Hump Day News Update 5/19/21: Charles Grodin Dies, Amazon Eyes MGM, and More News

Charles Grodin
Charles Grodin (R) with Robert De Niro in Midnight Run (Universal)

It’s Wednesday and the industry news isn’t taking a much-needed hump day break.

Charles Grodin
Charles Grodin (R) with Robert De Niro in Midnight Run (Universal)

Yesterday came the sad news that actor and talk show host, Charles Grodin, had died at the age of 86 in his Wilton, CT home from bone cancer, announced by his family.  Grodin’s career saw him starring in popular films like Midnight Run with Robert De NiroBeethoven, The Great Muppet CapersJoel Schumacher‘s The Incredible Shrinking Woman starring Lily Tomlin, and The Heartbreak Kid, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination in 1973.

Grodin was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on April 21, 1935 and was appearing in movies and television by the mid-50s. His first significant role was in the 1968 thriller, Rosemary’s Baby, which led to roles in 1970’s adaptation of Catch-22 and then The Heartbreak Kid in 1973. Grodin’s writing work on 1977’s The Paul Simon Special earned Grodin an Emmy. Grodin was a regular on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as well as Late Night with David Letterman, as well as a talk show host in his own right.


MGM
MGM

Not to be outdone by the immense AT&T, WarnerMedia and Discovery deal on Monday, rumors started spreading on Monday afternoon that Amazon was making a deal to buy MGM for $9 billion, this according to Variety and confirmed by Deadline and others.

This is a very different type of deal, because MGM — or as it’s been more recently labeled, United Artists Releasing — is a straight-up film and television studio with one hundred years of properties and library titles. In fact, MGM offers over 4,000 titles including all the James Bond movies, all the Rocky and Creed movies, including the upcoming Creed III, the Pink Panther movie franchise and classics like The Magnificent SevenThe Silence of the Lambs, as well as television programming that includes The Handmaid’s Tale (currently on streaming competitor Hulu), the Stargate series, Teen WolfFargo, unscripted shows like SurvivorThe VoiceShark Tank and much more.

Some have stated that MGM may be worth less than the 9 billion bid, but the purchase can help Amazon get back into the theatrical realm where it hasn’t had very much luck, as well as to build its streaming library with growing competition from Netflix and this new WM/Discovery entity just announced.

Amazon Prime Video currently has 200 million subscribers worldwide with 175 million of those having streamed some Amazon content in the past year. Reportedly, Amazon spent nearly $11 billion in 2020 alone on movies, television series and music content for the Prime Video service.


At the Fox upfronts, it was announced that the popular shows 9-1-1 and its spinoff 9-1-1 Lone Star have both been renewed for their fifth and third seasons respectively with a crossover between the shows being teased. Both shows are produced by 20th Century Fox Television in association with Ryan Murphy Television and Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision.

It was also announced that actor Morris Chestnut would be joining Yaya DaCosta in the new Fox drama series, Our Kind of People, from Writer/Executive Producer Karin Gist, Executive Producer Lee Daniels, 20th Television and Fox Entertainment.

Fox also teased an unscripted Tom Brady series, presumably focusing on the life of the Super Bowl champ when off the gridiron.


Leslie Odom, Jr.
Leslie Odom Jr. in One Night in Miami… (Photo: Amazon)

In the Knives Out casting news of the day, Oscar nominee and Tony winner Leslie Odom, Jr. from Hamilton and One Night in Miami… has joined the growing ensemble cast that already includes Daniel CraigDave BautistaEdward Norton and most recently, Kathryn Hahn.

On Monday, Walt Disney Pictures announced the start of production on Disenchanted, the planned Disney+ sequel to the 2007 musical Enchanted, once again starring Amy AdamsPatrick DempseyJames Marsden and Idina Menzel reprising their roles.  Adam Shankman (HairsprayRock of Ages) is directing, and the cast was joined by Maya Rudolph and 19-year-old newcomer Gabriella Baldacchino, who will play Morgan, the daughter of Dempsey and Adams’ characters. 

Time Traveller's Wife
Theo James and Rose Leslie in The Time Traveler’s Wife (HBO)

Also starting production this week in New York is the HBO drama series, The Time Traveler’s Wife, adapted from Audrey Niffenegger‘s novel, with Season 1 directed by Emmy winner, David Nutter (Game of ThronesBand of Brothers). The series stars Rose Leslie (Game of Thrones), Theo JamesDesmin Borges (You’re the Worst) and Natasha Lopez.

Writer and Executive Producer Steven Moffat released a statement: “This is a story of loss but it’s not a tragedy. It’s about a time traveler but it’s not science fiction. Despite Clare and Henry’s time scrambled relationship, this is the tale of a grand, ordinary love – but not necessarily in that order. This is a dream project for me. I have always loved Audrey Niffenegger’s extraordinary, moving novel and it has inspired me many times, so to be adapting it for television is the thrill of a lifetime. Working with David Nutter is a joy and an honour already, and with Rose Leslie and Theo James as Clare and Henry, and Natasha Lopez and Desmin Borges as Charisse and Gomez, this is going to be the love story we need right now.”

It was reported by Deadline that Paramount Pictures has picked up the rights to Michael Sherman‘s novella, The Time Runner, for The Maze Runner director Wes Ball to develop and direct from a screenplay written by Steve Desmond and Sherman.

Warner Bros. has set up a remake of Tony Scott‘s 1983 vampire thriller, The Hunger, with Angela Robinson in final talks to direct from a script by Jessica Sharzer. The film will be produced by Berlanti Schechter’s Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter with Mike McGrath exec producing.


Speaking of musicals, Universal Pictures released the first trailer for its upcoming movie, Dear Evan Hansen, which is an adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical of the same name. It stars Ben Platt in the title role, and co-stars Julianne MooreAmy AdamsKaitlyn Dever, and Amandla Stenberg. It will be released on September 24.

MGM released a new trailer for the Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson, which was originally supposed to be released in January but was then pushed back to August 13. The movie focuses on the early days of the Queen of Soul, and as we can see in the trailer, the writing of the signature title song that would become a big part of her legacy.