EXCLUSIVE: Why did the Shubert Organization, which owns 17 of Broadway’s 40 designated theaters, sign off on a deal to buy New World Stages, the five-theater underground off-Broadway complex owned by Dutch entertainment mogul Joop van den Ende? Sources tell me the answer has nothing to do with the arts and everything to do with real estate — along with the unique, not to say wacky, world according to Shubert, a $410 million nonprofit that coincidentally owns the most powerful commercial theater company in the U.S.
The company, whose theaters housed Les Miserables, A Chorus Line, Cats, Fiddler On The Roof, Amadeus and countless other legendary shows, has been Broadway’s reigning landlord for nearly a century. In recent years, the Shubert Organization has sold air rights above its landmarked Times Square theaters to the tune of $50 million. This spring, the Witkoff Group, a building consortium, paid $18.3 million for 45,000 square feet of of the air above the Shubert-owned Booth and Gerald Schoenfeld Theatres on West 45th Street. That deal will allow Witkoff’s project, the Times Square Marriott Edition hotel at 701 Seventh Avenue, to grow to 500 feet high.
Around the same time, Shubert sold the air above its Broadhurst and Majestic Theatres, on West 44th Street, to Algin Management, which plans to build an apartment tower on the site of the shuttered Roseland Ballroom. Pricetag? $17.5 … Read More »
Peter Sarsgaard has been cast as the lead in NBC’s The Slap. Also cast in a lead role in the 8-hour miniseries, based on the 2011 Australian short-run series, is Weeds‘ Mary-Louise Parker. The Slap is described as a complex family drama that explodes from one small incident where a man slaps another couple’s misbehaving child. This seemingly minor domestic dispute pulls the family apart, begins to expose long-held secrets, and ignites a lawsuit that challenges the core American values of all who are pulled into it. Sarsgaard will play Hector, a husband and father who loves his wife and family but shows signs of weakness when he finds himself succumbing to the advances of his wife’s teenaged receptionist during his own party. Hector’s cousin is the one who slaps the child. Parker will play Anouk, a close friend of Hector’s who’s the head writer on a TV show and is now dating the younger leading man. Sarsgaard, repped by CAA, Jon Rubenstein at Authentic, and Jodi Peikoff, and Parker are the first actors cast in The Slap, written by Jon Robin Baitz and to be directed by Lisa Cholodenko (the first two hours) for Universal TV and Australia’s Matchbox Pictures, producer of the original series. Baitz, Cholodenko and Matchbox’s Tony Ayres executive produce with Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald as well as Ted Gold. Sarsgaard most recently played death row … Read More »
The Walking Dead is heading to Washington D.C. for Season 5 to find a cure for the zombie apocalypse. That was made very clear by an intense 5-minute sneak peek that Comic-Con fans saw today in the massive Hall H (see it below). “This is a season that is going to be pretty close to the comics,” said Robert Kirkman. The comic co-creator and series executive producer’s point was emphasized by fellow EP Gale Anne Hurd, who hinted before the video was shown at some suburban locations, and “you’ll see us take some big leaps with the characters and the set pieces.” AMC announced the new season debuts October 12 at 9 PM.
Before the Season 5 video was shown the panel started off with a fake sitcom-like clip from Episode 15 of the upcoming season that showed an aged Rick Grimes and the other characters with long long beards playing cards in the train car they were trapped in at the end of Season 4. “Sort of like Cheers at Terminus,” joked showrunner Scott Gimple. Read More »
3rd UPDATE, 12:50PM and 1:10 PM: The Scarlett Johansson sci-fi actioner is expected to pull in over $30M (low to mid) and Hercules right under $30M (maybe $27M to $29M) as it looks now. More numbers will come as the day progresses but expecting Lucy to nab around $13M tonight (includes the late night number of $2.746M) and Hercules taking in around $10M to $12M tonight (includes the $2.1M late night numbers).
The Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson starrer also launched yesterday in 11 international markets, including Australia and Russia to gross an estimated total of $5M. The breakdown? $2.6M in Russia, which Paramount says is 40% higher than G.I. Joe Retaliation and marks the third best opening day of the year. The studio says that its Malaysian gross of $335K is also 10% above Joe. In Australia, Hercules opened to No. 1 with a $590K take (and Par says it nearly doubled the #2 film in the marketplace).
It doesn’t hurt that Johnson was considered the No. 1 international star of last year both with Joe and Fast and the Furious 6 in the marketplace. For those of you wondering, earlier this year, Lionsgate’s The Legend of Hercules took in only $42.6M internationally with Kellan Lutz starring. Johnson obviously has a much bigger imprint internationally so we expect this one to do much better business. Lionsgate’s version of the film also only opened to $8.8M and went on to gross around $18M and (yawn) change domestically.
In matinees in the states, And … Read More »
Former Resolution talent agent Steve Alexander has joined ICM Partners‘ LA office as a partner. Alexander reps actors including David Duchovny, Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany and Joy Bryant, who are joining him in the move. He recently exited Resolution among other high-profile departures including Dennis Kim and Leigh Brillstein.
Alexander began his agency career at CAA, where his clients included Heath Ledger, Natalie Portman, Jared Leto, Jeff Bridges, Johnny Knoxville, Kim Basinger and Eddie Izzard. He joined Resolution last year after a three-year stint at Atlas Entertainment.
Alexander brings ICM Partners’ total number of partners to 39.
iZombie executive producer and co-creator Rob Thomas told potential fans today at Comic-Con that he wasn’t screening the CW pilot at the fanboy confab because it’s not ready yet. “We’re recasting some of the roles and have three more days to reshoot. We wanted to have a finished product that is ready to air.”
As reported by Deadline on May 20, Alexandra Krosney in the iZombie pilot was being replaced. Krosney played Peyton, the best friend of do-gooder Seattle medical student-turned-zombie-tuned-PI Liv Moore (Rose McIver).
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Obamacare has been a blockbuster success in the entertainment industry, and the Actors Fund has played a vital role in helping thousands of low-income actors, writers and other industry professionals obtain low-cost health insurance. Earning enough to qualify for union health benefits always has been one of the most difficult challenges facing industry workers, but since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, obtaining health benefits has become a whole lot easier.
Related: New Rule Lets Actors Combine SAG & AFTRA Earnings To Qualify For Health Care
“In the performing arts unions, you only have about 20% of the members who are eligible for union benefits at any given time,” said Jim Brown, the Actors Fund’s national director of health services. “People move in and out of insurance coverage, and when they move out of that, we’re there to help them move into another insurance plan.”
Related: Split Decision: New SAG-AFTRA Pact Calls for Sharing of Pension And Health Contributions
Since open enrollment for Obamacare began October 1, the Actors Fund’s Covered California helpline has contacts by more than 15,000 industry professionals seeking assistance in signing up for government-subsidized health care. The Actors Fund has been working with Covered California to provide outreach and education to arts and entertainment professionals in Los Angeles, Alameda, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego counties. Since last summer, the fund has held more than 200 workshops attended my nearly 3,000 industry workers. Read More »
Screen Gems today trotted out a Comic-Con god in Sam Raimi, who dealt the kind of catnip that fanboys love. Raimi was there with Neil Druckmann, creator of the Naughty Dog game The Last Of Us, to talk about how that PlayStation 3 survival horror action game is being turned into a feature with Raimi producing and Druckmann now writing the screenplay. Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper, whose previous big vidgame-to-movie transfer was Resident Evil, basically has given over big creative controls to Druckmann in the movie transfer. That includes casting, and choice of director.
At this point, Hugh Jackman and Josh Brolin have been the consensus fan favorites to play the role of Joel, and the choice most heavily favored to play Ellie is Maisie Williams, the Game Of Thrones star who’s so sparked about this prospect that she would have shown up for today’s panel were she not waylaid by being part of an Entertainment Weekly cover shoot for GOT.
Said Raimi: “It’s gonna be a great character journey, a great love story, and great horror fiction.” Raimi took a moment to tease the prospect of more Evil Dead: “I always loved working on that series with Bruce Campbell and Rob Tapert, and my brother and I are writing the Evil Dead TV show right now … with Bruce Campbell.” They even toyed with the idea of having Campbell … Read More »
Cartoon Network has given series renewals to Adventure Time, Regular Show, Uncle Grandpa, Steven Universe and Clarence. Emmy-winning Adventure Time and Regular Show have been re-upped for a seventh season, Uncle Grandpa and Steven Universe have been picked up for a second season, and freshman Clarence is getting an additional 13 half-hour episodes.
“We have created global momentum with this group of home-grown series,” said Rob Sorcher, chief content officer for Cartoon Network. “Our commitment to keeping all of these comedies going strong is a reflection of our continued belief in the impressive creative talent powering them.”
