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Judge In ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Suit Denies Warner Bros’ Lawyer Disqualification Motion

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 12:27pm PDT

Judge In ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Suit Denies Warner Bros’ Lawyer Disqualification MotionA federal judge today has denied a motion seeking to disqualify lawyers repping the estate of The Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien in its $80 million copyright and digital merchandising lawsuit against Warner Bros and the Saul Zaentz Company. The studio and its partner in early June filed a motion to have Fourth Age’s lawyers, Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP, disqualified the almost-2-year-old suit ”because the firm impermissibly gained access to privileged information in violation of Rules of Professional Conduct.”

In today’s three-page order (read it here), U.S. District Court Judge Audrey Collins wrote that “Warner and Zaentz have not met their burden of showing that disqualification is necessary to preserve the integrity of these proceedings.” WB is repped by Daniel Petrocelli of LA firm O’Melveny & Meyers; Saul Zaentz Co is repped by Martin Glick of San Francisco firm Arnold & Porter LLP. Read More »

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Toronto Film Fest Will Close World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get Perches

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 8:40am PDT

Toronto Film Fest Will Close World Premiere of ‘A Little Chaos’; No Opener Yet; Jon Stewart, Chris Rock Get PerchesUPDATED, 8:40 AM: The 39th Toronto Film Festival, running September 4-14, will close with the world premiere of Alan Rickman’s A Little Chaos with Kate Winslet, Rickman, Matthias Schoenaerts and Stanley Tucci. The opening-night film was not announced at this morning’s press conference.

Alan Rickman Kate WinsletA Little Chaos is the perfect closing-night film – it transports audiences to another time, another place, full of beauty, complexity, rivalry, politics and romance,” said Toronto artistic director Cameron Bailey. “Alan Rickman’s film will wind audiences up just as our festival is winding down.”

In this sumptuous historical drama Sabine De Barra (Winslet)  —  a landscaper with a taste for the unconventional — is invited to design one of the fountains at the Palace of Versailles. As she battles with the weather, the perilous rivalries at the court of Louis XIV and her own private demons, she finds herself drawn inescapably closer to the formality and enigma of the architect who hired her.

Of the 13 Galas and 46 Special Presentations announced, the initial lineup includes 37 world premieres from directors including Noah Baumbach, Susanne Bier, Peter Ho-Sun Chan, David Dobkin, Philippe Falardeau, Mia Hansen-Løve, Ning Hao, François Ozon, Christian Petzold, Lone Scherfig and Chris Rock. Here’s the list: Read More »

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Insiders Confirm CBS Films Co-President Wolfgang Hammer Move To Digital

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 12:26am PDT
Mike Fleming

Insiders Confirm CBS Films Co-President Wolfgang Hammer Move To DigitalCBS 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 »

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TCA: FX’s ‘Fargo’ Coming Back As Prequel Set In ’79, With All-New Cast But Same Cold

TCA: FX’s ‘Fargo’ Coming Back As Prequel Set In ’79, With All-New Cast But Same ColdThe second season of FX’s Fargo will take place in Sioux Falls, S.D., in 1979, creator Noah Hawley said this afternoon at the TCA  Summer Press Tour. “If you were paying attention to Season 1, we made a lot of references to Sioux Falls,” he said told TV critics. Some of the second season also will take place in Luverne, Minn.

The season will be a prequel of sorts, in that the Lou Solverson character, played in Season 1 by Keith Carradine, will be back, only this time he’ll be just 33 years old and recently Fargo TCAback from Vietnam. “That time period is interesting — post-Vietnam, post-Watergate … the best of America versus worst,” Hawley said. “That sense, I think, that this war had come home with people, and the violence and brutality of it.”Lou Salverson went to Vietnam and came home, but now he’s come back and it’s here — it’s domestic.”

Related: TCA: FX Orders Second Installment Of ‘Fargo’, Fifth Season Of ‘Louie’

And while he said he would like nothing more than to see the continuing adventures of Molly and Gus, “I felt it would be disingenuous,” Hawly said of Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). Molly’s mom will be featured in Season 2 but will not be played by Tolman, despite urgings of several TV critics. “She should be in everything anybody ever made, as far as I’m concerned,” Hawley said. But he added that the idea of casting Tolman to play her character’s mother “seems a little gimmicky to me, and like cheating.” Using the same actors in different roles each season is “a brilliant turn on Ryan’s part, and he owns it — it would be imitative,” Hawley said of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, with its practice of bringing back actors in different roles each season.

