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‘Slumdog’ Director Danny Boyle Wins DGA

By | Saturday January 31, 2009 @ 11:31pm PST

Question: Does the Slumdog Millionaire team have a big enough mantel for all these awards? The DGA says its Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film has traditionally served as “a near-perfect barometer” for the Academy Award for Best Director. Only 6 times since the DGA Award’s inception in 1948 has the winner not gone on to receive the Academy Award for Best Director (1968: Anthony Harvey DGA for The Lion in Winter/Carol Reed took home the Oscar for Oliver!; 1972: Francis Ford Coppola-The Godfather/Bob Fosse-Cabaret; 1985: Steven Spielberg-The Color Purple/Sydney Pollack-Out of Africa; 1995: Ron Howard-Apollo 13/Mel Gibson-Braveheart; 2000: Ang Lee-Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon/Steven Soderbergh-Traffic; 2002: Rob Marshall-Chicago/Roman Polanski-The Pianist).

Here are tonight’s winners of the Directors Guild of America Outstanding Directorial Achievement Awards and the recipients of the Guild’s 2009 Career Achievement Awards held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles:

Feature Film — DANNY BOYLE
Slumdog Millionaire, (Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros Pictures)
Mr. Boyle’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Sanjay Kumar; First Assistant Director: Raj Acharya; Second Assistant Director: Avani Batra; Second Second Assistant Director: Sonia Nemawarkar

Movies For Television/Miniseries: JAY ROACH
Recount, HBO
Mr. Roach’s Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Scott Ferguson; First Assistant Director: Michael Hausman; First Assistant Director/Second Assistant Director: Peter Thorell; Second Assistant Director: Tudor Jones; Second Second Assistant Director: Rob Dickerson Jr.

Dramatic Series Night: DAN ATTIAS
The Wire - “Transitions”, HBO
Mr. Attias’ Directorial Team:
Unit Production Manager: Nina Noble; First … Read More »

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Over 200 RSVP’s To SAG Hollywood’s Open Board Meeting On Monday Night

By | Saturday January 31, 2009 @ 10:24pm PST


When: Monday, February 2, 2009
6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
(Light meal will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m.)

Where: James Cagney Boardroom
5757 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

The Hollywood Division board will open its February 2, 2009 meeting to members-at-large for observation. This is part of the policy the board passed that calls for all future meetings of the board to be open, giving Hollywood Division members-at-large the opportunity to see their Hollywood board at work.

Space is limited. Reservations are a must and will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis (subject to stated requirements). All members who would like to attend must be in good standing, affiliated with the Guild’s Hollywood Division and willing to comply with observation procedures. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

If interested, please email or call (323) 549-6029. Be sure to include your professional name, SAG membership number and contact information. Only accepted observers will be contacted with confirmation and details.

In order to allow everyone interested the opportunity to attend, members may only be confirmed for one meeting during the election year (October 2008 through September 2009).

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Revenge Of The Nerds: Oscars Boycott

By | Saturday January 31, 2009 @ 5:35pm PST

Good for the geeks! I’m told that movie sites dedicated to comic book heroes, Star Trek sequels, and everything else sci-fi, action-oriented, and gory are promising to boycott all promotion of this year’s Academy Awards because The Dark Knight wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. Why, they’re even refusing to display the new 1-sheet Oscar poster. Now stop laughing. You know that males under/over age 25 who hero-worship Batman and Spock and Jigsaw can’t wait to watch Hugh Jackman step out of his Wolverine makeup and start singin’ and dancin’ to open the Oscar telecast. In other words, Dark Knight’s hardcore fans make up the Academy Awards audience only for Lord Of The Ring or the technical awards. But I definitely agree with them — as I complained when the Oscar nods were announced – that Chris Nolan (who wasn’t nominated for Best Director) and his pic were both robbed.
(Photo of DK fans by Jim Stevenson)

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BUT IT WASN’T EASY: NBC Sets Record And Sells Out Super Bowl Ads For $201M

By | Saturday January 31, 2009 @ 3:58pm PST

NBC announced on the eve of the Super Bowl that it has sold the last two of the 67 advertising spots for the game and now 32 advertisers will be represented, pushing total ad revenue for the event to a precedent-setting $206 million. The ads sold for between $2.4M and $3M per 30-second slot this year. Ad revenue for the football-related programming all day broke another record for $261M. But here’s what NBC didn’t announce (but the advertising trade press did): that Super Bowl stalwarts General Motors and FedEx are sitting on the sidelines this year. That NBC was still hawking unwanted inventory a week before the event. That there was a “buy a Super Bowl ad, get an ad for the pregame show cheap” incentive. That some advertisers are micking their rivals for throwing money away on extravagant Super Bowl ads. Meanwhile, NBC will put up the ads almost immediately at, and

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Text: SAG Board Majority’s Written Assent

By | Saturday January 31, 2009 @ 3:50pm PST

Pursuant to the Screen Actors Guild Constitution, Article V, Section 1. (J.) (4.), the following actions are hereby authorized through written assent by a majority of the members of the SAG National Board of Directors.I. Effective immediately, Doug Allen is terminated as an employee of Screen Actors Guild. Upon receipt of this document, he is to cease and desist in all work on behalf of this union. He is no longer the National Executive Director and has no authority to take any action, make any statement on behalf of this union or direct any Guild employee to take any action. Nor may he authorize the expenditure of any moneys which the Guild possesses. He is to immediately vacate the premises under the supervision of Bob Bush or, in his absence, such other person that the General Counsel may select, and may remove only his personal effects. Further, he is no longer Chief Negotiator of the TV/Theatrical or Commercials Contracts. The compensation due him under his contract will be paid in full, through its expiration date. This order will commence and satisfy any notice period regarding his employment termination applicable under his employment agreement.II. Effective immediately, David White, former General Counsel of Screen Actors Guild, is hereby engaged as the Interim National Executive Director of Screen Actors Guild. In light of the vacuum created by the termination of NED Doug Allen, and the precarious position the Guild finds itself in, we deem it critical to hire an Interim NED

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Text Of AFTRA/SAG No-Insult Agreement

By | Saturday January 31, 2009 @ 2:25pm PST

As you are aware, late last year, the SAG and AFTRA National Boards both approved in principle the terms of an agreement concerning the conditions for negotiating the commercials contracts under the Phase One Agreement (the “Commercials Contracts Agreement”). The Commercials Contracts Agreement has now been finalized and approved by both unions. Copies will be distributed to both National Boards on February 7. You are receiving this communication because you are one of the union representatives covered by its termsIn addition to the provisions binding both unions to conduct the negotiations jointly, the Commercials Contracts Agreement contains a commitment to no-raiding and non-disparagement between the two unions and their representatives, including all staff, elected officers (on, for AFTRA, both the National and Local Boards, and for SAG, the National Board, the Division Boards, and the Branch Councils) and all national committee members.With respect to the no-raiding obligation, neither union nor its representatives as defined above may engage in any activity that could be construed as raiding under the AFL-CIO Constitution, beginning from the date of the union’s recognition or certification. For example, neither union may seek to represent or hold itself out as available to represent performers on any production as to which the other union is the bargaining representative. Similarly, neither union may encourage any performer working on any production to abandon representation by the other union.

The non-disparagement obligation prohibits either union or its representatives from disparaging the other union in communications to the public, the media

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Paradigm Sends People Packing Today

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 10:08pm PST

I hear 2 agents – one lit, one marketing – and 10 assistants gone in one fell swoop.

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TBS Wants George Lopez Late Night Talk

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 8:50pm PST

This year, Telepictures did a pilot for former ANC sitcom star George Lopez in his own late night talker. But the syndication arm of Warner Bros couldn’t sell it. Now I’m told that a deal is about to close for the Lopez talker to air at either 11PM or 11:30PM on TBS. My source says to expect an announcement shortly.

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NATPE Floor Space To Be Eliminated…?

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 8:50pm PST

So the folks returning from NATPE are telling me that “this will be the last year of NATPE as we know it”. Because they say NATPE couldn’t fill the floor space so the powers-that-be will eliminate it next year. Once upon a time, that floor space had quite a storied tradition when independents like King World and Rysher and the major studios took giant booths. “It used to be P.T. Barnum when everyone was there — Jerry Springer, Barbara Walters, Oprah. Remember when Wolfgang Puck used to cook?,” one of sources recalls. Then, about 5 years ago, studios slowly stopped participating and exorbitantly paying, culminating when Warner Bros’ Telepictures took a series of hotel suites and did meetings with affiliates there instead of on the floor. NATPE tried to turn the corner by attracting the digital biz and making it into a crossover convention. But then the bubble burst, and NATPE was never able to replace those companies on the floor. Then the TV syndication business just atrophied. I’m told Warner Bros went so far as to suggest to prez/CEO Rick Feldman that NATPE give free floor space to the majors in an effort to attract independent distributors in the same way that department stores anchor shopping malls. But he said no. This year,  pretty much only CBS Television Distribution (aka Paramount Domestic Television as it was known before CBS and Viacom split) stayed loyal and on the floor. NBCU Television Distribution was also on the floor promoting the fall launch of The Office. … Read More »

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LA Times Bringing Back “Company Town” And Pushing Calendar’s Deadlines Later

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 4:47pm PST

According to an internal memo from new publisher Eddy Hartenstein, the Los Angeles Times Business section beginning March 2nd will be “enhanced by bringing back the ‘Company Town’ feature, which will serve as the anchor for our ‘business of entertainment’ coverage”. And it’s now official that Calendar’s “deadlines to be pushed deep into the evening (aka ‘second-daily’), allowing us to make our primary space for entertainment coverage more news-driven. This will enrich this current ‘must read’ section even further, enabling us to add features such as overnight reviews.” But who’s gonna staff both showbiz sections? Also announced were 300 more layoffs coming, 70 of them newsroom positions. (See my previous, Late Night Deadlines For LAT’s Calendar?)

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Kyra Sedgwick Signs With United Talent

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 3:20pm PST

First, I should explain that someone close to the star of TNT’s The Closer clarified to me that “her team is completely intact except for Gersh. She has the same manager, same lawyer, same publicist, same assistant. Everything’s the same but Gersh.” And, further, that her rethinking her agency “has nothing to do with Bernie Madoff.” So, now that’s clear, she took meetings with various agencies and chose UTA.

Gersh Loses Two Actors, Signs Two Actors

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Paramount vs Sony On ‘Eat Pray Love’

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 11:04am PST

So this was a hot book but it’s been a cold movie in development at Paramount. Two years ago, Brad Pitt wanted the project for his Plan B production company. Then a year ago, Julia Roberts attached herself to play the lead and develop it. And most recently, Ryan Murphy came on to direct. But now Paramount is about to put the project in turnaround, and Sony is about to pick it up. Some are telling me that Paramount will chalk up another Twilight turnaround humiliation. Others say that Sony will overspend for a chick flick that should cost only $25M to make, is currently budgeted at $60M, sends out 15% of the gross off the top, would have to earn $150M worldwide to make money, and ends up with a 1-quadrant movie starring a has-been actress helmed by a mediocre director. How I love it when Hollywood studios bitchslap one another!

The book by Elizabeth Gilbert is subtitled, “One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia” and the content is just that. One big fan of the soul-searching travelogue tells me that Paramount “didn’t get it. It’s a girls’ book,  and they didn’t know what it was. All of them, from Brad Grey to John Lesher, looked at it and said no.”  Another tells me, ”They’re nuts. They’re only making guy movies, and I don’t know how they can ignore this best-seller after the success of Mamma Mia and Sex And The City.”

On the … Read More »

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‘Taken’ Topping Online Wkd Ticket Sales

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 10:19am PST Ticket Sales (as of 1/30/09, 9AM PT)

Taken 13%
Slumdog Millionaire 8%
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans 6%
Paul Blart: Mall Cop 6%
The Uninvited 6%

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Peter Chernin’s Contract Negotiation Now Hurting News Corp Stock On Wall Street

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 9:19am PST

Rich Greenfield at Pali Research has given up on News Corp, changing his “Buy” recommendation to “Sell” within the last 24 hours and dropping his stock target price to $5.50 from $12. The financial analyst was basing his very negative assessment on several issues:  fiscal (June) 2009 operating income expected to decline 30%, with TV profits down 80%, newspapers down over 50%, book publishing down 90%, and filmed entertainment down almost 30%. But I was most interested in what he said under the headline “Chernin Increasingly Likely To Leave”:

“We are increasingly fearful that the downturn in the global media businesses, with a increasing array of secular challenges (DVRs/TV and Maturing DVD market), will lead to Peter Chernin’s departure from News Corp. when his contract expires in the middle of 2009. While Chernin has not signaled his intent, we fear the longer time goes by, the less likely he is to renew his contract, particularly given how much News Corp senior executives would like Chernin to stay. Chernin’s departure would raise significant investor concern and could lead to other management changes at News Corp.”

Well that just upped Chernin’s quote by a few millions…

It’s always such a drama when the 57-year-old prez/COO’s contract is due. Last time, he negotiated an “out” clause in case he was offered something better, like the chairman or CEO job at Disney. This time around it’s been 4 months of uncertainty with … Read More »

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R.I.P. Variety Asia

By | Friday January 30, 2009 @ 9:06am PST

UPDATE: Yes, it’s true.

I’m trying to confirm’s report this AM that Patrik Frater, the editor in chief of Variety Asia, and Marcus Lim, the web editor, have been laid off. Frater is known as one of the best connected guys in the region. “And for those who are wondering, yes, this will probably also mean an end to Grady Hendrix’s popular “Kaiju Shakedown” blog as both of the men he reports to have just been canned,” the site says. So is it R.I.P. Variety Asia? I do know from my own sources that China’s home-grown film business, once flourishing, is now shutting down until presumably that country’s economic crisis eases. And that will take only-god-knows how long. Oh, and before I forget, I also heard that Variety laid off two of its three London editorial staffers.

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An Invitation To Ben Silverman’s Crib

By | Thursday January 29, 2009 @ 5:44pm PST

I’ve already told you about personnel trouble inside all-shook-up NBC. Now I’m told that Ben Silverman is holding a big meeting at his new Pacific Palisades home for all the top NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios senior executives.  (Perhaps in the basement wine room/screening room of his self-described ”weekend oasis” purchased last spring and recently featured in Los Angeles Confidential magazine?) The confab’s purpose is to ask “Can’t we all get along?” and then “Hug it out”, says my source. (Remember, Ben did a cameo on Entourage last season, ergo Ari Gold’s phrasing.) “And then to figure out what to do with the network.” Oh yeah, that.

Already Trouble Inside All-Shook-Up NBC?

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Media Rights Capital Goes To Plan B

By | Thursday January 29, 2009 @ 3:06pm PST

I hear MRC just hired Brye Adler from Plan B to be the new production executive under Tori Metzger.

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Gersh Loses Two Actors, Signs Two Actors

By | Thursday January 29, 2009 @ 1:29pm PST

UPDATE: Someone close to the star of TNT’s The Closer clarified to me that “her team is completely intact except for Gersh. She has the same manager, same lawyer, same publicist, same assistant. Everything’s the same but Gersh.” And, further, that her rethinking her agency “has nothing to do with Bernie Madoff.” So, now that’s clear, she took meetings with various agencies and on Friday signed with UTA. (See my Kyra Sedgwick Signs With United Talent.)

Clients come, clients go, but agencies last forever. So it is at Gersh which recentlly lost Djimon Hounsou to CAA, and Kyra Sedgwick to no one yet. (I’m told  she’s rethinking her team in the wake of being caught up in the Bernie Madoff financial situation.) Both clients moved on as part of the fallout from Gersh agent Lorrie Bartlett switching teams and joining ICM some months ago. But, interestingly, neither client followed Bartlett there.

Meanwhile Gersh has signed two-time Academy Award nominee James Woods from CAA. It has also signed Jennifer Beals and immediately put her into her first feature film in years – The Book of Eli, an action thriller with Denzel Washington. As for Woods, who’s quite a handful, he’s producing and directing the feature An American Girl with Gersh client and Twilight star Kristen Stewart attached to star. “She said it was the best thing she’s ever read,” an insider told me. I hear that CAA’s Chris Andrews labored to get it made for Woods, but its Iraq element makes it difficult. … Read More »

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Now It’s Disney/ABC Laying Off 400 Staff

By | Thursday January 29, 2009 @ 10:43am PST

Every day my “inbox” keeps filling with more in-house memos about staff cuts at the studios and networks. This latest whammy has Disney’s ABC Television Group axing 4% of the total workforce all the way up into the executive ranks. About 200 open positions won’t be filled, and another 200 staffers will be let go. Here’s the memo from Disney-ABC TV Group prez Anne Sweeney:

Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 10:21 AM
Subject: Business Update


After months of making hard decisions across our businesses to help us adjust to a weakening economy, we’re now faced with the harsh reality of having to eliminate jobs in some areas.

This was not an easy decision, nor one made lightly. The people affected today are our friends and colleagues, and we are doing all we can for them and their families during what we know will be a difficult transition.

Change is never easy, and becomes even harder to embrace during times of turbulence and uncertainty. With that in mind, I’ve asked each business leader to reach out to their group with more information on this announcement as soon as possible.

I realize this is an extremely difficult day for everyone in our group. But despite the challenges before us, I remain confident and optimistic about our future, because you really are the best team in the business.


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