With a slew of daytime syndicated talk show projects jockeying for a fall 2012 berth, a big one is entering the fray for fall 2013. Queen Latifah is set to host a new daytime talk show that Flavor Unit, her company with Shakim Compere, will co-produce with Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. Compere and Overbrook’s Miguel Melendez, who were instrumental in getting the project together, will serve as executive producers with Queen Latifah and Overbrook’s Lassiter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Queen Latifah and Smith have a lot in common — both started in hip-hop before segueing into acting and then producing and both have earned Oscar nominations. In fact, Latifah’s first role was an arc on NBC’s The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, which starred Smith, also in his first acting gig. “We’ve had a long and successful history both personally and professionally with Overbrook’s Miguel, JL, Jada and Will,” Compere said. “We share a common vision and have been wanting to collaborate for quite some time.” In addition to Queen Latifah’s work with Smith on Fresh Prince, she starred opposite his wife, Pinkett Smith, in the 1996 movie Set It Off. “We are excited to join forces with Latifah and as well as Sony Pictures TV on this new venture,” Melendez said. “This forum is the perfect place to showcase Latifah’s tremendous range of talents and unique ability to connect and inspire people.” Sony TV’s relationship with Pinkett Smith and Overbrook stems from their recent collaboration on the TNT series Hawthorne, which starred Pinkett Smith and was produced by Sony and Overbrook. Additionally, Overbrook has had a long relationship with Sony on the film side, most recently producing together the hit Karate Kid remake.
Sony could’ve fast-tracked the talk show for a fall 2012 launch but opted to give it time to develop the way the studio did with The Dr. Oz Show, which has been the No. 1 syndicated daytime talk show in women 25-54 for the past three weeks. Sony TV does not have a contender for fall 2012 as the studio has been very selective with daytime projects, taking its time to find one that it feels it can throw its full support behind. Besides, the 2012 field is overcrowded already with talk shows hosted by Katie Couric and Steve Harvey already cleared for launch, Maury spin-off Trisha Goddard close to a go after getting picked up by Sinclair a week ago, and several other shows — including Twentieth’s Ricki Lake, Warner Bros’ Bethenny Frankel and CBS TV Distribution’s Jeff Probst — looking for station clearances. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 12:25 AM: First there was the $35,800-per-person fundraising dinner tonight with Will Smith hosted by his Overbrook Entertainment producing partner and manager James Lassiter. Then President Obama headed over to the home of Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith for a somewhat lower-key event aimed at Latino supporters. He was introduced by Eva Longoria who said Obama “knows he’s the president of all Americans” and that “we thank you for everything you’re doing.” Obama leaves town after Tuesday’s Jay Leno taping.
UPDATE (correcting misidentification), 8:01 p.m.: This evening’s Los Angeles traffic snarl at rush hour was just that much worse because President Barack Obama arrived at LAX on board Air Force One at 4:30 PM. He’s attending two Hollywood political fundraisers for the Democratic Party tonight, first at producer James Lassiter’s mansion and then Melanie Griffith’s and Antonio Banderas’ home. Potus will be making a Tonight Show appearance with Jay Leno tomorrow before jetting out of town. According to the White House pool report, Obama first helicoptered to a landing zone in Brentwood and the motorcade made an “off-the-record” visit to Roscoe’s chicken and waffle house. The president ordered at the counter for himself (and nearby aides) the No. 9 “Country Boy” – 3 wings with choice of waffle, potato salad or French fries ($8.90). He then started chatting with diners. I say who cares if you like Obama’s politics or not: he’s got good taste when it comes to LA’s favorite eats.
Then the motorcade traveled to Hancock Park for the first fundraiser hosted by Lassiter, who is Will Smith’s production partner in Overbrook Entertainment which manages the entire Pinkett-Smith family. Here is the pool report written by the Los Angeles Times‘ Peter Nicholas: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.
Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir. Read More »
Screenwriter John Hlavin has been set by Sony Pictures to write Risk, a contemporary global action thriller based on the venerable board game. Pic is a co-production between Hasbro Entertainment and Overbrook Entertainment, and the producers are Brian Goldner, Bennett Schneir and James Lassiter. Hlavin has written on The Shield, and his original script The Gunslinger for Warner Bros made the Black List. He scripted Underworld: New Dawn for Paramount, which will release early next year, and turned in a heist script to Steve Zaillian’s Film Rites and DreamWorks. Risk was created by Albert Lamorisse, the French director of The Red Balloon in 1957. He called it La Conquete du Monde (The Conquest of the World). It was brought to the US by Parker Brothers two years later as Risk. Will the fact it was invented by a moviemaker keep Deadline commenters from sarcastically demanding new projects like Gnip Gnop: The Movie, the way they always do when I write about a board game transfer? We’ll know soon enough. Hlavin’s repped by UTA and Management 360.
