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Has The Drop In DreamWorks Animation’s Stock Price Created A Buying Opportunity?

Has The Drop In DreamWorks Animation’s Stock Price Created A Buying Opportunity?That’s what analysts are debating today after last night’s lower-than-expected Q2 earnings report — and disclosure of an SEC investigation —  drove shares -14.9% this morning as they hit 52-week lows. Skeptics say DreamWorks Animation is still too uncertain, especially with the additional news of the government probe into the $13.5M writedown in February for Turbo. “This clearly raises uncertainty in a stock that we think already carries  higher risk (both strategic and operational),” Morgan Stanley’s Ryan Fiftal says.

The performance of How To Train Your Dragon 2 — which has generated $166M in domestic box office sales since July 28 — reinforced the bear case, even though DWA says the film will be profitable. Dragon 2 ”should have done better than it did given its high quality, sequel status, and extraordinarily clear sailing in its release window,” Cowen and Co’s Doug Creutz says. Sterne Agee’s Vasily Karasyov adds that the softer-than-expected performance makes it “harder to argue that future sequels will offset soft results from original releases.” Making matters worse, he says, is DWA’s disclosure that its next two films — The Penguins Of Madagascar and Home — will each cost about $10M more than originally planned: $135M not including what DWA calls “incentive-based compensation.” That raises the possibility of a writedown, Karasyov says.

CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg said that DWA might reduce its per-film outlays by producing some “on a very different scale altogether, where it’s not incremental changes in the film cost, but the concepts of the movies and the style with which we would make … Read More »

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Andrew Lloyd Webber Suing ‘Spidey’ Producer Michael Cohl Over Aborted ‘Superstar’ Tour

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 4:07am PDT

Andrew Lloyd Webber Suing ‘Spidey’ Producer Michael Cohl Over Aborted ‘Superstar’ TourUPDATE July 30 — More Cohl background in fifth paragraph: While shameless, erstwhile rock promoter Michael Cohl let the New York Times bullhorn his vague plans for two new live-theater projects, Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Really Useful Group has confirmed its own plan to sue the Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark producer for the stunning cancellation of a North American Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar that had been planned for this summer.

Tim Rice - A Life In SongRUG “is taking legal action against Michael Cohl’s Options Clause Entertainment following his cancellation of the 2014 North American Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar,” Lloyd Webber announced through UK spokeswoman Janine Shalom. “The Really Useful Group (RUG) has no option but to proceed with legal action to recover its costs associated with the project and in turn, satisfy outstanding payments to suppliers and contractors.”

Cohl and his producing partner Jeremiah Harris took over the foundering production of Spider-Man at the request of U2 superstars Bono and The Edge, who wrote the score for the Julie Taymor-helmed show. By the time they were done, Taymor had been fired, half a dozen openings had been postponed, several people had been seriously injured, the show had become the butt of jokes ranging from Late Night With David Letterman to the cover of the New Yorker magazine — Spidey had ballooned to an $85 million disaster, the biggest flop in Broadway history.

Reeve Carney Takes His Final Bow In Broadway's "SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark"At its closing, Cohl and Harris promised a revamped version of the show for Las Vegas. In the Times on Monday, they said, “Oh, never mind,” about Vegas, but that maybe Spider-Man would tour arenas. Please focus attention, Cohl pleaded, on my two new ventures: a musical adaptation of the animated comedy Rio and “a live stage show” based on the film Alvin And The Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, according to the Times.

Superstar was actually the second Cohl project to go from red hot to stone cold in recent months. In April, he and his partners canceled an off-Broadway transfer of A Night With Janis Joplin starring amazing Tony nominee Mary Bridget Davies — just 48 hours before the announced first performance.

Now he’ll  have to deal with Lloyd Webber, who is no slouch when it comes to protecting his products in court. The Superstar tour had been cast, sets built and aggressively promoted when it was abruptly canceled in May. Read More »

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‘Downton Abbey’ Broadcaster ITV Projects Growth, Will Not Sell Assets

By | Wednesday July 30, 2014 @ 3:50am PDT

‘Downton Abbey’ Broadcaster ITV Projects Growth, Will Not Sell AssetsITV, the UK’s leading — and highly acquisitive — commercial broadcaster said this morning that it’s on track to deliver another year of growth despite a 3% drop in viewing figures for the flagship channel over the first six months of 2014. In releasing its half-year results, the company says external revenues are up 7% to £1,225M ($2,074M). That includes increases in non-advertising, online, pay, interactive, and ITV Studios revenues. The latter, which is one of the key areas the company has been focusing on, is up 2% to £402M ($681M). ITV has acquired a slew of independent production companies over the past nearly two years, most recently taking 80% of Pawn Stars maker Leftfield Entertainment. The broadcaster has also been on a transformation plan to reduce debt and says its total cost savings for the full year is ahead of target at about £15M ($25.4M). The acquisitions, it says, will “ensure continued good growth in ITV Studios this year and into next year” while a return to organic growth will be seen in 2015 helped by investment in scripted programming. The evolving strategy will include an increasing emphasis on international content creation and distribution. However, ITV is not expecting to be acquired itself. Liberty Global recently bought BSkyB’s 6.4% holding in ITV, but boss Adam Crozier said today that the broadcaster doesn’t plan to sell parts of its business. “We are certainly not considering selling off any parts of this business; … Read More »

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The Boy Who Lived: Warner Bros Sets Harry Potter Global Development Team

The Boy Who Lived: Warner Bros Sets Harry Potter Global Development TeamHarry Potter is also known as “the boy who lived” — and Warner Bros wants to keep it that way. The studio, which has been behind the franchise from the start way back in 2001, has now created a dedicated team to oversee its ongoing relationship with Potter creator JK Rowling. The Harry Potter Global Franchise Development team will be based in London and Burbank, and will help foster the studio’s expanded creative partnership with Rowling. Warner UK, Ireland and Spain President and Managing Director Josh Berger will add the title of President of HPGFD to his current role. The team will develop and execute a “high-level strategic vision” for the Potter brand, and its ancillary businesses, working closely with Rowling’s team at The Blair Partnership and other stakeholders and partners. Berger will be supported by Polly Cochrane in London, and Paul Condolora in Burbank.

Warner says the creation of HPGFD reflects the continuing expansion of the Potter franchise. That now includes the upcoming film series Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them; the Making of Harry Potter studio tour at Warner’s Leavesden Studios outside London; the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Japan and the expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida; a suite of Harry Potter digital services and products including the website Pottermore; and the Harry Potter stage play, which will open on the West End next year.
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So Who Comic-Conquered San Diego?

So Who Comic-Conquered San Diego?The fanboy Super Bowl is over. Who made the most of San Diego Comic-Con and who spit the bit? Here’s the view from Deadline staffers who endured endless movie and TV show presentations. We’ll start with features:

WARNER BROS: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jupiter Ascending, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Mad Max Comic ConThe best Comic-Con panels show fans things they’ve never seen before. From that standpoint, Warner Bros changed the game by making the Hall H experience seem larger. It turned the dark curtains covering 450 feet down the sides of the auditorium into a wraparound multimedia visual experience that left jaded geeks looking left and right in wonder at images that complemented the onstage presentation. Expect others to rip this off. For star power: Zack Snyder introduced his Batman v Superman stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot and offered glimpses of the film. Warner Bros also wowed with explosive footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that looks like it could be the answer someday to this Trivial Pursuit question: What movie transformed Tom Hardy from a great actor into a big fucking movie star? Warner Bros also brought Middle Earth excitement to Hall H with a lengthy Hobbit: The Five Armies panel and footage that had LOTR fans aflutter.

Related: Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con

MARVEL: Ant-Man, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Avengers 2 at Comic-ConMarvel is always the must-see panel; not so much this year. Maybe it was DC Comics’ turn to shine, and maybe being a sequel factory imposes limits on the surprise front. They trotted out the superstar Avengers lineup — been there, done that! — with additions Josh Brolin, Aaron Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen. No Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, who was busy bitch-slapping Hercules at the box office in the Luc Besson film Lucy. Footage was OK, but Kevin Feige set a high bar for himself in past Cons, and this year he couldn’t clear it. Ant-Man brought Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly (already knew they were in the movie), and plans for a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel were greeted by a collective “Duh!’ Feige could have told us what movies will fill all those release dates he recently staked out. He didn’t. Better luck next year, Marvel Man.

Related: Marvel Sets ‘Guardians 2′ For 2017; ‘Avengers 2’ Footage Draws Standing O

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Get On Line: Pluto.TV To Stream James Brown ’60s Videos On Biopic’s Debut Weekend

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 6:20pm PDT

Get On Line: Pluto.TV To Stream James Brown ’60s Videos On Biopic’s Debut WeekendOnline video site Pluto.TV will launch a James Brown-focused channel, streaming for free his classic 1960s-era live performances and timed with the Friday debut of “Get On Up,” a biopic about the “Godfather of Soul,” starring Chadwick Boseman and Viola Davis and directed by Tate Taylor.

The programming is coming from videos of Brown performances on the T.A.M.I. Show, a 1968 concert at Harlem’s Apollo Theater, a documentary about Brown’s riot-quelling show in Boston the night that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed and other video material collected by the music- and TV-reissue specialists at Shout Factory into a three-DVD set called I’ve Got a Feeling – James Brown in the ’60s. The videos will run from 9 a.m. Friday through the weekend, then be available on demand.

The Los Angeles-based Pluto.TV offers more than 100 channels of free online video, including ones for music, sports, entertainment, and children’s programming.

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UPDATE: DirecTV Says Pay TV Rivals “Have No Interest In Paying For Time Warner Cable’s Excess”

UPDATE: DirecTV Says Pay TV Rivals “Have No Interest In Paying For Time Warner Cable’s Excess”UPDATE: 5:37PM: The company behind SportsNet LA isn’t getting any sympathy from the country’s top satellite TV provider regarding the impasse over Dodgers telecasts in Los Angeles. DirecTV issued an unambiguous statement today in the wake of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler blaming Time Warner Cable for the mess and threatening to take action if it isn’t resolved soon. And the satcaster believes it speaks for a number of pay TV rivals: “We agree with DirecTV logoCongressman Sherman that any loyal Dodger fans deserve the opportunity to see games,” DirecTV said, “yet not at the expense of the millions of other AT&T U-verse, Charter Communications, Cox Communications, DIRECTV, Dish Network, Mediacom, Suddenlink Communications, Verizon FiOS and other families who have little or no interest in paying for Time Warner Cable’s excess. Rather than force everyone to bail Time Warner Cable out, the simplest solution is to enable only those who want to pay to see the remaining Dodgers games to do so at the price Time Warner Cable wants to set.”

Related: Time Warner Cable, DirecTV In Stalemate Over Dodgers Channel

Earlier today, TWC said it was open to having an arbitrator settle the matter, but DirecTV has shown no interest in that idea. “We are willing to enter into binding arbitration with DirecTV, and we appreciate the Congressman’s concern for Dodger fans,” TWC spokesman Andrew Fegyveresi said in a statement. “We prefer to reach agreements through private business negotiations, but given the current circumstance, we are willing to agree to binding arbitration and to allow DirecTV customers to watch the Dodgers games while the arbitration is concluded

Time Warner Cable logoPREVIOUSLY: 1:17PM: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has had it with the disputes that have kept most Los Angeles area pay TV customers from seeing the Dodgers — whose local TV rights are controlled by Time Warner Cable’s SportsNet LA. “Inaction is no longer acceptable,” Wheeler says in a tough letter today to TWC chief Rob Marcus. “I strongly urge you to end the impasses that are depriving Los Angeles consumers from being able to watch their home baseball team.” He adds that the FCC “intends to monitor this situation closely in order to determine whether intervention is appropriate and necessary.”

