In Hollywood’s latest “you stole my idea” case, a pair of screenwriters have filed a lawsuit claiming the Zooey Deschanel sitcom was based on their work. Stephanie Counts and Shari Gold claim that Fox’s New Girl and their 2006 pilot Square One contain similarities “so numerous and specific that independent creation was obviously impossible.” They name as defendants New Girl exec producer Peter Chernin, creator Elizabeth Meriwether, director Jake Kasdan, WME and Fox parent company 21st Century Fox.
Weighing in at 90-plus pages, the suit filed Thursday in California’s Central District (read it here) claims a laundry list of “similarities between the shows’ themes, structure, setting, overall story and plot arcs, specific plot devices, interpersonal twists, dialogue, sequence of events, tenor, specific scenes and elements of scenes, character identities, character personalities, character relationships, character interaction, character development, character idiosyncrasies, and character names require the conclusion that defendant Meriwether not only knew of Square One, but copied Square One to create New Girl.” The plaintiffs say their show was based on Counts’ personal experience, when she moved into a three-man bachelor pad after a divorce. Read More »
Columbia Pictures is developing Bad Teacher 2, to be directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Justin Malen. Jimmy Miller, Jake Kasdan, Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky will produce the film, and Melvin Mar will executive produce. The project is being developed for Cameron Diaz to star in the film, but no deal is yet set with the actress. She took little upfront money the first time around and made a fortune when the bawdy film became a surprise hit.
Sony Pictures production president Hanna Minghella said the studio “loves Justin’s take on the material – it hits all the notes that made the first film such a breakthrough hit and also takes the characters in a new direction that is fresh and fun”. The original took in $216 million worldwide and hatched a half-hour series for CBS that will star Ari Graynor. The Sony Pictures Television and CBS Television Studios co-production received a 13-episode midseason order. Kasdan next helms Sex Tape for Sony, with Diaz and Jason Segel starring. Malen, script Bastards made the Black List, is repped by Verve and H2F, and Eisenberg and Stupnitsky are repped by Mosaic and WME. Kasdan is represented by WME.
Jake Kasdan will serve as exec producer on both New Girl and the new comedy Ben And Kate, as well as develop additional projects under the exclusive two-year overall deal announced today. He’ll also be available to direct pilots he did not personally develop, 20th Century Fox TV chairman Gary Newman said. Kasdan directed the New Girl pilot and went on to direct multiple episodes. He also served as exec producer on the series and will continue in both capacities under his new deal. Kasdan also directed the pilot for Ben And Kate, which was ordered to series by Fox and premieres September 25. “Jake is an incredibly good partner to the creators; he helps realize their vision and is sensitive and fantastic with actors”, Newman said. On the big screen, Kasdan served as producer, director and writer of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007), as a producer on Friends With Kids (2011) and directed last year’s Bad Teacher.
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has re-teamed Bad Teacher writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg with director Jake Kasdan for a new untitled comedy. The logline: After a Supercuts manager advises his best friend to break off his engagement, he unexpectedly falls in love with the jilted fiancee, testing both his new romance and his friendship. Eisenberg and Stupnitsky will produce with Mosaic, which produced Bad Teacher. So far, they haven’t made progress on mounting a sequel to Bad Teacher, a film that cost around $20 million and grossed around $215 million worldwide. The writers also worked for Sony Pictures on Ghostbusters III. While there has been no shortage of rumors that actors are being cast and that production will begin on the third installment as soon as spring, I’m told that the studio isn’t going to make it without Bill Murray. And as recently as last month, he had not read the script, or if he did, he has not reached out to get the dealmaking started. Without him, I don’t think the film has a ghost of a chance.
After a three-way bidding war, single-camera comedy pitch On The Verge of Greatness has landed at CBS with a significant penalty. The twentysomething ensemble comedy, from 3 Arts and 20th Century Fox TV, will be written/executive produced by feature writer Tom Gormican, with Jake Kasdan on board to direct and executive produce through his overall deal at 20th TV. Also executive producing are 3 Arts’ Howard Klein and Oly Obst, with Melvin Mar producing. 20th TV pitched the comedy to the Big 4 broadcast networks last Tuesday, with 3 of them — ABC, NBC and CBS — buying it in the room, thus sparking a bidding war. Gornican’s script Are We Officially Dating? landed on the 2010 Black List. He has romantic comedy Save the Date in the works at Sony with Neal Moritz producing and is co-producing Relativity’s upcoming Farrelly brothers movie. Kasdan is coming off directing the pilot for the upcoming Fox/20th TV comedy New Girl.
Comedy’s white-hot selling season continues with another half-hour project sparking a big bidding war. Titled On The Verge of Greatness, the single-camera twentysomething ensemble comedy hails from 3 Arts and 20th Century Fox TV. It will be written/executive produced by feature writer Tom Gormican, with Jake Kasdan on board to direct and executive produce through his overall deal at 20th TV. Also executive producing are 3 Arts’ Howard Klein and Oly Obst. 20th TV pitched the comedy to the Big 4 broadcast networks yesterday. Three of them — ABC, NBC and CBS — bought it in the room and are now in a bidding war. Gornican’s script Are We Officially Dating? landed on the 2010 Black List. He has romantic comedy Save the Date in the works at Sony with Neal Moritz producing and is co-producing Relativity’s upcoming Farrelly brothers movie. Kasdan recently directed the pilot for Fox’s upcoming comedy New Girl.