Hasbro has set most of its film action at Universal, including the Peter Berg-directed Battleship and Stretch Armstrong.
Emanuel Nunez has exited CAA. Nunez is the financing wiz who helped put bring offshore companies into Hollywood, particularly at a time in 2008 when those companies decided to bet on specific talent. He was a key point person on making the match between DreamWorks partners Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider with India-based Reliance Entertainment’s Amit Khanna. Reliance also made first look deals with the production companies of CAA clients that included Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, Jim Carrey, Brett Ratner, George Clooney and Jay Roach. He plugged in India-based UTV with Overbrook partners Will Smith and James Lassiter, and also M. Night Shyamalan. The Cuban-born Nunez had been at CAA since 1991, brought in by Mike Ovitz and Ron Meyer to find offshore funds for film. The agency confirms he’s no longer there, but claimed it had no information on where he went.
EXCLUSIVE: Glee creator Ryan Murphy is Sony Pictures’ top choice to direct a re-imagining of the Broadway musical Annie, with Willow Smith playing the lovable orphan. The project was recently set at Sony Pictures by Overbrook Entertainment partners James Lassiter, Ken Stovitz, Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith in the joint venture they formed with Jay-Z to generate films. Sony Pictures has made the approach to Murphy, but it’s early days.
Though Willow Smith is a relative newcomer to the screen (she has I Am Legend and Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl on her resume), she scored a hit record with Whip My Hair!, and Sony’s bet on her brother Jaden in the Overbrook-produced Karate Kid remake resulted in a big hit. Murphy is also well regarded at Sony, where he directed Eat, Pray, Love with Julia Roberts and made a $5 million … Read More »
Paramount Pictures closed a deal to acquire Wheeler Dealers, a pitch for a drama that will be written by Michael Lerner. It’s based on the true story of a group of Miami twenty-somethings who landed a $300 million Pentagon contract to acquire massive stockpiles of old Chinese ammunition that wound up being sent to supply the Afghan army. The film will be produced by Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and Brett Ratner’s Rat Entertainment.
The actual Miami gunrunner, Efraim Diveroli, was sentenced to four years in prison. The episode created a scandal on Capitol Hill because the Pentagon contract was awarded to Diveroli’s company despite the face both were reportedly on the State Department’s Arms Trafficking Watchlist. Lerner’s repped by ICM, Anonymous Content and attorney Linda Lichter. Lerner last month sold the spec Game Theory to Summit Entertainment, with Temple Hill, Alex Goldstone and Adam Shulman producing.
EXCLUSIVE: After a bidding war by multiple networks, Fox has nabbed the rights to a series adaptation of the 2005 hit romantic comedy Hitch. It comes from Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and The Proposal writer Pete Chiarelli who will pen the project. It’s described as an action-packed one-hour and received a script commitment, plus penalty, from the network. Sony Pictures TV and Overbrook are producing. The movie, which Overbrook co-produced with Sony’s Columbia Pictures, starred Smith as a date doctor. This marks the TV debut for Chiarelli Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Chelsea Lately host Chelsea Handler has landed a juicy role opposite Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine in This Means War, the McG-directed 20th Century Fox comedy. Handler will play the best friend and confidante of a woman (Witherspoon) who is lusted after by two best friends. The pals are CIA agents who wage an escalating war for her affection. Overbrook’s James Lassiter and Will Smith are producing with Robert Simonds and Simon Kinberg. This marks Handler’s second studio role, as she just completed the Universal Pictures/Illumination Entertainment CG-live action film Hop, which stars Russell Brand. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and The Proposal writer Pete Chiarelli are behind a series adaptation of the hit 2005 romantic comedy Hitch, which has several networks bidding on it. Chiarelli will pen the series project, described as an action-packed one-hour, for Sony Pictures TV. The movie, which Overbrook co-produced with Sony’s Columbia Pictures, starred Smith as a date doctor. This marks the TV debut for Chiarelli who also is penning Most Wanted, an upcoming action comedy, which reunites him with The Proposal stars Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds and director Anne Fletcher. Overbrook and Sony TV first took a stab at adapting Hitch to series 3 seasons ago when it was developed as a half-hour single-camera comedy written by Ben Wexler that was set up at CBS but didn’t go to pilot.
EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith has attached himself to star in and produce The Legend Of Cain, an epic re-telling of the Biblical sibling tale, this time with a vampiric twist. Smith will play Cain, the original Bad Boy, and he will produce with Overbrook Entertainment partners Jada Pinkett Smith (his wife), James Lassiter, and Ken Stovitz. The script was written by Caleeb Pinkett and Dan Knauf, with Andrea Berloff revising. No studio or director yet for the Overbrook project. The production company is coming off The Karate Kid, which has so far grossed more that. $210 million worldwide. Smith is currently promoting that film internationally and in August he begins filming Men In Black 3.