While the networks have been announcing their new series over the past few days at the upfronts, HBO is making a couple of announcements of its own. The pay cable channel has order two pilots to series: a comedy from Mike Judge and a dramedy series centering on a group of gay men in San Francisco starring Jonathan Groff (Glee). Judge’s dark comedy is a single-camera project that takes place “in the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success.” The series stars T.J. Miller (Seeking a Friend for the End of the World) and Thomas Middleditch (The Campaign).
Per THR, Judge wrote and directed the pilot and will executive produce the series with John Altschuler, Dave Krinsky, and Scott Rudin. Judge previously created and ran King of the Hill on Fox and Beavis and Butthead on MTV, and I look forward to seeing his sharp wit soar outside the confines of network TV. Hit the jump for news regarding another new HBO series from Weekend director Andrew Haigh.
Screenwriter Alex Garland is poised to make his directorial debut with an indie robot thriller. THR reports that the writer behind 28 Days Later…, Never Let Me Go, and last year’s Dredd will direct Ex Machina for DNA Films and producers Scott Rudin (The Social Network) and Eli Bush (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Garland penned the script for the pic, which tells the story of a billionaire programmer who invites a young employee to spend a week at his remote estate, participating in a test involving an artificially intelligent female robot that he invented. The indie is budgeted at around $15 million and producers are hoping to begin production this summer or fall.
Garland’s other credits include Danny Boyle’s The Beach and Sunshine, as well as a draft of the script for the developing Logan’s Run remake and the scrapped Halo movie. This marks a major step up for the screenwriter, and I’m incredibly intrigued by anything described as an “indie robot thriller” so I look forward to seeing what Garland puts together. If you missed Steve’s extended interview with Garland last fall, check it out right here.
Good Times is headed to the big screen. Sony Pictures and producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network, No Country for Old Men) are developing a feature film adaptation of the popular 1970s CBS sitcom Good Times, and Deadline reports that Phil Johnston (Wreck-It Ralph) has been tapped to pen the script. Created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans, Good Times took place in Chicago and centered on a working classic couple played by Esther Rolle and John Amos struggling to raise their three children in a poor inner-city neighborhood. The series was hailed for tackling serious social issues at the time while also mixing light-hearted comedy.
The feature film iteration of Good Times will take place in the 1960s, which should make for some interesting story dynamics. Hit the jump to watch the intro for the show.
Well here’s the definition of bittersweet: Jon Stewart will be taking a hiatus from hosting The Daily Show this summer in order to make his feature directing debut. Stewart wrote and will direct Rosewater, an adaptation of Maziar Bahari’s book Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity And Survival. Though Stewart is best known for his comedic chops on The Daily Show, the past five years or so have seen the host make some brilliantly dramatic—and at times angry—turns on the comedy news program, solidifying himself as one of the most respected, sharp, and eloquent personalities on television.
Hardly a comedy, Rosewater chronicles BBC journalist Bahari’s 118 day captivity in Iran’s most notorious prison after leaving London in June of 2009 to cover the country’s presidential elections. The title is derived from the fact that Bahari knew only one thing about his brutal interrogator: he smelled of Rosewater. Hit the jump for more, including how The Daily Show plans to cover Stewart’s absence. [Update: We've updated the article with the press release along with video of Bahari's appearance on The Daily Show]
Chris Rock will be taking on his fellow comedians and himself for his new film, Finally Famous. According to Showbiz411, The comedy will focus on a comedian who wants to be taken seriously. The film will be Rock’s third directing gig following Head of State and I Think I Love My Wife. The latter has dramatic elements, so Finally Famous isn’t just jabs at Rock’s peers. Rock also wrote the script and will star in the picture. A casting notice has gone out looking for a late-20s, early-30s love-interest for Rock’s character. The casting notice describes the character, Chelsea Brown, as “‘vintage, downtown N.Y.C. funky,’ with a lacerating intelligence and humor that is disarming.” Producer Scott Rudin, who partnered with Rock on the comedian’s Broadway show, The Motherfucker with the Hat, will produce on Finally Famous
Hit the jump for the synopsis and casting descriptions for the other characters. Filming is set to begin in June. Rock will next be seen in the decidedly non-dramatic Grown Ups 2.
The long-gestating biopic Cleopatra may have finally found a director, and it’s a good ‘un. The project has been in development for a number of years with Angelina Jolie attached to star as the Egyptian queen. Both James Cameron and Paul Greengrass flirted with the idea of directing before ultimately moving on, and most recently David Fincher was attached to the project before dropping off last summer. The pic has a script by Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), based on Stacy Schiff’s book Cleopatra: A Life, and now another top-tier filmmaker is eyeing the gig: Ang Lee. Hit the jump for more details.
HBO has ordered a pilot for Silicon Valley, a single-camera comedy developed by King of the Hill producers Mike Judge, John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky. According to Deadline, the series is set in “the high tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success.” Judge is set to direct the pilot in the spring. Scott Rudin (The Newsroom) will also produce as part of his overall deal with HBO.
King of the Hill signed off the air after 13 seasons in 2010, then Judge revived his breakout hit, Beavis and Butt-head. The last episode of Beavis aired in 2011, and to my knowledge MTV has not ordered a ninth season. So Judge may have the time to focus his full attention on Silicon Valley, his first live-action television comedy. Judge is one of the sharpest satirists in the business, so I look forward to what he can do with HBO resources.
It appears that the Martin Luther King, Jr. drama Memphis isn’t dead after all. Director Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy) wrote the script, which takes place during the final days of Dr. King’s life, and previously set the film up as a directorial project early last year alongside producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network, No Country for Old Men), but Universal Pictures abruptly backed out of the pic, forcing Greengrass and Rudin to shelve the project due to a lack of financing. Now it appears that the film is coming back around with a new backer, with Greengrass hoping to make it his next project. Hit the jump for more about the film.
It appears we’ll never get to see David Fincher’s iteration of Cleopatra. The director began eyeing the project back in March of 2011, but now it appears that talks between Fincher and Sony have broken off and he’s no longer involved. Angelina Jolie has long been attached to star in the film based on Stacy Schiff’s book Cleopatra: A Life. Fincher’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button scribe Eric Roth entered talks to pen the screenplay late last year, but the last update about the project came from Fincher himself last December:
“Cleopatra, I haven’t even begun. I’ve just spoken with Angie [Angelina Jolie] and Eric [Roth] and I’m trying to figure out how to weigh in. It’s just a discussion about what can it be, what are people expecting, what do we need to do to destroy that?”
Hit the jump for more on the future of Cleopatra and what other projects Fincher is circling for his feature film follow-up to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
As Martin Scorsese gears up to direct the financial-centered drama The Wolf of Wall Street, another one of his many percolating projects is moving closer to the production stage. Deadline reports that Universal Pictures has tapped Billy Ray (State of Play) to write the screenplay for the biopic Sinatra, which Scorsese has been developing for the quite some time. Little is known about the film’s plot or what aspects of Sinatra’s life will be depicted onscreen, but the hiring of a writer signals that Scorsese is keen on making Sinatra sooner rather than later.
Hit the jump for more, including a recap of what other projects Scorsese has on his plate.
While at the HBO portion of the TCA Press Tour, President of Programming Michael Lombardo and co-President Richard Plepler took some time to talk about new and returning programming. During the interview, they spoke about how long Game of Thrones and True Blood could run for, the status of the Entourage movie, their movie deal with Larry David and the affect that could have on future seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm, their thoughts on the first season of The Newsroom, the possibility of a fourth season for Treme, and what viewers can expect from the Woody Harrelson/Matthew McConaughey series True Detective. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
Well here’s a project we haven’t heard about in years. In 2008, it was announced that writer/director Cameron Crowe’s post-Elizabethtown project would be a romantic comedy called Deep Tiki. Ben Stiller and Reese Witherspoon were attached to star, but due to scheduling conflicts with the two actors Crowe had to keep pushing production back. Months came and went with no update, until we ultimately learned that development had stalled. Crowe’s first narrative feature since 2005 eventually came in the form of last year’s We Bought a Zoo, and I assumed that Deep Tiki was dead.
Now it appears that following a rewrite by Crowe, development on Deep Tiki has picked up again with none other than Emma Stone is set to star. Hit the jump for much more.
About a week ago, we heard that writer/director Wes Anderson was eyeing a top-notch ensemble cast for his next untitled feature, with stars like Johnny Depp, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe and Angela Lansbury apparently being eyed for roles. Though the exact status of each actor’s involvement was unclear at the time (it’s safe to assume Murray and Wilson will definitely be onboard), we now have confirmation that at least one of those actors is officially involved: Johnny Depp. Hit the jump for more.
Zach Galifianakis and director James Bobin (The Muppets) are a match made in heaven, to the degree that I had to check IMDB to see if Galifianakis ever hopped over from his HBO show Bored to Death for a guest spot on Bobin’s HBO show, Flight of the Conchords. Nope. But the pair may make up for the lost opportunity on Paramount’s feature adaptation of A Confederacy of Dunces. Vulture hears Galifianakis is attached to star as Ignatius Reilly and Bobin is in talks to direct. Scott Rudin (Moneyball) will produce, and Phil Johnston (Cedar Rapids) is reportedly working on the screenplay.
That’s quite a lineup, but Confederacy of Dunces has a long history of trying and repeatedly failing to become a movie. Harold Ramis set up the first attempt in 1982, but was derailed when his Ignatius, John Belushi, died. The role subsequently passed from John Candy to Chris Farley to John Goodman over the years, but never stuck. The most recent iteration was led by Will Ferrell and director David Gordon Green, but fell by the wayside at Paramount. When asked what happened to it, Ferrell could only respond, “It’s a mystery. For some reason that’s a very scary project for people to take on.” Hit the jump for a synopsis of John Kennedy Toole‘s seemingly unadaptable novel.
Writer/director Greg Mottola has been tapped to adapt Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jeffrey Eugendies’ novel The Marriage Plot. Mottola is probably best known for helming Superbad, but he also wrote and directed the excellent coming-of-age dramedy Adventureland and helmed Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in 2011’s Paul. Variety reports that Mottola is in early talks to write the script for the project, and they speculate that Mottola could also direct given that his schedule is clear in the near future. The story focuses on a love triangle involved three graduates of Brown in the 1980s. Producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network) acquired the feature rights last November, and it appears he’s eager to get things going.
Mottola most recently directed the pilot and created the visual language for Aaron Sorkin’s highly anticipated new HBO series The Newsroom, also produced by Rudin. I’m a huge, huge fan of Adventureland, and the kind of “coming-of-age” story that The Marriage Plot involves sounds like it’s right up Mottola’s alley. Hit the jump for a synopsis of The Marriage Plot.