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DEAL OF THE WEEK: How the Plan to Move Soaps Online Unraveled: In a twist worthy of a dramatic cliffhanger, ABC’s All My Children and One Life to Live are being left to die, five months after the network OK’d a plan to continue the long-running soaps online. Production company Prospect Park on Nov. 23 pulled the plug on its revival effort, citing financial constraints. A source familiar with the bid to save the daytime dramas, which lost their spots on ABC this year, says it was a “case of dominoes” that doomed the series. A recent WGA meeting served as the final straw, the source contends, because the guild was attempting to hold the productions to near-similar terms as broadcast series. “The cash [Prospect Park] was offering actors was competitive, but they needed a little bit of a break in terms of what they’d have to pay writers,” says the source of the online soaps, for which stars Cameron Mathison (Children) and Tuc Watkins (One Life) had already signed. “That, coupled with the company’s only source of financing being self-financing, and they realized they couldn’t afford the model.” Prospect Park and its lead partner, Jeff Kwatinetz, are said to have raised and invested nearly $20 million in seed money during the past few months, meeting with investors, advertisers and the guilds in an effort to find the right distribution partner and business model. “If Jeff got a private-equity company to write a giant check and wasn’t forced into a corner [with self-financing], we would have seen this move forward,” says a source, noting that the effort still needed $80 million to bring the revivals to fruition. “He just wasn’t getting support from anyone.” Ultimately, Prospect Park, which produces USA’s Royal Pains and FX’s Wilfred, among other shows, opted to scrap the launches. Says the WGA in a statement: “We were disappointed to learn that Prospect Park’s financing fell through. Prior to the end of last week, we were close to a fair deal for the writers.” — Lesley Goldberg
Writer Asks: ‘Where’s Waldo?’
It’s a task as tough as spotting a bespectacled adventurer in a sea of humanity. Screenwriter Todd Berger is taking on the job of adapting the popular children’s book series Where’s Waldo? into a film for MGM. Created by illustrator Martin Handford, the books feature Waldo, dressed in a red-and-white shirt and carrying a walking stick, hidden in plain sight amid crowded scenes. MGM picked up film rights in early November following unsuccessful efforts by Paramount/Nickelodeon and Chris Meledandri‘s Illumination Entertainment. The Paramount/Nickelodeon project would have featured Waldo, a grown man, traveling through various eras after accidentally activating a time machine, but MGM is keeping the story of its project under wraps. Berger (Kohner, Kaplan/Peronne, Eclipse Law Group) is known in Hollywood for writing the puppet crime mystery The Happytime Murders, a Black List script that is in development at Lionsgate with Cameron Diaz attached. He’s now finishing It’s a Disaster, a comedy he wrote, directed and stars in with Julia Stiles, David Cross and Rachel Boston. — Borys Kit
Columbia Plotting a Narcolepsy Rom-Com
How’s this for a romantic comedy premise: A man has a serious allergy to feelings of joy, which causes acute narcolepsy whenever he is happy. He develops a range of techniques to deny himself pleasure and deal with the sleep issues, but they’re put to the test when he falls in love. That’s the idea behind Joy, based on a segment from public radio’s This American Life. Columbia is negotiating to pick up the comedy pitch to be directed by Jason Winer (ICM, Mosaic), helmer of Warner Bros.’ recent Arthur remake and episodes of ABC’s Modern Family, and scripted by Max Werner (WME, Anonymous, McKuin Frankel). A writer on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, Werner will make his feature scripting debut with the Halloween comedy Fun Size, being directed by Josh Schwartz for release in 2012. Mosaic is producing Joy with Jennifer Berman and This American Life‘s Ira Glass. — Borys Kit
Martin Scorsese (WME, Rick Yorn, Bloom Hergott) will direct a feature adaptation of Swedish author Jo Nesbo’s crime best-seller The Snowman for Working Title. Matthew Michael Carnahan (World War Z) will pen the script about a detective who investigates Norway’s first serial killer.
Universal has optioned movie rights to Erik Larson‘s (Paradigm, Black Inc.) nonfiction best-seller In the Garden of Beasts for Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman to produce via the duo’s Playtone banner. Hanks (CAA, Loeb & Loeb) is eyeing the project as a potential starring vehicle.
Simon West (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) is in negotiations to helm Dust and Glory, a car-racing movie based on a novel by Evan Green that is being independently produced by Top Cat Media and Blue Star Entertainment.
Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington (CAA, Parseghian/Planco, Jackoway Tyerman) will play the future King Arthur opposite Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) as Lancelot in Warner Bros.’ Arthur & Lancelot. David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) is directing.
