It wasn’t an A-list star or surprise announcement that scored the biggest reaction during Fox‘s mammoth Comic-Con panel — it was rapper Biz Markie, who joined producer Guillermo del Toro‘s Book Of Life gang onstage belting his 1989 anthem “Just A Friend” in a moment of random pop culture mishmash. The song is covered in the 3D animated feature from director Jorge Gutierrez, a dazzlingly designed romantic adventure inspired by the Mexican Day of the Dead holiday and produced by Reel FX that Fox will open on October 17.
The original story follows Manolo (Diego Luna), who must fight for his lady love when spirits La Muerte (Kate del Castillo) and Xibalba (Ron Perlman) meddle in the world of the living. A trailer introduced to the Hall H crowd gave fans their first taste of Book, filled with Latin-inspired designs, a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” sung by lovesick matador Manolo, and the voice work of Ice Cube dropping his wink-wink line, “Today was a good day.”
Related: Guillermo Del Toro Comes Aboard Animated ‘Day Of The Dead’
The Day of the Dead holiday, celebrated around the world, served as a springboard for award-winning animator Gutierrez to fold in many elements of his Mexican heritage. “The Day of the Dead is very near and dear to my heart,” he said. “Got married on the Day of the Dead because I wanted my best friend who passed away to be my best man, and I knew he would be there. The core belief of the holiday is that as long as we tell stories of those came before us, sing their songs, and cook their dishes, they’re with us.” Read More »
Peter Sarsgaard has been cast as the lead in NBC’s The Slap. Also cast in a lead role in the 8-hour miniseries, based on the 2011 Australian short-run series, is Weeds‘ Mary-Louise Parker. The Slap is described as a complex family drama that explodes from one small incident where a man slaps another couple’s misbehaving child. The seemingly minor domestic dispute pulls the family apart, begins to expose long-held secrets, and ignites a lawsuit that challenges the core American values of all who are pulled into it.
Sarsgaard will play Hector, a husband and father who loves his wife and family but shows signs of weakness when he finds himself succumbing to the advances of his wife’s teenaged receptionist during his own party. Hector’s cousin is the one who slaps the child. Parker will play Anouk, a close friend of Hector’s who’s the head writer on a TV show and is now dating the younger leading man. Sarsgaard, repped by CAA, Jon Rubenstein at Authentic, and Jodi Peikoff, and Parker are the first actors cast in The Slap, written by Jon Robin Baitz and to be directed by Lisa Cholodenko (the first two hours) for Universal TV and Australia’s Matchbox Pictures, producer of the original series. Baitz, Cholodenko and Matchbox’s Tony Ayres executive produce with Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald as well as Ted Gold. Read More »
UPDATE: Microsoft just released this first-look trailer of Halo: Nightfall, the live-action series coming in November from Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions and Microsoft’s 343 Industries. The story is set between the events in the fourth and fifth Halo video games (Halo 5: Guardians is coming next year).
The live-action five-part series follows a new character, Jameson Locke (played by Mike Colter (The Good Wife)), described as “a legendary manhunter and agent with the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), Earth’s most powerful and secretive military branch.” After a biological attack, Locke and his unit unravel a plot and track down an ancient artifact. The series will be part of The Master Chief Collection, the remastered set of the first four Halo games that Microsoft announced during E3 last month and set to debut in November.
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DreamWorks Animation might take it as a good sign that the mere sound of Benedict Cumberbatch‘s voice — and the vision of him in character as an animated wolf in Penguins Of Madagascar – elicited screams in Hall H this morning at Comic-Con. Cumberbatch, who’s making his first stop at the San Diego fan convention this year, also stars in Comic-Con fave Sherlock and Peter Jackson’s upcoming The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies. Not that distracting Sherlock chatter was welcome at the DWA panel: “Any questions about Sherlock, and Comic-Con is CANCELLED,” joked moderator Craig Ferguson.
Cumberbatch stars in Penguins as Classified, the leader of secret animal agent operation The North Wind who teams with Skipper, Kowalski, Rico, and Private to stop new villain Dr. Octavius Brine. John Malkovich stars as Brine and also made his maiden voyage to San Diego Comic-Con for the panel. “This your first Comic-Con? You’ll fit right in,” Ferguson quipped to Malkovich. Studio pushed the Madagascar spin-off hard, unveiling 20 minutes of footage from the November 26 release.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Penguins Of Madagascar’
There is also speculation and hotfire rumors that Cumberbatch will be announced to star in Doctor Strange, Marvel’s franchise-launching film that will be directed by Scott Derrickson and penned by Jon Spaihts. Cumberbatch has been deflecting questions left and right — maybe more clarity is to come at the Marvel presentation Saturday?
