QED International and Groundswell Productions have joined forces for Birth Of The Dragon, which will focus on Bruce Lee’s career-defining 1965 no-holds-barred TKO battle with kung fu master Wong Jack Man. Written by Oscar nominees Christopher Wilkinson and Stephen Rivele, the film focuses on the Oakland fight that launched Lee to martial arts stardom, which happened against the backdrop of the Hong Kong Triads’ criminal control of San Francisco’s Chinatown. The film will also detail a team-up between the two legends to take on the Triads. The fight with Jack Man was the last official one of Lee’s career before he headed into acting, competition and building his martial arts philosophy. “We’re excited to retell the fantastic origin story of the world’s most famous martial arts icon, which in the hands of Christopher and Stephen, lends itself to an action thriller we’re sure will enthrall movie fans around the world,” QED’s Bill Block said in a statement Tuesday. QED is financing the movie. The film will be produced by Block, Groundswell Productions CEO Michael London, Wilkinson and Rivele, and executive produced by Groundswell’s Kelly Mullen. Wilkinson and Rivele, who worked on Oliver Stone’s Nixon and Michael Mann’s Ali, also wrote the Mercury biopic about Queen frontman Freddie Mercury that Sasha Baron Cohen is set to star in for GK Films.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO Films has hired war correspondent-turned-documentary filmmaker Greg Barker to helm A Rope And A Prayer, a film about the kidnapping by the Taliban of two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times foreign correspondent David Rohde. Rohde wrote the book with his wife Kristen Mulvihill, a photo editor at Cosmopolitan Magazine. They had only been married two months when Rohde was taken into captivity by the Taliban in 2008 en route to an interview with a Taliban leader, in Afghanistan. She banged on the door of every journalist, politician and even the Taliban to try and free him. HBO also acquired Rohde’s five-part series written for the newspaper shortly after he and an Afghan colleague used a car tow line to drop from a wall and escape.
Michelle Ashford, whose credits include HBO’s The Pacific, is writing the script. Michael London and Janice Williams will produce for Groundswell Productions. Barker, who directed the docus Koran By Heart and Sergio for HBO, is repped by Gersh and Parallax Talent Management. ICM brokered the deal for Rohde and The New York Times.
With their Nashville pilot Outlaw Country heating up for a series pickup at FX, Josh Goldin and Rachel Abramowitz have sold a second drama project to NBC. The legal drama, titled Major Crimes, hails from Sony Pictures TV and producer Michael London (Milk), who is executive producing through his Groundswell Prods. Described as “ER in the LA prosecutor’s office,” Major Crimes is set in the world of young ADAs in a Los Angeles downtown court building. Moving at a bullet pace, the show focuses on an ensemble cast of massively overworked ADAs falling in love, battling their own demons and ambitions, while seeking out justice on the run. Goldin and Abramowitz are co-writing/executive producing the project, which came out of the extensive research the two did in the court offices in downtown LA. Major Crimes joins two other recently announced Groundswell series projects: A Visit From The Goon Squad at HBO and Magicians at Fox through 20th TV. Abramowitz and Goldin, who previously ventured into the legal genre with the Lifetime movie One Angry Juror, are with CAA & Media Talent; London is with CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: Days after closing a deal for The Expendables 2, Arnold Schwarzenegger is in talks to star in Captive, an action thriller that is out to directors with the intention of shooting next year. Emmett/Furla Films is financing the picture, and Randall Emmett and George Furla are producing with Groundswell’s Michael London. Benjamin van der Veen and Kario Salem wrote the script from a story by Nicolai Fuglsig. Fuglsig was originally going to direct but stepped out, and he will be exec producer with Eva Maria Daniels. Schwarzenegger is in early talks to play an American real estate magnate living in Brazil who is kidnapped and held for ransom. As he frantically searches for a way out of his armored-truck prison cell hidden in a Sao Paolo landfill, a detective specializing in kidnap and ransom cases works to find him. Emmett/Furla earlier today announced a $250 million film fund with cash coming from Envision Entertainment. Schwarzenegger is starring in the Kim Jee-Woon-directed action film Last Stand, his first major film job after leaving as California governor and weathering a subsequent paternity scandal. Schwarzenegger is repped by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: House executive producer Katie Jacobs is teaming with Groundswell Productions to adapt Kevin Michael Connolly’s memoir Double Take into a feature film. Jacobs plans to direct the movie, which is now out to writers. Michael London’s Groundswell is financing development. Connolly is a photographer, X-Games ski champion and skateboarder who was born without legs. While traveling in Europe in his early 20s, he began taking photos of people who were staring at him — turning the watchers into the watched. The photos became a traveling exhibit that also has appeared at the Smithsonian. Jacobs, repped by CAA and Management 360, has been with Fox’s House since it began in also is developing Sheila Weller’s novel Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon — And the Journey of a Generation at Sony with Lorenzo DiBonaventura producing. John Sayles is adapting the book for Jacobs to direct.