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Sundance: Universal Funding WikiLeaker Julian Assange Docu By Alex Gibney And Ex-Uni Chairman Marc Shmuger

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning documentary director Alex Gibney has found his next hot-button film subject. Universal Pictures has just acquired a documentary that Gibney will direct about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The film will be the first project involving Marc Shmuger since he left the chairman post at Universal. Shmuger and Gibney are producing.

Whether it’s Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, or the Jack Abramoff  documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Gibney usually tells his stories with input from his subjects. Will Assange cooperate? I’m told it’s inconclusive. Universal  confirmed the deal but wouldn’t elaborate. The WikiLeaks docu follows a deal announced yesterday by feature producers who optioned an upcoming book about Assange. There are plenty of those in the works, including a memoir Assange is writing to defray his massive legal fees. The Gibney/Shmuger documentary is the first film to involve a major studio. The studio component came through Shmuger, who is expected to reemerge as a producer at Universal.

Since launching his whistle-blower website in 2006, Assange has revealed some of the most serious secret government documents since The New York Times published The Pentagon Papers. They range from footage of an Apache helicopter’s firing fatally on journalists and civilians in Baghdad to last November’s deluge of diplomatic cables that left the U.S. government red-faced and outraged. Assange … Read More »

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Hot Sundance Clip: New York Times Docu ‘Page One’ And WikiLeaker Julian Assange

Mike Fleming

One of the Sundance documentaries showing up on buyer priority lists is Page One. Director Andrew Rossi camped out at the media desk of The New York Times for 14 months. Trust me, a chronicle of the day to day activities of out-of-shape journalists ordinarily would be like watching grass grow. But Rossi had timing on his side: he shot while the newspaper was struggling through a print decline that hobbled circulation and advertising. Rossi was on hand when the paper laid off 100 reporters. “The conceit of the film was I followed editors and reporters on the media desk as they covered stories about changing technology as the paper itself underwent tumultuous change and layoffs because of that technology,” Rossi said. Here’s an exclusive clip where reporter Brian Stelter chases an early story about WikiLeaker Julian Assange.

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In Other News: Lionsgate/Icahn, Spidey’s Fall Guy, Judith Miller, James Franco And Ailing Borders

The sharp elbowing between Lionsgate and Carl Icahn takes another turn in the courtroom. The Wall Street Journal reports that Lionsgate filed in court to force Icahn to disclose any confidential merger agreements he made with MGM. This continues Lionsgate’s assertion that Icahn was pushing for a merge between Lionsgate and MGM while lambasting Lionsgate management for exploring the same scenario. Lionsgate’s desire for transparency extended to an ask that Icahn fess up about a side deal he might have made with Mark Cuban to sell his stake. That info–which reportedly came from Girls Gone Wild kingpin Joe Francis–was refuted by Cuban, who told WSJ that if there was any questionable offer involved in the equation, it came when Lionsgate co-chairman Michael Burns made a third-party offer to buy his shares for more than whatever Icahn was willing to pay…

Christopher Tierney, the 31-year old actor/dancer who fell 30 feet and was badly hurt in a preview performance of Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, gave his first interview last night to Gotham’s WCBS-TV local news. Watch below as he describes an ordeal that included the following inventory of broken bones: 4 ribs, 3 vertebra, scapula, elbow, and the back of his head. It’s good to see Tierney moving around and even enthused about possibly returning to the show. But how’s that dancer’s body, full of screws and rods, going … Read More »

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Wikileaker Julian Assange Claims Memoirs Deal Worth $1.5 Million

By | Tuesday December 28, 2010 @ 4:56am PST
Mike Fleming

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, out on bail after an arrest for an alleged sex crime, has made a deal to write his memoirs for Random House’s Alfred A. Knopf label, and UK’s Canongate Books. More territorial sales will bring in additional revenue for a guy who has become a world famous figure reviled on Capitol Hill. Assange told Britain’s Sunday Times he’ll get $800,000 from Knopf, and slightly more than $500,000 from Canongate. He’ll use the money to pay legal bills and keep afloat his WikiLeaks website which this fall leaked 250,000 State Department documents that bared frank opinions on world leaders and foreign policy that were considered highly sensitive and embarrassing to the White House. Assange has denied the sex crime allegation and has implied he’s the victim of a smear campaign because of his truth-telling campaign. Most authors don’t disclose their advances, but Assange has made full disclosure of his, even though his publishers would not confirm the amount, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Zodiak To Distribute Wikileaks Documentary

By | Friday December 17, 2010 @ 7:10am PST
Nellie Andreeva

We’re still waiting for Wikileaks: the movie but in the meanwhile, here is Wikileaks: the documentary. Zodiak Rights, the international rights division of Zodiak  Media Group, has  signed a deal with  news agency Premières Lignes to distribute their documentary Wikileaks: War, Lies and Videotape.

Wikileaks: War, Lies and Videotape, directed by investigative reporters Luc Hermann and Paul Moreira, is described as a revealing documentary dissecting the controversial website whose journalists and hackers have gathered and published hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic and military documents. It follows the site’s enigmatic founder and new new enemy No. 1 of the Pentagon Julian Assange, including his recent arrest in London. Among the people interviewed for the documentary is Daniel Domscheit-Berg, former Wikileaks No.2 and spokesperson of the Wikileaks team, who is now a dissident after he quit the company this summer to open his own whistle-blowing website and publish a novel about “his time at the world’s most dangerous website”.  He claims that Wikileaks is too centered on the figure of Julian Assange with an authoritarian style which contrary to the originally planned transparency-focused mission.

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