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DEAL OF THE WEEK: E! Scripted Slate: Beyond True Hollywood Stories: E! is making good on its promise to push past the Kardashians. Its first scripted programming slate ranges from the expected (Hollywood assistants) to the unexpected (the Vanderbilt dynasty set in the 1890s), and at least one — perhaps two — will make it to air in 2013. “It elevates the quality perception of the network,” says E! Entertainment president Suzanne Kolb. Adds programming president Lisa Berger of the thinking behind the projects: “How do we tell unique and different stories in the scripted space that, frankly, we can’t tell in the reality space?” As part of the push for a more “aspirational” tone, the network is unveiling a new logo and tagline (“pop of culture”) as well. — Lacey Rose
Here’s E!’s development slate:
- Amy Devlin Mysteries: Based on the graphic novel, this procedural is centered on a culturally obsessed, late-twentysomething detective. From writer Daniel Barnz (Won’t Back Down).
- Anne of Hollywood: Based on Carol Wolper‘s novel, the John Wells-produced story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII is reset in Hollywood.
- Dorothy: Inspired by the books Dorothy and The Wizard of Oz, the drama focuses on a Kansas City girl who falls for a man and moves with him to the Emerald City. From writer Natalie Krinsky (Gossip Girl) and Warner Horizon.
- Fascination Street: The rise-of-a-band story with a mystery at its center comes from writer Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile).
- Juror #9: A layered mystery centered on a good man who makes one bad decision. The Warner Horizon project is from writer Brian Ross (Crossing Jordan).
- The 400: The 1890s-set Manhattan society drama about the Vanderbilts. The Fox TV Studios drama comes from writer Emily Whitesell (Brothers & Sisters).
- King David: The story of a Mark Cuban-esque self-made billionaire, from former D.C. lobbyist David Gerken (The West Wing).
- Untitled Assistant Project: An L.A.-set drama about power-hungry executive assistants, from writers Meredith Lavender and Marcie Ulin (Missing).
- Upstarts: A drama centered on three characters in Silicon Valley’s 1990s digital gold rush from EPs Kevin Spacey, Michael De Luca, Dana Brunetti, Ben Younger and writer Joey Falco.
Jonas Bros. Drop Disney to Go Solo
The Jonas Brothers — the pop group comprised of brothers Nick, Kevin and Joe Jonas — have parted ways with Disney’s Hollywood Records after releasing three albums. The trio, who have sold 17 million albums worldwide, bought back rights to their master recordings, merchandising and publishing for an undisclosed sum (typically a percentage based on past sales and estimated future earnings). “This was a decision we made as a group,” Nick Jonas tells THR. “It’s what we feel is going to take us to that next step, and being able to take our work with us was so important.” Manager Johnny Wright says the band is keeping its options open. In addition to an E! docuseries, the brothers hope to add income from apps and concert streaming, technologies that barely existed when they signed with Hollywood in 2007. A label rep says, “We wish Nick, Kevin and Joe all the best in their future endeavors.” — Shirley Halperin
Kutcher, Cryer Sign for More Men
Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer are ready for another year of Two and a Half Men. The duo, along with co-star Angus T. Jones, have signed 1-year deals to continue on the hit CBS sitcom. According to sources, the principal castmembers negotiated small raises for the show’s 10th season (it’s Kutcher’s second since replacing Charlie Sheen last summer). Kutcher is said to make about $725,000 per episode, with Cryer making a little less than that and Jones about half Kutcher’s salary. CBS, which airs the Warner Bros.-produced show, had wanted to lock in the cast for two years, but the actors (especially Jones, who would like to attend college after next season) balked at a longer deal. Since starting the season on a ratings tear, Men hit a series-low 3.5 rating in early April. Still, the show is a powerhouse in syndication, and with the major cast locked, a 10th-season green light seems likely, though sources caution that CBS and Warner Bros. still must work out financial issues before the show receives an official pickup. — Matthew Belloni
Rooney Mara (WME, Stone Meyer) is attached to star in an adaptation of Colm Toibin’s best-selling novel Brooklyn, about a woman in the 1950s torn between her family in Ireland and an American man. Nick Hornby (An Education) wrote the script.
Star Trek and Transformers writing team Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (CAA, Gendler & Kelly) will work on the screenplay for Sony’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Original Spider-Man director Sam Raimi (CAA) is producing MGM’s remake of the 1982 horror classic Poltergeist, joining Nathan Kahane, Roy Lee and Robert Tapert. David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole) is writing.
The Vampire Diaries showrunner Julie Plec (WME) will pen The Tiger’s Curse, Paramount’s adaptation of the young-adult book by Colleen Houck. Mary Parent is producing along with Ineffable Pictures’ Raphael Kryszek.
First-time writers Aaron Buchsbaum and Teddy Riley (Paradigm, Mosaic, McKuin Frankel) have sold to Sony a comedy script, El Tigre, about a family vacation gone wrong when Dad is mistaken for a drug lord. Buchsbaum is an assistant to director Shawn Levy, and Riley works for Justin Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun.
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas director Todd Strauss-Schulson (UTA, Mosaic, Bloom Hergott) is attached to helm Warner Bros.’ Rascal Raccoon’s Raging Revenge, based on an Oni Press graphic novel. Matt Fogel (UTA) will write.
The Hurt Locker actor Brian Geraghty (UTA, Management 360, Loeb & Loeb) will star in the indie film Kilimanjaro, written and directed by Walter Strafford.
Andrea Riseborough (CAA, Untitled, the U.K.’s Independent), who starred in Madonna’s W.E., has joined Warner Bros. horror thriller Hidden, opposite Alexander Skarsgard. Matt and Ross Duffer are writing and directing.
Fox Animation has acquired the rights to children’s book The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by first-time author Christopher Healy. Chernin Entertainment is attached to produce.
Emma Watson (WME) is in negotiations to play herself alongside Jason Segel and David Krumholtz in End of the World, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s Sony comedy formerly known as The Apocalypse.
Dimension Films has acquired U.S. rights to the supernatural thriller Dark Skies, written and directed by Scott Stewart. Jason Blum will produce via his Blumhouse Productions banner with Alliance Films, which will finance the movie.
Endgame Entertainment and FilmDistrict have acquired Selfless, a screenplay by brothers Alex and David Pastor (CAA, Kaplan/Perrone, Jackoway Tyerman) about a dying older man who pays to have his mind transplanted into a younger man’s body.
Michael Sheen (ICM, Sanders Armstrong, the U.K.’s Roxane Vacca) has joined Admission, Focus Features’ Paul Weitz comedy starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.
The Book of Mormon star Josh Gad (ICM, Brillstein, Ziffren Brittenham) is in talks to play Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak opposite Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs in Jobs, a $5 million indie to be directed by Joshua Michael Stern (Swing Vote).
Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures is backing production, financing and international sales entity Panorama Media, to be run by Marc Butan and Kim Fox. Panorama will shop several titles to foreign buyers at the Cannes Film Festival, including Kathryn Bigelow’s movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Andy Garcia (Paradigm) and Vera Farmiga (CAA, Authentic, Peikoff Mahan) will star in Admissions, an indie romantic comedy being directed by Adam Rodgers. Garcia also will produce.
Christina Ricci (ICM, Management 360, Ziffren Brittenham) is joining the sequel to Sony’s The Smurfs, voicing a Smurfette rival. Brendan Gleeson and J.B. Smoove also are aboard for director Raja Gosnell.
David Stem and David Weiss (WME), the writing team behind The Smurfs, will pen The Ringling Brothers for Paramount. John Davis and Adam Kolbrenner are producing.
