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DeadlineNow Morning Report: Fox-Time Warner Tie-Up Talks, Beatles Documentary Film, LA TV Shoots Soar (Video)

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 12:20pm PDT
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Morning Report, Wednesday July 16

Reports that Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox was kicking the tires on merging with Time Warner merger sends TW stock soaring; Ron Howard to direct a Beatles docu about their 1960s rise; TV production in LA took a massive jump in Q2 2014. Dominic Patten reports.

Related:
Time Warner Shares Soar On Reports Of $80B Offer By Rupert Murdoch
Ron Howard To Helm Authorized Beatles Docu On British Invasion Years
FilmLA: TV Production Soars In Q2 As Features Stay Steady With 2013

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Ron Howard To Helm Authorized Beatles Docu On British Invasion Years

By | Wednesday July 16, 2014 @ 6:02am PDT
Mike Fleming

Ron Howard To Helm Authorized Beatles Docu On British Invasion YearsRon Howard will direct a feature documentary on The Beatles. The focus will be the period from 1960-1966 when the mop-topped quartet took Europe and then the United States by storm with a flurry of 166 concerts in 15 countries and 90 cities. By the time they finished the last concert in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park in 1966, they were as big a band as Elvis Presley was a solo artist. The film has been authorized by the band’s holding company, Apple Corps Ltd, and will have the full cooperation and support of surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono Lennon, and George Harrison’s widow Olivia Harrison. The docu will be a co-production between Apple, White Horse Pictures’ Nigel Sinclair and Scott Pascucci, and Imagine Entertainment, whose principals Brian Grazer and Howard will produce with Sinclair and Pascucci. Imagine’s Michael Rosenberg and White Horse’s Guy East will be exec producers. They expect to have it ready sometimes next year, and don’t be surprised if there is a sequel, covering the band’s politicization and eventual break-up.

Ron_HowardThe film begins with the band honing its chops in Liverpool’s Cavern Club, to its first road trip shows in Hamburg, Germany, and other European countries in 1963, right before they came to America for an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. That appearance, on February 9, 1964 sparked a generation of future musicians like Eagles leaders Don … Read More »

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Lifetime Orders Drama Pilot Based On ‘Clan Of The Cave Bear’ Novel With Ron Howard, Brian Grazer & Allison Shearmur Exec Producing

By | Wednesday July 9, 2014 @ 4:42pm PDT

Lifetime Orders Drama Pilot Based On ‘Clan Of The Cave Bear’ Novel With Ron Howard, Brian Grazer & Allison Shearmur Exec ProducingLifetime has ordered drama pilot The Clan Of The Cave Bear based on Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children novels. The project, targeted for a potential 2015 launch, is being produced by Fox 21 and Lionsgate in association with Imagine Television and Allison Shearmur Productions. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are exec producing along with Allison Shearmur (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Cinderella), Linda Woolverton (Maleficent, The Lion King), Francie Calfo (Gang Related, Empire) and Jean M. Auel. Woolverton is writing the pilot.

clan of the cave bearThe first book in the series, The Clan Of The Cave Bear, takes place at a time in prehistory more than 25,000 years ago when Neanderthals shared the Earth with the first early modern humans and a band of cave dwellers adopt blond and blue-eyed Ayla, a child of the “Others.” As Ayla matures into a young woman of spirit and courage, she must fight for survival against the jealous bigotry of Broud, who will one day be clan leader.
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Warner Bros Acquires Global Book Sensation ‘The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair’; Ron Howard To Direct

By | Wednesday April 23, 2014 @ 3:35pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair MovieEXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has acquired the Joel Dicker novel The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair for Ron Howard to direct and his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer to produce with him. Deals are also in the works for Eugenie Grandval and Claire Lundberg to produce as well. Since published by the Swiss author, the novel has been a publishing phenomenon in Europe and especially in France, where is finished just behind Fifty Shades Of Grey, and Italy and Spain, where it outsold Dan Brown’s Inferno. It has sold over 2 million copies and won the prestigious Grand Prix du Roman and was nominated for the Prix Goncourt. Book was published by Bernard de Fallois’s Editions de Fallois.

ronbrianPublished in France under the title La vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert, the novel is about a young superstar novelist who finds himself embroiled in a sensationalized murder mystery when his mentor, an icon of American literature, is implicated in the crime of a missing 15-year-old girl who turns up dead in the author’s backyard. Penguin will publish the book in the U.S. in May. Read More »

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Discovery Upfront Presentation Returns Spotlight To Non-Fiction

PrintThis was a subtle contrast to last year when the company also highlighted scripted fare and trotted out a parade of celebrities including Mariel Hemingway, Morgan Freeman, William Hurt, LaToya Jackson, and NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon. Filmmaker Ron Howard was perhaps the biggest new name showing up this year: He told Discovery advertisers that New Form — the online content production venture he and Brian Grazer are launching with the Winter TCA Tour Discoverypay TV company — expects to “generate great scripted programming for today’s digital viewers.” They’re already weighing “several series” as they delve into “shortform content and all its possibilities.” Howard also intends to encourage other creative types to “bring their talent to New Form.” Oprah Winfrey returned, of course, to promote OWN. With its recent ratings success, “no one is happier than we are right now about what is happening to OWN.” She says the network is heading toward its “next evolution” with its first original scripted movie with Toni Braxton playing legendary studio singer Darlene Love, the focus of the Oscar-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom. She also brought out Tyler Perry for a second year; he talked up his soap opera The Haves And The Have Nots

Related: Discovery Channel Unveils New Slate

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Discovery Teams With Ron Howard And Brian Grazer To Create Digital Studio

brian-grazer-ron-howardApollo 13 meets Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Hard to say yet what might come from the venture, called New Form, that unites the Hollywood creative team — plus lawyer Craig Jacobson, TV exec Ed Wilson, agent Jim Wiatt, film exec Michael Rosenberg and CAA — with pay TV’s leading producer of non-fiction programming. There’s no word on terms of the arrangements, including how much cash is behind New Form. Kathleen Grace will be chief creative officer of the LA-based operation. Her mission, the companies say, is to develop “high-quality, scripted and unscripted programming for today’s digital viewers” — and to create alliances with “key distribution partners and brands.” Digital productions typically have low budgets, and generate low revenues on the Internet, but the ones from New Form have a “possibility of expanded distribution across Discovery and partner platforms globally.” The announcement comes ahead of Discovery’s upfront presentation today in NYC, where Ron Howard will appear to introduce the digital JV. “By investing with Discovery, New Form is poised to re-imagine storytelling and reach new audiences online and beyond,” he says.

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Universal Closes $1 Million Spec Deal For ‘Mena,’ 80s Drug Tale Ron Howard Will Direct

By | Saturday February 8, 2014 @ 6:28pm PST
Mike Fleming

specEXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures today closed a $1 million spec deal for Mena, a script by Gary Spinelli that has Ron Howard attached to direct. The film will be produced by Doug Davison with Imagine’s Brian Grazer, and with Kim Roth exec producing. This was a hot script auction, with Sony also bidding. Universal took it off the table with a $1 million offer, plus a blind script commitment in a deal brokered by Gersh.

Related: Universal Wins 7-Figure Auction For ‘Red Rising,’ With Marc Forster Helming Mars Tale

The spec is a fact-based tale about Barry Seal, a portly pilot who, in the 1980s, was a 300-pound gun runner, and drug trafficker who transported contraband for the CIA and the Medellin cartel. He was eventually shot to death by the latter in Baton Rouge. The title refers to Mena, Arkansas, where a lot of the illegal activity took place, under the noses of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. Co-President of Production Peter Cramer will oversee the spec for Universal. Gersh reps the scribe with attorney Howard Abramson.

Related: Universal Sets Dates For ‘Everest’, Guillermo Del Toro’s ‘Crimson Peak’, Others

Maybe it’s because adult movies have been doing well, and because studios have cut so far back on development, … Read More »

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Michael Rosenberg Elevated To Co-Chairman Of Imagine Entertainment

By | Tuesday November 26, 2013 @ 3:50pm PST
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Long a staple of the Imagine Entertainment brain trust, Michael Rosenberg has been promoted to Co-Chairman of Imagine Entertainment by company Chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Rosenberg came to Imagine in 1988 as vice president of Marketing And Distribution, and ten years later he was named Imagine Entertainment president.

“While he has been a valued partner since he came to Imagine, during the past few years Michael has become more directly involved with Ron and me in creating company strategies and planning the future of Imagine,” Grazer said. “He is an asset to the company in more ways than one and a man we respect.”

