EXCLUSIVE: Provocative British reality format Sex Box is getting a U.S. adaptation. WE tv has ordered an hourlong pilot for the project from Relativity Media. In Sex Box, real couples whose relationships are on the rocks enter a soundproof box to have sex and, upon exit, immediately address their issues with a panel of experts. According to the producers, the “in the moment” approach “fosters conversations about intimacy that are completely filterless and emotionally honest.” This marks one of the first major green lights for Marc Juris, who took the reins of WE in October as president. “Sex Box is an intriguing and original concept from a top production partner and we’re very excited about its potential, which has already been clearly demonstrated overseas – where it’s a hit,” he said.
Sex Box originated as a reality special on UK’s Channel 4 (watch it below) where it drew an overnight audience of 906,000 last October (1.2 million cumed) and attracted a lot of traditional media and social media attention. It was produced by Clearstory, with Relativity acquiring the rights and pitching it to U.S. networks. WE tv is coming off a solid first season for its newest series, SWV Reunited, which averaged 1.2 million viewers.
Fox’s Empire has rounded out its cast with the signing of Kaitlin Doubleday (Catch Me If You Can) as a series regular. Fox’s hip-hop industry drama pilot from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong and Brian Grazer, centers on Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), a charismatic, savvy music superstar who is about to take his company, Empire Entertainment, public. Doubleday will play Rhonda, the wife of Lucious’ oldest son Andre (Trai Byers), a sexy, manipulative woman who shares Andre’s Ivy League background and intends to help him scrap his way to the head of Empire. Paradigm-repped Doubleday appeared in features Home Of Phobia and Waiting and ABC’s Cavemen.
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EXCLUSIVE: Starz Digital has sealed the deal on Zeke and Simon Hawkins’ directorial debut We Gotta Get Out Of This Place after a courtship that began last September at the Toronto Film Festival. The gritty South Texas-set thriller premiered at TIFF before winning the Audience Award at AFI Fest and stars up-and-comers Jeremy Allen White (Shameless), Mackenzie Davis (That Awkward Moment, AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire), and Logan Huffman (V) as teenage pals in a dead-end town who are forced to pull off a heist by a brutal cotton farmer (LOST‘s Mark Pellegrino). William Devane and Jon Gries also co-star in the pic, which was scripted by Dutch Southern and produced by Justin Duprie and Brian Udovich for Rough & Tumble Films. “I hope this can become a Red Rock West kind of film, where a kid coming up 20 years from now says they saw it and it inspired them to become a filmmaker,” Udovich told Deadline. Starz acquired all rights for the U.S. and Canada and is plotting a late summer/early fall limited theatrical run and multiplatform digital and VOD release. The company’s been pacting left and right on TV and film projects; this marks the second feature acquisition announced during SXSW by Starz’s Head of Acquisitions Kevin Kasha, who moved … Read More »
On the heels of getting her first pilot order, drama writer-producer Nikki Toscano also has landed her first overall deal. Toscano has signed a two-year overall pact with Universal TV, the studio behind her pilot as well as the series she has been working on, A&E’s Bates Motel. Toscano’s drama pilot at CBS, which she is executive producing with Bates Motel co-showrunner Kerry Ehrin, centers on a retired CIA operative who, when a terrorist event rocks Washington, D.C., is pulled back into action, forced to investigate closer to home where the next generation of terrorists are being bred. “We have greatly valued the work of Nikki on Universal Television’s Bates Motel this season and it’s been a terrific experience developing a new drama pilot with her for CBS,” Uni TV EVP Bela Bajaria said. “We’re eager to work for many years to come with this talented writer/producer.” Toscano, repped by UTA, manager Carel Cutler and attorney Patti Felker, previously worked as a producer on the first two seasons of ABC’s Revenge.
The legal standoff between director Lynne Ramsay and the producers of Jane Got A Gun has ended in a draw, almost a year after the helmer abruptly left the pic on the first day of production. “Jane Got a Gun Production LLC and Lynne Ramsay announce the pending civil action and all other disputes between the parties associated with Jane Got a Gun Motion Picture have been resolved privately and to their mutual satisfaction,” the producers of the indie Western and Ramsay said today. While no details of a settlement are known, the plaintiffs last month halted their breach of contract and fraud complaint filed against Ramsay in federal court (read that order here). In the original filing last November, Jane Got A Gun Production sought an injunction to force Ramsay’s agency WME to hand back $360,000 it claimed was being held in escrow. They also asked for more than $500,000 in damages to be determined at trial for Ramsay’s conduct on the film and her quick exit before filming started.
