BREAKING: In a high-six-figure deal, Warner Bros has acquired The Samurai, a spec script that will be the next film directed by Warrior helmer Gavin O’Connor. The intention is to get it into production quickly, because O’Connor is also working …
Relativity Media has promoted worldwide production president Tucker Tooley to co-president of Relativity and upped Robbie Brenner to take his spot. Tooley will oversee day-to-day operations at the company alongside current president Steve Bertram while also continuing to oversee Relativity’s film output. He will report to Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh; the two have worked together since 2007 to guide Relativity’s slate, and most recently Tooley has worked on the studio’s The Immortals, 21 And Over and Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire. Brenner, previously EVP Production, will report to Tooley. Here’s the company’s release:
(Beverly Hills, Calif.) September 30, 2011 – Relativity Media announced today the promotion of Tucker Tooley to Co-President of Relativity. Robbie Brenner has also been promoted to President, Production taking over Tooley’s prior position.
In Tooley’s new role, he will oversee day-to-day operations alongside current President & CFO, Steve Bertram, and will continue to oversee Relativity’s film slate. Tooley will report directly to Relativity’s CEO, Ryan Kavanaugh, as he did in his prior position as President, Worldwide Production. Brenner most recently served as Executive, Vice President, Production and will continue to report directly to Tooley.
Since 2007, Tooley has been instrumental in building the company’s single picture films division, along with Kavanaugh, into a fully-fledged studio developing, producing, acquiring and distributing 8-10 films per year. During his tenure, Tooley has managed the creative team while overseeing the recent production of Immortals, the 3-D epic adventure from the producers of 300 and acclaimed director Tarsem Singh, who is also directing Relativity’s Untitled Snow White. Tooley most recently worked on Untitled Snow White, 21 and Over, and Oscar®-winning director Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire.
Tooley has also executive produced such films as the box office hit Limitless, starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish and Oscar®-winner Robert De Niro, The Fighter, starring Oscar®- nominated Mark Wahlberg, Oscar®-nominated Amy Adams and Oscar®-winners Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, and Dear John, directed by Oscar®-nominated Lasse Hallström, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried.
As President, Production, Brenner will continue to shepherd Relativity’s homegrown productions including Immortals, Untitled Snow White, and 21 and Over, and is in pre-production on such upcoming projects as Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s The Crow, the film adaptation of Nicholas Spark’s best-selling Safe Haven and Out of the Furnace from the critically-acclaimed writer/director Scott Cooper. While at Relativity, Brenner also worked on The Fighter, Dear John, and was integral in helping to acquire Catfish.
TBS has ordered a half-hour comedy pilot Sullivan And Son, which stars comedian Steve Byrne and is executive produced by Vince Vaughn and producer-director Peter Billingsley. Warner Horizon TV and Vaughn’s Wild West Picture Show banner are producing. Written by Byrne and comedy veteran Rob Long (Cheers), who serves as executive producer/showrunner, Sullivan And Son takes place in a popular and legendary neighborhood bar in a working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh. It centers on Steve Sullivan (Byrne), the son of the current owner of the bar and the grandson of its founder, who surprises his Irish-American father and Korean-American mother when he decides to leave his job as a successful corporate attorney in New York and return to the old neighborhood to take over Sullivan & Son.
The News Of The World phone hacking scandal became more nettlesome for News Corp this morning: A key player, former NOTW reporter Neville Thurlbeck, issued his first public statement alleging that the company wrongfully fired him recently — and warned that “There is much I could have said publicly to the detriment of News International but so far, have chosen not to do so.” He says the company recently attacked him in off-the-record interviews. He called for everyone to “retain a dignified silence until we meet face to face in a public tribunal where the issues can be rigorously examined and fairness can eventually prevail.” He added, ominously, that “those responsible for the action, for which I have been unfairly dismissed, will eventually be revealed.”
Thurlbeck could be a dangerous opponent for the company and deputy COO James Murdoch. Thurlbeck was the intended recipient of the famous “For Neville” email in 2008. It included material hacked from the phone of Gordon Taylor, the former head of the Professional Footballers Association. The email is significant because it seemed to indicate that the illegal practice was more widespread than News Corp had acknowledged. At least two former NOTW execs say that Murdoch had seen that email before he agreed to a $1.4M settlement with Taylor on the condition that he keep quiet — leading some members of parliament to wonder whether Murdoch was engaged in a cover-up. Murdoch says he did not see the email before agreeing to the settlement. Thurlbeck was arrested in April on phone hacking charges.
Here’s Thurlbeck’s statement, which ran in The Telegraph:
EXCLUSIVE: NBC is China-bound. The network has bought a cop drama project set in Shanghai from writers Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff. The project is about a pair of fugitive recovery agents working in China’s (and the world’s) largest city, population 23 million. It stems from a blind script deal Voris and Reiff had at NBC and will be produced by Universal TV. Voris and Reiff had been thinking about doing a cop show set in China for a while, and separately new NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke had been looking to do a show set in the Asian country for some time, originally as top development executive at 20th TV. UPDATED: Voris and Reiff have an extensive background and knowledge of China working on Chinese-themed projects, including co-writing the story for DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda, which was set in old China. The new project reunites UTA-repped Voris and Reiff with NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt. The two co-created and executive produced the Showtime drama Sleeper Cell, which ran for two seasons while Greenblatt was at the helm of the pay cable network.
EXCLUSIVE: Doug Liman has climbed aboard Everest, a Sony Pictures drama about George Mallory and his three attempts in the early 1920s to become the first man to climb the world’s highest mountain. The film, an adaptation of Jeffrey Archer’s book Paths Of Glory, has a script by Sheldon Turner. Jennifer Klein is producing. Liman has several projects percolating, including Luna, a moon mission film that Paramount Pictures and New Regency are trying to make work, as well as Warner Bros’ Dante Harper-scripted drama All You Need Is Kill. Liman, who directed the action hits The Bourne Identity and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, is himself an avid climber and a fan of the Mallory story. He is in the midst of a deal to supervise the next draft by Turner with the intention to direct a film that is a priority at Sony Pictures.
Known primarily for its hourlong series, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire has sold a half-hour comedy pitch to Fox. The single-camera comedy about three childhood friends who are all now fathers with teenage sons will be written by Barry Schwartz, who will co-executive produce. Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein will executive produce for Warner Bros TV. Fake Empire has three series on the air this season: NBC’s dramedy Chuck and the CW dramas Gossip Girl and Hart of Dixie. On the feature side, Barry Schwartz, repped by WME and the Gotham Group, sold Bromance to Montecito and DreamWorks and Parents Weekend to Kopelson Entertainment.
Writer-director Nancy Hower and her writing/producing partner, actor John Lehr, have sold a half-hour comedy pitch to NBC. Titled Retreat, the project is set at a corporate retreat. The sale was made based on a demo Hower and Lehr shot, which Hower directed and Lehr starred in. The demo, made in association with EUE/Sokolow, was probably helpful, as the duo uses a hybrid scripted/improv style where their scripts are incredibly detailed but don’t feature any dialogue.
Summer Movies Will Face Tough Competition in Britain
Things don’t look too rosy for the British summer box office in 2012. Film Distributors’ Association CEO Mark Batey told BBC News that May to September will be a difficult period. Competition will come from 2 1/2 weeks of the London Olympics, plus Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Paralympics. Summer films like The Dark Knight Rises, Battleship, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Bourne Legacy will have little chance to continue the British box office growth seen this year over 2010, Batey said. The British box office currently stands at £872 million, 4% higher than it was this time last year.
Spanish Sales Agency Freak Moves Into Feature Films
Madrid-based short-film sales agency Freak is branching out to feature films. It announced international sales of Bernard Arellano’s Between Night And Day and Celia Novis’ On Vampyres And Other Symptoms. Arellano’s movie won the Industry Award at the recent San Sebastian International Film Festival, and Novis’ film is screening at horror fest Sitges on Oct. 12. Freak also will attend the American Film Market this fall as well as the IDFA/Docs For
That legendary 90-year-old movie producer Saul Zaentz is litigious is nothing new. Today he’s suing Miramax and Disney for breach of contract alleging he hasn’t seen enough profit from the 15-year-old Best Picture Oscar-winner The English Patient. He’s accusing the studios of blatant self-dealing and manipulation …
EXCLUSIVE: ESPN may have put the scripted plans for its own primetime on hold following the demise of short-lived dramas Tilt and Playmakers, but its production unit is looking to become a supplier of scripted series to other networks. ESPN has sold its first scripted project, an untitled Boston sports fan comedy from former Scrubs executive producer Bill Callahan, to ABC. The project is described as a look at the relationship between four longtime guy friends, still living in their hometown outside of Boston, who gather once a week to watch one of their beloved teams play.
Carlton Cuse has teamed with author/pastor Rob Bell for Stronger, a drama project with spiritual overtones, which has been sold to ABC via ABC Studios in a hefty script deal. Stronger, which the former Lost co-showrunner and the founder of Michigan’s Mars Hill Bible Church are co-writing and executive producing, revolves around Tom Stronger, a musician and teacher, and his spiritual journey as he becomes a benefactor and guide to others. Music is expected to be a big part of the show, which features autobiographical elements as Bell is a former musician and played with rock/gospel bands in the 1990s.
Cuse and Bell met at the 2011 Time 100 gala — Bell was a 2011 honoree and Cuse had been on the magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2010. The two immediately hit it off and soon concocted the idea for Stronger. While spiritual, Stronger won’t be supernatural. It will touch on the spiritual side of people’s lives much like the final season of Lost did and like Bell has done in his career as a pastor speaking to congregations of more than 10,000. Bell last week announced that he will be leaving the Mars Hill Bible Church in December to move with his family to Los Angeles. The series with Cuse is one of many things Bell plans to pursue,
You can always count on it. It seems there is always some talent agency honcho who revives the decades-old quest to gain Oscar voting rights for agents. The subject always comes up, but the answer, whatever the merits of the idea, will always be the same. It will NEVER happen. I’ve heard the effort is gearing up once more and agency movers and shakers in the movement for equal Academy voting rights are trying to find sympathetic ears in the media to further the cause and make some noise again. Of course, the Academy has traditionally held a different opinion. Agents are allowed in only as associate members. The number of agents with that status in the Academy is well under 100 and has included major names like Jeff Berg, Kevin Huvane, Patrick Whitesell and many others like WME’s Brian Swardstrom, who actually has his own Oscar but not a vote (keep reading for more on that). Being an associate means they get invites to attend Academy events and maybe access to freebie movies at local theaters during Oscar time, but they don’t have their own branch or any reps on the Board of Governors and no voting rights whatsoever, kind of like illegal aliens.