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Major Comings and Goings in Hollywood's Big Leagues 

For Whom the Ax Falls

Wednesday, Mar 19 2008
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From Nikki Finke’s DeadlineHollywoodDaily

Vince Vaughn Ax Like Lizzie Borden

I broke the news that Vince Vaughn has axed his manager, Eric Gold, and his agency, United Talent. Someone close to the actor told me he did it by cell phone. He’s still with his attorney, Debbie Klein. He’d been a UTA client since 1993 (three years before his breakout Swingers, which was partly filmed in the apartment of an agency assistant) and a Gold client since 2005’s Wedding Crashers. Vaughn is telling people that he made the moves because his manager and his agency “didn’t get along at all” and it was too much drama in his life. However, I’ve heard from a lot of moguls in Hollywood that Vaughn was quite adept at making his own off-camera drama on nearly every recent movie he’s done. Vaughn’s last movie, Fred Claus, did little business. A $20-million-per-pic star, he recently contracted for a two-year, first-look producing deal with Universal and his Wild West Picture Show Productions, which is run by his sister.

Who! Did This to Jim Carrey?

I’ve heard that Jim Carrey used to follow a cardinal rule when it came to acting: that you don’t take the character out of the context of the movie. And I’ve seen him at the Golden Globes talking out of his ass, the way he did in Ace Ventura, but it was his idea, not Warner’s. Nevertheless, there was Carrey, dressed in a really sad elephant costume, selling out bigtime on Fox’s American Idol to plug Horton Hears a Who! from the same studio. Granted, the comic’s career has been DOA at the box office in recent years. (His previous film, The Number 23, was a huge flop for New Line. And last summer, he accepted what Hollywood considered the worst talent deal ever for a movie.) But Carrey received a whopping $8 million for his voice-over work on Horton, the result of a sop from Fox studio bosses after they’d pulled the plug on the $112 mil comedy Used Guys he’d planned to do with Ben Stiller back in 2006.

So, during Idol’s Wednesday-night elimination show, Ryan Seacrest intro’d Carrey, who sat in the audience looking embarrassed in an elephant head, elephant ears, elephant trunk, elephant torso and elephant feet. Then, this really inside bit of Industry banter ensued:

“This wouldn’t be a Fox film?” Seacrest asked Carrey.

“Uh-oh. Busted!” Carrey answered. “You like to point out the elephant in the room, don’tcha? Yeah, it’s a bit of cross-promotion. When you do a movie with Fox, you’re contractually obligated to do a certain amount of that, you know.” (See the YouTube clip.)

It got worse. Out of costume, Carrey sat with the Top 12 contestants just as they were about to hear who was being voted off the show. Seacrest got in Carrey’s face: “Buddy, I got to get to these results. America’s voted. They love you. But, Jim, we already did the plug.” With that, Carrey was ushered offstage. There were no great bits. No big laughs. Some on the Internet later accused Carrey of “shameless promotion.” To me, it was just senseless humiliation.

Metropolitan Not Closing

The rumors began Monday, and then heated up because of an erroneous Hollywood Reporter story Tuesday. “People have been predicting my demise for 30 years,” Metropolitan talent agency topper Chris Barrett told me. But the agency has been going through tough times, worsened by the recent writers’ strike. So the tenpercentery has downsized to a dramatic degree: Where it once had 20 agents at its height, and then a dozen agents before the writers’ strike, Metropolitan will now consist of Barrett and two or three agents (including his sister-in-law Sara Schedeen) plus support staff handling clients, he says. “It will not look like it did before. It’ll be a speed bump, not a battleship,” Barrett tells me. “We’re absolutely not closing. But I don’t want to run a company. I want to focus on clients.” Barrett concedes that tough times led to groups of agents leaving or being let go. “The writers’ strike and current de facto strike had something to do with my decision,” he says. “Those are symptoms of a much larger disruption of the economy of show business.” He does have an allied software business he says is thriving, MTA Interactive.

Get Those Résumés Ready

Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures and, yes, still Paramount Pictures now have gaps in their PR folds. The latest to exit is Stacy Ivers, senior V.P. of media relations, who flacked for Marc Schmuger and David Linde for the past 18 months after coming over from Warner Bros. (Ivers showed remarkable restraint during my coverage crapping on Evan Almighty.) The job will now report to Michael Moses. And the woman who took her place there, Andrea Marozas, just left her position at Warner Bros. Pictures as senior V.P. of corporate communications, theatrical, for a cushy job as V.P. of internal communications at Hewlett-Packard. (I drove Marozas to the brink when I spanked her boss, Jeff Robinov.) There’s a possibility the job won’t be refilled, but that would be ridiculous.

Disney, for a long time, didn’t replace Dennis Rice when he left his job in the motion-picture division as senior V.P. of publicity to come over to United Artists as czar of marketing. Then, last May, the studio quietly promoted Teri Meyer to the newly created position of executive V.P. of worldwide publicity for Walt Disney Studios motion-picture marketing, and Jasmine Madatian, even more quietly, to head of domestic publicity. But Paramount still has a big (and high-paying) PR opening, ever since Janet Hill was dumped as Brad Grey’s exec V.P. of corporate communications last June. Meanwhile, NYC-based Steven Rubenstein (the son of PR legend Howard, a.k.a. “The Fixer”) has been fielding media calls for Brad while the studio continues to interview. Steven, in turn, is looking to add a bigtime entertainment PR exec for Rubenstein Communications.

There’ve also been PR changes at two of Hollywood’s talent agencies. David Shane recently left ICM after three years as senior V.P. of corporate communications to take the hefty job of senior V.P. and head of the corporate and entertainment practices at Weber Shandwick, Los Angeles, where ICM is now a client. (Shane deftly disarmed me when I kept reloading during the Limato-Silbermann war.) His No. 2 at ICM, Michelle Suess, was promoted to V.P. of corporate communications. At William Morris, Christian Muirhead was upped to the agency’s V.P. of corporate communications after Cecile Ablack didn’t last long as Jim Wiatt’s hand-picked senior V.P. of global corporate communications. (Words cannot express how I disliked this rude bitch.)

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