It’s a sweet deal, especially when you consider that Discovery shares lost 2.8% of their value in 2011 and three of the company’s four other top execs made less than they did in 2010. Zaslav’s compensation, reported in an SEC filing, consisted of nearly $3M in salary, $20.3M in stock awards, $23.9M in option awards, $4.8M in non-equity incentives, and $430,379 in other compensation. The last category includes personal use of aircraft, car service and security services. Zaslav’s pay indicates that the Discovery board considers him a rock star: He made nearly nine times more than the average for the other four top execs — up from 7.1 times their average compensation last year. Corporate governance experts consider it a red flag when the top earner makes more than three times the average for his or her closest associates. The company filing notes that former COO Peter Liguori — who left the company at the end of the year — received a $250,000 bonus for his brief tenure as CEO of the company’s struggling OWN joint venture with Oprah Winfrey. That amount was guaranteed; he was not granted the additional $250,000 that was left to the discretion of the Compensation Committee. But he doesn’t have to wait for the Barney’s warehouse sale before he buys more business suits: His severance package includes a $1.1M base salary, $1.3M bonus, and $212,837 in stock options.
Feature director David Slade (Eclipse) is set to direct the pilot for Hannibal, NBC’s 13-episode series from Gaumont International Television, written and executive produced by Bryan Fuller and executive produced by Martha DeLaurentiis. The project is described as a …
UPDATE, 2:45 PM: Olbermann’s fighting back: “Keith’s termination is baseless,” his lawyer Patricia Glaser says. “We will sue them for their improper conduct. They made a bad decision. They can expect a bad result.” And here’s Olbermann’s statement, an apology to viewers for joining Current which he says was a “sincere and well-intentioned gesture on my part, but in retrospect a foolish one”:
I’d like to apologize to my viewers and my staff for the failure of Current TV.
Editorially, Countdown had never been better. But for more than a year I have been imploring Al Gore and Joel Hyatt to resolve our issues internally, while I’ve been not publicizing my complaints, and keeping the show alive for the sake of its loyal viewers and even more loyal staff. Nevertheless, Mr. Gore and Mr. Hyatt, instead of abiding by their promises and obligations and investing in a quality news program, finally thought it was more economical to try to get out of my contract.
SAG-AFTRA MERGER APPROVED! 81.9% Of SAG Ballots Returned Voted Yes; 86.1% Of AFTRA; Single Union Effective Immediately
BREAKING… 3RD UPDATE: The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists are now one union effective immediately. The announcement was greeted with huge cheers, applause, hugs, and the mass singing of “We Shall Overcome” inside the headquarters. SAG President Ken Howard and AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon, both strong advocates of the merger, announced the referendum results today in Los Angeles saying, “SAG-AFTRA is born.” Howard continued, “This is the day that we have decisively chosen a path of unity and strength. This is the culmination of years of work. People have worked for this goal for decades. We stand on your shoulders. The members wanted merger, they wanted it as soon as possible and, member, you can be assured that you were heard. You have sent a message to our employers. You have said loud and clear this is not a fractured group but a united group. We are committed to helping to shape the future of the industries. In a single day our future has become brighter.”
After the announcement Howard told Deadline that “relief” was his persnal reaction to the refrendum result. “This merger was so necessary to the future of actors and I wanted it be resoundingly approved,” he said. “That they approved it with such a massive mandate is a huge answer for us going forward.” The single union now represents more than 150,000 actors, announcers, broadcasters journalists, dancers, DJs, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists and other media professionals. Their work can be seen and heard in theaters, on television and radio, sound recordings, the Internet, games, mobile devices and home video.
Immediately, the AMPTP which represents Big Media’s studios and networks stated about the merged union: “The AMPTP looks forward to a cooperative relationship with the new performers’ organization as we endeavor to address the challenges of operating in an industry undergoing transformation.” The Directors Guild as well as the Writers Guild West and East also sent congratulations.
One nagging issue which no one at today’s podium wanted to address with substance was the future (and possible merger) of the SAG and AFTRA pension and health plans. Said SAG Executive Director David White who also has been on the Board Of Trustees of the SAG P&HP: “I think today we are celebrating but we are going to begin the process. But we don’t have much more to add at this point.” And Ken Howard said, “I think they will get a lot stronger over time. We were able to clear up a lot of misconceptions. Let me give you an example, vested pensions are protected by federal law. So they will not be diluted.”
The referendum results were:
105,368 number of ballots mailed.
81.9 percent yes votes
53 percent returned
65,744 number of ballots mailed.
86.18 percent of yes votes
51.7 percent returned
Big cheers erupted when Ken Howard said, ”Let me introduce my esteemed SAG-AFTRA Co-President Roberta Reardon, who said, “What an incredible culmination of two years of hard work. We stand as one. This new union will give us the collective voice and presence to protect our present contracts. Finally we are able to speak with one unified voice. In life there’s rarely reward without risk. There is power in a union.”
Asked by Deadline what they had to say to the anti-merger forces, Reardon replied: “I encourage them to stay involved. It’s a big tent.” To which Howard said, ”Ditto”.
AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth said: ”This is a historic day not just for our members but the American labor movement… Today’s vote is a bold statement that union solidarity is alive and well and will not be denied.”
The first convention of the new ‘SAG-AFTRA’ union is scheduled to be held in Los Angeles around September 2013. Click here to see the merger agreement document. The results, tallied by Integrity Voting Systems, were also streamed live online Friday afternoon. A result of 60% or more from the valid returned ballots cast in each union’s vote was required for the merger to be approved. More than 131,000 ballots were sent out on February 27th to members of both unions. The deadline for ballots to be returned to be counted was 10 AM PST today. Union members were encouraged to approve the merger by their respective national boards who claimed that “one union will increase our bargaining leverage”. But anti-merger forces led by Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Anne-Marie Johnson, and other high profile critics cited concerns about other issues, including the lack of a formal study to determine how SAG’s and AFTRA’s health and pension plans would be handled after the merger. The anti-merger group went to court to stop the vote. But on March 28, Judge James Otero dismissed their effort. However, Otero did allow the anti-merger force’s claims that the SAG board breached fiduciary duties in the proposed merger and of breach of contract to continue in the courts. But today’s referendum culminates a merger effort that has been rejected in the past by SAG members several times.
Here is the SAG-AFTRA announcement:
LOS ANGELES (March 30, 2012) — The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Screen Actors Guild are pleased to announce that members of both organizations have overwhelmingly voted to approve a merger, creating a new entity, SAG-AFTRA. SAG members voted 82 percent in favor of the merger. AFTRA members favored the merger with 86 percent, exceeding the 60 percent threshold needed for both unions’ membership for passage.
UPDATE: Warner Bros has added one more Goldwyn-produced title, John Ford’s 1937 drama The Hurricane starring Dorothy Lamour, Jon Hall, and Raymond Massey. That brings the deal total to 74 films.
PREVIOUS, 1 PM:
Burbank, Calif. (March 30, 2012) – Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group (WBHEG) and The Samuel Goldwyn, Jr. Family Trust have entered into an agreement whereby Warner will license the North American distribution rights to some 70 titles from the Samuel Goldwyn Films library. The deal was announced today by Jeff Baker, Warner Executive Vice President and General Manager, Theatrical Catalog, and Samuel Goldwyn, Jr., founder of The Samuel Goldwyn Company, and the son of pioneer motion picture mogul Samuel Goldwyn.
The agreement represents nearly every film produced by the legendary producer, Samuel Goldwyn, including some that have never before been available to the home entertainment market. Titles could be released on Blu-ray Disc™, DVD, electronic sell-through and VOD as early as the 4th quarter of this year. Specific announcements to follow.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in Pasadena would have turned pay TV upside down today if it had sided with consumers in a suit that took on virtually every major company in the business including NBCUniversal, Viacom, Disney, Fox, Time Warner, Comcast, and DirecTV. The plaintiffs alleged that the companies exploit subscribers by only selling programming in packages — forcing people to pay for services they don’t want in order to receive must-have channels including broadcast networks, USA, and ESPN. But the court rejected the argument, upholding a lower court decision, saying the key issue is whether pay TV companies thwart antitrust laws. Although the consumers argued that bundling reduces their choices, and increases prices, “these allegations show only that plaintiffs have been harmed as a result of the practices at issue, not that those practices are anticompetitive,” the justices said.
EXCLUSIVE: British actress Charity Wakefield is set to co-star opposite Eddie Izzard in NBC’s Munsters reboot Mockingbird Lane. The pilot, written by Bryan Fuller and to …
Unified Pictures, Bron Studios, Unanimous Entertainment and Media House Capital have just started production on A Single Shot, the David M. Rosenthal-directed thriller that stars Sam Rockwell, William H. Macy, Jeffrey Wright, Joe Anderson, Jason Isaacs, Kelly Reilly, Ophelia Lovibond, and Melissa Leo.
An adaptation of the Matthew F. Jones novel, A Single Shot is the story of a dark and deadly game of cat and mouse, prompted by the tragic death of a young girl. Rockwell plays a wild-game poacher who makes a fatal mistake that leaves him with a suitcase full of blood money and hardened killers on his trail. As the hunter becomes the hunted, John Moon is forced to defend his family and fight for his life. Jones wrote the script. Unanimous Entertainment’s Chris Coen is producing alongside Unified Pictures’ Keith Kjarval and Bron Studios’ Aaron L. Gilbert.
“It’s so rare to find a script that legitimately works in both the sense of genre and of art,” Rosenthal said. “When I first read A Single Shot, its cinematic potential blew me away. The movie literally unfurled in my mind like a long flip book and I’ve been riding a wave of excitement ever since. Add to that a cast of actors whose work I absolutely revere, and you can understand why my heart is pounding to do this film justice.”