Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson star in The Rover, the next pic from Animal Kingdom helmer David Michôd, about a loner (Pearce) living in the Australian outback 10 years after society has collapsed who hunts down the gang that stole his car with the help of the wounded man (Pattinson) they left behind. Michôd penned the script from a story he hatched with Joel Edgerton. Scoot McNairy also stars in the thriller which A24 will release, date TBA. Check out the first-look teaser:
Freelance journalist Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
There’s a record number of Aussie actors and directors toiling in Hollywood — and more on deck. One of the reasons: US and Oz agents are networking more closely than ever. Often, untried talent is being nabbed on tips from agents Down Under. After she appeared in the Australian TV soap Home and Away, UTA signed Abbie Cornish’s 17-year-old sister Isabelle on the recommendation of her Sydney rep, United Management’s Natasha Harrison. WME nabbed Ben O’Toole and UTA secured Ross Langley after each had graduated from Oz drama schools.
“There is definite heat on Australia right now because so many films recently have had a strong, distinctive voice,” UTA literary agent Bec Smith, an Aussie who moved to Los Angeles in 2007, tells Deadline. Those films include Animal Kingdom, Snowtown, Red Dog, Sleeping Beauty and Wish You Were Here, all from first-time filmmakers. Meanwhile, the Weinstein Company recently picked up Cannes feel-good pic, The Sapphires, from debut feature director Wayne Blair, who acted in Wish You Were Here. “There’s a constant flow of talent into the U.S. studio system and that’s helped by the fluidity between U.S. and Australian agents”, says Smith. “We work with them all and see them as our …
Joel Edgerton is to star in the Matthew Saville-directed Felony, a thriller that Edgerton also wrote and will produce. The Solution Entertainment Group arranged financing for the film and is handling international sales in Cannes with CAA repping the US. Shooting starts in late October on the story of a police officer who runs a young cyclist off the road. As he gives CPR to the child, fellow officers arrive to take his statement. In a split second decision he tells them a lie about the accident which will change all their lives. Goalpost Pictures Australia’s Rosemary Blight is also producing. Lisa Wilson and Myles Nestel of The Solution will executive produce. Roadshow Films will distribute in Australia and New Zealand. Edgerton, who broke out in gritty Oz hit Animal Kingdom, is currently shooting Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. Saville’s feature debut, Noise, ran in Sundance in 2007. Edgerton is repped by CAA, Shanahan Management and Hirsh Wallerstein Hayum Matlof and Fishman.
(RE-POSTED FROM FRIDAY): Back by popular demand: Deadline’s Pilot Buzz lists. We’re earlier than normal this year while pilots have generally been late, with only a handful of them having cuts by now and the vast majority still in various stages of production. Therefore, everything on this list has to be taken with a gigantic grain of salt as a lot could change between a table read and a final cut. Take NBC’s comedy pilot SAVE ME for example. After some mixed and even negative chatter early on, mostly related to the tone of the show, originally developed for Showtime, the tide changed completely over the last two days when people saw the completed pilot, which is getting high marks. The list also doesn’t cover every pilot as some of them have not gotten into production yet or feedback has been insufficient:
The network already has one new scripted series on tap for next season, HANNIBAL, which I hear may go for midseason. With the network in such bad shape after years of neglect and bad decisions by previous regimes, NBC seems to have cast a very wide net this season, developing a vast range of projects that are all over the map, making it harder to handicap. On the drama side, mystery MIDNIGHT SUN and the Jekyll & Hyde-esque DO NO HARM are getting some solid early buzz. The Jason Katims/Jason Ritter medical drama COUNTY, which just wrapped, also has been getting positive feedback. Western-esque THE FRONTIER, which is shooting in Australia, is getting notices for its rich look. Comedy-wise, ANIMAL KINGDOM is hot, as is White House family comedy 1600 PENN, despite a last-minute recasting, as well as the Matthew Perry starrer GO ON and Greg Daniels’ FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER. The network also is high on a couple of multi-camera comedies, the untitled KARI LIZER and JIMMY FALLON projects, with TABLE FOR THREE also looking encouraging so far. The Ryan Murphy/Ali Adler blended family comedy THE NEW NORMAL is still shooting but, with the auspices involved, it is considered a strong contender. NBC brass seem to like the SARAH SILVERMAN pilot, which had an early order, but Silverman is considered acquired taste, so a lot will depend on testing.
The KEVIN WILLIAMSON project was very strong at the script stage, got even stronger with the casting of Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy, and seems to be sailing through production. Meanwhile the untitled KARYN USHER teen-spy drama, which also was an early standout during the script phase, then hit a speed bump in casting the lead, which took a very long time, now appears to be in great shape, with newcomer Saxon Sharbino getting strong reviews. The Williamson and Karyn projects seem to be the top drama contenders at the moment,
P.J. Byrne (Horrible Bosses) is the first actor cast opposite Martin Lawrence in Lawrence’s CBS comedy pilot. The project, written by Mike Lisbe and Nate Reger and produced by CBS TV Studios, stars Lawrence as a widowed father of two teenagers who, after losing his job in construction, decides to go to the police academy and become a cop at the age of 46. Byrne, repped by Greene & Assoc., will play Kip, the Captain’s self-important busy body who likes to involve himself in everything that happens at the station house and relishes making the lives of his fellow officers difficult. Byrne will next be seen in the Warner Brothers feature The Campaign.
Erich Bergen (Jersey Boys) and Brooklyn Sudano have been added to the cast of CW’s pilot Joey Dakota, about Maya (Amber Stevens), a documentary filmmaker and her time-traveling romance with the subject of her film, Joey Dakota (Craig Horner), a rock star who met an untimely death in the 1990s. Bergen, repped by Buchwald/Fortitude and Lori Danziger, will play the regular role of Paul. Sudano, repped APA and Greenlight Management, will play the guest-starring/recurring role of Holly.
Kym Whitley has booked guest-starring roles in two NBC’s pilots, prison drama Bad Girls and vet hospital comedy Animal Kingdom. On the latter, she had a series regular option if the pilot gets picked up. Whitley is with Untitled and Innovative.
EXCLUSIVE: Tyler Labine is set to co-star opposite Justin Kirk in NBC’s single-camera comedy pilot Animal Kingdom. Also cast in the office comedy is actor-comedian Bobby Lee (Harold & Kumar). Animal Kingdom, from Universal TV and American Work, centers on a House-like veterinarian, Dr. George Coleman (Kirk), who loves animals but usually hates their owners. Labine will play Dr. Doug Jackson, George’s fellow veterinarian and friend who is trying to get over a breakup. Lee will play Dr. Kim, another vet who loves gambling and partying. Brian Gatewood and Alex Tanaka wrote the script and are executive producing with Anthony and Joe Russo, who are directing, Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan. Labine, whose series credits include Reaper, Sons Of Tucson and Mad Love, was recently seen in Rise Of The Planet of The Apes. He is with CAA and manager Tyman Stewart. MadTV alum Lee, repped by CAA, will next be seen in Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator.
Weeds‘ Justin Kirk is set as the lead of NBC’s single-camera comedy pilot Animal Kingdom. The office comedy centers on a House-like veterinarian (Kirk) who loves animals but usually hates their owners. Brian Gatewood and Alex Tanaka wrote the script and are executive producing with Anthony and Joe Russo, who are directing, Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan for Universal TV and American Work. The pilot is not expected to interfere with Kirk’s duties as a regular on the upcoming eighth season of Weeds, likely the long-running series’ last. Negotiations are still under way for him to return to the Showtime series. (The cast of the series’ contracts expired after Season 7). Kirk’s Weeds co-star Kevin Nealon, who recently booked another NBC comedy pilot, Isabel, has closed his deal for one more season of the Showtime comedy series and will do both. Kirk, who was among the sought-after actors this pilot season with multiple offers, also has recurred on ABC’s Modern Family. The actor, repped by UTA and Management 360, co-stars in the movie Goats, which premiered at Sundance.
EXCLUSIVE: Phillip Noyce, who helmed the pilot for ABC’s hot freshman series Revenge, is back on pilot directing duty at the network with another primetime soap. Noyce is set to direct and executive produce the Michael Seitzman-written Americana. The gig falls under Noyce’s first-look deal with ABC and ABC Studios inked last summer. Americana, from ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co., is a soap set around a legendary fashion designer and his family and business. Noyce, repped by UTA and manager Ross Fineman, will executive produce with Seitzman, Mark Gordon and Nicholas Pepper.
Anthony and Joe Russo will direct and executive produce the NBC single-camera comedy pilot Animal Kingdom. The office comedy centers on a House-like veterinarian who loves animals but usually hates their owners. Brian Gatewood and Alex Tanaka wrote the script and are executive producing with the Russos, Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan for Universal TV and American Work. The Russo brothers will direct the pilot as part of the two-year exclusive development deal they signed with Universal TV last summer. Anthony and Joe Russo, repped by WME and 3 Arts, won an Emmy for directing the pilot for Fox’s Arrested Development. The two went on to direct the pilots and executive produce NBC’s Community and ABC’s Happy Endings.
EXCLUSIVE: A drama series adaptation of the 2010 Australian feature Animal Kingdom has landed at Showtime, with John Wells executive producing and Jonathan Lisco writing/executive producing. The project, now in development, is a crime drama exploring the tense battle between a criminal family and the police, and the ordinary lives caught in the middle. John Wells Prods and Warner Bros TV are producing, with Lisco, Wells and Andrew Stearn executive producing alongside the movie’s writer-director David Michôd and producer Liz Watts. Animal Kingdom expands Wells’ relationship with Showtime, where he executive produces drama series Shameless, also an adaptation of a foreign property — the British series of the same name — and also produced by John Wells Prods and WBTV. K-Ville creator Lisco, repped by UTA, has an existing relationship with Wells and WBTV; he is an executive producer on their TNT cop drama Southland.
The 2010 movie was inspired by Melbourne’s infamous Pettingill crime family headed by matriarch Kath Pettingill. Jacki Weaver, who played a fictionalized version of Pettingill, earned a best supporting actress Oscar nomination for her role. Animal Kingdom premiered in the U.S. at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival where it won the World Cinema Jury Prize. Here is a trailer for those who haven’t seen it:
EXCLUSIVE: NBC is China-bound. The network has bought a cop drama project set in Shanghai from writers Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff. The project is about a pair of fugitive recovery agents working in China’s (and the world’s) largest city, population 23 million. It stems from a blind script deal Voris and Reiff had at NBC and will be produced by Universal TV. Voris and Reiff had been thinking about doing a cop show set in China for a while, and separately new NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke had been looking to do a show set in the Asian country for some time, originally as top development executive at 20th TV. UPDATED: Voris and Reiff have an extensive background and knowledge of China working on Chinese-themed projects, including co-writing the story for DreamWorks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda, which was set in old China. The new project reunites UTA-repped Voris and Reiff with NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt. The two co-created and executive produced the Showtime drama Sleeper Cell, which ran for two seasons while Greenblatt was at the helm of the pay cable network.
Disney’s newly announced Avatar theme-park attraction is ”a perfect example of something that could be a needle mover” for the company’s parks operation, CFO Jay Rasulo said today at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia Conference. The arrangement with Fox and director James Cameron is “a standard licening deal” that doesn’t provide them with a percentage of ticket sales — but does share revenue from merchandise. Rasulo adds that the initiative likely won’t ”stick out llike a sore thumb” in Disney’s costs: ”We just won’t do something else we were going to do” at Animal Kingdom. After next year ”there will be a significant decline in the capital we invest in our parks,” bringing Disney “relatively closer to our historic level of spending.” That’s important to analysts who fear that construction and investment costs will hurt profit margins. “We look forward to the day when people say ‘you’re back’ and don’t ask that question anymore.”
The agency now represents three nominees in the Best Supporting Actress category – Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom, Melissa Leo for The Fighter, and Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit, not to mention nominations for Jesse Eisenberg and director Tom Hooper. Yesterday, Weaver signed with Alex Cole from Elevate Entertainment for management.
Australian actress Jacki Weaver, a supporting actress Oscar nominee for Animal Kingdom, has landed U.S. representation, signing with Alex Cole from Elevate Entertainment for management. Weaver, a seasoned theater, film and TV actress in her native Australia, has won three Australian Film Institute awards and a National Board of Review award for her role in Animal Kingdom.
And we’re off… I received emails and calls from a couple of recently inducted Academy Award voters who reported that the first two screeners of the season arrived in their mailboxes Wednesday from Sony Pictures Classics. The studio beat the competition by sending out the Australian crime thriller Animal Kingdom and the multi-story drama Mother And Child to all of the nearly 6,000 members. It’s a repeat of a familiar strategy employed by SPC in the past when they were first out in 2008 with Frozen River and in 2005 with Junebug. These small earlier-in-the-year releases clearly benefitted from separating themselves from the glut of November/December arrivals – and in the case of Frozen River landed Best Actress (Melissa Leo) and Best Original Screenplay nominations while the little-heralded Junebug pulled off a supporting actress nod for Amy Adams.
With Animal Kingdom trying to stay alive at the box office since its August 13th release, SPC co-presidents Michael Barker and Tom Bernard recently told me they plan to aggressively go after a supporting actress nomination for the acclaimed performance of Jacki Weaver, whose dynamic turn in the film would probably be a slam dunk if it could generate any Oscar heat. It’s exactly the kind of gritty character role that actors love to reward. The early screener gambit is a way to start.
As for Rodrigo Garcia’s heartfelt SPC film Mother And Child, which seemed to open and close rather quickly …