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EMMYS: The Directors Race

By | Saturday August 25, 2012 @ 8:00pm PDT

Ray Richmond is an AwardsLine contributor

Among the Emmy nominees for directing a drama series, comedy series, and movie/miniseries/special are numerous first-time nominees and several more with multiple noms looking for their first wins. What follows is a look at everyone’s chances:


Tim Van Patten, Boardwalk Empire, “To the Lost” (HBO)

Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad, “Face Off” (AMC)

Brian Percival, Downton Abbey, “Episode 7” (PBS)

Michael Cuesta, Homeland, “Pilot” (Showtime)

Phil Abraham, Mad Men, “The Other Woman” (AMC)

If you were ever going to say that a guy is due for a win, it’s Van Patten. His Emmy pedigree includes 11 total nominations and five for The Sopranos. Yet his only win was as a supervising producer on the HBO mini The Pacific. Van Patten’s fellow directors could see this and feel like maybe it’s time.

On the other hand, it won’t be easy. Not with people like Vince Gilligan vying for the trophy. Gilligan was nominated for the same episode of Breaking Bad that earned him a DGA Award nom earlier this year. It’s “Face Off,” the fourth-season cliffhanger that found Giancarlo Esposito’s memorable villain Gustavo Fring having half of his face blown off, leading to a final adjustment of his tie moments before he collapses. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is direction. Read More »

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Who’ll Helm James Cameron’s ‘Fantastic Voyage’?

Mike Fleming

Now that the X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 directing job went to Darren Aronofsky, The Hunger Games was gobbled up by Gary Ross and Zack Snyder got the Superman job, there are only a couple films left that have directors hot and bothered. One is Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, the Lionsgate film that David O Russell departed, and Mike Newell is still frontrunner to direct Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper. But for sheer ambition and budget scale, the big directing job is the James Cameron-produced Fantastic Voyage at 20th Century Fox. I’m hearing that Cameron’s choice is Louis Leterrier, whose last film, Clash of the Titans, grossed around $500 million worldwide for Warner Bros. Cameron and the studio have a strong Shane Salerno script, and Cameron’s Avatar designers have done everything but build sets for a film that could be ready to shoot early in 2011. Of course, the studio is still figuring out the budget and logistics, as is the case with the other major 3D pic that Cameron is producing, the Guillermo del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness at Universal. Fantastic Voyage is an ambitious re-imagining of the 1966 original about a team of scientists shrunk into a ship in an attempt to save a colleague’s life. Fox has been wary of the budget of a film that, from early in the script once they go inside the body, … Read More »

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HOT HELMING: With ‘Wolverine 2′ Job Filled At Fox, Next Big Directing Gig Is Lionsgate’s ‘Pride, Prejudice, Zombies’ With Scarlett

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: I’ve begun hearing directing candidates to replace David O Russell for Lionsgate’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies: Mike Newell (Prince of Persia) is the early front runner, but they are still meeting filmmakers and I am hearing Descent’s Neil Marshall is in the mix. Details below.

EXCLUSIVE: One of Hollywood’s biggest directing gigs looks done. Darren Aronofsky’s deal to direct 20th Century Fox’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 is close enough that discussion has turned to shooting the sound stage portions of the film in New York so the filmmaker and Hugh Jackman don’t have to inconvenience their families. A March start date is being eyed so that Aronofsky has time to open Black Swan and be available for the inevitable awards season obligations. When the New York scenes are completed, they’ll head to Japan to shoot the bulk of the Christopher McQuarrie-scripted movie. Deadline told you last week that Aronofsky had set his sights on Wolverine after passing on the Warner Bros period crime drama Gangster Squad.

With the Wolverine job all but sealed, what’ll be the next hot job helmers will compete for? I’m told a lot of directors are lining up for Lionsgate’s Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, the Seth Grahame-Smith revisionist novel that enhances Jane Austen’s tale of class and manners in 19th Century England with the much-needed infusion of bloodthirsty brain-eating zombies. I’m told that after Natalie Portman backed out of playing Elizabeth Bennet, David O Russell had Scarlett Johansson ready to play the heroine and Bradley Cooper to play Mr. Darcy. Then, Russell himself left to focus on his collaboration with Vince Vaughn Old St. Louis and  Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune at Sony. Read More »

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Warner Bros/Legendary Land Jonathan Liebesman For 3D ‘Clash’ Sequel

Mike Fleming

2ND UPDATE: Warner Bros closed a deal late last night for Battle: Los Angeles director Jonathan Liebesman to direct Clash of the Titans 2. Production begins February 1 in the UK and possibly Iceland at a budget comparable to the $130 million spent on the original. I’d written yesterday about the ongoing talks that were stuck on money. Later in the day, they found a common ground–the studio came up with more dough. The sequel is a natural considering that the protagonists played by Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton survived, and the original grossed nearly $500 million worldwide. But Clash benefited by being one of the first major live action films to get a 3D retrofit. Read More »

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DGA Message To Members: Top Contract Issue Health & Pension Plans, Not Money

By | Saturday August 21, 2010 @ 2:09pm PDT

It looks increasingly like the Hollywood guilds are giving up before they even go into this 2010/2011 round of negotiations with the movie studios and TV networks. This message by 4-time Basic Agreement/FLTTA Negotiations Chair Gil Cates to 14,000 Directors Guild members talks about focusing on health and pension plans and doesn’t even mention demanding more New Media money from the AMPTP. This, despite the fact that Big Media is alive and well and even flourishing not just this quarter but in many cases for next quarter or even the entire year. (Every Studio & Network Boosted Earnings) For instance, Warner Bros’ home video revenue was down 8%, but revenue from digital distribution grew by a sizable 50% and now represents nearly 20% of the studio’s total home video pie. Yet the trickle down effect has been slow or nonexistent for Hollywood when it comes to this and every Big Media revenue stream.

What’s also interesting about Cates’ statement is that this notorious hater of the Writers Guild cozies up to the new SAG-AFTRA cooperation. So it’s clear what’s going to happen during this next round of negotiations: SAG-AFTRA make a quick and easy contract full of compromises and few gains. The DGA soon follows. Which leaves the WGA on its own – facing bogus Hollywood trade reports about impending strike action to create pressure from all the other guilds to hurry up and make a deal “so we all can go back to work”. In other words, capitulation.

Dear Members:

I’m honored to be serving as your Basic Agreement/FLTTA Negotiations Chair for the fourth time, and to be giving you the first update on the 2010/2011 negotiations cycle.

Read More »

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John McTiernan Pleads Guilty To Perjury And Faces Up To One Year In Prison

mctiernanjohn1MONDAY UPDATE: The film director pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to lying during the Pellicano investigation. John McTiernan entered the plea to two counts of making false statements to the FBI and one count of perjury for lying to a federal judge while trying to withdraw a guilty plea. He faces up to a year in prison when he’s sentenced October 4th before the same judge he lied to.

SUNDAY PM: The Predator reboot debuted this weekend. But at 9 AM Monday, the director of the original goes on trial. John McTiernan is charged with lying to the FBI and to a federal judge in connection with the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping and racketeering case. But McTiernan, who also helmed Die Hard, The Hunt for Red October, and The Thomas Crown Affair remake, But here’s the problem: McTiernan is appearing for trial tomorrow before the same judge he allegedly lied to. In June, McTiernan lost a bid to suppress evidence in the case. U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer denied McTiernan’s request to exclude a telephone conversation Pellicano recorded in which he and McTiernan discussed wiretapping Charles Roven, a producer of the 2002 movie Rollerball that was also directed by McTiernan.

pellicanoThis case has quite a history. The 59-year-old director pleaded guilty in 2006 to lying to FBI agents about paying Pellicano $50,000 to wiretap Roven’s phone. Fischer sentenced McTiernan in 2007 to 4 months … Read More »

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Spielberg’s ‘War Horse’ Man Signs With CAA

By | Monday July 12, 2010 @ 9:00am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Here is what happens when Steven Spielberg plucks you out of obscurity to play the lead in his next film. Jeremy Irvine, who makes his feature film debut as the lead in the Spielberg-directed War Horse, has signed with Spielberg’s agency, CAA. Irvine began his career at The National Youth Theatre and attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. His stage credits include the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2010 production of Dunsinane. CAA will rep him along with UK-based Hatton, McEwan. Irvine plays a young man whose horse is conscripted for WWI battlefield duty. He sets out to reunite with his cherished animal. The film, based on Michael Morpugo’s novel and Nick Stafford’s stage adaptation, is Spielberg’s first for DreamWorks since it relaunched with Reliance and a Disney distribution deal.

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Swiss Reject U.S. Extradition Of Polanski

polanski2The 76-year-old director of The Ghost Writer has been under house arrest in his Swiss chalet since December last year. The US wants him to face sentencing for a case dating back to 1977. The Polish director is wanted in the US over a conviction for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl. Switzerland says that Roman Polanksi is now free, and that the US cannot appeal the decision.

Polankski, who was originally charged with six offences including rape and sodomy, pleaded guilty to unlawful sex following a plea bargain. But he fled the US in 1978 before sentencing and has never returned.

He was taken into custody in Switzerland in September last year when he traveled from his home in France to collect a lifetime achievement award at the Zurich Film Festival.

Observers over here wonder why it’s taken the US more than 30 years to revive a case even Polanski’s victim wishes to forget.

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‘Wicked’ To Cast Movie Spell For Universal: Creators Meeting With Hollywood Directors

Mike Fleming

100.0EXCLUSIVE: The smash hit stage musical Wicked is taking its first formative steps toward the movie screen. I’m told the musical’s producer Marc Platt, book writer Winnie Holzman, and songwriter Stephen Schwartz have begun meeting with filmmakers. Insiders confirm that JJ Abrams, James Mangold, Ryan Murphy, and Rob Marshall are among the directors who’ve met or otherwise thrown their hat in the ring. More meetings will take place when the musical’s authors come to town in the fall. The film will be made at Universal, which produced the stage musical with Platt.

After the billion dollar gross of Alice In Wonderland, studios are combing their fairy tale books for classics. It’s crowded on the Oz front  –Disney attached Sam Raimi to The Great and Powerful Oz, and Warner Bros has more than one film in development. But the $2 billion in global stage grosses for Wicked put it in league with Mamma Mia!, the long-running stage musical whose movie transfer grossed over $600 million worldwide for Universal.

 Wicked, a Wizard of Oz prequel, is based on the Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and focuses on the early relationship between Glinda the Good and Elphaba, a green-skinned beauty before she ended up flying on a broomstick. Wicked began as a movie development project with Platt and Universal, before they changed course and took it to the stage first. It was an immediate sensation, quickly … Read More »

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Barry Levinson Directs On Big Screen Again, Nick Cassavetes Acts, Jeff Bridges Walks

Mike Fleming

Some action on the feature front. Sony’s Columbia Pictures attached Barry Levinson to direct Brother Jack, a  Mosaic-produced drama based on the life of human rights activist Jack Healey. Harley Peyton wrote the script and Kelly Masterson is rewriting. Levinson’s got a little momentum from the Jack Kevorkian biopic You Don’t Know Jack which he directed for HBO to 15 Emmy nominations today…

I must amend a recent post about the lack of starpower (compared to other versions of the film contemplated over the years) in the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. There’s a recognizable name in the cast of a movie that financier John Aglialoro put into production just before he would have lost the rights to the author’s estate. It’s filmmaker Nick Cassavetes, who’s playing the role of Richard McNamara. The film is being directed by Paul Johansson (who also plays John Galt), and Johansson acted in the Cassavetes-directed Alpha Dog. Cassavetes, who is also playing himself in current episodes of Entourage, is moonlighting as he and Warner Bros work out a cast for the remake of A Star Is Born that he plans to direct…

Despite reports to the contrary, Oscar-winning Crazy Heart star Jeff Bridges is not starring in Great Hope Springs. That’s the film that Mike Nichols is eyeing to direct and Meryl Streep is in talks to star in the saga of a couple whose 30-year marriage is crumbling and hinges on an intense couples’ counseling weekend. Bridges was never firm, and given his … Read More »

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E1 To Produce & David Von Ancken To Direct AMC Pilot ‘Hell On Wheels’

Nellie Andreeva

E1logoEXCLUSIVE: E1 Entertainment has come on board to produce the AMC Western pilot Hell on Wheels. Endemol USA, which developed the project over the past two years, will executive produce. David Von Ancken (Californication) has signed on to direct the pilot, written by Joe and Tony Gayton. Additionally, E1 and Endemol USA have entered into an international distribution partnership for Hell on Wheels, with Endemol holding all TV distribution rights across Europe and E1 selling the potential series in all remaining territories. E1 also holds worldwide rights for DVD/Blu-ray, VOD and digital distribution. Production on the pilot is scheduled to begin in Alberta, Canada in August.

logo_AMCHell on Wheels is set in the 1860s and and centers on former confederate soldier Cullen Bohannan, whose quest for vengeance has led him to the Union Pacific Railroad’s westward construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad. “Hell on Wheels brilliantly captures the world surrounding the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad in post civil war America,” said Joel Stillerman, AMC’s SVP of original programming. ”The epic setting provides the perfect backdrop for the early industrialism and corruption surrounding the project; the incredible immigrant experience; and the good, the bad, and the ugly of what it took to get this railroad built.”

endemol-logoHell on Wheels is executive produced by Endemol USA’s SVP scripted programming Jeremy Gold and the Gaytons. E1 Television … Read More »

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Spike Lee Sets Sights On ‘Nagasaki Deadline’ With Lightstorm And Alcon

Mike Fleming


UPDATE 11 AM: TOLDJA! Alcon just issued a press release. Looks like James Cameron won’t be taking the producer credit, but his Lightstorm team of Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini are still taking the lead on this. Cameron, who’s probably too busy now, had been listed as producer about the project.

EXCLUSIVE 7:30 AM: Spike Lee is closing a deal to next direct Nagasaki Deadline, a thriller that will shoot on the East Coast next year. Alcon Entertainment will finance, and partners Andrew Kosove and Broderick Johnson will produce with Lightstorm Entertainment’s James Cameron, Jon Landau and Rae Sanchini. 8:38 Productions’ Kira Davis is also producing.

This will be the first feature for Lee since 2008’s Miracle At St. Anna. The film focuses on a troubled FBI agent and his desperate race to thwart two terrorist attacks planned to unfold on American soil. The fed goes beyond obvious suspects to focus on theories that the crime is tied to historical events, as he races against the clock.

Given the recent Times Square terror scare, this is risky, hot-button stuff. Creatively, it returns Lee to the fast-paced thriller terrain he covered in Inside Man, which I think was Lee’s best film in years. While he delivered a solid hit on budget with three stars–Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster and Clive Owen–studios hardly flooded him with followup offers. While Lee should be viewed as one of Gotham’s most talented filmmakers, every film he makes is … Read More »

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URGENT! Now Peter Jackson Negotiating With Studios To Direct ‘The Hobbit’ Films

Mike Fleming

peter_jackson_king_kong_premiereUPDATED WRITE-THRU – EXCLUSIVE: In what amounts to a dream come true for fans of Middle Earth, Peter Jackson has decided to direct two installments of The Hobbit, trusted sources are telling me. His deal is being negotiated right now with Warner Bros , New Line, and MGM. He will shortly take the reins over from Guillermo del Toro, after Jackson extricates himself from other project obligations that caused Jackson and manager Ken Kamins to initially deny he would direct. While Jackson’s camp has been tight-lipped, I’m told that the case is being made to MGM’s owners to loosen the purse strings and make the movies happen. The impetus for these talks is that Jackson will be the director of both of The Hobbit films, which will be shot back-to-back in his New Zealand backyard. The secret’s out.

Despite Jackson camp denials that directing was a consideration, there were signs for cautious optimism from the moment del Toro bowed out. More recently, there have been major clues.  While several directors have angled for the job — the most recent rumors focused on David Yates and Jackson’s District 9 protege Neill Blomkamp — no offer was ever made. I think that’s because Jackson was figuring out if he wanted to direct two more films, and finish the saga he started with The Lord of the Rings. And then once he decided, Kamins had to make it possible. It became … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Joel Schumacher’s ‘Twelve’

By | Friday June 25, 2010 @ 3:28am PDT
Mike Fleming

Director Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo’s Fire, Flatliners, The Lost Boys and A Time To Kill) is back at it with Twelve, an adaptation of Nick McDonell’s novel. Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford plays a drug dealer whose success comes at high price. The film’s released by Hannover House on August 6.

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Matt Damon Headed For ‘We Bought A Zoo’?

Mike Fleming

matt-damonBreaking News… Matt Damon is in early talks to star for director Cameron Crowe in 20th Century Fox’s We Bought a Zoo. Damon’s in talks to play a man who moves his family to England to operate a zoo. The script by Aline Brosh McKenna is based on the memoirs of Benjamin Mee and Fox is pulling together a production start to release the film in late 2011.

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’24′ Alum Jon Cassar Joins ‘Terra Nova’

Nellie Andreeva

Jon_CassarEXCLUSIVE: It will be an even larger 24 reunion on Fox’s upcoming prehistoric drama Terra Nova, which is executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin. Long-time 24 director-executive producer Jon Cassar has joined the 13-episode midseason series as an executive producer and regular series director. He joins fellow 24 executive producers Brandon Braga and David Fury who are executive producing Terra Nova. (Braga also serves as the series’ showrunner). Cassar, who won an Emmy for his directing work on Fox/20th TV/Imagine’s 24 and shared the show’s 2006 best drama series Emmy, will direct multiple episodes of Terra Nova following the pilot episode, which is being helmed by Alex Graves. “This is a huge coup for us,” said Dana Walden, chairman of 20th TV, which is co-producing Terra Nova with DreamWorks TV, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and Chernin Entertainment. “Jon is one of the best directors we have ever worked with, and this project is a huge priority for our company.”

Terra Nova, one of the highlights at the Fox upfront presentation, stars Jason O’Mara as a father from 2149 who, along with his family, is transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth where they join Terra Nova, a colony of humans with a second chance to build a civilization. For those keeping score, Cassar will be the 11th executive producer on Terra Nova, joining Spielberg, Chernin, Braga, Fury, Kaplan, the pilot’s writers Craig Silverstein and Kelly Marcel, Katherine Pope, Justin Falvey and … Read More »

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Columbia Pictures Keeps ‘Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer In Fold With New Pic Deal

By | Tuesday June 22, 2010 @ 1:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

ruben_fleischerColumbia Pictures has made another deal with its Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer. The filmmaker has signed on to develop to direct Babe in the Woods, a Mike White-scripted comedy about a female freshman who arrives at Yale and is targeted by the New Jersey mob. White and David Bernad are producing for White’s Rip Cord banner. It’s a priority project for Colpix presidents Matt Tolmach and Doug Belgrad.

Columbia is also expected to get distribution rights to the Media Rights Capital comedy 30 Minutes or Less, and the studio is working with Fleischer on a sequel to Zombieland, which was his feature helming debut. Fleischer is directing Danny McBride as a pizza deliveryman, with Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg also starring and Ben Stiller’s Red Hour producing. Fleischer separately set an untitled pitch at DreamWorks which he’ll direct and produce with Nicholas Stoller and Gavin Polone.

Ruben Fleischer Eyes ’30 Minutes Or Less’

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Spain & BBC Take ‘Coriolanus’ From Icon

By | Monday June 21, 2010 @ 5:57am PDT

CoriolanusIt’s the first major European territory to be sold. The BBC is also taking Ralph Fiennes’ modern-day version of Shakespeare’s tragedy for UK TV, but no surprise there, given that Auntie is already co-financing and co-producing. Icon Entertainment International has already sold Fiennes’ debut feature as director to a clutch of smaller territories. John Logan, whose play Red has just swept the Tonys, wrote the screenplay. Judging from the still, Fiennes’ pitch must have been “It’s the Bard-meets-Modern Warfare 2.”

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WGA Approves Credit Revision Proposals

By | Friday June 18, 2010 @ 4:09pm PDT
Mike Fleming

WGAE president Michael Winship and WGAW president John Wells announced that members overwhelmingly approved amendments to the Screen and Television Credits Manuals that make it easier for hyphenates to get screen credit. On the movie side, 85.7% of membership (1237 yes votes, 197 no votes) approved a change where writers who are also on the project in directing or producing capacities and subsequently get involved in rewriting, need to be judged responsible for a 33% contribution to receive credit on a non-original screenplay. The former standard was 50%. There is potential for good and bad in this one for writers. The upside: as more screenwriters become producers, they won’t be penalized for become entrepreneurial. The challenge: directors who run a script through their typewriter are now more likely to get shared screenwriting credits. There is a lot of residuals money on the line here, particularly on big hits. If more directors take it upon themselves to write, this is a potentially important issue.

A whopping 91.4% of membership approved a proposal that calls for a teleconference between arbitrators on decision where they have reviewed credit appeals but did not come to a unanimous arbitration decision. The identity of the arbitrators is always kept secret, and that would remain so in the teleconference, but it is an opportunity to discuss and perhaps come to a consensus. If no unanimous decision is reached, the majority will win out. A total of 1310 voted … Read More »

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