Terrence Howard is boarding NBC’s upcoming Law & Order spinoff, Law & Order: Los Angeles, joining Alfred Molina, Skeet Ulrich and Corey Stoll.
Howard will play a new Deputy D.A. who will work alongside Deputy D.A. Morales (Molina). Howard and Molina will be splitting the workload, each appearing roughly in the half of the episodes thus allowing the show to land big feature names and the actors to stay active in movies.
Ulrich and Stoll play Detective Rex Winters and TJ Jaruszalski. Production on LOLA is slated to begin on Aug. 2 for a Sept. 22 premiere.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced that it launched Virgin Produced, a joint venture with Relativity Media for TV development, packaging and production. What the company didn’t say is that it chose as its chief creative officer and overseer of development the most diabolical of the menacing siblings from Malcolm in the Middle. Justin Berfield, who has grown up and transitioned from actor to producer with J2 partner Jason Felts, has taken that post for Branson. Felts is CEO, and they will make product to be distributed through the Rogue label. Berfield isn’t the only former kid actor I’ve come across recently who has transitioned to adulthood behind the camera. Another is Peter Billingsley, who directed the Universal comedy Couples Retreat, you have to look close to see signs of his childhood identity, as the kid who nearly shot his eye out with a BB gun in The Christmas Story. Berfield has gotten producing credits on some movies and TV projects over the past several years, and he and Felts are still working on a pic about Grateful Dead singer/guitarist Jerry Garcia.
At the top of NBC’s executive session, NBC Uni TV Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin announced that a couple of series will premiere early behind the final episodes of America’s Got Talent. The second season of Parenthood will launch on Sept. 14, after the second-to-last episode of Talent. New Friday drama Outlaw will get a sneak preview after the Wednesday finale of Talent.
Additionally, primetime entertainment president Angela Bromstad said the network has extended its production deal with Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44, which will now take over the NBC pilot for Prime Suspect, which the network plans to shoot off-cycle. Alexandra Cunningham (Desperate Housewives) is now writing the script for the adaptation of the iconic British series, which will be a 2-hour pilot. (Hank Steinberg was originally tapped as writer last development season) NBC also announced a development deal with Gladiator producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter Parkes.
Another piece of news, Rob Lowe will now be a regular on Parks & Recreation. And 30 Rock will do a live episode on Oct. 14, going back to the SNL roots of creator/star Tina Fey and frequents SNL host Alec Baldwin.
Gaspin, whose last TCA appearance came in the midst of the Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno debacle in January, opened the NBC executive session by saying: “I’m happy to be at TCA under different circumstances than last time. I’d like to thank ABC for creating the headlines this time.”
Asked whether he or NBC Uni … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: While Precious director Lee Daniels continues to wait for financing to mobilize on the Civil Rights drama Selma, he has closed a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to rewrite and direct The Butler. The Laura Ziskin-produced drama is based on Eugene Allen. A servant in the White House over 34 years, Allen watched the eight presidents he worked for wrestle with and finally stem the tide of segregation. The film is based on a series of articles written on Butler by Wil Haygood. After Haygood’s first article, the long-retired Allen was invited to be a guest at the inauguration of the country’s first African American president, Barack Obama, bringing his experience full circle. The first draft was written by Recount‘s Danny Strong.
Daniels will begin re-writing immediately and I’m told the picture could be ready to start before year’s end–Daniels has gone as far as approach Denzel Washington about the title role–if Selma doesn’t finally get its funding together quickly. The film, about Lyndon Johnson, Martin Luther King and the marches that led to civil rights reform, might finally be verging on happening. Deals aren’t closed, but it looks like Harvey Weinstein’s The Weinstein Company will commit $8 million in funding for domestic distribution, with Pathe matching that amount and taking foreign. Daniels’ WME reps have lined up an equity investor–I’ve heard Skyline Pictures–to provide the remaining funds for a budget that is $18 million, after location rebates.
While Precious grossed … Read More »
No surprise here: freshman Rizzoli & Isles and veteran The Closer have been on fire since getting paired on Monday earlier this month. Leverage also has been a solid performer for the network, showing growth in its new Sunday slot. No word yet on freshman Memphis Beat and Hawthorne. Here is TNT’s release.
