NEWS ROUNDUP

DGA Ready for Talks With APMTP

Plus: ''Late Show'' and ''Late Late Show'' to pay employees during WGA strike, Don Imus gets TV deal with rural-focused RFD-TV, TLC bringing Paige Davis back for revamped ''Trading Spaces,'' and more...

DGA Negotiating Chairman Gil Cates
Image credit: Alexandra Wyman/WireImage.com
DGA Negotiating Chairman Gil Cates

DGA ready to start talks
The Directors Guild of America is likely to start talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers some time next month, though the ongoing writers strike could complicate matters. Gil Cates is set to chair the DGA negotiating committee that has been named for the next round of talks with the AMPTP. The committee, which will work closely with an executive group led by DGA executive director Jay Roth, has already met several times to work out a negotiations strategy. The DGA's current contract expires on June 30, and the Guild typically works out a deal with the AMPTP about six months before that expiration date. However, with the Writers Guild of America currently on strike, the AMPTP could feasibly be pulled back into talks with writers at any time, which could cause a delay for DGA negotiations if the directors opt to see how the writers' talks play out before starting their own. That said, insiders suggest that the DGA does not feel that the WGA has to work out a resolution before it can hammer out its own contract. Two key issues for the directors' talks are "cost recoupment" (a revision to compensation formulas to allow studios to recoup certain basic costs before paying any residuals in the future) and Internet residuals. It is understood that the DGA will not even start talks until cost recoupment is taken off the table, but most insiders say that it's likely that pre-negotiation assurances can be put in place to get the two sides talking soon. (Hollywood Reporter)

Letterman, Ferguson employees will be paid through WGA strike
Even with the writers strike keeping late night shows dark, employees of The Late Show with David Letterman and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson will be paid through the end of the year. The programs' production company, Worldwide Pants Inc., informed employees on Tuesday (Nov. 13) that they would be paid regardless of whether their show returned. Worldwide Pants, owned by Letterman, is the first known company to guarantee its staff a paycheck during the writers' strike. Other shows, like NBC's The Tonight Show, have told their employees to expect to be idled as the strike continues through its second week. Unlike Letterman, Tonight Show host Jay Leno does not own the production company putting on his late night talk show. (Hollywood Reporter)

Imus gets TV deal with rural network
Embattled radio jock Don Imus, who returns to the airwaves Dec. 3 on WABC-AM, will debut the same day on the seven-year-old cable and satellite television station RFD-TV, which caters to the interests of rural America and agriculture. Through a five-year deal with the channel, Imus' show will be will be simulcast on weekdays from 6-9 a.m., available to RFD's nearly 30 million homes through on-demand services, and then rebroadcast again from 6-9 p.m. Nashville-based RFD has a mostly rural audience that receives programming like The Cattle Show, National Tractor Pulling, and the Largent and Sons Hereford Cattle Auction. (Hollywood Reporter)

TLC bringing back Paige Davis to renewed Trading Spaces
Hell's Kitchen, for a revamped version of Trading Spaces, which could launch as soon as January. The show will maintain its format, with two teams doing makeovers on each other's homes on a budget of $1,000, but the casting will get more creative. Arthur Smith, who will exec produce with Kent Weed and Frank Sinton, said the show might now focus on a divorced couple or dueling mothers-in-law. ''You might have a little more conflict and drama than you had before,'' Weed said. Since Davis left Spaces two years ago, the show's ratings have slumped from its former spot as Saturday night's No. 1 cable show. TLC executives also attribute the show's decline to a glut of copycat designing shows now on television. In addition to Davis, a number of designers are returning, including Doug Wilson, Laurie Hickson-Smith, Frank Bielec, and Hildi Santo-Thomas. After leaving Spaces, Davis inked a development deal with King World Television (now CBS Paramount) and returned to her theater roots, starring in Chicago and Sweet Charity. (Variety)

Broadway strike talks scheduled for weekend
Theater owners and producers will meet with striking stagehands this weekend for the first time since the stagehand walkout began last Saturday (Nov. 10). The strike has forced some 25 Broadway shows to go dark, including Chicago, The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Hairspray. The League of American Theaters and Producers says the strike is costing about $17 million for every day it lasts. The dispute revolves around a new set of work rules for stagehands and the specific duties they perform. Producers have complained that they now have to pay for long stretches of idle time. (Reuters)

Eisenberg, Bartha starring in Holy Rollers
Jesse Eisenberg (The Squid and the Whale) and Justin Bartha (Failure to Launch) will star as drug-dealing Hasidic Jews in director Kevin Asch's comic drama Holy Rollers.. The movie, being tossed in the emerging ''Jewsploitation'' genre, is a ripped-from-the-headlines tale about an impressionable youth (Eisenberg) from an Orthodox Brooklyn community who is lured into becoming an Ecstasy dealer by a friend (Bartha) with ties to an Israeli drug cartel. Newcomer Danny Abeckaser has been cast as the owner of a club where they do their business. Antonio Macia's screenplay is loosely based on the real-life story of Hasidim who were recruited in the 1990s as mules to smuggle drugs into the U.S. Production is slated to begin in the spring. Eisenberg will next appear in Greg Mottola's Adventureland. Bartha recently wrapped Shoe at Your Foot and appears in the upcoming National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets. Abeckaser's upcoming projects include Gardener of Eden. Rollers will be Asch's feature directorial debut. (Hollywood Reporter)

Newcomer Alden Ehrenreich cast in Coppola's Tetro
Hollywood newbie Alden Ehrenreich will star in Francis Ford Coppola's family drama Tetro as a young man journeying to Buenos Aires to find his brother, who left the family years earlier. Ehrenreich's only credits are an episode of CBS' CSI and an episode of the CW's Supernatural. Steven Spielberg is credited with discovering Ehrenreich at a bat mitzvah, where the teenager had done a video for a friend. Maribel Verdu (Pan's Labyrinth) has also been cast as the brother's girlfriend, and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) is in talks to play an Argentinean literary critic named Unknown. Production on Tetro is scheduled to start in February. (Hollywood Reporter)

Oprah Winfrey picks Follet's Thrillers for book club
Oprah Winfrey has picked Ken Follett's 1989 novel The Pillars of the Earth as the next selection in her book club. The best-selling Welsh novelist's 973-page tome is a love story set in England in the 12th century. According to his Web site, the book still sells around 100,000 copies a year in the United States alone. Follet reportedly has 90 million readers worldwide and recently signed with Penguin Group (USA), which last month released his latest book, World Without End, for a planned multigenerational trilogy set in the 20th century. (Hollywood Reporter)

DreamWorks cuts deal with Imax
DreamWorks and Imax have pacted on a deal that will put the production company's first three 3-D animated features on Imax's giant screens. Monsters vs. Aliens and How to Train Your Dragon (both due in 2009) and 2010's Shrek Goes Forth will be available in Imax 3-D, along with digital 3-D on regular screens. It is expected the DreamWorks movies will be released using Imax's digital 3-D projection system, which is scheduled to launch in June, 2008. The deal also has Imax carrying next spring's animated DreamWorks project Kung Fu Panda, but not in 3-D. (Variety)

PGA Awards' TV nominees announced
HBO’s Entourage and Extras, NBC’s The Office and 30 Rock, and ABC’s Ugly Betty were nominated Wednesday (Nov. 14) for the Producers Guild’s top comedy honor, while Showtime’s Dexter, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Lost, NBC’s Heroes, Fox’s House, and HBO’s The Sopranos were nominated in the drama category. Film and longform television nominees will be announced in early January, and the awards ceremony will take place Feb. 2 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. (Variety)

CELEBRITY NEWS

Page Six: In his new book on sexual facts, Where Do Nudists Keep Their Hankies?, Mitchell Simons writes that Clint Eastwood, David Duchovny, Bruce Willis, and Jerry Hall lost their virginity at 14, and Johnny Depp, James Caan, and Jon Bon Jovi were just 13. Meanwhile, Don Johnson was a mere 12.

Rush & Molloy: Alicia Keys skipped an appearance at a New York club on Tuesday (Nov. 13) night promoting her new record As I Am, allegedly because club promoters came up about $4,000 short on the negotiated fee. Keys' manager, Jeff Robinson, refutes that report, however, saying she didn't perform simply because ''there was a lot of mismanagement by these club promoters.''

Originally posted Nov 15, 2007