Related: ‘Clarence’ Creator-Star Out At Cartoon Network Following Sexual Assault Allegations
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EXCLUSIVE: In a whopping deal, Tom Rothman’s TriStar Pictures has won the right to finance and release the $30 million budget Money Monster, a Jodie Foster-directed thriller that will star George Clooney as a Jim Cramer-like TV stock tout who is held hostage on air by a man who followed the huckster’s advice, lost his money and put his young family in precarious straits. Jamie Linden wrote the script. The thriller takes on a Network-like sensibility in that the hostage-taker warns he’ll execute the smooth-talking stock tipper the moment cameras are turned off, and the nation becomes obsessed with the drama that unfolds on their TV screens. The film begins production in the spring after Clooney completes the Coen brothers-directed Hail Caesar.
The film was packaged independently and is being produced by The Allegiance Theater’s Daniel Dubiecki, Lara Alameddine and Smokehouse’s Clooney and Grant Heslov. Drafts of the script were also done by Jim Kouf and Alan DiFiore. The huge deal was spearheaded by CAA, which reps Smokehouse and Dubiecki, and UTA on behalf of Foster. Linden is repped by Paradigm.
This becomes the latest example of a major Hollywood studio being aggressive on a fully percolated movie with star elements that is instantly ready to be added to a release slate. The budget doesn’t really seem that high, considering the star power of Foster and Clooney, and their upside will come in the film’s success from the back-end. It is also another high-profile project for Rothman’s TriStar. Much is being written about Sony Pictures, but as usual its long-term success will be determined by its picture pickers. Read More »
Marvel Studios‘ next potential franchise has a director and a writer, and now it the Doctor himself might be in. Oscar nominee Joaquin Phoenix is in talks to star in Doctor Strange. Those negotiations should put to an end all those Benedict Cumberbatch rumors blowing through the halls here at Comic-Con. The Wrap got this first one first. Marvel has been culling through a list of aspirants that included Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy and Jared Leto. The studio has been teasing references to the Doctor, most recently he got a shout out in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Scott Derrickson is directing and Jon Spaihts is writing the script for the pic (the first draft was penned by Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer). Doctor Strange was hatched by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko during that Marvel Comics heyday of the early 1960s. He’s a neurosurgeon who becomes Sorcerer Supreme, protecting Earth against magical and mystical threats with powers of sorcery, mysticism, and martial arts. Marvel’s Kevin Feige is producing.
Phoenix had more than a few people calling doctor strange when he played a quirkier version of himself in that wannabe rapper docu I’m Still Here. But when you see his work in films from The Master to Her, it’s hard to find many leading men who do it better and commit to character the way he does. He’ll be back on the awards circuit most likely in the Paul Thomas Anderson-directed … Read More »
From the upbeat mood of The Big Bang Theory writers at this morning’s Comic-Con panel for the series, you wouldn’t think that there was an intense cast negotiation going on, potentially delaying production of the show. All signals transmitted to fans in Ballroom 20 today are that Big Bang is moving forward. A Warner Bros TV rep told the crowd that the show is returning September 22 with a full-hour premiere, as CBS has planned. “I’ve thought about how I want the show to end, but I’m not going to say right now,” said executive producer Steve Molaro. He also mentioned to another fan that he doesn’t know when they’ll reveal Penny’s last name; it might be when she marries Leonard. However, the Comic-Con hall monitors, who typically let most questions through to the panel, were definitely on guard. When a Deadline reporter tried to ask Bill Prady and Molaro a question about the cast negotiation, the monitor exclaimed, “We can’t let you ask about that — it’s a legal question.” Read More »
AMC continues to explore new places and genres with a pilot order to White City, a geopolitical drama focused on Western diplomats and journalists living in Afghanistan. An adventure story set in the somewhat surreal ex-pat world of near-present Afghanistan, White City was among the scripts vying for a pilot order at the network’s 2014 annual script showcase held in the spring. The show focuses on Jon Liston, a war junkie who has spent the better part of the last decade in Kabul with a front-row seat to the carnage. In the pilot, against the advice of everyone from American embassy staffers to tweeting tribal leaders to the French journalist he’s in a relationship with, Jon tragically overreaches in an attempt to talk with insurgent leaders. In the series, Jon must find a new role in Kabul as he attempts to address his guilt, frustration and doubts about whether there is good left for him or any Westerner to do in Afghanistan.
