Dave Letterman And Oprah Discuss Lindsay Lohan Like She’s Not There: Video

LisaColumn__131015210634-275x198Jimmy Fallon got Lindsay Lohan first — but David Letterman got her best when he turned her visit to his CBS late-night program into a sparring match with Oprah Winfrey, aka Lohan’s life coach/reality-series producer. In the segment taped today for tonight’s show (see the clip below), Lohan is the one who first said, “Should we call Oprah?” while she and Dave were talking. As befits the importance of the occasion — Lohan’s OWN ratings are taking a tumble,  with most recently episode scoring only 390,000 viewers — the child-star-turned-adult-actress-train-wreck is dressed as a bedazzled baby-grand piano.   Dave responds, grumpily, “No, we’re not.” This back and forth continued for a while — LettermanLohanLohan staunchly pro-Oprah-calling, Dave steadfastly anti-Oprah-calling, until the call is finally made. Raise your hand if you too thought all along that would be the outcome.

Dave starts off strong, throwing Oprah off by using another voice. “Who is this?” she asks dubiously, growing even frostier when he says he’s Lohan’s assistant — presumably because Oprah doesn’t take calls from assistants. “It’s Dave, Oprah,” Letterman cackles. “Oh my God –  Very good, Dave!” Winfrey says, graciously conceding the point, adding, “The David Letterman who’s retiring?”

They prattle on merrily for a brief while; Dave asks Oprah how she thinks Lohan is doing now that she has completed the latest rehab stint at the heart of her OWN reality series. “I think she’s doing OK, what do you think?” Oprah says, noncommittally,  not wanting to give away the ending of the series by pronouncing Lohan healed. “I loved her since she was 6 years old, Letterman responds, only slightly creepily. Read More »

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Discovery Upfront Presentation Returns Spotlight To Non-Fiction

PrintThis was a subtle contrast to last year when the company also highlighted scripted fare and trotted out a parade of celebrities including Mariel Hemingway, Morgan Freeman, William Hurt, LaToya Jackson, and NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon. Filmmaker Ron Howard was perhaps the biggest new name showing up this year: He told Discovery advertisers that New Form — the online content production venture he and Brian Grazer are launching with the Winter TCA Tour Discoverypay TV company — expects to “generate great scripted programming for today’s digital viewers.” They’re already weighing “several series” as they delve into “shortform content and all its possibilities.” Howard also intends to encourage other creative types to “bring their talent to New Form.” Oprah Winfrey returned, of course, to promote OWN. With its recent ratings success, “no one is happier than we are right now about what is happening to OWN.” She says the network is heading toward its “next evolution” with its first original scripted movie with Toni Braxton playing legendary studio singer Darlene Love, the focus of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. She also brought out Tyler Perry for a second year; he talked up his soap opera The Haves And The Have Nots

Related: Discovery Channel Unveils New Slate

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OWN Orders ‘Belief’ Series That Explores Search For Meaning & First TV Film Starring Toni Braxton As Darlene Love, Picks Up More Tyler Perry, Sets Octavia Spencer Mini

By | Thursday April 3, 2014 @ 7:00am PDT

OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network announced today six-time Grammy-winning artist and actress Toni Braxton is set to star as Darlene Love in oprahwinfreynetworkthe network’s first scripted TV film My Name Is Love: The Darlene Love Story.  In addition, superstar Justin Timberlake will kick off a star-studded new season of Oprah’s Master Class on May 11, and Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer will star in a two-night event mini-series Tulsa (working title) currently in development.

