Hugh Grant has been cast in the Guy Ritchie-helmed The Man From U.N.C.L.E., joining Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in the spy pic. Grant will play the head of British naval intelligence. Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair, Seventh Son) also stars.
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
UPDATE, 4:09 PM: The UK government today announced a fresh sweep of press regulation reforms, brought about as a result of the News Of The World phone-hacking brouhaha. But key newspaper groups, including Rupert Murdoch’s News International, have refused to endorse the government’s proposals. A late-night round of cross-party negotiations prevented a potentially embarrassing rebellion from within David Cameron’s own party as the two proposals were brought to consensus. The final reforms will see British papers regulated by a watchdog run completely independently of the media. Fines of up to £1M — thought to be the toughest in the world — would be handed down to the worst offenders. And the only legal statute relates to the right of ministers to change the rules in future, designed to prevent any possible corruptions to freedom of speech.
In a group statement signed by News International, along with Daily Mail publishers Associated Newspapers, the Telegraph media group and Richard Desmond’s Northern & Shell, newspaper proprietors say the proposals feature “several deeply contentious issues which have not yet been resolved with the industry”. As one senior exec told the Guardian, “This is a political deal between the three parties and Hacked Off,” referring to the campaign group fronted by Hugh Grant. “It is not a deal with the newspapers.”
Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
A swathe of high-profile names are getting big paychecks from Rupert Murdoch’s News International this week as the company tries to consign the News Of The World phone-hacking scandal to the past. Doctor Who star Christopher Ecclestone and actor-turned-press ethics campaigner Hugh Grant will both receive “substantial damages”. There are more payouts, along with public apologies, for Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, and celebrity magician Uri Geller, bringing the total number of settlements to 143. But with police still in the process of notifying victims, new cases continue to be brought forward. American Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe and former Crystal Palace Football Club owner Simon Jordan are among those filing new claims. A lawyer working on behalf of victims said the settlements reflected an urge by News Corp‘s UK publishing arm to persuade victims to drop lawsuits ahead of a case management hearing held today, according to the Guardian.
Rupert Murdoch was in London last week, crowing about scoring rights to online clips of Premier League soccer matches and reportedly visiting his UK newspapers. He also held a private dinner that’s becoming a hot potato in the local media. London Mayor Boris Johnson, a rival to Prime Minister David Cameron for leadership of the Conservative Party, is widely believed to have attended along with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, whose office confirmed his presence to The Guardian. (Also reportedly there was Homeland star Damian Lewis, whose show is produced by News Corp.-owned Fox21, and who’s a graduate of Eton, as is Johnson.) While private meetings between politicians and media owners don’t run afoul of parliamentary or party rules, this particular dinner has raised eyebrows in light of last year’s Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics where an overriding theme was the cozy relationship enjoyed by newspaper proprietors and the highest levels of government.
The actor was one of the most high-profile victims of the scandal that ended in the shuttering of the News Corp-owned UK tabloid News Of The World. Hugh Grant‘s settlement for damages with Rupert Murdoch’s British publishing arm News International was for a “substantial sum”, his lawyer said today, and will be donated to Grant’s Hacked Off campaign, which is advocating for responsible press. Grant had filed his complaint in September. Earlier this month, News International settled 22 other cases related to the scandal, which led into a UK government inquiry into press ethics and several ongoing probes into corruption and bribery. Grant also testified before the Leveson Inquiry, which after a 16-month investigation called for an independent regulator to oversee the British press, an order UK publishers are now trying to figure out how to implement.
This week UK attention will turn back to the phone-hacking scandal as it morphs into a wider discussion about freedom of the press. On Thursday, Lord Justice Brian Leveson will unveil the long-awaited findings of his inquiry into UK media ethics and make his recommendations on how to regulate the industry. It’s expected the report will call for some form of statutory underpinning to press regulation. That has the British media girding for battle and crying foul against its rights. Independent editor Chris Blackhurst in August said Leveson was “loading a gun” against newspapers. Prime Minister David Cameron also has a challenge on his hands as he risks alienating his media allies and/or his own government based on his reaction to the findings. And, he’ll only have 24 hours to fashion a response after getting an early look at the report on Wednesday. Cameron’s press office on Sunday said the PM remained “open-minded.”
It was Cameron who convened the inquiry in July 2011 as the phone-hacking scandal blew wide open at Rupert Murdoch’s News Of The World tabloid. During its run, the probe heard evidence from more than 150 witnesses including Murdoch, Tony Blair, Hugh Grant, J.K. Rowling, the Dowler family and Cameron himself who in June faced uncomfortable questioning about his relationship to former Murdoch lieutenant Rebekah Brooks. He recently told the BBC’s Andrew Marr he would “absolutely” abide by Leveson’s suggestions on regulation as long as they were reasonable. “The status quo is not an option,” he said. Deputy PM Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband are expected to back Leveson’s proposals, but some members of Cameron’s own Conservative party are leaning towards non-statutory regulation, including London mayor Boris Johnson. At the same time, there is a group of Conservative MPs who want radical reform, The Guardian has noted.
Should he support statutory regulation, Cameron will risk alienating members of the media who are already unhappy that a light has been shone so brightly on their underbelly by an inquiry that he ordered. In April, Rupert Murdoch told the Leveson Inquiry, “When it comes to regulation, I just beg for some care. A varied press guarantees democracy.” But some papers who have not been accused of wrongdoing are likely to be caught in the crossfire.
BREAKING: Hugh Grant will star in writer-director Marc Lawrence’s new untitled romantic comedy, shooting in New York in April 2013. Martin Shafer will produce with Liz Glotzer for Castle Rock Entertainment. This marks the fourth collaboration between Grant, Lawrence and Castle Rock following Two Weeks Notice, Music And Lyrics, and Did You Hear About the Morgans? Lawrence and Castle Rock and Lawrence also did two Miss Congeniality comedies.
In 1998, Ray Michaels (Grant) was on top of the world — a witty, sexy, Englishman in Hollywood who had just won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay. Fifteen years later, he’s creatively washed up, divorced, and broke. With no other options, he takes a job teaching screenwriting at a small college on the East Coast. Although the idea of teaching is less than thrilling, he hopes to make some easy money and enjoy the favors of impressionable young co-eds. What he doesn’t expect to find is romance with a single mom who’s gone back to school.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
Rupert Murdoch said he was sorry twice within 24 hours on Thursday while also demanding an apology from the Australian Broadcasting Corp. – all over a series of tweets from earlier in the week. Last Saturday, Murdoch tweeted: “Told UK’s Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad.” Prime Minister David Cameron had earlier met with reps for the anti-phone-hacking campaign Hacked Off including Hugh Grant, Charlotte Church and former BBC host Jacqui Hames. In response to Murdoch’s missive, Hames wrote: “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story eh Rupert. Happy to discuss our concerns with you sometime?” Murdoch replied: “I did not say all celebrities were scumbags. Check my tweet. And apology to any who misunderstood.” Another Twitter user wrote: “Scumbags”? And your journalists and executives are what?” Referring to Grant, Murdoch riposted: “They don’t get arrested for indecency on major LA highways! Or abandon love child’s.” Grant was reported to be considering legal action, The Guardian said. Murdoch tried to defuse the situation by taking to Twitter again: “Hugh Grant states that he is deeply involved in his daughter’s life – I accept that, regret tweet on the matter. Apologies to both parents.” In Australia, the ABC’s website reported Murdoch’s “scumbag celebrities” quote which incensed
Hugh Grant has taken his first legal action against the News Corp.-owned News International over alleged phone hacking at the now-defunct News Of The World tabloid. Grant filed a complaint at the high court today, according to The Guardian, and has said any financial damages he receives will go toward helping fellow victims. Tomorrow is the deadline for civil damage claims at the court. Grant has been highly vocal in the phone-hacking scandal and appeared before Lord Justice Brian Leveson’s inquiry into UK media ethics in November last year. He also recently became a director of a new anti-press intrusion nonprofit set up by Hacked Off, The Guardian notes. Other high-profile names to have lodged claims include Cherie Blair, the wife of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and soccer player Wayne Rooney. News International is expected to face about 100 new claims by the Friday deadline, The Guardian says.
