EXCLUSIVE: Big day on the Croisette for Joel Edgerton. The Australian actor just took the bows for the Cannes opening night film The Great Gatsby, and I’ve learned that he’s just closed a deal to star alongside Johnny Depp in the Cross Creek crime thriller Black Mass, which Barry Levinson is directing. The picture is a co-production between Cross Creek and Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media, with the two entities co-financing and Universal Pictures releasing in the U.S. through Cross Creek’s distribution deal with the studio.
Whitey Bulger rose to the top of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List when he disappeared for a decade before he could be put behind bars. Many felt he could never have gotten that far without the help of John Connolly, an FBI agent and childhood pal of Bulger and his brother. Connolly was tasked with bringing down the Italian mob, and he was aided by Bulger, who burnished his own position as Boston crime kingpin by getting rid of the competition for his Winter Hill gang. Edgerton will play Connolly, who was lauded for his work before things went south for him. He was eventually convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for aiding Bulger, who is currently in a Massachusetts state prison for second-degree murder. Edgerton gets a meaty role in a story about a … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Brad Furman will finally get behind the camera on a feature film about Colombian drug cartel kingpin Pablo Escobar. The Lincoln Lawyer director has long sought a way into a biopic of Escobar and now has Inside Llewyn Davis star Oscar Isaac aboard for the lead role, which is based on the Black List script by Matt Aldrich. Isaac will be in a lot of conversations before and after that Coen brothers pic comes out December 6. Relativity Media is the distributor and will sell the project in Cannes. Raging Bull Entertainment’s Joseph Khouri and Joe Isgro will produce with Scott Pictures’ Scott Steindorff, Film 360′s Scott Lambert, Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh and Tucker Tooley. Scott Lastaiti and Dylan Russell are exec producing. Filming begins in September in Colombia. Steindorff is producing and funding Jane Got Gun, the pic that finally came together with a final piece of casting in Ewan McGregor, who stars with Natalie Portman, Noah Emmerich and Joel Edgerton. The pic is near the end of production under helmer Gavin O’Connor.
Isaac is repped by UTA and Inspire Entertainment, Furman by CAA and Aldrich by CAA and Jewerl Ross.
3RD UPDATE, 3:40 PM: Psy is the only act to get 1 billion hits on YouTube with his “Gangnam Style” video, and his follow-up video “Gentleman” is already past 232M views. He has been tapped to join CBS News’ table at tomorrow’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner alongside the likes of Homeland‘s Claire Danes and her husband, Hannibal‘s Hugh Dancy.
2ND UPDATE, 8:10 AM: One day before the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Fox News Channel has said who from Hollywood it is bringing to the event — and it’s a big list. While Greta Van Susteren is passing on this year’s dinner, Fox News stars Bill O’Reilly, Chris Wallace, Geraldo Rivera and Bret Baier will be in attendance, as will the likes of Oscar-winner screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and a contingent from sister studio Fox’s latest X-Men movie: director Bryan Singer and producer-writer Simon Kinberg. See who will be sitting at FNC’s 14 tables below. Also check back for more last-minute additions as we head into the final hours before Saturday’s dinner.
UPDATE, THURSDAY PM: TV comedy king Chuck Lorre will be making his first White House Correspondents’ Dinner appearance this year while waiting for series-pickup news for his hot CBS pilot Mom. Lorre, who is behind the CBS series The Big Bang Theory, Two And A Half Men and Mike & Molly, will be sitting with former Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
Related: Conan O’Brien Tweets Pic From DC
PREVIOUSLY: Hollywood is again the guest everyone seems to want at their table for this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Returning headliner Conan O’Brien is set to take up the court-jester role that Jimmy Kimmel played last year and news organizations have begun to reveal guest lists for the April 27 event. There’s a lot of Tinseltown glitter already set alongside generals and top-tier cabinet secretaries — as well as power players like Harvey Weinstein. We know President Obama and the first lady will be there; here’s who else we know is going from Hollywood so far: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime has greenlighted Babysellers, a two-hour original movie about the dark international crime enterprise of infant trafficking under the guise of seemingly regulated adoption. Executive produced by veteran longform producer Robert Halmi Sr, Babysellers is a follow-up to his praised 2005 Lifetime movie Human Trafficking, starring Mira Sorvino, Donald Sutherland and Robert Carlyle, as the films tackle a cause Halmi has been very passionate about.
