The B-Roll

Sam Rami is working with game developer Naughty Dog on the film adaptation of The Last of Us. The announcement came today at SDCC, where Rami was joined on the panel with Naughty Dog game producer Neil Druckmann. Druckmann admited that he wasn’t initially interested in a Last of Us movie, but Rami changed his mind. “We saw a filmmaker that got it,” he said. Naughty Dog will have final approval in the search for a director and cast, said Druckmann, who is penning the script.

The film production team admitted to taking a meeting with Game of Throne’s Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) for the lead role of Ellie, but nothing is locked as of yet. Druckmann also admitted to being a big fan of Ellen Page, whose likeness is eerily similar to that of the character, but would not acknowledge questions about possible casting.

Page was not thrilled with her alleged digital twin, stating in a Reddit AMA at the time, “I guess I should be flattered that they ripped off my likeness. But I am actually acting in a video game called Beyond: Two Souls, so it was not appreciated.”

Before the release of the game, Ellie’s features were edited to more closely resemble actress Ashley Johnson, who voiced the character, a move Naughty Dog said had nothing to do with the Page similarities, which the studio said were purely coincidental.

Rami dropped another bomb during his unexpected SDCC appearance: He is working on an Evil Dead television script with his brother, Ivan, and Bruce Campbell. 

UPDATE: Bruce Campbell confirms he plans to star in the Evil Dead television series, provided that it gets picked up by a network:

What really happens when we sleep?

That’s the question posed by a new video from BioWare. Titled “You’ve Been Chosen: Nightmare Teaser,” the short clip opens to a young man asleep and spilling out of his bed. On the floor is a broken table lamp. Cut to the same man wearing a hoodie as he stumbles then sprints down a dark alley littered with discarded bicycles. There is a sense of panic and confusion present as he races to the end of the street. He comes upon a black Ford Mustang, finding it locked as he struggles to get inside and make his escape. From what, we don’t know. Inside the car he sees himself staring back. Cold, dark eyes meet his for a moment. Cut to a burning ring of fire on the pavement. The hooded man’s glowing face. Then he’s gasping for air as he shoots upright in bed, waking from a nightmare. 

Presumably observing all of this is the nefarious offspring of The X-Files’ Smoking Man and Lost’s Smoke Monster. We get only a brief shot of the male figure dressed in a black suit, but the billowing plumes of opaque black smoke pouring upward from where his neck should be that reinforce the dream-like, supernatural qualities of the video. 

The clip directs you to Youve-Been-Chosen.com where, for now, hosts only the single video. With it is this cryptic message:

The time is near.
They are watching.
Your Power is rising.
Cologne, Germany.

You’ve Been Chosen.

Speculation has it that BioWare will make a formal announcement at the upcoming Gamescon in August, which will be held in Cologne. 

Credit: Xbox WireCredit: Xbox WireSan Diego Comic-Con in underway, and to lead things off, 343 Industries and Scott Free Productions premiered footage from Halo: Nightfall, the live action digital series coming to Xbox in November. 

From Xbox Wire
Taking place between the events of Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians, Halo: Nightfall follows the origin story of legendary manhunter Jameson Locke (Mike Colter) and his team as they are caught in a horrific terrorist attack while investigating terrorist activity on the distant colony world of Sedra. Led by Locke, the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) agents are forced to coordinate with a Sedran commander with a remarkable history and deep-rooted mistrust of ONI. As the plot unravels, they’re drawn to an ancient, hellish artifact where they’re forced to fight for their survival, question everything, and ultimately choose between their loyalties and their lives. Agent Locke is a new character in the Halo universe poised to play a major role in Halo 5: Guardians releasing on Xbox One in 2015.

343 Industries also confirmed that Agent Jameson Locke, the central figure in Nightfall, is a playable character in Halo 5. The digital series is produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Battlestar Galactic, Heroes). Paul Scheuring (A Man Apart, Prison Break) wrote the script. 

As expected, FX announced today at a Television Critics Association presentation that Fargo will be back for a second season. The TV adaptation of Joel and Ethan Coen’s Oscar-winning film earned 18 Emmy nominations this year, the most for any FX series. Season 2 will depart from Bemidji to tell a new “true crime” story with a fresh cast of characters, similar to strategies employed American Horror Story and the upcoming second season of True Detective

“We could not be more proud of Fargo,” said the CEO of FX Networks & FX Productions, John Landgraf. “Noah’s audacious, bordering on hubristic riff on my favorite Coen brothers film earned 18 Emmy nominations—the most for a single program in our history. Fargo was nothing short of breathtaking and we look forward to the next installment.”

In a previous interview with Get In Media, writer and executive producer Noah Hawley talked about the quandary of adapting a film while eliminating the original characters. “In the case of stripping all the characters out of the movie and still calling it Fargo, it really became about telling stories in this universe, in this sort of frozen tundra, a particular type of true crimes story that isn’t true. So, basically, there were no limits for me.”

Click here to read the full interview with Hawley on the making of Fargo. And check out his advice to writers for making the leap from novelist to screenwriter. 

In a video posted today, J.J. Abrams appears in front of an X-Wing on the London set of Star Wars: Episode VII. The director is promoting the final week of the Star Wars: Force for Change initiative, calling on fans to donate in support of UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and Programs benefiting children around the world.

The contest has already raised more than $1 million for charity, with a grand prize of a visit to the Star Wars set and a walk-on role in the film. But today Abrams announced a second top prize: One winner will get an advanced screening of the latest Star Wars film in his or her local area one week before wide release. Full details on the contest are available here: www.omaze.com

A&E has ordered 10 episodes of the scripted drama series The Returned. Carlton Cuse (Bates Motel and Lost) wrote the pilot. He and Raelle Tucker (True Blood and Supernatural) will serve as writers and executive producers. The Returned is based on the International Emmy-award winning French series adapted from the film Les Revenants.

The Returned has the potential to be one of the most compelling drama series on cable, thanks to phenomenal scripts written by Carlton and Raelle,” said David McKillop, general manager and executive vice president of A&E Network. “We look forward to seeing their vision brought to life on screen.”

According to the press release, The Returned takes place in a small community where several locals, long believed to be dead, mysteriously come home, bringing with them serious consequences and “strange phenomena” as they try to integrate into society.

The suspenseful French series, which is in production on its second season and will air on Sundance Channel, centers on the stories of a teenage crash victim, suicidal bridegroom, a murdered boy, and a serial killer.

On the surface, this looks like a darker answer to ABC’s Resurrection (based on the book The Returned by Jason Mott, so that’s not confusing at all), in which the local dead wander home years later. Then there’s the 2013 three-part BBC series In The Flesh, which airs a second season of six one-hour episodes on BBC America beginning May 4.

The British series takes place after the “The Rising,” its version of the zombie apocalypse, and the subsequent “Pale Wars,” in which humans beat back the zombie menace. In the aftermath, the re-animated (called “rotters”) are rehabilitated and allowed to rejoin the population at large, dosing on a strict program of medication to subdue “rabid” behavior.

And if that doesn’t satisfy your craving for all things dead, undead, and otherwise returned, there’s a new batch of Rapture and mid-apocalyptic content coming to HBO and Amazon Prime.

The Leftovers is based on the novel by Tom Perrotta and tells the story of those who remain after 2 percent of the world’s population abruptly disappears. The series stars Liv Tyler and is executive produced by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof.

From X-Files creator Chris Carter, The After is vaguely described as eight strangers picked to live in a house “who must help each other survive in a violent world that defies explanation.” The one-hour pilot premiered on Amazon Instant in February. It has since been picked up for a series run for Prime subscribers.

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that sci-fi, supernatural, and fantasy TV is back in a big way.

As announced on StarWars.com today, director J.J. Abrams has named his cast for Star Wars: Episode VII

Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the newest addition to the Star Wars franchise.

Director J.J. Abrams says, “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”

Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.

To get to know some of the newest faces venturing to a galaxy far, far away, check out the videos below:

John Boyega in Attack the Block (2011)

Daisy Ridley - Showreel 2013

Adam Driver in Frances Ha (2013)

Oscar Isaac with Adam Driver in Inside Llewyn Davis (2013)

Andy Serkis as Goluum in The Hobbit (2011)

Domhall Gleeson as Jon in Frank (2014)

Max Von Sydow in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Patrick Dolan is a cinematograher who has spent years on the road as a video engineer with recording artists like Coldplay, Lady Gaga, The Roling Stones, and many more. In a recent interview, Dolan discussed life on the road and how he got his start in film and video. He also shared a few of his personal experiences and a side of recording artists only the crew gets to see. Below are excerpts from the full interiew that will appear on Get In Media next week. 

Coldplay Takes Scraps

Patrick Dolan: The Coldplay guys are super cool. For example, on tour the production team works a long day and then loads the equipment back onto the truck. The production guys shower at the venue and then get into the tour bus with 11 other stinky guys. You do it over and over again for six or seven days in a row. By the time the band comes in for a one-day gig, we’re all tired, grumpy, sweaty, and mad at each other. But when the band arrives, everyone steps back and says, “Hey, it’s Chris Martin and the guys. We better let them go eat.” But this band had a different approach. They say, “You guys go eat. You’ve been working your asses off. Go ahead and eat. We’ll take the scraps.” I’ve never worked with a band that was courteous and appreciative. You would never know they are rich. They are so polite and very cool people. I respect them a lot.

Arcade Fire Plays Dress Up

PD: With Jimmy Buffet, you drink a margarita and have a good time. Arcade Fire is a young band and they are very particular about everything, down to what we wear! They wanted us to wear these weird black burqas and put white baby powder on our shoulders. We were supposed to look like scary ghosts. The lead singer said, “Oh, put on these outfits. You’ll look like the Scream character.” So, suddenly you have a client telling you what to wear and your thinking, “Oh, well, this is weird, but I’ll get paid to do it.”

Hotel Party with Lady Gaga

PD: In early 2009 we were on the road with her. This was months before she became really famous. The tour enabled her to promote her first album. About six months later, she hit the big time. When we worked with her, she was doing little clubs, mainly on the east coast. We were in New York City a lot. We’d have a show at 9 p.m. By 10 p.m., we’d load out, quickly carry the equipment down 10 flights of stairs, go to Starbucks, get some pizza, set up, and wait for the next show at midnight, which was usually in another building or on an upper floor. We’d move the equipment from one location to another location everyday. But after the late show, she’d invite everyone back to her room for a fun party. On tour, we partied, which seemed like every night. 30 or 40 people would show up. We did two gigs with her every night, and then did it all over again the next day. Back then her boyfriend at the time would assist with pushing cases to the truck. I’ve never seen anyone work harder than she did.

Barbara Streisand Steals Wheat Thins

PD: Barbara Streisand would steal my Wheat Thins every night and never give them back! And she never asked, which was upsetting me. At the end of the night, she would take off her glasses and walk around the stage with her little posse. I’d see her turn around and take my Wheat Thins, which were inside my pouch, which was resting on a table. And then she’d take off with the box! The next night, the guys and I superglued the Wheat Thins box inside my pouch and then glued the pouch to the table. When she came by, she tried to pull out the Wheat Thins, but instead she pulled the table! Believe it or not, she never took my Wheat Thins again!

Mariah Carey and the Potty Dance

PD: I have to admit that Mariah Carey was a bit of a diva. One afternoon in Los Angeles, she wouldn’t let the production crew go to the bathroom! We were on camera for four or five hours at a rehearsal during setup day. Her manager says, “They’ll go the bathroom when I go to the bathroom.”

Nicole Pajer contributed reporting to this story. 

The Asylum, the production company behind Sharknado and a slew of other Syfy films featuring nefarious creatures of unusual size, is seeking $50,000 to include a “bonus” scene in Sharknado 2: The Second One.

On their Indiegogo page, Asylum pitches the concept as a chance for fans to produce a scene for the sequel. Producer David Latt promises chainsaws, sharks, and general awesomness. “We’re going to allow you intimate access into one of the most anticipated movies of 2014.” The catch? Fans have to cough up the cash if they want to know what’s in store.

Contributors don’t get to make comments on the script, story, or cast. This isn’t a crowdsourced scene taking direction from paid helpers. We don’t know how long the scene will be. “The scene we create with your participation … that’ll be just yours,” Latt says. “It’ll be a really cool feeling.”

In this case, the “produce” term only applies to funding. In fact, for $25,000 you can buy an Associate Producer credit on the film, a practice the Producers Guild of America frowns upon. But, hey, what else are you supposed to do with all that cash burning a hole in your vault/money pool? The production company famous for low-budget monster flicks and mockbusters just wants $50,000 for one more gruesome scene. With sharks. And chainsaws. And Mark McGrath?

As of 1:16 p.m. today, the campaign has raised $485 of its total goal. That jumped more than $200 in less than 30 minutes. Four of 11 total contributions came in at the $75 level, at which contributors earn a T-shirt identifying the person as a backer of the project, plus the shooting script at the $50 level, a shark “named” after him or her, and other gifts. The campaign is also donating 10 percent of the proceeds to the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami.

Full disclosure: I don’t get it. Sharknado, Mega Piranha, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid; the appeal of these films is lost on me. I can appreciate camp and absurd humor while watching D-list celebrities dismembered to VFX blood sprays in increasingly inventive ways, but I’ve never made it more than 3 minutes into an Asylum picture without checking my phone. As 15-minute Robot Chicken-style super cuts, these films might be brilliant.

That said, at issue here is a topic that has been the source of much debate. Should financially viable companies or successful celebrities really turn to Kickstarter and Indiegogo for financial backing, or is this a dastardly example of Hollywood muscling its way into the indie space to the detriment of real starving artists?

Does it matter?

Ultimately, I don’t think it does. The ratings say Syfy viewers are chomping at the bit for more of what The Asylum does best: outlandish disasters, enormous mutated creatures, and actors we’d almost forgotten were popular 20 years ago. If fans want to punch in their credit card numbers for the promise of more from their favorite former doctor or canceled TV series, why should the rest of us stand in the way of their happiness?

You can check out all the details from the Sharknado 2 campaign on Indiegogo. The deadline is May 30, 2014. All funds will be awarded even if the campaign does not meet its goal. Does that mean we only get a 15-second clip of a shark plush toy being hacked with a kitchen knife?

— Tyler A. King

At a press conference in Pasadena, Calif., NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke announced “NBC Comedy Playground,” a talent-search initiative to find the next class of fresh comedic voices. Offering a broadcast commitment to the winners for summer 2015, NBC will invite aspiring comedy writers to pitch their ideas to a an all-star panel.

The Advisory Board includes Aziz Ansari, Jason Bateman, Robert Carlock, Sean Hayes, Mindy Kaling, Jason Katims, Josh Lieb, Eva Longoria, Adam McKay, Seth Meyers, Todd Milliner, Will Packer, Amy Poehler, Craig Robinson, Maya Rudolph, Mike Schur, Adam Scott and Mike Shoemaker.

“We are taking a bold, alternative approach in what we hope will uncover original comedy minds who are looking for a way to get into the television business,” said Salke. “We love that an incredible A-list roster of producers, writers and performers have jumped in to help us find that untapped talent.”

Here are the full details from the press release:

Beginning May 1, aspiring comedy writers are asked to submit their ideas to be considered for both digital and network comedy shows. Entrants may submit up to two video samples (5-10 minutes each) of their pre-existing work, along with up to two video pitches (2-5 minutes per pitch), each describing a unique, original show idea, to www.nbccomedyplayground.com.  The Official Rules, including all eligibility requirements, are available at www.nbccomedyplayground.com.

Up to 10 finalists will be chosen by the NBC Selection Panel, and NBC will provide funding for each finalist to produce a full pilot presentation based on his/her original pitch. Two winners will be selected by the all-star comedy Advisory Board, in consultation with NBC. Each of the winners will have their show broadcast on NBC.

The remaining finalist presentations that aren’t selected will be posted to the “NBC Comedy Playground” website where the public will vote for their favorites – and the one receiving the most votes will then be developed as a digital show.