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Tracking: ‘Fantastic 4′ Sequel Is Fantastic


Fox’s Rise Of the Silver Surfer “came on well” via-a-vis tracking today. (Did you catch the ad inserted into NBC’s Heroes big finale?) Of course, it’s hard to tell what with all these mega-blockbusters surrounding it, but box office gurus are telling me that the pic looks ripe even this early for a ”fantastic” June 15th opening. Meanwhile, here’s a piece of trivia: director Tony Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer hired Quentin Tarantino to script a scene about the Silver Surfer for Crimson Tide. In fact there’ve been a lot of references to the enigmatic globe-gliding character in the movies. Must be because he has a Christ-like connotation.

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What The *@#% Did Harvey W Do Now?

By | Tuesday May 22, 2007 @ 7:10pm PDT

harvquent.jpgWas wily Harvey Weinstein’s people charging journalists $1,500 apiece for a seat at the Cannes Death Proof junket? This and other matters are explored by my Village Voice Media brother Rob Nelson in his wonderfully subversive Cannes Film Festival coverage. (Read it here.) He describes The Weinstein Co’s Death Proof dog and pony show with Quentin Tarantino thusly: “Near the end of the press conference, which had QT literally sweating with enthusiasm for his movie and its many sources, a journalist asks Monsieur Grindhouse how he feels about writers having been requested by Harvey’s crew to pay $1,500 apiece for a seat at the Cannes Death Proof junket. Whoa—can we run this wicked vérité action scene in slo-mo? First shot: Extreme close-up of QT, who says he doesn’t “get” the question… Cut to long-shot of Stuntman Harv’s dutiful assistant slithering toward the dais and stopping to whisper something insinuating in QT’s ear… Cut to QT as another sweat-drop falls, repeating that he doesn’t know what this is all about… And finally a shot of dialogue moderator Henri Behar diplomatically declaring that this is a discussion for after the press conference, s’il vous plaît. After you mean like at night on the Weinstein yacht in the middle of the fuckin’ Mediterranean or some shit? Read More »

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Pellicano Scandal: NYT has Michael Ovitz, Brad Grey, John McTiernan, Chris Rock & Courtney Love On Tape With The Pelican

pellicanoperps2.jpgMy take is that there’s nothing really new in The New York Times Page One article and audiotapes about Michael Ovitz, Brad Grey, John McTiernan, Courtney Love and Chris Rock. But they sure are interesting. I’ve heard that the Pellicano reporting team of staffer David Halbfinger and freelancer Allison Hope Weiner have been working for months on future stories with NYT Investigations Editor Matthew Purdy, so clearly the paper is taking the Pellicano scandal seriously even now. (Unlike the LA Times which has ceded the story in its own backyard.) Monday’s NYT article appears aimed at a wider audience in that it’s an explanatory piece about Pellicano’s role in Hollywood. The NYT story comes at an inauspicious time for both Ovitz and Grey. Ovitz has been trying to pick up the pieces of his shattered career. (Recently, Ovitz has been quietly offering to aid younger journalists who don’t remember his history of media manipulations.) And Grey is under tremendous pressure at Paramount where only DreamWorks movies have been successful. (Recently, Grey has been the target of vicious rumors which have been denied by his studio.) Meanwhile, I have always wondered whether Ovitz’s and Grey’s well-known direct contacts with Pellicano would get them into trouble. The private dick goes on trial in August. But a court hearing tomorrow will determine if the proceeding is delayed yet again. UPDATE: I hear the Pellicano trial has been postponed yet again, from August to February Read More »

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‘Shrek The Third’ Is Monster Fairy Tale! $122M Wkd Debut Shatters Toon Record

