After three decades of futility, The Normal Heart figures to be at the center of the Primetime Emmy Awards. It received 16 nominations, including one for its director Ryan Murphy, and for the performances of Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Joe Mantello (who starred in the original play), Jim Parsons, and Alfred Molina. And one for Larry Kramer, who turned a roman a clef version of his fight against indifference to the AIDS crisis into the play on which the movie is based. Between The Normal Heart and his series American Horror Story and Glee, Murphy’s productions racked up 34 Emmy noms, more than some networks. Here, he discusses the groundbreaking movie, the long battle to get it to the screen and how Barbra Streisand helped keep The Normal Heart beating all those years.
DEADLINE: For me and anyone else in their 50s who lived in a city like New York, The Normal Heart brought back that Twilight Zone nightmare period when we watched friends die and were powerless to help, amidst rampant political apathy because most of those stricken were gay. Larry Kramer’s refusal to go quietly made him a true screen hero, though he was equally vocal that his heartbreaking play took three decades to get made. How long did this movie burn in you?
MURPHY: I was in college when the play came out and had seen productions of it through the years, and I always deeply admired it. I grew up in that era where things were very scary. I lost 10 friends to AIDS and so it was always an important piece of art in my life. I followed the project’s trajectory starting in 1987, and was always very sad that it was not made into a movie. I always felt that the current generation, so many young people, didn’t know what happened, was unaware of the nightmare we lived through back then.
DEADLINE: How did that translate to action?
MURPHY: It was pretty simple. I woke up one day in 2009 and thought, why has this movie not been made? My producing partner Dante Di Loreto knew Larry and called him. The rights were lapsing and Larry agreed to meet with me. He didn’t know who I was, or any of my previous work. I think he was taken by my passion. Read More »
Not even the arrival of fast-selling sequel Mario Kart 8 could rev up sales of the Wii U game console, as one-time video game king Nintendo continued to struggle in its first quarter. Operating losses of 9.47 billion yen ($92.2M) were twice as bad as expected in consensus analyst estimates, while sales dropped more than 8 percent to 74.7 billion yen ($72.7M) despite sales of more than 2.8 million units of Mario Kart in the quarter.
There were modest signs of hope, as Wii U sales spiked more than three times from the same quarter a year ago, hitting 510,000 units. That still leaves the Wii U far behind Sony’s next-generation game console, the PS4, which has racked up 8.7 million units sold since its debut in November 2013, a year after the Wii U. Nintendo has sold fewer than 6.7 million units in 19 months.
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Two weeks after Deadline revealed that Universal Pictures was putting its classic movie monster franchises in the hands of Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, the studio is setting Kurtzman to direct the resuscitation of The Mummy franchise. The studio tapped that duo to come up with a creative game plan and maybe take on some of these monster classics, and clearly The Mummy was the first one to go in production, so this is not a startling development.
Universal has been trying to reopen the sarcophagus on this one for a while. The original trilogy, hatched by helmer Steve Sommers and starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz, grossed north of $1.2 billion, but locking down the reboot has been all kinds of frustrating. The studio had Len Wiseman locked to do it, but then he bailed and it was Mama helmer Andy Muschietti, but those talks didn’t work out either.
Related: Fleming Rants On Why Studios Can’t Launch Franchises Anymore, Leaving Us With Retreads Like ‘The Mummy’
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Tony Award winner Laura Benanti (Gypsy, Into The Woods, Swing) has booked a multi-episode arc on the upcoming third season of ABC‘s country music drama Nashville. Benanti will play Sadie Stone, an up-and-coming country star who befriends Rayna (Connie Britton). Benanti, repped by CAA and Emily Gerson Saines at Brookside Artist Management, most recently appeared in NBC’s The Sound Of Music Live! She has starred in the NBC series Go On and The Playboy Club, as well as FX comedy series Starved. She also has recurred on Nurse Jackie, Royal Pains, The Big C, and Law & Order: SVU.
Benjamin Ciaramello is set as a recurring on ABC mystery Secrets & Lies from producer Aaron Kaplan and director Charles McDougall. Based on an Australian series, Secrets & Lies stars Ryan Phillippe as a family man who finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes the prime murder suspect. Ciaramello, repped by House of Representatives and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris & Klein, will play Paul Murphy, Jess’ husband and Tom’s father who’s currently in the military and about to be deployed for the fifth time. He’s constantly battling inner demons resulting from extended periods in warring countries.
The actress who went from reclining in King Kong’s hand to creeping us out on American Horror Story, picking up a pair of Oscars along the way, will be feted this fall by the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Organizers said today that Jessica Lange will receive the ninth annual Kirk Douglas Award for Excellence in Film during a black-tie gala on November 16 in Santa Barbara. Presenters will be revealed in the coming months. Here’s the release: Read More »
The fanboy Super Bowl is over. Who made the most of San Diego Comic-Con and who spit the bit? Here’s the view from Deadline staffers who endured endless movie and TV show presentations. We’ll start with features:
WARNER BROS: Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jupiter Ascending, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
The best Comic-Con panels show fans things they’ve never seen before. From that standpoint, Warner Bros changed the game by making the Hall H experience seem larger. It turned the dark curtains covering 450 feet down the sides of the auditorium into a wraparound multimedia visual experience that left jaded geeks looking left and right in wonder at images that complemented the onstage presentation. Expect others to rip this off. For star power: Zack Snyder introduced his Batman v Superman stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, and Gal Gadot and offered glimpses of the film. Warner Bros also wowed with explosive footage from Mad Max: Fury Road, a film that looks like it could be the answer someday to this Trivial Pursuit question: What movie transformed Tom Hardy from a great actor into a big fucking movie star? Warner Bros also brought Middle Earth excitement to Hall H with a lengthy Hobbit: The Five Armies panel and footage that had LOTR fans aflutter.
Related: Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con
MARVEL: Ant-Man, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Marvel is always the must-see panel; not so much this year. Maybe it was DC Comics’ turn to shine, and maybe being a sequel factory imposes limits on the surprise front. They trotted out the superstar Avengers lineup — been there, done that! — with additions Josh Brolin, Aaron Johnson, and Elizabeth Olsen. No Black Widow Scarlett Johansson, who was busy bitch-slapping Hercules at the box office in the Luc Besson film Lucy. Footage was OK, but Kevin Feige set a high bar for himself in past Cons, and this year he couldn’t clear it. Ant-Man brought Corey Stoll and Evangeline Lilly (already knew they were in the movie), and plans for a Guardians Of The Galaxy sequel were greeted by a collective “Duh!’ Feige could have told us what movies will fill all those release dates he recently staked out. He didn’t. Better luck next year, Marvel Man.
Related: Marvel Sets ‘Guardians 2′ For 2017; ‘Avengers 2’ Footage Draws Standing O
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Sons of Anarchy hunk Charlie Hunnam couldn’t make the show’s final panel, ahead of its final season, at Comic-Con this weekend, thanks to a Vogue magazine photo shoot. So with some help from his suddenly servile show colleagues, the SOA people put together this hugely entertaining video showing what Hunnam was really doing on Sunday instead. The video drew big laughs from the audience at the Hall H panel. Check it out here:
Related: Kurt Sutter Inks New Overall Deal With 20th Century Fox TV
Sons Of Anarchy creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter is staying in the 20th Century Fox TV fold with a new three-year overall deal. Sutter is now working on the seventh and final season of his gritty FX drama Sons Of Anarchy, produced by 20th TV’s cable division Fox 21 and FX Prods., and will next segue to his new project for FX and Fox 21, pilot The Bastard Executioner, which is co-produced by Imagine TV. The pilot, set in 14th century England, is slated to shoot in London in early 2015, with the potential series eying a fall 2015 launch. Additionally, Sutter is having conversations about an SOA prequel, he told the Comic-Con crowd yesterday. “My sense is right now that I don’t know if it will be a full-on series or a miniseries,” he said.
Under the new deal, Sutter would work on those projects and develop new ones, with FX having first look on his development. His previous pact — Sutter’s first overall agreement ever — was a joint one between 20th TV and FX Prods. and included a script commitment at FX where the writer-producer has set up multiple projects over the past couple of years, including a comedy starring his wife, SOA leading lady Katey Sagal. “Kurt is that rare producer who is a triple threat — he writes, he showruns and he directs. There is nothing he can’t do,” said Fox Television Group … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants) have signed a two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures TV. This marks the first overall TV pact for the Oscar-winning writing duo. Under the agreement, Faxon and Rash will develop and produce series projects with Kevin Walsh, their film and TV producing partner at the trio’s B Story banner. Faxon and Rash previously penned the 2005 ABC comedy pilot Adopted and made their TV directing debut this past season with Fox’s comedy pilot Fatrick, which they also executive produced. Additionally, both have series experience as actors. Rash has a relationship with Sony TV with his co-starring role on the studio’s cult comedy Community, which recently found a new home at Yahoo, while Faxon stars on FX’s freshman comedy series Married.
On the feature side, in addition to earning an Oscar for co-writing The Descendants with Alexander Payne, the duo helmed their script for The Way, Way Back, which starred Steve Carell and premiered at Sundance in 2013. Faxon and Rash were repped in the deal-making with Sony TV by CAA. The duo have since signed with WME. Faxon is managed by Principato-Young; Rash by Intellectual Artists. Both are with Stone, Meyer, Genow.
The risks of a deal are becoming more apparent as 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch prepares to sweeten the $80B offer that Time Warner rejected, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson observes in a thought-provoking report this morning. With memories of the AOL Time Warner debacle still fresh in their minds, Time Warner execs won’t accept a non-cash bid “unless it is wildly generous,” the analyst says. He hopes Fox draws the line at $100 a share, up from $85, but notes that Murdoch could go to $105 without losing his company’s investment-grade debt rating. Yet if he prevails at that price, then Fox would have little margin for error. And Nathanson warns that mega-mergers “are more complicated than the simplicity of adding two Excel spreadsheet models together.”
The bottom line is that Fox’s stock “is in purgatory”as long as Murdoch’s interest in Time Warner remains alive. And the legendary dealmaker may not be able to pull it off. “After initially believing that this deal gets done at $100 per share, we have our doubts that it will be done at all,” Nathanson says. Among his concerns:
What’s up with Chase Carey? The Fox COO is highly regarded on the Street, but his contract expires in mid-2016. Some shareholders “are nervous that this deal — and the value of [Fox's] stock — will fall short of expectations if Chase was to leave.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Carlton Cuse is officially the hardest-working drama showrunner in town with three series and two pilots on his plate. USA Network has handed a pilot green light to Colony (working title), from Lost alum Cuse and Hercules co-writer Ryan Condal, who co-created the project and will executive produce. It hails from Legendary Television, marking the first scripted pilot for the company, and Universal Cable Prods.
Written by Condal, Colony was featured on USA’s development slate in May. It is described as a naturalistic drama set in the near future in Los Angeles, which exists in a state of occupation by a force of alien intruders. Some collaborate with the authorities and benefit from the new order, while others rebel and suffer the consequences. The project centers on a family torn by opposing forces and making difficult choices as they balance staying together with surviving the struggle of the human race.
Related: 2014 USA Pilots
“Colony is a gripping story that brilliantly weaves together an intense family drama in an authentic, yet unknown, world,” said USA President Chris McCumber. USA had been looking to return to the alien genre space, which the network tackled with the 2007 sci-fi series The 4400. Its most previous batch of pilots included World War II alien drama Horizon, which didn’t go to series.
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“For me, it is very important for this show to have Latin characters and Mexican characters that defy the stereotype of gang bangers,” said Guillermo del Toro today at Comic-Con about his series The Strain.
In what was a wide-ranging panel discussion of the new show, the Mexican-born director wasted no time revealing to a packed Hall H his specific intentions for the characters of the vampire series. “I want Gus to become not only a complex character but a full-fledged hero who will kick some ass,” del Toro said of the just-out-of-juvie Augustin “Gus” Elizalde role played by Miguel Gomez. The director also noted that the sense of cultural difference was part of the casting of Mia Maestro and the Dr. Nora Martinez character she plays. “Her being a Latin woman and me being a Latin man, we are very aware of otherness and I thought she could be a good counterpoint to Eph’s (Corey Stoll’s Dr. Ephraim Goodweather) scientific method. “God willing, next season, we have a masked Mexican wrestler to also kick ass,” del Toro added to big laughs.
The vivid and highly stylized The Strain chronicles the NYC head of the Centers for Disease Control Canary Team Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, played by Stoll as he, fellow scientists and others try to figure out a mysterious viral outbreak that seems to have arrived in America via a European-originated plane of seemingly dead passengers. There … Read More »
SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses possible plot directions and future of Sons of Anarchy.
Sons Of Anarchy may be starting its final season this fall, but tales about the world shown in the FX drama are not over. “We are having serious conversations about our prequel,” said SOA creator Kurt Sutter to loud applause today at Comic-Con. “My sense is right now that I don’t know if it will be a full-on series or a mini-series.” While this is far from the first time the showrunner has talked about going back to the show’s roots, it had special significance Sunday in the massive Hall H for what is expected to be SOA’s last of many SDCC appearances.
“There’ll be no spinoffs,” added Sutter. “I think spinoffs work well on procedural dramas, which this clearly is not.” The SOA story will also continue in Bratva, the show’s first novelization. The upcoming book, whose cover art Sutter showed the audience, picks up after Season 4.
The often acerbic Sutter teared up when other show principals thanked him for creating the series and for the experience of working on it. “Sit the f*** down,” Sutter told the cast and the thousands in the hall when they gave him a standing ovation. “I got an image.”
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The hottest panel following Marvel’s one-two punch of Ant-Man and The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, American Horror Story finally made its Comic-Con debut, except way across from Hall H in Room 6DE, one of the smaller rooms at the San Diego Convention Center. AHS exeuctive producer Tim Minear described the fourth season of the series, Freak Show, as ”(director) Douglas Sirk meets the movie Zodiac.”
One by one, each of the actors revealed their new identities: Emma Roberts is Maggie, Sarah Paulson will play Siamese twins Bette and Dot, Michael Chiklis is Evan del Toreado, Angela Bassett is his wife Desiree Dupre, and Evan Peters will play del Toreado’s son Jimmy Darling. Minear said that there will be “a villain who will rival the rubber man and the minotaur from previous seasons. John Carroll Lynch will play him, and he will scare the shit out of you.”
Related: TCA: FX’s John Landgraf Talks ‘AHS: Freak Show’ and More
Missing from the panel was Jessica Lange, who is over in Spain shooting the Weinstein Company comedy Wild Oats. Also missing: any teaser or glimpse of Freak Show. Boo! Nonetheless, the fanboy crowd didn’t mind as they stormed the cast for autographs after the panel. Read More »
With Legendary’s Thomas Tull on hand, fanboy fave Guillermo del Toro didn’t waste his SRO Saturday audience in Hall H. After premiering electric and ambitious first-look footage from his gothic romance Crimson Peak, del Toro unabashedly polled the enthusiastic Comic-Con crowd asking if they’d like to see another sequel to his Hellboy films. “Hellboy 3? They’re listening! At The Mountains of Madness?” Both passion pics are in hot demand with the filmmaker’s fans, who unleashed deafening screams of support.
Related: Comic-Con: Fox Brings The Biz For Del Toro’s ‘Book Of Life’
Are Tull and Legendary also onboard? ”When you’re done with PacRim 2, we’ll talk,” Tull answered onstage minutes later.
Hellboy 3 would be a Comic-Con no-brainer, but you could make a movie about del Toro’s aggressive pursuit of converting the H.P. Lovecraft novella At The Mountains Of Madness into a feature film. The saga stalled when — with Universal getting very close to production with del Toro directing and Tom Cruise ready to star — it called a halt because del Toro would not budge on the possibility that the film might come in with an R rating. That was in spring 2011, and he moved on at the time to helm Pacific Rim.
