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DEAL OF THE WEEK: Glee Duo Previews Horror Story: With the Glee controversy still generating headlines (for those keeping score, Fox’s Kevin Reilly now says he will “revisit” the idea of a spinoff this season), Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk‘s other hot show came into focus Aug. 6 at the Television Critics Association tour in Beverly Hills. FX’s “psychosexual” drama American Horror Story is a potential “breakthrough,” according to network topper John Landgraf, and could do for the horror genre what Glee has done for the musical.
Landgraf, Murphy and Falchuk reassured critics still rankled over The Killing‘s lack of results that the drama, a metaphor for marriage, will explain why leads Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton continue to stay in a house that is haunted despite eerie happenings. The pilot, which will air Oct. 5 as a 90-minute special, sets up what Murphy estimates as eight cliffhangers. “We felt like we had an obligation to the audience to answer questions, and in the next two scripts we’ll start doing that,” he said. “By the third episode, all those big mysteries are settled. We do know where it’s going; we do know what that great last episode is.” To help execute the series, Murphy (CAA, Loeb & Loeb) and Falchuk (WME, Gendler & Kelly) have brought on writer-producers Tim Minear (WME, Schuman Co., Jackoway Tyerman), Jennifer Salt (WME, Mosaic, Jackoway Tyerman), James Wong (WME, Nelson Davis) and Jessica Sharzer (CAA, Anonymous, Lichter Grossman) and signed Planet of the Apes co-star Jamie Harris (Innovative, Rough Diamond) to recur as a sociopath killer.
Falchuk said he and Murphy conceived AHS before Glee and that they’re both “obsessed with the horror genre,” noting that the series, co-starring Jessica Lange, is an homage to films like The Shining and Don’t Look Now. — Lesley Goldberg
Hollywood Tower Trading Hands
The entertainment office building at 6922 Hollywood Blvd. is selling for about $92 million in one of the biggest Hollywood real estate deals in several years. The tower is being sold by real estate investor CIM Group to Hudson Pacific Properties, which owns Sunset Gower Studios. The deal for the 205,522-square-foot building, formerly the TV Guide Center, is in escrow and is slated to close in September. The tower, home to movie-trailer firm Trailer Park, is across from Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. It is selling for about $448 per square foot, a higher rate than other recent entertainment office sales in L.A. The buyer was repped by Bob Safai of Madison Partners, the seller by Carl Muhlstein of Cushman & Wakefield and Sean Sullivan of Eastdil Secured. — Daniel Miller
Seven-Figure Book Deal for Bravo’s Cohen
Andy Cohen has a lot of jobs. Now the Bravo executive vp and Watch What Happens: Live! host can add author to his résumé. Cohen (CAA) will receive a low-seven-figure advance for his untitled memoir to be published by Henry Holt in summer 2012. Such a large advance signals a big bet by Holt that Cohen can go from niche cable star to mainstream hit with the memoir, likely to be one of next summer’s most heavily promoted titles. Cohen’s book will trace his life from a closeted gay teen growing up in the suburbs of St. Louis during the 1970s and ’80s to his career as a producer on CBS This Morning and 48 Hours to his current role as a programming exec at Bravo. Cohen also will tell how such pop culture classics as The Brady Bunch and Donny & Marie inspired his career and helped him navigate his life. A source familiar with the negotiations says Holt believes the book will find an audience with “housewives who think Andy is their gay best friend.” — Andy Lewis
Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston (UTA) will join Paramount’s World War Z, a Marc Forster-directed thriller starring Brad Pitt. The role is said to be small but flashy.
Reese Witherspoon (CAA, Management 360, Hansen Jacobson), Matthew McConaughey (CAA, Morris Yorn) and Tye Sheridan (Mosaic) are in negotiations to star in the indie drama Mud for writer-director Jeff Nichols, known for his Cannes award winner Take Shelter. Everest Entertainment is financing and producing with FilmNation.
Gerard Butler (CAA, Alan Siegel) will star in the FBI drama The Bricklayer, based on the Noah Boyd novel. It’s the first project set by new Millennium head Mark Gill, who will oversee. Hanna Weg (UTA) is writing.
Robert Zemeckis (CAA, Gang Tyre) has closed a deal to move his production company, Imagemovers, to Universal in a two-year first-look pact.
Melisa Wallack (ICM, Behr & Abramson), who wrote the script that became Relativity’s upcoming Snow White film, will pen Universal’s Emily the Strange. Chloe Moretz is attached to star as the punky goth cult figure created by skateboarder Rob Reger. Dark Horse’s Mike Richardson is producing.
Commercials director and effects guru Michael Gracey (CAA, Partizan, Hirsch Wallerstein) will helm Disney’s The Order of the Seven, a China-set epic once begun as a revisionist Snow White tale.
The Vault, an Image comic book written by Sam Sarkar (CAA, Schiff Co., Abrams Garfinkel), will be developed by Graham King’s GK Films and Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil shingle. Depp and Nihil’s Christi Dembrowski will produce with GK’s King and Tim Headington.
Production company Inferno Entertainment has picked up the action project Autobahn (formerly I-95), written by Greg Russo (ICM, Management, Morris Yorn) with Mark Steven Johnson (CAA, Gotham Group, Hirsch Wallerstein) attached to direct.
Hop director Tim Hill (Gersh, Principato-Young, Jackoway Tyerman) will direct Walter the Farting Dog for Paramount. Mary Parent will produce with Peter and Bobby Farrelly.
Lionsgate has bought U.S. rights to the comedy The Big Wedding, with Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton and Katherine Heigl.
Steve Carell (WME, Media Four, Ziffren Brittenham) will executive produce Laughing Stock, a comedy series for Showtime that will be hosted by David Steinberg featuring interviews with comedians.
The Pacific actor Ashley Zukerman (Paradigm, Australia’s Lisa Mann Creative Management, Leonard Torgan) has booked a key recurring role on Fox’s upcoming science fiction drama Terra Nova.
True Blood writer Chris Offutt (ICM) has sold a script to CBS described as House meets Walker, Texas Ranger. Aaron Kaplan is executive producing.
Model-actress Angela Lindvall (Rogue Entertainment Group, Morris Yorn) will host Lifetime’s Project Runway All Stars, joining designers Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman as judges and Marie Claire editor Joanna Coles as mentor.
Sarah Michelle Gellar (ICM, Brillstein, Morris Yorn) will return to ABC’s All My Children for a day of shooting. She appeared on 30 episodes of the soap during the 1990s.
Showtime has ordered a second season of the docusoap Gigolos.
FX has picked up a second season of Wilfred, a third season of Louie and two additional seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia with an option for what would become its 10th season. Sunny creators Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day (WME, 3 Arts, Sloane Offer) also signed a three-year development deal with FX.
Travel Channel has ordered The Dead Files, an investigative series that pairs a retired homicide detective with a psychic communicator.
Breaking Bad writer-producer Sam Catlin (UTA, Hansen Jacobson) has inked a two-year overall deal with Sony Television. Another Breaking Bad writer, George Mastras (CAA, Management, Alexander Nau), has sold two TV projects: an untitled L.A.-set legal drama was purchased by Fox TV Studios; and FX has picked up an untitled drama in the vein of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Access Hollywood and Latina magazine are teaming for a one-hour syndicated special, 15 Latinas We Love, premiering Sept. 17 and 18.
Hemisphere Capital Management has launched the Hemisphere Tentpole Co-Financing Fund, a revolving fund created to co-finance 12 to 16 studio pictures during the next four to five years. The first batch of projects, with investments totaling more than $200 million, includes The Smurfs and Men in Black 3 at Sony and The Adventures of Tintin and World War Z at Paramount.
Starz and BBC Worldwide Productions have struck a $300 million financing deal to co-produce TV shows. The pact could generate more than 100 hours of original programming for Starz.
Writer-director Dee Rees, whose Sundance film Pariah sold to Focus Features, has signed with WME. She was with UTA. … Michael Parks, who stars in Kevin Smith’s Red State and appeared in the Kill Bill films, has signed with management company Genesis Entertainment Partners. … Smallville star Tom Welling has signed with WME. … Dan and Laura Dotson, lead auctioneers on A&E’s Storage Wars, have signed with UTA. … Seth Worley, the filmmaker behind the hot short film Plot Device, has signed with ICM.
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