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: 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).
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: 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 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.
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.