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Paramount Television Inks First-Look Deal With Robert Zemeckis

By | Monday July 14, 2014 @ 11:09am PDT

Paramount Television Inks First-Look Deal With Robert ZemeckisThe two-year, first-look deal includes all television programming developed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and their production company, Compari Entertainment, Paramount Television announced today. Their first project will be a drama series inspired by Nicholson Baker’s bestselling novel The Fermata, which is being adapted by David Hollander.

“Not only is Bob one of the all-time greatest filmmakers but he has been an important member of the Paramount family for more than 20 years,” said Brad Grey, Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. “His ability to tell and capture a story so brilliantly on any screen is second to none and we look forward to partnering creatively with him, Jack and their team on the television side of our business.”

“I know Brad and Amy share a deep appreciation for creating inspired entertainment and I look forward to making great television together,” said Zemeckis.

“Bob is a masterful storyteller, and we’re thrilled to be developing character-driven, visually creative programming in the television space that reflects his beloved cinematic approach,” said Amy Powell, President, Paramount Television.

Zemeckis’ relationship with Paramount Pictures goes back to the 1994 Oscar-winning pic Forrest Gump for which Zemeckis won the Best Directing Academy Award. The film starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise and Robin Wright grossed $677 million worldwide and won a total of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Hanks. In 2012, the studio and Zemeckis partnered on  Denzel Washington-starrer Flight, which received two Oscar noms.

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Tom Rothman’s TriStar Unveils First Pic Dates: ‘Ricki And The Flash’ & Robert Zemeckis’ Philippe Petit Movie

TriStarJonathan Demme’s Ricki And The Flash, written by Diablo Cody and starring Meryl Streep, will be released June 26, 2015, and Robert Zemeckis’ Phillip Petit tale starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt will bow on October 2, 2015. These are the first two films under Tom Rothman‘s new TriStar Productions at Sony Pictures.

TriStar has been ramping up its film projects since former Fox box Rothman joined Sony in August to launch the label. It beat out several suitors for Ricki And The Flash, a hot package that has Streep playing a rock n’ roll-loving woman who chased her tattered dream at the price of her family, but gets a last chance to get it right by reconciling with her estranged daughter. Shooting begins this fall with Marc Platt and Mason Novick producing. That deal came on the heels of prepping for production on the Zemeckis-directed 3D experiential film about French aerialist Petit, who crossed between the Twin Towers on a wire in 1974. Charlotte Lebon, Ben Kingsley and James Badge Dale have signed on to star with Gordon-Levitt. Read More »

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Charlotte Lebon Joins Robert Zemeckis’ Philippe Petit Pic

By | Friday April 25, 2014 @ 11:00am PDT
Mike Fleming

'Yves Saint Laurent' Press Conference - 64th Berlinale International Film FestivalCanadian actress Charlotte Lebon, who is upcoming in Disney/ DreamWorks’ The Hundred Foot Journey, is in talks to join Joseph Gordon-Levitt in TriStar and Robert Zemeckis‘ untitled movie about high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. She will play Petit’s girlfriend Annie in the feature based on Petit’s memoir To Reach The Clouds. Annie is described as a wafer-thin street-performing mime who becomes angry with Philippe for stealing away her audience. She agrees to forgive him on the condition that he buys her a glass of wine, and the two fall quickly in love. Ben Kingsley and James Badge Dale are also in the cast. Read More »

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Robert Zemeckis Signs With WME

By | Tuesday March 25, 2014 @ 8:58pm PDT

FRobert-Zemeckis-212184-1-402ilmmaker Robert Zemeckis has signed with WME’s Ari Emanuel. The writer-director-producer had been without an agent since leaving CAA about a year ago after a 30-year affiliation. The filmmaker is readying an experiential 3D film To Walk the Clouds with Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Phillipe Petit, the French aerialist who crossed between the Twin Towers on a wire in 1974. The project, based on Petit’s memoirs To Reach The Clouds is being produced by Zemeckis with his ImageMovers Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey and TriStar’s Tom Rothman. Zemeckis is known for pushing the envelope, trying new and different special effects techniques — whether it be the groundbreaking live-action/animated Who Framed Roger Rabbit or the memorable effects in Death Becomes Her or the animated experiment of The Polar Express. Zemeckis directed Forrest Gump, which won six Academy Awards in 1994 including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor for star Tom Hanks, who he later directed in Cast Away. Other well-known credits include the thriller What Lies Beneath, Romancing The Stone and the Back To The Future franchise. He is also repped by law firm Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown.

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Joseph Gordon-Levitt To Play Aerial Artist Philippe Petit For Robert Zemeckis, TriStar

By | Monday February 24, 2014 @ 4:58pm PST
Mike Fleming

jglEXCLUSIVE: I went out on a limb in January reporting how badly director Robert Zemeckis and TriStar head Tom Rothman sought out Joseph Gordon-Levitt to play the role of Man On Wire subject Philippe Petit for the 3D feature To Walk The Clouds, and now I can tell you that the young actor has committed to playing the French high wire artist who made a daring cross of the World Trade Center in 1974. Production will begin in May on this 3D experiential film that will be done with the spectacle of Avatar, Life Of Pi and Gravity, with a fun daring subplot that makes the film one part Ocean’s Eleven as Petit and his cohorts snuck to the top of the towers and managed to shoot a line across and get the rigging ready in time for Petit to shock the world in what is also a love letter to the Twin Towers and a simpler time gone by.

petit__140123195340So this will be the first project to come from Rothman, who at Fox was smack in the middle of Avatar and Life Of Pi, and who really wanted to find something exceptional to brand the label he revived at Sony. This certainly fits the bill. It has also been a passion project for Zemeckis and his ImageMovers cohorts for several years. … Read More »

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‘Back To The Future’ Heads To London’s West End As A Musical

By | Friday January 31, 2014 @ 7:20am PST

 backtothefuture‘The Power of Love” and “Johnny B. Goode” are among the songs to be included in the new musical of Back To The Future scheduled for the London stage based on the 1985 film starring Michael J. Fox. The script will be written by Robert Zemeckis (who directed the original movie and two sequels), along with the films’ co-writer and producer Bob Gale, and Jamie Lloyd. New music will come from Alan Silvestri and Glen Ballard. Lloyd will also direct the production. “Rather than attempt to recreate such an iconic movie on stage, we have assembled a brilliant artistic team to discover a unique theatrical language to take audiences on a journey through time in a vibrant, unexpected way,” Lloyd says. “The production will include illusions, skateboarding and many other surprises that will capture the spirit of the film but freshly interpret it for a new audience.” Soutra Gilmour will oversee set and costume designs, while Paul Kieve handles illusions, Jon Clark does lighting design, and Alan Williams provides musical supervision. It also will have a skateboard consultant: Andrew Willis. Backers include Universal Stage Productions, London producer Colin Ingram, and Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment as well as Donovan Mannato and CJ E&M.  

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Tom Rothman’s TriStar Plots Philippe Petit’s World Trade Center Tightrope Walk As First Project, With Robert Zemeckis At Helm

By | Thursday January 23, 2014 @ 12:16pm PST
Mike Fleming

petitEXCLUSIVE: In what is shaping up to be the first project from Tom Rothman’s TriStar Productions, the Sony-based film company is in the process of acquiring To Reach The Clouds, the working title of the story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. Robert Zemeckis will direct the film, and he has co-written the script with Christopher Browne from Petit’s memoirs.

zThis is a most ambitious first project for Rothman, because it carries on the spirit of experiential 3D films made under his reign at Fox including James Cameron’s Avatar and Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi. I’m told that Rothman got the idea to do this right when he was exiting the theater after seeing Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, and he began to think about projects with similar possibilities. He knew that Zemeckis and his ImageMovers partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey have long been interested in doing a movie on Petit. Rothman worked with Zemeckis on Cast Away and What Lies Beneath, so there is a long relationship there. Rothman’s lieutenant, David Beaubaire, ran point as an exec on the Zemeckis-directed Flight when he was at Paramount.

