Paramount’s Insurge group downgraded; Changes unlikely as Academy Board meets for Oscar meeting; Maya the Bee head soon to theaters



Welcome to the upcoming final renovations edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report. Here’s what’s topping today!


Last week, Mark Evans took over Paramount’s motion picture group replacing Adam Goodman from the role. This week, the mountain’s divisional motion picture company Insurge, is being trimmed down a bit. As Viacom enters its last stages next week Johnny, will Insurge be surged through alongside Paramount?




Johnny Trout (via The Hollywood Reporter)- Paramount Pictures is dismantling its microbudget film branch Insurge Pictures, reducing it from a separate division although it intends to keep the name for use as a label on future genre pictures.

Amy Powell, who was hired as president of Insurge Pictures when it launched in 2010, will focus on her TV and digital responsibilities as president of Paramount TV and Digital Entertainment, sources confirm. She was originally put in charge of Insurge after her success on digital marketing with the Paranormal Activity films. On the TV front, Paramount is currently working on such projects as Grease Live and Minority with Fox; School of Rock with Nickelodeon; and Shooter with USA.


The other executives at Insurge Pictures will be integrated into the film team under Mark Evans, the new president of the studio’s motion picture group. Paramount, which has been trimming back on staff as part of parent company Viacom’s restructuring, will continue to use the Insurge label on some genre films.

The news comes on the heels of Adam Goodman’s exit as president of the studio’s motion picture group after a six-year stint in the role. Evans was promoted to Goodman’s old post last week.

Insurge was launched in 2010 to serve as the studio’s microbudget film distributor following the strong success of the Paranormal Activities series. Some of its releases included Katy Perry: Part of Me, The Devil Inside, Project Almanac and the upcoming Valencia.



This year’s Oscars were the lowest rated show as described back in February because there weren’t enough viewers tuned in to see the action, and the ratings proved it. Recent backlash from social media pinned down the Oscar voters for snubbing last year’s box office blockbusters such as The Lego Movie, which led to a big drop for ABC. As the Academy Board of Governors meet this week, they’re planning to make sure that the voters don’t make the same mistake. But will there be any changes Angie? 



Angie Angelfish (via Dateline Hollywood)- The Board Of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will have its first meeting tonight since this year’s Oscar show, the lowest since 2009, and the agenda for these post-show meetings usually revolves around a review of the Oscar cast in order to get feedback on what worked and what didn’t.  However, this may also be the most publicized (not by the Academy) Governors meeting in a long time, if you go by breathless media reports that the Academy may also be considering taking the Best Picture race back to a set number of five nominees rather than the five to ten nominee model used in the past few years.  This year there were eight.  In the previous three years the rule has been in effect there were nine. High profile media such as Variety, Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, Indiewire and others have picked up on this mysterious development which was apparently planted by an anonymous member(s) of a “faction” of the Academy who wants to return to a more rigid five-way Best Picture race, rather than the way it is now. It all started when the Academy moved to ten nominees in 2009  and then later tweaked it to its current state a couple of years after that.



The fact is there has always been a so-called “faction” in the Academy that didn’t want the change in the first place and has been chomping at the bit to take it back to five. Going to the media in advance and trying to drum up this kind of talk is, I suppose, a way of forcing the issue on to the Academy’s agenda one way or another. Having just finished six years as a member of the Board of Governors of the Television Academy, I assure you that if someone wants to bring up something at one of these meetings they will find a way. It was in fact at one of these post-show dissection Board meetings that the bold recommendation to switch to ten nominees was made by 81st Oscar show producers Bill Condon ( a current member of the Board repping Writers Branch)  and Laurence Mark in 2009. That was the year The Dark Knight was bypassed for a Best Picture nod. Their feeling was with a field of ten it would be easier to see more popular, but deserving fare nominated in the marquee category, thus engaging a bigger mass television audience who presumably would have a rooting factor. It seemed to be off to a good start at the 82nd Academy Award nominations with box office hits like Avatar, District 9, The Blind Side, Inglourious Basterds  and Up among the inaugural 10, but the Academy ultimately gave their top honor to The Hurt Locker, the lowest-grossing Best Birdman Oscars Picture winner  in modern Oscar history, and that led to the show’s lowest numbers until this year when, in a field full of indie movies (save American Sniper)  Birdman won Best Picture becoming the lowest grosser to do that since Locker. Although I loved Birdman  and had it in my top ten for the year, it’s clear in talking to friends and others not in the industry that this was not an overwhelmingly popular win with those ‘out there in the dark’. It wouldn’t have hurt to have thrown in something like a Guardians Of The Galaxy into the mix, instead of being a much more expensive version of the Independent Spirit Awards. But popularity rarely translates into big awards action. If it did I would start betting on The Walking Dead to sweep the Emmys this year, instead of being relegated to the Special Effects categories.



I am not sure if this “faction” (why do I feel like I am in the middle of a Divergent movie using this term) wants to claim this year’s lower ratings (the show was down 16%) was caused because the Academy lost “prestige” in the Best Picture contest by allowing so many interlopers, but that seems to be part of the argument. The fact is most of the major awards shows were down this year including the Golden Globes  and the Grammys. It’s cyclical and if an American-Sniper-Movie-Posterything, the fact that the Academy was able to agree on eight films this year, instead of being stuck with a maximum of five, likely kept the ratings slide from going even deeper. Based on conversations with Oscar voters, and just the way things came down in the end,  it is fairly easy to assume that the Best Picture nominees in a field that only allowed five would have been Birdman, Boyhood, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel  and  Whiplash.  My guess is  The Theory Of Everything, Selma  and American Sniper would have been left on the sidelines.  The latter, while very much loved by many in the Academy, also was somewhat polarizing , and the fact is Clint Eastwood was snubbed by the director’s branch , another indicator in many cases of Best Picture strength. So assuming that was the case,  Sniper, the number-one grossing film of 2014, might have saved the day in part thanks to that Picture nomination, bringing in a larger and more involved TV audience. It’s a distinct possibility that wouldn’t have happened with the more exclusive five nominee rule, which by the way didn’t always come up with the best choices when it was in effect. And then there’s Selma. That film made the Academy the media’s whipping boy and brought renewed cries for more diversity in the Academy this year, even though they did nominate it for Best Picture (and Best Song which it won). The fact it was overlooked for Director and Actor led to idiotic headlines of “snub”.  The Academy doesn’t “snub” you by nominating your movie for their most prestigious award.  That Best Picture nomination almost assuredly would not have come in a field of five, but it certainly made it a lot easier to defend the Academy against unfair.



Maya, the proud honeybee that entertained preschoolers and kids back in the 80’s, is buzzing to the big screen! This bee with a big heart is ready for her biggest adventure yet. Who’s bring her back for more of her adventurous buzzing joy Dan?



Dan Barry (via Animation World)- Shout! Factory Kids is bringing the CG-animated Maya the Bee Movie to theaters in Los Angeles and New York on May 1, 2015, according to a report by Screen Daily.

Based on the well-known children’s book by Waldemar Bonsels, the German-Australian co-production from director Alexs Stadermann (Bambi II) offers an immersive cinematic adventure into a spectacular macroscopic world. Featuring the voices of Coco Jack Gillies, Jacki Weaver, Miriam Margolyes, Richard Roxburgh, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Justine Clark, the screenplay was written by Marcus Sauermann and Fin Edquist.

Rated G, Maya the Bee Movie centers on Maya, a little bee with a big heart. She dreams of an exciting life of freedom, fun and adventure — the world is simply far too interesting to stay inside a hive! Her funny attempts to fit in bring her into trouble with the Queen’s narrow-minded royal advisor, Buzzlina. With her best friend Willy, Maya buzzes out into the meadow on an exhilarating adventure of self-discovery.

While most bees believe that other insects should be feared, Maya can’t help but make friends with Flip the charismatic and eccentric grasshopper, Kurt the dung beetle, and even Sting, a young hornet. But when the Queen’s royal jelly is stolen, it will take Maya and all of her bug buddies to figure out who did it and how to save the day.

Maya the Bee Movie is a co-production of Studio 100 Media and Buzz Studios in association with Flying Bark Productions.



Checking the Penguins tally, 1,746 fans sign in as they receive Team Skipper’s backstory as they digest on how the flightless heroes became a team.



That concludes March folks. Don’t miss the 2015 KCA’s right before a never before seen SpongeBob and the premiere of Harvey Beaks. What will spring showers bring for April? Come back soon for the next edition of Gene Scallop’s entertainment report.

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