Rising British actress Hayley Atwell will play a policewoman who becomes obsessed with tracking down the killer of a 15-year-old girl in ITV’s just-commissioned Life Of Crime. The series comes from Ecosse Films, the company behind the upcoming Princess Diana biopic with Naomi Watts and the original UK format of Mistresses, whose U.S. version ABC picked up for next summer. Told in three parts over three decades, the series begins against the backdrop of London’s Brixton riots in 1985 when Atwell’s rookie cop discovers the body of a murdered girl. The drama then follows her professional and personal struggles picking up again in 1997 and 2013. Waking The Dead and Ripper Street‘s Declan Croghan is writing the drama that Oranges & Sunshine‘s Jim Loach will direct. Life Of Crime is produced by Emma Kingsman-Lloyd with Ecosse’s Douglas Rae and Michael Parke exec producing. Ireland’s Octagon Films is co-producer. Atwell, repped by CAA and UK-based Hamilton Hodell, recently appeared in Captain America and The Sweeney and will be seen in the upcoming Sundance Channel/BBC miniseries adaptation of William Boyd’s Restless alongside Rufus Sewell, Michelle Dockery, Charlotte Rampling and Michael Gambon.
In association with The Sundance Channel, Endor Productions will bring the adaptation of William Boyd’s espionage thriller/love story Reckless to BBC One later this year. Cast has now been set with Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michelle Dockery, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling starring. Downton Abbey‘s Dockery plays a young woman in 1979 who learns that her mother (Rampling) has been living a double life and is really a former spy for the British Secret Service. In flashbacks to 1939 Paris, Atwell plays Rampling’s younger self who’s recruited into the service by and falls in love with Sewell’s spymaster. After a crucial mission collapses, she must go into hiding, but 30 years later wants to resurface and enlists her daughter to track down her former lover, now played by Gambon.
Boyd wrote the screeplay based on his 2006 best-seller. Theater director Edward Hall is helming the three-hour drama that’s produced by State Of Play‘s Hilary Bevan Jones and Paul Frift. Executive producers are Boyd, Matthew Read for the BBC and Christian Vesper for Sundance. Shooting begins this summer in South Africa and the UK. Restless is the first commission to go into production for Endor since Red Arrow Entertainment acquired a majority stake in the company last March. Red Arrow’s SevenOne International will handle international sales.
Hayley Atwell has been piped on board The Return Of Captain Nemo, a $10 million 3D sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea that hopes to start shooting January 16. David Morrissey, star of Brit TV’s Red Riding, is also attached to this Captain Nemo adventure, to be directed by Pearry Teo. Atwell — who has just tested for Universal’s Joseph Kosinski-directed Tom Cruise science fiction film Oblivion – will play the heroine Sara, while Morrissey plays her uncle, the chief adviser to President Ulysses S Grant, who frees Nemo from prison to try and discover why mysterious “sea monsters” are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Hugh Bonneville, star of PBS/ITV period drama Downton Abbey, has already been announced as Nemo. Producer Amy Krell says she is closing the finance from U.S., Asian and UK investors, and will shoot in Romania. Like 300, The Return Of Captain Nemo will be shot entirely onstage using green screen and CGI. “We would have to double our production costs if we shot this in the States,” Krell says. Shoreline Entertainment is selling internationally. This steampunk version features some rather cool designs, such as a 19th century Air Force One and of course, the Nautilus.
EXCLUSIVE: The hot role for young actresses is in Universal’s Joseph Kosinski-directed Tom Cruise science fiction film Oblivion. Jessica Chastain already signed on for one of two plum roles, and I’m told the studio will read three actresses for the other female lead this weekend in Pittsburgh. That is where Cruise is shooting One Shot, playing Jack Reacher in the Christopher McQuarrie-directed adaptation of the Lee Child novel series.
Captain America‘s Hayley Atwell, Inglourious Basterds’ Diane Kruger, and Kate Beckinsale have made it to the lightning round to play a mysterious young woman who crash-lands on earth much to the shock of Cruise’s character, a soldier who is one of the last men on the planet in a post-apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface that has been rendered uninhabitable. Cruise’s character is alone as he repairs the drones that patrol and destroy a savage alien life form, until he encounters a beautiful woman who crashes in a craft, and their experience together forces him to question his world view.
