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40-Year Vet Gene Shalit Exits NBC’s ‘Today’

By | Tuesday November 9, 2010 @ 4:15pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATE: A tribute to Gene Shalit will air on Thursday on Today.

Gene Shalit will be leaving NBC’s Today show where he has been a fixture for the past 40 years. Shalit will make his final appearance (for now) on the top-rated morning program on Thursday. Shalit joined Today in 1970 as a regular contributor until he replaced Joe Garagiola in 1973 as arts editor and critic focusing on movie reviews and celebrity interviews. “Gene is not just a ‘Today’ show treasure but a television legend and an American icon,” Today executive producer Jim Bell said. “We salute him for his unprecedented 40-year run on a single television program, a feat unlikely to ever be matched.” Said Shalit, “It’s enough already.”

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‘Modern Family’, ‘Glee’ & ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Lead TCA Awards Nominations

By | Thursday June 3, 2010 @ 7:55pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

MODERN-FAMILY-Undeck-the-Halls-550x366The TV Critics Association went for changing of the guard with the nominations for its annual awards. Freshman comedy Modern Family was the most nominated program with 5 noms, followed closely by another hot freshman, Glee, and drama Breaking Bad. Meanwhile, awards darlings 30 Rock and Mad Men didn’t fare well. 30 Rock was shut out completely, while Mad Men landed only one nomination. In addition to  Modern Family, Glee and Breaking Bad, departing veteran Lost and critically lauded but low-rated Friday Night Lights made the cut in the top Program Of the Year category. Other underdogs that made a big showing: Sons of Anarchy, Party Down and Parks and Recreation each earned two noms, as many as CBS’ new drama The Good Wife and hot comedy The Big Bang Theory. Here is the complete list of the nominees. The winners will be announced on July 31.

Program of the year:

Breaking Bad (AMC)

Friday Night Lights (DirecTV/NBC)
Glee (Fox)

Lost (ABC)

Modern Family (ABC)

Outstanding achievement in drama:

Breaking Bad (AMC)

Lost (ABC)

Mad Men (AMC)

Sons of Anarchy (FX)

The Good Wife (CBS)

Outstanding achievement in comedy:

Glee (Fox)

Modern Family (ABC)

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Party Down (Starz)

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Outstanding new program:

Glee (Fox)

Justified (FX)

Modern Family (ABC)

Parenthood (NBC)

The Good Wife (CBS)

Individual achievement in drama:

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, AMC)

John Lithgow (Dexter, Showtime)

Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife, CBS)

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, AMC)

Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy, FX)

Individual achievement in comedy:

Ty … Read More »

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Roger Ebert, Demi Moore Ready To Tell Tales In Memoirs

By | Tuesday May 18, 2010 @ 4:26am PDT
Mike Fleming

People Roger EbertThe film critic Roger Ebert and actress Demi Moore are looking to write their memoirs. Ebert has set a deal with Grand Central Publishing for a book that will include his run with At the Movies co-host Gene Siskel,  the battle against cancer that robbed him of speech but not his fire as a writer, and his stints as the screenwriter of the films Beneath the Valley of the Dolls, and Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens. I always felt that Ebert’s appreciation of B-fare has been one of the reasons his intelligent reviews aren’t condescending.  That book’s coming in fall, 2011.

At the same time, Demi Moore has Janklow-Nesbit  shopping her memoirs.  She certainly has a story to tell, from her ascension from the Brat Pack to superstar status after Ghost and A Few Good Men (she was momentarily Hollywood’s top-paid actress, unfortunately in the bomb Striptease), to her relationships with Bruce Willis and Ashton Kutcher and her decision to pull away from the studio machine to raise her family. demi-moore-20061202-184839Moore also went through a self-indulgent period after she became a superstar. I can recall writing in my Variety column about how she arrived at an airport to be flown by private jet to a press junket for one of her films. She took a look at the jet, decided it wasn’t big enough for her luggage and … Read More »

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Another Fired Variety Film Critic Lands

By | Tuesday May 4, 2010 @ 12:39pm PDT

variety-xed-out.JPGFirst, Todd McCarthy lands and now Derek Elley, Variety’s former senior international critic who’s joining Film Business Asia. Elley, who was with Variety for 20 years, was fired in March along with McCarthy.

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Ebert Honored As Webby Man Of The Year

By | Tuesday May 4, 2010 @ 9:18am PDT
Mike Fleming

Roger Ebert, who has refused to allow cancer to silence him, finding a new voice online, was named Man of the Year in the 14th annual WEBBY Awards. Ebert was honored for raising the bar for online journalism for his blog Roger Ebert’s Journal.

Ebert just came out guns a blazin’ against 3D in a fascinating Newsweek opinion piece that shows he’s lost little off his fastball.

Why I Hate 3D (And You Should Too)

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Todd McCarthy Lands At IndieWire

By | Thursday April 29, 2010 @ 7:54pm PDT

todd mccarthyHollywood will be pleased to know that longtime Variety lead film critic Todd McCarthy, who was laid off by the trade two months ago, has found an outlet for his reviews at IndieWire. He “will not be silenced,” the venue just announced. “At Todd McCarthy’s Deep Focus, we will work with Todd to build an even larger audience for his work: reviews and dispatches on film from his home in Los Angeles and at festivals around the world.” Meanwhile, Variety head Neil Stiles told me at the time of McCarthy’s Variety xed outlayoff that it was the cost-cutting decision of editor Tim Gray. I told Neil it was a pisspoor allocation of Variety‘s limited resources. Because at least Hollywood reads McCarthy. Unlike the useless Brian Lowry, who makes $200,000+ at Variety but never breaks any news about the TV biz in his lame column.

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People Hires From EW For New Film Critic

By | Monday April 19, 2010 @ 10:59am PDT
Mike Fleming

People Magazine has hired a new film critic to replace Leah Rozen, the mag’s critic since 1997 who took a buyout late last year. The gig went to Alynda Wheat, who spent the last six years at Entertainment Weekly. Rosen’s exit came at a time when media was lamenting the death of film criticism. While things haven’t improved that much — the big shocker for me was the exit of my former Daily Variety colleague Todd McCarthy — any fear that People would phase out reviews is dispelled by this hire. I must confess she was not on my reviewer radar (frankly, I never heard of her), but it’s not surprising that People would hire from within the Time Inc magazine family.

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Movieline Appoints New Chief Film Critic

By | Monday April 12, 2010 @ 12:59pm PDT

NEW YORK – April 12, 2010 – Movieline.com [which, like Deadline, is owned by MMC] has appointed one of the top film critics in America, Stephanie Zacharek, to its lineup of award-winning writers and editors. A member of the New York Film Critics Circle and The National Society of Film Critics, Zacharek for the past 10 years has been a senior writer and film critic for Salon.com. She writes for The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, New York magazine and Sight and Sound. Her work was featured in the 2006 “American Movie Critics,” edited by Philip Lopate, and she was a contributor to “A New Literary History of America,” published by Harvard University Press in 2009.

Read the full news release here.

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BBC Names New Host Of Film Review Show

By | Thursday April 1, 2010 @ 2:11am PDT

From Deadline|London editor Tim Adler: The Beeb has named Claudia Winkleman as the new presenter of Film 2010, its influential movie review show. Film is the British equivalent of At the Movies. The show’s been running since 1972. Until now it’s just been a presenter talking to camera, interspersed with film clips. Now there’s going to be more of an Industry slant, with experts and studio guests. Let’s see how she reviews Disney’s The Debt – she’s married to its producer, Kris Thykier.

