What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:20 AM 11/17/2017

by Ray Rahman

George Clooney -black and white- 74th Venice Film Festival -Getty-H 2017
Stefania D'Alessandro/WireImage

What's news: Jeffrey Tambor is hit with another harassment allegation from the set of Transparent. Plus: CAA slapped with misconduct lawsuit, Sony lands Tarantino's next film, George Clooney returns to TV and THR's annual composers roundtable gets real. — Ray Rahman

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  • Tambor's Second Accuser

    How long before Amazon Studios is forced to make a move? Last week, the company that produces Transparent said it had opened an investigation into star Jeffrey Tambor's alleged inappropriate on-set behavior towards an assistant. Now a second woman on the show's payroll, Trace Lysette, is accusing the star of sexual misconduct, writes Seth Abramovitch:

    According to Lysette, when she emerged from wardrobe in her costume — a salmon-colored lingerie top and matching short-shorts — Tambor remarked, "My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually." Alexandra Billings, the third actor in the scene, was present to hear the remark, she confirms. Both "laughed it off because it was so absurd," Lysette says.

    A few minutes later, while waiting for a camera setup between takes, Lysette was standing in a corner of the soundstage set. That's when she says Tambor, dressed as Maura, wearing a green satin kimono and gray wig, approached her.

    "He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrust back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas," Lysette says. Full story.

    + Tambor's statement, in part: "I know I haven’t always been the easiest person to work with. ... But I have never been a predator — ever. I am deeply sorry if any action of mine was ever misinterpreted by anyone as being sexually aggressive or if I ever offended or hurt anyone. But the fact is, for all my flaws, I am not a predator and the idea that someone might see me in that way is more distressing than I can express."

    + Amazon Studios said that this new information "will be added to our ongoing investigation" but isn't commenting further.

    + What's next? Kevin Spacey's alleged on-set behavior (as well as past claims) resulted in his firing from Netflix's House of Cards. Could Amazon do the same to Tambor, or will they go another route? It's tough to see the way forward: Both of the women accusing Tambor are transgender, and the show largely revolves around the life of a transgender woman, Tambor's Maura (a role that has won him two Emmys). Then again, that makes his character harder to write off... 

    In other news...

    ? The Royals female cast and crew accuse Mark Schwahn of "repeated unwanted sexual harassment." The letter came after Schwahn, who was already facing accusations from the former cast and crew of One Tree Hill, was suspended from his role as showrunner on The Royals on Wednesday.

    ? CAA sued over agent's alleged sexual assault of a client. Actress Demi Mann says in her suit that she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Cameron Mitchell and that the agency ignored her request for help.

    ? Sarah Silverman grapples with Louis C.K.'s behavior. "One of my best friends of over 25 years, Louis C. K., masturbated in front of women. He wielded his power with women in fucked up ways, sometimes to the point where they left comedy entirely," Silverman said on her Hulu show I Love You, America. "I hope it's OK if I am at once very angry for the women he wronged and the culture that enabled it, and also sad, because he's my friend." Full story.

    ? Matthew Weiner's book tour upended by harassment claims. In the wake of former writer Kater Gordon's claims against the Mad Men creator, multiple events promoting his new novel have been canceled.  

    ? Kiss star Gene Simmons is banned from Fox News for life. According to a Daily Beast report, "inappropriate and sexist antics" during Fox meetings was the cause. "Simmons’s photograph was posted Wednesday at the security entrance of the company’s Manhattan headquarters along with a 'do-not-admit' advisory," the story says.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? NBCUniversal kills Chiller. The horror-centric channel, home to a slew of cheap genre acquisitions, will cease operations at the end of the year after it struggled to maintain carriage deals with cable providers.

    ? Fox opts for Steve Harvey over Pitbull for New Year's Eve. In a bid to keep up with ABC's perennially high-rated festivities (currently hosted by Ryan Seacrest but, of course, pioneered by Dick Clark), Fox is hiring the other person who's on TV all the time. Harvey, believe it or not, has yet to host a New Year's Eve telecast in his career. 

    ^ Is anyone ready for The Punisher? Not everyone is on board with Marvel's latest TV entry, a violent gunman-centered series that drops on Netflix today. "It's the worst time ever to release The Punisher — just like every other time," Graeme McMillan writes in Wired, where he puts the show in the context of recent gun violence. "Punisher is an ultraviolent mistake," reads the headline at Vulture. And over at Uproxx, Alan Sepinwall declares, "The Punisher is the wrong show at the wrong time." Will viewers agree?

    ? "There's... Johnny!", reviewed. "Paul Reiser and David Steven Simon clearly have a fond affinity for Carson and that era of late-night television, when Johnny and Ed McMahon and The Tonight Show ruled the country, and while the original clips certainly make the concept interesting, the actual series suffers from a big divide in tone," Tim Goodman writes of Reiser's new Hulu series. Read more.

    ? 21st Century Fox shares soar amid reports of new potential suitors. Shares of the Murdoch-owned company surged 8 percent higher on Thursday when it was reported that Disney isn't the only conglomerate interested in purchasing some of 21st Century Fox. Comcast has also approached the company to see if it would part with its film studio and other assets, and later reports revealed that Verizon, too, is in the mix.

    ? FCC weakens limits against newspaper-TV station consolidation. The regulatory body made it legal for one company to own newspapers and TV stations in a single market, which has been illegal since 1975, as well as made it easier to own two broadcast television stations in a market. On top of that, the FCC also loosened rules preventing competitors to cooperate with each other. Critics say dumping these rules encourages consolidation, which hurts media diversity.  

    ? George Clooney returns to TV with a Catch-22 adaptation. The Oscar winner and Emmy nominee is set to star and direct a limited series based on the seminal Joseph Heller novel. The six-episode project, produced by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content, does not yet have a network, but that will surely change now that Clooney is signed on.

    + In Development: Rachel Bilson is set to star in an ABC straight-to-series procedural from Castle creators titled Take TwoCBS is developing a TV adaptation of the 1981 Bill Murray comedy Stripes. Murray isn’t involved (yet) but original director Ivan Reitman will direct the reboot … Mark Burnett, Roma Downey’s modern-day Biblical drama Messiah has been picked up first season at NetflixJulianne Hough is set to star in Fox’s musical comedy One Hit Wendy … David Alan Grier will star in Fox’s The Cool Kids, an upcoming retirement-community comedy from the Sunny in Philly team Michael Imperioli will play New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in Showtime’s Escape at Dannemora.

  • Sony Lands Tarantino

    Tarantino had once again planned to make his next movie with The Weinstein Company but decided to take it elsewhere amid the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal, write Tatiana Siegel and Georg Szalai:

    Sony Pictures has won the showdown for the right to finance and distribute Quentin Tarantino’s next movie, which has the working title #9. Sony Pictures acquired worldwide rights for an unknown price tag.

    Set in the late 1960s/early 1970s in L.A., the film is an ensemble feature. Its working title comes from this being Tarantino's ninth feature. The director is understood to be looking to get a star-studded cast for the film.

    David Heyman, Tarantino and Shannon McIntosh are producing, with Georgia Kacandes serving as executive producer. Sony Pictures, led by Tom Rothman, beat out other suitors for the film, which Tarantino had planning on making with the embattled Weinstein Company. Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Dunkirk lands theater rerelease timed to awards push. Looking to boost the film's awards prospects, Warner Bros. will show Christopher Nolan's sweeping war epic in both Imax and 70mm at select theaters in 34 markets starting Dec. 1.

    ? Christopher Plummer discusses reshooting Kevin Spacey's All the Money in the World scenes. “They’re going to reshoot the whole … that whole section of the movie,” he said, while also commenting on Spacey’s situation: “As far as Kevin is concerned, I’m so sorry, because it is sad. It really is, because he’s such a gifted, terrific talent." 

    + Spacey's Gore co-star Michael Stuhlbarg weighed in on their dropped Netflix movie. "I understand what's going on," Stuhlbarg said. "Honestly, we all have some hope that perhaps … over time there will be a chance for people to see it in the light in which it was meant to be seen."  

    ? Sylvester Stallone denies claim that he sexually assaulted a minor. Sylvester Stallone's rep on Thursday called allegations the actor sexually assaulted a minor in 1986 "ridiculous." "No one was ever aware of this story until it was published today, including Mr. Stallone," the actor's rep said of the Daily Mail report.

    ^ Hollywood nightlife in the '90s: Never-seen photos of Leo, Charlize, Reese and more revealed. In the '90s in L.A., well-known photographer Randall Slavin was just another struggling young actor who carried a pocket camera that caught his soon-to-be-famous friends, including Paul Rudd, Jennifer Garner, Jennifer Aniston and others, enjoying the time of their lives. See the photos.

    ?James Franco in talks to join Fox's X-Men universe with Multiple Man movie. The multihyphenate (and current Oscar hopeful thanks to The Disaster Artist) is in negotiations to play Multiple Man (who, like Franco, is skilled at creating multiple versions of himself) in a stand-alone developed by X-Men producer Simon Kinberg, godfather of Fox's universe based on the uncanny Marvel mutants. Allan Heinberg, one of the writers behind Wonder Woman, is set to write.

    + Which means Fox's X-Men universe might be getting weird. Multiple Man, alternately known as James Madrox, has been in the comic spotlight before, and things have been ... strange, writes Greame McMillan: 

    Madrox debuted, of all places, in a 1975 Fantastic Four comic by future X-Men writers Len Wein and Chris Claremont before fading into the background for a number of years. And his brief shining moments tease some strange, wonderful movie possibilities ahead. Read more.

    ? The first-ever live-action Pokemon movie finds it star. Justice Smith (The Get Down) will topline Legendary's feature based on the mystery-solving Detective Pikachu character.

    ? How Netflix's Mudbound recreated the Jim Crow South for a timely depiction of race relations. On a tight $11 million budget, director Dee Rees battled heat, humidity and even a tornado warning to mount a period picture with deep modern-day resonance.

  • Score Keepers

    Six top musical talents — Carter Burwell (Wonderstruck; Three Billboards); Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water, Suburbicon); Michael Giacchino (Coco), Philip Glass (Jane); Daniel Pemberton (Molly's Game); and Tamar-kali (Mudbound) — come together for the annual THR Composers Roundtable and open up about the horror of the temp track, the best way to talk to a director and the power of a well-executed score. Kevin Cassidy writes:

    Film composers are nothing if not adaptable. Moving from project to project, they are frequently forced to adapt in multiple ways — to new directors, different budgets, punishing deadlines. To hear them describe this process of adaptation, it becomes clear that creating effective and memorable music for movies is really only part of their job.

    The other part involves a delicate balance between composing music they find personally satisfying but that also, somehow, pleases a director, a studio and, ultimately, an audience. And as they will freely admit, this process isn't just about tinkering with a piano until inspiration strikes (although plenty of that happens, too). It also demands that they master other skills — patience, timing, intuition, some light psychoanalysis — that go well beyond music. "We're like actors," says Oscar winner Giacchino. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — "'It was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't.'" David Sims writes: "I was just kidding is often a defense offered onstage by stand-up comedians who have, in some way, pushed past performance into something more threatening or upsetting." [The Atlantic]

    — "Meet Doug Jones, one of the biggest movie stars you've probably never seen." Adam B. Vary writes: "When Doug Jones stepped into a quiet diner in the San Fernando Valley in mid-October, a handful of other patrons in the restaurant craned their heads to look at him. It's easy to understand why." [BuzzFeed]

    — “Willem Dafoe, your favorite movie villain, plays this awards season’s most heartwarming character.” Julie Miller writes: “Long before Willem Dafoe earned either of his Oscar nominations (for Platoon and Shadow of the Vampire); played Jesus (in The Last Temptation of Christ); or worked like some kind of movie-villain archeologist to consistently find unexplored nuance in a series of evil characters, he was studying experimental theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” [Vanity Fair]  

    — "Tom Clancy made us idiots about terrorism." Jon Coumes writes: "Clancy’s takes on terrorists and on terror were backwards at best and are what makes us morons on the subject at worst." [The Awl]

    — "At the NRA's TV network, guns are the weapon of culture." Charlotte Alter writes: "The NRA’s primary tool of influence remains campaign spending. Now, with NRATV, it is trying to use viral video segments and shareable online content to sway ordinary Americans." [Time]

    — "The Churchill surge: Why Winston Churchill is resonating in pop culture." David Canfield writes: "Author Anthony McCarten, who wrote both the Darkest Hour screenplay and his new book of the same title, suspects the modern public is drawn to Churchill now because of his unerring sense of honor and honesty." [EW]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Ben Affleck: 'I'm not a superhero.'" [Late Show]

    + "Chance the Rapper wishes he could hang with Drake more." [Tonight Show]

    + "Alabama reacts to the Roy Moore accusations." [Daily Show]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Greta Gerwig explores mother-daughter love (and angst) in Lady Bird." [Fresh Air / NPR]

    + "Lawrence O'Donnell: Interview." [WTF With Marc Maron]

    + "I'm the boss, baby: Alec Baldwin's approach to playing villains." [Studio 360 With Kurt Andersen / Slate]

    Today's Birthdays: Harry Lloyd, 34, Tom Ellis, 39, Rachel McAdams, 39, Leslie Bibb, 43, RuPaul Charles, 57, Frank Spotnitz, 57, Danny DeVito, 73, Lorne Michaels, 73, Martin Scorsese, 75.