Universal committed to finance and distribute the $100 million film last April, after Disney let it go because it didn’t fit the family film mold. The script by William Monahan got a rewrite from Karl Gajdusek. Kosinski hatched …
Marvel Studios announced today that Hayley Atwell has been cast to star as Peggy Carter in the studio’s highly anticipated movie CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER opposite Chris Evans. In the early comics, Peggy Carter fell in love with Captain America while they fought together in the war effort. The character will be updated for the feature adaptation. Joe Johnston will direct the film penned by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely.
Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige will produce CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Alan Fine, Stan Lee, David Maisel and Louis D’Esposito will executive produce. The film will be released in the US on July 22, 2011 and distributed by Paramount Pictures.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER will focus on the early days of the Marvel Universe when Steve Rogers volunteers to participate in an experimental program that turns him into the Super Soldier known as Captain America.
Atwell will next be seen in PILLARS OF THE EARTH, the 8-part miniseries premiering July 23 on Starz and the TV series THE PRISONER. Her film credits include THE DUCHESS, BRIDESHEAD REVISITED and CASSANDRA’S DREAM.
In addition to CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER, Marvel Studios will release a slate of films based on the Marvel characters including the highly anticipated sequel, IRON MAN 2, starring Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow on May 7, 2010, THOR on May 6, 2011, and Marvel Studios’ THE AVENGERS on May 4, 2012.
Atwell is represented by CAA and United
EXCLUSIVE: The “one shot” short films featured as extras on Marvel movies’ DVD releases are becoming a hotbed for TV series ideas. After one such short, Item 47 on The Avengers DVD about the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., led to the new ABC/Marvel series, another one may also spawn a series project for ABC. Marvel is notoriously secretive about their development, and no one would comment, but I hear the company is working on a concept for a potential TV series inspired by Agent Carter, a one shot, which will be featured on the upcoming Blu-ray release of Iron Man 3. Directed by Marvel Studios co-president Louis D’Esposito, Agent Carter brings back Captain America’s girlfriend Peggy Carter, played by Hayley Atwell, and chronicles her life as a budding secret agent after her boyfriend is stranded in ice. (Watch a clip below.) I hear the project is in very early stages, one of several in the works at Marvel, and is in the process of locking in a writer. It is unclear if Atwell would reprise her role if Agent Carter comes to fruition. A Marvel action series with a female lead would fit right into ABC’s wheelhouse of female-skewing dramas with a strong lead and would be a throwback to such network series as Alias. The Iron Man 3 …
EXCLUSIVE: And the Toronto film deals keep coming. Open Road and XLrator have closed an acquisition deal for U.S. rights to All Is By My Side, the Jimi Hendrix film that John Ridley wrote and directed with OutKast’s Andre Benjamin playing rock’s greatest guitarist in his formative years. The pic also stars Heyley Atwell, Imogen Poots, Ruth Negga and Adrian Lester. All Is By My Side first screened Saturday night at the Elgin. Open Road’s Tom Ortenberg and XLrator’s Barry Gordon made the deal.
The film covers Hendrix’s early years as he failed to find footing in the U.S., found his mojo in England and then returned to America with guitar chops so ferocious that he reportedly made guys like The Who’s Pete Townshend and Eric Clapton contemplate other careers when they first saw his act onstage. Or at least that’s how the apocryphal tale goes.
iThe Toronto Film Festival got underway last night with the Gala premiere of the Bill Condon-directed DreamWorks Julian Assange film The Fifth Estate. Today, the acquisitions market should get going with the first screening of the Jason Bateman-directed comedy Bad Words and Saturday’s premiere of Once helmer John Carney’s Can A Song Save Your Life?
Toronto has long served a dual role as a global platform to launch prestige films into the Oscar race, as well as a place where distributors can bolster slates with acquisitions of finished films that need someone to release them. The odd thing about this year’s marketplace: the biggest challenge facing sellers is to get the major buyers to focus, because they are so preoccupied with the films they are launching in the Oscar race from Toronto that dealmaking is a distant second on the priority level. Whether it’s The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight, CBS Films or Focus Features, everybody has a viable Oscar horse. Frankly, there is less early chit-chat about deal prospects than there is about how the end-of-year releases of Oscar corridor films will be as crowded and brutally competitive as the summer season that just passed. There are way more films platforming and playing through the winter than was the cast last year. Just as some worthy summer blockbusters underperformed because of the onslaught, upcoming prestige films will be under extreme pressure to perform.
Here, the major distributors that have the funds to create bidding battles have tons of product at Toronto. SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have nine movies playing, and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein has six. The challenge facing sellers will be to get those buyers to wrap their arms around new product that will fill slate holes in 2014. Everybody is loaded for bear for the fall and early winter. This won’t be a replay of the times past, when films like Shame, The Wrestler and Rabbit Hole were acquired and launched from festivals right into Oscar season.
The Toronto International Film Festival has set its list of 70 gala and premiere screenings, and not surprisingly it includes many of the films that figure to factor in the Oscar discussion. This includes 12 Years A Slave to August: Osage County, Rush, Labor Day, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Parkland, Dallas Buyers Club, Alfonso Cuaron’s 3D thriller Gravity and Atom Egoyan’s West Memphis 3 film Devil’s Knot. There will be plenty of starpower, including actors-turned first time directors Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon), Keanu Reeves (Man Of Tai Chi), Jason Bateman (Bad Words), Mike Myers (Supermensch), as well as Coriolanus helmer Ralph Fiennes (The Invisible Woman).
The festival generally provides a mix of those films as well as acquisition titles that usually get released next year. Also on the list is the opening night film, the Bill Condon-directed The Fifth Estate, the DreamWorks drama about polarizing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is played by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Here’s the list made official this morning by Toronto Fest organizers:
Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, unveiled the first round of titles set to premiere in the Galas and Special Presentations programmes at the 38th Toronto International Film Festival®.
“This first round of films offers a taste of the powerhouse lineup at this year’s Festival,” said Handling. “These are
Cannes Market Briefs: Lightning’s ‘Gus’, UConnect’s ‘Close Enough’, TrustNordisk’s ‘Someone You Love’
Lightning Strikes For SXSW Comedy ‘Gus’
Lightning Entertainment has acquired international rights to the comedy Gus, starring Michelle Monaghan, Radha Mitchell and Michael Weston. It premiered at this year’s SXSW and is the feature debut of Jessie McCormack, who wrote and directed. ICM Partners reps Monaghan and Mitchell and is also repping U.S. rights to the film in Cannes, where it will make its market bow May 16. Gus centers on Lizzie (Mitchell), who longs to start a family with her husband Peter but is unable to conceive. Her best friend Andie (Monaghan), single and adrift, gets pregnant from a one-night stand and offers to give Lizzie the baby. Reluctantly, Peter agrees to be the child’s father, and before he knows it Andie has moved into the guest room for the duration of her pregnancy. When Peter invites his ne’er-do-well recovering-addict brother (Weston) to the house, chaos ensues. McCormack produces alongside Kathryn Himoff, Kevin Fitzmaurice Comer and Erik Van Wyck. Richard N. Gladstein is exec producer.
With filming now underway on Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the studio today unveiled final cast and plot details for the sequel slated for an April 4, 2014 release. Those include confirmation of Deadline’s scoop that Robert Redford has joined the film as Agent Alexander Pierce, a senior leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. The pic is also bumping up Scarlett Johansson‘s role as her Avengers character Natasha Romanoff teams with Captain America (Chris Evans) in the present day “to battle a powerful yet shadowy enemy in present-day Washington, DC”. Anthony and Joe Russo are directing from Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely’s script and have filled out their supporting cast with returning Marvel actors and new faces: Sebastian Stan is back as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger‘s 1943 timeline, along with Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter and Toby Jones as Arnim Zola. Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Cobie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill), and Maximiliano Hernandez (Agent Jasper Sitwell) return, joined by Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow, and UFC champ Georges St-Pierre as Georges Batroc. Emily VanCamp is aboard as Steve Rogers’ new love interest, Agent 13. Filming is underway in LA and will move to Cleveland and Washington DC.
