SAG LEADERS TEAR INTO AFTRA
A "solidarity" rally staged by the Screen Actors Guild on Monday reportedly drew a modest crowd of a few hundred, who heard speakers denounce the recent agreement between the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. "AFTRA has now abandoned us to make their own deal to the potential detriment of actors," SAG President Alan Rosenberg told the crowd. To some, Rosenberg's speech appeared to be contrived to blame AFTRA if SAG negotiators are unable to secure an agreement that is substantially more favorable to the union than the ones negotiated between the AMPTA and AFTRA, the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America. Daily Variety quoted an AFTRA spokeswoman as saying, "It is unfortunate that SAG's primary negotiating tactic seems to be to vote down its sister union's contract on a prayer of achieving a better deal with the AMPTP." Apparently noting that fewer than 500 persons attended the SAG rally despite a membership total of more than 120,000, the AFTRA spokesperson said, "Today's event only further demonstrates that they have little support for their misguided strategy. SAG members should encourage guild leadership to spend more time at the table and less time, effort and member resources undermining AFTRA." In an interview with Variety New York SAG President Sam Freed called the rally "an irresponsible embarrassment."
BOX OFFICE SOARS
With the top two films earning nearly $100 million between them, the studios and exhibitors had a very good weekend, final reports by Media by Numbers indicated Monday. DreamWorks Animation/Paramount's Kung Fu Panda led the pack with $60.24 million, while Sony's You Don't Mess With the Zohan topped out at $38.5 million. Together, the top 12 films grossed $170.87 million, 31 percent above the $130.43 million reported for the same week a year ago.The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):
1. Kung Fu Panda, Paramount, $60,239,130, (New); 2. You Don't Mess With The Zohan, Sony, $38,531,374, (New); 3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Paramount, $22,793,630, 3 Wks. ($253,014,750); 4. Sex and the City: The Movie, Warner Bros, $21,218,305, 2 Wks. ($99,177,283); 5. The Strangers, Universal, $8,941,970, 2 Wks. ($37,298,770); 6. Iron Man, Paramount, $7,477,439, 6 Wks. ($288,847,640); 7. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Disney, $5,658,836, 4 Wks. ($125,977,010); 8. What Happens in Vegas, 20th Century Fox, $3,437,801, 5 Wks. ($72,267,894); 9. Baby Mama, Universal, $806,750, 7 Wks. ($57,931,215); 10. Made of Honor, Sony, $804,055, 6 Wks. ($44,689,497).
SPIELBERG WANTS TO TAKE BACK DREAMWORKS
Stephen Spielberg is planning to make DreamWorks a separate, independent film company again -- and is trying to raise more than $1 billion in financing to do so, the Hollywood Reporter reported today (Tuesday), citing no sources. Spielberg, who reportedly plans to terminate his personal contract with Paramount at the end of the year, has made no decision yet on who would distribute DreamWorks' movies, but, according to the trade paper, he is leaning toward Universal, although he might use a potential distribution deal as leverage in his negotiations with Paramount, which acquired DreamWorks in 2006. The Reporter also indicated that Disney and Fox may also propose deals to distribute DreamWorks' product.
FIRST TABLOIDS, NOW MAINSTREAM PRESS REPORT NEWMAN CANCER
A celebrity column in the Los Angeles Timeswebsite today (Tuesday) picked up British tabloid reports that Paul Newman is dying of lung cancer. The Times report, which linked to an item in News Corp's gossipy London Star, was itself picked up by newspapers all over the world. (The National Enquirer has also reported that Newman is suffering from inoperable lung cancer). Today's (Tuesday) London Daily Mail, ran a photograph of a gaunt-looking Newman standing with Martha Stewart at a fundraising event in Connecticut for his children's cancer charity, The Hole in the Wall Gang. The date of the photo is not indicated, although the last such function for the organization occurred on June 1. While the tabloid accounts said that Newman had been hospitalized at New York's Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Daily Mail said that a spokesperson for the actor insisted that Newman was being treated for athlete's foot and hair loss.