UPDATE: I’ve confirmed now. Season 8 of what I consider the best of the Law & Order series was supposed to debut on November 7th. But last night the rumor on the set was that that Criminal Intent is postponed until sometime in 2009 on the USA Network. And, yes, the show is now delayed until first quarter of next year. CI has certainly undergone a lot of change in recent months: showrunner Warren Leight left to run HBO’s In Treatment and two Law & Order vets took his place — Walon Green exec producing the 8 episodes starring Vincent D’Onofrio, and Robert Nathan exec producing the episodes starring newcomer Jeff Goldblum. So here was USA’s thinking: First, the network had great success pairing CI with In Plain Sight last summer, so now USA wants to find another compatible series to be CI‘s partner. And USA also was looking for an uninterrupted period of time to air the series, and that’ll be first quarter 2009.
CBS, NBC, Fox, MSNBC, BET, TVOne, Univision are all carrying Barack Obama’s half-hour broadcast tonight. ABC is sticking with Pushing Daisies.
EXCLUSIVE: It takes a lot to shock me when it comes to Hollywood business. But this is lunacy. I’ve confirmed that Lionsgate execs are calling Hollywood agencies looking for a showrunner to replace Matthew Weiner, the brilliant creator of Mad Men. The reason is that they think Weiner’s agents at CAA are asking for too much money for him. I hear CAA wants a multi-year deal that pays Weiner $10 million a year. (As opposed to what people tell me is the $2.5 million he should probably pocket…) Plus he wants control over promotion and advertising. Now that’s consistent with a big hit on pay cable and what Darren Star or David Chase made on HBO. But it’s way, way rich for a Lionsgate show on AMC, and execs are telling CAA it can’t pay that. “The ‘ask’ was insanity,” one insider tells me. “It’s preposterous. AMC is a basic cable network. The economics don’t support this. It’s why Lionsgate is throwing their arms up in the air. And, remember, they got a two-year pickup for the show with or without Matt Weiner.” So Lionsgate picked up the phone and began asking the tenpercenteries for a “general list” of possible showrunners, and about the availability of specific names (like Aaron Sorkin). The agents’ reactions were exactly like mine: are these suits NUTS?
Of course, no one decent would ever trample on Weiner’s toes unless he blessed it. But this is also the surest way to fuck up …
UPDATE: It’s not just that The Weinstein Company is denying today’s buzz in film financing circles that it’s taken a $50 million writedown because of all the movies it’s dumped into 2009. Nah, what’s way more interesting is that it’s blaming a specific guy for spreading the rumor. This afternoon, Harvey’s attorney Bert Fields phoned to tell me on the record: “This story is complete false. There is no Weinstein writedown, not for $50 million, not for $5. We think we know who’s feeding this venomous garbage to the media, and when we do he’ll find himself on the wrong end of a very big lawsuit.” So enquiring minds want to know: who’s Harvey fighting with now? Because this unnamed guy, whoever he is, must be a heavy to have major people take what he says as near-gospel. Indeed, this morning I heard the buzz in film financing circles that The Weinstein Company had to writedown $50 million of Goldman Sachs’ money this week. It’s reportedly taking the loss because of those four films it dumped into next year, Crossing Over, Killshot, Fanboys and Shanghai, plus The Road… (And let’s face it: who in their right mind thinks even one of those pics is going to make a dime of profit in 2009?) I also just received an emailed denial from Irv Reiter, the EVP of Financial Reporting at the Weinstein Company: “With regards to your blog entry of October 28 regarding the Weinstein Company I am writing to …
It was also the S&P’s 6th largest point gain ever, back above 900 after rallying 91 points. The Dow came back 899.35 points to inch above 9,000. NASDAQ was up over 9.5%, for its 4th largest one-day point gain ever. Here are the Big Media numbers:
TUESDAY, October 28, 2008
GE (NBC Universal) +1.76 (+9.93%) $19.49
Disney +2.54 (+11.89%) $23.91
News Corp (Fox) +1.38 (+17.51%) $9.26
Time Warner +$1.29 (+14.64%) $10.10
Viacom +$.80 (+4.28%) $19.51
Sony Corp +$2.81 (+$14.65%) $21.99
CBS +$1.05 (+13.50%) $8.83
DreamWorks Animation +$1.88 (+7.34%) $27.49
Marvel Entertainment +$2.14 (+7.48%) $30.74
Strike.TV is up and running. There was even a press breakfast about it held this morning with some of the participants, including CEO Peter Hyoguchi and CCO Ian Deitchman. It was formed in January 2008 during the writers strike as a way for top Hollywood writers, direcors and actors to exercise their independence from Big Media employers and create, control, profesionally produce, and distribute their own made-for-web original series and other programming. So far, its “Most Watched” product is writer Mary Feuer’s (Lonelygirl15, Dante’s Cove), series With The Angels, a fish-out-of-water story of a small town Arkansas girl swimming in the freak-infested waters of Venice in SoCal. And its “Highest Rated” show is Joe & Kate, written and performed by Joe Kelly (How I Met Your Mother) and Kate Purdy (Cold Case) about a couple living somewhere between dating and marriage.
I just heard the buzz in film financing circles that The Weinstein Company had to writedown $50 million of Goldman Sachs’ money this week. It’s reportedly taking the loss because of those four films it dumped into next year, Crossing Over, Killshot, Fanboys and Shanghai, plus The Road… (And let’s face it: who in their right mind thinks even one of those pics is going to make a dime of profit in 2009?) So Harvey will just sit tight between this weekend’s Zack And Miri from Kevin Smith (ugh, the ads look terrible ), and The Reader at the end of December, hoping — more like praying — that Quentin Tarantino’s 2009 Inglorious Bastards (domestic/TWC, international/Universal) can break TWC’s box office drought. Can Goldman Sachs afford to wait? (Full Disclosure: I own 27 shares of Goldman Sachs stock.)
She gave Disney Channel and Nickelodeon a plug… Jeff Zucker will be thrilled.
I’m told Scott Lambert, whose father-in-law is the infamous Arnon Milchan and whose wife is well-known producer Alexandra Milchan, has decided to become entrepreneurial as well. He’s departing William Morris after a 14-year career there to become a buyer and financier. (He hasn’t closed his deal yet so won’t talk about the new gig.) I can only imagine the feeding frenzy that will ensue for the clients he’s leaving behind: Keifer Sutherland, Hayden Panettiere, Kevin Spacey, Wentworth Miller, Sylvester Stallone, Rachel Bilson, and Scarlett Johansson whom he’s repped since she was 15 years old.
Quantum Of Solace came online for tracking and I’m told the good news has Sony doing somersaults. Because the first choice is almost double what it was for Daniel Craig’s debut as Bond in Casino Royale, That’s a very solid start with 3 weeks to go before its release November 14th. Nevertheless, 007 fanatics posting online about their longing for the established Bond cliches and stereotypes. They say the 22nd Bond movie looks more like Bond-as-Bourne since it’s “dropped Moneypenny, dropped Q, dropped the wit, dropped the gadgets, and dropped the line ‘The name is Bond, James Bond’.” That said, Sony is trying to ignore rival studio chatter that this may be the costliest film ever made minute by minute: $261 million for a 105-minute movie, which comes out to almost $2.5 million per minute. (As opposed to, say, the $300M pricetag for 165-minute-long Pirates Of The Caribbean 3.) But Sony sources say that number is “off base by more than 60. Plus we have tax credits from filming.”
The economic downturn keeps taking its toll. Today, Patrick Graham, the publisher of Below the Line, a newspaper claiming to be the “editorial voice of the crew”, wrote a plaintive email addressed to Hollywood types warning that the November issue can’t come out without more ads. “In the old days (last year), my editorial prerogative was clear; celebrate crew and keep a firm line between advertising and editorial content. But, those heady days of fairytale beliefs (like my homes value being stable and the one about my modest stock portfolio that would never drop more then 1 or 3 percent in any given year) are behind us, painfully behind us. So now, my editorial prerogative has changed; celebrate crew & survival. I’m writing to the Awards PR community to make this clear; I can’t print issues WITHOUT ADs… I have to kill the issue tonight unless I get at least three more ads (I only have one now). A hard cover would be great…. Not one campaign has booked anything for the online either. Not one. I’m not asking for an Awards year like two or three years ago, I’m talking about “support your PR people’s hard work with some ads to show you care”. Ink, paper, writers and distribution cost real money. Below the Line deserves real ads.”
UPDATE: More Calendar casualties. Film reviewer Carina Chocano. Calendar assistant editor Maria Russo (hired from the New York Observer in 2004). Staff writer Scott Timberg. There may be more, all part of the latest Los Angeles Times layoffs, buyouts and resignations. Arts writer Lynell George. Latino arts/culture beat writer Agustin Gurza. Staff writer Mindy Farabee.
Convicted felon Terry Christensen’s motion for a new trial (arguing that a juror had been improperly kicked off the panel for apparently disagreeing with fellow jurors on the merits of the wiretapping case) was heard today and denied by federal Judge Dale Fischer. The formerly big-time entertainment lawyer is scheduled to be sentenced on November 17th (although there is a chance it may be delayed one week). Ex-Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano is scheduled to be sentenced on November 12th. And his co-defendants Mark Areneson and Rayford Turner will likely be sentenced on December 15th.
I forgot to post last Friday that CAA signed Tom Selleck. My question is simply: “Why?” Granted he needs new agents since his career is cold as ice. But CAA has more than enough out-of-work actors bitching and moaning under Richard Lovett’s 100% market share philosophy…
Endeavor had in its fold writer/director John Hamberg (Zoolander, Meet The Fockers, Along Came Polly), lost him to CAA about a year ago, and now has snatched him back.
Kevin Bisch (Hitch) whose latest script sold to Sony for over $1 million, is leaving ICM and taking meetings at other agencies. His manager, former ICM agent Brian Sher of Category 5, keeps pulling clients from the tenpercentery.
Paradigm signed Brittany Murphy. (I guess Lindsay Lohan may be next since, after signing Mischa Barton, Paradigm is trying to rehab the careers of Actresses Gone Wild…) This weekend, the agency’s loyalties were divided. It reps High School Musical 3 director/choreographer Kenny Ortega, writer Peter Barsocchini and the producers Bill Borden and Barry Rosenbush plus the editor Don Brochu. But it also reps two of the guys behind the Saw franchise.
Jon Hamm was wonderful on SNL last night. Who knew he did impressions? Here’s the skit about “Don Draper’s Guide To Picking Up Women”:
Let’s see if Jay can get her to sing, “Solid As Barack”…