Screenwriter’s News  for Monday, April 11, 2022


Chris skims the trades, so you don’t have to.

🎬 In a preemptive sale, Universal has picked up Batshit, a spec script by rising scribes Ryan Belenzon and Jeff Gelber. The project is described as an action-thriller about a new “bounty app” that encourages reckless behavior. Jon Silk, who worked on It and White Boy Rick, is producing via his newly formed Silk Mass banner.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Belenzon and Gelber have a bunch of co-written scripts in various forms of development.  The “bounty app” which will definitely be a real thing in the future, is probably similar to the app in Westworld and would make an excellent foundation for an action-thriller.

🎬 Iranian Court Finds Asghar Farhadi Guilty of Plagiarizing ‘A Hero’

A court in Iran has found two-time Oscar-winning Iranian director Asghar Farhadi guilty of stealing the premise for his film, A Hero, from an earlier documentary, All Winners All Losers, made by Azadeh Masihzadeh, a former film student of Farhadi’s.

A second judge will now determine Farhadi’s punishment. In the worst case, the director could be forced to hand over “all income earned” earned from the film to Masihzadeh, and could even face time in prison. A Hero premiered at Cannes last year, winning the Grand Jury Prize.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: A Hero is a really lovely film. It’s really unfortunate that Farhadi didn’t credit Masihzadeh, since it’s so easy to just add a name, but it happens.  I can’t help thinking there’s something else not mentioned in the media related to this story, not to mention that prison time is too harsh of a punishment.

🎬Nancy Meyers to Write, Direct and Produce New Movie for Netflix

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Meyers wrote Private Benjamin with writing partner Charles Shyer and Harvey Miller (who also produced) in 1980 as her first produced feature before hitting big.  Say what you want about PB, but for some reason, after all these years, the scene where she had to clean the floor of the latrine with her electric toothbrush has never left me, that and the Albert Brooks scene at the very beginning (no spoilers).

🎬 HBO Max is developing not one but two scripted series based on Sherlock Holmes. Robert Downey Jr., who played the detective in the 2009 Guy Ritchie feature film and its 2011 sequel, is on board to exec produce both shows via his Team Downey banner. Lionel Wigram, who received a story credit on the first film and produced both, is also on board as an exec producer. It’s unclear if Downey will reprise his role as Sherlock as both projects remain in the early development stages.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Lionel Wigram, who is credited for the “screen story” has been active producing Harry Potter and related franchise films. No showrunners or other writers seem to be attached.  Time to sharpen your pencils.

🎬 Paramount+ has picked up the rights to crime drama Finestkind, written and directed by Brian Helgeland. The fishing port-set feature stars Tommy Lee Jones, Ben Foster, Toby Wallace, and Jenna Ortega. The film is produced by Gary Foster, Russ Krasnoff, David C. Glasser, and Paramount fave Taylor Sheridan.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Brian Helgeland absolutely nailed Mystic River and L.A. Confidential.  Expect the best.

🎬 Rachel Syme’s profile of Russian Doll actress, writer, director, and now showrunner Natasha Lyonne

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Excellent quick rundown on Lyonne’s life up until now.  Yes, there should be a version of Polanski’s Chinatown for teens.

🎬 ‘Hancock’ Writer Vincent Ngo Sets Vietnam Series ‘Early Risers’

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Ngo seems to have almost fallen off the map since Hancock, and two shorts for, Beat the Devil for Tony Scott and Hostage, for John Woo.

🎬 The punchy social media relationship between Rob Lowe and his son, John Owen Lowe, has inspired a Netflix comedy. The father-son duo will star in Unstable, a straight to series scripted comedy series that follows an introverted son who goes to work for his wildly eccentric father in order to save him from disaster.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Victor Fresco, who has oodles of credits since the late 80s with the New Monkees, ALF, and Andy Richter Controls the Universe among other big hits. The Lowe, who was great in The Grinder ( which should never have been canceled) will also write with his son.

🎬 Five years after it left the air, the world of Orphan Black is returning to television. AMC Networks has greenlit a new series, Orphan Black: Echoes, that’s set in the same fictional world as the BBC America cult favorite that ran from 2013 to 2017. The series, set to debut in 2023 on AMC+ and the company’s linear networks, comes from writer and showrunner Anna Fishko and Boat Rocker Media.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Fishko is first credited back to an episode of 2014’s The Bridge and more recently The Society and Pieces of Her on Netflix.

