BREAKING: In a move that has been rumored now for two months, former Universal Pictures EVP Dylan Clark has joined Scott Stuber‘s Bluegrass Films as a partner who’ll oversee film and television. It reunites the duo, who worked together from 2001-2005 when Stuber was Universal vice chairman. Clark had been developing films as a producer since leaving Chernin Entertainment, where he helped reboot a franchise with Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. The move follows the exit of Pam Abdy from Bluegrass to take the president post at New Regency. “Dylan is the perfect fit for the company,” said Stuber. “We have a great working relationship and have been friends for a long time and I can’t think of a better person to help Bluegrass Films continue to grow.” Clark takes the post as Stuber readies Seth MacFarlane’s Ted followup A Million Ways To Die In The West, Kill The Messenger and Ted 2, which starts production in Spring 2014.
EXCLUSIVE: NBC is developing a contender for it Friday supernatural block anchored by Grimm, which is currently paired with Dracula. It hails from Dracula executive producer/head writer Daniel Knauf and is based on Universal Pictures’ Scott Stuber-produced 2010 feature The Wolfman starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, which in turn was a remake of the 1941 movie. The WolfMan is one of two projects Knauf has at NBC, along with a supernatural telenovela produced by Electus that is part of the company’s 3-for-1 telenovela deal at NBC, intended to result in a 13-episode order.
The WolfMan, produced by Universal Pictures sibling Universal TV and Stuber’s studio-based Bluegrass Films & TV, is described as a supernatural thriller that explores what it means to be a man and to be human. It centers on Lawrence Talbot, who is afflicted by an ancient curse and jacks into the powerful, primordial soul of the alpha-predator (watch the trailer for the 2010 movie below). Knauf is writing and executive producing with Stuber and Quan Phung. Bluegrass also has a comedy at NBC with writer Will Calhoun.
The untitled telenovela is an original concept that chronicles the ruthless supernatural machinations of the six governesses of an exclusive Hancock Park women’s club, the true powers behind every throne in The City of Angels. Knauf is writing and will exec produce with Electus’ Ben Silverman and Jimmy …
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Stuber’s Bluegrass Films has set Parkland writer-director Peter Landesman to rewrite and direct Down By The River, an espionage revenge thriller inspired by Charles Bowden’s nonfiction book. Landesman will come on to rewrite a script by Henry Bean.
Landesman and Naomi Despres brought the project to Stuber as the same time as Kill the Messenger, the story of how investigative journalist Gary Webb uncovered CIA complicity in bringing crack to U.S. cities and then destroyed the reputation of Webb, who committed suicide in 2004. Michael Cuesta directed the film for Focus Features with Jeremy Renner playing Webb. Stuber produced with Despres and Renner, while Landesman and Pamela Abdy are exec producers.
Universal, Scott Stuber Acquire ‘Sleepaway Camp For Postmodern Cowboys’; Who’ll Get J.K. Rowling’s ‘Cuckoo’s Calling’?
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and producer Scott Stuber are optioning “Sleepaway Camp For Postmodern Cowboys”, an article by Josh Eells that was published in the July 19 issue of The New York Times Magazine. It describes a competition staged at King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center in Jordan that pits elite international forces against each other in contests to establish supremacy. The countries competing ranged from America to China, and numerous others. It turns into one giant bonding session as the warriors find common ground with one another. CAA brokered the deal.
It is about that time when the town checks out until Toronto, but this was one of two literary properties that got multiple studio bids this week. Another that just about every studio is chasing is The Cuckoo’s Calling, the mystery by Robert Galbraith that sold few copies and received a pass from at least one studio before it became public that the writer was Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.
Oliver Platt, Andy Garcia, Tim Blake Nelson Round Out Cast Of Scott Stuber-Produced ‘Kill The Messenger’
Production has begun in Atlanta, Georgia on Kill the Messenger. Focus Features holds worldwide theatrical rights to the true-life dramatic thriller, which will be released in 2014. Focus CEO James Schamus and co-CEO Andrew Karpen made the announcement today.
