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SAG National Board Votes To “Seek Engagement” With AFTRA To Bargain Jointly On Next TV/Theatrical Contract

By | Sunday January 31, 2010 @ 9:56pm PST

The SAG National Board of Directors met via videoconference in Los Angeles and New York:

SAGLos Angeles, (January 31, 2010) – Screen Actors Guild National Board of Directors voted today to seek engagement with AFTRA in a joint bargaining agreement for negotiation of the Television/Theatrical Contract. Approved 82 to 18 percent, the resolution states:

“It was moved and seconded that in light of SAG’s historically productive negotiating partnership with AFTRA, the SAG National Board of Directors directs President Ken Howard and National Executive Director David White to seek engagement with AFTRA in a joint bargaining agreement for negotiation of the Television/Theatrical Contract, under the terms of Phase One, modeled on the agreement used successfully in the 2009 Commercials Contract negotiations. President Howard and NED White shall bring a recommendation to the National Board at the earliest opportunity.”

Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard said, “I am very pleased with the vote and thank the Board for their leadership and foresight on this important issue. I so appreciate the Board’s cooperative spirit in this discussion and throughout the day, and feel confident that our Guild is moving in the right direction.”

In other actions, the National Board voted unanimously to create a National Performance Capture Committee to address the unique concerns and experiences of members who render performances that are recorded using “performance capture” technology across all media, and to advise the Guild on all matters pertaining to work in this rapidly growing area.

The board also approved

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Sony Classics Buys ‘Winter In Wartime’

By | Sunday January 31, 2010 @ 8:43pm PST

NEW YORK, NY (January 31, 2010) – Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all US rights to the Dutch film, WINTER IN WARTIME from High Point Films, the theatrical division of Carey Fitzgerald’s London based High Point Media Group. The film is directed by Martin Koolhoven (SCHNITZEL PARADISE) and is produced by Els Vandevorst (co-produced Lars Von Trier’s MANDERLAY and DOGVILLE), and San Fu Maltha (BLACK BOOK). Hugely successful in the Netherlands, the critically acclaimed WINTER IN WARTIME is the Dutch entry for the 2010 Academy Awards and is on the Best Foreign Language Film shortlist. “WINTER IN WARTIME, beautifully realized by director Martin Koolhoven, takes a fresh look at Dutch resistance from the perspective of a 13 year old child. This film is the kind of emotionally engaging drama that has consistently achieved success with American audiences,” said Sony Pictures Classics.

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Salma Hayek Drops Out Of Rock Actioner

By | Sunday January 31, 2010 @ 8:31pm PST
Mike Fleming

The CBS Films/Sony Pictures drama Faster didn’t start production quick enough to keep Salma Hayek who dropped out a week before shooting begins February 8th. Filmmakers will move fast to recast for the George Tillman Jr.-directed script from Tony and Joe Gayton that puts Dwayne Johnson back into action mode. Robert Teitel is producing with Castle Rock’s Martin Shafer and Liz Glotzer.

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Indie Realities For Sundance Fest Films

By | Sunday January 31, 2010 @ 5:15pm PST
Mike Fleming

sundance 2010The Sundance trophies have been handed out. The film crowd has left Park City to the skiers. So what kind of market was it? Better than expected, even if most of the deals were small ones. And compared to the zero that was Toronto, a veritable avalanche of very low 7-figure sales took place in Park City, with more expected in coming weeks. Some of the films have breakout potential, like The Kids Are All Right and the documentary Catfish. Others made great festival viewing, but questionable box office offerings. Buyers said they’d be surprised if any replicated the critical or financial success of last year’s Precious.

wintersbone_jThe only semi-sexy deal out of Toronto was A Single Man, which has grossed just $5.2 million since The Weinstein Co released it December 11th. This despite an engrossing story, strong acting, and gorgeous direction by Tom Ford, whose status as an iconic fashion designer helped sell the film. This 2010 Sundance offerings felt similarly small. Despite the manic deal-chasing by journalists like me, many of these films will likely play in art houses in limited release to elite audiences.

This was billed as the “new” Sundance festival under freshly installed director John Cooper. Even founder Robert Redford said the aim was to get back to indie basics. Buyers could have said the same. So many studio specialty divisions (aka faux indies) like Paramount Vantage, Miramax, Warner … Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: Zachary Quinto (aka Spock & Sylar) Tunes Up For Spielberg’s Gershwin

By | Sunday January 31, 2010 @ 4:37pm PST
Mike Fleming

quintoSince he dropped out of Harvey, Steven Spielberg’s first project under the reconstituted DreamWorks has been a subject of much speculation. Now I hear who’s at the center of the director’s biopic of George Gershwin, which DreamWorks acquired last fall. It’s Zachary Quinto — Sylar in the NBC drama-fantasy Heroes, and Spock in the JJ Abrams-directed megapic Star Trek. Quinto will play the famed composer and pianist, who with brother Ira was responsible for more than a dozen Broadway shows before dying at 38. DreamWorks is even supplying accent and dialogue coaches for Quinto, and shooting could begin as soon as April. Doug Wright wrote the script, and Marc Platt and singer/pianist Michael Feinstein are producing. A DreamWorks insider says this is one of 3 projects Spielberg is looking at for his next piccause he’s anxious to get back to work. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an announcement later this week.

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H’wood Signings, Hirings, Firings, Pt 2

By | Sunday January 31, 2010 @ 2:34pm PST

UPDATES Hollywood Signings & Hirings & Firings

WME talent agent Michael Cooper is jumping to CAA, bringing with him clients Josh Brolin, Charlie Hunnam, and a few others. Cooper was considered William Morris chief Jim Wiatt’s go-to guy because he used to be an assistant on the CEO’s desk. At one point, Cooper was tipped to co-head the Morris talent department. But he lost clout at WME when Wiatt was exited before the Endeavor merger. The move to CAA by Cooper, who is the veteran HBO & DreamWorks exec Bob Cooper’s son, also reunites a bit of a boys club from the old Morris (Todd Feldman, Joel Lubin).

WME and manager Robert Stein have been dropped by Mark Ruffalo. It happened a month ago, but for some reason it hasn’t registered with Gaby Morgerman. Ruffalo for now is parked with his lawyer. Yesterday, his Sympathy For Delicious film won Sundance’s Special Jury Prize and marks his directing debut.

Paradigm and agent Andrew Rogers have parted company. He’s taking Michael Cera and a few other clients with him. “Michael’s contract was up and he has other plans,” a source tells me.

ICM has signed Michael Keaton, who recently completed production on The Other Guys; Oscar-winner Alan Arkin who recently wrapped Due Date; David Scearce, who is vying for an Independent Spirit Award for A Single Man which he co-wrote; Garry Shandling, best known for his two iconic series, It’s Garry Shandling’s Show and The Larry Sanders Show; and Aasif Mandvi, a writer and on-air correspondent for The Daily Show who’s in M. Night Shymalan’s The Read More »

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#1 ‘Avatar’ Rides Past $2 Billion Worldwide And Reigns For 7th Straight Weekend; ‘Edge Of Darkness’ No Bright Spot For Mel; ‘When In Rome’ Gets Lost At Box Office

By | Sunday January 31, 2010 @ 12:30pm PST


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avatar bigger posterSATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM: Now that 20th Century Fox’s Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time (not adjusted for inflation or higher 3D ticket prices), it passed the $2 billion mark in worldwide grosses and remained No. 1 at the weekend box office for the 7th straight week. Today, after just 45 days of release, James Cameron’s sci-fi epic reached $2.039 billion. The pic’s runaway success has answered all its critics, so there’s not much more to say except, Wow! It made $7.5M Friday from 3,074 plays and $14M Saturday for another $30M weekend — an amazing -14% hold despite a declining theater count. That’s a new $594.2M domestic cume. The pic should pass Titanic‘s record of $600.8M this week. 

Here’s the run-down of IMAX’s 5th weekend of Avatar. The giant screen juggernaut generated another $6.0 mil domestically this weekend (-10%) on 179 screens; this represents approx 21% of the pictures overall domestic take. Hollywood.com reports IMAX’s domestic cume for Avatar stands at $97M and will pass $100M this week. Overseas, IMAX generated $4.3M (-3%) on 83 screens. As of Sunday night, the IMAX international cume will be $56M. This puts the global total as of tonight at $153M. The only remaining questions are: Will Avatar make it 8 weeks in a row as #1? And will it win the Best Picture Oscar? Stay tuned.

Way more questions surrounded the Warner Bros-distributed Edge Of DarknessRead More »

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First Female Film Director Wins DGA: Award To ‘Hurt Locker’s Kathryn Bigelow; Female TV Helmer Wins For ‘Mad Men’

By | Saturday January 30, 2010 @ 11:57pm PST

bigelowWomen ruled at the DGA tonight for top honors in both film and TV drama direction. The DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film has traditionally been one of the Industry’s most accurate barometers for the Best Director Academy Award. Only 6 times since the DGA Awards began in 1948 has the Feature Film winner not gone on to win the Oscar. But tonight’s honor for The Hurt Locker‘s helmer Kathryn Bigelow is the first DGA win not just for her but the first for any female film director. dgaHer team on the 2009 Summit Entertainment consisted of Unit Production Manager Tony Mark, First Assistant Director David Ticotin, and First Assistant Director (Canadian Unit) Lee Cleary. Bigelow beat out Precious‘ Lee Daniels, Up In The Air‘s Jason Reitman, Inglourious Basterds‘ Quentin Tarantino, and, most surprising of all, her ex, Avatar‘s James Cameron. Bigelow, who  was only the 7th female to be nominated for the DGA award, was quoted as saying, “This is the most incredible moment of my life.”

Norman Jewison reeceived the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award, while Disney’s Bob Iger and Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer were given the 2010 Honorary Life Membership Awards.

Other DGA winners were:

Documentary: Louie Psihoyos for The Cove (Oceanic Preservation Society
and Roadside Attractions)

TV drama series: Lesli Linka Glatter for “Guy Walks Into An Advertising Agency” episode of Mad Men (AMC). Directorial Team: Unit Production Manager Dwayne Shattuck, First Assistant … Read More »

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R.I.P. Karen Schmeer

By | Saturday January 30, 2010 @ 10:48pm PST

Emails are pouring in about the “untimely, senseless, and tragic” passing of Karen Schmeer, a respected member of the American Cinema Editors, at age 39. She was a gifted editor of documentaries who, according to news reports, was run down by robbers during their getaway as she was crossing a street in New York City. Best known for helping craft Errol Morris’ later films (The Fog Of War, Mr. Death, Fast, Cheap & Out Of Control, and Standard Operating Procedure) she won last year’s Sundance award for editing Greg Barker’s documentary, Sergio. “I had the honor to moderate a panel on documentary editing at the A.C.E. EditFest last summer in NY, and Karen was a member,” one source wrote in. “She was humble and soft spoken while her work spoke volumes. She surely understood the art of storytelling as a documentary editor.”

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Sundance Film Festival Award Winners

By | Saturday January 30, 2010 @ 7:34pm PST
Mike Fleming

sundance 2010Here are the complete list of 2010 winners:
(continuously updated):

The Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic Film went to Winter’s Bone, the Debra Granik-directed drama set deep in the Ozark Mountains, where a teenage girl heads out to find her crystal meth-making father, who has gone missing. The film was acquired earlier this evening by Roadside Attractions.

The Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary was awarded to Restrepo, in which conflict journalists Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington spent a year with the men of the 173rd Airborne’s Second Platoon in the Al Qaeda stronghold of the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan. The documentary was a hot ticket through the festival. Junger’s writing was the basis for The Perfect Storm. The title comes from Private First Class Juan Restrepo, who was slain, and whose comrades erected an outpost in his honor. National Geographic has broadcast rights to the docu.

The Best Director Prize for U.S. Dramatic Film went to Eric Mendelsohn for 3 Backyards, the drama that stars Edie Falco and Elias Koteas about three life-altering adventures that unfold on a seemingly ordinary day in the suburbs. The director hailed fest creator Robert Redford, saying he does what other governments do for film, and that “he can do no wrong”.

The Documentary Directing Award went to Leon Gast, for Smash His Camera, a well received documentary on paparazzi pioneer Ron Galella, who was sued by Jackie O for his invasive work, and had his jaw broken by Marlon Brando. Gast previously directed the boxing docu When We Were Kings.

The Dramatic Grand Jury Prize in world cinema went to David Michod’s Animal Kingdom.

The documentary The Oath won the Best Cinematography Award, accepted by DP Kirsten Johnson. The Laura Poitras-directed film is about two brothers in law who were associated with Al Qaeda.

The Cinematography Award for Drama went to Obselidia, directed by Diane Bell Several of those accepting awards hailed the work of Karen Schmeer, who was killed yesterday in a hit and run accident.

The U.S. Documentary Editing Award went to Penelope Falk.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award went to Winter’s Bone, scripted by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini.

The Audience Award for U.S. Documentary went to the Davis Guggenheim-directed Waiting for Superman.

The Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic Film went to the Josh Radnor-directed happythankyoumoreplease, a film that hasn’t yet received a domestic distribution deal, but which was well-liked by buyers and is expected sell.

The Special Jury Prize for Documentary went to the Josh Fox-directed GasLand, an expose on “fracking,” a method of extracting natural gas from the ground that is wreaking havoc on the environment.

A Special Jury Prize also was awarded Sympathy for Delicious, a film which marked the directing debut of Mark Ruffalo, who said he and his cohorts “have gotten our asses handed to us by reviewers, and yet we’re still here.” Read More »

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Sony Sells Oprah’s Nate To NBC O&Os

By | Saturday January 30, 2010 @ 4:31pm PST

Oprah and Nate Berkus photoI reported months ago that Sony Television, which has had considerable success hawking the syndicated talk show starring Oprah discovery Dr. Oz, was going to pimp still another Harpo discovery, Chicago designer and decorator Nate Berkus. Well, now it’s sold. A deal was concluded late last night between Sony TV and NBC Universal that will put the The Nate Berkus Show on NBC O&O’s [owned and operated] TV stations in major markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, San Diego, Miami and Hartford. nbc universalIt’s a comfortable base for the new syndicated strip series, and similar to the way that the ABC O&O’s form the backbone for Oprah’s own syndicated program. It’s also something of a consolation prize for Sony TV which was desperate to replace CBS as the syndicator of The Oprah Winfrey Show for its next go-round in the marketplace. Sony_pictures_logo2You see, Sony’s co-production and distribution of the Dr. Oz Show was considered a dress rehearsal for the daytime diva. Alas, I broke the news that Oprah would announce she was stopping her syndicated show in 2011 to devote herself to OWN, the long-delayed Oprah Winfrey Network which is replacing Discovery Health on cable. So Sony TV got screwed. Nevertheless, Berkus may have an easier time in syndication because at … Read More »

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When Twihards Attack At Sundance…

By | Saturday January 30, 2010 @ 4:03pm PST
Mike Fleming

sundance 2010This is hilarious. I’ve learned that a slew of Kristen Stewart fans somehow got the personal e-mails of Sundance buyers who were circling her Jake Scott-directed film Welcome To The Rileys. In their avalanche of messages, twitters and texts, the Twihards are imploring the execs to buy and release the film starring the Twilight Saga heroine — or at least get them DVDs of the pic. Among the surprised execs is Sony Pictures Classics’ Michael Barker. The film is geared to an adult audience, but the filmmakers keep seeing mobs of young faces at every screening. (UPDATE: The fans say they are adults, not teens.) Three buyers are said to be circling, but no word yet if they are being swayed, or just annoyed, by the email campaign. UTA is shopping the movie, which also stars James Gandolfini. No reports so far of Sopranos fans muscling buyers on his behalf.

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Sundance: ‘Winter’s Bone’ Goes Roadside

By | Saturday January 30, 2010 @ 3:45pm PST
Mike Fleming

sundance 2010There’s yet another Sundance deal: Roadside attractions paid in the low- to mid-6 figures for North American distribution rights to writer/director Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone. Roadside paid in the low- to mid-six figures for what’s expected to be a summer theatrical release.

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Sundance: IFC Buys ‘The Killer Inside Me’

By | Saturday January 30, 2010 @ 9:11am PST
Mike Fleming

sundance 2010After a marathon negotiation session that ended this morning, IFC acquired screen rights to The Killer Inside Me, the Michael Winterbottom-directed adaptation of Jim Thompson’s best known work, the 1952 pulp fiction novel. Wild Bunch’s Carole Baraton and WME Global head Graham Taylor closed a deal worth between $1 million and $2 million for U.S. rights only and a late summer/early fall release. WME had its 3rd big deal in 3 days, after Wednesday’s sale of Hesher, Thursday’s deal for Blue Valentine, andthis morning’s The Killer Inside Me deal.

The pic was scripted by John Curran, and produced by Chris Hanley, Bradford L. Schei and Andrew Eaton. It stars Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson. The Killer Inside Me was one of the most polarizing films of the festival, which is just how the noir novel was written. Buyers who caught its first screening were buzzing about how Winterbottom was confronted by angry women upset by a scene in which Affleck’s psychotic deputy sheriff character Lou Ford brutally pummels the face of a prostitute played by Alba. (Insiders tell me those reports thaat Alba walked out of the screening are bullshit. She had a pror commitment.) However, by being provocative and controversial, the pic also was able to distinguish itself in the crowded indie film marketplace. Buyers and reviewers I spoke with hailed the performances by Affleck — one of the most underrated young leading men working today — … Read More »

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Disney Exits Euro TV Managing Director

By | Saturday January 30, 2010 @ 7:33am PST

walt disney logo corporateLONDON — I’ve learned that Stephen Moore, TV managing director for Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Canada, has been made redundant. He’d been in the job for less than a year. Moore was in charge of distributing Disney/ABC/ESPN programming to 240 territories worldwide. Shows included such ubiquitous Disney hits as Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Ugly Betty. Disney has confirmed Moore is being made redundant. It has no plans to replace him with somebody else overseeing foreign TV distribution. Instead, it’s putting greater emphasis on each territory taking responsibility for itself.

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Sundance: Pyramide Buys ‘Holy Rollers’

By | Friday January 29, 2010 @ 10:52pm PST

sundance 2010PARK CITY, UT (January 28, 2010) – Flache Pyramide has acquired from Cinetic International the French distribution rights to the 2010 Sundance Film Festival hit “Holy Rollers.” Kevin Asch makes his directorial debut in the gritty coming of age story set against the backdrop of the international drug trade. Written by Antonio Macia, and starring Justin Bartha (“The Hangover”), Jesse Eisenberg (“Zombieland”), and Danny A. Abeckaser, the film made its worldwide debut at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. The deal was negotiated by Shebnem Askin-Schreger (head of Cinetic International) and Eric Lagesse (President of Pyramide Int’l). “Holy Rollers” is produced by Danny Abeckaser, Tory Tunnell, Per Melita, and Jen Gatien. Cinetic International negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

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Secret J.D. Salinger Documentary & Book, Now Revealed (Mike Has Seen The Film)

By | Friday January 29, 2010 @ 1:20pm PST
Mike Fleming

jdsalinger3EXCLUSIVE: Judging by the J.D. Salinger obituaries and tributes, there is just as much interest in the Catcher in the Rye author after his death as there was during his life when he shunned the spotlight for reclusion in Cornish, New Hampshire. Now I can report that Shane Salerno, a 37-year-old screenwriter who’s currently writing Fantastic Voyage for Fox and James Cameron, has directed and produced Salinger, a 2-hour documentary locked late last year after 5 years in the making.

Salerno financed the film out of his pocket, interviewed 150 sources, and accumulated so much information that he collaborated on a 700-page companion book with bestselling author David Shields.

The 150 sources interviewed in the film either worked with Salinger at The New Yorker or had contact with him otherwise, or were greatly influenced by him. The famous names include Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edward Norton, John Cusack, Danny DeVito, John Guare, Martin Sheen, David Milch, Robert Towne, Tom Wolfe, E.L. Doctorow, A. Scott Berg, Elizabeth Frank, Gore Vidal, and many other fans, journalists, filmmakers, playwrights, and artists inspired by Salinger’s work.

The film — kept under the radar until now — wasn’t done in time for consideration at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. As a result, the filmmaker hoped to present it at a spring film festival, like Cannes. It will be shopped shortly.

shanesalernoI first learned about the project last year from some sources who’d been interviewed for it. After … Read More »

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Sundance Sales Update: ‘Blue Valentine’

By | Friday January 29, 2010 @ 12:20pm PST
Mike Fleming

sundance 2010As the Sundance fest comes to a close, Harvey Weinstein acquired Blue Valentine in a WME-brokered deal. While IFC, Goldwyn and Oscilloscope made offers, The Weinstein Co was particularly aggressive with a low 7-figure offer. While the film isn’t easy — director Derek Cianfrance has shot an often painfully honest autopsy of a dead marriage — Weinstein Co decisionmakers were convinced that the performance by Michelle Williams opposite Ryan Gosling is her strongest since Brokeback Mountain and has Oscar nomination potential. This now gives TWC a pair of films, counting the docu The Tillman Story. Other deals include the Joel Schumacher-directed Twelve to Hannover House, and the docu Family Affair to Oprah Winfrey’s OWN.

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MGM Gets More Time From Lenders – Until March 31 – While Sale Continues

By | Friday January 29, 2010 @ 12:13pm PST

MgmlogosmallThe studio issued the following statement: “MGM said today its lenders have agreed to extend the forbearance period until March 31, 2010. The lenders took this action in support of the Company’s efforts to strengthen its financial position and to facilitate the Company’s ongoing process of exploring strategic alternatives, which include continuing to operate as a standalone entity and evaluating a potential sale of the Company. MGM appreciates the continued support of its lender group. MGM also reiterated today that it has begun the second phase of the M&A process and is conducting due diligence with select parties who have submitted bids. This phase of the process is expected to run for the next several weeks.”

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