In the latest round of script sales, ABC has nabbed a high-concept light drama from No Ordinary Family co-creator/executive producer Jon Feldman. Described as Moonlighting meets Early Edition, the project centers on a charming ex-con (think George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven) who realizes that he’s receiving video links to the news reports of the beautiful, ambitious TV crime reporter who once upon a time put him away. The only catch: He’s getting her news stories before she actually films them, giving this unlikely duo 24 hours to prevent the crimes from taking place. Feldman is writing the script and is executive producing with fellow No Ordinary Family executive producer Bob Sertner for ABC Studios where the two are based with overall deals.
Through his deal at CBS TV Studios, Samuel L. Jackson has sold a legal show to CBS. Written by Rob Bragin (Greek), the untitled project centers on a father and a son. Jackson and Bragin are executive producing for CBS Studios and Jackson’s UppiTV.
Report: ITV Crafting Full Takeover Of Debt-Ridden Endemol
Commercial broadcaster ITV is reportedly seeking full control of Dutch giant Endemol if it buys the production company behind Big Brother. ITV is constructing a deal to acquire Endemol by taking on its $2B debt without paying anything for the equity held by Mediaset, Goldman Sachs Capital Partners, and Cyrte Investments. Under the plan, the three shareholders would see some cash, as they are all debt holders. ITV also is in discussions with Mediaset, the media group owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, about forming a joint venture to buy Endemol, whose TV formats includes Deal Or No Deal, Total Wipeout and Money Drop.
Inception Acquires World Wide Library For Digital
Sydney-based World Wide Entertainment has sold more than 2,500 hours of programming to Inception Media Group for digital distribution. Santa Monica-based Inception earlier this year acquired and released World Wide’s A Royal Romance: William and Kate and Remembering 9/11. The library, heavy on biographies, contains long-form, episodic and short-form content well-suited for online, VOD and mobile platforms.
MPM Launches Sales Operation With ‘Historias’
Paris-based MPM Film is launching a sales operation with former Celluloid Dreams sales manager Pierre Menahem. The first film to be marketed by Marie-Pierre Macia and Juliette Lepoutre’s company is Historias, written and directed by Brazil’s Julia Murat. The film will screen at the Venice International Film Festival and then play at the Toronto and San Sebastian film festivals.
EXCLUSIVE: Sci-fi action-crime series The Sector, from Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods and Germany’s Tandem Communications, is no longer set up at Cinemax. There is talk about Discovery’s Science (formerly Science Channel) possibly picking up the action-crime series in the vein of Blade Runner and District 9 that centers on a commander of a paramilitary unit who pursues a dangerous new race of genetically-enhanced humans. I hear the search is underway for a writer to rework the script by The Sector creators Aaron and Matthew Benay. The Sector had been in development at Cinemax for several months with Simon Mirren attached as exec producer/showrunner and Anne Thomopoluos as executive producer when Tandem, Scott Free and Cinemax announced in April that the project was a go. There has been a discrepancy over the size of the network’s commitment, with some calling it a series order and others insisting it was a pickup of a pilot script and a bible. The commitment is now believed to be the latter, and Cinemax ultimately passed on the project as it already has one direct-to-series primetime drama, Strike Back, on the air; another, Transporter, in production; and a third, the Alan Ball-produced Banshee, which was developed at sister pay cable network HBO, eying a spring production start. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It looks like Da Brick is a go at HBO. I hear the pay cable network has handed out a pilot order to the drama project about a young boxer from Entourage creator Doug Ellin, filmmaker Spike Lee, former boxing champion Mike Tyson and writer John Ridley. Ridley wrote the script for the pilot, which will be directed by Lee. Set in current-day Newark, NJ, nicknamed “brick city,” Da Brick is described as a contemporary exploration of what it means to be a young, black man in supposedly post-racial America and is loosely inspired by aspects of Tyson’s youth. Search is under way for a young black actor to play the lead.
Da Brick stems from Tyson’s 2010 guest appearance on Ellin’s HBO comedy Entourage, a series inspired by executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s early years in Hollywood. “That’s when Mike asked me, why don’t we do with my life what we did with Mark’s life,” Ellin told me back in June, when Da Brick was still in development. “The initial idea was ‘Entourage meets The Wire,’ an edgy story about an up-and-coming boxer and his crew that is much more dramatic than Entourage.” While it was not a series Ellin felt he would write, he and his producing partner Jim Lefkowitz decided to develop and produce it through their company. Lefkowitz brought in Ridley who, in turn, brought in Lee, with whom he had been developing a movie about the L.A. riots. Ellin, Lefkowitz, Ridley, Lee and Tyson are executive producing Da Brick, with Tyson’s wife Lakiha Tyson and Azim Spicer, CEO of Las Vegas’ SpiceReel Prods, co-executive producing. Read More »
Kevin Zegers, Chris Noth, Derek Jacobi and Neve Campbell are in various stages of negotiations to join the $28 million, 12-part British miniseries Titanic: Blood & Steel, which has begun filming in Belfast. Unlike Simon Vaughn’s internationally produced four-hour miniseries Titanic, which was picked up by ABC and ITV1, Titanic: Blood & Steel, also an international co-production, doesn’t have U.S. or UK distribution yet. It chronicles the building of the Titanic, beginning in Edwardian Belfast in the early 1900s and depicting how the greatest leviathan of all time was hand made in a city on the edge of revolution. Zegers, repped by ICM and Untitled, will play Mark Muir, the metallurgist on the world’s greatest shipbuilding project who discovers potentially fatal flaws in the quality of metal being used to build the Titanic. Noth is expected to play financier J.P. Morgan; Jacobi would play Lord William Pirrie, chairman of the company that built the ill-fated liner; and Campbell is a reporter covering the liner’s maiden voyage. Directed by Ciaran Donnelly and written by Mark Skeet, Matthew Faulk and Alan Whiting, Titanic: Blood & Steel is produced by De Angelis Group, Take 5 Prods and Epos Films.
Greg Forston now will oversee Relativity Media’s theatrical distribution and release plans in the U.S. He reports to Kyle Davies, president of worldwide distribution. As a SVP, Forston was integral in the studio’s acquisition of Overture Films’ marketing and distribution operations in 2010. Now he’s promoted to EVP and general sales manager of Relativity’s theatrical distribution.
The battle over tax breaks for California film and TV production intensified today as scaled-back, pared-down legislation moved to the state Senate for final consideration. An extension of California’s showbiz incentive program (Assembly Bill 1069) was cut down from 5 years to just one year by the state Senate Appropriations Committee. The Assembly in May passed a version that would have extended the $100M per-year credit program through 2014. That time element could still be adjusted in the Senate, but the cutback is indicative of the scrutiny expenditures of any sort are receiving as the Legislature struggles with the state’s $9B budget shortfall.
Critics say California has far more crucial spending priorities than handouts to a wealthy industry at taxpayer expense and want to eliminate the tax breaks altogether. Industry advocates say the state needs the incentives to compete with other states offering similar or greater tax breaks to film/TV producers. They point to a study released in June by the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp, which said the program has brought $3.8B in economic output and supported 20,040 jobs since its inception in 2009. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Three weeks into filming on Cinemax’s 12-episode series Transporter, the action drama’s executive producers/showrunners Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie have left over creative differences. Veteran TV director-producer Steven Shill, who was recently brought in to work alongside Mallozzi and Mullie, is now expected to take over showrunner duties, at least for the time being. The series is in production in Toronto, currently working on Episodes 4-5; shooting is scheduled to continue through November for a 2012 premiere. Based on Luc Besson’s Transporter film franchise, the series stars Chris Vance as professional transporter Frank Martin, who can always be counted on to get the job done — discreetly. Andrea Osvart co-stars on the show, a France/Canada international treaty co-production that is being executive produced by Besson, Fred Fuchs and Robert Cooper. It is Cinemax’s second original primetime series to go into production, following Strike Back, which premiered this summer to solid numbers.
EXCLUSIVE: An insider just told me that DC Entertainment at Warner Bros is “in the throes of turning the comic book industry on its head” with a massive publishing relaunch. “DC Comics – The New 52” (see exclusive video below) is a bold renumbering of all of DC’s superhero comics (52 all-new #1 issues). And the industry-changing move is to now offer comics for sale digitally on the very same day as physically. “The New 52” kicks off at midnight tonight in comic shops across the nation. Now, some details may have leaked out to the comic book pundits. But I can tell you exclusively that the first printing of Justice League #1 has officially sold out today in advance of tomorrow’s on-sale date, and DC is rushing back to press for a second printing. (Yes, I know: these things almost always sell out. And in the not-so-old days sold way more.) Over 200,000 physical copies of JL1, along with tens of thousands of digital copies, are expected to be sold worldwide. I understand that Justice League #1 has a particular connection to DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson’s exec team, as its writer is DCE’s Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns and its artist is DCE’s Co-Publisher Jim Lee, two of the biggest creators in the industry. The pair will be signing at Midtown Comics in NYC’s Times Square tonight. Insiders are calling it “the beginning of the biggest comic industry publishing event in nearly a decade”. I’m told that “DC Comics – The New 52” will continue launching throughout September, with new #1 titles for Action Comics, Batman, Detective, Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, and Wonder Woman releasing in-store and online every Wednesday. Here’s the video teaser:
(See the cover art bigger after the jump.) Read More »
Dick Cook has been relatively quiet since being ousted as Walt Disney Studios chairman in September 2009, save landing a board seat at Legendary Pictures back in April. But now it appears he is making noise in a big way: Bloomberg is reporting that Cook is looking to raise $625 million in equity financing to make and distribute family-oriented films, according to a banker with knowledge of the matter.
Cook is talking to private equity, hedge funds and wealthy individuals, Bloomberg says. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed. If successful, the move would return Cook in full to the business of making movies, which he did for seven years as the Disney Studios boss (he was at Disney for 38 years, famously starting out as a ride operator at Disneyland), overseeing the creation of the lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean series among other franchises. Until now, Cook was aboard only one film project: as producer of Legendary’s Jackie Robinson biopic, which was announced in June and will be done at Warner Bros.
UPDATE, 8:10 PM:
Scotland Yard has blocked the release of the names of several News of the World journalists who ordered a private detective to hack into mobile phones belonging to six public figures. The agency declined comment today but has in the past prevented the release of facts surrounding the case on the grounds its investigation would be compromised. The names could show how widespread the practice was at the paper, which was closed down by Rupert Murdoch last month.
PREVIOUS, 3:54 PM: While Rupert Murdoch and his son James await a likely summons to the UK High Court to answer more questions under oath about News Corp’s involvement in the News of the World phone-hacking scandal, there is a report today that lawyers for News Corp arm News International are looking into reporting practices, financial records and emails at their UK newspapers — specifically to see whether there’s anything there that could be construed as violations of the U.S.’ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Meanwhile, the inquiry at the Royal Courts of Justice that would include questions to Rupert and James Murdoch could get underway by October. Prime Minister David Cameron and other politicians also could be called. A UK Telegraph report said letter already have been sent to potential witnesses, who also could include former News International CEO Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson, both former NOTW editors. Read More »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s Emmy coverage.
Jane Lynch is hosting this year’s Primetime Emmys revealed today that some of her Glee co-stars will appear in some Glee-themed sketches on the awards show.So expect something similar to that rousing opening number from last year’s host Jimmy Fallon. “We’re pre-taping something right now,” Lynch told media today. “I’ve pitched a few ideas for the Glee cast.” Lynch is working closely with longtime pal and collaborator Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under) and Soloway’s sister Faith to put together her material. Lynch also said the Emmycast will include “some little things you haven’t seen before” regarding how the major categories are introduced. Lynch told me, “What most concerns me is that I do well and not make a fool of myself. I trust that the writers all know what they’re doing. I worked with this same crew on the Emmys last year, and they’re great. I’m just concerned that they be interesting and funny and honor the purpose of television and the people in it.”
Lynch admitted that, “If you’d asked me at the beginning if I would be changing my dress every time I came out, I’d have said, ‘Absolutely not.’ But I will be changing my dress every time I come out.” Asked for 3 things the audience definitely won’t see on Emmy night, she said, “I probably won’t wear a track suit [like her Glee character Sue Sylvester]. I won’t be doing an elaborate dance number. And I won’t … Read More »
Lionsgate And Carl Icahn End War; Icahn Sells Shares, Both Parties Drop Lawsuits
SANTA MONICA, CA, and VANCOUVER, BC, August 30, 2011 – Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) (“the Company”), a leading diversified global entertainment company, announced today that Carl and Brett Icahn have reached an agreement with the Company under which the Icahns have agreed to sell up to 44,161,971 shares of Lionsgate common stock, representing substantially all of the Lionsgate shares currently owned by the Icahns. The parties also agreed to dismiss all outstanding litigation between them and release all claims that they may potentially have against each other.
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BREAKING: In a move that ends a protracted hostile takeover attempt, Carl Icahn and Lionsgate have announced that Icahn and his son Brett will sell up to 44,161,971 shares of Lionsgate common stock, which is virtually the entire stake held by the family. Both Lionsgate and Icahn in turn have dropped the various litigation between them. Those shares will be sold for $7, which is below the $7.52 that the stock was worth at the market close today.
Through a series of tender offers that ranged from $6 per share to $7.50, Icahn accumulated a total of 33.2% control of Lionsgate, blasting the company’s management every step of the way as he tried to oust the company’s board. Those shares will fall into the hands of Lionsgate’s largest shareholders in a series of transactions that will take place over the next 35 business days. Right away, Lionsgate has bought 11,040,493 shares for $7 each. Another 11 million shares will be bought by one or more affiliates of MHR Fund Management LLC, which is controlled by Mark H. Rachesky, a Lionsgate director whose moves during the takeover battle helped management keep Icahn from accumulating enough shares to win a proxy battle. Read More »
On the same day that NBCUniversal announced it has picked Jim Bell to executive produce coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London comes a report that former NBC Sports guru Dick Ebersol is returning to the fold in an advisory role, first on NBC’s Sunday Night Football and then for the London games. The New York Times reported that he will be special adviser to the network, reuniting him with current NBC Sports Group boss Mark Lazarus, whom Ebersol brought to NBC, and Bell, whom Ebersol hired as a production assistant for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Of course, Ebersol was the man behind bringing the NFL and the Olympics to NBCU, where he was a fixture until he left in May following a contract dispute with new owners Comcast. It’s unclear whether Ebersol had any behind-the-scenes sway back in June, when NBCU won the bidding for U.S. broadcast rights to the next four Olympics, which gives the network the games through 2020.
In one of Showtime’s most ambitious undertakings, the pay cable network is partnering with Steven Spielberg and Stephen King for Under the Dome, a drama series based on King’s 2009 novel, which will be produced by DreamWorks Television. The supernatural thriller revolves around locals at a Maine vacation spot who battle one another when a force field suddenly surrounds their town and cuts them off from the rest of the world. DreamWorks’ Spielberg and Stacey Snider nabbed the rights to King’s novel shortly after it was published in November 2009 to strong reviews. Search is underway for a writer to write the project, whose executive producers will include King and DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. Spielberg has a longstanding relationship with King. He previously teamed with the bestselling author to adapt his 1984 novel The Talisman, which was originally developed as feature and then as a miniseries that was once set up at TNT.
This marks a return to genre series for Showtime, which took a break following the 2003 dramedy Dead Like Me, and the network’s latest collaboration with DreamWorks TV. Read More »
The start-up movie-streaming service Flickme is up and running in beta mode beginning today, kicking off with licenses from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros Digital Distribution. Mitch Galbraith, the former COO of Funny Or Die, is CEO of the venture, which enables users to watch Hollywood films in a social-media environment. The company, started earlier this year by Galbraith and Mark Smallcombe, is funded by Sequoia Capital. At the outset, Flickme members will be able to log in with their existing Facebook accounts, follow people with similar tastes in movies, exchange recommendations and earn badges. A use also can buy or rent select catalog movies and share a discount on that title with up to 10 friends via Facebook and Twitter. Current prices range from $9.99-$17.99 to buy a title or $2.99-$3.99 to rent.