Dennis Haysbert, star of the CBS military drama The Unit, is reuniting with the network and The Unit producer 20th Century Fox TV with a co-starring role in the CBS/20th TV drama pilot Backstrom. Written by Hart Hanson based on the Swedish book series, the project centers on Everett Backstrom, an overweight, offensive, irascible detective as he tries, and fails, to change his self-destructive behavior. Gersh-repped Haysbert plays John Almond, one of the detectives working with Backstrom.
Here is a tongue twister: Tongayi Chirisa (NBC’s Crusoe) has been cast as Father Nicholas Ngungumbane in CBS’ Jim Gaffigan comedy pilot. Written by Gaffigan and Peter Tolan, the project centers on Jim (Gaffigan) a guy who lives with his wife Jeannie (Mira Sorvino) and five kids in a 2-bedroom New York apartment. Father Ngungumbane is Catholic priest from Zimbabwe, recently relocated to New York and thrilled to be living in the United States, who tries to convince Jim to come to church more often. Chirisa is with Domain and New Wave.
EXCLUSIVE: Dennis Haysbert has signed with Bob Gersh at the Gersh Agency. Haysbert, who starred in the series The Unit and films like Michael Mann’s Heat, has become most identified with his role as the Allstate spokesman. Haysbert, who’s managed by GS Management Group, will next be seen in LUV, the Sundance film that was acquired by Indomina and BET, and The Weinstein Co’s The Details, both of which will be released this summer. Haysbert just wrapped the Rob Meltzer comedy Welcome To The Jungle.
EXCLUSIVE: Dennis Haysbert, former star of Fox’s 24 and CBS’ The Unit, has signed with UTA. He was previously at ICM. On the feature side, Haysbert co-stars in the Sundance entry The Details, which was picked up by the Weinstein Co, and voices a lead in the upcoming Kung Fu Panda 2. He is currently in Baltimore shooting the indie drama Learning Uncle Vernon. On stage, Haysbert made his Broadway debut last summer in David Mamet’s Race.
UPDATE: The Weinstein Company indeed closed this deal, and here are the details. I’m told the minimum guarantee was $7.5 million, with a P&A commitment upwards of $10 million. That makes The Details the largest minimum guarantee of the festival so far, though TWC’s deal for My Idiot Brother (between $6 million-$7 million m.g.) had a larger P&A commitment, around $15 million. Summit’s bid for domestic rights was between $4 million and $5 million. TWC’s acquisition team of Peter Lawson, Laine Kline and David Glasser made the deal with CAA and UTA, which co-repped the picture.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 6:48 PM: A marathon bargaining session is near a close, and it appears The Weinstein Company will acquire worldwide distribution rights to The Details, the Jacob Aaron Estes-directed dark comedy that stars Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Ray Liotta, Dennis Haysbert and Kerry Washington. TWC and Summit Entertainment have been battling vigorously all night, and I’m told this could end up the Sundance Film Festival’s largest deal. The film, repped by CAA and UTA, began attracting suitors right after its Monday premiere at Eccles Theater. It quickly got down to TWC and Summit Entertainment, the latter of which has focused on acquiring domestic distribution rights.
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