EXCLUSIVE: 47 Ronin and The Wolverine star Hiroyuki Sanada has been tapped to join Ian McKellen in A Slight Trick of the Mind, the drama about an aging Sherlock Holmes that Bill Condon is directing this summer in London. Sanada will play Umezaki, a Prickly Ash plant enthusiast who Holmes (McKellen) visits in Japan. He joins McKellen and Laura Linney as Holmes’ housekeeper, who with her young son is regaled with the tale of the unsolved mystery that ended Holmes’ career.
Two and a half months before Elementary premieres on CBS, the pilot screened to a packed ballroom here at Comic-Con and it was all about the woman. Lucy Liu to be specific. The actress and her casting as Joan Watson in the Sherlock Holmes modernization attracted a lot of attention when it was announced in February. But to today’s applauding Comic-Con crowd Liu, who plays a sober companion to the recovering addict Holmes, seemed as natural to the Holmes iconography as the Facebook, cell phone records, drug addiction and New York Mets references in the pilot. It continued during the panel that followed. “We love you” cried out a fan at the back of the hall as Liu responded to an audience question concerning criticism about her casting. “I think the gender change creates a dynamic and chemistry that you don’t see in the films and the BBC series,” said Liu earlier to applause, “I’m not saying it’s romantic but it’s little bit of tingle.” Liu and Elementary’s Holmes, Jonny Lee Miller, were joined on the panel by executive producers Robert Doherty and Carl Beverly. “Lucy was hired because she’s a great actor,” said Beverly to big cheers. Doherty told the crowd that turning Watson into a woman was an essential part of his version of the detective but not to …
Kelly Reilly has joined the Hilary Brougher-directed vampire film Innocence, adopted from Jane Mendelsohn’s 2000 teen novel with a screenplay by Tristine Skyler. Innocence centers on a moody teenager who discovers her elite private school is home to a vampire gang. Reilly, who appears in the Sherlock Holmes franchise as Dr. Watson’s wife Mary and recently wrapped Robert Zemeckis’ Flight with Denzel Washington, plays a school nurse with a dark side. The film is produced by Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler’s Killer Films along with Bankside Films. Reilly is repped by ICM and by Troika in the UK.
The name is Watson, Joan Watson. Lucy Liu is set to play Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick in CBS’ drama pilot Elementary, whose tweaks to Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic include switching Watson’s gender to female. The project, written by Robert Doherty, is set in present day and stars Jonny Lee Miller as eccentric Brit Sherlock Holmes, a former consultant to Scotland Yard whose addiction problems led him to a rehab center in New York City. Just out of rehab, Holmes now lives in Brooklyn with “sober companion” Joan Watson (Liu), a former surgeon who lost her license after a patient died, while consulting for the NYPD. Michael Cuesta is directing the pilot, produced by CBS TV Studios and Timberman/Beverly. Ally McBeal alumna Liu, who had 2 pilots vying for her, is recurring on the current season of the TNT cop drama Southland and will next be seen in the feature Man With The Iron Fists.
EXCLUSIVE: CBS’s Sherlock Holmes reboot Elementary has solved its first big mystery — who will play the famous detective. Former Eli Stone star Jonny Lee Miller has been tapped as the lead of the project, a modern take on the cases of Sherlock Holmes who now lives in New York City. Robert Doherty wrote the script and is executive producing the CSB TV Studios pilot with Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. Michael Cuesta is on board to direct. Following his stint as the title character on the ABC drama series Eli Stone, British actor Miller did an arc on Dexter. He most recently starred in Danny Boyle’s stage version of Frankenstein in London, a role that earned him a best actor Evening Standard Theatre Award. He shared it with his co-lead Benedict Cumberbatch who coincidentally plays Holmes on BBC’s much lauded series Sherlock, a modern update of Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic set in London. Miller, repped by IFA and Independent Talent Group, will next be seen in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows and Neil Jordan’s Byzantium.
Robert Downey Jr. Asks Hollywood To ‘Forgive’ Mel Gibson While Accepting American Cinematheque Award
The American Cinematheque tribute to Robert Downey Jr last night held might have been unthinkable just a few years ago when the actor was hopelessly hooked on drugs, destroying his career and winding up in prison. But if there is anything Hollywood loves, it is redemption – and a second (or third or fourth) chance. That’s something Downey received and ran with largely thanks to his wife Susan who put him on the right course and hasn’t let him fall off since. With a hot career thanks to a second Oscar nomination for Tropic Thunder and blockbuster franchises like Iron Man and Sherlock Holmes, Downey not only turned around his career, he fixed his life and now he’s reaping the rewards as evidenced by the great turnout on Friday night at the Beverly Hilton. But the evening took a serious turn when Downey made an impassioned plea to Hollywood to “forgive” his friend Mel Gibson who was on hand to present him with the award. “Unless you are without sin – and if you are, you are in the wrong [expletive] industry, you should forgive him and let him work,” Downey said to much applause.
The undisputed highlight of the night came when previously unannounced guest Mel Gibson appeared. Gibson and Downey Jr co-starred in Air America and Gibson’s unwavering support of Downey during his darkest hours was well-documented at the time. Gibson brought up Downey to accept the award to a standing ovation and said, “He taught me many things and I will use the ‘C’ word, courage. There’s nothing so much wrong with him. Of course you have to worry about the guy making the judgement here. He’s a good dude with a good heart.”
“This is my fuckin’ time,” Downey said. “Mel and I have the same lawyer, same publicist and same shrink. I couldn’t get hired and he cast me. He said if I accepted responsibility – he called it hugging the cactus – long enough, my life would take meaning. And if he helped me, I would help the next guy. But it was not reasonable to assume the next guy would be him.” Downey then went to on to hug Gibson and urge people to let Mel continue his career without shame.
It was a star-studded event, to be sure. Jack Black called Downey a “stone cold stud muffin” while Michael Douglas (looking great) said working with Robert Downey Jr on The Wonder Boys was “something special.
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of Sherlock Holmes getting a successful contemporary makeover in features with the Robert Downey Jr.-starring franchise, and on public television with Masterpiece Theater’s Sherlock, the famous 19th century British detective is headed for a commercial TV series update. CBS has bought Sherlock Holmes, a drama project from CBS TV Studios and studio-based Timberman/Beverly Prods., which is described as a modern take on the cases of the pipe-smoking private eye created by Arthur Conan Doyle. Rob Doherty is writing and will executive produce with Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. Timberman/Beverly has 2 new series on CBS this fall, Unforgettable and A Gifted Man.
In other CBS buys, the network has put in development Mommy-Track Mysteries, a series adaptation of Ayelet Waldman’s comedic series of books about Juliet Applebaum, a public defender turned stay-at-home-mom and private investigator. Waldman will write the adaptation, with Jennifer Levin and Sherri Cooper serving as non-writing executive producers. The Mommy-Track Mysteries series includes 6 novels: The Big Nap (2001), A Playdate With Death (2002), Death Gets a Time-Out (2003), Murder Plays House (2004), The Cradle Robbers (2005) and Bye-Bye, Black Sheep (2006)
Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA
At an afternoon TCA panel promoting the new season of PBS’ Masterpiece series, exec producer Rebecca Eaton was asked to explain a story in Britain’s Daily Mail that charged the acclaimed period drama Downton Abbey (recently nominated for 11 Primetime Emmys) lost two hours of content in its journey from the UK to America. Sounding unusually contentious, the typically unflappable Eaton explained, “I’m glad you brought this up. This was a story in the Daily Mail. Do I have to say anything more? And they got it wrong and they made a big deal out of it, that we’d taken two hours out. It wasn’t true. Our version was overall 20 or 25 minutes shorter and had to do with (advertising) and the need for different formatting. We didn’t chop it up to make it more palatable to the dummies in the American audience — as it was implied.” Eaton was quick to add, “By the way, that reporter’s name was Christopher Hastings.”
Lionel Wigram, who famously hatched a graphic novel version of Sherlock Holmes before setting that franchise up at Warner Bros., has tapped into another comic for a feature film project. Wigram Productions has acquired rights to RASL, a black-and-white science fiction noir comic book series written and drawn by Jeff Smith. RASL is an ex-military scientist-turned-art thief who jumps to parallel universes to steal treasured pieces of art. During these trips, he gets discovered by his former employer, and finds himself trying to protect the world’s most dangerous secret. Smith, who launched the series in 2008, also writes Bone, a series that has received 10 Eisner and 11 Harvey Awards. Wigram, who just wrapped Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, said he was tipped to the comic by colleague Peter Eskelsen and bought it with his own cash. “We’ll team with a writer and figure out how to adapt it to the screen and hopefully it will become a big movie franchise for Warner Bros.,” he said. ICM brokered the deal. Wigram will produce, and Eskelsen and Jeff Smith will be exec producers.
I already reported this, but here’s the official Warner Bros announcement:
BURBANK, CA – July 26, 2010 – On Sunday, July 25th, Warner Bros. Studios became the only studio in history to surpass $1 billion at the domestic box office for ten years in a row. In addition, the division has crossed the billion-dollar threshold for eleven of the past twelve years. The announcement was made by Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. Pictures President of Domestic Distribution.
The studio passed the billion-dollar mark on the heels of the blockbuster success of Christopher Nolan’s “Inception,” which has topped the weekend box office in its first two weeks in release and has taken in $142.9 million to date. Beginning the year, Warner Bros. was still enjoying the success of Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes,” which had just opened on Christmas Day 2009. The studio also scored hits with Alcon Entertainment’s action adventure “The Book of Eli”; New Line Pictures’ ensemble romantic comedy “Valentine’s Day,” directed by Garry Marshall; the epic action adventure “Clash of the Titans”; and “Sex and the City 2,” New Line’s follow up to its 2008 hit based on the enormously popular television show.
In making the announcement, Fellman said, “This is an extraordinary milestone for our studio, and it reflects the enormous talent and dedication of a large roster of people, both on and off the screen. We are very proud of what we have achieved, not only this year, but