EXCLUSIVE: In his TV directing debut, The Notebook helmer Nick Cassavetes is set to direct the opening hour of ABC‘s 10-episode drama Astronaut Wives Club, recently picked up for summer with straight-to-series order. The project, from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire, Michael London’s Groundswell Prods and ABC Studios, was written by Savage based on Lily Koppel’s book. It tells the real story of the women who stood beside some of the biggest heroes in American history during the height of the space race, with JoAnna Garcia Swisher set as one of the leads. Fake Empire’s Savage, Schwartz and Len Goldstein executive produce with Groundswell’s London and Janice Williams. Resolution-repped Cassavetes recently wrote and directed indie Yellow. His latest feature is comedy The Other Woman starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton, opening in April.
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BREAKING: Nicki Minaj, whose clever and sassy commentary makes American Idol bearable, has signed on to star with Cameron Diaz in The Other Woman, the pic that Nick Cassavetes is directing for Fox. Diaz plays a woman who realizes she is not her boyfriend’s primary lover, and teams up with the man’s wife to plot revenge. Game Of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays the cad, and Leslie Mann, Kate Upton and Chicago Fire‘s Taylor Kinney also star. Minaj makes her screen-starring debut, playing the larger-than-life assistant to Diaz’s lawyer character. The assistant is opinionated and sharp and brutally honest, and we know Minaj can handle that. The film shoots in New York in May. She was repped on the deal by Gee Roberson, Brian Sher and attorney Kenny Meiselas.
Director Nick Cassavetes is being sued by two Canadian singers and their father for more than $500,000 over an alleged loan to the movie Yellow. In their complaint filed today (read it here) plaintiffs John Thomas and TwinSpin Music say that in September 2010, singers Carman and Camille Thomas met with the director in the Yellow production office in Studio City. However, they say the meeting took a wide turn with Cassavetes suggesting not just that the singers have a song on the soundtrack but roles in the movie and a producer credit for their father John. “However, there was one catch to Cassavetes’ pitch – namely, Cassavetes was in need of an immediate short term loan of $300,000 to be used for the development and production of the picture, which would be repaid with interest in the aggregate amount of $345,000 no later than October 15, 2010. Accordingly, Cassavetes represented to “Carmen & Camille” that if TwinSpin would agree to provide the Loan, he would (a) cast “Carmen & Camille” in the speaking roles he had previously identified in the Picture, (b) feature at least one song by “Carmen & Camille” in the soundtrack of the Picture (the “Song”}, (c) provide plaintiff Thomas with a producer credit on the Picture, and (d) repay the Loan and interest in the aggregate amount of $345,000 no later than October 15, 2010,” claims the complaint.
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* Hyde Park-Image Nation, Troika Pictures and Merced Media Partners are financing and producing Careful What You Wish For, a thriller to be directed by Elizabeth Allen (Ramona and Beezus, Aquamarine). Written by Chris Frisina, it will star Isabel Lucas (Transformers 2, Immortals). Plot centers on a high school student who gets a lot more than he bargained for when he’s drawn into an affair with the young wife of a wealthy businessman. It’s described as being along the lines of Basic Instinct and Body Heat. Lucas’ recent roles have included the upcoming Terrence Malick film Knight Of Cups, the remake of Red Dawn and The Loft. Casting for other major roles is underway and The film is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2013. Producers are Hyde Park’s Ashok Amritraj and Troika’s Robert Stein, Michael A. Helfant and Bradley Gallo, and Myriad Pictures’ Kirk D’Amico. Exec producers are William Gallo and Merced Media Partners’ Raj Singh, Stuart Brown and Kevin Frakes. Hyde Park International is handling worldwide rights at Toronto.
* Atlas International announces the acquisition for international distribution of Yellow, a searing take on modern society and the demands it makes on people. Produced by Manu Kumaran, CEO Medient Studios, Yellow is a wildly inventive and visually dazzling head-trip from director Nick … Read More »
All the while that producer Marc Fiore was making pricey pay-or-play deals and holding press conferences in New York and Cannes to trumpet John Travolta, Al Pacino, Lindsay Lohan and Joe Pesci taking part in Gotti: In The Shadow Of My Father, there were big questions on whether Fiore really had the cash to make the movie. It has become clear in the last two weeks that he does not; I’m told that the film is in play and that without a new backer, the mob movie could sleep with the fishes. Conversations are going on right now to figure out new funding and to bring down the budget.
What happened? I’m told that Fiore’s major backer, a New York-based construction mogul named Fay Devlin, recently began questioning what he had gotten himself into after Fiore paid high prices to sign talent to pay-or-play deals. Already more than $10 million has been spent, and I’ve heard they’re on the hook to pay Travolta $10 million to play John Gotti Sr, Pacino $7 million, co-writer/director Barry Levinson more than $4 million, co-writer James Toback $1 million, and Ben Foster low seven figures to play Gotti Jr. Those are high prices for an indie film. A pay-or-play deal from an indie company isn’t the same as one at a studio, but talent and reps had no reason to be unduly concerned because Fiore made escrow payments on time and was so confident his … Read More »
Joe Pesci has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against Fiore Films, the producer of Gotti: In the Shadow of My Father, the latest hiccup in the making of the drama about the son of Mafia boss John Gotti Sr. In the suit, filed Wednesday, Pesci claims he was offered the role of Gotti Sr right-hand man Angelo Ruggiero and a $3 million payday, but after Fiore Films promoted the movie with him in the part and the actor gained 30 pounds for the role, it offered Pesci $1 million and a lesser role. “Defendant has no intention of paying (Pesci) $3 million or having him portray Ruggiero in the film,” the lawsuit claims. “Rather, plaintiff secretly planned to use (Pesci’s) name and likeness to promote the film and then to later concoct some pretext for terminating the contract so as to avoid paying plaintiff anything for the substantial publicity and ‘buzz’ that was generated.” The Associated Press reported that Fiore CEO Marc Fiore rejected the allegations, saying, “Before we had a deal, Mr. Pesci walked away.” John Travolta, Al Pacino and Kelly Preston already are aboard the film, which originally had Nick Cassavetes helming before he departed and was replaced by Barry Levinson. Production is slated to begin Jan. 3.
