Paramount Makes First-Look Deal With ‘The Departed’ Scribe William Monahan

Mike Fleming

William_Monahan_resized (1)EXCLUSIVE: Writer-director William Monahan has signed a two-year first-look deal with Paramount Pictures. His company, Henceforth Pictures, has a number of projects already in development, including several Monahan originals. The deal comes as the Monahan-scripted reboot of The Gambler is in production at Paramount with Mark Wahlberg and Jessica Lange starring and Rupert Wyatt directing. Monahan also adapted the book Cocaine Cowboys into Desperado, a film that will re-team Lone Survivor helmer Peter Berg with Wahlberg and which Paramount will put into production in the fall.

Monahan separately has turned in a scripted adaptation of John Le Carre’s most recent novel, A Delicate Truth, to BBC Films. He has numerous other projects in the pipeline, including Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For, as well as an adaption of Sympathy For Lady Vengeance that will star Charlize Theron, with Monahan producing with Theron and Megan Ellison. He also adapted the adventure novel The Wild Geese, which was previously turned in to the 1978 film that starred Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Roger Moore. Monahan is producing that with Greg Shapiro and Patrick Milling Smith. Read More »

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‘Justified’s Walton Goggins Joins William Monahan Pic ‘Mojave’

By | Friday September 27, 2013 @ 9:24am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Walton Goggins has been cast opposite Garrett Hedlund, Oscar Isaac and Louise Bourgoin in Mojave, the Atlas Independent thriller written and being directed by William Monahan. The story centers on a a near-suicidal artist who escapes … Read More »

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Mark Wahlberg And Rupert Wyatt Eyeing ‘The Gambler’ Remake For Paramount

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m in transit from Toronto, but here is a hot project coming together quickly. I’m hearing that Mark Wahlberg is circling to star and Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes helmer Rupert Wyatt is circling to … Read More »

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Louise Bourgoin Joins Oscar Isaac And Garrett Hedlund In ‘Mojave’

By | Thursday July 18, 2013 @ 1:37pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: César-nominated French actress Louise Bourgoin will join Oscar Isaac and Garret Hedlund in Mojave, the thriller to be directed by William Monahan from his original screenplay. The film is about a desolated, violent artist who escapes … Read More »

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Mark Wahlberg And Peter Berg Sign On To Paramount’s ‘American Desperado’ Adapted By William Monahan For Start Early 2014

By | Thursday June 27, 2013 @ 1:25pm PDT

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that Oscar-winning screenwriter William Monahan (The Departed) has done a fresh adaptation of the book American Desperado. Now Mark Wahlberg is attached to star and Peter Berg to direct the film. Read More »

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William Monahan In Talks To Adapt Latest John Le Carré Novel ‘A Delicate Truth’

By | Thursday April 25, 2013 @ 5:51am PDT

The Ink Factory, the production company behind A Most Wanted Man, is in advanced talks with Oscar-winning The Departed screenwriter William Monahan to script the adaptation of John Le Carré‘s latest novel, A Delicate Truth. The book tells the story of a man trying to unravel a conspiracy over a counter-terror operation. The movie is being developed with BBC Films and the book releases today. In keeping with the new vein of teasing books by video, check out the trailer: Read More »

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Starz Boards Atlas-Produced Drama Series Project ‘Crime’ From William Monahan

By | Wednesday January 2, 2013 @ 8:39am PST

Atlas Entertainment is venturing into the TV series world with Crime, written by Oscar winner William Monahan. Starz is co-financing the drama with Sonar Entertainment and has domestic pay television and home entertainment rights including Canada to the series, which is being billed as a a study of criminal enterprise and scandal across 1960s Britain. The project was developed from a feature film treatment by Vanessa Sadler. “There’s very little more interesting to me than the ’60s in Britain, taken from Profumo to psychedelia, from the London criminal world to the worlds of art and fashion — all of which continually intersected”, Monahan said in the release announcing the project. “I know one thing: it’s very, very, funny.” Atlas’ Charles Roven and William Green will executive produce with Monahan, with Atlas’ Andy Horwitz and Justine Suzanne Jones of Monahan’s Henceforth Pictures co-exec producing. Sonar will have the option to distribute Crime to markets outside the U.S. and Canada. Independent Talent’s Josh Varney helped set up the deal with Monahan and put the project into motion. Read More »

