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NBC’s ‘Today’ To Launch Sir Richard Branson And Offspring Into Space

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 7:44am PST

While CBS News correspondent Lara Logan was over at CBS This Morning, apologizing for 60 Minutes’ botched report on the Benghazi attack this morning, over at NBC’s Today show they were announcing a three-hour live broadcast covering the first commercial space flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo,with first passengers Sir Richard Branson and his two children, Holly and Sam. No date yet.

Fine print: last month, NBC committed to a space travel reality series with Branson and his Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. In the Mark Burnett-produced reality series, everyday people compete for a trip into space on the vehicle, after being trained at Virgin Galactic’s home in Spaceport America, in New Mexico.

The news event/publicity stunt announced this morning on Today will be carried across NBCUniversal brands and platforms, including CNBC, MSNBC, NBCNews.com, Syfy, The Weather Channel. The coverage will include a primetime special airing on NBC the night before launch, as well as the three-hour live event on Today, hosted by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.

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NBC Picks Up Mark Burnett And Richard Branson’s Space Travel Reality Series

By | Thursday October 3, 2013 @ 10:41am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

With the broadcast reality space in a rut of late, NBC continues to take big swings. Following the expensive two-week Million Second Quiz stint, the network has bought another even bigger-budget show — the space travel reality series that Survivor and The Voice producer Mark Burnett had been pitching with British mogul Richard Branson. This marks a reunion, as 12 years ago NBC outbid several other networks for Burnett’s Destination: Mir, which was later scrapped as the Russian space station that was to be the series’ destination was brought down shortly thereafter. Burnett later tried with Destination: Space, which also didn’t get off the ground. Both were in partnership with the Russian space program and to use Soyuz rockets. The new NBC series, titled Space Race, is done with Branson’s Virgin Galactic, advertised as the world’s first commercial spaceline. The premise is the same — everyday people compete for a trip into space — in this case on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. (The first flight of the new spaceline is reportedly already fully booked, dominated by celebrity travelers.) The training of the contestants will be done at Virgin Galactic’s home in Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Related: Sony Pictures TV Sets Space Travel Series As Space Heats Up As Reality Frontier Read More »

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Richard Branson Buys Rolling Stones Book For Film Drama

EXCLUSIVE: The Rolling Stones and Richard Branson are teaming up again. Having released three Stones albums back in the 1990s on Virgin Records, Branson’s Virgin Produced has now acquired the rights to Robert Greenfield’s 2008 book Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones. Unlike past looks at this time in the Stones career, this film is a drama not a documentary. Like the book, the film will focus on the professional and personal relationship between head Stones Mick Jagger and Keith Richards as the band record their classic Exile on Main Street album in the south of France in the summer of 1971. Virgin Produced, partnering with City Entertainment and KippSter Entertainment, is developing the project internally. Brandon and Phil Murphy have been brought on board to write the screenplay. The Murphys, represented by Rich Cook at WME and manager Langley Perer at Mosaic, are no strangers to biopics. Among the projects on their plate currently is a Steve McQueen project for Sony and producer Jerry Weintaub. Jason Felts will serve as producer for the Stones film. Rene Rigal will oversee the project for Virgin Produced, with Joshua Maurer producing for City Entertainment and David Stern producing for KippSter Entertainment. This isn’t the only Rolling Stones film on the horizon. Brett Morgan is directing a doc on the band as part of the Stones’ 50th anniversary celebrations this year. The doc, … Read More »

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Entertainment One Inks Development Deal With Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced

By | Monday September 12, 2011 @ 11:09am PDT

Indie studio Entertainment One and Virgin Produced — the production unit of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group — have signed a two-year, first-look development deal in which eOne will have exclusive rights to all scripted TV development at Virgin Produced, which has been ramping up with deals since forming 11 months ago as a joint venture with Relativity Media under the leadership of CEO Jason Felts and chief creative officer Justin Berfield; the development, packaging and producing division already has a first-look deal with E! Entertainment for nonscripted TV development. The deal adds to EOne’s stable of content creators, which this year has netted NBC’s upcoming The Firm, ABC’s Rookie Blue, Syfy’s Haven, HBO’s Hung and AMC’s upoming Hell on Wheels.

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Wayne Kramer To Next Direct ‘Ecstasia’ For Relativity Media

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media has optioned Ecstasia, a futuristic drama that was written and will be directed by The Cooler helmer Wayne Kramer. Kramer became available after he exited the Sylvester Stallone-starrer Headshot, and he expects this to be his next film. It came to Relativity through its relationship with Richard Branson’s film label, Virgin Produced. Set in an “alternate universe,” the drama occurs at a time when love no longer exists, except when it is artificially simulated through a costly procedure called “commitment.” Ecstasia is accomplished through computer chips implanted in  each couple. They are incredibly expensive to maintain, comparable to managing a mortgage. Those who cannot meet the cost are forced into “dissolution,” which ends the emotional link. Kramer’s film revolves around a man and woman who are 10 days away from losing their “commitment,” trying desperately to refinance their love. The film will be produced by Jason Felts, Rene Rigal, Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley, Matt Rhodes and Renee Tab. Kramer’s repped by WME and Sentient Entertainment.

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E! In First-Look Deal With Virgin Produced

By | Wednesday January 19, 2011 @ 7:07am PST
Nellie Andreeva

E! Entertainment TV has signed multiyear first-look deal with Virgin Produced, the recently launched production arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. The pact is for reality programming. Virgin Produced’s unscripted development will be overseen by CEO Jason Felts and Chief Creative Officer Justin Berfield who were previously active in TV through their company J2TV. The deal with E! marks Virgin Produced’s first move in television and follows the recent launch of the company’s multiyear joint venture with Relativity Media, through which it plans to produce 2-3 films a year.

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Space Pioneer Richard Branson Discovers McG’s ‘Columbus’ For First Spec Buy

By | Sunday October 17, 2010 @ 3:05pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Richard Branson, the entrepreneur who says he is two years away from launching the commercial space travel company Virgin Galactic Airways, wants to make a movie about a guy who could certainly relate to the ambition. Branson, who  this summer launched the Virgin Produced banner as a joint venture with Relativity Media, is negotiating to acquire Columbus, a script by T.S. Nowlin that has McG attached to direct a 300-style film about Christopher Columbus and his discovery of America. The script went out last week and a deal’s in the works, sources said. The pic will be produced by McG, who’s currently directing the 20th Century Fox comedy This Means War with Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine. Read More »

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Richard Branson Venture’s Virgin Film Has Raunchy Laughs, Lotta Stars

Mike Fleming

The first film that gets Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced film shingle off the tarmac–it was innocuously mentioned as an untitled Peter Farrelly film in the announcement of Branson’s joint venture with Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity–has a bigger concentration of first class cabin-caliber actors than any under-$8 million film I can remember. And the cast is still growing. Deadline was first to reveal the Kentucky Fried Movie-style laffer when Kavanaugh replaced Overture Films as financier and the film started production. They had a good cast then, but the filmmakers keep bolstering by showing prospective talent the raucous segments shot so far, especially the Farrelly-directed seg with Hugh Jackman and Kate Winslet that is especially outrageous and R-rated. Aside from Jackman and Winslet, the cast now includes Richard Gere, Anton Yelchin, Gerard Butler, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Johnny Knoxville, Julianne Moore, Liev Schreiber, Elizabeth Banks, Kristen Bell, Kate Bosworth, Josh Duhamel, Justin Long, Seann William Scott, Emma Stone, Jack McBrayer, Chloe Moretz, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Uma Thurman. 14 segments are in the can, with 5 to go. Steve Brill, Steve Carr and James Gunn have joined a director roster that already had Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Brett Ratner, Banks and Griffin Dunne. The pic, a co-production between Greene Street and Relativity, is produced by Kavanaugh, John Penotti, Peter Farrelly and Charlie Wessler. Tim Williams and Tucker Tooley are exec producers.

17 Film Directors Walk Into A Bar…

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Who Says There Are No Second Acts?

Mike Fleming

Richard Branson’s Virgin Group announced that it launched Virgin Produced, a joint venture with Relativity Media for TV development, packaging and production. What the company didn’t say is that it chose as its chief creative officer and overseer of development the most diabolical of the menacing siblings from Malcolm in the Middle. Justin Berfield, who has grown up and transitioned from actor to producer with J2 partner Jason Felts, has taken that post for Branson. Felts is CEO, and they will make product to be distributed through the Rogue label. Berfield isn’t the only former kid actor I’ve come across recently who has transitioned to adulthood behind the camera. Another is Peter Billingsley, who directed the Universal comedy Couples Retreat, you have to look close to see signs of his childhood identity, as the kid who nearly shot his eye out with a BB gun in The Christmas Story. Berfield has gotten producing credits on some movies and TV projects over the past several years, and he and Felts are still working on a pic about Grateful Dead singer/guitarist Jerry Garcia.

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