The SAG-AFTRA National Board reviewed the union’s candidate elections policy and schedule for the 2013 national elections calendar (all times PDT): The election calendar in locals varies slightly.
May 15 - Nominating petitions available.
June 14 (5 PM) - Deadline for submission of petitions and any other required materials.
June 17 - Cutoff for voting eligibility. Members must be in good standing for the 11/01/12 and/or 05/01/13 dues period.
July 16 - Ballots mailed.
August 15 (6:30 AM) - Deadline for receipt of voted ballot (in designated election PO Box).
September 26-29 - Convention Elections.
UPDATE: Los Angeles Times Editor Davan Maharaj today announced ”a new leadership team for one of the most important journalistic franchises at The Times”. Granted, this is like moving deck chairs on the Titanic given that the newspaper has become lazy and irrelevant and its showbiz ads fall 25% every year as movies and even theater chains abandon the publication. And those are readers and advertisers who aren’t coming back, either. Nevertheless John Corrigan, who has been Business Editor since 2009, will top the newspaper’s arts and entertainment coverage starting Monday as an assistant managing editor. He replaces Sallie Hofmeister whom Maharaj recently exited. (Related: LA Times Exits Longtime Showbiz Editor)
In other moves, Laurie Ochoa, the former editor of LA Weekly, becomes the LA Times‘ Arts and Entertainment Editor reporting to Corrigan. And TV critic Mary McNamara now has the additional title of Senior Culture Editor.
But there was no announcement confirming what former LA Times Arts And Entertainment editor Craig Turner today wrote on his Facebook page: “It looks like the Business section is being downgraded again, and will cease to exist as a stand-alone section, folding into the A section. As a result, Calendar will get some later deadlines and all the Company Town stories — on business of entertainment — will appear in Calendar, not Business.”
LOS ANGELES (March 16, 2012) – The Screen Actors Guild members who will determine the nominees for the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® for this year’s outstanding performances in film and primetime television will be drawn by random sample on Friday, March 16, 2012, SAG Awards® Committee Chair JoBeth Williams announced today.
The SAG Awards’ separate film and television nominating committees are randomly selected anew each year from around the country. To be eligible to serve on one of this year’s nominating committees, SAG members may not have served on the same nominating committee in the past eight years and must have paid their November 2011 membership dues by March 9, 2012.
BREAKING: Disney has confirmed that the Gore Verbinski-directed Johnny Depp-starrer The Lone Ranger has come back on track, with the studio setting the film for a May 31, 2013 release. As Deadline revealed yesterday, the film will begin production February 6. The film was originally supposed to get underway this fall for a December 21, 2012 release, but all that changed when Disney shocked Hollywood by unplugging the film over fears that its budget could reach $275 million. Deadline revealed that news exclusively on August 12. It was a surprising move, considering that Bruckheimer is a cornerstone producer and Depp has starred in the studio’s highest-grossing films, with both of them teaming with Verbinski on the first three installments of The Pirates Of The Caribbean.
Verbinski, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Depp rose to the challenge, though, even though it was a painful one. They reworked their compensation deals and figured out ways to save money in the production budget. They brought the budget down to a figure that is around $215 million, I’m told. Taking responsibility to bring the film in for that price was the only way that the studio was going to make the film. Considering that most Westerns don’t travel overseas as well as some other genres (Cowboys & Aliens has proven to be an offshore disappointment), The Lone Ranger is still a big bet by a studio that is backing John Carter, a film that costs more than $250 million, and Oz The Great And Powerful, which hovers at around $200 million. At least now, Disney’s risk on The Lone Ranger has been contained.
WEDNESDAY AM UPDATE: Los Angeles management told editors at a meeting this morning that, yes, more layoffs are planned. But management is claiming the 40 number is too high, and no film writers are involved. If anyone’s job has been saved because of adverse publicity, then great. (I’ve added a question mark about the Calendar staff cuts. But two prominent film writers were targeted, trust me.) Now I’m told there will be a big push LA Times-wide in coming months to turn staff writers into freelance writers.
TUESDAY: More bad news for newspapers: I’ve learned that the Los Angeles Times expects to make as many as 40 layoffs before the end of this year, and it’s likely that two senior film writers with well known bylines will be cut. (Yet the newspaper just hired a Hollywood Reporter film hack on the cheap. It’s all about dollars and cents there these days, not quality.) Meanwhile, The Washington Post just announced it will close its Los Angeles Bureau by December 31st. Looks like Hollywood will be covered entirely out of the paper’s headquarters now.
According to an internal memo from new publisher Eddy Hartenstein, the Los Angeles Times Business section beginning March 2nd will be “enhanced by bringing back the ‘Company Town’ feature, which will serve as the anchor for our ‘business of entertainment’ coverage”. And it’s now official that Calendar’s “deadlines to be pushed deep into the evening (aka ‘second-daily’), allowing us to make our primary space for entertainment coverage more news-driven. This will enrich this current ‘must read’ section even further, enabling us to add features such as overnight reviews.” But who’s gonna staff both showbiz sections? Also announced were 300 more layoffs coming, 70 of them newsroom positions. (See my previous, Late Night Deadlines For LAT’s Calendar?)
Attention all Hollywood publicists: Los Angeles Times editor Russ Stanton reportedly has told some in Calendar that the entertainment and feature section would soon get late night deadlines same as the news sections Monday through Thursday. For the longest time, Calendar has been beset with frustrating afternoon deadlines due to a limit on press capacity (which can only produce four sections in the live run). LAObserved.com has the scoop, plus dire predictions of yet more LAT layoffs.
UPDATE: More Calendar casualties. Film reviewer Carina Chocano. Calendar assistant editor Maria Russo (hired from the New York Observer in 2004). Staff writer Scott Timberg. There may be more, all part of the latest Los Angeles Times layoffs, buyouts and resignations. Arts writer Lynell George. Latino arts/culture beat writer Agustin Gurza. Staff writer Mindy Farabee.
The Los Angeles Times is in more dire financial straits than previously thought, judging from today’s internal memo from deputy editor for features Sherry Stern: ”Hi all. They’re going to start turning the lights on and off in each area to conserve energy… I’m trying to get a handle on the many hours that Calendar writers are here. If you start really early, stay really late or work on weekends, can you let me know those hours so I can make sure we’re covered? (And don’t worry, there will be a switch to turn on the lights if you come in here when the lights are off.) Tnx.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: BIFA To Honor Julie Walters; New Zealand Film Group Picks 10 Best NZ Pics Of All Time; More
Julie Walters Tapped For BIFA’s Richard Harris Award
Julie Walters is to receive the Richard Harris Award at the British Independent Film Awards this coming weekend. The prize was introduced in 2002 to recognize outstanding contribution to British film by an actor. Walters started out in television and broke into film with her BAFTA- and Golden Globe-winning performance in 1983’s Educating Rita. She was also nominated for an Oscar for the film and later received a further Oscar nomination for Stephen Daldry’s Billy Elliot. More recently, she played Ron Weasley’s mother Molly in all of the Harry Potter movies. Among Walters’ other credits are Prick Up Your Ears, Calendar Girls, Becoming Jane and Mamma Mia! She next will be seen in The Harry Hill Movie and in 2014’s live-action Paddington. The BIFAs will be held on December 8 in London.
New Zealand Film Body Picks 10 Best NZ Films Of All Time
A government-backed film body in New Zealand has released its list of the Top 10 New Zealand films of all time. Rather than select any of the Lord Of The Rings movies, NZ On Screen selected Peter Jackson’s 1994 Heavenly Creatures as the director’s entry. The organization recognized that “much dissension will arise from the exclusion of Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. … Although Jackson’s film company WingNut was involved in all productions, they are generally viewed as Hollywood films made in Wellington. For the purposes of this Top 10, it’s sensible to preclude them.” Instead, it said that Heavenly Creatures, which gave Kate Winslet her first big screen role, was “the best film to mark the extraordinary talent of our most commercially successful director.” NZ On Screen is funded by NZ On Air, an independent government funding agency that invests in local content. Along with Heavenly Creatures, the Top 10 also includes: Goodbye Pork Pie (1981), Smash Palace (1981), Utu (1983), Vigil (1984), The Piano (1993), Once Were Warriors (1994), Whale Rider (2002), In My Father’s Den (2004) and Boy (2010). Of the somewhat dark choices, NZ On Screen said: “We are a weird people and we seem to prefer making films about how weird we are. We depict what we know.”
6TH UPDATE: The staggering grosses turned in this weekend by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Frozen, and the collective strong box office that will likely result in a record five-day Thanksgiving weekend come along at a fortuitous time for the movie business. Why? Because fear has ruled the roost lately, and these numbers on a diversity of mostly smart films shows clearly that if you give an audience a story well told, they will show up.
The performance of Catching Fire and Frozen are all the more remarkable if you consider that both of these films are squarely driven by female heroines. Conventional wisdom is that the marketplace could never support more than one female-driven film, because while gals will see guy movies, it doesn’t work the other way. Well, it worked big time — both films crushed the 5-day Thanksgiving domestic gross record – and it happened shortly after another female driven film, Gravity, crossed the $600 million mark in global gross this weekend. That movie would not have been made if not for a maverick advocate and you could make the same argument for a drama about Somali pirates, Captain Phillips, which has passed the $100 million mark domestically and will crack $200 million worldwide on a $55 million budget. You can look at The Best Man Holiday and Last Vegas (CBS Films’ biggest grossing film ever) and find similarly encouraging signs; good movies made for a price, finding crossover audiences.
This is important, coming just on the heels of that Sony investors meeting held on the Culver City lot. It was a powwow that on the surface seemed to be a capitulation to cranky shareholders like Daniel Loeb, who, as George Clooney said, whined about two summer flops but betrayed a complete lack of understanding of how the movie business works. This weekend was a good reminder that, few legal businesses are capable of creating cash as quickly as blockbusters do. The people who make those bets are like shrewd riverboat gamblers, and if the current climate makes them fearful, they will not make good films. They are only good if they’ve got swagger and cockiness, and it would be nice to imagine a weekend like this serves as a reminder of what happens when smart risks are taken and good movies are the result.
When Sony responded to Loeb’s criticism by announcing plans to shed $100 million in overhead and trimming back its film slates to instead put more chips on TV projects, some in town wondered if Japan was planning to sell its showbiz division. Nonsense, say insiders I trust.
EXCLUSIVE: The last time President Obama was in town back in early August he had a private dinner with Jeffrey Katzenberg – now the Commander-in-Chief is heading over to his top bundler’s DreamWorks Animation Glendale campus for a very public pre-Thanksgiving visit. While in town next week for a series of fundraisers, Obama will be dropping by DWA on November 26 in the afternoon, I’ve learned. While there, the President will be giving a speech to company employees and invited guests at Katzenberg HQ. Of course, Obama’s visit to DWA isn’t the only political face time on Katzenberg’s calendar in the next week – the Animation CEO is co-hosting a mogul heavy fundraiser today for Governor Jerry Brown at Disney Studio boss Alan Horn‘s Bel Air home.
2ND UPDATE FRIDAY 7:50 AM: Comedy Central just officially announced the 40-week pickup for @midnight, whose production calendar will mirror that of Comedy Central’s other late-night shows, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. “We’re amazed at how quickly ‘@midnight’ has resonated with our fans,” said the network’s Kent Alterman. “If the internet catches on and social media becomes a part of pop culture, we think we’ll really have something here.”
UPDATE 9:08 PM: Chris Hardwick just confirmed the pickup news on @midnight, announcing that the show will return with new episodes on January 6. “This was an experiment we did for a month, you guys watch, you join in the #HashtagWars, and we are so, so, so, so grateful,” he told the studio audience.
EXCLUSIVE 9 PM: Comedy Central‘s late-night block is officially expanding to 1.5 hours. I’ve learned that after a successful four-week trial run, which ends tonight, the network’s newest late-night entry — midnight show @midnight hosted by Chris Hardwick and produced by Funny or Die — is being given a big vote of confidence with a 40-week pickup. The renewal is not surprising given how strong the show has done in Comedy Central’s target young and male demos. @midnight has the lowest median age in late-night, 32. In Men 18-34 (237,000 through 11/10), Men 18-24 (106,000) and persons 18-24 (142,000), @midnight is the third-highest-ranked late-night show in all of television …
Thor: The Dark World opened to an estimated $7.1 million for Thursday preview showings in advance of today’s North American opening in 3,841 theaters — including more than 3,100 3D locations. Overseas, the Marvel/Disney sequel starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman added another $10.9M in box office yesterday from key markets including the UK, Russia, and France, boosting its international cume to $152.8M. That’s before today’s expected big opening in China and other smaller markets, which will put the pic out in 92% of the world. Last night’s domestic preview grosses topped previous Thursday grosses for Thor ($3.2M) and Captain America: The First Avenger ($4M), both in 2011. The first Thor opened domestically in May of that year with $65.7M in its first weekend, on its way to $181M here and $268M overseas.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Thor: The Dark World’
Last Wednesday, Disney opened Thor 2 to $109.4M in 36 overseas territories, helping the distributor break its all-time international box office record of $2.302B for a calendar year with two months to go.
Disney said Thor 2‘s 3D shows will include an exclusive extended sneak peek of fellow Marvel superhero pic Captain America: The Winter Soldier ahead of its April 2014 bow.
Today’s list means there are enough entries to trigger the full category of five nominees this year.
The 19 submitted features, listed in alphabetical order, are:
“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”
“Despicable Me 2”
“Ernest and Celestine”
“The Legend of Sarila”
“A Letter to Momo”
“Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie – Rebellion”
“Rio: 2096 A Story of Love and Fury”
“The Smurfs 2”
“The Wind Rises”
EXCLUSIVE: Franklin Leonard’s Black List has become a buzzy barometer for promising screenplays, but here’s a genre-centric version of the script service suited for the spooky season. The Blood List names the 13 best unproduced horror, thriller, and sci-fi scripts of the October-to-October calendar year as voted on by more than 100 film execs. This year’s #1 pick: Ink and Bone, Zak Olkewicz’s horror spec about a writer held hostage by his own creations that Dimension snapped up earlier this year. Independent manager/producer Kailey Marsh runs the annual Blood List, which has no affiliation with the more mainstream-leaning Black List but in its fifth year is turning out more and more high-profile alums. 2012 Blood List topper The Disciple Program landed at Universal with Mark Wahlberg attached to star for Morten Tyldum, while Barbara Curry’s 2011 selection The Boy Next Door is in production under the Blumhouse banner with Jennifer Lopez starring.
The 2013 edition was voted on by 108 feature execs, each of whom chose their top three favorite genre screenplays. Seventy-seven of them earned votes, with screenplays requiring a minimum of four votes in order to make the final cut. The 2013 class is announced, as it has been for four years, on Halloween:
EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel has decided to simulcast Science Channel’s first stab at scripted programming — the 90-minute The Challenger Disaster — when it premieres on November 16 at 9 PM, to ensure it gets the biggest possible audience and because the movie fits Discovery’s footprint. Discovery Channel this calendar year, is averaging 1.3 million viewers – 660,000 of them aged 18-49. Science Channel this year is averaging 304,000 viewers – 117,000 of them in the demo. When Science first announced the project in July, its GM Debbie Myers said it was the “biggest swing” in the network’s history. Produced in collaboration with the BBC and based on Dr. Richard Feynman’s memoir, What Do You Care What Other People Think?, the movie details Feynman’s participation in the Presidential Commission put together to investigate the Challenger explosion. William Hurt plays Feynman – the Caltech physicist/Nobel laureate who, in a televised hearing, demonstrated that the Challenger’s O-ring was not sufficiently pliable, submerging a piece of it in a glass of ice water, causing it to grow stiff and bend, and Feynman to note, “I believe that has some significance for our problem,” according to press reports. At the investigation’s conclusion, Feynman’s report, “Appendix F – Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle,” was presented to POTUS, independent of the commission’s report.
The Challenger explosion was one of those where-were-you-then moments in American history; millions of TV viewers watched in horror on January 1986 as the space vehicle burst apart, killing all seven astronauts on board, including the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, who’d been added to the crew because space travel was considered that safe; she was going to provide terrific PR for the space program by teaching some classes to school children from space.
Twentieth Century Fox International films set another milestone this weekend for what it boasted was an unprecedented 5 straight years and 7 overall – both industry records. Its 2013 overseas theatrical grosses passed the $2 billion box office mark for an unprecedented 7 calendar years. This spotlights the studio’s leadership by Chairman Jim Gianopulos who has always specialized in the global marketplace. Meanwhile, The Wolverine landed in China earning $13.6M from 4,800 screens for a first place finish and an opening weekend 4X bigger than Thor and 3X bigger than Captain America. Its cume now stands at $258.8M international and $390.7M worldwide.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘We Are The Best!’ Sold To Half-Dozen Territories; ‘Rising Star’ Heads To Italy; More
‘We Are The Best!’ Headed To Screens In Six More Territories
Lukas Moodysson’s latest feature We Are The Best! has sealed a number of new distribution deals. TrustNordisk has added France (MK2), Russia (Caravella), Greece (One from the Heart), Mexico (Cannibal Networks), Hungary (Vertigo), Estonia (Estin Film) and Hong Kong (Edko) to the list of territories where the film will be released. The tale of three young outsiders in 1980s Stockholm who form a punk band debuted in Venice. Magnolia Pictures acquired it for the U.S. after it played in Toronto.
Latest Stop For Keshet’s ‘Rising Star’ Is Italy
Keshet International has locked another deal for Rising Star, its hit interactive talent show. Sony Pictures Television Group production company Toro will adapt the format for Italy. This follows recent deals in France, Russia, Germany and the Nordics. Rising Star was one of the hottest properties at the recent Mipcom TV market and incorporates real-time voting by viewers via a free app that is fully integrated into the show.