In case you missed this hysterical story from Chris Pratt on Late Night With Seth Meyers Wednesday night, the Parks and Recreation actor recounted when he opted to take a nude scene — a little too far. Pratt told Meyers, ”It’s kind of funny now because they’re not going to fire me — I don’t think, because we’re going to be done this year. Wait! They could. They sent me a letter saying that I’m not suppose to make a joke about this, so just so you know, this is really serious.” Unlike other comedians whose bad jokes ran afoul with the NBC suits in the past (i.e. Norm MacDonald’s Saturday Night Live Weekend Update stint and then NBC West Coast Executive Don Ohlmeyer), Pratt luckily lived to see another day. He stars in Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, opening Friday. Take a look at Pratt’s sitdown with Meyers:
Joe Castelo‘s ’80s private school drug ring film The Preppie Connection has accepted actor Logan Huffman into its click. Huffman will play Ellis Tynes, one of the wealthiest men at the school who is dating popular girl Alexis Hayes (Lucy Fry). Huffman instagrammed this photo At first Ellis looks at Toby Hammel (Thomas Mann) with disdain, but soon takes to him after learning that the lower class scholar is a drug dealer. After learning that Alexis is falling for Toby, Ellis sets out to sabotage a big drug deal that is going down. Huffman’s credits include We Gotta Get Out Of This Place and Tyler Shields’ Final Girl. He is repped by APA, PYE Entertainment, and Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light, LLP.
New Zealand actor Nico Evers-Swindell will be playing the part of Will Holloway in filmmaker Alex Ranarivelo’s indie feature Wrong Side of Right which tells the story of a woman who goes undercover to expose an inhumane dog breeder. Swindell was last seen in Peter Landeman’s Parkland and played Prince William in Lifetime’s William & Kate. He is repped by Gersh and Vikram Dhawer at Authentic Talent & Literary Management.
Summer turned out to be the place to launch for midseason NBC series. Multi-camera comedy Undateable has been picked up for a 10-episode second season, following a similar renewal for drama The Night Shift. Both found a way to transform themselves from summer burn-offs to solid performers to returning series. Airing back-to-back originals, Undateable premiered with a 1.3 rating in adults 18-49, almost doubling the debut of NBC’s 2013 comedy series Save Me to post the highest-rated summer comedy premiere on the Big 4 networks in five years (since ABC’s toon The Goode Family on 5/27/2009). It even edged one of NBC’s fall Thursday comedy debuts, Welcome To The Family (1.2 on 10/2/13). Undateable‘s numbers slipped but largely stayed above the original broadcast comedies that aired last summer and kept clear of the lows posted by several NBC fall comedies last season, like The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World and Welcome to the Family. Undateable, whose first season consisted of 13 episodes, also regularly topped Fox drama Gang Related. “Overexcited to do 2nd season of Undateable on NBC,” executive producer Bill Lawrence tweeted tonight. The renewal of Undateable, from Warner Bros. TV and Lawrence’s Doozer, bodes well for NBC’s midseason entry One Big Happy which was going to be the single multi-camera comedy on the network’s schedule next season. Created by Adam Sztykiel based on the book by Ellen Rakieten and Anne Coyle, Undateable stars Chris D’Elia as a carefree single thirtysomething who befriends a group of …
Though videogames can be massive sellers (witness those billion-dollar debuts last fall for Grand Theft Auto V and Call of Duty: Ghosts), every title faces rapid obsolescence, at least in gamers’ eyes. Three years after hitting the shelves, even the hottest titles can look woefully quaint compared to the latest stuff. That creates a wildly different set of economic realities compared to Hollywood, where so much money is made from library titles, produced (and paid for) years ago and the sold, repackaged, and sold again on various distribution platforms around the globe.
But Sony’s game unit is now trying to make a similar library play with its deep collection of titles stretching back to the launch of the first PlayStation 20 years ago. Today Sony Computer Entertainment launched the open beta test of its PlayStation Now network, which will feature more than 100 updated, rentable versions of its older titles, including hits such as Spyro the Dragon from L.A.-based Insomniac Games.
With some Frank Underwood-esque delivery help from a virtualized Kevin Spacey, the “reveal” trailer for the next installment of Activision Blizzard’s behemoth game franchise, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, easily topped YouTube’s charts of the second quarter’s most-watched trailers. COD’s 20.9 million views were nearly 3 million more than the No.2 trailer, for X-Men:Days of Future Past, and two to three times the views of No. 3, the game Mortal Kombat X, and No. 4, Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.
Though it’s difficult to be definitive, the trailer’s massive audience, accrued between its May 1 debut and the end of the quarter on June 30, suggests Activision will have yet another massive hit when COD: Advanced Warfare arrives on Nov. 4.
