7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Netflix Goes Abroad for Original Fare: To all Netflix users: Get ready for Norwegian gangsters and Roman degenerates. Even as it was divorcing itself from Qwikster, Netflix was throwing its weight around at MIPCOM, the just-concluded international television market, returning home from Cannes with bags stuffed with foreign-made series. They include Lilyhammer, a bilingual gangster drama starring The Sopranos alumnus Steven Van Zandt as an ex-mobster sent to Norway via the witness protection program, and the French-German co-production Borgia, a historical drama created by Tom Fontana (Oz) and starring John Doman (The Wire) that is centered, like Showtime's The Borgias, on medieval Rome's most nefarious family.
Both will be exclusive Netflix premieres in the U.S., and Netflix already has committed to a second season of each. Together with House of Cards, its upcoming remake of the BBC drama that will star Kevin Spacey and be directed by David Fincher, they mark the company's push into first-run drama series.
"Netflix can go after nonexclusive content, which is more of a commodity, or they can try to pursue exclusives and originals, which bring a higher risk," says Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible of the rationale for betting on original fare. "The problem is there is no more exclusive content to be had. They have to make the exclusive content" -- or find it overseas.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, speaking at MIPCOM, said the company's shift to originals is in part a reaction to customer demand because TV shows account for 50 to 60 percent of viewing on the service. "The growing audience for these one-hour serialized dramas is typically on pay TV: Showtime, HBO or Starz -- those ones who are least likely to want to sell their shows to me on our [second-run] season-after model," said Sarandos. "So we have to develop the muscle to create and distribute these shows ourselves."
But will U.S. audiences go for unknown foreign fare?
"Netflix needs content, period," explains Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter. "I can't say that two shows will make a meaningful difference, especially U.S. rights to foreign shows, but they probably didn't spend much on them." Sarandos admits that the programming is an experiment to gauge user interest and that the cost is "very small relative to our content spend." He added: "Lilyhammer is a great example of a show that would be very difficult to break into the U.S. market because of the preconceived [notions] of buyers. And I think it is going to be very successful. … It's been proven that selling Hollywood to the world is a big business. But I think [selling] the world to the world is an even bigger business." -- Scott Roxborough and Georg Szalai
A Reunion with Roseanne
This is where Roseanne came from," says an enthusiastic Eric Gilliland (WME), by phone from his New York home. The exec producer of Roseanne Barr's titular 1990s sitcom -- and her new NBC project, Downwardly Mobile -- is referring to a trailer park, the setting of their 20th TV-produced comedy. Barr, who is producing and starring, reached out to Gilliland about a month ago with her idea for a series about a blue-collar family and the characters that surround it in a mobile-home community, and they quickly agreed that the lower-middle-class voice is missing on broadcast television. "There's nothing on that's addressing what's actually going on in America right now, like joblessness or foreclosures," says Gilliland, noting that ABC's Roseanne premiered during the country's previous major recession. The new project is a long time coming: The night before the final taping of Roseanne in 1997, Gilliland recalls sitting in Barr's trailer as she shared stories of her trailer-park upbringing. Now, the duo is drawing on stories and characters from her past to fill out the show, as well as taking a field trip to the Colorado trailer park where she once lived. Says Gilliland, "We're going so that she can remember it and I can have a sense of it, so that I'm not just writing caricatures." -- Lacey Rose
Hollywood Landmark For Sale
The historic Taft Building, located at the southeast corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, has been listed for sale by owner Langer/Meringoff Properties. The 1680 Vine St. building is expected to fetch as much as $30 million. The 12-story tower was built in 1923 and through the years has housed the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the offices of Charlie Chaplin and Will Rogers. The 119,046-square-foot property, about 80 percent occupied, is home to a handful of production companies; it is being marketed to buyers who would operate it as an entertainment office building. Kevin Shannon of CBRE Group has the listing. -- Daniel Miller
Illumination Entertainment and Infinitum Nihil are developing a live-action movie about the life of children's author and illustrator Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Geisel). Johnny Depp (UTA, Bloom Hergott) will produce the project with the potential to star as Seuss, and Universal will distribute. Keith Bunin (CAA, Kaplan/Perrone, Schreck Rose) has been hired to write the screenplay. (The Geisel estate is repped by ICM.)
Robert Zemeckis (CAA, Gang Tyre Ramer) and Dark Horse Comics have set up the supernatural feature Charles Fort at Universal, with Evan Spiliotopoulos (UTA, manager D.J. Talbot, Myman Greenspan) writing the script based on a Dark Horse comic.
Javier Bardem (WME) is in negotiations to voice a new villain in Despicable Me 2, the sequel to Universal and Illumination's 2010 hit.
Clint Eastwood (manager Leonard Hirshan, Gang Tyre Ramer) is in talks to star in Trouble With the Curve. His producing partner at Malpaso Productions, Robert Lorenz (attorney Keith Fleer), is in talks to direct the baseball drama, set up at Eastwood's longtime home of Warner Bros.
