Week in Review: Runaway 'Runway'
EmptyRunaway 'Runway': Bravo appeared to lose its biggest hit this week as producer the Weinstein Co. announced it's taking "Project Runway" to Lifetime. NBC Universal responded by wishing them well in their new relationship. ... Just kidding. They're suing. In the suit, filed in New York's Supreme Court, the Weinsteins are accused of tying renewal rights to the show to the acquisition of what NBC Uni terms "second-tier" Weinstein films. Somehow this shocking proviso didn't seem to bother Lifetime, which will proudly bring you "The Nanny Diaries" very soon.
All things UTA: It was quite the week at UTA. Things kicked off with the departure of partners Nick Stevens, Lisa Hallerman and Sharon Sheinwold, who bolted for Endeavor with a chunk of the agency's stellar comedy roster -- including Ben Stiller and Jack Black -- expected to follow them. Stevens, who had been at the agency since '91, was said to have clashed with the top partners over management style. ... Meanwhile, HBO, struggling to find its next "Six Feet Under," turned to the woman who packaged the show in the first place, UTA TV co-head Sue Naegle. She'll leave the agency to fill the void left by last month's abrupt departure of Carolyn Strauss. ... The moves were good news for some at UTA, notably Matt Rice, who ascends to head the TV department, and TV lit agents Dan Erlij and Larry Salz, both of whom have made partner.
Bootstraps 101: Everyone loves a Horatio Alger tale. Maybe that's why the line extended down three flights at Cannes' Palais this week to hear Elisabeth Murdoch deliver the most apocryphal origin story since the one about Tori Spelling being cast in "Beverly Hills, 90210" despite producers' ignorance of her lineage. Murdoch kept her MIPTV audience riveted with tales of a "broke executive" who started at the "bottom rung of the ladder," unable to even secure meetings with studio execs. Luckily, things managed to work out for her somehow. No doubt a relief to her father ... Rupert something or other.
The producer: You can't stop Tobey Maguire, you can only hope to contain him. The "Spider-Man" star snagged a pair of projects this week that he'll produce, picking up spec script thriller "The Hungry Rabbit Jumps" and optioning Lori Gottlieb's buzzed-about Atlantic Monthly article "Marry Him! The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough." They're the second and third deals he's closed in a week.
Flight delayed: The lure of a plum Presidents Day slot apparently outweighed Oscar ambitions at UA this week as the studio moved Tom Cruise's World War II project "Valkyrie" off its Oct. 3 debut and shifted it to Feb. 13. The move comes on the heels of Sony's "The Pink Panther 2" and Uni's "The Wolfman" vacating the date. "Valkyrie" will be the first outing for the Cruise/Paula Wagner regime since the disappointing boxoffice performance of November's "Lions for Lambs."
'W' is for ... Oliver Stone's "W" went under the microscope this week as The Reporter passed a draft of the script to a quartet of George W. Bush biographers, to mixed reaction. General consensus seemed to be that, while the facts are more or less straight, the president and his inner circle are played for caricature at times. "It leaves you with the impression that the White House is run as a fraternity house," said author Robert Draper, who seemed confident it's not. ... In other "W" news, Thandie Newton was cast as the world's best-looking Condoleezza Rice.
Jump-start: Fox saw NBC's reimagining of the upfront and raised them this week as Kevin Reilly unveiled plans to head into next year's upfronts with multiple episodes of series already in the can. To do that, team Fox has launched a second round of pilot pickups in the hope of getting new shows in production by the fall. "Typically, you finish buying drama scripts in October. If by then I could have more than half of my slate in production, I'd be thrilled," Reilly said. Ad buyers sound into it so far -- Carat's Shari Anne Brill called it "brilliant" -- but the real question is whether the extra episodes will give them a chance to figure out they don't like a show.
End credits: Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie and John Hurt have joined the burgeoning cast of "New York, I Love You," taking roles in the 12-part anthology's Anthony Minghella-scripted section. ... Leslie Mann is taking a big toke of dark comedy "I Love You Phillip Morris" opposite Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. ... Jeffrey Dean Morgan will attempt to unlock the mysteries of "All Good Things."