EXCLUSIVE: This was a very competitive signing, with all major agencies pursuing the Downton Abbey star who didn’t have an U.S. agency representation. WME will represent Michelle Dockery in all areas. Dockery’s role as Lady Mary Crawley on Downton Abbey, which returns for Season 4 on PBS January 5, earned the British actress two Emmy nominations and a Golden Globes nom. Dockery will next be seen in Universal’s Non-Stop, and she was just tapped to play Sir Ben Kingsley’s daughter in Self/Less for Focus. On stage, Dockery earned a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for her role in the play Burnt By The Sun. She continues to be managed by Sandra Chang at Anonymous Content and by Christian Hodell at Hamilton Hodell in the UK.
EXCLUSIVE: The Theatre Department of WME Entertainment has signed two estates of Broadway hitmakers. The agency now reps the estates of Jerome Robbins and August Wilson. This is significant since their works continue to be revived. Major hits that Robbins either directed or choreographed include The King And I, Fiddler On The Roof, West Side Story (which Robbins conceived as well as directed and choreographed), The Pajama Game, Peter Pan, Gypsy and On The Town. The latter has been the subject of speculation about a revival coming for next season or the one after, and one of the others is also going to be revived. Robbins won two Oscars and five Tony Awards. His estate had previously been handled by attorneys at Fitelson, Lasky, Asland, Couture & Garmise.
Wilson’s works include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences and The Piano Lesson, Joe Turner’s Come And Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, Jitney, Seven Guitars, King Hedley II, Gem Of The Ocean and Radio Golf. How I Learned What I Learned, a play about Wilson’s formative years as poet and writer, is currently playing off-Broadway. Wilson’s estate had been handled by his widow, Constanza Romero, the theater designer who met Wilson in 1990 when her Yale School of Drama profs sent her to design costumes for The Piano Lesson. They married four years later.
Nicole Richie has signed with WME. The web and reality TV personality and fashion maven can be seen on AOL web series #CandidlyNicole, each episode of which brings one of her tweets to life. Her TV credits include a mentor gig on Fashion Star, a guest judge role on Fashion Police and starring with Paris Hilton on The Simple Life for five seasons. She also has a fashion collection and apparel line and has written a novel loosely based on her life. Richie continues to be repped by Impression Entertainment and Grubman Indursky & Shire.
Cliff “Method Man” Smith has signed with UTA. He is shooting Tom McCarthy’s The Cobbler, starring Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman and Steve Buscemi, and recently wrapped the features Lucky N#mbr and Staten Island Summer. Next up is a voice role in the upcoming FX animated comedy Chozen, which focuses on a gay white rapper who’s fresh out of prison. Other credits include Red Tails, The Sitter, CSI and The Wire. Smith is managed by Shauna Garr and repped by Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz.
EXCLUSIVE: As he is pondering the next career move, Jeffrey Donovan, who is coming off a successful seven-season run on USA‘s Burn Notice, will be guided by WME. The actor, who was previously at Paradigm, became a household name as the lead of the USA spy drama created by Matt Nix. Donovan also directed multiple episodes of Burn Notice as well as the two-hour prequel movie The Fall Of Sam Axe. As director/producer, he has several projects in development at Fox TV Studios, which produced Burn Notice, and Crackle/Sony Pictures TV. His feature credits include Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar and The Changeling. Donovan continues to be repped by attorney David Matlof.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has scored a coup, signing Chris Terrio as the screenwriter comes off winning the Oscar for Argo. Terrio had been repped at CAA. While Terrio’s run goes back to writing and directing the 2005 pic Heights, his ascension to A-list scribe has been fairly recent. Ben Affleck has told me that after carving his previous directing vehicles from the ground up, he could not believe his good fortune when handed Terrio’s Argo script. Since then, Terrio has been writing one high-profile project after another. They include: another project for Argo producers George Clooney and Grant Heslov which is untitled but has Paul Greengrass attached to direct; adapting the Nathaniel Philbrick book Bunker Hill as a potential directing vehicle for Affleck; an adaptation of the Harlan Coben bestseller Tell No One for Universal and Focus; and A Foreigner, which Matt Damon might direct.
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Pelley is a star 60 Minutes correspondent and landed the anchor chair at a broadcast nightly newscast without an agent. Imagine what he can do with one. The CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor has signed with WME for representation in all areas. The newscast has been improving since Pelley took over in 2011, currently up 8% season to date among total viewers compared with last year. Emmy winner Pelley has been a correspondent on CBS’ 60 Minutes since 2004, with his segments responsible for half of the major awards won by the venerable newsmagazine. In the field, Pelley was one of the first reporters on the scene after the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City and also reported extensively from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pelley previously was CBS News’ Chief White House Correspondent, covering the Clinton administration.
