Idris Elba returned as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther to BBC America on Tuesday and drew 206,000 viewers. That’s up from the 168,000 that Luther‘s Season 2 debut pulled in on September 28, 2011, according to Nielsen. The best Tuesday drama debut in the cable network’s 15-year history, the Season 3 U.S. premiere of the show was also just slightly ahead of the 205,000 viewers that Season 2 of Luther pulled in when Live+7 was added. This week’s debut received 90,000 viewers among the adults 25-54 demo. Of course, those numbers are all well below what the Emmy-nominated series garnered in the UK earlier this year; the third cycle of the BBC America co-produced crime drama premiered on July 2 on BBC One to 5 million viewers. While that number is huge compared to the U.S. viewership, it was actually the lowest UK debut in the series’ history.
Luther creator Neil Cross confirmed prequel movie plans for the BBC series starring Idris Elba, saying he’d finish a screenplay and hopes to film next year. The film will follow Luther’s early career when he is still married to Zoe; the film’s final scene is the opening scene of the TV series first season, Cross said at the Edinburgh TV Festival, according to multiple press reports. “Idris is a brilliant leading man, and we’ve hoped to turn Luther into a movie for a long time,” Cross said.
Related: WME Signs Idris Elba
Elba is on board to play John Luther, as are Warren Brown, Indira Varma and Steve Mackintosh. Cross said he went with a prequel, rather than a follow-up to the series, so he could bring back popular supporting characters — including some who let’s say maybe don’t fare so well in the final season. Ruth Wilson’s Alice Morgan character, who doesn’t fit in, chronologically, with the prequel plans, is being mulled as a spinoff series, Cross told Variety last year.
NBC News To Air ’63 ‘Meet The Press’ Broadcast With Martin Luther King, Jr. On Washington March Anniversary
NBC News will rerun the August 25, 1963 broadcast of its Sunday Beltway show Meet The Press this Sunday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The broadcast featured an interview with Martin Luther King Jr, three days before he delivered his “I Have A Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial; the episode will be broadcast in its entirety, except for the tease for the next week’s episode — in ’63 (check out a clip below). Meet the Press Special Edition: Remembering The Dream will air on NBC’s 10 owned-and-operated stations, New England Cable News, and numerous NBC affiliates. As of now, nearly 80 stations, covering more than 62% of the country, were on board. but in most places it will preempt local news or local political affairs shows. In most markets, the half-hour program will air immediately before or after the regularly scheduled broadcast of Meet The Press; viewers should check local listings for exact times. The regularly scheduled Meet The Press, anchored by David Gregory, also will be devoted to the anniversary of the March. Just three days before delivering his iconic speech, King joined Meet The Press to discuss the march’s call for civil rights legislation, jobs, freedom, and social equality.
EXCLUSIVE: In honor of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and of the March on Washington, Kino Lorber will release a newly restored and re-mastered edition of Oscar-nominated documentary King: A Filmed Record… Montgomery To Memphis. The updated version of the 1970 film will get a special one-night, multi-city screening event on August 28. It will also be presented at BAM’s Rose Cinemas on August 12 and 13. Following that, a special screening will be held at New York City’s Film Forum on August 28, the anniversary of King’s speech. The movie chronicles King’s life and work, from the start of his non-violent campaign for equal rights to his assassination in Memphis in 1968. Celebrity narrators include Harry Belafonte, Ruby Dee, Ben Gazzara, Charlton Heston, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, Paul Newman, Anthony Quinn, Clarence Williams III and Joanne Woodward. The doc was produced by Ely Landau and associate produced by Richard Kaplan. It was originally screened as a one-time-only event on March 24, 1970 and went on to receive an Academy Award nomination for Documentary Feature and to be selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the National Film Preservation Foundation. The new screening iniative is in association with Gathr Films and the Regal theater chain.
While Idris Elba will soon be cancelling the apocalypse in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, his cop drama Luther has just kicked off its third series on the UK’s BBC One. The first of four hourlong episodes topped Tuesday night in the ratings with 5M viewers for a 21.7% share. But according to overnight data, it was the lowest series debut in the show’s history and 600,000 viewers off from the last Luther episode which aired in 2011. Still, the return of the BBC/BBC America co-production has been well-reviewed by local critics. Stateside, the third season runs on BBC America on consecutive nights from September 3-6. Sienna Guillory features as Luther’s new love interest in this go-around. Returning cast members include Warren Brown, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Dermot Crowley and Michael Smiley. Here’s a trailer for the new episodes:
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.
