What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:10 AM 10/17/2017

by THR Staff

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What's news: How does Hollywood stop the next Harvey Weinstein? The industry is coming up with solutions. Meanwhile, The Weinstein Co. board meets to discuss a potential sale. Plus: Netflix reveals blockbuster numbers, Snap sets content deal with NBCU, Wyatt Cenac goes to HBO, and potential headaches hit Fox News. — Ray Rahman

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  • Hollywood Fights Back

    George Pimentel/Getty Images for Sundance Film Festival

    The Harvey Weinstein story has transcended Hollywood as women and men everywhere, across industries, find themselves grappling with the specter of sexual harassment and assault in their own lives. People are speaking out, yes, but also drawing up concrete, actionable steps to foster change, and to stop the next Harvey.

    And yet Hollywood is still busy dealing with this Harvey. More groups sever ties with disgraced mogul, a new accuser comes forward, and his company may be sold off for good. 

    Welcome to The Tom Barrack Company? The remaining Weinstein Co. board members are said to be meeting at 9 a.m. PT today to vote on whether to accept a financing proposal from Colony Capital, a private equity firm run by Trump ally Tom Barrack. 

    Pamela McClintock and Paul Bond email: A "yes" vote would open the door for Barrack to buy TWC outright, or at least salvage the increasingly toxic brand for parts. It would be a stunning conclusion for the once-mighty studio, which has been in free fall amid the Harvey Weinstein scandal.

    + Colony has a knack for distressed assets — it previously flipped the Weinsteins' old Miramax for a profit, in fact — but Barrack would still have his work cut out for him. 

    + TWC's stature has been reduced to rubble in recent days as business and creative partners have fled. Sources say Barrack intends to rebrand the company under a new name. Could co-founder Bob Weinstein exit? 

    + But first, more drama: There's speculation that Harvey might call into the meeting to challenge his firing. Given his sizable stake in the business, it could get heated.

    ANOTHER EXIT The Producers Guild of America voted to expel Weinstein from its ranks, just as the Academy did over the weekend. A mere four years ago, the group presented Harvey and Bob with the Milestone Award, the guild's highest honor. 

    NEW ALLEGATION Actress Lauren Holly came forward to reveal a late '90s incident with Weinstein in which the producer disrobed and approached her in a hotel room. 

    BIGGER THAN HARVEY Weinstein's alleged crimes may have sparked the initial national outrage, but the conversation has taken on a life of its own. It's starting to look like a movement.

    + Alyssa Milano's #MeToo hashtag, launched late Sunday, inspired more than 500,000 tweets (including many from celebrities) in its first 24 hours. 

    + In addition to unanimously voting against Weinstein, the PGA created an "Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force." Along those lines, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy proposed the formation of a commission and a urged "zero tolerance policies for abusive behavior." 

    + In a column for THR, Gavin Polone seeks to punish the whole system: “If we really want to end this widespread abuse, we cannot be satisfied with just vilifying the direct perpetrator. His accomplices must be exposed.”   

    + Gloria Steinem tells the New York Times, “When dealing with deep bias like racism and sexism, it usually takes more than one injustice — or even a few. The Weinstein scandal would probably have been taken less seriously if Cosby, Ailes and others hadn’t come first and been within easy memory.”

    + The NY Times story also mentions that "one list circulating among ranking female executives in the industry has tracked a string of promotions of men to senior jobs — at Apple and AMC, Sony and Hulu, Fox and CBS — amid fear that progress for women has stalled since November."

    + Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff writes: "This entire culture is complicit. If we make this about Harvey, we've already lost."

    Elsewhere in film...

    Jack Gao exits China's Wanda, Legendary Entertainment. The executive steps away from the Chinese conglomerate, including his post as interim CEO of Legendary Entertainment. The studio has been without a long-term CEO since founder Thomas Tull departed in January.

    Cher signs on to Mamma Mia! sequel. The Oscar-winning singer-actor will appear alongside Meryl Streep and Colin Firth in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, marking her first big-screen role since 2010's Burlesque.  

    Nicolas Winding Refn launches free cultural content platform. Dubbed byNWR, the venture promises rare and restored feature-length films, essays, music, and other curated artistic offerings. The site — which the Drive and Neon Demon director says will "create a modern idea of what cinema will become" — officially launches in February. 

    ► Angelina Jolie gives voice to The One and Only Ivan. Already a producer on the project, Jolie will also voice star as Stella the elephant in the adaptation of the Newbery Medal-winning illustrated children's novel. The live-action hybrid film counts Thea Sharrock (Me Before You) as director and Mike White (Brad's StatusEnlightened) as writer. 

    ^Conor McGregor doc Notorious gets U.S. release. Conor McGregor: Notorious is being released theatrically by Trafalgar Releasing across the U.S. for one night on Nov. 8, being presented alongside an exclusive interview with McGregor himself, captured live at the film's world premiere in his hometown of Dublin.

    Jordan Peele, Channing Dungey to receive AAFCA kudos. The African American Film Critics Association named Get Out writer-director Peele and ABC Entertainment President Dungey among the recipients of its special achievement honors. The pair will be feted at a luncheon in February.

    Hot Topic launches Justice League collection. In anticipation of the film's impending release, the alt retailer will carry a line of jackets displaying designs from Wonder Woman, Batman, and other DC heroes. See a preview.

    ► WME and IMG finance and sales groups to combine as Endeavor Content. The new division, which follows last week's general WME-IMG rebranding, will be led by co-presidents Graham Taylor and Chris Rice. Together, the two groups financed, packaged, or sold over 100 titles, including Arrival, La La Land, Fences, and more. 


  • Boom Times at Netflix

    Saeed Adyani/Netflix

    Earlier this month, Netflix raised the price of its most popular subscription plan by $1. Thanks to the company's third-quarter earnings call yesterday, we now know where those dollars are heading.

    8 Billion Reasons Why The streaming company inspired double takes when it announced that it will spend up to a stunning $8 billion on original content next year, an increase from this year's planned $6 billion programming budget. 

    + The ultimate goal, executives maintained, is to have 50 percent of its library made up of original TV and film content by the end of next year. 

    + Although CEO Reed Hastings did acknowledge that outside studios can help shift the balance as well by withholding content for their own closed ecosystems, as Disney recently did. "While we have multiyear deals in place preventing any sudden reduction in content licensing, the long-term trends are clear," the CEO said. "Our future largely lies in exclusive original content."

    + And how: The company plans to release 30 new anime series and 80 — 80 — new original films in 2018, Ted Sarandos said. That's more movies than there are total House of Cards episodes.  

    + Luckily for Netflix, the eyeballs (and the correlating pocketbooks) are there as well. The service added 5.3 million total new members in the third quarter, besting expectations. That brings the overall number of customers to 104.2 million.

    + Meanwhile, revenue for the third quarter reached $2.99 billion, up 30 percent from the same period last year. The question is: How much longer can the company sink massive amounts of money into building up its library before it needs its customer base to offset the costs? Perhaps we'll find out in 2019. Full story.

    + In other Netflix news, Riz Ahmed is in talks to play Hamlet in a Netflix movie adaptation of the play. Set in modern-day London, the update will be penned by Mike Leslie, who wrote 2015's Macbeth starring Michael Fassbender. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ► NBCUniversal, Snap form original programming venture. Snapchat has turned to NBCU for help making its first big push into scripted programming. The new deal enlists Mark and Jay Duplass to make original shows for Snapchat.

    + Mark Duplass, for one, is excited by the challenge of creating content for younger audiences: "Their bullshit detectors are very, very sharp." Full story.

    Survivor's Remorse creator talks finale and cancellation. "It feels like a death," Mike O'Malley tells Daniel Fienberg in a wide-ranging interview about the beloved Starz dramedy's abrupt end. Q&A.

    NBC reboots Nancy Drew reboot. You read that correctly: The network is redeveloping the project after CBS passed on their version a year ago. And while the drama will have the same producing team as it did at CBS — husband-wife duo Tony Phelan and Joan Rater — NBC will be starting over with an entirely new logline and cast. 

    ^Wyatt Cenac to star in HBO comedic docuseries. The People of Earth star has been tapped for a 10-episode docuseries executive-produced by fellow Daily Show alum John Oliver. The untitled half-hour series is set to launch in the spring.

    + The show promises to take a satirical look at social and cultural issues, but rather than sit behind a desk, Cenac will venture out and about into the world to better understand the big issues of the moment. While The Daily Show helped popularize faux-news field pieces, a more sincere version of the format has become popular for comedians in the Trump era: Sarah Silverman's Hulu series I Love You, America features a similar premise, as has W. Kamau Bell's United Shades of America on CNN. Full story.

    Curb Your Enthusiasm boss would be happy to lose Steve Bannon as a viewer. Last week, the Breitbart leader revealed he was a big Larry David fan. Curb EP Jeff Schaffer isn't exactly thrilled about it.

  • Headaches for Fox News?

    Getty Images

    Tucker Carlson may have left the bow tie behind, but he's still an owner of the conservative publication The Daily Caller. Affiliations like that could cause problems down the road for the network's hosts, Jeremy Barr reports:

    When Laura Ingraham's 10 p.m. show debuts on Fox News on Oct. 30, she will be the second member of the network's primetime lineup to maintain connections to an outside digital news site.

    While she won't run the site on a daily basis anymore, Ingraham will remain editor of LifeZette, the conservative news publication she founded in 2015. Fox News' 8 p.m. host, Tucker Carlson, remains a passive co-owner of The Daily Caller, even though he gave up his role as editor in chief. But, even though both anchors have sought to distance themselves, they are still associated with the publications they founded. That lingering connection could cause headaches for their employer, Fox News, which wouldn't comment for this story but pointed to press releases clarifying their reduced roles.

    "There is always the potential for conflict or embarrassment, and the networks do pay a lot of attention to the potential pitfalls when they allow a talent to maintain their own side business," Jonathan Klein, the former U.S. head of CNN, told The Hollywood Reporter. But, he added, "The networks know what they're getting into when they hire these people." Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    How Instagram helped discover one of the year's breakout movie stars. Brian Raftery writes: "One day, while browsing Instagram, [Florida Project director Sean] Baker inadvertantly landed on the feed of Bria Vinaite, a New York-based clothing designer and pot lover." [Wired]

    — Patton Oswalt on his wife's tragic death. "You never truly heal, but you do evolve," the comedian tells Matt Zoller Seitz. [Vulture]

    She's in Pussy Riot. He's on the Far Right. How they fall in love. Lizzie Crocker writes: "Maria Alyokhina and Dmitry Enteo couldn’t seem more different: she a committed feminist activist, he the leader of a far right activist movement. She reveals how they got together." [The Daily Beast]

    The New York Times Style Magazine has seven beautifully shot cover stories out right now. Here are two of them:

    — Nicki Minaj, always in control. Roxanne Gay writes: "I am stunned by the number of people Minaj has at her service. I also meet her day-to-day manager and personal assistant — who are two different people — and her stylist. In the hall just outside the suite wait a tailor and a couple of other people eager for Minaj’s time. She is the center of gravity for a great many professionals, and she wears that responsibility well." [NYT]

    — The versatile and resilient Amy Adams. Manohla Dargis writes: "Role by powerful, unexpected role, the actress has convinced Hollywood — and herself — that she's never to be underestimated." [NYT]

    What else we're seeing... 

    + "James Alexander reacts to Seinfeld fan theories." [Late Late Show]

    + "Amy Schumer on Twitter trolls and weight gain." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Chicago: Syria, but with different pizza." [Daily Show]

    + "Internet pop quiz: P!nk." [Tonight Show]

    Today's birthdays: Felicity Jones, 34, Cameron Esposito, 36, Eminem, 45, Wyclef Jean, 48, Mark Gatiss, 51, Mike Judge, 55, Rob Marshall, 57, Norm Macdonald, 58, Lawrence Bender, 60, Margot Kidder, 69, George Wendt, 69.