Here’s one to keep an eye on. I’m hearing that Matthew McConaughey has come aboard The Company Man, the Black List script by Andrew Cypiot that had been known as the Untitled Ed Wilson Project. The Oscar-winning actor’s reps caution that none of this is set in stone, but I’m hearing he’s guiding the process of looking for a director before the project is shopped as a spec later this summer. It’s based on true events. CIA agent Edwin Wilson went behind enemy lines to secure a weapons contract and report information back to the CIA shortly after the Cold War. He had a meteoric rise until company policies changed and he was unceremoniously fired. Even after, he continued to operate as a man without a country and became public enemy No. 1 to the U.S. Attorney’s office. Former DreamWorks senior exec Mark Sourian is producing with Josh Kazdan. McConaughey’s repped by CAA, Cypiot by Verve. Sounds like another gritty project for him to sink his teeth into, after his superb performance in HBO’s True Detective.
UPDATED from TCA Awards: “First of all, I’d like to thank Variety and Gold Derby for letting me know that I should come tonight — I appreciate that very much. I got a dress, lickety split!” Julia Louis-Dreyfus said as she picked up her trophy for Best Individual Performance in Comedy.
The winners of the 2014 TCA Awards were leaked online this afternoon. But, in truth, the winners had learned some time ago they’d won — only winners show up at this non-televised trophy show. Nobody made Matthew McConaughey wise about this, however. Taking the stage to receive the trophy for Best Individual Performance in Drama, he tried to personally address his fellow nominees in his acceptance speech, calling them out by name and looking for them in the Beverly Hilton ballroom — the same room in which the Golden Globes are held each year. After running through the first couple names, creating awkwardness among critics, he singled out fellow nominee Bryan Cranston, saying, “You are here, sir!” Cranston, however, showed up not because he was nommed in the drama acting derby, but because Breaking Bad had won Program of the Year for a second year running.
“Everyone [tonight] is thanking HBO,” Cranston said after HBO programs took four of the night’s trophies. “So, thank you, HBO! Early on — you turned us down,” Cranston said on stage when the Breaking Bad win was announced. He thanked TV critics for praising the AMC drama when few were watching “this story …
EXCLUSIVE: Since the staggering success of HBO’s limited series True Detective with Emmy nominees Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, speculation has been rampant about who might take part in the show’s second season. I can tell you that Colin Farrell is deep in negotiations to play one of what is expected to be three main roles in Season 2. HBO has been mum about cast so far, as rumors have swirled that Jessica Chastain and some others will be one of the other leads. HBO would not confirm any of the potential castings, but I am confident that Farrell will be in the cast.
Like McConaughey and Harrelson, he seems the ideal movie star to take a leap and immerse himself in writer Nic Pizzolatto’s follow-up to a game-changing first season. Pizzolatto has set a high bar for himself, but the idea of taking movie stars and allowing them to play in this sandbox with such rich character development that isn’t possible with two-hour time constraints, and then go back to their movie careers, is something that will continue to draw big names if the payweb can keep the storytelling bar high.
Refresh for latest ….
Nic Pizzolatto, executive producer and creator, True Detective
Like a filmmaker, hellbent on making the best independent film ever, before Pizzolatto pitched the project to five TV networks, he went about finding the right director for his doppelganger detective series, selecting Cary Fukunaga. Then they hooked up with Matthew McConaughey, who was so passionate about the project, he called Woody Harrelson to come aboard. ”Everything a writer writes is from a true place, but I didn’t take any inspiration from any real people per se, rather the job and the culture at the time (during the ’90s and early aughts),” said the Louisiana native about his influences. As far as season 2, Pizzolatto asserts, “we aren’t keeping secrets, there’s just empty rumors out there.” Switching True Detective from miniseries to drama, “was HBO’s decision and it underscored their passion and enthusiasm for the show,” he adds. While an episode zig zags between time frames with the greatest ease, Pizzolatto revealed that such parameters were clearly defined in the script. Nothing was discovered in the editing room. “The time jumps were probably more of a challenge for the actors” who had to play the opposite of who they were in 2012.
“(Woody’s) Marty is actually a changed man while (Matthew’s) Cohle has devolved into his worst obsessive quality.”
TCA: HBO Reveals Details Of Mike Nichols/Meryl Streep ‘Master Class’, Queen Latifah ‘Bessie’ Project, Launch Date For ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Final Season
HBO parsed out some details on Mike Nichols directing of Meryl Streep in the network’s adaptation of Master Class, Terrence McNally’s Tony Award-winning play about Maria Callas. The project is a reteaming of Nichols and Streep, who worked together on the premium channel’s Angels In America nearly a decade ago. Master Class begins production in early ’15, depicting the master classes the operatic great gave to hand-picked students at the Juilliard School in the early 1970s.
During its day at the TCA Summer Press Tour, the network also reiterated that Queen Latifah will star in and exec produce HBO Films’ Bessie, about blues singer Bessie Smith, written and directed by Dee Rees, with shooting in Atlanta, debuting next year; Michael K, Williams, Khandi Alexander, Mike Epps, Tika Sumpter, Tory Kittles, Oliver Platt, Bryan Greenberg, Charles Dutton and Mo’Nique co-star. The project focuses on Smith’s growth from struggling young singer into “Empress of the Blues” and one of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s.
Boardwalk Empire’s eight-episode fifth and final season launches September 7, HBO said today. While the first four seasons of the series from Terence Winter and director Martin Scorsese were set during Prohibition in the ’20s, when Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) was the undisputed leader of Atlantic City, the fifth season is set in the depths of the Depression in 1931, with Nucky plotting a post-Prohibition future.
EMMY Noms Analysis: ‘True Detective’, ‘Orange’ & ‘Shameless’ Fare Well Amid Category Brouhaha As Free-TV Slips To New Low
In the months leading to this year’s Primetime Emmy nominations, a lot of attention was focused on HBO’s decision to enter the eight-episode True Detective as a drama series, Showtime switching Shameless from drama to comedy series after three seasons, and Netflix entering Orange Is the New Black as a comedy after calling it a drama for the Golden Globes.
The moves worked fine for all three. True Detective and Orange Is The New Black each netted 12 noms – a very strong showing for freshman series — to tie veteran Downton Abbey and Seth MacFarlane’s documentary Cosmos as the fourth-most-nominated primetime series. Both landed noms in all major categories they were eligible for, including best drama (True Detective) and comedy series (Orange), best lead actor/actress, best writing, directing and casting.
Meanwhile, after a single Emmy nom for each of its first three seasons competing as a drama series — all for recurring guest actress Joan Cusack — Shameless more than doubled its Emmy tally with three noms this year. That includes a break into the lead actor category for star William H. Macy, joined by Cusack, nominated for a fourth consecutive time, and a mention for stunt coordination.
EXCLUSIVE: Cary Fukunaga directs Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom Golden Globe nominee Idris Elba in the child-soldier drama Beasts Of No Nation, adapted by Fukunaga from Uzodinma Iweala’s novel. Elba, who also is producing, stars as Commandant, whose guerrilla group young Agu is forced to join when civil war tears his family apart and militants kill his father. Fukunaga is coming off his acclaimed HBO drama series True Detective, which he’ll return to exec produce for a second season. He wrote Beasts and is directing and shooting it in Ghana. Producers are Amy Kaufman for Primary Productions, Daniela Taplin Lundberg & Riva Marker for Red Crown Productions, Cary Fukunaga for his Parliament of Owls, Idris Elba and Daniel Crown. Executive Producers are Participant Media and New Balloon Investments. Scroll down for Deadline’s full exclusive look:
With outstanding drama series being the Powerball/Mega Millions of the Primetime Emmy Awards, any change in this particular competition is bound to cause a certain amount of eyebrow raising in the TV industry. And, sure enough, the Television Academy’s decision this year to let HBO enter True Detective as a drama series, which is how HBO says it always envisioned the program, is being viewed by some rivals as an introduction of a large grain of sand in their spiritual spinach. Non-fans of the decision complain that the program has an unfair advantage and belongs in the miniseries race. True Detective, which will reboot with a new cast and storyline each season, is able to attract Hollywood heavyweights such as Matthew McConaughey because it only asks of them a one-season, eight-episode commitment. Ironically, that also might be the best explanation yet as to why the TV Academy did not balk when HBO submitted it as a drama. The program also stands to benefit from the TV Academy’s loosening of the “2 percent” rule for the drama series competition, which could open up the race to allow for seven nominees.
The Board of Governors of the Television Academy voted to split three more fields heading into this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards. That pushed the number of Emmy categories to a record 106. Yet we’ve never had so many shows that don’t seem to fit in any of them. The problem impacts mainly anthology-style dramas, which straddle the worlds of regular series and miniseries, and the proverbial “dramedies,” which blur the lines between comedy and drama. The issue came to the forefront with the debate surrounding HBO’s decision to enter the eight-episode True Detective as a drama, Showtime switching Shameless from drama to comedy series after three seasons and Netflix entering Orange Is the New Black as a comedy after submitting it as a drama for the Golden Globes.
Hannibal and True Detective—about serial killers who are the devil personified—as well as House of Cards—about a devilish politician—all embrace lighting and camera work that is cinematic yet subtle, manipulating audiences into the suspense of the moment and helping frame some of the most unforgettable characters on television. House of Cards director of photography Igor Martinovic, who was enlisted for the second season, used lighting to reflect a marked shift in story surrounding the dastardly Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey. “The cynical attitude and a crime story that happened toward the end of season one could be represented through low-key lighting,” Martinovic says. “For season two, we decided to change the lighting completely. We very carefully tried to wrap characters in shadows, into half-lights, turn them into silhouettes, and overall kept them on the edge of darkness.”
The shift owed much to the influence of the Netflix show’s executive producer, Oscar-nominated director David Fincher. “He’s very constant in all of his work,” Martinovic says of Fincher. “It’s this objective camera work where you don’t come too close to the characters. Your camera is objectively—as much as one could do—capturing the situation . . . It was also very appropriate for this because we were telling a political theater. Part of it is the staging, where we try to stage a kind of elaborate mise en scene, …
You may have heard that we are living in a glorious age of television, one where the biggest movie stars leap unceremoniously from the cineplex to the now-nontoxic small screen. An era of event programming and limited series, where stories of anti-heroes and the underbelly of the American Dream are being revealed simultaneously on broadcast networks, cable channels and streaming services. Television suddenly has become prestigious.
You may have heard all this, but that doesn’t make it true.
“It’s not like TV has suddenly become amazing and great — it’s always been amazing and great,” declares Under The Dome executive producer Neal Baer. He should know, having earned his stripes for almost 30 years on network shows such as Law & Order: SVU and ER. Baer has seen TV’s long arc bend back many times. “There was crap, but I could start listing path-breaking television series that thought about racism and drug abuse,” he says.
What’s new today is that TV is a creation of quantity as much as quality, with many more outlets and platforms to grab high-value consumers’ attention with content that up until just a decade ago would have made its home solely in the movies. We have traditional TV trying to recoup some of the luster it lost to non-advertiser-supported programming, but either way, the economics and creativity sit squarely in the small screen’s favor. One need only look at anthologies such as HBO’s True Detective or limited event series like Fox’s 24: Live Another Day or CBS’ Under The Dome to see that the torch is being carried on.
EMMYS Q&A: Matthew McConaughey On Following Oscar With The Game-Changing HBO Series ‘True Detective’
When movie stars go cold, the smart ones can find their way back. For Robert Downey Jr, that meant an Iron Man screen test so overwhelming that skeptical studio execs had no choice but to hire him. Ben Affleck scripted his own second act as writer and director and won the Best Picture Oscar for Argo. When we look back on how Matthew McConaughey sprang himself from rom-com prison by taking creative risks in small edgy films, his transformation won’t simply be pegged to the performance as AIDS activist Ron Woodroof that won him the Best Actor Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club. McConaughey’s second wind is a one-two punch capped off by his Emmy-caliber performance as the tightly coiled fatalistic cop Rustin “Rust” Cohle opposite Woody Harrelson in HBO‘s groundbreaking 8-episode drama series True Detective. Among other things, McConaughey explains here how patience was key to turning around a stalled career and how patience allowed him to let a complicated character percolate over a time span four times longer that he gets in feature films.
DEADLINE: True Detective is a high-water mark in this golden age where pay and cable TV series are as good or better than what we see on movie screens. Still, it’s chancy for a movie star to say yes to a TV …
Get up to speed with Deadline’s top TV stories of the week:
‘Mad Men’ Finale “Set In Stone”, Matthew Weiner Says; No Spinoffs Planned
By Dominic Patten
If you thought Matthew Weiner was going to let a teaser or spoiler slip for the upcoming final episodes of Mad Men next year, think again. “Can’t tell you that, you got to watch” is all the creator of AMC’s acclaimed series has to say on that front. “You’ll have to see how we bring it all together,” the reticent producer adds.
Kevin Reilly’s Departure Signals Start Of ‘Pick A Replacement’ Derby, With New Rules
By Lisa De Moraes
This morning’s confirmation that Kevin Reilly was stepping down as Chairman of Entertainment at Fox Broadcast Co. ends weeks of speculation he would exit in the wake of the March promotion of Rupert Murdoch’s son, James to co-COO at 21st Century Fox, giving him oversight of, among other properties, the Fox broadcast network. When the dust settled back then, Fox Networks Group chief Peter Rice, to whom Reilly reported, would now report to James Murdoch instead of president/COO Chase Carey.
‘True Detective’ Season 2: More Details Emerge As Casting Rumors Intensify
By Nellie Andreeva
The True Detective follow-up season has become the TV equivalent of the latest Star Wars sequel, with closely guarded and wildly speculated about script and casting process.
The True Detective follow-up season has become the TV equivalent of the latest Star Wars sequel, with closely guarded and wildly speculated about script and casting process. The HBO series’ creator Nic Pizzolatto has dropped a few more hints, confirming with NPR program To The Best Of Our Knowledge that Season 2 of the crime thriller will have three leads. Unofficial breakdowns floated around have listed the three leads as a fortysomething male detective/cop with Joaquin Phoenix, Christian Bale and Josh Brolin as prototypes, a twentysomething male cop and a thirtysomething female detective, with Jessica Chastain as a potential prototype. Following the tour de force performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson last season, Season 2 casting rumors have been swirling, with a number of A-listers bandied about. After early speculation about Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender and Cate Blanchett, the rumor mill in the past few weeks focused on Bale, Phoenix and Brolin as well as The Normal Heart star Taylor Kitsch for the other male lead and Chastain. (The actress, who had been approached, recently confirmed that she won’t be doing the series.) While rumors are reaching fever pitch, actual casting may be a ways away, according to Pizzolatto. “The characters are all new, but I’m deeply in love with each of them,” he told the NPR show. “We’ve got the entire series broken out with a couple of scripts, and we’ll probably start casting in earnest in the coming months.”
Fleming: Working on the Deadline/Awardsline Emmy issues prompted me to binge my way through cable series like True Detective and House Of Cards. It really got me depressed about the movie business.
Fleming: Because those series and 10 more like them are better than anything I see on a movie screen. For the 25 years I’ve covered it, film has always been the sexiest, most prestigious part of the business. Sure, TV packages drove the bottom line, but agencies and studios were measured by the feature stars and directors in their stables. TV, particularly pay and basic cable, has gradually overtaken movies and become the trendsetting cool place to work. Why leave the house for the theater when so many movies regurgitate past success, especially at studios? Look at the projects put in development last week. Revamps of Power Rangers, The Flintstones, Private Benjamin. Uninspiring. The most successful major studio right now, Disney, has a success formula based on recycling old movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, sequelizing Marvel superheroes, and refashioning fairy tales. The definition of excellence in studio summer movies these days is putting a smart spin on an old concept, as happened on Rise Of The Planet Of …
EMMYS: John Landgraf Calls For Tougher Category Rules, Says ‘True Detective’s Entry As Drama Series “Unfair”
FX Networks CEO John Landgraf today threw his hat in the debate over what constitutes a drama series and a miniseries for Emmy consideration and whether an hourlong series can enter as a comedy, challenging the TV Academy to stiffen its criteria and create stricter category guidelines.
FX anthology series American Horror Story shook up the Emmy landscape three years ago when it opted to submit itself as a miniseries, not a drama series. The race was jolted again this year when HBO’s True Detective took the opposite stance, identifying itself as a drama series. “In our minds this is a series, and the only reason to enter it as a miniseries was a cynical reason that didn’t feel like the right thing to do,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told Deadline last week.
Landgraf today defended the network’s decision to submit AHS as a miniseries, objected to HBO’s decision to have True Detective compete as drama series, and called on the TV Academy to better define its categories. “I don’t think it’s cynical to enter AHS as a miniseries,” he said. “I don’t look at it that way. The definition should be a miniseries has a story that ends, a series has a story that continues on.” Landgraf argued that limited series have the advantage to attract bigger-caliber actors, like True Detective‘s Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as well as Billy Bob Thornton who toplines FX’s limited series Fargo. “It’s unfair for HBO to get actors that you can’t normally get to do a series who would do a close-ended show and pack the (drama actor) category. That is patently unfair to people like (The Americans’) Matthew Rhys who signed for seven years.” Right now, TV Academy defines shows like AHS and True Detective as having “dual eligibility,” with the series producers left to decide in which of the two categories they are eligible for they would compete.
In this week’s podcast, Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond and host David Bloom, talk about whether seemingly awards-ready hits Noah and The Grand Budapest Hotel can overcome their early-year release dates and make a big run during Oscar season. We’ll also get Pete’s report from the premiere party for the last season of Mad Men and assess whether it has any chance to grab a few more Emmys against stiff drama category competition that now will include HBO’s True Detective.
Finally, Pete and David give their takes on the weekend’s notable movie debuts, which will be dominated this weekend by Captain America: The Winter Soldier. They also take up the Drake Doremus-directed romantic drama Breathe In, with Felicity Jones, Guy Pearce and Amy Ryan, and The Unknown Known, the latest documentary from Oscar winner Errol Morris, about former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The M4A version of this podcast is designed to run on any device using Apple’s iTunes software, and includes enhanced graphics and links to stories and other resources. The MP3 version of this podcast is designed to play on virtually any device capable of playing digital audio.
Those with “podcatcher” software may subscribe to AwardsWatch and have it automatically downloaded to them at this …