Not sure how last night’s Late Night skit with Jimmy Fallon ties into Brad Pitt’s World War Z, the Paramount tentpole that comes out Friday. Maybe Pitt is stumping for a role in Les Miserables 2?
EXCLUSIVE: After getting his start doing VFX work on projects including District 9 and The Watchmen, Canadian filmmaker Dan Gaud has his eye on directing. Here is a look at his calling card, Tonight I Strike, is a $15,000 futuristic short with about 60 VFX shots that he executed on a laptop computer in a short he shot in seven days. The money was raised by his manager, Jewerl Ross, who signed Gaud off another short that he had made for $500. Gaud’s hope from this short is to sign with an agency and either make a feature that is set in the world this short presents, or maybe the plethora of no budget features that producers like Jason Blum are minting money with as counter-programming to the big budgeters. What do you think?
The battle between BT and BSkyB continues to mount with UK regulator Ofcom opening an investigation into the News Corp.-controlled pay-TV group on the back of a complaint brought by BT. In the claim, which BT filed in late May, the group alleges that BSkyB has engaged in an abuse of dominant position by withholding its sports channels from BT’s YouView platform unless BT supplies its own sports channels to Sky for retail on Sky’s platform. Ofcom says it believes there are reasonable grounds for suspecting an infringement under the 1998 Competition Act and will consider whether Sky has abused a dominant position under UK and/or EU competition law. BT and Sky have become fierce competitors especially where sports, notably soccer, are concerned. BT is in the process of acquiring ESPN’s UK and Ireland TV channels business and is launching a new Sport TV package this summer which it is offering for free to its broadband customers. BSkyB and BT share the rights to Britain’s Premiere League soccer games with the former holding 116 live matches and the latter 38. The season kicks off in August. A Sky spokesman said today, “Sky considers BT’s latest complaint to be entirely without merit. We look forward to engaging constructively with Ofcom.”
It was great news all around for ABC last night. First, the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs staged an overtime thriller that scored a 14.7 overnight rating, up 29% from Game 5, the second highest-rated NBA Finals Game 6 ever on ABC and the fourth highest rated game ever on the network. Secondly, Miami Heat prevailed, forcing a Game 7. The Heat-Spurs heroics likely pushed the finale of NBC’s The Voice down. MORE
EXCLUSIVE: Joy Bryant has signed with Resolution Agency, reuniting her with a team led by her longtime CAA agent, Steve Alexander. Bryant, whose breakout came in Antwone Fisher, can currently be seen in her role as Jasmine Trussell on NBC’s Parenthood and will next be seen in the feature film About Last Night, starring opposite Kevin Hart and Paula Patton. She continues to produce and appear on the Reserve Channel’s web series Across the Board. She continues to be represented by Brian Young at Killer Moxie Management.
CUPERTINO, California—June 19, 2013—Apple today announced that HBO GO and WatchESPN are now available directly on Apple TV joining the great lineup of programming offered to customers. iTunes users have downloaded more than one billion TV episodes and 380 million movies from iTunes to date, and they are purchasing over 800,000 TV episodes and over 350,000 movies per day.
Tribune Co’s new CEO Peter Liguori continues to put his stamp on the company’s top management team. Tribune has appointed Steven Berns as EVP/Chief Financial Officer. Berns, who starts next month reporting to Liguori, comes from Revlon, Inc., where he has served in a similar capacity since 2009. Berns replaces Chandler Bigelow, who, after a five-year stint as CFO, is segueing to a new role as EVP/Chief Business Strategies and Operations Officer. He will oversee the company’s equity investments and its real estate portfolio, and will help lead the ongoing transformation of Tribune’s traditional media businesses, continuing to report to Liguori. “Steven’s broad experience, financial acumen, and open management style will enable us to make a seamless transition in the leadership of our finance team,” said Liguori. “At the same time, I am excited to partner with Chandler in his new role as we continue to evolve our businesses; his institutional knowledge, financial rigor and strategic instincts make Chandler ideal for this role.”
Nighline anchor Terry Moran will be leaving the late-night newsmagazine to relocate to London later this summer, where he will serve as a London-based anchor and chief foreign correspondent for ABC News. A veteran court reporter, Moran also will continue to contribute to ABC News’ coverage of major Supreme Court decisions. Moran’s departure comes as Nightline, now airing at 12:35 AM, draws less than half its previous audience at 11:35 PM. Moran joined Nightline after a 1999-2005 stint as a White House correspondent for ABC News where he has been since 1997. Here is ABC News president Ben Sherwood’s memo on Moran’s move:
EXCLUSIVE: Former Endeavor agent and LA-based entrepreneur, Jourdan Martin, has partnered with a group of Turkish media execs to form Turkweb.tv. The ad-supported VOD service has been in soft-launch in Turkey with 11,000 hours of local content averaging 15 million video views per month. With the official launch, plans are also underway to establish similar services in Russia and Mexico, likewise with local content, although some Hollywood fare is expected to enter the frame. Turkey is a hot territory right now where the ad market is particulary strong and where homegrown TV series have increased steadily in popularity both at home and abroad in recent years. Partnered in the venture with Martin are former D-Smart exec Murat Saygi; former board member and president of Dogan TV Holding Group, Sevin Ergun Sefada; and Adnan Akdemir, founder of Turkish cinema operator AFM.
Two weeks before its stand-up pic Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain opens in theaters, the distributor founded by Jeff Clanahan has acquired U.S. rights to the romantic drama Things Never Said. The pic is written and directed by Charles Murray, who is making his feature debut after a decade in television. Shanola Hampton stars as an aspiring poet in a dangerous marriage who dreams of taking her work to New York. A surprise new love (Omari Hardwick) helps her find her artistic voice. Brian “Skinny B” Lewis produced the film, which is executive produced by Nicole Elliot, Steven LaBroi and Geofrey Hildrew. Codeblack Films, the Lionsgate unit that recently acquired Sundance drama The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete, will release Things Never Said this year.
In yet another U.S. acquisition, Britain’s ITV is taking a controlling stake in reality, entertainment and drama producer Thinkfactory Media. Among the company’s credits are the award-winning miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. ITV will pay $30M for a 65% share of the company with a put and call option to buy the remaining 35%. The option could be exercised from between 3 years after the initial deal and at the end of year 5 with the total amount paid linked to the performance of the company over that period. Late last year, ITV acquired a controlling interest in Duck Dynasty producer Gurney Productions and in May it took a slice of Cake Boss maker High Noon Entertainment. Other recent acquisitions include UK production company The Garden. The takeovers are part of ITV’s five-year Transformation Plan.
LA-based Thinkfactory was founded in 1992 by Leslie Greif. Its portfolio includes R&B Divas, Preachers’ Daughters, Marriage Bootcamp and The Hook-Up as well as new drama series Texas Rangers for the History Channel.
Continuing its international expansion, Netflix will move into the Netherlands later this year. This follows on from launches in the UK, Ireland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway in 2012 and Latin America in 2011. The streaming service currently has 36 million members in 40 countries. Netflix did not provide details of the Netherlands launch, but said information on pricing, content and supported devices will be available at a later date. It did confirm that users will have immediate access to Hollywood films, local and global movie and TV content and original series like House Of Cards and Arrested Development.
Ron Burgundy and company return December 20 in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. We’ve had two teaser trailers up to now featuring the main cast of Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner. Here’s a fresh look that fleshes out what the fab four will be up to in the 80s and featuring new cast members Kristen Wiig and James Marsden. Check it out, it’s kind of a big deal:
Global Showbiz Briefs: UK Scramble For FA Cup Rights; Shanghai’s Box Office Surges; Karlovy Vary Honors John Travolta; More
At Least Four UK Nets Lining Up To Bid For FA Cup Rights
A bidding war reportedly is gearing up in the UK for TV rights to soccer tournament the FA Cup for the three seasons to 2017-18. Financial Times reports that BT, ITV, BSkyB and the BBC are entering bids. BT and ITV currently share rights to the FA Cup until the end of the 2013-14 season. FT says analysts predict that having all four in the ring could significantly push up the cost of the rights. In January 2012, ITV acquired free-to-air broadcast rights for 16 FA Cup games per season, along with some of England’s home qualifying games, for an annual cost of £43M. But the BBC is understood to be concerned about its lack of live soccer during the regular season. BT and BSkyB are still expected to be the most aggressive bidders.
Shanghai Now Second-Biggest Box Office Among Chinese Cities
Shanghai box office has become the second biggest of all mainland Chinese cities and is expected to continue to grow rapidly in the next few years, spurred on by investment from U.S. studios Disney and DreamWorks, according to a study by Artisan Gateway. In 2012, Shanghai’s box office was $214.2 million, a 22.2% year-on-year growth. The city, regarded as the birthplace of Chinese cinema, has 122 movie theaters, just two more than the No. 1 Beijing market. The U.S. Consulate, which sponsored the study, said it plans to contribute more to protecting IP rights, Shanghai Daily reported.
The costumed Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl continue to protect the city while knocking the crap out of the bad guys in this follow-up to the 2010 pseudo-superhero flick. This year’s model sees our heroes inspiring a number of copycat do-gooders, including the masked Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey). But the newbies are hunted down by a young man with an unprintable name who wants to be the world’s first real supervillain and puts together an army to help him. Kick-Ass 2 returns Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz and Christopher Mintz-Plasse but not director Matthew Vaughn. Jeff Wadlow takes over the chair for the Universal sequel. Here’s the trailer:
Paul Brownfield is an AwardsLine contributor.
On May 26 at 12:01 a.m., 15 new episodes of Arrested Development went live on Netflix; by 5 a.m., the series’ legions of fans probably had exhausted the new supply. The comedy’s cancellation of Arrested by Fox in 2006, after two seasons, prompted an afterlife of rumors and almost-announcements, as series creator Mitch Hurwitz worked on a feature script of his cult series. Like the fans, Hurwitz didn’t want to let go of his extended band of crazies, the Bluths, either. And then Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, suggested resurrecting the show to Imagine Entertainment’s Ron Howard. “And Ron said, ‘That’s a very nice thought, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen,’” Hurwitz says. Except it did happen.
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AwardsLine: How different was the process in working with Netflix?
Mitch Hurwitz: I wasn’t turning scripts in, because of the nature of the thing. We weren’t shooting one a week. We’d shoot pieces of eight different episodes in any given week. We were shooting 12, 14 pages a day, shooting like crazy. We screened it at the premiere — it was the first time an audience had seen it, but it was also the first time I’d seen two (episodes) in a row. I’d just been making them and putting them in the pipeline. And I guess that’s the case usually with television. The difference with this one, though, is that it’s all coming out on the same day. And it will be viewed by some as an eight-hour movie.
EXCLUSIVE: Annet McCroskey of Artistic Endeavors has been elected President of the Talent Managers Association, the non-profit organization created in 1954 to promote the talent management biz. Three months ago Phil Brock of Studio Talent Group stepped down from the post after serving for two years. Then-Board of Directors VP McCroskey filled in back in March when Brock suddenly vacated the position. She’ll now become the organization’s first female president in 20 years. Longtime Harrison Ford manager Pat McQueeney was elected to the post in 1980 and Christina Applegate’s manager Tami Lynn served in 1993. “Many of us were moved by Laura Linney’s acceptance speech this week at the WIF Crystal + Lucy Awards about women in entertainment and how much more progress we have to make as an industry,” said McCroskey. “As an organization we strive to be equally inclusive of all of our members and mentor other managers to adhere to our strict code of ethics.” McCroskey’s priorities include the annual industry Heller Awards planned for September 19, 2013.
2ND UPDATE: Charlie Sheen Fired Selma Blair From ‘Anger Management’ Via Text, Show To Continue Production As Scheduled
2ND UPDATE 6:10 PM: I’ve learned more details about Selma Blair‘s shocking dismissal from Anger Management. I hear Charlie Sheen “fired” her via text, in which he called the actress a “c–t”. And it was not the only abusive, expletives-filled text she had received from Sheen, who also serves as an executive producer on Anger Management. I also hear that Blair was not the only member of the show’s cast and crew that was frustrated by Sheen’s work habits as I hear they would often sit and wait for hours for him to show up for work. Although it was Blair voicing her concerns that got Sheen to flip out and get her sacked. I hear Blair’s role as Charlie’s therapist will not be recast. Probably not coincidentally, I hear the series just sent out a notice about a new female regular who is expected to fill the void left by Blair. The producers likely will use Blair’s exit for another creative makeover following the recent tweaking following Anger Management‘s sagging ratings. But, while the show took an unplanned hiatus for the recent creative retool, it is now expected to stay in production as scheduled, with the writers making changes prompted by Blair’s departure on the fly. Anger Management is roughly halfway through its 100-episode order from FX. As for Blair, word is that she is being paid per her contract and no legal action is in the cards, at least not for now.
UPDATE TUESDAY 5:15 PM: What Charlie Sheen wants, he gets. After mounting a campaign to get his co-star on the FX comedy series Selma Blair fired over alleged comments questioning his work ethic, it’s mission accomplished for Sheen, who reportedly threatened to quit the show if Blair stayed. Anger Management producer Lionsgate just issued a statement, making Blair’s dismissal from the show official. “We are confirming that Selma Blair will not be returning to Anger Management, and we wish her the very best.”
PREVIOUS MONDAY PM: The producers of FX‘s Anger Management and reps for Selma Blair are hunkered down today trying to patch things up following a scathing TMZ report posted in the middle of the night that series star and executive producer Charlie Sheen was dead set on firing his co-star over alleged complaints about Sheen she had made to other Anger Management producers. There is no official word on Blair’s status on the show with everyone involved keeping mum, but in a recent tweet posted on the show’s first day back from a monthlong hiatus for creative tweaking in light of the recent ratings slump, Blair was more than complimentary of Sheen: “Thanks for a great day back ” . You looked pretty darn handsome.
Time Warner Cable raised a lot of eyebrows when it paid $3B for TV rights to the LA Lakers for the next 20 years and then a record $8B for LA Dodgers rights for the next 25 years. When the Dodgers deal launches in 2014, the cable company will have four new networks for all that content. But the plan to partially pay for those new channels via boosting TWC customers’ fees — even from Southern California users who don’t want the channels and have no way to opt out of the bundles — apparently is not sitting well. Some of those customers filed a class action suit in LA Superior Court today targeting TWC, the Lakers and the Dodgers for restitution and injunctive relief for violating California Business & Professions Code 172000. The complaint (read it here) says unless restrained by the court, TWC will “pass these costs along to its total Southern California subscriber base, resulting, directly or indirectly, in additional fees passed onto subscribers beginning with the 2014 season of approximately $4-$5 per month per subscriber … which together add (or will if unrestrained) $100 per year to the subscriber’s TWC bill”.