Creative Artists Agency has just suffered a major blow. I’m told that Matt Leinart, the Hollywood handsome Arizona Cardinal quarterback who was a USC star and 2004 Heisman Trophy winner, has fired CAA. I first heard a rumor there was trouble in their marketing relationship early this month, but at the time I was assured by sources close to Leinart that he was still in the CAA fold. Today, I received confirmation that Leinart has severed future marketing ties with the Hollywood agency. Interestingly, this is almost a year to the day that I was the first to report that Leinart signed with CAA’s then brand new football agent Tom Condon and, in the process, left Newport Beach sports agent Leigh Steinberg. Stealing Leinart was the first official act of CAA Sports, intent on entering the sports contract business in a big way. At the time, CAA already repped Leinart for marketing deals, but Leinart’s move to Condon brought all of Leinart’s representation, his football contract and all his marketing pursuits (like off-the-field endorsements, licensing, autograph shows and public appearances), under the CAA umbrella. Read More »
The “Best of the West” journalism competition, recognized as the West’s most prestigious, is designed to reward journalistic excellence and to promote freedom of information. It is administered by the nonprofit First Amendment Funding and draws entries each year from journalists in the 13 states west of the Rockies:
Category: General Interest Column Writing
Third Place: Nikki Finke, LA Weekly
Blood From Stones (11-1-06)
Cash and Carrey (9-20-06)
War of the Words (8-22-06)
“Judge’s comments: Nikki Finke of LA Weekly works a beat utterly foreign to the judge and brings home the back story so compellingly, writing so authoritatively, that I’m surprised some studio head hasn’t had her knocked off. If you want to keep a secret in Hollywood, keep it far from this woman. Her painstakingly constructed account of a smear effort against the movie Blood Diamond by the diamond cartel gives readers a clear window into the machinations of big-money public relations. Her account of Jim Carrey dumping his agent reads like a TV script. In fact, she acknowledges such and proves the point. There is dish and then there is deep dish. Nikki Finke serves up the latter.”
Previous: 1st Place: 2006 AltWeekly Media Reporting/Criticism Award
Thumbs up to America’s foremost film critic. Tomorrow night, recovering cancer patient Roger Ebert will demonstrate he’s the class act of journalism when he attends his 9th annual “Overlooked Film Festival” at the University of Illinois at Urbana. He awaits another surgery to restore his speech. But the Chicago Sun-Times and TV film critic won’t have to say a word to demonstrate his tremendous courage not to hide his illness. “I have received a lot of advice that I should not attend the festival,” he writes. “I’m told that paparazzi will take unflattering pictures, people will be unkind, etc. Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Read More »
I’m told that two of Israel’s largest movie distributors are making it difficult for film critics to attend preview screenings because the critiques are considered bad for opening weekend business. So I have to ask: first Israel, and eventually the U.S.? Israeli film critic and blogger Yair Raveh emails me to complain that Sony’s Spider-Man 3 (to be released in Israel on May 3rd, a day before the U.S.), New Line’s Fracture (to be released also on May 3rd) and The Weinstein Co.’s Death Proof (Quentin Tarantino’s half of Grindhouse, to be released May 31st) will roll out with almost minimal press coverage. Raveh explains that Forum Film (Israel’s largest theatre-chain operator and the local distributor for Disney, Miramax, TWC and New Line) and AD Matalon (the local distributors for Sony and Fox) have been trying to shoo critics away. ”As a film critic myself, I’m aware that a critic’s influence on box office is minimal, if at all. But once you alienate all media outlets to your movies, and get almost zero press coverage on opening weekend (apart from the odd foreign press junket), your movies become invisible,” Raveh writes me. Interesting, huh? Some studios are telling me Raveh is just a troublemaker. I’ve heard that before…
UPDATE: The folks at Sony Pictures almost had a collective coronary today. The studio is denying a Reuters report out of Beijing that pirated DVDs of Spider-Man 3 are already showing up in China. ”My understanding is they are selling Spider-Man 2 disks with SM3 packaging,” a source tells me. Sony just issued this statement: “Contrary to news reports about stolen copies of Spider-Man 3 being sold illegally on the streets in China, our investigation in China has revealed no case of the film being pirated to date. Similar hoaxes and false alarms have occurred prior to the release of other major films. We have uncovered examples of Spider-Man 2 being sold in Spider-Man 3 boxes in China. But thus far we can find no instance where Spider-Man 3 has appeared on DVD. In addition, after an initial investigation of online sites worldwide, we have so far found no pirated copies of Spider-Man 3 on the Internet. This incident underscores one of the problems with piracy – people who buy illegal movies often get ripped off themselves.” I was told the strategy behind Sony opening Spider-Man 3 in China on May 3, a day before releasing it on the U.S. market, was to get out ahead of piracy as much as to create global excitement. (The movie had its world premiere in Tokyo on April 16th, photo above.) But Reuters erroneously … Read More »
30 Rock‘s Alec Baldwin has now passed through every major Hollywood agency. (He left CAA today). In ten-percent parlance, this is known as being “an agency whore”.
