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Revolver Guns For British Youth Audience

By | Thursday February 25, 2010 @ 4:34am PST
Mike Fleming

From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: Revolver Entertainment, the British distribution company, plans to make 3 low-budget youth or urban movies a year. Each film will be budgeted up to £1 million. The company is high on its first in-house production, Shank, a futuristic gang thriller which sales agent AV Pictures has already sold to Benelux, France, Germany and the Middle East and will be released in the UK on 80 screens on March 26. A tie-in pop video sung by London rap star Bashy, featuring movie clips, has been viewed by 80,000 within a week of it being posted on YouTube, putting it 3rd on the website’s Most Viewed list this week. Revolver is releasing its next urban title about basketball Freestyle this weekend. The distributor helped finance the film. Revolver has already decided on its next project, which its production arm Gunslinger will start filming in June. And a Shank sequel is in the works.

“Ideally, we’re looking to produce films which speak to a British youth audience,” said Revolver’s CEO Justin Marciano. He told me that he and his team have been “reverse engineering” these films by deciding what sort of movies audiences want to see and then making them. “It’s something the studios do all the time, just with several noughts on the end of the budget,” he told me. But Marciano was booed when he talked about reverse engineering at a recent film festival. Still, it’s possible that Gunslinger could become a Roger Corman-like lab for young filmmaking talent. Nothing like that really exists … Read More »

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UK Exhibitors End Boycott Of Disney’s ‘Alice’

By | Thursday February 25, 2010 @ 4:16am PST

iger 2mouse smallFrom Deadline|London editor Tim Adler:The UK’s biggest movie theatre chain Odeon has now ended its standoff with the Walt Disney Co. It joined exhibitors Vue and Cineworld to show Alice In Wonderland as scheduled. What a win for Bob Iger and what a sea-change for filmgoers. It’ll end up like Korea where a movie plays for a few weeks in cinemas and then, snap your fingers, and all formats are available at a variety of prices. Disney decided to stare down exhibitors both here in the UK and in the U.S. by imposing a 12-week theatrical window instead of the standard lag between a film appearing in cinemas and then going to DVD of 17 weeks. It all kicked off when Disney CEO Bob Iger told investors during an earnings call earlier this month: “It‘s really important for us to maintain a very healthy business on the exhibition side, and 3D is definitely contributing to that, and a very healthy business on the home video side, which we think is actually in the best interest of the theater owners. And so, mindful of what‘s going on on the home video side, we feel that it’s time, on a case-by-case basis, movie-by-movie, to really take a look at how we’re windowing the home video product into the marketplace.” Disney distribution president Bob Chapek echoed his boss on the need for exceptions like Tim Burton’s 3D Alice In Wonderland to accomodate a shortened … Read More »

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McG Comedy In Need Of Male Frenemies

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 10:20pm PST
Mike Fleming

Bradley Cooper has fallen out of This Means War because the July start date overlapped the Warners comedy The Hangover 2, which is a big payday for Cooper. This Means War, the McG-directed Fox comedy starring Reese Witherspoon, now needs to find both of the best friends who become enemies when the duo realize they are pining for the same woman.

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Whale Of A Uni Tale For Drew Barrymore

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 7:26pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: This may not be the best of times to develop a lovable whale tale considering the tragic death of that trainer by an Orca. Universal is making Everybody Loves Whales, a fact-based story of the 1988 rescue of a trio of California gray whales trapped under the ice of the Arctic Circle. I’m told Drew Barrymore is circling the role of a Greenpeace activist. Shooting is slated for the fall.
The film has all the makings of a heartwarming family film. Despite the frigid surroundings, the actual event caused a thaw in relations between the U.S. and Soviet superpowers, which worked together with activists, media, and locals to save the whales after both President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev got involved. Jack Amiel and Michael Begler wrote the script. Universal harpooned the project after Warner Bros set it free. Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Michael Sugar will produce it with Working Title’s Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Liza Chasin. Barrymore is hot again after winning several awards including the Golden Globe for HBO’s Grey Gardens.

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Halle Berry Lands At CAA

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 6:49pm PST
Mike Fleming

Halle Berry, who left ICM two weeks ago, is back for the 2nd time with CAA. She left there to join WME and then moved to ICM. Berry continues to be managed by longtime rep Vince Cirrincione.

