Lifetime’s newest drama Witches Of East End will debut October 6, the network’s EVP Programming Rob Sharenow announced at the start of that show’s Q&A session at TCA this afternoon. TV critics with suspicious minds wanted to discuss the fact that the name of Lifetime’s witch show sounds suspiciously like that of the John Updike novel made into a hit flick made into an ABC drama series that came and went in the blink of an eye. Witches Of East End exec producer Maggie Freidman, whose patience we hope we inherit in our next life, explained sweetly that her show is based on Melissa de la Cruz’s very popular novel of same name, and the idea is to attract the many fans of the book to the TV series, making all suggestions of a name change, however well-intended, pure horseradish. Besides, Friedman noted, the tone of her show is very different from that of the Updike-inspired ABC one. This one’s about Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond), whose particular curse is that she keeps giving birth to the same two daughters, over and over again — a sort of OBGYN Groundhog Day. The daughters keep dying, which causes her to get preggers again, and so on. Friedman says it’s a metaphor for motherhood, making motherhood sound like a perfect hell.
EXCLUSIVE: In her first series regular role, Emmy winner Julia Ormond is set to star in the hourlong Lifetime pilot Witches Of East End. Based on Melissa de la Cruz’s best-selling novel, Witches Of East End centers on the adventures of Joanna Beauchamp (Ormond) and her two adult daughters. Joanna is a sexy, warm, artistic, tough, ethereal beauty who has been concealing a shocking secret from her daughters — namely, that they are witches born and bred. Having put her magical past and powers on hold, Joanna is now living a quiet life as a small town art teacher, but in the face of a grave and immediate danger, it seems the only way out is for the trio to rediscover their skills. Maggie Friedman, who shepherded ABC’s witch-themed Eastwick, wrote and will executive produce Witches Of East End with Erwin Stoff for Fox 21 and 3 Arts.
On TV, Ormond has done arcs on such series as Mad Men, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Nurse Jackie as well as TV movies, including HBO’s Temple Grandin, which earned her an Emmy Award. She is again nominated this year for her guest stint on AMC’s Mad Men. Witches Of East End reunites Ormond, repped by Gersh and Creative Partners, with Lifetime where she toplined the 2010 LMN original movie The Wronged Man, produced by Gale Anne Hurd.
EXCLUSIVE: Superman is getting a new mom. Ayelet Zurer, the Israeli actress who starred in Angels & Demons and who played the wife of Avner (Eric Bana) in Munich, has been set to play the role of Lara Lor-Van, Superman’s Kryptonian mother, in Man of Steel. Production is underway on the Warner Bros/Legendary film. That role was originally going to be played by Julia Ormond. I was unable to find out why director Zack Snyder made the last-minute change, but I’ve confirmed that Zurer will start filming this week. Henry Cavill plays Superman, Russell Crowe plays Superman’s Kryptonian father, Jor-El, and Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Michael Shannon also star. Zurer will next be seen starring in the Lawrence Kasdan-directed Darling Companion opposite Diane Keaton, Kevin Kline and Dianne Wiest for Sony Pictures Classics. She’s repped by IFA Talent Agency. Man of Steel is produced by Chris Nolan, Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder and Emma Thomas.
Myriad Pictures has picked up international sales rights for Jennifer Lynch’s psychological thriller Chained. Myriad will show buyers the first footage of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival next week. Chained, starring Vincent D’Onofrio, Julia Ormond and Eamon Farren, centers on a serial killer and an abducted child who begins to follow in the killer’s footsteps. Lynch’s most recent film, Surveillance, grabbed a midnight screening slot at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival and was named Best Film at the Sitges horror/fantasy festival. It went on to gain a cult following.
Warner Bros today released a first photo of British actor Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel, the franchise reboot that’s being directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan. Cavill stars with Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, Antje Traue, Julia Ormond, Russell Crowe, Chris Meloni, Harry Lennix and Laurence Fishburne. Currently in production, Man of Steel is slated for release on June 14, 2013:
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros and Zack Snyder are in talks with Julia Ormond to play Superman’s Kryptonian mother, Lara Lor-Van, in Man of Steel. I expect the deal to make shortly. Russell Crowe has been offered the role of Jor-El, the father of Superman (Henry Cavill). Kevin Costner and Diane Lane were previously set to play Clark Kent’s Earthbound parents. This comes after Ormond completed the role of Vivian Leigh in the Simon Curtis-directed My Week With Marilyn, which stars Michelle Williams, Emma Watson, Dominic Cooper and Kenneth Branagh. Ormond’s repped by Gersh and Artists Independent.
Julia Ormond has been tapped for a season-long arc on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. She will play the only major new character that will be introduced in the crime drama’s 10th and final season on USA Network. Appearing in all eight episodes of the season as a guest star, Ormond will play Dr. Paula Severin, a brilliant police psychologist who will be conducting mandatory sessions with Detective Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio), helping him unravel his tortured past.
Ormond’s casting comes just two weeks before the Season 10 premiere May 1, with production well under way. How will she appear in all episodes? She will start right away and, because her scenes are contained mainly within her office, the producers had planned to film them together, apart from the rest of the action. Shooting those scenes is expected to take a few days.