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Universal’s ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Legal Battle With Porn Producer Heats Up

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 2:13pm PST

Universal wants the hardcore adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey shut down and stopped immediately as it takes on the producers in court. Following up on their initial trademark infringement lawsuit of late November, Universal City Studios and book rights holder Fifty Shades Ltd filed a request Tuesday (read it here) for a preliminary injunction against Smash, the producers of Fifty Shades Of Grey: A XXX Adaptation. “Plaintiffs ask this Court to enjoin the marketing, sale, and distribution of Defendants’ infringing adaptation of the Fifty Shades Trilogy, a quickly and cheaply produced pornographic work that is likely to cause Plaintiffs irreparable harm by poisoning public perception of the Fifty Shades Trilogy and the forthcoming Universal films,” says the motion filed Tuesday in federal court. An April 1 hearing has been requested on the motion. The plaintiffs claimed in their suit late last year that Smash’s film, which clearly does call itself an “adaptation” in its title, uses “exact dialogue, characters, events, story and style from the Fifty Shades trilogy.” Universal and Focus Features picked up the rights to E.L. James’ best-selling softcore novels in a heated bidding war back in March for more than $3 million.
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Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond, Episode 11

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 1:52pm PST
Pete Hammond

Listen to (and share) episode 11 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Pete, Deadline’s Awards Columnist, and host David Bloom discuss the impacts on major Oscar categories of this past weekend’s awards ceremonies for the Producers Guild and Screen Actors Guild. Are winners building momentum that may be unstoppable through to Oscar night, or are the races still wide open?

Deadline Awards Watch, Episode 11 (MP3 format)
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FX’s ‘The Americans’ Premiere Pulls 3.22M Viewers

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 1:16pm PST

The nearly two-hour premiere of The Americans on FX Wednesday bested the debuts of American Horror Story and Sons Of Anarchy. The new FX series pulled in 3.22 million viewers in its 10 – 11:38 PM debut last night. That’s better than the 3.18 million who watched American Horror Story’s October 5, 2011 premiere on the network. The Americans also beat the 2.3 million who watched American Horror’s season finale last week in the same time slot. The new series garnered 1.57 million viewers among the Adult 18-49 demographic, better than SOA did in its debut with 1.55 million in the demo. Over its premiere and two encores last night, The Americans had a total viewership of 4.7 million. Read More »

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How Tina Fey’s ’30 Rock’ Lasted Seven Seasons And Changed The Game For Female Comedy Creators

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:55pm PST

Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.

When the NBC comedy 30 Rock leaves the air tonight after seven seasons and 139 episodes, it will be exiting a far different TV landscape than it entered. The series premiered on October 11, 2006 as an anomaly: the original vision of a single creator-producer-writer-star named Tina Fey at a time when TV actors generally stayed in front of the camera (with NBC’s The Office proving a rare exception with its double-duty writer-performers). Fey made no secret of being a writer first and an actress second, and there is little debate that her success paved the way for comedy performers dreaming of some semblance of creative control of the product. Without Fey’s 30 Rock, it’s harder to imagine the environment would have existed for a creator-star like Mindy Kaling to rise with The Mindy Project at Fox, or certainly for a daring and controversial writer-producer-star like Lena Dunham to make Girls at HBO.

That Fey was able to steer her quirky satirical tale on a broadcast network made the achievement all the more unlikely. And then to keep 30 Rock going for so many critically acclaimed seasons when its ratings rarely rose above the level of abysmal is fairly unprecedented. Rock remained, throughout its run, the little engine that could, overcoming long odds and a cancellation ax poised constantly over its head. Those with a good memory will recall that the series  entered NBC’s primetime schedule with two strikes against it — as one of a pair of series launching on NBC that peered behind the scenes of a fictitious sketch comedy show. The other was of course Aaron Sorkin’s hourlong Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, which was the favorite of the two to survive due to the Sorkin pedigree. It’s the one that NBC put its marketing and promotional might behind, plastering Studio 60 on billboards in Times Square and on Sunset Boulevard. Instead, it was SNL vet Fey’s comedic creation that had the artistic legs for the long haul. Read More »

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MPTF CEO Says Union Wrong About Main Issue Causing Labor Dispute

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:46pm PST

The growing labor action at the Motion Picture and Television Fund‘s care facility and hospital has nothing to do with staffing issues, the nonprofit’s CEO said today. “Staffing levels has not been a part of our negotiations with SEIU since September 2012.  Rather, the issues are all economic — wages, share of health insurance costs, and pension benefits,” says Bob Beitcher. He was responding to Wednesday’s strike authorization vote by the employees at the facility and the ongoing negotiations between the union and management. The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West have insisted that low staffing levels are what is “pushing” their actions. Click over for Beitcher’s full statement: Read More »

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‘Silver Linings Playbook’ Gets D.C. Moment With Bradley Cooper

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:44pm PST
Mike Fleming

I cannot remember a year where so many Best Picture Oscar candidates reverberated so much on Capitol Hill. First, there was the Lincoln screening for Congress, and we know how Zero Dark Thirty has shaken things up amidst its D.C. premiere. Now it’s Silver Linings Playbook‘s turn, for its message of hope toward those who’ve suffered silently with mental challenges.

Bradley Cooper, Oscar nominated for his role as the film’s bipolar protagonist, will join former Rhode Island congressman Patrick Kennedy in a press conference Friday at the Center for American Progress to discuss how the film has helped make progress toward removing the stigma of mental illness. This comes after Cooper and Robert De Niro taped an appearance with Katie Couric to talk about the movie and its mental health message. In that appearance, I’m told that De Niro actually broke down when he discussed a personal connection to the subject matter. Read More »

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UPDATE: ABC Greenlights Adaptation of British Drama ‘The Syndicate’ From David Zabel, Jason Richman & Amblin TV

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:30pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: ABC has given green light to Lucky 7, a drama pilot based on Kay Mellor’s BBC series The Syndicate, which premiered last year and has been renewed for a second season. This is ABC’s 12th and last drama pilot pickup this season.

David Zabel and Jason Richman wrote the U.S. version, which is produced by ABC Studios and Amblin TV. Lucky 7 is about seven employees of a service station in Queens whose lives are changed in many unexpected ways when they win a lottery jackpot. The original series revolves around five supermarket workers who enter into a syndicate and win the lottery. (Watch a trailer below) Each episode of the series centers around a different character, and each season will follow a different group in similar circumstance. Zabel, Richman and Amblin TV’s Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey executive produce Lucky 7 alongside Mellor through her company Rollem. Read More »

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A&E’s ‘Psycho’ Prequel Series ‘Bates Motel’ Unveils Key Art, New Teaser

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:17pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

The logline for A&E Network‘s new drama series Bates Motel, a contemporary prequel to Hitchcock’s classic Psycho, stressed that at the heart of the show is the dark, twisted backstory of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) and how deeply intricate his relationship with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), truly is. The first key art for the series (click on image for larger view), underlines that with a shot of Norman and Norma, sitting on the edge of the bed in a Bates Motel room, and the tagline, “A boy’s best friend is his mother.” Simultaneously, A&E also has released a new teaser for show featuring similar imagery. Here is an exclusive first peek. Bates Motel, from executive producers Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights), premieres March 18.

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YOU On Demand Offers Films On VOD In China Weeks After They Debut In Theaters

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:15pm PST

Studio and theater owners who wonder what would happen to sales if movies are rushed to home video should keep an eye on what’s happening in China. Warner Bros has begun an experiment to stay ahead of DVD pirates by putting films on the You On Demand VOD cable platform as early as four weeks after they first appear in theaters in the U.S. YOD is talking with its other studio partners — including Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal, and Lionsgate — about following suit. It formally launched in the country this past Monday, following a lengthy period of beta tests. And it began to promote the quick availability of films this week as it launched its first marketing campaign, targeting the Chinese New Year which will be celebrated on February 10 and 11. Warner Bros provided Argo to the platform on November 28, and Gangster Squad joined the line up on Monday. Piracy is a huge problem for non-Chinese studios opening movies there; the government only allows 34 foreign films into theaters each year. The VOD service has agreements that will put it into 18.2M homes, and is aiming to have 30M by year end. YOD is run by Shane McMahon, a former World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler and exec, and the son of that company’s CEO Vince McMahon and Read More »

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Nicolas Chartier Bullish On ‘Charlie Countryman’ Heading Into Berlin

Mike Fleming

The hot hot buzz titles at Sundance have been brokered, and while nobody involved in that festival seems to have yet caught up on sleep, the festival is fast fading in the rear view mirror. So what happens to the films that came in with big hopes but haven’t yet sold? Are they headed to the movie equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys? Hardly, says Voltage chief Nicolas Chartier.

He came to Sundance with two films, and watched the Joe Gordon-Levitt-directed Don Jon’s Addiction quickly sell for close to a festival record $4 million with a $25 million P&A commitment for summer release by Relativity Media. His other Sundance pic, The Shia La Beouf-starrer The Necessary Death Of Charlie Countryman directed by Fredrik Bond, didn’t walk off the slopes with a deal. Read More »

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SXSW 2013: Line-Up Includes Joss Whedon’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ U.S. Premiere & ‘Bates Motel’ Pilot Preview

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:02pm PST

It’s not The Avengers 2 but Joss Whedon’s other new movie is making its stateside premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival. Much Ado About Nothing, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival last year, joins 108 other feature films at the March 8-16 fest in Austin, SXSW announced today. Along with the previously announced world premieres of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey, and the reimagined Evil Dead, this year’s SXSW has an on-stage interview with sometimes Austin resident Matthew McConaughey, new films from John Sayles and Nick Cassavetes, a preview of A&E’s Bates Motel pilot, a documentary about home movies from the Nixon White House and, Austin being Music City, a lot of music movies. Here are SXSW’s descriptions of the movies, panels and other events unveiled today:

NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT
High profile narrative features receiving their World, North American or U.S. Premieres at SXSW.

Much Ado About Nothing
Director: Joss Whedon
Shakespeare’s classic comedy is given a contemporary spin in Joss Whedon’s film, Much Ado About Nothing. Cast: Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Nathan Fillion, Fran Kranz, Jillian Morgese (U.S. Premiere)

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Rashida Jones & Will McCormack Ink Pod Deal With Warner Bros. Television

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 12:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Parks & Recreation co-star Rashida Jones and her writing partner, fellow actor-writer Will McCormack, have signed their first TV pod deal — a two-year pact with Warner Bros. Television. Under the agreement, the two will develop, write and produce comedy and drama projects for broadcast and cable.

Jones and McCormack previously wrote the Jones-starring indie romantic comedy Celeste And Jesse Forever, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and recently nabbed a Film Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best First Screenplay. The duo is currently writing the feature Frenemy Of The State for Universal and Imagine. On the TV side, they previously wrote We Are Puppets, which was in development at Showtime. Jones is repped by UTA, Brillstein Entertainment and attorney James Adams; McCormack is with UTA and Loeb.

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Tom Drumm Snares New Management Shingle

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 11:32am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After a decade, Tom Drumm has parted ways with Peter Safran. He is forming Think Tank Management and Production, a new shingle where he’ll rep clients and hatch movies and TV.

When Safran left Brillstein-Grey to form The Safran Company in 2006, Drumm followed him. “Peter has been an amazing mentor, and he has given me a great head start in building my business, and creating my own company,” Drumm said. “I look forward to continuing to work with him as a producer,” said Drumm. Safran produced five films last year, including the James Wan-directed The Conjuring, the Paul Walker-starrer Hours, and the Mark Strong-starrer Mindscape. Drumm’s clients Guy Holmes wrote the script, and Jorge Dorado directed it. “It has been a pleasure working closely with Tom over the past decade and I look forward continuing to collaborate with him in the future,” Safran said. Read More »

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Alcon Entertainment Promotes David Fierson To General Counsel & EVP Business Affairs

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 11:30am PST

LOS ANGELES, CA, JANUARY 31, 2013 – David Fierson has been promoted to General Counsel and Executive Vice President of Business Affairs at Warner Bros.-based Alcon Entertainment, it was announced by Alcon Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson. Fierson will report directly to Kosove and Johnson, as well as Company COO and CFO Scott Parish. Fierson, named Alcon’s first in-house counsel in 2006, joined the Company as Vice President of Business Affairs. Since then, he has been actively involved in many of the developments and acquisitions that have contributed to making Alcon a leading independent motion picture producer and financier. Fierson will continue to manage the Business and Legal Affairs department and work closely with Scott Edel, Alcon’s primary outside counsel at Loeb and Loeb.

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Another Black Eye For CBS: Dish Network’s Hopper DVR Wins CES Award As Trade Group Looks For Partner To Replace CNET

UPDATE, 2: 48 PM: Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton weighs in on the award, and twists the knife into CBS. He says that he appreciates International CES’ “decision to stand with the consumer” by granting the “Best of Show” award to the Hopper With Sling DVR. And he adds that he looks forward to “continuing our longstanding relationship with CNET’s editorial staff and hope they are able return to their long tradition of unbiased evaluation and commentary of the industry’s products and services.”