Related: FX’s ‘Tyrant’ To Stay In Turkey For Remainder Of Season 1 Shoot

Read More »

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Brian Hallisay Joins ABC’s ‘Revenge’

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 12:00pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Brian Hallisay Joins ABC’s ‘Revenge’The Client List alum Brian Hallisay has been cast in the upcoming fourth season of ABC drama Revenge. He is set for a heavily recurring role with an option to become a regular in the second part of the season. Hallisay will play Ben, a local cop and a new friend of Jack (Nick Wechsler) who is fun-loving and easygoing and drawn to Jack’s world and especially to the people in it. Word is that Ben is eyed as a potential new love interest for Emily Thorne (Emily Van Camp). Hallisay, who recently wrapped Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper, has been on ABC and ABC Studios’ radar; he has been recurring on this season of their summer drama series Mistresses. He is with Management 360, the Kohner Agency and Jeff Bernstein.

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Oscar-Nominated Film Now Aiming To WIN An Emmy For Netflix – How Is It Eligible For Both?

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 11:39am PDT
Pete Hammond

Oscar-Nominated Film Now Aiming To WIN An Emmy For Netflix – How Is It Eligible For Both?The Squarea harrowing documentary about the Egyptian revolution as seen through the eyes of six of its participants, was Oscar-nominated in the 2013 Best Feature Documentary race. So how come it is suddenly a major contender at the Emmys too? Inquiries have come to our attention, including one calling for its withdrawal from Emmy competition, so I decided to check it out.

Daytime Emmy Awards WinnersThe film, which accounts for four of the impressive 31 Emmy nominations Netflix received this year, was picked up by the streaming service and qualified last year for the Oscar race with a seven-day run, according to the Television Academy, which has assured me they thoroughly examined this one. “The Square was not in general release prior to it TV appearance; rather, it qualified for the Oscars under the ‘one week NY-LA limited screening rule’ which would not have affected Emmy eligibility. Please know that we and the documentary peer group vetted the hell out of this one, and it’s good to Emmy go,” according to John Leverence, SVP Awards for the TV Academy. Read More »

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TCA: FX’s John Landgraf Talks ‘AHS: Freak Show’ & ‘Fargo’, Freshman Renewals, W. Kamau Bell

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 11:24am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

TCA: FX’s John Landgraf Talks ‘AHS: Freak Show’ & ‘Fargo’, Freshman Renewals, W. Kamau BellAt TCA today, FX Networks CEO John Landgraf sent a love letter to creators. “I love artists. I really, genuinely do. I want us to be the wind in their sails,” he said during the network’s executive session. Landgraf also assured critics that he plans to continue to take risks with concepts that are off-mainstream. “We’d rather fail spectacularly & nobly than succeed in a quiet, middling way,” he said. He gave an update on the evolution of FX and its up-and-coming sibling FXX, which has been running only comedy programming since its launch last fall. That may change. “It’s going to take awhile for the two brands to shake out… There wil be drama on both channels I think,” he said.

Related: TCA: The Gritty Reality Of Sex On FX’s ‘Married’ & ‘You’re The Worst’

Landgraf revealed details about the latest installment of American Horror Story, which has been flirting with Neil Patrick Harris for a part. “It will be set in 1950s and has a very different look from a designer standpoint. Some years, the show is big, brash and campy like Coven, some are dark and brooding like Asylum. Freak Show is half-way between these two.”

Related: TCA: Casting Directors Say They’re Color Blind When Choosing Actors

Landgraf gave AHS co-creator/executive producer Ryan Murphy props for introducing the “analogical miniseries” genre that has “created new opportunities for writers and creators” like Nic Pizzolatto with HBO’s True Detective and Noah Hawley with FX’s Fargo. Read More »

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Prophecy: Joseph Fiennes To Star As Vengeful ‘Nostradamus’ In Carnival, Anonymous Content Drama Series

Prophecy: Joseph Fiennes To Star As Vengeful ‘Nostradamus’ In Carnival, Anonymous Content Drama SeriesEXCLUSIVE: NBCUniversal-owned Downton Abbey producer Carnival Films is teaming with True Detective maker Anonymous Content on what they predict will be a provocative new series, Nostradamus. Joseph Fiennes will produce and play the titular clairvoyant in the hour-long drama. Charlotte Markham And The House Of Darkling author Michael Boccacino wrote the project that was developed in partnership with executive producer Andrew Cosby. The story follows the legendary seer as he seeks deadly vengeance for the murder of his family. A complex, brooding character with immense appetites, Nostradamus is a charismatic and self-destructive man who is plagued with dangerous and disturbing visions.

nostradamusThe period series is set against the backdrop of the volatile, high-stakes world of the French Royal Court where the Provençal apothecary’s pleasure-seeking impulses and passionate thirst for revenge run headlong into the treacherous epicenter of social and political life of Renaissance era Europe. The project is in early development and episode totals and broadcasters have yet to be set. But it looks likely this will be one of those that seeks out the high-end UK TV tax credit.

Carnival and Anonymous Content are both riding high these days, each receiving 12 Emmy nominations for Downton Abbey and True Detective, respectively. Fiennes, who is repped by Anonymous Content, The Artists Partnership and WME, last appeared on television in the 2nd season of American Horror Story. … Read More »

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TCA: Kobe Bryant Says Showtime’s ‘Kobe Bryant’s Muse’ Came Out Of Nike Campaign Mulling

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 5:05pm PDT

TCA: Kobe Bryant Says Showtime’s ‘Kobe Bryant’s Muse’ Came Out Of Nike Campaign Mulling“Sorry I was late, I was out looking for a head coach,” Kobe Bryant said after showing up about half an hour late to plug his autobiographical Kobe Bryant’s Muse, debuting on Showtime in the fall.

To pass the time, Showtime distributed bottles of sports drink, BodyArmor — a company in which Bryant is a major investor. On the bottle were tags that reminded TV critics the TV project is “a portrait of an elite athlete’s professional and personal journey.” Showtime has said Kobe Bryant’s Muse takes an in-depth look into the life, inspirations and challenges facing one of the most successful figures in professional sports.

Kobe Bryant's MuseBryant said he came up with the idea for Kobe Bryant’s Muse while lying in bed, mulling what to do for his next Nike campaign. He decided that, “now that my career is coming to an end” it would be “pretty cool to tell the genesis of where the mentality came from.” That’s the difference, he said, between this Kobe Bryant docu-mercial and an earlier Spike Lee Kobe Bryant documentary  — the one that debuted on ESPN in 2009 and focused on one day of the Los Angeles Lakers star’s season. Read More »

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Sony Pictures Acquires Book ‘Tupperware Unsealed’ For Sandra Bullock To Star And Tate Taylor To Adapt, Direct

Sony Pictures Acquires Book ‘Tupperware Unsealed’ For Sandra Bullock To Star And Tate Taylor To Adapt, DirectFox has its Miracle Mop project Joy with Jennifer Lawrence and director David O. Russell and now Sony Pictures’ has its Tupperware project. What’s next? Windshield wipers? Oh, wait, they made that movie already.

The+UK+premiere+of+The+Help+UJWMVVB-XP9lSony acquired author Bob Kealing’s non-fiction book Tupperware Unsealed for Sandra Bullock to star as the marketer extraordinaire behind the launch of Tupperware and its famous parties that made the storage product a household name and into the multi-billion company it still is today. Tate Taylor (The Help, Get On Up) will adapt, produce and direct this fun story about a divorcee from Detroit who convinced a plastics inventor to let her go crazy marketing a good product which, up until then, was getting little attention from consumers.
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Viral Sex Movies Catchy? CBS Films Acquires Viral Bachelor Party Comedy ‘Man Up’

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 3:53pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Viral Sex Movies Catchy? CBS Films Acquires Viral Bachelor Party Comedy ‘Man Up’UPDATE: Looks like I was premature in describing this as a sex tape movie. CBS Films informs me that yeah, there is a tape that circulates from a bachelor party that is the propulsion for the guys going to wilderness camp. But the guys in it keep their clothes on and merely act like complete doofuses and off they go to learn some street smarts. So the sex tape analogy has no staying power. Sorry about that.

EARLIER: While the rest of us will wait till the weekend climaxes to see if the Sony Pictures comedy Sex Tape measures up, others seem sold on the concept. CBS Films ends the week acquiring Man Up, a comedy that has Zac Levi attached to star and Hall Pass scribes Chris Pappas and Kevin Barnett writing. The log line: after a video of a disastrous and embarrassing bachelor party goes viral, four metro-sexual guys decide to go to survival camp and learn how to man up. Pic’s based on an idea by Levi.

Nicky Weinstock is producing with Levi. Invention Films’ Whitney Thomas will be exec producer. Levi recently starred in Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Squeakwel, lent his voice to Tangled, and was seen in Thor: The Dark World. CAA and Peter Principato rep Levi, Pappas and Barnett are at CAA with Jeff Okin at Anonymous.

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Dinesh D’Souza’s ‘America’ Slams Google Again Over Missing Search Results

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 1:20pm PDT

Dinesh D’Souza’s ‘America’ Slams Google Again Over Missing Search ResultsDinesh D’Souza and the team behind the recently released documentary America: Imagine The World Without Her still want to know why Google won’t display the show times for their movie. Earlier this week, lawyers for the conservative author/filmmaker sent a second letter to the tech giant’s chief legal officer David Drummond trying to get the situation resolved, I’ve learned. The July 16 letter from Sheppard, Mullin attorney Kelly Crabb requested “that Google correctly display information for America: Imagine The World Without Her in the same way it displays information for other movies currently in theaters.”

americaYou’d think that would be a simple enough request for one of the world’s top search engines. But in this case, you’d be wrong. “I don’t know what the point of a search engine is if people can’t access the information they’re looking for,” a frustrated D’Souza told me today. In addition to no showtimes listed, no click-through poster for the pic appears in the Google banner search result — though 2004′s Team America, Fox’s The Dawn Of The Planet Of The ApesTransformers: Age Of Extinction, Disney/Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the as-yet-unreleased The Avengers: Age Of Ultron do. Read More »

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Lifetime’s Aaliyah Biopic Will Try Again With Nickelodeon Star

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 11:52am PDT

Lifetime’s Aaliyah Biopic Will Try Again With Nickelodeon StarLifetime is dusting itself off with House Of Anubis actress Alex Shipp, who will now rock the boat in the network’s high-profile biopic of the late R&B singer Aaliyah.

Producers had to scramble when original star Zendaya pulled out of the project last month. Now filming’s back on track to start later this month according to talk show host and author Wendy Williams, who first tweeted the Shipp news this morning along with the announcement that she’s boarded the film as executive producer alongside Debra M. Chase. Read More »

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Around The Horn At Warner Bros; ‘Space Invaders’ And ‘Shining’ Prequel

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 11:23am PDT
Mike Fleming

Around The Horn At Warner Bros; ‘Space Invaders’ And ‘Shining’ PrequelCouple deals making at Warner Bros. Our sister publication Variety reports that Mark Romanek will direct Overlook Hotel, a Glen Mazzara-scripted prequel to Stephen King’s 1977 book The Shining, about the early days of the Overlook Hotel, glimpsed in the final scenes of the Stanley Kubrick-directed movie. Boy, these are big shoes to fill, including author and director. King didn’t much like Kubrick’s original take on his great novel, but even though it’s much different from King’s classic fiction, there must be a dozen unforgettable visual sequences in that movie–from the kid pedaling the big wheel on the wood, then carpet floors in the hallway, to the bloody elevator, to Heere’s Johnny, and others. Give Romanek points for being courageous enough to try and follow a master filmmaker.

Studio has also put in development Space Invaders, based on the 80s Japanese import arcade game. That one got set up at Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road. I guess that’s a brand, which is always a priority in tent pole Hollywood. Still, it is a long way from an arcade game to a satisfying theatrical experience.

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Fullscreen Launches First Live Event For Its Digital Stars

By | Friday July 18, 2014 @ 10:17am PDT

Fullscreen Launches First Live Event For Its Digital StarsFullscreen, the big YouTube multi-channel network and talent management group, has launched its first live event, partnering with Warped Tour producer Kevin Lyman and his 4Fini company to feature some of its big online stars and other up-and-comers that it hopes to groom into big stars. The Intour 2014 event on Sept. 13 at the Pasadena Convention Center will feature appearances by Connor Franta, Ricky Dillon, Jc Caylen, Sam Tsui, JennXPenn, Alx James, Brent Rivera, Crawford Collins, WeeklyChris, Dylan Dauzat, Charity Vance, and FreshBigMouf. Tsui, Vance and Mouf are all musicians who will perform. The others, as generally happens in these big social-media-driven live events, will perform comedy, create behind-the-scenes social-media content for YouTube and Vine, meet with fans and otherwise entertain the devout audiences of 14- to 21-year-olds who are showing up in droves. Vidcon in Anaheim, produced by author and online star John Green and his co-starring brother Hank, recently drew 18,000 attendees, while earlier this month, RTX in Austin, backed by Rooster Teeth Productions, drew 30,000. Events by companies such as the Ryan Seacrest-backed Digitour frequently draw 15,000 to 20,000 attendees at events in cities such as Toronto and New York.

“It’s a vehicle for our Fullscreen talent to be with fans, experiment and create,” said Fullscreen SVP Larry Shapiro, the former CAA executive who heads the company’s talent-management unit. “It gives the fans an opportunity to say, ‘I was there,’ and it gives creators an opportunity to meet other people in that space.”

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Bear Necessity: Ben Whishaw To Voice CG ‘Paddington’

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 4:21pm PDT

Bear Necessity: Ben Whishaw To Voice CG ‘Paddington’After parting company with original star Colin Firth, The Weinstein Co.’s fast-approaching Paddington Bear pic has found a new voice for its furry London-dwelling protagonist. Ben Whishaw has stepped in as the voice of Paddington, starring alongside Nicole Kidman, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, and Sally Hawkins in the live action/CG big-screen adventure adapted from UK author Michael Bond’s beloved children’s books. King’s Speech Oscar-winner Firth was set to play the CG bear for producer David Heyman and helmer Paul King before his voice was deemed not quite right for the character. His departure was announced last month. The Weinstein Co. releases the pic Christmas Day stateside, but overseas there’s more of a time crunch: Paddington opens in the UK, home base to the Peruvian-born Paddington Bear himself, on November 28.

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‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Enter Not Guilty Plea, Break Silence: “This Was Not A Crime”

By | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 2:02pm PDT

‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Enter Not Guilty Plea, Break Silence: “This Was Not A Crime”Midnight Rider director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin broke their months-long silence Thursday, calling the February 20 death of camera assistant Sarah Jones “a horrible tragedy and horrific accident.”

Jones, a well-liked 27-year-old crew member working on Miller and Savin’s Gregg Allman biopic, died when she was struck by a train on the Doctortown trestle in rural Georgia. Several other crew members were also injured in the tragedy which rippled through the production community and sparked industry-wide calls for increased safety measures on film and TV sets in Jones’ memory.

Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Turn Themselves In To Georgia Police

Miller and Savin served as producers on the Gregg Allman biopic via their Unclaimed Freight Productions banner and were charged with involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespassing along with executive producer/unit production manager Jay Sedrish earlier this month. They turned themselves into police in Wayne County, GA and were released on $27,700 bail on Sunday before returning home to California. Sedrish surrendered to authorities this morning and was released after posting a $27,700 cash bond. Per Georgia law, Miller and Savin waived an arraignment hearing and entered not guilty pleas this morning through their attorney, Don Samuels of Atlanta, GA.

In their statement, Miller and Savin emphasized their history of producing over 10 feature films and television projects with a self-described emphasis on crew safety. “In the weeks and months that follow when the true facts of the events are … Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘Midnight Rider’ Exec Producer Jay Sedrish Turns Himself In To Georgia Police, Following Randall Miller & Jody Savin

By and | Thursday July 17, 2014 @ 9:57am PDT

UPDATE: ‘Midnight Rider’ Exec Producer Jay Sedrish Turns Himself In To Georgia Police, Following Randall Miller & Jody Savin2ND UPDATE, THURSDAY 9:57 AM: Midnight Rider executive producer/unit production manager Jay Sedrish turned himself in this morning to the Wayne County, GA police and was booked and released after posting a $27,700 bond. This comes after his fellow filmmakers Randall Miller and Jody Savin turned themselves in earlier this week. All three were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones. They were also charged with criminal trespassing for filming on a train trestle when, according to police, they had no permit to shoot on the tracks.

Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Filmmakers Enter Not Guilty Plea, Break Silence: “This Was Not A Crime”

One of the key points in the case is that Wayne County Sheriff Sgt. Ben Roberston, in his initial report about the incident, wrote: “In my presence, Mr. Sedrish was asked by an employee of CSX if he had permission to be on the trestle or tracks and Mr. Sedrish replied, ‘That’s complicated.’ According to the CSX employee, the production company had previously been denied permission to film on the trestle, and there was electronic correspondence to verify that fact.”

Related: The Death Of Sarah Jones: Safety Concerns Raised Over ‘Midnight Rider’ Crew’s Previous Film In Georgia

Sarah Jones Midnight RiderUPDATE, Tuesday, 6:57 AM: As of this morning, Midnight Rider executive producer/unit production manager director Jay Sedrish has not yet turned himself in, but we are told he has another week and that arrangements are being made to meet that timetable. Here are the mugshots of director Randall Miller and producer Jody Savin, who along with Sedrish could face 10 years in prison for the tragic on-set death of camera assistant Sarah Jones. Read More »

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‘House Of Cards’ Emmy Nominee Carl Franklin Signs With Paradigm

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 4:52pm PDT

‘House Of Cards’ Emmy Nominee Carl Franklin Signs With ParadigmEXCLUSIVE: TV and film director Carl Franklin, who’s up for an Emmy for helming the Season 2 opener of Netflix drama House Of Cards, has signed with Paradigm.  He won the Indie Spirit Award for helming 1992 crime pic One False Move from a script by Billy Bob Thornton; last week Franklin earned his first Emmy nod for Outstanding Direction for House Of Cards episode “Chapter 14.” He was most recently on ICM’s client roster. Read More »

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