Howard said that “Michael continues to be an incredible marketing distribution strategist with strong business instincts on expanding the imagine brand. He is not only an integral part of the company’s life, he is also a genuine friend.”

Rosenberg is the former president of Saul Zaentz’s production company, which produced the Best Picture Oscar winners One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The English Patient and Amadeus. He has been at Imagine through most of the label’s successes, including the Best Picture winner A Beautiful Mind. The company is currently in production on the Howard-directed Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, the biopic Pele, and the Tate Taylor-directed Get On Up, with 42′s Chadwick Boseman playing James Brown in that biopic, and they are percolating an adaptation of the Dan … Read More »

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Ron Howard’s ‘In The Heart Of The Sea’ Set For March 2015 Release

By | Friday November 22, 2013 @ 12:10pm PST

Ron Howard‘s adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick high-seas drama will bow wide on March 13, 2015. So far In The Heart Of The Sea has the date to itself. The film from Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Pictures marks a reteam for Howard and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Morgan, who previously collaborated on Frost/Nixon and the racing pic Rush; Morgan came aboard Heart Of The Sea and worked with Howard on new drafts of Charles Leavitt’s original adaptation. A blend of fact and fiction, In The Heart Of The Sea describes in great detail how the Whaleship Essex was stalked and attacked by a sperm whale in 1820, leaving the crew adrift for 90 days and forced to turn to cannibalism. The attack on the boat largely influenced Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw, Tom Holland, Brendan Gleeson and Jordi Molla star.

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Phase 4 To Release Ron Howard And Jay-Z Docu ‘Made In America’

By | Friday November 8, 2013 @ 3:17pm PST
Mike Fleming

Phase 4 Films acquired North American distribution rights to Made In America, Ron Howard’s first documentary, which he made in partnership with Imagine partner Brian Grazer and Jay-Z. CAA brokered the U.S. rights deal on behalf of the filmmakers; the Canadian rights were handled by The Exchange. Film premiered in Toronto and follows hip-hop icon Jay-Z as he plans the Budweiser Made in America Festival, a 2012 concert event with musicians including Drake, Pearl Jam, Run-DMC, The Hives, Passion Pit, Calvin Harris, Janelle Monáe and Skrillex that grossed $5 million in ticket sales and drew 80,000 fans in Philadelphia. The film will be released in the summer. Imagine produced with Marcy Media, RadicalMedia, in association with Participant Media. Showtime had TV rights and aired it last month.

“This is not a concert film but rather a reflection of the fabric of what it means to be Made in America — what the festival represents, why Jay is doing it, and how he relates to each artist,” Howard said. “Made In America is intended to showcase Jay-Z’s struggle for success and illustrate how he has become a voice and an icon for a generation of driven and creative youth.”

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‘In The Heart Of The Sea’ Adds Charlotte Riley; Cheyenne Jackson To Sing ‘The Song’

By | Tuesday October 15, 2013 @ 4:09pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: Up and coming British actress Charlotte Riley (Easy Virtue, World Without End) has been cast in Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow’s true story tale In The Heart Of The Sea, which Ron Howard is directing from a script by Charles Leavitt. Riley’s coming off another big WB pic, the Doug Liman-directed Edge of Tomorrow, opposite Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. In Howard’s Moby Dick-esque drama Riley will play Peggy, the beautiful and pregnant wife of Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), a crew member aboard the whaling ship Essex. When the ship is attacked by a sperm whale, a group of survivors stay afloat for 90 days enduring disease, starvation and eventual cannibalism. Riley is repped by CAA and Conway Van Gelder Grant.

Cheyenne Jackson (United 93, Behind the Candelabra) has landed the lead in indie drama The Song. He’ll play Ben Cantor, a man who bets it all to enter a songwriting contest reality show against the better judgment of his wife, boss, and banker. Andy Lauer is directing the pic from a script by David Kauffman. Kauffman is producing alongside Page Brown. Jackson is set to sing original songs in the music-themed pic, which begins filming this month in San Antonio, NM. He’s repped by ICM and … Read More »

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Toronto: Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ Takes Victory Lap At Emotional Fest Debut Screening

Pete Hammond

And the hits just keep on coming.

You could tell from the smiles on the faces of Universal executives that Sunday night’s Toronto Film Festival premiere of the Formula 1 racing drama Rush was a smash hit at the Roy Thomson Hall. Not only did the filmmakers, including director Ron Howard, receive enthusiastic standing ovations, but the real-life subject of the film, Niki Lauda, received a rousing standing O when introduced after the film finished.

The story is a powerful one, revolving around the intense rivalry during one season in the 1970s between drivers Lauda and James Hunt, and what happens during the course of that year is the stuff of great human drama. Initially Universal passed on the film when first pitched, even with studio golden boy and Oscar-winner Ron Howard involved. But as circumstance would have it, it all came around again after the film was produced independently (Howard’s first indie since the start of his career with Grand Theft Auto) for a reported $45 million, and Universal is proudly releasing it after all. Universal chairman Adam Fogelson told me he is extremely excited to be launching the film and has great confidence in it. “We are going to make this work,” he said with certainty. The reaction here Sunday night can only increase his confidence.

At the Thompson Hotel post-screening party, everyone involved was getting great compliments on the finished film across the board. Especially Howard, who noted that not only men were responding but surprisingly women, too. “Women responded to the movie differently, but even with more emotion and intensity than men, both genders testing it super high,” he said of the film, which is not your typical Formula 1 racing movie, but a great character study that happens to be set in the world of auto racing. I first saw it early in the marketing process in May and thought then, and still now, that the pure  emotion of the story of the rivalry between these racing icons would have great appeal way beyond the partisans of the sport. I also think it has Academy potential with no-brainer nominations for Anthony Dod Mantle’s superb cinematography, the editing, sound, Hans Zimmer’s score and Daniel Bruhl‘s stunning supporting turn as Lauda, who endures a horrific accident on the track. That’s all in addition to possible directing, writing and picture considerations. Read More »

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Toronto: Showtime Acquires Jay-Z Concert Documentary ‘Made In America’

By | Friday August 30, 2013 @ 12:55pm PDT

Showtime will premiere the documentary Made In America on October 11. The pic chronicles the two-day music festival put together last September by Jay-Z that included performances by Kanye West, Pearl Jam, Run-DMC and other chart-toppers. Jay-Z then partnered with Imagine Entertainment to produce the pic, which will have its world premiere at Toronto on September 7 and follows the people and artists surrounding the one-off event. Imagine’s Ron Howard directed, and RadicalMedia and Participant Media also produced. The deal was negotiated by CAA on behalf of the production. “As soon as we saw this film we knew it was a perfect fit for Showtime,” Showtime president of entertainment David Nevins said. “Ron Howard and Jay-Z have crafted an inspirational portrayal of American resilience, drive and creativity, interwoven with an incredible showcase of musical talent.” Check out the trailer:

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Peter Morgan Reteams With Ron Howard On ‘In The Heart Of The Sea’

EXCLUSIVE: Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Morgan has stepped onto In The Heart Of The Sea, Ron Howard’s adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick high-seas drama for Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Pictures. Principal photography starts in the UK on September 10 and marks a reteam for Howard and Morgan who previously collaborated on Frost/Nixon and the upcoming racing pic Rush. Charles Leavitt wrote the original Heart Of The Sea adaptation and Morgan recently came in to work extensively with Howard on some redrafts. Philbrick’s source material tells the fate of the crew of the Whaleship Essex. It blends fact and fiction, describing in palpable detail how the ship was stalked and attacked by a sperm whale in 1820, leaving the crew adrift for 90 days and forced to turn to cannibalism. The attack on the boat largely influenced Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Morgan’s involvement also marks a reteam with Chris Hemsworth, who stars in Heart Of The Sea and Rush. Rush, on which Morgan is also a producer, will be screened as a gala presentation in Toronto. His other upcoming projects include a collaboration with Ang Lee on a look at the boxing world of the 1960s and 1970s, as seen through the prism of its biggest rivalries and greatest fights. That 3D picture is set up at Universal. He’s also working on a project with Film4 about Salman Rushdie and the … Read More »

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Universal’s ‘Rush’ Will Open A Week Early In LA, New York

Two weeks after pushing the release of Ron Howard‘s racing film back to September 27, Universal now has decided to open Rush a week earlier — on its original opening date – exclusively in Los Angeles and New York. The pic about the rivalry between 1970s Formula 1 drivers James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) will get its limited release against the Warner Bros actioner Prisoners and Sony’s drama Battle of the Year. When it goes wide the following week, Rush will go against openers Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Sony/Columbia), Baggage Claim (Fox Searchlight) and Don Jon (Relativity). It will have its North American premiere with a Gala Presentation at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Related: Hot Trailer: Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’

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TIFF: What Toronto Film Fest Lineup Signals For Oscar Race – Analysis

Pete Hammond

I was interviewing Bradley Cooper yesterday and we talked about the emerging 2013 awards season. “I guess we’ll know by Toronto what it’s going to look like this year,” he said remembering he was in back to back World Premieres there last year with Silver Linings Playbook and The Place Beyond The Pines (which Focus bought at TIFF).

That’s certainly true to some degree but in terms of Oscar tea leaves, today’s announcement of the first leg of this year’s all-important Toronto International Film Festival lineup was both significant and a bit of a head scratcher that will have awards watchers looking even more intently to Telluride, Venice and the New York Film Festival to get a more complete picture of just what this season is shaping up to be.

Related: Toronto Fest Unveils Gala Premieres For Oscar Bait Films

Though there were many expected contenders among the 17 galas and 56 special presentations listed , there were curious omissions of movies that might have seemed like no-brainers to go to Toronto. Where for instance were the expected North American debuts of Cannes favorites like The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, Robert Redford‘s tour-de-force work in J.C. Chandor’s stunning All Is Lost or Alexander Payne‘s very well-received Nebraska? Are these movies holding out for a prestigious NY slot instead?  I would be willing to bet (call it a hunch) that all three turn up in Telluride over the Labor Day weekend just before TIFF begins.  Payne loves Telluride and goes even when he doesn’t have a film to show. Redford and the Coens would seem naturals for long overdue Telluride Film Fest tributes. Neither has ever been (of course Redford has his own little ski town festival to keep him occupied). This is the perfect opportunity for that and because Telluride doesn’t announce its schedule in advance  and doesn’t label anything as a “premiere” other fests don’t mind movies that they are debuting sneaking in there first. Read More »

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Hot Trailer: Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’

By | Wednesday July 17, 2013 @ 10:06am PDT

Here’s the third trailer for Universal‘s Formula One racing drama Rush, which centers on the rivalry between 1970s racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Ron Howard directed Peter Morgan’s script, and Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl star as the iconic drviers alongside Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara. Universal just shifted its release date; the pic is due out September 27.

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UPDATE: Tom Hanks And Ron Howard To Return For Next Dan Brown Movie ‘Inferno’; Sony Sets December 2015 Release Date

By | Tuesday July 16, 2013 @ 1:52pm PDT

UPDATE, 1:52 PM: Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, the star and director, respectively, of Sony’s first two tentpole movies based on Dan Brown’s novels, are returning for Inferno, we’ve learned. Hanks had been expected to reprise his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon for The Lost Symbol, the third novel in Brown’s book series. But Howard had bowed out of that project, which is now on the back burner, saying he wanted to produce it with Brian Grazer and their Imagine Entertainment but not direct. Now we’re hearing he’ll return for Inferno.

PREVIOUS BREAKING…Inferno was released in May and is the fourth Robert Langdon book written by The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons author Dan Brown. Sony, which has film rights to the franchise, has just set a December 18, 2015 release date for it. David Koepp, who wrote Angels & Demons, is aboard to write the script. The news means Brown’s third installment of the thriller series, The Lost Symbol, will not be the next movie for Sony. Danny Strong had been set to write that adaptation in March 2012 and the expectation was the film would be directed by Mark Romanek after Ron Howard opted out of directing as he had done on the first two pics. Not much has been … Read More »

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Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ Release Delayed A Week To September 27

By | Thursday July 11, 2013 @ 6:10pm PDT

Universal Pictures is shifting the release date for Ron Howard’s Rush to September 27, a week later than its initial September 20 date. The pic now goes up against Fox Searchlight’s Baggage Claim, Sony/Columbia’s Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2, Relativity’s Don Jon and Fox thriller Runner Runner. It would have faced off against Warner Bros’ Prisoners on the earlier date. Howard directs the racing pic about 1970s Formula 1 rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl star alongside Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara. Peter Morgan wrote the script.

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