EXCLUSIVE: It looks like this month’s upcoming trial of Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano isn’t going to disappoint. I’m told that big names from past and present in the entertainment biz like Paramount chief Brad Grey, Universal President/COO Ron Meyer, superlawyer Bert Fields and 7 partners from his Greenberg Glusker law firm, producer Chuck Roven, actors Sylvester Stallone and Garry Shandling, and perhaps most intriguing of all Michael Ovitz have received subpoenas to be possible witnesses for the government when the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles finally brings The Pelican and his five co-defendants, including bigtime showbiz lawyer Terry Christensen (who’s surprisingly going to be represented by his bigtime legal partner Patty Glaser), to trial on February 27th. Now, remember, these guys aren’t targets in this case, and they may not even be asked to testify, and there could be other famous names beyond these. (For instance, film director John McTiernan has already been sentenced to four months in prison for perjury.)
But if the above names do take the stand, I can’t wait to hear what they have to say. I’m told that Pellicano who’s acting as his own lawyer has already had that opportunity because yesterday he received the prosecution’s so-called “Jencks Material” which include statements made by government witnesses or prospective government witnesses. So Anthony can get busy reading what all these Hollywood heavies are saying about him, the case, and everyone … Read More »
Far be it from Les Moonves to miss a chance to preen onstage. So CBS is ignoring the writers strike-related delay of pilot season and announced today that it’s going ahead with its May 14th upfront presentation of its Fall 2008-2009 schedule to advertisers, like always. ABC and the CW today also joined Fox in sticking with the traditional upfront presentations, leaving NBC as odd man out. CBS takes over NYC’s Carnegie Hall on May 14th. ABC said it will hold its upfront presentation May 13th at Lincoln Center. Fox announced its presentation May 15th at the New York City Center. And the CW shows on May 15 at Madison Square Garden.
NBC’s decision follows Jeff Zucker’s recent keynote speech at NATPE claiming the writers strike’s most lasting legacy will likely be the way it finally pushed the broadcast networks to reinvent their businesses by destroying pilot season (with NBC Entertainment placing most of its orders direct to series) and eliminating a formal upfront presentation (with NBCU executives instead visiting all major advertising agencies personally). The NBC Universal chief derided the traditional big show every May as “a vestige of the last decade”. Of course, Zucker also hedged that he still might do the presentation which helps networks sell $9 billion in ad time annually.
WGA West President Patric Verrone sent a message of thanks to SAG members appropriately timed to Valentines Day:
To the Members of the Screen Actors Guild,
As you undoubtedly know, our 100 day strike is over and the WGA has a contract that covers new media. On behalf of the 12,000 members of the WGA West and East, I want to thank the Screen Actors Guild leadership, membership, and staff for your tremendous involvement and support.
Throughout the run-up to the strike SAG and WGA members and staffers spent countless hours preparing and briefing one another on the new media issues that we believe will affect us all in the years to come. We shared our proposals and held numerous strategy sessions among our leadership as well as making dozens of joint show visits to network and cable programs to prepare and engage our staffs and casts.
During the strike SAG members showed their solidarity by joining our picket lines throughout LA and New York, featuring both rank and file members and entire show casts. Your support was especially visible when SAG members made positive (and sometimes provocative) statements at our rallies and in the press. But it was never more vital to our cause than when SAG members chose to honor our picket lines on talk shows and, most especially, at the Golden Globes. The pressure that generated on the Oscars was undoubtedly a turning point in the strike.
For all of these reasons, I offer my personal, heartfelt, and sincere thanks. My gratitude
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Alternative TV agent Lance Klein was promoted to partner at Endeavor. The former ICM agent (he left in 2002) counts as his deals the extension on the Ultimate Fighting Championship contract on Spike through 2011, bringing World Extreme Cagefighting to Versus, selling the Bonnie Hunt syndie talk show for Fall 2008 and putting together the new hit series The Moment of Truth at FBC and The Millionaire Matchmaker at Bravo. But what I find most interesting is that Endeavor now has a total of 23 partners, including Sean Perry who heads the department. Jeez, making decisions affecting that agency must be like herding cats.
Remember how Carson Daly took all that abuse for going back to work as the host of Last Call during the writers strike? Well, I’ve confirmed with the network that NBC has thanked him by cutting his show’s budget and firing most of his writers. ”This is obviously an NBC decision and it’s not his decision,” a source close to Carson complained to me. Specifically, the network confirm for me that this week it fired 9 Last Call employees, including 3 of the four writers whose contracts ran out during the strike. (The one scribe kept on still has 4 weeks remaining on his pact. The other 6 employees trimmed worked in other departments.) NBC sources insist that the Last Call budget cuts weren’t done because of the strike and would have made regardless of the WGA labor action. This, after the network threatened to cancel the 5-year-old show altogether unless Carson went back to work. Which just goes to show that, in Hollywood, no “good” deed goes unpunished. Daly still has two years more to go on his contract, and his New Year’s Eve special delivered its best-yet ratings — but karma can be a bitch.
Carson Daly’s Taping Disrupted by Writers
“Carson Daly Almost Ran Me Over at NBC”
WGA Scolds Carson Daly
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EXCLUSIVE: I’m told this Saturday the leadership of the Screen Actors Guild as well as AFTRA will attend a Washington DC summit meeting hosted by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney. Already, I’ve received several tips claiming that SAG toppers Alan Rosenberg and Doug Allen are being “summoned” by Sweeney to sit down with AFTRA’s Kim Roberts-Hedgepeth and Roberta Riordan and under duress ”work out their differences” after AFTRA sought and obtained a full AFL-CIO charter earlier this month over SAG’s leadership objections. (Previously AFTRA was able to access AFL-CIO consulting and aid only indirectly.) But other SAG insiders tell me that far from being a “call to appear in chambers”, the meeting was requested by SAG, recommended by Peter DiCicco (Sweeney’s chief advisor on the AFTRA charter request) and agreed to by Sweeney as a condition of the AFTRA charter grant. “SAG’s leaders are pleased to attend,” one insider said. “Besides, Alan Rosenberg is a member of the AFL-CIO executive council. He is, in fact, the only actor’s union leader who does sit on the executive council which is chaired by President Sweeney.”
UPDATE: SAG national executive director and chief negotiator Doug Allen released this statement tonight in response to reaction inquiries on the AMPTP statement of today regarding early talks:
“We have a democratic process called Wages and Working Conditions (W&W) by which our bargaining proposals are suggested and developed from the grassroots of our union. We are not going to disregard our 34-year history of identifying the wishes and will of our members by subverting the W&W process. Wages and Working Conditions meetings are being held now and will likely conclude in March. We will be ready to begin negotiations at the time that most benefits our members.”
Previous: The following statement was released today by the AMPTP in response to the A-List actors’ trade ad addressing contract negotiations with SAG (per my story Monday night, A-List Actors Pressure SAG To Start Talks):
“We welcome early discussions with the actors’ unions, and we know from our DGA negotiations that a contract can be reached early, and without a strike.”
Not even Jesus could save the producer-director’s very rich deal at Universal. But what did Tom Shadyac expect after he made the studio’s life miserable during the making of Evan Almighty, not just the most expensive comedy ever made (at a cost of $210 million) but also one of the studio’s biggest box office losers. As I reported last summer on DHD and in LA Weekly (Evan’s In Need Of A Miracle), the long-standing relationship between the director and Universal became frayed after Shadyac blew up at a Universal marketing meeting, bitch-slapped executives, fired his own marketing consultants Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones, and generally created mayhem — even though he later apologized. I understand that Shadyac’s people begged Uni not to let this bad news become public, so no one at the studio is talking. ”It was just taking stock over many years whether his really rich deal made sense,” a source told me. “Ultimately, it didn’t. There’s a lot of water under that bridge.” But Shadyac, who exploited every aspect of his self-described “Jesus freakdom” promoting Evan Almighty, can’t walk on water.
