Check Out Our New Look

Will Smith’s ‘Pursuit Of Happyness’ #1 Friday; ‘Eragon’ #2, ‘Charlotte’s Web’ #3; Mel Gibson’s ‘Apocalypto’ Falls to 6th

By | Saturday December 16, 2006 @ 12:24am PST


SUNDAY AM: Holiday spirit ruled the box office, especially for Sony which scored its 13th No. 1 release this weekend and passed $1.573 billion in 2006 box office receipts — setting a new motion picture industry record for U.S. box office in a single year. I’m told Sony’s The Pursuit Of Happyness, even playing in fewer theaters than the competition, pit Will Smith (and his real-life son) against a dragon and spider and won its opening weekend with a big $27 million ticket receipts. The film made $9 mil Fri and $10.5 mil Sat (Sundays are projected). Also strong was the Harry Potter clone Eragon from Fox which debuted in 2nd place with a $23.6 mil weekend — $8.6 mil Fri and $8.7 mil Sat. Charlotte’s Web, the Babe lookalike from Paramount, opened #3 with $12.0 mil, after taking in $3.4 mil Fri and $4.6 mil Sat because of the matinee kiddie bounce. Even after five weeks outs, Warner’s Happy Feet again got the rug rats en masse, jumping from 6th place, with $2 mil Fri, to 4th place, with $3.7 mil Sat, for an $8.5 mil weekend ($149.4 mil cume). Sony’s one-week holdover The Holiday fell from 4th on Fri, with $2.6 mil, to 5th Sat, with $3.2 mil, for a weekend of $8.2 mil, and cume of $25.3 mil. Apocalypto, Disney’s R-rated Mel Gibson Mayan epic, finished 5th Fri with $2.2 mil (-54%) but fell to 6th after Sat’s $3.1 mil, to add a $7.7 mil weekend to its one-week cume … Read More »

Comments (0)

Even More Abhorrent ‘Apprentice’: Losers Live In Tents In Beverly Hills Backyard

By | Friday December 15, 2006 @ 5:15pm PST

donaldtrump.jpgI didn’t think it was possible for NBC’s The Apprentice, or Donald Trump’s shtick, to get even more abhorrent. Boy, was I wrong! First, I’m surprised anyone will bother watching it January 7th, opening the sixth season  — this time, based in Los Angeles (since last spring’s show drew less than half of 2004′s Season 1 average). Anyway, TV Guide has the 411 on what will be new: most disgusting is that each week’s winning team will luxe it up in a Beverly Hills mansion, while the losers are in hell sleeping in two tents in the backyard without hot showers. Said Trump: “One of the great rewards is living like a king, as opposed to living like a dog.” I’m nauseous thinking about it.

Previous:  Hey, Donald, You Should Be Fired

Comments (0)

Tracking: Pig/Will/Dragon Battle For #1; ‘Night At Museum’ Next Xmas Biggie?

By | Friday December 15, 2006 @ 4:34pm PST


I’m told, for this weekend, Fox’s Harry Potter clone Eragon is tracking “strong” with boys, and Paramount’s Babe-like Charlotte’s Web “strong” with girls, while Sony’s Forrest Gump feel-good flick, The Pursuit of Happyness, nightatthemuseumbig21.jpglooks to draw both sexes and all ages because of subject matter and starrer Will Smith. Certainly Web has the theater count advantage — 3,566 compared to Eragon‘s 3,020 and Pursuit‘s 2,852. Predictions are Pursuit and Eragon with $20+ million, and Web in high teens. Warner’s The Good German platforms in five theaters, and Paramount/Dreamworks’ Dreamgirls in three venues. Box office gurus tell me it’s “usually not a good sign” that Apocalypto has been dropping each weekday — Mon $1.5 mil, Tues $1.3 mil, Wed $1.2 mil, and Thurs. But, looking at the weekend of December 22nd, tracking shows that Fox’s Night at the Museum could be the big moneymaker among movies released right around Christmas. Pics should finish in this order that weekend: Museum, followed by Rocky Balboa (MGM, which moved up its release date), We Are Marshall (Warner) and The Good Shepherd (Universal).

Comments (0)

Africa As The New Canada For Filmmaking

By | Friday December 15, 2006 @ 6:35am PST

blooddiamond.jpgTonight on Leno, Leo DiCaprio talked a lot about the Blood Diamond shoot — how he fell in love with Africa and spent some of the most unforgettable moments of his life there. ”From the slums of Kenya, to the once-genocidal streets of Rwanda, to the villages of Mozambique, Hollywood has embraced Africa — as a place to shoot films and as a source of fresh dramatic themes.” So says The Washington Post in a new article datelined from the Namib Desert, Namibia. Now this is runaway production I don’t mind. “AIDS, apartheid, crime, gunrunning, murderous militias in Darfur and the misdeeds of the pharmaceutical industry all have been featured in films shot in Africa over the past few years. And as the themes have broadened, the film industry also has pushed beyond its traditional African home in Cape Town in favor of more challenging settings.” Leo also noted that, despite AIDS and extreme poverty, “the people would dance in the streets” and it gave him a new perspective when he returned home. For more about Blood Diamond’s African shoot, see my previous: Director Ed Zwick Says Production Set Up Private Africa Fund

Comments (0)

Vivendi Still GE/NBC Uni’s Silent Partner

By | Friday December 15, 2006 @ 6:08am PST

So the latest Hollywood perk seems to be a silent partner. A real silent partner. Vivendi has decided to keep its 20% stake in NBC Universal and extend its GE deal. Bloomberg reports the Paris-based company emailed a statement today that it won’t exercise an option to sell part of its holding in January. Vivendi’s right to ask for a share sale of NBC Universal was expanded, and now can be exercised in November of every year from 2007 to 2016. GE’s option to buy Vivendi’s interest can be exercised in May of each year from 2011 to 2017 with a minimum price of $8.3 billion. The purchase amount will increase each year from May 2009 and is based on the U.S. Consumer Price Index, Bloomberg quoted Vivendi as saying. Vivendi also has annual options to sell portions of its holding in the venture to General Electric. The size of the first year’s option was raised to $4 billion from $3 billion and remains $4 billion in subsequent years. Again, thanks to Bloomberg.

Comments (0)

Jen And Ben Nixed For ’24′ Guest Spots?

By | Friday December 15, 2006 @ 3:44am PST

alongcamepolly-stiller-aniston1.jpgCan this really be true? WENN entertainment news wire is reporting that Jennifer Aniston has been snubbed in her bid to land a guest spot on her supposedly favorite TV drama 24. “The former Friends star reportedly put her name forward for a part in the show but producers turned her down flat – because she’s ‘too recognisable’. Executive producer Joel Surnow says, ‘You can’t put those people on (the show) because they’re too recognizable. They’ll take you (viewers) out of the reality.’ Aniston wasn’t the only big name to be turned down for a role in 24 by producers - Ben Stiller was also deemed too famous for the show.” All I can say is, HUH? Didn’t anyone ever tell these producers there’s such a thing as TV sweeps’ stunt casting? I’m trying to confirm, but everyone’s at Christmas parties…

Comments (0)

Sadly, These Things Come In Threes…

By | Friday December 15, 2006 @ 1:07am PST

Ahmet Ertegun, Peter Boyle, Robert Altman.

Comments (0)

Geffen Offers $2 Bil For Los Angeles Times

By | Thursday December 14, 2006 @ 6:08pm PST

So David Geffen made a formal all-cash offer of $2 bil — less than half of his $4.6 estimated net worth — for the Los Angeles Times last month, and parent company Tribune has declined to accept or reject the bid. So says the oracle on Spring Street today. As you know, billionaires Eli Broad and Ron Burkle, the conservative arm of the Chandler family, and god knows who else, are also interested in scooping up the paper. The price Geffen wants to pay exactly confirms what sources have been telling me for months: this is what the Hollywood mogul thinks the LAT is worth. Over the past months, I’ve been reporting about Geffen’s plans in more detail than the Wall Street Journal‘s recent Geffen interview. DHD readers already knew that Dreamgirls is David’s last hurrah in Hollywood because he’s sick of the movie biz, or that he’ll do whatever it takes to build up the LAT into a pre-eminent newspaper.

Read my previous posts and columns: NYT vs LAT On Subject Of David GeffenDavid Geffen’s Changes For The LA TimesDavid Geffen, Chicago calling On Line 1LA Times: Sleepers At David Geffen’sGeffen “Confident” of LAT Buy, David Geffen/LAT

Comments (0)

This Is A Golden Globes Hype-Free Zone

By | Thursday December 14, 2006 @ 9:44am PST

I predict that, once again, whoever lobbied the so-called Hollywood Foreign Press Association the hardest will win. Which is why the Globes are never an accurate forecast of Oscar nominations. And, while I’m on the subject, be aware that the motley crew who belong to the scandal-riddled HFPA won’t grant membership to the real international journalists who work for the prestige newspapers across the world. Which is why I, for one, refuse to hype the HFPA’s b.s. every year.

Comments (0)

Strike By Canadian Actors Looms North: Mandate Could Come As Soon As Friday

By | Thursday December 14, 2006 @ 5:26am PST

Canadian actors could strike next month if they can’t reach a deal with the country’s film and TV producers. According to the Montreal Gazette, if the actors do hit the picket lines, it could halt all Hollywood shooting in most of the country and also cripple local production. Some say the threat of a strike is already scaring away American film producers. Variety reported claims that two big-budget Hollywood films, The Pink Panther 2 and National Treasure II: The Book of Secrets, are skipping Toronto and Montreal because of the prospect of an actors’ strike. But the Montreal Gazette reports that Los Angeles studios will be rushing to make extra movies in Canada in the next six months in order to stockpile flicks before the possible major strikes stateside. Reps from ACTRA (the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists), Canada’s main actors’ union, and the country’s two producers’ associations are meeting in Toronto to try to negotiate a new collective agreement. But the talks, which began in late October, have mostly consisted of name-calling so far, the newspaper says, and the two sides have yet to even formally discuss any of the major issues. ACTRA has sent its 11,000 voting members a strike ballot and the union will know by Friday whether or not it has a strike mandate. The current collective agreement between the actors and the producers expires on December 31st and ACTRA could strike after that if Read More »

Comments (0)

Jeff Zucker Should Bitchslap Himself

By | Wednesday December 13, 2006 @ 10:05pm PST


I’m so fed up with these overpaid blowhards who run the entertainment biz. Especially the ones who do a mea culpa for the crap they program and use “we” instead of “I” when pinpointing who’s to blame. Here’s a perfect example: NBC Uni’s (undeservedly) heir apparant Jeff Zucker speaking to the press after his recent presentation at Credit Suisse: “For 10 years, NBC was a huge driver of GE’s success and the last two years it’s been tougher. But I thank GE’s ability to weather the storm and be patient with us. We’ve got to do better going forward. We owe it to GE. We’ve got to do better for them. We’ve got to execute.” (Two years? Uh, the real number is five years: because 12 months after Zucker was upped from a TV news producer to NBC’s chief entertainment programmer, the network officially went into the toilet.) Meanwhile, NBC Uni will increase profit by as much as 5 percent next year, GE CEO Jeff Immelt claimed today at a meeting with shareholders. He believes the network is improving its prime-time content and remains a valuable asset to the parent company even though profit has declined for four straight quarters at NBC Uni. ”I like what the team’s done in content this year. This has been job one,” Immelt said. “Prime-time has improved. No, the job’s not done yet.” NBC tied for second place in network television sweeps in November, after finishing last season in fourth place among viewers age 18 to … Read More »

Comments (0)

Peter Chernin Bitchslaps Fox TV Execs

By | Wednesday December 13, 2006 @ 9:15pm PST

As everyone knows, the Fox network primetime really blows from Sept through Dec. This year was even worse than previous years: every new show tanked. The uber-expensive kidnap drama Vanished and sitcom Happy Hour were both yanked, and Justice is just playing itself out. Two other low-rated shows, the Brad Garrett / Joely Fisher sitcom ‘Til Death, and drama Standoff, are on life support. Ridiculous how the whole place goes to hell until American Idol starts up again. So, at the recent UBS global media confab, News Corp. Prez Peter Chernin took the opportunity to bitch-slap his network TV programming execs — and, amazingly, it went unreported: “We’ve got to be moving the ball forward. We’ve got to be making progress, and we didn’t make any progress this fall… I’m not at all nervous about our relative position. I still feel really good about our competitive position. We won the season last year. We won the summer. And we’ve had a lousy fall. That being said, we’re not satisfied with the fall. Running a network, you’d like to have the ability to create successful new shows. And we haven’t created successful new shows. We’ve essentially canceled three of five new shows… We’d like to do better. We will do better.” Oh yes, he did add, “I have tremendous confidence in the team here.” Anyone really believe him?

