EXCLUSIVE: Seth Rogen is attached to play iconic CBS newsman Walter Cronkite in Newsflash, a Ben Jacoby-scripted drama that Stronger director David Gordon Green will direct next year. The film takes place on November 22, 1963, the day President John F Kennedy was assassinated in Texas. It was that day that television network news came of age, and Cronkite became the most trusted TV newsman voice of America, even if he wasn’t first to announce the president had died (NBC did that).
The drama is fast mobilizing and was put together by Stampede Ventures, a new company formed by former Warner Bros WW Production chief Greg Silverman. A financing deal is imminent with a distribution to come soon after. Silverman will produce with Adam Kolbrenner. Jacoby wrote a much admired script called The Ravine, a Chinatown-like look at how landowners were pushed out of Chavez Ravine to make room for the Dodgers baseball team that was moving out of Brooklyn.
Seth Rogen: Then and now
Seth Rogen: Then and now
FREAKS AND GEEKS -- Season 1 Gallery -- Pictured: (l-r) Seth Rogen as Ken Miller, Jason Segel as Nick Andopolis, Linda Cardellini as Lindsay Weir, and James Franco as Daniel Desario -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) David Krumholtz, Will Reiser and Seth Rogen (Photo by Rebecca Sapp/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 11: Actor Seth Rogen arrives at the premiere of Universal Studios 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' at Arclight Hollywood on August 11, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Seth Rogen poses at 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' photocall during the 31st American Deauville Film Festival. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 11: Actress Jane Lynch (L) and actor Seth Rogen arrive at the premiere of Universal Studios 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin' at Arclight Hollywood on August 11, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 10: Seth Rogen attends The Universal Pictures Premiere of Forgetting Sarah Marshall at Graumans Chinese Theatre on April 10, 2008 in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Actor Seth Rogen and date Lauren at the world premiere of 'You, Me and Dupree' in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul Mounce/Corbis via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05: Actor Seth Rogen arrives at GQ Celebrates 2007 'Men Of The Year' at the Chateau Marmont Hotel on December 5, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
DEAUVILLE, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 02: Actor Seth Rogen poses at the photocall for the film 'Knocked up'during the 33rd Deauville American Film Festival on september 02, 2007 in Deauville, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 13: Writer/Producer Seth Rogen and Producer Judd Apatow attend the premiere of Superbad at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on August 13, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by John Shearer/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - AUGUST 13: Producer Shauna Robertson, actors Emma Stone, Martha Macisaac, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Jonah Hill, director Greg Motola, actors Michael Cera, Aviva, executive producer Seth Rogen and producer Judd Apatow arrive to the premiere of 'Superbad' at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on August 13, 2007 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/FilmMagic)
SAN DIEGO - JULY 28: (L-R) Director/actor/producer Seth Rogen, Michael Cera and Jonah Hill arrives at the San Diego Comic Con 2007 at the San Diego Convention Center on July 28, 2007 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3378 -- Pictured: Actress Jessica Alba and actor Seth Rogen during an interview on June 4, 2007 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 20: Seth Rogen on location filming 'Funny People' on November 20, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage)
TODAY -- Pictured: Seth Rogen appears on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 13: Actor Seth Rogen and Lauren Miller arrive at the Los Angeles Premiere 'How Do You Know' at Regency Village Theatre on December 13, 2010 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
US actor, screenwriter and producer Seth Rogen poses for photographers during a photo-call for the movie 'Green Hornet' by French director Michel Gondry, in Berlin on December 3, 2010. The movie will be released in Germany on January 13, 2011. AFP PHOTO / JOHN MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)
CULVER CITY, CA - AUGUST 25: Actors Seth Rogen and Amy Poehler attend The Comedy Central Roast Of James Franco after party at Culver Studios on August 25, 2013 in Culver City, California. The Comedy Central Roast Of James Franco will air on September 2 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. (Photo by Lester Cohen/WireImage)
CULVER CITY, CA - AUGUST 25: Actor Jonah Hill (L) and roast master Seth Rogen onstage during The Comedy Central Roast of James Franco at Culver Studios on August 25, 2013 in Culver City, California. The Comedy Central Roast Of James Franco will air on September 2 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Comedy Central)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 19: Actor Seth Rogen enters the 'Late Show With David Letterman' taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater on December 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25: Writers/directors Evan Goldberg (L) and Seth Rogen introduce the screening of Sony Pictures' 'The Interview' at Cinefamily on December 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 18: Actor Seth Rogen attends the premiere of 'The Night Before' at The Theatre At The Ace Hotel on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Cast members Seth Rogen (L) and Paul Rudd pose at the premiere for the movie "Sausage Party" in Los Angeles, California U.S., August 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Cast member Seth Rogen poses at the premiere for the movie "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising" in Los Angeles, U.S., May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 22: Executive producer Seth Rogen at Hulu's 'Future Man' Press Line duirng Comic-Con International 2017 at Hilton Bayfront on July 22, 2017 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: Executive Producer Seth Rogen attends Film Independent at LACMA's special screening of 'Preacher' at Bing Theatre At LACMA on July 13, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)
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Here, Jacoby scripted a drama that revolves around Cronkite, his producer Don Hewitt, their boss Jim Aubrey, and Dan Rather, a young news man who happened to be in Texas and who first distinguished himself as a dogged reporter as he and other journalists frantically dug for truth after reports went over the wire that gunfire rang out in vicinity of the president’s motorcade. The filmmakers are drawing a strong cast — I’ve heard they are courting Mark Ruffalo for Hewitt, and Bryan Cranston for Aubrey — but right now Rogen and Green are the only ones committed.
Aubrey plays the role of antagonist here. Under pressure from William Paley to show profit, Aubrey felt CBS Evening News wasn’t performing, and wasn’t saucy enough. He threatened to remove Cronkite, and possibly scrap the whole evening newscast for programming with greater audience appeal. Faced with a lack of news gathering resources from local news affiliates, and even having to scramble to break into soap opera programming from the newsroom because when the on set lights and cameras took forever to warm up, Hewitt, Cronkite and their team proved their mettle. Their task: to filter all the unverified information and swirling rumors and find the truth that was conveyed to heartbroken Americans glued to their TV sets. Their efforts play out in real time, in a way that makes Newsflash a close cousin to the Steven Spielberg-directed The Post in chronicling a seminal moment in journalism.
This is a major step into dramatic fare for Rogen, a fixture in comedies who distinguished himself in the supporting role of Steve Wozniak in Jobs. It is a jump that has been made successfully by comic actors including Steve Carell and Rogen’s oft collaborator Jonah Hill. When Silverman gave the script to Green (they worked together on Warner Bros’ Our Brand Is Crisis), the filmmaker quickly suggested Rogen, whom he had directed in Pineapple Express. Green is currently shooting Halloween, and the plan is to shoot next spring, with an eye toward having the film ready for November 22, the 55th anniversary of JFK’s shooting death.
Jacoby is repped by Verve and Madhouse; Green by CAA and Rogen by UTA. The film is being co-repped by CAA and UTA.