EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise has exited as the lead in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., the remake of the classic TV series that Guy Ritchie will direct for Warner Bros. Cruise was scheduled to star in the film with Armie Hammer, but he has stepped out of the picture to focus on producing and starring in Mission: Impossible 5. Paramount and Skydance are now planning to begin shooting the latest installment of that franchise before year’s end. Warner Bros has a script they like, and a top director who’s expecting to direct U.N.C.L.E. in the fall. The timing proved too difficult and so Cruise stepped out to focus on M:I5.
Warner Bros will now go hard looking for the lead of this movie, which is inspired by the original TV series ran from 1964-68, with Robert Vaughan and David McCallum playing Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, two agents of the United Network Command for Law Enforcement. With gadgets and their wits and charm, they fought the evil forces of Thrush. Hammer, who’ll be seen shortly alongside Johnny Depp in the Gore Verbinski-directed The Lone Ranger, is still firmly in the film.
This is another temporary setback for a potential franchise that Warner Bros has long been high on, going back to when the studio had Steven Soderbergh ready to direct George Clooney in the lead. The actor dropped out because he needed surgery on his neck and back, and he wasn’t up for a physical role. After Soderbergh departed, the studio turned the project over to Ritchie and his producing partner Lionel Wigram, who is producing with John Davis. Hammer would play a version of the role originated by McCallum.
While it might seem that Cruise could squeeze in the film before moving to M:I5, that’s not the way he has worked on the Paramount franchise. In the last film, Ghost Protocol, he was heavily involved in planning and performing death defying stunts that included running along the glass exterior of a skyscraper in Abu Dhabi, about 124 floors high. He’ll want to do something to top that, so while the script is being written by Drew Pearce for Cruise’s Jack Reacher helmer Christopher McQuarrie to direct, this is an accelerated process and it will become the focus of the rest of the year for Cruise. The actor remains on good terms with Warner Bros, recently completing the Doug Liman-directed science fiction film All You Need Is Kill, which will be released June 6, 2014.
EXCLUSIVE: Nancy Dubuc is not wasting any time putting her stamp on A+E Networks. While she doesn’t officially transition into her new role as president and CEO of the company until June 1, I hear Dubuc already is working on plans for the brands. With A&E and History in top shape and Lifetime well into the rebuilding process, Dubuc is focusing her attention on the group’s next tier of networks, Bio, LMN and H2. As part of her turnaround plans, I’ve learned that veteran BBC executive Jana Bennett, who helped usher TLC into mainstream programming in the early 2000s, has been tapped to run LMN and Bio. (Dirk Hoogstra is in charge of H2.)
Bennett spent more than 30 years working for the BBC, most recently as president of worldwide networks and the global BBC iPlayer for the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, a position she held until departing late last year. In the US, Bennett is best known for her three-year stint as EVP and general manager of Discovery Communications’ then-The Learning Channel, where she shepherded the channel’s transformation and ratings growth by introducing reality and home makeover shows, some based on British formats, under the slogan Life Unscripted. They included such audience pleasers as Junkyard Wars and Trading Spaces. Bennett left in 2002 to return to London as director of BBC Television.
As things wind down here on the Croisette, prizes are starting to roll out across the various sections. Last night was Critics’ Week and later today we’ll have the Directors’ Fortnight winners. The Cinéfondation jury, led by president Jane Campion, has just released its top picks for this year. The selection is made up of 18 student films with the winners taking €15,000 for first prize, €11,250 for second and €7,500 for third. The director of first prize winner, in this case Art Institute of Chicago student Anahita Ghazvinizadeh, is also guaranteed their first feature will be presented in Cannes. Her winning short film Needle is about a girl who goes to have her ears pierced, provoking a quarrel between her parents that overwhelms the situation. Click over for the full list of winners: Read More »
Sony Pictures Classics announced today that they have acquired all North American rights to the Viewer’s Choice Award, Grand Rail d’Or, winner at the 2013 Critics’ Week, The Lunchbox. The film, written and directed by Ritesh Batra, stars Irrfan Khan (Life Of Pi), Nimrat Kaur and Nakul Vaid. A mistaken delivery in Mumbai’s famously efficient lunchbox delivery system connects a young housewife to a stranger in the dusk of his life. They build a fantasy world together through notes in the lunchbox. Gradually, this fantasy threatens to overwhelm their reality.