Two-time Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner stars as Gary Webb, the real-life dedicated reporter for The San Jose Mercury-News. In the 1990s, Webb uncovered the Central Intelligence Agency’s role in importing cocaine into California that was sold to raise money for the Nicaraguan Contras rebel army. Supported by his wife and children, Webb pursued the story and went public with his evidence. When targeted for a vicious smear campaign by the CIA and rival journalists, Webb found himself fighting for his reputation and his family.
Joining Mr. Renner in the cast are Josh Close (of The Master), Rosemarie DeWitt (Rachel Getting Married), Academy Award nominee Andy Garcia, Lucas Hedges (Focus’ Moonrise Kingdom), Tim Blake Nelson (Lincoln), Robert Patrick (True Blood), Emmy Award winner Barry Pepper, Screen Actors Guild Award nominee Oliver Platt, Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon), Paz Vega (I’m So Excited!), Michael Kenneth Williams (Boardwalk Empire), and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (The Spectacular Now).
Universal And Scott Stuber Acquire ‘Weaponized’; ‘Safe House’ Scribe David Guggenheim Adapting Novel He Co-Wrote
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has closed a deal to turn the David Guggenheim and Nicholas Mennuti novel Weaponized into a feature with Scott Stuber producing through his Bluegrass Films banner. Guggenheim, who wrote Safe House for the studio and Stuber, will adapt the novel he co-authored. Deal was high six-figures for the book and seven-figures factoring in Guggenheim’s scripting fee.
The novel, to be published by the Little Brown suspense imprint Mulholland Books on July 30, is a thriller set in Southeast Asia. A wanted man having fled the U.S. to escape charges exchanges passports with another American tourist. Bad things result. There is a bit of topicality to the NSA-surveillance back story and the exiled protagonist, given recent developments involving Edward Snowden.
Stuber is coming off Identity Thief and Ted, and he’s producing the Michael Cuesta-directed Kill The Messenger with Jeremy Renner, and the Seth MacFarlane-directed A Million Ways To Die In The West. His exec Alexa Faigen will oversee the project with Uni’s Sara Scott. Deal comes as Guggenheim and Stuber are currently working on a sequel to the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds 2012 thriller Safe House, and Black Box.
Weaponized marks Guggenheim’s debut as a novelist. His other scripting projects include Lionsgate’s Puzzle Palace and Fox’s Narco Sub. He’s repped by Paradigm, manager Adam Kolbrenner of Madhouse Entertainment and attorney Jamie Afifi. Mennuti is represented by Jonah Straus of Straus Literary.
Cupid’s annual arrow barrage will suit Hollywood just fine next year: Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday in 2014, and Universal today slotted its remake of Endless Love for that ultimate date night. The drama stars Alex Pettyfer and Gabriella Wilde in the roles played by Martin Hewitt and Brooke Shields in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1981 film. The Shana Feste-helmed update will have a third wheel on its opening weekend in the form of another ’80s remake, Sony/Screen Gems’ About Last Night. Fox also will target couples-fueled cash will its sci-fi thriller The Maze Runner while the Weinstein Company deploys its franchise-hopeful Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters.
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks just closed a deal for Las Madres, a comic pitch for a script that will be written by Lona Williams. Scott Stuber will produce. The logline: Three friends, who have recently found themselves unemployed, decide their only chance at economic opportunity in today’s market is to go after a criminal with a reward for his capture. Williams, who started as an assistant on The Simpsons and Roseanne and who has worked as writer and producer on such films as Drop Dead Gorgeous and Shark Tale, is currently writing Boy Scouts Vs. Zombies. She’s repped by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired an untitled family comedy pitch from scribes Brian Gatewood and Alex Tanaka that will be developed as a star vehicle for Vince Vaughn. The film will be produced by Scott Stuber and his Bluegrass Films banner and Vaughn and his Wild West Picture Show banner.
Both of those producing shingles are based at Universal, and this marks the third collaboration between Stuber and Vaughn. They also teamed on The Break-Up and Couples Retreat. Vaughn stars next with Wedding Crashers co-star Owen Wilson in the Shawn Levy-directed The Internship, which Vaughn’s Wild West Picture Show produced and which Vaughn co-wrote.
Stuber has had the hot hand in comedy lately. He produced the last two comedies to make over $100 million domestically, with the Seth MacFarlane-directed Ted and the Jason Bateman/Melissa McCarthy comedy Identity Thief. After Ted became the highest grossing R-rated comedy in history, Stuber has reteamed with MacFarlane for A Million Ways To Die In The West. MacFarlane co-wrote the laffer and stars in it with Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson. Stuber and MacFarlane are also working on a Ted sequel. Vaughn’s repped by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures and producer Scott Stuber have optioned the Derek Haas spy thriller novel The Right Hand. Haas and his right hand man, screenwriting partner Michael Brandt, are set to adapt the book as a feature, and they will produce with Stuber. The book was chased by multiple producers and financiers, who responded to a trailer generated for the book.
The scribes’ credits include Wanted, 2 Fast 2 Furious and 3:10 To Yuma, and Brandt and Haas just launched their NBC series creation Chicago Fire.
The Right Hand is the fourth novel that Haas has written, and it will be released November 13 by Mulholland Books. The novel focuses on Austin Clay, a spy whose work is so covert that the government won’t even admit he exists. And yet he executes necessary missions. Here, he is sent to track down a missing American operative, who was captured in the Russian countryside. This leads Clay into a conspiracy that involves a mole that has penetrated the top levels of U.S. government. Damien Saccani will be executive producer.
Said Haas: “I’m thrilled The Right Hand is in the hands of Scott Stuber and Universal, with whom Michael and I have had incredible movie experiences. We love that after readers get a chance to discover this spy thriller in November, we’ll get to bring it …
NBC has added two more projects to its drama development roster hailing from Universal TV and two of its pods: a soapy drama from writer Patricia Resnick (9 To 5) and Scott Stuber‘s Bluegrass TV, and a high-concept drama from up-and-coming writer Moira McMahon Leeper and Peter Traugott‘s TBD Prods.
Resnick’s project is described as a semi-autobiographical drama with comedic overtones set around the professional and private lives of the harried staff of a formerly famous novelist suffering from decades-long writer’s block. The hire of an ambitious young writer as the author’s new personal assistant sets off seismic shifts throughout the already unsteady household. Stuber, Quan Phung and Jonathan Baruch executive produce. The project reunites Resnick, repped by Rain Management and Sandy Weinberg, with NBC chairman Bob Greenblatt. In addition to co-writing the 1980 movie 9 To 5 starring Dolly Parton, she also co-wrote with Parton the Broadway musical, which was produced by Greenblatt. It is now on a UK tour en route to the West End.
McMahon Leeper’s Maddox is about a family that moves into an idyllic community where medicine and technology are the closest thing we have to utopia. That is, until they begin to suspect that something darker might be afoot. Lisa Zwerling is supervising the script and executive producing with Traugott and Rachel Kaplan. Kapital Entertainment’s Aaron Kaplan also is executive producing. McMahon Leeper, …
Gordon Ramsay & Scott Stuber To Produce NBC Restaurant Drama From ‘Memphis Beat’ Creators, Michael Mayer To Direct
EXCLUSIVE: Producer Scott Stuber (Ted) is teaming with TV chef Gordon Ramsay for The Inferno, an NBC drama project set in a restaurant. It was created by Liz Garcia and Josh Harto, creators of TNT’s underrated dramedy Memphis Beat, with Smash director Michael Mayer attached to direct. I hear Inferno landed at NBC in a competitive situation with Fox, home of Gordon’s unscripted series Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares and Hotel Hell.
The Inferno is described as a dark, operatic drama about two fledgling New York restaurateurs who, on the eve of bankruptcy, decide to hire a magnetic, fiery, larger-than-life mysterious Italian chef. His arrival changes these best friends’ fortunes by making their restaurant the talk of the town, giving them everything they’ve ever wanted — but at a terrible cost. While the setup could evoke Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, in which he helps failing restaurants, and foul-mouthed Ramsay too can be described as fiery and larger-than-life, the character in Inferno is not based on him, though he is expected to contribute with stories from his experiences.
Universal TV is producing Inferno with Stuber’s studio-based Bluegrass Television as well as Ramsay’s One Potato, Two Potato. Executive producing are Garcia, Harto, Mayer, Bluegrass’ Stuber and Quan Phung, and One Potato’s Ramsay …
The Order is a group of young men collared by the Vatican to join an elite team that travels the globe battling mysterious evil forces. Stuber will produce with Benderspink, and the project will be overseen by Michael Clear and Nick Nesbitt for Bluegrass Films and Jake Weiner and Christopher Cosmos for Benderspink. Sean O’Reilly of Arcana will serve as an executive producer.
Stuber’s coming off Ted and just wrapped the Seth Gordon-directed Identity Thief with Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman starring, and he’s producing the Carl Rinsch-directed 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves starring. Benderspink is in post-production on the Steve Carell-Jim Carrey comedy The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and is in production on We’re The Millers, The Hangover Part III and Ride Along. Nathanson is repped by CAA and Mosaic.
Universal Pictures and producer Scott Stuber are gearing up for a remake of Endless Love, the 1981 Franco Zefirelli-directed film about obsessive teenage love that starred Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt, and which launched the movie career of Tom Cruise in a small role. Shana Feste, who helmed Country Strong, is aboard to helm the new version, which seems like a good venue to break new talent. Question: in this period where Hollywood is in endless love with remakes, are they green lighting anything these days that is not a remake of a so-so movie from the 80s or even more recently? What really sucks is that I remember all these movies when they opened in their original forms. Maybe it’s a depressing sign of aging. Still, it seems like studios are going to well on these things faster and faster, as happened with Amazing Spider-Man and this weekend’s Total Recall. Does anybody out there have an original idea?
Feste will rewrite an earlier draft by Josh Safran, and Stuber and Pam Abdy of Bluegrass Films will produce with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage of Fake Empire. Tracy Falco will exec produce.
EXCLUSIVE: TV Land has given cast-contingent orders to two new comedy pilots, the single-camera I’m Not Dead Yet from Ben Silverman’s Electus and the multi-camera Brothers-In-Law, executive produced by Scott Stuber. I’m Not Dead, based on the DBS-produced Israeli format Zanzuri, marks TV Land’s first single-camera pilot. Written by Jon Sherman (Frasier), it is about a man who finds out that he has a rare heart condition that could cause him to die at any moment and decides to finally start speaking his mind and live life to the fullest. Silverman is executive producing, with Electus’ Jimmy Fox co-executive producing.
Written and executive produced by comedy veterans Bill Martin and Mike Schiff (3rd Rock From The Sun), who will serve as showrunners, Brothers-In-Law revolves around the family dynamic between a husband and the eccentric fiancé of his wife’s twin sister, who have nothing in common but the sisters constantly force them to bond. Stuber is executive producing, with his development executive Quan Phung producing. “With these pilot orders, TV Land continues down a path to build its own library of original sitcoms that will be paired up with some of the best sitcoms ever made,” said TV Land president Larry W. Jones. “This year, we are expanding beyond the multi-camera format — which has been so successful for us — to include one single-camera project.”
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired the Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel novel Lunatics, with Steve Carell attached to star. The film will be produced by Scott Stuber and Pam Abdy of Stuber Pictures and Carell and his Carousel partners Vance DeGeneres and Charlie Hartsock.
The Barry-Zweibel collaboration is two New Jersey soccer dads whose minor feud escalates to create worldwide consequences, and leave them running for their lives. Barry and Zweibel will adapt their novel, which will be published by Putnam in January. Carell will play Philip Horkman, the owner of a pet store who refs kids soccer games on Sundays, and there he meets an irate soccer dad who triggers the misadventures. Carell, who’s repped by WME and Media Four, will start filming Burt Wonderstone with Jim Carrey in January for New Line and Warner Bros. Zweibel, who’s writing an HBO comedy pilot vehicle for Penny Marshall, was repped by Paradigm, and CAA reps Barry. Their lit agent is Writer’s House.
Stuber is readying the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds drama Safe House, and also wrapped Battleship, and the Seth MacFarlane-directed Ted and is currently producing the Keanu Reeves-starrer 47 Ronin.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has quietly dropped out of Clue, one of the seven Hasbro games properties the studio contracted to make into movies in a ground-breaking six-year exclusive deal signed in 2008. Clue becomes the third project out of seven to be dropped by Universal (Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering were also kicked to the curb), but none of those projects are dead. In the case of the murder mystery board game Clue, Hasbro is funding the development and producing the film with Gore Verbinski’s Blind Wink. Verbinski, director of the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, Rango and the upcoming Lone Ranger, still plans to direct Clue, and he and Blind Wink’s John Krauss are producing with Hasbro’s Brian Goldner and Bennett Schneir.
They’ve just hired Flash Gordon scribes Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama to write the Clue script. The writers will draft a take that Verbinski and his fellow producers came up with that retains the murder mystery spirit of the board game, but broadens the setting to a global stage. Beyond scripting Flash Gordon for Sony Pictures, Sharpless and Sazama are redrafting Dracula Year Zero. That project’s still hanging on at Universal, after being halted just short of the start line because of a high budget, when Alex Proyas was directing and Sam Worthington was going to star. ICM reps the writers.
Is all this a clue that Universal no longer wants to roll the dice on board game movies? Insiders say no. Rather, they tell me that Universal and Hasbro gradually narrowed their focus to the four films that most made sense for the studio: Battleship, the Peter Berg-directed summer 2012 action movie that stars Taylor Kitsch and Liam Neeson, with Universal just releasing its first trailer (below); Stretch Armstrong, which has Rob Letterman directing and Twilight Saga’s Taylor Lautner attached to play the rubbery title character; Candy Land, which is being written by Kung Fu Panda 2 co-writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger, who’ve described the film as Lord of the Rings, with edibles; and Ouija, which has McG attached to direct and Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form producing with Ian Bryce and Hasbro’s Goldner and Schneir.
Dodgeball director Rawson Thurber is rewriting The Umbrella Academy for Universal Pictures, based on the 2008 Eisner Award-winning Dark Horse comic written by My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way. Mark Bomback wrote the first draft.
The comic revolves around an adopted dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers who are brought together by a mentor. As children, they defeat the Eiffel Tower when it’s turned into a laser-spewing structure by a zombie robot. In later installments of the comic, the kids disband but reunite as adults after their mentor is killed.
It’s the second Dark Horse property at Universal, which will begin production on RIPD in September. Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson will produce with Scott Stuber and his Stuber Films banner. Pam Abdy will oversee the project for Stuber and also produce. The author and Dark Horse’s Keith Goldberg are executive producers. Thurber’s repped by CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: While the outbreak of zombie and vampire films has been well chronicled, Hollywood has also become flush with Frankenstein films. The latest is an adaptation of the Peter Ackroyd novel The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, which has just gotten Pulitzer-winning Proof playwright David Auburn signed to write the script. The project is set with RT Features, and Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert’s Ghost House Pictures. The story covers the youthful days of Frankenstein, who begins experimenting with corpses, influenced by the outspoken English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose Mary wrote the book. She’s a character in the film as well. RT Features’ Rodrigo Teixeira will produce with Tapert and Ilene Staple, while Fernando Loureiro, Jeff Vespa and Ghost House’s Nathan Kahane and Lawrence Grey will be exec producers.
That’s just one of several Frankenflicks. Universal is developing a new version of the 1931 studio classic movie with Guillermo del Toro and Scott Stuber; Summit Entertainment is developing This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, an adaptation of the Kenneth Oppel novel that is being produced by Twilight Saga’s Karen Rosenfelt; and Columbia Pictures and producer Matt Tomach recently acquired Frankenstein, a contemporary re-telling of the famous tale based on a pitch by Craig Fernandez. If that’s not enough, former Guns n Roses guitar hero Slash, whose Slasher Films is teamed with Scout Productions on a Jay Russell-attached Wake the Dead, a Frankenstein tale based on the graphic novel by Steve Niles (30 Days of Night). And let’s not forget Fox 2000’s remake of the 1975 camp classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, last heard from around Halloween, when the studio courted Glee’s Ryan Murphy, right after he wrapped an episode devoted to the original movie.