🎬 Better call it home. Bob Odenkirk will stay put at AMC following the end of Better Call Saul. The Emmy winner will star in and exec produce an adaptation of Richard Russo’s novel Straight Man. AMC has fast-tracked the project for a potential 2023 debut. Oscar-winner Peter Farrelly is attached to direct.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Aaron Zelman (Law & Order, Criminal Minds, and The Killing) and Paul Lieberstein (King of the Hill, The Bernie Mac (RIP) Show, and The Office will work as co-showrunners.

🎬 Better Call Saul’s Jonathan Banks has also lined up his next show. The Emmy nominee will star alongside Noomi Rapace in Constellation, a psychological thriller that has been ordered straight to series at Apple TV+. Created by Peter Harness, Constellation is described as a conspiracy-based psychological space adventure.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Peter Harness whose first theatrical release, Is Anybody There?, starring Michael Caine, in 2008 has oodles of credits since then with most recent ones on Doctor Who, McMafia, and The War of the Worlds mini-series.

🎬 Apple TV+ has handed out a second-season renewal for its workplace thriller Severance. The series, created by Dan Erickson that counts Ben Stiller among its exec producers, wraps its freshman run Friday. The thriller starring Adam Scott has been embraced by critics and currently has a 97 percent score among critics and a 91 percent rating with viewers on Rotten Tomatoes.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: According to Stiller, Erickson took more than five years to get the show made.

🎬 Netflix’s Locke & Key will end with its forthcoming third season. The decision was a mutual one between Netflix and co-showrunners Carlton Cuse and Meredith Averill, who had envisioned a three-season arc for the story.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: With Cuse and Averill already planning a three-season run, it goes to show you that longer is not always better and that having a basic idea as to how each season will run will help you get out early when the show is hot.

🎬 The first acquisition made by Gillian Flynn’s publishing imprint is heading to the small screen. Stone Village Television is set to adapt author Margot Douaihy’s forthcoming novel, Scorched Grace. Scott Steindorff, Dylan Russell and Zhara Astra will executive produce the series. Stone Village head of development Shannon Kobler will co-produce.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Flynn will be showrunning.

🎬 Jason Momoa To Headline ‘Chief Of War’ Limited Series For Apple TV+

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Showrunner Doug Jung also created Dark Blue and wrote for a bunch of TV Series since 1999 including Big Love, Star Trek Beyond, and Mindhunter.  I’m sure he’s got what it takes.

🎬 FX Orders ‘Sterling Affairs’ Limited Series With Laurence Fishburne as Doc Rivers, Jacki Weaver as Shelly Sterling

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Gina Welch, who got her start on the excellent Ray Donovan, will be a showrunner.

🎬 Beverly Hills Cop 4, a sequel long in the works, has found its director. Mark Molloy will helm the new chapter of the popular franchise with Eddie Murphy expected to reprise his iconic role. The new project is the result of a one-time licensing deal between Netflix and Paramount. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah were on board to direct but Molloy will replace them after the duo moved to direct Warner Bros.’ Batgirl.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Announced writers are Josh Appelbaum, Will Beal, and André Namec based on characters written by Daniel Petrie Jr.  I had the pleasure of meeting Petrie’s father, Daniel Petrie Sr., the esteemed director of A Raisin in the Sun, and Fort Apache the Bronx, amongst other great films for a meal several years ago.  An experience I’ve never forgotten.  Since BHC 3 was a miss (although still had some good laughs), I have mixed feelings about a fourth installment. Either way, likely to be more of a retrospective, similar to Coming 2 America which appealed to the fans.

🎬 Lakers Series ‘Winning Time’ Renewed for Second Season at HBO

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Even with all the criticism from basketball pros, there is also a potential “sequel” in the works featuring later Laker players. Winning Time is created by Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht, based on the book by Jeff Pearlman.

🎬 Whoopi Goldberg to Play Bird Woman in Amazon’s Neil Gaiman Series ‘Anansi Boys’

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Gaiman will be co-showrunner along with Douglas Mackinnon.  This appears to be Gaiman’s first turn at showrunning a series. Sir Lenny Henry who read the audiobook version of the book will also serve as a writer on the show.

🎬 Tom Hiddleston-Led The White Darkness From Pachinko’s Soo Hugh Ordered to Series at Apple TV+

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Soo Hugh, who got her writing career started with The Killing and has written for a variety of other TV series, including creating and showrunning The Whispers and Pachinko will act as showrunner.

🎬 Laura Dern & Liam Hemsworth To Star In Netflix Romance ‘Lonely Planet’; ‘Unbelievable’s Susannah Grant Directing

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Susan Grant has oodles of writing experience including a favorite, Erin Brockovich, and is an Oscar and three-time Emmy nominee.  Goes to show you you don’t have to win to achieve greatness.

🎬 Showrunner Liz Meriwether spoke with Entertainment Weekly about writing the concluding episode of Hulu’s “The Dropout,” and teased the Burning Man sequence we never got to see.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: (Spoilers) Meriwether talks about dealing with the challenges of what happened in reality, and using artistic license to fit it into the show which is something viewers like to moan about when “it didn’t happen that way”. This serves as a reminder that movies and TV are an artistic expression of reality and don’t necessarily need to conform to our expectations.

🎬 “Pen15” vet Maya Erskine will take over the lead role in Amazon’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” reboot that was vacated by Phoebe Waller-Bridge; the show’s star and co-creator Donald Glover discussed the casting change in a new feature in Interview.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: No word on whether Erskine will write any episodes in which Glover is co-creator/showrunner and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who left the show, is a co-creator.

🎬 Fox renewed the freshman drama series “The Cleaning Lady” — starring Elodie Yung as an undocumented immigrant who takes a job for a crime syndicate — for a second season.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Created and written by Miranda Kwok (The 100), The Cleaning Lady is based on the highly-rated 2017 series La Chica Que Limpia created by Greta Molas, an Argentinian-based writer.  In Argentina, the series has continued as La Muchacha Que Limpia.  Kwok is a great example of a person who has entered into writing programs to assist new writers, as she successfully completed the WGA Showrunner Training Program, WGA Writer Access Project, and the CBS Writers Mentoring Program among others.  Apply for and take advantage of these programs since they really help. Kwok started as an actress with a slew of credits going back to 1996 and writing credits starting in 2010.  I guess if you don’t like the scripts you’re working on, start writing your own!

🎬 Netflix released a trailer for its first-ever Nigerian original series, the four-part crime thriller “Blood Sisters.”

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Created by Temidayo Makanjuola and written by Craig Freimond and Zelipa Zulu who both have oodles of experience writing outside of the US. The attached trailer in the link is pretty intense.  Expect big things.

🎬 Prime Video Releases Tense Trailer For ‘The Wilds’ Season Two; Introduces A New Group Of Test Subjects On The Island

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Created and executive produced by Sarah Streicher with showrunner and executive producer Amy Harris.  The Wilds has an intriguing dystopian plot with “survivors’ on an island being controlled by an outside group.  When it comes to stories like these, think about what is possible in the near future with the advent of technology.

🎬 Kevin Smith’s ‘KillRoy Was Here’ Will Be Exclusively Available to 5,555 NFT Holders

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: The humble Kevin Smith — who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting twice — has always been one to watch. Not knowing much about NFTs, his interest in intertwining the two art forms will likely catch fire. Don’t underestimate him.

🎬 Krysta Rodriguez (“Halston”) and Laura Lapkus (“Good Girls”) will co-star in the CBS comedy pilot “Sober Companion” from “Jane the Virgin” vet Jennie Synder Urman; Rodriguez plays an out-of-control alcoholic who’s mandated to spend all of her time with a court-appointed sober companion (Lapkus).

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Written by Gracie Glassmeyer, David Rosenthal, and Jennie Snyder Urman, it originally failed as a pilot in 2014 and was rewritten from a female gaze. Don’t give up on your projects if you believe in them, but also don’t be against making some major adjustments if it still feels right.  It could be the difference between talking about a show you almost got made once and seeing the show you got made.

🎬 13 Hollywood YA and Children’s Book Authors on the Importance of Libraries

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: Familiarize yourself with books that are important with children and YA readers and consider what they have that your screenplay has, or does not have.

🎬 Harrison Ford will take on his first ongoing TV series role in a comedy for Apple TV+. Ford will star with Jason Segel in Shrinking, which comes from Ted Lasso producers Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein and Segel. The series picked up in October 2021, centers on a grieving therapist (Segel) who begins to break the rules and tell his clients exactly what he thinks.

🧐 My two-cent takeaway: If it’s anything like Ted Lasso (a must-see), Lawrence and Goldstein will nail it. Ford doing TV is quite surprising and only makes me think there’s a substantial paycheck attached to this.  Is this Ford cashing in at the top of his game?

What’re your two cents?

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