According to Variety.com, outgoing ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey is joining Netflix as Vice President of Original Content for the streaming service. Dungey will report to Cindy Holland, also Vice President of Original Content, and will officially start working there in February.
“We’re delighted to be adding Channing’s expertise, leadership and deep experience to Netflix, and I look forward to partnering with her as we continue to grow and evolve our global network,” said Holland. “I have been a fan of her character and approach from our early days as executives.”
Dungey is to partner with Holland in setting strategic direction as well as in overseeing a large portion of Netflix’s slate, including some of the company’s overall deals with former ABC-based producers Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris, “Orange Is The New Black” and “Glow” producer Jenji Kohan, “Unreal” and “Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce” producer Marti Noxon, producer Steven DeKnight, and Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, among others.
“Channing is a creative force whose taste and talent have earned her the admiration of her peers across the industry,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix. “She’s a risk taker and ground-breaker and talent love working with her. I couldn’t be happier to welcome her to Netflix.”
Prior to presiding over ABC, Dungey lead the network’s drama development team. She helped develop several popular shows in that role, including huge hits “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder.” Other shows she shepherded during that time include “Quantico,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “American Crime,” and “Once Upon a Time.”
“I’m drawn to the forward-thinking, risk-taking and creative culture at Netflix, and the deeply talented people there, especially Ted and Cindy, with whom I’m excited to partner on setting the strategy for original content,” said Dungey. “Given that ABC, the place I’ve called home for nearly 15 years, represents the gold standard of traditional broadcast, it feels like the perfect next step for me to join Netflix, the unparalleled leader in streaming. I’m invigorated by the challenges ahead and the opportunity to forge new relationships, and excited for the very welcome reunion with incredible talent.”
Dungey also famously canceled ABC’s revival of “Roseanne” after series star and creator Roseanne Barr tweeted that former Obama administration aide Valerie Jarrett, who is black, looked like a cross between the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes [sic].”
Dungey previously partnered with Pamela Post at Dexterity Pictures, a production partnership focused on making both studio and independent films, as well as developing television series. She also served as president of Material, Jorge Saralegui‘s film production company based at Warner Bros. Prior to that, she worked for five years as a Warner Bros. production executive.
Dungey, a magna cum laude graduate of UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, has been a visiting professor there and serves on the school’s executive board. She is also a founding and current board member of Step Up, a national non-profit membership organization dedicated to helping girls living in under-resourced communities to fulfill their educational potential.
Forty-six years after an Aretha Franklin gospel concert film was shot and abandoned, amazement is truly in order. The Franklin estate and producer Alan Elliott have reached an agreement to release the perpetually delayed “Amazing Grace” project, Variety can exclusively reveal. Although no distribution deal is yet in place for a planned general release in 2019, the film will premiere next Monday at the DOC NYC festival, followed by week-long Oscar-qualifying runs this month in Los Angeles and in December in New York.
“In recent weeks, Alan presented the film to the family at the African American Museum here, and we absolutely love it,” said Sabrina Owens, the late star’s niece and executor of her estate, in a phone interview from Detroit Sunday. “We can see Alan’s passion for the movie, and we are just as passionate about it. It’s in a very pure environment, very moving and inspirational, and it’s an opportunity for those individuals who had not experienced her in a gospel context to see how diverse her music is. We are so excited to be a part of this.”
The premiere is a very late addition to the long-since-announced DOC NYC festival; tickets for the Nov. 12 screening at the SVA Theatre go on sale this afternoon. “Amazing Grace” is then set for a qualifying run at the Laemmle Monica Nov. 20-27, followed by a week at Manhattan’s Film Forum Dec. 7-14. Official premiere events for L.A. and Detroit are in the early stages of being planned for next year. The Franklin family and Elliott believe a distribution deal will come quickly but wanted to get the film ready for awards consideration first, then cross that bridge.
