The new fall pilots haven't even premiered yet, but already the networks are looking forward to their next big task: finding the right pilots and scripts to order for the 2013-2014 season. Development season is well underway and has been for the past few weeks — although this season is marked by a declaration from some networks (namely ABC and NBC) that the typically order-happy suits would not be as quick to bulk up their pilot orders this year. In other words, less is more.
Most of the majors have already made their first-round choices for specific projects, and the trends that have emerged seem to be all about big-name attachments (e.g. Vince Vaughn, Jodie Foster, Ryan Reynolds), period dramas (e.g. Aztec empire, Cold War America, 1890s Europe), international transplants (from Israel, England and Scandinavia) and — in an interestingly-revived yet well-worn trend — book adaptations (including Dracula and two Sleepy Hollow reboots).
Here's what ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, NBC and more have coming down the '13-'14 pipeline so far:
— Dumb F*ck: Single-camera comedy about an average Joe and his brilliant wife who move in with her intelligent yet emotionally stunted family of geniuses; written by Hank Nelken (Saving Silverman), executive produced by Vin Di Bona, Bruce Gersh, Susan Levison and Shaleen Desai.
— Burns & Cooley: Medical procedural about two New York neurosurgeons who compete as they strive to be the top in all aspects of their lives; written by Meredith Philpott (Awkward), exec produced by Matt Gross (Body Of Proof).
— Founding Fathers: Drama about a war veteran whose Texas hometown is in the hands of a militia group led by his older brother; written by Rich D'Ovidio (Thir13en Ghosts), produced by Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Dan McDermott.
— Untitled McG Project: Retelling of Romeo and Juliet, revolving around two rival families fighting for control over Venice, California; written by Byron Balasco (Detroit 1-8-7), produced by McG (The OC, Supernatural, Nikita).
— Untitled Kurtzman/Orci Project: Drama about a mysterious game; written by Noah Hawley (The Unusuals), produced by Heather Kadin, Alex Kurtzman and Bob Orci.
— Dracula: 1890s-set period piece about the iconic vampire; written by Cole Haddon, produced by Tony Krantz and Colin Callender; starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors).
— The Blacklist: Drama about an international criminal who surrenders himself and helps the government hunt down his former cohorts; written by Jon Bokenkamp, exec produced by John Davis, John Fox and John Eisendrath.
— Hench: Based on the comic about a man who becomes a temp for super villains; written by Alexandra Cunningham (Desperate Housewives), exec produced by Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey (Prime Suspect).
— Cleopatra: Period drama about the Egyptian queen Cleopatra; written by Michael Seitzman (Americana), exec produced by Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Dan McDermott.
— Pariah: Drama inspired by Freakonomics about a rogue academic who uses economic theory to police San Diego; written by Kevin Fox (The Negotiator), exec produced by Kelsey Grammer, Stella Stolper and Brian Sher.
— After Hours/The Last Stand: Medical drama about Army doctors who work the night shift at a San Antonio hospital; revisited from last season; written by Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah.
— Untitled Parkes/MacDonald Project: Drama about an interpreter at the United Nations who works with diplomats and politicians from around the world; written by Tom Brady (Hell on Wheels), produced by Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Ted Gold.
— Untitled Charmelo/Snyder Project: New Orleans-set drama, described as a "sexy Southern Gothic thriller"; created by Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder (Ringer), exec produced by Peter Traugott and Rachel Kaplan.
— Untitled Rand Ravich Project: Drama-thriller following a secret service agent at the center of an international crisis in Washington, DC; created by Rand Ravich (Life), produced by Far Shariat.
— Island Practice: Based on the book Island Practice: Cobblestone Rash, Underground Tom, and Other Adventures Of A Nantucket Doctor, about an eccentric doctor with a controversial medical practice on an island off the coast of Washington; written by Amy Holden Jones (Mystic Pizza, Beethoven), produced by Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo and Oly Obst.
— The Brady Bunch: Reboot of the series, about a divorced Bobby Brady who re-marries a woman with children of her own; written by Mike Mariano (Raising Hope), co-developed and exec produced by Vince Vaughn (Sullivan & Son).
— A Welcome Grave: Based on the book series about a private investigator who comes under suspicion when a rival turns up dead.
— Backstrom: Based on the book series about a House-like detective who tries to change his self-destructive nature; written by Hart Hanson (Bones), produced by Leif G.W. Persson (novel) and Niclas Salomonsson.
— Ex-Men: Single-camera comedy about a young guy who moves into a short-term rental complex and befriends the other men who live there after being kicked out by their wives; written and directed by Rob Greenberg; starring Chris Smith and Kal Penn.
— Sleepy Hollow: Contemporary reinterpretation of the Sleepy Hollow short story; written by Patrick Macmanus and Grant Scharbo, produced by Scharbo and Gina Matthews.
— Gun Machine: Based on an upcoming novel (of the same name) about a New York detective whose chance discovery of a stash of guns leads back to a variety of unsolved murders; written by Dario Scardapane (Trauma), produced by Warren Ellis (book author), Scardapane, Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope.
— Sleepy Hollow: Modern-day thriller based on the Sleepy Hollow short story, following Ichabod Crane and a female sheriff who solve supernatural mysteries; written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Fringe, Hawaii Five-0) and Phillip Iscove, produced by Heather Kadin and Len Wiseman.
— The Beach: Based on the 1996 novel and 2000 movie about a group of youths who try to start society over on a remote paradise; written by Andrew Miller (The Secret Circle).
— Hard Up: Single-camera comedy based on Israeli series about four twentysomething guys who are strapped for cash; written by Etan Frankel (Shameless), produced by John Wells.
— Lowe Rollers: Animated comedy about a struggling Titanic-themed casino in Las Vegas; written by Mark Torgove and Paul Kaplan (Outsourced) and Ash Brannon, produced by Ryan Reynolds, Jonathon Komack Martin, Steven Pearl and Allan Loeb.
— Untitled Chris Levinson Project: Cop drama about a detective who puts his life under surveillance when he begins to lose his memory; written by Chris Levinson (Touch), produced by Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope.
— Untitled Friend/Lerner Project: Drama set on an aircraft carrier following young naval officers and a female fighter pilot who tries to solve an onboard murder; written and produced by Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner (House).
— Untitled Ryan Reynolds Project: Half-hour comedy about a disgraced hotelier forced to manage a rundown airport hotel; written by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay (Clash of the Titans), produced by Ryan Reynolds, Allan Loeb, Jonathon Komack Martin and Steven Pearl.
— Untitled Jason Katims Project: Romantic comedy about a single female attorney; written by Jason Katims (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) and Sarah Watson.
— Getting On: U.S. adaptation of a British comedy about a group of nurses and doctors working in a women's geriatric wing of a run-down hospital; Big Love creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer to exec produce with Jane Tranter, Julie Gardner and Geoff Atkinson.
— Buda Bridge: Belgian-set crime drama about a woman who is found dead on a famous bridge in Brussels; written and directed by Michael R. Roskam (Bullhead), produced by Michael Mann (Luck) and Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad).
— Hello Ladies: Comedy about an oddball Englishman who chases women in Los Angeles; written, directed by and starring Stephen Merchant (The Office), produced by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (The Office).
— Angie's Body: Drama about a powerful woman at the head of a crime family; written by Rob Fresco (Heroes, Jericho), directed and executive produced by Jodie Foster, Fresco and Russ Krasnoff.
— Conquest: Period drama about Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, who clashes with the Aztec ruler Moctezuma II; written by Jose Rivera (The Motorcycle Diaries), produced by Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo.
— Low Winter Sun: Based on 2006 British miniseries about the aftermath that follows the murder of a cop by a fellow detective; written by Chris Mundy; James Ransone, Ruben Santiago Hudson and Athena Karkanis to star.
— Those Who Kill: Based on Danish series about a detective and forensics scientist who track down serial killers; written by Glen Morgan, produced by Brian Grazer, Francie Calfo, Peter Bose and Jonas Allen, directed by Joe Carnahan.
— Untitled LaGravenese/Goldwyn Project: Legal thriller about an attorney who discovers new evidence that re-opens a sensational murder case; written by Richard LaGravenese, directed by Tony Goldwyn, exec produced by David Manson; Marin Ireland to star as female lead.
— The Americans: Period drama about two KGB spies posing as Americans in Washington, DC; created by Joe Weisberg, exec produced by Weisberg, Graham Yost, Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey; directed by Gavin O'Connor; Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich to star.
— The Bridge: Based on the Scandinavian series, about a murder investigation opened up after a dead body is discovered on a bridge connecting the United States and Mexico; written by Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid (Cold Case), produced by Carolyn Bernstein, Lars Blomgren and Jane Featherstone.
— Untitled Dr. Dre Project: One-hour drama about music and crime in Los Angeles; written by Sidney Quashie, exec produced by Dr. Dre.
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[Photo Credit: ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, The CW]
As with seemingly every other tentpole release to hit the multiplex this summer the action thriller Cowboys & Aliens is based on a comic book – albeit a lesser-known one. It’s directed by Jon Favreau whose previous comic-book adaptations Iron Man and Iron Man 2 proved how much better those films can be when they’re grounded in character. Unfortunately his latest effort is grounded not in character but a hook an alt-history scenario best expressed in the language of the average twelve-year-old: “Like wouldn’t it be awesome if like a bunch of 1870s cowboys had to fight a bunch of crazy aliens with exoskeletons and spaceships and super-advanced weapons?”