A plummy accent and good connections are among essential attributes for moving ahead in Britain’s film and TV industry, according to a new report by two British academics. The production sector is “dominated by the middle classes who hoard opportunities to work on the best contracts,” say professor Irena Grugulis of Durham University and Dr Dimitrinka Stoyanova of the University of St Andrews. After a period of observation and dozens of interviews with industry folk, the pair found that the working class, women and those from ethnic minorities were either under-represented or held low or medium quality positions – or a mixture of the two. The academics cited issues like neoptism and “social capital” (ie a network of powerful friends) as factors in the findings. Samantha Horley, whose London-based Salt Company has a progressive policy towards hiring, concurs. “I still think the British industry is extremely classist,” she tells me, noting that in the international sales sector, “people for the most part want sales people who speak like Hugh Grant.” The study also found that the working class was discriminated against because they don’t have the “right accents, hairstyles, clothes or backgrounds.” Maxine Peake, of Channel 4′s Shameless, recently noted the lack of high-profile working class actresses in Britain saying there’s “loads” of working class actors but only one woman: Samantha Morton. Still, Horley, who admits that her own privileged background was probably a leg-up when she started in the business, doesn’t feel that discrimination extends to the creative sector. “You do notice that there’s a lot of posh producers looking after their grungy directors,” she says. The full press release regarding the academic findings follows:
Hacking Update: Hugh Grant Accused Of Hijacking Inquiry By Daily Mail Editor; More News Corp Unit Emails Uncovered
It was a busy day at the Leveson Inquiry into UK media ethics. This morning it was confirmed that police have recovered millions of emails from the main server of News Corp’s News International unit that were thought to have been deleted, while Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre in the afternoon continued to refute Hugh Grant’s earlier testimony that the Sunday newspaper had hacked into the actor’s voicemail for a 2007 story. Sue Akers, the police chief in charge of three investigations into alleged press misconduct, testified that investigators are working to search through the recovered emails, which News Corp’s UK newspaper arm said had been deleted, but that the work will take a few more months. She also noted that the police have a “cooperative working relationship” with News Corp’s management and standards committee, which the group set up when the phone-hacking scandal at the News Of The World blew wide open this summer.
Meanwhile, Dacre spoke to events from November last year when Grant, in the first allegation against a paper not controlled by News Corp., told
Add Hugh Grant’s to the chorus of voices refuting reports that Bridget Jones’s Baby was imploding. On behalf of Grant, his rep said: “Hugh is keen that Bridget Jones 3 happens, but Renee [Zellweger], Colin [Firth] and he all have some issue with the present script. They are hoping to help work them out.”
On Thursday, my colleague Mike Fleming weighed in on rumors being reported as fact elsewhere that said threequel Bridget Jones’s Baby was in trouble. Mike’s sources were adamant the movie would get made this year, denied that Hugh Grant had bailed and said that he, Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger are determined to see it through. Confirming Mike’s intel, Working Title’s Tim Bevan addressed the situation today with the following statement: “Reports that Hugh Grant has exited Bridget Jones’s Baby are untrue. We are still working on the script hence the delay to the start of production, but the film is going ahead as planned.”
I’ve been hearing from sources all day that Bridget Jones’s Baby is in big trouble. And Universal and Working Title have been denying it. The rumor has been that production was weeks away and was shut down after Hugh Grant walked off in a huff because of script problems. Now that I’m seeing rumors reported as fact, I want to weigh in. Sources close to the production ara adamant they will make this movie this year. Yes, they are still tweaking the script. But Grant, Colin Firth and especially Renee Zellweger are determined to make it, I’m told by people I trust. Those people are denying that Grant has bailed on the film. There has been a bit of turbulence, with Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig bailing and Brit Peter Cattaneo taking the helm of the film. “Bullshit,” said my source, of the idea that the film might be scrapped or that it is in danger of imploding. If my sources are wrong, and I’m the one being bullshitted, we’ll know soon enough and we will fix the nooses.
Aardman Animations is modifying a scene in its upcoming stop-motion 3D pic The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (UK title: The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists) following objections from leprosy groups including Lepra Health In Action and the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations (ILEP). The swashbuckler is voiced by Hugh Grant, Jeremy Piven, David Tennant, Salma Hayek and others. In a scene in the trailer that was released in December, Grant’s Pirate Captain lands on a ship demanding gold, but is told by a crew member, “Afraid we don’t have any gold old man, this is a leper boat. See,” and with that, his arm falls off. The leprosy orgs were concerned such a scene could increase stigma and discrimination for disease sufferers. An Aardman spokeman gave Deadline the following statement this morning: “After reviewing the matter, we decided to change the scene out of respect and sensitivity for those who suffer from leprosy. The last thing anyone intended was to offend anyone
The latest feature from the UK’s Wallace & Gromit gang Aardman Animations arrives in the US in partnership with Sony Pictures Animation. Directed by Peter Lord and co-directed by Jeff Newitt, the stop-motion 3D adventure is based on books by Gideon Defoe, who also scripted. With the voices of Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven, Imelda Staunton and David Tennant, it opens March 30.
EXCLUSIVE: The Full Monty helmer Peter Cattaneo is in talks to direct Bridget Jones’s Baby, the Universal Pictures/Working Title sequel that brings back Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant. Shooting begins early next year. The directing assignment has been open since early October, when Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig stepped away after working on the most recent script draft. At the time, the feeling was that the Helen Fielding novels and film series has an inherently British sensibility that made it better suited for a British helmer. Cattaneo fits that bill and has been circling the project for some time. Fielding wrote the script with Feig and David Nicholls. Working Title’s Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner are producing with Little Bird Films’ Jonathan Cavendish. Cattaneo is repped by UTA and UK-based Independent Talent Group.
Actor Hugh Grant called on UK lawmakers to regulate news organizations that he says frequently use unethical tactics to violate the privacy of celebrities like him — and ordinary people who unwittingly find themselves in the public spotlight. There’s “almost no journalism now” in Britain’s tabloid press – which he called the “privacy invasion industry” in testimony to the Leveson Inquiry which is looking at the News Of The World phone hacking scandal and the country’s press culture. “It’s almost never (about the) public interest,” he says. “There has been a section of our press that has been allowed to become toxic (using) bullying, intimidation, and blackmail….It’s time this country found the courage to stand up to this bullying.” Although it’s “a lovely idea” to let news organizations regulate themselves, it “absolutely has been shown not to work. ..This is the big opportunity now, this inquiry.” And it need not result in censorship of legitimate news or opinion, he says: “I don’t think it is that difficult to tell what is bath water and what is a baby. To most people it is pretty obvious.”
Grant said it’s “a big myth” that actors benefit from tabloid publicity. “In 17 years I’ve only given two interviews in the British press.” He says that he hires publicists in the U.S. when he has a new film, but “they’re like anti-publicists.” Studios “will be desperate for you to do everything” and
The parents of Milly Dowler told a UK inquiry into the News Of The World hacking scandal this morning that the family admonished Rupert Murdoch to “set things right” in July when he visited to apologize for the tabloid’s actions after their daughter was missing in 2002 and later found murdered. The paper had hacked into the 13-year-old’s cell phone and deleted voicemail messages, giving the Dowlers false hope. ”She’s picked up her voice mails Bob, she’s alive,” the girl’s mother, Sally Dowler, told her husband at the time she said in an appearance before the Leveson Inquiry. As the family and others waited to learn the girl’s fate she said that she “had to be on guard outside your front door” because reporters ”would come up to you when least expect it. They’d fire a question at you without introducing themselves.” She added that Murdoch was “very sincere” in his apology. But her daughter Gemma told him that she hoped he would use the scandal “as an opportunity to put things right in the future and have some decent standards and adhere to them.” Milly’s father, Bob Dowler, urged Murdoch’s News International and other media companies to “look very carefully at how they procure and how they maintain information about stories.” Sally Dowler said that she didn’t sleep for three nights after police told her that Milly’s phone had been hacked. Last month Murdoch agreed to pay the family $3.2M, and donate …