EXCLUSIVE: TV and film director Carl Franklin, who’s up for an Emmy for helming the Season 2 opener of Netflix drama House Of Cards, has signed with Paradigm. He won the Indie Spirit Award for helming 1992 crime pic One False Move from a script by Billy Bob Thornton; last week Franklin earned his first Emmy nod for Outstanding Direction for House Of Cards episode “Chapter 14.” He was most recently on ICM’s client roster.
EXCLUSIVE: Actress Kate Lyn Sheil (House of Cards, You’re Next) has been cast in Equals, the futuristic love story from director Drake Doremus (Like Crazy, Breathe In) starring Twilight‘s Kristen Stewart and X-Men‘s Nicholas Hoult.
The hot Cannes 2014 sales project is set in a future society where emotions have been eradicated. A new breed of humans, called Equals, live peacefully until a disease begins activating emotions in its victims, who are sent away and never seen again. Hoult is set to star as Silas, who becomes infected and is outcast until he connects with Nia (Stewart), another “switched on” Equal who is able to hide her emotions. Sheil will play Kate, a fellow co-worker of Silas and Nia. Guy Pearce signed on last month to the pic, which is gearing up for an August shoot in Japan and Singapore and was scripted by Moon writer Nathan Parker.
Russia’s United Nations delegation has nixed a House Of Cards request to film two episodes in the UN Security Council. Vladimir Putin’s government cited the need to keep the world’s security chamber available at a moment’s notice for unanticipated crises, Foreign Policy reports. The UN Secretary-General’s office, which wanted the shoot to go forward, had promised the House Of Cards production would take place only at night and over the weekend in mid-August — times when world crises have never been known to erupt.
Less than a week ago, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office recommended the 15-nation Security Council allow the Netflix series to film in its chamber to raise public awareness about the organization. The UN has been actively courting Hollywood filmmakers, in order to promote a positive image of the United Nations. Obviously, they’ve never watched House Of Cards.
Global Showbiz Briefs: Agnieszka Holland To Direct ‘House Of Cards’ Episodes; France’s Webedia Acquiring Germany’s Moviepilot
Agnieszka Holland To Direct Season 3 ‘House Of Cards’ Episodes
Agnieszka Holland has signed to helm multiple episodes of the upcoming season of Netflix‘s signature drama House Of Cards. The veteran Polish director most recently helmed the NBC miniseries Rosemary’s Baby and European mini Burning Bush along with episode of HBO’s Treme — scoring an Emmy nom for its pilot — and AMC’s The Killing. Her TV credits also include Cold Case and The Wire. Holland, a 1992 Oscar nominee for her adapted screenplay Europa, Europa, will helm some midseason episodes of House Of Cards, but there’s no word on where on when she will shoot.
France’s Webedia Acquires German Film Site Moviepilot
French online publishing company Webedia has completed an asset deal to purchase Germany’s leading film website, moviepilot.de for €15 million ($20 million). The site recorded 11 million hits per month and more than 5 million monthly users in the first quarter. The deal gives Webedia controls of Germany’s two largest film websites, as moviepilot.de joins with Filmstarts, the German subsidiary of French property Allocine. Webedia said both brands will continue to operate independently moving forward.
Kevin McCarthy‘s name might be familiar in Hollywood — his home state is California — and thanks to House of Cards, the job he just left is known to many more Americans than it once was. But the new No. 2 in the U.S. House of Representatives is definitely not a man of Hollywood. He’s not the strong-jawed actor who appeared in about 100 movies, including Death of A Salesman and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. That Kevin McCarthy died in 2010 at 96. No, this Kevin McCarthy is a Bakersfield Republican, whose conservative Central Valley district is big on oil, agriculture and defense. His 23rd District includes the far northern Los Angeles County suburb of Lancaster with its nearby aerospace facilities.
McCarthy was elected as House Majority Leader today after Speaker of the House John Boehner called a hurried leadership election to replace Eric Cantor of Virginia, whose primary loss to a Tea Party candidate June 10 stunned Washington insiders. Steve Scalise, a Louisiana third-termer, was elected over two more moderate candidates to succeed McCarthy as Chief Majority Whip.
Despite his increasing power and nearby geographic base, McCarthy is unlikely to be a Hollywood savior in the mode of Henry Waxman, the retiring Congressman whose liberal coastal Los Angeles district has been the fundraising piggy bank for national Democrats for decades (indeed, Barack Obama is returning to the area for yet another fundraiser in July). In fact, the person who takes that job — Democratic state Sen. Ted Lieu and Republican former prosecutor Elan Carr survived the 17-candidate primary to face off in November — will be challenged to make a mark as a rookie Congressman, no matter which party the winner comes from.
With outstanding drama series being the Powerball/Mega Millions of the Primetime Emmy Awards, any change in this particular competition is bound to cause a certain amount of eyebrow raising in the TV industry. And, sure enough, the Television Academy’s decision this year to let HBO enter True Detective as a drama series, which is how HBO says it always envisioned the program, is being viewed by some rivals as an introduction of a large grain of sand in their spiritual spinach. Non-fans of the decision complain that the program has an unfair advantage and belongs in the miniseries race. True Detective, which will reboot with a new cast and storyline each season, is able to attract Hollywood heavyweights such as Matthew McConaughey because it only asks of them a one-season, eight-episode commitment. Ironically, that also might be the best explanation yet as to why the TV Academy did not balk when HBO submitted it as a drama. The program also stands to benefit from the TV Academy’s loosening of the “2 percent” rule for the drama series competition, which could open up the race to allow for seven nominees.
As far as Jay Carson knows, none of the 435 representatives and 100 senators who make up the United States Congress has resorted to murdering reporters. “But then, there are so many of them,” he jokes. Still, with 15 years in politics under his belt, including his current stint as senior adviser to Bloomberg Philanthropies, the consultant on Netflix’s House of Cards understands why lawmakers have fallen in love with Kevin Spacey’s murderous Machiavellian despot Frank Underwood. “Frank’s ability to get things done, even if some of his actions aren’t so legal, might actually be a nice antidote to the gridlocked Washington we have right now,” Carson insists. “He’s a man of action, as (showrunner) Beau (Willimon) says. He runs up against a wall and he’s not thinking, ‘Oh well.’ He’s thinking, ‘OK, I can go under it, over it or knock it right down.’ ”
Carson and Willimon met while in college at Columbia University. The seeds that became House of Cards were planted when Carson started interning for Chuck Schumer’s successful Senate campaign. “No one thought he would win,” says Carson, who brought Willimon onboard. “We became this inseparable duo. You can see from House of Cards how important it is to have someone around you can trust.”
Networks and the major studios’ TV production arms are ripping pages out of the Oscar strategy book (even tapping boutique Oscar advisers) to mastermind A-list soirees and guerrilla campaigns to move the buzz meter beyond DVD screeners and TV Academy Q&As. This year, Fox and NBC Universal are rolling a Brooklyn Nine-Nine food truck all over LA, handing out coffee and donuts. Last year, Netflix blitzkrieged the town with several For Your Consideration stunts, including putting lawn signs for House of Cards and Arrested Development in upscale Emmy-voter neighborhoods.
The result? Fourteen nominations. While Netflix is mum on its tricks for this year, other networks are shooting for the stars. Fox invited TV Academy voters to the studio lot for a Modern Family wedding-themed cocktail reception (above) in the spirit of Mitch and Cam’s nuptials. Brooklyn Nine-Nine threw a “Steak-Out” on the Universal lot. FX is getting voters in a New Orleans state of mind with a Creole-themed barbecue to celebrate American Horror Story. And A&E followed its screening of Bonnie & Clyde with a Prohibition-themed party.
Even if an Emmy campaign turns into a bust for a network, it still can be about the prestige. “At USA we would ask each year if we had the money for an …
Were any doubt to remain, let it be clear: Netflix is doing its level best to make the Emmy season as big as the Oscars, with glitzy events showcasing its biggest stars to would-be voters. Case in point: Thursday night’s showcase at the TV Academy of five women from three of its most prominent programs, including Oscar winner Jodie Foster, Golden Globe winner Robin Wright, Golden Globe nominees Taylor Schilling and Kate Mulgrew and Jehane Noujaim, director of an Oscar-nominated documentary.
The first four are either actors, directors or both on Netflix series House Of Cards and Orange is the New Black, while Noujaim directed The Square, the 2013 documentary about the Egyptian democracy uprising that Netflix distributed on VOD and video in the U.S. As is typical in such gatherings with a loose theme — in this case the theme appeared be Totally Rocking Actor-Director Humans Who Are Also Women And Also Doing Great Stuff For Netflix — there wasn’t much of a narrative through-line in the conversation, but there were lots of great bits, as you might expect from a group of such smart and accomplished people doing great stuff with great shows. Herewith are some of the highlights from a thoroughly engaging evening:
Hannibal and True Detective—about serial killers who are the devil personified—as well as House of Cards—about a devilish politician—all embrace lighting and camera work that is cinematic yet subtle, manipulating audiences into the suspense of the moment and helping frame some of the most unforgettable characters on television. House of Cards director of photography Igor Martinovic, who was enlisted for the second season, used lighting to reflect a marked shift in story surrounding the dastardly Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey. “The cynical attitude and a crime story that happened toward the end of season one could be represented through low-key lighting,” Martinovic says. “For season two, we decided to change the lighting completely. We very carefully tried to wrap characters in shadows, into half-lights, turn them into silhouettes, and overall kept them on the edge of darkness.”
The shift owed much to the influence of the Netflix show’s executive producer, Oscar-nominated director David Fincher. “He’s very constant in all of his work,” Martinovic says of Fincher. “It’s this objective camera work where you don’t come too close to the characters. Your camera is objectively—as much as one could do—capturing the situation . . . It was also very appropriate for this because we were telling a political theater. Part of it is the staging, where we try to stage a kind of elaborate mise en scene, …
You may have heard that we are living in a glorious age of television, one where the biggest movie stars leap unceremoniously from the cineplex to the now-nontoxic small screen. An era of event programming and limited series, where stories of anti-heroes and the underbelly of the American Dream are being revealed simultaneously on broadcast networks, cable channels and streaming services. Television suddenly has become prestigious.
You may have heard all this, but that doesn’t make it true.
“It’s not like TV has suddenly become amazing and great — it’s always been amazing and great,” declares Under The Dome executive producer Neal Baer. He should know, having earned his stripes for almost 30 years on network shows such as Law & Order: SVU and ER. Baer has seen TV’s long arc bend back many times. “There was crap, but I could start listing path-breaking television series that thought about racism and drug abuse,” he says.
What’s new today is that TV is a creation of quantity as much as quality, with many more outlets and platforms to grab high-value consumers’ attention with content that up until just a decade ago would have made its home solely in the movies. We have traditional TV trying to recoup some of the luster it lost to non-advertiser-supported programming, but either way, the economics and creativity sit squarely in the small screen’s favor. One need only look at anthologies such as HBO’s True Detective or limited event series like Fox’s 24: Live Another Day or CBS’ Under The Dome to see that the torch is being carried on.
When writer-producer Beau Willimon adapted the black-as-pitch British miniseries House of Cards for a ground-breaking deal with Netflix, he introduced U.S. audiences to the anti-hero power couple Francis and Claire Underwood (Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright), both so bent on rising to the top of Washington power circles that their ambitions trump their morals. By the end of season two, they had reached their goal, moving into the White House. Willimon first explored political cynicism and boundless ambition with the play Farragut North, which became the 2011 film Ides of March with George Clooney. Now, heading into a third season of an award-winning blockbuster, Willimon explains how Frank Underwood is actually as optimistic a politician as they come.
DEADLINE: Early on you worked on Chuck Schumer’s campaign, and then with Hillary Clinton, Bill Bradley and Howard Dean. In your adaptations, politicians just seem like such awful people. What the heck did you see that informed such a cynical view of politics?
BEAU WILLIMON: Well, I don’t have a cynical view of politics. I don’t see Francis Underwood as being cynical at all. He doesn’t have an ideology. He’s not driven by idealism, but he is an optimist at heart. He says, “Forward progress, momentum. Do something instead of nothing.” That’s an optimistic point of view. Admittedly, both Ides of March and House of Cards are a dark take on the political process, but the subject isn’t politics, it’s power. So, there are no politicians that I worked for that, in any way, are parallel to Francis Underwood. Now, the more you become acquainted with the political world, you see people who are constantly faced with ethical choices, who wield a great deal of power, and with that power, comes a huge amount of responsibility, and you’re more often than not in that gray area instead of a black-and-white dialectic. I like to amplify the grayness. I like to really dig into those forks in the road, those moments where someone becomes a monster or plays into the darker side of power. But that’s not meant to be reflective of the entire political process.
Is your company facing an existential threat from a looming technology shift? If so, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has some suggestions, like don’t forget about the customers you already have while figuring out how to attract new ones. Speaking today at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, Hastings said Netflix was too concerned with the wrong issues when it spun off its DVD-by-mail business in 2011 to focus on online movie delivery. “In hindsight, we were so focused on not dying with DVD,” he said. “We looked at all these businesses [with collapsing business models] like Kodak and Blockbuster. It was really a hard problem.”
Netflix created a new unit called Qwikster for the DVD-by-mail business, while keeping online delivery under the Netflix name. People who still wanted both physical discs and streaming options had to set up a separate account for each. “It turned out it didn’t work out at all,” Hastings said. “We mispredicted a number of factors.” Like charging more to have both accounts. “It turned out that approach really annoyed customers,” the exec said. “We learned an important lesson: The fact that your company may not be strategically positioned for the next 10 years, [customers] don’t care about that.”
