In December, MTV gave a script-to-series commitment to Shannara, a drama series based on Terry Brooks’ massive fantasy book series. Jon Favreau was set to direct and Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar to write, marking one of the most ambitious moves on the network’s scripted side since since Susanne Daniels became president. Now the fantasy is a reality, with a twist: MTV has greenlighted 10 episodes of the series, but scheduling conflicts have forced Favreau to exit the director’s chair, with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ director Jonathan Liebesman coming aboard to direct first two episodes. He also will have an executive producer credit.
Favreau will stay on as executive producer. Gough and Millar, who worked with Daniels at WB Network on Smallville, will write and executive produce along with Brooks and Dan Farah (The Crow remake), and Sonar Entertainment is producing with MTV and distributing worldwide. The greenlight is set to be announced today at MTV’s session at TCA.
Shannara features plenty of young-adult adventure and romance to suite MTV’s target demographic (it would be compatible with MTV’s only successful drama series so far, Teen Wolf, which also has supernatural elements). The books — originally set up as a feature film at Warner Bros — are set in our world, thousands of years after the destruction of our civilization. The story centers on the Shannara family, whose descendants are empowered with ancient magic and whose adventures continuously reshape the future of the world.
Producers plan to base the show’s first season on The Elfstones Of Shannara, the second title in the series and credited with setting the series’ place in the fantasy world. The first book in the series came out in 1977 and has spawned sequels, prequels and graphic novels, with the time-shifting and complexity of the series great enough that there’s even a page on Brooks’ website suggesting the best order in which to to read them. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: David Gardner has been promoted to partner at Principato-Young Entertainment, joining Peter Principato, Paul Young, Brian Dobbins and Allen Fischer in partner posts. Gardner has worked there since 2003 and has a client list that includes Jonathan Liebesman, Judy Greer, Ann Peacock, Neil Marshall, Brian Burns, Eriq La Salle, Ken Marino, David Ellis, Gonzalo Lopez Gallego and Nelson McCormick. Gardner is an executive producer on Caesar, the Roman epic in development at Warner Bros.
CAA has signed Toby Kebbell, the young British actor who played a memorable gunman in Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, followed by playing John Wilkes Booth in the Robert Redford-directed The Conspirator, and has leads in the upcoming Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse and the Jonathan Liebesman-directed Clash of the Titans 2. Kebbell had been at WME. He remains with UK’s Independent Talent.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is acquiring a pitch for an epic-sized telling of the story of general and Roman leader Gaius Julius Caesar that will be written by Chris Boal and directed by Jonathan Liebesman. The film will be produced by Basil Iwanyk and his Warner Bros-based Thunder Road banner. I’m told that it’s an original pitch that is not a biopic as much a Patton-like approach that covers the time in which Caesar was sent to Spain on a detail no one else wanted. There, he built the 10th Legion fighting force that would eventually march on Rome, overrun the forces of his close friend-turned-rival Pompey, and establish Caesar as the unrivaled ruler of the empire. The idea is to create a sweeping drama with a big movie star part, and the pitch came with some of the action scenes choreographed. The film would end with his coronation but leaves open the prospect of a second film that chronicled his trip to Egypt and eventual assassination. Iwanyk will produce with Liebesman, with David Gardner exec producing.
Liebesman, whose Battle: Los Angeles was just released on DVD, re-teams with Iwanyk just as they wrapped Clash of the Titans 2 for Warner Bros this week. The project comes from an idea that Liebesman and Iwanyk worked on with Boal while making the Clash sequel that stars Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson. Read More »
Sony Pictures Entertainment has released yet another trailer for Battle: Los Angeles, the Jonathan Liebesman-directed alien invasion film. The studio has been offering more and more in a series of momentum building trailers, and the film is getting more and more interesting. It opens March 11.
EXCLUSIVE: Edgar Ramirez has been offered the role of Ares, the God of War, in the sequel Wrath of the Titans, which Jonathan Liebesman will direct for Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. I’m told he’s on the verge of making a deal to star opposite Sam Worthington. Ramirez got Golden Globes and SAG Award nominations for his breakout performance as terrorist Carlos the Jackal in the five and one-half hour Olivier Assayas-directed biopic Carlos. Unfortunately, Ramirez won’t be in Oscar contention, the film deemed ineligible because it aired on the Sundance Channel before it was released in theaters by IFC. The Venezuelan actor also played a memorable assassin in The Bourne Ultimatum. He’s repped by WME and Impression Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE:Warner Brothers film execs are telling Deadline there will be major announcements involving DC characters coming in 4 weeks. But I can tell you now that Superman producers Chris Nolan and Emma Thomas are getting closer to resuscitating the Man of Steel. I’m told they have begun meeting with a short list of directors for the job of directing Superman, the picture which will be financed by Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. On the list: Unstoppable‘s Tony Scott, Let Me In director Matt Reeves, Battle: Los Angeles helmer Jonathan Liebesman (who just got the Warner Bros/Legendary job of directing Clash of the Titans 2), Duncan Jones, who just directed Source Code, and Sucker Punch helmer Zack Snyder. As Deadline first revealed back in February (Chris Nolan Will Mentor Superman 3.0), Nolan came up with an idea that put the Batman director in a godfather position on Superman, which besides from the Batfranchise is the linchpin of DC Comics franchise characters. David Goyer wrote a script. Several of these directors have movie commitments like Liebesman, which make then unlikely. Nolan has already started meeting with candidates and will submit his choice to the studio within the next few weeks. Warner Bros and Legendary have to get the picture made by 2012, because the studio … Read More »
2ND UPDATE: Warner Bros closed a deal late last night for Battle: Los Angeles director Jonathan Liebesman to direct Clash of the Titans 2. Production begins February 1 in the UK and possibly Iceland at a budget comparable to the $130 million spent on the original. I’d written yesterday about the ongoing talks that were stuck on money. Later in the day, they found a common ground–the studio came up with more dough. The sequel is a natural considering that the protagonists played by Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton survived, and the original grossed nearly $500 million worldwide. But Clash benefited by being one of the first major live action films to get a 3D retrofit. Read More »