7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line sthis week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Seacrest Plots Growth Spurt With Executive Hires: Ryan Seacrest is on the move again. The American Idol multihyphenate's production house is adding a small army of executives, including Nina Wass as executive vp scripted programming, Joseph Ferraro as vp development working primarily on unscripted projects and Heather Schuster as senior vp development. Additionally, Ryan Seacrest Productions has forged deals with Original Productions producer-editor Eric Lange and actor-producer brothers Dan and Ben Newmark, who had an overall deal with FremantleMedia.
The push comes in the wake of a January 2011 infusion by Thomas H. Lee and Bain Capital of as much as $300 million to help Seacrest and his company pursue new opportunities, as well as a minority investment by Clear Channel. "We're investing in talent across the company," notes RSP CEO Adam Sher. "Unscripted programming will still dominate our development slate; however, scripted programming is an exciting part of our growth strategy."
Wass will be tasked with building RSP's slate, which already includes a romantic comedy with Reese Witherspoon's Type A Films and Universal and comedy and drama projects for Lifetime, TV Land and Showtime. On the unscripted front, RSP wants to add to its success with the Kardashian franchise as well as Married to Jonas for E!, Shahs of Sunset for Bravo, The Nanny Diaries for ABC Family and the game show Draw Something in development at CBS.
Ferraro, most recently vp programming at OWN, and Schuster, formerly at Shine/Reveille, will join Gordon Cassidy, upped to vp current programming. Noah Oppenheim, formerly at Reveille and NBC's Today, has joined as a consultant to develop shows. Sources say RSP has fallen out of the running to buy Dick Clark Productions, though Seacrest and Sher declined comment.
As RSP expands, Seacrest, 37, will host Idol for at least two more seasons and keep his Clear Channel radio show, and his new deal with Comcast saw him join NBC's Olympics coverage. Says Seacrest, "Our goal at RSP is to have a balanced slate of reality and scripted shows across major broadcast and cable networks." -- Marisa Guthrie
Ta Da! Hallmark Is Latest Cable Rebrand
The Hallmark Channel is refreshing its image as it grows beyond the movie-of-the-week genre. On Oct. 1, the Crown Media network will bow a revised tagline -- "The Heart of TV" -- meant to capture the resonance of its past and reposition it in a crowded cable landscape. Crown exec vp marketing and creative services Susanne McAvoy says Hallmark spent 18 months studying what it does best: programming that offers a big emotional hook. "We feel like it sums up what we've done all these years and where we're going; it's simple, intuitive," she says. "It's been right there all along." (Hallmark also will keep its 100-plus-year-old crown.) The network will use the tagline and a colorful palette to promote everything from its upcoming Marie Osmond daytime talker and Andie MacDowell primetime series to I Love Lucy repeats, using what McAvoy dubs "emotional sparks" like "determined" and "sunny." -- Lesley Goldberg
New Marvel Director Brings the Funny
Want to direct films for Marvel? A background in comedy will help. Fresh from the $1.48 billion-grossing The Avengers, the studio has chosen James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy, its superhero space movie. Gunn, who directed the comedy-tinged Slither and Super, has never shepherded a big-budget film, but the Disney studio has had success with tentpole newbies. Jon Favreau was coming off the comedy Elf and the kids fantasy Zathura when he was picked for 2008's Iron Man. Avengers director Joss Whedon was known as a tongue-in-cheek showrunner (Buffy, Angel). And Joe and Anthony Russo, who directed You, Me and Dupree and executive produced NBC's Community, will helm a Captain America sequel. Insiders say Marvel wants to replicate the way Avengers balanced a wisecracking tone with superhero danger. One advantage: Gunn and Whedon are said to be close friends. -- Borys Kit
The Hangover's Todd Phillips (CAA, Sloane Offer) is in talks to direct his first drama, a remake of 1974's The Gambler for Paramount.
Jake Gyllenhaal (WME, Bloom Hergott) will produce and is in talks to star in Mississippi Grind, a gambling-set film from Half Nelson writer-directors Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden.
Wentworth Miller (ICM, Gotham Group, Sloane Offer) is in talks to star in Universal's adaptation of the novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, produced by Playtone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman and Harpo's Oprah Winfrey and Kate Forte.
Carey Mulligan (CAA, Julian Belfrage, Ziffren Brittenham) will star in Nancy and Danny, a thriller being developed by Indian Paintbrush. James Marsh (Man on Wire) will direct from a script by Brad Ingelsby (The Raid).
Taken's Pierre Morel (CAA, Sentient, Hansen Jacobson) is in talks to direct The Hitman's Bodyguard from David Ellison's Skydance Productions.
Winona Ryder (Gersh, Hirsch Wallerstein) is in negotiations to join Jason Statham and James Franco in Homefront, Millennium's action movie written by Sylvester Stallone.
Bradley Cooper (CAA) is in negotiations to star in the J. Blakeson-helmed crime thriller Bad Blood and Trouble at Media Rights Capital.
Zoe Saldana (ICM) will star as iconic jazz singer Nina Simone and David Oyelowo (ICM, Inphenate, Hamilton Hodell) will star as her manager, Clifton Henderson, in Nina, written and directed by Cynthia Mort.
Ken Watanabe (WME, ROAR) will play the Clint Eastwood role in a Japanese remake of best picture Oscar winner Unforgiven to be made by Warner Bros.
Disney has extended its deal with Mandeville Films, the Muppets shingle run by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman, for three more years through 2015.
