British Film Institute Add 3 To Governing Board
The British Film Institute has appointed three new members to its Governing Board: Sony’s Andrea Wong, Blueprint Pictures’ Pete Czernin and UK TV host Jonathan Ross. Wong is President of International Production at Sony Pictures Television and President of International for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Among other duties, the London-based exec oversees Sony’s creative teams outside the U.S. as well as the 18 owned and joint venture international production companies around the world. Czernin co-founded London-based film producer Blueprint Pictures, whose titles include The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Seven Psychopaths and In Bruges. Czernin is prepping the release of Lone Sherfig’s Posh and is in production on Marigold Hotel 2, which is shooting in India with Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Richard Gere and others. Ross is a veteran of the BBC and now presents The Jonathan Ross Show on ITV. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Greg Dyke and co-chaired by Libby Savill. The other governors include Warner Bros’ Josh Berger and director Tom Hooper.
Global Showbiz Briefs: British Film Institute Taps 3 For Governing Board; BBC Two Drama ‘Banished’ Adds 4 To Cast; More
British Film Institute Add 3 To Governing Board
The first man to play Captain Video — the Guardian of the Safety of the World! — in the early days of television died today in Los Angeles. Richard Coogan was 99. He starred on the first two seasons of Captain Video And His Video Rangers, the popular low-budget space opera that premiered in 1949 on the DuMont Network. The future-set series aired for a half-hour Monday through Friday, also on Saturdays in 1950, with a reported prop budget of 25 bucks a week. The jut-jawed Coogan played a scientific genius who invented radical weapons and led a vast network of defenders of good. The program was a favorite of The Honeymooners‘ Ralph Cramden and Ed Norton, who were card-carrying members of the Captain Video Space Rangers fan club. After leaving Captain Video, the New Jersey native starred on the CBS soap Love Of Life and toplined late-’50s Gold Rush drama The Californians. He also appeared in 1950s features including Girl On The Run and Three Hours To Kill and went on to guest on TV series including Gunsmoke, Bonanza, 77 Sunset Strip, Maverick, Perry Mason and Laramie. He began his acting career on Broadway, appearing in about a half-dozen productions from 1945-55.
Maggie Grace is set to reprise her role in the third and final installment of the Taken movie franchise. Grace, who played star Liam Neeson’s daughter in the first two movies, is the first cast member with a deal in place to rejoin Neeson in the 20th Century Fox/EuropaCorp threequel, which eyes start of filming at the end of the month.
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Separately, Californication alumna Grace has been tapped as the female lead opposite Charlie Cox in CBS‘ untitled Wall Street drama pilot, executive produced by John Cusack. Set in the world of Wall Street power and money, the project centers Jackson (Grace), a smart, sophisticated, Wall Street hedge fund trader. Grace will play Jaime, a newly hired in-house legal counsel at the hedge fund who is smart, ambitious, savvy and has a conscience. The actress was able to close a deal after a lengthy negotiation that involved synching up the dates of the pilot and Taken 3. The pilot will be directed by Niels Arden Oplev from a script by Taylor Elmore and Ben Cavell based on a story the two co-wrote with Cusack and Kevin McCabe. Grace, repped by UTA, Wishlab and Jackoway Tyernan, will next be seen in the features We’ll Never Have Paris and About Alex.
The fifth edition of the annual event formerly known as Transmedia Hollywood will play out April 4 at UCLA’s James Bridges Theater. Transforming Hollywood: The Future of Television — co-hosted by UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, USC Annenberg School of Communication & Journalism and USC School of Cinematic Arts — will focus on creators and programmers reinventing TV for the digital future, the re-imagination of television consumption and indie television. Panelists at the newly renamed conference will include Joe Lewis, Head of Original Programming at Amazon Studios; Vicky L. Free, CMO at BET Networks; Ivan Askwith, Lead Strategist for the Veronica Mars Kickstarter campaign; Machinima chief Allen DeBevoise; and Belisa Balaban, SVP Alternative and Live Programming at Pivot; among others. Conference organizers said they decided to change the event’s name this year to reflect the big changes taking place in the American TV industry for creators, distributors and audiences.
The Political Animals alum has been cast in New Line’s San Andreas. She’ll play the ex-wife of a Special Ops firefighter (Dwayne Johnson) who treks with him from Los Angeles to San Francisco to rescue his daughter after the Big One hits. Carla Gugino‘s credits include New Girl, Californication and Entourage. She next appears on Fox’s Wayward Pines.
A&E will be going back to the drawing board with underperforming new drama series Those Who Kill. The series has been pulled after two episodes in the the Monday 10 PM slot, behind Bates Motel. The Psycho prequel series now will move back to the 10 PM slot where its first season aired. The series premiere of Those Who Kill starring Chloe Sevigny drew a soft 1.4 million viewers, down from the series debuts of A&E’s Bates Motel (3 million) and Longmire (4.1 million) and holding onto less than half of its Bates Motel lead-in. The freshman’s audience dropped to 830,000 in the second episode. There is no conclusive evidence that the move to 9 PM has had a significant impact on Bates Motel, with its second-season premiere up a smidgen from Season 1 and the second episode down. Despite Those Who Kill‘s paltry ratings (0.5 in 18-49 for the premiere, 0.3 for Episode 2), A&E brass want to give the show another shot, with a relaunch at another time, likely of the entire 10-episode first season.
EXCLUSIVE: Disney is making a new version of the classic Ray Bradbury thriller novel Something Wicked This Way Comes. The studio, which turned Bradbury’s novel into a 1983 movie, has set Seth Grahame-Smith to make his feature directorial debut on the project. He will begin work immediately writing a treatment, and the studio then will hire a writer to script the project. Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg’s KatzSmith Productions will be the producing banner and Katzenberg will produce the film.
The novel tells the story of how Mr. Dark, the evil proprietor of a traveling carnival who preys on the residents of a small town by bartering possession of their souls for the dreams each one has. Grahame-Smith said it was his favorite book as a child, but he doesn’t feel the movie is sacrosanct. Although the late Bradbury wrote the script, he later lamented that the movie lost a lot of the book. Grahame-Smith intends to put it back and plug a new generation into the tale.
When eccentric Dutch billionaire entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp unveiled his plan to put together a group that would be trained and sent on a one-way trip to Mars to establish the first human colony, it was hailed as a concept for the ultimate reality series. That has now become a reality. In a competitive situation, Lionsgate TV has teamed with Lansdorp’s Mars One for an unscripted TV series that will chronicle the mission. The untitled project, in the red-hot social experiment genre, will be shopped to networks shortly.
Mars One calls for new groups of four to be sent to Mars every two years, beginning no later than 2024. Announced last year, the scientific project already has received almost 300,000 applications from all all over the world, which are being whittled down. Lionsgate TV is expected to start its own casting search, with the two selection processes ultimately merged.
For the next several years, the series would be covering the different stages of preparation for the mission, starting with participant selection and the finalists — called candidates — undergoing an 8-year training protocol. The series’ cast will evolve as candidates in the mission drop out and new ones are brought in. “This is a social experiment that focuses on the people that would sign for something like this — they have to agree to participate and be willing to go on a one-way mission, knowing that if you go, you can never come back,” said Roy Bank, who is producing the project as part of his overall deal with Lionsgate TV.
The participant search is complex because the mission would require a lot more than astronaut skills. “They’re colonizing Mars and starting a new society, so this group needs to possess a wide variety of skills — from medical to engineering to social as they are going to live with each other.” The last part will be tested with the candidates on Earth as they are sequestered in a Biosphere-type isolated environment for an extended period of time to find the right mix. Adding another layer to the dynamic within the group is male-female interaction. “They will serve as a microcosm of a larger society, so it is not only about how they get along but also how they procreate; they have to create new life so the society grows,” Bank said. He called the show “a true social experiment.” Most series in the so-called social experiment genre — like Survivor, on which Bank worked, and Big Brother – are a mix of a social experiment and a game show, with contestants moved away from society for a limited period of time and competing for a cash prize. In Mars One, “the commitment is so much greater and much longer than TV season(s) would last; even before they would ever be put on a rocket, they need to be willing go for a longer period of time if not forever. Nobody knows if they will pull it off.” The last part leads us to one of the most controversial aspects of Mars One: “What makes it such fascinating social experiment the ethics of it,” Bank said. “Would a show like this be involved in promoting a suicide mission?”
Juno Temple (Maleficent) has been cast in HBO‘s untitled Rock ’n’ Roll drama pilot, from executive producers Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger, George Mastras and Terence Winter. The pilot is gearing toward production in early summer with Scorsese directing. Co-written by Winter and showrunner Mastras, the untitled drama is set in 1970s New York and explores the drug- and sex-fueled music business as punk and disco were breaking out, all through the eyes of record executive Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale), who is trying to resurrect his label and find the next new sound. Temple, repped by UTA, Troika and attorney Jamie Feldman, will play Jamie Vine, an ambitious assistant in the A&R department at the label, American Century Records.
