What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:28 AM 10/18/2017

by THR Staff

Photographed By Allison Michael Orenstein

What's news: The inside story of Roy Price's fall from Amazon Studios, and the kind of tone he set at the division during his tenure. Plus: Industry voices speak out on Harvey Weinstein, Facebook evolves its TV strategy, and Bill Murray (gently) rocks Carnegie Hall. — Ray Rahman

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  • The New Issue

    On the cover: The industry's biggest pariah, Harvey Weinstein.  After a dizzying two weeks of exposés and revelations about the powerful producer's decades of alleged sexual misconduct, THR stepped back and took a long look at what it all means for the man, for the women, and for the industry.

    + During her four decades of working in Hollywood, television producer and Clinton confidant Linda Bloodworth Thomason has seen everything — for better or for worse. She details the industry's imbalance of power:

    Deep-rooted gender inequality exists everywhere. There are very few women in positions of real power. Females continue to earn far less than their male counterparts. And as for ageism, most actresses are resigned to the idea that when someone like Michael Douglas finally retires, there's a good chance Blythe Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow and Apple Martin will all have played his wife. The oversexualization, humiliation and brutalization of women on television and in movies remains rampant.

    The most memorable male-on-male rape occurred in Deliverance more than 40 years ago. Since that single encounter, literally hundreds of thousands of women have been raped and brutalized on film, almost without remark. One might say it's our industry's greatest sport.

    Just as degrading is Hollywood's endless obsession with hookers. If you are among the lucky 15 percent of actresses who do periodically find employment, chances are you'll be stepping into the world's oldest profession. In 89 years of Academy Awards, 25 women have been nominated for playing a prostitute. The only silver lining in all this is that no actress will ever have to worry about playing an old prostitute. Full column.

    + The types of horror found in Weinstein stories are nothing new in show business. In fact, they are as old as the business itself, dating back to when the town was run by the likes of Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner. Those men and their often unsavory behavior served as influences on Harvey, writes Hollywood historian Neal Gabler:

    Harvey Weinstein, the decades-long sexual predator who deservedly has been banished from Hollywood and sent into exile, was clearly a man in the grip of some deep, dark, ominous force. Others have identified that force variously as the antediluvian male prerogative to subjugate women, the hunger for power, the thrill of intimidation, sex addiction. But I suspect he had another demon inside him, one with a long Hollywood pedigree: Harvey Weinstein fancied himself an old-style, hard-charging movie mogul, a Louis B. Mayer, a Jack Warner, a Darryl Zanuck, a Harry Cohn, and fought hard to cultivate that image with all the ugliness it entailed.

    He succeeded. He was the last old mogul. It became his undoing.

    Like Weinstein, the titans who founded the studios and ran them for 30 years were not known for self-control, politesse or consideration. They are usually seen as vulgarians, men without taste or temperance, shouters who ruled by fear, heathens who demanded women trade their sexual favors for the moguls' professional ones. Zanuck ordered female contract players to his office for afternoon liaisons. Mayer pursued starlets and was accused by one of Judy Garland's biographers of having groped her. Warner was a compulsive womanizer who would ask of directors about prospective actresses: "Would you fuck her?" For the moguls, living outside behavioral norms was a powerful device — a way of imposing one's will on others and of establishing dominance in a competitive and chaotic industry. Full column.

    + In addition to his dominance in L.A. and New York, Harvey was also the king of Cannes, as the annual festival city's permanent residents can attest. Dana Kennedy details his dominance over the town:

    Weinstein spent much of his time just outside of Cannes at the Hotel du Cap, the luxury resort on the Cote d'Azur. It was there, according to Italian actress Asia Argento's revelation to The New Yorker, that Harvey lured her to his hotel room and sexually assaulted and raped her.

    The bartender at the du Cap's bellini bar, who has worked at the hotel for more than 20 years, has no trouble believing the horror story. "[With Harvey] it's everything you have read, and worse," he tells THR. "He was always in here with one or two young girls, very loud, but we are always polite because he is a guest." The bartender says he doesn't know what went on in the rooms, but he knows Weinstein's behavior has brought his resort into disrepute. "Unfortunately, now he is the most famous person to have stayed here," he says. Full story.

    + While stories of harassment pour out from industry talents in the spotlight, what about those behind it? Hollywood's female crew members suffer harassment without the platform of stardom, Carolyn Giardina reports:

    Of the more than two dozen crafts women surveyed by THR, virtually all reported verbal and/or sexual harassment in the workplace. More than half said they have been harassed by a director. Nearly half said they were harassed by an actor. And most also described widespread harassment by department heads and/or fellow crewmembers. But almost all of them declined to be named, since, several said, the system doesn't support that.

    To protect themselves, multiple women confessed that they attempt to cover up and look unattractive on set. "A lot of women try to be androgynous. No makeup, jeans, a baseball cap," admits one. Why do incidents go unreported? Says one woman who experienced harassment, "I was told, 'Don't report it. It will ruin your career.' Any male producer will think, 'She is a liability and we can't hire her.' It's the reason no one below the line is coming forward." Full story.

