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.
EXCLUSIVE: Kerry Foster has joined Chernin Entertainment as an executive. She will work on the film side of the production company and report to Executive Vice President Jenno Topping. All eyes are on the top slot at Chernin Entertainment, which was vacated recently by Dylan Clark when he veered into producing. I’m told it’s unclear what will happen to that post, but I’ve heard Chernin hopes to lure a big name to steer his feature division.
Foster has spent the past seven years as President of Production of Akiva Goldsmith’s Weed Road. Prior to Weed Road, Foster spent four years at Pandemonium Films as Vice President of Production. She started at Bingham Ray’s October Films. She has most recently been engaged in the Akiva Goldsman-directed Winter’s Tale as well as the Peter Berg-directed Lone Survivor, Fair Game, The Losers and Dark Tower. Chernin is in the middle of Parental Guidance, Oblivion and The Heat.
EXCLUSIVE: Dylan Clark, who three years ago transitioned from an exec veep post at Universal Pictures to become president of the film division of Chernin Entertainment, is in the process of transitioning out of that post to produce films for Peter Chernin’s shingle.
Clark has been in the center of Chernin’s big film productions, including Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and the upcoming sequel, and most recently Oblivion, the Joseph Kosinski-directed science fiction film that Tom Cruise stars in and which has been shooting in Baton Rouge. I’m told that his exit strategy is a work in progress, and that Clark, who wanted to focus on producing, will be likely producing numerous Chernin films going forward. Those pictures might include the untitled Paul Feig-directed comedy with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, and the Rise Of The Apes sequel. Chernin will likely bring in another executive to run development before Clark’s contract expires in the fall.
EXCLUSIVE: After two years at WME, Peter Chernin’s production company has left the agency, which represented its TV division. WME represented former NBC executive Katherine Pope in her deal to become Chernin Entertainment’s president of television and took in the production company as a TV client in April 2010. For its three years of existence, Chernin Entertainment has been prolific, helped by big production commitments built into Chernin’s exit package from News Corp. The company has three series on the fall schedule – New Girl, Touch and new comedy Ben & Kate, all on Fox. A representative for Chernin Entertainment confirmed that the company and WME have parted ways. “We wish them well,” the rep said.
EXCLUSIVE: Chernin Entertainment dipped into its discretionary fund to spend mid six figures to option an untitled female buddy cop action comedy written by Katie Dippold, the writer and producer on Parks And Recreation. Dippold most recently sold an untitled comedy for Chernin about babies that break out of daycare. Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark and Jenno Topping were in the middle of this and the writer was repped by WME and 3 Arts.
LOS ANGELES, March 9th, 2012 – Josh McLaughlin is joining Focus Features as senior vice president, production at the worldwide film company. Focus president of production Jeb Brody made the announcement today. Mr. McLaughlin begins work this month. Reporting to Mr. Brody, he will be based in Focus’ West Coast offices and will work with the global Focus production team in New York, London, and Los Angeles.
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment are negotiating with Gerardo Naranjo to direct The Mountain Between Us, an adaptation of the Charles Martin novel. Naranjo is coming off Miss Bala, Mexico’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar submission, about an innocent teenager who heads to the Mexican border city of Tijuana and inadvertently gets caught up in a violent drug war on her way to compete in the Miss Baja California beauty pageant. Trapped in a no-win situation, the innocent is forced to become an unwilling participant in Mexico’s so-called war on drugs. Naranjo would make his studio debut on The Mountain Between Us. It’s a natural fit, since Sanford Panitch’s division, Fox International Productions, made Miss Bala.
Adapted by J. Mills Goodloe, The Mountain Between Us is both 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 …
It’s been a busy day for Russell Brand. Fox has picked up an an animated comedy co-created and voiced by the British actor-comedian, the same day cable sibling FX announced that Brand signed a deal for an unscripted late-night series. The network has handed an order for a presentation and a script to the project, produced by 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment. Dan Fybel and Rich Rinaldi, writer-producers on Fox’s animated series Bob’s Burgers, are writing. The project’s concept is being kept under wraps, but I hear that it is loosely based on Brand’s life in his 20s. Brand, Fybel and Rinaldi are executive producing with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope as well as Nik Linnen and Beau Bauman of Brand’s Branded Films banner. With the deal, Brand follows in the footsteps of his Get Him To The Greek co-lead Jonah Hill, who co-created and executive produces Fox animated series Allen Gregory, also from 20th TV and Chernin Entertainment. Brand’s animated voice-over experience includes Despicable Me and Hop.
EXCLUSIVE: In a match that seems ideal, Tim Burton is in early talks to come aboard Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, the Ransom Riggs novel that 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment acquired last spring. Burton is in talks to develop the book as a potential directing project, and he would be involved in setting a writer to adapt the tale.
It involves Jacob, a 16-year-old whose childhood was filled with stories his grandfather told him about an orphanage for unusual children. Among the residents: a girl who could hold fire in her hands, another whose feet never touched the ground, and twins who communicated without speaking. When his beloved grandfather dies unexpectedly but leaves a message behind for his grandson, the teen heads off to his grandfather’s home on an isolated island off Wales. There he discovers the abandoned remains of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. It is in great disrepair and as Jacob explores its bedrooms and hallways, he can see the children were more than peculiar, they might have been there because they were dangerous. And he can’t shake the feeling they are still lurking around. Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark and Jenno Topping are producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Stephen J. Cannell’s 1980s series Wiseguy is getting a contemporary reboot at NBC. The peacock network has bought a new take on the crime drama, which will be written by Alex Cary (Homeland). The project, from 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment, has received a script commitment with penalty.
A re-imagening of the original series, which Cannell co-created with Frank Lupo, Wiseguy centers on a disgraced former cop who, while serving time in prison, cuts a deal to work undercover for time off his sentence. The show begins as he’s being released — now he’ll put the connections he made behind bars to good use in the field as he helps the police take down a criminal organization. Cary, who is under an overall deal at 20th TV, will executive produce with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. The original series, which ran on CBS for 4 seasons from 1987 to 1990, starred Ken Wahl as Vincent “Vinnie” Terranova, an undercover agent of the Organized Crime Bureau, a fictional division of the FBI, whose cover was working as syndicate enforcer after a stint in the New Jersey penitentiary. The show, which had a lead change in the final season with Steven Bauer replacing Wahl and featured a standout performances by Kevin Spacey and Jerry Lewis, was an early pioneer in the introduction of serialized elements to a crime procedural, with each season consisting of several arcs, and in the use of runaway production for cutting costs.
Fox has bought Ben Fox is My Manny, a single-camera comedy project from feature writer Dana Fox (Couples Retreat, What Happens in Vegas). The project, produced by Chernin Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV, has received a script commitment with significant penalty attached. It centers on a single mom whose aimless brother moves in to help her raise her baby. Like the title suggests, the male lead is an exaggerated version of Fox’s real-life brother, whose name is Ben Fox. Dana Fox, repped by WME and Anonymous Content, is writing the script and executive producing with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope.
Fox is joining the Western trend this development season with an untitled drama project from producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, who co-wrote this summer’s big-screen Western with a sci-fi twist Cowboys & Aliens. Written by The Shield alum John Hlavin, the project is described as a Western that tells the origins of Wyatt Earp, chronicling both the well-known incidents in his life such as the Gunfight at the OK Corral and lesser-known details of Earp and his brothers bringing order to a lawless frontier. UTA-repped Hlavin, who has a feature Western, The Gunslinger, in development at Warner Bros, brought the project to Kurtzman and Orci. The three will executive produce with Heather Kadin for 20th Century Fox TV and Kurtzman and Orci’s K/O Paper Products.
After two highly rated airings, Fox’s new comedy series New Girl is getting an early back-nine pickup — which in this case is a back-11 pickup — bringing the order to the show starring Zooey Deschanel to 24 episodes. The 20th TV/Chernin Entertainment series, which gave Fox the elusive first live-action half-hour comedy hit in a decade, launched with a big 4.8 rating among adults 18-49 last week. Last night, it logged a 4.5, topping all Tuesday competition in the demo both weeks.
New Girl was created by Liz Meriwether who is executive producing with Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and helmer Jake Kasdan, who directed both the pilot and last night’s second episode. “We love the charming Zooey Deschanel and the entire cast, we’re knocked out with the work that Liz Meriwether and the whole staff is doing and we are really psyched about the upcoming episodes in the pipeline,” Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. “It’s great that audiences have responded so positively so far and we’re confident that even more people will embrace the show — and more comedy on Fox — this season.” New Girl is the first new fall series to get a back-nine order.
EXCLUSIVE: Chernin Entertainment is near a deal to acquire an untitled pitch by scribes Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark will produce with Blind Wink’s Gore Verbinski and John Krauss. Chernin will buy it out of his discretionary fund, a mid- to high-six-figure deal for a pitch that sounds like a futuristic Jungle Book. It was competitive, as Disney also bid, with Verbinski and Basil Iwanyk attached to produce. Disney, of course, made both animated and live-action Jungle Book films, and Verbinski is working hard there to nail down a start date for The Lone Ranger after the film was unplugged by the studio over budget. Sazama and Sharpless scripted Dracula Year Zero, are teamed with Iwanyk on an untitled project at Summit; and are writing the script for live-action adaptation of the board game Clue, which Verbinski is developing as a potential directing project. That project was recently kicked loose by Universal and its development is being funded by Hasbro. ICM and manager Sophy Holodnik repped the writers.
