Inside Moves

Brillstein-Grey brand becomes more Basic

Four years after the reins of the management-production company were handed to Brad Grey, Brillstein-Grey Entertainment has undergone a name change to Basic Entertainment.

Grey told Daily Variety that he renamed BGE as a way of “branding” the various components of the company under one simple moniker.

“As the company continues to grow, it felt naturally appropriate to try to brand all of our entertainment businesses under one name,” Grey said.

Basic Entertainment will now serve as the holding company that operates all of Grey’s entertainment ventures, including Brad Grey Television (formerly Brillstein-Grey Television, producer of hit shows such as “Just Shoot Me,” “The Sopranos” and “Politically Incorrect”), the TV production arm that has a 50-50 joint venture with Columbia TriStar TV.

BGE’s feature arm — which has a production pact with Miramax Films — will now operate under the Basic banner as Brad Grey Pictures.

The company’s upstart new-media division will be named Basic Interactive.

Though company founder Bernie Brillstein has not been a partner in the company for four years, the management arm of Basic will continue to operate as Brillstein-Grey Management.

Of the new name, Brillstein said: “It’s cool. Everyone has a generic name these days in order to brand their companies; and this is what we’ve always done — nothing fancy, just basic entertainment.”

Brillstein continues to manage clients from his office at BGE, now Basic, which has been solely owned by Grey after he bought out his former partner in 1995.

— Chris Petrikin and Josef Adalian

‘Millionaire’ eyes cache advance

A million goes a long way — and now ABC is hoping its hit gameshow “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” can go a bit longer.

With the Alphabet web in a position to win a major sweeps for the first time in years, execs at the net are seriously considering extending the show’s current 15-night run by a few extra nights. The show is now slated to wrap Sunday night, but under one scenario making the rounds at ABC Monday, “Millionaire” could air through Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 24.

Such a move could give ABC the extra padding it needs to pull out a sweeps victory, while at the same time playing havoc with the competish. CBS, for example, has a Celine Dion music spec slated for Nov. 24 at 8 p.m.

If ABC is feeling particularly greedy, it could keep “Millionaire” on through Sunday, Nov. 28, perhaps taking Thanksgiving off. That might be difficult for the show’s producers, who will already face a tough task trying to extend “Millionaire” for even three more nights.

But even if the producers aren’t able to keep producing original “Millionaires” through the end of sweeps, ABC could also rebroadcast “Best of” episodes from the summer and November runs. Any decision to extend “Millionaire” is expected to come as early as today.

— Josef Adalian and Mike Schneider

Donners pitch Castro to De Niro

And heeere’s the pitch:

Picture a bearded dictator from a communist island nation who is fond of cigars, long speeches … and baseball. Yearning to experience the World Series, he dons a disguise and wings to Gotham to see the imperialistas norteamericanos play at Yankee Stadium.

Now picture that Fidel Castro is Robert De Niro.

That’s the package coming together between helmer Richard Donner and producer Lauren Shuler-Donner’s Warner Bros.-based Donners Co. and De Niro’s Gotham-based Tribeca Films outfit, whose producing partner Jane Rosenthal is shepherding the project for the thesp.

Scribe Allan Scott wrote the original treatment, which excited the Donners, who quickly got De Niro on board to play El Jefe. Titled “Yanqui,” the project’s moniker refers both to the Hispanic expression for an American and to Fidel himself as the ultimate Yankees fan.

De Niro has previously portrayed such real-life historical figures as Al Capone (“The Untouchables”) and Jake La Motta (“Raging Bull”).

There’s no deal is place yet for the property, which insiders said is heating up as the Donners are taking it to studios this week.

Richard Donner is repped by AMG, while CAA handles De Niro. Scott is repped by ICM and manager Robert Littman.

Castro is widely known as an avid beisbol fan, having played for the Cuban military team Los Barbudos (“The Bearded Ones”) in his fledgling years as a revolutionary supremo, supposedly pitching two scoreless innings in 1959 that left a local club stumped.

Less verifiable reports tell of a younger Castro who is said to have been offered a minor league contract by the erstwhile New York Giants in the late 1940s. The tyro revolutionary also supposedly tried out for the Washington Senators (now the Minnesota Twins) and failed, prompting a late ’50s return to Cuba and the far more satisfying 40-year career as dictator.

— Christian Moerk

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