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From the clips they showed today at Comic-Con, the second season of Under The Dome is about to get a lot harsher. Big Jim is on the warpath, Barbie is on the move and what’s underneath Chester’s Mill might turn out to be as deadly as the dome that’s over top of it. ”No one is safe under the dome,” said executive produce Neal Baer today about whether more characters would die on the CBS summer drama.
“We kept the body count down for the beginning of the season so we can rev it up towards the end,” Baer added during today’s panel discussion. “There are no set rules,” the EP also remarked about whether killed-off characters could come back.
A five-minute clip of Episode 7 was shown during the panel, hinting with Mike Vogel’s character Dale “Barbie” Barbara falling into a deep cavern that the dome may prove not to so impregnable. “One of our characters might get out of the dome this season, literally,” said Baer. “We just finished shooting last week and we know the ending but we won’t tell you.” The episode airs August 11. Read More »
Samuel Goldwyn Films has acquired North American rights to A Year In Champagne. Writer-director David Kennard’s follow-up to A Year In Burgundy focuses on France’s most famous beverage and was bought after screening at the Santa Barbara and Palm Beach fests. Pic will be released in the spring. We like drinking it but watching it? There is a lot of ground covered here. Pic covers the beverage’s history, grim and bloody, swept by war and destruction from Attila the Hun to the filthy trenches of WWI and the Nazi depredations of WWII. The environment for winemaking is desperately hard — northerly latitude, chalky soil, copious rain, frost, rot. Yet it’s these difficulties that help make the wine unique.
Said Kennard: “The winemakers of Champagne hold their secrets close to their chest: Who would guess that the world’s most famous wine is produced in a place with such bad weather and such a hair-raising history? Only by living amongst them for all four seasons of the year – as we did – are their secrets revealed: their sheer chutzpah, their reliance on luck and their enormous skill to conjure up the most magical, joyful drink from the most unpromising beginnings.”
Comic-Con 2014 officially opens today and tens of thousands are descending on San Diego to pick up their passes and prepare for four days of special screenings, studio and network panels, and previews. Having already hit the ground running, Deadline is here with Mike Fleming Jr leading our film coverage along with Jen, while Dominic and Anthony D’Alessandro handle the TV side. (Dominic will also be moderating FX’s Archer panel this year.)
Of course, veteran heavyweights like HBO’s Game Of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead will be packing the mammoth Hall H on the TV side. HBO’s True Blood, a longtime fave in its final season, is set to make its Comic-Con bow Saturday in Ballroom 20, as is Showtime’s Penny Dreadful, which just wrapped its first season and has its panel this evening. Repping the big screen side, studios are putting their tentpole wares out there with presentations by Marvel and Warner Bros with The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies and Mad Max: Fury Road among others.
Below we spotlight a few special events on the schedule that you don’t want to miss. (For the full TV and film lineups, go here and here.) Read More »
UPDATE, 6:52PM: President Obama addressed a crowd of about 450 supporters tonight during a fundraiser hosted by Shonda Rhimes and her Scandal star Kerry Washington. According to White House pool reports, the president gave his traditional fundraising remarks but couldn’t resist citing the ABC drama about a D.C. fixer and her capital intrigue. “No offense — Scandal is a great show,” Obama said, “but it’s not something that we necessarily want to be living out day in, day out.” Earlier, Washington introduced Rhimes as “my boss,” then the prolific producer said of the president, “He’s been doing his job like a boss.” Obama later complimented Washington, saying “there were few people who worked harder” on his campaign than she did. Rhimes also was a big supporter of both of his presidential bids as a donor and a volunteer – even pitching in at a campaign phone bank. Singer Janelle Monae also was there, and the president joked about her having a video of him trying to keep up with Usher on the dance floor. ” Now, this is top secret,” he said of the video. “She has promised that this will never be released. But she can blackmail me at any time.” He joked later, “I did not drop in splits, but I did bust a move.”
Related: Obama Names ‘Scandal’ Creator Shonda Rhimes To Kennedy Center Board
Pool reports say the commander in chief arrived at Rhimes’ Spanish-style Hancock Park home a little after 5PM. With tickets ranging from $1,000 to $32,400, the event was held in the backyard, which was adorned with white umbrellas and U.S. and California flags. Among the guests were various members of the Scandal cast such as on-air President Fitz Grant, played by Tony Goldwyn. HBO’s Michael Lombardo, who held an event recently at his home with Michelle Obama, and ABC’s Paul Lee were also in attendance this evening. The President is staying overnight in Beverly Hills and has another fundraiser set for tomorrow at the home of Live Nation head honcho and transplanted Canadian Michael Rapino – so expected more traffic delays on Wednesday.
