What's news: Will outraged talent be able to take Weinstein Co. projects elsewhere? Can the company exist, even if rebranded, under current leadership? Will the Academy boot Harvey? Meanwhile, Amazon faces its own widening scandal as Roy Price has been suspended after a TV producer went public with her harassment claim. — Ray Rahman and Erik Hayden
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Amid the growing Harvey Weinstein scandal, Lin-Manuel-Miranda and playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes are calling on The Weinstein Co. to let them take the film adaptation of their Tony Award-winning musical In the Heights elsewhere, Pamela McClintock reports:
"In the Heights is part of my heart and soul. I created it with respect, community and solidarity. I hope The Weinstein Co. has enough grace, in the wake of these revelations, to respect my stand as a woman, and to allow us to extricate In the Heights from them. In the Heights deserves a fresh start in a studio where I'll feel safe (as will my actors and collaborators)," Hudes said Thursday on Twitter.
Jon M. Chu is directing the film, which is currently in development. Not long after, Miranda weighed in on his Twitter feed, writing, "As usual, Quiara does the prose best. She speaks for us both."
Their plea underscores the perilous position TWC finds itself in, even with Weinstein terminated from the company. Insiders say numerous parties who have movies and television shows at TWC are worried that the venture is tarnished beyond repair following publication of stories in The New York Times and The New Yorker detailing allegations of sexual assault, rape and sexual harassment on the part of the larger-than-life mogul.
SIX PRODUCERS TALK Sitting down with THR editorial director Matthew Belloni, Judd Apatow (The Big Sick), Seth Rogen (The Disaster Artist), Amy Pascal (The Post, Molly's Game), Jason Blum (Get Out), Ridley Scott (Blade Runner 2049, All the Money in the World) and Eric Fellner (The Darkest Hour) addressed the claims that Weinstein reached at least eight monetary settlements with women who had accused him of sexual misconduct. Watch here.
LISA BLOOM EXPLAINS Q: Why did you take Harvey Weinstein as a client? "I saw this as a unique opportunity to change the way these stories go. In the case of Donald Trump, in the case of Bill O'Reilly, in the case of Bill Cosby, it’s always the same playbook. When the story comes out, attack the accuser, deny deny deny and fight like hell. Having represented a lot of those accusers, I know how damaging that is to them, how hurtful, how scary. It’s emotionally devastating. Because I had had that experience so many times with so many women I thought changing the response from the accused to immediately apologizing, expressing remorse, vowing to do better and never disrespecting the accusers would be a good thing for the victims." Full Q&A.
SPEAKING OUT Rose McGowan, Sophie Dix and Claire Forlani were among those who made new claims against Harvey Weinstein. The Associated Press' total number of accusers stands at more than 30. Meanwhile, Julia Roberts denounced "predatory" behavior in the industry and Jane Fonda says she wished she'd spoke up sooner about rumors she had heard about Weinstein.
Elsewhere, Oliver Stone caused an uproar last night when he claimed of Weinstein that "it's not easy what he's going through" and "I believe a man shouldn't be condemned by a vigilante system." He later walked back those comments. Ryan Gosling said he was disappointed in himself that he was "oblivious" to the rumors. Tom Hanks said: “I’ve never worked with Harvey ... But, aah, it all just sort of fits, doesn’t it?”
THE INDUSTRY Leadership at major talent agencies have raised the Weinstein claims in written or verbal communication to staff. WGA East president Beau Willimon and executive director Lowell Peterson condemned the alleged behavior and vowed to fight abuse. And the PGA is holding a special meeting Saturday, the same day the film Academy is meeting to decide what action to take against the former mogul.
READS "Filmmakers of sexual assault doc call on Academy to oust Harvey Weinstein." — Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering/THR. "Why it took so long for the Harvey Weinstein allegations to surface." — Yohana Desta/VF. "Has anyone fallen faster than Harvey Weinstein?" — Josh Rottenberg and Amy Kaufman/LAT.
Elsewhere in film...
^Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold, reviewed. The famed writer Joan Didion is profiled in this documentary directed by her nephew, actor Griffin Dunne. The takeaway: "A movingly personal if frustratingly fragmented portrait."
► Jackie Chan wants to win a best actor Oscar. A chat with the legendary action star, who talks about his award season ambitions and love of La La Land. Full interview.
► Beetlejuice sequel shows new signs of life. Warner Bros. has enlisted Mike Vukadinovich (Rememory) to rewrite the horror comedy follow-up, which has been in development for a long while. As of yet, neither Tim Burton nor Michael Keaton are attached.
► MGM lands director for Addams Family film. Conrad Vernon, who co-directed The Sausage Party, has come aboard to helm the animated feature version of the title. Vernon will also produce the movie with Gail Berman and Alex Schwartz.
► Ben Affleck, Matt Damon plan new project. The duo are joining Jennifer Todd and Paramount to produce The Shadows, the story of America’s first detectives. Chris Bremner is behind the pitch, which the studio acquired, and will now write the script for.
► Fox's Gambit gets release date. The studio has set a Feb. 14, 2019 release date for the X-Men spinoff starring Channing Tatum. Deadpool opened to big numbers over Valentine's Day weekend in 2016. Gore Verbinski is directing the film.
