Debbie Miller has been named executive VP of worldwide marketing for his new CBS Films division. She comes over when her contract expires in June with Warner Bros. Pictures, where she serves as executive VP of domestic theatrical marketing. What has yet to be adequately explained is why Les Moonves needs this film division in the first place.
Sony Pictures Entertainment announced today that Clint Culpepper (photo below with Jane Campion) has extended his contract and will continue to oversee the studio’s Screen Gems label through 2012. The once dormant label was rekindled by Culpepper in 1998 and has since provided Sony with a diverse slate of moderately budgeted motion pictures that includes films for horror fans, African-American and urban audiences, thrillers, comedies and action movies. The titles include First Sunday, Untraceable, This Christmas, Stomp the Yard, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Vacancy, Mothman Prophecies, Arlington Road, When a Stranger Calls, and You Got Served. The label has also two franchises with the Resident Evil and Underworld series of films. “From Day One, Clint’s vision for Screen Gems was to offer opportunities to emerging filmmakers and creative voices with very distinctive stories to tell,” said SPE co-chairman Amy Pascal. “There are very few executives in our industry who truly understand the genre and niche market as thoroughly. Clint’s grasp of this business and how these movies play in communities large and small has been vital to our continued success.” Chairman Michael Lynton echoed: “Screen Gems has flourished and grown under Clint’s leadership and we couldn’t ask for a better executive to run this label.” The Screen Gems label was first incorporated in 1948 to serve as the television subsidiary of Columbia Pictures. Eventually in 1974, Screen Gems became Columbia Pictures Television.
UPDATE: Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders gave a statement to the media this AM trying to extricate himself from a sticky snafu: why he told federal court yesterday that Bert Fields was taking the Fifth Amendment if called to testify, and why Fields himself told me yesterday he wasn’t taking the Fifth and is willing to testify (see my previous, EXCLUSIVE! BERT FIELDS WILL TESTIFY (…And Won’t Take The Fifth):
“I was advised by Mr. Fields’ personal counsel Mr. John Keker that he [Fields] would be invoking the Fifth Amendment. We since have been informed by Mr. Fields’s firm’s general counsel that he will not invoke the Fifth and that Mr. Keker is no longer representing Mr. Fields. We have not decided if we will or will not call Mr. Fields. It will depend on the testimony of a couple of witnesses next week.”
Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.
The government may ask them to testify Wednesday or Thursday at the latest at the court proceedings inside the Roybal federal building. CAA partners Bryan Lourd and Kevin 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”. No context was provided. But Lourd and Huvane were clearly victims and this is why: their CAA issued an “it’s Ovitz or us” ultimatum to Hollywood in 1999 after Michael Ovitz broke his promise not to raid the talent agency he co-founded and instead signed away Robin Williams and seven other actors and directors to his newly started management company AMG. Ovitz is mentioned in the feds’ trial memo as having hired Pellicano to investigate frenemies.
Regarding the entertainment industry negotiations, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued the following statement today:
“The recent work stoppage within the entertainment industry cost the Los Angeles economy $2.5 billion and caused personal hardship for thousands of Angelenos. As the national economy continues to weaken, there is little doubt that another work stoppage within the industry would have devastating economic effects. During the past week, I have been in communication with SAG, AFTRA, IATSE and studio representatives. I have listened carefully and asked all parties to get to the bargaining table immediately to engage in meaningful negotiations. I urge all involved to get the deals done expeditiously. We must keep this town working, and avoid devastating effects on the workers, businesses, residents and economy of this great City.”
AFTRA released this statement:
“AFTRA has long favored starting negotiations for the primetime TV contract as soon as possible, and we appreciate the Mayor’s support.”
The AMPTP responded soon after:
“We have always wanted to begin negotiations as soon as possible, and we remain committed to starting negotiations immediately. Actors and producers alike have an obligation to work as hard as we can, as soon as we can, to prevent another unnecessary, harmful strike.”
So that means Big media CEOs are cutting Nick Counter out of the process, right?
2ND UPDATE: I just got off the phone with top Hollywood litigator Bert Fields who tells me, “I intend to testify. I have nothing to hide. I have not been subpoenaed but if I am, I will show up and testify.” Asked why the feds said in pre-trial proceedings at the Pellicano trial today that Fields planned to take the Fifth Amendment rather than testify about his relationship with Hollywood private investigator Anthony Pellicano, Bert told me, “It’s complicated” and declined to reveal more than that.
