Modern-day movie moguls are generally money men in suits, playing with stock money and gambling with other people's fortunes.
But recent times have seen tighter stock-market conditions, more stringent financial operating conditions and a general lack of optimism enveloping the suits behind the creatives. Which is why everyone is delighted to see a return to the fray for two big biz players armed with a $190m war chest to pump into media and entertainment ventures. The dynamic duo in question, Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky, are well known in Hollywood and beyond. Sloan, former head of MGM, and Sagansky, a former head of CBS Entertainment, have set up Global Eagle Acquisition Corp., floated it on the stock market Stateside, raised just south of $200m, and are now scouring the globe for "a dynamic business to acquire for Global Eagle". The original target was $175m but it seems the appetite for media and entertainment businesses is returning.
Vin Diesel, currently enjoying box-office success with Fast Five, is to turn his hand to producing. He'll have to be on top of himself when it comes to spending any budget as he is also going to star in The Machine, a film at the recently re-financed MGM studio. The original script, penned by Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant, the writers of Night at the Museum and Diesel action comedy The Pacifier, will see the actor play "a human-like machine created in secrecy by the Pentagon as the world's first true ultimate weapon". No director on board yet.
Lyons on the loose
The world inhabited by film-makers such as the Coen Brothers, Paul Thomas Anderson and Paul Weitz felt a tremor recently. John Lyons, the respected and popular production chief at Focus Features, the speciality movie-making label owned by Universal Studios, stepped down from his role with the studio to pursue his own producing career and build on his philanthropic endeavours. At Focus, Lyons shepherded a host of movies through the system to the big screen, including Brokeback Mountain, The Constant Gardener and the Coens' A Serious Man. The production arm – run by James Schamus, whose credits include the screenplay for Lust, Caution – is popular among film-makers for letting them get on with making films without much interference. No doubt Lyons will be a popular man to call on as a producer.
Hope for the more mature viewer
Not every film is made for the teenage market, even though it often feels like they are. But when a studio mounts a movie with older-playing themes, it usually seeks to give the older audience stars to enjoy on screen. So the cast of Great Hope Springs, a comedy about a middle-aged couple who after 30 years of marriage attend an intense counselling weekend to examine wedlock and sex issues, is bursting with older casting draws. The impressive cast includes Tommy Lee Jones, Meryl Streep (above right) and Steve Carell, and will be directed by David Frankel. Written by Vanessa Taylor, the picture is backed by Sony Pictures and was a popular project with buyers at Cannes looking to bolster release slates in their territories.
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the playwright of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, has been tasked with writing a fresh take on Stephen King's Carrie for the big screen. The book, which was King's first published work, centres on a shy high-school pupil who unleashes telekinetic powers when pushed too far during her prom. It was adapted into a 1976 Brian De Palma movie starring Sissy Spacek. Aguirre-Sacasa is a playwright who also writes comics for Marvel, notably its meticulous adaptations of King's epic The Stand.