It’s Friday again, and some may even be getting today off due to the just-announced Juneteenth national holiday taking place tomorrow. (Presumably, the Emancipation/Freedom Day holiday to celebrate the end of slavery will be moved to the Monday following the June 19 commemorative date in future years.)
Last year, Atlanta’s Trilith Studios, the former Pinewood Atlanta, announced it was expanding into a full-blown residential studio, and now, Tyler Perry, Atlanta’s other big purveyor for television and film production, has announced that his Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta will also be expanding into a larger footprint. Perry and his business partner and frequent collaborator, religious leader/author T.D. Jakes, have been given the go-ahead by Atlanta local authorities to purchase 130 acres in its part of town to expand Tyler Perry Studios into an entertainment district with theaters, retail shops and restaurants.
Part of this expansion in the hotbed of Southern production may come out of the fact that so many productions had to begin quarantining in the area or creating a “bubble” in order for cast and crew to keep working, so it makes sense that these Atlanta-based studios — the first to begin production in the country — would want to offer other amenities for those who decide to shoot there.
In a statement, Perry said, “Today is a good day. I’m grateful for the opportunity this gives Tyler Perry Studios to extend our footprint in Atlanta and create more opportunities for the people of Southwest Atlanta with restaurants, entertainment venues, and other business opportunities. I’m looking forward to collaborating with my friend T.D. Jakes on his separate but adjacent project and I also want to thank Governor Kemp and Mayor Bottoms for their continued efforts to make Atlanta a better place.”
Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp has had clashes with Atlanta’s Democratic mayor, especially on the recent discriminatory tax law, but they seem to have put politics aside to bring more perks to filming in the state. He called the expansion by T.D. Jakes Real Estate Ventures, which develops real estate and programs centered on affordable and workforce housing for families in underserved areas, “a real shot in the arm for an important community within the state of Georgia. Significant job creation such as this will create more opportunities for hardworking Georgians and surrounding small businesses, which are the real backbone of our state’s economy.”
No further details on the timeline of the project were given.
United Kingdom VFX House Framestore, the winner of Oscar and BAFTA Awards for its visual effects work, announced this morning that it would be restructuring and making new hires to meet the growing demand for visual effects on television. Both of the company’s departments will be brought under one banner, one for the pipeline and a new leadership structure with the company’s episodic work headed by James Whitlam, who recently won a BAFTA for his work on HBO‘s His Dark Materials. He’ll be working with Michelle Martin, Head of Business Development, Episodic, and reporting to Fiona Walkinshaw, Framestore’s Global Managing Director, Film. This new venture will work with Framestore’s studios in London, Montreal, the U.S. and India, in “a bid to give clients access to Framestore’s global talent pool as well as a range of national and regional tax incentives.” New hires for this incentive include VFX Supervisor Sean Mathiesen, previously of Double Negative, where he oversaw Netflix‘s Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, and returning VFX Supervisor Andy Scrase, who did on-set supervision for Britannia.
We’ve been reporting from time to time on the developments going on with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) who have been handing out the Golden Globes in past years but has come under fire due to claims of corruption and lack of representation with no black members. On Thursday, two unnamed members quit the group, calling the HFPA a “toxic place for working journalists” and claiming that the majority of HFPA members are resistant to the efforts to diversify and create ethical standards.
In response to the claims, the HFPA made the following statement:
“At a time when the overwhelming majority of our members have chosen to be a part of change, it is disappointing that some members have decided to try and splinter our organization and sow division and doubt. While some may have their own agendas, the Board and membership of the HFPA share one, common goal — passing the transformational change our organization needs.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is an organization with more than 75 years of history. The amount of change that we have accomplished thus far is only the beginning. This is a crucial time for our organization, and we stand ready to collaborate with our members and outside groups to make this change a reality. We are forever grateful to the members that have decided to stay the course during this historic and trying time to help make this new era a reality for the HFPA.”
Hours earlier, Scott Feinberg of The Hollywood Reporter shared that longtime HFPA member Yoram Kahana, who had been with the group since 1963, died at the age of 82 from heart failure. As Feinberg mentioned elsewhere, yesterday brought the membership down four to 83 from the 87 the group had in February when the Golden Globes were announced.
Let’s get into some movie news with the recent announcement that Deon Taylor would be directing a sequel to the classic 1972 Blacksploitation horror film, Blacula, for MGM, which will be produced with Bron and Taylor’s production company with wife Roxanne Avent Taylor, Hidden Empire Film Group. This will actually be a sequel that takes place after the 1973 sequel, Scream Blacula Scream, and will be set in a major metropolitan city following a coronavirus pandemic. Taylor co-wrote the script with Micah Ranum with Avent Taylor producing.
In a statement shared with Variety, Taylor said:
“’Blacula’ is arguably one of the most prestigious Black franchises and so important to the culture as it birthed a groundswell of Blaxploitation-horror films, which changed the game for how our people were seen on the big screen.”
“Growing up in Gary, IN, I loved watching ‘Blacula’ and was so proud that William Marshall was a fellow Gary native. It’s mind-blowing that this franchise never got the energy or appreciation that other genre films received over the years, but this reboot is about to change all that. Thank you to Aaron, Brenda and team Bron as well as everyone at MGM for joining us on this adventure. We promise to bring new life to the iconic ‘Blacula’ character that will resonate with audiences worldwide!”
Selena Gomez‘s STXfilms psychological thriller, Dollhouse, has found its director in Emma Tammi (The Wind) with Gomez producing through her July Moon imprint with plans to star. The screenplay written by Michael Paisley takes place in the world of New York City’s fashion scene with Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps producing.
Before we get to all the casting and project announcements coming from the virtual Cannes Market next week — and there are a LOT! — we have some more casting for next year’s John Wick: Chapter 4, as the Keanu Reeves action sequel has been joined by Japanese actor Hiroyuki Sanada, recently seen in Mortal Kombat and Zack Snyder‘s Army of the Dead.
Sarah Polley‘s next movie, Women Talking, which currently stars three-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand, has added an all-star cast that includes Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Ben Whishaw, Judith Ivey, Sheila McCarthy, and Michelle McLeod. August Winter, Liv McNeil and Kate Hallett will make their feature film debuts as well. The adaptation of Miriam Toews‘ best-selling novel about a group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a series of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men will be produced by Plan B and McDormand’s Hear/Say Productions for Orion Pictures/U.A. Releasing.
Director Doug Liman‘s Everest movie has added its cast, including Ewan McGregor as English mountaineer George Mallory, who took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest. Sam Heughan and Mark Strong co-star in the movie scripted by Up in the Air writer Sheldon Turner. The tagline for the real-life adventure film is: “1921. Everest remains the very last great unconquered challenge on earth. Many have sacrificed their sanity and often their lives in the attempt to reach its fabled summit. George Mallory (McGregor) is picked by the arrogant Arthur Hinks (Strong) of the Royal Geographic Society to scale the impossible. Following the First World War, the fading British empire is desperate for a restorative victory, but for Mallory and his rival, the eccentric Aussie George Finch (Heughan), the challenge of Everest has nothing to do with patriotism, instead, it is a singular test of self.”
Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart is also getting the biopic treatment in Spinning Gold, a long-in-development project that seems to be rolling forward with some casting news but also the fact that it’s currently filming in New Jersey with Capstone bringing the package to Cannes. Jeremy Jordan (Supergirl) plays Neil Bogart in the rise and fall of the ’60s and ’70’s music magnate behind the label that housed the likes of Donna Summer, KISS, Parliament, Village People, The Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight and Bill Withers. The movie is written and directed by Bogart’s son, Timothy Scott Bogart, and this past week it added Wiz Khalifa as Parliament frontman, George Clinton, Tayla Parx as Donna Summer, Ledisi as Gladys Knight, and Lyndsy Fonseca as music manager Joyce Biawitz. The rest of the cast includes Jay Pharoah, Michelle Monaghan, Jason Isaacs, Jason Derulo, Sebastian Maniscalco, Dan Fogler, Chris Redd, Peyton List, Michael Ian Black and lots more.
Staying in the music and biopic realm, Warner Bros. Pictures has landed the Marvin Gaye biopic, What’s Going On, with Allen Hughes directing and Dr. Dre, Jimy Iovine and Andrew Lazar producing the movie based on the script by poet and playwright Marcus Gardley (The Color Purple musical). The singer’s estate and Motown Records are both involved which will allow the rights to Gaye’s songs, and the reported budget is north of $80 million.
In a statement to Deadline, Hughes said, “This is so personal for me. When I made my first film with my brother, we were fortunate to get ‘What’s Going On’ into the trailer for Menace 2 Society, and it was a game changer in elevating the marketing of that film. Every film of mine but the period film From Hell had some Marvin Gaye in it, and I’ve just always connected to him. He’s the artist’s artist, with this ethereal voice that just comes out of the heavens. There have been plenty of great artists, and then Marvin, in his own lane. When you listen, in one measure you feel like you’ve read a novel. Such a rich inner life in that voice, heavenly but riddled with pain, the agony and ecstasy at the same time. When he gained his independence in the ’70s, with that album What’s Going On, then Trouble Man and Let’s Get It On, I Want You and his final masterpiece Here, My Dear, when it comes to vocal orchestrations and the way he layered his voice, he’s Mozart. You’ve heard of all these big-name directors that have tried for 35 years to consolidate these rights. This started with Dre, saying, ‘Let’s do this together,’ and then Jimmy came on, and Andrew Lazar, and we worked with the estate, with Motown and some other things that needed to be tied down, and we got it done.”
Actors Bokeem Woodbine and Raúl Castillo have joined Jeremy Pope and Gabrielle Union in Elegance Bratton‘s The Inspection for A24 and Gamechanger Films. Bratton, who just won an Independent Spirit Award for his documentary Pier Kids, wrote the script based on his own life. The film will be produced and co-financed by Effie Brown from Gamechange and A24, the latter handling worldwide distribution, as well as Chester Algernal Gordon for Freedo Principle.
Kate Bosworth and Grammy-winning rapper 2 Chainz have joined Millennium Media‘s Miami-set The Enforcer, adding to the cast that already includes Antonio Banderas. The movie is directed by Richard Hughes (Found) from a script by W. Peter Iliff (Point Break, Patriot Games, Varsity Blues), and it will be launched at Cannes. The tagline: “An enforcer discovers his femme fatale boss has branched out into cyber sex trafficking, putting a young runaway he’s befriended at risk. He sacrifices everything to save the young girl from the deadly organization he’s spent his life building.”
Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke and Jennifer Carpenter have been cast to star in the supernatural horror film, She’s Still Here, which will go into production this fall. The film is written by Martin Gomez and will be directed by James and Anthony Guadioso, as it tells the story of desperate widower who is being tormented by the vengeful spirit of his deceased wife. Exasperated, he enlists the aid of his ghost-hunting nephew to decipher the haunting’s meaning and bring peace to his household. It’s produced by Lisa Bruhn of Tenacious Films, the Guadiosos and Scott Martin, Michael Slifkin, and Jack Sheehan of Archstone Entertainment, who are presenting the package at Cannes.
Dakota Johnson has replaced Daisy Ridley in I’m Not Okay With This creator Christy Hall‘s directorial debut, Daddio. Johnson will be starring opposite Sean Penn as a young woman who gets into a cab at JFK Airport in New York City, that leads to a night-long game of cat-and-mouse with the cabbie (played by Penn). Endeavor Content is launching worldwide sales at Cannes with CAA Media Finance co-repping the U.S. Johnson is also a producer on the movie with her TeaTime Pictures partner Ro Donnelly with Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Hall also producing.
Alisha Boe and Brandon Flynn from the Netflix hit teen drama, 13 Reasons Why, are both joining Johanna Block‘s directorial debut, the indie Who Am I?, from Adam Faze‘s studio FAZE. The cast already includes Odessa A’zion, Gideon Adlon, Hari Nef, Otmara Marrero, Cliff Powell, Ava McCoy, and Isabella Salimpour.
Want to know when the movies above go in front of camera? Below the Line‘s Production Listings has the 4-1-1 on all that and more.
Time for some television with the latest cancellation and renewal news — Fox has canceled The Moodys after two seasons, but HBO Max has renewed the ballroom competition series, Legendary, for a third season.