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Justin Theroux Readying ‘Zoolander 2′ For Ben Stiller And Paramount: Where’s Owen?

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 4:28pm PST

zoolanderEXCLUSIVE: What’s better than being really, really ridiculously good-looking like Zoolander? Being really, really ridiculously good-looking in the 2001 cult classic’s sequel. Finally, Paramount and Ben Stiller are pulling together a PG-13 Zoolander 2 with Tropic Thunder and Iron Man 2 writer Justin Theroux who’ll also direct. I’ve learned that Ben and Justin are working on the script together, and Theroux is going to Fashion Week in Paris to “immerse himself on what is current in fashion”. ”It’s got momentum,” a studio source just told me. Everyone’s hoping Owen Wilson co-stars again but no deal is set. The villain likely will be Jonah Hill who’s in negotiations.

If you remember, Zoolander came out on September 28, 2001, right after 9/11 so no one ever saw the pic in theaters. But it was a hot DVD and is still a bestseller on iTunes. And when Ben Stiller goes overseas, he’s always asked to do “Blue Steel” which is saying a lot about a movie that earned only $45M domestic and $16M international because of its lousy timing. The problem is that no one’s sure what the sequel can do because the original was so thwarted. Paramount wants to keep the budget below $50M so what’s being discussed is some upfront reductions in exchange for bigger upsides. And yet everyone still really wants to do the pic in order to bring Derek and Hanzel to life again.

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Mickey Rourke Wooed For Two Big Roles, Including Conan The Barbarian’s Father

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 12:59pm PST
Mike Fleming

mickey iron man 2Now that his career is resurrected from the ashes thanks to Darren Aronofsky and The Wrestler, Mickey Rourke is deservedly hot again and in demand. Currently, he’s being courted by Millennium Films and Lionsgate to join the remake of Conan The Barbarian, titled just Conan, which is the Marcus Nispel-directed reinvention of the Robert E. Howard creation. Rourke is negotiating to play Corin, the father of Conan who’s played by Jason Momoa. At the same time, Rourke is negotiating for the Tarsem Singh-directed War of the Gods and the part of King Hyperion, the ruler of Ancient Greece who does battle with the divines. Henry Cavill also stars.

Conan begins shooting in Bulgaria in late March and War of the Gods begins April 7th, so it is possible he might need to make a choice between the 2 projects. Both offers come as Rourke is now being seen in trailers for Iron Man 2 in the role of Ivan Vanko/Whiplash, the villain who goes mano a mano against Robert Downey Jr’ s Tony Stark. The fervor for Rourke is a good lesson to remember for all of those actors testing for the role of Captain America and bristling about the low paycheck. Reps for Rourke, who was coming off an Oscar-nominated turn in The Wrestler, went through a bare-knuckle negotiation on Iron Man 2, with Marvel initially offering him just $250,000. But the buzz? Priceless.

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CBS Reups Les Moonves Through 2015

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 12:38pm PST

Moonves CBSSo The $32 Million Man has signed a new employment agreement that will keep him in place as president and CEO of CBS Corp through Feb. 22, 2015. His previous contract was set to expire in 2011. Under the terms of the agreement, Moonves’ salary remains at its current level, and he will continue to be eligible for an annual performance-based bonus and get equity-based compensation that ties his payout to the company’s stock performance. There hasn’t been an SEC proxy report filed yet containing Moonves’ 2009 compensation, but he was paid overall, including stock and option awards, about $32 million for 2008, down from $36.8 million in 2007. Moonves has indicated he would not take a pay raise in 2009, so we’ll see. CBS in today’s announcement also said the contract provides “incentives for Moonves to continue his relationship with the company at the end of the employment term” which sounds like a sweet deal.

“This is, above all, great news for every shareholder of CBS,” said controlling shareholder Sumner Redstone. “Leslie is a superb executive who has led CBS to a position of unparalleled leadership in the industry.” Moonves gushed, “I am very gratified that my relationship with the company will continue as we build on the strong foundation we have laid for ongoing growth and success.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Who Will Be Captain America?

