Ashok Amritraj’s company came home from AFM with a raft of sales for the features Life Of Crime, The Fall Guy and Christ The Lord. Hyde Park International closed deals for Daniel Schecter’s Jennifer Aniston starrer Life of Crime in territories including the UK (Artificial Eye), Canada (VVS), Germany (Constantin). Sales for McG’s actioner The Fall Guy, starring Dwayne Johnson and based on the ’80s TV series, included StudioCanal for the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand. And Cyrus Nowrasteh’s Christ the Lord, based on the Anne Rice novel about Jesus’ early years, sold to Germany (Tele-Munchen), Latin America (Swen), Middle East (Gulf Film) and elsewhere. Hyde Park also closed deals for the pics in other territories.
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime film writer Amy Nicholson has been named full-time film critic at LA Weekly. Her hire was made by parent company Voice Media Group, and her reviews will also appear in VMG’s other 10 newspapers. Nicholson will work with Voice Media’s principal film critic Stephanie Zacharek, who is based at NY’s Village Voice, which has been revamping staff recently. Nicholson, a former LA Weekly intern, has freelanced for PMC’s Movieline, the Los Angeles Times, Movies.com, Fandango.com and IndieWire. She was film editor at Inland Empire Weekly from 2006-2010. Most recently, she was editor-in-chief of Boxoffice Magazine. She starts her new post later this month.
The venerable alternative newspapers plus 11 others are part of a buyout announced last night that will separate them from Backpage.com, the classified ad service that critics say promotes prostitution. The chief operating officer of Village Voice Media Holdings, Scott Tobias, led the team buying the papers, called Voice Media Group. Terms weren’t disclosed, except that Backpage.com is not included. The site known for its classified ads offering “escorts” had been a “distraction,” Tobias — who’s CEO of the new Voice Media Group – told AP. In March, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof said that Backpage played “a major role in the trafficking of minors or women who are coerced.” Goldman Sachs responded by selling its stake in the site. The Voice said that Kristof had it wrong, and that Backpage “dedicates hundreds of staff to screen adult classifieds in order to keep juveniles off the site and to work proactively with law enforcement in their efforts to locate victims.” Read More »
Video below. Politico says comedian turned U.S. Senate candidate Al Franken helped head writer Seth Meyers brainstorm tonight’s SNL opening sketch mocking John McCain. Ugh, it was lame. Not funny at all. In fact, the whole show stank.
Few people in Hollywood actually like Aaron Sorkin, least of all his fellow Writer’s Guild scribes who recently learned about his attempts to undermine the guild’s solidarity behind the writers strike. But NBC political anchors really really like him. Last night, NBC’s Brian Williams and MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann had an on-air bromance over, of all things, Aaron Sorkin’s writing. Both men, twice on the telecast, compared Barack Obama’s Democratic National Convention acceptance speech to a scene in Sorkin’s pic The American President where President Andrew Shepherd rails against his political opponent. (See YouTube below…) Here’s the thing: film reviewers found the weakest part of that Sorkin movie was its naive view of politics. As the Los Angeles Times‘ movie critic Kenny Turan wrote, the pic is filled with ”fantasies [and] pipe dreams about the American political system and where it could theoretically be headed”. I don’t know which is more humiliating for Williams and Olbermann: that they couldn’t compare Obama’s speech to something real, like nomination acceptance speeches from the past … or they tried to praise Obama’s speech and wound up unwittingly dissing it… or that they think Aaron Sorkin is so quotable.
Hot button documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has come out today on his website and in the media with his blueprint for “losing the most winnable presidential election in American history” taken from his new book, Mike’s Election Guide. The Oscar winner says his thesis is based on the Democrats’ past losing campaigns. “Just follow each of these steps and you, the Democratic Party establishment, can help elect John Sidney McCain III to a four-year extension of the Bush Era.” Here’s a brief synopsis of Moore’s talking points. No. 6 is especially intriguing:
6. Denounce me! Obama, at some point, might be asked this question: “Michael Moore has endorsed you. But he recently said (fill in the blank with some outrageously offensive line taken out of context). Will you still accept his endorsement, or do you denounce him?” And he better denounce me, or they will tear him to shreds.
