‘Modern Family’ In Limbo: Actors Without New Contracts 

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When Steve Levitan shouts “wrap” on Modern Family’s season eight finale on Friday, his cast will be without contracts to continue.

Despite the Emmy-winning comedy’s still-significant ratings, sources say its studio, 20th Century Fox Television, has yet to begin negotiating with the show’s six stars — Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Jessie Tyler Ferguson and Ed O’Neill — for a not-yet-ordered though all-but-inevitable ninth season. The hold-up, two insiders tell The Hollywood Reporter: a fight between 20th TV and host network ABC over the cost of the long-running show.

This far into a series’ run, the network (rather than the studio) traditionally funds most of production as part of its licensing agreement; though just how much is currently in question. In the case of Modern Family, that price tag is hefty, thanks in large part to the already rich salaries being paid to the award-winning ensemble. In its eight season, which is now airing, the stars of Levitan and Christopher Lloyd’s hit half-hour are said to be making roughly $350,000 per episode as well as getting a cut of the series’ profits. They will no doubt demand considerably more to continue. Both the network and studio, which technically have until mid-May to make a decision about the show’s fate, declined to comment.

Those cast paychecks became public ahead of Modern Family’s fourth season, when all six actors banded together and sought sizable raises. That process was neither quick nor civil, with heated talks prompting a lawsuit (the actors sued 20th TV to get out of their contracts, which they claimed violated California’s law against deals lasting more than seven years) during the summer of 2012. Ultimately, the cast reached a deal that included back-end profits (a new perk for all but O’Neill) and significantly more money with each passing season; in exchange, the actors agreed to add an eighth season to their collective contracts. Later that same summer, the child stars inked raises of their own.

Modern Family’s significance to both its studio and network shouldn’t be underestimated. In its eight season, the series may be down from its early years, but still it’s ABC’s top-rated show — and primetime’s No. 2 comedy — with an average 4.0 rating among the key 18-to-49 demo. That prolonged success has translated to ad revenue, too, with 30-second spots reportedly selling for more than $200,000 this season. For 20th TV, the series is not only a calling card to help lure other creators to the studio, but a billion-dollar property courtesy of rich syndication deals with outlets including USA.

Earlier this month, reports in THR and elsewhere revealed that another long-running juggernaut (and the only comedy outrating Modern Family), The Big Bang Theory, was nearing a deal to continue after intense conversations between CBS and studio Warner Bros. TV. Key castmembers — which Modern Family’s actors reportedly turned to as a model to negotiate their raises three and a half years ago — were poised to secure new contracts and the series a renewal. Multiple observers suggest they’d be shocked if ABC and 20th TV ultimately don’t do the same. After all, it would be hard to believe that the network or the studio associated with the genre’s other runaway hit would be ready to walk away.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by hollywoodreporter.com


Oscars: How The Wrong Envelope Triggered A Best Picture Fiasco

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‘La La Land’ producer Jordan Horowitz: “Something was wrong. I had to fix the situation.”

It was all about the envelope. Please!

A moment before he walked out onstage with his Bonnie and Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway to present the best picture award at the 89th Oscars, Warren Beatty was handed the wrong envelope, one containing the name of best actress winner Emma Stone for La La Land.

As seen by millions of viewers, when Beatty opened the envelope, he paused, as if not quite sure what he was seeing, but then passed it to Dunaway, who announced “La La Land!”

One studio publicist, who was standing next to someone backstage who had a headset on, heard a stage manager say, “That’s the wrong envelope. It’s Moonlight!” What followed was unprecedented in Oscar history.


Almost as soon as the La La Land crew took to the stage, and its producers began issuing their thank-yous, it was clear from a bustle of sudden activity that something was wrong.

As La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz recounted it, “Guys in headsets starting buzzing around. They took the envelope I had. It said ‘Emma Stone, La La Land’ on it. It was clear there was something wrong. They started looking for the best picture envelope. Nobody knew where it was. Then it appeared. They opened it next to me and it said ‘Moonlight.’ And so I grabbed it. I had to fix the situation.”

Right in front of the television audience, Horowitz stepped to the mic and said, “There’s been a mistake. Moonlight, you won best picture. This is not a joke.”

In the normal course of events, the accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers create two complete sets of actual winners’ envelopes. During the ceremony, two accountants stand on opposite sides of the stage throughout the ceremony, alternating between each other in the handing out of envelopes, depending on which side of the stage the presenters enter from.

