SWEET DEALS Genius TV producer Steven Bochco (”NYPD Blue”) has scored one of the most expensive deals in television history, signing a four-to-five-year contract with Paramount Network Television worth $45-50 million. Unlike previous Bochco production deals, this one isn’t tied to a specific network…. ”The Blair Witch Project”‘s filmmaking team (Daniel Myrick, Eduardo Sanchez, Mike Monello, Robin Cowie, and Gregg Hale) have signed a two-year contract with 20th Century Fox TV and Regency TV to develop television shows. We’re scared!
CLARIFICATION Gov. Jesse Ventura will return to the WWF ring as a guest referee, NOT as a wrestler. Ventura announced yesterday that he will bring ”law and order” to the WWF’s pay-per-view wrestling fest ”SummerSlam” on Aug. 22.
LEGAL BRIEF Eddie Murphy is being sued by a ”Bowfinger” sound technician who claims the comedian damaged his hearing when he fired unscripted shots from a prop gun. Reportedly, Murphy fired the extra rounds to entertain the set, but the crew member alleges he received no warning and suffered hearing loss.
CASTING Robin Wright Penn and Kenneth Branagh have signed to play husband and wife in the low-budget ”How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog.” The comedy, about a sleepless L.A. playwright (Branagh) and his young neighbor being kept awake by a local dog, will mark the directorial debut of screenwriter Michael Kalesniko (”Private Parts”)…. Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei and Vincent D’Onofrio will star in ”Happy Accidents” for IFC Films. Directed by Brad Anderson (”Next Stop Wonderland”), ”Accidents” will follow a 411 operator (Tomei) who falls for a man with a dubious past (D’Onofrio)…. Jennifer Tilly will join Richard Dreyfuss, Burt Reynolds, and Carrie-Anne Moss in Buena Vista’s ”The Crew.” The comedy, directed by Michael Dinner, trails four over-the-hill mobsters who stage a murder to keep yuppies out of their Miami neighborhood.
TUBE WATCH CBS will tone down a crime drama, ”Falcone”, and use it as a mid-season replacement next year. The Tiffany network had kept the Mob-themed series (it’s based on the 1997 Al Pacino-Johnny Depp pic, ”Donnie Brasco”) off its fall lineup because of the country’s post-Columbine sensitivity to violence on TV. CBS has ordered eight shows but will reedit the pilot to decrease the number of violent scenes.
OUT Time Warner’s studio-exec team Terry Semel and Bob Daly (co-CEOs) announced yesterday that they will leave their posts at the end of the year. Although the studio heads have not announced why they’re resigning, it is expected that they will continue to work together. The news, which was made official during a Time Warner board meeting in New York, comes right after the company announced substantial financial growth in the last quarter, at least partly due to such film division hits as ”The Matrix” and ”Analyze This.” Semel joined TW in 1975, Daly in 1980.