EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Dunham is big business. The comedian known for his signature ventriloquist act has claimed the top comedy tour each of the past three years, according to Billboard. His upcoming U.S. jaunt, the Disorderly Conduct Tour, was sold out on the first day it went on sale, with Dunham set to perform to nearly 400,000 people across the country. He also has taken his brand global, extensively traveling the world for the past six years. Dunham’s latest stand-up special, the horror-themed Minding The Monsters, was released on DVD on October 9 and has reached triple-platinum status. His three Comedy Central specials remain among the network’s five most-watched programs of all time, with the 2008 A Very Special Christmas Special drawing 6.6 million viewers. In films, Dunham will be featured in next year’s Open Road animated release Nut Job. UTA will represent Dunham in all areas. He previously was at CAA. Dunham continues to be managed by Judi Brown-Marmel and Robert Hartmann at Levity Entertainment Group.
Nicole Richie has signed with WME. The web and reality TV personality and fashion maven can be seen on AOL web series #CandidlyNicole, each episode of which brings one of her tweets to life. Her TV credits include a mentor gig on Fashion Star, a guest judge role on Fashion Police and starring with Paris Hilton on The Simple Life for five seasons. She also has a fashion collection and apparel line and has written a novel loosely based on her life. Richie continues to be repped by Impression Entertainment and Grubman Indursky & Shire.
Cliff “Method Man” Smith has signed with UTA. He is shooting Tom McCarthy’s The Cobbler, starring Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman and Steve Buscemi, and recently wrapped the features Lucky N#mbr and Staten Island Summer. Next up is a voice role in the upcoming FX animated comedy Chozen, which focuses on a gay white rapper who’s fresh out of prison. Other credits include Red Tails, The Sitter, CSI and The Wire. Smith is managed by Shauna Garr and repped by Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
Emma Thompson Mulls “Hierarchical” Hollywood, Ang Lee’s Brutal/Funny Notes, Oscars & More In BAFTA Career Chat
Following in the recent footsteps of her Saving Mr Banks co-star Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson sat down in London on Sunday afternoon for a trip down memory lane. At a BAFTA Life in Pictures event at the British Academy’s headquarters, Thompson spoke of the important role that comedy played in her early career, and touched on her collaborations with the likes of Merchant Ivory, Richard Curtis and Ang Lee. The Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter also peppered in some stark feelings about Hollywood.
Thompson has steadily worked across borders since the 90s and while she feels there’s no real difference between great actors in the States and Britain – “Dustin Hoffman is as exquisite as Anthony Hopkins” – the star system in Hollywood “is not a good system.” Thompson called it “hierarchical” and said it was “just revolting for people who are actors to become grand and unattractive to watch.” She recalled that while working on Last Chance Harvey, Hoffman had been stuck in traffic one day and, so concerned with being late to set, ran there in his socks once he’d arrived at the location. “Those are the people you want to work with. You find some young actors who really can’t be bothered and you think well, let someone else do it,” she said to the largely British crowd. Thompson noted that “some of the most intelligent people” she knows live in Hollywood, but lamented that the town “always finds a way to make you feel bad.” At parties, there’s “always some bit that’s penned off that you’re not allowed into,” she mused, adding that it’s the “better than/less than judgment you’re making upon yourself and others that Hollywood is particularly good at and that’s the one thing I really hate.”
EXCLUSIVE: Wayne Fitterman, the longtime co-head of UTA‘s below the line division, is exiting, I’ve learned. The Production Department continues to be headed by Pete Franciosa. The pair have long steered the seven-person department that reps editors, cinematographers, costume designers, visual effects and other personnel. I’m told that Fitterman was going to leave with three of his colleagues, but at the last minute the others decided to stay. I’ve confirmed Fitterman is leaving, and they were all in talks to move to WME, but I am waiting to see if in fact Fitterman ends up there. It is unclear which of his clients would move over with him.
As broadcasters and Aereo wait to see if the Supreme Court will agree to the former’s recent petition to hear the case against the latter, the Barry Diller-backed streaming service has been sued a second time this week in the state of Utah. And today ABC and CW affiliates owner Nexstar Communications filed a motion for a preliminary injunction (read it here) to shut Aereo down during the course of the litigation from the copyright infringement complaint it filed on Thursday. Launched in NYC last year and already in several other cities across the nation, the much-sued Aereo premiered in Utah on August 19. Fox Broadcasting along with local stations KSTU-TV, KUTV-TV and KMYU-TV filed a suit against Aereo on October 7. Now Nexstar, who own 91 TV stations across America, have jumped into the legal war. “Aereo’s conduct thus has constituted and will constitute willful copyright infringement…Unless enjoined by this Court, Aereo will continue to cause Nexstar great and irreparable injury that cannot be fully compensated or measured in money,” says the 9-page complaint that the Texas-based company filed on October 24 (read it here). The owners of Salt Lake City-based ABC affiliate KTVX and CW affiliate KUCW, Nexstar wants a jury trial, unspecified statutory and actual damages, and, as the motion they filed today reiterates, …
Andrew Bachelor has signed with UTA for representation in all areas. Bachelor, also known by the online moniker KingBach, is one of Vine’s most popular performers, with more than 3 million followers. He acts in, writes, directs and produces all of his own original material for his web series, King Bachelor’s Pad. Bachelor also just booked a recurring role on Showtime’s House of Lies and has a pilot in development at BET. He continues to be managed by Evan Silverberg at Underground.
Lesley Nicol, who plays the cook Mrs. Patmore on Downton Abbey, has signed with Bauman Redanty & Shaul. The actress, who has a voice role in Free Birds, continues to be managed by Lesa Kirk at Open Entertainment and by agent Paul Pearson of London Theatrical in the UK.
David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.
One after another, groups of USC engineering students, ranging from thirtysomething doctoral candidates down to baby-faced undergrads, trooped to the stage today. Each pitched their newly honed and toned startup companies before a roomful of potential investors, supporters, and — in a changeup for both — executives from old-line venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and old-line Hollywood talent agency UTA.
The Viterbi Startup Garage Day featured presentations from nine teams (another group couldn’t make the event), all recently done with an intensive 12-week program to build a working tech product and get it on the market. In some cases, Viterbi’s program was a last stop to fine tune a product built on years of research and work. Other companies had been mere proposals last spring. All the young entrepreneurs are hoping to benefit from a program that’s giving them some unexpected friends in influential places.
“Early-stage entrepreneurs need two things: help with business development and access to capital,” said Ashish Soni, the Viterbi School of Engineering faculty member who runs the first-year program. “Kleiner provides access to capital. A lot of what UTA does is dealmaking. You can replace that celebrity (the agency would typically represent) with a startup.”
For the first time in South Park‘s 17-season, 240-ish-episode history, its creators blew deadline. Tonight’s episode did not get finished, Comedy Central said this afternoon. “On Tuesday night, South Park Studios lost power,” the network said. “From animation to rendering to editing and sound, all of their computers were down for hours, and they were unable to finish episode 1704 Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers in time for air tonight.” Said co-creator Trey Parker in a statement, “It sucks to miss an airdate, but after all these years of tempting fate by delivering the show last minute, I guess it was bound to happen.”
The new episode will air October 23. Tonight, Comedy Central will offer a rerun Live-Tweeted (I know, oxymoronic) presentation of Scott Tenorman Must Die at 10 PM ET/PT. The animated comedy series is much-loved by fans for its on-the-fly production schedule, which allows Parker and Matt Stone to weigh in very quickly on hot-button issues of that moment. Except when there’s a power outage that bites them in the backside.
Here’s an action shot of the South Park team dealing with the blackout. Check out a few more after the jump:
BREAKING: UTA has made partners of four of its best and brightest. The agency has given partnership promotions to motion picture talent agents Jay Gassner, Chris Hart, and Josh Katz, and also TV Talent Co-Head Mike Jelline.
Collectively, the quartet reps an array of up and coming talent. The client list of the four includes: Aziz Ansari, Morena Baccarin, Lake Bell, Sarah Chalke, Dane Cook, David Cross, Chris D’Elia, Nick Frost, Brad Garrett, Maggie Grace, Kelsey Grammer, Anna Gunn, Bill Hader, Dan Harmon, Kevin Hart, Anne Heche, Simon Helberg, Sam Hueghan, Jack Huston, Jake Johnson, January Jones, Keegan Michael Key, Jane Krakowski, Diane Kruger, John Leguizamo, Lucy Liu, Virginia Madsen, Jennette McCurdy, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Bobby Moynihan, Megan Mullally, Annie Mumolo, Becki Newton, Alex O’Loughlin, Jason O’Mara, Nick Offerman, Nancy Oliver, Aaron Paul, Andrew Rannells, Stephen Rannazzisi, Naya Rivera, Jordan Vogt Roberts, Craig Robinson, Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Paul Scheer, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Smits, Rafe Spall, Corey Stoll, Jorma Taccone, Amber Tamblyn, Maura Tierney, Aisha Tyler, Liv Tyler, Vanessa Williams, Paul Walker and Kristen Wiig.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and director Angelina Jolie have found their villain for the Lou Zamperini tale Unbroken. Jolie has set Japanese guitarist and singer Miyavi to play the role of Mutsushiro Watanabe, known as “The Bird.” That is the guard who made it his mission to break the spirit of Zamperini, and who haunted the athlete-turned-POW’s every step after he was captured in WWII. I’m told by individuals close to the project that it was no easy task to cast this role. After a long search for the perfect actor, the filmmakers continually found themselves returning to Miyavi’s captivating audition, one that mixed grace, ferocity, sensitivity and sophistication. That audition got Miyavi his first lead role in a Hollywood film. Jolie begins production in Australia in two weeks, and Universal releases the film December 25, 2014.
Miyavi might be a new face onscreen, but he is well known in international music circles for his unconventional guitar and singing skills and music that incorporates period-authentic guitars and playing styles from the 1940s. Now he’s going back to that volatile wartime era in Unbroken. Miyavi will have to reschedule part of an upcoming Asia tour to perform the role.
“As a musician, I questioned whether I should take a break from my craft to pursue this role,” Miyavi said in a statement. “After meeting Angie, it became clear to me that an underlying theme to this story is forgiveness. This resonated with me because that is exactly what I want express through my music. I look forward to taking on this challenge whole-heartedly.”
I must say, I have been fixated on The Bird since I first saw a wonderful short segment broadcast during the Nagano Olympics, where Zamperini returned to Japan in 1998. After running so compellingly in the final lap of his distance race in the 1936 Munich Olympics that Hitler asked to shake his hand, Zamperini was expected to bring home the gold with four more years of seasoning. The 1940 Olympics were scheduled to be held in Japan but all that fell apart in war. Zamperini instead arrived as a bombardier fighting in WWII. Sent on a rescue mission aboard a faulty aircraft, Zamperini and two other crewmen were the only survivors of a crash in the Pacific Ocean. After surviving in a raft for 47 days, the near-dead men were caught by the Japanese navy. And so began a POW ordeal that would have broken most men. In that CBS segment, Zamperini found the grace to forgive his captor, and offered to do it in person. The Bird was interviewed on camera, but he refused to meet with the hero he tormented for so many years.
First it was New York, then later Boston and today a new battlefield opened in the legal war between the Barry Diller-backed streaming service and broadcasters. Less than two months after its debut in Utah, Fox Broadcasting along with local stations KSTU-TV, KUTV-TV and KMYU-TV filed a copyright infringement suit (read it here) against Aereo in federal court to get the service shut down. The new jury-demanding suit seeks a preliminary injunction against Aereo and it wants unspecified statutory damages, as well as legal fees and whatever else the court will give the plaintiffs. Launched in NYC last year and already in several other cities across the nation, the much-sued Aereo premiered in Utah on August 19. “Aereo has not been authorized by any of the Plaintiffs to retransmit their copyrighted programming. Even though Aereo is in the business of selling access to the programming broadcast on KSTU, KUTV, KMYU, and other local stations, it pays nothing to the copyright owners. Legitimate retransmission services like cable and satellite companies, in contrast, obtain licenses to retransmit broadcast signals to their subscribers,” says the three-count 16-page filing.
EXCLUSIVE: Dev Patel has signed with WME. He continues to be repped by Magnolia Entertainment and Curtis Brown in the UK. Deadline told you that Patel had decided to stay with Magnolia manager Stephanie Comer and therefore was among a small group of clients that would be leaving UTA following the agency board’s declaration it would no longer do business with Magnolia after an erosion in the relationship with Shelley Browning that led to the exits of such clients as Rachel McAdams, Robocop‘s Joel Kinnaman, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘s Noomi Rapace, and Gone Girl lead Rosamund Pike. The only mutual client not asked to make a Sophie’s Choice was Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa, because he is busy shooting Child 44 with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Rapace and Kinnaman. He’ll have to make a decision soon, though, and a major piece of business hangs in the balance for the two companies.
Patel, who made his breakthrough as the game show wiz in Slumdog Millionaire, next stars in the Neill Blomkamp-directed Chappie. He most recently starred in Fox Searchlight’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He also continues to be part of the cast of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama series The Newsroom.
EXCLUSIVE: The internal announcement just went out at Paradigm that Dana Spector has become a Literary Rights agent there, leaving UTA where she worked in the Book Department for the last five years. She specializes in Books to TV packaging. Spector is her married name, but she had been known as Dana Borowitz. She will work in both motion picture and TV lit. She starts next week.
EXCLUSIVE: UTA has signed Scottish writer/director David Mackenzie, whose latest film Starred Up premiered at Telluride and Toronto. He had been with WME. Starred Up stars Jack O’Connell and Ben Mendelsohn and is about a juvenile offender so troubled and violent that he gets “starred up” to the adult prison system of England, where his estranged and equally violent father awaits him. The film makes its European debut at the London Film Festival October 10. Mackenzie previusly helmed Young Adam, Perfect Sense and Mister Foe. All those films and Starred Up were produced by Mackenzie and producing partner Gillian Berrie’s Sigma Films. Sean Gascoine of United Agents continues to rep him in the UK.
