EXCLUSIVE: Last Vegas producer Amy Baer has launched Gidden Media, and the former CBS Films head and senior Sony Pictures executive gets off the ground with a batch of projects and a 7-figure development fund raised through a consortium of private investors. Baer will do what she does best, which is to invest the time nurturing material through the development process and then shop the results for feature films and longform television. Baer got her first taste of producing when she exited CBS Films two years ago to join Laurence Mark and Joe Drake on Last Vegas, the Jon Turteltaub-directed comedy that crossed the $33 million mark in its second weekend, with Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline starring for CBS Films.
Baer gets underway with several promising projects at Gidden, including some that she developed during her long stint at Sony. After starting her career working for late CAA agent Jay Moloney, Baer moved to TriStar in 1992 and worked her way up until she left to form CBS Films as president/CEO in 2007. Baer said she never forgot the unmade projects she shepherded all those years. Like a cop who won’t give up on a cold case, she approached her former Sony colleagues, who are letting her run with several stuck projects with great scripts. One is Endurance, the survival story of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, who rescued his entire crew in 1916 after his ship got trapped in ice for over a year while attempting to cross Antarctica. I wrote about this film numerous times over the years, but it never made it to the start line at Sony as a feature. Baer is going to get made as a limited series by Sony Pictures Television. Wolfgang Petersen, who has been trying to make this movie for over a decade, is producing and directing a script by Steve Zaillian. Viking’s Alan Gasmer will also produce. Read More »
A Texas federal jury took less than four hours to reject the SEC‘s claim that the sports and media entrepreneur, and star of ABC’s Shark Tank, had engaged in insider trading in 2004 when he sold his stock in Canadian search engine Mamma.com. “The SEC regulates through litigation, and that’s its own problem,” Dallas Mavericks owner and investor Mark Cuban said at a news conference after the decision was announced. “This is a horrific example of how the government does work.” The government said that Cuban broke the law — and saved himself $750,000 in potential losses — when he made the sale after Mamma.com CEO Guy Faure told him that he planned to dilute the public shares with a private stock offering. The SEC said Cuban had promised to keep the information secret; the exec said he made no such vow. Jurors had to sort through that question, and whether — if Cuban had made a promise — it also meant that he couldn’t sell his stock. The trial started September 30, just 10 days after Shark Tank returned for a fifth season. The decision today to side with the billionaire who controls cable network AXS TV, Landmark Theatres, Magnolia Pictures, and the the NBA team is a setback for SEC Chair Mary Jo White’s effort to show that her agency can effectively attack white-collar crime. Read More »
For one side or the other, it looks like a Shark is going to take the stand in his own insider trading trial this fall. Both Shark Tank judge Mark Cuban’s lawyers and attorneys for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission late last week named the entrepreneurial reality series judge as a witness in the upcoming trial. The trial is set to start on September 30 in Texas, 10 days after Season 5 of Shark Tank debuts. Cuban was one of six “will call” individuals named by the SEC (read it here). After naming seven certain witnesses, the Dallas Mavericks and AXS TV chairman’s lawyers said “Mr. Cuban may call the following witnesses if the need arises” including himself in the list of eight (read it here). The federal court trial emerges out of the federal government’s contention that on June 29, 2004 Cuban avoided more than $750,000 in losses by selling 600,000 shares in search engine Mamma.com Inc. The sale allegedly came the day after the CEO of the Canadian-based company confidentially told Cuban that a planned public equity offering on June 29 would dramatically dilute the worth of his stock. Cuban made the sale before the announcement and the nearly 10% drop in the company’s share price. The billionaire denied the charges, saying it was all above board and public.
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EXCLUSIVE: Back when Shark After Dark was announced — from after-show impresario Michael Davies (The Talking Dead, Watch What Happens Live) and CBS late-night host/avid Shark Week fan Craig Ferguson — Discovery Channel said it was lining up guests for its first late-night Shark Week after-show who were Shark Week-passionate or had shark connections. Mark Cuban, of course, stars in ABC’s Shark Tank. Close enough. Lost fave Dominic Monaghan now stars in BBC America’s nature show, Wild Things With Dominic Monaghan which that network announced is returning for another season in 2014. And Tara Reid is enjoying a career resuscitation as one of the two-legged scenery chewers in Syfy’s flick/media darling Sharknado! which, in its third run on the network, snagged its biggest audience yet — 2 mil plus.