    + How the Harvey scandal might change the fabric of Hollywood. A+E chief Nancy Dubuc hopes that the wave of sexual abuse allegations might prompt the industry to evolve. I've asked people anecdotally who's the most senior woman at The Weinstein Co., and they couldn't answer me," Ducuc writes. "Boardrooms need to reflect the fabric of our society, and yet there was no woman on the Weinstein Co. board. We constantly should be looking at who's at the table."

    + Weinstein biographer: Don't rule out a comeback. As improbable as it sounds, is there a chance that Harvey could one day return to power? Hollywood does love a comback story.  "Harvey's very competitive," Peter Biskind tells Lacey Rose. "There's always somebody willing to make a pact with the devil. And if Harvey has enough money or can round up enough money to launch a play or something, I guess it could happen. Hollywood is a town of second acts." Q&A.

    Meanwhile, the scandal rages on — and expands.

    + HARVEY STEPS DOWN During Tuesday's meeting of the Weinstein Co. board members, the disgraced mogul — who still owns 23 percent of TWC — called into the session and resigned from the board

    + DIRECTOR SPEAKS OUT Michael Caton-Jones was dropped from the 1998 film B. Monkey not for creative differences, he said, but because Harvey Weinstein thought the woman he cast for the starring role wasn't "fuckable," BuzzFeed reports. Caton-Jones stood his ground and told Weinstein that the actress, Sophie Okonedo, was the best person for the job; Weinstein vehemently disagreed and replaced her with Asia Argento — one of the women who have accused Weinstein of rape. 

    + LENA HEADEY TALKS The Game of Thrones star spoke out about an alleged incident with Weinstein in a series of tweets that described a disturbing encounter with the man. "Let's go up to the room," she says he told her during a breakfast meeting. "I want to give you a script." From there, the energy shifted, and her "whole body went into high alert." 

    + BOB WEINSTEIN NEXT? Yesterday, Bob Weinstein, who had emphatically claimed not have known about his brother and business partner's decades of alleged sexual misconduct, got caught in his own sexual harassment controversy when The Mist showrunner Amanda Segel alleged that he acted inappropriately toward her during the production of the show. Weinstein has refuted the allegations.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ► The Star Wars Han Solo film gets a title. Ron Howard revealed that the young Han Solo spinoff is now called Solo: A Star Wars Story. A relatively safe title from a relatively safe director, who took over the movie after riskier filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller were let go due to creative differences. Solo is slated for a May 2018 release.

    ► Hillary Swank boards sci-fi thriller I Am Mother. The Oscar-winning actress has signed on to star in the Australian film from first-time director Grant Sputore. The plot description is a doozy: The film portrays a teenage girl raised underground by a robot mother designed to repopulate the earth following an extinction event.

     Roman Polanski returns to Poland to shoot documentary about his childhood. It marks the first time the controversial director has been to the country since a Polish court rejected a U.S. extradition request last year. It's an interesting time for him to be in the news again, given that the Academy's recent expulsion of Harvey Weinstein has led many to wonder if the same shouldn't happen to Polanski. 

    ► Hollywood takes on NRA. Julianne Moore, Melissa McCarthy and Emma Stone are among the long list of stars who've teamed up for a campaign urging Americans to reach out to Congress in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.

  • Inside Roy Price's Amazon

    Roy Price is now out at Amazon Studios, and here's the story of what went on at the division during his time as chief. Kim Masters and Lesley Goldberg report on the executive's fall and what's next for the company:

    + WHAT THE COMPANY KNEW Amazon had been aware of allegations involving Price since at least since July 2015. That’s when producer Isa Hackett first reported to Amazon his alleged harassment of her at Comic-Con in San Diego.

    Amazon brought in investigator Christine Farrell then and again in this past spring. Amazon’s HR department also questioned executives about what they may have seen and heard. But what, if any, action was taken remained a mystery to company insiders, as is common in internal employee investigations.

    + COMPANY CULTURE Further details of Price at Amazon are becoming known. At work-associated gatherings, Price had a penchant for crude talk, insiders say. In August 2015, weeks after his encounter with Hackett, Price joined a group of female executives for drinks at Soho House in New York following a table read for Good Girls Revolt. One of the women present says the evening became “awkward and uncoforfortable” when Price began to steer the conversation to the sexual history and drug use of those gathered.

    There are questions as to whether the female-oriented programming suffered as well. Under Price, Amazon has had few female-fronted shows, and the studio attracted negative attention in the wake of its December 2016 cancellation of the well-reviewed Good Girls Revolt. Series creator Dana Calvo took the rare step of publicly castigating Price for never learning the characters’ names.

    + BIG LITTLE MISS When all the other prestige networks were falling over themselves to sign the eventually Emmy-winning Reese Witherspoon-Nicole Kidman drama Big Little Lies, Price punted, only allowing Amazon to offer a development deal while everyone else was offering straight-to-series orders.

    Company insiders say at a staff holiday party at the Lucky Strike bowling alley in Hollywood, Price asked a group of staffers if the two stars would “show their tits” and mused aloud why he would greenlight the show if they didn’t. (In fact, Kidman did multiple nude scenes.) Big Little Lies went to win 8 Emmys for HBO — four times more than Amazon’s overall haul.

    + A NEW LEADER The hunt is on for a new — and, according to sources, preferably female — content head. Amazon approached Paramount Television president Amy Powell over the summer but Powell, sources say, is no longer a contender. Other potential candidates include Amazon’s head of event series Sharon Tal Yguado, who helped turn The Walking Dead into a global phenomenon when she was at Fox International. Full story.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Riverdale quadruples teen viewers after Netflix run. The CW's teen noir managed a feat no other returning series has accomplished this season: Live ratings for its Oct. 11 sophomore premiere grew an unprecedented 60 percent from its launch nine months earlier. It's the first ironclad evidence of a linear windfall that broadcasters have hoped for since studios started making deals to put current series on streamers for the off-season.

    Freeform expanding originals to four nights a week. Beginning in January, the Disney-owned network will shift from two nights of originals to four in a bid to use its extensive film library (Harry Potter, Twilight) to better launch scripted programming. The push will entail doubling its number of pilot orders and adding 10 to 20 more hours of current originals than the network aired in 2017.

    + The goal is to have first-run originals from January through September, with Halloween and Christmas programming blocks airing in the final quarter. "We see it as an opportunity to be competitive," Freeform exec Karey Burke says. "No other scripted cable channel has original programming at 8 p.m., and that is this network's strongest time period."

    + Also: The network has given its upcoming series Alone Together an early 10-episode season two renewal. It's quite a vote of confidence: The comedy, produced by Lonely Island trio Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, and Akiva Schaffer, doesn't premiere until Jan. 10. 

    Facebook's TV strategy takes shape. The social media giant handed out second seasons to unscripted shows Returning the Favor and Ball in the Family, as well as scripted comedy Strangers. The platform will also revive MTV's Loosely Exactly Nicole for a 10-episode second season. 

    + On top of that, Facebook issued a 10-episode order of the Kerry Washington-produced drama Five Points. Set at a South Chicago high school, the series goes into production this week.

    + Additionally, the company also inked a deal to acquire the Norwegian drama Skam (Shame)one of the country's most talked-about shows — and adapt it for the social media platform.

    ^This Is Us star breaks down last night's shocking reveal: "It's uncharted territory." Chrissy Metz tells THR all about the very This Is Us-ian twist in this week's episode.

    Comedy Central greenlights two new shows. The network has given full seasons to scripted series The Other Ones, from former SNL head writers Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider, and South Side, from brothers Bashir and Sultan Salahuddin (Glow).

    UnReal releases season 3 trailer, sets premiere date. The Lifetime drama returns Feb. 26, and to whet appetites, the network released a trailer that previews the season's big change: The focus on a bachelorette rather than a bachelor.

    Comedy writer Janis Hirsch describes how sexual harassment drove her from a job at It's Garry Shandling's Show. In a guest column for THR, Hirsch outlines a lurid workplace environment that involved exclusion, male exposure, and complicity from the top.

  • Bill Murray, Classical Music Star

    Courtesy of Jennifer Taylor

    Bill Murray has an impressive CV as it is. But this week at Carnegie Hall, he added "classical music star" to his list of accomplishments, writes Frank Scheck. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — What Martin Scorsese gets right about Rotten Tomatoes. David Sims responds to the director's THR column: "There's a much deeper problem facing films like Professor Marston and mother! — the sheer amount of competition they have to overcome to get noticed, and the fact that Hollywood no longer seems very interested in marketing itself to adults." [The Atlantic]

    — Beck's cool-dad phase has only just begun. Rob Harvilla writes: "He's rapping again, and it's weirder now when he raps, but in a weirdly comforting way." [The Ringer]

    — Andrew Garfield just wants to be understood. Kyle Buchanan writes: "In truth, Garfield has plenty to say, and he's never shy about expressing himself, even if those words can land him in hot water. [Vulture]

    Kerry Washington opens up about crushing impossible beauty standards. Judith Newman writes: "With Olivia Pope, the Washington fixer in a political thriller that seemed over-the-top until real life became even stranger, Kerry Washington and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes have changed the cultural landscape. [Allure]

    All the other Harvey Weinsteins. Molly Ringwald writes: "We all seem to have a Harvey story, each one a little different but with essentially the same nauseating pattern and theme. [The New Yorker]

    What else we're seeing...

    + David Letterman talks to Jimmy Kimmel about his new show. [Jimmy Kimmel Live!

    + Trump and McConnell's BFF presser. [Daily Show]

    Today's birthdays: Tyler Posey, 26, Zach Efron, 30, Freida Pinto, 33, Nic Pizzolatto, 42, Bob Weinstein, 63, Chuck Lorre, 65.

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