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WARNER MEDIA CEO negotiating exit
FOX & NBC's new Fall show trailers / AMAZON kicking MGM's tires / Sigourney Weaver sets AMAZON show
Mornin! This is Sean McNulty and here’s the Hollywood + Media news to know on TUESDAY May 18, 2021.
Where there’s no time for real estate today but sending a slainté 🍻 out to Ariana Grande who got married this week to… 25 year-old real estate agent Dalton Gomez in a small ceremony at Ariana’s house in Montecito.
Ok fine… just a little celebrity real estate - here’s the house, she bought it from Ellen for $6.5 Million according to TMZ who has a slideshow at this link.
And just putting this here if you know someone who would dig the email:
📽 THE SILVER SCREEN
Director Joe Cornish reuniting with John Boyega who will return to star in the follow up to the 2011 film. No US partner announced yet. /Variety
Will Speck & Josh Gordon (“Office Christmas Party", “Blades of Glory”) directing the story of a friendly NYC crocodile, will hit theaters next Summer. /Deadline
📺 THE TV SET
Based on the book "Lost Flowers of Alice Hart”, the 7 episode series set in Australia centers on a young girl who loses her parents in a fire and is sent to live with her grandmother… where she becomes aware of many family secrets that continue to affect her as an adult. /Deadline
ALSO: AMAZON bought global / outside of US rights to HULU’s “Nine Perfect Strangers” - 8 episode limited series with Nicole Kidman & Melissa McCarthy from the author of “Big Little Lies”. Curious it’s not going to DISNEY+/STAR… although Nicole has a production deal at AMAZON and is a producer on this. Teaser trailer in the TRAILER HOUSE below.
Lotta shows being kept til Mid-Season as per usual (their Fall sched still has “Thursday Night Football” this year, and The World Series of course), but they’ll be premiering 3 new scripted Fall shows:
“Our Kind of People” from Lee Daniels, will star Morris Chestnut, who will also still appear on FOX’s “The Resident”. Presumably he’ll get 2 paychecks though. Centers on a wealthy black family on Martha’s Vineyard.
“The Big Leap” - down on their luck characters come together for a performance of Swan Lake. FOX hoping for the next “Glee”.
“Fantasy Island” reboot will premiere this August.
No new cancellations announced at their Upfront presentation, so basically all shows are coming back unless already announced as done (“Bless the Harts”, “Prodigal Son”, “Last Man Standing” etc). But check out the headline link above if inclined for full details of course.
ALSO IN TV
ENDEAVOR CONTENT sets Sharon Liggins as new SVP of Comms. Comes over from similar role at Ava Duvernay’s company. /Variety
💻 THE MEDIA BIZ
Doesn’t sound like Jason was too involved… or involved at all in the WARNER MEDIA / DISCOVERY plan, and may have found out only as recently as Saturday. The WSJ just did a big profile on him on Friday called “The HBOMAX Boss’s Script for a New Hollywood”.
All of which is supported by CEO David Zaslav’s description of how the deal evolved over several “secret” meetings this year at his NYC townhouse with AT&T CEO John Stankey, who literally preferred to call them “private” instead of “secret” so it… sounded better (??) at the press conference yesterday. This after the two men exchanged texts as golf buddies where the idea was first introduced. Well once they settled who’s bringing the bucket o’ White Claws of course.
Zaslav & CNN CEO Jeff Zucker also are apparently golf buddies, fueling speculation Zucker will stick around at the new WARNER DISCO company (I mean come on… it would be kinda cool if they called it that), instead of departing at the end of the year as previously planned. But I’d think it would be to run News & Sports - not the whole WARNER shebang. His infamous run leading NBC Entertainment in the late 2000’s with the “Supersized Friends” episodes and the whole 10pm Leno & Conan debacle was probably enough of that…
Zaslav also specifically emphasized how “talent friendly” he and the new company will be on his first day on the job, a… nod (?) to Kilar’s move to put all 2021 movies on HBOMAX without telling talent first. There’s already speculation that “Dune” will now get an exclusive run in theaters starting in October before it hits HBOMAX end of year vs. keeping Kilar’s whole same day HBOMAX premieres thing for 2021. But nothing official on that.
In terms of Jason’s exit terms, VARIETY had a good summation about what to expect - he already got $48 Million in stock options that had a 4 year vesting term… which most think he’ll get to keep, although it’ll probably be stock in WARNER DISCO (🤞) instead. Otherwise it looks like at least a $5 Million payout, a 1 year non-compete & non-poaching clause for WARNER MEDIA execs.
All eyes turn now toward WB CEO Ann Sarnoff who has been there just under 2 years, and longtime WB Studio head Toby Emmerich as to who might take over the WARNER MEDIA Entertainment empire and report into Zaslav. Do either of them play golf perhaps...? And hey, maybe they call up former HBO CEO Richard Plepler to round out the foursome.