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline revealed exclusively Friday that longtime UTA Production Department co-head Wayne Fitterman had left that agency and was in talks to land at WME. I have confirmed that he has now officially joined WME as a partner and that he will head WME’s Production Department. As I wrote, Fitterman had expected to bring three of his cohorts along with him. UTA staved off that coup, but Fitterman brings 46 clients with him so far, with a lot more hanging in the balance. This is an unsung part of the business, covering cinematographers, editors, line producers, production designers, costume designers, and visual effects supervisors. But it’s important. Aside from making piles of money, the department is a breeding ground for first-time directors. Among the clients Fitterman has brought with him are Jenny Beavan (The King’s Speech), Mark Bridges (The Artist), Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis), Robert Elswit (There Will Be Blood), Michael Kaplan (Star Wars: Episode VII), Ric Kidney (Salt), Adam Merims (Safe House), Nigel Phelps (World War Z), Tim Squyres (Life of Pi), Dylan Tichenor (Zero Dark Thirty) and David Wasco (Fifty Shades of Grey). Fitterman starts today.
Related: Russell Simmons Signs With WME
EXCLUSIVE: Hip-hop mogul, film and television producer and entrepreneur Russell Simmons has signed with WME for representation in all areas. He was at CAA. The representation shift follows the Def Jam founder’s decision earlier this year to move full time to Los Angeles to focus on building his film and TV businesses, run by Jake Stein and recently appointed Chris Conti, respectively. Under a two-year first-look deal at HBO, which Simmons inked in May, he is executive producing a high-profile new drama project from 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen.
EXCLUSIVE: Wayne Fitterman, the longtime co-head of UTA‘s below the line division, is exiting, I’ve learned. The Production Department continues to be headed by Pete Franciosa. The pair have long steered the seven-person department that reps editors, cinematographers, costume designers, visual effects and other personnel. I’m told that Fitterman was going to leave with three of his colleagues, but at the last minute the others decided to stay. I’ve confirmed Fitterman is leaving, and they were all in talks to move to WME, but I am waiting to see if in fact Fitterman ends up there. It is unclear which of his clients would move over with him.
EXCLUSIVE: Greek helmer Alexandros Avranas won the Silver Lion for best director in Venice in September for Miss Violence. He’s now signed with WME and the UK’s Casarotto Ramsey & Associates for film and TV representation. Well-received at the Venice fest, Miss Violence recounts an 11-year-old girl’s inexplicable suicide, and the family secrets that surround the tragedy. It also won a Best Actor Volpi Cup for lead Themis Panau – a feat that requires special dispensation from the festival president because films are not normally supposed to win more than once. It later screened in Toronto. Paris-based Elle Driver is repping sales on Miss Violence. Avranas previously directed drama Without, which won a Best New Director prize at the Thessaloniki Film Festival in 2008. The director continues to be managed by Martin Marquet.
Reporting from Jerusalem
With the TV business evolving at a rapid pace, Lionsgate COO of television, Sandra Stern, mused on Tuesday that “every generation is now 15 minutes old.” She made the remark on a panel here at Keshet’s Innovative TV Conference and was joined by eOne TV CEO John Morayniss and WME agent and partner Marc Korman. The execs discussed shifting paradigms, a potential talent shortage and the wisdom of remakes.
Business models are changing and “Everybody is looking around saying ‘How do we make noise?’” But “if you do good work, the audiences are going to find you,” Stern commented. Lionsgate’s Orange Is The New Black found a lot of love when it debuted on Netflix this summer. Morayniss noted that along with Netflix and other new entrants, there are “probably over 50 networks in the U.S. that are commissioning original scripted programming.” EOne is teamed with Discovery on Klondike, the net’s first original. “Good shows will rise to the top, there will be a market, and money will be made.”
Yet another Halloween-themed video, this time from the WME Motion Picture Department. It’s called ‘The Pitching Hour’ and I spent 5:47 minutes of my vacation watching it. I want that time back.
EXCLUSIVE: The Pursuit Of Happyness helmer has decided to pursue things with a new agency. Gabriele Muccino has come aboard WME after departing CAA earlier this month after several years, I’ve learned. Muccino is currently directing Voltage’s Fathers And Daughters starring Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried as a family struggling with the death of the mother and mental illness. Craig J. Flores and Nicolas Chartier of Voltage are producing with Busted Shark Productions’ Sherryl Clark from a Black List script by Brad Desch. After the Sundance Film Festival success of comedy/drama L’Ultimo Bacio in 2002, Muccino was picked personally by star Will Smith to direct The Pursuit Of Happyness as his first Hollywood project. The 2006 drama of a man and his son pulling their way out of poverty was a hit for both, making more than $307 million worldwide. The Italian went on to do 2008’s Seven Pounds with Smith also as well as 2012’s tepid box office performer Playing For Keeps with Gerald Butler. While he’s changed agencies, Muccino is sticking with Untitled Entertainment for management.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has signed Mark Webber, whose film The End Of Love got nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at 2012 Sundance and who just wrapped The Ever After. Webber, who wrote The End Of Love, also scripted The Ever After, and stars in it with Melissa Leo, Rosario Dawson, Kid Cudi, Jaime King, and Teresa Palmer. Webber’s earlier film Explicit Ills won the 2008 SXSW Audience Award. Webber is not only a rising director, he’s an inspiration for overcoming adversity. He was raised in Philadelphia by his mom, and both of them lived on the streets part of the time. She has become a renowned advocate for the homeless who ran for Vice President last year with the Green Party. Now he’s with a major agency. He continues with attorney Ira Schreck.
EXCLUSIVE: Dev Patel has signed with WME. He continues to be repped by Magnolia Entertainment and Curtis Brown in the UK. Deadline told you that Patel had decided to stay with Magnolia manager Stephanie Comer and therefore was among a small group of clients that would be leaving UTA following the agency board’s declaration it would no longer do business with Magnolia after an erosion in the relationship with Shelley Browning that led to the exits of such clients as Rachel McAdams, Robocop‘s Joel Kinnaman, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘s Noomi Rapace, and Gone Girl lead Rosamund Pike. The only mutual client not asked to make a Sophie’s Choice was Safe House helmer Daniel Espinosa, because he is busy shooting Child 44 with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, and Rapace and Kinnaman. He’ll have to make a decision soon, though, and a major piece of business hangs in the balance for the two companies.
Patel, who made his breakthrough as the game show wiz in Slumdog Millionaire, next stars in the Neill Blomkamp-directed Chappie. He most recently starred in Fox Searchlight’s Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. He also continues to be part of the cast of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama series The Newsroom.
EXCLUSIVE: WME plans to tap into ideas and stories from 155-year-old The Atlantic magazine and digital properties like TheAtlanticWire to create opportunities across the film, television, and digital space. The Atlantic has a monthly audience of about 30 million across through its print, digital and live platforms. The mag that has published the likes of Updike, Twain and Hemingway continues to showcase writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates, who won this year’s National Magazine Award for Best Essay for “Fear Of A Black President”; James Fallows; Jeffrey Goldberg; Molly Ball; Alexis Madrigal; and Derek Thompson among others. Several articles have already been optioned for TV or film treatment including Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” (July/August 2012), Kate Bolick’s “All The Single Ladies” (November 2011), Hanna Rosin’s “The End Of Men” (July/Aug 2010), Lori Gottlieb’s “Marry Him!” (March 2008), and Don Peck’s “How A New Jobless Era Will Transform America” (March 2010).
EXCLUSIVE: Yuval Adler, who co-wrote and made his feature directing debut on the Toronto entry Bethlehem, has inked with WME after being pursued by several agencies and management companies up north. The pic, which had its North American debut this week in the festival’s Discovery section, centers on a young Palestinian who is recruited as as an informant by the Israeli secret service Shin Bet, and he becomes caught between two very different kinds of loyalty when he discovers that his employers are plotting to assassinate his radical brother. The Israel-born Adler, who studied philosophy at Columbia University, spent years interviewing Shin Bet officers and Palestinian militants in the making of the movie, which has been nominated for 12 Israeli Academy Awards.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has just signed Peter Segal and his Callahan Filmworks producing partner Michael Ewing. The duo has been on the move lately. They left CAA in April to rejoin their longtime agent Adam Kanter at upstart agency Resolution. Now they have moved again. Segal most recently helmed the Warner Bros comedy Grudge Match, which stars Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone as former boxers who get in the ring one last time to settle a long dispute. Callahan Filmworks produced with Bill Gerber. Segal’s comedy credits include Tommy Boy, The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates, Anger Management and Get Smart, so it’s a good get for WME. Segal is still repped by attorney Lawrence Rose.