Johnny Depp was interviewed by Vanity Fair on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean 4 and had one interesting revelation: “They couldn’t stand him. They just couldn’t stand him,” Depp says of Disney’s reaction to his controversial interpretation of Sparrow. “I think it was Michael Eisner, the head of Disney at the time, who was quoted as saying, ‘He’s ruining the movie.’ Depp reveals that he remained unfazed by the studio’s hysteria. “Upper-echelon Disney-ites, going, ‘What’s wrong with him? Is he, you know, like some kind of weird simpleton? Is he drunk? By the way, is he gay?…’ And so I actually told this woman who was the Disney-ite… ‘But didn’t you know that all my characters are gay?’ Which really made her nervous.”
Culver City, CA – November 30, 2010 – Andrew Gumpert has been promoted to President, Worldwide Business Affairs and Operations for Columbia Pictures, it was announced today by Michael Lynton, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amy Pascal, co-chairman, to whom he will jointly report. Gumpert will work closely with Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad while also serving as a key strategic advisor to Lynton and Pascal. He will oversee worldwide business affairs and operations for Columbia and will be integrally involved in securing co-financing arrangements and new and emerging revenue streams for the label’s theatrical releases.
In his years with Columbia, Gumpert has overseen negotiations for many of the studio’s most high profile productions, including the re-imagining of the Spider-Man franchise, Men in Black III, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Social Network, Grown Ups, 2012, Quantum of Solace, Hancock, Casino Royale, The Da Vinci Code, Spider-Man 3, Superbad, and the upcoming The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, among others. Gumpert joined Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2005 as Executive Vice President of Business Affairs for Columbia and was promoted to President of Business Affairs & Administration for the label in 2008. He previously led business and legal affairs for Miramax’s Dimension Films division for seven years.
Analyzing today’s 26th Annual Independent Spirit Award nominations, I would say Winter’s Bone, the film that led with the most nods, is also the one to beat, particularly after its triumphs at Monday night’s Gotham Awards where it took the Best Ensemble and Best Feature awards. It is the kind of movie that personifies “indie spirit” and seems to have so much heat in that regard that several Oscar nominations could also be in the picture. It’s generally thought that, for the Best Actress Oscar, the race may come down to Annette Bening vs Natalie Portman, but at the Indie Spirits the front runner is most likely Winter’s Bones’ Jennifer Lawrence with her co-stars Dale Dickey and John Hawkes figuring as viable potential winners in their respective supporting categories as well. Place your bets.
Winter’s Bone led the indie Spirit race with 7 nods, along with The Kids Are All Right, Black Swan, and 127 Hours all nabbed Best Feature nominations. And it’s entirely possible, at least according to current conventional wisdom, that the same quartet will land four of the 10 Academy Awards Best Picture slots as well. This time around, there’s perhaps the closest correlation between the Spirits and Oscar’s Best Picture race seen in years. Which would indicate that, despite the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Science’s attempt to broaden the field in the category to include more commercial entries, the indie spirit …
UPDATE: I can confirm that 23-year-old Eric Kuhn is joining UTA’s digital media department where I’m told he will specialize in social media strategies for the agency’s talent and corporate clients. This is one of the agency world’s early moves to bring in an agent focusing specifically on social media and outlets such as Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook. Kuhn was CNN’s Audience Interaction Producer, where he oversaw social media for CNN’s U.S. programming and worked on the network’s television/web integration.
Kuhn oversaw CNN’s more than 250 Twitter accounts, and I’m told he was responsible for helping predict election results by looking at voter sentiment on Twitter (and now we know who to blame for all that on-air pablum by the newscasters and pundits during election night). Prior to CNN he helped manage social media for both the NBA and the CBS Evening News. I’m told Kuhn will be relocating from DC to LA at the beginning of the year.
EXCLUSIVE: Primetime musical series are red-hot courtesy of Fox’s Glee, and ABC, whose sibling Disney Channel started the genre’s resurgence with High School Musical and Hannah Montana, is developing a couple of music-themed series for next fall. Leading the pack is a drama with musical elements from writer Bob Kushell (Samantha Who?) starring Tony winner Idina Menzel. Another one is a musical comedy from Robert Horn, who penned two Disney Channel movie musicals this year: the High School Musical-spinoff Sharpay Fabulous, starring Ashley Tisdale, and The Suite Life: The Movie.
Hot off her recurring role on Glee last season, Idina Menzel is headlining her own musical hourlong project, a mother-daughter relationship drama in the vein of Gilmore Girls. It will star the Broadway actress as the single mother of a teenager who, to make ends meet, waits tables and performs at weddings and bar mitzvahs, odd jobs that Menzel herself worked early on while pursuing a Broadway career. Kushell, who had been looking to do a musical series for the past 10 years, is writing the script for ABC Studios and will executive produce with David Knoller (Big Love). Menzel and her manager Heather Reynolds will serve as producers. Menzel, who originated the roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked on Broadway, earned Tony nominations for both and won for Wicked. She will make her New York Philharmonic debut on Feb. 5 and may also return to …
EXCLUSIVE: USA has given a formal green light to the Burn Notice movie prequel starring Bruce Campbell, which will be directed by Burn Notice star Jeffrey Donovan. The two will also executive produce with Burn Notice creator Matt Nix, who wrote the movie, and the series exec producer Mikkel Bondesen. The untitled two-hour film, which was announced at this year’s Comic-Con, will begin shooting in January on location in Bogota, Columbia for a premiere in Spring 2011. Burn Notice has wrapped production on Season 4, and filming on Season 5 is slated to begin shortly after the movie finishes shooting.
Here are more details about the Fox TV Studios-produced prequel. It is set in late 2005 and focuses on Sam Axe’s (Campbell) last mission as a Navy SEAL. It begins after a faction of Colombian rebels makes trouble for the locally stationed military platoon, with Lieutenant Commander Axe (APA-repped Campbell) being sent down to investigate. As the mission unfolds, Sam begins to uncover the dark secrets of the area, learning the truth about sacrifice, deception, and ultimately what’s worth fighting for.
The idea to do a Campbell-centered Burn Notice movie offshoot originated a year and a half ago when Burn Notice made its Comic-Con debut. “We saw Bruce Campbell as the Bruce Springsteen of Comic Con,” USA’s president of original programming Jeff Wachtel said. “We saw the spectacular explosive fan reaction and realized that, in Bruce, we had not only a …
ABC’s hourlong procedural Body of Proof starring Dana Delany will succeed Detroit 1-8-7 in the Tuesday 10 PM slot. In preparation for the move, the network last month gave the modestly rated freshman cop drama Detroit 1-8-7 a short, 5-episode back order. Body of Proof will premiere on March 29, following Detroit‘s 18-episode run, with the Dancing with the Stars result show as a lead-in. The series, created by Christopher Murphey and produced by ABC Studios, centers on Dr. Megan Hunt (Dana Delany), a brilliant neurosurgeon who takes on a new career as a medical examiner following a car accident. Body of Proof, originally slated to launch in late October in the Friday 9 PM slot, was held back by new ABC chief Paul Lee for a proper launch in a better time period.
FX has set premiere dates for new drama series Lights Out and returning animated comedy Archer. Lights Out, starring Holt McCallany as an aging former heavyweight boxing champion, will debut on Tuesday, January 11 at 10 PM. The second season of spy spoof Archer will launch on Thursday, January 27 at 10 PM.
Erica Hill’s star is rising fast at CBS. In an overhaul of the anchor team at The Early Show, which has been trailing the morning program competition, co-anchors Harry Smith and Maggie Rodriguez and weather anchor Dave Price are out. Hill, who joined The Early Show 10 months ago as news anchor of the weekday program and co-anchor of the weekend edition with Chris Wragge, will now co-anchor the weekday Early Show along with Wragge. Marysol Castro, formerly of ABC’s Good Morning America weekend edition, has been tapped as the new weather anchor, while Jeff Glor will serve as news anchor. The changes will go in effect on Jan. 3. “The Early Show is an important element of CBS News,” CBS News and Sports president McManus said. “We constantly focus on how to improve the broadcast, and we think we have a terrific combination in Erica, Chris, Jeff and Marysol.” According to CBS News’ release, Smith and Price, who had been anchoring The Early Show since 2002, and Rodriguez, who replaced Hannah Storm in 2008, will stay with CBS News in a different capacities.
EXCLUSIVE: Sarah Jones (Sons of Anarchy) has landed the lead in the J.J. Abrams-produced Fox pilot Alcatraz. The drama project, from Warner Bros. TV and Abrams’ Bad Robot, centers on a group of missing Alcatraz prisoners and guards who reappear in the present day. It chronicles the efforts of a team of FBI agents to track them down and unravel the mystery behind their disappearance thirty years prior. Jones will play Rebecca Madsen, a smart, thoughtful and a little obsessive police officer. She joins Lost alum Jorge Garcia who was the first actor cast in the pilot. Jones is the latest ingenue to headline a series project from Abrams, who is known for breaking new young female talent on his shows. He cast Keri Russell on Felicity, Jennifer Garner on Alias, Evangeline Lilly on Lost, Australian Anna Torv on Fringe, and, most recently, British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw on Undercovers.
Jones, repped by Greene & Assoc. and manager Lena Rocklin, recurred on FX’s Sons of Anarchy last season and is doing an arc on another FX drama series, Justified. She has been on the radar of Fox’s casting executives with recent guest spots on House and Lone Star. On the feature side, she recently completed The Domino Effect and Storage.
Pete Hammond: Indie Spirit Nominations Could Predict Oscar
LOS ANGELES (November 30, 2010) – Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, announced nominations this morning for the 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards. Eva Mendes and Jeremy Renner served as presenters and 2011 Spirit Awards host Joel McHale was also on hand. Nominees for Best Feature include 127 Hours, Black Swan, Greenberg, The Kids Are All Right and Winter’s Bone.
Please Give was selected for the Robert Altman Award, which is given to one film’s director, casting director and ensemble cast.
“The artistic side of independent film is stronger than ever, and it’s especially impressive to see the developed craft of extraordinary independent filmmakers who have only gotten better over the years. Past nominees such as Darren Aronofsky, Noah Baumbach, Danny Boyle, Lisa Cholodenko, Debra Granik, Nicole Holofcener and John Cameron Mitchell continue to create original and compelling films that move and amaze us.” said Film Independent Executive Director Dawn Hudson.
Selected from 220 submissions, this year’s winners will be announced at the Film Independent Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. on the beach in Santa Monica. The 26th annual awards show will air exclusively that night on IFC at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. Winners of the Filmmaker Grants will be highlighted during the Spirit Awards and announced at the 2011 Spirit Awards
NBC, which has 8 comedies on tap for this season – all single-camera – is mulling a return to the multi-camera genre. In one of the last comedy buys this season, the network went for a multi-camera project from sitcom veteran Peter Murrieta. It is one of several multi-camera comedies NBC has put in development this season, including Are You There Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, a sitcom based on Chelsea Handler’s books, and a project by veteran Bob Kushell. The Murrieta project, produced by UMS and 3 Arts, involves a hipster, who is a first-generation Mexican American, being pulled into his family’s business and will focus on the dichotomy of his traditional past and his “hip and cool” new life. Murrieta hatched the idea for the project with Eddie Gorodetsky, co-executive producer on the two strongest multi-camera comedies on the air, CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men. Murrieta is writing, with one of multi-camera sitcom’s genre’s best-known directors, Jamie Widdoes, on board to direct the potential pilot. Widdoes also directed the pilot for Murrieta’s semi-autobiographical sitcom for the WB Greetings from Tucson. Murrieta most recently served as executive producer/showrunner on Wizards of Waverly Place for the Disney Channel series’ first 3 seasons. With him at the helm, the show landed the first best series Emmy Award for Disney Channel last year in the children’s program category. (Murrieta, repped by CAA and …
Here is a new trailer for NBC’s midseason superhero drama The Cape, which will premiere January 9 and air in The Event’s Monday 9 PM time slot. The series, from BermanBraun, stars David Lyons as cop Vince Faraday who, after being framed by the villain Chess for crimes he did not commit, teams with a group of carnival misfits to take a new identity, fight crime and win his family back.
The winners for the 20th Anniversary Gotham Independent Film Awards were announced tonight. The awards organized by the Independent Feature Project already announced the recipients of their honorary awards handed out this evening, including filmmaker Darren Aronofsky, actors Hilary Swank and Robert Duvall, and Focus Features CEO James Schamus. Tonight’s marquee category awards at Cipriani Wall Street in NYC are considered the first major ceremony of the awards season:
Debra Granik, director; Anne Rosellini, Alix Madigan-Yorkin, producers (Roadside Attractions)
Laura Poitras, director/producer (Zeitgeist Films and American Documentary/POV)
Best Ensemble Performance
Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Dale Dickey, Lauren Sweetser, Garret Dillahunt, Kevin Breznahan (Roadside Attractions)
Kevin Asch for Holy Rollers (First Independent Pictures)
Ronald Bronstein in Daddy Longlegs (IFC Films)
Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You
Mike Ott, director; Frederick Thornton, Laura Ragsdale, Sierra Leoni, producers
Vampire Diaries co-creator/ executive producer Kevin Williamson is working on a new supernatural drama project, envisioned as a potential companion for the CW’s flagship vampire drama. The untitled project, which is in early stages of development at Warner Bros. TV for the CW, focuses on a group of people who investigate paranormal happenings. I hear that that Williamson’s fellow Vampire Diaries co-creator/executive producer Julie Plec is in talks to come onboard and co-write the project with him. Since there is no deal with the network and no script yet, it is not clear if the paranormal drama would make it for this upcoming pilot season. (And no, the characters from the new show won’t find their way into an episode of Vampire Diaries.) This marks the first development project under the overall deal Williamson recently signed with Warner Bros. TV.
CBS is sticking with both of its daytime dramas for the foreseeable future. The network just gave top-rated The Young and the Restless a three-year renewal. Now I hear that it is also close to a deal for a two-year pickup of The Young and the Restless‘ companion The Bold and the Beautiful through the 2012-13 season. Both soaps were created by William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell. The Bold and the Beautiful, which premiered in 1987, is the only half-hour daytime drama on the air.
CBS TV Distribution this evening issued a statement confirming that Terry Wood, president of creative affairs and development at CBS Television Distribution, will be departing the company after 12 years. She most recently oversaw development of CTD’s Swift Justice with Nancy Grace, this season’s highest-rated first-year show, and the hire of Nancy O’Dell to succeed Mary Hart on Entertainment Tonight.
“Over the past twelve years, Terry has made substantial and lasting contributions to CBS Television Distribution and helped define the current face of daytime television in the process. She developed and launched five new series – including Dr. Phil and Rachael Ray — that remain on the air today. In addition, Terry has overseen our on-going series with competitive fire, energy and innovation at every turn. We respect her desire to pursue the next chapter in her career and are quite confident her talents will bring success to whatever that opportunity may be.”
Three Hollywood boutique marketing and PR agencies that include showbiz among their clients announced today they’ve formed a joint venture: Evolutionary Media Group (Jennifer Gross), Period Media (Matt Walker), and Platform Media Group (Henry Eshelman) have formed a joint venture, The Communications Partnership. While each division of the new venture will retain its brand identity, the new combo expects to cross-pollinate clients and pitches. Gross has more than 20 years’ experience in the entertainment industry. Eshelman founded PMG after 18 years with Hollywood agency BWR in 2006. Period Media installed Walker as head of flackery in 2009.