EXCLUSIVE: It has begun to feel like that pre-holiday slumber time, but here is a spec script that just sold in a competitive situation. Lotus Entertainment has landed the rights to Hernany Perla’s spec, Revelation, for a low to mid six figures. Circle Of Confusion’s David Alpert and Stephen Emery will produce with Anil Kurian. Lotus Co-Chairmen Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson will executive produce. D.J. Guggenheim brought in the spec and will oversee the project for Lotus.
It’s a high concept thriller with time travel and murder, I’m told. Hernany previously sold the feature spec Day One at MGM and his producing credits include Ghost Team One and the upcoming feature Eden. He was an exec at Lionsgate before the writing took off. Hernany is repped by Original Artists and Madhouse Entertainment.
Lotus has been getting aggressive. At Cannes, the label sold out international on the Anne Hathaway-starrer Song One, and arranged financing with Silver Reel on Joshua Marston’s Double Hour with Joel Edgerton and Michelle Williams (with CAA and UTA selling domestic; and Craig Zobel’s Z For Zachariah with Chris Pine, Amanda Seyfried and Chiwetel Ejiofer, and CAA and WME repping domestic. Lotus recently came on board the re-make of Park Chan Wook’s Sympathy For Vengeance, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and CJ Entertainment producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Tom DeSanto has teamed with David Ranes, Grace Roeder Oppenheimer, and Wayne Duband to form New Myth Entertainment. The intention is to hatch tentpole fare, along with some filmmaker driven small films. DeSanto’s writing and producing credits include X-Men and Transformers, and he was right there at the inception of both of those projects which have done billions in box office and merchandising. DeSanto is currently writing and producing his re-imagining of the millennium-old Chinese story, Creation Of The Gods, with YiSang Media, with plans of it being his next global film franchise.
New Myth is currently developing several big properties that include Faces, a high concept action thriller, with DeSanto and Ranes producing. “When a young genius invents infallible facial recognition software he uncovers a millennia old global conspiracy that threatens to throw the planet into chaos and a new World War,” DeSanto said.
BREAKING: The Brad Anderson-directed thriller Eliza Graves is based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe and begins production next week. If it makes it, the Millennium Films project will mark the end of a long road for screenwriter Joseph Gangemi, who penned the script adapting “The System Of Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether” 15 years ago, with three studios taking a crack at it before Millennium acquired U.S. rights at the last American Film Market. Now David Thewlis and Brendan Gleeson have joined a cast that already includes Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine in a thriller about a young doctor who comes to apprentice at a mental institution and meets a beautiful patient that he falls in love with amidst a set of difficult circumstances, which may be more complicated than they seem. Bruce Davey, Mel Gibson, Mark Amin and Cami Winikoff are producing. Executive producers are David Higgins, Christa Campbell, Lati Grobman and Mark Gill.
EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate has acquired screen rights to Devil In The Grove: Thurgood Marshall, The Groveland Boys, And The Dawn Of A New America, the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Gilbert King about the effort of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP’s legal team to save the lives of four black men falsely accused of raping a white woman in Florida in 1949. Adam Cooper & Bill Collage will write the script. Allison Shearmur is producing. The project is high priority at Lionsgate where production president Erik Feig and production and development director Jeyun Choi are overseeing it.
Devil In The Grove will yield a great role for a fortyish African-American actor to play the iconic Marshall, in a case fought to the Supreme Court before he made history with Brown Vs. Board of Education, which finally eliminated segregation in public schools. The scribes are also planning a strong role of Mabel Norris Reese, a journalist who covered the case. Initially outraged by the rape charges, she wrote honest stories as the evidence made it clear the “victim” had invented the allegations. Read More »
Another veteran ABC executive is heading to NBC. I’ve learned that Quinn Taylor, SVP Movies, Miniseries and Acquisitions at ABC Entertainment Group, will be leaving the network after almost 20 years to join rival NBC, which is looking to restart a longform division. I hear his title will be EVP Movies, Miniseries and International Co-Productions.
NBC has The Sound Of Music staging coming up, which would be right up Taylor’s alley as he has overseen a number of TV musicals at ABC, including Meredith Willson’s The Music Man starring Matthew Broderick. ABC is the only broadcast network that kept its longform division, headed by a high-level executive, while TV movies and miniseries dwindled on broadcast TV during the past several years.