Everyone is talking about a histrionic email detailing some scandalous behavior inside Showtime that was sent to that company’s personnel by “Anonymous” on Wednesday morning. Even though I’m assured by sources that the content of the email seems true, I haven’t been able to independently confirm all the allegations so I won’t post the email here or even name names. Yet there’s a telling message about how Hollywood really works and why it’s so unfair: that some “untouchable” people are protected by “the powers that be” at entertainment companies for no good reason while others far more deserving are sacrificed so easily after years of loyalty.
According to the email, the controversy erupted over a birthday dinner party that was paid for with a Showtime American Express card. Two weeks later, Human Resources was interrogating the execs who attended. Did some people at the party later panic when called down to HR and pressure others to lie? Did a central figure say, “I need you to protect me so I can protect you”? Did an exec “slither” his way up to someone’s office crying and profusely apologizing, “I can’t believe I did that to you.”? Did Showtime punish one of the participants but let off the real culprit “without so much as a slap on the wrist”? The email complains: “This is a disgusting excuse for a human being, who has made more enemies at every job he’s ever worked, accepts absolutely no culpability, and still he moves up … Read More »
Doug Allen, the national executive director and chief negotiator for SAG, issued this statement tonight which seems to respond to my story Monday night, A-List Actors Pressure SAG To Start Talks:
“Our ongoing member outreach has included, and will continue to include, conversations with high profile television and movie actors as well as input from our member-driven wages and working conditions committee meetings. We are jointly conducting these wages and working conditions meetings with AFTRA. This process will conclude in the March. We will bargain with management at a time that will most benefit our members.”
NBC sources are now clarifying for me exactly where the network stands about suing the WGA. Or are they? (This updates my previous reporting on this fast-breaking story, Sources: NBC & Hollywood Foreign Press May Sue WGA Over No Golden Globes.) “A lot of lawyers out there are trying to point fingers at a lot of people,” a network insider just confirmed. I can tell you that, based on my previous conversations with NBC insiders right after the Golden Globes were cancelled, the network was seriously expecting to be sued by Dick Clark Productions and possibly even by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Today, I’m told by NBC that lawyers for the HFPA and Dick Clark Productions are presently in hot pursuit of what they think are possible legal claims against the WGA. But lawyers have also told NBC that the network could take some sort of legal action against the guild as well, network insiders tell me. ”So what happened,” an NBC source explains, “is a week and a half ago we were approached and asked, if they [the HFPA and Dick Clark Prods] decide to take legal action, would we join their lawsuits. And we said no. And that’s it. But they did come to us.” However, other sources insist to me that it wasn’t … Read More »
CAA partner Bryan Lourd is still having his Friday night private Oscar party, Jeffrey Katzenberg is still having his Saturday night Oscar fundraiser (for the Motion Picture & Television Fund at the Beverly Hills Hotel), but Endeavor partner Patrick Whitesell has just decided not to hold his Sunday night after-the-Oscars private get-together. It was known as the cool, intimate place for Young Hollywood to gather. Oh well. (See my previous, Vanity Fair Cancels Its Oscar Party …And Dani Janssen Cancels Hers, Too)
EXCLUSIVE: There’s rarely anything spontaneous in Hollywood when it involves powerful actors and powerful moguls. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a carefully orchestrated campaign is about to get underway in the trades and mainstream press to pressure (and no doubt demonize as strike-militant before too long) SAG president Alan Rosenberg and national executive director Doug Allen (aka “the football guy”) along the same lines that WGAW president Patric Verrone and WGAW executive director Dave Young (aka “the garmento guy) were. (SEE UPDATE BELOW WITH SAG BOARD MEMBER’S UNOFFICIAL RESPONSE)
I hear that on Thursday the trades will carry an ad signed by George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, and others trying to push the SAG leaders to start negotiations early. Also, Matt Damon, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, etc will begin making phone calls to SAG leadership on Friday. Also, a piece on this subject has been signed by Hanks and Clooney and submitted to the Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page. (Question: Don’t LAT editors ever ask who was the actual author of a piece like this? I was recently told “no”.)
