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Your Daily Edition August 22, 2017

Daily Edition

Joker Movie in the Works With ‘Hangover’ Filmmaker

The project is intended to be part of a still-developing label for Warners’ DC Entertainment properties.

This is no laughing matter: Warner Bros. has tapped The Hangover filmmaker Todd Phillips to co-write and possibly direct an origin movie of the classic Batman villain The Joker.

Phillips will co-write the script with Scott Silver, writer of the 2002 Eminem movie 8 Mile as well as The Fighter, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The project is intended to be part of a still-developing label for Warners’ DC Entertainment properties that will include projects that could stand apart from the big massive tentpoles that are tied to each other in a shared universe way.

For example, the Joker is already part of the Suicide Squad movie franchise and is played by Jared Leto. The Joker movie in development, under the plan, would feature another actor and be made under another budget category. At this stage, the story is set in Gotham City in the early 1980s.

The new label would give Warners leeway to make more DC-oriented projects, unconstrained by continuity. 

One report stated that filmmaker Martin Scorsese was producing the project, but sources tell THR that his involvement is far from assured.

Phillips is known for writing and directing the Hangover franchise for the studio. It is one of the most successful comedy franchises of all time and helped launch the careers of actors Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis. Phillips last wrote, directed and produced War Dogs, starring Miles Teller and Jonah Hill. Along with producing most of his own work, he also produced Cooper’s upcoming film A Star Is Born. Phillips is repped by CAA.

Silver also wrote The Finest Hours and most recently penned the upcoming crime drama White Boy Rick. He is repped by CAA.

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Han Solo Movie Loses Michael Kenneth Williams to Reshoots

There was no choice but to “clip-clip-clip” his character from the 'Star Wars' spinoff, said the Emmy-nominated actor.

The effects from the director change for the Han Solo stand-alone movie continue to reverberate.

Michael Kenneth Williams, one of the film’s actors, is now a casualty of the reshoots, with his character no longer appearing in the untitled Star Wars spinoff, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

Williams played a half-human, half-animal alien in the feature, but that was before Phil Lord and Chris Miller were replaced by Ron Howard in June. The move, almost unheard of so late in a film's production, caused shooting to cease and launched an evaluation of what was already shot, before restarting with Howard at the helm in July.

With Williams now shooting the Chris Evans spy thriller The Red Sea Diving Resort in South Africa, that proved problematic.

“That would have required me on a plane a month ago to London, to Pinewood, to do reshoots,” Williams told Deadline. “But I’m here, on location in Africa. It’s scheduling. I’m not going to be back on the market until the end of November after [his SundanceTV series] Hap and Leonard, and for them to wait that long for me, that would have pushed back the release date.”

There was no choice but to “clip-clip-clip” his character, said the actor, who is currently nominated for an Emmy in the outstanding supporting actor category for movie or limited series fo HBO's The Night Of.

The Han Solo movie has seen a few other changes in the reshoots, with both Willow star Warwick Davis and Howard’s brother, Clint Howard, added to the cast.

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Dr. Phil McGraw Inks First-Look Deal With CBS TV Studios

Additionally, the talk show host has tapped Julia Eisenman to join his Stage 29 banner as head of scripted television.

Dr. Phil McGraw is expanding his relationship with CBS.

The longtime daytime talk show host has signed a first-look development deal with CBS Television Studios.

As part of the pact, McGraw and his son and producing partner Jay will develop scripted comedies and dramas for both broadcast and streaming platforms through their Stage 29 Productions banner.

Additionally, Stage 29 has tapped Julia Eisenman as head of scripted television. She most recently served as senior vp development at EveryWhere Studios, where she oversaw development on the Lifetime movie Who Killed Jon Benet? and the UP network series Date My Dad. Before moving to TV, she helped develop films including Erin Brockovich, Meet the Fockers, 50 First Dates, Up in the Air, Hotel Rwanda and I’m Not There.

Both father and son are already in business with CBS TV Studios as executive producers on the legal drama Bull, starring Michael Weatherly. Based on Dr. McGraw's previous career as a world-renowned trial sciences expert, the series was a strong performer on Tuesdays, averaging 15.6 million viewers and a 2.3 demo rating with seven days of delayed viewing factored in. Bull was renewed in March for season two.

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"Adding a scripted executive of Julia's stature, experience and expertise is critically important for Stage 29's aggressive development agenda," said Jay McGraw. "CBS Television Studios and their incredibly collaborative executives have been great partners on Bull from the very beginning." 

Added Dr. McGraw, "I'm pleased to extend our long-standing relationship with our CBS family even further with this development deal." 

Stage 29 also produces the daytime entry The Doctors, which the younger McGraw created, and the upcoming syndicated news magazine DailyMailTV, which will launch this fall. In addition to his deal with CBS TV Studios, the TV host also has a lucrative overall deal with CBS Television Distribution that runs through 2020. The latter is behind his daytime series Dr. Phil, which is about to enter its 16th season.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Dr. Phil and Jay McGraw," said Eisenman. "Stage 29 has set the bar for tremendous television programming and I'm excited to move forward with the team."

At CBS Television Studios, McGraw joins an impressive list of names with overall deals, including NCIS star Mark Harmon, Gloden Globe winner Gina Rodriguez and prolific producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Alex Kurtzman.

Stage 29 Productions is repped by UTA and Chatham Law Group.

Norman Lear’s Senior Comedy ‘Guess Who Died’ Moving Forward at NBC

The network has handed out a sizable pilot-production commitment to the long-gestating project.

Four decades after Sanford and Son ended its six-season run, legendary TV producer Norman Lear is returning to NBC.

The network has handed out a sizable pilot-production commitment to Lear's long-gestating comedy Guess Who Died. Lear and prolific producer Peter Tolan (Rescue Me) will co-write the script and exec produce the single-camera comedy.  

The project, which Lear has been championing for more than seven years, is described as a humorous and inspiring look at the shared joys and challenges we all experience at any stage of life. NBC notes the potential series is inspired by Lear, 95, and his secret to longevity: to continue learning and growing — but especially when society expects you to slow down. It's based on Lear's personal experiences and will be told in partnership with Tolan's authentic and irreverent voice.

Read more: Norman Lear, Creative Until You Die

Sony Pictures Television Studio, Tolan's studio-based The Cloudland Co. and Lear's Act III Productions will produce. Lear, Tolan and Act III head of production and development Brent Miller will exec produce.

Should Guess Who Died move to series, it would be Lear's second show currently on the air, joining Netflix's One Day at a Time reboot, which is now in production on season two.

Lear has frequently discussed Guess Who Died publicly. He most recently organized a table read for it at the Austin Film Festival last year — featuring June Squibb, among others — that was recorded by CBS Sunday Morning. (Watch below.)

The New York Times also produced a documentary short following Lear's efforts to get the potential show on the air. (Watch below.)

"I think it may have sold the show because it attracted a tremendous amount of interest, including a couple of sources that want to put it on,” Lear told IndieWire earlier this year of the attention placed on Guess Who Died.

All told, Lear has produced more than 30 TV series including All in the Family (which won four Emmys), The Jeffersons, One Day at a Time and Good Times. On the feature side, he earned an Oscar nomination for 1967's Divorce American Style, as well as 1987's The Princess Bride.

Sony TV-based Tolan, meanwhile, counts Outsiders, The Larry Sanders Show and Murphy Brown among his credits. He is repped by CAA and Schreck Rose.

Common to Topline Starz’s ‘Black Samurai’ Reboot From RZA, Jerry Bruckheimer

The drama, which is in development, is based on the 'Black Samurai' novels by Marc Olden and subsequent feature film.

Starz is ready to get its samurai on.

The premium cable network is teaming with Common, RZA and Jerry Bruckheimer to develop Marc Olden's book series Black Samurai as a scripted TV series. Common is attached to star, while RZA and Bruckheimer will executive produce.

The drama follows Robert Sand (Common), a highly trained American Army Ranger whose life is transformed when he meets a legendary Japanese master who invites him to train as a samurai. After his beloved sensei and samurai brothers are killed by mercenaries, Sand is thrust on a worldwide journey of both revenge and self-discovery.

Starz notes that the potential series will be updated from the original novels and subsequent 1977 blaxploitation film that starred Jim Kelly. The drama will be a mashup of the spy and martial arts genres and infused with the heart, soul and music of Common and the Wu-Tang Clan, creating a modern-day international action star.

