Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

DEADLINE: Caitlin Doughty’s ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ In Works At Paramount TV 

Paramount TV and Anonymous Content are developing Caitlin Doughty’s bestselling memoir Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons From The Crematory as a pilot and potential series, with Nurse Jackie co-creator Evan Dunsky attached as writer and showrunner. Anonymous Content’s Kerry Kohansky-Roberts, Rosalie Swedlin and Alex Goldstone will serve as executive producers, and Doughty will serve as a consulting producer.

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes takes a behind-the-scenes look at Caitlin Doughty, a twentysomething mortician with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre who takes a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters — both living and very dead — Caitlin learns to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased. Now a licensed mortician with an alternative funeral practice, Caitlin argues that our fear of dying warps our culture and society, and she calls for better ways of dealing with death (and our dead).

“Caitlin is one of the most original literary voices of our day, and we take great pride in collaborating with her to create a show that explores her unique perspective on death with the same humorous and engaging style that defines her memoir,” said Amy Powell, President of Paramount Television. “We are also thrilled to be partnering with Evan and Anonymous Content on this project. Evan is an enormous talent, and it was clear from the moment he met Caitlin they were kindred spirits who share the same vision and passion for bringing this book to television.”

Said Anonymous Content’s Kerry Kohansky-Roberts: “Caitlin’s honest, self-effacing humor had us hooked. We knew after the first read that we wanted to be involved in bringing her fascinating journey to television, and have found the perfect partners in Evan and Paramount.”

Doughty, a licensed funeral director in Los Angeles, is the host and creator of web series Ask A Mortician and the collective Order of the Good Death. She’s repped  by Anna Sproul-Latimer of the Ross Yoon Agency and Jody Hotchkiss of Hotchkiss & Associates. Smoke Gets In Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory is published by W.W. Norton & Company.

 

The Dukes of Oxy by Guy Lawson

DEADLINE New Line Acquires Rolling Stone True Crime Saga ‘Dukes Of Oxy'; Michael De Luca, Ansel Elgort Attached

EXCLUSIVE: In what will be his first collaboration at New Line in a very long time, Michael De Luca is at the center of a deal for Dukes Of Oxy, an article in the April 23 issue of Rolling Stone about a pair of teen high school wrestlers from Florida who built a multimillion-dollar business smuggling OxyContin and other painkillers. The deal is coming together quickly for De Luca to produce the film with Ansel Elgort and Emily Gerson Saines (Temple Grandin). The hope is for Elgort, whose star launched with The Fault In Their Stars, to play one of the two drug dealers.

The Rolling Stone article was written by Guy Lawson, who also wrote the article that became the basis for Arms And The Dudes, the drama Todd Phillips is directing right now at Warner Bros with Miles Teller and Jonah Hill starring as two guys who got a government contract to arm America’s allies in Afghanistan.

For De Luca, this is the first major project for him to produce at New Line since he left the company after a storied run as production president who championed such films as Boogie Nights, Se7en, Rush Hour, Austin Powers and others. It’s the first project he has aligned without outside Universal Pictures since he left his post as president of production at Sony to make a Universal producing deal that returned him to the Fifty Shades Of Grey franchise. New Line chief Toby Emmerich was in the middle of this with Richard Brener. Both of them came up with De Luca at New Line.

Dukes Of Oxy is in its own way reminiscent of crime sagas like Goodfellas and The Wolf Of Wall Street, only here, the kingpins are impossibly young to have gone as far as they did before finally getting caught. Doug Dodd stumbled into this business with his best friend and wrestling partner Lance Barabas, who also became known as the Little General for his diminutive size and his determination to become a character out of Scarface. They began trafficking and figured things out along the way. Like sending pain pills in vitamin bottles and getting the money returned in stuffed teddy bears that had been hollowed out and filled with cash. When one of the guys got pulled over with drugs, they each faked back injuries so they got painkiller prescriptions so that if they were caught again, it would appear they had done nothing wrong. Mostly, they got into the game of transporting pain pills across the South while law enforcement focused on more serious drugs, and they made a fortune.

The plan is for Elgort to play Dodd, the more rational member of the team. Early on, Dodd turned to a relative who’d done time for dealing drugs and was given a handy set of rules that included not talking on the phone, not dealing with anybody they didn’t know, not using guns and cutting ties with anyone under state or federal investigation. As their empire grew, and they spent much time getting high on their own supply, the duo broke every one of these rules and eventually got caught when law enforcement began to crack down on the runaway problem of a black market for painkillers.

The deal was brokered by Hotchkiss and Associates on behalf of Lawson. Elgort is repped by CAA and Brookside Artist Management.

The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower

DEADLINE: Fox 21 TV Studios Lands White House Book ‘The Residence’ For Cable Drama Produced By Kevin Spacey & Megyn Kelly

In a very competitive bidding situation, Fox 21 Television Studios has optioned the book The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower about the relationship between the White House residence staff and the various First Families spanning several administrations.

The non-fiction book will be developed as a cable drama executive produced by Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti of Trigger Street. In her first foray into scripted TV producing, Fox News Anchor Megyn Kellyis attached as a co-executive producer. Andersen Brower, who covered President Obama’s first term for Bloomberg News and also worked as a CBS News staffer and Fox News producer, is attached as a technical consultant.

In the vein of hit British drama Downton Abbey, The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House, which is expected to debut at No.1 on the New York Times bestseller list this Sunday after selling out on Amazon, recounts some intimate upstairs/downstairs details from the staff in The White House through several administrations. That includes the Kennedys’ chic fashion-forward parties, Lyndon Johnson’s bizzare obsession with increasing shower pressure in the bathroom, Nancy Reagan keeping the pastry chef up all night to create a perfect dessert, George W. Bush playing horseshoes out back with the help, Hilary Clinton throwing a book at Bill in their bedroom during the Monica Lewinsky controversy, and the Obamas dancing to Mary J. Blige on their first night in the White House.

“This isn’t your typical portraiture of America’s first family, in fact it’s quite the opposite,” Brunetti said. “This is a compelling narrative about the men and women who make the White House run every day. There are so many interesting and wonderful stories to tell that are grounded and relatable, I think this will translate into a truly wonderful show.”

Spacey and Brunetti know a thing or two about cable dramas set in the White House as executive producers of hit Netflix series House of Cards, in which Spacey plays the U.S. president. The two quickly identified Residence and pitched the book to Fox 21 TV Studios president Bert Salke. “It was mind blowing and there were multiple bidders for the project,” Salke said. “The pages were absolutely compelling — there was an incredible scope that took you behind the scenes of history with the ordinary and extraordinary people who make it.”

A search for a writer for the project is underway, and it is expected to be shopped to cable networks shortly.

Trigger Street’s credits also include features Captain Phillips and The Social Network, HBO movie Recount and the Broadway production of The Iceman Cometh. The company is repped by CAA.  The book deal was brokered by Howard Yoon of Ross Yoon Agency along with Hotchkiss and Associates.

The Reluctant Psychic by Suzan Saxman and Perdita Finn

THE NEW YORK POST: Shonda Rhimes in deal with ‘Reluctant Psychic’

ABC Studios and Shonda Rhimes’ production company have picked up the rights to New York psychic Suzan Saxman’s memoir “The Reluctant Psychic” for a potential TV series.

Saxman, 53, — who grew up in Staten Island and now lives in Woodstock, NY — claims she has seen the spirits of the dead since she was a child. Though she initially tried to ignore her calling, she has since embraced her premonitions and does readings out of her upstate shop, The White Gryphon.

Her book, which was published in January by St. Martin’s Press and was featured in The Post tells the story of her journey as she tries to make sense of her family’s buried secrets and the readings of others’ destinies.

An ABC spokesperson confirmed the project is in the early stages of development with ShondaLand producing. Though Rhimes currently has three successful shows on ABC — “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” — the “Psychic” project is being developed at ABC Signature Studios, which sells programs to cable networks and alternative media platforms.

Saxman will not be involved in the TV projec

Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser

DEADLINE: ‘Fancy Nancy’ Books To Be Developed As Animated TV Movie & Series By Disney Jr.

By Denise Petski

Disney Junior has optioned Fancy Nancy, the New York Times best-selling book series by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser, to develop as an original animated TV movie and series for premiere in 2017. Also included is a licensing deal with Disney Consumer Products for related role-play items and other consumer products. In addition, the books’ publisher HarperCollins and Disney Publishing will collaborate on future books based on the television series.

The stories, geared toward kids ages 2-7, have an underlying theme of self-expression and love of family as they follow the adventures of a girl who likes to be fancy in everything from her creative, elaborate attire to her advanced vocabulary.

“Children have been captivated by Fancy Nancy’s wit and irrepressible spirit for a decade, and we are very eager to give her an even bigger stage on which to perform,” said Nancy Kanter, EVP Original Programming and General Manager at Disney Junior Worldwide.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Disney Junior to bring Fancy Nancy to the small screen and to the next generation of fans,” said Susan Katz, President and Publisher of HarperCollins Children’s Books. “As we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of this best-selling series, it’s exciting to see our beloved character making her TV debut.”

Fancy Nancy, which includes 60-plus titles, has sold more than 28 million books and been translated into 20 languages. Fancy Nancy was named 2008’s Book Character of the Year by Global License. The series has received two Toy Industry Association’s Toy of the Year Award nominations, two LIMA International Licensing Excellence Award nominations and was named the Best Character Brand Program of the Year in 2009.

The deal was made on behalf of Harper Collins by Hotchkiss and Associates.

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas

VARIETY: ‘Confessions of an Imaginary Friend’ Movie in the Works at Fox

By Dave McNary

Fox Animation is developing “Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: A Memoir by Jacques Papier,” acquiring movie rights for Michelle Cuevas’ upcoming book, Variety has learned exclusively.

“Confessions,” which will be published by Dial Books for Young Readers in September, is the whimsical autobiography of an imaginary friend who doesn’t know he’s imaginary.

In the narrative, Jacques Papier has the sneaking suspicion that everyone except his sister Fleur hates him since teachers ignore him when his hand is raised in class, he’s never chosen for sports teams, and his parents often need to be reminded to set a place for him at the dinner table. He’s shocked when he finally learns that he’s Fleur’s imaginary friend and convinces Fleur to set him free.

Elizabeth Reddy is overseeing “Confessions” for Fox.

Cuevas is also the co-author of “The Masterwork of a Painting Elephant” and “Beyond the Laughing Sky.”

The deal was completed by Sean Daily of Hotchkiss and Associates with Emily Van Beek of Folio Literary Management.

My Heart And Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

DEADLINE ‘My Heart And Other Black Holes’ Movie: Paramount Books Suicide-Themed YA Novel

By Mike Fleming Jr and Patrick Hipes

EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has closed a deal for movie rights to first-time author Jasmine Warga’s young-adult novel My Heart And Other Black Holes with Anonymous Content attached to produce. The book was published February 15 by HarperCollins’ Balzer + Bray imprint and has been sold for publication already in 17 countries.

My Heart And Other Black Holes 2The story centers on a pair of teenagers, Aysel Seran and Roman Franklin, who meet through an online site matching up suicide partners (these groups actually exist) to help ensure each partner will not back out of their own suicide. In a twist on Romeo and Juliet, they become more and more intimate through the 26-day countdown to their date until one question hangs between them: Will they live or will they die?

Warga is a 26-year-old Jordanian American from Cincinnati who wrote the novel after the death of a close friend to give voice to feelings of depression and isolation. “Aysel was a vessel for me to tackle questions about the demon of depression, grief, and the ultimate saving power of love and human connection,” the first-time writer told Interview magazine just before the book hit stands.

Anonymous Content’s Michael Sugar and Ashley Zalta will produce the movie, and Paramount’s Peter Kang is the creative executive on the project. It joins other YA projects in development there including an adaptation of Fault In Our Stars author John Green’s first book Looking For Alaska, with Fault In Our Stars scribes Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber on board to adapt.

This is the first deal unveiled since Marc Evans was named the studio’s new Motion Picture Group president this week after Adam Goodman departed at the end of last month.

The Heart pact was made by Hotchkiss and Associates with Brenda Bowen at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.

