EXCLUSIVE: If you are a major agency and you wait for an actor to be discovered before signing him, it’s too late. UTA emerged from a competitive situation to sign Lorenzo Richelmy, who is playing the title character in the massive Netflix/Weinstein Company TV limited-run series Marco Polo. Richelmy is a 23-year-old Italian actor who’ll play the 13th century merchant traveler who was among the first to establish ties with Asia. The first two episodes, which I am told are among the priciest ever, will be helmed by Kon-Tiki directors Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, who take this on before doing the next Pirates Of The Caribbean. The 10-hour series is executive produced by creator-writer John Fusco and showrunner Daniel Minahan. It’s Netflix’s attempt to build on original programming successes House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. Richelmy, who is bilingual, starred in the Italian-produced drama Il Terzo Tempo (The Third Half), which premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival, and the comedy La Terra e Il Vento (The Earth And The Wind). UTA becomes the actor’s first American agency. Richelmy continues to be represented in Rome by Daniele Orazi at Consorzio Officine Artistiche.
The Weinstein Company has acquired rights to the Sky Italia crime drama series Gomorra, directed by Stefano Sollima (Romanzo Criminale). Marco D’Amore, Fortunato Cerlino, Maria Pia Calzone, Salvatore Esposito, Marco Palvetti star in the series based on Roberto Saviano’s bestselling novel, the inside story of the fierce Neapolitan crime organization Camorra. It tells the story of 30-year-old Ciro (d’Amore), the right hand of the Savastano clan’s godfather Pietro (Cerlino), and the ruthless war to take over “The System”. The series consist of 12 one-hour installments and in addition to Sky Italia is produced by Cattley, Fandango La 7 and Beta Film. Negotiations began at the 2013 Mipcom market. The deal is for the original series and no remake is planned as of now.
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company has set Ryan Reynolds and is negotiating with Daniel Bruhl to join Helen Mirren in Woman In Gold, a fact-based story that Simon Curtis will direct in May. Mirren will play real-life heroine Maria Altmann, a Jewish WWII survivor who fought the Austrian government to get back several paintings by Gustav Klimt that were pilfered from her family during wartime. Reynolds will play the attorney who took his case despite knowing little about art, and Bruhl will play his adversary.
David Thompson and Kris Thykier are producing, while the executive producers are Harvey and Bob Weinstein for TWC, Christine Langan for BBC and Ed Rubin.
The script was written by Alexi Kay Campbell. The film reunites Harvey Weinstein with Curtis, who most recently directed My Week With Marilyn for TWC. Reynolds just finished Mississippi Grind for directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, and he is the lead of Atom Egoyan’s The Captive and in the Tarsem-directed Selfless, the latter for Focus Features. He’s repped by WME and Darren Statt and his 1314 Management. Bruhl is coming off Rush and most recently wrapped the Anton Corbjin-directed A Most Wanted Man. He’s repped by WME and Anonymous Content.
The agreement gives the studio opportunities to develop scripted or unscripted “multiplatform projects” from work on any of Gannett‘s TV stations, digital assets, and newspapers including USA Today. The companies will hire a development exec to lead the effort. “This groundbreaking venture with Gannett will allow us to discover and explore rich new storylines and narratives for a wide array of audiences,” says Weinstein Company president David Glasser. Gannett CMO Maryam Banikarim called TWC “an innovative marketer” that can help to “bring new content partnerships as well as branded entertainment opportunities to our advertisers.” The companies announced the partnership in New York at Gannett’s upfront presentation to advertisers. Its recent $1.5B acquisition of Belo added 20 TV outlets to Gannett’s portfolio and made the company — which was already the No. 1 owner of NBC affiliates — also the top independent owner of CBS affiliates, and No. 4 with ABC.
EXCLUSIVE: Just told you that Ben Stiller was in talks to play a role in the Alan Ball-directed I Am Chippendales, the film that’s in talks to land at The Weinstein Company. I also can tell you that Stiller is in discussions with TWC to direct The Current War, the Michael Mitnick-scripted fact-based drama about how electricity titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse compete to create a sustainable system and market it to the American people. No deal yet, and they are still figuring out things like cast, but I’m told that Stiller has sparked to the project in a big way. The film will be produced by Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch and Timur Bekmambetov. Stay tuned.
