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Paul Greengrass, Scott Rudin Re-Team For Al Qaeda Thriller ‘Agent Storm’

Mike Fleming

Paul Greengrass, Scott Rudin Re-Team For Al Qaeda Thriller ‘Agent Storm’Sony Pictures has acquired the hot-button book Agent Storm: My Life Inside Al Qaeda, and it will reunite Best Picture nominees Paul Greengrass and Scott Rudin, who last made Captain Phillips together. Greengrass will develop to direct. The book, by Morten Storm, Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, hits U.S stores in September.

Related: Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass

stormThe tale follows a former Islamic radical (Storm) as he became a double agent for the CIA and British and Danish intelligence. Greengrass and Rudin also are teamed on Memphis, the superb story of Martin Luther King’s final march, his murder, and the manhunt waged by the federal agents who dogged Dr. King’s every step on behalf of J. Edger Hoover. CAA reps Greengrass.

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UPDATE: Paul Greengrass To Brits: Use UK Tax Break Windfalls To Strengthen Unions

By | Wednesday March 19, 2014 @ 10:25am PDT

UPDATE, 10:25 AM: BAFTA has made the audio of Paul Greengrass‘ David Lean Lecture available. Check it out:

PREVIOUS, MONDAY PM: Paul Greengrass tonight greengrassdelivered BAFTA’s David Lean Lecture — the London-based org’s annual talk for the world’s leading filmmakers — and issued stark warnings for the health of the UK’s directing industry. The British filmmaking scene was in good shape, he said, thanks to the area’s “simple and transparent tax breaks” which encourage Hollywood studios to invest. But he warned the industry must leverage the studios’ buying power to encourage some of that Hollywood money back into UK content.

To a full house that included British talent like Richard Curtis, Miranda Richardson and Mat Whitecross, Greengrass offered a wide-ranging talk that covered his first steps into filmmaking and his vision of the future of the business. He heaped praise on Hollywood, and said “a lot of baloney” was talked about bafta1__130805162028the U.S. industry’s priorities. Hollywood is not a place run entirely by cynical hacks, he said. “It’s full of smart and committed people, who understand filmmakers… And it also has guilds and trade unions with power and voice. That’s why the studios are looking for places that don’t, and that’s why they come [to the UK].”

But he warned that UK directors have a hard time making follow-up features at home after their debuts, and that the situation in British TV is especially dire. He claimed directors earn less in residuals for helming the likes of Doctor Who and Downton Abbey than stunt performers.

Related: Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass On Oscar Contender ‘Captain Phillips’, MLK, And Why He’ll Never Make Another Bourne Film

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Global Showbiz Briefs: FremantleMedia Buys Global Format Rights To ‘Fittest Family’; Endemol Picks Up International On ‘Parts Unknown’, ‘Inside Man’

FremantleMedia Buys Global Format Rights To ‘Fittest Family’
Ireland's Fittest FamiliesFremantleMedia has secured the global format rights to Animo TV/Kite Entertainment’s Fittest Family. Currently airing on Irish pubcaster RTÉ One as Ireland’s Fittest Family, the six-part series features 12 uber-fit and sports-mad families compete for the title of the nation’s fittest family and a big cash prize. Each episode sees features four sporting legends assigned to coach the families and push them to their fitness max. The families compete against one another as they get put through a set of extreme challenges with only the fittest surviving. FremantleMedia will launch Fittest Family at MIPTV in April.

Endemol Buys International Rights To ‘Parts Unknown’, ‘Inside Man’
Morgan SpurlockAnthony BourdainEndemol said Monday that it has acquired TV distribution rights outside the U.S. to CNN’s factual series Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown and Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man. Parts Unknown follows host chef, author and TV host Bourdain as he travels to uncover little-known areas of the world and celebrate diverse cultures by exploring food and dining rituals. Inside Man, hosted by Oscar-winning documentarian Spurlock, provides an intimate look into diverse sectors of American life and offers a deep-dive into pressing issues facing the U.S. including migrant farm workers, the elder care industry, union workers, gun owners, education, bankruptcy and the drought. Read More »

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On Eve Of MLK Day, Will Adultery Keep Epic Dr. King Movie Off The Big Screen?

Mike Fleming

mlkOliver Stone has run smack into the same wall on a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr biopic that director Paul Greengrass hit when Universal kicked his MLK project Memphis to the curb two years back. Stone took to his Twitter account today to say that DreamWorks and Warner Bros rejected his script rewrite and that he was done with the movie that also had Jamie Foxx attached. It came down to the studios — which are in lockstep with the MLK estate that brought them the right to use his famous copyrighted speeches — rejecting Stone’s characterization of long-running rumors that King Jr. engaged in extramarital affairs. “I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it. They suffocate the man & the truth,” Stone tweeted. He also added a message directly to MLK: ‘I wish you could see the film I would’ve made. I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington.”

Related: Opposition To Martin Luther King Films Reveals Hard Truths About Biopic Biz

ostoneThis is almost a carbon copy of what happened two years ago with Memphis, the superb script that Captain Phillips helmer Greengrass wrote and set at Universal with producer Scott Rudin. The project stopped in its tracks after a version of the script found its way to the King family, and Ambassador Andrew Young, who was one of Dr. King’s closest confidants during the turbulent Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. While Universal was never really clear on why it halted the movie, blaming scheduling, it is clear that a film disowned by MLK’s family might hurt its audience appeal. This is an incredibly difficult and emotional situation because it depicts flaws in a man whose message of tolerance and equality and nonviolence still means so much to so many and has made him one of the most galvanizing figures of the 20th Century. Read More »

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Film Editors Tap Paul Greengrass For Golden Eddie Filmmaker Of The Year

By | Wednesday January 15, 2014 @ 2:48pm PST

Related: ACE Eddie Award Nominations

"Captain Phillips" - Los Angeles Premiere Universal City, CA, January 15, 2014 – Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Paul Greengrass has been selected by the Board of Directors of the American Cinema Editors (ACE) to be honored with the organization’s prestigious ACE Golden Eddie Filmmaker of the Year Award. The award will be presented at the 64th Annual ACE Eddie Awards ceremony on Friday, February 7, 2014 in the International Ballroom of the Beverly Hilton Hotel, it was announced today by the ACE Board of Directors.

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In Michael De Luca’s First Deal, Sony Pictures Acquires David Ignatius Novel ‘The Director’ For Paul Greengrass And Scott Rudin

By | Wednesday January 15, 2014 @ 2:20pm PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Well, looks like former New Line production president Michael De Luca isn’t taking long to make that transition to the executive suites. I’m told that his first deal at Sony Pictures as production president is The Director, a novel by David Ignatius that reteams De Luca with his Captain Phillips producer Scott Rudin and director Paul Greengrass. De Luca, Rudin and Dana Brunetti produced Captain Phillips.

Related: Goal For New Sony Pictures Structure With Michael De Luca: Better-Quality Slates

greengrassGreengrass will adapt the novel — will be published by W.W. Norton in June — and direct the film. This comes as Captain Phillips became a global hit and got four Golden Globe nominations. In The Director, Graham Weber has been director of the CIA for less than a week when a Swiss kid in a dirty T-shirt walks into the American consulate in Hamburg and says the agency has been hacked, and he has a list of agents’ names to prove it. This is the moment a CIA director most dreads.

Related: OSCARS: Producers Michael De Luca & Dana Brunetti On The Lure Of ‘Captain Phillips’

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No Shockers Among DGA Awards Film Nominees: Cuaron, Greengrass, McQueen, Russell, Scorsese

