EXCLUSIVE: Cuba Gooding Jr, Michael Madsen and Keith David have joined the cast of Comedy Central’s new scripted series Big Time In Hollywood, FL, produced by Ben Stiller‘s Red Hour and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Written by Alex Anfanger and Dan Schimpf, it follows two delusional brothers and self-proclaimed filmmakers (Anfanger, Lenny Jacobson), who are kicked out of their parents’ (Kathy Baker, Stephen Tobolowsky) house and forced to fend for themselves for the first time in their lives, leading them on an epic journey in pursuit of their American dream. In six episodes of Big Time‘s 10-episode order, Oscar winner Gooding will play a fictionalized version of himself. In four episodes. Madsen will play a grizzled, alcoholic private investigator hired by the family to track their sons’ criminal activity. In six episodes, David will play a federal agent sent to investigate Cartel activity in Hollywood, Fla. The series is filming in Los Angeles for 2015 debut.
Cuba Gooding Jr., Michael Madsen & Keith David Join Comedy Central Series ‘Big Time In Hollywood, FL’
Global Showbiz Briefs: Endemol Pacts With Mam Tor; Cannes Looks East; ‘For The Dogs’ Becomes ‘Hunter’s Prayer’
Endemol has entered an exclusive first-look development and distribution deal with UK drama producer Mam Tor Productions Limited. The Big Brother producer will provide development funding and deficit financing during the three-year deal in return for exclusive first-look distribution rights to Mam Tor’s output. Mam Tor was founded in April by former film and TV agent Tally Garner who previously ran Curtis Brown’s in-house production company Cuba Pictures. Her credits include BAFTA winning drama Boy A with Andrew Garfield, and Rufus Norris’ feature Broken. She also exec-produces BBC One’s adaptation of Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell.
EXCLUSIVE: Neophyte shingle Imperative Entertainment has won a competitive bidding for Zach Dean’s World War II drama pitch Atlantic Wall, which Imperative will team with Madhouse Entertainment on to produce. Logline tracks a lone American paratrooper who is stranded behind enemy lines hours before D-Day, tasked with delivering intelligence critical to the outcome of the war and compelled to fulfill a promise to protect the young son of a murdered ally.
WME has just signed Dana Stevens, the prolific feature writer who is the exec producer and sole creator of Reckless on CBS. Stevens last year adapted the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven for Relativity, and her other credits include City Of Angels and the Kevin Costner baseball pic For Love Of The Game. She currently is adapting for James Cameron’s Lightstorm and Fox The Dive, the touching story of Cuban free diver Pipin Ferreras and his wife Audrey Mestres, the latter of whom died trying to better her record for a free dive, in which she plunged to an unimaginable depth on a single breath and then tried to swim to the surface. Stevens had been at UTA.
EXCLUSIVE: Beverly Hills-based management company Magnolia Entertainment has promoted a trio of managers and locked in $100 million in production funding with Shanghai-based Kylin-Mandarin Enterprises. The expansion into production funding comes as Magnolia promoted managers Ari Zudkewich, Jared Ceizler, and Kauveh Khozein and given them supervisory capacities. Two other managers have left the firm.
Zudkewich will focus on the company’s literary division, which includes such clients as Daniel Espinosa, David Caspe, Scott Kosar, Kieran Darcy Smith, Fedor Bondarchuk and Matt Greenberg. Ceizler will focus on servicing Magnolia’s talent division, which includes such actors as Rachel McAdams, Rosamund Pike, Tatiana Maslany, Bill Skarsgård, Oona Chaplin, Joel Kinnaman, and Dev Patel. Khozein will act as the coordinator of the company’s talent division.
EXCLUSIVE: Cuba Gooding Jr has closed a deal with 20th Century Fox TV to develop a single-camera half-hour comedy set in an old-school boxing gym. Gooding will co-create and executive produce the project with Jason Winer‘s Small Dog Picture Company. The Oscar-winning actor is not attached to star at this point, we’re told, and there’s no writer yet. Gooding and Small Dog are meeting with potential showrunners before taking the project — which is not being called a sitcom — out to networks.
Based on Gooding’s love of boxing, the series is set in a gym in a newly gentrified neighborhood where hard-core boxers, weekend warriors and soccer moms gather to practice.
Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, producers of sports-themed Broadway shows Lombardi, Magic/Bird and Bronx Bombers, have acquired the exclusive global, theatrical and movie rights to the life story of boxing heavyweight champion Joe Louis. They haven’t yet announced what they plan to do with the rights. The Brown Bomber reigned from 1937-1949 and died in 1981.
As previously announced, Kirmser and Ponturo will exec produce the upcoming Legendary Pictures feature film Lombardi, based on the show about the life of Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. Produced by Kirmser Ponturo Group LLC and in association with the NFL, the play opened on Broadway in 2010 and was the longest-running play of the season.
