EXCLUSIVE: Scott Speedman is set to star opposite Patricia Clarkson in October Gale, the drama written and directed by Ruba Nadda. She also wrote and directed Cairo Time, which starred Clarkson. Speedman plays a mysterious man who, during a violent October storm, washes up on the shore of Helen Matthews’ remote island cottage, unconscious and bleeding from a gunshot wound. Clarkson plays the recently widowed doctor who takes him in, only to find that the shooter is coming back to finish the job and that the storm has cut them off from the mainland. Daniel Iron will produce through Foundry Films, and Christine Vachon will be exec producer through Killer Films. The film shoots in Canada in five weeks.
EXCLUSIVE: WME has signed Gavin O’Connor, the writer-director of the superb generational fighter tale Warrior, the indie Tumbleweeds, cop drama Pride And Glory, and the U.S. Gold Medal-winning hockey team saga Miracle.
O’Connor most recently directed the pilot that launched the FX series The Americans, and he came on to save the day when he signed on to direct Jane Got A Gun, the drama that stars Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor and Rodrigo Santoro. Relativity acquired the Western for release and will open the film later this year. O’Connor had been at CAA.
Meet the future Mother. I have learned that Meg Ryan has been quietly tapped as the narrator in CBS‘ How I Met Your Mother spinoff How I Met Your Dad. In the way that Bob Saget supplied the voice of future Ted (Josh Radnor) in HIMYM, Ryan will voice future Sally (played by Greta Gerwig) in the spinoff, telling her kids the story of how she’d met their dad. Like Saget, Ryan will never be seen on the show. CBS and How I Met Your Dad producer 20th Century Fox TV declined comment. In the vein of the original series, HIMYD tells the story from a female point of view, that of Sally (Gerwig), and revolves around a new group of friends in New York, played by Gerwig, Drew Tarver, Nick D’Agosto, Andrew Santino and Tiya Sircar. The spinoff pilot has been garnering strong early buzz and is considered a leading candidate for a series pickup for next season. Ryan is with ICM Partners.
The romantic comedy premiered at Sundance and screens this week at Tribeca. Radius/TWC acquired worldwide rights to The One I Love within 24 hours of its Park City bow and now has set an August 15 release date. Charlie McDowell directed the pic, which stars Elisabeth Moss and Mark Duplass as spouses in a crumbling marriage who escape for the weekend in pursuit of their better selves and end up facing an unusual dilemma. Ted Danson co-stars, and Justin Lader wrote it. Here’s a clip:
Apple shares are up more than 8% post market after it released a lot of news designed to please investors — including a 7-for-1 stock split, an increase in stock repurchases to $90B from $60B, and an 8% increase in the quarterly dividend. “We are confident in Apple’s future and see tremendous value in Apple’s stock,” CEO Tim Cook says. The announcements come as the consumer electronics company released earnings for the first three months of the year that trounced Wall Street forecasts.
Apple generated net income of $10.22B, +7.1% vs the period last year, on revenues of $45.6B, +4.7%. Analysts thought the top line would come in at $43.5B. Earnings at $11.62 a share far exceeded the consensus prediction of $10.18. Some of the upbeat news comes from higher-than-expected iPhone sales. Apple sold 43.7M units, up 17% vs the period last year. But iPad sales slipped 16% to 16.4M units while Mac computers were +5% to 4.1M and iPods fell 51% to 2.8M.
Eric Hill, one of the contestants on the upcoming season of ABC‘s The Bachelorette, has died as a result of injuries sustained in a paragliding accident over the weekend that was not part of the show. By then, Hill had completed filming The Bachelorette, presumably after being eliminated, so his death won’t impact the outcome of the show but it is expected to be addressed on the new season, which premieres May 19. “We are deeply saddened to hear about the tragic passing of our friend, Eric Hill,” The Bachelorette producers said in a statement. “Eric inspired us every day with his passion, his courage and his adventurous spirit, and for that we are very thankful. On behalf of our cast, crew and producers, we send our love, our thoughts and our prayers to Eric’s family during this difficult time.”
The 13-episode comedy series from director Gaz Alazraki and creator Mike Lam is set in the world of professional futbol. The untitled project, slated to premiere in 2015 on Netflix, centers on a family feud among heirs of a soccer club after the owner’s death. Luis Gerardo Mendez stars in the series, which will be shot entirely in Mexico and feature a cast from throughout Latin America. The project reunites Alazraki and Mendez, who worked on the Mexican box office hit Nosotros los Nobles (We Are The Nobles). Mendez starred in the pic and Alazraki directed.
Spirit Award-winning directing brothers Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie (Daddy Longlegs) have wrapped filming on Heaven Knows What, a docu-fiction hybrid starring Caleb Landry Jones and Arielle Holmes. Pic is based on the life experiences of Holmes, a street kid who met the Safdies on the subway and is playing a fictionalized version of herself in the film. She and Jones star as a vagabond couple in NYC battling addiction amidst a manic love affair. The Safdies penned the script with their Daddy Longlegs collaborator Ronald Bronstein. Heaven Knows What is the first feature under the Safdies’ Elara Pictures production banner, which the duo launched with partners Sebastian Bear-McClard and Oscar Boyson. Elara is set to produce multiple indie features per year, committed to giving complete creative control to each project’s director. Paris-based Iconoclast Films (Spring Breakers) is also producing Heaven Knows What.
Some analysts say it could as investors lifted the value of Time Warner shares by 1.8% and drove Netflix down 5% and Amazon down 1.5% in afternoon trading. The agreement giving Amazon series from HBO including The Sopranos and Six Feet Under “is unparalleled for a subscription-only online streaming service from a quality perspective,” Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter says. He estimates that when the deal kicks in next month Amazon will be able to offer its customers 800 episodes of original content “compared to roughly 100 episodes of original content currently available on Netflix.” That could help Amazon to turn its Prime Instant Video offering into a stand-alone streaming service, separate from the current arrangement which — for $99 a year — also includes no-charge delivery for many retail items.
Pachter estimates that Amazon is paying “well above” $200M for HBO’s shows. Bernstein Research’s Carlos Kirjner and Todd Juenger figure the payment to HBO to be “somewhere between $200M and over $400M…at a very high margin” for what they call “a significant addition to the Prime video library.”
David Schulner is staying at Universal TV with a new two-year overall deal, his third consecutive overall pact there. Through Uni TV, Schulner has sold hourlong drama Pharaoh to HBO with Ridley Scott attached to direct and executive produce. The series explores an alternate explanation for the foundation and ascent of the ancient Egyptian empire—one in which greatness was bestowed upon us by beings from another world, calling into question what it means to be a ‘god.’ Another ancient Egypt drama, Hieroglyph, has a series order at Fox. Under his Uni TV deal, Schulner also is developing projects for sister networks USA and Syfy. He previously was the creator, executive producer and showrunner of NBC/Uni TV’s drama Do No Harm and served as consulting producer on NBC’s Dracula and Ironside. Schulner began his tenure at Universal TV (then UMS) with stints as co-executive producer on drama series Kings and Trauma, leading to his first overall deal with the studio in 2010. Schulner started off as a playwright before becoming a staff writer on ABC’s Once And Again. He rose to prominence with his high-concept 2007 spec The Oaks, which landed at Fox after a bidding frenzy with Shawn Ryan executive producing. Schulner’s series credits also include the WB’s Everwood, ABC’s Desperate Housewives and ITV’s Marchlands. Schulner, repped by UTA and Myman Abel, also is the author of the comic book Clone.
Debmar-Mercury has named Karen Bonck new SVP Branded Partnerships. Based in New York City, she will report to Debmar-Mercury co-presidents Ira Bernstein and Mort Marcus, and will create and execute branded content and advertiser partnerships for the company’s first-run series, including The Wendy Williams Show (produced and distributed by Debmar-Mercury) and fall 2014 entry Celebrity Name Game (co-produced and co-financed by Debmar-Mercury and FremantleMedia North America, and distributed domestically by Debmar-Mercury).
EXCLUSIVE: Felicity Jones is making a deal to star in A Monster Calls, the Juan Antonio Bayona-directed adaptation of the Patrick Ness children’s fantasy novel. I’ve heard that she will play the character of Mum, and that the filmmakers are courting Liam Neeson for the role of the Monster, though I am not sure that will result in a deal. The film tells the tale of a young boy who attempts to deal with his mother’s illness and the bullying of classmates by escaping into a fantastical world of monsters and fairy tales that deal with courage, loss and faith. Ness wrote the book based on an original idea by the late Siobhan Dowd, and Ness and illustrator Jim Kay won Britain’s Carnegie and Greenaway Medals for the book which Ness has turned into a script.
EXCLUSIVE: Jackie Earle Haley, who has made the most of a second career wind since his Oscar-nominated turn in Little Children, has made it to the directing chair. He’ll make his feature debut on Criminal Activities, an indie crime drama that stars John Travolta, Michael Pitt, Dan Stevens and Rebecca Da Costa. Haley will also appear in the film. Pic is about four young guys who reunite at an ex-classmate’s funeral. One mentions to the others inside information on a stock that is a guaranteed lock to make them instant millionaires. Unfortunately, the deal goes south along with their investment. Things go from bad to worse: one of them borrowed his share of the money from a mobster.
