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USC Dedicates Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg Center For Animation

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 5:54pm PDT

The dedication is tomorrow. Besides the Katzenbergs, also expected are Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, who will both speak, as well as Jack Black, USC President Max Nikias, and USC School of Cinematic Arts Dean Elizabeth M. Daley.

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James Gray’s ‘Low Life’ Script Draws Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 5:47pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: We Own The Night writer/director James Gray is fast mobilizing his next film. It’s called Low Life, and it will star Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix, with Jeremy Renner in discussions to play the third lead. The project is being packaged by CAA. Several financiers are in the mix, but I hear that Wild Bunch will likely get it. Discussions are also taking place with domestic distributors, and deal is expected to be sealed shortly. The Hurt Locker‘s Greg Shapiro is producing.

I’m told that Cotillard will play a woman attempting to immigrate from Poland. Her American dream turns into a nightmare. While sailing to Ellis Island and a new start, her sister grows deathly ill and she is forced to trade sexual favors for medicine and food to keep her sister alive. Once they land, she is warned to keep quiet about what happened. Though she does, she walks away with immigration papers that deem her a woman with bad morals. With no place to go, she falls prey to a charming sleazebag (Phoenix), who persuades her to turn tricks in New York. Renner is close to signing on to play the sleazebag’s cousin, a magician who sweeps the young woman off her feet and is her best chance to escape the nightmarish life she has fallen into. This will be Gray’s fourth film with Phoenix, who previously starred in The Yards, We Own The Night and most recently Two Lovers. Read More »

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Adam Shankman Tweets ‘Rock Of Ages’ Still

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Hot Drama Series Spec With Halle Berry Attached To Star Eyes Pay Cable Networks

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 5:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Could Halle Berry be doing a TV series? TV industry people are buzzing this afternoon about a hot drama spec that has Halle Berry attached to star. Word is the spec, titled Higher Learning, was sent out today to pay cable networks, with HBO and Showtime among those targeted. I hear that the project, from DreamWorks TV, is eying a quick turnaround, and a decision could come as early as tomorrow. The script, which I hear would have the Oscar winner starring as a college professor, was written by 30-year industry veteran Lee Rose. A queen of TV movies in their heyday during the 1990s, Rose segued to episodic directing over the past 10 years. She also co-ran with Martha Kauffman the WB series Related.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark’

Mike Fleming

FilmDistrict has released a full-length trailer for Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, the remake of the creepy 1973 telepic made at a time when ABC was cranking out the scares with such films as Bad Ronald and Trilogy of Terror. Troy Nixey directed it and Guillermo del Toro produced with Mark Johnson. Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and Bailee Madison star. The film will close the Los Angeles Film Festival and opens wide in theaters Aug. 26.

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RYAN GOES OFF THE RAILS! Kavanaugh Trying To Sell Elliott’s Stake In Relativity When Investment Group Isn’t Selling

EXCLUSIVE: I fear that Ryan Kavanaugh is having a nervous breakdown. I’ve just confirmed with Elliott Associates that their stake in his Relativity Media is not for sale. ”Elliott is not selling. They are not shopping,” the investment group told me exclusively just now as an update their reining in Relativity. Interesting that Ryan today has gone public about buying something that is not for sale. I have learned that Kavanaugh does have a call option where he can buy Elliott’s stake but the investment group would have to agree and it would tack on a sizeable premium making the purchase price “a huge amount of money”, insiders tell me. And no one sane would bankroll him to do that.

Also, I’m told not to believe any of the dollar amounts Kavanaugh is claiming about Elliott’s stake in his company “because they’re off the wall”. Indeed, Kavanaugh himself over the past year has alternately confirmed and denied just to me that Elliott has invested $1.2 billion in Relativity and also a number half that. Which is why trying to speak to Ryan is always such a frustrating experience for myself and the other business press: he rarely tells the truth about anything involving his company. Instead, Kavanaugh today went to the last naive journalist who’ll believe his nonsense (that is, in addition to Variety which just tributed him) and pretended he was taking charge of his company and jettisonning Elliott. ”He doesn’t like that they are taking a more active role and that [former Relativity Media President] Michael Joe is now the Elliott person that works with Relativity,” my insider explains. “Ryan keeps telling Elliott in 20-30 emails that because of what they did he can’t get any business done.” Read More »

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California State Assembly Votes To Extend Film Tax Credit To 2014

California’s film and television tax credits would be extended five more years if the State Assembly has its way, after a bill that would add an extra $500 million to the program was approved today by a 72-1 vote. The state Senate will vote on the legislation, enacted in 2009 to slow runaway production, later in the summer. “What we’re doing with this bill is retaining and creating jobs by leveling the playing field and making California competitive again,” bill co-sponsor Felipe Fuentes told the LA Times. An additional $100 million is set to be allocated for the fiscal year that begins July 1, the Times said, but of course that’s if a new state budget is passed by then — Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed cuts are massive and could steamroll any proposed credit program; they also have generated serious pushback from both sides of the aisle. Also, a state budget has been signed into law only five times in two decades, according to Reuters, so who knows how long this could take. The California Film Commission, which administers the program, said that since the incentive was signed into law, its projects are responsible for $2.2 billion in direct spending within the state, including $756 million in wages paid to below-the-line crew.

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UTA Signs Paul Bettany

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 3:36pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paul Bettany, who’s currently starring in the Screen Gems genre thriller Priest, has just signed with UTA. Since his breakthrough on Gangster No. 1, the Royal Shakespeare Company-trained Bettany has starred in a wide range of films, from The Da Vinci Code to A Beautiful Mind, Wimbledon, Master & Commander, Creation and The Tourist. He next stars in the Sundance Film Festival financial-crisis drama Margin Call, coming in the fall. Bettany had been repped by WME, and he continues to be managed by Melanie Greene at Affirmative Entertainment and UK-based Independent.

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‘V’ Star Morena Baccarin Joins Showtime Drama Series ‘Homeland’ As Regular

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 3:12pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Just two weeks after ABC canceled cult favorite V, the show’s standout Morena Baccarin has joined another drama series, Showtime’s Homeland. The upcoming thriller, from 24 executive producers Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, centers on Marine Sergeant Scott Brody (Damian Lewis), who returns home eight years after going missing in Iraq, and Carrie Anderson (Claire Danes), a driven CIA officer who suspects he might be plotting an attack on America. Baccarin will play Jessica Brody, Scott’s smart, strong wife. She replaces Laura Fraser, who played the role in the pilot. The series, which also co-stars Mandy Patinkin, is slated to debut in the fall. Firefly and Stargate alumna Baccarin played The Visitors’ diabolical queen Anna on V, which ran for two seasons, and recently did a  guest stint on CBS’ The Mentalist. She is with UTA and Seven Summits.

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Sam Waterston Joins Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Pilot

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 2:49pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Law & Order veteran Sam Waterston has booked his first post-L&O series regular role: a supporting part in the Aaron Sorkin’s drama pilot for HBO tentatively titled More As This Story Develops. The project centers on cable news anchor Will McCallister (Jeff Daniels), who has his own show, as well as the show’s female executive producer and staff. Emily Mortimer is yet to close her deal for the female lead of the executive producer, MacKenzie. Waterston will play Charles Skinner, the president of the cable news division and Will’s immediate superior who hired MacKenzie behind Will’s back. In addition to Daniels, Waterston joins recently cast Olivia Munn and Alison Pill.

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$200 Million Opening Weekend Has Warner Bros Thinking Third ‘Hangover’

Mike Fleming

FX Nabs Rights To ‘Hangover Part II’

In a move that seems to be about commerce as much as comedy, Warner Bros has started the process on a third installment of The Hangover. Though my sources say there are no deals and that the players involved won’t really get cracking on it for months, it seems likely that Craig Mazin will be writing the three-quel. Reports are surfacing based on an interview he did to promote the film; others involved have hinted at the third pic as well.  While Mazin doesn’t have a deal, after Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures just announced that the comedy crossed the $200 million worldwide mark and became the fastest comedy to surpass that number, developing the third film seems inevitable. The picture also blew past the Memorial Day weekend record for an R rated film.

Warner Bros hasn’t announced it’s going for three, and the timing of this film actually took longer than the last one: The Hangover Part II was commissioned before the original picture opened, because test audiences responded so well that Warner Bros knew it had a big hit. Now, there are hurdles to overcome. Warner Bros threatened to scrap The Hangover Part II because of salary disputes with stars Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms. Those guys were paid less than $1 million collectively to star in the first blockbuster, but luckily for the cast, they had no options for a sequel. Their reps smartly dug their heels in, and the trio each got around $5 million against 4% of gross, which ought to mean pretty good backend paydays for The Wolf Pack. Read More »

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DC Comics Taking Superhero Titles Digital

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 2:23pm PDT

DC Comics will release Justice League Issue 1 digitally on Aug. 31, kick-starting an initiative in which the company will renumber its entire line of superhero comics from No. 1 and launch them day-and-date with their print debuts. Justice League marks the first collaboration between DC Entertainment chief creative officer Geoff Johns and DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee; the pair will introduce an origin story for the legendary superhero team. DC Comics says it is the first major American comics publisher to release all of its superhero titles digitally the same day as their print premieres.

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Fox Picks Up Antiques Reality Series

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 2:08pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

A show about antiques on Fox?! The network has greenlighted Buried Treasure, a new unscripted series starring antiques experts and appraisers Leigh and Leslie Keno (identical twin brothers of Antiques Roadshow fame), who travel across the country to help people sell collectibles lying around their homes. The series, from ITV Studios America, was created by Joe Livecchi (What Not to Wear), who is exec producing with Paul Buccieri, Tim Miller, Leigh Keno, Leslie Keno and Tim Eagan.

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‘Lincoln Lawyer’ Contributes To Roaring 4Q Results For Lionsgate

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 1:25pm PDT

Lionsgate Entertainment soundly beat analysts’ profit estimates for the quarter that ended in March, helped by income from The Lincoln Lawyer, VOD showings of its movies and revenue from its interest in EPIX. The company reported net income of $46.1 million for its fiscal fourth quarter, up from a $22.3 million loss in the same period last year, on revenues of $376.9 million, down 6%. Profits, at 34 cents a share, contrast with the 18 cents average forecast by analysts who follow the company. “Our numbers going forward should reflect growing momentum in our film business from franchises like The Hunger Games, The Expendables and What To Expect When You’re Expecting that we expect will have the capacity to generate more consistent year-to-year motion picture performance,” CEO Jon Feltheimer said. The company will discuss its financial performance with analysts tomorrow.

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FX Nabs TV Rights To ‘Hangover Part II’

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 1:06pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

FX has landed the TV rights to The Hangover Part II on the heels of the movie shattering comedy box office records this past weekend. The Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures sequel posted the biggest three-day weekend comedy debut ever, $85 million, beating The Simpsons Movie‘s $74 million. And, with a five-day cume of $138 million, it shattered all R-rated comedy records, both weekend and even first-week numbers for Sex And The City. Hangover II will be available to FX in late 2013-early 2014. FX won the rights for the movie over Warner Bros sibling Turner. Proving how far Hangover has come, the first movie was sold to TNT and TBS as part of a 13-title Warner Bros package in May 2009, before the comedy premiered and became that summer’s biggest sleeper hit. Now the sequel is the main attraction and is expected to fetch at least $24 million from the sale to FX. Read More »

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Critics’ Choice Television Awards Land TV, Online Distribution, Tap Host

Nellie Andreeva

The inaugural Critics’ Choice Television Awards — from the newly established Broadcast Television Journalists Association, an offshoot of the Broadcast Film Critics Association — will be hosted by So You Think You Can Dance host Cat Deeley. The ceremony, which will take place at the Beverly Hills Hotel on June 20, will be televised by ReelzChannel, which will run it on June 22. will live-stream the event. (VH1 is the long-time broadcast partner of the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards.) The Critcis’ Choice TV Awards are executive produced by Bob Bain. Categories include best show and performance honors in drama, comedy, reality and talk — as well as the “Most Exciting New Series” premiering this summer and fall, judging from pilots and early episodes.

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Post-Super Bowl Slot For NBC’s ‘The Voice’

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 12:45pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

After speculation that NBC’s breakout hit The Voice may land the post-Super Bowl slot in February, NBC made it official today. Given its midseason launch, the singing competition appeared the leading contender for the biggest annual series showcase. Additionally, unscripted series tend to do very well after the Super Bowl as proven by CBS’ Survivor and Undercover Boss. Here is NBC’s release:

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (May 31, 2011) – NBC will broadcast a special hour-long episode of “The Voice” following the network’s exclusive coverage of Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday, February 5 (10-11 p.m. ET; time approximate).  The announcements were made today by Bob Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment.

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Spanish-Language Channel Among Changes At Starz’s Encore

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 12:43pm PDT

Starz Entertainment announced today that its Encore premium network will add Encore Espanol to its lineup, making it the eighth channel in the family. There also will be name changes for existing channels (Encore WAM becomes Encore Family, and Encore Mystery becomes Encore Suspense), Encore Action and Encore Drama will launch in HD, and Movieplex will become a stand-alone commercial-free channel instead of simulcasting existing Encore feeds. All the changes will take effect Aug. 1. ”We have listened to our affiliates and crafted these changes to meet new opportunities in the marketplace,” said Ed Huguez, EVP sales and affiliate marketing at Starz. “These enhancements will fortify the channels and — especially for ENCORE ESPANOL — position our affiliates to capitalize on new opportunities which leverage our quality premium movie programming and grow their businesses.”

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Summit Will Put ‘Source Code’ On VOD Two Weeks Before Vid Release

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 12:40pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Los Angeles, CA May 31, 2011 – Summit Home Entertainment announced today that its Sci-fi film SOURCE CODE will be available to consumers via VOD and EST on Friday, July 8, 2011, approximately two weeks prior to the film’s home entertainment release date of Tuesday, July 26, 2011. Traditionally standard VOD and EST are available day and date with physical discs. This particular case will test the demand for viewing a bigger budgeted film digitally prior to the release of physical discs. Summit is not shortening the industry established window between a film’s theatrical release and its home entertainment debut, rather this test aligns with the studio’s ongoing efforts to find the best way to present its films digitally.

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