Best Buy and founder Richard Schulze have ended talks whereby he and private equity investors were seeking three board seats in exchange for acquiring a minority stake in the consumer electronics giant, Bloomberg reported. Schulze wasn’t able to line up debt and equity financing, according to sources cited by the news service. Schulze’s attempt to arrange a smaller deal with Cerberus Capital Management, TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners also ended. Hopes a deal might be achieved had risen earlier this year after Best Buy posted better-than-expected holiday sales. With a stake of about 20% Schulze is the company’s biggest shareholder and had sought since last year to take over the company he founded more than 40 years ago. He resigned as chairman in June and new CEO Hubert Joly has since stabilized sales, closing some stores and improving e-commerce operations. Schulze might still come up with a last-ditch proposal but it seems unlikely. Best Buy reports Q4 earnings Friday.
Global Showbiz Briefs: BFI Film Fund For Docs, Film London For Artists, RealD In Hospitals, Endemol’s ‘Big Boss’
Documentary Makers To Pitch BFI For Funding
The BFI Film Fund will dish out funding to documentaries via twice-yearly public pitch sessions, in London and at Sheffield Doc/Fest. Documentarians will pitch ideas to a panel of senior execs “from within the BFI Film Fund and wider documentary funding community”, with selected candidates benefitting from a day of expert-led development to help them focus pitches and strengthen ideas. Documentary filmmaking in Britain is on a high after a string of high-profile successes like Man On Wire and Senna, as well as this year’s Oscar- and BAFTA-winning Brit-produced Searching For Sugarman and the BAFTA-winning The Imposter. “Documentary is the punk of the film industry,” said the BFI’s Lizzie Francke. “We’re absolutely committed to supporting the UK’s visionary documentary filmmakers and we’re pleased to be working with Sheffield Doc/Fest on this new way to deliver support directly to the sector.” – Joe Utichi
Hasbro Studios today laid off the three staffers in its Game & Reality Show Production & Development department under VP Kevin Belinkoff. Belinkoff will continue to oversee the studio’s game show efforts, including current series Family Game Night for sibling HUB network as Hasbro remains committed to the genre. But its game show/reality projects will be handled on a consultant basis. That is the model Hasbro Studios uses on the animation side, where it has produced 850 half-hours with an in-house senior executive working with outside creative consultants.
Specialty Preview: ‘Stoker’, ‘War Witch’, ‘A Place At The Table’, ‘Genius On Hold’, ‘The End Of Love’
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
The first weekend after Oscars brings a variety of specialty films making their U.S. theatrical debuts. South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook‘s first English-language thriller Stoker, starring Nicole Kidman, hopes to lure Park fans and new converts, while Tribeca Film hopes to draw audiences for its award winning and Oscar-nominated film War Witch. Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio and Jeff Bridges are just two of the marquee names behind hunger documentary A Place At The Table, which Magnolia Pictures rolls out Friday. Fellow doc Genius On Hold looks at a troubled father-son relationship (one a telecommunications genius, the other a jewel thief) in what may be a precursor to a bigger narrative feature down the road. Variance Films also taps the father-son relationship in the drama The End Of Love.
Director: Park Chan-wook
Writers: Wentworth Miller, Erin Cressida Wilson
Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Distributor: Fox Searchlight
Wentworth Miller penned the screenplay for Stoker under a pseudonym, which eventually made its way to producer Michael Costigan and his colleagues. The story centers on India, whose mysterious Uncle Charlie comes to live with her and her unstable mother following the death of her father. India suspects that her charming uncle has ulterior motives although she also becomes increasingly infatuated with him. “We wondered whether [Park Chan-wook] would read Hollywood scripts as did Searchlight,” Costigan said of the Korean-based filmmaker. “So we thought, ‘let’s give it a shot’. Fortunately his group in the U.S. liked it and he wanted to talk about it. And not only did he want to talk, he started pitching ideas.”
Will Sasso is set as the co-lead opposite Annie Mumolo in ABC‘s comedy pilot Middle Age Rage, which chronicles what happens when Carol (Mumolo), a middle-aged wife and mother, is fed up with feeling invisible and begins to speak up and demand the respect she feels she’s earned. Sasso, repped by Paradigm, D2Management and attorney is Jon Moonves, will play Carol’s husband.
Marie Avgeropoulos (Cult) will co-star opposite Eliza Taylor in in the CW drama pilot The Hundred, set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization. It revolves around 100 juvenile delinquents sent back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing the planet. Avgeropoulos will play Octavia, an illegally second-born child who grew up hidden in captivity. She is an independent spirit who follows her own path.
Rebecca De Mornay and Nick Westrate have been cast as leads in NBC’s hourlong pilot Hatfields & McCoys, a take on the infamous feud set in present-day Pittsburgh. The startling death of the McCoy patriarch re-ignites the feud between the two legendary families, unleashing decades of resentment. De Mornay will play the central character of Mary Hatfield, the Mayor of Pittsburgh and matriarch of the powerful Hatfields, who basically run the city through their development company and political connections. Westrate will play Randall Hatfield, Mary’s smug son.
EXCLUSIVE: Sophia Bush is returning to drama series with a lead role in NBC’s hourlong pilot Hatfields & McCoys, a modern-day take on the infamous feud executive produced by Charlize Theron. Written by John Glenn and directed by Michael Mayer, the project is set in present day Pittsburgh. The startling death of the McCoy patriarch re-ignites the feud between these two legendary families, unleashing decades of resentment. One Tree Hill alumna Bush, repped by WME and Joan Green, will play Emma McCoy, the shining star of the family and and the oldest McCoy sibling, a doctor. This season, she starred on the CBS comedy Partners.
Celia Massingham has landed a lead role opposite Yael Grobglas in the CW drama The Selection. Set 300 years in the future, The Selection is an epic romance centering on America Singer (Grobglas), a working class young woman chosen by lottery to participate in a competition with 25 other women for the Royal Prince’s hand to become the nation’s next queen. Massingham will play Celeste, a young woman competing in The Selection to become wife of Prince Maxon (Michael Malarkey) and future queen.
Paramount has just set the Leonardo DiCaprio-starrer The Wolf Of Wall Street directed by Martin Scorsese for wide release November 15, 2013. The film about the real-life rise and fall of Wall Street hotshot Jordan Belfort also stars Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Jean Dujardin, Rob Reiner, Kyle Chandler, Margot Robbie and Jon Bernthal. Terry Winter wrote the script. Red Granite Pictures financed and produced.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has pushed the release date for The Hobbit: There And Back Again to December 17, 2014 from its original date of July 18, 2014. This is the final film in Peter Jackson’s trilogy adaptation of the JRR Tolkien novel. Hobbit 3 now avoids going up against X-Men: Days Of Future Past and so far is solo in the December 17th spot. The first film in the trilogy, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has pulled in $300.9M domestically and $979.9M worldwide since it was released on December 14, 2012. The second installment in the franchise, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, will be released on December 13th.
EXCLUSIVE: Eliza Taylor has been cast as the lead in the CW drama pilot The Hundred. Written/executive produced by Jason Rothenberg based on the books by Kass Morgan, directed by Bharat Nalluri and exec produced by Matt Miller, The Hundred is set 97 years after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization. It revolves around 100 juvenile delinquents sent back to Earth to investigate the possibility of re-colonizing the planet. Taylor, repped by CAA and ROAR, plays the lead, Clarke. Passionate and rebellious, she is one of the “delinquents” sent down to the dangerous world. As the daughter of the surviving colony’s chief medical officer, she also holds some important secrets. Warner Bros TV and Alloy are producing. This marks the first U.S. series gig for Aussie Taylor, who co-starred on the popular series Neighbours in her native country. I hear she didn’t audition for pilots and was sought out based on her feature audition tapes.
To celebrate its 40th anniversary, the Telluride Film Festival will extend its usual four-day run to five days, it was announced today. The 2013 edition will run August 29 to September 2 in Telluride, Colorado and this year inaugurates a new venue, the 650-person capacity Werner Herzog Theatre, located in Telluride’s Town Park Pavilion. Each year’s line-up is kept secret until opening day, but last year’s fest screened nearly 100 feature films, short films and revivals including Michael Haneke’s Amour, Ken Burns’ Central Park Five, and an unofficial sneak preview of eventual Best Picture winner Argo.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal‘s supernatural action-adventure R.I.P.D. will now be released in 3-D, the studio announced today as it made a flurry of updates to its summer schedule. However, the Dark Horse comic adaptation starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds as members of an undead cop squad will still open as planned on July 19, 2013. That gives Universal and director Robert Schwentke just four months to dimensionalize the pic before it’s due to hit screens, which is historically not the smallest window a filmmaker has had to go from 2-D to 3-D, but certainly not the cushiest (it’s less than half the time Warner Bros. reportedly gave Guillermo Del Toro to post-convert Pacific Rim, which opens one week before R.I.P.D.).
Meanwhile, two other Universal titles are shifting in the schedule. Baltasar Kormákur’s 2 Guns, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, will now release two weeks early. The crime drama is vacating the August 16, 2013 slot to compete with 300: Rise Of An Empire, Red 2, and The Smurfs 2 in the August 2, 2013 frame. Taking its place will be the Jeff Wadlow-helmed superhero sequel Kick-Ass 2, which originally bumped R.I.P.D. from the June 28 date but will now close out Universal’s summer slate.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Aussie actress Sarah Snook has just landed the lead female role opposite Ethan Hawke in Predestination, a time-travelling sci-fi thriller that reteams Hawke with his Daybreakers writer-directors Peter and Michael Spierig. Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions acquired domestic and some international rights in Cannes to the pic, in which Hawke plays a Temporal Agent who on his final assignment pursues a criminal who has long eluded him. Blacklab Entertainment’s Tim McGahan and Wolfhound Pictures’ Patrick McDonald produce the movie, which is based on a short story by Robert A. Heinlein. Shooting begins April 8 in Melbourne. Snook, repped in Australia by Shanahan Management, UTA and Principato-Young, last year finished shooting the lead in Lionsgate’s horror movie Ghosts, directed by Saw 3D’s Kevin Greutert. She followed by co-starring in Australian apocalyptic thriller These Final Hours, directed by Zak Hilditch. Snook made her film debut in 2010’s Sleeping Beauty, followed by Not Suitable For Children with Ryan Kwanten.
Creators of the 1991-99 ABC comedy series Home Improvement are suing Walt Disney Television in a dispute over syndication revenues and calculations of the creators’ profit-sharing in the show. Writer-producers Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra, David McFadzean and their respective production companies accuse Disney of syndicating Home Improvement for significantly less than its fair value in certain markets and of failing to properly account for their share of profits on the series. Plaintiffs Williams, Finestra and McFadzean were executive producers and showrunners on Home Improvement for eight seasons, overseeing all aspects of production. While the series was in production, they received writing and exec producing fees under various agreements.
Plaintiffs say in their suit (read it here) that Disney sold Home Improvement in New York City, the nation’s largest TV market, for no monetary consideration under a barter-only agreement. In Dallas, however, Disney licensed the series to the local CBS affiliate for $3.75 million plus barter. In the No. 3 market Chicago, the deal was for $12.18 million plus barter. In Los Angeles, the No. 3 market, it was $5.2 million plus barter. Additionally, plaintiffs say Disney improperly charged expenses and distribution fees to the series, failed to report merchandising and music publishing revenue plus failed to report licensing fees for format rights in foreign territories. These and other studio actions reduced the creators’ share of the series profits despite Home Improvement‘s more than $1.5 billion in revenue to date. The creators and their production companies are entitled to 75% of net profits for the series and the studio is entitled to 25%, according to the suit.
EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are closing a deal to acquire the new Neil Gaiman novel The Ocean At The End Of The Lane. Joe Wright is being attached to direct, and his Shoebox Films partner Paul Webster is coming aboard to produce with Hanks and Goetzman. The film will be a co-production between Playtone and Shoebox.
The Ocean At The End of the Lane will be published in June by William Morrow. According to jacket copy, it’s about about memory and magic and survival, about the power of stories and the darkness inside each of us. The narrator describes a tale that begins when he was seven and a lodger stole the family’s car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and a menace unleashed — within his family, and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it. His only defense is three women, on a ramshackle farm at the end of the lane. The youngest of them claims that her duckpond is an ocean. The oldest can remember the Big Bang.
EXCLUSIVE: With filming set to begin soon in Atlanta, Paramount’s Anchorman: The Legend Continues is still quietly adding thesps to its growing roster. Deception‘s Meagan Good is the latest to join Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Christina Applegate, David Koechner, and new cast members Kristen Wiig and James Marsden in the comedy sequel. We hear the NBC primetime star is set to play Ron Burgundy’s boss in the pic, which hits theaters December 20. Good graced the big screen last year in the box office hit Think Like A Man and is repped by Gersh and Untitled.
Good’s not the only new face in the cast: Paradigm and Viking Entertainment client Dylan Baker (Spider-Man 2 and 3) has also joined the pic, Paramount confirms. Adam McKay, who’s directing from a screenplay he wrote with Ferrell, revealed to Empire this week that the sequel will see Burgundy & Co. head to New York City. Meanwhile, speculation that Ferrell’s StepBrothers co-star John C. Reilly will also pop up in Anchorman 2 swirled this week following reports that the film was looking to hire Reilly lookalikes. (One explanation from the production, via a rep: “We were looking for a stand-in for lighting purposes who looks like John C. Reilly. We always demand that every stand-in looks like John C. Reilly”.)