Mark Wahlberg is hatching “The Entourage,” a comedy series for HBO about the chaotic existence of the core group of people behind a movie star.
Along with his manager Steve Levinson of Leverage Ent., Wahlberg will executive produce and develop the series, which hopes to do for assistants, bodyguards, agents, lawyers and publicists of an A-list feature star what “The Larry Sanders Show” did for the harried staff of a late night talk show.
Show is the first attempt as a series creation for Wahlberg, who will not appear in the show but expects to be involved behind the scenes. HBO has ordered a pilot script, which will be written by Doug Ellin, whose credits include scripting directing the U feature “Kissing A Fool.” While the movie star will likely be seen only in glimpses, it is unclear yet whether they will target a real one who might cameo or get a fictional composite of a star like Wahlberg’s “Perfect Storm” captain George Clooney or Bruce Willis. The Endeavor-repped Wahlberg will next be seen starring with Thandie Newton in the Jonathan Demme-directed U drama “The Truth About Charlie.”
“GONE” FOR AFFLECK: Paramount and producer Alan Ladd Jr. have optioned the Dennis Lehane novel “Gone, Baby, Gone” and will develop the private eye drama as a potential franchise for Ben Affleck, who takes over Par’s Jack Ryan franchise this summer with “The Sum of All Fears.” “Gone” was published in 1998 and revolved around an unlikely pair of Boston private eyes Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro. The book is the fifth in the gritty mystery series, and it is the second to be optioned by Ladd and Par, which also control “Prayers For Rain.” They expect to develop both after making a deal with the Ann Rittenberg Lit Agency, which recently sold another Lehane novel, “Mystic River” to Warner Bros. That book has been quickly adapted by Brian Helgeland, and Clint Eastwood expects to direct it late this year.
SCI-FI ON RADAR DOCKET: Radar Pictures, which just sold “They” to Dimension and go into production this year at Universal on “Pitch Black II: The Chronicles of Riddick” and at New Line with its “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” redo, has gone back to the horror/sci-fi well. Led by execs Tom Engelman and David Boyle, Radar’s optioned “Brain Wave,” the Poul Anderson cautionary tale about a cosmic phenomenon that drastically elevates the intelligence of all life forms on earth, as well as William Tenn’s “Child’s Play,” a horror film about a man mistakenly receiving a Christmas gift from 500 years in the future. Pics will be produced by Created By partners Ralph Vicinanza and Vince Gerardis along with Rader’s Scott Kroopf and Engelman, with Ted Field exec producing. “Rather than the usual aliens or monsters, the scifi scares in `Brain Wave’ come from the mind, and `Child’s Play’ is about creating the ultimate plaything that can’t be controlled,” said Engelman.
“BEDROOM” KATZ IN HBO EYE:With “The Laramie Project” bowing at HBO and “In the Bedroom” an Oscar contender, Gotham-based producer Ross Katz has capped a whirlwind first year by signing an overall deal to develop films for HBO under his Elemental Films banner. Katz stepped out as a producer after spending six years as a Good Machine production exec. He produced “The Laramie Project” with Good Machine’s Anne Carey and Ted Hope, and his first feature action came producing Todd Field’s’ “In the Bedroom” with Field and Graham Leader. “We watched Ross develop into a powerhouse producer, and you couldn’t ask for a bigger year than the one Ross had,” said Good Machine’s Hope.
LITERARY GRAPPLING: The prestige publisher Knopf has added to its author roster Mick Foley, who’s better known for his work in the squared circle than in literary circles. Foley, the 6’4″ 290 pound retired pro wrestler who used to be best known for wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask and answering to the name Mankind, scored a bestseller for his autobiography, “Have A Nice Day,” as well as its sequel, “Foley is Good.” Now, his managers at Braverman Bloom and Janklow-Nesbit’s Luke Janklow got a six figure deal for Foley first novel, “Tietam Brown,” about a father returning after 14 years to retrieve his son from an orphanage.