When the creators reflect on the early success of Brassic, a frenetic British comedy that lit up the schedules of Sky, their minds turn to the man who started it all: actor Dominic West.
David Livingstone, the founder of Brassic producer Calamity Films, was making British indie film Pride when West approached him with an idea. During their time on set, West was dazzled by the wild stories of his co-star Joe Gilgun's misadventures, and told Livingstone that he should consider bringing them to the screen.
“Dominic West called me over and said, 'You should listen to these stories. Joe is the funniest person I've ever met, you should make it into a TV show,'” Livingstone recalls. “I said, 'I've never made a TV show, but I'll make it if you'll be in it.'”
West, who starred in The Wire and the BBC's recent adaptation of Les Misérables, agreed. So, armed with an actor for a yet-to-be-created role and a scattered series of stories from another actor with no writing experience, Calamity set about making its first foray into television. Livingstone's first job: find a writer. This is where The Driver creator Danny Brocklehurst came in.
Brocklehurst picks up the story: “I'd loved Joe from This Is England and Misfits, so I was really happy to meet him, but deep inside me a little bit of me did think, 'Oh god, this probably won't happen.' But actually, we just got on really well and some of the stuff he was saying was just hilarious.
“He clearly put a lot of thought into what the show could be. Joe would be the first to admit it was rough around the edges, but we soon discovered we could collaborate and work well together, and knock it into something that could be a really entertaining comedy drama. I was itching to do something in this space again.”
Calamity took it to Sky, which loved the story Brocklehurst and Gilgun had created about a working-class group of friends finding creative and often illegal ways to win at life in the northern British county of Lancashire. And so Brassic was born — and it's start to life was as frantic as the car chase that opens the first episode.
Danny-Brocklehurst left and David LivingstoneITV Studios
Before the show had even aired, Sky commissioned a second series. When it debuted, it became Sky One's biggest comedy launch in seven years with 1.7M viewers. And with Mipcom weeks away, distributor ITV Studios Global Entertainment is already striking deals with international broadcasters.
Deadline can reveal that the show has been sold to CBC Gem in Canada, France's Canal+, and ABC in Australia. Comunidad Film in Spain and New Zealand's Rio have also picked it up.
Brassic is inviting inevitable comparisons with Shameless, the comedy drama that started life on Channel 4 and has run for 10 seasons on Showtime with William H. Macy. “I don't love the comparisons with Shameless, but clearly there is a tonal similarity,” admits Brocklehurst, who worked on the original Paul Abbott show. He adds that it would “be amazing” if Brassic could be remade in the U.S. with the same level of success.
Frank Gallagher-style calamities come thick and fast in the first episode, with Gilgun's bipolar character Dylan killing a pheasant while trying to escape the police, and stealing a blonde shetland pony and dyeing its hair black. West, who started the whole thing, features as a doctor who spends more time on dating apps than listening to Dylan's woes.
Gilgun would spitball these ideas, very often through rambling late-night WhatsApp voice messages, and Brocklehurst wrestled them into a lively, fast-paced narrative. This was very purposeful.
“You have to be much more aware of grabbing the audience quickly and flying in there. I've been guilty of winding myself into a show and it takes you a while to get going. I just don't think you can afford to that at the moment,” Brocklehurst says. “I just know how unforgiving audiences are these days. There's a tendency, particularly with the lack of concentration and social media, that people like to declare things as 'slow.'”
This is partly a symptom of so much choice, which Brocklehurst thinks is a blessing and a curse for writers. “There are so many places now making drama, which is obviously great,” he says, but he does worry there is just “too much material” for audiences.
Livingstone agrees: “There's a lot of similar product out there... you do need to have a point of difference. You look at Netflix, there is such a breadth and depth of material, and I often don't know where to start.”
This is where Sky helped. “There was an advantage for us at Sky in that there is a captive Sky audience, and when Sky decides to sell something, they're pretty good and focused. You go to the gateway of Sky material, and Brassic is plastered in front of you for a significant period of time. No one is going to miss it,” Livingstone explains.
The creators were staggered by the reaction from Sky viewers. “When I first heard it [was the biggest comedy in seven years], I thought I must have been misunderstanding something,” Livingstone says. Brocklehurst says the response was “very gratifying,” including messages from colleagues and viewers.
