Good Universe has set Captain Phillips scribe Billy Ray to direct his script Departure. Jim Whitaker will produce the sci-fi/romance film and Good Universe’s Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane will executive produce. Good Universe has the project on the fast-track and will begin casting right away. Based on the true story of a never-explained avionic phenomenon, Departure follows a brilliant Miami-based FAA investigator who is obsessed with learning how a 727 suddenly vanished into thin air and then reappeared in the exact same spot ten minutes later. As mysterious occurrences continue to occur with increasing frequency in the skies over Miami, the investigation becomes personal when the employee’s beloved wife is on one of the planes affected. The story is inspired by the book Ghosts Of The Air by Martin Caidin, which documents real accounts from pilots who have experienced flight anomalies. Billy Ray is represented by CAA, Management 360 and attorney Peter Nichols.
EXCLUSIVE: Following in the footsteps of Beasts Of The Southern Wild or Fruitvale Station, the 13 projects selected today for this June’s Sundance Institute Directors and Screenwriters Labs could end up as Oscar nominees or at Cannes too. The projects’ origins range from the U.S. and the U.K. to Mexico, Peru, Germany and Somalia with the filmmakers’ backgrounds in photography, advertising and documentary not to mention a couple of past BAFTA and Sundance winners. This round of Sundance fellows will work with established filmmakers such as Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, On The Road director Walter Salles, author/screenwriter Walter Mosley, Oscar nominee Ed Harris and Sundance founder Robert Redford. The Directors Lab runs from May 27 to June 20 at the Sundance Resort in Utah while the Screenwriters Lab goes from June 22 to June 27. (see the full list of the June 2013 Sundance Institute’s Directors and Screenwriters Labs below)
The annual marketing kudos went big for Disney pics Iron Man 3, Wreck-It-Ralph, Monsters University, Brave, and The Avengers at the Golden Trailer Awards Friday night. The GTAs didn’t just fete the best movie promos of the year. They also doled out Trashiest Trailer (to A24′s Spring Breakers) and gave indie comedy Hit & Run the Golden Fleece award, awarded to a trailer better than its actual movie. Here’s the full list of winners:
Here is the full transcript of director Steven Soderbergh‘s keynote at the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival delivered Saturday. At first he requested the festival ensure no still photographs, audio, or video of his talk at the Kabuki Theater. But instead it was tweeted, blogged, recorded, and put online. Soderbergh promised in advance to “drop some grenades” and he opined about studio executives, indie filmmaking, and cinema vs movies. He did not detail his own retirement:
A few months ago I was on this Jet Blue flight from New York to Burbank. And I like Jet Blue, not just because of the prices. They have this terminal at JFK that I think is really nice. I think it might be the nicest terminal in the country although if you want to see some good airports you’ve got to go to a major city in another part of the world like Europe or Asia. They’re amazing airports. They’re incredible and quiet. You’re not being assaulted by all this music. I don’t know when it was decided we all need a soundtrack everywhere we go. I was just in the bathroom upstairs and there was a soundtrack accompanying me at the urinal, I don’t understand. So I’m getting comfortable in my seat. I spent the extra $60 to get the extra leg room so I’m trying to get comfortable and we make altitude. And there’s a guy on the other side of the aisle in front of me and he pulls out his iPad to start watching stuff. I’m curious to see what he’s going to watch – he’s a white guy in his mid-30s. And I begin to realize what he’s done is he’s loaded in half a dozen action sort of extravaganzas and he’s watching each of the action sequences – he’s skipping over all the dialogue and the narrative. This guy’s flight is going to be five and a half hours of just mayhem porn.
I get this wave of – not panic, it’s not like my heart started fluttering – but I had this sense of, am I going insane? Or is the world going insane – or both? Now I start with the circular thinking again. Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s generational and I’m getting old, I’m in the back nine professionally. And maybe my 22-year-old daughter doesn’t feel this way at all. I should ask her. But then I think, no: Something is going on – something that can be measured is happening, and there has to be. When people are more outraged by the ambiguous ending of The Sopranos than some young girl being stoned to death, then there’s something wrong. We have people walking around who think the government stages these terrorist attacks. And anybody with a brain bigger than a walnut knows that our government is not nearly competent enough to stage a terrorist attack and then keep it a secret because, as we know, in this day and age you cannot keep a secret.
