By Ray Pride



(LOS ANGELES, CA — January 20, 2015) — Showtime Networks and STX Entertainment, the newly launched film, television and multimedia studio, announced today that they have closed a multi-year output agreement to bring motion pictures distributed theatrically by STX exclusively to Showtime Networks during the premium television window. The deal will begin in 2015 and covers the studio’s theatrical releases through 2019, which will be shown exclusively on Showtime Networks and its multiplex channels including SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNELTM and FLIX®.


Additionally, STX Entertainment is commencing production on its initial film slate, with more titles to be revealed in the coming months.  The first four features include projects from Academy Award® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger GamesSeabiscuit), Oscar® nominee Billy Ray (Captain PhillipsThe Hunger Games), Oscar® winner Mark Johnson (Rain ManBreaking Bad) and Oscar® nominee Jason Blum (Whiplash). The announced projects will star Academy Award® winners Matthew McConaughey, Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman, as well as Oscar® nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor, Golden Globe® nominee Will Ferrell, Golden Globe®winner Jason Bateman, among many others.


“As we continue to enhance our theatrical portfolio, we are delighted to have this long-term partnership with STX and look forward to bringing their robust slate of films to our networks’ subscribers,” said Kent Sevener and Gary Garfinkel, Co-Heads of Content Acquisition, Showtime Networks Inc.


“STX Entertainment is the first major studio to launch in two decades, and these titles reflect the start of our diverse, long-term film strategy,” said Adam Fogelson, Chairman of the STX Motion Picture Group. “We look forward to working with Matt Blank, David Nevins, Kent, Gary and the entire SHOWTIME family as our pipeline of films finds an even broader audience on their cable and digital platforms post-theatrical.”


“We have been poring over a number of outstanding projects and creative opportunities in the last few months and we could not be more excited to be launching the STX film division with these four very distinctive motion pictures,” said Oren Aviv, President and Chief Content Officer for the Motion Picture Group. “Choosing these inaugural projects really came down to the exceptional quality of the screenplays as well as our confidence in our filmmakers and talent.”


“With Adam and Oren, we have two of the best executives in the business guiding our film activity,” said Sophie Watts, President of STX. “We are immensely proud of our broad, exciting and creatively varied film slate.”


The first STX motion pictures to debut in theaters include The Free State of Jones, based on the true story of defiant Southern farmer, Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War. Written, directed and produced by 4-time Academy Award® nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit), and produced by Scott Stuber and Jon Kilik, the action epic will star Academy Award®winner Matthew McConaughey in his next leading role after Interstellar. Route One / Union Investment Partners and Vendian Entertainment are co-financing, with IM Global overseeing international distribution.


“I’ve been looking forward to this reunion with Adam ever since we did Seabiscuit together,” said Gary Ross.  “I’ve never worked with a more thoughtful, confident, talented executive.   I’m thrilled for him in this new venture and I’m honored to be one of their first films.”


Based on the 2010 Academy Award®-winning Best Foreign Language Film, The Secret in Their Eyes is an all-star ensemble that begins production this month. Featuring Academy Award® winners and nominees in front of and behind the camera, this intensely layered mystery stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts, is written and directed by Billy Ray (writer of Captain Phillips and The Hunger Games), and produced by Mark Johnson (Rain ManBreaking Bad). STX is producing in conjunction with IM Global, with Route One / Union Investment Partners co-financing.


“I’m truly proud to be a part of the birth of this new studio,” said Billy Ray. “The people at STX are everything I could ask for in a partner: seasoned pros who are constantly doing what’s best for the movie. What else could a director want?”


Also shooting this month is an untitled, contemporary adult thriller from producers Rebecca Yeldham and Jason Blum’s Blumhouse that explores if bygones are really ever bygones. This chilling, suspense-filled film stars Jason Bateman, Rebecca Hall, and Joel Edgerton, and marks the writing and directorial debut of acclaimed actor Joel Edgerton. Blumhouse International, which recently partnered with Sierra/Affinity to license and service its upcoming films internationally not being distributed by Universal Pictures International, is overseeing international sales on the untitled adult thriller. Couper Samuelson is executive producing.


Edgerton said: “This has been a long-time passion project of mine and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be starting production with such a talented cast and in partnership with the incredible team under Adam and Oren at STX.” Added Jason Blum, “I’m excited to be in business with such a smart and nimble group.”


Comic legend Will Ferrell is attached to star in Russ and Roger Go Beyond, based on the outrageous true story of the unlikely collaboration between two maverick outsiders – controversial director Russ Meyer and his fledgling screenwriter Roger Ebert – who stormed the gates of Hollywood and forever changed the course of motion picture history. STX is eyeing a late summer start date for this wildly original comedy that will feature a variety of A-list cameos, and is producing with Mark Amin, Cami Winikoff, David Permut and Richard Waltzer.


About STX Entertainment

STX Entertainment is led by prolific businessman Robert Simonds and backed by blue chip financial partners at TPG Growth, the middle market and growth equity investment platform of TPG;  Hony Capital, a leading private equity firm in China; and business interests of Gigi Pritzker and Beau Wrigley, among others.


The studio’s Board of Directors includes many prominent players in the world of global finance and entertainment such as Frank Biondi, former President and CEO of Viacom, Inc. and Former Chairman and CEO of Universal Studios; Tony Vinciquerra, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Networks Group; film and stage producer, businesswoman and filmmaker Gigi Pritzker (Ender’s Game, Drive); David Bonderman, Founding Partner of TPG; Bill McGlashan, Managing Partner and Founder of TPG Growth; and John Zhao, CEO of Hony Capital.


After formally launching in 2014, the studio already has its first primetime series on the air with NBC’s drama series “State of Affairs,” starring Katherine Heigl.


About Showtime Networks

Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of CBS Corporation, owns and operates the premium television networks SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ and FLIX®, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME 2™, SHOWTIME® SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME®, SHOWTIME BEYOND®, SHOWTIME NEXT®, SHOWTIME WOMEN®, SHOWTIME FAMILYZONE® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ XTRA. SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD™, THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ HD, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL™ ON DEMAND, and the network’s authentication service SHOWTIME ANYTIME®. SNI also manages Smithsonian Networks™, a joint venture between SNI and the Smithsonian Institution, which offers Smithsonian Channel™. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME PPV®.


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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon