McG has boarded NBC’s drama pilot The Mysteries Of Laura as director/executive producer, reuniting with Warner Bros TV — where his company, Wonderland Sound Of Vision, was based for 12 years before going indie in June. Mysteries Of …
EXCLUSIVE: Director-producer McG has re-launched his Wonderland Sound and Vision with a multi-year funding partnership with Mickey Liddell’s private equity-backed LD Entertainment. The arrangement makes McG a buyer with the financial backing for Wonderland to independently develop, produce and finance its own slate of feature film, television and digital projects. The two sides are not disclosing the size of LD Entertainment’s investment but sources indicate that the deal includes an eight-figure overhead component for Wonderland’s current offices on Sunset Boulevard. McG has brought in Alloy Entertainment’s SVP Television Gina Girolamo to run the television division of the now independent company. She succeeds Peter Johnson, who has left after a nine-year stint. Mary Viola, who has been with Wonderland for four years, will continue to oversee the company’s film slate. We hear Wonderland plans to produce 5-6 shows a year, serving as a virtual studio: co-financing, sharing distribution and owning copyright. Wonderland is believed to be the only independent production company of this scale run by a creative type, writer or director. It is a step up for Liddell’s LD Entertainment; he primarily has invested in distribution rights to prestige films like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Biutiful, and started a distribution arm to get in the releasing game.
For the past 12 years, Wonderland was based at Warner Bros Television where it produced more than 500 hours of primetime TV series, including the CW staple Supernatural, Nikita, Chuck and digital series Aim High. McG was offered to stay at the studio with a very lucrative new deal but wanted to step out of the traditional system, an idea he had been bouncing around for years. Here is how McG explains the philosophy and the goals of the company in its new incarnation: “Wonderland is built for the most talented directors, writers, and actors to come over and get their films and television shows made. Our focus is to support the artist and get the material into production. This new relationship now puts Wonderland in a position to go straight into production on our projects. We are now a buyer and, in turn, plan to deliver product to the marketplace quickly and efficiently via traditional and emerging distribution platforms.” Liddell called McG “one of the most creative and innovative talents in the entertainment industry.”
ABC made a late charge on the pilot pickup front to end what will likely be the busiest day this season. (For full list of all broadcast pilots, click here.) The network has given the green light to comedy Pulling, from Bad Teachers scribes Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky and producer Aaron Kaplan. On the drama side, picked up are dramas Betrayal from David Zabel; Venice from McG and Byron Balasco, with McG set to direct; and The Returned, from writer Aaron Zelman, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Single-camera comedy Pulling is based on the praised 2006 British series. Eisenberg and Stupnitsky wrote the adaptation, produced by ABC Studios and Kapital Entertainment. Sharon Horgan and Dennis Kelly, creators of the original series, executive produce with Eisenberg, Stupnitsky and Kaplan. Pulling revolves around three dysfunctional women in their 30s living their lives the way they want, even if society tells them they should have it all figured out by this point. This marks the second pilot order for Kaplan today, joining CBS’ Dana Klein comedy, and third so far this season, along with NBC’s The Gates.
McG’s Kevin Costner Thriller Officially Adds Hailee Steinfeld; Amber Heard & Connie Nielsen Also Join
We told you back in November that Hailee Steinfeld was boarding McG’s untitled action thriller starring Kevin Costner. Now Relativity Media and EuropaCorp are confirming that Steinfeld has …
EXCLUSIVE: McG has teamed with The Mentalist executive producer Daniel Cerone for a female-lead crime drama, which has sold to CBS. Carrying the social media-influenced title #Resistance, the project from McG’s Wonderland Sound and Vision and Warner Bros TV centers on an unconventional young female detective for the San Francisco Police Department who won’t let criminals get away with their actions. After she finally goes too far, she gets fired from the force — only to be secretly recruited by the Chief of Police to become an undercover officer posing as a vigilante, allowing her to break the law in order to serve justice. Cerone will write the script and executive produce with Wonderland’s McG and Peter Johnson.
