Bunim/Murray Productions announced today that it has extended its contract with EVP Scott Freeman, who leads the reality producer’s development team, and upped Erin Cristall to SVP and Rachel Speiser to VP in the department. The group has developed such formats as The Bad Girls Club (Oxygen), Love Games (Oxygen) and Saddle Ranch (VH1). “The team’s fresh and innovative ideas continue to drive our reality formats and pave the way as Bunim/Murray ventures into scripted fare,” Bunim/Murray president Gil Goldschein said.
EXCLUSIVE: Former Scrubs executive producer Tad Quill has signed a two-year overall deal with Universal Media Studios. Under the seven-figure pact, Quill will develop new projects for the studio. He also will work part-time on UMS’ new comedy series for NBC Perfect Couples, from creators/executive producers Jon Pollack and Scott Silveri. Quill previously worked with Pollack on the ABC comedy Spin City.
This marks Quill’s return to NBC. His stint on the network’s comedy Scrubs, where he rose to an executive producer, led to an overall deal at ABC Studios, which produced the series for NBC and then for ABC. Quill has gotten 2 consecutive pilots orders in the past 2 development cycles. This past season, he landed a pilot at CBS. The untitled multicamera comedy pilot, produced by CBS TV Studios, was pushed because of difficulties casting the lead and continues to be in contention at the network. Quill is repped by ICM and attorney Ken Richman.
Gena McCarthy has joined Lifetime as SVP reality & alternative programming. McCarthy will start on July 6, overseeing the development and production of unscripted series for the female-centered cable network and reporting to JoAnn Alfano, EVP entertainment. The top reality post at Lifetime has been vacant since the departure of Jessica Samet late last year. Lifetime has ventured into unscripted programming before, most notably with the acquisition of Project Runway under former CEO Andrea Wong. While scripted series will continue to be the focus, Lifetime’s reality portfolio is expected to grow under new president/GM Nancy Dubuc, who also runs the docu-driven History Channel.
Warner Bros is giving the Glen David Gold novel Carter Beats the Devil another chance to beat death by development hell. The studio has optioned the novel, and set Michael Gilio to write the script. Jon Shestack will produce, and Ginny Brewer and Jeremy Stein will also be involved as producers. The book weaves a tale around the magician Carter the Great, a murderous rival, the mysterious death of President Warren Harding and Philo Farnsworth’s invention of television. The book was a hot property when optioned for high six-figures in 2002 by Paramount for Cruise/Wagner, a time when Tom Cruise was intrigued with playing a magician. It was eclipsed by a different C/W-developed magic book, David Fisher’s The War Magician. Ultimately, nothing happened on either front. As author Michael Connelly discovered when he sued Paramount to get back his Harry Bosch crime novels, books like these often get buried development costs and overhead charges that studio accountants lump on to justify pricey producer overhead deals. Carter Beats the Devil managed to escape that morass, but had little going after AMC tried to turn it into a series and dropped it. Shestack tried to option it when the book first came out, and followed its subsequent manifestations. “I’ve been trying to get Warner Bros to buy it since the day it came out and that it’s finally happening is enough to make me believe in magic,” Shestack said. Gilio has some heat …
EXCLUSIVE: In a move that has writers and their reps buzzing, Warner Bros has just put out word that it will start to enforce delivery dates on first screenplay drafts. That means writers who signed contracts had better deliver on time, or risk the wrath of the studio. Deadlines are rarely enforced by studios, under the “better late and great” rationale. Writers function better under deadline, but scribes say procrastination isn’t the reason they fall behind on delivery dates. Low to mid-level writers are double-booking to make ends meet in an age when studios routinely slash writer quotes and offer one-step deals that leave scribes wondering if they’ll be jobless in three months. Some writers saw the Warner Bros move as another example of
Shawn Levy And Marty Adelstein Form TV Company, Sign With 20th Century Fox TV And Tap Becky Clements As Prez
EXCLUSIVE: Veteran Brillstein Entertainment Partners TV executive Becky Clements is being tapped as president of the as-yet-unnamed new TV production company from Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein. It will be based at 20th Century Fox TV with a 2-year overall deal that is now being finalized. The pact may also include a network commitment component, with talks about such a commitment at Fox currently underway. Company’s focus will be on developing half-hour comedies as well as hourlong comedic dramas, capitalizing on Levy’s solid track record in directing/producing comedy features, including the Night at the Museum and Cheeper by the Dozen franchises, Just Married, What Happens In Vegas and, most recently, Date Night.
TV and film producer Adelstein had been looking for a new president for his 20th TV-based Lost Marbles TV following the departure of Michael Thorn, who left last month to become head of drama at 20th TV. Adelstein quickly settled on Clements whom he had known for 10 years. As for a partner, Adelstein said he wasn’t looking for one. After two back-to-back partnerships with Neal Moritz and Dawn Parouse, Adelstein was fine flying solo with Lost Marbles until his reps at WME introduced him to fellow WME client Levy. ”He is such a good positive guy, very ambitious, and he has an eye for what is commercial and has mass appeal,” Adelstein said.
Meanwhile, Levy had dabbled into TV with a small …
Another Bravo development executive, Cori Abraham, is moving to sibling Oxygen. Abraham has been named SVP development for the female-centered channel. She follows Amy Introcaso-Davis, who moved from Bravo to Oxygen in early 2008, shortly after NBC Universal’s acquisition of Oxygen. Abraham, who will oversee network’s development on both coasts based in Los Angeles, will report to Introcaso-Davis, who serves as SVP original programming and development. For the past six years, Abraham worked as VP development for Bravo where she executive produced Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, and developed the just launched Bethenny Getting Married?, and the upcoming The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Thintervention with Jackie Warner. Introcaso-Davis and Abraham worked together at Bravo for 4 years until Introcaso-Davis left to go to Oxygen.
A new drama TV project that has Kevin Spacey attached to star as a charismatic cult leader has been stirring interest in the marketplace. So far, the project targeted for cable has not yet landed. Supposedly, there’s some interest from HBO, Showtime, Starz and FX. On TV, Spacey most recently starred in the HBO movie Recount.
Bedrock Studios partners Cary Granat and Ed Jones have made their first overall talent deal. They’ve signed Andrew Adamson and Aron Warner to a multi-year development deal to make films under their newly formed Strange Weather Films banner. Adamson worked with Granat when he directed for Walden Media and Disney the first two installments of The Chronicles of Narnia. He also directed the first two Shrek films, with Warner producing.
EXCLUSIVE: Director-producer Michael Dinner has inked a new two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. He has been at Sony TV since 2005 under overall deals focused on developing and directing network and cable pilots. The new pact also includes writing series projects after Dinner’s first network script, ATF aka The Line, received a pilot order at CBS. Dinner also directed and executive produced the pilot, which starred Dylan Walsh. The pact with Sony is exclusive for development, while Dinner can take outside assignments if his schedule permits.
Most of the pilots Dinner has directed for Sony have gone to series, including Kidnapped for NBC, The Beast for A&E and, most recently, Justified for FX. Dinner also serves as an executive producer on the drama starring Timothy Olyphant, which was recently renewed by FX for a second season. Additionally, Dinner directed the pilots for FX’s Sons of Anarchy and NBC’s Bionic Woman. Sony TV recently scaled back dramatically its roster of non-writing executive producers to focus on writing and directing talent. Dinner, Emmy winner for The Wonder Years, is repped by CAA, Mosaic and attorney Jeanne Newman.
EXCLUSIVE: FX is teaming with Matthew McConaughey and his production company J.K. Livin for a comedy project.
Tentatively titled Kick Ass Militia, the single-camera comedy is based on source material by JR Reed, an old friend of McConaughey’s. It centers on two brothers whose divergent views are always pitting them against each other on their Malibu compound– one a survivalist and one a free-loving cult leader. Marc Hyman is writing the script and is executive producing Militia, now in development, with McConaughey.
J.K. Livin has been ramping up its TV efforts in the past year, building a slate of edgy, male-centered comedy projects. The company has animated comedy Rooster Tales, based on McConaughey’s brother’s life, in development at Fox and Jonah and the Whale, about a young man growing up in the shadow of a famous and disapproving father, in the works at Starz.
Meanwhile, FX also has been rapidly expanding its comedy series slate with recent entries The League, Archer and Louie…
EXCLUSIVE: Seasoned drama writer-producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts have inked an overall deal with ABC Studios. Under the two-year pact, the two are joining the studio’s new ABC drama series Off the Map as executive producers and will also develop new projects.
Berg and Harberts will serve as senior level writers on Off the Map, a medical drama set at an under-stocked clinic in the South American jungle, which will launch in midseason behind Desperate Housewives. The two will serve as executive producers alongside creator/head writer Jenna Bans, Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers.
ICM-repped Berg and Harberts most recently served as executive producers/co-showrunners on the NBC/UMS medical drama Mercy with creator Liz Heldens. They also worked as co-exec producers on the ABC/WBTV series Pushing Daisies and created/executive produced the WB/20th TV dramedy Pepper Dennis.
1492 Pictures and South Korea-based CJ Entertainment unveiled their first slate this morning since signing a three-year development deal late last year to create family-friendly films with global appeal. 1492 partners Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan and Mark Radcliffe pick the projects, and CJ funds development and will co-finance production with studio partners.
They start out with three thrillers.
* Killer Pizza is a comedy about a 14-year old who lands a summer job at a pizza joint which serves pies like The Monstrosity and The Frankensausage, but is actually a front for a monster-hunting organization. Adam Green is adapting the Greg Taylor novel and Rafaella de Laurentiis will also produce.
* Carpe Demon is an adaptation of the Julie Kenner novel Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom. Columbus will rewrite the story of a stay-at-home mother charged with cleaning up her demon-plagued small town.
* The Graveyard Book is an adaptation of the book by Coraline‘s Neil Gaiman. Neil Jordan will write and direct the live-action film about an orphan raised by ghosts. Wayfare Entertaiment, Framestore and Gaiman will also produce, and CJ will co-finance the film and distribute in Korea and Japan.
“The projects we are developing together meet our shared goal of producing movies for the global audience,” Columbus said. “We see this as just the beginning of many terrific movies together.”
CJ, a powerhouse in Asia and one of the original investors of DreamWorks, made 1492 its first Hollywood talent pact for …
Charlotte Thorp is leaving the London-based sales agent today to become E1’s new London-based head of TV sales and business development for film, UK and Ireland. Thorp will begin work at E1, whose recent releases include The Twilight Saga: New Moon, on July 1. She joined Hanway from MTV Networks in March 2008.
The broadcaster is jointly developing a feature film version of Channel 4 TV series Skins with series producer Company Pictures and Stormdog Films. CinemaNX, the Isle of Man-based financier and distributor, is also on board.
Skins, which has finished its 4th season on digital entertainment channel E4, follows a group of teenagers in their last two years of high school. What’s unique about the show is that the cast completely changes every two years. Another wrinkle is that the average age of writers on the show is 21.
The series has become something of a charm school for young talent. Actors who’ve come through the show include Nicholas Hoult (A Single Man), Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) and Kaya Scodelario (Cathy in Andrea Arnold’s forthcoming Wuthering Heights). Producer Chris Clough tells me the Skins movie will feature actors picked from both versions of the show.
Show veteran Charles Martin will direct. Production starts in Bristol and the Isle of Man in September, with a summer 2011 release.
MTV has green-lit a US version of the show, set in Baltimore, Maryland. Company began shooting the pilot in February. Shooting on the US version begins in earnest late July. MTV will start broadcasting Skins in the New Year.
E4 has just commissioned a further two series of the show over here.
Clough tells me that Company’s been planning a feature version of the show for a long time, “but these things take forever to germinate”.
Simon Andreae has been named SVP of development and production for Discovery Channel. Andreae, who will start on June 1 and will be based in Los Angeles, will head Discovery’s West Coast development and production of series and specials, working closely with Clark Bunting, president and GM of Discovery Channel and president of Science Channel, and Stephen Reverend, Discovery’s East Coast SVP of development and production. Andreae most recently served as co-president of independent production company The Incubator, whose series credits include Science of Sex Appeal for Discovery Channel, Strange Rituals for History and My Shocking Story for TLC. (The Incubator will continue to operate under president Lisa Andreae.) Prior to that, Andreae served as head of science and education at U.K.’s Channel Four.
Heather Olander has been named VP programming and development for CBS Television Distribution where she will be involved in developing new syndicated shows as well as overseeing current first-run strips. Olander joins CTD from MTV, where she was VP of original series development and current programming. Previously, she worked at Carsey Werner Mandabach as director of alternative series development.
EXCLUSIVE: While gearing up for the upfronts over the past few weeks, ABC also opened a second, slower track for projects it wanted to spend more time on off-cycle. I hear five hourlong scripts are on the so-called spring development list, which is expected to yield two pilot orders this summer. The list includes Charlie’s Angels, from Sony TV, with new writers Al Gough and Miles Millar, another Sony drama, Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s Department Zero, as well as three projects from ABC Studios: the Taye Diggs-produced family cop drama Behind the Blue; the ghost-themed Ghostworld, from Ghost Whisperer executive producers Ian Sander and Kim Moses; and the Matthew Gross-produced medical male buddy show Island Of Women. Additionally, Rand Ravich’s pilot Edgar Floats, which just received an order for six additional scripts, is also a major part of ABC’s midseason plans, which we may hear more about this week. (On the comedy side, the network had been mulling new pilots for Wright vs. Wrong and Awkward Situations For Men.)
Behind the Blue, from Diggs’ ABC Studios-based company O’Taye Prods was written by Scott Veach. The character drama is set in Austin and follows a family of police officers – a female Chief of Police and her four adult children, all of whom are in some facet of politics and/or law enforcement. Grillo-Marxuach is working on a second draft for Department Zero, which is based on the best-selling Joe Ledger novels by Jonathan Maberry. Described as is a high-octane techno-thriller, the project centers …
Lauren Dolgen has been promoted to SVP of MTV Series Development, West Coast for MTV. She will oversee west coast reality programming for the network and be responsible for managing west coast slate and staff, including the pending hire of several new executives. Dolgen created MTV’s hit reality series 16 & Pregnant and oversaw the development of its spinoff, Teen Mom. Dolgen joined MTV after college. In 1997, she was hired as a production associate on VH1’s Behind The Music, and joined MTV in 1998 where she became a production coordinator. The following year, Ms. Dolgen joined the series development team.