7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: What the International TV Buyers Are Hot For: Belinda Menendez has headed NBCUniversal's international television distribution arm since 2004, but she saw something new at this year's L.A. Screenings. "We've never had this happen before where after some of these shows screened, the audiences are applauding," she says. As the annual previews for foreign buyers wrap up, one show winning an ovation was NBC's midseason musical Smash. "At the end of every screening, everybody looks back at the projectionist and asks, 'Can we see more?' " Star Debra Messing also dropped by an NBCU breakfast to woo buyers to the drama from DreamWorks and producer Steven Spielberg, who is also behind the Fox family sci-fi drama Terra Nova. A Hong Kong buyer sums up the response to that preview clip (the pilot is still being finished), "Spielberg and dinosaurs is a no-brainer." Comedies don't always cross borders, but 20th Century Fox Television appears to have a hot show with Apartment 23. "People were really laughing in the screening," says an Israeli buyer. Another comedy generating chuckles is 2 Broke Girls, one of two series with comedian Whitney Cummings as producer (the other is Whitney for NBC). Warner Bros. Television, the industry's biggest supplier, will lock up deals for J.J. Abrams' sci-fi prison drama Alcatraz as well as his Person of Interest. Also getting buzz is the Sony/CBS procedural Unforgettable, with Poppy Montgomery as a former NYPD detective who remembers everything except details of her sister's long-ago murder; the Fox/NBC sci-fi drama Awake, about a police detective whose reality is split between two worlds; the Disney/ABC soap Good Christian Belles; and Shonda Rhimes' Disney/ABC political thriller Scandal. There is solid interest in Sony's prebranded Charlie's Angels and Pan Am, and buyers have their eyes on the fairy-tale dramas Grimm (NBC) and Once Upon a Time (Disney/ABC). -- Alex Ben Block
Stuntman Tackles Evel Knievel
Like many a kid in the 1970s, Ric Roman Waugh wanted to emulate daredevil Evel Knievel. Exclusive Media Group is finally giving him his chance. Waugh, who spent 20 years as a stuntman before writing and directing the 2008 crime drama Felon, will adapt The High-Flying Life of Evel Knievel: American Showman, Daredevil, and Legend by Leigh Montville (ICM), which Random House published in April. The filmmaker has a connection to Knievel and the fame he achieved: His father, Freddy Waugh, was a founder of Stunts Unlimited in the '70s. Waugh (ICM, Management 360, Sloane Offer) is making his next film, Snitch, for Exclusive, which optioned the Knievel book rights for him. Exclusive's Nigel Sinclair and Guy East are producing the project, which will cover Knievel's major stunts in the '60s and '70s (Snake River Canyon, Kings Island) while providing a look at the painful (in many ways) life of the man. "This is my Walk the Line," says Waugh. "It's less about the stunts and more about an exploration of a man who let nothing stand in the way of his quest for fame and glory -- including his own mortality." -- Jay A. Fernandez
'Fifth Beatle' Gets a Film
Veteran stage producer Vivek Tiwary (The Addams Family, American Idiot) has lined up financing for his long-in-development debut film, The Fifth Beatle, about the Fab Four's legendary manager Brian Epstein, whom Paul McCartney dubbed the "fifth Beatle." Epstein, a closeted homosexual in the days when it was illegal in the U.K., suffered with his outsider status even as the band became famous. He died of a sedative overdose in 1967. "It's definitely possible that 'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away' is about Brian," says Tiwary (CAA), who scored a commitment from Nashville's DIMI Entertainment for $25 million in funding. With the exception of one song in 2010's Nowhere Boy, films featuring the Beatles as characters have gone without John Lennon/McCartney music. But after a lengthy negotiation, Tiwary says he has approval from the band's Apple Corps and a deal with Sony/ATV, which controls the Lennon/McCartney catalog. "My guess is we'll use six to 10 Beatles songs," he says. "We have the ability to use 'All You Need Is Love.' 'A Day in the Life' is one we're keen on. 'Sgt. Pepper,' 'Yesterday,' 'Eleanor Rigby,' 'Help!' and 'You've Got to Hide Your Love Away.' " Apple Corps CEO Jeff Jones declined comment on the film, saying only that "it will not include any of the original Beatles master recordings." -- Tim Appelo
Elijah Wood (WME, Brillstein, Stone Meyer) has joined Celeste and Jesse Forever, starring Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg as a divorcing couple. Lee Toland Krieger directs a script by Jones and Will McCormack. Wood plays Celeste's business partner.
