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The Reeler Blog

Choose Your Sucker: Kimmel or Finke?

By S.T. VanAirsdale

Reeler HQ opened today to an under-the-radar retraction from Hollywood gossip Nikki Finke, whose tirless legwork covering the WGA strike might have caught up with her in the race to report indie mogul Sidney Kimmel's demise. First, we have what's left (via RSS) of her retracted post "There's One Less Hollywood Sucker..." published Thursday afternoon on her Deadline Hollywood blog:

"Just 10 weeks after The New York Times fawned all over him and his 3-year-old movie company, rag trade billionaire Sidney Kimmel is getting out of the film business after his Sidney Kimmel Entertainment has lost tens of millions of dollars. Sources tell me he firmed up his decision on the eve of the opening of his R-rated teen comedy pic Charlie Bartlett which MGM is distributing this weekend."

A few hours and (one presumes) a phone call from Kimmel later, Finke's slightly more understated revision, "Will There Be One Less Hollywood Sucker?" showed up replaced its predecessor:

Even rag trade billionaire Sidney Kimmel has heard that he's getting out of the movie business. He told me today he's cutting back, changing his bank terms, and probably allowing his distribution deal with MGM to expire -- but not planning on shuttering his film company. Though Kimmel does acknowledge that all those changes probably fueled the film buzz that he was fed up losing money on the eve of the opening of his R-rated teen comedy pic Charlie Bartlett which MGM is distributing this weekend. (The film was postponed from a 2007 release date. It'll probably make only a paltry $3M.)

Finke notes the previous underperformance of films like Talk to Me, The Kite Runner, Death at a Funeral and Lars and the Real Girl (only the latter two of which MGM released; the first two were Focus and Paramount Vantage casualties, respectively) among Kimmel's disappointments, going on to cite anonymous complaints that: "The problem was he hired a bunch of art house executives, and now he's tired of making money-losing films. He's unwinding."

The Reeler this morning contacted ex-October Films partner, UA boss and current Kimmel Distribution president Bingham Ray for a response. "Two words," he said. "Institutional schadenfreude." OK. Was there any way he might elaborate? "No. It's bullshit. So three words: Bullshit institutional schadenfreude." Got it, I think. In any case, if Finke's revision is any indication, this is a story that could evolve by the minute. And as expectations swirl around Charlie Kaufman's Kimmel-backed Synechdoche New York (which Finke notes is earmarked for Cannes), I'd love to hear what you hear. If it's wrong, screw it: We can always retract it!

Posted at February 22, 2008 11:27 AM

Comments (1)

Good for Bingham. Finke plays too fast and loose for her own good. DEATH AT A FUNERAL has made about $43M worldwide, which isn't bad for a picture with a budget under $10M. Not sure how that constitutes a failure.

Also, I'm hearing wonderful things about the Kaufman film, though the proof will ultimately be in the pudding.

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