EXCLUSIVE: NBC is expanding its relationship with The Voice star Adam Levine to the scripted side. After a bidding, NBC has nabbed a single-camera comedy project, with the Maroon 5 frontman executive producing and Jake Kasdan attached to executive produce and direct. The ensemble comedy set at a karaoke bar, which has received a script commitment plus penalty, is being produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. I hear at least three networks wanted the project, which is said to organically blend comedy with a musical element, but NBC was very aggressive, largely because of the involvement of its reality star Levine. This marks the first major NBC buy from 20th TV since the studio’s former EVP Jennifer Salke was named NBC entertainment president earlier this month.
TCA: Ken Burns Thinks ‘Boardwalk’ Will Be “Huge Hit”: “Americans Love To Watch People Who Get To Kill People Who Piss Them Off”
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
The panel session closing out PBS’ two-day rollout at TCA — for Ken Burns’ latest historical overview, Prohibition — was notably both preceded by a beer-and-wine dinner and followed by a cocktail party. The elfin but always eloquent Burns admitted during the session that he got into the spirit of the TCA event by having his first drink in “quite some time.” But he suffered no effects from his alcohol when asked his thoughts on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire that deals fictitiously with the same subject matter as his documentary that’s scheduled to premiere on Oct. 2, 3 and 4. And it turns out he’s a fan of the drama that’s produced in part by Martin Scorsese. “(HBO) has another huge hit on their hands in the mode of The Sopranos,” Burns said, “and they’re not that dissimilar. Americans always love to watch people who get to kill people who piss them off…and women who take their clothes off at the drop of a hat. They’ve done their homework. (The show) is very complex and nuanced…We’re always amazed when we’ve done films that fit into the zeitgeist of the moment.”
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA
At an afternoon TCA panel promoting the new season of PBS’ Masterpiece series, exec producer Rebecca Eaton was asked to explain a story in Britain’s Daily Mail that charged the acclaimed period drama Downton Abbey (recently nominated for 11 Primetime Emmys) lost two hours of content in its journey from the UK to America. Sounding unusually contentious, the typically unflappable Eaton explained, “I’m glad you brought this up. This was a story in the Daily Mail. Do I have to say anything more? And they got it wrong and they made a big deal out of it, that we’d taken two hours out. It wasn’t true. Our version was overall 20 or 25 minutes shorter and had to do with (advertising) and the need for different formatting. We didn’t chop it up to make it more palatable to the dummies in the American audience — as it was implied.” Eaton was quick to add, “By the way, that reporter’s name was Christopher Hastings.”
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
Bob Weide, producer of the forthcoming four-hour Woody Allen documentary that carries the working title Seriously Funny — The Comic Art of Woody Allen and premieres Nov. 20-21 as part of PBS’ American Masters series, appeared this morning on a TCA panel to hype this show. Flanking him were Manhattan star Mariel Hemingway and Oscar-winning Mighty Aphrodite star Mira Sorvino as well as American Masters creator and exec producer Susan Lacy. Notably absent from the panel: Mr. Woody Allen himself.
Hardly a shock.
“He’s in Rome right now shooting a film,” Weide reasoned.
“Or he’d be here,” Lacy quickly added.
“Right. Sure he would,” Weide shot back. “As a matter of fact, I have Mister Allen right here backstage … along with Marshall McLuhan.”
BURBANK, Calif. — Continuing its record-breaking run, Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” has surpassed $1 billion at the worldwide box office, becoming the first in the series—and just the ninth film in cinema history—to reach that benchmark. The announcement was made today by Warner Bros. Pictures President of Domestic Distribution, Dan Fellman, and President of International Distribution, Veronika Kwan-Rubinek.
Adding to the records already achieved, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” tied the record for the fastest climb to $1 billion. The finale of the blockbuster motion picture franchise crossed the billion dollar mark on Sunday, July 31, only its 17th day in release in North America, as well as most international markets. The film has now earned an estimated $318.46 million domestically and an estimated $690 million on the international side for a worldwide total to date of approximately $1.008 billion, already making it, globally, the top-grossing film in Warner Bros. Pictures’ history.
‘Cowboys & Aliens’ Narrowly Edges ‘Smurfs’ $36.4M Vs $35.6M For Weekend B.O. Win; ‘Crazy Stupid Love’ Opens #5 With $19.3M
MONDAY 12 PM: It’s now official. According to today’s actuals, DreamWorks/Universal’s Cowboys & Aliens narrowly beat Sony Pictures’ Smurfs for the weekend win $ $36,431,290 vs $35,611,637.
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 6TH UPDATE WRITETHRU: If I hear the words “too close to call” one more time this weekend coming from a Hollywood executive looking at early weekend numbers… DreamWorks/Universal’s Cowboys & Aliens ticked up slightly from Friday to Saturday, while Sony Pictures’ The Smurfs ticked down slightly. So it all depends on Sunday whether the Western/scifi mashup or the little blue guys get bragging (and marketing) rights as the #1 opening movie. Right now both Uni and Sony are projecting Cowboys and Smurfs tied at $36.2M for the weekend. Let’s see when the dust clears for Monday’s actuals. But a Sony exec emails me, “If we beat them or even are close Saturday, we’ve got them as our Sunday will definitely be better.”
What is crystal clear is that Smurfs is overperforming way beyond expectations while Cowboys & Aliens is way behind expectations to the point of tanking. What’s more humiliating than Hollywood execs overestimating the opening for Cowboys and having it fall short? Having their well-pedigreed motion picture with big Hollywood writers (Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman), stars (Daniel Craig & Harrison Ford), director (Jon Favreau), and producers (Steven Spielberg & Ron Howard & Brian Grazer) beaten at the box office by Smurfs. Especially with Smurfs playing in 355 fewer North American theaters than Cowboys but charging higher 3D ticket prices. Smurfs even beat Cowboys on CinemaScores: ‘A’ vs ‘B’. The other major studio release was Warner Bros’ rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love which received ‘B+’ CinemaScore and opened to the normal $19.3M for the weekend. This is another big summer weekend with overall moviegoing $175M which is +20% from last year.
1. Cowboys & Aliens (DreamWorks/Universal) NEW [3,750 Runs]
Friday $12.9M, Saturday $13M, Estimated Weekend $36.2M
This much-hyped high concept pic from DreamWorks and Relativity and Imagine and Universal (distributing domestic only with Paramount taking foreign) couldn’t do even the predicted $45 million for the weekend, but it didn’t even get to $40M either. ”Cowboys & Aliens did not get any late night young male business — hence the reason Universal’s estimates were so far off,” a rival studio exec explained to me Friday night. I’ve been saying for months this actioner should have been done as a comedy! But that idea was only briefly discussed and quickly rejected. Problem is that the budget has been pegged by insiders at a low of $163M (because of filming rebates) and a high of $200M. That’s partly because Cowboys endured a tortured 14-year development history involving more than a dozen writers. (Just five writers received screenplay credit after the Writers Guild not surprisingly held an arbitration trying to figure out who did what.) So here’s yet another Hollywood case study of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
Awareness had been strong for the title and interest had been best with older males. But tracking had been lagging especially with women of all ages until last Thursday when it popped up. This weekend’s exit polls showed the audience was 53% male vs. 47% female, with 63% of moviegoers age 30 years and older vs. 37% who were under age 30. Good thing Universal is only on the hook for 25% financing with DreamWorks taking 50% and Relativity Media 25%. DreamWorks oversaw production, and the marketing was managed as a partnership among Universal and DreamWorks. The film itself is based on a 100-page Platinum Studios graphic novel created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg and written by Fred Van Lente and Andrew Foley.
It’s going to be hard for anyone involved in the movie to shrug off responsibility for it underperforming because even the studio was gushing pre-release about its pedigree “because of its deep bench of heavyweight filmmakers and stars, and the most fan-engaged because of involving them directly at every step, particularly through director Jon Favreau, the big-ticket director most active in social media and direct interaction with his followers. Every step of the campaign kept many hands on the wheel, shared by Universal, DreamWorks and the filmmaking team, who all worked in close collaboration on every decision.” Oops! As for marketing, the first teaser trailer was placed on Part 1 of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows last November, followed by a Super Bowl teaser. The first full trailer made its debut on American Idol on April 14th and in theaters on April 29 with Universal’s big hit Fast Five. The TV campaign included season finales for Top 10 Nielsen shows and sports events.
The publicity campaign launched at last year’s Comic-Con even though the film had only been in production for a few weeks, Favreau used his Iron Man connection with fans to debut nearly 8 minutes of footage, including the first alien attack on the pioneer town in the film. While Harrison Ford made his first-ever appearance to a huge reception. This year’s Comic-Con featured a full-frills world premiere featuring Favreau as well as Spielberg, making his own first appearance at the Con. But it’s interesting how the movie disappointed despite favreau whoring himself out to The Hollywood Reporter (which nobody reads) and Ain’t It Cool News (which nobody believes). The director even dragged along producer Ron Howard and producer/co-writer Bob Orci to some events, showing more and more footage each time. I heard from Universal that Daniel Craig was a royal pain in the ass when it came to doing publicity, but he did enough with Harrison Ford to merit one magazine cover line, “When Bond Met Indy”. (Barf!)
The usual talk show circuit was highlighted by Jimmy Kimmel Live‘s “Cowboys & Aliens Week” promotion which had Favreau revisiting his Dinner For Five cable show and personally interviewing his lead cast members and filmmakers for a series of online segments. Favreau also helped create and star in a special skit with YouTube vlogging personality Freddie Wong, who specializes in action-packed and parody videos especially popular with boys. The film became the first ever to be a primary sponsor of a Nascar across multiple races as well as a tie-in with Coca-Cola in theater concessions via drink cups, and popcorn bags and buckets over the course of the summer in 8 of the top theater chains in North America. Other promotions with leading brands included 7-Eleven, Nestlé, Comcast, NCM/Sprint, Pemmican, and Hilton. And in addition to all that, the film made a significant Hispanic outreach across specialized media and publicity, highlighted by a closing night screening at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. Well, you can’t fault anyone for lack of trying.
1. The Smurfs – 3D (Sony) NEW [3,395 Runs]
Friday $13.4M, Saturday $12.7M, Estimated Weekend $36.2M
Sure, it’s easy to look down your nose at The Smurfs, but the studio tells me it was brought in out of turnaround from Paramount by no less than Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman/CEO Michael Lynton. Animation was overseen by Bob Osher and Hannah Minghella (who is now president of production for Sony’s Columbia Pictures) while live action was shepherded by Doug Belgrad. Marketing was taken in hand by Jeff Blake and Marc Weinstock. Hollywood never expected Smurfs to have such a phenomenal Friday except Sony. ”The studio has always had confidence in the franchise,” an exec gushed to me. Exit polls showed that 35% of this weekend’s audience was general moviegoers while 65% was kids with parents. Of the family sample, 40% were parents of children under age 12 and 25% were children under 12. The overall breakdown showed the film skewed female with 64% of the audience moms and/or their daughters. The general age breakdown showed 45% was under 25 and 55% was 25+. Overall, 3D accounted for 45% of all ticket sales.
The cartoon first launched in Europe in 1958 so the pic was tracking well overseas after Global Smurfs Day was organized by Sony in Brussels, Athens, The Hague, Dublin, Mexico City, Panama City, Warsaw, Moscow, Johannesburg, London, and NYC (which celebrated Smurfs Week including lighting the Empire State Building Smurf blue in a special event with UNICEF). There was even a small town in Spain where the village volunteered to paint their entire town Smurf blue. And Smurfs fans set a new Guinness world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as the little blue guys within a 24-hour period in multiple venues. “That, plus a huge opening in Spain, makes for a pretty Smurfy opening with worldwide prospects for France, Belgium, and Germany opening next week,” a Sony exec says.
Look, I don’t get the appeal of garden gnomes or troll dolls or Smurfs for that matter. They creep me out, frankly. But the little blue guys were first drawn by Belgian artist Pierre “Peyo” Culliford for a comic book. The “Schtroumpfs,” as they were initially called, have lasted 50 years and generated comics, books, television series, films, videogames, live shows, and figurines. The Smurfs movie also took a long time to come to the Big Screen. In 1980, the late (and great) Brandon Tartikoff developed the Hanna-Barbera show on NBC for Saturday mornings. It ran 8 years. In 1997, producer Jordan Kerner sent the first of a series of letters to Lafig, the licensing agent for the Smurfs brand, as a first step to making a movie. And in 2002, after seeing Kerner’s adaptation of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Peyo’s heirs gave the OK. Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, and Hank Azaria, the roon/live action hybrid was directed by Raja Gosnell. Screenplay credits went to J. David Stem & David N. Weiss and Jay Scherick & David Ronn with story by J. David Stem & David N. Weiss.
Sony focused its marketing first and foremost on introducing this brand to a whole new generation of kids who were not familiar with it. “The campaign used a two-pronged approach: one track targeted kids and children while the other hit the baby boomers who grew up with the hit NBC series and had a nostalgic connection to this brand from their youth,” a Sony exec says. NBCUniversal, as the longtime home of the Smurfs’ TV show, aired Sony’s custom animation and custom promos including Smurfs-branded spots, vignettes, in-show integrations, logo animations, sneak peeks, and digital extensions during the past two weeks. One showed the Smurfs taking over an NBCUniversal control room. There also were Nickelodeon sneak peaks during the Saturday Morning Animation Block hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.
In the consumer marketing arena, 3rd party partners included McDonald’s planned the year’s largest global campaign in over 30,000 restaurants. Post cereal, which created the original Smurf Berry Crunch in 1983, is back again with a limited edition blue and white breakfast cereal and collectible box featuring two sides: one with 3D movie graphics and the other with the classic Smurf cartoon art. Gourmet Trading Company put the Smurfs into the nation’s grocery store produce aisles as the company featured the Smurfs on its packages of blueberries.
3. Captain America – 3D (Marvel/Disney/Paramount) Week 2 [3,715 Runs]
Friday $7.8M, Saturday $9.9M, Weekend $24.9M (-62%), Estimated Cume $116.7M
Ten days in North American release, Marvel/Disney’s latest superhero Captain America: The First Avenger is still running slightly behind Thor which took in $119.5M by this time vs $117.5M for the Chris Evans adventure. Paramount is gleeful over its 6th consecutive release over $100M in the U.S., claiming no studio has ever had more than 4. This weekend, pic opened strong in Latin America and Asia (but not Japan and China). International numbers around noon.
4. Harry Potter/Hallows Pt 2 - 3D (Warner Bros) Week 3 [4,145 Runs]
Friday $6.6M, Saturday $8.5M, Weekend $21.9M, Cume $318.4M
Yes, the Harry Potter franchise finale keeps dropping (-54% this 3rd domestic weekend in release) and now appears front-loaded. But what a load!
5. Crazy, Stupid, Love (Warner Bros) NEW [3,020 Runs]
Friday $7M, Weekend $19.3M
Another summer weekend, another summer rom-com — this time from Warner Bros. Better reviewed than most, Crazy, Stupid, Love should have “a large multiple and legs,” according to the studio, adding, “Watch for excellent mid-week business as well.” The better-than-average casting of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone and Steve Carell and Julianne Moore signaled this wasn’t the usual lamefest with dopey dialogue. And the marketing smartly played off that. “We sought to highlight the films originality, and position it as a funny and deeply felt and refreshing look at how relationships make people crazy,” a Warner Bros insider tells me. Branding the title and giving it meaning was also key. Studio married “caught” moments from the film with bold colors and repetitive copy saying “This is crazy”, “This is stupid”, “This is love.” The campaign kicked off with trailers in April and May and played all through the summer. The very aggressive TV campaign started in May with season finales. “We used longer length spots in the beginning to convey the multiple story lines, and used a heavy amount of reviews as soon as we had them to define the film as something out of the ordinary.” In terms of publicity, the cast appeared together on the MTV Movie Awards. To build word of mouth, the studio held over 200 screenings in over 60 markets and hosted tastemaker events in key cities designed to tap into that elusive circle of trendsetters especially online. Fans were asked at each screening to tweet if they liked the movie and fan the film on Facebook. Two weeks before release, Warner Bros pushed out 3 online content pieces on Apple. And in keeping with the strategy of pushing out as much content as possible, the final push included an original video shot with Steve Carrell for Funny or Die which appeared this week of release.
6. Friends With Benefits (Screen Gems/Sony) Week 2 [2,926 Runs]
Friday $3.2M, Saturday $3.4M, Weekend $9.3M (-48%), Cume $38.2M
7. Horrible Bosses (New Line/Warner Bros) Week 4 [2,510 Runs]
Friday $2.2M, Saturday $2.8M, Weekend $7.1M, Cume $96.2M
8. Transformers 3 – 3D (Paramount) Week 5 [2,604 Runs]
Friday $1.7M, Saturday $2.3M, Weekend $5.9M, Estimated Cume $337.8M
9. Zookeeper (Sony) Week 4 [2,418 Runs]
Friday $1.3M, Saturday $1.6M, Weekend $4.2M, Estimated Cume $68.7M
10. Cars 2 – 3D (Pixar/Disney) Week 6 [1,763 Runs]
Friday $671K, Saturday $921K, Weekend $2.3M, Estimated Cume $182M
In October 1995, a week after the murder trial against him ended with a shocking not-guilty verdict, O.J. Simpson agreed to do a TV interview with NBC News. Then, only hours before the live sit-down, Simpson backed out. Now TMZ is reporting that Casey Anthony, whose trial over the murder of her daughter garnered media attention of the size of Simpson’s and her recent not-guilty verdict sparked a similar outcry, has too opted not to do a TV interview right away. That despite the fact that her lawyer had been negotiating with potential suitors for the past two weeks. Those negotiations were plagued by accusations of bidding by the networks’ TV divisions, prompting most of them to issue statements that they won’t pay for an interview with Anthony. You can’t blame the networks for going after Anthony — notoriety is a big audience draw. Barbara Walters’ 1999 interview with Monica Lewinsky was seen by 74 million viewers, a record for a journalist’s interview. NBC News’ 1995 interview with Simpson had been projected to fetch Super Bowl-size audience of 90+ million.
House star Hugh Laurie today commented on the departure of original cast member Lisa Edelstein. “We all miss Lisa very much,” Laurie said at TCA following a panel for his upcoming PBS special, Great Performances: Hugh Laurie: Let Them Talk — A Celebration of New Orleans Blues. …
TCA: ‘Raymond’ Creator Slams TNT For Axing Ray Romano’s ‘Men’, ‘Jackie’ EP Talks About Pitching To ‘Roomful Of Fear’
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
On a lively and colorful afternoon TCA panel promoting the fall PBS four-hour series America in Primetime, Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal blasted TNT for its recent decision to cancel Raymond star Ray Romano’s latest series, dramedy Men of a Certain Age. “Those idiots put six episodes on in November and then waited until July to schedule the next six as if they were trying to make sure the audience didn’t connect to it,” Rosenthal said. “Then they cancel it because the audience doesn’t connect to it. That’s why I say the only thing I hate about this business is the business part.”
Rosenthal’s zingers often punctuated the discussion, in which he, Nurse Jackie co-creators Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem, Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and America in Primetime exec producer Tom Yellin delved into what makes primetime tick. The idea behind the PBS series is to promote the idea that all primetime scripted entertainment is built on the foundation of all shows that have come before it. In the series, Yellin notes that Murphy Brown creator Diane English originally received a note from CBS that the title character shouldn’t be a recovering alcoholic in her 40s but a 30-year-old woman coming out of a spa. “I got the same note on Raymond,” Rosenthal quipped, “that he be a 30-year-old woman coming out of a spa.”
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
PBS’ president and CEO Paula Kerger sounds optimistic about the future of the pubcaster. During PBS’ portion of the TCA summer press tour she indicated that the government funding crisis that was exploding the last time she faced critics in January was somewhat less severe now as the political football has been tossed elsewhere. “At this critical moment,” Kerger said, “the American people reached out to their elected officials and were responsible for preserving federal funding for public broadcasting.” What also helped was the fact that there is no other TV network devoted to the arts as cable networks like A&E and Bravo, once covering the same space, have moved on to reality fare like Storage Wars and The Real Housewives. “Some of the cable networks have moved in a slightly different direction,” Kerger said. “Bringing arts programming to the American public is how A&E started. The ‘A’ in A&E once stood for “Arts.” Bravo (at the beginning) was very much focused on arts content instead of the kinds of programs they’re doing now — which are also about creativity but again a different type of creativity. So for us to be focusing on the arts gives us a unique vantage point that no other media organization has.”
There’s a new development in that Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office crackdown on Hollywood managers and agencies it believes are running afoul of the state’s labor law, the Krekorian Talent Scam Prevention Act of 2009, which prohibits charging advance fees. Four talent managers have been accused of charging improper fees, the highest-profile one being Nick Roses. Now this week Roses, the one-time 21-year-old wunderkind talent manager based in Studio City, entered a no-contest plea to one count of operating an advance-fee talent representation service and one count of failing to file the proper $50,000 bond with the State Labor Commission. Judge Yolanda Orozco sentenced Roses to serve 90 days in jail or perform 45 days of Community Labor, and to 36 months probation. During that time, Roses is ordered to have no involvement with any talent training service, talent counseling service, or talent listing service anywhere, including outside the state of California. Roses also was ordered not to be involved with any “camp”, education facility, or day care facility attended by anyone under the age of 18. Failure to abide by the terms of probation will result in Roses being sentenced to at least 6 months of jail. In addition to the above, Roses is ordered to pay $10,700 in total restitution to the three complaining witnesses, and to pay $2,000 investigative costs to the City Attorney’s Office.
TCA: MTV Renews ‘America’s Best Dance Crew’, Touts ‘Beavis & Butt-Head’ Reboot
MTV is doubling its bet on Lauren Iungerich, creator/executive producer of the network’s new comedy series Awkward, which debuted 10 days ago to solid ratings. MTV has handed …
Tuesday night is a big one for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They hold their annual election for president (expect current prexy Tom Sherak to be easily re-elected for his third and final one-year term) and they will choose the 2011 recipients of the Governors Awards, which will be some combination of Honorary Oscars, The Irving G. Thalberg Award and/or the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. At that meeting, Sherak could also tell the board who is going to produce the 84th Annual Academy Awards among the other things that may come up, including proposals to further regulate Oscar-season campaigning and parties (a move inspired by and initiated in part because of my Jan. 7 Deadline article on the issue, I am told by an Academy insider involved with the new proposals).
Even though recipients of last year’s 2nd Annual Governors Awards, (Jean-Luc Godard, Eli Wallach, Kevin Brownlow and Thalberg winner Francis Ford Coppola) weren’t announced until the last week in August a year ago, Sherak told me he is determined to get this done at the early August meeting this year in order to give Governors Awards producer Phil Robinson more time to put all the logistics of the event together; the ceremony is set for Saturday Nov. 12 and is not televised.
