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.”
The clock has started on 24, the feature version of the Imagine Entertainment/Fox series. The project brings back Kiefer Sutherland’s tireless government operative Jack Bauer. Mark Bomback — a favorite writer at 20th Century Fox writing The Wolverine and Shadow Divers – is doing some last minute tweaking of Billy Ray’s script, and will turn it in by year’s end. Imagine and the studio have about five directors in mind — no, Tony Scott is not attached anymore — and it will all begin happening very quickly in the early part of next year. The goal is to get the film into production to match Sutherland’s availability, which begins in April. That should give producer Brian Grazer something to do after he completes producing the Academy Awards, and it is certainly good news for fans of the show who were beginning to fear the project wouldn’t happen.
Twentieth Century Fox acquired the action thriller spec Narco Sub from David Guggenheim with Tony Scott attached to direct. Simon Kinberg’s Genre Films is producing with Tony and Ridley’s Scott Free shingle. Guggenheim developed the script with Kinberg and it has become a priority at Fox which is home to Scott Free and Genre. Described as reminiscent of Scott’s Crimson Tide and Man on Fire, plot for Narco Sub involves the semi-submersible crafts South American drug cartels employ to smuggle cocaine into the U.S. Tony Scott last directed Unstoppable for Fox with Denzel Washington starring. Kinberg is writer/producer of Fox’s This Means War as well as a producer on the just wrapped Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Neal Blomkamp’s Elysium. Guggenheim has a bunch of works in progress. His script Santiago based on a pitch Fox bought last year is out to filmmakers with Kinberg producing. Guggenheim also has Safe House opening February 10 with Washington and Ryan Reynolds. Also in post is Guggenheim’s spec project Medallion with Nic Cage directed by Simon West from Millennium Films. McG also just signed to direct Guggenheim’s Puzzle Palace for Summit, and Guggenheim just sold another pitch 364 to Universal for Ron Howard to direct. Steve Asbell will oversee Narco Sub for Fox, Michael Costigan and Elishia Holmes for Scott Free and Aditya Sood for Genre Films. Guggenheim’s agent is David Boxerbaum and manager is Adam Kolbrenner at Madhouse.
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 write the early draft as a potential vehicle for Angelina Jolie. McQuarrie did his job before going off to direct Tom Cruise in One Shot for Paramount. Jolie had never been formally attached, and so it won’t be clear who’ll star until Frank does his rewrite and gets the film ready.
Frank is finishing Houdini for Sony Pictures and director Francis Lawrence, and he also scripted Hell’s Angels for director Tony Scott and Fox. Both of those are priority projects and his adaptation of the Lawrence Block novel A Walk Among the Tombstones was resurrected by Cross Creek Pictures for DJ Caruso to direct. Frank made his directorial debut on his script The Lookout.
Unforgiven is about a woman’s attempt to rejoin society after she serves a 15-year prison stretch for the murder of two policemen. The tragedy happened after the policemen came to evict her family from their farmhouse. Her hope is to live quietly and reunite with her troubled younger sister, but the paroled woman is targeted for a revenge campaign by two sons of one of her victims. Suranne Jones played the lead in the original miniseries, which was …
Add another platform for Ridley and Tony Scott. The pair are collaborating on a web video series for Call of Duty Elite TV, an upcoming service built around the Activision game franchise. The series from Ridley Scott Associates, called Friday Night Fights, will bring real life rivals together to battle it out in Call of Duty multiplayer. Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg announced plans for the series Friday night in a presentation at the two-day game festival Call of Duty XP in Playa Vista, Calif. The Scotts have proven themselves quite the multi-taskers. As Deadline’s Mike Fleming reported exclusively last month, Ridley is revisiting Blade Runner, on top of working on his 2012 summer release Prometheus, and Tony is preparing to reboot The Wild Bunch while also gearing up for Hell’s Angels. Both are heavily involved in their prolific Scott Free Productions, which has built up a television empire, receiving 23 Emmy nominations this year. Call of Duty Elite TV launches in November, with other programming for the web TV outfit coming from Jason Bateman and Will Arnett’s DumbDumb, in partnership with Ben Silverman’s multimedia studio Electus.
Bumble Ward, who halted her career as a personal publicist to take up creative writing in 2005, is in negotiations to head up film publicity at 20th Century Fox, I’m told. She would replace Carol Sewell and report to Oren Aviv and Tony Sella. When Ward stepped away from the PR game, it was a shock. At the time she shuttered the 10-year old firm she built after coming to Hollywood from London in 1987, Ward had a list of clients to die for — repping Quentin Tarantino, Sofia Coppola, Peter and Bobby Farrelly, Marc Forster, Tony Scott, Stephen Gaghan, James Mangold, Mira Nair, Tim Burton and Paul Thomas Anderson. She also had a thriving Oscar-season business. I could not get a confirmation from Fox, but I believe this will all go down soon.
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 The Pillars of the Earth and History special Gettysburg (see also: Ridley And Tony Scott Build TV Empire And Invade The Emmy Awards). For features, Ridley Scott continues to be repped by WME and Tony Scott by CAA.
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 is in talks with Warner Bros to direct a reboot of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah-directed The Wild Bunch. This film becomes one of three or so that Scott is most eager to direct as his follow-up to the Denzel Washington-Chris Pine action film Unstoppable.
Scott’s next assignment will be Hell’s Angels, though its timing will depend on whether he gets the actor he wants to play gang leader Sonny Barger. I’m told that he wants Jeff Bridges. They’ve not met face to face yet, because Bridges is right now touring his self-titled musical album that he recorded after he won the Oscar playing Bad Blake in Crazy Heart. Once Bridges gets back to film work, he’s booked to star with Ryan Reynolds in Universal’s R.I.P.D. and Warner Bros/Legendary Pictures’ The Seventh Son. If Scott has his heart set on Bridges and the actor says yes, Hell’s Angels won’t get underway until next spring or later. Fox 2000′s Hell’s Angels is set around the Laughlin riots of 2001 when the Angels were caught up in a war with rival gang The Mongols. The drama revolves around a friendship that develops between …
Jacki Weaver, whose murderous matriarch earned her an Oscar nomination for Animal Kingdom, has signed on to star in Stoker, the Fox Searchlight thriller that was written by actor Wentworth Miller under the pseudonym Ted Foulke. Weaver joins Nicole Kidman, Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode in the Chan-wook Park-directed thriller about a teen who is mourning the death of her father and has to deal with an eccentric uncle who shows up unexpectedly. Scott Free’s Ridley and Tony Scott and Michael Costigan are producing. Weaver, who just wrapped The Five Year Engagement for Universal and Judd Apatow, is repped by ICM and Elevate Entertainment.
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.
Bridget Jones’s Diary helmer Sharon Maguire has signed on with Scott Free to direct her scripted adaptation of Fly Me To The Moon, based on the Alyson Noel novel. The book takes a Bridget Jones-like approach to the misadventures of a young flight attendant looking for sex, love and hopefully the chance to find herself, in the bustling world of international travel. Giannina Facio is producing for Scott Free, and Ridley and Tony Scott are exec producing.
Cinemax has picked up to series action-crime series The Sector, from Ridley and Tony Scott’s Scott Free Prods. The project was created and written by Aaron Benay and Matthew Benay, with former Criminal Minds executive producer/showrunner Simon Mirren on board as exec producer/showrunner. The Sector had been in development at Cinemax with Anne Thomopoluos for several months. Now it’s going forward, with German production company Tandem Communications set to produce with Scott Free. The Sector is described as an action-crime series in the vein of Blade Runner and District 9 which tracks the commander of a paramilitary unit who pursues a dangerous new race of genetically-enhanced humans. Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Anne Thomopoulos, Rola Bauer, David W. Zucker and Jonas Bauer are exec producing. This is the third straight-to-series pickup at Cinemax in the past couple of months following Strike Back and The Transporter.
EXCLUSIVE: Ridley Scott and Tony Scott’s production company has optioned Pigeon English, a debut novel by Brit writer Stephen Kelman that Bloomsbury is due to publish on March 23rd. The BBC has commissioned the script of this television movie, one of the first to be developed by Scott Free’s UK TV arm. Jack Thorne, one of the busiest young writers in the UK today (Scouting Book for Boys), is adapting the book. Pigeon English follows Harri, a 12-year-old Ghanaian boy, newly arrived in London who lives in a housing project with his mother and sister. When Harri and his friend Dean see police tape around a boy murdered on the estate, Harri decides to start a murder investigation of his own – putting his family into danger.
Adam Smith, whose credits include Skins and the BBC’s Little Dorrit, is attached to direct. The producer is Liza Marshall of Scott Free UK. The adaptation has been commissioned by Piers Wenger, executive producer of Doctor Who. Marshall said: “Pigeon English is an original, funny, warm and incredibly moving coming of age story. The moment I read it, I fell in love with it and we’re very excited to be bringing this wonderful book to the screen.”
Scott Free US is developing two more TV projects. The U.S. arm is producing Philip K. Dick’s novel The Man in the High Castle as a four-part miniseries also for the BBC written by Howard Brenton (Spooks/MI-5), and The …
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.
The current fascination with 1960s period dramas in the U.S. is spreading internationally. Ridley and Tony Scott have come aboard to produce The Drivers, a series based on the high-octane 24-hour motor race in Le Mans during the 1950s-1960s. The Scott’s Scott Free will co-produce with Headline Pictures and Sennet Entertainment the project, funded by FremantleMedia as part of their strategy of developing and package drama series for the international market. The series is based on the book, Shelby: The Man, The Cars, the Legend, written by Wallace A. Wyss and optioned from Iconografix, which tells the true story of wild young drivers from the US, Germany, France, Italy and Britain, friends and rivals, amateurs risking everything for a shot on the tracks. “I grew up in the North of England at a time when Stirling Moss was a hero,” Ridley Scott said. “Everyone wanted to be a racing driver. This is a hugely ambitious project and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell the story of these iconic and legendary men who risked everything to win at Le Mans. It’s an epic story …
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Brothers film execs are telling Deadline there will be major announcements involving DC characters coming in 4 weeks. But I can tell you now that Superman producers Chris Nolan and Emma Thomas are getting closer to resuscitating the Man of Steel. I’m told they have begun meeting with a short list of directors for the job of directing Superman, the picture which will be financed by Warner Bros and Legendary Pictures. On the list: Unstoppable‘s Tony Scott, Let Me In director Matt Reeves, Battle: Los Angeles helmer Jonathan Liebesman (who just got the Warner Bros/Legendary job of directing Clash of the Titans 2), Duncan Jones, who just directed Source Code, and Sucker Punch helmer Zack Snyder. As Deadline first revealed back in February (Chris Nolan Will Mentor Superman 3.0), Nolan came up with an idea that put the Batman director in a godfather position on Superman, which besides from the Batfranchise is the linchpin of DC Comics franchise characters. David Goyer wrote a script. Several of these directors have movie commitments like Liebesman, which make then unlikely. Nolan has already started meeting with candidates and will submit his choice to the studio within the next few weeks. Warner Bros and Legendary have to get the picture made by 2012, because the studio …
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.)