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Your Daily Edition September 6, 2018

Daily Edition

Burt Reynolds, Movie Star Who Played It for Grins, Dies at 82

Burt Reynolds, the charismatic star of such films as 'Deliverance,' 'The Longest Yard' and 'Smokey and the Bandit' who set out to have as much fun as possible on and off the screen — and wildly succeeded — has died. He was 82.

Burt Reynolds, the charismatic star of such films as Deliverance, The Longest Yard and Smokey and the Bandit who set out to have as much fun as possible on and off the screen — and wildly succeeded — has died. He was 82.

Reynolds, who received an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of porn director Jack Horner in Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights (1997) and was the No. 1 box-office attraction for a five-year stretch starting in the late 1970s, died Thursday morning at Jupiter Medical Center in Florida, his manager, Erik Kritzer, told The Hollywood Reporter

The cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest.

Always with a wink, Reynolds shined in many action films (often doing his own stunts) and in such romantic comedies as Starting Over (1979) opposite Jill Clayburgh and Candice Bergen; The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) with Dolly Parton; Best Friends (1982) with Goldie Hawn; and, quite aptly, The Man Who Loved Women (1983) with Julie Andrews.

Though beloved by audiences for his brand of frivolous, good-ol'-boy fare, the playful Reynolds rarely was embraced by critics. The first time he saw himself in Boogie Nights, he was so unhappy he fired his agent. (He went on to win a Golden Globe but lost out in the Oscar supporting actor race to Robin Williams for Good Will Hunting, a bitter disappointment for him.)

"I didn't open myself to new writers or risky parts because I wasn't interested in challenging myself as an actor. I was interested in having a good time," Reynolds recalled in his 2015 memoir, But Enough About Me. "As a result, I missed a lot of opportunities to show I could play serious roles. By the time I finally woke up and tried to get it right, nobody would give me a chance."

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Still, Reynolds had nothing to apologize for. He was Hollywood's top-grossing star every year from 1978 through 1982, equaling the longest stretch the business had seen since the days of Bing Crosby in the 1940s. In 1978, he had four movies playing in theaters at the same time.

Reynolds' career also is marked by the movies he didn't make. Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson and Bruce Willis surely were grateful after he turned down the roles of Han Solo, retired astronaut Garrett Breedlove and cop John McClane in Star Wars, Terms of Endearment and Die Hard, respectively. He often said that passing on James L. Brooks' Endearment was one of his worst career mistakes. (Nicholson won an Oscar for playing Breedlove.)

Reynolds also indicated he was Milos Forman's first choice to play R.P. McMurphy (another Nicholson Oscar-winning turn) in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, "backed away" from playing Batman on TV in the 1960s and declined the part made famous by Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.

In John Boorman's Deliverance (1972), based on a book by James Dickey, Reynolds starred as macho survivalist Lewis Medlock, one of four guys from Atlanta who head to the wilderness for the weekend. Filmed by Vilmos Zsigmond along the Chattooga River near the Georgia-South Carolina border, it was an arduous production that Boorman shot in sequence.

"When I asked John why, he said, 'In case one of you drowns,'" Reynolds wrote.

He had good reason. When Reynolds saw test footage of a dummy in a canoe going over the falls in one scene, he told Boorman the scene looked fake. He climbed into the canoe, was sent crashing into the rocks and ended up in the hospital. "I asked [Boorman] how [the new footage] looked, and he said, 'Like a dummy going over the falls,'" Reynolds wrote.

Deliverance, infamous for its uncut 10-minute hillbilly male rape scene ("squeal like a pig"), was nominated for three Academy Awards but came away empty. It lost out to The Godfather in the best picture battle.

"If I had to put only one of my movies in a time capsule, it would be Deliverance," Reynolds wrote. "I don't know if it's the best acting I've done, but it's the best movie I've ever been in. It proved I could act, not only to the public but me."

In April 1972, three months before the movie opened, Reynolds — once described by journalist Scott Tobias as the "standard of hirsute masculinity" — showed off his mustache and other assets when he posed nude on a bearskin rug for a Cosmopolitan centerfold. (Seven years later, he would become the rare man to grace the cover of Playboy.)

The Cosmo issue sold an outlandish 1.5 million copies. "It's been called one of the greatest publicity stunts of all time, but it was one of the biggest mistakes I've ever made," he wrote, "and I'm convinced it cost Deliverance the recognition it deserved."

A running back in high school and college who talked with legendary coach Bear Bryant about attending Alabama, Reynolds put his gridiron skills to use in Robert Aldrich's The Longest Yard (1974), playing Paul "Wrecking" Crewe, who leads his rag-tag team of prison inmates in a game against the guards. He later starred in Semi-Tough (1977), another football film.

Smokey and the Bandit (1977), written and directed by his pal, the legendary stuntman Hal Needham, grossed $126 million (that's $508 million today, and only Star Wars took in more that year). Reynolds, who stars as Bo "Bandit" Darville, hired to transport 400 cases of Coors from Texas to Atlanta in 28 hours, noted that, unbelievable as it sounds, Smokey was Alfred Hitchcock's favorite movie.

Reynolds drives a sleek Pontiac Trans-Am in the film, and after the picture opened, sales of the model soared. (His black car is mentioned in Bruce Springsteen's "Cadillac Ranch," and the Tampa Bay Bandits, a U.S. Football League team in which he had an ownership stake, were named for the movie.)

Smokey spawned two sequels, and Reynolds went on to work again with Needham in The Cannonball Run (1981), another fun-filled action film that spawned another franchise. His other high-octane films included Sharky's Machine (1981) and two movies as ex-con Gator McClusky.

In Smokey, Reynolds starred alongside Sally Field, and the two were an item for some time. He also had relationships with the likes of Dinah Shore (20 years his senior), Inger Stevens and Chris Evert, and he talked about dating Hawn and Farrah Fawcett in his book.

"There are times in your life that are so indelible, they never fade away. They stay alive, even forty years later," Field said in a statement. "My years with Burt never leave my mind. He will be in my history and my heart for as long as I live. Rest, Buddy."

Reynolds was married to British actress Judy Carne (famous for NBC's Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) from 1963-66 and then to Loni Anderson, the voluptuous blonde best known for the CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, from 1988-93. Both marriages were tempestuous, and his divorce with Anderson was particularly messy.

After a string of big-screen failures and the cancellation of his ABC private detective series B.L. Stryker, Reynolds rejuvenated his career by starring in the 1990-94 CBS sitcom Evening Shade, created by Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.

In a statement following Reynolds' death, Bloodworth-Thomason and Harry Thomason wrote, "The critically acclaimed series Evening Shade was created expressly for and with the incomparable help of Burt Reynolds. Burt won the Emmy for best actor during our first season. He was sweet, brash, exasperating, hot-tempered, generous and wickedly talented. To be sure, it was a wild ride. R.I.P. Burt. May your star never go out."

In 1991, he won an Emmy for best actor in a comedy series for playing Woodrow "Wood" Newton, a former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback who returns to his small hometown in Arkansas to coach a woeful high school football team.

Burton Milo Reynolds Jr. was born on Feb. 11, 1936, in Lansing, Michigan, and raised in Florida's Palm Beach County. His father was an Army veteran who became the police chief in Riviera Beach, Florida, not too far from the Everglades.

"My dad was my hero, but he never acknowledged any of my achievements," he wrote in his memoir. "I always felt that no amount of success would make me a man in his eyes."

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Then known as Buddy Reynolds, he played halfback at Palm Beach High School, where his teammate was future New York Yankees manager Dick Howser, then suited up at Florida State, where Lee Corso, later a college coach and ESPN analyst, played on both sides of the ball. But he suffered a knee injury as a sophomore, and that was it for football and Florida State.

Reynolds enrolled at Palm Beach Junior College and appeared in a production of Outward Bound, playing the part handled by John Garfield in the 1944 film adaptation, Between Two Worlds. That led to a scholarship and a summer-stock stint at the Hyde Park Playhouse in New York. He roomed with another aspiring actor, Rip Torn, and they studied at The Actors Studio.

After a few appearances on Broadway and on television, Reynolds was off to Hollywood, where he signed with Universal and manned the wheel as Ben Frazer on Riverboat, an NBC Western that also starred Darren McGavin.

He met Needham on that show, and the stuntman would double for him on projects through the years. Reynolds is referenced in "The Unknown Stuntman," the theme song from the 1980s ABC series The Fall Guy, and he played an aging stuntman in Needham's second film, Hooper (1978).

Reynolds joined Gunsmoke for its eighth season in 1962 as Quint Asper, a half-Comanche who becomes the Dodge City blacksmith. He played the title warrior in the 1966 spaghetti Western Navajo Joe, was an Iroquois who worked as a New York City detective in the short-lived ABC series Hawk, and portrayed a Mexican revolutionary in 100 Rifles (1969).

Reynolds got another shot at toplining his own ABC show, playing homicide detective Dan August in a 1970-71 Quinn Martin production, but the series was axed after a season.

Reynolds appeared often on NBC's The Tonight Show, and in 1972 he became the first noncomedian to sit in for Johnny Carson as guest host (Reynolds' first guest that night was his ex-wife, Carne; they hadn't spoken in six years, and she made a crack about his older girlfriend Shore). He and Carson once engaged in a wild and improvised whipped-cream fight during a taping, and he got to show a side of him the public never knew.

"Before I met Johnny, I'd played a bunch of angry guys in a series of forgettable action movies, and people didn't know I had a sense of humor," he wrote. "My appearances on The Tonight Show changed that. My public image went from a constipated actor who never took a chance to a cocky, wisecracking character."

Reynolds showed that lighter side when he played a sperm in Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (1972), and he lampooned his lavish Hollywood lifestyle in Mel Brooks' Silent Movie (1976). He was not above making fun of himself and his toupee.

In 1979, he opened the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theatre in Jupiter and in the 1980s, he developed the syndicated game show Win, Lose or Draw with host Bert Convy. The set was modeled after his living room.

With his divorce from Anderson and bad restaurant investments contributing to more than $10 million in debts, Reynolds filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1996 and came out of it two years later. In recent years, he sold properties in Florida, including his fabled 160-acre ranch — The Allman Brothers recorded an album there in the 1990s — and auctioned off personal belongings.

"My uncle was not just a movie icon; he was a generous, passionate and sensitive man who was dedicated to his family, friends, fans and acting students," his niece, Nancy Lee Hess, said in a statement.

"He has had health issues, however, this was totally unexpected. He was tough. Anyone who breaks their tailbone on a river and finishes the movie is tough. And that’s who he was. My uncle was looking forward to working with Quentin Tarantino [In Once Upon a Time in Hollywood] and the amazing cast that was assembled."

Survivors also include his son, Quinton; he and Anderson adopted him when he was 3 days old.

Despite the ups and downs of a Hollywood life, Reynolds seemed to have no regrets.

"I always wanted to experience everything and go down swinging," he wrote in the final paragraph of his memoir. "Well, so far, so good. I know I'm old, but I feel young. And there's one thing they can never take away: Nobody had more fun than I did."

Borys Kit contributed to this report.

 

Academy President John Bailey on How the Popular Oscar Got Shelved

Academy president John Bailey explains the reasons for a new "popular Oscar" and why the organization's board of governors decided to postpone it.

John Bailey, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, went into a special Wednesday morning meeting of the board of governors ready to argue the case for launching a new Oscar this year that would recognize “outstanding achievement in popular film.” But, by the time the event ended, a majority of the 54 members voted to table the award — at least for this awards season and the upcoming Oscars show set for Feb. 24.

When the Academy first announced the creation of a popular award last month, without having settled on the criteria that would determine exactly which films would be eligible, the idea, immediately dubbed “the popular Oscar,” ran headlong into a wall of criticism.

“I wasn’t expecting that kind of knee-jerk reaction, largely from journalists,” says Bailey. “I don’t know why that happened because these are the same people who have also criticized the Academy for being quote unquote irrelevant and not actually addressing the taste of people that go to the movies. The same people who have criticized us for irrelevance and elitism now suddenly were the guardians at the gate, talking about the bowdlerization of the Oscars.” Those initial judgments, in turn, were soon echoed by many Academy members.

The proposal, Bailey says, “didn’t meet with universal disdain, but it’s always the naysayers who like to jump on first.”

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As Bailey explains it, he, joined by Academy CEO Dawn Hudson, was a big proponent of the move. Bailey, a cinematographer, and his wife, film editor Carol Littleton, also a member of the board of governors, both established their careers in the '70s and '80s, working on character-driven films — he shot Ordinary People and The Big Chill; she edited Body Heat and Places in the Heart — that were considered mainstream entertainment. But they’d both watched as the major studios abandoned that kind of movie, with the result that smaller independent films like SpotlightMoonlight and The Shape of Water — “all beautiful films,” he adds — have come to dominate the Oscar broadcast, while studio-backed mainstream productions have mainly had to settle for mentions among the crafts nominations. Bailey argues that, as a result, the Academy needs to find a way to recognize those films “that are being seen by the public.”

When the new award was announced, it was viewed by many as nothing but a ratings grab, since last March’s Oscar broadcast attracted just 26.5 million viewers, a 19 percent drop from the previous year. That decline was deeply unnerving to both ABC and the Academy, which relies on the broadcast fee of about $75 million from the network to fund its activities.

But, says Bailey of the proposed pop Oscar, “it wasn’t some knee-jerk reaction to falling ratings or to ABC or to anything like that. It was real clear on the part of the board and the Academy that we needed somehow to make certain kinds of films eligible for new awards.” He cites comedies as one type of movie the Academy has consistently overlooked, proffering the example of Groundhog Day, which he also shot: “It’s a film that’s become iconic, but if it had been made today, it probably never would have been considered for best picture in terms of the type of pictures that are considered today, but it certainly would have been a prime candidate for this new award.” He also is adamant that the award wasn’t proposed to ensure that movies like Black Panther or one of the Star Wars films are guaranteed Oscar consideration. “Unfortunately, some people misinterpreted this as our laying down pipe for big mass-market franchise films.” 

When the award was first announced last month, neither Bailey nor Hudson stepped forward to lay out the rationale for the proposal, declining to comment until specific details had been worked out. But that created an opening for critics of the popular Oscar, whose voices dominated the subsequent discussion. 

Meanwhile, Bailey had two committees working to devise criteria for the new award. One was a special panel of about two dozen individuals, composed of both members of the board of governors and key industry players, and the other was the Academy’s standing Awards and Events Committee, chaired by makeup artist Lois Burwell, board member and Academy first vice president. They looked at various statistics and options — one measure they settled on was whether or not a movie opened to a wide release. Looking back at last year’s films, they estimated that of about 340 films that qualified for Academy consideration — which requires only that a film play one theater in Los Angeles for a one-week run — about 70 of them would have qualified for the popular Oscar under the criteria that were being devised.

The two committees presented their ideas at a special meeting of the board of governors at the Academy’s Beverly Hills headquarters Wednesday. In addition to questions about the criterion, some board members were also concerned about the timing of the award’s introduction. Typically, the Academy announces rule changes for the coming awards season in March, giving campaigners plenty of time to devise plans for the coming fall. But with the fall awards season already getting underway, as Oscar hopefuls began to be unveiled in Venice, Telluride and Toronto, a number of campaigners were complaining that the Academy was introducing the award too late in the season for them to factor it into their strategies and budgeting.

“I will say this, and I made no secret of it at the board meeting,” Bailey says. “I thought it was a great idea and I wanted to move forward to present it in 2019.” He also notes the irony of the situation, admitting, “If anybody on the board has elitist taste, it’s probably me. I’d rather watch a restored silent film from the '20s made in Estonia or a six-hour Bela Tarr movie than the latest Marvel film. So if I can embrace the idea …”

But, after some discussion, a majority of the board decided the Academy needed more time to consider the proposal and voted not to institute the award this year.

Bailey isn’t ready to predict whether the so-called popular Oscar will make its debut at the 2020 Oscars. “We’re going to continue to evaluate it and seek more engagement with our members and try to sort it out,” he says. “What do I personally think will happen? I have no idea. But I am willing to say I think it was admirable and even courageous of the board to come up with the idea, to bring it to the state of making an announcement. Having then been put into a position where the majority of the board decided this was not the time to do it, I don’t know where it stands.”

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Box-Office Preview: ‘The Nun’ Targets Terrifying $40M-$45M U.S. Debut

Following August hits 'Crazy Rich Asians' and 'The Meg,' the supernatural horror pic 'The Nun' is poised to deliver Warner Bros. another win as the fall season gets underway at the box office.

Following August hits Crazy Rich Asians and The Meg, the supernatural horror pic The Nun is poised to deliver Warner Bros. another win as the fall season gets underway at the box office.

If tracking is correct, The Nun could earn $40 million to $45 million in its U.S. debut, a potential franchise best for the Conjuring universe of films if it comes in on the higher end. The movie is the fifth title in the modestly budgeted horror franchise, which has scared up a combined $1 billion-plus in global box-office receipts.

The Nun should have no trouble topping the chart and stealing the crown from Crazy Rich Asians, which has ruled the box office for three consecutive weekends.

Directed by Corin Hardy, The Nun, set in 1952, tells the story of a novice nun (Taissa Farmiga) and a Catholic priest (Demian Bichir) who are dispatched to investigate the mysterious suicide of a nun at a monastery in Romania.

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The Nun is a spinoff of The Conjuring 2, which starred Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga (the older sister of Taissa) as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Conjuring debuted to $41.9 million domestically in 2013, followed by $40.4 million for the 2016 sequel.

Conjuring spinoff Annabelle debuted to $37.1 million in 2014, while Annabelle: Creation launched to $35.1 million in fall 2017.

The Nun cost a net $22 million to produce. Bonnie Aarons co-stars.

A pair of films will open opposite the horror movie, including STXfilms' Peppermint, a female-led action pic starring Jennifer Garner. Tracking services have Peppermint debuting in the $10 million-$13 million range.

Filmmaker Pierre Morel, whose credits include the hit action flick Taken, directed Peppermint, a thriller centering on a once-happy suburban wife and mother (Garner) whose life is upended when her husband and daughter are murdered by a powerful local drug cartel. A decade later, Garner's character seeks revenge against any and all involved in the crime, including the lawyers, cops and dirty judges who helped the killers go free. John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr., Juan Pablo Raba, Annie Ilonzeh, Jeff Hephner and Pell James co-star.

The Nun is set to unfurl in more than 3,800 theaters, while Peppermint will play in roughly 2,800 locations.

Pure Flix's faith-based God Bless the Broken Road, meanwhile, will open in far fewer theaters, at roughly 1,200 cinemas. From God's Not Dead helmer Harold Cronk, the movie is loosely based on the Rascal Flatts song "Bless the Broken Road" and follows a widowed mother (Lindsay Pulsipher) whose faith is tested after her husband is killed in Afghanistan. Two years later, she meets a NASCAR driver (Andrew W. Walker) relegated to community service after a reckless crash.

God Bless the Broken Road is tracking to debut to $4 million.

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New offerings at the specialty box office include Film Movement's I Am Not a Witch, which boasts a rare 100 percent aggregated score on Rotten Tomatoes. The film, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2017, marks the feature directorial debut of the Zambia-born Welsh helmer Rungano Nyoni. I Am Not a Witch tells the story of a young African girl banished from her village for alleged witchcraft. Leading the cast is newcomer Maggie Mulubwa.

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‘Party of Five’ Reboot With Deportation Twist Nabs Freeform Pilot Order (Exclusive)

'Party of Five' reboot with deportation twist ordered to pilot at Freeform.

Freeform is moving forward with its fresh take on Party of Five.

The Disney-owned cable network has handed out a pilot order to the reboot, which hails from original series creators Christopher Keyser and Amy Lippman. The duo co-wrote the script for the drama, which is described as a modern twist on the original series that follows the five Buendias children as they struggle to survive together as a family after their parents are deported to Mexico.

"Twenty-five years ago, we imagined a story about five kids navigating the world after the untimely death of their parents,” Lippman and Keyser said Thursday in a joint statement. "Today, stories of families being separated, children having to raise themselves in the wake of their parents’ deportations, don’t require any imagination; they are everywhere. This new iteration of Party of Five isn’t a retread of the original; it’s a whole new look at kids trying to parent each other in the wake of circumstances beyond their control, yet learning a similar lesson: that families persist no matter how great the obstacles."

Lippman and Keyser penned the pilot with Michal Zebede (Castle). Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives) is set to direct the Sony Pictures Television project. Keyser, Lippman and Garcia will executive produce, while Zebede will be credited as a co-exec producer. The pilot order arrives nine months after The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported that Freeform was circling the deportation-themed reboot of Party of Five.

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"From the moment we heard that Amy and Chris were updating their iconic series with this timely and powerful twist, we knew we had to have this pilot. We’re honored to be the home for the next, brilliant iteration of their vision,” said Karey Burke, Freeform executive vp programming and development. Burke aggressively pursued the Party of Five revival as the young-skewing cable network headed into 2018 with a plan to air originals on four nights a week, using its notable film library to help boost scripted fare. 

The original Party of Five ran for six seasons and focused on five siblings — Bailey (Scott Wolf), Charlie (Matthew Fox), Julia (Neve Campbell), Claudia (Lacey Chabert) and their baby brother, Owen — who unite as a family after their parents are killed in a car crash. The San Francisco-set series aired on Fox from 1994-2000. The show helped launch the careers of Wolf, Fox, Campbell and Chabert, as well as notable guest stars, including Jennifer Love Hewitt, while tackling serious themes such as substance abuse, domestic abuse, cancer and its central theme: the loss of a parent. Party of Five won a Golden Globe in 1996 for best drama. The series also spawned a spinoff — Time of Your Life, which centered on Hewitt's Sarah Reeves as she moved to New York — that lasted one season on Fox. Also created by Keyser and Lippman, the short-lived series co-starred Jennifer Garner and Pauley Perrette.

Reboots remain in high demand as broadcast, cable and streaming outlets look for proven IP in a bid to cut through a cluttered landscape of more than 500 original scripted series. Key to the new takes is having the original producers — in this case, Sony, Keyser and Lippman — involved in some capacity as more studios look to monetize their existing film libraries. 

The new Party of Five is one of many projects to explore immigration recently.

Should Party of Five move forward, it would join a roster of scripted originals at Freeform that includes The Bold Type, the Fosters spinoff Good Trouble, Cloak and Dagger, Alone Together, Siren, Grown-ish, Besties and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists.

Freeform's development slate also includes a comedy from Buffy creator Joss Whedon, a reboot of Misfits, Paul Feig's Girls Code and more.

HBO Renews ‘Insecure’ and ‘Ballers’

HBO has renewed the comedies 'Insecure' and 'Ballers' for fourth and fifth seasons, respectively.

Insecure and Ballers are getting more seasons.

HBO has renewed the comedies from Issa Rae and Dwayne Johnson for fourth and fifth seasons, respectively. Rae, the creator and star of Insecure, announced the news Thursday on Twitter .

The renewals for Insecure and Ballers comes midway through both shows' current seasons. Ballers, which explores the glamorous and often cutthroat world of pro football, is the pay cabler's highest-rated comedy. In addition to Johnson, the show stars John David Washington, Rob Corddry, Omar Benson Miller, Donovan W. Carter, Troy Garity, London Brown and Brittany S. Hall.

The green light for Insecure also comes not long after Rae broke into the Emmys race this season, landing a nomination for lead actress in a comedy series. The show — which also stars Yvonne Orji, Lisa Joyce, Natasha Rothwell, Amanda Seales and Y'lan Noel — follows the friendship of two black women as they deal with their own flaws while attempting to navigate different worlds and cope with an endless series of uncomfortable everyday experiences.

Check out Rae's tweet about the renewal, below.

NBCUniversal Adds Jeff Shell, Linda Yaccarino, Matt Bond to Hulu Board (Exclusive)

NBCUniversal is adding three of its executives to the Hulu board. Universal Film chairman Jeff Cheff, advertising chairman Linda Yaccarino and distribution chairman Matt Bond are joining the board after a 2011 provision of its sale to Comcast expired.

Comcast's NBCUniversal is taking a more active role on the Hulu board. 

The media conglomerate, which owns a 30 percent stake in Hulu, has named Universal Filmed Entertainment chairman Jeff Shell, advertising and client partnerships chairman Linda Yaccarino and content distribution chairman Matt Bond to the joint venture's board of directors, sources familiar with the decision tell The Hollywood Reporter

NBCU was one of the founding members of Hulu when it launched as a web video platform in 2008, but the company was required to give up its board seats and become a passive owner as a stipulation of its sale to Comcast in 2011. That Department of Justice provision expired at the end of August, giving NBCU the ability to add three of its executives to the Hulu board. 

With Shell, Yaccarino and Bond, NBCU now has the same number of board members as its Hulu co-owners, Disney and Fox. Disney's directors are Kevin Mayer, Ben Sherwood and Bruce Rosenblum, while Fox's board members are Peter Rice, Dana Walden and Brian Sullivan. Hulu CEO Randy Freer also serves on the board, a role he also held while an executive at Fox.

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NBCU is becoming a more active owner at a pivotal moment for the streamer, which has seen unprecedented growth over the last year to 20 million subscribers on the heels of breakout drama The Handmaid's Tale. Hulu, which nabbed 27 Emmy nominations this year, has been in the process of bulking on up prestige TV fare, including upcoming projects from Beau Willimon (The First), George Clooney (Catch-22) and Reese Witherspoon (Little Fires Everywhere). Meanwhile, its year-and-a-half-old live TV bundle passed 800,000 subscribers earlier this year. 

But the company is poised for further change as it awaits the completion of Disney's acquisition of the 21st Century Fox assets, which includes Fox's 30 percent stake in Hulu. That will give Disney a 60 percent ownership stake in the streaming business. (WarnerMedia also owns 10 percent of Hulu.)

Shell, who oversees Universal Pictures, Fandango and DreamWorks Animation, will bring a more robust film knowledge to the board at Hulu, which despite dabbling in some documentaries has remained focused on television in recent years. The longtime NBCU executive also has years of experience overseeing the television business. Yaccarino will join Walden as the board's second female director, in addition to providing her rich television advertising experience, which is key given Hulu's commitment to offering an ad-supported subscription offering. Bond, meanwhile, oversees the group that strikes NBCU's distribution agreements with on-demand and live providers like Hulu and is familiar with the inner workings of the new multiplatform landscape for television networks.

Hulu currently has an expansive licensing deal with NBCU, which includes on-demand episodes of classics such as 30 Rock and Parenthood, shared rights to current shows including This Is Us and the live feed from several NBC networks.

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Time’s Up Asks CBS to Drop Leslie Moonves Without Golden Parachute

Any golden parachute for Leslie Moonves won't happen without heavy scrutiny for CBS and its board of directors. Time's Up, the legal defense fund founded by Hollywood heavyweights in early January this year following the wave of #MeToo sexual harassment claims, is directly asking CBS to not settle with the embattled network chief by offering a golden parachute.

Any golden parachute for Leslie Moonves won't happen without heavy scrutiny for CBS and its board of directors. 

Time's Up, the organization founded by Hollywood heavyweights in early January this year following the wave of #MeToo sexual harassment claims last fall, is directly asking the CBS to not settle with the embattled network chief if he exits over several misconduct claims. 

"This is a precedent-setting moment for CBS — and culture at large. A man accused of rigorously reported allegations of harassment should not be rewarded with a golden parachute. Les Moonves walking away with a $100 million settlement sends a message to survivors everywhere that powerful men can act without fear of consequence," the organization said Thursday in a statement. 

The network chief is one of the highest-paid executives in media, with earnings totaling $69.3 million last year and $69.6 million in 2016. If CBS were to part ways with Moonves, his golden parachute could be worth more than $180 million. 

Moonves, who was accused by six women of sexual misconduct in a New Yorker investigation by Ronan Farrow published July 27, admitted "that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances," but said in a statement that "I always understood and respected — and abided by the principle — that 'no' means 'no,' and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career."

Producer Christine Peters, actress Illeana Douglas and writers Janet Jones and Dinah Kirgo were among those quoted in Farrow's article speaking out about Moonves' alleged behavior and CBS' corporate culture. 

On Aug. 1, the 14-member CBS board of directors hired the law firms of Covington & Burling and Debevoise & Plimpton to conduct an independent investigation of Moonves and formed a special committee to handle the probe. Moonves, a board member, is recused from the investigation, which is being led by former federal prosecutor Nancy Kestenbaum and former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Mary Jo White.

Moonves, who has run CBS since 2003, has yet to address the allegations publicly beyond his initial statement.

Ultraviolet, a women's advocacy group, had also called on the network not to settle with the network chief. “If the CBS board gives Moonves any amount of severance in the event of his termination or resignation, you will compound the damage you've already inflicted on the progress towards stopping sexual violence with your decision to allow Moonves to continue working,” stated UltraViolet co-founder and executive director Shaunna Thomas in a letter to the CBS board dated Aug. 23. 

Time's Up, in its criticism of a potential settlement with Moonves, also included a link to a crowdfunding effort for its defense fund for victims of harassment. That effort has raised more that $22 million. The group was launched with high-profile backers that include Reese Witherspoon, Megan Ellison, Jennifer Aniston, Ava DuVernay. 

The Time's Up statement added, "We remain in solidarity with the six women who bravely shared their stories, risking their own incomes and careers, as well as the untold other women who may still be afraid to speak out. One hundred million dollars is an enormous sum of money. In fact, it's more than the average American woman will earn over the course of 50 lifetimes. Rather than reward an alleged predator, this $100 million could fund the legal defenses of countless women and men facing workplace harassment and abuse across the country."

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Amy Powell and Paramount TV Reach Settlement Over Her Firing

Paramount has reached a settlement with former TV head Amy Powell over her firing in July. The TV chief was let go after allegedly making racially insensitive remarks on a conference call. Powell later denied that she said anything inflammatory and hired lawyer Bryan Freedman, claiming that the termination was primarily motivated by gender bias.

Paramount has reached a settlement with former TV head Amy Powell over her firing in July.

The executive was let go by Paramount Pictures chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos after she allegedly made racially insensitive comments in the office. Powell later denied that she said anything inflammatory and hired lawyer Bryan Freedman, claiming that the termination was primarily motivated by gender bias.

"The matter has been resolved," a rep for Paramount said Thrusday. Powell's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment. Sources say that the payout is believed to be in the multimillion-dollar range.

Powell was fired from her job five years after being tapped to lead the newly relaunched Paramount Television banner. In an internal memo from Gianopulos, the studio chief cites "multiple individuals" who raised "concerns around comments" made by Powell in a "professional setting, which they believed were inconsistent" with parent company Viacom's values.

Sources say the inciting incident occurred during a studio notes call for Paramount Network's First Wives Club reboot, and that the comments were racially insensitive. Powell quickly hired legal representation, claiming that the termination was primarily motivated by gender bias on the part of Gianopulos.

"Paramount’s ready-fire-aim strategy has nothing to do with promoting diversity; fostering conversations in and out of the creative process; or Amy Powell’s actual conduct, which has always been impeccable," Powell's attorney Bryan Freedman told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. "In Amy’s 14 years at Paramount, the last five building Paramount Television from scratch, there has never been a question about her sensitivity, inclusivity or treatment of others. The fact that they pushed her out the door after a spurious two-day 'investigation' raises serious questions about their real motives.”

Anonymous Content manager and FX vet Nicole Clemens was named Powell’s successor at the studio Wednesday. She begins the role Monday, reporting directly to Gianopulos.

News of Powell's settlement with Paramount was first reported by Variety.

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Adam Venit Exiting WME as Agency Reaches Settlement With Terry Crews

Adam Venit is planning to leave WME. The news comes 10 months after Terry Crews publicly named him as the Hollywood executive who sexually assaulted him at a party last year. The agent was put on leave Nov. 3.

Adam Venit is planning to leave WME. The news comes 10 months after actor Terry Crews publicly named him as the Hollywood executive who sexually assaulted him at a party last year.

"Terry Crews, Adam Venit and WME have settled the lawsuit Mr. Crews filed last year. It will be dismissed," the agency said Thursday a statement. 

Venit had privately been identified as Crews' assailant and was subsequently put on leave on Nov. 3 by the agency, which represented Crews until the Brooklyn Nine-Nine star fired WME on Nov. 9. The actor was not one of Venit's clients.

"Venit, upon his first meeting Crews, viciously grabbed Crews' penis and testicles so hard that it caused Crews immediate pain in a blatant and unprovoked sexual assault," alleged the complaint from Crews' attorney, Bryan Sullivan. filed on Dec. 4.

WME responded in its own filing in late January, "The facts are these: The day after the alleged incident, Mr. Crews mentioned it to no one at WME other than his agent, who nevertheless immediately raised it with Mr. Venit."

WME had said upper management was unaware of the incident with Crews until the actor tweeted about it on Oct. 10. An investigation was then conducted and found that Venit's behavior was an isolated event. In addition to being suspended without pay for a month, Venit was demoted from his department-head position.

Crews was one of the first men to come forward with his story of sexual harassment or assault after the New York Times and New Yorker's Harvey Weinstein exposés ushered in a wave of reports of similar behavior across the industry. "This whole thing with Harvey Weinstein is giving me PTSD. Why? Because this kind of thing happened to ME," Crews tweeted on Oct. 10. "My wife and I were at a Hollywood function last year and a high-level Hollywood executive came over to me and groped my privates."

Crews filed a police report on Nov. 8 and the Los Angeles Police Department opened an investigation into the incident. In March, the Los Angeles city attorney stated that the "matter was referred to our office and was subsequently declined due to the lapse in statute of limitations for misdemeanor cases."

Venit's clients at WME included Adam Sandler, Diane Keaton, Eddie Murphy, Kevin James, Rob Lowe, Shawn Levy, Steve Martin, Sylvester Stallone and Vince Vaughn, as well as Brett Ratner and Dustin Hoffman, who are facing sexual misconduct allegations of their own.

Sept. 7, 10:56 p.m. An earlier version of this story stated that WME's investigation last fall found that Venit's behavior was indicative of a pattern. The agency has said the opposite is true, and the story has been edited.

‘Peppermint’: Film Review

Jennifer Garner plays a mother turned violent vigilante after her husband and daughter are gunned down in 'Peppermint,' the latest action film from Pierre Morel, the director of 'Taken.'

Jennifer Garner displays a particular set of skills in the latest actioner directed by Pierre Morel, who resuscitated the vigilante genre with Taken. Playing the sort of badass character who makes her Sydney Bristow on Alias look delicate, the actress brings an admirable physical commitment to her performance as a mother intent on getting justice after her husband and daughter are murdered. Peppermint lacks subtlety and anything even remotely resembling credibility, but like its heroine, it certainly gets the job done. It's the sort of picture that would have been boffo on a grindhouse double bill in the 1970s.

Garner's character, Riley North, doesn't start out as a lethal assassin. She's an ordinary Los Angeles housewife, working at a bank and lovingly devoted to her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) and 10-year-old daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming). The family is having trouble making ends meet, leading Chris to consider joining a friend in a plot to rip off a local drug kingpin, Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba). Chris backs out at the last minute, but not before the plan has been discovered. During an outing at an amusement park to celebrate Carly's birthday, he and his daughter are brutally gunned down, with Riley seriously injured as well.

Cooperating with the sympathetic detectives (John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr.) investigating the case, Riley identifies the gunmen (criminals should probably avoid having distinctive facial tattoos) and testifies against them in court, even after receiving a combination bribe offer/threat from the defense attorney. But the deck is clearly stacked against her, with the obviously corrupt judge dismissing the case. When Riley goes berserk and tries to attack the killers, she's tasered and is on her way to a mental hospital when she manages to escape.

Cut to five years later, which is apparently the amount of time needed to transform oneself into a lean, mean killing machine. The screenplay by Chad St. John (London Has Fallen) doesn't bother to provide any details as to exactly how Riley becomes an expert in hand-to-hand combat and automatic weaponry, among many other talents. In any case, she's back in Los Angeles and immediately begins her vendetta against Garcia and his minions, starting with the three men who murdered her family. She proves remarkably adept in her mission, showing no mercy as the body count lurches toward the triple digits. The frustrated Garcia, watching his men slaughtered like pigs in a series of daring raids, is reduced to giving such orders as "Put this bitch in a box before sunset!" and proclaiming, "This shit ends tonight!"

Along the way, Riley demonstrates that she hasn't lost her maternal instincts. After an encounter with a young boy and his drunken lout of a father on a city bus, she takes matters into her own hands and shows the errant dad the error of his ways by sticking a gun in his mouth. And after being injured during one of her violent encounters, she briefly takes refuge in the house of a soccer mom who made her life miserable in the past. But not before punching her in the mouth.

Director Morel, who also made the Sean Penn starrer The Gunman (are you sensing a pattern?), stages the ultra-violent proceedings for maximum visceral effect. While the action sequences lack the morbid visual elegance of the John Wick movies, they're cleanly choreographed, photographed and edited. Only the big finale, involving Riley, the criminals and the cops at Skid Row, proves disappointing, with reality, such as it is in a film like this, completely thrown out the window.

Garner, who hasn't done this sort of thing in quite a while, handles the demanding physical aspects of her role with tremendous skill, demonstrating an admirable commitment to her training regimen. But unlike so many action stars, she's equally adept at drama and comedy. Whether cracking sardonic jokes or showing tenderness toward a child, her character is sympathetic even when committing the most violent atrocities. The audience is on her side from the first moments to the ending, which provides the opportunity for Riley to make a return appearance in a sequel. After all, it took no less than five Death Wish movies for Charles Bronson to finally get the job done.

Production companies: Huayi Brothers Pictures, Lakeshore Entertainment, STXFilms
Distributor: STX Entertainment
Cast: Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr., Juan Pablo Raba, Annie Ilonzeh
Director: Pierre Morel
Screenwriter: Chad St. John
Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Eric Reid, Richard Wright
Executive producers: David Kern, James McQuaide, Renee Tab, Christopher Tuffin, Donald Tang, Wang Zhongjun, Wang Zhonglei, Felice Bee, Robert Simonds, Adam Fogelson
Director of photography: David Lanzenberg
Production designer: Ramsey Avery
Editor: Frederic Thoraval
Composer: Simon Franglen
Costume designer: Lindsay Ann McKay
Casting: Deanna Brigidi

Rated R, 102 minutes