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This Weekend: ‘Superbad’ #1, ‘War’ #2, ‘Nanny Diaries’ #3; Summer 2007 Record

By | Thursday August 23, 2007 @ 12:29pm PDT

Sony’s Superbad should continue as No. 1 this weekend. Down 40% or less would be a big show of strength for this low-cost coming-of-age comedy from producer Judd Apatow (who’s now officially a mogul in my opinion). My box office gurus expect a Superbad weekend close to $20 mil from its 2,948 theaters. Next among newcomers comes Lionsgate’s War with Jet Li and Jason Stratham which should debut “in the high teens” from 2,277 venues. And No. 3 among freshmen probably goes to The Nanny Diaries starring Scarlett Johansson from The Weinstein Co/MGM in the low teens with 2,629 runs. Really, how irritating that these people took a hot book and made a sitcom instead of a movie (horrible reviews on RottenTomatoes). No one knows quite where Mr. Bean’s Holiday (1,713 dates) will end up since his movies are always hard to predict. Instead of the films, the really BIG news this weekend will be the moment that Summer 2007 crosses into the record books. Media By Numbers said yesterday’s total is $3.881 billion, close to the precedent-setting $3.95 billion of 2004.

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If Only Showtime Had HBO’s Promo Dept

By | Thursday August 23, 2007 @ 12:09pm PDT

duchovny.jpgHilarious that it’s taken until today for The New York Times‘ Bill Carter to declare HB-Over. (I guess Les Moonves didn’t tell him what to think about it until now.) I already did it June 12th (HBO Needs To Wise Up, Or Get Whacked) and June 13th in LA Weekly (Fade To Black), and again August 5th (HBO Hanging Itself On Hanging Chads Pic). Meanwhile, critics have reviled Showtime’s Californication, but I adore it. For one thing, the show is way more illustrative of Hollywood (and Los Angeles) than HBO’s jumped-the-shark Entourage. For another, the writers and David Duchovny brilliantly humiliate that hubris infused guy we all know with enough self-destruction to make him likeable, a near impossibility on a series like this. The only problem is that Showtime, unlike HBO, can’t market worth a damn. Or else the riveting Dexter and its upcoming 2nd season would be the pay channel series everyone is talking about. Instead, the silence is deafening. HBO now has crap but promotes it well, and Showtime has good stuff and can’t get it arrested. I say HBO and Showtime should swap marketing departments.

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David Lynch: World ‘Moved On’ From Film

By | Thursday August 23, 2007 @ 9:48am PDT

david-lynch.jpgIdiosyncratic David Lynch doesn’t give many interviews, so it’s worth looking at MTV’s little one on the occasion of the newly released DVD of his digital pic, Inland Empire, featuring more than an hour of additional scenes (more of his actors in rabbit costumes), an extended interview with Lynch, and even a cooking segment. For MTV, Lynch touches on topics like why he won’t go back to film, what he liked about The Bourne Ultimatum (‘There’s nothing wrong with a great Hollywood blockbuster’) and how much George Lucas offered him to direct Return Of The Jedi:

MTV: Traditionally there aren’t a ton of extras on DVDs of your films. Why load this one up and pull the curtain a bit on your process?
David Lynch: Pulling the curtain on some things isn’t good. I always want to protect the film and experience for people. But this time there were a lot of scenes … that formed a kind of thing that I call “other things that happened.” It’s like, you meet the family in the film except for the sister who lives in Ohio. And now with this it fills that out. And then I don’t cook, but I had this recipe for quinoa. And cooking shows are very popular. So I thought I’d Read More »

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Bonus Time Won’t Be Happy Time At CAA

By | Wednesday August 22, 2007 @ 6:37pm PDT

Wow, CAA just keeps cutting back and cutting back. While partners Bryan Lourd, Richard Lovett and Kevin Huvane are paying themselves $15 million a year, caalogo.jpgtheir tenpercentery is buzzing that the bonuses for the agents who work for them will be cut by another 10% this year. Actually, the total trim is 20% over two years because the agency slashed bonuses by 10% back in 2006. And all because the CAA partners spent too much money on their pet projects. Here are some of the figures I’m hearing: Moving to that Century City monument to ego, which was Bryan Lourd’s idea, cost CAA around $30M to $35M. Buying a sports agency business, which was Richard Lovett’s idea, racked up another $30M to $40M. Setting up in China, which also was Lovett’s idea, meant an additional $5M to $10M. And let’s not forget that CAA can’t negotiate better than zero upfront money for a star like Jim Carrey. So now the children have to suffer because the adults can’t balance their check book. Or is it the other way around?

