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Meryl Streep To Play Chief Elder In ‘The Giver’

By | Tuesday August 6, 2013 @ 3:58pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Meryl Streep is poised to join Jeff Bridges and a fast growing cast in The Giver, an adaptation of the Lois Lowry novel that Phil Noyce will direct. Streep is in talks to join a shoot that starts in eight weeks in South Africa, in a co-production between The Weinstein Company and Walden Media. While there has been a plethora of movies involving dystopian young adult novel storylines, The Giver was ahead of its time, winning the Newbery medal in 1994. It was also a book widely read in Harvey Weinstein’s household by his daughters.

Streep will play the chief elder, the authoritarian charged with keeping order in a society that seems utopian. That control is endangered when a young man (Brenton Thwaites) is chosen to be the receiver of memories of life before the “sameness” movement which numbed the population and created conformism. Bridges plays the title character who delivers those memories that unlock a rebellion in the young man. The film is casting quickly, but landing Streep is certainly a coup. Bridges and Nikki Silver are producing and Dylan Sellers and Julie Rapaport are running point on the picture for The Weinstein Company. CAA reps Streep.

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Hot Trailer: ‘Seventh Son’

By | Wednesday July 10, 2013 @ 11:20am PDT

Jeff Bridges battles his old Lebowski lady friend Julianne Moore in the fantasy actioner Seventh Son, from Legendary Pictures and WB. Ben Barnes stars as the newbie apprentice getting a crash course in fighting evil in the CG-filled adaptation of Joseph Delaney’s The Wardstone Chronicle books. Alicia Vikander also stars. Oscar nominee Sergei Bodrov (Mongol) directs the pic which hits 2D and 3D screens now on January 17, 2014. Check out the first trailer:

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Weinstein Company’s ‘The Giver’ Adds ‘Maleficent’s’ Brenton Thwaites

EXCLUSIVE: Brenton Thwaites has been cast opposite Jeff Bridges in The Weinstein Company‘s The Giver. Thwaites will play Jonas in the Philip Noyce-directed adaptation of Lois Lowry’s 1993 dystopian children’s novel. Aged up from the book, the Jonas character is selected to become the next Receiver of Memory in the heavily ordered and seemingly perfect society. He bonds with the previous Receiver (Bridges) and discovers the lies that dominate their society and a more independent way of living. Scheduled to start filming in South Africa in the fall, The Giver is produced by Bridges and Nicky Silver with TWC’s Harvey Weinstein, Dylan Sellers and Julie Rapaport. The pic was adapted by Vadim Perelman with a rewrite by Michael Mitnick. Along with Liam Hemsworth, Noyce and Thwaites were both attached to Relativity Media’s Timeless project a couple of years ago. That film never went into production, but the Australian actor starred in the TV series Home And Away back home and then the Lifetime Channel film Blue Lagoon: The Awakening last June. Thwaites also landed the role of the Prince in Disney’s Maleficent with Angelina Jolie and Elle Fanning last May. Additionally was in the Film District distributed Oculus plus the upcoming indie Son of a Gun directed by Julius Avery and co-starring Ewan McGregor. He also just finished Read More »

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Aaron Stockard To Script Thomas Perry Crime Novel ‘Strip’ For Feature Film

By | Thursday October 27, 2011 @ 10:56am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: The Town scribe Aaron Stockard will adapt the Thomas Perry crime novel Strip for RT Features and Thunder Road Pictures. RT’s Rodrigo Teixeira and Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk will produce while RT’s Fernando Loureiro will be executive producer. A strip club owner is robbed by a masked gunman just as he’s about to place his cash receipts in a bank’s night deposit box. The enraged and mobbed up club owner sends half a dozen thugs out to find anyone who’s spending large and probably doesn’t know they robbed a gangster. The security men come up with Joe Carver, who not only evades capture but becomes determined to make the gangster sorry he ever sought revenge. Aside from co-writing The Town (which Iwanyk produced), Stockard also teamed with Ben Affleck on the script Gone Baby Gone and recently sold the drama pitch Thick As Thieves to FBC with Peter Chernin producing. RT Features is new in Hollywood, but well established in Brazil, producing such Portuguese language films as Romeo & Juliet Get Married and Drained. RT is looking to develop English language films, linking up with State-side producing partners. Iwanyk is in post production on Clash of the Titans 2 and will next shoot the Jeff Bridges-starrer Seventh Son and the Clint Eastwood-directed A Star Is Born with Beyonce Knowles. Stockard is repped by WME.

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‘Crazy Heart’ Helmer Scott Cooper To CAA

By | Tuesday September 20, 2011 @ 6:06pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CAA just signed Scott Cooper, who made his directorial debut with Crazy Heart, the film that won Jeff Bridges the Oscar for Best Actor. Cooper, who started an an actor before making the transition to filmmaker with his scripted adaptation of the Thomas Cobb novel, has several projects percolating. He’s attached to direct Out of the Furnace, his rewrite of the Brad Ingelsby revenge thriller spec script Low Dweller, which Leonardo DiCaprio and Ridley Scott will produce. Cooper is also attached to direct a Warner Bros adaptation of the S.C. Gwynne book Empire of the Summer Moon, about the rise and fall of the Commanche tribe. Cooper had been repped by ICM.

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Legendary Ups Jon Jashni To President

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Legendary Entertainment chairman and CEO Thomas Tull has promoted Jon Jashni to president, a new post. Jashni, a veteran executive and producer who joined Tull six years ago, will continue to function as chief creative officer and has been a big part of Legendary’s evolution from a co-financier of Warner Bros films to an enterprise that is generating its own films that are released by Warner Bros. Legendary’s rise has been fueled by being partner in such films as The Hangover, Clash of the Titans, the Chris Nolan Batman trilogy and Inception, as well as the upcoming Superman reboot Man of Steel. Tull’s company is generating its own tent pole films, including the Guillermo del Toro-directed alien-invasion film Pacific Rim that stars Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba, and a reboot of Godzilla. Jashni is a producer on those films as well as the Alex Proyas-directed Paradise Lost that will star Bradley Cooper and Benjamin Walker, and the Sergey Bodrov-directed The Seventh Son, which stars Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes. Read More »

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Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson Re-Upped Through 2014

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.

While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced  stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land. Read More »

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Tony Scott Boarding ‘The Wild Bunch’ While Revving ‘Hell’s Angels’ As Next Pic

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Deadline revealed this morning that Ridley Scott was returning to his sci-fi classic Blade Runner. His Scott Free partner and brother Tony Scott is also getting serious about a new version of a movie classic. Scott is in talks with Warner Bros to direct a reboot of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah-directed The Wild Bunch. This film becomes one of three or so that Scott is most eager to direct as his follow-up to the Denzel Washington-Chris Pine action film Unstoppable.

Scott’s next assignment will be Hell’s Angels, though its timing will depend on whether he gets the actor he wants to play gang leader Sonny Barger. I’m told that he wants Jeff Bridges. They’ve not met face to face yet, because Bridges is right now touring his self-titled musical album that he recorded after he won the Oscar playing Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. Once Bridges gets back to film work, he’s booked to star with Ryan Reynolds in Universal’s R.I.P.D. and Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ The Seventh Son. If Scott has his heart set on Bridges and the actor says yes, Hell’s Angels won’t get underway until next spring or later. Fox 2000′s Hell’s Angels is set around the Laughlin riots of 2001 when the Angels were caught up in a war with rival gang The Mongols. The drama revolves around a friendship that develops between … Read More »

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TOLDJA! Universal Schedules Jeff Bridges & Ryan Reynolds Corpse Comedy R.I.P.D.

By | Friday June 24, 2011 @ 4:22pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal Pictures has just scheduled its laffer R.I.P.D. for June 28, 2013. The Robert Schwentke-directed supernatural comedy is based on a Matt Manfredi & Phil Hay-scripted film centering on a police force comprised of undead officers, based on the Peter Lenkov comic. (R.I.P.D. stands for the otherworldly Rest In Peace Department). Zach Galifianakis was going to star but exited over timing issues since Ryan Reynolds was on the hook for a Warner Bros sequel to Green Lantern. So Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges teamed up instead. R.I.P.D. is produced by Neal H. Moritz, Michael Fottrell, and Mike Richardson.

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Ben Barnes Lands Lead Opposite Jeff Bridges In Warner Bros’ ‘Seventh Son’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ben Barnes, who played Prince Caspian in Fox’s fantasy franchise The Chronicles Of Narnia, is in negotiations for the starring role opposite Oscar winner Jeff Bridges in Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ Seventh Son, an adaptation of Joseph Delaney’s young-adult series. He replaces Sam Claflin, who was previous tipped for the role. Barnes will play Tom, the young apprentice to an exorcist (Bridges) who combats ghosts and witches in the 1700s. The pair must battle the queen of evil (Julianne Moore) as Tom falls for a young witch (Alicia Vikander). Sergei Bodrov is directing; Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk, Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Lionel Wigram are producing, and Jon Jashni and Alysia Cotter are exec producing. Barnes, repped by WME and Luber Roklin and CAM in the UK, also has booked Millennium’s Gently Down the Stream opposite Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Amanda Seyfried, and has a role in the indie film The Words with Bradley Cooper.

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Warner Bros Closes Space War Pitch That Has Sam Worthington Attached

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has made a preemptive pitch deal for a science fiction action project to be written by Aaron Guzikowski that will reunite Sam Worthington with his Clash of the Titans producer Basil Iwanyk. The logline is being kept under wraps but I’m told it’s a grounded space war film. Through his Thunder Road banner, Iwanyk is in production on the Clash of the Titans sequel. He also produced The Town and is prepping the Jeff Bridges-starrer Seventh Son and the Clint Eastwood-directed A Star is Born with Beyonce, all for Warner Bros. Guzikowski wrote Prisoners, the Black List script that sold to Alcon Entertainment and just got Incendies helmer Denis Villeneuve aboard to direct. He also scripted the Contraband remake that just wrapped with Mark Wahlberg, Kate Beckinsale and Ben Foster starring for Universal and Working Title, and he’s writing Awake for USA Network and The Descendants for HBO. He’s repped by Verve and Madhouse Entertainment. Worthington is repped by CAA and Anonymous Content.

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Jeff Bridges To ‘R.I.P.D’ [TOLDJA Needed?]

By | Wednesday May 25, 2011 @ 7:01pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Let’s see, back on April 28, The Wrap ripped off Deadline’s revelation that Jeff Bridges was negotiating to star with Ryan Reynolds in the Robert Schwentke-directed R.I.P.D. at Universal, after Deadline revealed that Zach Galifianakis wouldn’t be doing the movie. Now, The Wrap is  claiming an “exclusive” that it’s actually happening. Lame.

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Fox Searchlight Brings Back ‘Sunshine’ Gang

By | Wednesday May 25, 2011 @ 6:44am PDT
Mike Fleming

When I met with Fox Searchlight presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley at the Cannes Film Festival, it seemed clear that they were not going to take part in one of the most aggressive acquisitions market that Cannes has seen in years. But not only did they walk away with the Palme d’Or prestige badge that will help Terrence Malick’s visionary The Tree of Life find its way when Searchlight releases it in theaters beginning Friday, they also greenlit the first film by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since Little Miss Sunshine. The new film, He Loves Me, is a reunion. Besides being back in the Searchlight fold, they’ve set as star Paul Dano, whose career was launched by Sunshine. Dano will be paired alongside his girlfriend, Zoe Kazan, who wrote the script. The film also reunites Dayton and Faris with Sunshine producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa. Jeff Bridges is being courted to play another role. After Little Miss Sunshine won two Oscars and was a Best Picture nominee, Dayton and Faris were courted like crazy by studios and became attached to a number of projects that didn’t pan. It has been five years since the release of that film, but they start production in July. Read More »

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Sam Claflin Crowned Prince For ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is setting Sam Claflin to play the role of the prince in Snow White and the Huntsman, the Rupert Sanders-directed re-imagining of the fairy tale that stars Kristen Stewart as Snow White and Charlize Theron as the evil queen. The studio is still working on its huntsman, and as Deadline was the first to tell you, the offer is with Thor star Chris Hemsworth. Claflin just starred in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and he has just been offered the title role opposite Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore in the Warner Bros/Legendary supernatural thriller The Seventh Son. Claflin could make that film, which starts in March, and then follow with Snow White and the Huntsman. CAA and Independent Talent rep him.

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Jeff Bridges In Talks To Team With Ryan Reynolds In Corpse Comedy ‘R.I.P.D’

By | Thursday April 28, 2011 @ 3:33pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating with Jeff Bridges to star with Ryan Reynolds in the Robert Schwentke-directed supernatural comedy R.I.P.D. The Matt Manfredi & Phil Hay-scripted film centers on a police force comprised of undead officers, based on the Peter Lenkov comic. Zach Galifianakis was going to star but exited over uncertainty of when Reynolds would be able to make the film because of the option Warner Bros holds for a sequel to Green Lantern. Bridges, who won the Oscar for Crazy Heart, is booked to star in The Seventh Son for Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. He’s repped by CAA and Schiff Co.

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OSCAR: Joel And Ethan Coen Q&A On ‘True Grit’

Mike Fleming

Considering they’ve rubbed out characters memorably by feeding them through a wood chipper (Fargo) or with a pneumatic cattle slaughtering gun (No Country For Old Men), setting Joel and Ethan Coen loose with a revenge story in the Old West seems a recipe for mayhem. In fact, True Grit turns out to be the most mainstream audience-friendly film they have made in years. Sticking close to the 42-year Charles Portis novel and not even watching the first movie that won John Wayne his Oscar in 1969, the Coens have made a PG-13 adventure film that gives the starring role to teenager Hailee Steinfeld, and surrounds her with such seasoned actors as Jeff Bridges as salty U.S. Marshall Rooster Cogburn, Matt Damon as the blowhard Texas Ranger LaBeouf, and Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper as the ornery outlaws they are chasing. The film opens today, and could add intrigue to the Oscar race.

DEADLINE: How did you find your way to a 40 year old book you’d have been hard pressed to find in a bookstore?
ETHAN COEN: We both knew the book, and we’d both read it, amongst other Charles Portis novels. A few years ago I read it out loud to my son and that was the point we began talking about it, thinking this might be interesting to do.
JOEL COEN: Fully aware there of course there had been this previous movie. But we hadn’t seen that since it came out, and didn’t really remember it very well.

DEADLINE: The book focuses more squarely than the film did on young Mattie, the bright, headstrong teenager determined to see the man who shot her father swing from a rope. What potential did you see in that that overcame the inevitable comparison to a film considered somewhat iconic?
ETHAN COEN: That is what we liked about the book, that it was told in the first person narrative told by the 14-year old character, Mattie Ross. It’s just a very funny book. It has three really great, really vivid characters. Her, Rooster Cogburn and LaBeouf, the Texas Ranger. And it’s a simple pursuit revenge story. It all just seemed promising material for a movie. Which might sound funny because, as you say, there was this iconic movie. Which we were aware of but which we didn’t remember very well.
JOEL COEN: We didn’t revisit it, either.
ETHAN COEN: And in the course of remaking the movie, we didn’t watch the first one. We weren’t much worried about it, though. You say it’s iconic, and that’s very true. But on the other hand, I must say it’s probably iconic for people our age and older. And we’re not the moviegoing demographic anymore. I don’t think younger people have much of a connection to John Wayne, at all. So it didn’t feel like we were trespassing and we didn’t worry about it. We just had this enthusiasm for the novel.

DEADLINE: I should qualify iconic. It’s called that because John Wayne won an Oscar, but many feel that statue was a reward for a career and not that role.
JOEL COEN: That’s what I’ve read about it too, that it was a kind of valedictory thing.
ETHAN COEN: You’ve been around a long time, we love you, here’s an award.

DEADLINE: How did adapting a book like True Grit compare with adapting Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men?
ETHAN COEN: Not dissimilar, actually. In the Cormac book that we did, we had this similar issue. Read More »

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OSCAR: First Award Presenters Announced

Beverly Hills, CA — Past winners and/or nominees Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Marisa Tomei and Oprah Winfrey will present on the 83rd Academy Awards, telecast producers Bruce Cohen and Don Mischer announced today. Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2010 will be presented on February 27.

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‘True Grit’ To Open Berlin Fest

Mike Fleming

Joel and Ethan Coen’s True Grit, the most prominent Oscar contender that didn’t get a festival launch, has  one now. The film is scheduled for an international premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival on February 10. The picture, which stars Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, was completed too late for Telluride or the Toronto International Film Festival, where several of the front runner films for Best Picture were unveiled.

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OSCAR: Coen Bros ‘True Grit’ Enters Race

Pete Hammond

UPDATE: True Grit doesn’t open until December 22nd but started screenings this week just under the wire of critics groups and SAG nominating committee deadlines. It’s the last unseen film of this awards season thought to have a serious chance of cracking the Best Picture Oscar list, especially now that there are 10 nominees. Can Joel and Ethan Coen’s much anticipated new take on the John Wayne classic do what that 1969 Paramount film couldn’t? First, a little history. The first version of the Charles Portis novel landed just two Oscar nominations, for Best Song and Best Actor, winning the latter as a heartfelt career swan song for star John Wayne. But the fairly standard western was shut out of Best Picture, never a friendly territory for oaters. After all, other classics of the genre, like 1956’s The Searchers and 1959’s Rio Bravo (both also starring Wayne), couldn’t even manage a single nomination between them even though both are now included on lists of the greatest films of all time. Only Kevin Costner’s 1990 Dances With Wolves and Clint Eastwood’s 1992 Unforgiven changed the Oscar outlook because they were untraditional westerns and that won them Academy Awards for both Best Picture and Best Director. Since 1992, no western has  been nominated unless you count Brokeback Mountain — and I don’t. On the other hand, very few have even been made.

But a western coming from the Coens would seem to have a reasonable chance. They each won three Oscars for Best Pic winner No Country For Old Read More »

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