What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:01 AM 10/20/2017

by Ray Rahman

Getty Images

What's news: Lupita Nyong'o speaks out about her own experience with Harvey Weinstein in a powerful new op-ed. Meanwhile, the LAPD has opened an investigation into the producer. Plus: Nickelodeon fires an animator, Jay Leno reminisces about his David Letterman rivalry, and the meaning of Bob Iger's potential political ambitions for Democrats. — Ray Rahman 

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  • Harvey, Lupita and the LAPD

    Photographed By Allison Michael Orenstein

    By now, the details sound so familiar — a meal, massages, indecency, threats — that we're almost sure we know what happened without having to read the whole story.

    But we should still read the whole story. Yesterday, Lupita N'yong'o came out with a powerful New York Times op-ed detailing her own harassment from Harvey Weinstein. It was yet another stunning, depressing turn in a saga that only grows every day. 

    LUPITA'S STORY In her NYT piece, Nyong'o describes her first encounter with Weinstein when she was a young student at Yale's drama school. After a lunch meeting, he took her to his home in Westport, CT, for a film screening — but instead, that's when the massage propositions began, not far from his kids, she says. "I thought he was joking at first," Nyong'o writes. "He was not. For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe." Full story.

    + Katya Mtsitouridze, Russian TV hostess and head of country's international film promotion body, also claims she was sexually harassed by Weinstein. 

    LAPD ENTERS ARENA The Los Angeles police has opened an investigation into Weinstein after an unnamed Italian model/actress accused Weinstein of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room in Los Angeles in 2013. She spoke with authorities in L.A. about the incident this week.

    "The LAPD Robbery Homicide division has interviewed a potential assault victim involving Harvey Weinstein in 2013," an LAPD spokesperson said. "The case is under investigation at this point." This comes after the NYPD and the London police have both opened investigations into Weinstein in recent weeks.

    WHAT TARANTINO KNEW Director Quentin Tarantino, whose work has long been associated with Weinstein, spoke out to the N.Y. Times, saying that he had heard several stories about the mogul's alleged behavior decades ago. "I knew enough to do more than I did," he says. "It wasn't secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things." He added, "I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard."

    TV ACADEMY WEIGHS IN After having been expelled from the Oscars, BAFTA, and most other corners of polite society, Weinstein seems to have been shunned by yet another group: The Television Academy has voted to begin proceedings that could leave to the producer's removal from the group. 

    + Similarly, the British Film Institute yesterday stripped him of a previous honor they'd bestowed upon him. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    Bob Iger for president? Disney's political cat and mouse game. The Disney CEO won't rule out a 2020 run, and has been weighing in on such topics as gun control and immigration. Jeremy Barr writes:

    Those who know and work with Iger in Hollywood say he is seriously considering a presidential bid, which would be perfectly timed with his plans to step down as Disney CEO in 2019. One fellow media titan tells THR that Iger would be a great candidate if he decides to run but stops short of saying he is encouraging him to do so. Iger stated in June 2016 that "a lot of people" have urged him to run for office, though that was a political lifetime ago.

    The Iger option may be stoking enthusiasm in some quarters of the entertainment business, but outside its media bubble, Democratic strategists desperately seeking a way to reclaim the White House from Donald Trump are less sure how serious Iger is about running and, if he is, whether he could be a credible candidate for the party's nomination in 2020.

    "Success in business can be a compelling attribute, but most important in the wake of Trump will be to demonstrate a passion for doing good that can inspire people again," says Brian Fallon, Hillary Clinton's campaign press secretary. Full story.

    China's 2017 box office forecast surges to $8.3 billion. The total would represent growth of 20 percent for the year — a major comeback over 2016, when growth slowed to 3.7 percent. 

    + The return to double-digit growth would put China back on track to overtake North America as the world's largest box-office territory within a handful of years. North American box office revenue grew by 2.1 percent in 2016, settling at $11.36 billion.  

    Gotham Awards: Get Out gets a boost. Over the past couple of years, the Gothams have predicted two Best Picture winners, Spotlight and Moonlight. What do yesterday's nominations mean for Get Out? Scott Feinberg breaks it down

    Chiwetel Ejiofor to star in directorial debut. The Oscar-nominated actor has begun production of his untitled adaptation of the William Kamkwamba autobiography The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. The film is backed by Participant Media, BBC Films, and the BFI. 

    Fox, Russell Simmons developing movie about Def Jam artist T La Rock. The movie, based on a recent GQ article, will depict life of the first artist signed to Def Jam Records. Mike Medavoy (Black Swan) will produce alongside Simmons.

    ► Agent Brad Schenck exits Paradigm. Schenck, who represents such actors as Scott Caan and Craig T. Nelson, had spent 13 years in Paradigm's talent department, and had been co-head from 2015 to early 2017. Details. 


  • They Aren't J.J. Abrams

    Austin Hargrave

    Matt and Ross Duffer's sci-fi series Stranger Things is barely even a TV show anymore — it's an unstoppable, catchy phenomenon that has seeped into nearly every corner of pop culture, usually in the form of those kids who seem to be everywhere all the time (or just Barb).

    And it's not stopping any time soon: The show returns on Netflix in just a week. That means the 33-year-old twin Duffers have a lot on their minds, Michael O'Connell reports

    On franchise fears: “It’s not Star Wars,” says Ross. “It’s dangerous because is everyone is trying to create these universes that span multiple films, but they haven’t even built the foundation. Brother Matt adds, “Let’s do one good series. Then, if we don’t manage to mess that up, we can talk beyond that. We don’t have that J.J. Abrams gene — for good and bad.

    On casting Sadie Sink for a new character: “I hope I’m not making this up, something like 700 girls auditioned,” Matt Duffer says. “I think we screen-tested three or four with the kids. We initially forgot that our kids had aged like a year or a year and a half, so we put them with these girls who were all clearly too young for them. They were like perfect matches for season one, but didn’t work for season two. So Sadie stuck out. She was perfect for this character, the chemistry with the rest of the cast seemed spot-on.”

    On how they’ll be spending release day: “This a very different feeling than last year when we were afraid that it was going to get lost,” said Matt. “Now we know that people will watch and, of course, everyone has expectations. We will be scouring social media to see the response.” Full Q&A.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Nickelodeon fires Loud House creator after sexual harassment allegations. The Viacom-owned cable network terminated Chris Savino days after multiple women came forward with claims against the animator. 

    Trump can't stop talking TV ratings. Nielsen-in-Chief? In an informal tally by THR of the president's public appearances, campaign-style rallies, interviews, and tweets, POTUS has mentioned TV ratings at least 24 times while in office. Full story.

    Steve Buscemi replaces Owen Wilson in TBS series Miracle Workers. Wilson dropped out of the seven-episode comedy produced by Lorne Michaels and Simon Rich, with Buscemi stepping in to star opposite Daniel Radcliffe.

    ^Leno talks Letterman rivalry. With David Letterman due to receive the 2017 Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday, Jay Leno pays tribute to his former late-night competitor. As told to THR:

    The idea that there was a huge rift between me and Dave — yeah, of course there was. I think Dave felt really sad he didn't get The Tonight Show. And our shows were very competitive. Whether it's two sports teams, or two boxers, you can trash talk each other, but it doesn't mean you don't respect each other. I think there was a mutual admiration. It's not that we have a lot in common — we don't — but I think that we have a mutual admiration for each other's ability to make each other laugh." 

    + "Of course, some of [the rivalry] was serious, but you have to be reasonably thick-skinned if you want to do this for a living. But it's all right. If it's funny, all bets are off. When other people go, "Leno's an asshole," well, that's not funny, I'm sorry. But Dave would always go about it in a funny way. There was no animosity there. Comics have a bond: You have more in common with your worst enemy if they're a comic than you do with your best friend, because you share something that regular people just don't get." Full story.

    AMC launches virtual reality app with The Walking Dead bonus content. Can the network make its new VR app happen? If anything can help, it's The Walking Dead, which will provide an extended scene from Sunday's season eight premiere. 

    ► Samie Kim Falvey tapped as Imagine TV president. The move marks a return to television after she served as head of M4, the planned (but folded) over-the-top service from AwesomenessTV and Verizon. Before that, she was head of comedy at ABC. 

  • YouTube's TV Challenge

    Photographed by Koury Angelo

    Yes, platforms like YouTube Red and Facebook Watch have enormous bank accounts and untold millions of viewers. What the don't have is experience, buy-in or history, Tim Goodman writes:

    Creating a library of scripted series is not like clicking on Facebook Live. YouTube Red and YouTube TV, if they are even keen to sustain those splinter feeds beyond one or five more years, will have variations on what's already free on YouTube. To get the latter to be worth looking at much less subscribe to, YouTube will need to get big name stars in front of the camera, with scripts that don't make them look stupid and episodic budgets that are not embarrassing. And then surround those big name stars with lots of other big name stars on other shows with great writing and quality directing all done with competitive budgets.

    Has that happened? No. Is there a worry from agents and managers that putting a big name star on YouTube or Facebook, neither with a proven track record of staying in the game and not upending the table when results don't materialize, will lead to embarrassment and career damage?

    Yes, there is a worry. Read more.

    What else we're reading...

    — What does Roy Price's departure mean for Amazon Studios? Josef Adalian writes: "Any investigation into what's happening at Amazon Studios is complicated by the fact that Bezos has been quiet in recent months about the service." [Vulture

    — Hollywood wants to erase Harvey Weinstein's legacy. But if it wants to evolve, it can't. Caroline Framke writes: "Rejecting a culture of sexual harassment will mean more than rejecting any single predator." [Vox]

    Margo Price is the real country music deal. Rob Harvilla writes: "Margo Price is on a mission to reclaim the term economic anxiety." [The Ringer]

    Simpsons writers pick their favorite 'Treehouse of Horror' segments. Dan Snierson writes: "The annual Halloween tradition unspools a trilogy of chills, thrills, and perhaps a gruesome fate for Ned Flanders." [EW]

    — Can a thrash metal band help save the Maori language? Slyvia Varnham O'Regan writes: "Indigenous tongues around the world are under threat — and modern musicians are trying to keep them alive." [The Atlantic]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Billy Joel reveals favorite Bruce Springsteen song." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Adam Scott and Ben Schwartz react to Parks and Rec fan theories." [Late Late Show]

    + "Trump feuds with Gold Star families." [Daily Show]

    Today's birthdays: John Krasinski, 38, Kenneth Choi, 46, Snoop Dogg, 46, Valerie Faris, 59, Viggo Mortensen, 59, Danny Boyle, 61, Thomas Newman, 62.