There may be lots of speculation about the future of DreamWorks in its current incarnation at Disney as my colleague Mike Fleming wrote earlier this week, but you would never know it from last night’s rip-roaring premiere of its latest film, Need For Speed, at the Chinese Theatre. I went in expecting a poor man’s Fast & Furious and instead got a riveting and fun entertainment with lots of heart and emotion in addition to all the stunt driving. The film, which opens Friday and stars Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as a street racer out for revenge after being framed for a death of a young street-racing rookie, has all the requisite action you would expect from this kind of movie, but there’s so much more. The fact that it marks the second feature directed by former stuntman Scott Waugh (the son of another stuntman, Fred Waugh, who passed away while his son was in preproduction) would lead one to believe it would be all pedal-to-the-metal and no soul, but that’s not the case. Waugh’s first feature behind the camera, Act Of Valor, proved he knew how to put humanity into a genre film. What he’s made here is a good old-fashioned movie that doesn’t rely on CGI, has a genuine story to tell with three-dimensional characters (in 3D, no less), and great locations.
It also presents yet another reason the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences needs to re-consider its decision not to create a 25th category for stunt work. Come on, these people deserve the recognition on a regular basis. I do understand the ticklish situation with the Actors branch, the Academy’s largest and most powerful, but this kind of work is definitely Oscar worthy. The Television Academy has a stunt peer group and recently even split comedy and drama stunt coordination into two separate Emmy categories. Veteran stuntman-director Hal Needham got an Honorary Oscar in 2012, and I suppose the Academy feels that’s enough recognition for now (Needham passed away several months after getting that Oscar). But it’s not.
Related: Hot Trailer: DreamWorks’ ‘Need For Speed’
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UPDATE, 5:20 PM: The companies have officially announced a “wide-ranging” deal, which “will result in dismissal of all pending litigation between the two companies, including disputes over PrimeTime Anytime and AutoHop.” The agreement calls for Dish to disable AutoHop functionality for ABC content within the C3 ratings window. The pact also for the first time allows Dish customers to access Disney’s authenticated live and VOD products. The full release is below the original story.
PREVIOUS, 3:59 PM: They both made big concessions as part of a new — and long-awaited — program carriage deal that Dish Network cut with Disney, The Wall Street Journal reports. It says that Dish Network has agreed to disable the Hopper DVR’s “Auto Hop” feature for ABC shows for the first three days after they air. Disney, in return, will drop out of broadcasters’ suit against Dish. They’ve said that the DVR’s feature that automatically jumps past ads on some recorded shows infringes on their copyrights and violates carriage contracts. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen has steadfastly cast himself as a champion for his customers’ interests, saying that Hopper simply automates what DVR owners already can do with their remote controls. Now that Dish and Disney have agreed to allow ad zapping after three days, we’ll have to see whether other broadcasters can accept similar terms. CBS chief Les Moonves said in November that he’s “very flexible. We’re willing to negotiate.” Last month Ergen said that he was “cautiously optimisic” about striking a deal with Disney, in part because CEO Bob Iger — who’s also a member of Apple’s board – “has looked at [terms] in ways that others have not.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jack Thorne has been set to script Sandman at Warner Bros based on the pitch that David Goyer made for his treatment for the Neil Gaiman comic book classic. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is producing with Goyer and the hope is for him to star and possibly direct. Gordon-Levitt made his feature directorial debut on the well-received Sundance pic Don Jon, but this would be a considerable step up in scope and scale. Gaiman is exec producer. Thorne scripted How I Live Now.
The Sandman series shifts between horror and fantasy, and the central character is Morpheus, the personification of dreams. After being held captive 70 years, Morpheus escapes, gains revenge and rebuilds his crumbling kingdom while trying to adapt to the times. Warner Bros has long tried to crack the subject matter, and there is optimism that Goyer did that. The potential payoff is a highly original potential franchise, if Goyer, Gordon-Levitt and Warner Bros could pull it off. It has that cool factor like Looper did. Gordon-Levitt next stars in another seminal graphic novel-based film, Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, which Robert Rodriguez and creator Frank Miller helmed. Thorne is repped by WME and Casarotto Ramsay.
Diane Ladd and Eden Brolin have signed on to star in writer-director Katie Cokinos’ comedic drama I Dream Too Much. This is Cokinos’ debufeature. Danielle Brooks (Orange Is The New Black, Girls) Christina Rouner and James McCaffrey (Rescue Me, Revenge) co-star in the pic that tells the story of an imaginitive college student (Brolin) who volunteers to care for her formidable great aunt (Ladd), as they both face challenges that threaten their independence. Brooks plays Abbey, a singer looking for her big break, Rouner plays Helen, a closet legal eagle and Brolin’s mother, and McCaffrey plays Nikki Sommers, a legendary music producer.
Richard Linklater is executive producing with producers Jay Thames for 77 Films and Ed McWilliams for Attic Lights Films in association with Pantheon of Women. The film will begin photography in New York in February. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 8:45 PM: The tributes to Sarah Jones continue to pour in. Below is a photo posted at WhoSay featuring Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev of CW’s The Vampire Diaries, the CW drama on which Jones worked. And action continues at the Facebook group Slates for Sarah, which now is past 21,500 likes. Other below-the-line workers are getting in on the act as well; among the more recent pics posted to the site are tributes to the late camera assistant adorning a walkie-talkie and a large power tool.
UPDATE, 6:00 PM: The Facebook group Slates for Sarah, which is gathering tribute photos for fallen Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones from production crews around the world, has now passed 18K “likes.” The online petition to include Jones in Sunday’s Oscar In Memoriam segment eclipsed its goal of 10,000 signatures within 12 hours Tuesday and now is approaching 13K. It will be submitted to the Academy on Friday.
PREVIOUS, 11:35 AM: A campaign to include Midnight Rider camera assistant Sarah Jones in this weekend’s Oscars In Memoriam tribute is gaining traction online, but time will tell if the Academy will acknowledge the increasingly vocal outcry within the production community to her tragic death. Jones, 27, died Thursday in a train collision on the set of director Randall Miller‘s Gregg Allman biopic that left several others injured in Jesup, GA. Her death has raised growing concerns within the industry about set safety and culpability as investigations into the accident continue.
Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew Member Killed In On-Set Train Accident
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Paul Thomas Anderson‘s next film Inherent Vice has been given a plum awards-season release date. Warner Bros said today that the pic starring Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Josh Brolin, Katherine Waterston and Jena Malone will come out December 12, 2014. The adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 detective novel will be Anderson’s first film since 2012′s The Master, which was nominated for three Oscars. The studio has spent the past week setting its release slate, especially for early 2015, finding spots for Man From U.N.C.L.E (January 16), Run All Night (February 6), Focus (February 27) and Get Hard (March 27).
Warner Bros Sets 2015 Release Dates For ‘Run All Night’, ‘Man From U.N.C.L.E.’ And ‘Focus’
As usual it will be a packed Oscar-bait weekend on December 12. That’s when Fox releases its Ridley Scott biblical epic Exodus, starring Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II. It’s also the date for Paddington, the live-action adaptation of the classic cartoon character from TWC-Dimension. Colin Firth voices the bear, and Nicole Kidman is an evil taxidermist out for revenge.
Related: Warner Bros Sets March 2015 Release Date For ‘Get Hard’ Read More »
UPDATE: Heroes alum Greg Grunberg is returning to primetime. No, he hasn’t been drafted for the upcoming Heroes event miniseries on NBC but for a co-starring role in ABC’s medical drama pilot Warriors from writer Chris Keyser, Mandeville TV and ABC Studios. Inspired by the Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Warriors follow the best and brightest active-duty military doctors and nurses as they practice trailblazing medicine. Grunberg, repped by manager Susan Calogerakis, Resolution, and Jackoway Tyerman, will play wheelchair-bound OBGYN and obstetrical surgeon Leonard Mooney, a decommissioned officer with a gambling problem.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Erik Palladino (NCIS:LA) has landed a regular role in ABC drama pilot Agatha from ABC Studios and The Mark Gordon Co. Agatha is a character-driven procedural about a former convict-turned-big-city criminologist who is brought in to help local police crack a case involving a perplexing disappearance. Palladino, with the Coronel Group, will play Captain Benjamin Cooper, the admired and well-respected head of Philadelphia’s Major Crimes division. Read More »
Hope Davis and Margarita Levieva are set as the female leads opposite Gavin Stenhouse in the NBC drama pilot Coercion. Based on the Israeli format The Gordin Cell, the project hails from Universal Television and Keshet Media Group, which is behind the original series. Written-directed by George Nolfi, the high-octane thriller revolves around the O’Connor family and their extremely intelligent son, Alex (Stenhouse), a decorated American war hero and newly minted CIA analyst who is a true patriot and loves his country and family. Unbeknownst to him, his father, his mother (Davis) and his sister (Levieva) are part of a dormant Russian sleeper cell that has just been reactivated. Davis’ Katya is described as your average Brooklyn mother who, under the surface, is sexy, dangerous, tough, smart and ready to do anything to protect her family. Levieva’s Natalie is also described as sexy and tough, often too smart for her own good and a bit of a wild child. All O’Connors will speak some Russian, which will come natural to Levieva, who was born and grew up in the Russian part of Soviet Union before emigrating with her family to the U.S. at age 11 when, also appropriately for the show, they settled in Brooklyn, NY. Levieva, repped by UTA and Silver Lining, is coming off a two-year stint on ABC’s Revenge as faux Amanda Clarke and recently … Read More »
UPDATED: Heroes and Mob City alum Milo Ventimiglia and Revenge‘s Barry Sloane have been cast as leads in ABC alien drama pilot The Visitors, from Amblin TV, after fielding interest from multiple pilots. The project chronicles the race against the clock to defeat an unseen alien enemy out to destroy the world. Ventimiglia, repped by CAA, Management 360 and attorney Jeff Frankel, will play John Doe/Drew, who is covered in strange tattoos and diagrams and speaks in a strange language. He will next be seen in Grace of Monaco and the remake of Heat and also stars and executive produces the Crackle series Chosen. Sloane will play Wes, a former FBI agent now with the Special Projects Division of the Defense department who investigates military threats that are better off solved outside the public’s knowledge. The Visitors is for the same network and hails from the same studio, ABC Studios, as Revenge, where Sloane has been a regular since midway through the second season after starting the season as a recurring. Sloane, repped by Innovative, Silver Lining and UK’s BWH, received the blessing of Revenge‘s producers to do a pilot this season. The fate of his character, Aiden, is being kept under wraps.
Related: 2014 ABC Pilots
Proving yet again the affinity global distributors have for Bruce Willis, K5 International has enjoyed a strong sales run at Berlin with Vice. The Willis-starrer has nearly sold out with more than 37 territories biting. The Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films picture, produced by Randall Emmett, George Furla and Adam Goldworm, was picked up across Scandinavia, Russia, Benelux, Japan, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Thailand, Israel, Portugal, Russia, Czechoslovakia and France. The film had previously sold to Germany, Poland, ex-Yugoslavia, Latin America, the Middle East, Turkey, Greece, and India. Shooting starts in Alabama next month on the movie that’s set in a resort where the rich live out their most perverse fantasies via synthetic humanoids. When one becomes self-aware and breaks out, she seeks her revenge. Willis plays the resort’s owner and Ambyr Childers is the renegade android. Thomas Jane is also in the cast. Brian A. Miller is directing from a script by Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore. Read More »
Courtney B. Vance is set co-star in ABC’s medical drama pilot Warriors, from writer Chris Keyser, Mandeville TV and ABC Studios. Inspired by the Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Warriors follow the best and brightest active-duty military doctors and nurses as they practice trailblazing medicine. Vance will play Navy Lt. Hennessey Fiske, an orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in neurology, a resident genius who can build anything including and special wheelchairs and prosthetics for the many young soldiers who come home minus their limbs. This marks the first collaboration between Keyser and Vance, who were in the same class together at Harvard. “Although I didn’t know Courtney in school, I’ve followed his career with the pride of a classmate,” Keyser said. “It’s only taken me 25 years to find the perfect part to bring to him. For this part of Dr. Fiske, Courtney was our first and only choice.” Read More »
As a very quiet EFM winds down, TrustNordisk reports it’s had high interest on Mads Mikkelsen-starrer The Salvation. After pre-selling the movie in Cannes, a sizzle reel of Kristian Levring’s western was shown to buyers on Saturday morning in Berlin, adding deals in Australia/New Zealand (Madman) and Benelux (Wild Bunch). A multi-territory pact is in the offing. The English-language Danish western is co-written by Susanne Bier’s frequent collaborator, Anders Thomas Jensen. The revenge tale also stars Eva Green and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Sisse Graum Jørgensen produces for Zentropa Entertainments33 in co-production with South Africa’s Spier Films and the UK’s Forward Films. The Scandinavian release is set for August through Nordisk Film Distribution. Read More »
David Henrie has been cast in the indie period drama Walt Before Mickey, based on the book by Timothy S. Susanin about the early years of Walt Disney. Henrie, who starred opposite Selena Gomez on Disney Channel’s long-running Wizards Of Waverly Place, will play Rudy Ising, who applies for a job at as a cartoonist with Walt’s fledgling studio in Kansas City and becomes one of the animator’s small group of trusted associates. American Pie‘s Thomas Ian Nicholas is already aboard as Walt Disney and Jon Heder is playing Roy Disney in the pic, which is filming now in Florida. Jodie Sweetin also is in the cast. Ari Taub is directing the movie from Conglomerate Media, Bon Aire Productions & Jeff Rice Films. Arthur L. Bernstein and Armando Gutierrez are producing. Henrie, who recurs on How I Met Your Mother, has another period pic, the Kevin James-Emily Watson-Tom Wilkinson drama Little Boy, in the can. He is repped by ICM Partners and Untitled Entertainment. Read More »
CBS has given pilot orders to untitled dramas from two of the most prolific producers at the moment: Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. One of the pilots is executive produced by John Cusack, the other is an adaptation of the Israeli series Ran Quartet written/executive produced by David Marshall Grant (Smash). Both hail from CBS TV Studios where Timberman/Beverly is based.
The John Cusack drama is set in the world of Wall Street power and money. It was written by Taylor Elmore (Justified) and Ben Cavell from a story the two co-wrote with Cusack and Kevin McCabe. The four executive produce with Timberman and Beverly. There are no plans for Cusack, always sought after for pilots, to act.
The untitled David Marshall Grant project is a soapy medical show revolving around quadruplets – three brothers and a sister – who grew up on a reality show. In the Israeli Ran Quartet, created by Giyora Yahalom and Oren Jakobi, the four siblings had had their entire lives documented by a filmmaker until age 32, when the documentary stops and everyone comes to find the four’s real lives are quite different from the way they had been portrayed on TV. It ran on Israeli satcaster Yes for two seasons (check out the video below). Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road Films has just completed a deal to pre-buy domestic distribution rights on Triple Nine, the John Hillcoat-directed heist thriller, which begins production this summer with a killer cast. Fruitvale Station’s Michael B. Jordan, Breaking Bad and Need For Speed‘s Aaron Paul, Warm Bodies’ Teresa Palmer, Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman in the Batman Vs. Superman film) and End Of Watch‘s Michael Pena are in talks to join previously announced 12 Years A Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor, Out of the Furnace’s Casey Affleck and Kate Winslet. Hillcoat, who just helmed that distinctive Super Bowl spot for Coke, wrote the script with Matt Cook. Open Road will release the film in 2015.
The rights deal comes on the eve of the European Film Market, where Sierra/Affinity is handling international sales for the project and will sell select territories in Berlin. In the drama, a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist. The only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for “officer down”. Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck, action-packed finale filled with double-crosses, greed and revenge. Read More »
K5 International has boarded international sales on futuristic actioner Vice, starring Bruce Willis. K5 Media Captial has also come aboard to finance with Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films. Shooting starts in Alabama next month on the movie that’s set in a resort where the rich live out their most perverse fantasies via synthetic humanoids. When one becomes self-aware and breaks out, she seeks her revenge. Willis plays the resort’s owner and Ambyr Childers is the renegade android. Thomas Jane has also joined the cast. Brian A. Miller is directing from a script by Andre Fabrizio and Jeremy Passmore. Randall Emmett, George Furla and Adam Goldworm are producers. K5’s Oliver Simon and Daniel Baur are exec producing with Grindstone Entertainment’s Barry Brooker and Stan Wertlieb. Lionsgate is releasing in the U.S.
Tom Hiddleston will play the lead in High-Rise, the upcoming film from producer Jeremy Thomas. Ben Wheatley (A Field In England) directs the picture that’s based on J.G. Ballard’s 1975 thriller. Amy Jump adapted the book that centers on a luxurious London residential tower so advanced, it’s a world apart. But things begin to degenerate and the tenants turn against one another. Hiddleston plays a young doctor seduced by the building who finds himself in the middle of mounting violence. Wheatley, whose … Read More »
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Writer-director Paco Cabezas’ heist thriller Men With No Fear is coming to Berlin’s European Film Market this month, with Nicolas Cage in negotiations to star and The Exchange setting a deal to finance and sell worldwide rights. Bryan Singer and Jason Taylor of Bad Hat Harry Productions are producing. The movie centers on Marty ‘The Mule,’ newly released from prison after being set up by his former boss Frank, a smalltime neighborhood crook. While Mule was locked up, Frank went big time and became a ruthless drug kingpin. But Frank also took Mule’s most precious item — his son, raising him like his own. But now Mule is back on the streets and ready for revenge. Read More »
SC Films International’s ‘Skin Trade’ Sets Cast
SC Films International has lined up Dolph Lundgren, Tony Jaa, Ron Perlman, Peter Weller, Michael Jai White, Celina Jade and Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa for action thriller Skin Trade. Ekachai Uekrongtham directs the film, which has just started principal photography in Bangkok. From a screenplay by Gabriel Dowrick, Steven Elder and Lundgren, Skin Trade tells the story of a New York City detective who, after his family is killed by a Serbian crime boss, heads to Bangkok and teams up with a Thai detective to get revenge and bring down a worldwide human trafficking ring. Lundgren, Craig Baumgarten and SC Films’ Mike Selby are producers.
BBC Films Options Novel ‘That Part Was True’
BBC Films has optioned Deborah McKinlay’s novel That Part Was True. The story follows the relationships between a UK divorcée and a U.S. author through their shared love of food and cooking. The book is due to be published in the UK by Orion. There are no details on timing for a feature transfer, but BBC Films chief Christine Langan says, “That Part Was True is a stunning novel: Deborah is a wonderful storyteller whose characters leap off the page, their dilemmas subtly touching modern nerves.” BBC Films recent credits include Saving Mr Banks, Philomena, The Invisible Woman and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. It’s got Pascal Chaumeil’s … Read More »
Galavant has found its king. Psych standout Timothy Omundson has been cast as the second lead opposite Joshua Sasse in ABC’s single-camera pilot Galavant, a comedy fairytale written by Dan Fogelman, with Oscar-winning composer Alan Menken writing the music. Galavant centers on handsome Prince Galavant (Sasse) — a classic once-upon-a-time hero, complete with sword, horse, great hair, courage, mad skills (like dragon-slaying and helping the poor) — and his quest for revenge over the evil King Richard (Omundson) who stole his one true love, the beautiful Madalena (Mallory Jansen). To Galavant’s shock, Madalena decided she prefers the King and his wealth and power to the love of penniless Galavant.
Related: Primetime Pilot Panic!
I hear Omundson was Fogelman’s pick for the pivotal role from the get-go, and while it took a while, the actor was ultimately cast as King Richard, the last remaining part in the pilot which is about to begin production in London. Omundson, repped by Innovative Artists and manager Mike Bircumshaw, recently wrapped his eight-season turn as Detective Lassiter on USA’s dramedy Psych.