7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week,
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Why the Globes Crawled Back to Ricky: Will the stars show up? That was the big concern when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association met Nov. 16 to vote on whether to bring back controversial Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais for another turn. NBC and Dick Clark Productions had argued that a return to the podium by the bomb-throwing Gervais would juice ratings for the Jan. 15 telecast. But before saying yes, the HPFA and its PR firm undertook an informal poll of talent publicists, which revealed that the A-list film and TV talent that has turned the Globes into a marquee event would indeed come back for another Gervais-hosted show. And prior to the poll, HFPA president Aida Takla-O'Reilly and a colleague flew to Paris to have dinner with Gervais, his girlfriend and an NBC executive. "He really wanted to do the show, contrary to what he pretends," says Takla-O'Reilly. Some, including former HFPA president Philip Berk, whom Gervais famously insulted onstage last year, didn't want the comic back for his third stint on the Globes. "We got along fine for years without a host," says an HFPA member who voted against Gervais. Berk told THR after the Globes in January that the host had "definitely stepped over the line" with barbs directed at Robert Downey Jr., Bruce Willis and Charlie Sheen as well as telling the show's 17 million U.S. viewers that he "had to help [Berk] off the toilet and pop his teeth in." Berk, though, now insists he didn't take the joke personally. "It was just part of his shtick, a way for him to be funny," he says. In the end, only a small percentage of the organization's 90-odd members voted against Gervais. "We air our feelings and then all get united," says Takla-O'Reilly, adding that Gervais has agreed to show producers and network executives a version of his script in advance and let them watch rehearsals. However, she and the other HFPA members know that the same reason they fear Gervais is the reason they invited him back for more. Says Takla-O'Reilly, "We can't tie his hands too much because then he won't be funny anymore." -- Alex Ben Block
The Race to Create A Cable Killer
At a breakfast hosted by the Wall Street Journal in early November, Sony CEO Howard Stringer talked about building "a different kind of TV set." A week later, the Journal reported that Sony might launch "an Internet-based alternative to cable TV." Like Netflix, Hulu and others, Sony's own PlayStation Store already makes dozens of TV shows available on-demand after they air on TV, but Sony and others know that the holy grail is to create a service so compelling that consumers would trade in their cable or satellite services. So far, though, all the Internet-based options combined have convinced only an estimated 3 percent of consumers to take that "cord-cutting" step. Sony won't comment, but its plans reportedly are to offer small bundles of channels to be delivered through Internet-connected TV sets and other devices, like Blu-ray players and PlayStation 3 consoles. Media companies, though, don't want to offer up their best content and alienate their big cable and satellite customers, so Sony will have to settle for niche channels, at least initially. "Sony's heart is in the right place here, but it's going to face a lot of resistance in getting this new service off the ground," wrote the Motley Fool's Rick Aristotle Munarriz. And Sony's competition isn't only cable and satellite providers -- it's also the likes of Microsoft, which already offers limited TV through its Xbox 360; Google, with its Google TV and rumored plans to test an Internet-based service in Kansas City; and Apple, which has Apple TV and other initiatives yet to be revealed. But what the TV industry shouldn't expect is much more cord-cutting over the next few years, says NPD analyst Russ Crupnick. The worry instead should be over "cord-throttling," whereby consumers who use Hulu, Netflix and whatever Sony comes up with downgrade their pay-TV packages. Crupnick asks, "Do they really need to spend $100 for all those channels?" -- Paul Bond
Entertainment Law Firm to Revamp Former CAA Annex
Entertainment law firm Liner Grode Stein Yankelevitz Sunshine Regenstreif & Taylor Llp. is remodeling the office building at 9800 Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills that it purchased from a partnership that includes former CAA topper Michael Ovitz and Bob Goldman, the agency's former CFO. The 40,000-square-foot building, which the law firm purchased for roughly $13.5 million in December 2010, is adjacent to the former CAA headquarters and was used by the agency as an annex when it outgrew its main building next door. The 60-lawyer firm will move into the property in March. – Daniel Miller
Angelina Jolie (Media Talent Group, IFA Talent, UTA, Sloane Offer) is attached to star in Gertrude Bell, a biopic of the early 20th century Middle East pioneer. The project is being developed by Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions. Jeffrey Caine is writing the screenplay as a vehicle for Jolie.
Sharon Stone (Paradigm, Binder & Associates) will play the mother of Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) in Lovelace, which follows the life of the adult film legend who starred in 1972's Deep Throat.
Chuck star Yvonne Strahovski (IFA Talent, Australia's Sue Barnett and Associates, McKeon Myones) will play a scientist in I, Frankenstein, the action monster movie starring Aaron Eckhart. Miranda Otto (Gersh, Management 360) is also on board.
Luke Wilson (CAA, Hirsch Wallerstein) is in talks and Kevin Connolly (CAA, Principato Young, Ziffren Brittenham) has signed to join the cast of Elvis & Nixon, the indie drama centering on the 1970 meeting of Elvis Presley (Eric Bana) and Richard Nixon (Danny Huston).
New Line Cinema is developing Rampage, based on the 1980s video game featuring apes and monsters destroying cities. John Rickard will produce and is meeting with writers to develop a story. The property comes from Midway Games, which was acquired by New Line sister Warner Bros. in 2009 for $33 million.
John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky (WME, 3 Arts, Morris Yorn), who co-wrote the Will Ferrell comedy Blades of Glory, are in talks to develop a story for a Woody Woodpecker movie to be made by Illumination Entertainment, the Universal-based animation house behind Despicable Me.
Japanese martial arts master Sonny Chiba (Keya Morgan Productions) has signed a four-picture deal with producer Assembly Line. The 72-year-old actor-director will kick off the pact by co-starring with Tony Todd in the action drama Bushido.
UTV Motion Pictures will produce the Hindi remake of 2009 Korean blockbuster My Girlfriend Is an Agent. The untitled project will be the debut directorial venture by Bosco, one-half of the Bollywood choreography duo Bosco Caesar.
The Help co-stars Allison Janney (WME, Thruline) and Chris Lowell (WME, Thruline) have joined Jessica Szohr and Rose McIver in Light Years, an indie romantic drama that Maggie Kiley is directing from a screenplay she wrote with Matthew Mullen.
Netflix is resurrecting Arrested Development, with 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television producing original first-run episodes of the series for the Internet-subscription service. The new episodes will be available to Net-flix members beginning in the first half of 2013.
Elisabeth Shue (CAA, Management 360) will replace Marg Helgenberger as the female lead of CBS' CSI. Her first episode airs Feb. 15.
Bones castmembers Michaela Conlin (Evolution, McKuin Frankel), T.J. Thyne (Greene & Associates), Tamara Taylor (Greene & Associates, Manifest Talent, Stone Meyer) and John Francis Daley (UTA, Management Co., Felker Toczek) have secured salary increases to the mid-five- figures range per episode for the Fox drama's current seventh season and an eighth season, if it happens.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart contributor Kristen Schaal (UTA, Avalon, Morris Yorn) has booked a multi-episode arc on NBC's 30 Rock.
Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller's (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) reimagination of The Munsters has been picked up to pilot at NBC.
Chelsea Handler (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) has inked a new two-year deal, keeping her on E! through 2014. She'll develop and produce shows via her Borderline Amazing shingle.
Tony winner Christine Ebersole (APA) has joined the TBS comedy pilot Sullivan and Son.
Dean Cain (Paradigm, Kleinberg Lopez) will guest star on an episode of CBS' Criminal Minds.
Showtime has renewed Dexter for two additional seasons. … CBS is bringing back Survivor for two more seasons and has picked up three more episodes of freshman drama A Gifted Man. … Comedy Central has renewed South Park for three more seasons. … NBC has picked up a handful of new scripts for rookie supernatural drama Grimm. … OWN has extended the seasons of news program Our America With Lisa Ling and docuseries Welcome to Sweetie Pies with eight- and 10-episode orders, respectively, and ordered Beverly Johnson's supermodel docuseries Beverly's Full House.
Twentieth Television's The Ricki Lake Show has been cleared in more than half the U.S. TV market and will launch in September. … Debmar-Mercury/ITV's The Jeremy Kyle Show has been renewed for a second season.
Miramax plans to raise $550 million via a bond offering to pay a dividend of about $142 million to owners including Tom Barrack's Colony Capital and Ron Tudor and refinance existing debt at lower interest rates.
Comics creator Stan Lee (CAA, Arthur Lieberman) and his POW! Entertainment have inked deals with YouTube and media company EQAL. POW! is creating a YouTube channel called Stan Lee's World of Heroes, which will be a joint venture with Michael Eisner's digital studio Vuguru. With EQAL, POW! plans to launch TheRealStanLee.com, a site to act as "all things Stan Lee."
Glenn Beck's (N.S. Bienstock) Internet-only network GBTV has agreed to a deal to develop a comedy series with Icebox, a production company founded in 1999 by a group of TV writers that includes Jon Collier and Howard Gordon.
Sebastian Stan, who co-starred in Captain America as the titular character's sidekick, has signed with WME. … David O'Hara, who most recently recurred on Showtime's The Tudors, has signed with APA. … Audrey P. Scott, who starred in Think 0f Me, which premiered at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, has signed with ICM. … Austin Stowell, who appeared in Alcon's Dolphin Tale, has signed with CAA. … Corey Reed, co-producer of the new Starz drama series Da Vinci's Demons, has signed with CAA. ... Australian actress Hayley Magnus, who will next be seen in Warner Bros.' Paradise Lost, has signed with UTA.