Plus: Johnny Depp developing Russian spy movie, Steve Martin writing his life story, and more...

By Mike Bruno
Updated August 03, 2020 at 08:07 PM EDT
Paula Abdul: Jesse Grant/

New Bravo series gives backstage look at Paula Abdul
Bravo has just issued a press release announcing that it is launching a new ”fly-on-the-wall” docu-series that will provide an inside perspective on life of the pop star/Idol judge. Cameras follow Abdul as she prepares for a new season of Idol, executive produces Bratz: The Movie, manages her jewelry and clothing lines, and makes personal appearances. The as-yet unnamed series, which will debut later this year, will be produced by Scott Sternberg Productions. (For Michael Slezak’s take on Abdul’s show, check out PopWatch.)

Warner Bros., Depp pick up Russian spy movie
Warner has picked up film rights to a book on the mysterious death of a former KGB Agent, Alexander Litvinenko, for Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil to develop. Litvinenko was poisoned in November, and just before his death he blamed Russian president Vladmir Putin. Like all Infinitum projects, the movie is a potential starring vehicle for Depp. (Variety)

Writers Guild of America nominees
The WGA nominations for best original screenplay are: Babel (Guillermo Arriaga); Little Miss Sunshine (Michael Arndt); The Queen (Peter Morgan); Stranger Than Fiction (Zach Helm); and United 93 (Paul Greengrass). The nominees for best adapted screenplay are Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines, Peter Baynham, and Dan Mazer); The Departed (William Monahan); The Devil Wears Prada (Aline Brosh McKenna); Little Children (Todd Field and Tom Perrotta); and Thank You for Smoking (Jason Reitman). For TV, the best dramatic series nominees are: 24, Deadwood, The Sopranos, Grey’s Anatomy and Lost. For best comedy series: 30 Rock, The Office, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage. (Variety)

Steve Martin writing life story
The actor-writer has sold his memoir to Scribner, a Simon & Schuster imprint, which will release it under the title Born Standing Up. No release date has been set. Martin has written on several movies (L.A. Story, The Jerk, The Pink Panther) and penned several novels, including Shopgirl, which he adapted for the movie. His memoir focuses on his days as a stand-up comedian and ends before he found success as an actor. (Variety)

Mark Burnett tapped for live MTV Movie Awards
The Survivor guru has been selected as executive producer of MTV’s 16th annual Movie Awards, which will be broadcast live this year. Burnett replaces Joel Gallen, who produced the awards for more than a decade. The decision comes in the wake of steadily declining ratings for the broadcast over the years. (Variety)

The Queen reigns over BAFTA noms
Stephen Frears’ movie leads all nominees with 10 British Academy of Film and Television Arts nods, including Best Film, Best Director, and Best Actress, for Helen Mirren. Casino Royale is close behind with nine nominations. Winners will be named on Feb. 11. (Hollywood Reporter)

A&E scores big with Sopranos reruns
A&E’s Wednesday night rerun premier of The Sopranos was the highest rated premiere for an off-network show ever on cable television. It was the highest rated basic cable program for the night in all key demographics with more than 4.3 million viewers. A&E paid a record $2.5 million per episode for the HBO series and has put an aggressive marketing campaign behind the broadcasts. (Variety)

Sundance shorts available on iTunes
The Sundance Film Festival has partnered with Apple to make 32 of this year’s 71 short films available on iTunes for $1.99 each. The filmmakers will receive 67 percent of the income, iTunes will keep a 30 percent commission, and Sundance will get the remaining 3 percent. The shorts will be available starting Jan. 22 along with free podcasts featuring film panels and musical performances from the festival. (Hollywood Reporter)

Columbia rewriting next Pink Panther
Columbia Pictures has tapped Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel to rewrite the next Pink Panther installment (Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber wrote an earlier draft). The sequel will see Steve Martin return as Inspector Clouseau. Ganz and Mandel’s rewrite duties helped polish Hitch, 50 First Dates, Fat Albert, National Treasure, Kangaroo Jack, The Notebook and Stuart Little 2. (Hollywood Reporter)

Hurwitz and Tannenbaums unite for new project
Arrested Development creator Mitch Hurwitz is partnering with Two and a Half Men executive producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum to form a production company at Sony Pictures Television. The as-yet unnamed pact will run for three years and is said to be worth more than $3 million a year. (Variety)

Fox picks up Suck City
Fox 2000 has picked up rights to Nick Flynn’s award-winning memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. The movie will be written and directed by Paul Weitz (About a Boy) with Michael Costigan producing. Flynn’s book recounts his days as an aspiring author working in a homeless shelter where his alcoholic, homeless father eventually winds up. (Variety)

Shake-ups at MTV Networks
Chief Operating Officer Michael J. Wolf is leaving MTV Networks after 15 months at the job, and Nicole Browning, president of affiliate sales and marketing, is leaving after two decades at the company. News of the departures came a day after Gail Berman announced her resignation as president of sister company Paramount Pictures. (Variety)

Kirstie Alley starring in A&E comedy
The actress-cum-weight loss guru has been tapped to star in And She Was, an A&E original movie. Alley will play an aging screenwriter, considered over-the-hill by Hollywood, who enlists the help of her younger nephew to pass off her screenplays. Alley is also executive producer for the project. (Reuters)

American Society of Cinematographers nominees
The Society has nominated Emmanuel Lubezki for Children of Men, Dick Pope for The Illusionist, Robert Richardson for The Good Shepherd, Dean Semler for Apocalypto, and Vilmos Zsigmond for The Black Dahlia. Winners will be announced on Feb. 18. (Hollywood Reporter)

Antitrust regulators hold up Universal-BMG merger
European Union regulators have put the merger on hold until June 1, but did not give a reason for the delay. EU approval is the last major hurdle for Universal’s plans to buy BMG for about $2.1 billion. The deal would combine the No. 3 and No. 4 music publishing catalogs and give the new company a 22 percent market share, ahead of market leader EMI. U.S. regulators cleared the deal in November. (Variety)

EMI dismissing top brass
EMI Music is dismissing vice chairman David Munns and chairman and CEO Alain Levy in the wake of poor holiday sales and an issued profit warning for the company. (Hollywood Reporter)


Page Six: She may be embroiled in a raging feud with The Donald, but Rosie O’Donnell has buried the hatchet with Howard Stern.

Liz Smith: The columnist reviews Rupert Everett’s autobiography ahead of her visit with the British actor friend of Julia Roberts, Madonna, and Sharon Stone.

Rush & Malloy: Macy Gray was nearly arrested at the Barbados Jazz Festival for public profanity.