Here’s a preview of the stories we’re working on for Daily Variety tomorrow. These stories will be available on the Variety Web site after midnight Pacific Time. Sign up now to have the top stories emailed to you each day.
OPEN: Festgoers were singing in the Baz tub Wednesday night as “Moulin Rouge” kicked off the 54th fest with high kicks, hoopla and ooh-la-la. Cancan dancers lined the steps of the Palais in Cannes, greeting the film’s helmer Baz Luhrmann, stars Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor and a slew of execs — including Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch — from News Corp. and 20th Century Fox, which is distribbing the film.
NEWS: News Corp. and Fox Entertainment earnings take a whack from the disastrous $70 million pic “Monkeybone.” TV holds steadier as improved perf at Fox Network helps offset weak ad climate. Fox News and FX are bright spots, boosting cable numbers. Chernin says Fox is not necessarily interested in “financing UPN’s losses” as a partner in the net with Viacom.
TRAILERS: Sen. John McCain will be telling young moviegoers not to mess with guns this summer, but he won’t be yelling it at an ear-splitting level. On the same day the MPAA announced another reduction in the allowable decibel level for film trailers, to take effect on June 1, McCain’s office announced that he will appear in unprecedented movie trailers telling parents to keep guns locked up. Public service announcement will run on 2,600 screens from May 18 to June 18, intentionally coinciding with summer releases. Campaign run by the American for Gun Safety Foundation at a total cost of $250,000.
CURTIS: Jamie Lee Curtis has committed to topline “Halloween 8: The Homecoming” for Dimension Films and Nightfall Prods.
SYNDIE: In the first week that includes days from the May ratings sweep, four of the top six weekly hours posted week-to-week improvements, and “Entertainment Tonight Weekend” improved 52% over the same week last year.
CARSEY: The domestic distrib division of Carsey-Werner-Mandabach is following in Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distrib’s footsteps by heading off of the NATPE floor in January, opting instead to set up hospitality suites at the Venetian Hotel.
RATES: Recap of Tuesday’s sweeps highlights, which included more soft ratings for celebrity “Millionaire.”
FCC: A top Federal Communications Commission politico who oversaw the merger of AOL Time Warner while heading up the agency’s cable bureau announced on Wednesday she will resign from the key post. Deborah Lathen’s departure was widely expected, since she was appointed by former FCC topper William Kennard, a Democrat.
SUMMER: Thesps Aidan Quinn and Kevin Pollak have inked deals to star in “Stolen Summer,” the feature film from Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Miramax’s online contest “Project Greenlight.” Pic, directed by tyro helmer Pete Jones, starts lensing this month.
BALL: Rapper and music mogul Sean Combs has inked a deal to play a role in Lions Gate’s upcoming pic “Monster’s Ball,” directed by Marc Forster. Peter Boyle has also signed on for the pic which shoots this month.
USC: Robert Zemeckis will deliver the commencement address and Willliam A. Fraker will be awarded the Mary Pickford Alumni prize at the USC School of Cinema graduation gig.
TOMLIN: Lily Tomlin’s “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life …” to close on Broadway on May 20.
SOUNDSCAN: Living up to the din of buzz surrounding the group for several weeks, Destiny’s Child sold more than 660,000 copies of its new LP “Survivor,” wresting the No. 1 spot from Janet Jackson. Also opening strong were rock vet Stevie Nicks at 5 and manufactured pop group Eden’s Crush at 6.
SUNDANCE: Sundance film lab projects unveiled.
BRONSON: Nadia Bronson, former president international marketing and distribution for Universal Pictures, has formed her own full-service international marketing and distribution consultancy, Nadia Bronson Associates.
LEIGH: Mike Leigh’s untitled film starts shooting in June. The $10 million pic is the first under Leigh’s three-film deal with StudioCanal.
PAU PICKUP: French sales company Films Distribution (FD) has picked up worldwide rights to Spanish competition player “Pau and His Brother” (Pau I el seu germa), which screens today.
1974: Miramax Films has acquired the rights to “1974,” the third property the company has picked up from comedy scribe Larry Doyle, an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer of “The Simpsons” and author of New York magazine’s comic strip “Bad Publicity.”
PLANETA: Marking its promotion to Spain’s premier league of pic investors, Spanish producer-distributor Planeta 2010 has taken a co-production stake on Roman Polanski’s “The Pianist.”
RAIN SALE: France’s ARP Selection has acquired all rights for France to New Zealand pic “Rain.” The coming-of-age tale marks the feature film debut of TV commercial director, Christine Jeffs.
MK2: Claude Chabrol is preparing his next film, the $6 million “La fleur du mal” (Flower of evil), with his longtime producer, the French mini-major MK2.
INDIE DIGITAL: Independent Digital Entertainment, the N.Y. digital video collective, has appointed Denmark’s Trust Film Sales its worldwide sales rep.
JEEPERS: Capitol sells U.K. rights to Victor Salva’s “Jeepers Creepers” to Redbus.
AUDS: Cinema auds up in Europe and America by 4% and 3% respectively last year according to the European Audiovisual Observatory Wednesday. Hollywood movies still take the Top 20 world box office positions but Europe produced more films — 595 compared to the U.S.’s 461.
SYDNEY: Opening night at the 48th Sydney Film Festival will feature the world preem of Ray Lawrence’s detective drama “Lantana” starring Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey and Anthony LaPaglia.
FOX SPORTS: Fox Sports Latin America has renewed its Mexican soccer league rights for another three years, covering cable and satellite distribution in Mexico and the rest of Spanish-speaking Latin America.
KIRCH: After weeks of wrangling, German pubcasters ARD and ZDF inked a deal Wednesday with the Kirch Group for TV rights to the 2002 World Cup soccer championships in South Korea and Japan for an estimated $103 million.
NTL: U.K. cable operators NTL and Telewest are combining their advertising sales allowing clients to buy campaigns across British cable for the first time.
RIAA: The number of pirate CDs seized in 2000 rose by nearly 80% according to figures released Wednesday by the RIAA. In addition, the number of Web sites receiving warning notices from the RIAA for dubious copyright practices increased four-fold in 2000. The question is, does this reflect improved interdiction, or a dramatic increase in piracy?
HARVEY: The on-again, off-again sale of comic-book characters licenser Harvey Entertainment to New York-based entertainment company Classic Media is back on again. Classic Media, topped by former Golden Books chief Eric Ellenbogen, agreed Wednesday to buy Harvey for $17 million plus debt assumption.
BSKYB: BSkyB has signed up over 5 million digital TV subscribers, 95% of the satcaster’s DTH customer base and well ahead of the competition. But the drive into digital continued to exact a price. For the quarter ending March 31, BSkyB posted a $107 million ($152 million) loss.
ADVANCED: Financially troubled German film group Advanced Medien is in negotiations with five TV outfits for possible link-ups, according to chairman Otto Dauer.
FILM: Moulin Rouge, Angel Eyes
TV: My Louisiana Sky (Showtime)
MUSIC: Rodney Crowell, Village Underground; Ahmad Jamal, Jazz Bakery