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Universal Inks First-Look Deal With Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire

By | Thursday June 5, 2014 @ 11:40am PDT

universal-logo-colorUNIVERSAL CITY, CA, June 5, 2014—Universal Pictures today announced that the studio has signed a two-year first-look production agreement with Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire banner. The announcement was made by Co-Presidents of Production Peter Cramer and Jeffrey Kirschenbaum.

Schwartz and Savage are currently writing and will produce the studio’s live-action feature Monster High, based on the hugely successful Mattel franchise of the same name, with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Most recently for Universal, they produced Endless Love, alongside Scott Stuber and Pamela Abdy. On the television side, Fake Empire is behind such hits as CW’s Gossip Girl (2007-2013), NBC’s Chuck (2007-2012) and Fox’s The O.C. (2003-2007). They are currently in production on The Astronaut Wives Club, which ABC picked up for a 10-episode straight-to-series order earlier this year and CW’s Hart of Dixie, which was recently renewed for a fourth season.

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Josh Schwartz, Stephanie Savage To Pen & Produce ‘Monster High’ For Universal

By | Wednesday November 13, 2013 @ 3:00pm PST

Monster High movie - UniversalUniversal Pictures has set Fake Empire‘s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to write and produce their live-action Monster High movie, based on the Mattel doll franchise. The brand is centered on the imperfect teen children of the world’s most famous monsters with characters like Frankie Stein (daughter of Frankenstein), Clawdeen Wolf (daughter of the Wolfman), and Deuce Gorgon (son of Medusa). The franchise, created in 2010, has already yielded several Nickelodeon TV specials, YA novels, webisodes, and an animated direct to DVD movie. Schwartz and Savage will produce the big screen adaptation for Fake Empire with Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. Mattel’s Playground Productions is exec producing the project. Zadan and Meron are the ones who first brought the global $1.4B entertainment, publishing, games, and apparel brand to Universal. VP of production Maradith Frenkel and creative executive Chloe Yellin will oversee for the studio. Schwartz and Savage are repped by WME and attorney Joel McKuin. Zadan, Meron, and Mattel are repped by CAA.

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Stephanie Savage To Pen ‘Astronaut Wives Club’ For ABC, Fake Empire & Groundswell

By | Wednesday October 16, 2013 @ 11:30am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: ABC has put in development Astronaut Wives Club, a limited drama series from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire and Michael London’s Groundswell Prods. based on Lily Koppel’s best-selling novel published this summer. It will be penned by Savage in her first TV writing effort since co-creating Gossip Girl with Schwartz. I hear the project is being fast-tracked, possibly for summer, with potential February-March start date eyed. ABC Studios, where Fake Empire is based, is producing. Set in the 1960s with a modern feel, The Astronaut Wives Club tells the true story of the women behind NASA’s early astronauts and the struggles they face when their lives and families are catapulted into the spotlight overnight. Savage, Schwartz and Fake Empire’s president of television Len Goldstein executive produce with London. Groundswell’s president of production Janice Williams, who brought the project to London, is expected to produce. Read More »

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Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage Team With Young Writing Duo For ABC Comedy

By | Wednesday September 4, 2013 @ 2:15pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: A half-hour project, First Timers, has sold at ABC in a competitive situation, and it couldn’t have had a more perfect title. Because it marks the first sale for Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage‘s Fake Empire under the company’s rich three-year overall deal with ABC Studios. It also marks the first sale for up-and-coming writing duo Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger, currently serving as producers on the ABC/ABC Studios comedy The Neighbors. Penned by Aptaker and Berger loosely based on their own relationship, First Timers centers on twentysomething male/female business partners. The two will executive produce alongside Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein.

Starting their ABC Studios relationship with a comedy sale is symbolic for Fake Empire as expansion into half-hour comedy under the new deal has been a priority for the company, known primarily as a drama series producer. ABC Studios introduced Aptaker and Berger to Schwartz and Savage who had been tracking the duo’s career for a while (Aptaker and Berger previously staffed on I Just Want My Pants Back, Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous and Friends With Benefits) and went after the young writers after reading their adaptation of the book The Future of Us. Read More »

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Josh Schwartz & Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire Moves To ABC Studios With Big Deal

By | Wednesday January 16, 2013 @ 1:03pm PST
Nellie Andreeva

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are finalizing a deal to move their Fake Empire TV production company to ABC Studios with a three-year deal. Building a talent roster has been a priority for ABC Studios, which saw A-listers Greg Berlanti and Bill Lawrence go to Warner Bros TV over the past couple of years. I hear the studio went aggressively after Schwartz and Savage. Their Fake Empire was actually born at Warner Bros TV three years ago, when WBTV executive Len Goldstein came on board to run it. Schwartz had been at WBTV his entire professional life as a TV writer-producer — going back to his first series, The O.C. Fake Empire has two midseason series on the air — the CW’s The Carrie Diaries and Cult — as well as a slew of projects awaiting word on pilot pickups. The deal with ABC Studios, first reported by Variety, will begin after the end of the current pilot season when the company’s pact with WBTV expires. Fake Empire entered this season with four series on the air, all at the CW, where ABC Studios does not do business — Carrie Diaries, Cult, the departing Gossip Girl and sophomore Hart Of Dixie. ABC should be a good fit for the duo as most of their projects have been in the soap genre the network is known for on the drama side. In features, Fake Empire … Read More »

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CW Buys Monster High School Drama From Fake Empire And Catherine Hardwicke

By | Wednesday September 12, 2012 @ 3:45pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Stephanie Savage Josh Schwartz Copeland PrepJosh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who are behind the CW‘s departing drama Gossip Girl, have set up another drama project at the network that take place in an elite school. The high-concept Copeland Prep is set at the premier secondary school in the nation, which is so fiercely competitive it’s turning its students into monsters — literally — and spreading the disturbing ramifications throughout the town. The project was written by Bret Easton Ellis, who is executive producing with Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein as well as Nicky Weinstock.

Catherine Hardwicke, who has experience with projects about students who are not quite human having directed the first Twilight movie, will serve as executive consultant. Warner Bros TV is producing with Fake Empire. In addition to Gossip Girl, the duo’s company has Hart Of Dixie as well as the upcoming The Carrie Diaries and Cult at the CW.

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Paramount Re-Ups Fake Empire’s Josh Schwartz And Stephanie Savage

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has re-upped Fake Empire partners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage to a first look feature deal that keeps them at the studio through 2014. The duo has been at the studio since 2010.

Deal comes as the shingle’s first Paramount  film, the Schwartz-directed Fun Size, hits theaters October 26, 2012. The film is based on the Black List script by Max Werner about a teen (Victoria Justice) who loses her oddball little brother on Halloween and has one desperate night to track him down. Savage and Schwartz produced with Anonymous Content.

Paramount hoped Fake Empire would add some youth-centric projects and the producers have responded. The studio last month acquired From What I Remember, the Stacy Kramer/Valerie Thomas young adult novel as well as the novel The Diviners by Bray. Paramount has earmarked the latter as the first in a franchise of films. That adds to such projects as Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, The Luxe and the Tana French novel The Likeness, the latter of which Savage will write. Fake Empire is teamed witih Scott Stuber and Pam Abdy to produce an Endless Love remake at Universal.

Fake Empire continues its television deal at Warner Bros Television and will have four series on the air in 2012-13 television season, including new series The Carrie Diaries and Cult, as well as Hart Read More »

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Paramount Buys ‘The Diviners’ For Fake Empire

By | Monday June 11, 2012 @ 6:17pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount has made a preemptive purchase of The Diviners, a young-adult novel by Libba Bray. Fake Empire’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage will be the producers. The book will be published in September by Little Brown, the first of a four-part series. It was a sizable purchase for the studio. Book is set in the 1920s and follows a group of young New Yorkers with mysterious powers who play a dramatic role in a battle of good vs. evil when a series of occult-based murders begin to terrify the city. The author will adapt the script and be exec producer. The hope is to launch a franchise.

Fake Empire’s first feature, Fun Size, hits theaters this October. Schwartz directed the film, based on a script by Max Werner, and produced with Savage. The shingle has several other feature films in the works including Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, Let It Snow, The Luxe and The Likeness, the latter of which Savage will write. On the television side, the company will have four series on the air in the upcoming season including new series The Carrie Diaries and Cult, as well as sophomore hit Hart of Dixie and Gossip Girl, wrapping its run after six successful seasons. Schwartz, Savage and Fake Empire are repped by WME. The Gotham Group repped the author with Barry Goldblatt Literary. Fake Empire’s Lis Rowinski and Jay Marcus brought the project in.

