2ND UPDATE 6:10 PM: I’ve learned more details about the 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.” 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. Though 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 will likely use Blair’s exit for another creative makeover following the recent tweaking following Anger Management‘s soft ratings return. 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. As for Blair, word is that she is being payed per her contract and no legal action is in the cards, at least not for now.
UPDATETUESDAY 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 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‘sAnger 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 @charliesheen. You looked pretty darn handsome.” READ MORE »
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”. Read More »
Fox had some business advice for Tobin Smith today: Find work elsewhere. The investment manager and author who has been a familiar face on Fox News confirmed his sacking to the Wall Street Journal, which reported earlier in the day that Smith was in hot water over “sponsored investment research.” His NBT Group collects checks to tout the stocks of small companies via such paid research, which the businesses count on to boost their share price and volume. And last week, Smith – a regular panelist on Fox News’ Bulls & Bears – sent out an email and ad flier via his new Next Big Thing newsletter touting Petrosonic Energy. The campaign came with a disclaimer saying it was paid advertising, for which NBT Group banked $50,000, and he did not mention Petrosonic on the air at Fox News. But some investors who bought into the company based on Smith’s recommendation contacted WSJ‘s Market Watch blog, apparently not having read the disclaimer. Market Watch alerted its News Corp sibling Fox News and was told that was the first it had heard of the matter. The network has a rule that “no Contributor to FBN, nor his/her firm, and/or family members are allowed to accept financial consideration of any kind whatsoever to issue research, advertisements, or to otherwise promote individual stocks or securities.” The blog quoted a network spokesman as saying the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jonah Hill has taken on management. He has signed with LBI Entertainment, where he will be repped by a team headed by Ian Montone and Rick Yorn. They will rep him in all areas, along with WME and attorney Karl Austen. Hill continues to surprise as he evolves from the fro-headed kid in Superbad to a lead in ribald stoner comedies like This Is The End, to serious roles like his Oscar nominated turn in Moneyball, and the upcoming Martin Scorsese-directed The Wolf Of Wall Street. In the Rupert Gould-directed Plan B-produced True Story, Hill next plays disgraced New York Times reporter Michael Finkel, who was sacked just as a suspected killer on the FBI’s Most Wanted List who was using his name got caught, and would only talk to the journo at a time his life was crashing down around him. James Franco plays the killer.
Hill also has a 21 Jump Street sequel after getting story credit on the original hit he starred in with Channing Tatum. And let’s not forget his other pivotal recent screen credit, Bag Head #2, in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained.
EXCLUSIVE: NY-based BCDF Pictures has acquired spec script Cops And Robots from writer Matteson Perry, about an odd couple police duo – one a veteran cop, the other the world’s first android officer – who must learn to work together to avoid being replaced by newer models. the action comedy project could mark a slight departure for BCDF Pictures, which I hear is starting to eye bigger and more studio-friendly films. Run out of a 35-acre converted horse farm in upstate NY, BCDF previously produced Vera Farmiga’s Higher Ground, Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts, and last year’s VOD hit Bachelorette. (Caliber Media reps both Perry and Bachelorette writer-director Leslye Headland.) Perry, a stand up comedian who also hosts LA’s Moth StorySlam, has had a great start to the summer: Last month Myriad Pictures and Depth of Field signed Seann William Scott to star in Guidance, Perry’s first sold script, about a high school counselor who starts lying to help a wayward teen.
All this is going down as we speak, and now the scheduling will begin for a movie that will find its way into production very quickly, with Conundrum’s Bradley Thomas and The Farrellys producing with Charlie Wessler. The film will be PG-13 like the original, and once again it puts Lloyd (Carrey) and Harry (Daniels) back on a road trip. The urgency has to do with scheduling: Daniels needs to do it soon before returning for his Aaron Sorkin HBO series The Newsroom. Carrey also has that bank heist comedy at Relativity with Jared Hess directing and Owen Wilson co-starring. For physical comedy fans, this is a real win. The package was put together by CAA and WME, and attorney Cindy Gesner Farrelly repped the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek, John Krasinski, Frank Langella, Alfred Molina and Quvenzhané Wallis have all joined the voice cast of Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, the animated feature film written and directed by Roger Allers, whose animation credits include directing Disney’s The Lion King and Open Season and whose writing and storyboard work encompasses such films as Aladdin, Beauty And The Beast, and The Little Mermaid. The film is being produced by Hayek, Clark Peterson, and Ron Senkowski. Participant Media and Doha Film Institute are financing and are exec producers.
Allers’ script was inspired by The Prophet, the iconic book that is one of the biggest sellers in history, north of 100 million copies in over 40 languages since it was first published by Alfred Knopf in 1923. Allers is directing the narrative story, while individual chapters based on Gibran’s poems are being helmed by animation directors from around the world, including Tomm Moore (The Secret Of Kells), Joan Gratz (Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase), Bill Plympton (Guard Dog And Your Face), Nina Paley (Sita Sings The Blues), Joann Sfar (The Rabbi’s Cat), Paul and Gaetan Brizzi (Fantasia 2000), Michal Socha (Chick) and Mohammed Harib (Freej).
The Prophet is on track for completion in spring of 2014.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Oxygen has quietly given the green light toSecret Celebrity, a reality series produced by T Group Prods, which Wendy Williams executive produces as part of her first-look deal with the cable network. Per Oxygen’s description when the project was announced in February as being in development, Secret Celebrity features stars in disguise as they surprise unsuspecting fans, friends and family. I hear celebrities who already have filmed episodes of the show include Nick Lachey, Ice-T & Coco and LuAnn de Lesseps, who just signed on to return to The Real Housewives Of New York on sibling Bravo. T Group’s Jenny Daly executive produces with Williams and Gunnar Wetterberg.
In the latest upheaval at NBC‘s ratings-challenged Today show, longtime director Joe Michaels has been named senior director of the show, the network said today. No word from NBC on what his specific responsibilities will be, but a source with knowledge of the situation says he will manage large initiatives and projects on the technical/directorial side, such as Today’s coverage of the Winter Olympics next February. There’s no word on who would be replacing Michaels as director of the morning news show. Today‘s ratings have been slipping for years but the program managed to keep its No. 1 slot until Ann Curry’s ouster last June. Since then, ABC’s Good Morning America has taken over the top spot. Last month GMA continued its dominance over Today by beating the NBC show by 1.6 million viewers. That’s the largest single-day total viewership spread GMA has had in fast affiliate results over the NBC show since May 18, 1994.
EXCLUSIVE: Sensing it has a movie that can create heat during Oscar season, Relativity is moving the Scott Cooper-directed revenge thriller Out Of The Furnace from October 4 to a limited release on November 27, expanding that run beginning December 6th. The film stars Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard and Willem Dafoe. Crazy Heart helmer Cooper wrote the script with Brad Ingelsby. Bale plays a simple man in a blue collar job at the local steel mill, who cares for his terminally ill father at night. His brother (Affleck) returns from Iraq and falls in with a ruthless crime ring. When he disappears, that simple man takes matters into his own hands, and sets out to seek justice for his sibling. Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Killoran produced with Scott Free’s Ridley Scott, with Michael Costigan also producing with Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh. This has been a hot project since Ingelsby first sold the spec in a big money deal that came with DiCaprio attached to star and Scott to direct. The elements have shifted, but the Cormac McCarthy-style stark and simple revenge tale element has remained intact.
Relativity production president Robbie Brenner said that Cooper “has made a powerful, moving and brilliant film that we think will generate a tremendous amount of conversation and attention during this awards season. We are confident that this new date will give Scott’s … Read More »
“In 2014, the world’s greatest heroes will join forces for the biggest movie ever.” A serious boast? Not if you’re the blockheads (and bodies) that are Lego folks. The first trailer is out for The Lego Movie — written and directed by the Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs/21 Jump Street duo of Phil Lord & Christopher Miller — and there’s no shortage of big-name licensees to be seen including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, even the 2002 NBA All-Stars, featuring Shaquille O’Neal in a period-correct No. 34 Lakers jersey. You might have heard of some of the folks in the voice cast of the Warner Bros-Village Roadshow toon: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman:
Alcon Entertainment‘s Dolphin Tale grossed $95.4M worldwide when it was released in September 2011, and now the producer-financier is close to diving in for a sequel. Charles Martin Smith, who directed the first pic, is set to helm Dolphin Tale 2 from his own script, and the original cast that included Harry Connick Jr, Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman and Kris Kristofferson are in negotiations to return. Warner Bros, which has an output deal with Alcon, today set a September 19, 2014 release for the movie. The original film centered on the true-story friendship between a boy and a dolphin (Winter played himself) whose tail was lost in a crab trap. The plot for the second movie will also revolve a true story inspired by Winter, but also involves a baby dolphin named Hope who was rescued by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in 2010. Smith is repped by APA.
Variety Media last month in New York added the trade publication’s former owners Reed Elsevier and Reed Business Information to its kickbacks and fraud case against branding company Beverly Hills Media Group, seeking $10M in damages in New York state Supreme Court for breach of contract and declaratory relief. Today, Reed has countersued, claiming it’s owed $1.3M more on the purchase price after Penske Media Corp acquired Variety in October 2012. PMC is Deadline’s parent company.
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off the opening of the Superman reboot Man Of Steel in which he plays Jor-El, Russell Crowe has firmed his long-held plans to make his feature directorial debut. He is in talks to helm and star in The Water Diviner, a film scripted by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios that will shoot in Australia and Turkey later this year. It is set in 1919, and an Australian father travels to Turkey to find his two sons, who are missing after the battle of Gallipoli. The film will be produced by Troy Lum and Andrew Mason for Hopscotch Features and by Keith Rodger for Fear Of God Films.
