What Matters in Hollywood Today

6:59 AM 10/19/2017

by THR Staff

Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

What's news: This weekend's box office is looking truly frightful, as the disaster thriller Geostorm threatens to tank in favor of seasonal-themed fare like Tyler Perry's Boo 2. Plus: Harassment claims at Nickelodeon, even more Harvey revelations, Ireland's show-business boom, and Keith Olbermann's thoughts on everything. — Ray Rahman

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  • Is 'Geostorm' a Disaster?

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

    After witnessing a recent string of natural disasters in real life, will theatergoers across the country be interested in watching a whole movie about more of them? That's one question facing Geostorm, the $120 million disaster film debuting among a crowded field this weekend. The film's outlook is trending downward, Pamela McClintock forecasts: 

    Tyler Perry's comedy-horror sequel Boo 2! A Madea Halloween is tipped to win a crowded race at the box office weekend with a $20 million-plus debut. The comedy should have no trouble scaring off the competition, including Warner Bros.' big-budget Geostorm

    Marking Independence Day producer Dean Devlin's feature directorial debut, Geostorm is tracking to open in the $10 million-$12 million range, a dismal start for a film that cost at least $120 million to produce. In fact, Geostorm, which isn't being screened in advance for critics, may also have a hard time beating horror holdover Happy Death Day

    Universal and Working Title's thriller The Snowman, starring Michael Fassbender and based on the Jo Nesbo bestseller, also has a chance of matching Geostorm. And one wild card at the box office this weekend is the Mike Pence-approved Only the Brave — tracking suggests the movie will open in the $7 million range, but there's room for upside. Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    The Harvey Weinstein story adds new chapters daily, and the past 24 hours have been no exception. Among the latest updates: The actress Marisa Coughlan says the producer "wanted to barter sex for movie roles"; Channing Tatum has halted development of film he was directing and producing for The Weinstein Co.; and due to state laws, Weinstein's alleged conduct at Sundance could open him up to a rape prosecution in Utah. Plus: Harvard rescinded a medal it awarded to Weinstein in 2014.

    Morgan Freeman to play Colin Powell in biopic. The actor is taking on the role of the former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Powell, a biopic slated to be directed by Reginald Hudlin, who is coming off the Thurgood Marshall biopic Marshall. The script was on the 2011 Black List and and is set during Powell’s tenure as Secretary of State in the George W. Bush White House. 

    Croods 2 lands a director. Joel Crawford, who most recently served as head of story on Trolls, will make his feature directorial debut on DreamWorks Animation's The Croods 2, set for release on Sept. 18, 2020. Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds lead the returning voice cast, as the Croods face their biggest threat since leaving the cave: another family.

    ► LA Film Festival moves to awards season. In a bid to join the fall awards-season conversation and raise its profile, the 23-year-old annual festival will move to late September for its 2018 edition. The LA Film Fest had traditionally been held in June, but next year it will run Sept. 20-28, which puts it in between the Toronto International Film Festival and and the New York Film Festival.

    ^Star Wars is luring Hollywood to shoot in Ireland. Come December, millions of Americans will get to marvel at the biggest film to ever land on the Emerald Isle: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, whose trailer opens with Daisy Ridley undertaking her Jedi training on the spectacularly craggy island of the nation's coast. Now thanks to Ireland's recently upped tax credits — and, of course, the convenient proximity to London — the whole industry has been taking full advantage. Full story.

    + With one Dublin firm already known for its special-effects work on Game of Thrones, the growing strength of Ireland's VFX community is also becoming a huge draw for Hollywood productions.

    Johnny Depp sues longtime entertainment lawyer for malpractice, wants $30 million in fees returned. The actor says his longtime talent lawyer Jake Bloom was collecting contingent fees without a proper contract, and he's asking the court to order he be repaid more than $30 million. Depp claims Bloom and his firm "violated some of the most basic tenets of the attorney-client relationship."

    The actor has recently cleared his slate of longtime reps, ending relationships with Bloom, agent Tracey Jacobs and, of course, ex-business managers Joel and Robert Mandel of The Management Group, who he's also suing.

    Ticket prices are down. But only slightly: The average movie ticket hit $8.93 in the third quarter. That's less than Q2's $8.95, which marked an all-time high. THR has yet to confirm how moviegoers will spend their newfound two cents.

    + Still, average ticket prices are higher for the overall year so far;  2017's total average is currently $8.90, compared to last year's record $8.65.

    [icon:rambling] Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler on Meyerowitz Stories family history. "We started talking about the situations we were going through in our lives and parents were getting older and having parents and that tug of war you have when you have kids but your parents are still alive," Stiller said at the movie’s New York premiere. Full story.

  • Olbermann Grades Cable News

    Chris Sorensen for The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Wherever there are opinions being had — whatever the topic — there is also Keith Olbermann. On the heels of a new book, the veteran broadcaster (and former ESPN and MSNBC anchor) let loose on topics like Donald Trump, cable news, and Jemele Hill in an interview with Marisa Guthrie:

    ON CABLE NEWS: “Turning on CNN and MSNBC is of no value to me. Number one, I know all the tricks. Number two, I know all the conflicts. Number three, I know all the self-interest. The structures of cable news and other networks are still: ‘How do we leverage this? How do we position ourselves correctly?’ Rather than: ‘The country is on fire — what do we do?’” 

    ON MEGYN KELLY’s SHOW STRUGGLES: “In the sense of trying to reposition yourself, she gets a round of applause. But not every talent fits every format. But now, of course, everything that doesn't work in television is because of politics.”

    ON JEMELE HILL: “My political sensibilities are totally in line with hers. As somebody who has been suspended from ESPN for tweeting, I would say, ‘If you'd like to stay sane and you'd like to be able to make your points and you'd like to be able to present your conscience in public, my best advice is to reconfigure your Twitter app so that you can't read the replies or tweets sent at you.’” Full Q&A.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Nickelodeon suspends Chris Savino over sexual harassment claims. Not even the kid-friendly network can escape allegations of sexual misconduct: The creator of the hit show The Loud House was suspended by Nickelodeon after multiple women came forward with harassment claims against the animator. Up to a dozen women have accused Savino of sexual harassment, unwanted advances, inappropriate behavior as well as threats of blacklisting female colleagues who were no longer in consensual relationships with him.

    + Anna Walker Farrell, a director on Netflix animated series Bojack Horseman, tweeted her support for Savino's suspension. And in a series of subsequent tweets, Farrell revealed that Savino had sexually harassed her 15 years previously. Farrell hashtagged her tweets with "me too," the viral social media campaign that has seen thousands of women and men come forward with their stories of abuse and assault.

    Verizon loses 18,000 subscribers in third quarter. The company reported that its FiOS video service lost 18,000 net pay TV subscribers in the third quarter, compared with the addition of 36,000 subscribers in the year-ago period and a 15,000 subscriber drop in the second quarter, leaving FiOS with a total 4.6 million subscribers. Verizon said the drop in the latest quarter was "reflecting the ongoing shift from traditional linear video to over-the-top offerings."

    ► Chris Brown’s name cut from 30 Rock episode. On Oct. 1, the full series moved to Hulu from Netflix — minus Chris Brown, whose name has been edited out of season three, episode 13, titled "Goodbye, My Friend." In the original cut, Tina Fey's Liz Lemon heads meets a pregnant counter clerk who complains to Liz that some of the people she's met while considering the adoption process "don't even know who Chris Brown is."

    To prove she's hip and in-the-know, Liz sings a bit of Brown's hit song "With You." However, THR noticed when the Emmy winning NBC comedy moved to Hulu, Becca no longer mentions Brown, and instead says "Ne-Yo" in an obviously re-edited cut. And when the camera cuts to Liz, only the muffled singing part of her retort is shown and it's no longer clear that she's meant to be singing "With You." Full story.

    Chelsea Handler’s Netflix show canceled after two seasons. The streaming giant's first talk show tried switching from daily to weekly in its second season and struggled to cut through the cluttered late-night space. Handler is expected to focus on activism, while Netflix will continue its relationship with Handler on an original documentary that highlights her perspective on the current political landscape.

    ^Conde Nast's Dawn Ostroff on turning magazine articles into movies — and new TV plans. The media company's entertainment president (and former CW chief) opens up about developing a GQ feature into Only the Brave, hitting theaters Friday, and the promise of digital video.

    + "What's happening is the longform and shortform are merging," she says. "A digital video used to be two minutes. Now, some of our videos are 20 or 30 minutes. It's really where a significant amount of the ad money is going to be shifting to. Google had a survey that came out [this spring] where millennials and Gen Z-ers are spending more than three and a half hours a day watching digital video. That's the new primetime." Full Q&A.

    Los Angeles production dips in third quarter. On-location filming in Los Angeles was down 3.5 percent compared to the same period last year. The drop is largely attributed to shifting TV trends, namely the rise of scripted programming over reality fare.

    + One interesting nugget: A decline in student filming over the summer. Hot take: Are the kids opting for Silicon Valley over Hollywood?

    E! finally retires Fashion Police. In a world that's become increasingly fatigued with aesthetic criticism and "Who are you wearing?," E! has decided to put the final nail in Fashion Police's coffin. A Nov. 27 finale special titled Fashion Police: The Farewell will pay tribute to the late Joan Rivers with previously unaired footage of the iconic comedian.

    + The venerable red-carpet panel, originally a vehicle for Rivers and her notoriously sharp sartorial hot takes, had struggled for relevance in the three years since Rivers' death.

    Jane Krakowski joins Fox's A Christmas Story live musical. The actress has signed on to play Ralphie's teacher Miss Shields. Also joining the production is Silicon Valley alum Chris Diamantopoulos, who will portray Ralphie's dad. 

    CBS renews Salvation for second season. The sci-fi series will return in summer 2018 for a 13-episode sophomore run. The network has shown a fondness for science-fiction summer programming over recent years — just ask anyone who somehow get sucked into watching Zoo.

    Get Out breakout Lil Rel Howery nabs Fox comedy. The comedian is set to headline a multicamera comedy executive-produced by his former co-star Jerrod Carmichael. The untitled pilot centers on a prideful, positive guy whose life changes when he learns his wife is having an affair with his own barber.

    + It’s another sign of how big a footprint the critical darling Get Out has left on the industry. The February-released horror-satire is vying for a Best Picture Oscar nomination despite the category’s usual aversion to genre fare. 

  • Send Out the Clowns?

    Courtesy Photo

    Is there room for late-night hosts and big-name comics to not be politically sharp in the era of Trump and Weinstein? Daniel Fienberg writes: 

    The division between wartime and peacetime late-night consiglieri is drawn every single time a major news story breaks, whether it's Trump-related or not.

    When the Harvey Weinstein revelations that have engulfed Hollywood broke two weeks ago, all eyes went to late night and everybody played exactly into the roles they've assigned themselves over the past year. SNL dropped the ball the first week and then came out swinging the following week as if we wouldn't remember the previous dereliction of duty.

    Kimmel came out challenging and solid. Seth Meyers came out with depth and showcased the diversity of his writing staff. With more days to think about it, Samantha Bee, John Oliver and new-kid-on-the-block Jim Jefferies came out angry and thorough. Fallon made a toothless Fox News joke buried in the middle of a bland monologue. We know who the wartime consiglieri are, and we know who the peacetime consiglieri are. Read more.

    What else we're reading...

    — What the hell is Mel Gibson doing in the family comedy Daddy's Home 2? Ira Madison III writes: "The incredibly racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic actor, who was convicted of battering his ex, parodies himself in Paramount's upcoming comedy movie." [The Daily Beast]

    — How many people watch Netflix? Nielsen tries to solve a mystery. John Koblin writes: “Much to the frustration of those in the industry who would like to have a firm idea of just how popular those shows are, the streaming services — Amazon and Hulu included — have been fiercely protective of their numbers. Now, Nielsen, the 94-year-old company that for decades has had an effective monopoly on measuring television ratings in the United States, has announced that it has found a way into the great unknown of Netflix viewership." [The New York Times]  

    Dirty John is a stunning story, but why is it a podcast? Nicholas Quah writes: "The Dirty John story, as reported by Los Angeles Times reporter Christopher Goffard in a six-part written feature, is a stunner. If you were to give up on the podcast midway through its first episode and switch over to the feature, you’d find a deep, complex tale of domestic abuse and psychological violence that’s rigorously reported, deftly written." [Vulture]

    Harvey Weinstein is done. But what about Lisa Bloom? Amy Kaufman writes: “She wanted to apologize. She told her colleagues she'd made a "colossal mistake" in deciding to represent the Hollywood producer against numerous claims of sexual harassment. That she was sorry for associating the firm with a case that ended up being such a nightmare.​ That she should have known better.” [The Los Angeles Times

    — Weinstein and Vogue, a special relationship. Amy Larocca writes: "A mutually beneficial relationship developed quickly between Weinstein and Vogue. The content all worked together nicely, and an actress with cultural cache was a win for the magazine, the promotion for the film was a win for Weinstein, and the advertisers got a convenient proof of concept for how bankable a particular celebrity could be for them." [The Cut]

    — Megyn Kelly: Now we need men as allies. The NBC host writes: “When the Roger Ailes sexual-harassment scandal broke in July 2016 and he was forced out of Fox News in disgrace, I thought we might be at the beginning of a sea change. When Silicon Valley began erupting with similar stories this past spring, I thought, Yes, here we go. Now that we are in the midst of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, many are proclaiming, 'This is it. It ends now.' My take? Maybe. But we have a lot of work to do.” [Time]  

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Howard Stern on Harvey Weinstein." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "How to solve the Harvey Weinstein problem." [The Daily Show]

    + "The enemy is Amazon." [The Opposition

    Rebecca Ferguson, 34, Gillian Jacobs, 35, Jason Reitman, 40, Chris Kattan, 47, Trey Parker, 48, Jon Favreau, 51, John Lithgow, 72, Michael Gambon, 77.