There may be lots of speculation about the future of DreamWorks in its current incarnation at Disney as my colleague Mike Fleming wrote earlier this week, but you would never know it from last night’s rip-roaring premiere of its latest film, Need For Speed, at the Chinese Theatre. I went in expecting a poor man’s Fast & Furious and instead got a riveting and fun entertainment with lots of heart and emotion in addition to all the stunt driving. The film, which opens Friday and stars Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as a street racer out for revenge after being framed for a death of a young street-racing rookie, has all the requisite action you would expect from this kind of movie, but there’s so much more. The fact that it marks the second feature directed by former stuntman Scott Waugh (the son of another stuntman, Fred Waugh, who passed away while his son was in preproduction) would lead one to believe it would be all pedal-to-the-metal and no soul, but that’s not the case. Waugh’s first feature behind the camera, Act Of Valor, proved he knew how to put humanity into a genre film. What he’s made here is a good old-fashioned movie that doesn’t rely on CGI, has a genuine story to tell with three-dimensional characters (in 3D, no less), and great locations. It also presents yet another reason the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences needs to re-consider its decision not to create a 25th category for stunt work. Come on, these people deserve the recognition on a regular basis. I do understand the ticklish situation with the Actors branch, the Academy’s largest and most powerful, but this kind of work is definitely Oscar worthy. The Television Academy has a stunt peer group and recently even split comedy and drama stunt coordination into two separate Emmy categories. Veteran stuntman-director Hal Needham got an Honorary Oscar in 2012, and I suppose the Academy feels that’s enough recognition for now (Needham passed away several months after getting that Oscar). But it’s not.
Related: Hot Trailer: DreamWorks’ ‘Need For Speed’
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For the third time in her career, Ellen DeGeneres was asked to host a Hollywood awards ceremony after a tragedy — this time the tragedy being Seth MacFarlane’s Hollywood-savaging Oscars hosting of a year ago. Ellen hosted the twice-delayed Emmy Awards after the September 2001 terrorist attacks and, four years later, after Hurricane Katrina. Tonight she hosted the first Academy Awards since MacFarlane opened the Oscars with “We Saw Your Boobs” and followed it up with a crack about John Wilkes Booth (rather than nominee Daniel Day-Lewis) being the actor who best got into President Lincoln’s head.
“For those of you watching us around the world, it’s been a tough couple of days for us. It has been raining. We’re fine – thank you for your prayers,” DeGeneres joked as she opened tonight’s ABC broadcast — a nod to her deft hosting of the aforementioned Emmy broadcasts, including that twice-postponed ’01 Emmys, which she’d opened with the observation: “What would bother the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews” to gales of laughter.
Related: OSCARS: Deadline’s Live Blog
When tonight’s disjointed show finally ended, a minute or two into Monday morning for about a third of the country’s TV viewers who live on the East Coast, DeGeneres had reminded us she’s likeable as all get out, but her improvised bits did not work so well – Amy Poehler and Tina Fey did it much better at the Golden Globes. She’d called Liza Minnelli “sir”, complimented “him” on his great Liza Minnelli impersonation; shamed Harvey Weinstein into putting $200 bucks into Pharrell’s hat, which she was passing around to collect money to pay for the product-placement pizza she ordered for the A-listers in the front rows; pocketed and used best supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong’o’s pizza-collection contribution (a lip gloss); and maybe crashed Twitter shortly after piling about a dozen celebrities into one selfie during the broadcast in an attempt to break the record for most re-tweets (it was pushing 2 million by the time the trophy show was over, causing the Motion Picture Academy to apologize for contributing to the Twitter traffic jam). Read More »
They knew what they had was dynamic. They were smart, did their research and worked hard — and the result was the Son Of God big-screen version that is expected to gross anywhere from $25.7M to $26.7M in its debut weekend. People in this world achieve great success for a reason, but not all get the reason why — whether it be George Clooney, who has used his celebrity to bring well-needed attention to the horrors of Darfur, or Angelina Jolie, whose humanitarian work is also well needed and appreciated, or Mel Gibson, whose The Passion Of The Christ brought the word of God beyond borders anyone had ever seen before ($611M worldwide — that’s a lot of eyes). These are the kings of charity, who understand their responsibility in the world. Mark Burnett — the reality TV entrepreneur behind such phenoms Survivor, The Voice, Shark Tank, and The Apprentice — understands the reason why, too. He and wife Roma Downey know in their core that they are on that path now — to spread the word to as many people as possible, he said.