That said, betting on a big COD launch isn’t a reach: after all, last fall Call of Duty: Ghosts sold more than $1 billion worth of units in its first DAY.
You can watch the trailer here, especially if you’re interested in seeing Spacey voice one of his most cynical and calculating characters ever (and after House of Cards, that’s saying something):
Oscar-nominated screenwriter, Daniel Petrie, Jr. (Beverly Hills Cop) will be serving as the executive producer and showrunner of Hallmark Channel‘s 10-episode original scripted series, The Good Witch, based on the network’s telefilm franchise. Series will air in the first quarter of 2015, following the debut of the seventh movie in the franchise, The Good Witch’s Wonder on October 25. The Good Witch stars Catherine Bell as the raven-haired enchantress Cassie Nightingale. The Good Witch is executive produced by Orly Adelson, Jonathan Eskenas, Frank Siracusa and Craig Pryce, who directed the films based on characters by Rod Spence. Bell also serves as co-executive producer. ITV Studios America will The Good Witch outside North America.
Petrie is the former two-time President of the WGAwest. Recently, he sold his comedy pilot Siberia to Gaumont International Television for TF1, which centers around two odd couple police officers who are serving in a faraway precinct where all department misfits get sent. He also finished directing the indie film Dawn Patrol for Enderby Entertainment, which stars Scott Eastwood, Rita Wilson and Jeff Fahey. Petrie’s scribe and producing credits also include Shoot to Kill and Turner & Hooch. He also co-wrote and directed Toy Soldiers, the TNT telefilm Framed and executive produced The 6th Day and the series Combat Hospital. He is repped by APA, manager Jeff Field, and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kaller, L.L.P.
After three decades of futility, The Normal Heart figures to be at the center of the Primetime Emmy Awards. It received 16 nominations, including one for its director Ryan Murphy, and for the performances of Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Julia Roberts, Joe Mantello (who starred in the original play), Jim Parsons, and Alfred Molina. And one for Larry Kramer, who turned a roman a clef version of his fight against indifference to the AIDS crisis into the play on which the movie is based. Between The Normal Heart and his series American Horror Story and Glee, Murphy’s productions racked up 34 Emmy noms, more than some networks. Here, he discusses the groundbreaking movie, the long battle to get it to the screen and how Barbra Streisand helped keep The Normal Heart beating all those years.
DEADLINE: For me and anyone else in their 50s who lived in a city like New York, The Normal Heart brought back that Twilight Zone nightmare period when we watched friends die and were powerless to help, amidst rampant political apathy because most of those stricken were gay. Larry Kramer’s refusal to go quietly made him a true screen hero, though he was equally vocal that his heartbreaking play took three decades to get made. How long did this movie burn in you?
MURPHY: I was in college when the play came out and had seen productions of it through the years, and I always deeply admired it. I grew up in that era where things were very scary. I lost 10 friends to AIDS and so it was always an important piece of art in my life. I followed the project’s trajectory starting in 1987, and was always very sad that it was not made into a movie. I always felt that the current generation, so many young people, didn’t know what happened, was unaware of the nightmare we lived through back then.
DEADLINE: How did that translate to action?
MURPHY: It was pretty simple. I woke up one day in 2009 and thought, why has this movie not been made? My producing partner Dante Di Loreto knew Larry and called him. The rights were lapsing and Larry agreed to meet with me. He didn’t know who I was, or any of my previous work. I think he was taken by my passion.
EXCLUSIVE: David Singh, who has worked in creative advertising at both Disney and most recently at Sony Pictures Entertainment, is going to 20th Century Fox after leaving Sony two weeks ago. He is expected to be named exec vp of creative advertising working under Marc Weinstock, head of domestic marketing. He had served at Sony for three years working on a number of campaigns and left on his own volition. He previously worked at Disney for 10 years. Singh will work alongside Arnaldo D’Alfonso, executive vice president and creative director. Weinstock and Singh worked together at Sony and D’Alfonso and Singh worked together previously at Disney. They will be co-running the creative advertising department.
UPDATE, THURSDAY 3:34 PM PT: Following a statement yesterday by his wife Penelope Cruz, Oscar winner Javier Bardem has weighed in with his own clarification of an open letter to which both were signatories earlier this week regarding the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Bardem says his signature on the controversial letter accusing the Israeli military of “genocide” ”was solely meant as a plea for peace. Destruction and hatred only generate more hatred and destruction.” The letter the couple signed, along with director Pedro Almodovar and other luminaries of the Spanish industry, has made headlines, and in some cases elicited harsh criticism of the filmmakers for their stance.
