EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise has committed to star for Universal Pictures in Oblivion, the science fiction film that will be directed by Joseph Kosinski, who last helmed Tron: Legacy. Production will begin in October. Cruise had been loosely attached to the Radical Publishing graphic novel adaptation when Disney let it go and Universal committed to finance and distribute the $100 million film, which came with a William Monahan script that was being rewritten by Karl Gajdusek. Kosinski hatched the idea for the project and set it to be published by Barry Levine’s graphic novel imprint as a calling card for a movie when Kosinski was busy for so long directing Tron: Legacy, which topped out at $400 million worldwide gross.
Disney acquired the graphic novel in a heated auction last summer, and Universal was one of the studios that also chased it. It takes place in an apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface that has been rendered uninhabitable. Cruise will play a soldier who’s stuck alone on the planet, repairing the drones that patrol and destroy a savage alien life form. He encounters a beautiful woman who crashes in a craft, and their experience together forces him to question his world view. Disney allowed Kosinski to shop it because it didn’t fit its family-film mold and attempts to rein it in to a PG rating was creatively strangling the project. It will be PG-13.
EXCLUSIVE: So let’s update the Alec Baldwin vs Rock Of Ages small drama. Yes, the actor showed up in Miami for the full run-through of Adam Shankman’s big-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway 1980s-flavored rock musical. Yes, he’s going to do the movie, which starts shooting May 23rd. So that celebrity gossip report that Alec Baldwin had pulled out of the production was bogus. What actually happened was that New Line boss Toby Emmerich was told by Baldwin he had a newly discovered medical condition that was expected to resolve so he could do the movie. But then later in the day Baldwin formally asked New Line to replace him “if at all possible,” even though the actor had committed to the movie. Emmerich pondered. But Toby’s boss, Warner Bros movie chief Jeff Robinov, decided to hold Baldwin’s feet to the fire and demand he do the film. Robinov knew it would be impossible on short notice to properly recast the meaty role of the owner of the Sunset Boulevard Whisky-A-Go-Go-like Bourbon Room owner, Dennis Dupree, which has a big musical number in the film. (Stars like Will Ferrell and Steve Carell passed before Baldwin agreed to do it.) And Robinov acted like a mogul and refused to put the entire production on hold affecting other cast members Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Bryan Cranston, Mary J. Blige and Malin Akerman.
Is Alec Baldwin in or out of New Line’s Rock of Ages? We might have a better idea today after Baldwin takes part in a full run-through of the ’80s-flavored rock musical being held in an hour or so on the Miami set where the picture will be shot. Except for Catherine Zeta-Jones (who’s shooting the Gerard Butler starrer Playing The Field that FilmDistrict acquired this morning), Baldwin will take part with the entire cast of Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Mary J. Blige, Paul Giamatti, Malin Akerman, Bryan Cranston, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough. They’ll be trying out costumes and belting out 80s tunes as they prepare for a May 23 production start. Director Adam Shankman will be hoping that by the end of today, Baldwin will have a change of heart, which was prompted by personal reasons.
The move follows a legal wrangle that took weeks to unravel about negotiating his exit from Disney, some money owing to Sony, and a new pact with New Line to host his production banner that took weeks to unravel. Adam Shankman’s Offspring Entertainment with producer Jennifer Gibgot has a first-look deal at New Line, where he did Hairspray and 17 Again. The banner was housed at Walt Disney Studios for eight years. Meanwhile, New Line says Alec Baldwin has not pulled out of Rock Of Ages. The studio says he has a personal issue that is expected to resolve so he can do the movie, which begins shooting May 23.
EXCLUSIVE: The final piece of the casting puzzle is in place for Rock Of Ages, the Adam Shankman-directed adaptation of the Broadway musical for New Line Cinema. Malin Akerman is set to play the role of Constance, a journalist who intends to write an expose on decadent rocker Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). After a seduction, and after they sing a duet on the Foreigner song I Want To Know What Love Is, they find out in a naughty bedroom romp. This has been a hot role. Shankman at first courted Anne Hathaway, who couldn’t do it because she landed the Catwoman role in The Dark Knight Rises. Then, he courted Amy Adams, but Shankman again lost out to a superhero when she landed Lois Lane in Man of Steel. Akerman joins Bryan Cranston, who plays the mayor of Los Angeles, his prudish wife that Catherine Zeta-Jones will play, Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough. Not a bad cast for a Chris D’Arienzo musical that started as a small off-Broadway show before moving to Broadway and now the big screen. Akerman is currently shooting Medallion opposite Nic Cage and will next be seen starring with Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston in the Universal Pictures comedy Wanderlust, as well as Bang Bang Club. She’s repped by WME and Sanders Armstrong Caserta.
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment has set Scott Speer to direct the fourth installment of the Step Up franchise. Like the last one, Step Up 4 will be done in 3D. The new film will be set in the backdrop of Miami. Speer is replacing Wade Robson, who dropped out for personal reasons that would have kept him from making the planned summer start date. The script’s being written by Jenny Mayer and produced by Offspring Entertainment’s Jennifer Gibgot and Adam Shankman, along with Summit’s Patrick Wachsberger and Erik Feig. Jon Chu, who directed the last two Step Up installments, will be exec producer. Speer is a music video/commercials director who has helmed vids for Jordin Sparks, Will.I.Am, Jason Derulo and Orianthi Lacey, and he also collaborated with Chu on the TV episodes The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers. He’s repped by WME and Principato Young.
Breaking Bad‘s Bryan Cranston will play the mayor in Rock of Ages, the Adam Shankman-directed adaptation of the Broadway musical. He’s the husband of an Anita Bryant-like advocate who wants to ban rock and roll. That role’s played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and both were created specifically for the movie. He joins a cast that includes Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Diego Boneta and Julianne Hough.
Catherine Zeta-Jones has been set to play a new role that has been created especially for the movie version of the Adam Shankman-directed Rock of Ages for New Line. She’ll play the wife of the mayor of Los Angeles, a conservative character out to do away with rock and roll. “There are so many plotlines in the piece, we thought it would be fun to create a villain, and a cultural discussion point,” Shankman told Deadline. “She’s the moral majority person, kind of like if Tipper Gore and Anita Bryant had a love child in that era. To have a great actress who won an actress in this genre with Chicago is wonderful.” Prudishness aside, Zeta-Jones gets to take part in the 80s rock anthems. She will sing Pat Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It. Shankman will finish casting shortly. He needs the journalist who beds down with Tom Cruise’s decadent rocker Stacee Jaxx (Amy Adams couldn’t do it because of Man of Steel) and now he needs an actor to play the mayor.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has emerged as the front-runner to finance and distribute Oblivion, the Joseph Kosinski-directed sci-fi project that has Tom Cruise in early talks to star. The studio has entered into exclusive negotiations for a deal that would carry progress to production language, with a goal to begin shooting in October. The deal hinges on Kosinski’s ability to bring in the film at around the $100 million mark. Cruise doesn’t have a deal at this point, but they are talking. Deadline told you last week that Universal was among three studios chasing the film. The film was scripted by William Monahan, with Karl Gajdusek currently rewriting.
Oblivion recently shook loose from Disney, where Kosinski made his feature directorial debut on Tron: Legacy. That film just hit the $400 million worldwide gross mark for Disney, and the studio has a Tron sequel and other projects with Kosinski. But the studio let the filmmaker shop it because the post-apocalyptic Oblivion premise didn’t fit the studio’s family film mandate. Attempts to bring it in as a PG film was creatively strangling the project. It will be made as PG-13.
The project is based on a Radical Publishing graphic novel that came from an idea by Kosinski, and was published by Barry Levine’s imprint while Kosinski was preoccupied with Tron. The graphic novel was always viewed as a blueprint for a feature film, and Disney acquired in a heated auction last summer. Universal was among the studios chasing it last summer, along with Paramount and Fox and Chernin Entertainment. Oblivion is a futuristic science fiction love story that takes place in an apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface that has been rendered for the most part uninhabitable. An earthbound soldier — stuck there repairing drones that patrol and blast a savage alien life form — encounters a beautiful woman who crashed in a craft, and they have an experience that forces him to question his world view. There are really only a handful of characters in the last-man-on-earth storyline, and so the feeling is that Cruise is a strong match.
EXCLUSIVE: Alec Baldwin has committed to star in Woody Allen’s next film. And where will the quintessential New York actor and Gotham’s arguably most famous director be filming? Try Rome. Allen has chosen that city as the site of his next comedy as he continues sampling countries around the globe after shooting most of his films exclusively in New York. Allen has said that shooting in NYC is just too expensive, but I’d argue that the change of scenery has creatively revived him in recent outings.
Baldwin will work with Allen for the first time since the 1990 comedy Alice. Allen has just begun putting this film together, and word is that The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg is also in line for a lead. Penelope Cruz was previously announced. Baldwin will first star in Rock Of Ages, the Adam Shankman-directed New Line musical that also stars Diego Gonzalez Boneta, Julianne Hough, Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige and Russell Brand. Amy Adams is being courted to play a journalist who falls into a bedroom romp with the rock star Stacee Jaxx (Cruise). After he finishes the two projects, Baldwin returns for what could be his final season of the NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Could Jack Donaghy really be leaving after Baldwin’s contract ends and the show is still so good? Baldwin told me as much when we did the Playboy Interview awhile back. I argued that his sitcom momentum would …
He’ll play Drew Boley, a 22-year old who moves to Los Angeles with dreams of making it in the music industry. He works as a bus boy in the rock club The Bourbon Room. Word that he was director Adam Shankman’s choice circulated last week, but New Line just approved him today.
He stars alongside Julianne Hough, with a supporting cast that includes Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand. Amy Adams is being courted to play a journalist who falls into a bedroom romp with the rock star Stacee Jaxx (Cruise). Boley, a Latin American singing star, gets to belt out the Foreigner song Waiting For A Girl Like You, the Twisted Sister anthem I Wanna Rock, and he duets with Hough on the Journey hit Don’t Stop Believin.’ He was submitted by Gersh. Hundreds tested for the role.
“On top of his completely un-self conscious charm, he’s a movie star the same was as I felt when I auditioned Zac Efron, Channing Tatum and Liam Hemsworth,” Shankman told Deadline. “It comes down to being able to identity the ‘it’ factor, and Jen and I have been lucky enough to do it several times. He has it and is every inch a movie star.” Shankman was talking about his sister Jennifer Gibgot, his Offspring Entertainment …
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Adam Shankman is heavily courting Oscar-nominated The Fighter star Amy Adams to join Rock of Ages, playing the journalist who falls into a bedroom romp with Tom Cruise’s decadent rock star character, Stacee Jax. This is the role that Shankman offered to Anne Hathaway, but her schedule playing Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises got in the way. Adams was given a new draft of the script by Shankman. She would play an uptight journalist who intends to eviscerate Stacee Jax with an expose. A seduction ensues instead, and after they duet to the Foreigner song I Want To Know What Love Is, nature takes its course.
It might be an interesting opportunity for Adams to belt out 80s tune-age as she continues her quest to star in a biopic of iconic 60s singer Janis Joplin. Adams also sings in the upcoming Disney film The Muppets. For what started as a small off-Broadway stage musical, Rock of Ages has turned into a happening film to be part of, and one that Warner Bros just set for a June 1, 2012 summer release. Shankman and New Line have locked Cruise (who also belts out Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead Or Alive), Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand in key roles, and Julianne Hough in the young female lead. He has been testing male leads, with an open call set in Burbank on Saturday. We should …
EXCLUSIVE: Now that Tom Cruise has closed his deal to co-star in Rock of Ages, I’m hearing that the next big star New Line and director Adam Shankman want is Oscarcast co-host Anne Hathaway. They’re in talks with Hathaway to play the role of the uptight journalist who intends to eviscerate Cruise’s decadent rock star Stacee Jax with an expose. Instead, she falls for the charms of the rocker, and after they duet to the Foreigner song I Want To Know What Love Is, they engage in a wild, passionate bedroom romp. That gives Cruise two 80s staples to sing, as he also belts out the Bon Jovi tune Wanted Dead Or Alive. Of course, Deadline has told you several times that Cruise was going to do the film. The most recent was the January 20th revelation that Russell Brand was in line to play Lonnie, who runs the ’80s rock club The Bourbon for owner Dennis (the role Alec Baldwin will play), with the two of them singing a duet of REO Speedwagon’s Can’t Fight This Feeling. Hathaway’s shown she has the vocal chops, so that’s not a problem. She can only take the role, though, if she is able to mesh schedules with The Dark Knight Rises. She recently landed the coveted role of Selena Kyle/Catwoman and the films will be shooting around the same time.
EXCLUSIVE: Russell Brand is the latest actor looking to lend his voice to Rock of Ages, the Adam Shankman-directed screen adaptation of the stage musical at New Line. I’m told that Brand is circling the role of Lonnie, who runs the ’80s rock club The Bourbon for owner Dennis (the role that Alec Baldwin is circling). Brand and Baldwin get to sing a rousing version of the REO Speedwagon tune Can’t Fight This Feeling. Brand previously worked with Shankman in Bedtime Stories. and Warner Bros is high on him after he filmed the title role in the Arthur remake. Brand convincingly played bad boy rocker Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek. The film is heating up with the expectation that Tom Cruise will close a deal to play the decadent rock star Stacee Jax shortly. After that, all of the pieces will fall into place quickly for a May production start. Script by the musical’s book writer, Chris D’Arienzo, has gotten a rewrite by Little Miss Sunshine’s Michael Arndt. The big number for Cruise, by the way, is Wanted Dead Or Alive. We’ve all mangled that Bon Jovi song in the car or in the shower, but I’m told that Cruise can handle it.
I’m hearing that Tom Cruise is getting serious about Rock of Ages, the Adam Shankman-directed New Line musical based on the Broadway stage hit. He’s not the star; this would be a supporting character departure like Cruise has played in Tropic Thunder and Magnolia. Here he’d be the decadent veteran rock star, Stacee Jax, which sounds fun. Cruise first came up as a possible participant in the film in October. He became attached in December to At the Mountains of Madness, which Guillermo del Toro and James Cameron are prepping at Universal. The two films could fill his 2011 dance card.