Universal has extended its production pact with London-based Working Title Films through 2015, though financial terms have been reduced and the deal is now “first look” rather than exclusive.
The Kardashians (WME) have inked a new deal with E! that renews Keeping Up With the Kardashians for three more seasons and extends the network’s first-look deal with the clan for unscripted shows.
Chloe Sevigny (WME, Brillstein) has signed on for the second season of FX’s American Horror Story, starring opposite Jessica Lange.
Gossip Girl executive producer Josh Safran (UTA, Ziffren Brittenham) will take over as showrunner for NBC’s Broadway drama Smash for season two.
Sons of Anarchy showrunner Kurt Sutter (ICM, Gendler & Kelly) will profile iconic outlaw groups in Outlaw Empires, a six-part docuseries set up at Discovery. John Legend (CAA, Artists Organization) will join Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Nettles and Robin Thicke as a judge on the ABC competition series Duets, replacing Lionel Richie, who has dropped out.
Grey’s Anatomy‘s Sandra Oh (UTA, Principal, Hansen Jacobson) and The Walking Dead‘s David Morrissey (Troika, The Collective) will star in a two-part crime drama for Encore.
Syfy is developing True Blood author Charlaine Harris’ four-book series The Harper Connelly Mysteries as a potential drama series titled after the first installment, Grave Sight. Kam Miller will pen the pilot for Universal Cable Productions.
Rome‘s Ray Stevenson (WME, Jackoway Tyerman) will play the leader of a Russian organized crime syndicate on the seventh season of Showtime’s Dexter.
NYC 22 writer-producer Ken Sanzel (UTA, Field, Hirsch Wallerstein) has inked a two-year overall deal with Universal Television to develop and supervise new projects.
Warehouse 13‘s David Simkins (Gersh, Fineman) has joined the writing staff of NBC’s Grimm, serving as a co-executive producer for season two.
Teri Hatcher (UTA) will recur for four episodes on ABC Family’s fashion-centric drama Jane by Design and make her directorial debut on an episode of the series.
Modern Family stars Ty Burrell (ICM, Frank Stewart) and Julie Bowen (Paradigm, Liberman-Zerman) will host the May 20 Billboard Music Awards.
HBO has renewed comedies Veep and Girls for second seasons, ordered two more seasons of Real Time With Bill Maher and picked up a documentary on George H.W. Bush from writer Jeffrey Roth and producer Jerry Weintraub. … Fox is bringing back sci-fi drama Fringe for a fifth and final season of 13 episodes. … ABC has picked up The Glass House, a Big Brother-style competition series premiering June 18. … ReelzChannel has renewed its first original series, Steven Seagal’s True Justice, for a second season. … Oxygen has picked up five projects, including dancing docuseries All the Right Moves. … National Geographic will air a half-hour special showcasing James Cameron’s journey to the bottom of the ocean.
THE BIG NUMBER: $20 Million: Fee Barry Sonnenfeld received to direct 2002’s Men in Black II, according to court papers filed Aug. 24 in connection with his commission fight with his former talent agency UTA. He says he received less than half that for May’s Men in Black 3.
Country superstar Taylor Swift has signed with IMG for worldwide marketing, endorsements, tour sponsorships and licensing. She continues to be repped by WME in areas including film, television and touring.
Katie Chang, the lead in Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, has signed with ICM.
Chronicle director Josh Trank and Contraband director Baltasar Kormakur have signed with Management 360.
Filmmaker David Dobkin (Wedding Crashers) has signed with WME.
Jen Bartels, a lead performer on Fox’s revival of In Living Color, has signed with UTA.
NEXT BIG THING: Ben Schwarz
Reps: WME, Tom Sawyer, Ginsburg Daniels
Why He Matters: The actor (House of Lies, Parks and Recreation) is making a rare leap to writer. He sold the romantic comedy pitch No Hearts Club to Universal, with Brian Grazer producing, and worked on Paramount’s planned Soapdish remake.
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