Very quietly, the film had already snuck onto the Oscars’ voting-member viewing site, and Elliott has been receiving calls of congratulation from Academy members who’ve streamed it there. The producer said he’d gotten advice from agents and prospective publicists that they should wait to put it out for another year, to allow time for a multi-million-dollar Oscar campaign — but he and Owens hope it will contend now, without that, as a word-of-mouth underdog, and not just in the documentary category but for best picture.
The film was originally scheduled to premiere at the Telluride and Toronto festivals in 2015, before Franklin’s lawyers were granted an injunction in court in Denver halting the showings. Her attorneys argued the singer had the right to deny the use of her likeness in the movie, while Elliott maintained that all rights had been granted when he bought the uncompleted footage from Warner Bros. Following the Telluride standoff, Elliott and Franklin’s team agreed to negotiate in good faith with the aim of making the singer a partner in the movie; as Variety reported, separate distribution deals with Lionsgate and Concord were on the table before talks stalled as Franklin grew more ill.
The legal wrangling created the appearance of enmity between camps, and the late singer was not always an easy read when it came to business matters. But in the midst of the imbroglio, Franklin told the Detroit Free Press that she “loved” the movie, a DVD edit of which Elliott had sent her years ago. The quality of the film itself was never at issue, as it straightforwardly documented what many Franklin buffs consider to be her greatest performance, a two-night stand of pure gospel music recorded with an ace band of Atlantic Records musicians and the Rev. James Cleveland’s choir at a South-Central L.A. church in January 1972 — as released in audio form later that year on what is still the bestselling gospel album of all time.
Elliott had been friends for years with Owens, who invited him to Franklin’s funeral in Detroit Aug. 31. Two weeks later, he went back to the Charles Wright African American Museum to screen the movie for Franklin’s family and their friends, who were all seeing it for the first time. The reaction there, they both say, was jubilant, with a feeling of urgency coming out of the screening about getting it before the public sooner rather than later.
“I think the movie stands by itself, so it would have a good run whether it’s next year or it was two or three years ago,” says Elliott. “But obviously, her singularity and her absence are really felt right now, so I think there is that energy toward rediscovering things that she did. And I feel that this performance is really her crowning achievement — and I think she felt that way too. As much as anything, I wish she had been here to be a part of it, especially since she said she loved the movie.”
Elliott hopes for a Detroit premiere in April, with plans to involve the Poor People’s Campaign and Clean Water for Flint on a charitable level. “Detroit is a powerful home base, I think, for ‘Amazing Grace’,” he says, “even though I think it’s a Los Angeles thing. too. We’ve been working with Superintendent Mark Ridley Thomas to get historical status for the New Missionary Baptist Church (where the album and film were made).”
The picture was locked for its would-be Telluride premiere three years ago, but late last week, Elliott was back in a Hollywood studio working on separate stereo and 5.1 mixes of the audio with Jimmy Douglass, a well-known engineer and mixer. Douglass is most renowned nowadays for his work on hip-hop albums like Jay-Z’s “4:44” and as Timbaland’s long-time right-hand man, but he started out in the early ‘70s working on rock, pop and R&B albums at Atlantic, where one of his first assignments was helping mix the “Amazing Grace” album.
Douglass worked on the movie, like a lot of participants, on his own dime a few years ago. Is he surprised to be working in 2018 on something he started in 1972? “I’m never surprised,” Douglass laughs, taking a break while Franklin’s perspiring image appears frozen above the mixing board. “Am I happy I’m working on it one more time? Of course I am. Always. Alan tracked me down years ago and showed up with this amazing project, and as far as I was concerned, I was the only person on the planet who should have my hands in it. There’s nobody else around who was as close to that whole school that’s actually still out there slaying the beast and still making hits that should be touching this. I was like, ‘That’s mine, I’m sorry.’ And here we are.”
Viewers might quibble over whether it’s technically a concert movie or a church service movie, but it’s foremost a music movie. “Aretha says six words in the movie,” Elliott points out. “She says, ‘What key is it, E?’ and then she says, ‘Water.’ So, obviously getting the music right is the thing we can do best by her legacy, I think.”
Douglass has worked on the movie over a period of about eight years. Elliott, considerably longer. “I’m really excited for people to get it because I think it is the premiere document of American popular music that was ever filmed,” says the producer, “and I could never figure out why we never got to see it. And it started 27 years ago when Jerry Wexler (the album’s late producer) said to me, ‘By the way, we filmed “Amazing Grace”.’ Twenty-seven years is a long time to wait to see a movie.”
Years before director Sydney Pollack’s death in 2008, he encouraged Elliott to buy and complete the footage he had shot in 1972; the filmmaker went to Warner Bros. and gave them his blessing to sell Elliott the film, which had languished in storage for decades after problems synching visuals and audio make it impossible to edit with the existing technology. The film is going out without a directorial credit, after years of debate about whether Pollack would want to be credited on a project he wasn’t able to see through after the initial shoot.
For Owens, the film “shows Aretha in a very different light. She’s very youthful, very shy, and her voice is just beautiful throughout, at an age when her voice was absolutely crystal-clear and very pure. It’s very moving and inspirational, and I enjoy it as a fan of the church and gospel music beyond just the fact that it’s my aunt singing. This just seems like the best time, because I think any time an artist passes, they’re fresh on people’s minds and hearts. But also, I think people want something in a very spiritual mode, and I think this is a feel-good movie that could be very uplifting in a time of turmoil in our country.”
WarnerMedia, the parent company of Hollywood studio Warner Bros., announced Wednesday a company-wide policy aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the camera. The initiative, established in partnership with actor Michael B. Jordan, is to apply to all productions going forward, beginning with Jordan’s “Just Mercy.”
“The WarnerMedia family has introduced an approach that accomplishes our shared objectives, and I applaud them for taking this enormous step forward,” Jordan said in a statement. “I’m proud that our film, ‘Just Mercy,’ will be the first to formally represent the future we have been working toward, together. This is a legacy-bearing moment.”
Since April Reign and #OscarsSoWhite took over headlines beginning in 2014, the entertainment industry has openly grappled with calls for more accurate and representative portrayals of more communities.
But it was, for many, Frances McDormand’s fiery speech at the 2018 Academy Awards ceremony (she won an Oscar for her lead role in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”) highlighting the concept of inclusion riders that drove some people to action.
(First coined by Stacy Smith, director of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, an inclusion rider is a provision that can be placed in stars’ contracts to mandate equity in casting and beyond.)
“Inclusivity has always been a no-brainer for me, especially as a black man in this business,” Jordan said. “[But] it wasn’t until Frances McDormand spoke the two words that set the industry on fire — inclusion rider — that I realized we could standardize this practice. It allowed me to formally pledge my production company, Outlier Society, to a way of doing business.”
WarnerMedia’s policy, which will also apply to HBO and Turner, focuses on having women, people of color, members of LGBTQ communities, folks with disabilities and other underrepresented groups in greater numbers in front of and behind the camera.
Along with the help of his agent, Phillip Sun at WME, Jordan worked with WarnerMedia to launch the policy with “Just Mercy.” Jordan is also an executive producer on the film, which is set to begin production in Atlanta this week.
“I’m proud that Warner Bros., and our sister companies HBO and Turner, are willing to state unequivocally that this is where we stand on diversity and inclusion,” Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros.’ chairman and CEO, said in a statement.
“Our policy commits us to taking concrete action to further our goals, to measure the outcomes and to share the results publicly,” he added. “I’m also thrilled that we were able to work with Michael B. Jordan to craft a meaningful policy and framework that will apply to all of our productions, across all of our divisions, going forward.”
Though the policy as written does not include specifics, the company does commit to “in the early stages of the production process, [engaging] with our writers, producers and directors to create a plan for implementing this commitment to diversity and inclusion on our projects, with the goal of providing opportunities for individuals from under-represented groups at all levels.”
“And, we will issue an annual report on our progress,” it said.
“Just Mercy” is a legal drama about a gifted young lawyer’s defense of the most vulnerable in this country and his fight for equal justice in a flawed legal system. It’s based on the book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson.
Michael B. Jordan has set legal drama “Just Mercy” as the next feature he will shoot, as Warner Bros. picks up the rights for the story.
The film was originally set up at Broad Green Pictures, but after the studio shuttered earlier this year, producers began looking for a new home, and Warner Bros. was eager to work with Jordan.
Sources say that Jordan would shoot “Just Mercy” at the beginning of 2018, and would follow that up with “Creed 2,” where he would reprise his role as Adonis Creed. “Creed 2” is slated to bow on Nov. 21, 2018. It’s currently unknown if it will stick to that date, but as of now, there’s no plan to move the release.
“Short Term 12” director Destin Cretton is helming and co-wrote the script with Andrew Lanham. Jordan will produce with Gil Netter. Niija Kuykendall will oversee for the studio.
Based on the book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” it follows the true story of Bryan Stevenson, a gifted young lawyer’s defense of the most vulnerable in our country and his fight for equal justice in a flawed legal system.
Along with “Just Mercy,” Jordan also recently set up his directing debut with “Stars Beneath Our Feet.” The actor is also gaining traction as a producer, as he is on board to produce a reboot of “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Raising Dion,” and and untitled project with Tarell Alvin McCraney for OWN.
On Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD July 25th, Unforgettable is a thriller directed by Denise DiNovi and written by Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson. The film stars Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, Isabella Rice, and Cheryl Ladd.
What’s it about?
Tessa Connover (Katherine Heigl) is barely coping with the end of her marriage, and learns that her ex-husband David (Geoff Stults) is now happily engaged to Julia (Rosario Dawson). Trying to settle into her new life, Julia believes she has finally met the man of her dreams, the man who can help her forget her troubled past. Soon, Tessa’s jealousy starts to consume her, and she will stop at nothing to turn Julia’s paradise into the ultimate nightmare. Love will not be forgotten.
How can I win the prize?
Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and list your name, email and mailing address for your chance to win the Unforgettable Blu-ray/DVD combo Pack. Contestants must be at least 18 years old. One entry per email. The winner will be notified by email. So hurry and enter by July 25th!
In theaters April 21st, Unforgettable is a thriller directed by Denise DiNovi and written by Christina Hodson and David Leslie Johnson. The film stars Katherine Heigl, Rosario Dawson, Geoff Stults, Isabella Rice, and Cheryl Ladd.
What’s it about?
Tessa Connover (Katherine Heigl) is barely coping with the end of her marriage, and learns that her ex-husband David (Geoff Stults) is now happily engaged to Julia (Rosario Dawson). Trying to settle into her new life, Julia believes she has finally met the man of her dreams, the man who can help her forget her troubled past.
Soon, Tessa’s jealousy starts to consume her, and she will stop at nothing to turn Julia’s paradise into the ultimate nightmare. Love will not be forgotten.
How can I win the prize?
Simply enter your name, email and mailing address at email@example.com for your chance to win the Unforgettable prize package including a wine glass, phone wallet, phone wipes & Fandango movie ticket codes for two seats. Contestants must be at least 18 years old. One entry per email. The winner will be notified by email. So hurry and enter by April 23rd!
According to DC Comics Universe lore, Black Lightning (real name Jefferson Pierce) – created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden, first appearing in “Black Lightning #1” (1977) – is a super-hero with the ability to generate and control lightning. Originally he was a high school principal and Olympic-level athlete who became a vigilante to take down organized crime in Metropolis’ Suicide Slum.
Eventually he would become a member of Batman’s team of Outsiders for many years, although he retired briefly to become secretary of education underneath president Lex Luthor. Returning to crime-fighting, he has also been a member of the Justice League. His two daughters operate as the super-heroes Thunder and Lightning.
And now a live-action series based on the superhero is set to come to your TV screens – The CW specifically – in a collaboration between Mara Brock and Salim Akil and Greg Berlanti, the man behind all of the CW’s DC universe series.
Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil will write and executive produce the series with Berlanti Prods.’ Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, for Warner Bros. TV (recall the Akils inked a 3-year deal with Warner Bros. after exiting BET last year; “Black Lightning” will be their second project under the new deal; the first, announced a week ago, will be a comedy series titled “Documenting Love” which will center on a modern-day power couple navigating life, love and family.
“Fast and Furious” franchise director Justin Lin is in talks to direct “Space Jam 2,” starring LeBron James, for Warner Bros. The original starred Michael Jordan, who teamed up with the Looney Tunes cast to battle a group of aliens in an epic basketball game. Lin and Andrew Dodge are writing the script for the film.
Rumors of a “Space Jam” sequel sparked last summer after James and his company SpringHill Entertainment signed a deal with Warner Bros. James has been compared to Jordan since the NBA all-star entered the league in 2003. Following Jordan’s footsteps on the big screen makes sense for James, as well as the studio, which is constantly looking for material with established brand value.
James made his acting debut in the Judd Apatow comedy “Trainwreck,” where he played himself. He received strong reviews, especially for his comedic timing opposite seasoned vets like Amy Schumer and Bill Hader.
The movie that catapulted Prince to stardom is rolling back into U.S. theaters this weekend.
“Purple Rain,” starring the late rock star, was first released in 1984 and earned Prince an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. The accompanying album also produced two #1 singles –“When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy–and went platinum 13 times over.
AMC, the nation’s largest theater chain, is teaming with Warner Bros. to screen “Purple Rain” in 87 AMC locations this Saturday, April 22, through Thursday, April 27. Carmike Theaters will also screen the cult favorite in 80 theaters.
Prince, 57, was found dead at his Paisley Park residence on Thursday. An autopsy was performed Friday to determine the exact cause of death.
Below is a list of participating theaters:
AMC North Dekalb Mall 16
AMC Phipps Plaza 14
AMC Sugarloaf Mills 18
AMC White Marsh 16
AMC Baton Rouge 16
AMC Loews Boston Common 19
AMC Liberty Tree Mall 20
AMC Methuen 20
Warner Bros. is continuing its efforts to tackle Hollywood’s diversity problem by launching an emerging film directors workshop, a talent incubator designed to give access and voice to new and underrepresented talent. The studio will begin accepting applications next month and hopes to have the workshop up and running by the end of the third quarter.
The emerging film directors workshop will provide aspiring helmers from underrepresented communities with the opportunity to showcase their work to the film world after an intensive nine-month fellowship at Warner Bros. participants will be partnered with a Warner Bros. executive mentor as they work through the entire film production process, from pitch to final cut to premiere. The inaugural class will have five filmmakers.
“Our emerging film directors workshop continues Warner Bros.’ commitment to being the industry’s most talent-focused studio,” said Greg Silverman, Warner Bros.’ president of creative development and worldwide production. “There are so many bright, creative individuals at the threshold, who just need access to bring their vision and voice to a bigger audience. By providing that access, as well as a professional network and funding for a short film, Warner Bros. will play a small part in developing the next generation of great storytellers, whether they work in film or television, at our studio or elsewhere.”
Silverman came up with the plan and spearheaded the program, which has been in development for about two years.
Designed to re-create the features production process on a micro level, the workshop will have participants pitch, write or work with a screenwriter, and develop a script for a short film that’s three to 10 minutes long and budgeted at $100,000. Once they have a final screenplay, filmmakers will work with physical production to prep, create a budget, cast, shoot on the lot and edit with a full post-production process. Warner Bros. will cover all production costs and salary for filmmakers for the duration of the workshop.
The workshop will culminate in a film festival showcasing the directors’ work that will be held for agents, managers, producers and film executives from across the industry. More information on the program and the application process can be found here.