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Paramount Acquires Novel ‘The Likeness’ For Stephanie Savage To Adapt

By | Wednesday November 2, 2011 @ 2:38pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has acquired The Likeness, the Tana French novel that will be adapted by Stephanie Savage. She and Fake Empire partner Josh Schwartz will produce, and they acquired the book through the discretionary fund that’s part of their first look deal at Paramount. The novel is about a young female detective who goes undercover to solve a murder in an elite college town. The detective wants to discover the truth, but she finds this new world to be quite seductive.

The Likeness is a sequel to French’s 2008 novel In The Woods, which the studio has also acquired. Since forming Fake Empire at Paramount, Schwartz and Savage have set up five projects, with their first film, the Schwartz-directed Fun Size, to be released in late 2012. The author is repped by APA and lit agent Darley Anderson and the Fake Empire partners are WME-repped.

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Fake Empire Comedy Among Latest Pilot Script Sales

By | Friday September 30, 2011 @ 7:11am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Known primarily for its hourlong series, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire has sold a half-hour comedy pitch to Fox. The single-camera comedy about three childhood friends who are all now fathers with teenage sons will be written by Barry Schwartz, who will co-executive produce. Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein will executive produce for Warner Bros TV. Fake Empire has three series on the air this season: NBC’s dramedy Chuck and the CW dramas Gossip Girl and Hart of Dixie. On the feature side, Barry Schwartz, repped by WME and the Gotham Group, sold Bromance to Montecito and DreamWorks and Parents Weekend to Kopelson Entertainment.

Writer-director Nancy Hower and her writing/producing partner, actor John Lehr, have sold a half-hour comedy pitch to NBC. Titled Retreat, the project is set at a corporate retreat. The sale was made based on a demo Hower and Lehr shot, which Hower directed and Lehr starred in. The demo, made in association with EUE/Sokolow, was probably helpful, as the duo uses a hybrid scripted/improv style where their scripts are incredibly detailed but don’t feature any dialogue. Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘The Carrie Diaries’ Now Officially At CW With ‘Gossip Girl’ Producers On Board

By | Sunday September 11, 2011 @ 9:40pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

PREVIOUS: CW Eyes ‘Sex & The City’ Prequel Series Shepherded By ‘Gossip Girl’ Producers

A month ago we reported that The Carrie Diaries, a TV series project based on Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell’s recent book about Carrie Bradshaw’s high school years, was headed to the CW. That has now become a reality after the project was pitched to the network on Friday and bought in the room. Under the deal, which is being finalized, Warner Bros. TV is producing with Gossip Girl executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s studio-based Fake Empire banner. Former Sex and the City writer/producer Amy Harris, who is writing for Gossip Girl this season, is penning the adaptation and executive producing with Bushnell, Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein. The Carrie Diaries is a young-adult novel that chronicles Carrie’s senior year of high school in a small New England town. Because of its young skew, it was never considered for HBO, which adapted Bushnell’s anthology book Sex and the City into the hugely popular comedy series created by Darren Star and starring Sarah Jessica Parker. Read More »

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NBC Developing ‘Lesbo’ Comedy About Gay And Straight Female Best Friends

By | Wednesday September 7, 2011 @ 4:30pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

This is a title that will get attention: NBC has bought comedy pitch My Best Friend Is A Lesbo. The project, from Warner Bros TV and Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s studio-based Fake Empire, is about two best female friends — one straight, the other gay — who become roommates and help each other navigate life, love, and dating in Los Angeles. The semi-autobiographical comedy is based on the real-life friendship of writers and longtime roommates Sascha Rothchild and Randi Barnes, who will co-pen the script together. This is a rare paring of the two, who are not a writing team. They will co-executive produce My Best Friend Is a Lesbo, with Fake Empire’s Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein executive producing. If the project goes to series, its provocative title will probably be toned down the way ABC’s Good Christian Bitches became Good Christian Belles and The Bitch At Apt. 23 was shortened to Apartment 23. WME-repped Rothchild recently sold her feature pitch Who Invited Her to DreamWorks with Reese Witherspoon attached to star, and she is writing How To be Divorced By 30 for Universal and producer Marc Platt based on her book. Barnes co-wrote the upcoming animated feature Dorothy of Oz starring Lea Michele. Rothchild and Barnes are managed by Apostle. This is the first sale this season for WME-repped Fake Empire, … Read More »

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CW Eyes ‘Sex & The City’ Prequel Series Shepherded By ‘Gossip Girl’ Producers

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: With their sharp fashion sense and busy social life in Manhattan, the young ladies from the CW’s Gossip Girl often evoke Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. Now a teen version of Bradshaw herself may be joining the CW’s lineup. I hear that the CW has emerged as the leading candidate for The Carrie Diaries, a TV series project based on Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell’s recent book about Bradshaw’s high school years. There are no deals in place, and talks are in preliminary stages, but I hear that Warner Bros TV would produce and Gossip Girl executive producers Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage are being courted to shepherd the project through their Warner Bros TV-based Fake Empire banner. Former Sex and the City writer/producer Amy Harris, who is writing for Gossip Girl this season, will likely pen the adaptation.

Because it previously adapted Bushnell’s Sex and the City into a hugely popular series, HBO has the rights to The Carrie Diaries, a young-adult novel that chronicles Carrie’s senior year of high school in a small New England town. But since the book is much younger skewing than HBO’s audience, the pay cable network had been seeking another outlet for the potential series. “Discussions are underway for The Carrie Diaries, Candace Bushnell’s book about Carrie Bradshaw’s high school years, to find a home as a potential television series,” HBO said in a statement. Read More »

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Paramount And Fake Empire Buy ‘Let It Snow’

By | Tuesday May 31, 2011 @ 12:11pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures-based Fake Empire has acquired Let It Snow, a pitch package that includes rights to an anthology of three intersecting short stories by young-adult novelists John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. The script will be written by Jordan Roter, and the goal is to turn it into a teen Love Actually. It revolves around what a crippling snowstorm does to one town on Christmas Eve. The film will be produced by Paramount-based Fake Empire partners Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who bought the pitch through their discretionary fund. Fake Empire’s Lis Rowinski brought in the project. Face Empire has set several projects since landing at Paramount, including Fun Size, which Schwartz will direct, and Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick.

Roter, who’s repped by WME and Underground, is already in the Paramount fold. She set up Camp Rules there, adapting her own novel into a film that has Kristen Kiwi Smith attached to direct and Montecito producing. Separately, Paramount and producers Gil Netter and Brad Weston hired Roter to rewrite How Could You Do This To Me.

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Paramount Crafts ‘Forgotten’ For Its ‘True Grit’ Discovery Hailee Steinfeld

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: When you come out of nowhere and turn in an Oscar nominated breakout performance like Hailee Steinfeld did as Mattie Ross in the Joel and Ethan Coen-directed True Grit, it’s natural for the studio involved to do its best to keep you in the fold. Paramount Pictures has just closed a deal for screen rights to Forgotten, a novel by Cat Patrick that will be published by Little Brown in June. The book will be crafted as a star vehicle for the 14-year old Steinfeld, with Fake Empire’s Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage producing. It’s the first studio deal for Steinfeld since she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Steinfeld will play London Lane, a 16-year old whose memory is erased at 4:33 every night. The following morning, all she can remember are events from her future. After meeting a new boy at school, London becomes frustrated that she can’t seem to find him in her memory of things to come. The project was packaged by ICM, which reps Steinfeld along with Coast-to-Coast. The book deal was brokered by ICM with Writers House.

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Rachel Bilson To Star In CW’s ‘Hart Of Dixie’

Nellie Andreeva

The O.C. alumna Rachel Bilson will reunite with the show’s creator-executive producer Josh Schwartz this pilot season after all. Bilson is close to a deal to star in the CW hourlong pilot Hart of Dixie, from WBTV and Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire. The project is a comedic drama centered on a young New York City doctor (Bilson) who inherits a medical practice in a small Southern town inhabited by an eclectic and eccentric group of characters. Leila Gerstein penned the script and is exec producing with Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein. Earlier this development season, Bilson was attached to star in Ghost Angeles, a supernatural romantic comedy co-written by Schwartz. The project landed at NBC in September with a pilot production commitment, but new NBC chief Bob Greenblatt recently opted not to go forward with it. Bilson has done arcs on Schwartz’s NBC dramedy Chuck and on CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, on which she played a love interest for Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor). Hart of Dixie expands Schwartz and Savage’s relationship with the CW where the two created and executive produce Gossip Girl.