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Disney Cancels Syndicated ‘At The Movies’

By | Wednesday March 24, 2010 @ 8:43pm PDT

Goodbye Nepotism, Hello Competence: New Critics For ‘At The Movies’
Contract Disputes End Ebert-Roeper

at the moviesUPDATE: This is the show that started with Chicago newspaper critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Then stayed on the air with Ebert and Richard Roeper. Then almost went down the drain with lightweights Ben & Ben (Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, the two beneficiaries of nepotism). Then recently tried to resurrect itself with two heavyweights: The New York Times‘ A.O. “Tony” Scott and The Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips. Now the show is R.I.P. Here’s the statement from distributor Disney/ABC Domestic TV:

After 24 seasons with us in national syndication, the highly regarded movie review show “At the Movies” (formerly known as “Siskel & Ebert” and “Ebert & Roeper”) will air its last original broadcast the weekend of August 14, 2010. “This was a very difficult decision, especially considering the program’s rich history and iconic status within the entertainment industry, but from a business perspective it became clear this weekly, half-hour, broadcast syndication series was no longer sustainable. We gratefully acknowledge the outstanding work of the program’s current co-hosts A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips and top-notch production staff, and it is with heartfelt appreciation that we extend very special thanks to the two brilliant, visionary and incomparable critics that started it all, Roger

Read More »

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Can Critics Kill Broadway-Bound Musicals?

By | Wednesday March 10, 2010 @ 2:24pm PST
Mike Fleming

broadway1An oft-asked question — do reviewers matter anymore? — was the subject of lunchtime chatter today in theater circles, after the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Love Never Dies was pummeled by The New York Times reviewer Ben Brantley. Some wondered if the blows were enough to impact plans for a November Broadway bow of the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, which got mixed reviews in London papers. While Lloyd Webber comes closest to critic proof on Broadway, even his name isn’t always enough in this fragile Broadway climate. He’s hedging his bets, at least when it comes to a revival of the Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical Evita that will come to Broadway in 2011-2012. I’ve heard that Ricky Martin has committed for a year-long run as Che Guevara. He’s no stunt casting–Martin has stage experience that includes Les Miserables–but he’s protection for backers who want Elena Rogers to play Eva Peron. She doesn’t have the name recognition here and Evita isn’t as branded as Phantom of the Opera is.

adlSeveral said the Love Never Dies review might be enough to sink many shows, especially those that don’t have big stars. Lloyd Webber and his Phantom brand are the draws–not Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, who play the London leads. The shows doing best right now are the ones with stars. Both the Daniel Craig-Hugh Jackman play A Steady Rain and the … Read More »

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Broadcast Film Critics Award ‘Hurt Locker’

By | Saturday January 16, 2010 @ 12:42am PST

Here’s the list of winners at the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s 15th annual Critics’ Choice Awards, held on Friday at the Hollywood Palladium:
BEST PICTURE – “The Hurt Locker”
BEST ACTOR – Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart”)
BEST ACTRESS (tie) – Meryl Streep (“Julie & Julia”), Sandra Bullock (“The Blind Side”)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR – Christoph Waltz (“Inglourious Basterds”)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS – Mo’Nique (“Precious”)
BEST YOUNG ACTOR/ACTRESS – Saoirse Ronan (“The Lovely Bones”)
BEST ACTING ENSEMBLE – “Inglourious Basterds”
BEST DIRECTING – Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”)
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY – “Inglourious Basterds” (Quentin Tarantino)
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY – “Up in the Air” (Jason Reitman)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY – “Avatar”
BEST ART DIRECTION – “Avatar”
BEST EDITING – “Avatar”
BEST COSTUME DESIGN – “The Young Victoria”
BEST MAKEUP – “District 9″
BEST VISUAL EFFECTS – “Avatar”
BEST SOUND – “Avatar”
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE – “Up”
BEST ACTION MOVIE – “Avatar”
BEST COMEDY – “The Hangover”
BEST PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION – “Grey Gardens”
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – “Broken Embraces”
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE – “The Cove”
BEST SONG – “The Weary Kind” from “Crazy Heart,” by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett
BEST SCORE – “Up” (Michael Giancchio)

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Flixster Buying IGN’s Rotten Tomatoes: Is This “Online Movie Category Domination”?

By | Monday January 4, 2010 @ 12:50pm PST

Flixster Inc, the privately held San Francisco company, made the announcement this morning. In case you don’t know, Flixster Rotten TomatoesFlixster is a movie rating website, and Rotten Tomatoes is also a movie ratings site that focuses less on social networking and more on critical response and aggregation. Both sites say they’ll continue to operate as separate properties, though probably with lots of synergy like integrated data. Combined, Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes claim they’ll reach an estimated 30 million monthly visitors worldwide across several Web platforms — their sites, other social-networking sites and applications for mobile devices. They say they’ll have a database of more than 250,000 movies, 2.3 billion user reviews, half a million critic reviews and more than 20,000 trailers and videos. Before the acquisition, Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes had partnered in several areas, including a recent deal that syndicates critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes to Flixster’s online movie community, both on the Web and via Flixster’s mobile apps.

“Rotten Tomatoes has built a fantastically well-known brand that moviegoers trust when making their decisions. Combined with Flixster’s social networking and word-of-mouth, we’re creating the leading movie destination on the Internet, ” said Flixster President/COO Steve Polsky. News reports say the deal comes as IGN is working to refocus its efforts to build out its portfolio of video game-related and men’s-lifestyle offerings.

“Joining Rotten Tomatoes with Flixster creates a company that can dominate the online movie category,” said Roy Bahat, … Read More »

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Los Angeles Film Critics 2009 Awards: Best Picture & Director For ‘The Hurt Locker’

By | Sunday December 13, 2009 @ 12:30pm PST

lafcaLOS ANGELES, DECEMBER 13, 2009 – The Hurt Locker was voted Best Picture of the Year, it was announced today by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA). The runner up was Up In The Air. The 35th annual Los Angeles Film Critics Association awards ceremony will be held January 16th:

PICTURE: The Hurt Locker (Summit Entertainment)
Runner-up: Up In The Air (Paramount)

DIRECTOR: Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
Runner-up: Michael Haneke, The White Ribbon (Sony Classics)

ACTRESS: Yolande Moreau, Séraphine (Music Box Films)
Runner-up: Carey Mulligan, An Education (Sony Pictures Classics)

ACTOR: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart (Fox Searchlight)
Runner-up: Colin Firth, A Single Man (Weinstein Co)

ANIMATION: Fantastic Mr. Fox (Fox)
Runner-up: Up (Disney)

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: Summer Hours (IFC Films)
Runner-up: The White Ribbon

NEW GENERATION: Neill Blomkamp, District 9 (Sony)

MUSIC/SCORE: T-Bone Burnett and Stephen Bruton, Crazy Heart
Runner-up: Alexandre Desplat, Fantastic Mr. Fox

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Philip Ivey, District 9
Runner-up: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg, Avatar (Fox)

CINEMATOGRAPHY: Christian Berger, The White Ribbon
Runner-up: Barry Ackroyd, The Hurt Locker

SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Mo’Nique, Precious (Lionsgate)
Runner-up: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds (Weinstein/Universal)
Runner-up: Peter Capaldi, In the Loop (IFC Films)

SCREENPLAY: Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
Runner-up: Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci and Tony Roche, In the Loop

DOCUMENTARY/NON-FICTION FILM: (tie) The Beaches of Agnès (Cinema Guild) and The Cove (Roadside Attractions)

DOUGLAS E. EDWARDS INDEPENDENT/EXPERIMENTAL FILM/VIDEO: C.W. Winter and Anders Edstrom, The Anchorage

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GOODBYE NEPOTISM, HELLO COMPETENCE: New Big-Time Critics For ‘At The Movies’

By | Thursday August 6, 2009 @ 5:49am PDT

I and many other Hollywood journalists were sufficiently outraged when, one year ago, Disney/ABC’s movie criticism show once hosted by Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel, and then Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper, was put into the unworthy hands of Ben Lyons and Ben Mankiewicz, both of whose primary claim to fame was nepotism. Fortunately for viewers, At the Movies now has jettisoned the two lightweights for two heavyweights again starting September 7th: The New York Times‘ A.O. “Tony” Scott (photo, left) and The Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips (photo, right). “We are thrilled that A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips will be lending their well-respected and influential voices to At the Movies,” Daytime president Brian Frons said in a statement. “They are regarded by millions of people as authorities in film criticism and will take the series back to its roots of one-on-one film debate that was established when the show first began with Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.” My question: Which of them is going to plug every Disney pic? Or will they take turns?

