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ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
October 30

Entertainment News October 30 - TOP 3 Stories for Tuesday

ALSO ON SITE

TEAMSTERS SUPPORT WGA PICKET LINES

The Teamsters union -- representing more than 4,000 Hollywood drivers, location managers and scouts, casting directors and animal wranglers -- is giving the WGA's strike plans a major boost with a show of solidarity that could seriously disrupt local production.

The leader of Teamsters Local 399 is advising members that they should honor WGA picket lines as long as they're acting as individuals. The Writers Guild of America could go on strike as early as Thursday; negotiations resume today at the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers offices.

In a message posted Monday, secretary-treasurer Leo Reed said Local 399 can't strike, picket or boycott a producer while its contract is in effect and must use its "best efforts" to get employees to perform. But Reed added that those restrictions don't apply to individuals.

"As for me as an individual, I will not cross any picket line whether it is sanctioned or not because I firmly believe that Teamsters do not cross picket lines," Reed said in the message.

The move was not unexpected, as the Teamsters are the only Hollywood union with specific language allowing members to honor picket lines without reprisal from employers. Reed noted in the message that if Joint Council 42 of the Teamsters sanctions the WGA strike, the companies have agreed that they will not discipline any employee who refuses to cross.

"Federal law protects you if you choose otherwise," Reed added. "Remember, I believe that Teamsters do not cross picket lines!"

Approval of a sanction for the WGA strike by Joint Council 42 -- parent to 23 Teamster locals in California and Nevada -- is expected to be a formality.

It's unclear how many Teamsters will follow Reed's suggestion and refuse to cross WGA picket lines, but if many do, film and TV production could be hamstrung due to lack a transportation and location managers. And should casting directors not cross, the ability to make quick decisions on actors would be gummed up.

Strong support for the WGA emerged Sunday from the 300 members of Local 399 who attended a meeting at the Sportsmen's Lodge in Los Angeles.

In response, AMPTP president Nick Counter sent a letter to Reed and other leaders of the five Basic Crafts unions and reminded them of the "no strike" clause in their contract. The five unions signed a three-year deal this summer with the AMPTP.

"We expect each union to comply with this no-strike obligation and order your members to work," he added. "It is necessary to send you this reminder because of some misinformation and rumors which have been circulated."

Reed's announcement offers a stark contrast with guidance provided to members so far by the Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild of America -- with both guilds emphasizing that if the WGA strikes, SAG and DGA members have to keep working if they have a contract to do so. SAG urged members to join picket lines but noted that they should do so in their free time.

As for the negotiations, both sides have continually blamed each other for the lack of progress at the bargaining table over the past three months. In his most recent message to members, WGA West president Patric Verrone asserted that the AMPTP plan is to stall the talks until the final hours and then make a lowball offer.

"This sort of brinkmanship will likely be met by fear, confusion and even acrimony," he added. "All that is natural and expected. Therefore, we must be strong and steadfast in our convictions so that we convey the proper message to our employers, to our allies in the entertainment community, to the industry at large and to each other: That as much as we don't want a strike, we want a bad contract even less."

WORLD SERIES SWEEP COSTS FOX MILLIONS

The World Series ended late Sunday with Boston's four-game wipeout of Colorado, but Fox still averaged 17.1 million total viewers for the four contests, a solid 8% higher than last year's five Series games.

That's the good news.

The bad news: Three of the last four Series have resulted in sweeps; and the 2006 defeat of Detroit by St. Louis ended up only at five games.

Conventional wisdom says that if a Series goes fewer than six games, the network will lose tens of millions of dollars that Madison Avenue would've lavished on a Game Six and, particularly, a Game Seven.

Neal Pilson, sports consultant and former president of CBS Sports, said, "Fox pre-sold Game Five, so that means it will have to re-express as many as 60 spots worth about $400,000 a spot."

That will come in the form of makegoods in other big-ticket Fox-produced sports events such as NFL games and BCS college football.

Fox found some compensation in the higher ratings overall this year. For the 11 post-season games carried by the network, including the World Series, Fox finished first in the Nielsens among 18-to 49-year-olds on nine of the nights.

And Fox averaged 13.6 million viewers for the 11 nights, a 25% gain over last year's 21 postseason games. (Last year, Fox carried all of the divisional playoff games and both league championship series. This year, TBS shared the rights to the divisional games and one of the league-championship series as part of the cabler's new seven-year baseball contract worth $1.05 billion.)

Fox, which ponied up $1.8 billion for its seven-year baseball deal (also kicking off this year), squeezed in a number of extra spots over the 11 games due to, among other things, extra-inning contests.

Primetime portion of Sunday's 4-3 clincher for the Red Sox brought in 19.7 million viewers and a 6.6 rating/15 share in adults 18-49, per prelim Nielsen numbers. Game, which aired from roughly 8:30 p.m.-12:15 a.m. ET, outperformed last year's Series-deciding Game 5 by more than 3 million viewers.

LEADING LADIES SIGN UP FOR 'PIPPLA LEE'

Robin Wright Penn, Julianne Moore and Wynona Ryder will star in drama-comedy "The Private Lives of Pippa Lee," produced by Elevation Filmworks and Plan B Entertainment.

Lemore Syvan of Elevation will produce along with Plan B. London-based Lumina Films is co-producing and handling worldwide sales, with CAA partnering on the sale of domestic distribution rights. Lumina will introduce the film to international buyers at the upcoming AFM in Santa Monica.

Rebecca Miller ("The Ballad of Jack and Rose") is directing from her novel of the same title. Story centers on a dutiful wife whose husband falls for a younger woman, freeing her to explore her buried sensuality and leading to a "a very quiet nervous breakdown."

Lensing is scheduled to start in April in Connecticut.

Elevation and Syvan produced family drama "Gracie" and "The Ballad of Jack and Rose." Plan B is a producer on "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford."

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