Related: 2014 AMC Pilots
The project, produced by AMC Studios, comes from co-writers and co-executive producers Nick McDonell, a novelist (Twelve) and journalist who has covered Iraq and Afghanistan for TIME, and John Dempsey, former long-time resident of Kabul and senior advisor on Afghanistan to the late US diplomat, Richard C. Holbrooke. Executive producers are Chris Mundy, a former journalist for Rolling Stone and showrunner of Criminal Minds and AMC’s Low … Read More »
With the power of fans growing and the influence of TV reviews declining in the age of social media, the once marque summer TCA press tour has been taking a back seat to Comic-Con. Once again, the Los Angeles critics convention served as a warm-up for the San Diego geekfest, with the networks trying to save their noisy announcements for the Con. But what would’ve been another uneventful summer TCA was livened up by two big consolidation stories that broke in the first and second week — 21st Century Fox’s decision to put both the broadcast network and 20th Century Fox TV under the studio’s chairmen and CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman, and the company’s (for now unsuccessful) bid to acquire Time Warner.
The first news, which had been widely expected, was met largely with approval as an inevitable move in an industry where owning content is becoming more and more important. CBS has helped grow CSI into a billion-dollar franchise for the parent company, which owns the show. Compare that with The Big Bang Theory, which CBS developed and nurtured to a blockbuster hit that would make as much as $3 billion — for another company, Warner Bros. TV. Watching how much money it has made for WBTV, with the Chuck Lorre series, and for 20th Century Fox TV, with How I Met Your Mother, the network focused on growing its own syndicatable comedies, recently renewing CBS Studios-produced The Millers for a second season. During CBS’ TCA executive session, chairman Tassler was asked whether ownership played a role in the decision to renew The Millers over two 20th TV freshmen, The Crazy Ones, which drew bigger DVR ratings increases, and Friends with Better Lives, which showed better retention. “We will never ever, ever discriminate based solely on ownership,” Tassler said. “We feel that The Millers has a lot of great story material still imbedded in the DNA of the show.” Read More »
The Toronto Film Festival today revealed that David Dobkin’s The Judge will open the 2014 festival on Thursday, September 4. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Vera Farmiga, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong, Dax Shepard and Billy Bob Thornton, the film had been announced as one of the fest’s Gala titles.
TIFF describes the film this way: Big-city lawyer Hank Palmer (Downey Jr.) returns to his childhood home where his estranged father (Duvall), the town’s judge, is suspected of murder. Hank sets out to discover the truth, and along the way reconnects with the family he walked away from years before.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Judge’
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Looks like Mick Jagger has checked in from the set of HBO’s Untitled Rock ‘N’ Roll project. Martin Scorsese is directing and Jagger, Scorsese and Terence Winter are exec producing the drama set in 1970s New York. It 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. Ray Romano also stars as Richie’s close confidant and right-hand man, Zak Yankovich. Jagger tweeted this earlier this morning:
Outcast, the exorcism drama project from The Walking Dead executive producer Robert Kirkman, is moving to a pilot stage at Cinemax. Kirkman made the announcement on Twitter from Comic-Con, where he is with the AMC zombie drama which has its always-popular panel presentation in Hall H. In his pilot writing debut, Kirkman penned Outcast on spec for The Walking Dead international partner Fox International Channels, which developed the project internally before taking it out. Cinemax acquired the script last November. Like The Walking Dead, Outcast too is based on a comic by Kirkman, who will serve as executive producer alongside David Alpert of Circle of Confusion, Sue Naegle, Chris Black, and Sharon Tal Yguado of FIC. The project follows Kyle Barnes, a young man who has been plagued by possession since he was a child. Now an adult, he embarks on a journey to find answers, but what he uncovers could mean the end of life on Earth as we know it.
Thirteen years old and still selling well at Broadway‘s Broadhurst Theatre, Mamma Mia! has launched a new video series to promote the show with a nod to its major market, out-of-towners. MAMMA MIA!’s Guide To NYC will showcase art exhibitions, dining, shopping, et cetera, with the help of the show’s stars. The smoothly produced debut episode, with the show’s Lauren Cohn, takes in Art of the Brick. No, it’s not about the iconic downtown music and performance space. It’s a plug for the (admittedly amazing) Lego art installation at Discovery Times Square, which just coincidentally happens to be across the street from the Broadhurst. Watch: