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.
David Costabile has landed a big new recurring role on the upcoming season of USA Network’s breakout series Suits. He will play Jessica (Gina Torres) and Harvey’s (Gabriel Macht) former managing partner Daniel Hardman, a brilliant lawyer who, following the death of his wife, returns to the firm, which had been run by Jessica in his absence. In another major boss addition to a USA series, Rebecca Creskoff (Hung) has joined the upcoming season of CIA drama Covert Affairs, playing Annie’s (Piper Peribo) new boss/mentor. She is with Innovative and Steven Levy.
Mahershala Ali has been added to the cast of David Fincher’s Netflix drama series House Of Cards. The political thriller stars Kevin Spacey as Rep. Frank Underwood, the Majority Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives who after being passed over for Secretary of State hatches a plot to bring down the new president. Ali, repped by IFA and manager Carolyn Govers, will play successful lobbyist Remy Danton. Ali, who is also recurring on Alphas and Treme, will next be seen in the feature The Place Beyond The Pines.
The logo for Man Of Steel was released this week on the film’s Facebook page, and it confirms that director Zack Snyder and writers Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer are creating a moody, atmospheric and edgy Superman for Warner Bros. From the moment the first stills were released last summer, it was clear this summer 2013 tentpole would be darker than previous versions. The iconic “S” that has been part of the Superman look from the time Joe Shuster designed him in 1932 is still there, but with a more ominous look. Henry Cavill takes over as Clark Kent/Superman, with Amy Adams on board as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent and Michael Shannon as the villain, General Zod. Warner Bros is keeping most plot details under wraps as it builds anticipation for what it hopes will be a blockbuster franchise on the order of its Nolan-helmed Batman movies.
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 contemporary thriller featuring the classic characters from Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon – FBI agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and his mentor Dr. Hannibal Lecter — who are re-introduced at the beginning of their budding relationship. This marks Slade’s return to NBC where he directed the pilot for freshman drama Awake last season. He most recently helmed the Lifetime drama pilot American Housewife starring Melanie Griffith.
Freelance journalist Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor.
At the risk of sounding ghoulish, here’s the first thing many people will want to know: The 88-year-old owner of Viacom and CBS seemed relatively alert and steady in his appearance today to celebrate his becoming the 2,467th person to have a star on the walk. Sumner Redstone‘s health is an ongoing concern in business circles, and he raised new questions this month when he said that he wouldn’t show at Viacom’s shareholders’ meeting. (He changed his mind but used a curtain to prevent attendees from seeing him enter or leave the stage.) Today, though, all appeared well in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel as Redstone talked about his journey to becoming a billionaire mogul. It was “torturous, long, hard and sometimes difficult, but it was always exciting and always rewarding,” he said. His most devoted acolyte, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman (pictured at right with his boss), said that “Sumner, the King of content, is an elemental force of nature” as well as ”brilliant and brash.” The ceremony attracted several media business dignitaries including CBS chief Les Moonves and his wife, TV anchor Julie Chen; Paramount Pictures CEO Brad Grey; Barbara Davis, the widow of one-time 20th Century Fox owner Marvin Davis; and producers Brian Grazer, Arnold Kopelson, and Robert Evans.
The agreement guarantees him an annual base salary of $1M, and a target annual incentive bonus of $2M. In contrast to his previous deal, from 2009 when AOL was still part of Time Warner, the new terms provide fewer benefits ”including a reduction in the amount of cash severance benefits, the payment of cash severance benefits over time rather than in a lump sum, and the elimination of supplemental life and disability insurance benefits,” the company says in an SEC filing. But Armstrong’s stock options give him a chance to score big if AOL’s price rises: Half of the options vest when the 20-day average stock price rises at least 20% from the average in the 20-day period before he receives his grants. He can score the other half when AOL’s stock prices stays up at least 30%. He’ll also receive stock if AOL meets unspecified targets for its shares in the period from the beginning of this year to the end of 2014. One of AOL’s largest shareholders, Jeffrey Smith’s Starboard Value, has been hammering the company to take actions that might increase its market value. AOL shares are -3.5% over the last 12 months.
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.
EXCLUSIVE: After an extensive search, the last pilot lead this season has been cast. Zachary Abel (Make It Or Brake It) has landed the lead role in the CW’s Mark Schwahn/J.J. Abrams drama pilot Shelter. Also cast in the Warner Bros TV-produced pilot is Malese Jow (The Vampire Diaries). Shelter is set at historic New England summer resort Shelter Bay where the new and returning staff attend to the practical, emotional and often comical needs of the guests while navigating friendships, rivalries and romances of their own. Abel, repped by APA and Caliber Media, will play the hopelessly romantic Mitchell Taylor, a 23-year-old former local baseball hero who now works the concierge desk at the Shelter Bay Inn. Jow, repped by Sweeney Entertainment and Todd Rubenstein, will play Morgan, Shelter Bay’s resident party girl.
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 be directed by Bryan Singer, is described as a reinvention of the 1960s sitcom about a family of “monsters” – vampires, werewolves and Frankenstein and their “plain” cousin (Wakefield) — with striking visuals in the vein of Fuller’s ABC dramedy Pushing Daisies. Wakefield will play Marilyn, Lily’s beautiful niece and the only “normal” Munster (which makes her rather abnormal). Saved from being devoured by her own mother as an infant, she lives with the Munsters but has not inherited any of their special attributes. A college student who believes in good manners and congeniality toward the new neighbors, she regularly clashes with Grandpa (Izzard), but she gets along well with Aunt Lily and Uncle Herman, as well as with her young cousin Eddie. Beverly Owen created Marilyn in the first episodes of the original series, replaced by Pat Priest for most of its run.
This marks the second U.S. gig for Wakefield following her starring role on another NBC pilot, 2010′s David E. Kelley dramedy Legally Mad. Well known for her stage work in London, Wakefield is probably best known to American audiences for her starring role on the BBC miniseries …
MTV’s sibling MTV2 network has greenlighted a reboot of veteran game show Hollywood Squares. Titled Hip Hop Squares, the new show will premiere May 22 and star Nick Cannon; Jackass‘ Bam Margera; Kat Graham; DJ Khaled; rappers Fat Joe, Biz Markie, Ghostface Killah, Mac Miller and MGK; and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ LaMarr Woodley, among others. Radio DJ Peter Rosenberg will host, Nicole Lyn as DJ. “The show will refresh an iconic format and create a fun, dynamic series that’s unpredictable, heavy on personality and much more ‘party’ than ‘game show’,” said Paul Ricci, Head of Programming for MTV2. Hip Hop Squares is under license from CBS Television Distribution, which owns rights to the original.
Josh Hartnett has left CAA, and he has been making the rounds of agencies looking for new representation. Even though they might be unexcited by his recent movies like Bunraku and Girl Walks Into A Bar, the agencies are all over him. Who can blame them? This is a strapping young guy who can act and is only 33. I thought he was going to be a big star when he made Pearl Harbor and especially Black Hawk Down. While occasional films reminded of his potential — how great was Hartnett in 30 Days Of Night, maybe the coolest vampire movie since From Dusk Till Dawn? – for the most part he has leaned toward indie, artsy fare.
I can still remember in the early 2000s when Hartnett was offered the Superman role by Warner Bros in a three-picture deal that potentially could have paid him $100 million. He turned it down because he didn’t want to be defined by that iconic role. Sometimes shuffling the deck with reps works, but only if the actor doesn’t reject the occasional big picture to go along with the art films, something Ryan Gosling is now doing. Agents tells me that a couple of good studio roles puts Hartnett right back on the map, and that is why they’re racing to sign him. He’s …
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.”
The horror film WER just got Simon Quarterman set as the male lead. He’ll play Gavin Flemyng and stars opposite AJ Cook, the Criminal Minds star who’s also starring in the film. Quarterman reunites with The Devil Inside helmer William Brent Bell, who wrote the script with Matthew Peterman. Morris Paulson, Peterman and Steven Schneider are producing. WER is financed by FilmDistrict, Sierra/Affinity and the Incentive Filmed Entertainment fund. The film begins production in April in Romania.
WER brings a filmmaking style similar to The Devil Inside, but applies it to a different horror mythology — the werewolf. Cook plays a lawyer out to get an acquittal for a man charged in the brutal murder of an American family, and despite his gentle demeanor, she discovers he’s got a bit of a bark to him when the moon is full. Quarterman is represented by ICM and Elevate Entertainment. Cook is repped by Intellectual Artists Management and Paradigm.
Novelist Kristin Hannah’s ‘Home Front’ Sparks Chris Columbus, While ‘The Things We Do For Love’ Moves Abigail Breslin
EXCLUSIVE: Novelist Kristin Hannah has made screen deals for two of her novels. 1492 Films has acquired Home Front, with Chris Columbus attached to direct, and produce with his 1492 cohorts Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe. The book, a bestseller for the sixth consecutive week, is a dramatic exploration of the toll war takes on an ordinary American family. This story is told from the vantage point of a woman who, in addition to being a wife and mother, is a Blackhawk pilot in the National Guard who is called to serve a tour of duty in Iraq. 1492 most recently produced the Oscar-nominated The Help, after acquiring the Kathryn Stockett novel long before it became a publishing phenomenon among female readers. The book was published by St. Martin’s Press.
“I was blown away by this book, I simply could not put it down,” Columbus said. “It told the story about the cost of war from a completely unique perspective: what happens when a wife and mother is called into action and how her family adjusts to life without her…and to a changed life upon her return. Home Front not only portrays the great sacrifices our military makes for us, but depicts so powerfully the hidden sacrifices their families make as well.”
At the same time, Hannah’s novel The Things We Do For Love is being developed by SPB Productions as a …