. This lack of interest in “old Hollywood” mystery-themed movies doesn’t bode well for next weekend’s The Black Dahlia. Meanwhile, The Weinstein Company (those brothers who brought you Miramax) is still looking for a hit as their pickup The Protector earned $1.8 million from 1,451 theaters for what was only a $5 million debut weekend. Disney‘s Mark Wahlberg football film Invincible ended the weekend No. 3, earning $5.9 million. Lionsgate’s Crank added $1.4 million for a $4.7 mil weekend. And, rounding out the … Read More »

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ABC’s 9/11: Big Mystery! Where’s Disney Chairman George Mitchell In This Mess?

By | Friday September 8, 2006 @ 3:53pm PDT

There are many inexplicable facets to this huge political controversy over ABC’s The Path To 9/11 mini-series. But in my view the most bewildering is the whereabouts of Disney’s nonexecutive chairman George Mitchell. He’s long been known as the ultimate Compromise Broker, which is what this ruckus needs. But he’s Missing In Action, as far as I can see. Here’s the evidence: I just did a Nexis database search and he’s NOT mentioned in a single article, news transcript, whatever, about this brouhaha. So I’ve got to ask: Why isn’t he front-and-center? Or, at the very least, alongside Bob Iger, the president and CEO, now under fire? After all, this is a politically charged dispute, and Mitchell used to be one of the most adept politicians ever to serve in the U.S. Senate. Both as a Democrat from Maine from 1980 to 1995, and even as Senate Majority Leader from 1989 to 1995, Mitchell immediately should have been drafted to work out a compromise that would soothe Democratic leaders, from members of the Clinton administration to Congress, as well as Republicans embracing this 9/11 version. Then again, Mitchell has been such a disappointment on so many levels since arriving at Disney both as a longtime board member and, since March 2004, as chairman. There’s a long list of problems associated with his Disney tenure, culminating in 24 percent of shareholders withholding votes for Mitchell’s re-election to the board, an unusually high number. Politically, liberals thought he might work to even the playing field for … Read More »

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ABC’s 9/11: Chief Disney Lobbyist Raises $$$ For GOP Midterm Candidates

By | Friday September 8, 2006 @ 12:45pm PDT

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been dwelled on during the ABC The Path to 9/11 controversy, but remember this the next time the network asserts it is even-handed politically: Disney’s chief lobbyist, Preston Padden, is one of Washington D.C.’s most well-connected Republican lobbyists. Padden, whose title is executive v-p of government relations for Disney, is also a founding member of a loose-knit group billed as “Entertaining Republicans” who raised about $100,000 for the Republican Party in 2004. Since 2005, Padden has actively coordinated with the National Republican Congressional Committee to raise money for GOP congressional candidates running in the 2006 midterm elections. (In fact, Padden’s boss, Disney prez and CEO Bob Iger, was supposed to attend one National Republican Congressional Committee’s $500-a-plate breakfast Washington fund-raiser which Padden helped organize that was hosted by House Speaker Dennis Hastert.) Meanwhile, Padden’s new No. 2 is Bill Bailey, former communications adviser to Sen. John McCain.

Then again, ABC’s parent company Disney has a history of being close to the Bush administration since 9/11. Let’s not forget that W pleaded just days after the tragedy for Americans “to return to the kind of lives we were leading before [that], especially air travel. Get on board. Do your business around the country. Fly and enjoy America’s great destination spots. Go down to Disney World in Florida; take your families and enjoy life the way we want it to be enjoyed.” It … Read More »

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Amy Pascal Made Sony Pic Co-Chairman (Uh, Supposed To Happen A Year Ago)

