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Fox Screws Up ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ DVD

By | Tuesday March 31, 2009 @ 11:48pm PDT

There was a bad batch of Slumdog Millionaire DVDs released without the special features advertised on the box. Missing are “The Making Of” featurette and the “Deleted Scenes” among other promised content. Needless to say, a lot of buyers are complaining to Amazon about it. The web seller has added this note:

DVD Alert: We are aware that special features were missing from a number of Slumdog Millionaire DVDs. Fox has set up a hotline telephone number (1-888-223-4FOX) for those consumers who may have purchased a version that does not contain special features. Upon calling the hotline, these consumers will be able to have their disc replaced for one containing special features. Fox regrets any inconvenience this has caused.

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CBS: Smaller Shows, Bigger Film Division

By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 10:12pm PDT

UPDATE: You asked, I’ll answer. I’ve just learned that CBS has demanded that each existing TV show — even the hit ones – reduce their budgets for next year, if renewed. This may mean smaller writing staffs. Meanwhile, Hollywood has been speculating about the future of the new CBS feature division. I’m told, “All systems go”. Not only are there no layoffs, but there are actually additions as the division heads into production. Shooting begins April 7th on its first motion picture, a medical drama starring Harrison Ford. And its second pic, a romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez, starts principal photography in May.

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    I Bet Sacha’s ‘Bruno’ Charms The MPAA Ratings Board On The 2nd Time Around

    By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 7:21pm PDT

    Universal isn’t even breaking a sweat. “People don’t get the process,” one exec told me. “The film isn’t even rated yet.” So I can’t believe some bloggers think it’s a big deal that Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno has received a possible NC-17 rating on its first submission to the MPAA. Because it happens all the time. Just ask Kevin Smith, whose Zack and Miri Make A Porno received a possible NC-17 rating until the helmer made changes and the MPAA appeals board reviewed the film a second time and gave it an official R. This was the 3rd time that Smith won an appeal with the MPAA (Clerks and Jersey Girl came first). Jeez, some people need to get a clue about the biz.

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    Can Redstone Go To Fiscal Hell And Back?

    By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 6:57pm PDT

    I hear Sumner Redstone is denying those persistent rumors that he’s talking to Peter Chernin about replacing Philippe Dauman as No. 2. “Chernin is from the creative side, and Dauman isn’t,” said a source explaining the whispering. And Sumner has been known to make shocking mogul moves. (Just ask Tom Freston.) Meanwhile, on the financial front, the over-leveraged old coot’s auction continues: he’s hawking chunks of his family holding company National Amusements’ theater chains to pay down his debt. Citigroup, which is handling the auction, sent out sales books to 60 parties for the domestic theaters except the 17 in New England (which are not on the block presumably for sentimental reasons since that’s where the company started), and to 20 parties for the overseas theaters in the UK and South America. Sources say so far he’s received 60 offers for the U.S. theaters and 20 offers for the UK and South American. I’m told Redstone has also received an offer for the Russian theaters which aren’t on the block — yet. Bids are expected in about a month.

    But it looks doubtful he’ll get what he hopes. the 85-year-old Viacom chief still has a $1.4 billion balance left on his original $1.6B loan, some of which has to be paid back by the end of this year, and all in 2010. This crisis began back in October when Viacom and CBS share prices dropped 43% and 52% respectively, forcing the … Read More »

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    Les Is Less: CBS Falls 17% On Downgrade

    By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 5:01pm PDT

    Just when you think it can’t get any worse for Les Moonves, it does. He’s already slashed the CBS Inc dividend. Today the stock fell more than 17%. That followed a UBS downgrade of the media stock from neutral to sell because so much of the company’s revenues are generated through auto advertising (65%), including local ads which are also dominated by car commercials. So even though CBS shows comprise half of Nielsen’s Top 10, the stock closed today at $3.79.

