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DEAL OF THE WEEK: As 24 Goes Global, Meet the Indian Jack Bauer: The hero of Fox’s 24 is making his way to India. Slumdog Millionaire‘s Anil Kapoor, who played Kamistan President Omar Hassan in the final season of the long-running counterterrorism action series, will star in a local iteration of the show and help usher Jack Bauer into his home country.
“The timing could not be better,” says Kapoor, noting that such topics as terrorism and upheaval are top-of-mind for Indian viewers. “It’s very, very relevant over here.”
The adaptation was born out of Kapoor’s passion for the series, which he brought to the attention of showrunner Howard Gordon during filming on the U.S. version’s eighth season. Kapoor recalls Gordon telling him that he would help under one condition: that Kapoor play the Indian Jack Bauer. Gordon in April 2010 introduced the star to Marion Edwards, head of international television at 20th Century Fox, which began a year-and-a-half process to finalize a deal to license the series to Kapoor’s production company, the first step in bringing the real-time drama format to India’s broadcasters.
“Unfortunately, India has a much closer relationship to terrorism than the U.S. does,” notes Edwards. “They’ve had hotels taken over, they’ve had bombings, they’ve had people killed in the streets.”
Kapoor, whose clout as a film star in India helped move the project along, hasn’t decided what the home country or motivations of the series’ terrorists will be but ensures that his character will be relatable in the same way Kiefer Sutherland‘s was to U.S. viewers when the series about a counterterrorism unit debuted 10 years ago, two months after the Sept. 11 attacks. Although no other international deals have been struck for the series, Edwards has been approached about local productions in Japan and the Middle East.
It’s part of a larger push by the News Corp. division, which has had success with local versions of Prison Break and How I Met Your Mother in Russia, with Bones on the way. Recognizing the potential gains that rival Sony has realized with formats such as Married … With Children, Edwards’ team is negotiating to bring older half-hour efforts Malcolm in the Middle and an updated The Wonder Years to foreign markets, with a deal already in place for Modern Family in Israel.
“Fox was a little later to get into the game [compared with some other studios],” Edwards acknowledges. “The shows that we’re known for are ones like 24 and Prison Break, which are serialized, expensive and difficult, and for that reason, it has been a little tougher for us to find those partners who can give these shows what they need to become fully realized.”
Next steps for 24: India, as it’s being called internally, will include hiring a writing staff and casting the series, which at least early on will closely resemble the story arc of the U.S. iteration. Kapoor intends to have the series on the air in 2012, but his schedule, which has included filming and promoting Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, has not made it easy.
Among the many facets that excite Kapoor is the clear departure that the big-budget, serious drama will offer Indian audiences, who are more accustomed to lighter family fare that skews female. Says the star, “It’s going to be a game-changer.” — Lacey Rose
AFM Mints Unlikely Heroes
The solid American Film Market produced two clear stars: actor Aaron Eckhart (CAA, Hirsch Wallerstein) and reclusive director Terrence Malick (CAA). Each was at the center of a trio of high-profile projects being shopped at the annual gathering of foreign buyers in Santa Monica. Eckhart is the lead in horror thriller I, Frankenstein; CIA thriller The Expatriate; and The Drummer, a biopic about the Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. “These are an amazing series of roles for him,” says John Fremes of Essential Entertainment, which is selling Expatriate. Malick’s AFM presence included FilmNation wrapping up sales for his untitled romantic drama, starring Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams, and the launch of two projects, Lawless and Knight of Cups. Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett will star in both films, so Malick plans to shoot them back-to-back next year. Several insiders who know Malick report that he’s been invigorated by the success of The Tree of Life, which has grossed $41 million at the foreign box office (plus $13 million in the U.S.). — Scott Roxborough and Pamela McClintock
Hot Syfy Developing Three New Dramas
Coming off its most-watched third quarter ever, Syfy has decided to pile on the drama. The NBCUniversal cable network known for such shows as Alphas, Haven and Warehouse 13 is developing scripted projects featuring ghosts, trans-humans and KGB agents:
Ghost Projekt: Based on the Oni Press comic series, the drama revolves around a female KGB agent and a male American weapons inspector who form an unlikely partnership when a deadly force is unwittingly unleashed in Siberia. The CBS Studios project counts Brett Matthews (Supernatural) as a writer and executive producer, with Andy Bourne and Eric Gitter on board as EPs.
Seeing Things: The Fox TV Studios project centers on a cop who becomes a ghost after his violent death. The only person who can help close his last case is a socially awkward man who realizes that the hallucinations he’s had all his life might not be a figment of his imagination. David Slack (Person of
Interest) will executive produce and pen the script with Gabrielle Stanton (Haven). Scott Rosenberg and Robert Cort are attached as EPs as well.
Untitled Robert H. Wolfe Project: The drama from Universal Cable Productions is set in a postwar era in which a newly formed Unity Democracy orders a volatile mix of humans and trans-humans to lead the Starship Defender on an expedition in search of lost worlds requiring law and order. The project hails from Wolfe (Alphas), who is attached to write and executive produce. – Lacey Rose
Colin Farrell (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) and Noomi Rapace (UTA, Magnolia, Hirsch Wallerstein) will star in Dead Man Down, a mob drama to be directed by Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo). Neal Moritz and Ori Marmur are producing via Original Films. J.H. Wyman (Fringe) is writing.
Olivia Wilde (WME, Untitled, Ziffren Brittenham) and Steve Buscemi (WME, Gotham Group) are in talks to join Burt Wonderstone, New Line’s magician comedy starring Steve Carell, Jim Carrey and James Gandolfini.
Salt director Phillip Noyce (UTA, Australia’s Cameron Management, Ziffren Brittenham) will helm and Nicole Kidman (CAA, Media Talent Group, Jackoway Tyerman) will star in My Wild Life, a Mandalay drama centering on animal conservationist Dame Daphne Sheldrick.
Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Bloom Hergott) has closed a new three-year deal to remain with Paramount.
Writer Ian Fried (WME, Prolific, Felker Toczek) has sold a supernatural action project titled Spectral to Legendary Pictures.
Dan Mazeau (CAA, Circle of Confusion, Katz Golden) and David Leslie Johnson (Paradigm, Behr Abramson) have been hired by Warner Bros. and Legendary to pen a Clash of the Titans threequel. Wrath of the Titans, the second film, is set for release in March.
Mike Figgis (WME, Hirsch Wallerstein) will direct the ensemble drama Seconds of Pleasure, which Neil LaBute adapted from his book of short stories. Myriad Pictures has bought worldwide rights outside the U.K. for the film, which will star Matt Dillon, Julia Stiles, Brendan Fraser, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Hendricks.
Borderline Films, home of the creative team behind the indie hit Martha Marcy May Marlene, has signed a two-year, first-look deal with Fox Searchlight.
Jamie Chung (Gersh, 3 Arts, Morris Yorn), Twilight co-star Christian Serratos (WME, Luber Roklin, Stone Meyer) and Scout Taylor-Compton (Gersh, 3 Arts, Jackoway Tyerman) have joined CBS Films’ airborne thriller 7500.
Jay Scherick and David Ronn (ICM, Sloane Offer) will pen Sony Pictures Animation’s feature version of Popeye.
Alice Eve (UTA, the U.K.’s Artist Rights Group, Untitled, Felker Toczek) and Rashida Jones (UTA, Brillstein, Schreck Rose) have joined Steven Bernstein’s breast cancer dramedy Decoding Annie Parker opposite Helen Hunt, Samantha Morton, Aaron Paul and Bradley Whitford.
Dimension has picked up U.S. rights to Penthouse North, a thriller that will star Michael Keaton and Michelle Monaghan.
Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity) and Gold Circle Films (The Haunting in Connecticut) have formed the genre banner Angle Films and signed a first-look deal with Universal for movies with budgets ranging from $15 million to $30 million.
Radha Mitchell (CAA, Rick Ax Management, Stone Meyer) has joinede Lionsgate’s The Frozen Ground opposite Nicolas Cage, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Vanessa Hudgens and John Cusack.
Wrekin Hill and Row 1 have picked up U.S. rights to Flowers of War, Zhang Yimou’s epic Chinese drama starring Christian Bale.
Ryan O’Nan (ICM, Principal, Bloom Hergott), director of Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best, has been cast in indies The Frozen Ground and The Iceman.
Producer Andrew Panay (Wild Hogs, Van Wilder) has re-upped with Disney for two years.
Endgame Entertainment is creating Endgame Releasing to provide as much as $500 million in funding for marketing and distribution of four to six wide releases per year through major studios. The company plans to provide at least $20 million per movie for pictures that will go out on at least 1,800 screens.
HBO has optioned Laurie Sandell’s Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family to serve as source material for its Bernie Madoff film that stars Robert De Niro and is based on Diana Henriques’ best-seller The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust. John Burnham Schwartz will pen the script.
Lionsgate is shopping an animated Harold & Kumar show with John Cho (Gersh, Principato-Young, Morris Yorn) and Kal Penn (Gersh, Industry, Fuller Downs) on board to voice the characters and A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas scribes Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) attached to pen the script.
Mark Burnett will executive produce Spike TV’s Video Game Awards.
Jeff Greenstein (ICM) is developing an ABC comedy based on the 1980s partnership of restauranteurs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. Former Disney chief Michael Eisner, Noel Bright and Steve Cohen are exec producing.
Jennifer Lopez (UTA, Benny Medina, Hirsch Wallerstein) and Work It scribe Grace Parra (UTA, Mosaic) have sold a comedy script to MTV about an NYU graduate forced to move back to Texas with her Mexican family.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding‘s Nia Vardalos (Paradigm, Untitled) is writing and exec producing an ensemble comedy for ABC Studios about a morning show host who reaches her limit.
Gary Busey (Global Artists, Windsor Artist) will guest on CBS’ Two and a Half Men.
ABC has given full-season orders to Once Upon a Time, Last Man Standing and Happy Endings and ordered five additional scripts for Pan Am. … Fox has renewed The X Factor. … Showtime will bring back The Real L Word for a third season, as will Starz for Spartacus: Blood and Sand and the U.K.’s ITV
for Downton Abbey. … TLC has given Long Island Medium a second season.
Netflix has inked a streaming deal with MGM in the UK and Ireland.
Disney and YouTube are teaming to create an original video series.
Evelyn Lozada, star of VH1’s Basketball Wives, signed a six-figure deal with the publishing arm of Cash Money Records to develop book and movie projects. including one about her life dating pro athletes.
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