EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Dunham is big business. The comedian known for his signature ventriloquist act has claimed the top comedy tour each of the past three years, according to Billboard. His upcoming U.S. jaunt, the Disorderly Conduct Tour, was sold out on the first day it went on sale, with Dunham set to perform to nearly 400,000 people across the country. He also has taken his brand global, extensively traveling the world for the past six years. Dunham’s latest stand-up special, the horror-themed Minding The Monsters, was released on DVD on October 9 and has reached triple-platinum status. His three Comedy Central specials remain among the network’s five most-watched programs of all time, with the 2008 A Very Special Christmas Special drawing 6.6 million viewers. In films, Dunham will be featured in next year’s Open Road animated release Nut Job. UTA will represent Dunham in all areas. He previously was at CAA. Dunham continues to be managed by Judi Brown-Marmel and Robert Hartmann at Levity Entertainment Group.
If you have kids — or, let’s face it, if you’ve been alive during the past few decades — you know about the Mario Bros video game franchise. Evan Daugherty certainly knows the Bros: The Snow …
David Bloom is a Deadline contributor.
One after another, groups of USC engineering students, ranging from thirtysomething doctoral candidates down to baby-faced undergrads, trooped to the stage today. Each pitched their newly honed and toned startup companies before a roomful of potential investors, supporters, and — in a changeup for both — executives from old-line venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and old-line Hollywood talent agency UTA.
The Viterbi Startup Garage Day featured presentations from nine teams (another group couldn’t make the event), all recently done with an intensive 12-week program to build a working tech product and get it on the market. In some cases, Viterbi’s program was a last stop to fine tune a product built on years of research and work. Other companies had been mere proposals last spring. All the young entrepreneurs are hoping to benefit from a program that’s giving them some unexpected friends in influential places.
“Early-stage entrepreneurs need two things: help with business development and access to capital,” said Ashish Soni, the Viterbi School of Engineering faculty member who runs the first-year program. “Kleiner provides access to capital. A lot of what UTA does is dealmaking. You can replace that celebrity (the agency would typically represent) with a startup.”
The sales market at the Toronto Film Festival was the healthiest and most vigorous that I can remember, certainly since that barren year when the prestige film bubble burst and the sole festival sale was the Tom Ford-directed A Single Man. During the first five days at least of this Toronto, there was deal action going into the wee hours of the morning. One quality, crowd-pleasing acquisition title after another un-spooled each night and then distributors were left trying to restrain themselves from going past their sober revenue projections as they tried to fill holes in 2014 slates.
At last count, around 28 Toronto films have sold in deals large and small, agents tell me. I thought the biggest challenge for sellers would be to get distributors to focus because of the inordinate amount of titles they launched into the Oscar race with lavish Toronto premieres. Instead, the biggest challenge for sellers, and buyers for that matter, was stamina. We are all getting older, and pretty much everyone was walking around like zombies after taking part Friday and Saturday in the fest’s biggest deals—Focus paying $7 million for world rights to the Jason Bateman-directed comedy Bad Words, and The Weinstein Company paying $7 million and $20 million in P&A for U.S. rights to the John Carney-directed Can A Song Save Your Life?
Dare I say that Toronto was the first seller’s market in as long as I can remember? I asked the top agents at the three most prolific deal making agencies if that was true. None of them were cocky enough to use the “S” word, but all three of them said they expect to clear their considerable inventories by the end of next week. Even if nothing got done until the time everyone but insomniacs are asleep.
The Toronto International Film Festival kicked off this week, Telluride and Venice wrapped up and Fifty Shades of Grey got its leads. If you missed these and Deadline’s other top film stories this week, here’s your chance to check them out now:
Toronto 2013: Will Deals Take Back Seat As Buyers Focus On Fest Oscar Hopefuls?
By Mike Fleming Jr - The Toronto Film Festival got underway last night with the Gala premiere of the Bill Condon-directed DreamWorks Julian Assange film The Fifth Estate.
Vin Diesel’s ‘Riddick’ Opens Weak Weekend
By Nikki Finke - Welcome to one of the slowest weekends at the domestic box office. The movie season is off to a weak start – just $70M total filmgoing
Dakota Johnson Lands ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ Role
By Mike Fleming Jr - EXCLUSIVE: The coveted role of Anastasia Steele has gone to Dakota Johnson in the Universal Pictures and Focus Features adaptation of Fifty Shades Of Grey.
EXCLUSIVE: After an erosion in the relationship, the partners at UTA have decided they will no longer do business with manager Shelley Browning and her Magnolia Entertainment. This immediately leads to the exit of Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel, who will stay with his manager, Stephanie Comer. She was an agent at UTA before she became a manager at Magnolia. About half a dozen clients will have to make a choice, and the highest profile beyond Patel is Daniel Espinosa, the Snabba Cash helmer who directed the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds hit Safe House and is directing an adaptation of the Tom Rob Smith novel Child 44, with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman. Since Espinosa is shooting a movie, I don’t think he will be asked to make a decision until he is up for air.
Related: Magnolia Manager Vs UTA, Round Two
The agency would not comment on why this has happened, but the frosty relationship began months ago and this move occurs after UTA watched several of Browning’s highest-profile clients exit. They include The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘s Rapace and Kinnaman, the latter of whom stars in the Robocop reboot. Others who have exited are Rachel McAdams and Rosamund Pike. Pike left right after she won the coveted female lead role opposite Ben Affleck in the David Fincher-directed Gone Girl.
UPDATE: Evacuations Lifted After Gas Leak Shuts Down UTA, Other Entertainment Businesses In Beverly Hills
4TH UPDATE, 5:46 PM: The evacuation order has been lifted. The Gas Company now says crews were able to get to the leak faster than anticipated and that it has been stopped. The street closures should end shortly.
3rd UPDATE, 5:25 PM: A …
If the phone just rings and rings at UTA today here’s the reason: the agency’s employees are out of the office participating in the second annual Project Impact, a weeklong event organized by the UTA Foundation devoted …
Agency Signings: ‘Have And Have Nots’ Tika Sumpter; ‘Boardwalk Empire’s’ Stephen Graham, Ashley Hinshaw & ‘Days Of Our Lives’ Blake Berris
Tika Sumpter has signed with WME. Appearing in OWN’s freshman hit Tyler Perry drama series The Haves And Have Nots, Sumpter also has been on Gossip Girl and in the feature Sparkle. Sumpter has roles in a …