EXCLUSIVE: Justin Long is in negotiations for the lead role in The Ten O’clock People. The Live Free Or Die Hard actor would play Brandon Pearson in the modernized adaptation of the Stephen King short story. As previously reported, Tom Holland will direct and has written the screenplay. The story follows Pearson’s attempt to quit smoking and the unknown and terrifying aspect of reality that he uncovers as he tries to kick. The Ten O’clock People comes from King’s 1993 Nightmares And Dreamscapes collection. The film starts shooting September 10 in New York. It’s produced by Making Ten O’clock Productions and Holland’s Dead Rabbit Films with Nathaniel Kramer and E.J. Meyers producing. Long is repped by CAA and Principato-Young.
Tom Holland has signed on to adapt and direct The Ten O’clock People, a feature adaptation of a short story by Stephen King. Holland and King previously collaborated on The Langoliers and Thinner. Holland took an extended hiatus, then returned to directing in 2007 in the Masters Of Horror series for Showtime. He’s writing and directing Twisted Tales, a series of shorts for FearNet, and plans for The Ten O’clock People to be his first theatrical since Thinner, which King wrote under the pseudonym Richard Bachman.
The Ten O’clock People comes from a short story published in King’s 1993 Nightmares And Dreamscapes collection. Set in Boston, the story follows Brandon Pearson, who in trying to kick his smoking habit uncovers a frightening aspect of reality that he plans to extinguish through extreme measures.
It isn’t a big surprise, but MGM has formally offered Julianne Moore the nightmarish religious fanatic mother in the Kimberly Peirce-directed remake of the 1976 film Carrie. Chloe Moretz is already set to play the title character, a young woman whose devastating telepathic powers rear up when she reaches puberty. Kevin Misher is producing.
Moore’s name has been in the mix for a while, but at the time MGM maintained it was talking to numerous actresses. Now, they’ve sent Moore the script and a pay or play offer to play Margaret White, the role that Piper Laurie rode to an Oscar nomination. (Moore just got done playing Sarah Palin in the Jay Roach-directed HBO film Game Change, but Margaret White makes the former vice presidential candidate seem like a raging liberal.) The film is based on the 1974 Stephen King novel that was first filmed by director Brian De Palma. Sissy Spacek played Carrie White, and both she and Laurie got Oscar noms. Moore is repped by CAA and Management 360.
BREAKING: After meeting and reading a group of young actresses for Carrie, MGM, Screen Gems and director Kim Peirce have made their decision and made the formal offer today to Chloe Moretz. If negotiations work out, she’ll play the title role in the remake of the Brian DePalma original that was based on the 1974 Stephen King bestseller. She’s expected to play the shy high school student Carrie White, who is raised by a nightmarish religious fanatic mother, and comes to grip with devastating telepathic powers just as she reaches puberty. She eventually uses those gifts for lethal means when fellow classmates use the prom as an excuse to humiliate her before the entire school in a parable about bullying. Sissy Spacek played the character in the first movie, with Piper Laurie playing her mother, and Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, Betty Buckley and William Katt rounding out the cast. Both Spacek and Laurie got Oscar nominations for their work in the 1976 film.
EXCLUSIVE: When Universal Pictures said no to making three feature films and two limited-run TV series from Stephen King’s mammoth post-apocalyptic Western The Dark Tower, the partners in the film all pledged they were going to find a way to get a movie made. Well, I hear that Warner Bros is now very close to a deal that will give Ron Howard the chance to direct at least the first feature, potentially with Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. And Akiva Goldsman (who wrote the script) is producing with Brian Grazer and the author.
Basically the studio bought Goldsman’s script and are paying him to do a polish. Howard remains attached to direct, likely in first-quarter 2013. Pic is a co-production between Goldsman’s Weed Road and Howard and Grazer’s Imagine. Bardem’s participation would depend upon his availability, but he was firmly attached when the project was at Universal.
That is an amazing development for fans of the book and for a movie that has been searching for new backing since Universal let it go last July. Back then, Universal was deciding on three features and the two TV segments, which was perhaps the most ambitious movie project since Peter Jackson shot three installments of The Lord Of The Rings back to back.
EXCLUSIVE: Kimberly Peirce is in talks to direct Carrie, the remake of the Stephen King thriller about the telekinetic teenager who gets pushed too far at the prom and wreaks havoc on her fellow high school students. Peirce is best known for helming another troubled female coming-of-age tragedy, the Hilary Swank-starrer Boys Don’t Cry. Carrie was previously turned into the 1976 film that starred Sissy Spacek, John Travolta and Amy Irving, with Piper Laurie as the repressive mother. The script has been written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, whose rewrite work helped save Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark on Broadway. Aguirre-Sacasa set out to write a version of Carrie that is more faithful to the King book, and more grounded than the Brian De Palma-directed film. That kind of grounded material is something Peirce does well. She last directed Stop-Loss and is repped at CAA.
