BREAKING: Sony Pictures is setting Will Gluck to helm Annie, the re-imagining of the Broadway musical. The helmer who directed Easy A and Friends With Benefits for Sony-based Screen Gems takes on a high-profile project that will be produced by James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Will Smith through their Overbrook Entertainment banner, and by Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, Jay Brown, and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith through Marcy Media. Willow Smith is no longer attached; she was 9 when development began and she has outgrown the role of Annie.
Gluck will revise the film’s screenplay, which was written by Emma Thompson and rewritten by Aline Brosh McKenna based on the musical and its book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin. That’s based on the Little Orphan Annie comic strip. The movie is contemporized and will shoot in the fall for a 2014 release. Read More »
After Earth is the latest pairing of Will Smith and his son Jaden, after 2006′s The Pursuit Of Happyness. The sci-fi pic from director M. Night Shyamalan got a Comic-Con push this summer when Sony touted the massive mythology created around the story, about a father and son who crash-land on a hostile Earth 1000 years after cataclysmic events forced humanity’s escape. As the father, a famed general, lies dying, the son must strike out on his own to recover their rescue beacon. Sony’s Columbia Pictures releases the film on June 7, 2013.
Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith will host this latest fundraiser for Michelle Obama later this month. Tickets range from $2,500-$40,000 for the event at the Smiths’ Calabasas home. Salma Hayek is also co-hosting with Hancock producer and Smith’s longtime business partner James Lassiter and his wife Mai. Roc Nation president Jay Brown and his wife Kawanna, head of Magic Johnson Enterprises, are also listed as co-hosts along with Lady Gaga’s manager Troy Carter and his wife Rebecca. The Lassiters held a fundraiser for the president last October at their Hancock Park home, with the Smiths, the Browns and the Carters in attendance.
EXCLUSIVE: Overbrook Entertainment and Roc Nation will lend their clout to the Realside Productions/De Films Aiguille-produced documentary Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, which was directed by Shola Lynch. They will become executive producers on a film that premieres at the upcoming Toronto Film Festival and marks the 40th anniversary of the acquittal of Angela Davis on charges of murder, kidnapping and conspiracy. The docu was produced by Carole Lambert, Shola Lynch, Carine Ruszniewski, and Sidra Smith. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: William Hurt has been set in the final major role of Winter’s Tale, the Warner Bros adaptation of the Mark Helprin novel that marks the feature directing debut of Oscar-winning scribe Akiva Goldsman. Goldsman worked for seven years on the project, directing episodes of the TV show Fringe to get ready, while he worked on the script to get a green light from a studio which usually doesn’t make $46 million fables. It has helped Goldsman that he was able to lean on his past collaborators Russell Crowe and Will Smith (Goldsman made three films with each actor) to ramp up the star power in smaller roles. Hurt plays the father of a dying young woman who falls in love with a thief who breaks into her home, a palatial West Side mansion, in a drama that takes place in 19th century and contemporary Manhattan. Goldsman cast Colin Farrell to play the thief and Downton Abbey‘s Jessica Brown Findlay plays the dying young girl. The film is being made on that budget while shooting entirely in New York, switching from 1899 to the present. The film begins production in October, with Marc Platt and Michael Tadross producing. ICM Partners rep Hurt.
Luke Y. Thompson is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of Comic-Con.
Despite there being no Will or Jaden Smith and no M. Night Shyamalan, Sony’s panel on After Earth was packed to capacity in Room 6A. Without that key talent, attendance likely would have seemed sparse in the larger Hall H usually reserved for event movies. Set 1,000 years after Earth has become uninhabitable and humans live on a world called Nova Prime, the movie deals with a father and son – with dad being one of the best rangers ever – who crash land on the inhospitable future Earth where nature has taken over again. Screenwriter Gary Whitta referred to it as “Jurassic Planet … we were evicted by nature because we were no longer welcome there … every single thing on this planet will kill you.” Air, plants and creatures are all hostile to humans because nature has developed defense mechanisms to keep people from coming back. Jungles, forest (the Redwood forests up north where Return of the Jedi was filmed) and desert are the main environments of the story.
