EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has found what the studio believes will be its next global franchise. The studio has closed a partnership with Mattel and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation on a live-action comedy built around Barbie, the top-selling fashion doll. This is no development deal, it’s all moving very quickly. Studio chief Amy Pascal oversaw this deal herself, along with production president Hannah Minghella, and this movie is getting made. Jenny Bicks is writing the script and the intention is to begin production before year’s end.
The film will be produced by Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who are also rebooting Men In Black for the studio. The exec producers are Parkes+MacDonald president Marc Resteghnini and Julia Pistor for Mattel’s Playground Productions.
Studios prize franchises more than ever, and it is particularly a priority at Sony. The key to turning these brands into successful films comes down to execution, as was particularly evident in the way that Warner Bros turned The Lego Movie into something with a high cool factor for kids. The plan for Barbie is also clever. Some of the doll’s appeal has been cool clothes and of course Ken, but beyond accessorizing, the toy has always been about female empowerment. Barbie has been part of merchandise packages that span over 150 careers, and Bicks and Parkes and MacDonald won the rights from Mattel when they plugged into that with their pitch for a contemporary tale. It allows the character Barbie to use her personal and professional skills to step into the lives of others and improve them, almost like a modern-day Mary Poppins. That storyline allows for the discovery of a young actress to play the title character, and young cast to play Ken and Barbie’s best friend, putting stars around them that can change in subsequent movies. Much the way that Marvel has managed its costs with deals that call for options on future films as they create stars with their superhero movies, this seems a way to keep costs manageable for another live-action series meant to span multiple films. Read More »
In a competitive situation, a single-camera comedy from Sex And The City alumna Jenny Bicks has landed at NBC with a put pilot commitment. The project, from 20th Century Fox TV, where Bicks is under an overall deal, is about a beached mermaid in search of adventure who winds up working in a bar/attraction in Miami with an eclectic group of people as lost as she is. Bicks is the writer-executive producer. She most recently served as executive producer/showrunner on the Showtime dark comedy The Big C. The mermaid project reunites Bicks with NBC topper Bob Greenblatt who, while at Showtime, developed and put the cancer comedy starring Laura Linney on the air. Bicks, repped by UTA and attorney Ken Richman, previously created and executive produced the ABC/Warner Bros TV one-hour dramedy Men In Trees and the NBC/NBC Studios comedy Leap Of Faith. Mermaids are in the pop culture zeitgeist at the moment following Animal Planet‘s highly rated and controversial “documentary” specials.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Showtime and the producers of The Big C end Cathy Jamison’s personal cancer saga in hospice care tonight with its fourth and Hereafter season finale. Executive producer and showrunner Jenny Bicks naturally declined to divulge whether Cathy (Laura Linney) dies tonight, though she and fellow exec producer Darlene Hunt co-wrote. The mini-series’ four last episodes span a year in the life of the lead character, each separated by roughly three months. The finale follows Angelina Jolie’s shocking May 14 announcement that she had undergone a preventive double mastectomy, which spurred a slew of press calls to Showtime and the Big C team. Bicks, herself an early-stage breast cancer survivor, told Deadline. “It has really drawn attention to us in a way we couldn’t have anticipated,” she said. “I hope we’ve done something to help more people recognize that cancer isn’t any longer this thing you whisper about behind a closed door. And it isn’t necessarily a disease you necessarily have to die from.” Read More »
With The Big C headed to its conclusion, the series’ showrunner Jenny Bicks is moving on with a two-year overall deal at 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for the former Sex And The City executive producer to develop comedy and drama series for the studio. Bicks was most recently under an overall deal at Sony TV, which produces Showtime’s The Big C, created by Darlene Hunt. Bicks previously created and executive produced the ABC/Warner Bros TV one-hour dramedy Men In Trees and the NBC/NBC Studios comedy Leap Of Faith. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Eric Stoltz has been tapped as the lead of Lifetime’s dramedy pilot Modern Love, from Sony Pictures TV. Created and executive produced by Sex and the City alumna Jenny Bicks, the project weaves actual stories from New York Times columns to explore the state of modern relationships. It follows newspaper science editor Simon McElvane (Stoltz) as he faces a deteriorating marriage, the ramifications of potentially starting over and balancing his relationship with his adopted 15-year-old daughter. Unexpectedly handed the job of editor of the newspaper’s Modern Love column, Simon discovers he has a lot to learn about life and love. The project, which was originally set up at HBO, is executive produced by Bicks, Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun, Gene Stein and Alan Poul. Poul is set to direct the pilot, which will begin filming shortly. Stoltz most recently starred on the Syfy series Caprica.
Michael Gracey has officially been tapped to direct Hugh Jackman in the 20th Century Fox musical The Greatest Showman On Earth, though producers told Deadline that the helmer has been attached for months. Regardless, it extends a hot streak for Gracey, who recently became attached to Disney’s Snow White pic after a career in VFX and commercials. Jenny Bicks wrote The Greatest Showman, which centers on the life of P.T. Barnum (Jackman). It’s unclear when production will start, as Jackman has to make Fox’s The Wolverine and also has an offer to star in Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables. …
Seth Green is set to star opposite Lou Taylor Pucci in The Story of Luke, a Fluid Film and DViant Film drama about a young autistic man (Pucci) looking for a job and a woman. Green will play his mentor, who coaches him in how to obtain both. Cary Elwes and Kristin Bauer also star. The film — directed by Alonso Mayo and produced by Nina Leidensdorff, Fred Roos and Julien Favre — begins shooting this month in Ontario. Green, up for three Emmys this year for his work on Adult Swim’s Robot Chicken, is repped by UTA and Koopman Management.
There’s a report that Team Downey’s Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey are producing the story of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis as told … Read More »
Here’s is the Deadline/TVline assessment of 2011 Emmy comedy races:
Deadline/TVline: 2011 Comedy Series Overview
Competition for Emmy nominations among this year’s Outstanding Comedy Series contestants is no laughing matter. The showdown between two 20th Century TV hits is more intense than ever, with Modern Family and Glee. That is, if a duo of up-and-comers — Community or Parks and Recreation — don’t act as spoilers. Past Emmy stalwarts 30 Rock or The Office could resurface. Or Showtime’s bold female-skewing dramedies Nurse Jackie or newbie The Big C might seize the spotlight. CBS’ The Big Bang Theory could finally score a nod or How I Met Your Mother in its sixth season. Underdogs include ABC’s The Middle and Fox’s Raising Hope.
Deadline: Do We Need A Dramedy Category?
Deadline: ‘Modern Family’s Chris Lloyd
Deadline: ‘The Big C’s Jenny Bicks
Deadline: ‘Parks & Recreation’s Michael Schur
Deadline: ‘Community’s Dan Harmon
Deadline: ‘Nurse Jackie’s Brixius & Wallem
Deadline: 10 Comedies Pick Best Episodes
While some comedy series producers are still finalizing their selection of episodes to submit for Emmy nomination consideration, most have already chosen their best. Each series may submit 6 episodes for the Outstanding Comedy Series, as … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Former Sex and the City executive producer Jenny Bicks has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. Under the pact, Bicks will continue as executive producer/showrunner on the studio’s Showtime series The Big C, now in production on its second season with Hugh Dancy and Parker Posey joining the cast led by Laura Linney for multi-episode arcs and Alan Alda for a guest shot. On the series, created by Darlene Hunt, Bicks focuses the production aspects, working closely with the cast in Connecticut where the dark comedy is being filmed. The series about Cathy (Linney), a high school teacher diagnosed with a cancer, has been a very personal one for Bicks, who is a cancer survivor herself. The Big C earned its first major awards recognition at the Golden Globes with a best comedy series nomination and an acting win for Linney.
In addition to The Big C, Bicks has Modern Love, a one-hour dramedy produced by Sony TV, in contention at Lifetime. The project, loosely based on the New York Times column by the same name, was originally developed at HBO two years ago. Bicks is also expected to help with other projects in development at Sony with other writers. This marks Bicks’ official return to the Sony fold, where she previously had an overall deal. In the past year, she has been working under a show deal for The Big C. Read More »
The Big C executive producer and cancer survivor Jenny Bicks bought a Porsche when she was diagnosed with cancer. “Don’t wait to get cancer to make yourself happy,” she said at the TCA panel for the upcoming Showtime dark comedy series starring Laura Linney as a woman diagnosed with cancer.
Creator/executive producer Darlene Hunt dismissed suggestions that terminal cancer would be an off-putting subject for TV. “My favorite series ever is MASH… And who likes a war? Not me. A lot of people watched that show.”
Co-star Oliver Platt was very poetic. “The show asks an incredibly beautiful question: Why do we start to live beautifully only when we get a death sentence,” he said before turning to executive producer Vivian Cannon: “It’s time for a cancer comedy?”
After the session, Deadline contributor Diane Haithman asked series regular Gabourey Sidibe to comment on Howard Stern’s tirade about her on his radio show. “Everyone makes rude comments, it’s not the first rude comment I’ve heard it my life,” she said. “People outside of my life, it doesn’t matter what they say because they have no idea what’s in my life.”
At the panel, The Precious star reflected on what she called “a strange year,” in which the showbiz novice landed an Oscar nomination for her film debut.
“Geez, I thought I’d be a receptionist. I’m always middle of the main, I’ve always led a very normal life…, I ride the subway, I ride the bus… It just shows that whatever plan you have for your life, … Read More »