With the $15 million weekend opening of Sex Tape serving as exhibit A, it would be an understatement to say that romantic feature comedies have been in a sling creatively and at the B.O. for sometime. But for those TV creators who love the genre at Fox’s “Behind the Laughs” TCA panel, if romantic comedies are alive, then it’s on the small screen with such shows as Elizabeth Meriwether’s New Girl and Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project. Chalk the death of romantic comedy movies up to the staling of set premises like the sexy wedding planner who can’t get anybody or, as Kaling pointed out, “Matthew McConaughey falling into a cake.”
“They are so predictable, but that’s why I love them so much. I think they can be good, but they’ve been suffering for so long. I think the easiest way to your voice out there (for romantic comedies) is TV,” said Kaling whose next season of The Mindy Project dotes on her character’s relationship with long-love Danny (Chris Messina). Read More »
Fox has ordered to series the single-camera comedy Last Man On Earth, which is created by and will star Will Forte. Forte and The Lego Movie duo of Phil Lord & Chris Miller are executive producing with Seth Cohen, and Lord and Miller will direct the pilot episode. The project is part of Fox chairman Kevin Reilly’s plan to bypass pilot season, go straight to series and cast projects outside of the traditional January-April pilot cycle. Last Man On Earth will be produced off-cycle, filming in the summer for a 2014-2015 midseason bow. Fox originally bought the project in October in a bidding war with a pilot production commitment. At the time, Forte was not attached to star, only to write and executive produce. However, the lead was intended for him, and he now has an acting deal in place. Three months before the upfronts, Fox already has three comedy series ordered for next season, Last Man On Earth, Mulaney and Weird Loners, and two dramas, Hieroglyphand Backstrom, along with several other pilots that are on series track.
Written by Forte and produced by 20th TV and studio-based Lord Miller, Last Man On Earth centers a stranger (Forte) who becomes the last human on Earth. It marks a return to writing for Forte, who started off as a writer on the … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: With today’s Best Picture Producers Guild nomination, 5 Golden Globe nominations, 6 Critics Choice Movie Award nods and two more from SAG, some Independent Spirit awards love plus a coveted spot on the AFI Top Ten Movies Of The Year list, Paramount’s ‘little-movie-that-could’ Nebraska has been slowly, but steadily gathering a lot of awards mojo going into the second phase of a campaign that started shortly after Cannes where star Bruce Dern won Best Actor. Dern has also taken awards from the National Board of Review and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and along with co-star June Squibb is nominated for several others. Will Forte, who plays their son also won a National Board Of Review Supporting Actor prize and a nomination for the Indie Spirits. The studio’s strategy has been to consistently screen the film since July (even though it didn’t open until mid-November) and get as many Academy members in to see it as possible. One source connected with the campaign says they have actually kept names and numbers estimating that over 2,300 members have seen the film at screenings to date. That doesn’t even include those who passed in at local theaters or who may have watched it at home on DVD. Incidentally the strategy purposely included holding back sending DVD screeners out until very late in the game. The thinking went that the film’s unique style and pacing, plus … Read More »
Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte has teamed with film and TV writers-directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (21 Jump Street) for The Last Man On Earth, a single-camera comedy pitch which, in a competitive situation, has landed at Fox with a pilot production commitment. Written by Forte and produced by 20th TV and studio-based Lord Miller, The Last Man On Earth is about two strangers who must overcome their differences and work together to ensure the survival of the human race. Forte will write and executive produce but is currently not attached to star. Also executive producing the project are Miller, Lord and Lord Miller’s President of Television Seth Cohen. This marks a return to writing for Forte, who started off as a writer on the Late Show, 3rd Rock From The Sun and That ’70s Show before hitting stardom on SNL, where he was a cast member for a decade. It also reunites him with Miller and Lord after voicing a character on their 2002 animated series Clone High and with Fox and 20th TV after toplining their 2012 pilot Rebounding.
This marks the second sale and second big commitment for Lord Miller, in its first development season under a rich three-year deal at 20th TV. The duo, repped by UTA and Ziffren Brittenham, also have comedyTorched, written … Read More »
Alexander Payne says he only finished postproduction last Friday on his Cannes competition entryNebraska, which had its press screening this morning and will premiere tonight. Reviews coming in so far are largely mixed to very good. Even though Paramount won’t release it until November 22, Payne likes to take awhile in post to get everything right. There was initial concern about even making the Cannes date, so that is why until just a week before this year’s official lineup was announced did Paramount and Payne even decide to take a shot. He brought the film to Paris, showed it to Thierry Fremaux with only two days to spare, and landed tonight’s slot. Payne is becoming somewhat of a Cannes regular — although other than 2002′s About Schmidt, this is only his second film in competition. He has served on the juries of both Un Certain Regard and, last year, the main selection.
Nebraska, which will be one of Paramount’s Oscar hopes this year, played well to nice but brief applause from the press at the screening and at the press conference that followed (especially when stars Bruce Dern and Will Forte were introduced). It’s pure Payne in its humanist, gently funny style and captures that Middle America folksy style in beautiful black and white, but it is definitely what I would call a small film that will need tender loving care from the studio (the only major studio film in competition). Read More »
The $13 million budget film was scripted by Bob Nelson and Dern will play a crotchety alcoholic dad who receives a pro forma sweepstakes letter in the mail, thinks he’s struck it rich and wrangles his underachieving son (Forte) into taking a road trip to claim the fortune. As I reported, Payne has been very specific about who he wanted as his stars. An initial courtship of Gene Hackman did not coax the actor out of retirement, and then Payne came up with Dern, who is good in every movie. Neither Dern nor former Saturday Night Live cast member Forte have the star power of Payne’s Descendants lead George Clooney, but Thomas Haden Church and Paul Giamatti didn’t either and both got career boosts from Payne’s Sideways. This is a big opportunity for both Dern and Forte. The film will be release Oscar season 2013.
EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that Alexander Payne has fixed on Bruce Dern and Will Forte for the main roles in Nebraska, the black and white $13 million budget road trip comedy for Paramount. Payne wants to make the Bob Nelson script his next film. This, following the acclaim, five Oscar nominations (and a win for Best Adapted Screenplay) and $171 million in worldwide gross of The Descendants.
Of course, that film had George Clooney as its star, but both Dern and Forte seem an intriguing match for the source material. Dern would play a crotchety dad, an alcoholic on the downside of his life, who gets a sweepstakes letter in the mail and thinks he’s struck it rich. He gets in a car to head down to claim his fortune, accompanied by his underachieving son, who’d be played by Forte.
The casting of the film has been a challenge for Payne, who has wanted to make the movie for years and was determined to move only when he was sure he had the right guy for the dad role. Payne badly wanted Gene Hackman, who did not want to come out of retirement. Many other names were floated, and many actors wanted what has been called one of the great roles for a seasoned actor. After a leading man run in 70s films like Coming Home and The Great Gatsby, Dern gravitated into … Read More »
The highest-profile casualty at Fox, which picked up three new comedy series today and passed on everything else, was the Steve Levitan-produced pilot Rebounding. The single-camera project was written on spec by Joe Port and Joe Wiseman under the watchful eye of Modern Family co-creator Levitan. Inspired by Port’s real-life experiences, the 20th TV-produced project is described as an uplifting comedy about a man recovering from the death of his fiancé with the help of the idiot buddies on his pick-up basketball team.
It has had a roller-coaster ride. First the spec didn’t create a bidding frenzy as it hit the marketplace very late, on January 30, when networks were pretty much done with their pilot orders. There were also some concerns over the subject matter and whether it could translate into comedy. Fox ultimately stepped up and gave Rebounding a pilot order, bringing Levitan back to the network where he had refused to return for several years following Fox’s controversial 2008 cancellation of the Levitan-Christopher Lloyd comedy series Back To You after one season. Jason Winer, who directed the Modern Family pilot, signed on to direct Rebounding and, after a long search, Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte was cast as the lead. There were early reports from the set of the pilot about a good chemistry between Levitan and Winer reminiscent of their work on the ABC/20th TV hit Modern Family. Then the finished pilot came … Read More »
Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte is set as the lead in Fox’s single-camera comedy pilot Rebounding. The project, written/executive produced by Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, executive produced by Steve Levitan and directed by Jason Winer, is an uplifting comedy about Danny (Forte), a man recovering from the death of his fiancé with the help of the idiots on his pickup basketball team. Forte, repped by UTA and Mosaic, is now seen in Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie and has three movies coming out this summer: Rock Of Ages, That’s My Boy and Neighborhood Watch. He recurs on 30 Rock and Up All Night.
Will Forte has booked his first full-time TV gig since leaving Saturday Night Live last summer, joining Fox’s upcoming animated series Allen Gregory as a regular voice cast member. On the show, about an accomplished 7-year-old boy embarking on elementary school, Forte will voice characters alongside co-creator/executive producer Jonah Hill and French Stewart. Forte has had a frequent presence on Fox’s animated comedy block. He has voiced recurring characters on American Dad! and The Cleveland Show and was a regular on Sit Down Shut Up.
On the feature side, Forte has signed on to star in Run and Jump. The indie, from Samson Films (Once), was written by Ailbhe Keogan and Steph Green, with Green directing. It was developed by the Irish Film Board and the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, with Tamara Anghie producing. Maxine Peake, Brian F. O’Byrne and Sharon Horgan have also been cast in the movie, which will be filmed on location in Ireland in May.
Additionally, Forte recently boarded Tim And Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, which just landed financing from Mark Cuban’s 2929 Prods. Forte, repped by UTA and Mosaic, last year headlined his first movie, MacGruber, an extension of his SNL skits.
UPDATE: Relativity Media has announced a four year foreign output deal with Tripictures. Tripictures will oversee the distribution of Relativity-produced features in Spain. This includes films Relativity is actively developing, producing, financing and distributing.
EARLIER: The Berlin press releases are flying today for films being sold at the market. Summit Entertainment, Lakeshore Entertainment Group and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment announced that Amanda Seyfried will star in Gone, a thriller to be directed by Heitor Dhalia from a script by Allison Burnett. Lakeshore and Sierra/Affinity are selling at the European Film Market…Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Samuel Goldwyn Films are partnering on U.S. distribution rights for A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, which will be directed by Pete Huyck and Alex Gregory from their script. Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Labine, Leslie Bibb, Will Forte and Lucy Punch head the cast. Essential Entertainment is selling international sales at Berlin.
With Will Forte’s recent announcement that he will be leaving Saturday Night Live after 8 seasons and reports that NBC’s late-night sketch show may be adding as many as 4 new cast members, the question is who else might be exiting when SNL returns for a 36th season later this month.
I hear Abby Elliott, daughter of Chris Elliott and the first second-generation SNL cast member, was in serious jeopardy but now appears safe to come back, while rumor is that Jenny Slate might not be returning. Slate, who joined as a featured player along with Nasim Pedrad last fall made headlines with her SNL debut. On the show’s season premiere last September, in her first appearance during a sketch titled Biker Chick Chat Slate uttered the word “fuckin’” on live television.
As for the new players joining SNL, rumored new additions include MadTV alum Taran Killam, Chicago-based Paul Brittain and Venessa Bayer as well as impressionist Jay Pharoah. The last time a quartet of new featured players joined the show, that group gave us Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers.