EXCLUSIVE: Jay Roach first got in business with HBO as a director and producer of the network’s 2008 movie Recount, about the aftermath of the 2000 U.S. presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush, which earned him two Emmy Awards and led to another Emmy-winning HBO movie, Game Change, and an overall deal with the pay cable network. Now Roach is teaming with Gore’s daughter, author-screenwriter Kristin Gore, for a half-hour comedy series project at HBO. Written by Gore, Women In Space follows a group of women exploring the final frontier on a mission to colonize another planet. Gore and Roach executive produce. Women In Space is part of Roach’s deal at HBO, which has yielded a new series, upcoming comedy The Brink starring Tim Robbins and Jack Black. A former editor of The Harvard Lampoon, Gore has written for Saturday Night Live and Futurama. She recently co-wrote the indie War Story, which premiered at the Sundance, and was a writer for the Academy Awards.
EXCLUSIVE: In a very quick turnaround, HBO has given a series order to The Brink, its comedy pilot starring Jack Black and Tim Robbins, directed by Jay Roach and executive produced by Jerry Weintraub. Written by former Weeds executive producer Roberto Benabib and his brother Kim Benabib, The Brink is an epic dark comedy focusing on a geopolitical crisis and its effect on three disparate and desperate men: U.S. Secretary of State Walter Hollander (Robbins); Alex Coppins (Black), a lowly Foreign Service officer; and Zeke Callahan (Pablo Schreiber), an ace Navy fighter pilot. These three compromised souls must pull through the chaos around them to save the planet from World War III. Aasif Mandvi, Maribeth Monroe, Geoff Pierson, Esai Morales and Eric Ladin co-star on the series, executive produced by Roberto Benabib, Weintraub and Roach. Kim Benabib and Susie Ekins co-executive produce.
This marks the first HBO series for Weintraub and Roach, who both have deals with the pay cable network and established relationships there. Weintraub executive produced HBO Films’ Emmy-winning movie Behind The Candelabra, while Roach directed and exec produced the Emmy-winning HBO movies Game Change and Recount.
The Brink’s road to HBO’s primetime started with an email Weintraub received while in Europe, which contained the Benabibs’ script. “I read it and I fell in love with it,” he said. When he came back to Los Angeles, Weintraub had lunch with Roach about a movie project where Roach mentioned that he had been looking to do a half-hour comedy. Weintraub ran to his office and brought Roach The Brink script. Joking that Roach “is famous for taking three years to make up his mind” on anything, Wentraub heard from the director the very next day. “He calls me and he says, ‘I’m in, the script is too good’.” Read More »
Former Weeds executive producer Roberto Benabib is taking on another dark comedy premium cable project. He has teamed with HBO-based producers Jay Roach and Jerry Weintraub forThe Brink, a half-hour comedy, which has received a pilot order from the network. Directed by Roach and written by Benabib and his brother, Kim Benabib, The Brink is described as an epic dark comedy focusing on a geopolitical crisis and its effect on three disparate and desperate men: U.S. Secretary of State Walter Hollander, lowly Foreign Service officer Alex Coppins and ace Navy fighter pilot Zeke Callahan. These three compromised souls must pull through the chaos around them to save the planet from World War III. Roberto Benabib, Weintraub and Roach are executive producing, with Kim Benabib serving as a co-executive producer. Roach won Emmys for directing and executive producing the HBO movies Recount and Game Change, both of which dealt with political events.
EXCLUSIVE: When he completes his tour de force run in Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston will play the title role in the Jay Roach-directed Trumbo, the fact-based feature of the man who broke the Hollywood blacklist. Michael London’s Groundswell Productions is putting the film together for a 2014 start and it will be Cranston’s first big job after the AMC series that has brought him three Emmys with a nomination for a fourth to be determined this weekend. John McNamara wrote the script.
