10:57 AM PDT 8/19/2014 by Michael O’Connell
With four Emmys (and 18 nominations) under her belt, Julia Louis-Dreyfus could probably afford to part with at least one of her statuettes. Such is the premise of the TV Academy’s 2014 viral spoof to call attention to this year’s primetime Emmy telecast. Toting her 1996 win for Seinfeld — it is just supporting, after all — the Veep actress tries to make a deal with Breaking Bad stars and nominees Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. They’re technically spoofing reality TV’s noted affection for pawn shows, but references to their late AMC drama abound.
“Tinker Bell playing with a volleyball,” asserts Paul, examining the statuette, before the pair deride the actress for working only in comedy. “You know what they say: Comedy is easy, drama is hard.”
Breaking Bad fans will want to stick around through the very end, when a beloved catchphrase makes an appearance.
The company formerly affiliated with Lee has tried for years to win back lucrative rights to iconic characters.
10:10 PM PDT 10/9/2012 by Eriq Gardner
Despite years of court losses, the resilient company that was founded by Stan Lee in the late 1990s is still attempting to convince the world that a decade ago, it was robbed of many of valuable franchises, including Fantastic Four, X-Men and Spider-Man.
The latest move involves a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Disney for alleged copyright infringement. In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, SLMI alleges that it has been assigned the rights to these characters, that Lee didn’t properly assign the works to Marvel and that Disney has never recorded its agreement with Marvel with the U.S. Copyright Office. Essentially, SLMI says that the Disney-Marvel merger was a fantasy as large as one of Lee’s creations.
Just one problem — res judicata.
Yes, we’ve seen this argument before. In SLMI’s latest complaint in Colorado federal court, the company admits a “tortured history of litigation” and goes through the many legal proceedings in Colorado, in New York and in California.
The full details of what happened are terribly complicated, but essentially, when SLMI went into bankruptcy a decade ago, its assets were raided, and SLMI shareholders have been attacking the perceived vultures ever since.
These efforts eventually culminated in a decision on August 23 by California federal judgeStephen Wilson.
In the ruling, Judge Wilson addressed why he wouldn’t allow SLMI to go forward with a lawsuit against Stan Lee — res judicata, which the judge defined as barring lawsuits based on “any claims that were raised or could have been raised in a prior action.”
Judge Wilson found that the lawsuit against Lee entailed an issue — whether Lee transferred to Marvel the same IP rights previously assigned to SLMI — that was previously addressed in a prior case. And so, the judge dismissed it.
The ruling is now on appeal at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, SLMI is now attacking Disney and will likely face that very same res judicataissue.
So why does SLMI believe this case has a shot?
According to the lawsuit, “SLMI is entitled to proceed with this copyright infringement lawsuit against Disney, based upon Disney’s independently actionable conduct which occurred after April 2009, regardless of the outcome of SLMI’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit in the 2007 Case.”
We’ll see if a judge buys that, but SLMI’s track record with judges isn’t so mighty.
E-mail: email@example.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner
9:37 PM PDT 5/29/2012 by Kim Masters
Brutal competition, fears of a “Battleship” sinking and 3D reshoots (with a resurrected Channing Tatum?) leave a studio’s cupboard bare.
This story first appeared in the June 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.
When Paramount announced May 23 that it was moving G.I. Joe: Retaliation from its June 29 release date to March 2013, nostrils started to quiver throughout the industry.
The explanation the studio was selling — that it needed time to turn the sequel into a 3D spectacle — didn’t seem to pass the smell test. Why bump a $125 million-budgeted tentpole starringDwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis five weeks before its scheduled release after launching a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign that included a pricey Super Bowl spot?
“They eat all of that money,” notes one prominent producer. “And when you yank a movie at the last minute, it does not send an encouraging signal.”
Paramount sources say studio chair Brad Grey and vice chairRob Moore felt the expense was preferable to a duel with Sony’s Spider-Man reboot, out July 3.
“They looked at the landscape and realized they couldn’t compete,” agrees the producer in an appraisal shared by many executives and agents. Add to that the sinking of Universal’s $200 million-plusBattleship — another film based on a Hasbro property — and the potential downside looked especially distressing. So Paramount is adding 3D in hope of bolstering overseas box office and taking the opportunity to expand the role of Channing Tatum, whose stardom has grown thanks to The Vowand 21 Jump Street. In fact, Tatum’s character originally died in Retaliation, but it’s now possible he will be resurrected.
More broadly, Paramount has decided to sit out the season after a brutal few months in which potential franchises — Disney’s John Carter, Universal’s Battleship, Warner Bros.’ Dark Shadows — turned into losses. Many suspect Sony’s Men in Black 3 also will lose money due to its soaring cost associated with atroubled production. (Some think Paramount’s top executives might also have an eye on their bonuses, deferring costs to polish up results for the current fiscal year. Paramount declined comment.)
Whatever the reason, Paramount’s decision to move G.I. Joe signals a big shift for the studio: It also bumped the Brad Pitt zombie tentpole World War Z — a film with a budget of $150 million or more that is said to be facing several weeks of costly reshoots — from December to June 2013. The studio also moved the action-adventure Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters from March 2012 to January 2013, ostensibly to allow star Jeremy Renner to bolster his name value with The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy.
At this point, the studio’s summer slate has only a Katy Perry concert movie (July 5) and distribution fees from Madagascar 3 (June 8). And the latter might be one of the last films from DreamWorks Animation to be released by Paramount as the two have been at an impasse over distribution fees. (Of course, any troubles at Paramount might well strengthen the hand of DWA’s Jeffrey Katzenberg in a negotiation. Insiders are speculating that DWA will strike a deal with Sony Pictures or self-distribute domestically and make a deal with Fox for overseas distribution.)