Related: Syfy Orders ‘Sharknado 2′ Read More »
The last time the island nation’s people were able to see a big league ballgame on free TV, the Cuban Missile Crisis was still a year away. The Associated Press reports that the streak finally was broken this week, but many local fans were disappointed to learn that state television was airing a game from May 2 — with no defected Cuban stars involved. Not even the Miami Marlins. What the communist country’s viewers got on Baseball International was a rather routine 3-1 win for the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves. Featuring Cuban commentators and devoid of commercials, it ran about 90 minutes. And viewers in baseball-mad Cuba apparently reacted with a shrug. “It’s interesting to see how they play, but I can’t say it thrilled me all that much because I don’t know any of the players,” 67-year-old Diego Sierra told the AP. “I would really like to see the Cubans, see how they are developing in that league.” The AP noted that it’s not clear whether Cuba got express written consent from Major League Baseball to show the game. The country routinely airs U.S. TV shows such as Seinfeld and CSI, apparently without compensating American networks. Not even with a cigar.
ICM Partners has signed Cuba Gooding Jr. No Oscar-winner’s path has been more confounding than that of Gooding. He seemed poised for great things after his performance as the wide receiver opposite Tom Cruise in Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire, followed by his exuberant Oscar acceptance speech. Gooding has been in some decent movies since — Men Of Honor, Pearl Harbor, As Good As It Gets and American Gangster – but it also looked like he went for a lot of easy paydays and squandered his momentum. It also didn’t help that right after all the acclaim Gooding received for his performance as a player who stayed loyal to his sports agent, Gooding ditched his film agent right after, and has bounced like a tennis ball between talent agencies. He comes to ICM from CAA at a time when he has some momentum. He’s currently on Broadway in The Trip To Bountiful and has the lead role in Life Of A King, the indie film that premiered last weekend at the LA Film Festival. He should get a real boost from the Lee Daniels-directed The Butler, which The Weinstein Company releases August 16. He’s got a strong supporting role that could put Gooding back on track.
The deal announced today gives the live-streaming internet channel its first shot in the cable TV game. HuffPo Live will air six hours a day on Mark Cuban‘s AXS TV (formerly HDNet) starting May 13, the companies announced today.
Related: CBS Takes Equity Stake In AXS TV
Live television is more vital a platform than digital and new media, said Mark Cuban during a session on the opening day of the 50th anniversary NATPE/Content First conference. “The Internet is designed for everything but video. Television is designed for video,” Cuban said this morning in his keynote speech, moderated by CNN’s Poppy Harlow, during which he staked his ground in television over YouTube, smart TV and other emerging platforms and emphasized the growing role of “social television”. Read More »
Cuban Fury stars Nick Frost as a former salsa star who tries to regain his mojo and is from the UK’s Big Talk, the UK outfit behind Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and Paul. EOne has acquired North American rights to the romantic comedy from StudioCanal, which co-developed and co-financed with Film4, with additional financing from the British Film Institute. A 2013 theatrical release is planned. Rashida Jones, Chris O’Dowd, Ian McShane and Olivia Colman co-star. James Griffiths directed. The deal was negotiated by StudioCanal’s Harold Van Lier and Jo Sweby for eOne.
EXCLUSIVE: Would you believe there’s yet another potential movie about a film that was set up as a ruse to smuggle someone across a border? Joshua Bearman, whose Wired Magazine article about how the CIA used a fake film to free six embassy workers from Iran informed the Ben Affleck-directed Argo, has found another true story about a phony flick that is even more difficult to believe.
UTA is right now out to film producers with The Big Cigar, an article from December’s Playboy that details how Easy Rider producer Bert Schneider conjured up a film to help smuggle Black Panthers co-founder Huey Newton out of the U.S. and into Cuba to avoid being tried for murder and another violent crime. Bearman and Jim Hecht will write the script. Read More »
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
PBS is announcing today that The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, a new seven-part documentary series by Ken Burns, will air in 2014. Burns is slated to appear at TCA later in PBS’ 2-day session to discuss his previously-announced documentary The Dust Bowl, airing in November.
