The studio has dated its adaptation of the best-selling children’s books that spawned a PBS series. The live-action/animated 3D pic Clifford The Big Red Dog has fetched an April 8, 2016, release slot. Scholastic Media’s Deborah Forte will produce and Matt Lopez (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the just-announced The Day The Crayons Quit) is working on the script, which David Bowers will helm. First published in 1963, the book series follows the adventures of Emily Elizabeth, a young denizen of a rural island community who gets a red puppy for her birthday that grows to the rather unusual size of 25 feet tall. The Universal movie has that weekend to itself for now; maybe Tim Burton will counter with a pic about a 25-foot cat.
UPDATE, THURSDAY 3:34 PM PT: Following a statement yesterday by his wife Penelope Cruz, Oscar winner Javier Bardem has weighed in with his own clarification of an open letter to which both were signatories earlier this week regarding the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Bardem says his signature on the controversial letter accusing the Israeli military of “genocide” ”was solely meant as a plea for peace. Destruction and hatred only generate more hatred and destruction.” The letter the couple signed, along with director Pedro Almodovar and other luminaries of the Spanish industry, has made headlines, and in some cases elicited harsh criticism of the filmmakers for their stance.
Said Bardem Thursday (see full text below), “While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses. I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife – which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war. I was raised to be against any act of violence, and the consequent suffering of humanity for it, regardless of religions, ethnicities and borders. Too many innocent Palestinian mothers have lost their children to this conflict. Too many innocent Israeli mothers share the same grief.”
UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 1:35 PM: Penelope Cruz has issued a statement to clarify the open letter that she, husband Javier Bardem and director Pedro Almodovar signed yesterday, which called for an end to “the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza strip against Palestinian civilians.” The comments were bound to be regarded as incendiary and polarizing, taking sides in a most controversial issue. Today, Cruz explains that her reaction was not motivated by politics as much as humanitarian concerns.
Global Showbiz Briefs: China Forum Held On Sino-U.S. Cooperation; Simon Cowell Named Mipcom Personality Of The Year; ITV Drama Lineup; More
As I reported on Monday, the China Film Association has formed the International Communication Committee of the China Film Association. At an event held Tuesday in Beijing, the ICCCFA was unveiled to address critical issues facing the Chinese film industry. DMG Entertainment, whose president Wu Bing was named as VP of ICCCFA, helped organize the event. The ICCCFA’s focus will be to educate and engage the global film community, particularly Hollywood, to enhance the development of the Chinese film industry by establishing best practices for partnering with China’s established and proven film companies to access the market. One of the major questions addressed was whether the Chinese film industry should support Hollywood studios making Chinese films or Chinese studios making Hollywood films. DMG’s Dan Mintz said the industry is “collectively agreeing on the latter as the correct agenda.” Along with the heads of many of China’s most influential state-backed film organizations, DMG escorted former Skydance COO Paul Schwake and screenwriter Evan Daugherty to the forum. Talking about the long-term goal of global film and cultural balance, Schwake said: “Though Hollywood isn’t a perfect system, it is an industry that has benefited from 100-plus years of trial and error and adaptive evolution. It’s important for the governing entities in China to support their own industry leaders so that those entities can catch up to the U.S. studios and perhaps even surpass them some day.” Said Daugherty: “Yes, it takes a great story to make a great film, but to complete that journey takes a system that excels at development, finance, production, marketing, and distribution. Otherwise that great story just lays on a shelf.” Via the ICCCFA, the Chinese government has put an emphasis on building China’s cultural industries. Kang Jianmin, Secretary-General of the China Film Association, noted: “The mission of the Chinese film industry should not only focus on content, even though content is king. It should also nurture a solid foundation of new technology, creativity and talent – in other words, focusing on industry development at-large. This macro-strategy, if successfully implemented, will most rapidly create a world-class film industry.”
National Public Radio on Tuesday morning confirmed the death Margot Adler, a signature voice on NPR for more than three decades. She died July 28 at her home in New York City. She was 68 and had been battling cancer, according to the public radio consortium.
A granddaughter of famed Viennese psychiatrist Alfred Adler, Margot Adler was a journalistic polymath who joined NPR in 1979 as a general assignment reporter. Her stories, invariably suffused with a humanist bent, ranged from the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic to confrontations involving the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, N.C., to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Her reporting was singular and her voice distinct,” Margaret Low Smith, NPR’s VP for news, said in an announcement to staff. “There was almost no story that Margot couldn’t tell.”
Hulu’s subscription service Hulu Plus has bought exclusive VOD rights to stream online episodes of WGN America‘s new historical drama Manhattan, the companies announced the morning after the show’s debut. Under the deal, new episodes of the show will unspool each Monday after their initial Sunday airing on WGN until all 13 have played. The five most recent episodes will be available for free on Hulu’s basic service, after a three-day delay.
Hulu touted the deal in a release as the first time it has secured SVOD rights on a show before a single episode has aired. Manhattan is set in WWII in the Manhattan Project in New Mexico’s desert, where the federal government set up a secret project to research the first atomic weapons, and the surrounding and equally secret community set up to support the work. The show is being produced by Tribune Studios, Lionsgate and Skydance Television. Manhattan was created and written by Sam Shaw (Masters of Sex) and directed by Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing). Executive producers are Shaw, Schlamme, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Marcy Ross and Dustin Thomason.
China Briefs: Beijing Forum To Address Sino-U.S. Film Cooperation; Local Producers Eye ‘Avatar’ Rival
A forum to be held this week in Beijing will address critical issues facing the Chinese film industry, especially as they regard cooperation with the U.S. The state-backed China Film Association has created the International Communication Committee of CFA in an effort to educate and engage the global film community, particularly Hollywood, in how to partner with China’s film entities to access the market. As Hollywood increasingly seek to establish ties to China, some thorny issues have crept up. Recently, Transformers: Age Of Extinction has faced criticism from sponsors over their portrayal, while the Chinese are understood to be concerned about foreign press coverage of reported extortion attempts on the set in Hong Kong last year. I hear folks expected to attend the forum include top execs from SAPPRFT, China Film Group, Huaxia Films, the CFA and DMG. Also expected to attend panels and presentations are former Skydance COO Paul Schwake and screenwriter Evan Daugherty (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent).
With Avatar the 2nd highest-grossing film in Chinese history, local producers are looking to cash in with their own rival take. The state-backed Xinhua news agency reports that Beijing Chinese Century Media Company is prepping 3D fantasy film Bainiaoyi to shoot in May 2015 in Hengxian County for release at the end of 2016. The tale based on Zhuang folklore follows a young …
Is there a better Comic-Con closing act than Quentin Tarantino? He’s here today to launch a Django Unchained comic book sequel, but I’m sure the crowd will prod him for details on his next movie, and you never know what you’ll hear when you put a microphone in front of Tarantino and ask the right question, or any question, really.
Here’s what I’m hearing, that he’s locking in everyone from cast to producers for an early 2015 shoot on The Hateful Eight, the Western which has had perhaps the most unusual journey to the start gate for a Tarantino film. That goes back to last January when he revealed to Deadline that he would shelve the movie because he felt so betrayed it got leaked by a rep for one of the handful of actors he showed an un-watermarked first draft script to. At the time, I spent half our phone call trying to talk Tarantino into not shelving it. After watching Inglourious Basterds for the umpteenth time last night, I’m sure glad his creative instincts overtook his feelings of betrayal.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Magic In The Moonlight’, ‘The Fluffy Movie’, ‘A Most Wanted Man’, ‘The Kill Team’, ‘Happy Christmas’
Looming in the wake of Boyhood‘s hot box office roll out earlier this month, some heavy-hitters will enter the Specialty fray this weekend which should shape up to be rather interesting come Sunday box office time. Woody Allen blitzed theaters last July with a smashing roll out of Blue Jasmine and he’s back, courtesy once again of Sony Classics with his latest Magic In The Moonlight. The distributor, however, is taking a somewhat different release track this time around. Lionsgate/Roadside is opening Philip Seymour Hoffman starrer A Most Wanted Man after delaying the title’s bow in the wake of its star’s death. The film will have a sizable theater count as it heads out to the box office Friday. But the weekend’s biggest Specialty opener in terms of location tally is Open Road’s The Fluffy Movie, which will hit several hundred locations nationwide though the bulk of its marketing has been targeted to a particular audience. On the other end of the scale is Oscilloscope’s Tribeca-winner The Kill Team which will bow at a single exclusive showing in NYC, while Magnolia’s Happy Christmas will have its theatrical launch in several locations after launching via ultra-VOD in late June.
