Robert De Niro turns 66 today. Sean Penn is turning 49. Controversial book publisher Judith Regan is 56. Yankees star Jorge Posada is turning 38. J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison are both turning 65 today. John McDonald, the restaurateur behind Lure Fishbar, Chinatown Brasserie, and the now-closed Lever House, is 41. Jonathan Franzen, the author of The Corrections, is 50. E! host Giuliana DePandi Rancic is 34. Nicola Kraus, the co-author of The Nanny Diaries, is 35. Hollywood exec Gail Berman is turning 53. Singer Belinda Carlisle is 51. Retired tennis player Jim Courier turns 39. Donnie Wahlberg is turning 40. Former Senator Norm Coleman is 60. And Rick Hilton, father of Paris and Nicky, turns 54 today.
Hollywood's savvy hustlers have struck again, with Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman convincing Yahoo and Microsoft to hire BermanBraun to produce a content portal for MSN and a contentpole for Yahoo called "Lunacy Report," according to sources cited by All Things Digital. For the ADD-affected with long term memory issues, former Yahoo CEO and Tom Cruise BFF Terry Semel hired Braun to shepherd in Yahoo's reign as a media company, followed by Braun taking the fall for much of Semel's own lunacy before Semel himself was ousted.
· The Venice Film Festival opening film—a WWII drama starring Keira Knightley called Atonement—was screened to mostly positive word of mouth, a triumph capped by fest organizers allowing star James McAvoy to have full access to the controls of the Ceremonial Wrecking Ball. [Variety]
· Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. are circling Chilled in Miami, a romcom about "a Miami businesswoman who's transferred to the sticks of Minnesota." Why do we have a feeling we'll be forced to watch this on a five-inch screen trapped in American Airlines rat-class? [Variety]
· We honestly thought Singing Bee's title as absolute worst show on TV was safe, but now we're not so sure: Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann is a go as an ABC midseason replacement, hosted by Nick Lachey's twinkle-toed brother, Drew. [Variety]
· BermanBraun, the petri dish result of combining toppled Paramount tyrant Gail Berman with former Yahoo-square-peg Lloyd Braun into a production company that sounds like a hand-blender, has hired a Yahoo exec to join them on their march to total media domination. [THR]
· Rejoice, Xbox Live subscribers: Family Guy episodes are merely a click away, with the added feature of being able to vaporize the annoying Griffin family with a variety of Gears of War weaponry at the end of every episode. [THR]
Nestled between today's Page Six items concerning a Diddy goon's seizure of a digital camera memory card that may have contained unauthorized images of their boss dancing with Sienna Miller and a discarded Trump trophy wife's endorsement of Hillary Clinton's presidential ambitions is this bizarre mash-note about Monday's news that recent Paramount pinkslip victim Gail Berman and Lloyd "All Media Mentions Of Me Must Include A Reference To My Role In Shepherding ABC Megasuccess Lost" Braun were joining forces to seize back control of their Hollywood fates:
· Studios aren't as horny as usual to pimp their event movies during the Super Bowl, preferring to spend their ad dollars on hit primetime shows instead of the year's biggest advertising orgy. But for those who change their minds, there's plenty of available space towards the end of the broadcast, when drunken football fans are less likely to pay attention to commercials. [Variety]
· More on the announcement of Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun's BermanBraun, which will either produce multimedia content or high-end kitchen appliances: leaking news about their venture forced them to come clean about their plans a few weeks early. [THR]
· Kiss finds yet another thing upon which to slap its name, planning a Kiss 4k comic book in which the band transforms from aging, whiteface-loving entrepreneurs into "world-protecting warrior spirits." [Variety]
· For reasons we might never understand, Paul Rudd consents to co-star with Seann William Scott in a comedy for Universal. [THR]
· Var invites charges of institutional anti-Sorkinism by pointing out that Studio 60 "retained less than half of its demo lead-in" in last night's Nielsen race. [Variety]
The LAT reports that recently ousted Paramount lieutenant Gail Berman is joining forces with long-ago ousted ABC executive Lloyd "I Totally Came Up With 'Lost' And All I Got Was This Lousy, Short-Lived Gig At Yahoo!" Braun to form the creatively named multimedia (TV/internet/movies/short-wave radio plays, if that's what the kids are into) production entity BermanBraun (or the slightly jazzier Berman/Braun, if you listen to Variety; really, the jaunty little slash makes all the difference). But before you start placing bets on where their new company will make its home, there are at least two destinations you can scratch off the list for obvious reasons:
To quickly review the grand mal seizures that rocked Paramount's executive ranks yesterday: Not only is Paramount Pictures president Gail Berman out (as is co-president of production Alli Shearmur), but after failing to reach terms with the guy from the Water Tower Cafe on a deal to replace Berman, studio emperor Brad Grey has decided to eliminate her position entirely, preferring a "label strategy" of organization, in which every Paramount employee will provide Grey with an in-person, ten-second update on his day's work at the close of business each evening. With all the upheaval in his moviemaking fiefdom yesterday, wizened Viacom corporate overlord Sumner Redstone took a moment to give Grey, whose job security has often been questioned during his tenure atop the 'Mount, an unequivocal vote of confidence following his personnel moves:
While we're still awaiting an official press release announcing president Gail Berman's departure from Paramount, Var has pulled the trigger on an ankling-invoking headline, citing "several studio insiders" who claim that Berman submitted her resignation around noon. An operative within Brad Grey's fortified Melrose lot walls tells us that chatterers think co-president of production Brad Weston will replace her, but we wouldn't be that surprised to discover that Grey, overwhelmed by the pressure of choosing a successor, wandered into the lot's Water Tower Cafe and offered the position to the guy making his banana-and-strawberry Smoothie.
· Gail BermanWatch:Var reads this morning's LAT story about Berman's imminent departure from Paramount and puts in some calls at the studio, getting a no comment and a promise that a statement about the situation is forthcoming. Meanwhile, the Reporter updates that "a source close to the executive" says Berman is negotiating a separation settlement. We're on pins and needles over here as we await the forwarding of a heartbreaking press release. [Variety, THR]
· Madonna's Maverick Films and HBO Films combine their resources to lock up the highly coveted, non-Johnny Knoxville part of the Jackass collective for the wacky firefighter comedy Hosed, in which we assume Steve-O and the gang do nothing but give each other firehose enemas and test the limits of their genitals' resistance to open flame. [THR]
· Paramount will sell its movies on iTunes. In a statement about their move to exploit the digital platform, studio boss Brad Grey made no comment on Gail Berman's reportedly imminent departure. [Variety]
· Fox House "easily trounced" (is there any other way?) L&O: Criminal Intent and the People's Choice Awards in the ratings last night, giving the network a nice win as it awaits next week's return of Nielsen juggernaut American Idol. [THR]
Today's LAT reports that Paramount Emperor Brad Grey and embattled lieutenant Gail Berman are expected to finally part ways this week, ending a partnership so doomed that early drafts of Grey's press release announcing the TV veteran's puzzling ascendency to his studio's presidency ended with the phrase, "I couldn't be more excited to welcome Gail into the Paramount family, and to eventually fire her long after it becomes apparent that this relationship just isn't working out, after an acceptable interval for saving face." The Times takes a look back at Berman's rocky tenure at the 'Mount, during which her "exclusionary, aloof and non-confrontational" boss made the classically passive-aggressive move of buying an entire movie studio rather than prod her about the slow progress of her development slate:
· Pity TV development executives, whose summer vacation plans are ruined by the current shift to year-round programming. [Variety]
· The festivities in honor of Paramount's We're Number Two! Week continue, as THR hoists once-embattled studio president Gail Berman on its shoulders and parades her around the Melrose lot to celebrate Nacho Libre's strong second-place opening. [THR]
· Today's opening of Click should serve as the John the Baptist for the twin blockbuster Christs that will deliver Hollywood unto summer box office salvation, Superman Returns and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. [Variety]
· THR's Up With Female Studio Execs Day also features a fine piece on how Stacey Snider is doing in her new gig at DreamWorks. [THR]
· New Line unambiguously declares its desire to be in the "rakish-but-charming bachelor finally opens up his heart and meets the woman of his dreams" business, signing up Matthew McConaughey's production company to a development deal and working to insert the actor into two of its pre-existing comedy vehicles. [Variety]
· The Most Uncomfortable Embrace of the Week Award was won going away by Paramount Classics/Vantage head John Lesher at the Nacho Libre premiere, who couldn't even be bothered to put down his cellphone, Mexican-wrestler-head-on-a-stick, and an unidentified piece of paper while awkwardly clenching Paramount president Gail Berman. A truly disappointing effort from the industry's onetime Master of Hugs.
· Celebrities: They just can't stop reproducing!
· Reuters will certainly be hearing from Scary Hollywood Lawyer Bert Fields about this highly inappropriate, suggestive headline: Tom Cruise to take the bullet train — all of it. Filthy, just filthy.
· Sharon Stone is better at getting naked than producing, according to grumpy Kids director Larry Clark.
· Angelina Jolie discovers that actually giving birth is much more frightening than just picking up a refugee at the orphan store.
Based on this morning's published reports about Stacey Snider's choice to leave Universal to become co-chair of DreamWorks, we think we have a pretty good idea of how Snider spent her agonizing weekend mulling the career decision demanded by Uni boss Ron Meyer before Monday. After a reflective, barefoot stroll on the beach in an oversized "Property of Universal Pictures" sweatshirt and much meaningful staring into the placid ocean, Snider returned home to sit in front of her vanity, alternating her gaze between the soft-focus picture of current beau Meyer tacked to her mirror and a gaudily framed photo of brawny Paramount emperor Brad Grey and DreamWorks hunk Steven Spielberg showing off their varsity football jackets, her wistful sighs occasionally drowning out the ticks of the noisy grandfather clock counting off the seconds until the arrival of her deadline. Then, of course, the cell phone rang and her lawyer let her know that Paramount played ball on her salary (apparently still a pay cut, but a reported $2.5-3 million base is nothing to sneeze at), and all barriers to leaping into Spielberg's big, strong arms were suddenly gone. Reports the LAT:
Today's LAT reports that Universal chair Stacey Snider, whose contract with the studio expires at the end of the year, has told boss Ron Meyer that she wants to play the field before possibly re-committing to him, and has given her lawyers the go-ahead to chat with Paramount about a new job. According to the Times, however, the job in question is not embattled, slow-starting president Gail Berman's (as pretty much everyone in the entertainment industry has been whispering for weeks now), but one to run DreamWorks. Paramount Emperor Brad Grey wouldn't discuss whether or not he's hot for Snider, but publicly defended Berman's job security:
Like a Civil War battlefield littered with corpses and moaning, limb-severed casualties, the smoke is still clearing from the events of Black Wednesday, a Paramount lot massacre that culminated in General Brad Grey rearing his steed onto its hind legs, triumphantly holding his sword aloft, and swearing the 'Mount shall rise again. Today, the NY Times interviews Grey, confronting the neophyte studio boss about his various war crimes (ex: firing 33-year distribution vet Wayne Lewellen a few days before Christmas), and industry rumors that Grey-appointment Gail Berman isn't working out:
· Variety does its best to sift through the continuing fallout from Paramount's DreamWorks acquisition. Paramount insiders deny that Brad Grey #2 Gail Berman's job is already at stake (despite the loud whisper of the moment that she might be axed and replaced by DW producer Walter Parkes, but shhhh, that's just a nasty rumor). And as for the problem of redundancy in jobs across DreamWorks and Paramount, "department heads from both studios were required to turn over names of employees in their division. The lists are being combed over to see which employee is a stronger candidate, the current Paramount employee or the DreamWorks staffer." After five minutes of dramatic head-scratching and thoughtful harumphing, the Paramount list will be run through a shredder and offices will be cleared to make way for the DW staffers. It's nonstop fun and excitement on the Melrose lot! [Variety]
· NBC will air a record 416 hours of Winter Olympics coverage across its many networks, meaning that you, the incredibly bored viewer, might not miss a single minute of people in spandex sliding down ice chutes in a dizzying variety of positions. [THR]
· Reclusive move star Julia Roberts considers returning to her long abandoned career to star opposite Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson's War, possibly for her Closer director Mike Nichols. If she's going to hand the twins over to a nanny to go back to work, she's not gonna fuck around. [Variety]
· With just weeks until shooting, the producers of the new, Daniel Craig-starring Bond remake Casino Royale are sleeping with actresses as fast as they can to find a new Bond Girl. [Variety]
· FX has already purchased the cable rights to 2006 summer blockbuster-to-be Superman Returns for a reported $17-25 million. guaranteeing the network first crack at cramming the Bulge of Steel onto the small screen. [Variety]