FRESTON FLOATS AWAY ON HIS GOLDEN PARACHUTE
Underscoring the popular belief in the entertainment industry that being fired by Viacom Chairman Sumner Redstone can be even more lucrative than being hired by him, an SEC report filed by the company on Monday indicates that Freston's termination package will amount to some $85 million, including $58.9 million in annual salary and bonuses plus $14 million in deferred compensation and 401K. The former Viacom CEO, who spent less than a year in the post, has also agreed to become a consultant to the company for the next three years with a salary of $1 million a year. "It's an advisory contract, and he'll help with the transition," Viacom spokesman Carl Folta told Bloomberg News. In addition he is to receive medical and dental insurance, and $8 million in life insurance.
DISNEY FINDS MUSICAL FOR NEMO
The Walt Disney Co. has announced plans to turn another one of its animated film hits into a Broadway musical. Finding Nemo, the 2003 feature produced by Pixar Animation, now a unit of the entertainment company, will become the latest candidate for stage transformation, the company said Wednesday. At least initially, the theatrical production will be presented as a "short-form" (30 minutes) musical at the Walt Disney World theme park in Orlando. The main characters will appear as puppets -- created by Michael Curry, who co-created the puppets for the stage version of Disney's The Lion King. Preview performances are scheduled to begin next month, while the official premiere is due to take place some time in January.
The Adam Sandler comedy Click from Sony booted Disney's platinum edition of The Little Mermaid out of first place on the DVD sales chart for the week ended Oct. 15, according to Home Media Retailing magazine. Click also landed in the top spot on the rental chart, taking over from X-Men: The Last Stand.
PARIS IS BURNING OVER NEW MOVIE
Paris Hilton is attempting to distance herself from her latest movie, National Lampoon's Pledge This. The film is scheduled to premiere in Chicago on Oct. 28, but the New York Post's "Page Six" column, quoting an unnamed source, said that Hilton is not likely to attend. The gossip column quoted its source as saying, "The movie is horrific. ... It is a limited release that will likely go straight to video. Paris doesn't really want to be associated with it. Her movie career is not exactly booming, and she needs to not be seen as a flop. Also, the movie has a lot of topless women in it, and she is trying to distance herself from the whole porn thing."
FINNISH DIRECTOR YANKS OSCAR ENTRY
Aki Kaurismaki, Finland's prolific and award-winning writer-director, has asked the Finnish Film Institute to withdraw his latest movie from competition for the best foreign language film Oscar. The German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur said that Kaurismaki, whose The Man Without a Past was a finalist in the Oscar foreign competition in 2003, had informed Raija Nurio, president of the Finnish Film Institute, that he wished his latest film, Lights in the Dusk, to be withdrawn but gave no explanation. DPA said that Kaurismaki's action leaves Finland without an entry. The five nominees in the foreign-language competition are expected to be announced on Jan. 23.
LAST KING RULES IN LONDON
The 50th London Film Festival has got off to an auspicious start with the screening of The Last King of Scotland, starring Forest Whitaker as Uganda's bloody dictator Idi Amin. Whitaker and co-stars Gillian Anderson and James McAvoy attended the premiere. Critic Peter Bradshaw in Britain's Guardian newspaper says that Whitaker "pinches" the movie, which he calls "a rivetingly enjoyable ... piece of red-blooded storytelling." James Christopher in the London Times describes it as "farcical, poignant, at times mind-bogglingly far-fetched, but wonderfully well-acted." Of Whitaker he writes, "It's impossible to imagine who could possibly do it better. ... It's a gigantic performance by Whitaker, and a masterclass in how to terrify with charm."