Today kicks off our DeadlineNow video news service, in which Deadline’s journalists offer instant analysis and commentary on the news as it happens. Check back throughout the day for more reports.
Fleming: Working on the Deadline/Awardsline Emmy issues prompted me to binge my way through cable series like True Detective and House Of Cards. It really got me depressed about the movie business.
Fleming: Because those series and 10 more like them are better than anything I see on a movie screen. For the 25 years I’ve covered it, film has always been the sexiest, most prestigious part of the business. Sure, TV packages drove the bottom line, but agencies and studios were measured by the feature stars and directors in their stables. TV, particularly pay and basic cable, has gradually overtaken movies and become the trendsetting cool place to work. Why leave the house for the theater when so many movies regurgitate past success, especially at studios? Look at the projects put in development last week. Revamps of Power Rangers, The Flintstones, Private Benjamin. Uninspiring. The most successful major studio right now, Disney, has a success formula based on recycling old movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, sequelizing Marvel superheroes, and refashioning fairy tales. The definition of excellence in studio summer movies these days is putting a smart spin on an old concept, as happened on Rise Of The Planet Of …
Two-Time Oscar Winner Kevin Spacey Jumps Bravely Into Self-Distribution With Today’s Unique Release Of His Latest Film
Kevin Spacey continues to do things his own way. After all, this is an actor who shortly after winning his second Oscar ran off to England to become Artistic Director of the Old Vic rather than cashing in the way many other actors have. This is also the actor who launched an acclaimed TV series, House Of Cards on Netflix as a binge-watching experiment and wound up at the Emmys in only his first season. And today Spacey is taking his career into his own hands again with the unusual distribution plan for his latest film, Now: In The Wings On A World Stage . a documentary which recounts the ten-month world tour in which he played Richard III. Although this terrific docu is going to play theatrically (where it can also presumably qualify for Oscar consideration), it will also be available for a download purchase at KevinSpacey.com (and Nowthemovie.com which is essentially the same thing). This is a brave new world for film distribution, but so far very few big names have done it. Louis CK sells his comedy specials this way at his own website, and even Tomorrow Night, an early film he directed and starred in that had never gotten a formal release. Spacey told me he actually called Louis CK for advice on this platform and learned it can be a very profitable deal (Louis CK has reportedly grossed up to $50,000 a day with some), and a better way to get more specialized projects seen in greater numbers than might otherwise be the case.
EXCLUSIVE: Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal has come aboard to score the CBS Steven Spielberg series Extant starring Halle Berry. Beal, whose cool, steely trumpet and suspenseful piano playing in the House of Cards main title theme promptly captures the corrupt atmosphere of Capitol Hill, was tapped by long-time collaborator Allen Coulter, who is directing the pilot episode of Extant. Beal and Coulter previously worked together on Netflix’s House of Cards and HBO’s Rome.
“Part of the reason I’m excited about Extant is that it is ordered straight to series for 13 episodes, as was House of Cards. Having scored several television pilots over the years, I feel the creative energy is more pure and focused for a composer working this way vs. the pilot process which always seem to ultimately get polluted by the ‘sales pitch to a studio’ kind of creative process,” said Beal. The composer approached House of Cards as if he were scoring a 13-hour film, inspired by the no-holds-barred direction of the series for which he received two Emmy nominations for Best Theme and Best Score.
In the end, they struck a tax credit deal that probably would have made Frank Underwood proud. Today Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and House Of Cards producers Media Rights Capital announced they have found a way to keep the Netflix series in the state for its upcoming third season. “Spoiler alert: we’re going to keep the 3700 jobs and more than 100 million dollars of economic activity and investment that House Of Cards generates right here in Maryland,” O’Malley said. “Media Rights Capital has been a great supporter of the people and entertainment community in Maryland and we couldn’t be happier to continue our partnership.” Despite some ups and downs the past few months that saw production held up, the Kevin Spacey-starring series will now get $11.5 million this year for production via the 2014 Film Production Tax Credit program and a General Assembly authorization of $7.5 million in grants in the 2015 budget. That cobbled together figure is an increase from what HoC had gotten for a single season before. MRC, which had planned to start shooting the third season of the D.C.-set drama in early spring, received about $26M in Maryland tax credits for its first two season, according to reports.
With Season 3 expected to start production later this year, today’s new agreement comes just days after Netflix’s Ted Sarandos told Wall Street analysts that all sides were engaged in “ongoing negotiations” to keep the show in …