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Warner Bros Cools On ‘Judah Maccabee’ Script; Will Mel Gibson Go Indie Route?

11 April 2012 4:39 PM, PDT

Update: Reports of a nasty memo from Joe Eszterhas to Mel Gibson have surfaced, one filled with a summary of salacious and anti-Semitic statements that Eszterhas alleges Gibson uttered while they worked on the Maccabee script together. Deadline is not going to repeat the verbiage, because Eszterhas’ account doesn’t pass our sniff test. Here’s one reason why: If Eszterhas really heard all the hateful things he says Gibson told him, then why didn’t the brash Hungarian quit the project instead of tolerating the slurs? And then only speak out after his script gets rejected by Warner Bros? Gibson has made no immediate comment. Related:Mel Gibson Responds To Joe Eszterhas: Exclusive Earlier, 2:23 Pm: I’ve confirmed reports that Warner Bros isn’t crazy about the script received from Joe Eszterhas telling the heroic story of Jewish warrior Judah Maccabee. This is the project that Mel Gibson »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Yankees Go To Bat For ‘Bully’ Docu

11 April 2012 2:22 PM, PDT

The Weinstein Company docu Bully has really touched a nerve. In the latest promotion for the Lee Hirsch-directed film, New York Yankees stars Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and manager Joe Girardi took time to do a PSA to urge the audience to sign on to a website for the film and its Bully Project petition. The Yankees stars join an army of other celebs who’ve spoken out against bullying, on behalf of a film that already got more publicity than most documentaries before the MPAA changed the film’s R rating to a PG-13. Here’s the PSA: »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Anchor Bay Acquires Aussie Film ‘Bait 3D’

11 April 2012 12:46 PM, PDT

Anchor Bay Films acquired North American distribution rights to Bait 3D, Australia’s first 3D action film. The suspenseful shark attack/horror film stars Xavier Samuel, Sharni Vinson, Singaporean stars Adrian Pang and Qi Yuwu, Phoebe Tonkin, Dan Wyllie and Julian McMahon. Pic’s produced by Gary Hamilton, Todd Fellman and Peter Barber. “Bait In 3D is the ultimate shark thrill ride that will make you think twice about getting back in the water,” said Kevin Kasha, Executive Vice President, Acquisitions and Co-Productions for Anchor Bay Films. In a sleepy beach community, shoppers at an underground supermarket are terrorized by a crazed bandit when the unimaginable occurs: A monstrous freak tsunami swallows the town. Now trapped, with rushing water threatening to entomb them in a watery grave, the survivors discover they are chum for a pack of hungry great white sharks. The deal was negotiated by Kasha, Josh Thomashow and »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Film Movement Acquires ‘Hitler’s Children’ Doc

11 April 2012 11:50 AM, PDT

April 11th, 2012 (New York, NY) – Film Movement, the North American film distribution company that brings award-winning independent and foreign films to fans all across the U.S. and Canada, announced today their acquisition of Hitler’S Children, a powerful and mesmerizing documentary about the descendants of the top Nazi officials, and their daily struggle to move forward and away from the horror in their past. The film will enjoy a New York theatrical opening in Q3 of 2012, with a limited national roll-out to follow, as well as a day-and-date Cable Video on Demand premiere. Synopsis of Hitler’S Children: Adolf Hitler did not have children, but what of the families of Adolf Eichmann, Hermann Göring, Heinrich Himmler and Hans Frank, to name a few? What is it like for the descendants of these top Nazi officials to deal with the legacy left behind by their notorious families? Hitler’S Children introduces us to the children, »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Leslie Zemeckis Making ‘Bound By Flesh’ Docu On Siamese Vaudeville Sisters

11 April 2012 10:36 AM, PDT

Exclusive: Leslie and Robert Zemeckis are teaming on Bound By Flesh, a documentary she will direct on Daisy and Violet Hilton, Siamese sisters joined at the hip who graduated from wax museums and the carnival sideshow circuit to become the biggest moneymaking act on vaudeville. At their peak, they worked alongside Jack Benny, Bob Hope and Burns and Allen. Robert Zemeckis, her husband, will be executive producer, with Jackie Levine producing. Born in Brighton, England, the sisters were conjoined twins and their mother, a single barmaid, sold them to her boss, who sniffed a freak show fortune. They were taught to dance and sing, and were exploited throughout their childhood until they eventually sued and won their freedom. They went on to have a successful career until the business phased out. Zemeckis is planning a spring, 2013 release. Zemeckis helmed the documentary Behind the Burly Q, and created the one-woman burlesque-inspired »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Midway Gets Underway On ‘Pasadena’

