Production on the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider has been suspended following the on-set train accident that killed crew member Sarah Jones and injured several others on Thursday. “In light of the tragic loss, we have decided to put the production of Midnight Rider on hold,” a representative for production company Film Allman, LLC told Deadline. The fatal incident occurred when a train collided with a bed set up for filming on live tracks in Jesup, Georgia. Members of the crew as well as star William Hurt were within feet of the accident which killed Jones, the second camera assistant. Co-star Charles S. Dutton had been in wardrobe but was sent home. Director Randall Miller‘s Unclaimed Freight Productions was set to officially begin production Monday before the accident occurred. Open Road was set to release the pic as distributor. The train collision is currently under investigation by and the accident site is being treated as a crime scene. Jones’s funeral service is being held today in Columbia, SC.
UPDATE: Open Road Says It Will Still Release ‘Midnight Rider’; Female Crew Member Killed In On-Set Train Accident Identified
2ND UPDATE, 12:30 PM: The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office said today that the victim’s name is Sarah Elizabeth Jones from Atlanta. The investigation is ongoing, with railroad and film crew personnel cooperating. Here’s the official statement just released about the incident:
Sheriff John Carter reports that on 02/20/2014 at approximately 4:30pm Deputies of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office along with other emergency personnel responded to a call of a train hitting persons on the Doctortown train trestle. Deputies arrived to find that there were several people from Open Road films and the Meddin Studios from Savannah, Georgia filming a movie called Midnight Rider in the area and had gotten onto the train tracks. A north bound train struck some of these persons. There was one fatality and seven others injured. One of the injured was flown to a Savannah hospital while others were taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital for treatment. The fatality was a 27 year old white female from Atlanta, Georgia. Her name is Sarah Elizabeth Jones. This investigation is ongoing and CSX Railroad personnel, Rayonier Mill personnel, and the film crew personnel are all cooperating in the investigation. Due to the ongoing investigation no further information can be released at this time.
UPDATE, 9:10 AM: Open Road Films says it is not pulling out of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story, despite information Deadline was told to the contrary by those involved with the film. According to spokesman Liz Biber, the company says it still plans to release the picture in the U.S. but does not have a release date set. We were told that the distributor was close to announcing its plans to pull out before yesterday’s tragic accident during production in Wayne County, GA, in which one female crew member was killed and seven others were injured when they were hit by a train while filming. So time will tell.
Detective Joe Gardner of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department told Deadline that the crew was on the tracks filming a scene in Jesup, GA yesterday at about 4 PM local time and couldn’t get out of the way in time when a CSX train travelling from Memphis to Savannah arrived unexpectedly. The 27-year-old woman, who Variety reported was the second camera assistant, was killed after trying to remove a mattress from the tracks, and it did have permission to shoot in the location, Gardner said during a press conference yesterday. The 20-person crew was from Savannah, GA-based Meddin Studios. “All of us on the production team are devastated by the tragic accident that happened today,” the production said in a release sent late last night. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of our crew member.”
EXCLUSIVE: Micah Hauptman (Parker, Bread & Butter, Silver Skies) has been cast in Working Title/Universal’s action adventure drama Everest, about the 1996 multi-expedition ascent on Mount Everest that left eight climbers dead. Josh Brolin, John Hawkes, Jason Clarke, and Jake Gyllenhaal are already aboard the pic directed by Baltasar Kormákur. Hauptman will play filmmaker and mountaineer David Breashears, director of the IMAX docu Everest. He’s repped by Chaotik Media and Fuller Downs.
Charles S. Dutton has joined the cast of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider. He will play Chank Middleton, a longtime friend of Allman (William Hurt). Based on Allman’s Autobiography My Cross To Bear, the pic will be directed by Randall Miller. Dutton’s recent credits include Longmire, Zero Hour and American Horror Story. He is repped by Greene & Associates and Lighthouse Entertainment.
Chad Lindberg Catches ‘Midnight Rider’; Cory Michael Smith Joins ‘Carol’; Penelope Mitchell Added To ‘The Fear Of Darkness’
EXCLUSIVE: Chad Lindberg (The Fast & the Furious, Supernatural) has been cast in Open Road’s music biopic Midnight Rider: The Gregg Allman Story. He’ll play Joseph “Red Dog” Campbell, the real life rock ‘n’ roll roadie who had a character named for him in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. Screenplay is by director and Randall Miller and Jody Savin based on Allman’s bestselling autobiography My Cross To Bear. Tyson Ritter, Wyatt Russell, Zoey Deutch and William Hurt also star. Miller and Savin are also producing and Allman and manager Michael Lehman are exec producers on the pic. Lindberg is repped by Creative Partners Group.
