7 Days of Deals
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Paula Drama Leads to X Factor Payday: Leave it to Paula Abdul to create drama on The X Factor before she even joins the show. The reality star drove a hard bargain during negotiations with Fox, Fremantle and Simon Cowell's Syco Television, with talks stretching into the early morning hours May 7, a day before Abdul was scheduled to critique the first round of contestants in Los Angeles alongside Cowell, Antonio "L.A." Reid and Cheryl Cole.
Insiders say that Abdul, who quit American Idol in 2009 over her desire for a big raise from the reported $3.5 million in salary and perks she received to judge the competition, was asking for a similar amount to join X Factor. According to two sources close to the dealmaking, producers initially offered $2 million, but Abdul was able to negotiate that fee up to somewhere in the $2 million to $3 million range. (Fox, Fremantle and Syco declined comment on the number, and Abdul's reps did not respond to inquiries.) That's less than she made on Idol but among the "top tier" of reality-competition judges, sources say.
The deal -- negotiated without much input from Abdul's UTA agents because the star is claiming she shouldn't pay a commission on it -- came after an arrangement was worked out with CBS to let Abdul out of an option the network had on her due to her short-lived CBS series Live to Dance. The contract for that show arguably could have precluded her from signing on for X Factor -- or at least might have prevented her from joining for its first televised audition rounds.
On the afternoon of May 7, as the clock ticked down to the taping and loose ends of Abdul's deal were being wrapped up, Fox was able to announce that U.K. presenter Steve Jones and former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger had closed their deals to host the show -- the duo's deals were much easier to close.
But the protracted Abdul negotiation finally ended with the onetime Laker Girl taking her place on May 8 alongside Cowell, who said he would have canceled the first audition rounds if her deal wasn't finished. "These conversations had gone on long enough," he told THR. -- Matthew Belloni
How Warner Music Sold for $3.3 billion
Warner Music Group has finally paid off for CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. and the investors who bought the company for $2.6 billion in 2004. Russian billionaire Len Blavatnik's Access Industries said May 6 that it will pay about $3.3 billion (or $8.25 a share) for the Big 4 label. In its fiscal 2006, WMG made a $60 million profit on $3.5 billion in revenue. But it has lost money every year since -- $143 million in 2010 alone -- and revenue sunk to $3 billion. WMG reported May 10 that its fiscal-second-quarter loss grew by 39 percent to $38 million despite a 2 percent revenue increase to $682 million. Still, Blavatnik sees opportunity. His interest could be in WMG's in-the-black publishing assets, or he might try to buy EMI to create the world's dominant music company. -- Paul Bond
Cameron Diaz (CAA, Montone/Yorn, Jackoway Tyerman) will star in What to Expect When You're Expecting, Lionsgate and Phoenix Pictures' adaptation of the pregnancy guidebook series for director Kirk Jones (Nanny McPhee) and writers Shauna Cross and Heather Hach.
Thor star Chris Hemsworth (IFA, ROAR, Australia's Mark Morrissey, Gang Tyre) is in negotiations to star in Snow White and the Huntsman for Universal and director Rupert Sanders. Kristen Stewart will play the other title character, with Charlize Theron as the evil queen.
Tommy Lee Jones (CAA, Jacobson Russell) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) have joined Steven Spielberg's Abraham Lincoln biopic, along with Hal Holbrook, James Spader, John Hawkes, Tim Blake Nelson, Bruce McGill and Joseph Cross. Jones will play a Republican leader who is critical to funding the Civil War. Gordon-Levitt will play the eldest son of President Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis).
Stanley Tucci (CAA, Anonymous) and American Beauty's Wes Bentley (WME, Untitled, Morris Yorn) have joined Lionsgate's The Hunger Games as the host and head gamemaker of the film's deadly competition.
Dodgeball director Rawson Thurber (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) is in negotiations to helm the New Line pot comedy We're the Millers, which centers on a drug dealer who decides on his 30th birthday that he wants out of the business.
Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam (CAA, Brillstein) is in negotiations to star in director Guillermo del Toro's sci-fi monster pic Pacific Rim, for Legendary Pictures.
