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  • Exclusive: Joseph Kahn Wraps Top-Secret Creature Feature 'Ick'; Pre-Holiday Executive Moves

Exclusive: Joseph Kahn Wraps Top-Secret Creature Feature 'Ick'; Pre-Holiday Executive Moves

Plus, my thoughts on Season 2 of 'Reacher' and Neon's new trailer for Ava DuVernay's drama 'Origin.'

Happy Friday, everybody! You made it to the weekend… and more importantly, the holiday break!

Last night, I watched Juno Temple become “The Tiger” in this week’s episode of Fargo, which also featured a hell of a performance from Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Tonight, I plan to catch up with Wonka, which is looking at an opening of around $40 million — pretty sweet for Timothée Chalamet.

In tonight’s newsletter, you’ll read about Joseph Kahn’s new movie with Brandon Routh, some pre-holiday exec moves, my Los Angeles Magazine interview with James Patterson, and Neon’s new trailer for Ava DuVernay’s Origin, plus items on Ridley Scott, Ryan Reynolds, Colin Trevorrow, Mayim Bialik, Noah Centineo, Matthew Perry, and Season 2 of Reacher. Read on for more…

Exclusive: Joseph Kahn Has Wrapped Ick, a Top-Secret Creature Feature in the Vein of The Blob

Are you ready to feel the ick, baby?

The agencies may have closed for the Christmas break but here’s a fun one before the holidays…

Joseph Kahn, the legendary music video director whose last film was 2017’s acclaimed battle rap movie Bodied, is midway through post-production on his next flick, which is titled Ick.

Brandon Routh, Malina Weissman, and Mena Suvari star in the creature feature, which is said to be in the vein of The Blob — a classic concept that hasn’t really been done since the late ‘80s, and one that Kahn has put his own unique spin on, as I’m told that he co-wrote the script.

In Ick, a dark, mysterious, and "innocuous" alien substance has slowly taken root in the world. Routh will play Hank, a failed football star-turned-high school science teacher who has spent years blaming the Ick for his limp. When the Ick eventually evolves and begins to attack, Hank must decide whether to save the life of a student who he suspects may be his daughter, or save the lives of all the other students at risk.

The film was produced by Room 101’s Steven Schneider, who met Kahn several years ago and developed a strong rapport with the filmmaker before they decided to work together.

“Joseph’s talent is undeniable, and I wanted to see him get another feature up and running,” said Schneider, who explained that Kahn brought the horror project to him because it was right in the producer’s wheelhouse.

Ick is expected to be completed next summer, and Schneider said that it’s “meant to compete with big movies” even though it was made for a fraction of other VFX-driven blockbusters.

Of note is the fact that Routh starred in Superman Returns, while Weissman played Young Kara Zor-El in Supergirl, so yes, this is Superman and Supergirl teaming up. That’s a fun additional marketing hook, no?

Of course, CAA-repped Kahn has worked with just about every major music artist on the planet, from Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, and Mariah Carey to Elton John, Eminem, and the Backstreet Boys. Kahn’s other features include Torque and Detention, and he directed the Power Rangers short that went viral nearly a decade ago. He has also dabbled in television, directing episodes of Sweet/Vicious, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Happy!

Besides playing the Man of Steel in Superman Returns, Routh is best known for his turn as Todd Ingram in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World — a role he reprises in Netflix’s anime series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. He’ll also voice Gideon Jura in the streamer’s upcoming animated series based on Magic: The Gathering. He’s repped by UTA and Main Title Entertainment.

Suvari broke out in 1999 with the one-two punch of American Pie and American Beauty before going on to star in the 2018 series American Woman, so the A-word has treated the actress quite well. Her other notable feature credits include Tony Scott’s Domino, Nicolas Cage’s Sonny, George Hickenlooper’s Factory Girl, and Stuart Gordon’s indie thriller Stuck. Suvari will soon be seen as famed actress Jane Wyman opposite Dennis Quaid in Reagan, and she’s repped by Innovative Artists and Oren Segal at MPE.

In addition to her turn in Supergirl, Weissman played Violet Baudelaire in Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, and she also played Young April O’Neil in 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. She’s repped by Paradigm and Untitled Entertainment.

Schneider is an executive producer on hit horror franchises such as Paranormal Activity and Insidious, and he also EP’d the recent M. Night Shyamalan films Old and Knock at the Cabin. Schneider also produced the acclaimed thriller Watcher starring Maika Monroe, as well as the upcoming horror movie Late Night with the Devil starring David Dastmalchian, which is one of my most anticipated films of next year.

CAA will be handling sales for Ick, so I'm sure we'll hear more about the film in the coming months, as studios and streamers will be hungry for finished content in 2024, given how the strikes affected their pipelines. Stay tuned to see where this one lands...

Pre-Holiday Executive Moves, Including an Exit at Netflix

The “suits” are on the move…

I’m hearing about some pre-holiday executive rumblings that are making the rounds on tracking boards and such.

First up, it sounds like the lovely Kate Vorhoff will be “officially” starting at Sidney Kimmel Entertainment after the holiday break. I hear she’s already started over there but she’s taking the holidays to familiarize herself with the company’s slate. Kate is coming off a stint working as Blake Lively’s executive, and she has a reputation for having a keen eye for material and a strong ability to develop ideas with writers. I wish her the best of luck at her new gig.

Elsewhere, I’m hearing that Liya Gao will be leaving Netflix’s Original Indie division to join Mike LaRocca and Michael Schaeffer at their new startup in January. As a fellow startup owner just trying to make a living doing what he loves, I wish all three of them the best of luck as well.

And finally, I’m hearing that Chris Casanova will be leaving Black Bear Pictures and that Danielle Reardon will likely be leaving ABC Studios at year’s end. I hope both land on their feet in the New Year, and both are welcome to keep me posted on their next moves, as I’m happy to keep everyone updated.

My Los Angeles Magazine Chat With One of the World’s Most Popular Authors, James Patterson

James Patterson churns out bestselling books like I churn out free newsletters.

I interviewed bestselling author James Patterson for Los Angeles Magazine and we went over our allotted time, forcing the website to present our chat in two parts, but they both turned out great.

Click here for Part 1, in which we talk about his new Alex Cross book and Amazon’s upcoming series starring Aldis Hodge, and then click here for Part 2, in which we discuss his new nonfiction book What Happens in Vegas, the time he introduced Dolly Parton at the Country Music Awards, and why Florida has been banning some of his books of late.

I love interviewing actors, writers, directors, and other artists, but it’s always a thrill to interview my favorite authors, musicians, and athletes, and I consider myself very fortunate to have done this as my job for the past 20 years, ever since I was 19 years old.

This was my second time speaking with James, and like his latest Alex Cross book, he didn’t disappoint. Head on over to Variety for our first chat back in TK.

Bits and Bobs (A Daily News Roundup)

  • Dad TV At Its Finest - It’s Friday night, so I don’t have time for a full review of Reacher Season 2, but let me just say this — it kicks an unholy amount of ass. Alan Ritchson is perfect as this character, and he’s going to be a huge movie star once he hangs up Reacher’s boots. Of course, it doesn’t look like that’ll be anytime soon, as Amazon has already (wisely) renewed the show for Season 3. The cast really helped sell this action-packed season, which was very well-paced. The stunning Serinda Swan was a very strong addition to the cast along with Shaun Sipos, and it was great seeing top-tier character actors like Robert Patrick and Domenick Lombardozzi do their thing. I binged all of Season 2 over two days, and it pains me that I’ll have to wait another year — and possibly two, who knows? — for Season 3. However, I’m confident that whenever it does return, it’s going to kick even more ass… because that’s what Jack Reacher does best.

  • What’s Going on Next Door? - Jon Hamm, who is currently killing it in Season 5 of Fargo, is set to star in. the Apple TV+ drama Your Friends and Neighbors — his first ongoing series since Mad Men, given that Fargo is a one-season deal. Based on an original idea from Jonathan Tropper (See), who will serve as showrunner and EP, Your Friends and Neighbors will find Hamm playing Coop, a recently divorced hedge fund manager who resorts to stealing from his wealthy upstate New York neighbors after being fired from his job. Everything is going fine — he’s keeping his family’s lifestyle afloat and feeling reinvigorated by his petty crime spree — until he breaks into the wrong house at the wrong time. Hamm played the male lead in Season 3 of Apple’s The Morning Show, and he also appeared in an Apple ad that saw him “begging” Tom Hanks to help him get a show of his own. Well, it seems that the streamer has finally given him his Christmas wish. Up next for Hamm A role in the upcoming Mean Girls musical. How very fetch! Is that how you say it? Hamm is repped by CAA and Connie Tavel at Forward Entertainment.

  • WB Can’t Avoid Calamity - After a week-long bidding war that saw Warner Bros. do battle with streamers such as Netflix and Amazon, the studio has come away with the second hot Ryan Reynolds package of the week, Calamity Hustle. Hailing from sibling directors Adam and Aaron Nee, who also wrote the script, the action comedy will pair Reynolds with Channing Tatum, and furthermore — they’ll play brothers on opposite sides of the law. Reynolds will play a cop whose brother is implicated in a diamond heist, forcing him to go on the run with his criminal sibling before the people he ripped off find him first. Deadline broke the news, reporting that the Nees will try to bring in the holiday comedy for $140 million, which includes roughly $50 million for Reynolds and Tatum, who will also receive a piece of the backend. This is the kind of big star-driven package that streamers have been outbidding studios for of late, but Warner Bros. has long been a Tatum believer and wanted this one bad, even though the script (set in LA, NY, and Vegas) is said to need some work (enter Reynolds, per THR). At the end of the day, the filmmakers wanted a theatrical release with a big marketing spend — that’s how people remember your movie, whereas so many Netflix titles come and go. They also reportedly turned down Universal’s next Lego movie in order to focus on building out their original IP, which may prove to be the smart move in the long run. I’m just encouraged by the fact that these guys bet on themselves… and Reynolds and Tatum. Ya gotta like those odds!

  • The Book of Halycon - Jurassic World maestro Colin Trevorrow has set up a new sci-fi thriller series at Amazon titled Halcyon, which is based on Christopher Long’s graphic novel Hiding In Time. The series involves the Witness Protection Program’s use of a seemingly infallible system that relocates families to various eras in time — and what happens when that system is breached. The series was created by

    Richard Smith, who also wrote the pilot, and Davey Holmes (Shameless) will serve as showrunner/EP. Trevorrow will also executive produce via his Metronome Film Company along with Lloyd Braun and my pal Andrew Mittman (Elvis) of 1.21, who is under an overall deal at MGM Television, where Halcyon is in development. Trevorrow will direct the pilot, and his involvement has to be seen as a coup for Amazon. This one sounds interesting, and I look forward to see who is cast…

  • Put It in the Form of a Question - The producers of Jeopardy! have relieved Mayim Bialik of her hosting duties. Bialik co-hosted last season with Ken Jennings, but due to the SAG strike, Jennings has hosted this season himself. The producers simply chose to continue with one host for the sake of continuity, and frankly, I don’t blame them. This was the right decision. Bialik did a fine job filling in, but she is not a game show host. Not that Jennings is a natural himself, but still, he’s still a better fit for the show.

  • Great, Scott! - You can’t keep Ridley Scott away from a movie set. Even though he’s in the middle of shooting Gladiator 2, he has signed on to direct the action thriller Bomb for 20th Century Studios. There were reportedly 10 bidders for this project, but Scott Free had a prior relationship to write Kevin McMullin, and convinced 20th Century to pony up for the hot project. McMullin’s short story follows a hostage negotiator who is called into action in London on the night before his wedding — unaware that he has history with the bomber. It’s described as being in the vein of Speed and Dog Day Afternoon, and it’s easy to see why Ridley was attracted to the high-octane material. It won’t, however, necessarily be his next project, as McMullin (whose script First Harvest landed on the Black List) still has to write the script. Ridley may be getting up there, but if Clint Eastwood still out there doing it at his age, there’s no reason to suggest that Ridley can’t, too. By the way, Michael Pruss will produce for Scott Free, whose Sam Roston and Rebecca Feuer brought the project to the company, and will also serve in producing capacities. Colin Greten and Catherine Hughes will oversee Bomb for 20th Century Studios. Let’s hope that sentence doesn't jinx ‘em, ‘cause it sure is a risky title. WME represents Scott and McMullin, who is also repped by 2AM.

  • Ridiculous, You Say? - Noah Centineo isn’t just waiting for scripts to be delivered to him poolside, he’s out there making moves. To that end, his company Arkhum Productions has acquired the rights to Rale Sidebottom’s book Ridiculous and Ill-Advised. Published last December, the book chronicles a group of artistic misfits who set out to make a monster movie in the heart of the Southwest, where they let their freak flags fly. Sidebottom will adapt the script himself, and Centineo hopes to have this one ready to go in front of the camera by 2025. Centineo is on the rise following his Netflix series The Recruit, which returns for a second season next year, as well as his turn in DC’s Black Adam. He’s also attached to star in The Greatest Disaster in Cinema History, which is also in development at Arkhum. Centineo is repped by WME and Definition Entertainment.

  • Good Cast for Deed - Linda Cardellini, Abbi Jacobson, Poppy Liu, Teyonnah Parris, and Luke Wilson have signed on to join Ray Romano and Lisa Kudrow in Netflix’s upcoming dark comedy No Good Deed. the series hails from Dead to Me creator Liz Feldman, who went right back to Cardellini for her new show, which follows three very different families who are all trying to buy the same home. Romano and Kudrow play the sellers.

  • Charlize and Dawn Make It Official - This isn’t that big a deal, but rather than bring Dawn Olmstead into her company Denver & Delilah, Charlize Theron has decided to form a new media venture with Olmstead as a partner, along with D&D’s Beth Kono and AJ Dix. The former CEO of Anonymous Content, Olmstead will serve as CEO of Theron’s new unnamed company, which will take over D&D’s slate and continue all of the company’s deals, including a first-look film deal at Universal and a TV deal with HBO/Max that’s currently slated to end early next year. Is this the kind of move you make before you put yourself on the block and make another move? If Reese Witherspoon’s company can sell for as much as it did, why can’t Charlize’s? Just saying…

  • The Biggest Story of the Year - Per Chartbeat, which tracks internet traffic for most major news sites, Matthew Perry’s death was the biggest story of the year. In fact, six Perry obituaries place in the top 105 most-trafficked stories of the year, with the Los Angeles Times’ obit taking the title of the year’s most-trafficked story, though I suppose we still have a couple of weeks left to go until 2024. I was going to run this little item even before the LA County Medical Examiner’s Office announced today that Perry died from the “acute effects of ketamine” — a sad ending for the Friends star, who was open about his struggles with sobriety. May this news bring some comfort and closure to his loved ones. R.I.P.

  • Condolences - To the friends and family of Cari Beauchamp, the respected film historian who chronicles the early days of Hollywood as an author, editor, and documentary filmmaker. She died of natural causes on Thursday at the age of 74, and THR has a much better obit, so head on over there to read about her colorful life and pay your respects.

Trailer Time: New Look at Ava DuVernay’s Drama Origin Is Far More Effective Than the First

Ava DuVernay recently expressed some frustration to Variety about how people haven’t been turning up to Origin screenings. She seems to imply it’s a racial thing, but respectfully, I disagree, as those same people are turning up for screenings of American Fiction and The Color Purple.

No, the problem is that Origin has, whether fairly or not, felt like homework this season. It has felt like assigned reading. A movie you don’t necessarily want to see, but a movie you should see, and a movie worthy of being seen as much as any other.

But Origin is fighting an uphill battle to the top of the screener heap this season. Again, I thought it was okay, but hardly the “masterpiece” that some are calling it. It was just far too academic — and repetitive — for my taste.

The other problem has, of course, been Neon’s marketing campaign, which has either been bad or non-existent, depending on who you ask. Well, it looks like Neon heard everyone’s complaints, as the distributor has released a new trailer that is much, much better.

Just because this movie wasn’t for me doesn’t mean that I don’t hope it finds its audience. DuVernay is a skilled filmmaker whose work demands to be seen, but do I think this kind of story is easily digestible for general audiences? No, no I do not. And someone people aren’t looking to be challenged at the movies, they just want to turn their brains off and not think about reality for the night.

But perhaps that’s the point of Origin. Looking away benefits no one…

That’ll do it for me, folks! Have a great weekend!

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