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Judge Blocks Weinstein Co From Taking ‘Project Runway’ From Bravo To Lifetime

By | Friday September 26, 2008 @ 3:06pm PDT

harv21.jpgWhen it rains, it pours for Harvey Weinstein who should should really be producing ”The Biggest Loser”. In NYC, Judge Richard B. Lowe III ordered that The Weinstein Co could not go through with its agreement with Lifetime and promote, market or show Project Runway or any spin-off in advance of an October 15th hearing. Under The Weinstein Co’s deal with Lifetime, the 6th season of Project Runway was supposed to premiere on that cable channel instead of NBC Uni’s Bravo as soon as November. Well, that’s certainly up in the air now!

Here’s NBC Universal Statement: “NBC Universal is pleased that the court granted our motion for a preliminary injunction against The Weinstein Company. The overwhelming evidence demonstrated that The Weinstein Company violated NBC Universal’s right of first refusal to future cycles of Project Runway. After hearing all of the evidence, the court issued an order prohibiting The Weinstein Company from taking the show or any spin-off to Lifetime.”

project-runway-101.jpgThe Weinstein Company statement: “We are glad that the court held that NBC Universal cannot exhibit the program on Bravo and that court required NBC Universal to post a minimum $20 million bond. Obviously we will be appealing and remain committed to our partners.”

The decision followed a hearing on July 17th during which NBC Uni bigwigs Jeff Zucker, Marc Graboff and Jeff Gaspin testified, as well as Harvey Weinstein and his … Read More »

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William Morris Agency Sells Beverly Hills Buildings For Big Bucks; Stays Until 2010

By | Friday September 26, 2008 @ 2:52pm PDT

I’m told the deal has just gone down for WMA’s much prized real estate holdings in prime Beverly Hills territory — two on El Camino Drive, and one on Rodeo Drive. They’d been for sale for months but only for the right price. I understand that a single consortium of buyers formed to scoop up all the property at a premium pricetag. In 2010, WMA moves to a green building currently under construction on North Beverly Drive also in Beverly Hills. So the agency will rent back office space until the relocation. In the early decades of the 20th century, the William Morris Agency based in NYC opened its first Los Angeles office in 1927 in the State Theatre Building, eight miles away from the city’s downtown Broadway theatre district. In modern times, the agency has been located at William Morris Plaza on El Camino Drive. In 1998, the street was re-named William Morris Place by the City of Beverly Hills on the occasion of William Morris’ 100th Anniversary. The three trophy buildings totalled approximately 185,000 square feet of space at 150 S. Rodeo Drive and 150-151 S. El Camino Drive. Irv Weintraub, WMA COO, said at the time of the offering that the agency decided to explore its options because of demand for real estate in the so-called Beverly Hills Golden Triangleh where the direct office vacancy rate is only 2.9%, and there are extraordinary barriers to new construction. WMA has hired architectural and … Read More »

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Letterman vs McCain, Round 2

By | Thursday September 25, 2008 @ 5:30pm PDT

After busting the GOP president candidate for lying last night, David Letterman opened The Late Show tonight saying this about John McCain (video here):

“I don’t know if you know about this or not, but last night….Here’s the deal – we do this little TV show every night right here on CBS.  And what we do – you see these chairs right here?  That’s because we like to have folks come out and visit.  And one of the people who was going to visit with us last night was Senator John McCain.

“What a tremendous hero.  What a great American John McCain is.  Unquestionably, as President Clinton said earlier this week, gave almost everything but his life for this country.  And a tremendous hero and a tremendous role model…and he was supposed to be on the show.  So at the last minute he calls up and says, “Uh…I can’t make it.”  And I said, “What is the problem?”  And he said, “Well, the economy.  The economy is about to crater.”
So I’m scared.  I’m starting to tremble a little bit because he said, “I’ve got to race back to D.C.” And I thought, holy gosh…  And I hung up the phone and I said to the staff that had gathered at my feet – waiting for words of reassurance from me…OK, everything’s fine.  Don’t worry about it.  The Senator is on his way back to D.C.  So not only did he not go back right away, he stopped

Read More »

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Columbia Pics Names New SVP Biz Affairs

By | Thursday September 25, 2008 @ 10:45am PDT

Michael Marshall is Columbia Pictures’ new SVP, Business Affairs, to negotiate development and production related deals for feature projects, including rights acquisition and personal services deals for writers, directors, producers and actors.

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Hollywood Gentiles Have A Lot To Learn

By | Thursday September 25, 2008 @ 10:14am PDT

This email circulating around Hollywood was sent by a DreamWorks floater. Last names have been deleted to protect the Semitic-challenged:

Sent: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 5:09 PM
Subject: RE: SWP Mtg. Kristi w/ Kristin and Matthew

Hey Ryan-
I’m sorry, b/c I’m covering for Lindsey’s usual asst., could you tell me, who’s Rosh Hashanah and why would he/she affect Kristi’s meeting with K and M?
Thanks! I really appreciate it!

