EXCLUSIVE: One of the highest-profile young lead roles this pilot season has gone to Stephen Amell. In a potential star-making turn, Amell has been cast in the title role of the CW drama pilot Arrow. In the Warner Bros TV-produced project, described as a modern retelling of the story of DC Comics character Green Arrow, he will play the vigilante superhero who fights crime using archery, martial arts and technology under his secret identity as Oliver Queen, a wealthy playboy and billionaire industrialist-turned-outspoken politician in Star City. David Nutter is directing the pilot, written/executive produced by Andrew Kreisberg, Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim. Amell is a familiar face at the CW, where he has done arcs on The Vampire Diaries and 90210. He most recently recurred on HBO’s Hung and ABC’s Private Practice and was one of the finalists to replace Andy Whitfield as the lead on Spartacus. Amell is the second actor to portray the Green Arrow on the CW; Justin Hartley played the character on the Smallville for several seasons. Like Nina Dobrev, the breakout star of the CW’s Vampire Diaries, Amell hails from Canada. He is repped by SMS, Leverage and Canada’s Gary Goddard Agency.
Nobody Walks, the Ry Russo-Young film that stars John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby and Rosemarie DeWitt and sold to Magnolia Pictures for the U.S. during its Sundance premiere, now has an international rights deal. Myriad Pictures acquired the film and will screen it for buyers at next month’s European Film Market in Berlin. Myriad CEO Kirk D’Amico negotiated the deal with Jonathan Schwartz and Lawrence Kopeikin; Schwartz and Andrea Sperling produced and won a Sundance Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing for their fest pics Nobody Walks and Smashed. Russo-Young and Lena Dunham co-wrote the script, which explores a married couple’s commitment to themselves and their family when an art student rents and moves into their back house.
James Stern’s Endgame Entertainment will co-finance with Private Defense Contractors the Steven Soderbergh-directed ‘Bitter Pill.’ The film stars Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures had originally been expected to finance, but that became shaky in the past few weeks. That gives the film new funding and a new titles. The film was originally titled Bitter Pill, but was retitled Side Effects, before going back to Bitter Pill. Open Road is releasing domestically.
ER, Third Watch and Southland executive producer John Wells is back at NBC with a new drama. The network has handed out a pilot pickup to Bad Girls, written by Nancy Pimental and executive produced by Wells. The project, based on the long-running UK hit series of the same name, follows the ins-and-outs of a group of unlikely women in a federal prison: a scandalous female warden, her new protégé and a host of inmates — some mothers, some friends — who struggle with loyalties to people on the inside and the outside. Wells and Pimental are executive producing with John Wells Prods’ Andrew Stearn and original series’ producer Shed Media. The Warner Bros TV project reunites Wells with NBC topper Robert Greenblatt, who picked up another Wells-backed drama based on a British format while at Showtime, Shameless, on which Pimental serves as writer-producer. This marks Wells’ first pilot at NBC since the network’s previous regime abruptly canceled his cop drama Southland, which has since found a second life at TNT.
CULVER CITY, Calif., January 31, 2012 – Columbia Pictures, Happy Madison and Hasbro, Inc. are in final talks to develop Candy Land, a live action movie based on the bestselling Hasbro board game with Adam Sandler attached to star, it was jointly announced today by Doug Belgrad, President of Columbia Pictures, Hannah Minghella, President of Production for Columbia Pictures, and Brian Goldner, Hasbro President and CEO. Kevin Lima (Enchanted) is attached to direct the project for the studio with Sandler and Robert Smigel are in talks to write the screenplay.
The CW today gave the green light to three more drama pilots: J.J. Abrams and Mark Schwahn’s Shelter; Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain’s The Selection; and Bert Royal’s Joey Dakota, which has Mark Harmon executive producing. That brings the total number of hourlong pilots picked up at the CW this year to eight, which is at the high end of projections and a record for the 6-year-old network. The CW also re-entered the comedy arena this development season with several scripts. Word is that the network still may order 1-2 half-hour pilots, but they will likely be off-cycle.
Shelter, written by One Tree Hill creator/showrunner Schwahn and produced by Warner Bros TV, is set at a historic New England summer resort where the new and returning staff attend to the practical, emotional and often comical needs of the guests while navigating friendships, rivalries and romances of their own. WME-repped Abrams and Schwahn are executive producing through their companies Bad Robot and Mastermind Laboratories, along with Bad Robot’s Bryan Burk. This marks Abrams’ first project at the CW. It reunites him with CW president Mark Pedowitz and EVP Development Thom Sherman, who worked with him at ABC and ABC Studios. Most recently, Pedowitz was president of ABC Studios, where Abrams was under an overall deal before moving to WBTV in 2006, and Sherman ran Abrams’ production company Bad Robot for two years before joining …
UPDATED, 11:51 AM: Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Fox all released separate statements this morning about yesterday’s big shakeup on the network’s singing competition show The X Factor. The housecleaning after a lackluster first season included the departures of Abdul, fellow judge Nicole Sherzinger and host Steve Jones, and none of them left on their own accord. Here’s the statement from Cowell, who pulled the trigger on the changes, including on close friend Abdul, whom he shared the judges table with for years on American Idol:
“I want to say a massive thank you to Paula, Nicole and Steve for being part of The X Factor last year. We had a lot of fun making the show together and importantly, we found some real talent and stars. You do develop friendships with the people you work with and Paula, in particular, is a very close friend and I expect to be working with her on another project in the near future. I’m sure all three are going to have massive success in what they do next , but now is the time to thank them all for everything they did last year.”
Like Cowell, Fox alternative president Mike Darnell also stressed in his …
Beverly Hills, CA – Two-time Academy Award®-winning actor Tom Hanks will present at the 84th Academy Awards ceremony, telecast producers Brian Grazer and Don Mischer announced today. Hanks, who is a governor of the Academy, won consecutive Oscars® in 1993 and 1994 for his lead performances in “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump”. He was also nominated for his leading roles in “Big”, “Saving Private Ryan” and “Cast Away”. Hanks can currently be seen in the Best Picture-nominated “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”.
ABC has started giving pilot orders to its starring comedy vehicles. First off is single-camera comedy American Judy toplined by Judy Greer and written by Deborah Kaplan & Harry Elfont. It centers on a cosmopolitan woman (Greer) who gets married and becomes a fish out of water in the suburbs having to juggle step-kids, her mother-in-law, and the ex-wife of her husband who also happens to be the town sheriff. The project is inspired by Greer’s life, where she moved from Los Angeles for the man she loves and found herself raising stepchildren and making new friends in a small suburban town. ABC Studios is producing, with Greer producing and and Principato-Young’s David Gardner, Peter Principato and Paul Young executive producing alongside Kaplan and Elfont. ABC has a slew of other half-hour projects with stars attached that are awaiting word, including Kevin Abbott’s Reba McEntire comedy, Diane English’s Jim Belushi sitcom and the Bob Fisher/Shawn Levy comedy starring Mandy Moore, which have big commitments, and projects starring Ashley Tisdale, Jeff Garlin, Jim Breuer, Romeo Santos, Marlon Wayans and Craig Kilborn. Greer has been recurring on Two And A Half Men and co-stars in The Descendants.
Culver City, Ca. (1/31/12) – Matt Brown has been named Executive Vice President of Worldwide Commercial for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, announced SPHE Worldwide President David Bishop, to whom Brown will report.
Brown, who was previously Executive Vice President – North America and International, now adds oversight for all commercial initiatives in Europe to his current portfolio of responsibilities, which had included North America and international excluding Europe.
Brown will work closely with Aodan Coburn, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations and Licensing, in managing the regions encompassing Latin America, Asia Pacific and the Emerging Markets. Coburn’s expanded responsibilities will be in addition to his current focus on global licensing and supply chain. He will report to Brown on all commercial matters, and he will continue reporting to Bishop for operations and supply chain.
The Oscar-nominated French actor has Les Infideles (aka The Players), which opens in France on February 2 and has been picked up by The Weinstein Company for U.S. Dujardin next stars in Eric Rochant’s spy thriller Mobius, opposite Cecile de France.
Los Angeles – Former Writers Guild of America, West President and Emmy and Writers Guild Award-winning writer Patric M. Verrone is set to receive the WGAW’s 2012 Morgan Cox Award in recognition of his exemplary service to the Guild. Verrone will be honored at the 2012 Writers Guild Awards’ West Coast ceremony to be held on Sunday, February 19, 2012, at the Hollywood Palladium.
Ben Kingsley and Brandon Soo Hoo (G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra) are set to join Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield, Hailee Stanfield and Abigail Breslin in the film version of Orson Scott Card’s bestselling novel Ender’s Game. The feature is a futuristic adventure a young strategist (Butterfield) who is drafted by the International Fleet to save the human race from hostile alien invaders. Kingsley, repped by CAA and the UK’s Independent Talent Group, will play Mazer Rackham, a legendary war hero. Soo Hoo, repped by Paradigm and DreamScope, will play Fly Molo. Summit Entertainment is co-financing and will release the film domestically March 15, 2013. Production is set for next month in New Orleans.
EXCLUSIVE: The acquisitions market at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival was all about deals that combined small theatrical releases with major day-and-date VOD and DVD. But no major star has dared to bypass theaters to gamble on ancillary distribution with a project that is right in his wheelhouse. Until now. Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions has made an innovative deal with 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for a domestic direct-to-consumer release of Get The Gringo, a south-of-the-border gritty action film that Gibson stars in and financed. The film has been set for an exclusive premiere window May 1 on DirecTV, which will charge $10.99 per home viewing. A wider release on Blu-ray, VOD, and digital download will follow later in the year. DirecTV, which has almost 20 million subscribers, has the exclusive on the film for more than a month, and it moves to other VOD menus by early summer.
Kat Likkel and John Hoberg will make their feature film writing debuts by adapting Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo, the Nicholas de Monchaux book recently optioned by Marc Shmuger’s Global Produce. The book recounts the true story of how a team of bra and girdle makers from Playtex designed and created the spacesuit that enabled Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to walk on the moon. The crew beat out America’s leading military contractors to win the NASA contract. Likkel and Hoberg, who are married, come from the TV side, where they wrote and produced such series as My Name Is Earl and Better Off Ted. They are repped by UTA, Industry Entertainment and attorney Karl Austen. Global Produce, run by Shmuger and president Tom McNulty, has a first-look deal with Universal. It is developing a new version of the Scarface movie as part of that arrangement.
Freelance journalist Dominic Patten is covering the trial for Deadline.
Judge A. Howard Matz this morning accepted a recommendation from lawyers on both sides that means CBS Corp chief Les Moonves will not have to testify in person in the ongoing Golden Globes TV rights trial. Instead, the court will hear testimony from Moonves’ August 2011 taped deposition in the case, which was brought by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association against Dick Clark Prods over who controls rights to the HFPA-run Golden Globe Awards telecast. The ruling means the court will see a videotape of Moonves’ deposition either later today or tomorrow, depending on how quickly HFPA lawyers can churn through their witness list. A deal, which was expected, was hammered out over the weekend by both parties, who prepared the recommendation to Matz arguing that anything Moonves would say live he already said in the deposition. Moonves’ testimony is of interest to the HFPA to determine whether CBS was interested in bidding against current rightsholder NBC for rights to air the awards show.
On the heels of Luck‘s official premiere on Sunday, HBO has renewed the horse racing drama from Michael Mann and David Milch for a 10-episode second season. The series starring Dustin Hoffman had already been working on scripts for Season 2, and production will begin at the end of February. The network had started prep work early because of the small window it has to film at the Santa Anita racetrack where a significant portion of the show is shot. Luck‘s second season will premiere in January 2013. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the critical response to this beautiful piece of work, and we are very excited about where David and Michael plan to take these incredible characters,” said HBO Programming president Michael Lombardo. Luck‘s first episode, originally previewed after the Boardwalk Empire season finale in December to 1.1 million viewers, drew another 1.1 million in its regular premiere at 9 PM on Sunday. If that were a true series debut, it would be in line with the launches of such softly rated HBO series as Treme (1.125 million) and the now-defunct Bored To Death (1.034 million). Luck was rebroadcast again at 10 PM (711,000) and 11 PM (420,000) for a total of 3.3 million sampling the pilot in the December preview and on Sunday.
It was another case of “when the cat’s away…” last night as Fox and ABC battled it out last night while CBS’ formidable Monday lineup was once again in repeats. But CBS wasn’t completely out — a repeat of Two And A Half Men (3.0/7 in adults 18-49, 10 million viewers) was the top-rated and most-watched program of the night against mostly original competition on the other networks. Both Fox dramas, House (2.8/8) and Alcatraz (2.7/7), were down 10% from last week. Alcatraz is shaping up to be as big a DVR player as J.J. Abrams’ other Fox series, Fringe, gaining 37% in Live+3 last week. Fox (2.8/7, 8.5 million) won the night in 18-49 and total viewers. ABC’s The Bachelor (2.6/7) was down 4% from last week, while Castle was a repeat. NBC’s Who’s Still Standing (1.7/5) was flat with last week, while Fear Factor (1.5/4) aired a rerun to replace the controversial donkey semen episode that was pulled at the last minute. Rock Center With Brian Williams (0.8/2) was down 50% from last week’s two-hour episode that featured a GOP debate. At the CW, the 100th episode of Gossip Girl (1.4 million, 0.8/3 in 18-34, 0.7/2 in 18-49) posted across-the-board gains from last week: 25% in total viewers, 14% in 18-34 and 17% in 18-49. Hart Of Dixie (1.5 million, 0.6/1 in 18-49) was up too, 21% in viewers and 20% in 18-49.