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‘Boardwalk Empire’s Shea Whigham In ‘Silver Linings Playbook’

Mike Fleming

Boardwalk Empire‘s Shea Whigham has joined the cast of David O Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook alongside Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro. Whigham just wrapped the second season of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and will next be seen in the upcoming Take Shelter and the Sean Penn-starrer This Must Be The Place. He’s repped by CAA and Principal Entertainment.

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NBCUniversal Pumps Up Owned & Operated Stations, Adds 130 New Jobs

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 8:25am PDT

NEW YORK, NY – October 31, 2011 – NBCUniversal today announced a number of enhancements at its 10 owned television stations that are the result of a major investment the company is making to further strengthen the news gathering operations at the stations and ensure they have the resources necessary to effectively compete in their markets. Valari Staab, President of the NBC Owned Television Stations, said the 10 stations are hiring more than 130 new people, producing more local news, launching new consumer and investigative units in five markets and making other enhancements.

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Producer Steve Stark Named President TV Production For MGM

By | Monday October 31, 2011 @ 7:28am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Veteran TV producer Steve Stark has joined MGM as President, Television Production. He will oversee all aspects of television and content development and production, including the development of new TV projects and projects based on titles from the MGM library. He will report to Roma Khanna, MGM’s President Television Group and Digital. “Steve is an extraordinary talent with a tremendous track record and deep relationships in the television industry,” said Khanna. Stark spent the last two-and-a-half years spearheading his own Steve Stark Prods, which was most recently based at Universal Television with an overall deal he signed in January. Through his company, Stark serves as an executive producer on USA Network’s Fairly Legal and executive produced NBC’s The Event. Stark previously served as president of Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Prods for seven years, developing and executive producing such series as Medium and The Game. This marks Stark’s return to the studio executive ranks — he served as EVP of Development at Columbia Tri-Star TV and as SVP of Current Programming at Paramount Network TV before joining Grannmet. Stark’s student project at Northwestern — a variety pilot starring his classmates, including Julia Louis-Dreyfus — landed him an invite to Hollywood to collaborate with producer Bob Banner and syndication veteran Al Masini on a new show. That show became Star Search, on which Stark worked for four years, making … Read More »

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‘Shame’, ‘Tinker, Tailor’ And ‘Tyrannosaur’ Lead Brit Indie Award Nominations

The three UK movies have received seven nods apiece for this year’s Moët British Independent Film Awards, due to take place in London on December 4. Each of them is battling for Best British Film Award, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor/Actress. The nominations were announced in London this morning. We Need To Talk About Kevin and Kill List each received six nominations, with Submarine following closely with five. Rebecca Hall (The Awakening), Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre), MyAnna Buring (Kill List), Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur) and Tilda Swinton (We Need To Talk About Kevin) are vying for Best Actress. Leading men competing for Best Actor include Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor), Michael Fassbender (Shame) and Brendan Gleeson (The Guard).

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Disney-ABC Strikes New Streaming Deals With Netflix And Amazon

Disney’s announcement with Netflix this morning extends and expands a current deal, giving the streaming service rights to several shows 30 days after the last episode of the season airs. The one with Amazon is new and includes more than 800 library episodes. Both include prior seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and all episodes of Lost. They also both landed ABC Family’s The Secret Life Of The American Teenager and Phineas and Ferb. Beyond that there are a lot of differences, with Amazon landing prior seasons of Marvel’s animated shows including X-Men Evolution and Netflix getting ABC Studios’ Army Wives. Here’s the release for Netflix:

BEVERLY HILLS and BURBANK, Calif., Oct. 31, 2011 — Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Disney-ABC Television Group today announced that they recently entered into an extension of their previous existing licensing agreement. The extension allows Netflix to continue to stream hundreds of library episodes from ABC Studios, Disney Channel and ABC Family over the Internet. As part of the deal, Netflix is also adding new content to its lineup of Disney-ABC series and TV movies.

The agreement adds to the growing selection of content that can be streamed from Netflix in the United States. Episodes from new seasons of current Disney-ABC series will be made available to Netflix 30-days after the last episode of each season airs. Among the series and TV movies extended as part of the deal include:

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Hot Teaser: ‘ParaNorman’

By | Sunday October 30, 2011 @ 11:19pm PDT

Just in time for Halloween, here’s a teaser for the stop-motion animated ParaNorman, from LAIKA and Focus Features, the partners that made and released the deliciously dark Coraline. Directed by Sam Fell (Flushed Away, The Tale of Despereaux) and Chris Butler (who also wrote the screenplay), it’s about a boy who speaks to the dead and is the only one who can save his town from a curse of zombies, witches, ghosts and grownups.  Voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee (Norman), Tucker Albrizzi, Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick and a bunch of other interesting people. It’s slated to open August 17, 2012. Enjoy!

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Relativity Responds To Critics Of Filming In China: ‘We Would Never Knowingly Do Anything To Undermine’ Human Rights

By | Sunday October 30, 2011 @ 9:50pm PDT

Responding Sunday evening to criticism of Relativity Media for filming scenes from the upcoming buddy-debauchery movie 21 and Over in a province of China where a blind activist has been held under brutal house arrest, the company issued this statement:

“From its founding, Relativity Media has been a consistent and outspoken supporter of human rights and we would never knowingly do anything to undermine this commitment. We stand by that commitment and we are proud of our growing business relationships in China, through our partnership with Sky Land, its strategic alliance with Huaxia Film Distribution Company. As a company, we believe deeply that expanding trade and business ties with our counterparts in China and elsewhere can result in positive outcomes.”

Criticism in the news media from activists in China and via Twitter in the U.S. appeared to catch executives at Relativity off guard, with the dust still settling from recent but unrelated industry fallout over bad publicity surrounding Hilary Swank’s appearance at Chechnya tyrant Ramzan Kadyrov’s birthday party. Reports surfaced earlier Sunday about human rights activists protesting Relativity’s decision to film the now already completed scenes of 21 and Over in the Chinese city of Linyi. The city is tainted by its location in Shandong province where blind activist Chen Guangcheng remains under house arrest in his village of Dongshigu and reportedly subjected to government thuggery. Read More »

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CBS Buys Adaptation Of Hit Israeli Comedy ‘Life Isn’t Everything’

By | Sunday October 30, 2011 @ 8:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

CBS has bought Life Isn’t Everything, a comedy based on the successful Israeli sitcom of the same name (Hahaim Ze Lo Hakol in Hebrew). The creator of the original series, Daniel Lappin, will be involved in the writing of the U.S. version. Lappin will co-write the script for CBS with comedy veteran Mike Sikowitz (Friends). Sony Pictures TV, where Sikowitz has an overall deal, will produce with Reshet, the Israeli company whose Channel 2 broadcasts the original series. Sikowitz is already in business with CBS and Sony TV – he serves as an executive producer on Rules Of Engagement. Noa Tishby, who was involved in bringing to the U.S. In Treatment, the Israeli series that sparked U.S. networks’ interest in formats from the Middle Eastern country, shepherded Life Isn’t Everything‘s trip to Hollywood. She is executive producing with Sikowitz, Lappin and an executive from Reshet.

CBS’ multi-camera Life Isn’t Everything is about a middle-aged, recently divorced couple who were bad at marriage and discover they are now really bad at divorce – messy, can’t help but being involved in each others’ lives, still have sex, etc. “It is a romantic comedy about a couple who are divorced but can’t get out of each other’s lives,” Lappin said. Added Tishby, “you can’t divorce your ex.” Read More »

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Bruce Helford On ‘Anger Management,’ Working With Charlie Sheen And His Return To TV After A 3-Year Break

By | Sunday October 30, 2011 @ 5:44pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

After a 3-year break, The Drew Carey Show creator/showrunner Bruce Helford is making a splashy return to the business with Anger Management, the new Charlie Sheen sitcom which just sold to FX with an initial order for 10-episodes, which if successful will be followed by a 90-episode pickup. Helford will write/run the series, based on the 2003 Adam Sandler-Jack Nicholson movie about a mild-mannered man (Sandler) ordered to attend group anger-management sessions led by a volatile therapist (Nicholson). But while the movie centered on Sandler’s character, the series will be about the therapist, played by Sheen, and his life. “It’s all about Charlie’s life as a therapist who has as many or more problems than his patients,” Helford said. “He is a guy who has anger issues and wants to work on them.” Like Sheen’s previous series, Two And A Half Men, where the lead character was tailored to reflect Sheen’s image at the time of the show’s creation – a bad-boy swinging bachelor – Anger Management too will incorporate elements from Sheen’s current life. His character has an ex-wife whom he is close to as well as a 13-year old daughter. “He is always on call for his family and his patients,” Helford said, adding that Sheen’s character won’t only see his patients in the office but will also do appointments in real-life social situations.

Helford landed the gig on Anger Management thanks to his extensive comedy showrunner experience, his instant rapport with Sheen … and Skype. Helford’s last project before Anger Management was the 2008 Fox pilot Starting Under starring Bernie Mac. Three months after shooting the pilot, Bernie Mac passed away, and his sudden death had a profound effect on Helford. “I said to myself: life is too short, I should be hanging with my kids after so many years of barely seeing them because of crazy 18-hour work days.” He did just that, but now that both of his children are in college, he started thinking about returning to television. (He also got a nudge from his wife who became increasingly frustrated by him hanging around the house for so long.) But he didn’t plan to do it right away and took a summer vacation. Helford, who doesn’t fly, had just come off a ship in New York after a trip to the U.K. to visit his daughter in college when he got a call about a meeting with Sheen and producer Lionsgate TV on Anger Management. “Can you fly back to meet with Charlie?” they asked. “Not really,” was Helford’s answer. “I’m always in the wrong place,” he laments. Lionsgate set up the first meeting between Helford and Sheen via Skype while the writer-producer was still in New York. It took him 4 days to drive from New York to Los Angeles. He used that time to flesh out his idea for the show and kept in touch with Sheen via Skype as the two had hit it off right off the bat. Like anyone else, Helford was aware of Sheen’s controversial media blitz this past spring that resulted in the actor’s firing from Two And A Half Men. But when he met him, Helford found him to be the same Charlie Sheen he remembered from their days at ABC when the two crossed paths a number of times, mostly when doing promos for Spin City, where Sheen replaced original star Michael J. Fox, and The Drew Carey Show. Read More »

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Bill Maher & Seth MacFarlane Croon Sinatra

By | Sunday October 30, 2011 @ 1:56pm PDT

At a party tossed by Family Guy creator/runner Seth MacFarlane this week, MacFarlane was joined onstage by Bill Maher to belt out the Frank Sinatra tune Star. It turns out both guys have decent chops, even after a cocktail or two. Of course, that shouldn’t be a huge surprise in the case of MacFarlane, who last month released his own album of big band standards and showtunes. Watch:

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The Coming Of (Digital) Age Of The CW

By | Sunday October 30, 2011 @ 1:51pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

For its entire existence, the CW has been battling criticism that its target young (and primarily female) demographic is way too narrow to support a broadcast network. The drumbeat grew louder as TV audiences started migrating online, with younger viewers leading the charge, further eroding the CW’s modest ratings. In a first step to try to stop the bleeding, the network last year started bundling its on-air ad sales with those for the streaming its shows on the CW’s Web site with a full commercial load. The move alleviated the problem a bit but didn’t change the reality that the CW was a network that was losing money and was going dark for extended periods of time including the entire summer. Part of the problem is the fact that the CW airs serialized young-skewing dramas. They don’t repeat well, leading to stretches of dismal ratings for the network with no originals and generating virtually no syndication value for the CW co-owners CBS and Warner Bros. whose TV studios produce all of the network’s scripted series.

Within the last couple of weeks, the network was part of two major online distribution deals that take major steps towards resolving both issues. First came the 4-year pact CW’s co-parent companies CBS and Warner Bros. signed with Netflix for streaming previous seasons of the network’s current series. The deal, which analysts … Read More »

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ACLU Sues LA Sheriffs’ Dept Over Alleged Harassment Of Photographers

By | Sunday October 30, 2011 @ 1:43pm PDT

Asserting that harassment of photographers taking pictures in public places is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, the ACLU has filed suit in federal court in Los Angeles against the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. Video shows photographer Shawn Nee’s encounter with a deputy who stopped Nee for taking photos of then-newly installed turnstiles at the Metro station in Hollywood. Photographer Greggory Moore was surrounded by eight deputies on a public sidewalk in Long Beach while photographing traffic for a story on Distracted Driving Awareness Month — across the street from a courthouse.  We’ll leave to commenters any exploration of the ironies within that situation. Sheriff’s Dept. contends deputies were just doing their jobs investigating suspicious activity.

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Hilary Swank Fires Manager Jason Weinberg

I’ve confirmed that the actress has axed her manager of 8 years Jason Weinberg, the founding partner of Untitled Entertainment whom she thanked in her 2005 speech for winning the Best Actress Oscar for Million Dollar Baby. The firing was first reported today by the UK’s The Independent On Sunday newspaper. It writes that Swank also is removing CAA agents Amie Yavor and Josh Lieberman from her team and is upset with the tenpercentery’s Lauren Hale as well. But the paper says Swank is not exiting CAA where her partner of five years, John Campisi, is an agent. So what’s the reason? The horrible publicity which Swank received after human rights organizations outed that she’d accepted a fat fee to walk the Red Carpet and make a speech and give greetings to Chechnya’s tyrannical president Ramzan Kadyrov at his birthday party earlier this month even though he’s been linked to brutal abuses. ”There’s a world of s–t going down at CAA over it…,” a knowledgeable source emails me. It sure seems that a lot of people exercised terrible judgment, first and foremost among them Swank herself. Read the entire backstory from The Independent‘s Los Angeles corespondent Guy Adams here.