Related: HOLY MOLY! Late-Night Showings ‘Son Of God’ Rises With $1.2M; ‘Non-Stop’ Also Strong Thursday
On the wings of angels (and butterflies) and in many languages — the marketing behind this film is very interesting: The team wisely dubbed a Spanish version for this weekend’s movie debut, and it was put in 200 theaters; they also did a subtitled Korean-language version and placed it in 15 select theaters. “Because we are a small organization, we don’t have to ask permission — we just do it,” Burnett said. The theaters playing Spanish-language Son Of God grew in a just few days as they were booking theaters and 4% of the gross came from those theaters; 22% of the audience was Hispanic. In addition, the film had a phenomenal 91% rating on PostTrak and was heavily weighted to excellent with an impressive 72%. In addition, it has an incredible 80% recommend and played 62% female to 38% male with 82% of moviegoers over age 25.
Related: Hot Trailer: Fox’s ‘Son Of God’
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Alec Baldwin continues to leave public life, in a New York Magazine cover story called “Good-Bye Public Life” and now, in a role on one of the country’s most watched TV series. NBC made it official today that Baldwin will guest star as a controversial New York newspaper columnist, in an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU. Word of this guest gig got out earlier this month. But it wasn’t well known that Katie Couric will play herself — a TV show show host, that is — who grills Baldwin, as controversial New York newspaper columnist Jimmy MacArthur about the headline grabbing hate crime/rape case.
NBC wisely waited until Baldwin’s New York Magazine cover story came out and he was once again on the minds of the media to confirm he will play MacArthur, who questions the SVU squad’s motives during the investigation. Icing on the cake: show star Mariska Hargitay is directing — her debut.
“In our story, ‘Jimmy Mac’s’ reporting interferes with the investigation, which has a ripple effect when the case goes to trial,” EP Warren Leight explained in the announcement, adding that the chemistry between Baldwin and Hargitay “is palpable.”
The episode will air Wednesday, March 19.
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‘X Factor’ Musical ‘I Can’t Sing’ Delays Previews By Two Days
Previews of Simon Cowell‘s The X Factor musical, I Can’t Sing, have been postponed by two days at the London Palladium. Stage Entertainment and Syco Entertainment are producing the show and say they’ve decided to start previews on March 1 as opposed to February 27 due to “technical issues caused by the ambitious staging of the new musical comedy.” Rebecca Quigley, producer for Stage Entertainment, said, “As audiences will soon see, the production is hugely ambitious, and the volume of installation and scale of the set means that technical work has taken slightly longer than could have been anticipated to make the show audience-ready.” Nigel Harman (EastEnders, Downton Abbey) is playing a character based on Cowell in the musical that’s directed by Olivier Award-winner and Tony nominee Sean Foley. British comedian Harry Hill wrote the show.
Quentin Tarantino To Present Scarlett Johansson’s Honorary Cesar
Quentin Tarantino has been enlisted by France’s Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma to present Scarlett Johansson with this year’s honorary César Award. The director will hand the award to Johansson this Friday at the 39th César Awards ceremony in Paris. Tarantino himself received the prize in 2011. Read More »
As expected, the Television Academy’s Board of Governors voted tonight to split the merged best TV movie and miniseries category into two, reverting to the long tradition of separate top longform Primetime Emmy categories, which was ended by the TV Academy vote in 2011 to merge the two fields because of the dwindling number of miniseries entries. Ironically, as the decision was made, miniseries already had started their resurgence, which was cemented by the blockbuster success of the 2012 History mini Hatfields & McCoys. Several months ago, a movement started within the TV Academy in support of splitting the top longform categories again. It gained momentum, leading to a recommendation that passed through the February 4 Awards Committee meeting and was sent to the board, which approved the move tonight. Also recognizing the proliferation of longform programming, the combined miniseries/TV movie categories for writing, directing and performing categories will all be expanded from five to six nominees, with the final voting switched from a preferential vote to a ratings-score vote.
Related: TV Movie & Miniseries Emmy Poised To Get Their Own Top Categories Again
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Anchor Bay Films and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have set a joint distribution deal for actioner In The Blood, starring Gina Carano (Haywire). The ex-MMAer stars as Ava, a trained fighter with a particular set of skills whose new husband (Cam Gigandet) vanishes during their Caribbean honeymoon, prompting her to set out to take down her abductors one by one. John Stockwell (Blue Crush, Into the Blue) directs the pic written by Bennett Yellin and James Robert Johnston and produced by Raymond Mansfield and Shaun Redick of Movie Package Co. alongside Cash Warren. Lee Portnoi, David R. Arnold, Nicola Horlick, Andrew Mann, Glenn M. Stewart, Stefan Sonnenfeld, Luillo Ruiz, James Gobb, and Belly Torres exec produced. Luis Guzman, Amaury Nolasco, Ismael Cruz Cordoba, Treat Williams, Stephen Lang, and Danny Trejo co-star. Pic will debut day and date in theaters, On Demand, and on iTunes April 4.
