And now for something completely different: Gustavo Dudamel, the photogenic, tennis-playing globe-trotting music director of the L.A. Philharmonic brought a touch of levity to Cosi Fan Tutte this weekend by proving his chops as a baritone, singing just one line — all that was needed to win raves for what Los Angeles Times critic Mark Swed described as a “nasty yet startlingly illuminating new production” of Mozart’s most sexist opera or his most ambiguous, or both, depending on Da Ponte of view. In the New York Times, Zachary Woolfe described Dudamel as “calmly and completely in command.” The charismatic Venezuelan has brought star-power and youthful vitality to Walt Disney Concert Hall, making the L.A. Philharmonic one of the hottest bands in the country. While this production took some hits from the critics, they weren’t aimed at the conductor. The presentation, which is being repeated on Thursday and Saturday, is the last in Dudamel’s exploration of the three operas Mozart wrote with Lorenzo Da Ponte (the earlier ones were Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro.
The added inducement was to have each production created by a superstar designers. In this case, the blanched, curving, set is by Zaha Hadid Architects (to my eye, a homage to Eiko Ishioka’s iconic set for M. Butterfly) and costumes by Hussein Chalayan. In Cosi, two men accept a challenge to disguise themselves and attempt to seduce their … Read More »
LAObserved.com just posted a memo from Sallie Hofmeister, the LA Times‘ incredibly mediocre Assistant Managing Editor for Arts & Entertainment. More interested in celebrity coverage than substantive beat reporting, Hofmeister exhorts her showbiz blog staff to try to have “an original thought” from time to time which ”readers can use to sound smart in a meeting or cocktail party”. Isn’t it swell to be so trivialized, Hollywood? By the way, several current LA Times entertainment beat staffers have approached Deadline about jobs recently. They don’t want to work anymore for Silly Sallie.
UPDATE: Here’s the reason why Michael Eisner is first choice among prospective candidates who could operate Tribune Co once it emerges from bankruptcy: John Angelo of NYC hedge fund Angelo Gordon & Co which is one of the Chicago-based media company’s biggest creditors. (See photo of Angelo, Eisner’s son, and Eisner.) Not only are Eisner and Angelo childhood pals who grew up together. “He was my sidekick from the age of 6,” Eisner said in his autobiography about Angelo, whose mother was in turn Eisner’s mother’s BFF. In the book’s acknowledgements, Eisner equates Angelo with his own sister because they ”have been an important part of my life longer than almost anyone else”. Even now, the two men remain best friends and Angelo’s son Jesse (an editor at the New York Post) is Eisner’s godson. Eisner even devotes a chapter to Angelo Gordon & Co in his forthcoming book, Working Together: Why Great Partnerships Succeed and describes Angelo as someone who “I know as well as perhaps anyone, aside from my own wife and children.”
On Angelo’s advice, Eisner, 68, has been accumulating Tribune Co debt. Tribune Co and its creditors are still struggling to negotiate a settlement. But just last week, the latest round of talks surrounding the disastrous Sam Zell management collapsed. On Friday, Tribune Co is supposed to submit a proposed settlement plan which the court could approve. It’s clear that senior creditors like Angelo Gordon & Co will end up owning Tribune Co because of their $8.6 billion in claims. Meanwhile, Angelo Gordon Co has accumulated several newspaper holdings post-bankruptcies in the last year. Because of the Angelo connection, Eisner was first approached about becoming a member of a reconfigured Tribune board by him. Reports say those conversations led to discussion of a potentially larger role for Eisner with Tribune Co, and today he is being touted for the top job. Read More »
UPDATE: Bizarrely, LA Times entertainment chief Sallie Hofmeister didn’t bother to even mention that Julie Makinen, formerly Julie Bowles, worked at The Hollywood Reporter briefly. Very briefly.
Previous: Earlier this week, I pointed out that both the new Movie Editor and TV Editor for The New York Times have zero experience with Hollywood. (New Movie And TV Editors For NY Times) Now the Los Angeles Times has announced its new Movie Editor replacing the incredibly mediocre Tim Swanson: her name is Julie Makinen, and she’s never covered showbiz or overseen its reporting. But the memo says she makes great ice cream. How can we take these newsosaurs seriously?
My pal Claudia Eller has a funny little scoop on the LA Times website about how Starz chief Chris Albrecht made a Blackberry mistake that led to Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett’s exit from Overture. (So I gotta ask: is this why moguls like Alan Horn and Ron Meyer refuse to use smart phones or even computers?) On July 1, Albrecht began a vacation in Majorca and read a hush-hush e-mail about the future of the Overture duo. Albrecht tapped out a confidential response suggesting that when he returned on July 12th there should be a discussions about removing the pair. But the reply went to approximately 400 Starz employees and senior executives — including McGurk and Rosett.
