Fringe star Anna Torv and Jennifer Jason Leigh, coming off Revenge, have joined the cast of Open, HBO’s drama pilot from Ryan Murphy. The Fox 21 project, which Murphy co-wrote with Lauren Gussis, is described as a modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships. In her followup to Fringe, Torv will play one of the five central characters, Windsor, a yoga instructor in a longterm relationship with Holly (Leigh), an actress intensely committed to her career, who, upon meeting Grace, feels an instant connection. Aussie Torv, repped by WME and Australia’s United Management, and Leigh, repped by CAA and Untitled, join previously cast Scott Speedman and Wes Bentley.
EXCLUSIVE: CAA has signed Jennifer Jason Leigh. The award-winning actress appeared most recently on ABC’s Revenge in a recurring role as Kara Clarke-Murphy, Emily Thorne’s mother. In January she premiered two films at Sundance: The Beat poet pic Kill Your Darlings, acquired by Sony Pictures Classics, and James Ponsoldt’s The Spectacular Now, which was snapped up by A24. Leigh was previously repped at UTA. She is managed by Greg Clark at Untitled Entertainment and is also repped by David Weber and Harris Hartman of Sloane Offer Weber & Dern, LLP.
Benaroya Pictures has come on board to finance Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, it was announced today. Benaroya is putting the money for the indie drama together with Fork Films, Union Entertainment Group and Three Point Capital and Venture Forth. In addition, Jennifer Jason Leigh has joined Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld and Nick Nolte in the film’s cast. The Weinstein Company is handling all the international rights on the Liza Johnson-directed film, which is currently shooting in New Orleans. Based on the Alice Munro short story, the film tells the tale of a premature spinster, played by Wiig, who is set up romantically by the granddaughter of an old man she takes care of. Mark Jude Poirier wrote the screenplay. Steinfeld plays the granddaughter, Nolte plays the grandfather and Pearce plays Steinfeld’s drifter father and Wiig’s potential love interest. Dylan Sellers, Robert Ogden Barnum, Jamin O’Brien, Michael Benaroya and Cassian Elwes are producing. Abigail Disney, Buddy Patrick, Jacob Pechenik and Joe Jenckes are executive producing. Jennifer Jason Leigh is repped by UTA and Untitled Entertainment.
Following her arc on Showtime’s departing comedy series Weeds, Jennifer Jason Leigh is joining another series in a recurring role, ABC’s soap Revenge. Leigh will be part of a major story arc in Revenge‘s second season, playing the mother of the lead Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) who had been presumed dead until the very end of the series’ Season 1 finale. Leigh joins another actor recently booked to recur on Revenge next season, Brit Barry Sloane. Revenge has been assigned the high-profile Sunday 9 PM slot this fall where it will succeed Desperate Housewives.
EXCLUSIVE: Ben Stiller is in talks with 20th Century Fox to play the title role in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty after the previous script was finally dumped and a new approach and screenwriter was put on the project. That produced a reboot that Stiller wants to make his next film. Stiller sparked to the new take by Steve Conrad, writer of the Will Smith hit The Pursuit of Happyness. Now that Stiller is coming aboard, Fox will move quickly to lock in a cinematic director who can mix action with a PG rating, and get the picture ready for a late fall start. Stiller is repped by WME.
Mitty is still based on the 1947 Danny Kaye film from the James Thurber short story first published in The New Yorker in 1939. The story of a perpetual daydreamer had been in development so long that it seemed like it might never be more than a daydream. Everyone from Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen flirted with that previous script, and directors who have circled include Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard and Gore Verbinski. Mitty‘s problems stemmed from that script which was never quite right. But then Conrad started fresh and Stiller felt he knocked it out of the park. Stiller, who has starred in the lucrative Night at the Museum and Meet the Parents franchises, might have another big one on his hands. His Red Hour Films banner is based at Fox. Samuel Goldwyn Jr. and John Goldwyn have been shepherding the project as producers for years.
Jennifer Jason Leigh has been set to join Ben Stiller and Edie Falco in the Broadway revival of The House Of Blue Leaves, the John Guare play that will be directed by David Cromer. Scott Rudin is producing, with previews to begin April 4 and opening night is April 25 at the Walter Kerr Theatre on Broadway. Leigh, who made her Broadway debut in Cabaret and also starred in Proof, will play Bunny Flingus the mistress of Artie Shaughnessy (Stiller). Cromer is coming off Our Town…
While The Scottsboro Boys ends its Broadway run on December 12 at the Lyceum Theatre, there are flickers of hope that the last collaboration between songwriting legends John Kander and Fred Ebb will have a feature future. I’m told that Oscar-nominated Precious director Lee Daniels has seen the show several times and is in early conversations to develop it. Now, Daniels is in hot demand, and he has been focusing on The Butler for Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Laura Ziskin-produced drama about Eugene Allen, an African American servant in the White House over 34 years, who had a unique perspective on the civil rights struggle and was invited back after retirement to witness the inauguration of the first African American president, Barack Obama. Daniels has been rewriting a script by Recount‘s Danny Strong, and wants Denzel Washington to play the title role. Daniels has had …
Richard Dreyfuss has joined Showtime’s Weeds as a recurring. In at least 4 episodes of the dark comedy’s upcoming 6th season, he will play what the network describes as “an unexpected character from Nancy Botwin’s past.” Season 6 of Weeds, which premieres on August 16, features Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) and family on the lam after Shane (Alexander Gould) bopped Mexican VIP Pilar to death with a croquet mallet. Dreyfuss joins previously announced guest stars for next season Linda Hamilton, Peter Stormare, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, as well as returning guest stars Alanis Morissette and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Oscar winner Dreyfuss made his full-time series debut with CBS’ The Education of Max Bickford. On Showtime, he previously starred as Alexander Haig in the 2002 docudrama The Day Reagan Was Shot.