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AFI Fest: ‘Lone Survivor’s Mark Wahlberg Launches Oscar Bid With Emotional Salvo

By | Wednesday November 13, 2013 @ 11:38am PST

A visibly pensive Mark Wahlberg threw his hat into the Best Actor race Tuesday night at AFI Fest, where the star of Peter Berg’s intense military drama Lone Survivor took the stage reluctant to go through the usual actorly rigamarole. Wahlberg plays Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, the only member of SEAL Team 10 to make it home from the failed 2005 Operation Red Wings mission in Afghanistan in which 19 soldiers died. “For us to talk about what we went through up on that mountain is just so fake and so false considering what these guys did and what they went through,” he told moderator/AFI Fest Director Jacqueline Lyanga after the film’s TLC Chinese Theatre premiere where he, Berg, and Luttrell sat for an emotional Q&A. “Seeing the movie again tonight reminded me of what Marcus went through. Having a family and having a wife that I love more than anything, and having four kids I’d do anything to protect — or in my case, provide for — it hit me, the fact that those guys will never see their families again. For actors to sit there and say, ‘Oh, I went to SEAL training’ … I don’t give a fuck what you did. You don’t do what these guys do. For somebody to sit there and say my job is as difficult as somebody in the military – how fucking dare you?”

A more cynical Oscar-watcher might read Wahlberg’s declaration as self-serious awards-season posturing. But the AFI Fest audience — including servicemen, Luttrell’s own team members, family, and friends mixed in with the usual industry crowd — applauded the sentiment. Luttrell’s Texas charm and dashes of levity certainly helped raise the mood. He shared his initial apprehension at any filmmaker Hollywoodizing his 2007 bestseller Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 and recalled how he and Berg first met on the set of the director’s Hancock. Read More »

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Arrested Ex-‘Ray Donovan’ EP Gets Support From Judd Apatow, Mark Gordon, Jon Voight & Peter Berg Before Sentencing

By | Monday November 11, 2013 @ 4:40pm PST

Having copped a guilty plea for his involvement in an illegal gambling group, Bryan Zuriff is now hoping some words of recommendation from some powerful Hollywood friends will encourage a judge to spare him some time behind bars. “Bryan is prepared to take complete responsibility for his wrongdoing and complete whatever sentence you deem appropriate. With that said, I urge you to be lenient. Bryan is first and foremost a family man, dedicated to his wife and children. A harsh punishment will be a punishment, not just for Bryan, but for his entire family as well. They do not deserve that,” wrote Judd Apatow in a September 12, 2013 letter to federal judge Jesse Furman (read it and other letters of support for Zuriff here). “If there is good news here, it is that Bryan has taken the opportunity to face his demons and is coming out of this a better man in so many ways,” said Mark Gordon in a letter to Furman detailing what a good producer Zuriff is. The PGA chief’s company produces Showtime‘s hit Ray Donovan series, which is set to come back for another season next year. Lone Survivor director Peter Berg, Hangover producer Scott Budnick, producer Ann Biderman and, in his own handwriting, Ray Donovan star Jon Voight are among others who … Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Universal’s ‘Lone Survivor’

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 11:18am PST

Here’s a new trailer for Universal‘s Lone Survivor, the real-life story of Marcus Luttrell and his SEAL Team 10 in Afghanistan. Peter Berg‘s passion pic stars Mark Wahlberg and opens December 27 — a stealth move into the heart of awards season — before going wide January 10. Today’s trailer drop comes before the film’s world premiere Tuesday (the day after Veterans Day) at AFI Fest. Check it out:

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The Contenders 2013: Director Peter Berg Talks ‘Lone Survivor’ And The Choice Of The “Least-Horrific Decision” (Video)

By | Thursday November 7, 2013 @ 2:26pm PST
Pete Hammond

Director Peter Berg tells Mike Fleming about his research and the reasons he decided to bring the real life 2005 story of Marcus Luttrell and his Seal Team 10  as they face a  life or death decision in the face of a horrific war in Afghanistan. Berg appeared on behalf of the harrowing war film Lone Survivor starring Mark Wahlberg as part of Universal’s presentation at Saturday’s Deadline THE CONTENDERS sold out event at the new Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The film will open in late December in order to qualify for Oscar consideration before going wide on January 10th. But it is already getting noticed as a stealth late-inning awards contender and will have its World Premiere at AFI Fest next Tuesday.

