EXCLUSIVE: The six-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic War And Peace is beginning to cast up. I hear that Downton Abbey’s Lily James and Prisoners’ Paul Dano have offers for lead roles and are seriously circling. The mini hails from BBC Worldwide, The Weinstein Co and Ripper Street‘s Look Out Point. Described as one of the most ambitious event series ever made for the BBC, it will be produced by BBC Cymru Wales and scripted by Andrew Davies. James would play Natasha Rostova, one of the novel’s central characters, who ultimately falls in love with Pierre Bezukhov, the awkward illegitimate son who rises in society but leads a tumultuous life as he seeks to overcome his emotions. Dano would play Pierre. In King Vidor’s 1956 feature adaptation, the roles were played by Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda.
The notoriously expansive novel begins in 1805 Russia and revolves around five aristocratic families set against the backdrop of the reign of Alexander I, the lingering effects of his grandmother Catherine The Great’s rule and the events surrounding Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Executive producers on the mini are BBC Cymru Wales drama chief Faith Penhale, BBC Wales’ George Ormond, Davies, Look Out Point’s Simon Vaughn and Harvey Weinstein.
The miniseries is due for air in the UK in 2015 and was a first sign of The Weinstein Co’s ambitions to forge into the European TV arena when it was announced in October. The company subsequently teamed with the BBC and Look Out on upcoming TV movie Stan And Ollie, which is being scripted by Philomena’s Jeff Pope. TWC also acquired U.S. TV and VOD rights for the first three seasons of BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders. Read More »
Jones died February 20 in a train collision on the set of Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider in Georgia. Her death is still under investigation by state authorities. The tragedy sparked a grassroots call for increased safety and accountability on film and TV sets particularly on Facebook, where the Slates for Sarah page collected photo tributes in memory of Jones with slogans like “We Are All Sarah Jones” and “Remember Sarah.”
EXCLUSIVE UPDATE, 10 AM: Here is the short list of actors going up for the other lead roles in Warcraft, the Legendary Pictures/Atlas Entertainment adaptation of the vidgame World Of Warcraft. I’m told that on the short list is Paul Dano, fresh from the weekend openers Prisoners; Travis Fimmel, a revelation as the star of the History Channel series Vikings; Anson Mount, who stars in the AMC series Hell on Wheels; and Star Trek‘s Anton Yelchin. Paula Patton is in advanced negotiations and Colin Farrell has been offered one of the leads.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, SUNDAY PM: Legendary Pictures and Atlas Entertainment are casting up Warcraft, the movie adaptation of the hit Blizzard video game World Of Warcraft that Duncan Jones will direct. I’m told that Paula Patton is negotiating for a lead role and that another lead has been offered to Colin Farrell. I’m not sure that Farrell is going to make a deal — sources said it’s 50/50 — and Jones is testing other actors for the major roles. Production will begin in January and Charles Leavitt wrote the script.
The role-playing game takes place in a medieval-like setting where players control avatars that take on gryphons, dragons, zombies, werewolves and elves. Time travel and alien worlds also are part of the mix. The project is one of Legendary’s biggest and was supposed to be made at Warner Bros. Since Thomas Tull’s financing/production company moved over to Universal Pictures, I expect the film to be located there as well. Read More »
LOS ANGELES, CA, January 17, 2013 – Bill Pohlad, Academy Award® nominated producer, is set to direct Love & Mercy with Paul Dano (Looper, Ruby Sparks, There Will Be Blood) starring as legendary musician Brian Wilson in his early years. Pohlad is also casting an actor to play Brian Wilson later in his life.
Academy Award® winning composer Atticus Ross (The Social Network) is in talks to work on the sound design of the film and the soundtrack, which will include the music of Brian Wilson.
Paul Dano had a choice between Prisoners and the Jon Favreau-directed Jersey Boys and opted for the former, a kidnapping thriller that stars Hugh Jackman, Melissa Leo and Jake Gyllenhaal. I’m told the timing was better to do Prisoners, which Denis Villeneuve (Incendies) is directing from a script by Aaron Guzikowski (Contraband); production is set to get under way early next year. The story centers on a small-town carpenter (Jackman) whose young daughter and her best friend are kidnapped. After the cops fail to find them, Keller takes the law into his own hands but runs up against a hot-shot detective (Gyllenhaal) assigned to the case. Alcon Entertainment is producing and Warner Bros plans to release next fall through its output deal with Alcon. Dano, who currently appears in Looper and just wrapped Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, is repped by WME.
EXCLUSIVE: That didn’t take long. Just a day after Warren Zavala left CAA to go to WME, he has brought with him Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Paul Dano, Big Bang Theory‘s Johnny Galecki, Amber Heard and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Zavala, who spent the last three years at CAA and the previous seven at Gersh, has numerous other clients that are still in play. They include Lizzy Caplan, Anna Faris, Shiloh Fernandez, Kelli Garner, Jackie Earle Haley, Rian Johnson, Felicity Jones and Adam Scott. This is the second recent agent who moved from CAA to WME and brought over clients. Almost all of Dan Aloni’s clients joined him when he moved including Chris Nolan, David Dobkin, Mike Myers, Jay Roach, David Goyer, Tom Shadyac, Michel Gondry, Raja Gosnell, Mandeville Films, Jonathan Mostow, Dean Parisot, Neal Moritz, Andy Fleming and David and Ian Purchase.
EXCLUSIVE: Paul Dano has joined the cast of Twelve Years A Slave, the Steve McQueen-directed adaptation of Solomon Northup’s novel about a free black man who, promised a job playing violin in the circus, is drugged and dragged to Louisiana and sold into slavery. Dano will play one of the slave owners who brutalize him. Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt also star for New Regency.
Dano stars in and is executive producer of Ruby Sparks, the Fox Searchlight film that was directed by Little Miss Sunshine’s Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, with script by Zoe Kazan. That film opens July 25, and he follows with Looper and For Ellen. He’s repped by CAA and Anonymous Content.
Little Miss Sunshine co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have delivered an unusual rom-com written by Zoe Kazan who also stars as the title character in Ruby Sparks. A character in novels by struggling writer Calvin, played by Paul Dano, suddenly materializes in the flesh. Complications ensue. Cast includes Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Elliott Gould, Chris Messina and Deborah Ann Woll. The Fox Searchlight release opens July 25.
The Berlin Film Festival has announced titles for its Forum program next month including 26 world premieres and 8 international premieres. Among the group is the latest from La Zona director Rodrigo Plá, the Melissa Leo-starrer Francine and So Yong Kim’s For Ellen with Paul Dano. According to the festival, the sidebar will be marked by films showcasing differing life plans, generational conflicts and the ambivalence of so-called progress. The main program list follows:
Al Juma Al Akheira (The Last Friday)
By Yahya Alabdallah, Jordan/United Arab Emirates
Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank (The Woman in the Septic Tank)
By Marlon N. Rivera, The Philippines
By Axel Petersén, Sweden
Bagrut Lochamim (Soldier/Citizen)
By Silvina Landsmann, Israel
By Denis Côté, Canada/France
Beziehungsweisen (Negotiating Love)
By Calle Overweg, Germany
La Demora (The Wait)
By Rodrigo Plá, Uruguay/Mexico/France
World Premiere Read More »
Writer-director Paul Weitz (About a Boy) adapted Nick Flynn’s memoir Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, about a young man (Paul Dano) whose longtime missing-in-action father (Robert De Niro) turns up at the homeless shelter where the son works. Focus Features plans a spring 2012 release.
When I met with Fox Searchlight presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley at the Cannes Film Festival, it seemed clear that they were not going to take part in one of the most aggressive acquisitions market that Cannes has seen in years. But not only did they walk away with the Palme d’Or prestige badge that will help Terrence Malick’s visionary The Tree of Life find its way when Searchlight releases it in theaters beginning Friday, they also greenlit the first film by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since Little Miss Sunshine. The new film, He Loves Me, is a reunion. Besides being back in the Searchlight fold, they’ve set as star Paul Dano, whose career was launched by Sunshine. Dano will be paired alongside his girlfriend, Zoe Kazan, who wrote the script. The film also reunites Dayton and Faris with Sunshine producers Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa. Jeff Bridges is being courted to play another role. After Little Miss Sunshine won two Oscars and was a Best Picture nominee, Dayton and Faris were courted like crazy by studios and became attached to a number of projects that didn’t pan. It has been five years since the release of that film, but they start production in July. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: A frenzied Saturday auction on the Croisette has ended with FilmDistrict in final negotiations for U.S. distribution rights to Looper, the Rian Johnson-directed science fiction film that stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Bruce Willis. There were at least six bidders spanning major studios and independents, and it sounds like some serious upfront money was paid. But the intriguing part is that the deal orchestrated between CAA and FilmDistrict’s Peter Schlessel will likely end in FilmDistrict using an option with Sony Pictures, which would release and market the film through the TriStar label. That replicates the distribution structure of District 9, which Schlessel acquired while he was at Sony. The picture has a similarly brainy construct and is also reminiscent of the first Terminator.
