PARAMOUNT'S PEAK IS LOWERED
Seeming to reflect the current credit crunch and investor wariness, Paramount announced Wednesday that it had cut the number of films it will release next year to 20 from about 26, with 2-4 of them being produced by DreamWorks Animation and Marvel Studios and 4 by its specialty unit, Paramount Vantage. Reports indicated that the layoffs and voluntary departures of DreamWorks staffers will result in an annual savings of $50 million for the studio. Former DreamWorks executive Adam Goodman will remain with Paramount, becoming its production president and will oversee the 180 or so DreamWorks projects that were developed before the departure of Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider, who have announced that the new DreamWorks will have its home at Universal. On her blog, Waxword, former Los Angeles Times/New York Timesentertainment industry reporter Sharon Waxman wrote: "An analysis by one rival studio of the Paramount deal suggests that the loss to the major studio's bottom line for its $1.6 billion purchase of DreamWorks in 2005 is some $250 million. By my back-of-the-envelope estimate using published figures ... it's more than that."
TV STATIONS, NEWSPAPERS REFUSE ADS FOR PORNO
Kevin Smith's comedy, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, may have been granted an R-rating by the Motion Picture Association of America's rating board, but the marketing department of the Weinstein Co., which is distributing the film, says that 15 newspapers and several TV and cable outlets are refused to carry commercials for the film. Josh Rawitch, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Dodgers, told the Associated Press that commercials for the film were removed from Fox Sports channel during Dodgers games after viewers complained. The city of Philadelphia refused to permit posters for the movie on its bus stops, despite the fact that they now use stick figures to represent the actors. (The city's deputy mayor told AP that the ads were unacceptable because of the word "porno.") The studio has now developed a poster that reads, "Seth Rogen and Elizabeth Banks made a movie so outrageous that we can't even tell you the title."
KIOSK OPERATOR REDBOX, SEES RED, SUES UNIVERSAL
Redbox, which operates the largest number of movie-rental kiosks in the country, has filed an antitrust suit against Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The company, jointly owned by McDonald's and Coinstar, claims that the General Electric unit has refused to provide DVDs to it unless it signs an agreement not to provide titles until 45 days after they are released and to destroy the discs after their rental cycle. Universal also reportedly is insisting on a share of the revenue from rentals. Redbox claims that no other studio has made similar demands and that Universal's will put Redbox at a disadvantage against other DVD renters.
DISNEY TO RENOVATE FAILING THEME PARK TO SAVE REPUTATION
The Walt Disney Co. plans to invest $1 billion in its poorly attended California Adventure park adjoining Disneyland, the Los Angeles Timesreported today (Thursday) citing Bob Weis, executive vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering and creative leader for California Adventure's renovation and expansion "The sweeping overhaul will transport visitors to the California of the 1920s, when Walt Disney first arrived in Hollywood," the newspaper observed. According to the Times the renovation is being undertaken not just to boost attendance. It quoted Gary Goddard, a theme-park designer, as saying, "What's at stake for Disney is their reputation."
FONDA RECEIVES AWARD -- BUT SHE'S NOT GUSHING OVER HONOR
Lifetime achievement awards apparently do not hold the cachet that they once did. On Saturday, German TV personality Marcel Reich-Ranicki stepped to the microphone at the German Television Awards where he was to receive an award, denounced the ceremonies as "rubbish" and "a waste of time," and stalked off. Finland's former president, Martti Ahtisaari, is reportedly undecided about whether to make the short trek to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Jane Fonda was on hand in Abu Dhabi Wednesday to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Middle East International Film Festival. But she was hardly gushing over the honor. In an interview with the English-language Gulf Newsnewspaper, Fonda said, "In all honesty I have received many of these awards and as you'd probably imagine it's not like collecting an Oscar and the trophy just gathers dust in a cabinet. Picking up an award of this nature is not exactly the high point in your career." She then added, "However this one is different and I really mean it."