Oscar-winning Silence Of The Lambs helmer Jonathan Demme has been tapped to direct and executive produce AMC’s drama pilot Line Of Sight. The project, from Brotherhood creator Blake Masters, marks AMC’s first foray into the sci-fi genre. Co-produced by Fox TV Studios and AMC Studios, Line Of Sight tells the story of Lewis Bernt, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator who survives a mysterious plane crash, bringing him on an emotionally disorienting quest to discover the accident’s cause. WME-repped Demme also directed the pilot for the CBS drama series A Gifted Man, on which he served as executive producer.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Tonight’s event honoring AMC’s Mad Men at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences headquarters in North Hollywood – organized by AMC and designed to generate some Emmy season heat for a drama perceived to be past its awards prime – was perhaps most noteworthy for who wasn’t in attendance rather than who was. First, the list of those castmates who couldn’t make it: Jon Hamm (shooting a movie in India), Alison Brie (shooting a film in Toronto), Vincent Kartheiser (rehearsing a play in Minnesota), Christina Hendricks (shooting a movie in Detroit), John Slattery (prepping a film in New York), Aaron Staton (shooting a film “out of town”) and Rich Sommer (featured in a play in New York). While they still have air travel in every area where the seven no-shows were stationed, it’s perhaps understandable that they wouldn’t rush back to stump for more Emmy attention.
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s conference coverage.
The Walking Dead exec producer Gale Anne Hurd admitted this afternoon that one of the hazards of her job is receiving death threats from the rabid fan base of smash hit AMC zombie drama when it dares to kill off a character. “That’s one of the dirty little secrets of social media,” she admitted during a session at the Produced By conference on the Fox lot. “The fans so identify with the characters that if you kill them off… well, first they’re in denial. It’s really the stages of grief. They say, ‘That gunshot off camera, they aren’t really dead, they’re coming back.’ And then they get angry. They threaten to hunt you down. They don’t understand the difference between reality and fantasy.”
For the most part, however, the experience of being the highest-rated drama in cable history is a far more rewarding and less dangerous experience, Hurd and her fellow panelists agreed. She was joined at the event by Walking Dead exec producer David Alpert; Sharon Tal Yguado, EVP of global scripted programming and original development for Fox International Channels; and Marci Wiseman, SVP of business affairs for AMC. They discussed the how the show originally and famously was rejected at the pilot stage by NBC. Alpert recalled how when the comic book rights were sold to NBC in 2005, the network told him, “We want to do something totally different.” He remembered, “When they passed, I said, ‘But I thought you wanted to do something totally different.’ They said, ‘We do. We just don’t want to do a zombie show.’ That was one of the more frustrating things.”
EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Prods has signed a two-year, first-look deal with AMC to develop and produce scripted cable projects for the network. The pact, Scott Free’s first such first-look agreement with a cable network, stems from the production company’s collaboration with AMC on The Terror, a drama series project based on the 2007 best-selling novel by Dan Simmons, which was taken in for development by AMC in February. The Terror is joined by two other Scott Free drama projects developed under the first-look deal. One is an untitled futuristic, dystopian, sci-fi saga from executive producer and writer Jason Cahill (Fringe) and producer and Emmy-winning prosthetic makeup artist and The Walking Dead co-executive producer Greg Nicotero, who also has a deal at AMC. The other, Raiders, from executive producer and writer Evan Wright (Generation Kill), was among the finalists at this year’s AMC pilot script showcase held this month. It is a WWII drama about a rogue U.S. Navy commander who leads an unconventional warfare unit into the heart of Africa on a mission that will bend the arc of history. This marks AMC’s second first-look deal with a production company. The first one, announced in February, also is with producers who have strong feature pedigrees, Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg and their Double Feature Films.
AMC Confirms ‘Talking Bad’ After Show; Sets ‘Breaking Bad’ Return Date; Renews ‘Talking Dead’ & ‘Comic Book Men’; Unveils Development Slate, Rolin Jones Overall Deal
AMC is making a slew of announcements at its upfront today. The cable network confirmed it will launch Talking Bad, a live companion after show to the final installment of Breaking Bad. It announced premiere dates for several new and returning series, including the last eight episodes of Breaking Bad, which will kick off August 11, a slew of scripted and unscripted projects in development, including Ballistic City and Ashland, an overall deal with writer Rolin Jones, and renewals of after show Talking Dead and reality series Comic Book Men and Freakshow. Here are the details:
AMC will air a special weekly, half-hour live after show to accompany the conclusion of its Emmy Award-winning series, Breaking Bad. Talking Bad will analyze and dissect every detail of Breaking Bad’s final eight episodes beginning Sunday, August 11. Talking Bad will air at 11 PM, and will be produced by Michael Davies’ Embassy Row with Sony Pictures Television serving as the studio partner.
AMC has put in development Ballistic City, a futuristic drama directed and executive produced by Oblivion helmer Joseph Kosinski and written/executive produced by Travis Beacham, co-writer of another upcoming tentpole sci-fi movie, Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim. Ballistic City is expected to be among the projects in development announced at AMC’s upfront event in New York today, along with Ashland, from writers Allison Anders and Terry Graham.
Ballistic City is described as “Blade Runner meets Battlestar Galactica” and tells the story of a former cop thrust into the criminal underworld of a city housed in a generational space ship destined for an unknown world. I hear the project is eyed as a potential companion to AMC’s genre blockbuster The Walking Dead. Kosinski, who previously directed Tron: Legacy, and Beacham, who also co-wrote Clash Of The Titans, executive produce with Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin, Bard Dorros and Michael Sugar. Following a strong international start with a $61 million haul last weekend, Tom Cruise-starrer Oblivion opens this Friday. Pacific Rim is being released in July. Kosinski is repped by Verve and Hirsch Wallerstein; Neacham is with WME, Anonymous Content and Hansen, Jacobson.
UPDATE: ‘Iron Man 3′ Tickets Not On Sale Yet By Some Theater Chains Because Of Dispute With Disney: Movie Due May 3rd
4:30 PM UPDATE: My sources say Carmike and Disney have come to terms.
7:30 AM UPDATE: My sources say Regal, Carmike, and as I previously reported AMC are among those big movie chains holding out.
BREAKING… 6 AM EXCLUSIVE: CinemaCon underway now in Las Vegas gives the impression that the Hollywood studios are buddy-buddy with the movie exhibitors. But there’s a frenemies drama unfolding there. I’ve learned that a number of movie theater circuits are refusing to put tickets on sale for Iron Man 3 even though its one of this summer’s most anticipated hits when it opens May 3rd. That’s because Disney decided to leverage the film in order to renegotiate the studio’s future terms with the chains beginning with this humongous Marvel blockbuster. I’m told that AMC, one of America’s largest exhibitors, is among those holding out even though the Robert Downey Jr movie opens wide in North America in just 17 days. Some chains were selling advance tickets — and then stopped. Distributors tell me Disney hasn’t negotiated its terms with the movie chains in several years — not even for Summer 2012′s huge tentpole The Avengers — so the studio thinks it’s due for a new overall deal on future Disney titles. Those include not just Marvel sequels but also Lucasfilm’s new Star Wars series as well as Pixar toons. That’s why the studio right now in Las Vegas is bargaining with the exhibition community, some of whose chains are pushing back. The result is an impasse with a number of circuits refusing to put IM3 tickets on sale until there is an accord.
AMC will make Saturdays a third night of original programming with Hell On Wheels. The third season of the period Western will premiere on Saturday, August 3 at 9 PM and air on the night, once a popular destination for TV originals, which has rarely housed original series in the past decade. Meanwhile, AMC has established Saturdays as a destination for Westerns, airing acquired series and movies in the genre for over a decade. Along with the scheduling of Hell On Wheels, the cable network has picked up a selection of classic Western films from Paramount Pictures for Saturdays, including El Dorado (1967), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), The Shootist (1976) and The Sons Of Katie Elder (1965). “A new episode of Hell On Wheels on Saturday night after a full day of western fan favorites is going to be like the saddle on top of the horse,” said Charlie Collier, President and General Manager, AMC. “This is a programmer’s dream – to have a genre specific, 14-hour lead-in to one of your highest rated originals. The move follows AMC’s recent expansion into Thursdays with an all-unscripted lineup. Sunday remains AMC’s signature night of original programming where its other scripted dramas air.
As AMC‘s Breaking Bad is heading into its final eight-episode run this summer, the network and series producer Sony TV are exploring keeping the franchise alive with a spinoff series centered on one of Breaking Bad‘s most recognizable supporting characters, Bob Odenkirk‘s unflappable criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. There are no deals in place yet as the project is in its nascent stages, but I hear it is being conceived by Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and series writer-producer Peter Gould, who created the Saul character together for a Season 2 episode written by Gould. In the episode, titled “Better Call Saul“, Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) hire the flamboyant Goodman after Badger (Matt L. Jones) is caught by the DEA. Goodman, who has been a regular presence on the show since, is a sleazy but highly competent criminal lawyer with a penchant for over-the-top TV commercials in which he uses his signature tagline “Better Call Saul!” Saul has served as Breaking Bad‘s comic relief, which is not surprising given Odenkirk’s strong comedy background. As a result, I hear the potential spinoff is eyed as a comedy, which could be one-hour, but a half-hour format also is being explored.
UPDATE: In response to questions about the status of The Walking Dead‘s Melissa McBride, who was not among the four promoted to regular, the actress confirmed on Twitter that she is already a regular on the show. So that is that.…
AMC has given a pilot order to Geek Out (working title), an unscripted project featuring superfans of films, comic books, authors, actors, athletes, musicians, video games, and TV series. Geek Out will be hosted by author/screenwriter/fanboy aficionado Ernest Cline. Search is underway for a co-host. Cline will also serve as executive producer with Thinkfactory Media’s Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoys), Adam Freeman, Adam Reed, and Farah Films’ Dan Farah, producer on the upcoming remake of fanboy cult classic The Crow. In Geek Out, Cline and his co-host will travel the country and give obsessed fans the surprise of a lifetime with a special experience related to their obsession. “Conceptually, Geek Out is right in AMC’s wheelhouse of appealing to the fanboy community and ultimately creating an indelible moment in one lucky person’s life,” said Joel Stillerman, AMC’s EVP Original Programming. This is an area AMC is mining with one of its first unscripted series, Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men. Added Cline, “Geek Out celebrates a different facet of fanboy and fan-girl culture, as we ‘geek out’ at the kind of epic level that usually only occurs at Comic Con.”