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 10:50am PST
Mike Fleming

marvel captainamericaUPDATE: I’ve learned that Marvel Studios and director Joe Johnston are testing candidates for The First Avenger: Captain America which Paramount will distribute on July 22, 2011. I’ve scooped their wish list: most but by no means all of the contenders are young hunks who come from both movies and television — Chace Crawford (CW’s Gossip Girl), John Krasinski (NBC’s The Office), Scott Porter (NBC’s Friday Night Lights), Mike Vogel (Cloverfield), Michael Cassidy (CW’s Privileged), Patrick Flueger (Brothers). They also wanted Garrett Hedlund (Tron Legacy), but he so far hasn’t made a test deal. The studio yesterday tested several candidates from this list. It’s not surprising that the roster contains so many little known actors: Marvel after all cast a complete unknown as Thor, Chris Hemsworth. The role is enticing, but Marvel is known for driving hard bargains on its superhero deals. There’s a salary scale, but if you’re not a known quantity like Crawford or Krasinski, the offer is around $300,000 for the first film. And whoever gets the role will have to sign for another nine options for future films that include sequels, Avengers movies, or anything else Marvel decides. In fact, I’m told reliably that Captain America director Johnston recently reached an impasse with Marvel and briefly walked off the film when Marvel informed him the budget was too high and he’d have to take a pay cut. … Read More »

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PR SHOCKER! Matt Labov Leaves B|W|R

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 9:35am PST

What’s bizarre is that Matt Labov’s decision to start his own flackery follows B|W|R last month promoting him to co-president with Leslie Sloane Zelnik. This is a major, major loss. Labov joined B|W|R in 1994 and built a comedy roster of Jack Black, Steve Carell, Sacha Baron Cohen, Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow, Jay Roach, and Jason Schwartzman. He also consulted on the release campaigns of Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Borat, and Bruno. ”That’s a HUGE problem for them. He holds ALL of the male comedic talent,” a source emailed me. UPDATE: Finally, here’s the news release. It’s amazing to me that this huge PR operation couldn’t get its statement out to me. Then again, no one at that shop ever bothers to answer the phone either. How pathetic is that?:

Los Angeles, CA (February 23, 2010) – After 16 years of shaping the agency’s comedy roster, Matt Labov is departing B|W|R Public Relations to establish his own, yet-unnamed independent company focused on comedy and broader consulting beyond traditional public relations services.

Labov, recently named co-president of B|W|R, will be launching his new venture and will bring with him such longtime clients as Jack Black, Steve Carell, Will Ferrell, Jonah Hill, Jay Roach, Seth Rogen and Jason Segel.  As a P.R. and marketing strategist, Labov has also consulted on the release campaigns for such films as Borat, Bruno, Superbad, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, I Love You, Man and the HBO comedy series “Eastbound & Down.”

“The desire to embark on this new

Read More »

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Deadline|Hollywood Traffic Doubles!

By | Wednesday February 24, 2010 @ 9:23am PST

Last month, I told you that Deadline|Hollywood, after just four years in existence, has a larger readership than Variety and The Hollywood Reporter print and online combined. Now I can tell you that, according to comScore, DH from January 1st-31st doubled its own November U.S. traffic, and also increased its lead over Hollywood trades and other media websites. And we’re doing it by staying lean and mean with original business news content that’s advertiser supported and doesn’t bottomfeed about celebrities just to inflate web traffic.

According to comScore (the web’s leading U.S. analytics and traffic source), Deadline|Hollywood in January recorded 2,299,000 uniques, 5,100,000 visits, and 8,000,000 page views for its U.S. traffic. That was nearly 3 times more uniques and page views than The Hollywood Reporter; 4 times more than Variety; 5.5 times more uniques and 8 times more page views than The Wrap; 21.2 times more uniques than Paid Content and 30.6 times more page views; 3 times more uniques and page views than MediaBistro; and 4 times more than Vanity Fair.

Look for Mike Fleming’s Deadline|New York to go live on March 2nd.

[UPDATE: Due to a computation error by a staff member, I was told that Deadline|Hollywood's Quantcast global uniques were bigger than Gawker's. That is not the case -- yet.]

