EXCLUSIVE:When Imagine Entertainment partners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard re-upped in their 26th year at Universal in early 2012, like all studio term producers they watched the deal get smaller. They also went from exclusive to first look and while that might have humbled less energetic founders who’d made 50 films for the same studio, Grazer and Howard took it as license to tap into new avenues of distribution and funding to be more productive than ever.
Consider that while Howard tinkers with the finished Formula One drama Rush and casts the Warner Bros adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick novel In The Heart Of The Sea with Chris Hemsworth, Grazer is on the Croisette, beating the drum for a Pele biopic to be directed by The Two Escobars helmer Jeff Zimbalist and his brother Michael. Grazer and production president Kim Roth called the film a close cousin to the search for genius depicted in 8 Mile, only here it’s a dirt-poor kid’s journey from being part of the Shoeless Wonders (a band of soccer wunderkinds too poor to afford shoes) to a phenom who at 17 led Brazil to the World Cup. Grazer and his partners will have the film ready by the time the world is whipped into a frenzy for World Cup action next year.
* While they’ve temporarily halted the move to turn Jack Bauer loose in a 24 feature, they’ve instead decided to bring him back in a limited series, this after selling an Arrested Development revival directly to Netflix. Grazer tells me they are absolutely moving forward with a movie version of another Imagine series, Friday Night Lights, and they will likely use crowdfunding to directly tap the rabid fan base of that drama for some of the budget. “We made a terrific feature with Pete Berg, turned it into a terrific TV series and will now make a movie from that series,” Grazer said. “I’m not sure such a thing has been done before.” READ MORE »
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros is in talks with Benjamin Walker, who played the prexy in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, to join Chris Hemsworth and Tom Holland in In The Heart Of The Sea, the Ron Howard-directed adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick book about the whale attack on the Essex which became the basis for Melville’s Moby Dick. Brian Grazer is producing with Joe Roth, Paula Weinstein and William Ward, with Palak Patel exec producing. Warner Bros is making the film with Village Roadshow Pictures. Walker is in talks to play George Pollard, the arrogant privileged son of a whaling family who attempts to use his family name to gain captaincy, and who butts heads with shipmate Chase (Hemsworth), who knows the job and the sea much better. Pollard’s rep is ruined because of a mishap with another ship and he is relegated to night watchmen duty for the rest of his life.
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Two days after the international trailer dropped comes Universal‘s domestic trailer for Rush, the Ron Howard-directed racing pic about 1970s Formula 1 rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl star. It’s due out September 20.
The international trailer for Ron Howard‘s Formula 1 racing pic Rush dropped today, with the domestic version due Thursday. Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl star as James Hunt and Niki Lauda, extraordinary rivals who dominated the sport in the 1970s. Peter Morgan wrote the script and Universal … Read More »
Six more names were formally inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences‘ distinguished Hall Of Fame on Monday night in front of a packed audience at the Beverly Hilton. Joining the 140-plus TV legends who are already members were Les Moonves, Ron Howard, Al Michaels, Bob Schieffer, Dick Wolf and, at long last, a posthumous recognition of TV inventor Philo T. Farnsworth. Among those on the selection committee this year were Marcy Carsey, Bonnie Hammer, Rick Rosen, Fred Silverman and Nina Tassler.
Easily the highest honor the Academy can bestow (Full disclosure: I am a member of the Board Of Governors repping the Writers Branch), these new inductees can count on seeing their busts enshrined in front of the Academy’s North Hollywood headquarters, immortalized forever. But last night’s (ironically) non-televised event was a loose and lively affair that had a warm feeling and might be called the TV Acad’s version of the Motion Picture Academy’s Governors Awards. It was a heartfelt shout-out to some of TV’s most accomplished names, and the move to the larger Beverly Hilton International Ballroom this year confirmed its growning importance to the community. Tickets were higher priced and more industryites showed than in recent years. For instance, even though they weren’t there as part of the show, Mark Harmon, James Burrows, Chuck Lorre, Michael Eisner and George Lucas in addition to many others were among the audience members cheering on the new inductees. Read More »
As was rumored, Imagine Entertainment partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer will film Jay-Z’s Budweiser Made In America music festival, September 1-2 in Philadelphia. The feature will be released next year.
Translation CEO Steve Stoute will be co-producing … Read More »
UPDATE: Media Rights Capital is in serious talks to take on The Dark Tower after Warner Bros declined to make what potentially amounts to three feature films and two limited run TV series. MRC’s Modi Wiczyk is a … Read More »
The Imagine Entertainment partners are filming a documentary about Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival September 1-2 in Philadelphia. Lineup for the event includes Drake, Pearl Jam, Run-DMC, Skrillex, Rick Ross, Miike Snow, Odd Future … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I’m told that Warner Bros is getting a new script from Akiva Goldsman for the first installment of Stephen King’s mammoth Western The Dark Tower, and that within two weeks, the studio will be making a decision on whether to green light the first leg of one of the most daring and ambitious projects to come along since The Lord Of The Rings. And here is a new wrinkle to add to the mix. Javier Bardem is no longer in the mix as gunslinger Roland Deschain. I’m told that director Ron Howard and producers Brian Grazer and Goldsman have been talking with their A Beautiful Mind star Russell Crowe about playing Deschain. While there is no deal with Crowe, that is the star that Warner Bros will be evaluating as the studio decides on whether to take a leap on an eight-volume book that has a huge following, with Howard, King and their partners planning a multi-platform presentation that could be unforgettable. The story will be told through three films and two limited run TV series.
The Dark Tower is about the last living member of a knightly order of gunslingers, with Deschain becoming humanity’s last hope to save civilization as he hits the road to find the Dark Tower. Along the way, he encounters characters, good and bad, in a world that has an Old West feel. When I last wrote about this, Universal had dropped out and Warner Bros had sparked to the idea of taking on this franchise, possibly with HBO handling the TV component that would bridge the the first and second feature films, with another limited run TV series to follow. Given HBO’s adventurous forays into fantasy with Game of Thrones, it seems like the ideal venue. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Showtime entertainment president David Nevins is getting back in business with his former company Imagine TV in a big way. Showtime has put in development Conquest, a sweeping period drama that has been a passion project of Imagine principal Ron Howard. Oscar-winner Howard is attached to direct Conquest, which will be written by Oscar-nominated scribe Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries). Conquest, from Imagine TV and 20th Century Fox TV’s cable division Fox21, tells the story of famed Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortes, who led the Spanish conquest in Mexico, and his clash with Moctezuma II, the last ruler of the Aztec Empire which fell at the hands of Cortes and his men. Filled with blood, lust, gold, magic and mythology, Conquest is described as “a classic war story about two powerful men and their people ultimately leading to the destruction of the Aztec culture and the men themselves.”
Imagine partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer executive produce with Rivera and Imagine TV president Francie Calfo. Veteran Star Trek writer Hans Beimler, who was born in Mexico City, will serve as a consultant because of his knowledge of Aztec/Mexican history. Beimler worked with Howard over the years doing research on Cortes, initially for a feature. They ultimately found the project more suited to cable series and took it to Nevins, who had known of Howard’s passion for the subject from his years as Imagine TV president. The two sides waited for Rivera to become available and brought him on board to write. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Ron Howard has not heard from Andy Griffith‘s family yet and so cannot confirm the Hollywood legend’s passing. But the prominent director and producer knew that Griffith “has not been well for some time”. About Griffith, who played Howard’s father on The Andy Griffith Show from 1960-1968, Howard told me … Read More »
UPDATE to include Ron Howard’s reaction: North Carolina’s WITN News is reporting that legendary TV and movie actor, director, producer, singer, and writer Andy Griffith died this morning in his Dare County home, according … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: When Universal Pictures said no to making three feature films and two limited-run TV series from Stephen King’s mammoth post-apocalyptic Western The Dark Tower, the partners in the film all pledged they were going to find a way to get a movie made. Well, I hear that Warner Bros is now very close to a deal that will give Ron Howard the chance to direct at least the first feature, potentially with Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. And Akiva Goldsman (who wrote the script) is producing with Brian Grazer and the author.
Basically the studio bought Goldsman’s script and are paying him to do a polish. Howard remains attached to direct, likely in first-quarter 2013. Pic is a co-production between Goldsman’s Weed Road and Howard and Grazer’s Imagine. Bardem’s participation would depend upon his availability, but he was firmly attached when the project was at Universal.
That is an amazing development for fans of the book and for a movie that has been searching for new backing since Universal let it go last July. Back then, Universal was deciding on three features and the two TV segments, which was perhaps the most ambitious movie project since Peter Jackson shot three installments of The Lord Of The Rings back to back. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: In a move that continues the longest standing production deal Universal Pictures has ever had in its 100-year history, the studio has extended its deal with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard through 2016. These mega-producer deals have been getting trimmed all over town, though, and the Imagine deal has shifted from an exclusive to a first-look deal. Going forward, Howard will be able to direct more films elsewhere, and Grazer can produce at other studios. He is now producing the upcoming Academy Awards with Don Mischer. The Imagine extension was just finalized by Universal chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley.
The last deal Grazer and Howard made with the studio was set to expire in 2013. Imagine has made around 50 films since the partners first were brought into the Universal in 1986 by Ron Meyer, at the time Grazer’s former agent at CAA and had just transitioned to the top job at Universal. Like every producer-studio relationship, the Universal and Imagine arrangement has been tested in the past few years. The studio said no to The Dark Tower, a feature trilogy and two limited-run TV series adapted from the Stephen King novel series that Howard was to direct, with Javier Bardem starring and Grazer producing with Akiva Goldsman and King. The filmmakers continue to develop the project and expect to make it elsewhere. Universal and Imagine also mutually decided to not go forward with Cartel, a drama that Asger Leth was going to direct. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: NBC continues its aggressive push this development season with early pilot orders. The latest project to get the green light is the comedy starring Sarah Silverman, which the network landed in August after a bidding war with a … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman has signed a two-year exclusive overall deal with HBO. The first project under the pact is an untitled Western drama about Doc Holliday, the famed gambler and gunslinger of the Old West. Feature scribes Adam Cooper and Bill Collage (Accepted) will write the script and will executive produce with Goldsman and his producing partner Kerry Foster. Ron Howard is attached to direct the potential pilot. His father, Rance Howard, will serve as co-producer along with his wife Judy Howard. The project is inspired by Mary Doria Russell’s critically praised novel Doc, which was published in May. Doc Holliday is often portrayed as an ailing sidekick (he died from tuberculosis at age 36), best known for his friendship with Wyatt Earp and his involvement in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (Val Kilmer portrayed him in the movie Tombstone). But the HBO project aims to put Holliday front and center as the series protagonist, an educated Southern gentleman and dentist by trade, thrust into the cruel and violent world of the Old West in order to salvage his ailing health. The series will feature the never-before-explored love triangle between Holliday, his prostitute wife, Kate Elder and best friend, Wyatt Earp — all set against the lawlessness and desperation of a rapidly changing society.
Goldsman describes the project as “all in the family” when it comes to auspices. His partner at Weed Road Foster came upon the source material. Goldsman mentioned the idea to frequent collaborator Ron Howard while the two were discussing their latest project, The Dark Tower. Howard is set to direct and Goldsman is writing the adaptation of the Stephen King’s book series, which is looking for a home as a feature trilogy and an accompanying limited TV series after being put in turnaround by NBCUniversal. Goldsman, who quipped that he is following the rule “work with Ron whenever possible” after his first collaboration with the director, A Beautiful Mind, earned him a writing Oscar, also penned the Howard-directed The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Cinderella Man. Howard expressed interest in the Western TV project, and it turned out that his father, veteran actor Rance Howard, has a fascination with Doc Holliday. So Rance Howard and his wife came on board as co-producers and Ron Howard became attached as director of the potential pilot. (Howard, whose company with Brian Grazer Imagine is very active in TV, has not directed a TV pilot yet.) Meanwhile, Foster’s husband, Adam Cooper, and his writing partner, Bill Collage, came on board to write the Western. Originally, the project was eyed as a mini-series and was pitched as such to HBO. The pay cable network suggested turning it into a series instead. Read More »