EXCLUSIVE: Cory Michael Smith (Camp X-Ray) has signed on to Todd Haynes’ Carol opposite Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. Picked up by the Weinstein Company in Cannes last year, Carol chronicles the burgeoning and tempestuous relationship between two very different women in 1950s NYC. Smith will play Tommy, a seemingly charming traveling salesman who meets Blanchett and Mara’s characters on the road. Filming is scheduled to start in mid-March on the Phyllis Nagy penned adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novella The Price Of Salt. Kyle Chandler and Sarah Paulson also star. Smith appears in Sundance pic Camp X Ray opposite Kristen Stewart and the upcoming HBO mini Olive Kitteridge opposite Frances McDormand. …
Warner Bros has released a new trailer for Winter’s Tale, the adaptation of Mark Helprin’s novel that marks Oscar-winning scribe Akiva Goldsman’s directorial debut. Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) and Colin Farrell star in the mythic tale of the love between a dying woman and a thief, in a time-jumping story that spans more than a century. Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint, and Russell Crowe also star. Pic opens wide on February 14.
Palm Springs, CA (December 20, 2013) – The 25th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) announces its complete line-up including Galas, Premieres and New Voices/New Visions. The Festival will launch on Friday, January 3 with the U.S. Premiere of opening night film Belle directed by Amma Asante, and screenings playing throughout the day. The Festival will wrap on Sunday, January 12 with Le Week-End directed by Roger Michell. 187 films from 60 countries, including 77 premieres (8 world, 22 North American and 47 U.S.), will unspool at the Festival, running from January 3-13, 2014 in Palm Springs, California.
“This year’s lineup is particularly diverse in theme and content, encompassing vintage work by established directors alongside auspicious debuts by a vast number of newly emerging talents,” said Festival Director Darryl Macdonald. “The overall quality of the films vividly reflects the banner year we’ve seen in Cinema worldwide, with a trend towards more personal, character-driven stories that defy easy genre labels, making for a much richer, more satisfying cinematic experience.”
“We launch our 25th anniversary edition with Amma Asante’s entertaining and inspiring Belle and wrap with Roger Michell’s enchanting tragi-comic Le Week-end (starring Lindsay Duncan and Jim Broadbent), thus illustrating the festival’s commitment to celebrating the work of both emerging and seasoned filmmakers,” said Artistic Director Helen du Toit. “A further pool of exciting new talent is featured in our New Voices/New Visions showcase – which bodes extremely well for the future of international cinema. In addition we will present an archival program of 7 audience favorites, including an outdoor screening of Cinema Paradiso. Many of our archival selections went on to win the foreign language Oscar® making our audience a harbinger of award winners and box office success.”
The Festival will open with the US premiere screening of Belle (UK), followed by a reception at the Palm Springs Art Museum. Directed by Amma Asante, Belle is a period drama inspired by the life of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a Captain in the Royal Navy, stationed in the Caribbean. The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sarah Gadon, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sam Reid, Tom Felton, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton and Miranda Richardson. Director Asante is expected to attend the film screening.
Closing the Festival is Le Week-End (UK), directed by Roger Michell. The film stars Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan as an old married couple looking to rekindle their love affair with Paris and with one another in this spiky, self-lacerating comedy.
The miniseries’ second night viewership across A+E Networks‘ History, A&E and Lifetime, was down 24% from Night One. Of the 7.4 million viewers, 3.1 million fell into the 25-54 age bracket. On History, the miniseries, starring Emile Hirsch and Holliday Grainger in the title roles, logged 2.8 million viewers overall; Lifetime and A&E networks each averaged 2.3 million.
Overall, the two-part miniseries averaged 8.6 million viewers — 3.6 million in that age bracket. That secures Bonnie & Clyde‘s status as basic cable’s third most watched miniseries since ’06, behind History’s mega hits Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible. Bonnie & Clyde had grossed 9.8 million viewers and 4.2 million demo viewers during its world premiere on Sunday. History also led the simulcast that night, with 3.7 million viewers, followed by Lifetime (3.1 million) and A&E (3 million).