Ramsay abruptly left Jane Got A Gun on March 18, 2013, after supposedly delaying the start of filming twice on the pic produced by and starring Natalie Portman. The producers said WME didn’t return their money despite “multiple requests” and that Ramsay told the agency not to hand over the cash. Soon after the complaint was filed, Ramsay said in a … Read More »
Pay TV is “a pretty imperfect market. It isn’t like anything sold at Walmart, I can tell you that,” DirecTV CEO Michael White said as he outlined his initiatives to an investor group. By mid-year he plans to “simplify our offer structure” and also provide his satellite customers with “a two-page bill that you can actually understand.” The change is partly an outgrowth of his view that the pay TV industry is “not very good….There’s a lot of ways to do things better.” That’s important because, now that the industry’s mature, “it’s harder and harder for things not to devolve into price competition….We’ve all made our business more complicated than the average consumer understands and that creates challenges for the bill down the road.” White reiterated his view that consumers are getting squeezed as programming prices rise. “In an economy where consumer incomes for the bottom 60% are flat and content costs are growing double digits….consumers wouldn’t sign up for that if they had a choice. But they don’t have a choice.” White pointedly noted that mergers of distributors — including DirecTV and Dish Network — “would create a new balance of power.” Still, he isn’t confident that federal regulators would allow the satellite companies to combine, which would reduce the number of pay TV choices from three to two for about 40% of the population.
While Comcast’s planned $45.2B acquisition of Time … Read More »
Tonight at the the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony, chairman Bruce Rosenblum will detail plans of a major makeover for the organization, including an expansion of its North Hollywood headquarters, a $40 million fundraising drive, a spiffing up of its Emmy statuette logo – the org is even changing its name to the more straightforward “Television Academy.”
The Academy says it will break ground on a dramatic expansion of its NoHo Arts District campus the day after this year’s Emmycast on August 25. This state-of-the-art facility will enable the Academy to host “even more events with television’s game-changers,” Rosenblum said in this morning’s announcement (see his letter to members bel0w). In addition to the construction, the fundraising will be put to use boosting educational work and scholarship program.
Beyond simplifying its name, the TV Academy also retained brand-strategy firm Siegel+Gale to revise its logo. The Emmy trophy itself will not change, but its graphic depiction will. The new look is “a symbolic representation of where we’re headed,” Rosenblum told Deadline. ”If you look at the new image – it’s cleaner, a bit tighter and more contemporary. It was in alignment with an evaluation of our name. We looked at the name Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and it was a bit dated, a bit old fashioned.” The Academy even mulled dropping “television” from its name. “After a lot of thought and discussion what became clear to all of us that while the word ‘television’ means something different than it did 70 years ago when our academy was founded, the word continues to haves significant resonance and importance among people who enjoy what television is – it’s a reference to the content itself,” Rosenblum said. “When you talk about ‘watching television’ you’re talking about watching Breaking Bad or Walking Dead or The Big Bang Theory – you’re not talking about the box you used to watch in your living room.”
Here’s Rosenblum’s letter to members today: Read More »
Aussie-U.S. production company GRACE has acquired worldwide rights from Sony/ATV Music Publishing to The Beatles‘ catalog, a rare rights deal for the iconic band’s music that will be used to make the animated children’s series Beat Bugs, which is currently in development. The project is from GRACE principal Josh Wakely, who pitched Sony/ATV with the idea for the series, which uses original narratives interwoven with Beatles songs to tell the story of young bugs that live and learn life lessons in the magical universe of an overgrown backyard. Talks are underway with animation studios and licensees for distribution, with worldwide rights being sold by CAA and Hirsch, Wallerstein, Hayum, Matlof & Fishman. ”Josh’s ingenuity and creative exploration of these iconic songs in a wholly imaginative world was too good to pass up and the idea of opening up the single greatest music catalogue of the 20th Century to the next generation is something we are particularly excited about”, Sony/ATV managing director Damian Trotter said in a release announcing the tie-up.
Related: CBS To Salute The Beatles’ U.S. Debut In Grammy Special
The deal is a rarity for a catalog that has always been particular about how it is deployed — the band’s albums were slow in CD adaptation in the 1980s and weren’t available on iTunes until 2010. The Beatles are no strangers to animation — the 1968 animated fantasy pic Yellow Submarine spawned a … Read More »
True Blood‘s Anna Camp has closed a deal for what is considered the lead role in Lauren Iungerich’s ABC comedy pilot Damaged Goods, from WBTV. It revolves around damaged men and damaged women who explore the minutiae of love and relationships. A smart and successful lawyer, Nicole (Camp) is totally bewildered and betrayed when her boyfriend Tim (Justin Hartley) tells her he can’t be happy for her or continue to date if she takes the promotion she was offered at the law firm where they both work — the promotion he expected to get. Steve Talley and Kellee Stewart co-star. Camp was very busy last season, juggling roles on True Blood, Fox’s The Mindy Project and CBS’ Vegas.
Having a controversial Bachelor like Juan Pablo Galavis helped the reality franchise close out the season with solid numbers. The two-hour Bachelor finale drew a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49. That was up 39% from last week for a season high and down just a tenth from the fast national last season despite the closer facing NBC’s The Voice this time vs. The Biggest Loser last year. The Bachelor: After the Final Rose at 10 PM drew a 3.8, even with last year’s special and the top program of the night, edging NBC’s The Voice (3.7). ABC won the night in 18-49 with a season high 3.4, edging NBC (3.3).
The usual top two demo players at 8 PM, NBC’s The Voice (3.7) and CBS’ How I Met Your Mother (2.7) both were down 18% from last week to tie season lows. HIMYM‘s declines have been puzzling – the departing comedy, which should’ve been gaining momentum heading into its March 31 finale, is on a three-week ratings downtrend since returning post-Olympics at the midpoint of its six-episode final run. CBS went for a checkered air pattern last night with HIMYM, Mike & Molly and Intelligence originals sandwiching 2 Broke Girls and Mom repeats. Mike & Milly (1.8) fell 18% to a series low. But Intelligence (1.3) perked up a tenth after three weeks at a 1.2.
Following The Voice, NBC previewed new drama Believe, from Oscar-winning Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron. It … Read More »
Main Street Films has set a June 27, 2014 theatrical release for La Bare, which takes an insider’s look at the history, lives and culture of the most popular male strip club in the world, La Bare Dallas. Joe Manganiello, who played Big Dick Richie in Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum’s male-stripper pic Magic Mike, directed the docu and produced with his brother Nick through their 3:59 Inc shingle. Movie Package Company’s Raymond Mansfield and Shaun Redick executive produced. Main Street nabbed distribution rights out of Slamdance this year in a big deal for the fest: The pact was worth mid-six-figures for North American and Chinese rights and included a commitment by the distributor for a 20-market U.S. theatrical release.
Ben Daniels (House of Cards, Law & Order: UK) has been tapped to star in Starz’s ballet drama Flesh And Bone from executive producers Lawrence Bender, Kevin Brown and John Melfi and creator/exec producer Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad). Described as a dark and gritty exploration of the dysfunction and glamour of the ballet world, Flesh And Bone follows a young ballet dancer, Claire (Sarah Hay), who has a distinctly troubled past, as she joins a prestigious ballet company in New York. Daniels, repped by Elizabeth Wierderseim at Gersh and Hamilton Hodell in the UK, will star as the volatile and brilliant artistic director Paul Grayson. Flesh And Bone is set to debut on Starz in 2015.
Saturday Night Live alum Nora Dunn is set as a series regular in Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero’s CW drama pilot iZombie, from Warner Bros. TV. iZombie is a supernatural crime procedural that centers on a med student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the coroner’s office to gain access to the brains she must reluctantly eat to maintain her humanity, but with each brain she consumes, she inherits the corpse’s memories. Dunn, repped by Pakula King & Associates and Lighthouse Entertainment, will play Eva Moore, mother to the lead character Olivia (TBD) and hospital administrator. Dunn will reprise her role as Dr. Marcus in Doug Ellin’s upcoming Entourage movie for Warner Bros. Other … Read More »
“We’re all in the process — and Warner Bros is in the center of it — of figuring out how to license and expose programming” over multiple platforms, the Time Warner CEO says. “The economics have to adjust.” But Jeff Bewkes told the Deutsche Bank Annual Media, Internet & Telecom Conference that he expects little or no cannibalization as TV shows move from networks to cable VOD and online services including Netflix, as well as traditional syndication. “Your interest may go up, not down. We’ve seen a lot of that at HBO….There’s a lot of repeat viewing.” Some analysts are beginning to wonder whether services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime — which thrive from their ability to show TV reruns — might suffer as programmers let cable companies offer episodes almost immediately after they first air on ad-supported VOD where fast-forwarding is disabled. But Bewkes says that TV viewing “will go up dramatically because there’ll be more opportunities for you to see it.…TV will become more accessible and you’ll still have your [online subscription VOD] backup service. It’s like a sandwich. Eat it while it’s hot.” Read More »
BREAKING: Sony Pictures made a pre-emptive deal for Death Of A Heart, an in-progress book by Howard Blum, a true female -driven WWII spy story that is as much a character tale as a suspenseful espionage story. Mark Gordon producing. Hannah Minghella and Lauren Abrahams will oversee for Sony Pictures along with Michele Wolkoff and Sara Smith for the Mark Gordon Company. Paradigm’s Bob Bookman brokered a deal I’m told the deal was mid six figures against nearly a million. The deal comes as Blum has two other book to movie adaptations in the works. Dark Invasion, a true WWI spy story about the birth of terrorism that was published by HarperCollins, is being adapted by Warner Bros with Bradley Cooper attached to star and produce with John Lesher. Taylor Sheridan has written the script. Blum’s book, The Floor Of Heaven, is being adapted by Chernin Entertainment and Fox, and they have a script by The Fighter‘s Scott Silver and are out to directors.
The recent uptick in serious movies based on true stories bodes well for a guy like Blum, who has long done well finding film friendly true stories. It has helped his book business as well. Here’s a trailer for Blum’s book that is being used as a book promo:
CBS is mounting its most aggressive summer schedule with four original scripted dramas and three nights of Big Brother. As the network announced in January, last summer’s breakout Under The Dome will return for a second season on June 30, airing in its old Monday 10 PM slot. The new sci-fi drama series from Under The Dome executive producer Steven Spielberg, Extant, was originally slated to debut two days later, on July 2. That has now been pushed back a week to July 9 so the new series starring Halle Berry can get a longer promo push of its own, after Under The Dome has already premiered, including ads in three more Big Brother originals. CBS’ summer reality staple is back in its old Wednesday-Thursday-Sunday airing pattern beginning June 25. For years, Big Brother had launched after July 4. CBS was happy with the results from last summer’s move of the premiere date two weeks earlier and is sticking with the same early rollout this year. The reality veteran will be used to launch two new drama series, Extant on Wednesday and Reckless on Sundays. The soapy legal drama, originally picked up for midseason, has been pushed to summer, premiering on June 29. CBS’ only midseason drama slot available was the undesirable Friday 8 PM, so the network opted for a summer run instead. Unforgettable, which aired in the post-Big Brother Sunday slot last year, will shift an hour to 10 PM this summer. It’s probably too early to read much into the CBS summer repeat schedule (Friends With Better Lives has not even premiered yet) but still, encouraging news for the network’s Monday comedy block as of next month, with 2 Broke Girls, Friends With Better Lives, Mike & Molly and Mom all listed, along with the certain-to-be-renewed Big Bang Theory and The Millers on Thursday.
Here’s the network’s summer schedule: Read More »
Inspired by the two-decade agenting career of Dominique Besnehard at France’s biggest talent house Artmedia, the six-part comedy 10% will shoot this summer for national broadcaster France 2. Besnehard is a former casting director and prolific actor who went on to be arguably the best-known agent in the local business. At one time or another, he represented such talent as Isabelle Adjani, Juliette Binoche, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eva Green, Jacqueline Bisset, Michael Vartan, Alain Chabat, Rupert Everett, Eric Cantona, Jean-Louis Trintignant, François Ozon and Claire Denis. I’m told the series is currently casting for three principal roles and promises a big-name guest star inserted each week to play themselves. While I’m not convinced this is a series that could travel — it’ll depend on the execution and how inside baseball the comedy is — it could be an interesting look at the cultural differences in the French agency business compared to the frenetic Hollywood version depicted in the popular HBO series Entourage. For instance, did you know that Artmedia, for one, turns on a non-message-taking answering machine for an hour at lunchtime? Read More »