What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:13 AM 10/5/2017

by THR Staff

Getty Images

What's news: Multiple outlets are aggressively pursuing stories about Harvey Weinstein as the mogul lawyers up. Plus: A close look at digital media's pivot to video, a full tally of this year's top TV showrunners and why a Hong Kong IPO may make sense for STX. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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  • TV's Most Powerful Showrunners

    Coral Von Zumwalt

    That's Westworld's Lisa Joy and American Gods' Bryan Fuller photographed as THR unveils its annual list of TV's top showrunners. Michael O'Connell writes about how this year's list was compiled:

    What does it take for a television show without dragons, zombies or Sterling K. Brown to get a little attention? More than 400 U.S. scripted series are set to air in 2017 — thanks for the sobering stats, John Landgraf — and getting lost in the logjam is the new normal. 

    So in highlighting the most impactful writer-producers working in TV right now, THR focused on a few key factors. These 50 power showrunners rise above the churn with unprecedented deals (ka-ching, Shonda Rhimes), surging output, cultural cachet and legit "hits."

    Most have paid their dues (witness the reunions of two pairs of past collaborators), a few struck gold early (hear from Stranger Things' Duffer brothers ahead of their sure-to-be-scrutinized sophomore season) and all have a few choice words to say about the challenges of making TV today.

    Eligible showrunners had at least one current scripted (not animated) series air new episodes between August 2016 and July 2017 (sorry, Seth MacFarlane!). Top 50 Most Powerful TV Showrunners list. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ABC's Kimmel plans Letterman visit. The late-night legend will return as a guest on Live! during its "Back to Brooklyn" week, happening Oct. 16-20. Letterman, along with Paul Shaffer, will also sit in with the show's house band.

    Netflix anthology Easy sets new/returning cast. The Joe Swanberg-created individual episodic anthology will return with new faces Aubrey Plaza, Kate Berlant, Joe Lo Truglio, Michaela Watkins, Judy Greer and Danielle MacDonald. Details. 

    NBC's SNL previews Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. In the promo, stars Leslie Jones, Beck Bennett and Mikey Day are standing on the stage awaiting Gadot’s arrival before the actress literally breaks down walls. Watch.

    ^Paramount Network chief on rebranding Spike TV. In a visit to his Hollywood office, Kevin Kay, who also oversees TV Land and CMT, also shares with Lesley Goldberg what it was like to work through a very public legal battle between former CEO Philippe Dauman and his then-boss Sumner Redstone. Full Q&A.

    + Q: "Kevin Costner is making $500,000 per episode for Yellowstone. How do you justify that?" A: "The statement we wanted to make was that we're open for business and we're willing to pay top-tier actors whatever their quotes are. It sends a message and that's what we want to do."

    + Paramount Network enlists Darren Star for dramedy. The Sex and the City creator is developing a half-hour dramedy about a young American girl in Paris for the soon-to-launch entertainment hub. 

    + The network is also teaming with Kyle Killen (Lone Star) to adapt the female-led spy comic Velvet. The drama, which is in development, marks the first original from Paramount Television for corporate sibling Paramount Network.

    Starz gives Sweetbitter series order. The premium cabler has handed out a six-episode straight-to-series order for the half hour drama that counts Brad Pitt among its executive producers. Casting is currently underway. 

    Freeform renews The Bold Type for two seasons. The summer breakout will return for two 20-episode seasons — but series creator Sarah Watson will not return after creative differences with the network. Sweet/Vicious alum Amanda Lasher will take over.

    Fox News' Trump favorite show adds an hour. In the latest update to the lineup, Fox & Friends will rise an hour earlier for a 4 a.m. start time. The change begins Oct. 9.

    ESPN hires Fox Sports 1 star. The network has poached Kate Nolan from Fox, where she hosted the popular daily program Garbage Time. Nolan "will appear across multiple platforms and in a variety of projects" at the sports network, ESPN said. 

     ABC's The Goldbergs plots Star Trek/Star Wars showdown. The comedy will celebrate its 100th episode by taking on one of sci-fi's biggest debates. Back to the Future alum Lea Thompson returns to direct the episode, which will air Oct. 25.

  • Box Office: 'Blade Runner' High Hopes

    The long-awaited sequel to 1982 cult classic Blade Runner will have no trouble racing to the top of the box-office chart in its debut, but can the sci-fi epic succeed in launching a new franchise? Pamela McClintock forecasts: 

    The R-rated Blade Runner 2049 is projected to open to $45M or more in North America. It is also rolling out in almost every international market this weekend, save for China, Japan and South Korea, and could easily clear $100M globally by Sunday. Alcon Entertainment developed and holds worldwide rights to the $150M sequel. 

    Elsewhere, Lionsgate and Hasbro's animated family film My Little Pony is projected to launch in the $12M-$15M range. Fox 2000’s adventure drama The Mountain Between Us, starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, is tipped to gross a modest $12M-plus in its nationwide debut.

    At the specialty box office, Focus Features expands Stephen Frears' royal biographical drama Victoria and Abdul into a total of 750 theaters, while A24 launches fellow awards hopeful The Florida Project in select markets. Full preview I Review

    Elsewhere in film...