EXCLUSIVE: Rand Holston is leaving CAA, the talent agency where he spent the last 28 years. I’m hearing this might be one of several exits to take place over the next three weeks. The agency confirmed that Holston is leaving. I’m told he is meeting with other agencies, and he will land at one of them before year’s end. His longtime writer and director clients include Stephen King, Rob Reiner, Wolfgang Petersen, Robert Towne, John Moore, Marshall Herskovitz, Jordan Kerner, Ed Zwick, Jim Ivory, Bruce Robinson and Jon Avnet.
EXCLUSIVE: After an extensive search, comic book and Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan has been tapped to pen Showtime’s drama series adaptation of Stephen King’s 2009 novel Under the Dome, from DreamWorks Television. The supernatural thriller revolves around locals at a Maine vacation spot who battle one another when a force field suddenly surrounds their town and cuts them off from the rest of the world. DreamWorks’ Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider originally secured the rights to King’s novel shortly after it was published in November 2009. The project was set up as a series at Showtime in August when the producers and Showtime launched a search for a writer. Under The Dome is executive produced by King and DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. Vaughan is a familiar name for comic book and sci-fi fans. He is best known for writing the comic book series Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways and Pride Of Baghdad and for being a writer on ABC’s popular series Lost during seasons 3-5.
While Jonathan Demme is busy writing the script for Stephen King’s upcoming thriller novel 11/22/63, and completing another script for an animated feature adaptation of the Dave Eggers novel Zeitoun, the Oscar-winning director has become so captivated by the Occupy Wall Street movement that he brought his camera down and filmed a 15-minute atmospheric piece, with at least one more in the works. Demme called it “an informercial for Occupy Wall Street, a citizen’s response to something important,” he said. “I have no agenda, but I’m an enthusiast and support this so passionately that in a tiny way I wanted to contribute.”
To Demme, Occupy Wall Street is a game-changing expression of youthful outrage reminiscent of protests against the Vietnam War and segregation. “I’m from the hippie generation, I came aware in that age of protests and demonstrations,” he said. “These young people are living that sense of potential change, and when you go downtown to see it, it’s such an oxygenated atmosphere that it’s thrilling. Many people dump on Barack Obama, they say once he got in office he didn’t do anything. But neither did we, the people who supported him and then went off and lived our lives. The only voice that has been in his face has been the Tea Party and I promise you, if Occupy Wall Street had taken root when the president was elected, we’d …
BREAKING: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are reuniting in their first real picture partnership since Good Will Hunting. The Boston guys are taking on the story of New England’s most notorious gangster, Whitey Bulger. Warner Bros will make the film, Affleck will direct, co-star and produce with Damon, who’ll play Bulger. They’ll produce under their Pearl Street Films banner. Boardwalk Empire creator and writer Terence Winter is penning the script. Casey Affleck, who also starred in Good Will Hunting and Gone Baby Gone, will play a supporting role as well.
“Matt and I have been looking for something to do together for some time,” Affleck said. “We’ve heard about Whitey Bulger since we were kids, and we are excited by the prospect of putting it on screen.” Ironically, Damon played a crooked cop in The Departed, the Martin Scorsese-directed film that took a page from the Bulger story. He is the notorious South Boston crime boss who fled in 1994 and remained a fugitive for 16 years — 12 of them on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. He was arrested in June in Santa Monica. The story will cover Bulger’s youth to his incarceration on Alcatraz, through his rise to become a mob boss while secretly serving as an FBI informant for decades. Pearl Street’s Chay Carter will be executive producer.
Warner Bros has chosen Ben Affleck to adapt and direct The Stand, Stephen King’s apocalyptic mammoth book. Affleck has become a cornerstone director for the studio, but this would be his greatest challenge yet. Even King has been reticent about the idea of making a feature of his book, which previously was turned into a miniseries. With The Town and Gone Baby Gone, Affleck has shown the grit necessary to handle such an unforgettable tale. It’s early days, but the studio loves Affleck, who’s now directing Argo.
Stephen King announced the book’s possibility back in 2009, but it wasn’t made official until last weekend when he read an excerpt during a George Mason University awards ceremony. The sequel to The Shining is called Dr. Sleep starring psychic kiddie Danny (aka “Doc”) 30 years later. Now he eases the minds of dying hospice residents. Until some vampires arrive. Too bad Stanley Kubrick isn’t still around. Here’s the novelist reading a passage from Dr Sleep:
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land.
