Saturday Night Live‘s guest host Lena Dunham last night played a self-absorbed neophyte who’s overwhelmed by the competence of everyone in Olivia Pope’s crisis management firm. Sasheer Zamata mimics Kerry Washington. Here you go:
Saturday Night Live has its best luck with routines in which guest hosts make fun of themselves. That was the case last night when Lena Dunham, the creator and star of HBO’s Girls, acknowledged the vigorous debate over her show’s frequent nudity. She did it in the monologue (watch below) with a familiar set-up: She says SNL‘s a place “where people respect boundaries,” and then cast members predictably don’t. She also filmed a fake trailer (also below) for a movie about the biblical story of Adam and Eve where she plays her overanxious character from Girls and Taran Killam does an overwrought parody of Adam Driver, who portrays her boyfriend on the show. Check out the clips:
With his FX series kicking off its delayed fifth season in May, Louis C.K. will make a second appearance as host of Saturday Night Live on March 29. The writer-actor-comedian first hosted the NBC late-night show in November 2012, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, when highlights included this spoof of Louie featuring Louis CK as Abraham Lincoln. Check it out:
The Society of Camera Operators held an in memoriam tribute to assistant camerawoman Sarah Jones as part of its annual awards ceremony tonight at the Skirball Cultural Center. The tribute was the second to be held for the 27-year-old this weekend following Friday’s Sunset Boulevard candlelight walk and vigil in her honor, which counted nearly 1,000 local union members. Attending both events were Jones’ parents Richard and Elizabeth from South Carolina. Jones was killed in an on-set train accident during the production of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider on February 20 in Jesup, GA. Jones’ death has spurred an industrywide outcry for improved safety standards.
As part of the ceremony, her parents were presented with a plaque accepting her as an honorary member of the SOC. Former SOC president Dan Kneece, who cut together the moving tribute video of Jones as the Hall & Oates song “Sara Smile” played, said he was crying as he put together the presentation. Although he didn’t know Jones personally, he was friends with her on Facebook because of a mutual friend, Amanda Etheridge, who spoke at Friday night’s memorial about her friend and mentor. The tribute was part of the SOC’s annual awards ceremony tonight in which Gravity‘s Peter Taylor won the Camera Operator of the Year-Feature Film award and Mad Men‘s Don Devine the Camera Operator of the Year-TV award. The event took place before an audience of 500, including Society of Camera Operators and International Cinematographer Guild members. (See the full list of winners an honorees below.)
Science Channel is tapping into a science-crazed social media phenomenon for multi-format series I F-ing Love Science, to be exec produced by Craig Ferguson. The show is inspired by the popular Facebook page I F*cking Love Science, which has attracted more than 11M social media followers since it was created three years ago by British biology student Elise Andrew, who is onboard as a consulting producer. The series is produced by Green Mountain West Inc. and Karga7 Productions and will premiere in the fourth quarter, featuring a blend of live-action, animation, and re-creations showcasing the random connectivity of science with appearances by celebrities and scientists. Ferguson made the announcement via taped message Saturday at Science Channel’s SXSW Interactive event . The late-night host will exec produce alongside Green Mountain West partner Rebecca Tucker, Karga7′s Sarah Wetherbee, and Science Channel’s Debbie Adler Myers and Rocky Collins. Science Channel VP Production Bernadette McDaid is overseeing.
Lifetime tonight unveiled promo for sixth and final season of Drop Dead Diva, beginning Sunday, March 23 at 9 PM ET/PT. After a brief cancellation a year ago, Lifetime‘s Drop Dead Diva was resurrected with a fifth-season pickup and in September received a 13-episode Season 6 renewal. Then, last month, the network announced that the upcoming sixth season would be the series’ last. Since resurrecting Diva last March, Lifetime saw both of its freshman series, Devious Maids and The Witches Of East End, perform well and earn second-season renewals.
Watch the Drop Dead Diva final-season trailer here:
Diane Haithman is a Deadline contributor.
Producer Harvey Weinstein told LA Film Czar Ken Ziffren today that he needs to do whatever it takes to increase California’s $100 million Film and TV Tax Credit Program in order to keep production in the state. The remarks were made during Weinstein’s keynote address at today’s 38th annual UCLA Entertainment Symposium.
Weinstein argued that California does not have to offer the same discounts as, say, New Orleans as long as the state can provide enough of an incentive when weighed against the added travel and production costs called for by out-of-state production. He said producers can elevate the quality of production by tapping the superior Hollywood talent pool and prefer to avoid transportation hassles that “can turn scheduling into a nightmare.”
On February 19, legislation was introduced to expand the $100 million credit program, with nearly 60 co-sponsors from across the state. However, Gov. Jerry Brown has been weary about adding new expenditures to the state’s stable budget. “Please, whatever you can do with the governor…” Weinstein pleaded to Ziffren, who offered no immediate response. Ziffren, who was named the city’s Film Czar on February 10, mentioned in a conference call February 27 that he wants to see production in the state return to the lofty levels seen during the mid-1990s. Industry sources have said the the California program should aim for a target credit level of $400 million.
EXCLUSIVE: In the grand tradition of Borat and recent Paramount hit Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, prank comedy hybrid May The Best Man Win combines narrative storytelling with hidden camera stunts pulled on real folks, starring Drew Tarver of the upcoming sitcom spin-off How I Met Your Dad, Whitmer Thomas of Comedy Central’s pilot Crazy House, and Rosa Salazar of NBC’s pilot The Pro. Directed by That Awkward Moment producer and Brit comedy vet Andrew O’Connor (Balls of Steel, Peep Show), the hard-R gotcha-comedy tracks YouTube pranksters Whit and Drew who recruit a girl into their team and then compete for her affections in a series of embarrassing and outrageous challenges. Last summer the What If It Barks Films production made headlines in L.A. with one of their pranks, in which dozens of actresses were asked to audition in blackface and impersonate Hitler for a bit that left a number of would-be starlets upset. Pic is scripted by O’Connor, Matthew Robinson, and Lee Hupfield and world premieres tonight in SXSW‘s Visions program. O’Connor, Robinson, Lee Hupfield, and Ray Marshall are producers and Andrew Newman, Oliver Obst, and Manu Gargi exec produced. Here’s an exclusive taste:
Fox and Nat GEO‘s reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series is getting some White House lift-off. President Obama will be introducing the series premiere episode this Sunday, March 9 at 9pm ET/PT. A preview of the series screened at the White House as part of their inaugural White House Film Festival on Friday, February 28. Release is below:
The Unit alum Robert Patrick is back at CBS with a co-starring role in another drama project, pilot Scorpion, from writer Nick Santora, director Justin Lin, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It centers on an eccentric genius and his international network of super-geniuses who form the last line of defense against the complex threats of the modern age. Patrick, repped by Gersh, McKuen Frankel Whitehead and the Coronel group, will play Cabe Gallo, a no non-sense, blue collar Federal Agent who works with the group. He is currently on El Rey’s From Dusk til Dawn and has Kill the Messenger coming out.
First deal out of SXSW today is Lionsgate‘s purchase of the North American rights for Eduardo Sanchez‘s Bigfoot feature Exists. Sanchez co-directed the 1999 microbudget title The Blair Witch Project for $60K, which then-distributor Artisan morphed into a worldwide phenom with close to $250 million at the box office. Below is Lionsgate’s release for the Jamie Nash-scripted Exists:
(Austin, TX & Santa Monica, CA, March 8, 2014) — Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF) has acquired North American distribution rights to EXISTS, a new horror film from THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT director Eduardo Sánchez. The film played last night to a sold-out midnight screening at SXSW in Austin.
In Bigfoot’s bold return to the big screen, five friends on a camping weekend in the remote woods of East Texas struggle to survive against a legendary predator that is stronger, smarter, and more terrifying than anything they would have ever believed exists.
Following a lengthy casting process, Melissa Roxburgh has landed the female lead of Violet in the planted Supernatural spinoff, now titled Supernatural: Bloodlines (formerly Tribes). Like her new co-stars Nathaniel Buzolic, Sean Faris and Stephen Martines, who all previously recurred on The Vampire Diaries, Roxburgh too has appeared on hit CW series before. She has done an arc on Arrow and a guest stint on the mothership Supernatural series. Written by Andrew Dabb and directed by Robert Singer, Supernatural: Bloodlines revolves around the various mafia-esque monster families that unknowingly to humans “run” the underbelly of Chicago and are being tracked by a newly minted Hunter who’s trying to stop them and rid Chicago of anything or anyone supernatural. Roxburgh’s Violet is a member of the powerful werewolf pack who hides her true nature because of her forbidden love for family rival David (Bozulic). But when cornered, her inner wolf breaks free. The Bloodlines Supernatural episode airs on April 29. Roxburgh is with Gersh.
Late-night competitor Stephen Colbert stopped by Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, discussed playing Paul Peterson in Mr. Peabody and Sherman, and tried to get Fallon to plug his Comedy Central show during a round of Truth or Truth. Watch here:
“We are all Sarah Jones,” “Never Forget. Never Again,” and “Safety for Sarah” were the rallying cries tonight during the first of two tributes held this weekend by local unions for the 27 year-old assistant camerawoman killed on the set of Midnight Rider two weeks ago. The tribute began at 7 PM with candlelight walk and vigil that started at the DGA building and ended at the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600 offices two blocks down Sunset Blvd.
The crowd of almost 1,000 members from across several unions participated in the memorial vigil held for Jones who was killed on a train track on the set in Georgia. Seven others were injured included two seriously — the 42 year-old hairstylist Joyce Gilliard and the make-up artist.
Related: ‘Midnight Rider’ Suspends Filming Following Train Death
A scholarship fund has been set up in Sarah Jones’ name and donations can be made to the BCHS Foundation in c/o Sarah Jones, 1300 State St., Cayce, SC 29034.
The evening’s tribute began with a video slide presentation of Sarah Jones set to the music of Somewhere Over the Rainbow (the Brother Iz version) as her grieving (and very courageous) parents, Elizabeth and Richard Jones from South Carolina, along with members of the Local 600 — including a very emotional Bruce Doering, National Executive Director of the International Cinematographers Guild — spoke, but none so impassioned as Mike Miller, VP of the IATSE.
Malik Yoba is set to co-star opposite Terrence Howard in Fox’s hip-hop industry drama pilot Empire, from Lee Daniels, Danny Strong and Brian Grazer. It centers on Lucious Lyon (Howard), a charismatic, savvy music superstar who is about to take his company, Empire Entertainment, public. Yoba, repped by Innovative and the Arlook Group, will play Vernon Turner, Lucious’s longtime friend from the streets and business associate who is now the chairman of the board of Empire Entertainment.
Related: 2014 Fox Pilots
‘Gone With The Bullets’ Sets China Release Date
Jiang Wen’s Gone With The Bullets has secured a December 18 release date in China. The film is the follow-up to Jiang’s blockbuster Let The Bullets Fly, which made $140M worldwide in 2010. Based on a true story, 3D comedy Gone With The Bullets is set in 1920s Shanghai. Ma Zouri (Jiang Wen) and Xiang Feitian (Ge You) establish a notorious beauty pageant called the Flowers Competition. All of the city’s elite attend the gala event, but when an unexpected winner is crowned, it sets into motion a series of tragic events that change their destinies. Per FilmBizAsia, Jiang’s Buyilehu Film told local media that it hopes the title will represent China at the Oscars next year. The film will be handled internationally by Sony Pictures Releasing International. December is a hot time locally for Chinese films with U.S. movies often out of the frame. FBA says other films believed to be eyeing a December release include Tsui Hark’s The Taking Of Tiger Mountain, Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Wolf Totem and Chen Kaige’s Taoist Mountain.
I’ve learned that NBC’s comedy pilot Fifth Wheel is not going forward, at least for now, after difficulties with casting. With the number of original scripted series on cable and digital platforms exploding, there were major concerns going into this broadcasting season that the depleted talent pool would put extra strain on casting, leading to a number of pilots folding over problems finding the right actors. So far, those concerns have not materialized, with Fifth Wheel the first pilot this season to be pushed. There will not be a noticeable void left as NBC already had ordered the most comedy pilots, 14, as well as two series, Tooken and Mr. Robinson, for next season. Fifth Wheel, from ABC Studios and the Mark Gordon Co., was written on spec by Heidi Niedermeyer & Elena Crevello. It an ensemble comedy of a tight-knit group of friends that centers around a young woman who confronts her new reality after her last single friend gets engaged. Gordon and Andrea Shay executive produce, with Niedermeyer and Crevello as supervising producers.