Actors Ben McKenzie and Logan Marshall-Green have joined forces to launch the shingle A Thing Or Two Productions. They come to the table in a big way. Tom Rothman’s TriStar Pictures has made a deal on a baseball memoir which the duo will produce with Michael De Luca. TriStar has optioned Wherever I Wind Up, the memoir by pitcher R.A. Dickey about his unusual life journey. Buzz Bissinger has been set to write the script. It becomes another eclectic project for Rothman’s upstart division.
McKenzie first starred on Fox’s The O.C. and now is playing the lead role of Detective Jim Gordon in the Bat-prequel series Gotham, while Marshall-Green played his brother on O.C. and has co-starred in Brooklyn’s Finest, Prometheus and As I Lay Dying. He just shot the pilot Quarry. They have been friends since doing theater together at Williamstown in 2001 and talked about partnering in a production company. It all crystallized when both sparked to Dickey’s memoir. Neither is looking to play the pitcher in the feature.
An Academic All-American at the University of Tennessee and an English lit major, Dickey didn’t write the usual jock story. His memoir was critically acclaimed as he told a tale of overcoming adversity that included being molested as an 8-year old and nearly losing his dream of becoming a pro pitcher. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers and offered a huge signing bonus, only to see the latter get taken away when the team discovered that Dickey was missing an important ligament in his pitching elbow. Undaunted, Dickey knocked around with a bunch of teams as he slowly harnessed an ability to throw the knuckleball, a pitch that fools batters because they have no idea (nor does his catcher) where the ball is going to go.
The memoir was released while Dickey pitched for the New York Mets, where in 2012 he was almost unhittable, winning 20 games, pitching in the All-Star Game, struck out 230 batters and became the first knuckleballer to be named the National League’s premier pitcher when he was voted Cy Young Award winner. Most unusual was that he hit his prime in his late thirties. He now pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Dickey was already entertaining bids for screen rights to his book when Marshall-Green and McKenzie flew to Nashville to sit with him. Their enthusiasm prompted the pitcher to entrust them with the rights, and they used their own money for the option. McKenzie, a former high school football player in Texas, was understandably enamored of Friday Night Lights author Bissinger, and enlisted him to write the script.
Dickey was repped in the deal by ICM Partners. Both McKenzie and Marshall-Green are repped by CAA, while McKenzie is managed by Management 360 and lawyered by PJ Shapiro and Marshall-Green is managed by 3 arts and lawyered by Rick Genow. Bissinger is repped by WME.
Ben McKenzie has spent his entire TV career to date at Warner Bros, starring on The O.C. and Southland. Now the actor is formalizing his relationship with a studio, signing a talent deal that includes a development component. The pact gives WBTV exclusivity on McKenzie’s services as an actor for television projects, while he also can bring the studio projects that he would star in if they go forward. McKenzie was a fresh-faced 24-year-old with virtually no credits when WBTV cast him a decade ago as the lead of its Fox teen drama The O.C. He went on to topline the studio’s cop drama Southland, first on NBC and then on TNT, and starred in WBTV’s CBS drama pilot The Advocates this past season. McKenzie is with CAA, Management 360 and PJ Shapiro.
“Southland” star Ben McKenzie will co-star with Pierce Brosnan and Salma Hayek in the indie comedy “How to Make Love Like an Englishman.”
Tom Vaughan is set to direct with Matthew Newman penning the script.
Story follows a University of Cambridge professor who finds a woman who forces him to reevaluate his life of hedonistic excess. The twist is that this comes after he gets her grad student stepsister pregnant.
Richard B. Lewis, Beau St. Clair and Kevin Frakes will produce as part of a co-production between Palmstar Media Capital, Southpaw Entertainment, Irish DreamTime and Envision.
McKenzie has done a good job over his career of balancing film and television and looks to stay busy on both following the end of his TV show “Southland.” He recently signed a talent deal with Warner Bros. TV that includes a development component which should keep him busy for years to come.
He is repped by CAA, Management 360 and PJ Shapiro.
Ben McKenzie has offered his thoughts on the cancellation of his series Southland.
Southland was officially axed last Friday (May 10), after first airing two seasons on NBC and an additional three seasons on TNT.
McKenzie – who played Ben Sherman on the police drama – has reflected on Southland’s five seasons in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“I would hope [viewers] take away that it was an honorable show,” McKenzie commented.
“It was a well-intentioned show that did its best to portray a certain side of law enforcement, particularly LAPD officers and particularly, from my point of view, patrol officers, although there are detectives in it too. And it used some of the cutting-edge things that are happening in television right now.”
McKenzie continued: “I just hope we made a good show and people enjoyed it and I hope it stands up. I hope people can watch years from now and say ‘That was a good episode’, ‘I like what they did there’, ‘I like his performance’, or ‘I like that shot’.
“I think it’s a good show, and I think that the people that really like it really, really like it. I would rather fewer people watched it and loved it for its attempts at authenticity.”
Southland earned acclaim for its realistic portrayal of the dangers faced by the Los Angeles police on the streets.
The series won two Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as a Peabody Award.
Just a day or two after the announcement that “Southland” has been cancelled, Deadline learned that CBS opted to pass on Ben’s new project “The Advocates,” which he would have co-starred with Mandy Moore. However, it is said that the pilot is being shopped elsewhere. So lets hope another network decides to pick the show up. Keeping our fingers crossed!
I’ve learned that CBS has passed on high-profile drama pilot The Advocates. The project, written by The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller and directed by David Nutter, starred Mandy Moore and Ben McKenzie as a female lawyer and a male ex-con who team up as “victim advocates,” going to the very edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog. I hear Warner Bros. TV, which produces the project, will shop it elsewhere. Also being shopped at the moment is another CBS drama pilot that didn’t make the cut, Beverly Hills Cop. So far CBS has picked up two new drama series, Hostages, also from Warner Bros., and Intelligence, from ABC Studios/CBS TV Studios.
As most of you fans are aware, TNT has opted to not pick “Southland” up for a 6th season. In a statement, the network called the decision to ax the series a “difficult” one. This is very sad news for us fans, but the show had a great 5-season run. You can read TNT’s statement below:
“We are enormously proud of Southland, which stands as one of the best police dramas ever made. Executive producers John Wells, Chris Chulack and Jonathan Lisco, along with creator Ann Biderman and our partners at Warner Bros. Television, have given us five seasons of powerful, unforgettable storytelling, for which we are deeply grateful. We also want to thank the amazing cast for their impassioned, no-holds-barred performances, and the production team for their tenacity shooting on the streets of real-world Los Angeles.We wish everyone associated with Southland the very best.”