LOS ANGELES – July 1, 2013 – Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment is expanding its development teams in both television and features with Stacey Levin being named Senior Vice President of Television, the addition of Meredith Ditlow as Director of Development and the upping of Phillip Kobylanski to Creative Executive.Levin joined Valhalla in August of 2012 and has played an integral part in Valhalla’s current development slate, including period drama Horizon for the USA Network, which begins production this summer. Additional series set up since Levin joined the company include Crash and Burn at FX, Alien Hunter at SyFy, and projects at USA, E!, AMC, A&E, History, Discovery and NBC. READ MORE »
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s conference coverage.
The Walking Dead exec producer Gale Anne Hurd admitted this afternoon that one of the hazards of her job is receiving death threats from the rabid fan base of smash hit AMC zombie drama when it dares to kill off a character. “That’s one of the dirty little secrets of social media,” she admitted during a session at the Produced By conference on the Fox lot. “The fans so identify with the characters that if you kill them off… well, first they’re in denial. It’s really the stages of grief. They say, ‘That gunshot off camera, they aren’t really dead, they’re coming back.’ And then they get angry. They threaten to hunt you down. They don’t understand the difference between reality and fantasy.”
For the most part, however, the experience of being the highest-rated drama in cable history is a far more rewarding and less dangerous experience, Hurd and her fellow panelists agreed. She was joined at the event by Walking Dead exec producer David Alpert; Sharon Tal Yguado, EVP of global scripted programming and original development for Fox International Channels; and Marci Wiseman, SVP of business affairs for AMC. They discussed the how the show originally and famously was rejected at the pilot stage by NBC. Alpert recalled how when the comic book rights were sold to NBC in 2005, the network told him, “We want to do something totally different.” He remembered, “When they passed, I said, ‘But I thought you wanted to do something totally different.’ They said, ‘We do. We just don’t want to do a zombie show.’ That was one of the more frustrating things.”
USA Network unveiled its drama development slate today and said it will start production this summer on the pilot Horizon, the period genre drama from The Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd that the network pushed in February. The new slate (see the full list below) includes Complications, the latest from Burn Notice‘s Matt Nix; the new Rob Thomas project Blanco County; and works from Doug Liman and David Semel. The news comes on the heels of the network’s newest original series, the Jeff Eastin-created Graceland, joining the summer drama schedule with a premiere set for June 6.
LOS ANGELES, CA (March 27, 2013) – The Producers Guild of America (PGA) announced today the initial slate of speakers confirmed to participate in the 5th annual Produced By Conference (PBC). Director and producer J.J. Abrams, producer Mark Burnett, actor and producer Tom Cruise and producer Gale Anne Hurd will participate as featured speakers joining a prestigious list of acclaimed producers and industry leaders in entertainment and digital media. The 2013 Produced By Conference will be hosted by 20th Century Fox Studios on June 8-9.
2013 PBC speakers include some of the entertainment and digital industries’ most renowned producers and visionaries. In alphabetical order:
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline Contributor.
Diehard zombie fans were out in force for the first night of PaleyFest 2013 thanks to the festival-opening The Walking Dead panel moderated by Nerdist impressario and Talking Dead host Chris Hardwick. Perhaps that’s why Hardwick erred on the side of devoted fanboy rather than penetrating interviewer, giving the event more of a Comic-Con panel feel. Cast members Andrew Lincoln (Rick), Dania Gurira (Michonne), Laurie Holden (Andrea), Scott Wilson (Hershel), Emily Kinney (Beth), Norman Reedus (Daryl), and Steven Yeun (Glenn) were joined by series creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman and his co-executive producers Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero and David Alpert for a occasionally salty, consistently hilarious discussion that avoided any hint of controversy.
EXCLUSIVE: FX has put in development Crash And Burn, a drama project from The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and Universal Cable Prods. It is written by Jeffrey Lieber (Necessary Roughness) and loosely inspired by the non-fiction book The Full Burn by Kevin Conley. Crash And Burn tells the story of Doc Dixon, a man trying to survive as a Stuntman during the anything goes world of pre-computer-generation, post Vietnam San Fernando Valley, California. He’s trying to save his family, hold together his union, and live to see 50… all with the understanding that if his work doesn’t kill him… the weekends probably will. This marks UCP’s first project for FX.
