VIACOM PUSHES HARD INTO NET WORLD
A new hub for Comedy Central's "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" headlines a slate of two dozen targeted Web sites that Viacom's MTV Networks will launch by the first quarter as it continues its "vertical" digital strategy.
TheDailyShow.com, which launches in the fourth quarter, will archive the entire video history of the show including headlines, interviews and the "Back in Black" feature. The portal also will present the previous evening's episode in its entirety an hour or two after its broadcast.
The launch comes on the heels of an estimated $75 million deal between Comedy Central and the creators of "South Park" that includes the creation of SouthParkStudios.com (HR 8/28). The site launched this year and will relaunch in the first quarter as part of an unprecedented production deal for the duo, which will see them split online ad revenue from the show with Viacom.
Comedy Central's "The Sarah Silverman Program," MTV's "Engaged and Underage" and Nickelodeon's "iCarly" also will get new sites.
The sites are the latest in MTVN's strategy in the online arena, which establishes individual destinations for shows and related subject matters instead of a centralized site. The new portals will bring the worldwide total of MTVN Web sites to more than 300 destinations by year's end.
"We're accelerating it across the company," said Mika Salmi, president of global digital media at MTVN. "It's worked very well and advertisers like it because they can expand their reach in a very targeted manner."
The sites join a growing list of targeted Web sites that the Viacom property has launched in the past year in conjunction with its TV shows. Other sites include Comedy Central's Indecision2008.com, MTV's YoMomma.TV and SuperSweet16.com and VH1's
THINKfilm BUYS HELEN HUNT'S DIRECTORIAL DEBUT
The first big sale of the Toronto fest went to ThinkFilm and Canadian distributor TVA Films Saturday morning. The companies picked up U.S. and Canadian rights, respectively, to Helen Hunt's directorial debut "Then She Found Me" starring Hunt, Colin Firth, Bette Midler, and Matthew Broderick, in a $2.5 to $3 million combo deal.
Meanwhile, several of the bigger specialty divisions were circling Tom McCarthy's drama "The Visitor" since it's screening broke before midnight last night, but both buyers and the filmmakers were waiting for reaction to Saturday morning's screening before closing a deal, given the film's low-key style and lack of marquee names. Michael London's Groundswell Prods. and Participant Prods. produced the film, with attorney Andrew Hurwitz repping sales.
In "Found," Hunt plays a teacher tracked down by her birth mother (Midler) just as her world is erupting in chaos: her adoptive mother passes away, her husband (Broderick) leaves her and she meets a new man (Firth) through one of her students.
The romantic comedy-drama was produced by Killer Films, making it a natural fit with ThinkFilm given its multiyear partnership with the distributor, signed in February, to develop, finance, produce and distribute features together.
This deal falls outside their first-look arrangement, but is ThinkFilm's first-ever Killer Films acquisition
The screenplay was adapted by Hunt, Vic Levin and Alice Arlen from a novel by Elinor Lipman.
MIRAMAX NABS US RIGHTS TO 'BLINDNESS'
Miramax Films on Saturday nabbed U.S. rights to Fernando Meirelles' dramatic thriller "Blindness" for just under $5 million.
Meirelles' follow-up to "City of God" and "The Constant Gardener" chronicles a city overtaken by a plague of blindless through the eyes of a small band of quarrantined citizens. The film stars Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Alice Braga, Danny Glover and Gael Garcia Bernal.
Don McKellar's screenplay is adapted from Portuguese Nobel Laureate Jose Saramago's acclaimed 1995 novel. Principal photography is currently underway in Toronto, where the film was acquired Saturday during the film fest.
Miramax president Daniel Battsek has a long history with the director, having released "God" when he was at Buena Vista International.
The $25 million Brazilian-Canadian co-production is produced by Niv Fichman, Andrea Barata Ribeiro and Sonoko Sakai. The executive producers are Gail Egan and Simon Channing-Williams.
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