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Video – Sneak Peek of Twilight ‘Eclipse’

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment
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Over 3 Million Viewers Sign Up for HBO’s ‘The Pacific’

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment


About 3.1 million people signed up for the Sunday night premiere episode of HBO's expensive World War II epic, "The Pacific," according to Nielsen.

HBO, which spent around $200 million making the 10-part miniseries and millions more on hype, said the audience for the debut was 22% higher than the premiere of its last big miniseries, "John Adams." The pay cable channel has been heavily promoting the Steven Spielberg- and Tom Hanks-produced event and even took the unusual step of offering the first episode for free on DirecTV as well as on its own website and on Fancast. 

For those curious as to how "The Pacific" stacks up against "Band of Brothers," HBO's first big World War II miniseries from Spielberg and Hanks, which premiered in September 2001, comparisons are more difficult. That's because at that time Nielsen did not measure HBO's individual channels, but rather combined the audience for all of HBO's channels into one number.

Having said that, it seems safe to say that "Band of Brothers" had a bigger audience in its debut. HBO had 10 million viewers that night, and it seems hard to swallow that 7 million of them were actually watching old movies on HBO's various sister channels. 

However, the way people watch television has changed dramatically since 2001 and comparing ratings for individual episodes from these two eras may be stretch. Besides general media fragmentation and a growth of viewing options both on television and online, there was no HBO On Demand then, and the digital video recorder was still a dream. TV shows didn't show up on DVD until months after their premiere. In other words, there was more of a must-see approach to viewing television then.

Ratings for other HBO shows back this up. Last season, a typical episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" averaged 1.5 million viewers in its Sunday night run, but when on-demand and DVR and second runs are factored in, that number grew to almost 6 million. In the case of "True Blood," the Sunday night episodes average about 5 million viewers, but when all other viewing options are factored in, that number jumps to over 12 million. HBO insiders are betting on a similar trend for "The Pacific."

Of course, because HBO doesn't sell advertising, it always stresses that ratings are not its main consideration in determining the success of a program. Instead, HBO banks on maintaining its reputation for high-quality programming you can't get elsewhere, building its subscriber base and developing ancillary revenue streams. "Band of Brothers" sold about $250 million worth of DVDs. Still, one needs compelling programming to keep those revenue streams flowing.

HBO has already sold "Band of Brothers" abroad and will likely sell "The Pacific" here to a basic cable network after its run on the pay channel is done. The History Channel bought "Band of Brothers," and it scored 4.6 million viewers when it made its debut there in 2004.

— Joe Flint

Photo: A scene from HBO's "The Pacific." Credit: David James / HBO

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Fox Broadcasting Negotiating With Conan O’Brien

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Fox Broadcasting is inching closer to bringing Conan O’Brien back to late night television.


Key Fox executives, including Rupert Murdoch, are on board with the plan and would like to finalize a deal in coming weeks so they can make a splash on May 17 when the network unveils its new fall lineup for advertisers in New York.

Several significant issues remain, and the Fox talks could fall apart, according to people close to the negotiations who asked not to be identified because the discussions were meant to be private.

But people close to O’Brien are cautiously optimistic.

“We’ll get there,” one of them said Tuesday.

Fox executives have been huddling to figure out how much it will cost to mount a late-night talk show that would be profitable for Fox stations and affiliates. Stations, hammered by the advertising recession, rely on the profits generated by syndicated reruns such as “The Simpsons” and “The Office,” and it’s unclear how many stations would be willing to substitute those shows for a risky venture — even one starring a big-name host.

But Fox realizes that if it ever wants to get into the late-night game, this is the time. The network, owned by Murdoch’s News Corp., has had its eye on entering the late-night talk-show wars for years.

Indeed, it was Fox’s overtures to O’Brien nine years ago that prompted NBC’s Jeff Zucker in 2004 to promise O’Brien the “Tonight Show” in order to keep him at the peacock network. Zucker’s plan famously unraveled when longtime host Jay Leno decided that he wasn’t ready to retire.

Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly and Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice have been leading the campaign to bring O’Brien to Fox, according to knowledgeable sources. But their bosses have told them to demonstrate that a late-night show would be financially viable. A breakthrough came last week during meetings in New York, when they outlined a late-night scenario that one executive described as “a deal that we could live with.”

It hasn’t been decided whether the show would launch in the fall or January. Meanwhile, O'Brien's camp is weighing whether they can pull off a high-quality network show with the smaller budget — or if they should roll the dice and shift to cable. 

— Meg James

Photo: Conan O'Brien. Credit: Evan Agostini/Associated Press.

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Funeral for Actor Corey Haim is Held in Toronto

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment
March 16, 2010 |  1:46 pm

Haim funeral

About 200 mourners — including family, friends and fans — filled Steeles Memorial Chapel in Toronto on Tuesday for the funeral of actor Corey Haim, who died Wednesday at age 38. 

Haim starred most famously in the 1980s hits “Lucas” and “The Lost Boys” and was more recently seen in a short-lived A&E reality series “The Two Coreys,” with longtime cohort Corey Feldman.

“I think I’m his No. 1 fan,” Jennifer Matton, 35, told the Toronto Star. “I’ve loved him since I was 13. I’ve never done anything like this before, but when I found out he died, I was very sad.” The Star reported that Matton, a nurse, had driven eight hours from Philadelphia for the funeral.

Also Wednesday, the 911 call Judy Haim placed early Wednesday upon finding her son, who was not breathing, was released.

Feldman, who appeared on “Larry King Live” in the wake of his costar’s death to chastise the Hollywood community for exploiting and then abandoning Haim, did not attend the funeral, saying instead …

… that he’d be at home mourning and organizing a memorial service to be held in L.A.

“The family has decided to make Corey’s funeral on Tuesday a small private affair,” Feldman said in a statement. “Understanding the recent media attention and to be respectful of the family’s wishes I have decided not to attend. Instead I will remain in Los Angeles quietly mourning and planning his memorial.” In the statement, he also mentioned the family’s “strong religious beliefs” and urged the media to stay away from the Toronto funeral, inviting coverage instead at his own event.

Maytal Kotler, Feldman’s second cousin, said the service was “very sad but with a lot of laughter.” Messages offering condolences were posted on the chapel’s website Tuesday. 

Family friend Michael Kronick, who runs a celebrity memorabilia company, donated money to help pay for the funeral; reports that the city of Toronto would be helping with costs were inaccurate. Haim’s personal items were also sold on eBay to raise money.

Despite reports of preliminary autopsy results released to Judy Haim, the cause of the actor’s death has not been confirmed yet by the Los Angeles coroners office. Last Friday, Corey Haim was linked to an investigation of a ring allegedly distributing fraudulent drug prescriptions.

— Christie D’Zurilla

Photo: The casket of Canadian-born actor Corey Haim is carried to a waiting hearse following his funeral in Toronto on March 16, 2010. Credit: Chris Young / The Canadian Press / Associated Press.

Related dispatches from or presented by the Ministry of Gossip:

Corey Haim’s personal items being sold on EBay

License to Cry: Why Corey Haim’s death matters (sort of)

Corey Feldman on ‘Larry King Live’: Corey Haim and the pitfalls of Hollywood

PREACH IT! Feldman and other celeb friends mourn Corey Haim, dead at 38

Want the headlines? Follow the Ministry of Gossip on Twitter (we’re @LATcelebs) or become a fan on Facebook at

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SXSW 2010: ‘Tiny Furniture’ The Big Winner in Austin

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment



The South by Southwest Film Festival jury has handed “Tiny Furniture,” Lena Dunham’s story about the  listless post-graduation life of a woman in her 20s, its narrative feature prize and also given Dunham its breakout award of “emergent narrative woman director.”

“Tiny Furniture,” in which Dunham also stars, has the main character walking a minefield of self-esteem issues and romantic complications in her post-college years. The crisply shot film costars Dunham’s real-life mother and sister and was shot largely in their family’s New York City apartment.

The festival on Tuesday also awarded a special jury prize for best ensemble to “Myth of the American Sleepover,” directed by David Robert Mitchell, with an award for individual performance going to Brian Hasenfus for his role in Garth Donovan’s “Phillip the Fossil.”

Jeff Malmberg’s “Marwencol” won the documentary feature prize at the festival, with a runner-up award  handed to “War Don Don,” directed by Rebecca Richman Cohen. Audience prizes were given to the documentary “For Once in My Life,” directed by Jeff Bingham and Mark Moormann, and the narrative feature “Brotherhood,” directed by Will Canon.

With her modern-day, Elaine May-esque mix of anxiety, humor and insight, Dunham grew this year into just the kind of fresh voice SXSW seems designed to spotlight. The prize for “Tiny Furniture” was also validation for the self-nurturing system of SXSW; Dunham met many of her key collaborators on the project while attending the festival with her film “Creative Nonfiction” last year.

“Marwencol” tells the story of Mark Hogancamp, an upstate New York man who suffers debilitating brain damage after a bar fight. As a means of physical and emotional therapy, he creates an intricately detailed scale of a WWII-era Belgian town in his backyard. As the world of the miniature town takes on a life of its own in Hogancamp’s imagination, his photographs of his handiwork begin to garner attention in the art world. Malmberg’s documentary generated buzz after its first screening over the weekend, with attendees feverishly handing about copies of a book of Hogancamp’s photos.

The film centers on a strong subject and builds a balanced structure around him, as Malmberg carefully introduces viewers to Hogancamp and his world, creating a delicate sense of understanding and empathy.

— Mark Olsen

Photo: Laurie Simmons and Lena Dunham in “Tiny Furniture.” Credit: SXSW


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The ‘Green Zone’ Problem: Will Another War Movie be Made?

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment
March 16, 2010 |  1:48 pm

It’s no secret that Universal is going to take a bath on “Green Zone,” which cost upwards of $100 million to make — Time’s Richard Corliss has it at $130 million — and only did $14.3 million in its opening weekend. That’s epic flop territory. It’s not even fair to blame the mess on the moviegoing public’s total lack of interest in all things Iraq, especially since the film earned a mediocre B from CinemaScore and had lackluster reviews. (The film had a 50 rating from Rotten Tomatoes, meaning its reviews were even worse than the forgettable “She’s Out Of My League,” which got a 51. Movie Review Intelligence, on the other hand, scores the aggregate review much higher).

Green-zone-2 It’s also no secret that the conservative blogsphere has been celebrating the movie’s demise, with the New York Post’s Kyle Smith gleefully dancing on its grave and Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood website jammed full of links to “Green Zone” box-office dud stories. In fact, we haven’t seen this much delight in rightist circles since Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story” tanked last year.

Even though Universal will take a serious hit in its bottom line, the film’s failure would normally be endurable, especially since the production chiefs who made it — Marc Shmuger and David Linde — were ousted last year after an earlier string of duds. So no one can blame the new team for the old team’s blunder.

But here’s the problem: Desperate to find a way to open the picture, Universal marketed the movie — as anyone who saw the TV spots can attest — as another installment in its wildly successful “Bourne” series. The trailers (as you can see below) sold the Paul Greengrass film as being “from the director” of “The Bourne Supremacy,” complete with action-packed scenes of Matt Damon — the “Bourne” star — rocketing around Baghdad with “Bourne”-like abandon, being pursued by bad guys amid hundreds of flying-glass explosions, squealing cars, gun battles, fiery helicopter crashes and epic chase scenes. In other words, the “Green Zone’s” marketing pitch had all of the iconograph trappings of a “Bourne” movie.

If the movie had had a strong opening weekend at the box office, this tactic would’ve paid off. But since the movie did a belly flop, it leaves Universal  having poisoned the well for its most successful action series. After all, you can’t go back to “Bourne 4” after you’ve already sold “Green Zone” as a Bourne sequel — and it flopped. Audiences will be justifiably wary, having clearly been unsatisfied by the results of this Damon-Greengrass collaboration. It was bad enough that Greengrass had already put some distance between himself and directing another “Bourne” actioner. Now the studio will have to put some distance between this flop and any continuation of the series.

When it comes to a bad movie, the behavior of movie audiences is remarkably consistent: once burned, twice shy. And for the near future, that shyness will extend to any new “Bourne” project. 

Here’s one of the “Bourne”-like “Green Zone” trailers:


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News – Runaway Film Production is the Star of this Movie

March 10, 2010 Leave a comment


Runaway film production is the star of this movie

Runaway production

Volunteer cast and crew, including cinematographer Ed Gutentag, left, and actor Jack McGee, seated, shoot “Ordinary, Average Guys,” a short film that is part of a campaign to keep movie and TV jobs in California. (Axel Koester / For The Times / March 5, 2010)

By Richard Verrier

March 10, 2010

In a North Hollywood studio, actor Jack McGee is stripped down to his boxers, his legs duct-taped to a chair in a room draped in plastic sheets. He’s not playing his best-known role of Chief Jerry Reilly in the TV series “Rescue Me” but the unlucky owner of a nightclub, sweating profusely as a mobster and his goons threaten to cut off his legs with a chain saw.

His crime: luring the mobster’s younger brother to perform in drag because the kid couldn’t get other work in California.

The short film, “Ordinary, Average Guys,” a cross between “Goodfellas” and the “Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” doesn’t have a distributor. The cast and crew are working free, and it’s being shot over just three days. And its not-so-comic subtext — that jobs are scarce in California — isn’t likely to warm up studio executives.

That doesn’t faze industry veteran Mike Kehoe, the film’s director and co-producer. Kehoe and his colleagues hope to use the film to promote awareness about the economic consequences of so-called runaway production and build support for stronger incentives to keep filmmaking centered in Southern California.

“If we can get everybody involved and really wake people up to do something, then there’s a big chance we can help,” said Kehoe, a longtime craft service coordinator. “We have to make a statement to the politicians.”

Of course, where there’s a film, there are aspirations for a film festival to go along with it.

Kehoe and his colleagues hope the 20-minute movie will be featured in a festival they’re planning that would showcase short films that are shot in California and public-service announcements highlighting production flight.

The festival would dovetail with a campaign by a coalition of industry, labor and city officials to market the region’s film industry, which has seen a steady loss in production to other states and countries.

Kehoe said he was motivated to make the film after spending three months away from his family last summer, missing his twin sons’ birthday, while working on “Battle: Los Angeles,” a Sony Pictures movie about aliens invading L.A. that was shot in Louisiana.

“I want to make movies here because I want to be near my family, just like so many other skilled professionals,” he said.

Kehoe had no trouble finding volunteers, recruiting about 100 actors and crew members, many of them friends he’s worked with over the years, like McGee.

Cinematographer Ed Gutentag provided his services and enlisted help through a website called Shoot Movies in California (

The site evolved out of a Facebook group and claims 14,000 users, many of them below-the-line crew members hard hit by the exodus of production.

“We’re using films to get our message out,” said Gutentag, a camera operator on such films as “War of the Worlds” and “Collateral.” “And what better way to hone our craft.”

Vendors donated camera and lighting equipment, and the studio space was provided courtesy of an actors training center in North Hollywood.

Some high-level players pitched in, including sound mixer Jeff Wexler, whose credits include “Valentine’s Day,” and Tommy Harper, a unit production manager on “Alice in Wonderland,” who is a co-producer on Kehoe’s project.

“A project like this shows that we need to come together and formulate a plan of how to keep stuff in L.A. It stirs up the conversation,” Harper said.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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