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Hump Day News Update 10/6/21: Will Packer to Produce Oscars, Russia Wins the Filmmaking Space Race, and More News

October 6, 2021 08:25 | By

Happy Hump Day!

While we’re all waiting to see if IATSE and the AMPTP can get a few issues resolved in their resumed negotiations this week, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) released a statement in support of IATSE — which I thought they had done weeks ago, but that was actually part of a joint guild statement, and the DGA needed to have their own statement out there.

That statement says, “The DGA National Board, as the representatives of more than 18,000 directors and members of the directorial team, stands in solidarity with our I.A.T.S.E. brothers, sisters and kin. The quality of life and living wage issues they are fighting for are important to all workers on set.

We urge the producers and studios of the AMPTP to return to the bargaining table and make a fair deal addressing these critical issues.”

And it was signed by,

Lesli Linka Glatter, President
Mary Rae Thewlis, National Vice-President
Paris Barclay, Secretary-Treasurer
Betty Thomas, First Vice-President
Ron Howard, Second Vice-President
Barry Jenkins, Third Vice-President
Seith Mann, Fourth Vice-President
Ava DuVernay, Fifth Vice-President
Lily Olszewski, Sixth Vice-President
Joyce Thomas, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer

And Board Members:

Jon Avnet
Norberto Barba
Karen Gaviola
Julie Gelfand
Duncan Henderson
Todd Holland
Nicole Kassell
Kathleen McGill
Christopher Nolan
Millicent Shelton
Steven Spielberg

SAG-AFTRA also backed IATSE in their own separate statement, specifically from President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, who said, “The results of the IATSE strike authorization vote are a resounding call for fairness, dignity and respect on the job. IATSE frustrations with the employers must be heard and producers must adapt to a more conscious capitalism. Profit at the expense of things of true value like honor, respect and appreciation has no place in contemporary times. The 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA stand with IATSE every step of the way.”


Will Packer

Will Packer (Photo courtesy AMPAS)

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced that mega-producer Will Packer (Ride AlongGirls Trip) has been selected to produce the 94th Annual Academy Awards, which will take place on March 27, 2022, airing on ABC. Packer is an interesting choice, but he’s also guaranteed to make it an interesting ceremony. Who knows? Maybe he’ll even convince Kevin Hart to host after his last attempt a few years back — there hasn’t been a host for the awards since. Academy President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson said, “Will is a powerhouse producer who has enjoyed success across all movie genres. He’s already bringing a boundless energy and a focus on innovation to this year’s Oscars, to entertain the widest spectrum of fans. Many wonderful surprises ahead!” 

“The power, the beauty, the romance of the imagery in movies has always attracted me. I’m fully embracing the challenge of bringing an ode to one of the most iconic mediums in the world to life. What an honor!” said Packer.

Craig Erwich, President of Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment added, “There is no one better than Will Packer to celebrate our collective love for cinema. Will is a world-class hitmaker and the ideal producer to capture the prestige of The Oscars and deliver a powerful and moving event.”

The Academy also announced that it was decided at this week’s monthly meeting of the Board of Governors that the group will have membership-wide annual meetings going forward to discuss “the affairs of the Academy.” These meetings will expect that all 10,000 members of the group will meet either in person or virtually once a year with the meetings to be held in the 2nd quarter of the year after each year’s Oscars ceremony.


Challenge

The Challenge (Photo: gctc)

We’re going to just continue on with one of the odder news bits this week, and that’s the fact that the Space Race seems to never have ended, as Russia has just launched actor Yulia Peresild, Director Klim Shipenko and veteran Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov into space in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft where Shipenko and Peresild will film segments for The Challenge on the International Space Station. That’s right. It looks like the Tom Cruise and Elon Musk $200 million action-adventure, directed by Doug Liman for NASA and Space X will have to settle for being the second movie to be made in space. The fact that we’re even talking about the first and second anything in space right now while Earth has gone to complete hell in a handbag is a little confusing, but that’s where we’re at. The Challenge is a collaboration between Russian space agency Roscosmos, public broadcaster Channel One and Yellow, Black and White. Russia’s Central Partnership will distribute the title, which is about the story of a Russian doctor who is sent to the International Space Station to save the life of a cosmonaut. The crew will spend 12 days on the space station along with European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Shane Kimbrough, and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Aki Hoshide and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov.

