UK’s Sky Arts ‘Talks Music’ With The Stars
Britain’s Sky Arts is launching a new music interview series, …Talks Music. The 10-part show will look at the careers of some of the world’s most iconic music legends. Confirmed guests so far include Nile Rodgers, Boy George, Jeff Beck and Blondie’s Deborah Harry and Chris Stein. Whizz Kid Entertainment is producing, with Malcolm Gerrie conducting the sit-downs in front of a live studio audience. Gerrie and guests will also take questions from the floor. Jeff Wurtz, of Inside The Actors Studio, is directing and Gerrie is exec producing. A fall debut is planned.
Modern Times Group Buys Into UK Market For $23.6M
Modern Times Group, an international broadcasting outfit that operates free and pay-TV in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Russia and Africa, has added a UK-based international distributor to its portfolio with the acquisition of 92.4% of Digital Rights Group for £15M ($23.6M). Titles in the Digital Rights Group stable include The Inbetweeners, The Singing Bee, Kingdom, Sea Patrol and Criminal Justice. DRG founder and former CEO Jeremy Fox will return to the company, replacing exiting managing director Jonathan Jackson. MTG also picked up a 51% stake in Norwegian producer Novemberfilm for an undisclosed sum. The Oslo-based company produces series and commercials including key formats The Zookeepers, Insider and Missing. Read More »
The Sarah Connor Chronicles creator Josh Friedman has closed an overall deal at Universal Television. Under the two-year pact, Friedman will serve as co-executive producer on the upcoming NBC pirate drama Crossbones starring John Malkovich. Additionally, he will develop and supervise projects for the studio. “Josh Friedman puts a distinct, unique spin on everything he writes,” said Uni TV EVP Bela Bajaria. “He taps into interesting worlds and is a very talented writer. We’ve followed his career for years and are excited to be in business with him.”
Related: John Malkovich To Star In ‘Crossbones’ As Blackbeard
Crossbones, from Luther creator Neil Cross and producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, is set in 1715 on the Bahamian island of New Providence where the diabolical pirate Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard (Malkovich), reigns over a rogue nation of thieves, outlaws and miscreant sailors. Cross wrote the script and is executive producing with Parkes, MacDonald and Ted Gold for Parkes/MacDonald Prods; Georgeville Television; and Universal Television. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A couple of intriguing developments have happened on The Equalizer. After a strong reading with Denzel Washington, Chloe Moretz is getting the offer from Sony Pictures to play the female lead in the drama that will re-team Training Day tandem Washington and Antoine Fuqua. At the same time, Michael Sloan, creator of the 1980s TV series, has made a deal to write an original novel for Thomas Dunne Books that will continue the adventures of Robert McCall, the shadowy character originated by Edward Woodward who’ll be played on the big screen by Washington.
Moretz is a surprise choice to play the role of Teri, in that the role was originally drawn for a twentysomething. After Moretz did a chemistry reading with Washington, he was very impressed as was everybody else, and the role will be redrawn for Moretz to play a young prostitute, reminiscent of Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver. Deal has to be made, but between this and the upcoming Kimberly Peirce-directed Carrie, that little girl from Kick-Ass is turning into a young woman who’s taking on some of the edgiest roles in town. Read More »
Disney Channel has promoted Adam Bonnett to the newly created position of EVP, original programming, Disney Channels Worldwide. Bonnett will continue to oversee all live action development and current original series and movies for Disney Channel and Disney XD as well as casting and talent relations for those channels, reporting to Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide. Bonnett’s promotion comes on the heels of Disney Channel finishing 2012 as the #1 channel in Total Day among Kids 2-11, breaking Nickelodeon’s 17-year streak. “Adam is an extraordinarily talented executive who brilliantly blends great storytelling with great comedy and in doing so, has helped create the #1 kids network on television,” Marsh said. Read More »
The timing of last year’s decision by the TV Academy to consolidate the four longform acting categories into two was baffling as it came a couple of days after the record-breaking debut of History’s miniseries Hatfields & McCoys and the network premiere of HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn, which had opened at the Cannes Film Festival. The TV Academy moved to cut the categories in half amidst a renaissance of the longform genre with such programs as British imports Downton Abbey, which started off in the miniseries field, Sherlock and Luther; History’s Hatfields & McCoys and FX’s American Horror Story, which was submitted as a miniseries. At the time, TV Academy’s SVP Awards John Leverence explained the decision by saying that the decrease in longform categories “corresponds to their primetime presence.”
