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EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Berg Opens New Agency ‘Resolution’ Monday; UPDATE: Investor ID

EXCLUSIVE UPDATE 7 PM: I can now reveal the identity of Jeff Berg’s principal investor and financial partner. His name is Jahm Najafi, a former Salomon Bros banker active in real estate and private equity with investments in diverse companies and brands. According to news reports, he isn’t in the deal-making stratosphere, but the CEO of Phoenix-based private equity firm Najafi Companies is in the mix of many high-profile deals. MORE BELOW

EXCLUSIVE 1:54 PM: Inside 1801 Century Park East on the entire 23rd floor, Jeff Berg‘s new full-service Resolution agency capitalized with about $200 million is opening its doors on Monday. The offices are still being painted and the Jeff Berg Resolution Hollywood Agencybathrooms are a work in progress. But the longtime ICM Chairman at age 65 just moved into the new space this weekend now that the phones and Internet are up and running and the conference room is finished. Today he’s calling clients. He’s already more than a week ahead of schedule. Over the next six months, Hollywood and New York and Nashville will witness a series of announcements about agents being hired from the top tenpercenteries and midlevel executives being culled from the Industry. Most are still in secret negotiations on Resolution contracts, others are signing non-disclosure agreements, several are in the process of being raided, and still more are daily dialing Berg to inquire about coming over. Their own companies don’t know they’re even contemplating departures. There hasn’t been a major full-service agency start-up like this since Endeavor was formed in 1995 by four former ICM agents who left Berg et al in a midnight stealth. Resolution will keep making headlines as Berg slowly builds his film/TV/talent/literary/music/publishing/digital tenpercentery to an anticipated staffing level of 35 agents plus support staff in LA, 25 agents in NYC, and 10 agents in Nashville. He’s still not settled on his Manhattan office, looking at a variety of spaces in Midtown, Downtown, Chelsea. “He’ll figure that out,” an insider tells me.

It only took him 8-to-10 weeks to set up Resolution doing it primarily by mobile phone, a gmail account, and temporary digs. Berg already has Resolution’s executive infrastructure put together: his COO will be his new partner, former music agent Jeff Franklin, CFO will be former William Morris Agency Finance Director Laura Li, and chief counsel will be former Universal Business Affairs’ Jonathan Gumpert (father of Andrew Gumpert who runs business affairs at Sony Pictures). Still to come is a “people person” senior agent who will function as the catalyst to help keep morale at a high level — because no one knows better than Iceberg what his reputation was and still is. I understand that Berg and Franklin went far with a top CAA senior agent who ultimately stayed put.
Read More »

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Fired WME Assistant Finds Film Success

By | Monday November 19, 2012 @ 9:50am PST

Here’s hope for any Hollywood assistant who feels locked into a dead-end job. Over the years, as we know, the major agencies dump dozens of assistants for a variety of real or perceived slights. Well, one WME assistant fired after an Ari Emanuel-conducted witch-hunt a few years back has made good. His recent email to friends and colleagues shows that he’s following his dream:

From: Hernando Bansuelo
Date: October 3, 2012, 6:56:27 AM PDT
Subject: Updates

Hi Friends and Colleagues,

I just want to share a few updates with you all -

I am thrilled to announce that my first feature, Last Look, has just completed post-production. Last weekend, we quietly showed our final cut at our first Preview Screening during the Arizona Underground Film Festival to some nice critical response.

Please stay tuned about our future premieres and upcoming LA screening – follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for more info. This is very exciting news after a long journey and the Last Look team is elated! Many filmmakers have started their careers in micro-budget filmmaking: from David Lynch to Darren Aronofsky, from Robert Rodriguez to Kevin Smith, from Christopher Nolan to Jia Zhangke, and they have all inspired this leap into the unknown.

On the horizon, my 2nd feature, the romantic drama The Darcy Project is a Finalist for the 2013 Sundance Screenwriters Lab. We aim to shoot this picture next Fall.

I write to you from Iceland where I am participating in the Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab. My short film, The Perfect Marriage is in

Read More »

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EXCLUSIVE: Robert Redford Changes Agencies And Exits CAA For WME

By | Thursday November 8, 2012 @ 12:16pm PST

Robert Redford Hollywood Talent AgencyEXCLUSIVE: “It was time to make a change,” an insider tells me about Robert Redford‘s decision to leave CAA for WME. Redford had spent 32 years as a client of Creative Artists Agency, originally signed by Michael Ovitz in 1980 away from the William Morris Agency. Now Redford is returning not to WMA but to WME (William Morris Endeavor). Which shows how everything in the Hollywood agency business often comes full circle. It was with CAA that the actor segued into a director and producer and entrepreneur and independent film icon through his Sundance Film Festival and Sundance Institute. Redford, who is 76, unveiled his latest directing effort at this year’s Venice Film Festival and Toronto Film Festival — the all-star drama The Company You Keep which Redford stars in and directed. Sony Pictures Classics will release it in the Spring of next year. (“It is so great to see Redford back doing this kind of role again,” Sony Pictures Classics co-President Michael Barker told Deadline’s Pete Hammond at the time.) Redford stars as a successful family man whose violent past as a member of the radical 1960s Weather Underground is exposed by a young news reporter played by Shia LaBeouf. At Toronto, Redford took a bow during enthusiastic applause for the film. It’s the kind of material Redford, who won an Oscar for helming 1980′s Ordinary People, knows how to do very well. As an actor, Redford just wrapped a one-man tour de force in the drama All Is Lost written and directed by JC Chandor (Margin Call). Read More »

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Agency Signing Without The Star Treatment

By | Monday October 15, 2012 @ 6:42pm PDT

It’s not just the movie studios who seemingly don’t care about stars anymore. Now it’s some Hollywood agencies, too. It used to be that every tenpercentery would make a big deal about signing well-known talent by trumpeting the news. But in recent days UTA didn’t bother to announce Ed Burns. And CAA didn’t bother to announce Chris Pine. Not exactly star treatment, is it?

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Chris Hemsworth Picks CAA As New Agency

By | Friday October 12, 2012 @ 11:59am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Chris Hemsworth is proving to be a go-to young guy for big ticket Hollywood fare. Particularly after Marvel’s Thor and The Avengers and also Universal’s Snow White And The Huntsman. He is starring in Thor 2 and will lead DreamWorks/Fox’s Steven Spielberg-directed Robopocalypse and receive $10 million from CBS Films to play a terrorist hunter in American Assassin. So which agency will represent Hollywood’s hottest new action hunk is big news. I can now tell you it is CAA. Insiders tell me one of his reasons for choosing Bryan Lourd and Jack Whigham was because their agency reps a lot of other Marvel top talent like Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johannsen. There was a feeding frenzy when Hemsworth decided to take new agency meetings with CAA, WME, UTA, and ICM starting after Labor Day when he decided to leave IFA Talent president Ilene Feldman after 4 years. That also meant CAA was no longer hamstrung by its no-poaching agreement with Feldman. I heard the problems with Feldman developed first around the negotiations for Thor 2 and intensified around the time Spielberg decided to cast him in mid-July. The actor is staying with ROAR Management’s William Ward who discovered him about 5 years ago when Hemsworth was still just an Australian TV star.

Related: Chris Hemsworth Offered $10 Million To Play Terrorist Hunter In ‘American Assassin’

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Top Agency Count: Primetime Emmys 2012

By | Friday September 28, 2012 @ 9:12am PDT

Emmy 2012 Winners AgenciesSummary

WME – 30 Winners
CAA – 29 Winners
UTA – 15 Winners
ICM - 10 Winners
APA – 4 Winners
Paradigm – 2 Winners
Gersh – 2 Winners
Innovative Artists – 1 Winner

Names of Winners

WME - 30

Writing For A Drama Series: Homeland
Written by Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Gideon Raff

Lead Actor In A Drama Series
Damian Lewis, Homeland

Lead Actress In A Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland

Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or A Movie
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story

Directing For a Miniseries Or A Movie
Jay Roach, Game Change

Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie
Kevin Costner, Hatfields & McCoys

Miniseries or Movie: Game Change
Jay Roach, Executive Producer

Outstanding Drama Series: Homeland
Alex Gansa, Executive Producer
Howard Gordon, Executive Producer
Michael Cuesta, Executive Producer
Gideon Raff, Executive Producer
Avi Nir, Executive Producer
Ran Telem, Executive Producer
Alexander Cary, Co-Executive Producer
Meredith Stiehm, Consulting Producer
Cindy Chupack, Co-Executive Producer

Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction, Reality or Reality-Competition Program: Sesame Street: Growing Hope Against Hunger (PBS)
Kevin Clash, Producer

Outstanding Nonfiction Special: George Harrison: Living In The Material World (HBO)
Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Executive Producer For Sikelia Productions
Produced by Martin Scorsese

Outstanding Special Class: Short-format Live-Action Entertainment Programs: Children’s Hospital (Cartoon Network)
Rob Corddry, Executive Producer
David Wain, Executive Producer

Outstanding Variety Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Jill Katz, Producer

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)
Kevin Bleyer, Writer
John Oliver, Writer
Jason Ross, Writer
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Jennifer Lopez Drops UTA For CAA: Is This The Start Of Another Career Shake-Up?

By | Monday August 13, 2012 @ 12:05pm PDT

UPDATE: So what else is new? J-Lo over the years has disposed of more Hollywood agencies than boyfriends including CAA, ICM, Endeavor, and William Morris – sometimes more than once. So now she’s returned to CAA after a long absence. UTA helped start J-Lo in acting by putting her in Selena and Steven Soderbergh’s Out Of Sight. After leaving, she came back to UTA in 2008 to focus on restarting what was then her dormant acting career after she had twins. She is partnered on her production company Nuyorican with Simon Fields, while manager Benny Medina masterminded J-Lo’s comeback. The question now is, without the American Idol spotlight, will her career go dark again?

UTA didn’t handle her 8-month world tour which prevented her from signing on to more movie/TV projects. But it did rep Lopez for The Back-Up Plan and What To Expect When You’re Expecting which both underperformed at the box office, and in Taylor Hackford’s Parker coming out in 2013. UTA also helped put a lot of TV shows in development for Nuyorican. Oxygen just bought the pitch for a reality show centered around the dancers on her tour and her choreographer/boyfriend Casper Smart. There’s also one show on the air at Tru and another on Spike right now: Big Easy Justice and South Beach Tow. On the scripted side, UTA has put 10 projects in development including three current shows – one each at Fox, ABC … Read More »

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Video From WME Quarterly Meeting II

By | Monday July 2, 2012 @ 9:26am PDT

Looks like a sequel got the green light at WME, which has posted another quarterly staff meeting video, this one featuring unscripted department agents Mark Itkin, Lance Klein, Colin Reno, Chris Newman, Jad Dayeh, and others. It’s directed by Ben Fast and written by Fast and Scott Wolman.

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Video From WME Quarterly Staff Meeting

By | Friday June 29, 2012 @ 11:55am PDT

WME client Mo Mandel trades places with his agent for one day to find out whose job is more difficult. Bizarre truths and inside jokes ensue. Directed and edited by Oren Kaplan for WME’s quarterly staff meeting:

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TOLDJA! ICM Management Buyout Complete

UPDATE: It’s been a long, winding, and troubled road which began more than a year ago, but ICM President Chris Silbermann now has completed his management buyout – thus putting an official end to what was a destabilizing period for the agency. I can tell you that Jeff Berg, Chris Silbermann, Rick Levy and all the other bigwigs are giving up their titles at the new ‘ICM Partners’. In fact all 29 partners won’t have titles. The management buyout deal was finalized and signed late last night and presented to the staff first thing this morning. It’s the end of an agenting era: Chairman/CEO Berg has been the longest serving tenpercentery head in Hollywood – since 1978 when he was made ICM’s president. He will remain as an agent but surrender his management role in exchange for tens of millions of dollars over the next years. The tenpercentery is going to be 100% owned and operated by its agents after the buyout of Berg and ICM’s major investor, Connecticut-based Rizvi Traverse Management which has owned 40%. The pair sold their interest for a combination of cash, preferred non-voting shares, and an ongoing financial interest in certain assets of the agency. The official announcement just released says:

Reflecting the new, collaborative structure, the agency will be renamed ICM Partners. Representing a cross-section of the agency’s core departments – film, television, publishing and touring, those named to the partnership

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ITV Studios America Leaves ICM For WME

By | Tuesday May 22, 2012 @ 12:52pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

ITV Studios AgencyEXCLUSIVE: After seven years at ICM and a total of 15 with agent Greg Lipstone, ITV Studios America has signed with WME in all areas, including unscripted and scripted TV. The company (then Granada America) was repped by Lipstone at WMA until 2005, when he moved to ICM, bringing Granada with him. With the 2009 merger between WMA and Endeavor, ITV Studios’ signing with WME represents a return of sorts to its old agency.

Related: Cash Windfalls For WME Agents, Assistants

The series pickups ITV Studios landed while with ICM include reality series Kitchen Nightmares (Fox); Steven Seagal: Lawman (A&E); Meet The In-Laws (CMT); Four Weddings, On the Fly and May The Best House Win (TLC); Real Life: The Musical (OWN); NBC drama Prime Suspect; and upcoming ABC comedy The Family Tools. (Lipstone also packaged the company’s hit Hell’s Kitchen while at WMA; the package is owned by WMA successor WME.) The list of pilots include The Chase (Fox), Surprise, Surprise (NBC), Devil’s Dinner Party (CW, presentation), and The Audience, which is being shopped. ITV Studios’ syndicated series credits include The Jeremy Kyle Show, The Bill Cunningham Show and America Now/America Today.

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Cash Windfalls For WME Agents, Assistants

EXCLUSIVE: A lot of WME staffers tomorrow get handed checks courtesy of that recent deal with strategic equity partner Silver Lake Partners. The agency won’t say who gets how much, but a source tells me, “There are some checks that are obnoxiously high, and there are some checks that are high enough.” It’s not just board members and partners, either: I’m told WME assistants will get $1,000 each as a “token of appreciation”. (Hey, isn’t that what those poorly paid peons pocket all year?) On May 2nd the Hollywood agency announced that techno-savvy Silver Lake was taking a 31% non-controlling minority interest in a deal set by WME toppers Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell. The investor, Emanuel, and Whitesell all decided to bestow the cash.

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How Agencies Did At This Year’s Upfronts: New Scripted Series Package Scorecard

By | Sunday May 20, 2012 @ 2:50pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The upfronts serve as a scorecard for the major agencies’ television departments. Here is our count for agency packages on the 39 new scripted primetime series ordered by the broadcast networks for the 2012/2013 season. Most of the agency totals include shared packages. Obviously, this is a very narrow snapshot of the TV agency landscape by omitting unscripted shows, returning series, and cable. We will start to expand our scorecard into those areas beginning next year.

WME – 20 (14 dramas, 6 comedies)

The Neighbors, How To Live With Your Parents, Malibu Country, Last Resort, Mistresses, 666 Park Ave, Made In Jersey, Golden Boy, Vegas, Ben & Kate, The Following, Go On, The New Normal, Chicago Fire, Revolution, Hannibal, Infamous, Beauty & The Beast, Cult, Emily Owens, MD

CAA – 16 (8 dramas, 8 comedies)*

Malibu Country, Zero Hour, Nashville, Friend Me, Made In Jersey, Elementary, Goodwin Games, The Mob Doctor, The New Normal, Save Me, Animal Practice, Guys With Kids, Hannibal, Beauty & The Beast, Family Tools, Crossbones** (*CAA’s tally may go up to 17 because agency is in negotiations for a piece of the package on comedy How To Live With Your Parents, ** CAA is packaging involvement is through financing, UTA has full package on the show in the traditional sense)

UTA – 12 (6 dramas, 6 comedies)

Red Widow, Mistresses, Elementary, Friend Me, Emily Owens MD, Mindy, Goodwin Games, Save Me, Animal Practice, Next Caller, Do No Harm, Crossbones

ICM – 5 (3 dramas, 2 comedies)

Family Tools, Revolution, Infamous, 1600 Penn, The Mob Doctor
Read More »

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It’s Official: WME-Silver Lake Announcement

By | Wednesday May 2, 2012 @ 10:55am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: WME Sets Silver Lake As Strategic Digital Equity Partner In Exchange For 31% Non-Controlling Minority Interest Of The Agency

BEVERLY HILLS, CA AND MENLO PARK, CA – May 2, 2012 – William Morris Endeavor Entertainment (WME), one of the world’s leading entertainment and media companies, and Silver  Lake, a global leader in technology investing, announced today that they have launched a new strategic partnership and have signed a definitive agreement for Silver Lake to acquire a minority stake in the company.

In a statement the WME Management Board said: “Our partnership with Silver Lake will accelerate WME’s transformation into a technologically innovative entertainment and media company and ensure we can best support our clients across all digital media channels. This investment will give WME access to Silver Lake’s expertise, resources and relationships across the global technology industry, ensuring our clients and the content they create are strategically positioned for the future as the convergence of technology, entertainment and media accelerates.”

“Partnering with Silver Lake aligns WME with the global leader in technology investing, and ensures that all of our clients across film, TV, music, literature and other genres can capitalize on the dramatic new opportunities emerging from the digital media revolution,” said WME Co-CEOs Patrick Whitesell and Ariel Emanuel. “While we have already taken significant strategic steps to transition our business to the new digital media landscape, we are excited

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Power Outage Closes CAA Offices

By | Monday April 30, 2012 @ 8:40am PDT

CAA ClosedIf you’ve got any meetings over at CAA today, you might want to reschedule. The offices over at 2000 Avenue of the Stars are closed due to “an electrical problem in the building,” Deadline has learned. The company is encouraging agents to work from home and get back to people via email or cell.

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EXCLUSIVE: ICM’s Chris Silbermann Nearly Completed With Management Buyout

ICM Implosion Stopped: Chris Silbermann Stays, Less Power For Jeff Berg
ICM Part 3: Agency Board & Rizvi Blow Off Silbermann’s Demands
ICM Part 2: Silbermann Forces Decision By Rizvi; Relying On Mike Ovitz
ICM Imploding! Silbermann & Berg Battle For Control

EXCLUSIVE: Insiders are telling me that ICM President Chris Silbermann has completed his management buyout except for the “little legalities”, thus putting an official end to what was a destabilizing period for the agency. The tenpercentery is going to be 100% owned and operated by its agents as soon as the lawyers “put in the periods and semicolons” on the contracts. ”This is truly exciting to be able to say to agents, ‘You’re going to own your company.’” It will emphasize ICM’s entrepreneurial culture and begin an expansion,” a source tells me. I understand that some agents are going to be exiting as a result. (“Those agents not asked to be partner will take it personally,” one of my sources explains.) Now it’s a waiting game to see who stays and who goes. (I’ll report only confirmed names, not rumored.) ICM so far has announced no details about this restructuring. Silbermann’s goal over the past year has been to take over the tenpercentery and obtain more ownership of the agency from its major investor: Connecticut-based Rizvi Traverse Management which has owned 40% of ICM. After some very difficult months behind the scenes and then played out in public, Suhail Rizvi eventually decided to play ball with Silbermann’s demands — or face the threat that his senior TV agents might walk out of the tenpercentery. Assisting Silbermann in this power play was Rick Levy, ICM’s Chief Business Development Officer & General Counsel who was a longtime confidante to ICM Chairman/CEO Jeff Berg until this buyout plan was hatched. I understand that Berg’s ownership of ICM also is being bought out and he has been offered to continue at the agency as Chairman Emeritus. Read More »

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CAA About To Undergo More Agent Exits

By | Thursday April 19, 2012 @ 4:39pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: The exodus from CAA just keeps continuing. Recent months have seen the departures of CAA agents Rand Holston, Mike Nilon, Jessica Matthews and Shari Smiley in November. Then Dan Aloni’s firing in February. Peter Loehr’s announced departure in March along with Ara Keshisian’s quiet leaving and landing a job at Inferno Entertainment. And Byrdie Lifson Pompan’s life change last week. Now sources tell me that talent agents Isabella Brewster (younger sister of actress Jordana Brewster) and Jeff Speich (Antonio Banderas, Rosie Huntington Whiteley, Robin Wright Penn) are leaving CAA. Meanwhile I can tell you to expect more terminations soon. What’s happening is a combination of overhead reductions, investor pressures, and morale problems — most of which are affecting every major agency right now. It’s not easy being a tenpercenter in this do-more-with-less Hollywood economy. CAA used to be able to place its outgoing agents in cushy industry jobs. But that’s not possible any longer.

Longtime CAA Agent Byrdie Lifson-Pompan Exits Showbiz
Peter Loehr Leaving CAA Beijing Office
SHOCKER! Chris Nolan’s Agent Dan Aloni Fired From CAA
Trio Of Agents Leaving CAA
Longtime CAA Agent Rand Holston Leaving
CAA Sells Read More »

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Jesse Eisenberg Is Leaving ICM For CAA

EXCLUSIVE: Jesse Eisenberg is exiting ICM after more than a dozen years with the agent who helped put him in The Social Network which earned him a Best Actor Oscar nomination. ICM hoped it could hold him, but sources tell me he was surrounded by a bunch of CAA clients on his current film in production Now You See Me and “CAA started hitting on him and he’s buying the pitch”. ICM had even scheduled a dinner with the actor tonight but the bad news came down just now. The feeling inside ICM is that talent agent Joanne Wiles had repped Eisenberg “as well as can be” including “doing an incredible job getting him that part” as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network. Among his pics have been The Squid And The Whale, The Education of Charlie Banks, Adventureland, and Zombieland. She also recently negotiated several “huge paydays” for him including Rio 2 as well as The Double where Eisenberg stars with Mia Wasikowska in the Richard Ayoade-directed drama inspired by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic novella.

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Director Jodie Foster Meeting With Agencies

By | Friday March 9, 2012 @ 3:31pm PST

EXCLUSIVE: As an actress Jodie Foster is sticking with ICM which has long repped her. But as a director she’s taking agency meetings with UTA and Gersh. (CAA and WME wouldn’t rep her just for directing gigs.) ICM still hopes to hang onto her helming but couldn’t set up any movies or even a TV pilot for her. I hear she’s making a decision by Monday. “It’s hard out there for her,” a source explains to me. “The market for her is really cold.” (Then Hollywood is full of idiots because I think she’s a talented helmer.) Foster’s last directing effort was The Beaver starring Mel Gibson and it did little business. Her dilemma may explain why the two-time Oscar winner sent DVD screeners of the film to the entire membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in February: maybe it was a directing job application.

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