What's news: As premiere week arrives, what are the narratives that will be shaping fall TV? Plus: How Leslie Moonves beat Lachlan Murdoch for Network Ten, Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman reigned at the box office and the Gilmore Girl creators get a new deal at Amazon. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman
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Daniel Fienberg asks: The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery, which premiered on Sunday, have a winning star in Sonequa Martin-Green, but is it enough to drive viewers to a new CBS platform?
This is a show that had more than the usual amount hanging on its broadcast and then streaming premiere. It had to calm Star Trek fans, still freaking out after Bryan Fuller's departure and months of delays. It had to woo the Star Trek ambivalent, since this is a franchise that perhaps can survive on die-hards alone, but probably prefers not to.
And more than that, the opening hour had to hook audiences so completely that they'll be willing to follow the show to subscription VOD platform CBS All Access. In this respect, the Star Trek: Discovery premiere feels like a failure to me, albeit an entertaining and occasionally epic and ambitious failure.
There's room for pilots that don't immediately set out a template for the ongoing series, but I don't know that, with everything riding on Star Trek: Discovery, this was the time for a "prequel" or "overture" pilot, one that doesn't introduce the show's title space vessel, most of its main characters or its core conflict other than "Klingons bad, everybody else good."
+ Early takes: New York: "a stirring, rare work of science fiction." USA Today: "hits bumps but starts to find its flight path." EW: "feels like a show struggling to find its heart." A.V. Club: "there’s a strong core of narrative in these episodes that has me dangerously close to optimism."
Elsewhere in TV...
? NFL TV ratings drop again in week three. The NBC match-up between the Oakland and Washington averaged an overnight 11.5 rating among households. The preliminary score, a low for this season, was down 11 percent from the same night a year ago.
+ Numerous NFL players kneel in Trump protest during games. The NFL and players' union pushed back against the president's national anthem remarks, defending players rights to peacefully protest. Multiple team owners also spoke out. Full story.
? Amazon inks Gilmore Girls creators to deal. Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino have inked a multiple-year overall deal to develop new projects. The deal also means it's highly unlikely the duo will revive the Gilmore Girls again anytime soon.
? CBS' 60 Minutes deploys Oprah for Trump panel. Frank Scheck writes: For her debut segment, the mogul conducted a focus group evenly divided between Trump supporters and Trump opponents. The results weren’t pretty.
? NBC's Will & Grace stars reveal why they returned for revival. The cast and co-creators tease what to expect from the highly anticipated new season, which is set to premiere Thursday.
? MTV's Scream enlists Teen Wolf star. Tyler Hoechlin is staying in business at the cabler, as it tapped the actor to join the rebooted third season of its horror adaptation.
^Fall TV's burning questions. As premiere week gets started, these are the thorny subjects that will shape the narrative of the 2017-18 broadcast season, Michael O'Connell forecasts:
+ Just how patriotic are American viewers feeling? Entertainment's military trend is set to hit the saturation point with three (three!) soldier-centric series joining the schedule this fall. NBC's The Brave, CBS' SEAL Team and The CW's Valor all arrive in the coming weeks — none of them expected to do particularly well in other markets.
+ When is it time to worry about the NFL? If football's 2016 ratings dips raised eyebrows, early losses for the 2017 season are likely prompting queasy stomachs. The first two weekends of NFL brought double-digit ratings losses from the previous year, a fact that could have repercussions far beyond finances for the heavily-invested NBC, CBS and Fox.
+ Will the latest spinoffs be a success? If there is a shining hope for the fall schedule, it is CBS' Young Sheldon. Early reviews are generally positive, and it's a prequel to the most dominant broadcast series of the past decade. But is season 11 really the right time to launch a Big Bang Theory spinoff?
+ Can This Is Us maintain its momentum? NBC will now see if This Is Us can continue its growth or, just as advantageously, retain the devoted audience it found last year. One particularly positive sign is the network 86-ing plans to move This Is Us to Thursday. It will remain on Tuesdays, starting Sept. 26, where it worked so well before
+ And who's going to admit if anything is actually canceled? Premiere Week used to come with its own guillotine. The most troubled series would get the ax after three or even two low-rated episodes — production shut down, with the remaining footage never to see the pixilated light of day. But networks have become more and more reticent about bubble shows, often letting the poorest performers languish on the dial through November or December. More here.
Rep Sheet Roundup: Gal Gadot parts ways with management company Untitled Entertainment ... WME signs Victoria & Abdul star Ali Faza … R&B queen Mary J. Blige has signed with APA ... Saturday Night Live alum Bobby Moynihan has signed with 42West ... CAA has signed Damon & Jo, who produce and star in Facebook Watch’s Damn Millennials. More.
It was a mixed bag at the box office over the weekend, Pamela McClintock notes:
Kingsman: The Golden Circle easily won the race in North America, grossing $39M from 4,003 theaters. That was somewhat behind expectations, although the sequel still scored one of the best openings for the month of September, as well as came in ahead of the first film ($36.2M). Heading into the frame, however, tracking had suggested the cheeky spy action-comedy would clear $40M.
The movie wasn't as well-received by critics as the first, though both films received the same grade from audiences (a B+ CinemaScore). Males made up the majority of ticket buyers (58 percent). Overseas, Golden Circle kicked off with $61M — led by the U.K. with $11.1M — for a global tally of $100M.
The big box office letdown was Warner Bros.' animated family offering The Lego Ninjago Movie, which launched to a meek $21.2M from 4,047 locations domestically. And, in a surprise upset, It beat Ninjago with a hefty $30M n its third weekend. Full weekend wrap.
Elsewhere in film...
? China's censors pull revered director's film. Marketing efforts and ticket presales for Feng Xiaogang's Youth were already well advanced when authorities suddenly blocked its release, offering no explanation.
? CA's film/TV tax credits bring $3.7B to state in spending. In its first two years, the state's expanded program has attracted or retained 100 film and television projects generating an estimated $3.7B in direct in-state spending, including $1.4B in below-the-line wages, the state said in a new report issued Monday.
+ Gregg Kilday notes: In the first two years of the expanded program, California gained 38 feature film projects and 50 television projects comprised of eight pilots, two movies of the week, 27 television series, one miniseries and 12 relocating television series.
? James Corden returning as host of Hollywood Film Awards. This will mark his third consecutive year as host of the ceremony, set for Nov. 5 at the Beverly Hilton. This year’s ceremony will benefit the Motion Picture & Television Fund.
^Fox unveils trailer for final Maze Runner film. Dylan O'Brien returns in the Wes Ball-directed film, The Death Cure, leading his group of escaped Gladers on their final mission (in theaters Jan. 26). Watch.
? I, Tonya gets awards-qualifying release date. Upstart distributor Neon will open the Margot Robbie and Allison Janney film in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 8, with a platform rollout continuing into January.
? Lady Gaga's A Star Is Born moves release date. The Warner Bros. movie is moving up from its previous berth of Sept. 28, 2018, to May 18. That takes it out of the traditional ground for more serious fare.
? Disney's female Santa Claus movie nabs Billy Eichner. The comedian's move arrives as the Billy on the Street star and his fast-paced game show is set to leave truTV. Anna Kendrick is starring in the film.
New! First look at the race for the 90th Oscars. Scott Feinberg is out with his initial list of contenders, category-by-category. Frontrunners for best picture include Dunkirk, The Shape of Water, Darkest Hour and The Florida Project. Feinberg Forecast.
Behind the scenes of CBS' big deal for Australia's Network Ten, Georg Szalai and Pip Bulbeck report:
CBS Corp. chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves and CBS Studios International president and CEO Armando Nunez delivered a one-two knockout to punch to Rupert Murdoch's oldest son Lachlan Murdoch and his local partners.
The Eye network first shocked Australian media on Aug. 28 by announcing it had reached a deal with Ten’s receivers, trumping a rescue bid by Murdoch and Gordon. The knockout for Murdoch came just three weeks later, when both bids were put to a vote by Ten’s creditors, which included CBS and Fox as program suppliers and Ten staff, amongst others.
CBS won out thanks to the “overwhelming support” of 750 of Ten’s employees, according to Network Ten's Mark Korda, who made it clear that they were not willing to continue Ten’s rocky ride under the stewardship of Murdoch. Analysts say Murdoch and Gordon overplayed their hand. The Ten fiasco is a rare misstep by Lachlan Murdoch down under. Full story.
What else we're reading...
— "Is Disney paying its share in Anaheim?" Daniel Miller's feature: "The Burbank company masterfully works the political system, sometimes deploying aggressive strategies that belie its carefully cultivated image." [The Los Angeles Times]
— "Gloria Allred's crusade." Jia Tolentino's profile: "Allred’s career can be seen as a decades-long project to expand the boundaries of legitimate victimhood." [The New Yorker]
— "Colbert, Kimmel and the politics of late night." Jim Rutenberg's column: "Once a refuge from the worries of the workday, late night TV shows and other avenues of entertainment, like sports, are forcing Americans to take sides." [The New York Times]
— "Foo Fighters score second No. 1 album on Billboard 200." Keith Caulfield writes: the band's Concrete and Gold album "earned 127,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Sept. 21, according to Nielsen Music." [Billboard]
— "Kris Jenner addresses Kylie Jenner pregnancy rumors." Booth Moore writes: "Jenner said she was surprised to wake up in Milan to the rumors, but would not confirm if they are true or not, saying only, 'It wouldn’t be the family if something didn’t happen every single day.'" [Pret-a-Reporter]
What's ahead this week...
Monday: CBS premieres Big Bang spinoff Young Sheldon.
Tuesday: Streamy awards held in L.A. ... HBO hosts Spielberg doc premiere in L.A. ... NBC hosts This Is Us season two premiere in L.A. ... NBC premieres Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders.
Wednesday: HBO holds Curb Your Enthusiasm premiere in N.Y. ... THR Power Business Managers breakfast held in L.A. ... Clio Awards held in N.Y. ... Showtime hosts White Famous premiere in L.A. ... Netflix hosts Our Souls at Night premiere in N.Y.
Thursday: NBC premieres Will & Grace revival series.
Friday: Universal's American Made, Sony's Flatliners, Pure Flix's A Question of Faith, Novus' Til Death Do Us Part hit theaters in wide release.
Today in 1999...
+ Freaks and Geeks premieres on NBC, original review: "offers the most sensitive, touching and, yes, humorous look at the joys and pains of adolescence since The Wonder Years."
Today's birthdays: Donald Glover, 34, David Benioff, 47, Catherine Zeta-Jones, 48, Will Smith, 49, Heather Locklear, 56, Mark Hamill, 66, Pedro Almodóvar, 68, Michael Douglas, 73.