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Anthony LaPaglia Joins ‘Django Unchained’, Laments Hardships Pushing Film Actors To TV

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Anthony LaPaglia has joined Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained cast. LaPaglia will play the leader of a group of greedy Australians who encounter slave-turned-bounty hunter Django (Jamie Foxx) as they are escorting a group of slaves recently purchased as fighters. LaPaglia said he and Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play mean brothers, and LaPaglia said he was bowled over by the script. “It’s wildly ambitious and imaginative, deals with that subject matter in a way it hasn’t been dealt with before,” LaPaglia told me. “The way the cast has shaped up, it’s exciting to be involved.” It will be the second film in a row where LaPaglia can readopt the Australian accent he grew up with but dropped for many of his Hollywood roles and the series Without A Trace. He wrapped the PJ Hogan-directed Mental with Toni Collette and Liev Schreiber, a film that LaPaglia said is partly based on the filmmaker’s own experiences. “I play the father, who in real life had committed his mother to a mental institution, who had five kids, picked up a hitchhiker [Collette] on the way back and said, you’re taking care of the kids now.” LaPaglia said Hogan got rights to tunes from The Sound Of Music, and uses them in unexpected ways. “I absolutely assassinate “Edelweiss,” just tear it to shreds so badly that I’m sure Christopher Plummer would have a fit. It was meant to be terrible, and it is.” Read More »

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Kerry Washington Lands ‘Django Unchained’ Lead

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Kerry Washington has won the role of Broomhilda in Django Unchained. Director Quentin Tarantino made his choice and The Weinstein Company began exclusive negotiations with her CAA reps last night. She’ll play the long-suffering slave wife of Django (Jamie Foxx), who is freed by a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) and taught the tricks of that trade. Django’s real desire is to be reunited with his wife, who winds up in a variety of unsavory places and whose travails drive the plot. It leads to a confrontation in Candyland, a ranch owned by the notorious Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Tarantino had his eye on Washington from the beginning, but he was also intrigued with making a discovery in the role, and that led to a long casting search before the director went back to Washington for the female lead. Washington will next be seen in The Details, and she stars with Eddie Murphy in A Thousand Words. She is managed by Katherine Atkinson of Washington Square Arts.

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Quentin Tarantino Setting Don Johnson For ‘Django Unchained’

Mike Fleming

Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino has offered the role of wealthy plantation owner Spencer Bennett to Don Johnson, and they are negotiating for Johnson to join a cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Kurt Russell. The picture shoots this fall with The Weinstein Company distributing domestically and Sony foreign. Tarantino is always good for a surprise or two when he goes beyond the obvious casting lists and taps talent from his memory banks, something he has done with the likes of John Travolta and the late David Carradine. Putting the former Miami Vice and Nash Bridges star into a villainous role here seems inspired. The liberated slave Django (Foxx) and his bounty hunter partner (Waltz) meet the evil plantation owner in pursuit of a bounty, and he turns the table on them. Tarantino has been talking to Johnson some time about the role. Johnson most recently played a character called Miles Deep in the recent comedy Bucky Larson: Born To Be A Star, but soon his most recent credit will be a big Tarantino film.

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Obama Steps Up 2012 Hollywood Fundraising

GOP Candidates Seeking Hollywood Help

“We were discussing the new season of Glee,” tweeted Modern Family‘s Jesse Tyler Ferguson about what he and President Obama said to one another last night at the Sunset Strip’s House of Blues. It’s where the actor emceed one of two Hollywood fundraisers for Obama’s re-election campaign Monday. According to a White House pool report, Obama greeted Ferguson, turned to the microphone, and said, “I was telling him that Michelle and the girls love them some Modern Family.” Some in the crowd chanted “Four more years”. Roughly 900 people paid ticket prices starting at $250 and as much as $10,000 (to secure a photo with the president).