Pete Hammond

Today’s eagerly awaited DGA nominations are out and there are no surprises in the bunch. Gravity’s martin scorseseAlfonso Cuaron, Captain Phillips’  Paul Greengrass, 12 Years A Slave’s Steve McQueen, American Hustle’s David O. Russell and The Wolf Of Wall Street‘s Martin Scorsese were all odds-on favorites to make the five — and they did. Some might have questioned Scorsese’s chances since the film has become a lightning rod for controversy and was the last major release of the year, meaning the 15,000-member guild voters would have to see it in time to cast their ballot. But c’mon, he’s Martin Scorsese. There would be no denying this achievement among his fellow directors. He has received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the guild and 10 other nominations with 3 wins in 3 different categories (The Departed in film, Boardwalk Empire in TV and George Harrison: Living In The Material World in documentary). He’s a god to this guild. Greengrass, McQueen and Cuaron are all first-timers here, while Russell was nominated for 2010′s The Fighter. However, Russell was passed over for a nomination last year for Silver Linings Playbook but  went on to receive an Oscar nod for that film anyway.

BenAffleck_DirectorsGuildAward_GettyImagesGenerally there is a strong correlation between the DGA and the Oscars. Only seven times has the winner of the DGA Award not gone on to win the Oscar . But the most recent time, last year, was also among the most infamous: Ben Affleck still went on to win the DGA Best Director award for Argo even after the Academy’s much smaller — and quirkier — Directors Branch threw a monkey wrench into the proceedings and snubbed Affleck in its nominations. Life Of Pi’s Ang Lee went on to win the Oscar after losing to Affleck at the DGA, while Argo took Best Picture. In addition to Lee the only agreement the Academy’s Directors Branch had with the DGA was Steven Spielberg’s nomination for Lincoln. It was one of the worst years ever since the DGA Awards were founded in 1948  in terms of a match-up between the guild’s list and Oscar (which also nominated Behn Zeitlin of Beasts Of The Southern Wild and Amour’s Michael Haneke in addition to Russell). I don’t expect the same thing to happen this year.  This is a very strong lineup that includes all the likely frontrunners to grab an Academy Directorial nod as well. But as we all learned last year Oscar often has surprises up its sleeve. We’ll see. Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up on Deadline’s top film stories you missed this week:

peter o'toole dead‘Lawrence Of Arabia’s Peter O’Toole Dead At 81 – 8-Time Oscar Nominee Retired Last Year
By Anita Busch and Jen Yamato – Oscar-nominated actor Peter O’Toole died yesterday, his agent confirmed Sunday. He was 81. Often called the Hamlet of his generation, his death comes only about a year after retiring from a 54-year career in both stage and film highlighted by his turn as T.E. Lawrence in David Lean’s 1962 epic Lawrence of Arabia, which won seven Oscars including Best Picture.

Peter O’Toole’s Long And Frustrating Half-Century Dance With Oscar: “Always A Bridesmaid, Never A Bride”
By Pete Hammond – There is no doubt Peter O’Toole was one of the greatest actors the movies have ever seen. Since coming into major international stardom with his dazzling turn in Lawrence Of Arabia, O’Toole compiled a group of brilliant performances over the past half century that are second to none. But he also holds another distinction.

BOX OFFICE: Weather Impacts BO But Attendance Up Overall Year to Date, ‘The Hobbit’ Lighter But Strong, ‘Frozen’ Steals ‘Madea’s Christmas’ As ‘American Hustle’ Kicks It On Six Screens
By Anita Busch – The severe weather across the nation – winter storms across 23 states and 100 million people – also impacted the nation’s box office this weekend. It seems to have affected the older pictures most. Read More »

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Fleming Q&As Paul Greengrass On Oscar Contender ‘Captain Phillips’, MLK, And Why He’ll Never Make Another Bourne Film

Mike Fleming

Paul Greengrass Interview Captain PhillipsEXCLUSIVE: 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.

piratDEADLINE: 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?
piraGREENGRASS: 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. Read More »

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2013 British Independent Film Awards: ‘Metro Manila’ Best Film; Sean Ellis Best Director; Lindsay Duncan Best Actress; James McAvoy Best Actor; More

