Listen to what Ben says about Tom Rothman. Oy vey! But the mogul — surprisingly — took it well. I hear Stiller even sent over T-shirts with Red Hour’s new Fox logo (I don’t want to spoil the punchline) to senior people on the lot. Updates my previous, Ben Stiller Moving Red Hour From DreamWorks To 20th Century Fox
Los Angeles – Internet writers employed at CBS studios in the L.A. area have unanimously voted to be represented by the Writers Guild of America, West. The vote was conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.
“This is good news for new media writers. Congratulations and welcome to the Writers Guild,” said WGAW President Patric M. Verrone. “As more and more news, sports, and promotional content is distributed on the Internet, it is essential that its writers win respect for their work and all the benefits of a WGA contract.”
WGAW Union Representative Lynda Whittaker and WGAW Organizer Laura Watson worked closely with WGAW shop stewards – Kathy Kiernan, Scott Gutman, and Brett Galde – throughout the campaign. The next step for the 15 writers is contract negotiations. “We hope to reach a fair deal with CBS as soon as possible,” said Whittaker.
”I know in this ever-changing world it’s important to be heard … and it might be cliche, but there is strength in numbers. I’m not always sure the meek shall inherit the Earth, but I know the weak don’t have a chance. I applaud the Guild for making us all stronger,” said CBS web writer Alan Carter.
‘Basterds’ Comes On Tracking Very Strong; Only ‘G.I. Joe’ Showing More Male Interest; But Quentin’s Re-Cut Still Cannes-Length…
Quentin’s already much maligned Weinstein Company/Universal pic is getting 50s in “‘definite interest” from men. And women are stronger on Inglorious Basterds than on District 9, even though the Sony pic opens a week earlier. (That movie’s “looking really good, too,” a rival studio exec tells me. “It’s gotten some movement over the last few days.”) The only competing movie tracking higher with young guys right now is G.I. Joe. Yes, that much maligned Paramount pic coming out August 7th. It is 86 overall, with males in the 90s (just to give you a relative comparison). For weeks, Paramount’s claims that the movie works have fallen on deaf ears. But now a rival studio even tells me, “Paramount is doing a good job ignoring the sniping and snarking. It’s come on tracking really strong. It’s looking to open at $50M-$60M — which is a great result.”
Now for the bad news: Since most marketing say “unaided awareness” is a more important data point (that’s when you tell the pollster that you are aware of a certain film coming out without being given the title), Basterds‘ aided awareness is very low (“1″ overall, with a “2″ for males). The unaided awareness numbers for District 9 are good but not great (“4″ overall, with “7″ for younger males, and “5″ for older males).
Meanwhile, I’ve confirmed that Inglorious Basterds, to be released August 21st, is still the same length it was when it screened at the …
(This video was auto-playing, so I deleted it last night. Now it’s not annoying.)
When you’re the 3rd highest paid CEO in Corporate America, Wall Street holds you to a different standard. So after Bob Iger announced that Disney’s 3rd-quarter profit had slid 26%, shares of the stock moved sharply lower — as much as -3.5% — when the market opened this morning. The main culprit was the same for the Mouse House as for every other Big Media company – poor advertising sales at the broadcast and cable networks and O&O’s, and lousy DVD sales, as well as a slump in bookings at theme parks and resorts. News reports say J.P. Morgan downgraded Disney to underweight (from neutral) this morning. Disney has always been one of those stocks that grandparents buy for grandkids, so the stock price is felt strongly by consumers saving, say, for their kids’ college education. Revenue at Disney’s filmed entertainment division fell 12% for an operating loss of $12M. Sales of current DVD titles like National Treasure 2 and Enchanted, and older catalog DVD titles, were down in the quarter. Iger said Thursday that one way to combat decreasing DVD sales and the rising popularity of rentals is to concentrate on making movies that are more convenient to own than to rent, especially Pixar toons. Still there was some glimmer of good news: CFO Tom Staggs said ad sales ”appear to have stabilized” at Disney’s broadcast and cable television networks, echoing remarks from Viacom and Time Warner. But Staggs predicted lower upfront sales at ABC than in recent …
Two things you should know from Anglo-Dutch publisher Reed Elsevier’s bombshell announcement is this: Tad Smith wasn’t fired. He actually resigned in July because he has another job starting September 1st. It was merely announced Thursday because so much other news was being announced, too. Like disastrous earnings, and a distress sale of its U.S. media. Tad stays through August 31st and then heads to a big consumer media organization. They’re lucky to get him. (He once tried to buy the New York Observer from Arthur Carter. He likes print that much.)
And the other is that folks at Broadcasting & Cable, MultiChannel News, and many other of the 80 or so trades controlled by Reed Business Information-US now on the auction block (except Variety) never saw it coming. In fact, so certain of survival were they that I received this email late Tuesday night from an insider: “Thursday is the Reed Elsevier parent company earnings report… Reports out of England say Reed won’t sell the US businesses (RBI) after all…” I also heard from a source that B&C thought Reed considered it “a sign of hope” for moving so much of its revenue off of print to event and digital businesses. While competitors like TV Week vanished into the night. (Have you seen their website lately? It’s like a bad tabloid wannabe. One day, 5 headlines consisted of different sex stories.)
So, to sum up, Reed Elsevier CEO Ian Smith who took over …
Arthur’s work is his own and does not necessarily reflect my views. Creative license. (And to the dimwits who don’t appreciate Arthur’s graphic commentary: this is based on Francisco de Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son.)
There’s a lot happening behind the scenes at Deadline Hollywood Daily to bring you a better, bigger, and (as usual) ballsy news and analysis website. But it’s also going to take time away from my 24/7 reporting for a few weeks. There already have been some missed stories. And some hours with no posts. And a lot of technical woes. But I’ve given myself permission occasionally to go AWOL and deal with the nuts and bolts behind the website during August — in order to unveil the new DHD after Labor Day weekend. Thanks for your patience.
Judd Apatow will direct those next 3 films, so Universal will now be his helming home. Obviously, this means the studio has great faith in his pic Funny People opening this weekend which already has a Rotten Tomatoes positive review score of 70+%. Although there’ve been media doubts about the film’s 2-hour, 25-minute length and dramedy subject matter, weekend estimates now range from Universal’s $25M (to lower expectations), to rival studios’ high $30sM and even $40M. The tracking is showing big and broad 4-quadrant appeal, with the most interest coming from young men and even older females. But Universal keeps comparing this R-rated pic to a Jim Brooks-type direction, and his more successful movies only opened in the high teens but then enjoyed a huge multiple. Given the studio’s trouble at the box office this summer, Funny People must make at least $100M domestic. Its cost is estimated at $70M.
Apatow has only helmed films at Universal after making his directorial debut in 2005 with the breakout comedy hit starring Steve Carell and Catherine Keener, The 40-Year Old Virgin. The film made over $177 million worldwide and was largely credited for setting a new standard in raunchy but heartfelt adult comedies that were smart and cutting-edge. In 2007, Apatow directed Knocked Up for Universal, a breakout laugher hit starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann that made over $219 million worldwide. (Interestingly, Funny People is not that much …
Reuters is reporting today from Havana that the city’s Malecon seaside avenue is hosting Hollywood stars like Benicio del Toro, Bill Murray, Robert Duvall and James Caan who all arrived in Cuba on Wednesday. Del Toro is in town to receive an award today from Cuban artists and intellectuals for his portrayal of Che Guevara in the biopic Che directed by Soderbergh. The other three are said to be working on a “research project”, a spokesman told the news service. Others in the movie industry are accompanying the group, including some unnamed producers. (Who are you?) In the past, filmmakers like Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, Kevin Costner, Robert Redford, Sydney Pollack, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson have been excoriated for visiting Cuba despite the long-standing U.S. trade embargo and ban on American visitors to the Communist country. But now a “recast” of U.S.-Cuban relations has begun under the Obama adminstration, and cultural exchanges are being encouraged after years of being unwelcome during the Dubya administration. The celebs’ spokesman said the current Hollywood group visiting Havana is traveling under a license granted by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Well, well, well… Summit Entertainment thought it could get one over on the Twilight Saga fans. After all, one red-headed actress is interchangeable with another, right? But the studio’s gambit failed when Rachelle Lefevre who was recast after starring in the franchise’s first two films enlisted fan support against Summit when the studio hired Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron Howard’s daughter) in the role. Ouch! (See LeFevre’s statement and Summit’s response below.) Here’s the problem: once a studio lets the fans into the filmmaking process, it’s impossible to keep them out. And that’s been the situation with Summit and its lucrative Twilight Saga franchise from the start. The studio courted the Twilight fans ever since Summit saw 1,500 Twilighters lined to meet Stephenie Meyer at a book-signing in Pasadena. It’s why Summit made the vampire romance into a movie when Paramount passed. It’s why the first film in what was to become the studio’s uber-valuable franchise succeeded. But then things got hinky. When I broke the news that director Catherine Hardwicke was being replaced on the sequel New Moon, fans were in an uproar. Eventually, they calmed down — but only because new pick Chris Weitz began talking directly to the Twilighters. And kept talking, ad nauseum. Very few directors do that. Either they’re too arrogant to care, or they don’t want pander (which it is). But now …
WME this week put in place that new pay schedule for WME assistants I told you was coming. The New York office’s was announced first, followed by the Beverly Hills headquarters. “Can you believe they decided to break the news to us in a meeting disguised to discuss our new health insurance plans?” one BH source tells me. “And, of course, nothing in writing… Just a scale told to us nonchalantly.” The new agency had to ”recalculate” the pay for WMA assistants (about $13.50 an hour) to be more on par with Endeavor assistants (about $9.50 an hour). Manwhile, Endeavorites were earning more overtime tham WMAers.
So here’s what begins August 1st:
Under 1 year – $11/hour
1 – 2 years – $12/hr
2 – 3 years $13/hr
Over 3 years – $14/hr
The pay increases $1/hr for every year over 3 that the assistant is employed.
Any raises from the end-of-year reviews have been taken off the table.
Official hours are from 9-7 PM and a 50-hour work week is expected.
There are faint rumblings of a walk-out, especially because the assistants tell me that they are taking on much more work. Needless to say, the famous UTA joblist is making the rounds especially among the majority of William Morris assistants who are taking a huge pay cut — on average 20% to 35%! — and sense that the ladder of opportunity for them …
Hey, Hollywood, don’t get suckered by this week’s earnings reports of doom and gloom at the Big Media companies. In fact, the entertainment sides of some of these companies are doing — dare I say it — better. Now why this isn’t translating into more projects, and more jobs, is the fault of all the newly Nervous Nellies (who used to be Macho Moguls) atop the entertainment units. But there are definitely green shoots in the earnings reports.
Take Time Warner, where profits slid 34%. But the cable and Pay TV networks’ revenue rose by 5%, thanks to Turner Broadcasting and HBO (where subscription revenue rose 8%). Sure, publishing and AOL still stink. (And TW topper Jeff Bewkes reminded analysts that AOL will be spun off to shareholders before the end of 2009.) True, the film unit revenue declined 9% because of the usual “soft DVD sales” mantra. But film profit led by The Hangover surged 52% because of lower overhead and marketing costs.
However, it’s ridiculous that Bewkes has restarted Time Warner’s stock buyback program this quarter when now is exactly the moment Time Warner should be aggressively pursuing mergers and acquisitions. After all, so many mediacentric stock plays will never be this cheap. Bewkes has indicated before he wants to kick the tires of lots of companies. That’s how he should spend every penny of that Time Warner Cable bankroll.
I’m told actress Rachelle Lefevre, who played “Victoria” in the first two films, will be replaced by well known actress who’s also a redhead, Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron Howard’s daughter) in the upcoming ECLIPSE, the 3rd film in the Twilight Saga franchise. Lefevre has scheduling conflicts after playing the part in the first two films. I hear Summit Entertainment is bracing for the rabid Twilight fans to bite back because of the change. (They don’t want anything to change in their Twilight Zone.)
