EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain writers Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana have teamed with Super Size Me documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock for a drama series project set up at HBO. The project, described as a big-canvas Texas political drama, is based on an idea by Spurlock, who, along with manager-producer Larry Shuman, approached McMurtry and Ossana. McMurtry and Ossana have written a script for the project, which they are executive producing for Fox TV Studios. Spurlock and Shuman are executive producing through their shingles, Warrior Poets and the Shuman Co., respectively, with McMurtry and Ossana’s manager Adam Shulman, Jennifer Berman and Warrior Poets’ Jeremy Chilnick also expected to produce.
On the feature side, McMurtry and Ossana are writing two major period Westerns for Scott Free, The Color of Lightning for Ridley Scott to direct at 20th Century Fox, and an adaptation of S. C. Gwynne’s book Empire of the Summer Moon for Warner Bros. with Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper attached to direct. McMurtry won a Pulitzer for his novel Lonesome Dove, which was made into a hit miniseries. UTA-repped McMurtry and Ossana adapted the Lonesome Dove prequel Comanche Moon into a 6-episode miniseries and have developed a couple of TV projects at the broadcast networks. Spurlock, repped CAA and the Arlook Group, exec produced and starred … Read More »
Sundance: Universal Pictures Funding WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Docu By Alex Gibney And Ex-Uni Chairman Marc Shmuger
EXCLUSIVE: Julian Assange might be getting the HBO film treatment. A movie about the controversial WikiLeaks founder is in early development at HBO Films. HBO is in discussions with frequent collaborator BBC about co-producing together the film, whose source material would include Raffi Khatchadourian’s June 7, 2010, article in The New Yorker No Secrets: Julian Assange’s Mission for Total Transparency. The article was an in-depth look at Julian Assange and follows him and his Wikileaks operatives as they prepare to leak a 38 minute classified video filmed from inside of the cockpit of an U.S. Army Apache Helicopter.
The film project is being executive producer by Joshua Maurer and Alixandre Witlin of City Entertainment and David Stern of KippSter Entertainment who had optioned the article. Assange could not be hotter in Hollywood at the moment. Oscar-winning documentary director Alex Gibney just signed with Universal Pictures to do a documentary about the Australian. HBO has not shied away from controversial figures as subjects of its original movies. Last year, it aired the Jack Kevorkian biopic You Don’t Know Jack, which earned star Al Pacino an Emmy and Golden Globe awards. Khatchadourian is with UTA.
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated writer Kenneth Lonergan has come on board to pen Taxi-22, HBO’s adaptation of the hit French Canadian single-camera comedy executive produced by James Gandolfini and developed as a potential starring vehicle for the Sopranos star through his Attaboy Films production company. Lonergan replaces Dave Flebotte who was originally tapped to write the adaptation. Taxi-22, which centers on a politically incorrect cab driver in New York City struggling to keep his life together, marks the TV debut of Lonergan, a playwright and feature writer-director who earned Oscar nominations for writing his first movie, You Can Count on Me, and co-writing Gangs of New York. Gandolfini and Lonergan are executive producing with Nancy Sanders, Mark Armstrong, Clark Peterson, Dennis Erdman and the creators of the original show Patrick Huard and Francois Flamand. Huard, a top Canadian comedian, also stars on the Canadian series. Erdman and Peterson licensed the format rights from Huard and Flamand and brought the project to HBO and Gandolfini. Lonergan’s comedy writing experience include co-writing Analyze This and writing The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.
EXCLUSIVE: It’s ladies’ season at HBO as the pay cable network is putting in development another high-profile project fronted by a top comedic actress. HBO just picked up a comedy from veteran Simpsons writer-producer Tim Long with Molly Shannon attached to star. The untitled comedy would star the Saturday Night Live alumna as a nun who makes the difficult decision to leave the convent and confront life in the outside world. Shannon’s character became a nun after getting her heart broken at 18. Now she is an utterly innocent woman in her early 40s who has never had sex and has to discover the modern world in all of its tawdriness. “It’s James Joyce meets Judd Apatow – a female 40-Year-Old Virgin with a huge dollop of Catholic weirdness thrown in,” Long said. Shannon, of course, knows a thing or two about playing offbeat characters of the Catholic faith having played awkward school girl Mary Katherine Gallagher on SNL. The show will also showcase Shannon’s singing talent. It “will be outrageously funny – it’s Molly Shannon, for crying out loud — but it’ll also be a serious look at a woman who’s 40 but emotionally still in her teens and who needs to get wise very quickly,” Long said. The show is not going to shy away from thorny issues such as religion and sexuality, which was a main reason for Long and Shannon to take it to HBO. Long will be writing the project, which he is executive producing with Shannon and her manager Steven Levy of Framework. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Clyde Phillips has set up his first post-Dexter project. After a bidding war among several cable networks, HBO has landed a character-driven drama from Phillips and Lionsgate TV based on the Israeli series The Naked Truth. Phillips, who spent 4 years at Showtime running Dexter, will write the adaptation and will executive produce the project, his first under the 2-year overall deal with Lionsgate TV he signed in June. The Naked Truth is set in a major East Coast metropolitan precinct and follows the officers investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl from a prominent family in the pressure cooker atmosphere of an explosive high-profile case that has implications not just for the family of the victim, but for the cops themselves and the political infrastructure of the city. “It’s about the cops encountering people on the worst day of the citizens’ life,” Phillips said. “It’s a bit of an exploration of the middle class and the challenges we all face; it’s a heartbreaking story about a family in a time of crisis and how everyone deals with it.” Read More »
After recreating Prohibition era Atlantic City in Boardwalk Empire, HBO is looking to resurrect Cold War era Berlin in a new spy drama project from Boardwalk executive producers Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg, New Yorker writer/best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell and film/TV writer Charles Randolph (The Interpreter). Set in Cold War Berlin, the untitled project, to be written by Randolph, centers on a missionary who becomes involved in the CIA. Gladwell and Randolph, who are friends, had been working on an idea for a spy project when they met with Levinson and Wahlberg who had also been looking to do a spy drama. The four joined forces and took the joint project to HBO where Levinson and Wahlberg have deep ties as producers of 4 series, Boardwalk, Entourage, In Treatment and How to Make It In America. Randolph, Gladwell, Levinson and Wahlberg will all executive produce the new project, which HBO is producing in association with Levinson’s Leverage and Wahlberg’s Closest to the Hole Prods. Randolph’s latest movie, the Ed Zwick-directed Love and Other Drugs, opens next month.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO is looking to add more estrogen to its current slate of all-guy comedy series: Entourgage, Eastbound & Down, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Bored to Death, Hung, The Life and Times of Tim and How to Make it America. A new comedy project staring and produced by Tea Leoni is in serious consideration for a pilot pickup at the pay cable network, whose biggest comedy hit was the female-centered Sex and the City. Like Sex and the City, the Tea Leoni comedy, tentatively titled Spring/Fall, also takes place in New York City. It is set against the backdrop of New York’s fashion world and stars Leoni as half of a dysfunctional partnership between two women with different approaches to career, family, and friendship. Kate Robin who was a writer/producer on HBO’s Six Feet Under, wrote the script. She and Leoni are executive producing Spring/Fall with documentary filmmaker R.J. Cutler, who knows a thing or two about fashion having directed The September Issue documentary last year. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: HBO is developing a single-camera comedy series based on Clint McCown’s 1995 book The Member-Guest. Feature writer-producer Steve Pink (High Fidelity) is writing the script. Kevin Bacon is executive producing with an eye towards starring in the project, about a burned-out golf pro of a 9-hole course who just wants one more shot at the tour. His comeback is constantly sidelined as he deals with the needs of the members of the Middle-American country club who are grappling with dashed dreams of their own. Pink is executive producing along with Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment and Tom Mangan, with McCown serving as a consultant. Read More »
Al Pacino & Joe Pesci Circling Scorsese/De Niro Mob Movie
EXCLUSIVE: It’s turning out to be an interesting week for projects based on organized crime. Just as HBO’s Boardwalk Empire was renewed for a second season after one superb Martin Scorsese-directed pilot episode, I’m told that there’s a hot new TV project in the offing: a series version of Goodfellas, the 1990 Scorsese mob classic written by Nicholas Pileggi. My sources tell me that Pileggi’s likely to write at least the pilot episode. Warner Bros TV is in lead position to grab the series — the studio distributed the original pic — though several studios want it. Scorsese’s participation is unclear, but Irwin Winkler is likely to be the TV exec producer.
This information came my way on the same day that John Gotti Jr announced he’s set up his rights for a feature film that purports to tell a “father-son story” about growing up the son of John Gotti Sr, the Dapper Don who headed the Gambino crime family. Gotti Jr has aligned with Fiore Films, which claims it will start production in March. “During the past 20 years, there have been numerous made-for-television movies, books and other representations about me, my father and our family,” Gotti Jr. said in a statement. “None of these projects were … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Former Paramount Film Group president John Lesher has set up two series projects at HBO as a producer, both with feature writers: Keys to the City, which is being penned by Oscar winner William Monahan, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, written by Rachel Getting Married scribe Jenny Lumet. Both projects, now in development, are book adaptations.
Keys to the City is an adaptation of Joel Kostman’s book of the same name, a collection of 14 stories based on the author’s experience as a professional locksmith in New York City. It centers on a New York locksmith and offers a view of people and sights glimpsed beyond the doors he unlocks. The Departed scribe Monahan and Lesher are executive producing, with Kostman on board as a consultant.
The Three Weissmanns of Westport, based on Cathleen Schine’s novel, is about a woman’s search for meaning after her husband of 48 years walks out on her. She reconnects with her grown daughters who are also dealing with professional and familial irrelevance. Lumet, daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet, serves as executive producer with Lesher and Adam Kassan. Schine and Janet Meyers will serve as co-producers.
EXCLUSIVE: HBO is teaming with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez and actress Lizzy Caplan to develop a comedy series project based on actress/writer Julie Klausner’s memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band. The project is eyed as a potential starring vehicle for Caplan, who is coming off Starz’s cult comedy series Party Down. The book, a gritty but comedic look at what it’s like to navigate the dating world in your 20s, chronicles Klausner’s experiences from her preadolescent sexual awakenings through the unsavory details of sleeping with a gallery of losers throughout her 20s.
Gary Sanchez’s Owen Burke brought the book to the company’s Jessica Elbaum, who recently received an Emmy nomination for executive producing Ferrell’s You’re Welcome America HBO special. (She also exec produced the one-man Broadway play the special was adapted from from.) Elbaum started developing the project with Caplan. Gary Sanchez’ Ferrell, McKay, Chris Henchy and Elbaum will executive produce Band, with Caplan and Burke producing.
Band expands Gary Sanchez’ relationship with HBO. The CAA/WME-repped company produces HBO’s comedy series Eastbound & Down, which is returning for a second season. HBO also owns a stake in Gary Sanchez’s successful comedy web site Funny or Die, which spawned a Funny or Die-branded sketch comedy series on the pay cable channel.
Caplan, repped by CAA and Benderspink, also has a history with HBO where she recurred on True Blood. The actress recently completed Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and indie Queens … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I hear the Boardwalk Empire duo of director Martin Scorsese and writer Terence Winter is re-teaming with HBO for another sweeping period drama series project, and this time, they have rock legend Mick Jagger as a partner. The project, referred to as History of Music, is a rock ‘n’ roll epic, which follows two friends through 40 years in the music business, from the early days of R&B to contemporary hip-hop.
It originated as a feature based on Jagger’s idea, first at Disney and most recently at Paramount where it was set up three years ago with Scorsese attached to direct, The Departed scribe William Monahan to write and Jagger, his Jagged Films partner Victoria Pearman and Scorsese producing. I hear HBO is now making a deal with Paramount to develop a pilot based on the idea, and Sopranos alum and Boardwalk Empire creator Winter is being brought in to write it. (Monahan is no longer involved.) Scorsese would get first crack at directing if the project goes to pilot. Scorsese also directed the pilot for Boardwalk Empire, which was picked up to series and was a top seller at the international LA Screenings in May. Deals are still being negotiated, but Scorsese, Jagger, Pearman and Winter are expected to executive produce the History of Music project. Boardwalk Empire, set in 1920s Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, premieres Sept. 19. Scorsese directed Jagger and his Rolling Stones bandmates in the … Read More »