EXCLUSIVE: Boutique agency Verve has signed German writer-director Bora Dagtekin, whose hit comedy feature F*ck You Shakespeer (Fack Ju Gohte) has been burning up the German box office since its debut last fall. Elyas M’Barek (The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones) stars as a bank robber who disguises himself as a substitute teacher to recover stolen money buried beneath a newly constructed high school. The raunchy, politically incorrect comedy produced by Rat Pack Filmproduktion and distributed by Constantin Films has grossed over $72.7M US to date in Germany and earned Dagtekin comparisons to The Hangover‘s Todd Phillips. Dagtekin’s previous hits in Germany include the acclaimed 2006 comedy series Turkish For Beginners (Türkisch für Anfänger), which ran for three seasons and nabbed awards including an International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences nomination. F*ck You Shakespeer lead M’Barek also starred on that show as well as its hit 2012 film adaptation, which Dagtekin scripted and co-wrote. Verve is in Austin showing F*ck You Shakespeer around this week at SXSW. Check out the NSFW trailer:
This has been an ongoing back-and-forth process over the last several years, with the broadcast networks at different times opting to fold current programming into their drama and comedy departments or re-establish standalone current operations. Fox now is doing the former, promoting head of drama Terence Carter and head of comedy Suzanna Makkos to EVPs, with both adding oversight of respective current series to their development duties. Under the previous structure, Carter and Makkos ran drama/comedy development and then paired up with their current programming counterparts to shepherd their newly picked-up series for the first season. Both will report to Fox COO Joe Earley. In their previous roles, Carter and Makkos had reported to Fox Chairman Kevin Reilly, while current programming had reported to Earley. Earley now is taking over more day-to-day responsibilities at the network, with Reilly pulling away from those to focus on big-picture issues, like the network’s new pilot model.
As part of the restructuring on the comedy side, Lauren Levy Neustadter has been promoted to SVP, and Samata Narra has been a VP for the past several months, both serving as Makkos’ senior lieutenants. On the drama side, …
Yann Demange’s debut feature ’71 generated a lot of heat when it premiered in competition at last month’s Berlin Film Festival. The anti-war parable takes place in 1971 and centers on a young British soldier (Unbroken‘s Jack O’Connell) accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the streets of Belfast. Unable to tell friend from foe and increasingly wary of his own comrades, he must survive the night alone and find his way to safety. Roadside Attractions and Black Label Media have partnered to take all U.S. rights on the Gregory Burke-scripted pic and plan an early 2015 release.
Robin Gutch of Warp Films and Angus Lamont of Crab Apple are producers, and the pic is backed by Film4, BFI Film Fund, Screen Yorkshire, and Creative Scotland. Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales. The deal was negotiated by CAA on behalf of Black Label and Howard Cohen on behalf of Roadside Attractions, with Mike Goodridge of Protagonist on behalf of the filmmakers. Here’s a clip that made the rounds during Berlin:
Tatiana Maslany — who stars as a con woman and her numerous clones — was widely considering one the Emmys’ biggest snubs last year, though the Golden Globes did hand her a nom. Now here’s our first look at Season 2 of Orphan Black, in which Sarah (Maslany) is on a desperate quest to find her missing daughter (Skyler Wexler). Key exchange: When Sarah is asked, “What are you gonna do — just start shooting people?” she replies simply, “Yeah.” The sophomore session of BBC America‘s drama bows at 9 pm April 19. Have a look:
This was expected, and needed, as evidenced by last week’s announcement that the online video service that targets gamers (read: teenaged boys and young men) axed about 30% of its workforce. But it’s interesting to see how much today’s release plays up the potential partnerships between Machinima and Warner Bros. Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise says that there are “myriad opportunities” to connect their audiences. And Warner Bros Television Group President of Business and Strategy Craig Hunegs says he’s “excited” about the ability “to reach new audiences, create new original content, and discover new talent.” Don’t be surprised if they look for projects outside of Google’s YouTube, which collects about 45% of the ad revenues it sells for Machinima. No word here about the terms of the financing arrangement, although the companies say that current investors MK Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Google Capital have also upped their stake. Machinima is said to have raised $67M, including $35M from Google. Here’s today’s official announcement:
EXCLUSIVE: In the world of film score composition, musician-composers usually resort to Avid’s Pro Tools and plug-ins. As a pianist-composer myself and a lover of film scores, I found this quite innovative from 300: Rise Of An Empire composer Tom Holkenborg, known as Junkie XL. He is a former Dutch producer-engineer and former DJ and multi-instrumentalist who took apart a piano and re-purposed it to create the sounds of 300. He is not unlike Harry Partch who began making his own instruments in an experiment to generate different sounds in the 1940s to the late 1960s and was very interested in pre-classical, in particular the music of ancient Greece. Junkie XL also did the music on the upcoming film, Divergent. Have a look:
“America has always been a nation of fearless explorers who dream big and reach farther than others imagine,” President Obama said as he introduced the series premiere episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey tonight on 10 Fox Networks Group Channels, including Fox broadcast network and National Geographic Channel. “Today we’re doing everything we can to bring that same sense of possibility to a new generation, because there are new frontiers to explore and we need Americans eager to explore them,” he said in the video message leading into the premiere episode. Yesterday the networks announced their reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series was getting a White House lift-off. A preview of the series screened at the White House as part of their inaugural White House Film Festival on Friday, February 28.
