Chernin Entertainment and Gary Sanchez Productions’ Match Maker is based on Don Van Matta Jr’s ESPN The Magazine article “The Match Maker: Bobby Riggs, The Mafia And The Battle Of The Sexes,” centering on the 1973 exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs that drew 50 million TV viewers. King, then 29 and at the height of her powers, beat Riggs, the a 55-year-old retired pro — though there’s always been speculation there’s more to the story. Will Ferrell is now attached to play Riggs, and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty scribe Steven Conrad has been hired to write the script. Variety had this break first.
Craig Viveiros will helm Queen & Country for Chernin Entertainment at Fox. The project, which will star Ellen Page, is based on the Oni Press comic book series Queen & Country written by Greg Rucka. Page will play a British agent who goes on the run from her own people as she tries to bring down a terrorist on English soil.
Viveiros made shorts and commercials, including the award winner Back To Back. Viveiros then produced, wrote and directed his debut feature film, Ghosted, which starred Art Malik, John Lynch and Martin Compston. He then moved to Haiti to work as a volunteer at the country’s film institute and returned to England to make The Liability with Tim Roth, Peter Mullan and Jack O’Connell.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has set Matt Wheeler to adapt Tin Men, the futuristic military actioner that the studio bought last February in the form of a manuscript by Christopher Golden. Chernin Entertainment and Pete Donaldson are attached to produce. The book will be published next spring. Sarah Schechter is supervising for Warner Bros.
On the small screen, Wheeler recently sold to CBS TV Studios Salvation, a high-concept drama executive produced by Hawaii Five-0 exec producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Peter Lenkov. He also scripted Butchers Boy for Sony. His script Snatchback is currently out to cast with Ross Katz directing, Atlas producing and Voltage financing. He is repped by Management 360 and Verve.
EXCLUSIVE: Another hot Swedish novel is headed for an U.S. screen adaptation. 20th Century Fox TV has acquired rights to the upcoming thriller De Redan Döda by author Robert Karjel, for studio-based Chernin Entertainment to develop as a drama series with Sweden-based Yellow Bird Entertainment. Titled The Swede, the project centers on a Swedish secret service agent summoned to a remote U.S. military base to interrogate a prisoner thought to be a fellow Swede. He is drawn into the complex investigation led by a female CIA agent, where the evidence takes them from the 2004 Thailand tsunami to a terrorist attack in Topeka, Kansas, and where no one is who they seem to be. De Redan Döda follows in the footsteps of the Millennium trilogy by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, which became the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo movie franchise and Leif G.W. Persson’s Backstrom books, which have been in series development at 20th TV for the past two seasons, most recently going to pilot at CBS starring Rainn Wilson last spring.
Fox Gives 13-Episode Series Order To Ancient Egypt Drama ‘Hieroglyph’ From Travis Beacham & Chernin Entertainment
A day after 6-year-old pilot Babylon Fields came back to life with a pilot order at NBC, another old drama project is making a comeback. During the 2011-12 development season, Travis Beacham‘s fantastical action-adventure spec Hieroglyph narrowly missed the cut for a pilot order at Fox. Two years later, it did one better — landing a straight-to-series 13-episode order.
Produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment, Hieroglyph, which is eyed for next season, is set in ancient Egypt, where fantasy and reality intertwined. It follows a notorious thief who is plucked from prison to serve the Pharoah, navigating palace intrigue, seductive concubines, criminal underbellies and even a few divine sorcerers. Executive producing the project are Beacham, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and Miguel Sapochnik (Fringe), who will direct the premiere episode. Filming is scheduled to begin in early 2014. “We wanted to do a show about deceit, sex, intrigue in the court and fantastical goings-on — no better place to set that than ancient Egypt,” said Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly. “Travis Beacham has an inventive mind, and he has wrapped this all together in this intoxicating new drama.”
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment have set best-selling author Dennis Lehane to script Silk Road, a fact-based tale taken from an article that Joshua Davis is writing for the Epic website, which is devoted to film-friendly longform journalism. It’s the true story of a young kid who was arrested for putting out a hit on the clients of the Silk Road, the illegal online bazaar he created where one could buy illegal goods including drugs or services like contract killings. Lehane wrote Shutter Island, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone and Live By Night, which is Ben Affleck’s next directing effort at Warner Bros. Lehane also scripted Animal Rescue, the Chernin-produced Michael R. Roskam-directed drama for Fox Searchlight that stars Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and James Gandolfini.
Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping will produce along with Davis and Joshuah Bearman. Davis and Bearman are journalists who partnered in Epic, the company that formed a first-look Fox deal to produce films based on magazine articles hatched by them and other journalists. Bearman wrote the article that served as the jumping off point for Best Picture Oscar winner Argo.
There was a stampede for the movie rights to this story, and Chernin’s Kerry Foster was integral in making this happen. Amy Schiffman from Intellectual Property Group and attorney Jason Hendler of Hanson Jacobson brokered the deal for Lehane.
Fox has put in development two comedies from writing duos, one from Andy Mogel & Jarrad Paul, and one from Kevin Biggins & Travis Bowe. Both are produced by Chernin Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV, with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope executive producing. Mogel and Paul’s untitled comedy, which the two are writing/exec producing, centers on an over-confident optimist who, after being rejected by the girl of his dreams, buys her struggling company in an absurd attempt to get close to her. The UTA-repped duo is currently writing Devils Night for Sony with Gary Sanchez set to produce and Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly attached to star. They created Fox’s Allen Gregory and wrote the feature Yes Man.
Biggins and Bowe’s School Of Fish is a multi-cam that explores the life and times of crazy fishmongers who are the rock stars of the Pike Place Market in Seattle. According to the duo, “the idea originated from Travis’ upbringing in the Pacific Northwest and blue-collar jobs we have had in the past. Also, Kevin enjoys fish and both of our wives enjoy farmers markets.” Biggins and Bowe, repped by The Rothman Brecher Agency and Mosaic, are producers …
EXCLUSIVE: Hany Abu-Assad is in talks to direct The Mountain Between Us for Fox and Chernin Entertainment. Abu-Assad is best known for his 2005 provocative breakthrough film Paradise Now. The Charles Martin book is a harrowing tale of survival and a love story. Ashley is a writer catching a flight from Salt Lake City and heading East for her wedding. Ben is a doctor returning from a medical conference. When a their flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer, the strangers agree to charter a ride, only to see the pilot suffer a heart attack and crash into a desolate snowy mountain region. He breaks ribs and she suffers a leg fracture. Fortunately, aside from a doctor he’s an avid climber, and as he struggles to get her down from the mountain in harsh weather, she begins to realize that maybe she was headed to marry the wrong guy. The film will be produced by Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping for Chernin Entertainment. The project, originally adapted by J. Mills Goodloe, had Scott Frank come aboard and I hear they are trying to get that busy writer for the next pass. Abu-Assad is repped by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has been tapped to adapt Night Film, the Marisha Pessl noir novel for Chernin Entertainment and director Rupert Wyatt. Aguirre-Sacasa, one of the saviors who rescued the troubled stage musical Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, has been working in every medium. He ranges from Glee to scripting the remake of Carrie and The Town That Dreaded Sundown and a screen version of Archie for Warner Bros, to writing the book for the Broadway musical transfer of Magic Mike. In Night Film, a journalist investigates the suspected suicide of a young beauty, and discovers she is the daughter of a reclusive horror film helmer and that the girl was murdered and someone is bent on revenge.
Former Smash executive producer/ showrunner Joshua Safran has sold two hourlong projects, one to ABC with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage‘s Fake Empire and one to Fox with Peter Chernin’s Chernin Entertainment.
ABC’s Social Circle, co-produced by ABC Studios, is a high-concept thriller about a group of friends from college, now in their late 20s, who regroup and discover they really don’t know each other at all. The project reunites Gossip Girl alum Safran with the series’ co-creators/exec producers Schwartz and Savage with whom he also worked on the Fake Empire-produced Endless Love remake at Universal, now in production. “Joshua has a strong, sophisticated voice and a real feel for this world,” Savage said. For Fake Empire, Social Circle joins a comedy it just sold to ABC through the company’s ABC Studios deal.
Fox’s Royal, co-produced by 20th Century Fox TV, is described as a sexy and sophisticated soap about a Kate Middleton-type, caught having an affair, who is thrown out of the royal family and forced to take the only job she can get — as assistant and minder to the temperamental, suicidal, drug-and-sex-addicted up-and-coming designer Thomas King, also running from his own past. Safran is repped by UTA.
EXCLUSIVE: Ted Melfi, currently directing a cast of Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts and Chris O’Dowd in his directorial debut St. Vincent De Van Nuys for The Weinstein Company, is moving closer to his next picture. I’m told that Sony Pictures and Chernin Entertainment are nearing a rights deal for the J.R. Moehringer memoir The Tender Bar, with Melfi to write the script and direct. Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping will produce. Mark Bauch will be exec producer. Chernin Entertainment is producing St. Vincent De Van Nuys.
The bestselling memoir was published in 2005 and told the story of how as a youth, the author grew up without a father but surrounded him with unlikely surrogates: the patrons who haunted a pub in Manhasset, Long Island where his uncle tended bar. Moehringer broke into journalism as a copyboy at The New York Times and won a Pulitzer for feature writing at the L.A. Times.
The movie Melfi’s currently shooting melded personal episodes in Melfi’s life. Part of it came after Melfi’s brother died tragically five years ago at age 38, and Melfi and his wife adopted his 11-year old daughter. Told to write about someone in her life reminiscent of a saint, she chose Melfi and St. Will of Rochester, the patron saint of adopted children.
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has acquired CyberStorm, a self-published book by Matthew Mather that I’ve been told Chernin Entertainment will take on as producer. Described as a frighteningly realistic depiction of what would happen in the event of a global digital meltdown from an organized attack, the book follows a New York man and his family as they try and survive the crash isolated in Manhattan with millions of scared and confused people around him. The original e-book has caught on fast since it came out in March, and is now up there with the likes of the World War Z, Ender’s Game and Game Of Thrones e-books in Amazon sci-fi sales. It’s moving about 1500 copies a day. Mather, a cybersecurity expert and author who started out his career working at the McGill Center for Intelligent Machines, is now exploring a traditional print publishing deal after inking rights pacts for Turkey, Spain and Germany. The Fox deal was made by Sean Daily at Hotchkiss and Associates with Paul Lucas at Janklow & Nesbit Associates.
Fox finances Chernin Entertainment-released films and they are currently basking in the success of their most recent tie-up The Heat, the Melissa McCarthy-Sandra Bullock buddy comedy that opened June 28 to a cool $40 million. A sequel to that one is already in the works.
Forget the speculation that Peter Chernin has lost interest in teaming with AT&T to bid for Hulu ahead of the Friday deadline for final offers. He and the telco will be there, along with a group that’s expected to include DirecTV, Guggenheim Digital, investment firm KKR, Silver Lake Partners with WME, and Time Warner Cable — with Yahoo a question mark. Some people began to wonder about Chernin’s intentions Monday after Fox unveiled a deal to license shows to Netfllix. The arrangement meant that Hulu lost its access to full seasons of the Chernin Entertainment-produced sitcom New Girl. (It will only be able to offer a few episodes at a time.) Yet we’re told that he’s still eager to help AT&T. Company watchers say that the telco’s intrigued by the possibility of turning Hulu into the centerpiece of a new wireless video business that would ask studios to help pay for the costs to transmit video to mobile devices. It was a coup for the company to align with Chernin who’s popular in Hollywood and helped to develop Hulu back when he was No. 2 at News Corp.
After a year without an agency representation in television, Peter Chernin’s production company has landed at UTA. Chernin Entertainment was signed by UTA Managing Director Jay Sures and partner/head of the TV department Matt Rice who will represent it. Chernin Entertainment, which is behind Fox’s flagship comedy New Girl, is a very lucrative client, in part because of its very rich deal at 20th Century Fox TV. The pact, which has two more years on it, has big on-air commitments from Fox built into it as part of Chernin’s exit package from News Corp. Four-year-old Chernin Entertainment got off to a flying start in television and was previously repped by WME until the two sides parted ways last June. While there, Chernin had multiple shows on the air, most recently New Girl, Touch and Ben & Kate this past season. This year, the company has no new series picked up for next season but New Girl just landed the coveted post-Super Bowl slot. Chernin Entertainment’s TV division is run by Katherine Pope.
EXCLUSIVE: Chernin Entertainment and Fox are so convinced they have a hit in the Paul Feig-directed comedy The Heat with Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock that they moved the picture right into the heat of the July 4th holiday corridor. Now, Chernin Entertainment has closed a low-7-figure deal with that film’s writer, Katie Dippold, for another comedy that she will write as a directing vehicle for Feig. I’ve heard it described as a mother/daughter action comedy, but all parties are keeping the logline under wraps beyond that.
Dippold makes her feature debut as a screenwriter on The Heat, which stars McCarthy and Bullock as mismatched crime fighters in an unabashedly R-rated comedy. This new deal will be her second project. Where did she come from? Dippold was a writer and co-producer of the NBC sitcom Parks And Recreation, and before that she was a writer on MAD TV and other shows.
This is a neat fit for Fox, which finances Chernin-produced films, and also has a first look deal with Feig, the Bridesmaids helmer who’ll also produce this project.
Dippold is repped by WME and 3 Arts; Feig by CAA and attorney Warren Dern.
EXCLUSIVE: Chernin Entertainment and 20th Century Fox are in talks to make a feature based on the soccer match fixing rings that have proven to be a global scourge for the world’s most popular sport. The film will be based on All The World Is Staged, an article by Brett Forrest published by ESPN Magazine last August. Deal includes life rights of Chris Eaton, a former police officer who helped uncover a huge scandal as the top enforcement agent of soccer’s governing body FIFA. David Ready from Chernin brought the project in for the Company. Gersh is representing Forrest and the rights for his article, and Duncan Brantley who is writing the script..
Fox is a major player in the sport–Rupert Murdoch made Fox Soccer Channel the most prolific broadcaster in America of Premier League and other professional soccer games.
The central figure in the ESPN article is Wilson Raj Perumal, who was caught in Finland and charged with match fixing. A subsequent investigation found that the fixes are going on just about anywhere organized soccer is played. Referees, players, even coaches are bribed. Many of them make so little money that the supplemental income dwarfs their onfield wages. While Eaton’s efforts were stymied by the sport’s governing bodies, Perumal’s own sloppiness caused his demise. Unsatisfied betting on rigged games he brokered, Perumal began betting on …
Chernin Entertainment today upped Jenno Topping to President of films, less than two years after she was hired as EVP of the division. Topping is currently producing the Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy comedy The Heat with director Paul Feig and Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark. Before joining the company she was a producer at Columbia Pictures racking up credits including Country Strong, the Charlie’s Angels movies, 28 Days, and Can’t Hardly Wait. In a parallel move, David Ready has been hired as Senior VP, reporting to Topping. He comes to Chernin Entertainment after serving as SVP of Production for di Bonaventura Pictures, where he had been working as executive producer on Summit Entertainment’s Red 2 and co-producer on Paramount’s Jack Ryan.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has bought an untitled John Legend comedy project from 20th Century Fox TV, studio-based Chernin Entertainment and Legend’s production company Get Lifted. Written by Sons Of Tucson‘s co-creators Tommy Dewey & Greg Bratman, the single-camera comedy is based loosely on Legend’s upbringing. It is about a guy in his early 20s who becomes the guardian to his own siblings while having to manage his burgeoning career and social life. Get Lifted principals Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorious will executive produce with Katherine Pope and Peter Chernin. Dewey and Bratman will co-executive produce.
The project is outside the pod deal Get Lifted recently signed with Universal Cable Prods. Singer-songwriter Legend, a nine-time Grammy winner, has been focused on television for the past several months. In addition to the development pact at UCP, he hosted and executive produced a music special for Showtime and starred on the ABC summer reality series Duets. Dewey, Bratman, and Get Lifted are represented by CAA.
Fox has made a premium script deal for a character-driven cop-drama from Chernin Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV. Written by Chris Levinson (Touch), the untitled project centers on a major crimes detective who starts slowly losing his memory. Faced with the prospect of losing his career and family, the cop ends up putting his entire life under surveillance. What begins as an effort to restore missing pieces of his waking hours becomes a 24/7 window into a world where nothing is ever as it appears. WME-repped Levinson executive produces with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. The project stems from a two-script deal Levinson inked with Chernin Entertainment last year. She most recently served as a co-executive producer on the Chernin/20th TV drama series for Fox Touch. Her series credits also include Law & Order and Lone Star.