HBO seems to be going through the list of shows it may have short-shrifted for being ahead of their time and giving them a second chance. With a new installment of cult 2005 comedy The Comeback in final negotiations, the pay cable network announced this morning that it will be bringing back 2001 filmmaking documentary series Project Greenlight for a new season. It will be executive produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, executive producers of the original two seasons. “Project Greenlight was ahead of its time,” Affleck said. “Now that technology has caught up to the concept, we thought it was a perfect time to bring it back. A whole new generation of filmmakers has grown up sharing everything, and the next big director could be just an upload away.” It is worth noting that when the first two seasons of Project Greenlight were done more a decade ago, Affleck and Damon were actors-writers. Now Affleck also is a respected feature director. “Project Greenlight works,” Damon said. “Careers have been launched and sustained as a direct result of this contest. Pete Jones, John Gulager, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan are just a few of the PGL alums who’ve gone on to do great things in Hollywood, and Ben and I are really proud of that.”
UPDATE, 12:04 PM: By Warner Bros jumping aboard the high-profile Johnny Depp-Joel Edgerton pic Black Mass, it means the studio won’t be taking on another Whitey Bulger project in its own backyard: the one that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon had been developing for a couple of years as a starring vehicle for Damon via their Warners-based Pearl Street Films. I’m hearing that Affleck and Damon were given a day or two advance notice that the studio was putting its eggs in the Black Mass basket, but that news came just a day before the latest rewrite was turned in by Aaron Stockard, who worked with Affleck on The Town and Gone Baby Gone and who rewrote the script by Oscar nominated The Wolf Of Wall Street scribe Terence Winter. There was much enthusiasm, then radio silence, and then…Naturally there are bruised feelings that Warners will have to repair with two of its most valuable players, as this was the first project pitched for Affleck to direct and Damon to star after Pearl Street inked its overall deal there, and I’m told the studio assured the pair it wanted to make their movie.
This is all a part of the big rough and tumble game of studios needing to fill slates, and clearly someone was going to come out first with a Bulger biopic. But there are plenty of reasons to smooth any ruffles here. Affleck is directing and starring in Warner Bros’ Live By Night, an epic period crime drama that he adapted from the best-selling novel by Dennis Lehane, author of Affleck’s first directorial outing Gone Baby Gone. It’s the follow-up to the Best Picture Oscar winner Argo he made for the studio. He also is playing Batman in Warner Bros’ Batman Vs. Superman.
Tom Papa-Starring Comedy From Ben Affleck & Matt Damon, Cathy Yuspa & Josh Goldsmith Gets CBS Pilot Order
CBS has given a pilot order to More Time With Family, a multi-camera comedy starring comedian Tom Papa. The project, which had a put pilot commitment, was one of the highest-profile comedy packages this season – with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as executive producers, Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith as writers/exec producers and Papa as star. 20th Century Fox TV, where Yuspa and Goldsmith are based, is producing.
Based on the stand-up of Papa and the experiences of Damon, More Time With Family centers on a husband and father (Papa) making a career change to spend more time with his family. The project originated with Papa and Damon who had worked together on two movies, The Informant and Behind The Candelabra. They teamed with Damon’s childhood friend and frequent collaborator Affleck, and Yuspa and Goldsmith came on board to write. Affleck will executive produce through his Pearl Street along with Papa, Yuspa, Goldsmith and 3 Arts’ Dave Becky and Josh Lieberman. This marks Pearl Street’s second pilot order this season — the company also has crime drama The Middle Man, which is on a series track at Fox.
EXCLUSIVE: My, there has been a flurry of pre-holiday material sales. In the latest, Warner Bros has acquired an action-adventure spec script written by John Krasinski and Oren Uziel. Krasinski and his Sunday Night banner will team with Pearl Street partners Ben Affleck and Matt Damon to produce under their Warner-based company. Uziel, best known for scripting the genre mash-up The Kitchen Sink, which is getting made at Sony Pictures, will be a producer and Scott Z. Burns will be exec producer.
The studio is keeping the logline under wraps. This reteams the former The Office star Krasinski with Damon. They co-wrote and starred in the Gus Van Sant-directed fracking drama Promised Land. Uziel’s recent script credits include the sequel 22 Jump Street and the Men In Black reboot that is in the works at Sony Pictures. Krasinski co-stars in the untitled Cameron Crowe film that’s currently shooting. It is unclear at the moment whether he’ll star in the spec action adventure, which will be overseen at Warner Bros by Jesse Ehrman and Cate Adams. WME reps Krasinski and Uziel, and the latter is managed by Circle Of Confusion and attorney David Fox.
Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass On Oscar Contender ‘Captain Phillips’, MLK, And Why He’ll Never Make Another Bourne Film
EXCLUSIVE: Conveying the kinetic energy of real-life events has become a signature for Paul Greengrass. He grew up making documentaries, and then television dramas like the IRA car bombing saga Omagh, which he produced and co-wrote. He turned that urgent cinematic style to features including 2002′s Bloody Sunday, the Oscar-nominated 2006 drama United 93, and fictional dramas including Green Zone, and the last two Bourne installments The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Here, he’s in the Oscar hunt again with Captain Phillips, and so are his dueling captains played by Tom Hanks and newcomer Barkhad Abdi.
DEADLINE: We all watched the Somali pirate hijacking play out in real time not long ago. What did you see under the surface here that made this feature-worthy?
GREENGRASS: There’s got to be something about the story that’s both accurately clear and dramatic, but also layered and complex. That was the case here and on United 93. What was clear about both: these were siege/hostage crises that turned into tense, dramatic events with clear, compelling characters. But there was a broader more complex landscape. Why do young men become pirates, these vagabonds with AK-47s who are prepared to defy the might of the U.S. Navy? It was enough to ask, what does this event mean? It’s layered and complex and it goes to where we are today. I felt that way about United 93 and Bloody Sunday. You make the film as authentically as you know how, and if you make judgments with a spirit of open-mindedness, complexities emerge. These traumatic series of events seem to speak to the way we are.
DEADLINE: It sounds like you can be surprised during the journey, when things reveal themselves even when you have a strong script as your blueprint. What emerged that surprised you most?
GREENGRASS: I remember Tom and I having a long, rolling conversation early on, asking, what is this really about? What’s the question we’re trying to answer here? We ended up literally writing it on a piece of paper. Is it going to be OK? It seems banal, but it captured the state of mind of a regular guy in the Merchant Marines who goes off to sea. My father was in the Merchant Marines. All of us feel the economic pressure that causes us to work harder. Then this terrible thing happens and it becomes a question of, it’s going to be alright, isn’t it? There is a feeling of underlying unease, a general sense that the world wheels are turning fast.
DEADLINE: Your Somali pirates were played by first-time actors. Why did you keep them away from Tom Hanks until the siege occurred?
GREENGRASS: From day one, they were saying, when can we meet Tom Hanks? I said, not until you go through that door and take that ship. They were disappointed, but my great anxiety was this: the movie is a study of two captains, two very contrasting figures. One is captain of a large container ship from our world, the other a lawless vagabond from another world. I didn’t want Barkhad to be thinking, that’s Tom Hanks. Or even worse, that’s my friend Tom Hanks. I wanted him to have one thought only. When you go through that door, you have to scare, terrorize and seize control of that bridge. Barkhad came up with that brilliant line, ‘I’m the captain now,’ and it came from that challenge that he had to take charge. I tried to prepare him psychologically. Acting is many things, and one is an exercise of will. In any given scene, you’re trying to find where the drama and conflict is, and then deploy the actors to play at that point of conflict with precision, control, and complete will. It’s no good in a scene to have one actor lie down because the scene says it’s the other actor’s moment. Each actor has to believe that with extra will, the outcome of a scene can be different. An actor can win the scene if he exerts the most powerful will in that moment. That’s what happened. Look back at those performances by Tom and Barkhad; they really build from the moment Barkhad seizes control. For Tom, that’s the moment that he must come back from. The look on his face, a magnificent moment, where he knows his ship is going to be taken. You feel in his face the existential shock of a captain losing his ship. The psychological collapse would be immense. Tom’s performance is really about rebuilding himself from a position of hopelessness, to the end where he goes on that journey in the lifeboat that becomes more emotional and deeper. The film is their trial of strength, their test of wills and it all grew from that first moment.
CBS Nabs Comedy Produced By Ben Affleck & Matt Damon, Starring Tom Papa And Written By Cathy Yuspa & Josh Goldsmith
EXCLUSIVE: After a heated bidding war, one of the highest-profile comedy packages this season – a half-hour starring comedian Tom Papa that boasts Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as executive producers and Cathy Yuspa and Josh Goldsmith as co-writers — has landed at CBS with a put pilot commitment. 20th Century Fox TV is producing.
Based on the stand-up of Papa and the experiences of Damon, the multi-camera comedy, titled More Time With Family, centers on a guy (Papa) who changes his career and gives up a life on the road to spend more time at home with his family — but when he gets there, he realizes no one asked him to do that. The project originated with Papa and Damon who had worked together on two movies, The Informant and Behind The Candelabra. They teamed with Damon’s childhood friend and frequent collaborator Affleck, whose company, Pearl Street Films, is making a big push in television. The three met with a number of writers, going with Yuspa and Goldsmith and setting up the project at 20th TV where the scribes are under an overall deal. Damon and Affleck will executive produce through Pearl Street along with Papa, Yuspa, Goldsmith and 3 Arts’ Dave Becky and …
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is making a deal with Aaron Stockard to do script work on the Whitey Bulger movie that Ben Affleck plans to direct, with Matt Damon playing New England’s most notorious gangster and a man who has inspired numerous movie and TV bad guys, most recently played by James Woods on the Showtime series Ray Donovan. Affleck and Damon are producing through their Warners-based Pearl Street banner.
The script was originated by Boardwalk Empire creator and writer Terrence Winter, and the hiring of Stockard shows that Affleck and Damon are serious even though there is a rival project, Black Mass, that threatens to go into production first. Stockard worked with Affleck as a writer on his directing vehicles Gone Baby Gone and The Town.
Deadline broke the story on the film in late 2011, and the plan is for Affleck to also co-star along with Damon and his brother Casey Affleck, making it a real Good Will Hunting reunion.
It was obviously another huge night for AMC, which took home the most prestigious Emmy prize of Outstanding Drama Series for the 5th time in the last six years, this time for long overdue Breaking Bad. Inside the Governors Ball following the Emmys, a raucous celebration at the 400 tables, 3-time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston didn’t seem to care that he personally lost in a shocker to The Newsroom’s Jeff Daniels. “This is the one I really wanted,” he told me about the show’s win. I asked AMC topper Charlie Collier why he programmed a new episode of Breaking Bad against the Emmy broadcast instead of running a repeat. ”There may be a few thousand people here who pay attention to the Emmys tonight. But there are millions who want to know what’s going to happen on Breaking Bad!,” he told me. As for the win, ”this was a show no one could believe got on the air, didn’t get cancelled, and kept thriving,” he added.
Related: Nikki Finke Live-Snarks 65th Emmys
Even AMC stable mate and 4-time drama series winner Mad Men’s Matt Weiner came by and hugged Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan, perhaps the nicest guy who has never won an Emmy until now. I asked Gilligan if he really thought any of the other shows he mentioned by name in his acceptance speech were going to win over his. “Oh yes, absolutely. I was convinced House Of Cards would win,” he told me. A day earlier, Saturday’s …
Behind The Candelabra co-stars Michael Douglas and Matt Damon are the first presenters announced for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, set for September 22 live on CBS from the NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE in Los Angeles. The HBO movie garnered 15 nominations this year, including for Douglas as Liberace and Damon and his longtime companion Scott Thorson.
He dropped out of helming Promised Land because of his Elysium schedule but now Matt Damon may have found his first directing project. Long rumored and then denied, the Oscar winner is now in preliminary talks to direct The Foreigner for Paramount. Based on an April 4, 2008 New Yorker article “A Murder Foretold” by David Grann and with a script by Oscar-winning Argo scribe Chris Terrio, the film details corruption and a series of high-level murders in Guatemala that reached all the way to the country’s president. The whole thing broke open at the funeral of Rodrigo Rosenberg when a videotape was circulated that implicated the president, his wife, and other close aides in the wealthy businessman’s killing. The film will be produced by Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch and Indian Paintbrush’s Steven Rales and Mark Roybal. Grann and Indian Paintbrush’s Michael Pruss are co-producers. Damon is repped by WME.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is getting the wheels moving on a fifth installment of The Bourne Identity franchise. I’ve heard that studio has hired Anthony Peckham to script a film that is designed to continue the storyline of Aaron Cross, the character that Jeremy Renner played in the 2012 Tony Gilroy-directed Bourne Legacy. Cross was among a group of agents who took part in Operation Outcome. Medically enhanced to be smarter and physically superior, the agents were targeted for termination. Renner starred with Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton. Frank Marshall and Captivate Entertainment’s Ben Smith and Jeffrey Weiner are producing the new one.
This is all early days, but the studio wants to continue to build the spinoff character and storyline hatched by Tony Gilroy, who was so important in establishing Matt Damon‘s Jason Bourne character in those early films from the books by the late Robert Ludlum. It doesn’t sound like they’ve made headway with Damon about a reprise (he has said he won’t do it without Paul Greengrass, and doesn’t know where the character goes after regaining the memory loss that came back by the end of the third film). Universal, which has a seventh installment of all time top grossing The Fast And The Furious in the works as well as new installments of The Mummy and Jurassic Park, counts Bourne as …
Elysium from District 9‘s Neill Blomkamp is being digitally re-mastered for the large-screen format and is set to hit IMAX theatres worldwide beginning August 9, IMAX, TriStar Pictures and Media Rights Capital announced today. Matt Damon and Jodie Foster star in the sci-fi actioner produced by Blomkamp, Bill Block and Simon Kinberg.
Related: Hot Trailer: ‘Elysium’
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart has won the Emmy for Best Variety Series for nine straight years. Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond talks with ENTV host Brian Corsetti about some nomination options for Emmy voters looking to shake things up a bit in a static category, including strong work by Bill Maher, Jimmy Kimmel’s Matt Damon takeover episode, and a revived Saturday Night Live.
Listen to (and share) episode 31 of our audio podcast Deadline Awards Watch With Pete Hammond. Deadline’s Awards Columnist talks with host David Bloom about the late James Gandolfini‘s other roles and the ones still to come; the Emmy nominations for “Best Variety Series;” why Matt Damon can’t catch a break this Emmy season despite a fine set of performances; Almodovar’s latest film opening the LA Film Festival; and the movies of the week, including a popcorn-worthy World War Z and the genial animated prequel from Pixar, Monsters University.
Poor Matt Damon. Damon’s tour de force one night “hosting” stint January 24th on Jimmy Kimmel Live was a real triumph, maybe the funniest and finest work by any guest on a variety (as talk shows are classified in the Emmys) series this season. Damon’s rep tells me they had been trying for a very long time to make this appearance possible and finally his schedule freed him up to do it. But as far as Emmys go, it doesn’t exist.
Of course the whole show was one big gag based on Kimmel’s long standing show biz mock hatred of Damon. He’s ended virtually every episode of his decade-old talker by saying that unfortunately the show ran out of time for Damon’s appearance. Of course Damon was never really booked and it was all an elaborate running joke but finally it paid off when Damon supposedly kidnapped Kimmel, tied him up and took over the host desk. With Kimmel, his mouth taped shut , hopelessly looking on from the background , Damon took over with a great monologue and a couch full of A-listers that included Nicole Kidman, Gary Oldman, Demi Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Amy Adams, Sarah Silverman (Kimmel’s ex), Andy Garcia, Robin Williams and others including BFF Ben Affleck.
It’s 2154, and a new caste system is in place. Earth is populated by the have-nots, while the privileged live in a veritable utopia aboard a massive spaceship. Earth-bound ne’er-do-well Max Da Costa (Matt Damon) gets some souped-up surgery and invades the ship monitored by Secretary of Defense Delacourt (Jodie Foster). Much battling ensues. Elysium is the second feature from writer-director Neill Blomkamp, who scored an Adapted Screenplay Oscar nom for his 2009 debut, District 9. Sharlto Copley, Alice Braga, Diego Luna, Wagner Moura and Faran Tahir co-star in the sci-fi actioner produced by Blomkamp, Bill Block and Simon Kinberg. Sue Bader-Powell exec produces. Check out the extended second trailer for the pic from Media Rights Capital and TriStar Pictures, which Sony releases August 9:
UPDATE, 6:08 PM: Philip K. Dick’s daughter Laura Leslie issued a statement today about the settlement between her father’s estate and Media Rights Capital. From the sound of it The Adjustment Bureau will not be the last time MRC has a hand in an adaptation of a Dick property. Take a read:
Media Rights Capital (MRC) and the Philip K. Dick Estate have resolved their claims against each other concerning The Adjustment Bureau. The settlement includes the opportunity to work together on future Philip K. Dick Estate properties. “The Estate is pleased to continue our relationship with MRC. MRC’s talent-friendly executives and proven track record of producing high-quality entertainment across multiple platforms make them an ideal partner for us,” said Laura Leslie, Philip K. Dick’s daughter and trustee for the Estate.