    Why a Hong Kong IPO may make sense for STX Entertainment. Bob Simonds' decision to take his struggling studio public in the pre-eminent Asia exchange strikes some as desperate, but others see an opportunity to strengthen ties with China.

    ► Fast and Furious 9 pushed to 2020. The still director-less Universal movie, originally slated for an Spring 2019 release, is now slated to hit theaters April 10, 2020 — Easter weekend. 

    + Universal and DreamWorks Animation also said that Trolls 2 will move up from April 10, 2020, to Feb. 14, 2020, and that Walt Dohrn is returning to helm the follow-up, while Gina Shay will once again produce.

    Nicole Kidman cast as LAPD detective in crime thriller. Fresh off her Emmy win, the actress will star in Destroyer, an LA-set drama to be directed by Karyn Kusama (The Invitation).

    Bob's Burgers heads to the big screen. 20th Century Fox is developing a movie out of the Emmy-winning animated Fox series, with creator Loren Bouchard on board. The film is set for a July 2020 release date.

    ^Is the N.Y. Times about to expose damaging information on Harvey Weinstein? Chris Gardner and Kim Masters write: The Weinstein Co. film and television mogul has enlisted an army of attorneys and crisis managers in recent weeks and has unleashed them on the Times over a planned story on his personal behavior, multiple sources familiar with the behind-the-scenes battle say.

    + It’s unclear what the Times is planning to report, but sources say the newspaper has been calling dozens of current and former employees and associates of Weinstein, going as far back as the executive’s days running Miramax more than two decades ago.

    + Additionally, NBC News correspondent Ronan Farrow also has been digging into the mogul’s past for approximately a year, and Farrow is now said to be working with The New Yorker magazine on a "lengthy" piece.

    + Weinstein offered this comment: "The story sounds so good, I want to buy the movie rights."

    ► Lionsgate to remake Russian horror film The Bride. The studio landed the rights thanks to its alliance with Globalgate Entertainement with Conjuring writers Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes to produce.

    IFC Midnight nabs Martin Freeman thriller. The company has acquired North American rights to Ghost Stories, based on the Olivier-nominated stage production, co-written and directed by Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman.

    Holocaust trial doc in the works from Weinstein Co. Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz explores the life of the Einsatzgruppen Case's chief prosecutor, with Barry Avrich donating his net profits to charity.

    ► Casting Society to honor Barry Levinson, Kevin Huvane. CAA’s Huvane, filmmaker Levinson and casting director Victoria Thomas will be honored at the 33rd annual Artios. Details.

    Also: Christian Bale bulking up to play Dick Cheney. The actor has packed on the pounds, but is also secretly hitting an L.A. gym to achieve the former vp's shoulders-up profile in Adam McKay's drama Backseat for Annapurna Pictures. About the transformation.

  • The Great Pivot to Video

    Illustration by: Rami Niemi

    Michael Wolff's latest: Digital media's latest shift away from words reveals the same old obsession: Steal some of TV's $70 billion ad pot. Can even Facebook succeed amid a tsunami of new content? Full column.

    + Wolff quote: "One would barely know how to have a conversation with someone proposing a text-based startup: 'We're going to hire great writers!' Try that on someone. And if you do have great writers now or, even better, game and cheap ones, you are still saying — and have been for a while — 'Yes, yes, we're working on our video strategy. Amazing stuff!'"

    What else we're reading... 

    "A former superagent bets big on a more diverse Hollywood." Calvin Baker's profile: "After years as the industry’s top African-American talent agent, Charles D. King is building an audacious new production company." [The New York Times magazine]

    "Broadcast networks' premiere week ratings take a hit." Stephen Battaglio notes: " The combined audience for ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CW for the week of Sept. 25 through Oct. 1 was down 11% from a year ago." [The Los Angeles Times]

    "Hollywood producer in the spotlight in Netanyahu probe." Rory Jones' update on Arnon Milchan: "Israeli police said they had questioned a financier behind Academy Award-winning films." [The Wall Street Journal]

    — "You have Idris Elba’s full attention." "Actually," the actor tells Maureen Dowd, “I personally don’t want to see any more slave films. I think it’s a time that’s been very well documented." [The New York Times]

    "Rock & roll hall of fame nominees." Andy Greene notes: "the list includes Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Bon Jovi, Depeche Mode, Judas Priest, Kate Bush, the Cars, Dire Straits." [Rolling Stone]

    "The unknowable Joni Mitchell." Jack Hamilton's feature: "Her music inspires a deep sense of intimacy, yet her fierce privacy is the key to her genius." [The Atlantic]

    What else we're seeing... 

    + Russell Brand puts his spin on the 12-step program." [Late Show]

    + "Hillary Clinton on McKinnon/Baldwin SNL impressions." [Tonight Show]

    + "Robin Wright on Blade Runner 2049 spoilers." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Tina Fey gave out cheese fries in Times Square." [Late Night]

    Today's birthdays: Jesse Eisenberg, 34, Kate Winslet, 42, Tom Hooper, 45, Josie Bissett, 47, Guy Pearce, 50, Neil deGrasse Tyson, 59, Karen Allen, 66.