robertshaye.jpgEXCLUSIVE: I’m told that New Line Cinema founders Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne are meeting with Jeff Bewkes this week to talk about their contracts which expire this year. Sources say it’s virtually certain that the studio pair will be shown the door. I hear this isn’t coming as a surprise to Shaye or Lynne, either: they’re expecting the new Time Warner chief to end their tenure at the studio they founded in 1967, sold to Ted Turner’s Turner Broadcasting System in 1994, and brought under Time Warner’s control in 1996 (when the Big Media conglomerate merged with the Atlanta company). While fellow Turner-owned studio Castle Rock eventually became absorbed into Warner Bros, New Line was kept a separate entity where Shaye/Lynne had considerable autonomy. This was always a sore point inside the media giant, less so when New Line was making gobs of money with its Austin Powers and Lord Of The Rings film franchises, more so in recent years because of a steady stream of budget busters and box office losers (including 2007′s bomb The Last Mimzy which Shaye foolishly directed himself and costly over-marketed).

I can’t pinpoint just when the formal announcement of Shaye’s and Lynne’s departures will come, but it’s a safe bet that New Line will be folded into Warner Bros as a result, moving such premium projects as the long anticipated back-to-back feature films of that beloved book The Hobbit. Well, it’s about time! Kudos to Bewkes for having the brass balls to make this bold move. I’ve found Bastard Bob’s behavior over this past year to be abhorrent, from his studio’s legal shenanigans with Peter Jackson to his own “Lord Of The Rants” attacks on director after director who’s made money for New Line. Good thing Shaye will be leaving sooner rather than later: I was running out of pejoratives (like “prick” and “idiot”) to describe him.

For background, see my previous stories:

  1. Peter Jackson And Bob Shaye Settle; Jackson Will Exec Produce ‘Hobbit’
  2. Another Reason Bob Shaye Should Retire
  3. The Dog Ate New Line’s Balance Sheets…
  4. Bob Shaye’s Mea Culpa Too Little Too Late
  5. It’s Official! Carlisle To New Line
  6. Is This Russell’s New Line Replacement?
  7. Another Reason Why Bob Shaye Is A Prick
  8. Bob Shaye Looks Like Even Bigger Idiot…
  9. Studios To Fight Over Unusual Peter Jackson Pic Deal (But Not New Line)
  10. Bombs Away: Shaye’s ‘Mimzy’ Tracking 0
  11. Peter Jackson Answers Lord Of The Rants

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