How often does a TCA panel on a TV show includes a question to the star: “When did you first know that you were adorable?” That happened today during the session for Fox’s new comedy New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel as a dorky girl moving in with three guys. The indie darling was, well, adorable, in her responses, including blushing in dismissing the adorable label. “I don’t think I’ve ever read a role as good for myself,” she said of her part on the show. The producers talked about the casting change, with Lamorne Morris replacing co-star Damon Wayans Jr, who had to pull out after the pilot due to his commitment to ABC’s Happy Endings. Instead of making this a straight recasting, the producers decided to keep the pilot as is with Wayans Jr as one of Jess’ roommates and then have his character move out and introduce Morris in Episode 2 as a new roommate. “We were really happy with the pilot, the chemistry was where we wanted it,” executive producer Brett Baer said. “So we wanted to bring in a new character that would really bring a new energy to the show.” Added Jake Kasdan, director of the pilot and executive producer of the series, “We thought the overall dynamic was very rich and were looking to preserve that but tailoring to a different actor.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: NBC is expanding its relationship with The Voice star Adam Levine to the scripted side. After a bidding, NBC has nabbed a single-camera comedy project, with the Maroon 5 frontman executive producing and Jake Kasdan attached to executive produce and direct. The ensemble comedy set at a karaoke bar, which has received a script commitment plus penalty, is being produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. I hear at least three networks wanted the project, which is said to organically blend comedy with a musical element, but NBC was very aggressive, largely because of the involvement of its reality star Levine. This marks the first major NBC buy from 20th TV since the studio’s former EVP Jennifer Salke was named NBC entertainment president earlier this month. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jake Kasdan, who directed the pilot for Fox’s New Girl, has signed a one-year development deal with 20th Century Fox Television, the studio that produces the hot new comedy series. Kasdan will serve as an executive producer/director on the series starring Zooey Deschanel, which will air on Tuesdays this fall. He will executive produce the show alongside creator Liz Meriwether, Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope, David Finkel and Brett Baer. Additionally, Kasdan will develop projects for 20th TV and, if one of them goes to pilot, he will also direct it. If not, he is expected to helm another pilot for the studio next season. WME-repped Kasdan is directing his second pilot this year, the HBO comedy Spring/Fall starring Tea Leoni and Hope Davis. On the feature side, he most recently directed the Sony comedy Bad Teacher, starring Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake, which opens on Friday.
EXCLUSIVE: Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg, who wrote the upcoming Justin Timberlake-Cameron Diaz feature comedy Bad Teacher, are returning to television with a rich two-year overall deal at ABC Studios. Additionally, the duo is reuniting with Bad Teacher director Jake Kasdan and studio Sony for a new feature comedy they will be writing and Kasdan directing. Details on the plot are being kept under wraps, but it is a romantic comedy.
In a new business reality dominated by “showveralls,” overall deals tied to services on a show, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg’s pact with ABC Studios is a rare pure development deal, paying the duo seven figures a year to exclusively generate new projects through their company Quantity Entertainment. I hear there was interest in them from several studios, with Stupnitsky and Eisenberg opting to go to ABC Studios because of a series idea they have that they feel would fit ABC. Before segueing to features full-time last year, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg spent five seasons on NBC’s The Office, rising to co-executive producers, writing 18 episodes and directing two. (One of their episodes earned the duo a writing Emmy nom in 2008.) While on the show, Stupnitsky and Eisenberg wrote three features: the Jack Black-Michael Cera comedy Year One, Bad Teacher and the long-gestating Ivan Reitman-directed Ghostbusters 3, which hinges on Bill Murray committing to return. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Hope Davis is set to star opposite Tea Leoni in HBO’s half-hour comedy pilot Spring/Fall. Jake Kasdan has come on board to direct the project, which is set in New York City against the backdrop of the fashion world and centers on the dysfunctional partnership between Margo (Leoni) and Eden (Davis), two women with different approaches to career, family and friendship. Margo is a successful designer and a happily married mother of 5-year-old twins working for famous fashion designer Victor Cross. When he commits suicide, Margo takes over his line and quickly realizes she’s in over her head, so she reaches out to her estranged former best friend and collaborator Eden, a onetime famous fashion designer herself, and convinces her to come work for her. Read More »
Sony Pictures has released a new trailer for Bad Teacher, the comedy that stars Cameron Diaz, Justin Timberlake and Jason Segel. The Jake Kasdan-directed comedy opens June 24.
Alan Taylor, who won an Emmy for The Sopranos, has come on board to direct NBC’s drama pilot Playboy. The project, from 20th TV, Imagine TV and writer Chad Hodge, is set at a Chicago Playboy club in the 1960s. Taylor knows a thing or two about setting the tone and the style of a drama series set in the 1960s – he also directed the pilot for AMC’s Mad Men, which earned him an Emmy nomination. Taylor has directed a total of five episodes of the acclaimed cable period drama about Don Draper & Co.
David Nutter has committed to direct CBS’ medical-family drama The Doctor from Privileged creator Rina Mimoun. The Doctor was one of 3 Warner Bros. TV-produced pilots that Nutter was considering. His decision to go with The Doctor gives the medical drama an instant boost. Nutter is currently on a pretty remarkable streak of 16 consecutive pilots he has directed that have all gone to series.
British director Paul McGuigan (Lucky Number Slevin) has come on board to direct Shonda Rhimes’ ABC/ABC Studios drama pilot about a professional fixer. Also at ABC, Emmy winner Yves Simoneau, who directed the pilot for the networks’ V and serves as an executive producer on the series, has signed on to direct another ABC/ABC Studios pilot, Ed Bernero’s Partners, a police drama centered on two female police detectives who are … Read More »
Sony has now slated the Cameron Diaz-starrer for June 17, 2011. It was originally scheduled for April. Justin Timberlake, John Michael Higgins and Jason Segel also star in the film, about a foul-mouthed and irreverent middle school instructor. Jake Kasdan directs.