7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Why Breaking Bad Will End With 16 Episodes: After weeks spent squabbling over deal terms, AMC and producer Sony Pictures Television reached an agreement Aug. 14 to keep critically acclaimed drama Breaking Bad on the cable network for a final batch of 16 episodes. Those close to the deal say that 16 was a hard-fought compromise. Sources say Sony wanted 20 episodes broken into two seasons of 10, but AMC said it could only afford to order one season of six. The AMC proposal to air a truncated fifth season was considered a nonstarter by Sony, which quickly put feelers out to other networks about picking up the show. To be sure, AMC lost leverage when news surfaced that Sony was shopping the series. "You get to the eleventh hour and the realization that [Sony] did have viable alternatives. [AMC] took that seriously," says one source close to the deal. Another likely contributor, adds the source, is negative fallout experienced by the cable network following the firing of The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont in July. AMC hardly needed more bad press, especially considering that the show, coming off Emmy wins in September for stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, is averaging 4.3 million viewers an episode in its fourth season, nearly double what AMC's Mad Men delivers. It's also up 28 percent in total viewers and 45 percent in the coveted 18-to-34 demo compared with last season. The final arrangement is said to be acceptable to showrunner Vince Gilligan (ICM, Del Shaw) and AMC chief Charlie Collier, and, importantly, it will satisfy Sony's international output deals. The next big decision pertains to Breaking Bad's scheduling: Gilligan's camp is said to want to air the final collection as a "super season" beginning next summer, but multiple sources suggest AMC will break it into two short seasons. -- Kim Masters and Lacey Rose
Weinsteins Seeking Bank Deal
Weinstein Co. executives have been quietly meeting with bankers -- but not to seek additional funding. With cash in its coffers from the $427 million worldwide gross of The King's Speech and a $50 million credit line with Goldman Sachs that is part of its financial restructuring, TWC instead is on the hunt for ways to monetize advance contracts for movie sales around the world more efficiently. Weinstein is exploring whether to bundle the financing of several movies with one bank in return for slightly lower interest rates. So far there have been discussions with Union Bank and Comerica but no deal. At the same time, Bob and Harvey Weinstein and company have been looking to ramp up activity on Broadway, combing their library for properties that could find new life onstage. Already under consideration are Chocolat, Cinema Paradiso and even some non-movie-based ideas. "We've always been active in theater," says Weinstein COO David Glasser. "Now we're moving into original productions as well." -- Alex Ben Block
The Secret Smurfs 2 Script
When Sony said Aug. 9 that it will release a sequel to its hit The Smurfs on Aug. 2, 2013, the studio declined to reveal who will write or direct. But THR has learned that the studio already has a script. Months before Smurfs opened July 29 to a surprising $35 million, the studio went to the writers of the first movie to begin secret work on a sequel. J. David Stem and David N. Weiss (WME, Kleinberg Lopez) and Jay Scherick and David Ronn (ICM, Sloane Offer) hammered out a story, then Stem and Weiss started writing. The early gamble owed to the lead time required by live-action/CG hybrids. The script was finished in late July, giving Sony confidence to announce a release date two years in advance. -- Borys Kit
Bruce Willis (CAA, Ziffren Brittenham) is in talks to join Paramount's G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation as General Joe Colton, the man who first earns the handle G.I. Joe. Jon M. Chu (Fast Five) is directing the Lorenzo di Bonaventura-produced action pic.
The Killing star Mireille Enos (Innovative, Authentic, Stone Meyer) and Sullivan Stapleton (WME, Australia's Shanahan Management), who stars in Cinemax's Strike Back, are in talks to join Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in Gangster Squad, the period crime movie being made by Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow. Ruben Fleischer is directing.
Stephanie Szostak (UTA, Principal, Hansen Jacobson) is in talks to play the female lead opposite Ryan Reynolds in Universal's supernatural action movie R.I.P.D. Robert Schwentke is directing.
Relativity Media has launched a partnership with China's Huaxia Film and SkyLand Film-Television to handle distribution and production of films in China and the U.S.
Dermot Mulroney (ICM, Jackoway Tyerman) has joined Stoker, the Fox Searchlight thriller written by Prison Break star Wentworth Miller. Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode are in the ensemble cast. Chan-wook Park is directing.
Mark Wahlberg (WME, Leverage, Sloane Offer) is negotiating to star in Universal's adaptation of 2 Guns, a Boom! Studios comic book. Director David O. Russell and actor Vince Vaughn have dropped out of the project.
Miles Chapman (Paradigm, Gotham Group) will pen Summit's adaptation of Homelanders, a young-adult book series by Andrew Klavan. Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (CAA, Gendler & Kelly), former showrunners of the CW's Smallville, are in talks to direct.
Robert Schwentke (CAA, Appian Way, Jackoway Tyerman) will direct the Nazi-era drama The Poison Kitchen, based on a chapter of the best-selling book Explaining Hitler. Matthew Sand (Circle of Confusion, Gang Tyre) is writing.
Roseanne Barr (JKA Talent, 5 Boroughs, Fox Law Group) is prepping a return to scripted comedy with Downwardly Mobile, set up at 20th Century Fox Television. Barr's longtime boyfriend, Johnny Argent, is attached to co-star, with Steven Greener as executive producer.
Julianne Moore (CAA, Management 360, Edelstein Laird) is in talks to star in HBO's Dope, a 1950s-set drama based on a novel by Sara Gran (RWSG Literary Agency) about a woman who becomes a private eye after suffering from a heroin addiction. Mildred Pierce executive producer Todd Haynes would direct the miniseries, executive produced by John Wells and Christine Vachon. Gran penned the script.
Comedy Central has ordered 10 episodes of Brickleberry, an animated series from Tosh.0's Daniel Tosh (WME, Mosaic, Ziffren Brittenham) and comedians Waco O'Guin and Roger Black.
Curb Your Enthusiasm co-star Jeff Garlin (ICM, 3 Arts, Morris Yorn) has inked a script deal with ABC to write, executive produce and star in an untitled half-hour comedy to be co-written by Bruce McCulloch.
Bunim/Murray Productions is teaming with Henson Alternative for History Of, a pilot featuring the Henson puppets re-enacting key historical moments. Daily Show alum Chris Regan (CAA) will executive produce.
Brothers Andrew, Evan and Michael Gregory (WME, 3 Arts, Ziffren Brittenham), along with Evan's wife, Sarah, have inked a deal for a Comedy Central pilot, with Peyton Reed (WME, Sloane Offer) in talks to direct. The group is best known for its viral Antoine Dodson clip.
Spike TV has ordered 20 new episodes of Repo Games and picked up four new series, including Undercover Stings, produced by Cops father-son duo John and Morgan Langley.
How to Make It in America producer Julian Farino (WME, the U.K.'s Independent Talent Group, Leverage) has inked an overall deal with HBO, where he will work on Doug Ellin's comedy pilot, 40.
Bobby Cannavale (ICM, Framework, Schreck Rose) has booked an extended guest stint on Showtime's Nurse Jackie for its upcoming fourth season.
USA has ordered a second season of the legal drama Suits and picked up a fifth and final season of In Plain Sight.
TNT has renewed Rizzoli & Isles for a third season and Leverage for a fifth.
Alt-country troubadour Ryan Adams (S.A.M.) has signed with EMI's Capitol Records.
Google is spending $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility, making it a key mobile handset player and boosting both its Android mobile operating system and its struggling Google TV service.
Neal McDonough, who co-stars in Captain America: The First Avenger and appeared in Minority Report, has signed with Paradigm. … William Levy, who stars in the Spanish-language Univision telenovela Triunfo del Amor, has signed with WME. … Michael Genet, who wrote Focus' Talk to Me and co-wrote She Hate Me with Spike Lee, has signed with ICM. … Teen actor Jake Cherry, whose credits include The Sorcerer's Apprentice and both Night at the Museum films, has signed with UTA.