Billy Ray (CAA, Management 360, Lichter Grossman), the writer-director of Shattered Glass, has been tapped to write The Thin Man, an adaptation of the classic Dashiell Hammett novel. Depp is attached to star and Rob Marshall is attached to direct the project at Warners.
Vinessa Shaw (ICM, Thruline, Hansen Jacobson) will star in the indie film Siren, the directorial
debut of screenwriter Jesse Peyronel (Gersh, attorney Judith Karfiol). Siren is a dark fairy tale about a modern girl with a unique curse: Her scent makes her irresistible to all men.
Rodrigo Santoro (ICM, Brillstein Entertainment) has closed a deal to co-star with Arnold Schwarzenegger in Last Stand. The Lionsgate movie, directed by Kim Jee Woon and produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, begins shooting Oct. 20 in New Mexico.
Warner Bros. has acquired the action thriller spec The Envoy by Robert Lynn (UTA, Kaplan/Perrone, Idell & Seitel). Silver Pictures' Joel Silver and Andrew Rona are attached to produce.
Director Guy Ritchie (CAA, Anonymous Content, attorney Matthew H. Saver) and producer Lionel Wigram are teaming to form a yet-unnamed production company and finalizing a first-look deal with Warner Bros.
Gold Circle Films has purchased the original screenplay Sex on the First Date from rookie writers Sall Grover and Emma Jensen (WME, Magnet Management). David Brooks and Dan Clifton are producing.
Dominic Purcell (UTA, Untitled) has been cast as the angel Moloch, Satan's right-hand man, in Warner Bros.' Paradise Lost. Alex Proyas (I, Robot, The Crow) is directing the action fantasy film, which stars Bradley Cooper, Casey Affleck, Djimon Hounsou, Ben Walker, Camilla Belle and Callan McAuliffe as angels battling in heaven.
Ethan Peck (ICM, Milo Talent) and Mimi Gianopulos (ICM) are starring in The Wine of Summer, an indie drama from first-time director Maria Matteoli.
Paul Walker (UTA, Luber Roklin, Snell & Wilmer) has signed to star in Hours, a post-Hurricane Katrina thriller that is the directorial debut of screenwriter Eric Heisserer (UTA, Artwork Entertainment, Jackoway Tyerman).
Prolific producer Jerry Weintraub is venturing into series television, selling the Warner Bros. TV-based The Producer, a period piece set in the world of evening news, to CBS.
HBO Films is producing a Liberace biopic with Michael Douglas and Matt Damon set to star. Steven Soderbergh is directing a script by Richard LaGravenese (Water for Elephants). Production will begin in the summer in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
How I Met Your Mother co-exec producer Joe Kelly (UTA, Hansen Jacobson) has sold a half-hour buddy comedy to Fox. Sony Pictures Television landed the single-camera project, formerly known as Uncle A-Hole, after a bidding war.
Super Troopers duo Kevin Heffernan (APA, 3 Arts, Ginsburg Daniels) and Steve Lemme (UTA, 3 Arts, Ginsburg Daniels) have sold the comedy Kept Men to NBC. They will write, star in and executive produce the project from 3 Arts and Universal.
Glee's Ryan Murphy (CAA, Loeb & Loeb) and Allison Adler (WME) are shopping a half-hour comedy from 20th Century Fox TV.
Elizabeth Banks (UTA, Untitled, Ziffren Brittenham) and her author-producer husband, Max Handelman, have sold the single-camera comedy Dave's Dead to Fox. The project, from 20th Century Fox Television, is billed as Shaun of the Dead meets My Name Is Earl.
NBC's midseason musical drama Smash has booked Nick Jonas (CAA) and Bernadette Peters (WME) as guest stars.
Rosie Perez (ICM) will guest star as a patient when Showtime's Nurse Jackie returns next year for its fourth season.
James Marsden (WME, Brillstein Entertainment) has booked a six-episode guest arc on NBC's 30 Rock.
Lizzy Caplan (CAA, Mosaic, Jackoway Tyerman) has landed a three-episode arc on Fox rookie hit New Girl.
Keith Carradine (Innovative Artists, John Bauer Management, Weissmann Wolff) has booked the lead in the TNT pilot Gateway.
CBS has given a full-season order to the rookie comedy 2 Broke Girls.
Former Life Unexpected star Shiri Appleby (Gersh, John Carrabino) will star in and executive produce the Alloy web series Dating Rules From My Future Self.
Jamie Denbo, co-creator and star of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre show Ronna & Beverly, has signed with CAA. … Paul Oakenfold, the Grammy-nominated electronic artist and DJ, has signed with APA. … Modus FX, a Canadian visual effects company that worked on the upcoming Twilight sequel Breaking Dawn: Part 1, has signed with ICM. … Rosie Pope, star of Bravo's Pregnant in Heels, has signed with APA. … Maggie Bandur, supervising producer on NBC's Community, has signed with UTA. … Ross Patterson, who won the IFC Out of the Box Award at the New York Television Festival, has signed with management company Aperture Entertainment.