What's news: Leonardo DiCaprio unveiled the first look at Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Plus: Lingering questions about the Academy's record new class, Dana Brunetti launches a new company and an "influencer-only" mural arrives in Los Angeles. — Erik Hayden
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Having sifted through the 928 member list unveiled by the film Academy, Scott Feinberg has a few questions about the direction of the organization:
1. Is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences still an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?
In order to meet its diversity goals, the Academy — and, in particular, its largest division, the actors branch — is increasingly inviting people to become members who are tremendously talented, but whose talents have primarily manifested themselves in other media.
2. If you're good enough to win an Oscar, why aren't you good enough to join the Academy?
I do believe that there is one circumstance under which someone who has not amassed a large body of standout work should still be invited to join the Academy, and that is if that person has made a contribution to a film that was deemed excellent enough to merit an Oscar.
3. Is Oscar campaigning about to go crazy?
With the latest class added, this will create the highest number of Oscar voters since the period spanning 1938 to 1945, when certain classes of members of outside guilds, including the now-defunct Screen Extras Guild, were granted full voting privileges, bringing the size of the voting rolls to approximately 12,000. Full column.
Elsewhere in film...
? MoviePass parent stock hits new low. The company is losing about $45 million a month on its plan that gives subscribers 30 movie tickets for the price of one; it may need to spend $1.2 billion more if it is to stay afloat and keep growing
? Mark Wahlberg, Peter Berg reteam for Netflix film. The duo have set their next project (their fifth together) with the movie Wonderland, an adaptation from Robert B. Parker's detective series. Sean O’Keefe penned the screenplay.
? Pete Davidson to lead indie Big Time Adolescence. The SNL star will join Machine Gun Kelly and Griffin Gluck in the pic. The film, which will begin shooting next month, will be the directorial debut of Jason Orley.
? Annapurna president to exit company. Marc Weinstock is leaving after less than two years in that role. According to insiders, his decision to depart is amicable and he will not be replaced.
^Sony's Quentin Tarantino Manson drama unveils first still. Leonardo DiCaprio posted an image of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with him and Brad Pitt featured. First look.
? Amazon unveils Beautiful Boy trailer. Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet and Maura Tierney star in the drama from the streamer that hits theaters Oct. 12. Full clip.
? Dwayne Johnson’s Skyscraper scores rare China release date. Legendary Entertainment and Universal's action thriller has locked down a July 20 date, securing a spot right in the midst of Beijing's summer blackout on imported Hollywood fare.
? Lionsgate finds new film group marketing chief. Damon Wolf, currently co-head of marketing at Sony, will join the studio Jan. 1. His recent campaigns include work on Baby Driver and Don't Breathe.
? Constantin Film buys production group Hager Moss. The Munich-based production outfit is best known for its dramas and for crowd-pleasing films, including Oktoberfest.
? Independent Film and Television Alliance leaders renew contracts. Jean Prewitt and Jonathan Wolf have each re-upped for another three years with the trade association. Prewitt has headed the group since 2000.
? Writers Guild of America East unveils board candidates. It’s election season for the guild, which revealed a list of 16 candidates nominated for 10 open seats on its council.
In Heat Vision: Marvel's wait-and-see LGBTQ character approach. Graeme McMillan writes: Studio chief Kevin Feige recently confirmed queer characters are coming to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which lags behind the comic book publisher. Full column.
It’s official: Fox will be the new home of WWE SmackDown Live, Marisa Guthrie writes:
+ Fox: The new five-year agreement will commence Oct. 4, 2019, and will give Fox two hours of live event programming 52 weeks each year. It is worth $205M annually, and $1.025B over the life of the pact.
+ NBC: The network said that is has closed a new five-year pact to keep the Monday night showcase Raw on USA Network. That deal is worth $265M annually, a big premium over the current pact, which is worth about $150M annually for both properties. Currently both programs air on NBCUniversal’s USA. Full story.