UPDATE 5:45 PM: Ron Burkle and Harvey Weinstein just issued this joint statement in response to Disney insiders telling the media (including Deadline) that the Miramax deal with them is “dead”:
“The Weinstein Brothers, The Weinstein Company and Ron Burkle are all working towards a deal to purchase and operate Miramax. The parties continue to work diligently towards an agreement.”
3:15 PM: A report in the Los Angeles Times just pronounced the deal dead for Ron Burkle to buy Miramax from Disney and have Harvey and Bob Weinstein run it. The paper cites multiple sources who said the deal fell apart in the final stages over money. However, it is premature to throw dirt on the coffin. A Weinstein insider just told me the deal is not dead. And I have other sources who described talks are tense right now, but not over. They say this has been a study in leverage, with Disney wanting to squeeze every last dollar out of Burkle for the library. The studio believed it had the upper hand because Harvey badly wanted to announce its completion during the Cannes Film Festival, specifically during Weinstein’s beachfront bash last Saturday. The sources tell me that Disney has now seized on the strategy of holding the Miramax name hostage, which was a sentimental draw for the Weinstein bros in the first place.
She died Saturday at age 86. She was the first film editor to get a solo credit on a feature, 1967′s Bonnie And Clyde for which she “revolutionized imagery, sound, and pace” and ”included a staccato tempo sometimes called shock cutting, and beginning the sound from the next scene while the previous scene was still playing,” which all ushered in a new aesthetic that’s now the standard in Hollywood moviemaking,” says the Los Angeles Times‘ excellent obituary today.
E5 Global Media CEO Richard Beckman just informed the staff about Eric Mika’s exit. It’s hardly unexpected. Ever since Beckman was hired in January, he has been telling people outside the trade — but, deliberately, not the staff — that he plans massive firings at The Hollywood Reporter because the company plans to abandon the traditional trade format and formula. Instead it will become a small online showbiz news aggregator, and a glossy magazine, and a cable TV programmer which all depend on whether The Hollywood Reporter brand itself is marketable. On the other hand, there is a real possibility that the new owners may just flip the property or take on outside partners instead of exploit it themselves. So the future of The Hollywood Reporter as we all knew it remains a big question mark right now.
Meanwhile, I recently confirmed that e5 Global Media tried to hire away Los Angeles Times VP of entertainment advertising Lynne Segall around the same time that the company tried to hire me as THR editor-in-chief. But Segall wasn’t eager to return to her former haunt where she last served as VP and associate publisher before leaving in 2006. I’ve learned that Segall listened to e5′s bait but didn’t bite.
It may be nearly impossible for the new owners of THR to convince Hollywood advertisers, who’ve virtually stopped supporting the trade in its current beleaguered state, to come back. Beckman is convinced he doesn’t need them because of his advertising and promotions expertise from Conde Nast/Fairchild.
Many very smart people think the new owners might just dump THR if they … Read More »
Oy, now there’s even more about Oscar badmouthing, and this is even more unimportant. I’ve learned that Hurt Locker financier and producer Nicolas Chartier today admitted to Summit Entertainment he sent more emails about Avatar. But these weren’t mass mailings to Oscar voters; rather, they were simply individual messages sent to personal acquaintances, including one that specifically said Avatar should be placed No. 10 on the Best Pictures list. Sources tell me that Chartier copped to it when Summit’s Rob Friedman today picked up the phone to question the producer about a new allegation from a Los Angeles Times blog that there were more Chartier emails. That prompted Summit to send out the following statement just now: “Summit and our consultants were completely unaware of any emails that were sent until we were alerted by the Academy earlier this week. Thus we also had no additional knowledge of different text that may have been sent by this producer.”
Summit through its flacks have asked LA Times blogger Pete Hammond to forward even one of the emails mentioned today, but the blogger has refused. His reason? It would “violate the confidentiality” of the recipient who is the producer’s personal acquaintance “so Chartier would know who it is” if made public. I have not seen these personal emails myself. I do think, however, that the Los Angeles Times should have explained in its posting that there was no other mass mailing to Oscar voters by Chartier. It makes a … Read More »
The Los Angeles Times must be desperate. Rachel Abramowitz is peddling the story of Angelina Jolie-as-Kay Scarpetta (novelist Patricia Cornwall’s signature character) as news when Mike Fleming wrote it for Variety back on April 21, 2009. By the way, his Deadline|New York site debuts on March 2nd. I’m going to miss sharing Deadline|Hollywood with him these past weeks. We caused trouble!
This email just went out from Los Angeles Times deputy arts & culture editor Sherry Stern. But I’m sure the paper’s exhaustive coverage of superstar makeup and celebrity footwear won’t suffer:
Hi. I’m writing this time to let you know that as of tomorrow our page size shrinks.. As a result we generally are shortening stories by 10%.
Most Sunday stories should run between 1000 and 1200 words. Most daily reviews should be 350 or so words.
These are rules of thumb and we can and should discuss in advance based on the story or event.
Let me know if you have questions.
Los Angeles Times is announcing that Scott Sandell, the Calendar morning editor, will become deputy online arts & entertainment editor reporting to Lisa Fung. As if anyone bothers to read that newspaper in print or online.
My longtime galpal Claudia Eller has been promoted to “player-coach” for the Los Angeles Times‘ Company Town, effective tomorrow. What the heck does that mean? According to the internal announcement, “Claudia will continue to cover the movie studios for Company Town, but will devote about a fourth of her time to helping John Lippman manage coverage.”
WEDNESDAY AM UPDATE: Los Angeles management told editors at a meeting this morning that, yes, more layoffs are planned. But management is claiming the 40 number is too high, and no film writers are involved. If anyone’s job has been saved because of adverse publicity, then great. (I’ve added a question mark about the Calendar staff cuts. But two prominent film writers were targeted, trust me.) Now I’m told there will be a big push LA Times-wide in coming months to turn staff writers into freelance writers.
TUESDAY: More bad news for newspapers: I’ve learned that the Los Angeles Times expects to make as many as 40 layoffs before the end of this year, and it’s likely that two senior film writers with well known bylines will be cut. (Yet the newspaper just hired a Hollywood Reporter film hack on the cheap. It’s all about dollars and cents there these days, not quality.) Meanwhile, The Washington Post just announced it will close its Los Angeles Bureau by December 31st. Looks like Hollywood will be covered entirely out of the paper’s headquarters now.
I’m receiving word that Tina Daunt who wrote the “Cause Celebre” column about Hollywood politics is included in a new wave of layoffs by the Los Angeles Times, which has already bought out or fired so many people that it’s a wonder the paper comes out every morning. But, so far, almost all of the LAT‘s entertainment and media coverage has stayed intact. Meanwhile, The New York Times announced yesterday it plans to eliminate 100 newsroom jobs — about 8% of the total — by year’s end, offering buyouts to union and non-union employees, and resorting to layoffs if it cannot get enough people to leave voluntarily. This follows a previous buyout/layoff there in the spring of 2008. In that round, about 15 to 20 journalists were cut.
I am shocked and dismayed that the Los Angeles Times is so lacking in original content reported by its scores of entertainment beat journalists that it would post a list of liked and disliked Hollywood figures compiled by an anonymous snarker who runs a temp website. I’m not kidding so it bears repeating: the author of “The Brown List” runs a website for temporary workers and is self admittedly neither a Hollywood insider nor responsible journalist. And this poll received just 1,200 responses from people who could vote for as many names as they wanted, and as many times as they wanted. So the LA Times‘ Patrick Goldstein should apologize to readers, and also to Hollywood, for lending credence to a list that is the definition of meaningless.
UPDATE: The paper just announced that Nancie Clare was promoted from deputy editor to editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine. I learned the bomb was dropped this afternoon on experienced editor Annie Gilbar, who made the Los Angeles Times Magazine wonderfully readable and visual and vital to the city again, as well as to Hollywood, something that publication hasn’t been for a long long time. Problem is, there’s no advertising for it no matter if it’s good or not. So now the newpaper’s editor Russ Stanton and publisher Eddy Hartenstein have decided, stupidly, to give back the magazine to editorial. Also fired is the head of production responsible for the incredible look of the magazine, Marc Barrington. “It was a business decision. Annie was making $300,000 a year, Marc $200,000, so that’s half a million which they wanted to save,” an insider tells me. (Yikes, imagine if the newsroom knew salaries like that were being paid!) Now the paper will be edited and produced from inside the LA Times, and it will be crappy all over again.
Why does everytime the Los Angeles Times makes an entertainment coverage personnel move, the positions always sound identical? The newspaper today announced Lisa Fung as Online Arts & Entertainment Editor to oversee multimedia coverage of all arts and entertainment, including Calendar, The Envelope and Company Town, as well as more than a dozen latimes.com blogs. In addition, Fung is supposed to develop new online properties. Fung has been with the LAT for more than 21 years and has overseen arts and culture coverage for the past nine years, including theater, architecture, classical music, dance and opera. Staffers tell me she’s humorless.