What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:17 AM 10/11/2017

by THR Staff

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What's news: The Harvey Weinstein story takes new, depressing turns as more women come forward with allegations spanning decades. But are there still more shoes to drop? And when will Hollywood start examining itself more closely? Plus: Apple does TV with Spielberg, Kimmel climbs late-night ratings, and Eminem rap-battles Trump. — Ray Rahman

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  • Harvey Fury Rises

    Some knew it was coming, and knew it would be bad. But when it finally arrived, it ended up being even worse. Yesterday saw the publication of two new bombshells that further detailed Harvey Weinstein’s decades of alleged sexual misconduct. 

    Both pieces offered not just harrowing accounts of Weinstein’s actions but also a glimpse at the web of Weinstein Company assistants, associates, and executives who stayed silent as they aided and abetted the producer. 

    + First: Ronan Farrow’s deeply reported New Yorker exposé, in which three women said they had been raped by Weinstein and many more recalled being harassed or assaulted by him. Among them were Asia Argento and Mira Sorvino. Farrow also published a disturbing audio clip — recorded during an NYPD sting operation — of Weinstein admitting to groping model Ambra Battilana Gutierrez. 

    + Next: The New York Times followed soon after with a report featuring another group of women — including Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie — going on the record to say that they had also been sexually harassed by the movie mogul.

    + Then: With attorney Gloria Allred by her side, actress Louisette Geiss alleged abuse and harassment by Weinstein at the Sundance Film Festival in 2008.

    From there, the aftermath was dizzying.

    + Condemnations flooded in. As the story threatened to engulf the industry (particularly those who've worked with Weinstein), more stars broke their silence. Statements: Ben Affleck, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lin-Manuel MirandaGretchen MolRyan Coogler, Charlize Theron, and Leonardo DiCaprio

    + The C-suite finally joined the chorus. Notably, Weinstein's peers — studio executives, movie moguls, and other figures in positions of power — had shied away from commenting until yesterday. Statements: Bob Iger, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Michael Eisner.

    + Politicians spoke up too. "I was shocked and appalled," said Hillary Clinton. "Michelle and I have been disgusted," Barack and Michelle Obama said in a statement. Weinstein, of course, is a major Democratic fundraiser.

    + Weinstein's wife leaves him. Georgina Chapman announced that she was parting ways with her husband of 10 years. "My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions," she said. There had been questions about whether Chapman's fashion brand Marchesa, which Weinstein used his influence to promote, would suffer by association. "No star is ever going to want to wear the brand again," one publicist remarked on Monday. It'll be interesting to see if a split with Weinstein could help save Marchesa's fortunes, or even prompt a sympathy boost.   

    + The Weinstein Co. battles begin. The company is expected to change its name soon, but its ousted namesake isn't done fighting with them yet. Weinstein hired powerhouse litigator Patricia Glaser for a potential legal battle with The Weinstein Company. "We will do whatever we have to do to properly protect his rights vis a vis the company," said Glaser, who has represented the likes of Keith Olbermann and Conan O'Brien in other high-profile employment disputes.

    + The board denies knowledge. "These alleged actions are antithetical to human decency. These allegations come as an utter surprise to the Board. Any suggestion that the Board had knowledge of this conduct is false," the TWC board said.

    + Meanwhile, the company is in crisis mode, and partners are starting to balk. Amazon is wrestling with a course of action. "We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Co," a company spokesperson said. Yet behind the scenes, several Amazon Entertainment executives are expressing concern about the company's involvement with two TWC series: Matthew Weiner's The Romanoffs and an untitled David O. Russell project. According to sources, Weiner's reps have conveyed to Amazon that he expects the Weinstein name to be eliminated from the series.  

    + Unanswered questions linger under media scrutiny. In an interview with Rachel Maddow last night, Ronan Farrow revealed that Weinstein had threatened him personally with a lawsuit in the course of his reporting. But why did the story end up in The New Yorker instead of NBC, where he was working as a correspondent? "You would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details," he said. "I walked into the door at The New Yorker with an explosively reportable piece that should have been public earlier. And immediately, obviously, The New Yorker recognized that, and it is not accurate to say that it was not reportable. In fact, there were multiple determinations that it was reportable at NBC."

    + Matt Damon denies trying to spike 2004 Weinstein exposé. The actor, whose breakout film Good Will Hunting was championed by Miramax, refuted a claim that he pressured the New York Times to kill a story detailing sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein.

    + What happened to the NYPD investigation? Questions abound as to why Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. didn't pursue Weinstein further in the 2015 case that produced the damning audio tape.

    + Essential reading: "It took a village to pull off Harvey Weinstein's reign of terror." — Kevin Fallon, The Daily Beast. "A crucial part of the Harvey Weinstein story: his alleged enablers." — Anna North, Vox"What Harvey and Trump have in common." — Tina Brown, New York Times"I'm a coward." — Liz Meriwether, The Cut. "No justice for the bad men." — Leah Finnegan, The Outline. "Stop mentioning your daughters when you denounce Harvey Weinstein." — Hunter Harris, Vulture.

    Elsewhere in film...

    Tyler Perry to play Colin Powell in Dick Cheney biopic. The multi-hyphenate will serve as the former Defense Secretary in the upcoming Adam McKay project, which stars Christian Bale as the titular VP.

    Leah Remini joins Jennifer Lopez romcom. The actress has been cast in Second Act as Lopez's best friend and co-worker from Queens. 

    Disney shelves Jack and the Beanstalk film. Gigantic — an updated take on the old tall tale, with Inside Out and Frozen vets attached to direct and write songs — was slated for a 2020 release, but the studio said the project was hitting a creative wall and have decided to move on

    + On the flip side, Disney Animation/Pixar president Ed Catmull says, "We are focusing our energies on another project that has been in the works, which we'll be sharing more about soon, now set for Thanksgiving 2020."

    ► Logan writer Scott Frank develops new thriller. 20th Century Fox has optioned the Taylor Adams novel No Exit with Frank attached to produce.

     

    ^Kareem on Marshall and the need for socially relevant movies. "When the courtroom drama is at its best, it is both a suspenseful mystery story and a thoughtful meditation on the hypocrisies and injustices of society," Abdul-Jabbar writes.

    Amblin books Power Rangers director for Unexplained Phenomenon. Dan Israelite will reunite with Project Almanac writers Jason Pagan and Andrew Deutschman to helm the supernatural family adventure.

    SXSW books Darren Aronofsky. The mother! director will be one of the keynote speakers at the conference in 2018.

    ► Skydance taps Bill Damaschke. The former DreamWorks Animation CCO returns to the medium as president of animation and family entertainment at Skydance Media. He'll be responsible for setting the division's overall creative direction and strategy. 

  • Kimmel Shakes Up Late-Night

    Courtesy of ABC, CBS and NBC

    In divisive times, it can be hard to find a way to please everyone. To wit: Jimmy Fallon, whose all-things-to-everybody approach has lost currency. Michael O'Connell surveys the new late-night ratings landscape:

    There are no guarantees in late night. Nothing better illustrates that than the start of the 2017-18 season, where Stephen Colbert is now the most-watched host, once-dominant Jimmy Fallon is down by 31 percent and dark horse Jimmy Kimmel is taking a competitive stand.

    Late-night ratings from the first two weeks of the new season are in stark contrast to those just a year ago, when few (if any) had a clue as to how much the characters of the 2016 presidential election would still be figuring into monologues, viral clip bait and even interviews. The late-night ratings race of the Trump era is unquestionably driven by viewer interest in current events and instant hot takes. And even though he's still in third place, ABC's Kimmel is starting to reap those rewards.

    Jimmy Kimmel Live! is the only 11:35 p.m. telecast up by both key measures this season, viewership up by nine percent and his showing among adults 18-49 up by four percent. The second stat makes Kimmel especially unique. Both Fallon and Colbert have lost viewers in the key demo, even though the latter's total audience is up — a fact that's been exhaustively covered since February.  Full story.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Eminem takes Trump to task during BET Awards. The rapper's freestyle admonishes the president for everything from his comments about POWs to gun reform to the Colin Kaepernick saga. 

    Renewals: A small batch of shows have been re-upped for a new season, including Ransom (CBS), Mr. Mercedes (Audience), and That's So Raven (Disney).

    ABC to develop Black Widow series. Based on a drama series from (where else?) Scandinavia, the project will be adapted by former Vampire Diaries showrunner Caroline Dries at the helm.

    Survivor's Remorse to end after 4 seasons. The Starz comedy's season finale this Sunday will double as the show's series finale. 

    ^Fox sued for using Muhammad Ali in Super Bowl ad. A $30 million lawsuit alleges the broadcaster needed permission to feature Ali in a promotional spot.

    Rami Malek promises 'more accessible' Mr. Robot season. In a preview interview for tonight's season 3 premiere, the Emmy-winning actor says "there's an awareness in this season that is dramatically different from the first two."

    + Tim Goodman agrees in his review, writing: "The USA drama kicks back to life with smart plotting and timely dramatic and comedic underpinning." Read more.

    I Love Lucy writer Bob Schiller dies at 98. The Emmy-winning sitcom writer, who also worked on All in the Family, passed away at his home in Pacific Palisades. 

    Review: Dynasty. Daniel Fienberg writes: "The original Dynasty used tawdry opulence to cut through a much-less-cluttered TV landscape back when it premiered, and there's little doubt that it's harder to cut through clutter today ... But it's possible." Full review. 

  • Apple's TV Strategy Emerges

    Just what kind of television company does Apple think it is? Yesterday, the tech giant signed a deal with Steven Spielberg to reboot the 1980s sci-fi anthology series Amazing Stories, with Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) attached as executive producer. Lacey Rose emails a bit more behind the deal:

    Since the June announcement that Apple had hired Sony veterans Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht to lead its content strategy – the first clear signal that the tech giant was serious about its Hollywood efforts -- there has been near constant, industry-wide speculation about the company’s early moves.

    Almost immediately, theories began flying about the kinds of projects they’d be after (consensus: big, noisy and prestige) and the types of talent they might approach (also, big, noisy and prestige); then came questions about whether they’d want to own their own shows (at least for now, they don’t) and how they would plan to distribute them (at least for now, they aren’t telling).

    Missing from all of it was the skepticism that seems to greet so many of the market’s other new entrants, from Facebook to YouTube. Variations on “It’s Apple!” is the explanation that most sellers have given for the town’s unbridled enthusiasm, with several referencing Apple’s innovativeness and cachet.

    In fact, overnight, the deep-pocketed company became a first-stop with Netflix and HBO on the pitch hierarchy, and Van Amburg and Erlicht’s inboxes were deluged with scripts. “Who wouldn't want to be the Mad Men or House of Cards on Apple?” was the way one studio chief put it, though the sentiment was echoed by many. Whether Amazing Stories — a sci-fi anthology reboot from Steven Spielberg and Bryan Fuller — ultimately becomes Apple’s first show or simply part of its first batch of shows, it is Van Amburg and Erlicht’s first order, and for now the only tea leaves we have to read about Apple’s ambitions. 

    What else we're reading... 

    How Fox is beating Marvel at its own game. Ira Madison III writes: "From Logan to Legion to The Gifted, it's flourishing with new ways to tell stale superhero stories." [The Daily Beast]

    — I am the woman in the 'racist Dove ad'. Lola Ogunyemi writes: "I had no idea I would become the unwitting poster child for racist advertising." [The Guardian]

    ESPN fed Jemele Hill to the wolves. Drew Margary writes: "If you understand everything that went into ESPN's treatment of Hill, you know just how badly they've f---ed her over, and how pathetic they look as a result." [GQ]

    — What Rick and Morty fans' meltdown over McDonald's Szechuan Sauce says about geek culture. Aja Romano writes: "The mass revolt illustrated what increasingly toxic fandom culture looks like in real life." [Vox]

    — Tom Petty, classic rocker? Sure. And weird video star, too. Wesley Morris writes: "Tom Petty’s music has always sounded like open desert highway — what even a Martian would recognize as “America,” expressed with both wariness and enthusiasm. But in the early days of MTV, Mr. Petty was the Martian." [The New York Times]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Horseback riding injuries with Jennifer Connelly and Jason Alexander." [Late Late Show]

    + "Luke Evans snuck a selfie with Stephen Colbert's wife." [Late Show]

    + "Matt Damon ruins Chris Hemsworth interview." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    Today's birthdays: Cardi B., 25, Michelle Trachtenberg, 32, Matt Bomer, 40, Emily Deschanel, 41, Justin Lin, 46, Constance Zimmer, 47, Stephen Moyer, 48, Jane Krakowski, 49, Luke Perry, 51, Shawn Ryan, 51, Joan Cusack, 55.

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