In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom assess the just-announced lineup for this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which competing films have serious Oscar hopes and which pics Pete can’t wait to see when he hits the Croisette for Deadline next month. Today also was the last day for would-be Emmy voters to make themselves eligible with the TV Academy, and Pete and David take a look at the Emmy campaigns that are heating up, while also grumpily acknowledging the first Oscar campaign of the 2015 season. Finally, Pete gives his take on the weekend’s notable movie debuts, including Wally Pfister’s directorial debut Transcendence, the Woody Allen-John Tuturro collaboration Fading Gigolo and faith-based hit-in-the-making Heaven Is For Real.
MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: This story contains many details of Thursday’s season finale episode of ABC’s Scandal.
ABC’s D.C. drama, created by Shonda Rhimes, has grabbed big ratings over three seasons with a potent mix of wild plot twists and savvy use of social media. In another signature Shonda shocker, Washington fixer Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) tonight watched POTUS Fitzgerald Grant (Tony Goldwyn) become a virtual certainty to lose his re-election bid when a bomb intended for him goes off at the funeral of a U.S. senator who’d been assassinated by Olivia’s terrorist mom Maya Lewis (Khandi Alexander) in order to get Grant at the funeral, only POTUS isn’t there. But his chief presidential-race rival — and VPOTUS – Sally Langston (Kate Burton) was there, and survived, and becomes simultaneous ministering angel and Irony Lady at the scene of the blast. President Grant’s day gets considerably worse when he suggests to Olivia that they run away together, marry, move to Vermont and have babies, causing Olivia to have pangs of conscience and spill the beans that Grant’s dad had raped his wife, First Lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young), years ago.
Ronnie Gene Blevins (Joe) has been cast in New Line’s genre pic Crawlspace, directed by Vampire Killers helmer Phil Claydon. He’ll play Ray Walsh, the gruff and mysterious next-door neighbor of widower (Michael Vartan), who moves into a new home in the suburbs with his daughter and new wife. Peter Safran and Rick Alvarez are producing the pic which began filming last month in L.A. Blevins is repped by Pure Arts.
Reiley McClendon has booked a role in Shangri-La Suite opposite Luke Grimes and Emily Browning. The indie drama is set in 1974 and focuses on two troubled 20-year-olds who set out to kill Elvis Presley. McClendon will play young Elvis. The actor, who recurs on ABC Family’s The Fosters and next appears in the feature Outpost 37, is repped by Innovative Artists and Zero Gravity Management.
EXCLUSIVE: In the wake of shocking allegations of sexual abuse against Bryan Singer that surfaced five weeks before the launch of the new X-Men film, Singer has cancelled a scheduled appearance at this weekend’s WonderCon in Anaheim, Deadline hears. Fox instead will send Simon Kinberg as the studio prepares to launch the Singer-directed blockbuster X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Kinberg wrote and produced the film and has been a part of the X-Men universe since the beginning.
Singer had been scheduled to be on hand to do interviews for the film that Fox opens May 23. It seems fairly obvious that right now he’s not going to get the kind of questions that will help the movie, or that he could answer. Singer had been scheduled to represent X-Men among a bunch of big Fox movies vamping this weekend, appearing along with Andy Serkis, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman and director Matt Reeves from Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes; Jay Baruchel and writer-director Dean DeBlois from How To Train Your Dragon 2; and Dylan O’Brien, writer James Dashner and director Wes Ball from The Maze Runner.
Specialty B.O. Preview: ‘Fading Gigolo’, ‘The Final Member’, ‘Cesar’s Last Fast’, ‘That Demon Within’, ‘Tasting Menu’, ‘Small Time’
After making a mega-splash at the box office last year, Woody Allen gets some time in front of the camera with John Turturro‘s comedy Fading Gigolo, which he also stars in along with Sharon Stone. Millennium Entertainment will open the title in limited release. Two docs are among this weekend’s crop of new Specialty releases, including Sundance title Cesar’s Last Fast as well as penis documentary The Final Member from Drafthouse Films. China Lion is opening action-crime feature That Demon Within, which co-stars Nick Cheung who recently won Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his role in Unbeatable. Magnolia is rolling out Tasting Menu, hoping to re-create a recipe of lofty box office returns from its previously released food-oriented fare. And Anchor Bay will open Small Time from first time filmmaker Joel Surnow in just over a dozen locations.
