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Cinemax Greenlights ‘Transporter’ Series Executive Produced by Luc Besson

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 10:49am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Cinemax is teaming with Luc Besson for a TV series based on his popular Transporter film franchise. After lengthy negotiations, HBO’s sibling pay-cable channel has committed to 12 episodes of  the action drama, produced by French company Atlantique and executive produced by Besson. This is the  second series order under Cinemax’s current push in original scripted fare. Last month, the network partnered with British satcaster Sky for another action series, the 10-part Strike Back.

Transporter, the series, will center on professional transporter Frank Martin, played in the movies by Jason Statham. Operating in a seedy underworld of dangerous criminals and desperate players, Martin can always be counted on to get the job done — discreetly. He has three rules: Never change the deal, no names and never open the package.

Transporter, which has also secured broadcasters in France (M6) and Germany (RTL) will begin production this summer in Europe and Canada and will be presented at the upcoming MIPTV market. According to Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp., the budget for the series is $48 million. Atlantique’s parent company Lagardere Entertainment is fully-financing the show, having licensed The Transporter from EuropaCorp. In addition to Besson, the series is being executive produced by Klaus Zimmermann and Fred Fuchs.

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NBC Orders Betty White Reality Series

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 9:55am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC has picked up Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, a new hidden-camera comedy show hosted and executive produced by Betty White. The series of 12 half-hour episodes will be produced by Chris Coelen’s Kinetic Content.

‪Known throughout Europe as Benidorm Bastards, Betty White’s Off Their Rockers follows a band of seven senior citizens who make it their mission to play pranks on unsuspecting younger people. “Betty White is a comedic genius who escalates hilarity in any situation,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s EVP Alternative Programming. “Viewers will thoroughly enjoy watching her pull one over on the unsuspecting youth of America.”

‪Said White, “People have been telling me that I’m ‘Off My Rocker’ for years — now I can prove it.”

‪The deal reunites White with NBC, where The Golden Girls ran successfully for seven seasons. More recently, White’s hosting gig on NBC’s Saturday Night Live earned her an Emmy. White remains one of the busiest actresses in Hollywood. Having just turned 89, she continues to star on TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland, which has been picked up for a third season. In addition, her new book If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) will be released May 3. The original series by Shelter in Belgium, Benidorm, swept the 2010 Rose d’Or Awards, winning the Best Comedy Award as well as the Golden Rose for Best Program of the entire competition. In addition, the show won Best Comedy Format at the 2010 FRAPA Format … Read More »

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Gulliver McGrath To Play ‘Dark Shadows’ Kid Role; Will Michael Sheen Play His Dad?

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 9:48am PDT
Mike Fleming

Tim Burton has set Gulliver McGrath to play the role of David Collins in Dark Shadows. It was a coveted role on the pint-sized set, and I’ve heard Burton has his sights on Michael Sheen to play his father, Roger Collins. The young Australian actor made it to the finals for the lead in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo Cabret, then got a small role after the job went to Asa Butterfield. The role of David Collins was originated in the 60s soap by David Henesy, and then Joseph Gordon-Levitt played him in the 1990 series revival. Johnny Deep heads a cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Bella Heathcoate, Jackie Earle Haley and Eva Green, with Helena Bonham Carter also expected to join. Seth Grahame-Smith wrote the script. McGrath is repped by Management 360, ARG in London and Emma Raciti in Australia.

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ICM Merges Film And TV Talent Into One Department And Names Troika To Run In

By and | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 9:16am PDT

EXCLUSIVE: ICM is centralizing its talent leadership. Lorrie Bartlett, Dar Rollins and Adam Schweitzer are being named co-heads of talent for the agency this morning. The new structure covers talent spread across all areas, including film, TV, theater, branding and new media. Under ICM’s previous setup, the agency had separate TV talent and film talent departments. The TV talent department was overseen by Mike Jelline, who left ICM on Monday, and the motion picture talent group by Schweitzer and Scott Schachter. “The creative community moves seamlessly across entertainment platforms,” ICM president Chris Silbermann said. “We’re realigning our leadership to a forward-thinking approach that encompasses the full scope of representation. Lorrie, Dar and Adam have distinguished themselves as exceptional agents and leaders and have earned the respect and admiration of their colleagues and the entertainment community. They are a natural choice to lead our talent department.”