Octopus by Guy Lawson

VARIETY: ‘Better Call Saul’ Co-Creator Developing Wall Street Movie for HBO (EXCLUSIVE)

Peter Gould is on the trail of another story of Wall Street run amok for HBO.

The “Better Call Saul” co-creator/exec producer is in the early stages of developing a telepic for HBO based on Guy Lawson’s 2012 nonfiction book “Octopus: Sam Israel, the Secret Market and Wall Street’s Wildest Con.”

The HBO Films project will revolve around a colorful cast of rogues and schemers who create an audacious hedge fund fraud and then go on a wild search for “the Octopus,” a secret and elite market that controls the world financial system. Gould is set to write and direct the telepic, as well as exec produce.

Gould previously wrote the 2011 HBO movie “Too Big to Fail,” adapted from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s book about key players in the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the onset of the 2008-09 global financial crisis. “Too Big to Fail” earned a bevy of award nominations for HBO. Gould won a Writers Guild Award for adapted longform screenplay.

Gould is in the midst of steering plans for season two of “Breaking Bad” prequel drama “Better Call Saul” with co-creator Vince Gilligan. “Saul” bowed earlier this month to strong reviews and ratings for AMC. Gould earned back-to-back drama series Emmy Awards in 2013 and 2014 as an exec producer of “Breaking Bad.”

Joe Millner, Gould’s rep at Larchmont Literary Agency, is on board to exec produce “Octopus.” Gould is also repped by CAA.

Happyish by Shalom Auslander

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: 'Happyish' will get its second series pickup.

Showtime president David Nevins used his platform at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour to renew dramedy Shameless for a sixth season and hand out a series order to redeveloped comedy Happyish.

EmmyRossum starrer Shameless, which returned Jan. 11, earned series highs in 2014 — averaging more than 5.7 million weekly viewers across multiple platforms. The John Wells dramedy from Warner Bros. Television also has finally received some awards love, with star William H. Macy earning Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nominations. Production on season six will resume later this year for a 12-episode run in 2015.

Happyish, meanwhile, was originally ordered to series with Philip Seymour Hoffman. The premium cable network re-piloted the series, tapping Steve Coogan to replace the late actor in the dark examination of the pursuit of happiness.

The comedy, co-starring Kathryn Hahn and Bradley Whitford, will be rushed onto the schedule, with Showtime announcing a a 9:30 p.m. April 26 premiere date, where it will be paired with the seventh and final season bow of NurseJackie.

Happyish was created, written and executive produced by This American Life's Shalom Auslander. Emmy nominee Ken Kwapis (He’s Just Not That Into You) executive produces and directed the pilot. Kwapis' producing partner Alexandra Beattie co-executive produces via their In Cahoots banner.

"It feels like a next way to do a cable comedy; it's absorbing and not too cool and real emotion," Nevins told reporters. "It's been frustrating that I haven't launched more comedies. This show has been a particular area of focus."

Coogan stars as a 44-year-old man whose world is thrown into disarray when his 25-year-old “wunderkind” boss arrives, saying things like “digital,” “social” and “viral.”  Is he in need of a “rebranding,” or does he just have a “low joy ceiling?”  Maybe pursuing happiness is a fool’s errand? Maybe, after 44 years on this ludicrous planet, settling for happyish is the best one can expect.

Happyish joins a roster of Showtime originals, including Golden Globe winner The AffairHomelandMasters of SexPenny Dreadful and Ray Donovan as well as comedies ShamelessHouse of Lies,Jackie and Web Therapy. Following his session, Nevins told reporters that he also expects "good news" for Episodes and House of Lies, which typically are renewed alongside Shameless. The latter earned the pickup after Showtime negotiated a new deal with WBTV, with all the series regulars having the option to return pending the events of season five.

On the pilot front, Showtime has drama Billions as well as comedies Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Cameron Crowe's Roadies.

No Limit by Kevin Poulsen

VARIETY: Jonah Hill, ‘D Train’ Filmmakers to Adapt Vegas Hacker Story (EXCLUSIVE)

Hot off their Sundance Film Festival premiere, “The D Train” directors Andrew Mogel and Jarrad Paul are rolling on to their next bigscreen project, this time with Jonah Hill.

Mogel and Paul tell Variety they plan to adapt the Wired magazine article “Finding a Vegas Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich — Then Vegas Made Them Pay,” to which they recently bought the rights as a potential directing vehicle.

Hill is exec producing the film through his 75 Year Plan banner. Mogel and Paul will also produce.

Written by Kevin Poulsen, the Wired magazine article was first published in October, 2014 and tells the story of two hackers who found a glitch in video poker machines before amassing nearly $1 million in cash. They were eventually arrested in 2009.

The two men, Andre Nestor and John Kane, weren’t technically cheating at the casinos, says Mogel, “It was a sequence of buttons they would use to cash out, like an ATM.”

“It’s a really great story,” Paul added.

Mogel and Paul recently worked with Hill on Fox’s animated series “Allen Gregory.” Their directorial debut, “The D Train,” starring Jack Black, was acquired by IFC Films following its Sundance premiere.

The filmmaking duo previously wrote “Yes Man” and are attached to another Jim Carrey comedy, the untitled “Bruce Almighty” sequel. They’re repped by UTA, Mosaic and Ziffren Brittenham.

Hill, whose film “True Story” also premiered at Sundance this year, is currently shooting the Coen brothers’ “Hail Caesar!” opposite George Clooney, Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum.

He is repped by WME, LBI and Karl Austen.

Arms and the Dudes by Guy Lawson

DEADLINE: Hollywood Warner Bros Has Jesse Eisenberg, Shia LaBeouf In Crosshairs For ‘Arms & The Dudes’

EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros and Todd Phillips are starting to get serious about Arms & The Dudes, the film about two stoners who become arms dealers. Talks are about to get underway with Jesse Eisenberg and Shia LaBeouf to star in a film that Phillips will direct about the two unlikeliest arms dealers who got a $300 million contract to supply weapons for its allies in Afghanistan. They soon found themselves in danger abroad and in trouble back home because they were completely out of their depth. The pic is based on a Rolling Stone article by Guy Lawson and Phillips has been working on it for years under his Green Hat banner; it becomes the first major project since he joined forces with Bradley Cooper. Mark Gordon is also producing and Bryan Zuriff is exec producer. Jason Smilovic is writing the script with Phillips. Gordon got this party started, finding the article and joining forces with The Hangover director to turn it into a film.

Eisenberg stars as Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman at Warner Bros, and wrapped American Ultra. He’s repped by CAA and so is LaBeouf, who most recently was seen in the Lars Von Trier-directed Nymphomaniac double feature, and Charlie Countryman. He’s managed by John Crosby. Jesse Ehrman and Jon Gonda are overseeing the project for the studio.

Freeheld by Cynthia Wade

DEADLINE: Steve Carell Reunites With Julianne Moore In ‘Freeheld’

EXCLUSIVE: Steve Carell is replacing Zach Galifianakis in Freeheld, the Peter Sollett-directed film based on the 2007 documentary about Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree. They fought to amend the Domestic Partnership Act, which grants pension benefits to domestic partners of all New Jersey public employees. The film stars Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. It’s produced by Page, Kelly Bush, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher, James D. Stern, Richard Fischoff, Duncan Montgomery, Jack Selby, Duncan Montgomery, and Cynthia Wade. Ron Nyswaner wrote the script.

Galifianakis has dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Carell will play the supporting role of Steven Goldstein, a passionate advocate for Garden State Equality. Carell, who starred with Moore in Crazy, Stupid, Love, found a spot of availability in his schedule between the time he’ll spend promoting his starring roles in Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day and the Bennett Miller-directed Foxcatcher. The latter film , which also stars Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, has had awards buzz all over it since premiering in Cannes. Carell is repped by WME and Steve Sauer at Media Four Management.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

Deadline: Daily Astronaut Family Comedy Lands At ABC With Pilot Production Commitment by Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: In a very competitive situation, ABC has landed An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth, a multi-camera comedy from Surviving Jack creators Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker with a pilot production commitment. The project, from Warner Bros TV — where the duo is under an overall deal — and 3 Arts Entertainment, is based on the memoir by Col. Chris Hadfield, a seasoned Canadian astronaut who became an Internet star with his videos from the International Space Station. (Watch one below.) The TV series is described as a family comedy about an astronaut who is back from space and finds that re-entering domestic life might be the hardest mission he’s ever faced. Halpern and Schumacker will write the script and executive produce with 3 Arts’ Erwin Stoff and Tom Lassally. Hadfield will serve as a consulting producer.

This is the third time Halpern and Schumacker, repped by ICM Partners, will be adapting a memoir into TV comedy series. Both of their previous efforts, CBS’ S#*! My Dad Says and Surviving Jack, were based on books by Halpern, and both went to series on CBS and Fox, respectively. Here is the trailer for Hadfield’s book, one of several An Astronaut’s Guide comedic videos by Hadfield.

 

Television Rights to NYT bestselling author Chris Hadfield's AN ASTRONAUT'S GUIDE TO LIFE ON EARTH, to ABC, from Warner Bros. TV, with 3 Arts Entertainment (PARKS AND RECREATION, SILICON VALLEY) producing and Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker (SURVIVING JACK) writing, by Sean Daily at Hotchkiss and Associates on behalf of Rick Broadhead of Rick Broadhead & Associates.

Soul Catcher by Frank Herbert

DEADLINE: Producer Options ‘Soul Catcher’ By ‘Dune’ Author Frank Herbert

EXCLUSIVE: Four decades after Dune scribe Frank Herbert published his acclaimed 1972 novel Soul Catcher, the book has been optioned for the big screen by producer Dimitri Villard. The Flight Of he Navigator and Once Bitten producer first pursued the Herbert tome during the 1980s but tabled his film career to run music company ArtistDirect until last year. Now he’s returning to the screen biz with Soul Catcher, about a militant Native American student who kidnaps the 13-year-old white son of a U.S. politician, intending to sacrifice the child for vengeance against wrongs committed against his people. As the captor and the captive flee from hunters across the Pacific Northwest, they form a bond that throws the planned act into question.

The late Herbert’s seminal Dune remains the best-selling science fiction of all time and was adapted into a 1984 feature film by David Lynch and a TV miniseries and sequel in the 2000s. It’s also the only property of his to get a feature film treatment, though he penned dozens more novels and short stories before his death in 1986. Soul Catcher is a rare mainstream Herbert novel but shares many of the author’s signature themes in its intersection of ecology, politics, and Native American religious beliefs.

“The book is an extraordinary example of Frank Herbert’s brilliant writing, and it is something I’ve always wanted to turn into a film,” said Villard. “I remember the rights being unavailable when I first pursued the Soul Catcher project in the ’80s, but as my producing career developed I never forgot the powerful effect the story had on me. Now, with full support from the Frank Herbert estate, we have the opportunity to make a culturally impactful film that combines elements of suspense, high drama, mysticism and Native American history that will resonate for years to come and appeal to the millions of Frank Herbert fans worldwide.”

Villard negotiated for a year with the Herbert estate and next is looking to attach a director whose vision can steer the character-driven piece. He’s also brought on Rene Haynes (Dances With Wolves, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, Squanto, Crazy Horse, Buffalo Soldiers), who specializes in Native American and First Nations castings and cast the Quileute/Wolfpack characters in Summit’s Twilight franchise. Greg Bernstein negotiated the deal on behalf of Villard with Jody Hotchkiss repping the Herbert estate.

 

Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Robert Kenner's doc 'Merchants of Doubt' Goes to Sony Pictures Classics

The film about pundits-for-hire will be released by the end of the year.

Sony Pictures Classics has acquired worldwide rights to Robert Kenner’s documentary Merchants of Doubt from Participant Media and Omidyar Network, and plans to release it by the end of the year.

Inspired by the book of the same name by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, the doc takes a look at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change.

Kenner, who also produced and directed the 2008 doc Food, Inc., produced the new film with Melissa Robledo and executive producers Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann of Participant Media and Pierre Omidyar of Omidyar Network. It was co-produced by Brian PearleTaki OldhamDylan Nelson and Youtchi von Lintel.

