Week in Review: Demise of HD DVD
EmptyGive peace a chance: Warner Bros., the CES pull out, Wal-Mart -- the dominos fell at a ruthless pace for HD DVD during the past few weeks. Maybe that's why it all felt a bit perfunctory by the time Toshiba finally waved the white flag, ending this generation's Betamax/VHS battle with more of a whimper than a roar. The news of the surrender was followed hours later by Universal's announcement that it was switching to Blu-ray, with Paramount and DreamWorks Animation following in short order. The big winners, of course, are easily confused consumers everywhere.
Pretty sneaky, sis: If you're one of the legions longing for a remake of 1985's "Clue," your dream took a step closer to reality this week. Universal and Hasbro unveiled a six-year pact intended to produce at least four films based on Hasbro properties including Monopoly, Candy Land, Battleship and, yes, Clue. The first film from the deal is expected by 2010-11, and Hasbro is said to be in negotiations with Ridley Scott to direct a Monopoly pic. Yes, that Ridley Scott. No word on who owns the rights to Connect Four.
'Records' set: Beyonce Knowles is adding some star power in front of and behind the camera in Sony BMG Films' "Cadillac Records." In addition to playing Etta James in the '50s period piece about soul label Chess Records, the pop diva is taking an exec producer credit and contributing four songs to the soundtrack.
No upfront for you! The annual dog-and-pony show known as the upfronts will be shy a Peacock this year. NBC has pulled its traditional New York presentation, opting for one-on-one meetings with advertisers as part of its new year-round programming strategy. One aspect of the plan turning heads is a stated desire to bring advertisers into the process at an earlier stage, something the network insists will be about things like sponsorship integration rather than content. "I don't want anybody to think that we're going to be taking notes from the advertisers on how to do our shows," NBC co-chairman Marc Graboff said. Now who'd be cynical enough to think something like that?
Anime mined: A live-action version of seminal '80s anime "Akira," kicking around in development at Warner Bros. for years now, has roared back to life courtesy of Leonardo DiCaprio. Ruairi Robinson, an Oscar winner for his 2001 short "Fifty Percent Grey," has been tabbed to make his feature debut on the project, which the studio envisions as a two-part epic. DiCaprio will produce via his Appian Way shingle alongside Andrew Lazar of Mad Chance.
Kicking it up: Emeril may not still be 'Live,' but Martha Stewart saw some value in Lagasse's brand, cooking up a $50 million deal this week for the celebrity chef's assets. Stewart's MSLO has TV on its mind with the move, and will make international syndication a priority. Wall Street saw the value too, as MSLO's stock closed up 17.3% the day of the announcement.
Back to work: "Will & Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick scored the first major scripted TV sale since the writers strike concluded. ABC has given a pilot order to the duo's latest comedy -- a multicamera effort penned pre-strike -- that revolves around two lifelong friends and business partners. ... Elsewhere, CBS picked up two reality-themed projects: the Jamie Kennedy-produced "Splits-ville" and an untitled project from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" creator Tom Forman.
Berlinale surprise: The Weinsteins' Latin American Film fund got a shot in the arm as its first project, Jose Padilha's "Tropa de Elite," scored an upset Golden Bear win at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film topped the favored "There Will Be Blood," which still earned a best director nod for Paul Thomas Anderson.
End credits: Anthony Anderson is picking up the badge laid down by "Law & Order's" Jesse L. Martin after nine years on the NBC drama. ... Helmer David Fincher is in love with Par horror romance "Black Hole." ... Danny Huston will give Wolverine a very hard time in Fox's "X-Men" spinoff.