Bartlett, Rollins and Schweitzer’s roster of clients include Oscar winners Al Pacino, Christoph Waltz, William Hurt and Dianne Wiest, Oscar nominees Abigail Breslin, Frank Langella and David Strathairn, Emmy winners Eric Stonestreet, Kelly Macdonald, Ray Romano and James Spader, Emmy nominees Kevin Dillon, David Duchovny, Christina Ricci, James Belushi and Michael Keaton, as well as film and TV stars Zoe Saldana, Tom Hiddleston, Josh Duhamel, Josh … Read More »

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RATINGS RAT RACE: ABC Freshman Series & ‘Survivor’ Hit Lows, Univision Third Again

Nellie Andreeva

A two-hour American Idol (7.5/21 in adults 18-49, 23.6 million viewers) delivered another dominating Wednesday win for Fox. The Top 11 performance show (redux) was down 5% from last week’s Top 11 performance episode and 1% in total viewers. But in the apples-to-apples comparison to last week’s fast national numbers for the show, which always climbs in the finals, Idol was down 3% in 18-49 and up a fraction in total viewers.

CBS’ Survivor: Redemption Island (2.9/9) was down 6% from last week and is the show’s lowest-rated regular telecast ever. Criminal Minds (3.4/9) was down 6% from its last original two weeks ago. With a new Criminal Minds as a lead-in vs. a repeat last week, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (2.3/5) was up 5%.

Following reruns of The Middle and Modern Family, Mr. Sunshine (1.4/4) was down a steep 33% from last week when it followed a new Modern Family for a new series low. Midseason drama Off the Map (1.3/4) was down 13% to tie its series low.

NBC aired a new Minute to Win It (1.1/3), down 8% from last week, a rerun Law & Order: SVU and a new SVU (2.4/6), down 8%.

For a second time this week, Univision finished third for the night in adults 18-49. Last night, it outpaced ABC and NBC.

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SAG, AFTRA Reach Tentative Agreement On Corporate/Educational Contract

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 9:15am PDT

LOS ANGELES (March 31, 2011) – Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists today announced that the Joint AFTRA and SAG Non-Broadcast/Industrials Negotiating Committee have reached a tentative agreement with industry representatives on terms for three-year successor agreements to the SAG Industrial and Educational Contract and the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Non Broadcast/Industrial/Educational Recorded Material. The contracts were set to expire on April 30, 2011 and will now be effective May 1, 2011 to April 30, 2014.

The new agreement includes a 4.04% overall increase in minimum compensation during the term of the agreement, with a 2% increase effective on May 1, 2011 and another 2% increase effective on Nov. 1 2012, 18 months into the term of the contract. The agreement also obtains a 0.2% increase in employer contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds and the Screen Actors Guild-Producers Pension and Health Plans, effective on May 1, 2011, which raises the total employer contribution from 15.3% to 15.5%, as well as the addition of “new media” to the areas of jurisdiction covered by these contracts.

Further, and as proposed by Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA to more clearly reflect the type of work produced under these agreements, the contracts have been renamed the AFTRA National Code of Fair Practice for Corporate/Educational Recorded Material and the Producers-SAG 2011 Codified Corporate/Educational Contract.

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Sony Animation Acquires ‘Muncle Trogg’

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 9:15am PDT
Mike Fleming

Sony Pictures Animation has bought screen rights to the Janet Foxley children’s novel Muncle Trogg. It is the first acquisition made by Michelle Raimo-Kouyate since she joined as president of production. She made the deal with Sony Pictures Digital Productions president Bob Osher. The book is about a fairytale community based inside a volcano, and hidden away from humans. Jane Startz will be exec producer and Kane Lee will be co-producer.

“There are strong characters, relatable themes, a unique world and tons of inherent comedy,” said Raimo-Kouyate. “As soon as I read Muncle Trogg, I knew this would speak to the kinds of animated movies I want to make at Sony Pictures Animation.”

The division most recently released Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and has The Smurfs coming up with Sony Pictures.

