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Fox Renews ‘Hotel Hell’ For Second Season

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 5:57pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Fox has given Gordon Ramsay’s newest reality series Hotel Hell a second-season order. After having its premiere date pushed a couple of times, Hotel Hell posted the highest-rated series debut of the summer and ranks as this summer’s No. 1 new series among Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 as well as other demos. “With Hotel Hell, Gordon has proved once again that he’s one of the most successful and appealing personalities on television,” said Fox’s president of alternative entertainment Mike Darnell. “He delivered an amazing new show for us this summer that fans immediately embraced.”

Hotel Hell, in which Ramsay whips failing hotels into shape, joins Ramsay’s MasterChef, which was renewed for a fourth season last month, and his flagship Hell’s Kitchen, which received a two-season pickup in April. Hotel Hell, whose freshman season finale airs Monday, is produced by Ramsay’s One Potato Two Potato Inc.  Ramsay, Ben Adler, Patricia Llewellyn and Adeline Ramage Rooney serve as executive producers.

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Ben Affleck’s Latest ‘Argo’ Debuts Big As Major Oscar Contender: TELLURIDE

Pete Hammond

The 39th Annual Telluride Film Festival officially gets underway tonight. But the fest provided a “sneak preview” of its highest profile movie: director/star Ben Affleck‘s pulse-pounding true life thriller, Argo, which made its world debut this afternoon for patron and sponsor passholders and selected press. Although not announced as an official part of the Telluride lineup, it was strongly tipped to come here and Affleck introduced today’s screening: “You are the first paying people to see the film. I know you didn’t literally pay, but in my heart you did. This is actually one of the few film festivals that really is about seeing movies instead of just walking around and talking about them.” Judging from the reaction during the end credits as well as talk on the streets afterward, Warner Bros and Affleck not only have a hit but a slam-dunk major Oscar contender in several categories. At last February’s Oscars Governors Ball, this film was still in post. But a top Warners exec predicted to me that it could be the studio’s best shot at top Oscar attention in 2012. Looks like that bold prediction was right.

Jump-starting the long 6-month awards season, which officially begins with the Venice/Telluride/Toronto film festivals, this supremely well-crafted studio film is the kind that Academy members (and there were several on hand for this screening) eat up. “It’s got my vote as one of the 10,” a voter told me after the screening. It also shows the movie industry in a favorable light, which should further impress Oscar voters. So, unless I am crazy, expect nominations for picture (producers are Affleck, George Clooney, and Grant Heslov), director for Affleck, screenplay For Chris Terrio, and supporting actor for Alan Arkin and possibly Bryan Cranston. Affleck also could figure in the crowded actor contest. Other possibilities are editing, score (Alexandre Desplat), and Rodrigo Prieto’s stirring cinematography.

Related: Hot Trailer: Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’

Telluride has a recent tradition of debuting at least one solid Best Picture contender. Recent winners Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech, and The Artist all started their awards season right here in the Rockies. And Argo has already laid claim to one of those spots if reaction holds. Next stop is Toronto a week from today Read More »

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‘The Hobbit 3′ Scheduled For July 18, 2014

Warner Bros and MGM Pictures jointly announced today that the final film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy adaptation of the JRR Tolkien novel is now titled The Hobbit: There and Back Again. It will be released worldwide on July 18, 2014. All three films in the trilogy are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. The Studios also announced the title of the second installment in the franchise, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, which will be released on December 13, 2013. The first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, opens this holiday season on December 14, 2012. Under Jackson’s direction, all three movies are being shot in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Additional filming, as with principal photography, is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.Shot in 3D 48 frames-per-second, the film trilogy will be released in High Frame Rate (HFR) 3D, other 3D formats, IMAX, and 2D.

Related: Comic-Con Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Return To Middle Earth With ‘The Hobbit’ And How 48 Frames Can Save Moviegoing

Dan Fellman, Warner Bros Pictures President of Domestic Distribution said in a statement, “We wanted to have a shorter gap between the second and third films of The Hobbit Trilogy. Opening in July affords us not only the perfect summer tentpole, but fans will have less time … Read More »

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Several TV Series Book Recurring Actors

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 4:30pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Angelique Cabral has booked a recurring role on the second season of ABC’s Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23. She will play Fox Paris, a woman who is also a junior analyst at the financial firm where June (Drema Walker) has just been hired. Cabral, repped by Pakula/King and Karen Forman Management, is currently co-starring in the feature The Perfect Family with Emily Deschanel.

Desperate Housewives alum Steven Culp is back on ABC with a recurring role on Grey’s Anatomy, playing Dr. Parker, a top dog doctor. He is with Domain and manager Miriam Milgrom.

Maureen Sebastian has landed a potentially recurring role on the new NBC drama Revolution, playing the wife of Aaron (Zak Orth) in flashbacks. She is repped by Buchwald/Fortitude and manager Susan Yoo.

Wendy Crewson (Saving Hope, The Vow) has booked a recurring role on ABC’s Revenge, playing Helen, a powerful business executive. She is repped by Domain and manager Perry Zimel. 

Tara Summers has been cast in a recurring role on FX’s Sons Of Anarchy. She will play Karen Dunhill, who is working alongside Tara (Maggie Siff). Summers also will recur on the TNT David E. Kelley drama Monday Mornings reprising … Read More »

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William Petersen Poised To Exit Hitman Drama Pilot ‘Hurt People’

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 3:02pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: William Petersen’s return to television is being put on hold. I’ve learned that the CSI alum is leaving the Cinemax/GK-tv drama pilot Hurt People, which he was to executive produce and star in.

Petersen has been a major driver behind the project penned by former production executive Peter Macmanus in his writing debut. Petersen and his producing partner Cynthia Chvatal responded to Macmanus’ script and teamed with Graham King’s GK-tv to develop it. With Petersen on board as star and executive producer, Hurt People, about a veteran hitman (Petersen) employed by the crime family that killed his wife, was taken out to cable networks in March, eventually landing at Cinemax in April with a pilot order.

I hear that in the past couple of months, Petersen’s and the writer-producers’ vision for where the project should go began to diverge, leading to his decision to leave the project he helped develop and sell. I hear Petersen’s departure is not official yet, so it is unclear what impact it would have on Hurt People.

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Animation Guild Ratifies Contract With AMPTP

The Animation Guild representING 2,600 artists, writers and technicians employed in the animation industry today announced its Local 839 IATSE membership has ratified the collective bargaining agreement reached with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The Guild walked out of talks in April, returning in June after a heavily-attended special membership meeting and guild survey of contract priorities. About 24% of those ballots sent out were returned. The vote was 86.7% in favor, with 13.3% against. The contract calls for 2% annual compounded wage increases in line with what other Hollywood guilds received. Health, pension and IAP benefits are to be provided under the terms of the IATSE Basic Agreement reached in April. Other provisions of the new agreement include a new storyboard revisionist classification, changes to the talent development program, and DreamWorks Animation wage minimums. The contract will be in effect from August 1st through July 31, 2015.

“We’re gratified with the level of support this contract received,” Business Representative Steve Hulett said in a statement. “The contract talks were not easy, and the negotiation committee wondered at times if we would ever reach a conclusion.”

The Animation Guild is a local union of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, Its Territories and Canada (IATSE).

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Fox News Wins RNC Thursday Coverage As Overall Viewership Plunges 31% From 2008

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 1:48pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan continue to draw smaller TV crowds than the 2008 Republican Party duo of John McCain and Sarah Palin. The grand finale of this year’s Republican National Convention featuring Presidential candidate Romney’s acceptance speech and an introduction by Clint Eastwood drew a total of 25.3 million viewers last night from 10-11 PM on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC. That was down 31% from the final hour of the 2008 GOP convention.

Fox News Channel once again dominated coverage with 9.1 million viewers, only 2% down from 2008. The declines were far steeper for the other networks: ABC (4.4 million, down 26%), NBC (3.9 million, down 56%), CBS (3.7 million, down 30%), CNN (2.3 million, down 52%) and MSNBC (1.9 million, down 25%).

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Australian Rebecca Breeds To Co-Star In CBS’ Rob Greenberg Comedy Pilot

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 1:01pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: In her first US television role, young Australian actress Rebecca Breeds has landed the female lead in Rob Greenberg’s single-camera comedy pilot for CBS opposite Chris Smith, Kal Penn and Tony Shalhoub.

The project, from CBS TV Studios and the Tannenbaum Co., centers on a young guy (Smith) who finds camaraderie living among the more experienced guys he meets in a short-term rental complex, including Gil (Penn) and die-hard ladies man and four-time divorcee Frank (Shalhoub). Breeds will play Julie, Frank’s adorable, independent and neurotic daughter who is trying to get her act together and get over her major daddy issues due to Frank’s less than stellar parenting. Breeds, repped by Untitled Entertainment, IFA and Mark Morrissey & Assoc., is best known for her role on the long-running Australian soap Home And Away.

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Venice: Spike Lee On His Michael Jackson Documentary ‘Bad 25′

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 12:12pm PDT

Spike Lee was on the Lido today with Michael Jackson documentary Bad 25, and producer John Branca who reps the late singer’s estate. The pair deflected questions about why Quincy Jones doesn’t appear in the documentary about the making of one of Jackson’s seminal albums. The record was the last that Jones produced with Jackson after Off The Wall and Thriller. “Even though I didn’t interview Quincy, he is given much respect,” said Lee. “He has a busy travel schedule and is not always available,” Branca added. The film, which officially screens tonight, has so far stirred mixed reactions. One industry exec said they were disappointed that it wasn’t as emotional as Kenny Ortega’s documentary This Is It while another countered that seeing the craft that went into making the album was enlightening. Lee, who professed he was a lifelong fan of Jackson’s, admitted he’d left his name out of a roll call of the best black musicians given by Samuel L. Jackson in his own Do The Right Thing. “I’m not gonna lie, he’s not in the roll call. I’ve got to talk to Sam about that,” he said. Lee was to be presented with the Glory of the Filmmaker award at the Bad 25 screening.

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Venice: Zac Efron Draws Crowds To The Lido

Clouds rolled into Venice on Friday, but that didn’t stop the crowds from finally turning up. After a few sluggish days in sky-high temperatures and a sort of meh attitude towards the films, the Lido was awash in fans lining up outside the Sala Grande for a glimpse of Zac Efron, here for competition pic At Any Price. Sony Pictures Classics recently acquired Ramin Bahrani’s father-son drama set against the backdrop of agricultural farming and auto racing in the U.S. Midwest. Efron (wearing socks which appeared to have the word “Monday” sewn in – today’s Friday, right?) spoke about his recent project choices saying he’s “at a crossroads” and trying to take the path less traveled. He turned up in Cannes this year for Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy and with Bahrani – the NY-based Man Push Cart director who’s never worked with known actors before – he’s continuing to try to distance himself from a teen idol image. Still, he’ll next go the romcom route with just-announced Are We Officially Dating? from a script that made the 2010 Black List and he said he’s also got Universal’s Townies coming up with Seth Rogen.

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Venice: ‘Wadjda’s Haifaa Al Mansour On Directing By Phone In Saudi Arabia

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 12:10pm PDT

This morning, Saudi Arabian filmmaker Haifaa Al Mansour shared details of what it’s like to be the first female director of a Saudi film which is also the first-ever feature shot entirely inside the Kingdom. Speaking of Venice Horizons entry Wadjda, she said she was sometimes relegated to directing by telephone. Saudi law does not allow women and men to be seen together outside so “It was a major obstacle to go out in the street and talk to my actors,” she said. The film, which will head to Telluride next, is about a young girl in a Riyadh suburb who goes to great lengths to raise money for the bicycle she desperately covets.

Produced by the German folks behind Waltz With Bashir, Wadjda will not have a chance to be seen theatrically inside Saudi. Movie theaters are illegal, so the film there will go out through DVD and pay-TV. Al Mansour said she also had a difficult time shooting since “people don’t want cameras in their neighborhoods.” To cast her young lead, she relied on scouts as a casting call was out of the question. “It’s unacceptable for women to be in front of the camera.” But the director struck a positive note when she added, “Saudi Arabia is opening up. I’m not saying it’s heaven, but we saw Saudi sending women to the Olympics. There is an opportunity … Read More »

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‘American Idol’ Judging Panel Takes Shape

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 11:58am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Chatter about the the judges on the upcoming 12th season of American Idol intensify as Fox is expected to start completing deals and announce talent right after the Labor Day holiday weekend. Despite all the speculation, Mariah Carey still is the only judge locked in for next season. Nicki Minaj continues to be in negotiations. Keith Urban appears likely to get the “country” chair, for which Fox had approached Brad Paisley early on. The judging panel will likely be extended to four people, with the last spot still vacant. The only surviving original American Idol judge, Randy Jackson, had long been rumored to segue into a mentor role. TMZ today is reporting that as fait accompli, though sources stress that no final decision has been made. Fox chairman Kevin Reilly at TCA indicated that he expected Jackson to be back in some capacity. Also back is Nigel Lythgoe as executive producer and host Ryan Seacrst, who is under a multi-year deal.

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CBS Buys Drama From Original Film

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 11:01am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

A character-driven drama from Neal Moritz’s Original Film has been bought by CBS. The untitled project, penned by actor-turned-writer Grant Thompson, centers on an FBI agent from Nebraska who single-handedly prevents a major domestic terrorist attack while on a family vacation and instantly becomes an American hero. He then takes on a new job leading a DC task force. Steve Maeda (Lie To Me), Neil Moritz and Vivian Cannon executive produce, with Thompson co-executive producing. Sony TV, where Original Film is based, is producing. Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: Pre-Season Football Affects Primetime, RNC Coverage Down

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 9:38am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

With pre-season football pre-empting programming on all major broadcast networks (Fox was pre-empted in almost 20% of the country), fast nationals for ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC were likely inflated. Add to that live coverage of the final night of the Republican National Convention, which ran late, bleeding into primetime on the West Coast, and the result is non-time zone adjusted fast nationals that will likely undergo major changes in the finals.

With that in mind, ABC’s Wipeout (1.6/5 in adults 18-49), Rookie Blue (1.5/4) and NBC’s Saving Hope (1.1/3) were all up vs. last week (by 23%, 50% and 83%, respectively), but it is unclear how much of the gains are football-related. CBS’ Big Brother (2.3/6) was flat.

While fast nationals are unreliable for live events such as convention coverage, the drops from the fast nationals four years ago are so steep that the trend is likely to stay when the finals numbers are released. Right now, the broadcast of Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech preceded by an appearance by Clint Eastwood, is averaging a 1.0/3 in 18-49 on ABC and CBS, down 38% and 29%, respectively, from 2008 when John McCain was the nominee, and a 0.8/2 on NBC, down 76%.

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Zac Efron To Star In ‘Are We Officially Dating?’

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 9:27am PDT
Mike Fleming

Zac Efron will star in the romantic comedy Are We Officially Dating, which Tom Gormican wrote and will direct for TreeHouse Pictures. Script, which made the 2010 Black List, concerns three friends in New York City who make a pact to remain single just as they each start to fall in love. Production begins in Manhattan this fall.

Treehouse Pictures’ Justin Nappi and Kevin Turen are producing with Scott Aversano and Andrew O’Connor. Michael Simkin, Jason Barrett, and Manu Gargi are executive producing. QED International is handling international sales. Gormican is working on a pilot with Greg Daniels and Tracy Katsky, and recently sold Bad Form to Warner Bros and Save The Date to Sony with Neil Moritz. WME and 3 Arts rep Gormican while CAA and Alchemy rep Efron.

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CBS Corp. And AT&T U-Verse Renew Carriage Agreement

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 7:41am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

AT&T U-verse TV and CBS Corp. today announced renewal of their content carriage agreements, which covers retransmission consent for the CBS Owned Stations, and carriage of Showtime, The Smithsonian Channel and The CBS Sports Network. “We are pleased to have reached these comprehensive renewal agreements which recognize the value our stations and our cable channels bring to AT&T’s U-verse service” said Martin Franks, EVP Planning, Policy and Government Relations, CBS Corp.

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Venice: Michael Cimino Raises New ‘Heaven’s Gate’, ‘The Iceman’ Cometh

“Being infamous is not fun. It becomes a weird occupation in and of itself.” Michael Cimino spoke those words at the Venice Film Festival on Thursday as he introduced a digitally remastered version of Heaven’s Gate. One of the most notorious box office flops of all time, the film is credited with contributing to the demise of United Artists and halting the auteur movement of 70s Hollywood. Cimino was coming off Best Picture and Best Director Oscars for The Deer Hunter when Heaven’s Gate came out in 1980 and cratered his career. On the Lido Thursday to accept a life achievement award along with debuting the updated pic, he said he at first didn’t want to revisit it, “I’ve had enough rejection for 33 years.” Cimino oversaw the digital remastering and said technology had advanced enough that seeing it now was like seeing a new movie. It’s also a longer movie. The new version runs 216 minutes.

Meanwhile, a lot of heat surrounded Ariel Vroman’s out of competition title, The Iceman. Michael Shannon has drawn great notices for his take on real-life contract killer/family man Richard Kuklinski. Reaction was also positive for strong performances by Winona Ryder and Ray Liotta. Ryder, who’ll next be seen in Gary Fleder’s Homefront, said she’s scaling back on work in general. “I want to have a good life and so a film has to be pretty great to make me want to leave my life. I’m not in a place where I want to keep working just to work,” she said. Read More »

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‘Seven Psychopaths’ Red Band Trailer

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 12:35am PDT

Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Abbie Cornish, Tom Waits, Olga Kurylenko, Zeljko Ivanek and Gabourey Sidibe figure in this CBS Films tale that revolves around an LA gangster’s dognapped Shih Tzu. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, Seven Psychopaths opens October 12th:

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Apple Loses Case Vs. Samsung In Japan

By | Friday August 31, 2012 @ 12:05am PDT

Coming off a major U.S. copyright victory against the same rival just a week ago, Apple lost a case today in Japan when a Tokyo court ruled that Samsung‘s mobile devices did not infringe on an Apple patent involved in synching mobile devices and computers. In the U.S. case, a jury ordered Samsung to pay Apple $1.05 billion in damages. Reuters noted that Apple is now seeking bans on the sale of eight Samsung phones in the U.S. market. In Japan, though, Samsung said “We welcome the court’s decision, which confirmed our long-held position that our products do not infringe Apple’s intellectual property.” Bloomberg said that Apple and Samsung have litigated multiple patent disputes on four continents.

Related: Apple Stock Price Up After Winning $1B Award In Samsung Patent Infringement

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