Anton Yelchin and Zooey Deschanel will star alongside John Hawkes in The Driftless Area, a dark comedy from director and co-writer Zachary Sluser. A resourceful bartender (Yelchin) moves back to his hometown after his parents die, falls for an enigmatic woman (Deschanel) and is unwittingly pitted against a volatile crook (Hawkes). Ciaran Hinds and Alia Shawkat co-star in the dark comedy based on the novel by Tom Drury, who co-wrote the screenplay. Shooting starts May 14 in Vancouver for Unified Pictures and Bron Studios. Keith Kjarval and Aaron L. Gilbert are producing with Nicole Romano as exec producer. Radiant Films will be selling international rights at the Cannes Film Market next month, and CAA is handling domestic.
EXCLUSIVE: Fox has put in development Queen Of Everything, a half-hour animated comedy executive produced by Zooey Deschanel and Sophia Rossi via their Miss Hawkins banner. It hails from 20th Century Fox TV where Miss Hawkins has a first-look deal. Written/executive produced by Ali Waller (American Dad, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon), Queen Of Everything is a workplace comedy set in a modern fairytale world. It centers on an evil queen who comes into power and realizes that running a Queendom isn’t easy when you have no people skills and everyone hates you. With the help of her staff, she’ll try to change her ways. This development season, Deschanel and Rossi sold projects to Fox and NBC. Waller is repped by CAA and Felker Toczek; Deschanel is with CAA and Hansen Jacobson; Rossi is repped by UTA, 3 Arts, and Ziffren Brittenham.
Zooey Deschanel’s Hello Giggles Sells ‘Sister-In-Law’ To Good Universe; Sets ‘Girls’ Writer To Script
EXCLUSIVE: New Girl‘s Zooey Deschanel and her Hello Giggles cohorts are expanding into film with Sister-In-Law, a comedy they’ve just sold to Good Universe. The production company Deschanel formed with partner Rivka Rossi, springboarding off their femme-driven website Hello Giggles, has already been moving fast into TV. Sister-In-Law marks their first feature sale and will be scripted by Girls writer Sarah Heyward. Story follows a woman who meets her boyfriend’s family for the first time and must find a way to get along with her eccentric future sister-in-law. Audrey Chon will oversee for Good Universe, with Rossi, Deschanel, and Molly McAleer producing for Hello Giggles. Earlier this month Deschanel and Rossi sold TV comedies And Lies I Tell My Daughter and Freelancers to NBC and Fox, respectively. Heyward is repped by UTA. Rossi is repped by UTA, 3 Arts, and Ziffren. Deschanel is repped by CAA and Hansen Jacobson. McAleer is repped by WME and Ginsburg Daniels. Dan negotiated the deal on behalf of Good Universe.
Catch up on the best of this week’s Deadline TV coverage:
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler To Return As Golden Globes Hosts In 2014 And 2015
By Nellie Andreeva – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have closed deals to host the next two Golden Globe Awards, starting with the January 12, 2014 ceremony.
Zooey Deschanel Producing Comedy Projects For Fox And NBC
By Nellie Andreeva – New Girl star Zooey Deschanel and her producing partner, Rivka Sophia Rossi, have sold two projects under their first-look deal with 20th Century Fox TV.
Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci Team With Nick Santora & Justin Lin For CBS Put Pilot, Sell CW Terrorist Drama
By Nellie Andreeva – Three years after the end of Numbers, CBS is high on another drama procedural with a genius at the center.
‘SNL’ Camp’s Latest Theory On New Cast: Black Comediennes Aren’t “Ready”
By Lisa De Moraes – Saturday Night Live has spent a considerable amount of energy lately explaining away its lack of cast diversity, since announcing the latest crop of white performers to be added to the show.
New Girl star Zooey Deschanel and her producing partner, Rivka Sophia Rossi, have sold two projects under their first-look deal with 20th Century Fox TV: one with Mickey Rapkin, whose non-fiction book Pitch Perfect became the hit comedy feature, and one based on a property from Deschanel and Rossi’s successful female-centric online venture Hello Giggles with Molly McAleer (2 Broke Girls). Fox’s Freelancers is from 20th TV and Deschanel and Rossi’s Miss Hawkins banner. Written by Rapkin, it centers on a disgraced and newly-single lawyer who, after getting fired from his corporate job, has to start over at age 30. He sets up shop at one of those modern, shared office spaces that are suddenly everywhere, where he’s forced to interact with a diverse group of oddball freelancers. Rossi, Deschanel and Rapkin, who is repped by UTA, Management 360, and Sean Marks, executive produce.