Ben Whishaw (CAA, the U.K.’s Hamilton Hodell, Peikoff Law Office) will play Q in the latest James Bond movie Skyfall, now shooting in the U.K. with Sam Mendes directing and Daniel Craig starring.
Kung Fu Panda 2 writers Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger (WME, Hansen Jacobson) have been tapped to write Wish List, a Disney fantasy comedy about a girl whose childhood wishes come true. Reese Witherspoon is attached to star. Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray of Mayhem Pictures are producing.
Leafie: A Hen Into the Wild, Korea’s highest-grossing homespun animated feature, has been picked up by Toronto-based 108 Media Group for distribution in the U.S., Canada and other English-speaking countries.
James Tupper (ICM, Untitled, Jackoway Tyerman) has joined the ensemble cast of the biopic drama Decoding Annie Parker, being directed by Steve Bernstein.
New York indie production company Likely Story (Our Idiot Brother) is opening a Los Angeles office that will be headed by Stefanie Azpiazu.
IFC Midnight has acquired U.S. rights to the sci-fi thriller The Corridor. Written by Josh MacDonald, the film marks the directorial debut of Evan Kelly.
NBC has given freshman fantasy procedural Grimm a full-season order and picked up two additional episodes of rookie comedy Up All Night. … ABC has granted sophomore drama Body of Proof three additional episodes. … BBC America has picked up 10 episodes of adventure cooking series No Kitchen Required, which will bow in the spring. … WEtv has greenlighted Mary Mary, an eight-episode series revolving around the Grammy-winning gospel duo that’s set to debut March 29.
Greg Berlanti (WME, Felker Toczek) and Andrew Kreisberg (WME) will adapt DC Comics superhero series Booster Gold for Syfy.
Ewan McGregor (UTA, Sloane Offer) is joining Dianne Wiest and Chris Cooper in an HBO pilot based on the Jonathan Franzen novel The Corrections. Scott Rudin is producing, and Noah Baumbach (The Squid and the Whale) is directing and co-writing with Franzen.
Film and TV producer Dan Halsted (Manage-Ment) has inked a first-look deal with Fox Television Studios.
NBC has given script orders to single-camera live-action/puppet comedy The New Nabors from EPs John Hoffman (CAA, Anonymous) and John Riggi (UTA, Anonymous, Ziffren Brittenham), who will pen the project. Lisa Henson, CEO of the Jim Henson Co. (CAA), will executive produce.
Rizzoli & Isles executive producer Bill Haber (CAA, Lazarus and Harris), producer Stephanie Germain (Behr & Abramson) and Lauren Horowitz (Plumeria) have sold a script titled Golddigger, a drama about a female treasure hunter, to the CW. Horowitz will write.
The untitled comedy from Sarah Silverman (CAA, Thruline, Ziffren Brittenham) about her life re-entering the dating scene after a long-term relationship has been picked up to pilot at NBC.
Sherry Stringfield (APA, John Carrabino) and Virginia Madsen (CAA, Untitled) will star in the TNT telefilm Hornet’s Nest, based on a novel by Patricia Cornwell about a serial killer who targets visiting businessmen.
VH1 has ordered 10 episodes of Mama Drama, a reality series from Jersey Shore executive producer SallyAnn Salsano (UTA, DMF Law). The show, about mothers who’d rather pal around with their young-adult daughters than parent, bows Jan. 1.
Sylvester Stallone (WME, Bloom Hergott) is partnering with heavyweight-champion boxing brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko to make a musical version of Rocky. The trio will produce with Kevin King Templeton of Stallone’s Rouge Marble shingle.
NBCUniversal has partnered with Staples-owned Quill.com to create a Dunder Mifflin paper brand, named after the fictional company on NBC’s The Office. NBCU will get about 6 percent of revenue from sales under the two-year pact.
Vice Records, home to the Raveonettes, Justice and Gucci Mane, has entered a new three-year partnership with Warner Bros. Records.
Walt Disney Studios has partnered with YouTube as the latest rental partner on the streaming video hub. Available on YouTube and Google TV platforms, titles will include Alice in Wonderland, Cars and the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Cole Hauser, who starred on the NBC drama Chase and had key roles in 2 Fast 2 Furious and Good Will Hunting, has signed with WME. … Ashley Rickards, star of MTV’s hit comedy Awkward, has signed with UTA. … John J. McLaughlin, co-writer of Black Swan, has signed with CAA. … Simon Quarterman, star of Paramount Insurge’s forthcoming microbudget horror thriller The Devil Inside, has signed with ICM. … Todd Waldman, a writer on MTV’s upcoming comedy series Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous, has signed with CAA. … Brandon Quinn, who stars on Lifetime’s Against the Wall, has signed with APA. … High-end women’s wear company Marchesa has signed with CAA.
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