Say you’re a downsized Hollywood studio that recently laid off almost all your employees. Well, if you’re New Line you throw the annual summer staff party for those remaining few. Ex-New Liners are emailing me that the pool party on Thursday at Skybar will cost $35,000 and “all 48 employees will be there to swim in the blood of the 550 employees who were massacred.” (Hey, they have a right to be bitter because their severance was less than they were told it would be.) I’m assured it was an “agonizing” decision by Toby Emmerich and Richard Brenner whether to hold the fete this year. In the old days, New Line co-founder Bob Shaye was famous for these fancy parties held in NY and in LA at summer and Christmas in swanky settings like Malibu beach houses with all-you-can-eat steak and lobsters.
“Even in the worst years New Line always had that party,” a studio insider tells me. “Senior management didn’t want to be disrespectful of the circumstances. We’re still mourning the hurt and difficulties of so many of our former colleagues. But Toby felt like the summer party is part of New Line’s DNA and to change that is a mistake.” So the studio decided to lower the party’s budget, telling me that the price tag is only “one third” of what the laid-off employees claim. New Line senior management also thinks the studio’s got something to celebrate because of the recent grosses on Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (a Mandate film), Sex And The City, and Journey To The Center Of The Earth 3D (a Walden film). “These three summer movies made this the highest grossing summer in New Line history, including 2005’s Wedding Crashers,” the studio source claims, forgetting to acknowledge that those laid-off employees contributed, too. “But a lot of it was due to Warner Bros which reinvented the campaigns with new one sheets and TV spots and trailers and outdoor. Journey was promoed with every single print of Wall-E‘s opening weekend. A cynical person could have said that Warner didn’t have to do that because it had nothing at stake. But Warner Bros treated those movies like they were their own.”
Uh, nothing at stake? How about all long-suffering Time Warner shareholders?