Freestyle Releasing has acquired The Hornet’s Nest, featuring Emmy-winning ABC News correspondents Mike and Carlos Boettcher, the father-son journalist team that nabbed Emmys for their coverage while embedded in Afghanistan. The battle documentary, directed by David Salzberg and Christian Turead, tells the Boettchers’ story from the frontlines alongside U.S. soldiers and Marines during Operation Strong Eagle III. Freestyle has set a platform limited release for May 9 before the pic goes wide May 23. The Hornet’s Nest isproduced by Salzberg … Read More »
Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet has left ICM Partners. Stonestreet signed with ICM in October 2009, shortly after the launch of Modern Family. Stonestreet’s breakout role on the hit ABC comedy as Cameron Tucker has earned him two Emmy awards. Stonestreet was with ICM during the recent Modern Family cast salary negotiations and recently closed a deal for a voiceover part in the Illumination/Universal animated feature with Kevin Hart and Louis C.K.. Over the last couple of years, Stonestreet also had parts in feature comedies Identity Thief and Bad Teacher and will next be seen in thriller The Loft. He continues to be repped by Thruline Management and Felker Toczek.
EXCLUSIVE: Following the success of The Bible miniseries on History, A+E Networks sibling Lifetime too has put in development a longform project about Jesus. Titled The One, the movie hails from Leslie Greif, the producer of History’s blockbuster Hatfields & McCoys miniseries, and his Thinkfactory Media. Written by 2013 Nicholl Fellowship Winners Frank DeJohn and David Alton Hedges, The One is described as a coming-of-age story exploring Jesus’ early life and formative years as he comes to learn he is the Son of God and is destined for greatness. The project is poised to shed light on a lesser known period in Jesus’ life as there is very little written about him from the age of 13, following a pilgrimage to Jerusalem he took with his parents, to age 30, when he began his ministry and was baptized by John the Baptist. The One is expected to stay true to the spirit of Jesus’ image as chronicled in The Bible. Another project about Jesus’ so called “lost years,” which was briefly in development at History, took a more unconventional approach, exploring a theory about Jesus’ origins as an exorcist. DeJohn and Hedges are with UTA and BenderSpink.
One place where Simon Cowell won’t be landing this season following the cancellation of the U.S. version of his The X Factor: American Idol. “No, he’s not going to be on the show at all,” Idol executive producer Per Blankens said today during a press event on the show’s new LA set. “I’ve heard he’s going to the UK to do X Factor,” he added. (He is.) The possibility of Cowell’s return after Fox last week axed X Factor was as one of several topics addressed in a sit-down with new Idol EPs Blankens, Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager. The trio was joined by Idol’s new director Louis J. Horvitz, set designer Baz Halpin, and returning EP and FremantleMedia president of entertainment programming Trish Kinane. Also there was Fox’s David Hill, the Senior EVP of 21st Century Fox and former chairman and CEO of Fox Sports who was put in charge of the show and the now cancelled X-Factor in early June.
Related: ‘Idol’ “Listened To Viewers” & Changed Format, Says EP
Season 13 of Idol launched to a premiere low January 15 as the show has been trying to get its once mighty mojo back with a reconfigured judging panel and new showrunners. The show moves into its live shows next week, going head-to-head with NBC’s Sochi Olympics. That isn’t a big worry, Blankens told me. “The ratings are doing OK considering and there is really nothing you can do about the Olympics — we knew when we did the schedule that we’d be facing it. Added Kinane: “The ratings have stabilized and we’re very happy with where they are against the Olympics. We’re up over where we were in 2010,” she said.
“What we hope with the live shows next week and going forward is that we can reconnect with the fans and get them to come back home,” Blankens said. “A lot of people love Idol but I think they didn’t approve of the way some things went last year.” Among the format tweaks: for the live shows beginning Wednesday viewers will be able to vote at the beginning of the show as opposed to the end as in past seasons.