But this week, just as the consolidation was about to take effect, the TV Academy reversed its decision, keeping the lead and supporting acting fields intact. “What a difference 13 months make,” Leverence said yesterday. He said the May 2012 vote “was based on how the longform (programming) was trending — the patient was on the table getting last rites.” But now “there has been a major revival of the longform. The consolidation was based on last year’s reality, not based on this year’s reality; what we thought was happening reversed itself.”
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After quietly leaving UTA last week, Idris Elba is the hot actor in play, and it’s suspected he’ll either land at WME or CAA. Elba seems poised to finally make that transition from great actor to movie star, so he’s a real catch. But the gang at UTA certainly did their job; the agency booked him into Prometheus, Thor, Pacific Rim and Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom, the latter a film the agency packaged around director client Justin Chadwick. By the time he’s done starring in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim this summer and following up by playing Nelson Mandela in the Oscar-bait Weinstein Company release later this year, Elba should finally reach that level of stardom that has inexplicably eluded him. I must say that after watching his turns in The Wire and especially Neil Cross’s British crime series Luther, I find it baffling it has taken this long; how many actors out there are as good as this guy? Elba has also established himself as a serial agency jumper in the U.S. He moved from ICM to CAA, back to ICM, and then chose UTA over WME and CAA two years ago. He remains managed by Anonymous Content and agented by Ken McReddie Associates in the UK.
They’re hoping that fans won’t, as the Godfather of Soul might have put it, hit it and quit. The site features James Brown concert footage and testimonials — and, of course, opportunities to buy DVDs and other merchandise. “These digital destinations will continue to evolve as we program content specific to key events as well as discover and add new video assets, leveraging Shout Factory’s unique content curation capabilities.” says Jeffrey Thompson, Shout Factory’s VP of digital strategy and business development. The launch – in collaboration with the James Brown Estate – at youtube.com/jamesbrownofficial and shoutfactory.com/jamesbrown coincides with the 45th anniversary of Brown’s Boston concert following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Many historians believe that the concert helped to prevent riots from breaking out as they had in several other cities. Shout Factory founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos call the initiative “an integral part of our commitment to leverage a variety of digital entertainment platforms to celebrate the very best of pop culture.”
Steven Spielberg‘s international tour of newsy tidbits continues. Speaking to France’s Canal Plus recently, the filmmaker dropped info about his development of a Napoleon miniseries based on a screenplay by Stanley Kubrick. Yesterday, Spielberg was in India to talk about Lincoln, meet with the local industry and attend a party hosted by Anil Ambani, the head of DreamWorks partner Reliance Entertainment. He also spoke to The Times Of India about a project that DreamWorks plans to make locally. “We have finalized a script for a movie that DreamWorks and our partners Reliance Entertainment plan to make together. Part of it will take place on the India-Pakistan border in Kashmir. But we’re still trying to figure out the casting, locations and who’s going to direct it,” Spielberg told the paper. He also renewed talk of a long-gestating Martin Luther King project saying “DreamWorks-Reliance is also planning a movie on Martin Luther King Jr. I wouldn’t call it a biopic, it’s more a story of King and the movement and also about how his admiration for Mahatma Gandhi helped to shape his moral core.” DreamWorks acquired the civil rights leader’s life rights from the King Estate in 2009 Read More »
In a major casting coup for NBC, the network has landed Oscar-nominated John Malkovich to topline new action-adventure series Crossbones, from Luther creator Neil Cross and feature producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald and Georgeville TV. He will play the notorious English pirate Blackbeard, a role Brit Hugh Laurie flirted with for a while but ultimately did not commit to. The 10-episode Crossbones is set in 1715 on the Bahamian island of New Providence, the first functioning democracy in the Americas, where the diabolical pirate Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard (Malkovich), reigns over a rogue nation of thieves, outlaws and miscreant sailors. Part shantytown, part marauder’s paradise, this is a place like no other on Earth — and a mounting threat to international commerce. The series, originally picked up for this midseason, has not been slotted and will likely launch next season. Read More »
Workaholics‘ Anders Holm is joining Fox‘s comedy series The Mindy Project as a new love interest for Mindy (Mindy Kaling). In a four-episode arc, Holm will play Casey, a charismatic, altruistic, and popular Lutheran pastor in New York City who is so cool he has a DJ at his church services. When Casey and Mindy first meet, he manages to both attract her and get under her skin at the same time — soon after, they begin dating. Holm’s first episode airs in early April. Holm, repped by Avalon, UTA and attorney Jeffrey Endlich, is one of the stars/writers/producers behind Comedy Central’s hit Workaholics, now in its third season and recently renewed for seasons 4 and 5.
