‘Beacon 23’ Gets Early Season 2 Renewal With Glen Mazzara & Joy Blake As New Showrunners On Spectrum & AMC Series

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August 3, 2022 1:58pm

AP/Courtesy of Nacelle Company

EXCLUSIVE: Three months into production on Season 1 of Beacon 23, Spectrum Originals and AMC Networks’ psychological thriller series starring Lena Headey and Stephan James, has been renewed for a second season. Work on the second season of the series, produced by Boat Rocker Studios and Spectrum Originals, will start shortly with Glen Mazzara and Joy Blake as new executive producers and co-showrunners. They will succeed at the helm Zak Penn. He created the series, based on the book by Hugh Howey, and serves as executive producer/showrunner on Season 1, which is filming in Toronto for three more months. The plan is for Beacon 23 to stay in continuous production on Season 2 after Season 1 wraps.

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“We’re delighted that Spectrum and AMC have confirmed a season two of Beacon 23,” Steve Lescroart, President, Boat Rocker Studios, Scripted, said in a statement to Deadline. “As there is overlap of season one and season two production, Zak Penn’s attention is on completing season one. Zak has done an excellent job on setting up season two and remains an executive producer for season two. We’re also pleased to welcome Glen Mazzara and Joy Blake as executive producers for season two.”

Veteran Mazzara has served as showrunner on such series as The Walking Dead, and Damien; this is Blakes’ showrunner job. They have been working on Beacon 23 for the past several months.

The series is slated to premiere on Spectrum Originals with a second window across AMC Networks platforms.

Beacon 23 follows two people — Headey’s Aster and James’ Halan — whose fates become entangled after they find themselves trapped together at the end of the known universe. Headey’s Aster mysteriously finds her way to a lonely beacon keeper, on his lighthouse in the darkest recesses of space. A tense battle of wills unfolds as James’ keeper begins to question whether Aster is friend or foe as her ability to disguise her agenda and motives could make her a formidable opponent.

On Season 2, Mazzara and Blake will executive produce alongside Penn, Headey, Ira Steven Behr, Tina Thor, Elisa Ellis, and Katie O’Connell Marsh for Boat Rocker Studios.

Mazzara is repped by CAA. Blake is repped by Nacelle Company and Duncan Hedges at Hansen Jacobson.

 

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‘Bullet Train’ To Chug Summer Box Office To Last Hurrah With $60M Global Start

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August 3, 2022 1:40pm

Bad Bunny and Brad Pitt star in Bullet Train.
Sony

This is it. This is pretty much the end of summer.

Sony is pulling in Bullet Train, the last big tentpole of a summer that has grossed $2.9 billion domestic through the end of July per Comscore, +142% from the same pandemic period a year ago, but off 17% from the May-July summer frame in 2019. July alone clocked $1.1 billion, the first billion dollar-plus grossing month since December 2019. However, after Bullet Train‘s start, get ready for a two-and-half month dry period that’s greatly lacking mass-appealing films, but crowded with adult counter-programming. Worldwide estimates for Bullet Train are at $60M with at least $30M stateside for the Brad Pitt starring, David Leitch directed R-rated 87 North film.

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Even though the Rotten Tomatoes’ critics score is low on the film at 58%, the hope is that good word of mouth off the RT audience score will trigger an overindexing here for the feature take of Kōtarō Isaka’s 2010 thriller novel. Bullet Train follows several hitmen aboard a Tohoku Shinkansen Hayate train and also stars Joey King, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Brian Tyree Henry, Michael Shannon, Bad Bunny, Zazie Beetz, Masi Oka, Andrew Koji, Hiroyuki Sanada and Sandra Bullock. The pic, shot during the pandemic, cost a reported $90M before P&A.

Leitch has played the late summer period before with Focus Features’ Charlize Theron’s Atomic Blonde in 2017 with an $18.2M domestic start as well as the Universal Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw which opened to $60M in early August 2019. Atomic Blonde was positioned to arthouses when it opened, and finaled at $51.6M domestic, while Hobbs & Shaw did $174M. Deadpool 2 remains Leitch’s highest grossing movie as a director both in the US/Canada ($325M) and worldwide ($786M).

Stateside, we hear Bullet Train is solid with guys over 35. The hope is that the dynamic moviegoing 18-34 demographic shows up big. Previews start Thursday at 3PM in 3,600 locations. The pic will be booked at 4,300 theaters, encompassing PLF and Imax auditoriums.

Abroad, adult audiences are back and hungry for something new, which could help Bullet Train lean in, particularly in Europe. Bullet Train is releasing in nearly all overseas markets this weekend, save for some of South East Asia and majors Korea, Italy and Japan which go later in the month. China is undated. The movie arrives today in France and the UK, followed by Australia, Brazil, Germany and Mexico joining Thursday with Spain clocking in on Friday.

Abroad, we do not have exact comps in like-for-likes as yet, but going forward we will consider the Pitt-starrer Once Upon A Time In Hollywood which was similarly an August Sony release (though following a mega Cannes premiere and with the Quentin Tarantino faithful lined up); Sony’s 2017’s Baby Driver and Fox’s original Kingsman. The domestic opening range of two of those movies also comps to Bullet Train, i.e. Once Upon a Time… debuted to $41M and 2014’s Kingsman to $36M.

One of the drags here is that the Euro and the dollar are currently essentially at parity. On the upside, some complaints about difficult-to-understand dialogue in English-speaking markets will not be an issue for overseas dubs.

