The Chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment addressed 2014 graduates of USC‘s School of Cinematic Arts today at the Shrine Auditorium near the LA campus. Prior to Jim Gianopulos‘s speech, Marvel President and USC alumnus Kevin Feige received the school’s Mary Pickford Alumni Award, remembering his own time as a Trojan and sharing advice for the program’s aspiring filmmakers. Gianopulos joined the SCA Board of Councilors last year. Here’s a full transcript of Gianopulos’ speech, followed by highlights of Feige’s:
Congratulations Kevin on receiving the Mary Pickford foundation Award. It’s very well deserved for the great Marvel films you’ve produced, and I wish you continued success, as long as your movies aren’t opening on the same weekend as ours!
Dean Daley, distinguished faculty, guests and—most important—all of you graduates in the class of 2014—it is an honor and a thrill for me to be here today.
I’d like to make one thing clear right away—I am not here to give you life-changing advice. As someone who’s worked in Hollywood for many years, the only thing I can tell you with certainty is… stay off the 405.
I have no easy answers, no mandated rules for living, no reminders to floss. The great journey you’re about to embark upon will be about exploring questions and finding your own answers to them, and trust me, it’s way better than thinking you have all the answers already.
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Steven Spielberg, John Williams and Jim Gianopulos were among the big names attending the dedication of the Lionel Newman Music Building. The building on the Fox lot in Century City has been renamed in honor of the late composer, conductor, pianist and longtime head of Fox’s music department, whose tenure with the studio spanned nearly half a century and more than 200 films, including his Oscar-winning score for 1969′s Hello Dolly! He also earned 10 other Oscar noms for such films as Doctor Doolittle and There’s No Business Like Show Business. He also worked on numerous TV series including Batman and M*A*S*H. Spielberg talked about meeting Newman during the scoring of Jaws, and five-time Oscar winner Williams spun tales of Newman’s colorful career at the studio. More than a dozen members of Newman’s family also were on hand, including his nephew Randy Newman, a two-time Oscar-winning songwriter and 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. “The music at Fox while Lionel was there was better than it was anywhere else,” he said. “The music he conducted, I always thought — and so did most of the composers — sounded better than the music he didn’t conduct.”
Governor Jerry Brown talked about the promise of California and played up the state’s economic comeback during a campaign fundraiser Thursday at Disney Studio boss Alan Horn’s Bel-Air home. A mostly industry crowd of about 100 including Robert Downey Jr. and Larry Flynt turned out for the 6:30-8:15 PM event, which was put on by a Hollywood political patrician guard. Co-hosts included Jeffrey Katzenberg, Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer and Kevin Tsujihara, Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, Universal’s Ron Meyer, Paramount’s Brad Grey, Sony’s Michael Lynton and MPAA chief Chris Dodd as well as Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, though Geffen didn’t attend. All of the co-hosts had pledged to raise $54,440 each for Brown’s re-election campaign next year. Tickets for the event went from $5,000 to mogul-level $27,200. Details are sketchy about the exact amount of money raised … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It took a week from when we first broke news that Tony Sella was heading for the exits at Fox, but the move has just been made official. Studio chief Jim Gianopulos just issued an internal memo. Sella will stay on as creative advisor till his contract is up. The 20th Century Fox Film chief creative officer made the move after the department was restructured and marketing chief Oren Aviv was ousted. Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus were promoted by Gianopulos to be co-Presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution. Under the new structure, both the domestic and international marketing and distribution teams will report to Jegeus and Hanneman. Sella began making noises about leaving within days.
I am saddened to advise that after 23 years at Fox, Tony Sella has decided to leave when his current contract expires in a few months. I know many of us share in the disappointment to lose from our ranks a longtime friend and colleague like Tony, and we will miss the day-to-day interaction with him. As a professional, I’ll miss his unique creative genius and style, and his commitment to his work and the company’s success. As his friend, I’ll miss his humor, his generosity of spirit, and the fun of hanging around his office.
For Tony though, I’m happy that after years of
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His re-election is a year away and as much of a sure thing as anything can be in politics but Hollywood moguls unsurprisingly are already opening up their check books for Jerry Brown now. A $1,000 to $27,200 a ticket November 21 fundraiser for the Democratic incumbent has been scheduled at Disney Studios boss Alan Horn and his wife Cindy’s Bel Air home. Maybe the studio chieftains who are co-hosting the event will want to talk to the Governor about the state’s Film and TV tax credits program that everyone but he seems to want raised when it comes up for renewal next year. And make no mistake, this is an unofficial studio chieftains conference that even out shines the fundraiser Barack Obama had at Peter Chernin’s place in June. Warner Bros’ Barry Meyer and Kevin Tsujihara as well as Fox’s Jim Gianopulos, who was at the Obama event, Universal’s Ron Meyer, Paramount’s Brad Grey, Sony’s Michael Lynton and DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg all serving as co-hosts also with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Following up on his support last month of a Hollywood visit by Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to raise money to challenge Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell, this is another move by Katzenberg positioning himself as a big donor for the midterms like he did for last year’s Presidential … Read More »
UPDATE: Both trades have picked up Deadline’s exclusive on the probable exit of Tony Sella. While they have pronounced it as definitive, I am sticking to my original report that sparked theirs. The final decision won’t happen until Monday, when Sella is likely to be a former employee of 20th Century Fox. At the moment, he is still with the studio.
EXCLUSIVE, 8:23 AM PT: Might 20th Century Fox Film chief creative officer Tony Sella be soon following marketing chief Oren Aviv out the door? I’ve heard that discussions are underway that will go through early next week at Fox to work that out but that it looks like that is where all of this is heading. The latest shakeup talk comes after Fox Film chairman/CEO Jim Gianopulos let Aviv go last Wednesday and promoted his international guys Paul Hanneman and Tomas Jegeus to be co-presidents of Worldwide Theatrical Marketing & Distribution. This was a restructuring that in Gianopulos’ mind recognizes that Fox’s future is in looking at its film business as a global game and creating cohesion between domestic and offshore campaigns for their films. Sella didn’t return an email and Fox isn’t commenting on any of these developments until they are finalized. In the announcement about Hanneman and Jegeus two days ago, the duo said in a group quote that “Tony Sella is one of the most talented creative marketers … Read More »
Related: Fox Ups Paul Hanneman, Tomas Jegeus To Run Global Marketing & Distribution
EXCLUSIVE: There’s yet another shake-up inside a major Hollywood studio. I’ve learned that Thursday will be the last day for Chief Marketing Officer Oren Aviv at Twentieth Century Fox even though his contract had another 18 months to go. But movie studio chairman Jim Gianopulos and Aviv agreed Wednesday afternoon that things were not working out. Unlike other studios, 20th separated its Chief Marketing Officer from Chief Creative Officer, the job long held by Tony Sella and a gig Aviv used to have at Disney films. “It’s a funky structure and there’s a reason no other studio is set up that way,” a source tells me tonight. “This isn’t a dramatic exit. Over time it’s been easy to see Oren’s frustration not to be able to make the best possible campaigns.” Aviv was hired in January 2011 as Chief Marketing Officer and also held the title of President of Theatrical Marketing along with 21-year Fox veteran Sella, who took on the additional role of Chief Creative Officer at the same time. Sella is by no means an easy exec to get along with, and at the same time Aviv came into the job with … Read More »
Hugh Jackman proved Wolverine has the stuff as his “One Night Only” concert at the Dolby Theatre raised $1.85 million dollars for the Motion Picture & Television Fund Saturday night in Hollywood. Each year the MPTF has produced a musical evening saluting the best of Broadway shows turned into movies, but this year 20th Century Fox Chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos decided to shake it up and ask frequent host Jackman to stage his hit Broadway one-man show as a benefit for the fund. To say it was a hit is an understatement. Many in the audience had flown in from as far away as Sydney, Australia for the opportunity of seeing Jackman (who is also again a Best Actor Oscar contender this year for his wrenching role in Prisoners) perform his act and it also drew a major Hollywood contingent including stars like Tom Cruise and studio heads such as MPTF topper Jeffrey Katzenberg and Universal’s Donna Langley who watched her Les Miserables star perform a song from that film to a standing ovation.
Among other highlights Jackman reprised his Tony winning performance in a medley of Peter Allen songs from The Boy From Oz. He also performed numbers from Guys And Dolls and Carousel, both iconic musicals he had been … Read More »
There are lots of stars in Cannes this year but I don’t think any of them are shining brighter at the festival than one who is no longer with us. Elizabeth Taylor may have died over two years ago at the age of 79 but she lives on, not only on the big and small screens where her many films still play, but also for all the amazing charitable work she did in her lifetime, particularly her fight against AIDS. Tomorrow night amFAR will certainly be remembering her at the 20th anniversary of Cinema Against AIDS, the signature event set during the Cannes Festival she helped start. And Tuesday night 20th Century Fox World Premiered its meticulous 2K digital restoration (it took nine months to complete) of the 1963 film, Cleopatra, infamous for the torrid off-screen love affair between its stars Taylor and Richard Burton.
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On the occasion of its 50th anniversary the studio pulled out all the stops with a black tie premiere of the four-hour movie (that ironically almost bankrupted the studio), followed by a lavish party sponsored by Bulgari, the jeweler who supplied Taylor with so many of the baubles she was famous for collecting. In fact, as you entered the party on the J.W. Marriott rooftop it was hard to avoid them displayed in special glass cabinets. Included was the platinum and emerald necklace her co-star Burton gave her for their engagement in 1962. Host (and Bulgari spokesperson) Jessica Chastain actually wore it to introduce the film before taking it off and giving it back to Bulgari. She is the only person to have worn it other than Liz on her wedding day (or one of her wedding days). Also Fox brought in several original Cleopatra costumes. Fox Chairman Jim Gianopulos was there to help intro the film and told me later that the financial toll the film took on the studio has been overblown. “It turned a profit after three years,” he says although the movie’s cost was astronomical and ran off the rails. I asked Fox President of Post-Production Ted Gagliano about the story that director Joseph Mankiewicz actually had a six-hour cut and that two never-before seen hours of the film are somewhere in the Fox vaults. He says he has heard this as well but thinks it’s another in the long line of Cleopatra myths since they searched high and low and found nothing. One of the guests at the premiere, director and film nerd Alexander Payne told me after seeing the film again he wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn there was an even longer cut. “But who really needs to see a six-hour version?” he asked. Both Payne and his guest Laura Dern (whose father Bruce Dern stars in Payne’s Cannes entry, Nebraska, which premieres here Thursday) said they loved seeing the film in all its restored glory. Read More »
The USC School Of Cinematic Arts keeps making a big push to gain more support among current Hollywood moguls and filmmakers who aren’t has-beens. Smart business: the names will translate into more money and clout for the school and its BA, MA, MFA and PhD programs. USC has to compete just even locally with American Film Institute’s AFI Conservatory and UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television not to mention other rival schools nationally like New York University Tisch School of the Arts and internationally like Beijing Film Academy. So no surprise that Twentieth Century Fox Film Chairman Jim Gianopulos this week joined the USC film school’s Board Of Councilors. Last week, Bryan Singer donated $5 million and became the first alumnus to have one of the film school’s 6 programs of study named in his honor. Also last week, Paramount’s Brad Grey and CBS Inc’s Les Moonves joined George Lucas (alumnus) and Steven Spielberg (who applied twice and was turned down each time) at the gala reception opening of the Sumner M. Redstone Production Building for the school.
Gianopulos also joins Lucas and Spielberg – who’ve each donated buildings – on the USC film school board which takes a leadership roll in the school’s overall planning and development as well as supports its fundraising efforts. Board of Councilors Chair Frank Price, who used to preside over Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures (twice), said in a statement: “Throughout his career Jim has always been dedicated to finding and supporting the next visionary filmmaker or technology and that fits right in with our goal as a Board. By working in support of the students at SCA we are ensuring that our industry has a bright future.” Gianopulos for his part explained: “I have long admired the commitment to being at the forefront of the cinematic arts that [Dean] Elizabeth Daley and USC have exemplified over the years.”
Related: Bryan Singer Donates $5M To USC Film School; Sumner Redstone Facility Christened
USC was funded in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929 and offers comprehensive programs in directing, producing, writing, critical studies, animation and digital arts, production, and interactive media. On Tuesday night, Hollywood bigwigs turned out for the Redstone building dedication which follows the Viacom Chairman’s donation of $10 million to the USC School Of Cinematic Arts kast January. The state-of-the-art production facility houses two soundstages, dubbed Redstone 1 and Redstone 2. Part of SCA’s new Cinematic Arts Complex, it features 2,600 square feet of production space for use by the about 1,000 students from the school’s various divisions who are studying production skills such as staging, lighting, directing, producing and forming/leading a crew. The building also is equipped with industry standard Strand dimming systems and Mole-Richardson lighting; floor lights, grip and electrical hardware; a Production Equipment Center; wooden stage floors; and soundproofing and soundproof utility doors, among many others features. “I’ve always said that content is king. It’s the lord of the realm. It’s the highest value in this industry,” Redstone told the crowd. “I’m hoping that adding my name to the Redstone building will further the art of storytelling and that, within its walls, the Spielbergs and Lucases of tomorrow will continue to make magic.” Read More »
The Hollywood Reporter is trumpeting that Fox Film chief Jim Gianopulos is “closing on a new long-term contract.” Well, thank you, Captain Obvious! It was clear to most that Jim G would be around awhile when the studio gave Tom Rothman his walking papers and anointed Gianopulos solo chairman. That just happened in September. Gianopulos since has been doing his part to make the place filmmaker friendlier and this week he made his first overall filmmaker deal by bringing in Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig to put the studio in the R-rated comedy business. As happens when your contract is expiring in 14 months, Gianopulos is working on a new 5-year deal to replace the old 5-year deal but that seems more like paperwork than revelation.
