The WGA West has issued its final list of 18 candidates, including five incumbents, who will be competing for eight seats on the its board of directors in the September election. Incumbents Chip Johannessen, Scott Alexander, Michael Oates Palmer, Katherine Fugate and Marjorie David will square off against challengers Shawn Ryan, Chris Derrick, Cynthia Riddle, Peter Lefcourt, Shernold Edwards, Peter Murrieta, Doug Atchison, Stan Chervin, Jonathan Fernandez, Courtney Ellinger, Mark Amato, Aaron Mendelsohn, and Aaron Fullerton. The guild will host its annual Candidates Night forum, where members can grill the candidates, on September 3 at the guild’s LA headquarters. Ballots will be counted September 16.
Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp has launched an LA-based acquisitions arm to be run by Federica Sainte-Rose. As Head of Worldwide Acquisitions she will report to EuropaCorp CEO, Christophe Lambert. Also joining the department is former FilmNation exec John Zois as Director of Worldwide Acquisitions. The move to create a new division is part of Europa’s deeper push into the domestic U.S. market. It follows Europa’s deal with Relativity under which it bought into a joint venture, Red, giving it access and better control of the distribution of its movies. At Cannes, the Euro studio also unveiled a five-year, $450M JPMorgan-led credit facility to fund production and P&A for a slate of eight English-language commercial films released through that jv. That was a few months after it hired Lisa Ellzey as EVP of U.S. Motion Picture Production. The new acquisitions team will focus on films for domestic distribution through Red, as well as multi-territory film rights including France. They’ll be on the ground in Toronto.
Prior to joining EuropaCorp, Sainte-Rose was part of Universal’s worldwide acquisitions team and previously was Head of Acquisitions for Studiocanal. Lambert said today, “We are excited to welcome this amazing acquisitions team to the studio. EuropaCorp is becoming a new distribution alternative for filmmakers, who will benefit from close interaction with world class acquisitions and production executives as well as a robust marketing and distribution infrastructure both domestically and internationally.”
Andre Gregory spent 14 years rehearsing the play. Jonathan Demme took one week to film it. The extraordinarily engaging result is A Master Builder, which went into limited release today at New York’s Film Forum. It’s a movie that benefits from one director’s obsession with allowing his actors to live in their roles over time with another’s burst of creative energy. You can sense both up on the screen in this film of a story that might easily have seemed dated but instead comes across as a chilling tale — a “haunted house story” as Demme describes it. And perhaps just as important, it should mark the second time Gregory has introduced an actress who gives every sign of becoming a star. Her name is Lisa Joyce.
“She’s astounding,” Gregory told me in an interview from his home on Cape Cod. “I am hoping that my work with Lisa will have the same impact as my work with Julianne Moore did.”
A little history, then. In 1994, the late French director Louis Malle filmed Gregory’s equally long-aborning production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, starring Wallace Shawn in the title role and Moore as Yelena, the object of his (and every other male character’s) desire. It remains arguably the best film adaptation of a Chekhov play, and it figured prominently in launching Moore’s stellar career.
CBS Films is moving aggressively on a sequel to its biggest-grossing film Last Vegas. David Diamond & David Weissman have been hired to write the second installment of the AARP comedy. The intent is to bring back director Jon Turteltaub, and the film’s stars Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline. The sequel will focus on the quartet’s return to their old stomping grounds in Brooklyn. They discover that borough has changed more than a little since the four grew up there.
Laurence Mark and Amy Baer will be returning as producers. Scripted by Dan Fogelman, Last Vegas was a true sleeper, hitting an underserved demographic and enjoying a long theatrical run. The film topped out at $134 million in global grosses, including $63 million domestic, and has been a strong performer on home video and VOD.
Diamond & Weissman’s scripts include The Family Man, Evolution, Old Dogs, and When In Rome. The scribes are repped by WME.
In a most unusual spec script deal, Warner Bros has preemptively acquired an untitled “script-ment” from tyro screenwriter David Weil. Essentially, the studio bought the blue print for a 7-part movie franchise featuring interconnected stories contained in The Arabian Nights. 3 Arts is the sole producer.
The script-ment is 90 pages long, and I’m told that Weil’s vision is for a period reinterpretation of very familiar stories from a public domain tale, with modern tropes and themes that lend themselves to the big tent pole CGI-driven element that is vital in fantasy fare. It is the bible for what the scribe envisions as a long running franchise. It came to Warner Bros because that is where 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff has made numerous films that include the Doug Liman-directed Tom Cruise-starrer Edge Of Tomorrow.
Chantal Nong and Julia Spiro will oversee the project for Warner Bros. Weil is repped by CAA and Jessica Moresco at Unified Management.
Mark Zuckerberg opens Facebook‘s Q2 earnings release with the most generic comment I’ve ever seen from a CEO in a document that companies typically use to hype themselves. “We had a good second quarter,” he says. “Our community has continued to grow, and we see a lot of opportunity ahead as we connect the rest of the world.” The numbers speak louder, I guess: Facebook’s net income of $788M is up 138% vs the period last year on revenues of $2.91B, +60.5%. That beat the $2.81B that analysts expected. Adjusted earnings at 42 cents a share also topped expectations for 32 cents.
The results sent Facebook shares on a ride in post-market trading, up 4%+ after an initial drop. The stock would hit a new high if the increase holds up tomorrow during the trading day.
Longtime Sony Pictures EVP Elizabeth Cantillon will transition from a production exec to producer with a three-year first-look deal at the studio. Cantillon has been a key exec on some of Sony’s big projects, and she will moonlight in that capacity and shepherd with MGM the next James Bond film that is gearing up for a year-end production start, as well as R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps, which Jack Black will vamp this week at Comic-Con in San Diego.
At the same time, Cantillon will join several studio films as producer, including some she developed as an exec. This will keep her busy as she begins building her own projects. Cantillon’s first producing project is Game Brain, the drama about what causes the debilitating long-term effects of concussions in football and other contact sports that has led to suicides of several gridiron stars. Peter Landesman is writing to direct Will Smith in the role of Dr. Bennett Omalu, the man who was first to discover CTE, based a GQ article by Jeanne Marie Laskas that was developed by producers Ridley Scott and Giannina Facio.
Cantillon will also become a producer of the Luca Guadagnino-directed adaptation of the Robert Goolrick novel A Reliable Wife, which Andrew Kevin Walker is adapting, as well as the live-action adaptation of the PlayStation property Gran Turismo. Several other alignments are in the works for her.
The CW is pulling the plug on its latest attempt to launch scripted comedies. Online-to-TV transplant Backpackers and Canadian import Seed are coming off the schedule immediately. Next Monday, the CW’s lineup was already pre-empted for the Young Hollywood Awards. For the two following Mondays, the network will air Arrow repeats behind an original and encore of Whose Line Is It Anyway? On August 18, the 21st cycle premiere of America’s Next Top Model will air in the hour, where the veteran reality series will spend six weeks before moving to its regular Friday 9 PM time slot. (Its lead-in will be Whose Line original and repeat on August 18 and magic series Masters Of Illusion and Whose Line rerun starting the following Monday.) Top Model originally was slated to return on August 22 it its Friday 9 PM berth. It now will be double-pumped for the first six weeks, with repeats airing on Fridays.
Hey Tom Cruise, Johnny Carson, George Clooney, Frank Sinatra, Channing Tatum And Others: SAG Owes You Money But Can’t Find You
EXCLUSIVE: The Screen Actors Guild exists to collect wages and benefits and disperse them to dues-paying members, but a Deadline investigation begs a multimillion-dollar question: Why are so many living and deceased thesps owed unclaimed residual checks worth $40 million, money that is drawing interest for the union’s general fund? The roll call of Who’s Owed is a Hollywood Who’s Who, including more than 75 Oscar-winning actors or their estates and dozens of Emmy winners who likely are unaware they are owed residuals. A union spokesperson tells Deadline the union is working to locate those members, but it is difficult because people change agents and don’t notify the union, or they move and mailed checks are returned by the post office and never cashed.
Still, could it really be that hard to find some of these performers? Deadline found that if you threw a rock on the red carpet of any major industry event, chances are you’d hit somebody SAG owes money to.
Like: reigning Best Actress Oscar winner Cate Blanchett, and Tom Cruise, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, David O. Russell, and former Oscar host Steve Martin. Or Michael Douglas, Dustin Hoffman, Elizabeth Taylor, Jodie Foster, Warren Beatty, Jay Leno, Sally Field, Sean Connery, Christopher Plummer, Channing Tatum, James Franco, Jim Carrey, Sharon Stone, Owen Wilson, Justin Timberlake, Melissa McCarthy, Julianne Moore, Pierce Brosnan, Zac Efron and Andrew Garfield.
The music side of the ledger of Who’s Owed reads like a wing …
AMC has hired former Warner Horizon Television exec Drew Brown as SVP Production. In his new role, Brown is responsible for overseeing all aspects of production and post production for the studio and network side of the business. He reports to Joel Stillerman, the network’s executive vice president of original programming, production and digital content.
Fox has pulled the plug on its planned live special that was going to feature professional stuntman Eddie Braun and daredevil Big Ed Beckley trying to jump across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon to mark the 40th anniversary of Evel Knievel’s failed attempt to leap over the 2,300-foot-deep canyon. Jump Of The Century was supposed to feature the two rivals re-creating the 1974 stunt — one on a rocket and one on a rocket-powered motorcycle. The special, announced at Fox’s upfront presentation in May, was on a tight schedule as the anniversary of Knievel’s stunt is September 8. I hear preparations were moving slow, with some of the contraptions taking a long time to design and build, and the budget was poised to go significantly above the original estimate due to growing production expenses.
The target date for the special was October 27, when the days are shorter and weather often is unpredictable, making lighting and other logistics for a primetime special difficult and expensive to pull off. Some of that was built into the premise — setting such dangerous stunts safely live on TV is hard and expensive. Word is Discovery lost millions and millions of dollars on its Mount Everest jump special, which was cancelled after a deadly avalanche at the summit.
The first sequel in the latest Blumhouse micro-budget horror franchise has a release date. Sinister 2, the follow-up to last year’s pic that grossed more than $87M worldwide on of a $3M budget, will arrive August 21, 2015. Citadel‘s Ciaran Foy will helm the next chapter, which Sinister director Scott Derrickson is writing with C. Robert Cargill. The new franchise follows Blumhouse’s success with the Paranormal Activity and Insidious series of ultra-low-budget genre hits. eOne is financing the sequel, with Derrickson and Jason Blum producing. Focus Features has positioned Sinister 2 to counter the Warner Bros romance Me Before You.
Justified executive producer Taylor Elmore has closed a two-year overall deal with CBS TV Studios. He will supervise and develop new projects for the studio and is set to begin his new gig in April, after FX’s Justified wraps its sixth and final season. He has been on the show for the past five seasons, having started as a co-producer. Elmore, repped by UTA and attorney Bruce Gellman, shot the Wall Street pilot this past development season for CBS Studios and Timberman/Beverly, and his TV credits include CBS’ Cold Case and Raines, the latter with Justified creator Graham Yost.
Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development) has joined the fourth season of ABC’s D.C. drama Scandal in a “top secret” recurring role. Her wife, Ellen DeGeneres, first tweeted the news. We’ll have to wait until Scandal returns on September 25 to find out what the role is.
So annoying when people brag on twitter & that's why I'm not tweeting that Portia just signed on to do a top secret arc on "Scandal". Oops.— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) July 23, 2014
De Rossi’s other TV credits include Better Off Ted, Nip/Tuck, and Ally McBeal.
