Hollywood draws a breath after major upheavals; Nat Geo WILD offers up animals docs with your turkey and stuffing; and more homes are going to get renovated in Laurel, Mississippi.
Death Star Rising
This may not seem like a big deal to anyone outside Los Angeles, but if you're someone who enjoys entertainment, you will feel the ripple effect.
From the Los Angeles Business Journal:
Creative Artists Agency [CAA] has acquired rival ICM Partners in a sale marking a seismic shift in Hollywood’s representation landscape.
The merger reduces Hollywood’s biggest agencies, previously dubbed the Big Four, to just three.
It also marks the biggest talent agency acquisition since Endeavor Group Holdings Inc. — the holding company of talent agency WME — bought International Management Group, or IMG, in 2014 for $2.2 billion.
The merger (if regulators approve it) shifts the Hollywood landscape, concentrating the representation for many of entertainment's top stars and creators in one mega-agency -- and agents do more than just book gigs.
Bryan Lourd, a partner, managing director and co-chairman at CAA, represents actress Scarlett Johansson. She recently sued Disney for releasing her film Black Widow on streaming as well as in theaters, claiming that cut into the money she would earn.
Lourd championed Johansson in her suit. As the article further points out:
After Disney claimed Johansson’s suit had “no merit,” Lovett defended her, saying, “Disney’s direct attack on her character and all else they implied is beneath the company.”'
The parties settled, but with movies increasingly taking the hybrid theater/streaming route, studios are going to have to be more careful in structuring contracts -- and think twice about the power balance between themselves and their stars.
All of this may also affect where and when we see movies, as the industry figures out how to simultaneously deal with the rise of streaming services and the ongoing pandemic fallout.
As the content producers and distributors enter a new stratosphere of consolidated power, CAA wants to send the message that it can flex its muscle through its access to many of the biggest names in the industry.
After all, CAA's glass-walled monolith of a building on Avenue of the Stars in Century City isn't called the Death Star for nothing.
Strike or No Strike
While the CAA/ICM merger pressures Hollywood from the top, the industry also faced a revolt from below -- below the line, that is. This phrase refers to the people responsible for the day-to-day work of making films and TV, during pre-production, production and post-production.
These folks usually work for hourly wages -- and lately, they haven't been happy, especially the people working on films and series for the big streaming services.
With complaints about low wages, long hours, lack of holidays, etc., the union that represents many of these workers, called IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees), took a strike vote.
The vote passed overwhelmingly, and Hollywood spent a tense weekend seeing if the negotiators for IATSE and AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) could come to an agreement.
A new pact was announced on Sunday, Oct. 17, the day before the strike was supposed to start.
From Vanity Fair:
The proposed contract, the union wrote in a release Sunday, “addresses core issues, including reasonable rest periods; meal breaks; a living wage for those on the bottom of the pay scale; and significant increases in compensation to be paid by new-media companies”
“This is a Hollywood ending,” IATSE International president Matthew Loeb said in a statement: "Our members stood firm. We are tough and united."
If the membership approves the new deal (detailed here), Hollywood (and all other places in the U.S. and Canada where film and TV are made) can get back to work. According to the latest news, ratification looks likely.
After all, they don't call it show business for nothing.
Happy Vetsgiving From Nat Geo WILD
From Monday, Nov. 22 to Sunday, Nov. 28, Nat Geo WILD returns with its annual Vetsgiving celebration.
“Veterinarians deserve recognition for the important work they do to care for our pets, livestock and wildlife,” says Janet Han Vissering, senior vice president of Development and Production at National Geographic Partners. “Nat Geo WILD’s Vetsgiving is our way of showing them how much they are appreciated, especially the dedicated professionals featured in our veterinarian-focused programs.”
Each night, starting at 8 p.m. ET/PT, the lineup features four hours of veterinarian shows, including Heartland Docs, DVM; Critter Fixers: Country Vets; Hatcher Family Dairy; The Incredible Dr. Pol; Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet; and Vets on the Beach.
The event also features a special sneak peek of the new animal-dermatology series Pop Goes the Vet With Dr. Joya., on Thursday, Nov. 25, at 11 p.m. ET/PT, and on Saturday, Nov. 27, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The series is set to premiere next spring.
More details here.
More Home Town
Response was great when we wrote last spring about HGTV's Home Town, the hit series featuring Ben and Erin Napier's efforts to rehab houses for new and current residents of their hometown of Laurel, Mississippi.
In the meantime, Erin gave birth to the couple's second daughter, Mae, joining their three-year-old, Helen.
Back in August, HGTV revealed that it had ordered a 20-episode season 6 of Home Town, along with its spin-off Home Town: Ben's Workshop, which got a 10-episode second season.
“Home Town is not just about renovations, it’s about the power of community,” said Jane Latman, president of HGTV.
In an Oct. 4 Instagram post, Erin revealed that filming is underway for season 6. Home Town and Home Town: Ben's Workshop will air on HGTV in early 2022 and also stream on Discovery+.
After all, they don't call it HGTV (originally Home & Garden TV) for nothing.
Image: Adobe Stock
Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager at Family Theater Productions.