EXCLUSIVE: Chris George is joining the book department of The Gotham Group. He had been an exec at AMSEF/Kalitech where he worked closely with Tom Clancy, overseeing development of the the late author’s last four bestsellers, Dead Or Alive, …
UPDATE: Statement from Paramount chief Brad Grey: “Tom Clancy was one of the great storytellers of our time and his passing has been deeply felt by all of us at Paramount. We are forever indebted to Tom for making this studio his home, and our deepest sympathies go out to his family, and his many fans, at this great loss.”
EARLIER: Reports are coming in that bestselling author Tom Clancy has died at age 66 in a hospital near his Baltimore home. His military post-Cold War espionage thriller novels launched the Jack Ryan film series, and he was one of several authors who, in the 1990s, became franchise fixtures, commanded big bucks, and often fought with the studios that turned his books into films. He co-founded the vidgame developer Red Storm Entertainment, which is now owned by Ubisoft, and he has had his name on numerous mega-selling video games including the Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six series.
Clancy in later years wrote his books with the help of co-authors, but the star of this former insurance agent and military buff was really launched after it was revealed that President Reagan was a fan of his military thrillers. Paramount launched a franchise based on his signature character, CIA analyst Jack Ryan, with the 1990 Alec Baldwin-starrer The Hunt For Red October.
Clancy’s relationship with the studio and its filmmakers often became contentious, after Paramount chief Brandon Tartikoff bounced Baldwin when he wanted to delay while doing A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway. Tartikoff had just had a movie with Harrison Ford fall apart called Night Ride Down, but they were eager to work together, and the change was made. While Ford took the series through two Phil Noyce-directed screen blockbusters — Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger — Clancy often bristled about how his work was handled, and I think he never warmed to Ford’s portrayal. That was especially true in Patriot Games, where Clancy grew incensed for, among other things, a scene in which an IRA backer delivers info on the culprits who tried to kill his wife. It came in a package with a doll, and Ryan’s child was seen playing with the doll. Clancy hated that. Paramount also owns the series based on a spinoff character, Clark, a mercenary who first appeared in the form of Willem Dafoe in Clear And Present Danger, and who headlined the novel Without Remorse. The studio has tried numerous times over the years to turn that book into a feature and is still trying. Ben Affleck took over the Ryan character in The Sum Of All Fears, and under producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian and Mace Neufeld, the series was revived with the Kenneth Branagh-directed Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, with Chris Pine playing a young Ryan, and Kevin Costner playing his CIA mentor. That film, which was based on Clancy-created characters but an original storyline by Adam Cozad, is in post-production and is set for a December 25 release date, and Paramount has high hopes it will reignite the series. Clancy also has a new novel due out that same month, Command Authority.
Paramount’s ‘Jack Ryan’ Resurrecting Tom Clancy’s Hero Finally Set For 4th Quarter 2013; Keira Knightley Cast As Chris Pine’s Love Interest; Prequel Story Starts Trilogy
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline can now confirm the cast for this long gestating, highly anticipated action thriller that will be the first of an anticipated franchise trilogy. It resurrects the popular Tom Clancy character of CIA analyst Jack Ryan last seen on film in 2002 and now played by Chris Pine in the role already made famous by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. After various starts and stops, bad luck and good fortune, Deadline also has learned that Jack Ryan finally has come together for a release in the 4th quarter of 2013.
Paramount chose to wait for Pine to complete the second installment of Star Trek in this contemporized original prequel story that picks up Ryan before he joined the CIA. (Paramount long ago locked in Pine after he played Captain Kirk.) His love interest and the female lead is Keira Knightley. Paramount was intensely searching because it’s a high profile role — an older version of the character was played by Anne Archer in the Harrison Ford films — and involves options that would potentially put the actress in three pictures.
As Deadline previously reported, Kevin Costner has an invented but key role as does the film’s director Kenneth Branagh who will play the Russian villain plotting to wreck the U.S. economy. Paramount began talks with the Thor helmer to replace the once-attached Jack Bender. Paramount courted Costner to become a linchpin in not only Jack Ryan but also the spinoff franchise Without Remorse based on Clancy’s 1993 novel. (The studio is now courting The Dark Knight Rises villain Tom Hardy to star, with Christopher McQuarrie rewriting to direct.) The deal that came together envisions Costner potentially headlining his own film as William Harper, a true blue American idealist who recruits and mentors both Ryan and John Kelly from Without Remorse. Kelly later becomes CIA operative Clark.
Paramount like every studio is looking to build tentpoles and has a good opportunity for more than one here by cross-pollinating characters Ryan and Clark like The Avengers successfully keeps doing.
Branagh recently described the movie as “an original story that allows us to understand how Jack Ryan develops into a CIA analyst, before joining, and perhaps even joining, the CIA. It’s a very contemporary action thriller set in the here and now.” its launching point is mentioned in Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October book and film: a terrifying helicopter crash that nearly killed Ryan when he was a 23-year-old Marines platoon leader and the only member to survive.
Paramount Pictures and co-financier Skydance Productions went top shelf to get the franchise relaunch to the starting line and hired David Koepp for 7-figures to redraft the script by Adam Cozad known as Moscow. Cozad was a screenwriter without a screen credit and yet now is in the middle of some of the bigger projects in town.
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has confirmed to me that it is near a deal with Christopher McQuarrie to adapt Tom Clancy’s 1993 novel Without Remorse, with an eye toward directing the film. I’d revealed last week that this was looking …
EXCLUSIVE: While Johnny Depp waits to see if director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer can figure out a way to salvage The Lone Ranger after Disney halted the film because of a huge budget, Depp is making forward progress on dusting off another period property. David Koepp has been set to write the script for the remake of the 76-year-old film The Thin Man, the remake that Depp set up last year at Warner Bros as a vehicle to re-team with his Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides director Rob Marshall. Depp will produce with his Infinitum Nihil partner Christi Dembrowski, Langley Park’s Kevin McCormick, Marshall and John DeLuca. There was talk that Jerry Stahl was going to write, but apparently nothing was written and Koepp is going to start from scratch. Which means he’ll go back to the Dashiell Hammett novel that spawned the series of six MGM films that starred William Powell and Myrna Loy.
Depp will play Nick, the former detective who marries an adorable young socialite, drinks a lot and occasionally solves a case. There is no word yet on who’ll join Depp and play Nora. The original intention is to take elements of the first two films and work them into one film, putting it into a period setting and giving it a Sherlock Holmes-like stylized treatment. Marshall also intends to use his talent as a choreographer (remember he did Chicago) and work in a musical number or two.
Paramount isn’t confirming any of this, but I’m told that there soon should be good news and bad news on the Star Trek sequel front. The good news: With his film Super 8 set for release June 10, JJ Abrams is expected to announce shortly his return as director of Star Trek 2. The bad news: Even moving at warp speed, Abrams will be hard pressed to make the June 29, 2012 release date that the studio set for the film. I’m told that the move being considered right now is to push Trek back for a Holiday 2012 release. This comes after Paramount pushed back the other franchise film in its arsenal that has Chris Pine as its star. Pine’s also playing Jack Ryan in the reboot of the Tom Clancy-created series. Pine was expected to shoot that film first, but the script wasn’t ready. Paramount hired David Koepp to rewrite Adam Cozad’s script. Koepp just began writing this week after completing his film Premium Rush.
Why is Star Trek in such precarious shape, just 13 months before its release date? The film has three top-flight writers in Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman and Damon Lindelof. Like Abrams, all of them have been busy on other films. Kurtzman directed Welcome to People. Orci has been busy on Cowboys & Aliens and in prepping the Gavin Hood-directed sci-fi epic Ender’s Game. Lindelof has been busy working on Prometheus, the Ridley Scott film for Fox that was conceived as a 3D prequel until Lindelof came on to do a rewrite and changed the concept so much that they consider it an original. The result? It doesn’t sound like they are close to having a script that will live up to the high quality of the first film that revived a dead franchise.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow in recent weeks has been preparing and starting to cast an indie movie with the working title Kill Bin Laden, while another movie project about the hunt for the Al Queda terrorist leader at a major Hollywood studio stalled back in 2006. Given tonight’s startling news, it’s clear that these may be the timeliest film projects in recent Hollywood history. And judging from tonight’s showbiz phone calls coming into Deadline about Osama bin Laden’s death, I wouldn’t be surprised if the movie studios are anxious to bring these projects to the big screen as soon as possible, updated with the details behind tonight’s successful military mission. Have you seen those spontaneous cheering crowds that formed tonight outside Washington DC’s White House and in NYC’s Times Square as well as around major American cities and small towns? If a patriotic film about this story can tap into these feelings of first helpless horror and then widespread frustration and then successful closure, it could be a real winner at the box office.
Bigelow and Mark Boal, her collaborator on The Hurt Locker, have been mobilizing their film to go into production as their follow-up to that Best Picture Academy Award winner. Their movie as planned was based on an earlier unsuccessful mission to try to kill the Al Qaeda leader responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack on America as he hid in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. But now they’ve certainly got a celebratory ending to that dramatic story with tonight’s announcement that the U.S. conducted a military operation that killed Bin Laden. Mind you, reps for Bigelow have told me previously that this movie isn’t specifically about the Al Qaeda leader. A lot of details about this film are stilll sketchy and secret, but I’ve heard that Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle chief Larry Ellison, is ready to fund it. I heard as recently as Friday that Bigelow and Boal were courting Joel Edgerton for the lead actor. Edgerton had been on the short list for two Universal Pictures movie projects in the works, The Bourne Legacy and Snow White And The Huntsman.
Meanwhile, back in 2006, Paramount Pictures optioned Jawbreaker, a book by U.S. intelligence operative Gary Berntsen about the December 2001 American-led military mission to hunt and kill Bin Laden right during the opening stages of the 9/11-prompted invasion of Afghanistan that the author as the CIA pointman had helped coordinate with Special Operations Forces. The heavily vetted book detailed how close those forces came to finding and executing Bin Laden in the rugged mountains of Tora Bora until they were pulled back after a decision was made to let Pakistan tribal leaders lead the search — a decision experts felt helped Bin Laden get away. The studio hired The Path To 9/11 scribe Cyrus Nowrasteh
Jack Bender is atop the short list of directors to resuscitate the Tom Clancy-created Jack Ryan franchise, with Chris Pine playing the character in a contemporized original story that picks up Ryan before he joined the CIA. Paramount Pictures and co-financier Skydance Productions are readying for a February production start and I’ve heard Bender is the fave among a group of directors who’ve met on the coveted gig. He’s meeting today with Pine at the studio. The pic’s tentatively titled Moscow, and has a script by Adam Cozad. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mace Neufeld are producing.
While Bender has features on his resume, his momentum comes from his work as director and exec producer on Lost, where he helmed the finale. He has also directed episodes of Alias, The Sopranos, and many other series. Paramount long ago locked in Pine to play Ryan, after the studio saw what they had when he played Captain Kirk in Paramount’s relaunch of Star Trek. Pine next stars with Reese Witherspoon and Tom Hardy in the Fox comedy This Means War, and the plan is to put the Jack Ryan film into production by February so Pine can play Ryan and then reprise as Kirk in the Star Trek sequel.
Amazon.com is crowing that for the first time, its e-book sales volume has surpassed hardcovers. Am I the only one who sees this as an apocalyptic sign for the great pleasure of book reading? Amazon’s basing its assertion on sales figures …
The just completed Thrillerfest — think Comic-Con for thriller authors and their fans — featured a lecture that caught my eye. Sleepers author Lorenzo Carcaterra chose the 10 best thriller films made from books, the 10 worst, and the 10 he …