Now, the pieces have just begun falling into place — maybe falling isn’t the right word here — and Zemeckis likes Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the role, word of which just leaked out. There is no deal for Gordon-Levitt at this time, but it sounds like a career role here and the hope is to pull together the pieces to shoot late this spring or early summer, with Gordon-Levitt or another actor. Zemeckis, Starkey and Rapke produce, and Cherylanne Martin will be line producer and exec producer. ImageMovers’ Jackie Levine will also be involved in a producing capacity. Read More »

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Robert Zemeckis To Helm Feature Based On 2010 Documentary ‘Marwencol’

By | Thursday October 24, 2013 @ 5:19pm PDT

The director’s next film will be Marwencol, an adaptation of the documentary about a man who battled memory loss by building an elaborate scale-model WWII-era town in his backyard. Universal has optioned the Spirit Award-nominated docu Marwencol and bought the life rights to its subject Mark Hogancamp. It’ll be Robert Zemeckis‘ first helming project since 2012′s Flight.

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Drama From Robert Zemeckis & ‘The Glades’ Creator Gets Fox Put Pilot Commitment

By | Tuesday September 24, 2013 @ 9:30am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis has teamed with the creator/executive producer of A&E’s drama The Glades, Clifton Campbell for Billy Ray, a drama series project that has landed a put pilot commitment at Fox. Written by Campbell and to be directed by Zemeckis, Billy Ray is described as a character-driven drama about a family thrown into chaos when the child who was stolen from them as a baby is returned 16 years later after being raised in rural Alabama by someone with a questionable past. Campbell and Zemeckis executive produce with Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine. There is no studio yet for the drama, which will be co-produced by Compari Entertainment. This would mark Zemeckis’ first series in 15 years and the first series-directing gig since the cult HBO anthology Tales From The Crypt. Campbell spent the past several years working on his series The Glades, which was recently cancelled by A&E after four seasons. It was the first A&E scripted series to stick and helped establish the network’s scripted brand.

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Robert Zemeckis Eyeing ‘Chaos Walking’

By | Tuesday September 10, 2013 @ 5:00pm PDT

Robert Zemeckis is in the process of negotiations to direct the Charlie Kaufman-penned YA adaptation Chaos Walking for Lionsgate. No deal has been officially made for what would mark Zemeckis’ next live-action pic following last year’s Flight. Patrick Ness authored the original YA lit trilogy about an infection that renders all thought audible in a dystopian future where humans have colonized an alien planet. Doug Davison will produce for Quadrant Pictures with Allison Shearmur.

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ImageMovers Acquires ‘The Execution Of Noa P. Singleton: A Novel’

By | Wednesday August 21, 2013 @ 4:22pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: ImageMovers has acquired film rights to The Execution of Noa P Singleton: A Novel, the best-seller by first-time author Elizabeth L. Silver. Crown published the book in June. Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Jackie Levine will produce for ImageMovers. Sam Goldberg and Ilan Ulmer will finance development and will be  executive producers. The Execution of Noa P Singleton is a murder mystery about a twentysomething college dropout who sits on death row for murder in Pennsylvania until a powerful attorney, the victim’s own mother, attempts to have the death sentence commuted. ImageMovers most recently produced the John Gatins-penned Flight, which Zemeckis directed. UTA brokered the book deal on behalf of Elizabeth L. Silver and publishing agent Richard Pine of Inkwell Management.

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Focus Features Acquires ImageMovers-Produced Script ‘Rose’

By | Monday August 5, 2013 @ 2:55pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Focus Features has optioned Rose, a script by Nathaniel Halpern that has been developed by ImageMovers to be produced by Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke. The logline: A woman who volunteers to physically fashion herself after another woman loses all sense of identity and begins to covet the other woman’s life. Zemeckis isn’t looking to direct this, I’m told, but there is a strong female lead role, and Focus exec Christopher Kopp is overseeing the pic. Zemeckis, who has eyed such projects as the one on tightrope walker Philippe Petit, hasn’t fixed on a next project to follow Flight.

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EXCLUSIVE: Robert Zemeckis Leaves CAA

UPDATE 7:50 PM: I’ve  just been given this exclusive statement from Paul Bloch at Rogers & Cowan: “After a 30-year association with Creative Artists Agency, Robert Zemeckis has decided to take a hiatus with the firm and step back for the time being. Mr. Zemeckis is very appreciative of the work they have accomplished together. He has no immediate plans for representation by a different agency.”

EXCLUSIVE 6:45 PM: My sources tell me the Academy Award-winning director of Forrest Gump exited the agency on Thursday. Robert Zemeckis has been a long-time CAA client dating back to Mike Ovitz when he and Jack Rapke, now Zemeckis’ producing partner, were the director’s agents. In more recent years Zemeckis was repped by Richard Lovett at the head of a team of agents. Zemeckis’ legendary career had cooled in recent years especially because of the uneven reception of his repeated use of motion capture technology. But he was considered back on top with the success of 2012′s Paramount actioner Flight which earned two Academy Award nominations including Best Actor (for Denzel Washington). And Zemeckis accomplished that and its $161M worldwide gross with only a $30 million budget. (Rapke brought Zemeckis the script and told the director that Washington was interested.) Since August 2011, Zemeckis has a two-year first-look producing deal with Universal Studios where he made his worldwide mega-hit Back To The Future threequel. I can tell you that, unlike many such situations involving major Hollywood talent contemplating an agency exit, there was no hint about this in the tenpercentery world where intel is currency. Needless to say, it’s always tough when an agency loses this caliber of prestigious and respected and visionary client (the USC School of Cinematic Arts houses the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts), and CAA doesn’t lose many – that’s for sure. So expect a feeding frenzy in the future to represent Zemeckis. In fact the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this month  Read More »

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Academy Celebrates 25th Anniversary Of ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ With Robert Zemeckis And Cast

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present a new digital restoration of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in celebration of the film’s 25th anniversary on Thursday, April 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The evening will feature a post-screening onstage discussion with director Robert Zemeckis and members of the cast and crew, including actress Joanna Cassidy, voice actor Charles Fleischer, supervising animator Andreas Deja, screenwriter Peter S. Seaman and associate producers Don Hahn and Steve Starkey. The panel will be moderated by director Rich Moore, who received an Oscar® nomination for Animated Feature Film for “Wreck-It Ralph” this past year.

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OSCARS Q&A: ‘Flight’ Scribe John Gatins

By | Saturday December 22, 2012 @ 8:53am PST
Mike Fleming

FlightOne of the intriguing parts of the Oscar race for me is watching excellent movies, and then discovering how much adversity, disappointment and years go into them. Whether you’re even nominated, this part of awards season is a validation of the artists’ struggle, offering encouragement to others trying not to give up on their own passion projects. I’m not sure anyone in this race personifies that more than Flight scribe John Gatins. You can look at Flight and marvel at Denzel Washington’s performance or how much movie Robert Zemeckis put onscreen with only a $30 million budget. But the most compelling back story is Gatins, who wrote a script that fit no studio’s template of a make-able movie, particularly with Gatins’ insistence he direct it. Gatins became a successful writer after acting didn’t pan out. His only directing credit, Dreamer, was a family film about a broken race horse, the furthest thing from an R-rated drama about a coke-snorting drunk commercial airline pilot. It was inevitable that a decade of futility would leave Gatins feeling a bit like Ahab chasing the white whale. But here, Gatins bagged his white whale, even if the price was letting someone else be captain.

DEADLINE: Pulling a jet liner out of a dive by flying upside down seems crazy, but there is a knowing voice that informs the substance abuse struggles of Denzel Washington’s pilot. How long did you struggle with that?
GATINS: It was one of those things where you go to college, and get a mulligan for four years to go through stuff and sort things out. If after those four years the party doesn’t end, that’s when it becomes an issue. I was one of those guys who couldn’t leave the party. I moved to Los Angeles after I graduated from Vassar, and tried to sort it out for myself but just never really could. There were a few really dark years there, and some strained relationships with family and friends. I had lots of people worried about me, until I was able to…

DEADLINE: Pull out of the nosedive, so to speak.
GATINS: Yes.

