Comedian David Brenner died today at his home in New York, NY. He was 78. A favorite of Tonight Show host, Johnny Carson, Brenner made over 150 appearances as a guest and substitute host on the NBC latenight show, starting in the ’70s. A contemporary of such stand-up legends as Andy Kaufman, Freddie Prinze and Gabe Kaplan, Brenner made a name for his observational comedic styling accentuated by his toothy grin, wavy hair and lanky demeanor. Brenner was born on Feb. 4, 1936 in Philadelphia, the son of a vaudeville singer and comedian who went under the stage name “Lou Murphy”. Brenner served two years in the Army and after majoring in mass communications at Temple University, he went on to write, direct and produce socially-conscious TV documentaries as the head of the doc department at Westinghouse Broadcasting and Multimedia Broadcasting. Cutting his teeth on the stand-up circuit in New York, in the late ’60s, Brenner was spotted by a Tonight Show talent scout. Several auditions later, Brenner made his debut on the latenight show on January 8, 1971. In 1976, Brenner starred in the short-lived comedy series Snip opposite Lesley Ann Warren, which was a take-off on Warren Beatty’s 1975 film Shampoo. He also played a charity ball auctioneer in the 1989 romantic comedy Worth Winning starring Mark Harmon and Madeleine Stowe. The comedian also made appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The David Frost Show, The Mike Douglas Show, Real Time With Bill Maher, The Late Show With David Letterman, The Daily Show and was a frequent guest on Howard Stern. Brenner was one of the comedians featured seen in the 2005 cult documentary The Aristocrats. Brenner died in New York City at his home. Enjoy this clip of Brenner guest-hosting The Tonight Show:
Actor Logan Miller is joining Paramount‘s upcoming Christopher Landon horror comedy Scouts vs. Zombies. Miller, whose credits include two seasons on Disney XD’s I’m in the Band, Cinedigm’s Night Moves and Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, plays Carter, a boy scout, who together with his two fellow scout mates, must defend their small town from a zombie attack. Scouts vs. Zombies is scheduled to start lensing in May. Logan is repped by Jennifer Patredis at Innovative Artists and Eric Skinner and Jeff Morrone at Intellectual Artists Management. Miller joins Tye Sheridan (Mud, Tree of Life) who plays the lead scout. Deadline reported exclusively in September that Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones director Landon became attached to Scouts vs. Zombies. The film is produced by Todd Garner and his Broken Road Productions, Andy Fickman and Betsy Sullenger of Oops Doughnuts, and Bryan Brucks and his Brucks Entertainment. Broken Road’s Sean Robins is exec producer.
Today at a California Film & Television Production Alliance rally in Sunland, CA, state assemblyman Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima), who co-authored the legislation for an increase in California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program, called the crowd to action: “This will not be an easy lift. We’re going to have to tell stories. There are some folks in Sacramento who think this program doesn’t work, that it’s a giveaway (to California’s workers)”
After his speech before a crowd of 600 at Independent Studio Services, Bocanegra told Deadline that there is no dollar figure attached to the overhaul legislation for California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program but its authors want the expansion to “be competitive with other states” and cited New York’s $450 million tax credit program. When asked if he seeks a similar figure for California, Bocanegra said “yes.”
Bocanegra also said that despite recent news reports, California Governor Jerry Brown is “not dragging his feet” on the legislation and that any apparent delays are just “the way he operates. Reluctance on the part of the governor, he said, “is not what we’re feeling right now.We’ve been in touch with his office.”
The progression for the legislation, he said, is that it will first be reviewed by the California Arts & Entertainment Committee (which Bocanegra chairs). Then it goes to the Committee for Revenue and Taxation and finally to the Appropriations Committee, chaired by the co-author of the new legislation, Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles). The progression gives Bocanegra confidence in success.
Bocanegra added that although today’s event focused on the middle class and service industry employers and employees, he stressed that the legislation includes eliminating the $75 million budget cap on productions eligible for the tax credit to bring “big tentpole” production back to California.
Earlier, the assemblyman exhorted the crowd to applaud: “This is a rally, right?’ he crowed. “This turnout is amazing… we represent you, and what we’re hearing from our constituents is, you want a bigger and better film tax credit program. We are going to go big, and we’re not going home. When we go big, that means what? Jobs!”
On February 19, Bocanegra and Gatto introduced legislation to expand the $100 million credit program (The Expanded Film and Television Job Creation Act AB 1839), with nearly 60 co-sponsors from across the state. According to a statement released by The California Film and Television Alliance, “one medium-budget feature film made in California will likely result in “the purchase of goods and services from nearly 500 small businesses (and) result in 792 million in direct spending in California and roughly 8500 middle class jobs.” The Alliance is comprised of guilds, unions, producers, small businesses, film commissions, and associations working together to promote, improve and enhance film and TV production in California. LA’s new film czar, Ken Ziffren, has said previously that he wants to see California production return to the high levels seen in the mid-1990s. The Alliance cites that from 2004 to 2011, California has lost $3 billion in wages to other states and countries with better film and TV incentive programs.
The rally today kicked off with singer Lisa Haley (of Grammy-nominated band Lisa Haley & the Zydecats) shouting to the crowd, “Can I hear an Amen?…They’ve punished us enough. Time to bring business back to California!”
Gregg Bilson, CEO of Independent Studio Services (hosting the event at their company location today) had to coax guests from under dining table tents into the hot sun to listen to today’s panelists. The unseasonable sun and heat, he said, “is the new normal. At least it’s not Chicago,” he joked. Then, to cheers: “It’s a great place to make movies and television shows, dontcha think?” Bilson, a second-generation propmaster, said his three sons also work in the business and added the state must support local production “so the fourth generation, my granddaughter, can choose to work in the business as well.”
The South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival announced their Audience Award-winners today including wins for Diego Luna‘s biopic Cesar Chavez in the narrative spotlight and the Emmy Rossum-starring drama Before I Disappear in the narrative feature spotlight. Also getting a crowd-pleasing boost before its April 6 HBO premiere is Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley which took the Episodic award. Last year’s winner in the narrative feature competition was Short Term 12 which was released by Cinedigm and had some awards buzz this past fall. The SXSW Jury Awards were announced on Tuesday with the Grand Jury Prize going to Fort Tilden and the The Great Invisible, Margaret Brown’s look at the oil industry’s secretive world in the wake of the Gulf Coast disaster, earning the top documentary prize. Below are a list of the SXSW Film Festival Audience Award winners:
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Audience Award Winner: Before I Disappear
Director: Shawn Christensen
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Audience Award Winner: Vessel
Director: Diana Whitten
Audience Award Winner: DamNation
Director: Ben Knight & Travis Rummel
Audience Award Winner: CESAR CHAVEZ
Directors: Diego Luna
Audience Award Winner: Yakona
Director: Anlo Sepulveda & Paul Collins
Audience Award Winner: Exists
Director: Eduardo Sánchez
Audience Award Winner: Silicon Valley
Director: Mike Judge
Audience Award Winner: The Special Need
Directors: Carlo Zoratti
Audience Award Winner: The Case Against 8
Director: Ben Cotner & Ryan White
SXSW Film Design Awards
EXCELLENCE IN POSTER DESIGN
Audience Award Winner: Big Significant Things
Designer: Corey Holmes
EXCELLENCE IN TITLE DESIGN
Audience Award Winner: True Detective
Designer: Patrick Clair for Elastic
When Fox moved newbie Enlisted on Friday nights in January, the show saw a big jump upwards. The same could not be said for fellow freshman Rake (0.5/2) last night on its move to Fridays. The debut of the Greg Kinnear–starring drama in its new slot last night saw the faltering show hit a new low – down 37% from its last original on Thursday March 6. How much longer Rake will last now is really a matter of how low Fox is willing to let the show go. With a falling Rake as its lead-in instead of a Bones repeat, Enlisted (0.6/2) took a hit last night. The comedy was down 14% from its March 7 show. At least Raising Hope escaped unscathed. That comedy was even with last week’s 0.5/2 rating.
Related: Fox’s ‘Rake’ Moves To Fridays
The winner of the night among adults 18-49 was once again ABC with a 1.6/6 rating. CBS came second (1.4/5) like last week in the demo but were tops, like last week, in total viewers with 9.72 million watching.
While down two tenths from its March 7 show, Shark Tank (1.9/7) was tied with ABC’s own 20/20 (1.9/6) for the top rated show of the night. The entrepreneurial reality series was the third most watched show of Friday’s primetime (7.42 million) after CBS’ Blue Bloods (12.02 million) and Hawaii Five-O (10.06 million). Kicking off the night at 8PM, a repeat of Last Man Standing (0.8/3) took a 38% fall from the week before in a now more cramped time slot. Lead-out The Neighbors (0.9/3) was even with last week’s original while 20/20 at 10PM went up 6%. That small but significant rise leaves the news mag show equal with its best result in the key demo since March 30, 2012.
Also up last night was NBC’s Hannibal (0.9/3). The third week of the second season of the often grisly drama saw a rise of 13% over last week among adults 18-49 and a 4% lift in total viewers (2.6 million). While 8 PM’s Dateline (1.2/5) was down 20% from its March 7 show, 9 PM’s Grimm got a 7% lift from last week. Even though it’s small, that’s the second week in a row since its return from a month long winter break on February 28 that the procedural fantasy drama has seen a rise.
CBS had college basketball preemptions in about 4.3% of the county, so there may be greater adjustments than usual in the final numbers last on. Having said that, it was the Season 5 finale of Undercover Boss (1.3/5) last night and the results were kind of mixed. While basically steady with last week’s show, with a 7% dip, the CBS’ workplace reality show shot up a very strong 30% from its Season 4 ender on May 18 last year. Lead-out Hawaii Five-0 was even with its March 7 show, which was even with the week before that, while Blue Bloods stayed steady with a 7% rise from last week.
OPENING: Need for Speed (DIS) no gas for the DreamWorks’ pic at $18M to $19M+; Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club (LGF) is one of the worst openings for him to date at around $9.1M to $9.4M; Veronica Mars (WB) strong per screen to take over $2M+ for the weekend. The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL) expanded to 66 screens with another stellar $53K to $55K+ per screen; Frozen (DIS) still in Top Ten?
