Tony Watch: Uma Thurman Broadway Bound; ‘Groundhog Day’ Braces For Andy Karl’s Schedule

Now that Andy Karl has wowed the critics and producers with his show-must-go-on performance at the opening night of Groundhog Day, the injured star is taking a healthier view of his situation. Karl tore the chief ligament in his left knee during a critics’ preview last Friday and may face surgery. For the moment, he’s cutting back on performances, according to a publicist for the show, and hoping that rest and physical therapy will get him through the rigorous pre-Tony Awards weeks, when voters will be seeing the show (and for which he is all but assured of a nomination).

Andy Karl stares in “Groundhog Day” on Broadway.

Joan Marcus

In addition to opening night, Karl performed yesterday. “On the instruction of his doctors, Andy will take off four performances this week to rest and continue the process of recuperating from the injury,” the production announced. He’ll return for the Friday and Saturday evening performances, with understudy Andrew Call playing the other times.

Beyond that is anyone’s guess, though Karl’s injury is a serious one and the musical is physically demanding, especially for the star, who is onstage for virtually the entire show.

Beau Willimon and Uma Thurman might just be the pair to beat for next year’s Tonys, if producer Steven Baruch and his partners have any say. Willimon, the brains behind House of Cards has written a new play called The Parisian Woman, which will star Uma Thurman in a limited 20-week run this fall staged by hot director Pam MacKinnon (currently on Broadway with Amélie and a Tony winner for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and nominee for Clybourne Park).

Inspired by Henry Becque’s La Parisienne, Willimon’s play is described in a letter to potential investors, two of whom shared with Deadline, as “a provocative comedy about sexual politics in present day Washington, D.C. Chloe and Tom are a D.C. power couple. Chloe is an uber-operator armed with wit, charm and sensuality — and she uses all the arrows in her quiver to help her husband nab an important judicial post.” The play, commissioned by New York’s Flea Theater, was unveiled in 2013 at California’s South Coast Rep, with Dana Delaney in the leading role. It got mixed but encouraging reviews.

The producers (most recently of In Transit, which failed to catch fire at the Circle In The Square box office) are still raising money for the $3.9–$4.2 million show. They haven’t booked a theater yet. But with those names on the marquee, it’s hard to imagine they’ll have a tough time finding one.


Jane Lynch To Host ‘Earth Live’ On National Geographic Channel

EXCLUSIVE: Jane Lynch is set to host National Geographic Channel’s TV event Earth Live, a two-hour live broadcast that is described as the “Super Bowl” of the natural world. The news was unveiled during the networks’ “Further Front” (upfront) presentation today.

Premiering Sunday, July 9 at 8 PM, Earth Live will showcase the best of the animal kingdom in real-time. The event will be anchored in a New York City studio and guided by host Lynch as it is simulcast globally on National Geographic and Nat Geo WILD in 171 countries and 45 languages.

Joining Lynch in studio is animal expert, zoologist and naturalist Chris Packham, who will give viewers access to key locations across six continents – from South America to Asia. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Robert Ballard will also be a special guest.

During the broadcast, viewers will get to see the world’s greatest wildlife cinematographers travel to Ethiopia to capture hyenas in their natural habitat, get an inside look to the rare and elusive cat, the ocelot, see the Old World monkeys found in Jodhpur, India – langurs and many other amazing animals. And, for the first time viewers will watch live wildlife only lit by the moon, in full color, via new lowlight camera technology with a Canon ME20.

“I’m excited and honored to host National Geographic’s Earth Live,” said Jane Lynch, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actress. “It’s going to be a groundbreaking, beautiful and action-packed wildlife symposium that will help viewers from all across the world better understand the animals that live around them.”

“We could not be more thrilled to have Jane Lynch be the host of our inaugural Earth Live broadcast,” said Tim Pastore, president of original programming and production. “With the help of Jane’s influence, and this global team of natural history and wildlife storytellers, our goal for this live event is to inspire, inform and reveal the wonders of the natural world to a new audience.”

