As we reported earlier this week citing the Financial Times, CORE Media Group is exploring a sale of Elvis Presley Enterprises, including the Graceland mansion, as well as Muhammad Ali Enterprises. There had been no official comment on the potential sale until now. Deadline has obtained exclusively a statement from the Presley family about the development. “Our family enjoys a strong working relationship with CORE and is supportive of their process,” the statement says. “Lisa [Marie Presley] will maintain her interest in EPE and ownership of Graceland Mansion and looks forward to whatever opportunities enable the best long-term interests of the family.” Lisa Marie Presley owns 15% of EPE, which manages the assets of the Elvis Presley estate, including the 100-acre property in Memphis, Tennessee. CORE’s predecessor, CKX, bought the other 85% in 2005. (The Muhammad Ali family retains 20% ownership in MAE.) The Presley and Ali assets are estimated to fetch more than $200 million but CORE is not dead set to sale and may retain the properties if it is not satisfied with offers.
As expected given its success overseas and the incredible amounts of hype in the US, Star Trek Into Darkness easily made it to the top of the box office charts in the States this weekend. But though it handily knocked Iron Man 3 from the throne, it wasn’t quite such an impressive launch for the Trek sequel, as it scored $70.5 million, with $84 million if you include early openings according to studio estimates.Tony Stark and co proved that they’ve still got pulling power, taking home $35.1 million in second and blasting past $1 billion at the worldwide box office. The Great Gatsby was down one place to third with $23.4 million, while Pain And Gain also slipped a spot to fourth and $3.1 million. With no new family entertainment competition, DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods impressively jumped back up two places to fifth with $2.75 million.Jackie Robinson biopic 42 fell to sixth, earning $2.73 million, with Oblivion in seventh taking in $2.2 million. Mud clung to eighth place, adding $2.16 million while Peeples sank to ninth and $2.15 million. Rounding out the top 10, we have The Big Wedding, which made $1.1 million.To see Benedict Cumberbatch take on Robert Downey Jr in a box office brawl, head to Box Office Mojo.
How would hit ABC comedy Modern Family look and sound like if it aired on cable? Co-creator Steve Levitan offers a peek in a promo for the Emmy-winning series’ upcoming off-network launch on USA Network in September. The video, written by Levitan, was a highlight at today’s USA upfront presentation, where Modern Family, its cast and Levitan were the main attraction. Enjoy and keep in mind that the video is the result of what I hear were 17 cuts to tone the original down and make it suitable for public viewing. WARNING: foul language.
It might not seem like the most surprising news, but after the prequels were largely shot in Australia (with a few things filmed here), Star Wars Episode VII under J.J. Abrams’ direction will be coming back to the franchise’s ancestral home: the UK.There are no details as to where specifically Abrams and his cast and crew will be working, but depending on availability, the likes of Shepperton, Leavesden and Pinewood could all be under consideration alongside a few other choices."We’ve devoted serious time and attention to revisiting the origins of Star Wars as inspiration for our process on the new movie, and I’m thrilled that returning to the UK for production and utilizing the incredible talent there can be a part of that," Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in statement picked up by The Wrap. "Speaking from my own longstanding connection to the UK with films like Raiders Of The Lost Ark, Empire Of The Sun and recently War Horse, it’s very exciting to be heading back."Abrams will work from Michael Arndt’s script (assuming he’s finished in time) and Disney wants the film complete for a spring 2015 release. While no official statements have been released, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher are all expected to appear to hand the new trilogy over to a fresh cast. The Mouse House also seems confident it can have spin-off films in cinemas between the main new trilogy releases, but nothing has been confirmed just yet.
Fox Picks Up Andy Samberg & Chris Meloni Comedies, ‘Us & Them’ And ‘Enlisted’, Almost Doubles New Series Volume
Having just ordered its new drama series for next season, Fox also has made its comedy pickups, ordering four new shows in addition to the previously ordered Dads, executive produced by Seth MacFarlane. They are the Andy Samberg starrer, now titled Brooklyn Nine-Nine; Surviving Jack starring Chris Meloni; Enlisted starring Geoff Stults; and Us And Them starring Jason Ritter and Alexis Bledel. All have received 13-episode pickups. Additionally, the order for the Seth Green-Giovanni Ribisi starrer Dads, originally for 6 episodes, has now been upped to 13. The new comedies join newly picked up dramas Rake, Gang Related, Sleepy Hollow, and Almost Human. That is five new comedy series and four dramas, almost double the number of new scripted series Fox picked up last year (three comedies, two dramas). With American Idol on its last legs, the network is clearly stocking up on the scripted side and expanding its push in live-action comedy. Studio-wise, four of the new shows came from Fox sibling 20th TV, two each from Warner Bros. and Sony and one from Universal TV.
