They’re baaaack: the ducks on the Fox lot! After winning over the hearts of News Corp employees last spring, Mama Duck, named Harriet, made a return with a new flock of cute ducklings this year. When I was entering the Fox lot today, the security guard at the gate greeted me with a warning: “Drive carefully, we have ducks!” Indeed, Mom was perched on the pen built for the fowl last year, watching over her 7 napping offspring by the fountain in front of the Fox network building. After calling Animal Control last year and being told that the ducks can’t be moved by law, Fox employees took over the bird care. The loss of three ducklings to crows and owls even prompted workers to implement a volunteer guard system of two-hour shifts on weekends when security guards were not around. The weekend shifts now continue, and only one duckling has been lost so far. The ducks have been and still are the biggest celebrities on the lot, with people stopping by to take pictures. They certainly got a lot more attention than Leonardo DiCaprio who was having a quiet lunch at the Fox commissary.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce misspelled Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ name when she received a star along the Hollywood Walk Of Fame today. UPDATE: “You should know they fixed the star before the dedication,” an exec tells me. “It was just incorrect when we arrived.” The mistake was made on “Louis,” which was spelled “Luis,” a person present said. Louis-Dreyfus thought it was hilarious and didn’t mind keeping the typo in, but the Chamber of Commerce people ripped up the sign and redid it in time for the dedication ceremony. Louis-Dreyfus didn’t address the mishap in her speech — but the Chamber of Commerce rep did, noting this was only the 2nd time in history that a person’s name was misspelled on their Hollywood Walk of Fame star. (He wouldn’t say who the other victim was, but word is it was Dick Van Dyke.)
It’s just been brought to my attention that, while they were Harvard undergraduates, Jeff Zucker ’86 called the cops on Conan O’Brien ’85. (I never saw previous reports about this.) According to articles in both the Harvard Crimson and Yale Daily News, Zucker, then president of the university’s Harvard Crimson daily newspaper, dispatched the police to the Harvard Lampoon office after O’Brien, who was president of the campus humor magazine, organized a prank on his college rival — stealing an entire print run of the Crimson before it could be distributed. ”He only forgave me when I gave him The Tonight Show,” Zucker told a Yale gathering back in 2005. The Harvard Crimson described the incident this way in a 2004 article about Conan landing The Tonight Show courtesy of Zucker: “O’Brien cut his teeth in comedy as president of The Harvard Lampoon, a semi-secret Sorrento Square social organization that used to occasionally publish a so-called humor magazine. In fact, O’Brien first met Zucker, his current boss, one day when O’Brien and the Lampoon editors stole all the copies of that morning’s Crimson. Zucker, then Crimson President, called the police and met O’Brien face to face while he was being arrested.” In 2001, Conan told The New Yorker this about the incident: “College pranks are supposed to be clever, but our rivalry with the Crimson had degenerated into us stealing something, Jeff calling the police, and the police making us haul it back,” said O’Brien. (Other …
So today producer Mark Canton was seen screaming at Kate Mantilini’s maitre’d. “Do you know who I am? Mark Canton! You can look up my credits!” Now, I go to that restaurant all the time, and the people who work there couldn’t be nicer. And I confirmed the details of what happened. The staff told me the one-time studio exec has been using Kate’s to hold industry meetings, but not to eat the food. So when the eatery was full today, and Canton was between meetings, the maitre’d asked if Mark was actually going to order lunch this time around or just talk business again. That’s when Canton became enraged and started making a spectacle of himself. What an asshole.
First, Transformers franchise starlet Megan Fox Megan Fox promotes Twentieth’s Jennifer’s Body in Wonderland magazine by accusing Michael Bay of wanting to “create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for.” Now, Woody Harrelson, while promoting Sony’s Zombieland, similarly accuses Rupert Murdoch:
PLAYBOY: You talk a lot about corporate greed, but do you ever feel a conflict working for giant corporations as an actor? Your other big new movie, 2012, is a gargantuan Sony product.
WOODY HARRELSON: Yeah, there’s definitely a conflict, though I don’t look at Sony as a terrible corporation the way, for example, Fox is. Fox is bad news. I do not like Rupert Murdoch. He’s like Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda guy. Murdoch is waving the flag not because he gives a shit about it but because he just wants to make money. It seems to be tried and true for him, though now I guess his empire’s taken a bit of a hit.
