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SHOCKER: Charlie Koones Exits Variety

By | Wednesday November 28, 2007 @ 10:10am PST

koones.jpgI just got off the phone with Charlie who laughed when I asked if this was another one of those “I’m leaving to spend more time with my family” job exits. ”While I adore my family, this isn’t about that. And though I just turned 45, it’s not a premature mid-life crisis either,” said the president and publisher of Variety and Reed Business Entertainment Group since 2000. “I’ve stayed here for 17 years because I’ve been able to do new things. But now I’ve done what I can do here. It’s my time to find private equity or venture capital and find a business and be an entrepreneur. I couldn’t be more excited.”

While I’ve had my differences with Variety as a publication, Koones is a real gentleman and Hollywood will miss him when he leaves March 1. Taking his place as president and publisher is Neil Stiles, currently division managing director for Reed Business. variety-logo.jpgKoones started with Variety in ad sales in NYC. When Daily Variety and Weekly Variety were put together, he was brought to Los Angeles to run marketing. He helped get Variety into the special issues business, then took over sales and marketing. In 1998, he launched Variety.com and also the Gotham edition. In addition to his present position, he has portfolio responsibility over Marketcast, the marketing research company he acquired for Reed in 1999 to compete with NRG.

What I wanna … Read More »

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“Speechless” #15: ‘Just What’s On The Page’ (Josh Brolin, James Franco)

By | Wednesday November 28, 2007 @ 9:48am PST

CAST: (in order of appearance): Demi Moore, Martin Sheen, Dulcy Rogers, Marguerite Moreau, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Deitrich Bader, Olivia Wilde, Marcia Cross, Chris Redman, Josh Brolin, Jenna Elfman, Elizabeth Pena, Polly Shannon, Kamala Lopez, James Franco
Director: Paul Haggis
Producer: Kamala Lopez
D of P: Dana Gonzales
Sound: Justin Shumaker
Editor: Kamala Lopez
Technical Team: Joel Marshall, Anthony Marinelli, Clint Bennett

This is the 15th of the Writers Guild Of America member-conceived Internet videos for Project “Speechless” featuring A-list Screen Actors Guild talent. For the first time in the TV and movie industry, high-profile SAG actors are together taking their talents directly and exclusively to the Internet, the very medium which is at the center of the current WGA labor strike against the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The project, conceived by director/writer George Hickenlooper and writer Alan Sereboff, made its exclusive weekend debut here on my Deadline Hollywood Daily with 11 videos. The “Speechless” campaign now debuts on its new site, SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com, which will be adding new videos every day in both high-res and low-res versions.

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CBS Writers Considering Dec 10th Strike To Disrupt Network’s Presidential Debate

By | Wednesday November 28, 2007 @ 8:08am PST

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The WGA is saying that CBS news writers are ‘cbs_news.jpg‘strongly considering” a December 10th strike date. The timing appears to be an attempt by union leadership to disrupt CBS plans for a presidential debate the same day. That’s because several Democratic White House candidates like Barack Obama, John Edwards and Hillary Clinton have all said they won’t  cross a picket line to participate in a debate. So far no exact date is set for a strike, which was authorized by the rank and file earlier this month. The writers working for both the CBS network newscasts and local news stations have been working without a contract for 2 1/2 years.

  • White House Wannabes Won’t Cross Picket
  • CBS News Writers Authorize Strike Call
  • CBS News Writers Tell Strike Vote Monday
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    EXCLUSIVE: Talks Day #2 Still Friendly But Unproductive; “Game Of Chicken”

    By | Wednesday November 28, 2007 @ 4:43am PST

    Tuesday was the day that the writers and the producers were supposed to start considering “new business” during their resumed contract negotiations. But, instead, they just kept focused on old business. Day #2 was supposed to be ”when they really start advancing the ball forward” and “where the rubber can really meet the road,” according to its advance billing. Instead, it was the same old same old.

    strike-talks-day2.jpgAgain, negotiators for the AMPTP presented that “very comprehensive proposal which laid out to all the entire roadmap to the deal” and, again, addressed every single issue. And, again, negotiators for the WGA listened and, again, kept getting up to caucus.

    But where was the new stuff?

    The reps for the studios and networks keep telling me about at least two improvements in their comprehensive proposal presented Monday compared to what was on the table back on Sunday November 4th when the talks broke off and the strike began. “But they also feel that the writers weren’t paying attention and didn’t absorb the proposal back then. So, basically, they presented back what they proposed on November 4th,” an insider in that camp explains to me.

    It took a couple of hours, I’m told, for the AMPTP to do this. “They went over the proposal point by point as though they were delivering a new proposal,” a different source explained to me. “But it was the exact same proposal, though they restated their positions in a friendlier manner.”

    Yet I’ve been repeatedly told by people in … Read More »

    Comments 83

    More From Letterman’s Late Show Writers

    By | Tuesday November 27, 2007 @ 9:22pm PST

    lateshowstriker.jpgI find lateshowwritersonstrike.com consistently the funniest strike blog out there. Some recent gems you may have missed:

    BILL SCHEFT’S STRIKE RELATED DAVE-TYPE MONOLOGUE JOKE OF THE DAY: The hookers in Times Square, God Bless ‘em, are now offering their “Writers Strike Special.” It’s $29.95, but if you let them make a DVD, they’ll give you back four cents.

    THE AMPTP’S CONTRACT PROPOSAL …BY JOE GROSSMAN… Today, the WGA and AMPTP resumed negotiations, and inside sources say the producers finally offered the writers a contract that would pay us using a simple, straightforward formula. Here’s how it works.
    –  The pay-per-letter contract: $0.00 for every use of the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.
    –  .0125¢ for every Q and anything with an umlaut.

    chairs2.jpgNegotiation Ground Rules …BY STEVE YOUNG … The WGA and the AMPTP have agreed that Monday’s negotiations will be governed by the following rules:
    –  Each side may bring one giant inflatable animal.
    –  No hot-dogging or show-boating.
    –  During the 15 minute break, there will be a musical performance by the National Labor Relations Board’s “Rappin’ Mediator.”
    –  The AMPTP must withdraw excessively unfavorable proposals if the WGA team chants “Hey hey, ho ho, corporate greed has got to go.”
    –  Each negotiating team member must bring … Read More »

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    Horror Writers Strike Up Warner Exorcism

    By | Tuesday November 27, 2007 @ 7:28pm PST

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    Here are the deliciously sick photos from today’s “Studio Exorcism” picketing stunt outside Warner Bros organized by the WGA’s horror writers Scott Kosar (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 and The Amityville Horror 2005), Jace Anderson (Crocodile, Rats, Crocodile 2) and Adam Gierasche (who co-wrote with Anderson the upcoming Autopsy and directed it). There’s also a video here. The 60 horror writers said they don’t believe the AMPTP is evil — just that it’s been invaded by the spirits of corporate greed. ”Demons, we cast you OUT!” In case you were wondering why the protesters singled out Warner Bros, it’s because that studio made 1973′s The Exorcist.

    (Pics courtesy of Jim Stevenson)

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    WGA Scolds Carson Daly For Returning ‘To Support Staff’ And Seeking Scab Jokes

    By | Tuesday November 27, 2007 @ 6:07pm PST

    dalychimp.JPGI should start this post by noting that everyone I know, young and old, doesn’t get lunkhead NBC’s Last Call host Carson Daly’s appeal. Indeed, I’ve seen chimps with better TV charisma and good looks and interviewing skills. And yet NBC at the time was so delighted about hiring him just because he dated starlets and pop stars and smarmed MTV. So the network is more enthusiastic than ever now that Daly today announced that he is the first of the late night hosts returning to the air despite the ongoing writers walkout. He plans to resume taping Wednesday for new episodes that will begin airing next week. ”He wanted to go back to support his staffers,” the network spokeswoman said. NBC has informed the non-writing staff of Daly’s show, as well as Jay Leno’s and Conan O’Brien’s, that they face layoffs at the end of this week unless the shows return to the airwaves. (Meanwhile, NBC is so desperate to get Leno back behind The Tonight Show desk that it’s humiliating him with ”vintage” episodes which should be destroyed, not aired.)

    Tonight, the striking Writers Guild of America issued this statement of criticism: “We’re disappointed at Carson Daly’s decision to return to work. Mr. Daly is not a writer and not a member of the WGA, unlike other late-night hosts Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson, and Jimmy Kimmel, who have all resisted network pressure and honored our writers’ picket lines.  We hope he’ll change his mind and follow the lead of the other late-night hosts.”

    The late … Read More »

    Comments 53

    WGAE “Solidarity” Rally Reveals Celebfest

    By | Tuesday November 27, 2007 @ 5:47pm PST

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    wgaemarg.jpgToday’s Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) and Labor Community Solidarity Rally held in NYC’s Washington Square Park was a major celebfest. Almost 1,000 members of the labor community were on hand, including striking writers from the WGAE and WGAW; and representatives from 15 unions including SAG (whose NY president, Sam Freed, is pictured at the podium above), AFTRA, DGA, SEIU, UNITE-HERE, AFT, the national and local AFL-CIOs and the New York City Central Labor Council. Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards spoke to the crowd reaffirming his commitment not to cross WGA picket lines at ABC’s The View and also the upcoming CBS-sponsored Democratic debate. (Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton sent statements.) Actors, writers, and politicians gathered and The Huffington Post’s Patrick Waldo capture them on video, including 30 Rock‘s Tina Fey and Jack McBrayer, SNL‘s Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, Sex and the City‘s Kristin Davis and Evan Handler, The Office‘s Rashida Jones, Tim Robbins, Danny Glover, Gilbert Gottfried, wgaetim.jpgLost‘s Michael Emerson, David Chase, Tony Goldwyn, Edie Falco, Joe Pantoliano, B.J. Novak, Michael Nouri, Julianna Margulies, Anthony Edwards, Eric Begosian, Nancy Giles, John Slattery, Richard Belzer, David Proval, Colin Quinn, and Aasif Mandvi, Tom Fontana, Raven Metzner, Michael Rauch, Jack McBrayer, Frank Gilroy, Peter Hedges, and most of the staffs of The Late Show, SNL, Colbert, etc.

    Tomorrow, the WGAE again pickets Time Warner Center from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

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    Fox Searchlight Wins 11 Indie Spirit Nods

    By | Tuesday November 27, 2007 @ 4:13pm PST

    Paramount Vantage, Miramax, Focus Features and The Weinstein Co grabbed 5 each. But the biggest problem facing the 2008 indie honors held February 23rd (a day before the Oscars during what’s always a much livelier broadcast) is that most of the well awarded films have barely registered at the box office. Granted, their distribution has been limited, But their failure to attract audiences, deservedly or not, is going to hurt their chances in the Academy Awards’ Best Picture category:

    FEATURE
    The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax) – Producers Kathleen Kennedy, Jon Kilik
    I’m Not There (The Weinstein Co) – Producers Christine Vachon, John Sloss, John Goldwyn, James D. Stern
    Juno (Fox Searchlight) – Producers Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith
    A Mighty Heart (Paramount Vantage) – Producers Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton, Brad Pitt
    Paranoid Park (Miramax) – Producers: Neil Kopp, David Cress

    DIRECTOR
    Todd Haynes – I’m Not There
    Tamara Jenkins – The Savages
    Jason Reitman – Juno
    Julian Schnabel – The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
    Gus Van Sant – Paranoid Park

    MALE LEAD
    Pedro Castaneda – August Evening
    Don Cheadle – Talk To Me
    Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Savages
    Frank Langella – Starting Out in the Evening
    Tony Leung – Lust, Caution

    FEMALE LEAD
    Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
    Sienna Miller – Interview
    Ellen Page – Juno
    Parker Posey – Broken English
    Tang Wei – Lust, Caution

    SUPPORTING MALE
    Chiwetel Ejiofor – Talk To Me
    Marcus Carl Franklin – I’m Not There
    Kene Holliday – Great World of Sound
    Irrfan Khan – The Namesake
    Steve Zahn – Rescue Dawn

    SUPPORTING FEMALE
    Cate Blanchett – I’m Not There
    Anna Kendrick –

    Read More »

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    URGENT! Streisand Endorses Hillary

    By | Tuesday November 27, 2007 @ 1:15pm PST

    What a horserace this 2008 Democratic race for the White House is turning out to be. No, not the candidates but the Hollywood endorsements.

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    WGA Horror Writers Plan Studio Exorcism

    By | Tuesday November 27, 2007 @ 10:40am PST

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    Today, some kooky WGA members have scheduled a very spooky protest at 11:30 AM PT that involves presumably fake priests and nuns throwing holy water at Warner Bros Studios. (Oh, yeah, this so-called “studio exorcism” is just gonna thrill Barry Meyer and Alan Horn…) “In a town where accounting is not what it seems, where books are cook’d like witches’ brew, and net profits are cannibalized and passed through the bowls of darkness, where residuals formulae are wrought by prestidigitatory art and fair compensation is a distant dream, one guild risked everything to make a difference and so can you.” I hear free “Horror Writers On Strike — We Eat Scabs” T-shirts will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. And the dress code, of course, is black.

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    EXCLUSIVE: Today’s Talks Productive; “Reasonableness Ruled The Day”

    By | Monday November 26, 2007 @ 9:09pm PST

    I am thrilled to give you a report on how today’s much-anticipated resumed contract talks went between the writers and the producers. And they went well, according to my sources. “It was very productive, very level-headed, and it seemed as though the producers came ready to bargain,” an insider told me tonight. “Reasonableness ruled the day.”

    strike-talks-day1.jpgIn fact, the AMPTP reps for the studios and networks showed up to the first day’s negotiating session since the WGA strike began November 5th with what was described to me as “a very comprehensive proposal which laid out to all the entire roadmap to the deal. Over the course of the session, the producers addressed every single issue, and the writers listened and kept getting up to caucus.”

    According to my sources, both sides spent the session recapping where they’d left off negotiations back on November 4th, which was the last time the WGA and AMPTP faced off. “So they basically went through all the proposals on the table: what they’d already agreed upon, and where they needed to go from here,” an insider explained to me. ”Tomorrow, they really start advancing the ball forward.”

    strikeillust1000.jpgThere will continue to be a news blackout on the contract talks, meaning no end-of-day statements by either the AMPTP or WGA, “because no one wants to be the one to derail any progress.” (My lips are sealed about the site of the meetings.) Both sides plan … Read More »

    Comments 56

    Variety’s Motto: Better Late Than Never

    By | Monday November 26, 2007 @ 8:47pm PST

    How interesting that, more than 15 hours after I filed my report, Dare We Hope A Deal Has Been Struck…?, Variety has finally caught up. Without credit, of course.

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    “Speechless” #14: Susan Sarandon & Chazz Palminteri

    By | Monday November 26, 2007 @ 3:00pm PST

    CAST: Susan Sarandon, Chazz Palminteri
    CREATIVE TEAM: George Hickenlooper, Alan Sereboff, Kamala Lopez, Jill Kushner
    MUSIC: Anthony Marinelli
    TECHNICAL TEAM: Joel Marshall, Justin Shumaker, Clint Bennett

    This is the 14th of the Writers Guild Of America member-conceived Internet videos for Project “Speechless” featuring A-list Screen Actors Guild talent. For the first time in the TV and movie industry, high-profile SAG actors are together taking their talents directly and exclusively to the Internet, the very medium which is at the center of the current WGA labor strike against the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The project, conceived by director/writer George Hickenlooper and writer Alan Sereboff, made its exclusive weekend debut here on my Deadline Hollywood Daily with 11 videos. The “Speechless” campaign now debuts on its new site, SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com, which will be adding new videos every day in both high-res and low-res versions.

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    “Speechless” #13: Ed Asner

    By | Monday November 26, 2007 @ 2:00pm PST

    CAST: Ed Asner
    CREATIVE TEAM: George Hickenlooper, Alan Sereboff, Kamala Lopez, Jill Kushner
    MUSIC: Anthony Marinelli
    TECHNICAL TEAM: Joel Marshall, Justin Shumaker, Clint Bennett

    This is the 13th of the Writers Guild Of America member-conceived Internet videos for Project “Speechless” featuring A-list Screen Actors Guild talent. For the first time in the TV and movie industry, high-profile SAG actors are together taking their talents directly and exclusively to the Internet, the very medium which is at the center of the current WGA labor strike against the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The project, conceived by director/writer George Hickenlooper and writer Alan Sereboff, made its exclusive weekend debut here on my Deadline Hollywood Daily with 11 videos. The “Speechless” campaign now debuts on its new site, SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com, which will be adding new videos every day in both high-res and low-res versions.

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    TOLDJA! Warner’s Jeff Robinov Promoted

    By | Monday November 26, 2007 @ 12:16pm PST

    robinovhorn.jpgHere’s my post from October 12th that reported this would happen and my column from LA Weekly that fleshes out the story. So the Warner Bros news release was just sent to me about Jeff Robinov’s promotion to president of the Warner Bros Pictures Group effective January 2008. He’ll oversee a reorganized division to include worldwide production, marketing and distribution operations as well as Warner Independent Pictures. So this is a very big job. But with limitations because, interestingly, boss Alan Horn still retains final greenlight authority even if he does seem to relinquish day to day oversight of everything else to Robinov. Hollywood will certainly be buzzing about this expected, but still unexpected, development because of the slump that Warner Pictures has been in of late (with a few exceptions). I’ll have a separate analysis later, probably tomorrow…

    November 26, 2007 – Burbank, CA)  Jeff Robinov has been named President of the newly formed Warner Bros. Pictures Group, which brings together the Studio’s motion picture production, marketing and distribution operations as well as Warner Independent Pictures into a single entity. Robinov will assume his new post January 2008, it was announced today by Alan F. Horn, President & Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros., to whom he will continue to directly report, and who will continue to have final greenlight approval of the Studio’s films.

    In his new post, Robinov will assume greatly expanded responsibilities beyond those of his previous position as President,

    Read More »

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    “Speechless” #12: SPEECHLESS ANTHEM

    By | Monday November 26, 2007 @ 9:00am PST

    CAST: David Schwimmer, Kate Beckinsale, Chic Eglee, Susan Sarandon, Benito Martinez, Walton Goggins, Sean Penn, Richard Benjamin, Paula Prentiss, Paula Garces, Garry Marshall, Lizzy Caplan, Holly Hunter, John Amos, Gary Dourdan, Matthew Perry, Bill Hader, Robert Patrick, James Lemar, Joshua Jackson, Matthew Modine, Bill Macy, Andre Benjamin (aka Andre 3000), Rosanna Arquette, Jill Kushner, Chazz Palminteri, Cch Pounder, Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Christine Lahti, Eva Longoria, Patricia Clarkson, Amy Ryan, Frances Fisher, Justine Bateman, Jason Bateman, Ed Asner, Nicolette Sheridan, Felicity Huffman, America Ferrera, Judith Light, Rebecca Romijn, Ana Ortiz, Ashley Jensen, Mark Indelicato, Tony Plana, Freddy Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, Christopher Gorham, Michael Urie, Laura Linney, Alan Cumming, Michael Weatherly, Michael Jace
    CREATIVE TEAM: George Hickenlooper, Alan Sereboff, Kamala Lopez, Jill Kushner, Michal Shemesh
    MUSIC: Mother Tongue
    TECHNICAL TEAM: Joel Marshall, Justin Shumaker

    This is the 12th of the Writers Guild Of America member-conceived Internet videos for Project “Speechless” featuring A-list Screen Actors Guild talent. For the first time in the TV and movie industry, high-profile SAG actors are together taking their talents directly and exclusively to the Internet, the very medium which is at the center of the current WGA labor strike against the Alliance Of Motion Picture & Television Producers. The project, conceived by director/writer George Hickenlooper and writer Alan Sereboff, made its exclusive weekend debut here on my Deadline Hollywood Daily with 11 videos. Starting today, the “Speechless” campaign now debuts on its new site, SpeechlessWithoutWriters.com, which will be adding new videos every day in both high-res … Read More »

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    Dare We Hope A Deal Has Been Struck…?

    By | Monday November 26, 2007 @ 2:38am PST

    strikeillust71.jpgMONDAY PM EXCLUSIVE REPORT: Today’s Talks Productive: “Reasonableness Ruled The Day”

    As the WGA strike begins its 4th week, I’ve been told positive news about today’s resumption of contract talks between the writers and the producers. So positive, in fact, that I’m almost fearful to post it. But here goes: a very reliable source tells me that there appears to be a deal seemingly in place between both sides.

    “It’s already done, basically,” the insider describes. That’s because of the weeks worth of groundwork by the Hollywood agents working the writers guild leadership on one side, and the studio and network moguls on the other. I was told not to expect an agreement this week.  But my source thought it was possible that the strike could be settled before Christmas.

    Look, I don’t want to raise false hope here. But this source has been very accurate in the past. The negotiations starting today will have a news blackout, so don’t expect any significant leaks. But consider the real possibility there’s been a breakthrough. Still, I must caution that this is Hollywood — where defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory nearly every time.

    Read More »

    Comments 65

    Thank You, Readers…

    By | Sunday November 25, 2007 @ 11:16pm PST

    I’m very aware that The New York Times and Bloomberg Financial News would not be writing about my Deadline Hollywood Daily website Monday if it weren’t for your support. Here’s the NYT piece, ”Alternative Journalist’s Web Site Is Scrutinized for Writers’ Strike News.” The Bloomberg story has posted, too, but it has errors.

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