Related: PBS’ Ken Burns ‘The Dust Bowl’ Documentary Seen As “A Cautionary Tale”
The network also has two new special programs about the Cuban missile crisis that took place 50 years ago: Cuban Missile Crisis – Three Men Go to War and Secrets of the Dead: The Man Who Saved the World, both to air Oct. 23. “Three Men” explores the roles of President John F. Kennedy, Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev and Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Secrets of the Dead tells the story of Vasili Karpov, the man who refused to fire the nuclear missile during the standoff between Russia, the U.S. and Cuba. Most of the action takes place inside a submarine that is running out of air.
Related: ‘Downton Abbey’ Trailer Teases Plot Twists, Maggie Smith & Shirley MacLaine
Freelance writer Cari Lynn is a Deadline contributor based in Los Angeles.
“Television is an undervalued medium,” Marc Cuban declared today at the PGA’s Produced By Conference. It’s a different stance than earlier this decade when he launched HDNet to provide then-state-of-the-art high definition programming. Now, with the upcoming soft launch of AXS TV, a partnership among Cuban, Ryan Seacrest, AEG and CAA (which originated as a rebranding of HDNet/HDNet Canada), Cuban is far more optimistic about the boob tube than he is about online content. “Bits are bits,” he said. “Everything is digital…the Internet has no inherent value over TV. None, zippo. People forget that satellite, DirectTV, Dish, they’re all digital, they can do everything the Internet can do.” But Cuban did acknowledge that the next step for television is the network DVR, which he says “is going to happen.” He said he believed Dish Network’s much-contested Hopper DVR challenges traditional TV providers to take advantage of digital opportunities. “Dish is trying to get ahead of curve on user experience. If Dish reduces the risk to pay a premium for no commercials, why not?” Read More »
Two Cuban actors bound for the Tribeca Film Festival in New York who disappeared in Miami have come forward and confirmed they are seeking political asylum in the United States, Reuters reports. Anailin de la Rua and Javier Nuñez, cast members of Una Noche (One Night), appeared on TV Friday night on the Miami-based Spanish language channel America TeVe. De la Rua and Nunez said their real-life experience was not as dramatic as the harrowing story depicted in the movie for which Nuñez and Dariel Arrechada shared the festival’s best actor award. Una Noche follows three Cuban teens as they attempt to escape on a raft. De la Rua and Nuñez, who fell in love during filming, play a brother and sister. They said their decision to leave Cuba stemmed from the success of the film and invitations to travel to festival premieres in Berlin and New York. “In part it’s hard to leave your family and friends behind,” said de la Rua, who has two sisters and divorced parents in Havana. “But at the same time you do it so you can help them. There’s no future in Cuba.” Nunez said his mother lives alone in Cuba and he plans to help her out economically along with his older brother who left Cuba for Ecuador several years ago. Both now 20, the actors were 15 when they auditioned separately for the film, and then spent two … Read More »
Two of three Cuban featured in the Tribeca Film Festival entry Una Noche disappeared after their plane from Cuba landed in Miami. The three had been expected to travel to New York but Anailin de la Rua de la Torre and Javier Nunez Florian stayed in Miami, according to the third actor Dariel Arrechada. “I’m here alone in New York,” Arrechada told the Huffington Post. The movie is about three Cuban teenagers who try to escape Communist-ruled Cuba. Arrechada said he does not know where his co-stars are and plans to return to Cuba after the festval when his visa expires “in a few days.” All three are 20 years old. This is the “First time out of Cuba to the US!” for any of the Cuban-born actors, the film’s director Lucy Mulloy tweeted in late March. “I really was thinking that they were going to come here and enjoy the festival, and I thought they would love to participate in it,” Mulloy said. “They made a decision, I guess.”
EXCLUSIVE: Matt Letscher has been tapped for a co-starring role in the CW pilot Carrie Diaries. The project, based on Candace Bushnell’s novel, chronicles Carrie Bradshaw’s (AnnaSophia Robb) coming of age in the 1980s when she asks her first questions about love, sex, friendship and family while exploring the worlds of high school and Manhattan.Letscher will plat Carrie’s father. The actor, repped by IFA and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, is recurring on two upcoming series, NBC’s Bent and ABC’s Scandal.
Sharon Leal has landed a co-starring role opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. in the Fox drama pilot Guilty, from Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti. The project, written by Guggenheim and to be directed by McG, centers on William “Billy” Weston (Gooding), a brilliant, morally questionable defense attorney who, after being falsely convicted of fraud and stripped of his legal license, uses his unorthodox methods to solve the cases he’s been prohibited from handling … and to exact revenge on those who set him up. Leal, repped by IFA and Brillstein Entertainment, will play Gooding’s savvy and pretty wife who must deal with her husband’s relentless and unending drive.
In what would be his first series-regular gig, Cuba Gooding Jr is set as the lead in Fox’s legal drama pilot Guilty, from Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti. The project, written by Guggenheim and to be directed by McG, centers on William “Billy” Remz (Gooding), a brilliant, morally questionable defense attorney who, after being falsely convicted of fraud and stripped of his legal license, uses his unorthodox methods to solve the cases he’s been prohibited from handling … and to exact revenge on those who set him up. Guggenheim, Berlanti, McG and Peter Johnson executive produce the pilot for Warner Bros TV. While broadcast networks very rarely cast black actors as the leads of drama series, this pilot season we have two such projects – Guilty and ABC’s Last Resort, toplined by Andre Braugher. Additionally, Kerry Washington plays the lead in ABC’s upcoming midseason drama series Scandal. Gooding Jr, best known for his Oscar-winning turn in Jerry Maguire, recently co-starred in George Lucas’ Red Tails.
Ryan Seacrest, AEG and CAA’s year-long quest to launch a cable network has come to an end. The trio have partnered with Mark Cuban’s HDNet to launch a joint venture and rebrand HDNet/HDNet Canada as AXS TV (pronounced “access”). It will launch in June, replacing HDNet in 35 million homes.
Seacrest’s Ryan Seacrest Media will hold an ownership stake in AXS TV. As part of the deal, his Ryan Seacrest Prods will also develop and produce new programming for AXS TV. While actively working behind the scenes, Seacrest will not have an on-air presence on AXS TV. His participation in the joint venture also won’t interfere with his pending new NBCUniversal deal that will likely include on-air responsibilities, a first-look deal for Ryan Seacrest Prods and a continuing relationship with E!. ”Over the last year, we’ve been diligently working with our partners AEG and CAA to strategize and explore how we could deliver quality live entertainment and lifestyle programming to a large audience. HDNet is the perfect partner to help us translate our vision into a reality,” the CAA-repped Seacrest said. “Mark Cuban and (AEG’s) Tim Leiweke bring a tremendous amount of entrepreneurial experience and spirit to this venture, and I’m confident our collective collaboration will make AXS a success.” Cuban said that in the the new venture, he will work with “Ryan the entrepreneur, Ryan the mogul and Ryan the producer. We will pick his brain because AXS is about pop culture, and there is no one who has their finger on the pulse of pop culture more than Ryan,” he said. Read More »
Summer Movies Will Face Tough Competition in Britain
Things don’t look too rosy for the British summer box office in 2012. Film Distributors’ Association CEO Mark Batey told BBC News that May to September will be a difficult period. Competition will come from 2 1/2 weeks of the London Olympics, plus Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Paralympics. Summer films like The Dark Knight Rises, Battleship, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Bourne Legacy will have little chance to continue the British box office growth seen this year over 2010, Batey said. The British box office currently stands at £872 million, 4% higher than it was this time last year.
Spanish Sales Agency Freak Moves Into Feature Films
Madrid-based short-film sales agency Freak is branching out to feature films. It announced international sales of Bernard Arellano’s Between Night And Day and Celia Novis’ On Vampyres And Other Symptoms. Arellano’s movie won the Industry Award at the recent San Sebastian International Film Festival, and Novis’ film is screening at horror fest Sitges on Oct. 12. Freak also will attend the American Film Market this fall as well as the IDFA/Docs For Read More »