EXCLUSIVE: As Sony Pictures begins to create buzz for the M Night Shyamalan-directed Will and Jaden Smith-starrer After Earth, the studio has also sealed plans to get out in front of the summer 2013 tenpole with a number of other initiatives. Overbrook Entertainment, Sony Pictures Consumer Products, The Random House Publishing Group and Ebury Publishing is set to create a broad line of publishing products based on the film and the universe that was created from the script by Gary Whitta and Shyamalan, based on a story by Will Smith. The film is produced by Caleeb Pinkett, Smith, James Lassiter, and Shyamalan.
EXCLUSIVE: With Biblical epics the rage in Hollywood, here’s another. Will Smith is eyeing a film about battling brothers Cain and Abel as his directorial debut. The project is set at Sony in development and is being produced by Overbrook Entertainment. This has been in the arsenal for some time, and won’t be Smith’s next film, but it is an intriguing development for the actor and producer. The project has gone under the working title of The Redemption Of Cain, but I’ve confirmed that it’s now being developed as directing vehicle for Smith, who’ll likely star in the film as well.
Given the way studios have cut back on lavish movie premieres in recent years, the New York debut of Sony Pictures’ Men In Black 3 was something to behold, and harkened back on to more fun days. The post premiere party was held at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and if that wasn’t lavish enough, the night included a lengthy fireworks display from the Grucci clan, endless food choices, even a surprise performance by the rapper Pitbull, who did the film’s soundtrack. I’m told that he was later joined by Smith and his kids Jaden and Willow. Most important for Sony Pictures, MIB3 showed itself to be a well constructed summer thrill ride.
Smith, who hasn’t headlined a blockbuster since 2008′s Hancock, hasn’t missed a beat. I was surprised how satisfying the film was, particularly after director Barry Sonnenfeld and Smith halted production partway through the shoot to work on the script. That is often a sign of trouble, but whatever they did was well worth the trouble. The film is much better than the first sequel and in a summer that will be defined by sequels (I consider Avengers to be in that category), this one holds its own. Whether it reaches profit is another question, considering all the gross players involved in the film, the high budget and the extra costs for the production hiatus. Sequels have proven a lot more rewarding for studios than so-called … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Adam McKay is in negotiations to develop to direct Uptown Saturday Night, the Warner Bros remake that the studio hopes will star Will Smith and Denzel Washington. Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment has been developing the project. Tim Dowling wrote the most recent draft.
The idea is for McKay to helm after he completes a sequel to Anchorman, the Will Ferrell-starrer Paramount has set for an early 2013 start and 2014 release. McKay and Ferrell wrote that script and Judd Apatow is producing. McKay most recently helmed The Other Guys, and before that Talladega Nights. He’s repped by WME.
The 1974 comedy starred Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier as pals who visit an illegal nightclub, and are forced to hand over their wallets to thieves. Turns out one of them contains a winning lottery ticket, emboldening the duo to bump up against the criminal element to get back the wallet. There are plenty of remakes that elicit groans. If this package comes together (Smith and Washington have long wanted to work together), with McKay’s comic sensibility, this redo could be exceptional. The original cast was lined with the likes of Harry Belafonte, Flip Wilson and Richard Pryor, and the remake could follow suit by star-casting the supporting roles.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros has closed deals with Akiva Goldsman and Overbrook Entertainment to produce another installment ofI Am Legend, the 2007 hit film. The intention is for Will Smith to reprise his role as scientist Robert Neville, who was the last man on Earth doing battle with a mutated mob in New York City after an apocalyptic man-made virus wiped out the population. A deal was made with Arash Amel to write the script. The film is not being called a prequel, which had been rumored for the past few years. But clearly Warner Bros sees more room to roam on a film that grossed $584 million worldwide. The original film is based on the novel by Richard Matheson. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures set Larry Brenner to write a draft of Angelology, based on the Danielle Trussoni novel. Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and Marc Forster’s Apparatus is producing. Brenner wrote Bethlehem, a script that made the most recent Black List. Sony paid $1 million for the rights to the novel in 2009. Angelology revolves around a 23-year old nun who teams with an angelologist to thwart a group that tries to destroy mankind by harnessing the destructive powers of a race of angel/human hybrids. The scribe’s repped by CAA and Magnet Management.
Simon Cowell’s SYCO ENTERTAINMENT has partnered with Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith’s OVERBROOK ENTERTAINMENT on the development and launch of a live, new international TV format to find the world’s greatest DJs.
This new format has already been developed and will be co-produced by SYCO and OVERBROOK. The show will capture the incredible rise of the DJ phenomena. It has been in development for over a year and SYCO, OE and Sony Pictures Television will soon announce their broadcast partners in both the US and the UK.
Will Smith has been picked to host the 2012 Kids’ Choice Awards, which will air on Nickelodeon on March 31 at 8 PM ET/PT live from the Galen Center at USC. It’s the 25th edition of the event; last year, the show hosted by Jack Black drew 7.3 million viewers, ranking as that week’s top telecast all of TV in kids and tween demos. Smith, a two-time Oscar nominee, has Columbia’s Men In Black 3 opening May 25 and this year will produce One Thousand A.E. co-starring his son Jaden. “How better to celebrate 25 years of Kids’ Choice Awards than with the biggest movie star in the world?” said Marjorie Cohn, President, Original Programming and Development, Nickelodeon Group and an executive producer of the show. “Will has enough KCA Blimps at home to fill a room, having long been one of kids’ favorites. He’s a larger than life presence who knows how to play big, and we’re excited he’ll be taking the stage for the biggest, loudest, messiest spectacle in the show’s 25-year history.”
Here’s the first-look trailer Sony Pictures announced it is launching all over the planet today — at least this planet. The sci-fi tentpole reunites Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones and director Barry Sonnenfeld, who teamed on the first two films in the franchise — the previous movie in the series was released in 2002. The studio is already ramping this up for its May 25, 2012 premiere.
EXCLUSIVE: The agency signing wars had been quiet, but they just heated up. WME has signed M. Night Shyamalan. The writer, director and producer has been developing as his next film the Sony Pictures tent pole A.E. which has Will Smith attached to star with his son, Jaden. Shyamalan had been repped by CAA.
The Philadelphia-based filmmaker last directed The Last Airbender and before that The Happening. Shyamalan also generated the genre film Devil through Night Chronicles, the banner he formed to hatch and produce fright fare with Media Rights Capital. Shyamalan spent several years with CAA and before that had been repped by UTA.
With a slew of daytime syndicated talk show projects jockeying for a fall 2012 berth, a big one is entering the fray for fall 2013. Queen Latifah is set to host a new daytime talk show that Flavor Unit, her company with Shakim Compere, will co-produce with Will Smith and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television. Compere and Overbrook’s Miguel Melendez, who were instrumental in getting the project together, will serve as executive producers with Queen Latifah and Overbrook’s Lassiter, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith.
Queen Latifah and Smith have a lot in common — both started in hip-hop before segueing into acting and then producing and both have earned Oscar nominations. In fact, Latifah’s first role was an arc on NBC’s The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air, which starred Smith, also in his first acting gig. “We’ve had a long and successful history both personally and professionally with Overbrook’s Miguel, JL, Jada and Will,” Compere said. “We share a common vision and have been wanting to collaborate for quite some time.” In addition to Queen Latifah’s work with Smith on Fresh Prince, she starred opposite his wife, Pinkett Smith, in the 1996 movie Set It Off. “We are excited to join forces with Latifah and as well as Sony Pictures TV on this new venture,” Melendez said. “This forum is the perfect place to showcase Latifah’s tremendous range of talents and unique ability to connect and inspire people.” Sony TV’s relationship with Pinkett Smith and Overbrook stems from their recent collaboration on the TNT series Hawthorne, which starred Pinkett Smith and was produced by Sony and Overbrook. Additionally, Overbrook has had a long relationship with Sony on the film side, most recently producing together the hit Karate Kid remake.
Sony could’ve fast-tracked the talk show for a fall 2012 launch but opted to give it time to develop the way the studio did with The Dr. Oz Show, which has been the No. 1 syndicated daytime talk show in women 25-54 for the past three weeks. Sony TV does not have a contender for fall 2012 as the studio has been very selective with daytime projects, taking its time to find one that it feels it can throw its full support behind. Besides, the 2012 field is overcrowded already with talk shows hosted by Katie Couric and Steve Harvey already cleared for launch, Maury spin-off Trisha Goddard close to a go after getting picked up by Sinclair a week ago, and several other shows — including Twentieth’s Ricki Lake, Warner Bros’ Bethenny Frankel and CBS TV Distribution’s Jeff Probst — looking for station clearances. Read More »
2ND UPDATE, 12:25 AM: First there was the $35,800-per-person fundraising dinner tonight with Will Smith hosted by his Overbrook Entertainment producing partner and manager James Lassiter. Then President Obama headed over to the home of Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith for a somewhat lower-key event aimed at Latino supporters. He was introduced by Eva Longoria who said Obama “knows he’s the president of all Americans” and that “we thank you for everything you’re doing.” Obama leaves town after Tuesday’s Jay Leno taping.
UPDATE (correcting misidentification), 8:01 p.m.: This evening’s Los Angeles traffic snarl at rush hour was just that much worse because President Barack Obama arrived at LAX on board Air Force One at 4:30 PM. He’s attending two Hollywood political fundraisers for the Democratic Party tonight, first at producer James Lassiter’s mansion and then Melanie Griffith’s and Antonio Banderas’ home. Potus will be making a Tonight Show appearance with Jay Leno tomorrow before jetting out of town. According to the White House pool report, Obama first helicoptered to a landing zone in Brentwood and the motorcade made an “off-the-record” visit to Roscoe’s chicken and waffle house. The president ordered at the counter for himself (and nearby aides) the No. 9 “Country Boy” – 3 wings with choice of waffle, potato salad or French fries ($8.90). He then started chatting with diners. I say who cares if you like Obama’s politics or not: he’s got good taste when it comes to LA’s favorite eats.
Then the motorcade traveled to Hancock Park for the first fundraiser hosted by Lassiter, who is Will Smith’s production partner in Overbrook Entertainment which manages the entire Pinkett-Smith family. Here is the pool report written by the Los Angeles Times‘ Peter Nicholas: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has hired Dante Harper to adapt Foundation, the groundbreaking Isaac Asimov science fiction trilogy which Roland Emmerich is developing to direct. Emmerich has been attached since the studio acquired the property in early 2009 when he and former Centropolis partner Michael Wimer won a multi-studio auction as the rights became available. Originally published as a short story series in Astounding Magazine in 1942, Asimov’s Foundation is the complex saga of humans scattered on planets throughout the galaxy, all living under the rule of the Galactic Empire. The protagonist is a psycho-historian who has an ability to read the future and sees that the empire will collapse imminently. He sets out to save the knowledge of mankind from being wiped out. Robert Rodat was first writer on the project.
Harper broke onto the scene with a Timothy McVeigh biopic called Dreamland that Plan B is producing. He wrote Black Hole for David Fincher at Paramount and did the production rewrite worl in Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, which stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton. Harper’s big sale came when his script All You Need is Kill was acquired by Warner Bros. The film is on a fast track, with Doug Liman directing. The studio is out to cast and the film is a priority. Harper is repped by CAA and Management 360.
This becomes the second major development on a work by the late Asimov. 20th Century Fox, which previously … Read More »