Archive for the ‘Producing’ Category
Reese Witherspoon’s Second Act: Big-Time Producer
From Oscar-winning actress to Emmy-winning producer: After taking charge of her career, she makes deals with HBO and Apple.
A few months ago, Reese Witherspoon realized everything had changed.
HBO’s glossy, seven-episode drama, “Big Little Lies” — which Ms. Witherspoon starred in and helped produce — won eight Emmy Awards, including the one for best limited series. From the Microsoft Theater stage in Los Angeles on Sept. 17, to swelling applause, Ms. Witherspoon spoke of how important it was to bring “women to the front of their own stories and make them the heroes of their own stories.”
Not long after that night, she found herself in demand.
“It opened a lot of doors for me,” Ms. Witherspoon said in an interview this past week. “People wanted to be in business with me as a producer in the TV space. My mission was to create television for other women, for other female storytellers that are actresses, other directors and other writers. I think it just clicked in people’s minds.”
Since then, Ms. Witherspoon has transformed herself from an actress increasingly frustrated with the roles she was being offered into a producer with a slate of projects that puts her in the company of series creators like Dick Wolf, Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy.
Last month, HBO ordered a second season of “Big Little Lies,” with Ms. Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine, among the key companies behind the show. In addition, Apple has bought three Hello Sunshine projects as part of its push to compete with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu in streaming. That amounts to a third of Apple’s TV purchases to date.
One of the series — which is set to star Ms. Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston as hosts of a fictional morning news show — marks one of the most expensive deals in TV history: With a 20-episode commitment, Apple has pledged roughly $240 million to make it, according to two people familiar with the series. Ms. Witherspoon’s other two Apple projects will star Octavia Spencer and Kristen Wiig.
Apple’s top TV executives, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, said in a statement that Ms. Witherspoon had “an extraordinary knack for being a step ahead of the zeitgeist.”
The rise of Hello Sunshine — with projects centered on strong, complicated women — syncs up perfectly with the #timesup movement, which counts Ms. Witherspoon as a major player, and gives evidence that the risk-averse Hollywood establishment may have learned something from the blockbuster success of “Wonder Woman” last year.
“People are desperate for this kind of storytelling about the female heroes that have always been in the shadows and now are coming into the light,” Ms. Witherspoon said.
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Reese Witherspoon-Zendaya Thriller ‘A White Lie’ Lands At TriStar Pictures
TriStar Pictures has secured worldwide distribution rights to the Zendaya-starring psychological thriller A White Lie, beating out six buyers in a competitive deal. Zendaya is producing the project with Reese Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter via their Hello Sunshine label.
Monica Beletsky penned the script, which is based on Karin Tanabe’s 2016 novel The Gilded Years. The film is inspired by the true story of African American Anita Hemmings who, passing as white, became the first Black woman to attend Vassar College, the country’s most exclusive school for women.
Hannah Minghella and Nicole Brown will oversee the project for TriStar .
Zendaya is repped by CAA, Monster Talent, and Skrzyniarz & Mallean. Hello Sunshine is repped by CAA and attorney Gretchen Rush. Tanabe is repped by Aevitas Creative Management. Beletsky is repped by CAA and Gang Tyre Ramer & Brown.
Meryl Streep to Star in ‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2 for HBO
HBO’s Big Little Lies is upping its star power for season two.
Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress Meryl Streep has boarded the premium cable network’s second season of the drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.
Streep will play Mary Louise Wright, the mother to the abusive Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgard), who (spoiler alert!) was revealed to have been the one who died during the Emmy-winning first season of the David E. Kelley drama based on the Liane Moriarty novel. (Skarsgard is said to be returning in some capacity for season two.)
Streep’s Mary Louise Wright is described as a woman who is concerned for the well-being of her grandchildren following her son Perry’s death. She arrives in Monterey searching for answers. (Fun fact: Kelley told THR in October that Streep — and Tom Hanks — were his dream casting goals for Big Little Lies.)
Big Little Lies took home eight Emmys and four Golden Globes and prompted the cabler to stretch beyond Moriarty’s book. Sources say season two, officially greenlit for seven episodes, will also feature the parents for Zoe Kravitz’s character, Bonnie. (Thus far, only Streep, Witherspoon and Kidman are confirmed to return as deals with the remainder of the cast are still being worked out. Sources note that the stars earned major salary bumps after Witherspoon’s sizable payday to star in and exec produce a morning show drama for Apple.)
Kelley is confirmed to return and has already penned all seven the scripts for season two, which is partially based on a story by Moriarty. HBO says season two will explore the “malignancy of lies, the durability of friendships, the fragility of marriage and, of course, the vicious ferocity of sound parenting. Relationships will fray, loyalties will erode … the potential for emotional and bodily injury shall loom.” Exec producers on season two include Kelley via his David E. Kelley Productions banner; Kidman and her Blossom Films shingle topper Per Saari, Witherspoon via Hello Sunshine, Bruna Papandrea, Andrea Arnold, Jean-Marc Vallée, Nathan Ross and Gregg Fienberg. Moriarty will produce. Arnold will direct all seven episodes and replaces Vallée behind the camera.
Streep, meanwhile, is a three-time Oscar winner (The Iron Lady, Sophie’s Choice and Kramer vs. Kramer). She earned her 21st Oscar nomination this week for her role in Steven Spielberg’s journalism film The Post. She previously earned an Emmy win for her leading role in HBO’s miniseries adaptation of Angels in America. Big Little Lies will be her largest TV role to date after Angels. She is also attached to star in J.J. Abrams TV series The Nix, which has been in the works since September 2016 and is rumored to have been set up at Amazon. Streep is repped by CAA and Gendler and Kelly.
Season two of Big Little Lies is expected to premiere in 2019 on HBO.
Kristen Wiig to Star in Reese Witherspoon-Produced Comedy Series for Apple
Kristen Wiig is set to star in a comedy ordered to series at Apple that boasts Reese Witherspoon among its executive producers, Variety has confirmed.
The 10-episode, half-hour comedy is inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld’s upcoming short story collection “You Think It, I’ll Say It.” It marks Wiig’s first regular television role since she left “Saturday Night Live” in 2012. She will also serve as an executive producer on the show.
Colleen McGuinness created the series and will serve as showrunner and executive producer. Witherspoon will executive produce via her Hello Sunshine banner along with Lauren Neustadter and Wiig. Sittenfeld will serve as a consulting producer. This also marks Apple’s first half-hour scripted comedy order.
Wiig has embarked on a successful film career since leaving “SNL,” including starring in, co-producing, and co-writing the box office hit comedy “Bridesmaids,” for which she earned an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. Her other recent film credits include “The Martian,” “Downsizing,” and “Ghostbusters.”
This marks the third project Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine have set up at Apple. She and Jennifer Aniston will also star in a currently untitled morning show drama for the streamer, and she will executive produce “Are You Sleeping,” co-produced by Chernin Entertainment with Octavia Spencer attached to star. She will also appear in a second season of the critically-acclaimed HBO series “Big Little Lies,” which she also executive produces.
In addition to the three Witherspoon projects, Apple is also prepping a reboot of “Amazing Stories” from executive producer Steven Spielberg, Ron Moore’s untitled space race drama, the drama “See” from Steven Knight and Francis Lawrence, and the docuseries “Home” from Matt Tyrnauer and Matthew Weaver.
Wiig is repped by UTA and Jackoway Tyerman. Witherspoon is repped by CAA, LBI Entertainment, and Hansen Jacobson. McGuinness is repped by WME and Hansen Jacobson.
As expected, Reese Witherspoon attended the Golden Globe Awards last night, and was quite the star of the show not to mention an inspiration to all! Big Little Lies was nominated for 6 awards and won one award in every category it was nominated in, including Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television – this of course meant Reese was honoured for her work as a producer on the show. Glamour Reese sends a massive congratulations to Reese and the entire cast and crew for their well deserved wins last night and for the on-going success and love the show is receiving – we’re so proud of Reese! Reese used her speech to highlight the bravery of the women who have come forward in the last year with stories of abuse and harassment, and Reese vowed to continue telling their stories and raising awareness of the issue. Backstage, the cast talked about the reasons for wearing black tonight, the bond between the cast, and of course season 2 of the show! You can watch the acceptance speech and backstage interviews below.
In addition, Reese also presented her friend and A Wrinkle In Time co-star Oprah Winfrey with the Cecil B. de Mille Award.
Reese walked the red carpet with friend Eva Longoria, to show support for the Times Up movement. Reese also posed with Halle Berry, Ashley Judd, Salma Hayek, Emma Stone, Billie Jean King, Geena Davis and Sharon Stone. Most of the attendees – male and female – wore black, again to show their solidarity for those who have come forward with stories of abuse and harrassment. Reese wore a custom Zac Posen gown, with Jimmy Choo shoes and Bulgari jewellery.
The first 150+ HQ photos have been added to our Gallery, with thanks to friend of the site Sara. We’ll have more coverage for you in the coming days…
• The Golden Globe Awards x117
• The Golden Globe Awards – HBO After Party x22
• The Golden Globe Awards – WB/In Style After Party x36
Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
“Big Little Lies”
“Feud: Bette and Joan”
“Top of the Lake: China Girl”
Best Performance by an Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film
Jessica Biel, “The Sinner”
Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies”
Jessica Lange, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Susan Sarandon, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Reese Witherspoon, “Big Little Lies”
Best Supporting Performance by an Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”
Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Chrissy Mentz, “This Is Us”
Michelle Pfeiffer, “The Wizard of Lies”
Shailene Woodley, “Big Little Lies”
Best Supporting Performance by an Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film
David Harbour, “Stranger Things”
Alfred Molina, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies”
Christian Slater, “Mr. Robot
David Thewlis, “Fargo”
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Apple Developing ‘Are You Sleeping’ Starring Octavia Spencer
Apple is developing a new original drama series entitled “Are You Sleeping,” starring Octavia Spencer.
Created and written by Nichelle Tramble Spellman, the series will be produced by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Chernin Ent/Endeavor Content.
The series is based on Kathleen Barber’s novel of the same name, which gives a glimpse into the obsession with true crime podcasts and “challenges its viewers to consider the consequences when the pursuit of justice is placed on a public stage.” Sarah Koenig, the creator and producer behind true crime podcast “Serial,” will consult on the series.
“Are You Sleeping” is the second project Apple has teamed with Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine on so far. In November 2017 the streamer ordered a drama set behind-the-scenes of a network morning talk show from Hello Sunshine. (Witherspoon is also set to star alongside Jennifer Aniston in it.)
“Are You Sleeping” is executive produced by Witherspoon and Lauren Neustadter for Hello Sunshine, and Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and Kristen Campo for Chernin Ent., alongside Spencer and Tramble.
How Reese Witherspoon Plans to Promote Female Directors and Writers Next Year
Reese Witherspoon is planning to take her mission to help women up a notch in 2018.
While at a holiday-themed event at the Tiffany & Co. Fifth Avenue flagship store — she’s a spokesperson for the jewelry company — the 41-year-old actress and mother of three said that women helping other woman is her top priority come the New Year.
“My production company Hello Sunshine is all based on telling stories about women by women,” she told PEOPLE. “So we want to create more opportunity and hire more female directors and more female writers.”
This year, the star famously produced and starred in the female-led HBO show Big Little Lies, which earned her several accolades already. Next up, in 2018, she’s starring alongside other powerful women such as Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling in A Wrinkle in Time, due out Mar. 9. “There’s a beautiful young woman at the center of the story, and it’s an epic story about good versus evil,” she explained.
She also announced plans to produce Luckiest Girl Alive, a movie version of Jessica Knoll’s book (and a favorite of book clubs across the nation).
In the meantime, she’s excited for a few moments to relax during the holidays, and is looking forward to “food, always food! I like gingerbread houses, cookies, chocolates … things like that.”
She’s also shopping for some special gifts, and considers herself quite the gift-giver. “I take a lot of time to think about what people really want and really like,” said Witherspoon. “For a go-to hostess gift, I like monogrammed napkins or a beautiful box of chocolates.”
For daughter Ava, she wants to get her something “really beautiful and simple, like a piece from Tiffany & Co. It’s like an heirloom. My mom gave me earrings from there when I was young, and I still have them.”
One thing she won’t be doing this holiday season? Making any New Year’s resolutions.
“I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions,” she said. “I think you sort of have to keep striving to be the best version of yourself at all moments. Sometimes you fail and sometimes you succeed. And I think it’s important to always try and do your best.”
December 9, 2017 • Category: "A Wrinkle in Time"
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Comments Off on The Hollywood Reporter’s 2017 Women in Entertainment Power 100
The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women In Hollywood feature was released this week, which included their Power 100 list – Reese was of course featured within it! Read their brief interview with her below and find a scan from the magazine in our Gallery. The special collectors issue is on sale now and has Jennifer Lawrence on the cover.
The Hollywood Reporter’s 2017 Women in Entertainment Power 100
Meet the dynamos who rocked Hollywood by creating groundbreaking TV and ‘Wonder’-ful films, scoring piles of awards and historic paydays and making room for more women to rise as the industry’s dark side was brought to light (thanks in part to three pioneers on this list) in a watershed that has already changed entertainment — and the world. Take that, Harvey!
HOW THR PICKS THE POWER 100 This year’s list spotlights 16 standout industry leaders who dominated the 2017 entertainment and media landscape and groups the rest by their role in the Hollywood ecosystem — from the film forces (working mostly on the big screen) to the reps (agents, et al). Honorees are listed alphabetically within each category.
CATEGORY Power Squad
Witherspoon scored big in 2017 with HBO’s acclaimed Big Little Lies (she starred and produced), for which she and fellow producer Nicole Kidman won an Emmy for outstanding limited series. “It showed me that audiences want to see a more accurate depiction of the female experience,” says Witherspoon, who launched her women-focused media brand Hello Sunshine in November 2016. She continues to buy book properties (including deals for A White Lie, with Zendaya attached, and Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, in which Witherspoon would also star) and will hit the big screen in March in Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time. And in a deal that has Friends fans fawning, she recently sold a new series to Apple in which she’ll star opposite Jennifer Aniston.
Best thing to come out of the Weinstein scandal “Female solidarity.”
How I’ve helped women coming up in Hollywood “Call them, email them, work with them, and support them on social media.”
Hollywood woman I’d switch jobs with for a day Dana Walden
The three guests at my dream dinner party would be “Oprah, Mindy Kaling, Ava DuVernay and my mom.”
I wish men in Hollywood knew “What it feels like to be the only one in the room.”
Last show I binged Catastrophe, Westworld
TV or film character I most identify with “The squirrel in Ice Age constantly chasing an acorn.”
How I’d spend an extra day “Sleep!”
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