More than three decades after the debut of Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Sagan’s iconic exploration of the universe as revealed by science, Seth MacFarlane has teamed with Sagan’s original creative collaborators to conceive the 13-part series to serve as a successor to the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning original series. Sagan’s original series Cosmos was first broadcast in 1980 and remains the most globally successful American public television series of all time. Seen by more than 750 million viewers, Cosmos has remained popular throughout the world.
Watch Obama’s intro here:
EXCLUSIVE: Director Florian Habicht’s documentary about 1990s UK rockers Pulp and their final concert in their hometown of Sheffield is playing at SXSW in the 24 Beats Per Second section and premieres this evening at the Vimeo Theater. Here’s a look at the movie, which weaves the band’s commentary with the concert that marks the end of the Britpop rockers’ 25-year run (they reunited in 2011) that garnered 10 million in album sales. Check it out:
CNN’s ‘Reliable Sources’ Interviews Newsmax Co-Founder About Plan To Launch Fox News Competitor: Video
CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning interviews Newsmax co-founder Chris Ruddy about his plans to take on Fox News Channel with the June launch of a new cable news network called NewsmaxTV. “The boomer market, which we’re focusing on, has 80 million Americans. There’s really not much on cable servicing them,” Ruddy tells host Brian Stelter. BusinessWeek has called the new network “either a misguided fantasy or a cunningly disruptive business plan.” Newsmax.com, launched in 1998, had more than 11.5 million visitors in January, according to ComScore. Watch a preview here:
With his FX series kicking off its delayed fifth season in May, Louis C.K. will make a second appearance as host of Saturday Night Live on March 29. The writer-actor-comedian first hosted the NBC late-night show in November 2012, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when highlights included this spoof of Louie featuring Louis CK as Abraham Lincoln. Check it out:
EXCLUSIVE: In the grand tradition of Borat and recent Paramount hit Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, prank comedy hybrid May The Best Man Win combines narrative storytelling with hidden camera stunts pulled on real folks, starring Drew Tarver of the upcoming sitcom spin-off How I Met Your Dad, Whitmer Thomas of Comedy Central’s pilot Crazy House, and Rosa Salazar of NBC’s pilot The Pro. Directed by That Awkward Moment producer and Brit comedy vet Andrew O’Connor (Balls of Steel, Peep Show), the hard-R gotcha-comedy tracks YouTube pranksters Whit and Drew who recruit a girl into their team and then compete for her affections in a series of embarrassing and outrageous challenges. Last summer the What If It Barks Films production made headlines in L.A. with one of their pranks, in which dozens of actresses were asked to audition in blackface and impersonate Hitler for a bit that left a number of would-be starlets upset. Pic is scripted by O’Connor, Matthew Robinson, and Lee Hupfield and world premieres tonight in SXSW‘s Visions program. O’Connor, Robinson, Lee Hupfield, and Ray Marshall are producers and Andrew Newman, Oliver Obst, and Manu Gargi exec produced. Here’s an exclusive taste:
Stephen Colbert Visits ‘Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ To Plug ‘Mr. Peabody & Sherman’ And ‘Colbert Report’
Late-night competitor Stephen Colbert stopped by Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, discussed playing Paul Peterson in Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and tried to get Fallon to plug his Comedy Central show during a round of Truth or Truth. Watch here:
The journalist-turned-PR man who went on to serve two terms as president of the TV Academy died Wednesday in Oceanside, Calif. Hank Rieger was 95. In 1977, he became the first elected president of ATAS following the split between the East and West Coast factions of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. He is one of only 11 recipients of the Academy’s Syd Cassyd Award, presented in recognition of long and distinguished service. “Hank Rieger worked tirelessly for many years on behalf of the Television Academy,” ATAS Chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum said in a statement. “He believed in the Academy’s ability to have a positive impact on the entire entertainment industry, and we are deeply grateful for all he contributed.” The Kansas City, MO, native served in World War II before beginning his career as a journalist with United Press International, playing a key role in breaking the news of Marilyn Monroe’s death. In 1965, he joined NBC’s public relations department, where he worked with many of the biggest stars and execs in television — from Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Johnny Carson and Milton Berle to Bob Kintner, Grant Tinker, Herb Schlosser and Brandon Tartikoff. He traveled with Hope as the comic entertained U.S. troops overseas and led the publicity team during The Tonight Show‘s move from New York to Los Angeles in 1972. When NBC News writers and reporters went on strike, Rieger filled in for two weeks as an on-air correspondent and host of a weekend political talk show.
HBO has unveiled its promo for Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, which unveils on April 27 (see below). The new weekly satire current events show from the former The Daily Show With Jon Stewart correspondent (and stand-in host) will air at 11 PM on Sundays. Last November, HBO announced it had snagged Oliver to do a weekly show. Oliver took his final Daily Show bow in December, and Stewart had him in tears as he surprised the Brit comic with his own retrospective, on his last day. During the ambush, Oliver, who’d been with the Comedy Central late-night program for more than seven years, was mostly speechless and fighting tears.
Oliver got rave reviews covering for Stewart over the summer on Comedy Central while Stewart took time off to direct his first film, Rosewater. And though Oliver told PBS’ Charlie Rose in an interview, “I don’t think it’s going to change my life”, and that his goal had been only “not to destroy that machine” during his brief tenure, it proved to be a game changer for Oliver — and for Viacom Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog, whose empire includes Comedy Central, and who learned from the experience that there can be life after Stewart — unless HBO comes to the same realization and is looking for another topical late-night show. Watch Oliver’s HBO promo here:
The documentary about the notorious Mexican drug lord is particularly timely now that Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been captured after more than a decade on the run. The Legend Of Shorty chronicles the hunt for the near mythical figure who is alternately described as a brilliant business visionary, an amoral and ruthless murderer, a revolutionary hero and a latter-day Robin Hood. Directors Angus Macqueen and Guillermo Galdos venture into Mexico, where they gained access to El Chapo’s inner circle. The pic from Oscar-winning producer Simon Chinn (Searching For Sugar Man, Man On Wire) is having its world premiere today in the Documentary Spotlight section at SXSW. Here’s an exclusive look:
It’s been nine years since Frank Miller’s neo-noir graphic novels came to big-screen life. Now Dimension Films is releasing the follow-up. Eva Green stars in Sin City: A Dame To Kill For as Ava, a character Miller described as “every man’s most glorious dreams come true [and] every man’s darkest nightmares.” She is joined by an ensemble that features series newcomer Joseph Gordon-Levitt and such returnees as Jessica Alba, Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, Mickey Rourke, Powers Boothe and Jaime King. Also new to the stylish proceedings are Juno Temple, Josh Brolin, Chris Meloni, Jeremy Piven, Dennis Haysbert, Ray Liotta, Julia Garner and Stacy Keach, among others. Again directed by Miller and Robert Rodriguez, the pic opens August 22. Here’s the first trailer:
EXCLUSIVE: Discovery has had a change of heart about its Naked And Afraid after-show, Discovery After Dark — but it’s not what you think. The cable network isn’t chickening out after announcing the after-show with surprisingly little fanfare last month – it’s changing the name and the host, to the much better Naked After Dark, and to Josh Wolf, respectively. Wolf, known to some for his panelist appearances on Chelsea Lately, is maybe best known to Discovery viewers as host of its wildly popular Shark Week after-show Shark After Dark.
Today’s announcement and other financial moves reportedly in the works for the gaming-oriented online service underscore how hard it is for channels to make money at YouTube. Machinima – which describes itself as “the number one global video entertainment network for young males” — says today that the layoffs, hitting 30% of the workforce, are part of its “restructuring in and around its sales organization” as it leans on its “longstanding partnership with YouTube to drive media sales.” But it also comes as it lines up $18M in funding from a group led by Warner Bros, website Re/code reports, citing “people familiar with the transaction.” Last week The Wall Street Journal reported that Warner Bros was mulling the possibility of investing as much as $15M in the online video operation. The numbers are a far cry from the amounts approaching $70M that Machinima was said to be hoping to secure last year. One of the problems for YouTube services like Machinima is that Google takes about 45% of the ad revenue it sells, as well as much of the inventory.