HBO Max has also tapped Magic Mike star Adam Rodriguez to act as a mentor and exec. producer on another unscripted competition series, tentatively called, The Real Magic Mike! Beginning production next month in Las Vegas, the series comes from the producers of the original Magic Mike film franchise and live shows with the film’s star Channing Tatum and Director Steven Soderbergh among the show’s exec. producers.
In exec. news, David Nevins is in talks to oversee Paramount+‘s drama content after leaving the role as CBS‘s Chief Content Officer.
A bit of production news from the new CBS series, NCIS: Hawai’i, which landed on the tropical island of Oahu Wednesday to begin filming its first season, which will debut in the fall on Monday nights at 10 pm. But first, the cast gave a traditional Hawaiian blessing to pay respects to the Hawaiian culture hosting the shoot. Stars Vanessa Lachey, Noah Mills, Jason Antoon, Yasmine Al-Bustami and Tori Anderson were joined by the show’s producers in a ceremony officiated by Kahu Ramsay Taum, which also included traditional royal maile leis, the Oli Aloha chant and the Pule Ho’oku’u prayer.
Somehow, we overlooked the news last week that Disney+ had greenlit a musical limited series based on its blockbuster hit, Beauty and the Beast, that will act as a prequel to the 2017 live action movie. Josh Gad and Luke Evans would be reprising their roles as Lefou and Gaston. Liesl Tommy will direct the first episode that will introduce Briana Middleton‘s Tilly to the cast with Gad acting as co-showrunner with Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz (Once Upon a Time).
We’re now forced to go into lightning round mode…
Alissa Neubauer, long-time producer of the recently-finished CBS series Mom has been set as the showrunner for the second season of the Fox series, Call Me Kat.
Chris Lowell has joined the cast of Hilary Duff and Hulu‘s planned How I Met Your Mother spin-off series, called (what else?), How I Met Your Father.
Jack Huston, who starred on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, has joined the Amazon drama series, Expats.
Almost Famous’ breakout star Patrick Fugit is joining the HBO Max true crime limited series, Love and Death, currently starring Elizabeth Olsen and Jesse Plemons.
Lastly, the STARZ prequel series, Dangerous Liaisons, has added an impressive cast that includes Lesley Manville, Carice Van Houten, Paloma Faith, Michael McElhatton, Kosar Ali, Nathanael Saleh, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Hilton Pelser, and more, joining the already-announced series leads Alice Englert and Nicholas Denton. The reimagining on the Pierre Choderlos de Laclos book of the same name tells the origin story of the Marquise de Merteuil (Englert) and the Vicomte de Valmont (Denton) when they meet as passionate young lovers in Paris on the eve of revolution. Leonora Lonsdale directs the first four episodes in the series created and written by Harriet Warner, who also serves as executive producer. The series is produced by Lionsgate Television and Playground along with Barney Reisz. Other writers include Coline Abert, James Dormer, and Rita Kalnejais.
Earlier this week, NEON released the first trailer for the intriguing Nicolas Cage drama, Pig, which has the Oscar-winning actor playing a truffle hunter who lives alone in the Oregonian wilderness must return to his past in Portland in search of his beloved foraging pig after she is kidnapped. Directed by Michael Sarnoski, the movie will be released on July 16.
Earlier today, Roadside Attractions released the trailer for Reinaldo Marcus Green‘s Joe Bell, starring Mark Wahlberg, which debuted at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and will be released on July 23. Green previously directed Monsters and Men as well as the upcoming King Richard, starring Will Smith, and for this one, he directs the script by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry, the Oscar-winning team who wrote Brokeback Mountain. In the movie, Wahlberg plays a father from Oregon, who pays tribute to his gay teenage son Jadin (newcomer Reid Miller) by embarking on a self-reflective walk across America to speak his heart to heartland citizens about the real and terrifying costs of bullying. The film also stars Connie Britton and Gary Sinise.
Debuting on Apple TV+ on November 12 is The Shrink Next Door, the film based on a true story starring Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd, the former playing Marty and the latter as Dr. Ike, who turns Marty’s life around with therapy but then tries to take it over.