EXCLUSIVE: Haifaa Al Mansour made history with Wadjda, the first feature by a Saudi Arabian woman and the first to be shot entirely within the Kingdom. For her second feature, the director is in negotiations to helm …
‘Last Vegas’ Producer Amy Baer Starts Gidden To Incubate Pics; Ernest Shackleton Tale ‘Endurance’ Among Them
EXCLUSIVE: Last Vegas producer Amy Baer has launched Gidden Media, and the former CBS Films head and senior Sony Pictures executive gets off the ground with a batch of projects and a 7-figure development fund raised through a consortium of private investors. Baer will do what she does best, which is to invest the time nurturing material through the development process and then shop the results for feature films and longform television. Baer got her first taste of producing when she exited CBS Films two years ago to join Laurence Mark and Joe Drake on Last Vegas, the Jon Turteltaub-directed comedy that crossed the $33 million mark in its second weekend, with Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline starring for CBS Films.
Baer gets underway with several promising projects at Gidden, including some that she developed during her long stint at Sony. After starting her career working for late CAA agent Jay Moloney, Baer moved to TriStar in 1992 and worked her way up until she left to form CBS Films as president/CEO in 2007. Baer said she never forgot the unmade projects she shepherded all those years. Like a cop who won’t give up on a cold case, she approached her former Sony colleagues, who are letting her run with several stuck projects with great scripts. One is Endurance, the survival story of polar explorer Ernest Shackleton, who rescued his entire crew in 1916 after his ship got trapped in ice for over a year while attempting to cross Antarctica. I wrote about this film numerous times over the years, but it never made it to the start line at Sony as a feature. Baer is going to get made as a limited series by Sony Pictures Television. Wolfgang Petersen, who has been trying to make this movie for over a decade, is producing and directing a script by Steve Zaillian. Viking’s Alan Gasmer will also produce.
UPDATE: Les Moonves has just released a statement on the exit of Amy Baer from CBS Films: “We thank Amy for her important role in building CBS Films. Going forward, we remain fully committed to the division’s focus on a targeted slate of smart acquisitions and quality homegrown productions in all genres. CBS Films is small in the overall size and scope of our company, but continues to fit nicely with the Corporation’s premium content strategy. We’re excited about its future and to start its next chapter.”
EXCLUSIVE, 2:57 PM: Amy Baer will transition out of the post of president and CEO of CBS Films, ending her four-year tenure at the start-up production/distribution company in late October. Baer will immediately join Laurence Mark as producer of the Jon Turteltaub-directed Last Vegas, CBS Films’ Dan Fogelman-scripted comedy that revolves around four best friends in their late 60s who decide to escape retirement and throw a Las Vegas bachelor party for the only one of them who stayed single.
In Book Deals: New Regency Taps Swedish Crime Series ‘Three Seconds’, Struggling CBS Films Makes Stephen King’s ‘Stand’
The book-to-movie business is kicking back into gear. Hoping for another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, New Regency has just acquired Three Seconds, part of a bestselling Swedish crime novel series by Anders Roslund & Borge Hellstrom. Shine will produce and they will set a writer quickly. In Three Seconds, an ex-con who works undercover for the Stockholm police is charged with breaking the Polish mob’s stranglehold on amphetamine dealing in Sweden prisons. The ex-con gets himself arrested so he can infiltrate the mob in a maximum security prison. Beyond the fact his wife is unaware he’s working undercover, the operative’s challenge is to crack the ring and get out before he’s exposed. The book is the fifth novel in the series, was named Sweden’s top crime novel of 2009. The author team is intriguing, considering one’s a former journalist, the other an ex-criminal.The book was published by Silver Oak. Shine’s Sue Swift brought the book to Regency’s Michelle Kroes to get the deal started and Dan Wilson will oversee for Regency.
In other deals, a film option deal was made for Cutting For Stone, the Abraham Verghese novel optioned by Anonymous Content for its production company.
And Warner Bros and CBS Films will try to turn Stephen King’s celebrated novel The Stand into a feature. Given the spectacularly restrictive budgets that have forced CBS Films to rely on forgettable films like The Back-Up Plan and Extraordinary Measures, it seems likely Warner Bros will have to put up the dough for this to get off the ground. Even then, King’s apocalyptic epic will be very difficult to compress into a feature film, which is why it previously was turned into a 1994 TV miniseries. Each time I write about CBS Films, the question lingers: why did Les Moonves bother to form a feature division in the first place and hire away a capable exec like Amy Baer from Sony only to hobble her by not taking any big swings? Baer has a franchise percolating in Vince Flynn’s Consent to Kill, which focuses on ruthless government operative Mitch Rapp. It’s a Jack Ryan waiting to happen, but though CBS Films last year had discussions with Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell and Lost‘s Matthew Fox for the Rapp role, it still hasn’t happened. A lot has to do with the need to secure a partner. Hey, Les? In the movie business, it’s no guts, no glory. Deadline has heard that a “reconfiguring” is coming to the still struggling movie unit. CBS Films will make more acquisitions to fill the pipeline.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films and Sony Pictures are teaming to acquire It Takes A Village, a comedy pitch that Keenen Ivory Wayans will write and direct about a 30-something white single career-obsessed woman who decides on a whim to adopt a child from …