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AFTRA Sends “Affected Member” Voting Issue To Committee For Consideration (…Just Like SAG Did)

By | Thursday April 24, 2008 @ 2:36pm PDT

You may remember that 10 days ago SAG’s National Board deliberated about the petition drive lobbying for splitsville1.jpg“affected member voting” and then voted 60/40 in favor of a motion to refer it to the union’s Guild Government Review Committee ”for proper review”. Now AFTRA has done something nearly identical, only the union appointed a special committee to consider the issue, which will then reported back to an AFTRA panel, which will then take it to AFTRA’s national board. But, to AFTRA’s credit, the union today did set actual deadlines. The special committee will submit a report to AFTRA’s Administrative Committee by May 23, so that AFTRA’s National Board can take up the matter on June 6-7.
The real question, however, is whether this “affected member” voting issue will be decided in a timely enough fashion to go into effect if approved for the vote on what will be AFTRA’s eventual new contract negotiated with the AMPTP. So now I’m urging SAG to set a similar timeline to AFTRA’s so that this matter can be decided once and for all. No matter if you agree with them or not, the 1,500+ backers of the petition drive have played by the rules; they deserve an answer.
But once they have it from both SAG and AFTRA, they can’t keep bitching about SAG leadership’s treatment of them since it will be identical to that of AFTRA’s leadership (which interestingly the petition drivers have yet to publicly criticize).  
As you know, DHD has been active … Read More »

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Primetime Pilot Panic: Updated Hot List

By | Thursday April 24, 2008 @ 11:36am PDT

Here’s some very early info to update you on 2008-2009 primetime pilots and presentations. I hear the following pilots have heat heading into the weeks before the network upfronts. In most cases, this good buzz is based on scripts considered above average and even exceptional, and/or the successful showrunners, producers, directors involved. Overall, ABC has the edge on comedy development (called “good stuff” by insiders). The quotes below are from sources in the know (and keep sending me your tips and infos):

abc_logo1.jpgABC COMEDIES
Bad Mother’s Handbook (ABC TV Studios)
– “Good but not great script”. But was one of the network’s two favorites. Pluses are Alicia Silverstone as star, Richard Shepard as director (he helmed the Ugly Betty pilot), and fact that exec producer Stu Bloomberg able to keep guilt-tripping one-time best pal Bob Iger for firing him as ABC Entertainment head back in 2002.
The Goode Family (Media Rights Capital)
– Network already gave it 13 on-air commitment for 2009. It’s animated.
This Might Hurt (20th Century Fox TV)
Roman’s Empire (CBS Paramount/Katalyst)
– “Good script”.
Nuclear Family (ABC TV Studios)
– This was the first pilot ordered by the network. Can’t lose with star Alyssa Milano.

Captain Cook’s Extraordinary Atlas (WBTV)
– ”Really good script, but they’re doing a rewrite on it”. Pluses are Tom Wheeler writing and exec producing, and Tommy Schlamme directing. If it works right, will be on the air Sunday at 8 pm. Huge ambitious Harry Potter-style series.
Castle (ABC TV Studios/Beacon TV)
– … Read More »

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GTA IV Countdown: Are Video Games Or Movies More Violent? One Expert Analyzes

gtaiv.jpgI’m going to keep a spotlight on video games over the next days because of all the hype surrounding the April 29th release of Grand Theft Auto IV which is going to set a new sales record for entertainment product (perhaps $400 mil, way beyond the previous record-holder Halo 3). Again, I look to my video game guru Keith Boesky, whose company is responsible for selling the most intellectual property and developers into the game business, to answer the oft-asked question: is there more violence in video games than movies? Keith takes issue with my recent description of GTA IV as “loathsome” and compares the game’s content to past and present violent Hollywood films and TV:

“I love Nikki, I love GTA, so I have to address the adjective. I could think of a lot of ways to describe GTA IV. Perhaps ‘mind boggling in scope,’ ‘unbelievable achievement in game making,’ ‘more technologically complex than the NASA systems that put a man on the moon,’ or just ‘beautiful.’ …GTA IV is an ‘M’ rated game — the industry equivalent to the MPAA’s “R” rating — and will not be sold to anyone under 17. The GTA series drives its medium forward and takes us where we’ve gone in films like The Godfather, Scarface, or more recently, The Sopranos.

