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Tick-Tock: AMPTP Makes “Last Best Offer” Before SAG Contract Expires At 12:01 AM

By | Monday June 30, 2008 @ 6:30pm PDT

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I wouldn’t get too excited about this 11th hour “Last Best Offer” by the Big Media cartel before SAG’s contract expires at 12:01 AM on July 1st. Because WGA exec director Dave Young had already informed his SAG counterpart Doug Allen that the AMPTP offered the writers “at least 10 last best offers” before a contract settlement was finally reached. SAG has said it will keep bargaining and has no plans for a strike. It said the AMPTP offer looks like the AFTRA contract but the screen actors agreed to examine it before the next negotiating session on Wednesday. So there will be no last-minute theatrics tonight by either side, which means Hollywood can get a good’s night sleep. (Although the British press headlines for Tuesday are blaring “actors strike” as if a labor action is as imminent as, say, tomorrow. Get a clue, people.)

SAG statement:

Los Angeles, June 30, 2008 – The Screen Actors Guild national negotiating committee has bargained with the AMPTP for the last 42 days and remains committed to negotiating a fair deal for actors as soon as possible.
The AMPTP today delivered a last-minute, 43-page offer that upon initial examination appears to be generally consistent with the AFTRA deal, particularly in its provisions relating to new media. The union is reviewing the complex package and will prepare a response to management once that analysis is complete.

The parties are scheduled to meet Wednesday, July 2, at 2:00 p.m.

“This offer does not appear to address some key

Read More »

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COUNTDOWN TO JUNE 30TH: The Details That The Moguls Don’t Want You To Know

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Part I: SAG/AFTRA/AMPTP Overview: Calm Down. There Will Be No Strike Sequel.

PART II: The Details That The Moguls Don’t Want You To Know

Every time I think of the way that Hollywood handles its guild negotiations, I’m reminded of that Jurassic Park 2 scene where Jeff Goldblum warns everybody: “Oooh, ahhh — that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.” That happened even before the writers went out on strike for 100 days. And it’s happening now to the actors.

As soon as the striking Writers Guild went back to work, the Hollywood moguls and Screen Actors Guild secretly held their first confabs. In late February, SAG national president Alan Rosenberg and national executive director Doug Allen had a meet-and-greet with Disney CEO Bob Iger. Then, the guild duo agreed to confer again with Iger plus News Corp No. 2 Peter Chernin (the pair credited with back-channelling their way to a WGA strike settlement). This was exactly what SAG leadership had told members they would do: hold informal get-togethers with the moguls to lay groundwork for formal bargaining. 

But the March 3rd sitdown didn’t go well. As a source told me, “When the SAG guys said they’re not going to accept the DGA or WGA deal and want to renegotiate DVDs and New Media, Peter said, ‘Then I guess we have nothing to talk about.’” Rumors immediately spread that the “two Allens” had blown it by being hotheads. SAG tried to set the record straight. ”The tone and tenor is completely false. There was no hyperbolic rhetoric. Conversations were cordial and … Read More »

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Warner Bros Will Embrace ‘The Women’

EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Warner Bros will now aggressively push Diane English’s remake of The Women skedded for release September 12th with wider distribution and bigger marketing in the wake of the success of Sex And The City. This is an about-face from the studio’s earlier decision to leave plans intact for about-to-shutter Picturehouse to debut the chick flick in limited release and with a small P&A. But after weeks of hemming and hawing, Warner Bros now believes that the low budget $16.5M remake could make money. I’m told that as a result The Women‘s marketing budget has moved north from a planned $7M-$8M to $25M-$30M. Back on June 2nd, I criticized Warner Bros for sitting on a pic written, directed and produced by one of the biz’s best women comedy writers (of seminal Murphy Brown fame), and starring a quality cast of Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Eva Mendes, Debra Messing, Bette Midler, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Debi Mazur, Joanna Gleason, Carrie Fisher, Lynn Whitfield and Cloris Leachman. Forget about the merits of the movie: there’s potential for box office moolah stirred up by some savvy Sex-exploiting, Even if the movie is no good, it could reach SATC‘s two-quadrant audience with ad slogans like: “If you loved Sex And The City, then you need to see The Women who started it all.” After I posted, a top Warner Bros exec phoned me and said, “We should give it another look.” And the studio did. I bet women eager for another pic about female friendships and upscale … Read More »