By | Friday May 18, 2007 @ 3:47pm PDT

shrek33.JPGSUNDAY AM: Shrek The Third shredded the record for 3rd biggest opening weekend of all time behind only Spider-Man 3 and Pirates Of The Caribbean 2. It also set the record for a ‘toon weekend opening with a monster $122 million Friday-to-Sunday. According to distributor Paramount, the Dreamworks Animation fairy tale starring Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz and playing in 4,122 theaters earned $38.5 million Friday for the 8th best opening day ever by a film and $47 mil Saturday for the 5th best single day gross ever. (Sunday’s figure is projected at $35.6 mil.) The threequel did way bigger box office than Shrek 2 which opened to $108 mil in 2004 in 4,223 theaters. Yet Shrek The Third‘s reviews were much worse: out of 115 reviews on, 65 were spoiled (aka “Shrek The Drek”). But there was pent-up demand for a fresh kiddie pic, and at only 93 minutes running time not only could theaters get in a lot of screenings but both parents and offspring could sit through the film without too much squirming. Paramount reported the movie is playing great to family and general audiences. Weather wound up a bit of a factor this weekend with rain on the East Coast. shrekpremiere.jpgBut the summer movie season is already a sizzler with records being broken left and right: not only did Shrek The Third set precedents, but so did Spider-Man 3; and this coming Memorial Weekend, Pirates Of The Caribbean 3 is expected to set records as well. All week, DreamWorks Animation and Paramount had been trying to lower expectations by saying they expected only a $90 mil Friday-to-Saturday opening. But Dreamworks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg is busy at the Cannes Film Festival downplaying talk of record ticket sales for his ’toon. The studio finally announced it made $907K from Thursday night in supposedly “limited” release which it didn’t report. But rival studios put the number at $1M to $1.2M. Given the phenomenal box office performances of Spidey and Shrek, it’s little wonder why studios keep churning out sequels: DreamWorks Animation has already announced Shrek 4. Read More »

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Is DreamWorks Animation/Paramount Playing Fast & Loose With ‘Shrek 3′ B.O.?


I am confused: Why isn’t ALL of Shrek the Third‘s box office being reported? Is it to pad the 3-day weekend totals with Thursday’s gross receipts? Back on May 7th, I heard from rival studios that DreamWorks Animation SKG was pushing up today’s release of Shrek The Third by a day (to Thursday, May 17th). I even posted it on DHD. But then I received emails from the ‘toon company telling me, no, that wasn’t happening so I took the info down. Today, I saw a Bloomberg story from Wednesday May 16th, in which DreamWorks Animation investment relations spokesman Rich Sullivan let the ogre out of the bag. Read More »

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B.O. Predictions: ‘Shrek 3′ $100M-$110M This Wkd; ‘Pirates 3′ $180M Mem Wkd

By | Thursday May 17, 2007 @ 6:16pm PDT

pirshrek1.JPGThere is such obvious pent-up demand among parents and their offspring for a fresh ‘toon that Shrek the Third should prove critic-proof in spite of awful reviews. My box office gurus are predicting $100 million to $110 million for the threequel which will be playing in a huge 4,122 number of theaters. On the other hand, starting Friday, Sony’s Spider-Man 3 expands its playdates to 4,324 (+72) after already setting a record for the widest U.S. release. Meanwhile, Dreamworks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg is busy at the Cannes Film Festival downplaying talk of record ticket sales for his ’toon. Meanwhile, all eyes are on Memorial Weekend: my experts predict Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End could make as much as $180 million for their 4 1/2-day holiday May 24th through May 28th even with an unofficial running time of 2 hours and 47 minutes. Yowza!

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Primetime Pilot Panic: Final Fox Sked

By | Thursday May 17, 2007 @ 10:13am PDT

foxlogo.jpgFOX Primetime Schedule for 2007-2008 Season

8:00pm: Prison Break
9:00pm: K-VILLE (new show)

8:00pm: NEW AMSTERDAM (new show)
9:00pm: House

8:00pm: BACK TO YOU (new show)
8:30pm: ‘Til Death
9:00pm: Bones

8:00pm: Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?
9:00pm: KITCHEN NIGHTMARES (new show)

9:00pm: NASHVILLE (new show)

8:00pm: Cops
8:30pm: Cops
9:00pm: America’s Most Wanted

7:00pm: The OT
8:00pm: The Simpsons
8:30pm: King Of The Hill
9:00pm: Family Guy
9:30pm: American Dad

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Primetime Pilot Panic: Final CW Sked

By | Thursday May 17, 2007 @ 7:39am PDT

cw.JPGCW Primetime Schedule for 2007-2008 Season

8:00pm: Everybody Hates Chris
8:30pm: ALIENS IN AMERICA (new show)
9:00pm: Girlfriends
9:30pm: The Game

8:00pm: Beauty And The Geek
9:00pm: THE REAPER (new show)

8:00pm: America’s Next Top Model
9:00pm: GOSSIP GIRL (new show)

8:00pm: Smallville
9:00pm: Supernatural

800pm: Friday Night Smackdown

7:00pm: ONLINE NATION (new show)
7:30pm: CW NOW (new show)
8:00pm: LIFE IS WILD (new show)
9:00pm: America’s Next Top Model repeats

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30,000 ‘Star Wars’ Fans Will Invade L.A.

By | Wednesday May 16, 2007 @ 11:42am PDT

star-wars-geek.jpgAttention all you Lukes, Leias, Darth Vaders, Wookies, Ewoks and Stormtroopers: from May 24 to May 28,  CELEBRATION IV, the world’s biggest Star Wars party and only the 5th such event, will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center featuring live entertainment, celebrities from all six movies, special film and video presentations, an exhibit of movie props and costumes, exclusive merchandise sold at a 24-hour-a-day store, pop culture tributes, immersive events, fan exhibits, costume contests, dioramas and scores of additional activities. Beginning at 9 a.m. May 23 – one day before the advance opening of CELEBRATION IV – movie buffs will have a chance to attend a U.S. first: a marathon of the entire epic Star Wars Saga on the big screen, beginning with Episode I: The Phantom Menace and ending with Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. The 17-hour program (including intermissions) leads into five days of non-stop festivities that commemorate the 30th anniversary. Highlights of CELEBRATION IV include: Appearances by actors Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and starwars1.jpgAnthony Daniels (C-3PO), both of whom will sign autographs and make special stage appearances; Opening ceremonies and special events that showcase the future of Star Wars entertainment and celebrate the first 30 years of Star Wars; presentation of comedian Charles Ross’s acclaimed One-Man Star Wars stage show; an exclusive Star Wars CELEBRATION IV store, whose doors will be open 24 hours a day; Star Wars laser tag, Stormtrooper Olympics and XXtreme Droid Challenge. CELEBRATION IV follows similar events in Denver (1999) and Indianapolis (2002, 2005). Read More »

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Updates: LA Times & Hollywood Reporter

By | Wednesday May 16, 2007 @ 10:59am PDT

So who’s taking the Los Angeles Times buyout? has posted the up-to-date list. Interestingly, I’ve heard from sources that it’s “Let’s Make a Deal” time at the paper for reporters and editors: all offers will be considered by management seeking to  eliminate 100-150 jobs at the paper even if the terms don’t exactly match those presented. (The “Employee Voluntary Separation Program” consists of two weeks pay and benefits for every year the employee has worked for the Times. Some sections of the paper were ineligible.) logo_latimes.gifOf interest to Hollywood: controversial Senior Calendar Editor Lennie LaGuire is taking the buyout. Editors of daily, Sunday and Weekend Calendar reported to her. But she also oversaw the embarrassing Envelope awards-season special section coverage this past year, which remains a huge blemish on the Times’ journalistic integrity. Opinions inside the Los Angeles Times are wildly divided about LaGuire. On the one hand, she’s praised for being aggressive about news coverage. On the other hand, her minions felt her approach was scattershot and translated into a new set of operating principles every other week that sent them in a myriad different directions and left them confused about her priorities. Soon after she joined Calendar as Entertainment Editor in 2002, I received many complaints about how clueless she was about the Industry. logo_hollywood-reporter.gifBut LaGuire schooled herself to the point where she now ably feigns knowledge of the … Read More »

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NBC, Put Us Out Our Misery: Cancel Trump

By | Wednesday May 16, 2007 @ 10:32am PDT


So NBC tells me it hasn’t made a decision whether to renew The Apprentice, the primetime infomercial for Donald Trump’s real estate and golf courses masquerading as a TV game show. Given that the humilitainment series has zero credibility, and The Donald even less than that, the answer should be no. For my low opinion of NBC airing his Trumped-up ad, see Hey, Donald You Should Be Fired.

