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Maria Contreras-Sweet Bid Leads Weinstein Co Auction; Staff Would Stay, Bob Weinstein Exit, Women Lead Board

EXCLUSIVE: After a protracted bidding process, the sale of the scandal-scarred The Weinstein Company..

EXCLUSIVE: After a protracted bidding process, the sale of the scandal-scarred The Weinstein Company is close at hand, and the company will rise from the ashes with a future that will be forged by women, timely on a day when the Golden Globes is expected to be dominated by the #metoo theme, which was borne out of allegations of sexual assault and harassment by co-founder Harvey Weinstein. Maria Contreras-Sweet, former head of the U.S. Small Business Administration for the Barack Obama administration, has emerged as the frontrunner to soon complete a deal to buy the pieces and resurrect a company that will be renamed, and majority controlled by women, sources said. Ron Burkle’s Yucaipa Enterprises and Lantern Capital are minority partners in the bid, sources said. The derby isn’t quite done yet and Lionsgate is also squarely in the mix.

Bob Weinstein, who founded TWC with brother Harvey Weinstein, is expected to exit and set up his own company and take the Dimension Films name along with properties that include The Six Million Dollar Man, which has interest from both Warner Bros, and potential star Mark Wahlberg.

As Deadline reported last December, the board pored over bids –more than 20 came in, including bids for just the TV component, or the library — and the ones in the final round include Lionsgate, a Killer Content bid backed by Abigail Disney (daughter of Roy Disney), Shamrock Capital, Vine Investments, Sony (for the television business), MSD Partners, Critical Content, Versa, and Qatar-based beIN, which owns Miramax. The finalists are Contreras-Sweet, Lionsgate and Killer Content, which would for sure put women at the helm, as well as Sony, Shamrock and Vine, the latter two for the library.

Wall Street Journal reported last week that the company will sell for around $500 million, a figure I’ve also heard. That number includes a purchase around $275 million, an infusion of fresh capital, plus the assumption of liabilities and operating costs that includes keeping employed the long suffering 157 or so staffers and managers whose lives turned upside down the moment that The New York Times and The New Yorker detailed shocking first person accounts of sexual assault and harassment allegedly perpetrated by Harvey Weinstein, who was summarily fired by the board of directors.

TWC will quickly be renamed and it is all moving quickly as the intent is to complete the deal before the money runs out in February, when it would need bankruptcy protection. Phoenix might be an appropriate name given the potential turnaround here, but that is taken by Mike Medavoy’s company. There is the possibility this new company could be in motion for Sundance, where Weinstein was once the biggest buyer of prestige films, going all the way back to Steven Soderbergh’s sex lies & videotape.

If it is Contreras-Sweet who emerges victorious, she certainly puts a positive face on a company that badly needs one. Her bid has no contingencies, and solid backing. She is an immigrant from Guadalajara, Mexico and was executive chairwoman and founder of ProAmerica Band, a commercial lender to small to mid-sized business with a specialty in the Latino community. She became California’s cabinet secretary overseeing the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency before spending three years as a member of President Obama’s cabinet.

Contreras-Sweet has followed through on her pitch letter to the board of directors in late November, where she promised to not only assume liabilities but also infuse new capital to retain staff and pay suppliers. While the shock of the Weinstein scandal left those with TV or movie projects wanting to get far away with series and films that have been stalled, that stigma might be removed if this deal makes. Her bid was blessed by Gloria Allred, who will rep numerous women who file civil lawsuits against Weinstein. Included is contingency funding that will be paired with insurance policies to cover liabilities related to claims against Weinstein.

The bidder inherits a strong lineup of library titles and output deals with the likes of Netflix. Projects include the Kevin Costner-Taylor Sheridan series Yellowstone, movies like the recut Benedict Cumberbatch-Michael Shannon-starrer The Current War and the Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes musical In The Heights, Hotel Mumbai, the Armie Hammer-Dev Patel starrer Hotel Mumbai, as well as numerous other series and films. It might make possible the David O Russell-directed series with Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore, which was scrapped at Amazon even though it had a two-season commitment.

Investment banker Lloyd Greif said word has circled that it came down to Contreras-Sweet and Lionsgate, with motivations that couldn’t be more different: Lionsgate is looking to bulk up its portfolio at a time when companies are looking to grow larger in the wake of the Disney acquisition of Fox and the pending merger of AT&T and Time Warner.

“You’re either prey or predator,” Greif said. “This is an opportunity to buy on the cheap.”

In this scenario, Lionsgate would look to acquire content, but it doesn’t need or want the The Weinstein Co.’s organization. Even the tainted Weinstein brand might disappear, Greif said.

Contreras-Sweet presents a phoenix-rising-from-the ashes opportunity, in which, “The phoenix is wearing a dress,” Greif said. The ne company, he said, “will be accepted by the entertainment community at large — writers, actors and directors.”

Contreras-Sweet is the only potential acquirer who would keep the studio intact — making her the likely preferred buyer, assuming all offers are roughly equal. This option also gives The Weinstein Co.’s board to claim a modest victory at a moment of defeat. After all, the investors who were close to a megadeal with ITV that imploded when Weinstein was investigated for groping an actress/model in New York. are essentially walking away losing their investment. The board is expected to be gone in the new configuration.

“The board could say, ‘We saved all these people’s jobs!'” Greif said.

No comment from TWC.

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Adam Ray To Star In The Bellmen; The Banker Adds Taylor Black

Shutterstock, APA

EXCLUSIVE: Adam Ray is set to star as the lead in the upcoming film T..

Shutterstock, APA

EXCLUSIVE: Adam Ray is set to star as the lead in the upcoming film The Bellmen directed by Cameron Fife. The movie follows a charming bell captain at a popular Arizona resort who decides becoming a manager is the only way to win the girl of his dreams

The cast of The Bellmen also includes Josh Zuckerman, Jonathan Kite, Andrew Caldwell, Alphonzo McAuley, Willie Garson, Kelen Coleman, Anjali Bhimani, Richard Kind, and Thomas Lennon. Jason Adler, who developed the script with Fife, is producing under his production company Park Avenue Creative, along with June Street Productions. Kim Waltrip is executive producing.

Ray can be seen in Ballers as well as the second season of American Vandal which is currently streaming on Netflix. He can also be seen in the forthcoming Jennifer Lopez comedy Second Act. His previous credits include Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, and the Netflix film Game Over Man. He is repped by Gersh and Avalon.

Actress Taylor Black has been cast in The Banker, the George Nolfi-directed drama starring Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Nicholas Hoult, and Nia Long.

The fact-based pic centers on two African American entrepreneurs, Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson), in the 50s who recruit a working-class white man, Matt Steiner (Hoult) to pose as the head of their business empire while they posed as a janitor and a chauffeur. Garrett and Morris become two of the wealthiest and most successful real estate owners in the country with Steiner as their front man, but their success brings about unforeseen risk of exposure that threatens everything.

Brad Feinstein is producing the film via Romulus Entertainment, which is financing. Joel Viertel, Nolfi, Nnamdi Asomugha, Jonathan Baker, and Mackie are producers as well. Black, whose credits include the A Rainy Day In New York, and recurring roles on Midnight, Texas and Lucifer, is repped by APA and Sweeney Entertainment.

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Halloween Review: Jamie Lee Curtis Battles Michael Myers (Again) In A Treat For Horror Fans

Ever since John Carpenters original Halloween and Michael Myers first came into our orbit in 1978, i..

Ever since John Carpenters original Halloween and Michael Myers first came into our orbit in 1978, it has been the gift that keeps on giving at the box office, with so many spinoffs, sequels and reboots it is hard to keep track. From Halloweens II, III, IV and Vto a 20-year revisit in 1998 and Halloween: Resurrection in 2002, hell there even are three films just simply titled Halloween II. There seems to be no need even to hide what the film is anymore — the 2007 reboot, and the current incarnation, are using the same title as the original! It is a brand all by itself.

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Jamie Lee Curtis has been a part of four of them, and now returns as Laurie Strode in the update, set 40 years after Myers first terrorized her in Haddonfield, IL on Halloween Night 1978. Here is my advice: Forget all the Halloweens that came between that one and this one and just look at this one as the purest sequel, a battle royale between Strode and Myers that has been four decades in the making and, as I say in my video review above, is a royal treat for horror fans as new director David Gordon Green clearly has a place in his heart for what made the original a classic of the genre in the first place.

Basically the new film has much in common with Carpenters vision, as the film opens with Myers (Nick Castle) institutionalized and about to be transferred to an even harder facility on — when else — the day before Halloween. In no time the bus carrying him has flipped over and Mike is on the loose, presumably headed to Haddonfield in a truck he hijacks (disposing of the occupants) to complete some unfinished business. That “business” would be a final confrontation with Strode, who has never forgotten that 1978 hallowed night, and has prepared for decades for what she believes is Myers inevitable return to gory, er glory.

The problem, as is the case in so many of these kinds of movies, is that no one shares her concerns and basically thinks her obsession is just not realistic. After all, Myers is locked up, right? Among those doubting her fears are her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who only slowly get the message that maybe Grandma is possibly on to something. In the meantime, the focus shifts to other characters on Halloween who become catnip for Myers as he makes his way to a rematch with Laurie. Among them is Hawkins (Will Patton), the cop who was there 40 years ago and still recalls every detail, as well as Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer), MMs psychiatrist or “the new Loomis” as Strode greets him, a reference to the dispatched character Donald Pleasance played in the original.

All the acting this time around is first-rate, and thanks to the casts dedication in making you believe all this stuff is scary and happening, this 2018 Halloween ranks easily as the best since the first and is the perfect companion piece. At its heart is the fiercely defined performance of Curtis, aged up to come across as a dangerous and determined victim out for revenge and closure. Plus she has wired the house for what she knows will be Michaels arrival at any moment, and has the guns to prove it. Curtis plays this version of Strode very much on the edge, and it really works.

Green has done a great job keeping up the spirit of what makes this franchise pop, and has great help from co-screenwriters Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley who havent forgotten the roots of this saga. Happy Halloween indeed. Producers are Malek Akaad, Bill Block and Jason Blum. Universal and Blumhouse can count on making a fortune when it opens Friday just in time for…..you guessed it.

Do you plan to see Halloween? Let us know what you think.

RelatedHalloween Could Be In Store For $100M+ Global Opening Treat

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Luca Guadagnino And RT Features To Adapt Bob Dylan Album Blood On The Tracks

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Luca Guadagnino has given us summer Italian romance through Call..

Neil Hall/Shutterstock

Luca Guadagnino has given us summer Italian romance through Call Me By Your Name and supernatural dance academy conspiracies in the forthcoming remake of Suspiria. Now he is looking to tackle Bob Dylan. The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker is reteaming with RT Features for an adaptation of the legendary musicians 1975 album Blood on the Tracks.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Richard LaGravenese is set to write a script to the classic drama, which is based on an idea by RT Features Rodrigo Teixeira, who is producing with Guadagnino. RTs Sophie Mas and Lourenço Sant Anna are executive producing alongside Marco Morabito. RT Features produced Guadagninos Call Me by Your Name.

Blood on the Tracks is Dylans 15th studio album which was released by Columbia Records in 1975. The platinum-selling album, which is considered one of his greatest, include the songs “Tangled Up in Blue,” “Simple Twist of Fate” and “Shelter from the Storm.” It is ranked by Rolling Stone as the 16th greatest album of all time.

Guadagnino is represented by WME and LaGravenese and RT Features by CAA.

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