What's news: Is time running out for The Weinstein Company? Colony might be taking its money off the table. Plus: Ashley Judd talks Harvey on GMA, Mark Halperin out at NBC over harassment allegations, and Jigsaw's projected box-office win over Suburbicon. — Ray Rahman
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It looks like all the Nespresso in the world won't be enough to power George Clooney's Suburbicon to box-office glory this weekend. Instead, it's the horror flick Jigsaw that's poised to claim the top spot over both Suburbicon and Thank You For Your Service, writes Pamela McClintock:
Lionsgate's fright-fest Jigsaw — reviving the marquee Saw franchise — is the clear favorite to win the weekend with a debut of $20 million or more from 2,800 theaters, including Imax locations.
Suburbicon, despite making high-profile stops at the Venice and Toronto film festivals, is only tracking to open in the $5 million-$7 million range. If so, that would mark the worst wide opening of Clooney's directing career, as well as one of the worst starts for leading man Matt Damon, who stars opposite Julianne Moore and Oscar Isaac. Critics have had trouble warming to the racially tinged film, which currently sports a 38 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
DreamWorks and partner Universal also enter the fray this weekend with the Miles Teller-starring Iraqi war veteran drama Thank You for Your Service, currently on track to open in the $3 million-$4 million range.
The biggest headline, however, will be overseas, where Marvel Studios and Disney's Thor: Ragnorak opens in numerous markets a week ahead of its domestic debut. The first superhero film of the fall could easily take in $100 million in its offshore launch. Full story.
+ Horror's huge year: Feel like this year has been simply horrific? You're not alone: A New York Times estimation combed through decades of box-office numbers and concluded that 2017 is already "the biggest year in horror history." As McClintock wrote earlier this month, studios have even started to move high-profile releases around to avoid conflicts with the scary set. The genre's blockbuster 2017 numbers are largely propped by the runaway successes of Get Out and It, with an assist from Happy Death Day. Jigsaw looks to join the team.
Elsewhere in film...
► Is Colony pulling plug on Weinstein Co.? TWC's deal with its most important lifeline, Tom Barrack's Colony, is reportedly close to falling through after the firm took a closer look at the studio's assets. If Colony does decide against giving the troubled company a cash infusion, other suitors, including Fortress Investment Group, may jump into the mix.
+ Ashley Judd tells all to Diane Sawyer. In her first TV interview since the bombshell New York Times story, Judd spoke with Sawyer about her experiences with Weinstein on Good Morning America. Full story.
+ Weinstein news: Norwegian actress Natassia Malthe said Harvey Weinstein raped her at a hotel in London in 2008 ... The TWC name was stripped from the upcoming home releases of films Wind River, Leap!, and Tulip Fever ... One entity that was already suing TWC before the Harvey story broke is demanding in a court filing that the company put millions in escrow to ensure there's money left for them ... Gloria Allred is calling for the company to set up a victims fund.
+ George H.W. Bush claims: Two actresses — Heather Lind and Jordana Grolnick — have now come forward claiming they'd been groped by the former president. Instead of denying it, a Bush spokesman acknowledged that "on occasion, he has patted women's rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner." The statement also included an apology.
► Sharon Stone to star as mob mistress in Sunny. The actress is set to topline the comedic thriller as a drug kingpin, mob mistress and devoted single mom named, yes, Sunny. The film comes from Norwegian director Eva Sorhaug, marking her English language debut.
^Austin Powers masks a hot Halloween item thanks to Baby Driver. If you've seen the movie, you probably remember the very funny Mike Myers-Michael Myers mix-up among the bank robbers. Well, so do others: Austin Powers masks have sold out on costume sites and are currently unavailable on eBay or Amazon. "I'm very proud," Baby Driver director Edgar Writer says. "I feel like through my career, I have given people some very easy Halloween costumes." Full story.
► Mark Hamill to receive Oscar Wilde award. May the wit be with him: Hamill will be saluted at the 13th annual awards-seaon event on March 31. As usual, the yearly fete, designed to laud entertainers from Ireland, will take place at J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot in Santa Monica on the Thursday before the Oscars. Previous honorees include Colin Farrell, Ruth Negga, Van Morrison, James Corden, and more.
► DC villain Deathstroke movie in the works. Warner Bros. is giving Deathstroke the leading man treatment with a standalone film to be written and directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid). The film would be a starring vehicle for Joe Manganiello, though no deals have been completed yet.
► Girl on the Train team takes on The Wife Between Us. Holly Barrio and Steven Spielberg's Amblin Partners are planning a film adaptation of the upcoming psychological thriller from writing duo Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, slated to hit bookstores Jan. 9. Barrio picked up the rights from the same book scout who urged her to buy Girl on the Train when it was just a manuscript.
The problem isn't just at Fox News anymore. NBC News analyst Mark Halperin — co-writer of Game Change, fixture on MSNBC's Morning Joe, co-host of Showtime's The Circus — has been accused of sexual harassment by five women during his time at ABC News, writes Abid Rahman:
According to a CNN report Wednesday, the women allege that Halperin, while in a prominent role at ABC News, propositioned female employees for sex and kissed and grabbed the breasts of one woman against her will. Three of the five women also allege that Halperin pressed his erection against their bodies. Halperin denies groping the women's breasts or pushing his genitals against the three women's bodies.
In a statement, Halperin said: “During this period, I did pursue relationships with women that I worked with, including some junior to me... I now understand from these accounts that my behavior was inappropriate and caused others pain. For that, I am deeply sorry and I apologize. Under the circumstances, I’m going to take a step back from my day-to-day work while I properly deal with this situation.”
The alleged harassment took place in the early 2000s, when Halperin was a political director at ABC News. CNN reports that none of the women reported directly to Halperin and one of the women was not an employee of ABC News at the time. Story.
+ CNN's Oliver Darcy reports that Halperin is now leaving his role as an NBC analyst. "Mark Halperin is leaving his role as a contributor until the questions around his past conduct are fully understood," read a statement from the network.
+ Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski briefly addressed the allegations during this morning's broadcast, but otherwise the show stayed relatively mum.
+ Speaking of cable-news harassment: Both Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson took to late-night TV last night to share their Fox News harassment stories.
Kelly, speaking to her NBC mate Seth Meyers, said this of Bill O'Reilly's tenure at Fox News: "Fox says it didn't know. The question remains, why didn't they? Why wouldn't you know? Why wouldn't you ask before you bring this man into the workplace and unleash him on the workforce?" She had a lot more to say on the topic.
Over on CBS, Carlson opened up to Stephen Colbert about her experience coming out against Roger Ailes and Fox News: "In the end, I did this for all the other women across America who have faced similar indignities." The full interview stayed on the issue for nine minutes.
+ In related news, O'Reilly might be negotiating a position with Sinclair ... or maybe he's not. There have been conflicting reports, but the latest from NBC says Sinclair's interest in O'Reilly has not been deterred by the news of the former Fox New host's $32 sexual harassment settlement.
Elsewhere in TV...
^Broad City: How Trump fueled the show's feminist manifesto. Jackie Strause writes: Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer vented their post-election frustrations in a provocative half-hour that took direct aim at President Trump last night.
+ In the episode, titled "Witches," Ilana's character realizes that she hasn't been able to have an orgasm since the election. "What we’re learning right now is that everything is political," Jacobson tells THR in a wide-ranging chat. "The way that [Trump] talks and treats women is not okay. I’m really proud of the way that we managed to merge a bunch of different frustrations within this episode." Full story.
► Jon Cryer returns to CBS with new family comedy. He's back: The Two and a Half Men alum is teaming up with the network to develop Dads and Daughters, a multicam sitcom about a reserved math teacher and an outgoing personal trainer who share an ex-wife — and must move in together to avoid splitting their daughters up.
+ Cryer isn't currently attached to star, but he'll be exec-producing alongside his wife/producing partner Lisa Joyner and CBS vets Mark Gross (Mike & Molly, Man With a Plan) and Gregg Mettler (Man With a Plan, Cougar Town).
► Netflix launches Stranger Things after show. The streaming giant is launching Beyond Stranger Things, hosted by writer/producer/actor and "superfan" Jim Rash (Community, The Descendants). All seven episodes will be available Friday, the same day as the season release, and will feature a mix of producers the Duffer brothers and cast members as guests.
+ It's a first for Netflix, though the concept itself has been well-worn by now, as any regular AMC viewer knows. But the streamer is putting their own spin on the genre: Fans are advised to not watch any of the aftershows until they've completed the entire season so as to avoid spoilers.
► YouTube Red orders sci-fi drama from The Crown producers. The platform has picked up 10 episodes of Origins, which follows a group of 10 strangers stranded on a spacecraft traveling to a distant planet. The series comes from Midnight Radio and Left Band Pictures, the Sony-owned film and TV production company behind The Crown and Outlander.
+ "Sci-fi and action adventure are huge on YouTube," said YouTube global head of original content Susanne Daniels. The series is set to debut in 2018.