Lionsgate has slotted Johnny Depp-starrer Mortdecai for February 6, 2015. The action comedy, adapted from the 1970s novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli, centers on debonair art dealer and part-time rogue Charlie Mortdecai (Depp). Charlie juggles angry Russians, the British Mi5, his impossibly leggy wife and an international terrorist as he travels the globe in a race to recover a stolen painting rumored to contain the code to a lost bank account filed with Nazi gold. Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, Oliver Platt, Aubrey Plaza, and Jeff Goldblum co-star. David Koepp directs from a script by Eric Aronson. Depp produces with Christi Dembrowski and Andrew Lazar. Gigi Pritzker exec produces. Mortdecai will open against Warner Bros’ action pic Run All Night and Universal’s Seventh Son.
VH1 has pulled the plug on Best Week Ever, the weekly comedic commentary on pop culture. “Best Week Ever was a pioneer in pop culture commentary on television when it launched in 2004, delivering its signature blend of comedy and tongue-in-cheek opinions on the most entertaining news and pop culture stories of the previous seven days,” the network said in a statement. “The series also served as a national launching pad for many talented creatives and comedians. We thank them, and the viewers who tuned in each week.”
Best Week Ever premiered in 2004 as a platform for comedians to comment on the week’s events in pop culture. It switched to a single-host format four years later with Paul F. Tompkins at the helm. Best Week Ever was first cancelled in 2010 but was resurrected two years later and resumed airing in January 2013. Comedians who have served as panelists through the years — some of them getting their break on the show — include Rachael Harris, Rob Huebel, Patton Oswalt, Nick Kroll, Pete Holmes, Big Bang Theory‘s Melissa Rauch, Mo Rocca, Jessica St. Clair, Judah Friedlander and Paul Scheer.
Bravo Media has put in development All The Pretty Faces, a dramedy-mystery executive produced by Jennifer Garner. Written and executive produced by J. Mills Goodloe, the project is set in the bucolic beach town of Half Moon Bay, CA. It centers on two warring families engaged in an epic, decades-long feud. The death of one of their own brings both families together in search of the secret to the affliction that has plagued them for generations…immortality. “All The Pretty Faces tracks with Bravo’s tradition of presenting strong, relatable characters and tackling provocative subjects in an entertaining way,” said Bravo’s VP Andrew Wang. Garner’s Vandalia Films is producing with Warner Horizon Television where the company has a deal, with Garner and Goodloe executive producing, and Juliana Janes serving as a producer. Bravo recently greenlighted its first two original scripted series, hourlong Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce and half-hour Odd Mom Out.
Alloy Entertainment is developing the fifth and final novel in the Sisterhood series by Ann Brashares for feature treatment. Sisterhood Everlasting will follow the two previous pics based on The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants novels. Sisterhood Everlasting picks up ten years later, after the Sisterhood friends have grown apart. It centers on Tibby who tries to bridge the distance by reuniting the girls for a trip that will change their lives forever. Liz Garcia (The Lifeguard, Cold Case, Dawson’s Creek) will adapt the book and Ken Kwapis, who directed the original film, will return to helm the third. Les Morgenstein, president of Alloy Entertainment, and Elysa Dutton, VP of Alloy Features, will produce along with Christine Sacani. Garcia is repped by CAA and Madhouse.
Andy Samberg Makes ‘SNL’ Hosting Debut For Season Finale As Part Of NBC Late Night Show’s Symphonic Slate
NBC’s Saturday Night Live will explode in a Comcast symphony of cross-promotion for its final original episodes of the TV season. SNL alum Andy Samberg will make his hosting debut for the season finale May 17 — Samberg stars in/produces Universal TV’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine for Fox network (Universal and NBC both being divisions of Comcast). Charlize Theron, one of the stars of Universal-distributed Seth MacFarlane movie A Million Ways To Die In The West — will take her second swing as SNL host May 10. The network also made official that Andrew Garfield will make his SNL hosting debut May 3 as his The Amazing Spider-Man 2 premieres nationwide May 2 — Spider-Man being a big attraction at Universal theme parks.
Now you’ll know why characters will drink Miller High Life on The Americans, Coors Light on The Strain, Leinenkugel’s in Fargo, and Miller Lite on The Bridge. The three-year deal will make MillerCoors brands the “official beers” for FX, FXX, and FXM giving the brewer exclusive rights to program integrations and first look placement rights for shows that FX is developing. The beers also will have “a strong presence” on FX’s digital app, FXNOW. The agreement — which the companies call “groundbreaking” — expands on an existing relationship that gives MillerCoors exclusive product placement rights to Sons Of Anarchy and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. The new terms make this “the most comprehensive advertising deal ever for the FX suite of channels,” says FX Networks Ad Sales SVP Michael Brochstein. MillerCoors’ Marketing Connections VP Jackie Woodward says that “our objective is to make sure our brands are woven throughout the entertainment programming that matters most to beer drinkers” especially men from 21 to 35. “This partnership underscores our commitment to telling our brand stories with the right message, in the right places and at the right time.” Media strategy company Initiative helped to ferment the alliance.