Toward year’s end, the picture appears to brighten for Paramount. The studio has the fourthParanormal Activity in October and the November thriller Flight with Denzel Washington, directorRobert Zemeckis‘ first live-action film in more than a decade. At Christmas, it has a Tom Cruisethriller, Jack Reacher, and then The Guilt Trip, a comedy with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand.
But overall, the studio is looking at a sparse year. In March, it dumped Eddie Murphy’s A Thousand Words in theaters, and in May it stumbled with The Dictator, which sources say cost about $100 million, though the studio pegs it at $65 million. The Sacha Baron Cohen film has grossed an underwhelming $93 million worldwide so far.
The idea that Paramount might be hitting turbulence after several years of flying high actually cheers some who feel the studio has relied on hits provided by outsiders — notably Marvel and DWA — while showing less interest in nurturing its own product.
“They are impossible to do business with,” says a prominent player. “They spend less money on movies than anybody; they develop fewer movies than anybody.”
The haters don’t even credit the current regime for its hits: They point out that the Transformersfranchise was hatched by live-action DreamWorks and Mission: Impossible predated the current bosses. Still, the Mission and Star Trek franchises have been re-ignited, and if Paramount’s G.I. Joe strategy works, 3D could boost its overseas haul by as much as 30 percent. But for now, Paramount’s recent boasts about market share — a dubious measure of success yet one that studios like to brag about — are over. So far, analysts are largely unfazed, with Stifel Nicolaus saying that moving G. I. Joe “adds to a much stronger slate in full-year 2013 for Viacom [with] limited impact on full-year 2012 results.”
One industry veteran agrees the real impact of a weak 2012 won’t be apparent in the current fiscal year’s results. Paramount will receive a hefty 8 percent fee from Disney on The Avengers (part of the deal when Disney bought out Paramount’s interest), and the studio is still benefiting from its 2011 hits. He predicts, “The bad news will come next year.”
4:41 AM PDT 5/29/2012 by Stuart Kemp
Chinese broadcaster ZheJiang Satellite TV snaps up format rights to produce 12 episodes of the weight loss dance show.
LONDON – NBCUniversal’s weight-loss dance challenge format Dance Your A** Off has booked its passage to China.
The company has sealed a deal with Chinese broadcaster ZheJiang Satellite TV for the format with the satcaster set to produce 12 episodes. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
Dance Your A** Off is a show where men and women who struggle with their weight compete in a dance challenge to “unleash their inner thin.”
The Chinese broadcaster will air the show on Sunday evenings at 10pm, with a rollout scheduled for later this year. The show originally premiered on Oxygen in the U.S. in 2009. This is the format’s fourth version to air internationally.
Danish and South African versions of the program aired in 2010, and an Estonian version broadcast earlier this year. Dance is also under license in Italy and optioned in Germany.
NBCUniversal International senior vp formats and production Yvonne Pilkington said: “Through the support of our local representative, Linfield Ng, China and the wider Asian region is becoming a very active market for us. Our mix of gameshow formats from dating to cookery to big production primetime shows offers Asian broadcasters a diverse menu of choices to fit their audiences.”
Du Fang, TV vice controller of ZheJiang Satellite Channel, added: “ZheJiang is excited to bring Danceto our audience. Not only is the format entertaining but there is also a positive message that will resonate with our viewers. NBCUniversal have been terrific partners in helping us adapt the show for the Chinese audience.”
12:26 PM PDT 5/23/2012 by Seth Abramovitch
Could the casual reference to his 10-year relationship mark a new era in how same-sex-loving celebrities acknowledge their personal lives?
Jim Parsons, the lanky, Texas-born actor who has won two Emmys and a Golden Globe award for playing persnickety genius Sheldon Cooper on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, acknowledges that he is gay and in a 10-year relationship, the New York Times reveals.
But blink and you may have missed it: The information is buried towards the end of the 1,800 word profile — which focuses mostly on Parsons’ lauded stage work in Broadway revivals of The Normal Heart and, now, Harvey — and doesn’t even contain a direct quote from Parsons himself.
“The Normal Heart resonated with him on a few levels,” theTimes‘ Patrick Healy writes. “Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said.”
Whether or not this constitutes a “coming out” for the popular TV star seems to be a topic for debate. Some industry and online chatter today has argued that Parsons was never really “in,” openly and matter-of-factly addressing his relationship whenever it came up in his daily life and work. And it’s not the first time a reference to his sexuality has been made in a print publication. (That honor would go to Antenna magazine, which folded shop earlier this year, Parsons gracing the final cover.)
But compared to other primetime stars who identify as gay — take Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson, for example, who has been tireless in his vocal support for same-sex marriage rights — there’s no denying that Parsons has been extremely quiet on the topic.
If anything, the news marks what could be a new chapter in the evolution of the celebrity “coming out” story. Unlike the old-school approach — the magazine-cover-route followed by a string of “revealing” TV interviews, a method trailblazed by the likes of Ellen DeGeneres and later mimicked by everyone from Lance Bass to Neil Patrick Harris — the new method stealthily embeds the personal information in a larger piece on the “work.”
Credit Zachary Quinto, another in-demand gay actor straddling both Broadway and Hollywood, with having forged the template: In late-2011, the Star Trek and American Horror Story star gave an interview to New York magazine, ostensibly about his performance in another New York theater revival with gay themes — Tony Kushner‘s Angels in America. Four paragraphs into the piece, the crucial clause found its way into a sentence:
“And at the same time, as a gay man, it made me feel like there’s still so much work to be done, and there’s still so many things that need to be looked at and addressed.”