Meanwhile, there are more rumors about Bart Walker leaving CAA, this time to partner with indie prince John Sloss. I can’t imagine anyone even cares since Walker clients like Sofia Coppola and Julie Taymor aren’t on must-hire lists. Yet a CAA partner swore to me 11 days ago that Walker was not exiting the tenpercentery when the rumor swept Hollywood that Bart had been fired. Then again, CAA has this habit of placing its discarded agents around the Industry and making … Read More »

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DHD Update: Postings Resume Tonight

By | Wednesday August 22, 2007 @ 5:43pm PDT

Thanks for your patience. And your continuing tips!

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Michael Bay Switches Support To HD-DVD

By | Tuesday August 21, 2007 @ 4:00pm PDT

This is hilarious. A few hours after director Michael Bay declared “No Blu-Ray, No ‘Transformers’ 2!” (and nearly gave poor Paramount boss Brad Grey a panic attack), he has backtracked. By the way, to answer all your questions about my personal views, I honestly don’t care which format takes over; I just want ONE format to win already. And the funniest email I’ve received these past few days has to be this: “The most upsetting part of your story is the possibility that the future of home entertainment might hinge in any way on what Michael Bay says or does. Horrifying, even.” As for my own opinion, now I understand why his ‘The Island’ sucked so bad. Anyway, here’s what the helmer just posted on his “Shoot For The Edit” website. Interesting how quickly and easily he became a new convert to HD DVD:

“Last night at dinner I was having dinner with three Blu-ray owners. They were pissed about no Transformers Blu-ray, and I drank the Kool-Aid hook, line and sinker. So at 1:30 in the morning I posted — nothing good ever comes out of early AM posts, mind you — I over reacted. I heard where Paramount is coming from and the future of HD and players that will be close to the $200 mark which is the magic number. I like what I heard.

As a director, I’m all about people seeing films in the best quality possible, and I saw and heard firsthand people upset about a corporate decision.

So today

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Death Deal For Tribune Pensions OKayed

By | Tuesday August 21, 2007 @ 11:27am PDT

News reports say Tribune Co shareholders today formally voted to approve an $8.2 billion plan to take the company private. The company said 97% of the shares cast OKed the $34-a-share buyout led by a group that includes Chicago real estate tycoon Sam Zell. Half the company’s shares were already bought back at the $34 price. Wall Street is liking this deal less and less, and Tribune stock fell below $26 in last week’s downturn. tribdeal1.JPGAs to questions whether the funding will remain in place, chief executive Dennis FitzSimons told shareholders the buyout accord has a “tightly written” clause governing any pullout by the financing group that’s based on adverse developments in the newspaper industry as a whole, rather than just at Tribune. Because of that, FitzSimons said, ”we don’t anticipate, nor do our financing sources anticipate, an invocation of that clause.” FitzSimons reiterated that Tribune expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter, pending approval by federal regulators, and he added that Tribune’s isn’t planning to shed any newspaper assets as part of the buyout. Today’s stock price is right near $28. Meanwhile, I still say that Tribune’s 20,000 employees including those at the Los Angeles Times will get screwed by the Zell/ESOP plan which depends upon cash flow results to pay down the massive debt.

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Director Michael Bay Says To Paramount: No Blu-Ray, So No ‘Transformers’ Sequel!

By | Tuesday August 21, 2007 @ 9:58am PDT


UPDATE: Michael Bay Changes Mind

There’s more fallout today from yesterday’s announcement that Paramount has gone from supporting both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats to just the losing high-def format HD. An obviously vexed Michael Bay wrote in a forum posting on his “Shoot for the Edit” website that he will not make a Transformers sequel because of it. ”I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For them to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks! They were progressive by having two formats. No Transformers 2 for me!” Bay’s outburst is thought to be the first time a director has openly criticised a studio for its choice of high-def formats. And this’ll come as a surprise to the studio bosses who have been salivating over the brand new franchise. My question to Paramount is: was the $50 million I reported for the deal really worth it?

spielbergredbrad11.jpgMeanwhile, I hear that Paramount’s decision could also cause problems with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas over the Indiana Jones franchise. I’ve got more clarification about the helmer’s format fence-sitting position which was highlighted in that one line notation yesterday. Spielberg’s Paramount movies like Saving Private Ryan and War of the Worlds are not included in that studio’s HD DVD deal. Nor will the director give permission to Universal to include his titles (like Jaws, E.T., and Jurassic Park) in that studio’s long-time exclusive support of the HD DVD format. Spielberg, … Read More »

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Will the Last Limato Assistant To Leave ICM Please Turn Off The Lights?

By | Tuesday August 21, 2007 @ 8:11am PDT

ICM didn’t renew the contract of Jim Osborne, whose clients included Hayden Christensen and who is another former Ed Limato protégé. The agency expects to retain Jim’s clients.

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‘Lone Survivor’ Book To Be Universal Film

By | Monday August 20, 2007 @ 10:47am PDT

lone-survivor.JPGI just heard that Universal won the negotiations and acquired (not just optioned) The New York Times No. 1 non-fiction bestseller Lone Survivor and Navy Seal author Marcus Luttrell’s underlying life rights for seven figures. (I hear $2 million upfront, plus 5% against adjusted gross, as well as other payments.) This follows a frenzied Hollywood bidding war that included Sony, Warner and DreamWorks (which really wanted the book for Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay). I’m told that Barry Spikings brought the project to Akiva Goldsman, who in turn took it to Pete Berg. Putting Spikings and Goldsman on as producers, Uni bought the book for Berg who’ll be writing and directing this as his next project for his Film 44 production company. luttrell.JPGHe, of course, is the director of the upcoming The Kingdom about a team of U.S. government agents sent to investigate the bombing of an American facility in the Middle East. Uni made that pic as well as United 93; that helmer Paul Greengrass is adapting Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s book about the Green Zone in Baghdad, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, for the studio as well. How interesting that liberal Hollywood was so hot for this latest patriotic tell-all by a proud conservative. Book agent Ed Victor and Hollywood lawyer Alan U. Schwartz of Greenberg Traurig brokered the Lone Survivor deal. This seems to be another in … Read More »

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Apatow’s ‘Superbad’ Superbetter: $33M

By | Monday August 20, 2007 @ 10:20am PDT

Sony’s Superbad had a better than expected Sunday so the official weekend total is now $33 mil, not just $31 mil. “We had an exceptional hold, one of the best I have ever seen, and it looks like we will be only down about 2% off of Saturday’s number.” See my previous: ‘Superbad’ Trounces Competition & Helps Summer 2007 For Record

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UPDATE: Desperation Move & Cash Grab? Or Bloodier Blu-ray/HD-DVD Format War?

By | Sunday August 19, 2007 @ 11:46pm PDT

hdstudios.JPGMONDAY AM UPDATE: Here’s the official Hollywood announcement today. Note how there’s no mention of the money Paramount (I’m told $50 million) and DreamWorks Animation (I’m told $100 million) is receiving for “promotional consideration” from the HD DVD side to continue with what is widely recognized as the losing high-def format. Also note that Fox and MGM right afterwards announced today they were releasing even more Blu-ray titles. Also note that Steven Spielberg is still fence-sitting (although this fall Sony will release in Blu-ray its catalogue title Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, the first of Spielberg’s pictures to do so in either format). Sources are telling me these moves are “really out of desperation” by HD DVD and ”a cash grab” by the studios. Hollywood was lopsided in favor of Blu-ray: until now, 7 of the 8 major movie studios (Disney, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) supported Blu-ray, and 5 of them (Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) release their movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. Only Universal was exclusively HD-DVD. The $100 mil is a huge $$$ infusion for the Shrek-dependent public company DreamWorks Animation — especially curious because, earlier this year, Jeff Katzenberg told a Bank of America conference that he expected “neither” high-def DVD format to win the war “because they’re not going to become the next platform.” I have more analysis below:

“Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc. and DreamWorks Animation SKG each announced today that they will exclusively support the next-generation HD

Read More »

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‘High School Musical 2′ Breaks TV Records

By | Sunday August 19, 2007 @ 12:08pm PDT

News reports say early Nielsens show that Friday’s premiere of The Disney Channel’s made for TV High School Musical 2 was the most-watched basic cable television program of all time. With 17.2 million viewers, it was also the most-watched basic cable movie of all time, the highest-rated television program ever for children age 6 to 11 and the second-highest-rated television program of all time (behind only the 2004 Super Bowl) for viewers age 9 to 14. It also was the most-viewed Friday television telecast, cable or broadcast, in the past five years. Now the $7 million musical sequel will be shown in 100 countries. All this shows that TV viewers will respond to good, clean, energetic fun. hs2a.JPG(As Time magazine reviewed, “It’s a raging bacchanal of hand holding, milk drinking and explicit thespianism!”) The pic’s phenomenal success clearly means that not everything in entertainment has to be edgy. Could Hollywood suddenly be hungry for clean-cut? The pic’s star, tween hearthrob Zac Efron (the 19 year old with pipes known for his blue eyes and bowl haircut), is now taking meetings with Francis Ford Coppola.

The sequel repeated Saturday night and tonight there’s a sing-along. (Fans are supposed to download song lyrics off the Internet.) Just think about it: the little $4.2 million Kenny Ortega directed and choreographed original movie urging kids to be true to their dreams has been seen by more than 160 million people around the world. Most importantly to … Read More »

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‘Superbad’ Trounces Competition & Helps Summer 2007 Stay On Track For Record

By | Sunday August 19, 2007 @ 7:49am PDT

SUNDAY AM: It was the 6th “up” weekend in a row in overall summer box office which looks increasingly likely to set a new record for 2007. Summer to date’s domestic box office revenues of $3.82 billion (Media By Numbers) this year already have passed 2006. So the all-time record for May 1st through Labor Day is certain to go down since 2004 was the precedent setter with $3.95 billion. large_superbad.jpgSony’s Superbad helped by doing supergood at the domestic box office this weekend as the studio told me Judd Apatow’s low-cost coming of age comedy opened with a surprisingly big $31.2 million from 2,948 theaters. “It trounced all expectations,” a studio source explained. This is the only time a summer movie released after August 15th has gone over $30M. The breakdown of moviegoers seeing Superbad was 52% male and 48% female, with 60% of the debut weekend audience between the ages of 18-30. Once again, the comedy wheel from the fertile mind of mogul-in-the-making Apatow and his buddies produced another sweet but raunchy laugher that both young and older moviegoers want to see after months of bloated blockbusters. Instead of hundreds of millions, Superbad cost only $20M. For weeks the pic’s awareness level tracked lower than had been hoped, but great reviews made the difference for $12.3 mil Friday and $10.4 mil Saturday and a projected $8.4 mil Sunday. Here’s the rest of the updated … Read More »

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Who Knew There Was Talent At Morris?

By | Saturday August 18, 2007 @ 3:34pm PDT

On Friday, a William Morris assistant sent out an email (see below) to scores of the agency’s staff members and some outsiders as well. wma.jpgThis is a lesson in what assistants should never do. Shai Steinberger (Harvard ’04) worked for WMA’s David Lonner and Jeff Shumway. His email is a slice of life of what it’s like to work there. Good thing Steinberger is going back into stand-up. Because it’s safe to say he’ll never get a job at a tenpercentery again. On the other hand, he should get a TV development deal:

08/17/2007 05:03 PM
To: BHAssts, bhagents, BHMailroom, BHTrainees, BHFloaters, NYAssts, NYAgents, Accounting, IT, BHHelp
Subject: I love you, WMA

Dear Friends,
After an incredibly rewarding 2+ years, I am moving on from WMA.  It is not going to be easy leaving behind the two best-looking Indian men in the United States and the sexiest Chief Operating Officer in the entertainment business (Hi Irv!) but a man’s gotta follow his dream: Beginning next week, I will be a tattoo artist at “Hal’s Tattoos and Piercings” in Venice Beach.

There are a lot of things I am going to miss about this place.  I will miss Mario De Leon’s enlightening speeches about the cutthroat nature of the entertainment business.  I will miss mistaking Molly Sims for a new assistant and urging her to come quickly to the Atrium for free Koo Koo Roo on a Thursday night. I will miss whooping and hollering at the top of my lungs

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Why Didn’t LA Times’ Chuck Philips Use U.S. Attorney Statement About Seagal?

By | Saturday August 18, 2007 @ 2:28pm PDT

chuckphillips.jpgIn Friday’s article about Steven Seagal and the Pellicano scandal, Los Angeles Times staff writer Chuck Philips regurgitated claims about the conduct of the U.S. Attorney’s office from one of Seagal’s attorney’s, Jan L. Handzlik. dojseal.gifThen Philips wrote: ”Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, declined to comment.” I have learned this is not true. When I asked Mrozek for comment on the Seagal piece, the public information officer forwarded me the statement (see below) he issued to Philips, who even confirmed its receipt to the PIO four minutes later.

I don’t understand why the Pulitzer Prize-winner failed to use it. Then again, it’s been painfully clear that Philips’ agendas (1) upon agendas (2) upon agendas (3) upon agendas (4) logo_latimes.gifwhile covering the Pellicano case has been to carry water for accused Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano’s defense attorneys. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the LA Times should reassign the Pellicano story. I also don’t understand why the Los Angeles Times is refusing to make a correction to Philips’ Friday article or print Mrozek’s statement. Here it is:

From: Mrozek, Thom (USACAC)
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2007 4:41 PM
To: Philips, Chuck
Cc: Thom Mrozek
Subject: Response re: Jan quote

OK, this is official…..should be attributed to me.

“We never comment on discussions we

Read More »

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More On Merv & The Hollywood Reporter

By | Saturday August 18, 2007 @ 1:03pm PDT

I’m told that The Hollywood Reporter‘s newly named editor Elizabeth Guider misled Merv Griffin’s people. logo_hollywood-reporter.gifThey were told by her on Friday that Ray Richmond’s claims about the TV legend’s personal life had been removed from the paper’s website and blog. But she did not inform them until 24 hours later that she restored the commentary almost immediately. Guider’s email sent to them today said she made her decision after deciding the piece was not “malicious, mendacious or unfair-minded”. Griffin’s people have canceled a planned tribute ad Monday in THR. I understand that The Hollywood Reporter‘s publisher John Kilcullen was away when this controversy erupted. The troubled trade plagued by staff defections and other turmoil has received a multitude of Industry complaints about its decision to run Friday’s article. It appeared on the day of the funeral mass for Griffin. See my previous:

  • H’wood Reporter Removes Then Restores Richmond’s Merv Piece On Blog & Website
  • Why’d The Hollywood Reporter Do That?
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    Sick Of Bloated Blockbusters, Filmgoers Flock To Small Teen Comedy ‘Superbad’

    By | Saturday August 18, 2007 @ 7:01am PDT


    SUNDAY AM: Sony’s Superbad did supergood at the domestic box office this weekend as the studio told me Judd Apatow’s low-cost coming of age comedy opened with a surprisingly big $31.2 million from 2,948 theaters. large_superbad.jpg“It trounced all expectations,” a studio source explained to me. This is the only time a summer movie released after August 15th has gone over $30M. “We started the summer in a record way and are finishing it that way,” a Sony exec told me. The breakdown of moviegoers seeing Superbad was 52% male and 48% female, with 60% of the debut weekend audience between the ages of 18-30. “Word of mouth carried this film nicely,” an exec said. After weeks when the pic’s awareness level was tracking lower than had been hoped, overwhelmingly great reviews from even prestige media like The New York Times made the difference for $12.3 mil Friday and $10.4 mil Saturday and a projected $8.4 mil Sunday. Once again, the comedy wheel from the fertile mind of mogul-in-the-making Apatow and his buddies produced another sweet but raunchy laugher that both young and older moviegoers wanted to see after months of bloated blockbusters. (And my savvy box office gurus predicted back on May 1st that this pic would be the late-summer sleeper.) Instead of hundreds of millions of dollars, Superbad cost only $20M. ”So the budget-to-gross ratio on this one could be really something special when we get to … Read More »

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    Ben’s ‘Bring Back Sexy’ NBC Peacock Tatt

    By | Friday August 17, 2007 @ 4:17pm PDT

    peacock-ben.JPGI love Ben Silverman because he’s the gift that keeps on giving me material. Another day, so another antic. His latest took place at Tuesday’s one-day retreat in Santa Monica at Shutters On The Beach for NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios personnel. Ben and co-chairman Marc Graboff were leading the so-called “brainstorming”. (Hey, stop laughing.) Silverman moderated one panel about how TV and the Internet can work together featuring execs from MySpace, ACT! videogames division, and MSN. But Ben also planned a little motivational stunt. Before the confab, he had made NBC peacock tattoos (the temporary peel-off kind), and asked certain NBC employees to place them on their bodies. Graboff put one on his chest. Flackmeister Rebecca Marks put one on her lower ankle. And two women lifted their T-shirts and put them in the small of their backs. (No doubt taking literally the exec’s mantra that he’s ”just trying to bring sexy back” to the fourth-place network.) No one knew about any of this until the end of the conference when Ben asked everyone to show their NBC spirit — and the select group unveiled their peacock tattoos. (I’m told some peons can’t get the peacocks to peel off. So now they can’t be buried in Jewish cemeteries.) I sure hope these gimmicks – remember the set of chimes he brought to meetings to play the three-note NBC jingle whenever a happy moment occured? — help NBC’s primetime prospects. So far his other stunts for fall include hiring gay-baiter Isaiah Washington on Bionic Woman, getting Jerry Seinfeld … Read More »

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