Sundance Selects has acquired its fourth film of the Cannes Film Festival, making a deal for North American rights to writer-director Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant. Conner Chapman, Shaun Thomas and Sean Gilder star, and the pic was produced by Tracy O’Riordan with the backing of British Film Institute and Film4. It premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight section of the fest. The contemporary fable is about about a 13-year-old boy (Chapman) and his best friend (Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighborhood, the boys meet a local scrapdealer (Gilder). They begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart but tensions eventually build among the trio, leading to a tragic event that transforms them all. Sundance Selects already closed deals here for U.S. rights to a pair of competition titles, François Ozon’s Young & Beautiful starring Marine Vacth and Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Color. It also landed U.S. rights to Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night, which is in preproduction with Marion Cotillard starring.
The deal for Selfish Giant was negotiated by Sundance Selects/IFC Films’ Arianna Bocco with Mike Goodridge of Protagonist Pictures on behalf of the filmmakers.
EXCLUSIVE: We need to qualify Steven Soderbergh‘s self-imposed retirement from the business with an asterisk: feature films only. Just as his final film Behind The Candelabra airs this Sunday on HBO, Soderbergh is in talks to team with Clive Owen on The Knick, a period series set in New York in 1900. I’m told that he and Owen will set this series at Cinemax, which will give him a 10-episode season commitment. Soderbergh will direct all of the episodes. The setting: downtown New York in 1900, a tumultuous time of massive change and great progress. The series centers around the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff at Knickerbocker Hospital, who are pushing the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. Jack Amiel & Michael Begler wrote the pilot on spec, and they will be executive producers on the series. Owen and Soderbergh are also executive producers and so are Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Soderbergh’s longtime producer Gregory Jacobs.
Related: Fleming Q&A With Steven Soderbergh: Retirement, Liberace, Legacy
While this might make some might look cynically on Soderbergh’s “retirement,” he told me the other day in an interview for the Michael Douglas-Matt Damon Liberace movie that for the moment, he has shut the door on feature films. I can see that he likes the energy present in pay and basic … Read More »
Matt Rogers will be the host of USA Network‘s new competition reality series Summer Camp, which will pit 16 die-hard campers in over-the-top competitions inspired by classic camp games. The final competitors eventually face off in an Olympic-style finale to determine the winner. The eight-episode one-hour series will premiere July 11. Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan are producing the Sony Pictures TV series via their Fly on the Wall Entertainment. Rogers was the former host of GSN’s Beat The Chefs, Discovery Channel’s Really Big Things, CBS’ There Goes the Neighborhood and Lifetime’s Coming Home. He is repped by APA and Untitled Entertainment.
With the market officially wrapped, the deal pace has slowed to a crawl and the focus turns back to the movies. That’s after a week of international sales on some key titles and a few high-profile domestic deals in an environment that nevertheless was marked by caution. Oftentimes as Cannes is about to start, there are splashy announcements of domestic pick-ups on fest-related movies and that helps set the pace. In 2011, The Weinstein Co. acquired The Artist before the curtain lifted. Last year, it grabbed The Sapphires and Sony Pictures Classics bought Susanne Bier’s Love Is All You Need on Day One. This year, there were no eve-of-the-fest acquisitions on titles that are in official selection (although Warner Bros. moved in on Ryan Gosling’s How To Catch A Monster which is currently shooting and Lionsgate arrived in town having taken the upcoming The Quiet Ones). Ultimately, U.S. buyers that I spoke with ahead of the fest said they would be opportunistic, but cautious. “Everyone goes in very carefully,” Sony Classics’ Tom Bernard told me. “There’s a lot of pushback in the ancillary areas so when you’re spending money, you have to spend it wisely.”
Foreign sellers say there’s a shift in the balance of key territories. China, Russia, Brazil, the Middle East and even India – which has such a massive local box office – are becoming “significant pieces of the puzzle.” Spain and Italy remain the places that make sellers misty given the economic crises there. Rai, however, did pick up The Gunman starring Sean Penn in what was a notable buy for the company. That movie virtually sold out for Studiocanal. Read More »
Robert Redford may not be eligible for any awards at Cannes this year where his new film, All Is Lost premiered to strong response out of competition on Wednesday night, but if the reaction on the Croisette was any indication, he could be headed for the Oscars. The film, in which Redford is the only actor playing a man stranded at sea when his sailboat springs a huge leak, is a tour de force for the star and it won a 9-minute standing ovation at its debut tonight. Even the return of the rain that has plagued this festival could not put a damper on the mood of the filmmakers, Universal International (releasing overseas) and Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions (releasing domestically on October 18th). It is clearly an awards season play, not only for Redford in a role unlike any he has played but also Oscar nominated writer/director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) who proves his first film was no fluke and shows a remarkable ability to pull off this one-man show with real filmmaking skill. Read More »
The Voice judge and Oklahoma native said last night that he wanted to put together a relief concert in support of victims of the massive Oklahoma tornado that hit earlier this week, killing dozens. Now NBC is working fast to make it happen. If it comes together, I understand the Blake Shelton-led concert would be held early next week — the network is putting together a few more elements, including where the event will be held. Details about the performances are sketchy, but it’s anticipated that several of Shelton’s Voice co-judges would be involved. Shelton performed a song with wife Miranda Lambert during last night’s live episode of The Voice as Red Cross donation information played on the screen. Read More »
There are lots of stars in Cannes this year but I don’t think any of them are shining brighter at the festival than one who is no longer with us. Elizabeth Taylor may have died over two years ago at the age of 79 but she lives on, not only on the big and small screens where her many films still play, but also for all the amazing charitable work she did in her lifetime, particularly her fight against AIDS. Tomorrow night amFAR will certainly be remembering her at the 20th anniversary of Cinema Against AIDS, the signature event set during the Cannes Festival she helped start. And Tuesday night 20th Century Fox World Premiered its meticulous 2K digital restoration (it took nine months to complete) of the 1963 film, Cleopatra, infamous for the torrid off-screen love affair between its stars Taylor and Richard Burton.
Related: A New Day As HBO and VOD Movies Compete For Palme d’Or
On the occasion of its 50th anniversary the studio pulled out all the stops with a black tie premiere of the four-hour movie (that ironically almost bankrupted the studio), followed by a lavish party sponsored by Bulgari, the jeweler who supplied Taylor with so many of the baubles she was famous for collecting. In fact, as you entered the party on the J.W. Marriott rooftop it was hard to avoid them displayed in special glass cabinets. Included was the platinum and emerald necklace her co-star Burton gave her for their engagement in 1962. Host (and Bulgari spokesperson) Jessica Chastain actually wore it to introduce the film before taking it off and giving it back to Bulgari. She is the only person to have worn it other than Liz on her wedding day (or one of her wedding days). Also Fox brought in several original Cleopatra costumes. Fox Chairman Jim Gianopulos was there to help intro the film and told me later that the financial toll the film took on the studio has been overblown. “It turned a profit after three years,” he says although the movie’s cost was astronomical and ran off the rails. I asked Fox President of Post-Production Ted Gagliano about the story that director Joseph Mankiewicz actually had a six-hour cut and that two never-before seen hours of the film are somewhere in the Fox vaults. He says he has heard this as well but thinks it’s another in the long line of Cleopatra myths since they searched high and low and found nothing. One of the guests at the premiere, director and film nerd Alexander Payne told me after seeing the film again he wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn there was an even longer cut. “But who really needs to see a six-hour version?” he asked. Both Payne and his guest Laura Dern (whose father Bruce Dern stars in Payne’s Cannes entry, Nebraska, which premieres here Thursday) said they loved seeing the film in all its restored glory. Read More »
Just For Laughs, the producer of the Montreal International Comedy Festival, has signed with UTA. The company was at CAA. Just For Laughs is looking to ramp up its production slate with stand-up specials, scripted and unscripted television and digital content and to expand into social media and licensing. Founded in 1983, the Just For Laughs Group is behind the Montreal comedy fest, which annually attracts more than 1.5 million attendees, with additional festivals in Toronto, Chicago and Sydney. Just For Laughs is a leading producer of stand-up comedy specials that have aired on CBC, The Comedy Network and HBO in Canada as well as the BBC and Channel Four in the UK and HBO, Fox, BBC America, TBS and Showtime in the U.S. The company also has produced original series including Bullet in the Face, starring Eddie Izzard, for IFC and The Tournament for CBC in Canada and Versus in the U.S. Read More »
2013-14 ABC New Series
Betrayal — A chance meeting between photographer Sara Hadley (Hannah Ware) and Attorney Jack McAllister (Stuart Townsend) leads to an instant and undeniable attraction. Sarah’s husband, Drew (Chris Johnson), is a successful prosecutor with political aspirations, while Jack is married to Elaine (Wendy Moniz), the daughter of his boss, Thacher Karsten (James Cromwell). When Karsten’s brother-in-law Lou is murdered, all evidence points to Karsten’s son, T.J. (Henry Thomas). Jack, the company’s lead counsel, will have to defend him, but for Sara’s prosecutor husband, Drew, this is the kind of high-profile murder case that can secure his political future. Just as Sara and Jack’s affair is starting, the lovers find themselves in an impossible situation — on opposite sides of a murder investigation. “Betrayal” stars Hannah Ware (“Shame,” “Boss”) as Sara, Stuart Townsend (“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”) as Jack, James Cromwell (“Babe,” “American Horror Story”) as Thacher Karsten, Henry Thomas (“E.T.,” “Gangs of New York”) as T.J. Karsten, Chris Johnson (“The Vampire Diaries”) as Drew, Wendy Moniz (“Guiding Light,” “The Guardian”) as Elaine, Elizabeth McLaughlin (“The Clique”) as Val and Braeden Lamasters (“Men of a Certain Age”) as Vic. “Betrayal” was written by David Zabel (“ER”) and directed by Patty Jenkins (“The Killing,” “Monster”) and is executive-produced by David Zabel, Rob Golenberg (“Red Widow”) and Alon Aranya. “Betrayal” is produced by ABC Studios.
Killer Women — Of all the notorious lawmen who have ever patrolled the violent Texas frontier, none are more … Read More »
UPDATED: Exactly a week after its upfront presentation, CBS has picked up another comedy series for midseason, the single-camera Bad Teacher starring Ari Graynor, which has received a 13-episode order. Sony Pictures TV produced the pilot, an adaptation of the 2011 movie, which will now be a co-production with CBS TV Studios. Bad Teacher was among a slew of half-hour pilots that CBS were brass were high on this season. It screened and tested well and, despite not making the cut before the upfronts, talks between CBS and Sony continued through and after upfront week until a deal was reached. Bad Teacher brings the number of new CBS comedy series on tap for next season to a whooping six, the most in almost two decades. (Last season the network picked up a total of two, only one of which, Partners, got on the air.) CBS’ 2013-14 comedy class is split evenly between multi-camera (fall entries Mom and The Millers and midseason’s Friends With Better Lives) and single-cam (fall’s The Crazy Ones and We Are Men, plus Bad Teacher).
Related: CBS New Series Previews – Video
The pickup brings the number of new Sony broadcast series for next season to eight, a record for the independent studio. It was able to land new shows on every network (The Michael J. Fox Show, The Blacklist, Welcome To The Family and After Hours at NBC, Rake and Us And Them on Fox, The Goldbergs on ABC and Bad Teacher on CBS). Sony was able to get The Blacklist, Welcome To The Family and After Hours picked up and Community renewed for a final season in a complex, hard-fought negotiation with NBC that went down to the wire and resulted in Sony getting all shows involved picked up and securing NBC’s best launching pad, the post-Voice Monday 10 PM slot, for Blacklist. Leveraging the red-hot Blacklist, which had tested through the roof, I hear Sony held firm, indicating it was ready to leave rather than take a bad deal. Meanwhile, I hear NBC got ownership in Blacklist, which could make hundreds of millions of dollars profit in success, and is paying license fee vs. full freight on Community. Read More »
The hot cable comedy project, which has Billy Crystal attached to star, co-write and executive produce, Burn Notice creator Matt Nix co-writing/executive producing and Curb Your Enthusiasm and Borat‘s Larry Charles directing/co-writing and executive producing, has been picked up by FX with a pilot order. Titled The Comedians, the single-camera comedy, which was taken out earlier this month, is produced by Fox TV Studios, marking the first FX pilot to not come out of the in-house FX Prods.
In The Comedians, Crystal plays a superstar veteran comedian who is reluctantly paired with a younger, edgier comedian for a late-night comedy sketch show. It is based on the 2004 Swedish series Ulveson And Herngren, starring comedians Felix Herngren and Johan Ulveson as they put together a sketch program. Charles is set to direct the pilot, which is said to be in the documentary style he perfected on another cable comedy starring a veteran stand-up comedian, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Charles, Nix and Crystal are co-writing with comedy writer-producer Ben Wexler, who previously worked with Nix on Nix’s Fox dramedy The Good Guys. The four executive produce with Nix’s manager, producer Mikkel Bondesen and Henrik Bastin, both of Fabrik Entertainment (formerly Fuse), which, like Nix, is under a deal at FtvS. Carl Molinder and John Nordling of Stockholm-based Efti AB, which is behind the original series, also executive produce. Fabrik’s Kristen Campo co-exec produces. Read More »
Last year, the Broadcast Television Journalists Association might have helped fuel Homeland‘s surprise Emmy win by awarding its top drama prize to the then-rookie Showtime series. But with today’s announcement of nominees for its 3rd annual Critics’ Choice TV Awards, the group might make more noise with what it spurned than what it honored. HBO and FX lead the network tally with 21 and 19 noms, respectively, and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and FX’s American Horror Story each drew six to top all programs. However, a look at the Best Comedy and Best Drama races reveal some surprising omissions. Missing from the BJTA’s comedy series hopefuls are three-time defending Emmy champ Modern Family (supporting actress Sarah Hyland is the show’s lone nominee), along with recently wrapped perennial 30 Rock and, perhaps most glaringly, HBO’s hipster darling Girls. And conspicuously absent from the drama series combatants is four-time Emmy winner Mad Men, which also earned only a single nom, for lead actress Elizabeth Moss.
Related: EMMYS: Why The TV Academy Reversed Its Decision On Merging Longform Categories
Instead, vying for the Critics’ Choice Award for best drama are Homeland, HBO’s Game Of Thrones, PBS’ Downtown Abbey, CBS’ The Good Wife and AMC’s Breaking Bad — all of which also were nominated in the category last year — along with FX’s freshman The Americans. Up for best comedy are Modern Family‘s Wednesday night companion The Middle, landing its first major awards recognition, as well as Big Bang Theory, FX’s Louie, Fox’s New Girl, NBC’s Parks and Recreation and HBO Veep. (No sign of last year’s winner Community, led by new showrunners Moses Port and David Guarascio.) Netflix’s House Of Cards made an entrance into the awards circles with two acting noms, including one for star Kevin Spacey.
The awards will be handed out June 10 at the Beverly Hilton — not coincidentally during Emmy voting season. Parks and Rec‘s Retta will host. See the complete list of nominees, along with the breakdown of noms by show and network, after the jump: Read More »
An HBO film? A VOD movie? Competing for the Palme d’Or, all seriously in one of the last bastions of pure cinema, the Cannes Film Festival‘s main competition? Oui!
With HBO’s Behind The Candelabra and Radius-TWC‘s Ryan Gosling-starrer Only God Forgives from Cannes darling Nicolas Winding Refn, a new day — and date — has dawned here. And in all these cases, huge movie stars who might not have considered anything but a traditional theatrical release and all the trimmings that go with that are suddenly here with projects that — while also possibly traveling the theatrical route, too — will simultaneously, or even first, be seen on smaller screens. This might have been considered sacreligious in the Cannes of old, but in this ever-changing film industry it’s the way of the future, at least partially.
HBO made a big splash Tuesday night with its extremely well-received Steven Soderbergh-directed movie Behind The Candelabra, the story of a very closeted Liberace and his relationship with a young man that has become one of the best-reviewed films here. Its Oscar-winning stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon hit the Palais Grand Theatre’s red carpet, won raves and immediate awards talk here, even though one person said of the film’s Palme d’Or chances, “I can’t imagine Cannes giving an award to an HBO movie”. Really? Well, who could have imagined Cannes, a few years ago, actually embracing HBO and letting it compete at the big table which is exactly what Candelabra is doing. Many observers here think Douglas is in fact the frontrunner for the Best Actor prize for his uncanny portrayal of the uber-flamboyant Liberace. I would go as far to say that Douglas and Damon, who plays his young lover Scott Thorson (the man who wrote the expose upon which the film is based), would easily have been nominated for Oscars had this gone theatrical instead of cable in America (it will be in theaters internationally). Instead the film, which HBO begins airing Sunday in the U.S., and its stars will just have to settle for sweeping the Emmys, as it most likely will do. That it also represents what Steven Soderbergh says is his final film for the foreseeable future could actually increase his Palme d’Or chances in my view, perhaps as a message that he shouldn’t quit so soon. How ironic that no major studio or distributor wanted the film when it was initially pitched. But HBO jumped at the chance. Douglas for one is extremely grateful. He even had to hold back tears and got very choked up trying to thank his colleagues during the Cannes press conference yesterday for waiting for him while he underwent his cancer treatments.
So as their movie hits TV screens in America, could Soderbergh or his film be winning a prize in Cannes the same day? Stranger things have happened, but that would be a first. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In its second significant deal at Cannes, Radius-TWC acquired North American rights to Keanu Reeves‘ directorial debut Man Of Tai Chi in a low seven-figure minimum guarantee. The film is set in modern Beijing and follows the spiritual journey of a young martial artist (Tiger Hu Chen) whose unparalleled tai chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club. As the fights grow tougher, he must compromise his own beliefs in order to survive. This is the second deal for Radius, which on Saturday acquired the Directors Fornight film Blue Ruin. TWC-Radius also has the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed Only God Forgives playing here at Cannes, with Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas starring.
Related: Hammond: A New Day As HBO and VOD Movies Compete For Palme d’Or
Reeves, who also stars in the film, met Chen during The Matrix, where Chen was a stuntman and a trainer for Reeves. It’s Chen’s first lead role, and the film also stars international action fixtures like The Raid’s Iko Uwais and Jeremy Marinas. Michael G. Cooney wrote the script and Man Of Tai Chi is a co-production between China Film Group, Wanda Media, Village Roadshow Pictures Asia and Universal Pictures. Lemore Syvan is the producer. Radius will release the film in the fourth quarter of 2013.
Related: Cannes: Reeves Presents ‘Man Of Tai Chi’ Read More »
Last year, the Broadcast Television Journalists Association likely helped fuel Homeland‘s surprise Emmy win by awarding its top drama prize to the then-rookie Showtime series. But with today’s announcement of nominees for its 3rd annual Critics’ Choice TV Awards, the group might make more noise with what it spurned than what it honored. HBO and FX lead the network tally with 21 and 19 noms, respectively, and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory and FX’s American Horror Story each drew six to top all programs, though the latter is not among the six finalists for Best Drama Series. However, a look at the Best Comedy and Best Drama races reveal some surprising omissions. Missing from the BJTA’s comedy series hopefuls are three-time defending Emmy champ Modern Family, along with recently wrapped perennial 30 Rock and, perhaps most glaringly, HBO’s hipster darling Girls. And conspicuously absent from the drama series combatants is four-time Emmy winner Mad Men, which earned only a single nom, for lead actress Elizabeth Moss.
Related: Critics’ Choice TV Awards: ‘Homeland’, ‘Community’ & ‘Sherlock’ Double Winners
Instead, vying for the Critics’ Choice Award for best drama are Homeland, HBO’s Game Of Thrones, PBS’ Downtown Abbey, CBS’ The Good Wife and AMC’s Breaking Bad — all of which also were nominated in the category last year — along with FX’s … Read More »
Liberty Global’s Chellomedia Up For Sale
Liberty Global has put its TV channels unit on the block. The Wall Street Journal reports that John Malone’s international cable business is seeking for $800M-$1B for Chellomedia, which produces and distributes TV channels in a variety of genres including sports, movies and cooking to roughly 390 million households. The division’s reach in Latin America, Eastern Europe and elsewhere has growth potential and should draw suitors. Chellomedia’s revenue last year was $514 million, from sales to Liberty Global operators as well as third parties.
HBO In Content Deal With Amedia In Russia
HBO has inked a distribution deal with Russia’s Amedia, which produces TV series, telefilms and other programming. The 11-year-old company will offer HBO fare and other premium TV content from additional U.S. and international studios. The 5-year pact includes past and current seasons of HBO series and gives Amedia access to HBO’s future productions over the lifetime of the deal.
Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Mike Lobell, the veteran producer whose 14-years of persistence helped make the remake Gambit happen, is getting close on three other projects with strong elements. He has re-teamed with former partner, writer-director Andrew Bergman, on A Film By Alan Stuart Eisner, an ensemble comedy which so far has Project X‘s Oliver Cooper, Shirley MacLaine and Robin Williams attached, with Rob Reiner making a cameo. Lobell reports that the film has added Sienna Miller, Isla Fisher and Audra MacDonald. Eisner is a comedy dealing with a young man making a documentary to learn what happened to his family during WWII. He is out looking for financing.
Gambit, by the way, ended up with Michael Hoffman directing a script by Joel and Ethan Coen. Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman star and CBS Films is releasing.
At the same time, Lobell is getting traction on This Man This Woman, the adult love story written by Frederic Raphael. The project has gotten a boost with the attachment of Richard Gere, who long ago sparked to a film which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a marriage. This was the picture that once nearly went into production with Meg Ryan and Sean Penn. Lobell and Gere will now look for a director and their female lead. Read More »
Steven Soderbergh tonight unveils what he says is his final feature film Behind The Candelabra. The film explores the secret father/son/lover relationship between Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his valet Scott Thorson. It’s playing in competition here at Cannes, even though HBO will premiere it in the U.S. on Sunday before it gets a traditional overseas theatrical release. If that seems complex, it fits Soderbergh, a true maverick who has always been up for putting himself on the line for disruptive, groundbreaking fare. That began with sex, lies, and videotape. The movie won the Audience Award at Sundance and the Palme d’Or at Cannes before grossing nearly $25 million in 1989 and earning him an original screenplay Oscar nom. It is viewed as the picture that turned indie film into a viable business. “He is the father of this movement,” said Harvey Weinstein, who distributed the film. “Before him, there was no independent movie that did more than $5 million. This was the one that went out, almost wide, in the summer — where they said these films could not play — and broke the art house ghetto.” An Oscar (for directing Traffic) later, and a career that spanned every genre and enterprising release strategy (he aroused the ire of theater owners by road testing the day-and-date release platform that is now a Sundance deal staple), the 50-year-old Soderbergh talks with Deadline about Behind The Candelabra, indie economics and more.
Related: Steven Soderbergh’s State Of Cinema Talk
DEADLINE: All week, I’ve heard people here debate whether Michael Douglas and Matt Damon will lose possible Oscar nominations because the film plays first on HBO, before a more traditional international theatrical rollout. You intended it originally to be an indie feature. Explain the gyrations that ended up with this unusual release strategy.
SODERBERGH: We were trying to get the last $5 million to finish it off. The movie cost $22 million and change. We’d raised $18 million foreign and we just needed this piece. Superficially it would seem like a no-brainer, but when you look at the realities of the economics of putting a movie into wide release, you have to gross $65 million-$75 million just to get out. People just didn’t have that appetite for this kind of material.
DEADLINE: How different were things back when you conceived it as an indie and took several years to get to it and get a script by Richard LaGravanese?
SODERBERGH: There’s no question in my mind that if it had been five years earlier that we’d probably would have gotten it. But the pressure has gotten so extreme. I talk to people at the studios about it all the time. Somebody told me last week that they are doing a better job controlling movie costs but that marketing costs keep moving at a trajectory faster than everything else. Another terrifying thing is, you used to be able to bank on stars. If you had certain elements in a certain kind of movie, you could bank on doing X. Now you are guaranteed nothing. Read More »