Resident Evil actress Sienna Guillory will romance Idris Elba‘s troubled English police detective Luther in the drama series’ upcoming third season. The BBC and BBC America co-production is readying a new run of four hourlong episodes that began filming last week. Per the BBC, this season puts John Luther back under intense pressure, with two conflicting crimes to investigate and a ruthless ex-cop determined to bring him down. Guillory will play Mary, a worker in a vintage clothing shop who meets Luther by chance.
EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: Memphis, Paul Greengrass‘ film about the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King, is coming back around. Now, I hear that steps are underway to make Memphis Greengrass’ next directorial outing. I’ve heard that Veritas is in talks to finance with Wild Bunch. You might recall the picture was shelved after Universal Pictures dropped out, and Greengrass and producer Scott Rudin shelved it because it became too difficult to set up new financing and shoot the film so that it could be released during the MLK weekend holiday. Greengrass and Rudin moved on to make Captain Phillips, the Sony drama about the Somali pirate heist that stars Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips.
The script depicts Dr. King’s final days as he struggled to organize a protest march on behalf of striking black municipal sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was slain. That storyline is juxtaposed with an intense manhunt for King’s assassin James Earl Ray, involving some of the federal authorities who, at Hoover’s direction, had dogged King’s every step with wiretaps and whispering campaigns before the civil rights leader’s death.
EXCLUSIVE: British novelist-screenwriter Neil Cross, creator of the BBC series Luther, is coming to American television. In his first formal U.S. TV pact, Cross has signed a two-year overall deal with Universal Television to develop new series projects. “Neil Cross is a visionary and we are huge fans of his stellar work on Luther,” Universal TV EVP Bela Bajaria said. “We look forward to working with him to create a big broadcast network hit.” Lurher has garnered accolades on both sides of the pond, earning star Idris Elba a Golden Globe award and an Emmy nomination. Its most recent prize came last week, when Luther was named best drama series at the British Royal TV Society Awards. On the feature side, Cross was recently tapped by Ghost House Pictures to write The Day Of The Triffids, based on the classic sci-fi horror novel written by John Wyndam and the 1962 film Invasion Of The Triffids. Cross previously penned two Guillermo del Toro-produced genre films: Mama, staring Jessica Chastain, which is in post-production; and actioner Midnight Delivery, which is being fast-tracked. Del Toro also enlisted Cross for a polish on his upcoming giant-budget monster movie Pacific Rim. Cross, who recently did TV development at 20th Century Fox Television, is repped by UTA, UK-based Independent Talent Group and attorneys Fred Toczek and Bruce Gellman.
In the original film, a meteorite shower produces a glow that blinds anyone looking at it. The majority of the population is left sightless, and prey to the Triffid plants that emerged in spore form from a previous meteor storm.
Mark Gordon, Michael Preger and Don Murphy are partnering with Ghost House principals Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert to produce. Ghost House principals Nathan Kahane and Joe Drake will executive produce alongside Susan Montford.
Cross created and writes the terrific Idris Elba BBC TV drama Luther, and he scripted two Guillermo Del Toro-produced genre films: Mama, staring Jessica Chastain, which is in post-production; and an actioner called Midnight Delivery which is on the fast track. Del Toro also enlisted Cross for a polish on his upcoming giant-budget monster movie Pacific Rim.
Cross is repped by UTA and UK-based Independent Talent Group, and attorney Fred Toczek.
Matt Dearborn is co-creator and showrunner (with Tom Burkhard) of the comedy series Zeke & Luther, targeting young males ages 6-14. While Disney XD’s audience is minuscule compared to the networks’, insiders are saying that this show following the adventures of two goofy teenage guys obsessed with becoming world-class skateboarders is an Emmy contender for Outstanding Children’s Program. Dearborn, who also created the Emmy-nominated hit Even Stevens, talks to Deadline TV contributor Diane Haithman about his backdoor entry into TV writing, working for Disney, and how to think like a kid:
DEADLINE: What sets Zeke & Luther apart from other children’s TV at Emmy time?