Next Tuesday, News Corp No. 2 Peter Chernin and Disney CEO Bob Iger are taking out an ad in the trades responding to the Clooney ad and will invite SAG/AFTRA in for early informal conversations. How interesting that this campaign kicking off coincides with complaints from Hollywood CEOs that they fear starting principal photography on movies … Read More »
UPDATE: NBC Claims It Was Asked By H’wood Foreign Press Assn And Dick Clark Productions To Join Lawsuit Against WGA; DCP Denies NBC Claim Of Involvement
Isn’t it moronic? I’m told by sources that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and even NBC could be on the verge of taking legal action against the WGA for actions leading to the cancellation of this year’s Golden Globes. Really, could Jeff Zucker possibly be more of a putz? I say that if this happens then the WGA should countersue the NBC Universal midget for impersonating a mogul (and the HFPA for impersonating a legitimate news organization). Maybe the time has come to see if Zucker, who’s been running off at the mouth about how NBC won’t make pilots, can make do without writers altogether.
UPDATE: Here’s what the moguls have to say:
This is a day of relief and optimism for everyone in the entertainment industry. We can now all get back to work, with the assurance that we have concluded two groundbreaking labor agreements – with our directors and our writers — that establish a partnership through which our business can grow and prosper in the new digital age. The strike has been extraordinarily difficult for all of us, but the hardest hit of all have been the many thousands of businesses, workers and families that are economically dependent on our industry. We hope now to focus our collective efforts on what this industry does best – writers, directors, actors, production crews, and entertainment companies working together to deliver great content to our worldwide audiences.
Peter Chernin, Chairman and CEO, the Fox Group
Brad Grey, Chairman & CEO, Paramount Pictures Corp.
Robert A. Iger, President & CEO, The Walt Disney Company
Michael Lynton, Chairman & CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment
Barry M. Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros.
Leslie Moonves, President & CEO, CBS Corp.
Harry Sloan, Chairman & CEO, MGM
Jeff Zucker, President & CEO, NBC Universal
Here’s the official WGA announcement to striking writers:
On Tuesday, members of the Writers Guilds East and West voted by a 92.5% margin to lift the restraining order that was invoked on November 5th. The strike is over.
Writing can resume immediately. If you were employed when the strike began, you should plan to report to work on Wednesday. If you’re not employed at an office or other work site, call
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TUESDAY UPDATE: Give me until Wednesday or Thursday to get rid of this horrible flu, coughing, etc.
Thank you for the kind words during these last days and throughout the strike. I tried to do my best, even though it made me a pain in the butt to both the moguls and the WGA leadership at times. I’ll be emptying my emails and notebooks over the next few days for some final reporting and analysis, so send along any details, photos, YouTube video links and other information you think I should have. But, most of all, I can’t wait to report that everyone is back at work and that Hollywood has returned to what passes for normal. Please keep giving me your trust and your tips.
P.S. Congrats to comedienne Rachel Dratch for doing such a dead-on impression of me coughing and blurting out news that it made everyone at the WGA East awards laugh. But I do hope SNL writer Seth Meyers’ prophesy to Rachel that night doesn’t come to pass: “I don’t know how to tell you this, Nikki, but the reason we brought you up here is that we wanted to let you know that if indeed the strike is over, none of us are ever going to go to your website again.”
Defamer says: “Specifically, we are looking to hire a small handful of talented writers, of either the aspiring or proven variety, who have the ability to cut a unique swath through all of the tired bullshit and who can consistently deliver insightful and entertaining pieces about the accursed industry that consumes our souls when it isn’t already claiming our firstborn.” Lisanti says goodbye.
My previous: UPDATED: Defamer Beefing Up…