Earth Live is produced by Bunim-Murray Productions, Berman Productions and Plimsoll Productions for National Geographic. Al Berman serves as executive producer for Berman Productions, Gil Goldschein serves as executive producer for Bunim/Murray Productions, and Andrew Jackson and James Smith serve as exec producers for Plimsoll Productions. For National Geographic, the executive producer is Michael J. Miller; Kevin Mohs is vice president, production and development; and Tim Pastore is president of original programming and production.


New York Mayor’s Office Unveils Script Contest Winners

The New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and Brooklyn College’s Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema today announced that Patty Carey-Perazzo’s Half-Life and Robin Rose Singer’s Adult Behavior were chosen from more than 300 submitted scripts for development into pilots that will air on NYC Media. The city’s broadcast network has a reach of 18 million households. One of the two winning pilots will be selected for the creation of four additional episodes, to air on NYC Media in the summer of 2018.

Half-Life concerns a mother trying to re-start her stalled career. Adult Behavior is about a young woman who moves to New York to work at a Bronx nursing home. The winners are the first in the new citywide screenwriting contest highlighting stories by, for or about women. Both of the winners are veterans of New York’s production industry.

New York City Mayor’s Office of Movies and Entertainment chief Julie Menin.

NYC Mayor’s Office

“Congratulations to Patty and Robin, whose work stood out in a competitive field,” MOME Commissioner Julie Menin said in the announcement. “The contest they have won, as well as four other women’s initiatives our office is rolling out, reflect our commitment to addressing the well-documented underrepresentation of women in the film and television industry – both on and off the screen.”

“This opportunity is unparalleled,” said Carey-Perazzo, a location manager who wrote about a woman’s attempt to lean back into her career after
leaning out to raise her children. “I’ve been working in film and television production right here in NYC for over 20 years, but I’ve always worked on someone else’s show. To have this opportunity to break through to another level and see my own project come to fruition means everything to me.”

Singer, who makes her living as an actress and filmmaker in the city, says the contest marked the first time she has written something for broadcast TV.

“It was crazy . . . I was so shocked,” she said about hearing she had won the contest for her pilot inspired by a visit with her grandmother. “I like art that is both commercial and has the potential to change people. First you make them laugh, then you hit them with some truth. As a writer, I’m the ground zero for bringing diverse stories to the screen and showing people worlds they might not normally see.”

The winning scripts will be produced as pilots this summer by teams of Feirstein graduate students under the mentorship of Jonathan Wacks, founding director of the school, and Jamie Zelermyer, former Vice President of Physical Production at Focus Features/Rogue Pictures. The Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema opened in 2015 in a purpose-built facility at Steiner Studios at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Other elements of MOME’s programs to elevate the role of women in the entertainment industry include a $5 million grant fund to support film and theater projects by, for and about women; pitch workshops for women filmmakers, and a film financing conference connecting women filmmakers with funding for their projects; an inspiring new block of programming on Channel 25 focused entirely on women and their perspectives; and a report analyzing the gender imbalance of directors in the film industry.

The jury to select the winning projects included:
• Joana Vicente, Executive Director, IFP and the Made in NY Media Center
• Julie Menin, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment
• Jonathan Wacks, Founding Director, Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema
• Jamie Zelermyer, Producer; former VP Physical Production, Focus Features
• Blair Breard, Executive Producer, Better Things, One Mississippi, Horace and Pete, Louie
• Nadia Manzoor, co-creator and performer, Shugs & Fats; founder, Paprika Productions
• Chanelle Aponte Pearson, Director, 195 Lewis; Producer, An Oversimplification of Her
Beauty; Actor, How Would You Feel?


Italy’s Media Regulator Orders Vivendi To Cut Stake In Either Mediaset Or Telecom Italia

Italy’s communications regulator Agcom has ordered Vincent Bolloré’s French media group Vivendi to cut its stake in either Mediaset or Telecom Italia, ruling that building large stakes in both companies violates the country’s antitrust laws.