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Michelle Trachtenberg To Develop & Star In CW Drama Produced by Josh Schwartz

Nellie Andreeva

CW has handed out a script order to an untitled drama project starring Gossip Girl‘s Michelle Trachtenberg, which marks the actress’ producing debut. It hails from the creators of CW’s Gossip Girl, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, whose Fake Empire banner co-produces the project with Warner Bros. TV and CBS TV Studios. Based on an idea by Trachtenberg, the drama would star the actress as a young criminology student with a gift for profiling and a dark past. Stuart Zicherman (Six Degrees) will write the script and executive produce alongside Schwartz, Savage and Len Goldstein. Trachtenberg will serve as producer. This is Fake Empire’s second hourlong project this season toplined by a young actress from one of Schawrtz’s other shows. Schwartz is writing Ghost Angeles, a supernatural romantic comedy starring The O.C. alumna Rachel Bilson, which received a pilot production commitment from NBC. Trachtenberg has been recurring on Gossip Girl for the past 2 years. She will next be seen in Kids in America.

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NBC Snags ‘Ghost’ Romantic Comedy From Josh Schwartz Starring Rachel Bilson

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: It’s an O.C. reunion at NBC! The O.C. creator/executive producer Josh Schwartz has a hot new hourlong project in the works, which will star O.C. alumna Rachel Bilson. After a heated bidding, the show, a supernatural romantic comedy titled Ghost Angeles, has landed at NBC with a pilot production commitment, a rare feat for a project that has not been written yet. Schwartz and Henry Alonso Myers (Ugly Betty) co-created Ghost Angeles and will write it together. Details on the project are being kept under wraps but, according to a concept circulated around, it centers on a young woman in Los Angeles who can talk to the dead, helping the spirits as much as they are helping her. Ghost Angeles hails from Fake Empire, Schwartz’s recently launched company with Stephanie Savage, and Warner Bros. TV where the company is based with a five-year deal. Schwartz, Myers, Savage and Fake Empire’s Leonard Goldstein are executive producing. In its first development season, Fake Empire has already sold 2 projects, Ghost Angeles and an ensemble show about young people in DC from writer Will Fetters, which is set up at ABC. Ghost Angeles marks the first hourlong project created by Schwartz in 4 years, since he sold Chuck, co-written with Chris Fedak, to NBC and Gossip Girl, co-penned with Savage, to the CW in 2006. It also extends Schwartz’s relationship with NBC where Schwartz’s spy dramedy Chuck just kicked off its fourths season.

The O.C.Read More »

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Paramount Wins ‘Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick’

By | Tuesday August 10, 2010 @ 3:28pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In what turned out to be the second spirited book rights auction in the last few days, Paramount Pictures has acquired screen rights to Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, a Joe Schreiber novel that sold last Friday to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as a young adult title in a two-book deal. I’m told Paramount Pictures made an aggressive bid that has Roy Lee as producer and will potentially involve Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage through their new Par-based Fake Empire banner. I’ve heard the auction came down to Par and Fox, which bid for producer John Davis. It’s unclear how the Schwartz/Savage alignment will play out, but they have the youth cred that is a strong match for material crosses John Hughes coming-of-age terrain with Grosse Pointe Blank. The numbers were in the mid-to-high six figure range before the deal closed.

The protagonist is a high school kid whose parents take in an Eastern European exchange student. Though she seems homely and ordinary at first, he realizes he misjudged her. After they leave the prom at her suggestion to go clubbing in New York City, she reveals herself to be a beautiful assassin after 5 targets.  He is pressed to help and has to figure out if her motives are righteous. The movie rights were handled by Don Laventhall of the Harold Ober Agency. Laventhall would not comment. Irene Yeung will be an exec producer.

This is a big break for the author, whose past novels and spec scripts … Read More »

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