In one of Showtime’s most ambitious undertakings, the pay cable network is partnering with Steven Spielberg and Stephen King for Under the Dome, a drama series based on King’s 2009 novel, which will be produced by DreamWorks Television. The supernatural thriller revolves around locals at a Maine vacation spot who battle one another when a force field suddenly surrounds their town and cuts them off from the rest of the world. DreamWorks’ Spielberg and Stacey Snider nabbed the rights to King’s novel shortly after it was published in November 2009 to strong reviews. Search is underway for a writer to write the project, whose executive producers will include King and DreamWorks TV’s Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank. Spielberg has a longstanding relationship with King. He previously teamed with the bestselling author to adapt his 1984 novel The Talisman, which was originally developed as feature and then as a miniseries that was once set up at TNT.
This marks a return to genre series for Showtime, which took a break following the 2003 dramedy Dead Like Me, and the network’s latest collaboration with DreamWorks TV.
It looks like Jonathan Demme is the latest big name to jump on a Stephen King project, with the director confirmed to have picked up rights to King’s yet-to-be-released novel 11/22/63, about a teacher who travels back in time in an attempt to stop John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Demme, who recently signed with WME after seven years at ICM, is expected to write, produce and direct the adaptation. King’s new book (it comes out in November) and movie deal is just the latest for the horror-thriller icon, who in the 1980s and ’90s saw pretty much everything he wrote turn into a movie. Now, he’s really back in the Hollywood spotlight: Of course there’s the author’s seminal seven-book The Dark Tower, which Universal was flirting with adapting into three features and two limited-run TV series; he studio recently nixed the deal that had Ron Howard directing and Akiva Goldsman writing, and the project remains in limbo. Also, David Yates and Steve Kloves are circling and adaptation of King’s The Stand, and Warner Bros is developing It, about a terrifying clown, which was turned into a 1990 TV movie. On the TV side, A&E just greenlighted a four-part miniseries based on Bag of Bones starring Pierce Brosnan and Kelly Rowland.
EXCLUSIVE: The moment has come for Universal Pictures to fish or cut bait on The Dark Tower, the ultra-ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King 7-novel series that was going to encompass a trilogy of feature films and two limited run TV series. The studio has said, No Thanks. Universal has passed on going forward with the project, dealing a huge blow in the plan for Ron Howard to direct Akiva Goldsman’s script, with Brian Grazer, Goldsman and the author producing and Javier Bardem starring as gunslinger Roland Deschain. Now, the filmmakers will have to find a new backer of what might well be the most ambitious movie project since Bob Shaye allowed Peter Jackson to shoot three installments of The Lord of the Rings back to back.
This stunning development comes after Universal in May pushed plans to start production this summer on the first film. The studio claimed to be on track for a February, postponing to reduce the budget. This temporarily dispelled rumors that Universal was putting the project in turnaround, rumors that cropped up when the studio put workers on hiatus. But it was only a temporary respite. I’m told that this time, the studio reviewed Goldsman’s script for the first film and the first leg of the TV series, and would only commit to the single film. That wasn’t good enough for the filmmakers, who had already hired comic book and Heroes …
EXCLUSIVE: Remember Spy vs. Spy, the running comic strip of one-ups-manship between rival spooks from Mad Magazine? A live-action bigscreen version is moving forward at Warner Bros for Ron Howard to direct. David Koepp will produce with Howard and his Imagine Entertainment partner Brian Grazer. Right now, Koepp will oversee a script that will be written by John Kamps. Kamps just teamed with Koepp to write Premium Rush, the Sony Pictures movie directed by Koepp, who also just rewrote the Jack Ryan film for Paramount Pictures. The film will be a physical and highly visual action comedy with two spies going mano a mano in ruthless fashion.
Spy Vs. Spy will be down the line for Howard, who always has a busy dance card. As Howard and Grazer and Akiva Goldsman prepare to turn in the rewrite of The Dark Tower over the next couple of weeks to see if Universal Pictures will fund the ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King novel series planned to span three films and two TV series runs, Howard has been eyeing projects he might be able to squeeze in before. He met on the film that’ll have Tom Hanks playing Captain Richard Phillips, who gave himself up to be a hostage to Somali pirates, that Paul Greengrass has wound up directing. He’s been rumored for a Frankenstein project at 20th Century Fox that Max …
UPDATE EXCLUSIVE: Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Ron Howard have reached a milestone unusual in Hollywood: partners for 25 years. When they first got together, Grazer was a TV producer. Howard, after growing up on the small screen in The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, had only directed a couple of TV movies and the low budget Roger Corman-produced Grand Theft Auto. Grazer and Howard have been at it together ever since, building a company that over 25 years has been one of the most consistent generators of content. Their TV series output includes 24, Parenthood, Arrested Development and Friday Night Lights; their movies have grossed $13.5 billion worldwide. That includes A Beautiful Mind, which won Howard the Academy Award for Best Director. Grazer and Howard shared Best Picture Oscars that night as well. Not everything they’ve done has succeeded, of course. They they took their company public and repurchased the shares; they helped launched and fold the online venture Pop.com; their most recent film together, the adult comedy The Dilemma, was a misfire that created controversy over the inclusion of the word “gay” in a trailer. They’ve had way more hits than misses.
In honor of Imagine’s Silver Anniversary, Deadline invited Howard and Grazer to look back over their quarter century together, and into a future that includes something never tried before by anyone in Hollywood. They’re adapting Stephen King’s 7-novel series The Dark Tower into a film trilogy, and a limited run TV series in between. It has pushed the envelope enough that their longtime home studio, Universal Pictures, postponed a planned late summer start until next year and asked the filmmakers to cut the budget. Some question the studio’s resolve on such a massive undertaking. The studio has to green light the film by next month or the rights revert to Imagine, Akiva Goldsman and King, who are determined to make it regardless.
DEADLINE: Not many marriages of any kind last 25 years in Hollywood. What is most important about the anniversary?
HOWARD: It’s such a challenging time to get movies made. And yet, look at all we have coming out. Tower Heist, the Gus Van Sant movie Restless, J Edgar with Clint Eastwood and Leo DiCaprio, Cowboys & Aliens, this big broad appeal four quadrant fantasy adventure story with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. With The Playboy Club getting on the air, and Parenthood getting picked up, I’m proud we’re doing what we’ve always done. A wide variety of projects that got made because we care and put in the energy to get them done in light of how difficult it is these days.
DEADLINE: Simple as that?
HOWARD: Because I’m in New York, we’re not forced to stare at each other’s faces 24/7. But I think that’s not really it. We love what we’re doing, we have fun doing it and our sensibilities are in sync. In a business that can create so many feelings of anxiety and self-doubt, I learned to trust in that. Brian is smart and cares about me doing well and feeling good about what I’m doing. It’s a partnership built on support. It has been that way since the beginning.
GRAZER: It works because we have similar tastes and not only gravitate toward the same material but also what lives inside the core of the movie it becomes. We’ve done, and Ron has directed, all kinds of genres. We have a common interest in the humanity aspect of a movie, regardless if it’s a comedy or a drama. We also share a similar work ethic.
DEADLINE: When you cover all genres, does Imagine have a wheelhouse? For a company looking to last, is it advisable to have one?
HOWARD: The process is what gets Brian and me excited, whatever the genre. Not specializing has given our company a sense of flexibility and adaptability to whatever the market or the zeitgeist is suggesting. We’ve always respected each other as creative people. If Brian loves something and I don’t quite get it, I’ll tell him that but I’ll never try to impede the progress. He’s the same with me. With Apollo 13, I wasn’t sure the genre would work, because space films hadn’t done that well. Brian was instantly so excited about it, and made me realize we were onto something. 8 Mile, I don’t know anything about rap. This was something he understood. I didn’t know how to make that movie, but I recognized a great idea. Whenever the two of us get excited, on films like Splash, Night Shift and Parenthood, those have resulted in the building blocks of the company. I’ve always liked TV but I phased it out for awhile and it was Brian’s perseverance that has made us strong in both TV and films. Independent companies are rarely strong in both.
GRAZER: What we’ve do is agree on the moral center of a project, but nobody’s better at finding the language of a particular movie than Ron. He’s got a grasp of understanding new vocabularies, whether it’s the The Da Vinci Code, fantasy like Cocoon or Splash, or Backdraft and The Grinch. He is great at inhabiting a world and completely understanding and expressing its language. In A Beautiful Mind, he entered that world and understood the medical science of mental illness. So there have been times where he led the charge, and I was drawn in by his excitement.
DEADLINE: What was the last hard conversation or professional disagreement you can remember?
HOWARD: I can’t think of one offhand, but even when we have disagreements, I can’t think of a case where one of us ever said, ‘Oh, please don’t do this.’ If there’s a lot of passion from one or the other, then the support of the company is going to be there.