TLC is bolstering its West Coast Development and Production operations with the hires of two new vice presidents. Jack Tarantino has been named VP Production West Coast and Elvia Van Es Oliva joins as VP Development West Coast. Both are based in the LA office and report to Sandy Varo Jarrell, SVP, Production & Development West Coast. In his new role, Tarantino leads the department’s production team and their slate of current programming. Tarantino comes to TLC from Style Network, where he served as VP of Original Programming, overseeing the day-to-day of new and recurring series for the network. Van Es Oliva will lead her team in creating original concepts for the network, as well as working with the external creative community to add to TLC’s programming slate. Prior to TLC, Van Es Oliva served as SVP of Development for Fly On The Wall Entertainment.
NEW YORK– Social news agency Storyful, a division of News Corp, has partnered with Facebook for the launch of FB Newswire (http://www.facebook.com/FBNewswire), a resource that will make it easier for journalists and newsrooms to find, share and embed newsworthy content from Facebook in the media they produce.
More than one billion people use Facebook to discover, explore and participate in news-making events around the world. Powered by Storyful, which discovers, verifies, acquires and distributes timely and relevant video and user-generated content, FB Newswire is a resource for journalists that aggregates newsworthy content shared publicly on Facebook by individuals and organizations across the world. This includes original photos, videos, and status updates posted by people on the front lines of major events including protests, elections, and sporting events.
LOS ANGELES – April 24, 2014 – Fandango, the nation’s leading moviegoer destination, today announced it has signed an agreement with ZEFR, Inc. (ZEFR) to acquire MOVIECLIPS, the leading movie presence on YouTube. The MOVIECLIPS network consists of MOVIECLIPS.com and 25 YouTube channels, including the #1 movie trailers channel. The entire network encompasses a catalog of 45,000 curated film clips, trailers, and original video productions. With more than 7 million subscribers, MOVIECLIPS’ YouTube network averages 200 million video views per month.*
ITV Studios UK has moved quickly to fill the Managing Director post that will be vacated by Denise O’Donoghue at the end of 2014. Julian Bellamy, who is currently Discovery Networks International Creative Director and Head of Commissioning, will take over from O’Donoghue later this year, ITV said today. TV veteran O’Donoghue has been MD at ITV Studios UK for four years and will remain on the board of the country’s largest commercial production company after stepping down. Bellamy has spent three years at Discovery, running production and development across 200 countries, with commissioning teams in five international bases. Prior to DNI, he ran the UK’s Channel 4, managing over 2,000 hours of original programming per year including Undercover Boss, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and One Born Every Minute. He previously held executive posts at the BBC and E4. ITV Studios’ titles include Mr Selfridge, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Breathless and the upcoming Thunderbirds Are Go! The production arm of ITV is one of the biggest growth areas for the group, which has been on a U.S. and UK shopping spree in the past 18 months.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has found what the studio believes will be its next global franchise. The studio has closed a partnership with Mattel and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation on a live-action comedy built around Barbie, the top-selling fashion doll. This is no development deal, it’s all moving very quickly. Studio chief Amy Pascal oversaw this deal herself, along with production president Hannah Minghella, and this movie is getting made. Jenny Bicks is writing the script and the intention is to begin production before year’s end.
The film will be produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who are also rebooting Men In Black for the studio. The exec producers are Parkes+MacDonald president Marc Resteghnini and Julia Pistor for Mattel’s Playground Productions.
Studios prize franchises more than ever, and it is particularly a priority at Sony. The key to turning these brands into successful films comes down to execution, as was particularly evident in the way that Warner Bros turned The Lego Movie into something with a high cool factor for kids. The plan for Barbie is also clever. Some of the doll’s appeal has been cool clothes and of course Ken, but beyond accessorizing, the toy has always been about female empowerment. Barbie has been part of merchandise packages that span over 150 careers, and Bicks and Parkes and MacDonald won the rights from Mattel when they plugged into that with their pitch for a contemporary tale. It allows the character Barbie to use her personal and professional skills to step into the lives of others and improve them, almost like a modern-day Mary Poppins. That storyline allows for the discovery of a young actress to play the title character, and young cast to play Ken and Barbie’s best friend, putting stars around them that can change in subsequent movies. Much the way that Marvel has managed its costs with deals that call for options on future films as they create stars with their superhero movies, this seems a way to keep costs manageable for another live-action series meant to span multiple films.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline International Editor Nancy Tartaglione and host David Bloom run through all the many announcements for different segments of the Cannes Film Festival the past week, from the main competition to Critics Week to the Directors Fortnight. The big news: lots of female directors, lots of Canadians. David and Nancy also update what happened to that rumored sale of the UK’s Channel 5 and Malta’s efforts to boost its attractiveness as a filming location in the middle of the Mediterranean with better tax incentives. They wrap up with their weekly peek at news and trends in the international box office, as the Amazing Spider-Man 2 began to spin its web, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Rio 2 and Noah all passed major milestones.
EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel, which decided Sunday to scrap its much ballyhooed live Mount Everest jump after a weekend avalanche there killed 13, will instead telecast a special documenting the disaster. In much the same way the Naudet brothers happened to be at the World Trade Center towers the morning of September 11, 2001, filming a documentary about members of Lower Manhattan’s Engine 7, Ladder 1 firehouse, and wound up instead producing the docu 9/11, so too were camera crews for the Discovery Channel jump at Everest at the time of the single deadliest incident in the history of the peak. NBC News’ Peacock Productions crews, which were to have produced the live jum, was at base camp at the time of the avalanche. Crews had been shooting footage in advance of Discovery’s planned five nights of live programs culminating in Joby Ogwyn’s May 11 jump.
The special will document last weekend’s disaster that struck at 7 AM Friday, Nepal time, and will follow the Sherpa community’s reaction, grieving, and ceremonies for the victims. Ogwyn will be interviewed for the special; he and his team were involved in recovering the bodies from the mountain.
Travel Channel unveiled eight new shows in development at parent Scripps Networks Interactive’s upfront today in NYC. The greenlit pilots include Breaking Borders (wt), Nigel’s Last Resort (wt) and Watt’s World (wt), which offer a distinct POV of a seasoned explorer with a penchant for discovery. Captivating locations with a focus on the adventure and exploration of subcultures describe Guiding Alaska (wt), Metropolis (wt) and Only In… (wt). Rounding out the development slate is a pilot that examines the business of travel in Adventure Capitalists (wt), while Find My Past (wt) uncovers our personal connections to history’s most extraordinary events, according to the network. Click over for complete descriptions:
Cannes: 2014 Directors’ Fortnight Lineup Unveiled; ‘Whiplash’, ‘Cold In July’, ‘Catch Me Daddy’, ‘Pride’, John Boorman & More
UPDATE, 3:45 AM PT, WRITETHRU: The 19 features that will make up what looks like a particularly strong Directors’ Fortnight sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival were revealed this morning in Paris with a hefty dose of genre in the mix. Along with a special 4K restoration of Tobe Hooper’s classic 1974 frightfest The Texas Chain Saw Massacre comes Alleluia, a psychological horror pic from Belgium’s Fabrice Du Welz that’s inspired by the 1940s serial murdering Lonely Hearts Killers. Also on the roster are Australian helmer Zach Hilditch’s thriller These Final Hours with Jessica De Gouw (Dracula, Arrow); and Jim Mickle‘s Sundance pic Cold In July with Michael C. Hall as a small town Texas man who kills a home intruder and finds his life unraveling into a dark underworld of corruption and violence. This is the second year in a row that Mickle is appearing in the Fortnight following a bow in Sundance. Also out of Park City is Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash, the Grand Jury prize-winner spearheaded by producers Jason Blum and Jason Reitman. (See below for the full list of Fortnight features and shorts.)
The roster for Cannes Film Festival sidebar Critics’ Week was announced this afternoon with seven films in competition and two special screenings, along with the opening and closing titles. Figuring amongst the mix is Inglourious Basterds star Mélanie Laurent with her second directorial outing, Respire, which grabbed a special screening berth. Out of the competition titles, two are from return helmers: Self Made by Israel’s Shira Geffen, whose 2007 Les Méduses won the Cannes Camera d’Or; and horror pic It Follows by David Robert Mitchell. Mitchell was in Critics’ Week in 2010 with The Myth Of The American Sleepover. British filmmaker Andrea Arnold is presiding over the jury for the 53rd edition of Critics’ Week (aka Semaine de la Critique). France’s Rebecca Zlotowski is overseeing the jury for the section’s new Sony CineAlta Discovery Prize. While some Critics’ Week titles can appear somewhat obscure at first glance, it’s worth recalling that the section has been a proving ground for such talent as Guillermo del Toro, Gaspar Noé, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Emanuele Crialese, and Jeff Nichols. The section runs this year from May 15-23. Here’s the full list of titles:
“In light of the overwhelming tragedy at Mt Everest and respect for the families of the fallen, Discovery Channel will not be going forward with Everest Jump Live,” the network said in a statement early Sunday afternoon, adding, ” Our thoughts and prayers go out to the whole Sherpa community.” On Friday morning NBC News, whose Peacock Productions is producing Discovery’s Mount Everest live jump, had said “the future of the production will be assessed at the appropriate time” after an avalanche occurred Thursday night — the deadliest disaster ever recorded at the peak.