Popular Latin American actor Manolo Cardona has been cast in a multi-episode recurring guest arc on USA‘s spy drama Covert Affairs starring Piper Perabo. The Colombian-born Cardona will play Teo Braga, an enigmatic Colombian rebel leader. Brilliant and brooding, Teo harbors secrets about his past that will affect Annie (Perabo), Auggie and other members of the CIA profoundly. The stint reunites Cardona, repped by D2 Management, with Perabo — they co-starred in Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It also expands Cardona’s relationship with USA and Covert Affairs producers Universal Cable Prods. and Hypnotic which also recently cast him in the untitled Cheryl Heuton and Nicolas Falacci pilot.
EXCLUSIVE: In his biggest series commitment to date, Jeffrey Wright has joined the cast of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire as a new series regular for the period drama’s upcoming fourth season. He will play Valentin Narcisse, Doctor of Divinity, philanthropist, student of culture and the man who runs Harlem. Season 4 is currently in production and will debut later this year. This marks Wright’s return to HBO where he has starred in several long-form projects, including film Boycott, in which he portrayed Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., landing an AFI Award, and mini-series Angels In America, which earned him an Emmy and Golden Globe for the role he originated onstage and won a Tony for. Wright recently wrapped The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Only Lovers Left Alive and The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete, which premiered at Sundance. Boardwalk Empire has been beefing up the cast heading into Season 4 with Wright and Ron Livingston as new regulars. The series is executive produced by creator Terry Winter, Martin Scorsese, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Tim Van Patten and Howard Korder and co-executive produced by Gene Kelly.
EXCLUSIVE: Veteran motion picture agents Adam Kanter and Martin Spencer – who represent some very prominent directors, writers and producers – are joining Jeff Berg‘s new Resolution as senior agents after 25 years with CAA. Berg made the announcement today. Of course, it isn’t yet known how many of Kanter’s and Spencer’s clients will join Resolution from CAA. “But they’ve had long-term relationships with many of them,” Berg tells me. “We’re betting a lot of them.” CAA, on the other hand, is confident it’ll keep a goodly portion. Nevertheless, Berg is demonstrating that Resolution can shake loose established major agents with prestigious client bases who want quicker advancement. “Adam and Martin will play a key role in the development of our new agency,” Berg said in a statement.
Kanter is the son of longtime agent, producer and studio executive Jay Kanter who was Marlon Brando’s first agent and a protege of the legendary Lew Wasserman. The young Kanter joined CAA in 1989 and built a client list that includes: director Doug Liman and producer David Bartis of Hypnotic (The Bourne Identity), Peter Segal and Michael Ewing (Get Smart) filmmakers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Entourage creator Doug Ellin, actor and producer Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment (The Pursuit Of Happyness), Martin Campbell (Casino Royale) and Parenthood’s Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel. Other clients Kanter represented at CAA include Malcolm Lee (The Best Man), Brian Kirk (Luther), Joe Johnston … Read More »
Stephen Root has joined Fox’s single-camera comedy pilot To My Future Assistant. Written by Sherry Bilsing-Graham & Ellen Kreamer and directed by Peyton Reed, Assistant revolves around the assistants at a big New York law firm who band together as a family to help each other cope with the obnoxious overbearing bosses who test their sanity on a daily basis. Root plays Jen’s (Brittany Snow) boss Frank, a stern, intense attorney who — despite his bristly exterior — is not quite the monster he seems.
Another veteran actor, Delroy Lindo, has been cast in Believe, NBC’s drama pilot from J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuarón, which also has found its lead in newcomer Johnny Sequoyah. The project, written by Cuarón and Mark Friedman, is about the unlikely relationship between Bo (Sequoyah), a girl in possession of great powers — which will come into their own in seven years — and Tate (Jake McLaughlin), the man who is sprung from prison to protect her from those trying to hunt her down. APA-repped Lindo will play Winter, a kindly man posing as a Priest who has an agenda. Also cast in the pilot is Jamie Chung, repped by Gersh and 3 Arts, who plays Channing — a woman who works for Winter and assists Tate when he escapes from prison. She just wrapped Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City: … Read More »
Pilot pickup season finally got in full swing on Friday with seven orders, four at CBS and three at NBC. That is as many as the broadcast networks had ordered since the first of the year combined as network executives are lamenting the fact that scripts are coming in late this season, delaying pilot orders. Pilot casting, on the other hand, has already started. Part frustration over late scripts, part desire to get a jump on talent led to active pilot casting on a half dozen projects last month, before any had been ordered to pilot. The number expanded further in the first two weeks of January. CBS, for instance, did not formally greenlight the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama Hostages to pilot last week until Toni Collette was locked in as the lead. Read More »
SUNDAY AM 2ND UPDATE: The big news is that washed-up Arnold Schwarzenegger flopped in 10th place playing a washed-up lawman in The Last Stand (2,913 theaters). “Nobody wants to see Arnold,” one rival studio exec giggled to me. Lionsgate should demand its money back from Arnie who clearly can’t open a movie anymore even with a ‘B’ CinemaScore from audiences. Pic made only a pathetic $6.7M for the 3-day weekend and no more than $7.7M for the 4-day holiday. I don’t think that even covers Schwarzenegger’s cigar bill. The actioner featuring The Guvernator’s first solo comeback to the big screen was just one of the major releases that opened for the long Martin Luther King holiday weekend. Saturday’s business “was shockingly good,” execs told me, once again demonstrating that the theatrical business is kicking butt with audiences even if Arnold isn’t. Bombing as well was Emmet-Furla/New Regency’s critically panned dramatic thriller Broken City (2,620 theaters) breaking Mark Wahlberg’s long string of box office hits. Also starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Russell Crowe (thankfully, not singing) and distributed by Fox, it debuted only #5 and finished with a sorry $9.5M for the 3-day weekend and $10.9M for the four day holiday. That star power should have generated at least $25M for the MLK weekend with its ‘B’ CinemaScore from audiences.
No question that Universal’s supernatural thriller Mama (2,647 theaters) - “presented” by Guillermo Del Toro to lend it credibility – debuted #1 Friday and stayed tops through Monday with an overperforming $28.1 … Read More »
While its sister channel Sky Atlantic gears up BBC America co-production Fleming, Sky Arts has assembled an all-star roster for its new Playhouse Presents showcase. The slate of new shows is part of the paybox’s commitment to increase investment in original content to £600M by 2014. The previous Playhouse Presents series, which included such talent as Jon Hamm, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Thompson and David Tenant, was the most successful ever for the Sky Arts channel. This year’s lineup includes Kylie Minogue, David Harewood, Anna Friel, Matt Smith, Idris Elba and Vanessa Redgrave, among others. Doctor Who‘s Smith will make his directing debut with Cargese starring Being Human‘s Craig Roberts and A Long Way Down‘s Joe Cole. Luther star Elba will helm The Pavement Psychologist from his own script that centers on Friel as a woman whose world is turned upside down when she meets a homeless man. Stephen Fry‘s Sprout Pictures produces. Also from Sprout, dark comedy Hey Diddly Dee will star Minogue and Homeland‘s Harewood while Redgrave stars in Union Square, a story of loneliness in the big city, written and directed by her son Carlo Nero. The series of programs starts in the UK in March.
The deal will make Bounce TV a multicast channel on seven Univision-owned stations in markets including San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Denver, Sacramento, Raleigh and Tampa. When complete, Bounce will reach 86% of African American TV households — its target audience — up from 80%. It also will be in all top 10 markets and 24 of the top 25 for African Americans. The companies didn’t disclose terms of the agreement. Univision Television Group President Kevin Cuddihy says that the collaboration will “create a powerful one-two combination for viewers and advertisers.” Martin Luther King III and Ambassador Andrew Young helped to create Bounce.
Looks like someone didn’t get the memo. WGN Chicago urgently reported this morning on a plane crash “in the middle of the road” on the south side of the city. What the TV station didn’t realize was that it was a scene being filmed for NBC‘s freshman drama Chicago Fire. “One wing was knocked off; I don’t know if this just happened,” anchor Robin Baumgarten said at around 8 AM local time as the station’s Skycam tried to show the scene at the intersection of 29th and Martin Luther King Drive. “It looks like a giant hole in the street,” said fellow anchor Larry Potash. What the anchors could not see (as this photo from the Chicago Tribune displays), was that the area was covered in signage indicating filming was in progress. “All the usual protocol for this type of filming was followed,” said a spokesman for Universal TV, which co-produces the series with Wolf Films.
The station showed the scene for several minutes before Potash got word on air that what they were seeing was part of a TV production. “They might want to tell the news folks,” said an visibly annoyed Baumgarten. “Are you kidding me? 29th and King Drive, it’s OK. It’s all for a TV show, even though you see that plane in the road,” she added. The Chicago Fire Department admitted later that info about the filming was not widely distributed, says the Chicago … Read More »