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EmptyOprah OWNs you
It was really just a matter of time wasn't it? She's got a syndication powerhouse, a magazine, a Web site, a book club and now ... Oprah Winfrey has her own TV network. Dubbed OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network is a 50-50 venture with Discovery that will take over Discovery Health Channel's slot on the cable dial and immediately reach 70 million homes. Oprah will have "full editorial control" over the net's programming and branding, but it's not yet known if her eponymous talk show will make the jump to cable at some point. And no, contrary to popular belief, she does not own Oxygen.
May the force ...
Force majeure hit Hollywood in ... well, force, this week. Four TV studios — CBS Paramount Network TV, Universal Media Studios, 20th Century Fox Television and Warner Bros. TV — played the majeure card as they eliminated dozens of overall deals. Among those finding the figurative locks changed at the studio were Rene Echevarria ("The 4400"), Jonathan Lisco ("K-Ville") and Hugh Jackman, whose Seed Prods. had a deal at CBS Paramount.
Let's make a deal
On the other side of the strike ledger, the WGA locked up another pair of interim agreements, signing deals with Gary Barber's Spyglass Entertainment and Media Rights Capital. "I'm in the business of making movies, and I need to get to work," Barber said. One big question raised by the deals is how much they'll benefit the studios who ultimately will distribute the resulting films. "It's a balancing act," former WGA West associate counsel Jonathan Handel said. "The upside is a continuing demonstration that the guild's demands are not unreasonable. But strategically, it's a real mixed bag."
A long-gestating makeover of the Paramount executive suite was unveiled this week, with John Lesher and Rob Moore taking on new titles and responsibilities. Lesher, who made his bones at indie unit Paramount Vantage, will now have creative control over all the studio's labels as president of the Paramount Film Group, while Moore takes a vice chairman title and consolidates his standing as major domo of the studio's international and home entertainment units.
Over at 20th Century Fox TV, drama chief Jennifer Nicholson Salke has been upped to oversee both drama and comedy development at the studio. Patrick Moran and Jonathan Davis will now head the drama and comedy departments, respectively.
A year after Terra Firma's purchase of EMI, the ax is finally starting to swing. The music label said this week that it will chop 2,000 jobs worldwide as part of a major restructuring that will ostensibly save $392 million a year. The company's focus will shift to investment in A&R.
Atomic age over
Fox Atomic, we hardly new ye. The genre label, launched in March 2006, is having its marketing operations shifted to 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight. The move spells the exit of Atomic co-founder and COO John Hegeman along with most of the label's top creative and print advertising execs. Atomic's nonmarketing departments will continue to operate as normal but the shingle will now be more of a division like Fox 2000 than a label unto itself.
From your lips ...
Germany's Uwe Boll, creator of such epics as "BloodRayne" and "Alone in the Dark," is retreating from the big-budget world after the $3 million opening for his $70 million fantasy epic "In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale," which features Ray Liotta as an evil wizard ... possibly from New Jersey. "In the future, I will focus on small films such as (video game adaptation) 'Postal' or (Vietnam War drama) 'Tunnel Rats.' These are films that represent my true passion," Boll said.
Hayden Panettiere will go from playing a hot cheerleader on "Heroes" to playing a hot cheerleader in Fox's "I Love You, Beth Cooper," which Chris Columbus is producing. ... "27 Dresses" director Anne Fletcher has a "Proposal" for Touchstone. ... Timothy Olyphant is making "The Perfect Getaway" for Relativity Media. ... Will Smith's son Jaden is following his turn opposite dad in "Pursuit of Happyness" with a role in Fox's "The Day the Earth Stood Still."
By Chad Williams