Look’s like something’s really going to be cooking in Austin this spring and we don’t mean BBQ. The SXSW Film Conference and Festival said today that Jon Favreau’s Chef will open the confab this year on March 7. It …
EXCLUSIVE: Disney is in negotiations with Jon Favreau to helm The Jungle Book, a new adaptation of the 1894 Rudyard Kipling novel that is a priority project for the studio. Justin Marks, scripter of The Raven, will turn in a draft shortly, and the studio hopes to get into production next year. Favreau — who wrote, directed, produced and stars in the modestly budgeted indie Chef – has a strong history with Disney, and this will put him back into the event film game. He helmed the first two Iron Man films and had been attached to direct Magic Kingdom, the pic where the theme park comes to life. Disney previously turned The Jungle Book into the classic 1967 animated film and a 1994 live-action feature helmed by Stephen Sommers. The book is public domain, and Disney has not yet set producers. Bet a few of them on the lot are going to be picking up the phone momentarily.
Los Angeles, June 12, 2013 – Open Road Films has acquired the U.S. rights to Jon Favreau’s rich and vibrant comedy “Chef.” Financed by Aldamisa Entertainment, “Chef” is based on an original screenplay by Favreau, who will direct and star in the movie. “Chef” will also star Sofia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo and Robert Downey, Jr. Open Road Films will release the movie nationwide Mother’s Day Weekend – May 9, 2014. The deal was announced today by Tom Ortenberg, CEO of Open Road Films and Sergei Bespalov, Co-Chair and Co-CEO of Aldamisa Entertainment.
“Chef” is the story of Carl Casper (Favreau), who loses his chef job and cooks up a food truck business in hopes of reestablishing his artistic promise. At the same time, he tries to reconnect with his estranged family.
Producers are Karen Gilchrist and Aldamisa’s Sergei Bespalov. Production begins in July 2013 in Los Angeles.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s conference coverage.
The 5th Annual Produced By Conference, sponsored by the PGA, kicked off this morning on the 20th Century Fox lot with a panel discussion entitled “The Real Deal: Producers Who Direct? or Directors Who Produce?”. Producer Mark Gordon of Grey’s Anatomy fame moderated the discussion in the packed Zanuck Theater, peppering panelists Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1, 2 and 3) and Roland Emmerich (White House Down, Independence Day) with questions about how producers can effectively navigate the directorial waters and vice-versa. Of course, working with filmmakers at the level of Favreau and Emmerich who have abundant experience is rarely a problem, Gordon repeatedly acknowledged.
“There is a comfort level with directors who have a body of work,” said Gordon, who doesn’t direct. “It’s more difficult now because everybody specializes. In the old days of the Hollywood studio system, guys like John Ford and Billy Wilder did it all. They directed comedies. They directed dramas. They directed musicals. Today, you hear, ‘This guy is an action director, this guy directs comedy.’ I don’t believe in that. If you direct, you should be able to direct everything.” But Favreau pointed out that inexperienced directors are becoming less of a dice roll for producers and studios, what with the cost of admission to the club dropping to relative pennies. “There are tremendous filmmakers doing strong pieces of content online,” he said. “Those content walls are coming down. It’s becoming less and less of a guess. It isn’t like picking the new Dalai Lama. You can see what’s being done and say, ‘This kid’s got some vision’.”
EXCLUSIVE: Bradley Cooper has now formally confirmed to star in the John Wells-directed Chef, making this one of the early projects stirring action from foreign buyers who can now visualize the Silver Linings Playbook star back in meltdown mode in this Shampoo-like drama. He plays a Paris chef named Adam Jones, who destroys his wunderkind status in a blaze of decadence and out of control behavior. He cleans up and returns to Paris sober, determined to redeem himself by spearheading a top restaurant that can gain three Michelin stars. This has been in the works a bit, and recently Cooper saw Wells’ upcoming TWC Oscar-bait movie August: Osage County and then TWC set Wells to direct Chef. They are now looking to round out that cast, and I’m hearing Michelle Williams and Marion Cotillard as potential female leads, and Omar Sy for co-starring role. The film’s produced by Stacey Sher, Erwin Stoff and Michael Shamberg.
Ross Lincoln is a Deadline contributor.
With an average of 8.4 million viewers per episode, the apocalyptic sci-fi series Revolution has been a relative hit for NBC in a humiliating turn of events that recently saw the network finish fifth — behind Univision — for the first time in its history. Despite that success, Revolution was put on a 4-month hiatus after 10 episodes. In advance of the series’ March 25 return, Night 2 of PaleyFest 2013 featured a Revolution panel with series creator and executive producer Eric Kripke, co-creator and executive producer J.J. Abrams, and executive producer Jon Favreau. Also along for the ride were cast members Billy Burke (Miles Matheson), Tracy Spiridakos (Charlie Matheson), Giancarlo Esposito (Major Tom Neville), David Lyons (Sebastian Monroe), Daniella Alonso (Nora Clayton). and J.D. Pardo (Jason Neville). The discussion centered heavily on the show’s return and based on what the executive producers said, fans can expect a much more fast-paced experience.
Set 15 years after an unspecified event caused all electrical devices to stop working, Revolution hangs on a heavy myth arc, but as revealed during the panel the series is bucking the tradition of genre TV shows by refusing to draw things out.
Iron Man director Jon Favreau is set to executive produce a single-camera comedy written and executive produced by The Office co-executive producers Warren Lieberstein and Halsted Sullivan. The untitled project, produced by Universal TV, centers on a divorced father with shared custody of his 5-year-old daughter who moves into a building full of singles and must balance his re-entry into the dating world with being a solo parent. Favreau, repped by CAA, Shepard & Associates and Bob Getman, also has a relationship with NBC having directed the pilot for the network’s high-profile new drama Revolution. Lieberstein and Sullivan are with CAA and Jared Levine.
Sci-Fi White House Drama Written By Jon Favreau, Roberto Orci, Seth Green & Michael Dougherty Gets Put Pilot At ABC
EXCLUSIVE: This is a writing team configuration that is sure to get people’s attention: Jon Favreau, Roberto Orci, Seth Green and Michael Dougherty. It certainly got ABC’s — the network has handed out a put pilot commitment to Ex-Comm, a sci-fi drama with humor, which will be written by the quartet. Iron Man helmer Favreau is set to direct the potential pilot, with 20th Century Fox TV and Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s studio-based K/O Paper Products producing. Ex-Comm is described as a present-day “presidential procedural” and a cross between the paranormal suspense of The X-Files and the political intrigue of The West Wing. It follows a newly-elected President and his top secret “Executive Committee” (a.k.a. Ex-Comm), the government’s covert team of America’s most elite minds who investigate and protect our nation from the strangest occurrences and “conspiracy theory truths” out there. Tonally, the show aims to be fun but grounded, with everything in it operating within the realm of possibility. Favreau, Orci, Green and Dougherty are executive producing with Kurtzman, K/O’s Heather Kadin and Green’s producing partner at Stoopid Monkey Matthew Senreich.
How did the writing team on Ex-Comm get assembled? Robot Chicken co-creator Green and Superman Returns/X Men 2 co-writer Dougherty hatched the idea and took it to Kurtzman and Orci’s company. Meanwhile, Kurtzman and Orci co-wrote this past summer’s Cowboys & Aliens movie, which Favreau directed. While abroad doing press for the film with the rest of the cast and crew, Orci was working on the Ex-Comm pitch, and that’s how Favreau heard about it and came on board.
Cowboys & Aliens director Jon Favreau‘s promotional push for the sci-fi Western continues with a directing gig on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! Favreau, who spent the weekend at Comic-Con, will helm the Wednesday episode as part of a Cowboys & Aliens-themed week of JKL featuring interviews with stars Daniel Craig, …
UPDATE EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard have reached a milestone unusual in Hollywood: partners for 25 years. When they first got together, Grazer was a TV producer. Howard, after growing up on the small screen in The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, had only directed a couple of TV movies and the low budget Roger Corman-produced Grand Theft Auto. Grazer and Howard have been at it together ever since, building a company that over 25 years has been one of the most consistent generators of content. Their TV series output includes 24, Parenthood, Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights; their movies have grossed $13.5 billion worldwide. That includes A Beautiful Mind, which won Howard the Academy Award for Best Director. Grazer and Howard shared Best Picture Oscars that night as well. Not everything they’ve done has succeeded, of course. They they took their company public and repurchased the shares; they helped launched and fold the online venture Pop.com; their most recent film together, the adult comedy The Dilemma, was a misfire that created controversy over the inclusion of the word “gay” in a trailer. They’ve had way more hits than misses.
In honor of Imagine’s Silver Anniversary, Deadline invited Howard and Grazer to look back over their quarter century together, and into a future that includes something never tried before by anyone in Hollywood. They’re adapting Stephen King’s 7-novel series The Dark Tower into a film trilogy, and a limited run TV series in between. It has pushed the envelope enough that their longtime home studio, Universal Pictures, postponed a planned late summer start until next year and asked the filmmakers to cut the budget. Some question the studio’s resolve on such a massive undertaking. The studio has to green light the film by next month or the rights revert to Imagine, Akiva Goldsman and King, who are determined to make it regardless.
DEADLINE: Not many marriages of any kind last 25 years in Hollywood. What is most important about the anniversary?
HOWARD: It’s such a challenging time to get movies made. And yet, look at all we have coming out. Tower Heist, the Gus Van Sant movie Restless, J Edgar with Clint Eastwood and Leo DiCaprio, Cowboys & Aliens, this big broad appeal four quadrant fantasy adventure story with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. With The Playboy Club getting on the air, and Parenthood getting picked up, I’m proud we’re doing what we’ve always done. A wide variety of projects that got made because we care and put in the energy to get them done in light of how difficult it is these days.
DEADLINE: Simple as that?
HOWARD: Because I’m in New York, we’re not forced to stare at each other’s faces 24/7. But I think that’s not really it. We love what we’re doing, we have fun doing it and our sensibilities are in sync. In a business that can create so many feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, I learned to trust in that. Brian is smart and cares about me doing well and feeling good about what I’m doing. It’s a partnership built on support. It has been that way since the beginning.
GRAZER: It works because we have similar tastes and not only gravitate toward the same material but also what lives inside the core of the movie it becomes. We’ve done, and Ron has directed, all kinds of genres. We have a common interest in the humanity aspect of a movie, regardless if it’s a comedy or a drama. We also share a similar work ethic.
DEADLINE: When you cover all genres, does Imagine have a wheelhouse? For a company looking to last, is it advisable to have one?
HOWARD: The process is what gets Brian and me excited, whatever the genre. Not specializing has given our company a sense of flexibility and adaptability to whatever the market or the zeitgeist is suggesting. We’ve always respected each other as creative people. If Brian loves something and I don’t quite get it, I’ll tell him that but I’ll never try to impede the progress. He’s the same with me. With Apollo 13, I wasn’t sure the genre would work, because space films hadn’t done that well. Brian was instantly so excited about it, and made me realize we were onto something. 8 Mile, I don’t know anything about rap. This was something he understood. I didn’t know how to make that movie, but I recognized a great idea. Whenever the two of us get excited, on films like Splash, Night Shift and Parenthood, those have resulted in the building blocks of the company. I’ve always liked TV but I phased it out for awhile and it was Brian’s perseverance that has made us strong in both TV and films. Independent companies are rarely strong in both.
GRAZER: What we’ve do is agree on the moral center of a project, but nobody’s better at finding the language of a particular movie than Ron. He’s got a grasp of understanding new vocabularies, whether it’s the The Da Vinci Code, fantasy like Cocoon or Splash, or Backdraft and The Grinch. He is great at inhabiting a world and completely understanding and expressing its language. In A Beautiful Mind, he entered that world and understood the medical science of mental illness. So there have been times where he led the charge, and I was drawn in by his excitement.
DEADLINE: What was the last hard conversation or professional disagreement you can remember?
HOWARD: I can’t think of one offhand, but even when we have disagreements, I can’t think of a case where one of us ever said, ‘Oh, please don’t do this.’ If there’s a lot of passion from one or the other, then the support of the company is going to be there.
EXCLUSIVE: In its latest attempt to hatch a large-scale film that can play to a family audience, Disney has made a seven-figure deal with screenwriter and Lost exec producer Damon Lindelof to write and produce an original large-scale science fiction feature film. Other than the fact that the project has a working title of 1952, I couldn’t pry plot details out of anybody. I’m not sure if the title connotes a period the film is set in, or if it is a Lost reference. I’ve also heard that this project isn’t just being conceived for movies only, but that it has multiple platform aspirations.
The project came out of a series of meetings that Lindelof had with Disney’s production president Sean Bailey and senior exec Brigham Taylor, and it’s the first film that Lindelof is producing from the ground up. Since ending the run of Lost and serving as one of the show’s architects all the way through, Lindelof has been on fire as a screenwriter. He teamed with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to script the Jon Favreau-directed Cowboys & Aliens. Lindelof came aboard to rewrite Ridley Scott’s 3D Alien prequel and injected enough new ideas into the Prometheus script for Fox and Scott to deem the film an original. Lindelof is right now working with Kurtzman and Orci to pull together a Star Trek sequel that can be ready to begin production later this year or early next. I’ve reported my skepticism that Abrams would ever be able to move from launching Super 8 and jump into a Star Trek sequel that will make its summer 2012 release date, because the scribes need Abrams to give a thumbs up to the 70-page story outline they’ve written, and turn that into a script.