The Weinstein Company, TF1 DA and eOne will partner on Suite Française, the Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts and Kristin Scott Thomas drama directed by Saul Dibb. TWC will handle U.S. rights, along with distribution rights in Latin America, Australia, Russia and Germany. Production starts in June on the 1940s-set film that’s based on Irene Nemirovsky’s novel about a young woman who lives with her controlling mother-in-law in Nazi-occupied France and ends up falling for a German officer. The 15M euro film will shoot in Belgium and Paris.
EXCLUSIVE: Big Media companies don’t tell you when something’s rotten with the corporate culture. But this list should help you begin your search. This is Deadline’s third annual tally of out-of-whack CEO compensation. It’s an account of chiefs who not only make vastly more than you and me, but also collect far more than their closest colleagues at their own companies. Corporate governance experts become concerned when a CEO consistently makes at least three times more than the median for the four other highest-paid execs that the SEC requires companies to list in the annual proxy statement. That’s the standard I use, and it indicates that 14 out of 31 media companies that I tracked and that have already filed 2012 data failed the test — in many cases miserably.
Out of whack CEO pay can send a poisonous message to employees, including others in the C-suite. Internal pay parity “is critical to ensuring fairness and encouraging a collaborative team effort,” News Corp says in its proxy. Huge disparities also can tip you off to troublesome boardroom beliefs. It might indicate that directors lack faith in the business or leadership team — and fear that things will unravel if the top dog leaves. It may be a symptom of corporate groupthink where people give the chief credit for everything that goes well, and seek scapegoats for everything that doesn’t. Or it might mean that directors are beholden to the CEO — or share a cynical and grandiose sense of entitlement — and see nothing wrong with helping him (it’s almost always “him”) stuff his pockets with shareholders’ money, even where there’s little danger that he might leave if paid less. Whatever the case, researchers find that all too often the damage from such obeisance to the CEO eventually hurts a company’s performance and stock price. (For example, here, here, here, and here.)
This list looks at the biggest and best known infotainment providers. I include Web-based companies such as AOL and Yahoo that produce and sell their own content, and added Facebook which depends on ad sales. But I left out ones including Apple and Verizon that generate most of their revenues from hardware or personal communications services. (I’ve also left out Google, where the top execs benefit from stock performance and only collect a symbolic $1 in compensation.) For context, I’ve also noted how many people the company employs, and how that’s changed since the last fiscal year, to see whether these fabulously rich CEOs were job creators. The data isn’t nearly as revealing as it ought to be. For example, the SEC doesn’t require companies to specify how many jobs are based in the U.S., or even how many are full time. I’ve also included the CEO’s 2012 compensation rank among other media chiefs in our list, as well as among all media executives listed in their company proxies, and the average compensation over the last three years. (To avoid having them counted twice, I combined the compensation that Sumner Redstone collects as chairman of CBS and Viacom, and that Charles Dolan collects at Cablevision and AMC Networks.)
A few things to keep in mind: The SEC reporting rules only cover the top-paid executives of publicly traded U.S. companies. That means we’ll miss a lot of highly paid people who work at subsidiaries of a big company; Universal Studios’ Ron Meyer may be a big deal in Hollywood, but he didn’t make the top echelon at his corporate parent Comcast. Also, the pay data given to the SEC can spike in a year when an executive cashes in stock or collects deferred compensation. Averages also can be skewed when people on the list come and go in the middle of the year. So consider this to be a starting point to judge whether a CEO was paid fairly — not a final verdict.
I’ll be back soon with additional information including a similar list showing CEOs whose pay was more in line with his or her colleagues. Here’s how the out-of-whack CEOs stack up for 2012:
1. Live Nation: Michael Rapino. The concert and ticketing giant had a so-so year generating higher revenues but even higher costs — and a net loss. Last year’s big tours included Madonna, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Roger Waters, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Company shares appreciated 8.1% in 2012, lagging the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 which was +12.7%. But the big excitement took place at year-end with the surprising departure of Chairman Irving Azoff, taking performers he represents including Eagles, Van Halen, and Christina Aguilera. That left Rapino clearly in charge — but under the watchful eye of Liberty Media, which owns nearly 27% of the stock. With a flood of option awards, the CEO’s compensation rose 138.4% to $28.5M (The package: $2.2M salary, $243,281 bonus, $2.6M stock awards, $19M option awards, $4.4M non-equity compensation, $46,408 other compensation.) That was a whopping 17.0 times more than the median for the four other highest paid execs — up from last year’s 5.5 times — and 46% of the pie. Even these numbers underplay the disparity in executive pay: The group of other execs includes Azoff who made $27.4M. The company had 7,100 full time employees at year end, up 500. (Pay rank among media CEOs: 9. Among all media execs: 11. Average annual pay over last three years: $18.7M.)
