Now that Will Smith has stepped off the pic Brilliance, the whole town is after him. I’m hearing he has aligned himself to that football concussions project that Ridley Scott and Giannina Facio have been developing. The pic, still untitled and inspired by the GQ article “Game Brain,” is at Sony, and Peter Landesman wrote the script and will direct. He made his helming debut on the JFK pic Parkland. Back when Deadline broke the story, Scott was looking to direct the concussions movie project after his massive Moses movie Exodus with Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton. Scott moved over and now will produce with Facio, along with Shuman Company’s David Wolfhoff and Larry Shuman. Landesman has completed the script, and the plan is to shoot this fall. Smith will play Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who was a total outsider and made the first discovery of CTE, the concussion syndrome that has been fatal in contributing to the suicides of such former NFL superstars as Dave Duerson and Junior Seau.
Related: NFL Reaches $765M Settlement In Concussion Cases
As I wrote in November, Scott got in early, intending to create a drama focusing on the debilitating effects that concussions are having on our sports heroes, and the role that league owners play in allowing it to happen. His plan is to create a morality tale on that issue, much the way that Michael Mann’s The Insider took on the tobacco industry’s complicity in covering up the addictive and cancer-causing effects of cigarette smoking. Smith’s camp denied this a couple of days ago, but things move quickly when an actor has a slot open. Smith met with the director this week, and the intention is to try and be first, as there are other concussion projects brewing. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass Films has set Parkland writer-director Peter Landesman to rewrite and direct Down By The River, an espionage revenge thriller inspired by Charles Bowden’s nonfiction book. Landesman will come on to rewrite a script by Henry Bean.
Landesman and Naomi Despres brought the project to Stuber as the same time as Kill the Messenger, the story of how investigative journalist Gary Webb uncovered CIA complicity in bringing crack to U.S. cities and then destroyed the reputation of Webb, who committed suicide in 2004. Michael Cuesta directed the film for Focus Features with Jeremy Renner playing Webb. Stuber produced with Despres and Renner, while Landesman and Pamela Abdy are exec producers. Read More »
Fox International Channels is partnering with Keshet International on the U.S. adaptation of Homeland producer Keshet’s newest Israeli scripted drama series Shkufim (False Flag). Parkland director Peter Landesman will make his TV writing debut and pen the adaptation. The original series, which airs on Keshet channel 2 in Israel, is inspired by the 2010 assassination in Dubai, where a Palestinian radical was killed in his hotel room. The hotel pieces together surveillance footage and passport photographs to implicate 26 international hotel guests and release them to global news outlets. Landesman’s version, which FIC is developing in house, centers on eight apparently ordinary U.S. citizens who wake up to find their faces and private lives broadcast across the Internet and television news around the world as suspects in a brazen and dangerous international crime. What seems at first like a horrible case of mistaken identity unspools into a psycho-espionage thriller. Amit Cohen-Raab and Maria Feldman created the Israeli series, which is produced by Tender productions. Cohen-Raab, who wrote the series, will co-write the U.S. pilot story with Landesman. Read More »
After receiving mixed critical response in its Venice world premiere, the Kennedy assassination docudrama Parkland took on the Toronto International Film Festival and received a good response for a movie that looks at the events of that fateful day 50 years ago from several different perspectives. Those include a young surgeon operating on the fallen President in the emergency room, Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother and mother, the FBI, Abraham Zapruder and others. Nicely directed by first-timer Peter Landesman, a former New York Times reporter, the film has the sensibility of a journalist and stays close to the known facts while still illuminating. At the premiere’s afterparty at Soho House he told me, “I wanted to create a visual language in the beginning that would allow the audience to feel like what they were seeing was happening and real… I did want to take the audience by hand and bring them into an idea that what they are watching happening is actually unfolding in front of them,” said the veteran who’s covered many international wars. He dismissed potential complaints that the filmmaker might be exploiting the Kennedy tragedy, particularly on the cusp on the 50th anniversary, by explaining that the emergency room scenes were carefully thought out:”I feel like we cut a very dignified movie. To not have any sense of the violence would be to betray what the movie is about. I actually feel that the cut’s dignified. We actually had cuts in the movie that were a lot bloodier. At the end of the day we didn’t want to alienate our audience.”
