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Aaron Sorkin’s New HBO Series Gets Title: ‘The Newsroom’

By | Wednesday December 21, 2011 @ 4:00pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Series Gets New Title?

The Newsroom. That is the official title of Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming HBO drama series, once known as More As This Story Develops. The new title made its debut in HBO’s just- released end-of-year trailer (video below), which highlights the network’s 2011 series and movies as well the upcoming attractions for 2012, including The Newsroom, represented by several frames, the first footage from the show to be released by HBO. Sorkin’s series has been without a title for the past couple of months though speculation about Newsroom being the top choice surfaced early this month following a post on TVNewser. At the time, the title had not been cleared. Its variation, The Newsroom, was confirmed by HBO as the official title today. The Newsroom stars Jeff Daniels as the anchor of a primetime program on a cable news network; Emily Mortimer as his new executive producer; Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel and Thomas Sadoski as newsroom staffers; and Sam Waterston as the network’s president. They were joined recently by Jane Fonda, who signed on for a recurring role as the CEO of the network’s parent company.

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Jane Fonda To Recur On Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Series

By | Wednesday December 14, 2011 @ 3:20pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

In her first major TV series gig, Oscar winner Jane Fonda is joining Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming HBO drama series in a recurring role. The series, set behind the scenes at a fictional cable news network, stars Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer, Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski and Sam Waterston. According to TVLine, which broke the news, Fonda will play Leona Lansing, the CEO of the cable news network’s parent company whose corporate concerns often conflict with the reporting of the news. Fonda knows a thing or two about heads of cable news networks — she was married to one, CNN founder Ted Turner.

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Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Series Gets New Title?

By | Monday December 5, 2011 @ 12:01pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

UPDATED: Has Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming HBO drama series, known as More As This Story Develops gotten an official title? That’s according to TV Newser, which says the show will be titled Newsroom. That indeed is the top choice for a title but it has not been cleared, so it is not clear if it will work. The project stars Jeff Daniels as Will McCallister, anchor of a primetime program on cable news network UBS; Emily Mortimer as his new executive producer; Alison Pill, John Gallagher, Jr., Olivia Munn, Dev Patel and Thomas Sadoski as newsroom staffers; and Sam Waterston as UBS News president Charlie Skinner. The West Wing creator Sorkin, an Oscar winner for his The Social Network screenplay, executive produces the new series with Scott Rudin.

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UPDATE: ‘The Artist’ Is NY Film Critics Circle Best Picture; Meryl Streep Best Actress For ‘Iron Lady’, Brad Pitt Best Actor

New York Film Critics Jump The Gun, Unveil New November Awards Voting Date

The NY Film Critics Circle has just bestowed its Best Picture award for 2011 to Michel Hazanavicius’ black-and-white silent film The Artist, putting the Weinstein Co drama squarely in the race for the Best Picture Oscar. The NYFCC announced its winners today via its Twitter feed. Hazanavicius also won Best Director from the critics group. Meryl Streep won Best Actress for the Weinsteins’ The Iron Lady, the first shot fired in what is sure to be a heated awards-season race in that category. Brad Pitt picked up the Best Actor nod for his work in Moneyball and The Tree Of Life, while Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin won Best Screenplay for Moneyball. Terrence Malick’s Tree Of Life had a good day, also nabbing wins for Best Cinematography (Emmanuel Lubezki) and for Best Supporting Actress Jessica Chastain, who also was noted for her work in The Help and Take Shelter. Here’s the final list:

Best Picture: The Artist
Best Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
Best Screenplay: Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball)
Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Best Foreign-Language Film: A Separation
Best Actor:
Brad Pitt (Moneyball, The Tree Of Life)
Best Actress:
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain (The Tree Of Life, The Help and Take Shelter)
Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks (Drive)
Best Nonfiction Film: Cave Of Forgotten Dreams
Best First Feature: Margin Call
2011 Special Award: Raoul Ruiz (posthumous)
Read More »

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Obama Steps Up 2012 Hollywood Fundraising

GOP Candidates Seeking Hollywood Help

“We were discussing the new season of Glee,” tweeted Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson about what he and President Obama said to one another last night at the Sunset Strip’s House of Blues. It’s where the actor emceed one of two Hollywood fundraisers for Obama’s re-election campaign Monday. According to a White House pool report, Obama greeted Ferguson, turned to the microphone, and said, “I was telling him that Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family.” Some in the crowd chanted “Four more years”. Roughly 900 people paid ticket prices starting at $250 and as much as $10,000 (to secure a photo with the president).

The second fundraiser cost $17,900 for each of the 120 people in attendance at Melrose Avenue’s Fig & Olive restaurant. The private event’s co-hosts included Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, his longtime political adviser Andy Spahn, and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. “I’m going to need your help, so don’t get tired on me now,” Obama was quoted by a pool report as telling showbiz attendees like Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin, Jamie Foxx, Jack Black, Eva Longoria, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, and Jon Landau (producer of Avatar and Titanic). “I urge some of you to watch the Republican debates,” Obama added.

Obama received a standing ovation from the industry types seated at round tables with white table linens. But news of the president’s impending Hollywood fundraising was punctuated by several media articles proclaiming that Tinseltown support for him had eroded greatly since 2008. Recently Democratic activists like Robert Redford, Matt Damon, and Michael Moore have criticized Obama’s inability to stay the liberal course. Katzenberg seemed to address that disappointment when he introduced Obama by saying, “We must keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us.” Katzenberg also noted, “I have a dependency on President Obama. He inherited a crashing economy and two wars and opponents who questioned if he was even born (in the U.S.). Yet he kept us moving forward. He was dealt adversity on all fronts, but he maintained his stature.” Read More »

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Toronto: Where Are The Film Deals?

Mike Fleming

Just as it did last year, the 2011 Toronto Film Festival has gotten off to a slow start on the acquisitions front. I spoke with many buyers after last night’s onslaught of acquisition title premieres, and the common feeling was these distributors need to fill slots in their schedules and they want to fall in love, but haven’t quite gotten there yet with most of these films. They had some reservations on just about all of the films they saw. These films will clearly find distribution homes, but the reaction means that deals will drag out because those distributors aren’t going to be posting large minimum guarantees, the way they did in Cannes.

Even the big sale of the festival so far, the Steve McQueen-directed NC-17 sex drama Shame, wasn’t a huge commitment for all the press hoopla that followed Deadline’s reveal that the film had sold to Fox Searchlight. I am hearing the deal was a mid-six figure minimum guarantee around $400,000, and a P&A commitment around $1.5 million. That sounds about right, because the filmmakers were most concerned with entering this year’s Oscar race to capitalize on the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, and ensuring that not a frame of the picture was changed. But it doesn’t sound like a wide release picture.

As for the wide release titles, they are going to sell, but it will be a struggle for sellers to get the dollars they want. I saw one of those titles that sit atop buyer lists last night. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was scripted by Simon Beaufoy, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The film is sophisticated, funny, timely and utterly charming, and I would be surprised if it isn’t snapped up by Monday or sooner. That film got the best reaction from the buyers I spoke with. The pace of auctioning has been complicated by the volume of premieres last night, including Rampart, Take This Waltz, The Oranges, the hockey comedy Goon and the Morgan Spurlock-directed documentary Comic-Con: A Fan’s Hope. Buyers had to make choices, and some were seeing films like Salmon this morning. I expect a flurry of deals toward the end of the festival, which is how it played out last year.

Since there’s little going on so far, you have time to notice things. Here are a few things I’ve noticed: Read More »

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HBO Picks Up Aaron Sorkin Pilot To Series

By | Thursday September 8, 2011 @ 10:50am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

It’s official: HBO has picked up Aaron Sorkin’s hourlong cable news network pilot to series. The now untitled drama (formerly More As This Story Develops), which has been a virtual lock for a series order, centers on a cable news anchor (Jeff Daniels), his new executive producer (Emily Mortimer), his newsroom staff (Alison Pill, John Gallagher Jr, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski), and their boss (Sam Waterston). Together they set out on a patriotic and quixotic mission to do the news well in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal entanglements. The size of the order for the series is yet to be determined, but it should be around 10 episodes.

Sorkin wrote the pilot after lengthy research during which he spent time at Keith Olbermann’s and Chris Matthews’ MSNBC shows as well as behind the scenes at Fox News Channel and CNN programs. Sorkin executive produced the pilot, which was directed by Greg Mottola, with Scott Rudin and Alan Poul. This is Sorkin’s fourth series after Sports Night, the Emmy-winning The West Wing and Studio 60 On the Sunset Strip, and the first one on cable. Sorkin, who won an Academy Award in March for penning The Social Network, is now the second writer-creator to do an HBO series right after winning an Oscar. Alan Ball followed his Academy Award for American Beauty with HBO’s Six Feet Under.

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Olivia Munn Joins ‘Magic Mike’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Steven Soderbergh’s hunkfest Magic Mike is finally getting something that has so far been missing: actresses. Olivia Munn is negotiating to play the role of Amber, the love interest to Channing Tatum, who plays Magic Mike. She’ll join Tatum, Alex Pettyfer, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer and True Blood‘s Joe Mangianello. All of them play male strippers in the coming-of-age story that revolves around the relationship between a veteran dancer (Tatum) and his protege (Pettyfer). The film is based on experiences Tatum actually had when he was a teenage dancer. As for Munn, she next stars opposite Sarah Jessica Parker in I Don’t Know How She Does It for The Weinstein Company, as well as the Aaron Sorkin HBO pilot More As the Story Develops. Munn continues as a correspondent on The Daily Show and she just shot the indie Babymakers, co-starring with Paul Schneider. CAA and Mosaic rep Munn.

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Disney, Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Turn ‘Quantum Hoops’ Doc Into Comedy About Caltech Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Disney has acquired remake rights to Quantum Hoops, the 2007 documentary that followed the 2006 Caltech basketball team that had 21 seasons and 245 conference games without a single win, routinely getting walloped by 60 points or more. Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld’s Red Hour will produce a comedy based on the story of a group of brainiacs — future political and industrial titans — who tried to overcome a lack of athletic skills by getting an exiled NCAA coach to lead their team to what seemed for two decades an impossible dream: one in the W column. The script will be written by Stan Chervin, who was the first writer to adapt Michael Lewis’ Moneyball (Chervin emerged from an arbitration with story credit, while screen credit on the upcoming Brad Pitt film went to Steve Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin.) Red Hour’s Erica Steinberg brought in the project and will be executive producer along with Brian Truman, Jeremy Platt and the doc’s director, Rick Greenwald. ICM brokered the rights deal to the documentary and repped Chervin.

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HBO Teams With John Krasinski & Aaron Sorkin For Chateau Marmont Miniseries

By | Thursday June 23, 2011 @ 12:37pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: The Chateau Marmont, which for the past 80 years has served as the backdrop of major events in Hollywood history and the lives of its famous inhabitants, will now take front stage in a miniseries from The Office star John Krasinski and Aaron Sorkin. Oscar winner Sorkin will write the mini, now in early development, which will be based on the book Life At The Marmont by former Chateau Marmont co-owner Raymond R. Sarlot and Fred Basten. Krasinski, who has been the driving force behind the project, and Sorkin will executive produce with Chateau Marmont’s current owner Andre Balazs and his daughter Alessandra. Krasinski is also expected to play a role in the as-yet-untitled miniseries, which will tell the interconnected stories of the people who frequented the famed Hollywood landmark over several generations. Since the 1930s, the building, originally built as an apartment complex in the late 1920s and then converted into a hotel, has been the epicenter of Hollywood, attracting film and television actors, literary greats and rock stars. Its guest list through the years has included Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Erol Flynn, Stan Laurel, John Wayne, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, Sharon Tate, Hunter S. Thompson, Heath Ledger, Keanu Reeves and Lindsay Lohan. Greta Garbo attended parties there during her movie star days and later stayed at the hotel during her seclusion period, James Dean auditioned for Rebel Without a Cause there, Howard Hughes stayed in the attic and spied on women at the pool, F. Scott Fitzgerald had a heart attack at the hotel, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Anthony Kiedis recorded and Lily Allen wrote a song there, and Sofia Coppola set and filmed Somewhere at the Chateau Marmont. And then there is the event the hotel is most closely associated with: John Belushi’s 1982 death of a drug overdose in one of the garden bungalows. Read More »

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Sam Waterston Joins Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Pilot

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 2:49pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Law & Order veteran Sam Waterston has booked his first post-L&O series regular role: a supporting part in the Aaron Sorkin’s drama pilot for HBO tentatively titled More As This Story Develops. The project centers on cable news anchor Will McCallister (Jeff Daniels), who has his own show, as well as the show’s female executive producer and staff. Emily Mortimer is yet to close her deal for the female lead of the executive producer, MacKenzie. Waterston will play Charles Skinner, the president of the cable news division and Will’s immediate superior who hired MacKenzie behind Will’s back. In addition to Daniels, Waterston joins recently cast Olivia Munn and Alison Pill.

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Olivia Munn & Alison Pill Close Their Deals For Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Pilot

By | Wednesday May 18, 2011 @ 2:54pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Olivia Munn and Alison Pill have now completed their negotiations for supporting roles in Aaron Sorkin’s drama pilot for HBO tentatively titled More As This Story Develops. The project centers on cable news anchor Will McCallister (Jeff Daniels), who has his own show, as well as the show’s female executive producer and staff. Pill will play Maggie, an associate producer on the assignment desk. Munn, repped by CAA and Mosaic, will play a sexy financial analyst on the same cable network as McCallister. Emily Mortimer is still in negotiations for the female lead of the executive producer, MacKenzie. Munn, who recently starred on NBC’s midseason comedy Perfect Couples, was courted for several broadcast pilots this pilot season but opted not do any. She continues to be a correspondent on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Tony nominee Pill, repped by WME and Joannie Burstein, co-starred on the second season of HBO’s In Treatment

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A 14-Year ‘Gambit’ Finally Provides a Big Payoff For Producer Mike Lobell

Mike Fleming

Production begins today on Gambit, a caper comedy that stars Colin Firth as a London art curator who plans to con England’s richest man into buying a phony Monet painting. To do it, he enlists a Texas steer roper (Cameron Diaz) to pose as a woman whose grandfather liberated the painting at the end of WWII. Michael Hoffman is directing, Alan Rickman and Tom Courtenay also star, and it’s Firth’s first big job since winning the Best Actor Oscar for The King’s Speech. And the script was written by Oscar winners Joel and Ethan Coen. Isn’t Hollywood great, the way these things just magically come together?

Gambit actually took a remarkable 14 years to get to this point, a case study on how impossible it is for producers to succeed without infinite patience and an inability to comprehend the word “no.” These Don Quixote types are the only ones in the moviemaking equation who don’t cash big paychecks through the development process, collecting serious fees only when their movies get made. They have a harder road than ever, because cost-cutting studios have made first-look producer deals an endangered species. After all, producers are bringing them projects anyway. In the case of Gambit, the driving force has been producer Mike Lobell. A seasoned vet who has gotten 14 pictures made — The Freshman, Honeymoon in Vegas and Striptease among them — Lobell … Read More »

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Emily Mortimer In Negotiations To Star In Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Pilot

By | Monday May 2, 2011 @ 2:16pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Emily Mortimer is in negotiations for the female lead in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO pilot. Tentatively titled More As This Story Develops, the project centers on cable news anchor Will McCallister (Jeff Daniels), who has his own show, as well as the show’s female executive producer, MacKenzie (Mortimer), for whom producing the news is what she does best and everything else is tied for last place. Mortimer landed the role after a series of reading. In addition to Daniels, Mortimer will also join Olivia Munn and Alison Pill, who are finalizing their deals for the project. Greg Mottola is directing the pilot, which is being executive produced by Sorkin, Scott Rudin and Alan Poul. Mortimer, repped by ICM, Independent Talent Group and Brillstein, will next be seen in Martin Scorsese’s 3D film Hugo Cabret and voices the female lead in Cars 2. She also co-starred in the hot Sundance entry Our Idiot Brother, which was picked up by The Weinstein Co.

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Olivia Munn & Alison Pill In Negotiations For Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Pilot, Marisa Tomei Closes In On Female Lead

By | Monday April 25, 2011 @ 6:20pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

The female portion of the cast of Aaron Sorkin’s HBO pilot is taking shape. Olivia Munn and Alison Pill are in negotiations for supporting roles in the project, while I hear Marisa Tomei is inching closer to committing to play the female lead. Tentatively titled More As This Story Develops, the project centers on cable news anchor Will McCallister (Jeff Daniels), who has his own show, as well as the show’s female executive producer and staff. Tomei, repped by CAA and Untitled, is poised to play the executive producer, MacKenzie, for whom producing the news is what she does best and everything else is tied for last place. Pill will play Maggie, an associate producer on the assignment desk. Munn, repped by CAA and Mosaic, will play a sexy financial analyst on the same cable network as McCallister.

Oscar winner Tomei has been one of several actresses considered for MacKenzie and the most heavily pursued by the producers. Said to be a big fan of Sorkin’s, she met with him earlier last week and again on Saturday when he attended her off-Broadway play Marie and Bruce. (Among the other contenders for the role, Emily Mortimer had emerged as a frontrunner.) Munn, who stars on NBC’s midseason comedy Perfect Couples, was courted for several broadcast pilots this pilot season but opted not … Read More »

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Alan Poul Inks Overall Deal With HBO, Joins Aaron Sorkin’s Cable News Pilot As EP

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Six Feet Under alum Alan Poul is back at HBO with an overall deal. As part of it, the producer-director is set to executive produce Aaron Sorkin’s HBO pilot. Tentatively titled More As This Story Develops, the project centers on cable news anchor Will McCallister (Jeff Daniels), who has his own show, as well as the show’s female executive producer and staff. Poul will executive produce the pilot with Sorkin and Scott Rudin and is set to direct multiple episodes if it goes to series. (The pilot is being directed by Greg Mottola.) Since signing with WME six months ago, Poul has booked two pilot-directing gigs. He helmed TNT’s Perception, the only one from TNT’s recent batch of completed pilots to receive a series order. Poul also just finished directing ABC’s dramedy Good Christian Bitches. In addition to his stint on Alan Ball’s Six Feet Under, on which he served as co-executive producer/executive producer and director for the entire five-season run, Poul directed the pilot for CBS’ Swingtown and served as an exec producer on the series.

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HBO CASTINGS: Jeff Daniels Closes For Sorkin Pilot, Five Join Returning Series

By | Friday April 1, 2011 @ 5:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Jeff Daniels has closed his deal to play the male lead in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama pilot set behind the scenes at a cable news show. The project, which recent Oscar winner Sorkin is executive producing with Scott Rudin, centers on news anchor Will McCallister (Daniels), who has his own cable show, a female executive producer and staff. Greg Mottola is directing. Daniels is with ICM.

David Rasche (Ugly Betty) has joined the cast of HBO’s comedy series Bored to Death as a recurring. He will play Bernard Morse, a West Coast rival for George Christopher (Ted Danson). Morse is a health nut with an affinity for Scottish Terriers, and he made his fortune in Silicon Valley with Philip K. Dick-like innovations. Rasche, repped by Innovative and Liebman Entertainment, also recently booked the role of Agent X in Men in Black 3D, which originally was planned for Alec Baldwin.

Read More »

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Greg Mottola To Direct Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Pilot

By | Monday March 28, 2011 @ 5:29pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Greg Mottola is set to direct Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama pilot set behind the scenes at a cable news show. The project, which recent Oscar winner Sorkin is executive producing with Scott Rudin, centers on news anchor Will McCallister, a role Jeff Daniels has been in negotiations to play, who has his own cable show; his female executive producer; and his staff. After making his feature directing debut with the 1996 indie The Daytrippers, which he also wrote, Mottola ventured into TV directing, working on such cult faves as Undeclared, Arrested Development and The Comeback. Mottola then switched back to features with the boxoffice hit Superbad and went on to direct Adventureland and, most recently, Paul.

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Jeff Daniels In Negotiations For Aaron Sorkin’s HBO Pilot

By | Monday March 21, 2011 @ 12:04pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Jeff Daniels is in negotiations for the male lead in Aaron Sorkin’s HBO drama pilot set behind the scenes of a cable news show. The project, which recent Oscar winner Sorkin is executive producing with Scott Rudin, centers on news anchor Will McCallister (Daniels) who has his own cable show, his female executive producer and his staff. Will is described as a famous cable newsman of the Anderson Cooper/Brian Williams mold who is smart and talented guy but just a pain in the ass to work with and for. In his research for the show, Sorkin spent time  at Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews’ MSNBC shows as well as at Fox News Channel and CNN programs. ICM-repped Daniels, a Tony nominee in 2009 for Gods of Carnage, recently co-created with Tomothy Busfield Happily Ever After, a series project for Showtime, which Daniels wrote and was attached to star in.

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