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DEAL OF THE WEEK — Lone Ranger Close to Riding Again: How does a movie that was considered dead and buried get brought back to life? Ask Disney’s studio chief Rich Ross, who appears to be on the brink of resurrecting The Lone Ranger with star Johnny Depp, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski all remaining on board. After budget negotiations that dragged on until the film missed its autumn start date, the project looks like it might crawl back from the precipice thanks to some unusual financial footwork. The fantasy Western, once budgeted at an eye-popping $250 million, will be cut down to $215 million. To arrive at that figure (and a green light), the creatives involved will reduce their fees: no $20 million for Depp, no $10 million apiece for Bruckheimer and Verbinski, as is their norm on tentpoles. A source also says the filmmakers will sacrifice their back-end participation if the film comes in over budget, a significant incentive to run a tight ship. One of several planned train sequences has been scrapped, and a number of CGI-heavy bells and whistles have been eliminated. But what’s most surprising of all is that an insider tells THR that vendors working on the film, such as special effects houses and even hotels, are being asked to accept reduced guaranteed fees in order to secure the business of the production. While details are sparse, top executives at other studios say they have never heard of such shared sacrifice on a major studio release. And even with all those concessions, many think the budget is still far too high — -and remain skeptical that Verbinski can meet it. Disney has not announced whether Lone Ranger can still hit theaters by its planned holiday 2012 release date. — Kim Masters
A Maccabee Movie to Rival Mel’s
The war for Hanukkah is on. Producer Bruce Nash (Modern Marvels) is pulling together a version of the Judah Maccabee story for a potential feature or miniseries that could rival Mel Gibson‘s planned Maccabee movie at Warner Bros. with Basic Instinct screenwriter Joe Eszterhas. Gibson’s involvement in the Warners project as a producer (and possible star or director) provoked recriminations from some in the Jewish community because of his previous remarks perceived as anti-Semitic. Nash’s project, unlike the Gibson effort, has a finished script by Scott Abbott, who for HBO wrote Winchell and co-wrote Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, though no studio has signed. Nash and Bob Kosberg would produce with Maura Dunbar of Odyssey Networks, which provided initial financing. While Christmas has been represented extensively onscreen, most recently in Catherine Hardwicke‘s 2006 feature The Nativity Story, Hanukkah has yet to claim its own classic. The Nash-Abbott version is counting on those in the industry who want to provide a take on Hanukkah that doesn’t involve Gibson or his eight crazy nights. — Jay A. Fernandez
Moneyball author Michael Lewis (CAA) will script an adaptation of his 1989 book Liar’s Poker for Warner Bros. Crazy, Stupid, Love helmers Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (WME, Benderspink, McKuin Frankel) are attached to direct Lewis’ tale of life as a Salomon Brothers bond trader during the 1980s.
Russell Brand (WME, Ziffren Brittenham) and Julianne Hough (CAA, Azoff Geary, King Holmes) are set to star in Oscar-winning Juno writer Diablo Cody‘s untitled directorial debut, from Mandate Pictures and producer Mason Novick.
Richard Jenkins (Gersh, Bill Treusch) has joined the cast of One Shot, a crime thriller from Paramount-Skydance starring Tom Cruise. Alexia Fast (Sanders Armstrong Caserta, Great North Artists) also has been cast in the Christopher McQuarrie-directed film.
Emma Roberts (CAA, Sweeney, Stone Meyer) and AnnaSophia Robb (CAA, Untitled, Schreck Rose) are attached to star in the music-driven drama Anything but Ordinary from Alloy Entertainment and Southpaw Entertainment. The companies are developing the project as a book and film. Sanaa Hamri will direct from a screenplay by Charlie Craig, assisted by Liz Garcia and Lisa Barrett.
The Last Exorcism star Ashley Bell (Paradigm, Principato-Young, Stone Meyer) will return for the sequel from Strike Entertainment. She also has been cast in the indie Chasing Shakespeare.
The Hurt Locker actor Brian Geraghty (UTA, Management 360, Loeb & Loeb) has joined the Denzel Washington drama Flight, being directed by Robert Zemeckis for Paramount.
Animal Kingdom Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver (ICM, Elevate, Felker Toczek) has joined the David O. Russell drama Silver Lining Playbook, opposite Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, for the Weinstein Co.
Betsy Brandt (Talent Works, Patty Woo), co-star of AMC’s Breaking Bad, has joined Magic Mike, Steven Soderbergh’s male-stripper movie starring Channing Tatum, Matthew McCon–aughey and Alex Pettyfer.
Writer Stuart Paul (Verve, Caliber Media Co.) will adapt The Nye Incidents, a comic book co-created by Communion author Whitley Strieber. The project is set up at RKO, with Todd Lincoln attached to direct.
Warner Bros. has bought remake rights to the French action film Sleepless Night, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival. Roy Lee is producing the English-language version.
