Catty Philip Berk Memoir Prompts Leave Of Absence From Golden Globes Vote Body HFPA

By | Sunday April 13, 2014 @ 6:45pm PDT
Mike Fleming

berkEXCLUSIVE: After extreme pressure from other members over his memoir Signs And Wonders, four-term Hollywood Foreign Press Association president Philip Berk has taken a six month leave of absence from the organization that is behind the Golden Globes. This happened last Friday, a compromise resolution to a problem that has been in the air since Berk published a book that covered his early days and especially the back and forth between HFPA members and celebrities involved in the Globes. Insiders said that the feeling among HFPA members was that Berk blindsided them with his book, took shots at them and a lot of Hollywood celebrities, and also took way too much credit for the success of the Globes. Perfectly positioned to be a tool during Oscar campaigns, the Globes has grown in prominence and TV ratings, even as some questioned whether the voting body has a right to wield such clout.

The leave of absence means that Berk loses his HFPA credentials for that long, though he can certainly go see movies on his own. The move was a compromise reached with current HFPA president Theo Kingma, who resisted calls for Berk to be given greater punishment. In addition to the leave of absence, Berk has been asked by Kingma to have the book de-listed from Amazon, which is selling it. The HFPA will get into this further, engaging with the publisher tomorrow.

“He wasn’t suspended, there was no vote by the members, because this is a journalist organization that respects the First Amendment,” said an insider. “Unfortunately, free speech covers stupid speech too.” Read More »

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Fox Searchlight Sets Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s ‘Birdman’ For October 17 Bow

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 6:24pm PDT
Mike Fleming

birdmanEXCLUSIVE: While there has been speculation that Fox Searchlight and director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu would race to make the Cannes Film Festival, Fox Searchlight co-president Stephen Gilula tells Deadline that the film will open Friday, October 17. It won’t complete post production until late May or early June, meaning that it will be eyeing fall festivals.

This is his first black comedy, but Inarritu’s past films have been magnets for festivals, and he should have several choices for a festival that is compatible with the opening of Birdman, which Searchlight made with New Regency and Worldview Entertainment. Searchlight controls worldwide distribution and will release it overseas in January. So start the jockeying, Toronto, Telluride and Venice. Read More »

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Sunshine Sachs Ups Heather Lylis And Keleigh Thomas Morgan To Partner Level

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 6:22pm PDT
Mike Fleming

sunshSunshine Sachs’ Principals Ken Sunshine and Shawn Sachs have elevated Heather Lylis and Keleigh Thomas Morgan to Partner. They will join Sunshine and Sachs as the only other partners at the firm. The PR firm started 23 years … Read More »

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Justin Kelly Teams With James Franco & Gus Van Sant For ‘Michael’

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 12:39pm PDT
Mike Fleming

mag-19friend-t_CA1-articleInlineJustin Kelly, a protege of Gus Van Sant, has set a summer start date for Michael, a film that Kelly will direct that will star James Franco. The pic is based on the Benoit Denizet-Lewis article “My Ex-Gay Read More »

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Jane Fonda, Bruce Greenwood Join Russell Crowe-Starrer ‘Fathers And Daughters’

Mike Fleming

janefondaEXCLUSIVE: Voltage Films has set Jane Fonda and Bruce Greenwood to join Fathers And Daughters, the Gabriele Muccino-directed film that stars Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, Diane Kruger, Quvenzhané Wallis and Octavia Spencer. Production just got underway in Pittsburgh. The film is a love story between a troubled father and his daughter who lives in New York 25 years after him, Crowe plays a famous novelist suffering from depression as he tries to raise his 5-year-old daughter. Seyfried plays the girl as an adult, who has struggles of her own, shrapnel from that childhood. Fonda will play the novelist’s longtime friend and literary agent while Greenwood will play the writer’s brother-in-law, who with his wife (Kruger) wages a legal battle to forcibly adopt the young daughter (Kylie Rogers). Read More »

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Well Go USA And Gregory Chou Launch Caspian Media Capital To Fund Indie Pix

Mike Fleming

chouEXCLUSIVE: Well Go USA has partnered with film finance executive Gregory Chou to launch Caspian Media Capital, a new film fund that will finance and produce two to four indie films per year with budgets up to $20M. … Read More »

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On Eve Of ‘Mad Men’ Premiere, Matthew Weiner Near Millennium Deal For Pic ‘You Are Here’

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 11:07am PDT
Mike Fleming

you-are-here_-torontoEXCLUSIVE: Millennium Entertainment is near a deal to distribute You Are Here, the film written and directed by Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner that premiered at the last Toronto Film Festival.

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‘Sons Of Anarchy’ In Rearview Mirror, Ron Perlman Signs With Gersh

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 10:49am PDT
Mike Fleming

ron perlmanEXCLUSIVE: Gersh has signed Ron Perlman and his production company. After Hellboy and Sons Of Anarchy, Perlman is building the next chapter of his career. He’s not letting any moss grow under him since completing his superb … Read More »

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Verve Signs SXSW ‘Honeymoon’ Helming Team Leigh Janiak & Phil Graziadei

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 3:01pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Honeymoon__140327164557-275x154EXCLUSIVE: Hot off their SXSW debut Honeymoon, the filmmaking team of Leigh Janiak and Phil Graziadei have signed with Verve. The film, which Janiak directed and Graziadei wrote,  played strongly at the festival and Magnolia Picture’s genre label, … Read More »

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Kurt Wimmer At Center Of Feature Deal For Wired Magazine Article ‘See No Evil’

Mike Fleming

seenoEXCLUSIVE: Parkes/MacDonald Productions and Condé Nast Entertainment have partnered on the drama feature See No Evil, an adaptation of a Wired magazine article published in April. Kurt Wimmer has been set to turn the article into a fictionalized drama based on Alfred Anaya, a car stereo installer in California who became in demand because of ability to design traps, or secret compartments that often are used to conceal everything from drugs to cash and weapons.

The article was written by Brendan I. Koerner and the film will be produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald with Marc Resteghini exec producing. CNE’s Dawn Ostroff and Jeremy Steckler also will produce, in the latest deal for a movie and TV property based on product from the Condé Nast magazine stable. Wimmer, whose credits include Salt and Law Abiding Citizen, most recently scripted Point Break for Alcon, the remake that will star Gerard Butler, and the Charlize Theron starrer Agent 13 for Universal.

Once Anaya’s skill was discovered by the DEA, the feds tried to turn him as an informant. Terrified that informing on his clientele would put his family in danger, Anaya refused. He was arrested and charged as a conspirator in a drug ring that spanned from California to Kansas.
Parkes said the twists and turns of Anaya’s clash with DEA was a strong match for Wimmer in what he said was “this remarkable story of car hacking, drug smuggling, and what happens when you go toe-to-toe with the American justice system from written word to the big screen.” Read More »

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‘Game Of Thrones’ David Benioff & D.B. Weiss Plan ‘Dirty White Boys’ As First Feature

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 11:46am PDT
Mike Fleming

dwbEXCLUSIVE: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have taken on their first feature project since becoming the architects of the HBO series adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s Game Of Thrones, which opened its fourth season last Sunday. They’ve made a deal with Fox to write, direct and produce Dirty White Boys, the novel about three violent escaped convicts and the lawman who attempts to track them down. The 1995 novel was written by Stephen Hunter, who also wrote Point Of Impact, the novel that was turned into the Mark Wahlberg pic Shooter.

Benioff and Weiss have been forced to have tunnel vision because of the creative demands writing and exec producing the ambitious signature HBO series Game Of Thrones. This is the first project they’ve made a deal to direct together, and the first since they began the GoT journey. They said it all started while they were shooting the breeze with a bunch of writer pals.

d.b“We’re sitting around bullsh*tting and we started talking about lines we were jealous of before it came around to the familiar topic of greatest opening lines in novels,” Benioff told me. “Our friend Scott Frank brought up the opening line of Dirty White Boys. To be honest, I’d never hear of the book before, even though we’d heard of Stephen Hunter’s sniper series. Scott mentioned that opening line from Dirty White Boys, and it made me go out and buy the book, and Dan bought the book, and then we got past that first line and just fell in love with it.” Said Weiss: “It does grab you, the first line, and what keeps you is that the characters are so well drawn, really charismatic and awful people, so flawed. I don’t think you’ll be able to print the first line, because it’s got prison-soaked racism and is just really out there.”

I thought about this, and figured, what the hell. Hunter wrote it. I didn’t. Here’s the line: “Three men at McAlester State Penitentiary had larger penises than Lamar Pye, but all were black and therefore, by Lamar’s own figuring, hardly human at all.” Read More »

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Millennium Films Ramps Up ‘Septembers Of Shiraz’ With Adrien Brody Aboard

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 5:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Adrien Brody is joining Salma Hayek and Shoreh Aghdashloo in the thriller Chanel And Charles Finch Pre-Oscar DinnerThe Septembers Of Shiraz, which Millennium Films and now will start shooting June 9. The pic, directed by The SapphiresRead More »

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UTA Signs ‘Marco Polo’ Netflix/TWC Series Star Lorenzo Richelmy

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 12:43pm PDT
Mike Fleming

lorenzo_richelmy2-1__140409194100-275x288EXCLUSIVE: If you are a major agency and you wait for an actor to be discovered before signing him, it’s too late. UTA emerged from a competitive situation to sign Lorenzo Richelmy, who is playing the title character in … Read More »

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Jeremy Irvine Stars In Roland Emmerich’s ‘Stonewall,’ Ground Zero For Gay Rights

Mike Fleming

jeremyiEXCLUSIVE: War Horse star Jeremy Irvine has been set to star in Stonewall, the next film that Roland Emmerich will direct. Scripted by Jon Robin Baitz, the film is about the June 28, 1969 police raid at the … Read More »

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R.I.P. Ultimate Warrior

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 8:17am PDT
Mike Fleming

warriorJames Hellwig, aka The Ultimate Warrior, has died at age 54 after reportedly collapsing in Arizona. We don’t usually eulogize wrestlers, but this one makes me feel bad. I watched The Ultimate Warrior rise through what was then known as … Read More »

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Sony Pictures, Scott Rudin Acquiring Michael Lewis Bestseller ‘Flash Boys’

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 9:25pm PDT
Mike Fleming

flashboysEXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures and producer Scott Rudin are near a deal to acquire Flash Boys, the hottest-selling book in the country. Michael Lewis’ nonfiction work is about a group of Wall Street guys who grew frustrated by a loophole that gave traders the opportunity to game the stock market. They banded together to reform the financial markets by creating an exchange that rendered impotent the act of high-frequency trading, a growing form of trading that gave insiders an advantage. A story that is the antithesis of the practices that created the 2008 financial crisis, the book traces how the Flash Boys walked away from huge-money jobs to use their expertise to investigate big banks, stock exchanges and high-frequency trading firms. They peeled back the layers to bare why many feel that Wall Street is such a rigged game. The Flash Boys are the kind of guys who would have hated Jordan Belfort, the anti-hero of The Wolf Of Wall Street.

Related: Sony Closes Slate Co-Fi Deal With Lone Star Capital, CitiBank

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Sony Closes Slate Co-Fi Deal With Lone Star Capital, CitiBank

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 8:04pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: The funding commitment is $200 million, with half of that debt and the other half equity. It’s a multi-year agreement to co-finance the majority of Sony’s film for the next several years, $45 billion 20-year fund out of Texas, and this is a big move for Sony and reinforces Amy Pascal’s ability to put together powerhouse slates. That doesn’t include the films that Jeff Robinov is expected to make at Sony with his own funding, big films that Sony can co-finance or merely distribute. The money actually comes from LStar Capital, the credit lending affiliate of Lone Star, and CitiBank. Studio’s getting good notices on both the second installment of Amazing Spider-Man and 22 Jump Street, and this is a big shot in the arm for Pascal and Michael Lynton. Many lamented when Sony weathered a tough time last summer with White House Down and After Earth and Smurfs 2,  and then got criticism from minority shareholder Daniel Loeb. Some of that criticism, that Sony spent too much on its successes and didn’t protect its downside risk, is being addressed through belt tightening and this, but the Sony team, and Pascal in particular, takes risks and makes tasteful ambitious films. In an era where television has emerged as an enterprising medium, while there is a sameness in studio films, empowering Pascal to take big swings is something many feel is good for the movie business.

sony_logo__121101084843-200x133__130207090832__130530213852__131031103916 EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has closed a slate co-financing deal with Lone Star Capital and CitiBank that will cover the full slate for multiple years. I get the distinct impression this covers the entire slate, which includes plum franchises like The Amazing Spider-Man and its future spinoffs. They won’t get James Bond films, which are owned by MGM, but there are great titles. They included 22 Jump Street, Think Like A Man Too, Sex Tape, The Equalizer with Denzel Washington, The Interview, a piece of the Brad Pitt starrer Fury, the untitled Cameron Crowe film shooting in Hawaii with Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams, a new animated Popeye, Annie, The Kitchen Sink, Wedding Ringer with Kevin Hart, Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, the Adam Sandler pic Pixels, The Smurfs 3, and Hotel Transylvania 2, Goosebumps and the Dan Brown novel Inferno. Beyond Bond being off the table, it’s likely not getting the Men in Black reboot because other companies have options on it.

Related: Sony Looking At Other Suitors For Slate Co-Financing Deal

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Warner Bros Taps ‘Jungle Book’ Scribe Justin Marks To Adapt Vertigo Comics’ ‘Federal Bureau Of Physics’

Mike Fleming

FederalBureauOfPhysicsEXCLUSIVE: Justin Marks is reuniting with producer David Goyer to adapt Vertigo Comics’ Federal Bureau Of Physics, penning the script based on a treatment by Simon Oliver, who created the comic with Robbi Rodriguez. The comic series was … Read More »

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Screen Gems Acquires Action Spec ‘Padre’

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 12:40pm PDT
Mike Fleming

screengemsEXCLUSIVE: In a solid six-figure deal, Screen Gems has acquired Padre, a stark drama spec by Mike Maples. Greg Champion and Mark Lawyer will be producers and Screen Gems’ James Lopez will oversee it. The script has a … Read More »

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