The Business: Signed & Sealed — 7 Days of Deals

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Joss Whedon was offered a chance to be involved in an upcoming reboot of the “Buffy” franchise — but passed.

Ka-ching! Who’s signing on the dotted line this week.

DEAL OF THE WEEK: Whedon Passed on Buffy Reboot: The Internet exploded in anger at news Nov. 23 that Warner Bros., Atlas Entertainment and Vertigo Entertainment are planning a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer film without Joss Whedon, maestro of the 1992 film and 1997-2003 TV series. Whedon himself fanned the flames, advising fans to “leave me to my pain.” But Whedon was offered a chance to be involved with the new Buffy and passed. According to studio insiders, he was approached last year after Buffy rightsholder Fran Rubel Kuzui and husband Kaz Kuzui began developing a remake with Vertigo. After hearing a pitch, Whedon decided he’d rather work on other projects (he’s making Marvel Studios’ The Avengers). Producers then began searching for a writer and late last year hired actress-turned-scribe Whit Anderson, whose take on the Buffy myth was strong enough after a couple of drafts to lure Atlas, which partnered with Vertigo to set it up at a studio. Fox, distributor of the 1992 movie, had first crack but passed, so in slid Warners, betting that Whedon or no Whedon, Buffy can still slay at the box office. — Borys Kit


Gore Verbinski has closed a deal to direct The Lone Ranger for Disney. Verbinski (CAA, Sloane Offer) will reteam with his Pirates of the Carribbean star Johnny Depp for the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced, Justin Haythe-scripted tentpole. Depp plays the Lone Ranger’s sidekick, Tonto.

Relativity Media has secured domestic rights to an untitled 3D shark thriller directed by David R. Ellis from Sierra Pictures and Incentive Filmed Entertainment. Ellis (WME, Principato Young, attorney Thomas Collier) made The Final Destination and Cellular.

Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (both WME, Hansen Jacobson) will make their directorial debut with the comedy Doc and Howie, which Montecito Picture Co. is producing. TV writer-producer Steve Leff penned the original screenplay, which landed on the Black List of most-liked scripts under its original title, Doc and Howie Whack a Granny. The film likely will be released by Paramount, where Montecito has a first-look deal.

John Malone’s Ascent Media has sold the Ascent Media Group creative services and media services divisions to Ron Perelman’s Deluxe Entertainment Services Group. The deal is for about $68 million in cash plus the assumption of unspecified debt. It will bring together two of the world’s largest postproduction entities.


CSI mastermind Anthony Zuiker (CAA, Brillstein Entertainment, Morris Yorn) has sold two projects to CBS. The network is developing Desperado, a neo-Western crime drama for Zuiker to executive produce. Then there’s Knife Fight, about a female public defender-turned-prosecutor, based on a short story by crime novelist Joel Goldman.

Fox has picked up Breaking In, a comedy about surveillance workers, for midseason. The Sony Pictures TV series, which stars Christian Slater (CAA, Untitled Entertainment, Hansen Jacobson), is a likely companion for freshman Raising Hope, whose Tuesday lead-in Running Wilde has stumbled.

NBC has ordered a pilot from FremantleMedia North America called The Catch, hoping that it does for the backyard ball toss what ABC’s Wipeout did for obstacle courses.

Discovery Channel and BBC One are partnering on the eight-part series History of the World, which will combine dramatic reconstructions and computer graphics  to reveal historical events.


Universal Republic has signed electro-pop singer Dev, who delivers the chorus to Far East Movement’s No. 1 song “Like a G6.” The deal comes through L.A.-based label Indie-Pop. Dev’s debut album is set for April.


ICM has signed 90210 star Tristan Wilds. His credits include The Wire. … WME has signed French director Fred Cavaye, whose For Her recently was remade stateside as Lionsgate thriller The Next Three Days. … Writer Mark Hammer, working on the U.S. adaptation of Skins for MTV, has signed with UTA. … Redlight Management has signed Grammy-winning singer Alicia Keys and her company AK Worldwide.