Related: DirecTV CEO Says He’s Seen “Immaterial” Sub Loss Without Dodgers Channel

Announced early last year, SportsNet LA was born out of the 25-year, multibillion-dollar deal Time Warner Cable inked with the Dodgers for broadcast rights. Sources say TWC is seeking $4-$5 per subscriber per month for channel in the first year of the contract. Roughly 70% of LA remains without SportsNet including DirecTV, which has close to a 30% share of the market with more than 1.2 million subs. Read More »

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Giancarlo Esposito Joins Musical Drama ‘Stuck’; Rom-Com ‘Temps’ Sets Leads

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 5:17pm PDT

Giancarlo Esposito Joins Musical Drama ‘Stuck’; Rom-Com ‘Temps’ Sets LeadsGiancarlo Esposito has joined the cast of NYC-set musical drama Stuck, about six strangers trapped on a stalled subway train. Filming is underway with a cast that includes Amy Madigan and singer-actress Ashanti. Esposito will play Lloyd, a mysterious homeless man who might offer more wisdom than expected.

Stuck is adapted from the stage play by Riley Thomas, who co-scripted with director Michael Berry; the helmer is set to release his drama Frontera, also co-starring Madigan alongside Ed Harris, Eva Longoria, and Michael Peña, this month. Esposito starred on the recent NBC series Revolution and was just announced as joining the cast of Disney’s The Jungle Book. He’s also in pre-production on his own project Patriotic Treason which he’ll direct, produce, and co-star opposite Ed Harris in the period retelling of the saga of abolitionist John Brown. Read More »

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FremantleMedia North America & Jeff Gaspin To Revive ‘To Tell the Truth’

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 4:41pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

FremantleMedia North America & Jeff Gaspin To Revive ‘To Tell the Truth’EXCLUSIVE: To Tell The Truth is eyeing a comeback. FremantleMedia North America has teamed with Jeff Gaspin and George Moll on a new version of the classic celebrity panel game show. Eyed for primetime on the broadcast networks, the new To Tell The Truth is described as an update of the familiar format with a surprising new twist that adds action and suspense and raises the stakes. It will be taken out to buyers shortly.

FremantleMediaNACreated by Bob Stewart, To Tell The Truth launched in the U.S. in 1956 and has gone through several incarnations on network TV and in syndication, airing a total of 25 seasons to date, with its most recent run ending in 2001. The original format features a panel of four celebrities who are introduced to three people who all claim to be the same person with the same incredible talent. One of them is telling the truth, and the other two are lying. After asking questions, the celebrities take turns identifying who they believe is telling the truth. Read More »

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Warner Bros’ New Franchise Play: ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ Book Series

By and | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 3:38pm PDT

Warner Bros’ New Franchise Play: ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ Book SeriesHarry Potter, The Hobbit and now … Dragonriders Of Pern? On an endless search to find big-scale fantasy books that lend themselves to global franchises, Warner Bros has optioned the Pern book series from the estate of American-Irish author Anne McCaffrey. There is a lot to work with here, with 22 volumes that make it one of the biggest selling sci-fi series ever. The first book was published in 1968, and the focus is on an elite group of warriors who take to the skies on the backs of giant, fire-breathing dragons with telepathic powers. They try to save the exotic planet of Pern from a terrifying airborne menace — a rain of deadly spores that comes with the orbit of the Red Star.

Related: Warner Bros Taps Drew Crevello As Senior Movie Production Veep

The deal was spearheaded by Warner Bros exec Drew Crevello, who joined the studio only a couple of months ago after writing for two years. He previously had been in production at Fox as a VP, where he worked on the X-Men franchise pics. Warners’ Julia Spiro also is working on the project. The series option deal comes as the studio searches keenly for another big franchise; this one could launch an entire merchandising and licensing product line. Just as important, it could be the fantasy the studio craves after Warner Bros rode Harry Potter into The Hobbit, which winds down later … Read More »

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Twitter Shares Up 31% After Hours On Earnings, User Growth

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 3:36pm PDT

Twitter Shares Up 31% After Hours On Earnings, User GrowthSocial-media service Twitter saw its shares fly skyward, jumping as high as 31 percent in after-hours trading after it reported much better earnings and continued user growth. The shares closed on the NYSE up 66 cents for the day, or about 1.7 percent, at $38.59  a share. Within less than two hours of post-market trading, however, the shares had hit as high as $49.99, a jump of more than $11, or 29.5 percent, just since the market close.

The big rise was fueled by Twitter’s better-than-expected earnings, up more than double for the quarter, and signs that its efforts to attract and keep new users were paying off. Revenues for Q2 hit $312.2M, way up from a year ago’s $139.3M, and also well above its own guidance of $270M to $280M. The company remains unprofitable, however, with losses widening to $144.6 million, up from $42.2 million the previous year, though that included costs such as stock-based compensation. Minus those expenses, the company logged a profit of 2 cents a share, way up from last year’s loss of 12 cents a share.

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TV Land Picks Up Jim Gaffigan’s CBS Comedy Pilot To Series With Second Window On Comedy Central

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 3:31pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

TV Land Picks Up Jim Gaffigan’s CBS Comedy Pilot To Series With Second Window On Comedy CentralJim Gaffigan single-camera comedy pilot is getting a series order at TV Land. After lengthy negotiations, the cable network has closed a deal for a 10-episode order to project, created by Gaffigan and Peter Tolan, which is now titled The Gaffigan Show.  Originally developed and produced by Sony TV and twice piloted by CBS, the comedy will stay single-camera and will remain based in New York where Gaffigan lives with his family and where the two CBS pilots were shot. It will premiere on TV Land in 2015. Sony TV will have a passive role in the series, which became possible after TV Land was able to bring the budget down. Also boarding the project is TV Land sibling Comedy Central, which will air the episodes within one week after their TV Land premiere. The synergy is natural as Gaffigan is a very well liked comedian with strong following on Comedy Central, and the airings on the comedy-themed network would expose the series to a larger audience. While sibling Viacom channels have pitched in to help each other in the past, like Logo coming on board to co-produce Comedy Central’s Sarah Silveman Program to make its renewal financially possible, in this case the shared window is described as a purely promotional move, with TV Land footing the entire bill for the series.

Image (2) Gaffigan__120915022505.png for post 402168Inspired by Gaffigan’s real life, The Gaffigan Show explores one man’s (Gaffigan) struggle in New York … Read More »

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Jack Kirby Heirs Blast “Indefensible” Marvel Over SCOTUS Copyright Petition

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 2:14pm PDT

Jack Kirby Heirs Blast “Indefensible” Marvel Over SCOTUS Copyright PetitionTo quote the Thing from the Fantastic Four – “It’s clobberin time!” Just two days after Jack Kirby was honored at Comic-Con, lawyers for the heirs of the comic legend have replied to Marvel and Disney with a pummeling brief filed at the Supreme Court. “Respondents, although called to respond, do not address the legal issues. Instead, they focus on the wrong questions and the wrong court,” say lawyer Marc Toberoff and Tom Goldstein, a new attorney on the case, today. After failing repeatedly in lower courts, Lisa Kirby, Neal Kirby, Susan Kirby and Barbara Kirby petitioned the High Court on March 21 for a hearing. The heirs want SCOTUS to rule in favor of their assertion that they had the right in 2009 to issue dozens of termination notices to Marvel and others on the artist’s characters under the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act. Read More »

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Lily James, Paul Dano Circling BBC, Weinstein Co ‘War And Peace’ Miniseries

Lily James, Paul Dano Circling BBC, Weinstein Co ‘War And Peace’ MiniseriesEXCLUSIVE: The six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic War And Peace is beginning to cast up. I hear that Downton Abbey’s Lily James and PrisonersPaul Dano have offers for lead roles and are seriously circling. The mini hails from BBC Worldwide, The Weinstein Co and Ripper Street‘s Look Out Point. Described as one of the most ambitious event series ever made for the BBC, it will be produced by BBC Cymru Wales and scripted by Andrew Davies. James would play Natasha Rostova, one of the novel’s central War and Peacecharacters, who ultimately falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov, the awkward illegitimate son who rises in society but leads a tumultuous life as he seeks to overcome his emotions. Dano would play Pierre. In King Vidor’s 1956 feature adaptation, the roles were played by Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda.

The notoriously expansive novel begins in 1805 Russia and revolves around five aristocratic families set against the backdrop of the reign of Alexander I, the lingering effects of his grandmother Catherine The Great’s rule and the events surrounding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Executive producers on the mini are BBC Cymru Wales drama chief Faith Penhale, BBC Wales’ George Ormond, Davies, Look Out Point’s Simon Vaughn and Harvey Weinstein.

The miniseries is due for air in the UK in 2015 and was a first sign of The Weinstein Co’s ambitions to forge into the European TV arena when it was announced in October. The company subsequently teamed with the BBC and Look Out on upcoming TV movie Stan And Ollie, which is being scripted by Philomena’s Jeff Pope. TWC also acquired U.S. TV and VOD rights for the first three seasons of BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders. Read More »

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California Democrats Urge Passage Of State Film & TV Tax Incentives

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 1:29pm PDT

California Democrats Urge Passage Of State Film & TV Tax IncentivesStating that “the future of California’s creative culture and economy depends on it,” 28 members of the California Democratic congressional delegation weighed in on runaway production, urging the state legislature to approve, and Gov. Jerry Brown to sign, an enhanced tax credit to keep film and TV production from fleeing the state. “We fear a day, not too far off, when the film industry in California is hollowed out and it becomes easier to produce a movie or television show in New York or Louisiana than in California,” the delegation said in a statement sent to California Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. “As production moves out of our state, skilled human capital will relocate along with it, and our greatest competitive advantage, our talented workforce will move elsewhere. If that happens, it will be a tragedy for our state’s economy and our cultural history.” Read More »

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TV Land’s ‘Kirstie’ Cancelled After One Season

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 1:18pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

TV Land’s ‘Kirstie’ Cancelled After One SeasonI’ve learned that TV Land has opted not to renew comedy Kirstie for a second season. The decision comes five months after the show ended its freshman run. Kirstie was not a ratings or critical hit but it featured a dream cast of sitcom stars: Alley, Rhea Perlman and Michael Richards. The show revolved around Madison “Maddie” Banks (Alley), a Broadway star who finds her life turned upside down when Arlo (Eric Petersen), her long-lost son, turns up looking to connect after his adopted mother dies. Perlman played Maddie’s assistant and best friend; Richards played Maddie’s outlandish driver. Possibly factoring into TV Land’s decision was the fact that Kirstie creator/executive producer/showrunner Marco Pennette left at the end of Season 1 for personal reasons and the network had to search for a new showrunner.

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UPDATE: SEC Investigating DreamWorks Animation Writedown On ‘Turbo’; Shares Fall After Q2 Earnings Miss

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 1:18pm PDT

UPDATE: SEC Investigating DreamWorks Animation Writedown On ‘Turbo’; Shares Fall After Q2 Earnings MissUPDATE: DreamWorks Animation just disclosed the SEC investigation in its conference call with analysts and says it’s cooperating. The company took a $13.5M writedown on Turbo in February. DWA told analysts that it won’t comment further on the matter. Shares were down 8.2% after the news; if that holds tomorrow then it would be a 52-week low.

turbo_posterSeparately, CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg declined to comment on the potential impact on his company if its distributor, Fox, acquires Time Warner. “Honestly, it’s way above my pay grade,” he says.

DWA said that it has bought from Paramount distribution rights to its feature films prior to 2013. They’ll now all be handled by Fox.

Katzenberg calls 2014 an investment year for DWA as it builds consumer products, TV programming, digital, and location-based entertainment. He adds that, generally speaking, the film “marketplace has gotten tougher. We’re competing against more movies than we have in the past.” Still, he says DWA is examining the lower-than-expected sales for Dragon 2. Read More »

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VH1′s Cheerleader Drama ‘Hit The Floor’ Renewed For Third Season

By | Tuesday July 29, 2014 @ 12:55pm PDT

VH1′s Cheerleader Drama ‘Hit The Floor’ Renewed For Third SeasonVH1 definitely is rah-rah about its NBA cheerleader soap, giving it a third season pickup-and-roll two weeks before its Season 2 finale.  Hit The Floor will return for 10 episodes starting in May. According to the network, the ensemble series about the fictional Los Angeles Devils Girls cheer squad is the No. 1 ad-supported scripted drama on cable among women 18-49. It stars Dean Cain, Kimberly Elise, Taylour Paige, Logan Browning, Valery Ortiz, Katherine Bailess, Jonathan McDaniel, McKinley Freeman, Rob Riley, Adam Senn, Brent Antonello, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe and Don Stark. “Hit The Floor delivered again with fantastic ratings and social media engagement in season two, especially among women,” said Susan Levison, EVP Original Programming & Production at VH1. “We look forward to seeing what kind of trouble the Devil Girls will get into next season.”

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Spanish Oscar Winners Decry Israeli Occupation Of Gaza; Courageous Or Catastrophic?

Spanish Oscar Winners Decry Israeli Occupation Of Gaza; Courageous Or Catastrophic?The Gaza conflict touched the film business this month when dealmakers and filmmakers ran for a bomb shelter as shelling got too close at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and when Israeli filmmakers Ronit Elkabetz, Keren Yedaya, and Shlomi Elkabetz urged their government to seek a truce with Hamas. The attention on the world stage spiked today when Spanish Oscar winners Pedro Almodovar, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz put signatures to a statement expressing outrage over “the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza Strip against Palestinian civilians.” Stars who take political positions on world issues do so at their own peril and at the risk of hurting their business by polarizing potential audiences.

Related: gazaFear, Rockets And Anxiety Overshadowed Film At Jerusalem Festival

The strongly worded open letter (Spanish text here), is harsh, accusing Israel of practicing “State terrorism.” Others have chimed in about the Arab-Israeli tensions, like Miral director Julian Schnabel, who told Deadline he was shocked when traveling in Israel with that book’s writer (and his then-girlfriend) Rula Jebreal and how she was degraded as a matter of course in settlement areas. “It was an epiphany,” he said. “I was totally naïve, totally in the dark and I believe so many of the American Jewish population are totally in the dark. We cannot believe that a Jewish person would behave like that. It’s not the Jewish way. We have suffered so much that if anybody should understand the Palestinian problem, it should be Jewish people. It was so disappointing and ashamed at certain moments. I was at the airport one day, leaving with Rula. I respect the security, when they check your bags. But they took her bags and put them through an X-ray machine not once but three times. We went to a second checkpoint and they made her strip and, the last minute, let her come on the airplane Jon Kilik and I were taking. And it felt just like apartheid, there was absolutely no reason for it. It was pure racism and prejudice. It was cruel and I was ashamed of everybody in that airport.”

Related: Q&A: Julian Schnabel On Politics Of ‘Miral’

sean pennThere is a tradition of stars speaking out on everything from the Hollywood Blacklist to Vietnam (Jane Fonda will never be known as anything but Hanoi Jane by a certain segment of the population), and the pros and cons of gun control. Some stars just don’t seem to care about polarizing audiences. Like Sean Penn, a patron saint of Haiti for his tireless humanitarian work there raised hackles when he defended Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and called on the U.S. government to end sanctions; or Jim Carrey, who has made bold appeals for gun control each time another school massacre occurs. Read More »

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