SPC has had a winning streak with Woody Allen summer releases and it’s sticking to that formula for the filmmaker’s latest. Last year’s Oscar winner Blue Jasmine launched as a Specialty behemoth July 26 in 6 theaters, with a dazzling $102K average, eventually grossing over $33.4 million domestically. To Rome With Love was a comparatively more “modest” release, with a $72,272 PTA in five theaters in June 2012 ($16.69M cume), while 2011′s Midnight In Paris rocketed a $99,834 launch weekend PTA with six runs — eventually grossing over $56.8 million. “His films really seem to work in summer time,” said SPC co-president Michael Barker whose company has released Allen’s most recent five movies (and others in the past). The only recent exception was 2010′s You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger which opened in September of that year ($3.24M gross).”
One of the lingering questions when Yahoo acquired rights to revive NBC’s Community was how the 13-episode season would roll out. Today we know: Episodes will be made available weekly, it was announced during its Comic-Con panel. That plan is in contrast to rival Netflix’s binge model, in which entire seasons of a series are made available at once. Which way would you prefer it?
As for when to expect Season 6, the only hint so far is that it won’t come before Christmas 2014.
Creator Dan Harmon quipped during the panel that everyone will be watching the show the way they always did — “except now legally.” Joel McHale joined Harmon on the panel that included producer Chris McKenna, Jim Rash, Gillian Jacobs and writer Dino Stamatopoulos.
Comic-Con 2014 officially opens today and tens of thousands are descending on San Diego to pick up their passes and prepare for four days of special screenings, studio and network panels, and previews. Having already hit the ground running, Deadline is here with Mike Fleming Jr leading our film coverage along with Jen, while Dominic and Anthony D’Alessandro handle the TV side. (Dominic will also be moderating FX’s Archer panel this year.)
Of course, veteran heavyweights like HBO’s Game Of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead will be packing the mammoth Hall H on the TV side. HBO’s True Blood, a longtime fave in its final season, is set to make its Comic-Con bow Saturday in Ballroom 20, as is Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which just wrapped its first season and has its panel this evening. Repping the big screen side, studios are putting their tentpole wares out there with presentations by Marvel and Warner Bros with The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Mad Max: Fury Road among others.
Only 10 days after Better Call Saul creators Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould revealed that in the Breaking Bad prequel series Bob Odenkirk‘s title character will actually be known as Jimmy McGill, here he is in the flesh. A photo of a billboard along I-25 in Albuquerque advertising the services of a younger-looking Odenkirk as attorney James M. McGill, was snapped by a commuter. I’ve learned the billboard is a prop put up for an episode of the AMC series, which films in the New Mexico town that also housed Breaking Bad. For maximum authenticity and a nod to the local community that had embraced the franchise, the number on the billboard also is real, greeting callers with a recorded message by Odenkirk as McGill. Slated for a 2015 premiere, Better Call Saul, from Sony TV, will track the transformation of McGill, a small-time lawyer hustling to make ends meet, into Saul Goodman.
Mark Zuckerberg opens Facebook‘s Q2 earnings release with the most generic comment I’ve ever seen from a CEO in a document that companies typically use to hype themselves. “We had a good second quarter,” he says. “Our community has continued to grow, and we see a lot of opportunity ahead as we connect the rest of the world.” The numbers speak louder, I guess: Facebook’s net income of $788M is up 138% vs the period last year on revenues of $2.91B, +60.5%. That beat the $2.81B that analysts expected. Adjusted earnings at 42 cents a share also topped expectations for 32 cents.
The results sent Facebook shares on a ride in post-market trading, up 4%+ after an initial drop. The stock would hit a new high if the increase holds up tomorrow during the trading day.
EXCLUSIVE: Community‘s Charley Koontz has landed his first series regular gig, a co-starring role opposite Patricia Arquette in CBS’ upcoming CSI spinoff, CSI: Cyber. Inspired by the work of real-life CyberPsychologist Mary Aiken, CSI: Cyber centers on Special Agent Avery Ryan (Arquette) who heads the Cyber Crime Division of the FBI, a unit at the forefront of solving illegal activities that start in the mind, live online, and play out in the real world. The project originated as planted spinoff episodes on CSI last season, which only featured Arquette. The rest of the series’ cast is currently being assembled, with Koontz as the first actor locked in. Koontz plays Agent Daniel Grummitz with the Cyber Crime Division — a social introvert and a tech genius with a quick wit and self-deprecating honesty. Workaholic by day and night, Grumitz rarely, if ever, goes home. Indeed, he spends countless hours cracking cyber cases while on the clock. Off the clock, he practices penetration tests on Conficker clones. While Koontz has an occasional drama credit, including playing a rape/murder suspect in an episode of NBC’s Awake, the young actor is known mostly for his comedic chops, as showcased in his recurring role as (Fat) Neil on Community. Like most CBS procedurals, CSI: Cyber, created by Carol Mendelsohn, Anthony Zuiker and Ann Donahue, is expected to feature lighter moments, with Koontz likely to provide some of them. …
Ed Helms, Hilary Swank & Ed Harris In Talks To Star In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s MRC Series ‘One Percent’
Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s MRC series is taking shape, with Ed Helms, Hilary Swank and Ed Harris in various stages of negotiations to topline the hour-long project. In his U.S. TV debut, the Oscar-nominated Iñárritu will direct the series, titled One Percent, which he co-created with Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giacobone, and Armando Bo. The four recently collaborated on the script of Iñárritu’s latest feature, black comedy Birdman Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance, which has been selected to open this year’s Venice Film Festival in its world premiere and as the closing-night title for the New York Film Festival.
One Percent is set against the backdrop of the organic farming community. Helms and Swank would play a husband and wife who are struggling professionally and personally to keep their business afloat, while Harris would play the family patriarch. MRC is expected to take the project out to buyers in a few weeks, likely seeking a straight-to-series order, which has been the company’s strategy. It has been able to secure two-season pickups for its Emmy-winning David Fincher-Kevin Spacey drama House Of Cards at Netflix and the Seth MacFarlane comedy at Starz.
One Percent, which …
The second season of FX’s Fargo will take place in Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1979, creator Noah Hawley said this afternoon at the TCA Summer Press Tour. “If you were paying attention to Season 1, we made a lot of references to Sioux Falls,” he said told TV critics. Some of the second season also will take place in Luverne, Minn.
The season will be a prequel of sorts, in that the Lou Solverson character, played in Season 1 by Keith Carradine, will be back, only this time he’ll be just 33 years old and recently back from Vietnam. “That time period is interesting — post-Vietnam, post-Watergate … the best of America versus worst,” Hawley said. “That sense, I think, that this war had come home with people, and the violence and brutality of it.”Lou Salverson went to Vietnam and came home, but now he’s come back and it’s here — it’s domestic.”
And while he said he would like nothing more than to see the continuing adventures of Molly and Gus, “I felt it would be disingenuous,” Hawly said of Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). Molly’s mom will be featured in Season 2 but will not be played by Tolman, despite urgings of several TV critics. “She should be in everything anybody ever made, as far as I’m concerned,” Hawley said. But he added that the idea of casting Tolman to play her character’s mother “seems a little gimmicky to me, and like cheating.” Using the same actors in different roles each season is “a brilliant turn on Ryan’s part, and he owns it — it would be imitative,” Hawley said of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, with its practice of bringing back actors in different roles each season.
Nearly 5,000 people applied to participate in Fox’s reality series Utopia, Fox’s reality TV guru Simon Andreae told TV critics this afternoon. Showrunners have whittled that prodigious list down to about 40, and are now selecting the 15 who will get to go live in some isolated made-for-TV makeshift community in southern California for a year while trying to forge a new society that believes in filming its citizens 24/7 for broadcast on TV and on the Internet.
Utopia, from reality vet John de Mol, is a reality series featuring a group of everyday people whisked to an isolated location for an entire year and challenged to create their own civilization. The show builds dramatic tension from the provision that any of the “colonists” can be replaced at any time by someone from the show’s audience. It’s based on a Dutch show that’s been running since January. The show premieres Sept. 7.
With the departure of Fox’s previous top programming executive and the network’s new co-heads not in place yet, their boss, Fox Networks Group chairman Peter Rice, took the stage on his own at the network’s executive session at the TCAs this morning. Top question of the day: Fox’s new executive structure, in which the network and sibling 20th TV are both under the oversight of the same executives, Dana Walden and Gary Newman.
“We’d been the odd man out,” Rice said, a reference to the other broadcast networks, which have closely integrated with their studios. “As competition for talent has become more intense, it has put us at a disadvantage, and to have the network and the studio aligned would be helpful.”
Rice was asked to elaborate on the ways the previous setup disadvantaged Fox. “The old structure had a clear advantage for the studio: a big independent studio that was able to sell to everyone, which it has done extremely successfully,” Rice said. “But the network was increasingly disadvantaged. The ability to be reactive only because you are a buyer, that funnel became narrower and narrower as the (landscape) became more competitive… By putting these things together, we’re telling the creative community, we have this great network and a great studio, you can speak to us in a single voice.”
CW‘s new series Jane The Virgin, is not a straight adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovela Juana La Virgen - more telenovela meets Gilmore Girls, writer Jennie Snyder Urman told TV critics attending Summer TV Press Tour 2014. Jane The Virgin chronicles the story of aspiring writer Jane Villanueva, a virgin, who accidentally is artificially inseminated at a hospital, and subsequently struggles to navigate her relationships with the biological father, her boyfriend and her mother and grandmother.
“The show is a little less broad [than ABC's telenovela adaptation Ugly Betty],” Urman explained, calling it “the strange mark I’m trying to hit….I wanted it to have a fairy tale, whimsical quality.” At the same time, she hopes to use the tropes of the telenovela – “Evil twin” and things like that, while keeping the characters “grounded and relatable” which she acknowledged, is a “tricky tone” to pull off.
Jim Gaffigan Eyes Move To TV Land, ‘Clementine’, ‘The Pro’, ‘Cabot College’, ‘Sober Companion’ & Jerrod Carmichael: What Broadcast Pilots Are Still Alive
Two months after the upfronts, where the broadcast networks introduced the pilots they had chosen to join their 2014-2015 schedule, there is still hope for a handful that didn’t make the cut. Sony TV, which already successfully rescued its cancelled NBC comedy series Community with a deal at Yahoo, has been in conversations with TV Land for its Jim Gaffigan single-camera comedy pilot. The family comedy, inspired by Gaffigan’s real life, went through two incarnations at CBS with pilot orders in 2013 and 2014. TV Land had been interested, and conversations have been going on for the past month or so. I hear TV Land is well down the road of trying to make the show work there. I hear the cable network is currently looking to reduce the actors’ compensation to get the budget — which already has been adjusted down — feasible. If the project goes at TV Land, I hear Sony would likely have a passive role and Peter Tolan, who co-wrote and executive produced the CBS pilot, would probably consult.
ABC Studios extended the options on the cast of ABC drama pilot Clementine a month ago. I hear the studio and ABC are exploring the possibility to do Clementine as a summer series. The action project co-produced by The Mark Gordon Co centers on habitual criminal with supernatural abilities Clementine Ross (Sarah Snook), who digs into the mystery of her origins after she becomes the target of a group of zealots.
Three comedy pilots, all from outside studios, are awaiting for the new regime at Fox to weigh in: The Pro, from ABC Studios, Cabot College, from Universal TV, and Sober Companion from CBS TV Studios. Previous Fox chairman Kevin Reilly had expressed interest in Rob Lowe and Rob Riggle’s workplace single-camera pilot The Pro, which was set up at NBC last season. I hear the studio has extended the options on stars Lowe and Riggle as it awaits word. Matt Hubbard’s Cabot College, executive produced by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, had been in talks with Fox for a possible six-episode order, which were put on hold when Reilly stepped down. Cabot College was one of two Fox comedy pilots from this past cycle that were considered frontrunners. The other, Sober Companion, starred Justin Long and Nick Frost. Despite not getting a series order in May, the network was interested enough, with Reilly commissioning a second script. The project now too awaits review from Dana Walden and Gary Newman, who are taking oversight of the network later this month. Long and Frost are no longer under deals but I hear they loved the project and working together so much, they would be open to coming back in case of a pickup.