Skip to main content
Got a tip?
Your Daily Edition January 22, 2018

Daily Edition

‘Stranger Things,’ ‘The Crown’ Propel Netflix Membership Gains

The streamer now has more than 117 million members worldwide.

Stranger Things and The Crown led Netflix to a strong end of the year in which the streamer added more new subscribers than it has in any previous quarter. 

Netflix reported Monday that during the fourth quarter it grew revenue by nearly 33 percent to $3.29 billion. Diluted earnings were 41 cents per share, both in line with Wall Street's expectations. 

Meanwhile, the streamer continued to add new subscribers. It added 8.33 million new members during the period, including 1.98 million additions in the U.S. and 6.36 million additions internationally. That represents membership growth of 25 percent year over year. Analysts were anticipating that Netflix would grow its subscriber base by 1.29 million in the U.S. and 5.05 million internationally. All told, the company now has more than 117 million total members worldwide and more than 110 million paid members. 

The gains — which GBH analyst Daniel Ives called "eye-popping" — came despite a price hike last fall that saw many subscribers' monthly memberships increase by $1. 

Notably, the fourth quarter is when Netflix released some of its biggest franchises, including the second seasons of dramas Stranger Things and The Crown, a new installment of anthology series Black Mirror and the premiere seasons of Mindhunter and Godless. Meanwhile, the streamer released the Will Smith film Bright, which it said was one of the most-viewed original titles on the platform, despite having only a 27 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Asked about the disparity between the critical reception and consumer response to Bright during a call with investors, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said "critics can be pretty disconnected from the mass appeal." 

The streamer also recorded a $39 million charge "for unreleased content we've decided not to move forward with." Netflix didn't elaborate on the source of the charge, but it comes after the company cut ties with House of Cards star Kevin Spacey following sexual assault allegations. Netflix also scrapped a planned Gore Vidal biopic starring Spacey.

For the first quarter of 2018, Netflix is forecasting that it will add 6.35 million subscribers, 1.45 million in the U.S. and 4.9 million internationally.

The streamer also forecasts that it will spend between $7.5 billion and $8 billion on content this year and will grow its marketing spend from $1.3 billion annually to $2 billion. "We want great content, and we want the budget to make the hits we have really big, to drive our membership growth," reads a statement in the company's fourth-quarter shareholder letter. Technology and development spend will grow to $1.3 billion this year. 

As Netflix ramps up its spending, it expects to burn between $3 billion and $4 billion in cash in 2018. "We're growing faster than we expected," the company explained. 

Netflix continues to remain bullish about its opportunity to withstand competition in the streaming landscape. "The market for entertainment time is vast and can support many successful services," the shareholder letter notes. "We believe this is largely why both we and Hulu have been able to succeed and grow." The company name-checked Amazon ("likely to bring in a strong new leader"), Disney's forthcoming service ("a beloved brand and great franchises") and Facebook and YouTube ("free ad-supported internet video is a big force in the market for entertainment time, as well as a great advertising vehicle for Netflix"). 

Hastings expanded on the subject during the call with investors, explaining that he doesn't see Disney's forthcoming streaming service as any more of a threat than Hulu is to Netflix. "We'll all learn from each other and total streaming will grow faster because of the competition," he added. 

The exec also reiterated that Netflix does not plan on featuring advertising on its platform anytime soon. "It is a core differentiator," he said of the streamer's subscription-only model. "We're having great success on the commercial-free path."

Another announcement that Netflix made on Monday was that it will add Rodolphe Belmer, the former CEO of Canal+ in France, to its board of directors. 

Netflix shares closed the day up more than 3 percent, or $7.12, to $227.58. Shares were trading up more than 8 percent on the strong quarter, pushing its market cap above $100 billion for the first time. 

‘The Resident’ Producer Under Review as Past Sexual Harassment Allegations on ‘Code Black’ Surface

Twentieth Century Fox says it is not aware of any claims made against Zachary Lutsky, the Fox drama's medical consultant, on 'The Resident.'

Zachary Lutsky, a consulting producer on Fox's The Resident, has been placed under review as past sexual harassment claims against him on CBS' Code Black have surfaced. Lutsky, who has a long history of being a medical consultant on other TV shows, has been a consulting producer on the new drama since November and occasionally lends writing services to the show.

Lutsky was allegedly investigated for sexual harassment on two shows he's recently worked on — The Night Shift and Code Black — and the claims on the latter series were considered serious enough that he was asked not to return to production after they were reported to human resources. The past claims resurfaced after Lutsky shared an article on social media about how The Resident was planning a sexual harassment-themed episode.

"We have only recently learned of these allegations through an inquiry from a reporter," 20th Century Fox Television said Monday in a statement. "We are not aware of any claims made concerning his conduct on The Resident. We take these matters seriously and are reviewing this." Sources say that Lutsky will remain on the series payroll as the studio investigates the matter.

Elsewhere, Lutsky has made a number of onscreen appearances on shows like Dr. Oz and Untold Stories of the ER, and had guest spots on Parenthood and Nashville. His past credits include being an advisor/consultant on Diagnosis X, ER, Southland, Miami Medical, Hart of Dixie, The Doctor, A Gifted Man and The Blacklist. In addition to his TV work, he is an active ER doctor at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. 

“I am quite disturbed by these heartbreaking anonymous allegations. I take them very seriously and categorically deny them," Lutsky said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. "I sincerely care for the feelings of everyone I encounter, including friends and co-workers, and I conduct myself in a way that treats all people with dignity and respect. As a physician, I have dedicated my life to helping those in need. In my 16 years of practice, I have never been accused of any wrongdoing. True harassment allegations are serious. I have never engaged in, been fired for nor been found guilty of any allegation of misconduct — ever."

‘Mighty Ducks’ TV Series in the Works (Exclusive)

A network is not attached as the project, from the trilogy's original screenwriter, is in its early stages.

Quack! Quack! Quack!

The Mighty Ducks franchise may be coming to the small screen. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that ABC Signature Studios is in early development for a series based on the 1990s dramedy about a youth hockey team. A network is not yet attached.

ABC Signature Studios, the cable- and streaming-focused arm of ABC Studios, declined comment.

Sources tell THR that ABC Signature head Tracy Underwood, always looking to identify Disney titles and intellectual property that can appeal to a global audience, put Mighty Ducks in development after being approached by original trilogy screenwriter Steven Brill and original producer Jordan Kerner. Brill will pen the script in-house for ABC Signature. If that comes in well, ABC Signature would package the project with talent and shop it to streamers this year. Brillstein Entertainment's George Heller and Brad Petrigala will, like Brill, be credited as executive producers.

Feature film star Emilio Estevez is not currently attached as a script has not yet been written. What remains unclear is if the potential Mighty Ducks TV series is a sequel or reboot as the logline for the half-hour or hour project is being kept under wraps.

Sources stress that the Mighty Ducks TV show is in its early stages and will not be taken out anytime soon. As for a potential home, insiders note that ABC Signature could take the project out to other broadcast or cable networks in addition to shopping it to streaming platforms. (Another option could be to keep it in-house and set it up on Disney's forthcoming stand-alone SVOD service that will be home to Marvel and Star Wars movies as well as original scripted TV shows based on Star Wars, High School Musical and Monsters, Inc.

Related Stories

The Mighty Ducks was released in 1992 by Walt Disney Pictures. Produced on a budget of $10 million, the Stephen Herek-directed movie starred Estevez as Gordon Bombay, a Minneapolis attorney who winds up coaching a pee-wee hockey team as community service after a drunk-driving arrest. Despite negative reviews from critics, the film went on to become a box-office hit, grossing $50.7 million domestically. That led to two sequels — 1994's D2: The Mighty Ducks (with Estevez) and 1996's D3: The Mighty Ducks, which was built around original film star Josh Jackson's Charlie Conway. They grossed $45.6 million and $22.9 million, respectively, with the success of the first feature inspiring producers Disney to name Anaheim's 1993 NHL expansion team after the franchise.

Should the ABC Signature effort come to fruition, it would be the second time The Mighty Ducks has been explored for the small screen. An animated series was launched in 1996 on ABC and as part of its syndicated programming block The Disney Afternoon. The 26-episode series last aired on Toon Disney in 2004.

Reboots continue to remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming services look for proven IP in a bid to cut through a cluttered scripted landscape that is expected to top 500 shows in 2019. Key to them is having the original producers attached, which Mighty Ducks has with Brill and Kerner, as well as ownership of the IP. 

For its part, ABC Signature's credits include Freeform's Marvel drama Cloak and Dagger, FXX's animated Deadpool show and Showtime's recently renewed SMILF, among others.

Brill is repped by UTA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Kerner, whose company produced all three features, is with Paradigm.

CBS Orders Three Pilots From Female Writers

Ordered to pilot are a comedy inspired by the life of 'One Day at a Time' showrunner Gloria Calderon-Kellett, half-hour 'I Mom So Hard' and drama 'Murder.'

CBS, the network that has been criticized for its lack of inclusion and female voices, is trying to change that in its first pilot season under network president Kelly Kahl.

To that end, i has handed out its first pilot orders of the season and has picked up two comedies (History of Them, I Mom So Hard) and a drama (Murder) — all from female writers.

Related Stories

On the comedy front, History of Them is inspired by the life of One Day at a Time revival showrunner Gloria Calderon-Kellet and is described as a multicultural ensemble about how two friends, Luna (Ana Villafane) and Adam, meet and fall in love using their social media as a guide. Calderon-Kellet will pen the script and exec produce via her Sony Pictures Television Studios-based Glo Nation banner. Pamela Fryman (How I Met Your Mother) will exec produce and direct the multicamera/hybrid comedy. Odenkirk Provissiero's Marc Provissiero will exec produce the Sony TV/CBS Television Studios co-production.

Related Stories

I Mom So Hard, based on the web series of the same name written and starring Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, explores how two moms illustrate how their friendship gets them through being wives and mothers. Michelle Nader (2 Broke Girls) will pen the script alongside Hensley and Smedley, who will also star in the CBS take. Rob Thomas (iZombie, Veronica Mars) will exec produce via his Warner Bros. Television-based Spondoolie Productions banner. Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge are also on board to exec produce the multicamera comedy. The half-hour is a co-production between Warners and CBS Television Studios.

On the drama front, Murder is written and exec produced by Amanda Green (Lethal Weapon). The project is exec produced by Dan Lin (Lethal WeaponStephen King’s It, The Lego Movie) via his Warner Bros. Television-based Lin Pictures Banner with newly installed head of television Lindsey Liberatore on board to co-executive produce.  

The effort, a co-production between Warners and CBS Studios, is described as a fresh take on the investigative drama that explores crime through the unique and often conflicting perspectives of cops and killers, witnesses and victims, friends and family. Shot like a true-crime documentary, Murder invites the audience inside the emotional journey of an investigation, allowing them to discern the truth and judge the suspects' guilt or innocence for themselves.

The pilot orders send a distinct message that Kahl, CBS' longtime scheduling exec who replaced Glenn Geller as entertainment president last May, is looking to change the narrative surrounding the network. In making his first appearance before the press at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour in August, Kahl and his exec vp programming Thom Sherman were grilled over CBS' lack of inclusion and female-fronted shows. Last pilot season, all of the network's drama and comedy series pickups were fronted by men.

Keep up with all the latest pilot orders, castings and eventual series pickups with THR's handy guide

Ryan Reynolds Signs First-Look Deal With Fox, ‘Clue’ Movie in Development

Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who wrote 'Deadpool,' will pen 'Clue.'

Ryan Reynolds is planting roots at Fox, the Century City-based studio that is being acquired by Disney.

Fox has signed a three-year first-look deal with the star and producer behind the studio’s Deadpool movies, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed, and has lined up a live-action feature version of Clue as Reynolds' first project out of the gate.

The move is noteworthy as it keeps the actor in the Fox playground well into the merger, which is expected to take about a year to wrap up, provided regulatory hurdles are overcome. Reynolds scored the biggest hit of his career with Deadpool, featuring the saucy and racy Marvel anti-hero, and he (along with many observers) have wondered how the character would fit into the cleaner Marvel universe movies that Disney releases.

On the Clue front, Reynolds is reuniting with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the writers of Deadpool and its upcoming sequel.  

Reynolds will produce via his shingle, Maximum Effort, as will Allspark Pictures, the producing arm of Hasbro.

Clue is the popular board game that has a murder-mystery premise: Players take on the characters, with monikers such as Professor Plum and Colonel Mustard, to find out who killed the victim, what weapon was used (lead pipe? gun?) and where in an English mansion the murder took place.

The game was previously adapted into the 1985 pic that starred Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn and Christopher Lloyd. In 2008, Universal tried to develop a version to be directed by Gore Verbinski but never solved the mystery of how best to bring it to the big screen. The rights then lapsed and landed at Fox in 2016.

Jan. 22, 4:10 p.m. A previous version of this story incorrectly characterized the 1985 movie.

Box Office: ‘Darkest Hour’ Conquers U.S., Pulls Ahead of ‘Lady Bird’

The Winston Churchill biopic is on the verge of passing 'The Big Sick' to become the most successful specialty release of the past year after galvanizing older moviegoers across the U.S. — including President Trump.

On Dec. 18, President Donald Trump hosted an impromptu, bipartisan screening of Darkest Hour at the White House for members of Congress after watching the movie several days before at Camp David.

Trump, 71, is hardly the only older moviegoer enamored with the film's subject matter, Winston Churchill.

Sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday, Darkest Hour will pass 2017 summer indie hit The Big Sick ($42.9 million) to become the most successful specialty release of the past year after galvanizing older moviegoers across the U.S. — whether Democratic or Republican. (Never mind that British director Joe Wright has said his film raises the question as to whether Trump is an adequate leader.)

From Working Title and Focus Features, Darkest Hour has continued to impress since first opening in select theaters in late November. The film, which expanded nationwide over the year-end holidays, has earned $40.8 million through Sunday, putting it ahead of fellow indie darling Lady Bird ($39.1 million), which has likewise expanded nationwide. 

Related Stories

Both films are contenders in this year's awards race, which will reach a crescendo Tuesday morning when Oscar nominations are announced. Darkest Hour star Gary Oldman has already earned a number of top honors for his portrayal of Churchill, including Golden Globe and SAG awards for best actor. Darkest Hour and Lady Bird (which is playing to younger crowds) could enjoy a box-office bump should they nab top Oscar noms, although the halo effect isn't as strong for titles that have already played across the country.

Nearly 85 percent of those buying tickets to see Darkest Hour when it rolled out nationwide were over the age of 25, with consumers 50 and older accounting for roughly 30 percent of the audience, according to exit polls conducted by comScore's PostTrak service over the course of two weekends. Older consumers wield enormous buying power, and Hollywood is all too happy to tap into this demo.

"The movie is playing everywhere," says Focus president of distribution Lisa Bunnell. "Our grosses in the middle of the country are as good as they are in New York and Los Angeles. The list of the top 10 grossing theaters this past week includes cinemas in New Yew York; Los Angeles; Fort Myers, Florida; Orlando, Florida; and Plano, Texas. It's rare that you see that."

In the weeks leading up to Darkest Hour's opening, some naysayers questioned Focus' decision to back yet another Churchill film or TV project. The late British prime minister has been depicted numerous times on the big and small screens, including on Netflix's hit original series, The Crown, now in its second season.

Bunnell says Darkest Hour stands on its own. "It is about a leader who has real emotions. People want to be inspired right now," she says.

Neither Focus nor Wright knew of the White House screening until after the fact, insiders say. But Trump's fascination with Churchill is hardly a surprise; not long after he took office, the president ordered that a bust of Churchill be moved back into the Oval Office.

Overseas, Darkest Hour has earned north of $37 million so far, including more than $7 million in the U.K. and $5 million in China, for a global tally of roughly $77 million. The film didn't launch offshore until it established a foothold in the U.S.

Related Stories

John Cena in Talks to Star in ‘Duke Nukem’

Aliens, beware.

John Cena is getting ready to shoot up some aliens.

The wrestler-turned-actor is in negotiations to star in Duke Nukem, a big-screen adaptation set up at Paramount of the popular video game franchise featuring a politically incorrect action hero.

Platinum Dunes, the company run by Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller, will produce.

No director is on board at this stage. A search for a writer will begin soon to develop a script for what is intended to be a starring vehicle for Cena.

The Nukem video games follow the muscular adventures of their titular protagonist, who initially was a mashup of action-hero tropes. The cigar-chomping figure has been fighting aliens in order to save planet Earth since 1991, when the first game was released.

The project was previously set up at Dimension Films, but after the rights lapsed Paramount picked them up from Gearbox Software, the company behind the game.

Platinum Dunes is one of the companies behind the Purge action franchise and has produced the Ninja Turtles movies for Paramount. It next has the John Krasinski-directed horror movie A Quiet Place, which is set to open April 6.

Cena has quietly made Paramount his de facto movie home, having appeared in the studio's Daddy's Home 2, which has grossed over $100 million domestically; he also is set to appear in Bumblebee, the studio's Transformers spinoff, which Bay produced.

Related Stories

Rupert Murdoch: Facebook Should Pay for News

The mogul said as much in addressing the social giant's recent decision to allow its users to determine the trustworthiness of a news source through a survey system.

Rupert Murdoch is criticizing Facebook and Google for promoting fake news, and he's asking Facebook to pay for the privilege of using trusted news sources, similar to the way cable companies pay for the TV channels they carry.

In a statement released Monday in his role as News Corp executive chairman, the media mogul addressed Facebook's recent decision to allow its users to determine the trustworthiness of a news source through a survey system.

Facebook drew criticism on Friday when CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a change in the way that it determines the trustworthiness of the news sources on its platform. Under the new system, Facebook has said that it will survey its users on which news sources they are familiar with and trust most.

“We decided that having the community determine which sources are broadly trusted would be most objective,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Facebook. But many observers are concerned that the survey system could be manipulated. News sources with strong online followings could be pushed to the top of such a ranking system, regardless of whether they offer stories that are balanced or fact-checked. That means fake news sources could actually prosper in this new system.

Related Stories

Read Murdoch's entire statement below.

Facebook and Google have popularized scurrilous news sources through algorithms that are profitable for these platforms but inherently unreliable. Recognition of a problem is one step on the pathway to cure, but the remedial measures that both companies have so far proposed are inadequate, commercially, socially and journalistically.

There has been much discussion about subscription models but I have yet to see a proposal that truly recognizes the investment in and the social value of professional journalism. We will closely follow the latest shift in Facebook’s strategy, and I have no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg is a sincere person, but there is still a serious lack of transparency that should concern publishers and those wary of political bias at these powerful platforms.

The time has come to consider a different route. If Facebook wants to recognize "trusted" publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies. The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services. Carriage payments would have a minor impact on Facebook’s profits but a major impact on the prospects for publishers and journalists.

Connie Sawyer, Late-Blooming Comic Actress, Dies at 105

She opened for Sophie Tucker, played a drunk opposite Frank Sinatra and earned a legion of new fans as James Franco's grandmother in 'Pineapple Express.'

Connie Sawyer, who appeared alongside everyone from Sophie Tucker to Frank Sinatra to James Franco in a late-blooming career that saw her continue to work until recently, has died. She was 105.

Sawyer, who played Franco’s grandmother in Pineapple Express (2008) and was the little old lady who robs Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber (1994), died Sunday at the Motion Picture & Television Country House in Woodland Hills, a spokesperson for the retirement home told The Hollywood Reporter

As she was approaching 50, Sawyer landed her first movie role as the drunk Miss Wexler in the Frank Capra comedy A Hole in the Head (1959), appearing opposite Sinatra and Edward G. Robinson. She had made a splash in the earlier Broadway production, and Sinatra insisted she be in the film as well.

The genial Sawyer also played the wife of one of the documentary couples interviewed in Rob Reiner’s When Harry Met Sally … (1989), but she wanted the hilarious role of the woman in the delicatessen who says, “I’ll have what she’s having” after Meg Ryan’s fake orgasm.

“I’m reading the script and I come to the place where the girl is in the restaurant and she’s having an orgasm,” she recalled. “I ran up to [Reiner] and said, ‘I want to do the show-stopping line!’ He said, ‘My mother did it.’”

Related Stories

Often showing up as chatty, gossipy women, Sawyer appeared in such notable films as The Way West (1967), True Grit (1969), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), The Man in the Glass Booth (1975), Oh, God! (1977), Foul Play (1978), … And Justice for All (1979), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Out of Sight (1998) and Something’s Gotta Give (2003).

Her TV résumé includes The Jackie Gleason Show; Dr. Kildare; The Fugitive; The Andy Griffith Show; All in the Family; McMillan & Wife; The Mary Tyler Moore Show; Laverne & Shirley; Welcome Back, Kotter; Seinfeld; Will & Grace; ER; New Girl (as playing “The Oldest Woman in the World”); Ray Donovan and Last Week Tonight.

For the John Oliver-hosted show, she told THR in April 2015, "They said, 'Get Connie to do this.' I had to get to 102 not to have to audition — for once!"

Sawyer has about 140 acting credits listed on IMDb, virtually all of them small roles.

“I never really wanted to be a star. It’s a business with me. I like to keep workin’. Just keep me workin’ — and let me get the residuals,” she said.

She was born Rosie Cohen on Nov. 27, 1912 — Thanksgiving Day — in Pueblo, Colorado. Her father worked as a store clerk, and her mom was an aspiring actress.

“My mother loved showbiz,” Sawyer told The Jewish Journal in 2012. “She would enter me into those amateur contests like they have today — what do they call them, Idol? They think it’s new. It’s not new.”

At 19, she moved across the country with some friends to New York to perform her singing, dancing and comedy act in nightclubs and on vaudeville.

“I was like a poor man’s Fanny Brice,” she said in a 2014 interview. “And the William Morris said, ‘We’re going to get rid of that corny act. You’ve got talent. And you’ve got to change your name.’ So from Rosie Cohen, I became Connie Sawyer.”

She got a huge break when she was picked to open for the legendary entertainer Tucker at Grossinger’s in the Catskill Mountains of New York. The first night, however, did not go well.

“The audience didn’t like me; they didn’t laugh,” she recalled. “I was upset. I started to cry. … I ran offstage. Very unprofessional. And then Sophie Tucker came to my dressing room. I said, ‘I’m going home. I’m going to call Mama.’ And she said, ‘No, you’re not. We’re gonna help you. You’ve got talent, you’re pretty and cute.’ … Cut to the chase, we put an act together, it was fine and I auditioned for the Reuben Blue, an East Side supper club. I got the job and from there, I just sailed.”

Grossinger’s was the first and last time that Sawyer ever ran off the stage. “It’s the only time. No way. I went sailing! I played every nightclub in New York. I became a headliner,” she recalled. After several years touring clubs, she focused on becoming a character actress.

Sawyer made her Broadway debut opposite Morey Amsterdam in the 1948 comedy Hilarities, then pitched director Garson Kanin an idea she had for her character in A Hole in the Head.

“I went to [Kanin] and said, ‘I’ve got an idea. Could I put a shtick in? Get a little laugh so that I’ll stay in the show. … I could do this thing [where her character] comes in and then she goes out and comes back a little loaded,’” she told THR's Scott Feinberg in a 2013 interview. “And he says, ‘Well, we’ll rehearse it.’ And I said, ‘No, no. Don’t rehearse it. Try it with an audience. If it doesn’t get a laugh, forget it.’ So that’s how that came about. We tried it and it got a big laugh.”

Sawyer also understudied for Lee Grant and Kay Medford in the play.

When Sinatra bought the film rights for the play, he instructed his agent to also “buy the drunk,” and Sawyer was the lone actor asked to reprise her role for the picture. In September 2017, she chatted with Ben Mankiewicz at the Motion Picture Home before TCM played A Hole in the Head.

Sawyer's memorable performance in the R-rated stoner comedy Pineapple Express — “I don’t want to say what I think of that movie,” she had said — garnered her plenty of younger fans. “The kids love it! It’s a classic! I get a lot of fan mail from kids. James Franco was adorable. It was fun to do. [Franco has] done so many films now. I got his picture at my door. He’s a big star. Very sweet,” she said.

Survivors include her daughters Lisa and Julie and grandchildren Hannah, Sam, Emily and Carrie. She was married for about a decade to international film distributor Marshall Schacker (who later was married to German actress Ursula Thiess, in turn the former wife of actor Robert Taylor).

Sawyer, who also appeared in the 2014 short film Showfolk, had no complaints about never hitting it big in Hollywood.

“I’m not a dreamer. I’m a realist,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 2012. “Life is fun — that has nothing to do with whether you become a star or not. … And if the parts aren’t too large, I can go around talking to everybody. It’s like going to a party.”

Related Stories