Lionsgate has paid $1 million to $2 million for North American rights to You’re Next, the Toronto horror thriller from director Adam Wingard (CAA, Generate, Morris Yorn).
ATO Pictures has acquired U.S. rights to Last Call at the Oasis, the Jessica Yu drama that premiered at Toronto.
FilmDistrict has picked up the remake of the 1984 invasion thriller Red Dawn from MGM and plans to release it in 2012.
Writer Elizabeth Chandler (Paradigm, Gotham Group, Gang Tyre) will pen an adaptation of Ingrid Law’s young-adult fantasy book Savvy for Walden Media.
Peter Stormare (ICM, Diamond, the Collective) is set as one of the bad guys fighting Arnold Schwarzenegger in Lionsgate’s The Last Stand, being directed by Kim Jee-woon and produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura.
Susan Sarandon (ICM) is in talks to join Dwayne Johnson in Snitch, an action thriller set in the drug world written and directed by Ric Roman Waugh for Exclusive Media. She will play a U.S. Attorney.
How I Met Your Mother writer-producers Carter Bays (UTA, Morris Yorn), Craig Thomas (UTA, Morris Yorn) and Chris Harris (CAA, 3 Arts, Morris Yorn) have sold single-camera comedy The Goodwin Games to Fox. The 20th Television project revolves around three siblings who reconnect after their father’s death.
Men of a Certain Age co-creator Mike Royce will pen Little Brother, a Fox comedy about a man who learns he has an ex-convict for a half-brother, from 20th Television, Adelstein Productions and Hat Trick.
Producer Mark Gordon (ICM, Hansen Jacobson) has sold a multicamera comedy to ABC about a home-security expert whose college-age son and elderly mother move back in with him, from $#*! My Dad Says scribe David Katz (ICM).
Lifetime has picked up its dramedy Drop Dead Diva for a fourth season.
Fox has given a midseason series order to Heroes creator Tim Kring’s Touch, starring Kiefer Sutherland.
CBS has given a midseason series order to a comedy from Rob Schneider, in which he stars as a confirmed bachelor who marries into a tightknit Mexican-American family.
ABC has picked up a crime drama project from Castle duo Laurie Zaks and Moira Kirland titled The Murder Season.
AMC has ordered Talking Dead, a post-Walking Dead chat show to be hosted by Chris Hardwick.
Former Daily Show correspondent Rob Riggle (CAA, Principato-Young) will guest star on ABC’s Happy Endings.
Grey’s Anatomy actress Kate Burton (Gersh, Principal) will play the U.S. vice president on Shonda Rhimes’ midseason drama Scandal, starring Kerry Washington as a crisis manager.
ABC has picked up Zero Hour, a drama project to be written by Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring (CAA, Sloane Offer) and revolve around mysteries surrounding the Twelve Apostles. Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Dan McDermott will executive produce.
Lifetime has renewed the docu-series Dance Moms, ordering a 13-episode second season. Collins Ave (APA) produces the series.
Arnold Schwarzenegger (CAA, Bloom Hergott) has inked a deal to write a memoir, Total Recall, which will be published in October 2012. Simon & Schuster is expected to sell the book to foreign publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
American Idol season 10 finalist Stefano Langone has signed with 19 Entertainment and Red Light Management. Chris Taylor of Toronto’s Taylor Mitsopulos Klein Oballa negotiated the deal.
Progressive watchdog group Media Matters has launched Media Matters Radio on Sirius XM, which began a six-week run Sept. 24. The show features Media Matters executives Ari Rabin-Havt and Bradley Herring as co-hosts.
DreamWorks Animation and Netflix have finalized a deal for DWA films and TV specials to begin streaming on the service in 2013. The pact is reportedly worth $30 million a movie to DWA until 2016 and replaces the studio’s deal with HBO.
Amazon and Fox have inked a deal for such series as 24 and Arrested Development to begin streaming on the Amazon Prime service, which boasts 11,000 movies and TV shows from NBCUniversal, Sony, Warner Bros. and CBS.
Facebook has announced a string of apps to make music, movies and other media a more integral part of the social network.
Tia and Tamera Mowry, best known for their 1990s sitcom Sister, Sister, have signed with UTA. … Frederic Jardin, who directed and co-wrote the Toronto hit Sleepless Night, has signed with CAA. … Writer-actor Barry Rothbart, who will appear on the new season of MTV’s Punk’d, has signed with ICM. … Alex Shaffer, who starred in Tom McCarthy’s Sundance breakout Win Win, has signed with CAA. … Production shingle Lizard Trading Co., which produces Animal Planet’s Whale Wars, has signed with CAA. … Writer-producer Michael Angeli, most recently a writer and co-executive producer on NBC’s Law & Order: Criminal Intent, has signed with Paradigm. … Actress Alicia Witt, whose film credits include The Upside of Anger, Mr. Holland’s Opus and Vanilla Sky, has signed with Paradigm.
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