Abigail Disney Teams With Killer Content For Inclusive Female-Driven Studio Level Forward

The effort for inclusion and representation in Hollywood took another step forward as filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney has teamed with Killer Content to launch the startup studio Level Forward which backs projects by women and people of color.
The name of the studio aims to “level” the playing field for those who are at a disadvantage in the traditional Hollywood system and to move “forward” into a more equitable marketplace for content. The startup currently…

The effort for inclusion and representation in Hollywood took another step forward as filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney has teamed with Killer Content to launch the startup studio Level Forward which backs projects by women and people of color. The name of the studio aims to “level” the playing field for those who are at a disadvantage in the traditional Hollywood system and to move “forward” into a more equitable marketplace for content. The startup currently…

Abigail Disney, Killer Content Partner to Launch Female-Led Level Forward Studio

Filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney has teamed with Killer Content to launch Level Forward, a startup studio venture that aims to focus on backing projects driven by women and persons of color. The goal is to offer creative partners a hub for producing a range of content for all platforms. The venture has $2 million […]

Filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail Disney has teamed with Killer Content to launch Level Forward, a startup studio venture that aims to focus on backing projects driven by women and persons of color. The goal is to offer creative partners a hub for producing a range of content for all platforms. The venture has $2 million […]

Weinstein Company Bidders Down to Six, Sale Price Dips Below $500 Million

Bids for the embattled Weinstein Company have been narrowed down to six, the highest among them coming in at under $500 million, a new report says.

Half that price is an assumption of debt, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, and any new owner would not inherit the presumably massive legal liability stemming from lawsuits over Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct while he ran the studio.

Lionsgate, Hollywood legacy and philanthropist Abigail Disney and former U.S. Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras-Sweet account for half the bidders, TheWrap previously reported.

Also Read: 74 Hollywood and Media Heavyweights Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since Harvey Weinstein

Investment firms Vine Alternative and Shamrock Capital, as well as Christine Vachon’s Killer Content, are also in the race.

While bidders like Contreras-Sweet have pledged to keep the studio in tact and engage its nearly 200 employees, some bidders are hoping to extract library titles and breakout money makers like TWC’s television hit “Project Runway.”

In late December, a TWC insider said Contreras-Sweet would be preferable to, say, Lionsgate as the latter would likely absorb the most attractive parts of the company and dump the rest.

Shareholders are expected to come up empty handed, WSJ said, thanks to considerable existing debt and litigation, like two class action lawsuits in the works against former CEO Harvey. Moelis & Co. is handling the sale.

Complicating matters for TWC is its suffocating debt. Two individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap the company’s estimated total debt is about $900 million, however insiders pegged it at closer to $300 million outstanding. TWC re-upped a $500 million senior credit facility with a variety of institutions last year, which carries a 4 percent interest rate. And the company is only releasing about six to eight movies a year.

Also Read: Harvey Weinstein Made His Assistants Fetch Him Penile Injections

TWC’s speciality label Dimension Films has stagnated while the sale gets underway. Production is wrapping for a Spring release of Robert De Niro’s “War With Grandpa.” There’s also the finished awards hopeful “The Upside,” starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, whose release was pushed after the October sexual harassment scandal ignited Hollywood.

Once a sale is complete TWC will rebrand and change its name, TheWrap reported in October.

Related stories from TheWrap:

74 Hollywood and Media Heavyweights Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since Harvey Weinstein

Mira Sorvino Praises Her Father After He Threatens to Kill Harvey Weinstein

Paul Sorvino on Harvey Weinstein: ‘I Will Kill the Motherf—er’ (Video)

Bids for the embattled Weinstein Company have been narrowed down to six, the highest among them coming in at under $500 million, a new report says.

Half that price is an assumption of debt, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, and any new owner would not inherit the presumably massive legal liability stemming from lawsuits over Harvey Weinstein’s sexual misconduct while he ran the studio.

Lionsgate, Hollywood legacy and philanthropist Abigail Disney and former U.S. Small Business Administration head Maria Contreras-Sweet account for half the bidders, TheWrap previously reported.