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Matt Damon To Star In New RFK Biopic

By | Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 8:19pm PST
Mike Fleming

MattDamon2010EXCLUSIVE: In this tough marketplace, if you want to make another movie about a complex historical figure like Robert F Kennedy, you’d better bring to the table an actor with chops and bankability to excite a financier. Matt Damon does both those things. I’ve just heard that a deal closed at New Regency for an RFK film that has Damon attached, with Gary Ross directing and Steven Knight scripting. Damon will wait to see the script before we know whether or not the project will really happen. The film will be based on the Evan Thomas biography His Life, which Landscape Entertainment’s Bob Cooper optioned and will produce with Ross and his Larger Than Life partner Alison Thomas.

rfkWhile Damon just played South African rugby star Francois Pienaar in Invictus, he has never played a real figure like Kennedy. The film will trace RFK’s transformation from the younger brother in the shadow brother President John F Kennedy to a strong national leader in his own right before he was gunned down in 1968. His assassination at the Ambassador Hotel was the backdrop for Emilio Estevez’s Bobby, and Chris Columbus and his 1492 partners are developing The Last Campaign on RFK’s presidential run. Ross, too, has long been fascinated with Kennedy and once optioned the Thomas book himself.

Knight, the Eastern Promises writer, just got hired by Columbia Pictures to adapt the Dan Brown novel … Read More »

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Charlie Sheen On Rehab Break From ‘Men’

By | Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 3:30pm PST

2ND UPDATE 3:30 PM: Here is the CBS/Warner Bros/Chuck Lorre statement.

(February 23, 2010) — Joint statement from Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment; Peter Roth, President, Warner Bros. Television; Chuck Lorre, Creator/Executive Producer of Two And A Half Men:

“CBS, Warner Bros. Television and Chuck Lorre support Charlie Sheen in his decision today to begin voluntary in-patient care at a treatment center. We wish him nothing but the best as he deals with this personal matter. Production on ‘Two and a Half Men’ will be temporarily suspended.”

2:10 PM: I understand that CBS learned about Charlie Sheen’s rehab break only about an hour ago. So everything’s in flux. But I can confirm that Two And A Half Men has already shot 18 episodes of its 24 order this season.

1:45 PM: Normally, Deadline Hollywood doesn’t cover the personal lives of Hollywood unless it has a direct impact on business. But now Charlie Sheen’s publicist has released a statement” “As a preventative measure, Charlie Sheen has entered a rehabilitation facility. He will take some time off his series Two And A Half Men. He has asked that his privacy be honored. No further statements are planned.” All I can say is that it’s been a miracle that Sheen and the CBS sitcom have lasted seven seasons considering what a train wreck he is.

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WME Has Signed MSNBC’s Chris Matthews

By | Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 2:46pm PST

This is the Hardball host who commented, after President Obama’s first State of the Union Address, “You know, I forgot he was black tonight for an hour.”

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Warner Bros Buys Majority Stake In Batman Video Game’s Rocksteady Studios

By | Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 1:51pm PST

BURBANK, Calif., February 23, 2010 – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group announced today the acquisition of a majority stake in Rocksteady Studios, a privately held developer of interactive entertainment targeted at teens and adults, continuing Warner Bros.’ pattern as one of the industry’s fastest growing games publishers.

“Rocksteady demonstrated its professionalism and extraordinary development abilities with Batman: Arkham Asylum,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group. “This arrangement is a great strategic fit and we are very pleased to solidify our relationship with this talented development team.”

Founded in 2004 in London, England, Rocksteady specializes in developing action-adventure video games, including Batman: Arkham Asylum, one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2009. The title has enjoyed robust sales, shipping over three million units worldwide, and has garnered numerous industry awards.

“We are proud to strengthen our association with WBIE, a world class publisher that we have enjoyed working with since we began developing Batman: Arkham Asylum,” said Jamie Walker, studio director, Rocksteady Studios. Sefton Hill, games director, added, “The Rocksteady team is very much looking forward to creating more great games based on widely recognized Warner Bros. brands like Batman.”

Warner Bros. continues to grow its games business through key acquisitions, building internal development capabilities, leveraging its global video distribution infrastructure, and focusing on developing major games franchises such as Batman, Mortal Kombat, The Lord of the Rings and LEGO.

“With the successful release of Batman: Arkham Asylum, a franchise that is a key focus for Warner Bros., Rocksteady has proven

Read More »

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MEMO: ABC Latest To Gut News Division

By | Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 1:18pm PST

From: Westin, David L.
Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 3:40 PM
To: #ABCTV News ALL
Cc: Sweeney, Anne X.
Subject: ABC News Transformation

Over the past several years, we’ve seen a lot of changes — changes at ABC News and in the news industry overall. I’m proud of the way we’ve responded both to unexpected transitions in our programs and to the economic realities of our business. We’ve adapted quickly and effectively and – above all – put our audiences first. Our programs are stronger today than they were ten years ago. This is a credit first and foremost to the men and women at ABC News.

But all of us are good reporters. We can see that our entire society is in the middle of a revolution — a revolution in the ways that people get their news and information. The digital age makes our business more competitive than ever before. It also presents us with opportunities we couldn’t have imagined to gather, produce, and distribute the news. We can have great success in the new world – but only if we embrace what is new, rather than being overwhelmed by it.

The time has come to anticipate change, rather than respond to it. We have a rare opportunity to get in front of what’s coming, to ensure that ABC News has a sound journalistic and financial footing for many years to come, and to serve our audiences even better. But we must move boldly and promptly. In the past, we’ve sought out less expensive

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News Corp Invests In 2nd Largest Shareholder’s Middle East Media Group

By | Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 12:50pm PST

London, February 23, 2010. News Corporation today announced that it has reached an agreement to buy a 9.09% stake in Rotana Group, the Middle East media group. Under the terms of the agreement, News Corporation will acquire newly-issued shares in Rotana for $70 million. The company has an option to increase its stake to 18.18% in the 18 months following completion. Rotana, which is owned by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, operates one of the largest TV networks and ad sales operations in the region and owns the largest Arabic film library. Additionally, it has built the leading record label in the Middle East, managing many of the most popular artists in the region and controlling the biggest Arabic music catalogue. Rotana also operates an expanding radio network and a wide array of digital services.

James Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive, Europe and Asia, News Corporation, said: “A stake in Rotana expands our presence in a region with a young and growing population, where GDP growth is set to outstrip that of more developed economies in the years ahead. Rotana is a leading player in the Middle East and we look forward to working together.”

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal said: “We are delighted to have this partnership with News Corporation. As one of the world’s most global media companies, it has an unrivalled record in developing businesses at scale around the world. This investment will strengthen our existing relationship, building Rotana’s presence across the region and expanding its reach to the

Read More »

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WGAW Signs 33rd Online Content Company

By | Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 12:20pm PST

WGAW-LogoLos Angeles – Emmy-nominated production company Big Fantastic has signed on as a signatory to the Writers Guild of America, West. Going forward, all new media content produced by the company will be made in accordance with the WGA’s Minimum Basic Agreement (“MBA”). Big Fantastic becomes the 33rd digital company to become signatory under the Guild’s recently won jurisdiction in the digital and mobile space. Big Fantastic has storytelling on multiple platforms and emerging technologies as well as more traditional outlets. Prom Queen streamed over 20-million times online, was featured on Verizon phones and sold to over 45 countries, including a successful format adaptation for Japanese mobile. It is now available on DVD. After Foreign Body was featured on Borders.com, it was re-edited for television and sold in multiple foreign markets.

Big Fantastic co-founder Doug Cheney said: “The Guild has done a great job of recognizing and legitimizing the efforts of online creators like us. We chose to become a signatory now because it affords us tremendous opportunities as writers while allowing our company access to the vast WGA talent pool.”

“Now is a crucial time in the history of online entertainment. As it continues to demonstrate its tremendous potential for growth, it becomes ever more important for creators to stand together and make certain that their work is covered by a Writers Guild contract,” said WGAW Executive Director David Young.

To date, 73 successful web projects, including original works such as Dr.

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LA Times Prints Year-Old Showbiz News

By | Tuesday February 23, 2010 @ 11:50am PST

The Los Angeles Times must be desperate. Rachel Abramowitz is peddling the story of Angelina Jolie-as-Kay Scarpetta (novelist Patricia Cornwall’s signature character) as news when Mike Fleming wrote it for Variety back on April 21, 2009. By the way, his Deadline|New York site debuts on March 2nd. I’m going to miss sharing Deadline|Hollywood with him these past weeks. We caused trouble!

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