WGA Targets Larry Levinson And Hallmark For Unpaid Residuals

WGAThe WGA is preparing to bar prolific TV movie producer Larry Levinson from ever using guild writers again unless he pays up on millions he allegedly owes in unpaid residuals. In the past 20 years, Larry Levinson Productions has produced nearly 200 family-oriented TV movies, most of which were made for the Hallmark Channel or in association with Hallmark Entertainment. The guild is currently pursuing arbitration claims against Levinson’s various production entities for unpaid residuals and interest owed on 38 of those TV movies. In a recent letter to a group of writers who Levinson allegedly hallmarkstiffed, the guild stated that “Levinson continues to demonstrate an egregious, ongoing failure to pay residuals.” An arbitration hearing is set for August 14.

In its notice of arbitration (read it here), the WGA claimed that two of Levinson’s companies, Hardstone Entertainment and Branwen Productions, violated the guild’s contract by failing to pay residuals on dozens of TV movies; by failing to report the gross receipts of the movies and how often they were rerun on television; and by failing to make pension and health contributions on those unpaid residuals. Read More »

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Food Network Adds Valerie Bertinelli Project To Daytime Lineup

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 11:45am PDT

food1Food Network and Cooking Channel today unveiled 35 new series that will roll out during the next several months. Among the new additions on Food Networks’ slate, announced during Scripps Networks Interactive‘s upfront in New York, is The Valerie Bertinelli Project (wt) set for a September premiere. It features the Hot In Cleveland star and bestselling cookbook author and her husband preparing dinners for family and celebrity friends in their Los Angeles home. Bunim/Murray is producing. Also on the slate is an expansion of the Chopped franchise set for a July premiere. The five-episode Chopped Teens Tournament features 16 talented teenage chefs who must create the perfect appetizer, entree and dessert as they navigate through each round. The winner from each episode heads into the finale with a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize and culinary school scholarship. Notional is producing for Food Network. New Food Network and Cooking Channel series include: Read More »

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HBO Renews ‘Veep’ And ‘Silicon Valley’

By | Monday April 21, 2014 @ 11:45am PDT

veep seaosn 4 debutThe two orders follow HBO‘s recent two-season pickup on Game Of Thrones. The news also follows the series’ second-week numbers coming in. Sunday’s Silicon Valley at 10 PM averaged 1.6 million viewers, after the previous Sunday’s premiere debuted with 2 million viewers. For the night, the Mike Judge series achieved a gross audience of 2.1 million viewers.  At 10:30 siliconvalley04PM, Veep delivered 775,000 viewers and a gross audience of 1.3 million viewers; last week Veep returned for a third season with 955,000 viewers, which was down 20% from the 1.2 million who tuned in to the show’s Season 2 debut on April 14 last year.  The two comedies’ second telecasts of the season followed Game Of Thrones‘ third episode, which averaged 6.6 million viewers at 9 PM last night, just shy of the season high. Another 1.6 million watched across two replays bringing the night’s tally to 8.2 million viewers.

Read More »

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Veteran Fox TV Executive Fired Over Fundraising Campaign For Relatives Of Missing Malaysia Plane Passengers

By | Sunday April 20, 2014 @ 7:15am PDT

Fox Cable NetworksFox Cable Networks Group VP Standards and Practices Darlene Lieblich Tipton has been fired for using her company email address to organize a fundraising campaign to benefit relatives of passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which went missing last month. “The conduct and communications at issue were not authorized by Fox and were in violation of company policy,” a spokesman said in a statement. “As soon as we became aware we took appropriate steps and, while we cannot discuss the particulars, we can tell you the employee is no longer with the company.” Tipton had been at Fox for 24 years, 11 at Fox Broadcasting and 13 at Fox cable.