Bullet Train is opening the Locarno Film Festival tomorrow to boost the European launch.

Sony teased the first 20 minutes of Bullet Train at CinemaCon.

Easter Sunday
Universal

Universal has the family PG-13 comedy Easter Sunday starring stand-up comedian Jo Koy. He plays a guy in the DreamWork movie returning home for an Easter celebration with his riotous, bickering, eating, drinking, laughing, loving family in what is a love letter to his Filipino-American community. Reviews haven’t registered on Easter Sunday yet but it’s expected to deliver in the mid-single digits this weekend at 3,200 theaters. The pic, which cost before P&A a reported $17M, was directed by Super Troopers Jay Chandrasekhar off a script by Ken Cheng and Kate Angelo.

A24/Stage 6 Films

A24 has the New York and Los Angeles launch of Helina Reijn’s horror comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies in six theaters. The pic made its world premiere at SXSW and is 98% certified fresh. Movie follows a group of rich twentysomethings who play a party game at a friend’s mansion that goes very sideways.  Pete Davidson of SNL also stars along with Oscar nominee Maria Bakalova.
The R-rated pic goes wide next weekend.

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‘Rust’ Script Supervisor’s Lawsuit Hearing Pushed To Late September; Judge Says It Can Seek Punitive Damages – Update

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August 3, 2022 1:00pm

The “Rust” set in Santa Fe, NM
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

UPDATED, 1:00 PM: Today’s scheduled hearing for Rust script supervisor Mamie Mitchell’s lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and other producers has been rescheduled for September 28. Judge Michael E. Whitaker moved the hearing to give the plaintiff the option and time to file an amended complaint.

Mitchell, who was standing next to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when Hutchins was fatally shot with a prop weapon fired by the actor in October. Mitchell alleges extensive negligence on the New Mexico set and that the scene Baldwin was rehearsing never called for him to fire the weapon.

PREVIOUSLY, May 27: A Superior Court judge in Los Angeles has ruled that Mamie Mitchell, the script supervisor who was standing next to cinematographer Halyna Hutchins when she was fatally shot with a prop weapon fired by actor Alec Baldwin on the Rust film set, can seek punitive damages from some of the producers who sought to have the damages stricken.

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Judge Michael Whitaker heard arguments Thursday and ruled in favor of Mitchell and against defendants Rust Movie Productions LLC, Thomasville Pictures LLC, Ryan Smith and Langley Cheney.

“For pleading purposes, the court finds the first amended complaint alleges facts sufficient to establish despicable conduct carried out by moving defendants with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others,” the judge wrote.

Whitaker also noted that Mitchell’s lawyers alleged the four defendants “intentionally undertook a low-budget and cost-cutting scheme that was known to create unsafe conditions for movie production crews that resulted in moving defendants’ failure to ensure basic safety protocols with respect to the hazardous use of firearms.”

In their court papers, Mitchell’s attorneys alleged the producers “intentionally failed to hire experienced crew members to manage and handle the numerous weapons that were to be used in the film.”

Read more details of the suit below.

PREVIOUSLY, January 24: More than two months after the script supervisor on Rust filed a lawsuit against Alec Baldwin and other producers for the actor’s fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchinson on the New Mexico set of the indie Western, the defendants want a California judge to dismiss the action.

“Nothing about Plaintiff’s allegations suggest that any of Defendants, including Mr. Baldwin, intended the Prop Gun to be loaded with live ammunition,” responded Baldwin, Rust Movie Productions, LLC,, El Dorado Pictures, Inc., Ryan Donnell Smith, Langley Allen Cheney, Thomasville Pictures, LLC, Anjul Nigam, Matthew DelPiano, and Cavalry Media, Inc., who were “erroneously sued as Calvary Media, Inc.” says the filing in response to Mamie Mitchell’s November 17, 2021 lawsuit. “Moreover, nothing about Plaintiff’s allegations suggests any of the Defendants knew the Prop Gun contained live ammunition,” the defendants’ memorandum accompanying their demurrer Monday added (read it here).

“The absence of such allegations of course makes sense because the Incident is apparently unprecedented in the filmmaking industry,” the document adds, apparently overlooking past film set fatalities like Brandon Lee’s shooting death on 1994’s The Crow. “Because all three of Plaintiff’s causes of action, are based on allegations of negligence that resulted in a workplace accident, they should be dismissed because her exclusive remedy is New Mexico’s Workers’ Compensation Act, not a civil action filed in California State Court,” the filing adds.

As the Santa Fe Sheriff’s Office continues its probe into what when terribly wrong on the Rust set on October 21 last year, Baldwin and his fellow producers’ Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP lawyers are requesting a February 24 hearing before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Whitaker on the move to toss out Mitchell’s case.

Mitchell, it might be added, is represented by Gloria Allred, who hasn’t been known to back down from a fight. In fact, the complaint placed in the LASC docket by Allred last fall seemed to be looking for just such a fight.

“Alec Baldwin should have assumed that the gun in question was loaded unless and until it was demonstrated to him or checked by him that it was not loaded,” the filing proclaimed in language echoed at a press conference Mitchell and Allred held soon after filing the suit. “He had no right to rely upon some alleged statement by the Assistant Director that it was a ‘cold gun,’” the wide-ranging, damages-seeking complaint goes on to say, referring to Assistant Director David Halls.

“Mr. Baldwin cannot hide behind the Assistant Director to attempt to excuse the fact that he did not check the gun himself,” continues the filing from Mitchell, who was actually in the church location on the Bonanza Creek Ranch when Baldwin’s “quick draw” move during rehearsal killed Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza.

Having since admitted he didn’t examine the weapon properly before giving it to the actor, Halls, along with Rust armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, has been at the center of the sheriff’s investigation. As her lawyers have floated the idea of sabotage on the production that had safety and labor issues, Gutierrez Reed launched her own legal action earlier this month against the film’s so-called armorer/mentor Seth Kenney and his Albuquerque-based company PDQ Arm and Prop.

Even with some push and pull with a media-chatty Baldwin over his cell phone, the police and the de facto Santa Fe D.A. haven’t arrested or charged anyone over the Rust shooting.

Throwing a bit of a Hail Mary against Mitchell’s complaint on claims of assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and facing other lawsuits too, the Rust producers are still pursuing the internal investigation they proclaimed on October 22, 2021. That review may be close to completion I hear, but nothing official yet.

Erik Pedersen and City News Service contributed to this report.

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‘She-Hulk’ Gets New Premiere Date; Creative Team Shows Solidarity With VFX Artists & Tease Daredevil’s Role—TCA

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August 3, 2022 12:44pm

Disney+

The Marvel series She-Hulk: Attorney at Law now will premiere August 18 on Disney+, a day later than was previously announced, it was announced ahead of the show’s virtual TCA panel on Wednesday.

On the panel, series star Tatiana Maslany was joined by creator and director Jessica Gao and director Kat Coiro who spoke about what’s ahead.

“I think you guys know we are not allowed to tell you any of that,” Gao told Deadline with a laugh when asked if Matt Murdoch/Daredevil’s (Charlie Cox) appearance in She-Hulk will set up the recently announced Daredevil: Born Again. “Marvel has security guards posted outside of each of our doors.”

However, Maslany is anxious for fans to know that “Charlie is amazing and he does some really great work.” She added, “You know, the tone of our show is so different, and to see his character in the tone of She-Hulk is really fun to watch.”

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Added Coiro, “To watch Matt Murdoch and Jennifer Walters’ She-Hulk and Daredevil go to toe and match wits, I think is something people are going to love.”

Gao touts the magic that comes across on screen is thanks to Maslany and Cox’s “great chemistry.” Adding, “It really has the vibe of an old Howard Hawks movie.”

Across nine episodes, Jennifer Walters (Maslany) stars an attorney specializing in superhuman-oriented legal cases who must navigate the complicated life of a single thirtysomething who also happens to be a 6-foot-7 superpowered green hulk. She counts on the guidance of her cousin The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) to help figure out what being a giant green superhero is all about.

Summer Premiere Dates For New & Returning Series On Broadcast, Cable & Streaming

#SheHulk Tatiana Maslany on working with Mark Ruffalo and their brother-sister bond #SDCC 2022 pic.twitter.com/usF5nEmn28

— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) July 24, 2022

‘The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers’ Gets Season 2 Premiere Date On Disney+

The comedy will also welcome back other MCU vets like Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky/the Abomination, Benedict Wong as Wong, as well as Ginger Gonzaga, Josh Segarra, Jameela Jamil, Jon Bass, and Renée Elise Goldsberry.

Bringing to life a project like She-Hulk requires extensive work from VFX artists, many of who have spoken out recently about the work conditions and challenges they face while completing projects with a short turnaround time. Coiro said she stands in solidarity with them.

“The truth is, we work with them but we’re not behind the scenes. So if they’re feeling the pressure, we stand with them and we listen to them,” Coiro said.

Gao added, “I feel incredibly deferential to how talented these artists are and how quickly they have to work. Obviously, like much quicker than probably should be given to them in terms of churning these things out. I know there are a lot of eyes on the CG and a lot of critiques, but I think we have to be super conscious about how the work conditions aren’t always optimal. And that they’ve made these amazing strides in the industry and in this tech where I watch it and I see thoughts as opposed to a cutscene from a video game. I feel very in awe of what they do and very grateful that we get to work with these amazing artists.”

‘The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers’ Gets Season 2 Premiere Date On Disney+

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ICM’s Ryan Wackerman Joins APA As SVP, Alternative & Factual Programming

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August 3, 2022 12:43pm

Photo: Jeffrey Hendler

EXCLUSIVE: APA has hired veteran unscripted TV Agent Ryan Wackerman as SVP, Alternative & Factual Programming.

Wackerman, who will report to Hayden Meyer, APA’s head of Alternative and Factual Programming, is the eighth ICM agent/executive APA has brought in from the group that left on the eve of CAA’s acquisition. APA has been the most aggressive pursuing former ICM talent as the agency has ramped up expansion following the 2020 investment by Ron Burkle.

Wackerman comes to APA after an 11-year run at ICM Partners, where he worked with non-scripted and documentary production companies, showrunners, directors, producers, and on-camera talent in broadcast, cable, streaming, and syndication, including 3 Ball Productions (Bar Rescue), Big Coat Media (Love It Or List It), FRANK (Delicious Miss Brown), Grandma’s House Entertainment (Misery Index), Workaholic Productions (True Terror with Robert Englund), and ZnakTV (Ultimate Tag) as well as executive producers on series such as American Idol, Alone, The Bachelor, Big Brother, Homestead Rescue, Love & Hip Hop, Queer Eye, Selling Sunset, Top Chef, The Ultimatum, and Wild ‘N Out in addition to on-camera talents like Judge Lynn Toler and Dr. Ish Major from Marriage Boot Camp. Many of the clients Wackerman was point on are expected to follow him to APA.

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“We are excited to have Ryan and his clients join us bolstering our aggressive expansion strategy during this time of transition within the agency business, which will benefit all of our clients,” said Jim Gosnell and Jim Osborne, CEO and President of APA respectively, in a joint statement.

As Deadline reported in June, ICM’s alternative department was heavily impacted by the CAA merger. Former members who have since landed elsewhere include Michael Kagan, the former head of ICM Partners’ International Television and Media Department, who joined Range as Partner and Head of International Non-Scripted and Co-Head of Domestic Non-Scripted; Andy Stabile, who joined Verve As Partner & Head Of Unscripted; as well as Wackerman, Seth Lawrence and Katie Kolben who all went to APA.

“We are looking forward to working with Ryan to incorporate his impressive roster of show creators, show runners, production companies, and on-camera talent into APA’s content creation focused ecosystem. We’ve been extremely successful in this area over the past few years and the acquisition of a talent like Ryan will ensure we stay on a growth trajectory,” said Kyle Loftus, Head of Content Development and Hayden Meyer head of Alternative and Factual Programming at APA.

Wackerman joined the International Television & Media Department at ICM in 2011 from Kaplan Stahler Agency where he worked in the Reality Department with Sean Zeid whom he rejoins at APA, along with his former ICM colleagues including Alternative & Factual Programming agents Seth Lawrence and Katie Kolben, Andrew Rogers, Head of Global Talent, Mike Hayes, Senior Vice President, Global Concerts, Chris Smith Senior Vice-President, Concerts & Talent, and Phoebe Burnham as well as Chief Communications Officer Brad Turell.

“I am looking forward to hitting the ground running within the aggressive, strategic, and collaborative entrepreneurial environment that APA has created for the benefit of all our clients. What they have done already in the alternative and crossover space is second to none and I am excited to join an amazing team whose philosophy of career building aligns with my own,” said Ryan Wackerman.

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Alex Jones Confronted By Infowars’ Attacks On Judge And ‘Extremely Blue Collar’ Jurors As Sandy Hook Parents Seek Defamation Damages

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August 3, 2022 12:36pm

Mark Bankston, lawyer for Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, asks Alex Jones questions about text messages during trial at the Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Wednesday Aug. 3, 2022. Jones testified Wednesday that he now understands it was irresponsible of him to declare the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax and that he now believes it was “100% real.”
(Briana Sanchez/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool)

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin on Wednesday afternoon in the trial in Texas in which a jury is to determine the amount of damages that the Infowars host owes to parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook school shooting massacre.

Jones has said that he now believes that the 2012 horrific shootings, in which 26 people were killed, including 20 children, was “100% real.” The parents, Neil Heslin and Scarlett Lewis, previously won a defamation judgment against him for his earlier claims that the tragedy was a hoax.

Since he first took the stand on Tuesday, Jones has been repeatedly admonished by the Travis County judge in the proceedings, Maya Guerra Gamble, and he faced a rigorous cross examination from Mark Bankston, who is representing Heslin and Lewis. Their six-year-old son Jesse was among the victims in the massacre.

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Bankston showed an image from an Infowars segment in which flames appear over the judge’s face. In the five-second segment itself, a narrator claims that Gamble comes from Child Protective Services, “which has been exposed for human trafficking and working with pedophiles.”

“You are telling the world, not to believe what has happened in this trial, because this judge is involved with CPS, who is working with child traffickers and pedophilia?” Bankston asked.

“No, that is not what I am saying,” Jones responded.

Then Bankston ran the clip, and then asked Jones, “That is what you mean when you say you are taking [the trial] seriously?”

“I take this as serious as cancer,” Jones said. “You showed somebody else’s clip. They are always a few seconds long. Why don’t you play the whole thing.”

“Mr. Jones, that isn’t somebody else’s clip,” Bankston replied.

“Well I didn’t direct or produce it,” Jones said.

“You certainly published it.”

“I am not standing behind it. i have to see the whole thing,” Jones said.

But Bankston later asked Jones, “Is there anything before and after that that would make it great to show pictures of our judge on fire and telling the world that she is involved in pedophile? Can you tell me the context that would occur before or after?”

Jones said, “If you are only willing to go off five seconds, the judge is the fire burning lady liberty. It’s not of the judge. The judge is consuming freedom.”

Bankston then said, “I sure hope that some of your viewers are able to make that distinction” from the clip.

The lawyer went on to confront Jones about other claims. “You are telling the jury that you are taking this trial seriously, but you are telling the world that someone inside Travis County government rigged the jury summons and picked these jurors specifically who don’t know what planet they are on. That is what you are telling the world.”

“I’m saying that that can potentially be a danger if they don’t know what is going on,” Jones said.

Bankston then played another clip of Jones from his show last week, in which he groused about the recently selected jury in the trial. In the segment, Jones said, “there are experts in leftist jurisdictions, who are experts in sending out jury summons and hitting, let’s just say this, extremely blue collar folks. Half that jury panel does not know who I am. They said that.” He said that when jurors were asked if they ever got anything wrong about him, “they said no.”

“People do live in all these different bubbles, and there are bubbles that are awake and there are bubbles that are questioning, but then there’s the blue city bubbles where people don’t know what planet they are on,” Jones said in the clip.

In the courtroom, Bankston asked, “Mr. Jones, you don’t like that this jury is made up of blue collar folk, you think that’s wrong?”

“No, I don’t think that,” Jones said.

Bankston then referred to Jones’ comment about people who “don’t know what planet they are on.”

Jones replied, “We all live in bubbles, and the people who live in a mainstream media bubble, they might have not have even seen or said what I have done.”

The parents are asking for damages of $150 million for defamation and infliction of emotional distress. They said that after Jones claimed Sandy Hook was a hoax, they faced death threats and harassment.

Bankston also revealed that Jones’s legal team “messed up” and accidentally sent him the entire digital file of his cell phone, including “every text message you sent for the past two years.” He said that Jones lawyers did not take steps to try to portect the contents as privileged, giving him the ability to introduce the messages in court.

Bankston said the text messages “fell free and clear into my possession, and that is how I know you lied to me when you said you didn’t have text messages about Sandy Hook.”

“See, I told you the truth, this is your Perry Mason moment, I gave the phone…”

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Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker: Folie À Deux’ Gets Fall 2024 Release Date

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August 3, 2022 12:28pm

Joaquin Phoenix in 2019’s “Joker”
Everett

EXCLUSIVE: In the wake of Warner Bros Discovery axing Batgirl for HBO Max, it has put forward a silver lining for DC: Todd Phillips’ Joker sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux, is getting a October 4, 2024, release date.

Warners already had the day on hold for an untitled DC event film, so it’s not shocking to see Joker 2 wind up during the first weekend of October: Warners took the October domestic opening to a record level with $96.2 million with Joker in 2019. The film legged out to $335.4M domestic and globally it is the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever at $1.07 billion. Joker won two Oscars: Best Actor for star Joaquin Phoenix and Original Music Score for Hildur Guðnadóttir’s. The movie was nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture and Phillips for Best Director.

Deadline has learned about this from a recent update in Comscore.

As indicated in Phillips’ social media post of the screenplay cover back in June, the sequel is entitled Joker: Folie à deux, which is a French reference for a medical term pertaining to a mental disorder which affects two or more people.

We hear that a production start in December is on track for Joker: Folie à Deux.

As we previously reported, one of the reasons Batgirl was unplugged had to do with how it would upset the DC multiverse continuum that’s being mapped out heading toward The Flash on July 23, 2023. The David Zaslav-run Warner Bros Discovery is serious about making DC a brand that’s fiercely competitive with Disney’s Marvel.

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‘Little Ellen’ Scrapped At HBO Max Ahead Of Season 3 Premiere As Questions Surround Future Of Streamer’s Animation Strategy

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August 3, 2022 12:27pm

HBO Max

EXCLUSIVE: Ellen won’t be growing up on HBO Max.

Deadline understands the streamer has canceled animated series Little Ellen ahead of its third season premiere.

The third season of the show, which is centered around a seven year old Ellen DeGeneres, was completed and had previously been dated to air in June but its premiere was pushed back.

It is the latest example of Warner Bros. Discovery canceling a show or movie that has already been produced. Deadline revealed that reality series The Big D had been axed by two weeks ahead of its premiere, ostensibly for tax reasons, allowing the company to write down the costs of the project.

Yesterday, this went to another level after the company scrapped high-profile DC movie Batgirl.

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Essentially, WBD is able to write off the costs of certain productions as part of a “purchase accounting” maneuver because of the merger and this opportunity expires in mid-August, as described by my colleague Anthony D’Alessandro in his reporting around the Leslie Grace-fronted film.

The move brings with it question marks around HBO Max’s animated strategy. Deadline understands that a number of other projects may be affected. It follows a move out of live-action kids and family programming for the streamer, on the back of the cancelation of Gordita Chronicles. 

Little Ellen was ordered in 2019 as part of a trio of Ellen DeGeneres-related projects for HBO Max including Ellen’s Home Design Challenge and First Dates Hotel.

Its first season of ten episodes launched in September 2021 and its second season launched in March 2022.

Produced by Ellen Digital Ventures and Warner Bros. Animation, it was one of the latter’s first preschool series in some time. The show follows a “hilarious” and “imaginative” seven-year-old Ellen, who finds fun and adventure in New Orleans with her wise and eccentric Gramsy, musical best friend Freckle, fashion-forward cousin Becky and clever cat Charlie.

It features the voices of Laurel Emory, Johanna Colon, JeCobi Swain and June Squibb.

Warner Bros. Discovery was not commenting on the news.

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Tucker Carlson Called Out By 9/11 Families Over Greg Norman Interview Defending Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Tour

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August 2, 2022 2:18pm

Tucker Carlson and Greg Norman
Fox News via Twitter

“We’re not taking sides in this,” said Tucker Carlson on his popular Fox News show last night, “but one of the biggest controversies in sports in many years is taking place between the PGA Tour and an upstart tour called LIV.”

Carlson then offered up an interview with LIV tour CEO and golf legend Greg Norman.

“Why is it so offensive to some American golf fans that you’re doing here?” the Tucker Carlson Tonight host asked.

“I don’t know. I really don’t really care, quite honestly. I really just want to grow the game of golf,” replied Norman. “We at LIV see that opportunity not just for the men but for the women. We at LIV see it for NCAA and younger generations. We at LIV see it as a pathway to opportunities for these kids to experience a new world out there. LIV is the future of golf.”

