EXCLUSIVE: A major shake up is taking place at Arnon Milchan’s New Regency. Co-chairmen Bob Harper and Hutch Parker will not renew their contracts when they expire in December. I’ve confirmed with Harper that he and Parker are negotiating their exits. There had recently been a ripple of rumors about this, and there will be the inevitable speculation over whether the duo are jumping before being pushed. Harper didn’t get into that, but said that he was confirming because he and Parker were aware of the rumors and were most concerned with reassuring filmmakers with Regency projects that the duo would continue to be closely involved and see those films through to release. Harper also said the decision came after months of conversations with Milchan over whether or not to renew. Recently, they came to the conclusion that this was the best course. Milchan could conceivably name a replacement quickly, but Harper told me that he and Parker will continue to see through the completed films as well as some of the projects that are gearing up for production starts, regardless of how quickly the succession takes place.
Harper had been in the job for four years (he moved from the post of vice chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment and has worked for Fox since 1986), and Parker had been in the post for more than three years (he moved over from the post of 20th Century Fox vice chairman, and had been with the studio 13 years when he took the job). They have been involved in every facet of New Regency films, including production, marketing, distribution and administering the library. Harper said it is unclear what will happen next year, and that he and Harper haven’t solidified their plans. I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain on the Fox lot as producers or in some other capacity. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In its first major comedy buy this season, CBS has handed out a pilot production commitment to a multi-camera comedy from Bill Lawrence and Greg Malins. With its great pedigree, coming from Scrubs and Cougar Town creator Lawrence and former Friends and How I Met Your Mother executive producer Malins, the project became an instant hot commodity when it hit the market but I hear it went straight to CBS, which bought it on the spot. Lawrence and Malins will write together the untitled workplace comedy. (The two are keeping plot details under wraps.) Warner Bros. TV, where Lawrence and Malins are under overall deals, is producing with Lawrence’s Doozer production banner. Malins, Lawrence and Doozer president, former NBC head of comedy Jeff Ingold, are executive producing. Malins is slated to serve as showrunner. (Lawrence is running Cougar Town for one more season.) This marks the first sale for Lawrence since he moved from longtime home ABC Studios to WBTV in June with a rich, long-term deal. It also marks his return to the multi-camera genre where he co-created with Gary David Goldberg ABC’s hit Spin City before moving on to create the single-camera Scrubs and co-create with Kevin Biegel another single-camera comedy, ABC’s Cougar Town. Malins has been sought after for development this season. In addition to the comedy with Bill Lawrence, he is … Read More »
On the heels of Strike Back and Transporter, Cinemax is developing another action drama series, Sandbox. It centers on a group of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who return to the Coachella Valley to discover their hometown has been overrun by criminals. The men decide to use the skills they learned in combat to clean up the town, with unexpected results. Feature writers Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore (Red Dawn, The World After) will write the script, with Steve Kronish (24, The Kennedys) on board as showrunner. The three, all repped by Paradigm, will executive produce with Larry and Chuck Gordon. Passmore and Fabrizio, who are writing The World After with Len Wiseman set to direct and recently rewrote Hellifield for Lorenzo di Bonaventura, are managed by Aperture Entertainment’s Adam Goldworm.
After a long search, newcomer John Boyega (Attack the Block) has landed the lead in HBO’s newly picked up drama pilot Da Brick, from Spike Lee, John Ridley, Doug Ellin and Mike Tyson. Boyega will play the central character, Donnie, in the ensemble drama, which was inspired in part by Tyson’s youth and explores what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America. Released from juvenile detention on his 18th birthday, Donnie begins an exploration of what it means to be a man both for himself, and to those around him. The role does require boxing skills. Lee is directing the pilot from a script by Ridley. Ellin, Ridley, Lee, Tyson and Jim Lefkowitz are executive producing.
Banking on the smart phone boom continuing, the 12-year-old maker of software that enables users to watch live TV today filed to raise as much as $75M in an IPO. The filing did not indicate how many shares it will offer or the price. CBS, Fox and Disney’s ABC and ESPN all have content deals with MobiTV, which has seen its minutes streamed grow from 264 million in 2007 to 1.4 billion in 2010. Gefinor Ventures is the largest investor in MobiTV, along with Oak Investment partners. JPMorgan Chase & Co and Deutsche are managing the IPO for the Emeryville, Calif. firm, which was founded by Paul Scanlan, Phillip Alvelda and Jeff Annison.
UPDATE: President Barack Obama blinked in the staring contest with House Speaker John Boehner. Tonight, the White House agreed to move Obama’s speech to Thursday, the night of the opening game of the NFL season. The time of the televised address is TBD.
PREVIOUS: President Obama’s normally routine request to address a joint session of Congress has gotten pushback from Speaker of the House John Boehner, who took the rare step of asking the president to reschedule for the next day. Obama wanted to speak to Congress about jobs and the deficit on Sept. 7. “With the significant amount of time — typically more than three hours — that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a President, it is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks,” Boehner wrote to the White House. Insiders, meanwhile, say that the TV schedule is the biggest logistical problem: NBC News and Politico are hosting a debate of GOP presidential candidates on Sept. 7 at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, CA, and the fact Obama wanted to speak during MSNBC’s telecast has been taken as a jab at Republicans. If that’s true, fellow GOP’er Boehner’s solution to the problem has … Read More »
Former Greek star Scott Michael Foster has signed a talent holding deal with ABC, reuniting with the network’s president Paul Lee, who as head of ABC Family developed and launched Greek. In addition to being available for ABC pilots this coming season, Foster is joining ABC’s midseason series The River as a recurring. On the horror drama chronicling a family and TV crew’s efforts to locate a missing explorer in the Amazon, Foster will play a thrill-seeking, adventurous cameraman who may be hiding a secret.
EXCLUSIVE: After a long search process, 20th Century Fox and Bruce Willis have just chosen John Moore to direct Die Hard 5. The film will shoot in Russia, and the hope is to make it before Willis moves on to shoot a Red sequel for Summit Entertainment. In fact, Willis has just begun going through the same director search with Summit on a sequel to the 2010 hit Red. Robert Schwentke is busy helming Universal’s R.I.P.D. with Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. They’ve just begun casting the dragnet for directors on that film. Names like Breck Eisner are being floated, but other shooters are being considered.
As for Die Hard 5, Moore is in final negotiations and was in the running through the entire search as Fox tried to find a filmmaker that pleased Willis and the studio execs that have to shoot this movie in Russia and bring it in on a budget and a tight schedule. Fox has been looking for a new director since Noam Murro left the picture after he got the job helming 300: Battle Of Artemisia for Warner Bros. The studio started with a wish list of directors to helm the script by Skip Woods that included Joe Cornish (who directed Attack the Block), Fast Five helmer Justin Lin, Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, and Moore. More recently, I’d heard Fox had conversations with helmers that included Gary Fleder, Paul McGuigan and 1408 helmer Mikael Hafstrom. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The classic 1984 action-adventure romantic comedy Romancing the Stone is headed to the small screen. NBC has bought a TV series adaptation of the Robert Zemeckis movie, which was produced by 20th Century Fox and starred Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. The TV project, from 20th Century Fox TV and Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein’s studio-based 21 Laps/Adelstein Prods, has received a script commitment with penalty from NBC. The Forgotten creator Mark Friedman will write the series adaptation with Levy attached to direct subject to feature availability. The 1984 film starred Turner as a romance writer who sets off to Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister, and soon finds herself in the middle of a dangerous adventure alongside a swashbuckling American bird exporter, played by Douglas. Read More »
Greg Berlanti has taken a second project out this season, landing a second straight put pilot commitment. Following the sale earlier this month to Fox of a legal drama to be written by Berlanti’s frequent collaborator Marc Guggenheim, Berlanti and Chuck executive producer Nick Wootton have sold a police drama to CBS. It centers on a young, ambitious police officer who quickly rises to detective — maybe too quickly — after breaking up a major drug ring and becoming a hero. WME-repped Berlanti and Wootton are developing and executive producing the Warner Bros TV/Berlanti TV project together, with Wootton set to write. This marks Berlanti’s first development season at Warner Bros TV since he returned to the studio in June with a mega deal.
EXCLUSIVE: After Paul Lee rearranged his top programming executives in June, ABC and ABC Studios have now made more tweaks to their teams. The biggest one — Michael McDonald is being promoted to SVP drama development for ABC Studios and will head the studio’s drama department. The post had been vacant since June when previous drama topper Patrick Moran was elevated to Head of Creative Development for the studio as part of the executive restructuring. McDonald, whose deal is still being finalized, most recently served as VP drama current series for ABC Studios. With his promotion, both ABC’s drama and comedy departments are heading into the new development season with new leaders. Amy Hartwick was named SVP comedy development for the studio in June.
ABC Studios’ drama department is getting additional reinforcement: Emily Cummins, formerly of Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road, is joining as VP drama development. Spike TV’s highest-ranking scripted executive, Dustin Davis, will be joining ABC as director in the network’s current department. (Spike’s other scripted exec, Laurence Sullivan, already left for Conan O’Brien’s Conaco production company as the cable network is putting scripted development on hold.) Also in ABC’s current department, Karin Dubiel is being promoted from coordinator to manager. Meanwhile, Zack Olin, executive director current programming for ABC, has moved to ABC Studio’s comedy development department as executive director. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Tobey Maguire’s Material Pictures has hired Focus Features executive Matthew Plouffe to be its new SVP Production. Plouffe, who has spent the past six years in the New York headquarters of Focus, will move to Los Angeles and start the job Oct. 1. Plouffe is currently Focus’ Director of Production and has worked on such Focus films as the Sam Mendes-directed Away We Go, Shane Acker’s 9, the Ryan Fleck/Anna Boden-directed It’s Kind of A Funny Story and most recently on the Lone Scherfig-directed adaptation of One Day that stars Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Plouffe wanted to move West, and the transition was done with the blessing of Focus Features chief James Schamus, who wrote and produced Maguire’s breakout film as an actor, The Ice Storm. “All of us at Focus have been blessed over the past six years to see Matt grow to become one of the smartest, hardest-working and kindest execs out there, and while we’re sad to see him go, he couldn’t have found a better opportunity than the one Tobey has offered. It’s great to see two of the smartest people in the business teaming up,” Schamus said. Read More »
Phase 4 Films has acquired U.S. and Canadian distribution rights to Rid of Me, the James Westby-directed black comedy that will be released in the fall. Phase 4 will team with Submarine for the theatrical run of a film first seen at the Tribeca Film Festival last spring. The comedy stars Katie O’Grady as an awkward young woman trying too hard to perfect her marriage, among a new group of friends. Submarine’s Josh Braun repped the filmmakers.
The Telluride Film Festival kicks off its 38th edition Friday, marking the unofficial official launch of awards season, and for the fourth consecutive year it is getting help from the the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to do it: The Academy has granted $50,000 to underwrite the fest’s Guest Director program, which this year features musician Caetano Veloso. AMPAS has pitched in to support the past three Guest Directors Michael Ondaatje, Alexander Payne and Slavoj Zizek. ”The generous support from the Academy and our ongoing partnership allows us to continue working with brilliant artists, whose film selections are sourced from film vaults across the globe, and put together a program our audience expects and deserves,” Telluride Film Festival co-director Julie Huntsinger said in announcing the funding. The fest unveils its lineup Friday.
EXCLUSIVE: British thesp Harry Lloyd has landed the lead role in Closer to the Moon, joining Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong in the period drama. The film’s set in 1959 Bucharest, where a Jewish group of former anti-Nazi revolutionaries refocus their skills against the communists and are arrested for robbing a bank under the guise of staging a film shoot. A year later, the culprits are sentenced to death but first are forced to reenact the caper in a propaganda film. Lloyd plays a cameraman recruited to shoot that film. He falls in love with the character played by Farmiga, who has a child with one of the men (Strong) sentenced to die. Nae Caranfil is directing the film, which shoots early fall in Bucharest. Michael Fitzgerald is producing.
Lloyd’s Game of Thrones character, the wannabe king Viserys Targaryen, suffered one of the most shocking deaths on that series and so he won’t be back for Season 2. He just starred with Gemma Arterton and Rupert Friend in The Little Dog Laughed at London’s Garrick Theatre, and starred in the Cary Fukunaga-directed Jane Eyre. Lloyd just wrapped the Meryl Streep-as-Margaret Thatcher drama The Iron Lady and will also be seen in BBC’s Great Expectations, opposite Vanessa Kirby and Douglas Booth. Lloyd’s repped by ICM and UK-based Curtis Brown.
When NFL teams win the Super Bowl, they go to Disneyland; when celebrities go to jail, they get a reality show. VH1 just announced it has greenlighted a new 10-episode reality series starring rapper T.I., who is readjusting to life as a free man and recording a new album after being incarcerated for nearly a year in a federal prison in Arkansas — his second stint in three years. The yet-untitled series will premiere Dec. 5. Grammy-winning T.I., who has a wife and kids, has an acting background — he co-starred in and produced the Sony heist movie Takers, which did very well at the box office, opening at No. 1 last August. A couple of days later, T.I. was arrested.
EXCLUSIVE: Steven Soderbergh’s hunkfest Magic Mike is finally getting something that has so far been missing: actresses. Olivia Munn is negotiating to play the role of Amber, the love interest to Channing Tatum, who plays Magic Mike. She’ll join Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer and True Blood‘s Joe Mangianello. All of them play male strippers in the coming-of-age story that revolves around the relationship between a veteran dancer (Tatum) and his protege (Pettyfer). The film is based on experiences Tatum actually had when he was a teenage dancer. As for Munn, she next stars opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in I Don’t Know How She Does It for The Weinstein Company, as well as the Aaron Sorkin HBO pilot More As the Story Develops. Munn continues as a correspondent on The Daily Show and she just shot the indie Babymakers, co-starring with Paul Schneider. CAA and Mosaic rep Munn.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will premiere Sept. 5 as originally scheduled despite the recent suicide of co-star Russell Armstrong. “Given that these episodes were filmed months ago, the producers of the show taped a brief interview this week with several of the cast members to introduce the premiere,” Bravo president Frances Berwick said in a statement. “Re-editing of the episodes is still underway.” She said that Bravo has partnered with the Entertainment Industries Council to raise awareness about suicide prevention and will air PSAs during the show. “Our thoughts continue to be with the Armstrong family during this difficult time,” Berwick said.