Ashley Greene reprises her role as vampiress Alice Cullen this weekend in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. But she has found another role to sink her teeth into. She’ll costar alongside Miley Cyrus in LOL, the Lisa Azuelos –directed Mandate Pictures comedy that also stars Douglas Booth and Demi Moore. Greene will play Cyrus’s nemesis in a coming of age story that takes place in the age of Facebook, iTunes and Youtube. Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher are producing. Azuelos wrote the script for the remake of the 2008 French film, which she also wrote and directed. Shooting begins July 20 in Detroit.
EXCLUSIVE: Claire Forlani and Peter Mooney round out the main cast of Starz’s 10-episode drama series Camelot, joining previously cast Joseph Fiennes, Eva Green, Jamie Campbell Bower and Tamsin Egerton. Written by Michael Hurst and Chris Chibnall, the series – to be co-produced and distributed worldwide by Graham King’s GK-TV – is a fresh take on the tale of King Arthur (Bower). Paradigm-repped Forlani will play Arthur’s mother, Queen Igraine, while SMS-repped Mooney will play Kay, Arthur’s brother and right-hand man. Filming on Camelot is starting this week in Ireland for an early 2011 premiere on Starz. Forlani also is set to film indies Deauville and Crossmaglen.
Graham King’s GK Films continues to bolster its ranks. King and partner Tim Headington have named David Crockett to the post of executive vice president, and set Elishia Holmes to be GK vice president of development. This follows the hiring of Sony president of Worldwide Affairs Peter Schlessel to become GK Films president. It also follows the unconfirmed reports that respected executive Bob Berney will come aboard to start an independent distribution company for King and Headington. GK also renewed its deal with Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil.
Crockett just worked with GK Films after being the exec producer of the Ben Affleck-directed crime drama The Town. Crockett previously worked with Affleck on his directing debut Gone Baby Gone, and Crockett has producing credits on films ranging from the Will Smith-starrer Seven Pounds to the Denzel Washington-directed The Great Debaters and The Amityville Horror.
Holmes just gave notice this week to Warner Bros picture chiefs Jeff Robinov and Greg Silverman. I’m told she’s a well regarded young exec who worked on The Book of Eli and Sherlock Holmes and oversaw the upcoming Rob Reiner-directed Flipped. She came to Warner Bros after serving as story editor for producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald. She is the second Warner Bros exec to leave, after Jairo Alvarado cemented plans to switch to manager at 3 Arts.
The news comes as Sony announced a production start on The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the novel adaptation that Martin Scorsese is …
20th Century Fox confirmed today that the studio is taking yet another crack at remaking the 1947 Danny Kaye classic daydreamer comedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, with Gore Verbinski at the helm. It’s good to see Verbinski on a big film after he jumped off the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to direct Bioshock and then that project didn’t happen. But Verbinski is following in the footsteps of a spectacular crop of directors and stars who never cracked the remake, in about 22 years of trying. That includes directors Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Mark Waters, with Jim Carrey (several times), Owen Wilson, Mike Myers and Sacha Baron Cohen. Let’s see what Gore and screenwriter Steve Conrad come up with as they tackle an adaptation of the James Thurber story.
EXCLUSIVE: Summer 2010′s films are all ending up at FX — or maybe it just seems that way. The basic cable network has acquired the TV rights to Sony’s Adam Sandler comedy Grown Ups, the highest-grossing new release last weekend with $40.5 million. Additionally, FX has acquired 20th Century Fox’s Tom Cruise/Cameron Diaz action comedy Knight And Day, which finished a distant third to returning champ Toy Story 3 and Grown Ups with $20.1 million. In fact, except for Toy Story, FX has all the other films in this weekend’s Top 5, including Sony’s Karate Kid and Fox’s The A-Team. Grown Ups and Knight and Day will be available on FX in late 2012-early 2013. I hear their license fee is a standard 12% of the domestic boxoffice, currently at $45.8 million for Grown Ups and $29.6 for Knight and Day through Monday. Grown Ups will join other Adam Sandler comedies that have done solid business on FX, including The Wedding Singer, The Waterboy, Click, as well as You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, which is yet to premiere on the network. In addition to Karate Kid, other top 2010 box-office performers on FX’s roster include Iron Man 2, Shrek Forever After, and How To Train Your Dragon as well as the upcoming The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, which is looking at a 6-day monster $150M Fourth of July opening weekend.
Frequent showbiz interviewer and newsmaker Larry King announced today he’ll exit CNN “Larry King Live” after 25 years on air. His last show will be in November but he’ll produce quarterly specials afterwards under his new contract. Here is King’s statement:
“Before I start the show tonight, I want to share some personal news with you. Twenty five years ago, I sat across this table from New York Governor Mario Cuomo for the first broadcast of Larry King Live. Now, decades later, I talked to the guys here at CNN and I told them I would like to end Larry King Live, the nightly show, this fall and CNN has graciously accepted, giving me more time for my wife and I to get to the kids’ little league games. I’ll still be a part of the CNN family, hosting several Larry King specials on major national and international subjects.
“I’m incredibly proud that we recently made the Guinness Book of World Records for having the longest running show with the same host in the same time slot. With this chapter closing I’m looking forward to the future and what my next chapter will bring, but for now it’s time to hang up my nightly suspenders.”
Deadline freelance journalist Diane Haithman visited Universal Studios Tour for the media unveiling of the new “King King 3D 360″ attraction:
In June, 2008, Universal Studios’ own Magilla Gorilla, the “King Kong” attraction, was destroyed during a fire that also razed part of the park’s back lot and burned the studio’s film vault. At the time, Universal announced that the original robotic monkey — built in 1986 and known for puffing appropriately scented “banana breath” on visitors — would be replaced with “a new, compelling guest experience”. But it didn’t take long for the studio to decide to get back into the ape business. Instead of leaving Kong in the ashes, the studio revived the ride as “King Kong 360 3D ” by bringing in no less than Peter Jackson, who also directed the 2005 “King Kong.” (The remake of the 1933 film.)
Billed as “The World’s Largest, Most Intense 3-D Experience” it had its world premiere today at Universal. The new and improved King Kong, executives promised, would engage all the senses: sight, sound, touch, and smell. The stats: Wearing 3-D glasses and traveling by tram through “Skull Island”, a soundstage larger than a football field, visitors are surrounded by enormous movie screens (an area comparable to 16 regular movie screens) that rest upon steel platens allowing for movement. Once inside, the tram is also programmed to move in sync with the action on the screens. It gets caught in the middle …
Breakout Kings, the Cinderella story of this pilot season, officially got its happy ending today after I reported ‘Breakout Kings’ On The Verge Of A&E Deal. A&E completed a deal with 20th Century Fox’s Fox21 and Chernin Entertainment to pick up the former Fox pilot to series:
NEW YORK, NY – June 29, 2010 – A&E Network has picked up the new original drama series, “Breakout Kings” from Fox 21 and Chernin Entertainment. The network has ordered 13 one-hour episodes which will go into production this fall in Toronto for a 2011 premiere on A&E. From Matt Olmstead and Nick Santora, executive producers of the hit series “Prison Break,” comes “Breakout Kings,” a new action-packed ensemble drama following an unconventional partnership between the U.S. Marshals’ office and a group of convicts as they work to catch fugitives on the run. “As soon as we screened the ‘Breakout Kings’ pilot, it struck us as the perfect fit for A&E as the network of ‘Real Life. Drama,’” said Bob DeBitetto, President and General Manager of A&E and BIO Channel.
HOLLYWOOD, CA (June 29, 2010) – Paramount Pictures announced today the studio has crossed the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office, making it the first studio to accomplish the milestone this year. This marks the fourth year in a row that Paramount was the first studio to cross that plateau. Something no studio has done before. The studio currently holds the top spot in market share, with box office gross generated from five movies released thus far in 2010.
Based on figures through June 28th, Paramount has distributed four of 2010’s top ten grossing films. The year got off to a strong start with the Martin Scorsese thriller “Shutter Island” earning $128 million in the U.S., and also becoming the highest world-wide grossing film for the acclaimed director. Paramount followed with a string of strong releases, including Marvel Studio’s “Iron Man 2” ($306.9M) and DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon” ($215.4M) and “Shrek Forever After” ($229.4M).
“This milestone reflects the hard work of so many people,” said Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. “I especially want to thank Rob Moore, Frederick Huntsberry, and Adam Goodman. We are all so proud of our teams, how they have worked together as well as with our partners. This commitment, coupled with the terrific creative talent we are in business with – Michael Bay, JJ Abrams, Martin Scorsese, Jon Favreau, Jeffrey Katzenberg and his DreamWorks Animation – have made these results
Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood is set to make his series debut with a lead role opposite Jason Gann in the FX comedy pilot Wilfred, which is based on the acclaimed Australian series of the same name, co-created and starring Gann. David Zuckerman, who wrote the adapted pilot script and serves as executive producer, describes Wilfred as comedy “about a guy, Ryan (Wood), the girl next door, and mixed-breed dog, Wilfred (Gann), who is part Labrador retriever and part Russell Crowe on a bender.” Randall Einhorn is directing the pilot, which will be filmed this summer. Rich Frank, Paul Frank, Jeff Kwatinetz, Joe Connor and Ken Conner also exec produce, with Gann serving as co-exec producer for FX Prods. Wood, who will next be seen this fall in The Romantics and has lent his voice to Happy Feet 2, is repped by WME and Brillstein Partners.
Liz Murdoch has talked about wanting to beef up comedy at her Shine Group and now she’s done it. Shine has bought UK comedy producer Brown Eyed Boy from Motive Television. This is Shine’s 5th new UK-based production company alongside Dragonfly (factual), Kudos (drama), Princess Productions (entertainment) and Shine TV. Gary Reich, managing director of Brown Eyed Boy, has discovered some of Britain’s best comedians including Sacha Baron Cohen and The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt. NBC is developing a U.S. version of Brown Eyed’s BBC sitcom How Not To Live Your Life.
Hulu’s long-rumored paid service is now a reality as the online content hub has just launched Hulu Plus. A monthly fee of $9.99 allows subscribers to get season passes to more than 40 current series, including Glee, Modern Family, House, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock and The Office, as well as access to over 120 previous episodes of current and old shows. The episodes can be delivered to iPhone, iPad and iPod, some Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players and soon to PlayStation3 and Xbox. A free version of Hulu is still available but offers only recent episodes of ABC, NBC and Fox shows. In its initial launch phase, Hulu Plus is available by invitation only. You can get one here.
EXCLUSIVE: As Max Payne director John Moore finishes the first graphic novel he helped create, he tells me he has set his sights on a 3D big screen transfer of the reality series Ice Road Truckers as his next film. He said that when casting fell through on his Paramount/Skydance aviation drama Northern Lights – the pic was grounded when Taylor Lautner dropped out — Moore sparked to Ice Road Truckers, the History Channel’s top-rated reality series which 20th Century Fox president Emma Watts acquired for the big screen in 2008. Moore said he and an unnamed writer (because he doesn’t have a deal yet) have come up with a take that has the studio excited.
They’re hatching a plot around the storyline of the series, which covers a group of truckers who drive 18-wheelers over a 350-mile highway made of ice, as they haul equipment and supplies to diamond miners working in the tundra of Canada’s Northwest Territories. It’s a dangerous job given the brutal cold, breakdowns, crashes and melting ice on the remote roads are potentially fatal. “It is very much a tough guy movie,” Moore said. “Here’s a bunch of characters who tackle problems by getting in there and getting things done. We’ll turn it into a mission movie that harkens back to Towering Inferno, Jaws, or The Guns of Navarone. You got a problem, go solve it.”
But, first, Moore teamed with Richie …
EXCLUSIVE: Now that Spyglass has emerged as the favorite to steer MGM’s future fortunes — although Summit insists it’s not out of the running yet and Lionsgate is in merger talks — more details are emerging about MGM’s possible future. Insiders tell me that the Spyglass plan would transform MGM into a pure production company and close down its marketing and distribution divisions. That would certainly cut costs in the short run. Coupled with the equity that Spyglass would bring to the table, a streamlined MGM would lower its debt and have a shot at raising new funding to finance its own pictures. That would let Spyglass partners Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum do what they do well, which is to lower risk by making domestic and offshore distribution deals.
But I see the downside of this plan. MGM would have to pay others to distribute and market its films — and those fees could be comparable or higher than the monies saved on overhead. I’m told that rival Summit and Lionsgate proposals would maintain MGM as a studio because both companies have distribution divisions. The Spyglass move would mean yet another morphing of MGM over the recent past. Under Harry Sloan, the revived studio started off as a distribution rental system for films by financiers like Sidney Kimmel and The Weinstein Co, a strategy that didn’t work.
EXCLUSIVE: My recent scoop that Peter Jackson is negotiating to direct the two installments of The Hobbit is probably the best news for debt-laden MGM in years. But the development has put extra pressures on the beleaguered studio backers. Because making a 2-picture directing deal with the Lord Of The Rings director is no easy feat. I’m told that 30% of the gross is already committed to various participants, including Jackson (just for writing and producing!). He and Fran Walsh don’t work cheap, and they once got $20 million against 20% of gross from Universal to direct King Kong (Jackson, who can’t get enough of Kong and just oversaw the renovation of the ape attraction on the Universal backlot). Insiders tell me that gross participants are right now being asked to make adjustments so that MGM and its partner, Warner Bros, can finance the film and make money. Creative deals are becoming routine on sequels like Men in Black, but they aren’t easy. There’s no certainty that MGM creditors will respond to the urgency that Jackson’s reps are ready to make a deal.
Hurrah. Some good news for the British Film Institute in the wake of its merger with the UK Film Council being cancelled. American Express will be headline sponsor of this year’s BFI London Film Festival this October. The credit card company will also support quarterly screenings at the BFI Imax, and the Screen Epiphanies series at BFI Southbank, where celebrities introduce and discuss films that have inspired them. Stars including John Hurt and Juliet Stephenson and director Sam Taylor-Wood have taken part. Amex cardholders will be offered priority tickets, the best seats in the house and “meet and greet” opportunities. The BFI won’t say how long the Amex sponsorship deal will last for, nor how much it is worth.
Amanda Nevill, director of the BFI, points out that 58% of the BFI’s total funding is self-generated. Our cheekychops culture minister Ed Vaizey has inserted himself into the press release, congratulating the BFI on how the Amex partnership is an excellent example of private business supporting the arts. It’s something the BFI’s going to have to get more adept at. Vaizey has just cancelled the BFI National Film Centre, leaving the institute to find the entire £166 million ($271 million) cost itself.