The buzz has been “it’s not working” on this pic in recent weeks. Now Paramount, DreamWorks, and Spyglass have delayed Dinner For Schmucks originally scheduled for release on July 23 to July 30. UPDATE: An insider just told me the reasoning: “It looks like a much less competitive weekend. July 30 is Cats & Dogs 2 which is very young. Right now, July 16 and 23 are Inception, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and Salt. July 30 used to be Meet The Fockers and Morning Glory which moved back to year end. This moved into that opening.”
EXCLUSIVE: James Franco, thriving as an actor in mainstream dramas, comedies, micro-budget indies, and soaps, is back on the laugh track.
He is attached to play the title role in the Jeff Bushell-scripted comedy Ricky Stanicky. Summit Entertainment is negotiating to finance the movie. The premise: a couple of pals who invented a fake friend they employ when they want to get away from their spouses get called on their BS when the wives insist on meeting Ricky Stanicky at a party they are throwing. The guys hire an actor (Franco) to play Stanicky. Michael De Luca is producing with John Jacobs. Bushell wrote Beverly Hills Chihuahua. WME is brokering the deal.
The Summit deal comes just after Franco committed to spend the summer emoting in the ABC soap General Hospital, reprising as the bad boy performance artist, Franco.
Franco, who has moved seamlessly from Spider-Man to Milk and Pineapple Express, is putting together the most schizophrenic resume of any major actor since Johnny Depp turned his focus to tent pole films. There is early buzz on Franco’s performance as Aron Ralston–the hiker who cut off his arm with a dull knife to save his life– in 127 Hours, director Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire follow-up which Fox Searchlight will release during Oscar season. On the indie track, the Sundance Festival drama Howl will be released in September by Oscilloscope, with Franco starring as Allen Ginsberg. And after a great cameo in Date Night, Franco’s …
Will Nikita and Elena get together on the fall CW schedule? I hear strong ramblings that CW’s breakout hit of this season, Vampire Diaries, may be used to launch the network’s most buzzed about new series, Nikita on Thursdays.
UPDATED: People attending the NBC presentation were buzzing about one line in particular from the trailer for new comedy Friends With Benefits. in it, one of the guys complains to a girl about her tongue in his mouth: ”You kiss like a hobo cleaning out a margarine container.”
Over at Fox’s presentation, Jane Lynch scored big laughs as Sue Sylvester with her take on Fox’s entertainment president Kevin Reilly’s hair: “The last time I saw something that sweet and sticky, it came with a coffee and had jelly in it.”
And Scott Silveri, co-creator/executive producer of another new NBC comedy, Perfect Couples, and his wife, fellow ex-Friends executive producer Shana Goldberg-Meehan, both had new comedies about couples picked up. Goldberg-Meehan also is due to give birth next month. “The baby will come just as we’re gearing up the shows,” Silveri told me at the NBC lunch. “We were looking to see if we could push it to midseason.”
We’ll have Fox’s complete schedule tomorrow morning (make sure to check us out at 8:30AM ET/5:30AM PT when I will be posting it) but for the curious minds out there, here are some tidbits I heard today. It looks like the new Mitch Hurwitz/Will Arnett comedy Running Wilde will launch in the fall, probably paired with another new comedy Greg Garcia’s Keep Hope Alive, while the network’s third freshman comedy Traffic Light may be held for midseason, along with Shawn Ryan’s Ridealong. Tuesday still looks like it will be an all-comedy night with Glee possibly leading into Keep Hope Alive and Running Wilde. The Marc Webb-directed Lone Star continues to look good to launch behind House on Monday, while one of the network’s just renewed dramas Lie To Me or Human Target, appears Friday-bound.
With the networks wrapping up their internal screenings, pilots are entering the final stretch when executives factor in testing and testing results as well as scheduling needs to make their picks for next fall. Here is the latest buzz on which pilots are still in contention:
Besides the Steven Spielberg-produced dinosaur fantasy Terra Nova, which is prepping for a midseason launch, Fox may pick up only one or two more new drama series, especially if it renews one of its bubble drama series Human Target or Lie To Me. (Human Target is looking a little stronger at the moment.) Midland appears a lock for the one slot, with a possible launch behind Fox’s flagship drama House a possibility. Breakout Kings and Shawn Ryan’s Ridealong would duke it out for the potential second slot.
On the comedy side, Greg Garcia’s Keep Hope Alive and Mitch Hurwitz’s Wilde Kingdom have emerged as frontrunners, with Traffic Light and Breaking In (form. Security) also in the running, along with Most Likely To Succeed.
The network already picked up dramas Undercovers, The Event and Chase, hourlong anthology romantic comedy Love Bites and comedy Outsourced. With Law & Order: Los Angeles also on deck, I hear the drama pilots still in the running at the network include The Cape, Rockford Files and Kindreds. Neither is a slam-dunk but has strong chances for a pickup. The Cape was very well received but is …
Kristen Chenoweth Jumps To Defense Of ‘Promises, Promises’ Co-Star Sean Hayes After Newsweek’s Moronic Sexuality Slam
Last Friday was such a busy day that I didn’t get to a story that has Broadway buzzing, and not in a good way. Newsweek.com carried an “exclusive” article which discussed the drawbacks of gay actors playing straight characters. The writer, Ramin Setoodeh, focused his ire on Sean Hayes, who acknowledged he was gay just as he opened as the lead in the Broadway revival Promises, Promises. Setoodeh is unsparing in factoring in Hayes’s sexuality to assessing his performance—“Frankly, it’s weird seeing Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, like he’s trying to hide something, which of course he is. Even the play’s most hilarious scene, when Chuck tries to pick up a drunk woman at a bar, devolves into unintentional camp. Is it funny because of all the ’60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?”
While this might be an attempt by Newsweek to generate attention-getting copy at a time when the newsweekly is on the selling block, this is a polarizing way to do it and one that perpetuates a stigma that will only give pause to other actors who’d like to think they can be open about their sexuality, which frankly should not be factored into their work. Hayes’s cast mate Kristin Chenoweth fired back her own reaction, and she makes some worthy points.
“This article offends me …
A change-of-address email sent out Monday by Andrea Wong, the departing CEO and president of Lifetime Networks, got industry people buzzing about her future plans. Wong’s new office is in the Animation Building on the Disney lot, marking the former ABC top reality/late-night executive’s return to her old stomping grounds. Of course, she may have just gotten a nice break on the rent there. But given how well-liked Wong is by Disney president and CEO Bob Iger and Disney-ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney, conspiracy theorists started to suspect a possible new gig for Wong within the Disney TV family. Or, with her engineering degree from MIT, she may just want to pick up some computer animation skills.
The new date set by Sony’s Columbia Pictures for the comedy is now July 8th, 2011, not October 8, 2010 which MGM had originally slotted for it. The decision was made after a rousing test screening with “some of the highest scores we have ever seen,” a studio exec tells me. Seriously, the advance word on this pic has been great, and now the buzz is even bigger as agents, managers, and other Hollywood types start seeing parts of it. Which just goes to show that even an embattled studio like MGM, on the brink of bankruptcy, can uncork one. Even better, MGM hired Kevin at a bargain price because it was before he’d made Paul Blart: Media Cop. As MGM’s financial situation worsened, the pic became a co-production with Sony, which at first was distributing only overseas but now is handling domestic as well.
James stars with Rosario Dawson and a voice cast that includes Adam Sandler, Sylvester Stallone, Jon Favreau and Judd Apatow. MGM acquired the film for $2 million as a spec script by Jay Scherick and David Ronn, and then brought in Columbia as a co-production partner.