He had better back away not only from me but from anyone and everyone who veers a bit too far to the left of where his advisers have told him is the sweet spot for all those red-state voters. I won’t take it personally. After all, I’m not the guy who married him or baptized his kids. I’m just the idiot who went to the same terrorist, Muslim school of flag-pin desecrators he went to.
I remember poor John Kerry not even being able to admit, when asked
George Clooney this afternoon just responded to published reports that he is phoning and texting Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on everything from the Middle East to body language. FOXNews.com today posted an account by the London Daily Mail claiming Clooney and Obama regularly chat by email and text message, speak by phone at least twice a week, and have ”struck up this amazing affinity”. The paper also claimed the actor is informally advising the candidate on Middle East issues, including advocating unconditional withdrawal from Iraq should Obama win office. In recent days, Republican presidential candidate has been trying to use Obama’s “celebrity” status against him in a series of TV ads aimed at getting the most media exposure possible. And they have.
But Clooney just issued this statement through his publicist denying all the claims: ”I have never texted or emailed Senator Obama. And I’ll offer a million dollars to anyone who could prove otherwise. In fact, I’ve only talked to the Senator once in the last year and a half….on the phone. I’ve spent more time with Senator McCain (he did my TV show) then I have with Senator Obama. I would hope that my friend John McCain would join me in condemning this kind of politics. Although I support Senator Obama, I would never be dumb enough to offer policy advice to either candidate. They seem to be doing fine without me.”
The two photos of Clooney and Obama (shown above) were taken on April 27, 2006, as they arrived for a National Press Club program and prss conference in Washington … Read More »
California governator Arnold Schwarzenegger is so useless — and not just because nearly every morning he sits around drinking coffee in a Brentwood cafe instead of tending to state business in Sacramento. Now, instead of helping the California economy by stopping the networks’ and studios’ runaway production, he’ll seek headlines tomorrow by announcing a “major Hollywood anti-smoking initiative” with the Entertainment Industry Foundation.
And read up on the similarities between Hellboy and Arnold. Separated at birth:
Tonight the AMPTP issued this statement on something they call “final offer retroactivity.” (But if you ask me, it just sounds like the Hollywood moguls don’t want their summer vacations interrupted…):
“The Producers remain committed to making a deal with SAG as soon as possible, which is why the AMPTP’s final offer would make the wage and salary increases retroactive to July 1, 2008 if the agreement is ratified by SAG’s membership no later than August 15, 2008. Under the final offer, if the new agreement is not ratified by August 15, 2008, all changes in terms and conditions would become effective in the first payroll period after ratification. The Producers have included this traditional incentive in the final offer in order to get everyone back to work and end the de facto strike. The Producers’ final offer includes more than $250 million in additional compensation over the course of the three year contract, as well as groundbreaking new media terms. We remain hopeful that SAG will accept our final offer and that its members will ratify the new agreement so that these economic gains can go into effect at the earliest possible period.”
And SAG shot back:
“As management knows, and as we have often stated, the Screen Actors Guild national negotiating committee’s goal is to bargain a fair contract for our members. Our committee is at this very moment finalizing its response to the employers’ proposal of June 30. SAG’s national negotiating committee is scheduled to deliver that response at AMPTP
Bernie Weinraub, the retired Hollywood and political correspondent for The New York Times (and my pal), has not one but two plays previewing. His drama The Accomplices about Jewish activists who sought aid from the U.S. government to stop the Holocaust, makes its West Coast premiere at the Fountain Theatre July 12-August 24. The play won a Stellar Network award, which led to its premiere in New York by The New Group in March 2007 and a Drama Desk Award nomination for Best New Play. It had its second production at the Biltmore’s GableStage in Coral Gables, Florida. Weinraub’s second play, Above the Fold, about journalism, was recently accepted by New York Stage & Film for its 2008 Reading Festival, part of the Powerhouse Theater Festival at Vassar this summer. The reading was directed by Will Frears and starred Famke Jansen. Weinraub, of course, is married to Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal.
News reports say Barack Obama raised nearly $5 million at yesterday’s celebrity- and mogul-packed fundraiser at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. The asking price for a ticket to the gala’s general reception for Obama’s campaign was $2,300. Tickets to the VIP dinner were $28,500 for the Democratic National Committee. The Center for Responsive Politics, analyzing fundraising data released May 21, said Obama had collected more than $4 million from the movie, TV and music businesses. (Clinton raised $3.4 million from showbiz, and McCain collected $636,000.) So far, for the 2008 election cycle, the entertainment industry has donated a total $22.4 million with 76% going to Democrats. But that only ranks 10th among biggest sector donors to the Democrats. In turn, Obama can hardly be called the “Hollywood candidate” since only one showbiz company appears among the biggest donors on his money web charted by the Center For Responsive Politics. Which one? Surprisingly, National Amusements Inc, which is privately held by Sumner Redstone (80%) and his daughter Shari Redstone (20%). A Viacom insider explains: “They (CFRP) roll up everyone who donates from CBS or Viacom under National Amusements because it is the controlling shareholder. It’s a very imprecise survey.” Redstone himself gave to Hillary Clinton and Rudy Guiliani — not to Obama (yet). Here’s the graphic:
I’ve just been told by a source that George Carlin died this evening. This is indeed shocking. Last week, it was announced that on November 10th the veteran comic whose infamous “Filthy Words” routine reached all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court would be the 11th person inducted into the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ pantheon of humor and receive this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. (Past winners include Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin.) Reuters now also has Carlin’s death, reporting that he died at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica of heart failure at age 71. Hollywood has long loved Carlin as a gentle and considerate man. But what the funnyman courageously did to fight censorship over the airwaves on radio and television is the legacy he leaves behind for the entertainment and media biz.
The winners of the 2008 AltWeekly Awards were announced yesterday in Philadelphia at a luncheon held as part of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ annual convention for alternative newsweeklies across the United States and Canada. The contest administered by Northwestern University’s Medill School Of Journalism seeks to “promote excellence by recognizing work that is well written, incisively reported and effectively challenges established orthodoxies.”
Media Reporting/Criticism Circulation Over 55,000 First Place: Nikki Finke, “Deadline Hollywood” columns, LA Weekly
For these three columns: Goodbye Baquet, Hello O’Shea: The Chicagoan comes out fighting; Dangerous Liaisons: More hanky-panky than a whorehouse in LAT opinion section; and Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid: The Sopranos-like takeover of Tribune Co. could mean cement shoes for employees.
UPDATE: Sources close to Arianna Huffington are claiming just that. Arianna Huffington is currently on book tour for her new political tome Right Is Wrong: How The Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded The Constitution, And Made Us All Less Safe, in which she goes after Tim Russert (and justifiably so). She’s booked all over CNN, ABC, and CBS (but not Fox News Channel because she chose not to go on there). And NBC? Well, one insider says she was booked on Keith Olberman and Morning Joe to talk about her tome — and then unbooked. “These are shows that call her regularly to come on. And then the word came from on high that she had to be cancelled.” Arianna’s accolytes are pointing the finger at Tim Russert, well known to be ridiculously thin-skinned, for blackballing her internally at NBC and not permitting her on any of the NBC network or cable outlets.
It’s certainly possible, considering how much clout the Washington bureau chief wields at the company (not to mention how much profit his Meet The Press yields for the company). NBC did confirm to me that Arianna Huffington won’t be booked on any of the NBC network or cable shows past or present or future for her book. (Interestingly, a Knopf source says the publisher was never given a definitive no. “We were just told to ‘Call back tomorrow.’ There was never any explanation.”) Granted Right Is Wrong is only #209 on … Read More »
Hardball political consultants Lehane & Fabiani advising the AMPTP for $100,000 a month “may boost the likelihood of Washington-style political hijinks” in the WGA strike. “Things are going to get much more negative in Los Angeles — and the strike will increasingly be linked to the approaching presidential primary,” according to Sacramento political writer Bill Bradley writing in LA Weekly (my newspaper).