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Media Relief? Stock Market Rallies Today

By | Thursday September 25, 2008 @ 8:37am PDT

Let’s see if it holds… Infotainment stocks finished flat on Wednesday.

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David Letterman Busts McCain For Lying

By | Wednesday September 24, 2008 @ 5:15pm PDT

UPDATE: More Letterman About McCain Thursday…

Let me explain before you watch the 9-minute YouTube footage (below): I’ve just been told that on David Letterman’s Late Show tonight, the talk show host caught John McCain in a big fat lie as to why the GOP candidate cancelled tonight’s appearance. (Hint: it involves Katie Couric.) Here’s what happened: about 90 minutes before the Letterman taping, McCain’s people phoned to say he was suspending his campaign because of the financial crisis and racing to the airport to get back to Washington DC, so had to scrub Dave’s show. (post continues below)

I’m told the senator himself called Letterman to explain, “I have to go back and fix the economy. I’m going to get on a plane now and go.” The show scrambled and at the last minute booked Keith Olbermann. When it was time for tonight’s taping, Letterman explained to the cameras why McCain was a no-show and even had nice things to say about the guy. That is, until the behind the scenes people in The Late Show control room were shocked to see a live feed of McCain being miked in Katie Couric’s CBS News studio at the same time he was supposed to be in Dave’s studio. Letterman was informed of this during the commercial break, and, when the show came back, ordered the control room to cut to the live McCain/Couric feed. Then Letterman bashed McCain for not being honest. “He doesn’t seem to be racing back to the airport, does he?” Letterman asked the audience.

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AMPAS Cronyism Chose Oscar Producers

By | Wednesday September 24, 2008 @ 2:46pm PDT

This is precisely why the Academy Awards telecast sucks. Because the Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences doesn’t seek out the best people, just its closest pals. So AMPAS president Sid Ganis made his selection of Dreamgirls team Larry Mark and Bill Condon to produce the 81st Oscars over a long and cozy Polo Lounge lunch that “turned into a mini-think tank” about how to fix the show. Don’t get me wrong: I think the duo are a fine producing-directing team. But not only did Ganis fail to search far and wide for something different, he merely reached across the table for the same old same old. Then again, Sid always acts like he’s entered in some dopey contest to be crowned one of Hollywood’s ultimate insiders – when it was necessary for him to pick outsiders who can say no to the usual AMPAS bullshit. (Some serious and facetious suggestions: Mark Burnett, Simon Fuller, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, the MTV Movie Awards people, James Carville, Roger Ailes, Magical Elves Productions, the Chinese government.) Look, I know full well that Larry privately feels the same way most people do about the Oscars: you watch this borefest and you want to hang yourself. But last February’s was the worst-rated kudoscast since Nielsen started tracking them in 1974. And, afterwards, several Hollywood power players vowed to radically change this year’s show. (One mogul even seriously recommended that the “smaller movies” be relegated to the IFC Spirit Awards from now on.) The Oscars need major reconstruction before February 22nd, not just … Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Will Keep Financing 75% Of Universal’s Slate Through 2015

By | Wednesday September 24, 2008 @ 10:38am PDT

This is a huge new deal extending the co-financing partnership between Ryan Kavanaugh’s L.A.-based Relativity Media LLC and Universal Pictures for most of the studio’s movies. So the previous cut-off through 2011 is now through 2015. And it follows Relativity just reeling in another $1 billion from NY-based $13B hedge fund Elliott Associates which has doubled its investment in Kavanaugh’s firm. money10.jpgIn September, Elliott and Relativity announced Relativity Capital Holdings, which acts as the financing entity for Relativity Media. Since that time the company has built a multi-billion dollar balance sheet and is in the business of financing and acquiring media assets. The investment comes on the heels of the very profitable summer slate of Beverly 2, that partnership between Universal Pictures and Relativity, where Relativity Capital Holdings is co-financing approximately 75% of Universal’s slate through 2011. My sources tell me that, under the new agreement, Relativity will use between $2 billion and $3 billion to cover 75% of Universal’s slate through 2015, or about 18 films per year. Even though Relativity also has financing deals with Sony Pictures, this new fund is exclusive to Universal, insiders say. The first overall agreement with Universal was something of a milestone for Relativity in that it acted as the principal and retained the Mezzanine and Equity as well. Relativity Capital — a wholly owned subsidiary of Relativity and Elliott — underwrote the capital structure of the deal, and did not use an … Read More »

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Life Imitates Art: Endeavor Signs “Vince”

By | Wednesday September 24, 2008 @ 8:56am PDT

Yada, yada, yada, we all know that Entourage‘s Ari Gold is based on Ari Emanuel. And that Emanuel’s client Mark Wahlberg is the exec producer of the series which HBO recently picked up for a 6th season. Now life is imitating art because Endeavor has just signed Adrian Grenier, aka “Vince” who right now is cold as ice in Hollywood. But I gotta ask: does Adrian really have that big of a career ahead of him?

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Advisory: Three-Part Series Posts Soon

By | Wednesday September 24, 2008 @ 8:15am PDT

All I’ll say is that it’s about the movie biz… Stay tuned this week.

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Don’t Expect Truth About NBC On CNBC

By | Wednesday September 24, 2008 @ 8:13am PDT

So CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo did a quickie interview with Ben Silverman yesterday and shilled shamelessly about the “7 straight weeks” that NBC has beaten the other networks ratings wise. Unfortunately neither she nor Ben bothered to point out that there was no competition to speak of during that time. So NBC can beat dead air. Big fuckin’ deal. Nor was there any mention that, on Monday’s opening night of the 2008-2009 TV season, both CBS and ABC kicked the primetime crap out of NBC’s returning Heroes. Toldja that NBC’s schedule this season was going to stink.

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CAA’s New Deal Should Get Guild Scrutiny

By | Tuesday September 23, 2008 @ 7:39pm PDT

News out of Japan is that CAA has signed an artist cooperation agreement with Japan’s largest talent agency and leading production company, Yoshimoto Kogyo. Yoshimoto has none of the restrictions like the U.S. used to have when the Hollywood guilds prevented talent agencies from producing. But the guilds and the agencies have let their agreements lapse although there are threats from the unions to enforce the rules again. On the other hand, U.S. talent these days seem less worried about the potential for conflicts of interest and more about the lack of work. Clients may actually want agencies to package and produce. But the tenpercenteries are being careful about jumping in lest the guilds come after them.

Yoshimoto boasts 800 clients and produces upwards of 5,000 hours of terrestrial and commercial satellite programming annually, most of it satisfying Japan’s huge small-screen comedy boom. (It reps most of that country’s biggest comedy acts and developed a farm system for constantly developing new talent.) It also operates 5 legit theaters, owns TV recording studios, and does motion picture production. The 98-year-old firm has been a publicly traded company for 50 years as well as the majority shareholder (65%) in the nation’s largest domestic broadband network, Fandango, which recently went public. It’s also the principal shareholder in one of the region’s most prominent music imprints, Rojam. And, most recently, Yoshimoto Kogyo and the Santa Monica-based Bellrock Media are producing New Media content designed for delivery via mobile and broadband platforms and invested in the recently granted mobile license “e-mobile”. All these expansions will figure prominently in Yoshimoto’s plans … Read More »

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ICM’s Martha Luttrell Retires After 25 Yrs

By | Tuesday September 23, 2008 @ 4:39pm PDT

I’m told it was a very amicable and mutual decision since she’s been dividing her time between Los Angeles and Aspen (as well as her beloved Africa). After being mentored in the movie biz by director Mike Nichols, Luttrell joined ICM in 1983 when it bought her agency, Robinson/Luttrell and Associates. “Why it worked as long as it did dates back to her early agent years when Martha’s relationships with artists were bonded both professionally and personally,” one longtime pal tells me. “Somehow Martha was able to keep those kinds of relationships going within the structure of a large company. She also demonstrated that an agent could be in business with people over the course of their careers.” Her friends tell me that as committed as she was to her career, she was never consumed by it – and as much time as she found for the movie industry she also found time to enjoy the things that engaged her personally like her great passion for Africa and its national parks.  
ICM Chairman/CEO Jeff Berg said in a statement: “We have tremendous respect for Martha and what she has accomplished for the agency and her clients. After working with her for so many years, she will be greatly missed.” Noted Luttrell: “My years at ICM have been extremely rewarding. I have loved my work, and I thank Jeff and my colleagues for being so supportive of my desire to retire. According to ICM, her clients including Susan Sarandon, Judy Davis, Sam Shepard, and Stephen Rea will … Read More »

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Israel’s Oscar Bid: ‘Waltz With Bashir’

By | Tuesday September 23, 2008 @ 3:02pm PDT


You may recall that last year the Israeli Academy of Motion Pictures chose The Band’s Visit as the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar only to see it disqualified by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for having too much English dialogue. The runner-up, Beaufort, then became the first Israeli film to grab an Oscar nomination in 24 years. Israeli film blogger Yair Raveh tells me that this year Israel’s pick is Waltz With Bashir which debuted in Cannes to much buzz, played at the Toronto and Telluride film fests, and tonight swept the Israel’s Academy Awards so it automatically becomes that country’s AMPAS Oscar pick. Picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, it’s an animated film based on writer-producer-director Ari Folman’s real-life memories – or lack thereof – of the first Lebanon war in 1982. (This is Folman’s 2nd movie to win Israel’s Academy Award; 1st was 1997’s Saint Clara.)

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WGA West/East Give Election Results

By | Tuesday September 23, 2008 @ 2:43pm PDT

Los Angeles (September 23, 2008) – The Writers Guild of America, West has announced the results of its 2008 Board of Directors election.

The following eight members were elected to the WGAW’s Board of Directors: Katherine Fugate (647, 9.1%), John F. Bowman (629, 8.8%), Howard Michael Gould (619, 8.7%), David A. Goodman (552, 7.7%), Karen Harris (544, 7.6%), Mark Gunn (525, 7.4%), Aaron Mendelsohn (498, 7.0%), and Kathy Kiernan (463, 6.5%). Bowman, Goodman, Gunn, Mendelsohn, and Kiernan are incumbents. Board members will serve a two-year term, effective immediately.

Results for the eleven remaining candidates for the Board of Directors were: Kat Smith (458, 6.4%), Ashley Gable (429, 6.0%), Dwayne Johnson-Cochran (372, 5.2%), Luvh Rakhe (274, 3.8%), Timothy J. Lea (259, 3.6%), Howard Kuperberg (179, 2.5%), Tim Day (160, 2.2%), Mick Betancourt (160, 2.2%), Aaron Solomon (146, 2.0%), Bernard Lechowick (135, 1.9%) and Kevin Droney (77, 1.1%).

“Thanks to all the candidates and voters who participated in this election and congratulations to the returning and new members of the board. It will be the responsibility of this board to help enforce the terms of our new contract and to continue to strengthen our Guild by organizing unrepresented writers and working closely with our sister unions and guilds,” said WGAW President Patric M. Verrone.

A total of 1,235 valid ballots were cast. The ballot count was supervised by Robbin Johnson of Pacific Election Services, Inc., an independent firm.

And, in case you missed it (I did), here are WGA East election results:


Read More »

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Sources: Acme Talent & Literary Merging

By | Tuesday September 23, 2008 @ 2:34pm PDT

This is the same tenpercentery that starred in Fight For Fame, a 2005 E! Entertainment Television contest show for wannabe actors. First there were rumors circulating last week that Acme Talent and Literary had never recovered from the writers strike and was laying off most of its staff. Not true. It’s true that Acme let go the entire adult theatrical division 2 years ago, and they were forced to lose a moneymaker, print agent Tag Turner, several months ago. Recently, the agency did lay off about 5 people and merge its print division (clients include non-union actors and models) with JLA talent agency. Before the end of this year, I understand Acme as a whole will be merging with another tenpercentery, most likely TalentWorks. Acme’s president Adam Lieblein will be getting out of the business for personal reasons.

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Media Stocks Ride Dow Roller-Coaster

By | Tuesday September 23, 2008 @ 11:23am PDT

UPDATE: All the media stocks were buffetted during the stock market’s up-and-down performance Tuesday which fell sharply during the last hour of trading. The Dow index alone dropped 4.2% over the last two days. Most infotainment stocks are at or near their lows. Today, lawmakers questioned the Bush administration’s massive bailout for financial institutions and argued for Main Street as well as Wall Street. One idea: no golden parachutes for affected CEOs. Don’t expect any relief until after there’s a Congressional yea or nay.

TUESDAY, September 23, 2008
GE (NBC Universal) fell $1.20 (-4.59%) to $24.95 (Monday -1.77% to $26.15)
Disney fell $.38 (-1.15%) to $32.53 (Monday -4.39% to $32.90)
News Corp (Fox) fell $.04 (-.31%) to $13.00 (Monday -6.80% to $13.04)
Time Warner fell $.06 (-.43%) to $13.83 (Monday -4.50% to $13.89)
Viacom fell $.01 (-.04%) to $25.64 (Monday -4.60% to $25.65)
Sony Corp fell $.95 (-2.94%) to $31.34 (Monday -1.04% to $32.29)
CBS fell $.54 (-3.51%) to $14.85  (Monday -1.91% to $15.39)
DreamWorks Animation rose $.26 (+.85%) to $30.85 (Monday -2.27% to $30.59)
Marvel Entertainment fell $.36 (-1.05%) $34.03 (Monday -6.17% to $34.39)

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Fall TV Season Update: More ’90210′, More ‘Entourage’, More ‘Good Family’

By | Monday September 22, 2008 @ 4:56pm PDT

I just heard that The CW has ordered the back 9 episodes for 90210. Also, ABC has ordered 8 extra scripts to add to its original order of 13 episodes of Mike Judge’s midseason animated series Good Family. (Network bigwigs liked the animatics that much…) And HBO will announce it’s renewing Entourage for a 6th season.

(FYI, sparse posting because I needed a personal day. Back full-time tomorrow.) 

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