The project, which also starred Holly Hunter and William Hurt, marked A+E Networks’ first-ever simulcast across the three networks. Sony Pictures Television produced the mini, from executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, based on the script byJohn Rice and Joe Batteer, directed by Bruce Beresford.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Jean-Claude Van Damme Pic ‘Swelter’ Sells Out; ‘Rising Star’ Headed To Hungary; More
The Exchange Sells Out Jean-Claude Van Damme Pic ‘Swelter’
Jean-Claude Van Damme starrer Swelter had a hot run at the recent AFM. Sales company The Exchange says the film sold out worldwide with a North American deal currently under negotiation. The Muscles from Brussels is joined in the film by Alfred Molina, Lennie James, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Freya Tingley. Keith Parmer (Mob Rules) is director on the movie that sees a group of notorious Las Vegas casino robbers seeking out their former accomplice who’s now a cop with no memory of his past. Swelter is the first completed movie financed by Exchange Peaks Film Capital, a fund that’s financed by production outfit Grand Peaks and run by The Exchange. Among the territory deals secured during the AFM are the UK (Anchor Bay), Germany/Switzerland (Planet Media), Latin America (Swen), France (Happy Audience), Japan (Culture Convenience Club), Australia/NZ (Transmission), South Korea (Sonamu Pictures) and Singapore (Shaw), among many others. Exec producers are Grand Peaks’ Don Simpson and Nat McCormick, Laura Ivey and Brian O’Shea from The Exchange. Film Invaders’ Eleonore Dailly, Alan Simpson and Chris Ranta are producers.
‘Rising Star’ World Tour’s Latest Stop Is Hungary
Keshet International‘s hot singing competition format Rising Star is headed to yet another country. After deals in such places as the U.S. — where ABC is making its own version for next summer — France, Germany and Scandinavia, Rising Star will next visit Hungary. Local commercial network TV2 has ordered 14 episodes of the show for air in fall 2014. A UK deal on the interactive talent format is also understood to be close to fruition with ITV.
A&E Networks, revving up for its first ever triple-cast, of new four-hour two-night miniseries Bonnie & Clyde, announced today it had lined up six “premium sponsors” on the project — including the 20th Century Fox release of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, as well as, ironically, Match.com, plus Jeep Cherokee which will use the time to position itself as the “ultimate escape vehicle.”
Lifetime, A&E and History channels will simulcast the miniseries starting Sunday, December 8 at 9 PM ET. Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) star in the title roles of Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker, the infamous Depression-era outlaw couple; the cast also includes Holly Hunter (The Piano) and William Hurt (Too Big to Fail).
From today’s announcement:
Here’s a look at WB and Village Roadshow’s Valentine’s Day 2014 romance Winter’s Tale, the adaption of Mark Helprin’s novel that marks Oscar-winning scribe Akiva Goldsman’s directorial debut. Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) and Colin Farrell star in the mythic tale of the love between a dying woman and a thief, in a time-jumping story that spans more than a century. Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint, Russell Crowe, and newcomers Ripley Sobo and Mckayla Twiggs of Broadway’s Once round out the cast:
EXCLUSIVE: Discovery Channel has decided to simulcast Science Channel’s first stab at scripted programming — the 90-minute The Challenger Disaster — when it premieres on November 16 at 9 PM, to ensure it gets the biggest possible audience and because the movie fits Discovery’s footprint. Discovery Channel this calendar year, is averaging 1.3 million viewers – 660,000 of them aged 18-49. Science Channel this year is averaging 304,000 viewers – 117,000 of them in the demo. When Science first announced the project in July, its GM Debbie Myers said it was the “biggest swing” in the network’s history. Produced in collaboration with the BBC and based on Dr. Richard Feynman’s memoir, What Do You Care What Other People Think?, the movie details Feynman’s participation in the Presidential Commission put together to investigate the Challenger explosion. William Hurt plays Feynman – the Caltech physicist/Nobel laureate who, in a televised hearing, demonstrated that the Challenger’s O-ring was not sufficiently pliable, submerging a piece of it in a glass of ice water, causing it to grow stiff and bend, and Feynman to note, “I believe that has some significance for our problem,” according to press reports. At the investigation’s conclusion, Feynman’s report, “Appendix F – Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle,” was presented to POTUS, independent of the commission’s report.
