Just like last year, the last Sunday of the broadcast season saw a schedule full of specials and finales. Unlike 2012, the specials and the finales split the difference for the top spots. With wins by Taylor Swift and Madonna, boos from the audience directed at Justin Bieber and a closing performance from Prince, the 2013 Billboard Awards (3.6/10) was up big from last year. On ABC for the third year in a row, the live three-hour Tracy Morgan-hosted ceremony surged up from its 2012 broadcast. The highest rated show of the night. The Billboard Awards was up 33% among adults 18-49 and up 28% in total viewers to 9.47 million watching. ABC aired the season finale of America’s Funniest Home Videos (1.8/6) before the Billboard Awards. The most watched show of the night with 9.84 million viewers, the original found footage show was up 29% from its May 12 show and up 20% from last year’s finale on May 20, 2012. With 8.863 million watching, ABC won the night among viewers and adults 18-49.
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HOLLYWOOD, CA (May 20, 2013) – Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures jointly announced today that Chinese actress Li Bingbing (“RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION”) has been cast in the eagerly awaited “TRANSFORMERS 4.” The actress joins Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Jack Reynor, Nicola Peltz and Sophia Myles in the fourth installment in the hit series of movies based on the best-selling Hasbro toyline. Paramount Pictures will release the film on June 27th, 2014. “I am excited to have Li Bingbing join our cast and to be shooting portions of the movie in her native China. I have always aspired to work with the best actors and this cast is especially exciting now with the addition of Li,” said Michael Bay.
EXCLUSIVE: Silver Reel and Lotus Entertainment have partnered with di Bonaventura Pictures and CJ Entertainment for an English-language remake of Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance. The script is written by Broken City scribe Brian Tucker, based on the first film in Park Chan-wook‘s Vengeance Trilogy. The film centers on two men who are bound by their common sense of loss and headed on a collision course of revenge. The other installments in that trilogy are Oldboy and Lady Vengeance. A remake of Oldboy will be released in October by FilmDistrict, directed by Spike Lee and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Josh Brolin and Sharlto Copley.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian are producing and Claudia Bluemhuber, Bill Johnson, Jim Seibel, Jacob Pechenik and Gero Bauknecht are executive producers. D.J. Gugenheim is co-producer and will oversee for the financiers while Ed Fee does the same for di Bonaventura Pictures. CJ’s Miky Lee and Joon Choi are executive producing, with Jiwon Park producing and Min Young Hong co-producing. This is the first acquisition in Silver Reel and Lotus’ newly formed partnership, one that is focused on developing and acquiring commercial and high-caliber projects. They are now looking for a director. Repping di Bonaventura, CAA brokered the deal and will represent the film’s domestic distribution rights. WME reps Tucker.
EXCLUSIVE: Wall Street and W scribe Stanley Weiser has optioned the Jamie Mason novel Three Graves Full, and he plans to write the script himself. The book, published by Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books, follows a mild-mannered guy who happens to kill somebody he wishes he’d never met, and buries the body in his backyard. Just as he’s learning to live with the undeniable reality of what he’s done, police unearth two bodies on his property – neither of which the hapless killer buried. His sanity threatens to unravel, snagged on the agendas of a colorful cast of characters. Weiser, represented by Dan Halsted at Manage-ment, optioned the book through Mason’s reps AMB Literary Management’s Amy Moore-Benson and Liza Wachter at RWSG.
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer danced on a tightrope this morning as she tried to explain the logic behind her company’s $1.1B agreement to buy social network site Tumblr. She told analysts in a conference call that the companies will work together, but separately. They appeal to different audiences, but she says they can complement each other. And since Yahoo is “all about brands” and advertising, it can gin up sales on Tumblr even though it has a history of being ad averse — and tolerant of porn. “We need to have good tools for targeting” ad messages, Mayer says. While it’s important for Tumblr to be “true to their voice,” the companies can “monetize [it] in a way that’s tasteful” while showing advertisers “the benefits of [Tumblr's young] demographics and the huge volume of users and traffic.” Tumblr’s 26-year-old founder and CEO David Karp — who Mayer called “one of the most inspiring entrepreneurs I’ve ever met” — underscored the cultural differences in a blog post this morning. Promising that “We’re not turning purple,” he ended his brief news announcement saying “fuck yeah.” Mayer vowed to “let Tumblr be Tumblr” operating “under the Tumblr brand and David’s vision” from its base in New York. Yahoo will help with the infrastructure, but won’t put its brand on Tumblr’s site. The connection “will be largely invisible to users.” She says it shouldn’t be hard to gin up ad sales at the social network, which just began to accept them a year ago. “Of the top 10 Hollywood studios, all use Tumblr to promote movies,” she says. “Tumblr views itself as a home for brands.” For example, Yahoo could “work with [Tumblr] bloggers who want ads.” She acknowledges that the businesses have different psychographics — Yahoo audiences are older than those at Tumblr where the average user is 25. “I would expect any ad units that we create [there] would be native and follow the form and function” of the site, Mayer says.
