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PBS UK Launches On BSkyB, Virgin Media

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 10:34pm PDT

The U.S. Public Broadcasting Service, long an importer of British fare, will attempt to return the favor starting Tuesday with the launch of PBS UK, the Wall Street Journal reports. The lineup includes U.S. flagship shows PBS News Hour and Frontline; the science series Nova; the U.S. version of Antiques Roadshow (format imported from Britain); and documentaries from director Ken Burns, whose Prohibition (pictured) will air on Day 1. It’s PBS’ first major foreign foray since the service was founded more than 40 years ago. PBS UK will air on Britain’s two biggest pay-TV platforms, British Sky Broadcasting and Virgin Media. It will be available to about 14 million viewers, roughly half the country’s TV audience. PBS is late to the party because it doesn’t have a lot of money. U.S. commercial networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon, Discovery and CBS have been in the UK for years. “The top priority is to get our content to an audience that I know is interested in the work we produce,” said PBS chief executive Paula Kerger. Read More »

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Democrat, Republican Tapped For FCC Slots

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 9:33pm PDT

President Obama has nominated Democratic Senate aide Jessica Rosenworcel and Republican lawyer Ajit Pai to fill spots on the five-member Federal Communications Commission, Bloomberg reported. The FCC is operating with four after Republican Meredith Attwell Baker left to work for Comcast as it absorbed NBCUniversal. Democrat Michael Copps’ term has expired, but he can serve until the end of the current session of Congress. Pai was previously deputy general counsel at the FCC and chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Property Rights. Rosenworcel, the senior communications counsel for the Senate Commerce Committee, worked at the FCC as an aide to Copps from 2003 to 2007, and served earlier in FCC bureaus.

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Hot Trailer: ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’

Director Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin explores the relationship between a mother (Tilda Swinton) haunted by the murderous rampage of her psychopathic son (Ezra Miller). John C. Reilly plays the father. With cinematography by Seamus McGarvey, the movie based on a novel by Lionel Shriver screened in competition this year at Cannes and recently won best picture at the London Film Festival. It opens in limited release December 9.

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Fire Spoils Halloween For Magic Castle

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 6:28pm PDT

Fire erupted at Hollywood landmark the Magic Castle at midday Monday, but flames were confined mostly to the attic and no injuries were reported. Water damage may have been significant because the fire triggered sprinklers in the building. Cause of the “stubborn” fire that started at noon or shortly afterward was unknown. Firefighters were on the scene quickly and extinguished the blaze by about 1:45 PM. The private club’s website now bears the message: “The Magic Castle will be closed tonight, October 31st, due to the fire that has just occurred.” No word on when it might reopen.

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Comedies From Jenji Kohan, Gail Lerner Find Broadcast Homes

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 5:43pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

A comedy from Weeds creator/executive producer Jenji Kohan and the Showtime series’ writer David Holstein has been sold to CBS, while a half-hour from Happy Endings co-executive producer Gail Lerner and producer Warren Littlefield has landed at ABC.

The Kohan/Holstein project, which Holstein will write and Kohan will supervise, hails from Lionsgate TV, where Kohan is under an overall deal. It is described as “Sliding Doors meets Seinfeld.” Kohan and Holstein are with CAA.
Lerner’s project at ABC is based on Dr. Brandy Dunn and David Rensin’s upcoming memoir The Men On My Couch: True Stories Of Sex, Love and Psychotherapy. It centers on a young female therapist with an exclusively male client list who discovers that having too much information about what makes men tick can be complicated when she steps outside the office. Lerner, repped by Scott Schwartz, is writing and executive producing with Littlefield for ABC Studios. Lerner’s series credits also include Will & Grace, Worst Week, Back To You and Ugly Betty. The book and Littlefield are with CAA.

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NBC To Launch New Reality Show ‘Who’s Still Standing?’ In December As A Strip

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 5:20pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Once again NBC will be launching a reality series as a strip during the holiday season in December. Following in the footsteps of Deal Or No Deal, Clash Of The Choirs and The Sing-Off, new trivia competition show Who’s Still Standing? will premiere on Monday, December 19 as a weeklong strip, airing through Thursday, December 22 (each night at 8-9 PM ET). On December 26, the series will move to its regular Monday 8-9 PM slot, where it will air through January 30. NBC had previously announced that the revamped Fear Factor, which launches on December 12, will bridge The Sing-Off and The Voice with two-hour editions on Monday from 8-9 PM. The reality competition will now go down to an hour starting December 19. “This family-friendly series is perfect programming for the holiday season,” NBC’s alternative chief Paul Telegdy said of Who’s Still Standing? “The compelling and fresh format features the best elements of a classic trivia match combined with physical comedy, providing an intense competition that can be enjoyed by all ages.” Hosted by Ben Bailey (Cash Cab), the new series is based on the hit Israeli format Still Standing, which offers contestants the opportunity to win up to $1 million while competing in head-to-head trivia battles. The series had its global premiere on Israel’s Channel 10 in December 2010.

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Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Adventures Of Tintin’ To Close AFI Fest

Clint Eastwood’s ‘J. Edgar’ To World Premiere As AFI Fest Opener

LOS ANGELES, CA, October 31, 2011 – The American Film Institute (AFI) announced today that Paramount Pictures and Columbia Pictures’ THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN, directed by AFI Life Achievement Award recipient and Academy Award®-winning director Steven Spielberg, will have its North American Premiere as the Closing Night Gala of AFI FEST 2011 presented by Audi. The film is based on the internationally beloved and irrepressible characters created by Hergé and stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. It is produced by Academy Award® winners Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Kathleen Kennedy. From an original screenplay by Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish, the story follows the unquenchably curious young reporter Tintin and his fiercely loyal dog Snowy as they discover a ship carrying an explosive secret that may hold the key to vast fortune…and an ancient curse. Academy Award®-winning composer John Williams scored the film, with 2011 marking a collaboration between Spielberg and Williams that has enriched 25 of their films together.

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UPDATE: Stuntmen In ‘Expendables 2′ Fatal Accident Identified

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 4:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE, 4 PM: NuImage/Millennium Films released an update today on the accident that killed one stuntman and seriously injured another last week during filming on a 2nd Unit location for The Expendables 2 on Lake Ognyanovo, Bulgaria. Those men are now identified, and other information is clarified in the statement below.

“Our deepest condolences go to the family of Kun Lieu. His passing is tragic.  Our sympathies also go to Nuo Sun who was seriously injured as a result of the same explosion.  We have been informed his condition has stabilized. He has been transported to Munich, Germany, where he is receiving top medical care from the best specialists,” said Nu Image/Millennium Films.

Regrettably, Bulgarian language newspapers have incorrectly reported that stunt doubles for Jet Li and Sylvester Stallone were involved in the accident.  This is absolutely false and inaccurate.  At the time of the accident neither Li’s or Stallone’s stuntmen were on or near the Second Unit set, nor were any of the film’s main actors, director Simon West or any of the Main Unit crew.

Only Second Unit filming has been temporarily suspended and will resume shortly. The filmmakers continue to work with authorities investigating this accident. Main Unit production has not been interrupted and continues as scheduled.

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Bill Paxton In Talks To Direct ‘Kung Fu’

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 3:18pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Bill Paxton is in talks to direct Kung Fu, a screen adaptation  of the classic 1972 TV series that starred David Carradine. Paxton, who’s coming off a run in the HBO series Big Love, gets the job after helming two solid films: Frailty and The Greatest Game Ever Played. John McLaughlin will write the script. The film’s being put together under the Legendary Entertainment banner to shoot partly in China next summer. It is possible that this will come under Legendary East, the Hong Kong-based joint venture that involves Thomas Tull’s Legendary, but insiders said that hasn’t happened to this point.

The original series tracked the adventures of a Shaolin monk as he wanders the American West. The monk wants peace but usually winds up using his spectacular martial arts skills to kick some serious tail, in between flashbacks of his early life in the monastery. Below is a reminder of the show.