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Andre Gregory spent 14 years rehearsing the play. Jonathan Demme took one week to film it. The extraordinarily engaging result is A Master Builder, which went into limited release today at New York’s Film Forum. It’s a movie that benefits from one director’s obsession with allowing his actors to live in their roles over time with another’s burst of creative energy. You can sense both up on the screen in this film of a story that might easily have seemed dated but instead comes across as a chilling tale — a “haunted house story” as Demme describes it. And perhaps just as important, it should mark the second time Gregory has introduced an actress who gives every sign of becoming a star. Her name is Lisa Joyce.
“She’s astounding,” Gregory told me in an interview from his home on Cape Cod. “I am hoping that my work with Lisa will have the same impact as my work with Julianne Moore did.”
A little history, then. In 1994, the late French director Louis Malle filmed Gregory’s equally long-aborning production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, starring Wallace Shawn in the title role and Moore as Yelena, the object of his (and every other male character’s) desire. It remains arguably the best film adaptation of a Chekhov play, and it figured prominently in launching Moore’s stellar career. Read More »
Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development) has joined the fourth season of ABC’s D.C. drama Scandal in a “top secret” recurring role. Her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, first tweeted the news. We’ll have to wait until Scandal returns on September 25 to find out what the role is.
De Rossi’s other TV credits include Better Off Ted, Nip/Tuck, and Ally McBeal.
Chance Kelly (Generation Kill) has been cast as recurring in NBC‘s upcoming series Aquarius, a gritty 1960s drama about a cop (David Duchovny) who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. Kelly, repped by Abrams Artists Agency, will play Officer Ed Cutler who works with Duchovny’s character at the LAPD. Kelly will also be recurring on TNT series Legends starring Sean Bean slated to premiere in August.
David Andrews (Fight Club, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines) has been booked as recurring on ABC thriller The Whispers, from ABC Studios and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV. It focuses on an an unseen force that is manipulating society’s most innocent – our children – to act in favor of its cause. As the kids unwittingly help this unknown enemy, the clock counts down in a suspenseful race to save humanity. Andrews, repped by Mavrick Artists and Untitled, will play U.S. Secretary of Defense Frommer in a minimum 6-episode arc. Frommer is always in control, calmly authoritative, steely and uncompromising. He meets with Wes regarding Captain Bennigan’s possible survival after the plane crash, surprising Wes by letting him know that Bennigan was working secret ops. He is, however, very concerned about how much Bennigan’s wife may know.
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EXCLUSIVE: After wrapping Joe Wright’s Pan picture in London, Rooney Mara will head for the Jim Sheridan-helmed The Secret Scripture. The drama, about a 100-year-old woman named Roseanne who recounts her life in mental institutions in a secret memoir, is gearing up for a September shoot in Ireland. Jessica Chastain was previously attached to star alongside Vanessa Redgrave, but now Mara will play the younger Roseanne, who survives a traumatic childhood only to see her life utterly changed by a vindictive Catholic priest. Pic reunites Sheridan with his My Left Foot producer Noel Pearson and is adapted by Johnny Ferguson from Sebastian Barry’s 2008 novel of the same name. Rooney is also currently developing A House In The Sky with Annapurna Pictures, which she’ll star in and produce. She’s repped by WME and Management 360.
EXCLUSIVE: Building on their already established relationship, the companies today announced a co-production partnership for a series of CG-animated movies to be directed byWill Vinton. Vinton is, of course, the Oscar-winning filmmaker behind Claymation. Launched last year by CEO Darius Kamali, animation and social gaming production companyGnosis Moving Pictures will team up with Vinton Entertainment for a slate that will include the previously announced last year The Quest. The Monty Python-esque comedy that Vinton co-wrote is set in outer space and features the voice of an actual Python, John Cleese. Other pics in the works include Jack Hightower, a comedic action adventure based on the Dark Horse graphic novel about a macho secret agent who’s shrunk to the size of a hotdog and Moby & Dick, a tale about the bond between fathers and sons, inspired of course by the classic Harold Melville novel. There’s also Nicholas, a mix of 3D stop-animation and CGI, an action-adventure story based on L. Frank Baum’s novel The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus.
“Our partnership with animation icon Will Vinton is poised to produce engaging and thought-provoking animated content for children and families from one of the best in the business,” said Gnosis’ Kamali. “We are looking forward to Will’s vision giving these animated stories life.” Vinton won an Academy Award for his 1974 animated short Closed Mondays and has four nominations since. He also directed the 1985 pic The Adventures Of Mark Twain. ” Together, we’ve got … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Aly Michalka and AJ Michalka have wrapped on an untitled indie dramedy for first-time feature writer-director Stephen Pierce Ringer. The musician-actress siblings known as Aly & AJ, who perform together as the musical duo 78violet, produced and starred in the film as two sisters on the cusp of adulthood spending their last week in their LA hometown before embarking on their next tour. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Animation has set Jimmy Miller’s Mosaic and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions on Manimal, the feature based on the cult 1980s TV show about a man who fights crime using his ability to morph into animals. Miller, Ferrell, and McKay will produce along with original series co-creator Glen A. Larson, and Key & Peele EPs Jay Martel and Ian Roberts already have been tapped to write.