MATT DEARBORN: Because we are the only show in the kids’ space that is executing such a high level of physical comedy. Two people talking to each other might play in primetime, but unless somebody’s going to pick up a banana and hit the two guys talking over the head with it, it doesn’t work for my audience. And I’m not just talking about an onslaught of spit takes, although our demographic never grows tired of that. In our episode submission “Zeke’s Last Ride,” we tell a simple story about how Zeke copes with a career-threatening injury, and how his best friend Luther drives him nuts trying to be his nursemaid. Along the way we send our leads flying off 30-foot ramps. We’re not a stage-bound sitcom, and our audience likes the difference. Maybe the academy will …
While there is currently uncertainty over the status of the Paul Greengrass-directed Martin Luther King Jr film Memphis and the Lee Daniels-directed MLK film Selma, Samuel L. Jackson has just committed to playing the civil rights leader on Broadway in The Mountaintop. The move was long-rumored, but he will not be joined by Halle Berry, whose child-custody issues will keep her from joining Jackson. He becomes the latest film star to take a stage turn, and Broadway has been the better for it. Here’s the official announcement:
New York, NY – It was announced today that Samuel L. Jackson will make his Broadway debut starring as Dr. Martin Luther King in the Broadway production of the new play, The Mountaintop, by Katori Hall directed by Tony Award Nominee Kenny Leon (Fences, A Raisin in the Sun). The Mountaintop will begin performances on September 22, 2011, at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street), with an official opening on Thursday, October 13, 2011. Tickets for The Mountaintop will go on sale at a later date.
The Mountaintop is produced by Jean Doumanian Productions, Sonia Friedman Productions, Ambassador Theatre Group, Jerry Frankel, Ted Snowdon, Bob Bartner, and Tom Wirtshafter.
In a joint statement, Ms. Doumanian and Ms. Friedman said, “The Mountaintop is a brilliantly conceived gem of a play. An ambitious work of fiction that is powerful, heartbreaking, humorous and exhilarating. We are thrilled to be bringing Katori Hall’s remarkable, Olivier-winning work to New York, and to present a singular new American voice to Broadway audiences. And we are honored to be presenting the Broadway debut of the great Samuel L. Jackson.”
Few Hollywood films are as difficult to mount as the biopics of historical figures. From The Hurricane to Malcolm X, A Beautiful Mind to Munich, The Social Network to even the most recent Best Picture Oscar winner The King’s Speech, there is always criticism that the filmmakers have been either too tough or too soft on flawed protagonists. It also isn’t unusual for that criticism to begin in the early script stage, even though screenplays get rewritten and vetted so much that a first or second draft might not reflect what ultimately ends up in the finished film. A recent target was Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar, whose script bizarrely was critiqued in The New York Times by a screenwriter who’d done a Hoover film years earlier and thus may have had a vested interest in seeing the new project not best his own. But what happens when the family and friends of a biopic subject get an early look at a script and don’t like what they’ve read? Should studios and/or distributors succumb to such pressure from insiders or ignore them? And what exactly in biopics constitutes fact vs fiction?
Martin Luther King Jr was killed 43 years ago today. Deadline revealed last Friday that Universal Pictures had dropped the Scott Rudin-produced and Paul Greengrass-directed MLK project Memphis. I’d heard that the decision came after the King estate and MLK confidante Andrew Young applied …
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures will make Memphis, the drama about the assassination of Martin Luther King written and directed by Paul Greengrass. The picture is being produced by Scott Rudin, the Oscar-nominated producer of Best Picture candidates The Social Network and True Grit. Production on the film is slated to begin in June. It reunites the studio with Greengrass, who last made The Green Zone for Uni and who withdrew from making a fourth installment of The Bourne Identity. Even though that last picture came in at a high budget and didn’t succeed at the box office, Greengrass turned in two hit Bourne sequels and the Oscar-nominated United 93.
Memphis steps in front of several pictures that were being mobilized about Dr. King. There is a Ronald Harwood-scripted DreamWorks project that has the backing of King’s heirs, and Selma, an indie that Lee Daniels was working on with funding from The Weinstein Company (that project seems to have stalled completely), and Harpo’s Oprah Winfrey and Kate Forte have an HBO deal for America: In the King Years, a 7-hour miniseries based on the seminal Taylor Branch book series, being adapted by Robert Schenkkan
EXCLUSIVE: Disney XD has renewed its flagship comedy series Zeke and Luther for a third season. Returning are creators and executive producers Matt Dearborn and Tom Burkhard. Production on Season 3 is slated to begin production in the fall in and around Southern California. Set in the mythical Northern California beach community of Pacific Terrace, the series follows best friends Zeke and Luther’s quest to become the world’s best skateboarders, while also navigating the ups and downs of teenage life. It stars Hutch Dano, Adam Hicks, Ryan Newman and Daniel Curtis Lee.
EXCLUSIVE: In their first substantial project since moving from ABC to HBO, Harpo Films’ Oprah Winfrey and Kate Forte are teaming with HBO to mount America: In the King Years, a 7-hour miniseries about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr based on Taylor Branch’s celebrated book trilogy.
Robert Schenkkan, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of The Kentucky Cycle who most recently wrote four episodes of HBO’s 10-part mini The Pacific, will write seven hour-long episodes. HBO acquired rights to Branch’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Parting The Waters, as well as Pillar of Fire and At Canaan’s Edge.
The HBO-Harpo mini means that, 42 years after his 1968 assassination, King isnow the focal point of three ambitious projects.
Precious director Lee Daniels is gaining traction on the drama Selma. The film has struggled with budget, but I hear it’s gaining steam for a fall production start on a $22 million budget, with Harvey Weinstein circling as the missing piece of the financing puzzle. The Weinstein Co. would join Pathe as financier on a film Plan B and Christian Colson are producing. David Oyelowo (MLK), Liam Neeson (Lyndon Baines Johnson), Hugh Jackman (playing Jim Clark, one of the sheriffs who arrested the civil rights leaders) and others are setting aside time for the fall shoot. (Given Oprah’s ferocious support of Precious, it is interesting to see she and Daniels in rival MLK projects).
The third MLK project is a DreamWorks biopic that Ronald Harwood is writing, with Steven Spielberg among the …
DreamWorks Studios announced today it’s hired playwright and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood to write the Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic. Overseeing the film are Mark Sourian and Holly Bario, Co-Presidents of Production for the studio, while, as previously announced, Steven Spielberg, Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones will produce the film about the renowned civil rights leader. It’s the first theatrical motion picture to be authorized by The King Estate to utilize the intellectual property of Dr. King to create the definitive portrait of his life. (Dr. King copyrighted his speeches, books, and famous works during his lifetime.) A native of South Africa, Harwood has long pursued themes surrounding race, conscience and moral choices as for his recreations of history. Among his many films, he wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Pianist and received Oscar nominations for The Dresser and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.
Charles Lyons is an AwardsLine contributor.
Late last year, the acting director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Morell, took the unusual measure of voicing the CIA’s distaste for a Hollywood film. “The film takes significant license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate,” Morell wrote in a letter to CIA personnel, later widely republished. “What I want you to know is that Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization, not a realistic portrayal of the facts.”
Of course, no one thought Sony’s Zero Dark Thirty was a documentary, but Morell’s letter speaks to the conundrum that any screenwriter crafting a script based on real events must confront: How to tell the story in a dramatically engaging way while remaining true to the facts.
HBO and Starz garnered three nominations each as the American Society of Cinematographers announced its TV nominees for the ASC Awards today. Winners will be announced at the 28th ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography set for February 1 at Hollywood & Highland Ray Dolby Ballroom. Here are the noms:
One-Hour Episodic Television Series
Steven Bernstein, ASC for Starz Network’s Magic City (“The Sins of the Father”)
David Franco for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire (“Erlkönig”)
Jonathan Freeman, ASC for HBO’s Game of Thrones (“Valar Dohaeris”)
Pierre Gill, CSC for Showtime’s The Borgias (“The Purge”)
David Greene, CSC for The CW’s Beauty And the Beast (“Tough Love”)
Anette Haellmigk for HBO’s Game Of Thrones (“Kissed by Fire”)
Kramer Morgenthau, ASC for Fox’s Sleepy Hollow (“Pilot”)
Ousama Rawi, BSC, CSC for NBC’s Dracula (“The Blood is the Life”)
Half-Hour Episodic Series
Peter Levy, ACS, ASC for Showtime’s House Of Lies (“The Runner Stumbles”)
Matthew J. Lloyd, CSC for Amazon’s Alpha House (“Pilot”)
Blake McClure for Comedy Central’s Drunk History (“Detroit”)
Jeremy Benning, CSC for National Geographic Channel’s Killing Lincoln
David Luther for Starz Network’s The White Queen (“War at First Hand”)
Ashley Rowe, BSC for Starz Network’s Dancing On The Edge (Episode 1.1)