Trio Cast In TBS And USA Comedy Pilots

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 1:50pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Barry Bostwick and Julie Hagerty have joined the cast of TBS’ half-hour comedy pilot BFF, from Conan O’Brien’s production company and Warner Horizon. It centers on Mark (Jay Malone), a family man who quits his day job … Read More »

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Disney Ups Annual Dividend Citing Record Financial Results

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 1:21pm PST

Shareholders can consider this an early holiday gift: Disney declared an annual dividend of 60 cents a share — 20 cents more than it paid last year. The cash will go out on January 18 to shareholders of record as … Read More »

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Steve Burke Likes To “Scramble The Jets” (Plus Other Stuff About The NBCU CEO)

I regularly scoff whenever out-of-town media aim their powder puffs at Big Media moguls. So it is with Philadelphia Magazine’s new profile of NBC Universal boss Steve Burke which compares him to Superman and Jason Bourne among other fictional heroes.  The article is a big wet smooch to Philly-based Comcast, and among other hilarity suggests that, if Burke succeeds, he could lift Comcast “into the lofty ranks of Apple and Google”. Huh? There’s no doubt that Burke is still very much in his honeymoon period with the media. He won’t talk to the media — yet. But the article says Burke himself will “do a round of media interviews” timed to Smash, the Stephen Spielberg-produced TV drama about the creation of a musical debuting on NBC mid-season with Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston. Burke will be ”touting the new NBCUni and its downright Comcastic marketing strength”. Here’s more from this long article which focuses almost exclusively on TV and mentions the movie studio only once:

– One of Steve Burke’s first acts when he took over as CEO of NBCUniversal last winter­ was to redecorate the walls. He dispatched a staff member into the bowels of NBC’s headquarters to select 50 or 60 photos and then Burke went through them personally, choosing Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Johnny Carson, Groucho Marx, the Seinfeld cast, and NBC’s leaders like David Sarnoff and Brandon Tartikoff. The significance of the photos, according to Comcast’s CEO Brian Roberts, was that “Steve believes as a manager and human being, that people need to have some sense of greater meaning in everything they do.”

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Publicists Name CBS TV Studios’ David Stapf Television Showman Of The Year

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 1:17pm PST

CBS Television Studios president David Stapf will receive the Television Showman of the Year award at the ICG’s Publicists Awards Luncheon, set for February 24 at the Beverly Hilton. Stapf was SVP Advertising, Publicity and Promotion at Warner Bros … Read More »

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2012 Sundance Film Festival Sets Competition Slate

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: The Sundance Institute has unveiled the U.S. and World Cinema Dramatic and Documentary competition slate for the 2012 Sundance Film Festival that runs January 19-29. There is a total of 110 features. At the Gotham Awards earlier this week, both agents and distributors felt there would a bounty of promising films with no distribution. That could make for a lot of dealmaking, which is certainly the way it went down last January in Park City.

Here are the selections in all categories:

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
The world premieres of 16 American narrative feature films.

Beasts Of The Southern Wild / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The Comedy / U.S.A. (Director: Rick Alverson, Screenwriters: Rick Alverson, Robert Donne, Colm O’Leary) — Indifferent even to the prospects of inheriting his father’s estate, Swanson whiles away his days with a group of aging Brooklyn hipsters, engaging in small acts of recreational cruelty and pacified boredom. Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Kate Lyn Sheil, Alexia Rassmusen, Gregg Turkington.

The End Of Love / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Mark Webber) — A young father unravels following the loss of the mother of his child. Cast: Mark Webber, Shannyn Sossamon, Michael Cera, Jason Ritter, Amanda Seyfried, Frankie Shaw.

Filly Brown / U.S.A. (Directors: Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos, Screenwriter: Youssef Delara) — A Hip Hop-driven drama about a Mexican girl who rises to fame and consciousness as she copes with the incarceration of her mother through music. Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Edward James Olmos.

The First Time / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jonathan Kasdan) — Two high schoolers meet at a party. Over the course of a weekend, things turn magical, romantic, complicated and funny, as they discover what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. Cast: Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville, Victoria Justice.

