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The Split: New SAG & AFTRA Explanations

Today’s statements from SAG and AFTRA about this weekend’s split. (Splitsville Over TV Soap: Why AFTRA Now Refuses To Jointly Negotiate With SAG):

From: SAG President Alan Rosenberg
Date: March 30, 2008 8:08:40 PM PDT
To: SAG Members
Subject: AFTRA ENDED JOINT BARGAINING RELATIONSHIP WITH SAG

Dear Screen Actors Guild members,

You will hear many things over the next few days about AFTRA’s decision to effectively terminate our Phase One joint bargaining relationship. We have been jointly bargaining several contracts with AFTRA since 1981 and the AFTRA board voted yesterday to end that relationship (under the Phase One Agreement) and forge ahead without SAG.

AFTRA HAS THREE TELEVISION SHOWS UNDER THIS CONTRACT AND THEY DON’T COVER MOTION PICTURES.

As your President, I feel it is important that you have the facts.

AFTRA leaders claim…That SAG attempted to “raid” its jurisdiction and to “campaign” to help The Bold & The Beautiful daytime drama actors decertify from AFTRA.

FACT: Actors from the show, who are also SAG members, asked to meet with us. We heard their complaints of extreme dissatisfaction with AFTRA, AND DIRECTED THEM TO TALK WITH AFTRA. We did not have a campaign of any kind.

AFTRA leaders claim… The Bold & The Beautiful incident was “the last straw,” but waited more than two weeks to raise the issue. Instead, the day before the joint SAG/AFTRA board meeting, they alerted the press (not SAG) and accused us of poaching. Two days earlier, they had

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Splitsville Over TV Soap: Why AFTRA Now Refuses To Jointly Negotiate With SAG

splitsville-better.JPG

UPDATE: Tonight I received the news that AFTRA national president Roberta Reardon and officers robertareardon.jpgincluding Susan Boyd Joyce, Denny Delk, Bob Edwards, Matt Kimbrough, Shelby Scott held their national meeting and approved a formal rift with their stepsister actors union SAG. They then went to SAG’s national board meeting and declared that AFTRA won’t negotiate jointly with the Screen Actors Guild on the new primetime TV contract. This, in spite of a long-time agreement by AFTRA to bargain jointly with SAG and not undercut rates. So basically those “make nice” pronouncements of recent days are out the window. And all because of a blown-way-out-proportion incident involving AFTRA, SAG and the soap opera The Bold And The Beautiful. Now AFTRA has taken such an extreme position that not even the AFL-CIO may be able to rein it in.

bb-flannery.JPGThe AFTRA maneuver is disingenuous, bordering on slightly dishonest, because I’m told the union has known about the B&B incident for weeks and done nothing until this weekend. Then there’s the curious and convenient timing of an obviously planted story in the Los Angeles Times Saturday, designed to give Reardon some protective cover. So it now looks like tonight’s announcement was a carefully planned 11th hour ploy by her to get out of joint bargaining and justify AFTRA’s going it alone. My sources assure me that AFTRA has false concerns because SAG has no interest in organizing daytime. If anything, the concern is justified … Read More »

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’21′ Holds Winning Hand At Box Office; ‘Superhero’ Is Superflop; ‘Stop-Loss’ DOA

21_galleryposter.jpgSUNDAY AM: This weekend’s movie gross showed that Hollywood couldn’t revive the slumping box office during spring break even though 30% of students are out of school. No. 1 is Sony Pictures’s PG-rated based-on-a-true-story 21, which opened to a solid $8.6 million Friday and $9.6 million Saturday from 2,648 theaters. With Sunday estimates, that makes a better than expected $23.7M for the moderately budgeted pic (sources tell me it cost $35M). The casino card-counting caper suddenly came on strong tracking-wise these past two weeks to surprise everyone but the studio execs. A shocker was how weak the reviews were: only 22% positive among top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. But audiences craved the escapism. As a rival marketer gushed to me, “It is wish fulfilment in the truest sense of the phrase, this notion of a real person being able to beat the system, get the girl and live the life. The pic tapped into that really nicely.” I’m told the audience was broad based, drawing from all 4 quadrants — older and younger men and women, with 53% male and 47% female with 53% under the age of 25.

superheromovie_galleryposter.jpgIn its 3rd weekend in release, Fox’s Horton Hears A Who! continued playing strong in 3,826 dates for $5.2 million Friday and $7.3 million thanks to Saturday kiddie matinees to surge well past the all-important $100 million mark. It’s new cume is $117.2M after this weekend’s extra $17.4M because there was little else at the … Read More »

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Ruling Against Warner’s On Superman: How Legally Greedy Can Big Media Get?

superman-comic-30.jpgI don’t understand why the Warner Bros lot wasn’t draped in black starting the middle of this week. Because the studio should be mourning the imminent loss of a shitload of Superman dollars. I’ve finally got my hands on the entire 72-page ruling Wednesday of U.S. District Court Judge Stephen G. Larson who concluded: “After 70 years, Jerome Siegel’s heirs regain what he granted so long ago — the copyright in the Superman material that was published in Action Comics, Vol. 1. What remains is an apportionment of profits, guided in some measure by the rulings contained in this Order, and a trial on whether to include the profits generated by DC Comics’ corporate sibling’s exploitation of the Superman.”

Think about it: Siegel sold the rights to the action hero he created with Joseph Shuster to Detective Comics for $130, and his heirs got back ownership of the character in 1999 and can possibly lay claim to $50+ million of Warner Bros’ and/or its DC Comics’ cash. The Shusters look to clean up before too long, too. If you want all the Superman lawsuit’s juicy background, Portfolio‘s Amy Wallace did a detailed article here.

jerry_siegel.jpgFor instance, Joanne Siegel (who’d been the sketch model for Lois Lane) wrote a 3-page letter back in 2002 to then Time Warner CEO Dick Parsons calling the company  “greedy” and “heartless” and acting “just like the Gestapo … your company wants to strip … Read More »

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…Tom Cruise-Paramount Deal Pending!

sumnercruise.jpg paramount-logo.jpg

So I was told this today by an insider about that recent Sumner Redstone-Tom Cruise rapprochement meal at the very public Polo Lounge: “Jews like to break bread before Passover! If the economics are right, Paramount is interested in working with its old friend.” But here’s the breaking news: I’ve been forewarned about a big Paramount-Tom Cruise announcement soon. (Redstone’s Viacom owns the movie studio.) Will wonders never cease? Sure, when the price is right.

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CAA Clarifies What Kevin Huvane Said…

By | Friday March 28, 2008 @ 4:46pm PDT

CAA has shown me the Pellicano trial transcript from Wednesday’s testimony by partner caa.bmpKevin Huvane which serves to clarify why he used the old CAA building as the residential address for his driver’s license. (See my previous, Pellicano Trial: CAA Partners Say Nothing.) So, in the interest of fairness and accuracy, I’m printing this info where Huvane elaborates. Here, Huvane was shown Exhibit 161, the printout of a law enforcement database search made about him with info about his DMV license:

Q. Underneath that it says, “Residence address as of 1-31-1996″. Is that your residential address?

Huvane: That’s the address that we used for all mailing purposes.

Q. And what address is that?

Huvane: That’s the old CAA building address.

Q. Okay. Why did you use the old CAA building as your DMV address?

Huvane: because you never want to give your home address. You know, we have clients who have problems with security, with people looking up who their agents are, things coming inappropriately to your house, so we wanted everything to be straight to the office.

Q. So for security purposes, even on your license, you used your business address?

Huvane: Yes.

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Warner Bros Shakes Up Movie Marketing

By | Friday March 28, 2008 @ 2:59pm PDT

UPDATE: A big meeting went down today inside Warner Bros theatrical marketing where staff learned their fates with “the blending” of domestic and international marketing. (Needless to say, people were throwing stares at the Glass Building where marketing and distribution are housed.) Sources tell me, “There were some promotions and some reshuffling but no layoffs whatsoever. We’re expecting to make announcements next week on those promoted. But we haven’t even started writing the press releases yet.” The moves made today are by worldwide marketing czarina Sue Kroll as she handpicks her staff after her boss, Warner Bros Pictures Group prez Jeff Robinov, squeezed out Dawn Taubin.

The biggest news is that Blair Rich is promoted to EVP of worldwide marketing. (She just got upped last year to SVP of international marketing, so this is a huge boost. She started as Sue Kroll’s assistant and is said to be popular with filmmakers but not vendors. She’s also the daughter of legendary Hollywood TV producer Lee Rich, whose Lorimar was purchased by Warner’s.) Gene Garlock upped to SVP for worldwide promotions. (He gets additional domestic duties from previous post as SVP for international promotions). Julie Goodwin will co-head worldwide publicity with Lance Volland (who previously oversaw international publicity). This all follows Debi Miller’s departure for CBS’s new film division after serving as EVP of domestic theatrical marketing. (She was unhappy for the past six months…) But this blending is just the beginning because it doesn’t include the eventual integration of New … Read More »

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It Was A Thriller In Delaware For Diller

By | Friday March 28, 2008 @ 2:42pm PDT

diller-malone-sumo.jpgNews reports say the Delaware court has ruled against Liberty Media’s John Malone in his effort to block Barry Diller from splitting InterActiveCorp into multiple companies. Well, at least Malone managed to land some down ‘n’ dirty jabs at Barry during this month’s court proceeding. The only problem now is for shareholders who will continue to watch Barry run IAC just like he did Hollywood studios years before: any damn way he wants to. (See my previous, Diller vs Malone: Sumo Wrestling In Court)

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Jack Klugman Sues Over ‘Quincy M.E’ Accounting; NBC Uni Claims $66M Losses

The complaint was filed today in Los Angeles Superior Court. This really sounds like one of the worst cases of phony-baloney studio accounting, not to mention sheer arrogance, in Hollywood history. Geez, when is Big Media going to stop this larceny? For instance, according to the lawsuit, NBC Uni is claiming that, as of the end of fiscal year 2006, Quincy M.E. has accumulated over $66 million in net losses — this after we all know that the 1976-1983 series is a classic shown all over the world even to this day. Through his Beverly Hills attorneys Johnson & Johnson [UPDATE: This firm and another are representing me in a class action lawsuit related to a personal matter. I forgot to disclose that when I wrote this post on a busy news day. I apologize for the omission.]

Klugman just gave this statement to me: “I don’t want their money. I want my money. I can’t believe they’ve collected over $250 million dollars and they say they are still in the hole. I have 28% of the net and they won’t even give me a copy of my contract. I worked for them for almost 8 years. I got up at 4 o’clock in the morning. I would rewrite. I did a ton of work. It’s on every day. I haven’t gotten a penny for years.”

nbcuni-logo1.gifWorse, the lawsuit claims that when Klugman asked to see his paperwork with NBC Uni, the … Read More »

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William Morris Suffers Some Client Losses

By | Friday March 28, 2008 @ 1:21pm PDT

wma.jpgDavid E. Kelley left WMA this week for Endeavor. Topher Grace exited Morris also for Endeavor recently. Comedy feature writer Ed Solomon recently departed Morris to go to CAA (as did WMA’s director Jim Mangold three months ago…).

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Wkd Prediction: ’21′ Holds Winning Hand

By | Friday March 28, 2008 @ 12:48pm PDT

Sony’s 21 should do in the neighborhood of $21+ million for the weekend.

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Judge Dismisses Burkle Suit Against Ovitz

By | Friday March 28, 2008 @ 9:56am PDT

While Michael Ovitz’s name keeps coming up repeatedly in the ongoing Pellicano trial (though he’s charged with no wrongdoing), he’s also been the subject of an ongoing multimillion dollar lawsuit brought by his one-time Internet partner, billionaire investor Ron Burkle. But yesterday Ovitz scored a big victory when that lawsuit by Burkle alleging that the co-founder of CAA and fired Walt Disney Co. president broke a business agreement was dismissed yesterday by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Soussan Bruguera. She decided that the men never had a formal partnership and, if anything, had more of a “friendship that soured” than a business relationship, and that terms of their oral agreement were too vague to enforce. Burkle’s attorney said he will appeal Bruguera’s decision to grant Ovitz’s motion. Meanwhile, Ovitz’s counter-suit against Burkle is still on, and a trial date has been set for April 28. Nevertheless, Burkle managed through the long and winding lawsuit to muddy Ovitz’s reputation, already tarnished by his many business failures. Burkle filed the complaint back in February 2005, claiming the two made a verbal agreement in the 1990s to jointly combine “their skill, money and knowledge” on investments but alleging that Ovitz breached their oral pact repeatedly. There’s now a long list of Ovitz’s former business partners from Hollywood, Broadway, Wall Street, Madison Avenue and sports (to name just a few areas) who despise him now.

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UTA Loses Kate Bosworth (& Its Temper)

By | Thursday March 27, 2008 @ 4:43pm PDT

kate-bosworth.JPGIt happened yesterday after Kate Bosworth, a longtime UTA client, let the agency know she was leaving. So far she hasn’t landed at another tenpercentery. But her latest film 21 looks like it will have a good opening weekend. Meanwhile, the rumor mill has heated up about UTA after this loss, and Vince Vaughn’s leaving, and partner Marc Korman’s jump to Endeavor. Competitors are swirling rumors that UTA’s talent department is “falling apart” because of a ”toxic atmosphere”. There was even talk of a ”coup attempt” to unseat some partners there or a “sure thing” that three talent agents are leaving. I’m on overdrive trying to check out every phone call. So let me set the record straight:

I can report that the lousy news led yesterday to some closed-door meetings among UTA’s partners that turned ugly (as seen through the glass walls). “The partners had a fight. It was a bad week. But nobody’s going anywhere,” an insider explains to me. “The partners are hyper-passionate, so when stuff happens, they get upset. This is not a place where nobody cares.” I’m told specifically that a couple of young partners not in the agency’s talent department used the losses of Vaughn and Bosworth to “make some noise and get everybody uptight” and took advantage of Nick Stevens being out of town to take aim at two partners in his talent department, Lisa Hallerman and Sharon Sheinwold. Another source tells me, “It is true there were many conversations going on relating to the talent department and actors. The agency this week turned in on … Read More »

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SAG & AFTRA Actually Agree On Proposals

By | Thursday March 27, 2008 @ 4:19pm PDT

SAG and AFTRA Representatives To Present Contract Proposal Package To Unions’ Joint Board On Saturday, March 29

Los Angeles (March 27, 2008) — The Joint Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) National Wages and Working Conditions Committee met in a face-to-face plenary March 25 and 26th and unanimously approved proposals for consideration by the joint AFTRA-SAG board of directors at its meeting this Saturday in Los Angeles. The Joint National Committee reviewed proposals submitted by Wages and Working Conditions Committees that have been meeting across the country since Jan. 30. The two-day plenary meeting included SAG and AFTRA members from various locals, branches and divisions. Participants included AFTRA President Roberta Reardon and SAG President Alan Rosenberg. The names of committee members will not be released and the unions will have no further comment on the proposals being submitted to the Joint National Board or the status of the unions’ Wages and Working Conditions processes until after Saturday’s meeting.

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Has NBC Uni’s Jeff Zucker Lost His Mind?

You be the judge: I’m told this promo is supposed to air April 3rd before the return of NBC’s My Name is Earl. In it, Jeff Zucker offers not just a recap of the show’s fall season but also some zingers about issues left over from the writers’ strike. Worse, it shows him leering at Alyssa Milano’s boobage and signing off as “JZ out…”. I wish this were a hoax — but it’s real. At what point did NBC’s “Must-See TV” degrade into ”JZ TV”? UPDATE: NBC just confirmed to me that Zucker taped the intro “at the request of Earl‘s creator, Greg Garcia”. And in response to my query, Garcia emails: “It was my idea. We had to do a recap of the show because we’d been off for so long, and I thought this would be a funny way to do it. The writers wrote the whole thing, I asked Jeff if he would do it, and he was cool enough to say yes. I loved the way it turned out, and I think it’s fucking hilarious.” Well, I bet it never airs:

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Spielberg vs Paramount: The Real Story

dpar.jpgApparently it’s news to The New York Times — though to no one else in Hollywood – that there may be friction when Paramount and DreamWorks try to unentangle themselves. What’s a better story the newspaper could have written for Thursday’s edition? That DreamWorks can finally shop itself around starting May 1st. Or that Steven Spielberg has the right to terminate his contract as soon as October, if David Geffen is no longer there, even though the producer-director’s pact on paper goes to 2010. spielberg-chicago-7.jpg(Even Dreamworks Animation has an “out” clause after 10 films.) But I’m really surprised that the newspaper of record doesn’t know what I know: that Spielberg has the right to elect to be involved in any project that DreamWorks has developed at Paramount. As an ex-Paramount business affairs source once told me, Steven’s so-called “Amblin deal” would apply even if he chooses to leave and is no longer under contract. He’d still make 7.5% of the gross and 50% of the profits to cash break. And if it’s decided the projects won’t be made, they have to be offered to Steven in turnaround. So, tell me, given the choice that if he stays he’s paid nothing, and if he goes he’s paid a lot, who in their right mind would think Spielberg sticks around?

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Another Production Exec Hired By MGM

By | Wednesday March 26, 2008 @ 2:09pm PDT

mgmlogosmall.jpgWhere in heck is all the money supposedly coming from to fund this beleaguered studio’s “renewed” movie slate? No one seems to know. Nevertheless, MGM announced today that it has named Cale Boyter as executive VP of production. He’s billed as MGM’s new mogul Mary Parent’s first senior hire. (See my previous, Desperate MGM Studios Throws Hail Mary.) A veteran at New Line for the last 10 years, Boyter recently served as New Line’s executive VP of development.

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Pellicano Trial: CAA Partners Say Nothing

By | Wednesday March 26, 2008 @ 12:39pm PDT

lourd-huvane1.jpgPoor Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane had to cool their heels all morning inside the Roybal federal building. A place near the coffee shop substituted as a Green Room for the Pellicano Trial. Even the government realized this was costing CAA a fortune. Around 12:30 PM, the feds told U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer that the two agency partners needed to go back to work. So an ex-FBI guy already on the witness stand was bumped for them. (How nice to know that federal trials are run like Craft.)

ovitz3.JPGAt 12:35 PM, Huvane appeared on the stand first. Asked about the events surrounding August 10th, 2001, since that’s when he was investigated in law enforcement databases, the CAA managing director pointed the finger at Michael Ovitz. “He founded a rival company. We had a dispute with him and decided not to do business with him.” Actually, Lourd and Huvane were mentioned in Footnote #11 of the government’s trial memo on the Pellicano case because “recovered from Pellicano’s computers were scanned computer printouts of DMV and criminal history information for Bryan Lourd and Kevin Huvane bearing [LAPD Sgt Mark Arneson’s name and a date of August 10th, 2001, which comports with the date when Arneson conducted database inquiries on these individuals”. trial-logo-smaller.jpgNo context was provided. But CAA had issued an “it’s Ovitz or us” ultimatum to Hollywood in 1999 after Michael Ovitz broke his promise not to … Read More »

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Another Reason To Hate Network Suits…

By | Wednesday March 26, 2008 @ 12:35pm PDT

cbs_logo.jpgReminder: CBS corporate executives move to the third floor of the Studio City Broadcast Center from Television City this weekend. Meanwhile, LAObserved.com has obtained this really asswipe of an internal memo from Director Of Security Mike Skinner warning all Studio City Broadcast Center employees, vendors, and guests beginning today that ”ALL parking spaces along the west side of the Broadcast Center, except the two handicap spaces, will be assigned to the 3rd floor CBS Corporate Executives. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD ANYONE PARK IN THESE SPACES AT ANY TIME… Vehicles parked in unauthorized spaces will be ticketed for the 1st offense and subject to the wheel boot ‘Denver Boot’ pictured below for a 2nd offense, resulting in a $25 fine to have it removed. Those who already have been ticketed in the past will have the wheel boot installed on the next offense.”

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