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Samuel L. Jackson Part Of Saturday’s ‘Hateful Eight’ Reading

By | Friday April 18, 2014 @ 10:59am PDT

samuel-l-jackson-quentin-tarantino-sliceOrganizers have treated Film Independent’s staged reading of Quentin Tarantino’s latest script The Hateful Eight like a national security matter, restricting things like cell phones and computers and staying mum on casting ahead of Saturday night’s event. But I have confirmed that Tarantino staple Samuel L Jackson will play a part at reading set for the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in downtown LA. What role he might read remains unknown, but it begs the question what other Tarantino regulars might also participate in the event. (Any guesses, Deadline readers?) Tarantino is casting and directing the show, whose $200 tickets are the hottest in town. That’s no doubt because of the heat surrounding the Western screenplay, which was leaked prematurely and ended up on Gawker — much to the consternation of Tarantino, who then told Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr that because of the breaches he wasn’t going to turn the script into a movie. He later sued Gawker for posting it and a January 27, 2015 trial date has been set; the two sides are currently in court-ordered mediation. Film Independent first fueled the Jackson speculation with a tweet just now:

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The ABCs Of Aereo: Future of TV & Internet At Stake In Battle With Broadcasters, Says Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia

Editors Note: This is the last of three Deadline posts that lay out the issues in the Aereo case, which Deadline Legal Editor Dominic Patten will cover from the Supreme Court next week. Today: An interview with Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia.

Previous ABCs Of Aereo Reports:
What Is Aereo And Why Are Broadcasters Taking It To Supreme Court?
Aereo Wants “Something For Nothing”, Former U.S. Lawyer Says

Aereo Supreme CourtBroadcasters challenged Aereo‘s legality almost from the moment in early 2012 when it launched in NYC. It is a David and Goliath contest: the tiny, Barry Diller-backed streaming service defending itself against attacks from CBS, Disney, Fox, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal among other companies as well as the federal government’s Office of the Solicitor General. The plaintiffs say Aereo steals their property by selling their over-the-air programming without paying them. They liken it to a cable or satellite distributor and say that it packages channels and then redistributes them — in legal terms creating a public performance that, since it isn’t authorized by the broadcasters, violates the “transmit clause” of the Copyright Act of 1976. But Bloomberg Panel & Reception - 2012 Tribeca Film FestivalAereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia says there’s no violation. He simply leases to consumers the antennas and technologies they need to privately exercise their right to watch broadcast signals for free. He sees next week’s Supreme Court hearing as a fight for his company, as well as a struggle to protect public control of the airwaves, and consumers’ ability to harness the power of the Internet.

DEADLINE: Barry Diller has said that if you guys lose at the Supreme Court, it’s basically game over. Are you turning off the lights if the Supreme Court rules against you?
KANOJIA: It’s going to depend on what the nature of the scope of the conclusions from the Supreme Court happens to be. If it’s a straight up, wipeout loss — and the Supreme Court shows the 2nd Circuit’s analysis of the transmit laws and, as a result, the idea was private performance is incorrect — then it will be very difficult for Aereo to be in business. For us, along with a lot of other companies that buy DVRs or cloud solutions, it will be a very difficult climate for sure. One result may very well be that we cease to operate.

Related: Barry Diller Says Aereo WIll Be “Finished” If It Loses Supreme Court Case: Video

DEADLINE: What if it goes in your favor?
KANOJIA: It’ll mean business as usual for everybody. I think the broadcasters will continue to grow and succeed. I think Aereo will continue to sell to consumers who don’t consume broadcast TV from cable or satellite but use antennas or are not part of the system. Then I think overall the pie will continue to grow.

DEADLINE: What do you think the broadcasters will do if they lose?
KANOJIA: Oh, they’re going to come back for a Round 2. They may go to Congress. The strategy of this industry is, “Let’s litigate, legislate. And if you can’t figure that out, then see how to make money from basic knowledge.” Read More »

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Bret Harrison, Aaron McCusker Join ABC’s ‘The Astronaut Wives Club’; Daniel London In WGN’s ‘Manhattan’

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:14pm PDT

UPDATED: Bret Harrison aaron2bretharrison1(Orange County) and Aaron McCusker (Shameless, Dexter) have been cast as series regulars in ABC’s 10-episode drama series The Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios, eyed for 2015. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s book and directed by Nick Cassavetes, it tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Harrison will play Gordon “Gordo” Cooper, one of the original astronauts. His wandering ways pushed his wife, Trudy, to the brink of divorce, but he’s convinced her to come back so he can have his shot at space. McCusker, repped by UK’s Curtis Brown and Kritzer Levine Wilkins Griffin Nilon Entertainment, will play Wally Schirra, another one of the original astronauts who’s also a prankster.
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The ABCs Of Aereo: Streaming Service Wants “Something For Nothing”, Former Top Federal Lawyer Says

By and | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 12:31pm EDT

Editors Note: This is the second of three Deadline posts that lay out the issues in the Aereo case, which Deadline Legal Editor Dominic Patten will cover from the Supreme Court next week. Today: An interview with former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, who is serving as an adviser to the broadcasters in their case against the streaming service. 

