What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:46 AM 6/26/2017

by THR Staff

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What's news: The conflicts on Lucasfilm's Han Solo spinoff are coming into focus as details leak. Plus: Early reviews for Fox's War for the Planet of the Apes are stellar, T.J. Miller exits Silicon Valley with a scorched-earth interview after the season finale and a hand-drawn Disney map draws an auction record. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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What really happened on the set of the Lucasfilm Han Solo spinoff that led to the firing of Phil Lord and Chris Miller? Kim Masters has plenty of new details: 

As soon as shooting got underway, insiders say, it started to become clear that Kathleen Kennedy’s stated intention of hiring directors who would put their own spin on Star Wars movies had led to a mismatch. Some insiders say that while the talent of Lord and Miller is undeniable, nothing in their background prepared them for a movie of this size and scope.

These sources say they relied too heavily on the improvisational style that served them so well in live-action comedy and animation but does not work on a set with hundreds of crew members waiting for direction. “You have to make decisions much earlier than what they’re used to,” one of these sources says. “I don’t know if it’s because there were two of them but they were not decisive.”

Production department heads began to complain. While the pair appeared to listen when told of festering problems, this person says their approach did not change. But the source close to Lord and Miller acknowledges they have always worked in an improvisational style and not just add comedic elements.

"They collaborate closely with their actors and give them creative freedom that, in their experience, brings out the actors' best performances," this person says. "Lawrence Kasdan would not allow this and demanded that every line was said word for word. To appease him and the studio, Lord and Miller would do several takes exactly as written and then shoot additional takes." Much more here. 

Acting coach hired for Han Solo star. Not entirely satisfied with the performance that the directors were eliciting from Rules Don't Apply star Alden Ehrenreich, Lucasfilm decided to bring in an acting coach. (Hiring a coach is not unusual; hiring one that late in production is.) Lord and Miller suggested writer-director Maggie Kiley, who worked with them on 21 Jump Street.

  • Fox's 'Apes' Looks Like a Win

    In what could be a much-needed jolt to the summer box office, Fox's War for the Planet of the Apes is getting strong early notices from top critics. Todd McCarty writes in his review: 

    Almost as rare as winning the Triple Crown in horse racing is to make a film trilogy that clicks from beginning to end, but Fox has pretty much pulled it off with its refurbished Planet of the Apes trio.

    After surprising everyone who felt that the half-century-old franchise had been buried for good by Tim Burton's lamentable monkeyshines in 2001, the "Caesar" triptych — rooted in Andy Serkis' indelible performance as a reluctant rebel leader, splendid special effects and a shrewd racial/political thematic thread — amply satisfies as a smart sub-set of the nine-and-counting Apes features and two TV shows.

    War for the Planet of the Apes will give Fox plenty to beat its chest about in the wake of Rise, which raked in $482M worldwide, and Dawn, which leapfrogged that to a $710M planetary total. The bottom line: The Apes score a hat trick.

    + Early takes: The Guardian: "a bold, sweeping adventure told with confidence and intensity." Vox: "seals the blockbuster trilogy’s status as the decade’s best." Screen Daily: "smart and noble conclusion to the Apes trilogy." EW: "the best entry in the series."

    Elsewhere in film... 

    U.S. box office: Transformers 5 hits franchise low. The Paramount sequel posted a dismal five-day domestic debut of $69.1M, including a Friday-Saturday gross of $45.3M.

    + Pamela McClintock notes: It will now be up to newly installed Paramount chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos to decide the fate of any chapters beyond the spinoff. The untitled Bumblee movie, starring Hailee Steinfeld and directed by Travis Knight, starts shooting later this summer and is said to be far cheaper than any of the previous films. Full U.S. wrap. 

    China box office: Transformers 5 opens huge. The critically maligned franchise opened to a big $123M in the Middle Kingdom over the weekend.

    Patrick Brzeski notes: Some in the market might view that tally as just a touch disappointing. Going into the summer, the big question for China industry watchers was whether Universal's Fast 8 or Paramount's T5 would emerge as 2017's local box-office champ. It's now clear: Fast 8 opened to $190M on its way to a historic $393M China haul. Full China wrap. 

    ^Exec suite Q&A: Hannah Minghella. The daughter of Anthony Minghella and president of TriStar opens up to Tatiana Siegel in her Culver City office about Sony's hands-off approach (really) and new CEO Tony Vinciquerra: "We're genre agnostic and budget agnostic."

    Directors Guild picks new president. Thomas Schlamme, whose latest project is FX's Snowfall, has been elected president as voted by the delegates at the guild’s national biennial convention in Los Angeles on Saturday.

    SAG-AFTRA planning to send strike authorization to members. A month of talks between SAG-AFTRA and the studios have failed to produce a deal. Citing “outrageous rollbacks,” the union’s national board on Sunday voted unanimously to send out strike authorization ballots to its members, the organization's website indicates, unless a deal is reached by Friday.

    Universal unveils Pitch Perfect 3 trailer. The first full clip has arrived, bringing together Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Elizabeth Banks and Hailee Steinfeld for the "farewell tour" of the a capella trilogy. Watch here. 

    ► Hand-drawn Disney map sets auction record. Company founder Walt Disney and artist Herb Ryman created the blueprint for the park over one legendary 1953 weekend. The final price at auction this weekend? $708,000.

    Jerrod Carmichael on the joke Michael Bay asked him to change. A fun Q&A with The Last Knight actor also reveals why he won't join another existing franchise (despite enjoying himself on set): "Mark my words, this is my first and my last."

    Rep Sheet Roundup: French actor Olivier Martinez, who most recently starred in Nat Geo’s Mars, signs with APA … Jenna Ortega, who plays young Jane in The CW’s Jane the Virgin, signs with CAA … John Waters signs with Saville Productions for commercial directing work … Frankie Shaw, star of Showtime’s SMILF, has signed with 42West. More. 

  • 'Silicon Valley' Exit Tales

    John P. Johnson/HBO

    Last night's season finale of Silicon Valley marked end of the road for Erlich Bachman, and Bryn Elise Sandberg got two sides of the story for T.J. Miller's talked about exit.

    How T.J. Miller tells the story: 

    "They came to me and said, 'Look, we’re not going to pick up your contingency because we want to offer you doing five episodes out of the ten, or three episodes.' And then when I said, 'Oh perfect, I had been wanting to ask if you guys would open to me leaving the show.' And then they suddenly said, 'Wait, no, what? You can do whatever. What? What do you mean?' And that was so good of them. They said, 'Look, we wanted to reduce ... We just wanted you to have more time to do all of the things you’re doing.'

    And I said, 'Well, the best way for me to be involved in the show is by no longer being on it.' I swear to god, that’s why the internet broke. Everybody was like, 'What the f— are you talking about? You’re on this successful show. Don’t you want three more years of solid acting work and don’t you want to be a famous television actor?' And I was like, 'No, not really.'" Full T.J. Miller Q&A

    How co-showrunner Mike Judge tells the story: 

    "It was kind of becoming clear that he didn't want to do the show anymore, but we wanted to leave it so that there would an opportunity to come back at some point. When the season was done, we talked to T.J. and said, 'Do you want to come back for part of it?' And he just wanted to move on."

    Judge added that the producers intended to give Miller an out if he wanted to take it. "I think if somebody doesn't want to do it, you don't want to force them to. I certainly don't," said the executive producer. "It also wouldn't make for a very good work environment." Full Mike Judge Q&A. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Netflix cancels Girlboss after one season. Following axings of Sense8 and The Get Down, the streamer opted to not move forward with another season of the Britt Robertson-led comedy loosely based on Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso's life.

    HBO's Veep ends season with a twist. After planting the seeds all season long, Sunday's finale delivered on a promise made by showrunner David Mandel. Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) finally got the one thing that she wanted. Spoilers here. 

    Showtime's Twin Peaks airs "single most surreal episode yet." Josh Wigler dissects the eighth episode of the series, where David Lynch upstages Nine Inch Nails with a sprawling nightmare sequence. Spoilers here.

    ^How to deal with Hollywood execs, a guide. Top L.A. shrinks share with Degen Pener what makes four kinds of high-ranking studio execs tick. Is your boss "The Screamer," "The Thinker," "The Frustrated Creative" or "The Bean Counter"? Read on. 

    ABC cancels Downward Dog after one season. The comedy starring Fargo breakout Allison Tolman has been canceled despite glowing reviews and a strong reception at Sundance, where it became the first broadcast comedy series to bow. 

    Syfy picks up George R.R. Martin's Nightflyers. The NBCUniversal-owned cable network is fast-tracking the drama based on the Game of Thrones creator's 1987 novella to pilot. Jeff Buhler (Jacob's Ladder) will pen the script. 

    ► USA's Olive Forever finds its star. Emily Rudd is to set to star in the comedic crime drama, which follows the exploits of Olive, a mysterious high school student who is also a cat burglar. The project hails from Insurgent writer Brian Duffield.

    AMC's Preacher season 2, reviewed. The series returned last night with a new season that's clearer and better structured, but still nearly as crazy as the first, Daniel Fienberg writes. Takeaway: "A difficult comic adaptation gets needed clarity." 

    New! Jill Soloway joins Awards Chatter. In a podcast with Scott Feinberg, the force behind Amazon's Transparent opens up about the climb from writer to showrunner, a career-changing gamble that paid off, gender, sexuality and trying to "topple the patriarchy." Listen.

  • Hollywood Real Estate Is Back

    Eric Staudenmaier/Courtesy of Hudson Pacific Properties

    There's an eastward shift afoot in the industry. With Netflix and Viacom setting up shop in the former ghost town neighborhood of Hollywood, offices, hotels and hangouts are multiplying as the crosstown pitch commute vanishes, Peter Kiefer finds:

    Today, filming on soundstages in Hollywood is at an all-time high, spurred by the 2015 tripling of production tax credits. Comedy Central shoots @midnight and The Jim Jefferies Show at Sunset Las Palmas Studios.

    BuzzFeed Motion Pictures took over 60,000 square feet at Siren Studios, while in 2016 Netflix signed a 10-year lease three blocks away at Sunset Bronson studios. Sunset Gower Studios, above, are at 90 percent capacity, with Shondaland’s Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder shooting there.

    As more producers and talent run the 101 among Hollywood, Universal City, Studio City and Burbank, the industry is seeing the formation of a new "It" power corridor. Plus: How L.A. realtors are courting billionaires now. 

    What we're reading...

    "Facebook is going Hollywood." Joe Flint and Deepa Seetharaman have details on the social giant's move to programming "aimed at audiences from 13 to 34 that avoids politics, news, nudity and rough language." [The Wall Street Journal]

    "At Cannes, the great gusher of content comes with warning signs." Jim Rutenberg's column: "The hottest ticket is your eyeballs, and every content creator and distributor wants them. Can the worst consequences be forestalled?" [The New York Times]

    "Marisa Tomei: 'I only got to be old very recently.'" Michael Hogan profiles the actress, who shares a backstory for her Spider-Man: Homecoming character and speaks about Hollywood sexism. [The Guardian]

    "The National Enquirer's fervor for Trump." Jeffrey Toobin's new feature: "The tabloid is defined by its predatory spirit. Why has it embraced the President with such sycophantic zeal?" [The New Yorker]

    "CNN is imposing strict new rules on its Russia coverage." Jon Passantino outlines "new publishing restrictions for online articles involving Russia after the network deleted a story and then issued a retraction." [BuzzFeed]

    What's ahead this week...

    Monday: Netflix hosts N.Y. premiere for Friends From College ... Warner Bros. hosts L.A. premiere for The House

    Tuesday: Freeform airs series finale of Pretty Little Liars. 

    Wednesday: Sony hosts L.A. premiere for Spider-Man: Homecoming ... Netflix hosts L.A. premiere for Okja ... Edgar Wright's Baby Driver hits theaters in wide release ... CBS premieres season 19 of Big Brother

    Thursday: ABC premieres Battle of the Network Stars

    Friday: Horror title Amityville: The Awakening, sequel Despicable Me 3 and Will Ferrell-Amy Poehler comedy The House hit theaters in wide release ... Netflix premieres Gypsy.

    Today in 1968...

    + Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway bring heist film The Thomas Crown Affair to theaters. A poster tagline: "A thrill-a-minute deal for a million dollars!"

    Home news...

    + THR nabbed the most awards at Sunday's Southern California Journalism Awards, winning 14, including online journalist of the year for Lesley Goldberg. May was a record month for THR.com, with 21.5M unique monthly visitors, per comScore.

    Today's Birthdays: Ariana Grande, 24, Aubrey Plaza, 33, Jason Schwartzman, 37, Nick Offerman, 47, Paul Thomas Anderson, 47, Sean Hayes, 47.

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