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    R.I.P. Steven Bach

    By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 5:00pm PDT

    The former United Artists exec wrote what I consider to be the best books about the lunacy of the entertainment business — Final Cut, about how Michael Cimino’s disastrous 1980 Heaven’s Gate brought down the studio. Bach also wrote biographies of Marlene Dietrich, Moss Hart and Leni Riefenstahl. He died of cancer at his home in Vermont.

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    Gersh Hires Former Endeavor Agent Wu

    By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 2:33pm PDT

    Before she was let go, Endeavor talent agent Daisy Wu’s client list included Oscar winner Mira Sorvino, DL Hughley, Alexander Skarsgard, Lindsay Sloane, Chris Eccleston, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Alex Pettyfer, and Amelia Warner. I’m told it’s not confirmed at this time which clients will follow her to The Gersh Agency. Daisy was fielding offers from many agencies. Before Endeavor, she’d worked at ICM.

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    Warner Bros Woes With Abu Dhabi Deal

    By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 1:05pm PDT


    When the pact was announced 18 months ago, I noted that, if a sucker is born every minute, all eventually land in Hollywood. And that, after exhausting the German dentist money, then the American tycoon scion money, warnerbroslogo-200.jpgthen the Greenwich hedge fund money, Tinseltown was now exploiting the Abu Dhabi real estate money. A lot was made of the Warner Bros announcement of a “long-term, multi-faceted strategic alliance” calling for a theme park, hotel, multiplex cinemas and joint fund to finance films, develop video games, and build out the infrastructure for Abu Dhabi’s new media. I was told it was a multibillion dollar deal, with the film and video game funds alone worth $500 million each, made with Abu Dhabi’s leading real estate developer ALDAR and the newly established Abu Dhabi Media Company. But that was then, and this is now.

    BusinessWeek‘s excellent LA Bureau chief Ron Grover is reporting that the Warner Bros-Abu Dhabi Media overall deal is being renegotiated, and the $500 million agreement to jointly fund movie projects has stalled. “Sources in Hollywood and the financial industry say that Abu Dhabi Media and the Time Warner-owned studio are in talks to restructure their agreement but are not close to a resolution. The only movie Abu Dhabi has invested in under the deal is Shorts, a family film staring Jon Cryer and William H. Macy that is scheduled for release this summer. That movie was put into production shortly after the financing deal was … Read More »

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    ICM Signs Emmy Rossum

    By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 11:51am PDT

    As I reported back on March 20th, Emmy Rossum left CAA. She took meetings with several top agencies and has now signed with ICM.

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    DHD Advisory: 72 Hours Light Posting

    By | Monday March 30, 2009 @ 11:39am PDT

    I’ll be in and out over the next 3 days so cut DHD some slack. Will file when I can. But expect lighter than usual posting and late stories. Keep those tips coming!

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    ‘Monsters vs Aliens’ Blasts Off #1 For Biggest 3D Opening: $58.2M Weekend

    By | Saturday March 28, 2009 @ 12:02am PDT

    SUNDAY AM: Feel that heat? It’s another hot weekend at the box office, +40% over last year for $140 million in overall grosses. And it’s mostly due to the blistering North American performance of 3-D blockbuster Monsters vs Aliens. Despite so-so elite reviews, the pic totalled $58.2M this weekend, performing almost as huge as producer DreamWorks dared to hope, but better than distributor Paramount thought possible. (See below) It was the biggest pic of the year so far, and blasted through the record for a 3-D opening (held by Spy Kids 3-D) and RealD estimated it contributed  $25M of the gross. Also, 9% of the box office came from 143 IMAX screens. Monsters vs Aliens debuted to $16.8 million Friday and then soared to $24.3 million Saturday and an estimated $17 million Sunday thanks to crowded kiddie matinees in the widest release yet of a 3-D title – 4,104 theaters, including 1,550 3-D venues which had $3 to $4 premiums. This was almost the biggest non-sequel toon opening for DWA, behind 2008 summer hit Kung Fu Panda, but also one of the top non-sequel animation openings of all time. So 3-D is paying off for DWA chief Jeffrey Katzenberg (who’s constantly preaching about the technology’s superiority after pledging to make all future toons in 3-D).