EXCLUSIVE: Jacqueline Susann’s classic 1966 novel Valley of the Dolls is getting a series treatment by Oscar-nominated Precious director Lee Daniels. NBC has bought the period project, from 20th Century Fox TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment, with a script commitment plus penalty. Daniels is set to write and direct the TV series version, which will be based on the 1967 Valley of the Dolls feature adaptation, as well as executive produce with Chernin and Katherine Pope. UPDATE: This is one of 3 recent drama sales for Chernin Entertainment, which also set up at Fox Gina Fattore’s Second Chances, about a female trauma surgeon who has to cope with the fact that she was the only survivor of a car crash that killed her best friend (the project received a script commitment plus penalty), and Jon Cowan’s legal thriller spec script Truth.
Valley of the Dolls, which has sold more than 30 million copies, spans over two decades to chronicle the lives, career highs and ultimate self-destruction of three female best friends: Anne Welles, who works at a Broadway talent agency; Neely O’Hara, a vaudeville star; and Jennifer North, a showgirl. The title of the book refers to a slang for sleeping pills that the three women eventually become dependent on. The novel previously was adapted as a movie in 1967 produced by 20th Century Fox and starring Barbara …
Fox just picked up Touch last week and already Entertainment President Kevin Reilly is unveiling the new drama series with star Kiefer Sutherland and executive producer Tim Kring at his side for a Q&A after his MIPCOM 2011 keynote on October 4th in Cannes. Reilly also will use the keynote occasion to premiere an extended trailer for Touch, so international buyers and media will be among the first to see the footage. In this science-meets-spirituality hourlong, Sutherland plays a widower and single father who discovers that his mute 11-year-old son possesses the ability to see things that no one else can and the patterns that connect seemingly unrelated events. Reilly’s speech will explore “creativity in the connected age.” Touch is a production of 20th Century Fox Television, Tailwind Productions and Chernin Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: Feature writer director and Undeclared alum Nick Stoller is returning to television with Hot Mess, a single-camera project that attracted multiple bidders and is now in negotiations to go to CBS with a rich put pilot commitment. Stoller is writing and attached to direct the comedy, from 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. Loosely based on Stoller’s real-life experiences, Hot Mess is a twenty-something ensemble comedy about a guy who gets his heart broken by his girlfriend and now has to work one cubicle away from her. Stoller is executive producing with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. CBS’ aggressive play for Hot Mess underscores the network’s recent shift toward younger, edgier comedies with shows like How I Met Your Mother and new fall entry Two Broke Girls as well as the decision to replace Charlie Sheen with Ashton Kutcher on Two and a Half Men. It marks a rare venturing into the single-camera format for the network, known for its brand of multi-camera sitcoms. The sale also continues comedy projects’ hot streak this summer as a slew of half-hour pitches have landed big commitments. Stoller is a member of the Judd Apatow’s gang. He got his break on Apatow’s Fox comedy series Underclared, and like his boss, he segued to movies right after. UTA-repped Stoller did several films with Apatow, including Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which Stoller directed, and its offshoot Get Him to the Greek, which he …
EXCLUSIVE: Fox is finalizing a deal for a presentation order to an animated comedy project from comedian Demetri Martin, Chernin Entertainment and 20th Century Fox TV. The pickup came shortly after the project, a family workplace comedy set in the California Redwoods, was pitched to the network. The former Daily Show correspondent will write and voice a lead character in the animated comedy, which he will executive produce with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. Animation is not new territory for Martin, who among other things is an artist. His Comedy Central series Important Things With Demetri Martin regularly featured animated segments as well as him doing whimsical drawings on a flip chart. Martin, repped by CAA and attorney Nancy Rose, had a development deal at CBS last season. This marks the second animated presentation at Fox for Chernin Entertainment. Its first one, Jonah Hill’s Allen Gregory, went to series and premieres Oct. 30.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC is expanding its relationship with The Voice star Adam Levine to the scripted side. After a bidding, NBC has nabbed a single-camera comedy project, with the Maroon 5 frontman executive producing and Jake Kasdan attached to executive produce and direct. The ensemble comedy set at a karaoke bar, which has received a script commitment plus penalty, is being produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. I hear at least three networks wanted the project, which is said to organically blend comedy with a musical element, but NBC was very aggressive, largely because of the involvement of its reality star Levine. This marks the first major NBC buy from 20th TV since the studio’s former EVP Jennifer Salke was named NBC entertainment president earlier this month.