► Chris Hardwick launches movie label. The co-creator of Nerdist has launched a new production banner named Spitball and has signed a three-picture, first-look deal with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions.
► Paradigm signs hot horror director Nico van den Brink. The agency nabs the Dutch up-and-comer behind the festival-favorite horror short Sweet Tooth. The signing represents something of a trend: Paradigm is also in business with fellow horror helmers James Wan (The Conjuring) and David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation).
Roy Price, vp Amazon Studios and global head of Prime Video content, has been suspended from the retail giant and streaming platform following a harassment claim from one of the company's producers, Kim Masters and Lesley Goldberg report:
"Roy Price is on leave of absence effective immediately," an Amazon spokesperson said Thursday in a statement, adding, "We are reviewing our options for the projects we have with The Weinstein Co.”
In Price's absence, chief operating officer Albert Cheng will step in. Cheng joined Amazon in June 2015, coming from Disney/ABC. During his time at the latter, he led the company's efforts to bring programming to digital platforms.
The move to suspend Price comes mere hours after Isa Hackett, a producer on Amazon's The Man in the High Castle and Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams, detailed in an interview her "shocking and surreal" experience with the programming chief in July 2015. "You will love my dick," Price said, according to Hackett, who relayed her account to others.
Elsewhere in TV...
► TV stocks tumble after AT&T cord-cutting disclosure.The research firm eMarketer says that by the end of last year 16.7 million U.S. adults had already cut the cord and that by the end of this year it will be 22 million
► Disney-ABC Begins to Lay Off TV Employees. The company began handing out pink slips on Thursday, part of a restructuring as the conglomerate delves deeper into on-demand digital distribution. Sources say Disney is aiming to reduce costs by 10 percent.
► CBS gives full season order to SEAL Team. The show has made a strong impression on Wednesday nights, averaging 12M viewers and a 2.0 rating among adults 18-49 during its first two episodes.
► CW's Riverdale ratings surge for season 2 premiere. The drama's numbers spiked 60 percent for Wednesday night's return. Signs point to the show benefiting from a Netflix bump: The first season was said to have done very well on the streaming service.
► NBC to reboot Blue Crush. The drama, which is in development, is being written by Hannah Schneider, who will exec produce alongside Imagine's Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo. Jillian Kugler will oversee for Imagine.
^Netflix's Mindhunter, reviewed. The first two episodes of the FBI profiler drama are a prime showcase for director David Fincher. The takeaway: "A killer beginning."
► CW to reboot Roswell. The network has teamed with The Originals producer Carina MacKenzie for a spinoff of the Jason Katims drama. The premise of the new series skews topical and will deal with issues of immigration and "the politics of fear."
► Netflix to ramp up production in India. The streamer plans to add to its slate of Indian originals following its recent announcements of three projects. In Mumbai, Netflix exec Erik Barmack said the company was targeting "at least five to six Indian originals a year."
► ABC teams with Ellen Pompeo for legal drama. She will exec-produce the project, titled Big Law, along with David Marshall Grant (Looking, Code Black), who will pen the script. The series is described as a modern look at a large LA law firm.
► Tony Awards to air on CBS through 2026. The 2018 awards will take place June 10 at Radio City Music Hall. Additionally, the awards eligibility cutoff date for all Broadway productions opening in the 2017-2018 season has been set for April 26. Details.
If you don’t know the newly minted Emmy winner’s name yet, you almost certainly know her face. Over nearly three decades, the actress now best known for her turn on Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale was the quintessential working actress, Chris Eggertsen writes. Yet stardom remained elusive, until now.
What else we're reading...
— "Eli Broad, patron of Los Angeles, to step down from his philanthropy." Adam Popescu and Adam Nagourney write: "His vast fortune has shaped the city, from its arts and medical worlds to its reinvigorated downtown." [The New York Times]
— "It’s a capricious old game, the world of being an actor." Charles Bramesco speaks with Pierce Brosnan about "Bond, Trump and the difference between good and great acting." [The Guardian]
— "Rock and roll to break your writer's block to." Spencer Kornhaber writes: "Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett's Lotta Sea Lice charmingly riffs on the question of where inspiration comes from."
— "The language of horror." Jen Yamato looks at the titles that are "injecting thoroughly modern perspectives and rebellious creative vision back into a sprawling genre that’s seen it all over the decades." [The Los Angeles Times]
What else we're seeing...
+ "Bill Murray ambushes the Ed Sullivan Theater with t-shirts." [Late Show]
+ "Miles Teller gave fiancée proposal worthy of The Bachelor." [Tonight Show]
+ "Gerard Butler Almost Overdosed on Bee Venom." [Late Night]
+ "Kate Hudson is obsessed with pumpkin spice." [Jimmy Kimmel Live]
Hello! How's the newsletter now? We'd love your feedback. Let us know what you like, what you don't like, your favorite parts, things you could do without — whatever's on your mind, we want to hear it. If you've got an idea, that's great too. And tips are always welcome. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you've got something under 140 characters, tweet me. — Ray Rahman.
Today's birthdays: Sacha Baron Cohen, 46, Billy Bush, 46, Kate Walsh, 50, Chris Carter, 61, Sammy Hagar, 70, Paul Simon, 76.