A representative of China Film Group today called Keanu Reeves’ upcoming Man Of Tai Chi “the most important co-production” for the company this year. Reeves makes his directorial debut with the kung-fu film that is a co-production from CFG, Wanda Media, Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Universal Pictures. At a gathering to introduce clips from the film, Reeves said he shot for more than 105 days in Beijing and Hong Kong, where the crew was at one point locked on a set because of a severe typhoon. He chose this movie to make his helming debut because it was “the story I felt I could tell and wanted to tell and didn’t want anybody else to tell.”
Man Of Tai Chi focuses on a young, innocent martial artist who struggles to maintain his values amid the pressures of contemporary society. Tiger Chen plays the man who is lured into the underground boxing world where Reeves plays the man out to manipulate him. Reeves and Chen worked together on the Matrix movies where Chen taught Reeves about “wires and kicks and punches.” The pair became friends and over five years developed the story. Reeves says it was just about “four or five years ago that I started to think about directing. But I always said I would only direct if I had a story to tell.”
Giving himself an extra challenge, the story is told in Mandarin, Cantonese and English. Reeves says, “I had to listen. The process was very collaborative. I had great support in terms of translators, casting or working on a scene… As an actor, you’re part of telling a story and as a director you’re responsible for it, but you can’t do it yourself so the collaboration was the gift.”
Los Angeles, CA, Monday May 20, 2013 – Martin Scorsese will present Mel Brooks with the American Film Institute’s 41st Life Achievement Award – America’s highest honor for a career in film. The private black tie gala will be held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on June 6 and will air on TNT Saturday, June 15, at 9 p.m. ET/PT and as part of an all-night tribute to Brooks on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) Sunday, July 24, at 8 p.m. ET. Brooks will be recognized for his range of mastery as a director, producer, writer, actor and composer.
NEW YORK — May 20, 2013 — Deborah Turness, former editor of ITV News, the United Kingdom’s most-watched commercial network news service, has been named President of NBC News. It was announced today by Pat Fili-Krushel, Chairman, NBCUniversal News Group.
Turness joins CNBC President Mark Hoffman and MSNBC President Phil Griffin as part of the NBCUniversal News Group leadership team reporting to Fili-Krushel. She will be based at the NBC News headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and begin her new role on August 5.
As President, Turness will be responsible for all aspects of the NBC News division including the programs “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams,” “Today,” “Meet the Press,” and “Dateline” as well as its news bureaus around the world. She will also oversee all breaking news, investigative and enterprise reporting, along with the division’s digital properties including NBCNews.com. Additionally, she will have oversight of Peacock Productions, an award-winning in-house production company.
With Lucasfilm firmly ensconced in Disney land, production has begun the next animated Star Wars TV series. Two months after The Clone Wars was forced to surrender following a five-year run on Cartoon Network, Star Wars Rebels is massing its forces for a fall 2014 attack. It will premiere as an hourlong special before the series kicks off on Disney XD outlets worldwide. Produced by Lucasfilm Animation, the action series is set during the nearly two-decade span between Episode III and IV of the Star Wars films — a time frame never chronicled onscreen. The Empire is fortifying its hold on the galaxy and hunting down the last of the Jedi Knights as a fledgling rebellion is taking shape, but plot details are in the vault (though check out a behind-the-scenes chat with executive producer Dave Filoni below).