11 April 2012 10:09 AM, PDT

Los Angeles, CA (April 11, 2012) – Graham Ballou, producer and partner at Los Angeles-based Midway Films, announced lead casting today for its feature Pasadena, written and to be directed by Will Slocombe (Crime Fiction, Mulligan, “Reception”). This is Slocombe’s third feature as a director, his first produced screenwriting credit. Production on the film begins in early May. Peter Bogdanovich (“The Sopranos,” Broken English, dir. Last Picture Show) has been cast in the role of Poppy Turner, with Cheryl Hines (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Suburgatory”) joining him as his second wife, Deborah. Alicia Witt (”Friday Night Lights,” “Cybill”) will play Poppy’s daughter, and Ashton Holmes (”Revenge,” A History Of Violence) Poppy and Deborah’s son. Also cast are Sonya Walger (“FlashForward,” “Lost”) and Amy Ferguson (The Master, Social Network). Set in present-day Pasadena, the film centers on the eccentric Turner clan, an upper-class family torn apart by secrets revealed over a Thanksgiving weekend. »


- MIKE FLEMING

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CAA Signs ‘Lone Ranger’ Lead Ruth Wilson

11 April 2012 9:34 AM, PDT

Exclusive: Actress Ruth Wilson signed with CAA. The signing was competitive for the British actress who is playing the female lead in the Gore Verbinski-directed The Lone Ranger, opposite Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. Wilson, who showed edge playing the murderess and confidante of Idris Elba’s detective character in the British series Luther, will next be seen in the Joe Wright-directed Anna Karenina. She’ll find out this Sunday if she is to win an Olivier Award for Best Actress for playing Anna in the West End production of the Rob Ashford-directed Anna Christie. Wilson continues to be managed by Untitled Entertainment and repped in the UK by Troika Talent. »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Conde Nast Entertainment Group Taps Jeremy Steckler For Movies, Michael Klein For Alternative Programming

11 April 2012 8:05 AM, PDT

Exclusive: Some six months after former CW Entertainment chief Dawn Ostroff became Conde Nast Entertainment Group president, she has hired two seasoned executives who’ll be charged with setting up film, TV and digital projects from the content of the Conde Nast stable of magazines. Ostroff has hired former Imagine and Fox Searchlight exec Jeremy Steckler to be executive vice president of motion pictures, and Sundance Channel exec Michael Klein to be executive vice president of alternative programming. Steckler, who’ll be based in Los Angeles, was most recently an executive vice president at Imagine Entertainment and before that senior vice president at Searchlight, and he had a hand in such films as Black Swan, Juno and (500) Days of Summer. Before that he worked for producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and for Spyglass Entertainment. Klein, who’ll be based in New York, leaves the Sundance Channel to take the job. He »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Antoine Fuqua Offered ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

10 April 2012 3:57 PM, PDT

Breaking… Antoine Fuqua has been offered Olympus Has Fallen, the White House takeover script by Creighton Rothenberger & Katrin Benedikt that Gerry Butler will star in for Avi Lerner’s Millennium. Fuqua is thinking it over, but he’s mulling numerous other jobs too, including Chicagoland, a crime story for New Line with a script by Peter Morgan. He’ll also be in the mix for the 24 movie when that comes back around on Kiefer Sutherland’s next hiatus. Fuqua’s repped by CAA. There is a reason for Lerner to want to hurry, after Roland Emmerich signed to direct a similar project, White House Down at Sony. Both are Die Hard At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and how many of those can you have? »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Brett Morgen To Direct Black List Script ‘When The Street Lights Go On’

10 April 2012 1:47 PM, PDT

Exclusive: Brett Morgen will direct When The Street Lights Go On, the Eddie O’Keefe & Chris Hutton Black List script that is being put together by Anonymous Content. The film is in the vein of Stand by Me, with a story that revolves around a teen boy who becomes obsessed with solving a murder case involving a young girl that has their sleepy suburban town in a panic in the summer of 1982. Steve Golin, Chad Hamilton and Michael Sugar will produce for Anonymous Content, with Paul Green exec producing with Tariq Merhab and the scribes. Last I’d heard of this project, Drew Barrymore was eyeing it as a directing vehicle. Instead, it will mark the dramatic feature debut of Morgen, who helmed The Kid Stays in the Picture, the documentary based on the Robert Evans memoir. Morgen also directed the docu The Chicago 10. He is currently directing a »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Director F. Gary Gray Takes On ‘Straight Outta Compton’

10 April 2012 1:26 PM, PDT

Breaking: As Deadline revealed earlier today,  F. Gary Gray is in final talks to helm Straight Outta Compton. That’s the New Line project that traces the formation of seminal hip hop group Nwa, which launched careers including Eazy E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Mc Ren and DJ Yella. The group branded itself with volatile songs like Fuck tha Police and politically charges songs that reflected the growing ire of urban youth in the 1980s and set the tone for gangsta Los Angeles rap culture. The film was set up at New Line by Cube’s Cube Vision. Gray last directed Law Abiding Citizen, Be Cool and The Italian Job. He has also directed music videos for Ice Cube. Gray is repped by UTA and Principato-Young. »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Longtime CAA Agent Byrdie Lifson-Pompan Exits Showbiz

10 April 2012 1:14 PM, PDT

Exclusive: In a surprise development, Byrdie Lifson-Pompan has decided to leave CAA and her career as an agent. She will become a Patient Advocate for Private Health, which supports and help individuals and their families obtain the highest level of health care quality and service. Lifson-Pompan has been an agent at CAA since 1994, and I’m told that her decision was based on her personal experience in navigating through the health care system on behalf of several family members. Those hardships forged her decision to make a career course change to help others who find themselves in similar situations. Lifson-Pompan was not available for comment, but she has a long list of writer/directors that includes Paul Haggis, Frank Darabont, Brett Ratner and Martin Campbell. She will help with the transition of those clients, I’m told. »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Walden Media Sets Jonathan Helfgot For Marketing Post

10 April 2012 1:13 PM, PDT

(Los Angeles – April 10, 2012) – Jonathan Helfgot has been named Executive Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Walden Media, as announced by Anschutz Film Group CEO David Weil. In his new role, Helfgot will oversee the marketing of all Walden films and will also manage Walden’s branding strategies across publishing, licensing, promotions, outreach and new media. In addition, he will be responsible for broadening cross-promotional strategies with other divisions of The Anschutz Company. “We’re thrilled to have Jonathan join the Walden family and guide the growth and development of our brand,” Weil said. “We have worked with him with great success for several years and appreciate his experience in research, digital marketing and creative advertising. He’ll be a major asset here as we continue to deliver a diverse slate of family films to the market each year.” Added Jonathan Helfgot: “I am incredibly grateful to Fox for allowing »


- MIKE FLEMING

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DreamWorks Gets Fewer Bucks In Reliance Deal Renewal: Nyt

10 April 2012 12:55 PM, PDT

The New York Times reports that after a long negotiation, DreamWorks is re-upping its deal with India-based Reliance. But with a plan to streamline its production pace down to 3-to-5 movies per year. Neither the renewal nor the tightening of purse strings are a surprise as it was widely expected since before the Oscars that both would happen. The second phase of Reliance’s investment was originally supposed to be less than the original $325 million, and the new money is upwards of $200 million. But the fact that it’s now about to happen means a lot: it’s another buyer back in the game at a time of contraction with Lionsgate and Summit merging. DreamWorks partners Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider had been unable to move forward with production starts while awaiting word from their India-based partners, or even buy much new material as they awaited the decision from Reliance. »


- MIKE FLEMING

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‘Captain America 2′ Helmer Job Narrows As F. Gary Gray Focuses On ‘Straight Outta Compton’

10 April 2012 12:34 PM, PDT

Exclusive: The Marvel Studios short list of directors for Captain America 2 just got smaller. The list includes Community‘s Joe & Anthony Russo and The Adjustment Bureau helmer George Nolfi, but I’m told Marvel is talking to others for a film that Disney just dated that film for April 4, 2014, with a storyline that picks up after the upcoming Joss Whedon-directed The Avengers. F. Gary Gray had been on that short list, but I’m hearing that he has withdrawn from consideration and is in hot and heavy negotiations to direct the Nwa biopic Straight Outta Compton for New Line Cinema. He’ll likely do that film instead. »


- MIKE FLEMING

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GoDigital Acquires Katherine Heigl Pic Called ‘Lowest Grossing Film Ever” With $30 Gross