EXCLUSIVE: Spider-Man 2 and 3‘s Dylan Baker has joined the cast of Paramount’s Martin Luther King Jr. pic Selma as one of the civil rights leader’s most vigorous government adversaries. He’ll play FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, who under the direction of then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy, carried out extensive investigations of King and his cohorts, including wiretapping and heavy surveillance.
Ava DuVernay is directing the film, which is in production with David Oyelowo playing MLK, Carmen Ejogo as wife Coretta Scott King and a supporting cast that includes Oprah Winfrey, Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr, Common, Alessandro Nivola and Tessa Thompson. Last month Tim Roth joined the cast as segregationist Alabama Gov. George Wallace. Baker is coming off an Emmy-nominated run on The Good Wife and stints on Chicago Fire and spinoff Chicago PD. He is repped by Innovative and Viking.
Lionsgate Acquires North American, UK Distribution Rights To Nicholas Sparks’ Novel Adaptation ‘The Choice’
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has acquired North American and UK distribution rights to The Choice, an adaptation of the 2007 Nicholas Sparks novel that has a script by Bryan Sipe, with Sparks, Theresa Park and Peter Safran producing. Production begins in the fall. The deal, which began percolating during the Cannes Film Festival market, is similar in construct to the deal that Paramount made for Story Of Your Life, and the $12 million deal The Weinstein Company made on The Lion. This is for less money, but Lionsgate basically has bought a fully developed film. It is the first time that Sparks has gone this route; he usually auctions his new fiction and gets millions in guaranteed fees. He wanted instead to incubate the project before shopping it, and take part as an investor in the film.
The Choice tells the story of a long love affair that begins when Travis Parker and Gabby Holland first met as neighbors in a small coastal town and end up pursuing a relationship that neither could have foreseen. It spans a decade and traces the evolution of a love affair that is ultimately tested by life’s most defining events. Sparks’ The Best Of Me and The Longest Ride are currently in production. This is Lionsgate’s first project with the author, who with Park formed Nicholas Sparks Productions and recently acquired rights to make a movie on the life of Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers.
Artist and brand management company Vector Management is partnering with Eric Ortner of Ortner Media Group to create Vector OMG, an imprint that will serve as both a management company and production incubator. Ortner’s clients, including journalist & Starfish Media Group CEO Soledad O’Brien, NBC News’ Ann Curry, and inventor/marketing pioneer Ron Popeil, will move to Vector OMG with Ortner. The announcement was made today by Vector co-presidents Ken Levitan and Jack Rovner. “With this new venture, we plan to take the best practices of traditional campaigns in the general entertainment marketplace while creating new revenue opportunities for journalists and other public figures,” says Rovner. As a manager and advisor, Ortner represents on-air talent, content producers, comedians, journalists, major multinational brands, investor groups, newsmakers, and leaders of global influence. He previously worked as a producer in broadcast news. He was a senior producer for ABC News’ Good Morning America and GMA Weekend. His other producing credits include 20/20, CBS News, NBC News, and Today.
Bill Condon Helming ‘Beauty And The Beast;’ John Lavelle Joins ‘Selma’; Janeane Garofalo, Phyllis Somerville & Ed Weeks Cast In ‘3rd Street Blackout’
Disney has hired Bill Condon to direct a live-action Beauty And The Beast as the studio continues to mine the fairy tale books for all they are worth. Condon is coming off The Fifth Estate, the Julian Assange movie that unfortunately didn’t have a fairy tale ending…
John Lavelle has joined the cast of Paramount’s Selma for director Ava Duvernay. He will play Roy Reed, a reporter covering the Martin Luther King Jr-led march on Washington for The New York Times. The ensemble also features David Oyeloko, Tom Wilkinson, Cuba Gooding Jr and Tim Roth. Lavelle, whose recent credits include Zerosome, Dirty Movie and voices in Frozen, is repped by Innovative Artists and Coronel Group.
Janeane Garafolo, Phyllis Somerville and Ed Weeks are set to star in the indie comedy 3rd Street Blackout. Production is underway on the film from co-directors Negin Farsad and Jeremy Redleaf, which follows a technology-obsessed couple forced to re-examine their relationship when they become suddenly unplugged in NYC during Hurricane Sandy. The cast also includes Jordan Carlos, Arthur French, Rachel Feinstein, Katie Hartman and Miles J. Harvey.
Fox Television Studios has inked a first-look deal with veteran TV and film producer Elizabeth Guber Stephen, who will develop and produce cable projects through her Gables Media banner. Under the deal, Stephen and FtvS have set two projects.
One is hourlong USA drama series Timeline, from best-selling author Jennifer Lynn Barnes (Raised By Wolves book series), about a female astronaut who, upon returning to Earth from a six-month mission, discovers that someone has altered her past and, in effect, rewritten her entire life. Set up at Fox and based on the 2011 film from writer-director-producers Aaron Salgado and Jaydee Freixas, Magic City Memoirs follows three wealthy, influential families whose patriarchs came to Miami 30 years ago as Cuban refugees, and whose sons are now facing the fallout from the secrets their fathers have harbored in order to obtain the “American dream.” The pilot is written by Liz Benjamin (Bones).
