Screenwriter’s Dispatch: James Gunn’s The Belco Experiment

On his Facebook page, James Gunn announced his new project, The Belco Experiment. South America’s The Belco Company is sealed-off and the employees told to kill each other or be killed themselves, leading to an escalation of violence revealing truths about The Belco Company’s employees. Gunn said

It’s a script I wrote a few years ago, for which I have always had a deep love. Believe it or not, it’s a film that first came to me in a dream, and I woke up and wrote the first draft in a two-week fugue state binge. One of the first people to ever read the script, Jonathan Glickman, carried it around with him for years until becoming President of MGM, when he approached Peter Safran and I about financing it. I was all for it, providing two things: 1) Although it has the heart and humor my films have all had, it is also the most intense and uncompromising script I’ve ever written. It would need to stay true to that. 2) I’d only do it if we found the right director – which, in some ways, I thought was unlikely.

Reporting on producer Beryl Vertue’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Radio Times mentioned Jed Mercurio‘s next project to be an adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

According to The Hospital ReporterG.I. Joe 3‘s added Aaron Berg to join D.J. Caruso.

Deadline reports Alex Ross Perry has been hired by Disney to write a Winnie the Pooh feature with an adult Christopher Robin, who imagines the characters, returning to the Hundred Acre Wood.

Bill Prady and Bob Kushell are reportedly writing a pilot episode of a new Muppets show, in-which the Muppets gather at ABC Studios to discuss their new show. Miss Piggy needs to sign on for production to go ahead, but her relationship with Kermit The Frog is becoming complicated. Fozzie’s girlfriend and her parents are said to be guest stars.

Stephen Volk is writing a three-part adaptation of Midwinter Spirit. Vicar Merrily Watkins’ investigations into the occult and supernatural lead her to helping police investigations with a crucification connected to a hospitalised animal abuser while dealing with her failing marriage. Producer Kieran Roberts said

We’re very excited to be going into production on Midwinter of the Spirit, especially with such an amazing cast. We’re also thrilled that Stephen Volk’s superb adaptation of Phil Rickman’s gripping and chilling novel is one of the first original commissions for ITV Encore.

Ricky Gervais is writing a remake of satire French Correspondence about journalists who fake their own kidnappings during a South American uprising. Gervais said

It’s great to be part of the changing future

The British Television Academy have announced the nominations for the House of Fraser British Academy Television Awards:

  • Jeff Pope‘s Cilla is nominated for Mini Series.
  • Peter Morgan‘s The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries is nominated for Mini Series.
  • Sally Wainwright‘s Happy Valley is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Harry Williams and Jack Williams‘ The Missing is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Jed Mercurio‘s Line of Duty is nominated for Drama Series.
  • Chris O’Dowd and Nick Vincent Murphy‘s Moone Boy is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Harry Enfield‘s Harry & Paul’s Story of the Twos is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Mackenzie Crook‘s Detectorists is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • James Cordon and Matthew Baynton‘s The Wrong Mans is nominated for Scripted Comedy.
  • Andrew Davies‘ A Poet in New York is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Regina Moriarty‘s Murdered by my Boyfriend is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Jimmy McGovern‘s Common is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Peter Bowker‘s Marvelous is nominated for Single Drama.
  • Nick Pizzolatto‘s True Detective is nominated for International.
  • Beau Willimon‘s House of Cards is nominated for International.
  • Jenji KohanSara Hess and Sian Heder‘s Orange is the New Black is nominated for International.

Screen Daily reports James McEachen has written climber George Mallory biopic In High Places. Mallory’s body was discovered in 1999 800 feet from Mt. Everest’s summit from a 1924 expedition. McEachen said

I have been fascinated by George Mallory for as long as I can remember. That led directly to my own Himalayan climbs in the 90s, including leading an expedition to 27,766 foot Makalu in 1992. It was this direct experience that gave me a deep-seated respect for the bold imagination and war-hardened bravery that Mallory and his companions displayed in their quest for the summit of Everest – long before the age of Gore-Tex and titanium.

It’s been described as “an epic story about the uncompromising nature of character and the sometimes overwhelming power of dreams”

Deadline report Carl Ellsworth has been hired to write the remake of Gremlins.

They also report Peter Craig is writing an adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey.

The Guardian report Sky has commissioned Simon McDonald‘s Fortitude for a second season, featuring characters that survive.

According to The Hollywood ReporterJames Wood has adapted Jacked: the Outlaw Story of Grand Theft Auto, chronicling Grand Theft Auto executive producer Sam Houser’s battle with anti-videogame activist attorney Jack Thompson, and the rise of the series into populist infamy as a world of controversy and satire.

Radio Times report Peter Bowker has written a three-part adaptation of the novel Capital by John Lancaster, about the accomplished and unaccomplished of Pepys Street receiving a note reading “We Want What You Have”. Executive Producer Derek Wax said

John Lanchester’s wonderful, comic epic of London life, Capital, has been brilliantly adapted by Peter Bowker. I am so delighted that our production has attracted such a terrific cast.

Badass Digest report Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely are writing Avengers: Infinity War Part I and Avengers: Infinity War Part II.

Deadline reports Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner are writing the first draft of an adaptation of The Gunslinger, Stephen King’s first book in the Dark Tower series, based on the relationship between Roland and Jake, blending horror and fantasy.

Variety reports Brad Bird has begun writing The Incredibles 2. They quoted him, saying:

I’m just staring to write it, so we’ll see what happens

According to The Hollywood ReporterJ.D. Payne and Patrick McKay have rewritten Flash Gordon.

TIME have voted Richard LinklaterAmy SchumerJill SolowayKevin HartChristopher Nolan and John Oliver as their most influential artists of the year.

At Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, the amended title and synopsis for Chris Weitz and Gary Whitta‘s Star Wars Anthology: Rogue One has been released:

A rogue band of resistance fighters unite for a mission to steal the Death Star plans and bring a new hope to the galaxy.

Mark Gatiss has spoken to Radio Times about the upcoming Sherlock special, set in 1895, which he’s co-written by with Steven Moffat:

Over the years we’ve always been across each other’s Sherlock scripts because we want it to be holistic, but the upcoming episode is the first time we’ve actually written together. It’s been a real joy. I think it will carry on for the next series.

At the Tribeca Film Festival, Meryl Streep revealed she’s funding a writing laboratory for over-fourties females run by New York Women in Film and Television and taking place in North New York. Named the Writing Lab, it will be accepting from 1st May to 1st June, with eight winners to be announced 1st August. Mentors participating this year are Gina Prince-BythewoodKirsten Smith and Jessica Bendinger.

Deadline reports Jeffrey Bell and Paul Zbyszewski are writing the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s spinoff.

They also report Wes Craven is adapting We are all Completely Fine, about psychologist Dr. Jan Sayer gathering five horror scenario survivors, and discovering their dark past through support groups, as well as the monsters within and around them. Universal Cable Productions Executive Vice President Dawn Olmstead said

Wes is an icon whose films have captivated audiences for decades. We’re thrilled to be working with him and to be able to bring his enormous talent and unique blend of horror, humor and intelligence to television.

Craven’s also co-producing an adaptation of The People Under the Stairs, written by Michael Reisz, which reveals the secrets of a manor house after a death occurs there.

According to The Hollywood ReporterChad Hayes and Carey Hayes are re-writing The Conjuring, allegedly the true story of Carla Moran, who was physically and sexually abused by a supernatural demon, despite a doctor considering the abuse self-inflicted based on past trauma.

Entertainment Weekly reports Akiva Goldsman is collaborating with a new team of writers to expand the Transformers series into a cinematic universe. Hasbro Chief Executive Officer Brian Goldner said

We have in fact brought in Akiva Goldsman to lead a group of writers to really create a strategic plan around Transformers. We think there are any number of stories to be told from the brand that has been around for 30 years with amazing canon and mythology.

Deadline reports Simon Beaufoy has written Battle of the Sexes, based on the tennis match between Billie King and Bobby Riggs, after several years of writing in collaboration with King. Meanwhile, David Auburn has also written a screenplay around the same event, as is Steve Conrad.

Indian Country Today Media Network reports the Navajo actors of The Magnificent Seven spoof The Ridiculous Six walked-off the set due to what they interpreted as an offensive script by Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy. Examples given include the character names Beaver’s Breath and No Bra, a Navajo character sitting and squatting while smoking a peace pipe and feather inappropriately positioned on a teepee. Actor Loren Anthony said

One thing that really offended a lot of people was that there was a female character called Beaver’s breath. One character says “Hey, Beaver’s Breath”. And the Native woman says, “How did you know my name?” When we did speak with the main director, he was trying to say the disrespect was not intentional and this was a comedy.

Goldie Tom said

We talked to the producers about other things in the script and they said “It’s in the script and we are not going to change it.”

Marvel Entertainment have announced Captain Marvel‘s being written by Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve.

The Hollywood Reporter claim Fifty Shades Darker is to be adapted by the source material’s writer’s husband, Niall Leonard, and that he worked in Fifty Shades of Grey but was uncredited. Producer Michael De Luca said

Niall is an outstanding writer in his own right, with multiple established credits, and we are lucky to have him join Team Fifty.

Doctor Who Head Writer Steven Moffat‘s commented to Radio Times on the way the Doctor will be written in Series 9 and the decision to make the season consist of two-parters:

There is a temptation if you go into a second series with a Doctor, you think, “last series, that’s major”. You’ve got a new guy – what’s he going to wear, what’s he going to be like, is he good in those scenes, is that close up working for him? Everything is new and you solve all that. And there could be a danger that you go, “ah, it’ll be easy now”, because you’ve got an established Doctor so you’ve got to make it difficult again. You’ve got to do something different. What you always have to do with Doctor Who is not relax, is not to think we’ve cracked it now. We’re continuing to develop his Doctor which is a thing he’s very keen on. He doesn’t just want to come back being the same Doctor. He wants to move it on. That 45-and-out rhythm has served us incredibly well for ten years, but there is a slight sense sometimes – about 35 minutes into the episode, you expect the hero music. They’re not all two-parters – sometimes they’re just linked episodes. It’s just making you slightly unsure you’ll get through the story by the time the music comes up. We’ve all got to be on our toes, can’t be relaxed.”

Deadline reports Thomas Schnauz is writing Beanstalk, the Jack and the Beanstalk installment in Disney’s live-action universe.

The Verge reports Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are writing the treatment for an animated Spider-Man standalone.

Variety reports Robert Gordon‘s adapting Galaxy Quest for television.

After Valiant Entertainment announced its plans to adapt its comic books, details have now emerged from Variety:

  • Jeff Wadlow and Eric Heisserer are adapting Bloodshot, a government-resurrected soldier turned into a memoryless killing machine.
  • Heisserer is also adapting Harbinger, philanthropist Toyo Harder’s foundation pursuing superpowered beings.

The CW Television Network’s released the synopsis for Ben Sokolowski and Brian Ford Sullivan‘s Arrow: This is Your Sword:

AL SAH-HIM TAKES HIS FINAL STEPS TO ASCENSION; ROY AND THEA REUNITE — Oliver/Al Sah-him finishes his training and is left with two final tasks to become the next Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s threatens Nyssa and delivers some shocking news. Meanwhile, Malcolm makes a surprising offer to Team Arrow and Thea goes to see Roy.

Radio Times report Julian Fellowes is adapting Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne into a TV drama trilogy, about the character as he lives in Greshamsbury with his wife Mary, who grew up with her siblings Auguster Beatrice, Alexandrina and Frank, who mother Arabella’s discovered desires Thorne’s niece after his father abandoned the family with no money. Fellowes said

My own favourite among the great nineteenth century English novelists and certainly the strongest influence over my work that I am conscious of. It is tremendously exciting and satisfying to know that my adaptation of one of his best-loved novels is coming to ITV. I could not be more delighted.

ITV Drama Director Steve November said

We’re delighted to be working with Julian once again on the drama Doctor Thorne. It’s a rich and multi-layered story of class and social standing and a timeless love story which Julian has brought to life brilliantly with his inimitable wit and warmth.

