The Report: 7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who’s inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Tales From TCA: Cocktails and Kardashians — Week 1 of the Television Critics Association’s confab in Pasadena produced a fair amount of deal news. HBO picked up Lena Dunham’s Girls to series. The Sex and the City-esque comedy, executive produced by Judd Apatow, Jenni Kinner (Undeclared) and Dunham, will begin production this spring in New York. AMC revealed that its Emmy-winning Mad Men will be back for a fifth season, though no premiere date is set. Breaking Bad begins production on its fourth season Jan. 13 in Albuquerque, N.M. A&E has ordered a second season of Storage Wars, which averaged 2.3 million viewers in its first season. The net also has ordered five episodes of the Intervention spinoff Relapse. Both shows will bow during second quarter. Emeril Lagasse will join Hallmark Channel’s daytime lineup with a cooking show set to bow in the fourth quarter, produced by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Financial guru Suze Orman will join Oprah Winfrey’s OWN with Money Class, targeted for a fall bow, featuring Orman directing money makeovers. Lisa Ling also touted her OWN show, Our America. Science Channel has ordered eight episodes of Ridley Scott’s Prophets of Science Fiction, which looks at real-life discoveries inspired by such sci-fi writers as Isaac Asimov, from Scott, Tony Scott, Bernadette McDaid and Mary Lisio. !E announced the fourth spinoff of Keeping up With the Kardashians. Khloe & Lamar will document the youngest Kardashian sister’s marriage to Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom. And ABC announced two comedy pilots: ABC Studios’ Man Up, a single-camera sitcom about three best friends, is from Chris Moynihan, Ron West and Kelly Kulchak. Warner Bros.’ Smothered, about a couple and their overbearing parents, is from Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen. — Marisa Guthrie
A King's Ransom for Starz Media
Two clear signals were sent to Hollywood on Jan. 5 when the Weinstein Co. acquired 25 percent of Starz Media and pacted for home video distribution of new TWC movies with Starz subsidiary Anchor Bay (for an undisclosed sum). First, Bob and Harvey Weinstein are back in business for real after the June restructuring of TWC. Second, Starz owner Liberty Media is looking for partners to help pare its holdings and infuse cash into the company. The deal bolsters Anchor Bay; it can now boast hits including TWC’s The King’s Speech. But the deal doesn’t cover rights to TV shows or pay TV for movies (TWC has a pay TV deal with Showtime and agreements covering its 100-plus-title film library with Vivendi and Sony). — Alex Ben Block
Gareth Edwards (WME, the U.K.’s Curtis Brown Group), the British filmmaker who wrote and directed the indie sci-fi hit Monsters, is closing a deal to develop and direct a new version of the classic Godzilla for Legendary Pictures. Warner Bros. will co-produce, co-finance and distribute per its output deal with Legendary.
Fox 2000 has acquired film rights to Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi’s best-selling book The Monster of Florence, with George Clooney (CAA) attached to star. Christopher McQuarrie is writing the screenplay with his Valkyrie co-writer Nathan Alexander. Clooney and Grant Heslov are producing with Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen.
Gemma Arterton (Independent Talent Group) has landed the female lead opposite Jeremy Renner in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, a dark action pic that follows the fairy-tale siblings years after the traumatic childhood incident has turned them into bounty hunters. The pair will play the titular siblings. Paramount is on the cusp of triggering production on the Gary Sanchez Prods. project.
John Goodman (Gersh, Frankfurt Kurnit) has joined the cast of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Stephen Daldry’s adaptation of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel. Scott Rudin is producing the Warner Bros./Paramount co-production, which stars Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks.
McG (WME, Management 360, Sloane Offer) is in negotiations to direct Ouija for Universal. The studio’s planned adaptation of the classic Hasbro board game about conjuring up spirits of the dead has a script by Tron: Legacy writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz and is being produced by Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes.
Director Scott Derrickson is taking on Goliath, a new version of the biblical tale of David vs. Goliath from Relativity Media. Ryan Kavanaugh of Relativity and Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen of Temple Hill are producing what will be a period action film with contemporary sensibilities. Derrickson (WME, Brillstein Entertainment, Jackoway Tyerman) helmed the supernatural thriller The Exorcism of Emily Rose.
Warner Bros. has taken over international theatrical rights to Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit from MGM, as well as video rights. In exchange, the Lion gets the loan money it needs to finance its portion of the ambitious $500 million two-picture adaptation of the J.R.R. Tolkien novel. Warners/New Line already owned domestic rights to the Hobbit adaptation, so it will now be able to collect a worldwide distribution fee.
John Michael Higgins (UTA, Magnolia Entertainment, Sloane Offer) has joined the cast of Fox’s We Bought a Zoo, opposite Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, for director Cameron Crowe.
UFC fighter Randy Couture (Gersh) has signed to co-star in Set Up, a heist adventure starring Bruce Willis and Ryan Phillippe. The movie, whose cast also includes Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and Jenna Dewan Tatum, revolves around small-time crooks. It is shooting in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Nick Meyer and Marc Schaberg’s Sierra Pictures has expanded its foreign sales footprint by joining with Affinity International. The new entity, Sierra/Affinity, will represent third-party product and be exclusive sales agent for films from OddLot Entertainment, Bold Films, Sierra and Sierra partner Incentive Filmed Entertainment. Meyer will be CEO; Schaberg, COO and CFO. Affinity was launched by OddLot and Bold.
ABC is developing an eight-hour miniseries adaptation of Wicked with Salma Hayek. Hayek (CAA, Management 360) and partner Jose Tamez will produce with ABC Studios via their Ventanarosa Prods. The project, based on the book that gave rise to the hit Broadway musical, is in the early stages of development. It’s unclear whether Hayek will appear in Wicked, which sources said will not be a musical.
German TV giant RTL, owned by Bertelsmann, has won the bidding war for German rights to the hot format Undercover Boss. CBS’ version, produced by Stephen Lambert’s Studio Lambert, was a massive hit in its first season, averaging a 5.6 rating among adults 18-49.
The Hollywood Reporter has struck a deal with Sony Pictures Entertainment to provide content for Sony Movie Channel, a multiplatform television network. As part of the deal, THR is providing videos, various articles and reviews to sonymoviechannel.com.
Walmart’s VOD service Vudu began streaming 3D content to consumers Jan. 5. Titles available include Disney’s Meet the Robinsons, Bolt and Chicken Little. The movies can be streamed to certain 3D-capable television sets.
Millennium Entertainment, an independent film and television acquisition and distribution company, has moved into 14,707 square feet of headquarters space at 5900 Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles after inking a five-year lease with landlord Ratkovich Co. The deal is valued at $4.15 million. Jeff Pion and Deron White of CB Richard Ellis Group represented Ratkovich, and Michael Freiberg represented Millennium.
Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi (Neon Entertainment, Hirsch Wallerstein) has hired New York firm SRG Ventures to manage the rollout of licensed Snooki products, from big sunglasses to jewelry. One early deal is with Happy Feet, the company that makes the fuzzy slippers Polizzi wears on the MTV show.
Aisha Tyler, whose credits include Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Nip/Tuck, has signed with UTA. … Snoop Dogg has signed with WME for music representation. … Constance Zimmer, who has recurred on Entourage and will star on NBC’s Love Bites, has signed with UTA. … Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones, who co-wrote Breaking Upwards and Lola Versus, have signed with WME. … Tony Award winner Walter Bobbie, whose Broadway directing credits include Chicago, has signed with ICM.