The network also announced today a groundbreaking seven-part television event Belief presented by Oprah Winfrey, which explores humankind’s search for meaning and connection.  Also, Tyler Perry’s popular drama series The Haves And The Have Nots and previously announced new series Single Moms Club (working title) each have received 20-episode orders. Here’s a look at the shows:
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Oprah Winfrey Locks Buyer For Chicago’s Harpo Studios

By | Sunday March 16, 2014 @ 10:43am PDT

Oprah Harpo Studios saleOprah Winfrey is set to sell her Harpo Studios to Chicago developer Sterling Bay after putting the complex up for sale months ago. A lease-back agreement will keep Winfrey’s media company on the site for two more … Read More »

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Lindsay Lohan’s OWN Reality Series Launch Attracts 693,000 Viewers

By | Monday March 10, 2014 @ 1:12pm PDT

lindsayoprayLindsay Lohan’s rehab reality series Lindsay on OWN opened in a highly crowded Sunday 10 PM time slot with about 200,000 fewer viewers than caught Lohan’s highly touted sit-down with Oprah Winfrey on OWN last August. That, in turn, had been a substantially smaller audience than some other Oprah-exclusive sit-downs on her cable network. This, just a few days after Lohan’s visit to Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s Tonight show to OWN_logo-2__130529151034-200x109__130919234649plug the launch of the OWN series logged a preliminary 3.2/9 household rating, which will likely translate to about 4 million-ish viewers when Nielsen gets them crunched.

Even so, OWN president Erik Logan calls the launch a success, noting Lohan’s opener achieved his network’s highest rating in the Sunday hour in 27 weeks with women 25-54 and that the series launch posted triple-digit gains in key demos versus the time slot’s prior six-week average (+178% in total viewers; +300% in women 25-54; +478% women 18-49), and double-digit gains versus the tim eslot one year ago (+57% in total viewers; +37% women 25-54; +73% women 18-49). Read More »

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‘The Wire’s David Simon Takes On Oprah-Produced HBO Mini On Martin Luther King

By | Wednesday March 5, 2014 @ 12:40pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: For years, I’ve been writing about all the futility davesimoninvolved in attempts to bring the life of iconic civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr to the screen. So here’s a big one. I’m hearing that David Simon, the architect of the HBO series The Wire, Homicide and most recently Treme, will spearhead the HBO six-hour miniseries adaptation of America: In The King Years, based on the celebrated book trilogy by Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch. Just as will happen with the Ava DuVernay-directed Selma, Oprah Winfrey will be backing this project as well in a producing capacity.

oprahWinfrey’s Harpo banner originally set up the three books at HBO in 2010 with the plan that it would be overseen by The Kentucky Cycle playwright Robert Schenkkan. While I’ve been trying to confirm the Simon part to no avail at HBO for weeks, I’m told reliably that Simon has assured Branch that he is taking on the project, which instantly becomes a beachhead project for HBO, covering King and his relationships with Lyndon Johnson, John F and Robert Kennedy, as well as the freedom rides, the Birmingham and Selma campaigns, and the poor people’s march on Washington that he was organizing when he was killed in Memphis. It is the perfect venue to tell the story of King’s long struggle.

I’ve heard that Simon will write at least the first episode, as well as the bible for the entire mini. He and Treme co-creator Eric Overmyer will see the entire mini through completion. This is a broad canvas, spanning Branch’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting The Waters, as well as Pillar Of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge. Read More »

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Hot TV Trailer: OWN’s First Look At ‘Lindsay’ Docu-Series

By | Wednesday March 5, 2014 @ 7:33am PST

Lindsay is premiering this Sunday at 10lindsayopray PM, and OWN has unveiled the 2-minute promo  that TV critics attending Winter TV Press Tour 2014 got to see in January. Last July, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network scored a big one when it signed train-wreck Lindsay Lohan to an eight-episode docu-series following her as she tried to stay sober and re-launch her career after a court-ordered rehab stint; it was part of a deal that also included Lohan’s post-rehab interview special on Oprah’s Next Chapter. The docu-series, directed by filmmaker Amy Rice (By The People: The Election of Barack Obama ), taped in August.

