Starz will develop an adaptation of FremantleMedia North America’s Neil Gaiman urban fantasy novel American Gods. Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller and The River and Heroes executive producer Michael Green will write the pilot and showrun the series. The 2001 novel, which has been translated into more than 30 languages, and centers on a looming war between the traditional gods of biblical and mythological roots and the upstart pantheon of gods who stand for society’s fixation with money, technology, media, celebrity and drugs. The story’s main character, Shadow Moon, is an ex-con who becomes bodyguard and traveling partner to Mr. Wednesday, a conman and older god. Both set on a cross-country mission to gather forces in preparation to battle the new deities.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Wesley Snipes, ITV’s ‘The Chase’, Unifrance, Syfy’s ‘Defiance’, Berlin Retro, BBC-Fremantle, ‘The Raid 2′
Wesley Snipes Comeback Effort Kicks Off With ‘Gallowwalkers’
In advance of the former action star’s impending release from federal prison, Wesley Snipes is trying to get back into the game with the announcement that Gallowwalkers, the long-in-development action/sci-fi/horror film directed by Andrew Goth, will be shown to international buyers at the 2013 Berlin film market. Gallowwalkers features Snipes in the role of Aman, a cursed gunslinger whose victims return from the dead to torment him. The film, which began production in 2006, will have its market premiere February 8. Gallowwalkers also stars Riley Smith, Tanit Phoenix and Patrick Bergin. It is executive produced and produced by Jack Bowyer (Dark Hearts, Private Peaceful) and produced by Courtney Lauren Penn (Dark Hearts), and Brandon Burrows (Darks Hearts) of Boundless Pictures. VMI International is handling sales at Berlin. - Ross Lincoln
ITV Orders 300 More Episodes of ‘The Chase’
The UK’s ITV has renewed popular daytime game show The Chase with what is believed to be the network’s biggest order ever — more than 300 episodes over 2 seasons. The ITV Studios-produced show, which this week was named Broadcast magazine’s Best Daytime Programme, airs daily at 5 PM and has boosted the time-slot average by 1.1 million viewers, a 39% gain vs. last year.
Fremantle Reboots ‘Universal Soldier’; Hires ‘National Treasure’ Creator To Pen Treasure Caper TV Series
MIPCOM: Those of you who cheered when Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren went mano-a-mano in Roland Emmerich’s 1992 sci-flick Universal Soldier will be pleased to know that it is being rebooted as a TV series. Damian Kindler (Stargate, Sanctuary) is writing the show, which will be produced by FremantleMedia North America, the U.S. arm of the London-based TV producer. Allen Shapiro and Craig Baumgarten, who produced the original movie, will be executive producers. Shapiro is currently chairman of TV Guide Network and was a founder of Mosaic Media Group, while Baumgarten’s movie credits include Hook and Shattered Glass. Baumgarten has a long track record as a studio executive including stints at Paramount, Columbia, Fox and Lorimar.
Meanwhile, Fremantle has hired Charles Segars, creator and exec producer of both National Treasure movies, to create Blood & Treasure (working title), a TV drama series about two brothers who go around the world solving crimes and unearthing some of the world’s greatest secrets — kind of cops-meet-The Da Vinci Code. Rob Wright (Law & Order) has written the series bible and first hour-long episode. Fremantle Media Enterprises, the producer’s rights arm, will be coaxing international buyers at MIPCOM. Blood & Treasure comes out of FME’s first-look deal with U.S. TV producer Landscape Entertainment (Medical Investigation).
EXCLUSIVE: NBC and Fremantle have chosen their hosts for their big budget game show pilot, Catch. NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and comedian Michael Kosta will host along with newcomer, Rob Gleeson. The unscripted project, which involves contestants playing a complex version of the game “catch”, could be aimed as a competitive vehicle for the Endemol-produced ABC hit, Wipeout. Former wide receiver Jerry Rice won three Super Bowl rings for the San Francisco 49ers and played in the Pro Bowl 13 times. He’s previously appeared in competition shows including Spike’s Pros Vs Joes and Fox’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics. Kosta, repped by ROAR and WME, is a regular on the LA comedy circuit with credits that include The Tonight Show and Chelsea Lately. His first comedy special will air January 21st as the premiere installment of the Comedy Central Presents series. Gleeson, repped by New Wave, is an 23 year old comedian who began performing in his hometown of Denver at 18.
The British children’s rights company, whose kids’ properties include the Nick Jr show Olivia, is set to bid for Thomas the Tank Engine. The bidding process has yet to begin though. Apax Partners, the private equity company which hopes to sell Thomas by spring 2011, wants $700 million (£440 million) for Thomas, according to the Daily Telegraph. That’s double what Apax paid for the children’s property back in 2005, I’m told. When Apax last tried to sell Thomas to Disney it wanted $800 million for the little engine, one insider tells me. Disney walked away. Other potential buyers include Disney (again) or a big independent TV producer/distributor like Fremantle, which wants to get into the children’s TV market.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox, Fremantle, and 19 Entertainment are locking in their American Idol judges with each passing day. But I’ve learned that the show really wanted but didn’t snag the best judge possible — David Geffen. My sources say that, about 4 months ago, Idol producer Simon Fuller of 19 Entertainment first approached the one time founder of both Asylum Records (Jackson Browne, The Eagles, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Linda Ronstadt) and Geffen Records (Donna Summer, John Lennon, Elton John, Cher, Aerosmith, Peter Gabriel, Guns N’ Roses, Lifehouse, Nirvana) and former principal of DreamWorks SKG. The two men met twice, and Fuller tried his best to talk Geffen into taking the judging gig left vacant by Simon Cowell. I hear the multibillionaire who rarely gives interviews or appears on television asked Fuller perplexed: “Why should I do this?”
As soon as Cowell announced his departure from Idol to bring his own music show The X Factor to Fox, the network and 19 and Fremantle sought a new judge who was a music mogul, like Tommy Mottola, Guy Oseary, and Jimmy Iovine. But Geffen would have trumped them all. “It would have been his if he’d wanted it,” a source tells me. “Because Cowell is a bad imitation of David.” I couldn’t agree more: Geffen would have been a natural: he’s often brutally honest, he is a legendary talent spotter, and he’s forgotten more about the music biz than Cowell will ever know in a lifetime. …