EXCLUSIVE: National Geographic Channel has teamed with Tony and Ridley Scott to produce a two-hour documentary based on Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever, Bill O’Reilly’s best-selling book with co-author Martin Dugard. The documentary, set to begin production in the spring for an early 2013 premiere globally on the National Geographic Channel, will keep the fast pace of the book, described as a historical thriller with a John Grisham-style narrative about the 1865 murder of President Abraham Lincoln and the furious manhunt for his killer. It will include feature-film quality re-enactments completed with CGI in the signature style of the Scott brothers. “National Geographic has a great legacy of telling some of history’s most riveting stories,” said O’Reilly, who will also serve as an executive producer on the documentary. “The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln is no exception, as it continues to be one of the most significant, life-changing events in America’s young history.”
EXCLUSIVE: Scott Frank will rewrite and direct a feature adaptation of the 2009 British miniseries Unforgiven for GK Films partners Graham King and Tim Headington. When the project was set at GK last year, Christopher McQuarrie was signed to …
EXCLUSIVE: The television division of Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods has signed with WME. The TV company, run by David Zucker, had been represented by CAA. Scott Free Prods recently earned a total of 23 primetime Emmy nominations for its CBS drama series The Good Wife, Starz miniseries …
EXCLUSIVE: Last week, Deadline’s Mike Fleming reported that Ridley Scott is planning another Blade Runner film, while brother Tony Scott plots to do a remake of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah Western classic The Wild Bunch. These are just a couple of many film projects the indefatigable pair are involved in after careers that have spawned some of the most successful pictures of recent years. For Ridley, that would include three Best Director Academy Award nominations for the likes of Best Picture Oscar winner Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Thelma and Louise, and for Tony a resume that includes such hits as Top Gun, Crimson Tide and most recently last year’s Unstoppable. He’s currently prepping Hell’s Angels, while Ridley is working on the 2012 summer release Prometheus. It’s remarkable that they actually have time for anything else, but since 1995 they have been heavily involved in their very prolific joint production company Scott Free, which not only produces their big-screen vehicles (and many others) but also has become a force in television, receiving 23 Emmy nominations this year in multiple categories covering scripted, nonfiction and miniseries. In 2010, it received the Britannia Award for Worldwide Contribution to Filmed Entertainment.
Under the day-to-day guidance of president of television David Zucker, Scott Free has seen growing critical and ratings success in the medium even as both are often in far-flung corners of world making movies. When I caught up with them in a conference call last week, Tony was in London, Ridley was in the South of France, and David was in Los Angeles. Nevertheless, they were thrilled about the Emmy love and planned to be here for the Sept. 18 prime time ceremony, where the CBS hit drama series The Good Wife, now moving into Season 3, is nominated for nine Emmys and the elaborate Starz miniseries Pillars of the Earth collected seven nominations. Their nonfiction entry Gettysburg is a major player also, with seven nods in the Creative Arts awards to be handed out a week earlier.
The secret to all this success, they say, is smart creative choices and independence. “In terms of the creative ambitions of the company, as well as profitability, Ridley and Tony decided a few years ago to go entirely independent, so we have the flexibility to partner with ambitious and like-minded production companies like Tandem Communications but also the freedom to align on network projects or cable projects, with whatever studio or broadcaster that suits the material,” Zucker says. “I think the mandate that has always been the case for the company is that it’s very talent-driven, it’s very writer-driven, so when we happen upon something fiction or nonfiction that excites everyone and that Ridley and Tony want to pursue, then it’s all about finding the right home and about finding the right partner, and so the flexibility of being independent has been critical to being able to have this variety of projects.”
EXCLUSIVE: Deadline revealed this morning that Ridley Scott was returning to his sci-fi classic Blade Runner. His Scott Free partner and brother Tony Scott is also getting serious about a new version of a movie classic. Scott …
EXCLUSIVE: German-based Tandem Communications and Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods. have locked in the main cast of their $44 million eight-hour miniseries World Without End, a follow-up to The Pillars of the Earth, which the two companies also co-produced. Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson, Ben Chaplin, Peter Firth (MI5), Charlotte Riley (The Duchess) and Tom Weston-Jones (Enlightenment) lead the cast of the mini, based on the novel by The Pillars of the Earth author Ken Follett. Michael Caton-Jones (Rob Roy) is directing from a script by John Pielmeier, who also adapted The Pillars of the Earth for Tandem and Scott Free. The two companies are co-producing World Without End with Canada’s Take 5 Prods. and Galafilm.
Set in England 200 years after the events in Pillars, World chronicles tough times for ordinary citizens who are being hit with enormous taxes by the King, the Church as England teeters on the brink of a devastating 100-year war with France, and Europe is bracing for a terrible plague, which will wipe out a third of the continent’s population. The mini centers on Caris (Riley), a visionary woman who, with her lover Merthin, builds a community that stands up to the Crown and the Church.
EXCLUSIVE: While Jack Sparrow is frolicking on the big screen in the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie, his brethren are becoming a hot commodity on TV. Just as FX and Fox International Channels teamed with producers Graham King and Gale Anne Hurd for 17th century pirate drama Port Royal, another pirate series is setting sail at Fox. The network is in negotiations for the project, Pyrates, which is envisioned as a 10-13-episode event-type limited series for summer 2012. The series was created by Law & Order/Numbers veteran Barry Schindel, with Stephen Hopkins (24) on board to direct the first episode. Indie producer Ensemble Entertainment is producing in association with Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods. Based on historical events, Pyrates is described as a gritty portrayal of the men and women who pulled off the largest heist on pirate history — the capture of the Spanish silver fleet in 1628 — sparking the golden age of piracy, a time when there was greater honor amongst thieves than those who hunted them. Ensemble is exploring an international co-production model for the project and is scouting potential locations for the production, including the Caribbean and Australia. Endemol will handle international distribution for Pyrates through the first-look deal with Ensemble the company signed last fall.
EXCLUSIVE: Alice in Wonderland‘s Mia Wasikowska is negotiating to star in Stoker, the Fox Searchlight thriller that will be directed by Oldboy and Thirst director Chan-wook Park. The script was written by Wentworth Miller, the Prison Break star who wrote under the pseudonym Ted Foulke. Ridley and Tony Scott will produce with Michael Costigan under the Scott Free banner.
Carey Mulligan had been attached when the script sold, but it be Wasikowska in the lead role when shooting begins this spring. She’ll play an eccentric teen whose enigmatic and estranged uncle returns to the family after the death of the girl’s father. Strange things begin to happen. Jodie Foster had been attached along with Mulligan, but she’s not doing the film, I’m told. When he sold Stoker, Miller had also written Uncle Charlie, a prequel that explores another chapter in the history of a family with a knack for burying secrets as well as bodies.
20th Century Fox has acquired screen rights to the Mark Millar/Steven McNiven graphic novel Nemesis. Tony Scott is attached to direct and Scott Free will produce. The graphic novel was written by Millar, whose Wanted and Kick-Ass creations were turned into films, and whose Marvel Comics titles include the revamped X-Men, the Avengers series The Ultimates, and Civil War, the latter of which is DC Comics Superman: Red Son. Nemesis was published in March by Marvel’s Icon Comics imprint. McNiven is the artist behind Civil War and other collaborations with Millar. (The website Bleeding Cool had the Scott news first.)