The project, somewhat of a female Equalizer, was put together by Wonderland VP Jeff Grosvenor. It stems from McG’s history and interest in empowered female characters and Cerone’s experience on Dexter, where he served as executive producer/showrunner, and on The Mentalist — both shows centered on characters that fight crime from outside the conventional system.
File this one under, exclusive, my ass. Back in early August, Deadline broke the story that Kevin Costner would star in Three Days to Kill, and also told you that McG was going to direct and Relativity Media would …
EXCLUSIVE: The CW is jumping down a rabbit hole to Wunderland, putting in development a contemporary reimagining of Alice In Wonderland. Fittingly, Wunderland hails from McG‘s Warner Bros TV-based production company Wonderland Sound And Vision, in association with WBTV. Written by The Playboy Club creator Chad Hodge, the drama project centers on a young female detective in present-day Los Angeles who discovers another world that exists under the surface of this ultra-modern city. Hodge will write the script and executive produce with McG and Wonderland’s Peter Johnson. This is one of two public domain properties the CW is developing as potential drama series for next season, along with Sleepy Hollow, which also is being produced by WBTV. Lewis Carroll’s classic has been closely associated with Disney via the 1951 animated film and Tim Burton’s 2010 extravaganza. Characters from the book also have been featured on Disney-owned ABC’s fairytale drama Once Upon A Time.
Chris Pine and Tom Hardy play spies who discover they’re dating the same woman — Reese Witherspoon. The decide to go at each other rather like another 20th Century Fox pairing (we’ll let you guess which one) and “may the best man win.” Occasional hilarity and physical comedy ensue. You …
EXCLUSIVE: Summit Entertainment is in talks with McG to direct Puzzle Palace, the cop drama script by David Guggenheim. Summit acquired the project at a pitch early last year from Guggenheim after the scribe sold the spec script Safe …
20th Century Fox has released a trailer for This Means War, the McG-directed comedy that pits the world’s deadliest CIA operatives and inseparable best friends against one another when they find they are dating the same woman. The operatives use all their skills and gadgetry in an attempt to prevail. …
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.
Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir.
‘Terminator’ Back With Arnold To Star: Schwarzenegger In Package Shopping Now; ‘Fast Five’s Justin Lin To Direct
EXCLUSIVE: He’s baaack! Arnold Schwarzenegger is attached to star in a rights package that CAA is shopping today that will revive The Terminator, one of Hollywood’s most iconic scifi franchises. The agency is dropping the package on studios this afternoon. I’m told that already, Universal, Sony and Lionsgate, and CBS Films are looking hard at the package. There is no screenwriter attached at this point, and Robert Cort is producing. This is the first real activity on The Terminator project since February 2010, when the property emerged from a bankruptcy auction and into the possession of Pacificor. The Santa Barbara-based hedge fund posted a bid of $29.5 million, with the promise that additional multimillion-dollar payments for each film would go to Halcyon, the company that made the 2009 McG-directed Terminator Salvation. That film starred Sam Worthington as the cyborg and Christian Bale as John Connor, and the storyline launched the battle between Skynet and the human survivors of the apocalypse, the war foreshadowed in James Cameron’s visionary 1984 original film. Halcyon wanted to make several films but ran out of money. At the time of the auction, Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Lionsgate and Sony planning to make back-to-back sequels to bring the franchise to a natural creative conclusion.
While many felt at the time that Pacificor overpaid and that Lionsgate and Sony would have been better matches for the material, CAA has chosen an optimum time to seek a new deal. I wrote back in February that Universal quietly was trying to arrange for Lin to be helmer of the project. At the time, some turned up their noses. Given the strong international grosses being racked up by Fast Five and the expectations for a strong domestic opening this Friday, Lin has a lot of heat. And Schwarzenegger is looking to recapture past marquee glory ending his run as California State Governor. Schwarzenegger has circled several projects including Last Stand for Lionsgate, but here, he’s the star, returning to the signature role that once established him as the world’s biggest movie star.