Millennium Sets Andy Fickman For ‘My Owner’s Wedding’

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 4:19pm PDT
Mike Fleming

fickmanandyEXCLUSIVE: Andy Fickman has been set by Millennium Films to direct My Owner’s Wedding, a romantic comedy about two eligible young women, the guy they both want, and his dog. The latter will go to any length to make sure his owner winds up with the right girl. Fickman is coming off Parental Guidance and helmed the hits Race To Witch Mountain and The Game Plan. He is also exec producer and is directing the Disney Channel’s series Liv And Maddie and is producing and directing the Off-Broadway production Heathers The Musical, based on the cult teen movie. Fickman is directing Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, with Kevin James reprising for Sony, and Fickman’s producing the self-explanatory Scouts Vs. Zombies for Paramount.

My Owner’s Wedding was scripted by Robert Cary (Anything But Love) and Jonathan Tolins, whose Buyer And Cellar is playing off-Broadway. The film is produced by Cary, Tolins and Mark Gill, with Avi Lerner, Trevor Short, Boaz Davidson, John Thompson and Alan Gasmer serving as executive producers. Fickman is repped by WME, Management 360 and Hansen, Jacobson.

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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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Supreme Court Watchers Examine Justices’ Comments For Insights Into What They’ll Do With Aereo

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 2:45pm PDT

Aereo-badge__140414141457__140417214420This is a risky exercise. Jurists often like to play devil’s advocate when they question lawyers in open court. But the comments that Supreme Court justices made today in the hearing pitting Aereo against broadcasters likely will provide the only clues about what investors and others should expect ahead of a ruling expected in June. Guggenheim analyst Paul Gallant says he senses that “a majority of Justices would shut down Aereo if there were no potential implications on cloud storage.” But if that’s an open question, then “our guess is that the Court will find some way to thread the needle and say that Aereo is inconsistent with the 1976 Copyright Act, or send the case back to the lower courts with some negative (but not conclusive) commentary toward Aereo.”

Related: Aereo Case Reactions: Did CBS Shares Fall In Response To Supreme Court’s Questions?

The basic debate: Aereo says it’s merely a technology provider that enables subscribers to privately exercise their right to view signals from the free, public airwaves. Broadcasters counter that Aereo steals their content by packaging and reselling programming to the public without paying.

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

NY Supreme CourtHere are a few of the more interesting comments from the jurists as they prodded lawyers about the key arguments:

Justice Sonia Sotomayor: Why aren’t they [Aereo] cable companies?… I’m looking at the – everybody’s been arguing this case as if for sure they’re not. But I look at the definition of a cable company, and it seems to fit. …

Justice Elena Kagan: If Aereo has the hardware in its warehouse as opposed to Aereo selling the hardware to the particular end user, that is going to make all the difference in the world as to whether we have a public performance or not a public performance.

Chief Justice John Roberts: You can park your car in your own garage or you can park it in a public garage. You can go to RadioShack and buy an antenna and a DVR or you can rent those facilities somewhere else from Aereo. They’ve – they’ve got an antenna. They’ll let you use it when you need it and they can, you know, record the stuff as well and let you pick it up when you need it.

Related: Chief Justice Slams Aereo At Supreme Court Hearing

Read More »

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Adult Swim’s ‘The Boondocks’ Big In Return

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 2:42pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

boondocksLike The Game, which set ratings records when revived by BET, another comedy series targeting black audiences came back roaring after a lengthy break from television. Last night’s Season 4 bow of the Sony Pictures TV-produced animated series The Boondocks on Adult Swim set series highs across all key demos, including adults 18-34 (1.40 million) and adults 18-49 (1.9 million), up 50% from the show’s previous season averages. It was Adult Swim’s most-watched primetime telecast among key adult demographics in at least five years. The Boondocks premiere was the No. 1 TV program in all of television last night — broadcast or cable — among Adult Swim’s target 18-34 demographic, topping NBC’s The Voice (1.36 million) and TNT’s NBA Playoffs coverage (1.16 million).

Related: Adult Swim Greenlights Live-Action Comedy Series ‘Black Jesus’

Read More »

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Starz’s Chris Albrecht Made $30.5M In 2013, +137%

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 2:25pm PDT

chris AlbrechtA huge slug of option awards propelled the Starz CEO to a compensation package that’s close to what Jeff Bewkes made at Time Warner, a much bigger company. Chris Albrecht benefited from a new contract that coincided with the premium cable channel company’s spinoff from Liberty Media in January 2013, according to the company proxy just filed at the SEC. His package: $1.3M salary, $27.9M option awards, $1.3M non equity incentives, and $16,134 in other compensation. Not much commentary in the proxy about Albrecht’s achievements, but Starz shares basically doubled in value in 2013 following the spin off. His compensation accounted for 71% of the pie for the company’s five top execs, up from 63% in 2012. Corporate governance watchdogs also would consider it way out of whack for the company. Albrecht’s pay was 9.9 times the median for his closest lieutenants, up from 6.7 times in 2012. Many governance specialists flash a warning sign about a CEO’s power when he or she makes more than three times the median for other execs.

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Jeremy Davies & Robert Knepper Join History’s ‘Texas Rising’

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 2:24pm PDT

Jeremy Davies (Justified) robertknepper1Jeremydavies1and Robert Knepper (Prison Break) have been cast in History’s miniseries Texas Rising (working title) from A+E Studios and ITV Studios America. Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys) is exec producing the project, which will detail the Texas Revolution against Mexico and the rise of the legendary Texas Rangers. Davies, repped by Paradigm, Silver Lining Entertainment and attorney Karl Austen, will play Sgt. Ephraim Knowles, a shifty rogue whose only thought is for his own survival who reluctantly joins the Rangers to avoid being executed for desertion. Knepper, repped by Innovative Artists and Kramer Management, will play Empresario Buckley, an unshaven bombastic slob. He is the only law in the town of Victoria, and he abuses his position to further his own agenda and make himself rich in the process. Read More »

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Hot Clip: TV Creators Get Their Close-Up In Docu ‘Showrunners’

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 2:22pm PDT

Wondercon 2014 - Showrunners - Photo By Jonathan ReillyEXCLUSIVE: JJ Abrams, Matthew Carnahan, Jane Espenson, Hart Hanson, Ronald D. Moore, Kurt Sutter, and Joss Whedon are just some of the powerhouse television creators who appear in new docu Showrunners, from writer/director Des Doyle. Pic is the first feature length film to explore the rising power of the TV showrunner and the behind the scenes process that goes into making a hit show. Doyle brought the WonderCon crowds a taste over the weekend, appearing alongside Steven Molaro (The Big Bang Theory), Espenson (Once Upon a Time, Husbands), Steve Callaghan (Family Guy), John Rogers (Leverage, The Librarians), Andrew Kreisberg (Arrow), Rockne S. O’Bannon (Revolution), Marc Guggenheim (Arrow), Chris Carter (The X-Files, The After), and Showrunners co-producer Ryan Patrick McGuffey to unveil a clip from the film, which you can check out exclusively on Deadline below. Read More »

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‘Morgan Spurlock Presents’ Label Hatched By Filmmaker’s Warrior Poets, Virgil Films & Abramorama

Mike Fleming

MorganSpurlockEXCLUSIVE: Morgan Spurlock‘s production company Warrior Poets has partnered with indie distributors Virgil Films and Abramorama to form the label Morgan Spurlock Presents. The plan is to acquire and release distinctive fiction and documentary features theatrically and on cable VOD. Two films are first up under the new venture and will be released this year: A Brony Tale, the docu that premieres Saturday at Tribeca and centers on the cultural phenomenon of men obsessed with Hasbro’s My Little Pony, the magical talking horse toys. It is set for a July bow. The other is Two: The Story Of Roman & Nyro, from Heather Winters, the exec producer of Spurlock’s Oscar-nominated Brony documentarybreakout docu Super-Size Me. It follows rock songwriter Desmond Child and his longtime partner Curtis Shaw Child as they raise their two sons.

Related: Tribeca Trailer: ‘A Brony Tale’

Under the model, films the companies discover that have targeted audiences but that otherwise might be overlooked will be released via the label in 20-30 theatrical markets just before cable VOD bows. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Emma Thompson & Pierce Brosnan In ‘The Love Punch’

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 1:46pm PDT

“Kidnap? Crashing a wedding? Stealing a diamond? All right, we’re in.” Well, that and Emma Thompson and Pierce Brosnan as a divorced couple who head to Paris after being screwed out of their pension by their company’s new owners. Will the City of Light charm the former spouses as they try to right the corporate wrong? Timothy Spall, Celia Imrie, Louise Bourgoin and Laurent Lafitte co-star in the pic from writer-director Joel Hopkins. Ketchup Entertainment, which acquired the comedy after its Toronto premiere last year, will open it May 23. Here’s a peek:

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CAA Signs Oscar Winner Lupita Nyong’o

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 1:21pm PDT

lupita nyongoHot off her Best Supporting Actress Oscar win, Lupita Nyong’o has signed with CAA. The 2012 Yale School of Drama grad made her feature debut in the Steve McQueen-helmed Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave playing cotton plantation slave Patsey opposite Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender. Nyong’o was a darling of Oscar season, storming red carpets and media appearances in what marked her breakthrough year during which she racked up numerous critics’ awards, a SAG Award, and Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. The Kenyan-Mexican actress also appeared in Universal’s airborne thriller Non-Stop with Liam Neeson. She’s also repped by D2 Management and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano.

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Stuart Manashil Bolsters WME Lit List

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 1:08pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Stuart ManashilEXCLUSIVE: When seasoned agents leave one major percentery for another, the tale is told by how many clients change addresses with them. Back in March, Stuart Manashil made the leap to WME after spending the past 6 1/2 years at CAA and before that spent six years at UTA. In what marks the third case — Dan Aloni and Warren Zavala were the first two — where agents pried their clients away from CAA, Manashil has strengthened WME’s writer-director roster quite a bit.

Related: Selena Gomez Signs With WME

Here’s who he brought with him: Read More »

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‘Fargo’s Noah Hawley Inks Overall Deal With FX Productions

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 12:57pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

hawleyFX Productions has closed an overall production deal with Noah Hawley, the writer, executive producer and showrunner of Fargo, FX‘s first limited series as part of the cable network’s push in event programming. The two-year agreement for Hawley and his 26 Keys banner covers development for all television, both cable and broadcast. “As is evident by the universal acclaim and extraordinary reviews pouring in for Fargo, Noah Hawley is one of the most talented writer/producers in this business,” said FX Networks and FX Prods President of Original Fargo key artProgramming Eric Schrier. Inspired by the 1996 Coen brothers movie, Fargo tells a new story. Hawley wrote all episodes of the limited series, which earned great reviews. It launched to so-so premiere audience of 2.65 million but has grown in time-shifted viewing, amassing 6.3 million viewers in Live+3. “Making Fargo for FX has been the highlight of my career,” Hawley said.”A writer can search his or her whole career for a network partner who truly understands and encourages their vision. For me, the search is over. When John Landgraf announced ‘at FX, we’d rather make something great for somebody, than something good for everybody,’ I knew I’d found a home.”

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ABC ‘World News’ Beats ‘NBC Nightly News’ For Second Consecutive Week

For the first time in more thandianesawyer2 six years, ABC’s World News With Diane Sawyer beat NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams in the news demo for a second consecutive week. Last time it happened it wasn’t “with Diane Sawyer” because Charlie Gibson was anchoring back in March of ’08 when ABC’s newscast last enjoyed two weeks of demo ratings wins.. Sawyer took over as anchor in December of 2009. The week of April 14, ABC’s newscast also posted its largest victory over NBC’s in that 25-54 age bracket in more than five years. Sawyer’s newscast beat Williams’ by 85,000 demo viewers. One week earlier, Sawyer’s win was by a slim 12,000 demo viewers. ABC’s newscast bested NBC in head-to-head competition on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday during the week of April 14. Read More »

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Sony Classics To Release ‘Foxcatcher’ On November 14

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 11:47am PDT

Foxcatcher-Steve-Carell-Channing-TatumThe long road of Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher to the big screen finally has a finish line. Sony Pictures Classics has set a November 14 release date for the pic starring Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, which last week landed a competition berth at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a prime awards-season spot for the drama, which tells the true story of Olympic wrestling champion brothers Mark Schultz (Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and their relationship with the eccentric John du Pont (Carell), heir to the DuPont Chemical fortune, that led to murder. Right now it will share the spc logoNovember 14 date with Universal’s Dumb And Dumber To, Sony/Columbia’s Brad Pitt war drama Fury and Relativity’s Blackbird.

Foxcatcher was being primed for a big AFI Fest bow and an Oscar-season splash last fall before pulling out at the last minute. SPC said the move was so filmmakers “can have more time to finish the film.” It had been set for a December 2013 release. AFI Fest later set August: Osage County for the gala premiere spot. 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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Universal Dates Tina Fey-Amy Poehler Comedy ‘The Nest’ For December 2015

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

Universal-Pictures-logo-2013__140130232555__140321183123-275x141The comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will hit theaters on December 18, 2015. Pitch Perfect helmer Jason Moore directs The Nest, about two disconnected sisters cleaning out their parents’ family home who throw one last high school rager for their now-grown former classmates. Universal hopes it’ll serve as a counterprogramming option to Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: Episode VII, which also opens that weekend along with Sony’s thriller Inferno. Jay Roach is producing The Nest alongside Fey, with Poehler exec producing. SNL and 30 Rock scribe Paula Pell penned the script.

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Josh Berman Inks New Overall Deal At Sony

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 11:24am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

BermanEXCLUSIVE: Josh Berman tenure at Sony Pictures Television will be crossing the decade mark with a fourth consecutive overall deal. Under the new, three-year pact, Berman continues as executive producer and showrunner of Sony TV’s Lifetime series Dead Drop Diva. He created the dramedy, now in its sixth and final season, under his first overall pact at the studio. He also will continue to develop projects for network and cable. Berman began his career as a junior writer on the first season of CBS’ CSI. He remained on the long-running procedural for six years, rising to executive producer. He went on to create the Fox drama Vanished and spent four years on the network’s veteran procedural Bones. While at Sony TV, Berman, repped by CAA and attorney Ken Richman, also co-created and executive produced the Fox drama Mob Doctor.

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Aereo Case Reactions: Did CBS Shares Fall In Response To Supreme Court’s Questions?

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 11:00am PDT

CBS stockUPDATED: CBS investors apparently became more comfortable with the Aereo news from the Supreme Court as the afternoon wore on. The broadcasters’ shares edged back into positive territory, closing +0.1%, and narrowed the striking gap with the S&P 500 that opened right around the time justices began questioning lawyers in the case. 

PREVIOUS, 11:00 AM: Can’t say for sure, but the timing leads me to think that there’s a connection. CBS has the most at stake in the Aereo case among Big Media companies because it’s so dependent on broadcasting — including retransmission consent fees which, in theory, could be jeopardized if the streaming service can tap cbs-logo__120711164808__121116195436__130108233101__130716162250__130926192712__131121001522over-the-air transmissions without payment. CBS was up about 0.8% this morning, in line with the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500, until shortly after noon ET — during the court’s questioning period — when it fell sharply to -0.8% without a corresponding change in the S&P. Shares have begun to creep back up, but are still -0.2% in afternoon trading. This should be a good day for the broadcaster: This morning Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne reiterated a “buy” recommendation for CBS, saying that even a loss at the Supreme Court would have “no impact” on existing retransmission consent deals. The analyst added that a loss also “likely leads to a legislative response in ’15 ultimately confirming the networks’ ability to … Read More »

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New Regency & Plan B Go Genre By Acquiring ‘3 Videotapes’

By | Tuesday April 22, 2014 @ 10:46am PDT
Mike Fleming

bpitEXCLUSIVE: New Regency, RatPac Entertainment and Plan B have acquired 3 Videotapes, a pitch by Ian McCulloch that puts both companies in the low-budget genre game. The film is an elevated thriller with aspects of The Ring and Memento. RatPac’s Brett Ratner is executive producer. New Regency’s Arnon Milchan and Brad Weston brought in Plan B last fall after they collaborated on Best Picture winner 12 Years A Slave. They recently acquired The Operators, which will be developed as a star vehicle for Brad Pitt with Animal Kingdom helmer David Michôd to write and direct  The latter project is also being done with RatPac, with Pitt producing with his Plan B partners Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, and Ratner exec producing. WME reps McCulloch.

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