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 Fartick, 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. The Sony TV pact comes on the heels of Faxon and Rash signing with WME last month. Faxon is managed by Principato-Young; Rash by Intellectual Artists. Both are with Stone, Meyer, Genow.
CBS’ Sunday series went for an encore performance, repeating their fast nationals ratings from last week. Big Brother (2.1/8) was once again the highest rated program of the night in adults 18-49. Unforgettable (1.0/3), midseason-turned-summer drama Reckless (0.6/2) also were flat, as was 7 PM anchor 60 Minutes (0.9), which was the only rerun on CBS’ schedule and once again the most watched Sunday offering with 7.7 million viewers. CBS won the night in 18-49 (1.2) and total viewers (6.2 million). ABC, the only other English-language broadcast network to offer original fare last night, finished tied with NBC for fourth in 18-49 behind Fox and Univision. The alphabet network’s performance was hampered by ratings declines for both Wipeout (0.8) at 8 PM, down 27% from last week and Rising Star at 9 PM (0.9, down 10%). Both shows hit Live+same day series lows. The live singing competition managed to build onto its lead-in for the first time in three weeks.
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 …
“For me, it is very important for this show to have Latin characters and Mexican characters that defy the stereotype of gang bangers,” said Guillermo del Toro today at Comic-Con about his series The Strain.
In what was a wide-ranging panel discussion of the new show, the Mexican-born director wasted no time revealing to a packed Hall H his specific intentions for the characters of the vampire series. “I want Gus to become not only a complex character but a full-fledged hero who will kick some ass,” del Toro said of the just-out-of-juvie Augustin “Gus” Elizalde role played by Miguel Gomez. The director also noted that the sense of cultural difference was part of the casting of Mia Maestro and the Dr. Nora Martinez character she plays. “Her being a Latin woman and me being a Latin man, we are very aware of otherness and I thought she could be a good counterpoint to Eph’s (Corey Stoll’s Dr. Ephraim Goodweather) scientific method. “God willing, next season, we have a masked Mexican wrestler to also kick ass,” del Toro added to big laughs.
The vivid and highly stylized The Strain chronicles the NYC head of the Centers for Disease Control Canary Team Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, played by Stoll as he, fellow scientists and others try to figure out a mysterious viral outbreak that seems to have arrived in America via a European-originated plane of seemingly dead passengers. There …
Comic-Con: Quentin Tarantino Confirms ‘Hateful Eight’ Is A Go; Talks ‘Django Unchained-Zorro’ Comic Book
After being prodded by a fan’s question, Quentin Tarantino confirmed that he is moving forward with his feature western The Hateful Eight. The announcement was made at Dynamite Comic’s panel for the Django Unchained-Zorro crossover comic-book. Everyone in Room 6BCF erupted with cheers.
In fielding fan questions, Tarantino also teased that he’s working on an extended cut of Kill Bill that would include animated footage that was cut out of the original 2003 film.
Taking the stage this afternoon, Tarantino also earned the second biggest standing ovation at Comic-Con this weekend after Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron clip in Hall H. The whole idea for a Django Unchained-Zorro crossover comic book sparked when Dynamite CEO and publisher Nick Barruci phoned Django producer Reginald Hudlin prior to the film’s release and pitched “Django meets Zorro.” (Zorro has been one of the titles in Dynamite’s library for some time as well as The Long Ranger). When Hudlin brought the idea up to Tarantino over dinner, the filmmaker immediately took to it. It was always part of his vision to have a Django western paperback series.
“I loved this idea, not only because I like western comics in general, but I also loved Zorro in all his iterations whether it was the Disney series or the William Witney films. I thought it was a great idea of taking the most famous, fictional Mexican western hero and putting him together with the newer, famous black western hero,” said Tarantino.
“I don’t want to make a ton of Django movies so this offered me a chance to keep control of the mythology, but to tell different …
UPDATE 3, 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.
UPDATE 2, 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.
UPDATE 1, 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.
Is there a better Comic-Con closing act than Quentin Tarantino? He’s here today to launch a Django Unchained comic book sequel, but I’m sure the crowd will prod him for details on his next movie, and you never know what you’ll hear when you put a microphone in front of Tarantino and ask the right question, or any question, really.
Here’s what I’m hearing, that he’s locking in everyone from cast to producers for an early 2015 shoot on The Hateful Eight, the Western which has had perhaps the most unusual journey to the start gate for a Tarantino film. That goes back to last January when he revealed to Deadline that he would shelve the movie because he felt so betrayed it got leaked by a rep for one of the handful of actors he showed an un-watermarked first draft script to. At the time, I spent half our phone call trying to talk Tarantino into not shelving it. After watching Inglourious Basterds for the umpteenth time last night, I’m sure glad his creative instincts overtook his feelings of betrayal.
Comic-Con: Last ‘Sons Of Anarchy’ Panel Talks Prequel, Previews Final Season, Amid Emotions For Kurt Sutter, Cast
SPOILER ALERT: This story discusses possible plot directions and future of Sons of Anarchy
Sons Of Anarchy may be starting its final season this fall but tales about the world shown in the FX drama are not over. “We are having serious conversations about our prequel,” said SOA creator Kurt Sutter to loud applause today at Comic-Con. “My sense is right now that I don’t know if it will be a full-on series or a mini-series.” While this is far from the first time the showrunner has talked about going back to the show’s roots, it had special significance Sunday in the massive Hall H for what is expected to be SOA’s last of many SDCC appearances.
“There’ll be no spinoffs,” added Sutter. “I think spinoffs work well on procedural dramas, which this clearly is not.” The SOA story will also continue in Bratva, the show’s first novelization. The upcoming book, whose cover art Sutter showed the audience, picks up after Season 4.
The often acerbic Sutter teared up when other show principals thanked him for creating the series and for the experience of working on it. “Sit the f*** down,” Sutter told the cast and the thousands in the hall when they gave him a standing ovation. “I got an image.”
Spoiler Alert: Story reveals details about The Following season 2 finale and direction of season 3.
Warner Bros. TV’s Comic-Con panel for The Following started with a literal bang this morning, showing an alternative ending where serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is shot by Lily Gray’s son Mark (Sam Underwood). Commenting on Carroll’s life or death and how it might impact Season 3, creator Kevin Williamson said, “We have a brand new story whether Joe is alive or dead. We don’t know how he’ll appear in season 3. We always saw it as a reset.” The cast was aware that they were shooting two endings, but did not know which one would ultimately air (we see Carroll being hauled off in chains). Nonetheless, Carroll alive leaves open his possible future involvement.
“There’s a lot of closure and resolution with Joe,” said star Kevin Bacon about the obsession his character, an FBI agent, has had throughout the series.
Other Season 3 details: Bacon’s Agent Ryan Hardy is in a better place with a romantic interest, but his stressful career chasing killers will always get in the way of his evolution. The Following will be set largely in New York this season.