What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:17 AM 10/25/2017

by Ray Rahman

Photographed By Allison Michael Orenstein

What's news: The inside story on how Harvey Weinstein used his book imprint to serve himself. Plus: The Weinstein Effect spreads, Bill O'Reilly struggles, Amazon and Hulu see change, the World Series dips in ratings, and Netflix changes the anime industry.  — Ray Rahman

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  • Behind Weinstein's Book Imprint

    During his long reign over Hollywood, the disgraced mogul uses his book imprint to cover his tracks, writes Andy Lewis:

    First known as Talk Miramax Books and then, later, Weinstein Books, the imprint served as a vehicle for Harvey Weinstein to reward friends, curry favor with the powerful and perhaps try to silence and even buy favorable coverage from journalists. And Weinstein made clear he was very much involved in the publishing operation.

    In 2003, former Miramax employee Rachel Pine started shopping a novel, The Twins of Tribeca, about a young ingenue who goes to work at Glorious Pictures, run by the notoriously larger-than-life brothers Tony and Phil Waxman. It was pitched as a satirical roman a clef of her time as a publicist at Miramax in the 1990s. Interest was high. More than a dozen publishers bid in the first round of an auction for the publishing rights. But then around the second or third round a new bidder popped up: Harvey Weinstein.

    Having failed to secure a copy of the manuscript (which at that point consisted only of a few sample chapters and a proposal), Weinstein decided to just buy it. He called Pine from Rome, telling her, “How much money do you want? I don’t want to be your stalking horse” [to get more money from another publisher]. Pine asked for only one thing from him, “You have to publish the book. You have to leave it alone.” Weinstein replied, “I will and you have my word on that.”

    Pine, who spoke from her home in London about her experience, laughs at that memory now. “It was probably the most civil conversation I had with him.” And Harvey remained true to his word. Mostly. Full story.

    More (and more, and more) Weinstein news...

    WEINSTEIN CO. SUED Actress Dominique Huett has hit The Weinstein Co. with a $5 million civil suit for negligence, The Los Angeles Times reported. Huett came forward yesterday and claimed that, in 2010, Weinstein lured her into a Beverly Hills hotel room and sexually abused her, insisting she let him perform oral sex on her and refusing to take no for an answer. The suit alleges that prior to the incident, "TWC's executives, officers and employees had actual knowledge of Weinstein's repeated acts of sexual misconduct with women."

    ANOTHER ACCUSER On top of that, there's also former assistant Mimi Haleyi, who appeared alongside Gloria Allred yesterday to claim that Weinstein "orally forced himself" on her while she was on her period during a visit to his New York City apartment in 2006.

    UNBUNDLING Business partners are continuing to cut bait on all things Weinstein: Lexus has announced that it is ending its relationship with TWC; the luxury car brand had been a sponsor of TWC's Project Runway and worked on other inititatives with the company. The Ovation network made a move as well, voting to remove Weinstein from its board of directors.

    + Meanwhile, Tom Barrack says he'll have a decision soon on whether or not his investment firm Colony Capital will end up purchasing some or all of TWC.

    THE WEINSTEIN EFFECT It's not just Hollywood anymore.  The movement is making itself known in a variety of industries as the #MeToo hashtag tops 1.7 million tweets. The fallout is spreading: Following allegations of past misdeeds, former New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier has been fired from his position helming a new journal for Emerson Collective, run by Laurene Powell Jobs. Photographer Terry Richardson has been banned from working with Condé Nast publications due to years of harassment allegations; Valentino also severed ties with the photog. Celebrity chef John Besh stepped down from his restaurant group after twenty-five current and former employees spoke out against him; Top Chef said it was "evaluating" what to do about an upcoming episode featuring him. Marilyn Manson split ways with longtime bandmate Twiggy Ramirez after rape allegations came to light.  

    And that's likely just the start. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    Regal Cinemas posts mixed results. The theater chain reported declining financial numbers but still managed to make more profit than expected. Management said the lower numbers this year were due to a "challenging box-office environment." 

    A Million Little Pieces adaptation underway again. Husband-and-wife duo Aaron Johnson and Sam Taylor-Johnson (Nowhere Boy) will tackle adapting the controversial 2003 James Frey story for the big screen, with Aaron set to star and Sam directing. The book was once a hot property but eventually became tainted when the author was exposed for embellishing parts of the story that was marketed as a memoir. 