Johnson wrote the script, about a contract killer who works for the mob of the future, and who kills victims that are sent back in time 30 years, so there is no trace of the crime in the future. It’s a great gig, until the killer (Gordon-Levitt) recognizes that one of his targets (Willis) is a futuristic version of himself. Piper Perabo, Paul Dano and Jeff Daniels also star. The film was financed by Endgame’s James Stern, who produced with Johnson’s partner Ram Bergman.
CAA still has to paper the deal, but that likely gives Sony and Amy Pascal its second release schedule addition in the last 24 hours. As Deadline revealed early Saturday, the studio acquired the David Frankel-directed Great Hope Springs with Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell starring. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Management/production company Anonymous Content is about to make a major play in the talent game. I’m hearing that Doug Wald is leaving his partnership at Raw Talent, Sandra Chang is leaving as partner at Industry Entertainment, and Tony Lipp is leaving CAA. The trio will lead Anonymous Content’s talent division and create a major infusion of acting clients. It is all taking shape today.
Lipp announced internally on Tuesday that he would leave CAA to be a manager. Wald and Chang dropped the bombshells this morning at their respective management companies. Anonymous has a modest talent business that included four managers and clients like Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright, Katie Cassidy, Omar Epps and Adrianne Palicki (just cast as Wonder Woman). The newcomers will greatly expand that list, and a lot of it is emerging talent. Among the actors already set to join: Sam Worthington, Paul Dano, Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Anna Faris, Max Minghella, Jack Quaid, Patrick Wilson, Justin Chambers, Jessica Walter, Jaime King, Matt Bomer, John Cleese, Blythe Danner, Jonathan Groff, Mamie Gummer, Nathan Lane, Simon Russell Beale and Stanley Tucci. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Robert De Niro is set to star in the Jessy Terrero-directed Freelancers, and Forest Whitaker is in talks to join him and Curtis Jackson in the cop drama. The film begins production April 18 in New Orleans. Jackson plays the son of a slain NYPD officer who, with his two best friends, joins the Police Academy. After graduating, he’s taken under the wing of his father’s former partner Captain Vic Sarcone (De Niro) in the ranks of Sarcone’s Street Vice Crime Task Force and he becomes part of Scarcone’s rogue task force. Philippe Casseus wrote the script.
The film’s produced by Randall Emmett, Jackson, and George Furla. Rick Jackson, Jeff Rice, Fred Malmberg and Daniel Wagner are exec producers. De Niro has been starring in Another Bullshit Night in Suck City alongside Julianne Moore and Paul Dano for director Paul Weitz. He’s repped by CAA.
Julianne Moore will play a small role in Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, joining Robert De Niro, Paul Dano and Olivia Thirlby in the Nick Flynn memoir that has been adapted and will be directed by Paul Weitz for Focus Features. Focus distributed The Kids Are All Right, the Best Picture nominee that Moore starred in.
Olivia Thirlby has been set to star with Robert De Niro and Paul Dano in Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, the Nick Flynn memoir that has been adapted and will be directed by Paul Weitz for Focus Features. Expect a title change. The film is about an unconventional relationship that exists between a father and son while the latter (Dano) is employed as a caseworker at a Boston homeless shelter. Thirlby will play Denise, the love interest who helps get him the job at the shelter. Corduroy Films and Depth of Field will produce. Thirlby just wrapped Judge Dredd and The Darkest Hour, the latter of which will be released in August. She’s repped by Management 360 and 3 Arts.
The hot role for young actors right now is the lead in The Bourne Identity spinoff that will start production this fall with Tony Gilroy directing his script for Universal. Here are the names I’ve heard have met with Gilroy or are otherwise in the mix: Joel Edgerton, Josh Hartnett, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Paul Dano, Michael Pitt, Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Luke Evans, Alex Pettyfer, Taylor Kitsch, Benjamin Walker. Gilroy will pare the list quickly. Several of the actors might have availability issues. Stay tuned.