Over the years, Crowe has considered several films for his directing debut, and they have all been Australian stories that have included The Long Green Shore and Bra Boys. He has been on quite a roll. After Les Miserables, he will star in the title role of the Darren Aronofsky-directed Biblical epic Noah. It seems like the right time for Crowe to get behind the camera. He is repped by WME.
Disney Channel has picked up to series comedy pilot I Didn’t Do It starring Olivia Holt (Disney XD’s Kickin’ It, Disney Channel’s Girl Vs. Monster) and newcomer Austin North (Kickin’ It). Created by Tod Himmel (90210) and Josh Silverstein (So Random!), I Didn’t Do It centers on ultra-competitive fraternal twins Lindy and Logan Watson (Holt, North), who, together with their best friends (Piper Curda, Sarah Gilman, Peyton Clark), navigate their freshman year of high school. Each episode begins with a comedic “what just happened?” situation as Lindy and Logan each spin their own accounts in the form of flashbacks. Production will begin this summer in Los Angeles for a scheduled early 2014 premiere. Himmel and Judd Pillot executive produce, with Silverstein serving as supervising producer. The pickup comes on the heels of Disney Channel’s series order earlier this week to Boy Meets World sequel Girl Meets World.
Well, looks like New Dayhas one bright spot in the morning for CNN. The jewel in Jeff Zucker’s rebranded network crown debuted yesterday down 7% in viewers but up 19% in the adults 25-54 demo compared with the same time slot a week ago. The new 6-9 AM morning show pulled in 247,000 total viewers Monday, with 95,000 in the key demo. However, the Chris Cuomo- and Kate Bolduan-hosted show with Michaela Pereira as news anchor still found itself No. 3 in viewers among the cable news morning shows, and No. 4 in the demo — even behind sister network HLN. And New Day’s numbers are down 19% among total viewers and 22% in the demo year to date. The show was up 15% in viewers but down 18% in the demo compared to CNN’s morning show offering on June 18, 2012. With the newly rehired Sarah Palin sitting in as a guest anchor, longtime leader Fox & Friends garnered 1.06 million viewers with 262,000 in the 25-54 demo on Monday, while MSNBC’s Morning Joe had 355,000 viewers with 132,000 in the demo. HLN’s Morning Express had 215,000 viewers and 121,000 in the key 25-54 demo.
EXCLUSIVE: Liv Tyler is set to co-star opposite Justin Theroux in Damon Lindelof’s HBO drama pilotThe Leftovers, directed by Peter Berg. Co-written by Lindelof and Tom Perrotta based on Perrotta’s book, the project takes place after the Rapture happens but not quite like it’s supposed to. It is the story of the people who didn’t make the cut… and a world that will never be the same. Tyler, repped by UTA and Untitled, will play Meg, a young woman on the verge of getting married, but needing an escape. As a result, she becomes a target for recruitment by members of an enigmatic cult. This marks the first TV gig for feature actress Tyler, whose film credits include the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and The Incredible Hulk. She recently wrapped indies Space Station 76 and Jamie Marks Is Dead and wrote an etiquette book with her grandmother, which will be published by Random House this fall.
The company told analysts this afternoon that it will produce 1,200 TV episodes over the next five years, which CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg says “will give us a significant footprint across the global TV landscape.” DreamWorks Animation is “now on a path to becoming one of the biggest producers and distributors” of television following yesterday’s agreement to create 300 hours of programming for Netflix and today’s deal to make up to 1,100 half-hours for Germany’s Super RTL, which he calls “transformative.” All told, “it’s a big opportunity and a big undertaking.” Katzenberg adds that the company should see $100M in revenues from TV this year, about half of which will come from titles in the Classic Media library bought last year. Beginning 2015 the company expects to see at least $200M in TV revenue per year with gross profits of around 30%, close to what it sees from its films. Revenue from the Netflix and Super RTL deals won’t vary depending on the performance of different titles. The numbers don’t include benefits from sales of licensed merchandise, the library value of shows, or progress from its recently acquired online video service AwesomenessTV. The company isn’t ready yet to create a separate business line for television, but will consider the change. DWA shares are up about 1.8% in after market trading.
NBC has ordered hourlong holiday musical special How Murray Saved Christmas from The Simpsons‘ writer/producer Mike Reiss. It’s scheduled to air in December 2014. Based on Reiss’ best-selling children’s book of the same name, the story centers on cranky deli owner Murray Kleiner, who is forced to fill in for Santa one Christmas and does a weirdly wonderful job. Walter Murphy (Ted, Family Guy) will compose the music of the special, produced by Universal TV. Rough Draft Animation will serve as the animation studio. Reiss has worked on The Simpsons since the show’s inception, at one point serving as exec producer/co-showrunner. His feature credits include The Simpsons Movie and Ice Age: Dawn Of The Dinosaur.