Ashton Kutcher’s production company is suing the California Department of Motor Vehicles for $1.4 million in damages for pulling out of a reality television series deal. The lawsuit, filed today in LA Superior Court, alleges the DMV breached its contract with Kutcher’s Katalyst Media and Soda and Pop, Inc. According to the suit, the DMV committed in writing to collaborating with Katalyst on the series in June 2010. But just six weeks after signing the agreement, the suit says the DMV “abruptly and without justifiable excuse, changed course.” Katalyst alleges in the suit (read it here) that it had already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in pre-production for the show. The series was to feature employees and patrons of the DMV in various “humanizing and entertaining” situations that arise on a daily basis” in DMV offices throughout California.
EXCLUSIVE: JOBS, the film that will star Ashton Kutcher as Apple genius Steve Jobs, will be sold at the Cannes Film Festival by Inferno. The film will be directed by Joshua Michael Stern based on a Matt Whiteley script. Production is slated to begin later this year. Five Star Institute’s Mark Hulme is financing and will produce a film that covers Jobs’ life from his twenties to mid-thirties. CAA will be selling domestic distribution rights on the picture and packaged the project.
Inferno has a hot hand coming into Cannes, with a slate that includes Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, the Olivier Dahan-directed Grace of Monaco that will star Nicole Kidman, and Maggie, the elevated genre film about the John Scott 3-penned spec script about the six-week metamorphosis of a 16-year-old teenage girl into a zombie.
“There is a lot of product out there and some buyers have said it’s more than they’ve seen in 30 years,” said Inferno’s Bill Johnson. “There are a lot of programmer type projects, but we feel pretty fortunate in that we feel we’ve got films that are standing out from the crowd.”
EXCLUSIVE: The leading men of CBS‘ veteran comedy Two And A Half Men are staying put. I’ve learned that Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones, whose contracts were up at the end of this season, are inches away from an agreement in principal for new one-year deals that will bring them back for next season — the series 10th and second with Kutcher as the star after he replaced Charlie Sheen. Word is that the trio are returning at their current salaries, with all three getting signing bonuses. Kutcher is believed to be earning about $700,000 per episode, Cryer a bit less and Jones $300,000 an episode. Jones’ bonus at the last contract re-upping was $500,000.
After the Two And A Half Men renewal went down to the wire the last two years as the show raced against the clock to lock in its leading man, first Charlie Sheen, then his replacement Ashton Kutcher, things may get done ahead of time for a change this year. Sources close to the situation say that noone at CBS, which is leading the negotiations with the actor, “is concerned that the deal would be derailed.” “It is moving in the right direction and will get done,” one source said, adding that a new pact with Kutcher and a renewal for Men will probably be announced in a few weeks. Securing Men is key to CBS’ plan to possibly expand its comedy presence on Thursday and air two-hour comedy blocks on both Monday and Thursday. Along with the renewed How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and 2 Broke Girls, veteran Men would provide a building block for the anchor positions at 8 PM and 9 PM on both nights. As for Kutcher, who has indicated numerous times publicly that he would like to come back (“I’m absolutely adoring the time that I’m having,” he said recently at the Paley Fest), his paycheck is expected to get a bump and may cross the $1 million per episode mark.
Chuck Lorre Was Very Close To Ending ‘Men’, Ashton Kutcher Wants To Stay On, There Was No Lorre-Sheen Feud: TCA
UPDATED: Walden Schmidt is dropping the beard and getting a haircut. That was one of the headlines from TCA’s Two And A Half Men session this morning, which featured star Ashton Kutcher with a new clean-cut look. The onscreen transformation will happen on the show’s upcoming episode Monday.
During the panel, co-creator Chuck Lorre talked about how close he came to ending Two And A Half Men after the controversial exit of original star Charlie Sheen. “We absolutely considered it,” he said. “We never imagined we would be in a position to consider it any other way. It looked as slightly impossible and ridiculous thing to do.” Eventually, he and co-creator Lee Aronsohn opened up to the possibility of continuing the show with another star. “We thought if we fail, no one will be psychically harmed. It seemed like such a heartbreaking way to end (the show).”
Kutcher, whose deal is up at the end of the season, was asked about the prospect of him continuing on the show next fall. “The deal we structured was kinda a test deal,” he said. “The show is outperforming the numbers from before I was here, and I think people are responding to it. For me having a show people like and want more of will dictate my decision. Right now I’m looking at (summer) as a hiatus, I have a lot of fun and would love to come back.”
Also at the panel, Aronsohn addressed speculation about the behind-the-scenes fight between Lorre and Sheen, which was fueled by comments during the actor’s rampage last spring. “I never saw it, that was never the case,” Aronsohn said. “Chuck has always been extremely respectful of Charlie, and Charlie has been respectful of Chuck. What has been built up as a feud never existed.”
Oxygen Media has tapped former OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network executive Rod Aissa as SVP Programming and Development. He will oversee all programming and development efforts at the network as well as shepherd new and existing series like The Next Big Thing and Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood. Aissa will report to Oxygen president Jason Klarman and be based in New York; SVP Development Cori Abraham and VP Current Production Teri Kennedy report to him and the three will be charged with “finding new genres, new twists on existing formats and identifying talent that all speak directly to Oxygen’s ‘Live Out Loud’ brand philosophy” that targets young women. Before OWN, Aissa was EVP TV at Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst Films, where he developed True Beauty for ABC. He also worked at MTV and was on the team that created and produced such unscripted hits like The Osbournes and Punk’d, helping to launch the careers of Kutcher as well as the likes of Jenny McCarthy and Carson Daly.
Charlie Sheen’s public rants against Two And A Half Men co-creator Chuck Lorre ultimately got the actor fired from the hit comedy series. But if Lorre had his way, he would’ve left first, just as Sheen was going off the rails early year. “I offered to quit the show last winter,” Lorre told TV Guide in an extensive interview. “I said, ‘Listen, if for some reason I’m now the Antichrist, I’m happy to leave. It’s not in my interest to stop the show, and I certainly don’t want to put all these people out of work. Keep going. Get another guy. Don’t stop on my account.’ ”
And that was not the first time Lorre thought about leaving the show. In the interview, he said he regretted not quitting the show after Sheen was arrested for allegedly threatening his wife with a knife on Christmas Day in 2009. “When he started attacking people with knives, that’s it,” Lorre said. “That should have been it. I should have walked. That’s unthinkable. No more. I’m done. But for some reason I thought that because she was willing to forgive him … we could emerge from this fiasco and be stronger and healthier.”
Despite their acrimonious divorce, complete with a $100 million lawsuit that has been settled, Lorre had a lot of praise for his former leading man, even comparing Sheen to Dean Martin. “Charlie is the …
EXCLUSIVE: Charlie Harper’s mom has always been an important part of Two And A Half Men. Now we’ll get to meet the mother of new lead Walden Schmidt (Ashton Kutcher). Mimi Rogers has been tapped to guest star as Walden’s mom in at least two episodes of the veteran CBS comedy series. And if you wonder where computer genius Walden got his brains from — his mother is a noted primatologist, a la Dian Fossey.
Joining the ranks of Ashton Kutcher, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga in promoting tech startups, Leonardo DiCaprio has surfaced as one of a group of investors who put up $4 million in seed money for visual social media platform Mobli, tech news site Mashable reports. “Mobli allows people from all over the world to share moments,” says DiCaprio, who is taking an advisory post. The way users “share” those moments is by taking photos and videos that Mobli tags automatically with a location or major event that makes it possible to follow specific users, locations and topics. Lukas Haas is another investor. One thing that distinguishes Mobli from similar platforms is the participation of high-recognition names like DiCaprio, David Arquette and even Paris Hilton (remember her?). DiCaprio has posted only seven times, but has more than 8,000 followers. His Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has separately posted 24 times. But those 31 posts have accounted for 163,244 “media views” — which as DiCaprio, Kutcher and other celebs illustrate, a little goes a long way.
Garry Marshall’s romantic comedy New Year’s Eve from New Line has a new trailer showing its ensemble cast preparing for the big night. Ashton Kutcher, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, Sarah Jessica Parker and Halle Berry are seriously ready to get this party started on Dec. 9.
Here it is — the new television season. Its opening night contained one of this fall’s most anticipated programs, the Season 9 premiere of CBS’ Two and a Half Men featuring its new star Ashton Kutcher. After seeing the premiere, that poster featuring Kutcher and his co-stars naked, hiding their private parts behind a banner, starts to make some sense as Kutcher’s character likes walking around the house with no clothes on. Though the premise of his character — a tall, handsome, smart guy with the body of an underwear model and $1.3 billion in the bank who can’t find love — still baffles me. But then Charlie Harper barely wrote a jingle during his eight years on Men and still could afford to live lavishly in a beachfront Malibu house, so the series has always required suspension of disbelief. The former Men star gave the reboot a thumbs-up. “Surrounded by friends and watching the premiere of Two and a Half Men,” Charlie Sheen tweeted tonight. “Odd… But cool..! So far a lot of laughs!!” adding later, “laughing our asses off.” What did you think? Did you miss Charlie?