The Daily Mail report Peter Morgan‘s writing a two-seasoned, twenty-episode bio-drama of the royal family, The Crown. Subjects covered involves the relationship between Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street and co-operation of constitutional matters. One such topic is King George Windsor granting Princess Elizabeth Windsor permission to marry her third cousin and deposed Greek heir apparent Lieutenant Philip Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, which generated controversy for being considered a financial deal or an untraditional mix of nationalities within British royalty. Episode one is focused on the wedding and its drama. It’s hoped the twenty-episode run this will begin will expand to sixty episodes to cover Elizabeth’s entire reign as Queen, and George’s heir apparent. A decision is reportedly still being made on whether to write Elizabeth’s mother and George’s husband, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon as comic relief or a tragic figure.

The BAFTA TV Craft Awards have awarded Writer: Drama to Sally Wainwright‘s Utopia and Writer: Comedy to Mackenzie Crook‘s Detectorists.

Avatar composer James Horner’s revealed to Hey U Guys James Cameron‘s screenplay details for the rest of the the series:

A lot of it will take place underwater. Right now, Jim has a script that he’s got – he’s got four sequels, script-wise, and he’s trying to keep it to three. He’s got so much going on, how do you keep that from expanding into a fifth sequel?

Netflix have announced Jared Stern‘s adapting Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham into a thirteen-part series.

Jeff Pope will be awarded The Alan Clarke Award on 10th May, it’s been announced by BBC News. British Television Academy Committee Chairman Andrew Newman called Pope

one of the finest exponents of his craft

while Pope said

I tend to always to be moving forward onto the next thing, so if ever there was going to be a moment to stop and look back at the work I’ve done, this is it. Writing is all about facing down the tyranny of the blank screen, but my message to all aspiring writers is that once you’ve hit that first key, you discover it’s really not so difficult as you’d imagined.

The Hollywood Reporter has revealed allegations relating to the approach taken to screenwriters by DC Entertainment:

In the early going, some in Hollywood are questioning whether Warner[ Bro]s has acted too much in haste without having fleshed out the world on which so much hinges. Grumbling among talent reps came especially in response to the studio’s strategy of hiring five writers to compete for a job on Wonder Woman, which has a June 2017 release date. On Aquaman, set for 2018, sources say Warner[ Bro]s commissioned scripts from three writers, one of whom followed the studio’s direction only to be told the rules governing the universe had changed and his work no longer was usable. Another writer has been on hold for the film for months as the studio works to define its vision. “They just haven’t been thorough about their whole world and how each character fits and how to get the most out of each writer’s time by giving them direction,” says a rep with knowledge of the process. On Wonder Woman, Warner[ Bro]s hired five writers not to work together but to compete. Each was given a treatment and asked to write a first act. Based on those efforts, the studio winnowed the number to two: Jason Fuchs (Pan) and another writer whose name the studio declines to reveal. A source not involved in the films but with close ties to the studio says the process on Wonder Woman “felt like they were throwing shit against the wall to see what stuck.” Before the five writers were brought aboard, sources say [producer] Roven asked Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades of Grey, Saving Mr. Banks) to work on the script, though a Warner[ Bro]s insider says she was never officially hired. Sources say she decided not to proceed based on her concern about the number of players who were involved — particularly when Warner[ Bro]s hired director Michelle MacLaren, whose vision contrasted sharply with Marcel’s. MacLaren subsequently left the project and was replaced quickly by Patty Jenkins, who, ironically, had been dropped by Marvel on Thor: The Dark World after being heralded as the studio’s first female director. Warner [Bro]s has had several writers pen scripts for Aquaman, set to star Jason Momoa, who will feature in November 2017’s Justice League movie. Those writers include Will Beall, Jeff Nichols and Kurt Johnstad, who now is on hold until the studio is ready to proceed.

The Wrap reports Lucia Aniello and Paul Downs have been hired by Sony to each write the next two installments of the Jump Street series: an all-female version and a crossover with Men in Black21 Jump Street was a satire of reboots, 22 Jump Street of sequels and 23 Jump Street is to be of shared universes.

IGN reports Michael Green‘s been hired as the newest Wolverine III screenwriter, working either to or from a draft by David James Kelly.

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Author: the Purple Prose Mage

I'm not Batman, but I wish that I were.

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