Contract Disputes End Ebert-Roeper Duo: Claim To Fame Of New Hosts Is Nepotism

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DHD On Page 1 Of The New York Times…

By | Thursday July 16, 2009 @ 10:41pm PDT

The article about DeadlineHollywoodDaily.com by NYT media columnist David Carr for Friday is online. It claims I’m “thuggish”. So thug this: I’ll be back to work on Monday.

UPDATE: Interesting commentary on the piece by FAIR (Fairness And Accuracy In Reporting) here.

2ND UPDATE: The article has several errors. This is the most glaring: When I began my website in March 2006, I had not “run low on money and options” as Carr claims. Just the opposite. I had been an award-winning columnist with LA Weekly for four years. 2002 is when my career hit the skids, the year I sued Disney, News Corp, and the New York Post to fight for a journalist’s freedom to write accurately about the business and advertising partners of Big Media.

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LA Times’ New Film Critic Speaks Out…

By | Tuesday December 16, 2008 @ 4:52pm PST

Los Angele Times‘ Calendar journos have always had high praise for entertainment editor Betsy Sharkey (whom I’ve known since she wrote for Ad Age). She’s been described to me as knowledgeable, competent, feisty and over-protective of her writers beyond what they deserved (i.e. when mistakes were made, she helped cover them up…) So the LAT bosses should have hog-tied to her desk when she came back from book leave (co-writing an autobiography of Marlee Matlin) and LAT’s film reviewers. “I love writing, and I love film, and when I came back I started talking to [editor] Russ Stanton about it,” Sharkey told me today. ”Maybe it’ll be an absolute disaster. But I think I’ve got a good mind, and I think I know film. In any case, I’m thrilled and could not be happier.” But will LA Times‘ readers?

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Israel’s Oscar Bid: ‘Waltz With Bashir’

By | Tuesday September 23, 2008 @ 3:02pm PDT

waltz-with-bashir-01.jpg 

You may recall that last year the Israeli Academy of Motion Pictures chose The Band’s Visit as the country’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Oscar only to see it disqualified by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for having too much English dialogue. The runner-up, Beaufort, then became the first Israeli film to grab an Oscar nomination in 24 years. Israeli film blogger Yair Raveh tells me that this year Israel’s pick is Waltz With Bashir which debuted in Cannes to much buzz, played at the Toronto and Telluride film fests, and tonight swept the Israel’s Academy Awards so it automatically becomes that country’s AMPAS Oscar pick. Picked up by Sony Pictures Classics, it’s an animated film based on writer-producer-director Ari Folman’s real-life memories – or lack thereof – of the first Lebanon war in 1982. (This is Folman’s 2nd movie to win Israel’s Academy Award; 1st was 1997’s Saint Clara.)

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UK TV Producers Slam ABC Studios Memo

By | Monday August 11, 2008 @ 10:36am PDT

Remember that bombshell ABC Studios memo leaked to me that was a blatant blueprint for ripping off foreign format ideas? Well, now UK television producers and executives are slamming it and also investigating it. The Guardian newspaper today reported that the UK producers’ trade body “Pact” was “looking into it”. Giving me a shout-out, the paper said the memo is being circulated around UK independent producers who fear it may signal a shift in the “modus operandi” between producers and broadcasters. The paper noted that UK producers, such as BBC Worldwide and RDF Media, do huge amounts of business with ABC, with shows like Supernanny, Wife Swap and Dancing With The Stars all airing on the network. (See my previous, Bombshell ABC Studios Memo Is Blatant Blueprint To Rip Off Foreign TV Series.)

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