EXCLUSIVE: Fox‘s untitled Diplo movie is pulsing ahead with writer/blogger Sascha Rothchild (The Carrie Diaries, Who Invited Her, How To Get Divorced By 30), who’s in negotiations to rewrite the electronic music-themed comedy. The “8 Mile meeets Project X” pic follows three teens attempting to get into Diplo’s Electronic Music Festival and will feature the DJ’s music. David Katzenberg is directing with Underground’s Trevor Engelson producing. Noah Rothman and Diplo’s business partner Kevin Kusatsu are exec producers. Adam Weinstock and Andy Jones wrote the initial draft. Rothchild is repped by WME and Apostle’s George Heller.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has made a whopping deal to acquire screen rights to Unholy Night, the new novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith will write the script, and he and KatzSmith partner David Katzenberg will produce with Heyday Films’ David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. I’ve heard that the deal is in the vicinity of $2 million upfront for the rights to the book and for Grahame-Smith to adapt it. The studio got first look at the book, as both KatzSmith and Heyday are based at Warner Bros. That is where Heyman produced the Harry Potter film series and where Grahame-Smith scripted the Tim Burton-directed Dark Shadows. Unholy Night, an action/adventure surrounding the Three Wise Men of the Nativity, will be published in April by Grand Central.
Setting up a film based around the birth of Jesus Christ gives Warner Bros its third high-profile movie based on a seminal religious story. The studio has been discussing the possibility of Steven Spielberg directing Gods And Kings, an epic-sized film about the life of Moses scripted by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. And Warner Bros recently set up a project being scripted by Joe Eszterhas and Mel Gibson (who has first option to direct) about the heroic story of Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee, who teamed with his father and four brothers to lead the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies that had conquered Judea in the second century B.C. Maccabee’s triumph and struggle against tyranny and oppression where people gave their lives so that others would be free to worship is celebrated by Jews all over the world through Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has bought writer Jonathan Stokes’ spec script Murders & Acquisitions for a low six figures. The purchase marks the first acquisition by Warners for producers Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg’s KatzSmith Productions, which recently closed an overall deal with the studio. The action comedy is about a Wall Street stock broker who becomes the target of a hit from a rival firm. Stokes last wrote the screenplay El Gringo, starring Christian Slater, which was just produced by Joel Silver’s genre label Dark Castle Entertainment and After Dark Films. Stokes’ latest spec, Blood Mountain, is currently making the rounds. He is repped by UTA and Energy Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: The Hard Times Of RJ Berger co-creator/executive producer David Katzenberg has been tapped to direct MTV’s half-hour comedy pilot Dumb Girls, from Awkward creator/executive producer Lauren Iungerich. The ensemble project, which will be produced in-house, revolves around a group of twentysomethings and recently cast Christine Evangelista, Xosha Roquemore, Josh Kelly and Nico Evers Swindell as its four leads. This is Katzenberg’s second pilot-directing gig at MTV. He also helmed the pilot for RJ Berger, which was canceled last month after two seasons. Katzenberg has an existing relationship with Iungerich and directed four episodes of her breakout MTV hit Awkward, which wraps its first season Tuesday.
EXCLUSIVE: KatzSmith Productions partners David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith have just signed a two-year first-look feature producing deal at Warner Bros. While rights are still being worked out, one of their first projects is expected to be a sequel to Beetlejuice, the 1988 Tim Burton-directed hit that starred Michael Keaton as a ghoul hired by a recently deceased couple to drive the new owners out of their house. Burton and Keaton made the movie while they were working on the studio’s first Batman film, which was released the following year. Beetlejuice also starred Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder and Geena Davis. The film will not be a remake; the intention is to reboot it by advancing the storyline of the original, which was done by The Geffen Company and Warner Bros.
The Warner Bros producing deal grew from the screenwriting work that Grahame-Smith did for Burton on Dark Shadows, currently in production with Johnny Depp heading the cast. While Warner Bros and other studios continue to cut back producing pacts, in KatzSmith the studio gets two partners who while just getting started producing features bring a lot of their own ideas to the table and are established writers and aspiring feature directors.
“We first got to know Seth through his fantastic work on Dark Shadows, and it immediately became a priority to expand our relationship with …
It was the first of MTV’s new generation of scripted series. Now The Hard Times of RJ Berger has been canceled after two seasons, series co-creator Seth Grahame-Smith tweeted earlier today. The series, which Grahame-Smith co-created with David Katzenberg, launched with 2.8 million viewers last year when it aired after the MTV Movie Awards. Its second-season premiere hit a series high of 3.1 million viewers airing behind Jersey Shore. But by the end of the second-season run in May, the series’ viewership had dropped below 1 million. RJ Berger, which stars Paul Iacono as a well-endowed high-school student, is the second MTV scripted series to be canceled following the axing of Skins after one season. Teen Wolf has been renewed for a second season, and new comedy Awkward appears a lock for a second-season renewal after hitting a series high in persons 12-34 this week. Coming up is the premiere of Death Valley on Aug. 29 and a post-Video Music Awards sneak of I Just Want My Pants Back, and the October launch of animated comedies Beavis and Butt-head and Good Vibes. The Inbetweeners is in production for a 2012 debut.
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has acquired the spec From Mia With Love, a John Hughes-style comedy written by Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Bryan Shukoff and Kevin Chesley. Katzenberg will direct, and he and Grahame-Smith will produce under their Katsmith Productions banner. Grahame-Smith adapted his novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which is being directed for the studio by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Tim Burton.
The coming-of-age comedy is a mix of Risky Business and Weird Science. Some plot elements could change, but the pitched premise had three guys so desperate to lose their virginity that they order up a Russian mail-order bride, figuring they can send her back. She is smoking hot but arrives with baggage and no plans to bed the lads, though she helps the trio become more suitable mating material.
Katzenberg’s directing experience includes episodes of The Hard Times Of R.J. Berger, the MTV show the duo exec produce. Deal comes as Grahame-Smith, who also authored Pride And Prejudice And Zombies and scripted Dark Shadows, works on his next novel. The concept is under wraps, but it is his first book under a three-book deal with Grand Central, and he will write the movie script simultaneously. The four scribes are repped by WME; Shukoff and Chesley are additionally repped by Madhouse Entertainment.