Yesterday was Sienna Miller's birthday, and now it's Jude Law's turn: The actor, playboy, and NYU foe turns 37 today. Actress Mary Tyler Moore is turning 73. Ted Danson is 62. Paramount chief Brad Grey is 52. Actress Patricia Clarkson is 50. Matrix director/writer Andy Wachowski is 42. Cable news staple Ashleigh Banfield is also turning 42. Real estate marketer Michael Shvo is turning 37. Writer Paul Rudnick turns 52. Mekhi Phifer is 35. Singer Marianne Faithfull is 63. And actor (and father of Angelina) Jon Voight turns 71 today.
It was more than year and a half ago that Paramount chief Brad Grey was served with divorce papers by his wife of 25 years, Jill Grey. The case finally wrapped up last week when the two sides reached a settlement. Just how much Jill walked away with wasn't disclosed in the court docs. Judging by her signature, though, it's safe to assume she did just fine. [TMZ]
• Paramount chief Brad Grey has renewed his contract for 5 more years. [NYT]
• Meredith Corp. is shutting down Country Home magazine. [MW]
• The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet is ending this summer. [NYT]
• Barnes & Noble reports sales dropped off in 2008, not surprisingly. [WSJ]
• CBS slashed its Tel Aviv bureau just before war erupted in Gaza. [NYO]
• Oprah's weight-gain confessional scored big ratings for Monday's show. [NYP]
Hollywood PrivacyWatch: Moguls Jogging Edition! 11/5 — As I was taking my 'shortcut' on Carmelita to bypass the traffic jam that is SMB in Beverly Hills on my way to Santa Monica, I saw a handsome but SHORT older guy in… ahem… gray shorts and gray shirt, running with a taller, younger bald man whose biceps and pecs let me know he was definitely a trainer. And who is in all of the neck to thigh gray but BRAD GREY. I've always thought of him as handsome in a baby-faced daddy way, and well, now I know he is. He was sweaty, sure, but that's a good thing! [Hollywood PrivacyWatch is written by and for Defamer readers; send your sightings to email@example.com.]
Today's Hollywood Reporter points out "rare public evidence" of a looming crisis we first told you about seven months ago: Melrose I, hedge-fund financing that helped pay for a raft of underachieving Paramount films dating back to 2004, saw its investment grade plunge six notches recently in an assessment by Moody's Investor Service. It was bad enough at the time for the money men to threaten Brad Grey with court — and even if the lawsuit never came, the day of reckoning did.The shift guarantees that everyone from senior debtholders at Merrill Lynch to smaller equity backers around Wall Street are locks to lose on the $231 million slate financing deal. As recently as March, the investors were rumored to be considering suing the 'Mount and its free-spending chief Grey after the dramatic underperformance of The Stepford Wives, Alfie and other films partially underwritten by Melrose (the funders signed on during the Sherry Lansing/Jim Dolgen regime but had no say where their money went once they were gone). Viacom CEO Phillippe Dauman himself intervened, we hear, and based on renegotiated terms for Melrose Partners' second round of financing (and Grey's belt-tightening), the mutiny was defused. For now.
A tender postmortem in today's New York Times reminds the world yet again that seriously — like, really, this time — David Geffen is leaving DreamWorks. Having shepherded the monolith through the Hollywood establishment from conception to its first marriage (and divorce) before giving the frazzled bride away a second time in an arranged marriage to its dashing Indian suitor, Geffen's tenure is remembered fondly by his 'Works co-founders Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg. Not that they'll admit to knowing what they're doing without him.Such modesty! To a point, anyway: If and/or when his Reliance Big Entertainment honeymoon ever tapers off, Spielberg and DreamWorks president Stacey Snider really won't have the Geffen touch to help woo another international conglomerate into bed. But by then Spielberg, 62, will probably be ready to scale back anyway, and survival will be less about braintrust than brand (and the library it manages to develop with its new distribution partners at Universal). He shouldn't even be there now, if one of his more illuminating disclosures today is to be believed:
For every blockbuster this summer with Paramount's name attached — from Iron Man to Indy 4 to Kung Fu Panda — there's been a looming crisis to greet it at the studio gate. The latest wake-up call comes from Deutsche Bank, from whom we're learning the 'Mount split recently after the the studio balked at the conditions of a $450 million financing deal. This follows word that unhappy Wall Streeters wanted free-spender Brad Grey's head and that DreamWorks' Indian-funded defection was imminent. Mix The Love Guru in just for fun, and it's enough to almost make you forget Paramount is supposedly on a roll.
Despite the defiant source who today told the LA Times the DreamWorks/Reliance deal could yet fall apart, we think we'll just go about retrofitting our office anyway in preparation for the worst. Like "custody battle" worst, as Claudia Eller mentions in parsing the 'Works divorce from Viacom/Paramount: Who gets Ben Stiller? Who gets Eddie Murphy? Who gets the retiring David Geffen's parking space and the office's unparalleled catalog of faxable lunch menus? And who gets the movies?
The Tom Cruise Image Rehabilitation Tour rolls on today with a public pardon from Viacom kingpin Sumner Redstone, who followed his prodigal son's subdued Oprah stint with a reassurance that, you know, all that erratic-behavior outrage from a couple years back? Just kidding! And Mission: Impossible 4? It's "up to Brad Grey." Or, loosely translated, "Are we on number four? Already? Well, I'll be":
While most of us fled the office to enjoy early spring, Sumner Redstone spent another relaxing weekend watching his corporate children at Viacom gouge each others' eyes out. And this time around he got his money's worth, with Paramount finally breaking free from CBS/Showtime to start its own pay-cable and VOD service with MGM and Lionsgate. It's an untidy, somewhat shocking scenario that we (and seemingly the rest of the Web) can't yet make sense of, but join us after the jump to parse the winners and losers at a glance.
CBS honcho Les Moonves had a week from hell. It started with a Times highlighting how his salary keeps going up while revenues at his beleaguered company keep going down. Then he had to answer to news department staff about leaks that made Katie Couric look like a lame duck in the anchor chair at CBS Evening News. Now he's said by Nikki Finke's sources to be "royally screwed" after fumbling negotiations with Viacom, a sibling company in the Sumner Redstone media empire. Moonves had been trying to cut the amount CBS' Showtime was paying for Paramount movies, but Paramount said "screw this" and decided to form its own cable channel along with studios MGM and Lionsgate. Here's why the whole situation is especially awkward, according to the Times:
It's been nearly six months since CompletelyImmaterialGate rocked the industry, and no amount of conciliatory gestures has yet managed to heal the wounds inflicted by Viacom CEO Phillippe Dauman's callous verbal flip-off of national directing treasure Steven Spielberg. With the expiration date on the frequently uncomfortable arranged marriage between Viacom-owned Paramount and DreamWorks nearing, the NY Times takes a hard look at the pretzled logistics of what becomes two powerhouse studios going their separate ways:
While we're generally for keeping all-around courtroom bore Brad Grey out of Hollywood's legal spotlight in the future, a source tells Defamer that the Paramount boss and his Viacom overlords could face mutiny from hedge-funders unhappy with the way their studio investment is shaking out. Specifically, we hear the money men behind Melrose Partners — which joined the 'Mount in 2004 under the Sherry Lansing/Jonathan Dolgen regime — may take legal action challenging the underperformance of its $231 million equity fund after Grey came aboard in early 2005.
There was little that could have come from Brad Grey's testimony at the Anthony Pellicano trial today that would have matched the sensationalism of the last bombshell to emerge from this ongoing saga of backdoor Hollywood intrigue—i.e., the Chris Rock: Accused Rapist tapes. Still, there was plenty of opportunity for another Moment, the diminutive studio emperor having a sizable axe to grind with Garry Shandling, who pulled no punches on the stand in a brutally frank testimony against his former manager. (It would surely have included some waterworks had the Larry Sanders Show star not years ago had his face pulled tighter than a conga drum, effectively sealing every one of his above-the-neck mucus membranes tighter than Tutankhamen's tomb.) As it turns out, Grey did not use the opportunity to take some public jabs at his nemesis, instead delivering straightforward statements relieving himself of all knowledge of Pellicano's shadowy surveillance methods:
If the old adage about the lawyer who represents himself having a fool for a client is true, then Anthony Pellicano's cross-examination today of Garry Shandling at his own trial (Underwhelming Hollywood with Nothing of Juicy Significance Since 2002™) was like the Comedy Store main room. When asked by the court what he does for a living, Deadline Hollywood Daily reports, Shandling responded, "That's a bad sign. I'm a comedian." To which the judge responded, "Not to me you're not." (To which the entire jury snapped in unison and remarked, "Ooooooh girl.") Shandling was there in connection with a long-running feud with onetime manager Brad Grey over lost earnings from his The Larry Sanders Show deal, during which Scary Hollywood Lawyer Bert Fields, a regular subscriber to Pellicano's eavesdropping services, allegedly used the P.I. to tap Shandling's calls. From DHD's courtroom report:
If Harry Knowles's ecstatic, Greatest Single Experience of All Time Including My First Breath, First Kiss, and the First Time I Tasted Cherry Garcia review of Cloverfield wasn't enough to get you excited about Paramount's latest release, perhaps we can tempt you with this headless Statue of Liberty replica currently erected on their lot.
Fulfilling the prophecy foretold by octogenarian gossip-oracle Liz Smith in the entrail-reading that yielded her June 2007 item on the couple's trial separation, Paramount's Brad Grey has been served with divorce papers by his wife of 25 years; with the filing, the studio boss now moves one step closer to completing the mandatory Hollywood rite of passage represented by the dissolution of a power-player's first marriage. [CelebTV.com]