Landesman said it came about when he originally wrote a screenplay about Watergate for producer Tom Hanks (who produced this film with Playtone partner Gary Goetzman and actor Bill Paxton). That script has yet to be produced. But it led to Hanks handing Landesman a Vincent Bugliosi book written about those four days in November 1963. So he worked on it and researched it for nearly five years and decided there was a movie there that nobody had ever seen. Although Hanks was busy acting on Broadway, he was very involved. “Gary was there for every frame. And Tom was intimately involved with the development of the screenplay and the casting. You know Tom. His integrity is so important, not only as a brand and a producer but Tom’s sensibilities and instincts are so important,” Landesman said. Read More »
“Parkland is not out to pick a fight and start a dialogue about conspiracy,” director Peter Landesman said today of his film that follows the events in the hours and days following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. “It is utterly focused on the raw emotion of the weekend,” he told reporters. Landesman wrote Parkland based on Vincent Bugliosi’s Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy. It’s also his helming debut.
The story of what happened in Dealy Plaza on November 22, 1963 has been told from many different angles, so Landesman said the idea was, “How have we not seen this story?” He was looking to explore the “disorientation, chaos and anarchy” and “what it was to survive that weekend” for people who were pulled into the extraordinary situation. “There’s not a scene in this movie that anybody’s ever seen before,” he said. “We wanted to take an audience and put them in the shoes of these people and have it wash over them like a wave.” There was applause at the press screening this morning. Reviews have so far been mixed.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination and Parkland was among the most anticipated films coming into the Venice competition. Having the world premiere in Venice and ahead of the film’s trip to Toronto was a good place to start because it gives Parkland “more opportunity to stand out,” Exclusive Media exec Alex Walton told me before the bow. Another person involved with the film also suggests that Europeans are likely to embrace it given a fascination, but perhaps less familiarity, with the Kennedys. The film has essentially sold out worldwide, including to Italy’s RAI, an early adopter which has been acquiring very few movies of late. Exclusive co-financed with The American Film Company and is releasing in the U.S. on October 4. Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are among the producers. The sizeable ensemble includes Paul Giamatti, Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, James Badge Dale, Billy Bob Thornton, Ron Livingston, Mark Duplass, Jacki Weaver and Tom Welling. Welling is here on the Lido.
The film’s title refers to the hospital where Kennedy – and later his assassin Lee Harvey Oswald – died, but the movie isn’t entirely about Parkland and the shell-shocked staff there who treated them both. Early on, it’s set in the blood-soaked operating room where doctors attempt to keep Kennedy alive while Secret Service agents and the First Lady look on. But also followed closely are the plights of Abraham Zapruder (Giamatti), Robert Oswald (Badge Dale) and James Hosty (Livingston). Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Open Road is in final talks for domestic distribution on Parkland, a film that recounts the events that occurred at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on November 22, 1963. They are eyeing a release late this fall, around the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The film’s written and directed by Peter Landesman, the ex-foreign correspondent and scripter of films including the upcoming The Mission who makes his helming debut on the picture. It is based on Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy, the mammoth 1,632-page book by Helter Skelter author Vincent Bugliosi that meticulously debunked the conspiracy theories that later found their way into films like Oliver Stone’s JFK.
The book was originally set at HBO for a miniseries by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman in 2007 along with Bill Paxton, who at the time was starring in Playtone’s HBO series Big Love. Instead of taking on the assassination and the conspiracy theories in a mini, they and Landesman boiled this down to a smaller story that covers what happened at the hospital when the world was turned upside down by the business end of Lee Harvey Oswald’s sniper rifle. It was re-calibrated as an indie film that’s being co-financed by Exclusive Media and The American Film Company, the latter of which was hatched by entrepreneur Joe Ricketts to focus on telling American history tales. Pic stars Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton, Jacki Weaver, Marcia Gay Harden, Zac Efron, Jeremy Strong, James Badge Dale, Jackie Earle Haley, Colin Hanks, David Harbour, and Ron Livingston. Read More »
BREAKING: Zac Efron and Marcia Gay Harden have joined Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton and Jacki Weaver in Parkland, which Peter Landesman wrote and will direct based on Vincent Bugliosi’s book Reclaiming History: The Assassination Of President John F. Kennedy. The film is produced by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman and also is being produced and financed by Exclusive Media and its co-chairmen Nigel Sinclair and Guy East.
Bugliosi’s mammoth book, which Playtone and Landesman originally set up at HBO, refuted the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination that were embraced in the Oliver Stone-directed JFK. The film does not address the conspiracy aspect and focuses only on what happened at Parkland Hospital in Dallas on the day Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. The film, to be shot in Austin, is destined for a 2013 U.S. theatrical release around the 50th anniversary of the assassination.
Related: Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thornton and Jacki Weaver Set For ‘Parkland’ Read More »