Investment firms Vine Alternative and Shamrock Capital, as well as Christine Vachon’s Killer Content, are also in the race.

While bidders like Contreras-Sweet have pledged to keep the studio in tact and engage its nearly 200 employees, some bidders are hoping to extract library titles and breakout money makers like TWC’s television hit “Project Runway.”

In late December, a TWC insider said Contreras-Sweet would be preferable to, say, Lionsgate as the latter would likely absorb the most attractive parts of the company and dump the rest.

Shareholders are expected to come up empty handed, WSJ said, thanks to considerable existing debt and litigation, like two class action lawsuits in the works against former CEO Harvey. Moelis & Co. is handling the sale.

Complicating matters for TWC is its suffocating debt. Two individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap the company’s estimated total debt is about $900 million, however insiders pegged it at closer to $300 million outstanding. TWC re-upped a $500 million senior credit facility with a variety of institutions last year, which carries a 4 percent interest rate. And the company is only releasing about six to eight movies a year.

TWC’s speciality label Dimension Films has stagnated while the sale gets underway. Production is wrapping for a Spring release of Robert De Niro’s “War With Grandpa.” There’s also the finished awards hopeful “The Upside,” starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, whose release was pushed after the October sexual harassment scandal ignited Hollywood.

Once a sale is complete TWC will rebrand and change its name, TheWrap reported in October.

Related stories from TheWrap:

74 Hollywood and Media Heavyweights Accused of Sexual Misconduct Since Harvey Weinstein

Mira Sorvino Praises Her Father After He Threatens to Kill Harvey Weinstein

Paul Sorvino on Harvey Weinstein: 'I Will Kill the Motherf—er' (Video)

Weinstein Company Board Meets 11 AM To Sort Bids; At Least Half A Dozen On Table

EXCLUSIVE: In half an hour, the board of directors of The Weinstein Company will sort through bids to decide the future of the former powerhouse independent company that has been hanging on for dear life after co-founder Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by a litany of former actresses and executives.
Sources said that there might be as many as a dozen bids, but there are certainly at least six of them that will be scrutinized in a…

EXCLUSIVE: In half an hour, the board of directors of The Weinstein Company will sort through bids to decide the future of the former powerhouse independent company that has been hanging on for dear life after co-founder Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by a litany of former actresses and executives. Sources said that there might be as many as a dozen bids, but there are certainly at least six of them that will be scrutinized in a…

Abigail Disney Is About to Get A Big Fat Tax Cut (Doesn’t That Make You Mad?)

Abigail Disney is hoping to make you mad, downright furious, about the big fat tax break she and her rich friends are about to collect, thanks to the sweeping tax overhaul that just passed Congress.
The Disney heiress decried the tax bill, in a USA Today op-ed piece and a video commentary recorded for NowThis News, which she said amounts to a “huge handout from Congress,” that will allow her to pay a lower tax rate on her income than most working stiffs, “once I set up a…

Abigail Disney is hoping to make you mad, downright furious, about the big fat tax break she and her rich friends are about to collect, thanks to the sweeping tax overhaul that just passed Congress. The Disney heiress decried the tax bill, in a USA Today op-ed piece and a video commentary recorded for NowThis News, which she said amounts to a “huge handout from Congress,” that will allow her to pay a lower tax rate on her income than most working stiffs, “once I set up a…

How New York Times Op-Docs Change the Way Film and News Media Intersect

The New York Times has quietly been producing award-winning films that blend filmmaking with news media, but Op-Docs executive producer Kathleen Lingo doesn’t expect documentaries to replace the newspaper anytime soon.

“I don’t want to use the word replace, I would use the word extend,” Lingo told TheWrap. “I think things like Op-Docs extend the mission of The New York Times in new ways, given the fact that we do have a website and the internet is a wonderful vehicle that puts video in everyone’s hands fairly effortlessly.”

Lingo said her team is simply “taking advantage of the opportunity and the technology” that allows these films to be made.