UPDATED: 3:05 PM: BIFA logoThe UK’s Foreign Language Oscar entry, Metro Manila, had the biggest haul at tonight’s British Independent Film Awards, nabbing three prizes including Best Film, and Director for Sean Ellis. The Tagalog-language, Philippines-set drama centers on a poor farmer who moves his family to the capital city in search of a better life, only to unwittingly become mixed up with a criminal underworld after he takes a job as an armored transport driver. metro-manila__130516002835In May, Deadline reported that Fox International Productions had acquired remake rights to the Sundance Audience Award winner. Also tonight, James McAvoy was named Best Actor for Jon S. Baird’s Filth, a crime comedy based on the novel by Irvine Welsh. Lindsay Duncan was Best Actress for Roger Michell’s Le Week-End and Imogen Poots took the Best Supporting Actress prize for The Look Of Love. Although it had eight nominations coming into the evening, David Mackenzie’s prison drama Starred Up went home with only one when Ben Mendelsohn scooped the Best Supporting Actor trophy.

The BIFAs were held tonight at London’s Old Billingsgate Market where the ceremony is somewhat akin to the Golden Globes in that a dinner precedes the awards (it’s sponsored by champagne house Moët & Chandon). Host James Nesbitt early on commented the BIFAs are “’better than BAFTA, … Read More »

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Global Showbiz Briefs: Susanne Bier’s ‘A Second Chance’ Adds Three; Fox Sports 2 Coming To Italy; More

Three Added To Cast Of Susanne Bier’s ‘A Second Chance’
Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Maria Bonnevie and Ulrich Thomsen have joined the cast of Susanne Bier’s A Second Chance. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau stars in the film, which focuses on how far decent human beings are willing to go when tragedy blurs the line between the just and unjust. Shooting is underway in Denmark. Lie Kaas stars in the current No. 1 film at the Danish box office, The Keeper Of Lost Causes. He’s next up in Child 44. Thomsen, from Cinemax’s Banshee, has previously worked with Bier in Brothers and A Better World. Swedish-Norwegian actress Maria Bonnevie’s recently starred in Belle Du Seigneur with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Marianne Faithful. TrustNordisk kicked off international sales on the Danish-language A Second Chance during the AFM. Read More »

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up with the best of Deadline’s Top Film stories from this week:

SHOCKER! Charlie Hunnam Exits Christian Grey Role In ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’
By Mike Fleming Jr. – Well, here’s a surprise. Universal is going to have to look harder to find its S&M minded zillionaire Christian Grey because Sons Of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam has exited the role he only just got.

Angelina Jolie Sets Japanese Singer Miyavi As Brutal WWII POW Camp Guard ‘The Bird’ In ‘Unbroken’
By Mike Fleming Jr. - EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and director Angelina Jolie have found their villain for the Lou Zamperini tale Unbroken.

Universal Pays 7-Figure Deal For Aaron Berg ‘Section 6′ Spec
By Mike Fleming Jr. – EXCLUSIVE: It’s not only an exceptional deal for a new writer; I’m hard pressed to come up with the last clean seven-figure deal for a script with no attachments. Four studios bid on the project… Read More »

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A Glimpse Into Pure Artistic Passion, Courtesy Of Paul Greengrass And ‘United 93′

By | Friday October 11, 2013 @ 2:59pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures today releases Paul Greengrass‘s Captain Phillips. It’s a reminder why, if you follow auteurs like I do, you can’t beat this time of year. Just last week, I was as astonished by Alfonso Cuaron’s 3D marvel Gravity, especially after covering its twists and turns when Angelina Jolie dropped out and Universal let it go; when no studio would touch it until Warner Bros’ Jeff Robinov took a shot; and even then, casting was difficult and none of the studios co-financing partners wanted to share the risk on a film with an $85 million budget and two actors floating in space. It seemed like only Cuaron believed in this film, and good for him that it’s minting money.

There’s nothing like the resolve of an auteur-level filmmaker. I’ve felt it on Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi, Christopher Nolan’s Inception, Michael Mann’s Heat, Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings, Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart, Alan J. Pakula’s All The President’s Men, Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential and Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets and Taxi Driver. That brings me to Greengrass, who left me feeling the same way with Bloody Sunday.

I’ve told my readers that every year I read his pitch for United 93, the 2007 film about the heroism of passengers who lost their lives wresting control of a plane and crashing it in Pennsylvania before terrorists could slam it into the White House or the Capitol Building on September 11, 2001. I read it every year because to me, it is a compelling example of pure artistic passion, burning desire and urgency. Readers asked me to publish the United 93 pitch last time I mentioned it, and so I asked Greengrass if I could. Not only did he give Deadline permission, he graciously set the stage and explained why this document sprang from him like a torrent. If you stay with it, what you’ll get here is a glimpse into the creative process of a writer/director who plays the game on the highest level, and who raised his game here. I still can’t believe United 93 got made by a major studio with no stars and a tragic ending everyone knew was coming. But as you will see, Greengrass was not to be denied.

“I remember it vividly,” Greengrass told me, about the day he wrote the United 93 pitch. “I wrote it in the aftermath of 7/7, what we call the bombing of four tube subway trains in London. I had wanted to make [United 93] for awhile, but I hadn’t gotten the courage to do it. Now, 7/7 it wasn’t as large a loss of life as 9/11, but at the time it looked like it could be of catastrophic proportions. I was in my office and somebody came over and said, you need to put on the television. They first say there was a bomb in the subway, then it’s two, three and four, or three subways and a bus. You get the little ones off to school, but my son, who was a teenager at the time, was out and about. I remember speaking to his mom. Like so many people did that day, you have that terror for an hour or two. He couldn’t have been on one of those, could he? Turns out he’d gone to a friend’s house, and he was fine. But for a couple of hours…I remember later that day saying, I’m going to write this thing. What is going on in our world is so intense and so frightening and so throwing the axis of our world off, that I must explore it. I must find a way of talking about it. I’ve got to go to the heart of it, where it began, and what I’ve got to do is say, what does it mean? I’m not interested in what people tell me it means, I’m not interested in what politicians tell me it means, I’m not interested in what we fear it means. As best we can, if we can make a film and start at the beginning, the struggles for the control of an airplane. That was the heart of it. What does that mean for our world? And next day, I wrote that document. That was July, and we sent it out and I was shooting that film by the end of the year.”

Flight 93 Treatment

What does it mean?

That’s the question we ask ourselves over and over again. Does it mean war without end? The onset of a new fascism. A shadow over all our lives.

Or is it instead a chance to renew our vows or patriotism? Of heroism. A chance to write a burnished page in history.

Perhaps it’s a wake up call. An event so calamitous that it forces us to acknowledge the fire raging outside. Makes us engage with the world. Drain the swamp.

Or was it just a chance event. Something terrible and unrepeatable that lacks meaning beyond itself. We mourn, remember the victims, but draw no lasting conclusions.

I doubt it.

I think we all know that somehow, in some way, it changed things in our lifetime forever.

*                                 *                                     *

There’s lots of ways to find meaning in the events of 9/11, especially as we move towards next year’s fifth anniversary.

Television can convey events as they happen. A reporter can write history’s rough first draft. Historians can widen the time frame and give us context. Politicians can seek to ride the waves of emotion. The best of them can lead us too. Religious leaders divine spiritual meanings and give us comfort. There are many ways…

Well I make films and I believe they have a small part to play, too. And I also believe that sometimes, if you look clearly and unflinchingly at a single event, you can find in its shape something precious, something much larger than the event itself…the DNA of our times.

Hence a film about Flight 93.

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As Oliver Stone And Jamie Foxx Mobilize DreamWorks MLK Pic, Paul Greengrass, Isn’t It High Time For ‘Memphis’?

By | Thursday October 10, 2013 @ 4:52pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Reports are surfacing that DreamWorks is ready to move forward with the authorized version of Martin Luther King‘s life story, the one that MLK’s family is behind and which has the rights to use his copyrighted speeches. They have Jamie Foxx and director Oliver Stone poised for an Any Given Sunday re-team on the project, which they want to do with Warner Bros. All I can think of as director Paul Greengrass and producer Scott Rudin prepare for tomorrow’s opening of Captain Phillips is, Paul, get busy on your MLK film Memphis, because your Oscar-caliber script is just way too good to get relegated to the scrap heap.

I’ve been writing for years about Memphis, Greengrass‘ script about a great man’s final days. It started out at Universal, which put it in turnaround right around the time that the director’s relationship with the studio soured over his unwillingness to do a fourth The Bourne Identity and after he clashed with the studio over the high-budget misfire Green Zone. It became a hot potato project then, when the King family and the activist’s close confidante, Ambassador Andrew Young, objected to it. Among their objections: King is depicted sharing a bed with a woman who was not his wife. The key has always been about opening the film on MLK weekend, and it stalled that first time because they couldn’t set it up again and make it fast enough. They tried again last year, with Veritas in talks to finance with Wild Bunch, but Greengrass instead took on Captain Phillips, the Sony drama about the Somali pirate heist that stars Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips. Rudin joined his Social Network cohorts Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti to deliver a tense, excellent drama.

Related: Opposition To MLK Films Reveals Hard Truths About Biopic Biz

The Memphis script depicts King’s final days as he struggled to organize a protest march on behalf of striking black municipal sanitation workers in Memphis, TN, where he was slain. That storyline is juxtaposed with an intense manhunt for King’s assassin James Earl Ray, involving some of the federal authorities who, at Hoover’s direction, had dogged King’s every step with wiretaps and whispering campaigns before the civil rights leader’s death. The dual narrative is explosive and I don’t know what Kario Salem has written for DreamWorks, but the word biopic makes you worry that it will be reverential and looong. Memphis was a snapshot on parallel with Greengrass’s Bloody Sunday. It is a powerful testament to King’s struggle and his sacrifice, and even if he was portrayed as an imperfect human being, it did not define him. Let’s face it, all those ’60s icons including the Kennedys were not monogamous. Read More »

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Paul Greengrass Exits ‘Chicago 7′

By | Tuesday September 17, 2013 @ 1:22pm PDT

Paul Greengrass has exited the Aaron Sorkin-scripted Chicago 7. This isn’t a shock, but it was roundly denied when we called last week. Greengrass has other projects that include Memphis, the Greengrass-scripted drama about Martin Luther King Jr.’s last days and the manhunt to find his killer. While there are several MLK films percolating, this one has a script that is Oscar-caliber. That picture was originally shelved after Universal Pictures dropped out, and Greengrass instead directed Captain Phillips, the Sony drama that stars Tom Hanks and will open October 11.

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Tom Hanks-Starrer ‘Captain Phillips’ Gets Opening-Night Berth At NY Film Festival

By | Monday July 29, 2013 @ 9:18am PDT
Mike Fleming

The New York Film Festival has begun unveiling films for its 2013 program, and it begins with Captain Phillips, the Sony Pictures film that Paul Greengrass directed and Tom Hanks starred in as the captain who put himself in the hands of Somali pirates instead of his crew after the cargo ship he captained was hijacked in 2009. He was rescued in a dangerous mission by a Navy SEAL team. It seemed a good candidate to grace Gotham’s prestigious festival as the opening-night film. One of the film’s producers, Scott Rudin, is a New Yorker who brought The Social Network to the festival. And the film was conspicuously absent from the Toronto and Venice lineups. Here is the official word:

New York, NY, July 29, 2013 – The Film Society of LincoOoln Center announced today that Paul Greengrass’s CAPTAIN PHILLIPS will make its World Premiere as the Opening Night Gala presentation for the upcoming 51st New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13). Starring two-time Academy Award® winner and 2009 Film Society Chaplin Award honoree Tom Hanks in the title role, the film is Academy Award®-nominated director Paul Greengrass’s multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates.

