Saturday, February 25, 2006

A Little of the Old In and Out

universal

(image via nytimes)

In: Stacey Snider. Will she or won't she? When the patron saint of Hollywood Steven Spielberg courts you -- woos you -- to do something in the entertainment business, well, it is hard to say no. Former Peter Guber protoge Stacey Snider is rumored to be in talks to head up Dreamworks. According to Sharon Waxman of the NYTimes:

" Universal Pictures teetered on the brink of a top executive change on Friday as Stacey Snider was given the weekend to decide whether to remain as studio chairwoman or to accept an offer to run DreamWorks, which was recently acquired by Paramount Pictures.

"In an interview, Ms. Snider said that she was agonizing between the two choices, and that her superiors were pressing her for a decision 'sooner than is fair to me.'

"Ms. Snider, whose contract expires at the end of the year, has headed Universal since 1999. She guided the studio to profitability with hits including "The Mummy," "Meet the Parents" and its sequel, "Meet the Fockers," and had Oscar-winning films in "Gladiator" and "A Beautiful Mind" in 2000 and 2001, respectively.

"But since the company's acquisition in 2004 by G.E., with its tight financial controls and a much more rigorous corporate review policy than Vivendi's, Ms. Snider has said she has found the job more difficult.

"'As good as they are to me, there's only so much latitude' in the job, she said on Friday, referring to the 'wear and tear' of dealing with G.E.'s strictures. 'This is fundamentally true of the media business,' she added, noting 'the rigmarole you go through while trying to make 25 movies, while not seeing your kids.' Ms. Snider has two daughters, ages 9 and 7.

"In running DreamWorks, Ms. Snider would preside over 4 to 6 movies a year, instead of the 16 to 18 she now oversees at Universal."

More here.

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The embattled Brad Grey and Gail Berman. (image via movies.yahoo)

Out: Gail Berman. Of course, in the tightly knit food chain that is Hollywood, the an alpha-predator's gain means, generally, a net-loss to the metaphorical herbivore, namely: Gail Berman. Let's face it: Brad Grey's brief tenure at Paramount has been ... tumultuous. The good will he garnered until only recently has dried up with Black Wednesday. And, it seems, Gail Berman is on the firing line, so to speak. According to the LATimes:

"When Brad Grey got on the phone Friday, the chairman of Paramount Pictures had a pretty good idea what I was going to ask. Did Gail Berman, his embattled production chief, still have his backing? 'Gail has my full confidence and support,' he said. 'Our plan is for our films to speak for themselves instead of being swayed by the Hollywood rumor mill.' Whether you're a baseball manager, a studio executive or the head of Homeland Security, someone is always wondering if you'll still have your job next week. For the past few months, Topic A during lunchtime conversation in Hollywood has been the question � what on Earth is going on at Paramount? If you believe the buzz, since Grey arrived last March, the studio has been in constant turmoil.

"There is good reason for such scrutiny. After years of sedate stability under Sherry Lansing, Paramount has been rebuilt pretty much from the ground up. In less than a year, virtually every division chief has been replaced, some without warning, as happened to production chief Donald DeLine, who found out from friends that he was being replaced when he was in London on a business trip. Countless staffers have been let go after the studio paid $1.6 billion to acquire DreamWorks last December in a selection process that one staffer described as a 'human bake sale.' And Berman, hired last spring to replace DeLine, is now seen as a lame duck herself, having endured a stream of criticism for the studio's pokey production pace and her dealings with producers and talent agents. Her perceived shaky status at the studio took another hit Friday after The Times reported that Universal Pictures Chairman Stacey Snider was considering moving to DreamWorks after her contract expires at year's end."

More here.

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(image via hollywood)

In: Ice Cube. What an interesting career Ice Cube has had thus far. As one of the founders of the gansta-infused West Coast hip-hop style, he has branched out into movies and now, cleverly, the digital cosmos ("Race Card" MP3 here). In addition to an album and tour in the works Ice Cube is hoping MySpace can do for his curious new project what it did for Dane Cook's comedy. From Mediaweek:

"FX is exploring a number of marketing gray areas with its promotional effort for its documentary series Black. White., seeding a new music video by the show's executive producer, Ice Cube, across a number of non-linear media platforms.

"The video for the series' title-song, 'Race Card,' will be available to MySpace.com members beginning Feb. 20, running on the community portal exclusively through Feb. 26. After that window closes, "Race Card" can be accessed throughout the following week online at MySpace, Yahoo!, AOL, TVGuide.com and BlackAmericaWeb.com and also will be available to Sprint Nextel and Boost Mobile customers with video-enabled handsets.

"Stephanie Gibbons, executive vp of marketing for FX, said the multiplatform push will deliver some 135 million impressions for the series and the network, although that number doesn't factor in the mobile element of the campaign.

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Socialite in repose. (image via timeinc)

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The Kid Rock jailhouse montage. (image via thesmokinggun)

Out: Kid Rock and Tamara Mellon. When we first heard of this coupling we thought: What-the-fuck? Could there be two more different people? One: a socialite; the other: a porn-loving, stripper anthem writing rock star-cum-felon. As expected, the novelty wore off. According to BritishVogue:

"TAMARA MELLON has apparently called her halt to her romance with Kid Rock. 'She went to visit him on tour in America and had a moment of clarity," her friend Tamara Beckwith told reporters. "She realised how mad the relationship was and called the whole thing off.'"

In:

executive01

Former Congressman Thomas Downey. (image via carlcoxphoto)

Out: Thomas Downey and Carol Browner. If Jack Abramoff is lobbyist excess, then the Washington powercouple consisting of former Congressman Thomas Downey of Downey-McGrath and former EPA Commissioner Carol Browner are lobbyist excess multiplied by a factor of two. According to the Old Gray Lady:

"Carol M. Browner and Thomas J. Downey, a classic Washington power couple, are not used to being rebuffed. But that is what happened when those two Democratic advisers approached Senator Charles E. Schumer last week about their client, Dubai Ports World.

"... On Feb. 14, after Mr. Schumer's initial protest, Ms. Browner and her colleagues at the lobbying business, the Albright Group, began to conduct outreach for Dubai Ports World, which they were already advising on questions involving China.

"Ms. Browner, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Clinton years, naturally turned for help to Mr. Downey, a former Democratic congressman who is her companion and a major New York supporter of Mr. Schumer.

"Mr. Schumer would not budge. Refusing to meet the two in person, he made public objections.
Soon a confluence of forces, including a lack of preparation by the administration, little major news and the fact that members of Congress, who had not been briefed on the questions, were at home in their districts, helped the controversy explode.

"The ordeal, tamped down somewhat by the announcement late Thursday that the company would not take control of the ports immediately, has offered a case study in crisis management.

"'They couldn't have botched this any worse if they had tried,' said Rich Masters, a managing director at Qorvis, a business that has worked on crisis communications for Arab countries. "

We heartily concur. Anne E. Kornblut's excellent article here.

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