Today in films: Black Swan's unpaid army of interns want their fair share, Steven Spielberg's new movie will combine the best things about robots and robots that survive the apocalypse, and Zooey Deschanel gets a big vote of confidence.
- Two unpaid interns who worked on Black Swan are suing Fox Searchlight Pictures, claiming the production company "violated minimum wage and overtime laws" by stocking the production with "dozens" of non-salaried interns and then assigning them to "menial work that should have been done by paid employees." (They also found the "educational experience" of being on a movie set to be lacking.) "Menial" tasks allegedly assigned to 24 year-old plaintiff Alex Footman included "preparing coffee for the production office, ensuring that the coffee pot was full, taking and distributing lunch orders for the production staff, taking out the trash and cleaning the office." That's no way to treat a film studies major from Wesleyan! To be fair, making unreasonable demands on interns paid and unpaid alike is a problem on film sets, congressional offices, and hedge funds. (This is not a problem at The Atlantic Wire, where interns are called "fellows" and are treated as colleagues, except at lunch, when they are food tasters.) The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, wants Fox Searchlight's unpaid interns to get back pay under state and federal minimum wage laws. The unpaid is right there in the job description, but Footman explains to The New York Times that "unpaid" is more like a suggested donation if a film breaks out at the box office. "Black Swan had more than $300 million in revenues," he says. "If they paid us, it wouldn’t make a big difference to them, but it would make a huge difference to us.” Perhaps, but try getting a fifty off Rupert Murdoch with that line and see how it goes. [The New York Times]
- Just two weeks after debuting, Fox has already ordered 11 more episodes of Zooey Deschanel's comedy The New Girl for a full season of 24 shows. That number may not seem significant, but as Bill Carter explains, a series order of 24 episodes instead of 22 is the networks' way of saying they like-like a show. "Most new series work under an order of 22 episodes — 13 to start with and, if the network believes in it, a second order of nine," explains Carter. "Only the most highly regarded shows, like Modern Family on ABC, are rewarded with the order of extra episodes. So Fox is endorsing New Girl at a level only associated with hit shows." And who wouldn't with Zooey Deschanel in the title role. Not quite a hipster, not quite a goofball, not quite an unapproachable knockout. She plays with all the demographics. [Media Decoder]
- If Kristen Wiig isn't in for a Bridesmaids sequel, Jon Hamm isn't in for a Bridesmaids sequel. After that we don't know how the domino effect works, but Hamm made it clear in an interview with E! he's not interested if she's not interested. "[And] I don't think she's going to do it," he adds. This could just be a case of Jon Hamm talking about things he's thinking, or a power play to help better position Wiig for any hypothetical sequel salary negotiations down the road, or it could be the truth. But if she's really not interested, it's a mistake. The Kristin Wiig crowd is really just the Shelley Long crowd, sped up and given access to cell phones. [E!]
- Steven Spielberg tells Empire magazine that he's planning to follow meticulously constructed Oscar bait like War Horse and Lincoln with a movie called Robopocalypse. That doesn't like a title that will be up for many Oscars, except maybe sound editing. "I'm in pre-production on [Robopocalypse] right now," Spielberg says in the magazine's new issue I'm hoping to start shooting the picture some time in '12. I don't exactly know when, hopefully some time this summer, for a '13 release." And if 'Coming This Summer' isn't the film's dry, winking tagline, we don't know the Spielberg marketing apparatus as well as we think we do. [Empire]