WE tv‘s slate of unscripted original programming for 2014-2015 includes a one-hour pilot of Charlie Sheen’s Bad Influence, a relationship-based competition show in which Sheen puts engaged couples to the ultimate test by challenging how well they think they know their intended. The pilot is currently in production in Los Angeles and was announced today during WEtv’s upfront presentation. The network also greenlighted the new series Match Made In Heaven, Mystery Millionaire and David Tutera’s CELEBrations and renewed the popular shows Kendra On Top, Marriage Boot Camp and the Braxton Family Values spinoff Tamar & Vince. In addition to the network’s growing unscripted efforts, WE tv will debut its first original scripted series, The Divide, this July. The network previously announced the fourth season of Braxton Family Values, second season of SWV Reunited, and the new series Love Thy Sister debuting this summer. Here’s a complete description of its slate:
The streaming service has put together a decidedly international cast for its upcoming drama about the legendary 13th century traveler. Italian actor Lorenzo Richelmy stars as the title character in Marco Polo, which has begun filming in Venice before moving on to Kazakhstan and the new Pinewood Studios in Malaysia. Richelmy starred in the Italian dramedy Terra e vento and has appeared in other films including Fat Cat and Terzo tempo. The cast also includes England’s Benedict Wong (Prometheus), China’s Zhu Zhu (Cloud Atlas), Hong Kong-born and London-raised Tom Wu (Skyfall), Aussie Remy Hii (Treading Water) and Washington, D.C. native Rick Yune (Olympus Has Fallen). Creator John Fusco and Harvey Weinstein are executive producing the Weinstein Co. drama, which received a 10-episode straight-to-series order in January. Kon-Tiki helmers Joachim Ronning & Espen Sandberg are directing the first two episodes. Dan Minahan is exec producing and also directing two episodes. The series is set in China during the 1200s — a world replete with astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles. Netflix plans to debut Marco Polo late this year.
EXCLUSIVE: Noomi Rapace is in negotiations to join director Mikael Hafstrom in Unlocked, the spy thriller produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Georgina Townsley and Erik Howsam. The Peter O’Brien-scripted thriller made the Black List, and Rapace would play a female CIA interrogator duped into getting a terrorist to provide key information to the wrong side. It puts her at the center of a plot to launch a biological attack in London. It was originally set at Warner Bros, but the studio let it go and it’s being mounted as an indie film.
Rapace, who broke through in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo trilogy, last starred in the Ridley Scott-directed Prometheus, and next stars with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke in the Daniel Espinosa-directed Child 44 for Summit Entertainment. She is repped by CAA and Shelley Browning at Magnolia Entertainment.
TriStar Options Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s Memoir, Which Launches Company For Actors Ben McKenzie, Logan Marshall-Green
EXCLUSIVE: Actors Ben McKenzie and Logan Marshall-Green have joined forces to launch the shingle A Thing Or Two Productions. They come to the table in a big way. Tom Rothman’s TriStar Pictures has made a deal on a baseball memoir which the duo will produce with Michael De Luca. TriStar has optioned Wherever I Wind Up, the memoir by pitcher R.A. Dickey about his unusual life journey. Buzz Bissinger has been set to write the script. It becomes another eclectic project for Rothman’s upstart division.
McKenzie first starred on Fox’s The O.C. and now is playing the lead role of Detective Jim Gordon in the Bat-prequel series Gotham, while Marshall-Green played his brother on O.C. and has co-starred in Brooklyn’s Finest, Prometheus and As I Lay Dying. He just shot the pilot Quarry. They have been friends since doing theater together at Williamstown in 2001 and talked about partnering in a production company. It all crystallized when both sparked to Dickey’s memoir. Neither is looking to play the pitcher in the feature.
E!’s Slate Includes Gucci Miniseries, More ‘Rich Kids’, New Kardashian Offshoots, Christina Milian & Lance Bass Reality Series
Heading into its upfront presentation, E! has unveiled its original programming slate, which includes three upcoming series: reality competition series Escape Club premiering June 8, plastic surgery docu-series Botched premiering this September, and the network’s first original scripted series The Royals debuting in early 2015. The network has picked up a second season of #RichKids Of Beverly Hills and has put in development a New York-based spinoff. It also has greenlighted a new installment of the Kardashians’ Take franchise, Kourtney & Khloe Take The Hamptons while developing yet another Kardashian reality series, Dash Dolls, about Kim and Khloe Kardashian’s boutiques. “E! continues to deliver for the pop culture fan through buzzy original programming, unparalleled entertainment news, and innovative digital initiatives,” said Suzanne Kolb, President, E! Entertainment.