Related: The ABCs Of Aereo: What Is Aereo And Why Are Broadcasters Taking It To The Supreme Court?

On April 22, Aereo and major broadcastersAereo case will have their day in the Supreme Court. Broadcasters will say Aereo is stealing their copyrighted material, end of story. The Barry Diller-backed streaming service that launched in early 2012 will say it merely rents antennas to consumers so they can watch TV that’s already available for free over the public airwaves. Both sides will be represented by lawyers who know the Supreme Court well. David Frederick of D.C. firm Kellog Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel LLP has more than 40 SCOTUS appearances notched on his belt and will handle defendant Aereo’s arguments. Former Solicitor General Paul Clement, who has argued more 70 cases before the high court, will represent Disney, CBS, NBCUniversal, Fox and the other plaintiffs. He will have a half hour to make his points, unless the Justices give 10 minutes to the current Solicitor General’s office to argue on behalf of the plaintiffs.

Here’s the broadcasters’ argument from Neal Katyal, now a partner at international firm Hogan Lovells, who was picked by President Obama to serve as Acting Solicitor General from May 2010-June 9, 2011.

Senate Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing On Enemy CombatantsDEADLINE: So, let’s cut to the chase — what is this case really about?
KATYAL: I certainly think that streaming of the broadcasters’ signals is retransmission and blatantly violates the Copyright Law. Our case is can a company come along and yank broadcast signals out of the air and then package them and sell them to individual subscribers for a fee when the producers of that content aren’t compensated for it? The networks each year spend billions of dollars creating, producing, acquiring and distributing and marketing their content. Aereo is yanking the signals out of the air and selling them to people. So that’s what the case is about.

Related: Aereo Slammed One Last Time By Broadcasters Before SCOTUS Hearing

DEADLINE: Aereo would say that it complies with the Copyright Act and that broadcasters are trying to stem the use of innovative technology and stop the future from happening.
KATYAL: I think this idea that Aereo has some innovative new technology is an absolute red herring. The only thing innovative about Aereo is its legal strategy. It’s not people capturing the signal, its Aereo capturing the signal through antenna and then selling it to the entire American public and it’s Aereo who’s violating the Copyright Law by doing that. What Aereo is doing is grabbing the broadcasters’ signal from the air and then they’re retransmitting it. In 1976 Congress expressly said any device or process that retransmits a broadcast signal without the copyright holder’s permission is unlawful. So to me this is one of the easiest cases the Supreme Court is going to decide this year because it’s something that Congress settled. There maybe a number of interesting policy arguments about how we should have a different Copyright Law, but with respect to the Copyright Law we do have, it’s a very hard argument for Aereo. Read More »

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Dakota Pictures Taps Pair Of VPs, Director Of Development

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 7:08pm PDT

CorbinChristos Sourligas photoThe Hollywood-based TV and film production company has tapped Christos Sourligas as VP Distribution, Corbin B. Larson as VP Production and Serena Turner as Director of Development. Sourligas will oversee serenatheatrical and television acquisitions and distribution for Dakota Pictures. He has worked for some of Canada’s largest comedy producers including Encore Television, Dakota’s Canadian partner, along with Quebecomm and the Just for Laughs comedy festival. Larson will supervise the development and production of the company’s TV and film projects. His credits include producing FX’s Brand X With Russell Brand and the upcoming Hulu series Deadbeat and serving as AD on the features Life Happens and Little Birds. Turner, who also has worked on Deadbeat and Brand X, will work on developing TV and film programming and oversee program creation at Dakota. “This talent trifecta will spark a creative revolution for Dakota Pictures,” company founder Troy Miller said in a statement. “The collective strength of Christos, Corbin and Serena has already begun to generate new partnerships to further expand the company’s production slate.”

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IRS Says CBS Can Convert Billboard Business Into Real Estate Investment Trust

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 3:04pm EDT

CBSOutdoorCBS shares are up 1.6% while CBS Outdoor Americas — the billboard company that the broadcaster spun off earlier this month — is up 6% following the ruling. It means that CBS can save a bundle on taxes later this year when it unloads the 81% interest it still has in the outdoor business.  “CBS Outdoor’s conversion into a REIT will unlock its true value, and the completion of our Outdoor initiatives will enhance our ability to return capital to our shareholders,” CEO Les Moonves says. “We’re very pleased with the way CBS Outdoor has launched as a public company, and with this favorable IRS ruling, we look forward to great success in the future.”

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Pivot Picks Up Sky Series ‘Fortitude’, Sets Development Slate, Revamps ‘TakePart Live’

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 9:02am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

pivotParticipant 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: Read More »

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UPDATE: Yahoo Stock Rises After Hours Following Q1 Sales Gains

By | Tuesday April 15, 2014 @ 3:15pm PDT

Yahoo_logonewUPDATE, 3:15 PM: Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was bullish on the sales gains and talked up the company’s results in four key investment businesses: mobile, video, native and social, with 98% ad growth year over year. (Mayer said mobile was the most important of those pillars, by the way.) Alibaba, meanwhile, remained a hot topic after the Chinese e-commerce company reported 66% sales growth — a major catalyst on the sales side but still a bit of a mystery to U.S. investors who will get more of a peek under the hood once it starts trading on the NYSE. An institutional investor asked what Yahoo expects to do with the potential $12B windfall from an Alibaba IPO, and Mayer answered that the company would remain a “good steward of our capital.” No word on further original content deals, other than Mayer saying expect more of the same mix of deals between tuck-in and outright acquisitions.

PREVIOUS, 1:55 PM: Yahoo shares bumped up in after-hours trading after the Web giant reported its first sales gains in more than a year. The news comes as the company reported revenue of $1.09B during the quarter, better than the $1.08B analysts expected and up from $1.07B a year ago. Net income was $311.6M, down from $390.3M year-over-year. Profit came in at 38 cents a share, a penny better than estimates. The big reason for optimism though were the sales gains: the company said it … Read More »

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UPDATE: MGM & Bond Producer Slam Universal In Latest ‘Section 6′ Lawsuit Action

By | Monday April 14, 2014 @ 4:14pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEUPDATED, 4:10 PM: The Section 6 lawsuit that sees two studios pitted against each other is starting to move faster than the opening sequence of a James Bond movie. Just three days after Universal responded to the multi-claim complaint from MGM and Bond producer Danjaq, the plaintiff today fired back with a response to the response. “Defendants thus admit that they not only have no plans to stop their infringing conduct, but that they are forging ahead—right now,” says today’s 4-page filing in federal court (read it here). “Even worse, as Universal knows from public reports, plaintiffs are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the next James Bond motion picture,Universal-Pictures-logo-2013__140130232555__140321183123-275x141__140404181950 slated for theatrical release in October 2015 and home video release in early 2016,” the filing adds. On April 3, MGM and Danjaq hit Universal with a complaint for unspecified damages and an injunction against the announced Aaron Berg-written World War I spy drama. The plaintiffs charged that mgm__130913144151-200x137__131115203538Section 6 was a rip-off of the James Bond properties, which they own. On April 11, Universal claimed in a filed of its own that the film was not even greenlighted and was still in the very early stages of development and did not infringe on the Bond copyright at all when the script was in its final form. “In essence, Universal’s response is to claim: ‘Just trust us, we’re trying to fix it. But it will take time.,’” the filing says. “That is no basis for Universal to avoid the targeted discovery plaintiffs seek. Without that expedited discovery, any attempt by plaintiffs to obtain preliminary relief would be tantamount to shooting at a moving target. The Court cannot possibly ascertain the status quo under such circumstances, let alone fashion appropriate relief to address it.” Judge Dean D. Pregerson will have to weigh in on this soon, but it sounds like both studios can use an M to separate them in this you said/I said schoolyard brawl.

PREVIOUSLY, 10:39 AM: Looks like Universal have brought their own legal license to kill on board in the Section 6 lawsuit with MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq — in more ways than one. Just over a week after being hit by a multi-claim copyright infringement suit by the duo, the studio has responded and they’ve brought a top operative in Bert Fields to handle things for them. Read More »

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BOX OFFICE FINAL: ‘Captain America 2′ Tally $41.2M, ‘Rio 2′ Runs Afowl With $39.3M, ‘Oculus’ $12M Over Disappointing Opener ‘Draft Day’ With Only $9.7M

OPENING: Rio 2 (FOX) on Friday was expected to fly to No. 1 for $43.9M to $44.3M (Fox was the only one to predict $45M), then Saturday got its wings clipped by Captain America: The Winter Soldier and ended at $39.3M, Oculus (REL) was expected to scare up $12M to $12.8M for third spot and ended up at $12M; Draft Day (LGF) on Fri. was second round pick for $10.9M (although Summit estimated lower $10.5M) and ended the weekend with $9.7M. NOTEWORTHY: Captain America 2 (DIS) expected to fall 56% in second weekend but will take No. 1 with $40.5M to $41.4M to end the 3-day with $41.2M.

