UPDATE, 12 PM: NBC has added another comedy pilot to the mix, the single-camera Two To Go, from Universal TV and studio-based David Janollari Entertainment and Jason Bateman‘s Aggregate. Written/co-exec produced by Bryan Shukoff and …
UPDATE: NBC Picks Up Dating Comedy Pilot From David Janollari & Jason Bateman, Lesbian Lead Comedy From Liz Feldman & Ellen DeGeneres
“Cynicism be gone!” Jason Bateman told TV critics during NBC’s Q&A session for new comedy Growing Up Fisher about a kid who played a large role in helping his father cover up his blindness until dad gets a guide dog when his parents divorce. (Watch trailer below) It’s based on the actual childhood of show creator/exec producer DJ Nash — including the pilot scene in which Dad, played by J.K. Simmons, cuts down a tree in the yard with a chainsaw while asking family members where the house is relative to the tree. Even so, TV critics at Winter TV Press Tour 2014 had trouble with the concept, and with the tone.
“Where’s the tears and the drama?” one critic asked of the pilot. It’s a comedy. Batemen, who exec produces and is The Voiceover Guy on the show, said they made a conscious decision to do Growing Up as a family show but with a new take and less treacle, so as to appeal to today’s maybe more cynical TV viewer.
NBC will preview Growing Up Fisher on February 23 at 10:30 PM, following the Sochi Games Closing Ceremonies. (Following the 2012 debacle when a preview of new NBC comedy Animal Practice aired before the end of the Olympics closing ceremony, Greenblatt today promised no interruption this time.) After that, it will be paired in the Tuesday 9 PM block with About A Boy, following The Voice, starting February 25.
One critic, who noted NBC’s Olympics coverage probably will include “300 promotional spots” for the show, wondered if the producers worried there would be backlash from viewers who felt the show was being “shoved down their throats.”
The comedy from Darko Entertainment, Aggregate Films and MXN stars Jason Bateman in his feature directorial debut. He plays a 40-year-old Guy Trilby, who finds a loophole in the National Spelling Bee rules and enters the competition. As he dusts his preteen rivals, a reporter (Kathryn Hahn) digs into Guy’s …
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Bateman, who made an auspicious feature directorial debut with the Toronto festival smash Bad Words, next will direct Nicole Kidman in The Family Fang, the adaptation of the Kevin Wilson bestseller. Bateman will also star in the film. The script is by David Lindsay-Abaire, who adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole as a vehicle that got Kidman an Oscar nomination. Olympus Pictures’ Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech will produce with Blossom Films partners Kidman and Per Saari, Aggregate Films partners Bateman and Jim Garavente, and QED International’s Bill Block.
QED will finance, and principal photography will begin next year.
The Family Fang is about a couple of performance artists who routinely sucked their kids into taking part in a variety of bizarre events. When the full-grown children return home in a state of crisis, they are unwittingly enlisted to help in the execution of a daring and mysterious final performance by their parents, who are hellbent on achieving the act of a lifetime. Their kids harbor more than a little resentment and blame the performance art for how badly their own lives have turned out.
Here’s the official release from Focus Features confirming Deadline’s morning scoop:
TORONTO, September 7th, 2013 – Worldwide rights to the comedy Bad Words, directed by and starring Jason Bateman, have been acquired by Focus Features for a 2014 theatrical release. Focus CEO James Schamus and co-CEO Andrew Karpen made the announcement today at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie is having its world premiere.
Bad Words, a Darko Entertainment/Aggregate Films/MXN production, was represented at Toronto by Creative Artists Agency and Hicks Professional Law Corporation, which made the deal with Focus at the Festival. The movie is the feature directorial debut of Mr. Bateman, who last starred in the blockbuster comedy Identity Thief and is currently an Emmy Award nominee for Arrested Development. Mr. Bateman is also a producer of the new movie through his company Aggregate, with Academy Award nominee Mason Novick (Juno) of MXN and Darko’s Sean McKittrick and Jeff Culotta. Andrew Dodge wrote the original screenplay; it is his first to be produced, and it was selected for “The Black List” in 2011.
In the movie, Mr. Bateman portrays Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man seeking catharsis in his life. He seizes the ideal that this will come for him through…the National Spelling Bee; after discovering a loophole in the rules, Guy zealously joins the competition and easily outpaces the pre-teen field in match after match. As reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn of Afternoon Delight) delves into Guy’s story, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely friendship with a competitor, awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya (Rohan Chand of Homeland), which may spell things differently for his future. Bad Words also stars Screen Actors Guild Award winner Allison Janney, Ben Falcone (Bridesmaids), Rachael Harris (The Hangover), and Philip Baker Hall (Argo).
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, 8:48 AM: Focus Features is making a big acquisition of Bad Words, paying in the vicinity of $7 million for world rights, I’m told. It marks the first big money deal at Toronto. The film marks the directorial debut of Jason Bateman, who stars as a man who discovers a loophole in the rules of the National Spelling Bee. He dominates the pre-pubescent competition with keen spelling skills and and a propensity for trash talking. He forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward boy of Indian descent, and all the while a reporter trails him trying to find his real motivation for disrupting the spelling bee world.
After receiving mixed critical response in its Venice world premiere, the Kennedy assassination docudrama Parkland took on the Toronto International Film Festival and received a good response for a movie that looks at the events of that fateful day 50 years ago from several different perspectives. Those include a young surgeon operating on the fallen President in the emergency room, Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother and mother, the FBI, Abraham Zapruder and others. Nicely directed by first-timer Peter Landesman, a former New York Times reporter, the film has the sensibility of a journalist and stays close to the known facts while still illuminating. At the premiere’s afterparty at Soho House he told me, “I wanted to create a visual language in the beginning that would allow the audience to feel like what they were seeing was happening and real… I did want to take the audience by hand and bring them into an idea that what they are watching happening is actually unfolding in front of them,” said the veteran who’s covered many international wars. He dismissed potential complaints that the filmmaker might be exploiting the Kennedy tragedy, particularly on the cusp on the 50th anniversary, by explaining that the emergency room scenes were carefully thought out:”I feel like we cut a very dignified movie. To not have any sense of the violence would be to betray what the movie is about. I actually feel that the cut’s dignified. We actually had cuts in the movie that were a lot bloodier. At the end of the day we didn’t want to alienate our audience.”
Landesman said it came about when he originally wrote a screenplay about Watergate for producer Tom Hanks (who produced this film with Playtone partner Gary Goetzman and actor Bill Paxton). That script has yet to be produced. But it led to Hanks handing Landesman a Vincent Bugliosi book written about those four days in November 1963. So he worked on it and researched it for nearly five years and decided there was a movie there that nobody had ever seen. Although Hanks was busy acting on Broadway, he was very involved. “Gary was there for every frame. And Tom was intimately involved with the development of the screenplay and the casting. You know Tom. His integrity is so important, not only as a brand and a producer but Tom’s sensibilities and instincts are so important,” Landesman said.
Anthony D’Alessandro is Managing Editor of AwardsLine.
The growing pain of a child actor eventually building their career as an adult is often a gamble, potentially taking a toll on their personal and professional lives. But then there are triumphs such as Jason Bateman. Once a centerfold in teen magazines for his pungent personas on such NBC ‘80s sitcoms Silver Spoons and It’s Your Move, Bateman transformed into a bankable leading man in feature comedies such as Couples Retreat and Horrible Bosses, thanks in tremendous part to his role as Michael Bluth, a decent, single father who is surrounded by the idiocy of his conniving, affluent family on the Fox millennial sitcom Arrested Development. Netflix revived the show this spring with a fourth season to mixed reviews and a moderate bump in subscribers. Nonetheless, 2013 is shaping up to be a banner year for Bateman: Not only did he earn his second Emmy nomination as lead comedy actor for Arrested Development, but his first production under his Universal label Aggregate Films, Identity Thief, was a solid winter hit ($174 million global B.O.). Next week, he’ll premiere his feature directorial debut, the dark comedy Bad Words, at the Toronto film festival, in which he also stars. And in two months, he’ll begin production on Horrible Bosses 2. Bateman spoke with us about the challenges with the fourth season of Arrested Development as well as his multi-hyphenate career as a producer and actor.
Related: EMMYS: Comedy Lead Acting Handicap
AwardsLine: Why did you decide to return to Arrested Development? It’s not common for a marquee box office star in your position to return to a TV show he once headlined and make a 15 episode commitment. If you said ‘No’ the whole show might not have occurred.
Jason Bateman: Well, it’s not lost on me that this show was a rebirth for me. Without that show I’d be parking cars somewhere. There was a certain sense of wanting to do it out of loyalty as well as the fact it was one of the best jobs I ever had. So, to be able to work with all these people again and in the same capacity, it was a no brainer for me. So, I had no trepidation about it whatsoever, except for the format we were going to do. (Arrested Development creator) Mitch (Hurwitz) explained to me that it was going to be one episode per character and I thought, ‘I’m not sure that people are going to really love that.’ I’m willing to offer my services to be in every episode if you want, and if that seems budget-arily impossible, let’s not worry about that and I’ll make it work.
Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Andrea Riseborough and Alexander Skarsgård star in LD Entertainment‘s ensemble drama about the dangers of life in the digital age. Director Henry Alex Rubin, who earned an Oscar nomination for his 2005 documentary Murderball, helms his first …
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Jason Bateman spoke about the possibility of a forthcoming Arrested Development movie as if it were practically a sure thing during a TCA panel promoting the long-awaited return of the comedy with 14 new installments on Netflix after a decade-long absence. The show is set to debut in originals in May, with all 14 being made available simultaneously via Netflix. The fresh episodes are “basically just the first act that we hope to complete in a movie, which will be acts 2 and 3,” star Bateman said. “The episodes will set that up, and one will not work without the other.” But he quickly added, “This will, however, provide a satisfying conclusion if for some unfortunate reason the movie doesn’t happen.” In other words, this isn’t merely a one-time novelty return of Arrested Development but the first element in the franchise’s continued re-invigoration — they hope. Creator/exec producer Mitch Hurwitz explained after the panel that what became a series originally was conceived as a movie. “We’d mapped this out as a movie and then worked backwards to do these shows. So it might not be a movie. It might be something else. I’d be happy with it as ColorForms at this point.”
EXCLUSIVE: Jason Bateman and his Aggregate Films production banner have teamed with Up All Night executive producer DJ Nash for Then Came Elvis, a single-camera comedy that has sold to NBC. This marks the first TV project for Aggregate Films, which was launched in January with two-year first-look deals at Universal Pictures and Universal TV. Set in the 1980s and loosely based on Nash’s life, Then Came Elvis is about a family that finally comes together when the parents divorce. Told through voice-over from the adult son’s perspective, the series examines how, at 13, the son would have changed just about everything that was happening, but as an adult looking back, he wouldn’t change a thing. Nash will executive produce with Bateman and Aggregate president, Jim Garavente. Universal TV, where both Aggregate and Nash are under deals, will produce.