The Challenger explosion was one of those where-were-you-then moments in American history; millions of TV viewers watched in horror on January 1986 as the space vehicle burst apart, killing all seven astronauts on board, including the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, who’d been added to the crew because space travel was considered that safe; she was going to provide terrific PR for the space program by teaching some classes to school children from space.
The four-hour two-part Bonnie & Clyde mini is set to air Sunday, December 8th and Monday, December 9th at 9 PM simultaneously on A&E, Lifetime and History. Emile Hirsch (Into The Wild) and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) star in the title roles of outlaw couple Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker. The killer cast also includes Holly Hunter as Bonnie’s mother, Emma Parker, and William Hurt as Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger pursuing the Barrow gang. Bonnie & Clyde follows Barrow, Parker and the notorious Barrow Gang as they sweep through the Central and Southern United States committing small-time robberies and daring bank heists, leaving murdered police officers and civilians in their wake. Cast also includes include Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), Lane Garrison (Prison Break), Elizabeth Reaser (The Twilight Saga), Austin Hebert (True Blood) and Dale Dickey (Winter’s Bone). The miniseries is produced by Sony Pictures Television and executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. John Rice and Joe Batteer penned the script and Oscar-nominated Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Tender Mercies, Breaker Morant) directed.
UPDATE: As Deadline’s Mike Fleming reported from Toronto on Wednesday, TWC was nearing a deal to acquire U.S. and multiple territories on The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His/Hers and The Weinstein Company just made it official. See today’s release below the original break.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE: In its second big deal of the Toronto Film Festival, The Weinstein Company is near a deal to acquire U.S. and multiple territories on The Disappearance Of Eleanor Rigby: His/Hers. I hear the deal is around $3 million and covers U.S., Canada, UK and France for the Ned Benson-directed film that stars Jessica Chastain, William Hurt, Viola Davis, James McAvoy, Ciarin Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, Jess Weixler and Nina Arianda. The structure on this one is unusual. It’s the story of a married couple that experiences a difficult time in their relationship, as seen in two films. One is through the eyes of the husband, and the other is from the wife’s perspective. The picture made its debut Monday at the Elgin, and the deal is being brokered by WME Global and the TWC team led by Harvey Weinstein and David Glasser and, as has been the case on most of these deals, they went at it all night.
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 Colin Farrell-fronted romance is set to debut in the competitive February 14, 2014 slot, Warner Bros. announced today. Farrell stars opposite Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay in the tale of a dying woman (Findlay) who falls in love with the thief who breaks into her Manhattan home. The pic, set in a mythical NYC and spanning over a century from the 19th century to the present, marks Akiva Goldsman‘s directorial debut and is adapted from the novel by Mark Helprin. Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint and Russell Crowe round out the cast. Also currently set to open wide on Valentine’s Day 2014 are Sony/Screen Gems’ romcom About Last Night, Universal’s romance Endless Love, TWC’s Vampire Academy, Fox’s sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner, and Relativity’s actioner Three Days To Kill.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The Science Channel announced a November 16 premiere date for The Challenger Disaster, its first original dramatic film, a co-production with the BBC. William Hurt stars as American physicist Richard Feynman alongside Bruce Greenwood, Brian Dennehy, Joanne Whalley and Eve Best. The movie tells the story of Feynman’s efforts to uncover the truth behind the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy of January 1986. It exploded just 73 seconds after launch and was carried live on CNN.
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
Beatrice Springborn Named President Of TV Development & Production For Craig Zadan And Neil Meron’s Storyline Entertainment
EXCLUSIVE: Beatrice Springborn has joined Craig Zadan and Neil Meron’s Storyline Entertainment as President of television development and production. Springborn, who starts today and reports to Zadan and Meron, has been hired under Storyline’s first-look deal with Universal TV and NBCUniversal’s international TV production division to produce series and specials for both the U.S. and international markets. Springborn also has been tasked with expanding the company’s footprint into genre and book-based series. Additionally, she will shepherd Storyline’s current series, which currently include Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime and Smash on NBC.
For the past two and a half years, Springborn was SVP for Caryn Mandabach Prods. where she oversaw development genre- and book-based series for the worldwide marketplace. She previously was EVP of TV and film production and development at Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Motion Pictures (The Walking Dead).