Never let it be said that J.J. Abrams doesn’t go out of his way for Star Trek fans. During the holidays the director learned through a series of communications over Reddit and Twitter about a dying man’s wish to see Star Trek Into Darkness, which doesn’t open until May 17th, and took the trouble to make it happen. Last week on Reddit, a user named Ideeeyut described how a friend Daniel, who has leukemia and other serious health issues, wanted to see the movie — and even made it to a theater hoping to see a special 9-minute IMAX preview only to find out the theater wasn’t showing the footage that screened in some but not all locations playing The Hobbit. Fearing that time was running short, Daniel’s friend took to Reddit seeking help to find a way for Daniel to see the movie, according to a chain of events reported on CNET. Trek and geek blogs picked up the Reddit item, and a Reddit user named Kiggsworthy came across the item on TrekMovie and tweeted it to Abrams and others working on the movie. Events accelerated to warp 10 and Abrams phoned Daniel to screen the full but unfinished movie. Via Ideeyut on Reddit, Daniel’s wife said “We saw it, and we enjoyed it immensely as a film and as a gesture.” She described Abrams’ act as a “heartfelt message of giving” that was especially touching.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros TV is exploring casting of key roles in its high-concept drama project from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and J.J. Abrams. The project, tentatively titled Believe, already has a pilot production commitment. It is not unusual for studios to do preliminary casting work on high-profile projects before a formal green light, especially those with a strong, hard-to-find lead whose casting can make or break a show. WBTV is doing the same with the lead in its potential Wonder Woman origin series at the CW, Amazon.
Directed by Cuarón and written by him and Mark Friedman, Believe is about a girl in possession of a great gift/powers — which will come into their own in seven years– and the man who is sprung from prison to protect her from those trying to hunt her down. The breakdown, released this week by casting director April Webster, is searching for the young lead: 10-year-old Bo, innocent and beautiful, a regular girl who has a depth and mystery to her.
Adulting, a half-hour single-camera comedy from The Vow co-writers Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, Warner Bros TV and J.J. Abrams’ studio-based Bad Robot, has landed at Fox with a put pilot commitment.
Adulting is based on the upcoming book Adulting: How To Become A Grown-Up In 387 Easy(ish) Steps by Oregon-based journalist Kelly Williams Brown, which spawned from Brown’s blog of the same name. The blog is described as a quirky, humorous guide on how to become an adult. In it, she dishes out advice on a wide range of issues, from how to take care of your basic human needs, how to discuss politics with friends, how not to look like a slut at work, how to deal with dangerous toasters and how to shut down office creepers (Watch one of Brown’s videos below). The tone of the blog and Brown’s persona appear close to Fox’s quirky New Girl, making Adulting a potential companion for the network’s flagship comedy.
UPDATED: J.J. Abrams is staying put at Warner Bros Television. The uber-writer-director-producer has closed a new three-year development and production deal with the TV studio, where Bad Robot Prods — which Abrams runs with long-time partner Bryan Burk — has been based since 2006. Back then, Abrams inked simultaneously two massive deals: a first-look pact with Paramount and a development/production deal with Warner Bros TV. In February, Abrams and Paramount extended their deal through end of 2015. Now the new pact with WBTV will keep him at the studio until 2015.
With his old deal coming up, I hear there was no question on Warner Bros’ or Abrams’ mind whether to continue the relationship. Like with any deals of that scope (the original deal reportedly guaranteed $4 million plus $2 million in overhead per year), it took time for terms to be negotiated. (UPDATE: We hear a major sticking point was the fact that the Bad Robot-produced CBS series Person of Interest is not available online.) But while talks were going on, it was business as usual on the development and production side, as evidenced by the pilot production commitment that Bad Robot and WBTV landed at Fox last night for a robot-cop drama written by Fringe showrunner J.H. Wyman. Under the extension, Bad Robot will continue developing new TV projects to be produced in association with Warner Bros Television, with Abrams and Burk serving as executive producers.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Fox bid farewell to its never-quite-a-hit cult drama Fringe late this afternoon with a panel featuring exec producer J.H.…
NBC went on a comedy pickup spree today, ordering four new series to join previously ordered Go On. That includes 1600 Penn, The New Normal, Save Me and Animal Practice. All five are single-camera, the format that has completely dominated NBC’s comedy slots since the network’s last big multi-camera comedy series, Will & Grace, went off the air in 2006. The quintet includes one workplace comedy, Animal Practice, a genre that has dominated NBC’s Thursday comedy block for the last few years. It also features two family comedies, a genre NBC had been looking to get into, both with a twist and an edge: a blended family of a gay couple and a surrogate (The New Normal) and a dysfunctional First Family living in the White House (1600 Penn). The remaining two comedies, Save Me and Go On, have a somewhat cable sensibility as they are centered on a flawed/wounded central character.
Missing from the list of NBC comedy pickups so far are multi-camera sitcoms. The network was very bullish on the multi-camera format earlier this pilot season, with 30% of its pilot orders going to traditional sitcoms. Despite being shut out today, multi-camera comedies will still likely have some presence on NBC’s schedule next year. There are three multi-camera pilots that are still in contention, with NBC expected to make a decision shortly. The Jimmy Fallon-produced Guys With Kids, which is meeting with writers, is considered a strong bet. If multi-camera freshman Whitney is indeed going away, its is logical to assume that NBC would pick up a companion for Guys between the two other multi-camera pilots still in the running, Daddy’s Girls, which has been gaining momentum, and early standout Lady Friends, which has lost some steam. (Also a possibility for midseason is singe-camera magical family comedy Isabel. The remaining NBC pilots, Friday Night Dinner, Sarah Silverman, Hilary Winston and Downwardly Mobile, are no longer in contention.)
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that JJ Abrams and his Bad Robot production banner partnered with EVP Bryan Burk are one of, and perhaps the, most important relationships at Paramount. So this is no surprise. But betcha the terms were rich indeed to extend their first-look deal through the end of 2015. The deal dates back to 2006. Grosses on Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol are now $670M globally while those for the Star Trek reboot hit $385M worldwide. Abrams is right now shooting the Star Trek sequel which he’s producing and directing. Under the Paramount deal, Abrams also has made Cloverfield (producing) and Super 8 (producing and directing), both of which did well at the global box office.
UPDATE: Here’s the official press release -
HOLLYWOOD, CA (February 22, 2012) – Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom Inc., and Bad Robot Productions jointly today announced an extension of their exclusive, first-look agreement through December 2015.
The prolific production company, whose original first look deal with Paramount began in 2006, is currently shooting the next installment of the studio’s Star Trek franchise. Once again, Abrams is directing and Bad Robot is producing the tent-pole, which will be released in 3D on May 17, 2013.
“J.J. is a unique talent and a captivating storyteller,” said Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. “J.J., Bryan Burk and the whole Bad Robot team are an integral part of Paramount and we’re proud to continue our collaboration. Their pictures have extraordinary resonance around the world and we’re so pleased Paramount will be their home for years to come.”
Diane Haithman is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
During today’s TCA panel on Fox’s midseason time-travel series Alcatraz, executive producer J.J. Abrams was quick to defend November’s decision to tinker with the show’s existing episodes, as well as make a change in creative leadership at the top. Both, he said, were opportunities to improve the series before it went on the air, rather than being indicators of a show in trouble. In early November, the series put filming of new episodes on hold to do reshoots on some of the completed episodes. Then, mid-month, co-creator/executive producer/showrunner Elizabeth Sarnoff departed the series over creative differences, leaving it to be co-run by Jennifer Johnson and Daniel Pyne.
Throw them a party and they will come. Or at least a reception with good food and drink. That seems to be the case with the increasingly strong turnouts of Academy members at screenings this season. As with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and other groups studios are discovering a shrimp …
J.J. Abrams, Glenn Close, John Travolta, Alec Baldwin, Larry Gordon, Rick Baker, Mary J. Blige, and Maria Shriver were some of the names who helped the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences present Honorary Awards to actor James Earl Jones and makeup artist Dick Smith and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award to philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. It was the Academy’s 3rd Annual Governors Awards dinner last night at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center. Photos on next page: