Top Story: The Donald Fires Kwame, Hires Bill
Bill Rancic, a Chicago-based cigar company entrepreneur, prevailed in the cutthroat game of corporate politics played in NBC’s hit reality series to be named real estate mogul Donald Trump’s first Apprentice. In the two-hour finale of the show Rancic barely beat out Wall Street investment manager Kwame Jackson, securing a $250,000-a-year job supervising construction of a new Trump skyscraper in Chicago and a new Chrysler Crossfire. Reuters reports Rancic told reporters after the show that he thought his agility and adaptability had helped him win, along with a preference for micromanaging, which Trump advocated in his latest book. Jackson, however, freely admitted many times during the finale that he preferred not to be a micromanager. “Today is a great day for entrepreneurs around the country,” Rancic gushed. “And it’s probably the biggest day of my life.” On the other hand, calling himself “an unadulterated capitalist,” Jackson promised, “you’ll see me cutting deals all across the board,” starting with his new TV, video game and live event production company.
Schwarzenegger Appoints Friends to Film Board
In an effort to bolster the film business in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named former Twins co-star Danny DeVito and actor/director Clint Eastwood to the California Film Commission, a 26-member group that will encourage filmmakers to make films in the Golden State and will work to reduce taxes and other liabilities that make Hollywood less attractive to filmmakers, Reuters reports. “The mission is very important to keep production here,” Schwarzenegger said at a press conference Thursday, referring to the flight of Hollywood productions to other countries such as Canada and the Czech Republic, many of which offer incentives to film there. “We want to make sure that Hollywood becomes the booming town it once was.” Others on the board include actor/director Bill Duke and producers Lili Zanuck and Tom Werner.
HIV Scare Shuts Down Porn Industry
California’s multibillion-dollar adult porn industry ground to a virtual halt on Thursday after a popular actor, Darren James, tested positive for the HIV virus, Reuters reports. James tested positive for HIV on Wednesday in a screening conducted routinely on the industry’s 1,200 regular actors by the Adult Industry Medical Healthcare (AIM) Foundation, the foundation’s Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell told Reuters. They must show negative tests to keep working in the industry, Mitchell said, adding that only about 17 percent of performers use condoms. Mitchell said James might have contracted the virus about four weeks ago while filming in Brazil on a “non-condom” set. Industry advocates immediately called for a 60-day suspension on filming so that others James may have infected could be tested.
Cobain Biopic Planned
The WB Network is developing an original movie about late rock icon Kurt Cobain, the frontman for the band Nirvana who shot himself in 1994. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network has obtained the rights to Charles Cross’ 2001 book Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain, could be aired as early as next season. The day Kurt Cobain died was the day the music died for a generation,” Tana Nugent Jamieson, senior VP of the WB’s new longform original programming unit, told the Reporter. “His story is perfect for our audience.” No casting or director is attached.
American Idol Be Damned!
After the surprising success of Idol reject William Hung, the WB is also launching a new reality series called The WB’s Superstar USA, in which the contestants are unaware of the true nature of the show–that the judges are looking for “singers” who do not really sing that well, Reuters reports. The show, which the network calls “an off-key version of the red hot performance reality genre,” will air over seven episodes beginning May 17.
All-Gay Cabler Launches
Here! TV, a supplier of gay and lesbian-oriented content to satellite customers via pay-per-view, is eyeing an Oct. 1 launch for a round-the-clock programming service that will feature classic and original films and TV shows, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Some of Here!’s original content includes series Dante’s Cove, a gay and lesbian Gothic horror thriller and Weapons of Mass Destruction, a spy thriller.
Role Call: Malkovich Hitches Ride to Galaxy
John Malkovich has signed to do the feature film adaptation of the classic Douglas Adams novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The story follows an undercover alien, Ford Prefect, who sets off on an intergalactic journey with his best friend and the film’s protagonist, earthling Arthur Dent. The duo hitch a ride through space–with the two-headed ex-hippie Zaphod; his girlfriend, the beautiful scientist Trillion; and a robot–to discover the meaning of life. Galaxy begins shooting this month in London, with Garth Jennings at the helm and stars Mos Def, Martin Freeman, Zooey Deschanel and Sam Rockwell. Malkovich will play religious cult leader Humma Kavula.