EXCLUSIVE: At a time when organized crime films are back in vogue, Relativity Media’s Ryan Kavanaugh is wetting his beak. He’s acquired Ness/Capone, a Grant Pierce Myers script that made the 2010 Black Script and puts a new spin on the epic battle between Eliot Ness and Al Capone during the Prohibition Era 1920s. That battle was famously chronicled in the Brian DePalma-directed movie based on the TV series The Untouchables. Myers went back to the history books and came away with a much different version of Ness. While Kevin Costner played him as an incorruptible married choirboy who had to be taught to meet the mob on its own crooked terms, Ness/Capone’s Ness is a skirt-chasing 26-year old publicity hound who seemed to get an adrenaline charge out of courting danger, kicking in doors, smashing moonshine stores and rubbing it in the noses of Capone and other mobsters. He paraded confiscated bootleg trucks past Capone’s hotel, calling Capone in advance to suggest he look out the window. Deals are still being worked out, but the film will be produced by Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Jeremy Bell along with Hollywood Gang’s Gianni Nunnari and Virgin Produced’s Jason Felts and Rene Rigal.
This puts Relativity Media in another potential pic race (it has already gone to the mattresses against Universal over rival Snow White films). Warner Bros has its own Capone project, the Walon Green-scripted Cicero, an origin story. I’ve reported that the project has interest from David Yates when he resurfaces from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, his fourth and final Potter pic. Warner Bros also is going gangbusters on Gangster Squad, the Ruben Fleischer-directed pic that has Sean Penn negotiating to play L.A. mobster Mickey Cohen, and Ryan Gosling and Josh Brolin as the cops who try to bring him down. Read More »
Gotti: Three Generations, the John Gotti biopic that indie production company Fiore Films announced last week, has lost director Nick Cassavetes, who had been attached but apparently has a scheduling conflict with another film. The Gotti project, which will star John Travolta as the Dapper Don as well as Joe Pesci and possibly Lindsay Lohan, was set to go into production in October with an eye on a 2012 release. During last week’s press conference, executive producer Marc Fiore said he will self-finance the film, though he declined to say how much will be budgeted. Cassavetes, who attended the media gathering last week with Travolta and Fiore, is currently directing the indie drama Yellow, which stars Sienna Miller and Ben Foster.
2ND UPDATE: The Screen Actors Guild is investigating the Proud Mary (aka Yellow) film production after receiving complaints from guild members about not being paid on location in Oklahama this month after a stint in Los Angeles. “We’ve received information that there are issues with the production Proud Mary. We are following our normal procedures and investigating the situation. If there are problems, we will take appropriate action,” an insider tells me. I’ve learned that director Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook, Alpha Dog), the film’s director and co-writer with his actress/wife Heather Wahlquist but not the producer as well, is telling cast and crew that the financier is having problems, leaving a large number of union and non-union workers on the film unpaid. Cassavetes “too is owed money by the producers,” an insider just told me. A rep for Cassavetes tells me that the producer on the movie, Joe Q. Bretz from Rose Max, is assuring IATSE that the payroll money will be forthcoming. The story follows a young female drug addict who deals with a host of problems not related to her habit. The cast includes Sienna Miller, Lucy Punch, Ben Foster, Melanie Griffith and Nick’s mother Gena Rowlands.
Some action on the feature front. Sony’s Columbia Pictures attached Barry Levinson to direct Brother Jack, a Mosaic-produced drama based on the life of human rights activist Jack Healey. Harley Peyton wrote the script and Kelly Masterson is rewriting. Levinson’s got a little momentum from the Jack Kevorkian biopic You Don’t Know Jack which he directed for HBO to 15 Emmy nominations today…
I must amend a recent post about the lack of starpower (compared to other versions of the film contemplated over the years) in the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. There’s a recognizable name in the cast of a movie that financier John Aglialoro put into production just before he would have lost the rights to the author’s estate. It’s filmmaker Nick Cassavetes, who’s playing the role of Richard McNamara. The film is being directed by Paul Johansson (who also plays John Galt), and Johansson acted in the Cassavetes-directed Alpha Dog. Cassavetes, who is also playing himself in current episodes of Entourage, is moonlighting as he and Warner Bros work out a cast for the remake of A Star Is Born that he plans to direct…
Despite reports to the contrary, Oscar-winning Crazy Heart star Jeff Bridges is not starring in Great Hope Springs. That’s the film that Mike Nichols is eyeing to direct and Meryl Streep is in talks to star in the saga of a couple whose 30-year marriage is crumbling and hinges on an intense couples’ counseling weekend. Bridges was never firm, and given his … Read More »