Shipenko, the director of the Russian comedy hit, Son Of A Rich, and Peresild, a star of stage and screen, underwent rigorous training ahead of the journey, including centrifuge and vibration stand tests, training flights and parachute training, all of which were also covered by Channel One. Shipenko even made a statement at a press conference on Monday, saying, “We underwent an accelerated course of many important elements that the cosmonauts study over many years. We tried to master them in four months. Of course, this is very fast. We had a lot of theory, practice, endurance, sports – everything imaginable. It seems to me, this is a rather feasible task – naturally not to become a cosmonaut at the level of Anton and other professionals but to prepare as a participant of a space flight.”


Extra Ordinary

Maeve Higgins and Barry Ward in Extra Ordinary (Blinder Films)

Back here on earth, Deadline reports that the Irish indie horror-comedy Extra Ordinary is being adapted into a half-hour comedy series for TBS by Maya RudolphNatasha Lyonne, and Danielle Renfrew Behrens‘ production company, Animal Pictures. They’ll produce the series with Katie Holly and Yvonne Donohoe of Blinder Films, who produced the original movie with writer/directors Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, the latter duo being attached to write and direct the series as well. The movie and series follows ghostbusting duo Rose and Martin, who counsel ghosts in their small Irish village while navigating their own budding and sometimes awkward relationship. Everything is going well until an American family with supernatural powers moves into the local castle. Ahern and Loughman were also recently hired by Amazon Studios to rewrite and direct the sci-fi feature Sid from an original spec screenplay by Travis Milloy, and they’re doing a stop-motion feature for Aardman Animations as well. Animal Pictures is currently shooting an untitled Apple TV+ half-hour comedy series created by Alan Yang and Matt Hubbard, and are prepping Poker Face, a one-hour mystery series from Rian Johnson for Peacock, in which Lyonne stars and serves as EP. Animal is also in post on the second season of Lyonne’s Russian Doll for Netflix and Hulu’s Untitled Sammi Cohen Feature, starring Rowan Blanchard and Auliʻi Cravalho.

Netflix has announced that director Mike Flanagan, whose Midnight Mass limited series seems to be doing as well on the streamer as its predecessors, The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, he will direct a limited series based on Edgar Allan Poe‘s The Fall of the House of Usher. It will be an 8-episode series in which Flanagan will share directing duties with Michael Fimognari, directing four episodes each. As with the “Haunting”series, Flanagan will exec. produce with his Intrepid Pictures partner, Trevor Macy, as well as exec. producers Emmy Grinwis and Fimognari.

AMC‘s Interview with the Vampire series has found its third lead in Bailey Bass, who will play Claudia, opposite previously cast Sam Reid and Jacob Anderson. In the 1994 Neil Jordan film, Claudia was played by a very young Kirsten Dunst.

American Born Chinese

American Born Chinese (First Second Books)

Fresh off his global blockbuster, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Director Destin Daniel Cretton is directing a new action-comedy series greenlit by Disney+ called American Born Chinese, written and EP’ed by Bob’s Burgers Exec. Producers Kelvin Yu and brother Charles Yu, and EP’ed by Melvin Mar and Jake Kasdan (Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.). Asher Goldstein (Just Mercy), Cretton, and Gene Luen Yang*, creator of the graphic novel on which the series is based. Kelvin Yu will serve as showrunner for the series that will start casting soon. Yang’s Eisner and Michael L. Printz Award-winning graphic novel American Born Chinese tells the story of Jin Wang, an average teenager juggling his high school social life with his immigrant home life. When he meets a new foreign student on the first day of the school year, even more worlds collide as Jin is unwittingly entangled in a battle of Chinese mythological gods. The action-comedy explores issues of identity, culture and family. (*Probably less than coincidentally, Yang is also the current writer on the Shang-Chi comic book.)

Disney Branded Television President Ayo Davis said about the project, “We are delighted to continue our relationship with Melvin Mar and Jake Kasdan and thrilled that Destin Daniel Cretton is set to direct. The team are visionaries in bringing character-driven adventures to life, and we cannot wait for our audience to experience this fantastically memorable and imaginative adaptation of the graphic novel. This is a great universal story that moves between worlds and explores the impact of culture, identity, and acceptance through the lens of adolescence.”

