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‘Ratatouille’ Roasts Rivals, ‘Die Hard’ #2; Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ Has Healthy Debut

By | Friday June 29, 2007 @ 11:55pm PDT

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SUNDAY AM: Disney / Pixar’s Ratatouille cooked up a winning recipe as America’s No. 1 movie, opening big with $47.2 mil this weekend from a bountiful 3,940 theaters. bruce.jpgSurprisingly, it performed equally well on Friday as it did Saturday featuring the famed kiddie matinees. But Remy The Rat’s debut is still well below the last Disney / Pixar toon Cars, which opened in 2006 to $60 mil and earned less than 2003′s Finding Nemo ($70 mil) and 2004′s The Incredibles ($70 mil). (Plus, Ratatouille can’t merchandise itself like the other toons — not with a rat as the main character.) I hear the incredibly well reviewed film (95% “fresh” reviews at Rotten Tomatoes) played right across the board. And, while Los Angelenos are used to applause as the credits roll, there are anecdotal reports of lotsa clapping across the country. The rodent should have great legs over Fourth Of July week. No. 2 went to Fox’s action-packed Live Free Or Die Hard starring Bruce Willis which opened back on Wednesday also to good reviews. It made $33.1 mil this weekend from 3,408 venues. That’s more than good considering how the adult action movie marketplace is so jammed with high-profile summer product right now. Exit polls showed the audience was fairly evenly divided between males and females. (In comparison, the previous three Die Hards skewed more towards men.) Fox insiders are calling these exit polls for their stunt-filled fourquel the best since Speed. Its 5-day total is now $48.1 mil for this latest in the John McClane franchise. (Previous: … Read More »

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RIP: GMA Entertainment Critic Joel Siegel

By | Friday June 29, 2007 @ 6:55pm PDT

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I didn’t know Joel Siegel personally until I started Deadline Hollywood Daily. So I was incredibly flattered when he emailed me one day saying he was a huge fan of the website, and loved reading my caustic Oscar commentary. Joel rightfully patted himself on the back for his own best line to describe how interminable the most recent Academy Awards on his ABC network had become: ”When the broadcast began, Jack Nicholson had a full head of hair.” So sad that this funny and knowledgeable Good Morning America entertainment critic is dead at age 63.

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Does Bruce Die Hard Or Get Ratatouille’d?

By | Friday June 29, 2007 @ 6:23am PDT

livefreeordiehard_teaser2.jpgFRIDAY AM: Yes, it’s the start of another nailbiter for gross receipts this summer weekend as blockbusters bust a move in movie theaters. Right now my box office gurus are saying the totals for both films by Sunday look neck-and-neck: between $40 million to $45 million. Naturally, Fox especially is trying to lower 5-day expectations for Live Free Or Die Hard by projecting high $30s (as in millions) since its adult action marketplace is so jammed with high-profile product right now. Disney / Pixar’s Ratatouille debuting today also faces a lot of existing family fare yet still managed to score a bountiful 3,940 theaters. And Disney tells me that its toon’s tracking has “gotten stronger every day.” So … Will Remy the Rat die hard? Will Bruce Willis get French fried? It’s always tough to know what a pic will do from Friday through Sunday when it opens on the Wednesday before. That’s the case with Fox’s Die Hard 4, which took in $9.1 million Wednesday and $5.9 mil Thursday from 3,408 theaters. While that wasn’t anywhere near a record — only 27th for top single day grosses on a Wednesday — the studio’s exit polls are through the roof for the over the top stunt-filled pic. “Only film that delivers on the hype this summer,” is a popular response, and Fox insiders are calling these exit polls the best they’ve seen since Speed. ”These exit polls indicate for the first time this summer that audiences are satisfied and not feeling ripped off,” a Fox insider explained to me. … Read More »

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How Many In Hollywood Scored iPhones?

By | Thursday June 28, 2007 @ 10:52pm PDT

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Jay Leno tonight speculated that the iPhone for sale Friday comes with “its own cappucino maker and nose hair trimmer”. I hear the Hollywood version has an assistant whacker. It’s no biggie if you score the Ultimate Hand Job tomorrow. Surest sign of showbiz status? Those who got their iPhones last week, last month…

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Thumbs Up By NYU Journalism For DHD

By | Thursday June 28, 2007 @ 9:56pm PDT

Among the millions of blogs, these are some of our favorites:

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According to the webzine produced by New York University’s Department of Journalism, DHD was one of the 20 “Blogs We Like” chosen for study by the undergraduate course ”Digital Journalism: Blogging”. (Spring 2007. Instructor: Patrick Phillips, editor & founder of I Want Media). Here is journalism student Cristina Gonzalez’s article, Deadline Hollywood Daily Covers Infotainment Biz.

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So Germany’s Film Ban Isn’t Due To Tom?

By | Thursday June 28, 2007 @ 3:13pm PDT

All I can say is that I sincerely hope the future talk about United Artists is more focused on film profits than on Tom Cruise’s Scientology. (See my previous: Germany Bans Tom’s Latest UA Film.) cruisesci.JPGAccording to a translated German newspaper article published today, Germany’s widely reported opposition to UA’s movie-in-the-works Valkyrie filming at military sites has less to do with its star Cruise’s being a “dangerous” Scientologist and more to do with fuss and bother. Turns out the building that is now a memorial to the “July Plot” conspirators who tried to assassinate Hitler also houses part of the German Ministry of Defense. The main hurdle to a film permit, according to the people in charge of German government buildings, is that the lights and cables and camera teams could disrupt Defense Ministry work. But if an arrangement ensures that filming doesn’t interfere, a permit should be no problem. cruisewagner-smaller.jpgSo those earlier reports appear wrong that the movie has been barred because Tom is a Scientologist. In fact, the Defense Ministry, which only leases the building, does not have the right to grant or reject filming permits. Nevertheless, the German government doesn’t recognize Scientology as a religion but instead criticizes it as a dangerous cult. Articles 4 and 5 of the German constitution protect freedom of faith and creed and expression. The question still remains how cooperative … Read More »

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WSJ Reporters Stage Big Murdoch Protest

If you had trouble reaching a Wall Street Journal reporter this morning, that’s because many wsjlogo.jpgwho belong to the union chose not to show up for work across the country until this afternoon. It’s been described to me as a “non walk-in”. First, because they feel the paper’s long tradition of independence is threatened murdochsmaller.jpgsince its editorial integrity is dependent on an owner committed to journalistic independence. (In other words, that’s not Rupert Murdoch.) And second, they want their absence to remind Dow Jones management how uncool it is to award golden parachutes to 135 top executives while seeking to eviscerate employees’ health benefits and impose salary adjustments that amount to a pay cut. Dow Jones is currently in contract negotiations with its primary union, Independent Association of Publishers’ Employees, a local of the Newspaper Guild. Even to the point of beseeching other buyers, the union is fighting Murdoch’s Dow Jones purchase which sadly seems inevitable now. Wait til the WSJ reporters read Murdoch’s new Time magazine interview in which he dismissively rails about the ruling Bancroft family trying to guarantee the WSJ‘s editorial independence and integrity: “They can’t sell their company and still control it — that’s not how it works. I’m sorry!” Get those resumes ready now.

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NYSE Says No Moore to ‘Sicko’ Director

sicko_bigposter.jpgEXCLUSIVE: I just confirmed that Sicko documentary creator Michael Moore was barred from making a scheduled media appearance inside the New York Stock Exchange today. His publicist says it was because he and a group of nurses intended to call for Wall Street investors and Main Street consumers to divest themselves of HMO, health insurance, and drug company stocks. The Oscar-winner and representatives of the California Nurses Association were slated to do a series of interviews with financial media outlets from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange this afternoon. CNBC was featuring Moore’s appearance during its closing bell show. Now, Moore is scrambling to talk to reporters on the streets outside the Exchange building. I’m very surprised that the NYSE would interfere like this, especially given that these “on the floor” media interviews are commonplace. A Sicko rep accused the Exchange of trying to ”limit or control the flow of information to American investors”. Given that his newest project (following Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine) officially opens around the country Friday, this is yet another twist and turn in what has turned into a long PR campaign orchestrated by The Weinstein Co pic. But it’s also incredible how everyone from the Bush administration (see my previous Feds Probe Michael Moore For ‘Sicko’ Trip) to now the NYSE is helping Moore get much-needed free publicity in advance of this documentary’s release. moore.jpgI’m … Read More »

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Hollywood Agency Wars: Client Jumps

By | Thursday June 28, 2007 @ 10:00am PDT

caa1.bmpScreenwriter/director Zak Penn (wrote and helmed Incident at Loch Ness, co-writer of X-Men: The Last Stand) has left Endeavor for CAA.

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Limato’s Negotiations With ICM In Limbo

By | Wednesday June 27, 2007 @ 3:50pm PDT

I know that Ed Limato’s negotiations with ICM are very fluid right now since his contract is up this month. But there’s an interesting push-pull surrounding this legendary motion picture agent. So consider this Part II to my original Rumor of ICM’s Limato To CAA ‘Ridiculous’ post. I hear that, despite the poker faces of all involved, the talks between ICM and Limato aren’t going well. icmnewlogo.JPG“It’s turning into a mess,” one insider told me. There are two big sticking points: Will Ed remain part of ICM management? And what will he get paid? One proposal on the table is that Limato stay as an eminence gris and rep as usual his clients (including Denzel Washington, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Steve Martin, Liam Neeson, Billy Crystal) but relinquish his management role as co-president with Chris Silbermann. limato.jpgRelations are still good between Limato and chairman Jeff Berg, but there is indeed tension between Limato and Silbermann who came to ICM as an outsider in the Broder Kurland merger. “Have you seen All About Eve?,” an insider explained to me. “Ed isn’t getting the respect he’s owed. After all, he’s made this company millions.” Others say this squabble is Sunset Boulevard.

It’s always hard to effect generational change inside any company, much less a Hollywood agency. (Remember when William Morris did it in 2004 and all those partners left in a snit?) After the merger, … Read More »

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Influential Harvard Grads In Hollywood?

By | Wednesday June 27, 2007 @ 12:58pm PDT

harvard_logo.gifUgh, the lamebrains who ask me for Hollywood info. The latest is the magazine 02138 – described as “devoted to, but not affiliated with, Harvard” – that’s compiling a supposed list of 100 Influential Harvard Grads including infotainment. But the mag seems totally clueless about Hollywood players, much less which ones were Harvard alums. (Especially when most wear the school crest virtually around their necks.) My advice? Don’t read this issue. It’ll be laughable. But if you want to be included, contact the mag directly and keep me out of it. I’m a Wellesley woman.

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Tom Cruise Is Finally Shown The Money

By | Wednesday June 27, 2007 @ 10:40am PDT

money10.jpgI’m told Tom Cruise and Paula Wagner have completed that $500 million production financing arranged by Merrill Lynch for United Artists. (This had been in the works for months and months.) There should be an announcement before the end of June. As I first reported on Sunday, their new campaign to raise the profile of UA continues. The latest: Cruise and Wagner will make an “unannounced” stop at the European exhibitors confab Cinema Expo in Holland today to unveil a 5½-minute clip of Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs, the company’s first release that also stars Tom. Read my Cruise’s UA Starts High-Profile Campaign.

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At Least They Kept Their Sense Of Humor

By | Wednesday June 27, 2007 @ 9:35am PDT

universal_logo121.jpgWhen the Universal execs realized that their Evan Almighty wasn’t going to do boffo box office, they started thinking up possible headlines that the media would use to report the opening weekend numbers.
First place? ”Evan Not So Mighty”.

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Exactly Why I So Love Hollywood, Part II

By | Tuesday June 26, 2007 @ 10:29pm PDT

UPDATE: I thought it sounded familiar. Turns out this latest email skirmish was picked up by the media back in 2002, so read the full exchange here. But the insults traded by these witty wounded egos made another go-round in Hollywood under the banner, “If you enjoyed Saperstein vs Strickler, then you’ll adore this…” It’s between Judd Apatow — yes, the writer and director and producer of The 40-year-old Virgin and this summer’s comedy hit Knocked Up — and Mark Brazill, an executive producer of That 70s Show. It took place in 2001 when neither scribbler was famous yet.
Here are my favorite nasty bits:

One email closes with, ”Get cancer.”

Another ends, ”See ya at the upfronts, bitch! Until then, die in a fiery accident and taste your own blood.”

To which the response is: ”That’s a Sam Kinison line, you stupid fuck!!!!”

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‘Transformers’ Opening July 2, NOT July 3

By | Tuesday June 26, 2007 @ 9:34pm PDT

dpar.jpgI’ve never seen Hollywood studios so slippery when it comes to box office as they’ve been this blockbuster crowded summer. Here’s the latest example: I was told as late as yesterday – yesterday – by Paramount that it was still opening DreamWorks tentpole Transformers next Tuesday July 3rd and would have a “6-day total” over Fourth Of July. But rival studios alerted me tonight that, very quietly, transformers_smaller.jpgParamount has slipped in Monday July 2nd showings of the heavily anticipated Michael Bay pic improved by Steven Spielberg. (And, to think, all their movie posters both real and online say July 3rd. And some clueless media outlets like Entertainment Weekly are still reporting Transformers‘ release date as July 4th.) Nor are these Monday midnight showings, which could count for Tuesday’s box office. I’ve confirmed that the screenings begin at 8 p.m., so they should count towards Monday’s box office.  So that would be a “7-day total” if counted separately. UPDATE: *Paramount now acknowledges they miscommunicated with me and regret the error.* But rival studios are grousing to me that Paramount was trying to pull a fast one and planned to put Monday’s gross receipts in with Tuesday’s to get a bigger number because of the PR value. I’m not shocked games like this go on in Hollywood, but I am surprised Paramount thought we’d play along.

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This Is Exactly Why I So Love Hollywood

By | Tuesday June 26, 2007 @ 12:43pm PDT

sixmillion.jpgPeople know Endeavor agent Tom Strickler has a deliciously arch sense of humor. People also know that Richard Saperstein used to work for Bob Shaye at New Line, and now toils for Harvey and Bob Weinstein as prez of production at Dimension. (What a masochist given those three bosses.) Anyway, Strickler and Saperstein, who are friends, recently had a minor verbal skirmish over a new spec script Endeavor sold to Saperstein’s old workplace New Line: it’s called The $40,000 Man about an astronaut in a car accident who gets bionically rebuilt by the government — but on a budget of only $40,000. Does the plot remind you of anything? It turns out Saperstein’s new workplace shares the remake rights to The Six Million Dollar Man. I have confirmed that the Weinstein exec sent this warning email to Strickler:

“Tom: Please give me a call about a spec script Elia Infascelli-Smith has gone out with called $40,000 Man. As you know, along with Universal, we control the rights to The Six Million Dollar Man. My understanding is this spec includes characters we own. Best, Richard”

And the agent messaged back this reply:

“Richard: Good news. As you may know, the United States Supreme Court has affirmed the right of parody as an unassailable First Amendment Right. This has enabled you to make movies like Scream and Scary Movie in which you parody many films which Dimension does not own or control. The script is a parody, and if you have any problems, I suggest you hire a constitutional lawyer

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MySpace Pair Looking To Loot News Corp

By | Tuesday June 26, 2007 @ 9:12am PDT

dewolfe_anderson.jpgEXCLUSIVE: I’m told that MySpace founders Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson have made a very aggressive (some would term it rather fanciful) compensation proposal to owner News Corp for when their contract is up in October. They’re asking Peter Chernin and Rupert Murdoch for a 2-year deal worth $50 million total. That comes out to $25 million each, or $12.5 million a year. Plus, the pair want a development fund of $15 million to invest in internet companies. Even though MySpace is probably the most integral part of News Corp’s overall corporate strategy (and Murdoch’s company recently discussed swapping the social-networking site in exchange for a 25% to 30% stake in Yahoo!), no one has obviously told DeWolfe or Anderson that News Corp is also one of the cheapest companies on earth when it comes to executive compensation. myspace.jpgOne problem is that, if Murdoch/Chernin pays the pair such an outsized sum, it’ll make their other moguls insane if they ever found out, including Jim Gianopulos, Tom Rothman, Peter Ligouri, David Hill not to mention Roger Ailes. I understand News Corp has countered with an offer of $15 million each spread over 2 years — still more than every suit at News Corp except Ailes. I also hear Rupe has given the duo equity in MySpace China, so they already have a deal unlike anyone else’s.

I’m told by News Corp insiders that the chances of DeWolfe and Anderson getting what they want pay-wise is “slim … Read More »

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Harv’s Board Hiring CEO To Run Company

By | Monday June 25, 2007 @ 4:27pm PDT

missingharvmilk2.jpgRemember when Harvey Weinstein told me, “Now I have to go back to being Harvey” and refocus on the movie biz? That was back in April after Grindhouse bombed. Well, it’s not even his choice anymore. Not only is The Weinstein Co board of directors stepping up its oversight and meeting nearly every month — as it did by teleconference on May 18 during the Cannes film festival — but it’s also searching for a top executive to run day-to-day operations. So says Fortune magazine. Good luck finding, as one board director said, somebody who’s both a top-level CEO and would be compatible with the market and investors and the brothers. Even Bob Weinstein had a heart to heart with Harv who seemed more concentrated on Halston than TWC’s movie slate. Other news from the article (reported before 1408 did well this weekend):

  • The Weinstein Co’s full eight-member board of directors hadn’t convened in six months before April 10th. How is that oversight?
  • Goldman Sachs, which raised TWC’s equity in the summer of 2005 , is only doling it out in relatively small chunks.
  • Harvey blames his brother and Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez for the decision to release Grindhouse as a double feature rather than two separate pics.
  • A Weinstein Co. executive said the company is estimating that its revenue will be off about 12% at the end of 2007, compared with the original projections. (This would have been worse if TWC’s home distribution arm Genius, which wasn’t included in the original projections,
  • Read More »

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    Has LA Times Turned Hollywood Tabloid?

    By | Monday June 25, 2007 @ 2:36pm PDT

    There are a lot of insufferable pricks in Hollywood. Risa Shapiro isn’t one of them. Even agency rivals like and respect the ICM agent who helped take many actors and actresses including Julia Roberts, Jennifer Connelly, Andie MacDowell, Hugh Grant, David Duchovny and Rosie O’Donnell from obscurity to worldwide fame. Nor is she even an ICM partner or a highest paid agent. Her film producer ex-husband isn’t a mogul. Neither of them are billionaires whose divorces set legal precedent, like Ron Burkle or Kirk Kerkorian. tabloid2.JPGSo with a mixture of shock and dismay I saw the Los Angeles Times lay out embarrassing details of Shapiro’s messy divorce from horror pic producer Oren Koules (the Saw franchise). At no point did the couple make a public statement about their divorce or draw attention to themselves.

    [Full Disclosure: Only after Brad Grey announced his separation in Liz Smith’s column did I write about it – even after the studio denied there was marriage trouble, or a work-related link.)

    The explanation I get from the newspaper is that the documents were public, and the editors thought it was a “solid story”. I say, shame on the LA Times. The article justifies itself because the divorce revealed “some of show business’ most guarded secrets: how much a blockbuster movie generates in producer profits, how richly compensated talent agents are, and how lucrative movie favors can be.” First of all, there are way more prominent Hollywood couples whose divorces never get covered at all or in this detail because … Read More »

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