7 Days of Deals
DEAL OF THE WEEK: AEG On the Block -- Bidders Circle, Will Price Top $7 Billion?: The battle for AEG is on. Los Angeles biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, who lost out to Guggenheim Partners in his effort to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers, is now partnering with the financial services firm in an attempt to purchase an even bigger prize.
In Anschutz Entertainment Group, Guggenheim and Soon-Shiong would have a live-events business that towers over the Dodgers, which sold to a group that also includes Magic Johnson for $2.15 billion in May. AEG, whose stable of assets includes the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, Staples Center, the adjacent L.A. Live complex and live-music presentation arm AEG Live, is expected to fetch as much as $7 billion. Blackstone Group is managing the sale process; other possible bidders include Comcast and the Madison Square Garden Co.
While some have speculated that the decision to sell could signal AEG has lost faith in its ability to bring an NFL team to the $1.5 billion downtown stadium it plans at L.A. Live (the L.A. City Council will vote to approve it Sept. 28), sources say this is not the case.
Indeed, the record-setting Dodgers deal is partly why AEG's owner, reclusive Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz, is selling. And insiders note that at Anschutz's age -- he's 72 -- the timing is right. "There is a perfect storm for them right now," says Jeff Marks of sports consultancy Premier Partnerships. He notes that Anschutz has a history of buying low and selling high, including his sale of Qwest Communications shares in 2009 for $1.6 billion. "They have the world champion hockey team. You have a turn-key NFL stadium ready to go, and L.A. Live is a fun place. At the end of the day, this is it."
Much like the coalitions Guggenheim brought together to buy the Dodgers and, more recently, Dick Clark Productions for about $385 million (both groups included producer Peter Guber), the bid could feature local players beyond Soon-Shiong. And he has a strong local track record: The South Africa native owns a piece of the Lakers (which he acquired from Johnson) and is worth a reported $7.2 billion. Guggenheim, co-owner of The Hollywood Reporter, declined comment, as did Anschutz. -- Daniel Miller
From Mogul to Spielberg Producer
Tom Rothman, the Fox studio chief who announced Sept. 14 that he's leaving after 18 years, has quickly found a new job: producer. Rothman will shepherd Steven Spielberg's Robopocalypse, a DreamWorks sci-fi action thriller based on a book by Daniel H. Wilson. Rothman, close with Spielberg after they worked together on Minority Report, helped broker a deal for Fox to release the film with Disney on April 25, 2014. Now he'll team with Spielberg to prep the pic -- Anne Hathaway is in talks to co-star opposite Chris Hemsworth -- for a start in summer 2013. Says Rothman, "In politics, you dream of a call from the White House; in baseball, from the Yankees; in movies, from Steven Spielberg." -- Kim Masters
MSNBC Host Promoted to Today
Willie Geist, the oft-fill-in for Matt Lauer on the Today show, will officially join the flagship broadcast as co-host of the 9 a.m. hour. Geist's promotion comes as Today staffers find themselves in a ratings dogfight with ABC's surging Good Morning America, which has bested NBC's morning show in the 25-to-54 demographic during the past several weeks (GMA toppled Today's 16-plus-year winning streak in April). Geist joins Natalie Morales, Al Roker and Savannah Guthrie, who was tapped this summer as Lauer's co-host after NBC News brass decided to shorten Ann Curry's uneven tenure alongside Lauer. Geist, 37, will give up his early-morning MSNBC program Way Too Early, but the Illinois native will remain on the 6 a.m. hour of Morning Joe, where he has been the straight man opposite Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. -- Marisa Guthrie
Hatfields & McCoys star Bill Paxton (WME) is in talks to join Tom Cruise in All You Need Is Kill, a sci-fi action movie at Warner Bros.
Gong Li (ICM) will star in the China-U.S. co-production The Last Empress for Seven Stars Film Studios.
Roman Polanski (ICM) will direct a French-language adaptation of David Ives' Broadway smash Venus in Fur. The film wil star Polanski's wife, Emmanuelle Seigner, and Louis Garrel.
The Weinstein Co. has acquired U.S. rights to Lee Daniels' The Butler, the story of the man (Forest Whitaker) who served eight U.S. presidents.
Rachel Griffiths (WME, the U.K.'s Markham Froggatt, Signpost) and Kathy Baker (Paradigm, Hofflund Co.) have joined Disney's Saving Mr. Banks, about the making of Mary Poppins.
Casey Affleck (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) will star in Race to the South Pole, a drama written by Peter Glanz (The Longest Week) that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are producing via their Warners-based company Pearl Street.
Former Saturday Night Live player Jenny Slate (WME, 3 Arts) will write a live-action/CG hybrid Looney Tunes movie to be produced by David Katzenberg, Seth Grahame-Smith, Harry Potter producer David Heyman and his Heyday Films president Jeffrey Clifford.
SNL digital short director Jorma Taccone (UTA, Mosaic, Ziffren Brittenham) is developing Spy Guys, an action-comedy written by Adam Sztykiel (Due Date), for New Line.
Kate Bosworth (CAA, MPE, Sloane Offer) is joining Jason Statham and James Franco in Homefront, Millennium Films' action movie scripted by Sylvester Stallone.
Open Road Films and Endgame Entertainment have picked up distribution rights to Marlon Wayans' horror spoof A Haunted House, setting a Jan. 11 release.
Project X star Miles Teller (CAA, Bold, Stone Meyer) will star opposite Analeigh Tipton and Jessica Szohr in the indie romantic comedy Two Night Stand.
IFC Films is in talks to pick up domestic distribution rights for Brian De Palma's racy drama Passion.
James Gandolfini (CAA, Sanders Armstrong, Sloane Offer) is attached to star in and executive produce the HBO pilot Criminal Justice, from writers Steven Zaillian and Richard Price.
Bethenny Frankel's (WME) talk show Bethenny has been cleared to launch on Fox stations nationally in fall 2013.
Guillermo del Toro (WME, Exile) and Southland's Sara Gran (RWSG, Hirsch Wallerstein) are developing for HBO Nutshell Studies, a Hitchcockian drama about a 1950s housewife who becomes obsessed with solving brutal crimes. Del Toro also is teaming with Carlton Cuse (Lost) to adapt the director's vampire book trilogy The Strain, which is set up at FX with co-author Chuck Hogan.
Garry Marshall (CAA) has sold the family comedy Golden Guys to Fox. He and his son, Scott Marshall, will write and executive produce.
Ben Stiller (WME, Gang Tyre) has sold Please Knock, a single-camera comedy loosely based on his life, to ABC. Kevin Napier is on board to write the script and executive produce the project with Stiller.
House's David Shore (ICM, Shuman Co., Edelstein Laird) has sold a drama about a cop turned lawyer to ABC.
The CW is developing a contemporary Alice in Wonderland drama from The Playboy Club's Chad Hodge (WME, Fuller Downs), with McG and Peter Johnson attached as executive producers.
Homeland's Howard Gordon (WME, Gendler & Kelly) and Chronicle writer Max Landis (WME, Circle of Confusion, Behr & Abramson) have sold a superhero police drama to Fox.
Paul Giamatti (UTA) has inked a two-year, first-look deal with FX Productions to develop projects for cable.
Laura Prepon (Gersh, New Wave) has joined Netflix's Orange Is the New Black, playing the ex-girlfriend of Taylor Schilling's lead character.
James Caan (CAA, Bloom Hergott), Esai Morales (Innovative, Kritzer Levine, Cohen & Gardner), Sherilyn Fenn (Anthem) and Jamie Harris (Innovative, Rough Diamond) have boarded Starz's Magic City for the drama's second season.
Sean Combs (CAA) will guest star on FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Hairspray alum Nikki Blonsky (Innovative, Moses & Singer) will recur on the second season of NBC's Smash.
Matthew Broderick (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) will guest star on ABC's Modern Family, playing a friend of Ty Burrell's.
Fox is picking up four episodes of Does Someone Have to Go, a reality show in which employees at a troubled office choose whether to fire a co-worker.
James Brolin (ICM, Jeff Wald) will play Joel McHale's father on an episode of NBC's Community.
Greek's Jake McDorman (UTA, Reel) will recur on the third season of Showtime's Shameless as Emmy Rossum's new boss.
FX has renewed late-night talk show Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell. … Lifetime is bringing back Army Wives for a seventh season. … Comedy Central has renewed Tosh.0 for a 30-episode fifth season. … ABC Family has given pilot orders to comedies from American Pie 2's David H. Steinberg and Mike & Molly's Bill Daly and to a drama based on Televisa series Terminales. … Syfy has renewed Haunted Collector for a third season. … Spike TV has ordered extreme animal-handler series Urban Tarzan. … Discovery Fit & Health has renewed freshman Secretly Pregnant.
Chelsea Handler (Michael Broussard, ISB New Media) is partnering with Grand Central for 50 Shades of Chartreuse, a collection of short stories to be published in October 2013.
Holland Taylor (Gersh) will star in a Broadway play based on the life of former Texas governor Ann Richards.
Casting directors have ratified a new three-year deal with producers.
Dolly Parton has partnered with International Game Technology to launch three Parton-branded slot machines, Dolly Parton Video Slots, Two Doors Down and Nine to Five Spinning Reels.
Digital Domain, facing bankruptcy, has sold its visual effects, commercial production and virtual performance business for $30.2 million to China's Beijing Galloping Horse Film Co. and India's Reliance MediaWorks.
Elton John and partner David Furnish have sold their side-by-side condos at Sierra Towers in West Hollywood to an undisclosed businessman for $4.65 million.
Music video website Vevo on Sept. 1 moved into new 12,000-square-foot offices in Playa Vista. The five-year lease with landlord Lionstone Group is valued at about $2.5 million. -
RuPaul Charles, host and executive producer of RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo, has signed with CAA.
Carson Entertainment Group, which holds licensing rights to The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, has signed with WME.
Writer-director Nenad Cicin-Sain, whose The Time Being debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, has signed with UTA.
Kevin Ryan, who stars in the BBC America drama Copper, has signed with ICM Partners.
Venezuelan director Eduardo Rodriguez (El Gringo, Stash House) has signed with APA.
THE NEXT BIG THING: David Meunier
Reps: Ellis Talent, Justice and Ponder. Why He Matters: The French-American actor, 39, has graduated from appearing in one-off TV episodes to a key role on FX’s Justified, which returns for a fourth season in early 2013, and a recurring part on NBC’s new J.J. Abrams drama Revolution.
THE BIG NUMBER
$1.9 Billion -- Value of Universal Music Group's takeover of music firm EMI, home of The Beatles, approved Sept. 21 by U.S. and E.U. regulators.