Common (Selma) will executive produce via his Freedom Road Productions banner. Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA (American Gangster, Fox's short-lived drama Gang Related) and Mitchell Diggs will also executive produce for Wu Films. Bruckheimer and his JBTV banner's Jonathan Littman and KristieAnne Reed will exec produce; James Oh will produce. Freedom Road's Derek Dudley, Shelby Stone (The Chi) and Diane Crafford as well as Cinemation's Andre Gaines (Bill Nye: Science Guy) will also exec produce. Cormac and Marianne Wibberley (National Treasure, Bad Boys II) will pen the script and serve as showrunners should the project move forward. Starz will retain all global distribution and home entertainment rights to the series.

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"We cannot wait for the world to meet Robert Sand — part Jason Bourne, part James Bond, and 100 percent the hero we need today. Black Samurai promises to be an action-packed ride and with the Bruckheimer team, Common, RZA and Andre at the helm, we can feel certain this will be exceptional storytelling,” Starz president of programming Carmi Zlotnik said Tuesday in a statement.

Black Samurai marks Common's return to the small screen following his leading role on AMC Western Hell on Wheels, which he exited during its fourth season in 2014.

“I'm beyond excited about Black Samurai. This is a unique and special project that offers something rarely seen in art and culture today,” Common said. “It's an honor to play the character of Robert Sand and to have my production company Freedom Road Productions partnering with Jerry Bruckheimer Productions, RZA and Starz to deliver something fresh and new to people. I can't wait to dig into this character and the martial arts worlds of gun fu, kung fu, jujitsu and more. Look out world, Black Samurai is coming!"

RZA most recently starred on Fox's Gang Related. He also directed an episode of Marvel's Netflix drama Iron Fist and guest-starred on FX's 1980s-set cocaine drama Snowfall.

"I've been a fan of the Robert Sand character since I was a kid, Black Samurai being one of the films that got me into the martial art genre," RZA said. "A chance to combine with Jerry Bruckheimer, Common and Andre Gaines to reintroduce this character to a new generation makes myself and my partner Mitchell Diggs at Wu Films super stoked. With the Wibbs leading the writing team and Starz as our outlet, I'm certain the series will find its fan base.”

Should Black Samurai move forward, it would join a Bruckheimer TV roster that also includes CBS' The Amazing Race and Fox's Lucifer.

"We are absolutely thrilled to partner with Starz, Common, RZA and Andre Gaines on Black Samurai,” Bruckheimer said. “This incredible creative team will combine all of their talents and experience to bring the classic book series to brand-new life with cutting-edge artistry, music and imagery.”

Bruckheimer, Common, Littman and Wu Films are repped by CAA. Gaines is with Ethan Cohan, Todd Weinstein and Gordon Bobb at Del Shaw. The Wibberleys are repped by UTA.

Starz has found success with scripted originals that target underrepresented viewership. The cable network's roster includes Survivor's Remorse, Power, Outlander, American Gods and Ash vs. Evil Dead, among others.

Malcolm X Scripted TV Series in the Works

Critical Content will develop the project based on Manning Marable's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography 'Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.'

Manning Marable's Pulitzer Prize-winning Malcolm X biography is getting the TV treatment.

Independent studio Critical Content has optioned Marable's Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention and plans to adapt the book into a scripted drama series. David Matthews (Boardwalk Empire, Tyrant) is on board to pen the script and exec produce alongside Critical Content's Tom Forman, Andrew Marcus and Ray Ricord. Dr. Leith Mullings and Michael Tyner will produce and serve as consultants. A network is not yet attached as producers search for filmmakers to join the project. Critical Content, the company behind CBS' The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey, also plans to produce a subsequent documentary on the ongoing legacy of Malcolm X.

Critical Content says the TV project will be informed by the biography and dramatize the life of Malcolm X. The book has become the definitive guide to his life, with the author's research uncovering previously unknown details about Malcolm X and his evolution into a human rights activist.

The project remains in early development; casting has not yet begun.

Should the drama move forward, it would become the latest of several portrayals of  Malcolm X in film and television. Denzel Washington starred in the 1992 feature film; James Earl Jones took on the role in 1977's The Greatest; and Al Freeman Jr. and Morgan Freeman starred in 1979 mini and 1981 TV movie Roots: The Next Generations and Death of a Prophet, respectively. More recently, Nigel Thatch starred as Malcolm X in 2014's Selma.

Critical Content, launched in October 2015, focuses on developing scripted and unscripted fare for broadcast, cable and digital platforms. The company's credits include MTV's Catfish, CBS' one-and-done drama Limitless and Crackle's StartUp.

Critical Content is repped by WME; Matthews is with WME and Anonymous Content. UTA represented the Marable Estate on behalf of the Cheney Agency. 

Sharon Levy Joins Endemol Shine as President of TV

The former Spike TV head of originals will oversee both scripted and unscripted for the studio.

Sharon Levy has landed at Endemol Shine North America. The veteran TV executive, who departed Spike TV earlier this year amid the mass Viacom exodus, has been named president of both unscripted and scripted television at the company.

Her addition follows a year of big changes at Endemol Shine, which lost co-CEO Charlie Corwin and unscripted topper Eden Gaha and shuttered its digital studio. Chairman and CEO Cris Abrego announced Levy's hiring on Tuesday.

“Sharon is one of our industry’s most well-respected executives and brings with her a tremendous amount of experience developing and producing hits across a wide array of genres,” said Abrego. “We’re thrilled to have her joining our team here at Endemol Shine and leading our programming efforts going forward.”

Prior to her 12-year tenure at Spike, one that saw her launch Ink Master, Bar Rescue and Deadliest Warrior, Levy started out at Comedy Central before moving to Stone Stanley Entertainment.

“I’m truly excited to be returning to my producing roots and doing so with a company like Endemol Shine — with its global reach and roster of critically acclaimed series and production companies,” said Levy. “There’s a lot of momentum across the unscripted and scripted divisions and I can’t wait to get started with the incredible team.”

Endemol Shine North America, a division of Endemol Shine Group, currently boasts an originals roster that includes Big Brother, the MasterChef franchise, the recently revived Fear Factor and The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

End of an Era: Village Voice Will No Longer Be in Print

Peter Barbey, who purchased The Village Voice in 2015, has decided to no longer produce a print edition of the alt-weekly. The publication, which was once considered an important voice and platform, has long been distributed for free around New York City.  "For more than 60 years, The Village Voice brand has played an outsized […]

Peter Barbey, who purchased The Village Voice in 2015, has decided to no longer produce a print edition of the alt-weekly. The publication, which was once considered an important voice and platform, has long been distributed for free around New York City. 

"For more than 60 years, The Village Voice brand has played an outsized role in American journalism, politics, and culture," Barbey said Tuesday in a prepared statement. "It has been a beacon for progress and a literal voice for thousands of people whose identities, opinions, and ideas might otherwise have been unheard. I expect it to continue to be that and much, much more.”

The Village Voice, like most historically print-focused publications, has struggled with the shift to less-remunerative digital advertising. The paper was once reliant largely on classified advertising.

"That business has moved online — and so has the Voice’s audience, which expects us to do what we do not just once a week, but every day, across a range of media, from words and pictures to podcasts, video, and even other forms of print publishing," Barbey said.

The Village Voice's web traffic fluctuates widely on a month-to-month basis, but recorded 1,318,000 multi-platform unique U.S. visitors for the month of July, according to comScore data provided to The Hollywood Reporter.

The company's announcement came as a shock and a disappointment to the larger media industry on Twitter. But Barbey said it shouldn't. "The most powerful thing about the Voice wasn’t that it was printed on newsprint or that it came out every week," he said. "It was that The Village Voice was alive, and that it changed in step with and reflected the times and the ever-evolving world around it. I want The Village Voice brand to represent that for a new generation of people — and for generations to come.”

Barbey purchased the paper from Voice Media Group in October 2015. The publication, which has launched the careers of many prominent writers and journalists, has recently run through a succession of top editors.

SAG Awards: Morgan Freeman to Receive Life Achievement Honor

The actor will be recognized during the annual ceremony in January.

Morgan Freeman will receive the SAG Life Achievement Award, SAG-AFTRA announced Tuesday.

The Oscar-winning actor will be honored during the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which is set to air on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

The award, the guild's highest honor, is given to an actor who fosters the "finest ideals of the acting profession." In addition to his Oscar, Freeman's accolades include a SAG Award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award and a Kennedy Center Honor.