While celebrity-driven unscripted fare remains a cornerstone of E!’s programming with new projects headlined by the Kardashians, Christina Millian and Lance Bass, there are also more fashion and lifestyle offerings, including a new reality series in the works toplined by fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg. E! also stepped up its coverage of Fashion Week this year. The expansion in the arena is in part because E!’s sister network Style was phased out, said Kolb. “We are stretching that muscle more.”
On the scripted side, the network is developing a miniseries about the Gucci family. Longform is a relatively new area for E!, where the network also has in the works another project, The Four Hundred. Because of E!’s tradition with covering events, like awards ceremonies, event programming “feels like area that would have great traction for us,” Kolb said.
E!’s upfront scripted slate only includes the Gucci mini and pilot Songbyrd, one of E!’s first two scripted pilots along with The Royals, which is still undergoing testing. “It’s a good pilot,” said Kolb. And while there are no scripted development projects announced today, “we are continuing the active scripted development pipeline,” Kolb said, noting that the network won’t wait to see how The Royals does before ordering more scripted pilots later in 2014.
E! also eyes expansion of its late-night block anchored by Chelsea Lately by possibly turning its awards night special After Party into a daily pop culture news recap that could air at 11:30 PM. Here is the network’s original programming slate:
EXCLUSIVE: Martin Sheen has joined the cast of Warren Beatty‘s untitled Howard Hughes project, the script of which is being kept tightly under wraps. Sheen and Beatty are old friends but this is the first time they’ve worked together. Sheen, who will next be seen opposite Rooney Mara in Stephen Daldry’s Trash, been on and off the set for director Beatty, who is also producing and plays Howard Hughes. The story centers Hughes’ assistant (played by Alden Ehrenreich) and his love interest (Lily Collins). The pic, known around town as the untitled Warren Beatty project, also includes Annette Bening and Matthew Broderick.
The project was funded by billionaires Ron Burkle, Steve Bing, Windsor Media’s Terry Semel, Arnon Milchan’s New Regency and James Packer and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment. It’s a $26.7M negative. Ratner and Beatty are producing with Packer exec producing.
PBS has named Ira Rubenstein new general manager of PBS Digital. He will report to PBS chief operating officer Michael Jones and serve as a member of PBS’ senior leadership team, starting March 24. Rubenstein will lead all digital content and service efforts for PBS and its member stations, and will focus on PBS’ digital efforts in both the children’s and general audience space. He joins from mobile media company MeeMee Media where he was CEO. Prior to that, Rubenstein served as EVP Digital Marketing for 20th Century Fox where he established the Digital Marketing organization and led the team behind social and mobile campaigns for Prometheus, Chronicle, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, X-Men: First Class, and others. Before joining Fox in 2011, he had stints at Marvel and Sony.
After years of court battles of his own, David Bergstein is now turning the legal spotlight onto The Hollywood Reporter – for $150 million. Earlier this week the film financier filed a defamation suit against the trade and parent company Prometheus Global Media. “Defendants’ reporting included material misstatements which were not matters of opinion, inference, shading or context, but were simply untrue,” says the February 19 filing in New York state court (read it here). Seeking “not less than” $100 million in damages and $50 million more in other compensation, the detailed complaint alleges that the trade deliberately allowed biased and false reporting against the film financier by one reporter in particular – Alex Ben Block.
Also claiming business interference and conspiracy, the very litigious producer is alleging that Block, who wrote the vast majority of the trade publication’s stories about Bergstein’s bankruptcy and other proceeds, was in the pocket of Aramid Entertainment’s David Molner, a former business associate of the film financier’s and his primary legal adversary. “Plaintiff was advised that Block was paid and compensated by Molner, and Block and defendants were given special access in return for the favorable bias which defendants’ articles set forth. Block and defendants continued to play a key role in furthering Molner’s improper efforts,” the 24-page complaint claims.
