Anthony D’Alessandro is an AwardsLine contributor.
In the 1970s, Columbia Pictures then-president Peter Guber was given a script for a film starring Woody Allen. “I called my boss David Begelman and said, ‘There has to be a mistake,’ ” Guber recalls. “There’s not a laugh in it!” The film was The Front (1977), and it was a stark departure from Allen’s comedy writing and standup days, preceding Annie Hall by a year. In the film, directed by Martin Ritt, Allen stars as a New York deli clerk who ghost writes for blacklisted scribes. The poster featured Allen throwing up his hands in a “What me, worry?” pose with the tag line, “America’s Most Unlikely Hero.”
“After seven minutes, the preview audience wasn’t laughing anymore,” Guber recalls. “The film didn’t associate with Woody Allen’s brand of comedy. The audience had an expectation going into the theater.” Critics were divided over The Front, and the film’s box office didn’t hit the $20 million to $30 million take of Allen’s other films, considered big by ’70s standards.
Fast-forward several years, when Bill Murray followed up his role in the 1984 blockbuster Ghostbusters with a dramatic turn in The Razor’s Edge, based on W. Somerset Maugham’s novel about a World War I vet who goes off the grid to India. The film was slaughtered at the box office and also by critics, such as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Roger Ebert, who blamed Murray for the movie’s dullness. Read More »
BREAKING: Alejandro González Iñárritu, the Mexican director whose films are about as serious and sad as anything I’ve seen from a world-class filmmaker, is about to lighten the tone and make us laugh with his next feature. Gonzalez Inarritu will next direct Birdman, a comedy he co-wrote with Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo.
Gonzalez Inarritu followed the tragedy-filled Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel by making possibly the most heartbreaking film I’ve ever seen in Biutiful, his last film. Here, he’ll tell the story of an actor in crisis, who once played an iconic superhero, as he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself in the days leading up to the opening of a Broadway play. Birdman will be captured in a single location over the span of three days. Production is currently slated to begin in March 2013. Iñárritu will produce with Robert Graf and his former agent-turned-producer John Lesher. CAA reps Iñárritu and will rep the film. Read More »
Emmy Pedigree: It’s Burrell’s third straight nomination here for Family, and he’s bidding for his second win in a row. He, like the rest of the cast, also took home a SAG Award the past two years as well as a TCA honor in 2011.
What We Say: Burrell could be poised to pull a repeat, but with the Family vote split four ways, it’s far more likely that voters will anoint new blood.
JESSE TYLER FERGUSON (Modern Family, ABC)
Emmy Pedigree: Ferguson has kept pace with his costars in landing his third Emmy nod for the show. However, unlike Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet, he’s yet to win.
What We Say: The guy is really, really good. But he’s surrounded on this show—and in this category—by really, really good. It’s Ferguson’s turn. Time for him to make room for a golden gal on the shelf.
At a party tossed by Family Guy creator/runner Seth MacFarlane this week, MacFarlane was joined onstage by Bill Maher to belt out the Frank Sinatra tune Star. It turns out both guys have decent chops, even after a cocktail or two. Of course, that shouldn’t be a huge surprise in the … Read More »
NBC has scheduled midseason comedy The Paul Reiser Show in the Thursday 8:30 PM slot. The single-camera comedy starring Reiser will premiere Thursday, April 14. It will replace another NBC midseason comedy series, Perfect Couples, which will have aired 11 … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In what may be the last bidding war this development season, I hear CBS has landed Two Broke Girls, a multi-camera comedy co-written by former Sex and the City showrunner Michael Patrick King and comedian Whitney Cummings. The project, … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: It used to be that Hollywood was signing stand-up comedians to TV deals all the time. Now it’s a rare occasion. But Jo Koy has inked a talent deal with Warner Bros TV to topline a comedy project based on his … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Mos Def has joined HBO’s upcoming Mike White/Laura Dern comedy series Enlightened as a regular. The single-camera comedy stars Dern as a self-destructive woman who has a spiritual awakening and decides to live an enlightened life, which creates havoc at home … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Matthew Lillard and Gillian Vigman will play the two leads in the CMT comedy pilot The Hard Life. The project,written and executive produced by Bill Diamond (Murphy Brown), is a single-camera half-hour that explores the contrast of modern parenting vs. old school parenting. It centers on parents Read More »
Mandate Pictures is banking on the notion that HBO’s East Bound and Down star Danny McBride will make a convincing bully. Mandate has made a deal for Bullies, a comedy based on an original idea by McBride about two brothers who … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Fred Goss (Sons & Daughters) is closing a deal to play the lead in the CMT comedy pilot 30 Percent, with Sarah Rafferty also cast in the project. Additionally, veteran Debra Mooney (Everwood) rounds out the core cast of another … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE (Updated with a mini Q&A with Mara Altman): HBO is developing a comedy about a young woman’s quest to achieve the female orgasm. No, this is not a Sex and the City spinoff about Samantha’s twenties. The pay cable network … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The London-based production company is turning Shari Low’s bestselling chick-lit novel A Brand New Me into a romantic comedy. Mimi Hare and Clare Naylor, screenwriters of The Accidental Husband, are adapting the screenplay. Hare and Naylor … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: CMT is getting another familiar name from its roster of unscripted series hosts to headline one of its first four scripted pilot presentations. Tom Arnold has been tapped to star in the untitled David Litt multi-camera comedy, a multi-generational show … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I hear Sarah Chalke is in talks to co-star in the CBS comedy Mad Love, which is close to a 13-episode midseason order at the network. She would replace Minka Kelly who was originally cast in the role. The … Read More »
Former Friends writer-producer Ira Ungerleider has closed a deal to serve as showrunner on another ensemble relationship NBC comedy that has “friends” in the title, midseason series Friends With Benefits. On the single-camera comedy, from 20th TV and Imagine TV, Ungerleider will … Read More »