Jodie Foster is carving out a nice, new career as a TV director. Though she hit a bump with her last feature directorial, the Mel Gibson drama, The Beaver ($971K), she rebounded today with an Emmy nomination for her comedy series helming work on the third episode of Jenji Kohan’s Orange Is the New Black entitled “Lesbian Request Denied”. It’s actually Foster’s second Emmy nod overall, her first being for the Showtime 1999 movie she executive produced, The Baby Dance, starring Stockard Channing and Laura Dern. It would be an understatement to say that the word ‘bold’ is always associated with Foster’s oeuvre, whether it’s playing a child prostitute in Martin Scorsese’s 1976 iconic Taxi Driver to producing and acting in the 2007 femme vigilante film The Brave One. Orange Is the New Black is arguably the first time that Foster as a director has dealt with the subject of lesbianism on screen. She also returned to direct the second season premiere of Orange Is The New Black with the episode “Thirsty Bird” and also went behind the camera for Netflix‘s House of Cards episode ”Chapter 22″. Frequently, feature directors are finding creative redemption in TV, read Doomsday British helmer Neil Marshall who was behind two Games of Thrones episodes, this season’s being “The Watchers on the Wall”.
Global Showbiz Briefs: ‘Lucy’ To Open Locarno Film Festival; Brazil’s Take On ‘Rising Star’ Gets Season 2 Renewal; More
‘Lucy’ To Open Locarno Film Festival
Luc Besson’s Lucy is set to open the Locarno Film Festival on August 6. Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman star in the sci-fi pic about a woman caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior. Besson showed extended clips at CineEurope in Barcelona a few weeks ago that handily demonstrated Johansson’s badass-ness in the vein of other of his strong female heroes. The director will be on hand in Switzerland to present the movie that’s produced by his EuropaCorp. Universal releases Stateside on July 25.
Brazil’s ‘SuperStar’ Gets Season 2 Renewal
Rising Star’s Brazilian version, SuperStar, has been renewed for a second season — this is the first renewal for a local version. Rede Globo has ordered a 14-episode second season of Superstar to air in 2015. The Keshet International format had its finale on Sunday and was the most-watched show of the night, peaking with a 33% share and 3M votes. It averaged a 31% share throughout the first season, during which the voting app was downloaded 3.2M times and about 25M votes were cast. The other international versions currently airing are in Portugal and the U.S. Season 2 of the original Israeli format is prepping up.
‘Mandela’ Getting Wide Release In China
In a first for a South African film in China, …
“Don’t cross the streams” can mean something entirely different than it in 1984, right? Sony Pictures is dialing up the wayback machine for a 30th anniversary (!!) reissue of Ghostbusters, the ectoplasmic effects-a-ganza that drew bigger crowds than even Indiana Jones that summer. While we wait for Ghostbusters 3, a 4K restoration of the horror comedy starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis will re-haunt theaters for one week only starting August 29. Gather up Gozer and Zool, unwrap a 35-foot Twinkie, put on your legwarmers and re-live the mid-Reagan era with this flashback trailer. Just don’t come crying to us if “Who ya gonna call?” — or maybe even “I Want a New Drug” — gets Superglued to your gray matter. You’ve been warned:
It’s not every week that a major milestone in filmmaking opens in theaters, but this is one. Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, a dozen years in the making, finally makes its ways to an initial handful of theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The IFC Films release has a lot of momentum behind it, with word-of-mouth and buzz that should translate into a successful opening; word has it that advance sales are “strong”. It will be joined by a filmmaking milestone of a much different sort in Variance Films’ Closed Curtain, an acclaimed feature created by Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who made the film discretely despite being banned from his craft at home and under the watchful eyes of authorities. Sony Classics’ Sundance title Land Ho! provides a comic twist to this week’s opening Specialties, as will Magnolia Pictures’ A Long Way Down.
Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking film had ridden a long wave of buzz even before its sneak preview at the Sundance Film Festival and its debut in Berlin this year. Twelve years in the making, the drama centers on the life of a boy, Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane throughout), between ages 5 and 18. The film began in 2002 when Linklater teamed with Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette. Linklater also tapped his daughter Lorelei Linklater to …
Warner Bros. has boosted Niki Sherrod to SVP,Music as the film music exec goes into her eighth year with the studio. Sherrod had most recently served as VP Music after joining the company in 2006 following stints at Atlantic Records’ soundtrack division and Warner Music Group, where she served as creative director for film and TV. At WB she has overseen music including the Billboard-charting soundtrack for teen party pic Project X featuring the likes of Kid Cudi, Pusha T, and Tyler the Creator – and, on the other side of the spectrum, the Oscar-winning original score for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity.
Ryan Kavanaugh‘s company is in late-stage discussions to sell the music information and download service to an undisclosed buyer for about $1M, I’m told. Relativity Digital is preparing to unload a collection of sites in the deal including artistdirect.com, musicandirect.net, ubl.com, ultimatemusic.com, and playlisted.com. The tiny price suggests how hard it’s been to stand out in a music market dominated by services including Apple’s iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify. Relativity bought ArtistDirect for well under $1M in January 2010, months after the music service delisted its stock. In its last annual report, ArtistDirect said it generated $12.1M in revenues in 2008 — but with nearly $48M in losses.
The sale comes amid other changes at Relativity Digital. On June 13, Randall Cox quietly left as president of the operation. He hasn’t been directly replaced; the unit is being overseen by the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer Angela Courtin. Relativity still intends to expand its presence in digital, a source at the company says. Earlier this year it offered about $1B in its privately held stock for online video power Maker Studios, which accepted a lower cash bid from Disney. It also made a run at multinetwork web video company Fullscreen.
EXCLUSIVE: Big Love‘s Douglas Smith, who appeared last year in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, has set two features ahead of his fall starring turn in Universal, Blumhouse Productions, and Platinum Dunes’ horror pic Ouija. He’s booked a role in Paramount’s Terminator reboot, although character details are under wraps. The Alan Taylor-helmed pic is now filming in New Orleans with Game of Thrones‘ Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, Jai Courtney as Kyle Reese, and Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his iconic Terminator role.
Miniseries, limited series, whatever you want to call the currently popular genre — Frances McDormand thinks the form is great for women. “A 90-minute time frame is not long enough to tell a good female story,” she said at HBO’s TCA panel today for her 4-part series Olive Kitteridge, which will premiere in November. “That’s why longform storytelling has become so great” for female actors, writers and filmmakers.
McDormand — joined on the panel by director Lisa Cholodenko, co-star Richard Jenkins and writer/EP Jane Anderson, who wrote the script based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel — was explaining how she came to bring the project to HBO. She said a friend gave her the novel about six years ago and “I loved it, [but] I don’t read novels looking for things to be made into movies.” The friend said, “But you want to play that part.” McDormand argued that the story was too long and complex for a feature-length movie. “Yeah, but you want to play that part,” the friend insisted. Eventually, the actress optioned the book and took it to HBO.
Various parties have different versions of why HBO is bringing back its one-season comedy series The Comeback, whose last season in original episodes was 2005. Co-creator Michael Patrick King said he and co-creator/star Lisa Kudrow used to talk about lead character Valerie over the years and wondered what she was up to, but they never mentioned the idea of revisiting the show. “It was too much of an emotional risk,” Kudrow told TV critics attending TCA Summer TV Press Tour. “Even to say it,” King chimed in. “Then we got a call from HBO to talk about it.”
HBO EVP Casey Bloys explained he’d been a fan of the show but, when some member of the media attending the Press Tour suggested there had been a “groundswell” of viewer support for the idea of bringing back the comedy, he responded, “I wouldn’t say ‘groundswell.’” Instead, he explained, “HBO is in a different place than it was nine years ago, and we have the room to bring it back, and the future of the network does not depend on the show.” Where we come from, this is known as “damning with faint praise.”