John Turturro directed Woody Allen’s one-act play Honeymoon Hotel in 2011. “I was thinking it would be interested to do something with Woody, but I didn’t know if we’d have chemistry,” said Turturro about the beginnings of what would become Fading Gigolo. The comedy centers on Fioravante who decides to become a Don Juan as a way of making money for his cash-strapped friend, Murray. The pair wind up in the sex business. “I didn’t know how I’d approach it but we exchanged notes,” said Turturro. “I did research on living that kind of life and on the Hasidic community. I wanted to make a human comedy and [Woody Allen] encouraged me to take that route.”
Stephen Lang (Avatar) has been tapped for a recurring role on WGN America‘s drama series Salem. Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, it explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and centers on Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), the beautiful, ruthless but vulnerable wife of the ancient, ailing but very wealthy George Sibley (Michael Mulheren), one of Salem’s town Selectmen. Innovative Artists-repped Lang will play Increase Mather, an old-line, hard-core Puritan who led the way across the ocean to the Promised Land in the late 1600s. Intellectually, spiritually and politically, he’s the most influential man in the country — and the most feared.
The sitcom and feature writer, who was married to Hal Kanter for 70 years, has died. Doris Kanter died last month in Encino after a brief illness, the WGA said today. She was 95. Her writing credits include Chico And The Man, Night Court and the 1980 Beau Bridges sitcom United States. She also designed the colorful opening title credits for her husband groundbreaking 1968-71 series Julia, starring Diahann Carroll. A native of NYC, Doris Kanter started out working at Parents magazine in the 1930s. She married Hal Kanter in 1941 after he had been drafted into the Army. She also helped her husband in writing and editing – mainly comedy– for television and film. He died in 2011. Doris Kanter is survived by her three daughters, Lisa Shafer, Donna Kanter — a writer-director-producer who owns the Kanter Company — and Abigail Jaye; her granddaughter Kaleigh Shafer; and sons–in-law Anthony Shafer and Michael Jaye.
Nancy Tartaglione contributed to this report.
There’s absolutely no arachnophobia in international markets for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Sony Pictures Entertainment’s latest film in its mega-franchise opened in 15 territories — including across Europe in the U.K. Spain, Germany and Belgium and in other top markets of Mexico and Australia — and numbers are just now rolling in … and they are very strong and off to a great start.
In four markets — the U.K., Germany, Australia and Belgium — the movie already has logged the biggest opening days of the year. In the U.K., Spidey grossed $2.73M, which is not surprising since it’s a top school holiday and kids are flooding into the market now. Back in 2012, The Amazing Spider-Man made $40.3M in the U.K. all in, so this is one of the most important markets for the studio. The film grabbed $1.44M Down Under in Australia, a big $1.3M in Germany and in Belgium $190K for its opening day. Other markets where Spidey opened are Austria, Denmark, Israel, New Zealand, Portugal, Switzerland, Uraguay, Bulgaria, and Sweden.
Crew around Los Angeles are getting word that pre-production on Midnight Rider is starting up in a few weeks back in L.A. with Randall Miller at the helm. Deadline broke the news earlier this week that Miller and his Unclaimed Freight banner were trying to resume filming on the Gregg Allman biopic following the tragic death of camera assistant Sarah Jones in Georgia. The decision to continue with the film has prompted a flurry of tweets to Allman and has given rise to a new Facebook page called “I REFUSE to work on Midnight Rider” which the daughter of director John Frankenheimer said everyone should join.
Jones, 27, was killed February 20 in Wayne County, GA in a train collision during filming on the pic. Seven other crew members were injured and multiple investigations are underway to determine the responsible parties.
“Morally how can he continue, knowing that his decision cost Sarah Jones her life? He had the ability to say no,” said Frankenheimer, who works as a location manager. “As the daughter of a director and I know that the director is the final voice. And if the director and producer allow it to happen, they have to accept responsibility.” She added: “It infuriates me. I find it an affront to all of us. “He doesn’t deserve a crew of any kind. No one should agree to work on this film. I find it shameful. I cannot believe that this man has the chutzpah to do this. If you don’t speak up then that’s just as bad.”
Here’s the first trailer for Clint Eastwood‘s adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway smash about legendary early-rock group the Four Seasons. Warner Bros’ Jersey Boys has taken a serpentine road to the big screen. It originally was at Sony before Graham King signed a multi-year deal with Warners in September 2012 and moved the project over with him. John Lloyd Young — who won a Tony for his role as Frankie Valli — Erich Bergen, Michael Lomenda and Vincent Piazza star as the boys in the band, with Christopher Walken playing a notorious mobster. Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice wrote the screenplay and musical book, with song music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe. The GK Films pic opens June 20. Have a look — and especially a listen:
Blumhouse and Entertainment One have inked Ciaran Foy to helm Sinister 2, the sequel to the micro-budget horror movie. Production starts in July on the follow to the Lionsgate/Summit pic, which starred Ethan Hawke and grossed more than $77M worldwide on a budget of $3M. Foy’s first writer-director effort, Citadel, won the Midnighter Audience Award at SXSW in 2012. That pic (check out the trailer for it below) carries some of the same DNA as the original Sinister, which starred Hawke as a true crime novelist who discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a supernatural nightmare. Scott Derrickson, who directed the original and co-wrote the script with C. Robert Cargill, announced Foy got the gig today on his Twitter feed:
— Scott Derrickson (@scottderrickson) April 17, 2014
Derrickson and Cargill are back as co-writers for the sequel. eOne is financing and Blumhouse International is handling foreign sales via a worldwide distribution and servicing deal with IM Global. Executive producers are Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Charles Layton, and Xavier Marchand and Patrice Théroux for eOne.
Here’s the Citadel trailer:
With Hollywood director Bryan Singer at the center of accusations of molesting a minor 15 years ago, his name will not be used to promote new ABC drama series Black Box. A small portion of the promos in circulation for the series, which premieres next Thursday, featured the X-Men director’s name. They have now been pulled, at least for the time being, according to sources. Former House executive producer Singer serves as an executive producer on the straight-to-series drama starring Kelly Reilly as a famous neuroscientist who is bipolar. Below is the official long trailer for the show, widely available online, in which Singer is indirectly referenced as Black Box being “from the executive producer(s) of House.”
In addition to Black Box, Singer also executive produces the upcoming CBS drama series Battle Creek, from Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and House creator David Shore. On that direct-to-series project he also directed the opening episode. Singer just completed work on the pilot, which has been getting good early response. CBS is yet to start airing promos for Battle Creek, which is not slated to launch until fall. On the feature side, Singer has his next movie, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, opening in five weeks.
Former Disney star and recording artist Selena Gomez has exited as a client of CAA and has signed with WME. The 21-year-old singer and ex-Wizards of Waverly Place actress has also signed with Brillstein Entertainment Partners as she restructures her team and transitions from teen star to more adult projects. I hear the change has been long in the works as Gomez has taken meetings around town with various management firms. Last year she made a bold leap playing a partying coed in Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers. Gomez has a huge social media following, with 57.9M Facebook fans and 19.3M Twitter followers. She’ll next be seen in William H. Macy’s directorial debut, Rudderless, which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival. Gomez continues to be repped by attorney P.J. Shapiro.
ABC‘s D.C. fixer drama Scandal has built big ratings in three seasons with a potent mix of often ridiculous plot twists and creator Shonda Rhimes’ savvy use of social media, which has bound fans closely to the show and its stars. That combo has paid off: Ahead of tonight’s season finale, which is certain to feature another signature shocker, Scandal has added 3 million viewers (for 11.5 million total). It’s up even more in the key adults 18-49 demo, +43% compared with last season, according to Nielsen. That demographic also represents most of the heaviest social-media users and is fervently sought by marketers.
Scandal‘s OMG moments, and the chance to feverishly chat about them online as they happen, have glued fans to the show’s actual broadcasts, instead of waiting to watch an episode later on DVR, VOD or Hulu. To further stick fans to their TV-side seats, Rhimes and other show principals including star Kerry Washington also take part, tweeting and posting with fans before, during and after airings. That close connection has been a crucial part of the show’s growth. According to RelishMIX, the social-media analytics firm, followings for those show-connected accounts have exploded — led by Washington’s Facebook account, which jumped an eye-popping 466% in Season 3. That comes after an offseason filled with awards appearances that really fueled the show’s social-media growth. In fact, says RelishMIX CEO Marc Karzen, the biggest growth in Washington’s Facebook account happened in and around her (very pregnant) appearances at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards. Those red carpet photos set fans abuzz for days.
Fox‘s Animation Domination High-Def will cease to exist as a late-night block on June 28 after 11 months on the air. The network is keeping alive the initiative, which employs 100 people working on six series in production. It will be geared exclusively towards younger-skewing digital platforms like Hulu and focus on incubating shows for primetime. ADHD is working on two half-hour primetime series that Fox has quietly greenlighted for next year. After a preview in Fox’s animation domination Sunday primetime block, ADHD got off to a slow start in the Saturday 11 PM hour last summer and never gained traction. Its programming was considered too edgy, targeting young males who weren’t necessarily available at that hour. After ADHD exits late-night, Fox will resume airing repeats in the time slot.
After a lengthy search, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has tapped PBS POV exec Cynthia Lopez as the new commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. We’ve learned Lopez’s appointment will be officially announced tomorrow at a noon press conference in NYC. Her exact start date has not yet been set. Lopez will replace Katherine Oliver, who exited in December at the end of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s third and final term. With Lopez’s lack of experience in the city bureaucracy, sources tell Deadline that a key selection will be who the deputy commissioner could be in this new regime. The commission has been bullish about revitalizing the city’s film and TV production through generous tax credits and a streamlined permit process. Most recently Mayor de Blasio called Leslie Moonves, personally asking him to keep the Late Show in the Big Apple after David Letterman retires next year.
The same day writer-director David Michôd’s anarchic thriller was picked for a Midnight Screening at Cannes, a new trailer has surfaced. Set in the Australian desert a decade after an economic meltdown, The Rover stars Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson as angry men on a mission to track down a gang of dudes who seriously wronged them. Scoot McNairy, David Field, Anthony Hayes, Gillian Jones and Susan Prior co-star. A24 picked it up last summer and will open the pic June 13 in LA and NYC, followed by a national release a week later. Check it out:
Sara Vahabi, who worked on the Focus Features Oscar campaign for Dallas Buyers Club, has been promoted to VP at Los Angeles-based PR firm Karen Fried & Associates. Vahabi joined KFA in 2011 and has been part of the team that spearheaded campaigns that garnered a total of 18 Oscar noms. “With extensive experience both in Europe and the U.S., Sara brings the international strategic thinking necessary in an expanding global film market,” said Fried. “She speaks five languages and has worked and lived all over the globe which makes her even more valuable for clients’ specific needs today.” Vahabi has over 15 years of experience within special events and public relations and has collaborated on several international film campaigns. She moved to Los Angeles in 2001 to work for the Consulate General of Sweden, where she was in charge of promotional affairs with a focus on Swedish film. In 2008, she ran the Press Department at the Stockholm International Film Festival in her native Sweden. She also has handled publicity for films at Cannes, Palm Springs, Sundance and Toronto film festivals. Speaking five languages … wow.
UPDATED: Saturday, 1:26 PM: Gosnell crossed the $1M threshold today on Indiegogo. The telefilm, which took to crowdfunding to raise funds, is about Dr. Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia physician convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for mercilessly killing babies of botched abortions who were born alive by driving a scissors into their necks and snipping their spinal cords. It is believed that the practice went on for years. The filmmakers have set a goal of $2.1M.
PREVIOUSLY, Thursday, 1:53 PM: Gosnell has just become the most funded movie ever on Indiegogo after bowing less than three weeks ago, surpassing efforts by the likes of James Franco and Shemar Moore. Both Kevin Sorbo, who last starred in God’s Not Dead, and Nick Sercy (Justified) filmed videos in support of Gosnell‘s crowdsourcing campaign. “After Kevin Sorbo and his wife Sam and Nick Sercy (Justified) who released a video two days ago on YouTube we noticed huge spikes after those videos were released,” said producer Phelim McAleer. “I think it really shows that people really respect Hollywood celebrities who reflect their views and tell their stories. They were really crucial to the success so far.” The producers still have a long way to reach their goal of $2.1M. To date, the producers of the anticipated TV movie, McAleer and his wife Ann McElhinney have raised $907,460 to date and the total continues to climb. The record for a crowdsourcing campaign continues to be Veronica Mars on Kickstarter, which pulled in $5.7M after hoping to raise $2M for the film. In comparison, Franco collected $327,929 for Palo Alto Stories on a goal of $500,000 falling short and Moore raised $638,983 on a goal of $500,000 for the romantic comedy The Bounce Back.