DEADLINE: How did you come up with this movie?
GATINS: I was in Europe, working as a script doctor on Behind Enemy Lines. These naval pilots, very intense guys, told such great stories. Sobriety changed what had been a distaste for flying into a real fear, because I didn’t have a coping mechanism anymore when I was in the air. The Yankees and Mets were playing in the World Series, and I had to get back to see a game. I found myself in this plane sitting next to a pilot who just started telling me all these crazy stories and everything that was going wrong in his life. I’m pretty friendly, but sitting there on this plane, I didn’t want to know that the wife hates you and you’re going through an awful divorce and you’ve got a bad addiction, you’re an alcoholic. And then I had that “wait a second, what if?” moment. Let’s say you had this pilot with an addiction issue, and put him in a plane and there was one of those horrific perfect storm scenarios. Every pilot explained to me that in order for a plane to crash from pilot error, a really crazy series of things would have to happen because they have backup systems for every crisis. I thought, if I can put him in a situation like that, where he has to do some amazing feat of flying, and then later it’s revealed he was loaded, how would we feel about that guy and his heroic act? And what about his own self-appraisal when the media wants to hoist him up as a hero? I wanted to explore the life of this alcoholic faker, trying to convince himself he’s something that’s he’s not. Read More »

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OSCARS: How ‘Flight’ Got Off The Ground

By | Wednesday December 12, 2012 @ 8:00pm PST

Diane Haithman is an AwardsLine contributor.

One thing’s for certain about Flight: The Robert Zemeckis-directed drama starring Denzel Washington as an alcoholic pilot will never be a popular in-flight film. “After this movie, people are going to be waiting out on the steps for the pilot with a Breathalyzer test,” Washington recently joked in an interview.

Flight screenwriter John Gatins also does not recommend his story for in-flight reading. “I’ve gotten emails from people saying:, ‘Man, I made the mistake of opening your screenplay on a plane’”, Gatins says with a laugh. His fictional concept is not too far from recent fact: In 2009, not one, but two pilots were arrested preflight at London’s Heathrow Airport after failing Breathalyzer tests. Both planes, one American Airlines and one United, were coincidentally headed for Chicago.

Related: OSCARS: Handicapping Lead Actor Race Read More »

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Robert Zemeckis To Receive Director Of The Year Award At Palm Springs Fest

By | Wednesday November 28, 2012 @ 9:57am PST

Palm Springs, CA (November 28, 2012) – The 24th annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF) will present Academy Award® winning director Robert Zemeckis with the Director of the Year Award for Flight. Presented by Cartier, the Awards Gala will be held Saturday, January 5, at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Hosted by Mary Hart, the Awards Gala will also present awards to previously announced honorees Helen Hunt and Naomi Watts. The Festival runs January 3-14.

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Paramount Taking Box Office Success ‘Flight’ Directly To Academy Voters; Film Is Dedicated To Ed Limato

By | Sunday November 4, 2012 @ 11:54am PST
Pete Hammond

EXCLUSIVE: With an estimated $25 million boxoffice haul on only 1900 screens (see Nikki’s boxoffice report) in its opening weekend, Paramount’s gamble on the $30 million adult drama Flight looks like it is paying off. That’s certainly sweet news for star Denzel Washington and director Robert Zemeckis who didn’t take their usual hefty upfront fees in a bet on the quality of the movie alone. It also makes a nice memorium for Washington’s late agent Ed Limato to whom the film is dedicated in the end credits. Washington confirmed it was the final script (out of several that were offered at the time) that Limato hoped he would do. Shortly before he died Limato was again able to communicate that hope. The film’s dedication to Limato is a strong and poignant reminder of the bond between the star and his longtime agent.

Related: ‘Flight’ Crash Sequence Effects – Video

In addition to boxoffice success Paramount is now moving aggressively with a big Oscar campaign for the film. The film got an enthusiastic response at an overflow screening for SAG and Academy members Saturday afternoon at the Writers Guild Theatre. It also drew well over 500 to its official Academy screening across the street at the Goldwyn later Saturday night with “sustained” applause at the end, according to one observer. Both were followed by Q&As with Washington, Zemeckis, scene-stealing co-star John Goodman and screenwriter John Gatins. The group also hit the official BAFTA screening yesterday and Zemeckis and Gatins even appeared at a public showing at … Read More »

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‘Flight’ Crash Sequence Effects: Video

By | Saturday November 3, 2012 @ 5:48pm PDT

Visual effects supervisor Keith Baillie of Atomic Fiction explains how filmmakers created the Flight crash sequence. The Robert Zemeckis movie starring Denzel Washington as a troubled pilot opened Friday and is expected to bring in an estimated $23.6 million this weekend.

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