NBC has bought Pariah, a drama project from Lionsgate Television and Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Prods. Written by Kevin Fox (The Negotiator, Law & Order: SVU), the police procedural features characters inspired by the economic theory ‘Freakonomics’ made popular by authors/economists Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner. In Pariah, the Mayor of San Diego appoints a rogue academic with no law enforcement background to run a task force using Freakonomics-inspired alternative methods of policing. This causes an uproar within the police department as the morally conflicted, conspiracy-minded academic solves crimes by conducting his controversial experiments on citizens of the city. Grammer and Grammnet’s Stella Stolper and Brian Sher will executive produce, with Levitt and Dubner attached as producers. The project extends Grammnet’s relationship with Lionsgate — the two companies also co-produce the Grammer-starring Starz drama Boss. Grammnet, whose head of development Brian Taylor has spearheaded Pariah, and Levitt & Dubner are repped by WME. Fox is with Gersh.
Magnolia Pictures acquired North American rights to Freakonomics, the documentary based on the book by Steve Levitt and Stephen Dubner. The film, which had segments filmed by directors including Alex Gibney and Seth Gordon, is the closing night film of the Tribeca Film Festival. A fall release is planned.
The 2010 Tribeca Film Festival will close with an April 30 gala premiere of Freakonomics, the documentary adaptation of the ridiculously bestselling book by economist Steven Levitt and his co-author, Stephen J. Dubner. Big documakers filmed chapters of the book, including Alex Gibney, Morgan Spurlock, Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, Eugene Jarecki and Seth Gordon.
The Festival also added gala premieres of the Gary Winick-directed romancer Letters to Juliet, which stars Amanda Seyfried and Vanessa Redgrave, and another for My Own Love Song, the new film by La Vie En Rose director Olivier Dahan that stars Renee Zellweger and Forest Whitaker. That adds splash to already announced galas that start with Shrek Forever After and include sports gala opening of Ice Cube’s Outta L.A., the premiere of the restored version of David Lean’s 1965 film classic Doctor Zhivago. And then there is the hot button premiere of the Alex Gibney-directed documentary on New York State governor Eliot Spitzer’s downfall in a hooker scandal. How difficult must it be for Tribeca to compete with Cannes for sexy Hollywood titles to liven up the fest? Cannes so far booked Robin Hood to open the fest, and is also expected to show Oliver Stone’s Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, with Fox actually using the excuse of a potential Cannes ticket to explain why the film abandoned its April release date for a fall berth. Wall Street 2′s New York-centric subject matter would have made …
The one-hour weekly series will provide an intimate look into diverse sectors of American life and offer a deep-dive into pressing issues facing the U.S. that include migrant farm workers, the elder care industry, union workers, gun owners, education, bankruptcy and the drought. The premiere episode of Inside Man features Spurlock as a worker in a medial marijuana dispensary in California.
Ethan Goldman has joined Warrior Poets as EVP Development. “As our production company continues to grow, it is important to bring on an executive like Goldman who not only has a great resume of previous work, but also possesses a vision of what the future may hold,” company founder Morgan Spurlock said. Goldman, who has worked at MTV Networks and Original Media, was recently SVP Series and Development at Ish Entertainment.
London, June 6, 2012 – Global entertainment company Content Media Corporation (“Content”) announced today a far-reaching deal with New York-based production company Jigsaw Productions, further adding to the company’s growing investment portfolio. The agreement will see Content investing in Jigsaw and working closely with founder Alex Gibney to build a diversified production company operating across film and television.
Content will invest in Jigsaw for a 50% stake, and Jigsaw will add additional staff, expand development and increase its production output. Content’s film, television and digital divisions will act as international distributor for Jigsaw’s programs when appropriate.
New York, NY – April 16, 2012 – The Tribeca Film Festival (TFF), presented by founding partner American Express, today announced its jurors – a diverse group of 39 individuals, including award-winning filmmakers, writers and producers, acclaimed actors, respected critics and global business leaders. Irwin Winkler has been named President of the Jury. The Jury will be divided among the six competitive Festival categories and will announce the winning films, filmmakers and actors in those categories at the TFF Awards Night ceremony, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg on April 26, which will stream live on TribecaFilm.com. The 2012 Festival runs from April 18 –29.
The Weinstein Company has confirmed Deadline’s scoop about it forming a VOD venture and naming Tom Quinn and Jason Janego to run it. The deal will certainly focus attention on the emergence of VOD as a lifeline to movies that either don’t have the commercial premise or the starpower for a wide theatrical release. Here’s the announcement from TWC:
New York (September 6, 2011) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that Tom Quinn and Jason Janego have joined forces with TWC Co-Chairmen Harvey and Bob Weinstein to create a new TWC label to bring new films and other specialty entertainment to audiences simultaneously across multiple digital and traditional platforms. Quinn and Janego will serve as Co-Presidents of the yet-to-be named label, which will be based in New York. The announcement was made by TWC COO David Glasser.
Park City, UT – Sundance Institute today announced members of five juries awarding prizes at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival which runs January 20-30, 2011. All awards will be announced the evening of January 29 at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony. The Short Film Awards will also be named earlier at a ceremony on Tuesday, January 25 at Park City’s Jupiter Bowl.
U.S. DOCUMENTARY JURY
Jeffrey Blitz started his film career in 2002 with the Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning documentary Spellbound. His fiction feature debut, Rocket Science, became his first to play the festival (Sundance, 2007; Dramatic Directing Award). He has also directed the documentary Lucky (Sundance, 2010) and multiple episodes of NBC’s “The Office.” In 2009, he won the Emmy for comedy directing.
Matt Groening created the longest-running comedy in television history…The Simpsons. As a cartoonist, Groening began his “Life in Hell” weekly comic strip series in the 1980′s which continues to this day in newspapers nationwide.
Laura Poitras is working on a trilogy of films about America post 9/11. The first film, My Country, My Country, was nominated for an Academy Award, Independent Spirit Award, and Emmy Award. The second film, The Oath, received the Cinematography award at Sundance, the Grand Jury Award at Edinburgh, Special Jury prizes at Hot Docs and Full Frame, the True Vision Award at True/False, and the Gotham Award for Best Documentary. She has attended the Sundance Institute Documentary Edit Lab as both a fellow and
The Tribeca Film Festival handed out most of its awards Thursday night, but saved the last toast for Saturday night’s wrap party. The fest awarded the Heineken Audience Award to RUSH: Beyond the Lighted Stage, a documentary about the Canadian supergroup. The film was directed by Scot McFadyen and Sam Dunn. The film covered the ups and downs of members singer/bass player Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart. The directors received a $25,000 cash prize, presented at tonight’s wrap party.
I’m still waiting for word of the first significant distributor acquisition of a Tribeca Festival film. There is word that the producers of the festival’s closing night documentary, Freakonomics, have acquired screen rights to a Vanity Fair article by The Blind Side author Michael Lewis, on the economic collapse of Iceland. Those producers are Chad Troutwine, Chris Romano and Dan O’Meara of Green Film. Freakonomics, a film based on the bestselling book by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, was acquired for distribution prior to the festival by Magnolia. Several buyers were ho-hum about the value of Tribeca for acquisitions. It has been a snore, actually. While co-founders Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal consider Tribeca to be a neighborhood festival, it seems like an emphasis on building up the market part of the festival could really help its viability.
HBO Documentary Films acquired domestic TV rights to My Trip to Al Qaeda, the Alex Gibney-directed docu that is based on the one-man play by journalist Lawrence Wright and his effort to remain objective covering the rise of fundamentalist Islam after 9/11. The documentary is one of three Gibney films premiering at Tribeca. Gibney’s also showing a work print of his documentary about the scandalous rise and fall of New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer, a film that is being shopped by John Sloss, whose Cinetic made the HBO deal. Gibney also directed a segment of Freakonomics, also on the Tribeca sked.
A new Alex Gibney-directed tell-all documentary about the Elliot Spitzer sex scandal premieres April 24th at the Tribeca Film Festival. The story of the downfall of the New York governor is supposed to stir up headlines when its work in progress print gets a red carpet premiere. Gibney collaborated on the film project with Peter Elkind, who turned his research into the book Rough Justice to be published April 20 by the Penguin imprint Portfolio. (An excerpt breaks today in Fortune Magazine … before call girl Ashley Dupre is skedded to bare all in Playboy Magazine.) Gibney and Elkind previously worked on Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
The Spitzer documentary, financed by A&E IndieFilm, contains interviews with most of the major players including the ex-governor and his women, including one prostitute whose role wasn’t known to the media previously. Gibney realizes that sex sells and likes that his pic is a hot ticket. “I’ve never had so many requests from so many people to see a documentary, and I expect the screening’s going to be something of a circus,” he said. “It’s in keeping with a film that asks the question, ‘Have we gone too far with obsession of a sex scandal?’” Unclear is whether Spitzer himself will show up, though he certainly does so onscreen, and not just in file footage.
The big surprise to me is that Gibney interviewed Spitzer 4 times, and the footage I saw showed the disgraced New York governor gamely discussing his rise and fall. “I was initially surprised he talked, …