At present, Vivendi is the biggest single shareholder in Italy’s main telecoms firm Telecom Italia, with a 24% stake, and recently built up a 28.8% stake in Italy’s biggest private broadcaster Mediaset.

The ruling, which was issued on Tuesday, said that Vivendi must get rid of its stake in one of the companies within a year and Agcom ordered the company to present a detailed plan as to how it would comply within the next 60 days. The regulator said the ties between the three companies risked causing a negative effect “on the existing level of competition in the markets involved and on the degree of pluralism in the media system.”

Vivendi released a statement on Tuesday saying that it “neither controls nor exercises a dominant influence on Mediaset” and said it was considering legal action.

“Vivendi reserves the right to take any appropriate legal action to prevent its interests, including filing an appeal to the Agcom decision at the Regional Administrative Court and to submit a formal complaint to the European Commission for the breach of EU law,” it read.

Mediaset, meanwhile, praised the ruling in a brief statement issued on Tuesday evening.

The move is sure to come as a blow to Bolloré, who has made no secret of his ongoing strategy to expand into southern Europe to create a non-U.S.-based global media giant. The company currently owns Canal Plus, Studiocanal and Universal Music Group and is a key shareholder of Italian investment bank Mediobanca. Vivendi has been attempting to tighten its grip on Telecom Italia and also began aggressively building its stake in Mediaset in December, when it only had a 3% stake in the company.

It marks the latest chapter in a long-running public battle between Mediaset and Vivendi, which has been at locked horns since July 2016 when Vivendi backed out of an agreement that would have given Vivendi control of Mediaset’s pay-TV unit, Premium, and given the two companies 3.5% equity stakes in each other.


Bobby Warans To Be Honored At BAFTA Craft Awards; Tin Roof Media Invests In Outline Prods.; James Murdoch To Speak At RTS Convention — Global Briefs

Renowned prop master Bobby Warans is set to be honored with the BAFTA Special Award at this year’s British Academy Television Craft Awards, which is set to take place on April 23 in London. The award recognizes Warans’ outstanding contribution to production design across more than 100 television programs including Absolutely Fabulous, Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, French and Saunders, Harry Hill’s TV Burp and Strictly Come Dancing. Warans began his career in production buying with the BBC, where he took on a six-month contract and became their youngest prop buying assistant in early 1970. He then went on to be a production buyer on Top of the Pops and over the course of his career, he’s worked with legendary comedy duos Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise as well as Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett.

Investment group Tin Roof Media has taken a majority stake in London-based indie production company Outline Productions. With its focus on factual entertainment formats, Outline will sit alongside factual indie Blink Films, which Tin Roof acquired last year. Outline, which was founded in 1999 by Managing Director Laura Mansfield and Creative Director Helen Veale, has a solid factual entertainment slate that includes Channel 4’s UK’s Best Place to Live with Sarah Beeny, the Pixie McKenna fronted Staying Healthy: A Doctor’s Guide and Trevor Phillips fronted Has Political Correctness Gone Mad? as well as Geri’s 1990s: My Drive to Freedom, presented by former Spice Girl Geri Horner airing in March on BBC 2. It’s currently in production on social experiment Gender Neutral School for BBC2 and alternative medicine show Health Freaks, originally produced for Channel 4.


James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, is set to deliver a keynote address at the Royal Television Society’s Cambridge Convention in September 2017. Other speakers at the biennial event include: The Crown producer and Chief Exec of Left Bank Pictures Andy Harries; The Grand Tour Exec Producer Andy Wilman; Michelle Guthrie, Managing Director of Australian Broadcasting Corporation; and Sharon White, Chief Exec of Ofcom. Additional speakers are yet to be confirmed. The event, which takes place in Cambridge from September 13-15, is this year entitled A World of Opportunity. In a year in which the UK will start to forge its own new wider relationships, the convention will explore how the television industry can make the most of this and other opportunities at home and abroad.