Like perhaps. The hook was compelling enough to get someone to pony up a reported $160 million to find out and the result is a film in which the western and science-fiction genres don’t so much blend as violently collide. After the wreckage is cleared both emerge worse for wear.
Daniel Craig stars as Jake Lonergan a stranger who awakens in the New Mexico Territory with a case of amnesia a wound in his side and a strange contraption strapped to his wrist. After dispatching a trio of bandits with Bourne-like efficiency he rides to the nearby town of Absolution where he stumbles on what appears to be an elaborate Western Iconography exhibit presented by the local historical preservation society. There’s the well-meaning town Sheriff Taggart (Keith Carradine) struggling to enforce order amidst lawlessness; the greedy rancher Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who really runs things; his debaucherous cowardly son Percy (Paul Dano); the timid saloonkeeper Doc (Sam Rockwell) who’s going to stand up for himself one of these days; the humble preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown) dispensing homespun spiritual advice; et al.
Jake of course has his own part to play – the fugitive train-robber – as we discover when his face shows up on a wanted poster and a sneering Dolarhyde fingers him for the theft of his gold. The only character who doesn’t quite conform to type is Ella (Olivia Wilde) who as neither a prostitute nor some man’s wife – the traditional female occupations in westerns – immediately arouses suspicion.
Jake is arrested and ordered to stand trial in Federal court but before he can be shipped off a squadron of alien planes appears in the sky besieging Absolution and making off with several of its terrified citizenry. In the course of the melee Jake’s wrist contraption wherever it came from reveals itself to be quite useful in defense against the alien invaders. Thrown by circumstances into an uneasy alliance with Dolarhyde he helps organize a posse to counter the otherworldly threat – and bring back the abductees if possible.
Cowboys & Aliens has many of the ingredients of a solid summer blockbuster but none in sufficient amounts to rate in a summer season crowded with bigger-budget (and better-crafted) spectacle. For a film with five credited screenwriters Cowboys & Aliens’ script is sorely lacking for verve or imagination. And what happened to the Favreau of Iron Man? The playful cheekiness that made those films so much fun is all but absent in this film which takes itself much more seriously than any film called Cowboys & Aliens has a right to. Dude you’ve got men on horses with six-shooters battling laser-powered alien crab people. Lighten up.
Craig certainly looks the part of the western anti-hero – his only rival in the area of rugged handsomeness is Viggo Mortensen – but his character is reduced to little more than an angry glare. And Wilde the poor girl is burdened with loads of clunky exposition. The two show promising glimpses of a romantic spark but their relationship remains woefully underdeveloped. Faring far better is Ford who gets not only the bulk of the film’s choicest lines but also its only touching subplot in which his character’s adopted Indian son played by Adam Beach quietly coaxes the humanity out of the grizzled old man.
Tom Hanks, who directed the 1996 romantic comedy That Thing You Do!, said he is quitting directing, Ananova.com reports. "It takes a substantial amount of time out of you. I'm still in my child rearing years and I'd like to be around a little bit more--not only physically but also mentally for my family, "he told the UK's Radio 1 while promoting his latest film, Road to Perdition. "As soon as you say you're going to direct a motion picture, the risks just keep piling," he added. "The stuff of your worst nightmares, you know."
No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani married Bush guitarist-frontman Gavin Rossdale in London Saturday. According to People.com, the ceremony took place at St. Paul's Church in the city's Covent Gardens. Stefani wore a traditional white gown designed by not-so-traditional designer John Galliano, while Rossdale wore a traditional British morning suit. The couple's Hungarian sheep dog Winston, also the guest of honor, wore pink and purple flowers. The couple plans on having a ceremony Sept. 28 in Los Angeles.
Angelina Jolie officially dropped Voight as her last name on Sept. 12, according to The Associated Press. Although her legal name was Angelina Jolie Voight, the actress is professionally known as Angelina Jolie. The Tomb Raider star has been involved in a public feud with her father, Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight. Jolie also petitioned to legally change the name of her son, whom she recently adopted in Cambodia, to Maddox Chivan Thornton Jolie.
Chicken Run scribe Karey Kirkpatrick will co-adapt the screenplay of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Variety reports. Adams had penned his own feature adaptation but died last May. The project will be helmed by Austin Powers director Jay Roach, who will also serve as a producer on the project. Hitchhiker has previously been made into a radio series, TV series and video game.
With The Alamo forgotten, director Ron Howard has set his sights on The Serpent and the Eagle, the story of how Spanish conqueror Cortez flattened the Aztec nation and pilfered its wealth with the help of an Aztec princess-turned-slave, according to Variety. But Howard, who is still producing The Alamo with his Imagine partner Brian Grazer, still has not chosen his next directing project.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said Monday that primetime TV is getting straighter. The gay activist group says the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters in lead, supporting or recurring roles on network TV has dropped from 20 last year to just seven in this coming season, Reuters reports. Among the shows featuring LGBT this fall are ER, Will & Grace, NYPD Blue, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dawson's Creek and the new hospital drama MDs.
Get ready for 24 Hours of Love. MTV2 will give rocker Courtney Love control of the music network for a full 24 hours starting at 8 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, the AP reports. According to the MTV2, Love will play videos, invite her friends and do whatever she pleases, including sleep. An MTV spokesman says the network will probably show snippets of her dozing.
Two years after the publication of J.K. Rowling's fourth Harry Potter book, The Goblet of Fire, there is still no word on when the fifth book will hit the stores. Originally scheduled to come out in July 2002, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. said Tuesday it was still unable to announce a date for the launch of Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. Since the June 1997 publication of Rowling's first in the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a book had been released every year. There are a total of seven books planned for the series.
The sequel to Charlie's Angels is looking to start shooting as early as spring 2002, producer Leonard Goldberg confirmed to Variety. "Depending on whether a strike happens, we should have the script in four to six weeks," Goldberg said. "We'll take it to the Angels for their perusal, and if they like it, Sony can sit down with them and make a deal." The film will reunite the girls--Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu and Cameron Diaz-along with the director McG. Barrymore will co-produce with Goldberg.
"Halloween" take 8
Seems we just can't get enough of Michael Myers. Dimension Films is getting ready to start production May 9 on Halloween 8 and has enlisted the talents of Busta Rhymes (Finding Forrester), Tyra Banks (Coyote Ugly) and Sean Patrick Thomas (Save the Last Dance). In the eighth installment of the ever-popular Halloween series, a group of teens return to the home of legendary serial killer Myers to launch a live Internet chat-and Michael is waiting for them to continue his killing spree. Dimension produced the last film, Halloween: H2O, which starred Jamie Lee Curtis, in 1998.
Trio gets "Scorched"
Woody Harrelson, Alicia Silverstone and Rachael Leigh Cook are in negotiations to star in the comedy, Scorched for director Gavin Grazer. The story revolves around two bank employees (Harrelson and Silverstone) in a small desert town, each of whom makes plans to rob the bank on the same weekend, as does a third employee. The catch? None of them know the other's intentions. Cook plays a disgruntled clothing store worker who plans to seek her own revenge on a millionaire. Production is slated to start at the end of May.
Ledger creates a "Monster"
Australian actor Heath Ledger, fresh off the upcoming A Knight's Tale, will most likely be replacing Wes Bentley (American Beauty) in Lions Gate Films' Monster Ball. Bentley dropped out of the project for undisclosed reasons. Ledger will join costars Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry in a story about Hank (Thornton) and his son (Ledger). Both work for the local prison, which gives Hank the opportunity to fall in love with the widow of an inmate who has been executed. She is unaware that Hank knew her husband; complications ensue. Production is slated to start May 24.
J.Lo hears the "Tick Tock"
Hot Jennifer Lopez is in talks to star in Tick Tock for Columbia Pictures. The script focuses on an amnesiac who awakens in the custody of the FBI as a prime suspect in an L.A. bombing. Not sure if he is being set up to take the fall or the actual bomber, he must help guide a young FBI agent (Lopez) through L.A. as they race to disarm other remaining explosives. If an actors' strike does not happen, the project will start production early fall. Lopez will be seen in the upcoming Angel Eyes.
Rappers "Wash" up
Rap masters Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg will star in an urban comedy, The Wash, as incompatible roommates who work together at a busy car wash. The two will also serve as executive producers and provide the soundtrack. Dr. Dre's bad boy protégé, Eminem, is set to make an appearance. Production starts May 7.
A family affair
Both the Douglas and Jones clans have set their sights on making Smoke and Mirrors. Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones will star, with Michael's older brother, Joel, co-producing with partner Kevin Brodie and Zeta-Jones' brother, David, under the Pro Star Filmmakers moniker. Even dad Kirk Douglas may play a sultan in the story of French illusionist Robert Houdin set in the 1850s. Film locations are being scouted in Morocco, Tunisia and Israel.
A martial arts "Monk"
Jean-Claude Van Damme will star in the independent martial arts actioner The Monk, where he plays a Shaolin monk who comes to America in search of his father and must battle an evil crime lord. But of course he does. Shooting is slated for a Nov. 1 start date.
Irons chooses his "Ladies" carefully
Jeremy Irons will star in And Now Ladies and Gentlemen, an English/French romantic thriller. Irons will play a criminally minded yachtsman/thief who falls for a French singer. Director Claude Lelouch originally wanted an American-he had Dustin Hoffman in mind at first, then later reworked the part for John Malkovich, who became interested in the project. But when Malkovich had to drop out because his next film, Ripley's Game, was pushed up due to the possible strikes, the part was rewritten once again to fit Englishman Irons.