The UK newspaper baron is apparently thinking of transforming Five into a UK version of E! Entertainment, the US channel which broadcasts a stream of celebrity news and profiles. Apart from owning the tabloid Daily Express, Richard Desmond also owns weekly OK! — a downmarket version of Spain’s ¡Hola! – which seems to come from a Bizarro alternate universe of celebrities such as former topless model Jordan and various other reality TV stars. The Five deal marks the first time a private individual has ever owned a UK public-service network.
Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha attended, as did rival Labour politicians Ed and David Milliband (they’re brothers and both competing to lead the Party). Peter Rice, head of Fox Broadcasting, was there, as was son-in-law Matthew Freud and daughter Elizabeth. Not many celebrities apart from comedian James Corden and TV presenters Jeremy Clarkson and Mariella Frostrup. This year’s event was held in the Orangery at Kensington Palace, Princess Diana’s old home.
Simon Cowell says he is “excited” about creating a worldwide talent show pitting winners of his Got Talent franchise against each other. Such a show would draw on the winners and runners-up from some of the 36 countries that televise the format. It would be broadcast to an international audience of 300 million viewers and boast a top prize of £1 million ($1.4 million). Cowell was talking about the idea of a global competition backstage at the Bafta TV awards. Such a show would have to work without judges, he said. Instead, TV viewers would vote at home in a global Eurovision-style contest. “It’s like coming out of the [soccer] Premiership into the Champions League,” he said.
Bafta was awarding Cowell a Special Award at the Philips British Television Awards, recognising his role in developing new talent. Previous Special Awards have gone to BBC executive Jane Tranter and independent producer Andy Harries in the past.
Some would question the wisdom of giving Cowell such an award. He’s been called a fathead who’s done the most damage to Britain’s intellectual life since Rupert Murdoch. Others call Cowell a brilliant producer, whose X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent – which ended its latest run here on Saturday night with a peak audience of 15 million – are outstandlingly made compared to the BBC’s staid rival Strictly Come Dancing. He may have plenty of producers working under him, but Cowell generates all the ideas himself. According to Bafta TV chairman John Willis, Cowell has not …
VH1 has renewed freshman reality series Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business, Basketball Wives and What Chilli Wants for a second season. All fall under VH1’s core celebreality genre. A Family Business stars singers and siblings Brandy and Ray J Norwood, What Chilli Wants stars former TLC member Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, and Basketball Wives, about wives of professional basketball players, stars and is executive produced by Shaquille O’Neal’s ex Shaunie O’Neal.
Paula Abdul is off the market, at least for now. The former American Idol judge has signed on as executive producer, lead judge and “creative partner” for CBS’ new dancing reality-competition Got To Dance. She had been courted for numerous gigs since quitting Idol last summer, including to topline a revival of Star Search for ABC. On Got To Dance, she will also serve as coach, mentor and advocate for contestants during the performances and elimination process, the network said this morning. Meanwhile, Abdul also is rumored to make an appearance on Idol this week as part of the send-off for judge Simon Cowell.
Got To Dance is based on the popular British series, which debuted earlier this year on Britain’s Sky 1. It features amateurs of any age group from across the nation (either performing solo or in a group) who can audition any form of dancing. “I’ve spent the better part of my life teaching, mentoring, nurturing—working with so many talented people—and I consider myself truly blessed to be able to continue to do something that I hold so dear to my heart,” said Abdul, who is repped by UTA. Got To Dance is a Shine Group format, created by Princess Prods. and Shine TV and is produced by Reveille. Abdul, Elisabeth Murdoch, Howard T. Owens, Mark Koops and Robin Ashbrook are executive producers. Distribution is handled by Shine International.
Magnolia Pictures has bought world rights to Smash His Camera, the documentary about infamous New York City paparazzo Ron Galella. He is the pioneering yet controversial celebrity photographer who is best remembered for the restraining order that Jackie O obtained against his prying camera after he photographed her in private moments. He also lost 5 teeth at the hands of another antagonistic subject, Marlon Brando. The film is directed by Leon Gast, the Academy Award-winning helmer of When We Were Kings. Smash His Camera premiered at Sundance, and HBO recently acquired U.S. broadcast rights.
Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball are teaming for an HBO movie. HBO Films has acquired the rights to Rebecca Skloot’s non-fiction best seller The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks to develop a feature-length adaptation executive produced by Winfrey, Ball, Kate Forte and Peter Macdissi. The book tells the true story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black mother in Baltimore, whose cancerous cells – taken without her knowledge – enabled some of the most significant advances in 20th century medicine, but with devastating, and later liberating, effects on her family. Ball’s Your Face Goes Here Entertainment and Harpo Films will produce. Both Ball, creator of Six Feet Under and True Blood, and Harpo are under deals at HBO.
President Obama Makes Fun Of Jay Leno – Who Then Gets Few Big Laughs And Some Groans: “Ooh, This Is A Tough Room!”
The First Yuckster at the White House Correspondents Dinner tonight taunted Jay Leno before The Tonight Show host took the podium. “I am glad that the only person whose ratings fell more than mine is here tonight. Great to see you, Jay. I’m also glad that I’m speaking first – because we’ve all seen what happens when somebody takes the time slot after Leno.” Jay was seen laughing, turning red, and then standing up and saying to the people around him, “Goodnight, everybody.”
Leno quickly tried to return the favor during his 4th stand-up appearance at the dinner. But I can’t point to single joke that killed with the crowd. Instead, Leno’s barbs aimed at Obama were mostly dull like this: “When you were elected, I was a little worried the comedy well had dried up. So thank you for picking Joe Biden. I appreciate that.” And Leno’s voice grew soft when he mentioned that “President Obama loves to socialize — health care, car companies”, or that ”he has the most diverse staff at the White House. They represent every ward in Chicago.” As if Jay were embarrassed to get in any real digs at the Prez.
Politico has compiled a roster of tonight’s power and glitter at the White House Correspondents Dinner. So, natch, I’ve included only the celebs (below). Jay Leno will entertain at the annual media-politics-showbiz schmoozefest in Washington DC. At the prestigious gig last year, Wanda Sykes was more political than funny attacking Republicans during the dinner attended by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. Clearly, the group wanted a blander and therefore safer comic emcee so C-Span won’t have to use its 7-second delay button. This is Jay’s 4th time hosting: he headlined the 2004, 2000, and 1987 dinners during the administrations of both parties. NBC is taking great pains to showcase Leno. I don’t know why because Jay doesn’t have Wanda’s balls. Still, MSNBC is covering the event live, and Sunday the “Morning Joe” hosts will review the evening. From Politico, guests include:
ABC Table: Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal; Modern Family‘s Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell; George Stephanopoulos and Ali Wentworth, who invited J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath.
American Urban Radio Network Table: Wendy Williams
Bloomberg News Table: Rosario Dawson, James Brooks.
CBS Table: Julianna Margulies; Morgan Freeman; Betty White; Chelsea Handler
CNN Table: Ashley Judd; Dennis Quaid; Quinton Aaron; The Tuohy family, whose story is the basis for the film The Blind Side; James Badge Dale and Jon Seda of the HBO miniseries The Pacific; Larry King, who is bringing Seth MacFarlane and Jeff Probst; Joy Behar.
Creative Coalition Table: Jessica Alba and her husband, …
EXCLUSIVE: Wow, everyone connected with Howard Stern just keeps getting richer and richer (in addition to the King Of All Media himself, of course). The Howard Stern Show’s longtime radio producer, Gary Dell’Abate, has just signed a mid-6 figure book deal with Random House for his biography titled, “They Call Me Baba Booey”. It comes out in November. Don Buchwald & Associates’ Tony Burton and 3 Arts’ Richard Abate did the deal with Random House’s Spiegel & Grau imprint editor Julie Grau. Gary is writing it with author Chad Millman. I understand that Howard mentioned something about this on his Sirius show this morning — and the book has already jumped to No. 1 on Amazon’s “Movers And Shakers” based on book pre-orders.
So let’s see: Howard himself had 2 bestsellers, Robin Quivers had 1, Artie Lange had the most recent and now it’s obvious that Baba Booey will have one as well. Ya gotta love it — and wonder if a book might be in the cards for Fred Norris, the longtime Howard Stern producer whose sound effects enhances the mayhem. Gary is smart to get the book out this fall, since Stern is saying he might not re-up at Sirius when his contract ends in less than a year.
Dedicated Stern listeners know that the title of Dell’Abate’s book comes from his hobby of collecting actual cels from classic animated shows. While describing that pursuit, he mentioned …
This weekend the Sunday Times published its annual Rich List 2010, which always makes headlines over here (even though I personally find it rather nauseating). Patrick McKenna, chairman of Ingenious Media, tops the film and television list with a personal fortune estimated to have risen by £200 million since last year, mainly due to Avatar. Anyway, here are the Top 20 names most relevant to Hollywood:
1. Patrick McKenna (Media financier), £520m
2. JK Rowling (Author), £519m
3. Simon Fuller (TV entrepreneur), £350m
4. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey (TV producers), £240m
5. Elisabeth Murdoch and Matthew Freud (TV exec/PR), £190m
6. Nigel and Trevor Green (Film distributors), £189m
7. Arpad Busson and Uma Thurman (Financier/actress), £180m
8. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas (Actors), £175m
9. Simon Cowell (TV producer), £165m
10. Sir Ridley and Tony Scott (Film directors), £110m
11. Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne (TV celebrities), £95m
12. Kishmore Lulla and family (Film distributor), £84m
13. Lord Alli (TV producer), £80m
14. Sir Sean Connery (Actor), £80m
15. Judy Craymer (Film and theatre producer), £80m
16. Tracey Ullman and Allan McKeown (Actress/TV producer), £75m
17. Rowan Atkinson (Comedian), £70m
18. Daniel Radcliffe (Actor), £42m
19. Keira Knightley (Actress), £28m
20. Emma Watson (Actress), £22m
It’s TV writer Joe Adalian adding to NYmag.com’s expanding celeb coverage. He’s the latest to leave that sinking ship TheWrap (aka TheCrap) which is having terrible money problems, and wholesale staff turnovers, and persistent inaccuracy woes, not to mention only miniscule web traffic. And I almost forgot to mention its hypocritical content thievery.
EXCLUSIVE: Project X has got tongues wagging in Hollywood. Warner Bros, Todd Phillips and Joel Silver are mobilizing a raunchy comedy with a $12 million budget, a hard R-rating, under that working title. British video/commercials director Nima Nourizadeh will be making his feature directing debut, and Phillips will be the producer and creative godfather.
There are several unusual facets to this film. First, when was the last time Warner Bros spent as low as $12 million on a movie? Second, the real title and the concept are being kept secret–all I can get is that it’s an outrageous high concept–and the filmmakers won’t be distributing full scripts, only watermarked pages to prospective college-aged cast. But the most intriguing part is that the filmmakers are intent that every actor cast in the film will be losing their screen virginity on the project.
While Phillips gave star-making turns to Zach Galifianakis, Bradley Cooper and Ed Helms in The Hangover, that trio would have been vastly overqualified –and too old–to be considered for roles in Project X. So, if you were just in contention to be Captain America or Spider-Man–Hitfix today reports that Logan Lerman is going to get the latter role–you’re probably too well known to be in this picture. Poised for a breakthrough after your TV series goes on hiatus? Fuggedaboudit. Got a couple of national TV commercials on your reel? You might be overexposed. Warners and the filmmakers want to line the picture …
Fox has ordered yet another season of Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant insult show, it was announced today by Mike Darnell, President of Alternative Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company. This comes just as his U.S. company, Gordon Ramsay New York, has been listed by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance as among the Big Apple’s top 250 business “delinquent tax payers”.
From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: Piers Morgan, one of the judges on America’s Got Talent, has compiled his list of the top 100 UK celebrities. It’s clearly a case of the Mail On Sunday aping the Sunday Times’ influential Rich List. Except with showbiz names. And guess who Morgan has voted the biggest UK celebrity in the world? Why, none other than his boss Simon Cowell. Guess he knows which side his bread is buttered.
Morgan, who over here presents ITV’s top-rated chat show, edited the tabloid Daily Mirror and was showbiz editor of Murdoch’s The Sun. I won’t repeat the several bags of manure he pours over the celebrities he’s listing. What’s more interesting are the celebs he’s left out. No Christian Bale? No Sir Ian McKellen? No Sting? Anyway, here are the names most relevant to Hollywood:
1. Simon Cowell (TV show judge)
2. David Beckham (Footballer)
6. Robert Pattinson (Actor)
7. Sir Paul McCartney (Musician)
8. Kate Moss (Model)
11. Jamie Oliver (TV cook)
12. Dame Helen Mirren (Actress)
15. Victoria Beckham (Fashion designer)
16. Keira Knightley (Actress)
18. Daniel Craig (Actor)
21. Sir Elton John (Musician)
26. Sacha Baron Cohen (Comedian)
27. Russell Brand (Comedian)
38. Kate Winslet (Actress)
42. Hugh Laurie (Actor)
44. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (Musicians)
47. Clive Owen (Actor)
49. Sir Anthony Hopkins (Actor)
51. Ricky Gervais (Comedian)
52. Hugh Grant (Actor)
54. Gordon Ramsay (TV cook)
55. Sharon Osborne and Ozzy Osborne (TV show judge and musician)
56. Daniel Day-Lewis (Actor)
58. Sir Michael Caine (Actor)
61. Lord Lloyd Webber (Musician)
62. Daniel Radcliffe (Actor)
63. Emma Watson (Actress)
64. Nigella Lawson (TV cook)
65. Dame Judi Dench (Actress)
70. Jason Statham (Actor)
72. Rowan Atkinson …
Here’s a shameless plug for primetime TV fan traffic… He’s delivering ABC its best Bachelor ratings in recent years. Tonight is the finale, and I’ve just learned that airline pilot Jake Pavelka is joining the next installment of Dancing Of The Stars later this month. Also joining from the reality world will be Kate Gosselin and, from the Olympics, gold medal winning figure skater Evan Lysacek. (No, he won’t be partnered with sore loser Evgeni Plushenko…) Also Cincinnati Bengal Chad Ochocinco, Shannen Doherty, ESPN sportscaster Erin Andrews, Pussycat Doll frontwoman Nicole Scherzinger, soap star Aiden Turner, comedian Niecy Nash, Pamela Anderson and Buzz Aldrin. If I wanted to lose brain cells and watch this show, it sounds like a better-than-average line-up.