Interactive Star Wars Resort Planned for Walt Disney World

Disney has already announced that their massive Star Wars Land theme park attractions will open in the year 2019, just in time for Star Wars: Episode IX, but it seems there are additional Star Wars plans in the works. A new report surfaced today with rough artwork that reveals Disney is surveying its guests, to gauge whether or not they’d be interested in a luxury Star Wars resort/hotel, which would be set on an “actual Star Wars Starship.” The survey is being conducted by a third party, which reveals some interesting details about this potential resort.

Walt Disney World News Today broke this report earlier today, revealing that this survey includes concept art, which you can see below, and a number of early details about what they’re planning. This hotel/resort would offer an all-inclusive two-night stay that will put guests right in the middle of an immersive Star Wars story. Visitors will be surrounded in a, “continuous, story-driven entertainment experience” that unfolds throughout the two-night stay, while having personal interactions with these Star Wars characters played by live performers all throughout the “Starship.” Fans also have the choice to engage with the characters or simply observe the story unfold.

Visitors will also engage in flight training, lightsaber training and ship exploration along with personalized secret missions that will take place both on the Starship and throughout the Star Wars themed planet. The survey also reveals that the experience would cost between $900 and $1,000 per guest, which includes a two-night hotel stay, all meals, including buffet breakfasts, lunches and “signature evening dining” that includes featured entertainment and dinner shows. There will also be amenities like robotic droid butlers, an on-site Cantina, fitness area, water garden and pool area. Each guest will also get exclusive park admission to the Star Wars Land theme parks included in their stay.

Every guest in the resort hotel will have set check-in and check-out dates, so everyone can be a part of the same Star Wars story experience at the same time, and each room will accommodate up to four guests, with an interactive view of either a different part of the “galaxy” or the pool/atrium area. The exclusive visit to Star Wars Land will happen on Day 2 of the visit, with each guest getting five meals total throughout the stay, from check-in on Day 1 to check-out on Day 3, which includes 2 buffet breakfasts, 1 lunch, and 2 signature dinners with evening entertainment.

If this luxury Star Wars resort does move forward, it will be attached to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. Attached to the survey is concept art images which feature a glimpse at the guest cabins, the main lobby and what appears to be the atrium, which features R2-D2 and what looks to be depictions of Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar. Take a look at these artwork images below for this potential new Star Wars luxury hotel at Walt Disney World.

Star Wars Luxury Resort Concept Art 1

Star Wars Luxury Resort Concept Art 2

Star Wars Luxury Resort Concept Art 3


Marvel Confirms Comic-Con 2017 Plans, What Will They Bring?

During a special Marvel press event yesterday, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that, just a few months from now, the studio will return to Hall H for a special Comic-Con presentation. Unfortunately, the studio president and producer wouldn’t confirm what movies will be presented during this panel, and we likely won’t know until the actual day of the panel itself. Still, just taking a peek at Marvel’s upcoming release schedule could give fans a few hints as to what could be announced at SDCC this summer.

Deadline broke the news about the studio’s Comic-Con plans, while revealing that the studio showcased brief clips from the upcoming Black Panther to members of the press during this event. Kevin Feige also confirmed that Black Panther fully wraps production tomorrow, which comes just days after a new video revealed that cast member Danai Gurira had wrapped her portion of the shoot. Marvel has set a February 16, 2018 release date for Black Panther, making it a prime contender to be showcased during the studio’s Hall H panel.

Marvel will also likely have some sort of presence for Thor: Ragnarok, which is slated for release on November 3. The studio just recently released the first Thor 3 trailer, which was viewed a whopping 136 million times in the first 24 hours, breaking the Disney record of 127.6 million views set by Beauty and the Beast. By the time SDCC rolls around in July, fans will certainly be ready for another Thor: Ragnarok trailer, so that could be another movie showcased next year. It is believed that Avengers: Infinity War will still be in production during the convention, but don’t be surprised if there will be some sort of announcement or footage reveal for this highly-anticipated superhero sequel, hitting theaters May 4, 2018.

Last year, Marvel showcased Doctor Strange and Thor: Ragnarok at its panel, while also announcing the casting of Brie Larson as Captain Marvel at the very end of the panel, when Kevin Feige convened all the cast members on the stage for a massive group photo. It’s certainly possible that Brie Larson could be back this year, with her character expected to make her MCU debut in Avengers: Infinity War, before her stand alone Captain Marvel movie, arriving on March 8, 2019. The studio could use the Hall H crowd to finally reveal who will direct Captain Marvel, but that’s only speculation at this point.

Marvel could also announce new details and/or cast members for the upcoming Ant-Man 2, which starts production this June in Atlanta. Another possibility is that Marvel could start announcing what movies will make up its Phase 4 slate. The studio has set three release dates for is first Phase 4 movies, May 1, 2020, July 10, 2020 and November 6, 2020, although they haven’t confirmed what movies will come out on those dates. There has been talk of a Black Widow movie, with Guardians of the Galaxy 3 confirmed for Phase 4. Hopefully we’ll find out more about the studio’s plans in the lead-up to SDCC this summer.


Marvel Has No Problem with Josh Brolin Playing Cable and Thanos

Marvel Studios has managed to corral a whole bunch of Hollywood’s finest under one roof for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But they can’t possibly expect that all of these A-list actors won’t be offered other great roles in other big movies, even other comic book movies. That recently happened when it was announced that Josh Brolin, who is already playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4, will be playing the time-traveling mutant Cable in Deadpool 2. Some thought of this as stirring the pot to some degree, but not Kevin Feige. He’s all for it.

The Marvel Studios President recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter and other various members of the press during a visit to the studio’s offices in California. During the visit, Kevin Feige spoke a bit about Josh Brolin’s casting as Cable and shared his feelings on the matter, saying that the contracts Marvel Studios has their actors sign don’t prevent them from taking on other roles. Here is what he had to say.

“We don’t have anything written into our contracts about other roles that people can do. Indiana Jones and Han Solo are the same person…it hasn’t been a problem. And I think Thanos and Cable are two very different characters.”

Thanos and Cable are two wildly different characters, both in the comics and how they are likely going to be portrayed on screen. Thanos, aka the Mad Titan, will require quite a bit of performance capture, since the character is quite large and wouldn’t be able to be convincingly played by any normal human person. As for Cable, aka Nathan Summers, he is pretty much a human with some extraordinary mutant powers, with a very grizzled, hardened look. So Josh Brolin will probably be spending a lot more time in his own skin on screen for Deadpool 2. Kevin Feige added while speaking to reporters that Josh Brolin is “killing it” as Thanos so far and that they have already shot a good bit of his role for the movies. As for how he’ll manage with Cable? Feige seems confident with that as well.

“I think he’ll make one hell of a Cable.”

It has been known for a very long time that Josh Brolin will be playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 but the news of him playing Cable is very recent. Fox and the creative team behind Deadpool 2 had been on a search for months looking for the perfect actor to bring Cable to life. They met with Brad Pitt for the role and Michael Shannon is said to have been the frontrunner to play Cable, but his schedule was reportedly an issue. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it was announced that Josh Brolin won the very coveted job, meaning that he is playing two huge characters from the Marvel Comics universe on the big screen. Chris Evans also has that distinguishment, since he played Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movies before taking on the role of Captain America in the MCU. Let’s just hope that Cable, and the entirety of Deadpool 2 for that matter, turn out better than Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

It didn’t seem like fans had any hesitation about seeing Josh Brolin play both roles, probably because he is a great actor and seems right for both roles. And it is good to know that the folks at Marvel Studios don’t view it as a bad thing either. We will get to see the power of Thanos fully unleashed in Avengers: Infinity War next year on May 4, 2018, and as Cable in Deadpool 2 also seemingly sometime in 2018, but Fox has not yet set an official release date for the movie.

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