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Nice Airport Reopens After Sunday Closure

By | Monday May 10, 2010 @ 9:05am PDT

Icelandic volcanoTravel alert for Cannes Film Festival goers: the nearest airport in Nice has reopened after the French authorities grounded outgoing flights on Sunday night. Authorities were still worried about drifting clouds of volcanic ash from Iceland. Flights from North America are still being rerouted around ash clouds over the Atlantic though, adding hours onto flight times to France. European air safety body Eurocontrol said the ash cloud had dispersed enough to reopen southern airports.

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Flight Ban Cuts Book Meetings By 80%

By | Wednesday April 21, 2010 @ 9:47am PDT

Pile of BooksThis week’s London Book Fair almost sank because of the European flight ban. Those who did manage to attend the annual event said between 50-80% of meetings had been cancelled. Around 15% of seminars were scrapped. “For me, the biggest lack has been the Americans,” says literary agent Julian Friedmann of Blake Friedmann.

Alistair Burtenshaw, director of the LBF, says the number of attendees was down by at least one third. Burtenshaw has praised the “Dunkirk spirit” demonstrated by everybody.

Mike Jones, Simon & Schuster’s non-fiction editorial director, tells me half of his appointments were cancelled. “I think it was hugely affected,” he says. “It was it has to be said, very quiet.”

Literary agent Ali Gunn adds, “The volcano eruption had a devastating effect not only on travel but also on UK trade. The LBF looked more like the deck of the Titanic without Leonardo DiCaprio. I bumped into only one senior American editor when normally the fair would be awash with publishers from the US and all around the world.”

Gunn warns that this week’s disaster will have a knock-on effect for publishers. The book trade will have to work harder and longer garnering those key international sales that guarantee a book’s success or failure, she says.

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VOLCANO IMPACTS HOLLYWOOD: ‘Iron Man 2′ Premiere Moved From London To LA

By | Monday April 19, 2010 @ 10:44am PDT

iron man downey1Due to the continuing air travel uncertainty, Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment made the decision today to move the IRON MAN 2 World Premiere and press junket from London to Los Angeles. A press release will be in issued advising details (like whether the starry lineup of Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson and director Jon Favreau expected in London will make it to LA or not). Discussions are in progress about a special screening at the Vue Westfield, the original London venue planned for the World Premiere on April 26th. Blame the volcanic ash that has resulted in a flight ban throughout Europe. It’s also grounded Tuesday’s European charity premiere of The Last Song.

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150 Acres In Santa Barbara Burning

By | Tuesday May 5, 2009 @ 6:27pm PDT

This is an area where a lot of Hollywood types live. Evacuations are being ordered. The fire began in San Roque Canyon in north Santa Barbara..

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‘W.’ Actress Found Beaten And Stabbed

By | Monday October 20, 2008 @ 12:22pm PDT

There is no indication whatsoever that the crime is related to the movie. But Anne Pressly, a Little Rock, Arkansas, TV news reporter who did a blink-and-you-missed-it portrayal of Ann Coulter in Oliver Stone’s W., was discovered in her home this morning beaten and stabbed after an apparent home invasion. She is hospitalized in critical condition. Police do not have a suspect.

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That Was One Big Long Earthquake…

By | Tuesday July 29, 2008 @ 11:45am PDT

UPDATE: Early reports peg it at a 5.8 5.4 at 11:42 AM. My phone service has been interrupted is back to normal (after I pulled out my Juno hamburger phone).
Send me any reports of Hollywood production interruption…

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Uni’s Internal Update On Backlot Fire

By | Thursday June 19, 2008 @ 7:24pm PDT

From: Ron Meyer (NBC Universal)
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 2:57 PM
To: NBC Universal Employee Communications (NBC Universal)
Subject: Universal Studios Backlot Fire UpdateDear Co-Worker,
It has already been a few weeks since our June 1 fire that turned into an event of global interest.  Many witnessed the fire first-hand, but if you didn’t, there was no shortage of information on TV, in newspapers and online.  As with most big stories, there are rumors, speculation and misinformation.  I’m sure a number of you have questions, and I’d like to try and clear up any confusion.
This fire was an unfortunate accident caused by some routine roofing work being performed on a back lot facade on New York Street.  The fire burned most of New York Street, the King Kong attraction, our video vault and some of Courthouse Square.  Due to the quick response and hard work of the firefighters, and to the fact that Station 51 is located right on our back lot, the fire was contained to less than 1% of our property. 
Although our video vault was destroyed, losing thousands of tapes and hundreds of duplicate film prints that we are now in the process of recreating, the vault in which we store our library of films was untouched. The teams are still assessing what was lost and what may have been salvaged, but we do know there will be minimal long-term impact on what we do, as our company has

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Uni Fire Burned 100% Of Archived 35mm Prints; Negatives Still Intact, However; But Art Houses & Film Societies Impacted

By | Tuesday June 3, 2008 @ 2:05pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve confirmed what I first heard on Monday: that Universal Classics has sent out an email to about 35 art house exhibitors and other film bookers of classic films alerting that the Universal Studios fire destroyed nearly 100% of archived 35mm prints kept in the so-called “video” vault on the lot. So, in the short term, Universal has canceled bookings of anything archival coming directly from Universal City and can’t honor any film bookings of prints that were set to ship from there. Let me be clear: I am assured by insiders that the negatives are not affected, thankfully — only the actual 35mm prints used for repertory circulation of classic films. Prints from that very rich vault which also includes pre-1950 Paramount include such classics as Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, Duck Soup, Hell’s Angels, Brides of Dracula, Incredible Shrinking Man, Buck Privates, Hold That Ghost, and so many, many more. Some Industry types are emailing me that, with these prints gone, and the expense of making new prints, they fear that art houses and cultural organizations and film societies and festivals may never see these films theatrically again. But I’m told that Universal has already committed itself to making new prints. Of course, there will be delay and disappointment in the immediate future. But that’s only a timing issue. I’m told it’s possible that some of these prints may have duplicates in storage at other locations. So, over the next few weeks and months, Universal will be piecing together what extra prints, if any, it does … Read More »

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Uni Music Claims “Little Lost” In Vault Fire

By | Monday June 2, 2008 @ 12:10pm PDT

Here’s my latest update with Universal Music’s new claim, which my insiders refute.

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2ND UPDATE: Uni Blaze Burns Music History

By | Sunday June 1, 2008 @ 3:29pm PDT

MONDAY AM UPDATE: Universal Music just gave me a “clarification” on my report regarding UMG’s vault and the Universal Studio fire on Sunday: “Thankfully, there was little lost from UMG’s vault. A majority of what was formerly stored there was moved earlier this year to our other facilities. Of the small amount that was still there and waiting to be moved, it had already been digitized so the music will still be around for many years to come. And in addition to being digitized, physical back up copies of what was still left at that location were made and stored elsewhere. So thankfully, smart care, administration and preparation of these gems prevailed.” So let me get this straight: first there’s no report of irreplaceable damage at the Universal Studios vault, then I find out there’s musical history destruction because of a rental agreement with Universal Music, and now execs it’s only “a little” and not a problem. Funny, because my insiders insist it’s a BIG problem. Universal Music claims that over the past year it had been moving master recordings of its “big name”  musical artists to the giant Iron Mountain, Pennsylvania vault — the same one used by Bill Gates and Microsoft. What was left, Universal Music contends, was only “more obscure artists from the ’40s and the early ’50s.” My final thought: the public may never know the truth.

SUNDAY: It looks like more was damaged or destroyed in today’s Universal Studios fire than anyone previously thought. I’ve learned that Universal Music, which … Read More »

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URGENT! Universal Studios Backlot Fire: NYC Streetscape & King Kong Destroyed; Video Vault Damaged But Film Vault Safe

By | Sunday June 1, 2008 @ 9:07am PDT


UPDATE: Uni Blaze Burns Musical History

A huge fire described as an “inferno” on Universal City’s lower backlot broke out before dawn today and destroyed several buildings, sets and a sound stage and damaged a video vault, causing tens of millions of dollars worth of damage. ”It looked like a bomb had exploded,” one Burbank city official exclaimed. Among the sets damaged were the New York City and New England streetscapes, and among the buildings one housing the King Kong exhibit and one sound stage. In the archives building next door, Universal employees were bringing out hundreds and hundreds of containers of video vault material hand to hand to save it from the flames. Universal Studios president/COO Ron Meyer appeared at a news conference this morning alongside fire department and city and county officials to clarify what was, and wasn’t, damaged or destroyed. Calling the fire fighters “real heroes” who arrived on the scene in  record time while the flames were burning out of , Meyer said he wanted to “make clear” that the theme park was not affacted and would open at noon. What was damaged was the video library, he said. “But our main vault of motion picture negatives was not.” In terms of the videos, “nothing irreplaceable was lost. We have duplicates. Obviously there’s a lot of work to replicate what was lost, but it can be done,” Meyer explained. He also said no shows or movies were affected “at all.” by … Read More »

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Malibu Fire Impacts Actors & Musicians

By | Saturday November 24, 2007 @ 9:51am PST


UPDATE: Matthew McConaughey and Minnie Driver were among those forced to evacuate while Red Hot Chili Peppers bass guitarist Flea’s home was destroyed by a wind-driven wildfire this morning that burned multimillion-dollar homes in Malibu where so many Hollywood players live. malibu-fire2.jpgShortly before 9:30 AM about 35 homes primarily in the Malibu Bowl area had been lost so far. Once again, embers are hopscotching around brush and neighborhoods. At least 200 other homes in Corral and Latigo canyons were threatened by flames, and about 2,200 acres scorched. The good news is that the Santa Ana winds are relaxing around Malibu, gusts of 57 miles an hour now down to 17 miles an hour. And firefighters seem to be getting a handle on the blaze. But there are red flag warnings through the weekend because humidity is down to 10%. TV newscasters were praising the incredible rapid response of the firefighters. Most of the homes lost in the Malibu Bowl area were along Newell Road, Idlewild Way and Ingleside Way, and in the El Nido area. Pacific Coast Highway was mostly closed between Kanan Dume and Malibu Canyon Roads. Pepperdine students have sought shelter on the campus. The fire was first reported about 3:30 AM near Corral Canyon and Mesa Peak Mountain Way.

  • Out-Of-Control Malibu Fire Keeps Burning And Spreading
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    A Preview Of Tonight’s Leno Monologue (…That Is, If He Weren’t On Vacation)

    By | Thursday October 25, 2007 @ 12:51pm PDT

    Headline: “VP Cheney Nods Off During Meeting on California Wildfires”. Video here. I’m told that, unfortunately, Jay and Dave and Conan are all in re-runs this week (because they always take the week before a Sweeps Month off.)

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    More Hollywood Heat From The Fires…

    By | Thursday October 25, 2007 @ 2:52am PDT

    In addition to my own postings about DreamWorks moguls David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg in Malibu during the fires here and here and here, I’ve just combed other news stories and culled this showbiz-related coverage:

    kiefersutherland.jpgPerhaps the hardest-hit entertainment company was Sony Online Entertainment, maker of computer games, which closed its 600-worker office in the Miramar area of fire-affected San Diego.

    Fox’s hot TV series 24 was scheduled to shoot Monday and Tuesday at a shuttered Naval air station in the Orange County city of Irvine but was forced to retreat because smoky conditions made filming impossible. The cast and crew returned to the studio.

    ABC’s new series Big Shots had to reschedule a shoot planned for Tuesday in the Angeles National Forest as well as a cycling sequence in Malibu.

    coldcase3.jpgCBS’ Cold Case had a set in Simi Valley that high winds leveled.

    Production on CBS’ NCIS had a few crew members unable to make it to work because of fire concerns. Otherwise, there was minimal disruption even though the series shoots at a Santa Clarita studio near the so-called Magic Fire in northern Los Angeles County.

    Warner Bros finance executive Tony Rodriguez and his wife returned to their house on a hill above Malibu on Wednesday knowing they would find nothing. The couple were evacuated at 5 am Sunday along with their two dogs. They were watching TV when they saw their newly renovated home go … Read More »

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    David Geffen Shows Class In Malibu Fire

    By | Monday October 22, 2007 @ 2:58pm PDT


    More news from Deal Beach, aka Billionaires Beach. David Geffen, whose Malibu Beach Inn recently underwent a major renovation, has opened the landmark hotel to evacuees for free as well as to firefighters who sleep there in shifts during the inferno. “Why be empty? I’d rather it go to good use,” managing director Alan Goldschneider told Reuters. “They try to throw down money and their credit cards, but we’re not charging a soul. They’re saving our houses.” What a deal, since Geffen shelled out a reported $29 million, or $617,000 for each of the 47 rooms on Pacific Coast Highway. The hotel’s website informs that, despite TV and web reports, ”the Malibu Beach Inn was never in danger during the recent wildfires in the city and, thus, sustained no damage. geffen-katz.jpgWe appreciate your phone calls of concern. The hotel is currently open but priority is given to firefighters and emergency personnel fighting the Malibu Canyon fires.” Meanwhile, I hear David is nervous as hell about whether his own Malibu Cape Cod-style mansion on Carbon Beach will be safe from the flames. His DreamWorks partner Jeffrey Katzenberg, whose home is also on Carbon Beach, is feeling much the same way here.

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    Fire Threatening Malibu’s “Deal” Beach

    By | Monday October 22, 2007 @ 12:33pm PDT

    A foamer on the roof of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s house on Malibu’s Carbon Beach protects it from burning embers. ”It’s been very touch and go for the last 24 hours. It was literally right up to the doorsteps yesterday afternoon,” Katzenberg, chief executive of Dreamworks Animation, told Reuters today. “I’m in Chicago right now, so I don’t know the latest, but it’s obviously very, very scary for all of us out there.”

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    Out-Of-Control Malibu Fire Keeps Burning And Spreading …(Updated Continuously)

    By | Sunday October 21, 2007 @ 7:43am PDT

    malibufire2.jpgwildfire.jpgI’ve just heard that the area around Malibu Pier — which includes David Geffen’s hotel, the newly remodeled Malibu Beach Inn — is now threatened by the swirling Santa Ana wind-fanned flames flowing down the hillside and jumping Pacific Coast Highway. Oracle mogul Larry Ellison owns an incredibly large amount of commercial and residential real estate there as well for a proposed project. malibufire30.jpgThe Malibu Colony Plaza shopping center, right near the famed Malibu Colony residences of so many Hollywood celebs and moguls, got singed today. And there continue to be evacuations from the Colony, and Pepperdine University and many other Malibu neighborhoods of big and small homes, including Sierra Estates, Malibu Crest, Latigo Canyon, Topanga Canyon, Tuna Canyon, Sweetwater Canyon, Puerco Canyon, Monte Nido, Carbon Mesa, Rambla Pacifico and Big Rock. For those who think Malibu is only populated by the rich and famous, dream on. The majority of residents are relatively average folk who bought homes there eons ago and who have most of their wealth tied up in those houses which wildly appreviated in value over the years. (Refresh for latest… Watch live here.)

    The blaze began just hours after presidential candidate Barack Obama was in the area at the Malibu estate of environmentalist Kelly Meyer and Universal prez/COO Ron Meyer, who hosted a major Hollywood fundraiser for the Democrat … Read More »

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    Fire Evacuation Of Gene Autry Museum

    By | Tuesday May 8, 2007 @ 3:29pm PDT

    gene_autry.jpgThat arson suspected blaze ripping through tinder-dry brush in the Hollywood Hills and Griffith Park today, scorching at least 200 acres, has forced the evacuation of the Gene Autry Museum Of Western Heritage dedicated to Hollywood’s beloved “singing cowboy” actor. Also emptied was Griffith Observatory, one of the most famous film and TV locations for Rebel Without a Cause (a bust of star James Dean was placed on the grounds), The Terminator, The Rocketeer and GoldenEye. The blaze started about 1:30 p.m. just east of the famed “Hollywood” sign and quickly raced into the thick brush, pushed by a roughly 10 mph wind. I’ll let you know if it threatens any other Hollywood locations or landmarks.

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    UPDATE: Helicopters Saved The Day! Brush Fire Flaming Out Near Universal Theme Park & Famed Hollywood Sign

    By | Friday March 30, 2007 @ 1:01pm PDT


    unifire.jpg unifire2.jpg

    UPDATED: Helicopters dumping water along the ridgeline saved Hollywood! Only hot spots are burning now thanks to the seven choppers. But, for 1 1/2-hours today, an out of control 150-acre brush fire was ablaze near Universal Theme Park in Universal City, California. Uni people told me there were no evacuations though there were a few minor disruptions, like power going down on a light grid only to be quickly replaced. (However, uni10.jpgI’m told a producer shooting on the Paramount lot nearby called up Uni management blaming them for the blaze and screaming how the fire had messed up his shot — and how he had to put on a blue filter. Jeez, film folk are sure sickos.) But the flames were also moving towards the famed Hollywood sign, where the blaze ran along the top of a steep ridge just dangerously above the landmark. The good news was that winds were low which helped firefighters. There was no damage to nearby structures. No injuries. But the fire burned dangerously close to the Oakwood Apartments where a lot of TV pilot season wannabe actors/actresses/families make their home this time of year. (Here’s LA Weekly video.) Two teens were taken into custody this afternoon in connection with starting the fire first reported at 12:51 p.m. The flames were burning in Dark Canyon in the 3600 block of Barham Boulevard and expanding … Read More »

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