“There’s nothing left in having a drink for me. There’s no party I haven’t gone to, nobody I haven’t hung out with, no situation I haven’t been exposed to,” 27-year-old Lohan tells the camera as she swans here and there. Read More »

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Paramount To Make MLK Pic ‘Selma’; Oprah Winfrey Producing

By | Tuesday February 25, 2014 @ 7:55pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Big news on the MLK movie front. Paramount is in final negotiations to acquire dr-martin-luther-king-jr-5domestic distribution rights to Selma, a feature drama about Martin Luther King‘s 1965 landmark voting rights campaign regarded as the peak of the civil rights movement, and none other than Oprah Winfrey has boarded the project as producer. Paramount is tying down U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to the film. Ava DuVernay, who came aboard the project in July, rewrote the original script by Paul Webb and slipped it to Winfrey, who sparked to DuVernay’s rewrite. We’ve been waiting for a strong cinematic tribute to the iconic civil rights leader, and this remarkably becomes the second MLK project that Winfrey is involved with. Her Harpo also is behind a seven-part HBO miniseries America: In the King Years. Selma is on a much faster track. The plan is to get rollingParamountLogo_new in front of cameras as soon as possible. Lining up a domestic deal and a name of Winfrey’s caliber were key to getting the ball rolling, and when the deal makes production is expected to start right away. Pathe UK, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Christian Colson are already aboard as producers.

Winfrey’s presence both on and off the screen was a big reason Lee Daniels’ The Butler traveled so well overseas. The Butler has grossed $167.7 million to date — more than $50M of that internationally. This gives Selma a leg up on the other two major features that are percolating. Oliver Stone last month saw a script rewrite on his MLK biopic rejected by DreamWorks and Warner Bros, and it caused him to back out of the project. Meanwhile, Paul Greengrass still isn’t ready to move on his biopic Memphis that he plans to make with Scott Rudin. 

Related: Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass On Oscar Contender ‘Captain Phillips’, MLK
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Oprah Winfrey To Honor Nelson Mandela At 45th NAACP Image Awards; More Presenters Set

By | Thursday February 13, 2014 @ 9:35am PST

imageawards1__140210173144-275x145Oprah Winfrey will be honoring Nelson Mandela with a tribute during the 45th NAACP Image Awards, the NAACP and TV One announced today. That news came along with a list of the second group of presenters confirmed to participate at the … Read More »

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Oprah Winfrey Eyeing Broadway Debut In ‘’Night, Mother’ Revival

By | Thursday February 6, 2014 @ 5:55pm PST

oprah__120522141605Oprah Winfrey — Main Stem star? The multihyphenate might be adding another line to her resume as she’s in talks to make her Broadway acting debut in a revival of ‘Night, Mother, The New York Times reports. The TV legend … Read More »

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OSCARS: Who Got Snubbed By Academy?

By | Thursday January 16, 2014 @ 5:48am PST

Oscar Snubs and Surprises

A big part of Hollywood woke up early this morning to Oscar dreams of getting an Academy Awards nomination. Some like 12 Years A Slave for Best Picture, Dallas Buyers Club’s Matthew McConaughey and Gravity‘s Sandra Bullock for Best Actress were a lock. Unfortunately, for some others, they’d barely wiped the sleep out of their eyes before there was nothing to do but go back to bed in disappointment at having not made the cut. Once again, the Academy proved there’s still a wild card factor to who will and won’t get a nomination. Having said that, after all the campaigning, all the encouraging words and all the hopes, even against the odds, it still sucks to be one of those left holding a losing hand. Here’s some of the deserving actors, directors and films who were overlooked in today’s nominations announcement by AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Thor himself Chris Hemsworth:

imagesOprah Winfrey – The former talk show queen returned to the big screen with Lee Daniels’ The Butler in a stellar performance after a 15-year absence and the Academy negates her? The SAG Awards, the BAFTAs and the Critics Choice Awards all gave Oprah a nomination for her role as boozy Gloria Gaines, the Butler’s wife, but not the Academy? What are they drinking over there?

Inside Llewyn Davis - The folksy Coen brothers’ film didn’t get a lot of love from the Guilds but the Grand Prix winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival certainly did warrant one of the 10 possible Best Picture spots.