This all leads to the annual game of who will and who should get these prized awards, which were created in 2009 as their own separate show so more of them could be handed out and there would be more time to celebrate the careers of the recipients than during the time-crunched Oscar show. In the recent past, before the creation of the event, the Academy’s board had been limiting presentation of the Honorary awards to one per show. The Jean Hersholt Award to Jerry Lewis was the last given, on the (81st) Oscar telecast. Since then, they have handed out the maximum of four of these honors at each Governors Awards dinner. Lauren Bacall, Roger Corman, cinematographer Gordon Willis and Thalberg winner John Calley received the inaugural awards.
In terms of who will win them this year, it’s anybody’s guess as each of the 43 Governors of every branch has an opportunity to put a name in contention if they wish and a simple majority is generally all that’s required to make someone a winner. It’s clear the Academy likes diversity, repping all corners of the motion picture arts and sciences, and it seems like they have been favoring people who are still active. Wallach may have been 95 when he finally got his Honorary Oscar last year, but he is also still working.
For years, every time the board set about voting for these honors some subtle (and not-so-subtle) lobbying would take place. Veteran stars like Glenn Ford and Richard Widmark were often mentioned but never got the call despite annual letters and pleas on their behalf. Doris Day’s name always comes up in speculation about Honorary Oscars, but it’s never happened and the reclusive 87-year-old star hasn’t made a film since 1968. Director Jules Dassin had his supporters at one time on the board but went to his grave without getting the big honor. On the other hand, a large profile piece on producer Dino De Laurentiis that was (coincidentally?) placed in the L.A. Times on the morning of the selections in 2000 certainly couldn’t have hurt his chances when he was voted the Thalberg later that day.
Longtime bicoastal acting coach David Legrant — whose generations of students included Tobey Maguire, Steve Martin, Danny Glover, Bernadette Peters, Alyson Hannigan and Sarah Gilbert, to name just a few – has died in Los Angeles. He was 87. According to news reports about him, Legrant had a knack for distilling his years’ worth of knowledge into memorable phrases like, ”If you’re going to paint a picture, are you going to paint it with your own eye or someone’s else’s?” that encouraged actors to take charge of their scene and their craft. Maguire, who was 18 when he met Legrant, often said the teacher helped him both as an actor and as a person. Born in 1923 in Los Angeles, Legrant came into contact with showbiz because his father was a carpenter in the film industry. A flight engineer in World War II, Legrant used the G.I. Bill to study acting. He performed on a local television show and appeared in small movie roles, but he opted to move to New York in the late 1940s to pursue stage work. He studied at the Actor’s Studio with Lee Strasberg during a golden age of the institute and was in the same class with Marilyn Monroe. Legrant taught in New York until 1978, when he moved back to Los Angeles.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
UPDATED: During the MTV Networks session at TCA, MTV EVP and programming head David Janollari announced that the network has renewed for a seventh season its reality series America’s Best Dance Crew, executive produced by American Idol judge Randy Jackson. The network also said it will bring back Fantasy Factory for a fifth season. And NBC’s comedy classic Friends is being picked up by Nick at Nite for nightly run beginning Sept. 6. It kicks off with a 10-hour marathon that night and runs weeknights at 10 thereafter.
After being feted at Comic-Con in San Diego last weekend, it was a smaller and less enthusiastic but equally supportive audience that met Mike Judge this afternoon for a panel promoting the new incarnation of his iconic toon Beavis and Butt-head to MTV beginning Oct. 21. Flanked by MTV Networks and Logo Group president Van Toffler, Judge demonstrated why he may be the most unassuming creator-producer in show business history. Typical was his response to a critic’s query about why he was bringing the series about the perpetually maturity-challenged nerds back now. “Well,” Judge began, “I like doing it. We’d talked about doing another (Beavis and Butt-head) movie over the years. But, you know, ‘King of the Hill’ was done, I thought we had a couple of pretty good characters here, maybe we should do this while we still could. I don’t know, it just felt right.”