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Cary Elwes, Jason Momoa, Drew Roy, Haley Webb and Shane Coffey have been cast in the dark comedy/thriller Sugar Mountain, an indie feature from Yellow Brick Films to be directed by Richard Gray. With the actors set production is now on track to start soon in Alaska. The pic centers on two down-on-their-luck brothers who fake a disappearance in the wilderness so they’ll have a great survival story to sell. But the hoax turns out to be more real than they planned. Grey’s Yellow Brick is also behind The Lookalike, the crime-romance drama starring Justin Long, John Corbett and Gillian Jacobs that Well Go USA picked up last fall at AFM for a summer release.
It’s been two years since China passed Japan to become the world’s No. 2 box office territory, and Columbia Pictures is making a big push to raise its profile there. The company said today that it has sealed partnership deals with Chinese filmmakers and companies to expand its local-language production in the planet’s most populous country. The first project on tap is The Monk, a martial arts action from Palme d’Or-winning director Chen Kaige, which is shooting on location in Hebei Province. Sony Pictures Releasing International plans a summer 2015 bow for the Chen Hong-produced pic, which follows a young monk who is forced to leave his impoverished monastery and must rely on his extraordinary martial arts skills to survive on the outside. He comes across a rare book about a lost martial art — a book coveted by a sinister father and son who will go to any lengths to obtain it. New Classics Media will distribute The Monk in China. The pic marks Columbia’s second recent production in Mainland China, following the upcoming Gone With The Bullets, Jiang Wen’s follow-up to his 2010 action comedy Let The Bullets Fly, which made $140M worldwide.
The CW wants to stay in business with Israeli actress Yael Grobglas. The network first cast the virtual unknown last year as the lead in drama pilot The Selection, and she recently finished a six-episode arc on Reign. Now the CW has tapped Grobglas again, this time for Jane The Virgin, which also has added Brett Dier (Diary Of A Wimpy Kid) and Andrea Navedo (One Life To Live). Based on the successful Venezuelan telenovela Juana la Virgen, Jane The Virgin centers on Jane (Gina Rodriguez), a hardworking religious girl who, due to a series of outrageous events, is accidentally artificially inseminated. Grobglas, with UTA, Thruline and attorney Jamie Feldman, will play Monica, who is left reeling when her husband’s sperm is used to inseminate the wrong girl. Dier, repped by Gersh and Red Talent Management, will play Michael, a cop and Jane’s steadfast boyfriend who has secrets of his own. Navedo will play Xiomara, Jane’s mother, who is fiercely devoted to her daughter. Mexican actor-singer-heartthrob Jaime Camil aslo co-stars in his U.S. pilot debut. Navedo, repped by LEG Management, Hardin-Curtis Associates, and attorney Jeff Endlich, appeared in indie Last I Heard and can be seen in the upcoming feature Superfast.
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EXCLUSIVE: Hot off 300: Rise Of An Empire, Atmosphere Entertainment’s Mark Canton is next teaming with Graphic India to develop a live-action feature based on The Sadhu. He will produce with Sharad Devarajan and Gotham Chopra, whose Graphic India is a character-based company focused on creating superheroes, comics and stories through mobile and digital platforms. The Sadhu is one of those superhero properties. Devarajan and Chopra also co-wrote the screenplay for Warrior: Revenge Of The Sadhu, a new mobile comic series on the character to be launched later this year across India.
The story centers on James Jenson, a British soldier whose family is brutally murdered by a corrupt superior officer in the Indian colony of Bengal in 1858. Jenson escapes in the remote forests of India, where he seeks refuge with the mysterious Indian mystics known as sadhus. After years of being trained in their supernatural arts, Jenson must decide whether to use his newfound powers for inner peace and enlightenment, or vengeance.
‘Heroes’ Tim Kring, Zak Kadison And Bradley Thomas Launch Imperative To Exploit Fast Shifting Platforms
EXCLUSIVE: Heroes creator Tim Kring has joined forces with Blacklight founder Zak Kadison and longtime Farrelly brothers producer Bradley Thomas to form Imperative Entertainment, a production company launched with financing from Dan Friedkin and his Friedkin Group. The Houston-based entrepreneur made his fortune through automotive and other ventures, and he will fully finance a company designed to use the trio’s skills and relationships to exploit seams in a fast-changing industry. This, they hope, will provide a strong alternative for content creators who want to develop material across multiple platforms including television, movie, video game, books, comics and new media.
I met the quartet in the two-story Santa Monica headquarters they are building. At that time, the sheetrock hadn’t been hung over the aluminum studs, and Friedkin didn’t expect the space to be ready until early next month. The venture already has gotten up and running, though. They are building their first slate and have just hired their first executive. They’ve brought in Justin Levy, the former senior veep and Head of Scripted Series Programming at MTV, who takes the post of EVP Content. At MTV, Levy helped build the channel’s scripted programming that includes Teen Wolf and Awkward.