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ITV Buys ‘The Americans’ For U.K. Viewers

The commercial web seals two year broadcast deal for Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys starrer with Fox.

LONDON — Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution has inked a deal with U.K. commercial network ITV for the broadcast rights to upcoming drama The Americans starring Golden Globe Award-winning actress Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys. ITV has sealed a two-year deal for the show slated to premiere on the channel “in the coming months.”

The Americans centers on the arranged marriage of two KGB spies who pose as Americans in suburban Washington, D.C. shortly after Ronald Reagan is elected President. The couple has two children who know nothing about their parents’ true identity. Tensions also heighten upon the arrival of a new neighbor, an FBI agent working in counter intelligence.

The deal was sealed by Steve Cornish, svp and managing director, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution and Sasha Breslau, head of acquired series for ITV.

Cornish said: “We have had a huge response to the show from international broadcasters since we launched it at MIPCOM and are delighted to have secured this two year deal with ITV.” In the U.S.,The Americans is scheduled for premiere on January 30, 2013 on FX Network.

The Americans is co-produced by Fox Television Studios and FX Productions. The series is executive produced by Joe Weisberg, who is also showrunner. Graham Yost (Justified, Boomtown), Joel Fields (Rizzoli & Isles) and Amblin Television’s Darryl Frank (Falling Skies, Smash) and Justin Falvey (Falling Skies, The Borgias) are also executive producers.


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Sex, spies & stoli

Keri Russell leaves ‘Felicity’ behind as a Russian double agent on ‘The Americans’

Keri Russell lies half-naked on a bed at a soundstage in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. Dressed in a black bra and stockings, her pencil skirt hiked up above her waist, she’s smiling, which is surprising given that in the past half hour, she’s been spanked on her naked rear or whipped with a belt more than 50 times.

Russell is filming the fifth episode of “The Americans,” FX’s new drama about Soviet spies in America in the early 1980s. As Elizabeth Jennings (her American name) Russell is undercover, using sex as a weapon in the soon-to-be-lost battle against capitalist oppression. This scene calls for Elizabeth’s mark, a corporate surveillance executive with a penchant for harmful sexual play, to turn unexpectedly violent.

The mechanics of the scene are tricky. After a kiss with guest-actor John Dossett, the two fall to the bed for a quick bout of fake sex. Dossett then flips Russell over, slaps her bottom twice and repeatedly whips her with a belt. Russell’s character realizes what’s happening, screams and squirms away.

In a scene of this sort, there are many details to work out. How many buttons should be undone on her peach blouse before Dossett removes it? When should Russell reach for his belt, and how long should her hands be down there? Then, when and how should he reach for the fake-leather belt which, in a true piece of showbiz magic, makes exactly the sound of a belt slashing flesh without causing Russell any pain? Continue reading Sex, spies & stoli

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‘The Americans’ on FX bets viewers will warm up to Cold War

The new 1980s-set FX series stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as KGB agents posing as a married couple in the U.S., but here it’s the Soviets wearing the white hats.

On a bone-rattlingly cold winter morning, Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are sitting in a Lincoln sedan the size of a small barge, adjusting Walkman-era fashion accouterments and whispering about the Reagan assassination attempt.

Russell and Rhys are not oddball nostalgists. The actors are shooting a scene for FX’s “The Americans,” a Cold War thriller set in the early 1980s that premieres Wednesday.

Created by former CIA officer Joseph Weisberg, the show stars Elizabeth (Russell) and Phillip (Rhys) as KGB agents who are sent to live in America, start a family and blend in as the all-American couple next door. The couple’s task is dangerous: They must feed information to the motherland while covering their tracks so that their neighbors — including a suspicious FBI agent — don’t catch wind of their Kremlin ties. Continue reading ‘The Americans’ on FX bets viewers will warm up to Cold War

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The Americans Pilot Episode to Be 97 Minutes Long

FX has announced that the pilot episode of The Americans will be a feature-length 97 minutes, up from the typical 42-44 minute running time of a typical dramatic episode of television on basic cable. The first airing of the Keri Russell/Matthew Rhys KGB spy drama will conclude at 11:37 p.m., with the first encore airing from 11:37 p.m. to 1:14 a.m. and the second encore from 1:14 a.m. to 2:50 a.m. The premiere of FX’s latest drama, which will fill the time slot vacated by American Horror Story: Asylum, will be preceded by the 2010 Tom Cruise film Knight and Day.

The Americans follows married couple Phillip (Rhys) and Elizabeth Jennings (Russell), who seem to have it all. They’re the young, happy couple that you see around town and simultaneously admire and envy, with their beautiful children and seemingly comfortable existence. However, they’re hiding something from everyone in their life, including their children – they’re agents for the KGB and involved in an arranged marriage. However, as they grow closer as a couple and Phillip begins to embrace America’s values, things get much more complicated and the two might begin to question their loyalty to a cause they once held near and dear.

The Americans also features Emmy winner Margo Martindale as Claudia, a fellow KGB agent who delivers assignments to Phillip and Elizabeth; Holly Taylor and Keidrich Sellati as their children Paige and Henry; Noah Emmerich as FBI Agent Stan Beeman, who lives next door to the Jennings family; and Maximiliano Hernández as Agent Chris Amador, Stan’s partner and a fellow member of the Counterintelligence division responsible for fighting foreign agents on American soil.

The Americans premieres Wednesday, January 30th.


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Those Cute Spies Around the Corner ‘The Americans’ With Keri Russell as a K.G.B. Agent

“The Americans,” a new spy thriller starting Wednesday on FX, has a C.I.A. pedigree, is set in the geopolitical crucible of the cold war 1980s and stars Keri Russell playing against winsome type as a Communist hard-liner who is equally adept at seducing bureaucrats, kicking the heads of her enemies through walls or inserting a bit of propaganda into her son’s homework.

It has plenty going for it as a cloak-and-dagger series, in other words, especially in a prime-time era defined by another espionage drama, “Homeland.”

But it’s the metaphorical tension of the show’s domestic conceit — a pair of deep-cover K.G.B. agents are assigned to pose as husband and wife in the Washington suburbs — that the show’s creators hope will elevate it into something more than a pulpy diversion. The bet is that beyond the clandestine window dressing, viewers may find some deeper resonance in the story of two people thrown together by fate, who end up years later with two kids, a house in the ’burbs and a superficial marriage that they keep up for appearance’s sake. Continue reading Those Cute Spies Around the Corner ‘The Americans’ With Keri Russell as a K.G.B. Agent

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The Spy Who Married Me: Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on ‘The Americans’

“The Americans,” a new espionage series set to begin on Wednesday on FX, stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as Soviet sleeper agents posing as an average married couple in the Washington suburbs in the early 1980s. (You can read more about the series here.) The show, a spy thriller/domestic drama, requires the actors to balance violent fight scenes and other action set pieces with the more delicate work of portraying a coldly professional relationship that is evolving into something more.

“It’s a real acting challenge,” Mr. Rhys said. “You have these extreme moments hand in hand with the relationship they have that grounds it, or makes it a little more human.”

Ms. Russell and Mr. Rhys didn’t really know each other before filming started. But spend any time on the show’s set in Brooklyn’s Gowanus neighborhood and multiple people will remark, unprovoked, on the chemistry between them, something that became apparent during an interview with both actors in Ms. Russell’s chilly trailer (the heat wasn’t working). Mr. Rhys wore a thick black winter coat, earning mocking scorn from Ms. Russell: “Do you want me to get you some earmuffs?” Continue reading The Spy Who Married Me: Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys on ‘The Americans’

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Release for Austenland

Sony Pictures Classics will release the film in the summer, and they will rely heavily on producer (and Twilight Saga author) Stephenie Meyer, Jerusha Hess and Shannon Hale, along with star Keri Russell to promote it and make this a chick flick extravaganza.


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Sony Classics acquires ‘Austenland’

Austenland, the Sundance Film Festival entry starring Keri Russell as an obsessive Jane Austen fan who spends her life savings to visit a “fantasy camp” in England that recreates the period’s gender and social mores, was acquired by Sony Pictures. Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Seymour, JJ Feild, and Bret McKenzie also star.

“We loved making this movie and were fortunate enough to screen it at Sundance,” said producer Stephenie Meyer (Twilight) and director Jerusha Hess in a joint statement. “The fact that Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions and Sony Pictures Classics has chosen to distribute Austenland is beyond our wildest dreams — they treat their films with the utmost care, and we are thrilled to be associated with such a prestigious distributor.”

Based on the novel by Shannon Hale, Austenland is the first film from Hess, who co-wrote her husband’s Sundance smash, Napoleon Dynamite. “Basically, a bunch of Mormon ladies sat around and made a movie together,” said Meyer on Friday night after the film premiered at Eccles Theater in Park City, Utah.


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‘Austenland’ Starring Keri Russell, Is A Delightful Hoot

This sendup of British costume dramas visiting a Regency-era theme park, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is a pleasant romp that works, writes Marlow Stern.

With the runaway success of the British TV drama Downton Abbey, audiences have developed a ravenous appetite for stately period costume dramas.

Jerusha Hess’s Austenland,making its premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, isn’t that kind of movie—rather, it’s a randy send-up of period fare and its overly devoted acolytes.

Jane (The Americans’ Keri Russell) is a 31-year-old woman stuck in a thankless job who just can’t seem to find the right guy. The reason why, however, is because she is dangerously obsessed with all things Jane Austen—from her pink, Regency-era bedroom right down to a creepy, life-sized, cardboard stand-up of Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy situated by her apartment door.

In order to satisfy her Jane Austin itch—and potentially find her own Mr. Darcy—Jane spends her life savings on an all-expenses-paid journey to Austenland, an adult theme park where, for a very hefty sum, female Austen fanatics live out their wildest fantasies in a 19th century British manor filled with dashing, chivalrous, dapper young men. Joining Jane on her quest is Elizabeth (Jennifer Coolidge), a busty, airheaded woman who she meets at Heathrow that’s in it because, well, she wants to get laid in a corset. The entire Austenland operation, meanwhile, is lorded over by the rigid Mrs. Wattlesbrook (Jane Seymour), who treats Jane like a second-class citizen since she only shelled out for “the bronze package.”

Despite an immediate attraction to Mr. Henry Nobley (JJ Feild), a mysteriously guarded fellow in the Darcy mold, Jane soon falls for Martin (Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie), an endearing goofball who, when he’s not belting out female power ballads in his shack, serves as Austenland’s stable boy and all-around Boy Friday.

Jerusha Hess, longtime screenwriter for her brother, Jared Hess, directs Austenland. The two have collaborated on the screenplays for all of Jared’s films, from Napoleon Dynamite on. Unlike Jared’s very deadpan oeuvre, this is a broad, commercial comedy bursting at the seams with fish-out-of-water jokes—mostly courtesy of the hilarious Coolidge. With her sizable bosoms about to explode out of her corset, Coolidge’s crude, rude, and lascivious behavior would seem outré in 2013, let alone the Regency era and, whether she’s sewing her glove into her patchwork or sexually harassing her prey — who just so happens to be the gayest gentleman in the house — Coolidge steals every scene she’s in.

But the film is still anchored beautifully by Russell who, as she exhibited in Waitress, and for years on Felicity, is an actor that inspires such a tremendous degree of goodwill, you can’t help but root for her. Yes, Hess’ film has its faults. Plenty of the jokes don’t land and the middle of the film, as Jane is torn between Martin and Nobley, drags a bit. But I reckon there will be plenty of women, and a few men, too, who will have a gay ol’ time in Austenland.


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Sundance 2013: Can Stephenie Meyer get Twihards to ‘Austenland’?

Men have fantasy-baseball getaways and rock-star camp. For women? There’s a Jane Austen vacation.

At least so it goes in the fictional Austenland, Jerusha Hess’ romantic comedy of the same name about a place where fans of the author can take a holiday in an English manor. There they live out a “Fantasy Island”-style getaway filled with bodices, high tea and men as fine-looking as Mr. Darcy.

Based on Shannon Hale’s novel, the film’s main character is Jane Hayes, a down-in-the-dumps thirtysomething (Keri Russell) who memorized the first three chapters of “Pride and Prejudice” at age 13 and isn’t always sure where the playacting stops and true romance begins.

“I want something real,” Hayes says at one point. She seems to find it when she strikes up a connection with Martin (Bret MacKenzie), a man who works at Austenland but is not part of the re-enactments.

Much of the action centers on the camp and its list of colorful characters, both tourists and the actor employees who populate the resort. Jennifer Coolidge co-stars as the brassy Miss Elizabeth Charming, another Austenland visitor who has never read any Austen but loves the get-ups. And Jane Seymour plays the opportunistic woman who runs the resort, in a movie that both plays off and with the trappings of Austen-mania.

Hess is a co-writer of Sundance phenomeon “Napoleon Dynamite,” which husband Jared co-wrote and directed, and that film’s playfulness is much on display here. (Among the campy touches are musical montages featuring swoony throwback pop ditties like Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and Roxette’s “Must Have Been Love,” which add to the film’s romantic whimsy.)

“My husband, Jared, doesn’t make romcoms so he couldn’t help me with the kisses,” Hess quipped after the screening. Continue reading Sundance 2013: Can Stephenie Meyer get Twihards to ‘Austenland’?