Oprah renews talk show through 2011
Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, arguably the most influential person on TV, has renewed a contract that will take her daytime show to 2011. Reuters reports the new three-year deal with distributor King World Productions starts in 2008 and will take The Oprah Winfrey Show to its 25th year of syndication. Winfrey's Harpo Productions Inc., Viacom Inc.-owned CBS Enterprises and King World Productions announced the contract renewal Thursday. Since its U.S. national premiere in 1986, The Oprah Winfrey Show has gone through several formats, including one that once strayed into the same trashy realms as her dubious competitors. But the talk show stabilized its core audience with the popular once-a-month feature Oprah's Book Club, and at the start of her 13th season in 1998 and launched "change your life television," featuring self-help segments led by John Gray, Suze Ormond and Dr. Phil. In its 18-year history, the show has won 38 Emmy awards, been distributed to 107 countries and been a top-rated talk show in the United States for the past 18 years. "The thought of taking the show to its 25th anniversary is both exhilarating and challenging," Winfrey, 50, said in a statement.
Grammys to be held in L.A.
Next year's 47th annual Grammy Awards will be held again in Los Angeles, on Feb. 13, Reuters reports. The Grammys have traditionally shifted between New York and Los Angeles, but in recent years have been held more frequently in California after a clash between former Grammy head Michael Greene and former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who accused Greene of verbally berating one of his staffers in 1998. The Grammys were held in Los Angeles for four straight years following the feud, but moved to Madison Square Garden in New York in 2003 after proposals from current Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Greene has since resigned and was replaced in 2002 by Neil Portnow. The Grammys, which will be staged at the Staples Center, will be telecast live on CBS. Nominees will be announced on Dec. 8 in Los Angeles.
Bryan Singer out of X-Men 3
Twentieth Century Fox has terminated its two-year deal with X-Men director Bryan Singer now that he has agreed to revive the Superman franchise at Warner Bros. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Fox had held discussions with Singer to direct X-Men 3 but it had never sealed the deal, which wasn't part of his overall pact with the studio. Singer has begun working out of Superman's production offices at Warner, where he is also developing a Logan's Run remake.
Madonna to open Kabbalah school in NYC
Madonna is spending $21.6 million to set up a Kabbalah school in New York, the Miami Herald reports. According to Britain's Sun tabloid, the school, to be named the Kabbalist Grammar School for Children, will teach primary-age youngsters about the ancient Jewish mysticism. Parents who want to enroll their kids in the school must be Kabbalists. There will reportedly be a strict entry policy that will involve an academic test for the child and a family interview. The Sun reports parents will have to pay upwards of $3,600 for a semester.
Project Greenlight to develop commercial horror pic
Matt Damon, who is leading the reality TV series Project Greenlight through its third season with Ben Affleck, told Reuters in an interview they received pretty strict "marching orders" from Miramax Films to produce a money-making hit this time round. Greenlight's first two films, Stolen Summer and The Battle of Shaker Heights both tanked at the box office. Dimension Films, Miramax's genre unit, has opted for a horror film script to develop this year and has set a $1 million budget.
FEC dismisses petition to bar Fahrenheit ads
The Federal Election Commission dismissed Thursday a conservative advocacy group's petition to bar TV ads for Michael Moore's documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, under claims the commercials breached federal restrictions on "electioneering" activity, Reuters reports. Federal election laws prohibit companies and unions from advertising for or against political candidates 60 days before an election and 30 days before a political convention. Moore has said he intended for the film to help persuade Americans to vote against President Bush in November. But the FEC found no evidence that the film's ads had broken the law or that distributors of the film intended any violations in the future.
Spike Lee's 40 Acres downsizes
Spike Lee's production company, 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, is going through a "tactical retrenchment," according to Sam Kitt, the company's longtime, Los Angeles-based co-principal. Kitt told Reuters the downsizing is due in part to the expiration of an exclusive first-look deal on theatrical projects with Walt Disney Studios that ran from February 2002-June 2003. Disney has released three of Lee's last five feature projects, including the 2002's 25th Hour. 40 Acres has been a pioneering entity on the indie film landscape since the late 1980s and a driving force behind the emergence of new generation of black filmmakers.
Jackson's attorney's want list of seized evidence
According to a complaint filed in Santa Maria court Thursday, Michael Jackson's attorneys say they have not received lists of items seized during searches by authorities in the singer's child molestation and conspiracy case, the AP reports. The defense also said it had received a list of items seized in only 18 of the searches, adding it had no way of knowing if the information was complete and accurate. Jackson, 45, is charged with committing a lewd act upon a child, administering an intoxicating agent and conspiring to commit child abduction, false imprisonment and extortion. He is free on $3 million bail.
Rosie turning cruise trip into documentary
Rosie O'Donnell, whose R Family Vacations chartered a gay family cruise to Key West and the Bahamas from July 11-18, is turning the trip into a documentary for HBO, Reuters reports. The cruise hosted 500 same-sex families on the weeklong adventure. O'Donnell and her partner, Kelli, will executive produce the documentary, which will air next year, with Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary and Family. O'Donnell has worked with HBO before on family special the Rosie O'Donnell's Kids Are Punny and a stand-up special, HBO Comedy Hour.