EXCLUSIVE: I hear that HBO is finalizing a deal for a pilot order to The Viagra Diaries, a half-hour comedy created by Sex and the City creator/executive producer Darren Star and starring Oscar winner Goldie Hawn. The project is looking for a director and eyes spring production start in New York. Based on the book by Barbara Rose Brooker, Viagra Diaries centers on a woman (Hawn) who, after her husband has a “mid-life crisis” at 65 and leaves her, struggles with being single for the first time in 35 years.
The novel was first eyed for a feature, with husband-and-wife duo Alan and Wendy Riche and their son Peter attached to produce. Independent TV producer Aaron Kaplan (Terra Nova) then took over the property and, with the Riches still on board, took it to Star who came on board to adapt it as a comedy series. Star and Kaplan pitched the project to HBO and convinced Hawn to star in what would be her first role in almost a decade, since the 2002 movie The Banger Sisters. Star, Hawn, Kaplan, Hawn, her managers Brian Medavoy and Alan Nevins as well as Alan, Wendy and Peter Riche are executive producing. After a start in television on Good Morning, World and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Hawn transitioned to features, starring in a string of comedies and earning an Oscar in 1970 for Cactus Flower. Hawn and Star, who executive produces with Kaplan ABC’s midseason dramedy GCB, are repped by UTA. When official, The Viagra Diaries will join HBO’s current crop of pilots, Noah Baumbach’s drama The Corrections, produced by Scott Rudin and starring Chris Cooper, Dianne Wiest and Ewan McGregor, and Doug Ellin’s comedy 40 starring Ed Burns, Michael Imperioli, Adrian Pasdar and Michael Rapaport.
EXCLUSIVE: Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas is joining 3 Arts as a manager/producer, returning to the rep business after 11 years. Once a high-powered dealmaker at ICM best known for guiding Julia Roberts from unknown to $20 million a picture as the world’s biggest female star, Goldsmith-Thomas left ICM in 2000 to run Revolution Studios East for Joe Roth and supervise films under Roberts’ production deal there. She has been a full-time producer since Revolution folded. An agent for more than 15 years at WMA and ICM, Goldsmith-Thomas also repped Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Connelly, Madonna and Darren Star.
The obvious question is whether she will be rejoined by Roberts, who went to CAA not long after Goldsmith-Thomas left. Goldsmith-Thomas said she comes to 3 Arts without any clients. While producing, she continued to give career advice when asked, but referred talent to agencies and management companies for years even as people asked why she wasn’t building a client list. She decided months ago to explore a return but was reticent to resurface as an agent. It would be hard returning to a job she left behind, and she never liked the poaching part of that game. She also didn’t want to give up producing, which agents can’t do. After meeting with 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff, Goldsmith-Thomas felt she’d found the right fit. She will operate out of the management/production company’s New York base, where Richard Abate manages authors and runs the book department and Avi Gilbert manages stand-up comics.
“I’ve always loved the architecture of careers, and I missed working with colleagues in breaking down walls that have gotten thicker,” Goldsmith-Thomas told me. “I think it’s a mistake when people try to re-create the same career they had. I love what I’m doing now, and I see this as a complement.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: There has been some behind-the-scenes drama on ABC’s upcoming dramedy Good Christian Belles. A fallout between writer/executive producer Robert Harling and executive producer/showrunners Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg on one hand and executive producer Darren Star on the other has led to a decision by producing studio ABC Studios to no longer have Star talk to Harling, Harberts or Berg, go to the set of the show, or go to his GCB office. He continues to give notes on scripts and cuts but to the studio, not to the series’ writing EPs — at least not for the time being. Star also oversees marketing and publicity for the series.
Star was never expected to be full-time on GCB for the long run because he is under an exclusive deal at HBO, where he has the Goldie Hawn-starring comedy project The Viagra Diaries awaiting a pilot green light. (He will go and run that show if and when that happens.) That’s why ABC Studios hired experienced showrunners Harberts and Berg after the pilot to help feature writer Harling. (For the duo, the assignment was part of their overall deal at the studio.) Still, the events of the past couple of months hastened that process, creating behind-the-scene tension along the way. As one observer put it, on GCB “the comedy is on the show, the drama is behind the scenes.”
I hear at heart of the problem was the fractured long-time friendship between Star and Harling. It was Star who originally optioned Kim Gatlin’s book Good Christian Bitches and brought in Harling to write the TV adaptation. Star also shepherded the pilot from development through postproduction. Some say there were signs of friction between the two as early as the pilot stage, but the cracks became very visible after the ABC upfront presentation and subsequent international screenings where GCB was heavily marketed as a Darren Star series with no mention of Harling, something that I hear upset Harling. Tension started building as Harling, Harberts and Berg convened the show’s writing staff to work on storylines and scripts, with Star chiming in from afar. (Star reportedly didn’t do much to defuse the situation). Read More »
Leslie Bibb has been tapped for the lead in ABC’s dramedy pilot Good Christian Bitches, from ABC Studios, Kapital Entertainment, writer-exec producer Robert Harling and exec producer Darren Star. Based on Kim Gatlin’s book, it centers on Amanda … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After a bidding war, ABC has nabbed the Darren Star-produced dramedy based on Kim Gatlin’s book Good Christian Bitches. The untitled project, which will be written by Steel Magnolias and The First Wives Club scribe Robert Harling, has received a rich put pilot commitment by ABC after the network and CBS went down to the wire in their pursuit of the dramedy. I hear ABC’s new chief Paul Lee spearheaded the network’s efforts to land the project, which he considers a great fit for the ABC brand. While ABC, NBC and CBS all went after the dramedy when it hit the market at the end of last month, ABC, home to light female-centered fare like Desperate Housewives, was the obvious destination for the project, often described as “Desperate Housewives in Dallas.” It centers on Amanda Vaughn, a recently divorced mother of two who, to get a fresh start, moves back to the affluent Dallas neighborhood where she grew to find herself in the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud. Harling, Star and Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment are executive producing the project, which, with ABC on board, is being laid off at ABC Studios. The project reunites Star with ABC where he most recently executive produced the 2008 dramedy series Cashmere Mafia. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A Darren Star-produced dramedy has become a hot property with three networks vying for it. I hear ABC, NBC and CBS are all after Good Christian Bitches, which will be written by Steel Magnolias and The First Wives Club … Read More »