Related: OSCARS: 86th Academy Award Nominations

Robert Redford – He didn’t say a lot in All Is Lost but as an old man battling the sea and a lot more, the Sundance founder spoke volumes in the J.C. Chandor-helmed pic. He won a Gotham Award, a New York Film Critics Circle Award and got an Independent Spirit nomination in the process. However, 40 years after Redford last was nominated for Best Actor for The Sting, that all obviously fell on deaf ears with Academy members.

Fruitvale Station Bursting out of last year’s Sundance Film Festival, this remarkable debut by director Ryan Coogler of the last day of Oscar Grant III on January 1, 2009 was picked up by the Weinstein Company and found fans everywhere – including the White House. Yet nothing for Coolger, nothing for star Michael B. Jordan and nothing for the film – that’s just a crime.

tom hanksTom Hanks – Maybe there is a limit to how many Oscars one man can have but the actor’s performance in Captain Phillips as the taken hostage merchant mariner was certainly more than sea worthy of a nom today.

Related: OSCARS: Nominations By Picture

Emma Thompson – Not even a spoon full of sugar will help this bitter pill go down. Saving Mr. Banks was Ms. Thompson’s film. Her turn as the difficult, to say the least, Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers should have seen her as one of the ladies getting that nomination today.

August: Osage County - Yes Meryl Streep got her 18th Oscar nomination for her role as the pill popping sharp tongued widow but there was no Best Picture nor Best Adapted Screenplay for August: Osage County. Some people might not like the truth telling, but those oversights are just plain wrong.

Daniel Brühl – The German actor’s performance as Formula 1 ace Niki Lauda in Ron Howard’s Rush picked up Golden Globes, BAFTA and SAG Awards nominations for Best Supporting Actor. Sure he lost out to Jared Leto at Sunday’s GG ceremony but the Academy didn’t even put him on the track today.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler Coming out in the year of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the hit White House-based Civil Rights drama had a story for our times as well as strong performances from Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey. Maybe the last film to be produced by Laura Ziskin was too epic, maybe it was too black or maybe the dust-up the Weinstein Company had with Warner Bros and the MPAA over the initial The Butler title rubbed some people the wrong way but the powerful pic deserved better.
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SAG Awards: First Presenters Unveiled

By | Tuesday January 14, 2014 @ 6:18am PST

sagawards1LOS ANGELES (Jan. 14, 2014) – Ben Affleck, Sasha Alexander, Don Cheadle, Jennifer Garner, Clark Gregg, Tom Hanks, Jared Leto, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Kerry Washington, Forest Whitaker, and Oprah Winfrey will be presenters at the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards®, Executive Producer/Director Jeff Margolis and Executive Producer Kathy Connell announced today.

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Golden Globes Film: Wow! No Oprah, But Nominations Set Up A Fiercely Competitive Race

Pete Hammond

At the Golden Globes nomination press conference at the Beverly Hilton this morning, a lot of the talk wasn’t soOprah Winfrey Snub Golden Globes much about who got nominated but who didn’t. I’m talking about you, Oprah! The star of stars didn’t make the cut and won’t be walking that red carpet (at least as a supporting actress nominee). I thought she was powerful enough just to call in and order one of these things. But Winfrey, along with everyone else associated with Lee Daniels’ The Butler, was snubbed big time. Yesterday, the Weinstein Company’s late summer hit had scored big at the SAG awards with three nominations, including one for Winfrey, and appeared to be on the rebound after being left off the AFI top 10 list Monday. But the awards-season gods giveth and then they taketh away. Conversely, yesterday’s big snubee at SAG, The Wolf Of Wall Street, saw its fortunes improve with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association naming it a nominee for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical and one for Leonardo DiCaprio, a perennial Globe favorite gaining his 10th nomination (he won in 2004 for The Aviator).