There was no immediate explanation as to why Beatty was handed the wrong envelope. Several hours after the ceremony, the Academy issued an apology from PricewaterhouseCoopers that said, “We sincerely apologize to Moonlight, La La Land, Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Oscar viewers for the error that was made during the award announcement for best picture. The presenters had mistakenly been given the wrong category envelope and when discovered, was immediately corrected. We are currently investigating how this could have happened, and deeply regret that this occurred. We appreciate the grace with which the nominees, the Academy, ABC and Jimmy Kimmel handled the situation.”

As La La Land’s name was first read out, the Moonlight gang seemed to take it in stride. Backstage after the ceremony, best supporting actor winner Mahershala Ali explained, “La La Land has done so well and has resonated with so many people — especially in this time when people need a sense of buoyancy in their life and need some hope and light. So that film has really impacted people in a very different way than Moonlight. When their name was read I wasn’t surprised, and I was really happy for them. It’s a group of extraordinary people.”

Jenkins later offered his perspective: “We were sitting on the wing, I had a direct beat on the screen and I saw the feed went out. I knew something was a little bit off, but I didn’t know what. I could see Jordan’s face and that’s when I realized something was happening. I could see in his face that it wasn’t a joke.”

Ali added, “When I did see security people coming onstage and their moment was being disrupted in some way, I got really worried, and then when they said, ‘Moonlight, you guys have won,’ it just threw me, more than a bit. I didn’t want to go up there and take anything from somebody. It’s very hard to feel joy in a moment like that,” though he added, “I feel very fortunate for all of us to have walked away with the best picture award. It’s pretty remarkable.”

Said Jenkins, “I felt a million different things, but I did realize that whatever Jordan was going to say was going to be the truth because he looked over and I just wanted to hug him.”

Horowitz drew praise for moving so quickly and graciously to help resolve the situation. “They handled it with so much poise and class,” Manchester by the Sea producer Kevin J. Walsh said of the way the La La Land group passed the award on to the Moonlight folks.

Horowitz himself was philosophical, saying, “Look, we won six Oscars. The picture’s been a critical success, a financial success,” he said. “It’s been a wild ride and it ended in spectacular fashion.”

But, in the view of others, the situation should never have happened. Observed CBS CEO Leslie Moonves, “I felt bad for all of the participants. La La Land is a great movie, and Moonlight is a great movie. They both deserved to be best picture. I wouldn’t have been unhappy either way. But it’s a self-inflicted wound. The accountant has one job, to hand the guy the envelope. I don’t understand how something like that happens.”

CBS Films president Terry Press commented, “I felt sad for both movies. Moonlight did not get the moment it should have gotten, and La La Land did not get the moment it should have gotten.”

The snafu was the talk of the Governors Ball that immediately followed the awards, but when asked for her take, Dunaway simply told THR, “I’m not going to speak about it.”

Presented by by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by hollywoodreporter..com

Happy 40th Anniversary, ‘Slap Shot’! 

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Over the last few decades – thanks in part to movies and TV shows like Dazed and Confused, Boogie Nights, Anchorman and HBO’s Vinyl – there’s been a pronounced pop cultural tendency to reduce the 1970s to little more than a fabulous parade of campy signifiers like mirrored disco balls, brightly-painted muscle cars, platform shoes, bellbottomed jeans, tube tops, Afro hairdos, pornstaches and piles of cocaine.

It’s an understandable impulse, of course. (Who doesn’t love Afros or piles of cocaine?) But taking such a superficial approach to the seventies means glossing over the grittier, grimier and more soulful aspects of a decade that was marked as much by socio-economic upheaval and spiritual dislocation as it was by debauchery and decadence. There’s a scene early on in Slap Shot – George Roy Hill’s brilliant hockey comedy, released 40 years ago on February 25th, 1977 – that may be one of the most quintessentially “seventies” things ever committed to celluloid, even though there’s nary a groovy shag carpet or white three-piece suit anywhere in sight. Minor league hockey players Reggie Dunlop (Paul Newman) and Ned Braden (Michael Ontkean) walk along a dreary street in front of the local steel mill, arguing about what the factory’s just-announced shutdown is going to mean for their team and their town.

“What are these poor fuckers going to do when they close the mill?” wonders Braden. “10,000 mill workers will be placed on waivers. Every sucker for himself, I guess.” Ned’s wife Lily (Lindsay Crouse) then brings the conversation to a halt by drunkenly roaring up in a dingy 1971 Ford Econoline van. Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” is blasting from the radio, and she fixes her husband with a glare as toxic as the fumes rising from the mill’s smoke stacks. “Will you ever win?” Stevie Nicks asks, and there were quite a few blue-collar workers during the Nixon/Ford/Carter years who were asking themselves the same question.

Four decades ago, Slap Shot didn’t fare particularly well with the moviegoers or critics of the day, many of whom took issue with the film’s violence and raunchy humor — the very things, of course, that would make the film a belated cult hit with viewers who soon discover it on VHS and cable. Nowadays, it’s rightly considered a sports-movie classic, and it’s hard to find a self-respecting hockey fan who can’t rattle off a few choice lines from the Hanson Brothers — the child-like goons played by professional hockey players David Hanson, Jeff Carlson and Steve Carlson — at the slightest provocation. But there’s far more to this near-perfect puck opera than bloody brawls or sidesplitting antics. No other sports film of the 1970s so brilliantly captures the downbeat look and feel of its era, while also realistically rendering the lives of its subjects, both on the field (or ice, in this case) and off.

Much of its innate authenticity is due to an excellent script by Nancy Dowd, who based the story (and its eyebrow-singeing dialogue) on her brother Ned’s brief career as a minor league hockey player. Her sibling, who makes a brief appearance in the film as the dreaded enforcer Ogie Ogilthorpe, played for the Johnstown Jets of the North American Hockey League; at his sister’s behest, he often set up a tape recorder in the Jets’ locker room and on team bus rides, in order to capture the hilarious off-color repartee of his teammates. While Slap Shot’s violence is certainly reminiscent of the brutal brand of play that characterized the NHL during the mid-1970s – as epitomized by the ruthless Philadelphia Flyers, a.k.a. the “Broad Street Bullies” – all of the film’s fight scenes, even the one where the Hansons charge into the crowd in search of a guy who hit one of them with a set of keys, were based on actual incidents involving the Jets.

But Dowd’s script also accurately depicts the crushing tedium of life in the minors. Slap Shot’s Charlestown Chiefs spend most of their downtime in seedy dives, diners and motel rooms, watching game shows or soap operas while drinking away their boredom and dreaming of better things. (In the words of Brad Sullivan’s delightfully sleazy Morris Wanchuk, “Here’s to all that gorgeous snatch in F-L-A!”) The Chiefs’ wives have it even worse; at least their husbands get to work out their frustrations on the ice. As Shirley Upton (Swoosie Kurtz) puts it, “I only drink in the afternoon. Or before a game. Or when Johnny’s away.”

While some of Slap Shot’s characters are undeniably cartoonish, others clearly reflect how Americans were grappling issues of personal identity and self-fulfillment in the wake of the sexual revolution, the feminist movement and the psychedelic awakening of the 1960s. A decade earlier, a woman like Lily Braden probably wouldn’t have given a second thought to following her husband from Princeton University to a small working-class city like the fictional Charlestown, Pennsylvania. But with the U.S. divorce rate spiking hard at that point, she would have certainly given serious thought to leaving her husband rather than endure another stifling season as a hockey wife. And then there’s Chiefs player Dave “Killer” Carlson (Jerry Houser), who’s completely down with Dunlop’s new strategy of provoking fights, yet also finds inspiration and peace in the “positive-thinking” records of Swami Baha – a riff on the self-actualization cults like EST and the Source Family that were massively popular during the 1970s.

Dowd’s script alone would have made for a compelling movie, but it’s George Roy Hill’s direction that really puts Slap Shot over the top. Hill had previously worked with Newman on 1969’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and 1973’s The Sting (which netted him an Oscar for Best Director); he had a decided flair for telling stories about outsiders, and for getting the most out of sharply-written dialogue. But he was also a stickler for realism, even in a sports comedy, and did much of the shooting in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where Ned Dowd had played for the Jets. Hill makes the most of Johnstown’s stark industrial landscape, as well as its depressed downtown – where the lone movie theater is showing Deep Throat – and its cheerless Cambria County War Memorial Arena, where much of the hockey action takes place. It’s utterly believable that local fans would come to Chiefs games less for the hockey than to blow off steam, or that they’d become galvanized by Dunlop’s decision to refashion the team as a stick-swinging goon squad; likewise, it makes perfect sense that the Chiefs would be revitalized by their followers’ newfound enthusiasm.

In casting the players, Hill insisted on using actors who could actually skate. Al Pacino was originally up for the role of Reggie Dunlop, but was offended that the director seemed more concerned with his agility on the ice than his acting chops. Nick Nolte, Harrison Ford, John Travolta, Tommy Lee Jones, Kurt Russell and Richard Gere also auditioned for various parts in the film; none of them skated well enough to qualify. Ontkean, who had been a star Right Wing at the University of New Hampshire, was perfect for the role of the former college star who wants to play clean, “old time hockey,” but Hill also upped the verisimilitude factor by hiring actual hockey players – guys who could not only skate and handle a stick, but could also be shown removing their dentures before hitting the rink. The Hanson characters were actually based on brothers Jeff and Steve Carlson (their third brother, Jack, opted out of filming because his team was in the playoffs at the time, and had to be replaced by Jets player Dave Hanson). Opposing goons Clarence “Screaming Buffalo” Swamptown and Ross “Mad Dog” Madison were respectively portrayed by Joe Nolan and Connie “Mad Dog” Madigan, professional players whose real-life reputations were as fearsome as those of their characters.

During the last decades of his life, Paul Newman repeatedly name-checked Dunlop as one of his favorite roles, and it’s easy to understand why. Though not especially talented as a player or a coach, our foul-mouthed hero managed to hang on thanks to a combination of looks, charm and guile, and he has to utilize every bit of those attributes if he’s going to achieve his aims. In short, he’s got to keep the Chiefs from folding, keep his team’s winning streak alive and keep his ex-wife from leaving town. The team may be little more than a tax write-off for its ownership, but hockey is Dunlop’s life. Despite his protestations that he’s “got nothing to worry about,” he knows deep down that he’s aging and running out of options.

Newman digs into Dunlop’s profane dialogue like a hungry man devouring a steak, but the appeal of his performance goes well beyond, “Damn, Paul Newman is talking shit!” The moment where Coach first realizes that the fans have been fired up by the Hansons’ goonery is a thing of subtle beauty, communicated solely via a goofy grin and the crazed gleam in his baby-blue eyes. It’s one thing to play the guy as an go-get-’em Knute Rockne type or a grizzled misanthrope, but the movie star plays him as a mediocre leader; only the Hansons are dim enough to be pumped up by his boilerplate pep talks. For all of his “clever” attempts at manipulating the team, its owner and the local media, the only person who’s totally fooled by Dunlop is Dunlop himself.


Rowdy, raunchy, hilarious, absurd, deeply depressing and profoundly human – often all at the same time – Slap Shot is refreshingly devoid of phony uplift or showy monologues. There’s no jerking of tears or pulling of heartstrings, no big lessons to be learned beyond the harsh reminder that sports is a business; the passion of its fans and the heroics of its players are ultimately less important than the clang of the cash register. It’s the rare combination of both team-spirit uplift and period-appropriate downer. Even hailing from a decade with no shortage of competition (The Bad News Bears, Rocky, Brian’s Song, North Dallas Forty, Bang the Drum Slowly, etc.), Slap Shot remains the greatest sports flick of the 1970s – and we’ll gladly “put on the foil” and duke it out with anyone who says otherwise.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by rollingstone.com

Bill Paxton Passes Away At 61

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Bill Paxton has died … TMZ has learned.
We’re told the actor died suddenly Saturday due to complications from surgery.
Paxton had a string of hits, including “Twister,” “Titanic” and “Aliens.” He won an Emmy for “Hatfields and McCoys.” He was on a CBS series, “Training Day” at the time of his death.
The 61-year-old actor had 2 children and was married to Louise Newbury.
The family says, “It is with heavy hearts we share the news that Bill Paxton has passed away due to complications from surgery.” The family accurately describes his “illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and flimmaker.” The family adds, “Bill’s passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable.”
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by tmz.com

Body Found In Closet At Hollywood’s Magic Castle

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The LAPD is currently investigating the death in which the body of an illusionist was found at the magic-themed club on Friday.

The body of an illusionist performing at The Magic Castle was found in a closet on the club’s premises in Hollywood Friday night.

The Magic Castle released a statement Saturday morning that the death has been ruled as suicide by LAPD. The Castle resumed performances on Saturday morning.

The man was discovered with a bag over his head, dressed only in his underwear, by an employee of the Castle, according to reports by TMZ.

In 2015, the Magic Castle’s founder, Milt Larsen, and his niece, Erika Larsen, the current president of the Academy of Magical Arts that runs the storied membership club, were embroiled in a legal battle over the 5.5 percent royalty from annual food and beverage sales at the club and in 2016 a class-action lawsuit was filed that alleged the management of the club had not paid at least one hundred hospitality workers’ wages in full.

The Magic Castle is famous as a haven for magicians from around the world, offering intimate magic shows for members and guests of the Castle.

The full statement from The Magic Castle is below.

It is with great sadness that the Academy of Magic Arts (AMA) and the Magic Castle mourn the passing of a celebrated magician and AMA family member last night.

A beloved illusionist, who was performing at the Magic Castle this week, was found dead on the club’s premises on the evening of Friday, Feb. 24. His death has been ruled a suicide by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Since the family has not yet been notified, we are unable to release more information at this time, but the magic community mourns the loss of one of our most beloved and talented performers. The AMA’s deepest regrets and heart-felt sympathy go out to the family.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by hollywoodreporter.com

Patton Oswalt’s Wife Died Surrounded By Pills & Cocaine!

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Patton Oswalt has claimed his wife tragically died of an accidental overdose and heart condition, but documents obtained exclusively by RadarOnline.com reveal that investigators found “cocaine” and piles of pills at the scene!

The actor’s wife, Michelle McNamara, dropped dead in April 2016, at age 46. Earlier this month, Oswalt told fans that her death was caused by a “combination of drugs” and a previously undiagnosed heart condition. A new autopsy report obtained by Radar confirms that cause of death – but that isn’t the whole story.

According to the report, investigators found “multiple pills” and a vial of cocaine at the drug-riddled death scene!

As for which of those she may have sampled, authorities said that the powerful narcotic fentanyl, antidepressant alprazolam (Xanax), and amphetamines were all discovered in McNamara’s blood stream.
The antidepressant Bupropion, synethetic opiates like Oxycodone and anti-anxiety benzodiazepine pills were just some of the haul discovered in the veritable drug den.

In all, authorities found five prescription bottles, multiple plastic baggies filled with pills, and two clear plastic bags, “each containing a smaller, clear plastic bag, containing a small brown vial containing apparent white powder.”

“Cocaine and Levamisole” [a worm parasite treatment often cut with cocaine] “were identified in the representative sample” from one vial, and hydroxyephedrine was found in the other.

Still, Oswalt, 48, told cops at the scene that his wife had no known history of narcotics use, according to the documents, and said that she only drank socially. He revealed that she had suffered bouts of depression and was seeing a psychiatrist, but had not threatened suicide.

He even claimed that the Xanax they had found was his!

LAPD have not announced any intentions to charge Oswalt over the possession of the drugs. Meanwhile, he is raising the couple’s daughter, Alice, 7, alone.
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by radaronline.com

Paul McCartney The Magician

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The 74-year-old musician was recently spotted showing off his trickery at a party in Los Angeles, and onlookers have described his act as “really good”.

One fellow party-goer said: “Sir Paul is a really talented magician. He often performs tricks during any showbiz bash he attends. He’s actually really good, people are always so shocked.”

It has been claimed that The Beatles legend is thinking about expanding his career prospects and making his magic tricks available for hire.

The source added to the Daily Star newspaper: “He even mentioned that he would have to start hiring himself out for parties.”

However, the hitmaker will have his work cut out for him if he wants to take his magic to the stage, as he recently admitted he suffered from terrible stage fright during the early days of The Beatles and at one concert at Wembley in London he nearly gave it all up for good because it was so “painful”.

Asked by a fan on his website what his biggest fear is, he admitted: “Performing, it was always the idea that the audience didn’t like you and you had to prove yourself.

“I think that’s why a lot of people get stage fright and get nervous. You think, ‘Oh my god, I’m gonna be terrible, they hate me, and it’s all terrible.’

“And so I think that was one of the earliest fears. I remember nearly giving it all up when we were doing a concert in Wembley – which was a Poll-Winners concert – in the really early days of The Beatles.

“And I remember feeling physically sick with a knot in my stomach thinking, ‘I should give this up, this is just too painful, what am I doing?’ I got over it.

“And as you can see I didn’t give it up! So that’s two different kinds of fears.”

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by home.nzcity.co.nz

Bill Maher Contributes To Milo Yiannopoulos’ Downfall

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“As I say, sunlight is the best disinfectant,” the ‘Real Time’ host told The New York Times of Yiannopoulos’ controversial appearance on his HBO show.

Bill Maher has a message for his critics: You’re welcome.

After facing backlash over booking Milo Yiannopoulos on his HBO show last week, the Real Time host told The New York Times he feels the appearance helped to contribute to the controversial figure’s swift downfall.

“What I think people saw was an emotionally needy Ann Coulter wannabe, trying to make a buck off of the left’s propensity for outrage,” Maher said of Yiannopoulos’ Real Time visit Friday night. “And by the end of the weekend, by dinnertime Monday, he’s dropped as a speaker at CPAC. Then he’s dropped by Breitbart, and his book deal falls through. As I say, sunlight is the best disinfectant. You’re welcome.”

Maher’s booking of Yiannopoulos prompted plenty of outrage, with Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, canceling his appearance to debate the right-wing Breitbart News editor.

After the episode, the usually combative Maher was criticized for going too easy on Yiannopoulos. THR critic Frank Scheck said Yiannopoulos “came across like a teddy bear.”

During the interview, Yiannopoulos criticized Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, Sarah Silverman and again Leslie Jones, before getting into a shouting match with former Nightly Show host Larry Wilmore. Yiannopoulos was famously banned from Twitter last year after harassing the Ghostbusters and Saturday Night Live star on the platform.
“No matter what I did,” Maher told the Times, “it was never going to be enough for that slice of liberalism that would much rather judge a friend than engage an enemy, because it’s easier.”

He added, “And by the way, I wasn’t trying to get him removed from society.”

The exposure of the visit, however, did launch the timeline of events recounted by Maher.

After a resurfaced video over the weekend showed Yiannopoulos appearing to not condemn pedophilia, he was dropped as the keynote speaker at this week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, known as CPAC.

“Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference,” read a statement from ACU chairman Matt Schlapp on Monday.

Simon & Schuster canceled his $250,000 book deal, and on Tuesday, Breitbart News, where he was a contributor, severed ties as well.
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by hollywoodreporter.com

Netflix Buys Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’

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Netflix has acquired worldwide rights to Martin Scorsese’s gangster movie “The Irishman,” starring Robert De Niro.

Netflix would not comment on the deal but sources close to the project confirmed a report by IndieWire.

“The Irishman” will be the ninth collaboration between Scorsese and De Niro. Steven Zaillian has written the script, based on the Charles Brandt’s 2004  book, “I Heard You Paint Houses,” which centered on the life of the mob hitman Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran.

Scorsese and De Niro first partnered on 1973’s “Mean Streets,” followed by “Taxi Driver,” “New York, New York,” “Raging Bull,” “The King of Comedy,” “Goodfellas,” “Cape Fear” and 1995’s “Casino.”

Production on “The Irishman” is expected to start later this year.

The project originated in 2008 at Paramount with De Niro’s Tribeca Productions and De Niro’s producing partner Jane Rosenthal along with Scorsese’s Sikelia Productions.

The book title “I Heard You Paint Houses” comes from criminal slang for contract killings and the blood splatter on walls. Brandt befriended Sheeran shortly before Sheeran died in 2003 and he confessed the author that he had been involved with the killing of Jimmy Hoffa, carried out on orders from mob boss Russell Bufalino. Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and was never found.

“The Irishman” would mark Scorsese’s follow-up to “Silence,” a major disappointment for Paramount since opening wide on Jan. 20. The $46 million-budgeted historical drama has earned just $7 million domestically and may have contributed to Brad Grey’s exit as CEO of the studio last week.

STX spent roughly $50 million for international rights to “The Irishman” at last year’s Cannes Film Festival with Paramount still on board at that point to distribute the title in North America.

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by variety.com

What, Me Worry? Kimmel Talks Oscars

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Last December when Jimmy Kimmel was at the airport, coming home from a relaxing family vacation in Hawaii, he took a phone call from his agent with the offer. After he hung up — “my response was not one of enthusiasm,” he confesses — he dreaded facing his wife, TV writer- producer Molly McNearney, who had lived through his hosting the Emmys just three months earlier. “As I approached her, I felt like I was going to tell her I wrecked her car or something,” Kimmel says. “Then we got home, and I had a vicious migraine all night. It wasn’t your typical celebration.” This Sunday, Kimmel faces off in front of millions of viewers for the most thankless job in show business. The track record of many past Oscar hosts has been jinxed, with reviews ranging from bad (Neil Patrick Harris in 2015) to worse (Seth MacFarlane in 2013) to scorching (the incredibly awkward duo of James Franco and Anne Hathaway in 2011). In fact, the only masters of ceremonies in the past decade to emerge unscathed from the gig were Hugh Jackman (2009) and Ellen DeGeneres (2014), both of whom turned down offers to return. It’s better to quit, they decided, while you’re ahead. None of this is lost on Kimmel, 49, the amiable host of late-night talk show “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on ABC. “I made a decision to try to enjoy the process and be optimistic,” he says. “That said, my subconscious still tells me it’s going to be a disaster. This is a no-win situation. Even if it goes great, you get a lot of shit from a lot of people.”
The Emmy telecast was well reviewed, it was the lowest-rated in TV history, with only 11.3 million viewers tuning in to see the sweep by “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” So why host the Oscars at all? “I don’t know why,” Kimmel says drolly. For starters, his agent didn’t really present it as an offer he could turn down — not that Kimmel would. And it’s not as if he didn’t know an offer might be coming, whether he wanted it or not. “It’s like a Super Bowl for a comedian,” he says. “I think there are certain things that are major touchstones or milestones” — he reflects for a second — “some kind of stones, maybe gallstones. This is the biggest of them all. I won’t even say I like a challenge. Challenges are overrated. But I feel like I have to do it. There’s a lot of negativity that goes along with it, but it’s a pretty great feather to have in your cap. And it’s something that you can tell your grandchildren about.” Kimmel is the first Oscar host to take on the job fresh off the Emmys, a twofer that has led to restless nights in which he often dreams about jokes.“Originally, it seemed a bit daunting,” says “Kimmel” co-head writer Danny Ricker. “But it’s kind of nice that we have muscle memory for Jimmy hosting a three-hour awards show.”

My subconscious tells me it’s going to be a disaster. This is a no-win situation. Even if it goes great, you get a lot of shit from a lot of people.”

Jimmy Kimmel

Kimmel received a high-profile endorsement early on, when Disney-ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood publicly stated last September that he hoped the Academy would choose the late-night host. So why did it take almost three months for him to get the job? “The producers of the telecast pick the host,” Sherwood says, adding that ABC (which will air the ceremony through 2028) doesn’t have a say in the process. “I never suggested it officially to anyone.” Sherwood reveals that Kimmel had been on the Academy’s short list for at least two years. “Not only will he be great hosting the Oscars, we get to spread the cost of his tuxedo over two shows,” Sherwood jokes, referring to the Emmys. “He’s a perfect fit. He’s the king of viral video. He’s got great man-on-the-street instincts. You’re going to see him bring all his talents and comedy to bear on the Oscar stage.” Oscar producers Michael de Luca and Jennifer Todd didn’t extend their invitation to Kimmel until a few weeks before Christmas, which led to rampant speculation that he wasn’t their first choice. (They say he was.) Kimmel thought he’d been passed over, and his team almost took him out of the running because they got tired of waiting for the offer. “I assumed there was a long list of people they asked before me,” he says. “I fully interrogated Mike and Jennifer, and they swear it’s not true.” He thinks about it. “If anyone was asked before me, my guess would be Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.” (Todd, who runs Damon and Affleck’s production company Pearl Street Films, says, “That’s hysterical. Those guys would never host an awards show. It’s too much work.”) Finally, Kimmel says, “I would have liked to have a little more heads-up.” Kimmel will be steering the Oscars at a time when movies are struggling to stay ahead of TV in the water-cooler wars. None of the nine movies nominated for best picture is a major blockbuster — though “Hidden Figures” and “La La Land” both recently crossed $100 million at the U.S. box office. “I would have liked to have seen ‘Deadpool’ get nominated,” Kimmel says of the 20th Century Fox comic-book tentpole that was snubbed in all categories despite getting Golden Globe nominations. “I do think there’s a certain type of movie that’s not considered for awards. It’s a shame, because there’s nothing serious about the movies; they’re an escape.”

The ratings for recent Oscar telecasts on ABC have been down, with the boozier Globes taking away some of their thunder. Last year’s Academy Awards show, headlined by Chris Rock, hit an eight-year low, with 34 million viewers. Kimmel has so much to worry about — he says he doesn’t get enough tickets to invite all his friends, although his parents are coming — that he’s not sweating the numbers. “I think it has very little to do with me,” Kimmel says, acknowledging fractured viewing habits. “I don’t care if the Oscars are up 3%. I don’t care if they’re down.” Other producers have tried to interject hipness into the long telecast (Hello? Presenter Zac Efron?), to little success. This year, an effort to shake up the nominations by recording pre-taped testimonials from past winners like Jennifer Hudson and Marcia Gay Harden was mocked on Twitter as coming across like an infomercial. Kimmel slept through the nominations announcement. “I never get up early to watch anything,” he says. “I always figure it will still be there.” Unlike hosting recidivists Billy Crystal and Jackman, Kimmel doesn’t sing or dance. But he can make a room explode in laughter. For the Emmys, he enlisted Jeb Bush to play a chauffeur in a pre-recorded bit by personally emailing him and flying to Florida to shoot the scene. “I just pestered him until he had no choice,” Kimmel says. “He said, ‘All right, you maniac, I give up!’” While he won’t reveal how he’ll open the Oscars, he doesn’t rule out a cameo from Hillary Clinton. “Possibly,” he says. “I’m not saying that to be coy. I’m saying that because I don’t know.” Under President Trump, the Globes and SAG Awards doubled as political rallies, with fiery speeches from winners like Meryl Streep and Mahershala Ali. The political situation at the Oscars is already heating up — after Trump’s Muslim ban, UTA canceled its party, instead donating $250,000 to the ACLU, and Iranian director Asghar Farhadi (foreign language nominee for “The Salesman”) issued a statement that he would not attend the ceremony. But Kimmel doesn’t see it as his job to stir up Hollywood’s liberal outrage. “I don’t think it will be very political,” he says of his monologue. “There will be some element of that to the show. A lot of it depends on what happens.” Similar to the Emmys, he has enlisted the 14 members of his writing staff to craft his opening number and other jokes. “It’s too early to write political jokes, because the things that are happening today will feel dated,” says McNearney, the “Kimmel” show’s other co-head writer, who watches from backstage, scribbling last-minute zingers on Post-it notes. “If Trump doesn’t want to be on the broadcast, he has to be on his best behavior in the days leading up to it.”