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Primetime Pilot Panic: Final CBS Sked

By | Wednesday May 16, 2007 @ 8:21am PDT


8:00pm: How I Met Your Mother
8:30pm: THE BIG BANG THEORY (new show)
9:00pm: Two And A Half Men
9:30pm: Rules Of Engagement
10:00pm: CSI: Miami

8:00pm: NCIS
9:00pm: The Unit
10:00pm: CANE (new show)

8:00pm: KID NATION (new show)
9:00pm: Criminal Minds
10:00pm: CSI: NY

8:00pm: Survivor/China
9:00pm: CSI
10:00pm: Without A Trace

8:00pm: Ghost Whisperer
9:00pm: MOONLIGHT (new show)
10:00pm: Numb3rs

8:00PM: Crimetime Saturday
9:00pm: Crimetime Saturday
10:00pm: 48 Hours: Mystery

7:00pm: 60 Minutes
8:00pm: VIVA LAUGHLIN (new show)
9:00pm: Cold Case
10:00pm: Shark

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Primetime Pilot Panic: The Scoop On CW

By | Tuesday May 15, 2007 @ 1:03pm PDT

cw.JPGHere is the latest information out of The CW, I’m told:
ONE TREE HILL is renewed for 22 episodes.
New show GOSSIP GIRL picked up for fall.
Pilot REAPER is picked up.
SUPERNATURAL renewed for 22 episodes.
SMALLVILLE picked up for 22 episodes.
GIRLFRIENDS and THE GAME both look likely to be renewed.
New show WILD AT HEART picked up.

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Primetime Pilot Panic: The Scoop On CBS Pickups, Renewals And Cancellations

By | Tuesday May 15, 2007 @ 12:57pm PDT

cbslogosmaller.JPGHere is the latest information out of CBS, I’m told:
THE CLASS is officially dead.
JERICHO is cancelled.
THE UNIT is picked up.
GHOST WHISPERER is picked up.
SHARK is picked up.
NUMB3RS is picked up.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT will go to 2nd season.

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Primetime Pilot Panic: Final ABC Sked

By | Tuesday May 15, 2007 @ 8:11am PDT

abc_logo1.jpgABC’s official fall primetime schedule is as follows:


8:00 p.m. Dancing with the Stars
9:30 p.m. SAM I AM (new comedy series)
10:00 p.m. The Bachelor


8:00 p.m. CAVEMEN (new comedy series)
8:30 p.m. CARPOOLERS (new comedy series)
9:00 p.m. Dancing with the Stars the Results Show
10:00 p.m. Boston Legal


8:00 p.m. PUSHING DAISIES (new drama series)
9:00 p.m. PRIVATE PRACTICE (new drama series)
10:00 p.m. DIRTY SEXY MONEY (new drama series)


8:00 p.m. Ugly Betty
9:00 p.m. Grey’s Anatomy
10:00 p.m. BIG SHOTS (new drama series)


8:00 p.m. Men In Trees
9:00 p.m. WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB (new drama series)
10:00 p.m. 20/20


8:00 p.m. Saturday Night College Football


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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Morton’s: A Million Deals. Now A Wake.

By | Tuesday May 15, 2007 @ 2:28am PDT


I’m constantly amazed how the Hollywood media seem to have no institutional memory when it comes to the Industry’s culture. That’s why none reported with any fanfare on that showbiz institution Morton’s shutting its doors at the end of the year. Namesake Pam Morton is so verklempt about it, all she could say to me Tuesday was, “It’s time for me to pursue other passions.” Sure, the restaurant has been eclipsed by The Grill for lunch and wherever is trendiest for dinner. And Morton’s is best known to civilians as the site of the Vanity Fair Oscar party. But during its heyday throughout the 80’s and 90’s when the Art Of The Deal meant The Art Of The Meal, the power players went to Spago for leisurely dinners and to Morton’s for business meetings. Rarely did a negotiation get done in Hollywood without a trip to the dimly-lit eatery at the corner of Melrose and Robertson. First, some forgotten trivia: Producers Larry Gordon and Joel Silver once cast the maitre d’ at Morton’s as a security guard in the first Die Hard. The art of table-hopping at Morton’s was perfected by Jeffrey Katzenberg who made it like ballet, pirouetting from table to table but never lingering. Spy magazine’s “Celia Brady” ended her columns with the teasing line “See you Monday night at Morton’s”. mortons3.jpgFrank Sinatra actually talked to reporters and photographers at a private party at Morton’s when he introduced his signature spaghetti sauce. Malcolm Forbes used to list Morton’s as one of his three favorite places on earth to eat. Larry Tisch took over CBS and then headed to Morton’s during his first meet-and-greet trip to Los Angeles. CAA under Mike Ovitz deemed Morton’s one of only three “approved” restaurants for expense-account dinners. Michael Eisner, then head of production at Paramount, signed young actor Eddie Murphy to a landmark $15-million, five-picture deal over dinner at Morton’s. Later, it was over dinner at Morton’s again that Eisner decided to jump to the Walt Disney Co.

Perhaps nothing illuminates Morton’s place in the Industry’s cosmos more than this anecdote: The year was 1985, and MGM-UA had just split into separate companies. The entertainment industry was searching for clues as to who would ultimately take over the previously contracted-for projects — MGM President Frank Yablans, or United Artists’ new president, Alan Ladd Jr. Forget the fact that both executives had assured everyone that all the movies in progress were divided on a “mutually cooperative” basis; no one believed them. One night, so the story goes, both men made reservations at Morton’s. laddie.jpgYablans arrived first and was shown to the perfectly placed front table usually occupied by MGM-UA top executives. Laddie arrived a few minutes later to find that all eyes in the dining room were upon him. Where would he be seated? And would it be in a better or worse position than Yablans? Laddie displaced Yablans from the key table. The next day, all of Hollywood claimed to know the score on the MGM-UA schism. Read More »

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Bob Shaye Looks Like Even Bigger Idiot…

By | Tuesday May 15, 2007 @ 12:25am PDT

peterjackson1.jpgSo DreamWorks (i.e. Stacey Snider and Steven Spielberg, specifically) has usurped New Line and is in the Peter Jackson business in a big way now by anteing up for a trilogy of beloved kid fare Tintin, plus Lovely Bones. Just for lousing up his studio’s relationship with Mr. Lord Of The Rings and losing his King Kong talent is why Time Warner should kick to the curb Mr. Lord of the Rants when Shaye’s contract is up in 2008.

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Primetime Pilot Panic: Pilot Orders Recap

By | Monday May 14, 2007 @ 5:14pm PDT


abc_logo1.jpg ABC COMEDY
MISS/GUIDED (ABC/20th/ABC TV Studio/Katalyst)
SAM I AM (ABC/ABC TV Studio/Brillstein-Grey)

BIG SHOTS aka Untitled Jon Feldman (ABC/Warner Bros)

cbslogosmaller.JPG CBS COMEDY

CANE aka Untitled Cynthia Cidre Project (CBS/ABC TV Studio/Paramount)
TWILIGHT (CBS/Warner Bros/Silver Pictures)
VIVA LAUGHLIN (CBS/Paramount/Sony)

foxlogo.jpg FBC COMEDY

K-VILLE (FBC/20th)

nbc-logo-rgb-pos2.jpgNBC DRAMA
CHUCK (NBC/Warner Bros)
LIPSTICK JUNGLE (NBC/NUTS) – Midseason/Premieres in January 08


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Primetime Pilot Panic: CBS Update

By | Monday May 14, 2007 @ 11:09am PDT

cbslogosmaller.JPG CBS is picking up TWILIGHT, VIVA LAUGHLIN, SWINGTOWN, CANE (previously untitled Cynthia Cidre Project), BIG BANG THEORY, POWER OF 10 (unscripted). Unclear yet what’s for fall or midseason.

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