Fox’s Gracepoint, an American remake of the British series Broadchurch, is not a shot-for-shot recreation — though it may seem like it’s going in that direction in the first two two episodes, after which it will begin to differ substantially, the exec producers promised to dubious TV critics this afternoon at the TCAs.
The first portions of the British eight-parter were “so well done, why would we contort ourselves to tell it differently?” Carolyn Bernstein said when some critics commented about how the two episodes they’d seen of Gracepoint replicated early Broadchurch episodes. “We didn’t want to fix something we all thought was excellent,” Bernstein explained at Summer TV Press Tour 2014. She and EP/showrunner Dan Futterman promised it will begin to differ substantially.
Further muddying things, in October, Fox announced that Broadchurch star David Tennant had been cast in its 10-hour series. In Fox’s version, Tennant plays an American detective who is the lead investigator in a shocking murder that puts a small town under scrutiny. Though this time it’s set in an American town, like the original it follows the tragic and mysterious death of a young boy found dead on a beach surrounded by rocks and a jutting cliff face, from where he may have fallen. Although his cause of death remains unsolved, the picturesque seaside town where the tragedy occurred is at the heart of a major police investigation and a nationwide media frenzy.
The American version purports to have a different killer.
“I don’t … Read More »
In the wake of another strong finish for a Blumhouse genre film, The Purge: Anarchy, Universal Pictures and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions have made a new 10-year first-look production agreement. This will include Blumhouse partnerships with NBCUniversal businesses, including Universal Television and Universal Cable Productions. Blumhouse will bring its Sinister franchise to Focus Features, making Universal home to three of the company’s most profitable micro-budget franchises, including The Purge and Insidious, which is already based at Focus. The announcement was made by Universal chiefs Jeff Shell and Donna Langley and Blum.
“This studio has had an incredible experience working with Blumhouse and it only makes sense to broaden that partnership to NBCUniversal’s broadcast and cable networks,” said Shell. “Jason and his team bring an energy and focus that can be felt across the company and we are thrilled to honor his passion for entertainment with a long term commitment and extension of that relationship.”
Langley brought Blum over to the studio in 2011. “Jason founded a company in Blumhouse that is unique and cutting edge, and we’re honored that they call Universal home. Jason is extremely driven and highly creative. His style coupled with his industry relationships and strategic business model have been a recipe for much success between our companies. We … Read More »
While Fox’s Red Band Society drama deals with the grave topic of ill-stricken teenagers in a Los Angeles children’s hospital, the potentially grim subject matter didn’t daunt network executives, the show’s executive producers said today at TCA. Commenting on the recent string of illness-centered dramas, including The Big C, and Chasing Life alongside the ABC Studios-produced Red Band Society, series EP Margaret Nagle said, “Teens and twentysomethings aren’t about the immortality as seen in Twilight. Rather, they’re more focused on dramas that deal with mortality. They’re very forthright about these things. The way that the show can work is that it has to tonally go to that place of teen life, i.e. My So-Called Life. Even M.A.S.H. was an influence with this series. Those shows were willing to go to a place with their material that were off-center, and off-center was where they thrived.”
Originally intended to be part of ABC’s lineup, Red Band Society landed on Fox’s fall schedule instead. EP Justin Falvey said that Fox “feels like it’s a better fit.” Read More »
This weekend’s domestic box office was off a whopping 28 percent, which has people wondering why. Could it be the quality is just not there? “Yeah, what the hell is going on, right?” said one distributor when I asked. “It’s content driven. We’re in a slump at the moment, but next year will be better. This year, I don’t think it’s any indication that problems are anything but the content.” As in quality, or lack thereof, and I think that most Deadline readers would concur that though this summer has seen some gems (like The Fault in Our Stars, Apes, Heaven is For Real), they’ve wrapped around some real stinkers (A Million Ways to Die in the West, Moms Night Out).
By the way, Paramount’s Transformers:Age of Extinction has made $659.1M internationally and around $228M to date domestically, is on track to become the 19th picture ever to move past the $1B mark and could end up in the Top Ten all-time worldwide grossers. But others have fallen flat. As we’ve noted in the past, it’s a cyclical business. Some of the pictures from 2014 moved to 2015 to avoid having to deal with the World Cup. Next summer looks more promising: the April 3rd release of Fast and Furious 7, followed in May by the highly-anticipated The Avengers: Age of Ultron and then The Fantastic Four, Jurassic World, Ted 2, Minions and Terminator.
But here’s the question: When will the industry see a movie that will go four consecutive weekends in a row at No. 1? (see chart below, courtesy of Rentrak). And could Disney/Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy do it? Read More »
TV critics attending Summer TV Press Tour 2014 wanted to talk to the cast and crew of Fox’s new Mulaney about its similarity to NBC’s long-running comedy series Seinfeld. In the new multi-cam comedy, from NBCU and originally developed for NBC (the network passed on the pilot), former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney plays a fictionalized version of himself — a standup comic trying to take his career to the next level. Martin Short co-stars as a comedy legend and now game-show host, for whom Mulaney works; Elliott Gould plays his wacky next door neighbor. Nasim Pedrad, Seaton Smith and Zack Pearlman round out the cast. Mulaney is exec produced by Lorne Michaels, David Miner, Dave Becky, Jon Pollack, Andrew Singer and Andy Ackerman.
Exec producer/director Ackerman, perhaps best known for his work on Seinfeld after directing nearly 90 episodes, was asked to discuss the new series’ many similarities to that long-running NBC comedy. After turning to Mulaney and murmuring, “You’re no Jerry Seinfeld,” he turned to TV critics and said, “This is a cast I’m really excited about… I had the privilege to work with that great cast, and I see so many similarities in terms of the chemistry. And we have an opportunity to take John’s voice, and what he’s doing I’m really excited about…and if I have any small percent of [Seinfeld’s] success I’d be thrilled.”
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James Garner just made it all look too easy.
That’s the only explanation I can give for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences failing to vote him an Honorary Oscar over these last few years of Governors Awards. More than once I wrote a column of “suggestions” including those egregiously overlooked artists deserving of the industry’s top award, and always near the top was my annual reminder of Garner. But I guess it is just too late now. Garner, who died Saturday night at age 86, probably just would brush off the honor anyway, thinking those more “obvious” choices were more likely to ever get an Oscar. But it is precisely because he made it all seem so effortless that he was annually passed over.
It couldn’t have been because he was also a major television star could it? Nah. Maverick , The Rockford Files, those fine TV movies, and those magical Polaroid commercials he did with Mariette Hartley were all great. And no one can deny the power of those TV movies he did including Promise, Barbarians At The Gate , Breathing Lessons, Decoration Day, The Long Summer Of George Adams and My Name Is Bill W to name a few. These showed off an actor of real range. If it were just a career in television, it would be incredibly impressive but all the obits this morning calling him a TV legend, which he certainly was, missed the point of just what Garner’s remarkable acting achievement … Read More »
Writer/producer/director John Fasano, best known for his work in the horror genre, died in his sleep Saturday night at the age of 52, his attorney Craig Baumgarten confirmed. No cause of death was available.
Fasano was nominated for a Writers Guild Award in 1996 for writing the teleplay for The Hunchback for TNT. He also had a hand in more than 40 other film and TV projects, including writing the hit Tom Selleck TV movie Stone Cold, Iraq war TV docudramas Saving Jessica Lynch and The Hunt for Saddam, and films including Alien 3, Meggido: The Omega Code 2, Darkness Falls and Another 48 Hours. Fasano also worked as a script doctor and screenwriting guest lecturer at AFI and the Writer’s Boot Camp. He was president of the screenwriting seminar at the Sony/Canal+ Equinoxe screenwriting seminar in France. He produced and directed several independent films, typically in the horror genre, including Rock ‘n’ Roll Nightmare, Black Roses and The Jitters, all released in the 1980s.
Fasano, who was born Aug.24, 1961, had his first taste of filmmaking when his father, a friend of director John Cassavetes, brought him along on a visit to the set of Husbands, according to a frequently quoted story in articles about him. In high school, he worked on industrial films for IBM and other companies, and graduated from SUNY-Purchase with a degree in film. He initially worked as an editor or freelance editor for a variety of specialty magazines, but his work creating posters for exploitation films led … Read More »
If Batman isn’t going to show up in Fox’s upcoming fall series Gotham, and if the show largely deals with the origins of future Police Commissioner James Gordon, well then, shouldn’t the show more aptly be titled Gordon? Such weighty questions about how Gotham will expand on the Batman universe, not to mention the show’s potential resonance with fans, were at the heart of the series panel at Sunday’s TCAs. One issue that was raised was how Gotham would create tension, especially if it doesn’t plan to kill off such legendary villains such as The Riddler and The Penguin, which would mess with Batman mythology.
Gotham executive producer Bruno Heller sarcastically responded, “It’s a sad thing when you can’t bring tension by killing people. One of the show’s great advantages with this world is that people know where it’s going, there are people who are invested in the story.”
Ben McKenzie, who plays Gordon, equated Gotham to “Greek tragedy. The fate comes in the first act. The series is about the interesting journey and how the city falls into disrepair and total anarchy.” Read More »
With the departure of Fox’s previous top programming executive and the network’s new co-heads not in place yet, their boss, Fox Networks Group chairman Peter Rice, took the stage on his own at the network’s executive session at the TCAs this morning. Top question of the day: Fox’s new executive structure, in which the network and sibling 20th TV are both under the oversight of the same executives, Dana Walden and Gary Newman.
