What Matters in Hollywood Today

9:27 AM 7/7/2017

by THR Staff

Courtesy of CBS

What's news: Media moguls are packing up for the elite Sun Valley conference, with acquisitions and Trump on their minds. Plus: A Fox Business host is suspended over a sexual harassment investigation, CBS' Hawaii Five-0 showrunner writes a letter over a pay dispute gone public and Hollywood pays tribute to Stan Lee's wife, Joan Lee. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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  • Sun Valley Mogul Talk


    A couple hundred moguls are expected in Sun Valley starting on Tuesday for the Allen & Co. summit, and chatter is about acquisitions and politics, Paul Bond, Georg Szalai and Natalie Jarvey write in their event primer: 

    + Viacom CEO Bob Bakish and CBS CEO Leslie Moonves are both expected in Sun Valley, and if they're spotted together, it could renew speculation that the two sister companies could merge, though some analysts are hoping Moonves goes a different direction.

    + Rupert, Lachlan (pictured) and James Murdoch are expected in Sun Valley, and they'll no doubt be hit with questions about 21st Century Fox's ongoing effort to acquire full control of European pay TV giant Sky. 

    + Journalists at many of the companies represented at Sun Valley have been accusing Trump of inciting violence against them with a recent video meme. Those chats are especially likely considering Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is expected at the gathering.

    + Also expected to attend this year are Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, former AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who now has the title of CEO of Oath, which combines Verizon's online media assets, including Yahoo and AOL, CBS COO Joe Ianniello, CBS and Viacom vice chair Shari Redstone, IAC chairman Barry Diller and Fox CFO John Nallen.

    Elsewhere in TV... 

    Fox Business host suspended amid sexual harassment investigation. A female political analyst claims she was blackballed after ending an affair with host Charles Payne. His show will be hosted by fill-in anchors until the matter is resolved.

    Fox News resolves legal dispute over cable merger. Fox News and Charter Communications have agreed to end a contract spat that erupted after Charter acquired Time Warner Cable. The cabler appears to have settled claims of being defrauded.

    Greta Van Susteren is not ready to leave TV. After being ousted by MSNBC, the TV host quickly made it clear that she'd welcome another hosting job: "Since I got fired, of course I will entertain any job offers that come my way."

    PBS wants the government to reexamine hard stance on indecency. The outlet told the FCC that the agency "should revisit what constitutes actionable indecency." With NPR, the public stations also suggest the time might be right to ditch a rule prohibiting the broadcast of lottery drawings.

    Will more news outlets heighten security over Trump tensions? While CNN is at the center of the latest firestorm, experts are adamant about the need to be proactive, rather than reactive, on security as the President escalates a war of words. 

    ^HBO's Tour de Pharmacy, reviewed. Andy Samberg and Murray Miller's follow-up to 7 Days in Hell, debuting tomorrow, is a hit-or-miss, but mostly hit, mockumentary look at drug use in cycling. Takeaway: "Even the laughs are juiced."

    + Early takes: A.V. Club: "fun but forgettable." WSJ: "doesn’t make the cut." NYT: "Is it O.K. for a mockumentary about a tarnished sport to include in its cast the athlete responsible for much of the tarnishing?"

    CBS' Hawaii Five-0 boss responds to pay dispute. In a letter to fans, Peter M. Lenkov defended the show's "diverse cast" and said that Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park were offered "unprecedented raises" before they decided to leave the procedural.

    Netflix plans Ava DuVernay miniseries on "Central Park Five." The multihyphenate, one of the most in-demand talents in film and TV, has signed on to direct a five-part series about the case of five young black men wrongly convicted of a brutal rape.

    Paramount Network's Heathers reboot adds Selma Blair. The actress will play stepmother to one of the Heathers in the dark dramedy set to air in 2018. The 10-episode series, based on the 1998 cult movie, will be set in the present day.

    Syfy developing John Carpenter series. The legendary horror director has inked an overall deal with Universal Cable Productions and is prepping Tales for a Halloween Night and Nightside projects for the small screen.

    Fox renews deal with Empire showrunner. Under the new multiyear pact Ilene Chaiken will serve in her current position on the hip-hop drama while also developing new projects for the studio.

    NBC pilot watch: The Brave. Critic Daniel Fienberg's early take: "NBC's entry in the fall military drama sweepstakes relies on character archetypes and manipulation, but at least it's professionally made."

    ► HBO, Cinemax coming to Hulu. The pay-cable networks are being offered as add-ons to Hulu's existing subscription video and live TV offerings (just in time for the July 16 premiere of Game of Thrones).

    New! L.A. power dining for July. Gary Baum is ready with his latest ranking of hot restaurants: Say hello to Jean-Georges, The Exchange, The Rosy Oyster and Woodley Proper. Sweet Chick, The Mar Vista, The Flats and Friends & Family have fallen off the chart.. Full map.

  • About Affleck's 'Ghost Story'

    Courtesy of A24

    "Why did you opt to cover Affleck in a bed sheet?" That's the first question Ashley Lee asked Ghost Story director David Lowery about his new Casey Affleck film opening today: 

    Lowery combined his location-based love with a long-gestating idea and wrote the first draft of A Ghost Story in a single day. The A24 drama stars Casey Affleck as a bed sheet-covered ghost who haunts the home he once shared with his wife. And the intimate indie helped him embrace the transience that filmmaking often requires.

    "It’s funny, we thought initially that Casey would get to use a lot of body language and really sell himself underneath the costume, but in the first couple days of shooting, it just wasn’t working," Lowery explains. "It felt too much like somebody wearing a sheet, and every unique physical trait as a human being was pronounced and exaggerated by this sheet over his head." Full Q&A. 

    + Reviews: THR: "Haunting, literally." NYT: "Ingenious and affecting." USA Today: "Elegiac and moving." The Atlantic: "Lowery’s greatest success is in keeping this intentionally spare story from feeling like a gimmick."

    Elsewhere in film...

    Chinese cinemas ordered to play propaganda before every movie. The spots, roughly three minutes in length, espouse all of the Chinese Communist Party's usual shibboleths, such as "core socialist values." Details. 

    Swan Lake film starring Felicity Jones sparks bidding war. A hot pitch inspired by the ballet story with Jones attached to star and helmer Luca Guadagnino to direct has several studios bidding, including Universal, Paramount and TriStar.

    ► Ang Lee's Gemini Man slated for fall 2019 release. Paramount will release the film, starring Will Smith as an aging assassin forced to fight his own clone who is 25 years younger, on Oct. 4, 2019.

    Sony Pictures Entertainment promotes music exec. Per Billboard, Spring Aspers will now be head of music and "will oversee all music-related facets of the company's film labels." The exec most recently worked on Baby Driver

    Santa Barbara Film Fest unveils dates. The fest, which has become one of the most important stops on the annual road to the Oscars, has announced that its 33rd edition is set to run Jan. 31-Feb. 10, 2018.

    Comic-Con full movie lineup tally. Only a few weeks away, here's the full guide to when the blockbuster panels are taking place during this year's San Diego convention.

    Patton Oswalt and Meredith Salenger get engaged. The couple is engaged, reps for the actors confirmed. Oswalt, 48, and Salenger, 47, made their red-carpet debut as a couple at the Baby Driver premiere in L.A. last month.

    R.I.P., Joan Lee. Stan Lee's wife of 69 years died Thursday in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke earlier in the week and being hospitalized. She was 95. Full obit.

    + Marvel statement: "We are so saddened to hear about the loss of Joan Lee. We lost a member of the Marvel family today and our thoughts and prayers go out to Stan and his daughter Joan in this difficult time."

    Oscars: How globalization shakes up the race. Scott Feinberg's new column looks at the one aspect of the Academy's inclusion efforts that has been most overlooked, but seems likely to have the biggest impact on the pursuit of Oscars. Details.

  • From 'Breaking Bad' to Baking Bread

    Silas Fallstich

    The latest life after Hollywood story: Onetime Sony marketing president Bob Oswaks was laid off at age 50. Now he runs Bob's Well Bread Bakery in Los Alamos. Norman Lear told him: "Sometimes life is about changing things up."

    What else we're reading... 

    — "Andy Serkis, Caesar the ape, has a message for the Academy." "Those who give film awards should not discriminate against performance-capture actors, he says. "If they don’t think Caesar is good, that’s fine..." [The New York Times]

    "Have you asked Idris Elba about James Bond lately?" Maximillian Potter's cover story profile: "The guy has an invaluable Something Else, a swagger and self-confidence that he brings to every scene even before he utters a line." [Esquire]

    "Networks try to dissguys bad newz from Nielsen." Joe Flint notes: "They misspell shows to fool the firm’s automated system into ignoring broadcasts on nights with few viewers." [The Wall Street Journal]

    "Director Luc Besson tests the outer limits with sci-fi epic Valerian." Adam Rogers' feature: "No matter how big the cult of Besson is, it’s fair to ask: How the hell did he get to make Valerian?" [Wired]

    "Broken Social Scene: friends forever." Jeremy Gordon's cover story: "the band has inched toward middle age and accumulated the attendant responsibilities of parenthood and partnership." [Spin]

    Today's Birthdays: Hamish Linklater, 41, Bérénice Bejo, 41, Robin Weigert, 48, Jim Gaffigan, 51, Paula Devicq, 52, Billy Campbell, 58, Shelley Duvall, 68, Ringo Starr, 77.