Variety grades past Oscar emcees

Chris Rock

He opened the show with a brilliant riff on #OscarSoWhite but faded after that.


He excelled at the Tonys, but the film crowd wasn’t on his side for his cheesy puns and magic tricks.


The best host of the last decade, Ellen quickly charmed the A-listers with her selfie and pizza.


He sullied the show by belting out an original song called “We Saw Your Boobs.”


Looking like they were on an awkward first date, they may go down in history as the worst ever.

One advantage in Kimmel’s corner is that he’s an avid movie-lover. He lists his appreciation for “La La Land” (even though he doesn’t like musicals), “Moonlight,” “Manchester by the Sea,” and “the movie with aliens” (that would be “Arrival”). He watches up to four a week, to prepare for quizzing celebrities on his late-night show. In the winter, Ryan Gosling taught him how to waltz, a moment that didn’t make his heart swoon like you’d expect. “I’m naturally kind of shy,” Kimmel says. “Even though I’m dancing with another man and you’d think it would be all laughs, there’s something about it that’s just a little weird. I’ve never had a dance lesson before.” He had Mel Gibson shave his beard on national TV while promoting “Hacksaw Ridge.” And he told Casey Affleck he was staunchly backing him in his awards campaign for “Manchester by the Sea” after learning which other actor almost had the role. “Whatever makes Matt Damon unhappy makes me happy,” Kimmel says about his pretend nemesis. “So yes, I’m still rooting for Casey.” Those personal relationships with celebrities could help him win over the room at the Oscars. “You want the audience to laugh,” Kimmel says. “If you get that, the people at home will as well.” Kimmel discovered the power of the big screen from a young age. As a kid in Las Vegas who grew up without cable TV, he spent every summer Tuesday at a 25-cent movie theater watching “Swiss Family Robinson” and “Peter Pan” (which he saw three times in a row in a single day). “My cousin Ann would drag a huge purse into the movie theater that was filled with burnt popcorn,” Kimmel remembers. “It would get confiscated about half the time. It was always a bummer when teenage ushers took our food away.” Kimmel has been cramming for the upcoming show by watching old Oscar telecasts to get into the rhythm, and he defends the honor of his idol David Letterman, who was panned for his disastrous 1995 duties. “I do know why Dave got flack,” he says. “It’s because Dave badmouthed his own performance the next day. If you were a fan of ‘Late Night With David Letterman,’ you enjoyed it.”

You want the audience to laugh. If you get that, the audience at home will as well.”

Jimmy Kimmel

The theme of this year’s show, according to the producers, is the evergreen celebration of movies. “When we’re not being earnest, we want to be funny,” De Luca says. There will also be sobbing during the tribute to all the actors who died. It’s been a particularly hard year, with the passing of Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher, Gene Wilder, Anton Yelchin and others. “One thing I can promise: This is going to be the greatest ‘In Memoriam’ in Oscar history,” Kimmel says. “Kudos to God’s booker, because he or she really scored this year.” Kimmel recorded a tribute to Mary Tyler Moore for his show in which he threw a knit cap in the air. But many of his younger Twitter followers didn’t get the reference, dissing his hair for looking ruffled. He handles his Twitter account himself, reading all of his own mentions, which could cause pain if there’s criticism for the Oscars. “For a while, people were accusing me of plucking my eyebrows, which I have never done in my life,” Kimmel says. “It starts to make you self-aware.” Kimmel has spent 14 years on late-night TV, working 70 grueling hours a week as a micromanager who tinkers with everything from his promos to his opening monologue, which he rewrites every afternoon. “I said to my wife the other day, ‘I did not get into comedy to look at Excel spreadsheets.” The landscape has changed dramatically since he started, with Stephen Colbert duking it out with Jimmy Fallon for the top spot, leaving Kimmel in perpetual third place. He has thought about retiring his show after his contract is up in 2019. “I want to go out on my own terms,” Kimmel says. “If we ever feel like we’re repeating ourselves, I think it’s a good indication that it’s time.” What would he do with his free days? He’s got some ideas. “I like to draw. I like to make sculptures. I’d like to write a book at some point. Doing the show every day doesn’t leave time for that.” And he laughs when asked if he’d consider more Oscars hosting. “I’m just going to focus on the one and see how it goes,” he says. “It’s funny, because part of the reason I was asked to do this is because the Emmys went well. If I do really well, I’m just going to have to do it again.”

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Written by variety.com

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