NBC’s And Lies I Tell My Daughter, from HelloGiggles and 20th, is based on the Hellogiggles column by Julia Obst. Written by Deb Schoeneman (Girls), it centers on an unconventional mom finds that honesty is not always the best policy when it comes to her new family. Rossi, Deschanel, McAleer and Schoeneman exec produce. Schoeneman is repped by UTA and Morris Yorn; McAleer is with WME, Mosaic, and Ginsburg Daniels; Rossi is repped by 3 Arts, UTA, …
EXCLUSIVE: Zooey Deschanel is making a major representation change. The New Girl star has re-signed with CAA after a seven-month stint at UTA. Additionally, she has left long-time manager Sarah Jackson. For the time being, Deschanel is not taking in a new manager. “I worked with Zooey for over 17 years, and have the highest regard for her as an artist and a person,” Jackson said. “I’m very proud of the career she is currently enjoying and wish her the very best.” Jackson had been with Deschanel for her entire career to date, which has made the actress a TV star and indie darling and has earned her an Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations. Jackson’s Seven Summits continues to represent clients that include Homeland‘s Morena Baccarin, top-grossing comedian Russell Peters, Paula Malcomson, Tyler James Williams and Michael Urie.
EXCLUSIVE: Zooey Deschanel is becoming a full-fledged TV producer. The New Girl star has launched a production company with her Hello Giggles partner Sophia Rossi, which has inked a two-year first-look deal with 20th Century Fox TV, the studio behind New Girl. Under the pact, Deschanel and Rossi will develop new projects for the studio. The two tried their hand at producing this season with Must Be Nice, a comedy written by New Girl consulting producer J.J. Philbin and produced by 20th TV, which sold to Fox, the network that airs New Girl. Deschanel and Rossi executive produced that project with Molly McAleer (2 Broke Girls), their partner at female-centric Web site Hello Giggles, which the trio launched in 2011. “We’ve known Zooey as an actress through New Girl, and as we got to know her as a producer through the script she developed, we quickly realized that there is so much more to her,” 20th TV chairman Gary Newman said. “Zooey and Sophia have their finger on the pulse of young people and particularly young women, and we really responded to that.” Deschanel is repped by UTA, Seven Summits and Hanson Jacobson; Rossi by UTA, Ziffren Brittenham and 3 Arts.
EXCLUSIVE: Zooey Deschanel has signed with UTA. She was with CAA. Indie film darling Deschanel stars on Fox’s comedy series New Girl, which has earned her Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Deschanel is also a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who records and performs in the band She & Him. Additionally, she is a co-founder of the female-targeted entertainment and pop culture website HelloGiggles.com, which she created along with partners Sophia Rossi and Molly Mcaleer. (Rossi is also repped by UTA.) This season, Deschanel and Hello Giggles ventured into series development with Must Be Nice, a comedy written by New Girl consulting producer J.J. Philbin, which sold to Fox with a script commitment. Deschanel’s feature credits include 500 Days Of Summer and Almost Famous. She continues to be repped by manager Sarah Jackson and attorney Steve Warren.
EXCLUSIVE: New Girl star Zooey Deschanel is expanding her relationship with the series’ network, Fox, and producing entities, 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. Deschanel is executive producing Must Be Nice, a comedy written by New Girl consulting producer J.J. Philbin, which has sold to Fox with a script commitment. 20th TV and studio-based Chernin Entertainment are producing along with Deschanel’s Hello Giggles.
Must Be Nice explores the generation gap between two women who are only 7 years apart when a single, chaotic, 27 year-old moves in with her more responsible, 34-year-old, married sister. Philbin and Deschanel will executive produce with Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and Deschanel’s Hello Giggles partners Sophia Rossi and Molly McAleer (2 Broke Girls). Deschanel, Rossi and McAleer last year launched female-centric Web site Hello Giggles, and are now expanding their brand to television.
This marks the second comedy project for Philbin this season. She also is executive producing High Life, from the brother-and-sister writing duo Will Reiser (50/50) and Robin Reiser. The project, also from 20th TV, is at NBC with a put pilot commitment. Deschanel is with CAA and Seven Summits. UTA reps Rossi and Philbin who is managed by 3 Arts. McAleer is repped by WME and Mosaic.
Charlie Mason is an AwardsLine contributor
A whole thesaurus-full of adjectives has been bestowed upon Zooey Deschanel over the course of her almost-15-year showbiz career. But none have had quite the staying power of “adorkable,” the descriptor that Fox coined to sum up her character Jess Day on the fall breakout New Girl. Mind you, it doesn’t faze the 32-year-old actress, who in real life comes off far brainier than zany. “It was a really great tagline for the show’s first season,” says the sitcom veteran (Frasier), movie star (Elf) and indie darling ((500) Days of Summer). “I can’t complain.” Nonetheless, it probably won’t be long until she gets stamped with another label: Emmy nominee.
AWARDSLINE: I hope you’re not superstitious, because I’d like to wish you luck with that Emmy nod I suspect you’re about to get.
ZOOEY DESCHANEL: Oh, thanks. But I haven’t won anything since fifth-grade student council, so I try not to think about that stuff. I mean, obviously, I would be to-the-moon excited if I were to be recognized. But I would never want to even assume (that I might get a nomination).
EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing that The Artist star Jean Dujardin will make a surprise appearance on Saturday Night Live in an hour or so. From what I’m told, the producers wanted him, and it was a dream of his to do the show. So he flew in Friday from Paris for rehearsals, and flies right out in the morning to London for the BAFTAs. This is what you go through when you are a frontrunner for Best Actor and the voting closes on February 21. I understand that he does a bit of dancing in his segment on the show in an Artist-flavored edition of SNL‘s recurring Les Jeunes de Paris dancing sketches starring Taran Killam.
UPDATE: Rachel Dratch will host the WGA Awards’ New York ceremony, which is happening simultaneously with WGA West’s gala February 19. The WGA East’s event is at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City.
Los Angeles – The Writers Guild of America, West has tapped Zooey Deschanel (New Girl,  Days of Summer) and Joel McHale (Community, The Soup) to co-host the WGAW’s 2012 Writers Guild Awards L.A. show on Sunday, February 19, 2012, at the Hollywood Palladium. The WGAW’s 2012 WGA L.A. awards show is executive produced by Spike Jones, Jr., along with a creative time that includes talent producer Carole Propp and head writer Guy Nicolucci.
She may be the most annoying showbiz actress, and he the most promising actor. But enjoy Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt together singing a ditty by Nancy Wilson in this new video Deschanel posted to her website:
In between juggling five series — Family Guy, American Dad, The Cleveland Show and the upcoming Flintstones and Cosmos reboots — his first feature and emceeing duties at the Comedy Central roasts, Seth MacFarlane is fostering a budding music career. And tonight, the uber TV producer earned two Grammy nominations. One was for a song from Family Guy, Christmastime Is Killing Us, which he co-wrote, in the Best Song Written For Visual Media category. It was the only song from a TV show to make the cut. The other nod was an even bigger surprise: MacFarlane’s debut album as a singer, Music Is Better Than Words, was nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album alongside heavyweights Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and Harry Connick Jr. and international sensation Susan Boyle. I think it is safe to say that this is the first time MacFarlane’s name has been mentioned in the same sentence as Ms. Streisand. (Below is a snippet from one of MacFarlane’s sold-out live performances of Music Is Better Than Words, which was turned into an EPIX special.)
After two highly rated airings, Fox’s new comedy series New Girl is getting an early back-nine pickup — which in this case is a back-11 pickup — bringing the order to the show starring Zooey Deschanel to 24 episodes. The 20th TV/Chernin Entertainment series, which gave Fox the elusive first live-action half-hour comedy hit in a decade, launched with a big 4.8 rating among adults 18-49 last week. Last night, it logged a 4.5, topping all Tuesday competition in the demo both weeks.
New Girl was created by Liz Meriwether who is executive producing with Peter Chernin, Katherine Pope and helmer Jake Kasdan, who directed both the pilot and last night’s second episode. “We love the charming Zooey Deschanel and the entire cast, we’re knocked out with the work that Liz Meriwether and the whole staff is doing and we are really psyched about the upcoming episodes in the pipeline,” Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said. “It’s great that audiences have responded so positively so far and we’re confident that even more people will embrace the show — and more comedy on Fox — this season.” New Girl is the first new fall series to get a back-nine order.
‘New Girl’ Opens Big, Tops Night
For the first time in a decade, Fox can say that it has a live-action half-hour comedy hit on its hands with New Girl, which blew past all ratings projections to open with a big 4.8/12 in adults 18-49 (10.3 million viewers overall). New Girl‘s performance caught everyone by surprise, including Fox’s head of marketing Joe Earley. While he is elated today, just a couple of days ago he was worried as the network’s risky promo stunt of putting the New Girl pilot on iTunes, VOD, airplanes and Hulu and in hotels for two weeks ahead of the premiere had started to get out of hand. Fox had made the deal to raise awareness for the series starring Zooey Deschanel, as the show’s intent-to-view levels had been consistently high but its awareness numbers were lagging. In exchange for getting the pilot for free streaming, distributors committed to promote the show across their platforms, including a prominent placement on the homepage of iTunes, which was taking a pre-premiere window on a show for the first time. After the first week, things looked good — awareness for New Girl was up by 6%, something Earley said could not have been achieved by the network’s standard marketing campaign alone. (Free press for the sneak peek experiment might have helped, too.) After awareness went up, the buzz metrics also started jumping, and chatter on the show increased 400%. “People were talking peer-to-peer, and it was overwhelmingly positive,” Earley said. “So we figured any viewing lost (by the promotional streaming) would be replaced by people who didn’t intend to watch.”
Will Arnett, Julianna Margulies, Amy Poehler, Sofia Vergara, Zooey Deschanel and Ashton Kutcher have been tapped as the first group of presenters announced for the 63rd annual Primetime Emmy Awards, set for Sept. 18 at NOKIA Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles and televised live on Fox. Arnett, Margulies, Poehler and Vergara are nominees this year; Deschanel stars in Fox’s new series New Girl and Kutcher, of course, is replacing Charlie Sheen on CBS’ Two And a Half Men.
Fox is adding more big-screen star power to new comedy series New Girl, which is toplined by indie darling Zooey Deschanel. In his first major TV role since his breakthrough gig on NBC’s Ed, Justin Long has signed on for a 3-episode arc opposite Deschanel on New Girl. The 20th TV-produced series centers on Jess (Deschanel), an offbeat and adorable girl in her late 20s who, after a bad breakup, moves in with three single guys. Starting with Episode 6, Long will play Paul, a music teacher and Jess’ love interest. The casting stems from Long’s longstanding relationship with New Girl creator/executive producer Liz Meriwether. After his co-starring role on the NBC dramedy Ed, Long switched to features full-time (and those Mac-PC commercials). His only notable TV series appearances since was in an 2006 episode of That ’70s Show, which, like New Girl, aired on Fox.
Hurricane Irene: Worst Movie Weekend Of 2011? ‘The Help’ #1 Again, ‘Colombiana’ #2, ‘Afraid Of The Dark’ #3, ‘Our Idiot Brother’ #6
SATURDAY PM/SUNDAY AM, 4TH UPDATE: This weekend’s numbers bounced around, especially after Rentrak, the box office reporting service, sent out the following advisory: “We wanted to make you aware that a possible 1,000 theatres could be affected by the weather on the East Coast. We’ve been hearing about closures at many theatres and wanted to advise you that both Saturday and Sunday grosses will be affected.” This is turning into the worst moviegoing weekend of 2011, in a race with only Super Bowl weekend, because of the expected miniscule $80M expected for total North American box office grosses. Theater chains like AMC, Regal, and Clearview Cinemas were closing, location counts were dropping, and major releases were finding cover. Hurricane Irene came ashore along the Atlantic Seaboard on Saturday starting in North Carolina and heading due north. Mass transit was suspended in many areas while heavy rains and high winds pounded the region, causing one studio exec to complain to me, ”Business is in the crapper right now. Any way you slice it business is getting creamed this weekend.” The storm, at one point bigger than the size of Europe, created a state of emergency up the East Coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts and will depress box office by 10%, 20%, or more. Considering that this weekend’s 3 major opening movies were only expected to debut modestly even in fair weather, studios and distributors have a Mother Nature excuse when their films underperform at the North American box office. So I can’t humiliate them for not hitting double digits. Drats!)
1. DreamWorks/Disney’s The Help is a lock again for #1 with $4.4M Friday and $5.9M Saturday for a $14.3M weekend as the bestselling book-turned-pic enters its 3.5th week into 2,778 originally booked theaters. The cume is estimated at $96.6M and should pass the $100M plateau mid-week.
2. Sony Pictures/TriStar’s Luc Besson-produced and co-written PG-13 actioner Colombiana starring Zoe Saldana as the female assassin. It did the best of the newcomers opening to $3.7M Friday and also $3.7M Saturday to a $10.3M weekend with an original booking into 2,614 theaters. It earned an ‘A-’ CinemaScore from audiences. “Given the devastating weather system on the East Coast, the film performed better than expected and is off to a solid start and should hold well for the coming holiday weekend and into the Fall,” the studio said. Sony Pictures did a distribution deal for Colombiana which was fully financed by EuropaCorp and partners TF1 Films Production, Grive Productions with the participation of Canal+ and Cinecinema. They also put up the P&A for this title. For the media and promo campaign, Sony tied into the revenge theme of the movie with custom branded promotions and tie-ins with outlets like BET where there was “back to payback” stunt. The studio placed sneak peaks of the film in programming blocks where the cable channel was broadcasting revenge-oriented titles like Romeo Must Die and A Man Apart. Zoe Saldana shot custom interstitials. On channels like G4, a sweepstakes gave the winner time with Zoe’s trainer and to remake a scene from the film. Activities also specifically targeted urban audiences and Spanish language press. TriStar Pictures and Stage 6 Films present a coproduction EuropaCorp. Directed by Olivier Megaton, Colombiana gave writing credits to Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen, and produced by Luc Besson and Ariel Zeitoun.
3. FilmDistrict’s Guillermo del Toro-written and co-produced haunted house movie Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark, starring Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce was originally booked into 2,760 theaters. It debuted with $3.6M Friday and $2.9M Saturday and will make $8.6M this weekend. It earned an unfortunate ‘C-’ CinemaScore from audiences. “All things considered, not a bad Saturday and ultimately the weekend total was good despite the hurricane,” said FilmDistrict’s Bob Berney. ”Our key large urban East Coast markets were really killed.” Females under 25 responded strongest to Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark and in markets with large Latino populations. Berney has known Guillermo since distributing his Academy Award-winning Pan’s Labyrinth at Picturehouse. that’s also where Berney released The Orphanage which del Toro exec-produced. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark had been in the works for some time ever since del Toro made Mimic for the original Miramax. Guillermo based the new movie on a 1973 TV pic that had “scared the crap” out of him as a kid in Mexico. Del Toro chose director Troy Nixey from his work in comic books and a short film that Guillermo really responded to. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark was shot while Guillermo was in New Zealand preparing The Hobbit (remember that?) and would fly over to Melbourne where Nixey was shooting and remained very involved in the $28M production. After Disney sold Miramax to the Colony Capital/Ron Tutor group, FilmDistrict acquired Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark around Sundance this year. It was the closing night pic at the LA Film Festival and put together a Comic-Con panel with del Toro and Guy Pearce. Attendees called it the most highbrow discussion of the Con steeped in both film history and profanity. Guillermo has a “Presents” credit on the film and his pedigree has been one of the key marketing points of the film. “Jeanne and I were really happy to be working with Guillermo again,” Berney emailed me. “He really is the ’hardest working man in show business’ and the most generous and nicest guy as well. Not to mention that he holds the record for ‘F bombs’ at Q&As and panels around the world.”
4. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Fox) Week 4 [3,374? Theaters]
Friday $2.6M, Saturday $3.6M, Weekend $8.6M, Cume $148.4M
5. Spy Kids 4D (Dimension/Weinstein Co) Week 2 (3,305? Theaters)
Friday $1.5M, Saturday $2.5M, Weekend $5.7M (-51%), Cume $21.7M
6. The Weinstein Co’s not-so-raunchy R-rated comedy Our Idiot Brother showcasing Paul Rudd surrounded by Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel and Emily Mortimer originally booked into 2,555 theaters. It opened to $2.3M and $2.5M Saturday for a $5.7M weekend. It earned a disappointing ‘C+’ CinemaScores from audiences. This film was acquired by TWC and Ron Burkle’s YUK Films at the Sundance Film Festival for $6 million in exchange for U.S., Germany, France, Japan, and Benelux rights. Alliance has Canada via their recent acquisition of Maple Films. Directed by Jesse Peretz from a script he wrote with his sister Evgenia, he reached out to producer Anthony Bregman (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind) who in turn enlisted producer Peter Saraf (Little Miss Sunshine) and they put the whole deal together in a few weeks. TWC’s marketing campaign involved not only the traditional media buys but a lot of extras on the Internet as well — like the Funny Or Die video with Harvey Weinstein and Paul Rudd. Rudd went on MLB.com talking sports. There also was a ’Search for Willie Nelson’ (the dog’s name in the film) viral campaign. And an Idiot Photo Booth social campaign. Our Idiot Brother gave writing credits to Evgenia Peretz and David Schisgall and producing credits to Stefanie Azpiazu, Caroline Jaczko, Aleen Keshishian, Anthony Bregman, Peter Saraf, and Marc Turtletaub.