New Line's Survivor Party: We regret overlooking this story Tuesday afternoon, but the news that New Line plans its annual summer party despite pink-slipping its founders (and more than 500 other staffers) in April can't really get old, can it? Especially not with the party coming up tomorrow night at SkyBar of all places — a $35,000 fete for 45 people, according to Nikki Finke, with whom "studio insiders" debate the figure and argue that "[e]ven in the worst years New Line always had that party. ... Toby [Emmerich] felt like the summer party is part of New Line's DNA and to change that is a mistake." OK, but this is the last time: Expect Warner Bros. to absorb the party planning and invitation distribution duties in 2009, only to push the event back to 2010 when its other parties that year threaten to underperform. [DHD]
After the unfortunate reception for The Love Guru, it's just too easy to write off New Line's prospective Austin Powers revival (which Mike Myers is reportedly working on for New Line with former series collaborator Mike McCullers) as yet another ill-advised folly belching the black smoke of Myers's career. In fact, taken as merely a part of the larger phenomenon we at Defamer like to call The End of Ideas, the Powers franchise is but a speck of the shit on Hollywood's collective bathroom wall — a tableau diligently studied today by the haz-mat crew at Entertainment Weekly.
· Mad Men's second season opened to a strong start for AMC, pulling in 1.9 million aspiring womanizers and the pregnant secretaries who love them. [Variety] · The Venice Film Festival announced its slate, which will include world premieres of Darren Aronofsky’s The Wrestler, Jonathan Demme’s Rachel Getting Married, Kathryn Bigelow’s Hurt Locker, and the Coens's Burn After Reading. [Variety] · Deposed New Line potentates Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne's first post-studio-snuffing project will be an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's sci-fi epic Foundations for Warner Bros. The duo have an eye on adapting the book's sequels into a Lord of the Rings-style franchise, with Andy Serkis playing Andromeda, a kindly robot, and the speed of light. [THR] · CBS is developing a pilot for updated version of The Streets of San Francisco. We humbly request they retain those cool diagonal stripe-wipes from the title sequence. Those rock! [THR] · Mutinous SAG splinter-group Unite for Strength agrees with the current leadership that the AMPTP's offer is unacceptable, but differs strongly in other areas, such as where they'd like to order in lunch. (Koo Koo Roo, vs. the Alan Rosenberg-championed Chin Chin.) [Variety]
The universe is piling on Warner Bros. today, with the studio bracing itself for its second straight summer misfire while the output from its recently euthanized offshoots New Line and Picturehouse achieved phenomenal successes in consecutive weeks. But NL's opening windfall for Sex and the City and Picturehouse's $27K-per-screen average last weekend for Mongol — the biggest art-house launch of the year to date — might not have anything on the 'House's toy-based, girly-girl follow-up, reports The NY Times:
As first foreseen here last week, bad news rolled into Picturehouse HQ today in the form of a batch of pink slips. Warner Bros, is shuttering the art-house/indie/foreign distribution arm in the wake of its belt-tightening at Picturehouse's parent company New Line; we're a little more surprised, however, to read that Warners is also closing shop at Warner Independent Pictures. We knew Jeff Robinov and Alan Horn were unhappy with the boutique business, but Jesus. Picturehouse chief Bob Berney and WIP boss Polly Cohen, tagged for a possible (if implausible) power-sharing arrangement as recently as last week, are both being shown the door, as are both offices' staffs in New York and Los Angeles. We'll be following up later with word on that rumored independent venture of Berney's, but in the meantime, the full press release from Warner Bros. follows after the jump.
A few notes kicked under the door at Defamer HQ hint that the end may be near for Picturehouse, the Oscar-winning art house shingle plunged into limbo in February after its parent company New Line was absorbed by the Warner Bros. mothership. We have yet to hear where company president Bob Berney will wind up, though a popular rumor has him sharing power at Warners' other struggling boutique outpost, Warner Independent Pictures, with current WIP boss Polly Cohen. We posit at least one more underdog alternative as well — plus a prognosis for the remaining Picturehouse output — after the jump.
For what seems like an entire century, ladies and ladyboys have been anxiously awaiting the release of the ultimate "chick flick," Sex And The City: The Movie (have we mentioned how godawful that title is by the way?). In any case, yesterday we had the privilege of seeing the final one-sheet for the film which is set to open next month. And almost immediately, we began griping about it (annoyingly, just the way Carrie Bradshaw whined over her column's bus ad during the first season). After the jump, we discuss all the various problems with this image, from that dress to that font to, well, almost everything, boiled down into three primary points:
Sad news to report. The rumors that we heard earlier this afternoon about impending layoffs at The House That Freddy Built have come to fruition. Variety is reporting that Time Warner is pinkslipping 450 New Line staffers, a number that equates to nearly 90% of their current payroll, as the newly scaled-down shingle merges into the larger Warner Bros fold. The worst part? Although notifications of the dismissals began earlier this afternoon, they won't be completed until tomorrow, which means that a number of employees will be spending the evening unsure as to whether or not they'll even have a job at this time tomorrow. Synergy just ain't what it used to be. If you hear or see anything else (memos, etc.), please send 'em our way. [Variety]
A tip into Defamer HQ suggests that today may be the last for the majority of remaining employees at New Line Cinema, the Time Warner subsidiary that has spent the last month transitioning from a stand-alone operation to a genre cog in the Warner Bros. machine. The speculation trickled down a little bit ago from a few private industry message boards; it would be the culmination of news expected since co-founders Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne made their own departures public Feb. 28. Production head Toby Emmerich surprised most observers last month by staying on as president and COO, but he's in the minority likely to stay on as the labels consolidate. Let us know if you've heard the same — you know where to find us.
The first New Line refugee has officially landed at MGM, where new president Mary Parent hired ex-NL development exec Cale Boyter to help iron out the resurgent studio's forthcoming production slate. The move signaled the latest hint that MGM chief operating officer Rick Sands — whose short-lived emphasis on library outsourcing and new media development was made essentially irrelevant by Parent's own recruitment two weeks ago — is himself looking for a new gig.
Even though the Warner Bros. ax has yet to fall around New Line headquarters and the Tolkien family still wants its cash for The Lord of the Rings saga, Sir Ian McKellen took to his blog (We know! We're as stunned as you are) Wednesday to confirm he's "keeping [his] diary open for 2009" to reprise his role as Gandalf in The Hobbit. But that's only the half of McKellen's big gay update, which also includes hot nose-tweaking action and yawning confirmations of his LOTR co-stars' heterosexuality:
With the recent absorption by tractor beam of sputtering starship New Line Cinema into the immense Warner Borg, the LAT takes a moment to reassess the legacy left behind by its founder, Bob Shaye. Shaye was the last of a dying breed of Honchos With Heart—lumbering, larger-than-life mogulsaurs, pounding their deep footprints into the early indie landscape, and scooping smaller talents into their gaping mandibles along the way. His only crime: that sometimes he cared too much:
This just in! Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, the heads of troubled™ studio New Line, having learned the hard way of what comes of placing too many eggs into flying-reptile and fighting-polar-bear baskets, have just issued an e-mail to all of their employees. In it, they announce with resignation that the plucky mid-sized studio is now "a unit" of faceless entertainment multiconglomerate Warner Bros. The Co-CEOs will also be stepping down, and with the New New Line being a "much smaller operation than in the past," we suspect many staffers will be doing the same, whether they want to or not. The full e-mail begins below, and continues after the jump.
Sure, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue spread showing Will Ferrell pawing at a bikini- clad Heidi Klum was a mildly titillating stab at selling the movie with skin, but we suppose the magazine's decency standards prevented New Line's marketing team from doing what they really needed to do to push Semi-Pro: strip Ferrell to his tube socks, blow out his thicket of chest hair, and hand him a genital-obscuring, ABA-regulation prop. Mercifully, basketball doesn't employ the kind of phallus-shaped equipment that might have tempted the studio to take the photo in a more tumescent direction.
Following up his memorable turn in the Super Bowl's multimillion dollar crossover ad "Jackie Moon Enjoys A Frosty, Colon-Clearing Bud Light," Will Ferrell has taken the campaign for Semi-Pro to the pages of Sports Illustrated's Swimsuit Issue, confident that he can raise awareness of his latest arrogant-dumb-guy sports comedy by fondling a scantily clad Heidi Klum while wearing a variety of amusing 70s-era costumes.
Everybody's Suing Everybody Day continues! Accusing New Line of employing the kind of "Hollywood accounting" practices that could secret billions of dollars of Lord of the Rings revenues in suspicious budget lines like "Hair/Make-up Hobbitscaping Services," "Elijah Wood Eye-Desparkling Effects," and "Hide all profits here! Sssssh!," representatives from J.R.R. Tolkein's charitable trust and the author's heirs have filed suit against the studio, looking to be paid their claimed $150 million share of the LOTR bounty: "I think that it's going to be extremely interesting to see how New Line is going to explain to a jury that these films grossed $6 billion and yet by their calculations the creators' heirs are not going to get even a single penny." Given that New Line was rumored to have paid previous profit-seeker Peter Jackson a $40 million settlement to keep their two The Hobbit films on track, Tolkien's heirs can probably convince the company to comb through their allegedly cooked books to shake loose eight-figures' worth of make-nice money before things devolve into ugliness. [NY Times]
Continuing his obsessive quest to take the finest slasher films the 1970s and 80s had to offer and update them for an ADD-addled teen audience eager to see the stars of their favorite The CW melodramas eviscerated in a budget-conscious fashion on their local multiplex's big screen, leading Hollywood re-envisionary Michael Bay has convinced New Line to allow him to run the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise through his Platinum Dunes dream-despoiling factory.
Having recently buried the $40 million hatchet with Peter Jackson to bring to an end that ugly feud over Lord of the Rings profits, New Line (and partner MGM) can now turn its attention to the crucial matter of finding a suitable director (Jackson, as you surely remember, is executive producing) for its two planned Hobbit movies, knowing that making a hasty, ill-considered choice could, as THR notes, "put billions of dollars at stake...and could turn off an audience that encompasses millions of passionate readers, Tolkien fans and obsessive geeks."