How I Met Your Mother creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have signed a rich overall pact with 20th Century Fox TV. The duo's new deal is a three-year, eight-figure mega-deal that keeps them on HIMYM through a potential season eight and starts the ball rolling on new development projects.
First on the new-project list is a sitcom from Mother scribes Kourtney Kang and Joe Kelly about a couple who are dating and mulling the next stage of their relationship. Bays and Thomas are on board to exec produce.
"It feels like a logical extension of How I Met Your Mother, with a couple at the center of it, instead of being about the single life," Thomas said, according to Variety. "We grew up writing Mother, and now we can figure out the next chapter of the story."
Bays, says The Hollywood Reporter, added, "The new show is similar tonally to HIMYM and investigates the next chapter, the next stage of adulthood."
"We're not taking our eye off How I Met Your Mother," Thomas said. "But it's enough of a well-oiled machine."
"I would have signed them to a ten-year overall deal," 20th Century Fox TV chairman Dana Walden said, according to Variety. "There really is nothing more gratifying for a studio person than starting with writers at the beginning of their career and watching them blossoming into extraordinary showrunners. Taking a meeting with them is a high point of any day."
UTA-repped Bays and Thomas landed at 20th some eight years ago when the twentysomething writers headed to Hollywood after a five-year stint on Late Show With David Letterman.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
Twentieth Century Fox Television has signed a deal with xXx director Rob Cohen valued in the mid-six-figure range. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal calls for Cohen to develop, executive produce, direct and possibly co-write a drama series targeted for fall 2003. Cohen is no stranger to TV, having directed Miami Vice, the 1980s action series about two undercover Miami police detectives. Twentieth TV president Dana Walden said of Cohen, "If you look at the work he's done on the feature side over the past five years, he is...an FBC (FOX Broadcasting Company) 'wish list' kind of director."
Liza Minnelli and husband David Gest, who recently adopted a three-year-old girl named Serena, plan to adopt three more children, Ananova.com reports. The couple will reveal their plans on tonight's edition of Liquid News on BBC Choice--from the dining room of their New York home. Minnelli and Gest will co-star in their own reality series titled Liza and David, set to air later this year on the VH1 music channel.
Hugh Grant will play adventurer Phileas Fogg with Jackie Chan as his eccentric butler in Twentieth Century Fox's remake of the 1956 adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days. According to the UK's The Sun, filming on the project is set to begin in January. The original starred David Niven.
The giant-screen release of Apollo 13 took in $183,090 in ticket sales from 18 IMAX venues across the United States and Canada from Friday through Sunday, Variety reports. With just a nine percent drop since its Sept. 20 opening weekend grosses, the film has already exceeded Universal Pictures' expectations for the IMAX format, which costs the studio about $2-3 million per film.
Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami, who was to have introduced his film Ten at the New York Film Festival Sunday, was forced to cancel his participation when he failed to obtain a visa. According to The Associated Press, the State Department said Iranians are subject to an extensive security review due to heightened security following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Kiarostami, whose film Taste of Cherry won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1997, has been to the New York Film Festival twice and was the subject of a retrospective in 1996.
It's Big Brother, with celebs. The WB network is working on a new reality series titled The Surreal Life, in which TV cameras will follow the lives of has-been and never-quite-were celebrities living together under one roof. According to Variety, cast members include rapper turned preacher M.C. "U Can't Touch This" Hammer, Webster star Emmanuel Lewis, The Facts of Life's Mindy Cohn and Motley Crue's Vince Neil. The series, originally set to air this month, was pushed back to midseason so producers could cast it.
Freddie Prinze Jr., a nanny? That's right. Prinze will make an appearance on the NBC comedy Friends this season as a male nanny hired by Ross and Rachel for their new baby. The episode will most likely air during one of the "sweeps" months, which include November, February, May and July.
The major studios are taking a hard look at their television budgets as the economic downturn that has shaken the broadcast networks since the Sept. 11 attacks continues to take its toll.
The television industry has been deeply affected by the tremendous loss of advertising revenue due to both the 24-hour news coverage and the postponement of the fall premiere lineup. Sony, 20th Century Fox, AOL Time Warner and the Walt Disney Co. are among the top studios who have been forced to cut back on production budgets.
Fox, one of the industry's top suppliers of primetime fare, with at least two dozen series set to air this season across six broadcast networks, has asked producers to cut 2 percent of their production budgets, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. Peter Chernin, News Corp. president and chief operating officer, estimated Fox's television affiliates took a $100 million hit in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"This is an extraordinary time, and like everyone else in the industry, we need to take appropriate measures that ensure our company's long-term viability and protect our valuable assets," Dana Walden, president of 20th Century Fox Television told The Reporter.
AOL Time Warner and Walt Disney Co., who had already begun their cost-cutting process before the attacks, have had to cut their bottom line even more. Sony Pictures Entertainment, as well, is getting pressure from their top brass in Tokyo to evaluate their budgetary priorities.
The budget concerns come from the fact that the major television networks are cutting spending on current shows and projects in development for next year. Networks that once chipped in for guest stars and location shoots for episodic series are now leaving those costs entirely to the studios. The networks are also making fewer big commitments to projects in development.
The continuing threat of terrorist activities, including the current anthrax scare at NBC and other media companies, isn't helping the situation.
CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves, whose network has seriously been affected by the twice cancellation of the Primetime Emmy Awards, told The Reporter, "There's a general malaise out there...Right now people are having trouble planning marketing campaigns, and that is what's causing a slowdown in the [advertising] marketplace and adding to the feeling of uncertainty across the business."
In an unprecedented decision, NBC has announced they are pushing back their heavily promoted premiere week of new shows one week from Sept. 17 to Sept. 24.
"In light of the recent tragic events in our country, NBC has decided to postpone the premieres of the network's fall primetime programs...Further developments could alter this plan," the network said in a brief statement, Reuters reported.
The other major networks including ABC and CBS were also contemplating the postponement of their fall shows due to the heavy news coverage on all the stations and were taking things hour by hour. They are waiting to see how the aftermath of Tuesday's attacks unfold before making any long-term decisions about programming.
"We're on the fence right now," CBS Television CEO Leslie Moonves told Variety of his network's view on whether to delay the season's start. "We're looking at all the pros and cons. I could give you 10 reasons why we should delay it and 10 reasons why we shouldn't."
But CBS's quick decision to postpone the Primetime Emmy Awards was an easy one.
"Nobody wants to watch a sitcom today, and that's the primary reason why we didn't want the Emmys to take place this week. It just doesn't fit with how everyone is feeling. But there comes a certain point where you do have to look at moving on. At the moment, things are minute by minute and subject to change, but we're thinking about putting on our schedule as planned on Monday." Moonves told The Hollywood Reporter.
CBS will be making at least one change--they will not be showing a sneak preview of The Ellen Show as planned next week. The hope is to launch the show Sept. 24, especially if the Emmys, which Ellen DeGeneres will host, can be rescheduled Sept. 23.
ABC had actually decided to delay their fall lineup a week, inside sources told Variety. But the network re-evaluated the decision and planned to debut some new shows next week, particularly if Monday Night Football were to go forward. Now it's unclear what will happen, as the NFL has announced that all 15 games scheduled this weekend have been canceled.
League spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press there were several reasons involved, including the problems in air travel and the trauma to the New York Giants, Jets and the Washington Redskins. It has not yet been decided whether to reschedule the weekend's games or go with a 15-game season.
Of the smaller networks, the WB will be keeping to their Friday night premieres after affiliates urged it to resume entertainment programming.
"We feel very strongly that to disrupt our schedule completely further reinforces the sense of disruption in people's lives," WB Entertainment president Jordan Levin told Variety. "We don't want to contribute to the terrorists' desire to create chaos."
Fox Network is in a different situation since many of their new fall shows were to be debuting in a few weeks, after the World Series. However, now that Major League Baseball has postponed all the games until Thursday, Fox could be looking at bowing their post-baseball season premieres during November sweeps.
Too much reality?
As well as deciding on the fall schedules, the networks are also combing through their new shows to look for anything considered inappropriate in light of the terrorist attacks.
In particular, the pilot of the new CBS show The Agency, which focuses on the CIA, makes reference to terrorist Osama bin Laden as the mastermind behind a plot to blow up Harrods department store in London.
CBS execs will not air the pilot next week--or most likely ever--but will show another episode, making a few adjustments for continuity purposes. Promotions for the series have been pulled.
Agency executive producer Shaun Cassidy told Variety, "The world's a very different place today than it was. We will have to make some adjustments."
Also Fox has temporarily pulled its promo spots for its upcoming series 24, starring Kiefer Sutherland as a CIA agent who has 24 hours to stop a group of terrorists from assassinating a presidential candidate.
The pilot to 24, which is produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Imagine TV, includes an explosion of a jumbo jet. But Fox believes the show focuses more on the relationship between the main character and his family than it does on any terrorism and that the assassination attempt is far different from what happened in the real world this week.
"The storyline is not at all related to the events going on right now," a Fox source told Variety "We don't see it as a problematic situation. But we'll keep our fingers on the pulse of the country to see where we are a month from now." The drama isn't scheduled to bow until late October.
"We've all been bombarded with these images over the past 24 hours of real life, and it's hard not to want in some way to contribute to the well-being of our country," 20th Century Fox TV president Dana Walden told The Hollywood Reporter.
"Our responsibility is to try and be sensitive to what's going on in the world without censoring our writers to the point where they feel like they're no longer able to write the shows they've created. Each of our creators feels a responsibility to be sensitive and to do whatever possible not to be disrespectful."
He's baaaack! "Home Improvement" alumnus Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who viewers saw grow up on the hit ABC sitcom, has signed a six-figure deal with 20th Century Fox TV to star in a primetime series for the network, Daily Variety reports.
Whether he'll appear in another comedy or a drama is still up in the air, but word is that the former child star is leaning toward a drama. And if you ask a Fox exec, Thomas is more than capable of making the switch.
"Jonathan has tremendous range," 20th Century Fox TV Co-President Dana Walden told Variety. "He's proven in his work on 'Home Improvement' and his new features that he can play both lighter and more dramatic roles."
Now a student at Harvard, Thomas spent seven seasons on "Home Improvement" playing Tim Allen's middle son, Randy Taylor. His recent work includes "Common Ground," a made-for-TV movie in which he plays a gay student, and a memorable guest-starring stint on "Ally McBeal" last season. His film credits include "Tom and Huck," "Man of the House," "Wild America" and "I'll Be Home for Christmas."