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PHOTOS: Contenders 2013 Gallery

Deadline’s sold-out award season kick-off The Contenders unspooled Saturday at the Wallis Annenberg Center For The Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. Take a look at our special guest panelists from this year’s crop of Oscar hopefuls from The Weinstein Company, Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate, Focus, CBS Films, Paramount, Fox Searchlight, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Sony Pictures Classics, Walt Disney Pictures, Universal and Dreamworks Animation. Click through for the updated gallery:

Related: Deadline’s ‘The Contenders’ Event To Kick Off Awards Season And New Annenberg Center Today

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NBC Adapting Harlan Coben’s ‘Gone For Good’ With Alexandra Cunningham, Film 44

By | Tuesday October 29, 2013 @ 11:04am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Alexandra Cunningham, who is writing/executive producing NBC’s high-profile Murder, She Wrote reboot starring Octavia Spencer, also is reuniting with Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44 for an NBC drama project through Universal TV, where Cunningham and Film 44 are under deals. The network is developing Gone For Good, an hourlong project based on Harlan Coben’s best-selling thriller. Written by Cunningham, the drama centers on Will Klein, whose endless search for his missing and allegedly murderous brother, Ken, is filled with so many twists and turns it leaves him doubting the actions of everybody he’s ever loved. Cunningham, Coben, Berg and Aubrey executive produce. Desperate Housewives alumna Cunningham wrote and executive produced NBC’s well received adaptation of the British series Prime Suspect, also through Film 44, and last season developed an adaptation of the comic Hench for the network with Berg and Aubrey. WME-repped Film 44 recently inked a deal with HBO for the sports documentary series State of Play.

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HBO Sports Partners With Peter Berg For ‘State Of Play’ Documentary Series

By | Tuesday October 8, 2013 @ 11:00am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: HBO Sports is re-teaming with filmmaker Peter Berg for another documentary series. Following their collaboration on the cinéma vérité series On Freddie Roach, HBO has given the green light to State Of Play, from Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44 and Herzog & Co. Each episode will spotlight a topic or person that has had a great impact on the sports world, opening with a brief overview followed by a 40-minute cinéma vérité documentary and concluding with an in-depth, 20-minute roundtable discussion of the issue with the filmmakers, subjects and guest experts to be moderated by Berg. State Of Play will premiere on December 4 with State of Play: Trophy Kids, an examination of the obsession a growing number of parents have in the scholastic athletic competition of their children. The documentary was produced by Jake Wood, Chris Bell, Leland Anderson and Anthony Melillo. Read More »

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Damon Lindelof’s ‘The Leftovers’ Gets Series Order At HBO

By | Monday September 16, 2013 @ 2:30pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

In his follow-up to Lost, Damon Lindelof has received a 10-episode series pickup by HBO for drama pilot The Leftovers, which was directed by Peter Berg. Co-written by Lindelof and Tom Perrotta based on Perrotta’s book and toplined by Justin Theroux, the project takes place after the Rapture happens, but not quite like it’s supposed to. It is the story of the people who didn’t make the cut — and a world that never will be the same. Warner Bros TV, where Lindelof and his Adventure Corps are under a rich overall deal, is producing in what marks the studio’s first series for HBO. The Leftovers, Lindelof’s first TV project after Lost, had a smooth sailing through development at HBO, where it was originally set up last summer, through pilot to a series order. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Peter Berg’s ‘Lone Survivor’

By | Wednesday July 31, 2013 @ 1:46pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Universal has released an early trailer for Lone Survivor, the Peter Berg-directed adaptation of the memoir by Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell about the harrowing firefight that resulted when a group of commandos out to kill a terrorist leader were ambushed by Taliban forces in 2005. The film stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana. I can remember Berg telling me years ago that he agreed to direct Battleship because Universal pledged to make this passion project of his, which he felt was all courage and heroism; the film was funded by Emmett/Furla Films, and Universal releases the film in an Oscar-qualifying run December 27 before going wide January 10. Here’s the trailer:

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Mark Wahlberg And Peter Berg Sign On To Paramount’s ‘American Desperado’ Adapted By William Monahan For Start Early 2014

By | Thursday June 27, 2013 @ 1:25pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) has done a fresh adaptation of the book American Desperado. Now Mark Wahlberg is attached to star and Peter Berg to direct the film. Paramount Pictures is hoping for a start early next year, “but it’s still too early to tell as Bill’s draft just came in”. WME represents all three talents and was instrumental in the project getting together. Wahlberg and Berg just worked together on the Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor set for a 2014 release by Universal. Latest pic is based on the tell-all with the subtitle My Life — From Mafia Soldier To Cocaine Cowboy To Secret Government Asset by super-criminal Jon Roberts, star of the acclaimed documentary Cocaine Cowboys, and Evan Wright, best known for his bestselling book and HBO series Generation Kill. Their collaboration began with a series of conversations over three years about Roberts’ compelling history as a New York City gangster running guns for the CIA and smuggling tons of cocaine and cash for the Medellín Cartel at the height of America’s War On Drugs during the 1980s. “As Wright’s tape recorder whirred and Roberts unburdened himself of hundreds of jaw-dropping tales, it became clear that perhaps no one in history had broken so many laws with such willful abandon,” Random House said when it was published.

“Roberts, in fact, seemed to be a prodigy of criminality — but one with a remarkable … Read More »

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Universal Moves Mark Wahlberg War Drama ‘Lone Survivor’ Into 2013 Oscar Race

By | Tuesday June 4, 2013 @ 4:02pm PDT
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: Sensing it could have a strong year-end awards season contender, Universal has decided to platform its January 10th wide release of its Afghanistan war drama Lone Survivor with a 12/27 limited (LA/NY) debut. The shift will qualify the film for Oscars and other awards and get critical and audience word-of-mouth out there before the broader previously announced early 2014 release. Having seen the Peter Berg-directed true story in unfinished form, the move makes sense for a film that, despite unrelenting graphic violence that is hard to watch at times, really packs the kind of emotional punch that should play well with awards voters.

Coming off the box office disaster of Battleship, the movie represents a strong return to form for Berg that is more in line with what he did on 2004′s Friday Night Lights than the aforementioned 2012 bloated blockbuster. The film, which stars Mark Wahlberg, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana and Taylor Kitsch (who also finds redemption after facing critical brickbats for both John Carter and Battleship), is a riveting story of four Navy SEALs involved in an ill-fated  covert mission to thwart a high-level Taliban operative when they are ambushed by enemy forces in the Hindu Kush region of Afghanistan. Notwithstanding some of the most intense and realistic battle scenes in recent memory, it goes beyond the average war film in fleshing out real three-dimensional human beings caught up in the moral consequences of war, and in that way is more reminiscent of past Best Picture Oscar winners like Platoon (1986) and Universal’s own The Deer Hunter (1978). One  scene in particular is riveting to watch in which the SEALS, weighing their own chances of survival, collectively must decide if a small group of locals should live or die. Certainly the film presents moral dilemmas that will cause strong debate. It is based on the New York Times bestseller, Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account Of Operation Redwing And The Lost Heroes Of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell (with Patrick Robinson), the Navy SEAL portrayed in the film by Wahlberg. Read More »

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Omar Miller To Co-Star In HBO’s Dwayne Johnson Dramedy Pilot

By | Wednesday May 8, 2013 @ 5:13pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Omar Miller, Dwayne Johnson, HBO pilotEXCLUSIVE: CSI: Miami alum Omar Miller is set to co-star opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in HBO’s untitled dramedy pilot Johnson executive produces with Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson. Written by Levinson, the project chronicles the lives of athletes — some retired, some still active — living in Miami. Miller will play Charles, an affable former pro athlete who is searching for his next career. Peter Berg is directing the pilot and will executive produce, along with Johnson’s manager Dany Garcia, who runs his production company. Miller, repped by Don Buchwald & Associates and MBST, next will be seen in action feature Homefront, written by Sylvester Stallone and directed by Gary Fleder.

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Dwayne Johnson To Star In & Produce HBO Pilot About Athletes From Steve Levinson & Mark Wahlberg, Peter Berg To Direct

By | Thursday May 2, 2013 @ 9:30am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

HBO has given a pilot order to a half-hour dramedy pilot starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This marks the first TV-starring role for the movie actor/wrestler, who is executive producing the project with his Pain & Gain co-star Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson. Peter Berg is on board to direct the pilot and will executive produce, along with Johnson’s manager Dany Garcia who runs his production company. Written by Levinson, the untitled project chronicles the lives of athletes — some retired, some still active — living in Miami. Johnson will play one of them, with filming eyed for the fall.

Johnson’s collaboration with Wahlberg and his manager/ frequent producing partner Levinson on the project, based on an idea by Levinson, stems from Johnson and Wahlberg’s work together on Michael Bay’s action movie Pain & Gain, which opened at No. 1 this past weekend. The two actors also are repped by the same agency, WME. Read More »

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Focus Features, Peter Berg Plan Film On Hockey Enforcer Derek Boogaard; Died At 28

By | Friday April 26, 2013 @ 10:42am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Attention on the long-term brain damage suffered by contact sports stars has primarily fallen on pro football because of the tragic suicides of superstars like Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, both of whom left behind their brains for study on how on-field collisions made retirement life too much to bear. But the problem reaches other sports, including hockey, and Focus Features and Peter Berg are tackling the issue by focusing on renowned enforcer Derek Boogaard. A shy, oversized player who learned to use his fists to make it to the National Hockey League, Boogaard became hooked on painkillers from years of damage, and was found dead at age 28 after mixing prescription drugs with booze.

Focus has made a deal with The New York Times for an eye-opening series of articles by John Branch entitled Punched Out: The Life And Death Of A Hockey Enforcer. Berg and Film 44 partner Sarah Aubrey are producing, and Berg hopes to direct. Ryan Condal is writing the script, and Josh McLoughlin will oversee the pic. The deal was made by ICM Partners, which reps the Times, and also reps Boogard’s estate and his mother and father, Len and Joanne Boogaard. All of the money they make will go to a charity set up for their son.

The subject matter here was somewhat covered in that gem of an indie movie Goon. This version clearly … Read More »

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David Graziano And Peter Berg’s Drama ‘Bloodline’ Gets Pilot Order At NBC

By | Tuesday January 8, 2013 @ 9:09am PST
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: NBC has given a pilot order to Bloodline, a stylized drama from writer David Graziano (Awake, Lie To Me) and producers Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey. Berg is set to direct the pilot, produced by Universal TV and Berg and Aubrey’s Film 44.

Bloodline, which reflects Graziano’s love of pulp, graphic novels and ancient mythology, is a contemporary pulp action thriller in the vein of Kill Bill. Set against the backdrop of modern suburbia, it follows the story of an orphaned young girl, Bird Benson, who, due to an accident of birth, is caught in the epic struggle between two warring families of mercenaries and killers. Mentored by a mysterious Chinese man, Bird must accept the quest to find and defeat her mother in mortal combat if she is ever to lead a normal life. Graziano is exec producing with Berg and Aubrey. Bloodline extends Graziano’s relationship with NBC entertainment president Jennifer Salke who signed Graziano in an overall deal while at 20th TV. In addition to Bloodline, WME-repped Berg and Film 44 have drama M.I.C.E., based on the Israeli format The Gordin Cell, which received a put pilot commitment at NBC, with Berg writing/directing. Graziano, repped by Rothman Brecher Kim, also has mob drama The Sixth Family in the works at Cinemax, with Warner Horizon producing.