Parenthood actress Joy Bryant (Killer Moxie, Schreck Rose) is in talks to star in Screen Gems' remake of About Last Night.
Michael J. Fox (UTA) will star in an NBC comedy for fall 2013 about a father dealing with challenges that include Parkinson's disease. Sam Laybourne (Cougar Town) will write and Will Gluck (Easy A) will executive produce and direct for Sony Pictures Television.
Parenthood's Jason Katims (CAA, Schreck Rose) and Sarah Watson (UTA, Hansen Jacobson) will develop a romantic dramedy set in a Chicago law firm for Fox.
Jason Richman (WME, Fuel, Sloane Offer) and David Zabel (WME, Oasis, Hansen Jacobson) are developing Finn & Sawyer, a drama based on the Mark Twain classic, for ABC.
Greg Berlanti (WME, Felker Toczek) and Supernatural's Sera Gamble (UTA, McKuin Frankel) have sold an untitled medical drama to ABC that centers on a neurosurgeon who must re-specialize as an intern after a traumatic brain injury.
Whoopi Goldberg (WME) and Oxygen's Glee Project winners Samuel Larsen (SDB Partners) and Alex Newell (CESD) will return for recurring roles on the fourth season of Fox's Glee. … Blake Jenner (Dino May, Stone Meyer), the second-season Glee Project winner, earned a seven-episode arc on Glee.
Political Animals patriarch Ciaran Hinds (CAA) has joined HBO's Game of Thrones, playing the "king beyond the wall."
Majandra Delfino (APA, Ziffren Brittenham) will play Rainn Wilson's sister and Blake Garrett (De Long) his nephew in an episode of NBC's The Office that could serve as a back-door pilot for spinoff series The Farm. Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston (UTA) will direct an episode of the series this season.
The Big C's John Benjamin Hickey (Paradigm, Schiff) will recur on Fox's freshman drama The Mob Doctor, playing the father of Zach Gilford's character.
No Strings Attached's Ben Lawson (WME, Untitled, Felker Toczek) will recur as Krysten Ritter's boyfriend on ABC's Don't Trust the B-- in Apt. 23.
Lucy Lawless (Valeo) will romance Nick Offerman in a multiepisode arc on NBC's Parks and Recreation.
Malcolm McDowell (Markham Froggatt, CR Management) will appear on NBC's Community as a history professor.
Rachel Dratch (Paradigm) will reunite with her former Saturday Night Live co-star Maya Rudolph in an episode of NBC's Up All Night.
Wilfred's Chris Klein (ICM, Brillstein, Sloane Offer) will guest star on Fox's Raising Hope as the "almost" long-lost brother of Lucas Neff.
Matt Lopez (ICM, Lichter Grossman), who wrote the film Race to Witch Mountain, has the supernatural drama Gothica in development at ABC.
Perception co-creator Ken Biller (CAA) and The Mark Gordon Co. have sold family drama The Outsiders to ABC.
Kelly Rowland (Collective) will star as an L.A. blogger in the BET comedy pilot What Would Dylan Do.
ABC Family has renewed the drama Switched at Birth and the comedy Baby Daddy for second seasons and Melissa & Joey for a third. It also has ordered additional episodes of freshman drama Bunheads. … TNT has renewed the Eric McCormack drama Perception for a second season. … AMC has renewed advertising reality show The Pitch for a second season and ordered unscripted series Venice Beach Freakshow and an untitled taxidermy series. … Sundance Channel is bringing back reality series Push Girls for a second season. … TruTV has ordered Hardcore Pawn: Chicago.
Caroline Manzo (APA, Kraditor & Haber) of The Real Housewives of New Jersey has inked a deal with HarperCollins' It Books imprint to write a book about family and long-term happiness to be published in March.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and the Michael Jackson estate, will take over worldwide administration of Jackson's Mijac Music Catalog, which has been handled by Warner/Chappell since its inception in 1980.
Peter Thiel, one of Facebook's early investors and a company director, has sold 20 million shares for $396 million, leaving him with 5.6 million shares.
Popular web video show What's Trending is shifting from a weekly to a daily format.
Care Bears owner Cookie Jar Entertainment will be acquired by rival kids producer DHX Media as part of a deal valued at $112 million.
The Venice compound of the late Dennis Hopper has sold for $5 million. The property includes an industrial-inspired main house of about 5,000 square feet and three two-story condominiums.
Rose McGowan, best known for starring on Charmed and her breakout role in Scream, has signed with APA.
Ricky Schroder, star of Silver Spoons, Lonesome Dove and NYPD Blue, has signed with UTA.
Gold Coast Studios, a full-service studio based in New York, has signed with ICM Partners.
Julie Alexandria, who recently was hired as the lead sideline reporter for Fox's national college football game of the week, has signed with UTA.
Colin Cunningham, who co-stars as Pope on TNT's Falling Skies, has signed with CESD.
THE NEXT BIG THING: Chris O'Dowd
Reps: UTA, Gordon and French, 3 Arts. Why He Matters: After key supporting roles in Bridesmaids and Judd Apatow's upcoming This Is 40, the British TV veteran, 32, snagged the lead as a sad sack who explores his heritage on Christopher Guest's HBO series Family Tree.
The Big Number: $16.4 million
Soccer star David Beckham's 2011 earnings from endorsements alone, according to the U.K.'s Sun newspaper, on top of his $3.1 million salary from the L.A. Galaxy.