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DEAL OF THE WEEK: Gossip Girl Team Heads Back in Time: The producing team behind the hit CW series Gossip Girl is taking on another best-selling young-adult novel — and this one is bound for the big screen. Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage of the Paramount-based Fake Empire shingle and Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy have set up The Luxe at Paramount and tapped Bess Wohl to pen the screenplay.
A sort of The Age of Innocence meets Gossip Girl, Luxe tracks four teens in 19th century New York and features conflicts between old money and new money, the upper class and lower class, and star-crossed lovers. Four books by Anna Godbersen have been published, all hitting The New York Times‘ best-seller list.
The producers see the movie as a young Moulin Rouge, a music-driven story featuring contemporary artists and fashion set against a period backdrop.
Fake Empire has been active lately. On the TV side, in addition to Gossip and the NBC series Chuck, the company will launch Hart of Dixie on the CW in the fall. It is also in production on Fun Size, a teen Halloween comedy starring Victoria Justice that was written by The Colbert Report scribe Max Werner and will serve as Schwartz’s feature directing debut. The company also is producing an adaptation of Joe Schreiber‘s Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick and Let It Snow, based on a YA novel.
Alloy, a producer on The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, is developing Sweep at Universal and Duplikate at Fox 2000. The Robot, an Alloy book due out this month, is being developed internally as a film project. — Borys Kit
Solitary Man filmmakers Brian Koppelman and David Levien (CAA, 3 Arts, Jackoway Tyerman) have been tapped to rewrite and direct The Game, MGM’s adaptation of the best-selling Neil Strauss book about wooing women. Part memoir, part how-to guide, Game details Strauss’ efforts to become a successful pickup artist. It had been in development at several other studios.
Thor actor Ray Stevenson (WME, the U.K.’s Conway Van Gelder Grant, Jackoway Tyerman) has been cast as the villain Firefly in Paramount’s G.I. Joe 2: Cobra Strikes, to be directed by Jon M. Chu. Stevenson will appear opposite Channing Tatum and Dwayne Johnson in the summer 2012 film, which is being produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura.
Liddell Entertainment and Roadside Attractions have acquired all U.S. rights to Albert Nobbs, which stars Glenn Close (CAA, Loeb & Loeb) as a woman passing for a man in 19th century Dublin. The companies plan a fall release.
Keri Russell (WME, Burstein, Sloane Offer), J.J. Feild (ICM, the U.K.’s Ken McReddie) and Bret McKenzie (CAA) will star in Austenland, an indie romantic comedy that marks the directorial debut of Jerusha Hess (UTA, Sloane Offer), who co-wrote Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre with her husband, helmer Jared Hess.
Rodrigo Santoro (ICM, the U.K.’s Ken McReddie, Brillstein) will play Jennifer Lopez’s husband in What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Lionsgate’s adaptation of the pregnancy guidebook. Cameron Diaz, Anna Kendrick, Brooklyn Decker and Elizabeth Banks co-star.
Abigail Spencer (ICM, Untitled) has been cast in Disney’s Oz: The Great and Powerful, the prequel-ish take on The Wizard of Oz being directed by Sam Raimi. Spencer joins James Franco as Oz and Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams as powerful witches. Spencer will play a willing subject of Oz’s magic tricks.
Warner Bros. has picked up Undying Love, a vampire comic book miniseries published by Image Comics. Stephen L’Heureux and Benderspink are producing. Created by Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman, Love mixes traditional vampire lore with Chinese monster myths and the Hong Kong action genre.
Actor-producer Seth Rogen (UTA, Principal, Felker Toczek), producer Evan Goldberg (UTA, Felker Toczek), director Jonathan Levine (CAA, Ragna Nervik, Weissmann Wolff) and Will Reiser (UTA, Thruline, Lichter Grossman), the team behind the upcoming cancer comedy 50/50, are developing Jamaica, based on a vacation Reiser took with his grandmother when he was 14.
Bridesmaids breakout Melissa McCarthy (CAA, Schiff) and Super 8‘s Ryan Lee (Atherton Group Talent, Principato-Young, Felker Toczek) are joining the cast of Judd Apatow’s next comedy for Universal.
Space Invaders, the classic 1980s video game from Taito and Midway, is heading to the big screen courtesy of producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Odd Lot Entertainment’s Gigi Pritzker, who have optioned the rights and are looking
for a screenwriter.
James Spader (ICM, Ziffren Brittenham) has joined the cast of NBC’s The Office as the new CEO of Dunder Mifflin parent Sabre. Spader will replace Kathy Bates, who stars on another NBC series, Harry’s Law.
ABC News has hired abduction survivor Elizabeth Smart as a contributor. She will comment on missing persons cases.
Lone Star lead James Wolk (WME, Greenlight, Frankfurt Kurnit) has landed a multiepisode arc on season two of Showtime’s Shameless.
Animator Jason Ruiz (UTA, Levity, Ziffren Brittenham) has signed a one-year overall deal with 20th Television and will develop Murder Police for Fox.
Lamorne Morris (Global Artists Agency, Odenkirk Provissiero) has replaced Damon Wayans Jr. in Fox’s fall comedy The New Girl. Wayans stars on ABC’s Happy Endings, which was renewed.
Stephanie March (Gersh, One Entertainment, Hansen Jacobson) and Diane Neal (Gersh, Brillstein) are returning to NBC’s Law & Order: SVU for the crime procedural’s 13th season. Mariska Hargitay is set to return, and former Cold Case co-star Danny Pino and Chase actress Kelli Giddish are joining the cast as detectives.
Michael B. Jordan (UTA, Schiff, Bloom Hergott) will return to NBC’s Parenthood in a recurring role for the drama’s third season. Former Parenthood guest star Jason Ritter also will reprise his role.
TNT has renewed Falling Skies for a second season. The Noah Wyle-starring sci-fi drama debuted to 5.9 million total viewers, cable’s top series launch this year. TNT also has ordered 10 episodes of a Dallas reboot starring Jesse Metcalfe, Jordana Brewster and Brenda Strong alongside Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing.
Spike TV has picked up a pilot script revolving around the NYPD bomb squad. It is being developed by Christian Darren (APA, the Collective, Stone Meyer) and ABC News producer Richard Esposito, who penned a 2007 book about the New York Police Department’s bomb squad with co-author Ted Gerstein.
Universal Music Publishing Group will administer Diane Warren‘s Realsongs catalog outside of North America. The Grammy-winning songwriter will also serve as a global A&R consultant for UMG while continuing to self-administer her copyrights in the U.S. She was represented in the deal by manager Merck Mercuriadis.
The Sunset Media Tower, a 22-story office building at 6255 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood that is home to several entertainment and media companies, is being sold by an investor group to Kilroy Realty Corp. for about $76.5 million. The property is home to TV production company Magical Elves (Bravo’s Top Chef) and Nielsen Media Research, among others. Brokers Carl Muhlstein of Cushman & Wakefield and Stephen Algermissen of Colliers International have the listing.
Neve Campbell, best known for Fox’s Party of Five and the Scream film franchise, has signed with UTA. … Lorraine Nicholson, a recent star of TriStar’s Soul Surfer and Jack Nicholson’s daughter, has signed with ICM. … Jonathan Kite, appearing this fall on CBS’ 2 Broke Girls, has signed with CAA. … Ben Rosenfield, who starred opposite Carey Mulligan off-Broadway in Through a Glass Darkly, has signed with WME. … Ken and Mary Hanes, the writing duo behind USA’s Eden pilot, have signed with UTA.
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