► The Americans recruits Gilmore Girls alum for recurring role. The FX prestige drama adds Scott Cohen for its final season. He'll be playing Glenn Haskard, a member of a State Department negotiating team at odds with Keri Russell's Elizabeth Jennings.
^Mr. Robot goes back in time. Creator Sam Esmail and star Martin Wallström take us back with them as they discuss key Tyrell flashback scenes from Wednesday night's episode. "We felt it had the weight, and an emotional arc for his character that really deserved its own episode," Esmail tells THR. Full Q&A.
► In development: The CW has given a script deal to Near Beth Experience, a religious dramedy from former Revenge executive producers Mike Kelley and Melissa Loy. The series centers on a cynical young comic who starts hearing the prayers or people around her after a near-death experience ... NBC is developing Winners, a single-cam comedy from Simpsons writer/EP Ryan Koh, with Patricia Heaton also attached to exec-produce. The show focuses on a group of young people at a residential life-coaching facility designed to prepare them for adulthood ... Fox has Hard Knocks, a cop drama from longtime Criminal Minds writer/EP Virgil Williams. This one features a brilliant male ex-con turned university criminology professor and a tenacious female detective teaming up to fight crime.
► CBS names Jeff Glor new Evening News anchor. The storied news division has finally found a replacement for Scott Pelley, who left his anchor chair in mid-June. Glor, currently a correspondent at the network, will begin "later this year"; Anthony Mason will continue as interm anchor until then.
► Ryan Murphy makes history with largest transgender cast for FX's Pose. Following a six-month nationwide casting search, the project has cast five transgender actors in series regular roles, thus making history with the largest number of transgender actors in series regular roles for a scripted series. The drama examines several segments of life in 1980s New York: the rise of the luxury Trump-era universe, the downtown social and literary scene and the ball culture world.
+ The Disney Channel also made some LGBT news: This Friday's second-season premiere of Andi Mack will introduce a gay storyline, a first for the network. The series will feature a young male — one of the show's main characters — beginning to realize he has feelings for a classmate.
On average, Bob Lenihan sees five movies a week. As president of programming at AMC Entertainment — the country's largest theater circuit — he's responsible for the pipeline of movies feeding more than 8,200 screens in about 660 AMC theaters throughout the U.S. The exec spoke to Pamela McClintock about a brutal season at the box office:
On deciding when to reduce a film’s screens: "When a movie drops off significantly in its second week, the public has spoken, and they aren't going to turn out in weeks four and five like they did for Wonder Woman or Dunkirk. We also look at CinemaScores on opening weekend. If a movie gets less than an A-, it probably isn't going to hold very well as a general rule of thumb. We never take a movie off that shows box-office life."
On sequels, reboots and franchise fatigue: "There is a lot of competition for content. We see how aggressive Netflix and Amazon are, in addition to HBO and all the other channels. When the audience is given something new and fresh, they are going to embrace it. At the same time, it would be foolish to not try and recapture some of the box-office magic that exists in a property that once came out of nowhere, although it is increasingly harder to do that." Full story.
What else we're reading...
— TRL is back on MTV, but undone by the internet. Jon Caramanica writes: "The fact that the internet has leached attention and relevance away from television is only part of what's befuddling this show." [The New York Times]
— Tina Fey has transformed her cult classic Mean Girls into a pricey musical. Will it work? Peter Marks writes: "There's no telling whether the fans who made Mean Girls an international sensation more than a decade ago will consign it to the frayed pages of their old high school Burn Books." [The Washington Post]
— The inescapable Fats Domino. Amanda Petrusich writes: "There's an exuberance inherent to this music that is purely, mystifyingly transformative." [The New Yorker]
— Why the Witch is the pop-culture heroine we need right now. Kathryn VanArendonk writes: "She is either a destabilizing, dangerous villain or a powerful protagonist, and the vision you choose depends entirely on your point of view." [Vulture]
— Tiny House Hunters and the shrinking American dream. Roxanne Gay writes: "Shows like House Hunters and Tiny House Hunters flourish, in part, because even now, after the mortgage crisis and financial collapse, home ownership and the American dream are synonymous." [Curbed]
What else we're seeing...
+ "Why Anna Wintour got fired as a stylist." [Late Late Show]
+ "Hugh Laurie finally says 'thank you' to Stephen Colbert." [Late Show]
+ "Catchphrase with Jessica Alba and JB Smoove." [Tonight Show]
Today's birthdays: Seth MacFarlane, 44, Rosemarie DeWitt, 46, Keith Urban, 50, Tom Cavanagh, 54, Cary Elwes, 54, Dylan McDermott, 56, Rita Wilson, 61, Julian Schnaebel, 66, Hillary Clinton, 70.