TNT has ordered new seasons of three of the network’s hit series. The Closer, which continues to rank as ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time, will return for its seventh season. Rizzoli & Isles, which currently ranks as cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date, will return for a second season. Leverage, which is performing exceptionally well in its new Sunday timeslot, will be back for a fourth season. TNT has ordered 15 episodes each of The Closer and Leverage, along with 13 episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, with all three slated to start their new seasons in 2011.
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EXCLUSIVE: Last night, at 9:13 PM, outgoing ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson’s pit bull litigator Marty Singer faxed the following letter to The Hollywood Reporter. It accuses THR of becoming an “outrageous scandal sheet” now that former US magazine editor Janice Min and new publisher Lori Burgess are in charge. “It appears that with a new editor and publisher, THR is adopting tabloid-like behavior”. According to my own reporting, McPherson worked at Disney/ABC without any sexual harrassment-related complaints brought to the company’s attention until 2010. This year, however, one sexual harassment complaint was made by a woman against McPherson, and HR conducted an investigation. My sourcing indicates that McPherson’s resignation was voluntary and unrelated to the probe:
The UK film distributor was trying to buy TV company Target Entertainment for £10 million ($15 million), but neither side could agree. Endemol or US companies — keen to take advantage of the weak pound – could still buy Target, which has a library of 6,000 hours of television programming.
Paris-based Zodiak has bought an 8% stake in UK independent TV producer Shed Media. Another 2% more and Zodiak could stymie Time Warner, which is trying to buy Shed. Cyrte Investments, the investment company of Endemol-founder John De Mol, sold its 7.8% Shed stake to Zodiak on June 1. But the deal has only just come to light in a Stock Market footnote to another Shed investor, Aviva, selling 6% of its shares.
Last month, Zodiak closed a deal to acquire U.K.’s RDF Media Group, already creating the third largest independent TV production company in the world.
Time Warner could pay up to £90 million ($135 million) for Shed. The studio wants Shed, which makes Supernanny for America, because it wants to expand overseas, replicating the success it has had in America with hit shows such as The Wire and Gossip Girl – both of which have exported well. It recently hired ex-Tiger Aspect managing director Andrew Zein to buy independent TV producers and grow Warner Bros’ UK production business.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s 2010 Emmy coverage.
Word is that the Academy of TV Arts and Sciences could release as soon as today its list of both eligible and ineligible producers on programs nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards. It would dovetail with the common practice of burying controversial or unpopular information just when everyone’s heading out for the weekend. The buzz continues to be that the TV Academy is toning down its stand fueled by the Producers Guild in targeting allegedly undeserving producers and capping the number permitted on nominated comedy and drama series rosters in particular. That said, Ann Farriday, the WGA’s lead field rep in television, tells me that many of the same concerns that have bubbled up in recent years continue to be on the table in terms of the series role of writer-producers and the perception of their being minimized in the process. “We’re hopeful that we see some progress on that this year,” she notes, “but we’re obviously not going to really know until we see the list.” She said it’s her understanding the Academy has opted this year not to re-target producers who already have been once vetted. “This year, it’s more about looking at new producers and those on new shows rather than ones who have already been looked at in the past,” she says. “That’s what the questionnaire sent out to showrunners indicated this time, anyway. I think there’s the hope at the Academy that things will go smoothly this time, … Read More »
The Wall Street Journal reports that Reliance ADA Group is negotiating with Universal Studios to replicate its movie-themed amusement parks in India. The result would be a $1.5 billion new park that covers 400 acres –in either New Delhi or Mumbai–and would combine Universal park attractions with others devoted to Bollywood films. Universal would take a licensing fee for its branded attractions that include themed attractions involving such Marvel Comics characters as Spider-Man, The Hulk and Doctor Doom–deals made well before theme park rival Disney bought Marvel–as well as Dr. Seuss attractions. There are also the venerable rides based on the films of Reliance’s DreamWorks partner Steven Spielberg–who gets a cut of theme park receipts–with Jaws, E.T. and Jurassic Park. Universal’s Islands of Adventure just opened an entire wing of the park devoted to the Warner Bros franchise Harry Potter, which recently opened after two years of construction, highlighted by a ridiculously ambitious simulator ride housed within a replica of Hogwarts Academy that has been carved into a faux mountainside setting that is as overwhelming as the $200 million I’m told was spent to build it. WSJ qualifies that the deal is in the talking stage, but it would mark Reliance’s latest foray into Hollywood. Besides its partnership with DreamWorks, Reliance made first look deals with the production companies of Brad Pitt, Chris Columbus, Jay Roach, George Clooney, Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, Nicolas Cage and … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The young British director has just come off directing the This Is England TV series for Channel 4. Working Title is planning to shoot Lost For Words in January. Tom Cruise was going to play the lead at one point after Hugh Grant dropped out. Susanne Bier was set to direct. I’m hearing Working Title is rebooting with a younger cast. Lost For Words follows a movie star approached to star in a film by a Chinese director; after flirting with her translator, he falls for her director. The script is by Richard Curtis and his brother Jamie. Tim Bevan, co-chair of Working Title, tells me: “We are very excited about taking this back to roots and getting an exciting young director and British cast for a modestly budgeted Richard Curtis and WT romantic comedy.”
UPDATE: UK culture minister Jeremy Hunt and arts minister Ed Vaizey have rowed back transferring the £15 million ($19 million) lottery film cash to the British Film Institute. Nor are they going to ask BBC Films and Film4 to split the money between them. I’m told that BBC Films has reacted “with horror” at the prospect of controlling the lottery cash. The BBC’s film department may make the same kind of features as the UK Film Council, but getting hold of that money could see its own £12 million funding being cut.
The irony is that it was the Arts Council of England’s original bungling of the lottery film cash that partly led to the UKFC being established. In the late 90s, producers were crying out for proper industry executives to award production funding, not a committee of well-meaning amateurs. Now it looks like we’re going full circle. “Once it finds out what’s going on, the whole industry will start laughing and then start crying,” says my source.
Tim Bevan, co-chair of Working Title, and UKFC chief executive John Woodward met Vaizey and Hunt this afternoon at 2:30pm (6:30am PST).
Liam Neeson, meanwhile, has weighed in to the controversy, calling the government’s decision “deplorable”. Neeson told the BBC: “We need movies. It’s a powerful industry that provides a credible entertainment for millions of people and I think it is wrong, I just think it is wrong for the government [to do this]. I … Read More »
She’s in advanced talks to play the wife in British director Terence Davies’ adaptation of the 1952 play The Deep Blue Sea, says the Daily Mail. Even today, Terrance Rattigan’s script feels like wrenching stuff. Weisz would play a woman who leaves her companionable husband when she becomes sexually enslaved by an alcoholic ex-fighter pilot. Although she’s 40, it’s the first time she’s ever had an orgasm. Having smashed up her marriage, she then sticks her head in a gas oven when her booze-addled boyfriend walks out on her.
Greta Scacchi played the part in a London stage revival a couple of years ago. Peggy Ashcroft, who originally played Hester Collyer opposite Kenneth More as her lover, complained the role made her feel as if she was walking around on stage naked. Rattigan wrote the play after an old boyfriend of his committed suicide. Weisz won an Olivier in March for her portrayal of another emotionally-damaged woman, Blanche DuBois, in A Streetcar Named Desire.
Miramax Deal “95%” Done
Colony Capital Now Leading Ron Tutor’s Miramax Negotiations
Back on July 8th I was the first to tell you that construction magnate Ron Tutor and Tom Barrack’s Santa Monica-based Colony Capital led by former Disney CFO Richard Nanula had joined together to negotiate the acquisition of Miramax from Disney. And so that deal finally gets done tonight after so many frustrating and annoying stops and starts, and bidders and runners-up. (Announcement below.) Still, this was relativity speedy considering that Colony Capital only a month ago entered the deal as a big equity provider matching Tutor’s equity of several hundred million dollars. So I have to ask: Are bidding war losers Harvey and Bob Weinstein crying into their beer tonight?
All in all, $660 million is a very good price for the company because film library values have taken a hit as DVD/video has flattened. True, Disney once placed a sky-high $1.2 billion pricetag on the Miramax library. The studio hoped to get around $800 million, then $700 million, and this number comes awfully close to that. The final figure exceeds the $625M-$650M which the Weinstein brothers/Ron Burkle/Fortress-Colbeck partnership seemed ready to pay until talks broke down. Due diligence showed that Miramax is sitting on a lot of cash, as much as $300M in receivables. Also, I’ve learned that Disney stands to make even more because … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE UPDATE 6:30 PM: We’ve just learned the backstory of how Ellen DeGeneres bowed out of American Idol and who will be the new judge taking her place. It’s Jennifer Lopez, whose singing and acting career has been on the skids after her recent movie failed at the box office in the spring and she was dropped by her record company Sony Music Epic Records this past winter. We hear her manager Benny Medina (whom she once fired) orchestrated the meeting with the American Idol producers a month ago, and negotiations have been ongoing ever since. We’ve learned a deal was closed earlier this week under the utmost secrecy. Today’s news came shortly after Nigel Lythgoe returned to Idol as an executive producer. He has vowed to shake up the show’s team of judges in the wake of the departure of Simon Cowell, publicly stating that he always thought a panel of three and not 4 made the most sense.
Still to be decided is who will replace Simon Cowell. Everyone associated with the show wants Elton John, but we hear he’s asking for too much money and has too many touring commitments he can’t get out of. (Denials That Justin Or Elton Judging ‘Idol’) 2ND UPDATE: Tonight, unconfirmed reports say Idol has offered Cowell’s judge seat to Steven Tyler. 3RD UPDATE: And another unconfirmed report claimed judge Kara DioGuardi has been fired to bring the panel count down to just 3, not 4.
As for Ellen Degeneres, we’re told she wanted off the show two months ago and complained that Idol producers “couldn’t control Cowell”, one insider tells us. Least of all Cecile Frot-Coutaz, the CEO of FremantleMedia North America. “Cecile is doing X Factor with Simon, so she’s in his back pocket.” DeGeneres and her reps went in to to see Fox Broadcasting’s Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice and Alternative TV President Mike Darnell and asked to be let out of the year left on her contract. “She’s not comfortable. She’s not happy. It’s not been fun,” Fox was told. But Rice and Darnell responded that, with Cowell leaving, “We can’t let you out now because it would be bad for our franchise. Give us a chance to figure out who we could get.” In the end, all the show’s producers – Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment – worked it out. “Peter Rice was awesome,” an insider tells us. “Ellen is thrilled and relieved.” We’ve learned that serious conversations took place between Idol and Jessica Simpson to replace Ellen. But once Jennifer Lopez was locked in this week, the DeGeneres announcement went out. Read More »
After a popular Nikita movie and series, why retell the story yet again in a new series? It’s a legitimate question and one the writer of the upcoming CW series Nikita Craig Silverstein asked himself when Warner Bros. TV approached him with the idea to do something with the title. “I took it upon myself to find a way — could it be done fresh? Could we have a take where you didn’t know how this story was going to end? And that’s when I came upon the idea of following Nikita (Maggie Q) after she had left the agency which is a chapter that’s never been told, and at the same time doing justice to the origin story of Nikita, that dark fairy tale of taking a girl and changing her life, changing her identity, and the kind of Pygmalion aspect of transforming her into a killer, a beautiful killer and giving her etiquette lessons and all that stuff. We’re doing that with the character of Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca). You don’t know which way this girl is going to go, you don’t know how the story is going to end. So it’s not a rehash.”
McG hit on the empowered female characters theme in Nikita. “From my experience with Charlie’s Angels on down, it’s just I like the idea of empowered female characters that don’t apologize for being beautiful, but are very, very intelligent and multi-dimensional, and I think Maggie nails that voicing.”
Director Danny Cannon shed some light on the action-packed pilot’s budget. “I’m very proud that this pilot cost a third of what other pilots cost this year. And that’s because I did … Read More »
I hear that Steve McPherson, who resigned as ABC Entertainment Group president this week, has asked pit bull litigator Marty Singer to specifically target The Hollywood Reporter. If you haven’t noticed, the front page of THR is increasingly resembling TMZ as a Hollywood scandal sheet now that former US magazine editor Janice Min has taken over. Today, Singer issued this statement; “Steve McPherson is not going to sit back idly regarding the false & defamatory stories fueled by unknown and anonymous sources that are now appearing in the media since his resignation from ABC. He has retained Martin Singer and Lavely & Singer to deal with these defamatory stories.”