UPDATED, Saturday, 7:43 AM: Mr. Peabody and Sherman (Fox/DreamWorks) is expected to make $21.3M this weekend to take the No. 1 spot as pre-Easter audiences are getting an influx of kids into the marketplace — holiday vacations are staggered across the U.S. so about 19% of the nation’s children are out of school this weekend. (Dropping this in at 8:53 AM — Fox is predicting a higher gross — $22M). Disney’s Need for Speed (DreamWorks) is proving that gamers are hermits and aren’t bringing friends (do they have any that aren’t digitally created in chat boxes?) as this Fast and Furious-lite (it’s a soft PG-13) started off well in late nights and then hit then slowed.
According to RelishMix, which tracks engagement in social media, YouTube subscribers and views counts, Facebook growth and Twitter activity for the picture were all stalled going into this weekend, but this morning social activity was up — esp. on YouTube. Taking third is Warner Bros./Legendary’s 300: Rise of an Empire which has fallen off about 60% compared to Peabody’s mere 33% drop but doing strong business overseas. Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club is only going to open to around $9.1M to $9.4M for Lionsgate after being downgraded slightly this morning; it seems Perry is being replaced by the Will Packer/Kevin Hart combo in the marketplace even though it received an A- CinemaScore. Rob Thomas’ Veronica Mars’ Kickstarter experiment is kicking it on per screen average with an estimated $7,575 per screen, higher than everything but Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel which is just kicking up a storm again as it expands for Fox Searchlight. Morning estimates have raised it to a possible $3.5M weekend or a $53K to 55K per in its expansion. A strong ensemble cast and smart marketing campaign is fueling this quirky film. Veronica Mars stepped into the No. 9 spot this morning for Warner Bros. Meanwhile, there is some question about what will round out the Top Ten — Disney’s Frozen in its 17th week in release or Sony’s Monuments Men in its 6th? Here are the numbers as they look this morning:
1). Mr. Peabody And Sherman (FOX), 3,951 theaters (+17) / $5.5M Fri. / 3-day cume: $21.3M to $22.8M (-33%) / Total cume: $63.3M to $64.7M / Wk 2
2). Need For Speed (DIS), 3,315 theaters / $6.6M Fri./ 3-day cume: $18.5M to $19.3M / Wk 1
3). 300: Rise Of An Empire (WB), 3,490 theaters (+20) / $5.7M Fri./ 3-day cume: $18M to $19.1M (-57% to 60%) / Total cume: $77M to $78M/ Wk 2
4). Non-Stop (UNI), Wk 3/ 3,183 theaters (+70) / $3.19M Fri./ 3-day cume: $10.7M (-32%) / Total cume: $68.9M / Wk 3
5). Tyler Perry’s Single Mom’s Club (LGF), 1,896 theaters / $3.2M Fri./ 3-day cume: $9.1M to $9.4M / Wk 1
6). The Lego Movie (WB), 3,040 theaters (-250) / $2M Fri. / 3-day cume: $8.2M to $8.7M (-20% to 25%) / Total cume: $237M to $238M / Wk 6
7). Son Of God (FOX), 2,990 theaters (-281) / $1.4M Fri./ 3-day cume: $5.2M to $5.6M (-49%) / Total cume $50.7M to $51M / Wk 3
8). The Grand Budapest Hotel (FSL) / 66 theaters (+62) / $1M Fri./ 3-day cume: $2.8M (+366%) Scrn Avg: $53,527 to $55K / Total cume $4.8M / Wk 2
9). Veronica Mars (WB), 291 theaters / $1M Fri. / 3-day cume: $2.2M to $2.7M / Per screen: $7,575 to $9K / Wk 1
10). Frozen (DIS), 1,466 theaters (-194) / $520K Fri./ 3-day cume: $2M (-32%) / Total cume: $396.2M / Wk 17
Monuments Men (SONY), 1,594 theaters (-407) / $590K Fri./ 3-day cume: $2M (-34%) / Total cume $73.8M / Wk 6
PREVIOUSLY, Friday, 11:16 PM: Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which started showing its strength this afternoon for Fox, looks to take the No. 1 spot this weekend only dropping about 36% in its second weekend. That puts it over the PG-newcomer Need for Speed – which got a B+ CinemaScore — distributed by Disney. The brakes are on the live action offering based on the extremely popular video game (with about 140 million units sold to date) while the box office numbers on Peabody are being closely watched by investors analyzing DreamWork Animation’s stock value. And speaking of not catching a break, Tyler Perry’s latest marks one of his lowest openers to date with Single Mom’s Club in a possible single-digit weekend opening of around $9.4M to $9.6M, despite its A- CinemaScore. If you remember, Lionsgate decided not to renew his first-look deal last month. Enuf said. Warner Bros./Legendary’s 300: Rise of an Empire is expected to take a big drop in its second weekend out, around 60%. It’s making most of its money in international markets right now with a cume well over $88M already. It looks like Frozen is still in the top 10 since … wait for it … opening at Thanksgiving last year. Veronica Mars fan base came out for the film and its per screen is actually higher than Mr. Peabody and Sherman‘s right now, but it’s not expect to make much at the box office overall.
Speaking of per screen averages: It is truly fun to watch the grosses on The Grand Budapest Hotel which is being handled quite well by Fox Searchlight. With its expansion from four theaters last weekend, it is looking like it might actually end up with a 43K to 44K per screen — another stellar weekend with a possible $2.8M take. Last weekend it broke all records with a $202K per screen average for director Wes Anderson which put together a delightful ensemble cast led by Ralph Fiennes.