For Ellen / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: So Yong Kim) — A struggling musician takes an overnight long-distance drive in order to fight his estranged wife for custody of their young daughter. Cast: Paul Dano, Jon Heder, Jena Malone, Margarita Levieva, Shay Mandigo.

Hello I Must Be Going / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Louiso, Screenwriter: Sarah Koskoff) — Divorced, childless, demoralized and condemned to move back in with her parents at the age of 35, Amy Minsky’s prospects look bleak – until the unexpected attention of a teenage boy changes everything. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Blythe Danner, Christopher Abbott, John Rubinstein, Julie White. DAY ONE FILM

Keep The Lights On / U.S.A. (Director: Ira Sachs, Screenwriters: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias) — An autobiographically inspired story of a passionate long-term relationship between two men driven by addiction and secrets but bound by love and hopefulness. Cast: Thure Lindhardt, Zachary Booth, Julianne Nicholson, Souleymane Sy Savane, Paprika Steen.

LUV / U.S.A. (Director: Sheldon Candis, Screenwriters: Sheldon Candis, Justin Wilson) — An orphaned 11-year-old boy is forced to face the unpleasant truth about his beloved uncle during one harrowing day in the streets of Baltimore. Cast: Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton.

Middle Of Nowhere / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay) — When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissant, Edwina Findley.

Nobody Walks / U.S.A. (Director: Ry Russo-Young, Screenwriters: Lena Dunham, Ry Russo-Young) — Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.

Safety Not Guaranteed / U.S.A. (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) — A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and seeks to discover what he’s really up to. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni.

Save The Date / U.S.A. (Director: Michael Mohan, Screenwriters: Jeffrey Brown, Egan Reich, Michael Mohan) — As her sister Beth prepares to get married, Sarah finds herself caught up in an intense post-breakup rebound. The two fumble through the redefined emotional landscape of modern day relationships, forced to relearn how to love and be loved. Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber.

Simon Killer / France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Antonio Campos) — A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of 5 years. Once there, he falls in love with a young prostitute and their fateful journey begins. Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Constance Rousseau, Michael Abiteboul, Solo.

Smashed / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt) — Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and… drinking. When Kate decides to get sober, her new lifestyle brings troubling issues to the surface and calls into question her relationship with Charlie. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally.

The Surrogate / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O’Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist with an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy. Read More »

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IFC Acquires Samuel L. Jackson Film ‘The Samaritan’

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 1:09pm PST
Mike Fleming

New York, NY (November 30, 2011) – IFC Films announced today that the company is acquiring U.S. rights to THE SAMARITAN, starring Academy Award® nominated Samuel L. Jackson, produced by Andras Hamori and directed by David Weaver from a screenplay by Weaver and Elan Mastai. THE SAMARITAN also stars Luke Kirby (TAKE THIS WALTZ), Ruth Negga (LOVE/HATE) and Oscar nominated Tom Wilkinson (MISSION IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL).

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Back To Back Terrence Malick Movies Means No ‘Noah’ For Christian Bale

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 12:44pm PST
Mike Fleming

Christian Bale isn’t going to play the title character in the Darren Aronofsky-directed Biblical epic Noah. Bale had never been set, but it was understood he was the actor Aronofsky wanted. I’m told that it won’t happen because the dates … Read More »

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Peter Cattaneo In Talks To Direct ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Full Monty helmer Peter Cattaneo is in talks to direct Bridget Jones’s Baby, the Universal Pictures/Working Title sequel that brings back Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Shooting begins early next year. The directing assignment has been … Read More »

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Hollywood Lobbyists Say They’re Willing To Compromise On Anti-Piracy Legislation

The leading supporters of legislation to attack overseas web sites that traffic in pirated entertainment say that they’re prepared to address some legislators’ concerns about potential threats to legitimate Internet businesses. “I think you’ll see some movement,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior Executive Vice President for Global Policy and External Affairs. But he adds that it probably won’t be enough to stop tech companies from opposing the bill — known in the House as the Stop Online Piracy Act and in the Senate as Protect IP Act. Some of them “have no intention of agreeing” to a compromise, he says, because they “want the current state of play to continue.” The comments came in a briefing that included the Directors Guild of America and the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employee’s Union. They’re eager to communicate the industry’s reasons for supporting the legislation that would give federal officials the authority to block overseas web sites that sell copyrighted work without the owners’ permission. “Our opposition does not feel constrained by a need to tell the truth,” says Kathy Garmezy, DGA’s Associate Executive Director for Goverment and International Affairs. Tech companies who say that SOPA might violate civil liberties, she adds, are merely trying “to gin people up into a frenzy.”

That appears to be working. The bill has “a lot of hurdles” to overcome, O’Leary says — although he adds that “we will win this Read More »

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FilmDistrict And Sony Partner On ‘Evil Dead’ Remake

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 12:00pm PST
Mike Fleming

Culver City, CA (November 30, 2011) – Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) and FilmDistrict have partnered with Ghost House Pictures on a worldwide deal—excluding U.K. and France —for Sony Pictures to distribute the remake of Evil Dead. The announcement

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The CW’s Marketing Chief Rick Haskins Stays, Gets Expanded Responsibilities

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 11:30am PST
Nellie Andreeva

The CW’s new head of marketing is… Rick Haskins. The network’s outgoing marketing chief has agreed to stay on in a new, expended role. Haskins, whose full title was EVP Digital, New Technologies, Marketing and Brand Strategy, has been upped to EVP, Marketing and Digital Programs, a new position in which he will continue to report to the CW president Mark Pedowitz.

In his new role, Haskins will continue to spearhead all aspects of the network’s marketing and digital initiatives, as he has done since the network’s inception. Additionally, he  will oversee the development and production of original digital entertainment content for The CW’s online, mobile and social media platforms. The CW has created some original content for online and social media in the past, but that will now become a big concerted effort that will include both digital extensions of the network’s series and new standalone programming. Haskins is opening the doors for pitches and is casting a wide net for longform or shortform, scripted or unscripted, weekly or even daily programs. The CW just received a cash infusion through its deals with Netflix and Hulu, with portion of the money earmarked for boosting the network’s development funds. Some of the projects will likely be produced in conjunction with Studio 2.0, the digital division of the CW corporate sibling and major supplier Warner Bros. TV. “We are looking for new talent, people who have had a passion project that would be better suited as a digital, not TV program,” Haskins said. Still, some of the shows that start online could transition to TV. Read More »

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Zachary Levi To Host Spike TV’s Video Game Awards

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 11:28am PST

New York, NY, November 30, 2011 – Star of NBC’s “Chuck,” voice actor for “Fallout: New Vegas” and “Halo: Reach,” owner of the nerd culture site www.TheNerdMachine.com and video game super fan Zachary Levi will host Spike TV’s 2011

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Variance Acquires Indie ‘Trouble With Bliss’ With ‘Dexter’s Michael C. Hall

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 10:53am PST
Mike Fleming

Variance Films has acquired U.S. theatrical rights to The Trouble With Bliss, the Michael Knowles-directed film that stars Michael C. Hall, Brie Larson, Peter Fonda, Lucy Liu, Brad William Henke, Sarah Shahi, and Chris Messina. The film will get a … Read More »

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NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Taps Steve Dolcemaschio To Run Reality Studio

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 10:29am PST

Steve Dolcemaschio, who has been the COO of E! Entertainment for the past six years, has been picked to run NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s reality production arm Comcast Entertainment Studio. The unit, which is being renamed early next year, develops and … Read More »

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Cross Creek And Hammer Films Acquire ‘Boneshaker’ For Feature

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 10:11am PST
Mike Fleming

Los Angeles, CA – November 30, 2011 – Brian Oliver, President of Cross Creek Pictures, Simon Oakes, Vice-Chairman of Exclusive Media Group and President & CEO of Hammer Films and Guy East and Nigel Sinclair, Co-Chairmen of Exclusive Media Group (“Exclusive”) announced today that Hammer has acquired the rights to the novel “Boneshaker” by Cherie Priest for adaptation to the big screen. Project will be co-produced by Hammer and Cross Creek Pictures and co-financed by Exclusive and Cross Creek Pictures.

John Hilary Shepherd, a 2010 WGA Award nominee for his work on the first season of the Showtime series, “Nurse Jackie,” is writing the screenplay. Tobin Armbrust, Head of Production is overseeing the project’s development for Hammer Films.

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David Milch Re-Ups With HBO, Will Develop Projects Based On William Faulkner Titles

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 9:46am PST
Nellie Andreeva

David Milch is extending his relationship with HBO. Milch, whose latest series for the pay cable network, Luck, launches in January, has inked a new multi-year deal with HBO where he has been based for the past eight years. Under the new extension, in addition to executive producing Luck with Michael Mann, Milch will develop series and movies based on books by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner William Falkner. Milch’s Redboard Prods has inked a deal with the literary estate of the iconic American writer who penned novels, short stories, a play and screenplays as well as poetry and essays. The pact covers all of the 19 novels and 125 short stories in the estate, as well as other works, with the exception of those currently optioned by other parties. Milch will partner with Lee Caplin, the executor of the William Faulkner Literary Estate and CEO of Picture Entertainment Corp, to choose which works to develop, package and produce. Milch and Caplin will be executive producers of those projects, with Milch serving as the executive writer in charge of the adaptions. His daughter Olivia Milch will serve as coordinating producer. The agreement, brokered by ICM, which reps Milch, gives HBO an exclusive first crack at financing, producing and distributing the projects as movies, miniseries and series.  “We are especially pleased to continue our longstanding relationship with one of the industry’s most talented contemporary writers,” HBO president of programming Michael Lombardo said. “We know that whatever David brings to the HBO table will be exciting and innovative.” Read More »

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Ratings Rat Race: ‘Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show’ Hits High; Fox & NBC Up, ABC Down

Nellie Andreeva

It may have started off as a joke — models prancing down the catwalk in their underwear — but Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show has transcended its status as a voyeuristic spectacle for young men to become a pop culture phenomenon and a formidable franchise for CBS. Last night’s special drew an eye-popping 4.9 rating/12 share in adults 18-49 and a 5.2/14 in 18-34 at 10 PM, the highest ever for the franchise in both categories. In 18-49, Victoria’s Secret was up a whopping 35% from last year’s telecast. In total viewers, it averaged 10.3 million, the largest audience since the show made its debut on CBS in 2002. In today’s TV universe, where 10 PM viewership levels on the broadcast networks are depressed by DVR viewing and cable competition, such demo ratings are almost unheard of. I can think of only one 10 PM show that has reached such highs in the past year or so, NBC’s The Voice, which aired several 10-11 PM episodes. Overall, Victoria’s Secret posted the best 18-34 rating at 10 PM so far this season and the second best in 18-49 behind the last hour of the CMA Awards, though the difference is only a tenth of a rating point and may be erased in the finals.

CBS aired a bizarre mix of programming last night, running the gamut from kids and toddler favorite Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer at 8 PM to the racy Victoria’s Secret lingerie show at 10 PM, bridged by an NCIS rerun. Rudolph (4.0/11, 12.7 million) was up 3% from last year and ranking as the second highest-rated program of the night in 18-49 behind Victoria’s Secret. The NCIS rerun (2.9/7, 13.4 million) was the most-watched program of the night. CBS (3.8/10, 12.1 million) was No. 1 in 18-49 and total viewers. Read More »

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Time Warner Picks Digital Marketing Exec Laura Lang To Run Time Inc

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 9:04am PST

NEW YORK — Time Warner Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes today announced the appointment of Laura Lang as Chief Executive Officer of Time Inc. Ms. Lang will join the company from Digitas Inc. where she served as Chief Executive Officer since 2008. She will become CEO of the largest U.S. publishing company, home to such iconic brands as PEOPLE, TIME, INSTYLE, and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, in January 2012.

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‘Warrior’ Co-Writer Lands Book Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Tambakis, who teamed with Gavin O’Connor and Cliff Dorfman to write the underrated film Warrior, has sold his novel Swimming With Bridgeport Girls to Simon & Schuster for spring 2013 publication. This comes at a time when Tambakis … Read More »

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