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Paramount Brings On ‘The Departed’s William Monahan To Rewrite Cocaine Drama

By | Thursday December 13, 2012 @ 1:26pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount has set Oscar-winning The Departed scribe William Monahan to rewrite American Desperado, the film that is being shaped as a star vehicle for Mark Wahlberg. The film, based on the book American Desperado: My Life As A Cocaine Cowboy, focuses on the criminal exploits of Jon Roberts, who made a fortune smuggling cocaine into the U.S. for the Medellin Cartel. Roberts wrote the book with Generation Kill author Evan Wright, the latter of whom wrote the most recent draft of the script. Monahan will go back to the book for his script. Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson are producing with Film 44′s Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey. Leverage’s Michael Garnett has been overseeing the project.

The exploits of Roberts and Mickey Munday were first chronicled in the 2006 Billy Corben documentary Cocaine Cowboys, which is in the process of being developed at HBO as a series that’s exec produced by Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer.

Wahlberg has been developing the film since 2008 with the intention to play Roberts, who died of cancer last December. After returning from Vietnam, Roberts headed to Miami and fell in with the Medellin drug cartel when it was moving billions of dollars of blow into the U.S. That led to excess and danger right out of the series Miami Vice, until he was caught by the DEA. Berg originally intended to direct the film but is only attached as producer. He and Wahlberg just shot Lone Survivor and they’ll figure it out when they get the script from Monahan, who worked with Wahlberg on The Departed. Read More »

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Team Comes Together For ‘Sympathy For Lady Vengeance’ Redo: Charlize Theron To Star, William Monahan To Write

By | Wednesday November 28, 2012 @ 12:15pm PST

BREAKING: Charlize Theron‘s Denver & Delilah Films, CJ Entertainment, and Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures are joining to produce an adaptation by William Monahan of Park Chan-wook’s Sympathy For Lady Vengeance, the last in Park’s revenge trilogy. … Read More »

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Atlas Independent Steps Up For William Monahan Thriller ‘Mojave’

By | Thursday March 22, 2012 @ 9:39am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Atlas Independent will make Mojave, a crime thriller scripted and to be directed by William Monahan. They are keeping the plot specifics quiet, but production is set to begin August in Southern California. It will be the second … Read More »

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James Toback On ‘The Gambler’ Remake: “Not Possible… Rudeness And Disrespect”

EXCLUSIVE: Imagine if you’d written a 1974 autobiographical masterpiece of a screenplay about compulsive gambling directed by Karel Reisz and starring James Caan. Imagine also if you just found out it was being remade by writer William Monahan, director Marty Scorsese, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio and no one told you. What is most incredible, and also despicable, is that neither the original studio Paramount nor the original producers Irwin Winkler and Bob Chartoff bothered to reveal they were going back to Toback’s creative well without him. On Saturday, Toback phoned me and asked if he could write about this surreal experience for Deadline Hollywood. Here in its entirety is his sadness and anger mixed with his trademark humor, against the backdrop of the late, great, and heady filmmaking days of that decade:

Close to 3 AM on this past Friday I got my daily call from my friend and LA housemate, Brett Ratner. I was at my desk working on my 22nd revision of the John DeLorean script I was hired by Reliance and Ratner to write with Ratner directing and the legendary Bob Evans producing.

“What are you doing?” Brett asked.
“What do you think?” I said. “This is by far the toughest script to get right of any I’ve written in 35 years.”
“What about The Gambler?”
“That was lightning fast and easy,” I said. “Of course, it was my own story.”
“That’s not what I meant,” he said. “Did you read Nikki Finke?”
“Always,” I said.
“How recently?”
“What are you getting at?” I asked.
“She just reported that DiCaprio and Scorsese are remaking The Gambler at Paramount.”
“Not my Gambler!” I said. “That’s not possible! No one said a word to me!”
“Who owns it?” Ratner asked.
“Paramount.”
“I guess they didn’t have to.”
“Legally, I guess you’re right,” I said.
“Maybe that’s all anyone gives a fuck about: whether something is legal.”

