Entertainment conglomerates gave the creative community in Hollywood a confidence boost by posting strong opening quarters for this year.
Companies from Walt Disney and Viacom (Paramount parent) to News Corp (20th Century Fox), and Time Warner all posted upticks in share values in the first three months of 2011. Good news for executives trying to hit their numbers and justify multi-million dollar production spends. But all is not rosy in the studios' gardens, with Lionsgate, DreamWorks Animation and Sony all signalling falls in stock value. Sony's stock was particularly hit in the aftermath of Japan's tsunami, leaving Columbia Pictures looking at its numbers.
Big screen Beck-ons
Controversial Fox TV host Glenn Beck and his right-wing hullabaloo may not be natural bedfellows in Hollywood's more liberal-leaning environs. But there are plans to bring Beck's 2008 book, The Christmas Sweater, based on his life, to the big screen. He sold film rights to producer Steve Scheffer, a former top HBO executive, who is currently hawking a script around the studios.
Beating the traffic, Hollywood-style
The commute to work is a source of angst for workers the world over. But in Los Angeles, the sheer volume of traffic often leaves even the giant six-lane freeways at a standstill. Imagine how frustrated uber movie producer and financial magician Ryan Kavanaugh must feel after finding his solution for beating the traffic and getting to work on time cruelly crushed. He's been issued a cease and desist notice for having his pilot land his helicopter on the roof of the Sofitel in West Hollywood. It seems local residents were annoyed enough by the noise to issue a formal complaint after discovering the hotel landing pad is for emergency use only. Let's hope his journey from Malibu to downtown LA isn't so much of a headache that he quits the biz. It would leave a big hole in movies Kavanaugh's upcoming slate including Cowboys & Aliens (with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford) and Paul Feig's Bridesmaids.
'Sno White like Lily
Lily Collins, daughter of Phil Collins, is close to securing the role of Snow White in a retelling of the classic fairy tale. Collins, who played Sandra Bullock's daughter in The Blind Side is said to have lit up her audition for the Tarsem Singh-directed 3D feature which already has Julia Roberts (above right) lined up to play the Queen and Armie Hammer as the Prince. Relativity's Ryan Kavanaugh is producing from a script by Melissa Wallack and Jason Keller. The film is slated for release in June 2012 as it races to hit the screen before a competing Snow White project from Universal.
Another big producer to have emerged over the last 10 years is Lorenzo di Bonaventura (above right). The former Warner Bros high-flier has been producing movies from the Paramount lot since 2002. But with his current deal coming to an end in nine months, Hollywood is abuzz with tales of friction between di Bonaventura and Paramount president Adam Goodman. Among di Bonaventura's bones of contention is Paramount's insistence on giving Jon M Chu the helm of the next instalment of G. I. Joe, a director the producer thinks isn't experienced enough. Another di Bonaventura project, the Jack Ryan franchise reboot, suffered a major setback when writer Steve Zaillian dropped off the project and the studio decided to postpone the Ryan project indefinitely in favour of a Star Wars sequel. Both di Bonaventura and Goodman are publicly laying out their love for one another while insiders and industryites alike are abuzz with the private fallout and which studio lot di Bonaventura might end up on.