Is Jean-Jacques Annaud’s ‘Black Gold’ Biggest Ever Arab-Backed Pic?

Tarak Ben Ammar’s Quinta Communications has brought the Doha Film Institute aboard as a co-producer of Black Gold, the Jean-Jacques Annaud-directed feature that began production in Tunisia on October 18. DFI, making its first foray into a major international feature production, will provide a mix of equity, services and locations. Even though the $55 million picture is directed by a French helmer, Black Gold is shaping up to be groundbreaking for a film that is back by Arabs with subject matter about them. An adaptation of the Hans Reusch novel The Great Thirst, Black Gold stars Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede. The drama is about the rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia in the 1930s, just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. The film is being earmarked for Christmas, 2011 release, and Warner Bros has signed on to distribute in France, UK, Latin America and the Middle East, while Universal Pictures International will release it in Germany and Spain and Quinta’s Eagle Pictures has Italy. Read More »

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New Zealand Passes “Hobbit” Deal: Opposition MPs Call It “Day Of Shame”

The New Zealand parliament has passed emergency legislation ensuring that the 2 back-to-back Hobbit films get made in the country. The legislation bypassed usual parliamentary committees, prompting New Zealand MPs to call it a “day of shame.” One held up a … Read More »

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Sony Profits Rise With Help From Film, TV

By | Friday October 29, 2010 @ 1:46am PDT

A 6.1% increase in sales in its movie division helped Sony’s net profit power back in the company’s 2nd quarter compared to a loss same time last year. Salt, Grown Ups, The Karate Kid and The Other Guys were solid performers. Television revenues … Read More »

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CBS Picks Up Family Comedy Starring Rob Schneider & Produced By Tannenbaums

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 8:25pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Eric and Kim Tannenbaum are fashionably late to the marketplace in their first development season at their new home, CBS TV Studios. But their last-minute comedy sale to CBS is a big one: a half-hour starring Rob Schneider in his first TV series gig in 13 years. The untitled project, to be written by Lew Morton (Saturday Night Live, Big Lake) and Schneider, is based on Schneider’s life and centers on a solitary guy who marries into a huge Mexican-American family. Morton, Eric and Kim Tannenbaum are executive producing, with Schneider and his brother John Schneider producing through their From Out of Nowhere Prods. CBS TV Studios and the Tannenbaum Co. are producing the comedy, which has received a script order. Read More »

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OSCAR: Animation Entries Down To Wire; But Will There Be Enough For 5 Nominees?

Pete Hammond

Today the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences sent out a reminder confirming the 5 PM PT November 1st deadline for 2010 Best Animated feature entries. At this point there do not appear to be enough entries to trigger five nominations rather than the more common three but there is still time, brother. What wasn’t … Read More »

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FX Adapting Korean Film ‘Soo’ To Series

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 4:52pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: FX is working on a series project based on the 2007 Korean movie Soo (aka Act of Revenge) with Barry Josephson (Life as We Know It) on board to executive produce. A History of Violence writer Josh Olson is … Read More »

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TV Teaser: ‘Walking Dead’ Stunt Video

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 4:35pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Here is an exclusive look at a compilation video from the global Walking Dead zombie stunt on Tuesday which featured hundreds of people in full zombie gear and makeup invading 26 cities worldwide, targeting major landmarks. The video plays a lot like Candid Camera, with the expected puzzled reactions … Read More »

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Lionsgate Picks Up Miley Cyrus Pic ‘LOL’

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 4:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

SANTA MONICA, CA, October 28, 2010 – Lionsgate today announced that it has acquired from Mandate Pictures the U.S. distribution rights to LOL, a coming-of-age comedy starring Miley Cyrus, Demi Moore, and Ashley Greene. Lisa Azuelos writes and directs the film, an American version of her 2008 French box

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Agent David Styne Sells Script Under Pseudonym, Steps Into New Writing Career

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 3:50pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After spending 17 years at CAA and the last three at ICM, David Styne is leaving the agency business to focus on a new career as a screenwriter. This comes after he made a sale on the first (and only) script he has ever written. Scott Steindorff’s Stone Village bought Carnival!, a comedy that Styne wrote, based on a trip to Rio that he took four years ago with his high school buddies from Los Angeles. The trip was a seminal experience for Styne and when he described it to ex-client Oliver Stone, the director told him there was a movie in it. Styne never had time to write it. When the trip’s Brazilian guide, Marco Cavalcante, was killed, Styne became determined to follow through and dedicate the movie to him. Read More »

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Lionsgate Sues Carl Icahn, Says He Was Playing A “Double Game”

Lionsgate has sued its biggest shareholder Carl Icahn, claiming he publicly opposed a merger between the company and MGM then gummed up the process until he could profit substantially from a potential marriage. Lionsgate claims Icahn publicly said he would … Read More »

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Spike TV Goes Older With Scripted Slate

Nellie Andreeva

Spike TV is recalibrating its male demo focus with a new scripted slate catering to the older portion of the 18-49 demographic. The cable network’s development slate features 6 comedies from such auspices as  veteran SNL and 30 Rock director Beth McCarthy Miller, top reality producer Thom Beers, and Wild Hogs director Walt Becker as well as one drama. ”We have spent the last few years successfully bringing in Men 18-34 with a mix of action, outrageous comedy and fun infotainment.” said Spike TV president Kevin Kay. “Now we’re focused on bringing 25-49 year-olds with scripted fare that they can relate to – especially workplace and family humor.” He described Spike’s new development as “a little broader, more content (aka advertiser)-friendly and a little bit older.” The network’s projects also feature more strong female characters, Kay said. The goal is to find a companion for Spike’s hit comedy Blue Mountain State and launch a comedy block. As for drama F.T.W., Kay said he wasn’t looking to develop in the hourlong arena but loved the spec script and found it very timely as it deals with an undercover officer infiltrating extremist militia. The trend of Spike going older and broader is not limited only to the scripted side. In the reality area, it is exemplified by the recently greenlighted coal mining docu series from Beers. Here is a list of Spike’s new scripted projects with descriptions: Read More »

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Gersh Bolsters Film Finance/Distribution Division

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 2:30pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Looking to beef up its place in the independent film finance/distribution arenas, Gersh has promoted to partner Jay Cohen, the producer who last year joined the agency to spearhead the department. Gersh has also hired producer Jennifer Dana to work closely with Cohen to package projects and work with film funds. Dana is in post-production on the Emma Roberts-Freddie Highmore film Homework, which she produced under her Mint Pictures banner. She formed her producing company after a stint with Andrew Lauren Productions. Among the film funds repped by Gersh are Queen Nefertari Productions, Northern Lights Films and Ketchup Media. The agency is also looking to secure offshore equity from Columbia, UK and China. Read More »

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Pilot Castings: Mehcad Brooks Joins USA’s ‘Roughness’, Trio Added To Lifetime’s ‘Wall’

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Mehcad Brooks has become the first actor from a cancelled fall series to line up a new pilot gig. Brooks, who had been in demand since the cancellation of ABC’s My Generation, has been tapped to co-star on USA Network’s pilot Necessary Roughness. Meanwhile, Marisa Ramirez, Brandon Quinn and and Chris Johnson have joined Lifetime’s pilot Against the Wall. Roughness, from Sony TV, centers on tough, sexy Long Island divorcee Danielle Santino (Callie Thorne), who, to make ends meet, becomes the therapist for a professional football team and quickly becomes sought after by other athletes, musicians, politicians and those living in the spotlight. Brooks will play one of her clients: a star wide receiver for the Hawks who has been unable to hold onto the ball recently while regularly getting into trouble with the law. Initially pissed about being forced into counseling with Dani, he winds up bonding closely with her. Brooks, who had a memorable season-long arc on HBO’s True Blood as Eggs, is repped by Innovative and Mosaic. Read More »

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Ridley Scott Sweet On ‘Dragon Tattoo’s Noomi Rapace For ‘Alien’ Prequel

Mike Fleming

20th Century Fox and director Ridley Scott have just about completed meetings with actresses to find the Ripley-like heroine for the 3D Alien prequel. I’m told that, so far, Scott’s favorite is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo star Noomi … Read More »

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Legendary Names Matthieu Coppet EVP

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 1:47pm PDT

Burbank, CA, October 28, 2010 — Legendary Pictures announced today the appointment of Matthieu Coppet as Executive Vice President, Corporate Strategy, who joins the leading entertainment company from UBS where he served as Global Media Strategist.

In this newly created role, Coppet will work directly with Legendary’s Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer Larry Clark to identify and pursue value-enhancing strategic opportunities for the company.

Coppet brings to Legendary nearly a decade of strategic and investment experience in the global media and digital sectors.  Coppet will continue and augment the company’s charge to acquire and grow new complementary business lines.  He will also work to utilize Legendary’s brand extensions and widen the company’s global reach into new countries and territories such as China.

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R.I.P. James MacArthur

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 1:23pm PDT

The original Danno on Hawaii Five-O died in Florida of natural causes on Thursday. He was 72. MacArthur, who was the son of Helen Hayes and playwright Charles MacArthur, was at the other end of one of TV’s most famous lines: “Book’em Danno” was the order whenever his TV partner … Read More »

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Showtime ‘Crazy’ For Blog-Based Comedy

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 11:42am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Showtime is developing Boycrazy, a half-hour comedy based on Alexi Wasser’s provocative blog, with Wasser attached to star and Lynda Obst to executive produce. Wasser will co-create the potential series with Daisy Gardner (Californication), who will serve as showrunner. Boycrazy centers on a girl (Wasser) looking for love, purpose, and the meaning of her life, one dude at a time. It follows her as she tries to navigate the world of sexuality in the post-modern society of Los Angeles while trying to find real love. 3 Arts Entertainment is producing, with WME-repped Gardner, Obst and 3 Arts’ Dave Becky and Alan Rautbort executive producing. Wasser is with Don Buchwald & Assoc. This is the latest Internet property to migrate to TV. CBS’ sitcom $#*! My Dad Says was based on the Twitter feed, CBS is developing 2 more Twitter feed-based comedies for next season, Dear Girls Above Me and Shh … Don’t Tell Steve, while ABC is working on a series based on the Awkward family Photos blog. And Showtime recently acquired Lisa Kudrow’s Web Therapy videos to convert them into three 5-minute interstitials. Read More »

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It’s Official: Eric McCormack To Star In TNT Pilot ‘Perception’

Nellie Andreeva

Following some pretty intense final negotiations, Eric McCormack has closed a deal to return to TNT as the star of the network’s pilot Perception. The Will & Grace alum will play the lead in the project, Dr. … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Sanctum’

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 11:11am PDT
Mike Fleming

A trailer has been released for Sanctum, the James Cameron-produced feature that Alister Grierson directed based on the natural mishap that befell a team of cave divers in Australia. The film will be released February 4, and is considered an important next step in Cameron’s evolution of 3D technology for … Read More »

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