The second fundraiser cost $17,900 for each of the 120 people in attendance at Melrose Avenue’s Fig & Olive restaurant. The private event’s co-hosts included Hollywood producer Jeffrey Katzenberg, his longtime political adviser Andy Spahn, and Tennis Channel CEO Ken Solomon. “I’m going to need your help, so don’t get tired on me now,” Obama was quoted by a pool report as telling showbiz attendees like Judd Apatow, Aaron Sorkin, Jamie Foxx, Jack Black, Eva Longoria, Danny DeVito, Rhea Perlman, and Jon Landau (producer of Avatar and Titanic). “I urge some of you to watch the Republican debates,” Obama added.

Obama received a standing ovation from the industry types seated at round tables with white table linens. But news of the president’s impending Hollywood fundraising was punctuated by several media articles proclaiming that Tinseltown support for him had eroded greatly since 2008. Recently Democratic activists like Robert Redford, Matt Damon, and Michael Moore have criticized Obama’s inability to stay the liberal course. Katzenberg seemed to address that disappointment when he introduced Obama by saying, “We must keep fighting for him so he can keep fighting for us.” Katzenberg also noted, “I have a dependency on President Obama. He inherited a crashing economy and two wars and opponents who questioned if he was even born (in the U.S.). Yet he kept us moving forward. He was dealt adversity on all fronts, but he maintained his stature.” Read More »

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Kevin Costner Exits Mandingo Trainer Role In Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Costner has dropped out of Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, an exit I’m told is due to a combination of scheduling and personal reasons. Costner had agreed to play the supporting role of Ace Woody in the Sergio Leone-style Spaghetti Western. The problem was it would have tied up about two months of his schedule even though he’s not in that many scenes. Costner is playing Pa Kent in the Superman reboot Man of Steel, and doing the miniseries The Hatfields and McCoys for History (which he’s also producing) and it was a bit much. It’s too bad, because the role would have been a real departure for an actor who has mostly played good guys. Costner was going to play Woody, a humorless and sadistic trainer of the male fighting slaves who entertain the white patrons of Candyland, a hellhole that also used female slaves as prostitutes. Candyland is the club and ranch owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio),   and Ace Woody is the one who pits the “mandingo” fighters against one another, and who has little qualms about mistreating and even killing the slaves who don’t measure up. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson star, with Foxx playing the title character, a slave-turned-bounty hunter who must take on those villains to free his slave wife. Tarantino is still testing … Read More »

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What’s Really Happening With Mike Myers And ‘Austin Powers 4′?

Mike Fleming

After the Hitfix website reported that Mike Myers had signed a deal to do a fourth Austin Powers film, other websites are running wild with it. What’s really going on? Well, I wouldn’t necessarily dress for the premiere just yet. No deal has yet been signed, and top New Line brass are surprised the whole thing has reared up after they made Myers an offer six months to a year ago, and hear nothing. Forgive New Line for being skeptical: The film company thought it was well on the way to another Austin Powers installment when it made a deal in 2008 with Myers to collaborate with Mike McCullers for a Dr. Evil film that was to focus on his relationship with son Scotty (Seth Green), meant to be an unabashed homage to Myers’ father, whose Brit influence basically prodded Myers to create the British agent Austin Powers character in the first place. Then, Myers’ screen creation, The Love Guru, opened to $13 million in June 2008 against the nearly $40 million that Steve Carell’s Get Smart grossed with Steve Carell. Myers went AWOL, surfacing only for a small role in Inglourious Basterds. McCullers never moved forward with the script. Read More »

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Kevin Costner Joining Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Quentin Tarantino never has trouble putting together good casts for his films, but his Sergio Leone-style Spaghetti Western Django Unchained is turning out to be quite something. Kevin Costner is in negotiations to join a cast that is headed by Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio. Costner is in talks to play Ace Woody, and it’s a real surprise turn for an actor most associated with good guy roles. He’s the sadistic trainer of the male fighting slaves who entertain the white patrons of Candyland as well as the female slaves who are forced to be prostitutes. The club and ranch are owned by Calvin Candie (DiCaprio) and Ace Woody is the one who pits the “mandingo” fighters against one another, and has little qualms about mistreating and even killing the slaves who don’t measure up. The roles that DiCaprio and Costner will play are every bit as sadistic as the one that Waltz played in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, and while Costner is still doing fine work, this could shine a light on him the way that Pulp Fiction did for John Travolta.

Foxx will play the title character, a slave-turned-bounty hunter who must take on those villains to free his slave wife. It’s looking like Tarantino might make a discovery on that role, a character named Broomhilda. The Weinstein Company will put the picture into production in the early fall, with Sony Pictures … Read More »

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‘King Of Kong’ Director Seth Gordon Ready To Play ‘War Games’ In MGM Reboot

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: MGM will reboot the 1983 thriller War Games, and the studio has set Seth Gordon to develop the film to direct. Gordon, who made his breakthrough with the gaming documentary The King of Kong, most recently directed the New Line comedy Horrible Bosses, with Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Jamie Foxx. The reconstituted MGM has been going to town with remakes — landing Jose Padilha to direct Robocop and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to script Carrie – but the John Badham-directed War Games is one that seems particularly reboot-able.

The original starred Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy as computer prodigies who finds a back door into a military computer program. They think they are playing games with the computer only to find they could trigger WWIII if the computer launches nuclear missiles at the Russians. In terms of computer games, kids were playing Pong back then; the level of sophistication with vidgames and the Internet in the digital age opens a wealth of possibilities, and Gordon will be given a wide berth to create a new take on the tale. The deal also reunites him with MGM toppers Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber and Jon Glickman, who were at Spyglass when Gordon directed Four Christmases there. Gordon’s repped by WME and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

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Jamie Foxx Looming Large In ‘Django Unchained’

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Quentin Tarantino has made his choice and negotiations will begin for Jamie Foxx to play the title character in Django Unchained. Tarantino’s next film will be distributed domestically by The Weinstein Company and overseas by Sony Pictures. Production begins November.

Foxx will join Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in a Sergio Leone-style spaghetti Western that Tarantino wrote and has set in Mississippi during slavery. No deal has been made yet, but it shouldn’t take long. While the early focus had Will Smith the likely participant, Deadline told you on June 7 that those talks had gone south, and we were first to identify Foxx as a prime contender for the role along with Idris Elba and Chris Tucker.

The choice of Foxx is an inspired one. After transitioning from comedies to dramas, Foxx proved himself a formidable physical presence in films like Any Given Sunday, Collateral, Jarhead and Law Abiding Citizen, and has shown his acting chops there and in his Oscar-winning turn in Ray. Those facets are prerequisites for the role of Django. And Foxx can ride a horse, too.

Django is a slave who’s liberated by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter and taught the tricks of the trade by his mentor. Django’s major goal in life is to recover his wife, and to do it he needs to get past the villainous ranch owner Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), who runs Candyland, a despicable club and plantation … Read More »

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Leonardo DiCaprio In Early Talks For Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Talks are about to get underway for Leonardo DiCaprio to play the role of villainous ranch owner Calvin Candie in Django Unchained, the Sergio Leone-style spaghetti Western that Quentin Tarantino wrote and will direct as his next film. DiCaprio is being courted to play a charming but ruthless proprietor of Candyland, a despicable club  and plantation in Mississippi where female slaves are exploited as sex objects and males are pitted against each other in “mandingo” style death matches. Candie is a slave’s worst nightmare and the freed slave Django must cross him in order to reclaim his wife.

Now, deal making discussions are just getting underway, but I’m told there is a much higher likelihood of DiCaprio taking part in the film at this point than Will Smith, who had been reported as lead candidate to play the title role of DJango, a slave who is liberated and taught the tricks of the trade by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter. That role is expected to be played by Christoph Waltz, who won an Oscar playing Hans Landa in Tarantino’s last film, Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction star Samuel L. Jackson is also expected to play the role of Stephen, Candie’s valet who keeps the slaves in line at Candie’s residence. Tarantino turned in his script in late April to The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein, and Sony Pictures signed on … Read More »

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BET Looking To Revive ‘Showtime At The Apollo’ With Jamie Foxx & Don Weiner

By | Monday May 16, 2011 @ 12:10pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Long-running syndication variety show Showtime At the Apollo is staging a comeback, this time on BET. The cable network is finalizing a deal for a pilot order to a Showtime at the Apollo revival executive produced by Jamie Foxx and the the show’s original executive producer/director Don Weiner. If picked up to series, Showtime is expected to air as a primetime series on the cable network.

As a young producer in the late 1980s, Weiner found a video camera, taped a demo and sold Showtime at the Apollo in weekly syndication, where it launched in 1987. Weiner eventually left to work on unscripted series, including Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance. Following his departure, Showtime, which continued the tradition of The Apollo Theater’s famous Amateur Night, went through several producing teams and hosts before ending its 21-year run in 2008. Weiner recently tracked down the rights to the franchise, now owned by the nonprofit Apollo Theater Foundation, and acquired them. Then his agency, CAA, hooked him up with Foxx, who, as a young comedian had been booed off the Apollo stage. The unpleasant memories didn’t damper Foxx’s enthusiasm for the project. He immediately joined it, along with his producing partner Marcus King, who also has a connection to the original show — as a manager, he represented one of its early hosts, Mark Curry. Foxx, King and Weiner took … Read More »

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Fox’s Jamie Foxx/Affion Crockett Sketch Comedy Series Gets Title, Premiere Date

By | Tuesday April 26, 2011 @ 6:19am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Fox has scheduled In the Flow with Affion Crockett, the half-hour sketch-comedy series hosted by and starring comedian Affion Crockett and executive produced by Jamie Foxx. The series, previously Untitled Jamie Foxx/Affion Crockett Project, will have a one-hour premiere on Sunday, Aug. 14, at 9 PM before moving to its regular Sunday 9:30 PM time slot the following week. In the Flow will also air reruns at midnight on Saturdays beginning Aug. 20. Fox originally picked up the project to series in early September with a 12-episode midseason order. In January, Fox announced that the sketch comedy was getting a preview after American Idol on March 31 and a premiere on June 9. Both the preview and the June launch date were subsequently scrapped while the show’s order was cut from 12 to 6 episodes. Described as being in the vein of In Living Color, In the Flow is a take on pop culture with spoofs of movie trailers, commercials, TV shows, music videos and celebrities. It features guest appearances by rapper/actor Snoop Dogg, Russell Simmons, singer Chris Brown, sports analyst Michael Strahan, actor Harry Shum Jr. (Glee), choreographer Lil’ C, actor/comedian JB Smoove, actor David Koechner (The Office) and dance crew X-Mob. The series is produced by Fox TV Studios, Foxx/King Entertainment and Tantamount Studios. Foxx, Todd Yasui, Marcus King, Jaime Rucker King, Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum and Mitch Hurwitz are executive producing, with Carl Jones co-executive … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: ‘Rio’

By | Saturday January 29, 2011 @ 7:32am PST
Mike Fleming

20th Century Fox has shared a two-minute scene from Rio, the 3D animated film by Carlos Saldanha, the guy behind the Ice Age films and Robots. The film, about a macaw that leaves the cold of Minnesota for the warmth of Rio, has a voice cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx and George Lopez.

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NBC Picks Up Jamie Foxx’s ‘Girl’ That Could Star Selma Blair And Scot Armstrong’s ‘Life’

Nellie Andreeva

After lengthy negotiations, NBC has closed a deal for Jamie Foxx’s drama project Tommy’s Little Girl based on the trailer Foxx shot with Selma Blair, Paul Sorvino, Tony Sirico and James Russo. The network also has picked up Life Is Good, a comedy from Unhitched creators Chris Pappas and Mike Bernier and Hangover 2 writer Scot Armstrong. Based on Foxx’s idea, Girl is described as Le Femme Nikita meets The Sopranos and centers on a young girl (Blair) raised in a mafia family who is hidden away in an orphanage after her family is murdered by a competing mafia crime boss. She grows up to become an attorney by day, and a deadly, well trained killer by night, as she avenges her family’s murder and attempts to locate her last living relative. Jorge Zamacona has been tapped to write the script and executive produce. Read More »

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Fox Orders Jamie Foxx Sketch Comedy Series For Midseason

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Fox is prepping a primetime sketch comedy series for midseason from Oscar winner and In Living Color alum Jamie Foxx. The network has handed out a 12-episode order to the half-hour comedy, tentatively titled The Jamie Foxx Project. Foxx, Fox TV Studios and producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum were behind a sketch comedy pilot for Fox this past development cycle. I hear the new project will be different and the original pilot won’t be used. Rising sketch comedian/actor Affion Crockett (The Boondocks), who co-starred in the pilot, will star on the series and produce. One of the pilot’s co-writers, Carl Jones also will stay on as writer/co-executive producer.

In the vein of Fox’s 1990s sketch/variety series In Living Color, which gave Foxx his break, The Jamie Foxx Project will take on pop culture, spoofing movie trailers, commercials, TV shows, music videos and celebrities, with a diverse cast of young new comedians. FtvS, Foxx/King Entertainment and The Tannenbaum Co. are producing the series, with Foxx, Marcus King and Jaime Rucker King, Foxx’s managers and producing partners at Foxx/King Entertainment, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum executive producing.

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Jamie Foxx Forms Funded Specialty TV/Pic Shingle With Deon Taylor

By | Wednesday August 11, 2010 @ 5:44pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Jamie Foxx has partnered with Deon Taylor to form No Brainer Films, a shingle that will generate films and TV series at under $10 million. The projects will be financed by Robert Smith, founder and managing principal of the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners.

The venture hatched after Foxx and Taylor co-wrote and co-directed the TV series Tommy’s Little Girl,  a mob drama that stars Selma Blair, Paul Sorvino, Tony Sirico and James Russo.  Foxx continues to partner in Foxx-King Entertainment while Taylor continues to run Deon Taylor Enterprises. Taylor has written, directed and produced the upcoming horror thriller Chain Letter.

Foxx, meanwhile, will next be seen reuniting with his The Soloist costar Robert Downey Jr. in the Todd Phillips-directed Warner Bros film Due Date. Downey stars in that film with Zach Galifianakis but Foxx plays a pivotal part in the road comedy.

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Kevin Spacey: Another Horrible Boss Turn

Mike Fleming

spacey-headshot2Now here is perfect casting. Kevin Spacey has joined the roster of Horrible Bosses, the Seth Gordon-directed New Line comedy that stars Jennifer Aniston, Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis. Donald Sutherland has also joined the cast–playing a nice boss. Brett Ratner and Jay Stern produced the film.

Of course Spacey’s playing one of the title characters. (For my money, Spacey played the most horrible boss I’ve ever seen onscreen in 1994′s Swimming with Sharks.) Filming on Horrible Bosses begins in July. CAA and Joanne Horowitz made Spacey’s deal. Spacey, who most recently completed the George Hickenlooper-directed Casino Jack, is now shooting the JC Chandor-directed indie Margin Call about eight high finance-types in the first 24 hours of the financial crisis of 2008. Spacey’s been working more lately, but he still is Artistic Director of London’s Old Vic Theatre.

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Jamie Foxx Preps Mob TV Drama Project

By | Tuesday June 22, 2010 @ 3:36pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

jamie_foxxEXCLUSIVE: Jamie Foxx is getting entrepreneurial with a new drama TV project. I hear the Oscar winner over the past two weeks shot a trailer for a potential drama series entitled Tommy’s Little Girl. Selma Blair and Paul Sorvino star in the trailer for the project, which is based on an idea by Foxx. It revolves around several older mobster guys, played by Sorvino, Sopranos alum Tony Sirico and James Russo, and centers on Sorvino’s relationship with his daughter, played by Blair. Foxx is currently editing the trailer for the project, which is being financed by a private investor. When ready, it will be taken out to the top cable networks. Foxx has been focusing on TV producing lately. selma-blair-5Paul_Sorvino1tony_siricoThis past pilot season, he executive produced a sketch-comedy pilot for Fox. Foxx is with CAA; Blair with Gersh; Sorvino with Innovative and KLWG; Sirico with Bob McGowan.

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