Over 20 years after his debut feature Public Access was the co-winner of the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, Bryan Singer is returning to the Sundance Film Festival. The X-Men: Days Of Future Past director was named today as one of this year’s jurists at the Utah-based festival. Singer will serve on the U.S. Dramatic Jury along with critic Leonard Maltin, producer Peter Saraf, writer-director Lone Scherfig and Slate.com critic Dana Stevens. Jurists in the U.S and World Cinema Documentary sections as well World Cinema Dramatic, Short Film, and Science In Film categories were announced too (see the full list below). Additionally, the fest revealed today that Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally will front the Feature Film Awards ceremony on January 25 in Park City. This isn’t the only appearance by Offerman and Mullally at Sundance this year. The Parks & Recreation star tops Nick Offerman: American Ham which premieres January 23 in Salt Lake City, and Mullally is one of the voices in the animated pic Ernest & Celestine, which is being screened January 18. The fest’s 30th anniversary edition runs January 16-26. Here’s the full release:
Sundance Premieres & Documentary Premieres 2014 Lineup
Sundance Reveals U.S. & World Cinema Competition Slates
Sundance Unveils Spotlight, Midnight, Frontier Films & New Kids Slate
Sundance Reveals Short Film Lineup
Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today the members of the six juries awarding prizes at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, January 16-26 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Short Film Awards will be announced at a ceremony on January 21 at Park City’s Jupiter Bowl. Feature film awards will be announced at a separate ceremony on January 25 in Park City, hosted by husband-and-wife duo Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally and livestreamed at www.sundance.org/live. Offerman headlines the film Nick Offerman: American Ham in the Festival’s Premieres section. Mullally voices a character in the English-language version of Ernest and Celestine, which will have its world premiere in the Festival’s new Sundance Kids section.
WME Partner Ken Slotnick Departs To Start Management/Production Company Backed By Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Companies
EXCLUSIVE: Financier Ron Burkle‘s global investment firm The Yucaipa Companies is expanding its entertainment portfolio with another move in the representation area. WME partner Ken Slotnick is leaving the agency to start a management/production company backed by Yucaipa. It is the second major move by Yucaipa in the last couple of weeks, following the launch of UK-based production company SID Gentle Films, headed by Sally Woodward Gentle, which will be focused on scripted drama, TV movies and miniseries as well as indie features. Based in New York, Slotnick was part of WME’s branded lifestyle group and worked in the non-scripted area, with The Talk/Big Brother host Julie Chen among his clients. He came from the William Morris side where he was an agent for a decade before the 2009 merger with Endeavor and was named a WME partner in January 2012.
Burkle has been ramping up his entertainment portfolio, recently joining with former top Conde Nast and Prometheus Global Media executive Richard Beckman to start New York-based Three Lions Entertainment. Two years ago, the supermarket mogul and philanthropic businessman bought most of Elliot Capitol Management’s stake in Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media for what is believed to have been $800M. He also helped to launch Current TV started by former VP Al Gore, and also financed movies for Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Last year, Burkle bought one of the leading live entertainment agencies, Artist Group International, which books musicians, comedians and sporting events around the globe, and Yucaipa and Relativity Media launched Relativity Sports to represent athletes, coaches and broadcasters.
OWN has licensed the first broadcast window, behind pay TV, starting in 2017. The movie, based on the 1995 book Long Walk To Freedom, and former South African President Nelson Mandela, chronicles Mandela’s early life, coming of age, education and 27 years spent in prison before becoming President, and rebuilding the country’s once segregated society. Idris Elba (Prometheus, Luther) stars as Nelson Mandela, Naomie Harris (Skyfall) stars as Winnie Mandela, with Justin Chadwick (The Other Boleyn Girl) directing.
OWN, a joint venture between Winfrey’s Harpo company and Silver Spring, Md.-based Discovery Communications, also recently licensed the first broadcast window behind pay TV, also beginning in 2017, on The Weinstein Company’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler, in which Oprah was among the cast – her first movie role in 15 years. OWN president Erik Logan, in the announcement, said Mandela “was Oprah’s hero” and the inspiration behind her school in South Africa.
Global Showbiz Briefs: U.S. Filmmakers Support Iceland Film Biz; MTV Has ‘Ex On The Beach’ For UK; More
U.S. Filmmakers Lend Support To Iceland’s Film Industry
In early November, Iceland’s government announced plans to cut funding to the Icelandic Film Centre by about 40%. The news was met with upset within the industry, especially given that film production turnover has grown 248% since 2010, according to industry reports. That was driven by a number of Hollywood pics that shot locally including Oblivion, Prometheus and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty and HBO’s Games Of Thrones. Film trade orgs have said the effect of the cuts would hurt the local economy and result in 200 job losses. The country’s film bodies have now received a statement of support signed by filmmakers including Clint Eastwood, Darren Aronofsky and Terrence Malick. “We, the undersigned, have had the great pleasure of working on one or more film projects in Iceland,” the statement reads. “In our view, the Icelandic film professionals we’ve worked with are of the highest standard. The expertise that they bring to the table – not only as filmmakers but as invaluable advisors on Icelandic practices, customs and locations – has brought immeasurable benefits to the work that we do. We stand with them, and with the entire film community in Iceland, in their efforts to maintain the current levels of government support for filmmaking, and thus we urge the Icelandic government to reconsider their current plans to cut the budget of the Icelandic Film Fund.”
MTV Preps ‘Ex On The Beach’ For Spring UK Bow
MTV has commissioned reality series Ex On The Beach, which is set to premiere in the UK in the spring. It then will roll out across MTV’s international network, excluding the U.S. The series is produced for MTV UK by Whizz Kid Entertainment and was shot on location in southern Europe. It sees eight single men and women invited to enjoy a luxury vacation in the belief they are being set up for a holiday romance. Instead, as MTV cameras watch, ex-boyfriends and girlfriends of cast members arrive unexpectedly. Each ex will have a different motive for appearing, from winning their partner back to exacting revenge after a breakup. Ex On The Beach is exec produced by Steve Regan, Lisa Chapman and Suzanne Readwin.
Nearing the end of its best year ever at the domestic box office, Universal announced a slew of release dates today. The recently shaken-up studio has set its reboot of The Mummy for April 22, 2016, and Seventh Son, the Jeff Bridges-Julianne Moore fantasy that Legendary picked up from Warner Bros in August, will bow February 6, 2015, a week before the arrival of Universal’s Fifty Shades Of Grey. Legendary‘s untitled Michael Mann cyberthriller for January 16, 2015. and Blumhouse’s Jennifer Lopez thriller The Boy Next Door hits theaters on January 23, 2015. The studio also is pushing its video game adaptation Warcraft — the first film that had been dated under the new Universal-Legendary partnership — from December 18, 2015 to March 2016. If that vacated date looks familiar, it’s probably because a little flick known as Star Wars: Episode VII was penciled into that slot three weeks ago. Warcraft has that new weekend to itself for now.
So what competition will the newly dated pics face when they arrive a year or two or more from now? The Mummy and The Boy Next Door have no wide openers to contend with as of yet, but the other two do. Seventh Son will go against Sony/Screen Gems’ The Wedding Ringer, starring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad and Kaley Cuoco, and the Michael Mann pic will battle — in a jolt to the neck of Old Hollywood monster movie purists — Fox’s Frankenstein. If you’re scoring along at home, that will be four score and four years after Universal stitched together its Boris Karloff horror classic.
Here’s some background from the studio on its freshly slotted pics:
EXCLUSIVE: While Ridley Scott is taking on the massive Moses movie Exodus with Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, he and producing partner Giannina Facio have been meeting with A-list writers for what he hopes will be the next film he directs. Scott wants to create a drama focusing on the debilitating effects that concussions are having on our sports heroes, and the role that league owners play in allowing it to happen. His plan is to create a morality tale on that issue, much the way that Michael Mann’s The Insider took on the tobacco industry’s complicity in covering up the addictive and cancer-causing effects of cigarette smoking.
It sounds like a most worthy project to me. Scott is a big fan of sports including rugby and football, but he is going to focus on pro football. He has been moved reading all that has been written on athletes including former NFL stars Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, both of whom committed suicide after suffering chronic traumatic encephalopathy, with each making sure to leave his brain intact so it could be studied in the hope the results would help their gridiron brethren who also are suffering.
Oscar-Buzzed ‘12 Years A Slave’ In Top Ten, ‘Jackass: Bad Grandpa’ Opens #1 For $32M, All-Star ‘The Counselor’ Bombs With $8M
SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: The most interesting news of the weekend, at least to me, is that New Regency’s financed and produced Best Picture Oscar frontrunner 12 Years A Slave marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight is only playing in 123 theaters (up from 19 last weekend) yet jumped into the Top Ten. Propelled by critical raves, it’s in 8th place despite Steve McQueen’s unvarnished depiction of mankind’s brutality from John Ridley’s screenplay based on the book by Solomon Northup. The per screen average is $17,400 for a new cume of $3.4M. There still is tremendous curiosity in Hollywood as to this pre-Civil War drama’s box office potential after it opened last weekend with an ‘A’ CinemaScore and an impressive $50,000 per screen averager. Studio says it’s playing well in art houses, African American theaters, as well as in mainstream multiplexes in markets LA, NY, Atlanta, Wash DC, Chicago, Toronto, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Boston and Detroit. Next week it adds 45 new cities and will increase theater count to over 400 locations across North America. Stellar cast includes Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodward, and of course Brad Pitt who’s also starring in one of this month’s worst box office bombs. (See below).