Elsewhere in TV...
? Charter greenlights its first scripted series. Bad Boys spinoff L.A.'s Finest, starring Jessica Alba and Gabrielle Union, has been ordered by Charter Communications. The 13-episode drama will premiere in 2019.
? HBO casts Jeremy Irons in Watchmen pilot. The actor will topline the pilot from Damon Lindelof. While the pay cabler has remained mum on details, Irons will likely play an imperious lord of a British manor.
? Freeform cancels Famous in Love. Sources say the Disney-owned cabler wanted more money from SVOD partner Hulu for a potential third season amid clashes between star Bella Thorne and showrunner I. Marlene King.
? Lionsgate inks Dear White People showrunner to deal. Fresh off a third-season renewal, showrunner Yvette Lee Bowser has signed an overall deal. Under the pact, Bowser will create new projects for the studio.
Quoted: "It seemed like, you don’t need to murder someone that’s committing suicide. I thought the firing was overkill. She's already dead." — Jerry Seinfeld to USA Today on Roseanne Barr's firing.
^Can Netflix transform the TV landscape in the Middle East? With over 400M potential viewers, the region has vast potential, but with little variation in programming, audiences are starved for original content. The streaming giant could change all that. Full column.
? ITV COO, CFO to step down. The U.K. TV giant said that CFO and COO Ian Griffiths has advised the board of his intention to retire in the next 12 months. The company is searching for a successor.
? Endemol Shine names head of non-English scripted drama. Lars Blomgren, producer of the Scandinavian series The Bridge, has been hired as the new head of scripted across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
? Fox Searchlight’s TV division fills out exec ranks. The new arm of the company has tapped Kara Buckley and Danny Samit as vps of television production. The division has yet to launch its first project.
? Sony shutting down Crackle in Canada. The video hub will shift some of its Canadian inventory to two new local ad-supported VOD services, via a partnership with Sony Pictures Television.
? Dana Brunetti launches new TV and film company. He is teaming with former Relativity exec Keegan Rosenberger to create Cavalry Media with "moderately-priced, premium" programming that includes the Columbus series Hispaniola. The budget for a film will be in the $40M-$80M range. Details.
A stunt: Stroll down Melrose Avenue and there it is: A blue mural with a pink heart and angel wings. A security guard stands out front, next to a sign that reads, "For verified influencers and people with over 20,000 followers only," Natalie Jarvey notes. What that means.
What else we're reading...
— "Comcast hunts for additional cash." Amol Sharma and Dana Mattioliis report that the company is "exploring tie-ups with other companies or private-equity investors that could provide additional cash as the cable giant pursues a costly acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets." [Wall Street Journal]
— "How's he gonna react when there's a scandal?" Joe Pompeo on CNN: "So much appears to hang on the Jeff Zucker-John Stankey bromance. For now, everyone is saying the right thing." [Vanity Fair]
— "Hollywood’s instant antihero." Reggie Ugwu's Benicio Del Toro profile: "he’s been a strikingly economical player, if not always the most valuable one, averaging an unusually high ratio of memorable moments." [New York Times]
— "What does ABC want from The Conners?" David Sims writes: "The network canceled Roseanne and ordered a rebooted version of the show without its star, but what kinds of stories is the spinoff hoping to tell?" [The Atlantic]
— "Prince estate signs deal with Sony Music to re-release 35 catalog albums." Colin Stutz notes: "The deal also includes rights to other previously released singles, B-sides, remixes, non-album tracks, live recordings and music videos recorded before 1995." [Billboard]
From the archives...
+ 10 years ago today: On June 27, 2008, Pixar unveiled WALL-E, a sci-fi adventure that would become a summer hit with critics and audiences. Flashback review.
Today's birthdays: Sam Claflin, 32, Khloé Kardashian, 33, Wagner Moura, 42, Tobey Maguire, 43, J.J. Abrams, 52.