UPDATED, Thursday, 6:00 PM: About 80% tech-heavy now. That’s the word coming from Sun Valley where the conference is underway. Interesting to hear people talking about the panels, including the one with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and TWC’s Harvey Weinstein as there seems to be a growing chasm between the young entrepreneurs from silicon valley who are still inventing, cyber-security companies, app guys, and the old media guard. “It’s kinda funny that you have these guys who have come up in a different era talking about things that seem so old,” said one attendee who attended the communications and creativity panels.
“Harvey Weinstein was talking about Marco Polo (the TWC’s television series) and the changing landscape of distribution in television like a 10-part-mini-series is something new. It’s people getting together and talking from different era. It’s all Internet and tech now and the media guys talking about this kinda seemed arrogant. You have the younger generation, the more cutting edge people more interested in the one-on-one conversations” instead of the panel discussions.
Interesting that I’ve heard that from both the young and the older attendees. All anyone is saying is that it’s good for networking but don’t expect any major deals coming from it and the panels are just so-so. Sounds like the Sun Valley format is getting stale.
UPDATED, Thursday 2:58 PM: Hearing that it’s a bit ho-hum this year as far as the panels go, nothing really earthshaking: Google’s Larry Page talking about robotic cars; Barry Diller, Brian Roberts and James Murdoch yakking on about distributing content via wireless vs. non-wireless. Sounds pretty boilerplate. As one attendee said, “You know, nothing — no big deals — really actually happen here. People have said the ABC/Cap Cities deal happened here, but it really didn’t.”
So who’s there from Hollywood? Those mentioned (and pictured) below as well as usual suspects: Viacom’s Philippe Dauman, News Corp’s Rupert Murdoch with sons James and Lachlan, Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes, Comcast’s Stephen Burke, Disney’s Robert Iger, Universal’s Ron Meyer, DreamWorks Animation’s Jeffrey Katzenberg, Paramount chief Brad Grey, ABC News President Ben Sherwood and agents Bryan Lourd (CAA), Jim Berkus (UTA) and Chris Silbermann (ICM Partners), Jeff Berg (Resolution) and ex-WME exec Jim Wiatt — but no Ari Emmanuel (again).
PREVIOUSLY, Tuesday, 4:35 PM: Business leaders, politicians and media moguls are arriving today in Sun Valley, Idaho, for Herb Allen’s 30th annual Allen & Co conference, where bigwigs gather for panels and chit-chat about current business trends behind mostly closed doors. Details always are scarce about the goings-on at the retreat, with press these days mostly relegated to corralled areas where execs might pass by in cowboy boots and jeans for a word or two but rarely say anything of substance. We did get our hands on this week’s panel schedule, which confirms some of the attendees at the confab that began in 1984.
The movie adaptation of the Melissa Marr novel Wicked Lovely has conjured up a second wind. Originally set up at Universal by Wild West Picture Show Productions, the project is now freed up and WWPSP has brought in indie production house Pukeko Pictures to produce and oversee special effects, and Weta Workshop for design and physical effects. They will set a director shortly and then CAA will shop the project.
WWPSP’s Vince Vaughn, Valeri Vaughn and Peter Billingsley are producing with Pukeko’s Martin Baynton and Adam Fratto, and Richard Taylor is exec producing. The project was grabbed back from turnaround by WWPSP, and it rears up again at a time when there is a strong market for female driven YA adaptations, after Divergent and The Fault In Our Stars. Marr’s book series has a global following and has been published in 26 languages. The script was written by Caroline Thompson, the scribe behind Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas. In the novel, a teen girl who has seen dangerous faeries her entire life much suddenly go against everything she was taught to confront a world she was raised to fear.
Pukeko Pictures is co-owned by Baynton, Tania Rodger and Taylor, the latter an Oscar and BAFTA Award winner. New Zealand-based Weta has The Lord Of The Rings and Avatar among its credits. CAA brokered the book deal for Marr with Writers House, and the agency reps WWPSP and Pukeko Pictures.
EXCLUSIVE: Disney XD has begun production on live-action comedy pilot Commando Crash for series consideration. It features Crash, the popular purple puppet from Disney XD’s Crash & Bernstein, played by Emmy-nominated puppet master and filmmaker Tim Lagasse. The pilot picks up with Crash after he has been sent away to Oak Shield Military Academy, a military school with a stark division between the Alphas, who aspire to learn the good ways of an Oak Shield soldier, and the Clunks, a group of out-casted cadets who are there to mend their propensity for trouble-making. Crash rallies the discouraged Clunks to push their limits and stand up against the long-standing favoritism shown toward the Alphas.
HBO ran the first season of its dark comedy series Getting On in November. It’s about nurses working in the women’s extended-care facility of a Long Beach hospital and stars Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein and Niecy Nash. You may have missed it; the premium network only aired six episodes, with no big promotional push – not even a Q&A session at a TCA Press Tour. The cast and creators finally got that Q&A time today – and immediately got asked if they were miffed at the way HBO has handled, or not handled, their series.
Exec producer Mark V. Olsen responded diplomatically that they felt they’d delivered a great product and ended the first season “with a sense of satisfaction.” He and EP Will Scheffer — they created HBO’s polygamy drama Big Love together — acknowledged that the scheduling and lack of promotional push “created a narrative we were being dumped there.” But they insisted the show never was planned to get a big promotional push. “We’re a … tiny show, unlike any other show on HBO,” Olsen said. “We’re a guerrilla show. We were always going to come in under the radar.”
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Nic Pizzolatto, executive producer and creator, True Detective
Like a filmmaker, hellbent on making the best independent film ever, before Pizzolatto pitched the project to five TV networks, he went about finding the right director for his doppelganger detective series, selecting Cary Fukunaga. Then they hooked up with Matthew McConaughey, who was so passionate about the project, he called Woody Harrelson to come aboard. ”Everything a writer writes is from a true place, but I didn’t take any inspiration from any real people per se, rather the job and the culture at the time (during the ’90s and early aughts),” said the Louisiana native about his influences. As far as season 2, Pizzolatto asserts, “we aren’t keeping secrets, there’s just empty rumors out there.” Switching True Detective from miniseries to drama, “was HBO’s decision and it underscored their passion and enthusiasm for the show,” he adds. While an episode zig zags between time frames with the greatest ease, Pizzolatto revealed that such parameters were clearly defined in the script. Nothing was discovered in the editing room. “The time jumps were probably more of a challenge for the actors” who had to play the opposite of who they were in 2012.
“(Woody’s) Marty is actually a changed man while (Matthew’s) Cohle has devolved into his worst obsessive quality.”
Warner Bros has emerged as the frontrunner for the hot project in town. The studio is in talks for U.S. and Canadian rights for The Nice Guys. Reps for the sellers say others are not out of the mix yet, but it sounds like this is how it will go down. It could be a big project. Shane Black will direct, and Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are circling the leads. This is a script that Black co-wrote with Anthony Bagarozzi, and Joel Silver is producing. It would reunite the writer and producer with the studio that made Lethal Weapon, one of Warner Bros’ most lucrative franchises. In The Nice Guys, a private eye investigates the apparent suicide of a fading porn star in 1970s Los Angeles and uncovers a conspiracy.
Dave Grohl was TCA’s only one-person panel today as he took the stage to talk about his eight-part documentary series following himself and his band Foo Fighters as they record their 8th album in 8 different American cities. Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways debuts on HBO in October and the as-yet-untitled album will be released in November.
Grohl — also director of the 2013 feature film doc Sound City — said the idea for the series (coming on the eve of the 25th anniversary of the band) came to him when the last Foo Fighters record was being made in his garage. “I thought maybe we should do a documentary about the band, about the last 14, 15 years, that would explain why we were making a record in my garage,” he said.