The numbers and positions may change in the A.M., like always. Until then, here is what it looks like late tonight:
Authentic. Risky. Diverse. Conversation starter. Those are the kinds of words that often pop up in describing Orange Is the New Black, and they were among the many topics creator Jenji Kohan and a dozen castmembers discussed during the prison dramedy’s PaleyFest panel Friday. “Our focus is on character, and these people are individuals,” Kohan said early on. “We talk about them like they’re people we know. And you don’t approach it like, ‘Well what does the black one do? What does the Latino one do?’ It’s like you know these people – you can’t view it as tokenism.” Said Laverne Cox, who plays Sophia Burset: “We should talk about the conversations that this show has sparked — who is in prison and why are people in prison, things we need to talk about more in this country. It’s important for the trans community; a lot of people are having conversations about trans people that they weren’t having. Amazing conversations about diversity, a lot of important things that we need to be talking about.” Kohan chimed in: “But it’s natural, its normative – it’s presented as something that’s part of everyone’s life. It’s not the ‘very special episode about the trans character.’ It’s normalizing this conversation.”
Related: PaleyFest 2014 Schedule
There were plenty of such lively exchanges — 15 people were onstage — but precious few details about the upcoming second season. Instead there was a lotta love for Netflix, Kohan and one another during the panel’s 80 minutes onstage. The crowd did get a few nuggets about what’s in store when Season 2 becomes available for streaming on June 6. Moderator Andrea Mandell of USA Today asked which characters’ backstories will be getting more attention. Kohan was cagey but carefully named Lorna, the nun, Taystee, Poussey and Miss Rosa. She tried to rattle off a few more but admitted, “I forget. I’ve been in editing for weeks.” She added, “There’s also so much that we don’t cover because there’s just not enough time.”
Asked how Season 2 would expanding on the world of Piper Kerman’s autobiographical book, on which OITNB is based, Kohan said, “When we started Season 1, legal said, ‘You can’t use any of the characters in the book because Piper’s the only one who signed a release.’ So the thing very quickly became its on animal. … Season 2 is more; it’s all the little details you wanna know about.”
A good chunk of time was spent familiarizing the fans with the new kid on the cell block. Lorraine Toussaint plays Vee, a veteran street tough who ran her own drug business, recruiting children to serve as runners. When the conversation turned to her, Toussaint was deliberate, almost foreboding. “As silent as I’ve been this evening is as silent as I’ll be in season 2 – at least I enter as such, she said. “I think it’ll be interesting seeing how this character is received because Jenji has written a character who plays, and enjoys the game and is incredibly engaging and draws people into the game. And I have a great deal of fun.” Said Cox, “She shakes everything up – I mean, nothing’s the same because of Vee.”
There were several humorous moments during the evening. The crowd got a big charge when veteran comic actress Lea DeLaria, who plays Big Boo on the show, was called from the audience to join the panel — and a few failed attempts to climb onto the stage went awry. Asked whether her role on the show has affected her life, DeLaria replied: “When a 16-year-old boy came up to me on the street, they used spit in my face. Now they stop me to tell me how much they love Orange Is The New Black.” She also said she has been asked to sign exactly 44 screwdrivers — for reasons known to fans of the series. “I kept count.”
Also, Kate Mulgrew, who plays kitchen honcho Red, mentioned that many of the actresses have no idea what their characters did to earn their state-sponsored vacations. “A lot of us don’t know what our crime is,” she said. “Then I think about it and I talk about it – it works for me as an actress. I don’t need to know what my crime is. And I don’t understand why that is.” Kohan then needled her. “I do know what you did because I wrote the scene.” Mulgrew replied, “You know what I did?!” “I did, but I threw it away.” After some laughter and feigned indignation, Cox said: “It’s like we’re sitting here with God. Jenji is our God.”
The event was webcast live from the nearly 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre, where PaleyFest has relocated after a run at the 1,400-capacity Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. The panel included eight people who also were featured when OITNB show kicked off the inaugural PaleyFest: Made in NY series in October: Kohan, Mulgrew, Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs and Natasha Lyonne, along with three actresses who were been upped to series regular during the show’s hiatus: Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba and Taryn Manning. They were joined by Cox, Toussaint, Laura Prepon, Yael Stone and Michael Harney.
Danny Trejo, Mischa Barton, Michael Madsen Star In AMBI’s ‘Hope Lost’
Danny Trejo, Mischa Barton, Michael Madsen and Daniel Baldwin are set to star in Hope Lost, a crime thriller from Italy’s AMBI Pictures. David Petrucci is directing the film from a screenplay by Francesco Trento, Damiano Giacomelli, Francesco Teresi and Loretta Tersigni. A bored young woman who dreams of the life of soap opera characters meets a mysterious man who charms her away from her small hometown then sells her to a pimp. The cast also includes Andrey Chernishov, Francesca Agostini and Alessia Navarro. Principal photography will begin this month in Rome with Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi and Cosetta Turco producing and Danielle Maloni executive producing.
Liberty Global Acquires Remaining Shares Of Chile’s VTR
Liberty Global said today that it has acquired the remaining 20% of the outstanding shares in both VTR GlobalCom and VTR Wireless in a stock-swap deal. The shares in Chile’s largest cable operator were purchased from a subsidiary of Corp Group Holding Inversiones Limitada in exchange for 10.1 million Liberty Global Class C ordinary shares. The purchased shares had a market value of about $422 million, based on Liberty Global’s closing price of $41.80 per share on March 13, 2014.1 The deal gives VTR Finance B.V., the parent entity of Liberty’s recently created Chilean credit pool, 100% of both the Chilean broadband communications and wireless businesses.
Vivendi In Exclusive Talks To Sell Its Telecom Unit To Numericable
Vivendi said Friday that it has set aside three weeks of exclusive talks with French cable group Numericable to try to finalize a deal to sell its telecom unit SFR for €11.75 billion ($16.4 billion) in cash, plus a stake in the resulting business. Reuters reports that the decision is a blow to conglomerate Bouygues, which had also bid for SFR. Vivendi’s board said it made the choice that was most likely to help it exit a cutthroat telecoms market as quickly as possible. Numericable currently owns a cable network that covers two-thirds of French households and sells television and broadband.
ITV2 Orders Second Season Of Hidden-Camera Magic Show ‘Tricked’
ITV2 Said Friday that it has commissioned a second season of Tricked, in which magician Ben Hanlin tricks unsuspecting members of the public and celebrities with hidden-camera magic. The six-episode hourlong series from ITV Studios will air on ITV2 later this year. Andy Scott produces the series, and Sumi Connock is the executive producer.
Angry comments have erupted on the Veronica Mars Kickstarter site from donors upset that they are unable to download the movie via the service provided: Flixster/Ultraviolet. The film, which was funded on Kickstarter, promised that donors who pledged $35 or higher would “receive a digital version of the movie within a few days of the movie’s theatrical debut, plus the T-shirt, plus the pdf of the shooting script.” After Warner Bros declined to finance the idea based on its 2004-07 TV series, Veronica Mar’s creator/exec producer Rob Thomas and star Kristen Bell went to the crowdfunding site with an intention of raising $2M to bring the popular TV series to the big screen, but it quickly ended up raising a whopping $5.7M.
The comments range from, “This is a bunch of crap. Where is the MP4 download that just works, for everyone, with no problems?” and “This is ridiculous. I can’t even get a full download of Flixter (sic) to even attempt to watch the movie. Both I and my husband have been alternately trying to download it for over an hour. I have never been so disappointed … I’ve been looking forward to this for a year” to “I’m disappointed that the Flixster streaming/download isn’t working when we had a whole evening planned around watching the movie. I ended up paying $7.00 to rent the movie through amazon … ” Others wrote: “What a way to say ‘screw you’ to backers” and “I regret this funding.” And still another: “Giving up getting digital download to work. Happy movie got made but can’t help but feel ripped off for not getting the copy of the movie I was promised.” In response, Thomas sent out this statement to donors:
“We’ve read all of your comments since yesterday’s update. We know that some of you have strong opinions about the decision to provide digital versions of the movie through Flixster. As you’ll see in the original FAQ on our Kickstarter page, we’ve always planned to include Flixster as a digital distribution platform. But I also know that many of you use iTunes, Amazon or other platforms, and would prefer to claim your digital copies on your favorite service, so we hoped we’d also be able to arrange for more options. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible. In the end, Flixster was the best option for getting the digital movie reward out to all of you, worldwide, at the same time.” He suggests calling the customer support team … okay, a total debacle.
This comes after other problems with crowdfunding perks for the movie already. Thomas told the crowd at PaleyFest2014 on Thursday that they had a lot of challenges to overcome. For instance, he said that he wanted to give out 40 associate producer credits to the largest donors and fly them to L.A. to see the film and get feedback, but the PGA nixed that idea. Because of the overwhelming response, he and Bell were obligated to generate 5,000 autographed movie posters. He said it took three long days and 19 boxes of posters to sign.
The film bowed in a midnight screening last night to $260K on 95 screens, off to a good start fueled by its fan base. Veronica Mars will be on 291 screens this weekend and the big question is will it bring in an audience past its initial fan base. Warner Bros is paying for marketing and distribution costs. We’re waiting to hear from Warner Bros. and will add their comments when they get back to us.
Here’s what Thomas posted on the Kickstarter site tonight:
This is it. We’ve been waiting almost eight years for this moment.
Today, Veronica Mars returned, and it’s all because of you.
By the time you read this update, many of you will have already seen the movie.
Over the last week, I’ve had the chance to watch it with more than 1,000 of you in Austin, New York and Los Angeles. Starting this morning, it became available through digital retailers and on demand. Here in the United States, the first theatrical screenings started at 12:01 AM this morning. And, if you pledged $35 or more during the Kickstarter, you should now have received an email with instructions and a redeemable code to access the movie through Flixster. (If you haven’t, it’s because we’ve been unable to reach you through email.)
If you haven’t received an email about your digital version of the movie, please email Customer Support at [email protected] (We want to make sure you get to see the movie right away, so Warner Bros has extra staff working to provide faster answers.)
On Flixster & Digital Download Options
As a quick aside: we’ve read all of your comments since yesterday’s update. We know that some of you have strong opinions about the decision to provide digital versions of the movie through Flixster.
As you’ll see in the original FAQ on our Kickstarter page, we’ve always planned to include Flixster as a digital distribution platform. But I also know that many of you use iTunes, Amazon or other platforms, and would prefer to claim your digital copies on your favorite service, so we hoped we’d also be able to arrange for more options. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t possible. In the end, Flixster was the best option for getting the digital movie reward out to all of you, worldwide, at the same time.
But more than anything, I genuinely want today to be perfect for all of you. It’s March 14. Today, your movie came out worldwide, and I want you to be able to watch it on whatever platform or device works best for your needs.
So, here’s the deal:
We understand that some of you prefer other platforms or services for watching digital content. If you contact our Customer Support team, they can help.
If you paid for a copy of the movie a year ago, we don’t want you to have less choice and freedom than people who decide to buy it today. And we definitely don’t want you to end up paying twice just to see the movie on your preferred service.
Please know that Warner Bros have given Customer Support a lot of freedom to help make things right, so if you’re having issues, please let them know: they’ll do their best to either help get Flixster working to your satisfaction, or, if you prefer, to provide an alternate solution.
Now, let’s take a few minutes to talk about the movie we just released together.
How I’m Measuring Veronica’s Success
Over the last month, we’ve done a lot of media appearances and interviews, and in almost every one of them, I’ve said the same thing: my number one goal for Veronica Mars was to make our fans happy.
In the past week, I’ve gotten to watch the movie several times, with over thousand of our backers. I’ve gotten to speak to many of you while walking our red carpets, on sidewalks before interviews, and in both the Kickstarter screenings and after parties. Since yesterday, as more of you started seeing the movie in far-flung time zones (where the future is now!), I’ve gotten hundreds more messages sharing your thoughts.
The early feedback on the movie from fans has been so positive that I’ve been walking on air all day.
Do I still hope Veronica Mars does well in movie theaters, and sells a hundred billion copies on opening weekend? Of course I do. And is there a number I’ve discussed with Warner Bros that would make it easier to start talking about a sequel? Of course there is. The more audience we can show for Veronica Mars, the better the odds that we’ll get to do this again in the future.
Most of the time, when you direct or produce a film, you spend opening weekend watching the box office returns, because those — for better or worse — are considered the biggest measure of success. (Happily, we’re off to a good start.) I’m still watching those numbers, but I have to be honest: for me, that feels a little bit like playing with the house’s money. If you’re happy, we’ve already hit our mark.
Why we needed to get this right.
This week, I’ve spoken with a lot of reporters. Without fail, almost every single one of them asks some version of this question: “Veronica Mars has been off the air for years. Why did you keep pursuing this movie for so long? Why not give up?”
(It’s actually been 2,488 days since the last episode of Veronica Mars premiered. Not that I’m counting.)
As I kept answering that question, I realized that there were three big reasons I never gave up: (1) Veronica Mars was a show that we’re all proud of. That’s rarer than you might think. (2) The people who worked on Veronica Mars really enjoy working with each other. That’s also rarer than you might think.
But above all: we never gave up because you never gave up.
Over the last seven years, whenever I speak with fans, I’m reminded — again and again — of how important Veronica is to many of you. And I’d like to think that also I understand what this movie has meant to many of you.
Like many of you, I am a huge TV fan. I geek out over my favorite shows. I have appointment television. I write fan mail to my favorite show creators. And I absolutely know what it’s like to love a show deeply, and to identify with the characters. (I said it last night at PaleyFest, but Judd Apatow probably wasn’t there, so I’ll say it again: if Freaks & Geeks ever Kickstarts a movie, I’ll be the first in line.) As someone who cares that much, I am constantly humbled to hear that so many of you feel that way about a show that is so personal to me.
The backers I’ve gotten to meet over the last week — and there are so many of you — fill me with awe. I’ll admit that I expected most of the backers at each premiere to be local, or at least within an hour’s flight of the theater. Instead, I met backers from Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the UK, Germany, Brazil — the list goes on. And meeting you doesn’t just mean that you supported us in making the movie. It means you cared enough to pay for hotels, and airfare, to be there with us at our Kickstarter premieres. Several of you told me that these events were your vacation for the year, or even the next two years.
As you watch the movie, please know that we’ve done our very best to deserve your commitment.
The strangest part, in meeting all of you, was how many of you kept thanking me, and Kristen, and the rest of our team, for making the movie — and it was strange mostly because, as smart as you all are, it seemed obvious to me that you were getting this one wrong. The thanks should have been going in the other direction.
There’s more to say, but this isn’t a night for reading.
Tonight, and this weekend, I hope you’ll have a chance to watch the movie you made possible, and share the experience with your fellow backers and fans.
I’ll be watching to see how the movie performs over the weekend, but the most important thing to me is knowing what YOU think of it, so — SPOILER WARNING — please let me know in the comments below. As always — even if I can’t respond to all of you — I promise that I’m reading.
Thank you for everything you’ve done to get us to this moment.
American Pie alum Eddie Kaye Thomas will co-star opposite Elyes Gabel in CBS‘ drama pilot Scorpion. Also cast in the project, from writer Nick Santora, director Justin Lin, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, is young Canadian actress Jadyn Wong (Being Erica). Scorpion centers on Walter (Gabel), an eccentric genius and his international network of super-geniuses who form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age. Thomas, repped by Gersh, plays Toby, a genius behaviorist and a member of super-geniuses team. Wong, repped by Greene & Assoc. and Toronto’s Characters, plays Happy, the mechanical genius who can fabricate anything and has hands with a surgeon’s precision and a magician’s inhuman speed. Robert Patrick co-stars.
Creative Artists Agency has signed Eugenio Derbez, one of the top Latino filmmakers/actors in the business and certainly one of the most recognizable Latino actors in the world. Derbez is the creator and star of one of Mexico’s most popular sitcoms La Familia P. Luche (The Plush Family) which ran fot 10 years on Univision and also created the Televisa produced sketch-show XHDRbZ which ran for two seasons. Both programs not only appeared in the U.S. but also ran in Europe and, of course, Latin America. He had very recognizeable names in the Latino market on his sketch show, including the president of Mexico Vincente Fox. He also wrote, directed and starred in last year’s Instructions Not Included, which is touted as the highest-grossing Spanish-language film in the U.S., earning $44.4M in the U.S. and $41M internationally for a total of $85.5 million worldwide. He was also the voice of Donkey in the Spanish-language version of Shrek and also played a character voice in Guillermo Del Toro’s animated comedy Book of Life. U.S. audiences may remember him from Liongate’s Girl in Progress starring opposite Eva Mendes (2012) or in Fox Searchlights Under the Same Moon from 2008. He was previously with WME. His attorney is Howard Abramson of Behr & Abramson, LLP.
Masters of Sex‘s Nick D’Agosto and Mixology‘s Andrew Santino have been cast as leads alongside Greta Gerwig, Drew Tarver and Krysta Rodriguez in CBS’ comedy pilot How I Met Your Dad, rounding out the How I Met Your Mother spinoff’s primary cast. In the vein of the original series, HIMYD tells the story from a female point of view, that of Sally (Gerwig), and revolves around a new group of friends in New York. D’Agosto, repped by UTA, Emerald Talent and SMGSB, will play Frank, the head of IT for Juliet’s (Rodriguez) fashion blog who falls for Sally. Santino, repped by CAA and Underground, will play Danny, Sally’s older brother, a perfect but uptight overachieving lawyer. Santino is billed as a guest star in the pilot as his casting is in second position to ABC’s midseason comedy Mixology, which has been soft in its first couple of airings. D’Agosto was a regular on the first season of Showtime’s Masters of Sex and will continue on the racy drama in a recurring capacity. The pilot, from 20th TV, was written by Emily Spivey and HIMYM creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and will be directed by Pam Fryman.
Related: 2014 CBS Pilots
Wendell Pierce (The Wire) has signed on to CBS‘ multi-camera comedy pilot The Odd Couple, a take on the Neil Simon classic. Co-written and executive produced by Matthew Perry, Odd Couple revolves around two mismatched roommates — the messy Oscar Madison (Perry) and neat freak Felix Unger (Thomas Lennon). Pierce will play Teddy, a neurotic cop and a good buddy of Oscar’s who goes to his apartment every week for Game Night. Pierce, repped by Chris Schmidt at Paradigm and Donald Spradlin at Essential Talent, recently wrapped the fourth and final season of HBO’s Treme and will appear in a multi-episode arc on Showtime’s Ray Donovan.
Related: 2014 CBS Pilots
Nancy Lenehan has been cast in CBS’ multi-camera comedy pilot More Time With Family, executive produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon and written/exec produced by Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith. Based on the stand-up of Tom Papa and the experiences of Damon, More Time With Family centers on Tom (Papa), a husband and father making a career change to spend more time with his family. Opposite Joe Pantoliano, Nancy will play Barb, the sweet, flighty, worrier-mother of the family. Repped by Pakula/King & Associates and Meghan Schumacher, Lenehan recurs on HBO’s Veep and next will be seen in upcoming feature Sex Tape.
UPDATE: 5:30 PM: David Letterman tonight asked FNC’s Bill O’Reilly to explain his displeasure with President Obama‘s appearance on Zach Galifianakis‘ web series Between Two Ferns. Short answer: Russian president Vladimir Putin.
PREVIOUS: THURSDAY, AM: President Obama’s appearance on Zach Galifianakis’ web series Between Two Ferns is now three layers of TV deep. Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report last night did a report on Fox News Channel’s disapproval of the president’s appearance on the Funny or Die series to promote the Affordable Care Act. “I am not the only one who was angry,” Colbert said of FNC’s unhappiness. “I am just the best at it.”
Up next — Reliable Sources‘ Sunday deconstruction of The Colbert Report’s segment on FNC’s anxiety over Obama’s appearance on Between Two Ferns? Watch after the jump:
EXCLUSIVE: Rake co-star Necar Zadegan has been added to Bravo‘s newly picked-up 13-episode hourlong series Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce, starring Lisa Edelstein. Bravo’s maiden scripted series, from writer-producer Marti Noxon and UCP, follows Abby (Edelstein), a self-help book author who hides the fact that she’s separated from her husband as she starts to navigate her life as a single woman in her early 40s in Los Angeles. She finds herself seeking advice from her divorced friends instead of her married ones, which leads to some unexpected and life-changing experiences. Zadegan, repped by Innovative, Generate and Sloan Offer, will play a divorce attorney at Lyla’s (Janeane Garofalo) firm who is fearless and speaks her mind, sometimes embellishing in hyperbole. She wants to be Abby’s attorney and has a very nontraditional type of marriage herself. The casting is in second position to Fox midseason drama Rake, which has done poorly in the ratings and has been relegated to Fridays in route to a likely cancellation. Zadegan is the second Rake regular to book a new project in second position, joining Bojana Novakovic, who plays the lead in ABC drama pilot Agatha.
Related: 2014 Bravo Pilots
Josh Helman (X Men, Fury Road) and Damon Herriman (Justified) have landed roles in Starz‘s ballet drama Flesh And Bone from executive producers Lawrence Bender, Kevin Brown and John Melfi and creator/exec producer Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad). Described as a dark and gritty exploration of the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world, Flesh And Bone follows Claire (Sarah Hay), a young dancer with has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. Helman, repped by Gersh, Harrison Stokes, and Jackoway Tyreman, will play Bryan, who just returned home with a bad case of PTSD after serving in combat overseas. Herriman, with APA, Art/Work Entertainment and Australia’s Lisa Mann, will play Romeo, a strange and engaging homeless guy who lives on the roof of Claire and Mia’s Lower East side building. He was recently tapped as a recurring on CBS’ Battle Creek.
Melissa George has been tapped as the female lead opposite Rufus Sewell in ABC’s Richard LaGravenese drama pilot. Also cast in the pilot, in the vein of Dangerous Liaisons, is Elliot Knight. The untitled project is set in New York and revolves around the love and rivalry between two equally matched, powerful socialites, Philip Fitzgerald Julien (Sewell) and Margot Worth Cole (George), who play out their obsessive attraction and seduction of each other through their manipulation of others. Brit Knight, repped by Resolution, Affirmative Entertainment, UK’s Payne Management and Mike Adler, plays Philip’s right-hand man Leo who is loyal to his boss and keeps all of his secrets. This marks the second consecutive ABC/ABC Studios drama pilot for Aussie George, who toplined Gothica last season. She also played the lead in the Cinemax/BBC drama Hunted.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
House alumna Odette Annable is set as one of the main leads in ABC‘s 10-episode summer drama series Astronaut Wives Club, from Fake Empire, Groundswell Productions and ABC Studios. Written by Stephanie Savage based on Lily Koppel’s novel, it tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race. Annable will play Trudy Cooper, the youngest of the Astro-wives and a licensed pilot herself.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
A tomboy with aspirations of her own, her forward thinking challenges not just her husband but the other wives. Annable was an early choice for the role, which marks her second consecutive pilot-season casting at ABC. Last year, she starred in the drama pilot Westside. Annable, repped by UTA and Evolution, has been recurring on Cinemax’s Banshee and CBS’ Two And A Half Men.
Julian Morris (Pretty Little Liars) is set as a series regular in Amazon Studios‘ pilot Hand Of God, written by Ben Watkins, directed by Marc Forster and starring Ron Perlman. It centers on the powerful Judge Harris Pernell (Perlman), a hard-living, law-bending married man with a high-end call girl on the side who has a religious awakening and starts having visions and hearing voices through his ventilator-bound son that could be God speaking to him. Morris, repped by Gersh, Brillstein and Hamilton-Hodell, will play Paul Dobson, an actor-turned-preacher whose affinity for quick money and shortcuts have gotten him in trouble in the past.
Related: 2014 Amazon Studios Pilots
Parks & Recreation alum Jama Williamson has signed on to NBC’s pilot Ellen More Or Less, written/exec produced by JJ Philbin, directed by Peyton Reed and exec produced by Jason Katims and Michelle Lee. The single-camera comedy, from Universal TV and Katims’ True Jack Productions, centers on Ellen (Stacey McGunnigle), an average-size woman who, after losing 100 pounds, begins reinventing herself in life and love. Williamson, repped by TalentWorks and Trademark Talent, will play Melissa, Ellen’s insecure co-worker who’s desperately in love with Jerry (Chris Diamantopoulos). Williamson recently recurred on Fox drama Rake.
Related: 2014 NBC Pilots
EXCLUSIVE: James Ward Byrkit has signed with Alex Manugian to write the screenplay for Paramount’s long-gestating thriller Wake. Wake chronicles the high school life and loves of Janie Hannagan, a teen who has the ability to enter other people’s dreams. This project has been trying to find its form since it was first announced in 2010 that Miley Cyrus would play the lead in the MTV Films-distributed adaptation of Lisa McMann’s bestselling 2008 novel. Disturbia co-writer Christopher London had been attached to Wake, the first in a young-adult novel trilogy. Lindsay Williams will produce Wake for Gotham and Jodi Zuckerman-Weiner and Cyrus’ production company Hope Town.
The gig marks the second writing collaboration between Byrkit and Manugian. The Rango story co-writer and Manugian, who handled the voice of Spoons in the 2011 animated pic, worked together on the Byrkit-directed Coherence. A winner at last year’s Fantastic Fest, the indie sci-fi thriller was picked up by Oscilloscope Laboratories at AFM in November, with plans to release it theatrically and online this year. Both Byrkit and Manugian are repped by Gotham Group, with Byrkit also repped by Gersh.