EXCLUSIVE: After playing Monaco’s Prince Rainer III in the Cannes opening-night film Grace Of Monaco, Tim Roth will play another period figure in a major feature. He’s signing on to the cast of Selma, and he will be playing George Wallace, the Alabama governor who favored segregation and whose bullying tactics galvanized Martin Luther King Jr and the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery. The Ava DuVernay-directed film for Paramount is shaping up with a strong cast that includes David Oyelowo as Dr. King and Tom Wilkinson is President Lyndon Johnson. Wallace turned out to be a key player in the proceedings, though it hardly ended up like he hoped it would. He vowed to stop the march, and when the first wave of protesters turned up, they were brutally beaten by Wallace’s Alabama State Troopers. This created national outrage, and protesters white and black began arriving from all over the country. The continued violence led LBJ to say that this was not a black problem or a white problem but an American problem, and it prompted the president to push for the Voting Rights Act, which guaranteed African-Americans the right to vote.
Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. is set to play famed civil rights attorney and activist Fred Gray in Paramount Pictures’ Selma, a feature drama about Martin Luther King’s 1965 landmark voting rights campaign, regarded as the peak of the civil rights movement. Gray came to prominence while working alongside King during that period. Gooding joins previously cast David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey and Martin Sheen in the pic produced by Plan B and Winfrey. Ava DuVernay is directing from a script she rewrote from Paul Webb’s original version. Gooding won a best supporting actor Oscar for 1996′s Jerry Maguire. His other film credits include Machete Kills, Don Jon, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and As Good As It Gets. Gooding is repped by ICM partners and Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal Laviolette Feldman Schenkman & Goodman.
The Crash producer is headed back to court. Three months after coming out on the losing end of an epic seven-year legal battle over profits from that Oscar-winning pic, Bob Yari is facing a new lawsuit. Isaac Michalov and Michael Grayson of Axis Entertainment sued Yari and others today in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging the defendants conspired to cut them out of $1 million from a judgment in another case, Isaac Michalov v Syndicate Films Inc. That case was decided in favor of the plaintiff in October 2010 and held up on appeal in July 2012, but the Axis principals claim they haven’t seen a nickel from it. According to today’s complaint (read it here), Yari, his companies and fellow defendants William Immerman, Dennis Brown and Davand Holdings “entered into a conspiracy, combination and collaboration with each other, the purpose of which was to defraud Plaintiffs and deprive them from collection of the SFI Judgment and hinder, delay or defraud creditors of Plaintiffs, in particular, Syndicate Films, from collection of the Syndicate Films Judgment.” The suit’s claims include fraudulent transfer and unjust enrichment, and it seeks unspecified damages in a jury trial. Attorney Marc Smith of Krane & Smith APC in Encino is representing the plaintiffs.
More unscripted renewals at ABC. Getting a sixth-season pickup is MVP Shark Tank, which has been driving ABC’s demo ratings dominance on Friday and which has stepped in to fill any hole the network might have open with its well-performing repeats. Sony TV is producing. The Bachelor, from Warner Horizon, has been picked up for a 19th cycle after a controversial but well-rated season with bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis. And the oldest of them all, America’s Funniest Home Videos, has been renewed for a 25th (!), which longtime host Tom Bergeron said would be his last.
Days before her official retirement, Barbara Walters showed youngsters how it’s done, scooping her rivals one last time to land an exclusive interview with the woman involved in the hottest story of the moment. Walters just did a sit-down with Donald Sterling’s confidante V. Stiviano, whose taped conversation with the Los Angeles Clippers owner, in which he makes racist comments, has led to a $2.5 million fine, a lifelong ban from the NBA and likely a sale of the team.
While Walters’ impressive list of interview subjects through the years includes such hard-to-get world figures as the Shah of Iran, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Jiang Zemin, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, she likely will be remembered for her celebrity chats and for landing exclusive interviews with headline-makers everyone is pursuing. It is fitting that one of her final interviews is with a young woman who is bringing down a powerful man. It comes 15 years after Walters’ biggest get, a sit-down with young woman who almost toppled the President of the United States — Monica Lewinsky. A record 74 million viewers tuned in for that interview. Those are numbers we probably won’t ever see again, but Walters is likely to get a ratings bump for what could be her final “get”.
As part of its continued push into the digital and gaming space, Lionsgate has tapped Nerdist Industries’ Peter Levin as President of Interactive Ventures and Games. In his new role, Levin will be responsible for expanding Lionsgate’s content creation into video games and other interactive ventures, including incubation of new properties, investment in existing games and digital media vehicles and leveraging Lionsgate’s franchises and other branded properties into the gaming space.