Well, this is a surprise since I’m so accustomed to these things going the other way. I’m told that ICM has hired Andrea Nelson Meigs, who is Beyoncé’s CAA agent. According to sources, it looks like the singer, who’s being touted for an Oscar for her lead role in Dreamgirls, will leave CAA to follow her to ICM. Meigs starts Monday in the motion picture department. She is that rarity in Hollywood: an African-American agent. (Note to all you agency heads: you really, really need to start better diversifying your rosters of agents. This whole white-boys-rule thing you’ve got going is just wrong.) A child actress and a graduate of Duke Law, Meigs began her career in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office. Talk about a leap of faith — she left there for CAA’s mailroom where she paid her dues for 4 1/2 years until making agent in 2000. She’s married to entertainment lawyer John V. Meigs, Jr. The agent took a leave of absence from CAA last year after her daughter was born. A one-time child actress, Meigs appeared in an episode of the TV show White Shadow.
In other agency news, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan left UTA for CAA on the heels of his Lady In The Water tanking badly. Jim Carrey made the same jump during the summer after 15 years at UTA.
Deadline Hollywood Daily is back up, with a slightly different look to accomodate more advertising. There will be a lot of new features coming online, so stay tuned. This weekend, the site should pass 5 million page views after only eight months out.
This is a needed feature I’m starting for Saturdays: my round-up of what’s new and hot in entertainment from Village Voice Media alternative newspapers across the country. Trust these alt-weeklies to know about the best or worst stuff first. Every week, check out the links to movie, music, video game and TV-related articles and reviews in the VVM alt-weeklies located in Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Miami, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Nashville, Kansas City, St. Louis, Orange County (CA) & Broward/Palm Beach County (FL).
MOVIES: Recently Reviewed — Borat, Stranger Than Fiction, A Good Year, Fur, Fragments, The Magic Gloves, Volver, Babel, Climates, Saw III, Running With Scissors, Santa Clause 3, Death Of A President, Catch A Fire, Shortbus, The Prestige, Flags Of Our Fathers, Marie Antoinette, The Departed, Copying Beethoven, Deliver Us From Evil, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles, Infamous, Man of the Year, The Last King Of Scotland, The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Catch A Fire, Pittsburgh, Purvis of Overtown, Night of the White Pants, The Shoe Fairy, Things That Hang From Trees, Joni’s Promise, The Queen, Shark Park: The Heaviest Wave in California, Ten ‘Til Noon
Also: … Read More »
SUNDAY AM: I’m told it was another boffo box office weekend for Borat. The Fox spoof from the HBO comedy stylings of Sacha Baron Cohen raked in $9.7 million Friday and $11.3 mil for a $28.6 mil weekend and a new cume of $67.4 mil. Expanding from 837 to 2,566 theaters, Borat‘s gross receipts were up only 8%. Now there’s new media talk of a backlash. No matter, it’s thumpin’ every pic this weekend, including Sony’s Stranger Than Fiction starring Will Ferrell which was only the No. 4 movie with a $14.1 mil weekend opening from 2,264 playdates. (It earned $4.9 mil Friday and $5.7 mil Saturday.) But Fox’s A Good Year with Oscar-nominated Ridley Scott directing Oscar-winner Russell Crowe — is a bad, bad bomb. It’s just the #10 movie after eking out only $1.2 mil from 2,066 theaters Friday and $1.5 mil Saturday for just a $3.7 mil weekend. Ouch! I think moviegoers didn’t want to see one of Hollywood’s finest dramatic actors play against type, more than they’re fed up with Crowe’s bad-boy offscreen act. (Still, everybody’d better duck when Russell gets the bad news today.) Back to Borat, Fox suits look smart letting it build on buzz instead of just opening wide and playing in half-empty theaters. Overseas, Borat is bullying the competition with an international launch weekend of $18.6 million at only 993 playdates … Read More »
Peter Bart’s Variety column today asks the question, about Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, “Will the very community that understandably has been offended by Gibson’s inebriated diatribes be willing to pass fair judgment on his artistic contributions?” How interesting — because I asked that same question, and answered it, here back on September 24: Will Oscar Voters Judge Mel’s Film Fairly?
OK, here’s the latest tracking news from my gurus: 007′s Casino Royale which is getting good reviews, is “getting to be huge” for Sony/MGM. But Warner Bros.’ Happy Feet “still has the family seasonal edge.” Anyway, it’s too close to call between them for who’ll be on top the weekend of November 16th. For Thanksgiving weekend, Disney / Buena Vista’s Deja Vu looks big for Tony Scott directing Denzel Washington in another Jerry Bruckheimer actioner. After that, Fox’s Deck the Halls, New Line’s Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny with Jack Black, and Oscar-touted Bobby from Emilio Estevez and MGM/The Weinstein Co., will all go the way of their own niche market. For December 1st, only The Nativity Story, New Line’s bid for The Passion Of The Christ audience, is tracking in the middle of the country.
FYI: As DHD approaches 5 million page views since the site went up in March, its look is going to change ever so slightly next week so it can accomodate a lot more advertising. I’ve made certain this won’t interfere with the content. Many thanks.
I heard about this around 5 pm today, then tried to find out details why threatened ex-journalist Anita Busch (and her lawyers) decided to include the ex-CAA chairman and ex-Disney president in her civil lawsuit against Anthony Pellicano and others for directing, organizing, commanding, employing and/or hiring individuals to engage in what is only generally described as “unlawful and tortious conduct”. When no details were forthcoming, I waited to post because I think news like this needs details. But the Los Angeles Times, without getting any details either, put the news on its website tonight. So there you have it. There isn’t really much more to say now (though I have a myriad thoughts about this, obviously). In the meantime, for background on Busch, and what happened to her, here’s my LA Weekly column from June 23, 2005, headlined Requiem For Anita Busch.
My new column, Deal Or No Deal, compares what’s happening with Eli Broad, Ron Burkle and David Geffen and the Los Angeles Times/Tribune Co. to NBC’s hit game show and asks the question: Broad, Burkle, Geffen… when it comes to the Times, whose briefcase is bigger? (Thursday’s New York Times also looks at Geffen’s interest in buying the paper. But the story has nothing new in it.) In my view, more and more, the newspaper on Spring Street is beginning to resemble Deal or No Deal. Forget all those ink-stained news males: bring on the female eye candy. Or better yet, the really rich guys. Hollywood mogul David Geffen is still an enthusiastic contestant to buy the Los Angeles Times; in fact, he’s so eager he’s already planning what he’ll do once he owns it (more on that below). Like any great game show, though, the stakes just got raised. Today, two other Los Angeles billionaires, investor tycoon Eli Broad and supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, have opened their briefcases. Only this time, fueled either by local pride or a lower-than-expected sale price, Broad and Burkle jointly submitted a bid to acquire the Times’ big-media, loser parent Tribune Co. In terms of fortunes, Eli Broad’s is valued at $5.6 billion; Ron Burkle’s at $2.5 billion, David Geffen’s at $4.6 billion. Broad and Burkle could outgame Geffen by buying the entire parent company first, whereas David only … Read More »
My latest column, Stars Get Caught In Hirsch’s Hornets Nest, is my exclusive account all about the names dropping and allegations flying as showbiz legal eagle Barry Hirsch sits in L.A. Superior Court. Here’s how it begins:
“Even on Oscar night, it’s hard to imagine talent like Owen Wilson, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Antonio Banderas, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jane Fonda, Bernie Mac, Rob Schneider, Baz Luhrmann, Dick Donner, Francis Ford Coppola, Barry Levinson and Peter Berg together in one place. But that’s happening now, at least figuratively, in nondescript Room 313 of the Stanley Mosk Courthouse, where two law firms are slugging it out before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert H. O’Brien. The nonjury trial will decide how to divvy up the money from the Hollywood deals they both claim as their own. Though only Penn, Coppola and Levinson have testified so far, some 200 stars and 500 projects are being scrutinized in the proceedings, which began on October 18 and will probably continue through Thanksgiving. So far, it hasn’t generated a single media story because none of the firms involved want publicity about it, fearing their star clientele might pitch fits. Also because, if reporters did get wind of the trial, it would be fodder as much for Entertainment Tonight and US magazine as for the Hollywood trades and legal journals. The lawsuit, first … Read More »
Latest news on the Los Angeles Times front: Reportedly, Los Angeles billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle have jointly submitted a bid to acquire Tribune Co., owner of television stations, newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Cubs baseball team. The offer was made through affiliates of Mr. Broad’s family-owned investment company and Mr. Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos..
Upcoming will be my latest column on all the LA Times news.
Not exactly a surprise, especially to my readers. So now let’s see who has the guts to quit in solidarity (LA Times Editors Loyal To Baquet Said To Have A ‘Suicide Pact’), eh? UPDATE: * Well, Doug Frantz and Leo Wolinsky say they’re staying, but no one’s heard yet from Baquet pal John Montorio…* Well, with Baquet’s ouster, that’s one less thing David Geffen has to do when he buys the Los Angeles Times. The announcement was going to be made tomorrow, since it doesn’t make sense to disrupt the newsroom in the middle of the midterm elections. But it leaked.
The new editor of the LA Times is journeyman editor and reporter James O’Shea, managing editor of the Chicago Tribune since 2001, who worked closely with the current LAT publisher James Hiller at the Tribune when Hiller was that paper’s publisher. When O’Shea was upped from deputy managing editor for news in 2001, his Chicago Tribune boss, Ann Marie Lipinski, senior vice president and editor of the newspaper, called him “an exquisite journalist and an editor of near-impeccable judgement. He is a connoisseur of the toughest reporting and the finest writing, a journalist who can produce both and knows how to encourage it in others.” Before that, O’Shea, 62, had been deputy managing editor for news since October 1995. He previously served as the Tribune’s associate managing editor for foreign and national news. A … Read More »
Here’s the link to The New York Times annual Holiday Movies preview featuring the makings of a New York Oscar campaign, Emma Thompson, Will Smith, a brand new flock of penguins and more. And, all I can say, is: I’m issuing a personal invitation to David Carr to get out more – like, way out, like leave New York City and visit Los Angeles. Because the media columnist writes that, when it comes to Oscar PR: ”Films may be produced and made in Hollywood, but come October and November the center of gravity shifts, and they are remade in the crucible of New York. With just 600 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in New York, compared with about 4,000 in Los Angeles, the city might seem to play big for its size, but it is home to the culture-and-celebrity media, where momentum or certain death can be bestowed with a few keystrokes… If they can make it here, well, is a dance with Oscar at the end of February far behind? ” And then, lower down in his article (NYT photo illustration above), Carr reverses himself: “The Oscar-night victory of the L.A.-centric Crash of course provides a vivid counter-example to New York’s taste-making primacy.” Which leads me to ask: Are NYC media too big for their britches, or are they just Hollywood’s bitches? The … Read More »
UPDATED Sunday AM: Wow, were all those box office guru predictions for this weekend wrong! I’m told Fox’s Borat, though playing in just 837 theaters, shocked the experts and became the No. 1 movie in the U.S. HBO cable funnyman Sacha Baron Cohen’s spoof took in a staggering $9.1 million Friday and $10 mil Saturday for what was at least an opening weekend of $26.1 million and, if Sunday holds, closer to $27 mil. (Those estimates of $30 mil by some media were overly optimistic. As usual, weekend numbers include Sunday estimates.) Playing in four times as many theaters for the weekend, #2 Disney’s Santa Clause 3 opened at $20 mil, and Paramount / Dreamworks’ Flushed Away finished 3rd with $19.1 mil although rival studios put the figure at $18.7 mil. Based on the anecdotal evidence that came in to me about long lines at the box office, sold-out screenings, people sneaking out of work early just to see the movie, and fans driving more than an hour to find a theater showing the pic, I believe Borat was standing room only. I think the moviegoers weren’t just rolling in the aisles, they were sitting in the aisles, for the film to make this much money. Indeed, the per screen average for Friday was a whopping $10,535 and $11,950 Saturday. (Only Pedro Almodovar’s Volver, the Sony Classics pic … Read More »
Wow, massive print coverage on Tom Cruise’s takeover of United Artists, but little of it as cynical as my posting yesterday how this was hardly more than out of the box PR-think by slapping a studio name onto a housekeeping deal and grabbing positive headlines for the tarnished star. Isn’t everyone and their mother finding outside financing these days? I also feel the need to point out that, as a production company, Cruise/Wagner over the years has been surprisingly glacial in getting projects underway, considering they could get almost anything they wanted done at Paramount and any other studio, and also considering CAA genuflected to them on a regular basis. Why in the world weren’t they more productive as producers? That said, I’ve received emails asking me for the 411 on Tom’s partner, Paula Wagner. OK, here goes: she started out as an actress. After working in New York theater, Wagner moved to Los Angeles and hoped-for stardom, but had to settle for a few bit parts of television. Her agent, Susan Smith, had seen some of the best in the business (Sally Field, Kathleen Turner and Glenn Close) because of her acumen for spotting talent, and Smith quickly recognized that, as an actress, Wagner was only mediocre. After a year of trying to jump-start Paula’s career, Smith finally called Wagner into her office. “Go away over the weekend and think about what I say to you. You … Read More »
Count on Sony not to miss a merchandising opportunity now that James Bond is in the ‘hood. In celebration of the 21st 007 film Casino Royale, Sony Electronics oh-so-proudly urges consumers to buy its product tie-ins, aka the Limited Edition James Bond 007 Spy Gear. The “Bond-branded beauties” — how much time did an ad copywriter spend thinking up that alliteration? — include tricked out (and slicked-out) laptops, micro PCs, digital cameras and flash drives. Barf.
UPDATE: The 411 On Tom’s Partner Paula Wagner
So I exhaustingly spend the entire night working, and finally go to sleep in the wee hours, and I wake up late to rudely find out that Tom Cruise will run United Artists? Am I still dreaming? My first thought is that this may be the vanity deal to end all vanity deals. Years ago, it seemed big when Kevin Costner got a hot tub in his offices at Warner Bros. What’s next: George Clooney gets a fat slice of Australia if he partners with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox? Well, one thing’s for sure: great way to bitchslap Sumner Redstone, eh, Tommy Boy? We all knew that hedge fund financing stuff was just filler. Major congrats to CAA and Bert Fields and Harry Sloan (and the Scientology folks) for thinking out of the box PR-wise, first by returning UA to its celeb roots, and then by slapping a studio name onto a housekeeping deal and grabbing positive headlines for the tarnished star. Isn’t everyone and their mother finding outside financing these days? Now the lunatics are literally running the asylum (though it’s really only four films a year). This is gonna be a ton of fun to watch. In the meantime, here’s the text of the press release from MGM on this relaunch of United Artists studio:
“LOS ANGELES, Nov. 2 — United Artists, the studio founded … Read More »