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Something big is happening in the world of golf. Golf legend and @LIVGolfInv Commissioner Greg Norman is at the center of it all. We spoke to him to learn more about the new league. pic.twitter.com/DaOCcMjmpr

— Tucker Carlson (@TuckerCarlson) August 2, 2022

One person who would like to answer to Carlson’s query is Terry Strada, of 9/11 Familes United. CNN’s Oliver Darcy wrote in its Reliable Sources column, “A spokesperson for 9/11 Families United told me that the group reached out to Carlson’s team to see if they would be interested in having a 9/11 family on the program, given Norman’s appearance. But I’m told that Carlson never responded.” 

Strada herself responded to Carlson’s sitdown with Norman on Twitter writing, “@TuckerCarlson did you just say re: LIV Golf you’re NOT taking sides? Great to hear, I imagine your producer will be calling me then to come on & talk about 9/11 families side???”

@TuckerCarlson did you just say re: LIV Golf you’re NOT taking sides? Great to hear, I imagine your producer will be calling me then to come on & talk about 9/11 families side???

— justterry (@TerrySStrada) August 2, 2022

Deadline reached out to Fox News and will add any comment received.

One reason many are criticizing the LIV tour is because it is backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). The fund is which is led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler and the man the CIA says is behind the grisly 2018 murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, who was an outspoken critic of the Kingdom.

Families of 9/11 victims are not framing the controversy as LIV vs. PGA, but the U.S. vs. a backer of terrorism. They take umbrage at the direct line to Saudi Arabia because the 9/11 report from the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States “identifies Saudi Arabia as the primary source of al-Qaeda funding.” Also, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.

In a statement ahead of last weekend’s LIV golf event at Donald Trump’s Bedminster, NJ course, 9/11 Families United accused those associated with the tour “of ‘sportswashing’ the Kingdom’s reputation by playing in another tournament on U.S. soil.” The also noted that “Sadly, this new tournament takes place 50 miles from Ground Zero.”

Norman argued that dozens of PGA Tour sponsors do $40 billion worth of business with Saudi Arabia each year. He also said that “The LPGA Tour is sponsored by [Saudi Oil giant] ARAMCO…The largest sponsor of women’s golf in the world is ARAMCO,” likely referring to the company’s sponsorship of the ARAMCO Team Series, which is sanctioned by the Ladies Pro Tour, the web site of which says it is “a joint venture collaboration between Ladies European Tour and the Ladies Professional Golf Association…to increase playing opportunities for female golfers in Europe.”

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Warner Bros. Shelves ‘Batgirl’ With No Plans To Release Theatrically Or On HBO Max

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August 2, 2022 2:04pm

Leslie Grace
GI; DC FanDome

Even though Batgirl is in the final stages of post-production, Deadline has confirmed that Warner Bros. and DC Films will not be releasing the movie on any platform, including theatrically.

This falls in line with the mandate put down by the new WB regime to cut back on the feature films premiering on the streamer and deciding what films will be released theatrically and which ones will be shelved and sources close to the project say word came down this week that this film did not make the cut.

Warner Bros. had no comment.

The film starred Leslie Grace in the titular role, Brendan Frasier and Michael Keaton reprising his Bruce Wayne part and was expected to bow sometime in 2023. As for the exact reason behind the shelving, sources say the film did not fall in line with the new strategy being implemented by DC Films as well as HBO Max. The studio is looking to make theatrical tentpoles with budgets at $90 million plus and from early footage seen this did not fall into place with that model (Batgirl was greenlit at $70 million budget.)

The decision follows seven recent changes across company including major changes to HBO Max with more expected with the upcoming earnings call later this week. The New York Post first reported the news.

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‘CSI: Vegas’: Sara Amini & Joel Johnstone Join Season 2 Cast As Recurring

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August 2, 2022 1:55pm

Courtesy of Vault Entertainment/GI

EXCLUSIVE: CSI: Vegas has set its medical examiner team. Sara Amini (Future Man) and Joel Johnstone (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) are set for recurring roles in the second season of CBS’ sequel to the groundbreaking 2000 series.

Amini will recur as Sonya, a regimented, methodical, and passionate head Medical Examiner. Johnstone will play Jack, Sonya’s intelligent, curious, and optimistic older brother and the assistant Medical Examiner.

Season 1 opened a new chapter in Las Vegas – the city where it all began, introducing a serialized storytelling to the classic crime procedural drama. Facing an existential threat that could bring down the entire Crime Lab and release thousands of convicted killers back onto the neon-lit streets of Vegas, a brilliant new team of investigators led by Maxine Roby (Paula Newsome) enlisted the help of old friends, Gil Grissom (William Petersen) and Sara Sidle (Jorja Fox), to investigate a case centered around former colleague David Hodges (Wallace Langham). This combined force deployed the latest forensic techniques to follow the evidence – to preserve and serve justice in Sin City. The first season also starred Matt Lauria, Mandeep Dhillon and Mel Rodriguez. Petersen and Fox won’t be returning for the second season.

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The series is produced by CBS Studios in association with Jerry Bruckheimer Television and distributed internationally by ViacomCBS Global Distribution Group. Executive producers are Jason Tracey, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman, KristieAnne Reed, Anthony Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn, Ann Donahue, Craig O’Neill, William Petersen, Uta Briesewitz (initial episode only) and Cindy Chvatal.

Amini previously recurred on Hulu’s Future Man and CBS All Access series The Twilight Zone, and she’ll next be seen in the Hulu feature Mack & Rita. She is repped by Gersh and Vault Entertainment.

Currently, Johnstone is filming Season 5 of the Prime Video comedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The actor also recently guest starred on S.W.A.T., The Resident, Snowfall and LA’s Finest, and has recurred on HBO’s The Newsroom. He is reppeds by A3 Artists Agency and Magnolia Entertainment.

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Casting Society Reveals 2022-23 Board

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August 2, 2022 1:25pm

From left: Destiny Lilly, Elizabeth Berra and Steven Tylor O’Connor
Casting Society

The Casting Society has confirmed the changes to its Board of Directors for 2022-23. Destiny Lilly is the newly elected President, while Elizabeth Berra will serve as Secretary and Steven Tylor O’Connor as Treasurer.

CSA also announced its commitment to diversifying its board and made some notable appointments. Candido Cornejo Jr. is the first board member from the trans community, while Erin Tomasello is the first representing members who work in reality casting.

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Lilly is a New York-based casting director who has worked on the Hulu series Only Murders in the Building, Tony-winning Broadway musical A Strange Loop and the upcoming musical feature The Color Purple.

Berra is an associate casting birector based in New York and currently working with casting director Alexa L. Fogel. Berra’s credits include Anything’s Possible at Amazon, We Own This City at HBO, and Warner Bros’ Judas and the Black Messiah.

O’Conner is an associate casting director who shared a Daytime Emmy last year for Netflix’s The Healing Powers of Dude. He works at Aufiero/Horn Casting.

2022-23 Awards Season Calendar – Dates For The Oscars, Emmys, Grammys, Guilds, Festivals & Moredar

Casting Society was founded in 1982 with the purpose of establishing a recognized standard of professionalism in the casting field and providing its members with a support organization to further their goals and protect their common interests. The group is a resource for producers, directors, and creative teams around the world.

Here is the 2022-23 Board of Directors:

Destiny Lilly, President
Elizabeth Berra, Secretary
Steven Tylor O’Connor, Treasurer
Danielle Pretsfelder Demchick, VP Advocacy
Felicia Joseph, VP Advocacy
Caitlin D. Jones, VP Communications
Sujotta Pace, VP Events
Wendy Kurtzman, VP Events, European Chapter liaison
Rachel Reiss, VP Technology
Daniel Cabeza
Tiffany Little Canfield
Candido Cornejo Jr.
Jessica Daniels
Zora DeHorter
Kimberly Ehrlich
Eryn Goodman
Erica A. Hart
Stephanie Klapper
Erin Tomasello
Julie Tucker

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FX’s John Landgraf Praises New Boss Dana Walden Following Her Promotion – TCA

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August 2, 2022 1:06pm

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The relationship between Dana Walden and John Landgraf has long been subject of corporate intrigue. The superstar TV executives had run on parallel tracks at Fox and continued to do so after they both made the transition to Disney following the 2019 acquisition until this past June. The shocking dismissal of Peter Rice, which was followed by Walden’s elevation to his post as Chairman of Disney General Entertainment, changed the dynamic between the two veteran executives, with one of them (Landgraf) reporting to the other (Walden) for the first time since Landgraf joined FX in 2004.

The move got tongues wagging in the Hollywood gossip-filled echo chamber. During the FX executive session at TCA today, Landgraf put any rumors about a potential discord to rest by offering effusive praise and equivocal support to Walden in his opening remarks

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“Speaking of my good fortune to have such long and successful relationships, Dana Walden who many of you know very well, was recently promoted to Chairman of Disney General Entreatment, and she now oversees FX as part of her large portfolio of brands and studios,” FX Chairman Landgraf said as he acknowledged his longtime colleagues at FX. “I’m thrilled about Dana’s very well deserved promotion. She and I have been colleagues and friends for more than 23 years, from before my time at FX when I was running Jersey Television which had an overall deal with 20th where Dana was at that time president. “

“She is as outstanding an executive as I’ve ever worked with and a natural born leader,” Landgraf continued. “We have been creative partners on American Horror Story, American Crime Story, American Horror Stories, Feud, The Americans, Mayans, Fosse/Verdon, The Old Man and Sons Of Anarchy to name a few iconic shows. I know first hand just how exceptional she is at both the creative and business sides of her job, and I am genially excited that I and the FX team will now have Dana’s support and insight across all of the FX programming and marketing in her role.”

A widely recognized statesman of the TV business, Landgraf has always been less corporately minded and has been focused on the creative side of the FX brand, which has expanded in the past couple of years to include original programming for FX, FXX and Hulu.

He and Walden have been able to successfully co-exist, and relentless speculation about a potential rift early in the duo’s Disney tenures pretty much came to an end when both took on major content roles at Hulu in the past two years, with Walden overseeing Hulu originals and Landgraf shepherding FX-branded exclusive original content.

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The Lede Company Unveils New Social Impact Division, Appoints Sarah Acer As Chief Social Impact Officer

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August 2, 2022 1:01pm

Sarah Acer
Courtesy of Lede

EXCLUSIVE: Hollywood publicity firm The Lede Company on Tuesday announced the launch of its Social Impact Division, which will be led by newly appointed Chief Social Impact Officer Sarah Acer.

The division will be the company’s fifth, joining existing divisions geared toward Talent, Brand, Strategic Communications and Content. With expertise in cause campaigns, philanthropy, communications, cross-sector partnerships and corporate policy, it will be supporting some of the world’s most influential companies, nonprofits, artists and foundations to design and develop innovative programs and initiatives that are purpose- and insight-driven and focused on advancing a cause, program, partner or issue on a global scale.

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In her new role at Lede, Acer will support clients in their efforts to accelerate positive change and deliver measurable social impact. Notable social impact projects and organizations backed by Lede since its 2018 founding include The Asian American Foundation, Black Ambition, Blue Bottle Coffee, The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, The Bob Woodruff Foundation, The Clara Lionel Foundation, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project, Global Citizen, The Global Fund, Higher Ground, Hilarity for Charity, Hive, March for Our Lives, Planned Parenthood, Pencils $ Kids, ONE Campaign, Tony’s Chocoloney, TOMS, PANGAIA and XQ Institute, among others.

“We are excited to expand our offerings to clients and to deepen our own social impact efforts with Sarah’s support—she is an outstanding addition to our team,” said Sarah Rothman, who with Amanda Silverman, Meredith O’Sullivan and Christine Su head up Lede as co-CEOs. “We’ve seen firsthand the results of the programs, campaigns and partnerships she’s built and we’re looking forward to seeing the new division grow.”

“The standard of accountability for today’s companies and organizations has reached extraordinary heights — brands, leaders, and staff are being appropriately scrutinized on how a company’s actions reflect their principles and values. Lede not only understands these realities, but continuously evolves to exceed industry standards,” said Pendulum Holdings’ Co-Founder and CEO Robbie Robinson, who serves as a member of Lede’s board. “As Lede expands its talent bench, including the new hire of Sarah Acer as Chief Social Impact Officer, the agency is expanding its meaningful, world-class services with the launch of its Social Impact Division.”

“Lede exists at the intersection of culture and social impact and its work has resulted in category-creating brands, transformational campaigns and measurable impact for clients and communities around the world,” added Acer. “I am thrilled to join the team at Lede and look forward to growing the division and driving social impact ambition and results forward.”

As a former nonprofit executive, consultant and corporate leader, Acer brings nearly two decades of experience to Lede, as well as expertise working alongside and within the private sector, nonprofits and government agencies on social impact, sustainability, communications and philanthropic efforts. She comes to Lede from Global Citizen, where she served as head of global philanthropy, private sector policy, partnerships and campaign design. There, Acer helped lead several historic campaigns and initiatives including Global Citizen LIVE, Give While You Live, One World: Together At Home and the organization’s Race to Zero climate action campaign. She also led the strategy and development of the Global Citizen Impact Funds, as well as for the Time Off to Vote initiative, and oversaw many of the organization’s nonprofit and multilateral partners.

The Lede Company is a full-service strategy, public relations, communications and social impact consulting firm, specializing in corporate, entertainment, brand and nonprofit sectors. Notable clients outside of those previously mentioned include Amy Schumer, Camila Cabello, Cara Delevingne, Charlize Theron, Emma Stone, Gael Garcia Bernal, Grimes, Halle Berry, Halsey, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Biel, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Penelope Cruz, Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna, Shakira, Anonymous Content, Hello Sunshine, Illumination, Live Nation, Univision, Thom Browne, Altuzarra, Kenzo, Savage x Fenty, Essence Ventures, Violet Grey and WhatsApp.

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FX Gives Updates On ‘Alien’ Series, ‘Shōgun’ & ‘Fargo’ Season 5 – TCA

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August 2, 2022 12:46pm

Alien
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FX’s television series based on sci-fi classic Alien will begin shooting next year and limited series Shōgun will also air in 2023, according to FX chief John Landgraf.

Landgraf also gave an update on the status of season five of Fargo.

Noah Hawley has delivered all of the scripts for his series based on the Sigourney Weaver feature film and shooting will begin next year.

The series will be the first Alien story set on Earth and will blend the horror of the original 1979 movie and the action of the 1986 James Cameron-directed sequel, Aliens. Ridley Scott will produce the series via his Scott Free banner.

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The Alien series will take place before Weaver’s Ripley character appears and she will not be part of the show, as will none of the characters apart from the alien itself.

Landgraf has previously said that it could debut in 2023.

Hawley is also working on season five of Fargo, which will begin production this fall.

The latest installment of the anthology series will star Juno Temple, Jon Hamm and Jennifer Jason Leigh and will be set in 2019. It will answer two questions: When is a kidnapping not a kidnapping, and what if your wife isn’t yours?

Finally, Shōgun, FX’s limited series based on James Clavell’s bestselling novel, wrapped production in June, and will air in 2023.

Landgraf said, “We wrapped physical production on the limited series Shōgun in June, which was by far our biggest and most ambitious production ever. We still have a long process of post-production ahead of us but the show looks fantastic and will debut later next year.”

The series stars Hiroyuki Sanada, Cosmo Jarvis and Anna Sawai.

Written by Justin Marks and Rachel Kondo, Shōgun is set in feudal Japan. It charts the collision of two ambitious men from different worlds and a mysterious female samurai: John Blackthorne (Jarvis), a risk-taking English pilot major who ends up shipwrecked in Japan, a land whose unfamiliar culture will ultimately redefine him; Lord Toranaga (Sanada), a shrewd, powerful daimyo, at odds with his own dangerous, political rivals; and Lady Mariko (Sawai), a woman with invaluable skills but dishonorable family ties who must prove her value and allegiance.

Counterpart creator Marks wrote the FX adaptation with his wife, Kondo, who is of Japanese descent. Marks executive produces with late author Clavell’s daughter, Michaela Clavell. Kondo co-executive produces. Shōgun is produced by FX Productions.

FX greenlighted Shōgun in summer 2018. Several months later, as the series was in active pre-production, the network put the project on hold.

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