Babysellers stars Kirstie Alley and Jennifer Finnigan. Alley plays Carla Hughes, a well-respected, influential owner of a major U.S.-based adoption agency that helps prospective parents fulfill their dream of having a family. While presenting an innocent veneer of kindness and good intentions to her trusting clients, behind-the-scenes Hughes functions as a ruthless international kingpin, controlling an expansive syndicate spanning the world and manned by subordinates authorized to use any means necessary to procure children for her business. Finnigan plays Nic Kingman, the dedicated, tough-as-nails Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who believes Hughes is fueling a global business that stops at nothing to find the right child for the right owner — at the right price – and goes undercover to bring her sordid operation down. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Cinemax has put in development The Straits, a drama series adaptation of the 2012 Australian series starring Brian Cox. Hell On Wheels creators Tony Gayton and Joe Gayton will write, executive produce and run the project, a gritty modern-day drama that tells the story of a powerful and dangerous crime family who run their business out of the Florida Keys and into Jamaica, trafficking drugs, guns and exotic animals. When the kingpin tells his three sons that he has not yet chosen a successor, he sets in motion a series of catastrophic events that could destroy the very business he’s fought to build.
The original series, based on an idea by and co-starring actor Aaron Fa’aoso, was produced by Australian production company Matchbox Pictures, in which NBCUniversal has a majority stake. The Cinemax version will be co-produced by two other NBCU divisions, Working Title and Universal TV. The original series is available in the U.S. on Hulu (watch the trailer below). The Gaytons, repped by UTA, created AMC’s period Western drama Hell On Wheels and served as executive producers on the series for the first two seasons until their departure last October. Their feature credits include Faster for CBS Films with Castle Rock Entertainment and two other project for Castle Rock, Salt & Sea and Murder By Numbers.
EXCLUSIVE: Brady Corbet, who stars in the upcoming IFC release Simon Killer, has signed on to star with Benicio Del Toro and Josh Hutcherson in Paradise Lost. The drama is about notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and it was written and marks the directing debut of Andrea di Stefano. Corbet plays the brother of Hutcherson’s character. Hutcherson’s character visits Colombia, meets the love of his life, only to see things go awry when he meets her uncle Pablo. The film will begin production in Panama in March.
Corbet is repped by WME and KillerMoxie.
EXCLUSIVE: Spring Breakers helmer Harmony Korine, on the verge of having his first breakout hit after a most eclectic career, has made a deal for his next film to be produced by John Lesher’s Le Grisbi Productions and DCM Productions. Spring Breakers will open wide this week through A24 after garnering a huge per-screen average in limited release, starring James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and the director’s wife, Rachel Korine.
The title and log line of the new film are under wraps, but I’ve heard it involves a multi-generational family of criminals in the South. Spring Breakers producer Charles-Marie Anthonioz will also produce the film. This is likely to be Korine’s next directorial effort, but he is also developing projects with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures; she bought Spring Breakers at Toronto last fall. Korine’s new jail-bait sex kittenesque heist film seems to finally have delivered on the commercial promise he showed with his early breakout film, Kids. Some of his follow-ups, including Trash Humpers, you could imagine David Lynch watching and going, “What the hell? This is really out there.” Lesher has long been a Korine supporter; he was his agent for many years at UTA and then Endeavor, before he took the top job at Paramount and then became a producer. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Joel Silver‘s Silver Pictures has joined forces with Studio Canal to build a new franchise with a retelling of Escape From New York. The 1981 John Carpenter original starred Kurt Russell as Snake Plissken, a tough convict dropped into a futuristic New York that has been turned into a post-apocalyptic maximum security prison. He’s charged with rescuing the president (Donald Pleasence), who is held hostage by the prison kingpin (Isaac Hayes) after his plane crashes within the city walls. Snake’s offered a pardon if he’s successful, but fitted with a lethal device that will kill him if he tries to run or misses the deadline.
A remake had been attempted not that long ago at New Line with producer Neil Moritz and The Crazies helmer Breck Eisner, with Gerard Butler, Jeremy Renner and Tom Hardy all mentioned as potentials to play Plissken. That effort ended when New Line let the option lapse almost two years ago. Read More »
BREAKING: Relativity Media acquired Silver Or Lead, a script that tells the story behind the manhunt for cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Relativity will produce the film with Atmosphere Entertainment MM. Enrique Urbizu, whose gritty crime thriller No Rest For The Wicked swept the Spanish Goya’s last year, will direct from a screenplay by British writer Piers Ashworth (Nostradamus, St. Trinian’s), which he developed from an original draft by Michael Kane. I feel like this is the umpteenth attempt to tell the story of Escobar’s rise and downfall, but maybe Relativity will finally get it done. The film focuses on the personal war between Escobar and General Hugo Martinez, whose life rights are part of the deal as are rights to Joe Toft, the former chief of the Bogota office of the Drug Enforcement Agency who was involved in the pursuit, capture and death of Escobar. Source material for the film is provided by author Simon Strong’s award-winning book Whitewash: Pablo Escobar And The Cocaine Wars was also acquired by Relativity.
The film’s unique title comes from a famous Escobar phrase, “Plata o Plomo.” The choice was to take riches, or a bullet. This is the choice that General Hugo Martinez faces when he refuses a $6 million bribe by Escobar to call off the manhunt.
Mark Canton, Donald Kushner and Leigh Ann Burton will produce the film alongside Relativity’s CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and president Tucker Tooley. Atmosphere’s David … Read More »
When it comes to Oscar savvy we often hear Harvey Weinstein talked about as the kingpin of the game, but when you look at the success of Sony Pictures Classics you realize it rivals Weinstein, Searchlight, Focus and other comers in consistently, and annually, releasing and nurturing one contender after another in the quest for the elusive statuette of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Since the company was founded in December 1991, key to its success has been its co-Presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard who first worked together in similar specialty divisions at United Artists and Orion and now continue to run one of the most stable indie shops in the industry. But with a total of 25 Oscar wins and 109 nominations just at SPC they clearly have the Midas touch, and that includes a slew of Best Picture nominations for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (their biggest hit to date), Howard’s End, Capote, An Education, Midnight In Paris and this year’s Amour which won the Palme d’Or in Cannes and has amassed five Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Foreign Language Film, only the fifth film in Academy history to be named in both categories. With writing and directing nods for Michael Haneke as well as a realistic Best Actress bid for star Emmanuelle Riva the film looks to be another strong contender for the pair who continue to be one of the few high profile companies that still champions foreign language films. SPC serves up a wide variety of specialty fare of all types and always seems to find a footing in the Oscar race which has become an important part of their business plan. With two contenders for Best Documentary and two for Best Foreign Language Film in addition to the Best Picture bid, the pair are fixtures at every major film festival and are once again making lots of noise in their high season. I spoke to both late last week about the upcoming Oscars and what it means to their bottom line.
Deadline: How important is this Oscar business to the actual business of Sony Pictures Classics?
Bernard: It’s part of the business for Sony Pictures Classics because we can get movies, or have movies, that won’t get the recognition that they deserve any other way. And if they get that recognition what we have found is that the boxoffice and ancillary and profits of these movies get much better. We can go all the way back to Camille Claudel when we had Isabelle Adjani and somebody close to her suggested that you should run a campaign for her for Best Actress and we said ‘it will never happen, no one will watch the movie. We can’t get them to the theatre. And the person said ‘well why don’t you send out VHS cassettes to the Academy’ so we did and sent them to the actors branch and lo and behold we got a nomination. And it took that movie to a level it would have never gotten if it didn’t happen. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Just as Whitey Bulger rose to the top of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List when he disappeared for a decade before he could be put behind bars, the fast mobilizing movie about the Boston crime kingpin just rose to the top of the most wanted list in the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin. That’s because Johnny Deep has become attached to star in the Cross Creek crime thriller Black Mass, with Barry Levinson directing him. The picture is a co-production between Cross Creek and Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s Exclusive Media, with the two entities co-financing. Universal Pictures is aboard to release the film in the U.S. through Cross Creek’s distribution deal with the studio, and production is to begin in May.
The film will be produced by Cross Creek’s Brian Oliver and Tyler Thompson, John Lesher, and Christi Dembrowski, Depp’s partner in Infinitum Nihil. Exclusive Media’s Tobin Armbrust, President Worldwide Production and Acquisitions and Cross Creek Pictures Sr. VP of Production Adam Kassan, will oversee production. Alex Walton, Exclusive Media’s President of International Sales and Distribution, will introduce Black Mass to overseas buyers at the upcoming European Film Market in Berlin.
The title of the film comes from the 2001 Dick Lehr/Gerald O’Neill New York Times bestseller Black Mass: The True Story of … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, who scripted the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and followed with the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee A Royal Affair, have found their next project. It’s a feature adaptation of The Power Of The Dog, the epic Don Winslow bestseller framed around the drug war and a 30-year struggle between a hard DEA agent and a family of cartel kingpins in Mexico.
Arcel will direct, and the script will be written by Heisterberg, Arcel and Shane Salerno. Salerno will produce through The Story Factory. This is the same Salerno who wrote, directed, produced and financed the J.D. Salinger documentary Salinger that earlier this week was licensed in the U.S. for an American Masters broadcast and is being shopped for feature distribution after a companion biography sold in a 7-figure deal to Simon & Schuster. Read More »
Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine
Rusty-voiced, sweet-natured, a tin mask covering up his facial World War I wound, Richard Harrow, as played flawlessly by Jack Huston, is the type of vigilante one might find in a DC Comic book, warts and all. But in HBO’s 1920s epic Boardwalk Empire, he’s a supporting character that creator Terence Winter and his writers transformed from late gangster Jimmy Darmody’s trusted sharpshooter into a human being. For the bulk of this season, Harrow refrained from killing off any bad guys as he wooed a war veteran’s daughter and acted as the surrogate father to Darmody’s orphaned son, Tommy. “Richard knows how to kill. He doesn’t do it well; he does it great,” says Huston about Harrow, who even puts fear in lead Atlantic City kingpin Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) “I reminded Terry that I was getting an itchy finger, and he said, ‘Just wait.’ ” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Hunger Games‘ Josh Hutcherson is negotiating to star with Benicio Del Toro in Paradise Lost, the drama about notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar that was written and will mark the directing debut of Life Of Pi’s Andrea di Stefano. Hutcherson is actually the principal character in the fact-based tale. He plays Nick, a young Irish surfer who visits his brother in Colombia. There he meets the love of his life — until he meets her uncle Pablo. The film will begin production in Panama in March.
Hutcherson, repped by ICM Partners and The Beddingfield Company, takes the job after wrapping Catching Fire, the second installment of The Hunger Games. He also lends his voice to the Fox Animation feature Epic.
HBO’s sister channel Cinemax has put in development Kingpin, an hourlong drama from Black List writer Chad St. John (Ronin) and Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment. It is one of two drama projects St. John and Overbrook are collaborating on, along with Watchlist, which recently sold to Fox. Both are executive produced by St. John, his wife Viruna Arend and Lassiter.
Kingpin centers on a crafty and careful mid-level drug trafficker trying to get out of the business. He is blackmailed back into it by a dirty DEA agent — who’s really a dirty CIA agent, because the agency can no longer work with murderous cartels — who plans to make the trafficker a puppet kingpin…a tidbit the trafficker and his partners will wish someone would have told them. Read More »
Actor-director Kenneth Branagh has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth who also recognized actress Kate Winslet as a Commander of the British empire. Stage and screen veteran Branagh will now be known as Sir Kenneth. “I feel very humble about it, I feel elated about it,” he told the BBC. Branagh is currently directing and co-starring with Chris Pine in Paramount’s Tom Clancy reboot Jack Ryan. Winslet will be seen next in the ensemble comedy Movie 43 that opens January 25. Additionally Take That frontman Gary Barlow, a judge on the British version of X-Factor, received the Order of the British Empire.
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Just as founder Adam Yauch wanted it to when he knew he was dying of cancer, Oscilloscope Laboratories is still kicking even after the Beastie Boy and art film lover passed away in May. The distribution company just acquired U.S. rights to Rowan Athale’s Wasteland, which created a buzz when it premiered at Toronto. Oscilloscope will release next year. Athale made his directing debut on the heist film (resulting in a chase by agencies before WME signed him). A young Englishman recently released from prison recruits his three best friends and devises a complex scheme to rob the local drug kingpin who is responsible for the ex-con’s incarceration. Can he get revenge and win back his fed-up girlfriend? Attack The Block’s Luke Treadaway stars. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Attanasio has been set by Universal Pictures and producers Marc Shmuger and Martin Bregman to rewrite Scarface from the original draft by David Ayer. The film is a contemporary spin on the story first told in the 1932 film and then in 1983. Attanasio’s credits include the series House, along with Donnie Brasco and Quiz Show. CAA and attorneys Melanie Cook and Cathy Halberg at Ziffren just made his deal. Shmuger is working through his Global Produce banner and Bregman produced the remake of the film.
Scarface was first done in 1932 and then turned into the iconic 1983 film that starred Al Pacino as Cuban gangster Tony Montana. As I’ve reported, the film is not intended to be a remake or a sequel. It will take the common elements of the first two films: An outsider, an immigrant, barges his way into the criminal establishment in pursuit of a twisted version of the American dream, becoming a kingpin through a campaign of ruthlessness and violent ambition. The studio is keeping the specifics of where the new Tony character comes from under wraps at the moment, but ethnicity and geography were important in the first two versions. In the 1932 Scarface, an Italian (Paul Muni) took over Chicago, and in the Brian De Palma-directed remake, a Cuban cornered the cocaine trade in 1980s Miami, only to be consumed by it. Read More »