Tribeca To Close Fest With John Carney Pic Formerly Known As ‘Can A Song Save Your Life?’ – What’s Up With Name Change?
John Carney‘s comedy was known by the much more intriguing title Can A Song Save Your Life? when it was one of the buzz titles last fall at its Toronto Film Festival premiere. That’s where The Weinstein Company acquired it in an epic and rich bidding war. Now the music-driven NY-set pic starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, Hailee Steinfeld and Adam Levine has been renamed Begin Again and has been tapped to close the 13th Tribeca Film Festival on April 26. TWC releases the pic July 4. No word from the company today on the reason for changing the name, which really seemed to nail the idea of the film. The pic is infused with the same love of music as Carney’s charming Once, but this one has the star power and broader scope to reach a crossover audience to tell its story of what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Here’s hoping some focus group didn’t have anything to do with this.
Tribeca runs April 16-27 and opens with the Nas rap documentary Time Is Illmatic.
Dimension Television, the TV arm of The Weinstein Co., and Entertainment One Television are teaming up to bring Death In The Modern Age to the small screen. Created and written by Josh Shaffer and Eli Kooris, the original series will be produced by Bob Cooper’s Landscape Entertainment and Michael Fuchs. Death In The Modern Age tells the story of a down-on-his-luck suburbanite who, despite having always played by the rules, faces the implosion of his personal and professional lives in spectacular fashion. He decides to start over and radically reinvent himself by faking his own death. But in today’s age of DNA testing and digital fingerprinting that has all but obliterated the notion of individual anonymity, his escape and ultimate transformation prove to be much easier said than done. “The pilot for Death In The Modern Age blew me away with its original characters and insightful writing. I’m looking forward to working with Landscape and eOne to put together a gripping and original show,” Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company said in a statement.
Bryan Greenberg (How To Make It In America) has signed on to star in Vice alongside Bruce Willis, Thomas Jane and Ambyr Childers. Director Brian A. Miller’s film is set in a futuristic resort where the rich can live out their darkest fantasies and the lifelike staff are actually synthetic beings. Greenberg plays Evan, an extremely intelligent hipster nerd with connections in the hacking community. When Kelly (Childers) escapes from Vice, Evan helps her develop a plan for freedom. The feature is scheduled to start production today in Mobile, AL. Greenberg is repped by Gersh, Ellen Meyer Management and Alan Wertheimer.
Ryan Eggold, who co-stars on NBC’s The Blacklist, has landed a role in Fathers And Daughters, the Gabriele Muccino-directed feature that stars Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried and Aaron Paul. Eggold plays John, a Wall Street type who had a one-nighter with Katie (Seyfried). When they meet randomly in a restaurant a year later, John is hurt that she doesn’t remember him and gets into a fight with Cameron (Paul) when the guy tries to defend her honor. Eggold, whose upcoming projects include Lucky Them opposite Toni Collette, is repped by Untitled and Gersh.
After all the twists and turns on the Shane Salerno-directed docu Salinger that began with a January 2010 Deadline reveal that the film had been shot, how did the documentary do? The American Masters version totaled 2 million viewers, including repeat broadcasts and DVR viewers. This was strong considering the film had been released by The Weinstein Company and was in the top 10 of the year’s theatrical docus, and that it was viewable on Netflix at that time. The Simon & Schuster companion book written by David Shields and Salerno hit both the New York Times and LA Times bestseller lists. And Salerno more than made back the $2 million he invested to make the film, after he made three 7-figure deals with TWC, S&S and American Masters. It didn’t hurt the Salinger estate either, as Catcher In The Rye hit the bestseller charts again, 62 years after its publication in 1951.
“When combined with the incredible sales figures and national social media conversation, it demonstrates the true impact of public television,” said Stephen Segaller, the WNET programming veep in charge of Salinger. “The fact it was the 200th episode of American Masters makes the accomplishment even sweeter.”
‘Marco Polo’ Crew Mourns Ju Kun; Asst Martial Arts Choreographer Is Among Missing On Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
UPDATE: Netflix and The Weinstein Company have just sent a statement regarding Ju Kun: “We are deeply saddened by the news about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370,” they said in a joint statement. “Ju Kun, who was on board, was an integral part of our production team and a tremendous talent. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”
EARLIER: Among the passengers missing and believed to have perished on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is Ju Kun, the veteran martial arts expert and assistant martial arts choreographer on Marco Polo, the Netflix/The Weinstein Company series pilot that is scheduled to begin production in three weeks. The 35-year old stuntman had completed a day of training and choreography and made a quick trip from Pinewood Studios in Malaysia to his home in Beijing, which was why he boarded the flight that disappeared 35,000 feet over Vietnam.
Here’s a much more revealing look at Nicole Kidman-starrer Grace Of Monaco than any we’ve had before. The film, directed by Olivier Dahan, takes place during the early 1960s when Grace Kelly (Kidman) was married to Monaco’s Prince Rainier III (Tim Roth), and during a political dispute between the principality and France. The trailer below provides a take on the struggles the former Hollywood star faced over her role as Princess Grace. Frank Langella, Derek Jacobi, Paz Vega, Parker Posey and Milo Ventimiglia also star. Produced by Pierre-Ange Le Pogam’s Stone Angels, Uday Chopra’s YRF Entertainment, and Arash Amel (and written by Amel), the movie makes its world premiere as the opening-night film of the Cannes Film Festival on May 14. It also goes out in France on that same day and Warner Bros releases in the UK on June 6. The Weinstein Co has the movie Stateside.
Ratings for the BAFTA Film Awards were down Sunday night about 800,000 viewers from last year as 4.56M watched the BBC One broadcast of the 62nd annual kudofest. The revelry was high, though, after the tight two-hour show, especially at the parties that followed the Royal Opera House fest followed by dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel. EOne hosted one in Soho while Warner Bros gathered its Gravity team in Mayfair.
The place to be though was the massive show that The Weinstein Company put on at the Rosewood Hotel in Holborn. Among those in attendance were Oprah Winfrey, David O Russell, Cate Blanchett, Amy Adams, Uma Thurman, Steve Coogan, Michael Fassbender, Daniel Bruhl, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gillian Anderson, Alicia Vikander, Lily Allen, Freddie Fox and Downton Abbey‘s Allen Leech and Tom Cullen. TWC’s Philomena won a prize last night, for Best Adapted Screenplay, written by Coogan and Jeff Pope. The duo is also up for an Oscar in two weeks, and leave it to Harvey Weinstein to also be looking ahead to that occasion with a film …
EXCLUSIVE: In what I am told will go down as the highest price paid ever for U.S. rights on a movie at the European Film Market, The Weinstein Company has locked a deal to pay $7 million for The Imitation Game, the Graham Moore Black List script that Morten Tyldum directed with Benedict Cumberbatch playing Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who led the charge to crack the German Enigma Code that helped the Allies win WWII. Keira Knightley also stars in a film that will be shaped as a major release for the next awards season.
CAA brokered this deal based on a promo reel that had five bidders going after it hard before TWC just took it off the table, with the feeling that it has one of its major Oscar hopefuls for the next race. TWC currently has Philomena in the Best Picture race that will be decided next month.
Compared to the small sales of Sundance, this is a whopper. Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their team headed by COO David Glasser bested five competitors that sparked to a 15-minute compilation of scenes on a picture that has just gone into postproduction. The film also stars Mark Strong and Matthew Goode, and it’s produced by Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman. It was Schwarzman’s Black Bear Pictures label that took the risk on the film after Warner Bros let it go. The TWC acquisition team of Robert Walak, Negeen Yazdi and Dan Guando chased this script for a year. TWC’s Michal Steinberg closed the deal.
Moviegoers who showed up for the midnight screening of Vampire Academy at a Pacific Theatre in Glendale, CA last night were turned away after buying tickets for the vampire romp — learning upon arrival that the screening was cancelled. Refunds were issued. Turns out that nine theaters across the country jumped the gun, a little too anxious to open midnight shows for the vampire movie. Thursday midnights were never scheduled. Distributor The Weinstein Company noted that it rarely, if ever, schedules midnight shows on Thursday. “As a policy we don’t allow them,” said Erik Lomis, TWC’s president of theatrical distribution and home entertainment. “They were listed by mistake. The theaters were informed either Wednesday night or Thursday morning as we found out about them.” The Glendale 18 was notified on Tuesday afternoon but tickets were still selling at 4 PM online all the way up to three hours before showtime. There were only nine theaters out of the 2,676 that made the error and certainly those fans who bought tickets Thursday will buy tickets for this weekend.
The daughter of one of the producers, Jillian Preger DeFrehn, who runs the Facebook fan page, showed up at the Glendale 18 to greet fans and ended up apologizing to everyone on …
EXCLUSIVE: Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara now have a third wheel in Carol. Hot off snagging the lead in Netflix‘s upcoming psychological thriller from the Damages creators, Kyle Chandler has now also joined the Todd Haynes-directed film. Picked up by the Weinstein Company in Cannes last year, Carol chronicles the burgeoning and tempestuous relationship between two very different women in 1950s NYC. Oscar winner Blanchett plays the older of the two, a wife trapped in a dead marriage who’s desperate to leave but also fears losing her daughter if she does. Friday Night Lights alum Chandler, who can currently be seen in The Wolf Of Wall Street, plays Harge, the Blanchett character’s jealous husband. Filming is scheduled to start in mid-March on the Phyllis Nagy penned adaptation of The Talented Mr. Ripley author Patricia Highsmith’s novella The Price Of Salt. Sarah Paulson also stars in the film. Chandler is repped by Gersh and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
BREAKING: The Weinstein Company is on the board with a Sundance acquisition, and it was the company’s multi-platform arm Radius-TWC that made the deal. Tom Quinn and Jason Janego’s division acquired worldwide rights to the Charlie McDowell-directed The One I Love for around $2 million, in a deal that happened 24 hours after the film debuted. The pic stars Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss and Ted Danson and is about a couple with a crumbling marriage that escapes for the weekend in pursuit of their better selves. What they discover awaiting them is an unusual dilemma. The film’s first screening was Tuesday night at the MARC.
Related: Hot Sundance Clip: ‘The One I Love’
The cover story of the current New York Times Magazine tells the story of a lobster fisherman who fell overboard in the middle of the night 40 miles offshore and the frenzied efforts to rescue him. Rachael Horovitz, Jason Blum and Harvey Weinstein will produce A Speck In The Sea for The Weinstein Company. Here’s the release:
New York, NY (January 10, 2014) – The Weinstein Company (TWC) announced today that they have acquired the film rights to writer Paul Tough’s (HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED) New York Times Magazine article “A Speck in the Sea.” The piece, which ran as the magazine’s cover story last Sunday, will be produced for the screen by Rachael Horovitz (Academy Award® nominated for MONEYBALL and Emmy and Golden Globe Winner for GREY GARDENS) along with Jason Blum and Harvey Weinstein. Bob Weinstein will executive produce the project, with TWC creative executive Julie Oh overseeing development.
The NAACP’s 45th annual Image Awards are set for February 22 and will air live on the East Coast On TVOne and tape-delayed in the West from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. The Weinstein Company leads the film noms unveiled today with 17 thanks to three films on the Best Picture list (Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Fruitvale Station), followed by 12 Years A Slave distributor Fox Searchlight with seven. Rounding out the best film noms is Universal’s sequel The Best Man Holiday. BET and CBS lead the nominees in the TV categories with 19 and 16, respectively, followed by ABC with 15 and HBO with 13. Here’s the full list of noms — they span TV, film, books and music — which were announced during TVOne’s presentation at the TCA winter press tour in Pasadena:
EXCLUSIVE: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, Stephen Frears, and author Martin Sixsmith (The Lost Child Of Philomena Lee) discuss the origins of Weinstein sleeper Philomena in the exclusive featurette below. Dench stars in the pic as Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who enlists the help of a writer (Coogan) in her search for the son that was taken away from her 50 years prior. Coogan and Jeff Pope won Best Screenplay honors at the Venice Film Festival and nominated for the Golden Globe. Philomena is also Globes-nominated for Best Actress (Dench) and Best Picture. Check it out: