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Where there’s smoke … A day after a fire ripped through the Universal lot, it was pretty much business as usual at the studio. Despite the loss of the backlot’s King Kong attraction, a familiar New York Street cityscape and a massive video vault, the park was open for business — even the tram ride was operating by Monday morning — and most employees were at their desks. “We were very lucky,” Uni chief Ron Meyer said. “It could have been worse.” The biggest losers may be the revival houses that had booked films from the Universal archives. “If the print was set to ship from the studio, then your date is now canceled,” read an e-mail to one L.A. theater forced to revamp its schedule. The fire was accidentally sparked by workers using a blowtorch.
Not dead and loving it: Reports of the demise of Brooksfilms have been greatly exaggerated, or so Mel Brooks told THR this week after a New York gossip page put the shingle out to pasture. “Brooksfilms is still here and will be going on for a while,” he said. “I’m not at all slowing down, and nobody has told me to stop.” Next up for the funnyman’s 30-year-old production company is a horror film still in the script stage with the harrowing title “Pizzaman.”
Sibling rivalry: Put the pen down and back away from the contract. That’s the message SAG president Alan Rosenberg and national executive director Doug Allen are expected to deliver to dual SAG-AFTRA cardholders in a special executive committee session Friday. It’s a longshot, but with some 44,000 SAG members holding AFTRA membership, the move might be enough to derail the guild’s tentative pact with producers. So why are they doing it? The new AFTRA pact bumps minimum salaries by an average 3.5% a year (4.3% for major roles), but some say it’s just not enough. “Our lack of pursuing adequate minimums has caught up to us,” said one Los Angeles-based actor, who argued that AFTRA hasn’t aimed high enough in negotiations. “Even if (the raises) keep up with inflation, you haven’t made it one step further.” But others insist the move is simply SAG leadership’s way of covering themselves politically with their own membership. “They’ve boxed themselves into a corner at every turn,” another source said. “They’ve got nowhere to go.”
Out on his shield: The RomaCinemaFest is apparently out of the woods with new Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, and all it took was the festival president’s resignation. Goffredo Bettini met with the mayor — who targeted the fest for cutbacks during his recent electoral campaign — Tuesday and agreed to step down from his post in a move that will secure the city’s continued financial and political backing of the event. The 86-year-old Gian Luigi Rondi, president of the David di Donatello Awards, has been tapped as the festival’s next leader.
Rolling in d’oh!: Two episodes behind but $100,000 per episode richer, the voice cast of “The Simpsons” was back at work this week after receiving hefty pay raises. Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer (last to sign on the dotted line) have agreed to four-year deals that will bump their rate from about $300,000 per episode to closer to $400,000. Additionally, Castellaneta — the voice of Homer — has been named a consulting producer.
We … merge … your … unit. We merge it up! An award-winning Oscar season that boasted “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” proved no match for the “optimizing” of “efficiencies” this week as Paramount Vantage saw its marketing, distribution and physical production departments merged into the larger studio. The move, which follows Warner Bros.’ recent decision to shutter Warner Independent and Picturehouse, eliminates three senior positions but will keep the shingle operating as a production label.
Mystery solved: Less stuffy, more adventuresome — that’s the Sherlock Holmes Guy Ritchie is expected to deliver to Warner Bros. The “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” helmer has signed on to write and direct a reimagining of the detective based on the new comic book by Lionel Wigram.
End credits: Kim Cattrall is rediscovering her sexuality (again) with HBO comedy project “Sensitive Skin.” … Andre Braugher is helping Ray Romano get serious in TNT drama “Men of a Certain Age.” … Bruce Willis is off death row and hunting for a fortune in Lionsgate’s video game adaptation “Kane & Lynch.”
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