“We’d been the odd man out,” Rice said, a reference to the other broadcast networks, which have closely integrated with their studios. “As competition for talent has become more intense, it has put us at a disadvantage, and to have the network and the studio aligned would be helpful.”
Rice was asked to elaborate on the ways the previous setup disadvantaged Fox. “The old structure had a clear advantage for the studio: a big independent studio that was able to sell to everyone, which it has done extremely successfully,” Rice said. “But the network was increasingly disadvantaged. The ability to be reactive only because you are a buyer, that funnel became narrower and narrower as the (landscape) became more competitive… By putting these things together, we’re telling the creative community, we have this great network and a great studio, you can speak to us in a single voice.” Read More »
Boyhood continued to muscle into the Specialty Box Office in its second frame amid an expansion, even while the weekend’s newcomers showed mixed numbers. Zach Braff‘s Wish I Was Here and Mike Cahill‘s I Origins, second films from both writer/directors, bowed with averages in the low $7K range. IFC Films‘ Boyhood opened last week with the year’s second highest PTA among limited-release titles and only compounded its star status in expansion. The Richard Linklater-directed feature added 29 locations, grossing nearly $1.2 million in 34 theaters, a stellar $35,230 per-screen average and a $1,848,050 two-week cume.
Boyhood’s mid- to long-term momentum appears assured with a 99-percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and what IFC Films says is “word of mouth… through the roof, as reflected by eye-popping exit polls this weekend and minimal drop at last weekend’s opening theaters.” IFC, which financed the film throughout its 12-year gestation, said the title played solidly across all demographics, with top scores from teens and from “those in their 60s and beyond.” Boyhood will expand to the top 25 markets next weekend and will continue to widen in coming weeks.
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Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this weekly Sunday column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.
Bart: Like 7th grade boys staring in the mirror, corporate CEOs these days keep asking themselves, “Am I big enough?” What scares them is the prospect of becoming a takeover target, and there’s been a rush of takeover talk lately —Rupert Murdoch’s bid for Time Warner being the most dramatic. Size means safety in the corporate universe and Time Warner became vulnerable by ridding itself of Time Inc., AOL and Time Warner Cable — the latter becoming a target for Comcast. With giants like Google, Apple and Amazon looming, CEOs are scared they can’t measure up, but the folks who should really be frightened are the creatives and their audiences. Bigness means giant fees for bankers and profits for shareholders, but the impact of the monoliths is easy to read — a universe of corporate plodding, tentpoles and sequels.
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For two and a half decades, Hank Azaria has been voicing Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum and a slew of other characters on The Simpsons. Now he’s add to his Fox voice portfolio Bud Buckwald. Ahead of its TCA presentation today, Fox announced that the Emmy winner will play the lead character on Bordertown, the new animated comedy from Family Guy’s Mark Hentemann and Seth MacFarlane. It has not been scheduled yet, but given how hot-button the immigration issue is at the south border, Fox may want to bring the show on sooner rather than later.
Exploring family, politics and everything in between, the series centers on two very different families living in a fictional Southwest desert town on the U.S. – Mexico border. Azaria’s Bud Buckwald is a married father of three and a Border Patrol agent who is just a tad behind the times and feels slightly threatened by the cultural changes transforming his neighborhood. He lives next door to Ernesto Gonzalez (Nicholas Gonzalez), an ambitious immigrant and family man, who has been in the country less than 10 years, but is already doing better than Bud – which, it turns out, is a bit of an issue for the less-industrious native. Azaria joins previously cast members including Alex Borstein, Missi Pyle, Judah Friedlander, Gonzalez and guest voice Efren Ramirez.
Fox also announced upcoming guest stars … Read More »
James Garner died last night at the age of 86. The ruggedly handsome actor will be remembered always for the 1950s TV Western Maverick and for playing Jim Rockford in the 1970s series The Rockford Files. No cause of death was given but he had suffered from a stroke in 2008 after open-heart surgery. A war hero before he turned to acting, Garner received two Purple Hearts while serving in the Korean War.
Garner’s last screen appearance came in 2006′s The Ultimate Gift, but his last major role in a studio film came opposite Gena Rowlands in the love story The Notebook. He appeared in more than 50 films in a career that spanned 54 years. Among the highlights: an Academy Award nomination in 1985 for the romantic comedy Murphy’s Romance opposite Sally Field in 1985; starring alongside Mel Gibson in the movie version of his signature series Maverick; starring opposite Julie Andrews and Robert Preston in the 1982 Blake Edwards comedy Victor Victoria; and starring in 1990′s celebrated HBO telefilm Barbarians at the Gate, about the RJR-Nabisco merger and corporate greed. He also stepped up to take the lead in 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Daughter, after the death of the show’s star, John Ritter. Garner was a devoted fan of the football Raiders, as identifiable on the sidelines for many years as Jack Nicholson was at Lakers games.
… Read More »
Skye McCole Bartusiak, who was best known for her role portraying Mel Gibson‘s youngest daughter in The Patriot, died today at the age of 21. No cause of death was given.
Bartusiak was a stage, screen and TV actress. She had a recurring role as Megan Matheson in the show 24 and did guest star appearances in CSI, Lost, Touched by An Angel and George Lopez television shows. She started acting in 1999 with the ABC mini-series Storm of the Century. When she was 8 years old, she was in the movie Riding in Cars with Boys. She died in her Houston home at 9 AM Saturday.
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UPDATED from TCA Awards: “First of all, I’d like to thank Variety and Gold Derby for letting me know that I should come tonight — I appreciate that very much. I got a dress, lickety split!” Julia Louis-Dreyfus said as she picked up her trophy for Best Individual Performance in Comedy.
The winners of the 2014 TCA Awards were leaked online this afternoon. But, in truth, the winners had learned some time ago they’d won — only winners show up at this non-televised trophy show. Nobody made Matthew McConaughey wise about this, however. Taking the stage to receive the trophy for Best Individual Performance in Drama, he tried to personally address his fellow nominees in his acceptance speech, calling them out by name and looking for them in the Beverly Hilton ballroom — the same room in which the Golden Globes are held each year. After running through the first couple names, creating awkwardness among critics, he singled out fellow nominee Bryan Cranston, saying, “You are here, sir!” Cranston, however, showed up not because he was nommed in the drama acting derby, but because Breaking Bad had won Program of the Year for a second year running.
“Everyone [tonight] is thanking HBO,” Cranston said after HBO programs took four of the night’s trophies. “So, thank you, HBO! Early on — you turned us down,” Cranston said on stage when the Breaking Bad win was announced. He thanked TV critics for praising the AMC drama when few were watching “this story … Read More »
After a hot tour of the fest circuit this year, Radius-TWC‘s The One I Love hits theaters on Aug. 22. Marking the feature directorial debut of Charlie McDowell, the romantic comedy follows Ethan and Sophie, a thirtysomething couple on the verge of separation, who make a quick vacation escape to rekindle their love life, only to see offbeat results. Screenwriter Justin Lader churned out a 50-page script with suggested dialogue, giving Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss the opportunity to improvise their lines. Take a look:
Amid gripes from American actors about the lack of diversity in TV and film, as well as the industry’s penchant for selecting British and Australian thespians for prolific roles, the casting directors at FX’s “Casting 101″ TCA panel assert they’re just looking for the best person for the part – and often it doesn’t matter how famous the person is.
Cami Patton, the casting director for Justified said, “Producers, showrunners and studio executives are used to looking at tape from other actors in other parts of the world. You don’t need an actor with an entire history (of credits).” One candidate, as pointed out by the group, was Matthew Rhys who plays the lead Soviet undercover spy Philip Jennings on FX’s The Americans. Largely known to U.S. audiences through his turn on Brothers & Sisters, Rhys bowled casting directors over with his Broadway performance in Look Back in Anger. Patton added that when she cast a fresh-faced British actor by the name of Damian Lewis in the role of U.S. Army Lt. Richard Winters in 2001′s Band of Brothers, “We were trying to match actors with the photos that we had of these real people. At the time he was doing Hamlet on stage with Ralph Fiennes. That’s how he got on our radar.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Shubert Organization chairman and CEO Philip J. Smith confirmed the deal by Broadway’s biggest landlord to purchase New World Stages, an off-Broadway complex on West 50th Street just outside the Broadway theater district. ”I would say, ‘Yes, it it’s going to happen,’ ” Smith told Deadline.com when asked about a report in the New York Times speculating on the sale. “I can’t say when, but it will happen.” He declined to say how much Shubert would pay for New World.
Comprising five grotto houses ranging in size from 199 to 499 seats, New World is owned by Dutch entertainment mogul Joop van den Ende’s Stage Entertainment, currently lead producer of the musical Rocky, which is set to close in August at the Shubert-owned Winter Garden Theatre. Van den Ende’s involvement in New Workd goes back to a co-production arrangement his former company, Endemol, had with New York-based Dodger Theatricals. It was the Dodgers who took over the former discount-movie theaters after they went out of business in 2001. The Dodgers spent $23 million converting the space into a “theater mall” with a total of more than 1,900 seats, three bars and more restroom space than many Broadway theaters. Read More »