After picking up 3 comedy pilots this afternoon, ABC just gave the green light to 2 drama pilots, Americana and Nashville, both primetime soaps. The latter pickup is contingent on the project becoming a co-production between Lionsgate TV, which developed it, and ABC Studios.
Americana, from ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co., is a soap set around a legendary fashion designer and his family and business. It was written by Michael Seitzman (North Country) who will executive produce with Mark Gordon and Mark Gordon Co.’s Nicholas Pepper. This is the third pilot order so far this season for Gordon’s company, along with the untitled Roland Emmerich drama and comedy White Van Man, both at ABC.
Nashville hails from Oscar-winning writer Callie Khouri and TV producer/documentary filmmaker RJ Cutler. Thelma & Louise scribe Khouri wrote the project, a family soap set against the backdrop of the Nashville music scene that follows one star at her peak and one on the rise. Cutler (The September Issue) is set to direct. The two will executive produce with Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment, which is being represented by SVP of Media and Entertainment Steve Buchanan. This marks Khouri’s return to ABC where she wrote, directed and executive produced the 2006 pilot Hollis & Rae. It is the second broadcast pilot order this season for leading cable producer … Read More »
ABC has given a cast-contingent pilot order to White Van Man, a blue collar ensemble comedy based on the British series of the same name. Former My Name Is Earl executive producer Bobby Bowman wrote the adaptation for ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co. The single-camera show centers on a man who is forced to put his dreams on hold in order to take over the family handyman business from his father. The ITV Studios-produced original, which premiered on BBC Three last year, was created by Adrian Poynton. The series takes its name from the UK phrase that describes the stereotype for drivers of light commercial vehicles, often self-employed or owning small businesses such as handyman services. After working with Greg Garcia on his previous 2 series, CBS’ Yes, Dear and NBC’s My Name Is Earl, ICM-repped Bowman serves as a co-executive producer on Garcia’s newest series, Fox’s Raising Hope.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Sony Pictures is making a hefty deal to acquire feature rights to Steve Jobs, the upcoming authorized biography by former CNN chairman and Time Magazine managing editor Walter Isaacson. I’m hearing the deal is $1 million against $3 million and that Mark Gordon will be the biopic’s producer. But this will be an MG360 project, which is the movie production partnership between Gordon and Management 360. ICM reps both Isaacson and Gordon. Sony Pictures would not comment. The studio seems a good fit for the book, having boiled business books into compelling dramas with both the Oscar-nominated The Social Network and Moneyball. The Isaacson book was supposed to be published on November 21st by Simon & Schuster, but now the release date has moved up to October 24th, according to a spokeswoman for the publisher. This was the hottest about-to-be biopic in Hollywood. [Will Hollywood Book Biopic Of Steve Jobs?] The 448-page profile is based on over 40 interviews with the Apple co-founder and over 100 conversations with friends, family members, colleagues and competitors. And it’s a compelling story: the building of the world’s most valuable technology company by creating the devices that changed how people use electronics and revolutionized the computer, music, and mobile phone industries. Jobs gave his full cooperation but had not read it as of mid-August. At first titled iSteve: the Book Of Jobs, Isaacson had second thoughts about what was appropriate for the first biography to get Jobs’ blessing and cooperation. Even when it wasn’t even finished, it made it (briefly) into the top 50 on Amazon’s bestseller list. Isaacson eventually persuaded his publisher Simon & Schuster to go with the simple title of Steve Jobs. First planned for 2012, the book’s release date was moved up. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: ABC has put in development a blue collar ensemble comedy based on the British format White Van Man. Former My Name Is Earl executive producer Bobby Bowman will write the adaptation for ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co. The ITV Studios-produced White Van Man, which premiered on BBC Three in the spring, was created by Adrian Poynton. It centers on a man who is forced to put his business dreams on hold in order to take over the family handyman business from his father. The series takes its name from the UK phrase that describes the stereotype for drivers of light commercial vehicles, often self-employed or owning small businesses such as handyman services. After working with Greg Garcia on his previous 2 series, CBS’ Yes, Dear and NBC’s My Name Is Earl, ICM-repped Bowman has most recently been serving as a consulting producer on Garcia’s newest series, Fox’s Raising Hope. Here is a scene from the original series:
EXCLUSIVE: ABC has bought a second high-profile drama project that takes on Robert Louis Stevenson’s split-personality tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Jekyll & Hyde, from ABC Studios, studio-based Mark Gordon Co and feature writer Matt Lopez (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), is described as a suspenseful, darkly romantic retelling of the classic tale with a unique sci-fi twist that I hear may be cloning-related. Set in modern San Francisco, it centers on a female criminal psychologist who is drawn into the mysterious world of a brilliant but inhibited scientist and his volatile alter ego. Going into this development season, ABC brass identified the Jekyll & Hyde lore as one of the areas they wanted to mine. Now the network has two high-profile projects to choose from: the Lopez/Gordon Jekyll & Hyde and the recently soldHyde, from writer Sheldon Turner. It’s about an ER doctor whose id manifests itself as a different person when he goes to sleep as a result of an experiential medical treatment.
Under new head of drama Nicholas Pepper, the Mark Gordon Co is having one of the busiest development seasons with seven hourlong projects sold so far, six of them to ABC and one, an adaptation of the Gordon-produced feature thriller Source Code, to CBS, where the company has veteran procedural Criminal Minds.
The Mark Gordon Co. has set up two more projects at ABC: Chap Taylor’s drama Untouchable and an hourlong project based on Candace Bushnell’s book One Fifth Avenue. Both hail from ABC Studios.
Described as a stylish, sexy modernization of Miami Vice for the 21st century, Untouchable centers on a hard-charging female FBI agent with a blue-collar background who is teamed with a reckless, independently wealthy LAPD detective to take on organized crime. Changing Lanes writer Taylor is set to pen the script and executive produce with Gordon and The X Files and Castle helmer Rob Bowman, who is attached to direct. Taylor, repped by WME and Management 360, just delivered the pilot script for his FX drama project about an illegal immigrant-turned-private eye, which drew a lot of attention when first unveiled by Deadline last year; Rodrigo Garcia is attached to direct the potential pilot. Taylor also is in active development on the bestseller Gideon’s Sword for Michael Bay at Paramount. And he is developing a feature adaptation of his comic book series Haunted City with McG and his producing partner Peter Johnson. McG is attached to direct the project, which is expected to be taken out at the beginning of next year.
Bushnell’s One Fifth Avenue chronicles the clashes among the inhabitants of One Fifth Avenue, a Greenwich Village art deco jewel crammed with regal rich, tarty upstarts and misguided lovers. Josh Safran (Gossip Girl) is writing the adaptation and will exec produce with Bushnell and Gordon. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: ABC has bought one of its most ambitious projects so far this development season — a globetrotting adventure from North Country writer Michael Seitzman and producer Mark Gordon. Based on the Jack West Jr. book series by best-selling Australian action thriller novelist Matthew Reilly, The Seven Wonders is a treasure hunt show in the spirit of Raiders of the Lost Arc and National Treasure. It centers on an unlikely five-member team led by commando-turned-archeologist Jack West Jr. as they search the world for seven pieces of an ancient and powerful relic and along the way form a unique non-traditional family that includes West Jr.’s 12-year-old adopted daughter. Seitzman will write the pilot script for the project, whose first season will be based on the first 2 books in the series, The Seven Ancient Wonders (Seven Deadly Wonders in the U.S.) and The Six Sacred Stones. Seitzman got on board to adapt the novels the moment he read them. “They feel like big boyhood and girlhood adventure stories; they are really fun and remind me of all the movies in the genre I loved,” Seitzman said. He called the novels “a mixture of history and historical truth and carefully drawn-out plausible fiction.” Seitzman is writing the project under the new two-year deal he signed with ABC Studios in … Read More »
In the latest round of script buying, ABC has picked up two projects from feature auspices — a comedy from Friends With Benefits writers Keith Merryman and David Newman, which is executive produced by Mark Gordon, and a drama from Changing Lanes scribe Michael Tolkin, which is executive produced by Lorenzo Di Bonaventura. ABC TV Studios, where Di Bonaventura and Gordon’s companies are based, is producing. This marks the first sale for Di Bonaventura Pictures Television, Di Bonaventura’s partnership with Dan McDermott launched in June.
Merryman and Newman’s Status Update is a single-camera ensemble comedy about a woman who is re-entering the world of dating armed with the influences of new technology and the various opinions of her friends and family. Gordon and Andrea Shay executive produce, with Merryman and Newman co-executive producing. In addition to co-writing with Will Gluck the Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis comedy Friends With Benefits, Merryman and Newman, repped by APA and Circle of Confusion, also recently penned the movie Think Like a Man, which just wrapped principal photography, as well as a rewrite on Walden Media’s Mother’s Day.
The untitled Michael Tolkin/David Zabel project, which has Tolkin set to write and former ER showrunner Zabel attached as showrunner, is a drama about a complex female ADA in San Francisco who runs against her boss and becomes the new DA. … Read More »
Showtime has greenlighted three pilots: Andrew Gurland’s docu-comedy Gurland on Gurland, Michelle Ashford’s drama Masters Of Sex and Ann Biderman’s dramedy Ray Donovan. This marks the second round of pilot orders for Showtime’s new entertainment president David Nevins. The first one included drama Homeland and comedy House of Lies, both of which went to series.
Gurland on Gurland is a first-person documentary comedy written, directed and starring filmmaker Andrew Gurland (The Last Exorcism, The Virginity Hit), which reflects his real family life and the challenges he faces pursuing the next phase of his career. The pilot hails from CBS TV Studios, with Gurland, managed by Principato-Young, and studio-based Glenn Gordon Caron executive producing. This marks the first Showtime pilot from the cable division of sibling studio CBS TV Studios. It was developed by the division’s former head Bela Bajaria, who recently departed to run Universal Media Studios. On the broadcast side, Medium creator Caron just sold a drama project to CBS executive produced by James Mangold and Cathy Konrad.
Masters of Sex, from Sony Pictures TV, is an adaptation of Thomas Maier’s book Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love and chronicles the lives and the intriguing, unusual relationship between Masters and Johnson, the pioneers into the science of human sexuality whose research touched off the sexual revolution. Ashford wrote the script and is executive producing with Timberman/Beverly Prods’ Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly, who set up the project while at Sony TV. (The company, which has three series on the air — FX’s Justified and CBS’ upcoming Unforgettable and A Gifted Man — moved to CBS Studios last summer.) Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Phil Claydon has been hired by Mandate Pictures to direct Miserable Excuse For A Hero, the D.V. De Vincentis-scripted adaptation of Bob Powers’ comic novel You Are A Miserable Excuse For A Hero. In the book, a 30-year-old part-time actor/full-time waiter goes on a date with a girl he kind of likes. The next day, he’s awakened by a phone call from kidnappers who tell him they have his girlfriend, and will kill her if he doesn’t come up with $50,000 in ransom. Considering he barely knows the girl, he’s conflicted. Mark Gordon and Jennifer Todd are producing. Claydon directed Lesbian Vampire Killers and is working on Dan Mintner: Badass For Hire.
EXCLUSIVE: Anthony Mandler has been set to direct Die In A Gunfight for Media Rights Capital, the Gabriel Ferrari/Andrew Barrer-scripted film that has Zac Efron attached to star. Mark Gordon is producing with Jennifer Todd. Mandler, a photographer, music video and commercial director, is separately attached to direct Vlad at Summit Entertainment, with Plan B producing. UTA and Management 360 reps the director. The scribes wrote Die In A Gunfight right out of NYU, and it made the 2010 Black List. Efron is attached to play a fight-prone and death-obsessed young society man who pursues a romance with the daughter of his father’s enemy.
