Striking writers from the Joan Rivers-hosted series Fashion Police are protesting in front of E!‘s headquarters on the Miracle Mile in LA today. Among the chants overheard from the 100-plus on the scene holding signs: “We’re still poor, you’re still rich, give us back our paycheck bitch” and the Rivers-mimicking “What am I, chopped liver?” and “Can we talk?” The WGA-sponsored action was organized after the scribes filed suit in April with the state claiming the show and E! (and later Rivers’ production company) ran afoul of California law by not compensating writers for regular and overtime hours. They are asking for $1M-plus in back wages.
EXCLUSIVE: Feature/TV director David Slade (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) is set to direct the opening episode of Helix, Syfy’s upcoming series from from Battlestar Galactica developer/executive producer Ronald D. Moore. The project, written by Cameron Porsandeh and produced by Sony TV, is a dark thriller about a team of scientists investigating a possible disease outbreak. Moore, showrunner Steven Maeda and Lynda Obst executive produce and Porsandeh co-exec produces the series, with Slade set to executive produce the premiere episode. Production is slated to begin this summer in Montreal. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Boy, does Joe Roth have the hot hand when it comes to irreverent fairy tale fare. Deadline revealed last Thursday that the Oz The Great And Powerful producer had partnered with Jane Startz Production to acquire movie rights to The School For Good And Evil. After a spirited auction, Universal Pictures won the property in a seven-figure deal for book and scriptwriting fees. It’s the first title in a novel trilogy by Soman Chainani that will be published in the U.S. by HarperCollins on May 14 and in the U.K. on June 6. The trilogy tells the story of ordinary boys and girls who are kidnapped from their homes and sent to The School for Good and Evil, where they are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains, princesses and witches.
The protagonist is Sophie, a beauty who is dumped into the School for Evil while her homely best friend Agatha is taken to the School for Good. Both girls find their fortunes reversed and are forced to confront the truth about their unexpected destinies. The book debuts this weekend number 7 on The New York Times Bestseller list.
Universal is an easy fit for Roth and his top exec Palak Patel, both of whom will produce with Jane Startz. Roth and Patel produced Snow White And The Huntsman at Universal, and have a sequel in the works. They are also working with the studio on Daughter … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: We need to qualify Steven Soderbergh‘s self-imposed retirement from the business with an asterisk: feature films only. Just as his final film Behind The Candelabra airs this Sunday on HBO, Soderbergh is in talks to team with Clive Owen on The Knick, a period series set in New York in 1900. I’m told that he and Owen will set this series at Cinemax, which will give him a 10-episode season commitment. Soderbergh will direct all of the episodes. The setting: downtown New York in 1900, a tumultuous time of massive change and great progress. The series centers around the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff at Knickerbocker Hospital, who are pushing the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. Jack Amiel & Michael Begler wrote the pilot on spec, and they will be executive producers on the series. Owen and Soderbergh are also executive producers and so are Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Soderbergh’s longtime producer Gregory Jacobs.
While this might make some might look cynically on Soderbergh’s “retirement,” he told me the other day in an interview for the Michael Douglas-Matt Damon Liberace movie that for the moment, he has shut the door on feature films. I can see that he likes the energy present in pay and basic … Read More »
The cable news network announced today that its new talk show Stroumboulopoulos will debut on June 9 right after the Season 1 finale of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Fronted by Canadian talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos, the 10-week series will move to its regular Friday 11 PM slot on CNN on June 14. The Sunday premiere comes just over a week before the debut of CNN’s new morning show New Day, the jewel in Jeff Zucker’s rebranding of the network. CNN first announced the Friday pop culture interview show back in early April. Stroumboulopoulos will film in LA. CNN is certainly aiming to get a lot of mileage out of the new short-run show: Stroumboulopoulos will re-air at 2 AM and 5 AM on Fridays as well as at 11 PM, 2 AM and 5 AM ET on Saturdays for the summer.
EXCLUSIVE: Entertainment One has acquired U.S. distribution rights to Diana, the Oliver Hirschbiegel-directed drama about a secret love affair that Princess Diana had shortly before her tragic death. With Naomi Watts as the princess, this was one of the higher-profile pictures shopped at the Cannes Film Festival and eOne bought the rights from Embankment Films and Ecosse Films. eOne will also distribute with major releases in the UK, Canada and Spain with the U.S. film coming in Oscar season later this year.
Hirschbiegel helmed the Oscar-nominated Downfall, and screenwriter Stephen Jeffreys wrote The Libertine. Watts, coming off an Oscar nom for The Impossible, stars with Naveen Andrews (best known for ABC’s Lost and The English Patient) in this drama about Diana’s covert love affair with Dr. Hasnat Khan, a Pakistani heart surgeon. This happened in the last two years of her life, before she met Dodi Fayed, and the need for privacy led to her meeting her lover in disguises. This gave her a sense of living an anonymous life, but her incredible worldwide fame became an issue. The film is produced by Ecosse Films’ Robert Bernstein and Douglas Rae. Read More »
The Spike Lee-directed remake of Park Chan-wook’s cult Korean classic will now see its wide release on October 25, 2013, after FilmDistrict originally slated it for October 11. Oldboy will now bow opposite Paramount’s Paranormal Activity 5, which already had the date. Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen and Sharlto Copley star in the revenge pic, which was originally part of Park’s Vengeance trilogy that included Lady Vengeance and Sympathy For Mister Vengeance. That latter movie is also getting a U.S. remake, with Silver Reel and Lotus Entertainment announcing in Cannes that they are partnering with di Bonaventura Pictures and CJ Entertainment for an English-language version from a script by Broken City‘s Brian Tucker.
The broadcaster has begun to warn more than 1.5M viewers in 14 markets that its stations could disappear from Time Warner Cable and Bright House Network systems at the end of next week unless the companies reach a new retransmission consent agreement. Stations at risk include LIN TV‘s NBC, CW, and MyNetworkTV affiliates in Austin; CBS and CW stations in Buffalo, NY; NBC and CW outlets in Dayton, OH; and Fox and CW stations in Green Bay, WI. The two cable companies account for about 20.6% of LIN’s viewers, according to SNL Kagan data. LIN says on its Buffalo CBS affiliate’s website that “It costs a substantial amount of money to produce local programming, bid for top-quality programming, invest in high-definition, and make other upgrades to equipment and technology so we can deliver a superior product.” It adds in a statement that it wants “less than what Time Warner pays for many of its cable networks with far lower ratings.” But Time Warner Cable spokesman Jon Gary Herrera says that LIN is asking for a 50% rate hike, “a very steep increase from a contract negotiated two years ago.” Stations and pay TV companies typically settle retransmission consent disputes at the eleventh hour. But LIN’s stations were blacked out on Time Warner Cable for 25 days in fall 2008 when negotiations reached an impasse.
EXCLUSIVE: As this year’s sales market came to a close at Cannes, Drafthouse Films acquired North American rights to German drama Nothing Bad Can Happen ahead of its premiere today in the Un Certain Regard section. Pic marks the directorial debut of filmmaker Katrin Gebbe, who also scripted, and follows a young Christian punk who moves in with the family of a man he meets by chance and becomes the target of a cruel game designed to test his faith. Drafthouse Films, the distribution arm that Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse launched in 2010, has sprung repeatedly for edgy international fare. I hear Gebbe’s film had Drafthouse buyers reminiscing on Bullhead, the Belgian pick-up that was nominated for Best Foreign Oscar in 2012 taking Drafthouse to the Academy Awards in its second year of operation. Drafthouse is plotting a theatrical and multiplatform release for 2014 with Nothing Bad Can Happen to screen at Fantastic Fest in September. In March they picked up Cheap Thrills out of SXSW and will next release the award-winning docu The Act Of Killing in July. James Shapiro negotiated the deal on behalf of Drafthouse Films with Hengameh Panahi of Celluloid Dreams.
Universal has dropped the second trailer for Rush, the Ron Howard-directed racing pic about 1970s Formula 1 rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl star alongside Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara. Peter Morgan wrote the script. This trailer will play ahead of Fast & Furious 6 this weekend. Rush bows on September 20. Check it out:
ABC Family has picked up to seriesSpell-Mageddon, an hour-long game show where contestants take on hilarious distractions while spelling increasingly challenging words. The series, created and executive produced by Adam Reed, Adam Freeman and Leslie Greif of Thinkfactory Media (Hatfields & McCoys), will premiere on July 24, joining ABC Family’s Wednesday night comedy line-up at 9 PM, following Melissa And Joey and Baby Daddy.
Kurt Sutter, the colorful creator/executive producer of FX’sSons Of Anarchy, has signed with WME. He was with ICM Partners. Last year, Sutter inked his first overall deal: a three-year pact with FX Prods and 20th Century Fox TV, whose division Fox21 co-produces SOA with FX Prods. In addition to running SOA, which is heading into its sixth season, Sutter has been developing new projects for FX, including a comedy that may star his wife/SOA star Katey Sagal and an action/horror drama with John Shiban. Last year, the Shield alum executive produced Kurt Sutter’s Outlaw Empires for Discovery Channel. He continues to be repped by attorney Michael Gendler.
THURSDAY AM: The Hollywood studios now think every weekend should start on Wednesday just to wring every last dollar from moviegoers (and ensure I’m even more sleep deprived than usual). The result is that these 4 1/2-day holidays render comps and records meaningless even within a franchise. Warner Bros claims The Hangover Part III co-financed with Legendary Pictures is off “to a great start” with $3.1M from Wednesday late shows and Thursday midnights before opening wide today in 3,555 locations. But that’s a lot less than the last one. The real question is how much this Memorial Weekend box office can expand over last year’s to accommodate three new movies tracking very well (Universal’s actioner Fast & Furious 6 opening Friday in North America as does Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky Studios’ toon Epic: both with 70+% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes) plus three still thriving pics already in the marketplace (Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek In Darkness). What I don’t comprehend is why the weekend of May 31st stayed open for so long until at the last minute Sony Pictures moved Will Smith’s After Earth there. Hollywood expected either Warner Bros or Universal to blink. “But they just stared each other down as they both were driving off a cliff,” one rival studio exec marvels. Meanwhile, one Hollywood marketer is bound for hell after using the words ‘epic’ … Read More »
Adele Lim (Private Practice, One Tree Hill) has signed an overall deal with CBS TV Studios. Under the pact, she will serve as executive producer/co-showrunner on the studio’s new CW drama series Star-Crossed(previously Oxygen) alongside the project’s writer-executive producer Meredith Averill. Star-Crossed chronicles the epic romance between a human girl and an alien boy when he and eight others of his kind are integrated into a suburban high school. Also executive producing the series are Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Scott Rosenberg, Richard Shepard and Bryan Furst. Star-Crossed reunites Lim with Applebaum, Nemec and Rosenberg. She started out as Applebaum and Nemec’s assistant and worked as a writer for them and Rosenberg on ABC’s Life On Mars and Happy Town. She spent the last three seasons on CBS/CBS TV Studios’ The Good Wife and previously worked with the studio and the CW on Life Unexpected.
Matt Rogers will be the host of USA Network‘s new competition reality series Summer Camp, which will pit 16 die-hard campers in over-the-top competitions inspired by classic camp games. The final competitors eventually face off in an Olympic-style finale to determine the winner. The eight-episode one-hour series will premiere July 11. Allison Grodner and Rich Meehan are producing the Sony Pictures TV series via their Fly on the Wall Entertainment. Rogers was the former host of GSN’s Beat The Chefs, Discovery Channel’s Really Big Things, CBS’ There Goes the Neighborhood and Lifetime’s Coming Home. He is repped by APA and Untitled Entertainment.
CEO Jeff Bewkes must be glad that he only has to meet with ordinary shareholders once a year. Two dominated the Q&A session at today’s gathering with questions based on a view that Time Warner is engaged in campaigns to promote President Obama’s political fortunes, and gun control legislation. One found it suspicious that Michelle Obama awarded the Oscar for Best Picture, won by Warner Bros’ Argo. He noted that actor George Clooney — one of the film’s producers — had hosted fundraisers for the Obama campaign, and that the President and First Lady attended TNT’s annual Christmas In Washington special to raise money for the Children’s National Medical Center. “What a way to say ‘thank you’,” the shareholder said. Bewkes explained that the TNT show invites “sitting office holders that we have elected, whether wisely or not. They are not candidates.” As for the Oscar, “that’s done by the members of the Academy….That’s a whole forest if you wander into that.” Read More »
The final night of the 2012-2013 TV season saw six finales and one season debut. On ABC, Wednesday marked the Season 4 finale of Modern Family (3.6/11) at 9 PM. In a season that saw the comedy post its first adults 18-49 win over American Idol, last night’s episode dipped 3% from its May 14 show. While the highest-rated show of the night by far, Family also fell 12% from its Season 3 end on May 23, 2012 to hit an all-time season-finale low. That result could change a bit in the final numbers as the extra minute of Family is factored in. Last week, the show went up from its 3.5 in fast affiliate rating to a 3.6 later in the day. The Season 4 finale of The Middle (2.0/7) started ABC’s primetime last night, with the sitcom was up a slight 5% from last week and even with last year’s May 23, 2012 finale. A Modern Family (1.6/5) encore followed at 8:30 PM. How To Live With You Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life) (2.2/6) was the only non-finale original on ABC last night. The newbie comedy was up 10% from its May 14 show. Nashville (1.9/5) wrapped its freshman cycle with cliffhangers-galore show that saw a 12% rise from last week.
A two-hour Criminal Minds (2.7/8) finale was the only original on CBS last night. Literally ending with a bang, the Season 8 ender of the recently renewed procedural series was up 4% from its May 14 episode but down a hard 25% from last season’s two-hour finale on May 16, 2012. Though the most watched show of the night with 10.80 million viewers, that’s a finale low for the series. With 8.982 million watching, CBS won the night in total viewers and tied with ABC (2.2) in adults 18-49. Read More »