Said Bardem Thursday (see full text below), “While I was critical of the Israeli military response, I have great respect for the people of Israel and deep compassion for their losses. I am now being labeled by some as anti-Semitic, as is my wife – which is the antithesis of who we are as human beings. We detest anti-Semitism as much as we detest the horrible and painful consequences of war. I was raised to be against any act of violence, and the consequent suffering of humanity for it, regardless of religions, ethnicities and borders. Too many innocent Palestinian mothers have lost their children to this conflict. Too many innocent Israeli mothers share the same grief.”
UPDATE, WEDNESDAY 1:35 PM: Penelope Cruz has issued a statement to clarify the open letter that she, husband Javier Bardem and director Pedro Almodovar signed yesterday, which called for an end to “the genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation army in the Gaza strip against Palestinian civilians.” The comments were bound to be regarded as incendiary and polarizing, taking sides in a most controversial issue. Today, Cruz explains that her reaction was not motivated by politics as much as humanitarian concerns.
Fox Searchlight has had two great box office wins with this year’s Grand Budapest Hotel and Belle, though some challenge with I Origins. Calvary from John Michael McDonagh with Brendan Gleeson and Chris O’Dowd will be the distributor’s next title opening this weekend in a summer season that has heated up in recent weeks among Specialties with films like Boyhood. Sundance documentary winner Rich Hill will also join this weekend’s newcomers with a New York bow via The Orchard, while writer-director-star James Franco‘s Child Of God will open in 10 locations courtesy of Well Go USA. KimStim will open German film The Strange Little Cat, a festival favorite that was made for about €13,000 in New York with a day and date release with Fandor.
Chris Clark and producing partner Flora Fernandez-Marengo first heard the idea for Calvary back when their company Reprisal Films produced filmmaker John Michael McDonagh’s previous project The Guard in 2011 (that film opened with a $19,209 PTA in four theaters in July 2011 in the U.S. via Sony Classics, going on to cume $5.36M domestically). “It came out of a conversation we were all having with Brendan Gleeson [who also starred in The Guard],” said Clark. “Nine months later, John [McDonagh] presented the script.”
Saban Films launched just before Cannes in May and made a statement by acquiring Tommy Lee Jones’ Competition title The Homsesman, which it will release in the U.S. via Roadside Attractions. It was the first glitzy step in a plan to release 8-10 commercial, talent-driven features per year via a distribution partner. Now it has more help under the division’s president Bill Bromiley: Jonathan Saba has been tapped as VP Marketing and Azniv Taschyan as VP Finance.
That may be the only way to break the impasse between Time Warner Cable‘s SportsNet LA, which controls the team’s TV rights, and pay TV distributors, DirecTV CEO Michael White said today. His comment followed a conference call this morning where TWC CFO Arthur Minson urged analysts to “assume we do not sign additional affiliate agreements for the Dodgers network this year.” Indeed he helped them to compute the potential impact, saying that the lack of an agreement could shave 50 basis points [or 0.5%] from TWC’s expected revenue growth this year and 125 basis points [or 1.25%] from its expected cash flow growth.
White said, in a separate meeting with analysts, that he feels no business pressure to back down from his view that SportsNet’s just too expensive with terms for about $5 per subscriber per month. Even without Dodgers games ”we’re actually positive net adds” for subscriptions in the LA area in the three months ending in June. Now he has little hope of a resolution “without the active and constructive participation of the ownership of the Dodgers.” White says that in June his company made an offer that would have given the team more than it collected from all distributors last year. “It was rejected out of hand by Time Warner Cable.”
He won’t back down because the terms that TWC accepted to handle the Lakers and Dodgers TV rights “creates stratospheric pricing…If you did it for all of the sports team you’d be at $26 per subscriber per month in the …
The Huntsman, Universal‘s Snow White And The Huntsman prequel, is getting an April 22, 2016 release date. That means a later release for the studio’s The Mummy, which originally had that date but is moving to June 26 of that year.
Both projects have been making news. Frank Darabont last month came aboard to direct Huntsman, a prequel that reveals how the fates of two characters — The Huntsman Eric and Ravenna — intersected before they met Snow White. Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron are back for those roles, and Darabont has written the most recent draft of the script that is not being called a sequel. Although, Universal will certainly take a repeat of the 2012 pic which grossed close to $400 million worldwide on a $170M budget.
The Mummy, meanwhile, is the first pic in Universal’s initiative under Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan to reboot its classic movie monster franchises; Kurtzman was set just yesterday to helm the Mummy franchise. That’s a quick turnaround considering the plan to expand and unify Universal’s network of classic characters and stories was unveiled first (by Deadline) just a couple weeks ago.