Broadway ‘Fences’ With Denzel Washington And Viola Davis Deserves Film Treatment; UPDATE: Denzel May Direct It
UPDATE: Now I hear Denzel Washington is considering directing a film version of Fences. (Bravo!) The last time he helmed a pic was The Great Debaters in 2007 and, of course, Antwone Fisher in 2002. The toughest thing when great movie stars head to Broadway is that their performances live in the moment. At Monday’s Broadway premiere of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences that was unusually packed with Hollywood faces, the buzz was whether a movie will be made out of the triumphant performances by Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Mykelti Williamson, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Chris Chalk, and Russell Hornsby. Well, if they aren’t thinking movie, they should start. The fiery moments between Washington and Davis alone are gold and worth preserving for posterity. Washington brings a virility and defiance to embittered protagonist Troy Maxson, and Davis drew audible sympathy from the crowd for her portrayal of his long-suffering wife. The movie crowd at the Bryant Park Grill included Scott Rudin (who produced the play with Carole Shorenstein Hays), Spike Lee, Mike Nichols, Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi, WME toppers Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, producers like Scott Stuber and directors like Peter Berg, who huddled with Universal honcho Jimmy Horowitz to discuss the logistics of their upcoming tent pole film Battleship. Also spotted were actors like The Hurt Locker‘s Anthony Mackie, James Gandolfini, Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Chris Rock and Precious star Gabourey Sidibe.
EXCLUSIVE: After Up In The Air scored the most Golden Globes nominations (6) including best picture, actor, director, screenplay and two supporting actress mentions, Paramount wants to take advantage of the extraordinary buzz. So it’s moving up the Jason Reitman/George Clooney pic’s wide break from Christmas Day to December 23rd when the movie will be in approximately 1,800 theaters. This should serve as a paid preview for the Christmas run.
BREAKING NEWS! So much for the accuracy of tracking. There’s obviously huge online curioisty about James Cameron’s 3-D latest. The Hollywood Reporter‘s glowing early review of Avatar released just now has crashed the trade paper’s website because of a Drudge Report pickup. The Times of London, KTLA’s Sam Rubin, and other stellar reviews are pouring in and revving up Internet traffic…
Avatar premiered in the UK today. Even though London critics had to sign away their firstborns promising not to review the film until Monday, their drooling reactions are starting to dribble onto the Internet especially via Twitter. I can’t find anyone who seriously says Avatar stinks up the joint. Instead, many are quite effusive in their praise and think it’s kickass spectacular. Generally, the critical reaction is far above average, which bodes well for the film’s word of mouth. Then again, the British may not be familiar with Smurfs.
It’s the well-liked Rick Olshansky, head of all business affairs for the NBCU TV studio and network and who reported to Marc Graboff. Not anymore. They let Olshansky go yesterday even though a long time was left on his contract. “He’s a really good guy who basically just got a bullet to the head,” one TV source tells me. “You can call this the first casualty of the Comcast-GE-NBCU deal.”
Meanwhile, Broadcasting & Cable is reporting tonight that Madison Avenue is “buzzing” that long-serving Comcast ad sales executive Dave Cassaro is widely expected to be put in charge of all TV ad sales once the Comcast-GE-NBCU deal is completed.
SHOCKER! Carolina Lightcap Named President Of Disney Channels Worldwide; Heir Apparent Gary Marsh Passed Over
UPDATE: Hollywood is buzzing this morning as Disney made another unexpected in-house management move. It had been assumed that Disney Channels Worldwide entertainment president Gary Marsh would take over from his boss Rich Ross to head the whole she-bang. After all, Marsh has spearheaded Disney’s lucrative franchises including Hannah Montana and High School Musical among other successes and has been considered a golden boy within Disney. But nooooooooooooo. Instead, Latin American VP and chief marketing officer Carolina Lightcap was leapfrogged over him. Heck, she was working out of Buenos Aires, not even Burbank. As a sop, Marsh gets an extra title, Chief Creative Officer, which is relatively meaningless since he still has to report to Lightcap:
Burbank, Tuesday, November 24, 2009 — Carolina Lightcap has been promoted to President, Disney Channels Worldwide, it was announced today by Anne Sweeney, Co-chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney/ABC Television Group, to whom she will report. A highly-regarded executive with more than 20 years in the media/entertainment industry, Ms. Lightcap joined The Walt Disney Company in 2000 and most recently served in the dual roles of senior Vice President, Programming and Creative Affairs, Disney Channels Latin America, and Chief Marketing Officer, The Walt Disney Company, Latin America. She will assume her new position within the Disney/ABC Television Group effective immediately and will relocate from Buenos Aires to Burbank.
A versatile and well-regarded executive who, during her career, has been based in
I have to laugh that Variety is trumpeting 20th Century Fox “developing” a Deadpool spinoff starring Ryan Reynolds. Like duh. Everyone who saw one of the two Wolverine Easter eggs knows this. SPOILER ALERT (as I do my best geek impression): Even the critics screening back on April 29th featured a final post-credits ending of Deadpool’s arm reaching out from the rubble of the final battle, and grabbing his severed head. The head’s eyes open wide, and the mouth — which had been fused shut earlier in a significant plot point: Deadpool was a wiseass and Colonel Striker hated his jokes so sewed his mouth shut — is open, and says “SHHHHH!” Deadpool is a fan-fave character, but his treatment in Wolverine is highly non-canon; he gets given all the powers of every mutant for the final battle. This ending suggests a more accurate sequel since, in the comics, Deadpool signs up for mutant duty in order to cure his cancer, and this is unmentioned in the film. As for the other Easter egg, it’s Wolverine in Japan, possibly to kickstart a sequel based on the Frank Miller Wolverine comic series that fans love.
The sad truth is that the new tax breaks agreed to by the California Legislature this week will just be used by the Hollywood studios to play one state off another since now lawmakers in 40 states have enacted some kind of filming incentives. This is driven home by today’s incredibly arrogant press release issued by their trade group, the Motion Picture Association Of America, and timed to the Oscars with the sole purpose of boasting about runaway production. Read it and weep.
ANOTHER BIG WINNER ON OSCAR’S® NIGHT:
THE AMERICAN WORKER
Nominated Films Brought Jobs, Revenue to States
Washington, DC – What do Brad Pitt, Anne Hathaway and Mickey Rourke have in common? Yes, they are all nominated for one of Hollywood’s biggest awards – an Oscar®. But, all three of these actors were also a part of an “on location” film production that helped bring jobs and revenue to several states not necessarily known for red carpet events.
On Sunday night, Americans all across the country will settle into their living rooms to find out who will be going home with the coveted Academy Award®. But, beyond the glitz and glamour, some of the biggest winners already are the workers and small businesses in states where several of the nominated flicks were filmed – from Connecticut to Louisiana and New Jersey to Hawaii.
In the category of “on location” productions, an estimated $225,000 per day is added to the local economy where film production occurs. In Illinois alone, Batman was a hero for Chicago when
It was easy to forget during all that legal warring between Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox over Watchman whether the movie would actually perform well at the box office. Now a new MovieTickets.com poll finds that Watchmen topped the list of films that the two youngest demos tracked (ages 25-to-34 and under-24) expect to see next in theaters. Even though its release isn’t until March 6th. Though I’m not certain how many of the moviegoers understand that, they may like the film’s footage that has been shown but perhaps not the ending which director Zack Snyder has altered on the comic book series/graphic novel written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. (See my previous, ‘Fox & Warner Settle ‘Watchmen’ Lawsuit: Fox Gets 8 1/2% Gross + Cash + Piece Of Sequels/Spinoffs)
It’s definite. More details if I get them. Remember to check here for the video.
UPDATED WRITETHRU: There’s fallout today from Paramount’s newly announced decision to release 20 movies a year. Already bigwigs are shuffling the 2008-2009 release schedule — and that has Oscar ramifications for one pic. I can tell you that DreamWorks is very upset because Paramount is taking its Robert Downey Jr-Jamie Foxx starrer The Soloist out of Academy Awards contention by moving it from a limited release on November 21st until March 13, 2009. This is extreme since ads on all sorts of media platforms have already started appearing for the Oscar-touted movie based on Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez’ accounts of a homeless violin player. Soloist insiders fear the delay will prompt a lot of web speculation that something is “wrong” with Joe Wright’s pic when everything is right. I’m surprised especially because Downey has really good awards season and box office heat from Iron Man. But Paramount instead will be pushing the actor for Tropic Thunder consideration.
Paramount also is delaying its Vantage pic Defiance, the Ed Zwick-directed Academy Award hopeful starring Daniel Craig in the true story of four Jewish brothers battling the Nazis. The movie was supposed to come out December 12th, but it will be pushed back to an Oscar-qualifying run on December 31st, and then go wide January 16th. So the delay won’t interfere with its 2008 Oscar chances. By the way, these release delays for Defiance and The Soloist won’t affect their opening and closing the Los Angeles’ AFI …