Oscar-Nommed ‘A Royal Affair’ Team Boards Epic Don Winslow Novel ‘Power Of The Dog’

By | Thursday January 31, 2013 @ 4:02pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg, who scripted the Swedish The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and followed with the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee A Royal Affair, have found their next project. It’s a feature adaptation of The Power Of The Dog, the epic Don Winslow bestseller framed around the drug war and a 30-year struggle between a hard DEA agent and a family of cartel kingpins in Mexico.

Arcel will direct, and the script will be written by Heisterberg, Arcel and Shane Salerno. Salerno will produce through The Story Factory. This is the same Salerno who wrote, directed, produced and financed the J.D. Salinger documentary Salinger that earlier this week was licensed in the U.S. for an American Masters broadcast and is being shopped for feature distribution after a companion biography sold in a 7-figure deal to Simon & Schuster. Read More »

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‘Savages’ Author Don Winslow Awarded Raymond Chandler Award

By | Thursday September 27, 2012 @ 8:37am PDT
Mike Fleming

Savages author Don Winslow has won the Raymond Chandler Award. The honor, awarded at the Courmayeur Noir Festival 2012, has been won in the past by the likes of John le Carré, John Grisham, and Michael Connelly. The private detective-turned … Read More »

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Hutch Parker To Resurrect James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux Mysteries With Cable Series

By | Wednesday August 1, 2012 @ 8:55am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After two so-so attempts to adapt James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux terrific mystery novel series into features, the New Orleans-based crime saga is being redrawn for cable TV. Fox-based producer Hutch Parker has optioned Burke’s books and is packaging … Read More »

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Don Winslow Novel ‘California Fire And Life’ Heads For Big Screen

By | Wednesday July 18, 2012 @ 10:36am PDT
Mike Fleming

California Fire And Life MovieEXCLUSIVE: Hutch Parker Entertainment has partnered with producer Shane Salerno to develop Savages author’s Don Winslow’s bestselling 2007 thriller California Fire And Life. The producers will be going out to screenwriters and filmmakers shortly.

California Fire And Life tells the story of Jack Wade, once a rising star cop who fell from grace in a scandal and now makes his living as an arson investigator. His cardinal rule is “don’t get involved”, but when Jack sees the charred corpse of a young woman that has been written off as an accident, he becomes obsessed with hunting down the killer. Both Savages and Winslow’s new novel The Kings Of Cool are on the bestseller list. Read More »

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‘Savages’ Author Don Winslow Hits A Double On Bestseller Lists

Mike Fleming

In my view, there hasn’t been a quality author more underrated than Don Winslow. He hooked me with The Winter of Frankie Machine and Power of the Dog, but various turns in turnaround hell on his movies has made him a well kept secret for close to two decades. While I think that Universal miscalculated by moving the Oliver Stone-directed Savages from its fall berth to last weekend on not enough screens (the films Ted and Magic Mike provided stiff competition in the counter-programming to blockbusters niche that the studio sought for Savages), Winslow’s novel Savages has just gotten back on The New York Times bestseller list, and so has The Kings of Cool, his recently released prequel to the audacious drug tale. Read More »

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‘Savages’ Author Don Winslow And ‘The Town’ Author Chuck Hogan Team Up To Write Crime Thriller Script

By | Monday May 7, 2012 @ 3:42pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In an intriguing pairing of two top crime novelists, a script is in the works by Don Winslow, author of novels that include Savages and The Winter Of Frankie Machine, and Chuck Hogan, whose Prince Of Thieves was turned into the Ben Affleck-directed The Town. The untitled script is a contemporary crime thriller, of course, and it will be produced by Shane Salerno. The plot revolves around two men who inevitably collide, amidst a host of supporting characters. Winslow and Hogan will each focus on one of the characters and meld the plot into a script that Salerno will bring to studios once it is completed.

Savages Universal MovieThe deal comes at a time both authors are breaking out. Universal shifted the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of Winslow’s Savages from a fall to July 6 slot, with a cast that includes Aaron Johnson, Taylor Kitsch, Blake Lively, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta and Salma Hayek. That script was written by Salerno & Winslow & Stone. Salerno & Winslow are currently adapting Winslow’s period spy thriller Satori for Warner Bros, with Leonardo DiCaprio starring and John Lesher and Jennifer Davisson Killoran producing and Salerno executive producing. Winslow has also written a Savages prequel novel, The Kings Of Cool, which Simon & Schuster will release June 19. Several of Winslow’s other books are in play as movie properties.

Hogan has written for GK Films an untitled script that focuses on Boston’s notorious Winter Hill Gang and John Martorano, chief enforcer for James “Whitey” Bulger who became the government’s main witness. GK acquired his rights after Martorano was released following a 14-year prison stretch for a series of murders. It was during those legal proceedings that a corrupt relationship between Bulger and the FBI’s Boston office was exposed. The script is out to directors. Hogan also teamed with Guillermo del Toro on the trilogy of vampire novels that began with The Strain. The final installment, The Night Eternal, was published last fall and a film or TV deal is inevitable once del Toro completes work on Pacific Rim. Hogan is currently adapting his crime thriller Devils In Exile for Marc Shmuger’s Global Produce. The project, renamed Sugar Bandits, focuses on a group of Iraq War veterans who take on Boston’s drug trade. It goes to buyers in June. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Oliver Stone’s ‘Savages’

Mike Fleming

Universal has released its first trailer for Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the bestselling Don Winslow novel about two pot growers from Laguna who are muscled by a Mexican drug cartel. When the cartel kidnaps the woman they share, … Read More »

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Simon & Schuster Shifts Pub Date Of ‘Savages’ Prequel To Coincide With Film Release

By | Wednesday February 29, 2012 @ 4:06pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Simon & Schuster has moved the publication date of the Don Winslow novel The Kings Of Cool from fall to June 26. The move was made to bring the book closer to the launch of Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed … Read More »

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Universal Moves Oliver Stone’s ‘Savages’ From Fall To July 6 Opening

By | Tuesday January 31, 2012 @ 6:47am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Looks like Universal Pictures smells a summer hit in Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the bestselling Don Winslow novel. After screening a cut late last week, the studio has moved the film up to a July 6 slot. … Read More »

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Simon & Schuster To Coincide Don Winslow Prequel Novel Bow With Release Of Oliver Stone-Directed ‘Savages’

By | Thursday January 5, 2012 @ 10:07am PST
Mike Fleming

New York, NY, January 4, 2012: Simon and Schuster announced today that Don Winslow’s The Kings of Cool, the much-anticipated prequel to his New York Times bestseller Savages will be published to coincide with the release of Academy Award winning filmmaker Oliver Stone’s major film of Savages from Universal Pictures in September 2012. Savages stars Oscar winner Benicio Del Toro (Traffic), Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights, John Carter, Battleship), Blake Lively (Gossip Girl, The Town), Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Aaron Johnson (Anna Karenina), two-time Oscar nominee John Travolta, Oscar nominee Uma Thurman, Emile Hirsch (Milk), Mia Maestro (Twilight) and Oscar nominee Salma Hayek. The screenplay is written by Shane Salerno & Don Winslow & Oliver Stone.

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Warner Bros Acquires Post-WWII Don Winslow Novel ‘Satori’ For Leonardo DiCaprio

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired the Don Winslow bestselling novel Satori and will develop it as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio to play a Westerner, raised in Japan and taught an assassin’s skills, who gets caught up in the chaos of post-WWII as the U.S., Soviet Union, France and China maneuver for power in Southeast Asia in the early 1950s. Shane Salerno will write the script with Winslow, and John Lesher’s Grisdi Productions and DiCaprio’s Appian Way partner Jennifer Killoran are producing. Salerno is executive producer.

DiCaprio will play Nicholai Hel, raised in Japan by a martial arts expert and genius at Go, the complex chess-like Japanese game. The master, a Japanese general, passes on all his secrets and the student repays him by murdering his mentor as an act of devotion; the military leader would have been disgraced and killed as a war criminal.

Leonardo DiCaprioFor that act, Hel is thrown in solitary confinement in a Tokyo prison and tortured for three years. He is finally sprung by the CIA after agreeing to assassinate the Soviet commissioner to China. Hel is trained for the task by a beautiful French woman he falls in love with. Though he now sees a happy ending to the dangerous assignment, Hel is betrayed by his backers and, using his Go skills for strategy, makes his way through Vietnam hunted by American, Chinese, Russian and French intelligence agencies as well as a Corsican mob and Vietnamese criminal syndicate. It’s a sophisticated thriller, and the studio sees potential for its own Jason Bourne-type action franchise. Read More »

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Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson Re-Upped Through 2014

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.

While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced  stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land. Read More »

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Don Winslow To Write Prequel To ‘Savages’ As Oliver Stone Ramps Up Production

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Simon & Schuster has made a deal for Don Winslow to write a prequel novel to Savages, his bestseller that forms the basis of the film that Oliver Stone will begin shooting for Universal Pictures July 6, with Taylor … Read More »

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John Travolta, Uma Thurman And Blake Lively Join ‘Savages’ Cast

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Oliver Stone is putting together a killer cast for Savages, the drama based on Don Winslow’s bestselling novel.  Stone is arranging a Pulp Fiction reunion of John Travolta and Uma Thurman, as the two actors are in talks to … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Universal Nearing ‘Savages’ Deal

Mike Fleming

Despite the laughable claim of exclusivity just now by another outlet, I can report that Deadline’s March 19 scoop about Oliver Stone’s Savages heading to Universal is getting closer, but it’s not closed yet. They are now in exclusive … Read More »

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Benicio Del Toro In ‘Savages’ Talks

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Benicio Del Toro is signing on to play a deadly drug cartel enforcer in Savages, joining Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch in the drama that Oliver Stone is directing, based on the Don Winslow bestseller. The project is moving … Read More »

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Oliver Stone In Talks With Universal, Taylor Kitsch For ‘Savages’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Savages, the Oliver Stone-directed adaptation of the Don Winslow novel, is zeroing in on a distribution deal. Universal is in pole position with two others in the running. Along with Aaron Johnson, Stone is in talks with Taylor … Read More »

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Aaron Johnson Offered Leads In ‘Savages’ And ‘Anna Karenina’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: At a time when the Hollywood movie star landscape is being made over with new faces, Kick-Ass star Aaron Johnson is cementing his place in this new order. He has been offered two lead roles in high profile … Read More »

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Jennifer Lawrence Close To ‘Hunger Games’ Lead

Mike Fleming

I’m hearing that Winter’s Bone star Jennifer Lawrence has emerged as the front-runner for the lead role of Katniss Everdeen in Lionsgate’s The Hunger Games, the first installment of the novel trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Neither her reps nor Lionsgate … Read More »

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