EXCLUSIVE: After an erosion in the relationship, the partners at UTA have decided they will no longer do business with manager Shelley Browning and her Magnolia Entertainment. This immediately leads to the exit of Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel, who will stay with his manager, Stephanie Comer. She was an agent at UTA before she became a manager at Magnolia. About half a dozen clients will have to make a choice, and the highest profile beyond Patel is Daniel Espinosa, the Snabba Cash helmer who directed the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds hit Safe House and is directing an adaptation of the Tom Rob Smith novel Child 44, with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman. Since Espinosa is shooting a movie, I don’t think he will be asked to make a decision until he is up for air.
Related: Magnolia Manager Vs UTA, Round Two
The agency would not comment on why this has happened, but the frosty relationship began months ago and this move occurs after UTA watched several of Browning’s highest-profile clients exit. They include The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘s Rapace and Kinnaman, the latter of whom stars in the Robocop reboot. Others who have exited are Rachel McAdams and Rosamund Pike. Pike left right after she won the coveted female lead role opposite Ben Affleck in the David Fincher-directed Gone Girl.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Generation War’ On BBC2; Ha Ji-won Signs With UTA; ‘Doctor Who’ Writer; ‘Exodus’ In Spain; More
‘Generation War’ Is Rare BBC Two Pickup To Air In Foreign Language
BBC Two has picked up the three-part German miniseries Generation War. The drama will air in its original language, the first time BBC Two has premiered a foreign language series since 2001′s The Kingdom. (BBC Four, on the other hand, airs such subtitled shows as Borgen and Wallander.) Generation War traces the fate of young men and women who fought in World War II. The Band Of Brothers-like story is from ZDF, teamWorx and Beta Film and scored record ratings on ZDF with a 24% market share. It also triggered a local debate about personal guilt in WWII. Music Box took U.S. rights at MIPTV in April.
South Korean Star Ha Ji-won Inks With UTA
South Korean actress Ji-won Ha is readying for a Hollywood crossover. The Asian TV and film star has signed with UTA for representation in all areas and has been taking meetings stateside. Ha’s UTA reps are looking at domestic and international film roles, TV, and digital media and endorsements. They are also focusing on developing Korean and American co-productions around the award-winning performer known for the popular romantic comedy Secret Garden as well as horror pics Nightmare and Phone, period drama Damo, disaster blockbuster Haeundae and action film Sector 7. Ha continues to be represented by HaeWaDal Entertainment Co.
EXCLUSIVE: Actress Rosamund Pike has exited UTA, the latest in a lengthening list of talent managed by Magnolia Entertainment‘s Shelley Browning to leave the talent agency. This has been in the wind for a couple of weeks, and Pike officially terminated the relationship on Saturday. The other major agencies will be all over the British up and comer. It is hard to quibble with the job anyone has done recently for this actress: in heated competition, she just landed the role of her career, the female lead in Gone Girl opposite Ben Affleck in the David Fincher-directed film adaptation of the bestselling novel. Pike remains with UK’s United Agents.
Pike next opens in the Edgar Wright-directed The World’s End, and she played the female lead in Jack Reacher. It’s not exactly clear what has happened to erode the formerly strong relationship between UTA and Browning, but in a short span the agency lost Robocop star Joel Kinnaman, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘s Noomi Rapace, and Rachel McAdams, all of whom are managed by Magnolia. They still share a major piece of talent in Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa.
BREAKING: Paramount Pictures has split up two movies that figure to pack a merchandising punch. The studio just moved from June 6, 2014 to August 8 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the Nickelodeon Movies/Platinum Dunes franchise re-launch. Why the shell game that moves the picture into the back end of the summer? It’s because Paramount has its Transformers movie slated for June 27. That will likely move to June 25 as traditionally the studio has opened these Michael Bay films on the Wednesday of that week. Both of these have involved campaigns and a big merchandising component, and it was thought the studio would be better off spacing the two toy-tied films further apart than the 19 days it was looking at in the original scheduling configuration. Of course, this puts TMNT just one week away from Marvel Studio’s next superhero franchise launch Guardians Of The Galaxy, which opens August 1. That is ballsy of Paramount.
UPDATE, 10:18 AM: News junkies can relax. The New York Times is back up on the Web after what it says was “a server issue” that knocked out the news and corporate sites for about two hours. During the outage the paper turned to Facebook to post its coverage of the state of emergency in Egypt. Fox Business says that it’s told that the site was hit by a cyber attack and that officials have been “huddling with outside security professionals to assess the threat.”
PREVIOUS, 8:42 AM: The news and corporate sites — but not the mobile application — are off and Fox Business says that a source tells it that the paper is “under cyber attack.” But the Times says that the outage “is the result of an internal issue, which we expect to be resolved soon.” One Times employee tweets that “we’re hearing that a malfunctioning system patch somehow brought down the site and email.” New York Times Digital was the No. 34 top Web property in June with 30.6M unique visitors, comScore says.