Related: ‘Idol’ Partners With Google & Facebook For Online Voting
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30 Rock alumna Jane Krakowski has been tapped as the lead of Fox‘s half-hour pilot Dead Boss, from Warner Bros TV and Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment. An adaptation of the BBC3 series created by Sharon Horgan and Holly Walsh, Dead Boss is a comedic mystery that finds overachiever Helen Stephens (Krakowski) wrongfully convicted of murdering her boss and forced to rely on her train wreck of a sister to prove her innocence. The role was played by Horgan in the original series. Krakowski, who recently signed with Brillstein Entertainment, had been fielding multiple offers this pilot season following her seven-year run on 30 Rock, which earned her four Emmy nominations. I hear production of the Dead Boss pilot and potential series is being moved to New York where Krakowski is based. The pilot was written by Patricia Breen who is executive producing with Horgan and Kaplan. UTA-repped Krakowski recently did a guest stint on Modern Family.
Three-time Tony host Hugh Jackman will be back on emcee duty for the 68th Tony Awards on June 8 on CBS after a five-year break. Jackman served as host from 2003-2005, earning an Emmy Award for his 2004 stint at the 58th annual ceremony and another Emmy nomination for his 2005 appearance. Jackman and Neil Patrick Harris, who presided over the show in four of the past five years, have been the most popular Tony hosts. Both have branched out, with Jackman making a well-received turn as Oscar host and Harris getting strong reviews for his two stints as host of the Primetime Emmys. “Hugh is the ultimate performer — actor, singer and dancer — he does it all, second to none,” said CBS’ Jack Sussman. Added Charlotte St. Martin of The Broadway League and Heather Hitchens of the American Theatre Wing: “Hugh is an extraordinary talent and loyal supporter of the Broadway community – whether he is onstage or in the audience.” Jackman and Harris will now have both hosted the Broadway awards show four times — so they’re probably due for another sing-off (see the video of their 2011 co-appearance below):
Related: Tony Awards 2013 Ratings Up From Last Year
No question the nominees lunch, which took place today at the Beverly Hilton, is the feel good event of a very long Oscar season — at least as far as the nominees who have made it this far are concerned. If the Governors Awards in November is a great networking opportunity for contenders, this luncheon has become a “must attend” for nominees, who get their certificates, a goodie bag and the chance to meet their fellow nominees in a collegial atmosphere where everyone’s a winner. At least until March 2. Oscar producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron made a point of telling them a billion people will be watching in more than 225 countries and that the time begins the moment they hit the microphone and they will have only 45 seconds. “But don’t be nervous,” smiled Zadan. “Just prepare”.
86th Academy Awards Nominees Photo
OSCARS: 86th Academy Award Nominations
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UPDATE, 1:13 PM: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti today made official what I exclusively revealed Saturday to Deadline readers: Hollywood heavyweight attorney Ken Ziffren will be the head of the City of LA’s Entertainment Industry and Production office. The card-carrying SAG-AFTRA member Garcetti said that Ziffren will be “a powerful leader in our fight against other states that are taking our jobs, and he will be aggressive about streamlining government so red tape doesn’t contribute to driving production away.” Ziffren takes over from former AMPAS president and studio exec Tom Sherak. who died January 28. See today’s full release below the original story.
Related: R.I.P. Tom Sherak
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, SATURDAY PM: Los Angeles is about to get its second Film Czar. Mayor Eric Garcetti has decided on Ken Ziffren for the job he created last fall and the powerhouse entertainment attorney has accepted the gig, I’ve learned. Ziffren will step into the position vacated by the death of the city’s first Film Czar Tom Sherak. The former AMPAS president and studio exec passed away from cancer on January 28. A formal announcement of Ziffren’s appointment to head the Entertainment Industry and Production office is expected to come from the Mayor’s office early next week, sources tell me.
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Her, Gravity and The Great Gatsby were the big winners on the film side at tonight’s ADG Awards at the Beverly Hilton. “I didn’t know if we were making a fantasy or a period film in the future,” Her production designer K.K. Barrett in accepting the award. “Spike Jonze told me, ‘Who are we to question what anybody else feels is real.’” Looking around the room, I believe in all your realities.”
Related: WGA Awards: ‘Captain Phillips’ & ‘Her’ Win Top Film Awards
Said production designer Andy Nicholson from the podium: “Gravity was an incredibly long and tough journey for my crew. None of this would’ve been possible without the artistic vision of Alfonso Cuaron.”
Martin Scorsese scored points in the room as he accepted the guild’s prestigious Cinematic Imagery Award, presented by his Wolf Of Wall Street stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill. “How does one even separate cinema from PD? You can’t,” he said. “We have images in our mind, pictures in our head, but yours are the ones I look to to get those images on the screen. You’ve never let me down. This [award] is for you.”