MIPTV Briefs: Keshet Int’l; AMC/Sundance; ‘Big Brother’; ‘Restless’; Bear Grylls; OWN UK; Warner TV Distribution
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Keshet International‘s UK office has hired producer Amelia Hann as head of unscripted programming to oversee a new factual production venture. Hann was most recently executive producer on Channel 4’s The Undateables and her other credits include the BAFTA winning Ross Kemp On Gangs, Wife Swap USA, Baby Bible Bashers, Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars and The Hunt For Britain’s Sex Traffickers.
MIPCOM Briefs: Jane Campion On ‘Top Of The Lake’, Syfy’s ‘Defiance’ Sells In Canada, ProSieben Gets ‘Restless’, ITV Acquires ‘Money Pump’ Format Rights
Jane Campion Mulls More Minis
Director Jane Campion is no stranger to Cannes, but she’s usually here for the film festival. In town for Mipcom this week, she’s here in support of her BBC/Sundance Channel limited series Top Of The Lake. The six-hour drama is produced by Emile Sherman and Iain Canning (The King’s Speech) and stars Elisabeth Moss. The move to longform TV 20 years after leaving the medium put Campion in a new environment where she “really gained a lot of respect” for folks who work in the business all the time. “It’s so different to map out six hours; we were shooting a feature ever four and a half weeks,” she says. Undaunted, Campion and her co-writer Gerard Lee tell me they’re already thinking about doing another similar project that would be set in Thailand. Top Of The Lake, set in Campion’s home country of New Zealand, centers on a female detective (Moss) investigating the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl, who is the daughter of a local drug lord. Campion’s The Piano star Holly Hunter also appears as a sort of enlightened woman that Campion says she based on a man she once knew. BBC Two and Sundance will sked the series for next year.
‘Defiance’ Finds Canadian Home
Shaw Media has acquired Syfy’s Defiance for broadcast on Canada’s Showcase. The deal was made with NBCUniversal Television Canada on the future-set series. Showcase will air in the spring. Defiance introduces a completely transformed planet Earth, inhabited by the survivors of a universal war. It centers on Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), the law-keeper in frontier boomtown Defiance that is one of the new world’s few oases of civility and inclusion. The Syfy Trion Worlds partnership is the first-ever convergence of TV and Massive Multiplayer Online gaming. Julie Benz, Stephanie Leonidas, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Graham Greene and Mia Kirshner also star. The series is executive produced by Kevin Murphy and Michael Taylor. Production is currently underway in Toronto.
The BFI London Film Festival will screen 225 features including 14 world premieres and a further 111 live-action and animated shorts. Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie is the previously announced opener and Mike Newell’s Great Expectations closes the fest. There are 12 films in the main competition, and gala presentations include Ben Affleck’s Argo, Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet, Roger Michell’s Hyde Park On Hudson and the world premiere of Rolling Stones documentary Crossfire Hurricane. The festival runs Oct. 10-21 in the British capital. Full details follow:
As it increases its investment in original British fare, Sky has acquired Parthenon Media Group to establish an international distribution arm within the company. Parthenon founder and CEO Carl Hall will oversee the new business. Sky has said it intends to up its annual spend on British content creation to £600M by 2014. Funds generated by sales of its original programming will be funneled back into UK production. Among shows commissioned this year are dramas and comedies starring Hayley Atwell, Brenda Blethyn, Stephen Fry, Richard E. Grant, John Hurt, Eddie Marsan, Stellan Skarsgård, David Tennant, Emma Thompson and Olivia Williams. Sky1 comedies Stella, Starlings and Trollied have all been ordered for a second run and drama Hit & Miss, starring Chloe Sevigny, started its run in May. The indie Parthenon has distributed and produced factual and children’s programming since 2002 and has 1,400 hours in its catalog, according to its website. As of June 30, 2011 it had gross assets of £18.2M, although financial terms for the Sky deal were not disclosed.
Freelance journalist Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
EXCLUSIVE: China Lion Film Distribution is set to ramp up its North American release schedule after acquiring five titles at Cannes as well as targeting films it hopes will cross over to U.S. art house audiences. Its acquisitions for the States, where it has a deal with AMC Entertainment to screen up to 15 titles a year, include the raunchy Hong Kong comedy Vulgaria, Taiwanese romantic comedies Girlfriend Boyfriend and When A Wolf Falls In Love With A Sheep, warlord actioner The Bullet Vanishes and Thai martial arts pic Rebirth. China Lion CEO Milt Barlow told Deadline that Vulgaria fits with its strategy of targeting art houses as well as Chinese-speaking cinemagoers; films such as Starry Starry Night and A Simple Life, which have already screened for Chinese communities, would have second runs in art houses. The company, which launched in 2010, also picked up The Sweeney – a crime drama starring Ray Winstone, Ben Drew and Hayley Atwell inspired by the 1970s British TV series — as its first release in China and Hong Kong. China Lion’s major shareholders are Jiang Yanming and the Chinese studios Huayi Brothers Media Corp and Bona Film Group. Bona is the Chinese producer-distributor that recently received a strategic investment from News Corp.
Veteran producer Hilary Bevan Jones has been involved with such British TV shows as Blackadder, Cracker and State Of Play. In 2006, she won an Emmy for HBO’s The Girl In The Café, written by Richard Curtis – whose 2009 feature The Boat That Rocked she produced for Working Title. From 2006-2008 she was also chairman of BAFTA; the first woman to hold the position in 60 years. Her slate at Endor includes projects involving Curtis, Neil Gaiman, Lenny Henry and Julian Farino. Endor is also producing William Boyd drama Restless for the BBC and starring Hayley Atwell. The acquisition of Endor by Red Arrow comes just ahead of the Mip-TV market, where Red Arrow will take over selling Endor’s programs and formats through its distribution arm, SevenOne International. Red Arrow group managing director Jan Frouman said: “We jumped at the chance to partner with a producer of Hilary’s stature, reputation and sheer likability. She is a tier-one producer in a must-have market. Getting this done was a no-brainer.” Bevan Jones added, “I’m delighted to be building this partnership with one of the most dynamic media groups in the industry. Red Arrow is perfectly placed to support our exciting and ambitious slate of projects in both film and television.” Red Arrow is owned by the ProSiebenSat.1 Group and has 16 TV production companies from 9 countries …
The UK’s Sky Arts, which earlier this year announced it would triple its budget, has commissioned a series of one-off original TV dramas and comedies that will fall under the Playhouse Presents label. Among the notable projects, Walking The Dogs sees Emma Thompson play Queen Elizabeth in a comedy-drama about an intruder who made his way into her bedroom in 1982. Walking The Dogs is based on the night Michael Fagan broke into Buckingham Palace, entered the Queen’s boudoir and chatted with her for a while until the police took him away. The title refers to Fagan’s window of access – a guard who was supposed to be positioned outside the Queen’s door was out walking her dogs. Eddie Marsan (Tyrannosaur, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows) and Russell Tovey, who has a role in the Emma Thompson-penned Effie, are co-stars. Other shows just announced by Sky Arts, part of the BSkyB group of channels, will include such British talent as David Tennant, Olivia Williams, Stephen Fry and Hayley Atwell along with some non-Brits like Stellan Skarsgard and Harry Shearer. The latter is starring in Nixon’s The One, a verbatim account of Richard Nixon’s
Tonight is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ turn to stand in the awards-season spotlight. Demonstrating increased crossover, this year’s Orange British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) are a mixed bag of international collaboration. The Artist, a French film shot in Los Angeles, leads the pack of nominees with 12 nods. The very British Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, financed by France’s Studiocanal and directed by Sweden’s Tomas Alfredson, follows with 11. The Descendants, Drive (with its Danish director and British co-star) and The Help round out the top film category. Tinker Tailor is shortlisted in both the Best Film and Best British Film races and is the only one to straddle the two. Meanwhile other Best British Film nominees also boast an international feel: My Week With Marilyn has an American star in Michelle Williams, Shame is set in New York, We Need To Talk About Kevin is based on a book by an American-born author, and documentary Senna is about the Brazilian race car legend. And, in her own words, “international star, role model and diva” Miss Piggy is hosting the red carpet show.