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Snow Ices Box Office: ‘Puss In Boots’ #1, ‘Paranormal’ #2, ‘In Time’ #3, ‘Rum Diary’ #4

By | Saturday October 29, 2011 @ 10:01pm PDT

SATURDAY PM, 5TH UPDATE: Jeez, Jeffrey Katzenberg must have enemies in higher places than anyone thought possible. Because studios are telling me this weekend’s freakishly early East Coast snowstorm will definitely take a bite out of box office. (On the other hand, maybe JK has friends in higher places because now no one will know what his movie would have done on its own.) There’s no doubt that DreamWorks Animation’s 3D Puss In Boots distributed by Paramount is finishing the weekend #1 with anywhere from $32.2M to $35M. That’s the range among my sources. So it remains to be seen when the actuals come in on Monday if the cat broke the Halloween weekend record of $33.6M set by Saw III in 2006. The Shrek spinoff’s opening was looking in line with 2011′s other non-summer animated 3D hits like Rio ($39M, also 3D) and Rango ($39M but only 2D) before the snow. But one rival studio exec snarked to me Friday night, “What will DWA think about an opening in the $30sM? Dunno, but it could be more like Puss In Cement Boots.”

Fox’s sci-fi thriller In Time with Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried is soft considering the wide release. It’s clear now that Justin, while talented on SNL, is no movie star. FilmDistrict’s The Rum Diary with Johnny Depp also is performing … Read More »

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‘Mad Men’ Creator Matthew Weiner Tells All (…To His Big Sister)

By | Saturday October 29, 2011 @ 9:21pm PDT

Deadline frequent contributor Allison Hope Weiner interviews her younger brother, Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, this month on this fascinating hour-long video about his show’s origins, his difficult contract negotiations, and his inspirations when writing the series, as well as Big Media issues and a lot of personal reminisces with his big sis:

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AFM: Robert De Niro, John Travolta Team For ‘Killing Season’

By | Saturday October 29, 2011 @ 2:50pm PDT
Mike Fleming

LOS ANGELES, CA – Millennium Films, Corsan Pictures and FilmEngine will begin production January 16 on “Killing Season,” starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta. Mark Steven Johnson (“Ghost Rider,” “Daredevil”) will direct from a script by Evan Daugherty (“Snow White and the Huntsman”).

“Killing Season” is an action movie set in the Appalachian Mountains about an American military veteran (De Niro) who has retreated to a remote cabin in the woods. When a rare visitor, a European tourist (Travolta), appears on the scene, the two men strike up an unlikely friendship. But in fact the visitor is a former Serbian soldier bent on revenge. What follows is a tense, action packed battle across some of America’s most forbidding landscape that proves the old adage: the purest form of war is one-on-one.

Nu Image/Millennium is taking the lead on international sales at the American Film Market this week, in consultation with Corsan. For FilmEngine, Anthony Rhulen is producing and Jake Wagner is exec producer.

“I’ve loved this project from the moment I read Evan Daughterty’s remarkable script,” said Corsan CEO Paul Breuls. “It’s thrilling, imaginative, unexpected and dominated by two extraordinary characters on a collision course. I’m very pleased this film is moving into production and to be partnered with Avi Lerner and his team at Millennium.”

“We’re excited to be co-financing and co-producing this film with Corsan, and to be working again

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Doris Day To Receive Career Achievement Honor From L.A. Film Critics

By | Saturday October 29, 2011 @ 1:03pm PDT

Doris Day, the actress whose girl-next-door image helped her to become a  huge Hollywood box office draw in the 1950s and ’60s, has been named to receive this year’s Career Achievement Award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Although Day stopped acting in the mid-1970s and became a high-profile animal rights advocate, she cultivated a reputation as Hollywood’s virginal sweetheart in a series of romantic comedies including, from 1959, Pillow Talk with Rock Hudson (for which she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar) and That Touch of Mink (1962). The versatile Day also starred in the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much as well as her own network sitcom (The Doris Day Show, 1968-73) before abruptly leaving the business. Previous recipients of LAFCA’s Career Achievement Award include Paul Mazursky, Jerry Lewis, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Richard Widmark, Robert Mulligan, Arthur Penn, Sidney Lumet, Robert Altman, Ennio Morricone and Conrad L. Hall. Day is the first woman to be honored since Dede Allen in 1999.

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‘Iron Man 3′ Joins Movie And TV Production Exodus To North Carolina

By | Saturday October 29, 2011 @ 1:14am PDT

“The rumors are true,” a North Carolina TV station announced when the governor flew to the hometown movie studio to break the news this past week. “Tony Stark and the third installment of the Iron Man movie franchise will fly into Wilmington.” Great news for North Carolina maybe but for the Los Angeles movie and TV community it felt like a punch in the gut. Thanks to the state’s generous 25% production credit, North Carolina’s EUE/Screen Gems Studios sealed the deal. Manhattan Beach-based Marvel Studios considered making the third movie in Los Angeles just like the first two, but the 25% credit proved too hard to resist. California has a 25% credit — which excludes big budget studio productions. Marvel also considered Michigan and New Mexico but North Carolina won out because of the size of the facility as well as the tax credit. Read More »

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