By | Wednesday September 6, 2006 @ 1:28pm PDT

So Amy Pascal today was named co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and extended her employment contract to infinity. Well, until 2011. Wait a minute. I was told this was supposed to happen last year. In fact, right around the time Sony was having a disastrous Summer 2005 and making bombs like Bewitched and weathering all that bad press. Guess it takes a full year to be forgiven. (Hear that, Alan Horn?) No matter, this summer Sony had a swell box office. Amy, who’ll continue to serve as chairman of the studio’s Motion Picture Group, still has as boss Michael Lynton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment. (Now I gotta ask: What next for Jeff Blake? After all, he’s the best in the business. Maybe he’ll get a brass plaque or a muffin basket.) The press release blathers on, pointing out that, during the past five years combined, no studio has performed better in North America than Sony Pictures Entertainment. Since January, 2002, the studio has released 37 #1 films. Sony was #1 in market share in 2002 and 2004 and was #2 in 2003. Sony is the only studio to exceed the $6 billion dollar mark in domestic box office sales between 2002 and 2006. To date this year, Sony has released 8 #1 films, including The Da Vinci Code, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Click, RV, Pink Panther, Silent Hill, Underworld: Evolution and When A Stranger Calls. The studio … Read More »

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Reality TV Goes Wild: ‘Big Brother’ Threat

By | Wednesday September 6, 2006 @ 10:53am PDT

My latest lalogo.gif column, Savage TV, asks the question: Are the contestants turned into psychos, or are they psychos waiting to happen? Reality TV is turning into Savage TV. First freak shows. Then, over the weekend, freak accidents. Now it’s freakin’ mayhem. Examined within the context of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin’s death-by-stingray are the latest seasons of CBS’ Big Brother, CBS’ Survivor, MTV’s Laguna Beach, MTV’s The Hills, Bravo’s Project Runway, NBC’s The Apprentice, CBS’ The Amazing Race, Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen and MTV’s Real World. Here’s how it starts:

“This week marked a Reality TV milestone: Los Angeles restaurateur Mike ‘Boogie’ Malin threatened violence against one of the female houseguests on CBS’s Big Brother All-Stars and the show’s producers did nothing obvious to stop it. According to the live feeds of the final-four showdown pitting two ‘hos’ against two ‘bros’ (their billing, not mine), Boogie made an obscenity-laced pledge to turn into a wild animal against cocktail waitress Janelle Pierzina if she used the all-important Power of Veto against his partner-in-reality, Will ‘Dr. Evil’ Kirby, a Playa Vista dermatologist. ‘If she votes you out,’ he told his pal, ‘I’ll shit in her face. I’ll piss on her face right there on the block on TV.’ It was a dramatic change from five years ago when houseguest Nicole Schaffrich, pledged to ‘kick ass,’ ‘slit wrists, … Read More »

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Geffen To Redstone: Hire Jeffrey. Redstone to Geffen: No.

By | Tuesday September 5, 2006 @ 5:58pm PDT

Dreamworks.jpgI’m told David Geffen is telling pals he did call up Sumner Redstone this morning and did suggest that the Viacom octogenarian hire Jeffrey Katzenberg to run the whole she-bang. (Of course, Freston’s fired body was barely even cold.) But that Redstone said, fuhgeddaboudit. (Really, Redstone is claiming he said “Forget it.”) If you’re a little slow, then you need to know that Redstone’s Viacom-controlled Paramount bought Dreamworks for a ridiculously overpriced amount, which just shows how persuasive Geffen usually is. And that nothing now would make David happier than to see a Paramount takeover of Dreamworks Animation as well (but that’s not happening for the time being since Paramount has a pact to distribute DreamWorks Animation movies for the next seven years). I hear Redstone even announced his AM conversation with Geffen. Jeez, ol’ Sumner isn’t going to be happy unless he publicly humiliates every last person in Hollywood. Personally, I think his arteries are clogged. The only other reason could be that Sumner wants to turn back control of Viacom under Freston back to Viacom under the Redstone Family. In his conference call today, Redstone noted that his daughter Shari, who’s Vice Chairman, has expanded duties, most of which are board-related. “She is designated to succeed me at that far distant future, 20 or 30 years from now.” What’d I tell ya: he thinks he’ll live forever.

