I’m frequently sent information on upcoming television, DVD/Blu-ray and movie news. I’ll be compiling and sharing the best and most interesting news with you here each week.
J.J. Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII
J.J. Abrams will direct Star Wars: Episode VII, the first of a new series of Star Wars films to come from Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy. Abrams will be directing and Academy Award-winning writer Michael Arndt will write the screenplay.
“It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said Kennedy. “J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.”
George Lucas went on to say “I’ve consistently been impressed with J.J. as a filmmaker and storyteller. He’s an ideal choice to direct the new Star Wars film and the legacy couldn’t be in better hands.”
“To be a part of the next chapter of the Star Wars saga, to collaborate with Kathy Kennedy and this remarkable group of people, is an absolute honor,” J.J. Abrams said. “I may be even more grateful to George Lucas now than I was as a kid.”
J.J., his longtime producing partner Bryan Burk, and Bad Robot are on board to produce along with Kathleen Kennedy under the Disney | Lucasfilm banner.
Also consulting on the project are Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg. Kasdan has a long history with Lucasfilm, as screenwriter on The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark and Return of the Jedi. Kinberg was writer on Sherlock Holmes and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Abrams and his production company Bad Robot have a proven track record of blockbuster movies that feature complex action, heartfelt drama, iconic heroes and fantastic production values with such credits as Star Trek, Super 8, Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, and this year’s Star Trek Into Darkness. Abrams has worked with Lucasfilm’s preeminent postproduction facilities, Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound, on all of the feature films he has directed, beginning with Mission: Impossible III. He also created or co-created such acclaimed television series as Felicity, Alias, Lost and Fringe.
Production Begins on DreamWorks Pictures’ WikiLeaks Project THE FIFTH ESTATE!!!
LOS ANGELES, CA (January 23, 2013) – Principal photography has begun on the WikiLeaks drama “The Fifth Estate,” it was announced today by DreamWorks Studios. The film about the controversial website stars Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange and Daniel Brühl as Daniel Domscheit-Berg, as well as Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie, David Thewlis, Peter Capaldi, Dan Stevens, Alicia Vikander and Carice van Houten.
“The Fifth Estate” will open in U.S. theaters on November 15, 2013 and be distributed domestically by Disney’s Touchstone label. Distribution internationally will be split among Disney, DreamWorks partner Reliance, and deals made through the studio’s partnership with Mister Smith Entertainment.
Following Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Brühl), an early supporter and eventual colleague of Julian Assange (Cumberbatch), “The Fifth Estate” traces the heady, early days of WikiLeaks, culminating in the release of a series of controversial and history changing information leaks. The website’s overnight success brought instant fame to its principal architects and transformed the flow of information to news media and the world at large.
Joining DreamWorks as a co-financier on “The Fifth Estate” is Participant Media. This will be the fifth collaboration between the two companies who previously partnered on Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the 2011 Academy Award-winning smash “The Help,” “The Kite Runner” and “The Soloist.” With a focus on real issues that shape our lives, Participant creates social action and advocacy programs to transform the impact of the media experience into individual and community action. Some of their other films include “An Inconvenient Truth,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “Food, Inc.,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Waiting for ‘’Superman,’” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and the current Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film, “No.”
Bill Condon (“Kinsey,” “Dreamgirls,” “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”) will direct “The Fifth Estate” from a screenplay by Josh Singer (TV’s “Fringe,” “The West Wing”), based on “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website” by Daniel Domscheit-Berg and “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy” by David Leigh and Luke Harding. The producers are Steve Golin and Michael Sugar, with Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King joining Richard Sharkey as executive producers. “The Fifth Estate” is a coproduction between Afterworks and FBO, with Hilde De Laere co-producing for FBO. The film is supported by the Belgian Tax Shelter for Audiovisual Production.
Said director Bill Condon, “It may be decades before we understand the full impact of WikiLeaks and how it’s revolutionized the spread of information. So this film won’t claim any long view authority on its subject, or attempt any final judgment. We want to explore the complexities and challenges of transparency in the information age and, we hope, enliven and enrich the conversations WikiLeaks has already provoked.”
About DreamWorks Studios
DreamWorks Studios is a motion picture company formed in 2009 and led by Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider in partnership with The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. The company’s recent releases include Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones. The film has grossed over $150 million at the U.S. box office and has been nominated for twelve Academy awards including Best Picture and Best Director. Other releases include “Real Steel,” starring Hugh Jackman and directed by Shawn Levy, Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” based on Michael Morpurgo’s award-winning book and was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, and “The Help,” which resonated with audiences around the country and earned over $200 million at the box office and received four Academy Award nominations with Octavia Spencer winning one for Best Supporting Actress. Upcoming films include the comedy “Delivery Man,” starring Vince Vaughn, the WikiLeaks drama “The Fifth Estate,” and car racing actioner “Need For Speed.”
DISNEY JUNIOR INVITES “JAKE AND THE NEVER LAND PIRATES” FANS TO CELEBRATE JAKE’S BIRTHDAY BY SUBMITTING VIDEOTAPED BIRTHDAY GREETINGS FOR THE CHANCE TO APPEAR ON-AIR
— “Jake’s Birthday Bash” Episode to Premiere Friday, March 1
on Disney Channel and Disney Junior —
Disney Junior is inviting “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” fans to help celebrate Jake’s birthday by submitting videotaped birthday greetings for the chance to appear on Disney Channel and Disney Junior. Beginning Thursday, January 31, parents and caregivers can log on to DisneyJunior.com/JakesBirthday to download a printable birthday card for their child to decorate and showcase in a video submission wishing Jake a happy birthday. The videos will be posted on DisneyJunior.com and some will be chosen for air Monday, February 25 – Friday, March 1, leading up to the debut of a new birthday-themed episode of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” Friday, March 1 on Disney Channel (8:30 a.m., ET/PT) and Disney Junior (5:30 p.m., ET/PT).
The “Jake’s Birthday Bash” experience on DisneyJunior.com/JakesBirthday will also feature downloadable pirate-themed recipes, crafts, party favors and a “Pin the Tail on the Croc” activity. On Jake’s birthday, Friday, March 1, the site will launch an interactive treasure hunt game where kids help Jake search Pirate Island for his hidden birthday presents.
In the new episode “Jake’s Birthday Bash,” Jake’s crewmates Cubby, Izzy and Skully surprise him with a special birthday treasure hunt. The episode will launch on iTunes in conjunction with the television premiere on March 1 as part of the “Disney Junior Birthday Bash!” bundle which features birthday-themed episodes of additional favorite Disney Junior series including “Doc McStuffins” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”
Produced by Disney Television Animation, “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” consistently ranks among the Top 3 cable TV series in Kids 2-5, and for the 2012-2013 season to date, is the #1 cable TV series in Boys 2-5. The series currently airs in 163 countries and 33 different languages. “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” is executive-produced by Rob LaDuca. Mark Seidenberg is producer/story editor and Howy Parkins is the director.
Disney Junior reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary. It invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7. Disney Junior’s series blend Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love deeply with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills. Disney Junior launched in February 2011 with a daily programming block on Disney Channel. In its first year, Disney Junior posted the network’s biggest yearly audience in the daypart in Total Viewers, Kids 2-5, Boys 2-5 and Women 18-49, increasing by double-digit margins among preschooler demographics over year-ago levels. On March 23, 2012 Disney Junior added a cable and satellite channel in the U.S. Disney Junior channels in Japan, India and Disney Junior Portugal launched in fall 2012, bringing the total number of channels to 33 worldwide.