“I am thrilled to announce Morgan Freeman as this year’s recipient of the SAG Life Achievement Award. Some actors spend their entire careers waiting for the perfect role. Morgan showed us that true perfection is what a performer brings to the part,” SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement. “He is innovative, fearless and completely unbound by expectations. As a chauffeur, convicted murderer, boxing gym attendant, pimp or president, Morgan fully realized every character, baring their souls and showcasing their humanity. It has been a privilege to see his genius at work.”

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Freeman was most recently seen in the Zach Braff-directed big-screen remake of Going in Style. His other credits include Street Smart, Driving Miss Daisy, Glory, Unforgiven, The Shawshank Redemption, Outbreak, Se7en, Kiss the Girls, Deep Impact, Bruce Almighty, Million Dollar Baby, Invictus, Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, The Bucket List, RED, the Now You See Me franchise, Olympus Has Fallen and its sequel London Has Fallen

Freeman is set to reprise his role as Allan Trumbull in the third Fallen film, Angel Has Fallen. Other upcoming films include Broad Green's Villa Capri and Disney's The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

On the small screen, Freeman serves as an executive producer on CBS' Madam Secretary and the host of National Geographic's Story of God and narrator of Science Channel's Through the Wormhole.

Freeman first received national attention through his role on the Children's Television Workshop show The Electric Company. He even presented fellow castmember Rita Moreno with her SAG Life Achievement Award.

Freeman has received four SAG Award nominations over the course of his career. Past SAG Life Achievement award winners include Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, Debbie Reynolds, Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. 

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Thomas Meehan, Tony-Winning Writer of ‘Annie,’ Dies at 88

Meehan wrote the books for three shows that ran over 2,000 performances on Broadway: 'Annie,' 'The Producers' and 'Hairspray.'

Three-time Tony Award-winning book writer Thomas Meehan, best known for transforming the Little Orphan Annie cartoon strip into the smash Broadway musical Annie, has died, He was 88.

Meehan, who had been ill for about five months and had undergone surgery, died at his home in Manhattan late Monday or early Tuesday, longtime friend and Annie collaborator Martin Charnin said. Charnin visited his old friend about 10 days ago.

"There's a hole in my heart," Charnin said. "It's a gigantic loss, not only to the industry but also to us. We've been together and so close since the 1950s."

Meehan wrote the books for three shows that ran over 2,000 performances on Broadway: Annie with 2,377 performances, The Producers with Mel Brooks at 2,502 performances and Hairspray with Mark O'Donnell at 2,642 performances.

"I wrote stories that were serious, very somber, trying to be in the style of William Faulkner," Meehan told the Observer newspaper in 1999. "My career has always been that every time I try something really serious, it's no good, but if I try to be funny, then it works."

Tributes poured in Tuesday on social media, including from Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, who called Meehan "one of the best around," and from actress Kate Shindle, head of the Actors' Equity Association, who called his death a "great loss."

Meehan's other shows included Young Frankenstein with Brooks, Cry-Baby with O'Donnell, Elf with Bob Martin, Chaplin with Christopher Curtis, Bombay Dreams with Meera Syal and the musical Rocky with Sylvester Stallone.

Meehan began his career as a writer with The New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" section and later earned an Emmy Award nomination in 1964 as one of the writers of the TV series That Was the Week That Was.

Charnin said Meehan was "really very unique."

"He was somebody who you could literally call a wit," he said. "There are not a lot of wits left in comedy, and Tom was a wit. I have no problem calling him that."

Meehan made his Broadway debut with Annie, alongside Charnin and songwriter Charles Strouse. The 1977 original won the Tony for best musical and ran for almost six years, inspiring tours and revivals that never went out of style.

Annie almost died at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut in 1976. But Charnin brought in noted stage and film director Mike Nichols, who signed on as a producer and helped him revise the show.

With actress Andrea McArdle replacing Kristen Vigard as the red-haired moppet Annie and Dorothy Loudon added as Miss Hannigan, the production went on to open in New York in April 1977 with a bang.

The 1982 film version, which featured Carol Burnett in Loudon's role, was not nearly as popular or well-received. A stage sequel called Annie Warbucks ran off-Broadway in 1993. The original show was revived on Broadway in 2012 and was made into a film starring Quvenzhane Wallis in 2014.

Meehan is survived by his wife.

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