Just in time for the All-Star break, when America’s Pastime tries to snatch back some of the spotlight from the World Cup, Atmosphere Entertainment’s Mark Canton has teamed up with Mandalay Sports Media’s Mike Tollin and Peter Guber to option the Ben Bradlee Jr book The Kid: The Immortal Life Of Ted Williams. They will turn the complex life of baseball’s most prolific hitter into a miniseries they will shop once they hire a writer. Canton, Tollin and Guber will be exec producers, and David Hopwood will be a producer. Guber became an owner of the L.A. Dodgers only to watch that team’s iconic player, Jackie Robinson, get movie treatment from Legendary Pictures (and Pittsburgh Steelers part owner) Thomas Tull. Here, Guber gets another shot with a player with almost as rich a story as Robinson.
Williams is one of those larger-than-life when-men-were-men characters — Frank Sinatra in a baseball uniform. His baseball exploits were legend, and he was a hero on the battlefield as well as the ball field, twice interrupting the prime years of his baseball career to serve as a flight instructor in WWII and a fighter pilot in the Korean War. He also was an ornery, enigmatic man who had a love-hate relationship with Boston Red Sox fans and media, along with several wives, who quickly learned they were third in importance to him after baseball and fishing. He had a long rivalry with the Yankees and its star outfielder Joe DiMaggio, whose team won a bundle of World Series titles while the Red Sox were always the bridesmaids.
TCA: HBO Reveals Details Of Mike Nichols/Meryl Streep ‘Master Class’, Queen Latifah ‘Bessie’ Project, Launch Date For ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Final Season
HBO parsed out some details on Mike Nichols directing of Meryl Streep in the network’s adaptation of Master Class, Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play about Maria Callas. The project is a reteaming of Nichols and Streep, who worked together on the premium channel’s Angels In America nearly a decade ago. Master Class begins production in early ’15, depicting the master classes the operatic great gave to hand-picked students at the Juilliard School in the early 1970s.
During its day at the TCA Summer Press Tour, the network also reiterated that Queen Latifah will star in and exec produce HBO Films’ Bessie, about blues singer Bessie Smith, written and directed by Dee Rees, with shooting in Atlanta, debuting next year; Michael K, Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Charles Dutton and Mo’Nique co-star. The project focuses on Smith’s growth from struggling young singer into “Empress of the Blues” and one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s.
Boardwalk Empire’s eight-episode fifth and final season launches September 7, HBO said today. While the first four seasons of the series from Terence Winter and director Martin Scorsese were set during Prohibition in the ’20s, when Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) was the undisputed leader of Atlantic City, the fifth season is set in the depths of the Depression in 1931, with Nucky plotting a post-Prohibition future.
Back when the TV Academy voted to merge the best TV movie and miniseries categories in 2011, hardest hit were smaller networks in the arena like Lifetime and Hallmark Channel as HBO and British imports were expected to gobble up the nomination spots. Those networks are now benefiting the most from the recent decision to restore the two categories. For instance, Lifetime’s Georgia O’Keeffe received a best TV movie nomination the year before the category consolidation. In the three years of merged best movie and miniseries category, Lifetime did not crack the field. Today, it landed both a best TV movie nom for The Trip To Bountiful and its first ever best miniseries nom for Bonnie & Clyde, a collaboration with sister network History. (Bonnie & Clyde was one of four programs produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to receive Emmy noms today, along with the Oscar ceremony, NBC’s The Sound of Music and another Lifetime movie, Anne Nicole). Also boosted by this year’s expansion of the longform acting categories from five to six nominees, Lifetime landed two lead actress in a TV movie or miniseries nominations for the first time in almost a decade for Return To Zero‘s Minnie Driver and Bountiful‘s Cicely Tyson, with longform fueling the network’s record 17 total Emmy noms.