With its ratings in the toilet and prime time roster trashed by the failed Jay Leno experiment, the upcoming television season is make-or-break for NBC. Based on the trailers for the shows it has coming up, is there any hope?
Bill Murray turns 59 today. Director Ethan Coen is turning 52. Stephen King is 62. Luke Wilson is turning 38. Jane Rosenthal, the film producer and co-creator of the Tribeca Film Festival, turns 53. Movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer is 64. Nicole Richie is turning 28. Natural History Museum president Ellen Futter turns 60. Book publisher Geoff Kloske is 40. J. Darius Bikoff, the man who introduced the world to VitaminWater, is turning 48. Cheryl Hines is 44. Country star Faith Hill is turning 42. Ricki Lake is 41. Actress Maggie Grace is turning 26. Actor Rob Morrow turns 47. And Dave Coulier, the comedian best known for playing Joey on Full House, is 50 today.
Bethenny Frankel has been doing her best to remain in the spotlight as she continues her quest to get people to buy her diet book, which we haven't read, of course, but sounds like a recipe for certain death considering it suggests eating less than 1,000 calories a day and never eating more than three bites of any one dish. Last week, she drummed up some attention by classily lifting up her dress for the cameras at a book party. She's hit up half a dozen events this week, stopping off at IFC's "America's Hottest Rocker Mom Contest" today (fitting since while she isn't a mom, she isn't a housewife either), and, last night, a party for Frangelico at STK. New York caught up with her at yesterday's party and asked her to recount a "scandalous story about herself from back in the day," a request she was happy to comply with, especially since those Jersey girls have kind of upped the ante with their tales of coke-snorting and stripping in recent days:
When those photos of Isla Fisher dressed up in ridiculous outfits as shopaholic Becky Bloomwood started floating around early last summer, it didn't seem as if Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer of the Confessions of a Shopaholic movie, was taking much of a risk with his frothy, comic chick flick. How was he to know that just six months later, reckless spending and drowning in debt would be a horribly sore subject?
· Helen Mirren will trade in her two-piece for a gun in The Debt, a remake of an Israeli hit about a Mossad agent who comes out of retirement to track down a war criminal. [Variety] · TNT fell for the old "Buy a Bruckheimer, Get a Wahlberg For Free" trick, not realizing it negotiated for Donnie's new Boston cop procedural Bunker Hill. Gotta read those contracts, gang. [THR] After the jump: Salma Hayek storms Fox, Jeff Zucker reassures nobody, Earl's preem crashes.· Completely over the success of Ugly Betty, executive producer Salma Hayek's budding media empire will next overtake Fox with the multiethnic family comedy The New McToms. [THR] · At an exec powwow in London on Thursday, noted NBCU economist Jeff Zucker insisted that his network's value to GE "only increases if there is less coming from the financial divisions." And the Olympics? "We measure success in ways that are far greater than the bottom line." Indeed, this man has all the answers. [THR] · And not to pile on, but last night's My Name is Earl and ER premieres were down 29% and 20%, respectively, from last year's bows. But that's OK — maybe NBC doesn't measure success that way, either. [The Live Feed] · Director Gary Fleder has reupped with ABC to helm every episode of every ABC series produced through the end of time. Or television, whichever comes first. [Variety]
A stunning development could herald the return of one of the greatest way-above-the-title pairings in Hollywood history: that of superproducing entity Jerry Bruckheimer and überdirecting force Michael Bay, the former the explosion-loving ying to the latter's blowing-shit-up-obsessed yang. The pair's creative partnership resulted, of course, in some of the most beloved, absolutely-terrible blockbusters of the mid 1990s—but what project could satisfy their shared need for one mushroom-cloud-detonation per page and a stream of ham-fisted catchphrases that can only be fully appreciated when delivered by Nicolas Cage?
Seeing as contemporary genre godmother Nora Ephron wouldn't be interviewed for today's taxonomy of chick flicks in the New York Times, we didn't know how or even if author Michael Cieply could compensate for the vast accompanying vacuum of perspective. But after a few moments considering the revisionist dynamics of forthcoming films like Ephron's Julie & Julia and Confessions of a Shopaholic — both evidently appealing to younger male viewership — we suddenly knew there was only one capable replacement worth getting on record. And it has a Y chromosome:
· The 2008 box office year has been "solid rather than spectacular," failing to yet produce the kind of runaway, $200 million-earning blockbuster that 300 did for the first quarter of 2007. You want a hit? Turn South Heavy Metal Park into a feature. [Variety]
· Dennis Quaid and approximately two dozen other stars sign up for Legion: On the eve of Apocalypse, a "group of strangers...must deliver a baby they realize is Christ in his second coming." Or as it was pitched in the room, "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World meets Children of Men!" [Variety]
· Superproducer Jerry Bruckheimer has reteamed with his Pirates of the Caribbean writers Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio for a take on The Lone Ranger for Disney that promises to be as overbloated, over-CGId, and overly fucking confusing as their last outings. (Tonto's half-squid.) [THR]
MTV Networks has signed an exclusive deal with blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer to develop original videogame titles for MTV Games. MTV's parent, Viacom, has aimed for success in the video game industry with a commitment to spend $500 million on game and interactive entertainment within the next two years, but past attempts to break into the gaming world have been unsuccessful thus far. Unlike the purchase of game developer Harmonix, the makers of "Rock Band," a good fit for MTV, a deal with Bruckheimer is full of all the wrong kinds of risk.
Despite having earned untold millions from his incredibly successful superproducing career, won an Oscar for his shepherding of a buddy comedy (with heart!) about a math-loving schizophrenic and his favorite imaginary friend, and having recently dragged a troubled, $100 million passion project out of development hell and into a lucrative box office run all by himself, Imagine's Brian Grazer is still tormented by feelings of Hollywood inadequacy. In today's NY Times, Grazer, his signature hair-spikes seemingly wilting with each anguished word, laments that for all of his show business accomplishments, his name is still relatively unknown by the middle-American moviegoers to whom he delivers Russell Crowe-starring cinematic delights every couple of years:
· Hollywood Out of Ideas, Tiny People Injected Into the Sickly Body Of Originality Edition: Roland Emmerich will direct a remake of Fantastic Voyage for 20th Century Fox. [Variety]
· Production has temporarily stopped on 24 so that the hit show's writers have enough time to adequately dramatize every apocalyptic scenario that would probably come to pass if a Hillary Clintonesque president ever assumed our highest office. [THR]
· Former Daily Show/Colbert Report EP Ben Karlin explains the just-announced, combined film/television deal he signed with a certain premium cable outlet: "When my reps asked me what I wanted to do next, I said firmly, 'not TV.' They said, 'HBO.' I had to admit, they had me there." [Variety]
· ABC's new NASCAR in Prime tanks its premiere, probably because the show clearly belongs on Fox. [THR]
· Jerry Bruckheimer informs CBS that it must buy his drama pilot about a "globetrotting team of freelance treasure hunters" or he will withdraw every one of the 45 weekly hours of programming he generates for them; the network, of course, happily complies, remarking about how much they always wanted a more expensive, scripted version of The Amazing Race. [Variety]
PrivacyWatch celebrity sightings are submitted by our readers, and are posted several times a week, so send them in often. Submit yours to tips[AT]defamer.com (please put "sighting" or "PrivacyWatch" in the subject line so we don't lose them) and tell everyone about the time Winona Ryder graciously adopted the role of elevator-operator at the WeHo Target.
When the marketing team for Knocked Up conceived its cute Make-Your-Own-Bastard web game, they couldn't have foreseen the horrifying parental combinations that the Hurty Elbow blog would soon feed into it. We hope that when they come across the dead-eyed spawn resulting from the commingling of superproducers Brian Grazer and Jerry Bruckheimer or hacky directors Brett Ratner and Michael Bay, they realize that their once-fun project has been hopelessly corrupted and destroy the infernal apparatus that produced such abominations.
Given that the first two Spider-Man movies made Sony about $1.6 billion at the worldwide box office, it probably surprises no one to learn that the studio's relentless pursuit of another huge summer run may have resulted in the third installment becoming The Most! Expensive! Movie! Ever! Made! Still, even if the $350 million number (throw in marketing and promotion and we're at half a billion) passed along in Kim Masters' Radar story on Spider-Man 3's historic, budget-busting run are, is claimed by a flack, a "complete fabrication," the real amount is still big enough to choke even its free-spending producer:
Sensing that audiences are bored by reality TV competitions in which the contestants vie to rise to the top of glamorous professions involving mundane, easily identifiable skillsets like cooking, sewing, or picking out furniture, the TV Guide channel is ready to push the genre's envelope by devoting 10 episodes to a televised deathmatch involving aspiring Hollywood assholes trying to establish who's best at the arcane producing arts of screaming into cellphones, haunting the craft services table, and consistently getting in the way of crew members trying to do their lower-paid, but more essential, jobs:
· Generally satisfied to produce movies that explore the lighter side of blowing shit up, Jerry Bruckheimer (and Disney) have acquired the movie rights to Mark Bowden's Atlantic Monthly terrorism article "Jihadists in Paradise," plunging Bruck into much darker explosion-related territory. [Variety]
· The team behind Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight continues to make impeccable casting decisions: after allowing Katie Holmes to "walk away" from reprising her character from Begins, they're close to signing up Aaron Eckhart to play Two Face. [THR]
· Al Gore will attempt to reverse global warming through a single day of simultaneous, worldwide rock concerts, a solution that climatologists have already dismissed as rooted more in the former Vice President's passion for the music of John Mayer than in proven science. [Variety]
· Various Fox entities (FX, 20th Century Fox TV, Fox Broadcasting) team up to shower Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy in cash for his showrunning/developing services. [Variety]
· Var thinks that Fox News Channel's right-wing Daily Show knockoff The 1/2 Hour News Hour feels like something "enterprising high-school kids with a video camera could replicate." [Variety]
NBC demonstrates its ongoing commitment to struggling, behind-the-scenes- at-sketch-comedy-show programming, picking up 30 Rock for a full season after last night's ratings spike. [Variety]
The Office's John Krasinski join George Clooney in the romantic comedy Leatherheads, in which the two stars try to convince audiences that Renee Zellweger is sexually desirable enough to fight over. [THR]
Columbia and Scott Rudin acquire the screen rights to a still-unpublished "new take" on Cleopatra by biographer Stacy Schiff and producer Scott Rudin. Even though the book centers on Cleopatra as a "a firm ruler and military tactician" rather than as a sexbomb seductress, we wouldn't be surprised if the studio quickly determines that Angelina Jolie is "firm rulerish and tactician-y enough" to send out a big offer. [Variety]
Grey's Anatomy leads ABC to a Thursday night ratings win against the token resistance of CBS's CSI rerun. In other news, no one is watching The OC anymore. [THR]
· The Producers Guild will give Jerry Bruckheimer their Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television, celebrating the superproducer's unparalleled ability to land procedural after procedural on CBS's primetime schedule. [Variety]