The original 1983 series starred Simon MacCorkindale as Dr. Jonathan Chase, a dashing and wealthy man raised in Africa who was also “master of the secrets that divide man from animal.” It was cancelled after eight episodes, only to live on in the hearts of a devoted cult fandom (flash back with a clip from Manimal below). Sony Pictures Animation’s live-action/animation hybrid will reinvent that concept as an action-comedy with heavy visual effects and animated elements. SPA President of Production Michelle Raimo Kouyate and SVP Michael Lachance are overseeing for the studio. Read More »
CBS Films insiders confirm that about three weeks ago, CBS Films co-president Wolfgang Hammer quietly segued to become a consultant focusing on digital content. Among the youngest production presidents of a major company ever, Hammer ran the film division with Terry Press, who is alone at the top. Under Hammer, Les Moonves’s boutique film label went from an original mission to create homegrown films, and became a significant player in the acquisitions game in the last few years while the original productions percolated, often with good results. Last Vegas, a homegrown film, was a sleeper hit, and the label made its highest profile acquisition when it paid $4 million for Inside Llewyn Davis. That movie didn’t garner Oscar love in the major categories after the prestige folk music film got a rousing reaction at Cannes last year and won the Grand Prix, but it got CBS Films its first ever Oscar noms and Golden Globes, and grossed just north of $13 million domestic. That number could have been higher had Oscar voters embraced it more fully, the way critics did. The label has made other big festival buys including the Toronto acquisition Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to put itself on the map.
The label has What If opening in August, Pride in September and just wrapped the teen comedy The Duff for a February opening. One potential gem it hasn’t been able to get into production is the series of bestselling novels by author Vince Flynn featuring counter terrorism operative … Read More »
Earlier today, the London Film Festival set The Imitation Game as its opening-night gala. We now have a trailer courtesy of The Weinstein Co — which paid a whopping $7M for the Morten Tyldum-directed movie at the Berlin EFM in February. Benedict Cumberbatch stars in the story of Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win World War II. Winston Churchill said Turing’s was the single biggest contribution to Allied victory, but the brilliant scientist was later prosecuted by the UK government in 1952 for homosexual acts which the country deemed illegal. He died two years later and was just granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen in December last year. The film centers on Turing and his team’s race against time to break the Enigma code at Britain’s top-secret Bletchley Park facility. Graham Moore wrote the script. Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard also star. Weinstein will release in the awards-season corridor on November 21; Studiocanal releases a week earlier in the UK.
Lionsgate confirmed this morning what Vin Diesel has been saying over the weekend while doing press for Guardians Of The Galaxy: that Michael Caine has come aboard The Last Witch Hunter, the supernatural action film starring Diesel and Rose Leslie and directed by Breck Eisner. Summit is releasing the pic, about an immortal witch hunter (Diesel) who partners with his natural enemy, a female witch, to stop the covens of NY from unleashing a plague on humanity. Caine recently wrapped Paolo Sorrentino’s The Youth opposite Harvey Keitel and Rachel Weisz and his upcoming pics include Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and Matthew Vaughn’s The Secret Service. He is repped by ICM Partners, Jackoway Tyerman and 42 in the UK. Read More »
The 58th BFI London Film Festival will kick off October 8 with the European premiere of Morten Tyldum’s Alan Turing drama The Imitation Game. The selection will guarantee a starry opening night with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in attendance at the Odeon Liecester Square. The screening will also be simulcast to cinemas across the UK. Cumberbatch plays Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win World War II. The film is a nail-biting race against time by Turing and his brilliant team at Britain’s top-secret Bletchley Park code-breaking center. Matthew Goode, Mark Strong, Rory Kinnear, Charles Dance, Allen Leech and Matthew Beard also star. The Weinstein Co famously paid $7M for the film in a record-breaking deal at last February’s EFM in Berlin. It will release on November 21 in the U.S., and Studiocanal is releasing in the UK on November 14.
This is billed as a European premiere, so the film is expected to turn up at one of the fall festivals — two of which, Toronto and Venice, are announcing lineups this week. Last year, the London fest scored the Euro premiere of Captain Phillips as opener and the world premiere of Saving Mr Banks for the closing night. It’s a key venue for potential awards-season contenders to get out in front of all of those BAFTA voters, … Read More »