UPDATES THROUGHOUT:Boxtrolls producer Travis Knight gave an update on cast member Tracy Morgan during the Focus Features panel for the pic today at Comic-Con. Morgan was seriously injured in a June crash that killed his mentor, comedian James McNair, in New Jersey. “Thankfully he’s home with his family now and recovering… I’ve come down to Comic-Con for five years and not found a family as loving, kind and generous as the Comic-Con family,” he said. Knight and the cast and crew of Boxtrolls led the 6,500 strong Hall H audience in a round of “We love you Tracy” cheers, filming the moment to send to Morgan back home.
The Laika stop motion animation pic has been ten years in the making, but comes after the Portland-based studio’s first two feature hits. Development began before the studio’s Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012) on the tale of a young boy named Eggs who’s raised by a family of underground-dwelling trash-collecting creatures known as the Boxtrolls.
Game Of Thrones‘ Isaac Hempstead-Wright voices Eggs, and got a huge response from fans as he took the stage just a day after the HBO series packed Hall H with its own panel. Elle Fanning and Ben Kingsley also “star” and joined Hempstead-Wright, Knight, and co-directors Anthony Stacchi and Graham Annable to present charming footage from the September 26 release. Laika has created a richly detailed world inspired by works of “Roald Dahl, bits of Monty Python, and Charles Dickens,” according to Knight. Read More »
9TH UPDATE, 12:26 PM:Morgan’s publicist released the following statement this afternoon, “Tracy has been released from the rehabilitation center and will continue his recovery efforts at home with an aggressive outpatient program. He asked me to pass along his sincerest gratitude to everyone who has helped him get to this point. He would also appreciate some privacy during this crucial point in his recovery. In regards to the reports of a lawsuit, I can confirm that Tracy, along with the other victims of this horrific accident, have filed suit.”
8TH UPDATE, JULY 11:Tracy Morgan is suing Wal-Mart over the June 7 crash in which the limo bus he and others were riding was rear-ended by one of the retail giant’s tractor-trailers. The complaint filed in New Jersey District Court alleges that Wal-Mart knew or should have known that the truck’s driver, Kevin Roper, had been awake for more than 24 hours when he fell asleep behind the wheel and rammed into the limo. It also says the truck’s collision-avoidance systems did not engage and that “Wal-Mart knew or should have known that one of the truck’s most important safety features had been compromised.” The former 30 Rock star was critically injured in the New Jersey Turnpike wreck, which killed his mentor, comedian James McNair. McNair’s widow Krista Millea also is a plaintiff along with Morgan’s assistant Jeffrey Millea and comic Ardie Fuqua Jr, both of whom were injured in the crash. The suit reads, “As a direct and proximate result of the physical injuries sustained by Mr. Morgan in the collision, he has been in capacitated from pursuing his usual employment and other activities, may be left with disabilities that will in the future similarly incapacitate him and cause him pain and suffering, and may require medical treatment.” The suit seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial. David Sirotkin, Benedict Morelli and David Ratner of Morelli Alters Ratner LLP in New York are representing the plaintiffs.
4TH UPDATE, 3:45 PM:30 Rock and SNL veteran Tracy Morgan is in critical but stable condition five days after the fatal New Jersey car crash that injured Morgan and three others and killed mentor James McNair. Comedian Ardie Fuqua, Jeffrey Millea and Harris Stanton were the other limo bus passengers hospitalized after the crash. “Today was a better day. While Tracy remains in critical, but stable, condition, he continues to show signs of improvement,” said Morgan’s rep. “His medical team remains optimistic that his recovery is progressing. Megan remains by his side and is relaying the countless good wishes and prayers that his family, friends and fans have been sending their way. In addition, Jeff [Millea]‘s wife asked us to pass along that Jeff has also shown much improvement over the past few days. She is very thankful for the love and support she and their family continue to receive.” Read More »
The only thing we are concerned with is the health and recovery of Tracy Morgan and the victims of this tragic accident. We will support Tracy and his family in every way possible throughout his recovery. At the point when Tracy has recovered and decides that he is ready to go back to work, his show will be waiting for him. Right now our thoughts and prayers remain with Tracy, the other victims of the accident, and their families.
Morgan has been in critical but stable condition at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey following a car crash early Saturday morning that killed Morgan’s mentor and comedy writer James McNair.
