SUNDAY AM: The bottom dropped out of Disney’s Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience to Hollywood’s immense surprise. What were weekend predictions of as much as $30 million and even $40 million had to be revised down, down, down as it opened to $4.8M Friday and then $4.7M Saturday for only a $12.7M weekend with Sunday’s estimate of $3M. “Concert pics usually look better on paper than they actually are because the fans drive tracking but it doesn’t go beyond fans,” one marketing guru told me. Of course, you have to remember that it’s playing in just 1,271 3-D theaters, and even so it was the 2nd highest grossing concert pic of all time with a big per screen average of $9,992. ”Many had unrealistic expectations for this pic. But they forget the coup that Disney pulled off on Hannah Montana 3-D,” a rival studio exec told me. That’s because the latter was a “one week lock” engagement. (They held it over, of course). But Disney really created a sense of urgency among moviegoers to see that 3-D event which shocked Hollywood with a $32.1M opening. This time around, Disney’s marketing gimmick was to send out the Jonas Brothers on surprise personal appearances.
The weekend started out promisingly for the pic with MovieTickets reporting 700+ sold-out screenings hours before it opened at midnight Thursday. But advance ticket sales weren’t anywhere near the level of pre-sales for Hannah Montana. Then again, Miley Cyrus is the star of her own Disney show whereas the Jonas Brothers’ series won’t … Read More »
Marjorie David is a seasoned television writer and executive producer (Wildfire), and co-executive producer (Life, Dark Angel, Chicago Hope). She volunteered to serve as a Contract Captain for the WGA’s Contract 2007 Campaign. She is a member of the working board of the League Of Hollywood Women Writers.
The most important result of the writers’ strike for me is the realization that even though incremental gains in such things as benefits can be won through a labor action, labor action doesn’t occur in a political vacuum. Of course, everybody knows that. But experiencing it makes all the difference. I learned this: nothing will change until there is genuine reinstatement of effective anti-trust law. There’s only so much a small, special-interest union can do against massive corporate power. But the government is ours, and the strike made me see that we can fight to take it back.
I think we can all agree that media consolidation is bad because it limits and controls access to information, but it’s also fair to argue that new media outlets are opening up access in ways we’ve not seen before and in ways we can’t yet predict. We can make sure, or try to make sure, we get paid for our work in new media, but most important, we have to guarantee that new media does not fall under the control of the same six companies that control pretty much all of our newspapers, television and radio. The
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Ashley Gable is co-executive producer of The Mentalist and has been supervising producer on Crossing Jordan, and co-producer on The Division. A former attorney, and a working writer for 10+ years, she was a picket coordinator at Fox during the WGA strike. Last year, she ran for the WGA’s board of directors.
The Conglomerates’ biggest mistake during the strike was, well, forcing us to go on strike. Not because the deal we got was so great. But because of that damn picket line. The Conglomerates have achieved the unthinkable: writers are kind of… united. And… organizing. Writers! The people who spend at least an hour a day arguing about where to order lunch. The people who make that Hurricane Katrina FEMA guy look like a great manager. And yet a year after the strike, writers are strengthening ties with each other, we’re keeping a watchful eye on the Congloms, and we’re reaching out to help organize reality writers. The Conglomerates accidentally taught the cats to self-herd.
What the Congloms didn’t realize is that when you walk in a circle with someone for three hours a day, for one hundred days, you get to know that person. Better even than if you’re in the writers’ room with him on a show. Because in the writers’ room you don’t get to see if a writer’s got your back when that asshole in the green SUV decides he can’t wait 15 seconds to begin
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According to a report from the French news service Agence France Press (AFP), advisors to Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged a visiting Hollywood delegation to apologize for “insults and slanders” about Iranians in films. “(Iranian) cinema officials will only have the right to have official sessions with… Hollywood movie makers when they apologize to the Iranians for their 30 years of insults and slanders,” Javad Shamaghdari, the art advisor to Iran’s president, said Saturday. “The Iranian people and our revolution has been repeatedly unjustly attacked by Hollywood.” He cited among the offending films 300, for showing Iranian ancestors as bloodthirsty, and The Wrestler , for a scene tearing up the Iranian flag. “We will believe Obama’s policy of change when we see change in Hollywood too, and if Hollywood wants to correct its behavior towards Iranian people and Islamic culture then they have to officially apologise,” Shamaghdari added. The visiting filmmakers are from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and include president Sid Ganis, former president Frank Pierson, actress Annette Bening, and producer Walter Horberg who were invited by the Iranian Alliance Of Motion Pictures to hold a series of workshop meetings in Tehran. An AMPAS rep told AFP it’s supposed to be a private initiative for educational and creative exchange without a political agenda. Guess it didn’t turn out that way.
Howard Rodman is professor and former chair of the writing division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts; a member of the board of directors of the Writers Guild of America, West; and an artistic director of the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Labs. His films include Savage Grace, August, and Joe Gould’s Secret.
Let’s start with what everyone who’s not in bed with the media conglomerates knows: that the strike was among the most successful ever in Guild history– In terms of solidarity, in terms of impact, in terms of energizing and engaging the membership, but mostly, in terms of What Was Won.
First and foremost, the Guild got jurisdiction over new media. Anyone who doesn’t understand how central that is still gets out of bed to change the channel. (I often recall the picket-line stroller carrying a tot with the sign, “It’s Old Media to me.”)
I would add to this the fact that in new media (which is to say, going forward: media) we base our residuals on distributor’s gross rather than producer’s gross. (These concepts have always been somewhat arcane, so let me just put it this way: producer’s gross is what’s left after the casino takes its 80% skim.)
There are many other advances, but to me, these are the ones that allow writers to have a future.
As long as John McLean and Peter Bart are indulging in revisionist history, let’s give praise where praise is due,
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I go out for a while and Redstone finally restructures his massive $1.5 billion debt. The announcement came this afternoon that his National Amusements will have a repayment extension to December 31st, 2010 with certain repayments coming in 2009 and 2010. The good news for Sumner is that he won’t have to sell more of his controlling interests in CBS or Viacom. The continuing bad news is that the share prices of both those companies are barely treading water.
After 12 years at Endeavor, she’s starting her own management and production company and repping her clients Eric McCormack (Will & Grace, Trust Me), Robert Patrick (The Unit), and Chuck’s Zachary Levi — all formerly managed by her friend (and accident victim) Joan Hyler – Chuck‘s Zachary Levi, Jonathan Slavin (Better Off Ted), Colm Feore (24), and Armie Hammer (the new Gossip Girl love interest for Serena). Endeavor says the actors will stay at the agency.
The Writers Guild Of America, West, just issued this statement to answer “the concerted effort underway by the AMPTP and some in the press to minimize the success of our strike” which officially ended with the ratiication of the proposed Theatrical and Television Basic Agreement on February 26, 2008. In light of the impasses and concessions currently happening to SAG and IATSE’s Hollywood Locals in their leadership’s negotiations with Big Media’s bargainers, I think this WGA statement reminds showbiz guild members that a union that stays publicly unified can stare down the overwhelming power of the studios and networks. Then it can achieve, if not all its goals, many of those most vital to the next wave of new technology and the labor force who will create, act and work in it now and well into the future. This weekend, I will be publishing various writers’ assessments of what the WGA accomplished during its 100-day strike for financial survival:
February 27, 2009
Dear WGAW Member:
One year ago this week an overwhelming majority of the WGA membership voted in favor of ratifying a new three-year contract. Today there is a concerted effort underway by the AMPTP and some in the press to minimize the success of our strike, calling it “unnecessary” and “self-destructive.” I’d like to set the record straight.
Our current contract was the result of a months-long effort to negotiate in good faith with the companies, who unfortunately forced us into a 100-day strike. The
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No, it doesn’t affect Sony Pictures Entertainment. But now parent company Sony will form two new business groups: the Networked Products & Services Group, which will include Sony Computer Entertainment, as well as its PC and mobile devices businesses; and the New Consumer Products Group, which will include televisions, digital cameras and camcorders. Today’s eorganization comes after Sony posted record losses of $2.7 billion this year. Tell me, how does Sir Howard hang onto his job, especially after the PlayStation 3 screw-up? Some top execs are being reshuffled. But Stringer, the chairman/CEO, is giving himself the added title of president. I guess the position of “King” is still held by Akio Morita’s ghost.
SAG negotiators have been telling me for months that Nick Counter has looked increasingly unwell, and Carol Lombardini (who joined the AMPTP 30 years ago when he did) has taken the lead position in that union’s negotiations. What’s surprising here is the implication that Lombardini isn’t being considered for Counter’s job permanently. Some thought she had it in the bag. I’ll have more on this breaking story later. But, for now, here’s the AMPTP announcement:
February 27, 2009 (Los Angeles) – The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers announced today that long-time AMPTP President Nick Counter will retire, as expected, following the expiration of his five-year contract on March 31, 2009. Following his retirement, Counter will serve as a consultant to the AMPTP on all labor matters including the SAG negotiations. Counter has served as AMPTP President for 27 years and was the chief negotiator for 311 major labor pacts, including six in 2008 with the DGA, WGA, AFTRA, Casting Directors and IATSE. Counter’s current contract was renegotiated in 2004 for an additional five years, plus five years as a consultant to the AMPTP upon retirement. A search is currently underway for Counter’s successor. Carol Lombardini, AMPTP executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, will serve as acting President of the AMPTP.
I often refer to Ben Silverman as “the gift that keeps on giving” because he provides me with so much material to deservedly humiliate him. And now he’s living up to that moniker. So where can you fail at your job and get rewarded for it? At NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios. But only if you’re Teri Weinberg, the Reveille development exec who was brought by Ben to NBC Entertainment and then booted in December but never actually shoved through the door. Well, now I’ve found out about her golden parachute, and it’s a soft landing indeed. I’m told she has just closed a 2-year 7-figure overall producing deal with NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios that also gives her a sizable discretionary fund to spend on development and the wherewithal to hire an executive. As part of the deal, she’s being brought on The Philanthropist as exec producer. Unfortunately for Ben, she’s named it “Yellow Brick Road”. (“I used to always fantasize that the road was infinite,” Teri told THR.)
My sources speculate that some of this is probably funded by money left on her contract, which wouldn’t have expired until the summer, so that’s being rolled into her new deal. But this is amazing since everyone for months and months told me she was a terrible executive (even though Ben calls her a “fantastic” producer). From the start, her appointment was seen as a major mistake because she wasn’t ready for … Read More »
Let me put it this way: when I spoke to CAA about what’s new the other day, the agency never even bothered to mention it hired former POM book agent Simon Green to bring in publishing projects for its existing clients along thelines of the book deal he made for the Jonas Brothers which sold through the roof. But today’s daily version of Publishers Weekly is splashing the news. So there must be something to the emails I’m getting that Green is no big deal. To PW, this is a signal that CAA is “entrenching itself a bit more deeply in the New York literary world” although CAA denies that Green’s hiring “marks any kind of effort to launch a full-fledged book operation in New York”. But PW found that the book agents CAA regularly works with ”question the motive behind the expansion”. WMA and ICM have heavyweight book departments that are hugely prestigious and profitable. UTA has a solid unit, too. Endeavor got into the business only recently when it hired away ICM’s Richard Abate and just added Dutton editor-in-chief Trena Keating. But CAA’s history includes positioning itself as a pal to independent book agents who could work to develop projects for TV and movies with a Hollywood tenpercentery and not have to worry about losing clients to a bigger competitor. Then there were CAA’s special relationships with book agencies like Janklow Nesbit and Sterling Lord. So if CAA suddenly decides to represent authors as clients, it’s because the agency can’t keep ignoring this lucrative revenue stream. (Even Endeavor’s still new department … Read More »
FRIDAY AM: There’s been a lot of news coming in to me about the progress of a WMA/Endeavor merger. Some sources are saying there’ll be a WMA board meeting soon to discuss it. Others tell me that the tax consequences are looking difficult to overcome. It al has to do with LLC and ”S” corporations, which greatly complicate things because it could involve writing checks in the millions of dollars to the U.S. government. And there could be a 3rd company involved as an investor and/or partner. (Hint: There was, at one point. And I’m not talking about ICM investor Rizvi Traverse whom Ari Emanuel invited for a meal at Toscana Thursday night.) But, recently, founding partners at Endeavor have been phoning clients to make sure they’ve signed their agency contracts. One screenwriter who has been there awhile was surprised that, 2 hours after a partner called, the contract was messengered to the writer’s office. Then again, that happened right before Broder merged with ICM. And also a few years ago when WMA was in the final stages to merge with United Talent in a deal that never closed.
Q-&-A with me about DHD by the well-thought-of website, IWantMedia.com, run by Patrick Phillips, an adjunct professor in the NYU journalism department.
Tribeca Film Festival today announced that Peter Scarlet has stepped down from his position as Artistic Director of the Festival, effective immediately, after 7 years.
SUNDAY AM: The bottom dropped out of Disney’s Jonas Brothers: The 3-D Concert Experience to Hollywood’s immense surprise. What were weekend predictions of as much as $30 million and even $40 million had to be revised down, down, down as it opened to $4.8M Friday and then $4.7M Saturday for only a $12.7M weekend with Sunday’s estimate of $3M. “Concert pics usually look better on paper than they actually are because the fans drive tracking but it doesn’t go beyond fans,” one marketing guru told me. Of course, you have to remember that it’s playing in just 1,271 3-D theaters, and even so it was the 2nd highest grossing concert pic of all time with a big per screen average of $9,992. “Many had unrealistic expectations for this pic. But they forget the coup that Disney pulled off on Hannah Montana 3-D,” a rival studio exec told me. That’s because the latter was a “one week lock” engagement. (They held it over, of course). But Disney really created a sense of urgency among moviegoers to see that 3-D event which shocked Hollywood with a $32.1M opening. This time around, Disney’s marketing gimmick was to send out the Jonas Brothers on surprise personal appearances.
The weekend started out promisingly for the pic with MovieTickets reporting 700+ sold-out screenings hours before it opened at midnight Thursday. But advance ticket sales weren’t anywhere near the level of pre-sales … Read More »
About 300 people showed up for the protest on the other side of the street from where Saturday’s “The Night Before” fundraiser for the Motion Picture & Television Fund was being held at the Beverly Hills hotel. While Jeffrey Katzenberg and Michael Douglas gave TV interviews at the hotel with a pre-arranged list of talking points (below), celebs like Lea Thompson, David Carradine, and David Lander picketed alongside family of patients as well as caregivers at the MPTF’s acute care hospital and long-term care nursing home facing closure. (more below video)
A few networks like ABC were there to film statements by Lilly Tomlin (who was late) and the other celeb protesters. Then Katzenberg’s press conference time was suddenly pushed up, and all of the camera crews ran inside to hear what he and Michael Douglas had to say. The camera crews only returned later to film the protesters marching in the dark and grab some quick sound bytes from David Carradine and those celebs still available. The police demanded that the amplified portion of the protest — heard by the party guests gathered poolside — end at 8 PM even though the organizers had paid for the proper Beverly Hills permit to use amplification equipment and a time to stop wasn’t specified. Many of the limos pulling into the party rolled down windows to give the picketers the thumbs up. “I am hopeful there is an awareness growing for the tragedy that is taking place at the MPTF,” one of the protest’s organizers told me.
Katzenberg’s “The Night Before” Oscars party raised $6 million for the … Read More »
This didn’t get any publicity on Oscars Sunday. But, at the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, people in wheelchairs were lined up outside to protest that evening’s bestowing of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to Jerry Lewis because they object to the way he talks about “the cripples” during publicity for his MDA fundraising. “They even duped one of the security guards into letting someone use the rest rooms. And when the door opened, they stormed the grand lobby,” an organizer told me. “[AMPAS executive director] Bruce Davis had to come downstairs to try to appease the people, but more so to make sure that the foreign press that was already gathered there wouldn’t write about the incident.”