Actors Ed Asner, Clancy Brown, Dennis Hayden, and George Coe are among the 15 plaintiffs who filed suit today in federal court against SAG-AFTRA for not properly disbursing $110 million in foreign residuals they say have not been paid out. Asner is the former SAG president (1981-1985) who very publicly opposed the SAG-AFTRA merger along with other ex-union board members. The 52-page filing also claims that the merged union has deliberately withheld information and kept the money in trust and spent portions on first class travel and lavish parties and big salaries for current union officials. “Plaintiffs have reason to believe that SAG-AFTRA has now amassed a substantial slush fund that does not belong to the labor organization but instead belongs to members and non-members, and/or their estates, on covered and uncovered works,” says Friday’s filing. Requesting a jury trial, the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages as well as injunctive relief and an order by the court that would stop the union from being able to collect overseas royalties. Instead, the suit proposes a separate “independent body” established to handle the funds in the future. READ MORE »
Listen to (and share) episode 36 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. Deadline’s Executive Editor talks with host David Bloom about Apple’s taxing day on Capitol Hill; whether production tax incentives pay off the way the MPAA says they do; and Marissa Mayer’s big gamble with Yahoo’s $1.1 billion Tumblr acquisition.
EXCLUSIVE: The reality TV landscape will never be the same. After 18 years at Fox, the dean of unscripted TV executives, Fox’s President of Alternative Programming Mike Darnell, is stepping down. He will stay on through the end of June, when his current contract is up, and help with the transition. Darnell was offered a new long-term deal at the network but, after long deliberation, decided it was time to move on. Darnell faced similar agonizing soul-searching several years ago when he was offered rich producing deals elsewhere but ultimately opted to stay at Fox, where he’s had free rein on the unscripted side. This time around, he decided to leave the network, which he helped build first with noise-making reality specials like World’s Scariest Police Chases and When Animals Attack! and then with such tentpole series as American Idol and Family Guy. The colorful, unconventional, cowboy hat-wearing Darnell never shied away from controversy, relishing in the blockbuster attention projects like the Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? special and hit series Joe Millionaire brought on. In a testament to Darnell’s importance to Fox and parent News Corp, company chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch weighed in on his departure. “Mike took risks at a critical time and was a pioneering force in shaping the reality programming genre that exists today,” Murdoch said. “He’s a smart and fearless executive who will be missed.”
Darnell is expected to take some time off before making his next move, which I hear likely will be in the producing/entrepreneurial arena. “I’m extremely grateful that Fox has offered me a new long-term contract (and anyone who knows me won’t believe I’m saying this), but I’ve decided it’s time for a change,” Darnell said. “With my current deal ending in June, and having been here for 18 years (kind of a record in Hollywood), I had to make a decision: either stay (and basically admit to myself I was going to retire at Fox … not a terrible choice) or leave and try something new. I’ve been in ‘Reality’ since before it was even called that, and it has truly been an amazing ride. However, the world has changed drastically over the last few years, and now with hundreds of channels and limitless ways to watch television, I’ve decided this was the perfect time to take advantage of the rapidly changing marketplace. To say I am going to miss everyone here and that the people at Fox are like a family to me would be the understatement of the decade. I have so many people to thank (and I will call all of you!), but first and foremost, I want to thank Kevin Reilly, Peter Rice, Chase Carey and Rupert Murdoch for all their amazing support over these many years,” the exec said in a statement Friday.
Related: Anyone Care Who Won ‘American Idol’?
Fox is expected to begin the search for Darnell’s successor, who will navigate veteran American Idol and The X Factor through their upcoming overhauls, soon. “Mike has been a trailblazer for the entire industry and has made innumerable contributions to the growth and success of the network over the past two decades,” said Rice, Chairman of Fox Networks Group. “His passion for – and dedication to – television knows no bounds. He is like a member of the family, and Fox won’t be the same without him. While we wish he would’ve stayed forever, we regretfully accept his decision.”
Cancelled midseaosn CW drama Cult will return on the air June 28, with the six unaired episodes slated to run in two-hour blocks from 8-10 PM over three consecutive Fridays. The show’s creator Rockne S. O’Bannon shared …
Ian Anthony Dale (The Hangover, NBC’s The Event) has joined the cast of TNT’s drama pilot Murder In The First as a series regular. Co-created by Steven Bochco and Eric Lodal, the project is a murder mystery …
ABC, NBC and Fox today filed a lawsuit against digital entrepreneur Alki David‘s FilmOn and his Aereokiller service, claiming copyright infringement. Allbritton, which owns ABC’s TV station Washington DC also is a plaintiff in the suit. Filed in Federal District Court in D.C. on David’s 45th birthday, the complaint (read it here) is similar to one filed in Los Angeles in August by ABC, NBC and CBS against his streaming site that then was known as BarryDriller.com. It, in turn, hewed closely to a suit filed against the site by Fox days earlier. (David this week finally settled his name-game tussle with Barry Diller and the latter’s Aereo service.)
David is a media industry provocateur whose FilmOn streams programming taken from over-the-air signals, and it — like Diller’s Aereo — has incurred the wrath of broadcasters. In today’s suit, the networks and Allbritton claim that “Aereokiller provides users and subscribers the ability to receive whichever broadcast station the user or subscriber chooses, ultimately having the ability to watch live broadcast television programming over the Internet using any device. In other words, through the Aereokiller service, Defendants built a business founded on offering its users and subscribers a ‘live’ Internet and mobile streaming service based on Plaintiffs’ television programming, but without authorization or license from Plaintiffs.”
Global Showbiz Briefs: Chello Zone Goes ‘Hardcore Pawn’; Karlovy Vary Celebrates Schatzberg; R&H Malaysia Goes It Alone
Chello Zone Bringing ‘Hardcore Pawn’ To Several Territories
International TV provider Chello Zone has acquired all nine series of the US reality TV show Hardcore Pawn for its CBS Reality network in Poland and one of its EMEA feeds. CBS Reality will air the shows in primetime across Poland, Cyprus, Hungary, Romania, the Middle East and Africa. The first will premiere in Poland in June. The reality documentary series, which centers on a Detroit pawn shop, is produced by Zodiak USA for Tru TV and distributed internationally by Zodiak Rights.
Karlovy Vary To Celebrate Jerry Schatzberg
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival said today that Palme d’Or-winning director Jerry Schatzberg will attend the 48th edition of the festival to screen three of his earliest films. The influential American director will introduce his recently restored debut Puzzle Of A Downfall Child (1970), The Panic In Needle Park (1970) and Palme winner Scarecrow (1973). The Czech Republic fest runs June 28-July 6.