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Trance’, ‘Upstream Color’, ‘Simon Killer’, ‘Free Angela & All Political Prisoners’, ‘Lotus Eaters’, ‘The Company You Keep’, ‘The Brass Teapot’
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor
This week’s Specialty newcomers include Danny Boyle’s Trance from Fox Searchlight, IFC Films’ Simon Killer and self-distributed Sundance favorite Upstream Color. Trance will likely be the juggernaut of the group with its star-power in the form of James McAvoy, Rosario Dawson and Vincent Cassel, though Upstream Color could prove a hefty presence due to strong word of mouth and a loyal following from fans of Shane Carruth’s previous film, Primer. And the folks behind 2011 hit Martha Marcy May Marlene are opening Simon Killer, a dark drama set in Paris, via IFC Films. Free Angela & All Political Prisoners is this week’s documentary newcomer, while Lotus Eaters hopes to carve itself a piece of the limited release box office pie. Also set to bow, Robert Redford’s thriller The Company You Keep. The specialty world, meanwhile, took pause today as the news of Roger Ebert’s death spread. The famed critic will be remembered for being a champion of movies big and small and will be sorely missed.
As part of its overall deal with Boyle, Searchlight has been on board Trance from the very start. “This is our sixth film we’ve done with Danny starting with 28 Days Later 10 years ago in 2003, and we’ve had a fabulous time,” Searchlight co-president Steve Gilula said in introducing the film at its New York premiere, hosted by The Cinema Society. “The one thing about Danny as a visionary filmmaker is he challenges us and challenges the audience and expects us to go with him…” Boyle introduced co-stars Dawson and Cassel before the screening in Chelsea, noting about the film: “What happens in the movie is deeply, deeply unethical,” he noted to laughs from an audience that included Patrick Stewart, Emma Watson, Kathleen Turner, Gina Gershon and Lou Reed & Laurie Anderson. “But it is clinically possible…”
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Trance’
In what’s become an increasingly grim couple of weeks for reality television, a doctor working on TF1‘s Koh-Lanta, France’s version of Survivor, has committed suicide. Dr. Thierry Costa’s death comes a little over a week after contestant Gérald Babin died from a heart attack during filming of the first episode of the show’s 16th season in Cambodia. Production had already been shut down on Koh-Lanta and resulted in the cancellation of the entire 16th season. In a suicide note he asked be made public, Costa said he was confident he had treated Babin “as a patient and not a contestant” but said he was distraught by “false accusations and assumptions” in the media, according to local reports. Last Friday, Koh-Lanta producer Adventure Line Productions, a subsidiary of Zodiak media, said it would sue for defamation after information from an anonymous source, which called into question the on-site response of the production team and the doctor, was published by French media. A manslaughter inquiry has been opened into Babin’s death. Koh-Lanta started airing in 2001 and is one of leading network TF1′s flagship series, drawing an average of 7.4M viewers.
Global Showbiz Briefs: China’s Pay-TV Revenues Surge; French Film Production Up, Investment Down; Hat Trick & Plum
China Is Now World’s 2nd Biggest Pay-TV Market: Report
China has done it again. Last week, the MPAA’s Theatrical Statistics Report confirmed that China’s box office had outpaced Japan’s to make the nation the world’s number-two movie market. A new report from UK-based Digital TV Research finds that China is also the leader in pay-TV revenues outside the U.S. Amid massive growth in the Asia Pacific region, the report’s author, Simon Murray, said China overtook Japan to become “the most lucrative pay-TV market in 2012.” Revenues from pay-TV across Asia Pacific are expected to reach $43.9B in 2018. In 2013 alone, the report estimates the subscription and on-demand pay-TV business will grow by $2.1B to $33.9B. In Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, revenues are expected to more than double by 2018, although a drop is foreseen in Hong Kong and South Korea where penetration is expected to be almost 100% by then. Digital penetration should hit 90% in 2018 across the region, but opportunities for growth will remain in Indonesia and the Philippines. China is expected to have 313M pay-TV households by 2018 and India will have 158M.
The death of a participant on TF1 reality series Koh-Lanta, the French version of Survivor, has resulted in the cancellation of the show’s 16th season. Gérald Babin suffered a heart attack and died on Friday during the first day of shooting in Cambodia following a “shipwreck” challenge. He was 25. Production ceased immediately and the other contestants were being flown back to Paris today. Over the weekend, a spokesperson for France’s leading commercial broadcaster TF1 said, “The show will not take place in 2013.” Koh-Lanta, produced by Zodiak Media subsidiary Adventure Line Productions, started airing in 2001 and has consistently won its timeslot, drawing an average of 7.4M viewers. The 16th season was expected to air next fall. TF1 and ALP said in a joint statement: “The teams from ALP, TF1 and (host) Denis Brogniart are devastated and join in the profound sadness of Gérald’s family. All of their thoughts are with his parents, his sister, his girlfriend and all those close to him.”
NBC has picked up U.S. TV rights to the one-hour action-crime series Crossing Lines, from German producer Tandem Communications (The Pillars Of The Earth) and Ed Bernero’s Bernero Prods. The 10-episode series will air this summer. Created, developed and executive produced by former Criminal Minds showrunner Bernero and Tandem president Rola Bauer, Crossing Lines taps into the charter of the International Criminal Court to investigate serialized cross-border crimes and to hunt down global criminals. It stars William Fichtner, Donald Sutherland, Marc Lavoine, Gabriella Pession, Tom Wlaschiha, Moon Dailly and Richard Flood. “We’re making scripted projects a priority for our summer lineup, and this is a great fit,” NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt. The series is a co-production with TF1 Production/TF1 Network and commissioned by Sony Pictures TV Networks. It also has been acquired by Germany’s SAT.1 and Italian public broadcaster RAI.
The cash likely will be used to help Discovery pay for its planned $1.7B acquisition of ProSiebenSat.1 Group’s SBS Nordic operations — and possibly the $1B increase the company announced last year in its stock repurchase plan. Discovery will raise funds from two sales of senior unsecured notes: it will pay 3.250% a year in interest for $350M in notes due in 2023, and 4.875% interest for $850M due in 2043. (The rates and maturity periods are remarkably similar to those in the $550M borrowing plans that Viacom announced yesterday.) Discovery’s taking advantage of the market’s low interest rates and its investment-grade debt ratings from Moody’s Investors Service (which classifies the company as Baa2), Standard & Poor’s (BBB) and Fitch (BBB). Discovery’s upbeat about the performance of its operations and says the SBS deal and a strategic alliance with France’s TF1 will help. But Moody’s calls its deals “an aggressive use of cash and debt that increase leverage and will weakly position the company within the Baa2 rating category for the next 12- 18 months.” The joint bookrunners on the debt sale are J.P Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Citigroup, and RBS Securities.
EXCLUSIVE: Law & Order veteran Rene Balcer has come on board CBS‘ drama pilot The Ordained as executive producer/showrunner. Balcer has a history with the project, having helped the creator, journalist-turned-author Lisa Cullen, with conceptualizing the idea when she first conceived the show in 2011. Back then, Cullen took out Ordained as a pitch but it didn’t sell. Cullen went on to write it as a spec, developing it with her management company, The Shuman Co. The spec was sent out to TV studios last summer, landing at CBS TV Studios where studio-based Frank Marshall came on board as executive producer. After the script was picked up to pilot by CBS, the producers looked for a showrunner. Because of Balcer’s previous involvement, he was a top choice and was available, leading to his deal on the project. He will be executive producer alongside Marshall, Larry Shuman and A.B. Fischer. Directed by RJ Cutler, Ordained centers on Tom Reilly (Charlie Cox), the son of a Kennedy-esque family who leaves the priesthood and becomes a lawyer at a top New York firm to prevent his politician sister Packy (Hope Davis) from being assassinated. Sam Neill, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jorge Garcia and Audra McDonald co-star.
London Film Fest Dates Set
The British Film Institute has set the dates for this year’s London Film Festival. The 57th go-around will take place from October 9-20 this year, head of exhibition and festival director Clare Stewart announced. Last year’s festival saw banner local and international premieres for the likes of Frankenweenie, Great Expectations, Argo, Amour, Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Silver Linings Playbook. The festival is currently accepting submissions for 2013. - Joe Utichi
ITV Licenses Additional Deals For ‘The Audience’
ITV Studios and ITV Studios Global Entertainment have signed new deals for The Audience, created by indie The Garden originally for Channel 4 in the UK. ITV Studios Nordic will produce 8 x 45-minute episodes for Viasat’s TV 3 in Norway, while ITV Studios Global Entertainment has secured a deal in Hungary, where Paprika Latino will produce 6 hourlong episodes for Viasat 3. ITVS GE represents the format internationally for The Garden. The Audience is from the creators of One Born Every Minute and the producers of 24 Hours in A&E at The Garden. In each episode, the show introduces someone with a life-changing decision to make who opens up their lives to The Audience – 50 ordinary people who follow them for a week and draw on their collective life experience to solve the person’s problem.
EFM Roundup: ‘Rising Star’ At Content; Studiocanal Selling French ‘Starbuck’ Redo; 108 Media’s ‘Honour’
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Content Hooks ‘Rising Star’
Content Film will handle sales on romantic comedy/drama Rising Star at the EFM. Marty Lang won the Best Premier at the Seattle True Independent Film Festival last year with the film that stars Gary Ploski and Emily Morse. Lang’s debut feature is about an overworked insurance adjuster who must decide between his job and his passion. Lang, Matthew Giovannucci and Ploski produced the Hartford, Connecticut-set film that was crewed by graduates of the Connecticut Film Industry Training Program, an initiative that uses IATSE and DGA members as instructors and which Lang created in 2008.
Studiocanal Boards ‘Starbuck’ Remake
Proving that Québec and France share two distinctly different languages, France’s Studiocanal will finance, distribute and handle international on the French remake of hit Québécois comedy Starbuck. Made in PM produces with Studiocanal and TF1 co-producing. José Garcia plays a man whose past comes back to haunt him when he learns a sperm donation he made 20 years earlier resulted in 533 children, 142 of whom want to meet him. Isabelle Doval directs from an adaptation by Karine de Demo, Garcia and Doval. Shooting starts in March for an October release in France. DreamWorks’ English-language remake, The Delivery Man, is directed by the original’s Ken Scott and stars Vince Vaughn. It’s slotted for an …
Private equity firms Permira and KKR are said to be working with JPMorgan Chase on options for their 53% stake in German broadcaster ProSiebenSat.1 Media. The firms could sell to another company or on the open market, Bloomberg reports, and potential bidders could include Time Warner, Comcast and News Corp., The Financial Times said. News of a potential sale comes amid increased movement in the German broadcast sector as companies compete in a contracted ad sales market. In December, Discovery Communications said it was acquiring ProSieben’s SBS Nordics operations for $1.7B and last week, media giant Bertelsmann said it was considering reducing its stake in FremantleMedia owner the RTL Group. KKR and Permira acquired their ProSieben stake for 3.1B euros ($4.2B) in 2006, at the peak of the buyout market, but have had to write down their investments since. ProSieben’s stock has jumped by more than 20% since the beginning of 2013, giving the company a market value of 5.6B euros ($7.6B), according to the FT.
Endemol Group COO and Endemol France CEO Virginie Calmels is to leave the company “shortly” according to a statement. Calmels, who joined Big Brother producer Endemol in 2003, was named COO last year. Just last week, she was named president of the supervisory board of Euro Disney, but at the time of that announcement was expected to continue at Endemol. Nicolas Coppermann, who became managing director of Endemol France in May, will now become CEO. Endemol France’s recent credits include The Money Drop for TF1 and Undercover Boss for M6.
Condé Nast Entertainment has named Robert Green SVP Creative – Digital. In his new role, which begins immediately, Green will be responsible for developing, producing and managing the creation of original content for CNE’s digital video channels based on Condé Nast’s iconic brands. The co-founder of Media Ventures Pictures will draw on his experience producing TV shows and films, and his most recent post as an executive producer of streaming news network HuffPost Live, to build and expand CNE’s digital content and distribution business. Green will work with Fred Santarpia, CNE’s chief digital officer, and report to Conde Nast Entertainment president Dawn Ostroff. Green has executive produced more than 20 television projects for networks including Lifetime and Fox as well as several international media companies including Telecino and TF1. As a development executive, his film credits include Gladiator, Stuart Little and Spy Game. Since 2007, Green has also headed Another Green World, a production company that has created original content for studios, networks, politicians, consumer brands and digital outlets.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav wants to quell a potentially big shareholder concern: that his pay TV networks company might become embroiled in costly bidding wars for sports rights as a result of its new investment in TF1‘s Eurosport. (That’s part of two major deals the company announced this morning.) This is Discovery’s first direct foray into the sports business. But the near-insane buying frenzies are characteristic of the U.S. market, which is “completely different,” he said in a conference call this morning. Eurosport focuses on regionally popular niche sports including tennis, cycling, skiing, skating, and curling. That’s “more manageable, much more predictable,” he says. “There isn’t one sport that they have to have….It doesn’t strive to be that big massive platform, which is consistent with what we do.” Discovery also is still feeling its way: It agreed to pay $221.6M for a 20% stake in Eurosport. It has an option to raise its holding to 51% in two years. If it does, then TF1 can require Discovery to buy the remaining 49% as well.
Discovery To Acquire ProSieben’s SBS Nordic Ops For $1.7B, Adds $1B To Stock Buyback Scheme, Outlines TF1 Alliance
Discovery Communications is widely expanding its footprint in Europe with the purchase of 12 TV networks and 19 radio stations in the Nordic countries. The company is also working on a strategic alliance with France’s TF1, as Deadline reported yesterday. The combined deals mark a roughly $2B investment by Discovery to increase its international reach. The deal for the SBS Nordic operations with Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 brings general entertainment, scripted and sports programming to Discovery’s suite of services for the first time. Via the TF1 deal, Discovery would take an initial 20% stake in pan-European sports network Eurosport as well as buying into some of TF1′s branded channels. Below are two press releases, the first outlining the SBS Nordic deal and the second on the TF1 alliance:
(Silver Spring, Md.) – Discovery Communications today announced a definitive agreement with ProSiebenSat.1 Group to purchase the company’s SBS Nordic operations for a total enterprise value of approximately $1.7 billion (€1.325 billion). The acquisition of SBS Nordic includes 12 television networks in Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, among other assets, and further solidifies Discovery’s long-term growth in the strong Nordic TV markets. The deal also expands Discovery’s brand portfolio by adding general entertainment, scripted and sports programming to the company’s suite of services for the first time. The transaction is subject to regulatory review and is expected to close in early 2013. Additionally, Discovery also announced that its Board of Directors has approved a $1.0 billion increase to its existing stock repurchase program.
“SBS Nordic has a fully distributed portfolio of dual revenue stream networks with a terrific management team that will expand Discovery’s footprint across the Nordic region, which includes some of the most well-penetrated and stable TV markets in the world,” said David Zaslav, president and CEO of Discovery Communications. “Individually, and taken together, the acquisition of SBS Nordic, our pending strategic partnership with TF1 through the acquisition of a minority stake in Eurosport, and the increase in our share repurchase program are all complementary to our long-term growth strategy of delivering sustained operating results, creating strong organic growth through investment in content, brands and talent, and returning capital to shareholders.”
Rene Balcer, co-developer/executive producer of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, which started off on NBC before migrating to the USA Network, is back at USA with a new project, a drama he is writing as well as executive producing with Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment. Described as “The X-Files meets The Matrix“, DarkNet is a mystery series about a couple of cyber-crime investigators who stumble across a far-reaching conspiracy to change the course of human evolution. “On one level, DarkNet‘s a cautionary tale about transhumanism inspired by something Ray Bradbury said,” Balcer said. “He thought the Internet was a massive scam perpetrated by computer companies. I thought, what if he was only half-right, and they had something far more sinister in mind.”
DarkNet, produced by Universal Cable Prods., centers on a woman with an MIT degree whose younger sister disappeared years ago, allegedly a victim of a cyber predator. As part of her quest to find the truth, the woman joins the FBI’s cyber crime unit where she is partnered with a former hacktivist who was recruited by the FBI after serving time in jail. USA has had success with two-lead series, most notably, White Collar and Suits.
The nominations in 25 categories for movies and television for the 2013 Golden Globe Awards were announced this morning at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The nominees were introduced by Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Aida Takla-O’Reilly along with Jessica Alba, Megan Fox and Ed Helms. Ballots were submitted to the accounting firm of Ernst and Young on Monday. The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards will air live on NBC on Sunday, January 13 hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
Warner Bros. Pictures, GK Films, Smokehouse Pictures; Warner Bros. Pictures
The Weinstein Company, Columbia Pictures; The Weinstein Company/Sony Pictures Releasing
LIFE OF PI
Fox 2000 Pictures; Twentieth Century Fox
DreamWorks Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox; Touchstone Pictures
ZERO DARK THIRTY
Columbia Pictures and Annapurna Pictures; Sony Pictures Releasing
France’s TF1 today said its board of directors had voted to give company chief Nonce Paolini the greenlight to continue and finalize negotiations with Discovery Communications on a strategic alliance. On November 13, the companies disclosed they were in exclusive talks that could result in a significant investment by Discovery into the French media giant. Today, TF1 elaborated on the areas in which the two companies would partner and laid out some financials for the deal which is expected to close within the next few weeks.
TF1 said the two are looking to develop the future activities of Eurosport, the French conglom’s pan-European sports channel, which would see Discovery take a 20% minority interest in the Eurosport group for about $222M. Discovery would also have the option of increasing its stake to 51% after two years, at which point TF1 could exercise a put option lifting Discovery’s ownership to 100%.