Longtime independent film marketing executive Liz Manne was appointed executive director of FilmAid International in 2011. She’s now transitioning out of the job to the board of directors as a vice chair. Co-founder of the MTV Exit Foundation Simon Goff will replace Manne. FilmAid, founded by producer Caroline Baron during the Balkan crisis of 1999, uses film to educate and bring hope to refugees and communities in need around the world. Manne said today, “I remain deeply committed to FilmAid’s mission, and am honored the board has invited me to join its ranks and continue with the organization in a meaningful and strategic, if no longer day-to-day role.”
An esteemed party, led by Costa Gavras, Michel Hazanavicius and The Weinstein Company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, crashed a parlay at the Palais on “Strengthening The Cultural Exception In Tomorrow’s Europe”, where MPAA head Chris Dodd was among the policy-maker panelists today. Weinstein spoke on an issue that currently has European filmmakers fighting to preserve the autonomy of their individual film industries. The U.S. and the European Union will enter trade talks later this year which could result in the removal of trade barriers between the world’s two biggest economies. But included in the draft negotiation mandate for the talks are the audiovisual and film industries. Filmmakers want the arts excluded. Hazanavicius said, “Our fear is if they kill our regulatory system, it will crush us.”
Weinstein recalled that when preserving the cultural imperative wasn’t as important in Italy, filmmakers there began turning out clones of American movies, which they felt they needed to do to compete. “We never bought any of those films,” Weinstein said. Costa Gavras and Hazanavicius also showed their support and then the whole crashing party was gone.
Earlier, as they made their way to the Palais, the filmmakers explained the stakes to Deadline. Costa Gavras said, “The big risk is having the same movies in all of these places. That is our concern.” Culture and the production of culture shouldn’t be treated “like any industry, like cars. This is different.” Each state should “have the possibility to decide how to deal with its cinema and its art.”
Filmmakers believe the European Commission’s inclusion of the audiovisual and film industries in the proposed trade talks flies in the face of the Cultural Exception. That concept has its roots in 1993 when Hollywood tried to make the arts a part of the GATT negotiations. Europe, led by France, balked at what they saw as a threat to their subsidy systems, putting them in danger of total Hollywood hegemony. Europe prevailed. But tensions are running high once again. The past month has seen a petition circulated entitled “The Cultural Exception Is Non-Negotiable!” which now has 5,000 signatories including Costa Gavras and Hazanavicius, and a lot of non-European directors, too (Walter Salles, Jane Campion, David Lynch…).
Per the agreement and our promise not to screw it up, Tumblr will be independently operated as a separate business. David Karp will remain CEO. The product, service and brand will continue to be defined and developed separately with the same Tumblr irreverence, wit, and commitment to empower creators.
The sun finally came back to a windy and rainy Cannes but the weather clearly couldn’t slow the nonstop parties, premieres, deals and hype for which this festival is famous. And despite the rain on Saturday the turnout for Lionsgate’s big Catching Fire bash was wall-to-wall at Baoli Beach, with everyone including star Jennifer Lawrence crowded into the large tent. One exec there actually was happy with the monsoon-like conditions. “The rain probably kept 30% of our RSVPs away which is probably good because i don’t know how we could have squeezed them in,” he said.
With everyone drying out Sunday there seemed to be even more party-hopping than usual. At the crowded Participant Films party at the Carlton, Focus Features CEO James Schamus was accepting congratulations on his re-upping at the company. I have rarely heard him wax more eloquently about a film than Focus’ recent pickup of The Dallas Buyers Club, the movie where Matthew McConaughey lost about 50 pounds to play an early AIDS victim. It’s not dated yet according to Schamus but is planned for fall sometime. “It’s just a bloodbath trying to pick the right date in that period but this movie is extraordinary. I just so admire what Matthew has been doing with his career in the last couple of years between Magic Mike, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Mud and now this. You know me, I don’t rave like this a lot, but he really knocks this one out of the park. It is the performance of a lifetime,” he says of the actor in a film that is sure to be a main focus of Focus’ awards-season plans.
Cannes Briefs: Magnolia Boards ‘Bone Tomahawk’, Mongrel Buys ‘Blue’ Competition Film; ‘Badges Of Fury’ Sales; Stealth Indie Adds Pics; More
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Magnolia Pictures has boarded Bone Tomahawk, the violent horror Western from S. Craig Zahler starring Kurt Russell, Peter Sarsgaard, Jennifer Carpenter and Timothy Olyphant. Magnolia parent 2929 Entertainment has come on board to fully finance the project, which begins shooting in August in Utah and which the uConnect-Celluloid Dreams combo has been selling at Cannes. Constantin has snapped up rights for German-speaking Europe and the film has presold in France (Wildside), Australia (Transmission), Russia (Luxor) and Thailand (IPA Asia). The uConnect/Celluloid partnership’s Cannes slate includes Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Best Offer and Katrin Gebbe’s Nothing Bad Can Happen which is playing in the Un Certain Regard section. Another uConnect/Celluloid title is the Takashi Miike competition pic Shield Of Straw. The companies said they have acquired Miike’s next pic, taking international rights to his contemporary take on Japan’s most famous and chilling ghost story Yotsuya Kaiden.
Mongrel Media has been on a shopping spree during Cannes, acquiring all Canadian rights on competition titles Inside Llewyn Davis and Paolo Sorrentino’s La Grande Bellezza. Its latest pickup is competition entry Blue Is The Warmest Color from director Abdellatif Kechiche. The movie premieres here Thursday. Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos star in the lesbian coming-of-age story. Mongrel is planning a 2014 release.
CANNES, France: Exclusive Media, the global film production, sales and distribution company has signed a rolling 4 picture equity deal (up to 12 pictures) with UK-based entrepreneur and technology guru Toby Moores and film industry veteran Wendy Rutland.
The investment by Moores will see him take an equity position in some of Exclusive Media’s upcoming slate of films. The structure is designed as the foundation of a long term partnership, and it is the goal of the partners to expand the relationship beyond the initial transaction.
Former Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland and Mexican singer-actress Paulina Rubio are in negotiations to join Fox‘s The X Factor alongside Simon Cowell and Demi Lovato. They’d be filling the judges’ seats vacated by LA Reid and Britney Spears. Both have previous experience: Rowland served as a judge on the award-winning eighth season of the UK version in 2011, while Rubio was a coach on the second season of La Voz… México. In March, she also signed on as a coach on Telemundo’s children’s singing competition show La Voz Kids, airing this spring. X Factor US is set to film auditions in Charleston, SC, this Tuesday and Wednesday. That leaves little time for the ink to dry ahead of an official announcement from the network, which Cowell tweeted will be revealed Monday. X Factor‘s third season will debut this fall.
The new Friday night show titled Charlie Rose Weekend will bring the 71-year-old host to primetime on PBS, where he’s hosted his syndicated late-night Charlie Rose program since 1993. The half-hour show will air Fridays at 8:30 PM starting in July, reports the New York Times. It will combine highlights from his late-night show with new interviews and discussions of topics in politics, science, business, culture, media and sports and will replace the network’s Need To Know newsmagazine. Meanwhile Rose still co-anchors CBS’ morning news show CBS This Morning.
Documentarian William Miles, whose films include 1981′s I Remember Harlem and 1992′s Liberators: Fighting on Two Fronts in World War II, died May 12 in New York, reports the NY Times. He was 82. In 1977 the Harlem native made his first documentary Men Of Bronze, about the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment sent to fight alongside the French in WWI, after himself serving in the National Guard. Liberators, co-directed with Nina Rosenblum, recounted the story of black soldiers who helped to liberate Nazi concentration camps and was nominated for an Oscar. He earned a CableACE nomination for 1993′s The Untold West and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers.
EXCLUSIVE: Ahead of its shooting start next month, Sean Penn-starrer The Gunman has virtually sold out for Studiocanal here in Cannes. This is the project from producers Joel Silver and Andrew Rona that Studiocanal is fully financing. Taken helmer Pierre Morel is directing the action film, which previously went by the title Prone Gunman. Silver and Rona are also in business with Studiocanal on the upcoming Jaume Collet-Serra-directed Non-Stop, which Universal is releasing Stateside. Footage from that film was screened for buyers in Cannes, which Studiocanal says helped fuel sales on The Gunman. Morel was also in town to enthuse buyers. The movie sees Penn as an ex-government contract killer whose past comes back to haunt him. Studiocanal closed deals this week in such territories as Scandinavia, Switzerland, China, Russia, Latin America, Benelux, Poland, the Middle East, Greece and Italy, where Rai acquired the pic in what is a rare direct buy for the company. Studiocanal is releasing in France, Germany, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. U.S. studios and indies are circling. I’m told the film is not part of Silver’s deal with Universal.