Around the World: Sundance channel for sale?
It was a good week for cursing fans. The nation's No. 1 exhibitor, Regal Entertainment Group, announced plans to trade in their green-band trailers for the red variety on certain R-rated flicks, a first since exhibs went running for the hills in 2000 after the release of an FTC report on the marketing of violence to kids. The move, unveiled at ShoWest, is expected to lead a number of the nation's other chains to follow suit and unleash bawdier trailers on age-appropriate audiences. ... On the TV side, the Supreme Court is finally turning its attention from small concerns like gun ownership to the use of the dread "fleeting expletive." Both News Corp., which is appealing fines based on live-TV slips of the tongue, and the FCC, which issued those fines, are applauding the high court's decision to hear the case -- ostensibly because both think they'll win.
It was "no comment" all around as a report surfaced this week that Robert Redford's Sundance Channel is on the block. The cable net, a joint venture among CBS, NBC Uni and Redford, could be valued at about $400 million, or $15 per subscriber. A buyer might look to move the net from the paid tier it occupies on many services in favor of digital basic.
Friends like these
Life without Televisa? It's something the telenovela producer's business/sparring partner Univision probably doesn't want to think about. The 3-year-old lawsuit between the companies is headed to trial next month, and hanging in the balance is a U.S. licensing deal that accounts for 75% of Univision's primetime lineup. The 25-year pact, first struck in 1992, has generated profits for both, but not nearly enough to satisfy Televisa, which some predict could launch its own network if victorious. One thing's for certain: when the dust settles, an ongoing relationship probably isn't in the cards. "I would be willing to bet my last dollar (a new deal won't be struck)," Televisa attorney Marshall Grossman said this week. "This is a relationship that has been irreparably damaged."
Agents of change
It was an interesting week on the agency front, led by the fact that Steven Soderbergh actually has an agent now. The helmer, solo since splitting with Pat Dollard in 2005, has inked with Anonymous Content, where he'll be repped by Michael Sugar. Elsewhere, Vince Vaughn bolted UTA and manager Eric Gold to join CAA, which in turn lost client Adrien Brody, who walked out sans a new agent. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Talent Agency is hanging on by a thread. The boutique firm laid off eight employees this week -- almost its entire staff -- after having a tough time weathering the 150-day WGA strike.
Time Warner watch
Carolyn Strauss stepped down as entertainment president at HBO this week after 22 years at the cable net, while Toby Emmerich stepped upped to lead a reorganized and slimmed-down New Line Cinema. While insiders attribute the Strauss move (former Discovery boss Jane Root is being touted as a possible replacement) to HBO's Bill Nelson and Richard Plepler, most assume it was at least sanctioned by new Time Warner topper Jeff Bewkes, who has the company in full internal scrutiny mode as he eyes everything from a possible shedding of its interest in the CW to a merger of specialty film units Picturehouse and Warner Independent.
The U.S. Federal Reserve's big bad rate cut sent stocks soaring Tuesday but the rising tide didn't do all that much for entertainment stocks. Of the major media congloms, Disney (up 4.1%) came the closest to matching Tuesday's 4.2% gains for the S&P 500. Big media brethren trailing Disney included Viacom (3.7%), Time Warner (3.1%), Sony (2.4%) and News Corp. (2.3%). Smaller companies led the way on THR's Showbiz 50 chart, with radio operator Cumulus Media and theaterical exhibitor Car-mike Cinema marking gains of 15.1% and 13.7%, respectively. Only Cablevision, Imax, Liberty Media and Dolby managed losses on the day.
Michael Cera is hammering out a deal to star in "Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life" for Universal and helmer Edgar Wright ... Anton Yelchin is joining McG's "Terminator" update in the role played by Michael Biehn in the 1984 original. ... Steve Zahn is making "A Perfect Getaway" for David Twohy and Relativity Media. ... Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler and America Ferrara are giving voice to DreamWorks' "How to Train Your Dragon."