ITV has set the roster for its upcoming four-part miniseries that follows the lives and loves of both historical and fictional characters in 1666 London as The Great Fire rages. Broadchurch‘s Andrew Buchan, Rose Leslie (Utopia, Game Of Thrones, Downton Abbey), Jack Huston (American Hustle, Boardwalk Empire) and Daniel Mays (Mrs Biggs, Welcome To The Punch) have each taken on key roles in the production from Fleming and Mistresses‘ Ecosse Films. Inspired by the real events of 1666 when nearly half of London was destroyed in less than a week, the drama is written by Tom Bradby, political editor of ITN and author of Shadow Dancer. The story unfolds over four consecutive days as the fire takes hold of the city and the people desperately attempt to overcome the flames amid a threat to the monarchy. Buchan will play humble baker Thomas Farriner in whose shop the fire began on September 2, 1666. Leslie plays his sister-in-law with whom he has a complex relationship. Huston is the playboy King Charles II and Mays is Samuel Pepys, a close confidante. Per ITV, pyrotechnics and special effects, as opposed to CGI, will create the fire sequences as London burns. Also in the cast are …
Global Showbiz Briefs: Irish Film & TV Academy Nominations; Sky Renews ‘Stella’; Sylvie Pialat Honored In France; More
The Irish Film and Television Academy has unveiled its nominees for the 11th annual Irish Film and Television Awards, which takes place on April 5 in Dublin. In the Best Film category are Neil Jordan’s Byzantium; John Michael McDonagh’s Calvary; Steph Green’s Run & Jump; Stephen Brown’s The Sea; and John Butler’s The Stag. Ruiri Robinson is nominated for director for his debut sci-fi feature film The Last Days On Mars alongside Butler, Jordan and McDonagh. The Best Actor category includes Brendan Gleeson for Calvary; Domhnall Gleeson for About Time; Ciarán Hinds in The Sea; and The Stag’s Andrew Scott. Antonia Campbell-Hughes is nominated for Best Actress in 3096 Days, alongside Saoirse Ronan in Byzantium; Jane McGrath in Black Ice; and Kelly Thornton in Life’s A Breeze. The male supporting race includes Colin Farrell for Saving Mr Banks; Michael Fassbender for 12 Years A Slave; Edward MacLiam for Run & Jump and Peter McDonald for The Stag. Female supporting actors recognized are Sinead Cusack for The Sea; Fionnula Flannigan for Life’s A Breeze; Amy Huberman for The Stag and Orla O’Rourke for Calvary. Up for Best International Film are 12 Years A Slave, Gravity, Philomena and The Wolf Of Wall Street. Among TV nominees is Gillian Anderson thriller The Fall; HBO’s Game Of Thrones; historical action drama Vikings; period crime series Quirke; and urban drama Love/Hate. Downton Abbey, Moone Boy and Dracula also scored acting nods. The full list of IFTA nominees is here.
The company has been on a release-date roll, slating a dozen films since Friday. In its second announcement today, Warner Bros has set theatrical debuts for the Untitled New Line Horror Film (October 3), Mean Moms (May 8, 2015), The Conjuring 2 (October 23, 2015) and How To Be Single (February 12, 2016). The NL horror pic is getting a jump on this year’s Halloween fare, steering clear of Universal’s Dracula Untold (October 17) and Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 5 (October 24). Warners must have good vibes about Mean Moms, the feature directing debut of veteran TV helmer Beth McCarthy-Miller. The comedy about the cutthroat world of competitive parenting in the suburbs has no stars booked but has a plum start-of-summer launch date to itself for now. The sequel to last summer’s horror hit The Conjuring is slated for the 2015 trick-or-treat season, a week after Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak begins its Halloween haunt. And How To Be Single is the first rom-com set for the 2016 Valentine’s Day weekend, going up against the Lionsgate actioner Gods Of Egypt and Universal’s Untitled Pets Project from Illumination Entertainment.
Showtime has deployed the first full trailer for its psychosexual horror series that bows May 11. Penny Dreadful unites some of literature’s creepiest characters — including those ripped from tales of Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and Dracula — deposits them in Victorian London and lets the mayhem begin. Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton and Eva Green star in the eight-episode Sunday night series, which co-stars Reeve Carney, Rory Kinnear, Billie Piper, Danny Sapani and Harry Treadaway. It’s written by John Logan, who exec produces with Sam Mendes and Pippa Harris. Here’s a look at the sex and blood and imagery:
EXCLUSIVE: Famous prohibition agent Eliot Ness wasn’t even 30 years old when hit the pinnacle in his career by taking down Al Capone with his law enforcement team dubbed The Untouchables. The following two decades of his life are the subject of Ness, a drama series in development at WGN America from The Blacklist duo of Sony Pictures TV and Davis Entertainment. The project is based on Douglas Perry’s biography Eliot Ness: The Rise And Fall Of An American Hero, which is being published next week. The adaptation will be written by renowned crime novelist Dennis Lehane (Shutter Island; Mystic River; Gone, Baby, Gone), with Sony TV-based Michael Dinner (Justified) set to direct. The two are executive producing with Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox.