I’m told it was a very amicable and mutual decision since she’s been dividing her time between Los Angeles and Aspen (as well as her beloved Africa). After being mentored in the movie biz by director Mike Nichols, Luttrell joined ICM in 1983 when it bought her agency, Robinson/Luttrell and Associates. “Why it worked as long as it did dates back to her early agent years when Martha’s relationships with artists were bonded both professionally and personally,” one longtime pal tells me. “Somehow Martha was able to keep those kinds of relationships going within the structure of a large company. She also demonstrated that an agent could be in business with people over the course of their careers.” Her friends tell me that as committed as she was to her career, she was never consumed by it – and as much time as she found for the movie industry she also found time to enjoy the things that engaged her personally like her great passion for Africa and its national parks.
ICM Chairman/CEO Jeff Berg said in a statement: “We have tremendous respect for Martha and what she has accomplished for the agency and her clients. After working with her for so many years, she will be greatly missed.” Noted Luttrell: “My years at ICM have been extremely rewarding. I have loved my work, and I thank Jeff and my colleagues for being so supportive of my desire to retire. According to ICM, her clients including Susan Sarandon, Judy Davis, Sam Shepard, and Stephen Rea will …
My photographer Jim Stevenson went around to local Los Angeles theaters snapping pictures of The Dark Knight fans dressed up in their Batman and Joker best. You gotta love these dedicated fanboys turning out in droves for their fave pic.
And a proud father just sent me this pic of his 6-year-old son Ethan MacRae in line for the 12:45AM show:
EXCLUSIVE: It’s not officially announced yet, but I’m told that Marvel Studios and Iron Man director Jon Favreau have reached a deal for him to helm the sequel, due out in 2010. (Robert Downey Jr had a sequel clause in his contract so he’s on board.) Marvel Studios boss David Maisel was quick to put out a “definitely” richer offer to Favreau, but not quick enough for Jon — who used the Internet and other media to rile up the movie’s many fans who spread nonsense that Marvel was dragging its feet and then lowballing him. Granted Maisel is no day at the beach himself, but couldn’t Favreau have refrained from negotiating in public and left the bargaining to his powerful agency CAA? (FYI, I earlier posted that he acted like an asshole, but he’s not…)
I’m told Fox is really pissed that Eddie Murphy didn’t show up for his own Meet Dave premiere last night. People around Eddie told the studio that he ran late shooting a film for DreamWorks’ A Thousand Words – whereas Brian Robbins, the director of both movies, did make the premiere, too. (There are pictures to prove it!) But here’s what galls: I’ve learned that the only reason Fox did the premiere at all was because Murphy insisted on one! So sources from Eddie’s camp say that’s ”ridiculous”. Oops, I don’t think this marriage (dating back to Dr. Dolittle 1 and 2) can be saved.
Sony Pictures now has a hefty $24.2 million total domestic gross in 1 1/2 days for its dramedy Hancock starring Will Smith and directed by Peter Berg: $6.8M Tuesday (from two evening shows starting at 7 PM at 3,680 North American theaters) and $17.3M Wednesday (from its full run in 3,965 venues for its official opening). I hear Sony is hoping for rain on July 4th around the country because it’s traditionally not a big moviegoing day. Still, Hancock should have no trouble getting to $100M and maybe to $115M for the 5-day holiday.
See my full story and analysis here:
Will Smith’s ‘Hancock’ Off To Fast Start: Predicted $115M High For July 4th Wkd
First, let me emphasize that this came about by accident the other evening when Harvey Weinstein’s office refuse was dumped in a recycling bin in Tribeca. So Village Voice newspaper editor Tony Ortega seized it and then wrote an article about the garbage of a movie mogul. What a totally revolting but also utterly fascinating look at Weinstein, who fortunately had a sense of humor about it even though he wasn’t happy about it. But don’t worry: Ortega went to Staples and bought Harv a shredder.
See Trash Talking With Harvey Weinstein
This has truly turned out to be the indie film shoot from hell. The political comedy Nailed, directed and co-written by David O. Russell and starring Jessica Biel and Jake Gyllenhaal, was shut down by IATSE on Friday for the same reasons as before: crew not getting paid. I can’t imagine why anyone would do business with David Bergstein’s Capitol Films again because of all the financing turmoil…
Given that Grand Theft Auto IV blew away the global retail sales record, a day doesn’t go by that I’m not asked about when it’s going to be made into a movie. Of course, that happens with every best-selling video game. But this isn’t a case of the project veering horribly off track like, say, Halo. Nah, this is something altogether different. I’ve learned that Fox Atomic owns the rights to Grand Theft Auto. But to the movie title, not the game. It was, of course, Ron Howard who wrote and directed and starred in the little pic Grand Theft Auto back in 1977 for Roger Corman. So Fox optioned the rights for the Howard/Corman movie title a while back. A studio insider clarifies for me: “Yes, Fox owns the Corman movie. Yes, it has been one of 400 development projects for several years. But they are nowhere on the script. It has certainly not been a front-burner project.” Strangely, the success of the video game hasn’t put any new impetus on the studio to formulate a plan. And it doesn’t matter that a supposed legal settlement over the game/movie/title dictates that Rockstar can’t make a Grand Theft Auto movie or Corman/Howard/Fox a video game out of the title. C’mon, the movie can still shrewdly piggyback off the game’s global branding. Here’s my idea: Fox for old times sake should offer the project to Ron Howard since GTA jump-started his directorial career. Then let him incubate as a producer a new …
I keep forgetting to report that the old CAA building designed by I.M. Pei, complete with its Roy Lichtenstein mural, is back in the hands of Michael Ovitz. Both his ex-partners Ron Meyer and Bill Haber recently sold to him their financial interests in the Beverly Hills landmark at the corner of Little Santa Monica and Wilshire Blvds about the same time that CAA stopped paying on the old lease. (Remember, I posted way back when that CAA moved to Century City despite still owing rent on the Pei digs. Talk about cash flow problems…) Ovitz, who personally brown-nosed Pei to design the monument to agency power, was desperate to gain sole custody. Now that Ovitz has the edifice back, I hear he’s probably leasing office space to Sony BMG Music. My favorite story about the building is when Ovitz had a time-lapse camera mounted in the parking lot of Budget Rent-a-Car directly across the street from the construction site to film the step-by-step progress of the headquarters and make a movie of the building’s birth. One of CAA’s star directors, Joel Schumacher, even agreed to direct with famed Billy Weber to edit and no less than John Williams to score. When news of the film project swept through the entertainment community shortly before CAA was to move into the building on July 28th, 1989, the jokes came fast and furious. So did the jibes, the most brutal of which was that I.M. Pei had unwittingly become “the Albert Speer of Hollywood.” The movie idea was dropped.
So now we know with whom David Geffen has been negotiating all these many months. And the newest Hollywood mogul names to put on speed dial are Rajesh Sawhney and Anil Dhirubhai Ambani (one of the world’s Top 10 richest men). I can confirm that DreamWorks has secured $500 million to $600 million from India’s media and entertainment conglomerate Reliance ADA, specifically its Reliance Big Entertainment, and then will add $500 million to $600 million in debt for what will be a total $1.2 billion financing for its new independent film company. I’m told that DreamWorks 2.0 (yes, the principals get back the name) will make about 6 movies a year when it liberates Steven Spielberg from Viacom Inc’s Paramount and all the acrimony of that relationship of the past few years. There’s no need for DreamWorks to negotiate a distribution deal for a while, but I’m told that Fox, Universal and Disney would be in the running. Because of Spielberg’s long history with Universal and the fact his office never moved off the lot, I’ve always assumed DreamWorks would return there. But DreamWorks has a lot of ties to Fox, including Geffen’s close relationship with Rupert Murdoch and Spielberg’s with Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman Tom Rothman.
Meanwhile, DreamWorks and Paramount will battle over Spielberg’s exit and all that joint development. Unentangling could really cost Viacom Inc’s movie studio. Here’s why: Spielberg has the right to terminate his contract as soon as October (because of a key man clause …