20th Century Fox Film chief creative officer Tony Sella isn’t formally out the door yet, as Deadline exclusively revealed yesterday, but his departure is already a sales tool in some Hollywood circles. “You fired Tony Sella, saved some money there,” quipped producer Mark Gordon last night at a charity auction to Fox production president Emma Watts in front of a crowd of powerplayers. Generating a brief giggle from some of those present, the remark from the PGA co-President came during a one-liner filled big ticket auction he was conducting Saturday at the An Evening Under The Stars gala fundraiser for the LA Gay & Lesbian Center at director Roland Emmerich’s house. Gordon went on to say “Tony’s a great guy” but still thought Watts could pony up some dough and successfully bid for one of the several item like 5 days in Emmerich’s London home or 5 days on his yacht off the coast of Thailand that were on the block to raise money for the Center. She declined. Along With Emmerich, Gordon and Watts, CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Glee/American Horror Story boss Ryan Murphy, Independence Day co-writer Dean Devlin, X-Men director Bryan Singer, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, HBO’s Michael Lombardo, Criminal Minds/Teen Wolf producer Jeff Davis, Scandal actor and writer Dan Bucatinsky and actress …
EXCLUSIVE: Mark Roybal, the well-respected president of Steven Rales’ indie production shingle Indian Paintbrush, is leaving. He is being hired by 20th Century Fox production president Emma Watts to become EVP Production. He fills the slot that Peter Kang left when he exited the studio and subsequently signed on at Paramount. I’m told that Roybal will oversee Gone Girl and the Matt Reeves-directed sequel Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Gone Girl, an adaptation of the Gillian Flynn bestseller, is the odds-on favorite to be the next film that David Fincher directs.
He leaves Rales’ Indian Paintbrush in a good place. The company has established itself as a respected financier and producer of classy fare, from the Drake Doremus-directed Like Crazy to the Wes Anderson-directed Moonrise Kingdom and his follow-up The Grand Budapest Hotel. Also coming is Jason Reitman’s next film, Labor Day. Roybal’s exit is amicable.
EXCLUSIVE: In the first overall filmmaker deal that 20th Century Fox Film has made since Jim Gianopulos became a solo act as Chairman/CEO, the studio has signed Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig to produce and direct films under his Feigco Entertainment banner. What Gianopulos and production president Emma Watts want from Feig is to get the studio squarely in the R-rated comedy business, a genre that continues to flourish in the marketplace.
Feig has given what the studio considers a strong R-rated laffer in The Heat. Releasing in April, the raucous comedy stars Sandra Bullock as an uptight FBI agent and Bridesmaids scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy as a foul-mouthed Boston cop. They team to take down a drug lord. Feig directed the female buddy cop film, and produced along with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin.
The goal is to take advantage of a burgeoning audience that has made Todd Phillips’ The Hangover series a global juggernaut and established the Seth MacFarlane-directed Ted as the top-grossing R-rated comedy ever in the international marketplace. MacFarlane, through Family Guy, is a Fox fixture, and while he made his feature directing debut for MRC and Universal, it’s clear that things are changing at Fox and that keeping strong directors in the fold is a big priority. Feig, who created the Emmy-winning cult fave series Freaks And Geeks, will generate comedies with established …
20th Century Fox Production President Emma Watts Reups Through 2015; Sets Matthew Vaughn For ‘X-Men: First Class’ Sequel
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has re-upped production president Emma Watts to a new multi-year deal that will keep her in the post through 2015. The new deal was made by Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, co-chairmen and CEOs of Fox Filmed Entertainment. Since taking over as sole production president in 2009, Watts has made it a priority to populate the studio’s slates with elite filmmakers, and keep them coming back for more. The studio in past years had the reputation of being very hands-on. That kept budgets in check, but didn’t make Fox a haven for major directors.
