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Development: Former DC head joins Quibi; Noah Hawley to direct time-bending tale; cameras roll on Cats

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Dec 12, 2018, 7:10 PM EST

A former bigwig at the ever-morphing DC Entertainment has joined an upstart content service to lead off our latest development news roundup.

The Wrap reports that Diane Nelson, who was the president of Warner Bros.' DC Entertainment division until earlier this year, has been tapped as head of operations for Quibi, a brand-new mobile video start-up being launched by former DreamWorks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and one-time Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman.

Nelson spent 20 years at Warner Bros., becoming president of DC in 2009. She oversaw the creation of both the DC film universe and its TV counterpart (most of which is found on The CW). But the film franchise's shaky fortunes and the box-office failure of Justice League led to an overhaul of the former that eventually claimed Nelson as one of its casualties.

Quibi, meanwhile, has raised more than $1 billion and plans to offer thousands of pieces of original short-form content ("quick bits," aka "quibi") from the likes of Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro, Jason Blum, and others when it launches in late 2019.

Noah Hawley

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Meanwhile, Legion showrunner Noah Hawley is going to direct a feature film adaptation of "To Be Read Backwards," a short story by speculative fiction writer Matthew Baker. According to Deadline, the story is "a mind-bending take on a man who begins his life at his death and learns about himself as he, and the world, unravel in reverse," which sounds like something Hawley could sink his teeth into. A different Baker story, called "Life Sentence," is in development by Matt Reeves.

"To Be Read Backwards" has been optioned for Hawley by Fox, which seems to very much like being in business with the guy — he just finished shooting his feature directing debut, an astronaut drama called Pale Blue Dot, for the company's Fox Searchlight division, and was recruited to write and possibly direct a Doctor Doom movie, although that could get lost in the upcoming Disney-Fox merger.


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Cameras began rolling this week at Leavesden Studios in the U.K. on Cats, the feature film adaptation of the legendary Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. According to Deadline, director Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) will utilize a brand-new visual technology to transform his cast members into the title creatures.

As for that cast, the full complement of performers and their roles has been confirmed with the start of production: Taylor Swift will play Bombalurina, James Corden is Bustopher Jones, Jennifer Hudson is Grizabella, Dame Judi Dench will appear as Old Deuteronomy, Jason Derulo is Rum Tum Tugger, Idris Elba is Macavity, Sir Ian McKellen will play Gus, and Rebel Wilson is going to be Jennyanydots.

The original musical, based on T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, opened in London in 1981 and ran for 21 years, debuting on Broadway in 1982 and enjoying an 18-year stretch on the Great White Way. As of this year, it's the fourth-longest-running show in Broadway history. The long-awaited movie will arrive on Dec. 20, 2019.