EXCLUSIVE: James Mangold is negotiating to direct The Deep Blue Good-By, the 1964 John D. MacDonald novel that kicked off series of mystery novels with character Travis McGee. This has long been eyed by Fox as the launch of a star-driven franchise based on the beach bum McGee, a forerunner of muscular solitary heroes like Jack Reacher and Spenser For Hire, helping (and romancing) damsels in distress as he kicks ass against the powerful. The film was originally set as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. That’s not going to happen now, as DiCaprio has plenty of work in front of him and this film, with a most recent script draft by Mystic River novelist Dennis Lehane, is certainly ready to go. DiCaprio and his Appian Way partner Jennifer Davisson-Killoran are producing with Amy Robinson and Chernin Entertainment. Previous script drafts were done by Dana Stevens and Kario Salem.
EXCLUSIVE: Twentieth Century Fox has begun negotiations with James Mangold to return for another installment of The Wolverine, with Hugh Jackman bringing back his signature character with the razor sharp adamantium hooks. This comes after The Wolverine played very strongly overseas, enough to now sit as the second highest grossing X-Men film of all time. The film has grossed $413 million worldwide, with $132 million domestic and $280 million in international revenue.
Here’s where it is right now. Mangold is making a deal to write the treatment, with X-Men franchise matriarch Lauren Shuler Donner producing. The storyline is being kept under tight wraps. I think Mangold did a bang up job on his first superhero film. When I met him at Comic-Con San Diego, he said he tried to veer from the usual superhero formula–if hero doesn’t succeed, world is doomed–and instead make it a character-driven storyline. There were plenty of action pieces, samurai swordplay and reasons for Logan to work up that famous temper, but at its core the film worked because the stakes were subtler and the storytelling somehow more intimate. Mangold is repped by WME and Management 360, Jackman by WME.
Back when Darren Aronofsky stepped away from The Wolverine to direct Russell Crowe in the Biblical epic Noah, the emergence of James Mangold was something of a surprise. He’s an accomplished filmmaker, but his sweet spot is grounded characters with earthbound dilemmas in films from Walk The Line to Girl, Interrupted, Copland and 3:10 To Yuma. Just before he and Hugh Jackman unveiled a killer highlight reel as part of Fox’s Hall H panel, I sat down with Mangold to see why he related to Marvel Comics’ perennially pissed-off protagonist.
DEADLINE: You’ve directed actors like Reese Witherspoon, Joaquin Phoenix, Angelina Jolie and Sylvester Stallone to career performances, but with the possible exception of Knight & Day, your movies have always been very grounded in character and reality. What made you take the leap into the fantastical genre of superheroes?
JAMES MANGOLD: Several things appealed to me. The studio and the star were ready to do something different. This didn’t have to serve other films, we were operating off some perception of disappointment for the first film. To follow an act that tripped in some way gave us a lot of freedom. As for my own sensibility as a filmmaker, the opportunity I sensed was a chance to make a movie more like the comic books I’ve read and less like what I call comic book event movies. I’ve been a comic book fan since I was a kid, and they weren’t always about the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Every week, it was not about how a city, a continent or a universe will be destroyed if X doesn’t happen. That is unsustainable for the comic book writers. I think what is missing from a lot of comic book films reliant on peak battles is the angst, the character work, the things that as young people we related to. It was not infantile, but incredibly mature themes about life, death, betrayal, revenge, friendship, loyalty, parents, genetics, who we are and accepting ourselves for who we are. Those are themes in the comic books but the movies dabble in that but become about defeating a villain who’s intent on destroying the X that will occur unless Y happens to stop them. I was really interested in the idea of making a superhero film that purposely avoided putting the audience at risk. It seems all too often that comic book movies convey situations to the audience that, if the superhero doesn’t succeed, we’re all dead. I was trying to make a film that operated as a real drama, a real thriller, noir, Western or a real samurai film. Where you become invested in the heroes of the film worried about their interests, their needs, their safety, and not yours.
Amanda Seyfried is in negotiations to co-star alongside Reese Witherspoon in Three Little Words, which Witherspoon’s Walk The Line helmer James Mangold will direct. Lewis Colick and Michael Petroni wrote the script, an adaptation of the 2008 New York Times bestseller by Ashley Rhodes-Courter, about a Florida girl who entered the child welfare system when she was 4 and was lost within it for 9 years until an unpaid volunteer (Witherspoon) discovered her. Production is set to begin in September.
UPDATED: CBS picked up 3 more drama pilots tonight, the period Ralph Lamb project, which has James Mangold directing, PI show Applebaum directed by Christopher Columbus, and the Ilene Chaiken/Joel Silver character-driven procedural Quean.