I’m told that maverick film director Lasse Hallstrom left CAA and returned yesterday to United Talent and agents there Tracy Jacobs, Shana Eddy, Jeremy Zimmer. But Hallstrom’s CAA motion picture lit agent, Spencer Baumgarten, doesn’t know it yet. I called over to 2000 Avenue Of The Stars, and his office thinks he still reps the helmer. (Oops!) Hallstrom directed Richard Gere in the new and well-reviewed Miramax pic about Howard Hughes’ bogus biographer Clifford Irving, The Hoax.
This is either awfully amusing, or amusingly awful. Granted, Paramount Vantage’s Black Snake Moan deserved to die at the box office because of its offensive advertising. But perhaps this political parody would have fared better because the poster is just damn funny, with its tag line “He’s got her on a short leash” — especially given the latest news reports about the intense Obama vs Hillary battle for campaign funds, endorsements and now black politicians’ support.
The official poster of the 60th Cannes Film Festival May 16-27, showing from top, director Souleymane Cisse; middle row from left, actress Penelope Cruz, Director Wong Kar Wai, actress Juliette Binoche, director Jane Campion, actor Gerard Depardieu; front row from left, actor Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Director Pedro Almodovar jumping in the air in this Magnum Alex Majoli’s photograph, redesigned by Christopher Renard.
News reports say prolific author and one of journalism’s leading luminaries, David Halberstam, has been killed in a car accident in Menlo Park near San Francisco.
While others write nonsense about where agents go to eat, I’ll continue to talk about what agents actually do. And especially what they do to each other. I’m told that senior agent Kevin Iwashina, a respected indie/packaging rep inside the Film Finance Department (aka the Independent Group, which employs about a half-dozen film agents) and a 10-year veteran of that Hollywood agency, won’t be commuting to 2000 Avenue Of the Stars anymore. His office confirmed to me today he’s leaving very shortly, and this is sparking talk that CAA is trimming indie agents. Unlike a lot of CAA footsoldiers, Iwashina was allowed to develop an outside identity, speaking to reporters about his job packaging and representing independently financed films and international co-productions. He also has a leadership position in the showbiz gay community. Next week, he moderates the “GLBT Networking in Hollywood” panel at the Equality Forum’s 10th Annual National Media Panel. I hear the partners claim Iwashina was abusive towards an underling (puh-leeze, like that never happens in Hollywood…), but others say it’s a feeble excuse to stop paying another expensive agent’s salary considering CAA’s new cost-cutting moves. I hear more high profile (and high paid) CAA agents are fighting to keep their jobs.
TV Bigwig Lee Gabler About To Leave CAA
… Read More »
It’s not even hours old, yet already New York Magazine‘s new entertainment blog is failing to give credit where credit is due. One of the lead items is about Harry Potter’s upcoming theme park for Universal Studios, which was my scoop back on April 13th. But NYM fails to note that. Not a very auspicious launch of the aptly named “Vulture” which clearly is feeding off the work of others. I’ve looked it over and I fail to see any news, just the usual warmed-over snark that fills up blogs these days. Here’s its description: ”Users can expect both immediate access to entertainment and opinionated analysis of it. The blog will take lowbrow culture seriously and treat highbrow culture frivolously, blending witty recaps of TV shows, original concert footage, and Web video nuggets with irreverent coverage of critics, theater buzz, and news of book and movie deals as they happen.” Vulture will be headed by Melissa Maerz, formerly of Spin, and Dan Kois, a freelance writer and former director of development for Scott Rudin Productions. The mag is also starting a daily email newsletter guide to NYC arts and entertainment called ‘Agenda’, edited by Nick Catucci, ex-Village Voice. Good luck to all.
So now other media are starting to catch up with my reporting here, here, and here, as well as in my LA Weekly column, about the incredible costs of the 2007 summer movies. Always nice to be first. But it’s wrong for others to single out Spider-Man 3 when every studio’s doing it. Besides, the price-tag of Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 may be even higher. I’ll keep trying to separate fact from fiction for you.
UPDATED: A photo has emerged of singer Sheryl Crow and An Inconvenient Truth producer Laurie David arguing with Karl Rove about global warming. Politico.com also adds its version of what happened Saturday night when the two environmental activists confronted the presidential adviser at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, known as D.C.’s Oscars. It’s the incident everyone is buzzing about from Wilshire to Washington. Because, in a sense, it’s wish fulfilment. Who wouldn’t like to lecture Rove even for just a few minutes on an issue they care deeply about? Judging from the photo, Crow clearly looks stricken, and David tight-lipped, at what Rove is saying back to them.
DHD Previous: When Sheryl Crow Confronted Karl Rove
I’ve learned that NBC, which controversially aired that multimedia package sent by gunman Cho Seung-Hui, also has in development a remake of the bloody South Korean revenge movie which obsessed him and may even have inspired him. By a weird coincidence, NBC-owned Universal Pictures acquired the rights to Oldboy two years ago. I hear there’s no director or actors yet attached to the project, only a producer. “And now, of course, we’ll be very sensitive to what we may or may not do with it,” a Uni source told me. When the Virginia Tech massacre was first linked to the movie industry, it was because of the eerie similarities in the media Cho sent to NBC News and the “art” film from his native South Korea that won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. For instance, one self-shot photo of Cho is almost identical to a still from the Web site of Oldboy, down to the poses. Since then, it’s been reported that Cho used to incessantly watch the violent movie whose plot centers on a mysteriously imprisoned businessman’s decision after his release to go on a revenge rampage.
Does Karl Rove think liberal Hollywood celebrities are second-class citizens? Well, it sure seems so, judging by what happened last night at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. See Update. As you may know, it’s a star-studded event where Wilshire meets Washington (as well as the infamous, like American Idol‘s Sanjaya). But the most interesting dust-up occurred when two of Hollywood’s most prominent environmentalists, singer Sheryl Crow and An Inconvenient Truth producer Laurie David, managed to talk to Karl Rove at the Hilton Washington gala about global warming. News accounts called the exchange ”suitably heated”. As Rove walked away, Crow said, “You can’t speak to us like that, you work for us.” Then Rove shot back, “I don’t work for you, I work for the American people.” To which Sheryl replied, “We are the American people.” The Washington Post account is here. Crow’s and David’s is here. (It’s interesting how different both versions are. For instance, the WP implies the two women ambushed Rove. But the duo say they were introduced to him.) Meanwhile, you may have heard that Dubya last night passed up an attempt to be funny because of the Virginia tech tragedy (but not four years of war). Rich Little was mediocre at best. David Letterman, who said he couldn’t attend due to yoga practice, contributed a videotaped “Top 10 George W. Bush Moments”. But, as Editor & Publisher pointed out, no … Read More »
I’m told the Beverly Hilton will become prime hunting ground for Hollywood types looking for hedge fund money when the Milken Institute Global Conference kicks off Monday. You and I know that, not only have hedge fund guys replaced past suckers like German dentists and U.S. tycoon scions willing to part with moolah to glam up their portfolios and underwrite a few movies, but all they want in return is to meet Jessica Biel. This year’s 10th anniversary confab features more than 100 sessions and 300 speakers and 2,500 bigwigs. But the must-attend event takes place Monday at 10:15 AM: ”Hedge Funds: The Last Unregulated Frontier — But For How Long?” Speakers include Marc Lasry, founder and managing partner of Avenue Capital Group; Jon Lukomnik, managing partner of Sinclair Capital LLC; Robert Matza, partner and president of GoldenTree Asset Management LP; and Paul Roth, partner of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. The moderator will be Jonathan Spalter, chairman/CEO of Public Insight LP. Not such a far cry from when Mike Milken presided over Drexel Burnham’s infamous Predator’s Ball where Hollywood schmoozed junk bond raiders.