The question is, will an R rating still be a sticking point if Tull decides to jump in after that “talk” to fund what at the time was a $150M-budgeted 3D pic with an R rating. It would be nice to see such a creative filmmaker get to make his passion project.
Related: ‘Pacific Rim’ Toon Series Revealed As Uni Dates Sequel For April 2017
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It wasn’t an A-list star or surprise announcement that scored the biggest reaction during Fox‘s mammoth Comic-Con panel — it was rapper Biz Markie, who joined producer Guillermo del Toro‘s Book Of Life gang onstage belting his 1989 anthem “Just A Friend” in a moment of random pop-culture mishmash. The song is covered in the 3D animated feature from director Jorge Gutierrez, a dazzlingly designed romantic adventure inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday and produced by Reel FX that Fox will open on October 17.
The original story follows Manolo (Diego Luna), who must fight for his lady love when spirits La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) meddle in the world of the living. A trailer introduced to the Hall H crowd gave fans their first taste of Book, filled with Latin-inspired designs, a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” sung by lovesick matador Manolo, and the voice work of Ice Cube dropping his wink-wink line, “Today was a good day.”
Related: Guillermo Del Toro Comes Aboard Animated ‘Day Of The Dead’
The Day of the Dead holiday, celebrated around the world in various forms such as All Saints Day, served as a springboard for award-winning animator Gutierrez to fold in many elements of his Mexican heritage. “The Day of the Dead is very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “Got married on the Day of the Dead because I wanted my best friend who passed away to be my best man, and I knew he would be there. The core belief of the holiday is that as long as we tell stories of those came before us, sing their songs, and cook their dishes, they’re with us.” Read More »
To deafening cheers and laughs, FX showed off the Season 6 opener of Archer, in which the ISIS team returns to a digitized version of their spy office with Lana’s baby in tow. Meanwhile, Archer — in Army fatigues — bonds with a Japanese despot amid bombs and blasts on a stranded island. Addressing the change from Archer‘s Vice drug-running theme in Season 5, creator Adam Reed said the reason was because “we ran out of cocaine!” “We treated Season 5 as a vacation,” he said. “We’re happy to be home, and we’re excited to get back to what we normally do after a fun summer of cocaine.” Season 6 will continue to explore Archer’s resistance to becoming a better person.
Also, ISIS will be working with the CIA more, so Christian Slater will return as a guest voice-over as Slater. In addition Fargo star Allison Tolman will be guest-voicing as Edie, Pam’s sister. Aisha Tyler (Lana Kane) pointed out the whole Vice theme nabbed Archer its first Emmy nomination, for Outstanding Voiceover Performance (H. Jon Benjamin as Archer). Read More »
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.
Below we spotlight a few special events on the schedule that you don’t want to miss. (For the full TV and film lineups, go here and here.) Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Former UTA and ICM talent agent Steven Fisher has joined management and production company Underground as a manager. Fisher exited UTA last month after working out of the agency’s NYC office for three years. Before that he was at ICM for seven years. Fisher’s making the move cross-country with his family to L.A., where he’ll work with Underground’s Trevor Engelson, Evan Silverberg, Chris Dennis, and Josh Turner McGuire while Noah Rothman works out of Underground’s NYC offices. “I wanted to get back to L.A. and roll up my sleeves, and most of my clients are writer-performers in L.A.,” said Fisher. He joins Underground with clients Desi Lydic (MTV’s Awkward), Jamey Sheridan (Homeland), John Phillips (Pittsburgh Heat, Dirty Grandpa), Liz Carey (Chelsea Lately, Walk Of Shame), Mike Zegen (Frances Ha, Boardwalk Empire, Girls), Miles Fisher (Bad Advice, J. Edgar, Final Destination 5), Rus Blackwell (Banshee), and Jessie Ennis (G.B.F., Shards). Read More »