UPDATE: So then Redstone adds … Read More »

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Wherefore Were Thou, Tom Freston?

By | Tuesday September 5, 2006 @ 5:48pm PDT

I’m told that Viacom executive chairman and founder Sumner Redstone was so effin’ eager to fire Tom Freston that the big boss spent the day frantically looking for his underling in order to invite him up to his Beverly Park mansion in that fancy schmancy gated community in the Hollywood Hills for a not-so-cozy chat. So it wasn’t until almost nightfall when Sumner kicked Tom Two (as not Cruise) to the curb. Nice, huh. The old coot couldn’t wait for the door to hit Freston in the ass after 26 years. Yet he has the nerve to tell analysts today, “Last night, when we met, we assured each other we would remain the social friends we have always been.” Yeah, maybe on Mars. Back on Earth, Redstone can express all the confidence in the world that his company’s stock will rise in the wake of the changes. But investors sent the share price down 5.6%, making it the day’s worst S&P 500 performer.

Previous: The 411 On Tom Freston’s Firing

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The 411 On Tom Freston’s Firing

By | Tuesday September 5, 2006 @ 8:58am PDT

Just ask yourself these questions: Why is Sumner Redstone the only person on the planet who doesn’t believe he’s mortal? Could he be a bigger rat bastard for lopping off the head of his once fair-haired boy after only 9 months running the split-off company (and a 26-year veteran of parent company Viacom Inc.)? How does this octogenarian manage to keep getting rid of everybody (Frank Biondi, Mel Karmazin) who in the eyes of Wall Street looks like a logical successor because they’ve got the right CEO/Chairman stuff? What happens now to Freston flunkie Brad Grey whose knees must be wobbling with fear and loathing knowing his only protection is an iron-clad contract? Why would any institutional investor or individual shareholder hold Viacom Inc. considering Redstone’s increasingly erratic behavior as chairman? (They’re not stupid: the news pushed the company’s stock price down 5.6%, making it the worst S&P 500 performer.) Could there possibly be any happier human being today than Freston arch-enemy Les Moonves, who’s been going around town badmouthing Freston for (among other things) OKing that too-rich Dreamworks deal?

Previous: Who’s Crazier: Viacom or Tom Cruise?

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Nicolas Cage’s ‘The Wicker Man’ Bombs; Beaten By Mark Wahlberg’s ‘Invincible’

By | Saturday September 2, 2006 @ 9:44am PDT

LABOR DAY UPDATE: Nicolas Cage’s career continues in freefall as his new movie, The Wicker Man, bombed badly, opening only in 3rd place. The poorly reviewed film made just $2.8 million Friday and $3.5 million Saturday for what was an anemic $11.7 mil long Labor Day weekend. (Hey, Nic, your career is on life support after this, World Trade Center, The Weather Man, Lord of War, even The Ant Bully in which you had a voiceover. It’s high time to have that heart-to-heart huddle with your big deal CAA agent, Richard Lovett.) This is yet another Dead-On-Arrival pic for Warner Bros., which has had a disastrous Summer 2006. But Hollywood studios seem to endlessly tolerate failure, so there’s little chance that any of the brass will get bounced. That left Lionsgate’s high concept movie Crank, featuring no big stars, to open No. 2 with $3.3 mil Friday and $3.5 mil Saturday for what was a $12.4 mil long weekend. So that means Disney’s football flick Invincible starring Mark Wahlberg was Numero Uno its second weekend out, adding another $3 mil Friday and $4.5 mil Saturday. The pic ended the Fri-Sat-Sun-Mon with $15.5 mil (for a total $38.1 mil). Fox Searchlight’s critic fave Little Miss Sunshine did $1.8 mil Friday and $2.9 mil Saturday for what was another $9.9 mil weekend. Meanwhile, well-reviewed The Illusionist from Yari Film Group opened wider with 975 theaters, earning $1.5 mil and $2.3 mil Saturday … Read More »

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