“Isn’t the most troubling part of watching those movies feeling like you might do the same thing in the same situation? In GTA, you don’t feel it, you do it.

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Verrone & Bateman Testify In Support Of Net Neutrality At U.S. Senate Hearing

WGA West prez Patric Verrone and SAG board member Justine Bateman traveled to Washington DC and testified at a hearing by the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Tuesday, describing the Internet as the only remaining open market for truly independent creators and stressing the need for “Net Neutrality”. Both spoke on behalf of independent content creators concerned that Internet and broadband service providers will discriminate against their sites. The duo support free speech efforts to ensure consumers are guaranteed equal and unfettered access to all legal websites and online content.

verrone-strike.JPGVerrone, there representing guild writers whose bosses are the same companies that control the media, talked about the need to dethrone the Internet gatekeppers: “The axiom in Hollywood is that ‘content is king’. But those who control access to the king control the kingdom. Because of federal regulation — or lack thereof — that control is in the hands of neither the consumer nor the content creators, but the distributors… The policy decisions that triggered the consolidation of old media has not yet been made for the new media. There is still time to protect the rights of content producers and consumers. We need to establish clear Net Neutrality rules to ensure that the Internet remains a level playing field for all.”

Bateman was not representing the actors guild but instead speaking as a partner in a company that plans to launch an online video channel. Read More »

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Paul Thomas Anderson Exits Endeavor; Agency Also Loses John C Reilly To CAA

By | Wednesday April 23, 2008 @ 4:02pm PDT


UPDATED: I’m told the director of this year’s Oscar-nominated There Will Be Blood “just wanted to move on. It wasn’t any one thing. He wants a change of scenery. It’s all very amicable.” I’ve heard he’s already taking meetings with other agencies. Also, actor John C Reilly just fired Endeavor in order to go to CAA. The star of the box office disappointment Walk Hard had once been repped by CAA. Then left to go to Endeavor. Then left to go to UTA. Then returned to Endeavor just recently to follow the three UTA  defectors Nick Stevens, Lisa Hallerman and Sharon Sheinwold. Now he returns to CAA. Jeez, it’s brutal out there, just brutal.

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TOLDJA! Tracey Jacobs Staying At UTA…

By | Wednesday April 23, 2008 @ 3:01pm PDT

It’s official. United Talent Agency just confirmed to me that Tracey Jacobs is staying. Even if Jim Berkus et al had to write her a fat check, it was a smart move. With Johnny Depp and other great clients, plus a reputation within the Industry for smarts and savvy, Jacobs is a rare superstar talent agent. I hear UTA very soon will be making more such announcements protecting its partners and agents from poaching by other tenpercenteries. The best defense is a good offense.

As I reported yesterday, posted an untrue story that Jacobs was heading to Endeavor with Johnny Depp and other clients in tow. I’d been knocking down this Tracey Jacobs-is-leaving rumor for nearly two weeks because no deal was in place even though her people were calling around with a price quote for her. As I said, she couldn’t leave UTA without also leaving a shitload of money behind her. Because in addition to Johnny Depp, she has two big TV stars that are integrally involved in UTA television packages: William Petersen in CSI and Vincent D’Onofrio in Law & Order: Criminal Intent. With those golden handcuffs on her wrists, no agency wanted to write that huge check. The strategy was to slow-play her so maybe she’d agree to take less money to move from UTA. But now that’s moot.

UPDATE: Many UTA Partners Are in Play; Tracey Jacobs Not Leaving UTA Read More »

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SAG And AMPTP Extend Talks To May 2nd

By | Wednesday April 23, 2008 @ 2:10pm PDT

Los Angeles, Apr. 23, 2008 — Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers have agreed to extend our bargaining session by one week. The parties will continue negotiations through May 2, 2008. We have no further comment.

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AFTRA Agrees To AMPTP Request To Delay Start Of Official Negotiations

By | Wednesday April 23, 2008 @ 12:48pm PDT


Excuse me for having an institutional memory, but today’s announcement raises more questions than it answers. Wasn’t AFTRA bitching and moaning about how SAG wanted to wait too late to start negotiating with the Big Media moguls’ AMPTP? And wasn’t the AMPTP bitching and moaning about this as well? So why would the AMPTP now ask AFTRA to delay the start of official talks? And why would AFTRA suddenly agree? Are these organizations hopelessly inept or corrupt or what? Funny, SAG was getting dissed left and right and yet it’s now doing what it always said it would do: negotiating with the AMPTP in a timely fashion.

UPDATE: I’m told that SAG and the AMPTP have agreed to extend their bargaining session through May 2nd after starting on April 15th. It was only supposed to last two weeks. So now AFTRA has pushed back a week. An AFTRA insider who read this post just emailed me: “So why wouldn’t AFTRA want to cooperate? Isn’t it in everyone’s interest for SAG and the AMPTP to have a reasonable shot at making a fair deal that will keep the industry working? If AFTRA had refused to give SAG any additional time, you’d have been all over them for being short-sighted and selfish. And you’d have been right.” Here’s the AFTRA statement:


LOS ANGELES (April 23, 2008) — The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the national labor union

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ADVISORY: Please Email Me, Don’t Call

By | Wednesday April 23, 2008 @ 7:42am PDT

I’ve had complications from dental work, and now I’m in pain when I try to talk. So I’m going silent until this clears up. I’d appreciate it very much if, for the next few days, you could please email tips and info instead of phone. Thanks!

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SAG Issues 2008 Negotiations Report #1: Middle-Income Actors Feeling Squeezed?

SAG leadership sent this to members Tuesday night:

Number 1
April 22, 2008
SAG and the AMPTP have been meeting since negotiations began on April 15. Our proposals address many issues facing today’s middle-income actors. Below is information on this important topic.

Middle-Income Actors…Are You Feeling the Squeeze?
Most middle class actors are. One of our top priorities in our current TV/ Theatrical negotiations is the plight of middle-income actors. We’ve heard it over and over again,…you are not earning the same income that you did several years ago for the same work.

How things look for middle-income actors today
• The average annual TV/Theatrical earnings for middle-income actors is approximately $52,000 a year.
• When actors are employed, their overall compensation is decreasing.
• Inflation adjusted average session earnings are dropping.
• Average inflation adjusted residuals decreased 7% from 2003 to 2007.
• Changes in the broadcast business model mean fewer employment opportunities for actors.
• Fewer network reruns mean less residual payments for actors.
• Realty TV has taken a big bite out of your residuals, and initial compensation for actors.
• Under current contract terms, it takes a day player at least 38 days at scale to qualify for our Pension & Health Plan 1 health insurance.
• Major Role actors (featured, guests stars, etc.) have to work on FIVE half hour shows, with 1 network replay each, to qualify for Plan 1, and seven shows without reruns.

Here’s what we are asking for
1.  Reasonable Increases in minimums for all

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Tribeca Film Festival’s Industry Events

By | Tuesday April 22, 2008 @ 8:39pm PDT

Filmmaker & Industry Events and Panels

New York Filmmaker Party hosted by ESD (invitation only)
Tuesday 4/22, 9PM–1AM, Tribeca Cinémas

Vanity Fair Party (invitation only)
Tuesday 4/22, 7:30PM

Juror Lunch (Invitation only)
Wednesday 4/23, Noon

Opening Night: Baby Mama (invitation only)
Wednesday 4/23, 7:30PM, Ziegfeld, party to follow at MOMA

First Time Filmmakers and Press Meet and Greet
Thursday 4/24, 6PM–8PM, Target/Tribeca Filmmaker Lounge (badge access)

Tribeca Filmmaker Welcome Party hosted by Apple (invitation only)
Thursday 4/24, 9PM–12AM, Apple Store: SoHo

Conversations in Cinema with Errol Morris on Standard Operating Procedure
Thursday 4/24, 6:30PM, DGA (badge access and ticket purchasers)

Thriller Night” at the Tribeca Drive-in
Thursday 4/24, Dusk, World Financial Center Plaza
John Landis will screen Michael Jackson’s epic 1984 music video and the classic Making of Thriller, in honor of the 25th Anniversary of Thriller.

Yahoo! Celebrates the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival (invitation only)
Thursday 4/24, 8:30PM, Performance by the Wallflowers

Breakfast Roundtable hosted by MOFTB (invitation only)
Friday 4/25, 11PM-1PM, Gramercy Park Hotel

Skillset Reception hosted by Skillset (invitation Only)
Friday 4/25, 1:45PM–3:45PM, Blue Owl

Industry Cocktails hosted by Kodak
Friday 4/25, 6PM-8PM, Target/Tribeca Filmmaker Lounge (badge access)

TFF Cadillac Lounge After Party for Bart Got a Room (invitation only)
Friday 4/25, 8PM-11PM, Tenjune

Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival Gala (invitation only)
Friday 4/25, 6PM, BMCC, after party to follow at Slate

Tribeca All Access Awards & Party (invitation only)
Friday 4/25, 9PM, Buddakan

Behind the Screens with Sissy Spacek on Lake City
Saturday 4/26, 6:30PM, DGA (badge access and ticket purchasers)

TFF Cadillac Lounge After Party for Tennessee (invitation only)
Saturday 4/26, 8PM-11PM, Tenjune

Industry Cocktails hosted by ESD
Saturday 4/26; 6PM-8PM, Target/Tribeca Filmmaker Lounge (badge access)


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AMPTP Charges “Unfair Labor Practice” To NLRB Over WGA’s Fi-Core Names Reveal

By | Tuesday April 22, 2008 @ 7:24pm PDT

This is clearly a case of fighting fire with fire. There’s yet more fallout from that WGA East and West leadership’s decision to make public to its members the names of those writers who went fi-core during the strike. Now the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (i.e. the AMPTP) has filed an “unfair labor practice” charge against the Writers Guild East And West over it with the National Labor Relations Board. (You may remember that, during the strike, the WGA filed “unfair labor practice” charges against the AMPTP when the networks and studios kept refusing to bargain with the striking writers.) Here’s the AMPTP’s statement today:

April 22, 2008 — The 28 writers listed in the WGA’s recent letter exercised their legal right to elect financial core status during the recently concluded WGA strike. As such, they are entitled to full coverage under the WGA’s collective bargaining agreement, including the same wages, residuals, health and pension benefits and protections afforded to all members.

By publicly naming names and encouraging people who have the power to hire writers to keep them “at arm’s length,” and saying they must be “judged accountable” it is clear the WGA leadership is seeking to deny employment to these writers in the future. That is a direct violation of federal labor law, and as the employers of those writers we have a responsibility to defend them

Read More »

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Mystery Behind ICM’s New Talent Hire

By | Tuesday April 22, 2008 @ 7:03pm PDT

There seems to be some confusion in the agent world exactly why ICM just hired back alumnus Scott Wexler as its newest talent tenpercenter. Wexler has been a manager at three different management companies — AMG, 3Arts, and Anonymous Content — but I’m told his biggest clients, the low-profile Josh Lucas and even lower-profile Justin Bartha, will stay at Endeavor. Uh, doesn’t ICM need more movie stars, not movie talent agents? ”He’s a good guy with experience, knows everybody there, and we need another body to help cover and service so we can get our clients jobs,” an ICM insider explains to me. “And jobs bring more clients.”

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SAG Does “Nearly 100″ Indie Strike Deals

By | Tuesday April 22, 2008 @ 4:31pm PDT

The Screen Actors Guild and the AMPTP talks continue. But SAG is wisely following the WGA playbook and pushing ahead with its month-old program helping indie moviemakers to weather a strike, if there is one, as long as they don’t have financing or distribution deals with any AMPTP-represented studio or company. Now SAG is about to announce that it has reached “nearly 100″ separate indie deals. Back in March, the union made available so-called Guaranteed Completion Contracts (GCC) which, like the interim deals done during the WGA strike, call on producers to abide by the terms of any interim contract that SAG may offer and to become signatory to the final negotiated contract with the AMPTP. Again, like the WGA deals, these contracts are offered at the actors guild’s discretion. SAG’s aim with so many deals is to help indie prods keep going, show that its contract terms are reasonable, keep actors working, and — in my opinion – piss off the Hollywood CEOs who still could be struck.

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UPDATE: Many UTA Partners Are in Play; Tracey Jacobs Not Leaving UTA For Now

By | Tuesday April 22, 2008 @ 2:06pm PDT

UPDATED THROUGHOUT WITH NEW INFO: keep refreshing for the latest…

Maybe, instead of worrying about Earth Day and boasting to everyone how he took the Santa Monica bus to work today, Jim Berkus should be focusing all his attention on making sure his United Talent Agency doesn’t unravel over the next few weeks and months. Look, nearly every United Talent partner is in play right now (so much so that some junior UTA agents has been spreading rumors that even they are being courted with the hope of getting their pay upped.) CAA, Endeavor, ICM and Paradigm have been calling lots of UTA partners, even to the point of interrupting that tenpercentery’s meetings, and chumming the waters to see which sharks they can catch. Tracey Jacobs, David Kramer, David Guillod, Blair Belcher and even Darren Statt, and I’m sure many more, are all being courted. CAA’s Richard Lovett, for instance, is calling Kramer twice a day. has posted an untrue story that UTA partner Tracey Jacobs is heading to Endeavor with Johnny Depp and other clients in tow. Oh, puh-leeze, I’ve been following the UTA-Endeavor battle from the start and know what’s fact and what’s not. I’ve been knocking down this Tracey Jacobs-is-leaving rumor for nearly two weeks because no deal is in place yet even though her people are calling around to other agencies with a price for her. What Defamer clearly doesn’t know is that she can’t leave UTA without also … Read More »

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Variety Loses Television Editor Adalian

By | Tuesday April 22, 2008 @ 11:10am PDT

I’m told Joe Adalian is leaving Variety to become a columnist and deputy editor at TV Week. His focus will be analytical stories and bigger picture breaking news. He’ll also launch a blog for during the summer. Adalian has covered network television for Variety since June 1998. (I’m pretty sure Joe hasn’t forgiven me for scooping him on that Kevin Reilly out, Ben Silverman in, story at NBC which he initially wrote was “false”.)

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DreamWorks Not Part Of New TV Channel

By | Monday April 21, 2008 @ 10:39am PDT

dpar.jpgI just want to point out that the new premium cable business started by Viacom etc does not and will not include any DreamWorks movies. Those go to HBO in a very long-term arrangement which also follows DreamWorks wherever it ends up. And that includes the Transformers franchise. (See my previous: New Joint Premium TV Channel Venture By Viacom/Paramount/MGM/Lionsgate)

I won’t be posting the rest of today. Back tomorrow. Play nice in the meantime.

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UPDATE: ‘Iron Man’ Estimates Upped


Distributor Paramount has now revised upwards its opening estimates for Marvel’s Iron Man when it opens May 2nd: from $45M-$55M tops, to now $60M-$70M which sounds about right. (See my previous, TRACKING: That’s ‘Iron Man’ Crazy Talk). I can’t wait to see the attempts to lower expectations for Indy4‘s opening.

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Sandy Grushow Rises From Dead Again

By | Monday April 21, 2008 @ 9:04am PDT

filmaka.JPGI gotta hand it to Sandy: he’s reinvented himself more times than Madonna. (Remember when he took that job with Ovitz’s ill-fated TeleTV?) So now the former Fox TV Entertainment Group chairman is running a global digital entertainment studio for aspiring filmmakers launching today with film producer Deepak Nayar (Bend it Like Beckham, Buena Vista Social Club). It’s called Filmaka, and the hype is hilarious: it’s “a new model for developing entertainment properties, and identifying and rewarding talent. grushow.jpgFilmaka is committed to inspiring, celebrating, and rewarding creativity and talent by providing professional opportunities for undiscovered filmmakers and writers from all corners of the world through a variety of competitions that are juried by industry leaders.” Sounds like yet another opportunity to raise and then dash the hopes and dreams of Hollywood wannabes. Cruel fun.

A side note: there’s no need for résumé inflation in these kinds of announcements. Sandy Grushow has a fine showbiz pedigree, but he was not “responsible” for American Idol. It was Rupert’s kid, Elisabeth Murdoch, who loved the 2001 British monster hit Pop Idol and lobbied Daddy to put it on the air after Grushow told the show’s producers that Fox wouldn’t even pay a license fee for the program. Only a direct order from Rupert himself to Peter Chernin to Grushow got American Idol launched on Fox. Facts are facts.

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