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SAG’s Alan Rosenberg Publicly Confirms My “Calm Down, No Strike Steps” Report

By | Sunday June 29, 2008 @ 11:45am PDT

Los Angeles, June 29, 2008 – Screen Actors Guild released the following statement from SAG National President Alan Rosenberg: “We have taken no steps to initiate a strike authorization vote by the members of Screen Actors Guild. Any talk about a strike or a management lockout at this point is simply a distraction. The Screen Actors Guild national negotiating committee is coming to the bargaining table every day in good faith to negotiate a fair contract for actors.”

This is the Part I: SAG/AFTRA/AMPTP Overview which I posted Friday: COUNTDOWN TO JUNE 30TH: Calm Down. There Will Be No Strike Sequel. But When Will Hollywood Ever Get Back To Work? Parts II and III coming today.

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Filmgoers Wild For ‘Wall-E’ And ‘Wanted’: Angelina Jolie Posts Best Opening Ever; Lonely Droid Debut Is Pixar’s 3rd Biggest

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SUNDAY AM: North American box office numbers show that No. 1 Disney / Pixar’s futuristic Wall-E blasted off with a $23.1 million Friday and $22 million Saturday from 3,992 theaters for what was a $62.5 million opening weekend. This means arty Wall-E is big and transcended from a kids movie into a four-quadrant hit. But it wasn’t quite the $70+M record breaker everyone thought it would be. Still, it was the 3rd biggest Pixar opening (behind The Incredibles at $70.5M and Finding Nemo at $70.2M, but equal to Monsters Inc. at $62.5M) and the 7th all-time animated opening. And its opening day gross was the biggest of all nine Pixar titles ($23.1M, which passed The Incredibles‘ $20.5 million of 2004) and its opening weekend the 2nd best overall for June (behind Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban‘s $93.7M). Disney is looking for a Best Picture Oscar nomination for the computer-generated G-rated toon, very possible with 97% great reviews from top critics and even rival studio bigwigs gushing: “It’s just adorable and smart and interesting. It has more character development and emotion than any movie I’ve seen this year.” One wrinkle in Wall-E‘s marketing was that the 1 hour, 37 minute pic has no dialogue for the first 40 or so minutes. And it can be hard to find something funny to say from a character who doesn’t talk.

More and more, films with different ratings and different genres can happily coexist at the box office — Alvin And The Chipmunks and I Am Legend,  American Gangster and Bee Movie. So Wanted, Universal’s Angelina Jolie/James McAvoy starrer, debuted to … Read More »

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COUNTDOWN TO JUNE 30TH: Calm Down. There Will Be No Strike Sequel. But When Will Hollywood Ever Get Back To Work?

Here is my COUNTDOWN TO JUNE 30TH package:
Part I: SAG/AFTRA/AMPTP Overview: Calm Down. There Will Be No Strike Sequel
Part II: The Details That The Moguls Don’t Want You To Know

PART I: SAG/AFTRA/AMPTP Overview

The sense of panic among actors, writers, directors and below-the-liners is palpable in Hollywood right now. Matched only by the angst of agents whose phones aren’t ringing, and out-of-town journalists struggling to write ”strike sequel” scare stories for Monday. Strange, isn’t it, that the only Hollywood types without any visible flop sweat from the de facto shutdown of production are the network and studio moguls. Because they are the puppeteers pulling everybody else’s strings. From behind the scenes, they order Hollywood to jump, and the town asks how high. And never more so than during all these guild negotiations. If only the entire industry could stay focused on the actions of Big Media and start pressuring the Hollywood CEOs to put people back to work. Instead, everyone’s attention has strayed to the carnival sideshow of SAG vs AFTRA, and AFTRA vs SAG, and Big Star vs Big Star, and all the other diversions in an already confused situation.

Now take a deep breath and calm down. To understand what’s going on right now, I first need to ask you to do the following: reflect on everything you knew surrounding the writers strike, and then throw it all out the window. What’s going on with SAG and AFTRA and the AMPTP is the complete opposite of what happened a few month back. The writers were, … Read More »

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Sony Pic’s Van Galder & Weinstock Upped

By | Friday June 27, 2008 @ 1:06pm PDT

(Culver City, June 27, 2008) — Sony Pictures Entertainment has promoted Valerie Van Galder and Marc Weinstock to co-presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing, it was announced today by Jeff Blake, chairman of worldwide marketing and distribution for the studio, to whom the two will report.

Van Galder and Weinstock will collectively develop and oversee worldwide marketing campaigns for all films released by Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Animation.

The two have worked together for more than a decade, first joining forces while working at Fox Searchlight. Van Galder originally brought Weinstock to join her at Screen Gems in 2000, when she oversaw marketing and publicity for the genre label. When Van Galder moved from her role as president of TriStar Pictures in January 2006 to take over the reins of the domestic marketing division at Columbia Pictures, Weinstock made a seamless transition to lead motion picture marketing for Screen Gems and has since launched eight #1 films.

Van Galder and Weinstock have been the marketing architects for a total of 28 #1 films.

Blake has reunited the two longtime colleagues to work together in developing and implementing the global marketing blueprint and launch strategy for more than 20 motion pictures a year.

“Val and Marc are recognized as two of the most creative, imaginative and strategic motion picture marketers in the industry today,” said Blake. “They have worked magnificently well together as partners for more than a decade, and they have an incredible and enviable track record of success. By reuniting their

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Shame On Toby Emmerich…

By | Friday June 27, 2008 @ 8:54am PDT

I’m told this is the last day of employment for as many as 550 laid-off New Line employees. But Toby Emmerich has been driving around in a shiny new car and parking in the 116 North Robertson lot since June 10th. Like the jackass couldn’t have waited until July to show it off to the world.

UPDATE: One of Toby’s pals whom I normally respect is all in a lather and just emailed me this explanation: ”The guy had a lease on a Mercedes that just ended.  He just leased a less expensive Lexus hybrid. He’s had the same exact parking place for 8 years, and he expressly declined to take Bob Shaye’s better space. What’s he flaunting? What has he done to deserve your implication that he’s gleefully driving over the graves of ex-New Line employees in his new red Ferrari? You think New Line’s absorption into Warner Bros is what he wanted?”

Where do I begin? Like a Lexus hybrid isn’t a pricey car. And what an immense sacrifice for Toby to decline Shaye’s parking space. For crissakes, Emmerich is as responsible as Shaye and Lynne for the debacle that New Line became. And worst of all, Toby is now funneling projects back to Bob and Michael. I still maintain that Emmerich should have been shown the exit door, not the car door.

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Wkd Prediction: Robot $70M, Angie $40M

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I’m told that not only is Pixar/Disney internally hoping for a $70+ million dollar opening for Wall-E, but also a Best Picture Oscar nomination for the L’il Robot. It’s possible with 100% great reviews from top critics and even rival studios bigwigs gushing about the pic: “I saw it on Wednesday and it’s just adorable and smart and interesting. It has more character development and emotion than any movie I’ve seen this year.” My box office gurus are projecting a $65M to $70M opening, and maybe more from 3,992 theaters. Clearly it’ll be another giant box office since Universal’s Angelina Jolie / James McAvoy starrer Wanted now looks like an all-round date movie instead of just a guyfest. 

Universal is hoping for at least $35M and maybe even $40M from 3,175 venues for Wanted‘s Fri/Sat/Sun total. My box office gurus are projecting $40M to $42M. “In terms of comps, that would be an extraordinary result for an R-rated summer action movie,” a source tells me. ”So anything above $35M is absolutely a franchise.” The appeal for well-reviewed Wanted is a surprise: women want to see it as almost as much as men, young and old are coming in nearly even, and relative newcomer McAvoy is almost as much of a draw for the film as veteran Jolie.

Wall-E and Wanted will compete for older females. But it won’t matter. “All the Wall-E reviews have been extraordinary. And Pixar is a brand that has earned the complete and total trust of the public,” … Read More »

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‘Wall-E’ Orbiting Best Picture Oscar Nod?

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I’m told that Disney and Pixar are going to push hard for a Best Picture Oscar nomination for Wall-E on the basis of its anti-toon moody darkness and rave reviews by critics who matter. Certainly many toons have tried for that high honor over the years, and then settled for ”just” a recently added Best Animated Feature nod. Only one animated movie has made it into the most competitive Academy Award category — Disney’s Beauty And The Beast in 1991 — but, alas, didn’t win. But that may not be the obstacle in Wall-E‘s way. No, I’m hearing the problem may be Andrew Stanton’s arrogance in that interview in last Sunday’s New York Times:

“Stanton, who wrote and directed the film, doesn’t care if the kiddies want to hug Wall-E or not when the movie comes out on Friday. ‘I never think about the audience,” he said. “If someone gives me a marketing report, I throw it away.’” Because them thar’s fightin’ words in the movie industry. “Half of Hollywood went, ‘You’ve got to be kidding!’ ” a bigwig Hollywood marketer said, echoing sentiment heard within the Industry. “Nobody can say, ‘I don’t care what the audience thinks’, especially when making a mainstream movie for families. Nobody can live outside the envelope like that. His disdain for the audience was really obvious.”

Ah, I love the smell of nastiness at the start of Oscar season. Smells like… controversy

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FCC To Curb Product Integration On TV: WGA Calling For “Real Time” Disclosure

While SAG has been fighting product integration in its ongoing negotiations with the AMPTP, Hollywood writers have been fighting it in Washington DC. For non-insiders, that’s when Aiden on Sex And The City keeps talking about KFC, or when The Office refers to real corporations like Staples. (Though episodes of 30 Rock keep spoofing the practice, like when Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin spoke dialogue praising Verizon Wireless, and then Fey said directly to the camera, ”Can we have our money now?”) Specifically, the WGAW, which attempted to bargain this issue with the moguls and got nowhere, has asked FCC chairman Kevin Martin to help protect creative artists and audiences from product integration and its increase in use within the entertainment industry. The guild also called for a mandate on “real time” disclosure. In response to today’s decision by the Federal Communications Commission to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on product integration in TV programming, WGAW issued this statement:

“While the WGAW applauds the FCC decision to seek federal rules to address the increasingly pervasive use of product integration in today’s television programming, the Writers Guild urges the FCC to require on-screen ‘real-time’ disclosure when product integration occurs, in order to make viewers fully aware they are watching a paid advertisement. The WGAW believes the most fair and effective way to alert consumers that products have been integrated into programming is real-time disclosure whenever a product is being mentioned, referred to, and/or exhibited, to help viewers differentiate TV programming from paid advertising.”

Among other concrete actions, the WGAW … Read More »

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‘Hancock’: $115M Over Fourth Of July?

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All my box office gurus think Hancock will be massive. So they’re predicting a floor of $100M all the way up to $115M over the 5-day holiday since the Sony pic is starring Mr Independence Day Weekend, Will Smith. Let the prognosticating begin… Meanwhile, Sony is rolling out its long awaited and much rumored new multi-platform video service this summer in the U.S. and will offer Hancock to owners of internet-connected Bravia TVs before the movie is available on DVD. 

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Wasserman’s Slam Dunk At NBA Draft

By | Thursday June 26, 2008 @ 9:26pm PDT

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Wouldn’t Lew Wasserman be proud. With only a handful repping the entire basketball pactice, Casey Wasserman’s sports management agency had a cost-effective slam dunk at this year’s 2008 NBA draft. And there’s another showbiz connection: WMG principal and NBA player superagent Arn Tellem is married to CBS’ Nancy Tellem. Wasserman Media Group had 7 athetes selected in the Top 15 of the first round, including 6 lottery picks. Its client Derrick Rose (pictured above), the freshman point guard for the Memphis Tigers, was the No. 1 pick and went to the Chicago Bulls, his hometown team.  The others were Russell Westbrook, sophomore guard UCLA (4th pick; Seattle Supersonics); Danilo Gallinari, forward Italy (6th pick; New York Knicks); D.J. Augustin, sophomore guard University of Texas (9th pick; Charlotte Bobcats); Brook Lopez, sophomore center Stanford Cardinal (10th pick; New Jersey Nets); Anthony Randolph, freshman forward Louisiana State University (14th pick; Golden State Warriors); and Robin Lopez, sophomore forward Stanford Cardinal (15th pick; Phoenix Suns).

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Obama Hardly A “Hollywood Candidate” — And Not Necessarily Sumner Redstone’s

By | Wednesday June 25, 2008 @ 3:11pm PDT

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News reports say Barack Obama raised nearly $5 million at yesterday’s celebrity- and mogul-packed fundraiser at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The asking price for a ticket to the gala’s general reception for Obama’s campaign was $2,300. Tickets to the VIP dinner were $28,500 for the Democratic National Committee. The Center for Responsive Politics, analyzing fundraising data released May 21, said Obama had collected more than $4 million from the movie, TV and music businesses. (Clinton raised $3.4 million from showbiz, and McCain collected $636,000.) So far, for the 2008 election cycle, the entertainment industry has donated a total $22.4 million with 76% going to Democrats. But that only ranks 10th among biggest sector donors to the Democrats. In turn, Obama can hardly be called the “Hollywood candidate” since only one showbiz company appears among the biggest donors on his money web charted by the Center For Responsive Politics. Which one? Surprisingly, National Amusements Inc, which is privately held by Sumner Redstone (80%) and his daughter Shari Redstone (20%). A Viacom insider explains: “They (CFRP) roll up everyone who donates from CBS or Viacom under National Amusements because it is the controlling shareholder. It’s a very imprecise survey.” Redstone himself gave to Hillary Clinton and Rudy Guiliani — not to Obama (yet). Here’s the graphic:

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Billy Crystal Has Exited ICM

By | Wednesday June 25, 2008 @ 1:49pm PDT

ICM says it was an amicable parting of the ways. But one of my sources within the agency says it wasn’t because of a TV deal that didn’t happen. ”Name calling ensued and Billy had had enough. Lots of this kind of dysfunction happening.” I hear Billy Crystal is going back to CAA’s Richard Lovett. Then again, Billy’s been on the agency merry-go-round for many, many years now.

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Newspaper Publisher/Philanthropist Endows UCLA Center For Costume Design

By | Wednesday June 25, 2008 @ 1:22pm PDT

UCLA announced:

An unprecedented gift of $6 million from newspaper publisher and philanthropist David C. Copley will endow a chair and an innovative new center for costume design at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television (TFT). The center will be the first of its kind in the world.

The permanent endowment will support the establishment of both the David C. Copley Chair for the Study of Costume Design, to be held by an internationally renowned designer and scholar, and the David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design, which will further scholarship in the field through research, coursework and a program to bring in leading professionals as visiting faculty.

Costume design is recognized as one of the premier arts of theater, film and television. It is inseparable from character; costumes literally shape the characters seen on stage and screen. For actors, costume is the primary conduit to their character.