Sure why not. Is there an end of May deadline for a new Best Media Deal EMMY Award that I’m not aware of? VARIETY dials the number in closer to $9 Billion, but either way MGM’s had a For Sale 💰sign since the end of last year according to the WSJ.
Currently owned by a group of Private Equity firms who… probably don’t wanna own it any longer than they have to. Although $9 Billion seems like it might be a bit high. Previous recent valuations put MGM’s worth around the $5.5 Billion range, and the largest PE firm owner was said to be looking for $7.5 Billion if it could get it. But hey obviously they’ll take $9 Billion, ya know - just so it’s a nice round number.
Although there’s really not a lotta logical buyers except for a streaming service without its own deep studio library… which leaves 3 players: AMAZON, APPLE or NETFLIX.
A $9 Billion acquisition would be a stretch for NETFLIX and with their new SONY deal, the pressure to have more established library product is off.
APPLE still seems set on keeping library product off of APPLE TV+.
So - AMAZON it is. Well if the deal goes thru, but it sounds like they’ve been in negotiations for a few months now.
But even though AMAZON had $8 Billion of profit in the first 3 months of this year alone, their total spending on TV and Movies last year was $11 Billion so, it’s still a significant investment. /The Information
ALSO IN MEDIA
If you wanna invest in a DVD kiosk company, REDBOX is now going public (via SPAC). Investors include LIONSGATE and producer Basil Iwanyk, who has a production deal there for several low budgeted action pictures. Current owner is private equity firm APOLLO CAPITAL MGMT.
REDBOX has a network of 39 Million accounts… 70% who describe themselves as “late adopters” to technology. Ya huh. /Variety
FACEBOOK’s head of OCULUS and VP partnerships is departing. Looking to go into healthcare tech. /Variety
SPOTIFY creative chief Dawn Ostroff looking for a new head of Podcasts. Ideally from a Hollywood background to oversee their growing fictional & story based in-house podcast stable. /Bloomberg
🏦 STOCK NOTES:
DISCOVERY down 5%, probably mostly a halo affect of not being acquired… but instead now the driving force of a new company.
AT&T down about 3%, but also fell another 4% more in after hours trading. See this 👇
COMCAST down over 5% - Wall Street really wanted to see a WARNER MEDIA / NBCU merger for so long.
LIONSGATE up 8% as all eyes turn toward them in the potential acquisition frenzy, equally focused on subsidiary STARZ as well as the Studio.
👩💻 NEW TO WATCH:
PBS “Frontline” : The Healthcare Divide - Looking at the growing divide between rich and poor hospitals, and how it was exasperated by Covid. Airs at 10pm or stream anytime after on the PBS App.
TV UPFRONTS: DISCOVERY 7a… this should be fun. Followed by UNIVISION 10:30a, and ABC/Disney 1p
ALSO: Gonna give a shout out 🙌 to CBS’s “The Late Late Show with James Corden”, which if you haven’t seen it lately… is really firing on all cylinders with their new pandemic format. No audience of course, so it’s now James interacting with his band and production staff in the studio before guest chats, and most recently a CBS Executive was added in as well.
Really great chemistry and just a relaxed fun late night hang, no gimmicks. If you’ve checked out the show every now and then… or maybe not since the pandemic started… highly recommend dropping in one night at 1235a.
ALSO: President Obama was on last night and was pretty hilarious - here’s a bit with him giving Life Advice to various members of that in-studio group there.
🎥 TRAILER HOUSE
PARAMOUNT “Snake Eyes” teaser trailer - Movie set in the “GI Joe” universe with Henry Golding in the lead role. Hits theaters Fri July 23.
HULU “Nine Perfect Strangers” limited series teaser. From the “Big Little Lies” people. No premiere date avail.
APPLE TV+ “The Me You Can’t See” docuseries trailer - From Oprah and Prince Harry. Premieres this Friday.
HULU “The D’Amelio Show” teaser trailer - See what life is like inside the “First Family of TIK TOK”. Yeah that seems right. No premiere date announced.
FOX and NBC dropped a bunch of trailers for their Fall series, VARIETY was kind enough to put them all on one link so check them out here if curious for a look. Includes PEACOCK’s Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” show and the one based on the “Dr. Death” podcast with Josh Jackson & Christian Slater.
🎧 PLAYING ME OFF
New ST VINCENT album dropped over the weekend with the Barney Stinson approved title of “Daddy’s Home”.
Listen here to the album on Spotify or here’s a song:
If you need new tunes:
Have tremendous Tuesday - Email me anytime - just reply to this email, or connect here on LINKED IN.