Work is underway on series two of Brassic, while Brocklehurst and Livingstone are spinning a number of other projects. Brocklehurst has written a pilot of his BBC show The Driver for FX, with Breaking Bad's Giancarlo Esposito lined up to star. He is also developing Amazon show Dirty with Sharon Horgan about a female cop who works at night policing the sex industry.
UK genre sales firm Devilworks has added two titles to its slate for the upcoming American Film Market. Matteo Rolleri's outfit has boarded world sales rights to U.S. supernatural horror The Special by B. Harrison Smith D eath House about a young man who is offered a night of pleasure beyond his wildest imagination. Davy Raphaely Camp Dread, Dave Sheridan Sky Sharks and Sarah French Ouija House star. Alexander Bafer and Doug Henderson produce for Everything's Fire Productions, Jonathan Ilchert is executive producer for Brick Top Productions. Also on the slate is Canadian horror Welcome To The Circle,written and directed by David Fowler Born In China and starring Heather Doerksen Pacific Rim, Matthew MacCaull Tomorrowland and Taylor Dianne Robinson Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. Pic tells the story of a young girl and her father who fall prey to a secluded, madman-worshiping cult situated deep in a wood. Michael Khazen produced for High Deaf Productions, alongside Andrew Francis and Jeff Renfroe. Sam Vincent executive produced.
The Favourite and Vikings backer Screen Ireland is getting a funding increase of€1M, bringing the agency's annual capital budget to €17.2M for 2020. Screen Ireland chair Dr. Annie Doona said, “This additional funding together with the introduction of the regional uplift to Section 481 of 5%, announced last year, is an example of successful government policy, in terms of attracting new productions to regional areas. The uplift has allowed Screen Ireland to work with regional stakeholders to develop training opportunities and enhance skills, supporting production activity in these areas. Last year, Screen Ireland established a new TV drama production fund aimed at supporting high-end episodic TV drama. New projects emerging from this fund include Normal People, The South Westerlies and a slate of pilot TV comedies in partnership with RTÉ. Recent Irish movies backed by Screen Ireland include Lee Cronin's Hole In The Groundstarring Seana Kerslake, Extra Ordinary staring Maeve Higgins and Greta directed by Neil Jordan. International projects to have filmed on location in Ireland include Fate: The Winx Saga, Vikings, Nightfliers, Into the Badlands, The Rhythm Sectionand The Green Knight.
Fremantle has completed deals with both BBC in the UK and Mediengruppe RTL in Germany for upcoming crime series The Investigation. Produced by Fremantle's Scandinavian drama producers, Miso Film, and written and directed by Tobias Lindholm A Hijacking, the six-part series follows the complex investigation carried out by Jens Møller, the Head of Homicide for the Copenhagen Police, surrounding the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall.Søren Malling A Hijacking leads the cast as Møller, alongside Pilou Asbæk Game of Thrones as the prosecutorJakob Buch-Jepsen and Pernilla August Star Wars and Rolf Lassgård Downsizing as Kim Wall's parents, Ingrid and Joachim Wall. The Investigation is produced by Fremantle's Miso Film and is currently in production in Denmark. The series was developed by Miso Film together with Tobias Lindholm. It's produced by Miso Film in co-production with Outline Film for TV 2 Danmark, SVT and Viaplay with support from The Danish Film Institute's Public Service Fund and Copenhagen Film Fund. Fremantle has international distribution rights.
Everest director Baltasar Kormákur is making a supernatural volcano drama for Netflix.
The Icelandic auteur has co-created Katla with Trapped showrunner Sigurjón Kjartansson. The eight-part series is set in Iceland and begins one year after the violent eruption of the subglacial volcano Katla, which dramatically disturbs the peace and tranquility of the small town of Vik.
As people evacuate the area, the ice near the volcano starts to melt. The few remaining people manage to provide necessary community service and despite its grand location the area turns out somewhat apocalyptic. Mysterious elements, that have been deeply frozen into the glacier from prehistoric times, start to emerge from the melting ice and cause consequences no one could have ever foreseen.
Production is set to start on the project, which is written by is written by Kjartansson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Davíð Már Stefánsson, in 2020.
Kormákur has been developing the series, which is produced by his own RVK Studios, for a number of years and took it to Berlinale in 2017, where a number of linear broadcasters were thought to have been interested.
Deadline understands it is one of two projects that Kormákur is working on for Netflix — the other is thought to be a feature film.
“It's an exciting challenge to embark on this journey on Katla with Netflix and we're honored to be the first Icelandic production team to be commissioned to deliver a full series. Katla is a unique and ambitious sci-fi project that has been in development within my company, RVK Studios for a few years and we're delighted that it now has been picked up by Netflix,” said Kormákur.
Tesha Crawford, Director Netflix International Originals Northern Europe, added, “Iceland has been the home for so many series and films over the years. We are excited to be able to feature it's breathtaking surroundings in a story that is so grounded in Icelandic themes. Working with such an acclaimed talent like Baltasar Kormákur makes this project a perfect set up for us. We can't wait to see this story come to life and bring it to our members all across the globe.”
I hope you’re not sick of Joker yet, because this movie is being bandied about as a serious Oscar contender, which means we have another four months of talking about it from several different angles – and that includes diving into hot-button comments from its cast and director.
Filmmaker Todd Phillips made waves recently by essentially claiming that “woke culture” is ruining comedy, but longtime comedian and Joker cast member Marc Maron strongly disagrees. Read Maron’s dismissal of Phillips’ viewpoint below.
Within a recent Joaquin Phoenix profile at Vanity Fair, Phillips gave his thoughts on the current state of comedy:
“Go try to be funny nowadays with this woke culture. There were articles written about why comedies don’t work anymore—I’ll tell you why, because all the fucking funny guys are like, ‘Fuck this shit, because I don’t want to offend you.’ It’s hard to argue with 30 million people on Twitter. You just can’t do it, right? So you just go, ‘I’m out.'”
Maron responded to those comments on an episode of his long-running WTF podcast via The Playlist, calling Phillips’ stance “tired” and refuting his entire premise about comedians metaphorically taking their ball and going home:
“There’s plenty of people being funny right now. Not only being funny but being really fucking funny. There are still lines to be rode. If you like to ride a line, you can still ride a line. If you want to take chances, you can still take chances. Really, the only thing that’s off the table, culturally, at this juncture –and not even entirely – is shamelessly punching down for the sheer joy of hurting people. For the sheer excitement and laughter that some people get from causing people pain, from making people uncomfortable, from making people feel excluded. Ya know, that excitement.”
“As I’ve said before, it’s no excuse,” Maron continued. “If you’re too intimidated to try to do comedy that is deep or provocative, or even a little controversial, without hurting people, then you’re not good at what you do. Or maybe you’re just insensitive.”
I never would have thought that Marc Maron would be the voice of reason in the Joker discourse, but here we are. He finished up his point with one more observation:
“Bottom line is no one is saying you can’t say things or do things. It’s just that it’s going to be received a certain way by certain people and you’re gonna have to shoulder that. And if you’re isolated or marginalized or pushed into a corner because of your point of view or what you have to say, yet you still have a crew of people that enjoy it, there you go! Those are your people. Enjoy your people.”
It’s hard not to think of people like Louis C.K. during that last quote, and Maron’s points are solid here. It seems as if Phillips may not have been fully prepared to handle the intensity of the firestorm surrounding the movie he made, and Maron’s essentially saying that if you’re going to call down the thunder, then you can’t complain about it when you get soaked.
And as for “woke culture” killing comedy, what Phillips seems to be really upset about is that it’s killed a subset of comedy, one which just so happens to reflect the comedy on which he built his career. But that does not mean that there isn’t a vibrant comedy scene out there full of vastly different perspectives. For more on this, I’d recommend listening to this excellent episode of the Still Processing podcast, which touches on Dave Chappelle’s most recent special and digs into this topic even deeper.
EXCLUSIVE: Amblin Partners’ Sigourney Weaver-Kevin Kline feature reteam The Good House has added six castmembers including Deadpool franchise’s Morena Baccarin and Rob Delaney, as well as Vacation‘s Beverly D’Angelo, David Rasche, Rebecca Henderson and Molly Brown.
The pic, already shooting in Canada, is directed by Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky, based on a script they co-wrote adapted from the Ann Leary novel . The Good House follows Hildy Good Weaver, a wry New England realtor and descendant of the Salem witches who loves her wine and loves her secrets. Her compartmentalized life starts to unravel as she rekindles an old romance and becomes dangerously entwined in one person's reckless behavior.
Baccarin will play Rebecca McAllister, a beautiful, luminous woman in an unhappy marriage. She's distractible, emotional, with an air of danger around her. Baccarin just wrapped back to back films Waldo opposite Charlie Hunnam and Greenland opposite Gerard Butler. She’s starred in such TV series as V, Gotham and Homeland, the latter on which she received a best supporting actress Emmy nomination. Baccarin is repped by UTA and Seven Summits Pictures & Management.
Delaney plays Peter Newbold, a handsome and astute psychiatrist in his 40s who grew up in Wendover but now feels trapped there and his restlessness leads him to stray from his marriage. Delaney is repped by UTA, Avalon Management and Goodman Schenkman. The stand-up comedian is the co-creator and co-star of the Channel 4/Amazon Prime comedy Catastrophe. In 2016, he was nominated for a Primetime Emmy alongside his co-creator Sharon Horgan in the Outstanding Writing for Comedy Series category. He’s also starred in such movies as The Hustle, Hobbs & Shaw, upcoming Bombshell, Tom & Jerry and Last Christmas.
D'Angelo will portray the loud, gregarious best friend to Weaver’s character. D’Angelo, renowned for the Vacation franchise, can be seen recurring on the Netflix series, Insatiable. She also starred in USA’s series Shooter and HBO’s Entourage. She is repped by Innovative Artists and Link Entertainment.
Rasche will play Scott, a posh, good-natured antiques dealer. He left Hildy after coming out as gay but they share an affectionate bond, and he's the loving father to their two daughters. Rasche starred in In the Loop, Burn After Reading, Men in Black 3, Kill Your Darlings and Tribeca- and Deauville Film Festival-winning film Swallow. He is repped by Innovative Artists, Liebman Entertainment, and Schreck Rose Dapello Adams Berlin & Dunham.
Henderson portrays Tess Good, Hildy's eldest daughter and mother of Hildy's grandson. Her credits include Mistress America and HBO’s Westworld and Netflix’s Russian Doll. She is represented by Framework Entertainment.
Brown will play Emily Good, Hildy's youngest daughter, who lives in New York and is trying to make a living as an artist. She is represented by Nicolosi & Co. Credits include The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and High Maintenance.
If you were one of the lucky patrons to devour a Max Burger at Saved by the Max, enjoy the 90210 life at The Peach Pit or gobble down some Good Chunks at Good Burgerthen you will certainly will be ready to throw on your hazmat suit and enter the “ Breaking Bad Experience”, a pop up bar a restaurant which will open its doors on October 16.
From the team that brought you the aforementioned TV experiences, the “ Breaking BadExpeirence” will celebrate the critically acclaimed Emmy-winning AMC drama starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul and is timed with the October 11 debut of El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie on Netflix.
“We couldn't be more excited to bring the world of Breaking Bad to life,” said Derek Berry, one of the concept's partners. “We are always looking to further elevate the nostalgic pop-up experience into something both foodies and show fans will love. So, when the timing aligned for this to become our next concept, we saw an opportunity to cook up our most immersive experience yet.”
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan added, “It's exciting to be able to give the folks who supported the show for all these years the chance to experience Walt's world firsthand.”
Fans of Walt and Jesse, will get be able to dive into Heisenberg's world which will not only the show's trademark RV but also an assortment of Insta-worthy set recreations from all five seasons of the show. The pop-up will feature a restaurant that will include bar snacks and libations inspired by the show including Heisenburger Sliders, the Full Measure Grilled Cheese the “Half Measure” if you want it crustless!, and Loaded SAULsa Nachos, all safely served via hazmat tableside.
Tickets for the pop-up are available now. The “ Breaking BadExperience” is located at 7100 Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood.