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SAG & AFTRA Together To Set Talks Date

By | Friday February 29, 2008 @ 6:17pm PST

sag.bmp2ND UPDATE: AFTRA Chairman Claims Joint Resolution With SAG “Erroneous” But Admits OKing It; “I Regret I Did Not Object”

PPDATE: Huh? No SAG-AFTRA Lovefest After All?

This is potentially bad news for the AMPTP today. The Hollywood CEOs had been hoping to exploit the longtime bitter rivalry between SAG and AFTRA in order to pit both unions against one another in the run- up to contract negotiations (just as the moguls had done between the DGA and the WGA). But the following joint SAG and AFTRA resolution seems to indicate the start of a new solidarity. “Only when the Chief Negotiators, the Joint Wages and Working Conditions Committee and the Joint National Board of Directors of SAG and AFTRA decide it is strategically the best time to negotiate with our employers will an official statement announcing such decision be made by our unions,” the new resolution says. Here it is in full:

SAG and AFTRA Hollywood Joint Wages and Working Conditions Committee Adopts Resolution

Los Angeles (February 29, 2008) – The Hollywood Joint Wages and Working Conditions Committee of Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists today unanimously adopted the following resolution:

The  Hollywood Joint SAG/AFTRA Wages and Working Conditions Committee, which represents the majority of working actors in this

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WHAT A SURPRISE! Hollywood Only A Bit Player In Feds’ Memo For Pellicano Trial

By | Friday February 29, 2008 @ 3:14pm PST

anthonypellicano.gifAfter all this time — the years, the witnesses before the grand jury, the rumors, and the media coverage — I can tell you that the trial memo filed last night by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the case of United States v. Pellicano, et al is not going to shake up Hollywood one iota. Of course, these are very serious charges against Anthony Pellicano and his co-defendants Mark Arneson (a 29-year veteran of the LAPD), Abner Nicherie (a Las Vegas businessman), Rayford Turner (a former telephone field technician), and Kevin Kachikian (who allegedly developed the “Telesleuth” wiretapping software program for Pellicano). (The prosecution’s case against an additional co-defendant, bigtime entertainment attorney Terry Christensen, will be made in a separate trial). Of course, the alleged activities negatively impacted all the victims’ lives. But this trial memo is a long, long way from the bombshell that many thought would turn Hollywood inside out. Yes, Hollywood figures are mentioned in it prominently. But no specific charges among the 111 counts are leveled against any of them and, in some cases, they’re victims. But perhaps more information will come out at trial since the government said it expects to call approximately 80 to 100 witnesses to testify before the jury. Here are the entertainment-related names in chronological order with the feds’ statement of the case and my own explanation of the showbiz connections:

caa-lourd2.jpg– Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane, the … Read More »

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URGENT ADVISORY: Pellicano Trial Memo

By | Friday February 29, 2008 @ 12:37pm PST

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles has filed the trial memo outlining the case against Anthony Pellicano and his co-defendants. It’s lengthy. Hollywood figures are mentioned in it prominently. I will summarize as quickly as I can for posting.

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Could Pellicano Go Through Two Trials?

By | Friday February 29, 2008 @ 10:22am PST

anthony.jpgIf a federal judge severs a pair of counts from the wiretapping and conspiracy case against Anthony Pellicano, then the imprisoned Hollywood P.I. would have two trials — the one starting Wednesday, and a second to be held later alongside bigwig showbiz attorney Terry Christensen. Pellicano surprised U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer by not objecting to the severance motion. Fischer asked whether Pellicano wanted two trials, and he answered, “Yes.” That’s the reporting from Robert Iafolla in today’s respected legal newspaper, the Los Angeles Daily Journal (online requires subscription). Meanwhile, LADJ and say those last-minute plea bargain talks have stalled with three of The Pelican’s co-defendants.  Meanwhile, jury selection continues.

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Paramount Cancels 3 HD-DVD Releases

By | Friday February 29, 2008 @ 9:14am PST

Not only has Blu-ray won the format war, but now HD-DVD is rubbing consumers’ faces in it. Paramount will stop releasing HD-DVDs after next week. Cancelled releases include Bee Movie (DreamWorks Animation, which is distributed by Paramount, had scheduled it for March 11), Sweeney Todd (April 1), and even the just announced There Will Be Blood. Into the Wild and Things We Lost in the Fire will be Paramount’s last vestiges of its short-lived HD-DVD agreement. Instead all those titles and more will be released on Blu-ray sometime in the future.

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UPDATE: SAG To Start Talks In Spring; “We Are Well Underway In This Process”: SAG-NY Accuses SAG-LA Of Delaying

By | Thursday February 28, 2008 @ 2:04pm PST

2ND UPDATE: The New York board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild released a resolution today that urges the guild to begin negotiations on a new contract as soon as possible. It’s well known that the NY and LA branches of SAG are often at odds. The resolution comes only hours after SAG leaders Alan Rosenberg and Doug Allen sent a letter to members updating them on the union’s immediate plans. Pressure on SAG leaders to start talks earlier is coming from big-name actors, moguls and the trades who do the Hollywood CEOs’ bidding.

Here’s the SAG-NY branch news release and the resolution:

Members of the New York Board of Screen Actors Guild have passed a resolution (attached) demanding that the Guild begin the TV/Theatrical negotiations. Frustrated by what they see as unnecessary delays, the New York Board demands a start date no later than the end of March, 2008. Members of at least five other regional branch divisions have issued similar resolutions.

“I see absolutely no value to the members in delaying these talks any longer,” said New York President Sam Freed.  “We are dealing with serious issues.  We should already be at the bargaining table.”

The resolutions echo the sentiments already expressed in Hollywood by many rank and file and high profile members. New York based actor Alec Baldwin agrees. “SAG should pursue a course similar to the DGA where early negotiations short circuit the need for a strike.”



Screen Actors Guild leadership is ignoring the proven success of the strategy of early negotiations.


Were we following the precedent of recent history, negotiations on the

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TOLDJA! New Line Folds Into Warner Bros; Bob Shaye & Michael Lynne Exit; Read All The Interoffice Memos Here

By | Thursday February 28, 2008 @ 1:26pm PST


This is, in my estimation, a logical, necessary and ballsy move by Time Warner’s new chief Jeff Bewkes (unless Toby Emmerich is kept on as New Line Cinema’s president of production, which would be moronic). It also shows that Bewkes is moving aggressively to start the transformation process of a corporation desperate for change after so many years when his predecessor Richard Parsons acted like just a caretaker of the status quo. But with change comes pain, and New Line Cinema into Warner Bros will indeed cause pain to personnel and projects. Right now, there are more questions than answers about how this is going to work precisely. Even the Warner Bros people are saying that. The short-term good news for those fearful of losing their jobs is that, as part of the consolidation, New Line will be operated as a unit of Warner Bros and maintain separate development, production, marketing, distribution and business affairs operations. Of course, how long that lasts is anybody’s guess, and Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne forecast that New Line will become a much smaller company. Bewkes refused to renew their contracts. The pair co-founded the company 40 years ago and did a brilliant job creating a powerhouse studio large in profit if not size and scope. They also sold that company and made a shitload of money. time_warner_logo.jpgHollywood has witnessed this again and again: moguls sell the company they built and then expect to … Read More »

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Petition Drive Leaders Have Met With SAG

By | Thursday February 28, 2008 @ 12:29am PST

sag-2.jpgNow that the writers strike is truly behind Hollywood, I’m turning my attention as much as possible to the actors’ upcoming contract negotiations with Hollywood CEOs. Already, Variety is using its Page One bully pulpit to pressure SAG leadership to begin talks with the moguls because the studios are “refusing” to schedule new start dates on films that can’t complete shooting by June 30. (See my previous, Spielberg Delays Start Of ‘Chicago 7′ Due To “Uncertainty Over A SAG Strike”. Variety sure did…) But SAG has some internal business to dispose of, first. And I have news about one issue: that controversial petition drive lobbying the Screen Actors Guild leadership for an earnings threshold requirement for ”qualified voting” on the union’s contract issues.

I’ve been told that the leading actors behind the petition drive, including Amy Brenneman and Ned Vaughn, met last week with SAG president Alan Rosenberg about it. I have more comprehensive info about their proposal. And some new and weighty names have been added to the list of signers, including Meryl Streep. The group even has their own gmail account. (For an opposing viewpoint, see Ron Livingston‘s):

From: Amy Brenneman & Ned Vaughn
To: Concerned SAG & AFTRA Members
Date: Fri, 22 Feb 2008
Subject: UPDATE: Our meeting with SAG leadership.

To our colleagues,

We had a promising and productive meeting with President Rosenberg and NED Doug Allen at SAG offices Wednesday afternoon. There was frank discussion and an open exchange of views;

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My Eyes! My Eyes! My Lying Eyes!

By | Wednesday February 27, 2008 @ 11:53pm PST

counter_nick_02.jpg young_david.jpg
Last night on The Late Show, David Letterman noted the writers approval of the new contract by having the WGA’s Dave Young and the AMPTP’s Nick Counter come out onstage at the Ed Sullivan Theater. And shake hands. And hug. And then lip-lock for a passionate 2-minute kiss. And then keep kissing throughout the show. Suffice it to say, these weren’t the real Dave Young and Nick Counter. See the video here.

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More Hillary vs Obama On SNL Ordered…

By | Wednesday February 27, 2008 @ 10:05pm PST

Already Lorne Michaels has asked Jim Downey to write another Hillary vs Obama skit snl.gifto open the next Saturday Night Live show. (With Ellen Page hosting, the Juno star might play Chelsea Clinton.) Not bad for a veteran SNL writer who 10 years ago was fired by NBC for going after politicians in power on the show’s “Weekend Update”. Not only did Downey’s savvy opener last Saturday suddenly make SNL hot again, but Hillary Clinton cited the skit during yesterday’s Democratic President Debate. ”In the last several debates I seem to get the first question all the time,” she said. “I don’t mind. I’ll be happy to field it. I just find it curious if anybody saw ‘Saturday Night Live’ maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow.”

Downey has had his share of ups and downs with SNL and NBC. The show’s most political and veteran writer, Downey in 1998 was infamously fired along with Norm MacDonald by then NBC West Coast head Don Ohlmeyer. (The way I heard it at the time, Jim was really the guy Ohlmeyer wanted removed; when Norm refused to go along with that, he took a bullet, too.) Downey came back to SNL in 2000 (after Ohlmeyer left NBC) just in time to skewer the Bush-Gore debates. Unless NBC gets cold feet again, he should stay busy this campaign season which SNL sat out because of the strike up until now.

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Series From Internet To NBC Bombs Big

By | Wednesday February 27, 2008 @ 7:16pm PST


UPDATE: Sources say Quarterlife will move from NBC to NBC Universal-owned Bravo.

The announcement that Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz had sold their 36-episode Internet show Quarterlife to NBC for a network series caused a lot of talk during the writers strike. (See my previous, Zwick/Herskovitz: WGA Friends Or Foes?) The show was seen as the first wave of an independent production future on the Internet for writers. But when NBC bought Quarterlife during the strike (after ABC passed years earlier on it as a TV series), striking writers questioned whether it was morally right for Herskovitz and Zwick, both WGA members, to help a network. But bad news: Quarterlife debuted last night and it bombed big-time. The team behind thirtysomething and My So-Called Life recorded NBC’s worst time-period performance in at least 17 years despite The Biggest Loser as a lead-in. Agents are telling me that as a result the show may only get one or two airings on NBC.

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The Hollywood Reporter’s Publisher Exits; More Variety-zation Of THR’s Nielsen

By | Wednesday February 27, 2008 @ 3:05pm PST

Jeez, we hardly knew him. John Kilcullen, who since October 2006 has served as publisher of  beleaguered The Hollywood Reporter, will leave the company at the end of this month. The reason is “to pursue his passion as an entrepreneur,” logo_hollywood-reporter.gifwhich has now officially replaced “to spend more time with his family” as the latest explanation for forced exits. Also senior vp of the Film & Performing Arts and Music & Literary groups within Nielsen Business Media, Kilkullen in his five years with the company has been president and publisher of Billboard since 2003. Kilkullen also oversaw Back Stage, The Bookseller and Kirkus Reviews. But my favorite Kilcullen accomplishment was his saying for months and months he was looking for a “star” to be the next editor of The Hollywood Reporter. He even told job candidates he wanted someone “along the lines of Ken Auletta”. It seemed a joke when Elizabeth Guider was hired after being passed over and demoted at Variety.

But that was just symptomatic of what is Nielsen’s increasing Variety-zation. You may have forgotten that in January 2007  Nielsen Business Media’ hired one-time Variety publishing bigwig Gerry Byrne as a consultant. byrne2.jpg(And THR hired Variety veterans Eric Mika as senior V-P and publishing director and Rose Einstein in the role of V-P and associate publisher.) Now Nielsen Business Media today announced the creation of an Entertainment Group “that brings together the company’s leading entertainment brands into one unit” with — you guessed it — Byrne as … Read More »

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CLIFFHANGER: 3 Pellicano Co-Defendants In Talks To Cop Pleas: But Not Anthony…

By | Tuesday February 26, 2008 @ 10:12pm PST

anothony_pellicano_msnbc.jpgThis new development puts incredible pressure on Anthony Pellicano because it could dramatically strengthen the U.S. Attorney’s case against him. But the Hollywood private investigator has been fighting the feds at every twist and turn of his much-delayed conspiracy and wiretapping trial which is now set to start on March 5th. Frankly, few think he’ll give up — or give up his former high-profile clients. Hollywood figures with something to hide up could become very nervous if The Pelican started singing to the prosecutors.

Earlier today, tipped that two defendants were negotiating with the feds. Now the respected legal newspaper Los Angeles Daily Journal (subscription only) reports tomorrow that a total three of Pellicano’s five co-defendants “are locked in last-minute settlement talks with federal prosecutors and a judge.” Reporter Robert Iafolla identifies the trio as Mark Arneson (a 29-year veteran of the LAPD), Abner Nicherie (a Las Vegas businessman), and Rayford Turner (a former telephone field technician).

A total 7 co-defendants were indicted plus Pellicano. Two already have pleaded guilty. And recently bigtime showbiz attorney Terry Christensen was allowed to be tried separately. Defendant Kevin Kachikian (who allegedly developed the “Telesleuth” wiretapping software program for Pellicano) is not involved in the settlement conference. Pellicano, who is representing himself at trial, has been preparing for months from jail.

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WGA Extends Member Health Coverage, Says Writers Must Help & Support SAG

By | Tuesday February 26, 2008 @ 9:39pm PST

To Our Fellow Members:Today, it is our pleasure to inform you that members of the Writers Guilds of America, East and West, have voted to ratify the MBA contract with 93.6% approval.  With a total of 4,060 votes cast, the tally was 3,802 to 258. These numbers reaffirm the tremendous level of support and commitment our membership has continuously demonstrated over these last few crucial months.

We are also pleased to report that the trustees of our health fund voted yesterday to follow the recommendation in our strike settlement agreement to provide additional coverage and an extension of the earnings cycle for a full quarter (three months) to participants who would otherwise lose health coverage following an earnings cycle that included all or a portion of the strike period.  Participants whose health coverage is paid for by points will only be charged points if they have ten or more points as of April 1, 2008.

As we close this chapter in our union’s history, what we together have accomplished should not be underestimated. The 2008 MBA establishes a beachhead on the Internet and in new media that will guarantee our share of a potentially vast and bountiful future.  Writers already are working on new media projects under this agreement and residuals must now be paid for streaming and downloads of our library of films and TV shows.

Language in the contract will allow us to monitor and audit these new technologies and new business models, but it will take vigilance on the part of our

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SAG’s Rosenberg On WGA Contract Vote

By | Tuesday February 26, 2008 @ 7:49pm PST

Alan Rosenberg, President, Screen Actors Guild released the following statement:

Screen Actors Guild congratulates the WGA on the overwhelming membership ratification of their new contract. We applaud the WGA’s solidarity and the dedication of their membership in the struggle to achieve an agreement that serves the interests of professional writers.

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WGA Members Vote Yes To New Contract

By | Tuesday February 26, 2008 @ 3:45pm PST

Writers Guild Members Overwhelmingly Ratify New Contract

Los Angeles and New York – The members of the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) today put their final stamp of approval on the deal that ended their 14-week strike, giving writers new rights and protections for work distributed on and created for the Internet and other new media platforms.

An overwhelming majority of the WGA membership voted in favor of ratifying the three-year contract by 93.6% of the 4,060 votes cast in Los Angeles and New York. The term of the agreement is from February 13, 2008 through May 1, 2011.

“This contract is a new beginning for writers in the Digital Age,” said Patric M. Verrone, president of the WGAW. “It ensures that Guild members will be fairly compensated for the content they create for the Internet, and it also covers the reuse on new media platforms of the work they have done in film since 1971 and in TV since 1977. That’s a huge body of work that will continue to generate revenue for our members for many years to come as it is distributed electronically.”

“The 2008 Minimum Basic Agreement is groundbreaking on many levels,” said Michael Winship, president of the WGAE.  “Not only does it establish Writers Guild jurisdiction in new media, it gives writers the same separated rights provisions in new media enjoyed by the creators of original TV and motion picture scripts, as well as residuals for the reuse of movies and

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Gil Cates Apologizing To Whoopi, But…

By | Tuesday February 26, 2008 @ 3:30pm PST

…Steve Martin, Brad Renfro, Joey Bishop, Alice Ghostley, Robert Goulet, Charles Nelson Reilly, Lois Nettleton, Allan Melvin, Tom Poston, Charles Lane, Merv Griffin, Marcel Marceau, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman, and many others whom Hollywood can’t believe were also omitted, are waiting for theirs.

Whoopi, Steve, Brad, Where Were You?

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Stay Tuned For WGA Contract Vote…

By | Tuesday February 26, 2008 @ 3:06pm PST

Counting was still going on. But there should be an announcement any moment now regarding the membership vote on the new WGA contract.

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Now, The Video Spoofs Of Diablo Cody

By | Tuesday February 26, 2008 @ 11:39am PST

No one would bother if they didn’t like her (or wanna be her…)

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