EXCLUSIVE: In his first U.S. series gig, veteran British actor Michael Gambon has joined the new HBO drama Luck as a recurring. Also added to the series as a recurring is Patrick J. Adams. Luck, a David Milch/Michael Mann collaboration starring Dustin Hoffman, takes a provocative look at horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and industry players. Gambon, who previously worked with Mann on The Insider, will play a yet-to-be-named character described as a nemesis or worthy adversary for Hoffman’s Ace Bernstein. Adams will play Nathan Israel, who works closely with Bernstein. Luck, which is currently in production, recently added Joan Allen as a recurring. Executive producing the series are Milch, Mann, and Carolyn Strauss. Gambon, who earned an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Lyndon Johnson in the 2002 HBO movie Path to War, plays King George V in Oscar hopeful The King’s Speech and reprises his role as Prof. Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Pt.1. (He also appeared in the HBO mini Angels in America.) Adams, repped by Gersh and manager Andy Corren, plays the lead in the USA pilot A Legal Mind.
In a pretty cool interview that Michael Mann gave to Financial Times’ Matthew Garrahan about his experience directing and exec producing the David Milch-created HBO series Luck, Mann dropped on Garrahan that he’s close on two features. Now, I’ve heard that the collision of alpha males Mann and Milch (not to mention Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte) on the set of Luck had the kinds of macho exchanges that could have been scripted by David Mamet, but hopefully the result will be another memorable HBO series. As for the features, FT reports that Mann is mulling a medieval European tale about the build-up to the 15th century battle of Agincourt between England and France. The other is a Chicago crime tale, Big Tuna, the story of Tony Accardo and his successor, Sam Giancana. I’ve spoken to Mann about the former project, which is based on Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt, a bestselling novel that focuses on a young man with a death sentence on his head who is saved when his skills with the bow catch the attention of king Henry V. The archer develops into a warrior and falls in love with a young woman whose virtue he saved from a lecherous priest, and he becomes the portal to the bloody Battle of Agincourt, made famous by Shakespeare’s Henry V. Last time Mann tried this kind of historical stuff, the result was the classic The Last of the Mohicans. And …
UPDATE: Moments after I wrote that Barney’s Version was rumored to be headed for Sony Pictures Classics, the distributor has announced that it acquired U.S. rights to the film. They might not be done with acquisitions: I wrote yesterday about Apparition’s mass layoff and the Terrence Malick-directed Tree of Life being shopped. I’ve heard that SPC’s Michael Barker was seen dining with the film’s financier, Bill Pohlad, on Sunday. Guess SPC’s in the hunt for that prestige picture, as well.
EARLIER: The Hamptons International Film Festival will open October 7 with the U.S. debut of the Paul Giamatti/Dustin Hoffman-starrer Barney’s Version in East Hampton. Closing the fest on October 11 will be the Darren Aronofsky-directed Fox Searchlight release Black Swan, which has created strong festival buzz for Natalie Portman’s performance as an overly ambitious dancer. While it would seem that a festival could only have one opening night film, the Hamptons Fest is claiming two, with the Tom Hooper-directed The King’s Speech bowing in Southampton on Friday, October 8. That picture is being distributed by The Weinstein Company. The Centerpiece film will be the John Madden-directed Miramax holdover The Debt, which stars Sam Worthington and Helen Mirren.
Barney’s Version, which is directed by Richard J. Lewis, hasn’t yet picked up a distributor, though Sony Pictures Classics is rumored as a possible destination.
Julian Schnabel will be at the fest for the U.S. premiere of his film Miral, and James Franco will …
I’ve confirmed that those pickup shots which I first reported that Universal has scheduled for September on Little Fockers are now more than half a dozen full-blown scenes, including 4 with Dustin Hoffman. The notoriously difficult actor was written out of the Meet The Parents threequel altogether when Universal couldn’t reach a deal with him. But John Hamburg and Jay Roach helped convince Dustin to reprise his role which is “not dissimilar to what we were pitching him in the beginning,” an insider tells me. Hoffman won’t come cheap. “It’s costing what we were going to pay him in the first place,” my insider explains. Fortunately for the studio, the film was under budget, but even so it’s at least a $100M film. Hoffman will star in some pivotal scenes opposite Barbra Streisand, and then in a big scene at the end of the movie involving all the major characters. Other pickup scenes focus on Ben Stiller and the kids. Universal continues to spin that Little Fockers could have gone out “as is” since it scored an “85″ for the top 2 boxes with test audiences. ”But we want to make it better. It’s an investment in the future of the franchise.” So we’ll see whether the threequel still set for release in December kills Universal’s …
Essential Entertainment has signed on to rep overseas distribution rights on Barney’s Version, the Richard J. Lewis-directed film that has its world premiere at Venice September 10 and then moved to the Toronto fest two days later. Paul Giamatti plays the title role and the ensemble cast includes Dustin Hoffman, Minni Driver, Scott Speedman and Bruce Greenwood. A U.S. distribution deal is in the works, and E1 just bought Canadian rights.
The pay-TV giant has struck an exclusive output deal to be the only place to watch HBO shows from now on. Boardwalk Empire, Martin Scorsese’s series about Atlantic City gangsters, will be the first show to air through the deal in the autumn. Future HBO shows airing exclusively will include Game of Thrones and Luck, executive produced by Michael Mann and starring Dustin Hoffman. The next series of HBO shows such as Entourage and Big Love will also air exclusively on the channel.
Sky is throwing huge amounts of money at programming. It wants to get away from the downmarket image it’s saddled with. Many early adopters lived on council estates – think housing projects – peppering the skyline with satellite dishes. Sky is pulling strenuously upmarket. It’s just announced that it’s taking over ITV’s prestigious arts programme The South Bank Show. And it’s pouring big money into original drama such as Terry Pratchett TV movies and adaptations of crime author Martina Cole.
This year, Sky will spend £1.7 billion ($2.7 billion) on content – most of it on movies and sports rights though. By contrast, ITV will spend £1 billion, Channel 4 £550 million and Channel Five £165 million.
Meanwhile, BSkyB has just announced its fourth-quarter results for the year ending …
HBO has ordered the Dustin Hoffman-starring pilot Luck to series. Luck, from Michael Mann and David Milch, takes a provocative look at horse racing – the owners, gamblers, jockeys and diverse gaming industry players. Production is set to begin this fall at Santa Anita Park and other Los Angeles locations.
“Michael Mann delivered a pilot from David Milch’s brilliant script that took our breath away,” said HBO’s programming president Michael Lombardo. “We are truly excited that these two artists, and our extraordinary cast headed by Dustin Hoffman, will be bringing Luck to life.”
The cast for the pilot, penned by Milch and directed by Mann, also includes Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Kevin Dunn, Richard Kind, Jason Gedrick, Ritchie Coster, Ian Hart, Tom Payne, Kerry Condon, Gary Stevens and Nick Nolte. Jill Hennessy guest stars. Milch, Mann and Carolyn Strauss execitive produce, with Henry Bronchtein co-executive producing and Hoffman producing.
Luck joins another high-profile new HBO drama series from a big filmmaker and a top TV writer, Martin Scorsese/Terence Winter’s Boardwalk Empire, which stars Steve Buscemi. The network also has two pilots from A-listers, Bill Condon’s Tilda, starring Diane Keaton, Jason Patric and Ellen Page, and John Logan/Kathryn Bigelow’s Miraculous Year starring Norbert Leo Butz, Hope Davis and Frank Langella.