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.” READ MORE »
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 … Read More »
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. Read More »
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 … Read More »
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. Read More »
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. Read More »
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 Read More »
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, … Read More »
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: Read More »
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 Read More »
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 … Read More »
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 … Read More »
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 … Read More »
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 Read More »
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 … Read More »
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 … Read More »
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 Read More »
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 … Read More »
This will be another bad week for James Murdoch and News Corp as 21 witnesses including several celebs line up to tell a government inquiry how overzealous and unethical reporters turned their lives upside down. The investigation is led by Lord Justice Leveson who Prime Minister David Cameron asked to examine both the phone hacking at News Of The World, and problems with the country’s press culture. The parents of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old who was murdered in 2002, will kick things off tomorrow. The NOTW scandal broke open this past July when it was disclosed that after Dowler was missing the tabloid hacked into the girl’s phone and deleted messages, giving her parents false hope that she might still be alive. Grant will follow them, and is expected to continue his assault on reporting tactics used by NOTW and the Daily Mail. Also due on Monday is the lawyer for actor Jude Law. On Tuesday the panel will hear from actor Steve Coogan and soccer star Garry Flitcroft. On Thursday Harry Potter author Rowling and one time Formula One chief Max Mosley will testify. Next Monday singer Charlotte Church and UK TV personality Anne Diamond will appear.
Coogan outlined his views in a biting commentary he wrote for The Guardian on Friday. “No amount of respectable, well-modulated management-speak from James Murdoch can disguise the direct link between Read More »