Below is the international trailer for Fox Searchlight’s Birdman. The Alejandro González Iñárritu-helmed black comedy is world premiering as the Venice Film Festival opener in competition on August 27. Michael Keaton leads an ensemble cast that includes Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Zach Galifianakis, Amy Ryan and Andrea Riseborough. Keaton plays an actor, famous for having portrayed an iconic superhero, who struggles to mount a Broadway play. Venice chief Alberto Barbera told me last week that he was excited for the film, which he says marks a departure for the helmer of Babel, 21 Grams and Biutiful. “It’s inventive and light” and full of surprises. It also got a nudge towards Venice from Inarritu’s pal — and helmer of last year’s fest opener Gravity — Alfonso Cuaron, who is expected on the Lido in support on opening night along with the full cast.
The first trailer has dropped for DirecTV’s 10-episode drama series Kingdom. From creator Byron Balasco and Endemol Studios, Kingdom (previously titled Navy St) takes place in Venice, California, and is set against the backdrop of Mixed Martial Arts. Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez, Matt Lauria, Jonathan Tucker, Nick Jonas and Joanna Going star. Kingdom premieres October 8. Check out this first look:
Disney/Marvel’s Guardians Of The Galaxy and Universal’s James Brown biopic Get On Up both bow tonight in late nights but all eyes are on Guardians which storms into theaters at 7 PM. This is a title with a relatively unknown actor in the lead (Chris Pratt) and about minor characters in the Marvel Universe, so this is relying quite heavily on the Marvel brand. Will they wish they had Bradley Cooper in the starring role and Chris Pratt as the voice of the scene-stealing Rocket raccoon at the end of the day? Naawww. It works fine just as it is … better than fine. We expect it to go north of $70M. And Universal’s Get On Up may be only in the mid-teens as Lucy‘s second-weekend percentage drop is not likely to keep it out of the No. 2 spot. So No. 3 right now is up for grabs, depending on Hercules second weekend drop.
Get On Up, from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and Mick Jagger’s Jagger Films, bows in 2,466 theaters this weekend. Chadwick Boseman portrays the legendary singer in the film. Audiences will remember him from portraying Jackie Robinson in 42. Directing this one is Tate Taylor who helmed the 2012 Best Picture nominee The Help which won best supporting actress for Octavia Spencer who is also in Get On Up. With Viola Davis in this one, too, audiences can expect a quality film. It opens tonight at 8 PM.
But let’s get back to the film of the weekend: Guardians. Yeah, OK the marketing for Guardians comes across, at times, as a bit campy, but Marvel fans were asking for something original and Marvel definitely delivered. The film bows tonight in 4,080 theaters, making it the widest August release ever. It will be on 350 IMAX screens for the next few weekends; in addition, it debuts on 3,200 3D, 350 large formats and 240 D-Box — yes, D-Box. This is a picture that will play well with kids — and an exec noted that 90% of them are still out of school (HUGE plus) and the tracking shows it on fire with all quadrants right now. This could be the biggest August opening ever, surpassing Bourne Ultimatum‘s seven-year record of $69.2M.
We’ll see what Jon Stewart‘s hiatus from The Daily Show was all about on November 7, when Open Road Films kicks off its platform rollout of his feature directorial debut Rosewater. Open Road acquired U.S. rights in May to the pic after it was show to select buyers in Cannes.
The pic is adaptation of the Maziar Bahari book Then They Came For Me: A Family’s Story Of Love, Captivity And Survival. Stewart wrote the script and took a summer break from his Comedy Central show to direct it. Gael Garcia Bernal stars as Bahari. The plan unveiled today comes after Rosewater landed a Gala premiere slot at September’s Toronto Film Festival.
OddLot Entertainment fully financed the film and Stewart, Scott Rudin, and Gigi Pritzker produced with Lila Yacoub, Eli Bush and Chris McShane the executive producers.
Brooklyn Sudano has booked a lead role in Lifetime’s original movie With This Ring, slated to debut this year. Written and directed by Nzingha Stewart (The Game), the romantic comedy revolves around three single best friends, who after attending the lavish wedding of their best friend on New Year’s Eve, make the vow to be married within the year. Sudano, repped by APA and Greenlight Management, will play Elise, the bride-to-be getting married who relies on her best friends to get her down the aisle when she gets a little case of cold feet. Sudano most recently starred in the ABC pilot, Westside. Other TV credits include ABC’s My Wife And Kids, and CW pilot, Dakota. Her film work includes 5 Star Day and Sinners And Saints.
Teri Polo (The Fosters) is set for a lead role in original movie The Christmas Shepherd, set to debut on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel later this year. Polo will play Sally Browing, a children’s book author and illustrator who’s devastated when her beloved German Shepherd, Buddy, runs away during a thunderstorm. Buddy miraculous ends up in Boston with Mark Green (Martin Cummins) and his teenage daughter who are recovering from losing his wife and her mother three years ago. Browing connects with Mark and Emma in her search for Buddy and everyone is given the best Christmas present possible, the gift of Love. Polo, repped by Gersh and Bob McGowan, just wrapped feature Isn’t It Romantic and will return to her role on …