The film in question, The Gambler, was financed and distributed by Paramount in 1974 and directed by the late Karel Reisz. It was derived without a syllable of alteration from the final draft of my blatantly autobiographical original screenplay and starred James Caan as Axel Freed, a City College of NY literature Lecturer whose addiction to gambling overrides every other aspect of his richly diverse life. It might seem odd that my initial response to the news of the purported remake would be something south of “flattered and honored,” but the truth is that my main feeling was one of disbelief that I was learning of these plans at the same time and in the same fashion as any of the regular devoted readers of this column. It struck me as particularly odd since I have been a friend and unlimited admirer of Leonardo’s since our initial encounter in 1994 when we were, in fact, all set to close a deal on his playing the lead in Harvard Man – a deal sabotaged only by Bob Shaye’s overriding the greenlight which Mike DeLuca had conveyed to Jeff Berg and Jay Moloney. Equally odd was not hearing anything from Irwin Winkler who, I was soon to learn, is to be the producer on this projected new version as he was on the original. Perhaps my inability to view this “tribute” as primarily flattering was additionally influenced by a recent and infinitely more felicitous experience which involved remarkably similar circumstances. My movie, Fingers, was remade as a Cesar prize-sweeping film, The Beat That My Heart Skipped by Jacques Audiard, the great French filmmaker who called me from Paris and then flew to New York to discuss Fingers in great detail before redoing it, apparently not sharing the current group’s quaint — if indeed entirely legal –notion that as long as they “own” something — even a movie — they are fully entitled to do whatever they wish to it without even bothering to consult its creator.

Of course, the French have always had an entirely different set of laws and values governing intellectual property based on the poignant notion that a writer’s work cannot be tampered with by anyone even including someone who paid money to take ownership of it. This current experience conjures up memories of a banker who owned Harvard Man and once said to me: “To you this is a movie. To me this is a pair of shoes. My pair of shoes. And I will do whatever I like with it.”

I would like to offer an unexpurgated chronology of the history of The Gambler since the movie seems, after 37 years, to have ignited the energies of all these busy and important people. So here it is, covering all incidents — in the words of Winston Churchill — “from erection to resurrection.”

After graduating from Harvard in 1966 I taught literature and writing in a radical new program at CCNY whose additional faculty included Joseph Heller, John Hawks, William Burroughs, Donald Barthelme, Adrienne Rich, Mark Mirsky and Israel Horovitz. I also wrote articles and criticism for Esquire, Harpers, The Times, The Voice and other publications. Most of all, I gambled — recklessly, obsessively and secretly. It was a rich, exciting double life with heavy doses of sexual adventurism thrown in for good measure. Inspired by the life and work of my literary idol, Dostoyevsky, I embarked on the writing of The Gambler intended originally as a novel. Half way in, it became clear to me that I was seeing and hearing the “novel” as a movie and I abruptly decided to turn it into one. When I hit full stride I felt as if I were a recording secretary, simply putting down on paper dialogue and images I heard and saw as if they were not sounds and pictures at all but rather real life action existing in my brain.

When I finished the script

Read More »

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Leonardo DiCaprio Attached To ‘Gambler’ Remake At Paramount With Martin Scorsese

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In what shapes up as a reteam for the writer, director and star of the Oscar-winning The Departed, Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to star in The Gambler, a Paramount remake of the 1974 drama. James Caan starred in writer … Read More »

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Peter Chernin And Dylan Clark Board Tom Cruise-Starrer ‘Oblivion’ As Producers

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Peter Chernin and his top production executive Dylan Clark are coming aboard as producers of Oblivion, the futuristic science fiction film that has Tom Cruise starring and Tron: Legacy‘s Joseph Kosinski directing. Universal acquired the project in April and just dated it for a July 19, 2013 release. It shook loose from Disney because the filmmakers couldn’t make it a PG family film. How do Chernin and Clark fit in, considering Chernin Entertainment is becoming a major supplier for 20th Century Fox? Back when Disney bought the comic amid a heated bidding battle when it was sold as a comic from Barry Levine’s Radical Publishing, hatched from an idea by Kosinski, Chernin and Clark were among those chasing it hardest. When the filmmakers got the blessing of Disney to shop it elsewhere, Chernin and Clark tried to interest Fox, but that studio has a lot of science fiction projects. After Universal got it, the filmmakers invited Chernin and Clark to join the picture, I’m told.

The PG-13 film starts production in the fall, with a script by William Monahan and Karl Gajdusek. Oblivion is a futuristic science fiction love story that takes place in an apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth’s surface that has been rendered for the most part uninhabitable. An earthbound soldier — stuck there repairing drones that patrol and blast a savage alien life form — encounters a beautiful woman who crashed in a craft, and they have an experience that forces him to question his world view. Read More »

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HBO, BBC2 Make Deal To Turn Robert Graves Novel ‘I, Claudius’ Into Epic Miniseries

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: HBO has teamed with BBC2 to acquire the rights to turn the Robert Graves historical novel I, Claudius into a miniseries. The mini will be exec produced by BBC Worldwide Productions’ Jane Tranter and Anne Thomopoulos, who were executives producers of HBO’s Rome. The deal ends a long series of twists and turns for the rights to a book that was previously turned into an Emmy-winning 13-part miniseries in 1976 by BBC. In that mini, Derek Jacobi turned in the role of a career as Claudius. The book and mini gave a glimpse into the power, madness, murder, backstabbing and debauchery that was part and parcel of ruling-class Rome. It is seen through the eyes of Claudius, who was content to be the butt of jokes and hide his brilliance behind a stutter and a limp. Because he was never perceived as a threat, Claudius was never poisoned as many others in his circle were. Claudius outlasted them all, and became emperor in 41 A.D.

The feature rights were long controlled by In The Name of the Father helmer Jim Sheridan, but suddenly those rights were shopped in 2007. It looked like producer Scott Rudin beat out a competitive field of suitors to pay $2 million for the rights. He had Oscar-nominated The Departed scribe William Monahan ready to write it and Leonardo DiCaprio ready to attach himself to star. But the deal collapsed when Sheridan successfully challenged the claim in Ireland. By the time Sheridan finally bowed out, Rudin was no longer interested because he had moved on to another Roman Era epic, the movie adaptation of Stacy Schiff’s book Cleopatra: A Life, which has Angelina Jolie ready to play the Egyptian queen and David Fincher keen to direct her. Others flirted with the property, but the story is so big that it became clear that a miniseries was a way to get everything in. That opened the door for Tranter, who pursued the property for a decade. HBO has feasted on episodic period dramas, from Rome to its current run of Game of Thrones. Read More »

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Tom Cruise Commits To $100 Million Universal Sci-Fi Pic ‘Oblivion’ For Fall

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Tom Cruise has committed to star for Universal Pictures in Oblivion, the science fiction film that will be directed by Joseph Kosinski, who last helmed Tron: Legacy. Production will begin in October. Cruise had been loosely attached to the Radical Publishing graphic novel adaptation when Disney let it go and Universal committed to finance and distribute the $100 million film, which came with a William Monahan script that was being rewritten by Karl Gajdusek. Kosinski hatched the idea for the project and set it to be published by Barry Levine’s graphic novel imprint as a calling card for a movie when Kosinski was busy for so long directing Tron: Legacy, which topped out at $400 million worldwide gross.