What a stunner of a day. First, the feds announced in federal court this morning that Fields, long considered Hollywood’s leading litigator who frequently hired The Pelican on cases, would be taking the Fifth Amendment when he’s called to testify in the Pellicano trial. The news immediately threw the pre-trial proceedings into a tizzy as prosecutors and defense attorneys tried to figure out its ramifications. So U.S. District Court Judge Dale Fischer scheduled a conference on the situation for next Monday March 31st. It was Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Saunders who first told the court during pre-trial proceedings today that his understanding was that “one of our witnesses” plans to take the Fifth Amendment. One of the defense lawyers asked the name of the witness, and Saunders answered, “Bert Fields”. The judge asked the attorneys how they wished to handle this, and next Monday’s conference was scheduled.
But, as I reported above, this is wrong. Fields will …
UPDATE: The announcement came through today.
Previous: Sources are telling me that film producer Michael Bostick will be announced as the new Co-CEO of Walden Media today, working with CEO Cary Granat who actively recruited his longtime pal. Bostick has long been director Tom Shadyac’s producing partner, but Shadyac recently lost his deal at Universal. (See my previous, Uni Nixes New $$$ Deal For Tom Shadyac.) Bostick’s hiring follows an extensive executive search during which the job was offered to both Nina Jacobson and Colin Calender. But they weren’t willing to put up with the sticky situation at Walden Media after the January shake-up. That’s when head of production Alex Schwartz and Executive VP Jackie Levine exited the company as well as the physical production department, public relations staff, music staff, legal staff, etc. The moves left CEO Cary Granat hanging by a thread and David Weil, the CEO of Anschutz Film Group which is Walden Media’s parent company, really in charge. At that time, Granat retained his title but his reign was marginalized. For months now, no one has been sure exactly what Granat will do. But now it appears he took control of the situation to save himself. Bostick is “someone Cary was actively involved in recruiting,” an insider tells me. “They go back years as friends and co-workers to when they were both execs at Uni.” According to sources, Bostick will oversee new development, while …
Hollywood producer Chuck Roven will testify tomorrow. Maybe now we’ll find out what really happened between director John McTiernan and Roven over the movie Rollerball.
The New York Times interview with ex-Hollywood reporter/editor Anita Busch is such a non-story that it’s embarrassing not only in its hype but also in its omissions. For one thing, I wrote this identical story three years ago with much less info about the case than is available today. (See Requiem For Anita Busch.) For another, the NYT doesn’t detail Busch’s behind-the-scenes efforts to convey info and spin to journalists covering the longstanding Pellicano case (including to reporters for the NYT) which would disprove the article’s claim that she’s been silent until now.
Way more inexplicably, the NYT article today omits the primary reason why journalists at first didn’t believe Busch’s June 2002 account of threats against her: because she was claiming they were prompted by her then investigation of actor Steven Seagal’s alleged mob ties. At the time, she wasn’t the first to look into that story. In fact other media beat her to the punch. Yet even seasoned Mafia beat reporters had never experienced a threat to their person or property. So that’s why Busch wasn’t believed. (The incident in which a man threatened Vanity Fair writer Ned Zeman with a gun in August 2002 remains just a footnote even though Zeman, too, was working on a Seagal-mob story…)
Actually, the press was right to be skeptical: because now even Busch’s own civil lawsuit and the feds in their criminal lawsuit don’t finger Steven Seagal or the mob. The FBI’s …
Guinevere Smith has been appointed National Entertainment Photo Editor for The Associated Press. Smith had been with Getty Images since 1999, most recently as North American manager for field editing. Based in Los Angeles, Smith will direct, develop and enhance AP’s entertainment photo coverage in the United States. She succeeds Dan Becker, who was named AP director of entertainment content in January. (See my previous: AP Planning Massive Celebrity Coverage)
If, like me, you can’t comprehend the success of Ryan Seacrest because he has no discernible talent, then this will really perplex: he’s quickly becoming ”the next Dick Clark, Merv Griffin, Larry King, for our generation”. So he says to TV critic Tom Shales. But who he’s really mimicking is Rupert Murdoch. The Viscount of Vapidness is paid an estimated $12.5 million annually just for hosting American Idol, not counting all the ancillary gigs he’s lined up. (Whereas Simon Cowell makes $42 million a year, from Idol and other sources.) But Seacrest has so many gigs: a 3-year, $21 million deal with E! Entertainment Network to host its special event programming and Red Carpet coverage. The reason he fronts the E! News show is because he has a production deal with that network and shares the ownership in those shows. He also has investments in eight Southern California restaurants, runs a half-dozen media companies and recently launched “The ‘R’ Line” fashion label. In April, he’s taking 3 hours of his daily 5-hour L.A. radio show national, via syndication, and as an unprecedented part of the deal his advertising company retains 10 minutes of the commercial time on the show to sell on its own, so that the profit goes right back to Seacrest and not through any network or syndicator. ”I have great relations with advertisers, so I started an advertising company to sell our own time in my shows and build that business up …
Lori Sale, who decided to leave ICM as head of global branded entertainment, was the subject of a hot pursuit by both United Talent and Paradigm. In the end, she decided to go with Paradigm, because of the strong music division, and becomes head of Paradigm Artist Marketing. It’s a new division for the agency focusing on business development, endorsements and tie-ins, sponsorships, licensing & merchandising, branded entertainment and brand integration for the projects overseen by the agency’s film and television directors and producers as well as the theatrical films represented by the Paradigm Motion Picture Finance Division. The department will also sign and represent individual clients and retain entertainment companies specifically for all their branded entertainment needs. Sale, who started work today, will staff her department immediately with internal and external candidates. Prior to joining ICM, Sale spent 7 years working for Harvey and Bob Weinstein at Miramax and The Weinstein Co, serving as a liaison between corporate America and the mini-studio. “From the beginning of Paradigm’s growth spurt, we have focused on maximizing our existing business models and creating new ones, rather than trying to protect old ones, and this new division certainly fits into that philosophy,” Sam Gores, Paradigm’s owner, said in a press statement. Sale was quoted as saying: “It’s well known in agency circles that Paradigm has the best and most collaborative working environment of any agency in the business. That combined with a roster of both …
Box Office Update: Owen Wilson Bullied; ‘Horton’ No. 1 Again; ‘Tyler Perry’s Browns’ #2, ‘Shutter’ (#3), ‘Drillbit’ (#4)
SUNDAY AM: Fox’s family fare holdover Horton Hears A Who! rose to No. 1 again this Easter Weekend with a big $25.1 million haul, this time with $10.2 million Friday, $9.2 million Saturday and an estimated $5.6 million Sunday from 3,961 venues. That gives the Dr. Seuss toon a big box office cume of $86.4 mil after only a week in theaters. Meet The Browns starring writer/director/actor Tyler Perry’s alter ego Madea as well as icon Angela Bassett opened in 2nd place for Lionsgate with $20.2 million this weekend from 2,006 plays. As we’ve seen before with Perry’s pics, 65% of his moviegoers tend to be African-American, though there is still plenty of crossover because of family-oriented themes. Perry further cements his status as one of Hollywood’s most reliable box office brands, A surprise for No. 3 was New Regency’s Thai horror film Shutter, because of its PG-13 rating and aggressive Internet ad campaign. Distributed by Fox, the newcomer took in $10.7 million from 2,753 dates. All easily bested Paramount’s Owen Wilson starrer Drillbit Taylor which placed only 4th: hurt by the star’s refusal to do publicity and the fact it plays young, the PG-13 tween comedy from Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen opened with $10.2 million despite a wide release of 3,056 runs. Meanwhile, I hear that Fox Searchlight/The Weinstein Co’s new release Under The Same Moon, from writer/producer Ligiah Villalobos, had a record-breaking opening weekend for a Spanish language film, with $2.6 million in 266 venues here. It was also crushing in Mexico, making $1.6 million from 350 screens – - #3 behind only Horton and 10,000 …
At a time when major media organizations are cutting back on the most vital news coverage, how discomforting to know that some are increasing their celebrity reporting instead. I’ve learned that the venerable Associated Press is finally making good on its promise to pour major dollars into beefing up its already huge entertainment coverage by hiring 21 new employees in 2008 spread across Los Angeles, New York and London. (See internal memo below.) It’s also cold comfort that AP insists its new separate entertainment vehicle is “not about gossip, unnamed sources and innuendo or about ‘peephole’ journalism with AP photographers becoming paparazzi.” Instead, the wire service claims it’s just giving its members what they want “in an area of growing interest” because it “makes good business sense”.
Certainly, the AP is under intense financial pressure during these doomed economic times for newspapers: Dow Jones newswires just announced it’ll stop using AP stories after failing to agree on a price after more than a year of negotiations. Clearly, the AP now thinks that Hollywood coverage can become its new cash cow. It’s already led to AP signing a deal to provide celebrity video for People.com.
Specifically, newly appointed Director of Entertainment Content Daniel Becker, based in Los Angeles, will oversee AP’s expanding showbiz coverage across video, photo, audio and text formats as well as help develop new multimedia products. I’m told that deputy entertainment editor Josh Dickey has been brought from New York to Los …
PageSix.com, the New York Post‘s attempt to compete with TMZ.com, is shutting down. No, not the paper’s long-time Page Six, which still has its web page, but the Post‘s expanded 24/7 stand-alone celebrity gossip online site. According to reports, it tried to staff up, especially on the West Coast, where TMZ currently has a stranglehold on the minutiae of what goes down every night at Les Deux. Jennifer Jehn, senior VP of PageSix.com, issued a statement today: ”Given the difficulty in the economy, it was not the right time for this launch.” This, combined with recent falling circulation numbers at the gossip magazines, seems to indicate audience fatigue about Britney, Paris, Nicole, ad nauseum. But it’s always a bummer when people lose their jobs: 18 editorial and support staffers will be let go and 3 reassigned inside the Post.
So the Paramount chief just finished testifying at the Pellicano trial. And the verdict is boring. Seriously, boring. “It was as boring as boring could be,” a spectator told me. Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano didn’t even bother to cross-examine him. But another co-defendant’s lawyer did ask Grey some questions that let the former manager respond to a few of Garry Shandling’s charges. For instance, Grey denied Shandling’s accusation that the comedian was prevented from seeing his contracts. The Paramount boss also denied any knowledge of any wiretapping, background checks using law enforcement databases, or other illegalities in connection with his defense of two lawsuits. Interestingly, no one asked Grey if he had any kind of personal relationship with Pellicano — so the fact that the manager’s offices were on the same floor as Pellicano’s for years, or that Brad tried to sell a TV show about Pellicano, never came out at trial. (Brad Grey leaving Roybal federal building today after testifying, photo exclusive to DHD courtesy of Jim Stevenson)
Grey arrived in a tailored blue suit with lawyers and a publicist trailing after him. In all, he was on the witness stand for at most an hour. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Lally’s direct examination of Grey was matter of fact and devoid of color. (Except for this: the prosecutor asked Grey if he saw Pellicano in the courtroom and the P.I., wearing his now signature green winbreaker, began …
Marc Korman was United Talent’s most junior partner, one of 20, and one of six TV lit agents at the tenpercentery. Now he’s jumping to Endeavor talent agency where I’m told he’s joining several good friends. Korman had been part of the UTA television department since 2002, representing showrunners, directors and playwrights and specializing in one-hours. He’s a former criminal defense lawyer out of Chicago who joined UTA from Michael Ovitz’s short-lived Artists Management Group, where he was a manager.
I can report that the federal prosecutors in the Pellicano wiretapping trial have told the Paramount chief it’s a very real possibility he’ll take the witness stand tomorrow to talk all about Hollywood private eye Anthony Pellicano. Because of that, the studio boss is heading to Roybal federal building in downtown Los Angeles in his best blue suit. This is the first time in the course of the wiretapping and conspiracy trial that a big-name Hollywood figure is testifying, not to mention a Hollywood mogul. There’s little doubt that Grey, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, will be asked to testify about his years as one of the entertainment industry’s most prominent managers and producers: specifically, comedian Garry Shandling’s civil suit accusing Grey of conflict of interest, and screenwriter Bo Zenga’s legal fight with Grey over Scary Movie dollars. In both cases, the mogul was represented by top entertainment litigator Bert Fields. Both Grey and Fields are said by the feds to have hired Anthony Pellicano. Fields also isn’t accused of any crimes by the government.
- Pellicano Trial: Michael Fuchs, Brad Grey And Bert Fields Mentioned
- Pellicano Trial: Brad Grey Crops Up Again; Shandling Lawyer Answers Bert Fields
- Bert Fields Defends Brad Grey Against Garry Shandling’s Pellicano Testimony
Drew Savitch Levin, a currently working Hollywood producer who won both an Emmy and a Cable Ace award and was founder and CEO of the NASDAQ traded TV production and distribution company Team Communications Co, was indicted in L.A. today. A federal grand jury fingered him for allegedly orchestrating a multi-million dollar scam to inflate the company’ s revenue and stock price. The 13-count indictment includes charges of of conspiracy, falsifying Team’s books and records, making false statements in Team’s annual and quarterly reports filed with the SEC, making false statements to Team’s outside auditors, and giving false testimony to the SEC in a deposition. Levin is expected to self-surrender to authorities on Friday and appear that afternoon in U.S. District Court in L.A.. If convicted on all counts, Levin faces a statutory maximum penalty of 200 years in federal prison.
Levin (he goes by “Drew S. Levin”) is presently TMC Entertainment’s Chairman/CEO whose company bio describes him as having “more than 25 years of proven international production, distribution, sales, financial and management experience and has produced and distributed all forms of media properties to more than 100 countries worldwide. He is an Emmy- and Cable Ace-winning producer, who has executive produced more than 3,000 hours of critically acclaimed reality-based, documentary and dramatic television series and specials, movies-of-the-week and mini-series, game shows, animated and live-action children’s programming and live events for US networks, cable outlets and international broadcast venues. Over the course of his illustrious entertainment career, Mr. Levin has successfully built …