Ness’ 1929-31 heroics going after crime boss Capone in Chicago were chronicled in the 1959 ABC drama series The Untouchables starring Robert Stack as Ness and Brian De Palma’s Oscar-winning movie of the same name toplined by Kevin Costner. Ness will follow is the real (and untold) story of Ness post-Untouchables when he became the top cop in Cleveland, the most dangerous city in America during the 1930s. He spent the next decade fighting the mob, his own corrupt police department, and a serial killer on the streets. All while battling his alcoholism, serial philandering and the constant need for acclaim. (Ness was broke and an alcoholic when he died from a massive heart attack at 55 in 1957). Coincidentally, Sony TV is developing another project about Ness’ years in Cleveland on the longform side. Nemesis, an eight-hour miniseries for NBC, zeroes in on Ness’ hunt for the so-called Torso Killer, billed as America’s first serial killer. The mini is based on different source material, the book Nemesis: The Final Case Of Eliot Ness by William Bernhardt, with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron executive producing.
EXCLUSIVE: What if Robin Hood and his traditional nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham, were the same person? That is the premise of Nottingham, a Game Of Thrones reinvention of the classic mythology in the works at BBC America. The series project is written by Dracula creator Cole Haddon, who again takes on a classic villain character. Sony Pictures TV and studio-based Davis Entertainment, the companies behind NBC hit The Blacklist, are producing, with Haddon and Davis Entertainment’s John Davis and John Fox executive producing. Described as a soapy class drama, Nottingham centers on the Sheriff of Nottingham whose wife is killed by King John’s men. When nobody is brought to justice, the Sheriff launches a one-man war against the Crown. By day, he remains the reviled Sheriff, loyal servant of the King, but by night he puts on a hood and, using the intelligence he gains from his office, attacks the King where it hurts the most — his coffers.
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.
UK pay-TV giant BSkyB announced better-than-expected half-year operating profits this morning in London — and a major deal to expand its existing relationship with HBO. The pair has been cozy since 2010 when the Sky Atlantic channel became the “home of HBO” series. That exclusive first-run output deal will now be extended through 2020, giving Sky customers continued access to the entire HBO catalog including such shows as Game Of Thrones and Girls, as well as new series like True Detective and Looking. The extension of the pact could be worth up to £275M over five years. The partners have also committed to co-develop and produce what BSkyB CEO Jeremy Darroch calls, “epic drama of a truly spectacular scale.” The partners say they will make original drama series for broadcast on their respective networks and are looking at projects with the potential to run for multiple seasons. The high-end TV tax credit now flourishing in the UK has already brought American shows to shoot locally and this deal will likely see the Sky/HBO co-pros taking advantage of the incentives. The two companies will jointly finance the projects.
The moves come as the 21st Century Fox-controlled BSkyB has been fending off aggressive rival BT which has been muscling in on sports rights usually held by Sky. Movies and entertainment programming are the other key draws for Sky subscribers and today’s deal will see that offer bolstered. Sky has been on a drive to invest £600M a year in original British content and has committed to more than 100 hours of original drama this year. Sky Atlantic has already partnered with Canal Plus on The Tunnel, with BBC America on Fleming, and with Showtime on John Logan’s Penny Dreadful. Sky Living co-produces NBC series Dracula while Sky Arts has the Jon Hamm/Daniel Radcliffe series A Young Doctor’s Notebook. Click over for full details of the new HBO pact:
After acquiring an equity stake in Australian producer Matchbox Pictures in 2011, NBCUniversal International Television Production has now taken full ownership of the company via an undisclosed investment. This adds to NBCU’s stable of overseas production labels that also includes Carnival Films (Downton Abbey, Dracula), reality producer Monkey Kingdom and factual shingle Chocolate Media, all in the UK; as well as Lark Productions in Canada. Matchbox launched in 2008 and develops and produces drama, comedy, documentary and young adult television, and feature films. Earlier this month, NBC greenlighted The Slap, an eight-episode mini based on Matchbox’s 2011 complex family drama series. Universal Television and Matchbox are producing with Matchbox co-founder Tony Ayres as exec producer. Other recent Matchbox credits include the dramedy Camp which aired on NBC this summer and AACTA winning action adventure series Nowhere Boys, which Ayres created. Ayres, with co-founder Penny Chapman, will lead the creative team at Matchbox on the scripted side, and Kylie Washington will head up unscripted. The company will continue to operate as a distinct entity led by managing director Chris Oliver Taylor. NBCU provides a distribution network for Matchbox’s content outside of Australia and New Zealand.