Disney acquired the graphic novel in a heated auction last summer, and Universal was one of the studios that also chased it. It takes place in an apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface that has been rendered uninhabitable. Cruise will play a soldier who’s stuck alone on the planet, repairing the drones that patrol and destroy a savage alien life form. He encounters a beautiful woman who crashes in a craft, and their experience together forces him to question his world view. Disney allowed Kosinski to shop it because it didn’t fit its family-film mold and attempts to rein it in to a PG rating was creatively strangling the project. It will be PG-13. Read More »

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Anonymous Content Lands Management Trio To Bolster Talent Roster

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Management/production company Anonymous Content is about to make a major play in the talent game. I’m hearing that Doug Wald is leaving his partnership at Raw Talent, Sandra Chang is leaving as partner at Industry Entertainment, and Tony Lipp is leaving CAA. The trio will lead Anonymous Content’s talent division and create a major infusion of acting clients. It is all taking shape today.

Lipp announced internally on Tuesday that he would leave CAA to be a manager. Wald and Chang dropped the bombshells this morning at their respective management companies. Anonymous has a modest talent business that included four managers and clients like Samuel L. Jackson, Robin Wright, Katie Cassidy, Omar Epps and Adrianne Palicki (just cast as Wonder Woman). The newcomers will greatly expand that list, and a lot of it is emerging talent. Among the actors already set to join: Sam Worthington, Paul Dano, Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Anna Faris, Max Minghella, Jack Quaid, Patrick Wilson, Justin Chambers, Jessica Walter, Jaime King, Matt Bomer, John Cleese, Blythe Danner, Jonathan Groff, Mamie Gummer, Nathan Lane, Simon Russell Beale and Stanley Tucci. Read More »

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Universal In Lead To Adopt Joseph Kosinski’s ‘Oblivion’ With Tom Cruise

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has emerged as the front-runner to finance and distribute Oblivion, the Joseph Kosinski-directed sci-fi project that has Tom Cruise in early talks to star. The studio has entered into exclusive negotiations for a deal that would carry progress to production language, with a goal to begin shooting in October.  The deal hinges on Kosinski’s ability to bring in the film at around the $100 million mark. Cruise doesn’t have a deal at this point, but they are talking. Deadline told you last week that Universal was among three studios chasing the film. The film was scripted by William Monahan, with  Karl Gajdusek currently rewriting.

Oblivion recently shook loose from Disney, where Kosinski made his feature directorial debut on Tron: Legacy. That film just hit the $400 million worldwide gross mark for Disney, and the studio has a Tron sequel and other projects with Kosinski. But the studio let the filmmaker shop it because the post-apocalyptic Oblivion premise didn’t fit the studio’s family film mandate. Attempts to bring it in as a PG film was creatively strangling the project. It will be made as PG-13.

The project is based on a Radical Publishing graphic novel that came from an idea by Kosinski, and was published by Barry Levine’s imprint while Kosinski was preoccupied with Tron. The graphic novel was always viewed as a blueprint for a feature film, and Disney acquired in a heated auction last summer. Universal was among the studios chasing it last summer, along with Paramount and Fox and Chernin Entertainment. Oblivion is a futuristic science fiction love story that takes place in an apocalyptic future where most of the population lives in clouds above an earth surface that has been rendered for the most part uninhabitable. An earthbound soldier — stuck there repairing drones that patrol and blast a savage alien life form — encounters a beautiful woman who crashed in a craft, and they have an experience that forces him to question his world view. There are really only a handful of characters in the last-man-on-earth storyline, and so the feeling is that Cruise is a strong match. Read More »

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Joseph Kosinski Sci-Fi ‘Oblivion’ Getting Shopped Around

By | Tuesday March 29, 2011 @ 2:16pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Disney is letting go of Oblivion, the Radical Publishing graphic novel that it acquired in a heated auction last summer as a directing vehicle for Tron: Legacy helmer Joseph Kosinski. I’m told that other studios are looking at the … Read More »

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Disney Acquires ‘The Runner’ For Marc Forster, Brian Grazer And Blacklight Transmedia

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Walt Disney Pictures has acquired The Runner, a pitch for a futuristic science fiction film that will be written by Dave Andron as a potential directing vehicle for Marc Forster.  Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer is producing with Forster’s Apparatus … Read More »

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