Jason Ensler has signed on to be the executive producer/director of Fox’s new coming-of age-drama series Red Band Society, from ABC Studios and Amblin TV. Written/exec produced by Margaret Nagle and based on a Spanish format, Red Band Society, whose pilot was directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, revolves around teenagers who are long-term hospital patients. Ensler will exec produce alongside Nagle, Steven Spielberg, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and Sergio Aguero. WME-repped Ensler previously served as executive producer and directed the pilots of such series as Hart Of Dixie, Cult and Franklin And Bash.
Richie Keen has been tapped to direct and co-executive produce Tracy Morgan’s untitled 10-episode straight-to-series comedy for FXX, from the It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia creators Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton & Charlie Day andSunny writer Luvh Rakhe. Produced by RCG, The Tannenbaum Co. and Nick Frenkel, the series is expected to begin production in New York in August. Keen, repped by CAA, Lonestar Entertainment, and attorney Adam Kaller, will direct the pilot and continue as director/co-exec producer on the series.He has directed several episodes … Read More »
30 Rock alum Tracy Morgan is returning to primetime. I hear FXX has given a straight-to-series order to a comedy series starring Morgan, from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia creators Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton and Sunny writer Luvh Rakhe. This is a brand new concept, which is yet to be fleshed out, unrelated to Death Pact, the comedy pilot FX recently produced, from writers Rob Long and Tad Safran, which starred Morgan as a formerly lazy, pot-dealing assistant high school coach who returns to his hometown as a decorated war hero. I hear FX approached McElhenney, Day and Howerton about working with Morgan in January, with the discussions leading to the new series. While there had been no formal pass on Death Pact, some cast members already have booked new gigs.
Wilfred director/executive producer Randall Einhorn, who helmed the pilot for the quirky FX comedy series, has signed on to direct another FX comedy pilot, Death Pact, starring Tracy Morgan. From writer-creators Rob Long and Tad Safranand producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Death Pact has Morgan playing a formerly lazy, pot-dealing assistant high school coach who returns to his hometown as a decorated war hero. He runs across three down-on-their-luck friends and former students and sucks them into his new radical self-help philosophy, which involves harsh consequences for failure. The pilot, produced by FX Prods, will film this summer in New York or New Jersey. Randall’s duties on Wilfred and Death Pact stem from an overall deal he has with FX Prods.
EXCLUSIVE: After his scene-stealing turn on 30 Rock, the NBC series’ co-star Tracy Morgan is toplining his own single-camera comedy project, this time on cable. FX has given a pilot order to Death Pact, from writer-creators Rob Long (Cheers) and Tad Safran (The Long Weekend) and producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum. In Death Pact, Morgan stars as a formerly lazy, pot-dealing assistant high school coach who returns to his hometown as a decorated war hero. He runs across three down-on-their-luck friends and former students and sucks them into his new radical self-help philosophy, which involves harsh consequences for failure. The pilot, produced by FX Prods, will film this summer in New York or New Jersey. “Needless to say anything starring Tracy Morgan could be off-the-charts hilarious and we’re betting this one is,” said FX’s EVP Original Programming Nick Grad. “Rob Long, Tad Safran, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum have delivered a terrific starring vehicle for Tracy. We look forward to casting the other three co-stars and getting started with production. This is going to be fun.”
The edgy FX should be a suitable home for Morgan’s sensibility, as showcased in his not-always politically correct stand-up. At the cable network, he would join other stand-up comedians including most notably Louis CK. Since 30 Rock ended its run in January, Morgan has been focusing on his stand-up with his international Excuse My French tour. Before his seven-season stint on 30 Rock, which earned him an Emmy nomination, Morgan spent seven years on Saturday Night Live. FX Networks is ramping up comedy development and production as the company is preparing for the launch comedy-focused channel FXX, which will join flagship FX. Read More »
Originally titled Predisposed when it was snapped up by IFC Films after its Sundance premiere, Why Stop Now is about a piano prodigy (Jessie Eisenberg) and his mother (Melissa Leo), who struggles with drug addiction. When she plans to enter rehab the day of her son’s audition for a prestigious music program, a glitch in the system forces them to enlist the help of her drug dealer (Tracy Morgan). Philip Dorling and Ron Nyswaner directed the comedy, which is getting a pre-theatrical run via on-demand outlets like SundanceNOW and iTunes starting today before its theatrical release August 17. New trailer:
UPDATE, 3:39 PM: Tracy Morgan has been released from Park City Medical Center after last night’s incident. He took to his Twitter feed today to explain: “The high altitude in Utah shook up this kid from Brooklyn,” he wrote. Later, he offered thanks to the hospital staff and said he was returning to production on 30 Rock tomorrow.
PREVIOUS, 12:15 AM: According to the 30 Rock star’s publicist Lewis Kay, Tracy Morgan fell ill “from a combination of exhaustion and altitude” while being honored at the Creative Coalition Spotlight Awards in Park City. “Tracy is seeking medical attention. He is with his fiancé and is grateful to the Park City Medical Center for their care. Any reports of Tracy consuming alcohol are 100% false.”
A somber Tracy Morgan appeared at a brief press conference in Nashville today, which was organized by GLAAD. It took place shortly after the actor met with local gay activists, including Kevin Rogers, whose Facebook account of Morgan’s Nashville standup act featuring anti-gay jokes created a media firestorm 10 days ago. Here is an excerpt from Morgan’s statement: “I want to apologize to my friends, and my family and my fans and everyone in every community who were offended with this. I didn’t mean it. … I don’t have a hateful bone in my body. I don’t believe that anyone should be bullied or just made to feel bad about who they are. I totally feel that, in my heart, I really don’t care who you love, same-sex or not, as long as you have the ability to love. … To err is human, to forgive is divine. … Thank you everybody for forgiving me.” Here’s the video:
After a carefully worded statement on Friday, 30 Rock co-star Tracy Morgan today did another mea culpa for his homophobic remarks during a stand-up show in Nashville, this time in his own words. In an interview with Russell Simmons, Morgan apologized profusely for his jokes, which included mocking gay kids for being bullied and threatening to kill his son if he turned out to be gay, and called his statements “indefensible.” Here are highlights of what he said:
“I am so unfiltered. And sometimes as a result I say really stupid shit. The truth is if I had a gay son, I would love him just as much as if he was straight … I might have to try to love even more because I know of the difficulty that he would have in society.”
“Of all the sicknesses, there is probably none more abusive than homophobia. My heart is committed to giving everyone the same rights that I deserve for myself. I don’t care if you love the same sex as long as you have the ability to love someone. Also, you should have the right no matter who you are to protect and serve our country. I am deeply sorry for the comments I made. What I am most sad about is the comments I made about kids and bullying. I would never want any young person to think that I wasn’t on their side and if any young person thinks they can bully a young gay kid, come see me at 30 Rock. On the corner, I would be happy to meet you. Or Brooklyn if you can’t make it into Manhattan.”
At the same time the firestorm stemming from Tracy Morgan’s homophobic remarks was raging on Friday, the 30 Rock co-star received a top award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. Morgan was named best actor in a comedy series at the Golden Nymphs awards ceremony last night. U.S. series dominated the series categories, with Modern Family named best comedy, Mad Men best drama and Jon Hamm best drama actor. The best actress in a comedy series award went to top Germany comedienne Anette Frier for the title role in Danni Lowinski, which the CW tried to adapt this past development season. (Denmark’s Sidse Babett Knudsen won best drama actress for Government.) American shows also won all international TV audience awards: CSI (best drama series), Desperate Housewives (best comedy series) and The Bold and the Beautiful (best telenovela/soap opera)
Tracy Morgan Comes Under Fire For Anti-Gay Rant
NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt, the first openly gay topper of a broadcast network, and 30 Rock creator/executive producer/star Tina Fey just issued statements in response to homophobic remarks by 30 Rock co-star Tracy Morgan at his stand-up show in Nashville last Saturday. The rant, in which Morgan said, among other things that “if his son told him that was gay he … would pull out a knife and stab that little n***** to death,” has created a media firestorm, with gay-rights groups demanding an apology. Morgan issued one earlier today. Greenblatt’s statement indicates that reps for the network have spoken with the actor and “we made it clear to him that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated”, so Morgan will continue on 30 Rock:
Bob Greenblatt, Chairman NBC Entertainment:
I speak for NBC and myself personally when I say we do not condone hate or violence of any kind and I am pleased to see Tracy Morgan apologizing for recent homophobic remarks in his standup appearance. We will always recognize an artist’s freedom to express him or herself, but not when reckless things are said no matter what the context. Unfortunately, Tracy’s comments reflect negatively on both 30 Rock and NBC — two very all-inclusive and diverse organizations -– and we have made it clear to him that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.
Tina Fey, Executive Producer, 30 Rock
I’m glad to hear that Tracy apologized for his comments. Stand-up comics may have the right to “work out” their material in its ugliest and rawest form in front of an audience, but the violent imagery of Tracy’s rant was disturbing to me at a time when homophobic hate crimes continue to be a life-threatening issue for the GLBT Community.
Five years after Michael Richards’ infamous racist tirade at the Laugh Factory, another famous comedian, 30 Rock‘s Tracy Morgan, is coming under fire over a rant during a stand-up performance, this time berating gay people. No video of the flap has surfaced yet, but a Facebook account by Kevin Rogers, an attendee at the Nashville show on Saturday, has gone viral. “I have very thick skin when it comes to humor; I can dish and I can take,” Rogers wrote. “What I can’t take is when Mr. Morgan took it upon himself to mention about how he feels all this gay s**t was crazy and that women are a gift from God and that ‘Born this Way’ is bulls**t, gay is a choice, and the reason he knows this is exactly because ‘God don’t make no mistakes.’ ” Things escalated from there. “He mentioned that gay was something kids learn from the media and programming, and that bullied kids should just bust some ass and beat those other little f**kers that bully them, not whine about it. He said if his son that was gay he better come home and talk to him like a man and not [he mimicked a gay, high pitched voice] or he would pull out a knife and stab that little N (one word I refuse to use) to death. … Tracy then said he didn’t fucking care if he pissed off some gays, because if they can take a f—ing dick up their ass … they can take a fucking joke.”
The remarks have created a firestorm, prompting Morgan to issue an apology this morning. Read More »
Syfy has renewed comedic hidden camera reality seriesScare Tactics for a fifth season.Actor-comedian Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) will return as host and executive producer for the 13-episode order. Season 5 ofScare Tactics, created and executive produced by Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey, begins production this spring for a fall 2012 premiere.
EXCLUSIVE: Anchor Bay has acquired U.S. distribution rights to the Dito Montiel-directed cop drama The Son Of No One, which was the 2011 Sundance Film Festival’s final premiere last Friday. I’m told the deal was in the $2 million minimum guarantee range and a P&A commitment for a theatrical release in at least 10 of the top 20 markets. The film stars Channing Tatum, Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, Juliette Binoche and Al Pacino and is a police thriller about a young cop assigned to the Queens neighborhood where he grew up. He’s forced to confront past troubles. The picture was financed by Millennium Films/Nu Image’s Avi Lerner and his partners Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short and Boaz Davidson. Before its premiere, the film had an early screening for buyers, and was forced to overcome a nasty trade article that claimed an “exodus” of walk outs, a story disputed in Deadline by sales agent and exec producer Cassian Elwes. Elwes had the last laugh as he and WME Global’s Graham Taylor closed what might be the last big sale of a festival full of them. Despite the one bad article, Elwes and Taylor had several bidders circling with offers in the $2 million range but Anchor Bay’s Kevin Kasha has sealed the deal.
Cassian Elwes, who’s selling distribution rights to Dito Montiel’s The Son of No One, is crying foul over a barbed trade story about the film’s first Sundance screening. The piece reported that a multitude of buyers were in attendance, and described an “exodus” of walk outs before the film was over. The trade declared The Son of No One is Sundance’s first bomb, a crushing blow for a film with a great cast that includes Channing Tatum, Al Pacino, Tracy Morgan, Katie Holmes, Ray Liotta, and Juliette Binoche.
Elwes blamed the exits on a mistake by a projectionist, and said the trade story painted an unfair picture by omitting that information. He said the slam piece has negatively impacted discussions with distributors. Elwes said he’s got three offers, but suitors are trying to use the report to get a discount.
I wasn’t at the screening, but I granted Elwes’ ask to explain what happened: “About a month ago, Dito decided to add a card, two scenes before the end of the film, that says, ‘Based on the book, Story of Milk.’ That is the character’s name in the film. Yesterday, the projectionist thought that meant the movie was over, and he turned the lights on. That’s when people got up. They thought movie had ended. Some left, but most stayed. This nasty little piece didn’t mention any of this. It’s not true … Read More »
30 Rock co-star Tracy Morgan will be MIA for 2-3 episodes airing in March as the actor is recuperating from a kidney transplant earlier this month. “Tracy is doing well and taking some much needed time to recover after the surgery,” a rep for the actor said, adding that Morgan will return to work on the NBC show after the holidays. Morgan, who is a diabetic, is the second principal cast member on a Thursday comedy series to take health-related break this season. In September, The Big Bang Theory co-star Kaley Cuoco was sidelined with a broken leg following a horseback accident. She ended up missing just 2 episodes of the hit CBS series.