“Costume designers are first and foremost storytellers,” said Robert Rosen, dean of the School of Theater, Film and Television. “They are full creative partners in art forms that are intrinsically collaborative, and academic recognition of that fact is overdue. All of us at TFT are very proud indeed that Mr. Copley has chosen UCLA as his partner in this pathfinding enterprise.”

“The artistry of costume designers has long been a vital part of storytelling in the cinematic and performing arts and deserves significant scholarly attention from a great educational institution such as UCLA,” Copley said. “I’m delighted to help the field

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Goldstein On Finke; Finke On Goldstein

By | Wednesday June 25, 2008 @ 12:40pm PDT

I was surprised to see what the Los Angeles Times‘ Patrick Goldstein said in today’s New York Observer under the headline, “Make Nice, Nikki: L.A. Times Starts Hollywood Blog”:

When asked what blogs he reads, the first one Mr. Goldstein cited by name was Deadline Hollywood Daily, by Nikki Finke. Ms. Finke’s site has become a go-to destination for Hollywood news and analysis, particularly during last year’s writers’ strike. Surely the L.A.Times wants a piece of her action. ‘I think we’re doing very different things,’ says Mr. Goldstein. ‘We’re not trying to get her traffic. There’s a giant other audience out there that hasn’t been reading her or other blogs that’s still available. I think there’s plenty of room.’ ‘Nikki is one of a kind,” Mr. Goldstein not quite compliments. ‘I think she does a great job. … She’s a very resourceful reporter. You will not get me to say anything bad about her. I have a lot of respect for her.’  “

Readers, I understand if you just threw up in your mouth a little.

Now I feel guilty for dissing Patrick during the writers strike (when he likened Patric Verrone to Yassir Arafat). Here’s what I told the NYO about Goldstein:

Ms. Finke says that Mr. Goldstein is ‘one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,’ a quality that may not serve him well online. ‘That’s my problem with it: He’s way too nice.’ Ms. Finke wonders if Mr. Goldstein, whose Big Picture column has traditionally run once a week, is up … Read More »

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Big Actor vs Big Actor SAG-AFTRA Inanity

By | Tuesday June 24, 2008 @ 6:28pm PDT

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For days and weeks and now minutes ago, I’ve been bombarded with lists of name actors who are supporting either AFTRA’s AMPTP contract ratification or else SAG’s effort to get AFTRA to renegotiate. (Seriously, is someone going to choose how to vote just because AFTRA paraded Tom Hanks and Sally Field or SAG trotted out Jack Nicholson and Holly Hunter?) Then there are the letters, the membership emails, and all the other nasty missives back and forth between the union heads, most of which I’ve decided against posting for now. I’m sick of it, truly sick of it. This is not news. This is meaningless spin. There’s a reason I am sitting out these propaganda games underway between AFTRA and SAG – because only the AMPTP wins. What I am doing is putting the final touches on a SAG/AFTRA/AMPTP package of urgent news and information that Hollywood needs to absorb. For those who are impatient for the posts, please understand that they represent a lot of research and analysis and fact-checking. Just know I’m working around-the-clock. My goal is the same since the start of all these guild negotiations: to chronicle how Hollywood talent collectively bargains in the face of impossible odds since a handful of Big Media moguls control the movie and TV business and hold all the power.

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“Mark Canton Wants A Word With You…”

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Variety‘s Todd McCarthy has just reviewed Sony’s Hancock and hilariously said it has “a certain whiff of” 1993′s The Last Action Hero. Oy. Since that infamous pic brought down upper management of the studio way back then. If the Sony Pictures Entertainment toppers weren’t all heading into the Barack Obama $2,300-per-person fundraiser at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in the Los Angeles Music Center right now, I’d bet you could hear their screams all over Hollywood. As for the pic, it doesn’t have to be good to make $$$. It’s only 92 minutes long. And Will Smith owns July 4th weekend.

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