Things we know – the Olympics are long done, the Oscars have come and gone and awards season is over (for now) and ABC dominates Fridays. However, even though the network won the night among adults 18-49 with a 1.6/6 rating, ABC still stumbled a bit compared to last week – both down from its season demo high and with individual shows. With pitches for bicycle lighting and one for the baby knee pads Shark Tank (2.0/7) easily led the night as the highest rated show. With a 5% dip from its February 28 show, the entrepreneurial reality series basically stayed steady with last week. Though with 7.49 million watching it was down from its second best viewership result ever of 7.7 million from last week. Among the rest of ABC’s night, the only show to stay total even with last week was 20/20 (1.8/6) Comedies Last Man Standing (1.3/5) and The Neighbors (0.9/3) were up 8% and down 10% respectively from their February 28 shows.
First deal out of SXSW today is Lionsgate‘s purchase of the North American rights for Eduardo Sanchez‘s Bigfoot feature Exists. Sanchez co-directed the 1999 microbudget title The Blair Witch Project for $60K, which then-distributor Artisan morphed into a worldwide phenom with close to $250 million at the box office. Below is Lionsgate’s release for Exists.
(Austin, TX & Santa Monica, CA, March 8, 2014) — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) has acquired North American distribution rights to EXISTS, a new horror film from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT director Eduardo Sánchez. The film played last night to a sold-out midnight screening at SXSW in Austin.
In Bigfoot’s bold return to the big screen, five friends on a camping weekend in the remote woods of East Texas struggle to survive against a legendary predator that is stronger, smarter, and more terrifying than anything they would have ever believed exists.
The film stars Chris Osborn, Dora Madison Burge, Roger Edwards, Samuel Davis, Denise Williamson and Brian Steele and is produced by Jane Fleming, Mark Ordesky, Robin Cowie and J. Andrew Jenkins. EXISTS is executive produced by George Waud, D. Todd Shepherd, Gregg Hale and Reed Frerichs, and the Sasquatch creature was designed by Spectral Motion.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Kon-Tiki’ Writer To Pen TV Drama ‘The Institution’; UK’s Feature Film Company Relaunched
‘Kon-Tiki’ Scribe To Develop Norwegian TV Drama ‘The Institution’
In the hot Nordic TV space, Norwegian writer Petter Skavlan is set to develop The Institution, an original series, for Nordisk Film. The drama is set inside a fictional royal family and will examine the inner workings of a modern European monarchy as well as discussing the ancient institution’s place in today’s society. Skavlan wrote and exec produced 2012 Oscar nominee Kon-Tiki. Also teaming on The Institution are Borgen producer Camilla Hammerich, Nordisk’s head of production Henrik Zein and executive producer Lone Korslund. Skavlan is represented by ICM Partners.
EXCLUSIVE: Discovery has had a change of heart about its Naked And Afraid after-show, Discovery After Dark — but it’s not what you think. The cable network isn’t chickening out after announcing the after-show with surprisingly little fanfare last month – it’s changing the name and the host, to the much better Naked After Dark, and to Josh Wolf, respectively. Wolf, known to some for his panelist appearances on Chelsea Lately, is maybe best known to Discovery viewers as host of its wildly popular Shark Week after-show Shark After Dark.
Gold Medal Ice Dancers Meryl Davis And Charlie White Headline ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Cast Heavy On Athletes: Video
Fresh off their gold-medal win at the Sochi Olympics, ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White will headline the all-star lineup of ABC‘s competition series Dancing With The Stars when it returns for its 18th season – part of a celebrity lineup that’s heavy on athletes. Davis and White, who have been skating partners since 1997, will compete against each other on Dancing. They’ll be joined by double-amputee snowboarding champ Amy Purdy – a world-champion adaptive snowboarder and the show’s first Paralympian to compete. And, Sean Avery will be the first former hockey player in Dancing history. Also in this year’s celebrity cast: swimmer Diana Nyad, who became the first person to complete a historic 110-mile swim from Cuba to Key West in September of 2013 on her fifth attempt.
Joining the athletes in the battle for the mirrorball trophy: The Wonder Years star Danica McKellar, comedian turned game show host Drew Carey, actor Billy Dee Williams, former Full House actress Candace Cameron Bure, Real Housewives reality star NeNe Leakes, Australian pop singer Cody Simpson, and Big Time Rush actor-singer James Maslow.
EXCLUSIVE: Haifaa Al Mansour made history with Wadjda, the first feature by a Saudi Arabian woman and the first to be shot entirely within the Kingdom. For her second feature, the director is in negotiations to helm A Storm In The Stars for Amy Baer’s Gidden Media. The period romantic drama is about the tumultuous love affair between dangerously charismatic poet Percy Shelley and the brilliant and beautiful 18-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft. The relationship ultimately inspired the latter to write Frankenstein. The script was written by Emma Jensen, and will be produced by Baer. Joannie Burstein and Rebecca Miller are executive producing. Last Vegas producer Baer launched Gidden Media last November. Of A Storm In The Stars, she says, “From the minute I read the script, I was hoping to find a female director who would realize what Emma was trying to say — that Mary Shelley’s story is as much about female empowerment and about a woman ahead of her time, and not just a ‘monster’ origin story.” Baer sees similarities with Wadjda, the story of a young girl who challenges deep-rooted Saudi traditions in a determined quest to buy a bicycle. It’s “remarkably on point thematically — about a young girl chafing against the norms of her society as she tries to be true to herself. I couldn’t be more …
UPDATE 1:15 PM: Following the success last night of Escandalo, a Spanish-language “version” of hit ABC drama Scandal on Jimmy Kimmel Live, I’ve learned that the spoof is being turned into a series, with three more episodes slated to air on JKL through the rest of the season. Like the first video, they will feature Scandal cast members. That will include Guillermo Diaz, who wasn’t in the first skit and has Latin American roots via his Cuban parents.
PREVIOUS 7 AM: On the night of Scandal‘s midseason premiere, star Kerry Washington was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night where she introduced Escandalo, a Spanish-language version of the hot ABC drama. Here is the video, which features Washington and a number of her fellow Scandal cast members (but surprisingly, no Guillermo Diaz), as well as JKL‘s own Guillermo and Kimmel.
UPDATE, 5:36 PM: Mike Epps has been added to the cast of Universal’s Term Life, starring Vince Vaughn and Hailey Steinfeld. Epps will Darryl Mosely, a dirty cop who is trying to frame Vaughn’s character. The actor, whose recent credits include The Hangover Part III and Sparkle, next stars alongside Forest Whitaker, Anthony Mackie and Sanaa Lathan in Repentance, which Lionsgate opens Friday. He is repped by CAA, managers Dan Spilo and Niles Kirshner and attorney Todd Rubenstein.
PREVIOUS, 1:17 PM: Universal’s Term Life has recruited two new castmembers to join the crime thriller starring Vince Vaughn and Hailee Steinfeld. The pic tracks Nick Barrow (Vaughn), who takes his estranged daughter (Steinfeld) on the lam when a heist goes south and he takes out a life insurance policy on himself that doesn’t take effect for 21 days. Jordi Molla (Riddick, Bad Boys II) has been cast in the Peter Billingsley-helmed pic as a ruthless Mexican cartel leader Victor Fuentes, who’s after Barrow. Molla recently filmed a regular role on FX’s upcoming Hoke. Also joining Term Life in the role of Molla’s son Alejandro is William Levy. The Cuba-born telenovela star and Dancing With The Stars Season 14 contestant most recently filmed feature The Veil. He’s shooting Change Of Heart with Jim Belushi and Virginia Madsen and will be seen in Lionsgate’s Addicted.
Marcus Mucha is on the rise at Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment, where he’s been serving as Director of Business Development. Now Mucha has been promoted to VP in the department where he helped put together financing on the upcoming Freeman and Diane Keaton comedy Life Itself, which he associate produced. He also raised funds for Revelations’ DigiRev digital startup incubator. Mucha will continue to grow Revelations’ biz dev opportunities and create a strategic roadmap for the company while overseeing day to day operations. Prior to joining the company he was manager of Business Development at the Mucha Foundation, dedicated to preserving the legacy of his great-grandfather the painter and artist Alphonse Mucha, and served as an agent trainee at ICM under Bob Broder, Doug MacLaren and Kevin Crotty.
The actress claims the director-producer wanted her to falsify documents and turn down other jobs to shoot Papa in Cuba in late 2012. Sharon Stone names Bob Yari and his production companies Magenta Light Productions and Sixth Floor Literary Properties as defendants in a lawsuit filed today in LA Superior Court. The suit claims that Yari and his companies “lied to [Stone] and attempted to lure her into being a participant in their fraudulent scheme to avoid the legal licensing requirements of the United States government.” It also alleges that she was induced “to forego other projects and commit to making [Papa] based on Yari’s false representation that Defendants had obtained the necessary documentation to shoot the Picture in Cuba and to enable Ms. Stone to travel to Cuba to render acting services.”
Atlas Independent has set Ian McShane to star with Patrick Wilson in The Man On Carrion Road, which Open Grave’s Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego will direct based on Nils Lyew’s script. McShane will play an aging retired Sheriff of a small border town with violent tendencies. He teams with the town’s new sheriff (Wilson) to stop a mysterious cartel butcher who’s brutalizing the town’s residents. William Green, Aaron Ginsburg, and Andy Horwitz will produce through Atlas Independent, an offshoot of Charles Roven’s Atlas Entertainment. MICA Entertainment is financing with Relativity International selling the picture overseas. Production begins in April in Utah.
McShane just wrapped the Brett Ratner-directed Hercules and will next be seen in the comedy Cuban Fury. Pic comes after the William Monahan-directed Mojave with Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund, also a collaboration between Atlas Independent, MICA Entertainment and Relativity International. McShane is represented by ICM, Independent Talent, Gallant Management and Nelson Davis Wetzstein.
Shooting on the follow-up to last year’s sleeper hit Now You See Me will take place in the U.S., Europe, and Asia “to capitalize on the property’s international appeal, with most of the original cast returning, and some exciting new additions,” Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told analysts this morning in a call to discuss the company’s fiscal Q3 earnings. He added later that execs “absolutely see it as a franchise. We’re going to add some cast to it. We see it as an ongoing situation.” Execs pushed the theme of Lionsgate as an incubator for franchises; Feltheimer says the company has “an ability to assemble and mine the richest and most diverse portfolios of [intellectual property] in the industry.” He considers upcoming films Gods Of Egypt, Chaos Walking, and Mordecai (“a character that Johnny Depp loves,” he says) as “potential franchises — later adding The Last Witch Hunter with Vin Diesel to the list plus “another one we hope to announce shortly.” Speaking of franchises, the CEO said that timetable for the Hunger Games series remains “unchanged” — with releases planned for late November this year and next — following the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. “We’re fortunate to have his incredible talent grace our Hunger Games family,” Feltheimer says. “We send our deepest condolences to all who were close to him.” The CEO also talked up the Divergent series, noting that the studio is “gearing up to begin shooting Insurgent, the second film in the franchise, this summer in order to make our March 2015 release date.”
The Wagner/Cuban Company’s Magnet Releasing snagged U.S. rights to horror comedy musical Stage Fright, which is set to debut next month at SXSW. The Midnighters premiere from first-time feature director Jerome Sable (The Legend of Beaver Dam) stars Allie MacDonald and Douglas Smith in the tale of a starry-eyed teenager with Broadway dreams who sneaks out of kitchen duty at the snobby performing arts camp where she works to audition for the summer showcase and lands the lead, only to find herself in the middle of a bloodbath when rehearsals begin. Meat Loaf and Minnie Driver also co-star. Magnet is planning an Ultra VOD release with Stage Fright hitting iTunes/On Demand on April 3 ahead of a May 9 theatrical debut. The pic is produced by Ari Lantos and Jonas Bell Pasht of Serendipity Point Films. Original music and lyrics are by Sable and collaborator Eli Batalion, who also appears in the film as the camp’s music director. For a taste of Sable’s chops check out his 2010 Legend of Beaver Dam short which made the film fest rounds and similarly blended music, dark comedy, and children being hacked up at camp:
Oscar winners Louis Gossett Jr and Cuba Gooding Jr, Aunjanue Ellis (Ray, The Help) and Lyriq Bent (Rookie Blue, Home Again) have been tapped to star in The Book Of Negroes miniseries, based on Lawrence Hill’s bestselling 2007 novel. The project from Conquering Pictures, Out of Africa Entertainment and Entertainment One Television will air on BET Networks in the U.S. and CBC in Canada. The story centers on Aminata Diallo, who is taken by slave traders from West Africa to South Carolina. It follows her through the American Revolution in New York, the isolated refuge of Nova Scotia and the jungles of Sierra Leone, before she ultimately secures her freedom in England in the early 1800s. Cast also includes Ben Chaplin, Allan Hawko and Jane Alexander. The mini-series is co-written by Clement Virgo and Lawrence Hill. Virgo will direct. Principal photography begins this week in South Africa.
The show is long gone but the sequel to Don Johnson’s successful multi-million dollar Nash Bridges lawsuit lives on. Today an LA Superior Court judge tossed a motion by Cox Media to kill the complaint for over $48 million that their former subsidiary Rysher Entertainment first filed last summer. Judge Mel Red Recana’s ruling means the suit by Rysher, its present owners Qualia Capital and its past owners Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s 2929 Entertainment will likely see the parties fight further in front of a jury over who is really responsible for the $19 million that Johnson was finally paid in February last year. In response filings to the August 2013 complaint, Cox said that any responsibility they had ended in 2006, five years after they sold off Rysher. The judge today didn’t agree, obviously.
In 2010, Johnson was awarded 50% of the Nash Bridges copyright which entitled him to syndication rights on the series, which ran from 1996-2001 on CBS. Johnson had sued Rysher, 2929 Entertainment and Qualia Capital in 2009 for not living up to the contract he had with them on the series. Over the years following, the parties fought over the award, which at one point went up to $50 million and then down to $15 million before a settlement was reached. With Johnson now paid off and out of the immediate way, Rysher and the other …
New York, NY – February 3, 2014 – NBCUniversal today announced the launch of the NBCUniversal Technology Center, a state-of-the-art technology center located in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, which will be the new center for the company’s core technology team, as well as the home of the new Media Labs operation.
The creation of the 63,000 square foot Technology Center represents an investment of approximately $17 million in the company’s New Jersey operations, and serves as a complement to NBCUniversal’s previously announced investments in the infrastructure of its New York operations.
SXSW: ‘Neighbors,’ ‘Joe,’ Wes Anderson Q&A Round Out Features Lineup; New Episodic TV Section Unveiled
Universal’s May comedy Neighbors, David Gordon Green’s Nic Cage starrer Joe, and Mike Myers’ directorial debut docu Supermensch are just a few of the newly announced titles set to screen at SXSW 2014, which debuted its full Features line-up today. They join previously announced opener Chef, from Jon Favreau, the world premiere of the Veronica Mars movie in a slate packed with over 115 features, 76 world premieres, 10 North American premieres, including the latest films from Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Dance of Reality), Jason Bateman (Bad Words), Nacho Vigalondo (Open Windows), a special screening of 1954′s original Gojira with Q&A with Godzilla remake helmer Gareth Edwards, and a rare Texas appearance by UT grad Wes Anderson who will present his new film Grand Budapest Hotel in an extended Q&A session.
In recent years SXSW has increased its television-focused programming, debuting SXSW alum Lena Dunham‘s Girls in 2012 and presenting a Bates Motel panel in 2013. This year the Austin film fest is introducing an entire Episodic programming section devoted to small screen works. In addition to a previously announced screening of Fox’s COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey with Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Episodic section will include Hulu and Lionsgate TV’s supernatural comedy Deadbeat starring Tyler Labine with cast and crew Q&A, a screening of El Rey and Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn pilot, AMC’s 1980s-set computer drama Halt and Catch Fire, Showtime’s John Logan-created Penny Dreadful, and HBO’s new sitcom Silicon Valley co-created by Mike Judge.
UPDATE: Magnolia Confirms Domestic Deal At Sundance For ‘Frank,’ The One That Has Michael Fassbender Wearing The Giant Head
UPDATE, 3:16 PM: Magnolia Pictures has confirmed news that Deadline broke yesterday: It has acquired North American rights to Frank, starring Michael Fassbender. Read the full release below the original story.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, THURSDAY AM: Magnolia is zeroing in on a low seven-figure domestic deal for Frank, the Lenny Abrahamson-directed film about a band that is led by an eclectic genius lead singer who, everywhere he goes, wears an oversized head, even on stage. Now, this has been one of the most intriguing titles, given that the actor playing him is Michael Fassbender, the hunky Irishman who was just Oscar-nominated for his role in 12 Years A Slave.
The film also stars Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy and Domhnall Gleeson and the vantage point is a fledgling musician who joins the band. The film is repped by WME Global, and while the deal flow has been a bit on the slow side, that agency has managed to close a deal through all of the six days of the fest. I wrote about how Graham Taylor’s Sundance team of Mark Ankner, Liesl Copland and Alexis Garcia got minted as partners, and maybe that was the extra motivation, but they bagged the fest’s first big deal on the opening night film Whiplash, and haven’t let up. Frank first premiered last Friday night at the Eccles Theater.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Life Of A King’, ‘Generation War’, ‘Back In The Day’, ‘Big Bad Wolves’, ‘G.B.F.’
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
As Sundance kicks into high gear with much of the spectrum of the indie world high up in Utah, Millennium will debut Life Of A King with Cuba Gooding, Jr. The project has been a passion of veteran producer Jim Young over a decade in the making and will open in a fairly sizable launch this weekend. Music Box will bow Generation War, a feature that was initially shown as a highly successful mini-series in Germany with a “unique” story against the backdrop of WWII. Also a project that gestated over some years, Back In The Day will bow this weekend via Screen Media Films, while Magnet releasing will open Israeli-produced thriller Big Bad Wolves. And festival favorite LGBT-centered G.B.F. will open in an initial limited run by Vertical Entertainment.
Life Of A King has roots in a segment from ABC’s Nightline over a decade ago. The drama centers on ex-felon, Eugene Brown (Cuba Gooding, Jr) who establishes a Chess Club for inner city teens in Washington, D.C. “I met a sports writer named Dan Wetzel and he said I had to watch this episode of Nightline about Eugene Brown,” said producer Jim Young. “I watched it and it was unbelievable.” He attempted to track Brown down via the internet, but had difficulty at the time (we’ve come a long way) and decided to go the traditional route by hiring a private detective.