On Saturday, the project’s star, Joby Ogwyn had tweeted that the project would continue, a charity would be set up “to take care of our fallen Sherpa and those who could fall in the future,” and that his jump had taken on a larger meaning:
Today is a brighter day. We are staying on the mountain to honor our friends and complete our project. Soon I… http://t.co/oQmhjpuMHV
— Joby Ogwyn (@jobyogwyn) April 20, 2014
But Discovery and other participants decided otherwise and the decision to pull the plug was made this morning.
UPDATE: James Franco’s Former Biz Management’s Countersuit “Will Be Shut Down Quickly”, Says Plaintiffs’ Attorney
UPDATED, 8:20 PM: Just hours after James Franco’s former management company sued the actor’s ex-rep and his ex-financial adviser for fraud and a litany of other claims, Tanner Mainstain Blatt Glynn & Johnson LLP has fired back with a counterclaim. “JLM, the management company, was rife with internal mismanagement, surreptitious behavior, duplicitousness and questionable ethical acts,” the Hollywood financial management company said in its 7-page filing today in LA Superior Court. “By its Complaint, the management company and its owners seek to make TMBGJ responsible for their own myriad internal shortcomings.” The counterclaim alleges that in desperation to keep The Planet Of The Apes actor as a client, JLM partner and co-founder Randy James looked the other way at his former partner Miles Levy’s supposed skimming of a third of Franco’s commissions from 2006 to late 2013 as well as other indiscretions.
The lawyers for James and fellow plaintiff and former JLM director Ken Jacobson isn’t buying the spirit or the letter of the counterclaim. “This is no defense to the complaint’s allegations that Tanner Mainstain name partner Steve Blatt knowingly facilitated, concealed and profited from Mr. Levy’s theft from the corporation,” plaintiffs’ primary attorney Devin McRae said in a statement after the counterclaim was filed today. “The law doesn’t allow fraudsters to point to the victim and say, ‘It’s your fault I duped you’. This pleading will be shut down quickly.” TMBGJ is represented by attorney Randall Dean of LA film Chapman Glucksman Dean Roeb & Barger.
PREVIOUSLY, 1:06 PM: Last fall my colleague Mike Fleming Jr reported that James Franco and Miles Levy, his manager of almost two decades, had parted ways. Today, according to a multi-claim complaint (read it here) filed in LA Superior Court, we might have a sense of what really happened. “Box office star James Franco’s recently fired talent and financial managers, Defendants Miles Levy and Steve Blatt, conspired to, and did by fraudulent means, embezzle significant sums in commissions due James Levy Management for nearly a decade,” says the filing for a jury trial. It adds dramatically: “The thieves have been caught and the day of reckoning has arrived.”
Levy is said to have been skimming a third of the 15% Franco has been paying in commissions to the Burbank-based management company since 2006. Alleging breach of contract, fraud and unjust enrichment among other claims, James Levy Management co-founder Randy James and former company director Ken Jacobson have gone after Levy plus big-time Hollywood financial management firm Tanner Mainstain Blatt Glynn & Johnson LLP and partner Blatt for unspecified compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages. They also want an independent accounting, a court declaration of their rights, and an order “removing Levy from office.” The plaintiffs say they discovered this case of sticky fingers on March 20, 2014 and that is why they have brought this legal action now. Obviously, the 50-year friendship and 28-year business partnership between James and Levy has hit a bit of a rocky period to put it mildly.
EXCLUSIVE: While the second unit crew shooting Everest were in the vicinity when a tragic avalanche struck Mount Everest and so far has killed 13, there were no injuries or fatalities on the film, I can report. Principal photography on the Baltasar Kormakur-directed film is nearly over and they are finishing in Pinewood in England, but the second unit was setting up to go and shoot at Base 2 on Mount Everest near Nepal. Fortunately for the crew, they were acclimating at the foot of the summit and weren’t up where the disaster took place, when a wall of ice 1,000 feet up fell off at the left shoulder of the mountain and crashed down on Base 2. Most of the fatalities were experienced sherpas that guide climbers to the summit. Several of the sherpas involved with the Everest production rushed to help. The production will now have to wait to assess whether a trek back up the mountain to finish shooting is feasible.
The guides were carrying equipment and supplies to camps for climbers getting ready for peak trekking season — including those preparing to participate in Discovery Channel‘s Everest Jump Live, produced by NBC News Peacock Prods. Seven NBC News staffers on site are accounted for and unharmed, and Discovery said it has not had conversations as to how the disaster might impact the event’s scheduled May 11 air date.
NBC News, whose Peacock Productions is producing Discovery’s Mount Everest live jump, said this morning “the future of the production will be assessed at the appropriate time” after the deadliest disaster ever recorded at the peak killed 13 Sherpa guides last night. The guides were carrying equipment and supplies to camps for climbers getting ready for peak trekking season — including those preparing to participate in Discovery Channel‘s Everest Jump Live, produced by the NBC News division.
Discovery, which had just announced Monday the live two-hour event would air May 11, said this morning its star Joby Ogwyn was at base came at the time of the avalanche, which struck a group of about 50 — mostly Nepalese sherpas — at more than 20,000 feet. Four people remain missing, according to Nepal’s Tourism Ministry. Discovery said it has has not had conversations as to how the disaster might impact its plans. ”The avalanche last night on Mt. Everest is a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with those who are lost and with their families. The immediate priority for Joby and the team is to assist the search and rescue efforts in anyway possible.”
NBC News said its crews were on Mt. Everest preparing for Discovery’s special — in which Ogwyn is scheduled to climb Everest and leap from the summit wearing only a winged suit equipped with cameras – when the avalanche struck.
“The biggest tragedy of this is that it’s the very beginning of the [climbing] season and to lose this number of people at the very beginning of the season may be the end of the season here,” cameraman Ed Wardle told NBC’s Today show co-host Savannah Guthrie.
“I think a lot of people are wondering whether it’s appropriate to go on, given the scale of this tragedy,” Guthrie quickly jumped in when Wardle’s “biggest tragedy” talk took that cold turn. (Video after the jump)
NBC News issued a statement this morning saying, “We are grateful and relieved that the seven NBC News staffers on site are all accounted for and unharmed. Tragically, 13 Nepalese sherpas from a number of expedition companies who prepare the mountain each year for climbing season lost their lives, and the rescue mission continues. We are working closely with the team on the ground to assist however we can, and our thoughts and prayers are with the affected families.”
Drafthouse Films‘ Evan Husney is stepping down from his post as Creative Director after nearly three years at the upstart distribution label. New York-based Husney, 27, will be shifting focus to producing and is working with directors Jason Eisener (Hobo With A Shotgun) and Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm) on their next features. Husney helped develop the specialty distro arm of Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas from the ground up when company founder Tim League tapped him to run creative ops in 2011. Shortly thereafter Drafthouse Films scored an Academy Award nomination with one of its first acquisitions, director Michaël R. Roskam’s Belgian drama Bullhead, which vied for Best Foreign Film at the 2012 Oscars. Last year Husney and the Drafthouse team mounted their second Oscar campaign in three years for Best Documentary nominee The Act of Killing, director Josh Oppenheimer’s critically-acclaimed documentary about Indonesian death squad leaders.
Since its inception the label has acquired a variety of specialty releases spanning genre, action, drama, comedy, foreign, and repertory titles, plucking often-challenging fare from the lineups of Austin’s Fantastic Fest (which League founded) and SXSW. “When [Drafthouse Films] started we wanted to acquire movies we loved and films we thought are great, utilize our backgrounds as programmers and approach distribution with a curatorial quality – a real cinephiles for cinephiles label,” Husney told me.
NBCU’s Wilshire Studios Inks Overall Deals With Producers Stephanie Bloch Chambers & C. Russell Muth
NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment’s Wilshire Studios is ramping up its unscripted development slate, inking new overall deals with Stephanie Bloch Chambers (Chrisley Knows Best, Married To Jonas) and C. Russell Muth (DEA, Bordertown Laredo). Chambers worked on Bravo’s Toned Up, It’s A Brad Brad World and three seasons of Bethenny Ever After. Muth produced shows for Discovery Channel and TruTV such as American Chopper, American Casino, Tiger Team, and America’s Toughest Bars. He also produced Coast Guard Alaska for the Weather Channel and Big Easy Justice for Spike. Wilshire Studios also is growing its internal development team, hiring reality vet Benny Reuven as VP Development and Programming. Reuven previously served as a development executive at OWN and produced shows including Chef Wanted for Food Network.
Back in February, word began to spread that longtime frenemies John Malone and Rupert Murdoch were eyeing a joint acquisition of the UK’s Channel 5. Malone-backed Discovery Communications and BSkyB, majority owned by Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, have now reportedly gone ahead and sewn up a deal. Broadcast reported that Discovery and BskyB are nearing an announcement they have acquired the broadcaster in a deal valued at £350M, which would give the former a 70% stake and the latter 30%. But media entrepreneur Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, owner of Channel 5, has said it received several bids and was still evaluating them, according to Bloomberg. The free-to-air broadcaster was thought to be seeking a buyer with about £700M to spend, but many were skeptical it would fetch such a price; Desmond paid about £103.5M for it in 2010. Other companies that have been said to have shown interest include Viacom, Turner Broadcasting, BT, NBCUniversal and Saban Capital.
Channel 5 is notably the home of Big Brother, although its contract for the show expires in 2015. The net also airs U.S. dramas like Under The Dome, CSI and Person Of Interest; weekly average ratings hover around 4%.
Participant Media‘s network Pivot today announced the pickup of Sky Atlantic’s 12-episode drama series Fortitude starring Stanley Tucci and Michael Gambon. The series became available in the U.S. in December when Starz, which originally had committed to the project, pulled out. Pivot is designed as a younger skewing network than Starz, with its target demo being 18-34. As part of its upfront presentation, Pivot also announced an overhaul of its nightly topical series, TakePart Live. Beginning Monday, May 12, the hour-long late-night program will move to primetime (10 PM) with a new producer, Michael Davies’ Embassy Row, which is behind Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live and AMC’s Talking Dead/Bad. Also undergoing makeover is the hosting team of Jacob Soboroff and Cara Santa Maria, with only Soboroff coming back, joined by Sen. John McCain’s daughter Meghan McCain and comedian Eddie Huang.
Pivot also unveiled a development slate that includes eleven projects from production companies including IAC’s Electus, Universal Cable Prods., FremantleMedia North America/Pukeko Pictures, Funny or Die, and Eyeworks, and revealed premiere 2014-15 dates, including an August 8 debut for the sophomore season of coming-of-age comedy, Please Like Me, and the comedy Human Resources. “Our second slate demonstrates our significant investment in, and commitment to, groundbreaking content for the thought-leading segment of Generation Y we call ‘Upstanders,’” said Pivot president Evan Shapiro. Here is Pivot’s full slate:
Global Showbiz Briefs: Simon Dickson Leaving Shine Group’s Dragonfly; ITV Agrees To Revive ‘Hollywood Squares’ Format; More
Simon Dickson Exiting As Managing Director Of Shine Group’s Dragonfly
Simon Dickson, Managing Director of Shine Group factual producer Dragonfly, is leaving the company after three years. The exec will step down next month, with Dragonfly Creative Director Mark Raphael and COO Lucinda Hicks taking over as Co-Managing Directors. Dickson joined Dragonfly in April 2011 as the company’s Creative Director before becoming Managing Director in November 2012. Prior to joining Dragonfly, he served as Deputy Head of Documentaries at Channel 4. At Dragonfly, Dickson was executive producer on event documentary The Plane Crash (Discovery and Channel 4) and celebrities-in-the-wilderness series Bear Grylls’ Wild Weekends (Channel 4). Under his stewardship the company has delivered such documentaries as The Horsemeat Banquet (BBC Three), Terror At Sea: The Sinking Of The Concordia (Channel 4) and Hurricane Sandy: Anatomy Of A Superstorm (BBC Two) alongside series People Like Us and What Happens In Kavos for BBC Three and Channel 4, respectively.