The so-called “masters of disaster” Mark Fabiani and Chris Lehane are “translating the slash-and-burn partisan style they learned inside the Washington DC Beltway to Hollywood… Their clients are not horribly flawed Democratic leaders, but wealthy divisions of vast transnational corporations. Some bigtime Democrats are outraged. Andy Stern, powerful chief of the huge Service Employees International Union, flatly tells LA Weekly he is out to ‘blacklist’ them from getting paid to oversee labor-affiliated political campaigns and ballot measures in the future.”
Further, “the entry of Fabiani and Lehane into the fray is fast becoming an awkward issue in the Democratic presidential campaigns… All of the top Democratic presidential candidates publicly support the writers. Hillary Clinton, for whom they both worked during the late Clinton administration, has walked the picket line with the writers.”
But the article also clarifies what role the firm plays with Hillary’s campaign now. “Lehane has been working for Clinton locally — recently fighting a plan by Republicans in Sacramento to change California’s presidential vote in the Electoral College.”
Here’s my post from October 12th that reported this would happen and my column from LA Weekly that fleshes out the story. So the Warner Bros news release was just sent to me about Jeff Robinov’s promotion to president of the Warner Bros Pictures Group effective January 2008. He’ll oversee a reorganized division to include worldwide production, marketing and distribution operations as well as Warner Independent Pictures. So this is a very big job. But with limitations because, interestingly, boss Alan Horn still retains final greenlight authority even if he does seem to relinquish day to day oversight of everything else to Robinov. Hollywood will certainly be buzzing about this expected, but still unexpected, development because of the slump that Warner Pictures has been in of late (with a few exceptions). I’ll have a separate analysis later, probably tomorrow…
November 26, 2007 – Burbank, CA) Jeff Robinov has been named President of the newly formed Warner Bros. Pictures Group, which brings together the Studio’s motion picture production, marketing and distribution operations as well as Warner Independent Pictures into a single entity. Robinov will assume his new post January 2008, it was announced today by Alan F. Horn, President & Chief Operating Officer, Warner Bros., to whom he will continue to directly report, and who will continue to have final greenlight approval of the Studio’s films.
In his new post, Robinov will assume greatly expanded responsibilities beyond those of his previous position as President,
Two new articles about the picketing WGA members laughing until they cry. Or something like that… this in Monday’s The New York Times, and this in LA Weekly. The latter boasts this chant which I hadn’t heard before: “Treat us fairly, Mr. Zucker. We’re not your two-bit hooker.”
IATSE sources tell me that the number of TV shows that have shut down because of the writers walkout was 50 at the beginning of this week. And, by the end of this week, that number will be over 100. Here’s my latest LA Weeklycolumn on the strike and TV.
So I told you last night that bigtime entertainment lawyer Deborah Klein is leaving the Century City law firm that bears her name, Barnes Morris Klein Mark Yorn Barnes & Levine and how it caught all her partners by surprise. I just learned she’s on her way to Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum & Morris and taking all her clients with her, including Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Samuel Jackson, Paul Rudd, Mina Suvari and Toni Collette among others. That’s a marquee boost for Jackoway Tyerman which already reps Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz, J.J. Abrams and others.
The timing of Klein’s departure is interesting because Barnes Morris Klein has made a huge effort to become more high-profile on the occasion of its 10th anniversary in 2006. It moved into expansive and expensive lavishly decorated digs in the CAA building in Century City, it hired an outside publicist, and it arranged for a major article on the firm to appear in Variety. But I’m told Klein disagreed with these and other management decisions and requested over the summer to become an “independent satellite” inside the firm. Still, as late as Friday managing partner Kevin Morris had no idea Klein was about to leave.
I recently wrote about Klein in my LA Weekly column about The Worst Talent Deal Ever. And I also wrote extensively about Jackoway Tyerman, which used to be Barry Hirsch’s firm until he defected to start his own practice, and then sued his former partners.