EXCLUSIVE: Storyline Entertainment’s Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have signed a new two-year deal with Sony Pictures Television for TV movies and miniseries. The duo, who just closed a first-look deal with Universal TV and NBCUniversal International for series and specials, have set up several high-profile new longform projects: movies about Anna Nicole Smith and Warren Jeffs at Lifetime and a Bonnie & Clyde miniseries at History.
Sony’s TV movie/mini EVP Helen Verno brought Zadan and Meron to the Sony TV fold nearly twenty years ago, making Zadan and Meron’s partnership with the studio one of the longest in the TV movie/miniseries business. Their first collaboration was the award-winning 1994 movie Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story. Since then, Zadan, Meron and Sony TV have done more than a dozen movie and minis together, including new takes on titles from the Sony libraries like A Raisin In The Sun and Zadan and Meron’s upcoming passion project, a Steel Magnolias remake for Lifetime starring Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard. “(Sony TV president) Steve Mosko is a one of a kind executive and a true inspiration and supporter of our longform work, while others have walked away from the genre”, Zadan and Meron said.
Storyline’s longform development slate with Sony TV includes a biopic of the late Anna Nicole Smith at Lifetime written by John Rice and Joe Batteer. Also in the works at Lifetime is a biopic of another controversial figure, jailed FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs, which is written by Art Monterastelli. On the two movies, as well as Lifetime’s recently aired Blue Lagoon film, Zadan and Meron teamed with Judith Verno who executive produces with them. Also at Lifetime, Zadan and Meron are in early development on a movie about the true story of Constance McMillen, the lesbian student who was denied going to her own prom. The project, written and directed by John Gray, was previously set up at ABC Family.
On the heels of the runaway success of its Hatfields & McCoys miniseries, History has partnered with Zadan and Meron to develop another mini about another famous duo from America’s past. A four-hour event miniseries based on the true story of Bonnie and Clyde is being written by Rice and Batteer. Read More »
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron already executive produce NBC/Universal TV’s series Smash and recently teamed with the network for a live Sound Of Music TV special. Now the duo has inked a first-look deal with Uni TV and NBCUniversal’s international TV production division to produce series and specials for U.S. and international markets. “The incredible creativity, vision and intelligence that they bring to all their projects — on television, in film and on Broadway — is exactly what the future of Universal Television is all about,” Uni TV EVP Bela Bajaria said. Added NBCU International TV Prods president Michael Edelstein, “We look forward to bringing their extraordinary ideas to the global television marketplace.” Read More »
NBC is looking to bring back to broadcast television event musical programming with The Sound Of Music, a live broadcast of a new production of the original Broadway musical to be produced by Smash executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. “There used to be a tradition of broadcasting musicals live back in the 1950s and we’re thrilled to do it once again with a musical that has been a family classic for five decades,” said NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt. “There is no more talented and creative producing team than Craig Zadan and Neil Meron to bring Rodgers and Hammerstein’s final — and most beloved — collaboration to network television in this groundbreaking live telecast.” Casting will begin immediately and an air date will be announced shortly. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Lifetime is heading back to The Blue Lagoon. The cable network has greenlighted a contemporary remake of the 1980 romance/adventure movie starring Brooke Shields, which centered on a boy and a girl marooned on a tropical island, where they grow up together, fall in love and discover sexuality. Neil Meron and Craig Zadan’s Storyline Entertainment and Judith Verno’s Peace Out Prods are producing the film in association with Sony Pictures TV, with Meron, Zadan and Verno executive producing. The project was originally set up at Lifetime in 2004 with Heather Rutman and Matt Heller as writers. Casting is already underway, with filming eyed for a February start in Puerto Rico. The Blue Lagoon movie franchise is known for giving young actresses their big break. The 1980 film made Shields a household name, while the 1991 sequel Return To The Blue Lagoon launched the career of Milla Jovovich. Read More »
The CW is joining the treasure hunt trend this development season with Golddigger. The project, from Bill Haber’s Ostar Prods., centers on a young female treasure hunter who tracks down artifacts for a variety of mysterious and interesting clients. … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The 1989 film Steel Magnolias is getting a contemporary remake with an all-black cast. Lifetime is developing an original movie based on the hit feature, which will be produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron and Sony Pictures TV, where the duo’s Storyline Entertainment has an exclusive deal for event long-form programming. Kenny Leon, who directed Storyline/SPT’s previous collaboration, the 2008 ABC movie A Raisin In The Sun, is attached to direct the new Steel Magnolias, which, like the movie, will be set in Louisiana and explore the bond among a group of women in the present day.
Both Lifetime’s Steel Magnolias and ABC’s A Raisin In The Sun are based on properties that span a famous play and a feature. But while the Emmy-nominated Raisin In the Sun was based on Lorraine Hansberry’s play (whose 2004 Broadway revival Leon directed), Steel Magnolias, penned by Sally Robinson (Iron Jawed Angels), is an adaptation of the screenplay for the movie, which was written by Robert Harling based on his play. The feature boasted an all-star cast of Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Darryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts. The goal of the TV movie’s producers is to assemble a similarly high-wattage cast of black actresses. The film, said to be a passion project of Lifetime president Nancy Dubuc and EVP Programming Robert Sharenow, has not been greenlighted but is on a fast track, with some preliminary work on casting choices for the leads expected to begin soon. Read More »
Here is the second-annual honor roll of the best and brightest at the broadcast upfront. First off, to all who got their pilots picked up to series — congratulations. You’re already winners. This is a list of those who took their upfront success to an extra level:
Whitney Cummings: The undisputed queen of Upfront 2011. She is behind two new comedy series that are among the highest-profile new half-hour entries next fall. She created, stars in and executive produces her eponymous comedy for NBC, which was assigned the network’s best comedy slot, following The Office. She also co-wrote on spec with Michael Patrick King the CBS comedy 2 Broke Girls, which broke records as CBS’ best-testing pilot (comedy or drama) ever. Both were the first comedy pilots to get a series order at their networks. Cummings, who also has a talk show in contention at E!, will serve as an executive producer on 2 Broke Girls but will be full-time on Whitney, which was in first position. I hope that doesn’t impact 2 Broke Girls, which King is expected to run/co-run, because the pilot indeed looks great. Honorable mention in the category of creators with multiple projects for Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. One of their two ABC pilots, Work It, was picked up to series, while the other, Smothered, is very much in contention for midseason.
What a comeback for J.J. Abrams! After his high-profile NBC drama Undercovers went bust last fall, some questioned whether the networks will continue to bet on him. But bet they did this upfront, with both pilots he produced, CBS’ Person of Interest and Fox’s Alcatraz, going to series. Person of Interest instantly became one of the most anticipated new fall series when CBS made it its new Thursday 9 PM anchor. The network also said it was its best-testing drama pilot ever. And over at Fox, Alcatraz prevailed over several high-profile pilots to land one of only two drama series spots. Then, as icing on the cake, Abrams’ modestly rated but well-liked Fox sci-fi series Fringe got a renewal for next season, bringing the producer’s series for next season to three. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: He just starred on an NBC drama series with comic book mythology. Now Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia is back at the network as the star/executive producer of Rest, a new drama project based on a comic book series he … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE AND UPDATED: Fox 2000 has beat out Universal Pictures by paying north of $2 million for a pitch by Susannah Grant and rights to songs from the Beach Boys song catalogue that will form the basis for … Read More »