Just what Hollywood needs — more anti-competitive behavior by Big Media. (Time to re-energize the dormant anti-trust division of the U.S. Justice Department.) I’ve confirmed what the Financial Times is reporting that Paramount is in advanced home entertainment merger talks with Sony Pictures and News Corp’s Fox studio. Prompted by the 20% DVD sales slump of the past year, Paramount initiated the merger discussions to save money. “The talks have focused on combining DVD production, distribution and back-office functions. One proposal would see Paramount begin using Sony’s DADC DVD production system rather than Technicolor’s system, which the studio currently uses,” the Ft reports. “Following the merger, Paramount and its partner would outwardly continue to operate as separate entities. The two studios would also keep their own marketing and sales operations.”
Paramount’s Adam Goodman Wields Ax: Production Workforce Cut By 31 People: NYC Literary & Paramount Vantage Closed
UPDATED: Don’t you just love it when, after making $400M in 5 days on a monster hit like Transformers 2, a studio starts firing people? That’s the situation at Paramount today as new leader Adam Goodman is wielding the layoff ax. This morning, he gutted New York’s literary and development offices. Today he’s been meeting with the studio’s creative group. Let go are head of Physical Production Georgia Kacandes, SVP of production Ben Cosgrove, EVP of production Dan Levine, SVP of visual effects Kim Locascio, head of casting Gail Levin, Paramount Vantage chief Guy Stodel, NYC literary rep Aimee Shieh, and NYC creative exec Mac Hawkins. This looks like Goodman cleaning house after John Lesher and Brad Weston were ousted: Kacandes, Stodel and Levin were brought in by Lesher, while Cosgrove and Levine were put in place by Weston. Goodman sent this memo around to employees explaining the changes in Paramount’s production department:
“As you know, last week we announced that we would be streamlining the leadership of the production organization. As an extension of that process and with the goal of managing the business for the long term, I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of the changes we’re making.
Today, we are reducing our production workforce by 31 people across some departments. These cuts represent a mix of job eliminations, layoffs and reorganizations in creative, casting and physical production, as well as the Paramount Vantage label. People whose positions are being impacted are being notified
So just days after dumping a pic with his one-time producing partner Steven Soderbergh, Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Amy Pascal has done a deal with George Clooney and his other producing partner Grant Heslov. My question is: why? Pascal swore off making movies just for the masturbatory sake of winning Oscar nominations after Sony went through hell on All The King’s Men and came up empty. “You need to look no further than Sony’s track record with A-list talent like Adam Sandler and Will Smith to answer your question of why,” a Sony exec tells me. “Amy, Michael, Matt and Doug will work closely with George and Grant to develop the kind of material we all believe makes sense for Sony and its multilabel distribution strategy. Sony has Columbia, Screen Gems and Classics allowing for different kinds of films for different audiences.” Oh, puh-leeze. Clooney can’t open a film as an actor unless he’s in an ensemble. And as a writer and director and producer, he’s not a moneymaker. (Looking at his films in development, I predict there’s not a $20 million opening weekend among them at a time when the average marketing cost of studio fare is $30M-$50M.) Believe me, if he were generating decent grosses, Warner Bros would have wanted to hang onto him. So Warner’s gain is Sony’s loss.
CULVER CITY, Calif., June 30,
Hollywood Democrat In U.S. Senate! Minnesota Court Affirms SNLer Franken’s Election Victory; Coleman Concedes
UPDATE: Norm Coleman has finally conceded, clearing the way for Al Franken to be certified as the election winner and take his U.S. Senate after 8 bitter months of legal battling over the Minnesota election. News reports say Dem leaders reserved spots for Franken on four committees which willoversee the health care overhaul and the Supreme Court nomination among other high-profile issues.
This decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court ends the recount process and affirms Al Franken’s obvious victory for the long-vacant U.S. Senate once occupied by Norm Coleman. News reports this morning say the court rejected Republican Coleman’s legal challenge and ordered that Democrat Franken receive the election certificate he needs to assume office. It’s unclear whether Coleman will continue the legal wrangling. With Franken finally seated, Democrats will have a big enough majority (with the Senate’s two like-minded Independents) to overcome Republican filibustering. As DHD readers know, I’ve been closely following the Al Franken vs Norm Coleman race because, while showbiz talents who are also Democrats routinely raise money and campaign for political candidates, they rarely run for public office themselves. For a long while, the Saturday Night Live alum and ex-Air America radio broadcaster trailed Coleman, only to pass him in votes during the recount.
I’m told that Monday’s haul was $14.8 million for Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen for a new $214.9M domestic cume. Internationally, it made $14M foreign Monday for a new $204M overseas cume. Worldwide, the total is now a whopping $419M. (Previous: ‘Transformers 2′ Opens To $390.4M Worldwide!)
Deadline Hollywood Daily’s transition from Village Voice Weekly to Mail.com Media Corp is about to begin. Fortunately, the Fourth Of July holiday lies ahead, so expect light posting — primarily box office with occasional news coverage. In the meantime, I’ll try to shake this virus I’ve had for the past 10 days. Thanks for your patience…
ROCK ‘EM, ‘SOCK ‘EM! ‘TRANSFORMERS 2′ OPENS TO $390.4M WORLDWIDE! That’s $200M Domestic + $190.3M International! But 5-Day Debut Can’t Beat ‘Dark Knight’
MONDAY PM: Paramount is announcing bigger actual numbers. “More theatres ran midnight shows than we had originally forecast. And a number of Imax locations that aren’t in multiplexes and are not in the reporting system did huge grosses,” an exec explains. So Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen opened to a 3-day weekend total is $108.9M and 5-day overall is $200M from 4,234 theaters. The breakdown is $32M for Sunday, $40.2M for Saturday, $36.7M Friday, $29M Thursday, and a record smashing $62M Wednesday. Included are 169 IMAX screens which contributed a giant $14.5M to the 5 day total. Internationally, the robot sequel made $166.1M with a cume of $190.3M including the early debuts in Japan and the UK. So that makes for $390.4M worldwide, a nice haul for the 100%-owned Viacom title. (There have been some erroneous reports that Steven Spielberg has a piece of the new pic, but I’m told he has no personal financial interest in it. He received an executive producer credit and commensurate fee, but the movie falls under the original acquisition deal when Paramount acquired DreamWorks SKG.) What’s amazing is that Transformers 2 even came as close as it did — No. 2 — to challenging the biggest ever 5-day opening record of $203.8M set by Warner Bros’ 2008 The Dark Knight since Christopher Nolan’s film received great reviews, and the critics hated Michael Bay’s popcorn pic. But TF2 proved the definition of a summer movie: loud, …
MORE OSCAR CHANGES: Thalberg, Hersholt, & Honorary Awards To Be Separate Event; Fewer Original Song Nominees; More Rules?
Anybody who knows the way that the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences rolls, knows that its board of governors does nothing without an ulterior motive. So the decision to make an entirely new event for those honorary Oscars is a way for AMPAS to get itself off the hook. After all, there’s a blacklog of Hollywood legends who campaign annually for the coveted Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. And those legends are all pals with the AMPAS bigwigs. So it gets more personally embarrassing with every passing year. In fact, the last time the Thalberg was awarded, it was back in 2000 when the recipient was Dino De Laurentiis. But now awarding the Thalberg, like Best Picture, will be devalued by the Academy’s new moves. It won’t be any more special than all the other black tie dinners held by Hollywood. Shameful.
Beverly Hills, CA (June 26, 2009) — The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has voted to establish a new annual event at which it will present its testimonial awards – the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Honorary Award. Honorees will be selected and announced in September and presented their awards at a celebratory dinner event in November. They will also be acknowledged at the year’s Academy Awards ceremony.
“For some years now, the Board has struggled to balance the desire to truly honor worthy individuals with the time limitations that
His publicist is denying crazy web rumors the Law & Order: Criminal Intent star died in New Zealand today. Sounds like the next plot (combined with the circumstances of David Carradine’s death) for the NYPD major crimes series. But I’ve since learned that, every coupla years, a rumor starts on the Internet about a celeb dying in New Zealand: Tom Hanks in 2006 and Tom Cruise in 2008. Egads.
The full Senate agreed by unanimous consent today to confirm Julius Genachowski as the next FCC chairman. Prez Obama’s classmate at Harvard Law School, he spent 8 years in senior positions at ex-Fox boss Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp.
He died at UCLA Hospital at age 50. There is going to be a huge media circus (see below), but not here at DHD. So go elsewhere on the web for tributes to his talent and details about his death. I will sort out the business side of his career and not dwell on his personal life. There’ll be a link when the story/s post.
LATE NIGHT WEEK 3: Dave Wins Eyeballs, Conan Wins Demos; But O’Brien Ratings Lowest Ever Recorded For ‘Tonight Show’
So it looks like there’ll be duelling press releases throughout the summer in the Conan O’Brien vs David Letterman battle for supremacy. But I’ve just learned that what wasn’t in either network’s PR sheets is that Conan is now garnering the smallest audience for The Tonight Show ever – well, at least since the advent of Nielsen people meters for the show in 1987. There’s good and bad news for both CBS and NBC. It’s clear right now that Dave’s Late Show is topping Conan’s Tonight Show in audience size. This is the first time Dave has done this to The Tonight Show in a full week of original broadcasts since 2005, and that has to worry NBC Universal Jeff Zucker, whose decision it was to rotate out Leno and rotate in Conan. Especially since this was probably the last week that the late night addicts were sampling O’Brien before settling in to their viewing routine. On the other hand, Conan is delivering better demographics — about 11 years younger in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49 category. But CBS noted that Dave was beginning to “narrow the gap” — as was Craig Ferguson over Jimmy Fallon, who’s also winning those coveted demos. Here are the network statements:
STUDIO CITY, Calif – June 25, 2009 – CBS’s LATE SHOW with DAVID LETTERMAN beat “The Tonight Show” in viewers for the first time in a full week of original broadcasts
WRITETHRU (UPDATED THROUGHOUT): It sounds as if Jeff Zucker wants to flip the switch at NBC and Universal, and scare the bejesus out of his Hollywood executives. Is it to divert attention from his own monstrous failure as their chairman?
I’ve learned he’s telling Hollywood privately that he’s planning to make moves at Universal, maybe before mid-July.
Zucker also told Hollywood privately yesterday that ”there are changes and they’ll be imminent” at NBC. He implied that they involve Ben Silverman, whose job has transitioned to that of a “glorified ad salesman”. (See below).
This coincides with Silverman’s own private conversations, as recently as this week, playing coy and not denying rumors that he’s going to leave NBC and run Britain’s ITV. Those first surfaced around May 10th when the British press pointed to him as the “ideal” candidate. And they were denied to me back then by people around Ben. But now the rumors are back and much more intense, and those same people around Silverman are telling me a different story this time. “The only question is whether they can pay him enough money,” an NBC insider told me about ITV. “He mentioned to me a while ago that it’s real. Which I took to mean they’d contacted him and he was considering it. But he said, ‘They’d have to pay me a lot of money.’”
Tonight, NBC said in response to the ITV rumors that “Ben is under contract to NBC”. (Despite the fact that there has been no formal deal announced to renew Silverman’s contract, a …
The website’s cability to receive comments went down at 10:30 AM. The problem has been fixed. Please re-send. (And don’t blame the new guys. The transition doesn’t occur until sometime in July…) Also, after being ill, and then reporting DHD news, I’m not back to normal operation of the site. So please cut DHD some slack.
STUNNER! STUDIO PRESSURE SUCCESSFUL: Academy To Now Allow 10 Oscar Nominees In Best Picture Category (Worst Idea Ever)
This hugely surprising and dramatic change for the 82nd Academy Awards is the direct result of intense lobbying by the major studios of the “Acadummy” Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. And outgoing president Sid Ganis, himself a former Sony/Columbia top executive, was especially vulnerable to the studio pressure because of his personality penchant for kowtowing to power and influence. I’ve learned he personally helped the studios impose their agenda on what is supposed to be the independent AMPAS board (but really isn’t). Let’s face it: this is great development for the studios who can now make their more successful releases even bigger cash cows with an Oscar nomination. But this is a terrible idea. It is nothing short of nonsensical for such an extreme departure from the Academy Awards’ recent past to be taking place. So what if, from 1932 to 1943, the Academy members nominated 10 films for Best Picture? (Embarrassing how AMPAS trotted out all those posters from 1939 to make their point without acknowledging that the major studios started a new picture once or twice a week in their heyday. Bette Davis alone starred in 4 to 6 pictures a year: that’s why Academy members could nominate 10 great movies for Best Picture.) That was then and this is now. And today it devalues the rarity of an Oscar nomination and belittles the judging process. (The Academy Awards now resembles the Golden Globes…) It’s no secret that …
Late today, Village Voice Media issued a very classy news release announcing that my Deadline Hollywood Daily website was leaving to join MMC. I’m so sad. I want to thank everyone at VVM for DHD’s past 3+ years: COO Jim Larkin and CEO Michael Lacey were great partners and great guys. Their support, including Internet boss Bill Jensen’s, contributed substantially to my website’s success. VVM has asked me to continue my print column for LA Weekly, where I work with Deputy Editor Jill Stewart who has been a good friend and expert editor. Here’s the news release:
PHOENIX, AZ - (June 23, 2009) – Village Voice Media, publisher of 15 alternative weekly papers in major metro areas throughout the U.S., today announced that Nikki Finke’s Deadline Hollywood Daily blog, which has been anchored out of Village Voice Media’s (VVM) LAWeekly.com for close to three years, is leaving the company for Mail.com Media Corporation.
“We’ve had a great run with Nikki and we wish her every success in the future,” Village Voice Media CEO Jim Larkin said. “She’s a top-notch and unerringly accurate reporter with great sources. We will miss her and are disappointed.”
“We are actively searching to fill the void in our daily movie coverage, albeit with a less trade and more populist bent — because we know, as we have known for three years of working with her, that no one can touch Nikki,” added Bill Jensen, director of new media of Village Voice Media. “But as with all of our markets, we
Know this: I did not sell out. I really meant it when I said that DeadlineHollywood Daily.com will continue to be an independent editorial voice – and I would retain complete control over everything reported on the website — so that DHD’s credibility with its readers could remain intact. Now, with this new company’s advanced infrastructure and capable team, I can bring DHD to the next level starting next month. You have been asking for that: trust me, your frustrations have been my frustrations. The site will become bicoastal and debut a New York City-based senior journalist soon. I also expect DHD’s design to be tweaked but not significantly altered. Your suggestions will be very helpful. And, as always, I am very grateful for your news tips. Posting will return to normal on Wednesday.