Billy Crystal‘s Broadway hit 700 Sundays will be taped before a live audience January 3 and 4 at the Imperial Theatre In New York and will debut on HBO later in 2014. An autobiographical journey, 700 Sundays is an original two-act play in which Crystal plays numerous characters who have influenced who he is today, dealing with his youth, growing up in the jazz world of Manhattan, his teenage years and, finally, adulthood. 700 Sundays broke the house record for highest weekly gross at the Broadhurst Theatre in its opening week, and continued to top its own record in subsequent weeks. It won the 2005 Tony Award for Special Theatrical Event, as well as 2005 Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle awards. 700 Sundays will be Crystal’s sixth HBO solo special, following On Location, A Comics Line, Don’t Get Me Started, The Lost Minutes and Midnight Train To Moscow. 700 Sundays will be executive produced by Billy Crystal, Janice Crystal, Larry Magid and David Steinberg; directed by Des McAnuff.
The hot cable comedy project, which has Billy Crystal attached to star, co-write and executive produce, Burn Notice creator Matt Nix co-writing/executive producing and Curb Your Enthusiasm and Borat‘s Larry Charles directing/co-writing and executive producing, has been picked up by FX with a pilot order. Titled The Comedians, the single-camera comedy, which was taken out earlier this month, is produced by Fox TV Studios, marking the first FX pilot to not come out of the in-house FX Prods.
In The Comedians, Crystal plays a superstar veteran comedian who is reluctantly paired with a younger, edgier comedian for a late-night comedy sketch show. It is based on the 2004 Swedish series Ulveson And Herngren, starring comedians Felix Herngren and Johan Ulveson as they put together a sketch program. Charles is set to direct the pilot, which is said to be in the documentary style he perfected on another cable comedy starring a veteran stand-up comedian, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm. Charles, Nix and Crystal are co-writing with comedy writer-producer Ben Wexler, who previously worked with Nix on Nix’s Fox dramedy The Good Guys. The four executive produce with Nix’s manager, producer Mikkel Bondesen and Henrik Bastin, both of Fabrik Entertainment (formerly Fuse), which, like Nix, is under a deal at FtvS. Carl Molinder and John Nordling of Stockholm-based Efti AB, which is behind the original series, also executive produce. Fabrik’s Kristen Campo co-exec produces.
EXCLUSIVE: Mike Lobell, the veteran producer whose 14-years of persistence helped make the remake Gambit happen, is getting close on three other projects with strong elements. He has re-teamed with former partner, writer-director Andrew Bergman, on A Film By Alan Stuart Eisner, an ensemble comedy which so far has Project X‘s Oliver Cooper, Shirley MacLaine and Robin Williams attached, with Rob Reiner making a cameo. Lobell reports that the film has added Sienna Miller, Isla Fisher and Audra MacDonald. Eisner is a comedy dealing with a young man making a documentary to learn what happened to his family during WWII. He is out looking for financing.
Gambit, by the way, ended up with Michael Hoffman directing a script by Joel and Ethan Coen. Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman star and CBS Films is releasing.
At the same time, Lobell is getting traction on This Man This Woman, the adult love story written by Frederic Raphael. The project has gotten a boost with the attachment of Richard Gere, who long ago sparked to a film which focuses on the trials and tribulations of a marriage. This was the picture that once nearly went into production with Meg Ryan and Sean Penn. Lobell and Gere will now look for a director and their female lead.
EXCLUSIVE: Winter’s Discontent is the 2008 Black List script by Paul Fruchbom which Sony acquired for Atlas Entertainment a few years back. The well-liked project, which taps into the current zeitgeist of adult comedies, is moving forward with Billy Crystal attached to star as a widower who moves into a reputed, active mature community in an attempt to reinvigorate his sex life. Frank Oz, director of such pics as In & Out and Death At A Funeral, has come aboard to helm. Sony Pictures will distribute domestically and has taken rights in select foreign territories. Atlas is producing and Sierra Pictures is financing. Sierra/Affinity starts foreign sales in Cannes. Charles Roven and Alex Gartner are producing. Exec producers are Nick Meyer, Marc Schaberg, Kelly McCormick and Jake Kurily. Crystal recently starred in Parental Guidance and is next up in Monsters University from Pixar. He’s repped by CAA and managed by David Steinberg and Larry Brezner. Oz is repped by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: A hot comedy project is expected to hit the cable marketplace next week. I hear the untitled comedy has Billy Crystal attached to star, co-write and executive produce, Burn Notice creator Matt Nix co-writing/executive producing and Curb Your Enthusiasm and Borat‘s Larry Charles directing/co-writing and executive producing. Fox TV Studios, where Nix is under an overall deal, is producing. Details about the premise are sketchy but I hear the project is based on an European format and is described as an edgy comedy. Charles and Crystal are co-writing with comedy writer-producer Ben Wexler, who previously worked with Nix on Nix’s Fox dramedy The Good Guys. The four executive produce with Nix’s manager, producer Mikkel Bondesen and Henrik Bastin, both of Fabrik Entertainment (formerly Fuse), which also is under a deal at FtvS. Fabrik’s Kristen Campo co-exec produces. Bondesen and Fabrik have experience adapting European formats for the U.S., most notably with the AMC drama The Killing, which is coming back for Season 3 next month. USA’s Burn Notice will kick off its seventh season also in June.
On his show last night, Jimmy Fallon re-created a comedy classic with a new take on Abbott and Costello’s Who’s On First? routine where we finally get to meet the team’s first baseman Who, second baseman What, and third baseman I Don’t Know. (you can watch the original skit below the new one.) Joining Fallon onstage are Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld (as well as Fallon announcer Steve Higgins as Costello and Fallon head writer A.D. Miles as What.)
Christmas with Bette Midler and Billy Crystal. 20th Century Fox and Walden Media have released the first trailer for Parental Guidance, which has Midler and Crystal looking after a trio of grandchildren. Directed by Andy Fickman from a story by Crystal and screenplay by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse, it …
The theatrical release schedule for this year continues to shuffle, with Fox moving Billy Crystal’s Parental Guidance from Thanksgiving weekend to Christmas day. The move gives the Andy Fickman-directed family comedy into a more favorable slot …
Not sure how many Broadway fans will get the hockey reference, but Neil Patrick Harris has made it a hat trick and agreed to host the upcoming Tony Awards for the third time in four years. NPH is good at it, and it is nice that Broadway has stability on the hosting front. I’m already wondering what will happen late this year when AMPAS starts looking around again for an Oscar host. Billy Crystal certainly stopped the bleeding by stepping in after Eddie Murphy dropped out along with producer Brett Ratner, but Crystal’s usual schtick felt dated to me.
Oscars host Billy Crystal, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, Tom Hanks and many others will join Jimmy Kimmel Live: After The Academy Awards live on ABC from the El Capitan Theatre on Sunday February 26th. Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron, Don Cheadle and Cold Play will also be on hand for the …
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has produced its trailer for the 84th Academy Awards with Funny Or Die. Featuring host Billy Crystal and Robin Williams, Josh Duhamel, Megan Fox, William Fichtner and Vinnie Jones, the trailer debuts in more than 2,000 theaters tomorrow.
Ricky Gervais is returning to host the Golden Globes for a threepeat on January 15th. True, the Oscars brought back Billy Crystal. But today’s news is more of a surprise because Gervais eviscerated most of the movie and TV stars …
EARLIER: Well, that …
Among his many accomplishments, Gil Cates obviously will be known as the person who produced more Oscar shows than any one in the history of the Academy. Talk to any producer who has done it just once or twice and you will get this astonished look when you tell them Gil Cates did it 14 times in the last two decades. And with his always calm and cool manner, he made it look so easy. Perhaps that is why every producer doing the show in Gil’s off years always sought out his advice — and he always happily gave it as he told me when I interviewed him exactly one year ago about his memories on being the man behind so many Oscarcasts. “I’ve had lunch with each producer and producing team going back to my off years,” he told me. “The one thing I’ve told everybody is the Oscars is such a big show that no matter what you do there are gonna be people who like it and people who don’t. The most important thing is to do a show you like. There’s no way to get out totally alive. Do a show they find unique and fun and special. That’s a victory.”
Gil Cates had a lot of victories in his long career. As a former president of the DGA, its current secretary/treasurer and its chief negotiator for the last four contracts; as founder of the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television; founder and artistic director of the Geffen Playhouse; as director and producer of such multiple-Oscar-nominated films as Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams and I Never Sang For My Father; as well as so many TV films that made a lasting mark on the medium. There’s so much more, but my own personal connection (aside from attending the great theater he oversaw at the Geffen) has always been with the Oscars, and on those occasions when I got to talk to him or interview him I was like a kid in a candy store listening to his stories (sorry, some I just can’t print — off the record). His last show aired in 2008, the year No Country For Old Men won Best Picture. But this was also the year of the writers strike that KO’d the Golden Globes and put a dark cloud over the Oscars until just 12 days before the show was to air, when it was settled. But Cates, with his usual calm of a master negotiator and problem solver, had a Plan A (with all the stars in a strike-free show) and a Plan B (with no stars but a heavy emphasis on history and clips) ready to go, essentially prepping two different shows simultaneously, depending on events out of his control. It’s a good thing he was in charge because a lesser or more inexperienced producer might have cracked under the pressure. Not Gil. In the end, he produced a classy, star-studded show as usual but was ready to deliver whatever cards were dealt.