Scott Frank (CAA, Ziffren Brittenham) is in talks to pen Columbia's Houdini. Francis Lawrence is attached to direct the story about the famous escape artist/magician Harry Houdini, and Jimmy Miller produces via Mosaic Media.
Universal has picked up an untitled action comedy from Larry Stuckey (CAA, Gendler & Kelly), with Jay Roach (CAA, Mosaic, Behr & Abramson) producing. Dean Parisot (CAA, Nelson Felker) is attached to direct.
Andrew Barrer and Gabe Ferrari (WME, Prolific, Felker Toczek) will adapt Legend, a forthcoming novel by Marie Lu. Jonathan Levine (The Wackness) is on board to direct the project, which CBS Films hopes will be a major young-adult franchise. Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey (Twilight) will produce.
Vince DiMeglio and Tim Rasmussen (UTA, Mosaic, McKuin Frankel) have sold a romantic comedy pitch to Disney called The Girlfriend Equation. Based on a This American Life story about an MIT student who attempted to identify and woo a mate through math, the feature will be produced by Andrew Panay. Life host Ira Glass is executive producing.
Colin Hanks (CAA, Schiff Co., Bloom Hergott) has joined Paramount's My Mother's Curse, opposite Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand. Hanks will play the husband of Yvonne Strahovski, to whom Rogen once proposed. Anne Fletcher directs from a script by Dan Fogelman.
Bill Nighy (WME, the U.K.'s Markham Froggatt, Jackoway Tyerman) has joined Columbia's Total Recall remake starring Colin Farrell. Len Wiseman directs with Bryan Cranston as the villain and Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel as the female leads. Nighy will play Kuato, leader of the resistance.
Allison Janney (WME, Thruline) has joined How I Met Your Mother star and filmmaker Josh Radnor's relationship dramedy Liberal Arts, which co-stars Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen.
HBO has picked up On Freddie Roach, a boxing docuseries from Peter Berg (WME, Hirsch Wallerstein). Berg will direct and produce alongside Jim Lampley, Sarah Aubrey and Michael Prince. The six-episode series will premiere next year.
Roseanne Barr (JKA Talent, 5 Boroughs Entertainment, Fox Law Group) is in talks to appear on NBC's midseason comedy Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea as Chelsea's (Laura Prepon) aunt.
Niko Nicotera (Rebel, NB Management) and Fernanda Andrade (Rebel, Genesis, Bloom Hergott) have joined FX's Sons of Anarchy as recurring characters for Season 4. Nicotera will play a SAMCRO prospect; Andrade will portray a sexy babysitter.
Edward James Olmos (CAA, Leonard Dicker) and Billy Brown (Talentworks, Benderspink) will appear in Season 6 of Showtime's Dexter. Olmos will play a professor of religious studies, and Brown will join Michael C. Hall at Miami Metro as a homicide detective.
Christoph Sanders (Abrams Artists Agency, Strong Management) has been upped from guest star to regular on ABC's upcoming Tim Allen comedy Last Man Standing. He plays Kenny, a colleague of Allen's Marc and potential love interest for two of his daughters.
Martin Short (WME, Brillstein) and Aidan Quinn (Paradigm, Framework, Schreck Rose) have signed for arcs on Season 7 of Showtime's Weeds. Short will play an attorney, with Quinn an investment-firm CEO.
Former American Idol judge Kara DioGuardi (Arthouse Entertainment) is developing a songwriter docuseries for Bravo, where she stars on Platinum Hit. Kara will be produced by World of Wonder, with DioGuardi and Stephen Finfer executive producing for Arthouse.
Retired tennis star Anna Kournikova (UTA, AKSeven, Ziffren Brittenham) will replace Jillian Michaels as the celebrity trainer on NBC's The Biggest Loser.
Parks and Recreation writer Norm Hiscock (CAA) has received a pilot order from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. for the single-camera comedy Great Scott, which revolves around the owners of a popular Canadian brewery.
HBO and Summit Entertainment inked a five-year output deal that will bring the mini-major's films to the pay cabler beginning in January 2013. Summit's deal had been with Showtime.
Bug Music has signed an exclusive deal with Sugar Hill Records to administer its two publishing companies. The pact gives Bug worldwide rights to a 600-title library that encompasses country, Americana and bluegrass.
James Cameron is moving his Lightstorm Entertainment to MBS Media Campus, formerly known as Manhattan Beach Studios. Lightstorm has signed a five-year lease to occupy 115,000 square feet of soundstage and production office space during production of the two Avatar sequels.