Oscar winner Rachel Weisz (CAA, the U.K.'s Independent Talent Group, Brillstein, Hirsch Wallerstein) is in talks to play the villainess in Oz: The Great and Powerful, Disney's Wizard of Oz prequel to be directed by Sam Raimi and starring James Franco.
Rod Lurie (WME, Nelson Davis) will direct Borderline, a thriller about a family taken hostage by fugitives, written by Justin Marks (CAA, Madhouse, Lichter Grossman) and being produced by Voltage Pictures' Nicolas Chartier and Craig Flores along with Jamie Patricof.
Lionsgate is bringing The Texas Chainsaw Massacre back to theaters in 3D with John Luessenhop (ICM, Stone Meyer) directing and Carl Mazzocone producing.
Nathan Lane (Arcieri & Associates, Anonymous) and Robert Emms (Curtis Brown Group, Wishlab) have joined Relativity's The Brothers Grimm: Snow White, starring Lily Collins and to be directed by Tarsem Singh.
Stephen Collins (APA, Envision, Gendler & Kelly) will play the villain in Fox's The Three Stooges, joining stooges Will Sasso, Chris Diamontopoulos and Sean Hayes in the Farrelly brothers film.
Lizzy Caplan (CAA, Mosaic, Jackoway Tyerman), Kirsten Dunst (UTA, Management 360, Hansen Jacobson), Adam Scott (CAA, Untitled, Wendy Heller) and Casey Wilson (UTA, Odenkirk Provissiero) are attached to star in a low-budget indie comedy tentatively titled Bachelorette, being produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay via their Gary Sanchez Productions. Leslye Headland (CAA, Caliber, Myman Greenspan) wrote and will direct.
Focus Features and Coraline animation company LAIKA are reteaming for ParaNorman, another 3D stop-motion film. It is slated for nationwide release Aug. 17, 2012.
The Pacific 10 college sports conference (soon to be renamed the Pacific 12) is starting its own network in 2012 and has closed a 12-year, $2.7 billion deal with Fox and ESPN for football and basketball. The Pac-12 will retain ownership of the network; ESPN will air its football games on cable as well as ABC; and Fox will show its games on its broadcast network, FX and on the Fox Sports Net regional networks.
CKx Inc., owner of American Idol producer 19 Entertainment, will be acquired by an affiliate of financial firm Apollo Global Management. The deal values the company at about $509 million.
Evan Peters (Gersh, Luber Roklin) and Taissa Farmiga (ICM, Authentic, Jodi Peikoff) are joining Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott in Ryan Murphy's FX pilot American Horror Story. The thriller revolves around a husband and wife who move their family to a haunted San Francisco home.
Fox has renewed House for an eighth season.
A&E has renewed 11 series, including Hoarders, Gene Simmons Family Jewels and Beyond Scared Straight, and is prepping 10 new series. ... E! has picked up a second season of After Lately, a behind-the-scenes look at Chelsea Handler's Chelsea Lately. … MTV has picked up a fourth season of Teen Mom. Season 3 premieres July 5. … Lifetime has ordered a sixth season of Army Wives. ... Comedy Central has renewed Workaholics for a 10-episode second season. … BIO has picked up 10 episodes of a reality series starring Bristol Palin.
Warner Bros. has acquired Flixster, the movie-discovery service with more than 25 million users per month that also includes film review site Rotten Tomatoes. The deal, valued in the $60 million to $90 million range, will enable Flixster to expand into digital content delivery.
Oscar winner Melissa Leo (ICM, Untitled) has closed a deal with Simon & Schuster to publish her memoir. The book is expected in 2013.
Ben Barnes, who played Prince Caspian in two Chronicles of Narnia movies, has signed with WME. … Lucas Black, who starred in Get Low and appeared in Jarhead and Sling Blade, has signed with ICM. … Justin Hartley, who co-stars on the CW's Smallville, has signed with UTA. … Brenda Song, whose credits include The Social Network and Disney Channel's The Suite Life, has signed with UTA. … Boutique publisher ZOVA Books has taken on managers at Circle of Confusion
for film, TV and foreign print rights. ... Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin, writer-performers on NBC's Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, have signed with CAA.