The untitled Ralph Lamb project, from Goodfellas writer Nicholas Pileggi and CBS TV Studios, is set in the 1960s and is based on the true story of Ralph Lamb – rodeo cowboy turned longtime Sheriff of Las Vegas. Pileggi co-wrote the script with TV writer Greg Walker (Without a Trace), with James Mangold (Walk the Line) on board to direct. The three will executive produce with Mangold’s producing partner Cathy Konrad and another film producer, Arthur Sarkissian (Rush Hour). Pileggi originally developed the project as a movie at MGM with Sarkissian who got the rights back when MGM went through bankruptcy. Despite the demise of NBC’s The Playboy Club and ABC’s Pan Am, period dramas are hot again this pilot season. In addition to the Ralph Lamb project, NBC greenlighted Western The Frontier, while ABC picked up Gilded Lillys, set in 1895 New York.
Based on Ayelet Waldman’s Mommy Track Mysteries series of books, Applebaum, also from CBS Studios, centers on a former public defender who becomes a private investigator to keep from being bored to death as …
EXCLUSIVE: James Mangold’s next film will be the X-Men spinoff sequel The Wolverine with Hugh Jackman that 20th Century Fox will put in production next spring, but he has just come attached to direct City State, an Icelandic crime thriller that Mangold and his Tree Line Films partner Cathy Konrad will develop for a remake. They will produce with Danny Sherman and Josh Kesslman of Principal Entertainment.
Written and directed by Olaf de Fleur Johannesson, City State is set in the Icelandic underworld and deals with four people whose lives intersect when a foreign mafia decides to take control of the Icelandic drug market. There is a crooked police captain in love with a prostitute, an aging crime boss with a heart condition looking to get out of the game alive, a mechanic determined to avenge the death of his unborn child, and a female cop who is attacked by thugs and takes matters into her own hands. Mangold’s reps at WME and Management 360 will set this one up quickly. Here is a look at the trailer for the original.
EXCLUSIVE: Producer Cathy Konrad and James Mangold’s Tree Line Films will partner with Tom Pollock and Ivan Reitman’s Montecito Picture Company on an adaptation of the Anne Fortier novel Juliet. They’ve set the project at Paramount for Mangold to direct, and with Chad and Dara Creasey (New Line’s Mean Moms) writing the script. Mangold is booked to next direct Wolverine 2 for 20th Century Fox next spring.
The protagonist is a twentysomething woman who learns she is a descendant of one of the feuding families made infamous in Romeo and Juliet. She travels to Italy and discovers that the 600-year-old curse is still in effect and her fate is tied to literature’s greatest lovers. Konrad, Pollock, Reitman and Ali Bell will produce.
Bumble Ward, who halted her career as a personal publicist to take up creative writing in 2005, is in negotiations to head up film publicity at 20th Century Fox, I’m told. She would replace Carol Sewell and report to Oren Aviv and Tony Sella. When Ward stepped away from the PR game, it was a shock. At the time she shuttered the 10-year old firm she built after coming to Hollywood from London in 1987, Ward had a list of clients to die for — repping Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Marc Forster, Tony Scott, Stephen Gaghan, James Mangold, Mira Nair, Tim Burton and Paul Thomas Anderson. She also had a thriving Oscar-season business. I could not get a confirmation from Fox, but I believe this will all go down soon.
EXCLUSIVE: The studio says it never officially has given the sequel a production state date. Fox was looking at a Fall 2011 start date for the Christopher McQuarrie script for Wolverine 2 starring Hugh Jackman and directed by James Mangold. But now that may push back to Spring 2012. The screenplay mostly takes place in Japan. But studio insiders tell us it’s hard finding just where to shoot in Japan these days because of weather-related considerations. Now the location might switch to Canada or become a combination of the two countries. But we’re also hearing that the start date will wait until after Jackman finishes making Les Miserables. There’s no question that 20th Century Fox wants the pic badly and has been trying to get its sequel to the X-Men spinoff The Wolverine rolling for quite awhile now. In June it landed director Mangold after Darren Aronofsky bowed out in March, ending one of the most competitive contests among Hollywood helmers for a major studio film. That set up the studio thinking that it could begin production in the fall.
CBS Buys Drama From Glenn Gordon Caron, James Mangold And Cathy Konrad; Mangold & Konrad Sign Deal With CBS TV Studios
EXCLUSIVE: Glenn Gordon Caron spent the past 7 years on a show about a woman whose visions helped people reconnect with their deceased love ones. Now the Medium creator is taking on a hourlong project about a woman who helps people reconnect with love ones they have lost touch with. The CBS TV Studios-produced drama, which was bought by CBS, hails from James Mangold and Cathy Konrad’s company Treeline, which has signed a two-year overall deal with CBS Studios. It centers on an Erin Brockovich-type woman from Queens who searches for her own identity while reuniting others. Like Medium, which was based on the experience of psychic Allison DuBois, the new project too is inspired by a real person, licensed New Jersey investigator Pamela Slaton who solves unique missing persons’ cases.
The untitled drama is a longtime passion project for Konrad. Years ago, she enlisted the help of Slaton to find her birth parents and has been trying to bring Slaton’s stories to scripted television ever since. When she and Mangold made their deal at CBS TV Studios, Konrad found a kindred spirit in studio-based Caron, who recently inked a new overall deal there. Caron will write and direct the potential pilot and will executive produce with Mangold and Konrad. …
EXCLUSIVE: Welcome to the 1960s, Las Vegas style. CBS has put in development Ralph Lamb, a drama project set in the early ’60s from Goodfellas writer Nicholas Pileggi based on the true story of Ralph Lamb, a cowboy-turned-Las Vegas sheriff in the ’60s and ’70s. CBS TV Studios, which is producing the project, has assembled a formidable feature team. James Mangold (Walk the Line) is on board to direct. He will executive produce with his producing partner Cathy Konrad and another film producer, Arthur Sarkissian (Rush Hour). Pileggi will co-write the script with TV writer Greg Walker (Without a Trace). Pileggi originally developed the project as a movie at MGM with Sarkissian who got the rights back when MGM went through bankruptcy.
Ralph Lamb was Clark County’s longest-serving and most famous sheriff who was in charge for two decades — from 1961 to 1979. Known as the cowboy sheriff as he was often seen riding his horse, Lamb modernized the department, brought in a modern crime lab, assembled the city’s first SWAT team and oversaw the merger of the Las Vegas and the county law enforcement agencies into the Metropolitan Police Department. But he was probably best known for his tough stance on the Mafia, which still controlled most of the casinos at the time. He famously roughed up Chicago mobster Johnny Rosselli in public and sent him to jail. After making bail, Rosselli’s was never head from again until his corpse was found floating in a 55-gallon oil drum off Miami 10 years later. There has been speculation that that if mobsters were causing too much trouble, Lamb’s men simply killed them, but Lamb has denied such murders have ever occurred.
EXCLUSIVE: James Mangold is 20th Century Fox’s and star Hugh Jackman’s choice to direct The Wolverine, ending one of the most competitive contests among directors for a major studio film. Negotiations are about to get underway, but I’m told that Mangold will take the helming job on the sequel to the X-Men spinoff film, a post that became vacant when Darren Aronofsky dropped out of the film in March. I’d heard that Mangold was on a very short list coming into this week, along with Warrior director Gavin O’Connor and Brooklyn’s Finest helmer Antoine Fuqua. I’ve heard that Fox will look to start principal photography in the fall. Scripted by Christopher McQuarrie, The Wolverine takes place mostly in Japan. Mangold most recently directed the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer Knight and Day for Fox, and before that 3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line. Mangold’s repped by WME and Management 360.
James Mangold and wife/producing partner Cathy Konrad have signed with WME. Mangold most recently directed the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer Knight & Day, and before that the remake of 3:10 To Yuma and the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. Konrad produced all of those, and they also worked together on the series Men in Trees. They had been repped by CAA. They remain with Management 360.
EXCLUSIVE: Feature director James Mangold has come on board to direct the CBS/CBS Studios drama pilot Rookies, an ensemble cop show from The Color of Money writer Richard Price, which is executive produced by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal through their Tribeca production banner. Price also is exec producing the pilot, about six NYPD rookies who balance their personal lives with learning the beat on the streets of Manhattan. De Niro and Mangold worked together on the 1997 movie Cop Land, also about a group of NYPD policemen. Mangold directed the movie, which co-starred De Niro. Because of the duo’s great experience on Cop Land, De Niro and Rosenthal approached Mangold to direct Rookies. This is the second TV directing gig for CAA-repped Mangold, who also directed the pilot for Men in Trees and served as an executive producer on the ABC series.
Meanwhile, Mad Men helmer Lesli Linka Glatter has signed on to direct the ABC drama pilot Grace, from Grey’s Anatomy executive producer Krista Vernoff, a dysfunctional family drama set in the world of professional dance. WME-repped Glatter was nominated for an Emmy and won a DGA Award for the Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency episode of Mad Men. She recently directed the pilot for ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars.
EXCLUSIVE: The smash hit stage musical Wicked is taking its first formative steps toward the movie screen. I’m told the musical’s producer Marc Platt, book writer Winnie Holzman, and songwriter Stephen Schwartz have begun meeting with filmmakers. Insiders confirm that JJ Abrams, James Mangold, Ryan Murphy, and Rob Marshall are among the directors who’ve met or otherwise thrown their hat in the ring. More meetings will take place when the musical’s authors come to town in the fall. The film will be made at Universal, which produced the stage musical with Platt.
After the billion dollar gross of Alice In Wonderland, studios are combing their fairy tale books for classics. It’s crowded on the Oz front –Disney attached Sam Raimi to The Great and Powerful Oz, and Warner Bros has more than one film in development. But the $2 billion in global stage grosses for Wicked put it in league with Mamma Mia!, the long-running stage musical whose movie transfer grossed over $600 million worldwide for Universal.
Wicked, a Wizard of Oz prequel, is based on the Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and focuses on the early relationship between Glinda the Good and Elphaba, a green-skinned beauty before she ended up flying on a broomstick. Wicked began as a movie development project with Platt and Universal, before they changed course and took it to the stage first. It was an immediate sensation, quickly …