Fox’s four new half-hour series choices came out of the five half-hour pilots that had been in contention from the get-go. Over the past week or so, the fifth, To My Future Assistant, began to fade as I hear it came in below exceptions. Meanwhile, Surviving Jack (formerly I Suck At Girls) has been steadily rising, buoyed by what I hear were stellar testing results for Meloni. The former Law & Order: SVU star originally turned down the project, and it took a lot of effort on the part of the producers to get him to do it. It was all worth it as the actor helped secure the pilot a series pickup. Also playing in the pilot’s favor is the fact that Surviving Jack comes from veteran comedy showrunner Bill Lawrence. It is shaping up to be a strong pickup season for Lawrence whose NBC’s comedy pilot Undateable also looks very good to get a series order, along with Second Floor on TBS. Fun fact: Fox is reuniting Cougar Town co-creators Lawrence and Kevin Biegel, who is behind another newly picked up comedy series, Enlisted.
Steven Spielberg’s follow-up to "Lincoln" has been revealed. The director has chosen to develop an adaptation of the autobiography "American Sniper" written by Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Bradley Cooper will both star in the movie and will act as a producer. This Spielberg announcement comes after Cooper decided to pull out of "Jane Got A Gun" due to his busy schedule. It’s understandable why Cooper would want to stick with this project now that Spielberg is involved.
Jason Hall wrote the script for "American Sniper," and Spielberg, Cooper and Andrew Lazar are slated to produce it. THR writes that the film is slated to begin shooting in first-quarter 2014.
Kyle’s autobiography tells the story of how he became the SEAL with the highest number of American sniper kills. He was killed in February when a fellow veteran shot him in a shooting range.
It’s pilot screening time. CBS just started viewing its pilots, with the other networks slated to follow over the next few days. Feedback from the screenings and extensive focus group testing inform the networks’ series pickup decisions and are capable of catapulting a pilot from an also-run to frontrunner status overnight, as it happened with CBS’ Blue Bloods three years ago. Here is what I hear as of this weekend, with information still missing on a few late pilots.
Drama Lucky 7 may live up to its name. The blue-collar ensemble about gas station employees who win the lottery seemed a little off brand for ABC and its glitzy dramas. But I hear the project based on a British format, which hadn’t drawn much attention, came in above expectations, making it a contender in what’s shaping to be a very tight race. It’s tight because two slots have already been penciled in for Marvel‘s S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Once Upon A Time spinoff, whose early footage I hear ABC brass liked. Also boosted by corporate synergy is major contender Big Thunder, based on the Disney ride. Word is ABC may choose one of its two soapy pilots, Westside and Betrayal, with Westside having the edge at the moment. (However, Betrayal‘s David Zabel has two irons in the fire as he is also behind Lucky 7.) The gothic soap Gothica has cooled off a bit while high-concept The Returned, about deceased coming back to life as their old selves, is heating up after another great pilot directing performance by Charles McDougall who, in his typical fashion went over on filming days (by 4 I hear) but delivered a strong pilot. Among the character procedurals, Murder In Manhattan, Doubt, Killer Women and Influence all seem in the mix.
Bad Management, the untitled Adam Goldberg project, and Back In The Game (Cullen Bros.) are still getting solid traction on the comedy side, along with female starring vehicles Trophy Wives (Malin Akerman) and Rebel Wilson’s Super Fun Night. I hear Super Fun Night is not exactly where ABC brass want it to be and will likely require tweaking but the network isn’t ready to pass up the opportunity to have hot Wilson on its air. Most of ABC’s comedies seem to be still in contention, including Spy, Mixology and Middle Age Rage, with John Leguizamo’s King John holding down the fort on the multi-camera side.
NBC appears very pleased with their comedy pilots, including the pilot for the Michael J. Fox project, which already has a 22-episode order. I hear the network brass feel their half-hour development is so strong, they may bet heavily on new series and hardly keep any of the existing comedy series (besides Parks & Recreation, of course). Among the NBC comedy pilots that are hot are About A Boy, Welcome to The Family, Family Guide (D.J. Nash); Greg Daniels’ Mr. Robinson starring Craig Robinson, the Sean Hayes starrer Sean Saves the World; Assistance starring Krysten Ritter and Alfred Molina; and Bill Lawrence’s Undateable. The Gates is a wild card, with the late John Mulaney pilot garnering promising early buzz.
The Blacklist continues to be super-hot on the drama side, with the untitled Rand Ravich in contention, along with JJ Abrams’ Believe. Despite bumpy production, which saw the departure of executive producer Katie Jacobs, I Am Victor seems to have a shot, maybe competing with another starring vehicle, Ironside. Also in the mix are the comic book-driven The Sixth Gun, the Chicago Fire cop drama spinoff, medical drama After Hours and the modern day Hatfields & McCoys.
The SAG-AFTRA National Board also today approved the layoff of 60 staffers beginning in May as the organization shutters 10 of its 25 offices. This reduction of its geographical footprint is surprising, considering that current SAG leadership came to power campaigning on a platform of spreading power outside Hollywood:
In other action, the board approved a fiscal year 2014 budget that will lead to a strategic restructuring of the union’s operations. The plan corrects a roughly $6 million structural deficit between revenue and expenses relating to pre-merger legacy costs of the prior organizations.
The restructuring process calls for the consolidation and closure of 10 of the union’s 25 offices nationwide, and will reduce staff by about 60 positions across the country. The staff reductions will begin in early May.
The moves are designed to position the union for strength and growth in major media markets and emerging production areas, and to ensure that institutional resources are focused on core operational functions and improved member services.
“This weekend, our leadership made several critical decisions confirming a strategic path that refocuses this organization on core principles. We have addressed a structural deficit that relates to legacy costs and positions the union for long-term health and power. These moves ensure that we can adapt to the evolving industries in which our members earn a living, and are better able to protect them wherever they work around the world,” White said.
Howard said: “Restructuring is a necessary step to ensure sound operating principles, fiscal resiliency, long-term sustainability and the realization of our mission to provide strong representation and efficient and effective member services far into the future.”
“This is a difficult undertaking and we are obligated to be wise stewards of the members’ resources while remaining laser-focused on our core union mission,” said Reardon. “We are a national union committed to excellent service in vibrant markets across the country. That won’t change.”
SAG-AFTRA will refocus its geographic footprint to maintain brick-and-mortar offices in 15 markets across the country, including eight major markets, and seven broadcast/emerging markets that together represent over 93 percent of the union’s membership. The eight major markets are Los Angeles, New York, Washington-Mid Atlantic, Chicago, San Francisco, New England, Philadelphia, and Miami. The seven broadcast/emerging markets are Dallas-Ft. Worth, Seattle, Atlanta, Nashville, Hawaii, Ohio-Pittsburgh and Missouri Valley. The geographic restructuring process will take place over the next several months.
The plan calls for the creation of a member review committee that will work with the professional staff to review the impact of the transition and report back to the Board in April 2014.
White says that office closures will not mean reduced core services or scaled-back representation in the long-term.
“We have to think differently about how we move forward in the world to support over 165,000 professionals who work in front of a camera or behind a microphone around the globe,” he added.
The national board met April 20 and 21 in Los Angeles. The meeting was adjourned at 3 p.m.
Disneyland reps insist the closures of Space Mountain, Soarin’ Over California, and The Matterhorn are unrelated to the safety of park guests. But the shutdowns coming in the wake of a CAL/OSHA safety citation could spook some patrons of the Happiest Place On Earth, where last November a contractor employee was seriously injured in a fall while performing maintenance on Space Mountain. CAL/OSHA issued its inspection citation of the incident on Friday, including penalties totaling $234K for violations ranging from out of date fire extinguishers to the lack of sufficient support lines and unsafe conditions involved in November’s accident. Saturday the attractions were voluntarily closed for review of internal safety protocols for employees and contractors, Disneyland Media Relations Director Suzi Brown told Deadline. The Matterhorn reopened Sunday but the other two rides remain closed.
It would appear that Tom Felton just can’t get enough of World War II at the moment. He’s got soldier saga Grace And Danger awaiting release and now he’s signed onto downed pilots tale Ghosts Of The Pacific alongside Garret Dillahunt and Jake Abel.The film recounts the incredible journey of pilot Harold Dixon (Dillahunt), bombardier Tony Pastula (Felton), and radioman Gene Aldrich (Abel) – virtual strangers assigned to a scouting mission on January 16, 1942. When they are forced to ditch their plane, the men are left with no food, water, or supplies; only a four by eight-foot yellow life raft to keep them afloat on a dangerous ocean.American Film Company, which aims to blend historically faithful stories with dramatic action, is behind this one, with company president Brian Falk making his directorial debut. Shooting is set to kick off next week at Baja Studios (most famously the home of James Cameron’s Titanic).It’s certainly a decent cast – Dillahunt in particular tends to be a secret weapon of pure acting ability whenever he crops up on screen, so hopefully the results will be impressive.Felton has the aforementioned Grace And Danger awaiting a release date plus Therese and Belle making their way through post-production. Dillahunt stars on US sitcom Raising Hope and finds time to appear in a variety of movies. He has The Scribbler and Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years A Slave up next. Abel, meanwhile, is in The Host and will reprise the arrogant Luke for Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters.