UPDATE, 11:08 AM: They are getting ready to truly hug it out in front of the cameras. “January 16 start date. Getting pumped,” tweeted Entourage director Doug Ellin today. He also posted a photo of the primary cast, including Jeremy “Ari Gold” Piven and Adrian “Vincent Chase” Grenier, all together. That January start date means that Vinnie Chase and his crew will still be keeping the 20% tax credit that movie of the HBO series got from the California Film Commission program earlier this year – something Warner Bros was very insistent on not losing if the $30 million-budget pic was to go forward.
EXCLUSIVE: The die has been cast for Mark Wahlberg and partner Stephen Levinson, who have signed on to produce the Julius Caesar saga The Roman. It’s an origin story in the vein of Batman Begins that envisions the future dictator as a young general in the Roman army in a rarely discussed period of his life. Kidnapped by Cilician pirates and enslaved on their prison island, Caesar escapes with his men, and the decisions he makes during this time directly affect the political and social upheaval happening in Rome. As Plutarch tells it, Caesar maintained such an air of superiority during his imprisonment that he demanded his captors more than double the ransom they had placed on his life; after he escaped, he made his way back and brutally crucified the perpetrators as he’d vowed he would. Upon his return to Rome, Caesar powered into politics on his way toward ruling the empire.
EXCLUSIVE: Russell Crowe is set to star alongside Mark Wahlberg in the Allen Hughes-directed independently financed noir drama Broken City. Production begins in November. Wahlberg plays an ex-cop-turned-private detective who is hired by the mayor (the role Crowe will play) to see if his wife is cheating on him. The private eye confirms those suspicions, and when the mayor’s wife’s cheating partner ends up dead, the private eye immerses himself in the mayor’s business and uncovers a real estate scandal that involves the pol dealing himself choice city-owned properties. The script by Brian Tucker made the 2008 Black List. The $60 million film will be financed by Emmett/Furla Films.
Wahlberg is producing through his Closest to the Hole banner; Stephen Levinson through Leverage; and Randall Emmett, George Furla and Hughes are also producing. Wahlberg and Levinson, partners on Entourage and Boardwalk Empire, just wrapped the drama Contraband. Crowe is costarring as Jor-El in the Superman reboot Man of Steel and just wrapped The Man With The Iron Fists.
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures is in negotiations for what could be the dramatic screen-starring debut of Justin Bieber. He will star alongside Mark Wahlberg in an untitled drama that will revolve around street basketball and will give Bieber the chance to show off his hoops skills. Deal comes after Bieber’s musical performance film Never Say Never minted money for Paramount. Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson will produce with Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun. The script will be written by Ian Edelman, creator of How To Make It In America, the HBO series that is exec produced by Wahlberg and Levinson, who hold the same titles on Entourage and Boardwalk Empire. The tone of the project is described as The Color of Money meets The Karate Kid, and it came out of Wahlberg and Levinson seeing Bieber play ball in February during a celebrity game held during NBA All-Star Game weekend. Bieber more than held his own against celebs and former players; he was named MVP. It’s understandable that Paramount would want to be in business with Bieber again. Made on a $13 million budget, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never grossed $97 million worldwide. Paramount immediately hired its director, Jon Chu, to helm its G.I. Joe sequel.
But can the 17-year-old Bieber make the transition to serious actor? Wahlberg was thought of as a hip-hop artist until gritty performances in films like Basketball Diaries