The crew of the unscripted series Master Chef that airs on Fox have secured a union contract with health and retirement benefits under terms negotiated by IATSE and the Motion Picture Editors Guild. The contract for the Shine/Reveille show was negotiated without a work stoppage, organizer Rob Callahan said, although it was rumored that shooting was disrupted temporarily today. Local 700 will explain details on retroactivity and other negotiated terms in the contract to crew members in the days to come.
One insider familiar with the negotiations describes Time Warner’s bid for the debt-laden Dutch TV company as “rock bottom.” I’m told Endemol’s owners consider the Time Warner bid “ridiculously low.” It comes to seven times Endemol’s expected $192M earnings this year before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). It’s anybody’s guess as to whether that’s enough for Endemol’s three owners — Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, Goldman Sachs’ Capital Partners and Endemol founder John De Mol’s investment vehicle Cyrte. I’m told that Cyrte wooed Ronald Goes, head of international TV production at Warner Bros, into making the bid; the Dutch Time Warner executive used to be COO of Endemol. “His job is to do this kind of deal,” says media analyst Claire Enders. “His view is that Endemol has significant assets that can be built up.” Still, the offer illustrates how big a premium Rupert Murdoch paid for his daughter Elisabeth’s Shine Group: He shelled out $675M, valuing Shine at roughly 12 times EBITDA. That’s a huge difference: Endemol generates strong cash flow, even though it is desperate to wipe away at least $2.7B from the $3.8B it owes lenders. The Big Brother producer’s largest creditors include private equity funds Apollo Management, Centerbridge and Providence Equity Partners, and banks such as Barclays and RBS. The three shareholders are trying to persuade creditors to write off debt in exchange for equity. Separately, Mediaset has tried persuading UK broadcaster ITV to also …
EXCLUSIVE: The era of the Reveille of Ben Silverman is officially over — Howard T. Owens will step down as managing director of the Shine-owned company in June when his contract is up. He plans to spend time with his family while consulting for Reveille through the end of the year. A search for Owens’ replacement is already under way. Owens was Reveille’s first employee when Silverman launched the company in 2002. He was one of a core troika Silverman brought with him from WMA, along with Chris Grant and Mark Koops, who together took over running the company when Silverman left for NBC. Following Shine’s 2008 acquisition of Reveille, Grant became head of Shine International, with Owens and Koops becoming co-managing partners of Reveille. Then last September, a month after Emiliano Calemzuk took oversight of Reveille as CEO of Shine Group Americas, Koops exited and Owens became the sole managing director. (Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group was recently acquired by News Corp.)
Insiders tell me that the decision not to renew Owens contract was a strictly business one and reflects the different management style the company is going for for its next stage as it is moving from the agent and sales skills required early on to build a programming slate to a more producer- and creator-type approach sought for a company that has already established big franchises such as …
Discovery Communications has signed non-exclusive deals with Shine Group, All3Media and WTFN as part of the launch of a new virtual global unit of its production arm Discovery Studios focused on developing big content franchises. Under the pacts, Discovery Studios will work with the three companies to develop and commission original lifestyle, specialist, factual and general entertainment formats for Discovery’s networks around the world including Discovery Channel and TLC. The deal also includes pilot commitments for the three companies. Discovery Studios has been aggressive in signing unscripted producers, recently announcing overall deals with Eddie Barbini (Dirty Jobs), Rob Hammersly (Mythbusters) and Daniel Soiseth (Hell’s Kitchen).
American investors are suing Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. over its decision to buy his daughter’s TV company Shine, claiming it is such a poor deal they are ”paying for nepotism.” New York-based Amalgamated Bank, representing several funds that hold 1 million shares, and the Central Laborers Pension Fund of Illinois said in filings to Delaware Chancery Court that Murdoch was treating the company “like a wholly-owned candy store,” that the $675 million deal makes no business sense and that the media giant is paying far more for Shine than it’s worth.
But the legal protests appear unlikely to scupper the deal, which is expected to close within the next few weeks. The takeover is not large enough to require News Corp. shareholder approval; it only needs the approval of News Corp.’s audit committee as well as each company’s respective boards. News Corp. has already dismissed the lawsuit as being “without merit” and added that Shine is “a very attractive business.”
The suit alleges that News Corp.’s board failed to question or challenge Rupert Murdoch. In a stinging attack, the investors’ lawyers allege, “In addition to larding the executive ranks of the company with his offspring, Murdoch constantly engages in transactions designed to benefit family members.”
According to the complaint, Elisabeth Murdoch will receive $320 million in return for her 53% stake in Shine — whose portfolio includes Reveille’s The Biggest Loser and The Office — and still remain CEO and chairman. Amalgamated said …
In Book Deals: New Regency Taps Swedish Crime Series ‘Three Seconds’, Struggling CBS Films Makes Stephen King’s ‘Stand’
The book-to-movie business is kicking back into gear. Hoping for another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, New Regency has just acquired Three Seconds, part of a bestselling Swedish crime novel series by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom. Shine will produce and they will set a writer quickly. In Three Seconds, an ex-con who works undercover for the Stockholm police is charged with breaking the Polish mob’s stranglehold on amphetamine dealing in Sweden prisons. The ex-con gets himself arrested so he can infiltrate the mob in a maximum security prison. Beyond the fact his wife is unaware he’s working undercover, the operative’s challenge is to crack the ring and get out before he’s exposed. The book is the fifth novel in the series, was named Sweden’s top crime novel of 2009. The author team is intriguing, considering one’s a former journalist, the other an ex-criminal.The book was published by Silver Oak. Shine’s Sue Swift brought the book to Regency’s Michelle Kroes to get the deal started and Dan Wilson will oversee for Regency.
In other deals, a film option deal was made for Cutting For Stone, the Abraham Verghese novel optioned by Anonymous Content for its production company.
And Warner Bros and CBS Films will try to turn Stephen King’s celebrated novel The Stand into a feature. Given the spectacularly restrictive budgets that have forced CBS Films to rely on forgettable films like The Back-Up Plan and Extraordinary Measures, it seems likely Warner Bros will have to put up the dough for this to get off the ground. Even then, King’s apocalyptic epic will be very difficult to compress into a feature film, which is why it previously was turned into a 1994 TV miniseries. Each time I write about CBS Films, the question lingers: why did Les Moonves bother to form a feature division in the first place and hire away a capable exec like Amy Baer from Sony only to hobble her by not taking any big swings? Baer has a franchise percolating in Vince Flynn’s Consent to Kill, which focuses on ruthless government operative Mitch Rapp. It’s a Jack Ryan waiting to happen, but though CBS Films last year had discussions with Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell and Lost‘s Matthew Fox for the Rapp role, it still hasn’t happened. A lot has to do with the need to secure a partner. Hey, Les? In the movie business, it’s no guts, no glory. Deadline has heard that a “reconfiguring” is coming to the still struggling movie unit. CBS Films will make more acquisitions to fill the pipeline.
UPDATE: That’s the word from UK news media. It’s just one of a number of options being considered by Shine, one of the UK’s and America’s biggest independent production companies — it bought Ben Silverman’s Reveille — and thought to be worth between $980 million and $1.3 billion. Elizabeth Murdoch has appointed JP Morgan to advise on strategic options for her company, which is being courted by other TV companies as well as her Dad’s News Corp, according to The Guardian. JP Morgan is also advising Shine on potential acquisitions. It is understood that talks with News Corp have been “progressing well” but any deal is “not yet inevitable.” BSkyB, Murdoch’s pay-TV platform in the UK, already owns 13% of Shine. Liz owns 63% of Shine and another big backer is Sony Pictures Entertainment, which has 21% and announced back in 2009 that it wanted to sell its stake but nothing has happened since. As to why News Corp would want to buy Shine, I’m told it’s part of BSkyB’s ongoing push into upmarket original programming and that this would be the next logical step. Shine earned £265 million ($420 million) last year. And BSkyB has just built an enormous space-age TV building out in West London’s Isleworth – nicknamed “Skyberia” – to centralise operations. Shine’s sales tag does sound on the high side, given that it made EBITDA of $45 million in 2009.
But the question is: why has Liz Murdoch decided now might be the right time to …
It didn’t take long for new Shine Group Americas CEO Emiliano Calemzuk to put his stamp on Reveille with a major executive move. Calemzuk, who joined Shine last month, has reshuffled the top management at the Shine-owned company: co-managing director Howard T. Owens will now run the company solo as managing director, while co-managing director Mark Koops is leaving. Additionally, executive producer Robin Ashbrook has been promoted to the newly created role of Head of Non-Scripted Entertainment. Koops is pursuing a new venture, which will be announced shortly, Shine said. “This is a re-structure that will equip Reveille for the next period of its growth,” Calemzuk said. In a similar fashion, 3 weeks after taking over Fox TV Studios as president in 2007, Calemzuk shook up the company’s top management by axing 3 department heads.