Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s 2010 Emmy coverage:
It’s an anxious annual guessing game – the vetting of producers for the outstanding series Primetime Emmy Award nominees. Now it’s nearly complete inside the Academy of TV Arts & Sciences, with those who are ruled ineligible notified sometime this week. The Academy has aggressively cracked down on the producer lists submitted by nominated series contenders since about 2000, with the joint goals of weeding out the undeserving and capping the producing team’s size. Though there appears to have been a certain moderating of its stance by the Academy over the past couple of years.
Previously, the caps on the number of individual producers who can be nominated for a comedy series (11) and drama series (10) were viewed throughout the industry as arbitrary and punitive. This year, the program producer maximums are based, according to the 2010 Primetime Emmy Rules and Procedures, on “the average team size of eligible producers in the category over a prior five-year period.” But that still seems too random. Read More »
I have been asked to convey the tragic news that Rebecca Spikings-Goldsman, wife of screenwriter and producer Akiva Goldsman, died of a heart attack at age 42 on July 6th. The family has asked for privacy at this difficult time.
EXCLUSIVE: Wilmer Valderrama has inked a talent holding/development deal with 20th Century Fox TV. Under the pact, That ‘70s Show alum Valderrama will star and executive produce a series project for the studio. The deal solidifies Valderrama’s ties with 20th TV. Two years ago, he starred in the 20th TV hourlong comedy pilot for Fox The Emancipation of Ernesto, written by Emily Kapnek. Last year, Valderrama reteamed with Kapnek and 20th TV for a comedy project inspired by the work of “Dog Whisperer” Cesar Millan, with Valderrama attached to play the central character based on Millan as well as produce. That project also was set at Fox. Working with Valderrama on the two comedies led to the new deal, said 20th TV chairman Dana Walden. “He’s impressed us tremendously as an actor and producer,” she said. “He’s got talent, great instincts about ideas and material, and terrific comedic chops.”
In addition to the pact at 20th TV, Valderrama also has an exclusive multi-year overall deal at RelativityREAL. He is exclusive to Relativity for developing projects as a producer and to 20th TV for starring in a show, which he would also develop and executive produce. The actor, who voices the title character on Disney Channel’s Handy Manny, recently wrapped Tom Hanks’ Larry Crowne and will next be seen in The Dry Land and From Prada To Nada. He is repped by UTA and attorney Michael Gendler.
CSI mavens Carol Mendelsohn and Ann Donahue are staying at the helm of CBS’ veteran crime drama franchise. Each has inked a new four-year eight-figure overall deal with CSI producer CBS TV Studios. Medelsohn will continue to executive produce and showrun the mothership CSI series, which anchors the CBS Thursday schedule at 9PM. She also is executive producing the new CBS/CBS Studios drama The Defenders. Donahue will continue to executive produce and run CSI: Miami, which moves to Sundays 10PM this fall. The new pacts succeed Mendelsohn and Donahue’s previous four-year eight-figure deals with CBS Studios, which expired in mid-June. Both have been under overall pacts at the studio since 2001. “Every studio dreams of having producers with this kind of passion and leadership on the set and in the writer’s room,” CBS TV Studios president David Stapf said. “It was very important to us that Carol and Ann remain not only part of CSI, but the CBS family too.”
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Alloy, producer of such series as Gossip Girls and The Vampire Diaries, is being purchased by ZelnickMedia, with former Nickelodeon CEO Geraldine Laybourne tapped as chairman of the board. An investor group led by ZelnickMedia has agreed to acquire Alloy for approximately $126.5 million. Alloy’s wholly owned subsidiary, Alloy Entertainment, publishes books for young adults and produces movies, including The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, as well as TV series, including Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, based on them. On the TV side, Alloy has a deal with Warner Bros. TV. The company also operates the Alloy Digital Network, a media and ad network of web sites, recently launched digital network Alloy TV as well as in-school broadcast network Channel One. Alloy’s co-founders, Matt Diamond and Jim Johnson, will continue to run the company as CEO and COO, respectively, with the rest of the Alloy senior management team also expected to remain in place. Additionally, Bill Jemas, former COO of Marvel Entertainment, will also serve on the board of directors. Leslie Morgenstein, CEO of Alloy Entertainment, will now work closely with Laybourne and Jemas.
EXCLUSIVE: It will be an even larger 24 reunion on Fox’s upcoming prehistoric drama Terra Nova, which is executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin. Long-time 24 director-executive producer Jon Cassar has joined the 13-episode midseason series as an executive producer and regular series director. He joins fellow 24 executive producers Brandon Braga and David Fury who are executive producing Terra Nova. (Braga also serves as the series’ showrunner). Cassar, who won an Emmy for his directing work on Fox/20th TV/Imagine’s 24 and shared the show’s 2006 best drama series Emmy, will direct multiple episodes of Terra Nova following the pilot episode, which is being helmed by Alex Graves. “This is a huge coup for us,” said Dana Walden, chairman of 20th TV, which is co-producing Terra Nova with DreamWorks TV, Aaron Kaplan’s Kapital Entertainment and Chernin Entertainment. “Jon is one of the best directors we have ever worked with, and this project is a huge priority for our company.”
Terra Nova, one of the highlights at the Fox upfront presentation, stars Jason O’Mara as a father from 2149 who, along with his family, is transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth where they join Terra Nova, a colony of humans with a second chance to build a civilization. For those keeping score, Cassar will be the 11th executive producer on Terra Nova, joining Spielberg, Chernin, Braga, Fury, Kaplan, the pilot’s writers Craig Silverstein and Kelly Marcel, Katherine Pope, Justin Falvey and … Read More »
This is surprisingly early for such a big decision to be made. In fact, the earliest that the producers and director of the Academy Awards telecast have been chosen in recent years. But Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences President Tom Sherak just told me that he made up his mind last year to fill the two positions early before any of his candidates were already committed to other gig. Sherak did have a conversation with last year’s producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman but “they wanted time off… that show is tough,” Sherak noted. As for the reasons behind his selections, well, Don Mischer has won 15 Emmys, and Bruce Cohen “knows what he wants to do, and wants to do it badly,” Sherak told me. So now the producing pair will put together a list of hosts they want for the Oscars and get that set as soon as possible. As long as they include a woman this year! (We were up first with this but our Deadline email alerts were not working…):
Beverly Hills, CA (June 22, 2010) — Academy Award®-winning producer Bruce Cohen and acclaimed television producer/director Don Mischer will produce the 83rd Academy Awards telecast, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak announced this evening. Mischer will also serve as the telecast’s director. This will be the first involvement with the Oscar® telecast for both men, though the two worked together on the Academy’s inaugural Governors Awards event in November of 2010.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic that Bruce and Don have accepted my invitation to produce and direct the 83rd Academy Awards telecast,” said Sherak. “Their work in producing the Academy’s inaugural Governors Awards was exceptional and I am confident they will bring their creative vision and extraordinary talent to produce/direct a most memorable Oscar show.”
“I fell in love with the Oscars as an eight-year-old kid, the night my grandmothers let me stay up to watch for the first time,” said Cohen. “It is a dream come true for me to now be producing the show with the phenomenal Don Mischer, whom I’ve had an incredible time working with in the past. We hope to create a show that celebrates what people around the world love about the Academy Awards year after year – the excitement, glamour and tradition of Oscar Night itself.”
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The founder and CEO of Optimum Releasing is leaving to become a producer with long-time business partner Paul Higgins. It was Higgins who bankrolled Clarke in the first place, setting up Optimum on £13,000 back in 1999. Optimum’s turnover last year was £36 million. I’m told that Clarke personally made £16 million ($24 million) when StudioCanal bought it for £22-25 million in 2006. I suspect that Clarke has always been more of an entrepreneur than a manager. And he has wanted to produce for a long time, steering Optimum towards production with its Brighton Rock remake and comedy Attack the Block.
Danny Perkins, the COO of Optimum who owns 17% of the company, will take over as CEO on September 1, reporting to StudioCanal chairman/CEO Olivier Courson. Optimum has become one of the UK’s most exciting distributors, releasing some of my favourite recent films – A Prophet, Donkey Punch and Eden Lake.
The backbone of the business is that StudioCanal 1,500-title back catalogue, which the distributor repackages into DVDs. Around 500 have been released so far. Optimum is also on board several juicy remakes mined from that catalogue, including Peter Jackson’s 3D The Dambusters. You can imagine how excited we Brits will be sitting in a darkened cinema when the Dambusters March strikes up, with 3D tracer fire zipping past your head.
Warner Bros is giving the Glen David Gold novel Carter Beats the Devil another chance to beat death by development hell. The studio has optioned the novel, and set Michael Gilio to write the script. Jon Shestack will produce, and Ginny Brewer and Jeremy Stein will also be involved as producers. The book weaves a tale around the magician Carter the Great, a murderous rival, the mysterious death of President Warren Harding and Philo Farnsworth’s invention of television. The book was a hot property when optioned for high six-figures in 2002 by Paramount for Cruise/Wagner, a time when Tom Cruise was intrigued with playing a magician. It was eclipsed by a different C/W-developed magic book, David Fisher’s The War Magician. Ultimately, nothing happened on either front. As author Michael Connelly discovered when he sued Paramount to get back his Harry Bosch crime novels, books like these often get buried development costs and overhead charges that studio accountants lump on to justify pricey producer overhead deals. Carter Beats the Devil managed to escape that morass, but had little going after AMC tried to turn it into a series and dropped it. Shestack tried to option it when the book first came out, and followed its subsequent manifestations. “I’ve been trying to get Warner Bros to buy it since the day it came out and that it’s finally happening is enough to make me believe in magic,” Shestack said. Gilio has some heat … Read More »
Phil Keoghan, host and producer of CBS’ realty series The Amazing Race is taking on hosting and producing duties for another unscripted series about a race. Keoghan has teamed with Exodus Film Group, which has secured North American rights to the project. It will chronicle the Velux 5 Oceans 2010-11 race, which features skippers from all over the world sailing alone for 30,000 miles around the globe on high powered racing yachts and video recording their journeys. Search is under way for an U.S. network to carry the series.
Managers of the UK production company hope Time Warner will end up paying £90 million ($135 million) for Shed Media. They own 65% of the company between them. Analysts say that Shed may go for up to £85 million. Time Warner wants Shed, which makes Supernanny for America, because it wants to expand overseas, replicating the success it has had in American with hit shows such as The Wire and Gossip Girl – both of which have exported well. It recently hired ex-Tiger Aspect managing director Andrew Zein to buy independent TV producers and grow Warner Bros’ UK production business.
Apart from cashing out, being bought by Warner Bros would give Shed’s managers access to studio’s vast resources for deficit funding – that percentage of the budget not covered by a British broadcaster. It has been argued that the parochial nature of what most UK broadcasters’ commission makes these shows difficult to sell overseas. Access to Warner Bros’ cash could free up Shed to make more shows for the international market.
Shed has confirmed its managers are in talks with Warner Bros. No offer has yet been made though. Time Warner declined to comment.
The Sunday Times, which broke the story, says that Time Warner will pay £75 million for Shed. The company made a pre-tax profit of £9.8 million last year. Shed shares rose more than 5% after news of the deal broke.
Publicly-listed Shed … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jason O’Mara in talks to star in ‘Terra Nova‘
Jason O’Mara is finalizing his deal to star in Terra Nova, Fox’s midseason series produced by Steven Spielberg and Peter Chernin. The pact had been in the works for the past two weeks.
Terra Nova, one of the highlights at the Fox upfront presentation, centers on the Shannons, an ordinary family from 2149 when the planet is dying who are transported back 85 million years to prehistoric Earth Read More »
WGAE president Michael Winship and WGAW president John Wells announced that members overwhelmingly approved amendments to the Screen and Television Credits Manuals that make it easier for hyphenates to get screen credit. On the movie side, 85.7% of membership (1237 yes votes, 197 no votes) approved a change where writers who are also on the project in directing or producing capacities and subsequently get involved in rewriting, need to be judged responsible for a 33% contribution to receive credit on a non-original screenplay. The former standard was 50%. There is potential for good and bad in this one for writers. The upside: as more screenwriters become producers, they won’t be penalized for become entrepreneurial. The challenge: directors who run a script through their typewriter are now more likely to get shared screenwriting credits. There is a lot of residuals money on the line here, particularly on big hits. If more directors take it upon themselves to write, this is a potentially important issue.
A whopping 91.4% of membership approved a proposal that calls for a teleconference between arbitrators on decision where they have reviewed credit appeals but did not come to a unanimous arbitration decision. The identity of the arbitrators is always kept secret, and that would remain so in the teleconference, but it is an opportunity to discuss and perhaps come to a consensus. If no unanimous decision is reached, the majority will win out. A total of 1310 voted … Read More »
The project is called Business Trip and it was set up a while ago at Universal Pictures. But now mogul Judd Apatow has come on to produce with Benderspink, and Judd’s actress wife Leslie Mann (who also was in his Funny People made at Universal) will star. They want to start shooting as soon as January 2011.
Demi Moore just joined the cast of Margin Call, an indie drama that begins filming Monday. She’ll play the chief risk management officer at a firm. The film tracks the desperate maneuverings of eight people in a 24-hour period during the early stages of the Wall Street financial crisis. Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Simon Baker, Zachary Quinto, Penn Badgley, and Stanley Tucci also star, with J.C. Chandor directing his script. It’s the first feature Quinto is producing with his Before The Door Pictures partners Neal Dodson and Corey Moosa. Michael Benaroya and Rob Barnum of Benaroya Pictures also produce with Joe Jenckes. Myriad Pictures has been selling foreign territories since Cannes.
Cannes: Kevin Spacey/Zachary Quinto’s ‘Margin Call’
Independent producers have cancelled writing an open letter highlighting their plight for fear of upsetting UK broadcasters. Indie producers were about to publish a letter in the Times newspaper this Monday. A minority has intervened, killing the letter for fear of upsetting the BBC and Channel 4.
Pact, the producers’ association, recently called for state film funding to be reformed. Indie producers were about to take the argument to the government and wider general public.
I’ve been told that a handful of top-flight producers thought the letter was too provocative. Pact has spent weeks drafting the wording. Its signatories included pretty much every British film producer of note.
“They didn’t want to rock the boat,” one signatory tells me. “It was absolutely pathetic. They behaved as if their invitations to Chequers [prime minister’s country house] were about to be cancelled or something.”
Anyway, here is an earlier draft of the unsent letter:
As the recent Palme d’Or success at the Cannes Film Festival show, the UK is home to a wealth of creative film making talent. However, as a group of some of the UK’s most established and successful independent film producers, we are concerned that, despite such creative success, sustainability of our businesses remains an elusive goal.
Over £100m is invested by public bodies into UK film each year, yet, thanks to the current business model where even for very successful films, producers are unable to retain a fair share of the income that the film generates, leaving them dependent on public subsidy with
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EXCLUSIVE: Wife Swap producer RDF USA has signed with WME after more than 4 years without agency representation. The American branch of U.K.’s RDF Media, which was recently acquired by Zodiak Entertainment, is prepping 8-10 new unscripted projects – both RDF-owned British formats and original concepts – which it will take out in the next few weeks with its WME agents. This will mark the first selling season for RDF US since the arrival of ITV Studios executive Natalka Znak as Chief Creative Officer in April. RDF USA’s upcoming series include ABC’s Secret Millionaire and the syndication version of Don’t Forget the Lyrics, both launching in the fall, and scripted dramedy Being Human for SyFy, which is about to go into production. Following the closing of the Zodiak/RDF deal two weeks ago, RDF USA will become more active on the scripted side by mining Zodiac’s scripted catalog. It plans to hire a scripted development executive in the next 6 months. RDF USA was repped by UTA until 2006 when its point agent there, Chris Coelen, became the company’s CEO. Grant Mansfield now runs RDF USA following Coelen’s departure at the end of the year.