EXCLUSIVE: The rumored post-season changeover at Katie Couric’s daytime syndicated talk show is a reality. I’ve learned that veteran daytime talk show producer Rachel Miskowiec will be joining Katie as executive producer for the upcoming second season. She will replace Michael Morrison, who came on board in January, succeeding original executive producer Jeff Zucker who left to take over CNN. The move comes a month after original Katie co-executive producer Michael Bass followed his former boss Zucker to CNN. (He was replaced by Ethan Nelson, with producer Matt Strauss also getting a bump to serve as co-exec producer alongside Kathy Samuels.) The shakeup also follows a rocky freshman season for Katie.
After a strong opening, the show slipped in the ratings. Its numbers eventually leveled off and Katie remained No.1 in households among all freshmen for the entire season but it has been running neck and neck in households and total viewers with fellow rookie Steve Harvey, which has been edging Katie in the key women 25-54 demographic. Katie also has been struggling with its identity, with Couric, who also serves as exec producer, reportedly pushing for news-making interviews and more serious journalistic approach normally reserved for in-depth news programs like 60 Minutes as opposed to daytime TV’s conventional emphasis on lighter fare and celebrities. (Katie drew its largest audience to date with the January Manti Te’o … Read More »
Sky Atlantic HD has entered a deal with CBS Studios International for exclusive UK rights to Showtime‘s upcoming Ray Donovan. The series, which kicks off Stateside on June 30, stars Liev Schreiber as LA’s best professional fixer, the go-to guy who makes the problems the rich and famous disappear. Jon Voight plays Ray’s father, whose release from prison sets off a chain of events that shakes the Donovan family to its core. James Woods plays Patrick “Sully” Sullivan from South Boston, who has a very complicated history with the Donovan family. Also starring are Elliott Gould, Peter Jacobson, Steven Bauer, Katherine Moenning, Dash Mihok, Eddie Marsan and Paula Malcomson. Rosanna Arquette will guest star. The show is created and executive produced by Ann Biderman. Mark Gordon and Bryan Zuriff also exec produce. Sky Atlantic will launch the show in Britain in July.
If there is one place Jerry Lewis can go to get an ego boost it is clearly here in France, a country that has had a collective love affair with the comedian his entire career. Lewis, now 87, has been here many times to collect awards and adoration , he’s even made French movies but he hasn’t been in Cannes for about two decades so it was a big deal Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival when Max Rose, the first movie in which he has starred in 18 years, premiered to a standing ovation for Lewis (naturally) and turnaway crowd (filled with many locals). The film is anything but a typical vehicle for Lewis as it is a sentimental and somewhat serious study of the dilemna of old age and how we treat our senior citizens when life throws them a curveball just when they least expected it. Presented Out Of Competition and billed as an “homage to Jerry Lewis”, the film came about when first-time writer/director Daniel Noah approached him to play the role , and much to his surprise, Lewis accepted right away telling the filmmaker it was the best script he had read in 40 years. Clearly it also spoke to him personally.
A press screening that had been scheduled for the movie Thursday morning was abruptly cancelled, though … Read More »
In what would be the second high-profile jewerly heist of the Cannes Film Festival, a diamond necklace valued at $2.6M is said to be missing after a star-studded party at the Hotel Du Cap earlier this week. Fawaz Gruosi, founder of Swiss jeweler De Grisogono, told Reuters that the necklace disappeared after being worn as part of an annual event, which this year celebrated the company’s 20th anniversary and was attended by Sharon Stone and Paris Hilton among others. Local police, hotel security and 80 bodyguards had been on duty Gruosi told Reuters, but an inventory at the end of the night found the necklace missing. A Cannes police source said they were investigating whether it was a theft, an inventory issue, or a loss, according to Reuters. Last week’s theft of $1.4M in Chopard jewels is still under investigation. Swiss newspaper Le Matin says police are actively pursuing at least three suspects.
ABC, NBC and Fox today filed a lawsuit against digital entrepreneur Alki David‘s FilmOn and his Aereokiller service, claiming copyright infringement. Allbritton, which owns ABC’s TV station Washington DC also is a plaintiff in the suit. Filed in Federal District Court in D.C. on David’s 45th birthday, the complaint (read it here) is similar to one filed in Los Angeles in August by ABC, NBC and CBS against his streaming site that then was known as BarryDriller.com. It, in turn, hewed closely to a suit filed against the site by Fox days earlier. (David this week finally settled his name-game tussle with Barry Diller and the latter’s Aereo service.)
Related: TV Networks Get Tentative Victory In Aereokiller Streaming Case
David is a media industry provocateur whose FilmOn streams programming taken from over-the-air signals, and it — like Diller’s Aereo — has incurred the wrath of broadcasters. In today’s suit, the networks and Allbritton claim that “Aereokiller provides users and subscribers the ability to receive whichever broadcast station the user or subscriber chooses, ultimately having the ability to watch live broadcast television programming over the Internet using any device. In other words, through the Aereokiller service, Defendants built a business founded on offering its users and subscribers a ‘live’ Internet and mobile streaming service based on Plaintiffs’ television programming, but without authorization or license from Plaintiffs.” Read More »
Chello Zone Bringing ‘Hardcore Pawn’ To Several Territories
International TV provider Chello Zone has acquired all nine series of the US reality TV show Hardcore Pawn for its CBS Reality network in Poland and one of its EMEA feeds. CBS Reality will air the shows in primetime across Poland, Cyprus, Hungary, Romania, the Middle East and Africa. The first will premiere in Poland in June. The reality documentary series, which centers on a Detroit pawn shop, is produced by Zodiak USA for Tru TV and distributed internationally by Zodiak Rights.
Karlovy Vary To Celebrate Jerry Schatzberg
The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival said today that Palme d’Or-winning director Jerry Schatzberg will attend the 48th edition of the festival to screen three of his earliest films. The influential American director will introduce his recently restored debut Puzzle Of A Downfall Child (1970), The Panic In Needle Park (1970) and Palme winner Scarecrow (1973). The Czech Republic fest runs June 28-July 6. Read More »
Would you pay €1.5 million ($1.94 million) to spend a weekend at Oscar parties? Or €1.8 million to fly to the moon on Virgin Galactic with Leonardo DiCaprio? Someone did — and more. That happened at amFAR’s annual Cinema Against AIDS Cannes Film Festival gala’s very special 20th anniversary Thursday night. Co-hosts Weinstein and Kenneth Cole announced to a roomful of very high rollers that the event, held of the Hotel Du Cap, raised €25 million ($32.3 million), smashing last year’s record total of over €10 million. The ultra-high style party is a two decades long staple of the Cannes festival, and Weinstein told me if it just made a dollar more than the previous year they’d be happy. But these multimillionaires and billionaires obviously came to play this year and really stepped up at the auction that featured numerous stars including jury members Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz, along with Jessica Chastain, Jeremy Renner, Rosario Dawson, Heidi Klum, Goldie Hawn, Janet Jackson, Adrien Brody and major fundraiser/auctioneer Sharon Stone.
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As we reported earlier this week citing the Financial Times, CORE Media Group is exploring a sale of Elvis Presley Enterprises as well as Muhammad Ali Enterprises. There had been no official comment on the potential sale until now. Deadline has obtained exclusively a statement from the Presley family about the development. “Our family enjoys a strong working relationship with CORE and is supportive of their process,” the statement says. “Lisa [Marie Presley] will maintain her interest in EPE and ownership of Graceland Mansion and looks forward to whatever opportunities enable the best long-term interests of the family.” Lisa Marie Presley owns 15% of EPE, which manages the assets of the Elvis Presley estate, including the 100-acre property in Memphis, Tennessee. CORE’s predecessor, CKX, bought the other 85% in 2005. (The Muhammad Ali family retains 20% ownership in MAE.) The Presley and Ali assets are estimated to fetch more than $200 million but CORE is not dead set to sale and may retain the properties if it is not satisfied with offers.
After ad buyers at last week’s upfronts, it is international buyers’ turn to get a glimpse of the broadcast networks’ crop of new shows. The annual LA Screenings are wrapping after marathon sessions of the studios unveiling their new series, with talent and producers on hand to promote them. After lackluster LA Screenings last year, with international buyers lamenting the lack of breakouts, there is some excitement this week. That is a promising sign for the broadcast networks as the screenings usually serve as a good barometer — last year’s broadcast freshman class indeed failed to produce major hits. The interest seems spread almost evenly between drama, which normally travels better overseas, and comedy this year. Not surprisingly, hot NBC drama pilot The Blacklist is garnering a ton of attention for producer Sony TV. Also hot at the studio is 1980s comedy The Goldbergs. Interestingly, Australian networks are very high on Rake, a remake of an Australian series. Additionally, Michael J. Fox, star of Sony TV’s new NBC series The Michael J. Fox Show, has been receiving enthusiastic reaction from buyers who waited up to an hour for a photo with the actor at the studio’s party Monday. Star power also is boosting 20th TV’s new comedy The Crazy … Read More »
Brian Brooks is a Deadline contributor.
Cannes is winding down with the year’s first glimpse of titles that will hit the fall release slates for companies Stateside, with a number likely to factor into the fall awards season. But first off, of course, is summer and Memorial Day weekend. Sony Classics’ Before Midnight and FocusWorld’s We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks will anchor the Specialty alternative to the official onslaught of blockbusters season. Richard Linklater’s Midnight is the third installment which debuted in the ’90s with Before Sunrise, while Oscar-winner Alex Gibney’s expose on WikiLeaks will take the non-fiction spotlight along with Plimpton! Starring George Plimpton As Himself from Laemmle/Zeller Films. Indican Pictures is bowing immigrant feature A Green Story with Shannon Elizabeth, Ed O’Ross and Billy Zane, while Monterey Media will open coming-of-age story, The Lesser Blessed.
Director-writer: Richard Linklater
Co-writers: Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Kim Krizan
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Prior, Charlotte Prior
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
SPC’s Michael Barker and Tom Bernard have played pivotal parts in Richard Linklater’s career, having released his first film Slacker at Orion and later Suburbia at SPC. They were also at Sony when Columbia Pictures released the first film that now forms a trio, Before Sunrise. “We’re big fans of these films and of Rick,” said Michael Barker in Cannes. “And when we saw the first screening of [Before Midnight] in Sundance, we knew we had to have it. The producers wanted us as well, so it felt like a match that had to happen. A deal was made very quickly and it’s been such a pleasure to work on this film. It has Rick at the peak of his form in a very relaxed sort of way. It has artistry but it’s also done in an entertaining way and being in Greece is just awesome.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Isabelle Fuhrman is set to star in Dear Eleanor, a coming-of-age story about two teenage girls who travel across the U.S. in 1962 during the chaos of the Cuban missile crisis in search of Eleanor Roosevelt. Kevin Connolly is directing the pic, which is being produced by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way. Amy Garcia and Cecillia Contreras wrote the script, and Chuck Pacheco, Hillary Sherman and Caleb Applegate are producing. Shooting began last week in Colorado. Fuhrman recently wrapped Michael James Johnson’s The Wilderness Of James opposite Kodi Smit-McPhee and played Clove in The Hunger Games. She is repped by CAA and Management 360.
United Talent Agency has picked up another one of the Glee club. Jacob Artist will be joining Cory Monteith, Naya Rivera, Jayma Mays and Melissa Benoist at UTA. The actor, who was previously with APA, will be represented by UTA in all areas. He continues to be represented by David Dean Management. Artist joined Fox’s Glee this season as Jake Puckerman the half-brother of Noah “Puck” Puckerman who is played by Mark Saling. The actor was seen last year in Lifetime’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening TV movie. Artist appears next in the feature The Philosophers as well as in White Bird in a Blizzard with Shailene Woodley, Angela Bassett and Gabourey Sidibe.