EXCLUSIVE: In the first overall filmmaker deal that 20th Century Fox Film has made since Jim Gianopulos became a solo act as Chairman/CEO, the studio has signed Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig to produce and direct films under his Feigco Entertainment banner. What Gianopulos and production president Emma Watts want from Feig is to get the studio squarely in the R-rated comedy business, a genre that continues to flourish in the marketplace.
Feig has given what the studio considers a strong R-rated laffer in The Heat. Releasing in April, the raucous comedy stars Sandra Bullock as an uptight FBI agent and Bridesmaids scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy as a foul-mouthed Boston cop. They team to take down a drug lord. Feig directed the female buddy cop film, and produced along with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin.
The goal is to take advantage of a burgeoning audience that has made Todd Phillips’ The Hangover series a global juggernaut and established the Seth MacFarlane-directed Ted as the top-grossing R-rated comedy ever in the international marketplace. MacFarlane, through Family Guy, is a Fox fixture, and while he made his feature directing debut for MRC and Universal, it’s clear that things are changing at Fox and that keeping strong directors in the fold is a big priority. Feig, who created the Emmy-winning cult fave series Freaks And Geeks, will generate comedies with established … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Studio moguls often come into their jobs roaring like a lion. But then they leave like a lamb. Such was the case when a kinder and gentler Tom Rothman came back onto the Fox lot this week for his on-the-downlow swan song held at the Fox commissary. “It was very warm and cordial and packed with a ton of people,” one insider tells me about the goodbye party Monday night. An estimated 250-300 invitation-only guests ate and drank in honor of Rothman, who was ousted in that September 14th studio shakeup and left the lot on October 12th. Those there were mostly Fox film employees, but also (in random order) Ridley Scott, Aline Brosh McKenna, Bart Walker, Bryan Lourd, Dave Wirtschafter, Hutch Parker, Jim Mangold, Lili Zanuck, Mark Gordon, Peter Farrelly, Peter Chernin, Lauren Shuler Donner, Robert Newman, Simon Kinberg, John Davis, and Peter Rice. Rothman’s longtime Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Jim Gianopulos — now solely chairman/CEO of Twentieth Century Fox Film — spoke first about their time together and all that they went through in their daily business. Like how Gianopulos came up with a signal in meetings to get Tom to stop talking (more like quiet down) by pulling on his ear. Jim said he noticed one day that his earlobe was longer than the other from tugging on it so much that he simply had to stop. Then, with a “gracious” nod to Rothman’s career slate of movies, Gianopulos introduced a reel. contd.
After, Gianopulos called up senior staff (presidents, etc) and Fox 2000 head Elizabeth Gabler spoke on their behalf ”emotionally” about Rothman. She showed one of the leather-bound scripts they presented him as a gift from all the films he had worked on during his 18-year tenure. Then the assembled group “raised a glass together and toasted him”. With that, Rothman spoke to the assembled group. As always, he was very articulate and intelligent but also ”warm and witty and self-deprecating”, said one of my sources. Described another, “Nice speech. It was nostalgic, sad, but classy to the end”. Naturally, there were lots of inside jokes. In a town where a new Mercedes Read More »
Finally opening wide today after a 10-year journey to the screen, director Ang Lee‘s epic and groundbreaking movie about the trecherous ocean voyage of two survivors of a shipwreck – a young man and an imposing Bengal Tiger – represents an enormous gamble for distributor 20th Century Fox. Even Lee who has won Oscars for equally groundbreaking fare such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Brokeback Mountain initally did not think this reported $120 million film based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel was viable. “I read it 10 years ago. I thought nobody in their right mind would put up more than $15 million for this. It’s too risky, too philosophical a book although it has great adventure in the middle part, the ocean part, but it’s a thinking book. So I didn’t think it was artistically filmable or technically so,” he told me when he came to town last week for a series of well-attended promotional screenings for the WGA, PGA, SAG, DGA and the Academy which drew a strong crowd Sunday night.
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Lee wasn’t the only one who thought Life of Pi was unfilmable. Fox had been developing the picture with other filmmakers since aquiring the property in 2002 but until Lee got involved five years ago it was stalled. Even then it almost didn’t come together but the director prevailed in explaining his vision and the need to shoot it in 3D, his first time using that process. “I thought of 3D, that maybe with another dimension I could take a leap of faith. That was way before I knew what 3D was. It was a naive thought. Read More »
MPAA Arranges Studio-Guild D.C. Lobbying
UPDATE, 1:50 PM: Movie studios took Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and California Rep. Darrell Issa to task today after they unveiled draft anti-piracy legislation that could serve as an alternative to the Senate’s PROTECT IP Act and the House’s Stop Online Piracy Act. The two current bills have created a furor about how to police overseas Web sites that traffic in pirated entertainment: Content companies want to give federal officials authority to block the sites. Tech companies say that would put too much power into the government’s hands, which could lead to abuses. The MPAA supports PROTECT IP and SOPA, and challenged a key part of Wyden and Issa’s legislation: They would have the U.S. International Trade Commission, instead of federal courts, handle anti-piracy cases. That “allows companies profiting from online piracy to advocate for foreign rogue websites against rightful American copyright holders,” says Michael O’Leary, MPAA’s Senior EVP Global Policy and External Affairs. ITC is set up to oversee patent cases, not criminal ones, and therefore would favor tech companies that deal with patent law all the time, he adds. But Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) — a co-sponsor of the new legislation, called the Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade (OPEN) Act –told The Hill blog that it’s ”a good starting point for future discussions on how to best protect U.S. intellectual property rights.”
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EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Fox 2000 EVP Carla Hacken is leaving the studio to become president of production for New Regency. It is the latest move in a restructuring of the company since Arnon Milchan reemerged as an active chairman and installed former Paramount Pictures production president Brad Weston as CEO with a mandate to become a more filmmaker-driven concern.
New Regency is partly owned by News Corp, whose 20th Century Fox distributes and often co-finances Regency-generated films. The move was orchestrated with the cooperation of Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman and Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler.
“Jim, Tom and Liz have been great partners and are incredibly gracious about Carla,” Weston told me in confirming the move. “They see this as a terrific opportunity for her, and a great way to help support New Regency. Arnon and I couldn’t be more appreciative.”
Hacken was an ICM agent when she was brought into the Fox 2000 fold 15 years ago by Laura Ziskin. She has worked closely with Gabler and developed such films as Unfaithful, The Devil Wears Prada, Walk The Line, Bride Wars, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and its sequel, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Love & Other Drugs and In Her Shoes.
There has long been a tradition of cross pollination between Fox and New Regency (which is based on the lot). That includes Sanford Panitch (who moved from Fox to Regency and now steers Fox International Productions) … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A major shake up is taking place at Arnon Milchan’s New Regency. Co-chairmen Bob Harper and Hutch Parker will not renew their contracts when they expire in December. I’ve confirmed with Harper that he and Parker are negotiating their exits. There had recently been a ripple of rumors about this, and there will be the inevitable speculation over whether the duo are jumping before being pushed. Harper didn’t get into that, but said that he was confirming because he and Parker were aware of the rumors and were most concerned with reassuring filmmakers with Regency projects that the duo would continue to be closely involved and see those films through to release. Harper also said the decision came after months of conversations with Milchan over whether or not to renew. Recently, they came to the conclusion that this was the best course. Milchan could conceivably name a replacement quickly, but Harper told me that he and Parker will continue to see through the completed films as well as some of the projects that are gearing up for production starts, regardless of how quickly the succession takes place.
Harper had been in the job for four years (he moved from the post of vice chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment and has worked for Fox since 1986), and Parker had been in the post for more than three years (he moved over from the post of 20th Century Fox vice chairman, and had been with the studio 13 years when he took the job). They have been involved in every facet of New Regency films, including production, marketing, distribution and administering the library. Harper said it is unclear what will happen next year, and that he and Harper haven’t solidified their plans. I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain on the Fox lot as producers or in some other capacity. Read More »