What's news: Ridley Scott is replacing Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World just weeks before the film's release date. Meanwhile, Amazon is investigating a Jeffrey Tambor misconduct claim, Fox-Disney and AT&T-Time Warner talks are getting murkier and Michael Ovitz's former staff reflects on the short-lived Artists Management Group. — Erik Hayden
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Is the hookup between Time Warner and AT&T off, while a Walt Disney purchase of most of the assets of 21st Century Fox is on? Judging from Wall Street's reaction, everything is possible, Paul Bond and Georg Szalai write:
+ Many expect that should the AT&T-Time Warner combination not materialize amid regulatory concerns, Time Warner will look for another deal. “If AT&T falls apart, look for Time Warner to combine HBO and Warner Bros. into a new company that does not include Turner,” predicts Ben Weiss, chief investment officer at 8th & Jackson Capital Management.
+ Indeed, that’s kind of along the lines of what the U.S. Justice Department is apparently advocating since it said Wednesday that it may not bless the $85.4 billion merger unless AT&T either sells DirecTV or Time Warner's Turner, which consists of its cable TV channels, most notably CNN, and related digital businesses.
+ "Expect more M&A on the horizon," Jefferies analyst John Janedis wrote in a report following the news of the Disney-Fox discussions. "While we don't think this combination is a likely scenario, we do expect to hear more on the M&A front over the next several quarters, as media companies look to build scale in the face of ongoing secular pressures."
+ Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chief executive, hasn’t commented on the prospect of shedding DirecTV in order to get his merger approved, but he did draw a line in the sand with CNN. "Until now, we've never commented on our discussions with the DOJ," Stephenson said in an email. "It’s important to set the record straight. Throughout this process, I have never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so."
Elsewhere in TV...
► Amazon investigating Jeffrey Tambor misconduct claim. The actor, who has won two Emmys for his work on Transparent, stands accused by his former assistant, transgender actress Van Barnes. Says series creator Jill Soloway: "We are cooperating with the investigation into this matter."
► Apple orders Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston show. The tech giant has picked up the untitled project about morning shows with a straight-to-series, two-season order (20 episodes total). Brian Stelter's book Top of the Morning will provide additional background for the series.
► Fox TV executive shake-up: Charlie Andrews is back in the fold at Fox. The former network drama executive, who jumped to Netflix earlier this year, is returning to his longtime home in a position formerly occupied by his then-boss Terence Carter.
► Showtime renews Shameless for season 9. The news comes days after the William H. Macy-Emmy Rossum starrer opened its eighth season with its highest-rated premiere since season three. The seventh season averaged 6.5M viewers per week.
► Amazon lands Seth Rogen superhero drama. The streamer has given a series order to The Boys. Eric Kripke will write, while Rogen and his producing partner Evan Goldberg will direct the project, which has landed an eight-episode order.
^Hulu's Future Man, reviewed. Executive produced by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, this pastiche of The Last Starfighter and Back to the Future is childish, derivative and sometimes quite funny. Daniel Fienberg's takeaway: "Proudly puerile."
► CW gives Dynasty full season order. The younger-skewing broadcast network has handed out a back-nine episode order for its reboot of the 1980s primetime soap. The show is averaging 0.4 among adults 18-49 and 1.3M total viewers with three days of DVR.
► AMC plans new John Le Carre adaptation. After taking home the Emmy for The Night Manager, the network has green-lighted The Little Drummer Girl. Florence Pugh will star in the six-parter. Production will begin in January.
► Netflix renews Ultimate Beastmaster. Season two of the competition series will run 10 episodes and feature 108 competitors from six countries, including Spain, France, Italy, China, India and the U.S.
► NBC's This Is Us sees ratings rebound. The drama surged 25 percent to reclaim its dominance in the key demo for Tuesday. The drama averaged a 2.5 rating among adults 18-49, easily winning the night.
► Fox News hires Trump Team's Sebastian Gorka. The advisor, who lasted until late August in Trump's White House, has joined the network as a contributor. Gorka, in an email, said that Fox News is "one of the few bastions fighting back against the #FAKENEWSindustrialComplex."
In a monumental and expensive move, Ridley Scott will remove embattled actor Kevin Spacey from his finished thriller All the Money in the World just weeks before the film's release, Mia Galuppo, Pamela McClintock and Carolyn Giardina write:
Christopher Plummer will now play J. Paul Getty in the story about the infamous 1973 kidnapping of his grandson, 16-year-old John Paul Getty III. The movie, which was pulled as the closing-night screening of AFI Fest at Scott's insistence, is scheduled to hit theaters Dec. 22 via Sony's TriStar.
As of now, the release date remains unchanged despite the reshoots, but insiders say that if anyone can pull off reshoots and still make the holiday release date, it's Scott. The filmmaker made the decision unilaterally and only notified Sony of his decision late Wednesday afternoon, according to sources familiar with the situation, adding that Plummer was originally the first choice for the role, but top studio executives wanted a bigger name.
Spacey shot a total of eight days and many of his scenes featured just him. Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams also star in the feature, as J. Paul Getty's lawyer and daughter, and the two are expected to come back for reshoots.
+ Can it be done? It is not clear how Scott will produce the Spacey-Plummer swap, but bringing back the actors for filming and finishing the movie on this razor-tight schedule is an enormous undertaking. Another equally complicated option may be the use of delicate visual effects work. One challenge for such VFX work is that many of Spacey’s scenes were shot in different locations.
Elsewhere in film...
► Weekend box office preview: Director Kenneth Branagh's Murder on the Orient Express and comedy sequel Daddy's Home 2 could find themselves in a close race for the box-office crown, with both tracking to open in the low $20M range.
► Stars skipping red carpet premieres amid harassment talk. Scott Huver observes: Since the first allegations against studio head Harvey Weinstein were made public in early October, there’s been a gradual chilling effect on typically cheery arrivals lines of the many premieres, awards ceremonies, charity functions, galas and other industry events.
+ At first, despite an initial wariness and reticence, A-listers at events entertained — and some even welcomed — questions regarding their own experiences with Weinstein in particular and sexual harassment within the business in general. It wasn't long before silence crept back in. Full story.
► Justice League producer Deborah Snyder on "bittersweet" film. At a press conference for the Warner Bros title, the executive producer opened up about completing the film after her husband, Zack Snyder, had to step aside from directing the movie before it was completed.
► Fight Club author writes column on selling out. Chuck Palahniuk, who is behind the new work Legacy: An Off-Color Novella for You to Color looks at all the ways (big and small) he has been offered to profit from his art. Full column.
^Exec suite: Preacher-turned-producer DeVon Franklin. The president and CEO of his own production shingle, Franklin Entertainment, talks about why audiences are hungry for more faith-based films and how being a traveling preacher influences his work. Full story.
► Global Road names Jack Pan marketing president. In his new role, Pan will oversee and implement marketing strategies for all theatrical film titles distributed by Global Road across all windows in the U.S. and in China.
► Amanda & Jack Go Glamping, reviewed. David Arquette and Amy Acker co-star in Brandon Dickerson’s comedy about a couple attempting to get their marriage back on track. The takeaway: "A well-worn narrative arc."
► David Bowie: The Last Five Years, reviewed. Director Francis Whately’s HBO-bound documentary chronicles the rock legend’s remarkable final burst of creative energy. The takeaway: "A rock recluse rages against the dying of the light."
► R.I.P., Karin Dor. The actress, who played the red-haired villainess Helga Brandt in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice and featured in Alfred Hitchcock's Topaz, died Monday in in Munich, her son told Bild. She was 79. Full obit.
► New column: Oscars So White, again? Stephen Galloway writes: Denzel Washington could score a nomination for Roman J. Israel, Esq., but, for the third time in four years, the acting category might come up short in terms of diversity. Full story.
For the young men and women who began their careers at Michael Ovitz's high-flying but short-lived Artists Management Group, their indoctrination into Hollywood was a baptism by fire. Fifteen years ago, AMG flamed out, sending a generation of hungry young execs to populate some of the most influential companies of the past decade, Rebecca Sun reports. Full feature I Inside THR's Next Gen bash.
What else we're reading...
— "Rap disrupted music first. Now it’s TV and film." "Questlove, Salamishah Tillet and Jon Caramanica discuss depictions of rap’s old-school days as well as new series and movies with hip-hop embedded into their frameworks." [The New York Times]
— "The cutthroat world of capitalist reality TV." Caitlin Flanagan writes: "Shark Tank, The Toy Box, and Funderdome offer a mesmerizingly shallow view of American entrepreneurship." [The Atlantic]
— "When will Marvel Studios win an Oscar?" Kyle Buchanan notes: "We’ve seen 17 movies so far in the interconnected Marvel Cinematic Universe that began with 2008’s Iron Man, with nine Oscar nominations earned among them." [Vulture]
— "CNN sees Trump's hand in merger crackdown." Joe Pompeo reports: "The D.O.J. threw a huge wrench in AT&T’s long-planned deal to buy Time Warner. Is it about anti-trust? Or the president’s least-favorite network?" [Vanity Fair]
— "Behind Disney’s play for Fox." Ben Fritz writes: "repositioning its television business to compete in the streaming, a-la-carte world Netflix dominates has become Disney’s priority." [The Wall Street Journal]
What else we're seeing...
+ "Will Ferrell talks about his worst SNL sketch." [Late Night]
+ "Jesse Williams reveals terrifying night at sea." [Jimmy Kimmel Live]
+ Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert have "night of too many spit takes." [Late Show]
What else we're hearing...
+ Margot Robbie on I, Tonya and Harley Quinn. [Awards Chatter]
+ "Dana Gould explains how to make TV in 2017." [Recode Media]
+ "Django Unchained and Get Out with Marcus Henderson." [I Was There Too]
Today's birthdays: Billy Howle, 28, Nick Lachey, 44, Eric Dane, 45, Lou Ferrigno, 66, Bille August, 69, Robert David Hall, 70.