Emily Van Camp is ending her run on FOX‘s The Resident after four seasons, since she wants to spend more time with her growing family, including daughter Iris, who got her screen debut as Van Camp’s own pregnancy was mirrored by her character, Nic Nevin. Van Camp told Deadline“It was very interesting, mostly because I’m very private about my family life. It allowed us to keep the pregnancy quiet and to have something that’s just ours for a little while. That was beautiful in and of itself—to finally have a little privacy. The timing wasn’t exactly the same, so I was wearing a [prosthetic] belly over my belly. You know, after all the Marvel stuff it was nice to not have to focus so much on all of those things.”

ABC  has ordered a pilot for an L.A. Law sequel series, starring Blair Underwood, who will reprise his role as attorney Jonathan Rollins, a role he played on the original Steven Bochco legal drama. Underwood will also exec. produce the pilot that’s written and EP’ed by actual lawyer Marc Guggenheim and Ubah Mohamed, and executive produced and directed by Anthony Hemingway through his Anthony Hemingway Productions. In the series, the law firm of McKenzie Brackman will try to reinvent itself as a litigation firm specializing in only the most high profile, boundary-pushing and incendiary cases. Underwood’s Jonathan Rollins has gone from idealistic to more conservative as he clashes with millennial JJ Freeman to decide the best path forward for the firm to effect political and legal change. The series will focus on a new generation of lawyers but guest appearances by original L.A. Law cast members have not been ruled out.

Although HBO has already renewed The Other Two for a third season, creators Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider are developing an untitled half-hour dark comedy series about a closeted gay teen, which the duo will write and EP along with Adam Scott and wife Naomi Scott via their Gettin’ Rad banner. It’s described as a “dark, psychological comedy set in the year 2000, about a closeted gay teen who constantly dissociates and imagines he’s a famous (straight) actor merely playing the role. That is, until he meets someone who upends his entire way of thinking.”

Aidan Turner (Poldark) has been cast to star in the ITV television adaptation of Michael Robotham‘s novel The Suspect from World Productions (Bodyguard), playing a “doctor with a dark side” in the five-part series that will also star Shaun Parkes (Small Axe), Sian Clifford (Fleabag), Camilla Beeput (Peep Show), Adam James (Doctor Foster), and Anjli Mohindra (Vigil). Gangs of London writer Peter Berry is adapting the book that follows Turner’s Doctor Joe O’Loughlin, “who appears to have the perfect life – a devoted wife, a loving daughter, successful practice as a clinical psychologist, media profile and a publishing deal. He’s even a hero online after rescuing a young patient who was ready to jump from the tenth floor of the hospital where Joe works.”

Staying in the UK, actor Robert Carlyle will be reprising his role as Francis Begbie in a Trainspotting sequel/spin-off series called, The Blade Artist, according to Deadline. Carlyle will also EP this five-part series based on Irvine Welsh‘s 2016 sequel to his novel Trainspotting, which is being developed by Buccaneer Media (Marcella), who is also currently in post on streamer BritBox‘s Crime, another Welsh adaptation. Set in L.A. and Edinburgh, Scotland, Begbie is now going as Jim Francis, having reformed, but on returning to Scotland for a funeral, he’s confronted with his own past. Welsh is exec producing along with Buccaneer CEOs Tony Wood and Richard Tulk-Hart, although the project hasn’t been attached to a network or streamer just yet. Carlyle said the “prospect of working with Irvine and bringing Francis Begbie to life once more is an absolute gift,” while Welsh adds, “Begbie is Begbie and Robert is the long-term friend and collaborator who inspirationally brought the character to life with his incendiary portrayal. To say I’m excited at us reuniting creatively on this project is obviously something of an understatement.”

Three-time Emmy-winning star Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us) will star in and EP a Hulu limited series based on Esi Edugyan’s best-selling epic-adventure novel Washington Black. According to the streamer, it’s an “event series” that “follows the extraordinary 19th-century adventures of George Washington (‘Wash’) Black – an 11-year-old boy on a Barbados sugar plantation who must flee after a shocking death threatens to upend his life.” Brown will play the larger-than-life Medwin Harris, who has “traveled the world after a traumatic childhood as a Black refugee in Nova Scotia as the de facto Mayor of Black Halifax prioritizes the community over everything except Washington Black, his young protégé. Meeting Wash sends him down a challenging path of self-discovery, and as the barricades around his heart start to fall, Medwin will learn to dream again.”

Oh, yeah, and Hulu President Kelly Campbell was unceremoniously sacked this week, as the company’s staff was informed by memo that she was out “effective immediately.” Cold.

In some better news, HBO has announced that its Sex and the City spin-off, And Just Like Thatwill premiere this December, announced via a video from star Sarah Jessica Parker at a European HBO Max launch event, which you can watch below:


Sure, there’s a lot of television news, but believe it or not, they also make movies in Hollywood!

Silent Night

Keira Knightley in Silent Knight (RLJEfilms)

Keira Knightley, whose film Silent Night will be released on Dec. 3 by RLJEfilms after its Toronto International Film Festival premiere, has been cast in 20th Century Studio‘s Boston Strangler drama, written and directed by Matt Ruskin (Crown Heights). Produced by Ridley Scott and Kevin Walsh of Scott Free, along with Tom Ackerley and Josey McNamara of LuckyChap Entertainment, cameras will roll on the film in Boston this December. In the movie, Knightley will play Loretta McLaughlin, the first reporter to connect the Boston Strangler murders and break the story of the Strangler along with fellow reporter Jean Cole, Loretta putting herself at great risk to uncover the corruption that cast doubt on the true identity of the serial killer.

Distributor NEON announced this week that Tilda SwintonGeorge Mackay (1917), and Stephen Graham (who co-stars in Sony’s massive theatrical hit, Venom: Let There Be Carnage) will star in Joshua Oppenheimer‘s musical, The End,

From The Hollywood Reporter, actors Jeremy Davies, Elizabeth Reaser, and Luke Kirby have joined the MGM horror-thriller Dark Harvest, directed by David Slade (30 Days of Night) and adapted from Norman Partridge’s 2007 Bram Stoker Award-winning novel. Casey Likes and E’myri Crutchfield have already been cast to star in the project from Producers Matt Tolmach and David Manpearl of Matt Tolmach Productions. Like Partridge’s novel, it’s set in a small Midwestern town in which every fall a supernatural specter rises from the cornfields and makes its way toward the town’s church. There, gangs of teenage boys hungrily await their chance to confront the legendary nightmare in an annual harvest rite of life and death.

Amanda Bearse from the classic FOX sitcom, Married… with Children, has returned to acting (after a long and successful directing career) by taking a role in the Nicholas Stoller-directed Billy Eichner comedy Bros for Universal Pictures.

Nafessa Williams has joined the Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, replacing Moses IngramClarke Peters and Tamara Tunie will play John and Cissy Houston.

Gossip Girl‘s Thomas Doherty has replaced Garret Hedlund in the Screen Gems horror film, The Bride, which stars Nathalie Emmanuel from the Fast and Furious movies. the movie directed by Jessica M. Thompson from Blair Butler‘s original script also stars Hugh Skinner, Sean Pertwee, Courtney Taylor, Alana Boden, and Stephanie Corneliussen. Produced by Emile Gladstone, it’s a contemporary thriller that tells the story of young woman invited to a lavish destination wedding in England, only to realize her presence at the wedding has sinister motivations.

For more updates on projects in development, subscribe to our Production Listings.


Trailer Time! Although we haven’t gotten very much in the last few days — odd when you consider that there are some big blockbusters opening this month — we did get the first trailer for Red Rocket, the new film from The Florida Project filmmaker Sean Baker, which stars Simon Rex (Scary Movie 3), Bree Elrod, and Suzanne Son. It will hit theaters in December after a successful festival run, which began at Cannes in August.

Also, Relativity Media released the first trailer for the comic thriller Violet, starring Olivia Munn and Justin Theroux as her inner voice. It makes more sense if you watch the trailer, but it will open in theaters on Oct. 29 and the be On Demand starting Nov. 9.