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Fox And DirecTV Reach New Carriage Agreement For Cable Networks As Well As Fox Broadcasting & Fox News Channel

Nellie Andreeva

Following marathon negotiations, and with only a few hours to spare before the midnight deadline tonight, Fox and DirecTV have reached a new carriage agreement. The deal covers not only all Fox Networks that were in danger of going dark on DirecTV systems tonight — FX, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Soccer, Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Deportes and Fox’s regional sports networks — but also Fox Broadcasting/the Fox local stations, whose deal with DirecTV was up at the end of the year, and Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, whose agreement was up at the end of January. “We both know the past ten days have been challenging, but we’re pleased that both sides could eventually come together to ensure our viewers continue to enjoy Fox programming,” the two sides said in a joint statement. No information on the financials of the deal was released. DirecTV previously claimed that Fox was seeking a 40% hike, something the other side dismissed as ridiculous. According to sources, Fox has landed a healthy double-digit license fee increases in the new deal, which was closed early because all executives involved have small children and had to go do trick-or-treating. The power of little kids in Halloween costumes …

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Starz’s ‘Boss’ Drops In Week 2 Against Game 7 of The World Series

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 3:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Airing against the blockbuster Game 7 of the World Series on Friday, the second episode of Starz’s new drama Boss averaged 391,000 viewers in its premiere airing at 10 PM, down 44% from the series debut. For the weekend, the drama starring Kelsey Grammer posted 1.1 million viewers, down from 1.7 million for the premiere.

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Sides Drawn In Fight Over New Piracy Bill

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 2:45pm PDT

Should The Feds Block Online Pirates? Lobbyists Intensify Debate Over New Bill

Congress’ mailboxes are filling up fast with letters from both sides of the fight over the Stop Online Piracy Act, which the House introduced last week. The legislation, which would empower the government to block overseas website that traffic in copyrighted content, is pitting content owners who want to protect their intellectual property against tech companies who fear the power granted to shut down sites would be too vast and could harm the Web economy. Today, the MPAA — whose chairman Chris Dodd urged support for the bill in an industry speech Wednesday — put out a statement touting the support for SOPA from the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Fire Fighters, among other groups not usually associated with the entertainment industry. “The preparedness and safety of our members depend on sound, reliable equipment,” FOP National President Chuck Canterbury said in his group’s letter to lawmakers. “Counterfeit batteries, gloves, brake pads, and other equipment put us and the public at risk. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals, tooth paste, and footwear put our seniors and our children at risk. Organized gangs use these profits from counterfeit DVDs to fund other criminal enterprises and fuel violent crime in our communities here at home.” Read More »

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Uma Thurman Exits CAA

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 2:09pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Uma Thurman has discharged CAA as her agency. No specific reason was given. I’d heard that she would be in Los Angeles next week working in some agency meetings, but am told this was a business trip long in the planning stage, and that choosing another agency isn’t on the itinerary. No meetings are lined up at present. Thurman continues to be managed by Jason Weinberg at Untitled Entertainment. Thurman recently wrapped a role in the Oliver Stone-directed Savages.

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Chris Coy Joins ‘Treme’ As New Regular

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 2:06pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Chris Coy, who just finished a recurring role on True Blood, has landed a new regular role on another HBO drama series, Treme. David Simon and Eric Overmyer’s Treme, which will return for a third season next year, chronicles the life of New Orleans residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Coy, repped by TalentWorks and Main Title, will play L.P. Everett, a young, urban reporter who is new to New Orleans. He co-starred in the Sundance movie Little Birds, which will be released next year.

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DreamWorks Animation Shares Fall On Disappointing ‘Puss In Boots’ Open

Wall Street clawed 7.8% from the company’s stock price, which ended the day at $18.55, following Puss In Boots’ lower-than-expected $34M opening weekend. Analysts acknowledged that the film suffered from the blizzard that hit the Northeast as well as an exciting World Series that included a seventh game on Friday. Still, several say they’re frustrated with DreamWorks Animation, which has lost 47.5% of its value over the last 12 months. The weekend performance is “yet another argument supporting our thesis that it is time for the company to revise its film costs structure,” says Susquehanna Financial Group’s Vasily Karasyov — who now believes Puss will gross a maximum of $136M domestically, down from his pre-opening forecast of $201M. “Average attendance per original film has declined by around 20% since 2008,” he adds, even though ”the studio still spends $135M to make a film and $170M to release it.”  Janney Capital Markets Tony Wible dropped his domestic box office estimate to $153M from $195M, saying that the weekend shows “the (Shrek) franchise is completely out of momentum.” Barclays Capital’s Anthony DiClemente says he now believes Puss will gross $145M domestically, down from $165M, although ”the film could exceed our moderated estimates” if there’s positive word of mouth. But Lazard Capital Markets’ Barton Crockett says that the anemic tracking results for the film before it opened shows ”either that the marketing did not click, that the decision to open Halloween weekend … Read More »

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Martin Campbell Eyeing ‘The Fall Guy’

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 1:03pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Director Martin Campbell is in early discussions to come aboard The Fall Guy, the movie adaptation of the Glen Larson-created 1981 TV series. The film’s being developed by producer Walter Parkes. The series starred Lee Majors as a stuntman who worked as a bounty hunter on the side, and the movie’s being scripted by Thor and X-Men: First Class writers Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz. The project was initially set up at DreamWorks, but it’s unclear at the moment if the studio will be involved. Campbell last directed Green Lantern, but it wasn’t that long ago that he helmed Casino Royale, which for my money is the best of the James Bond films.

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Ann Peacock Signs On For Brett Ratner-Helmed ‘Hunting Eichmann’

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 1:02pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ann Peacock has signed on to write Hunting Eichmann, a thriller based on the true account of Israeli agents who secretly entered pro-Nazi Argentina to capture Adolph Eichmann, known as the architect of the final solution. Tower Heist‘s Brett Ratner is attached to direct and Likely Story’s Anthony Bregman is producing with Ratner for Cathy Schulman at Mandalay Pictures. Peacock wrote Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and is currently scripting Cinderella for Universal. The project is based on the Neal Bascomb book.

Eichmann had eluded capture for nearly two decades, until the Mossad picked up his trail and dispatched a team of agents to find him. Some of them were Holocaust survivors themselves, and the eight agents risked everything to bring Eichmann back to face trial in Israel, where he was hanged in 1962. She’s repped by CAA and Principato-Young Entertainment. Bascomb’s repped by ICM.

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AFM: Indomina Group Gets ‘Cabin Fever’

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 1:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Los Angeles, CA – October 31, 2011 – It was announced today that The Indomina Group, the fast-growing U.S. and Dominican Republic based producer and distributor of film, TV and trans-media content, and leading proponent of ‘fanboy’ cinema is resurrecting the popular “Cabin Fever” franchise and will produce and distribute at least two more feature films. The announcement was made by Indomina Group Vice Chairman and CEO Jasbinder Singh Mann.

The Indomina Group has optioned the rights for two new “Cabin Fever” installments, which will be “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero” and “Cabin Fever: Outbreak.” The films will be shot back to back in the Dominican Republic in early Spring of 2012.

Jake Wade Wall (“The Hitcher,” “When Strangers Call”) has signed on to pen the screenplay for “Cabin Fever: Patient Zero.” When a cruise ship in the Caribbean collides with an abandoned research vessel, a deadly virus is unleashed. Passengers must find a way to survive before the flesh eating disease consumes them all.

“Cabin Fever: Outbereak” is being written by Adam and Deborah Marcus (“Leatherface 3D,” “I Walked With a Zombie”). In this film a doctor and his family travel to a remote Caribbean island to investigate a minor flu outbreak, only to discover a vicious flesh-eating virus that threatens everyone on the island. The family is faced with responsibility to prevent a worldwide epidemic.

Original “Cabin Fever” producer Hypotenuse Pictures is producing these next two films. Indomina Group Vice Chairman and CEO Jasbinder Singh Mann is executive producer on both films.


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Steve Buscemi: From Jersey Boardwalk To Vegas For ‘Burt Wonderstone’?

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 12:47pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: A trade report had Olivia Wilde in negotiations to play the female lead, but I’m told that while this may happen, it hasn’t yet. Judy Greer and Sarah Silverman also made strong impressions, and the filmmakers are waiting to see if Jessica Biel ends up reading for the role. New Line is smartly making the comedy for $30 million, and after Carell and Carrey, that doesn’t leave a fortune for supporting roles. Deadline reported that  a short list of actresses were in the mix for the role.

EARLIER, 12:22 PM: New Line wants Steve Buscemi to star opposite Steve Carell and Jim Carrey in the Don Scardino-directed comedy Burt Wonderstone. Buscemi has been offered the role of Anton, the longtime Las Vegas magic act partner of Wonderstone (Carell). Their split sends Wonderstone into a crisis and a collision with a rival magician (Carrey) out to steal his thunder. Buscemi hopes to fit Burt Wonderstone into his hiatus from Boardwalk Empire. If the talks work out, he would make the movie and move right into the third season of the superb HBO drama. He’s repped by WME and The Gotham Group.

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