    ^The Breadwinner wins animation festival grand prize and audience award. The Angelina Jolie-produced film, which tells the story of a young girl growing up under the Taliban regime, took home multiple honors at the inaugural Animation Is Film festival. associated with image. 

    + Review: "In her first solo stint at the helm of a feature, director Nora Twomey sugarcoats nothing about Parvana's story, even while layering it with a touch of enchantment," writes Sheri Linden. Read more.

    It's a casting party: Ben Mendelsohn is in talks to play the villain in the Brie Larson-starring Captain Marvel ... Charlie Shotwell (Captain Fantastic) has been tapped for the titular role in Eli, a thriller about a boy being treated for a rare disease in a secluded clinic. Ciaran Foy (Sinister 2) will direct the feature, the first to go into production for the newly minted Paramount Players ... Justin Long and Donald Faison are set to star in The Wave, an indie centering on an image-obsessed attorney (Long) whose life gets turned around after a drug-induced night on the town ... The Bold Type actress Katie Stevens will star in Haunt, a horror movie that counts Eli Roth as one of its producers ... Mia Wasikowska will headline Vice Media's first Australian feature Judy and Punch, a live-action reimagining of the classic puppet show.

    Samuel L. Jackson can help you get cast in something, too. The actor will be teaching an online acting course in collaboration with MasterClass. The fee to join is $90, and there will be homework.

    Paramount exec LeeAnne Stables steps down. After 12 years at the studio, Stables is leaving from her post as Paramount's president of worldwide marketing, partnership, and licensing.

    Thank You for Your Service, reviewed. The Miles Teller film "approaches its powerful subject in admirably understated fashion," writes critic Frank Scheck. Read more.

    [icon:rambling] Tommy Lee Jones, Zhao Wei kick off 30th annual Tokyo International Film Festival. "Personally, Japan is very dear to my heart," Jones said at the glitzy, star-studded opening ceremony. "I feel at home here." Full story.

  • Bill O'Reilly Down, Out

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    While Bill O'Reilly keeps fighting back against the many details emerging from his allegedly harassment-filled tenure at Fox News, Rupert Murdoch is feeling every punch, Paul Bond writes: 

    After a flurry of newspaper reports led to the firing of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly over sexual harassment claims stretched over many years at the Fox News Channel, the Murdochs may have thought they could begin to slowly put the issue behind them and focus on a pet project of theirs: the acquisition of the 61 percent of European satellite TV firm Sky that 21st Century Fox doesn’t already own.

    So a New York Times revelation that O’Reilly had agreed in January to pay former Fox News contributor Lis Wiehl a whopping $32 million to settle claims he harassed her via unwanted advances and suggestive emails couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time, many observers say.

    While it’s “inconceivable,” as one analyst put it, that CEO James Murdoch would be damaged by Saturday’s lengthy story in the Times that has been echoed throughout the news media since, European regulators have yet to approve the Sky transaction and every new tidbit involving sexual misconduct at the conglomerate’s Fox News cash cow inches them closer to squashing the transaction. Full story.

    That's not all for O'Reilly...

    + The former Fox anchor was dropped by his longtime talent agency UTA. The agency came under pressure from many of its liberal Hollywood clients to dump O'Reilly last spring when it was first revealed that he had settled harassment claims after the harassment scandal engulfing former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. 

    + He apologized to former colleague Eric Bolling for bringing up his dead son. O'Reilly had said the death of Bolling's son was "because of allegations made" against Bolling, but he soon apologized for the comment.

    + O'Reilly also brought God into the situation. The accused harasser took to his web series to declare that he was "mad at God" for what happened to him. "I wish I had more protection." Naturally, the late-night shows had a field day with that. 

    + John Huddy, brother of O'Reilly's accuser, claims Fox News fired him unfairly.  Huddy, who was terminated on Monday from his position as a Jerusalem-based correspondent for Fox News, is strongly pushing back on the network's claim that he was dismissed because of his role in a "physical altercation." "They hurt my sister, they hurt my father, and now they're trying to hurt me," said the correspondent.

    + In other cable-news news... A pair of opposing profiles are shedding light on two of the genre's most intriguing personalities: Brian Williams opened up to Vanity Fair about his unlikely comeback at the 11 o'clock hour, while Laura Ingraham let the New York Times in on her plan to champion Trumpian red-meat values from her new perch at Fox News. She even says she'll be tougher on the White House than Hannity. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    World Series ratings fall in opener. The Dodgers vs. Astros got off to a strong start on Tuesday night, albeit not as strong as last year's. Even in dominating the rest of the TV lineup, Fox's MLB coverage took a 23 percent dip from 2016.

    Kardashians sign huge renewal deal with E! A source said the deal runs through 2020 but disputed the $150 million-dollar price tag reported by TMZ, instead estimating the new pact is south of $100 million. 

    Robert Guillame dies at 89. The Emmy-winning actor, best known for his roles as Benson as well as on The Lion King and Sports Night, passed away Tuesday.

    ^The Goldbergs hits 100. In honor of the show's 100th episode tonight, Adam Goldberg, who spun his geeky '80s youth into the ABC comedy, opens up about his original goal to "do an expose of my family," his dream guest star, a possible series ending and why he apologized to John DeLorean's daughter.

    The Streaming Corner: Amazon unscripted head Conrad Riggs resigned yesterday, following his former colleagues Roy Price and Joe Lewis out the door. Within hours, Riggs was replaced by Heather Schuster, one of the division's senior creative execs ... Over at Hulu, CEO Mike Hopkins exited the platform to move to Sony Pictures Television, where he'll fill the role vacated by Steve Mosko. Hulu board member Randy Freer will take over as CEO in Hopkins' place ... AT&T announced that it lost 89,900 video subscribers in the third quarter — fewer than expected ... And Netflix picked up Nick Kroll's Big Mouth for a second season.

    Paula Abdul heading to Fresh Off the Boat. Continuing its strong string of '90s pop culture cameos, the sitcom will add Abdul to its list for a special Christmas episode. 

    Another week, another huge This Is Us twist. Director-producers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra break down what happened in last night's episode — you've seen it, right?

    ► Sara Ramirez books first post-Grey's Anatomy series regular role. A year and a half after exiting the Shondaland show, Ramirez has landed a spot in the cast of the CBS drama Madam Secretary. Her debut will air Nov. 19. 

  • Netflix Disrupts Anime

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    The $8 billion content budget the streaming giant pointed to in its third-quarter earnings call could drastically alter the anime industry's business model, writes Gavin J. Blair:

    Despite the global success of anime, the production houses in Japan often struggle to make ends meet, while many animators work punishingly long hours for infamously low wages. But the 30-title anime slate currently being produced for Netflix is shaking up the industry, shifting the business model and giving more creative freedom to animators.

    Although anime features like Ghost in the Shell or Hayao Miyazaki productions have grabbed the headlines over the years, domestic TV series are the backbone of the industry, bringing in more than 10 times the annual revenue of theatrical releases, which amounts to more than $5 billion.

    But Netflix's original content strategy is becoming a game changer. During its third-quarter earnings call, the streaming giant talked of content budget of $8 billion for next year. A sizable chunk of that is expected to go to anime series, though not all of them will be produced in Japan, as Netflix aims for half of its content to be original by the end of 2018. Said chief content officer Ted Sarandos, "We've more than 30 original anime projects in various states of production these days." Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — Surviving R. Kelly. Jason Newman writes: "Kitti Jones left her home and career for a relationship with the R&B idol. That's when she says the abuse began." [Rolling Stone]

    — The impossible burden of playing Donald Trump. Dan Brooks writes: "Anthony Atamanuik of The President Show never wanted a Trump victory, but it has been great for his career. Now he must avoid the many pitfalls of mocking the man." [The New York Times]

    — Why the Weather Channel decided to take on climate skeptics. Kate Kilkenny writes: "The network has been celebrated for trumpeting climate-change evidence and the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico. According to editor-in-chief Neil Katz, its direction isn't political." [Pacific Standard]

    — In the Netflix docuseries The Day I Met El Chapo, Kate del Castillo tells her story. Yvonne Villarreal writes: "If ever there was an example of the adverse effects of late-night Twitter use, it's the story of how Kate del Castillo became entangled in one of the most bizarre stories of modern times." [The Los Angeles Times]

    — Justin Timberlake, damn it, just invite Janet Jackson to the Super Bowl already. Sean O'Neal writes: "You're just making it worse." [AV Club]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Jake Tapper destroyed Bill O'Reilly on Twitter." [Late Show]

    + "Ted Danson puts divorce rumors to rest." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Freestylin' with the Roots and Lin-Manuel Miranda." [Tonight Show]

    Today's Birthdays: Katy Perry, 33, Mehcad Brooks, 37, Adam Goldberg, 41, Craig Robinson, 46, Samantha Bee, 48, Nancy Cartwright, 60, Gale Anne Hurd, 62, James Carville, 73.