BoxOffice_logo__131122164403-275x206UPDATED, MONDAY, 3:37 PM:  Rio 2 opened to $39.3M right in line with the first film which opened in 2011 to $39.2M. That hurts, but overseas, the film has already grossed $63.4M, so it has already pulled in over $100M worldwide and it should get some decent multiples as there is really nothing standing in its way for some weeks to come … well, there is the long- in-release Mr. Peabody & Sherman and Muppets Most Wanted. But for the sequel not to surge past the first film, something went a little haywire. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was the champ again this weekend and the final tally ended up at $41.2M but next weekend, it has competition when Warner Bros. opens the Johnny Depp sci-fi thriller Transcendence. The big disappointment of the weekend was the Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner football feature Draft Day (LGF). It took in only $9.7M. That’s three in a row for Costner that really didn’t thrill audiences — behind 3 Days To Kill and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, although the criticism for that film really was directed at Chris Pine not being a strong enough lead. Regardless, it’s too bad for all involved. Oculus, despite its C CinemaScore, was able to pull in $12M for the weekend which served Relativity well. Noah also bypassed Divergent to step into the Top Five. Read More »

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UPDATE: Maker Studios Rejects Relativity’s Acquisition Offer Saying It Has A Done Deal With Disney

makerstudios__140311194353-275x177

UPDATED: Maker says Relativity is too late. The online studio’s deal with Disney “has been approved by Maker Studios’ Board of Directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.” Oh, it also notes that the effort to block he deal in court “was denied today by The Superior Court of California; County of Los Angeles, Central District.” Relativity responds that it “made a compelling offer” and will “continue to aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution.”

PREVIOUS, 8:58 AM: Is $1B in stock from Relativity worth more than $950M in cash from Disney? That’s the proposition Relativity is offering online multichannel company Maker Studios today. It sent a letter of intent last night that it says “is superior to the current offer from Walt Disney” that the Maker board accepted last month. The plan developed with help from Jefferies and Barclays includes $500M in Relativity shares, $400M in stock when Maker hits “certain financial milestones,” plus $100M in stock to go to “key talent and executives” who also “are not existing stockholders of the Company.” Relativity says that both it and Maker “are natural partners” because both “share a commitment to challenging the status quo, Relativity_newlogobreaking down old models that don’t work and inventing new ones that do.” Disney believes that the deal it struck with Maker last month — $500M upfront and $450M with milestones — is binding, so we’ll see where this goes.

The proposal does not appear to be directly related to an effort by former Maker execs including co-founder Danny Zapplin to persuade the LA Superior Court to block the deal with Disney. The application for a temporary restraining order wants to put things on hold while the plaintiffs try to demonstrate that  current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” Disney isn’t named as a defendant in the matter. Read More »

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Leslie Moonves Talks New ‘Late Show’ Host Deal, Says Program “More Than Likely” Will Stay On East Coast: Video

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 7:42am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

late-show-with-colbert-logo_While watching the Final Four in the NCAA championship in Dallas last weekend, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves was on the phone working on Stephen Colbert‘s deal to succeed David Letterman as Late Show host. That’s how quickly CBS brass settled on Colbert as a replacement after Letterman announced his retirement last Thursday. “There were other good candidates but he stood out, we knew he would be the greatest replacement for David we could ever get,” Moonves told CBS’ The Early Show this morning (see the clip below). ”And when I called Dave to ask for his blessing he said exactly the same thing. He said I can’t think of anybody even a close second.” Moonves also revealed Colbert’s reaction to the news he had been chosen for the job. “He kept thanking me for this opportunity and telling me he wouldn’t let me down.”

Related: Leslie Moonves Takes ‘Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ Victory Lap

Moonves indicated the transition — he called it “once-in-a-generation change” –  will likely happen after the end of next season, saying that Letterman will stay on for “at least another year.” As for where the show will be based, Moonves noted that Colbert is a New Yorker, so “it is more than likely it will be on the East Coast.” The network has been the subject of Read More »

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Disney’s Maker Studios Purchase Threatened By Ex-CEO’s Legal Action

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 1:37pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEDisney’s proposed $500 million plus purchase of Maker Studios may have a problem from the past. The former CEO of the multichannel YouTube network wants a California judge to issue a temporary restring order against the planned vote next week on the big ticket merger. “Permitting the April 15, 2014 vote on the Merger to proceed without requiring additional disclosures would makerstudios__140311194353-275x177irreparably harm Plaintiffs, as well as Maker shareholders, because it would deprive them of the opportunity to make an informed vote in the Merger,” says the redacted and previously sealed application, filed yesterday in LA Superior Court by co-founder Danny Zapplin and three other former Maker execs. The TRO application alleges that something has to be done before it “will be too late” because current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” The application to Judge Elihu Berle became public today. Disney is not named as a defendant in the matter.
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Rupert Murdoch Talks About Succession, Politics, And His Greatest “Screwup”: Fortune

murdoch-rupertRupert Murdoch is all over Twitter. (“My family are horrified that I’m on it,” he says.) But in agreeing to sit down for a broad interview with Fortune, one of the media industry’s most powerful moguls signals that he’s finally ready to return in a serious way to the public stage that he has largely abandoned as he grappled with his UK hacking scandals and a bitter divorce, as well as uncertainty about the prospects for his media empire — which he split into two companies last year — and his succession plans. You should check out the piece by senior editor-at-large Pattie Sellers. Here are a few of the highlights:

Related: Rupert Murdoch Says There May Be Multiple ‘Avatar’ Sequels: Fortune

Succession: His sons James and Lachlan are first in line to take over although “I’m going to be here for a long time. And so will [Fox COO] Chase Carey and [News Corp CEO]  Robert Thomson.” murdochsThe effort to bring Lachlan back intensified after a private meeting with James at last year’s Allen & Co confab in Sun Valley. “We had two or three hours together. Lachlan was not not going to come back. It was a question of how we would work together.”

Related: Lachlan And James Murdoch Given Big New Roles At News Corp

Daughter Liz Murdoch’s decision not to join the News Corp board: Rupert says he’d “rather not go into that.” A lot of close families “have good arguments. That doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.” And it’s “more than possible” that she’ll return to the family business.

Who’ll be the GOP’s 2016 presidential candidate: Murdoch says former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is “my number one” calling him “a man of very fine character.” He also has “particular admiration” for Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “could recover” from inquiries into his possible role in manufactured traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge. Murdoch agrees with Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul on “a great number of things” but disagrees on foreign policy “too strongly perhaps to vote for him.”

His view of Hillary Clinton: He left open the possibility of supporting her but “it would depend on the Republican candidate totally.” He adds that he “could live with Hillary as President. We have to live with who we get. We don’t have any choice.” Read More »

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‘Twilight Saga’ Financier Goldcrest Sues Summit For Millions Owed In Revenue

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 4:06pm PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEThe Twilight Saga films may be over, but the battle for money from the blockbuster franchise is not. Financier Goldcrest Film Distribution hit Summit today with a multimillion-dollar breach of contract lawsuit (read it here) over the movies. “As a direct result of Defendant’s deceptive accounting practices in which it systematically understates the Twilight revenues and imgresoverstates its costs, however, Goldcrest has received many millions of dollars less than it is due,” says the heavily redacted document filed today in LA Superior Court. The plaintiff says they are trying “to recover several million dollars in payments” from the more than $392 million that the first Twilight made worldwide. In a 2008 sub-distribution deal Goldcrest says in the filing it agreed to front Summit and others $10 million for four films based on the bestselling vampire books by Stephenie Meyer. For the upfront payment, the London-based financier was to get a hefty slice of the pics’ global net revenue.

Obviously that didn’t happen to Goldcrest’s satisfaction with what they allege are fast and loose moves on the part of Summit, now a Lionsgate subsidiary. “We uncovered numerous improper accounting charges, including retroactive ‘bonuses’ paid to actors Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson after Twilight was released, which were not due under their agreements. These bonuses were paid and charged back to Goldcrest long after Twilight was completed,” said Goldcrest attorney Mark Holscher of Kirkland & Ellis in a statement … Read More »

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