So I think that life is sort of like a drumbeat. It has a rhythm and sometimes it’s fast and sometimes it’s slower, and maybe what’s happening is this drumbeat is just accelerating and it’s gotten to the point where I can’t hear between the beats anymore and it’s just a hum. Again, I thought maybe that’s my generation, every generation feels that way, maybe I should ask my daughter. But then I remember somebody did this experiment where if you’re in a car and you’re going more than 20 miles an hour it becomes impossible to distinguish individual features on a human being’s face. I thought that’s another good analogy for this sensation. It’s a very weird experiment for someone to come up with.
EXCLUSIVE: Hot off the global hit Oblivion, Olga Kurylenko has found a new role to sink her teeth into. She’s being set to star as Kirova, the head mistress of Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, the screen adaptation of the six-volume Richelle Mead young adult novel series that Mark Waters is directing from a script by Daniel Waters. Production begins in late May, and The Weinstein Company is distributing. The film will star Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures), and Australian newcomer Lucy Fry, who’ll play lead characters Rose and Lissa alongside Russian star Danila Kozlovski (We Are From The Future,) who will play the role of Dimitri. Michael Preger and his Preger Entertainment banner is producing with Angry Films’ Don Murphy and Susan Montford, and Kintop Pictures’ Deepak Nayer. IM Global’s Stuart Ford is executive producer.
All six books have been bestsellers on The New York Times young adult list since the series debuted in 2007. Two of the books have been turned into graphic novels. The books tell the tale of Rose Hathaway, a 17-year-old girl who has a mental and spiritual bond with her vampire best friend Lissa. The two girls attend a special school for Vampires who struggle to retain some humanity while other Vampires become more feral. She’s repped by CAA and Tavistock Wood.
The NBC Universal property boasted of its 100M cable subscribers and doubled growth in unique visitors to its weather.com site at today’s NewFront in NY. There it announced three new web series which will debut on Weather‘s website, cable TV channel, mobile platform and for tablet in six 2-4 minute episodes launching on the same date:
UPDATE 7:50 PM: I’ve just been given this exclusive statement from Paul Bloch at Rogers & Cowan: “After a 30-year association with Creative Artists Agency, Robert Zemeckis has decided to take a hiatus with the firm and step back for the time being. Mr. Zemeckis is very appreciative of the work they have accomplished together. He has no immediate plans for representation by a different agency.”
EXCLUSIVE 6:45 PM: My sources tell me the Academy Award-winning director of Forrest Gump exited the agency on Thursday. Robert Zemeckis has been a long-time CAA client dating back to Mike Ovitz when he and Jack Rapke, now Zemeckis’ producing partner, were the director’s agents. In more recent years Zemeckis was repped by Richard Lovett at the head of a team of agents. Zemeckis’ legendary career had cooled in recent years especially because of the uneven reception of his repeated use of motion capture technology. But he was considered back on top with the success of 2012′s Paramount actioner Flight which earned two Academy Award nominations including Best Actor (for Denzel Washington). And Zemeckis accomplished that and its $161M worldwide gross with only a $30 million budget. (Rapke brought Zemeckis the script and told the director that Washington was interested.) Since August 2011, Zemeckis has a two-year first-look producing deal with Universal Studios where he made his worldwide mega-hit Back To The Future threequel. I can tell you that, unlike many such situations involving major Hollywood talent contemplating an agency exit, there was no hint about this in the tenpercentery world where intel is currency. Needless to say, it’s always tough when an agency loses this caliber of prestigious and respected and visionary client (the USC School of Cinematic Arts houses the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts), and CAA doesn’t lose many – that’s for sure. So expect a feeding frenzy in the future to represent Zemeckis. In fact the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this month
TruTV said today as it meets with advertisers that it is shifting half its lineup to comedic reality series by year’s end, and has greenlighted three new original series and ordered seven pilots to go with current hits Impractical Jokers and Killer Karaoke. The network says the move targets “funseekers” — a demo evenly split between males and females with a median age of 35 “who look for comedic reality shows that are exciting to watch and prefer humor that is suspenseful, edgy and irreverent. They also look for mood-elevating shows that provide an escape and feature compelling twists and turns”. TruTV also officially renewed four series: Impractical Jokers, Guinness World Records Gone Wild, Upload With Shaquille O’Neal and the previously announced Hardcore Pawn: Chicago. Here are the network’s descriptions of the new offerings:
EXCLUSIVE: Flight actress Kelly Reilly will play the mother of a boy who emerges from an operation claiming to have been to heaven in the Sony pic. Joe Roth and T.D. Jakes are producing the faith-based drama. Plucked from the New York Times bestseller list, pic is based on Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent’s Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip To Heaven And Back, which told Nebraska pastor Burpo’s account of his 4-year-old son’s return from near-death with stories of visiting heaven. Nobody believed the boy until he shared information learned during his experience that he couldn’t have known. Greg Kinnear is set to play Reilly’s husband and the boy’s father. Randall Wallace (Braveheart) is directing. Reilly is repped by ICM Partners and Troika.
After the drama that played out in the BBC‘s news division late last year amid the Jimmy Savile and Newsnight crises, the broadcaster has come under further fire regarding one of its news shows. The London School of Economics believes some of its students were endangered during a recent trip to North Korea on which a team of undercover BBC journalists filmed a documentary for the Panorama program. The LSE and its students union have demanded that the BBC withdraw the show which is due to air tonight, but the broadcaster is still going forward. LSE director Craig Calhoun wrote on Twitter today: “Producers of Panorama seem not to have learned any lessons from recent BBC scandals. Consciously chose to endanger LSE students. For what?” In a statement, the BBC said “public interest” in airing the report “is very strong indeed.” It added that such a program “involves some difficult judgements, editorially, practically and ethically and that is why it has been handled at a senior level.”
The Weinstein Co.’s Silver Linings Playbook and leading duo Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper came up big at the 2013 MTV Movie Awards, nabbing Best Female Performance, Best Male Performance, and Best Kiss at the annual fan-driven ceremony. Marvel’s The Avengers took home three awards including Movie Of The Year, while host Rebel Wilson and her breakout summer pic Pitch Perfect also garnered kudos. Meanwhile, Taylor Lautner of Summit’s The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2 snagged a win out of the film’s lone nomination: Best Shirtless Performance. Here’s the full list of winners, highlighted in bold:
EXCLUSIVE: Fox 2000 has acquired Highrise, a spec script by Peter Dowling (Flight Plan) that is described as a lush 21st century thriller inspired by the 1960s classic, The Collector. Jon Shestack is producing, and Fox 2000 exec veep Jessica Goodman will oversee for the studio. A director is not yet attached. Filming just wrapped on Dowling’s script Reasonable Doubt, starring Dominic Cooper and Samuel L. Jackson and produced by Paradox Entertainment and Lionsgate. He will also soon be heading to Ireland to direct his adaptation of S.J. Bolton’s thriller Sacrifice, with Howard Kaplan and John Baldecchi producing. Dowling is repped by APA, Industry Entertainment, and Eric Feig at Abrams, Garfinkel, Margolis, Bergson, LLP.
EXCLUSIVE: At its upfront presentation this evening, Syfy will unveil a high-profile new scripted series from Jamie Foxx and his Foxxhole Prods. The Oscar winner will executive produce, write and direct the five-episode horror anthology series, which will debut during Syfy’s annual 31 Days Of Halloween programming marathon this October. Foxx might also appear on the yet-untitled series, which is produced by Universal Cable Prods.
In the vein of horror classics like Tales From The Crypt and The Twilight Zone, the contemporary series tells creepy morality tales with themes such as envy, jealousy and superficiality. “This is a project that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m so happy to see it come to life,” Foxx said. “Get ready to lose it when some special friends and I bring the scares this October, and who knows… maybe I’ll make a guest appearance or two along the way!” Added Syfy/UCP’s Mark Stern, “Jamie Foxx’s passion and unique perspective will transform these universal insights on the human condition into emotionally potent and truly scary cautionary tales.”
The North American premiere of Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited! has been named the opening-night film of the 19th annual Los Angeles Film Festival on June 13. It comes ahead of the Spanish-language comedy’s U.S. platform release June 28 via Sony Pictures Classics. The pic bowed March 8 in Spain and is currently opening throughout Europe. Penelope Cruz and Antonio Banderas are among the ensemble cast of the comedy, set on an airplane flight where nothing goes right. The fest, produced by Film Independent, teamed with SPC last year to premiere Searching For Sugar Man, which ended up winning the Feature Documentary Oscar. LAFF runs through June 23 and will feature more than 200 feature films, shorts, and music videos, representing more than 30 countries.
Rob Schneider and Aisha Tyler will host the 14th annual Golden Trailer Awards on May 3 at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. More than 1200 submissions were received this year, an 11% year-over-year increase, in a total of 70 categories, with honors in 16 main Show Categories set to be presented during the ceremony along with an additional trophy for Best in Show. Here are the main categories (see the rest of the nominees here):
THE 14TH ANNUAL GOLDEN TRAILER AWARDS
SHOW CATEGORY NOMINEES
SUMMER 2013 BLOCKBUSTER TRAILER
“Iron Man 3” – Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Trailer Park
“Fast & Furious 6” – Universal, AV Squad
“Man of Steel” – Warner Bros., Jennifer Horvath
“Pacific Rim” – Warner Bros., Trailer Park
“World War Z “Day”“ – Paramount Pictures, Buddha Jones
Baggage Claim will be flying on to the big screen on September 27, 2013, Fox Searchlight announced today. Starring Paula Patton, the romantic comedy is directed by David Talbert, who adapted it from his bestselling 2003 novel of the same name. Talbert and Steven J. Wolfe are the producers of Baggage Claim. Derek Luke, Taye Diggs, Jill Scott, Boris Kodjoe, Adam Brody and Djimon Hounsou also are in the film with Patton. In Baggage Claim, the Mission Impossible actress plays flight attendant Montana Moore, who at 35 is the oldest unmarried woman in her family. With her sister about to walk down the aisle, Montana uses her airline connections to get the perfect husband in 30 days or 30,000 miles. This is Talbert’s second stint as a feature director. He wrote and directed 2008′s First Sunday for Screen Gems, which was based on one of his plays.
TNT has greenlit Nashville Confidential, a new docudrama that will go behind the scenes in the “Country Music Capital of the World.” The unscripted series is being produced by Evolution Media (The Real Housewives of Orange County, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), with Evolution’s Douglas Ross, Greg Stewart and Alex Baskin serving as executive producers. TNT has ordered eight episodes of Nashville Confidential, which is slated to launch in early 2014.
Nashville Confidential is set in and around the high-stakes country music business based in Nashville, Tenn. Centering on some of Nashville’s most compelling power couples, the show provides an alluring and unprecedented glimpse behind the scenes of one of America’s most unique, vibrant and competitive cities.
Few screenwriters go public with details of the sorry state of the Writers Guild’s very arbitrary arbitrations over credits. But veteran scribe Doug Richardson does. He recently was one of the independent judges on a credits arbitration and blogs that “the awful process” made him recall his most memorable tale of woe. Even though he won. Here he explains why so many writers fight hard for credit besides recognition:
Money. The most obvious of motives are the hefty residuals that can be banked after a hit movie and also the potential for later employment by studios who generally prefer to hire writers with successful track records.
But there’s this other, less discussed, carrot-on-a-stick. It’s this little clause found in most screenwriter’s motion picture contracts called the “credit bonus.” Simply put, if the writer gets credit, the writer shall receive a big-assed bonus. Such is usually a last-minute negotiating giveaway to the writer in lieu of taking less dough up front. And it’s looked upon as funny money by industry lawyers because, by the time the movie gets made–if ever–who the hell knows how many writers might’ve worked on it, let alone how many deserved or could receive credit? Smooth, huh? Especially if it acts as catnip for snubbed writers who see the process of WGA credit arbitration as a potential lottery win.
Flight Of The Conchords‘ Rhys Darby will co-star opposite Kelly Preston in ABC‘s comedy pilot Keep Calm And Karey On, from writer Andrea Abbate, 21 Laps/Adelstein and 20th Century Fox TV. It centers on Karey (Preston), the clean-nosed black sheep in a family of petty thieves, drug addicts, and narcissists. When her brother is sent to prison, she decides to raise his kids along with her adopted black son and give them the normal lives they deserve. Actor-comedian Darby, repped by CAA and Principato-Young, will play Karey’s husband. He is best known for playing Murray in HBO’s Conchords and most recently wrote, executive produced and starred in Short Poppies for TVNZ in his native New Zealand.
Rhys Wakefield has booked a series regular role on Bravo pilot Rita. He will play Rita’s (Anna Gunn) oldest son who has a close but complex relationship with his mother. Wakefield is repped by CAA and Anonymous Content.