EXCLUSIVE UPDATE: Stephen Frears‘ Lance Armstrong movie is further along than I thought. I’m told that Ben Foster is already in final talks to play Armstrong in the film, which was scripted by Trainspotting’s John Hodge and covers Armstrong’s career from his cancer ordeal to the scandal that brought him down. Always a good actor, Foster has a lot of momentum coming into what could be a careermaking role. He will next be seen in two films that premiered at Sundance, IFC’s Ain’t Them Body Saints and Sony Pictures Classics’ Kill Your Darlings. Foster, who last spring made his Broadway debut opposite Alec Baldwin in Orphans, stars opposite Mark Wahlberg in the Peter Berg-directed Navy SEAL saga Lone Survivor, which Universal releases December 27. The hope is to begin production on the Armstrong film this fall. He is repped by WME, Hodge by United Agents. Still no official comment from reps or Working Title.
EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 10:19 AM: Director Stephen Frears, in Hollywood promoting his HBO film Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight at TCA, is moving fast on another fact-based movie based on an iconic athlete. I’m told that Frears and Working Title partners Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner have teamed up on a feature film on the doping scandal that enveloped the Tour de France and led to the downfall of 7-time champion Lance Armstrong in the biggest doping scandal in the history of sports. I’m still trying to get all the details, but they are eyeing a start as soon as this fall on the movie. That makes Frears a surprise entry in a crowded field, and that doesn’t even factor in a Sony Pictures Classics deal this week to release the documentary The Armstrong Lie. Read More »
News Corp‘s soon-to-be-separated media and entertainment assets, to be known as 21st Century Fox, is adding its logo to Team Sky, the conglom’s BSkyB-sponsored pro cycling team — and just in time for the 100th Tour de France. The sport’s biggest event begins Saturday on Corsica and runs through July 21, giving Rupert Murdoch’s newly named company some serious worldwide brand awareness. It’s an interesting play: The sport is in the midst of recovering from a series of doping scandals that have engulfed even its biggest star Lance Armstrong, while News Corp has been dealing with a phone-hacking scandal of its own. Both now are working to rebuild trust with their respective audiences. News Corp splits its entertainment and publishing assets officially on Friday, and as part of the Team Sky deal announced today 21st Century Fox will become a 50-50 shareholder with founder BSkyB. Said current News Corp deputy COO James Murdoch, “It’s a great time to increase our commitment to Team Sky and to add the support of an exciting new entertainment brand.”
Related: Rupert Murdoch Unveils 21st Century Fox Logo: Video
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures and Bad Robot partners JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk are going to make a movie about the epic rise and fall of doping bicyclist Lance Armstrong. They’ve just closed a deal for screen rights to Cycle Of Lies: The Fall Of Lance Armstrong, a proposal for a book that will be written by Juliet Macur for HarperCollins.
Macur is a sports reporter for The New York Times, and she has covered Armstrong for over a decade, through the cyclist’s recovery from deadly cancer to his capturing seven Tour de France title. She has also covered the allegations of doping that Armstrong vehemently denied, before finally falling on his sword in a much publicized interview with Oprah Winfrey (since that two-part program will put Winfrey’s OWN on the map, I’m waiting to read the story on whether or not Armstrong got paid handsomely for his confession).
Related: Lance Armstrong Confesses To Oprah: Video
This is the first fresh new Hollywood feature I’ve heard of since Armstrong went from hero to zero, particularly because he protested his innocence so vociferously. Sony Pictures has long had an Armstrong feature project, but the studio dropped it awhile ago, when Armstrong began his descent from grace. This one had the biker’s pal Jake Gyllenhaal poised to star, and it was clearly meant to tell a heroic story of … Read More »
The Tour De France has a new sprinting star: 22-year-old Slovakian Peter Sagan. He’s won 3 of the 6 stages so far in the first week of racing. More than that, his Hollywood victory salutes are winning him worldwide fans. He has cycled across the finish line pumping his arms in the running style of Forrest Gump. But his antics Friday at first flummoxed announcers who thought he was doing a gorilla impression. Of course moviegoers knew immediately what Sagan was up to in his green best-sprinter jersey: “I called this one ‘The Hulk’”:
The new multiplatform agreement goes into effect next year and gives NBC Sports Group the U.S. television, digital and mobile rights to the famed bike race through 2023. The tour was the marquee event on Comcast‘s Versus channel, which was rebranded and relaunched at the start of this year as NBC Sports Network folllowing Comcast’s purchase of NBCUniversal. Today’s announcement of a deal with rightsholder the Amaury Sport Organisation comes as NBC is prepping to broadcast this year’s race. It includes 295 total hours of coverage — 19 of the 21 stages will air live, and two will air live on NBC. The full-court press features 13 hours of racing and analysis topped by a nightly studio show. Coverage of this year’s 99th edition begins Saturday at 8 AM ET/5 AM PT at the Grand Start in Belgium. The race’s stunning backdrop — its stages include stretches in the French countryside, and in both the Pyrenees and the Alps — make it one of the best-looking sporting events on TV. (A certain Deadline Editor in Chief doesn’t miss a pedal of it.)