Week in Review: It's Showtime, folks
EmptyShowtime boss Matt Blank said this week that he expects "as many first-run premium films on our air three years from now as we do today." Just how they'll do that in the wake of last week's decision by Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM to end their output deal with the net and create their own channel is open to question. With all the major studios accounted for via deals with HBO and Starz, observers see the Weinstein Co. and Summit Entertainment as prime candidates for output pacts. Another option is stepping up original production -- and not just series like "The Tudors" and "Weeds." Showtime could theoretically plunge some of the $300 million saved on output deals into telefilms -- territory it hasn't ventured into in three years. Chiming in during an earnings conference call Tuesday, Les Moonves, CEO of Showtime parent CBS Corp., predicted that the channel "won't miss a single beat." Meanwhile, the new Viacom channel effort might have solved the mysterious VOD component it's been touting. The Wall Street Journal reported that Blockbuster is in talks to take a stake in the venture in return for digital rights to the channel's programming.
On this, we part ways: "I'm a lover, not a fighter. I don't like the sport," Sumner Redstone said Wednesday of Les Moonves' decision to strike a CBS deal for Elite Xtreme Combat. Redstone told guests at a Milken Institute panel that carrying mixed martial arts was "not socially responsible." Quick to pile on was Fox Sports chief Ed Goren. "We don't need the money that badly," said Goren, who is apparently unaware that his channel has carried the MMA mayhem of the Pride Fighting Championships since 2006.
Friends like these: "The Rome festival is pointless." Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your new RomaCinemaFest director, Pasquale Squitieri. Granted, it's not entirely clear that Rome mayor-elect Gianni Alemanno even has the authority to displace current director Goffredo Bettini, but that's the plan. Also on the agenda: budget cuts, a smaller staff and a toned-down event that focuses on Italian productions rather than Hollywood A-listers. So you'll forgive Venice Mayor Massimo Cacciari for crowing just a bit. "Alemanno is an intelligent man," he told local press. "Maybe he will simply close the RomaCinemaFest."
Ruh roh: In what legal experts are terming a textbook example of the "meddling kids" defense popularized on "Scooby Doo," Anthony Pellicano told jurors Thursday that the only reason the FBI found out about his various wire-tapping escapades was because ... they looked for them. The former P.I. took less than 20 minutes to make his closing argument, in which he decried the 2002 seizure of his computer files and countered prosecutors' contention that he was "part of a thoroughly corrupt criminal organization." Not true, Pellicano said. "One thing you will not find is that Anthony Pellicano was not a criminal enterprise," he said. OK, close enough.
Seven-month itch: The well-traveled Dawn Airey had her passport stamped for a return to RTL and the top post at the Five channel this week, just seven months after beginning her tenure as ITV's global content chief. The move will displace current Five CEO Jane Lighting.
Shhhh ... Don't tell anyone, but "Scrubs" is moving to ABC. Not that everyone hasn't known for months, but ABC is keeping mum until its upfront presentation, and NBC -- understandably -- is playing it low-key in the extreme, going so far as to bill the last episode as simply a season finale. The real question is if there's any gas left in the tank. Ratings have been up since NBC paired it with "The Office" this year, but the Zach Braff starrer will likely be teamed with a freshman comedy at ABC.
Lesson learned: You can stop holding your breath for the next free Radiohead album: It's not coming. "I think it was just a one-off response to a particular situation," frontman Thom Yorke told THR of the band's recent pay-what-you-like download plan for the album "In Rainbows." Despite the fact that many reportedly paid nothing at all for the album, Yorke still believes the game's been changed for good. "We are about that direct relationship (now) because we are big enough to establish that," he said.
Cannes opener: Two of the world's premier film events locked in their opening-night pics this week. Fernando Meirelles' "Blindness" will open the Festival de Cannes, while the Coen brothers' latest effort, John Malkovich starrer "Burn After Reading," has been tapped to open the Venice Film Festival at the end of August.
End credits: James Gandolfini and former child actor Anna Chlumsky are "In the Loop" for BBC Films. ... Rodrigo Santoro, who brought an eroticized Xerxes to "300," turns his charms on Jim Carrey in "I Love You, Phillip Morris."