Are there really going to be 86-year-old Irving Zismans (aka Johnny Knoxville in 8 hours worth of industrial-strength makeup) at Halloween parties this weekend? This fourth moronic Jackass movie was outselling R-rated comedies like We’re The Millers and This Is The End at the same point in their online pre-sales cycles. So it was no surprise that Thursday 9 PM late shows and Friday midnight screenings grossed a gigantic $1.4 million and then went into Friday’s $12.6M opening total for Paramount/MTV Films’ Jackass: Bad Grandpa (3,336 theaters). Saturday’s take was down only -5% for $11.5M and a $32M weekend from 3,336 theaters. Hollywood knows never to underestimate the taste of American moviegoers which gave the comedy a ‘B’ CinemaScore. So this crapfest came in an easy #1. “Not bad for a film that cost $15M,” a studio exec tells me. It’s apparently now the 3rd best R-rated comedy opener of the year demonstrating this 2000 MTV-origin franchise isn’t played out. But this gross is far less than 2010′s Jackass 3-D opening weekend of $50.4M.
But internationally Bad Grandpa opened as the highest-grossing release in the Jackass franchise. It was let loose day and date this weekend in the UK and Germany and a number of smaller markets and grossed a healthy $8.1M from 1,014 locations in 16 territories. That’s 3X bigger than the second Jackass opening for the same group of markets and on a par with Jackass 3D despite the fact that Bad Grandpa is a 2D release and a spin-off rather than a straight sequel. In terms of admissions, there were +20% more than for Jackass 3D. The UK delivered $3.2M from 371 sites for the biggest opening for the Jackass franchise. And Knoxville’s geezer scored a big $3.1M from 285 cinemas for the #1 launch as the biggest opening for the Jackass franchise in the market. Other releasing territories: Netherlands $474K at 63 locations, Austria $410K in 50 cinemas, Finland $164K from 69 locations. Australia releases on November 14th.
Zisman’s character previously only perturbed passerbys in brief hidden-camera punk’ds. Here director Jeff Tremaine ages up Knoxville who travels with his grandson to some pretty decent reviews. (Hey, not my problem if critics want to lose more brain matter.) The marketplace was ripe for a raw comedy and Paramount marketed to frat houses around the country. The trailer launched in August on We’re The Millers and TV ads had heavy play on sports channels. At MTV’s VMAs, Knoxville as Zisman and his grandson did shtick then custom vignettes for Spike TV and Comedy Central showed the geezer screening the film at the Playboy mansion with bunnies.
Warner Bros’ Gravity fell from atop the domestic box office for 3 straight weeks to #2 and a still amazing $20.3M weekend and nearly $200M domestic cume through Sunday. In #3 is the Paul Greengrass/Tom Hanks adult drama Captain Phillips entering its 4rd weekend for Sony Pictures with an $11.8M weekend for a new cume of $70M through Sunday.
Twentieth Century Fox’s Ridley Scott vanity project The Counselor (3,044 theaters) only opened #4 to a meager $8M weekend. Studio claims the cost was only $25M. Good thing because audiences gave the derivative drug thriller a dreaded ‘D’ CinemaScore despite a standout cast of Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz in No Country For Old Men author Cormac McCarthy’s first screenplay. Not much reason to talk about the film’s marketing or creative plan since Fox ran off the top execs running both departments in recent days. So why did this turkey get made? “Tom Rothman did it for Ridley because he’d made so much money for the studio with Prometheus,” an insider tells me. “But even people who’ve seen it can’t figure out what it’s about.” Ouch! Exit polling showed that the audience was 49%/51% male-female, with 85% aged 25+ and 15% aged 25 or under. “Some good grosses in the big city, core runs where audiences are more likely to be receptive to challenging, provocative filmmaking,” a Fox exec Sunday. “We’re extremely proud of our filmmaker Ridley Scott as well as our phenomenal cast who all came together to make this film for a very reasonable price. We opened in a few international territories this weekend so the end result for our modestly budgeted film is far from being known at this time. But suspect we will be in good shape financially at the end of the day.”
Overall the weekend is $100M, or +15% from last year. Here’s the Top Ten list:
EXCLUSIVE: Rachel McAdams is in talks to join Keanu Reeves in Passengers, the science fiction film that The Weinstein Company bought in one of the biggest deals of the last Cannes. The film, scripted by Prometheus scribe Jon Spaihts and to be directed early next year by Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire helmer Brian Kirk, was sold with Reese Witherspoon as the female lead. Because they will shoot the movie in Germany, she was unable to work out the schedule, and that opened the door for McAdams, whose deal is in the process of being negotiated right now.
What a fortuitous time it is for this film, prepping for production in the wake of the grosses of the Alfonso Cuaron-directed Gravity. Like that film, this is set in space, and it is primarily the interaction between two lead characters. The plot: A spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger (Reeves) is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger (McAdams), marking the beginning of what becomes a unique love story. I read the script back when buyers were bidding on it, and it was east to see why the bidding got heated among three distributors. TWC won it, committing to a multimillion-dollar minimum guarantee and a P&A commitment in the $25 million range, and at the time they were looking at a 2014 wide release late next year.
As expected, HBO has promoted Casey Bloys and Michael Ellenberg in the wake of HBO Entertainment president Sue Naegle’s departure last month. Bloys and Ellenberg have been upped to EVP, HBO Programming, reporting to HBO Programming president Michael Lombardo who is taking sole oversight of the pay cable network’s development. Bloys will continue to oversee the development and production of all comedy series, specials and talk shows, and Ellenberg all drama series. “Both Casey and Michael already have proven track records and have been pivotal in developing one of the strongest series slates in HBO history,” said Lombardo. “They are recognized throughout the industry as two of the most talented entertainment executives and, equally important, valued within the company for their leadership and strategic vision.”
BREAKING: 20th Century Fox Film has restructured its marketing operations into a worldwide unit, promoting Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus to co-Presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution. Under the new structure, both the domestic and international marketing and distribution teams will report to Jegeus and Hanneman. They begin their new roles immediately. This comes after Fox let Oren Aviv go as marketing chief. According to the studio, the move was made to embrace the idea of film as a global game and create cohesion between domestic and offshore campaigns.
There is no mention here of whether Fox is done making moves, and rumors continue to race that the studio could be the next landing place for Jeff Robinov, who left Warner Bros recently. Some say he won’t land until January, and I’ve heard there is question of whether he would report to Jim Gianopulos, the well-regarded Fox Film chairman/CEO who has been running the studio solo since the exit of Tom Rothman and likely doesn’t want another partnrr. Robinov went out on a good note with Man Of Steel, and looks better than ever given the success of his passion project Gravity from Alfonso Cuaron, which has turned out to be the sleeper hit of the fall. But his exit was considered contentious, and I’ve heard it has colored opinions at Fox. I’ve heard Rupert Murdoch is determined to get him—even if it is as a producer with money behind him–but all of this continues to be loose talk, until it isn’t.
As for the marketing restructure, Gianopulos said: “Our industry is more global than ever before. Paul and Tomas have proven success in the global arena, having run the industry’s most successful international operations, and coupled with our excellent domestic team, they will reshape our worldwide marketing and distribution strategies for the future.” Both will report to Gianopulos.
Fox also confirmed the exit of Aviv as Chief Marketing Officer for the domestic division. The studio indicated Aviv will announce his next move shortly.
The publisher of The Hollywood Reporter has been hit with a lawsuit claiming that the company has denied benefits and worker protections to various freelancers by misclassifying them as independent contractors. David Simpson, a four-year THR veteran who specializes in online video and social media, filed a class action suit (read it here) against Prometheus Global Media LLC in Los Angeles Superior Court claiming freelancers have been denied overtime pay, reimbursement of business expenses, meal and rest periods and other benefits in violation of California Labor Code. It claims freelancers are “indistinguishable from employees in all material respects” and that “the sole purpose of misclassifying freelancers as independent contractors is to deny them benefits and protections afforded to employees.” The suit seeks overtime wages, other compensation and damages, among other causes of action. Simpson is represented by attorneys Matthew B. Hayes and Kye D. Pawlenko of Hayes Pawlenko in Pasadena.