EXCLUSIVE: Tom Rothman’s TriStar Productions is closing a deal to finance and distribute Ricki And The Flash, a hot package that had several studios circling because it comes with Meryl Streep playing a hard rocking mama. Scripted by Juno‘s Diablo Cody, the film will be directed by Jonathan Demme, and produced by Marc Platt and Mason Novick. This comes on the heels of TriStar’s deal with Robert Zemeckis to direct the 3-D experiential film To Walk the Clouds about the French aerialist Phillipe Petit who crossed between the Twin Towers on a wire in 1974. The project is based on Petit’s memoirs To Reach The Clouds and is being produced by Zemeckis with his ImageMovers Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey and Rothman. Landing Ricki and The Flash is a coup for Rothman.
Streep will play a rock n’ roll-loving woman who chased her tattered dream at the price of her family, but gets a last chance to get it right by reconciling with her estranged daughter. This isn’t some development deal. Rothman has committed to make the picture and Streep is already preparing. Demme has directed documentaries with Neil Young, and there was an impromptu encounter with Demme and Streep where Young was present, and the iconic guitarist and singer gave her some pointers. She has already demonstrated her ability to sing on Mamma Mia! This is new territory for an actress who has done most everything; her character belts out hard rock at night and is a grocery store checkout lady by day. Shooting begins this fall.
In the latest effort mining its deep library catalog for feature film franchises, MGM said today that it is developing a new Pink Panther movie, a live-action/animated hybrid that will take its cues from the tone set by the original Friz Freleng and David De Patie cartoons in addition to that of Blake Edwards’ films. That means that the focus will be on the Pink Panther character itself more than Inspector Clouseau, who took over the spotlight for Edwards’ movies thanks to Peter Sellers’ creation of one of the most iconic comedy characters of all time. There have been 11 Pink Panther feature films (and countless cartoons and shorts) spanning five decades — like another MGM property James Bond one of the movie business’ longest-running feature franchises.
Walter Mirisch, exec producer of the original movies and TV series, has come aboard to produce the new pic along with Edwards’ widow Julie Andrews. The Simpsons Movie and Monsters Inc director David Silverman will direct. MGM’s SVP Production Cassidy Lange will oversee the film for the studio.
After 13 years apart, Erwin More and Brian Medavoy are reuniting to restart More/Medavoy Management. They currently rep two clients together — Neil McDonough (Mob City, Desperate Housewives) and Douglas Smith (Percy Jackson, Big Love, Ouji) — and others are expected to join Medavoy’s current management roster. Neither Medavoy nor More would say which clients were coming with them, but there are a number of actors and actresses that do not have managers at Paradigm. More leaves the agency business after 12 years and has gotten the blessing of Paradigm, where he has worked for the past five years. At one point he was head of the TV talent department where he worked with Sharon Stone, McDonough, Mariska Hargitay (now at CAA), Chris Vance, Jill Hennessy, Roseanne Barr, Chevy Chase and Dwight Yoakam and others. (Andrew Ruf continues to head the talent department at Paradigm).
Prior to Paradigm, More worked as co-head of the talent department at the former William Morris Agency. Medavoy left the business and lived in Whitefish, MT, for five years before coming back and building his own management company again. He currently represents such clients as Paula Patton, McDonough, Bella Heathcote, Kris Polaha, Reno Wilson, Michael Beach, Ben Koldyke and Eric Balfour. Manager (and former UTA agent) Matt Sherman joined with Medavoy last year. And Medavoy’s current producing partner, lit and talent manager Alan Nevins, will continue his association with More/Medavoy via Renaissance Literary and Talent. Nevins and Medavoy are already producing Gucci, a miniseries about Patricia Gucci, the daughter of fashion icon Aldo Gucci, which is in development at E! ”We’re putting the band back together,” laughed Medavoy, who said that their shared client McDonough helped paved the way for them to reunite after working on the actor’s projects together. “I have a 13-year relationship with Erwin and I know what we have done together in the past and what we can do together now. We’re not going to try to recreate More/Medavoy as it was because the business model now — with Amazon, Netflix and (other platforms) — there are a lot more opportunities out there (for their clients).”
TriStar Options Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s Memoir, Which Launches Company For Actors Ben McKenzie, Logan Marshall-Green
EXCLUSIVE: Actors Ben McKenzie and Logan Marshall-Green have joined forces to launch the shingle A Thing Or Two Productions. They come to the table in a big way. Tom Rothman’s TriStar Pictures has made a deal on a baseball memoir which the duo will produce with Michael De Luca. TriStar has optioned Wherever I Wind Up, the memoir by pitcher R.A. Dickey about his unusual life journey. Buzz Bissinger has been set to write the script. It becomes another eclectic project for Rothman’s upstart division.
McKenzie first starred on Fox’s The O.C. and now is playing the lead role of Detective Jim Gordon in the Bat-prequel series Gotham, while Marshall-Green played his brother on O.C. and has co-starred in Brooklyn’s Finest, Prometheus and As I Lay Dying. He just shot the pilot Quarry. They have been friends since doing theater together at Williamstown in 2001 and talked about partnering in a production company. It all crystallized when both sparked to Dickey’s memoir. Neither is looking to play the pitcher in the feature.
In a major shake-up at the top of the UK industry, respected veteran Film4 head Tessa Ross is leaving her post to become Chief Executive of the National Theatre. Ross, whose most recent official title is Controller of Channel 4 Film and Drama, has headed up Film4, the feature division of the network, for more than a decade. She is considered one of the most powerful executives in the UK business and so integral to it that she is sometimes referred to as the “Mother of British filmmaking.” Film4 is one of the biggest supporters of the UK industry and under Ross has developed and financed such Oscar winners as 12 Years A Slave, Slumdog Millionaire and The Last King Of Scotland.
Commenting on her departure, Channel 4 CEO David Abraham said, “Tessa’s job is one of the most coveted in film, both in the UK and internationally, and while she leaves big shoes to fill, we will shortly begin the task of identifying a new leader for the next chapter of Film4’s story. Meanwhile our commitment to investing in independent British film remains undimmed and we have every intention of building on the extraordinary reputation Tessa has created.” A peek at Film4′s credits is a who’s who of independent filmmaking talent. The upcoming slate includes Richard Ayoade’s The Double, Yann Demange’s ‘71, Daniel Wolfe’s Catch Me Daddy, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner, Lenny Abrahamson’s Frank, Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette, and Todd Haynes’ Carol starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. The company’s previous credits have included Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant, Bart Layton’s The Imposter, Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, Chris Morris’ Four Lions, Leigh’s Another Year, Ayoade’s Submarine, Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur, McQueen’s Hunger and Shame, and Meryl Streep-starrer The Iron Lady; all under Ross.
She will remain at Film4 until September, and will stay on as Chair of the Growth Fund Advisory Council once in her new role. She will join the National in November, working alongside current artistic director Nicholas Hytner. She will formally become CEO, sharing the leadership of the National with Rufus Norris, when he becomes artistic director in April 2015.
The book opens on a morning in the small town of Coldwater, MI, when the phones start ringing and the voices say they are calling from heaven. While each call is greeted differently — some with love, some with religious zeal, some with fear — a grieving single father with an inquisitive and hopeful son takes it upon himself to uncover whether these callers are hoaxers, or they are really dialing long distance. Chantal Nong and Cate Adams will oversee for Warner Bros.
Albom, who came up a sports columnist for the Detroit Free Press, has also written bestsellers like Tuesdays With Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven, books with a wholesome spiritual tug to them. At a time when Paramount has been doing non-stop damage control as it opens the Biblical epic Noah this Friday trying to convince religious groups to come to the movie, and with several other Biblical epics in the offing, some studios see promise in uplifting books that ponder spiritual issues with less polarizing storytelling.
Fox 2000 Grabs John Green Novel ‘Paper Towns’, Reunites ‘Fault In Our Stars’ Team With Nat Wolff To Star
EXCLUSIVE: After completing its adaptation of the John Green novel The Fault In Our Stars, Fox 2000 has made a deal for the 2008 Green novel Paper Towns, and it is working on bringing bring back together not only the producers and the screenwriters for another go but also one of the stars. Paper Towns will be built around actor-singer Nat Wolff, who co-stars in The Fault In Our Stars and stars in the upcoming Palo Alto. Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber are going to adapt, and Temple Hill’s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen are producing. The scribes will be exec producers along with Green.
Fox will release the Josh Boone-directed The Fault In Our Stars on June 6, with Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort starring with Wolff. The scribe team wrote (500) Days Of Summer and The Spectacular Now, which Woodley also starred in. Fox 2000′s Elizabeth Gabler and Erin Siminoff are behind this, as they were The Fault In Our Stars.
Summit, Participant Media Acquire ‘The Burglary;’ The Story Of 8 Whistleblowers Who Stole Hoover’s FBI Secrets
EXCLUSIVE: Decades before Julian Assange and Edward Snowden became the scourge of U.S. intelligence organizations by leaking secret documents, an unheralded group of eight anti-war activists broke into an FBI branch office one night in Philadelphia and made off with a treasure trove of classified documents they fed to newspapers that bared the ruthlessness displayed by the FBI in spying on and blackmailing those it considered troublemakers. Summit Entertainment has teamed with Participant Media to acquire the rights to tell the story of those bandits, acquiring the Betty Medsger book The Burglary: The Discovery Of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI, which was published in January by Knopf, and an accompanying article by Mark Mazzetti published in The New York Times the same month.
They’ve set Scott Z. Burns to write the script and produce with Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar, with Todd Hoffman exec producing. Ashley Zalta is a co-producer. Burns’ script work includes The Bourne Ultimatum, the Steven Soderbergh-directed Contagion and Side Effects and Fox’s summer sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. The project was championed by Lionsgate’s Motion Picture Group President Erik Feig, who’ll oversee with Meredith Milton and Participant’s Jonathan King.
As expected, the British government has confirmed changes to its film tax incentives that were originally outlined in December. The UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, presented the 2014 budget to Parliament this afternoon and noted that the European Commission has approved the expansion of the tax break scheme. Beginning April 1, the minimum UK spend required to access the coveted film tax relief will drop from 25% to 10%. The tax break itself will be worth 25% on the first £20M ($33.2M) of qualifying production spend, and 20% thereafter. The rebates are available on the lower of either 80% of total core expenditure or the actual UK core expenditure, and there is no cap on the amount that can be claimed. (Osborne also said today that he would apply the film tax relief model to theater, giving a 20% break to qualifying productions and 25% to regional touring shows.)
The government has previously said it will seek to clear an increase to 25% for all qualifying expenditure on larger budget films in 2015. With the amount of Hollywood tentpoles being shot in the UK, it’s good news for producers, especially at a time when there is so much controversy in California over the tax credit bill. Legislation introduced in February to expand the California credit program includes eliminating the $75M budget cap on eligible productions which is engineered to bring big movies back to the state. In the meantime, the studios are camped out in Britain on both the film and TV fronts.
Third Installment Of ‘Ghostbusters’ A Go For Early 2015; Death Of Pal Harold Ramis Prompts Ivan Reitman To Turn Over Directing Reins
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures is eyeing an early 2015 production start in New York on its next installment of Ghostbusters. There is a major change, though. In the wake of the death of his close friend and original Ghostbuster Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman has decided he won’t direct the film, after all. Instead, Reitman will help Amy Pascal find a new director to take over what everyone hopes will reboot what the studio considers to be one of its most important franchises.
In all the years Sony has tried to get this film up and running, Reitman has been the most stable part of the equation, long locked to direct his third installment. This included the long campaign to get Bill Murray to reprise his signature role, when it became impossible to even get him to read a script that Sony, Reitman and their other architect Dan Aykroyd were happy with. It has been clear for a while that Murray wasn’t going to be part of this, and momentum has been building. Then Ramis, a catalyst for some of the biggest film comedies of the 1970s and ’80s, passed away. That has changed everything.
Reitman spoke exclusively with Deadline on his decision, and I’m going to give him ample room to explain why he changed his mind after so many years of being the primary person pushing this forward.
“There has been all kinds of stuff, unofficially written about Ghostbusters,” Reitman told me. “I’ve been reading things online for about four years, speculation on who’s writing, what they’re writing, who’s in it, who we will use, and who’s directing. We’d decided not to comment up till now, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, and it was never clear what Bill was going to do. A lot of things happened in the last few months, the most significant of which was the passing of Harold, who was a very good friend who was extraordinarily influential in my career. We did five movies together including both Ghostbusters.”
Reitman confirmed the Murray chase, one that encompassed not one but two scripts.
EXCLUSIVE: Macmillan Entertainment and Everest Entertainment Group are developing a feature film from The Wolfman, the 2008 novel written by Nicholas Pekearo and published by Tor Books. It’s about a lost soul who happens to be a werewolf who struggles with his affliction until he decides to focus on the bad guys who deserve it, including a serial killer preying on young girls. This development would be a dream come true by Pekearo, a crime and comic book buff who was just getting his footing as a novelist. He was also an auxiliary policeman for the NYPD who died seven years ago today after being shot six times by a crazed gunman who also killed Pekearo’s partner in Greenwich Village. That partner, 19-year-old Yevgeniy Marshalik, was the star of his high school debating team and a student at NYU. The murders created controversy and pointed up the ludicrousness of sending out auxiliary cops who are not allowed to carry weapons. Despite this, and the fact that unarmed auxiliary cops weren’t supposed to engage armed suspects, the duo chased down the gunman after he had already killed a bartender and was looking for other victims. The book was published posthumously in 2009.