Given the longform drought, Taylor had been focused on lower-budget and acquired series recently, overseeing such ABC shows as this summer’s newcomers Motive and Mistresses and returning Rookie Blue. NBC has been also very aggressive in acquired/lower-license fee series, including this summer’s Camp and Crossing Lines as well as recently renewed Hannibal and next season’s Crossbones and Dracula.
In light of the blockbuster success of History’s Hatfields & McCoys and The Bible, miniseries and limited/event series are making a big comeback, something NBC clearly wants to be part of. Fox and FX launched a longform unit last fall and recently greenlighted their first three event/limited series: Fargo on FX and 24: Live Another Day and Wayward … Read More »
Jack Paglen‘s had quite a ride since his script Transcendencemade the 2012 Black List. That one was picked up by Alcon Entertainment, which hired Christopher Nolan collaborator and Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister to make his directorial debut. Warner Bros is releasing it April 25, 2014 and Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany and Kate Mara are starring. Now Paglen’s in negotiations for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus 2, another sci-fi themed-story and the sequel to Fox’s June 2012 pic that starred Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace and Idris Elba and grossed $400M-plus worldwide. Fox had announced previously that a sequel was in the works.
The gap between Modern Family and the rest of the Emmy comedy field has been so wide that even an imperfect third season landed the ABC family comedy a third consecutive best series win last year. But Modern Family is wrapping another uneven season, and with its ratings slipping and challengers gaining on it, a fourth statuette is far from guaranteed. HBO’s Girls is coming off a Golden Globe win, there’s a growing sentiment that CBS’ Nielsen juggernaut The Big Bang Theory is past due to be recognized, and former best comedy series Emmy winner Arrested Development is back. Will Modern Family’s winning streak come to an end this year? Here’s our assessment of the show’s chances, as well as the rest of the contenders. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated actor John Hurt has been tapped as the co-lead opposite Corey Stoll and Mia Maestro in FX‘s high-profile drama pilotThe Strain, from Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse, which is being eyed for a 13-episode pickup. The high-concept thriller, directed by del Toro from a script he co-wrote with Chuck Hogan based on their vampire novel trilogy, tells the story of Dr. Ephraim Goodweather (Stoll), the head of the Centers for Disease Control Canary Team in New York City. He and his team are called upon to investigate a mysterious viral outbreak with hallmarks of an ancient and evil strain of vampirism. Hurt, who first worked with del Toro in his 2004 feature Hellboy, will portray Professor Abraham Setrakian, a holocaust survivor who immigrated to the U.S. after World War II and now runs a pawn shop in Spanish Harlem. As the outbreak spreads, he may be the only one with answers — if anyone will listen. Read More »
Showtime has unveiled the first look at its new series Masters Of Sex, which premieres September 29. The adaptation of Thomas Maier’s book stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as William Masters and Virginia Johnson and chronicles their unusual lives, romance and pop culture trajectory as pioneers in the study of human sexuality.
Author Angela Wilder had sued CBS, Sony TV and Relativity Media among others in October alleging that her idea for a talk show based on motherhood was the real inspiration for CBS’ The Talk. CBS immediately refuted the claim, a seven-count suit in which Wilder said she never actually met with anyone from CBS TV Studios or RelativityReal, the producers of the daytime talk show starring Sara Gilbert, Sharon Osbourne, Sheryl Underwood, Aisha Tyler and Julie Chen. (CBS and RelativityReal were eventually dismissed as defendants.) CBS has always said that The Talk is based on an idea by Gilbert. Said Sony today of the dismissal, filed earlier this month (read the dismissal document here): “Ms. Wilder brought her case in good faith, but after seeing all of the evidence, she decided to voluntarily drop her lawsuit with prejudice. No payment is being made to Ms. Wilder. The Sony Pictures defendants, as well as previously dismissed defendants CBS, Relativity Real and Tom Forman, have agreed not to seek any costs or fees from her.”
Investors like the consistent reports that Charter Communications is prowling for acquisition targets, especially now that it’s backed by Liberty Media which recently paid $2.6B for a 27% stake in the cable operator. But some are less sure than they were late last week that Time Warner Cable will be a target. Shares in the No. 2. cable company slid 2.5% to $101.29 today. That’s just a slight retreat after Friday’s 8.3% jump to a 52-week high of $104.13, which followed a CNBC report that Charter has its eye on a transformational deal with Time Warner Cable. Liberty Media CEO Gregg Maffei met with TWC chief Glenn Britt recently to talk about the benefits of of a merger of equals, CNBC’s David Faber reported. Although there was no offer, Faber said that TWC decided to “re-engage with longtime advisor Morgan Stanley and hire an outside PR firm in case it needed to defend against a more public onslaught.” Investors don’t rule out the possibility that Charter, which has a market value of $11.9B, will make a bold effort to combine with TWC, valued at $29.5B. But many believe Charter probably would start off looking for smaller targets such as Cox, Mediacom, or Suddenlink. That was also a recurring theme in conversations at last week’s annual Cable Show in D.C. Charter was +1% today to $117.72 after its 5.6% bump on Friday. Most cable companies “are trading on deal … Read More »
Poor Matt Damon. Damon’s tour de force one night “hosting” stint January 24th on Jimmy Kimmel Live was a real triumph, maybe the funniest and finest work by any guest on a variety (as talk shows are classified in the Emmys) series this season. Damon’s rep tells me they had been trying for a very long time to make this appearance possible and finally his schedule freed him up to do it. But as far as Emmys go, it doesn’t exist.
Of course the whole show was one big gag based on Kimmel’s long standing show biz mock hatred of Damon. He’s ended virtually every episode of his decade-old talker by saying that unfortunately the show ran out of time for Damon’s appearance. Of course Damon was never really booked and it was all an elaborate running joke but finally it paid off when Damon supposedly kidnapped Kimmel, tied him up and took over the host desk. With Kimmel, his mouth taped shut , hopelessly looking on from the background , Damon took over with a great monologue and a couch full of A-listers that included Nicole Kidman, Gary Oldman, Demi Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Amy Adams, Sarah Silverman (Kimmel’s ex), Andy Garcia, Robin Williams and others including BFF Ben Affleck. Read More »
Producer David Binder is thrilled to announce that Neil Patrick Harris will star in the Broadway premiere of John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask’s musical HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH in the Spring of 2014. The remaining creative team members, additional casting, and the theatre will be confirmed at a later date.
The announcement that Neil Patrick Harris will play ‘Hedwig,’ follows his recent triumphant engagement as the host of the 67th Annual Tony Awards® (the highest rated Tonys® broadcast in more than a decade).
EXCLUSIVE: Following a five week run at The Barrow Street Theatre in New York City last month, Colin QuinnUnconstitutional will be re-opening at The Cherry Lane Theatre on July 4. Quinn, the former Weekend Update anchor on Saturday Night Live, wrote and stars. Rebecca A. Trent directs him. It is presented by Brillstein Entertainment Partners and Mike Lavoie.
Basically, Quinn tackles 226 years of American Constitutional calamities in 70 minutes. The reviews were strong in its first limited run. The show will also hit the road, with Quinn starring in a tour that starts with the 13 original American colonies, sometime in the fall. Quinn’s last one man stage show, Colin Quinn Long Story Short, debuted in 2010 with Jerry Seinfeld directing. The show received a Drama Desk nomination as well as an Emmy Award for the HBO broadcast of the play. Onscreen, Quinn will next be seen in Grown Ups 2 for Sony, and he will reprise his recurring role in the new season of the HBO series Girls.
EXCLUSIVE:Modern Family star Ed O’Neill has signed with Paradigm, joining his longtime agent Iris Grossman who moved from ICM Partners to Paradigm earlier this month. O’Neill, who is managed by Brillstein Entertainment Partners, is the third major Grossman client to follow her from ICM to Paradigm joining Mandy Patinkin and Fraces Conroy. O’Neill stars as patriarch Jay Pritchett on ABC’s Emmy-winning comedy Modern Family, a role that has earned him two Emmy nominations. He is one of the highest-paid actors on TV as he also has ownership in the show. O’Neill’s previous series credits include Married… With Children, John From Cincinnati and The West Wing. In features and on stage, O’Neill has a decades-spanning affiliation with the Pulitzer-winning playwright David Mamet, appearing in his films The Spanish Prisoner, Spartan and Redbelt and stage productions of Lakeboat and Keep Your Pantheon.
BREAKING:Stephanie Sperber oversees all of Universal’s global consumer products, digital licensing, theatrical and home entertainment promotions across all divisions of Universal Pictures as well as strategic marketing alliances for both Universal Pictures and Universal Studios Parks and Resorts Group. Her contract as president of Universal Partnerships & Licensing president had another year and a half on it, but she is now re-signed until June 2016. She continues to report to Universal chairman Adam Fogelson.
Sperber has led UP&L since its creation in 2009. The unit’s recent successes have included studio’s largest-ever global licensing and promotional campaign for Universal and Illumination Entertainment’s Despicable Me 2, which involves more than 100 promotional partners worldwide and includes the first mobile game for the Despicable Me franchise in conjunction with Gameloft. It’s part of the studio’s largest licensing effort since 2005′s King Kong. In addition, the group was behind the successful release of Fast & Furious 6: The Game, the mobile game that has taken off worldwide in service of the film which has just surpassed Fast 5 as the highest-grossing film in the franchise worldwide (it’s now the No. 2 grossing film of 2013 with a worldwide total of $636.9M with three territories to come). Read More »
True Blood is keeping its title of HBO‘s flagship series… at least for now. Last night’s premiere of Season 6, the vampire drama’s first without Alan Ball at the helm, delivered 4.5 million viewers for the episode directed by star Stephen Moyer. That was down from the 5.2 million who tuned in for last year’s Season 5 debut, which did not face the NBA Finals as was the case last night. It was also up a notch from the 4.4 million viewers who watched the Season 3 opener of Game Of Thrones. The medieval fantasy series kept growing throughout the season, hitting a series of highs. It remains to be seen whether True Blood will follow a similar upward ratings trajectory. Regardless, this is a solid turnout for a series in its sixth season.
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: Signing an exclusive first look deal with The Weinstein Company, Cary Woods is making his way back. Back to the features game, back with Harvey Weinstein, and back from a near death experience that took almost two years of recovery. In the 1990s, Woods was a charming dealmaker with relentless optimism who was one of the producers on Godzilla (the disappointing 1998 version), and who launched a lot of new talent with Weinstein at Disney-owned Miramax. His films there included launching the Wes Craven-directed and Kevin Williamson-scripted Scream franchise, the Larry Clark-directed Harmony Korine-scripted Kids, Korine’s directing debut Gummo, Doug Liman’s Swingers, James Mangold’s Cop Land and Alexander Payne’s Citizen Ruth. They fell out over a deal extension that was as bruising as feuds with Weinstein tended to be back then. Woods calls that water under the bridge. It’s understandable he would be more zen about life; he considers himself lucky to be alive after getting hit by a truck and taking about two years to find his way back.
Woods suffered the trauma when he was in London for his son’s sixth birthday party in late 2010. The 60 broken bones and shattered face wasn’t the worst part; he lapsed into a coma and was given a 30% chance to survive, he told me. Murderball helmer Henry Alex Rubin, whom Woods hired as a 19-year old PA on Cop Land, was invited to the party because he was shooting a commercial nearby. “He called my best friend, who is my ex-wife, who flew there immediately,” Woods said. “They told her I had 30% chance to live and that I was going to be out of it for about two years. And it turned out to be close to that. My ex let me hole up in her home, where I slept 18 hours a day.” Read More »
Here’s an enterprising awards campaign from the folks at Netflix during Emmy-voting crunch time. Or rather, lunch time. Today and Tuesday between 11 AM-3 PM, the network’s House Of Cards is slinging grub in LA from the Rollin’ Rib BBQ food truck (masquerading as Freddy’s BBQ, favored joint of Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood) free to card-carrying members of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Deadline hears that some Emmy voters even received home deliveries. “I appreciate your vote,” Underwood menaces from the truck’s FYC ad wrap. Ballots are due June 28. Will Academy members vote with their stomachs?