Related: Golden Globe Awards Nominations: ‘12 Years A Slave’ & ‘American Hustle’ Lead Pack

RushOther than Oprah (unfairly in my opinion) missing out in supporting (Jennifer Lawrence, Julia Roberts, Lupita Nyong’o, June Squibb and a surprise nod for Blue Jasmine’s Sally Hawkins made the grade there), there weren’t many jaw-dropping surprises in film (TV was another matter entirely – sorry Claire Danes). That is unless you think Ron Howard’s Rush getting a Best Motion Picture Drama slot over the likes of Butler and Saving Mr. Banks (which, as at SAG, received only one nod for star Emma Thompson) is a stunner.  Hate to say I TOLDJA , but I predicted that in this column yesterday. I have spoken to several HFPA members over the past few weeks and nearly every one of them brought up that film’s name as a favorite. Although the independently-produced Universal release didn’t do well at the box office in the U.S., it has great international appeal being a European-set film about the 1970′s rivalry between  Britain’s James Hunt and Austrian Niki Lauda (played by Daniel Bruhl who grabbed a supporting actor nod today).  The HFPA is an organization made up of international journalists, and the film held a special appeal for them. Read More »

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Santa Barbara Film Festival To Honor Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey will receive the festival‘s Montecito Award for her performance in Lee Daniels’ The Butler and a celebration of her overall career. The Tribute to Winfrey is set for February 5 at the Arlington … Read More »

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HBO Developing Modern Family Comedy Produced By Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo

By | Wednesday October 2, 2013 @ 3:54pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: HBO has put in development These Things Happen, a half-hour comedy based on the first novel by TV writer-producer Richard Kramer (Thirtysomething, My So-Called Life). The pay cable network has optioned the book, … Read More »

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OWN Hits Wednesday High With Tyler Perry’s ‘For Better Or Worse’ Debut

By | Thursday September 19, 2013 @ 4:52pm PDT

Turns out Tyler Perry’s For Better Or Worse is definitely the former and not the latter on its new home on OWN. Having left TBS and moved over to OWN now, the Season 3 premiere of the Perry produced and directed sitcom gave the Oprah Winfrey Network its most watched Wednesday night in the outlet’s almost three-year history with 1.124 million. That was driven mostly by the 9 PM third cycle debut drew 1.5 million total viewers and the 9:30 PM episode pulled in 1.6 million viewers with 1.23 and 1.29 ratings respectively among women 25-54. The previous Wednesday high for OWN was May 29, 2013 when the network got 1.092 million. That was the same night Perry’s comedy Love Thy Neighbor debuted on OWN. For Better Or Worse joins Perry’s drama The Haves And The Have Nots as well as Love Thy Neighbor on the network.

Related:
OWN Doubles Order For Tyler Perry’s ‘Love Thy Neighbor’
OWN’s ‘The Haves & The Have Nots’ Finale Hits Highs
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Oprah: OWN “Too Serious” In Beginning

By | Monday September 16, 2013 @ 8:42am PDT

We all know that OWN is rebounding because of the soaps and Tyler Perry. But Oprah Winfrey said in an interview with New York magazine that her network’s early ratings struggles came because it was “too … Read More »

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UPDATE: Obama Postpones Hollywood Fundraiser Next Week Because Of Syria Crisis

By | Thursday September 5, 2013 @ 9:45am PDT

UPDATE, 9:45 AM: The possibility of U.S. military action against Syria means that President Barack Obama won’t be coming to LA on September 9 after all for a fundraiser at the home of Friends co-creator Marta Kauffman. A source tells me that the White House wants the Commander-in-Chief in Washington for an expected Congressional vote next week on the proposed action, and subsequently the Democratic National Committee has postponed the event. Though no new date has been set, the fundraiser will be rescheduled, the DNC says. Patrons who purchased the $32,400-per-person tickets for the small gathering with Obama will be refunded if they don’t want to attend the rescheduled event. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 10-7 Wednesday in favor of the use of military force against the Assad regime. Full Senate and House votes on the matter will likely come early next week.

Related: Big Four Networks Break In For Obama’s Address On Syria

PREVIOUSLY, AUGUST 27 PM: EXCLUSIVE: Producer Marta Kauffman is inviting a good friend over next month. The Friends co-creator/executive producer and her composer-husband Michael Skloff will be hosting President Obama at their LA County home for a DNC fundraiser on September 9, Deadline has learned. Though Obama’s trip was revealed by the DNC on Monday, all details were kept under wraps. Now described as a “roundtable” discussion by one insider, the one-hour event (take a look at the invite here) comes at a price of $32,400 per guest and is expected to raise over $1 million for the party. In what is being set up as a smallish gathering of around 30 people, Obama will take direct questions from the big money ticket buyers, I’m told. A longtime Obama and DNC supporter, Kauffman most recently donated $50,000 to the president’s second inauguration. The visit comes just more than three weeks after Obama’s last trip to LA, when he appeared on The Tonight Show and had a private dinner with DreamWorks Animation boss Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Related: President Obama Exclusive On CNN’s ‘New Day’ A Ratings Bust
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Oprah’s PR Blitz Helps ‘The Butler’ Open #1 With $25M: Soft Box Office As ‘Kick Ass 2′ Falls, ‘Jobs’ Biopic Dies, ‘Paranoia’ Bombs

SUNDAY 8 AM, 6TH UPDATE WRITETHRU: With one exception, this weekend was a disaster zone for three of the four newcomers at the domestic box office. Tanking big-time were Universal’s Kick-Ass 2 based on the comic book, Five Star/Open Road Films’ Jobs biopic about the Apple co-founder played by Ashton Kutcher, and IM Global/Relativity’s Paranoia starring Liam Hemsworth and Harrison Ford. Total moviegoing this weekend was only around $160 million, or -6% from last year, despite the uber-crowded marketplace. Even the surprise #1 this weekend, The Weinstein Company’s Lee Daniels’ The Butler, opened with $25 million which was down from the $30+M Hollywood projected when the weekend started. ”Everything is coming in softer,” one studio exec warned me Friday night. Love her or hate her, co-star Oprah Winfrey and her big media blitz helped open the pic even if it did little to help her public image by providing more dirt for her detractors. Yet a survey by Fandango found that 72% of Butler ticket-buyers claimed Oprah’s involvement increased their interest in seeing the film which was her first movie role in 15 years. But The Butler still trailed the opening weekend grosses of two recent and similarly race- and civil rights-themed adult pics: 42 and The Help. No one, and certainly not The Weinstein Company, expected director Lee Daniels’ or screenwriter Danny Strong’s biopic (playing in 2,933 theaters) to double its $15M weekend projection much less land on top of the weekend box office. But on Thursday morning it already was the #1 ticket-seller on both Fandango and MovieTickets – a welcome event for such a modest $25M negative cost film. Its 73% Rotten Tomatoes positive reviews and ’A’ CinemaScore from audiences surely helped word of mouth as much as Oprah. (Note that in 1998. at the height of her syndicated power when she could sell anything to anyone, Oprah starred in and produced the film flop Beloved. Now she’s on her struggling cable network. But I’m assured she had no financial investment in the film nor contributed into the P&A nor bought up advance tickets in bulk like the rumors claimed.)

Related: Oprah No Match For Housewives On Watch What Happens Live
Related: Oprah Talks Her OWN Failure And Her Nervous Breakdown

Forest Whitaker, Terrence Howard, Alan Rickman, and Cuba Gooding Jr helped overcome the uneven script that – depending on your POV – is dumbed-down or condescending, historically important or filled with historical inaccuracies. But the stunt casting of Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan has caused considerable Red State outrage on social media. Like 42 and The Help, this pic was marketed first to African-Americans through outreach in those faith-based communities. Then the campaign widened to the art house crowd and curious general audiences. Rival studios initially speculated that The Butler‘s grosses would be frontloaded since it was so dependent on pre-sales. But its Saturday number went up +10% over Friday’s. The film’s genesis began with a Washington Post profile of the longtime White House black butler Eugene Allen that was optioned by Sony Pictures producer Laura Ziskin. When she died of cancer 3 weeks before shooting began, Cassian Elwes and Pam Williams met with Daniels and, together with CAA, scrambled to put together financing. In all 28 investors came together including Buddy Patrick, Sheila Johnson, Michael Findley, and Len Blavatnick. Harvey Weinstein and his TWC boarded late in the production and banked $4M to help finish the film. Then Harv “helped edit” – we all know what that means – with Daniels. Initially The Butler was a fall film to platform for awards consideration. “But when it tested through the roof, we decided then that we needed to go wide. And we saw a gap in the schedule for adult fare in the summer,” an insider tells me. “In our deal we had a $20M P&A cap, and we had to go to the investor group to get the cap raised to $30M in order to go wide.” I’m told 100% of the P&A money is TWC’s. Along the way, Harvey orchestrated free publicity as he battled Warner Bros over the pic’s title.

Pre-release tracking predicted that Universal’s superhero action-comedy Kick Ass 2 (playing in 2,940 theaters) would be the #1 film this weekend as it made steady gains in key areas with solid interest indicated from younger audiences and males in particular. Instead, it bombed with only $13.6M after looking to open #1, then #2, then #3 on Friday - trailing the Warner Bros/New Line holdover comedy We’re The Millers. Not even its ‘B+’ CinemaScore could help word of mouth after critics savaged it with only 29% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes because it fell short of the original. Fanboys decided to stay away. I predict debate will rage about whether this sequel based on Mark Millar/John S. Romita’s comic book was necessary. Even the 2010 original’s $19.8M opening was considered dismal, only to make up for it as a hot DVD sale and rental and digital download because of its R-rated irreverence and style. Wrongly, the studio believed “there was a committed fan base that could be activated as a core audience for a sequel,” as a Universal exec emailed me. So the studio handled worldwide distribution for the further adventures of Kick-Ass, Hit Girl and Red Mist (played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Chloë Grace Moretz  and Christopher Mintz-Plasse respectively). Vigilante crusader Colonel Stars and Stripes is played by Jim Carrey who kicked up a fuss by proclaiming he wouldn’t promote the film because of its ultra-violence. A few weeks later, he got onboard – but not before generating a ton of bad publicity for the pic. (He didn’t make himself very popular in Hollywood with this stunt. Let’s see if his career continues to crater.) From a screenplay by director Jeff Wadlow, pic also reteamed producers Matthew Vaughn, Adam Bohling, Tarquin Pack and David Reid. It was independently financed for only $28M, then acquired by Universal before production began in September of 2012. Film opens day-and-date in 18 international territories including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany and grossed $6.3M at 1,500 dates.

Flopping in wide release (2,381 theaters) was Open Road Films’ Jobs, the much-publicized biopic about the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher. It came in only #7 with a meager $6.7M despite a plethora of TV ad buys. Ashton just isn’t a movie star, period, and the ‘B-’ CinemaScore didn’t generate any helpful word of mouth for the pic directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote) and scripted by first-time screenwriter Matt Whitely. Open Road acquired Jobs just before it premiered at Sundance in January from Five Star Feature Films which financed the $12M production. Rotten Tomatoes critics only gave it 24% positive reviews because of its superficial made-for-TV depiction of a complex creative and business icon. Still it’s surprising how many Apple devotees stayed away despite the marketing’s psychographic targeting to them. And digital stunts included the launch of the first-ever Instagram movie trailer and Kutcher ringing the bell at the NY Stock Exchange.

Another tech pic tanked. Dropping from #10 on Friday to #13 by Sunday was the IM Global/ Reliance produced thriller Paranoia (distributed by Relativity into 2,459 U.S. theaters with EOne releasing in Canada). Even starring Liam Hemsworth, Harrison Ford, and Gary Oldman who all are good in the film, it made only $3.5M or about half what was projected. Both audiences and critics hated on it with a ‘C’ CinemaScore and 4% Rotten Tomatoes positive reviews. ”I think Relativity’s marketing department screwed up,” one insider tells me. “They tried to focus on the youth audience and teen girls in particular, and it isn’t that kind of movie at all. Also, IM Global picked this date, and they never should have opened this kind of film in the summer.” Read More »

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