Comments (0)

Warren Beatty, Up Close & Too Personal

By | Wednesday December 13, 2006 @ 7:32pm PST

Bonhams and Butterfields will be holding a Los Angeles mega-auction of entertainment memorabilia, including animation art, on December 17th. Some of the cooler items include all the Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland and Greta Garbo paraphernalia. But, without doubt, my personal favorite is Lot No. 1055: a Warren Beatty archive of personal papers dating back to 1957-1959. Apparently this cache of ephemera that Beatty saved when he was a struggling actor in his early 20s in NYC was found abandoned in a hotel suite over 45 years ago. There’s a lot, including a draft copy of a script from Splendor in the Grass (Beatty’s first film and stardom launching vehicle), mysterious and intimate letters he wrote to several people but never sent, a 1958 letter from sister Shirley MacLaine. I love the 1957 letter from his acting coach Stella Adler, who writes in part “I’m sorry that you want / something from me outside of my love for / you…(but) I cannot both help you and sponsor you. It / is not my job”. Also his 1958 datebook including page after page of his handwritten notes and countless appointments with doctors, dentists, voice teachers, acting coaches, hairdressers, and industry players (Stella Adler, Shirley MacLaine, Sidney Lumet, Peter Ustinov, Roddy MacDowall, MCA, Warner Bros., et al) as well as rehearsal times and “To Do” lists (“buy make-up, send flowers, get shoes, go to rehearsal,” etc). Warren, we hardly knew you… (FYI, … Read More »

Comments (0)

NYT vs LAT On Subject Of David Geffen

By | Wednesday December 13, 2006 @ 7:14pm PST

geffen10.jpgFrom LAObserved which was on scene: Patrick Goldstein and John Horn of the LAT, and Sharon Waxman and Laura Holson of the NYT, talked entertainment journalism last night at a Zócalo talkfest at the Central Library downtown. There was an interesting difference of opinion over David Geffen. The LAT men agreed that Geffen might be the best buyer for the embattled Los Angeles Times, with Goldstein offering that “this is a man who has always been associated with quality work.” Waxman pushed back, arguing that Geffen is a man Hollywood fears: “He holds a grudge. He gets even.” Goldstein stuck to his guns, even though he acknowledged that Geffen once went five years without talking to him and “can put a lot of negative energy into people.” Waxman concluded that the LAT staff is so battered by years of Tribune Co. mishandling that, ”They’ll take a flawed knight.”

Comments (0)

Busted! Oliver Stone Fined For Cuba Visit

By | Tuesday December 12, 2006 @ 4:44pm PST

fidel.JPGBusted! The feds have fined controversial director Oliver Stone in connection with his travel to Cuba to make documentaries about Fidel Castro. According to a tersely-worded Department of Treasury document from the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) released December 1st, and reported today by  Miami New Times, Stone’s Ixtlan production company and four individuals have agreed to pay $6,322.20 to “resolve allegations of violations of the Cuban embargo.” The violations occurred between February 2002 and May 2003. The report continues: “OFAC alleged that IXTLAN and four individuals dealt in services in which the government of Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest incident to the making of a documentary film. The matter was not voluntarily disclosed to OFAC.” Three-time Academy Award winner Stone, of course, is no stranger to Cuba; he produced two documentaries on the country’s leader. Comandante, a too-friendly look at Fidel digested from 30 hours of candid interviews that Stone conducted in Havana, had been planned to air on HBO, but the cable channel yanked it from the 2003 schedule after Castro jailed 75 dissidents and executed three men who had attempted to hijack a ferry. The documentary was overwhelmingly panned not just for its sympathetic POV but even more for Stone’s dumb questions and smarmy presence. The director ultimately went back to the island for more footage and the result was Looking For Fidel which did finally run on HBO in 2004. Under U.S. rules, … Read More »

Comments (0)

UPDATE: Co-Defendant Cops Guilty Plea In Pellicano Scandal; Big Victory For Feds

By | Tuesday December 12, 2006 @ 11:05am PST

danielnicherie.jpgUPDATED: Another one bit the dust at a hearing today. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles confirms that Daniel Nicherie, one of the six co-defendants in the wiretapping and racketeering case against thug Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano changed his plea to guilty to federal charges of aiding and abetting wiretapping in the scandal. Additionally, Nicherie pleaded guilty to three counts in another 2004 case, too. Sentencing in the consolidated cases is scheduled for March 5. He faces a maximum possible sentence of 35 years in federal prison. Nicherie becomes the seventh defendant to plead guilty in relation to the Pellicano investigation, and the fifth defendant to admit that Pellicano was engaged in wiretapping. According to Drew Combs of the legal newspaper Los Angeles Daily Journal, the plea change led attorneys connected to the case to speculate he is cooperating with prosecutors after the government went after him pretty hard. ”He could be very helpful if he is cooperating,” Laurie L. Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School who has followed the case, told Combs. “He can testify to what clients knew about Pellicano’s actions.” Nicherie and his brother Abner Nicherie, another co-defendant in the case, are alleged to have hired the private investigator to wiretap Ami Shafrir, an Israeli businessman who has said the Nicherie brothers defrauded him of millions of dollars. Pellicano and Daniel Nicherie are the only defendants in custody in the P.I. scandal. Nicherie has been locked up since March 2004, relating … Read More »

Comments (0)

Film Critic Picks That Academy Can Ignore

By | Monday December 11, 2006 @ 11:03am PST

You know, of course, that these film critics and their yearly picks have little impact on Oscar voters, who revel in their contrariness. Nevertheless, far be it from me to ignore this media exercise in futility. So here are the latest winners for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Animated Picture, Best Documentary, Best Foreign Picture:

NY Film Critics Circle: United 93, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Martin Scorsese, Jennifer Hudson, Jackie Earle Haley, Peter Morgan, Happy Feet, Deliver Us From Evil, Army Of Shadows

LA Film Critics Assn: Letters From Iwo Jima, Helen Mirren, Sacha Baron Cohen/Forest Whitaker, Paul Greengrass, Luminita Gheorghiu, Michael Sheen, Peter Morgan, Happy Feet, An Inconvenient Truth, The Lives Of Others

National Board of Review of Motion Pictures: Letters From Iwo Jima, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Martin Scorsese, Catherine O’Hara, Djimon Hounsou, Peter Morgan, Cars, An Inconvenient Truth, Volver

Washington DC Area Film Critics: United 93, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Martin Scorsese, Jennifer Hudson, Djimon Hounsou, Michael Arndt, Happy Feet, An Inconvenient Truth, Pan’s Labrynth

Boston Society of Film Critics: The Departed, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Martin Scorsese, Shareeka Epps, Mark Wahlberg, William Monahan, (none), Shut Up And Sing/Deliver Us From Evil, Pan’s Labrynth

New York Film Critics Online: The Queen, Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Stephen Frears, Jennifer Hudson/Catherine O’Hara, Michael Sheen, Peter Morgan, Happy Feet, An Inconvenient Truth, Pan’s Labrynth

Comments (0)

Weinsteins & MGM To Release Xmas Crap

By | Sunday December 10, 2006 @ 7:03pm PST

blackchristmas_poster2big.jpgShame, shame, shame on Harvey and Bob Weinstein, and their distributor MGM’s Harry Sloan, for opening a holiday-themed slasher movie on Christmas Day. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the ads and release date for Black Christmas from Dimension/MGM. The promos even make fun of “people who express outrage” as well as the plot’s body count. And the entertainment industry wonders why it continues to have a huge PR problem as promoters of garbage? Showbiz marketing calls this counter-programming. Still, I don’t understand: just how many disturbed human beings does The Weinstein Company and MGM think actually want to go see a gory movie on December 25th — specifically, a remake of a 1974 horror flick in which a college sorority house is terrorized by a psycho who makes frightening phone calls and murders the girls during the holiday break. Is the intended audience supposed to be non-Christians? Really, investors in The Weinstein Company, and MGM, need to protest this deplorable decision. It should be noted that, in 2003, the Weinsteins made Bad Santa, a distasteful comedy which at least wasn’t released on Christmas Day. Among the few other Christmas-themed slasher movies (none released on December 25th) were little-seen Santa Claws (1996), and Santa’s Slay (2005, Lionsgate) and 1984′s Silent Night, Deadly Night, released by TriStar and so repugnant that it prompted protests at theaters where it was shown. Unfortunately, the latter did big box office and spawned 4 sequels. Moviegoers, don’t let this happen again.

Comments (0)

Disney’s New Oscar Campaign For Mel: He’s “Not As Bad As Roman Or Woody”

By | Sunday December 10, 2006 @ 12:50pm PST


OK, I wish this were a bad joke, but it’s real: Disney’s new and quiet Oscar campaigning for Mel Gibson is to convince Academy members that he’s “not as bad as Roman or Woody.” Specifically, I’m told that, to plead with Oscar voters “to look at Mel the artist and not Mel the man”, the studio is saying that Gibson’s drunken anti-Semitic ranting was not as bad as Polanski having sex “with an underage girl”, or Allen having sex “with his step-daughter”. Disney is also pointing to Elia Kazan’s role “naming names” before the Hollywood Un-American Activities Committee to try to bring what Mel did into perspective when it comes to judging Apocalypto. I should point out this is part of a modest attempt by Disney to snag some key nominations for the film. It’s long been my belief that if a litmus test were given for behavior, nobody would ever work in Hollywood again. Nevertheless, I just don’t think Oscar campaigning that underscores the character flaws of other film directors will work.

Previous: Mel Wins Opening Weekend: #1 ‘Apocalypto’ Bigger Than ’Braveheart’;

Comments (0)
More Deadline | Hollywood »
« Previous Deadline | Hollywood