At NBC, Bloodline joins off-cycle medical drama pilot After HoursRead More »

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Fox Buys Greek God Action Drama From Peter Berg And Taylor Sheridan

By | Wednesday October 31, 2012 @ 4:43pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Taylor SheridanPeter BergEXCLUSIVE: Greek Gods are hot at Fox this development season. The network has put in development Olympus, an action drama created by writer-director Peter Berg and actor-writer Taylor Sheridan (Sons Of Anarchy). The project, from Universal TV and Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s studio-based Film 44, is described as “Bourne by way of 300.” It centers on a decorated soldier-turned-spy who finds out he actually is descended from the Greek Gods and may just be humanity’s last hope. In his broadcast pilot writing debut, Sheridan will write the script. Read More »

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Peter Berg Tells Mitt Romney To Stop Using ‘Friday Night Lights’ Slogan

By | Friday October 12, 2012 @ 11:06am PDT

Friday Night Lights Mitt RomneyFriday Night Lights creator Peter Bergwants the GOP presidential candidate to stop using the expression “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” from his former NBC show. Berg’s letter comes just days after Buzz Bissinger, who wrote the book upon which the series is based, announced that he was going to vote for the Republican ticket. The request also comes just a couple of days after Sesame Street‘s production company asked President Obama’s campaign to take down its Big Bird-themed ad taking Mitt Romney to task for his plan to cut funding to PBS. Here’s Berg’s letter he sent to Romney today:

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Film 44′s Spy Drama ‘M.I.C.E.’ Set As Put Pilot At NBC, Pete Berg To Write And Direct

By | Tuesday September 18, 2012 @ 10:05am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

NBC has closed a deal for a put pilot commitment to M.I.C.E., a drama from Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey’s Film 44 based on the Israeli format The Gordin Cell. Berg is set to write and direct the pilot in his first pilot-writing effort since Friday Night Lights. Universal TV, where Film 44 is based, will produce with Israeli company Keshet Media Group, which is behind the original series, along with Israeli satcaster YES, which airs it, and Tedy Prods, which produces it.

The deal comes after a couple of months of negotiations among the parties involved in M.I.C.E., whose title is an acronym for Money, Ideology, Coercion and Ego, used to understand the motives of spies in betraying their countries. Gordin Cell revolves around the Gordin family and centers on Israeli-born Eyal Gordin, a decorated Israeli Air Force officer in a high-security post who loves his country and family. His parents Michael and Diana, Grandmother Nina and elder sister Natalia emigrated from the USSR in 1990. Eyal has no idea that his parents were Russian spies. When Miki and Diana’s former handler appears one day, demanding that they recruit their son into espionage activity (watch the scene below with English subtitles), Eyal faces an impossible dilemma: his cooperation with Russian intelligence determines his family’s fate, while his dedication to Israel’s homeland security tests his family allegiance.  His country, or his family… who will he choose to betray? Berg said the original plot “lands itself very easily to an American reinvention” as a drama set in the U.S. “There are still real issues between the U.S. and Russia — they’re spying on us, we’re spying on them.”

Berg will executive produce M.I.C.E. with Aubrey; Avi Nir, CEO of Keshet; Ron Lesham and Amit Cohen, who developed the original series; YES’ Yona Wiesenthal; and Giora Yahalom. “We at Keshet are grateful to have this opportunity, along with Peter and NBC, to tell the M.I.C.E. story to the American audiences,” Nir said. Read More »

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Peter Berg Taps Alexander Ludwig For Navy SEAL Shane Patton In ‘Lone Survivor’

By | Thursday August 23, 2012 @ 4:14pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Alexander Ludwig has landed the role of Navy SEAL Shane Patton in Lone Survivor, the Peter Berg-directed adaptation of the Marcus Luttrell book. Ludwig plays a soldier on a covert mission that goes wrong, joining Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch and Eric Bana. The film is being financed by Emmett/Furla Films for a September 25 start in New Mexico. Universal Pictures, which developed the movie, will distribute. Lone Survivor tells the harrowing story of how Luttrell and his Navy SEAL team members fought to stay alive after being ambushed in Afghanistan in 2005 by Taliban forces during a covert mission in the Hindu Kush mountain region, where the team went to kill a terrorist leader. Film 44 partner Sarah Aubrey, Akiva Goldsman, Barry Spikings are producing with Emmett/Furla’s Randall Emmett and George Furla, and Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson.

Alexander was most recently seen in The Hunger Games, and he recently wrapped Sony’s Grown Ups 2, playing the son of David Spade’s character. He’s repped by ICM Partners.

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