Chance Kelly (Generation Kill) has been cast as recurring in NBC‘s upcoming series Aquarius, a gritty 1960s drama about a cop (David Duchovny) who goes undercover to track Charles Manson and the Manson Family before their infamous murder spree. Kelly, repped by Abrams Artists Agency, will play Officer Ed Cutler who works with Duchovny’s character at the LAPD. Kelly will also be recurring on TNT series Legends starring Sean Bean slated to premiere in August.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves officially announced that the Late Show With Stephen Colbert will remain in New York and continue broadcasting from the historic Ed Sullivan Theater. The agreement includes a commitment by CBS for approximately 200 New York-based jobs to support the daily program’s year-round production schedule. Here’s how CBS spun it this morning:
David Andrews (Fight Club, Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines) has been booked as recurring on ABC thriller The Whispers, from ABC Studios and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin TV. It focuses on an an unseen force that is manipulating society’s most innocent – our children – to act in favor of its cause. As the kids unwittingly help this unknown enemy, the clock counts down in a suspenseful race to save humanity. Andrews, repped by Mavrick Artists and Untitled, will play U.S. Secretary of Defense Frommer in a minimum 6-episode arc. Frommer is always in control, calmly authoritative, steely and uncompromising. He meets with Wes regarding Captain Bennigan’s possible survival after the plane crash, surprising Wes by letting him know that Bennigan was working secret ops. He is, however, very concerned about how much Bennigan’s wife may know.
Comic-Con doesn’t officially open until tomorrow, but the soon-to-be packed San Diego confab will be buzzing with this news. The Walking Dead EP Gale Anne Hurd, one of the queens of the geekfest, is partnering with Warren Ellis, one of the biggest names in comics, for the latter’s first leap into the world of TV. In a deal signed with Universal Cable Productions, the as-yet-untitled Ellis project will be produced with Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment. “I’ve been strongly drawn to television over the last few years, and working with brilliant and determined collaborators like Gale and the UCP team, I’m delighted at the opportunity to add my voice to the new, novelistic TV form that’s evolved so dramatically,” said the Iron Man: Extremis, Gun Machine and Red author today. Added Hurd: “There are very few writers who have been able to so completely influence a medium as Warren has with comic books.”
Although Ellis won’t be at Comic-Con this year, Hurd will appear again in the cavernous Hall H for the always-packed Walking Dead panel featuring AMC’s zombie apocalypse blockbuster. This year’s panel is set for Friday at 12:20 PM and will feature co-creator Robert Kirkman, cast members Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus and others.
Composers from a number of Marvel and DC film and TV projects will be talking about their craft at the second annual “Musical Anatomy of a Superhero” panel tomorrow, Thursday, July 24th, from 3-4 PM in the Hilton Bayfront Indigo Ballroom. John Ottman (X-Men: Days of Future Past,Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer), Tyler Bates (Guardians of the Galaxy, Salem) Brian Tyler (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), Blake Neely (CW’s The Flash, Arrow) and Christophe Beck (Frozen, Edge of Tomorrow, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will take attendees behind the scenes on their musical process and show clips, some never-before-seen. The event is produced by Costa Communications.
EXCLUSIVE: Syfy is adding a touch of improv comedy to its lineup. The cable network has teamed with Nick Cannon‘s NCredible Entertainment for a weekly one-hour sci-fi fantasy improv series. The show will be taped in front of a live audience and feature a “home” team consisting of 4-6 national comedians who each week will face off against a different improv squad in various sci-fi/fantasy-related sketches. Casting will begin later this summer for the “away” teams. Cannon and Michael Goldman will serve as executive producers for Universal Cable Prods.
NCredible Entertainment produces music video countdown show Teen Nick Top 10 which is wrapping its third season; Nickelodeon’s React To That; Wild ‘n Out, now in its sixth season on MTV2; and an upcoming Drumline 2 sequel, slated to air in October. Cannon also hosts NBC’s America’s Got Talent.
This marks another step in Syfy’s evolution under its new leadership. The network already returned to the serialized, space opera-type dramas in the vein of Battlestar Galactica that had put it on the map and jumped back into the long-form genre with several high-profile projects.