Archive for May 26th, 2009

Agent Layoffs in Hollywood Shuffle

26th May 2009 by Maura McHugh

An article on The Independent discusses the latest shake-up in Hollywood, with the merger between two agencies — William Morris and Endeavour — to create a new “super-agency” called WME Entertainment.

The agents were the first casualty of this change, with over 100 employees at William Morris being made redundant.

“Tenpercenters”, as agents are known, are notoriously sharp-elbowed, and many small firms such as Gersh now hope to convince former Endeavour clients that the new firm, WME Entertainment, will no longer offer the “boutique” service they had enjoyed.

Kevin Spacey was among the first casualties of the new era. He announced this month that, after years with William Morris, he was joining CAA. This week, by way of response, WME announced its first new signing, stealing the Lost star Matthew Fox, inset below, from ICM.

The turmoil comes as agencies weigh the cost of the recession. Box-office revenues remain robust but DVD sales have slumped and fewer films and TV shows are getting the green light. Owing to difficulties securing finance, the once extortionate salaries offered to actors and writers are being slashed. “All you ever need, to do to know what’s happening in Hollywood, is to follow the money,” said an agent at a leading Beverly Hills firm, who was not authorised to speak publicly. “Look at this year’s box office: fewer hit films are star driven. People are buying into concept movies like Terminator and Transformers. The days when $20m-a-film deals happened each week are gone. Bluntly, that means fewer jobs for agents.”

Sky Arts Theatre Live!

26th May 2009 by Maura McHugh

The Stage reports that Sky Arts will be bringing live theatre to television.

Called Sky Arts Theatre Live!, the series will draw on the talents of a specially-formed company of actors and directors, who will stage new work from novelists such as Kate Mosse, who penned the book Labyrinth, and crime writer Nicci French.

Each of the 30-minute plays will be broadcast live on Sky Arts 1 from a purpose-built Theatre Live! studio in West London, which will hold 140 invited audience members.

Production of each author’s original work will be overseen by Sandi Toksvig, who came up with the idea for Sky Arts Theatre Live! and has been appointed artistic director of the newly formed Theatre Live! company, which also includes Fiona Laird, Sue Tully and John Alderton as directors, and actress Pauline Collins. Further casting has yet to be announced.

Toksvig described the series as “genuine reality television” and said: “Live drama has a rawness and immediacy in which anything can happen.”

Other novelists who will write plays for the series include Jeremy Hardy, Morag Joss, Michael Dobbs and Jackie Kay. Rehearsals for each of their plays will begin at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, before being broadcast live from the purpose-built studio.

Each programme, hosted by Toksvig, will begin with behind-the-scenes footage detailing the making of each play.