Also Read: New York Times Won’t Use Term ‘Alt-Right’ Without Describing as ‘Racist, Far-Right Fringe Movement’

“From the point of view of documentary filmmakers, when Op-Docs first started there were very few platforms for documentaries. There were film festivals, HBO and a few other broadcasters with programmed shorts but there was really a limited reach,” she said.

The New York Times’ editorial department formed Op-Docs back in 2011 and made a series of short films designed to present a unique point of view and initiate conversation about important issues. The op-ed page is where outside contributors write essays on pertinent issues and the Times wanted to extend the same opportunity to filmmakers.

Lingo said it was initially an experiment to see if audience were attracted to the genre.

Also Read: Donald Trump Calls the New York Times a ‘Great, Great American Jewel’

“I think that’s really been the biggest innovation of Op-Docs, to breath new life into this form that already existed because of the technology and distribution methods that now exist,” she said.

Six years and over 200 films later, honors for Op-Docs include an Oscar nomination, one film on the Oscar shortlist, six Emmy nominations resulting in two Emmy awards, a Peabody Award, two International Documentary Association nominations for best series, Picture of the Year award for Best Multimedia Feature, and the World Press Photo Multimedia Award for Interactive Documentary.

“Our work really runs the gamut. We have films between one and 30 minutes, we have a number of series. In 2016 we published our first VR film… so we don’t just do short documentaries, we are also interested in different forms. We’ve also done interactive documentaries,” Lingo said.

Also Read: Donald Trump at New York Times Meeting: ‘I Don’t Want to Hurt the Clintons’

Lingo admits there is a lot of debate between documentary and journalism but thinks the biggest difference between them is that the person creating the content.

“The way that a newsroom works, or even a freelance reporter, is you’re often assigned a story and then you go out and report it whereas a documentary filmmaker usually starts from a place of more like the artistic passion and creativity,” Lingo said. “When it comes down to doing documentary work within the confines of a news organization like The New York Times, every single Op-Doc is fact checked, so a lot of times it’s a process documentary filmmakers are not familiar with. We make sure all of our films, while very artistic and experimental, also stand up to the rigors of The New York Times.”

Lingo also explained that journalists typically want content to come out immediately, while Op-Docs have a more evergreen approach to tackle the roots of the issue.

“We have a newsroom, they do the news,” she said. “It’s not about responding or reacting to current events.”

Also Read: Verge List for Sundance 2017 Features Michelle Morgan, Lakeith Stanfield (Exclusive Photos)

The films are currently available for free on the Times’ website in addition to Vimeo and YouTube. The docs occasionally find their way to theaters and recently had screenings everywhere from Australia to Los Angeles.

Op-Docs have also been official selections at leading international film festivals, including Sundance, the New York Film Festival, Telluride, Ambulante in Mexico, Camden, AFI and SXSW. The team also holds annual events at the Sundance Film Festival, the IFC Theater in Manhattan, LACMA in Los Angeles with Film Independent and The New York Times Film Club, and San Francisco Film Society’s Doc Weekend in San Francisco.

Lingo’s team has worked with a wide range filmmakers including Errol Morris, Laura Poitras, Alan Berliner, Alex Gibney, Casey Neistat, Victor Kossakovsky, Lucy Walker, Abigail Disney, Roger Ross Williams, Jessica Yu, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.

“We also pride ourselves on finding emerging filmmakers and a bunch of our most popular films this year were made by filmmakers making their first film,” Lingo said. “We have a real range of contributors.”

Other news organizations have created documentary films since Op-Docs launched, but Lingo credits the Times’ leadership for her unit’s success.

“One of the things that has made Op-Docs so successful creatively is the Times has really given us wide latitude to experiment. I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck,” she said. “We’re really able to experiment, innovate.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

More Layoffs in Store at The New York Times, $5 Million Earmarked for Trump Coverage

New York Times Won’t Use Term ‘Alt-Right’ Without Describing as ‘Racist, Far-Right Fringe Movement’

Donald Trump Calls the New York Times a ‘Great, Great American Jewel’

The New York Times has quietly been producing award-winning films that blend filmmaking with news media, but Op-Docs executive producer Kathleen Lingo doesn’t expect documentaries to replace the newspaper anytime soon.

“I don’t want to use the word replace, I would use the word extend,” Lingo told TheWrap. “I think things like Op-Docs extend the mission of The New York Times in new ways, given the fact that we do have a website and the internet is a wonderful vehicle that puts video in everyone’s hands fairly effortlessly.”

Lingo said her team is simply “taking advantage of the opportunity and the technology” that allows these films to be made.

“From the point of view of documentary filmmakers, when Op-Docs first started there were very few platforms for documentaries. There were film festivals, HBO and a few other broadcasters with programmed shorts but there was really a limited reach,” she said.

The New York Times’ editorial department formed Op-Docs back in 2011 and made a series of short films designed to present a unique point of view and initiate conversation about important issues. The op-ed page is where outside contributors write essays on pertinent issues and the Times wanted to extend the same opportunity to filmmakers.

Lingo said it was initially an experiment to see if audience were attracted to the genre.

“I think that’s really been the biggest innovation of Op-Docs, to breath new life into this form that already existed because of the technology and distribution methods that now exist,” she said.

Six years and over 200 films later, honors for Op-Docs include an Oscar nomination, one film on the Oscar shortlist, six Emmy nominations resulting in two Emmy awards, a Peabody Award, two International Documentary Association nominations for best series, Picture of the Year award for Best Multimedia Feature, and the World Press Photo Multimedia Award for Interactive Documentary.

“Our work really runs the gamut. We have films between one and 30 minutes, we have a number of series. In 2016 we published our first VR film… so we don’t just do short documentaries, we are also interested in different forms. We’ve also done interactive documentaries,” Lingo said.

Lingo admits there is a lot of debate between documentary and journalism but thinks the biggest difference between them is that the person creating the content.

“The way that a newsroom works, or even a freelance reporter, is you’re often assigned a story and then you go out and report it whereas a documentary filmmaker usually starts from a place of more like the artistic passion and creativity,” Lingo said. “When it comes down to doing documentary work within the confines of a news organization like The New York Times, every single Op-Doc is fact checked, so a lot of times it’s a process documentary filmmakers are not familiar with. We make sure all of our films, while very artistic and experimental, also stand up to the rigors of The New York Times.”

Lingo also explained that journalists typically want content to come out immediately, while Op-Docs have a more evergreen approach to tackle the roots of the issue.

“We have a newsroom, they do the news,” she said. “It’s not about responding or reacting to current events.”

The films are currently available for free on the Times’ website in addition to Vimeo and YouTube. The docs occasionally find their way to theaters and recently had screenings everywhere from Australia to Los Angeles.

Op-Docs have also been official selections at leading international film festivals, including Sundance, the New York Film Festival, Telluride, Ambulante in Mexico, Camden, AFI and SXSW. The team also holds annual events at the Sundance Film Festival, the IFC Theater in Manhattan, LACMA in Los Angeles with Film Independent and The New York Times Film Club, and San Francisco Film Society’s Doc Weekend in San Francisco.

Lingo’s team has worked with a wide range filmmakers including Errol Morris, Laura Poitras, Alan Berliner, Alex Gibney, Casey Neistat, Victor Kossakovsky, Lucy Walker, Abigail Disney, Roger Ross Williams, Jessica Yu, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.

“We also pride ourselves on finding emerging filmmakers and a bunch of our most popular films this year were made by filmmakers making their first film,” Lingo said. “We have a real range of contributors.”

Other news organizations have created documentary films since Op-Docs launched, but Lingo credits the Times’ leadership for her unit’s success.

“One of the things that has made Op-Docs so successful creatively is the Times has really given us wide latitude to experiment. I don’t have anyone breathing down my neck,” she said. “We’re really able to experiment, innovate.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

More Layoffs in Store at The New York Times, $5 Million Earmarked for Trump Coverage

New York Times Won't Use Term 'Alt-Right' Without Describing as 'Racist, Far-Right Fringe Movement'

Donald Trump Calls the New York Times a 'Great, Great American Jewel'