EXCLUSIVE: A June 1 start date has been set in Los Angeles for The Pretty One, with Zoe Kazan and Jake Johnson starring in a script that made the 2011 Black List and was a finalist for the Nicholl Fellowship and Zoetrope screenplay contest. Jenee LaMarque wrote the script and makes her directorial debut. Pic is an offbeat comedy about an awkward but loveable young woman who is mistaken for her dead “perfect” identical twin, and seizes the chance to masquerade as her sister. But when she falls in love with her twin’s eccentric next door neighbor, she finds herself wanting to live her own imperfect life, and have the truth come out. The film’s being financed by private equity.
Kazan’s starring in the Neil LaBute-scripted Some Girls and the Joss Whedon-scripted In Your Eyes, and she scripted He Loves Me, which Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris are directing. Kazan stars with Paul Dano. Johnson is one of the stars of the Fox hit series The New Girl, opposite Zooey Deschanel and was also just seen in 21 Jump Street and most recently completed Safety Not Guaranteed, which FilmDistrict bought after its Sundance premiere in January.
The Pretty One‘s being produced by Robin Schorr and is the first film in production from her RCR Pictures banner. She produces with Steven J. Berger’s Provenance Pictures. LaMarque’s repped by UTA and Management 360, Kazan … Read More »
Jeremy Jordan, who is getting raves for the Broadway show Newsies, has signed with ICM. All the agencies were after the young actor, who plays Jack Kelly, the role that Christian Bale originated in the film. Jordan previously starred in Bonnie & Clyde on Broadway and the Warner Bros film Joyful Noise. Jordan continues to be managed by Ted Schachter and Brantley Brown. ICM will steer his continued career on Broadway, and help him transition to TV and film.
Human Centipede 3‘s June start has been imperiled by threats of litigation between director Tom Six and Dieter Laser, the villain from the first film who had agreed to return for the third film but is now backing out. If this goes to the courts, it is possible it could cause the film to be delayed indefinitely. Considering that this series perpetuates the most degrading and appalling premise I’ve ever encountered for a fetish horror film–victims kidnapped and sewn together ass to mouth–anything that sidelines this hot steaming turd has to be the best news I’ve heard all week. Let’s hope the Centipede litigation has legs.
UPDATE, 8:56 AM FRIDAY: Today’s press conference will be live-streamed at sagaftra.org.
PREVIOUS, WEDNESDAY PM: SAG national president Ken Howard, AFTRA national president Roberta Reardon, SAG secretary-treasurer Amy Aquino, AFTRA treasurer Matt Kimbrough, SAG 1st national VP Ned Vaughn, AFTRA 2nd national VP Gabrielle Carteris, SAG 2nd national VP Mike Hodge, AFTRA national executive director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and SAG national executive director David White will be in attendance to answer questions. The briefing is set for 1 PM PT in the James Cagney Boardroom of SAG’s Hollywood headquarters on Wilshire Boulevard.
A slate of documentaries are part of this weekend’s specialty offerings including The Weinstein Company’s high-profile Bully, which should garner some decent box office cha-ching based on publicity alone due to its fight to reverse an R rating from the MPAA. But before it was in the media spotlight, its filmmaker struggled to make the feature much like most indie directors. New Yorker Films is also utilizing school-yard teasing as one way to spread the word about its controversial Norwegian feature Turn Me On, Dammit! Samuel Goldwyn Films is hoping to replicate one of its past successes by keeping the focus on its main subject for its rollout The Island President. And filmmaker Alan Govenar happened upon a low-profile center of Beat culture in Paris, taking what was originally intended to be a short film about the topic and turned it into a full feature in The Beat Hotel. Read More »
UPDATE, 11:05 AM:AOL changed its mind and just released a statement in response to this morning’s letter from Starboard Value’s Jeffrey Smith. Looks like Moviefone and MapQuest won’t be shopped around: “We are continuing to work on the comeback of AOL and have a plan that is beneficial for employees, customers and shareholders. We believe strongly that all of our brands are important to our brand portfolio. We will continue to update investors as we execute on our plan.”
PREVIOUS, 8:49 AM: AOL isn’t commenting this morning on the latest missive from activist investor Jeffrey Smith, who says that the Internet content and access company has failed to deliver for shareholders. Smith’s Starboard Value owns 5.2% of AOL — and he’s proposing a slate of five candidates, including himself, for its board. Today he kept the pressure on with a public letter to directors urging them to stop postponing the company’s annual meeting, and to unload underperforming properties including Moviefone and MapQuest. AOL paid $525M for Moviefone and $1.1B for MapQuest in 1999. ”These prices are likely well in excess of the current market value of these assets,” Smith said so a sale could generate Net Operating Losses that AOL could use to reduce its taxes. He also applauded reports that AOL has hired Evercore Partners to explore the possibility of selling the company’s portfolio of patents for Internet processes in areas including e-commerce, travel navigation, and search-related advertising. CEO Tim Armstrong has likened them to “beachfront property in East Hampton.” But Smith says the company should treat a potential sale with “a sense of urgency due to the relatively short remaining lives of some of the material patents.”
The TV comedy resurgence cannot come soon enough for the Los Angeles production community because Hollywood is fast losing ground on the drama side to New York and Vancouver. New York State’s August 2010 decision to extend and expand its Film Production Tax Credit Program continues to pay dividends in TV in a big way. A record 11 broadcast drama pilots are shooting in New York this season, up from 9 last year and 0 the year before, just before the tax credit vote. For the first time this year New York eclipsed traditional location leader, Los Angeles, in the number of drama broadcast pilot shoots. What’s more, Los Angeles fell from first to third place with 8 of the 41 drama pilots shot here. That is down from 11 (out of 42) last year and 14 (out of 43) the year before.
The biggest gainer this year is Vancouver, which shot up to second place with 9 pilots, doubling its tally of 4.5 last year (Production of Fox’s Alcatraz was split between Vancouver and San Francisco). While currency exchange rate with Canada is still not as favorable as it was 3 years ago, it is a fraction better than last season. And filming in Vancouver is still a bargain compared to the U.S. Additionally, with so much production going on, there are experienced crews, Vancouver can relatively easily stand in for many locations in the U.S. and it shares a time zone with Los Angeles, making communication simple. Overall, runaway production accelerated this year with a total of 11 broadcast pilots filmed in Canada: 9 in Vancouver and one each in Toronto (CW’s Beauty And The Beast) and Montreal (ABC’s Zero Hour). That is almost double the 6 pilots shot north of the border last year. Additionally, NBC’s Frontier is being filmed in Australia. Read More »
MTV has ordered new seasons of veteran reality franchises The Challenge and The Real World. The Challenge has been renewed for a 23rd season, The Real World for 28th. Both hail from Bunim/Murray. The most recent Challenge: Battle of the Exes cycle was the most-watched in seven seasons, averaging nearly 2 million viewers a week, while the two most recent editions of Real World delivered the franchise’s best season average (The Real World: Las Vegas) and highest-rated debut (The Real World: San Diego) in five seasons. Real World‘s 27th season, The Real World: St. Thomas, is now filming for a premiere later this year.
The BBC has picked up the gauntlet that News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch threw down this week when his company charged that the broadcaster used manipulated emails in a critical documentary broadcast on Monday. A BBC1 show, Panorama, said that News Corp and a video software and content security provider it has controlled, NDS, illegally helped to sabotage Murdoch’s pay TV rivals. ”We stand by the Panorama investigation,” the BBC says in a statement. The emails cited in the program “were not manipulated, as NDS claims” and nothing in the company’s letter to the BBC demanding a retraction “undermines the evidence presented in the program.” Panorama and a separate report by the Australian Financial Review revived this week long-simmering allegations that NDS helped to crack encryption codes used by satellite and pay TV companies that competed with Murdoch-controlled services including UK’s Sky. The data found its way to the Internet, enabling consumers to easily pirate the TV services — and undermine the businesses. For example, the BBC show reported that security codes for ITV’s ONdigital TV smart cards were hacked as far back as 1998 contributing to its demise in 2002. Read More »
It was hailed as a potential successor to Desperate Housewives and was launched behind the departing veteran dramedy. Now ABC’s midseason dramedy GCB will test drive Housewives‘ Sunday 9 PM time slot. On April 8, ABC will air two back-to-back originals of GCB, one at 9 PM and one at 10 PM, instead of the originally scheduled one in the show’s regular 10 PM slot. The tryout won’t be in a realistic environment as it will follow a Once Upon A Time rerun, but it will probably still inform ABC’s decision whether GCB would be a viable contender to replace Housewives next season. The network originally planned to have an original Housewives and GCB swap places for a night, but the idea didn’t come to pass because Housewives‘ recent episodes have dealt with a major plot development: the death of Mike Delfino (James Denton). The networks use the down spring time to experiment with scheduling moves. CBS is testing a two-hour comedy block on Thursday and The Mentalist on Friday.