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Yahoo and Microsoft “are moving toward sealing a search partnership, say people familiar with the matter — a deal that ends a protracted dance and unites the pair against Google. Microsoft, which had made a failed $47.5 billion takeover bid for Yahoo, appears to have finally won a piece of what it wanted from the Internet player — the volumes of search queries that run through Yahoo’s engine. In exchange, Yahoo is getting an opportunity to expand its own position in the market by remaining a force in search-advertising sales. The agreement, which could be reached as soon as Wednesday but could be delayed, involves Yahoo agreeing to use Microsoft’s Bing search engine on its own sites, these people say.” (Subscription Only)
Former William Morris agent David Lonner isn’t just finalizing his deal to become an independent manager. I’m told he and Atlas Entertainment founder and workaholic film producer Chuck Roven (The Dark Knight, Get Smart) want to join up in a talent management company together. Roven has always kept his hand in the management biz after starting two incredibly successful management companies — for musicians with 3rd Rail’s Bob Cavallo that was bigtime for 10 years, and for motion picture talent with Jimmy Miller that sequed into Mosaic for another decade. “Look, Chuck is a great producer and smart businessman and he adds a lot of value to David,” a source tells me. There’s no formal deal set, but I hear both parties want to get this venture up and running in the fall. For the past 3 1/2 months since I first reported that Lonner wouldn’t make the merge with WME, he’s been talking to every significant management biz — 360, 3 Arts, Brillstein, etc. But I hear Roven called him and said, “Look, I’ll tell you what I told Bob Cavallo way back when: you represent great talent, and I want to bet on you.” (Amazing to me that Variety left this info out of its Lonner story Monday. The trade didn’t know…)
The USC Gould School of Law just made this announcement:
Long-time Warner Bros. Entertainment executive John Schulman has been recruited by the USC Gould School of Law to head its new Entertainment Law Program.
Schulman, who retired from Warner Bros. last year after serving as executive vice president and general counsel for 25 years, joins USC Law on Aug. 1.
“I’ve always been interested in education and have lectured at USC, Southwestern, Berkeley and UCLA. This seemed like a great fit for me,” said Schulman.
As executive director, Schulman will launch the program in fall 2010 for J.D. students interested in specializing in entertainment law. Courses will include entertainment law, plus classes taken from the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the Marshall School of Business.
“There is no more accomplished lawyer in the entertainment industry than John Schulman,” said Dean Robert K. Rasmussen. “USC Law is fortunate to have John take the leadership in developing and enhancing our entertainment law program. I am confident that with John’s vision, we will have a program that is second to none.”
Describing the Entertainment Law program, Schulman said: “This is part of my next adventure. I am very excited about joining USC Law and creating one of the nation’s best entertainment law programs.”
Schulman is the ideal director of the Entertainment Law Program, said Stanley Gold, who serves on USC Law’s Board of Councilors and is a USC trustee. “He is experienced with respect to everything that is going on in the industry. USC is very lucky
WRAPUP: NBC Universal’s Putz Finally Jumps While Being Pushed; The Ben Silverman Experiment Ends, Pt 9
Here’s the e-mail that Ben Silverman sent to Hollywood pals announcing his exit from NBC Universal and landing at Barry Diller’s IAC: “Its [sic] go time brother!!!!!!! Let’s rock it out!!!!!” Is there any wonder that everyone at his old workplace collectively thought, Don’t let the door hit you on the way out?
Yes, on July 27, Silverman did announce a new company, with IAC, which will produce content for distribution across a variety of platforms around the world. “This will be the industry’s first global platform that connects advertisers, distributors and content creators early on in the development process, enabling advertisers to be a partner in campaigns and content creation,” the press release hype insisted. “NBC Universal will continue to have a relationship with Mr. Silverman via the new venture through platform partnerships and a potential investment in the enterprise. IAC will provide initial capital to the venture.”
But way more amusing was how Silverman’s now ex-boss, Jeff Zucker, couldn’t find one positive, specific thing to say about Ben in the official NBCU news release that same morning, beyond, “Ben brought us tremendous new thinking in this changing media age.”
Yet Silverman leaves behind a record of abject failure, and some really talented NBCU executives were let go in a vainglorious attempt to prop up this dumb ass.
All that time his co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios Marc Graboff had to play …