Despite fears that Charlie Sheen wouldn’t be on his best behavior during the Emmys tonight, the actor played it straight while presenting the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series award. Minutes later, Ashton Kutcher, his Two and a Half Men replacement, joked onstage that he is “not Charlie Sheen.” Evidence of that showed up on Sheen’s Twitter feed in the form of a photo of the two actors backstage. Sheen tweeted, “Seriously… @aplusk great talking to you! We’ll all be watching! Make us proud!!” Later via Twitter, Kutcher wished Sheen well on his new gig and sought his help with his DNA Foundation’s efforts to stop human trafficking.
With basic cable networks buying more original series, and digital companies such as Netflix starting to license reruns, “there’s never been a better time to be in the television content and distribution business,” Warner Bros Television Group president Bruce Rosenblum told the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. His operation still depends on ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC for most of its profits — even though they typically favor the shows they produce. WB’s been the top TV supplier for 20 of the last 25 years by being everyone’s second choice. “If you get enough at-bats, it adds up,” Rosenblum said. WB has 27 primetime shows on broadcast TV this fall including 11 newcomers. The exec is especially enthusiastic about Two And a Half Men with Ashton Kutcher replacing Charlie Sheen. “CBS is very, very excited about it,” he says. Rosenblum says he isn’t worried yet that sales of older shows in continuing series to online streaming services will lure viewers away from new episodes on network TV, although “it’s something we’re watching.” But he says the digital companies have an opportunity to stand out if they purchase reruns of cable network series — networks don’t like to buy these from each other — and serialized dramas that often don’t appeal to TV stations.
As part of the promotional campaign for the relaunch of CBS’ Two and a Half Men, stars Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer and Angus T. Jones presented the “Top Ten Reasons to Watch the New Season of Two And a Half Men” on the Late Show last night. Frankly, they didn’t make a very strong case with mostly uninspired one-liners. Here is the clip:
Will Arnett, Julianna Margulies, Amy Poehler, Sofia Vergara, Zooey Deschanel and Ashton Kutcher have been tapped as the first group of presenters announced for the 63rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards, set for Sept. 18 at NOKIA Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles and televised live on Fox. Arnett, Margulies, Poehler and Vergara are nominees this year; Deschanel stars in Fox’s new series New Girl and Kutcher, of course, is replacing Charlie Sheen on CBS’ Two And a Half Men.
With new Two and a Half Men star Ashton Kutcher as a guest, CBS’ late-night host David Letterman predicted that the veteran sitcom is “going to go through the roof” with him. Kutcher agreed. “I think it’s going to go through the roof, I really do,” he said. “I’ve been laughing really hard.” The first indication was the taping of the season premiere on the Warner Bros lot. “The roof popped off Warner Bros that day,” said Kutcher, who wore protective gear for the interview in reference to the recent jihad threat against Letterman. With a solid feature career, why did Kutcher decide to go back to sitcoms where he started years ago on That ’70s Show? Kutcher said he remembered how, while he was on That ’70s Show, he used to dream of a feature career all the time. Then one day, Robin Williams, fresh off winning an Oscar, stopped by the set to see the show’s Kurtwood Smith and confessed to wanting to do a sitcom again. “And I never forgot that when I was on That ‘70s Show because I never forgot what we had, and how great and how fun the job was and how incredible it was, and how great it is go to work every day and make people laugh,” said Kutcher. Here is the clip:
TruTV has teamed with Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg’s Katalyst for a reality series set at the DMV. Tentatively titled California DMV: Field Offices, the series “will provide an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at hard-working personnel who deal with everything from issuing licenses and registering vehicles to maintaining accident records and investigating complaints,” the network said. Added Goldberg, “We’ve all spent time at the DMV, but few people know what it’s like to work for the DMV.”
The taping of the season premiere of Two and a Half Men was last night, and early feedback should allow CBS and producer Warner Bros TV to breathe a sigh of relief. People who were at the taping or have read the script, praised the writing as being as sharp as in was in Men‘s heyday. And then there is Ashton Kutcher, who replaced fired star Charlie Sheen playing a new character, Internet billionaire Walden Schmidt. “They brought back something that was working, the writing and the supporting cast, and added a new element, Ashton Kutcher, who is breathing new life,” said one attendee to the taping. Mostly to protect the storyline in the episode, which we largely scooped earlier this week, everyone who was at the taping had to sign a non-disclosure agreement. (Yes, there was a funeral for Charlie Harper attended by some of his former girlfriends.) But people who saw the filming describe Kutcher as “charming” and “solid” and say he was an improvement over the final episodes of Sheen where he was still very good but also showing signs of addiction problems with his gaunt look. Here is the curtain call for the cast, which includes Kutcher, Jon Cryer, Angus T. Jones, Conchata Ferrell, Holland Taylor and recurring guest star Marin Hinkle.