NYFF’s Director of Programming and Selection Committee Chair, Kent Jones said, “CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is a riveting experience. At this point in his working life, Paul Greengrass has become a master of immersive reality-based narratives set along geopolitical fault lines – in this case, the 2009 seizure of the Maersk Alabama cargo ship by four Somali pirates. I’m excited that this tough, tense, real-life thriller, capped by the remarkable performances of Tom Hanks and four brilliant first-time Somali actors (Barkhad Abdi, Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdirahman and Mahat M. Ali), is opening the 51st edition of the festival.”

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UPDATE: Scott Rudin To Produce, Paul Greengrass To Direct Aaron Sorkin’s ‘Chicago 7′ Screenplay

By | Wednesday July 24, 2013 @ 2:19pm PDT

UPDATE: I just started vacation but learned that Scott Rudin will produce Chicago 7.

PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE, TUESDAY 2:40 PM: I’ve learned that DreamWorks is finally reviving a once hot project that has barely been touched since its director Steven Spielberg suspended it back in 2008. Conventional wisdom had it that this would be Spielberg’s next Oscar pic. Since then, “every two months it’s been revisited. The title would come up in conversation at production meetings. But it’s just been hanging,” a source tells me. No longer. I’ve learned the studio is moving forward with Paul Greengrass in final talks to direct Aaron Sorkin‘s script The Trial Of The Chicago 7. It’s based on the infamous 1969 federal conspiracy trial arising out of the protesters vs police violent rioting at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that transfixed the nation because of its counter-culture and leftist mayhem intended to undermine the U.S. government.

The modestly budgeted $20M-$30M film will start production probably in January. DreamWorks is funding all development with its financial partners, and Disney will distribute. No casting is in discussion yet because the deal isn’t done for Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Green Zone). His upcoming Captain Phillips biopic starring Tom Hanks about a sea hijacking by Somali pirates has great advance buzz at Sony. Plus, as a former British journalist and filmmaker attracted to true stories, Greengrass sounds like the right director for Chicago 7 and was considered to helm it back in August 2008. Read More »

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Longtime CAA Agent Robert Bookman Moving To Paradigm

By | Friday March 8, 2013 @ 10:37am PST
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Paradigm has just confirmed Deadline’s scoop about Robert Bookman joining the agency from CAA. They’ve issued a release (below original story) and the internal memo that Sam Gores sent to his staff.

EXCLUSIVE: There has been a lot of agents moving around lately, but get ready for a shocker: longtime CAA agent Robert Bookman has just given notice that he’s joining Sam Gores’s Paradigm. Bookman, who becomes a senior agent in Paradigm’s Motion Picture and Television departments starting Monday, has been a stalwart agent for CAA for more than 20 years, brokering some of the biggest buck book to movie deals ever as the co-agent for such authors as Michael Crichton and Thomas Harris. Bookie, as he is known around Hollywood, is a classy guy with good taste whose potential exit has been in the wind before. When he was not made partner, it had been rumored that he might leave CAA to partner in a production company with his longtime client, writer/director Paul Greengrass. Read More »

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Martin Luther King Film ‘Memphis’ Coming Back Around For Paul Greengrass And Scott Rudin

By | Friday November 16, 2012 @ 3:39pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: Memphis, Paul Greengrass‘ film about the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King, is coming back around. Now, I hear that steps are underway to make Memphis Greengrass’ next directorial outing. I’ve heard that Veritas is in talks to finance with Wild Bunch. You might recall the picture was shelved after Universal Pictures dropped out, and Greengrass and producer Scott Rudin shelved it because it became too difficult to set up new financing and shoot the film so that it could be released during the MLK weekend holiday. Greengrass and Rudin moved on to make Captain Phillips, the Sony drama about the Somali pirate heist that stars Tom Hanks as Captain Richard Phillips.

Related: Opposition To MLK Films Reveals Hard Truths About Biopic Biz

The script depicts Dr. King’s final days as he struggled to organize a protest march on behalf of striking black municipal sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was slain. That storyline is juxtaposed with an intense manhunt for King’s assassin James Earl Ray, involving some of the federal authorities who, at Hoover’s direction, had dogged King’s every step with wiretaps and whispering campaigns before the civil rights leader’s death. Read More »

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