CNN, Playtone, and Herzog & Company are co-producing a provocative, sweeping 10-part documentary series that will explore perhaps the most transformative decade of the modern era. The non-scripted series will be executive produced by multiple EMMY® Award-winning producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman (HBO’s John Adams and The Pacific), and EMMY® Award-winning producer Mark Herzog (History’s Gettysburg) of Herzog & Company (HCO), as a CNN original series for CNN/U.S., it was announced today. “From protests to war, to human rights, the Beatles, innovative technologies, and politics, the 1960s were an extraordinary era of consequential cultural and global change,” said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide. “We are so pleased to partner with Tom, Gary, and HCO to bring this very special series to our audience. Projects like this are emblematic of exactly the type of programming that we need more of, signifying a new direction and expanded sensibility at CNN.” THE SIXTIES will launch with a 90-minute special episode, “The Assassination of JFK (1963),” broadcast on CNN/U.S. in November 2013, and timed with the observance of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The inaugural episode will explore the key conclusions of the controversial Warren Commission, as well as the shocking impact of the assassination upon the nation, and upon American politics. The series will resume in April 2014 with episodes about the events and people that shaped our history and character as a nation. READ MORE »
‘The Artist’s Michel Hazanavicius In Talks To Helm Tom Hanks In Pre-WWII Thriller ‘In The Garden Of Beasts’
EXCLUSIVE: Michel Hazanavicius, who won the Oscar in February for helming The Artist, is in talks to direct the Universal Pictures/Playtone adaptation of the Erik Larson nonfiction book In The Garden Of Beasts. Tom Hanks will star in the film and produce it with partner Gary Goetzman, and I’m hearing that they are courting Natalie Portman to play his daughter in the harrowing pre-WWII tale.
Hanks will play William Dodd, a mild-mannered Chicago professor who becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany before the Nazis began to assert an iron grip across Europe. At first, his family embraces the vibrant scene in Berlin, and his young daughter Martha (the role they want Portman to play) in particular falls hard for the seduction and engages in a series of affairs with the handsome men of the Third Reich and even the first chief of the Gestapo. Soon enough, the ambassador gets reports of violence against Jews and even though his dispatches to the State Department are met with indifference, he continues to be concerned with the growing press censorship and the passage of shocking laws. It leads to the gradual realization of the horrific genocide that Hitler actually has planned for Europe and the world. Portman isn’t set yet, but I hear Hazanavicius is preparing to work on a draft with a writer that will soon be hired.
Yahoo Joins Original Scripted Programming Fray With Deal For Tom Hanks’ Animated ‘Electric City’: CES
Yahoo says that it has exclusive online rights to the sci-fi adventure series Electric City, which will be shown in several parts beginning in 2012 supported by “a deeply immersive and interactive online experience that enhances the drama, mystery and intrigue of the series.” Electric City will be available in several languages including French and Spanish, and will be complemented by opportunities for fans to interact with the cast and creators. No word on financial terms. The announcement coincides with this week’s 2012 International CES consumer electronics show. Here’s the release:
LAS VEGAS, Nev., International CES (January 9, 2012) – Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO), the premier digital media company, today announced that they have joined forces with Playtone and Reliance Entertainment to bring Tom Hanks’ multi-dimensional animated series “Electric City” to Yahoo! in 2012. As the exclusive online broadcast home for “Electric City,” Yahoo! will bring Hanks’ vision and storytelling to a global audience. Set in a futuristic society, “Electric City” is a new 90- minute action-packed sci-fi adventure series, and marks Yahoo!’s first foray into original scripted programming. “Electric City” was created by and stars Tom Hanks.
EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Playtone development and production executive Peter Friedlander is joining Netflix, where he will oversee original content acquisition. While acquisitions of existing TV series has been the backbone of Netflix’s rise over the past few years, including high-profile recent deals with AMC and the CW, the streaming giant also signaled an expansion into original series with the recent deal with MRC for drama House Of Cards. Netflix’s major acquisitions/output deals have been orchestrated by Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. My understanding is that Friedlander will focus on series that will be produced exclusively for Netflix. Netflix has now become a go-to place for every production company shopping a direct-to-series project or a canceled network series they want to keep alive. The online distributor was recently pitched the new Charlie Sheen sitcom Anger Management and the Arrested Development reboot and had been in negotiations for a new comedy series from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan. While it is expanding into original series, Netflix does not plan to expand into development or production and will continue to license shows developed and produced by outside companies. Friedlander’s role will be to help identify and bring new series and other projects to Netflix.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures is negotiating to turn the Green Day-fueled Broadway musical American Idiot into a feature film. Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning Milk scribe, is in talks to write the script, and Michael Mayer will direct. Mayer helmed the stage run of the musical, which is closing on Broadway April 24 and launching a tour in the fall. Black most recently scripted J. Edgar, the Clint Eastwood film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover.
The musical, which uses the songs of the punk band’s seminal 2004 album to tell the coming-of-age story of three small-town guys, was optioned before its opening last spring by Playtone partners Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. They previously turned the stage hit Mamma Mia! into a Universal film. It is expected that Green Day lead singer/songwriter Billie Joe Armstrong will be courted to play the role of the drug dealer St. Jimmy. Each time he did a stint in the role on Broadway, the grosses rose considerably at the St. James Theatre. The band was actively involved in the formation of the musical.