HBO cleaned up on the TV side, with Game Of Thrones, Behind The Candelabra and Veep all picking up trophies during the 18th annual Art Directors Guild Excellence in Production Design Awards. The show was hosted by Owen Benjamin, a comic and regular on the TBS comedy Sullivan & Son.
Here is the complete list of winners. Read on for the recap of our live blog.
Related: ‘Phillips’ IS The Captain Now As It Defies ‘Gravity’ At The ACE Eddie Awards To Win Second Guild Honor In A Row
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Rita Moreno, fresh off winning a lifetime achievement award at the SAG Awards, has been tapped to co-star opposite Natasha Lyonne in NBC‘s single-camera comedy pilot Old Soul. Co-created/exec produced by Amy Poehler, Josh Bycel and Jonathan Fener and directed by David Wain, Old Soul centers on a reformed wild child Nadia (Lyonne) who has a business caring for the elderly and feels she has more in common with her colorful old clients than she does with people her age. Moreno will play one of the clients, a character that appears tailored for her down to the name, Rita. A sexy old gal and a ball of joy, Old Soul‘s Rita (Moreno) is a flamboyant, larger-than-life Broadway vet who has been happily married to her writing partner/husband for over 50 years. Moreno, repped by Innovative Artists, was the first and one of the very few performers to win an Oscar, an Emmy, a Tony, and a Grammy. She has earned two Emmys for her guest appearances on The Rockford Files and the Muppet Show and most recently co-starred on the TV Land comedy series Happily Divorced.
Related: David Wain To Direct Amy Poehler’s NBC Pilot ‘Old Soul’
EXCLUSIVE: In their major sale under their overall deal at Warner Bros TV, former Mad Men executive producers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton have teamed with Gravity producer David Heyman for a drama series based on the DC comic book DMZ, which has landed at Syfy. Written by the Jacquemettons, DMZ is set in the near future and centers on a young man trapped in Manhattan, which has been turned into a demilitarized zone (DMZ) after a second American civil war. The comic book series, created by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, was launched by DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint in 2005 and ran until 2012 for a total of 72 issues. The TV adaptation, now in development at Syfy, hails from WBTV’s cable division, Warner Horizon, as well as the Jacquemettons’ Slim Chance Prods. banner and Heyman’s Heyday Films. The Jacquemettons and Heyman executive produce alongside Heyday Films’ Jeffrey Clifford.
The husband-and-wife Jacquemettons were among the key writer-producers on Mad Men for its first six seasons, until they left last May. The two were among Mad Men creator Weiner’s first hires, joining the AMC series right after the pilot. They rose through the ranks to executive producers, shared in three of the series’ four best series Emmys and earned three writing Emmy nominations. The Jacquemettons are … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A meaty villainous role on Fox‘s event series 24: Live Another Day unexpectedly became vacant after Judy Davis had to pull out. Davis was slated to leave her native Australia for London, where Live Another Day had been filming since January 26, but I’ve learned that personal family matters are preventing her from traveling at this time. As a result, the two-time Emmy winner had to pull out a couple of weeks before the recurring role was scheduled to begin filming. The producers are expected to find a replacement quickly with no impact on production. The character, Margot, is a British national and the widow of a notorious terrorist. 24: Live Another Day, which will premiere on May 5, is a big priority for Fox, which showcased the project in a series of promos during the Super Bowl on Sunday.
Stephen Fry To Play British Prime Minister On ‘24: Live Another Day’
Benjamin Bratt Joins ‘24: Live Another Day’
EMMYS: TV Movie & Miniseries Poised To Get Their Own Top Categories Again
The Parenthood star has signed with ICM Partners. Monica Potter snagged a Golden Globe nom for her role as a soccer mom battling an illness on the NBC drama. She also was a regular on TNT’s 2009 drama Trust Me and recurred on Boston Legal. Her big-screen credits include The Last House On The Left, Saw, Along Came A Spider and Patch Adams. Potter also is represented by The Schiff Company and Felker Toczek. ICM last week signed Spike Lee; David Zellner and Nathan Zellner, the filmmakers behind Sundance Jury Prize winner Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter; and actor Pierre Boulanger of Sundance pic God Help The Girl.
EMMYS Q&A: Monica Potter
Sundance: ICM Signs ‘Kumiko’ Duo & ‘God Help The Girl’ Actor