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Open Road In Talks To Release JFK Pic ‘Parkland’, Eyeing Fall Release On 50th Anniversary Of Assassination

By | Friday January 25, 2013 @ 11:49am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is in final talks for domestic distribution on Parkland, a film that recounts the events that occurred at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on November 22, 1963. They are eyeing a release late this fall, around the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The film’s written and directed by Peter Landesman, the ex-foreign correspondent and scripter of films including the upcoming The Mission who makes his helming debut on the picture. It is based on Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy, the mammoth 1,632-page book by Helter Skelter author Vincent Bugliosi that meticulously debunked the conspiracy theories that later found their way into films like Oliver Stone’s JFK.

The book was originally set at HBO for a miniseries by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman in 2007 along with Bill Paxton, who at the time was starring in Playtone’s HBO series Big Love. Instead of taking on the assassination and the conspiracy theories in a mini, they and Landesman boiled this down to a smaller story that covers what happened at the hospital when the world was turned upside down by the business end of Lee Harvey Oswald’s sniper rifle. It was re-calibrated as an indie film that’s being co-financed by Exclusive Media and The American Film Company, the latter of which was hatched by entrepreneur Joe Ricketts to focus on telling American history tales. Pic stars Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron, Jeremy Strong, James Badge Dale, Jackie Earle Haley, Colin Hanks, David Harbour, and Ron Livingston. Read More »

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HBO In Ring With Playtone And Ken Burns For Miniseries On Fighter Jack Johnson

By | Thursday January 24, 2013 @ 6:06pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO has set Ides Of March screenwriter and playwright Beau Willimon to write Jack Johnson, a miniseries about the life of the first African-American world heavyweight champion. The mini teams Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman and historian and documentary director Ken Burns. To be told in four to six parts, the mini is based on the Geoffrey C. Ward book Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise And Fall Of Jack Johnson, which Burns previously adapted into the Emmy-winning PBS documentary of the same name. Burns is aboard to direct. Hanks and Goetzman are exec producers, and Burns is too. Willimon is co-exec producer.

In the early 20th Century, Johnson was the class of the heavyweight division, a proud man of color who paid a high price for it. The main problem: he twice married white women and did not hide it or the fact that he liked to live well. He surprised both whites and blacks when he was given a title shot by Canadian fighter Tommy Burns and beat him. He further shook up the white status quo by knocking out ex-champ James J. Jeffries, who’d refused to fight Johnson while he held the belt but came out of retirement to be touted by the press and racist whites as the “Great White Hope.” In the aftermath of Jeffries’ defeat, celebrations by African-Americans led … Read More »

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HBO Acquiring Philip Kerr ‘Berlin Noir’ Novels For Series

By | Friday April 13, 2012 @ 10:42am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are in early talks to acquire the Berlin Noir novel series by Philip Kerr. The plan is to develop this as a series that focuses on the police detective character Bernie Gunther in 1930s Germany, with the political climate and run-up to WWII and then the Cold War as the backdrop. Deal isn’t done yet, but I’m told that it will close. Numerous studios and producers pursued the property as a feature, but the author decided to go for a prestige series. He’s gone through enough development hell on the feature front on past books and HBO can point to enough successes like Game of Thrones to show the merits of an episodic adaptation of novels with storylines that span around 20 years. Playtone just produced the critically lauded Jay Roach-directed Sarah Palin pic Game Change, and after producing with Jann Wenner the 25th Anniversary of the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, Playtone is producing each annual induction ceremony that will air on HBO. CAA repped Kerr in the book deal.

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Playtone Setting Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’ For HBO Series

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: As HBO prepares to unveil its epic-sized series adaptation of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones this Sunday, the payweb has begun talks to acquire the Neil Gaiman novel American Gods to be developed into another fantasy series. The project was brought to HBO by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, and it was brought to them by Robert Richardson. The plan is for Richardson and Gaiman to write the pilot together.

Richardson is the renowned cinematographer who just completed Hugo Cabret and whose recent credits include Shutter Island, Inglourious Basterds and Kill Bill. He is a regular collaborator with directors that include Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino and Oliver Stone and has won Oscars for The Aviator and JFK. It is his first significant scripting effort. He’ll do it in collaboration with Gaiman, a fanboy god for works like The Sandman, whose script work includes Beowulf. His novels Stardust and Coraline have been turned into films, and Neil Jordan is directing an adaption of Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book.

American Gods, the 2002 book that won both the Stoker and Hugo Award among other prizes, lays out a battle between two sets of gods. One consists of the traditional gods and mythological creatures who got their power because people throughout history believed in them. They are losing steam as people’s beliefs wane and are in danger of being supplanted by a new set of gods who  reflect America’s preoccupation with technological … Read More »

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Universal Tuning Feature Version Of Green Day Stage Musical ‘American Idiot’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating to turn the Green Day-fueled Broadway musical American Idiot into a feature film. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning Milk scribe, is in talks to write the script, and Michael Mayer will direct. Mayer helmed the stage run of the musical, which is closing on Broadway April 24 and launching a tour in the fall. Black most recently scripted J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover.

The musical, which uses the songs of the punk band’s seminal 2004 album to tell the coming-of-age story of three small-town guys, was optioned before its opening last spring by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. They previously turned the stage hit Mamma Mia! into a Universal film. It is expected that Green Day lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong will be courted to play the role of the drug dealer St. Jimmy. Each time he did a stint in the role on Broadway, the grosses rose considerably at the St. James Theatre. The band was actively involved in the formation of the musical. Read More »

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The Aftermath Of The Emmy Top Longform Category Merger: Who Wins, Who Loses?

By | Friday February 25, 2011 @ 1:14am PST
Nellie Andreeva

For 34 years running, miniseries have been holding the record for most Emmy wins by a program in a single year: first Roots, then Angels in America, followed by current record holder John Adams. Now, following last night’s vote by the TV Academy, the storied TV genre will no longer have its own best program category as it is merging with best TV movie. The combined best TV movie/miniseries field is being expanded to 6 nominees.

There was no outcry today from producers and cable networks that make miniseries. Gary Goetzman from one of the biggest players in the genre, Playtone, which produced 3 Emmy winners for best miniseries, Band of Brothers, John Adams and The Pacific, took the news in stride. “I think they should merge all categories into one, best program of the year,” he quipped. “Just name the winner and we can all go and hit the bar.”

The board of the TV Academy was acting within its rulebook, which triggered the category consolidation because of the lack of qualifying minis in the past 2 years that led to only 2 getting nominated in the top category in both 2009 and 2010. Ironically, 2011 is shaping up to be stronger for miniseries than the last 2 years with 3 solid contenders: HBO’s Mildred Pierce, Sundance Channel’s co-production Carlos and Starz’s acquisition Pillars of the Earth.

So who are the winners and losers from the folding of the best miniseries … Read More »

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Producers Guild Releases Film & TV Noms

No less than comedy mogul Judd Apatow will host the 22nd annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony to be held on January 22nd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Additionally, the Guild will pay tribute to several individuals during the ceremony including: James Cameron (receiving the Milestone Award), Tom Hanks and his Playtone producing partner Gary Goetzman (receiving the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television), Scott Rudin (receiving the David O. Selznick Achievement Award in Theatrical Motion Pictures), Laura Ziskin (receiving the Visionary Award), and RealD (receiving the Vanguard Award). The 2011 Producers Guild Awards nominated films and television programs are listed below in alphabetical order by category, along with producers. The producers’ names listed for each nominated production are listed in alphabetical order and are not necessarily the proper order of credits.

The theatrical motion picture nominees are:

The Darryl F. Zanuck Award for Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures:
127 HOURS, Producers: Danny Boyle, Christian Colson
BLACK SWAN, Producers: Scott Franklin, Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver
INCEPTION, Producers: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
THE FIGHTER, Producers: David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT, Producers: Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray
THE KING’S SPEECH, Producers: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
THE SOCIAL NETWORK, Producers: Dana Brunetti, Ceán Chaffin, Michael De Luca, Scott Rudin
THE TOWN, Producers: Basil Iwanyk, Graham King
TOY STORY 3, Producer: Darla K. Anderson
TRUE GRIT, Producers: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin

The Award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures:
DESPICABLE ME, Producers: John Cohen, Janet Healy, Christopher Meledandri
HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, Producer: Bonnie Arnold
TOY STORY 3, Producer: Darla K. Anderson Read More »

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Tom Hanks And Gary Goetzman To Receive PGA’s Norman Lear Television Award

Nellie Andreeva

LOS ANGELES, CA (October 11, 2010) The Producers Guild of America announced today that the award-winning producing team, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman will receive the Producers Guild’s 2011 Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television.  The award will be presented to Hanks and Goetzman at the 22nd Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony on Saturday, January 22nd at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.  “Tom and Gary are extraordinarily talented producers who have changed the television landscape with extremely unique, award-winning programming,” said Paula Wagner, Chair of the 2011 Producers Guild Awards.

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Playtone, Reliance Go To ‘Electric City’

By | Friday October 1, 2010 @ 8:09am PDT
Mike Fleming

Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, who already had a first look deal to hatch film projects with India-based Reliance Big Entertainment, have expanded the relationship to the web with Electric City, a serial saga about a Sin City-like world that is so electricity-starved that the power gets shut off each night–and bad things happen in the dark. The plan is to make the storyline a multi-platform digital experience with an animated web series, online social game and mobile application.

Hanks only got into Twitter mode this year,  when he confirmed my first story break at Deadline, that he was directing and starring in Larry Crowne with Julia Roberts. But Playtone is very ambitious on the web front. I saw some footage of a test run of Electric City late last year, and it is cool atmospheric stuff with a lot of crime and action, and Hanks himself voicing the lead character. Reliance Big’s gaming arm Zapak will manage the whole project.

UPDATE On Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts Pic

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EMMYS BACKSTAGE: Tom Hanks & ‘Pacific’

Tom Hanks was beaming backstage after having picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries for his work producing the HBO 10-parter The Pacific, the $200 million-plus project that was the most expensive in TV history. Hanks, who with Playtone partner Gary Goetzman exec produced the mini with Steven Spielberg, began by expressing mock outrage that The Amazing Race didn’t win for top reality competition series. “What?” he screamed. “You’re kidding!” He then expressed his wish that more miniseries had been nominated, beyond The Pacific and the Masterpiece Theatre project Return to Cranford. “There are a lot of themes and stories for which miniseries is the perfect medium for them to be told,” Hanks said. “We are all storytellers, and this was a terrific story to be able to tell over the eight years it took to get it done. That’s the great thing about HBO. It isn’t standard television at all. They let us say and do what we wanted. There are no act breaks for commercials and no specific time frame. They give you absolute and total freedom to tell your story and explore your theme in the best way possible. If you have millions to spend, you’d sure as hell better come through or you’re in big trouble.” – Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s Emmy coverage.

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And In Other Hollywood Film Deals…

Mike Fleming

A roundup of what else happened today on the deal front: HBO and Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are determined to show the versatility of Paul Giamatti. He played American patriot John Adams in the miniseries that won 13 Emmys for Playtone and HBO. Now, they’ve got him playing Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev in K Blows Top, an adaption of the Peter Carlson book that is being scripted as a telepic by Paul Bernbaum. Project was brought Read More »

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