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Hollywood CEOS To SAG: We Tell You What The Deal Is, Not Other Way Around

By | Sunday November 30, 2008 @ 3:42pm PST

The AMPTP alerted me to this ”Open Letter to the Entertainment Industry”  in the form of an ad addressing the current situation with SAG and set to run in the Los Angeles Times tomorrow. I have a better idea: Why don’t the Hollywood CEOs get off their damn high horses and start negotiating directly with SAG (like they did with the WGA) and stop leaving everything up to their extremist labor lawyers and the AMPTP’s version of Dick Cheney, Carol Lombardini. This letter shows what a sham the AMPTP is and that it reps a Big Media cartel of these 8 companies. Also, it’s interesting how this letter conveniently forgets that Chernin made a favored nations deal on behalf of these CEOs with the WGA concerning New Media: if SAG gets a better New Media deal, so do the WGA and DGA:



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Details Of AMPTP-IATSE Tentative Deal

By | Saturday November 29, 2008 @ 6:37pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: As I suspected, there seems to be unfinished biz between IATSE and the AMPTP over exactly what’s in their so-called “deal” announced November 19th for new 3-year contract. According to my sources, this is the general overview of the tentative agreement. But there’s still no Memorandum of Agreement outlining the new terms in detail. So that’s why I think it suspect that the AMPTP was so quick to announce an “agreement” with IATSE. (For example, the WGA waited until every “t” was crossed and “i” dotted to make a announcement. Smart move, considering that the AMPTP tried to slip in some last-minute terms and language that were never okayed.) So these are understandings as of November 18th:

According to my reporting,

Wage increases for the IA Basic Agreement consist of 3% effective 8/2/09; another 3% effective 8/1/10, and another 3% effective 7/31/11. For Locals 52 and 161 (NY), it’s 3%/3%/3% increases on the effective dates of those agreements.

Concerning Pension and Health:

The AMPTP believes the cost of its deal with IATSE amounts to an increase of about 3.8% a year for the next three years. But that doesn’t include a $233 million savings to employers in Health Plan “modifications” agreed to by the union.

Both sides agreed that, effective 7/31/11, the Health Plan will change the standards for continuing eligibility from a requirement of working 300 hours to 400 hours.

As for other pension and health terms, the AMPTP believes the employers agreed to increase hourly contribution rates

Read More »

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COMEDY RULES! ‘Four Christmases’ #1 For Thanksgiving Weekend; ‘Bolt’ #2, ‘Twilight’ #3, ‘Australia’ Opens Only #5

By | Friday November 28, 2008 @ 7:10am PST

SUNDAY AM: Waistlines expanded on Thanksgiving Day, and this 3-day weekend and 5-day holiday shaped up as big for moviegoing, too. Maybe it’s because of the grim economy that audiences wanted laughs, but the mediocre PG-13 comedy Four Christmases, helped by a short 80-minute running time, knocked off Twilight for No. 1 on T-Day and easily stayed on top all weekend. The expected frontrunner from New Line/Warner Bros starring Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon overperformed for $31.6M for the 3-day weekend (which is far better than Vince’s last seasonal outing of $18.5M in the just plain awful Fred Claus) and $46.7M for the 5-day holiday.

Jumping into No. 2 because of big kiddie matinees and Thanksgiving audiences who love family pics, holdover Disney’s Bolt really cleaned up with 101% of its opening weekend which is rare. On Saturday, it did $10M and its estimated Sunday is $5.7M added to Friday’s $10.8M. That’s a 3-day total of $26.6M and 5-day holiday of $36M and total cume to date of $66.9M. The toon had a  big comeback of $5.1M Wednesday in 3,651 plays after a difficult debut last weekend when Twilight skewed younger than expected.

Twilight started out strong, then ended up #3 in 3,419 venues for Summit Entertainment’s no-sex, no-violence, no-stars vampire movie adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling book. The PG-13 pic made $26.4M for the 3-day weekend and moved up to No. 2 with $39.5M for the 5-day holiday. The film crossed the $100 million mark at the North American box office on November 28th after only 8 … Read More »

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CAA Loses Two Oscar Winners: Anthony Hopkins To Endeavor; Best Foreign Language Film Writer/Director To UTA

By | Thursday November 27, 2008 @ 4:41pm PST


United Talent’s Jeremy Zimmer just signed away Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, writer/director of the 2007 Best Foreign Language Oscar winning The Lives Of Others (aka Germany’s Das Leben der Anderen released in 2006), from CAA’s Beth Swofford. (He’d been initially signed by CAA’s Tory Metzger who left in May for MRC.) “Florian woke up realizing he’d been at CAA two years, and nothing had really happened. He didn’t feel he had made any progress. So to focus in on things he wanted to do, he made a change to get moving with what his agenda is,” a UTA insider told me.

Also this week, Best Actor Oscar winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins left CAA for Endeavor. Hopkins had been a Rick Nicita client, but after Rick’s departure from the agency, Kevin Huvane couldn’t keep the actor. Though his big Hannibal Lecter paydays may be behind him, Hopkins is still a sought-after client and had been at William Morris and ICM before CAA.

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SAG Issues Q-&-A Regarding Negotiations

By | Thursday November 27, 2008 @ 11:05am PST

This was released by SAG on Wednesday, November 26th:

Why should we vote to authorize a strike?
We need to show management that we are willing to fight to preserve our ability to earn a living as union performers; otherwise, management will take that away from us.  Nearly half of our earnings as union performers come from residuals, but management wants us to allow them to make programs for the Internet and other new media non-union and with no residuals.  This means that as audiences shift from watching us on their televisions to watching us on their computers and cell phones our ability to earn a living will go away and future generations of actors may never be able to earn a living through their craft.  This change will happen faster than you think.  To add insult to injury, management also insists that we eliminate force majeure protections from our contract.  These protections have existed since the first SAG contract in 1937 and protect you when production stops as the result of an “act of God” like a natural disaster or a strike by another union, such as the WGA strike earlier this year.  This is an enormous rollback that will leave actors without one of the most basic protections of a union contract.What is the effect of voting “yes” to authorize a strike?
Voting “yes” does not mean that

Read More »

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TOLDJA! Tyler Perry Studios And WGA Reach Agreement Mediated By NAACP

By | Wednesday November 26, 2008 @ 11:17am PST

Back on October 6th, I reported that the WGA and Tyler Perry were reaching a settlement in principal. Today it’s official: Tyler Perry Studios will become a signatory to the WGA contract. Sadly, the news release (below) does indicate that “some of the writers” writers fired from Perry’s two television series, House Of Payne and the upcoming Meet The Browns “will not be returning”. Is that by choice? Or by Perry edict? I’ve asked the WGA to explain this.

This follows considerable bad publicity for the entertainment mogul. The writer/actor/director/producer/author/playwright has been persona non grata after the Writers Guild filed charges of unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board on October 2, accusing Perry of axing more than half his writing staff on the TBS sitcom House Of Payne because of their union activity, and bargaining in bad faith with the Hollywood guild. Dozens upon dozens of the biggest producer, writer and showrunner names in scripted television even went so far as to sign an open letter bashing him for his anti-WGA activity. And good thing Barack Obama declined Perry’s invitation to the grand opening of his Tyler Perry Studios production facility in Atlanta this month. Had he not, the Democrat endorsed by many labor unions would have been met by picket lines thrown up by the Writers Guild of America and supported by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. (Perry is one of the Democratic presidential candidate’s staunchest supporters and prized campaigners and … Read More »

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SAG Prez Alan Rosenberg To Members: “Board To Call A Strike Only If It Becomes Absolutely Necessary”; AMPTP Complains

By | Wednesday November 26, 2008 @ 11:14am PST

Dueling statements today…

SAG President Alan Rosenfeld sent this message to members (also available on video here):

Dear Screen Actors Guild Member,

As your president, I want to take this opportunity to communicate directly with you about recent developments regarding our television and motion picture contract negotiations.

Last week, under the guidance of a federal mediator, we attempted to resolve our differences with the AMPTP. Our national negotiators and committee met with the mediator prior to our sessions with management, and followed the protocol and advice of the mediator. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts over two days to find creative solutions designed to move the process forward and to reach agreement, the federal mediator adjourned the mediation process early Saturday morning after concluding that mediation was over.

Now, per the resolution passed by 97% of our newly constituted national board of directors in October, we are launching a member education campaign and we will send out a strike referendum ballot to SAG members in December.  We ask that you support your board and negotiating committee, and vote YES to authorize the board to call a strike only if it becomes absolutely necessary.

Your leadership believes that we must be empowered with the real threat of a work stoppage in order to let management know that we are committed to protecting the future of all actors. We ask for your support, knowing that you have entrusted us to fight for your rights, and to protect your wages, working conditions and your health and pension benefits.

Read More »

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The “Secret Starry SAG Strike Meeting” That Wasn’t: WaxWord Blog Post Denied

By | Wednesday November 26, 2008 @ 3:47am PST

WEDNESDAY PM UPDATE: Now the blogger says she can’t ”confirm with certainty when this meeting took place”. Nor, judging from the corrections she’s already made, the rest of the story. But she still has it online. Amazing.

WEDNESDAY 10 AM UPDATE: Wow, this is sad. Now the blogger has put the story back up. “It was not deleted; I was editing it last night to further check facts and inadvertently left it in ‘draft’. I have now reposted, and apologies to those who missed it in their sleep,” Sharon Waxman writes. But, inexplicably, she claims, “On further reporting, I learn that the essence of the story is correct. I have amended the time element, however.” Actually she amends other errors I’ve pointed out here. But she also fails to correct many still inaccurate elements of her story: that there was a strike vote, that federal mediation was going on, that new conspiracies were at work, etc. She also ignores the fact that SAG is denying her strike story. And she adds a new post attacking me. All I can say is that this doesn’t bode well for her future blog endeavors.

WEDNESDAY AM: Blogging Hollywood is damn hard, especially when it involves the SAG-AMPTP strife and impending strike authorization vote by the big actors guild. So I was surprised to see a WaxWord blog story circulating online for 24 hours about a supposed “secret SAG meeting” last month where heavyweight Hollywood stars were asked to give the thumbs up or down on a strike. Surprised, because this meeting never took place.

The story was first posted on WaxWord, which is … Read More »

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Thanksgiving Wkd Predictions: ‘Four Christmases’ Hot, ‘Australia’ Not So Much; What’s The Deal With Down Under Film?

By | Tuesday November 25, 2008 @ 4:41pm PST

TUESDAY 4 PM UPDATE: says Twilight has sold more tickets on its site than Bolt, Quantum of Solace, Australia, and Milk combined, and still boasts over 345 upcoming sold out performances.

TUESDAY AM: This is shaping up as one of the big holiday weekends. No doubt the entire country may be in the mood for comedy, even a mediocre one, given the grim economic news. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that New Line/Warner Bros’ Four Christmases has “the best shot” to beat Summit Entertainment’s low-cost blockbuster Twilight this weekend, according to my box office gurus. They’re predicting the Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon PG-13 starrer should debut over $25M in its 3,200+ theaters for the 3-day weekend (which is far better than Vince’s last seasonal outing of $18.5M in the just plain awful Fred Claus) and $35M for the 5-day holiday. Twilight should experience a big but not unexpected 3-day weekend drop into the high $20sM. But Summit hopes for low $30sM (3-day weekend) and mid $40sM (for the 5-day holiday). But it also could finish neck-and-neck with Disney’s Bolt which, after a difficult debut last weekend when Twilight skewed younger than expected, could also end up in the high $20sM since Thanksgiving audiences love family pics so much. The release of 20th Century Fox’s sweeping epic Australia in 2,600 venues should find itself in a race for #4 with Bond holdover Quantum of Solace from MGM/Sony: both should have 3-day weekend totals in the high teens, and maybe $25M for the Oz pic’s 5-day holiday…. Read More »

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Vanity Fair Going Ahead With Oscar Party

By | Tuesday November 25, 2008 @ 7:34am PST

vanityfairparty.jpgFew in Hollywood thought Vanity Fair would dare restart its annual Oscar party in this lousy economy after cancelling it last time around because of the writers strike. (We could hope, right?) But Graydon Carter just announced: ”Vanity Fair will hold its annual Oscar Night party at the Sunset Tower Hotel on February 22, 2009. The party will be a much more intimate affair than in years past; we’re going to scale back the guest list considerably. We’ll celebrate Hollywood’s big night the way we did when we first threw the party 15 years ago — it will be a cozier, more understated event. And one with familiar décor — given the current economy, and our dedication to the green movement, we will be recycling many of the elements of years past. We also look forward to working with Jeff Klein, who owns the Sunset Tower (and is my partner in another venture), in making next year’s Oscar party a memorable one.” Oh, now I get it: Graydon got an insider’s deal. Carter, the co-owner of NYC’s Waverly Inn, recently bought the lease of East 54th Street’s Monkey Bar from the Glazier Group with two partners including hotelier Klein, who helped out VF with a barebones price to replace defunct Morton’s as the VF party venue. The Sunset Tower used to be the old St. James Club, then the unchic Argyle, and now its reputation consists mostly of Page Six-publicized fights with the likes of Britney Spears and Sean … Read More »

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CAA Not Feeling As “Super” For Big Game

By | Tuesday November 25, 2008 @ 4:26am PST

It can’t come as a surprise to anyone that all the full-frills parties surrounding the Super Bowl may not be held come February in Tampa because of the economic collapse. But Sports Business Journal is reporting that one of the smaller and more private parties cancelled is by CAA’s sports division, CAA Sports, which has held two Super Bowl parties since being created in 2006. The pulication ays rival agent Leigh Steinberg, one of the pioneers of big Super Bowl parties, is planning his third green-themed bash. And, according to SBJ,  actor John Travolta, who’s not a CAA client, still plans to hold his annual Super Bowl party.

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Write Move? Wrong Move? Illegal Move?

By | Monday November 24, 2008 @ 11:30pm PST


Few issues divided the WGA more than the leadership’s post-strike publication on April 18th of the names of its 28 members who went fi-core during the strike. After the WGA’s solidarity during the strike itself, I was flabbergasted by the huge schism which WGA West president Patric Verrone and WGA East president Michael Winship created with their letter. It turns out that the AMPTP took advantage of the discord and filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, which has now sided with the Hollywood CEO negotiating clique against the WGA.

The NLRB focused on one sentence in that WGA statement: ”…this handful of members who went financial core, resigning from the union yet continuing to receive the benefits of a union contract, must be held at arm’s length by the rest of us and judged accountable for what they are — strikebreakers whose actions placed everything for which we fought so hard at risk.” Was this the WGA urging members to shun the “puny few”, most of whom were soap opera producer-writers? So now the NLRB ruling, which overturned a earlier decision in favor of the WGA by the labor body’s regional director, results in a hearing before an administrative law judge in Los Angeles sometime in the next few months. The WGA had this statement: “This is a pending legal matter and the Guild will defend itself fully at the NLRB hearing.”

You may recall that during the strike, the AMPTP posted on its website details explaining how WGA members could go fi-core. The AMPTP’s complaint to the NLRB … Read More »

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R.I.P. Irving Brecher

By | Monday November 24, 2008 @ 10:48pm PST

One of the most memorable online videos I posted during the WGA strike starred writer Irv Brecher (Meet Me In St. Louis, Bye Bye Birdie, Marx Bros’ At The Circus & Go West, creator of radio and TV’s Life of Riley) remembering residuals battles with Hollywood employers from years past, and revealing he was still angry about them all. Well, he recently passed away at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles at age 94. Watch his Same Old Story YouTube below and read this April 2006 profile that appeared in the April 2006 issue of Written By. Both serve as apt tributes. I can’t help thinking that he would have been apoplectic over recent news that the WGA is getting stiffed by employers on New Media payments:

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DHD Advisory: Thanksgiving Schedule

By | Monday November 24, 2008 @ 4:37pm PST

Sorry for past days’ posting delays. I’ve not discussed this before, but recently my father has been very ill and undergone many hospitalizations and surgeries. I’ve been trying to divide my time between the website and his care. I will be out of town visiting him beginning Wednesday November 26th and returning home Thursday December 4th. I plan to keep DHD coverage as up to date as possible with special attention paid to the holiday box office. Please do not hesitate to contact me by email or by phone during this time. The best way to communicate with me will be or my private email if you have it. You can also leave a phone message for me or call my cell phone number. Thank you in advance for understanding. With your help, I will try my best to keep the website going.

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SAG’s Rosenberg Hopes To Avoid Strike

By | Monday November 24, 2008 @ 10:37am PST

Screen Actors Guild president Alan Rosenberg spoke with KTLA’s Sam Rubin this AM:

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Terry Christensen Gets 3 Year Sentence; Judge Calls House Detention “Ludicrous”

By | Monday November 24, 2008 @ 10:17am PST

It also looks as if the now disgraced uber-entertainment lawyer and convicted felon in the Pellicano scandal won’t be doing his time under house detention, either. This morning, federal judge Dale Fischer granted prosecutors’ recommendation and sentenced Terry Christensen to 36 months, plus a $250,000 fine to be paid within 30 days. She is allowing him to stay out on bond pending his appeal, and authorities have confiscated his passport. But Fischer poured cold water on Christensen’s request for house detention instead of prison, which the U.S. Probation Office had recommended for a total 10 month sentence. “The probation officers’ recommendation was ludicrous,” she said. “Home detention in an 8,000-square-foot house is not punishment.” Fischer also ordered Christensen to three years on supervised release after his prison term ends. That means until he is 73 years old. No doubt about it: she threw the book at him. Speaking about Christensen’s own letter to the court expressing his regret for his actions in the wiretapping case, Fisher declared, “His regret seems of recent vintage.”

So goes Christensen’s once flourishing career after he was found guilty in August for hiring then Hollywood P.I. Anthony Pellicano to wiretap Kirk Kerkorian’s ex-wife in a high profile 2002 child support case. Christensen wrote a letter to Fischer explaining away his crime as an “aberrational, isolated exercise of bad judgment”, but the judge didn’t buy it. ”Looking back, when I was approached by Mr. Pellicano, I should … Read More »

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AMPTP To Employers: SAG “Completely Out Of Touch With Reality”; Authorization Vote “Will Lead Inexorably To A Strike”

By | Sunday November 23, 2008 @ 1:49pm PST

The AMPTP today sent the following message to its employers:

“We are disappointed to report that the federal mediation efforts between SAG and AMPTP failed in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 22nd, when mediator Juan Carlos Gonzalez ended the process.

“The mediation failed for one fundamental reason:  SAG continued unrealistically to insist on a substantially better deal than all of the other major Hollywood Guilds and Unions have negotiated so far in 2008.  In the end, it was clear that SAG was not serious about using the mediation process to make a deal. Instead, SAG appears to have manipulated the mediation process in an attempt to achieve precisely the result it has wanted all along:  A strike by SAG members.

“SAG has not justified why it deserves to be treated differently than the industry’s other Guilds and Unions – particularly at a time of extraordinary economic distress for both the country and the entertainment business. SAG refuses to deviate from its unrealistic position, even continuing to cling to its proposal to change the DVD residual formula.

“AMPTP has already negotiated six major labor agreements in 2008 alone, including the pact just concluded with IATSE. We are prepared to conclude an agreement with SAG, but we simply do not see any justification for SAG receiving more than we have offered – a deal that is every bit as good as the ones the industry’s other Guilds and Unions have negotiated in far better economic times.


Read More »

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Universal Enrolls In ‘Umbrella Academy’

By | Sunday November 23, 2008 @ 12:56pm PST

In terms of Marvel and DC, Dark Horse is considered just what its name implies — the dark horse in the American comics industry dominated by more well-known names. But superhero-challenged Universal is determined to try to make the most of its deal with the publisher. So the studio is fast-tracking The Umbrella Academy (about a group of 7 children born with mutant superpowers) after just pinning down its deal with Gerard Way, the lead singer of the rock band My Chemical Romance, and Dark Horse owner Mike Richardson, the comic book store owner who started the comics company in 1986. Scott Stuber will be producing what Uni insiders praise as a “cool and sexy” project. The Umbrella Academy is yet another moonlighting project from an established entertainment talent: in this case, Way, lead singer for My Chemical Romance who received critical and popular acclaim for his concept CD “The Black Parade” which was a big hit with the goth crowd. As for The Umbrella Academy, it won an Eisner Award, which is comicdom’s Oscar for a best limited series this past summer at Comic-Con. nd it’s said to be a cross between Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol and X-Men. There will be a continuing mini-series (along the lines of Mike Mignola’s B.P.R.D. (probably no coincidence, as both books are published by Dark Horse), and Way has said he definitely wants to have storylines that evolve and even conclude, rather than remain ongoing like most superhero titles (which by their perennial nature can’t change the main … Read More »

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New Bond Now Boasts $418.5M Globally

By | Sunday November 23, 2008 @ 9:12am PST

The new Bond pic Quantum Of Solace was down 59% from its franchise record opening a week ago for a $27.4M weekend. Its new North American cume passed $100M Saturday in just 6 days time to finish with $109.4M through Sunday. Going into Friday, Daniel Craig’s 2nd turn as 007 had made $335M worldwide. Then the actioner opened in Australia and Spain to the biggest Bond openings ever. So MGM/Sony had an overseas weekend of $40.6M which will put international at $309M for a staggering $418.5M worldwide through Sunday. There are four territories left to open — New Zealand, Venezuela, Uruguay, and Japan.

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