Mark Gordon has renewed his deal with ABC Studios, where he has been for 10 years. Additionally, he has inked a first-look pact with Walt Disney Studios. The four-year Disney deal covers overhead for Gordon’s banner, Mark Gordon Company, on the film and TV side. “I’m so incredibly fortunate to have such a long and successful relationship with ABC Studios,” said Gordon. “I’m especially pleased we were able to expand our partnership into film with a first-look deal with Walt Disney Studios.” Despite Gordon’s long tenure at ABC Studios, I hear he also fielded offers from other studios, and it came down to the wire between ABC Studios and Sony Pictures TV.
Gordon currently has five series on the air for ABC Studios: ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, CBS’ Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, as well as Lifetime’s Army Wives. Gordon is currently producing ABC/ABC Studios’ drama pilot Identity, starring Angela Bassett. “Mark is a tremendous talent with a great track record,” said Paul Lee, president of ABC Entertainment Group.
Gordon’s most recent film projects include the just-released Duncan Jones sci-fi thriller Source Code, Roland Emmerich’s 2012, and The Messenger. “Mark is a high-quality producer, and we are very happy to have him as a partner at The Walt Disney Studios,” said Sean Bailey, president, Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production. Gordon’s next film release … Read More »
Angela Bassett is set as a lead in ABC’s drama pilot Identity. The project, from ABC Studios, Mark Gordon Co. and writer John Glenn, is an action procedural based on a British format, which centers on an elite police unit formed to combat the explosion of identity-related crime. Bassett will play Martha, the Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s new Identity Crimes Unit. Bronx-tough Vassar graduate from Greenwich, Martha is determined to make a go of this division, using sophisticated technology combined with good old fashioned investigative methods. The casting extends Bassett’s relationship with ABC, ABC Studios and producer Mark Gordon. Earlier this pilot season, she was attached to ABC’s drama project One Police Plaza, which was developed for her through ABC Studios and studio-based Mark Gordon Co. In it, she was slated to play another top New York law enforcement officer, the city’s first female commissioner. Bassett, repped by Gersh and Lighthouse, will next be seen in Jumping the Broom and Green Lantern. On TV, she most recently co-starred on the final season of ER.
UPDATE: The Weinstein Company indeed closed this deal, and here are the details. I’m told the minimum guarantee was $7.5 million, with a P&A commitment upwards of $10 million. That makes The Details the largest minimum guarantee of the festival so far, though TWC’s deal for My Idiot Brother (between $6 million-$7 million m.g.) had a larger P&A commitment, around $15 million. Summit’s bid for domestic rights was between $4 million and $5 million. TWC’s acquisition team of Peter Lawson, Laine Kline and David Glasser made the deal with CAA and UTA, which co-repped the picture.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 6:48 PM: A marathon bargaining session is near a close, and it appears The Weinstein Company will acquire worldwide distribution rights to The Details, the Jacob Aaron Estes-directed dark comedy that stars Tobey Maguire, Elizabeth Banks, Laura Linney, Ray Liotta, Dennis Haysbert and Kerry Washington. TWC and Summit Entertainment have been battling vigorously all night, and I’m told this could end up the Sundance Film Festival’s largest deal. The film, repped by CAA and UTA, began attracting suitors right after its Monday premiere at Eccles Theater. It quickly got down to TWC and Summit Entertainment, the latter of which has focused on acquiring domestic distribution rights.
When hungry raccoons discover worms living under the sod in a young couple’s backyard, the result is a chain reaction of domestic tension, infidelity, organ … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: We’re already braced for Cowboys and Aliens, so how cool is it that the writers of Zombieland are taking on the tale of an assassin who mixes the skills of a cowboy with those of the ninja and the viking? Disney has purchased the feature pitch Cowboy Ninja Viking, with Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese writing the script. The basis is the graphic novel by AJ Lieberman and artist Riley Rossmo, published last year by Image Comics. Mark Gordon, Management 360 and Wernick & Reese are producing. A multiple personality disorder patient is trained to be an assassin with three different skill sets and the personalities that come with them tries to bring down the nefarious organization that made him. Wernick & Rheese most recently wrote the script for Deadpool, the X-Men spinoff based on the indestructible wisecracking character played by Ryan Reynolds in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. That script is out to directors. Deal was made by WME.
Producer Mark Gordon has found success on TV with female-centered dramas Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Army Wives and crime drama Criminal Minds. Now he is combining the two in his new hourlong project for ABC. One Police Plaza is the project from ABC Studios, a drama that centers on New York City’s first female commissioner. Linda Fairstein and Kenneth L. Solarz are writing the script and will executive produce with Gordon ad Deborah Spera.
EXCLUSIVE 2ND UPDATE: I’ve now learned that, after Lifetime HR reported Mark Gordon to ABC Studios HR, the producer was “admonished aggressively” by ABC Studios EVP Howard Davine, who oversees Business Affairs and Administration for Disney’s TV production studio. I’m told that Davine called up Gordon the day after the producer used the N-word twice at a pilot table read and told him, “We need you to understand this is a completely inappropriate thing you’ve done. We know you’ve never had any experiences like this before. But we will be watching you.”
No other action was taken by ABC Studios.
Meanwhile, I’ve also learned that Shonda Rhimes, Gordon’s African-American co-executive producer on Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, learned about the test read incident because of Deadline Hollywood’s report. A source close to her told me today, “She thinks he’s an idiot. She thinks what he did is terrible, stupid, and embarrassing. But she doesn’t think he’s a racist.”
From: Mark Gordon
Sent: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 6:58 PM
Dear fellow PGA board members –
As your Co-President, I feel it is important to express my embarrassment and regret about a recent incident that was reported in the press today. As many of you know, I frequently put my foot in my mouth and say offensive things, not because I intend to but because I am sometimes careless.
Two months ago, during a table read, in response to a line in the script, I attempted to act out an impromptu version of “Blazing Saddles.” At the time, I immediately understood my actions were inappropriate because of the racist language in the scene. I apologized to everyone in the room, as well as producers, studio executives and the network. I also am apologizing to you. I hope you do know that my heart is always open to everyone.
The producing community has nurtured me and supported me through countless ups and downs throughout my 30 years in the business. We all make mistakes, and believe me, I know that this was a big one. I ask – although I may not always
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Lifetime formally notified Disney’s ABC Studios that prominent TV and film producer Mark Gordon six weeks ago used the word “nigger” twice during a table read of the pilot for the Army Wives spinoff. He did it in front of cast and crew — including two African-American actresses, pilot lead Gabrielle Union and Army Wives series regular Wendy Davis. “Lifetime took all appropriate steps and notified the studio that this is a situation that needs to be dealt with,” an executive tells me.
In turn, a ABC exec informs me, “it was dealt with appropriately. I can’t go beyond that.”
Gordon issued this statement to me: “I feel terrible about this. It was a stupid lapse in judgment. I didn’t meant [sic] to offend anyone, and I’ve apologized to everyone involved.”
Gordon, who is white, has a deal with ABC Studios. He not only is executive producer of Army Wives and one of ABC Studios’ busiest TV producers, but also executive producer of the series Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice with African American showrunner Shonda Rhimes. It was ABC Studios that first put them together because Rhimes had no showrunner experience. As a film producer, Gordon has worked with Steven Spielberg on Saving Private Ryan, Roland Emmerich on 10,000 BC, Mel Gibson on The Patriot, and Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock on Speed.
I’ve confirmed these details: At the table read, there was a … Read More »