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Sundance Film ‘The Convincer’ Nears ATO Distribution Deal

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The impressive volume of distribution deals for 2011 Sundance Film Festival fare is about to expand again. I’m told that ATO Pictures is wrapping up a deal for US rights to The Convincer, the Karen Sprecher-directed dark comedy that stars Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and Billy Crudup. It’s Fargo-style caper-gone-awry tale in which a conniving insurance salesman (Kinnear) thinks he has found a way to fortify his bank account and get his wife back. He sets out to scam a retired farmer (Arkin) out of a rare violin worth $25,000. A lot goes wrong and blood and dead bodies ensue. Produced by Werc Werk Works, the film was scripted by the director and her sister Jill, who also did Clockwatchers together. CAA is repping the film.  ATO, which was hatched by Johnathan Dorfman, Temple Fennell and musician Dave Matthews, distributed George Hickenlooper’s final film Casino Jack and recently acquired The Woman in the Fifth.

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Humanitas’ ‘New Voices’ Program Lands First Script Orders For Emerging Writers

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 8:42am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Four-and-a-half months after it was announced, Humanitas’ New Voices initiatives for emerging TV writers has received its first four script orders from participating studios/networks. Back in November, 20th Century Fox TV, NBC Universal, CBS, ABC Studios, Lionsgate and HBO each made blind commitments to buy two scripts written by up-and-coming writers under the supervision of a Humatitas’ Trustee or Board member. Since then, FX has joined the group, bringing the total number of blind script commitments to 14.

And now, 20th TV, its cable division Fox 21, CBS TV Studios and ABC Studios has each ordered one pilot script, with a fifth script deal pending. 20th TV has bought a pilot script for Mambo Palace, a single-camera comedy by Luisa Leschin, with Humanitas Trustee Ali LeRoi, creator of Everybody Hates Chris, supervising. CBS Studios has ordered Neil Cohen’s single-camera script Judge School, which is being supervised by Trustee Gary David Goldberg. Fox 21 has ordered a pilot script for the one-hour drama Majestic from Will Pascoe with Trustee and Bones creator Hart Hanson supervising. ABC Studios ordered a script for Christian Trokey’s one-hour drama Map, Myth, Bone, with Trustee Marc Guggenheim (No Ordinary Family) supervising. Read More »

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SAG Nominating Committees To Be Drawn Friday

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 8:35am PDT

Submissions for next year’s SAG Awards open July 11.

LOS ANGELES (March 31, 2011) – The 4,200 Screen Actors Guild members who will determine the nominees for the 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® for this year’s outstanding performances in film and primetime television will be drawn by random sample this Friday, April 1, 2011, SAG Awards® Committee Chair JoBeth Williams announced today.

The SAG Awards’ separate film and television nominating committees, each consisting of 2,100 SAG members from around the country, are randomly selected anew each year. To be eligible to serve on one of this year’s nominating committees, SAG members may not have served on the same nominating committee in the past five years and must have paid their November 2010 membership dues by March 18, 2011.

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Peabody Winners: ‘Good Wife,’ ‘Men Of A Certain Age,’ HBO Among Honorees

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 8:26am PDT

The 70th annual Peabody Awards, recognizing the best in electronic media, unveiled a record 39 recipients today, with broadcast network show The Good Wife (CBS) and cable series Men Of A Certain Age (TNT) and Justified (FX) among those honored. HBO won several awards, including for The PacificTemple Grandin and several documentaries. Also included was ESPN’s documentary series 30 For 30, which was commissioned to commemorate the all-sports network’s 30th anniversary.

The full list after the jump: Read More »

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Universal/Illumination Easter Bunny Film ‘Hop’ Springs 92 Promo Partners

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 7:53am PDT
Mike Fleming

When Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment launch the live action/CG-animated Hop in theaters tomorrow, the film will be aided by a total of 92 promotional partnerships and licensing deals around the world. Illumination Entertainment head Chris Meledandri’s recent addition of former Fox Animation cohort Gail Harrison to head Illumination’s creative shows how important marketing and sponsorships will be for his family films. It’s unclear at this point whether Hop will duplicate the success of Illumination’s first release Despicable Me, but you can’t say Universal hasn’t hustled, particularly with the breadth of tie-in partners it put together.

The biggest deals in the US include Walmart, Burger King, Comcast, Hallmark, The Hershey Company and Kodak. Walmart has made the film a big part of its Easter-themed retail effort, and Hop has offshore retailer deals with Target in Australia, El Corte Ingles in Spain, hmv in the UK and Jay Jay’s in South Africa. Burger King is slinging Hop toys with Kids Meals; Comcast is featuring more than three dozen segments of Hop content via its On Demand and online services; Kodak is selling Hop-themed products, and Lima Sky/Doodle Jump has a game app based on the film.

Among the other partners:

* Bokados (Mexico) – On-pack promotion on 3 million snack products supported with in store POS plus an outdoor, radio and TV campaign;
* Bolthouse Farms (U.S.) – Co-branded promotion on more than 20 million bags;
* Bakery Craft (U.S.) – Cake kits, cupcake rings and … Read More »

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Steven Maeda Inks Deal With ABC Studios

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 7:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Steven Maeda has inked a premium two-script deal with ABC Studios. Under the pact, Maeda will have an office on the Disney lot and, in addition to writing 2 scripts for the  studio, he may also executive producer/supervise other projects. Maeda worked with ABC Studios earlier this development season when he developed the drama Courtroom 302 for studio-based producer Mark Gordon. Before that, he served as executive producer/showrunner on the CBS series Miami Medical for Jerry Bruckheimer and Warner Bros. TV and executive producer/showrunner for Fox’s Lie To Me, produced by 20th TV and Imagine TV.

This marks Maeda’s return to ABC Studios. He previously had a multi-year overall deal with the studio (then Touchstone TV), during which he served as a co-executive producer on the ABC/Touchstone series Lost and Daybreak. Maeda’s resume also includes gigs on Chris Carter’s The X-Files and Harsh Realm and a 3-year stint on the Bruckheimer-produced CSI: Miami, on which he wrote 19 episodes, including the series premiere. Maeda is repped by UTA and attorney David Colden.

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Survey: ‘Blue Bloods’ Most Commercial Of This Season’s New Series

By | Thursday March 31, 2011 @ 6:59am PDT

It might not be the sexiest of this year’s new U.S. shows, but Blood Bloods has proved the most commercial at home and internationally combined. The Tom Selleck cop show has topped a chart of how this season’s freshman shows have performed. Blue Bloods has sold around the world, and not just to tiny channels but to big ones like Sky Atlantic in the UK, Australia’s Network Ten and Discovery Latin America. Armando Nunez, president CBS Studios International, has told TV trade Television Business International, “It’s perhaps not as sexy to talk about, but it has proven a success both on the network and in terms of global distribution.” TBI is due to publish its survey of U.S. network pick-ups Monday. Indeed, CBS’ strategy of showing procedurals might hug the shore creatively, but it has paid off globally. Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, another CBS procedural, is in second place. Says Nunez, “The road is littered with pilots and broken series and high concepts that didn’t work. We are in broadcasting.”

The Event, NBC Universal’s mystery sci-fi show, would probably have been cancelled by now has it not sold so strongly around the world, TBI deputy editor Peter White tells me. NBC Universal sold The Event to more than 200 territories early on, and it has gone on to have a full U.S. season. Of course, some of this year’s new shows still haven’t aired yet, including Fox’s Terra Nova, due to air … Read More »

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UPDATE: HBO’s ‘In Treatment’ May Continue In Different Format

By | Wednesday March 30, 2011 @ 7:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: It’s the end of the road for HBO’s psychiatry drama series In Treatment. And it isn’t. While there will be no fourth season of the half-hour drama series in its current form, it may continue on the pay cable network in a new incarnation. “It’s true that we have no plans to continue with In Treatment as previously formatted,” HBO said in a statement. “However, we are in continued conversations with the executive producers to find another way to continue telling these rich stories.” What I glean from the carefully worded statement is that Dr. Paul Weston may not have held his last session. Because Gabriel Byrne’s character has been central to the show, it is conceivable that a potential In Treatment 2.0 would keep the series’ therapy theme and its main character, Dr. Paul Weston, while probably abandoning the setup of marathon sessions with a handful of patients each season.

This would not be the first time In Treatment has beat the odds; it did it once after its second 45-episode season. Back then, the series  was almost pronounced dead after it ran out of source material (the Israeli show it was based on ran only for 2 seasons), its showrunner Warren Leight departed and star Byrne was vocal about the grueling demands of the role, which has him virtually in every scene, indicating that he may not be back. In the end, Byrne went back and HBO ordered … Read More »

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Margo Martindale Joins CBS’ Susannah Grant Drama Pilot, More Pilot Castings

By | Wednesday March 30, 2011 @ 6:55pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

In a recasting, Margo Martindale has been tapped for a co-starring role in CBS’ untitled Susannah Grant supernatural medical drama pilot. Jonathan Demme is directing the pilot, which centers on Michael (Patrick Wilson), an ultra-competitive surgeon whose life is changed forever when his ex-wife (Jennifer Ehle), a doctor running a free clinic, dies and begins teaching him what life is all about from the hereafter. Gersh-repped Martindale will play Michael’s sassy and strong-willed assistant Rita. Martindale replaces Law & Order veteran S. Epatha Merkerson who was originally cast in the role. The recasting was made shortly after Merkerson began filming the pilot. Tony-nominated Martindale has been recurring on FX’s Justified.

Veteran Hector Elizondo has joined ABC’s untitled Tim Allen comedy pilot. The multicamera project, from writer Jack Burditt, centers on Tim Fitzgerald (Allen) who, even though the world around him has declared the traditional male an “endangered species,” is fighting for his manhood in a world that is being increasingly dominated by women. Elizondo, repped by Gersh and manager Mark Teitelbaum, will play his boss at the Euclid Demolition Company who steps down from his post and makes Tim the president of the company.

Stella Maeve has landed the last lead in the NBC comedy pilot Lovelives. The multi-camera comedy … Read More »

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Hot Clip: ‘Thor’ Taser Scene

By | Wednesday March 30, 2011 @ 6:48pm PDT

This expands on the first portion of the original trailer, in which Thor crashes to Earth and is first discovered by Natalie Portman and company. The Paramount/Marvel Studios movie is due out May 6.

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Geoffrey Rush Voicing Tomar-Re In ‘Green Lantern’

By | Wednesday March 30, 2011 @ 5:09pm PDT
Mike Fleming

He’s not in the Green Lantern cast list, but I’m told that Oscar-nominated The King’s Speech star Geoffrey Rush plays an important role in the Martin Campbell-directed Warner Bros film that stars Ryan Reynolds. Sources said that it’s Rush who provided the voice for Tomar-Re, the scientist who works alongside the title character in the Green Lantern Corps. Tomar-Re, who looks a bit like the Creature From the Black Lagoon, has a long history in the DC Comics version of Green Lantern. Warner Bros will unveil footage at CinemaCon in Las Vegas tomorrow, so perhaps some of the mystery might be cleared up by Thursday.

Less certain is who’ll provide the voice for the character Kilowog. Speculation has centered on Michael Clarke Duncan. I’m told that he’s certainly a contender but a final decision hasn’t yet been made. The film opens June 17, so a decision will be made shortly.

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CONFIRMED: Arnold Schwarzenegger To Become Cartoon Superhero

By | Wednesday March 30, 2011 @ 4:56pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s reps declined to comment last week for our story that the former California Governor may be doing an animated series with producer Andy Heyward based on a superhero character created in partnership with comic book icon Stan Lee. Well, that’s probably because they were in the process of  booking the cover of Entertainment Weekly to unveil the new character. Called The Governator, it is a version of Schwarzenegger after he has left the Governor’s office and becomes a crime fighter, Lee told EW. The Governator will run operations out of a secret high-tech crime-fighting center (aka Arnold Cave) under his house in Brentwood and will have a fleet of super vehicles  and a closet full of “Super Suits” at his disposal. He will be surrounded by a gallery of sidekicks, including a 13-year-old computer whiz, and supervillains, including G.I.R.L.I.E Men, named after another Arnold-ism.

Schwarzenegger let news of the Governator slip a couple of weeks ago in an interview with a fan site, in which he said: “I am packaging a comic book character right now. I’m going to announce that sometime at the end of March or the beginning of April.” Schwarzenegger is slated to unveil the animated series in a press conference at MIPTV on April 4.

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