PREVIOUS, 11:20 AM: Here’s yet more embarrassment for CBS from its heavy-handed decision to bar its tech site CNET from giving the Internatonal CES “Best of Show” award to Dish Network’s Hopper With Sling DVR. CBS said the news site’s editors — who designate the CES award winners — couldn’t recognize the Hopper because broadcasters are suing Dish, alleging that the Hopper’s ability to automatically zip past ads on recorded shows violates their copyrights. But today the trade show gave the award to the Hopper anyway, making it a co-winner with the Razer Edge gaming tablet. (CNET editors made that the winner after CBS forced them to take the Hopper off their list.) “The CNET editorial team identified the Hopper Sling as the most innovative product of the show, and we couldn’t agree more,” says Karen Chupka, who’s the Consumer Electronics Association’s SVP for events and conferences. What’s more, the group says it will look for a new partner to replace CNET in running the annual awards. CBS’ corporate policy could “have a negative impact on our brand,” Chupka says. Read More »

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‘Girls’ Lena Dunham And Jenni Konner To Develop HBO Series About Betty Halbreich

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 10:59am PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Lena Dunham, creator/star/executive producer of hot comedy Girls, has teamed with her Girls co-showrunner, executive producer Jenni Konner, for another potential HBO comedy series set in New York. The pay cable network has optioned All Dressed Up And Everywhere To Go, the upcoming memoir by long-time Bergdorf Goodman personal shopper and New York institution Betty Halbreich.  Dunham and Konner plan to write together the TV project, which will delve into the life of Halbreich who has spent decades working with the rich and famous.

At age 85, Halbreich is still running her  Bergdorf-based personal shopping service, which she launched in 1976. She has been the dresser and confidante of three generations of Manhattan socialites and stars including Joan Rivers, Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Katie Couric and Glenn Close. Additionally, she works with top Manhattan stylists and has consulted for movies and TV shows, including helping design the signature look for HBO’s Sex And The City and capture the New York style of the early Woody Allen films. Halbreich is known as much for her unparalleled eye for fashion as she is about her unpretentious attitude and tart one-liners. The brassy Chicago native’s manner has been described as “part Angela Lansbury and part Lucille Ball.” Her memoir is said to provide behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of high fashion, as well as … Read More »

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Mark Duplass Joins Stephen King’s ‘Mercy’ & JFK Pic ‘Parkland’

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 10:53am PST

Mark Duplass Parkland MercyEXCLUSIVE: Mark Duplass continues to branch out as an actor beyond his DIY indie roots with two new projects, even as he and brother Jay keep building their joint TV and film portfolio. The Safety Not Guaranteed star has signed on for Universal and Blumhouse‘s Mercy, a fantasy-horror project based on a short from Stephen King’s Skeleton Crew collection that stars Dylan McDermott, Frances O’Connor, Chandler Riggs, Joel Courtney, Shirley Knight and Chris Browning. Peter Cornwell (A Haunting In Connecticut) is directing, with Jason Blum, McG, and Wonderland Sound and Vision’s Mary Viola producing. Matt Greenberg wrote the script from King’s short story Gramma, about two young boys who visit their grandmother and discover she’s a witch. Read More »

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EOne Inks First-Look Deal With Indie Film Producer 1984

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 10:17am PST

1984 Private Defense Contractors is the indie producer behind recent R-rated action and crime thrillers like Machine Gun Preacher, The Grey, Killing Them Softly and the just-released Broken City starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe. The new multi-year financing and distribution deal with Canadian biggie eOne gives the latter first-look rights to 1984′s production slate, which this year includes Corsica ’72 from Skyfall writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade and the untitled female Expendables movie being penned by Dutch Southern. Under terms of the deal, eOne will distribute 1984 films in Canada, UK, Benelux, Spain and Australia, with the company’s foreign sales arm eOne Films International handling the rest of the world. CAA will represent the U.S. rights to the slate of 1984, headed by co-chairmen and CEOs Adi Shankar and Spencer Silna. “This partnership allows us to quickly greenlight films while circumventing the byzantine juggling act of traditional indie tentpole filmmaking”, said Shankar, who also has a number of TV drama and reality projects set up at eOne.

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Roseanne Barr To Develop & Star In New Comedy Series For NBC

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 10:00am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Roseanne Barr has signed a deal with NBC and Universal TV to develop a comedy series — a starring vehicle for the Roseanne alumna — which she will executive produce with Steven Greener. The two previously collaborated on Barr’s Lifetime reality series Roseanne’s Nuts. Additionally, Barr is doing a three-episode arc on the final season of the NBC/Uni TV comedy series The Office. She will play talent agent Carla Fern who agrees to help office manager Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) realize his show business dream.  Filming of her episodes is set to begin this week. Last season, Paradigm-repped Barr developed a multi-camera comedy at 20th TV, Downwardly Mobile, which landed at NBC with penalty and went to pilot.

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