‘Walking Dead’ EP Gale Anne Hurd Q&A On Glen Mazzara’s Departure, The Series’ Return & ‘Downton Abbey’
You could call her the Queen of the Dead. Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd has been with the AMC zombie apocalypse show from the very beginning, through its behind the scenes up and downs and its record breaking ratings results this past year. After a more than two-month break, The Walking Dead is back Sunday for eight more episodes of its third season. Hurd spoke with Deadline about the show’s return, the sudden exit last year of showrunner Glen Mazzara and how Dead comic creator and show EP Robert Kirkman feels about the detours the series takes from the comics. The seasoned producer also talks about the possibility of a Walking Dead movie and the similarities between her show and its fellow Sunday night airer Downton Abbey.
Deadline: OK. That’s very similar to what he has said. With Glen having left, are we are going to see any difference in the show with Scott Gimple taking over the showrunner job?
Hurd: I don’t think there will be any difference. We have the same writers’ room who’ll be contributing to all the episodes as we had before. We have Greg Nicotero and Robert Kirkman and producer Dave Alpert are still very strong voices. So I don’t think you’ll see a shift at all.
Big news for fans of Japanese anime, and the business behind it. Toei Animation — Japan’s largest animation production company — plans a major foray into the U.S. market with a live action film, Gaiking, based on a world-famous anime character universe. This also represents the first development deal for All Nippon Entertainment Works, a public-private partnership designed to help the country’s entertainment producers expand across the globe. They’re teaming up with Valhalla Entertainment (which developed and produces AMC’s The Walking Dead) which will develop and co-produce the film derived from a series about a young man who pilots a super-robot — which in this case must save the world from alien invaders. “Gaiking has long been one of the most beloved giant robot animation franchises with a global fan base,” says Toei Animation’s Yoshi Ikezawa. The company wants the feature film “to be the first of many more to come from Toei’s large stable” of properties. There’s no release date yet. The backers plan to target the fanboy and fangirl audience that turned out for hits such as Marvel’s The Avengers and Paramount’s Transformers.
Eight years after the debut of its last sci-fi show, miniseries-turned-series 4400, USA Network is re-entering the genre space with Horizon, a cast-contingent drama pilot from The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd.
Set during the height of World War II, Horizon centers on a secretary at the FBI who discovers that her husband might have been killed in a battle with a spaceship in the South Pacific. Obsessed with learning the truth, she becomes the only person standing between Earth and an alien invasion. Bridget Tyler (Burn Notice) wrote the script and will co-executive produce for Universal Cable Prods. and Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment, which has a deal at the studio. “Horizon is our first genre piece since The 4400 and the first ever period drama for the network,” said USA Network co-presidents Jeff Wachtel and Chris McCumber. “This signals the next step in the evolution of our programming brand.”
Thursday night one of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ most important events, the 27th Annual Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting named five 2012 fellows to an impressive honor roll that has included writers who eventually penned such films as Little Miss Sunshine, Children Of Men, Twilight, The Bourne Identity, Butter and many television shows including this year’s Emmy winner Homeland. The ceremony at the Regent Beverly Wilshire was opened by Academy CEO Dawn Hudson who announced that these finalists came from a massive 7,197 submissions. “I hope this is the last time you go up against that many people in your career”, she said before introducing producer Gale Anne Hurd, an Academy Governor who heads the Nicholl selection committee.
When the Nicholl fellowships started in 1986 there were only 99 entries but obviously word has gotten out that it’s a good place to be seen if you want a screenwriting career. Hurd pointed out that some 80 feature films written by these writers the Academy program has discovered over the past 27 years have earned $5.37 billion theatrically. She thanked the 173 volunteers from the Academy membership who judged the scripts.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC has teamed with The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd for 11th Commandment, a series adaptation of UK author Jeffrey Archer’s 1998 novel The Eleventh Commandment. British writer Patrick Harbinson (Person Of Interest, 24) is writing the script for the project, produced by Universal Cable Prods., where Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment is under a deal. 11th Commandment centers on Connor Fitzgerald, who has been leading a secret life as the CIA’s most deadly assassin when he decides to pull back to spend more time with his wife and family. But his worlds are about to collide when he is set up by someone within the CIA for an assassination he didn’t commit. “This is a fantastic character-driven story of an assassin who in the employ of the U.S. government,” Hurd said.
The project originated a year ago when Valhalla teamed with Canada’s New Franchise Media, which owns rights Archer’s novel, to develop a series adaptation. Hurd took the project to UCP when she signed a pod deal there in April and Harbinson was brought in to write. Harbinson and Hurd will executive produce with Jeffrey Steiner, CEO/owner of New Franchise Media.
EXCLUSIVE: Route One Films has acquired rights to The Nameless from Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment. The action thriller is set in a top-secret facility that houses witnesses awaiting new identities. When the area’s location is compromised, …
EXCLUSIVE: Gale Anne Hurd’s Valhalla Entertainment has inked an exclusive pod deal with Universal Cable Prods. This marks the first overall TV deal for Valhalla, which will develop and produce projects for both cable and broadcast networks, including UCP’s NBCUniversal siblings USA and Syfy. The agreement builds on the success Valhalla has had with its first primetime series, AMC’s smash The Walking Dead, which Hurd executive produces. Under the deal, Hurd and her executives will work with UCP’s development team — SVPs Richard Rothstein, Chris Sanagustin and Maira Suro — who oversee the studio’s development for USA, Syfy and external networks, respectively. The trio noted that Valhalla “shares our creative commitment, passion for great stories and desire to produce efficiently.” Hurd, who has not worked with USA and Syfy, pointed to UCP’s decision last year to expand into producing for broadcast in addition to cable. “We have double the opportunity to create a diverse slate of projects,” she said.
Although they are certainly best known for those other awards they hand out in February, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences do a lot more throughout the year. One of its prized events happened Thursday evening at a dinner at the Beverly Wilshire, where the 26th annual Don and Gee Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowships were awarded to what Academy president Tom Sherak described as the “Academy’s Magnificent 7.”
The Nicholl Fellowships were established in 1985 and are now chaired (and hosted) by new Academy governor Gale Anne Hurd, who told me she’s been on the Nicholl committee since 1989. Each of the writing fellows (or teams) will receive a $35,000 prize in order to continue developing their scripts (checks are handed out in installments with the understanding that the recipients will complete a feature-length screenplay during their fellowship year), and the Academy is not involved otherwise commercially with the scripts in any way and holds no rights to them. Even with the Oscars in the mix, Sherak opened the program by saying: “This is my favorite event. It’s nights like this that I wish I were an agent. You want to sign every one of them.” He added these few winners were chosen from among a record 6,730 entries by the 24 judges and committee members who read everything.
It was quite a night that also included a rousing keynote address from David Seidler, this year’s reigning Best Original Screenplay winner for The King’s Speech and “new Academy member” at age 74. At the reception before the dinner, I asked Seidler how the Oscar has changed his life at this age. He joked, “Producers now owe me more, but it takes them longer.” Seidler is red-hot, though, having completed two new scripts over the summer and now embarking on two rewrites. He asked me who I thought was the front-runner to win Original Screenplay this year and I suggested probably Woody Allen for Midnight In Paris. “Well, he has me beat then,” Seidler said. Allen at 76 would usurp Seidler as the oldest winner ever in that category, meaning that Seidler’s record could be short-lived. His speech, which he said was working on right to the last minute, won over the crowd and certainly provided inspiration for the writers in attendance.
Beverly Hills, CA – Cinematographer Richard P. Crudo, producer Gale Anne Hurd, composer David Newman, and film editor Michael Tronick make up this year’s first-time electees to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Board of Governors. In addition, seven incumbents were reelected and three other motion picture professionals will return to the Board after a time away. The reelected governors are Craig Barron, Visual Effects; Annette Bening, Actors; Don Hall, Sound; Jeffrey Kurland, Art Directors; John Lasseter, Short Films and Feature Animation; Robert Rehme, Executives; and Phil Robinson, Writers.
Returning to the board after a hiatus are Michael Apted, Documentary; Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Public Relations; and Paul Mazursky, Directors. Apted previously served from 2002 to 2009. Isaacs served from 1988 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2009. Mazursky was on the board from 1997 to 2000 and again from 2006 to 2009.