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Paramount TV Unveils First Development Slate That Includes Series Takes On ‘Narc’ & ‘Truman Show’, Firms Up Executive Team

By | Wednesday April 9, 2014 @ 10:41am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

trumanA year after Paramount Studios signaled its re-entry in TV with the relaunch of Paramount Television, the start-up division has set its first development slate. As expected, it includes mining well-known properties from the Paramount movie library. That includes a crime drama with roots in Joe Carnahan’s Narc, with Carnahan writing and directing the pilot, and a re-imagination of the Jim Carrey hit The Truman Show. Additionally, Paramount has boarded the Terminator TV series, joining Skydance Television and Annapurna Pictures, who announced the project back in December. Paramount TV also has in the works an adaptation of hit feature Ghost with filmmakers Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner.

paramounttvOther projects on Paramount TV’s inaugural slate include a drama series inspired by Caleb Carr’s best-selling novel The Alienist, with Anonymous Content (True Detective) executive producing; a limited series event based on A. Scott Berg’s Pulitzer-winning biography Lindbergh; and an adaptation of Peter Moffat’s BBC series The Village with Sundance Productions and All3Media. They join previously announced mutli-project deal with Craig Brewer for original scripted dramas. “While we are just getting started, there has been a terrific amount of momentum at Paramount TV as we look to develop new ideas as well as harness some of the studio’s most iconic titles,” said Paramount TV president Amy Powell. Read More »

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Dayo Okeniyi Lands Final ‘Terminator’ Lead

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 10:55am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In what should be a star-making role, Dayo Okeniyi has dayobeen set to star in Terminator: Genesis, the franchise reboot for Skydance Productions and Paramount Pictures. And here is some more good news for fans: they have made first plans to shoot three installments to put this saga to rest. The second and third films will be done back to back over nine months. The first film gets underway shortly in Louisiana.

Okeniyi and John Boyega were the two top choices for this pivotal final role, and this came down to a tug of war between storied franchises The Terminator and JJ Abrams and Star Wars, which also wanted Okeniyi to test for one of the leads of that film. Paramount and Skydance’s David Ellison stepped up and the actor unpacked his bags. Okeniyi, who co-starred in The Hunger Games and The Spectacular Now, will play a Steve Jobs genius who figures heavily into the conclusion of the film. He is Danny Dyson, who is also the son of the brainiac cyborg developer Miles Dyson, played by Joe Morton in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The young man holds the key to technology development that makes Skynet possible. He’s repped by UTA, Sweeney Entertainment, and attorney Joel McKuin.

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Deadline’s Best Film Stories Of The Week

Catch up on the stories you missed this week:

TarantinoQuentin Tarantino Shelves ‘The Hateful Eight’ After Betrayal Results In Script Leak
By Mike Fleming Jr. EXCLUSIVE: Learning today that his script The Hateful Eight leaked after he gave it to a small circle of actors, Quentin Tarantino tells me that he’s so upset that he has decided that he will not direct that film next.

Rupert Sanders Set To Helm ‘Ghost In The Shell’ For DreamWorks
By Mike Fleming Jr.EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has made a deal with Snow White And The Huntsman helmer Rupert Sanders to direct Ghost In The Shell, a live-action film based on the Japanese manga futuristic police thriller that has a new script from William Wheeler.

Whiplash Sundance AwardSundance: ‘Whiplash’ & ‘Rich Hill’ Win Grand Jury Awards; Dramatic Directing Goes To Cutter Hodierne For ‘Fishing Without Nets’
By Dominic Patten and Jen Yamato – It was the first major deal of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and tonight Whiplash was the big winner at the fest’s Awards Ceremony. The Damien Chazelle-directed film about a young drummer, played by Miles Teller, and his demanding teacher, played by JK Simmons, took both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury prize and the Audience Award. Read More »

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‘Terminator’ Update: Emilia Clarke, Brie Larson On Short List To Play Sarah Connor

Mike Fleming

emiliaEXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that Paramount and director Alan Taylor are looking closely at Emilia Clarke and Brie Larson to play the role of Sarah Connor in the Terminator reboot that is being assembled for a July, 2015 release. Both actresses have tested for the producers, and they are the frontrunners. I have heard that Clarke has an edge, and that would not be surprising. Before Taylor helmed Thor: The Dark World, he directed Clarke in HBO’s Game Of Thrones. She, of course, plays the unforgettable dragon-commanding heroine Daenerys Targaryen in that massive HBO series, and has demonstrated the mettle to capably play one of the screen’s most formidable heroines as originated by Linda Hamilton in James Cameron’s first two films in the series.

brielLarson is emerging from distinguished work on the indie film circuit that this year includes Short Term 12 and The Spectacular Now. She also did 21 Jump Street, and she’s attached to star in the remake of The Gambler. I’ve also heard that Kyle Reese, played by Michael Biehn in the original film, will be a character in this version, as will John Connor, so it seems like a jump into the future might be part of the plot line. The completion of this franchise is expected to span at least two films. They are casting the Sarah Connor role before Reese and … Read More »

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Megan And David Ellison Will Each Pay 33% Of ‘Terminator’ Costs; Paramount Paying The Rest To Bring Arnold Back

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: A spate of reports of movement on The Terminator franchise is a good sign that the franchise is finally starting to percolate again. I’ve learned that each Ellison — David and Megan, both scions of Oracle chief Larry Ellison — will finance 33% of the film’s budget, with Paramount finding the remaining third. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself said yesterday during an appearance in Sydney that he’s coming back and the movie will start shooting in January. None of this is really a surprise: Back in December, Megan Ellison, who’d spent $20 million to buy The Terminator sequel rights during 2011 Cannes, partnered on the franchise with her brother David. She makes prestige films and he makes popcorn fare like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible sequels, so the union made sense. The Wrap claimed an exclusive that Paramount would be the distributor. Well, through Skydance Productions, David makes all his movies with Paramount, so it was kind of obvious the films would likely land there. Skydance and Paramount are just coming through the gigantic ordeal of making World War Z, which, despite a massive budget, looks like it will do some serious global business.

As for Schwarzenegger, he’s been attached since back in May 2011, when Megan Ellison beat out Lionsgate and paid around $20 million for the franchise. She bought it from Pacificor, which had paid $29.5 million to pull the property out of bankruptcy. The latest rumor is that Megan Ellison would make a hail mary pass attempt to draft her Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow. That would be a coup, but it’s being denied, which means either that it’s not true, or Bigelow passed already. The project has been director-less since Fast 6‘s Justin Lin bowed out of the project when it was being developed solely by Megan Ellison. I met Lin at Sundance and he made it clear he wouldn’t return because he was not involved in the development of the script. Ellison in January hired Avatar and Shutter Island‘s Laeta Kalogridis and My Bloody Valentine‘s  Patrick Lussier to write the script, so it stands to reason that the film should be ready to shoot by early next year. Read More »

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Laeta Kalogridis And Patrick Lussier Set To Script New ‘Terminator’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Skydance Productions and Annapurna Pictures have set Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier to script the next installment of The Terminator franchise.

Her credits include Avatar, Shutter Island and Alexander, produced White House Down. Lussier scripted Wes Craven’s Dracula and directed My Bloody Valentine. Skydance’s David Ellison recently hired the scribes to write an original scifi adventure film, with an idea initiated by Skydance. Megan Ellison paid a fortune for the rights several years ago, and recently teamed with brother David, whose company finds big ticket action films like Terminator to be in its wheelhouse. David, who just produced Jack Reacher, had the relationship with the scribes, though interestingly Kalogridis also is tight with Terminator creator James Cameron. Megan Ellison is in the thick of the Oscar race with Zero Dark Thirty and The Master.

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Megan Ellison Enlists Brother David For ‘Terminator’ Reboot

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Nearly 18 months after Megan Ellison pledged over $20 million for the rights to finish The Terminator‘s humanity vs the Skynet cyborgs storyline with a new series of films, she has finally closed the complicated rights deal with Pacificorp. Other than the fact no progress has been made all this time on a script, the surprise here is Ellison has enlisted her brother, David Ellison, to be her financial and creative partner. There is still no studio attached, but future Terminator films will be done as a co-production between her Annapurna Pictures and his Skydance Productions. The Ellisons will produce, while Dana Goldberg, Paul Schwake and Ted Schipper will be exec producers.

Even though Pacificorp spent $29.5 million several years ago to win the rights after Halcyon turned them over to bankruptcy court, insiders tell me that the big numbers in place 18 months ago have been adjusted downward. That is because of the uncomfortable specter of a ticking clock that has continued to wind down as no forward progress was being made. New copyright laws allow for North American rights to The Terminator to revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019 (that happens after 35 years, and The Terminator was 1984). While that law hasn’t been tested in the courts, no major film company would want to move forward on a project with a potentially catastrophic rights crisis looming. So the original pricey deal — made with the expectations there would be three films — was scaled down because the reality is they might only get to make two installments. Four films have been made so far, the first two directed by Cameron, another by Jonathan Mostow and the last, 2009′s Terminator Salvation, helmed by McG. Read More »

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‘Fast’ Schedule Forces Justin Lin To Exit ‘Terminator’, But He Might Be Back

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Things are starting to move on The Terminator franchise, but a plan by rights owner Megan Ellison and Arnold Schwarzenegger to put the first of two pictures in production for the fourth quarter of 2012 has forced director Justin Lin to drop out. But borrowing the film’s signature phrase “I’ll be back,” Lin has left the door open to a return if Ellison and Schwarzenegger will wait until he completes the sixth installment of The Fast and the Furious franchise.

The Terminator franchise has been under the radar since Ellison’s Annapurna Films spent over $20 million to buy film rights during the Cannes Film Festival, with Lin and Schwarzenegger attached. Lin wants to make the film but simply won’t be available, the same situation that prompted him to withdraw from Summit’s Highlander. Lin has been working closely with Schwarzenegger and Ellison to figure a way to end the James Cameron-hatched battle between humans and the cyborgs of Skynet. It would require some effort for Ellison to get the film underway by late next year. She hasn’t got a script and I don’t think she’s even hired a screenwriter yet. She also hasn’t set a studio partner, even though several are interested. Read More »

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Universal Signs Justin Lin To Two-Year Pact

By | Monday August 22, 2011 @ 6:25pm PDT

Universal Pictures has just signed Fast Five director Justin Lin to a two-year production deal for his newly formed company Barnstorm Pictures. Lin has directed three The Fast and the Furious series installments. The last was Fast Five, which has earned more than $600M at the worldwide box office in 2011 and was one of the few bright spots in the studio’s year. Lin will go behind the camera for Fast & Furious 6, to be released May 24, 2013. Hoping to branch beyond fast car movies, Lin is developing an action adventure spy film called Leading Man and an untitled project about the 442 Japanese American WWII battalion that is the most decorated in American history. He is also attached to finish The Terminator franchise with Arnold Schwarzenegger, a project that is set up with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna banner.

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Lionsgate, Megan Ellison In Battle For ‘Terminator’ With Arnold Schwarzenegger And ‘Fast Five’s Justin Lin

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: A high-stakes battle is being waged for the right to relaunch The Terminator, with Fast Five helmer Justin Lin attached to direct and Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to reprise his signature role in one of filmdom’s most iconic franchises. Yesterday, it looked like Lionsgate would win the property with an outright purchase, with an upfront payment of at least half of the $29.5 million that Pacificor spent to claim the property in a bankruptcy auction. That was until Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Films came in with a bid that was higher. They are now fighting it out. As she usually does when she commits to a film, Ellison is staking that amount without having a distributor locked in place.

As Deadline revealed late last month, CAA brought out the package to the town, the first real activity on The Terminator project since February 2010, when the property emerged from a bankruptcy auction and into the possession of Pacificor. While there were several dealmaking scenarios offered, including an option and first dollar gross fees, it’s understandable why an outright purchase would be most attractive to the rights holders.

The Santa Barbara-based hedge fund posted a bid of $29.5 million, with the promise that additional multimillion-dollar payments for each film would go to Halcyon, the company that made the 2009 McG-directed Terminator Salvation. That’s a lot of money to lay out for an extended period of time, with interest costs rising.

I’m told that the deal will close shortly, and that the project could become another hot Schwarzenegger title at the Cannes Film Festival market that’s just getting under way. It would be the third Schwarzenegger movie there. Lionsgate also has Schwarzenegger in the action film The Last Stand, set up as the English language debut of Kim–ji-Woon. Schwarzenegger is also at the center of a QED-funded project that Schwarzenegger is also attached to star in, Cry Macho. Lionsgate has long been interested in extending the James Cameron-created universe of Skynet, John and Sara Connor, and the indestructible cyborgs. In fact, when Halcyon ran out of money and went into bankruptcy,  Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Lionsgate and Sony planning to make back-to-back sequels to bring the franchise to a natural creative conclusion. Read More »

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‘Terminator’ Back With Arnold To Star: Schwarzenegger In Package Shopping Now; ‘Fast Five’s Justin Lin To Direct

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: He’s baaack! Arnold Schwarzenegger is attached to star in a rights package that CAA is shopping today that will revive The Terminator, one of Hollywood’s most iconic scifi franchises. The agency is dropping the package on studios this afternoon. I’m told that already, Universal, Sony and Lionsgate, and CBS Films are looking hard at the package. There is no screenwriter attached at this point, and Robert Cort is producing. This is the first real activity on The Terminator project since February 2010, when the property emerged from a bankruptcy auction and into the possession of Pacificor. The Santa Barbara-based hedge fund posted a bid of $29.5 million, with the promise that additional multimillion-dollar payments for each film would go to Halcyon, the company that made the 2009 McG-directed Terminator Salvation. That film starred Sam Worthington as the cyborg and Christian Bale as John Connor, and the storyline  launched the battle between Skynet and the human survivors of the apocalypse, the war foreshadowed in James Cameron’s visionary 1984 original film. Halcyon wanted to make several films but ran out of money. At the time of the auction, Pacificor beat out a combined bid by Lionsgate and Sony planning to make back-to-back sequels to bring the franchise to a natural creative conclusion.

While many felt at the time that Pacificor overpaid and that Lionsgate and Sony would have been better matches for the material, CAA has chosen an optimum time to seek a new deal. I wrote back in February that Universal quietly was trying to arrange for Lin to be helmer of the project. At the time, some turned up their noses. Given the strong international grosses being racked up by Fast Five and the expectations for a strong domestic opening this Friday, Lin has a lot of heat. And Schwarzenegger is looking to recapture past marquee glory ending his run as California State Governor. Schwarzenegger has circled several projects including Last Stand for Lionsgate, but here, he’s the star, returning to the signature role that once established him as the world’s biggest movie star. Read More »

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With Arnold Back To Acting, Suitors Circle ‘Terminator’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Shortly after Arnold Schwarzenegger left the Governor’s Mansion and Tweeted his desire to  resume his acting career, there seems to finally be some action on his signature franchise, The Terminator. I’m told that interest is kicking back up. One interested party: Universal, which is looking for a directing vehicle for Justin Lin. He helmed the last three installments of The Fast and the Furious franchise, including the latest Fast Five, which Universal releases April 29. I’ve heard that the plan would be to possibly pair him with Chris Morgan, who aside from Fast Five has credits on big scale Universal films that include the upcoming Keanu Reeves actioner 47 Ronin and Wanted.

Since being acquired in bankruptcy court last February by Santa Monica-based hedge fund Pacificor for $29.5 million, The Terminator has maintained radio silence, surprising given the voracious studio appetite for branded tent pole projects that lend themselves to 3D technology. Part of the reason was the subpar results of the last film, but also the bankruptcy auction which left the two most likely distributors, Sony Pictures and Lionsgate, walking away in disgust. Pacificor, one of the debt holders that forced Halcyon partners Victor Kubicek and Derek Anderson into bankruptcy, was the surprise winner, bidding close to the $30 million that Kubicek and Anderson paid to acquire the rights back in 2007 from producers Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar.

While the bankruptcy approval left open … Read More »

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