In a morning meeting today ICM Partners announced it has hired another former Resolution agent, Kevin Hussey, and promoted NY-based talent department coordinator Sarah Kelly to agent. Hussey will be based in LA and Kelly will stay on the East Coast. Hussey worked at CAA for four years before joining Resolution as a talent agent in 2013, working closely there with Steve Alexander, who made the jump to ICM Partners on Friday as the agency’s 39th partner. Hussey, a former investment banker, was in the office today. Kelly began her career at ICM in 2010 as an intern, after which she became an assistant in the talent department working for co-head Adam Schweitzer. She was accepted into the agent trainee program in 2012.
Tara Lynne Barr has booked a recurring role in NBC‘s upcoming series Aquarius, a gritty 1960s drama about a cop (David Duchovny) who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. APA-repped Barr will play Katie (Patricia Krenwinkle), one of Manson’s adoring acolytes, who helps him lay a trap for the unwitting Emma, and later joins in the party when Manson deflowers his new recruit. Barr will next be seen in upcoming horror thriller feature 6 Miranda Drive.
Newcomer Kahyun Kim has been cast as a recurring in NBC drama The Mysteries Of Laura. Written by Jeff Rake and directed by McG, Mysteries Of Laura follows the life and relationships of Laura Diamond (Debra Messing), a female homicide detective who can handle murderous criminals but not her hell-raising twin children. Kim, repped by SDB Partners and Kyle Fritz Management, will play Sammi, a whip smart and feisty political activist who bonds with Detective Diamond when she’s arrested during a protest.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes just won an indirect endorsement for his argument that his shareholders would be better off letting him lead the company instead of accepting a cash and stock offer from Rupert Murdoch. Without a deal, Time Warner shares should hit $95 within a year, and there’s “a credible stand-alone bull case valuation of $105,” Morgan Stanley Research’s Benjamin Swinburne says today. The numbers are important: Time Warner rejected Murdoch’s $85 a share bid, and many analysts say that he could go as high as $105 before choking on the cost. That probably wouldn’t impress shareholders if they believe that they’ll see that price without the risk that would come with such a big deal.
Swinburne’s analysis begins by accepting Bewkes’ forecast that cable and satellite company payments to Time Warner’s Turner networks will grow at double digit rates each year over the next five years. “Given 7 out of the top 10 distributors have already renewed (as of early ’14), we see limited downside risk to [the] guidance,” the analyst says. Those payments now account for 20% of Time Warner revenues.
HBO also could grow subscriptions and revenues by tinkering with its pricing and deals with pay TV distributors. It has about 30M domestic subscribers, but the below-average penetration rates at Time Warner Cable and Dish Network suggest that there are “key opportunities for HBO to drive further revenue-generating subscriber growth.” Along that line, Bloomberg reported today that HBO is considering expanding a test with Comcast, introduced last year, that offers broadband service, basic TV, and HBO …
Christopher Walken will voice King Louie, the ruler of a troop of monkeys and apes, and Giancarlo Esposito will play Akela, leader of the wolf pack, in Disney‘s Jungle Book. It’s the latest edition to the live-action/animation hybrid pic, which Jon Favreau is directing from a script by Justin Marks. The duo join Ben Kingsley as Bagheera, Lupita Nyong’o as Raksha, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Scarlett Johansson as Kaa and newcomer Neel Sethi as Mowgli – the only actor to physically appear on screen. The 3D pic has an October 9, 2015 release date.
4TH UPDATE, 10:15 AM: Another video has surfaced of the incident, this one heavily annotated and showing much more than any of the previous videos. The creator of this video points out where people were in relation to the car, and a number of people who appear to be standing in the middle of the street and declining to move. About 22 seconds in, someone jumps on the hood of the car. Others cluster around the windows (it’s important to note that many of these people do not appear to be wearing zombie outfits). Here it is:
3RD UPDATE, 2:45 PM SUNDAY: We’ve added at the end of this story several snippets of video posted on YouTube during and just after the incident. They provide some additional sense of the chaos around the event, and give a somewhat better idea of what happened. They are far from definitive, however, and the rest will await the police investigation.
2ND UPDATE, 1:15 PM SUNDAY: And a little more. The organizers of the ZombieWalk officially declined comment regarding the Saturday evening incident, as the the event was breaking up, between the costumed crowd of participants and a car filled with a deaf family, an incident that left a 64-year-old woman hospitalized with serious but non-life-threatening injuries including a possible broken arm. We’ll continue to update as we get more.
1ST UPDATE, NOON SUNDAY: A little more information, very little, and a lot of heated reaction, are coming out this morning after last night’s incident at the end of the annual San Diego ZombieWalk, when a car with a deaf family in it hit and possibly broke the arm of a woman at the end of the event and a crowd of other ZombieWalkers in costume began beating on the car, panicking the family.
Fresh off unveiling a Sin City: A Dame To Kill For‘s opening sequence and red band at Comic-Con this weekend, Dimension Films dropped the new girls ‘n’ guns-packed trailer this morning. The original Sin City opened 2005, and in the nine years since Rodriguez and Miller have added more crispness to the series’ black-and-white comic book aesthetic. The hyper-stylized and ultra-violent footage for the second one, which bows August 22, more than perked up Comic-Con attendees. Check out the trailer:
EXCLUSIVE: Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (The Descendants) have signed a two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures TV. This marks the first overall TV pact for the Oscar-winning writing duo. Under the agreement, Faxon and Rash will develop and produce series projects with Kevin Walsh, their film and TV producing partner at the trio’s B Story banner. Faxon and Rash previously penned the 2005 ABC comedy pilot Adopted and made their TV directing debut this past season with Fox’s comedy pilot Fatrick, which they also executive produced. Additionally, both have series experience as actors. Rash has a relationship with Sony TV with his co-starring role on the studio’s cult comedy Community, which recently found a new home at Yahoo, while Faxon stars on FX’s freshman comedy series Married.
On the feature side, in addition to earning an Oscar for co-writing The Descendants with Alexander Payne, the duo helmed their script for The Way, Way Back, which starred Steve Carell and premiered at Sundance in 2013. Faxon and Rash were repped in the deal-making with Sony TV by CAA. The duo have since signed with WME. Faxon is managed by Principato-Young; Rash by Intellectual Artists. Both are with Stone, Meyer, Genow.
Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network and Celestial Pictures have inked a long-term programming partnership that extends and expands on an existing licensing agreement. Under the new five-year deal, El Rey will have access to 255 martial arts titles from the Shaw Brothers vault – the world’s leading martial arts collection, many on an exclusive basis. Financial terms were not disclosed. El Rey and Celestial also are in talks on new original programming concepts based on the Shaw Brothers’ films.
The risks of a deal are becoming more apparent as 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch prepares to sweeten the $80B offer that Time Warner rejected, MoffettNathanson Research’s Michael Nathanson observes in a thought-provoking report this morning. With memories of the AOL Time Warner debacle still fresh in their minds, Time Warner execs won’t accept a non-cash bid “unless it is wildly generous,” the analyst says. He hopes Fox draws the line at $100 a share, up from $85, but notes that Murdoch could go to $105 without losing his company’s investment-grade debt rating. Yet if he prevails at that price, then Fox would have little margin for error. And Nathanson warns that mega-mergers “are more complicated than the simplicity of adding two Excel spreadsheet models together.”
The bottom line is that Fox’s stock “is in purgatory”as long as Murdoch’s interest in Time Warner remains alive. And the legendary dealmaker may not be able to pull it off. “After initially believing that this deal gets done at $100 per share, we have our doubts that it will be done at all,” Nathanson says. Among his concerns:
What’s up with Chase Carey? The Fox COO is highly regarded on the Street, but his contract expires in mid-2016. Some shareholders “are nervous that this deal — and the value of [Fox's] stock — will fall short of expectations if Chase was to leave.”
EXCLUSIVE: Carlton Cuse is officially the hardest-working drama showrunner in town with three series and two pilots on his plate. USA Network has handed a pilot green light to Colony (working title), from Lost alum Cuse and Hercules co-writer Ryan Condal. The project hails from Legendary Television, marking the first scripted pilot for the company, and Universal Cable Prods.
Written and executive produced by Cuse and Condal, Colony was featured on USA’s development slate in May. It is described as a naturalistic drama set in the near future in Los Angeles, which exists in a state of occupation by a force of alien intruders. Some collaborate with the authorities and benefit from the new order, while others rebel and suffer the consequences. The project centers on a family torn by opposing forces and making difficult choices as they balance staying together with surviving the struggle of the human race.
“Colony is a gripping story that brilliantly weaves together an intense family drama in an authentic, yet unknown, world,” said USA President Chris McCumber. USA had been looking to return to the alien genre space, which the network tackled with the 2007 sci-fi series The 4400. Its most previous batch of pilots included World War II alien drama Horizon, which didn’t go to series.
Hulu’s subscription service Hulu Plus has bought exclusive VOD rights to stream online episodes of WGN America‘s new historical drama Manhattan, the companies announced the morning after the show’s debut. Under the deal, new episodes of the show will unspool each Monday after their initial Sunday airing on WGN until all 13 have played. The five most recent episodes will be available for free on Hulu’s basic service, after a three-day delay.
Hulu touted the deal in a release as the first time it has secured SVOD rights on a show before a single episode has aired. Manhattan is set in WWII in the Manhattan Project in New Mexico’s desert, where the federal government set up a secret project to research the first atomic weapons, and the surrounding and equally secret community set up to support the work. The show is being produced by Tribune Studios, Lionsgate and Skydance Television. Manhattan was created and written by Sam Shaw (Masters of Sex) and directed by Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing). Executive producers are Shaw, Schlamme, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Marcy Ross and Dustin Thomason.
China Briefs: Beijing Forum To Address Sino-U.S. Film Cooperation; Local Producers Eye ‘Avatar’ Rival
A forum to be held this week in Beijing will address critical issues facing the Chinese film industry, especially as they regard cooperation with the U.S. The state-backed China Film Association has created the International Communication Committee of CFA in an effort to educate and engage the global film community, particularly Hollywood, in how to partner with China’s film entities to access the market. As Hollywood increasingly seek to establish ties to China, some thorny issues have crept up. Recently, Transformers: Age Of Extinction has faced criticism from sponsors over their portrayal, while the Chinese are understood to be concerned about foreign press coverage of reported extortion attempts on the set in Hong Kong last year. I hear folks expected to attend the forum include top execs from SAPPRFT, China Film Group, Huaxia Films, the CFA and DMG. Also expected to attend panels and presentations are former Skydance COO Paul Schwake and screenwriter Evan Daugherty (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Divergent).
With Avatar the 2nd highest-grossing film in Chinese history, local producers are looking to cash in with their own rival take. The state-backed Xinhua news agency reports that Beijing Chinese Century Media Company is prepping 3D fantasy film Bainiaoyi to shoot in May 2015 in Hengxian County for release at the end of 2016. The tale based on Zhuang folklore follows a young …
Regular collaborators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones have launched production company House of Tomorrow at Endemol UK. The new outfit will produce dramas, comedy series and feature films for the UK and international markets and already has projects in development at U.S. and UK networks. Writer/host/producer Brooker will be Creative Director of House Of Tomorrow and Jones will be Managing Director. The pair were previously aligned at Endemol-owned comedy producer Zeppotron. Their collaborations have included widely sold series like the International Emmy winning satirical drama Black Mirror, detective spoof A Touch of Cloth and BAFTA nominated thriller Dead Set. Jones also exec produces popular BBC comedy Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe. She was formerly Endemol UK’s head of business developement and headed up the group’s M&A team. As Endemol increases its scripted footprint around the globe, it will add House of Tomorrow to its growing stable of drama producers including Tiger Aspect Productions and Artists Studio. The Big Brother producer also recently entered an exclusive first-look development and distribution deal with UK drama producer Mam Tor Productions Limited.
Lionsgate has released the minute-long teaser trailer for its Hunger Games and Catching Fire sequel Mockingjay – Part 1, which it tantalized Comic-Con fans with this weekend in San Diego. In the third installment of the dystopian action franchise, Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) plot the next move for their rebellion and its iconic new poster girl, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence).
Lionsgate built an impressive off-site fan experience at Comic-Con this year. Rather than unveil its latest look at Mockingjay in Hall H, the studio partnered with Samsung on a slickly-outfitted space designed like the Capitol, located inside the Hard Rock Hotel, where fans walked through interactive Hunger Games and Samsung co-branded activities and got the first look at the below teaser. The film hits theaters November 21. Watch now:
We have the Oprah Winfrey Network. Now it is being joined by the Sarah Palin Channel, though with a very different sort of audience reach. The conservative — and often polarizing — pundit, former GOP Vice Presidential candidate and Alaska governor today launched her own subscription-based online channel, which is part of Tapp, the online-video venture formed by former NBC chairman Jeff Gaspin and former CNN U.S. president Jon Klein. Membership will cost $9.95 per month or $99.95 for a year.
In a video message announcing the Sarah Palin Channel (watch below), the Fox News contributor described her new venture as a news channel where she will “talk about the issues the main stream media won’t talk about,” adding, “I want to talk directly to you on my channel on my terms, and no need to please the powers that be.”
Q&A: Peter Jackson On His Middle Earth Exit, How The Beatles And Stanley Kubrick Nearly Did LOTR, And A Disguise That Let Him Haunt Comic-Con
Peter Jackson is coming to the end of a stay in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth that has dominated a quarter of the 53-year-old director’s life, right into middle age. The result: three Lord Of The Rings films and two installments of The Hobbit that have grossed $4.89 billion in worldwide box office.
By the time The Battle Of The Five Armies, the finale to The Hobbit trilogy, plays out, Jackson’s six films may reach $6 billion, and better the current hardware haul of 17 Oscars including Best Picture for Return Of The King, and 35 other noms. Unless James Cameron has something to say about it with his new Avatar trilogy, we may never see anything again in our lives to match Jackson’s cinematic accomplishment, all done with the same creative team.
If he’s feeling the weight of that, he wore it well at Comic-Con. Mostly, he battled jet lag after the long trip to San Diego from New Zealand, where the last film waits for him to finish. He’s tired enough when I enter his hotel room that he suggests I get in bed next to where he’s resting. Then he thinks better, unsure he can stay awake unless upright. I tell him I had the same problem the night before at a very funny live Chris Hardwick-hosted game show my son was desperate to see, only to nudge me again and again for snoring too loud. Our chat started with middle-age sleep apnea and moved to Middle Earth, how close The Beatles came to doing The Lord Of The Rings with Stanley Kubrick, and how Jackson will handle leaving Middle Earth, a place he almost didn’t get to visit at all.
JACKSON: So you almost ruined your son’s time by snoring? I once flew coach class from New Zealand to London, and my friends informed me they’d gotten a ticket for the theater at the West End stage. My friend had to elbow me because not only could they see me from the stage, they could probably hear me as well. When I worked as a newspaper photo engraver in the only job I ever had, many years ago, I’d get the train home to Pukerua Bay where I was staying with my parents. An hour ride, 16 stops and almost always I’d have automatic wake-up, seconds before we pulled into my station. Travel makes you tired more than anything, and Friday was my daughter’s 18th birthday and we celebrated here.
DEADLINE: One of those tiny gorgeous kids we watched grow up in glimpses during Lord Of The Rings films?
JACKSON: She was 3 when we made The Fellowship Of The Ring. Katie and Elijah Wood were talking today and they figured out she was 3 when he first met her. She’s 18. Kids, more than anything in life, chart time for us.
DEADLINE: Movies and sports do it, too. It’s easy to be cynical, but I am so charmed by these Comic-Con people and how the proceedings bring out the child versions of themselves. Total lack of cynicism. Do you get to appreciate that still?
JACKSON: There’s a certain reality to me going out now. I’d get six paces, no further, and it would be selfies, and nothing else. In the old days, people asked you to sign something, and half would be too nervous to ask. Now, there’s an aggression to it, like they want you as a trophy on their web page. It’s a social coup to nail you on their cell phone. It changed everything. I get six paces and then can’t walk another. But I went anyway, yesterday, found a way to walk all the way around the convention center.
DEADLINE: How did you manage that?
JACKSON: Oh, I got myself a secret identity. I became the Evil Jester. You can look at the photos on my Facebook page.
Peter Charles Marquardt, an actor and video-game producer who played the drug kingpin villain in El Mariachi and appeared in other Robert Rodriguez films as well, died in Austin July 19, at the age of 50, an Austin funeral home has confirmed. Marquardt also appeared in Rodriguez’s films Desperado and Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, as well as several short films. Separately, he was voice talent and an associate producer for Austin-based ION Storm on several video games, most notably Deus Ex in 2000 and Wing Commander IV in 1996, and was co-producer on one game, Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3.
A funeral director at Cook-Walden/Forest Oaks Funeral Home and Memorial Park in Austin confirmed that Marquardt had died but had no other information. Cook-Walden’s website said funeral arrangements are pending. No information on the cause of death was immediately available and Austin police could not be reached.
Marquardt met Rodriguez while they were participating in a drug study and were bunk mates. Rodriguez was participating in the study to raise money for 1992′s El Mariachi, his first film, famously shot for a little more than $7,000. Marquardt played Mauricio, the drug gang kingpin whose crew mistakes El Mariachi, the guitarist played by Carlos Gallardo, as an assassin. Later, Marquardt (who did not speak Spanish), showed up in a flashback of that role in Rodriquez’s 1995 big-budget sequel Desperado, starring Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek.
UPDATE: Intl Box Office: ‘Apes’ Dawns In Latin America; ‘Godzilla’ Stomps Japan; ‘Hercules’ Has Muscle; Big Action In Asia; ‘Kick’ Hits India; More
2ND UPDATE, 5:10 PM PT: While Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, Transformers: Age Of Extinction, newcomer Hercules, and How To Train Your Dragon 2 led the international charge for the studios this weekend, there was local action in Asia. The Continent, a feature directorial debut from author/rally car driver/blogger Han Han, had a $45M cume after opening Thursday. That bested the 2nd frames of The House That Never Dies ($8.7M weekend, $48.5M cume) and Tiny Times 3 ($7.2M weekend, $73.5M cume). Also in China, TAOE added $5.4M to pass $300M with a $301M cume. Its worldwide total is now $966.35M, and with Japan and Spain to come on August 8, that’s the weekend to expect it to tumble over $1B. In Korea, period action film Kundo: Age Of The Rampant made good on its buzz and earned $20.1M. Elsewhere, we’re still waiting on official numbers for Salman Khan’s Kick as it rolled out to several international markets. At home in India, it’s understood to have had the best opening day of the year at about $4.4M.
Among the Top Ten studio releases internationally, there was a 34% drop from last weekend when TAOE added $84.6M and Apes brought in $61.9M as the top grossers. This frame was down 17% compared to the same one last year that saw …