PREVIOUSLY, 4:05 PM: EXCLUSIVE: That legal dispute between Media Rights Capital and the Philip K. Dick Estate has been settled over The Adjustment Bureau, the Matt Damon-starrer that George Nolfi wrote and directed. The film was based on the seminal sci-fi author’s short story Adjustment Team, about a man who bristles when he discovers that shadowy men are controlling his destiny. This was one of the more unusual suits to come down the line, with MRC paying some funds to secure the rights, and then finding out the work was in the public domain. Nolfi took out an option a decade …
After two years in a row of heavily influencing the Oscar race, the 66th Cannes Film Festival lineup may make it three this year. Certainly I see very long and winding Croisette lines to pick up press or market credentials at the Palais, which is adorned with posters of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in a provocative still shot from their fluffy France-set 1963 comedy A New Kind Of Love. One early clue came when the jury was announced, beginning with President Steven Spielberg and including such Oscar winners as Ang Lee, Nicole Kidman and Christoph Waltz. And if it’s not enough to have those icons prominent at this year’s fest, add The Great Gatsby‘s Baz Lurhmann whose film is the opening night event with a gala after-party, and Martin Scorsese who will also be in town for a yacht party announcement of his longtime gestating directorial effort Silence on May 16th. Certainly many of the Cannes contenders both in and out of competition are from Academy Award winners and Cannes veterans back with intriguing films that make up a high profile and potent selection with advance buzz. Competing are the Coen Brothers, Steven Soderbergh, Roman Polanski and Alexander Payne plus a slew of famous names in front of the cameras both on screen and on the Red Carpet this year.
As for the competition and key sidebars, one perennial Cannes question os whether it’s a good idea to ready or even rush a film designed for year-end release in order to play at the Festival in May. Particularly of that means risking negative reviews which can be a real buzz killer. Take, for instance, Payne’s last minute entry Nebraska from Paramount, which almost didn’t appear here. In the initial forecast Deadline posted on March 13, we thought Payne’s film fit in with the auteurist nature of the fest, it’s in black and white, and its filmmaker is quite a favorite in Cannes. (He has had only one film previously in competition – 2002′s About Schmidt – and won no prize, but he not only headed the jury for Un Certain Regard in 2005 but also was a member of the main competition jury last year.) Yet shortly after this prediction I was told Cannes wasn’t in the cards due to Payne’s fondness for long post-production time. He didn’t want to be rushed. Then the studio saw the film about a week before the Cannes deadline and execs urged Payne to put it into the festival. He took Nebraska to Paris to show to Cannes programming honcho Thierry Fremaux with just two days to go before the press conference announcing the 2013 lineup. Now it is one of the most anticipated screenings even though it ooccurs towards the end of the Festival on May 23. Paramount claims it recently had a successful research screening in Pasadena and has dated the film for November 22nd, right in the heart of Oscar season (Payne is a two-time Screenwriting Oscar winner for Sideways and The Descendants).
Conversely there was absolutely no doubt Joel and Ethan Coen would be bringing their latest, the 1960′s-set Greenwich Village folk music tale Inside Llewyn Davis screening on May 19. It is their 8th time around this particular block so they are virtually Cannes regulars. CBS Films won’t release the movie stateside until December 6, another prime Oscar date.
Roman Polanski’s Venus In Fur screening on May 25 on the last day of competition is the adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway play. It brings Polanski back to Cannes for the first time since winning his only Palme d’Or (for 2003′s The Pianist, which resulted in a Best Director Oscar). It stars his wife Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Almarac and though audiences and critics weren’t too impressed with the last Polanski Broadway play adaptation God Of Carnage, this dramatic work could be more up his alley. There’s also strong interest in French director Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P: Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian screening May 18 largely due to lead actor Benecio Del Toro’s role as a Blackfoot Indian WWII vet. (But someone’s gotta change that lumbering title.) Cannes watchers also are buzzing about new works from three directors who are no strangers on the Croisette: Nicolas Winding Refn who won Best Director in Cannes for 2011′s Drive and has re-teamed with star Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler in the May 22nd entry Only God Forgives. (I am told Kristin Scott Thomas steals this one as his mother). And though his films don’t make much noise in theatres, James Gray is a Cannes favorite and back with his fourth competition entry, The Immigrant (formerly called Lowlife) screening May 24th with a starry cast of Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix and Jeremy Renner. Jim Jarmusch brings his new Vampire story Only Lovers Left Alive which stars the always intriguing Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston and Mia Wasikowska . It has the distinction of being the last film to make the list and the last competition film to be screened: in the 10 PM slot on May 25th.
As always with Cannes there is just too damn much to see with many sidebar competitions like Un Certain Regard, Director’s Fortnight, Critics Week, Cannes Classics and so on. Certainly the opener for Un Certain Regard, Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring and Ryan Coogler’s Sundance sensation Fruitvale Station (summer releases stateside) are both screening on the sidebar’s first day of May 16th and are instant must-sees in addition to James Franco’s directorial outing, As I Lay Dying, on May 20th.