Trumbo was the highest paid screenwriter in the world when, in 1950, he was sent to prison for refusing to answer the questions of Congress’ infamous House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Rebellious even after his release, Trumbo became the movies’ most prolific blacklisted writer, secretly writing such classics as Roman Holiday and winning two Academy Awards — under fake names.
It was no easy living though, as the blacklist remained unbreakable and destroyed careers, friendships and lives. Trumbo’s relationship with wife and children were tested almost to the breaking point, but nothing could stop his campaign to break the boycott. In the end, Trumbo helped ignite a battle against Hollywood and D.C., eventually clearing his name and ending the blacklist once and for all. McNamara adapted the book by Bruce Cook. London is producing with Janice Williams, Kevin Brown and McNamara. Kelly Mullen is executive producer. Groundswell is setting up the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A potential single-camera comedy series for HBO is building a formidable team. Jay Roach is set to direct the project, titled The Third Coast, which has Annette Bening attached to star. I hear Bening and the producers are doing an informal reading to get a feel for the show before they take it formally to HBO, the network for which it is earmarked. Written by Paul Rudnick, Third Coast revolves around a larger-than-life casting director (Bening) in New Mexico. Rudnick, Roach and John Lyons executive produce. The Third Coast brings Oscar-nominated Bening back to HBO where she toplined the 2005 movie Mrs. Harris, earning an Emmy nomination. For Roach, Third Coast falls under a two-year deal with HBO he inked last year on the heels of back-to-back best movie/miniseries and directing Emmys he landed for the network’s Recount and Game Change.
EXCLUSIVE: The doping scandal that enveloped the Tour de France and led to the downfall of 7-time champion Lance Armstrong is now the focus of movies being developed by two major studios. Warner Bros has just acquired an untitled project from Atlas Entertainment’s Charles Roven and Alex Gartner that will be scripted by Side Effects scribe Scott Z. Burns to be directed by Jay Roach. Roach, coming off the Emmy-winning HBO pics Game Change and Recount, will produce with Roven and Gartner. The package includes the life rights of Tyler Hamilton, the former professional bike racer who was in Armstrong’s inner circle on the US Postal Service Team.
A former Olympic gold medalist and NCAA champion, Hamilton was one of the first insiders to testify under oath and come forward publicly–on 60 Minutes—to break the code of silence. Michael Radutzky, an executive producer at CBS News and senior producer for 60 Minutes, is also in talks to produce. The studio is in talks to acquire confidential rights of other key individuals involved in the story, and all of this creates the tapestry to explore the biggest and most sophisticated doping scandal in the history of sports. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: After delving into politics with the HBO movies Game Change and Recount,Jay Roach is turning to religion for his next project at the pay cable network. HBO has put in development drama Our Father, which has Roach set to direct and Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick to write. The three will executive produce the show, which falls under a two-year overall deal Roach signed with HBO earlier this year. Our Father centers on one of America’s most powerful pastors who fights to rediscover faith, reconnect with family, and return to dominance in the face of unlikely enemies. Read More »
Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Jay Roach’s political movies span the spectrum: not from conservative to liberal, but from drama to comedy. Likely to be nominated at Emmy time is HBO’s Game Change, the story of Sarah Palin’s vice presidential nomination, written by Danny Strong, based on the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Roach also collaborated with Strong on HBO’s Emmy-winning Recount, about the 2000 presidential race. But Roach is casting a vote for comedy with his August 10 feature The Campaign, with funnymen Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two Southerners vying for a seat in Congress. He’s also developing a Watergate film based on the memoirs of the real Deep Throat, former FBI agent Mark Felt.
AWARDSLINE: For a series, an Emmy can save a bubble show from cancellation. What does Emmy mean to a made-for-TV movie? JAY ROACH: Getting noticed by the Emmys for a TV movie is an even bigger deal. Series are up and running continuously, but a TV movie hits once and runs a few times and unless it gets noticed, it gets forgotten. On Recount the awards attention was very, very good for that film, people discovered it later down the line.
AWARDSLINE: It seems like TV is virtually the only place to see films about political subjects. ROACH: There was a time in the ’70s when studios were making more movies that had more of a political point of view, The Candidate (1972), All the President’s Men (1976). It doesn’t seem very easy these days to set up these kinds of movies in the feature world. But I did talk about this story back during the campaign, even with a couple of studio people, before HBO bought the book. Even before I heard about the book, I was trying to convince people that being in the room where they made these decisions would be a really compelling film. Read More »
BREAKING: Director Jay Roach has moved from CAA to WME, joining his agent Dan Aloni. This comes at a time when the Roach-helmed Game Change clocked in as HBO’s highest-rated pic in eight years. Though not as high profile as Chris Nolan, Roach is a big get for WME and Aloni. He has been at the center of two huge franchises in Austin Powers and Meet The Parents. While known for comedy, he’s always had a yen for politics, and before the Sarah Palin-2008 presidential campaign drama Game Change he helmed HBO’s Recount, about the disputed presidential election results in Florida that decided the race between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Roach, who just helmed the political comedy The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis, has several irons in the fire, including a Peter Landesman-scripted adaptation of the memoir written by Deep Throat FBI man Mark Felt at Universal and Playtone. Mike Myers (who joined Aloni yesterday) is also working on another Austin Powers, and presumably Roach would be involved since he helmed the first three hits. Roach is still repped by Mosaic.
EXCLUSIVE: Australian actor Josh Lawson has been cast in Warner Bros’ Dog Fight, the Jay Roach-directed comedy that stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis and begins shooting this month. Dylan McDermott also recently joined up, as did reportedly Jason Sudeikis. The plot revolves around a political candidate (Galifianakis), and Lawson will play his brother; the script originally called for two brothers, but the roles were combined after Lawson’s table read. Lawson starred in the Aussie improv show Thank God You’re Here and is set to appear in the Don Cheadle-starring Showtime series House Of Lies that premieres in January. He’s repped by UTA, Management 360 and Lisa Mann Creative Management in Australia.
EXCLUSIVE: Chernin Entertainment has acquired Untitled Foreign Exchange, a comedy pitch that Shawn Harwell will write and Jeff Tomsic will direct. Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark and Jenno Topping will produce for Chernin Entertainment, which won the pitch with a preemptive offer made from the company’s discretionary fund. Tomsic gets the directing job after helming a number of shorts, including I’m Having A Difficult Time Killing My Parents, which debuted at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. He’s also directed shows for MTV and VH1 and campaigns for Dr. Pepper, Hasbro and other brands. Harwell cowrote Dog Fight, the Warner Bros comedy that Jay Roach is directing with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. He also scripted Hench with Danny McBride for Warner Bros and Neal Moritz, and was a staff writer in McBride’s HBO Series Eastbound & Down. Both are repped by CAA and Tomsic is managed by Generate.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC has bought a half-hour comedy from actress-comedian Andrea Savage and director-producer Jay Roach. Savage will write and star in the multi-camera project, which is being produced by Universal Television, with Roach and Jennifer Perini executive producing through their Everyman Pictures. The untitled comedy centers on a woman who prides herself on her humor and edge and refuses to become typical after becoming a parent for the first time. The project is semi-autobiographical as Savage too had her first child 2 years ago. Her first gig coming back was a co-starring role in Jay Roach’s 2010 feature comedy Dinner For Schmucks, where the two first worked together. Groundlings Theatre alumna Savage, repped by UTA and Mosaic, also co-starred in the movie Step Brothers. On TV, she starred and wrote for the Comedy Central series Dog Bites Man and HBO’s Funny Or Die Presents and was most recently seen guest starring in last week’s episode of ABC’s Modern Family. Roach, whose credits also include the Meet The Parents franchise and HBO’s Recount, is with CAA and Mosaic.
EXCLUSIVE: Dylan McDermott has carved out time from his starring role in the FX hit series American Horror Story to join the cast of Dog Fight, the Warner Bros comedy that Jay Roach will direct this fall. McDermott will play Tim Wattley, a political consultant who runs the campaign of a candidate from South Carolina. Zach Galifianakis plays the candidate, and Will Ferrell and Jason Sudeikis reportedly will also star. Chris Henchy wrote the script. The film starts in November, but they’ve worked it out so McDermott can begin filming in early December. McDermott, who’s repped by CAA and The Schiff Co., most recently wrapped The Perks of Being A Wallflower and Nobody Walks.
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 »
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: Warner Bros has won the auction for the untitled pitch package for Recount’s Jay Roach to direct Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as rival candidates in a comedy timed for release in the heat of the 2012 Presidential elections. The comedy, which Deadline revealed when it reached studios Friday, will be written by Chris Henchy, the co-writer of The Other Guys, and Shawn Harwell, best known for his work on HBO’s Eastbound & Down. The film will be produced by Ferrell and Adam McKay through their Gary Sanchez Productions banner, Roach through his Everyman Pictures banner, and Galifianakis.
The CAA-brokered sale closed on Saturday. Haven’t yet heard numbers, but in the last two pitches which the agency brokered for Gary Sanchez, Columbia Pictures essentially committed to make a movie with a full budget and fees for The Other Guys and Talladega Nights. Both were turned into hit movies. Ferrell is coming off The Other Guys and Megamind, while Galifianakis is reprising in The Hangover Part II after starring with Robert Downey Jr. for Warner Bros and Todd Phillips in Due Date and It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Galifianakis also played a scene-stealing supporting role for Roach in Dinner For Schmucks. Mosaic manages Roach, Ferrell and his Gary Sanchez cohorts while Brillstein Entertainment Partners manages Galifianakis.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that “everybody’s interested” in a new pitch that just went out to Hollywood studios for Jay Roach to direct Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell in a political comedy about 2 candidates timed to 2012′s U.S. presidential election. (To make it more realistic, one of those candidates should be a woman since Sarah Palin or Hillary Clinton could be running…) Remember that Roach has experience in this genre; he replaced Sydney Pollack as the director of HBO’s 2008 Emmy-winning dramedy Recount about the 2000 Bush vs Gore election.
I’ve confirmed that those pickup shots which I first reported that Universal has scheduled for September on Little Fockers are now more than half a dozen full-blown scenes, including 4 with Dustin Hoffman. The notoriously difficult actor was written out of the Meet The Parents threequel altogether when Universal couldn’t reach a deal with him. But John Hamburg and Jay Roach helped convince Dustin to reprise his role which is “not dissimilar to what we were pitching him in the beginning,” an insider tells me. Hoffman won’t come cheap. “It’s costing what we were going to pay him in the first place,” my insider explains. Fortunately for the studio, the film was under budget, but even so it’s at least a $100M film. Hoffman will star in some pivotal scenes opposite Barbra Streisand, and then in a big scene at the end of the movie involving all the major characters. Other pickup scenes focus on Ben Stiller and the kids. Universal continues to spin that Little Fockers could have gone out “as is” since it scored an “85″ for the top 2 boxes with test audiences. ”But we want to make it better. It’s an investment in the future of the franchise.” So we’ll see whether the threequel still set for release in December kills Universal’s … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Watching the sausage being made when it comes to major studio laughers isn’t pretty. So here’s a very typical example. Ever since shooting began on the threequel in the lucrative franchise, Universal has been trying to figure out how to improve its Little Fockers. At one point, replacing director Paul Weitz with producer-writer John Hamburg was contemplated early on and then rejected after Hamburg visited the set one weekend. That’s because everyone realized what a DGA mess this would result in. Plus, Adam Fogelson had just taken over as chairman and didn’t want to throw the already traumatized studio into a worse funk. So the decision was made to fix the movie in post. For about 4 to 5 weeks now, Weitz, Hamburg, Jay Roach, and Ben Stiller have been going through the footage. The good news is that they just decided that re-shoots aren’t needed. The not-so-good news is that they think a week of pickups with all the principal cast in September is required. Read More »