What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:18 AM 8/23/2017

by THR Staff

Danny Martindale/WireImage

It's magazine day, with a classic Jerry Lewis photo covering the issue filled with remembrances. Also: Behind Netflix's big bet on comics king Mark Millar, details emerge in the Deadpool 2 stunt death investigation and Lorne Michaels speaks in-depth about SNL. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

In the latest issue: Colleagues and friends remember Jerry Lewis, from his "zany, crazy approach" to comedy to his infamous breakup with Dean Martin...

+ Dean Martin's daughter Deana: "Growing up, he was always just Uncle Jerry ... Dad was very cool. And the reason why they broke up in the first place, after the brilliant years together — my dad never yelled or lost his cool, but when he had it up to here, he had it up to here, and it was over."

+ Carl Reiner: "The amount of things that Jerry could could do well that people don’t even know about was astounding. ... he was a true genius, there’s no question about it."

+ James Lipton: "When Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin were riding high, they were the two biggest stars in the world. They were bigger than The Beatles, they were bigger than Elvis — no one has ever reached the pinnacle of what they reached in fame and popularity."

[icon:rambling] Jerry Lewis and the time the Oscars ran 20 minutes short. The three-time host found himself working hard to fill the extra time in 1959 as he roasted a competing show's poor ratings, began conducting the orchestra and attempted to play a trumpet. At the OscarsWhy the French loved him | Drew ire for comments on female comedians

  • Netflix's Bold Bet on Comics

    Twentieth Century Fox; Adam Gasson/SFX Magazine via Getty Images; Universal Pictures; Image Comics; Marvel

    After Netflix made its big move to snap up Millarworld, creator Mark Millar is now being counted on to deliver a wave of new titles, Borys Kit and Graeme McMillan report: 

    The comic creator is said to have approached studios earlier this year offering a deal for his library and future stories. But because some of his marquee properties, such as Kick-Ass, Kingsman and Wanted, already are spoken for, it was difficult to determine the deal’s value, a studio source saysNetflix, however, determined the answer was quite a lot. 

    Terms of the Aug. 7 deal were not disclosed, but two sources pegged it in the $30M to $50M range. Also part of the deal are future works; one source says Millar has been holding back a wave of titles in anticipation of such a deal. “You get whatever he comes up with next, that’s the value here,” says one exec. 

    Netflix can mine Millar properties like Reborn, a drama that suggests that the afterlife brings you into a war alongside those you knew when you were alive, and MPH, about speedy teens in rundown Detroit. The crown jewel may be Jupiter’s Legacy — featuring multigenerational hero stories — which could lend itself to cinematic universe treatment.

    Meanwhile...

    ^Deadpool 2 motorcycle stunt death backstory emerges. Scott Johnson's new reporting: The 20th Century Fox sequel’s producers had been exerting pressure to have the 40-year-old S.J. Harris, who had raced professionally but had never worked on a film, perform that day’s stunt because, as an African-American, she was a believable stand-in for Zazie Beetz, who portrays Domino in the film.

    But several crewmembers warned the producers that Harris wasn’t ready, a production source tells THR. A member of the stunt team alerted the movie’s producers to these concerns but was ignored, according to the source who trained Harris.

    “The producers put pressure to have somebody of the same sex and ethnicity in a position she wasn’t qualified to be in,” says Conrad Palmisano, a veteran stunt coordinator and second unit director with 47 years in the entertainment industry. Palmisano says he has been in close touch with several people who were on the Deadpool 2 set that day. Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ► Joker movie in the works with Hangover filmmaker. Warner Bros. has tapped Todd Phillips to co-write, and possibly direct, a movie based on the classic Batman villain. Scott Silver, writer of the 2002 Eminem movie 8 Mile as well as The Fighter, will co-write.

    + Aaron Couch notes: What's even more tantalizing is that sources say it's part of the studio's plans for a label for DC films that will fit outside of the continuity of its superhero shared universe, allowing for movies at different budgets and set in different time periods.

    Han Solo movie loses Michael Kenneth Williams. The actor's half-animal alien character will no longer appear in the untitled spinoff after its director switch. Williams, currently shooting the Chris Evans thriller The Red Sea Diving Resort, wasn't available for reshoots.

    How China's $780M blockbuster was made. Wolf Warrior 2's only American actor, Frank Grillo, discusses becoming an overnight celebrity in the Middle Kingdom, why director Wu Jing is the "next global superstar" and what can be learned from the film's success. Q&A.

    YA adaptation The Hate U Give adds Common. George Tillman Jr. is directing Fox 2000's big-screen translation of Angela Thomas' Black Lives Matter novel, starring Amandla Stenberg. The film is due to begin shooting in Atlanta in September.

    Robert De Niro comedy The War With Grandpa pushed back. TWC-Dimension Films is moving the film from an Oct. 20 release to Feb. 23 of next year. The change is a result of a late start in production.

    Morgan Freeman to get SAG Awards' lifetime honor. The Oscar-winning actor will receive the guild's highest honor during the 24th annual gala on Jan. 21, 2018.

    In THR, Esq: Hollywood's senior living facility hit with lawsuit. The Motion Picture & Television Fund’s Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, the industry’s gold-standard nursing home, stands accused of negligent care. A suit alleges a female patient was assaulted by a recent male resident. The claim.

  • Dick Gregory's Legacy

    Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

    "Most people can name a book or two that they read in their youth that changed their lives in a significant way," writes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's in his latest, an appreciation for Dick Gregory: 

    "I can name four: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) with Alex Haley, Soul on Ice (1968) by Eldridge Cleaver, The Fire Next Time (1963) by James Baldwin and Nigger: An Autobiography (1964) by Dick Gregory. Each of those books helped articulate my frustration with the prevalence of racism and social injustice, and each showed a path from that frustration to helping change things. 

    The title of Dick's book alone felt freeing to me, as if seeing that word on the cover of a book in a bookstore drained some of its pejorative power and instead made it a rallying word of defiance. I met him a few years after his book came out at a Black Pride rally in Harlem. I was a college student, and he was already famous as an edgy comedian with a social conscience. We met only in passing: We shook hands, he smiled warmly, and then he was off to address the crowd. The moment was over."

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ► Malcolm X scripted series in the works. Critical Content will develop the project based on Manning Marable's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. David Matthews (Boardwalk Empire, Tyrant) is on board to pen the script. 

    NBC moves forward with Norman Lear's senior comedy. The network has handed out a sizable pilot-production commitment to Guess Who Died, which Lear has been championing for more than seven years. Lear and prolific producer Peter Tolan will co-write.

    ► Starz's Black Samurai reboot to star Common. The premium cable network is teaming with Common, RZA and Jerry Bruckheimer to develop Marc Olden's book series as a scripted TV series. The drama follows an American Army Ranger who trains as a samurai. 

    ► Netflix's Disjointed, reviewed. Kathy Bates leads Chuck Lorre's multi-cam comedy about a marijuana dispensary, which blends broad, obvious stoner humor with some interesting touches. Takeaway: "Only a gentle high, but it won't harsh your mellow." 

    ^New charts: Tracking digital giant's move to TV content. A look at the landscape as the number of scripted shows balloons beyond the more than 500 already in the marketplace. Also: TV vs. digital ad spending. 

    And more TV...

    ► Netflix teases Jerry Seinfeld special. The hourlong event, titled Jerry Before Seinfeld and debuting Sept. 19, will see the comedian return to NY's famed Comic Strip — the club that helped launch his career. Watch here

    FX's American Horror Story: Cult gets trailer. The clip for the FX anthology series, premiering Sept. 5, begins in Michigan on election night, with Sarah Paulson's character seeing the results that Donald Trump has been elected president. Watch here.

    MTV renews Fear Factor for supersized season 2. The network has renewed the reboot with Ludacris to return as host for the expanded 20-episode sophomore run. The series has been a cornerstone of MTV's reboot under network president Chris McCarthy.

    ► Endemol Shine taps Sharon Levy as president of TV. The veteran TV executive, who departed Spike TV earlier in 2017 amid the mass Viacom exodus, has been named president of both unscripted and scripted television at the company.

    ► Dr. Phil, CBS TV Studios ink first-look deal. As part of the pact, the longtime daytime talk show host and his son/producing partner Jay will develop scripted comedies and dramas for broadcast and streaming platforms through their Stage 29 Productions banner.

    New! Lorne Michaels joins Awards Chatter. The TV comedy giant talks with Scott Feinberg about the roots of his iconic variety show, dissects its 42nd season and reveals his thoughts on retirement and what should happen to SNL after he's gone.

  • Padma Lakshmi's Emmy Dilemma

    John Shearer/Getty Images

    The Top Chef host writes in her own words about getting ready for the Emmys this year: "Every message I telegraph about food and our bodies is important. So, this year, I've decided my weight will not be my focus. If I need a bigger dress, so be it." Guest column.

    What else to read...

    "Hollywood conservatives still standing with Trump." Paul Bond writes: Support for the president in the wake of Charlottesville hasn't waned, though few backers will cop to it: "Are you trying to get me killed?" Full story.

    "A white, hot supremacist summer." Wesley Morris writes: "Charlottesville hasn’t been the only place for white supremacy. TV and movies have been their own form of cluelessness. Remember Lee on The Bachelorette?" [The New York Times]

    "Not even James Cameron can save 3D movies." Phil Hoad notes: "with high ticket prices, shrinking box office figures and poor image quality, is the new age of 3D film over before it has even begun?" [The Guardian]

    "Twitter has great ideas for movies - Will Hollywood listen?" Clover Hope asks: "Can a viral fancasting phenomenon realistically change the industry’s status quo?" [Wired]

    "Jukin Media expands its viral video empire." David Pierson reports: "the company behind viral sensations such as Pizza Rat and Chewbacca Mask Lady, will nearly double its office space in Culver City to produce more original programming." [The Los Angeles Times]

     "The hashtag turns 10 today." Madison Malone Kircher notes: "It’s been ten years since Chris Messina suggested using the pound symbol as a way to organize groups." [New York]

    Today's birthdays: Joanne Froggatt, 37, Andrew Rannells, 39, Scott Caan, 41, Alexandre Desplat, 56, Rick Springfield, 68, Shelley Long, 68.

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