    As for Lionsgate’s The Haunting in Connecticut, it’s overperforming. The horror flicks’ late shows really picked up Friday night with $9.5 million Friday and $8.7 million Saturday and an estimated $4.7 million Sunday for a $23M debut weekend and 2nd place. As expected, the Fox-distributed WWE’s … Read More »

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    Digital Changes For News Corp: Ex-AOL’er Jon Miller Becomes Digital Media CEO, FIM Prez Peter Levinsohn To “Big Studio Job”

    By | Friday March 27, 2009 @ 4:19pm PDT

    EXCLUSIVE & UPDATED: Sources tell me that outcast AOL CEO Jon Miller has agreed to join News Corp in a newly created role as CEO, Digital Media. He will report to Rupert Murdoch and be based in NYC and in charge of Internet and mobile businesses in a global role driving digital strategy across all News Corp business. This is a really big job, I’m told, because he will collaborate with the heads of the other News Corp businesses. Post-AOL, Miller became one of the founding partners at the VC firm Velocity. But his former employer Time Warner had a contractual hold on him until the end of this month. The digital media veteran served from 2002 to 2006 as Chairman/CEO of AOL. He was brought in to create a new business model so he restructured AOL’s core business lines, and focused the company on online advertising (including the 2004 acquisition of Previously, Jon was President/CEO of USA Information and Services, now IACI and Expedia (the company split in two in 2005), and, before that, Managing Director of Nickelodeon International, a unit of Viacom’s MTV Networks.

    Meanwhile, Peter Levinsohn, who has been President of News Corp’s Fox Interactive Media (FIM) since 2006 will return to the studio with a promotion “in a big job” under chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman. Levinsohn had been President of Digital Media for the Fox Entertainment Group and negotiated deals to spread Fox content across available digital platforms.

    And here’s the answer to a … Read More »

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    Rumor About ICM Agent Layoffs Untrue

    By | Friday March 27, 2009 @ 4:15pm PDT

    Two coordinators – inbetween assistants and agents — were let go. No one else.

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    We Interrupt Lunch For This ‘Bulletin’…

    By | Friday March 27, 2009 @ 12:18pm PDT

    Now urgent emails announcing “an all staff meeting” at William Morris are being sent around Hollywood by a rival tenpercentery. (Then again, I was assured by rival agents that the WMA-Endeavor merger would be announced a month ago.) This is hilarious, and why playing out agency negotiations in public is only fun for competitors. As one tells me, “We’re just waiting for the fallout with a big giant net.”

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    Lionsgate About To Do Big Relativity Deal: So Why Today’s Layoffs?

    By | Friday March 27, 2009 @ 11:25am PDT

    EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate’s Jon Feltheimer and Michael Burns were having a celebratory St Patrick’s Day dinner at the Chateau Marmont with Relativity Media’s Ryan Kavanaugh on March 17th. “The guys are on their second bottle of expensive wine and getting along like a house on fire,” my source who spotted them emailed me. For some time, I’d been tracking Relativity Media shopping a major film financing package described as a “mega first-look deal” to four studios: Universal, Paramount, Sony, and Lionsgate. Kavanaugh’s goal was to leverage all four studios against one another. But first Paramount found it “economically unattractive”. Universal (from whom Relativity recently bought Rogue Pictures and has an ongoing relationship with Kavanaugh’s company) said no. Sony was on the verge of saying yes earlier this month but then pulled out of the talks abruptly. (I heard from several insiders that it was an internal decision because Screen Gems’ Clint Culpepper “got word of it and freaked out about losing as many as one and possibly two slots in this deal that included as many as five guaranteed slots a year.”) That messed up Kavanaugh’s plan to leverage the big studio and the mini-major against one another. But in the end, Lionsgate took the deal. Only it hasn’t been announced yet.

    Now I know why. Because the bastards running Lionsgate want to get their 8% staff cuts out of the way first.

    Talk about having no shame: I can’t believe that Jon Feltheimer and Michael Burns could even contemplate another round of layoffs, this time axing another 45 jobs today … Read More »

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    Who’s Clued In …And Just Clueless

    By | Friday March 27, 2009 @ 5:52am PDT

    Geez. It took the Los Angeles Times four reporters to say absolutely nothing new today about the William Morris-Endeavor merger story. Not even one fresh development. This, despite the fact that the paper is more than 5 weeks late printing a word about the deal, and more than two weeks behind The New York Times. Patrick Goldstein’s brief LAT blog post doesn’t count: it was timed to the NYT story, and acknowledged I broke the news back on February 17th, yet still managed to say less than nothing. Both trades have weighed in superficially. But the most clueless blogging was by error-prone Sharon Waxman who wrote that talks between the two agencies weren’t even happening.

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    Studios Plan To Replace MPAA’s Glickman

    By | Friday March 27, 2009 @ 4:23am PDT

    Yes, it’s true. I’m told there’s a lot of dissatisfaction among Hollywood CEOs with MPAA head Dan Glickman. “The unhappiness focuses on the fact he’s a bad and boring speaker who has not repped the movie business well in Washington,” my source says. The moguls in particular blame him for not being able to keep those $246M in tax breaks for studios and filmmakers intact within the stimulus package. The thinking is that Glickman, a Democrat like Jack Valenti (although that’s where the comparison ends), got outmaneuvered by Republican lawmakers. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the MPAA looks for a GOP lobbyist.) I’m told the MPAA board, comprised of the major studios, only voted to extend Glickman’s contract for another 18 months. That’s enough time they figure to find a replacement. So Valenti had 38 years atop the organization, and Glickman will have 6 1/2. Meanwhile, the MPAA will finally release its full report on what a record-breaking year 2008 was for the movie biz — but only on Tuesday, following Glickman’s appearance at ShoWest, and then only online. Bad enough the MPAA doesn’t want Congress to know that the box office is going gangbusters domestically and internationally, but it doesn’t want the Hollywood guilds to realize this, either.

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    GREAT NEWS! California Film Commission Getting “Tons Of Calls” For New Tax Break

    By | Friday March 27, 2009 @ 3:35am PDT

    The California Film Commission tells AP it’s receiving tons of calls from independent producers, studios, TV shows and features and ”all very excited and very anxious to get started” filming in the state because of $500 million in new tax credits. Even though the first credits aren’t applicable until 2011, applications will be accepted July 1.

    The newly passed so-called Ugly Betty law is aimed at big movie productions with budgets up to $75 million, new TV series willing to relocate to California, and independent films with budgets up to $10 million. The credit, for up to 25% of production budgets spent in the state, is capped at $100 million a year. This, combined with the Los Angeles City Council’s new business tax breaks could persuade Hollywood to start filming close to home again. But, more likely, the studios and networks will pit states and their legislatures and their financial inducements against one other.

    Meanwhile, legislators just realized that Ugly Betty, the ABC comedy that moved from LA to NYC last year for that state’s tax breaks (now outta dough), won’t benefit if it returns to California. Only TV shows that have not shot any previous seasons in the state can qualify. Aides to Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, who drafted the law, tells AP this was an oversight. So now the California Film Commission is drafting regulations to be finished in May to correct it.

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    Big Media To Become Behemoth Media?

    By | Friday March 27, 2009 @ 3:22am PDT

    News reports say the FCC may have to revisit newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership restrictions because of the rotten financial condition of print newsosaurs. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has written to the Justice Department suggesting it take a broader view of competition when it considers possible media mergers. Big Media has gone to court to further relax these rules, while consumer groups oppose any more media deregulation because it’s putting too much control in too few hands.

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