Word around town is that Sony Pictures has paid $3 million for White House Down, an action drama spec script by James Vanderbilt, the scribe behind the studio’s summer tentpole The Amazing Spider-Man. Can’t think of a spec that sold for more this year. The film will be produced by Mythology’s Brad Fischer, Vanderbilt and Laeta Kalogridis. WME made the deal. Vanderbilt’s script work includes Zodiac, he’s adapting Red Riding for Steve Zaillian’s Film Rites and Ridley Scott, and is doing a production rewrite on Robocop.
With two upcoming high-profile roles — in Snow White And The Huntsman, due on June 1, and Prometheus, due one week later — Charlize Theron is being honored in Las Vegas by CinemaCon with its Distinguished Decade of Achievement in Film Award. The honor will be handed out April 26 at the theater owner’s convention’s awards ceremony. Theron, a new mother on top of everything else, is coming off some of the best reviews of her career in the 2011 dramatic comedy, Young Adult. She won a Best Actress Oscar for 2003′s Monster, in which she played against her looks by playing Daytona Beach prostitute Aileen Wournos, who became a serial killer. The CinemaCon convention is the annual Las Vegas meeting put on by the National Association of Theater Owners.
Two weeks ago, Disney and DreamWorks announced a new title and a release date for the project once known as Welcome to People– it’s now known as People Like Usand is due to be released June 29. Now, three months before the film’s planned release, the companies have released a trailer, via Moviefone, for the dramatic comedy that stars Chris Pine, Olivia Wilde, Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer. It seems more weighted toward the dramatic than the comedy, at least judging by this trailer. The film marks the feature directing debut of co-writer Alex Kurtzman.
With franchise fever heavy in the air after last weekend’s The Hunger Games opening and the big auction for Fifty Shades of Grey, I’m hearing that Screen Gems is closing a deal to partner with Constantin on the live action adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, which just got Lily Collins as star and The Karate Kid helmer Harald Zwart as director. Screen Gems will distribute.
Sony Pictures, which has The Da Vinci Code and James Bond and is expected to go forward with the second installment in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo franchise, is looking to fortify its tent pole business. The studio was one of the most aggressive bidders for screen rights to the E.L. James trilogy Fifty Shades Of Grey. Screen Gems, which has the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises, had originally been involved with The Mortal Instruments, before letting it go. Constantin put it back together. The series starts with The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones, set in contemporary New York City, where Clary, a seemingly ordinary teenager, discovers she is the descendant of a line of Shadowhunters, a secret cadre of young half-angel warriors locked in an ancient battle to protect our world from demons. After the disappearance of her mother, Clary must join forces with a group of Shadowhunters who introduce her to a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld, filled with demons, warlocks, vampires, werewolves and other deadly creatures. Collins is about to open … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Setting the leads for Arthur & Lancelot is proving as elusive as pulling the sword from the stone. Colin Farrell, who’d been in early talks to play Lancelot in the latest configuration of the David Dobkin-directed film for Warner Bros, is out. Scheduling is the reason, I’m told. There is a lot of prep and training required for the action heavy role of Lancelot, and it didn’t work out. Warner Bros, which rejected the project because it cost $20 million more than the $110 million that the studio was willing to spend, got back in the mix with the idea of pairing Farrell with Gary Oldman (for Merlin) and an actor to play King Arthur (I heard the studio approached James McAvoy and other actors). Warner Bros, which paid $2 million to acquire Dobkin’s script last summer, is eager to make the movie and cast will materialize quickly, I’m told.
This is the second cast configuration. Warner Bros, which dated the film for a March 15, 2013 release, had cast Game of Thrones’ Kit Harington to play Arthur and The Killing‘s Joel Kinnaman to play Lancelot. Even though Kinnaman was subsequently cast in the title character of MGM’s Robocop remake and Harington returns as a major character in the second season of the HBO series, the studio was being nervous about a big budget with unproven stars.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) and the National Film Board of Canada are going to have to make do with 10% less. That’s the amount Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s budget cut Tuesday from the public broadcaster and the documentary agency. The CBC will lose $115 million, in Canadian dollars, from the $1.1 billion it currently receives from the Canadian government. Telefilm Canada will also see a 10% reduction in its budget.
The initial CBC cuts will take place over two years, with $27.8 million lost in 2012-2013 and then $69.9 million in 2013-2014. After 2014, $115 million will come out the broadcaster’s annual taxpayer subsidy. Government funding currently makes up 60% of the CBC’s overall revenue.
The NFB will lose $6.7 million a year until 2015. Telefilm Canada will lose $10.6 million.
While he made no reference to the CBC or NFB cuts in his budget speech, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty did say that, in aiming for a balanced budget by 2016, “we will implement moderate restraint in government spending.” The government is cutting $5.2 billion annually overall from its current expenditures of $276.1 billion. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures and Indian Paintbrush are closing a deal to acquire the rights to the international bestselling novel Syndrome E. Originally published in France, the Franck Thilliez novel is the first in a series, and it will be released in the U.S. by Viking this summer. The publisher bought U.S. rights at Frankfurt, and it’s the first book by the author to be translated into English.
The protagonist is a beleaguered detective named Lucie Hennebelle, who discovers that his friend comes down with a case of spontaneous blindness after watching an extremely rare and spectacularly violent film from the 1950s. The cop discovers that the film has been embedded with subliminal images that those who come in contact with it end up dead. The detective teams with a Paris cop who has been trying to figure out the film’s connection to five men murdered and left in the woods. Together they get to the bottom of what has to be the most disturbing and powerful film ever made. It has global and scientific implications, and its maker might well be the personification of evil and the origins of violence. The novel has been compared to Se7en and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. ICM made the deal.
Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian & Garrett Basch are producing with Steven Rales & Mark Roybal. High-end writers and filmmakers are beginning to circle the project. It’s the second project that Film Rites is producing … Read More »
The upcoming Charlie Sheen comedy series Anger Management was understandably a focal point at FX’s upfront event in New York today. Despite some of Sheen’s X-Rated off-screen antics and the racy content on most of FX’s other comedy series, including Louie and Wilfred, Anger Management will carry the family-friendly TV-14 rating, same as Sheen’s previous series, Two And A Half Men (as well as another hit series, The Big Bang Theory). That is understandable as the series is done under Debmar-Mercury’s 10-90 model whose success is tied to selling the show in broadcast syndication, something hard to do with the restrictive TV-MA rating.
FX didn’t show footage from Anger Management, which is a week into production (Sheen offered first-glimpse images on Today this morning), but showed a video with Sheen who told advertisers, “I’m rested, fit and hungry.” During the presentation, FX President Jon Landgraf also touted the network’s Cold War drama pilot The Americans starring Keri Russell. He noted that FX finished 2011 up in adults 18-49 while its main competitors USA, TNT and TBS were down. He projected one of the strongest upfront in years, up 11-12%.
Bloomberg is reporting that Dolby Laboratories is in naming-rights talks with owners of the venue formerly known as the Kodak Theatre. Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy in January and was only halfway through a 20-year rights deal when it pulled out just before this year’s Oscar ceremony (media outlets were asked to refer to the venue as Hollywood & Highland Center during the Oscarcast). The Bloomberg report says landlord CIM Group is “open to more offers” for naming right and discussions could end without an agreement. Oscar organizer the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does have a say on any prospective theater name — although this choice seems to be right in the venue’s wheelhouse as both Dolby and Kodak are longtime Hollywood players and Dolby has been a leader in digital cinema technology. The Oscars are the theater’s marquee tenant, so it will be interesting to watch negotiations with the Academy one year away from having to decide whether it’s staying put at the Hollywood & Highland Center or moving the Oscars elsewhere; its lease with CIM is up ahead of the 2014 Academy Awards.