10 April 2012 12:23 PM, PDT

GoDigital has acquired the U.S. digital rights to the indie thriller Zyzzyx Road, which stars Katherine Heigl, Tom Sizemore and Leo Grillo. The purchaser is embracing the fact that the film has been called the lowest grossing film of all time, after it was shown for seven days at a small theater in Dallas, Texas to fulfill the U.S. release obligation required by the Screen Actors Guild for low-budget films. Total gross? $30. “The film’s DVD run in the worldwide market has been successful, and we are excited to finally move into Us households. We know a lot of consumers are out there waiting, and pairing up with GoDigital on this was an easy decision,” said Grillo, who’s executive producer. “We love the story behind this film and are thrilled to be part of what we believe will be a happy ending, I am confident it will »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Josh Hartnett Signs With Ifa’s Ilene Feldman

10 April 2012 11:22 AM, PDT

Exclusive: Josh Hartnett, who recently met with all the major agencies, has signed with Ifa’s Ilene Feldman. It’s a surprise since he was expected to go with one of the major agencies after leaving CAA, but Feldman has managed to co-exist nicely alongside the behemoths, with a client list that includes Ryan Gosling, Chris Hemsworth and Angelina Jolie. Let’s hope she can steer him toward some projects that will put Hartnett back on the leading man map. »


- MIKE FLEMING

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David Gordon Green-Directed Redo Of ‘Suspiria’ Set Up By Crime Scene Pictures

10 April 2012 11:12 AM, PDT

Breaking: The Dario Argento 1977 horror thriller Suspiria has been set for a remake that will be directed by Pineapple Express helmer David Gordon Green from a script he wrote with Chris Gebert. The search is on for Suzie, the young protagonist who travels to Europe to attend a world renowned school. After a series of brutal murders, the young American student learns that the academy is a front for something way more sinister than education. The original had a surreal, psychedelic tone that involved the supernatural, witches and a whole lotta blood. The remake is backed Crime Scene Pictures, whose partners Adam Ripp and Rob Paris are joining forces with producers Francesco Melzi d’Eril (Hotel Rwanda) from Memo Films and Luca Guadagnino (I Am Love) under his First Sun film banner to produce and finance the remake. Rizal Risjad, Silvia Fendi and Philip Elway will executive produce and Lisa Muskat will co-produce. »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Alex Proyas Tackles Robert Heinlein’s ‘The Unpleasant Profession Of Jonathan Hoag’

10 April 2012 10:00 AM, PDT

Alex Proyas hasn’t had much luck lately. The last two films he tried to make, Dracula Year Zero and Paradise Lost, both got scratched for budget reasons. He’s just aligned himself to The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, based on a Robert Heinlein novella from 1942. Here’s hoping he gets to the start line this time, with funding from upstart company Red Granite. Los Angeles, CA – April 10, 2012 – It was announced today that Los Angeles based film production, finance and international sales company Red Granite Pictures will fully finance and co-produce Alex Proyas’ “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” with Mythology Entertainment, Phoenix Pictures and Mystery Clock Cinema. Producers are Riza Aziz and Joey McFarland (Red Granite), Bradley Fischer (Mythology Entertainment), Mike Medavoy and Arnie Messier (Phoenix Pictures), Alex Proyas (Mystery Clock Cinema) and Vince Gerardis. Joe Gatta, Topher Dow and Vincent Sieber are executive producers. Proyas (“Dark City, »


- MIKE FLEMING

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Hot Stoogery: The 3 Stooges Take On WWE

10 April 2012 9:12 AM, PDT

The Three Stooges stars Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Will Sasso (Curly) are pulling out the stops to promote Friday’s opening of the Farrelly Brothers-directed comedy for 20th Century Fox. That brought them to the last night’s broadcast of WWE Raw, and a pretty funny encounter with grappler Santino Marella. The routine, complete with signature sound effects, is funnier than most of the trailers. The trio also got in the wrestling ring to vamp, harkening back to all those original Stooges shorts that sent Curly into the ring against boxers and wrestlers in shorts like the 1934 classic Punch Drunks. That’s the one where Curly became invincible as long as Pop Goes the Weasel played in the background. Those actors the Farrellys found have the Stooges voices and slapstick down so well, they can take this act on the road when all this is over. Sasso »


- MIKE FLEMING

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