The NBA’s locked-out players rejected the league’s latest offer for a new collective bargaining agreement today, with union executive director Billy Hunter calling the proposed deal “extremely unfair.” He said the players’ association is beginning the process of disbanding the union — the first step in filing an antitrust action against the league and sending the whole mess to the courts. It’s the same tactic the NFL’s players used during their lockout over the summer, but this time the move could jeopardize the entire NBA season; already, the league had cut 10 games from the normal season in a revised schedule as the two sides remain far apart in contract talks. It would mean a big hit on ad revenue for ABC/ESPN, TNT/Turner and regional sports networks that hold lucrative TV rights to games. Commissioner David Stern had called the latest labor offer the league’s best, proposing a 50-50 split in revenue between players and owners. He said the next offer on the table will be much less favorable: a 53-47 split in favor of the league.
NBA commissioner David Stern was hit with questions today about the league’s upcoming negotiations with players on a new collective bargaining agreement. The bottom line: It doesn’t look good. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because the NFL’s labor talks ended last month with the owners locking out the players and the players suing the league. (The two sides in the NFL dispute finished their second day of court-mandated mediation in Minneapolis today as a judge decides whether to grant the players’ injunction request to halt the lockout.)
By all accounts, an NBA labor standoff could make the NFL’s look like backyard touch football. Whereas the NFL’s main sticking point is how to divide $9 billion in revenue, Stern has said the NBA has been losing more than $300 million a season and offered up today during a press conference that this year’s losses could reach that figure again. (Currently, players receive 57% of the league’s gross revenue, which Stern says is unsustainable going forward.) This shortfall is despite lucrative TV broadcast contracts with ESPN/ABC and TNT that go through the 2015-16 season and pay the league more than $900 million a year. Last year’s NBA Finals and this year’s All-Star Game saw big ratings gains, and more of the same is expected for this year’s playoffs, which begin this weekend.
Upstart talent and literary agency Verve was launched almost a year ago by three former Endeavor agents, Bill Weinstein, Bryan Besser and Adam Levine, who left WME several months after the Endeavor-WMA merger. Because of the trio’s pedigree – they are all motion picture lit agents – Verve started building its business on the feature side but has been expanding into TV. And to prove that there is no bad blood between the Verve partners and their former employer, a couple of the TV projects are being done in conjunction with WME. Here are some notable TV sales by Verve clients:
Victoria Strouse (Apostles of Infinite Love, Little Fockers on-set writer) is writing Consulting Adults for NBC, with 20th TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment producing. It is an office show about a team of corporate consultants who advise people on how to fix their companies, even though their personal lives are quite dysfunctional.
Aaron Guzikowski (Prisoners, Contraband) has sold Awake, about a NYC detective stricken with permanent insomnia, to USA Network, with Madhouse’s Adam Kolbrenner and Robyn Meisinger producing. Additionally, Guzikowski is talks with HBO on Descendants. Sarah Condon is producing the project, about a sheriff struggling to police two clashing communities: the small town where he grew up and the neighboring Ramapo Mountains, home of the mysterious Ramapo Mountain Indians.
David Stern (Open Season 2) has teamed with …
A roundup of what else happened today on the deal front: HBO and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are determined to show the versatility of Paul Giamatti. He played American patriot John Adams in the miniseries that won 13 Emmys for Playtone and HBO. Now, they’ve got him playing Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev in K Blows Top, an adaption of the Peter Carlson book that is being scripted as a telepic by Paul Bernbaum. Project was brought