The success on other nights this fall has made NBC‘s ratings struggles on Thursday even more glaring. “Thursday night is a real challenge for us, something that we’re well aware of as we head into pilot season and start to think about the fall schedule next year,” NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt said at TCA today. “Comedy has proven to be very difficult for us.” No kidding. This past Thursday, The Michael J. Fox Show hit a series low of 0.6 rating in 18-49, a number a show rarely logs and lives to see another airing. ”We’re, obviously, not happy about a .6 for any show and especially for Michael J. Fox,” Greenblatt said. “We like that show. We like Sean Hayes’ show a lot. Creatively, we think they’re good shows, and we’re really unhappy that we can’t find an audience for them in those time periods. So we’re going to still work hard to see what we can do on Thursday nights. It is a real, real uphill battle.”
Greenblatt’s initial assessment of Michael J. Fox Show‘s renewal chances was pretty grim: “Obviously, we have to see how it plays out for the next few months and then get in the scheduling room and make some hard decisions. It’s not anywhere near where we’d like it to be.” He got more optimistic as the session went on. “I’d love to figure out a way to bring it back,” he said. “We may move it around the schedule a little bit.”
TCA: John Logan Says He Wrote ‘Penny Dreadful’ After Re-Visiting “Poor Vengeful Monstrous Creature That Is Frankenstein”: Video
“I’m a total monster geek,” award-winning playwright turned go-to James Bond scriptwriter John Logan said when asked how he wound up writing and exec producing Showtime’s psychosexual horror series Penny Dreadful. The pay cable network has ordered eight episodes of the series that features some of literature’s most iconic monsters, including Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dorian Gray. Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, Rory Kinnear, Harry Treadaway, Reeve Carney and Billie Piper star.
Reading a lot of Wordsworth led him to re-read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, he explained, adding, “I started thinking about why, almost 200 years later, we’re still reading ‘Frankenstein‘ and I think it’s because the monster breaks my heart. Growing up as a gay man before that was as socially acceptable as it is now, I knew what it was like not to feel socially acceptable, but the same thing that made me monstrous to some people made me who I was.” Re-visting Frankenstein, he said, “I wept reading about the pathos and suffering of the poor, vengeful, monstrous creature.“
Marvel‘s follow-up to The Avengers has found another villain: It’s Thomas Kretschmann, the German actor who plays Van Helsing in NBC’s upcoming series Dracula. His deal has been sealed now we’ve been told and he joins James Spader on the bad guy list for The Avengers: Age Of Ultron; Spader was cast as Ultron back in August. Kretschmann’s film credits include roles in Tom Cruise’s 2008 Valkyrie and most recently Stalingrad, the highest-grossing Russian in history that is getting an IMAX run in the U.S. in February. The Joss Whedeon pic already has Aaron Johnson and Elisabeth Olsen aboard as new superheroes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, respectively, among the full cast returning from the first mega-blockbuster. Disney has given the sequel a May 1, 2015 release date.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has signed rising helmer Gary Shore and his ArtCastle label. Shore directed the upcoming Universal Pictures film Dracula Untold. With producer Jonathan Loughran (The F Word), Shore operates ArtCastle from Los Angeles and Dublin. The filmmaker first got notice here after Loughran circulated his trailer Cup Of Tears, going viral with it. That led to a bidding battle and a deal with Working Title to develop a feature version, which in turn led to a three-picture deal with Universal for ArtCastle that started Dracula Untold. The bloodsucker stars Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper and Sarah Gadon and will be released in October. The company’s goal is to develop film and TV for Shore to direct and produce, as they continue to be a catalyst in financing and producing films that will shoot in Ireland.
Among the projects ArtCastle is percolating: 38, an action thriller scripted by In America‘s Naomi Sheridan; The Ranger, a revenge thriller set during the Irish famine that will star Brendan Gleeson and be directed by PJ Dillon; the Pierce Brosnan-starrer Last Man Out, scripted by TV host/writer/director Craig Ferguson & Ted Mulkerin; and the period epic Hound Of Erin, based on the Irish mythological heroic figure Cú Chulainn.
Shore continues to be represented by Anonymous Content for management in L.A. and 42 in the UK.
Polish composer Wojciech Kilar, who scored Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winner The Pianist, died Sunday in Katowice, Poland after a long illness, Association of Polish Composers head Jerzy Kornowicz told the AP. He was 81. Kilar, who studied in Paris and at Poland’s State Higher School of Music, contributed his first feature film score for 1960′s Lunatycy and would go on to score over 100 films from his fellow countrymen notably including Krzysztof Kieślowski, Krzysztof Zanussi, Kazimierz Kutz, and Andrzej Wajda. His first composition for an English-language film was for Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for which he won the ASCAP Film and Television Music Award. Other notable scores from the classical composer and pianist include music for Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady and Roman Polanski’s Death and the Maiden and The Ninth Gate. It was his score for Polanski’s The Pianist that earned Kilar a BAFTA nomination and the César Award for Best Music Written For A Film in 2003. Kilar’s compositions were also used in the films City of Angels, The Truman Show, Straight From The Heart, and on FX’s American Horror Story.