"I was thrilled that Participant Media and The Omidyar Network were ready to back a comedy about science denial and that Sony Pictures Classics will be taking this film out into the world,” Kenner said. “With Merchants of Doubt, I saw a chance to show audiences a world they hadn’t seen before—a chance to lift the curtain and expose how these messages are crafted and sold to the public."

"Merchants of Doubt is that rare triple threat: well made, entertaining and destined to immediately become part of this volatile cultural debate.  We look forward to bringing this outstanding film to the world,” added Sony Pictures Classics.

Jeff Ivers negotiated the deal for the film on behalf of Participant Media with Sony Pictures Classics.

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

DEADLINE: Lionsgate Buys Jason Mott Novel ‘The Wonder Of All Things’

Lionsgate has acquired screen rights to The Wonder Of All Things, the sophomore novel by Jason Mott, whose debut The Returned is the basis for the ABC seriesResurrection. David Heyman’s Heyday Films will produce with John Fischer and Jeffrey Clifford.

The logline: When a pilot loses control of his plane during an air show and crashes into the stands, two 13-year-old best friends, Wash and Ava, are trapped beneath the rubble. They are found by rescuers, but Wash is seriously injured, a chunk of steel protruding from his belly. Ava tries to help him by pulling free the metal, but blood rushes out; he’s dying. She panics and puts her hands on the wound, crying. When she pulls her hands away, the wound is gone, healed without a scar. Rescuers captured the miracle on their cell phone cameras. It goes up on YouTube, and she becomes the center of attention from media, scientists, and religious leaders. Like Phenomenon and The Green Mile, the film will be a collision between real-world reaction and supernatural events that are not easily explained. Lionsgate’s Jeyun Choi and Erik Feig reeled in the book in a deal brokered by Sean Daily at Hotchkiss And Associates on behalf of Michelle Brower at Folio Literary Management.

Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan

DEADLINE:  Lionsgate Acquires ‘Down A Dark Hall’ From ‘Twilight’ Producers & Temple Hill

Lionsgate has acquired rights to Down A Dark Hall based on the 1974 YA bestseller from Lois Duncan (I Know What You Did Last Summer) with Rodrigo Cortés attached to direct. Screenwriter Michael Goldbach wrote the original adaptation for the screen, and Chris Sparling (Sea of Trees, Buried) has come aboard to also write on the film.Twilight author Stephenie Meyer and Meghan Hibbett will produce via their Fickle Fish Films along with Temple Hill Entertainment’s Wyck Godfrey and Marty Bowen. Meyer optioned the book last year and brought on Goldbach to write the adaptation.

The supernatural suspense novel follows Kit Gordy, the newest student at the exclusive Blackwood Boarding School. It is the opportunity of a lifetime, but Kit quickly realizes something strange is happening behind its walls as she confronts the darkly seductive powers of Blackwood’s headmistress and comes face to face with the supernatural powers that could make her great or destroy her.

Fickle Fish Films recently produced The Host, an adaptation of Meyer’s novel starring Saoirse Ronan, Diane Kruger, Jake Abel, Max Irons and William Hurt, directed by Andrew Niccol, which released March 2013 from Open Road Films as well as the film adaptation of the NY Times best-selling author Shannon Hale’sAustenland, directed by Jerusha Hess and starring Keri Russell, Bret McKenzie, Jennifer Coolidge, JJ Feild and Jane Seymour. Meyer previously produced both parts of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn which were distributed by Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label. The five films of The Twilight Saga grossed more than $3.3 billion at the worldwide box office.

Temple Hill Entertainment most recently produced Fox’s mega box office hit The Fault In Our Stars, starring Shailene Woodley and based on the John Green bestseller. Temple Hill also produced the Twilight Saga film series. Other credits include Dear John, Safe Haven, Everything Must Go and The Nativity Story.

Erik Feig, Co-President of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, Gillian Bohrer, Lionsgate’s EVP of Production & Development, and James Myers, Creative Executive at Lionsgate, are overseeing the project on behalf of the studio. Robert Melnik, Lionsgate’s Executive Vice President of Business Affairs, negotiated the deal on behalf of the studio.

Fickle Fish, Temple Hill, Sparling, Goldbach and Cortés are represented by UTA. The book was represented by Jody Hotchkiss & Associates.

 

Dinotrux by Chris Gall

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Netflix Preps 'Dinotrux' Kids Series from DreamWorks Animation

The dinosaur series, based on Chris Gall's award-winning book series, will roll out in the spring of 2015.

Netflix is bulking up on its kids offerings.

The streaming service is set to launch a new original series, Dinotrux, in the spring of 2015. The kids entry, based on Chris Gall's award-winning book series, will feature hybrid dinosaur-construction characters who are set to build and battle over three seasons. It marks the latest from DreamWorks Animation, which inked a landmark deal with Netflix for 300 hours of programming inspired by DWA characters in early 2013.

Dinotrux will follow the adventures of two unlikely best friends as they navigate the mechanical domain ruled by creatures including Tyrannosaurus Trux, Scraptors and Tow-a-constrictors. The series will join DreamWorks' Turbo Fast, which launched in 2013, as well as forthcoming efforts King Julien, Puss in Boots, Veggie Tales in the House and DreamWorks Dragons.

"This is a property that creates a new world with stunning visuals and fantastic action combined with great characters and comedy. In Dinotrux, the biggest guy and the smallest creature become best friends and through their unique partnership evolve their primitive world—a theme that we think will resonate with kids," said Margie Cohn, TV head at DreamWorks Animation in a statement announcing the news Friday.

Added Netflix originals vp Cindy Holland: "DreamWorks has a proven track record of creating beloved characters, and we're excited to be able to bring the Dinotrux friends to our members. We know kids and families love discovering new series to watch together and we're pleased to continue to expand our show line-up from DreamWorks."

Heads in Beds by Jacob Tomsky

Television rights to Jacob Tomsky's HEADS IN BEDS, about a life spent (and misspent) in the hotel industry, to Warner Bros. Television with 3 Arts Entertainment (PARKS AND RECREATION, LOUIE, SILICON VALLEY) producing, by Sean Daily at Hotchkiss and Associates on behalf of Farley Chase at Chase Literary Agency.

Freeheld by Cynthia Wade

THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Julianne Moore, Zach Galifianakis to Star in Drama 'Freeheld' (Exclusive)

The pair join Ellen Page in the Peter Sollett-helmed film based on the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary short of the same name.

Julianne Moore is attached to star opposite Ellen Page in the indie drama Freeheld, and Zach Galifianakis is poised to tackle a supporting role in the indie drama.

Based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning documentary short of the same name, the film chronicles the true story of the late Laurel Hester (Moore), a New Jersey police detective whose world was shattered when she became terminally ill and government officials prevented her from assigning her pension benefits to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree (Page).

Laurel's conservative detective partner Dane Wells was shocked when he learned of her sexual orientation, but he became the leader in the fight for the same-sex couple's rights. That role has yet to be cast.

Galifianakis is onboard to play Garden State Equality activist Steven Goldstein.

Peter Sollett (Raising Victor Vargas, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist) will direct from a screenplay by Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia, The Painted Veil). The filmmakers are eyeing a summer start date.

Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg are producing alongside Kelly Bush Novak of Vie Entertainment, Jim Stern of Endgame Entertainment, Jack Selby of Incognito Pictures and Cynthia Wade, who directed the 2007 documentary short.

Moore, who can next be seen opposite Liam Neeson in the action film Non-Stop and David Cronenberg's Maps to the Stars, is currently filming The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2. She is about to begin production on a big-screen adaptation of Lisa Genova's novel Still Alice. The actress also is attached to star opposite Greta Gerwig in the Rebecca Miller-helmed Maggie's Plan.

The Hangover's Galifianakis has two films in the can: Muppets Most Wanted and the Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu comedy Birdman. He also is working on an FX pilot that he created and will star in that is being co-written by Louis C.K.

Moore and Galifianakis are repped by CAA. Moore is additionally handled by Management 360's Evelyn O'Neill. Galifianakis also is handled by Brillstein Entertainment and attorney Jared Levine. Sollett is repped by CAA, Oasis and Morris Yorn.