Twentieth Century Fox today announced the creation of an in-house program dedicated to the development of emerging writers, new voices, and varied motion picture concepts. It will report to President of Production Emma Watts. ”This initiative will be dedicated to the creation of original ideas (not rewrites of existing scripts or the development of library titles) from emerging writers,’ Fox said, noting that the program will hire the writers, coordinate relationships with producers, and supervise the development process of ideas generated. Fve writers in comedy and action/adventure will be hired initially. ”We have great hopes for this program,” Watts said in a statement. “The goal for this enterprise is to create a place where original ideas are generated and where new writers can feel supported to do their best work.” The initiative will be overseen by both Steve Tzirlin, former VP of development at Lucasfilm Ltd, who will spearhead action/adventure development, and Nicky Weinstock, formerly EVP of comedy development for the movie side of Chernin Entertainment, who will focus on laugher development.
Tzerlin was with Lucasfilm for the last five years, working directly with George Lucas and Rick McCallum on live-action television, film, video game, and animation projects. At Lucasfilm, Tzirlin focused on sourcing emerging writing and directing talent from around the world and as an entrepreneurial producer worked on projects in the works across various media.
But what I don’t understand is why the studio hired Weinstock. Anyone who knows Nicky knows he’s all talk and little action. And that he’s only in business for …
EXCLUSIVE: Days after Little Brown closed a million dollar publishing deal on it last week, 20th Century Fox acquired screen rights to Matthew Quirk’s first novel The Five Hundred. The movie deal was worth low-to-mid six figures against low seven figures, I’m told. The book is described as The Firm, set in politics.
The Five Hundred revolves around Mike Ford, a young man from the wrong side of the tracks who works his way through Harvard Law and is recruited by the most powerful PR/consulting firm in DC. He becomes the protege of of the firm’s founder, who has his hooks into the 500 most powerful people in politics. The protege soon feels that he’s sold his soul to his ruthless mentor. The book will be published by Reagan Arthur’s Little Brown imprint, in a two-book deal. They hope the protagonist will grow into a franchise character. Several screen suitors chased it before before Fox executives Peter Kang and Emma Watts closed the deal Friday. They’ve yet to assign a producer to The Five Hundred.
Quirk spent five years at The Atlantic, reporting on crime, private military contractors, terrorism and drugs. The deal was made by Justin Manask for lit rep Shawn Coyne of Genre Management.
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has acquired an untitled action adventure pitch that will be scripted by Lost‘s Carlton Cuse for Hugh Jackman to star in and Shawn Levy to direct. Levy’s 21 Laps Entertainment banner will produce.
While Cuse has done uncredited writing on two Lethal Weapon sequels and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, this is the first feature script he’ll write since Lost ended its run. Cuse was the drama’s longtime show runner and executive producer.
Levy and Jackman just teamed for DreamWorks in Real Steel, which Disney will release on October 7. Both have deep ties to Fox. Levy’s 21 Laps is based there, and Jackman’s Seed Productions had a Fox deal until he and partner John Palermo decided to split so Jackman could focus on acting. Jackman is currently prepping to star in The Wolverine, the sequel to the X-Men spinoff that is being directed by Oscar-nominated Black Swan helmer Darren Aronofsky. Levy directed Night at the Museum and Date Night at Fox. Fox prexy Emma Watts and Steven Puri are steering the potential tent pole for Fox with 21 Laps’ Billy Rosenberg and Dan Cohen. Jackman , Levy and Cuse are repped by WME.
20th Century Fox has hired Red Hour partner Jeremy Kramer to be EVP of production. He will report to Emma Watts, president of production. Kramer joined Ben Stiller and Stuart Cornfeld at Red Hour in 2007, where he is currently producing the Ruben Fleischer-directed comedy 30 Minutes or Less with Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari and Nick Swardson. Kramer is an exec producer on the David Frankel-directed The Big Year, the Fox 2000 comedy which stars Jack Black, Owen Wilson and Steve Martin. He started as an indie producer on the Noah Baumbach-directed Kicking and Screaming, and served stints at MPCA, Miramax Films and DreamWorks. At DreamWorks he worked closely with Red Hour on Tropic Thunder and The Ruins before joining Stiller and Cornfeld at their Fox-based shingle.
“I’m thrilled to be at Fox and to work with Emma and her team,” Kramer said. “Not only do I get to return to the studio world, but at Fox I can continue my close collaboration with Ben and Stuart at Red Hour.”
Said Watts: “Jeremy has an excellent track record — particularly within the comedy arena — and he has a deep bench of relationships within the industry, which is testament to the way he conducts his business… We are lucky to have him joining us.”