EXCLUSIVE: Producer David Crockett (The Town, Hugo, The Gambler) and Andy Fraser have optioned Unstoppable: From Underdog To Undefeated: How I Became A Champion, the autobiography of 2011 NCAA wrestling champion Anthony Robles. Published in 2012 by Penguin imprint Gotham Books, Unstoppable chronicles the story of how Robles was born with one leg to a single mother from the wrong side of the tracks and became the undefeated collegiate wrestling champion. Eric Champnella (Mr. 3000, Thunderstruck, Eddie) has been hired to pen the script. Crockett and production exec Fraser have teamed with Robles’ longtime manager Gary Lewis to raise private equity to fund development of the project. They plan to begin production in 2015. Champnella and Crockett are repped by ICM Partners.
UPDATE, 11:35 AM: The social network company wasn’t making a judgment about Kirk Cameron‘s upcoming religious movie Unstoppable last week when it blocked links to the promo site. “To protect the hundreds of millions of people who connect and share on Facebook every day, we have automated systems that work in the background to maintain a trusted environment and protect our users from bad actors who often use links to spread spam and malware,” Facebook says today. But “in rare instances they make mistakes.” And this was one of them: The link “was blocked for a very short period of time after being misidentified as a potential spam or malware site. We learn from rare cases such as these to make our systems even better.”
PREVIOUS, SUNDAY AM: Former Growing Pains star Kirk Cameron‘s upcoming movie Unstoppable vows to answer the question “Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?” But considering that theaters
It is doubly sad and ironic that action movie maestro Tony Scott would apparently choose to end his life by jumping from a bridge. This is the kind of scene you would more likely see because he was calling the shots from behind the camera – not the stuff of his life. The industry is going to have a very hard time accepting his death now or that there won’t be any more Tony Scott movies in the future. Even though he was 68 years old (an advanced age in youth-obsessed Hollywood), his career as a director, producer, and partner with brother Ridley was still so vital on all fronts. His career in fact seemed to reflect the name of his terrific final feature, Unstoppable (2010). To me, it seemed he was getting better, more accomplished, more defined with each passing year. What a shame we won’t see where he might have gone with the long-awaited sequel to his first major hit Top Gun (1986) 25-plus years after the first one. He was even hoping to tackle a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s classic western The Wild Bunch. Not sure if that was a good idea – but if anyone could have pulled it off, Scott probably could have.
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.”
The Deadline Team of Nikki Finke, Pete Hammond, and Mike Fleming have spent recent days interviewing the studio moguls to gauge their perspective on this very close Oscar race:
12 Nominations: 5 Black Swan, 6 127 Hours, 1 Unstoppable
DEADLINE’s Nikki Finke: How would you characterize this Oscar season?
TOM ROTHMAN: I think it’s been a really good season, actually. Between Black Swan and 127 Hours we’re doing great. So I feel actually pretty ecstatic about it. But we’ll see what happens. If I have a disappointment, I would say it’s one that’s common and consistent in almost every awards season in the modern era. That often times in the technical category, some of the master craftsmanship in a lot of big, commercial pictures tends to be overlooked, even though it’s the highest level of work — the editorial work, the cinematography, the sound in particular. It’s as if it’s not fashionable, that commerciality is inconsistent with the craft. But I would say this season is a really good representation of a number of high quality films. And I happen to be a person who still very much wishes that there were only five slots for Best Picture.
DEADLINE: I agree.
ROTHMAN: I regret that change. Because I believe that, in the orgy of self-congratulations that is the Hollywood awards system, when everything else in our world is common, what made the Academy Award nomination for Best Picture so special was exactly how …
Denzel Washington is looking to join producer Scott Stuber on Safe House, a David Guggenheim-scripted Universal Pictures drama that will be directed by Daniel Espinosa (Snabba Cash) about a young CIA agent who must transport a dangerous criminal to safety after both are attacked at a safe house. First word of this came from New York Mag’s Vulture website, which puts Washington in the criminal role. That’s something Washington has done with relish in American Gangster and his Oscar-winning turn in Training Day. Washington’s coming off the Tony Scott-directed drama Unstoppable with Chris Pine. Pine also met on the project to play the CIA agent, I’ve heard, but the studio claims there won’t be a re-team. Insiders say Washington’s in discussions.
PREVIOUS: R.I.P. Ed Limato
UPDATE: Ed Limato’s office has set funeral service plans. This Wednesday, an open viewing will be held from 3:30-8:30 PM at Forest Lawn Memorial Park. A memorial service is being planned.
Tributes to the late WME agent Ed Limato refer to his passing as the end of a dealmaking era. After writing about Ed for two decades, I’ve got my own theory on what made him different. Top talent agents who nowadays put movies together in a challenging marketplace are compelled to take a team approach. That places the interests of one actor among many considerations. With Ed, protecting the interests of an actor client was the beginning and the end of the conversation. I observed this up close when Ed made what would be his last film deal for Denzel Washington, to star in the 20th Century Fox drama Unstoppable. The back and forth between Ed and the studio was so rough that he ended negotiations. He confirmed my inquiry that it was over, and let me know that Washington would look for another movie to fill that slot. Rarely are agents so candid, but Ed was worked up. Fox and everyone associated with Unstoppable were angry about my article. They felt I imperiled a good film, and that I allowed myself to be manipulated to sway a negotiation. After all, Limato’s savvy new WME colleagues …