EXCLUSIVE: Theater veterans Michael Mayer and Stephen Karam have signed with WME. Mayer received a Tony Award for his direction of Spring Awakening and was nominated for his work on Thoroughly Modern Millie. Karam is best known for writing Sons Of The Prophet, which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, and won Drama Critics Circle, Outer Critics Circle, Lucille Lortel and Hull-Warriner awards for Best Play. The pair come from CAA, as the one-upsmanship continues between Hollywood’s two top talent agencies. Now the competition seems to be spreading to New York, where things aren’t nearly as rabid.
EXCLUSIVE: Two years ago Michael Mayer was a stage director who was about to try his hand at TV directing with a Broadway-themed drama pilot, NBC’s Smash. Now he is a pilot director with a perfect batting average — both pilots he has directed, NBC/Universal TV’s Smash and Do No Harm, have gone to series. He will try to extend it with another NBC pilot, Hatfields & McCoys, a modern-day Hatfields and McCoys drama project created by John Glenn and produced by Charlize Theron, Dawn Parouse Olmstead, Beau Flynn and ABC Studios. A startling death re-ignites the feud between these two legendary families in present-day Pittsburgh, unleashing decades of resentment. Mayer, who served as consulting producer/director on the first season of Smash, won a Tony in 2007 for Spring Awakening.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating to turn the Green Day-fueled Broadway musical American Idiot into a feature film. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning Milk scribe, is in talks to write the script, and Michael Mayer will direct. Mayer helmed the stage run of the musical, which is closing on Broadway April 24 and launching a tour in the fall. Black most recently scripted J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover.
The musical, which uses the songs of the punk band’s seminal 2004 album to tell the coming-of-age story of three small-town guys, was optioned before its opening last spring by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. They previously turned the stage hit Mamma Mia! into a Universal film. It is expected that Green Day lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong will be courted to play the role of the drug dealer St. Jimmy. Each time he did a stint in the role on Broadway, the grosses rose considerably at the St. James Theatre. The band was actively involved in the formation of the musical.
EXCLUSIVE: I hear FlashForward alum Jack Davenport will co-star opposite Debra Messing in the NBC hourlong pilot Smash, which was based on an idea by Steven Spielberg. The pilot, from DreamWorks TV and UMS, follows a cross section of characters who come together to put on a Marilyn Monroe musical on Broadway led by the musical’s composer Tom and lyricist Julia (Messing). British actor Davenport will play Derek, a fierce and intelligent musical choreographer trying to find his next big project who loves the idea of the Marilyn Monroe musical. Davenport also joins Megan Hilty in the pilot, written by Theresa Rebeck and to be directed by Michael Mayer. Smash landed Davenport in a competitive situation as he was also holding an offer for the lead in Marc Cherry’s ABC pilot Hallelujah. Davenport, repped by Gersh and Sanders Armstrong Caserta, also starred in the CBS’ praised drama Swingtown and in Coupling (the original hit British version) and co-starred in the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies.
Another Brit, The Beautiful Life alumna Ashley Madekwe is the first actress to be cast in ABC’s drama pilot Revenge, written by Swingtown creator Mike Kelley and to be directed by Phillip Noyce. It is a contemporary re-imagening of The Count of Monte Cristo from a female perspective and centers on Emily Thorn, a mysterious young woman who comes …