Richard Konigsberg was among the Ed Limato protégé agents summarily dismissed by ICM (and by the way, he did “turn off the lights”). On August 25th, I reported that Konigsberg was going to Paradigm. In fact, he wound up changing his mind and started his own management company, RKM. ”For 12 years I received a priceless education working at ICM for and with my mentor Ed Limato. I then had the opportunity to sit down with Sam Gores, another kind of visionary,” Konigsberg emails me. “It struck me after meeting over at Paradigm that I wanted to be in control of my own destiny. So here I sit. RKM is open for business.” He says that Limato, the William Morris Agency, and ICM have all embraced his new venture. Nice to know that someone could bring those folks together.
So CBS’ despicable child exploitation series masquerading as a reality show Kid Nation premieres tomorrow. Many of the network’s biggest advertisers have passed on it. Newspaper editorials have condemned it. Children were hurt making it. Les Moonves manipulated his board of directors because of it. Speaking of that board, much has been made of the fact that CBS refused to send out advance screeners to TV critics. But I’ve learned that the network has not even given its board of directors an opportunity to see the series in advance. Instead, the directors will wind up watching the show along with the rest of the nation. The board doesn’t even get the courtesy of the screenings which CBS has set up at a few elementary schools in major TV markets like Miami, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston and Denver. So I have to ask: on what planet is this considered adequate corporate governance, especially since Kid Nation has taken on the dimensions of a national scandal? I’ve also discovered that the board was told only about those injuries to Kid Nation children which the media first revealed. So no full accounting of every doctor or nurse or hospital visit by the kids, or description of their injuries, was ever provided by CBS to its directors despite requests. Shameful. For more background and detail, read my previous: Moonves Should Pull the Plug on Kid Nation
Everyone knows there’s a “20-minute” rule in Hollywood. As in, if you’re late to a meeting or a lunch because of gridlock on the freeway or surface streets, you get 20 minutes to arrive without anyone thinking the worst of you. Now comes a new study showing that the Los Angeles metropolitan area leads the nation in traffic jams, with rush-hour drivers spending an extra 72 hours a year on average stuck in traffic. Which reminds me of a phone conversation I had one day with a studio mogul who was stuck in traffic. “Don’t they know I’m late?” he admonished. “There should be a special lane for important people.” I told him there was — but he’d have to move to Russia where, in certain parts of Moscow, Kremlin chiefs get their own traffic lane. That shut him up.
Hollywood is now indulging in a different kind of rehab substitute. It’s intense and round the clock sober companionship, aka “The Sober Buddy”. Rather than spending the standard 60 to 90 days in a clinic like Promises or Betty Ford, the actor or actress or exec hires a sober companion to keep on track. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, this coach by your side makes sure you stay clean. Such intense monitoring doesn’t come cheap, as ABC News– which claims Owen Wilson has a sober buddy – found out from Douglas Caine, founder of Sober Champion with offices in LA, NYC and London. Caine says his prices range from $450 to $1,500 a day for care. as it happens, art is imitating life: Jim Carrey is supposedly still linked to a Universal project in development titled Sober Buddies to play a court appointed “sober buddy” to a hard-partying businessman needing an alcohol-free biz trip to Vegas. The glitch? The sober buddy falls off the wagon himself. Then again, Carrey’s recent projects do have a habit of falling apart.
One of my fave film critics personally and professionally today launched a new blog named The Projectionist as “a place for second thoughts, third thoughts, musings both important and self-indulgent, and — I hope — a fluid exchange with readers”. New York mag’s David Edelstein plans to post several times each week, noting, “a blog is organic, and you never know if it will turn you into The Hulk or the Incredible Shrinking Man.” Edelstein joined New York as film critic in January 2006, coming from Slate. He is also film critic for NPR’s Fresh Air and an occasional commentator on film for CBS Sunday Morning.
I usually report the worst of the network suits. But I’m not adding my liberal voice to the growing chorus of conspiracy theorists who believe that Fox “censored” Sally Field’s Emmy antiwar statements because of its political content. (See video of her full statement here vs what actually ran on TV here.) The network bleeped curse words three times during acceptance speeches last night: when Field used ”goddamn” and when Katherine Heigl mouthed, “Oh shit”, and when Ray Romano joked about his former Everybody Loves Raymond TV wife Patricia Heaton ”screwing” Kelsey Grammar on their new show, Back to You. According to Fox: ”Some language during the live broadcast may have been considered inappropriate by some viewers. As a result, Fox’s broadcast standards executives determined it appropriate to drop sound during those portions of the show.” A network rep insisted to reporters that Fox did not censor Field’s comments for their political content, noting she did talk about the war before she was cut off. I actually think he’s right. To its credit, Fox stayed on Field during almost all of her anti-war statements — when she was somewhat calm during the first part of her speech, then even after the applause when she looked out of control. The network tuned her out only after she said “goddamn” when she was a few words from finishing. This wasn’t even a close call.
SUNDAY AM: Expectedly, Jodie Foster’s star turn in The Brave One was good enough for the top spot of the U.S. box office. But it made only $13.5 mil from 2,755 theaters for what was a lower than expected weekend. (Projections had been $17M-$20M.) The good news is that Jodie remains one of the few Hollywood actresses still able to open a pic these days. The bad news? Only mixed reviews, an R-rating, and dark morality tale / revenge pic content did not produce the wider appeal of her PG-13 thriller Flightplan. Worse was the way The Brave One was promoted as a feminist chick flick by Warner Bros which still can’t market anything but blockbusters. Overall, this remains a very slow time at the box office, with Friday’s totals 3% behind last year.
In 2nd place is Lionsgate’s 3:10 To Yuma, which continues to underperform despite terrific reviews and talent like Russell Crowe, Christian Bale and director Jim Mangold. It dipped only 34% its 2nd weekend out and took in $9.2 mil from 2,667 runs for a new cume of $28.5 mil. New Line’s PG-13 horribly reviewed Mr. Woodcock managed #3, once again demonstrating that there’s no movie too stupid and too awful that American audiences won’t go to see. It debuted for $8.6 mil Friday through Sunday from 2,231 venues. Don’t let that placement fool you: this is the latest bomb for New Line. I’m told the pic had major reshoots and ended up costing around $45 million. …
… is Andy Cohen, Bravo’s senior v-p of production and programming. He has to be the most annoying host to be foisted upon TV viewers in a long, long time. Of course, there’s the obvious conflict of interest issue. (Did he audition himself? Yes, but claims in interviews that he did so with ”support and encouragement from my bosses. I don’t have the power to say, ‘OK, well, now I want a show at eight o’clock every night, so that’s what I’m gonna do’.”) But it’s also never a good idea to put a showbiz suit in front of the camera anyway, unless that executive has the charm and charisma of a Brandon Tartikoff (and even he had the good sense to know that a little of himself went a long way). Cohen is uber-awful. He’s Mr. Tries Too Hard because he must know he lacks the chops. Not only can’t he referee a group, he’s worse when attempting to interview: his questions are inchoate, he never asks follow-ups, and he’s uncomfortable to watch. I’m certainly not the first person to think this, and I won’t be the last. Enough already. Cohen’s bosses needed to keep him confined to the Internet where he can’t do any harm and leave on-air hosting to the pros.
As usual, Vanity Fair‘s James Wolcott elegantly sums up the issue at hand regarding that creepy blogger email I reported: read his commentary here.
New Info Throughout: It’s always an event when she comes out with a film, since she’s one of the few Hollywood actresses still consistently able to open a pic these days. But can Jodie Foster do it again with The Brave One which received only mixed reviews? Problem is, this is a dark R-rated morality tale / revenge pic and not the wider appeal PG-13 thriller Flightplan was. I say The Brave One‘s box office prospects are more on the order of Foster’s similarly feminist themed The Accused from 1988. Worse is the way The Brave One has been promoted: producer Joel Silver has taken to calling it a “muscular chick flick” which I think is a huge mistake. Not only are chick flicks failing at the box office, unless they’re of the lite variety like The Devil Wears Prada, Warner Bros still can’t market anything except big bloated blockbusters. All of the above is why my box office gurus expect The Brave One to finish the weekend No. 1, but, while some see a $20 mil domestic gross from 2,755 theaters, others expect only high teens ($17 mil). That’s still enough to put Foster head and shoulders above that other Oscarwinner Nicole Kidman box office-wise. The analysts say Lionsgate’s 3:10 To Yuma in 2,667 dates should keep a good -40% hold on its audience for #2. In the third spot should sit yet another new …
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Because of the Jewish holiday and my personal business, DHD posting will not be 24/7 until Monday. In the meantime, email me your tips…
So I gotta ask: Why? Has the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences lost its collective mind? The Oscar broadcast drew just 38.9 million viewers on Jon Stewart’s watch in 2006. That number was smaller than the 39.9 million drawn by this year’s ceremony hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. (Compare both to the 55 million who tuned in for Billy Crystal back in 1998. Those were the good old days.) I was on the radio that Oscar morning in 2006 and Australian Broadcasting Corp. said they’d never heard of Jon Stewart and asked me to explain who he is. Great host choice for international audiences. Now AMPAS is choosing him — again — to host their 80th awards on February 24th? Here’s what I wrote about his Academy Award gig back in 2006, Why Jon Bombed:
“At least Jon Stewart admitted he was a poor choice to host the Oscars, given that his film experience amounted to little more than ‘the fourth male lead from Death to Smoochy.’ That filmed bit of schtick at the start of the telecast underscored how hard it is to get a decent host for this nightmare of a show. So it was inevitable that he’d bomb. And, yes, bomb he did. He looked nervous and edgy, his timing was way off, his standup ran in super slow-mo, and his jokes flatlined. What’s more, he didn’t even try to make excuses for the movie industry; …
Hollywood has no institutional memory. One of the reasons that the vast majority of its execs aren’t in therapy, and should be, is because they don’t want to talk about the past even if it’s prologue. They’re purposefully amnesiac. Otherwise, they’d have to confront the lunatic decisions they make over and over again (since repeating the same behavior and expecting different results is one definition of insanity). Which is why I want to revisit Summer 2007 whose $4.18 billion worth of threequels and blockbusters smashed the May 1st through Labor Day domestic box office gross record. (Not adjusted for inflation or ticket prices, however, which is why Hollywood stats have as many asterisks these days as does baseball.) It’s not that Hollywood denizens started doing everything right. It’s more like they just started doing less things wrong. The product is still terrible. The process is still tainted. The system is still broken. Feed it with praise and its players will never engage in the introspection necessary to ask, “What the hell are we doing even playing this rotten game?” So let me review what Hollywood learned during its summer vacation:
Don’t make threequels with cast and director intact: So the first Spider-Man and Pirates Of The Caribbean and Rush Hour were humongous hits. And the sequels made even more moolah than the originals primarily because original stars Tobey Maguire, Johnny Depp and Chris Tucker were on board as well as repeat helmers Sam Raimi, Gore Verbinski and, yes, even Brett Ratner. …
With the success of this summer’s Harry Potter And The Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros announced today that its five Harry Potter films have combined to become the top-grossing film franchise worldwide in history. It surpasses even the box office total of all 22 James Bond and 6 Star Wars franchises, with two films yet to come – Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The combined worldwide box office gross for the five Harry Potter films to date is in excess of $4.47 billion even as The Order Of The Phoenix is still going strong in theaters around the globe. In addition to holding the franchise box office record, all five of the Harry Potter films are among the 20 top-grossing box office hits of all time. The next Harry Potter film, Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, will open on November 21, 2008. The seventh and final film, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, is planned for a 2010 release. None of this comes as much of a surprise since the Harry Potter films have truly been a cut above in terms of production and casting with perfect plotting provided by J.K. Rowling. Still, the studio should be congratulated for keeping up the quality. And Warner Bros Entertainment and Universal Orlando Resort have “The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter” coming to Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park in late 2009.
At least advertisers are showing they have a conscience, even if Les Moonves continues to demonstrate he doesn’t. Advertising Age surveyed CBS’ top 10 advertisers and found that half won’t support the controversial reality show. Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Ford Motor, Verizon Communications, Pepsi-Cola and Anheuser-Busch all should be rewarded for taking a pass on the series that begins September 19th. (Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson declined to comment, AT&T and GlaxoSmithKline didn’t return calls, and National Amusements owns the network.) “Kid Nation is just not in our brand strategy at this point,” a GM spokesman told the trade. But when Advertising Age tried to list which advertisers were supporting the program, media buyers refused to name them. Can you spell s-h-a-m-e, boys and girls?
Finke/LA Weekly: A Mogul With No Conscience
Summer TV is usually a seemingly endless wasteland of network repeats and reality shows. But Summer 2007 gave us some of the best scripted series ever on cable with the return of TNT’s The Closer, TBS’ The Boys, even USA Network’s Monk and Psych. I know newcomers TNT’s State Of Grace, Lifetime’s Army Wives, Side Order Of Life and State Of Mind have their admirers, but I’m not one of them — although each of these series is still above average. Instead, like everyone, I jumped on AMC’s Mad Men bandwagon for all the obvious reasons: quality production, quality scripts, quality cast. Not only is Jon Hamm mesmerizing as a cross between Clive Owen and Bruce Willis, but Vincent Kartheiser is surprising as Topher Grace’s evil twin. Just seeing recurring themes like sexism, anti-Semitism and homophobia from that specific time and place, plus attitudes about adultery, alcohol, smoking and therapy, is a valuable history lesson in how the hell we got into the societal mess we’re in today. Funny how inconsequential the actual business of advertising is to the heart of this drama by Sopranos producer Matthew Weiner, but that can rectified during the second season. And there must be a third and fourth sooner rather than later.
My other favorite summer scripted series is USA Networks’ Burn Notice which gifts us again with a new and improved Jeffrey Donovan (since he was unwatchable …
UPDATE: Starting Friday night, and intensifying all weekend, I heard the proverbial “word on the street” rumors that George Lane, theater talent agent extraordinaire, is the next to go (or to have gone … as per the announcement will come eventually) at CAA. He was the reason the tenpercentery started a Gotham office when in March 2003 he stunned Broadway by bolting William Morris as senior VP and changing the legit landscape in terms of agencies. Now CAA weighs in with me and officially denies that Lane is exiting. I’m told Lane is perplexed how the rumors even started. He has long repped some of the top playwrights and directors in New York theater. He heralded a more energetic approach to theater by CAA (which at one point housed its theater agent in the I.M. Pei building’s basement). Known as a difficult agent among producers because of his long list of demands, Lane was responsible recently for putting CAA star Julia Roberts in that widely panned revival from his client Richard Greenberg directed by another client Joe Mantello, Three Days Of Rain. Here’s a photo of Lane with client from BroadwayWorld.com.