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Disney, Seth Grahame- Smith Making New Film Of Ray Bradbury’s ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’

Mike Fleming

wickEXCLUSIVE: Disney is making a new version of the classic Ray Bradbury thriller novel Something Wicked This Way Comes. The studio, which turned Bradbury’s novel into a 1983 movie, has set Seth Grahame-Smith to make his feature directorial debut on the project. He will begin work immediately writing a treatment, and the studio then will hire a writer to script the project. Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg’s KatzSmith Productions will be the producing banner and Katzenberg will produce the film.

The novel tells the story of how Mr. Dark, the evil proprietor of a traveling carnival who preys on the residents of a small town by bartering possession of their souls for the dreams each one has. Grahame-Smith said it was his favorite book as a child, but he doesn’t feel the movie is sacrosanct. Although the late Bradbury wrote the script, he later lamented that the movie lost a lot of the book. Grahame-Smith intends to put it back and plug a new generation into the tale. Read More »

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Beware Those Tim Burton-‘Beetlejuice 2’ Ghost Stories

By | Monday October 21, 2013 @ 5:52pm PDT

It’s no secret Tim Burton‘s been plotting a sequel to his Beetlejuice; he’s been talking it up at various press events for two years now since Deadline’s Mike Fleming first reported Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg would be producing the pic for their KatzSmith Productions. So who’s shocked that Burton’s mulling an offer to direct the ghost-with-the-most follow-up for Warner Bros? I’m told even though he’s in very early negotiations on the Grahame-Smith-penned sequel, it won’t be his next film. He’s got Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children set for summer 2015 and is finishing Big Eyes for next August.

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NBC Nabs Futuristic Prison Drama From Seth Grahame-Smith & Greg Berlanti With Put Pilot Commitment

By | Monday August 12, 2013 @ 12:10pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: In a competitive situation, Paradise, a prison drama from hot novelist/feature writer Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and producer Greg Berlanti, has landed at NBC with a put pilot commitment. Written by Grahame-Smith, Paradise is set in the late 21st century in the city of Las Vegas which is now the world’s largest maximum-security prison, known as Paradise. Matthew Turner, M.D., is its newest inmate, convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. Desperate to get back to his family and prove his innocence, Matthew will have to find a strength he never knew he had, and stay alive long enough to do the one thing no inmate has ever done: escape. Paradise hails from Warner Bros. TV and studio-based Berlanti Prods., with Berlanti Prods.’ Greg Berlanti and Melissa Kellner Berman and KatzSmith Prods.’ Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg executive producing. Like Berlanti, Grahame-Smith has a feature deal at Warner Bros. (with partner Katzenberg) and he too is straddling film and television. The two were put together by WME, which reps both. At NBC, Paradise would join another drama about U.S. in the future from Warner Bros. TV and one of the studio’s top producers, J.J. Abrams’ Revolution. Prison dramas have a long history on TV, recently with HBO’s Oz, Fox’s Prison Break and Netflix’s Orange Is The New Black. Read More »

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Warner Bros Makes 7-Figure Deal For Seth Grahame-Smith Novel ‘Unholy Night’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has made a whopping deal to acquire screen rights to Unholy Night, the new novel by Seth Grahame-Smith. Grahame-Smith will write the script, and he and KatzSmith partner David Katzenberg will produce with Heyday Films’ David Heyman and Jeffrey Clifford. I’ve heard that the deal is in the vicinity of $2 million upfront for the rights to the book and for Grahame-Smith to adapt it. The studio got first look at the book, as both KatzSmith and Heyday are based at Warner Bros. That is where Heyman produced the Harry Potter film series and where Grahame-Smith scripted the Tim Burton-directed Dark Shadows. Unholy Night, an action/adventure surrounding the Three Wise Men of the Nativity, will be published in April by Grand Central.

Setting up a film based around the birth of Jesus Christ gives Warner Bros its third high-profile movie based on a seminal religious story. The studio has been discussing the possibility of Steven Spielberg directing Gods And Kings, an epic-sized film about the life of Moses scripted by Michael Green and Stuart Hazeldine. And Warner Bros recently set up a project being scripted by Joe Eszterhas and Mel Gibson (who has first option to direct) about the heroic story of Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee, who teamed with his father and four brothers to lead the Jewish revolt against the Greek-Syrian armies that had conquered Judea in the second century B.C. Maccabee’s triumph and struggle against tyranny and oppression where people gave their lives so that others would be free to worship is celebrated by Jews all over the world through Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Read More »

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Craig Gillespie Exits Lionsgate’s ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Craig Gillespie is exiting Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, becoming the latest filmmaker to walk away from the Lionsgate project. The screen adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel mixes the 1813 Jane Austen classic with a legion of bloodthirsty zombies. So far, the film hasn’t had much luck with directors, or casting for that matter. Gillespie, who directed the critically acclaimed art house film Lars And The Real Girl and followed with Fright Night, came on to the film after Mike White left. White had replaced David O. Russell, who wrote the script. The split here was amicable but had to do with things like who to cast in the film. Casting has been tough on this one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Lionsgate doesn’t look for not only a director but a package from an agency that includes cast as well.

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KatzSmith Duo Makes First-Look Warner Bros Deal; Will Bring ‘Beetlejuice’ Back From Dead

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: KatzSmith Productions partners David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith have just signed a two-year first-look feature producing deal at Warner Bros. While rights are still being worked out, one of their first projects is expected to be a sequel to Beetlejuice, the 1988 Tim Burton-directed hit that starred Michael Keaton as a ghoul hired by a recently deceased couple to drive the new owners out of their house. Burton and Keaton made the movie while they were working on the studio’s first Batman film, which was released the following year. Beetlejuice also starred Alec Baldwin, Winona Ryder and Geena Davis. The film will not be a remake; the intention is to reboot it by advancing the storyline of the original, which was done by The Geffen Company and Warner Bros.

The Warner Bros producing deal grew from the screenwriting work that Grahame-Smith did for Burton on Dark Shadows, currently in production with Johnny Depp heading the cast. While Warner Bros and other studios continue to cut back producing pacts, in KatzSmith the studio gets two partners who while just getting started producing features bring a lot of their own ideas to the table and are established writers and aspiring feature directors.

“We first got to know Seth through his fantastic work on Dark Shadows, and it immediately became a priority to expand our relationship with … Read More »

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MTV Cancels ‘Hard Times Of RJ Berger’

By | Friday August 12, 2011 @ 3:08pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

It was the first of MTV’s new generation of scripted series. Now The Hard Times of RJ Berger has been canceled after two seasons, series co-creator Seth Grahame-Smith tweeted earlier today. The series, which Grahame-Smith co-created with David Katzenberg, launched with 2.8 million viewers last year when it aired after the MTV Movie Awards. Its second-season premiere hit a series high of 3.1 million viewers airing behind Jersey Shore. But by the end of the second-season run in May, the series’ viewership had dropped below 1 million. RJ Berger, which stars Paul Iacono as a well-endowed high-school student, is the second MTV scripted series to be canceled following the axing of Skins after one season. Teen Wolf has been renewed for a second season, and new comedy Awkward appears a lock for a second-season renewal after hitting a series high in persons 12-34 this week. Coming up is the premiere of Death Valley on Aug. 29 and a post-Video Music Awards sneak of I Just Want My Pants Back, and the October launch of animated comedies Beavis and Butt-head and Good Vibes. The Inbetweeners is in production for a 2012 debut.

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Fox Acquires Comedy Spec From Its ‘Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter’ Scribe

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox has acquired the spec From Mia With Love, a John Hughes-style comedy written by Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Bryan Shukoff and Kevin Chesley. Katzenberg will direct, and he and Grahame-Smith will produce under their Katsmith Productions banner. Grahame-Smith adapted his novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, which is being directed for the studio by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Tim Burton.

The coming-of-age comedy is a mix of Risky Business and Weird Science. Some plot elements could change, but the pitched premise had three guys so desperate to lose their virginity that they order up a Russian mail-order bride, figuring they can send her back. She is smoking hot but arrives with baggage and no plans to bed the lads, though she helps the trio become more suitable mating material.

Katzenberg’s directing experience includes episodes of The Hard Times Of R.J. Berger, the MTV show the duo exec produce. Deal comes as Grahame-Smith, who also authored Pride And Prejudice And Zombies and scripted Dark Shadows, works on his next novel. The concept is under wraps, but it is his first book under a three-book deal with Grand Central, and he will write the movie script simultaneously. The four scribes are repped by WME; Shukoff and Chesley are additionally repped by Madhouse Entertainment.

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Craig Gillespie Set To Direct ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’

Mike Fleming

Lionsgate has made it official. Craig Gillespie has been set to direct Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the movie adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that mixes the 1813 Jane Austen classic with a legion of bloodthirsty zombies. Gillespie, who directed the critically acclaimed art house film Lars and the Real Girl, most recently directed the Fright Night remake that stars Colin Farrell. Deadline told you that Gillespie was the front-runner in early February and that he would be getting the gig earlier this month. This has been one of the hotter genre titles around, and the hope here is that this takes care of the film’s commitment issues and that Lionsgate has found the filmmaker who’ll make the movie. David O. Russell had been attached to the project, and turned in a script that everybody likes before dropping out. He was replaced by Mike White, who dropped out in January, citing commitments to an HBO pilot. Natalie Portman is producing through her handsomecharlie shingle with Annette Savitch, who arranged for Darko Entertainment to acquire screen rights from Quirk Books. Darko’s Richard Kelly, Sean McKittrick and Ted Hamm will also produce. UTA reps Gillespie.

“We are so excited to have Craig Gillespie on board this film,” said Alli Shearmur, Lionsgate president of Motion Picture Production. “His sensibility spans from genre-bending horror to elegant character-driven comedy, which is perfect for this movie.”

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‘World War Z’ With Brad Pitt And Marc Forster Regroups; Can It Beat Imminent Zombie Pic Infestation?

Mike Fleming

While there have been reports that Paramount might kill World War Z because of a $125 million budget and no partners, I’m hearing that hot and heavy talks are going on with David Ellison’s Skydance and as many as two other financiers to share the load on a movie that is gearing up for production as soon as June. The plan remains for Brad Pitt to star and for Marc Forster to direct the adaptation Max Brooks’ novel World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War.  The book looked at the aftermath of a global zombie war 10 years after the conflict, with a researcher for the UN Postwar Commission interviewing survivors in countries that were decimated by flesh eaters. It was thorough, and a thoroughly creepy read. Matt Carnahan wrote the script.

The temptation is to joke about the irony of a zombie project coming back to life after it was pronounced near dead. As a devotee of great zombie movies from George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, Zack Snyder’s  spirited Dawn of the Dead remake and genre spoofs Zombieland and Shaun Of The Dead, I am excited enough by WWZ that I hope it stays on its fast track. Because if it waits around much longer, Hollywood might by that time have killed off the genre with an … Read More »

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Craig Gillespie Frontrunner For ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’

Mike Fleming

Fright Night director Craig Gillespie is front runner to direct Pride And Prejudice and Zombies, the Lionsgate adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel. No deal yet, Lionsgate says. Mike White had the job but  dropped out because of a scheduling conflict. Before that, David O Russell was the director, but before he left, he wrote a killer script that’s had other directors circling.

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Honest Abe? Joaquin Phoenix Mulls Acting Return in Fox’s ‘Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Joaquin Phoenix is the front-runner to play the mentor who teaches the 16th President how to kill bloodsuckers in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for 20th Century Fox. Phoenix has met on the project and I’m told that it’s his if he wants it. He would join Benjamin Walker, who last Thursday was set to play the title character in the Timur Bekmambetov-directed adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel whose producers include Tim Burton. It’s an encouraging sign that the fine actor might be returning to form after a surreal detour in I’m Still Here, the mockumentary directed by his brother-in-law Casey Affleck that purported to be Phoenix’s attempt to build a career as a rapper. While both Phoenix and Affleck initially maintained the docu was legit, they later acknowledged it was an artistic ruse. It was a waste of his considerable talent. From Gladiator, To Die For to We Own the Night and Walk the Line, Phoenix consistently turns in fascinating performances and this is a showy return role. The role is Henry, a mythic, ageless figure who turns Lincoln into an axe-throwing expert slayer of vampires. The pic’s produced by Bekmambetov, Tim Burton and Jim Lemley. Phoenix is cagey and could decide not to go forward. Stay turned to see if his deal makes. WME reps Phoenix.

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Actors Testing For Abe in ‘Vampire Hunter’

EXCLUSIVE: There are few hotter projects in Hollywood right now than Twentieth Century Fox’s macabre 3D Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter based on the Seth Grahame-Smith novel (he also wrote the script) that will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Timur, Tim Burton, and Jim Lemley. The studio has set a June 22, 2012 release for the film and has been focused on casting since November. Now we can tell you the list of actors who’ll be screentesting for the role of young Abe Lincoln this week and next: Benjamin Walker, James D’Arcy, Adrien Brody, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, and Josh Lucas. It’s a very interesting mix of semi-knowns and unknowns, stage and screen vets.

Twentieth won the project after a hard fought auction that included Sony and Paramount and Universal and Summit. Bekmambetov and Burton liked it so much they used their own money to option the book earlier this year, and Fox had existing relationships with both filmmakers – Timur dating back to when the studio talent-spotted him in Russia and released his first movie Night Watch worldwide. The movie is a 3D re-imagining of Lincoln’s life that depicts the 16th president as an axe-throwing, highly accomplished killer of vampires Read More »

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Mike White Sinks Teeth Into ‘Pride And Prejudice And Zombies’

Mike Fleming

Lionsgate has closed a deal with Mike White to direct Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the adaptation of the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that spices up Jane Austen’s time-tested 1813 literary classic with a smattering of flesh-eating walking corpses. David O. Russell stepped out but left behind a script that had filmmakers salivating for the job. White got the formal offer on November 5. Lionsgate can now get busy on casting Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy, and the other characters in the Austen tale. Russell originally had Natalie Portman interested in playing the female lead, but she left the project some time ago as actress, though she is producing through her handsomecharlie banner with Annette Savich, and Darko Entertainment. When she left, Russell wanted Scarlett Johansson and Bradley Cooper. Unclear if they’ll stay, particularly as Johansson was in contention for several other high profile films that were casting up before landing the female lead opposite Matt Damon in the Cameron Crowe-directed We Bought A Zoo.

White, who scripted School of Rock, made his feature directing debut on Year of the Dog. He is repped by UTA.

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EXCLUSIVE: Johnny Depp To Start ‘Dark Shadows’ In April With Tim Burton Directing

It’s star Johnny Depp’s and Tim Burton’s hotly anticipated next collaboration and movie. Seth Grahame-Smith, who made his Hollywood entry writing novels that put a macabre twist to literary classics and historical figures, recently snagged the high profile job of writing the new draft of the 1960s gothic daytime serial featuring the juicy role of vampire Barnabas Collins whom Depp has had a long obsession wanting to play. The film has been slated to begin production in January but today was pushed back to April. Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and Graham King’s GK Films are producing along with Dick Zanuck. (It’s Zanuck’s 6th collaboration with Tim Burton.)

Warner Bros has been trying for several years to get to the starting line on this movie adaptation of the TV series that ran on ABC from 1966-1971 and had legions of fans frightened by the moody and atmospheric storyline. (Tim Burton May Push Back ‘Dark Shadows’ Start Date) Barnabas Collins (played by Jonathan Frid) was the central figure in the groundbreaking supernatural soap. Warner Bros purchased the film rights to the TV series from the estate of Dan Curtis (the creator, producer and director of Dark Shadows). As for Tim Burton’s version, John August was the first writer hired to script the project. Grahame-Smith got the job on the basis of his own bestselling novel, Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Read More »

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Fox Sets ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ For 2012

Mike Fleming

20th Century Fox didn’t waste time after buying the screen package Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the Seth Grahame-Smith novel that will be directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Timur, Tim Burton and Jim Lemley. The studio has set a June 22, 2012 release for the film, which has a script by Grahame-Smith and is casting now.

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Seth Grahame-Smith On ‘Dark Shadows’ As Tim Burton Pic Gets Closer To Start Date With Johnny Depp As Vampire Barnabas

Mike Fleming

dark2 shadowsEXCLUSIVE: Seth Grahame-Smith, who made his Hollywood entry  writing novels that put a macabre twist to literary classics and historical figures, has just snagged the high profile job of writing the new draft of Dark Shadows. The Tim Burton-directed adaptation of the 60s daytime serial will star Johnny Depp  as the vampire Barnabas Collins. The film is slated to begin production in January at  Warner Bros. Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and Graham King’s GK Films are producing.

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Warner Bros has been trying for several years to get to the starting line on the movie adaptation of the TV series that  ran on ABC from 1966-71 and had legions of fans frightened by the moody and atmospheric storyline. (Tim Burton May Push Back ‘Dark Shadows’ Start Date) Barnabas Collins (played by Jonathan Frid) was the central figure in the groundbreaking supernatural soap. As for Tim Burton’s version, John August was the first writer hired to script the project, based on the Dan Curtis-created characters. Grahame-Smith will be writing a new take under Burton. He got the job on the basis of his own bestselling novel, Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Burton and Timur Bekmambetov bought that project out of their own money as producers, and I hear that Bekmambetov is likely to make the film his next directing effort…. Read More »

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