What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:05 AM 10/30/2017

by Ray Rahman

Courtesy of Joe Pugliese/CBS

What's news: Kevin Spacey has been caught in his own scandal after actor Anthony Rapp accused the House of Cards star of trying to take advantage of him when he was 14. Plus: a really bad month at the theaters, Laura Ingraham's Fox News ambitions, and ESPN's NFL dilemma.  — Ray Rahman

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  • Kevin Spacey Allegations

    Overnight, Kevin Spacey went from a national treasure to ... well, it's hard to say exactly what yet, but "pariah" certainly comes to mind, as does (alleged) "sexual predator." It began when actor Anthony Rapp — most famous for having starred in the original production of Rent — spoke out, writes Kimberly Nordyke:

    Star Trek: Discovery actor Anthony Rapp has accused Kevin Spacey of making a pass at him when he was only 14. Rapp told BuzzFeed News in a story that the two met in 1986 when both were appearing in Broadway shows. One night, Spacey invited Rapp to his apartment for a party; later, Rapp says, he found himself bored and watching TV in Spacey's bedroom when he realized that he was the only one left in the apartment with the actor, who was 26 at the time.

    Rapp, who is now 46, claimed that Spacey then “picked me up like a groom picks up the bride over the threshold. But I don't, like, squirm away initially, because I'm like, 'What's going on?' And then he lays down on top of me.” 

    Rapp alleged that Spacey was holding him down while tightening his grip on Rapp, who was able to get away after some time. “He was trying to seduce me,” Rapp said. “I don't know if I would have used that language. But I was aware that he was trying to get with me sexually.” Rapp then went into the bathroom and closed the door. Full story.

    From there...

    Rapp's story prompted the following comment from Spacey on Twitter

    The strange post, which seemed to yoke together an apology for the alleged sexual assault of a child with a coming-out announcement, prompted even more condemnation. "For a famous person to deflect these accusations with a long-in-the-making coming out is so cruel to his supposed new community it stings," Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson wrote on Twitter. 

    What's next? This is likely only the beginning of what could turn out to be a long, ugly saga. 

    + A top London theater director says that people have had concerns about Spacey for some time now. "I think that many people in the theatre and in the creative industries have been aware of many stories of many people over a lot of years, and Kevin Spacey would be one of the people that people have had concerns about," Victoria Featherstone said.

    + One of the less-important but still-interesting questions here: What does Netflix do with its flagship scripted series House of Cards now? Filming for the sixth season is currently under way, yet allegations against other prominent figures post-Harvey (Mark Halperin, Roy Price) have led to swift firings and the loss of projects ... Netflix may have to address this soon.

    Other harassment fallout...

    + Mark Halperin officially out at NBC. After coming under fire for a long history of alleged sexual misconduct and harassment, political journalist has been officially axed by NBC News and MSNBC. 

    + Lionsgate exec Andrew Kramer exited after harassment allegation. When word of Kramer's departure from Lionsgate first broke on Thursday, insiders said it was because of a restructuring. However, sources also say Kramer was recently investigated by the company for claims of an inappropriate interaction with a female assistant. 

    + LAPD investigating former APA agent Tyler Grasham. Actor Tyler Cornell has filed a crime report against Grasham, the APA talent agent who was fired amid numerous accusations of sexual assault and harassment from men who recently spoke out on social media. 

    + Rose McGowan said Harvey Weinstein offered her $1 million for her silence. Clearly it didn't work, though she tells the New York Times that she did briefly put in a counter-offer. 

    + Anthony Bourdain is not happy with Quentin Tarantino. The CNN hosts has been publicly shaming the director for his "complicity" in the Weinstein story. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    Allison Williams returns to horror. After receiving positive notices for her role in Get Out, the actress will try her hand at the genre again with The Perfection, a horror-thriller from Girls veteran Richard Shepard. 

    New Zealand poised to repeal controversial "Hobbit law." The 2010 legislation, which prevents workers in the country's film industry from unionizing, will likely be on its way out in the next 100 days thanks to the country's new Labour-led coalition. (And yes, the law's nickname comes from the movie, which played a part in its passing.)

    Bryan Cranston talks Last Flag Flying, antiwar protest and Trump. "I want him to succeed," the actor says of the president. "I honestly do." Q&A.

    ^Box-office bloodbath. Following a record September, the box-office had its worst October in a decade. The most recent weekend definitely didn't help, Pamela McClintock writes: 

    + George Clooney's high-profile, $25-million film Suburbicon opening with a paltry $2.8 million — among the worst wide openings in Paramount's history. Thank You For Your Service, the war-veteran picture all but designed to appeal to heartland America (which also cost $25 million), had trouble as well, brining in just $3.7 million. Even the weekend's winner, Jigsaw, was soft at just $16.3 million. The Saw franchise installment was expected to open at $20 million or more.

    + The biggest reason for the slump was the lack of a successful big event film along the lines of past October hits Gravity ($274.1 million), The Martian ($228.4 million) or Gone Girl ($167.8 million). Full story.

    + There is help coming, though: Thor: Ragnarok, which has been earning high critical reviews, opened to a thunderous $107.6 million overseas, boding well for its domestic debut this weekend.

    Alejando Inarritu is this year's first Oscar winner. Sort of: The Birdman director will be receiving a special Oscar for a Carne y Arena, a virtual reality installation from him and cinematogropher Emmanuel Lubezki. The honor, presented "in recognition of a visionary and powerful experience in storytelling," hasn't been handed out since 1996, when it went to Toy Story.

    Herbert Strabel, Oscar-winning set designer on Cabaret, dies at 90. The Berlin-born art director and set designer who won an Academy Award for his work on the Liza Minnelli classic Cabaret died Oct. 21 in a nursing home in Holzkirchen, Germany, The Munchner Merkur newspaper reported.

    Dwayne Johnson is still teasing a run for presidency. During a panel at L.A. Comic Con, the actor kept speculation about his political ambitions alive by saying, "I think the People's President has a really nice ring to that. I'll just say that."

  • Could ESPN Punt NFL?


    What is ESPN without the NFL? Is it possibly ... better? These are questions that at least some at the network have started to ponder as the Worldwide Leader looks ahead to the future, writes James Andrew Miller: 

    ​When ESPN agreed to pay $15.2 billion for its current Monday Night Football deal, some of its key executives believed they were buying the schedule of the previous MNF package, i.e. more often than not, the best game or at least one of the top games of the week. But Sunday Night Football got that pedigree, and with the advent of Thursday Night Football several years ago, ESPN’s Monday night schedule has been further diluted of quality matchups, and the network hasn't been shy about voicing dissatisfaction.

    NFL scheduling guru Howard Katz can keep more plates spinning in the air than anyone else in sports, and he’s done the Lord’s work trying to please everyone, but math is math, and there just aren’t enough good games to go around. Yes, Monday Night Football ratings are up about 5 percent this year over last year, but it’s still far behind 2015’s viewership, for example. ESPN is averaging roughly 11 million viewers for its games; given myriad challenges the network is facing, will parent Disney believe that an audience of that size for only 17 weeks a year is worth billions?

    Which brings us to another consideration: Timing for the next round of NFL rights — beginning in a couple years — is turning out to be rather propitious for the NFL. By then, digital players like Twitter, Google and Facebook will have had time to decide if they want to make what will be a huge leap from limited deals they’ve done with the league, like Amazon’s $50 million deal for streaming Thursday nights, to the multiple billion-dollar price tags for actual games. If they do, that increased competition could drive prices even higher and further push ESPN out of the game. Full text.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Roger Stone was banned from Twitter after threatening CNN anchors. The close friend and former adviser to Donald Trump went on a tirade after CNN reported Robert Mueller approved the first charges into his investigation on the Russian meddling of the 2016 presidential election. However, it seems like Stone needn't worry for now — late-breaking news reveals that Paul Manafort is this week's target.

    ► Ifran Khan to star in Amazon's Indian political satire. The actor (Life of Pi, Jurassic World) will topline The Ministry, which the streaming giant will launch worldwide next year. 

    Kathy Griffin goes after Andy Cohen, releases TMZ's Harvey Levin's personal phone number. Griffin was busy this weekend, posting a 17-minute video to social media in which she blasted Levin for TMZ's part in fueling the rage against her following The Fake Trump Head Incident. Bravo's Cohen was also a part of her wrath for having publicly slighting her recently. "People like Harvey Levin and Andy Cohen, honestly, just live to take women down," Griffin concluded.

    ^Laura Ingraham books Trump for her new show. With The Ingraham Angle debuting on Fox News tonight, the conservative host reveals that Trump will be a guest on her show early on, among other things. Q&A.

    Stranger Things season 3 questions. You've only just finished binge-watching the second season — but it's already time to start thinking about the next season. Our burning questions.

    John Oliver slams Alabama GOP candidate Roy Moore. HBO's Last Week Tonight host turned his righteous anger on Republicans last night for actively supporting the senatorial candidacy of the controversial gun-toting former Alabama state chief justice.  

    Walking Dead star Tom Payne on the power of Jesus. The fan-favorite character had a few breakout-worthy moments in last night's episode, and the actor behind the man discussed them all. Full story.

    Behind Outlander's huge book departure. Executive producer Matthew B. Roberts breaks down what he calls "one of our biggest undertakings as a show" from Sunday's episode. 

    Rep Sheet Roundup: Bill O’Reilly has been dropped by UTA and WME. ... ICM Partners has acquired speakers agency Royce Carlton and signed The Florida Project’s Bria Vinaite. … Jude Law has signed with 42West. … Chappaquiddick writers Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan have signed with CAA. … Black Klansman screenwriters David Rabinowitz and Charlie Wachtel have signed with WME. More here.

  • X-Men's Real Hero


    The influential Fox Kids cartoon only hit the air after a studio exec bet her career on it, with the show going on to prove the Marvel Universe "had commercial value far beyond what anybody estimated," write Aaron Couch and Byron Burton:

    TV executive Margaret Loesch had long championed the idea that there was TV gold to be made with Marvel, and she'd spent years pitching shows to the networks. Loesch was particularly taken with the X-Men, the ragtag team of mutants led by Prof. Charles Xavier, who taught them to deal with their mutant powers, all the while protecting a public who feared and even hated them. She oversaw a failed pilot, 1989's Pryde of the X-Men, (featuring, of all things, a Wolverine with an Australian accent) and vowed not to make the same mistakes again.

    When Loesch started her role as Fox Kids CEO in 1990, she convinced Fox head Jamie Kellner to let her greenlight an X-Men show, staking her career on its success. She brought in Haim Saban of Saban Entertainment and production company Graz for the show. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — "There are aliens from Mars landing on Earth": Inside CNN and TIme Warner, fear simmers as the AT&T merger looms. Joe Pompeo writes: "The good news, however, is that the network's future overlords in Dallas are now willing to publicly support Jeff Zucker. But what will things look like in a year?" [Vanity Fair]

    — Jimmy Kimmel: Suddenly, he's Walter Cronkite. David Marchese writes: "In the space of six weeks, this seemingly apolitical 49-year-old comedian, who, since his show debuted in 2003, has done exceptionally well by coming across as late-night’s unexceptional guy, had transformed himself into a riveting teller of truths — with the ratings bump to match." [New York Magazine]

    — Joan Didion doesn't owe the world anything. Megan Garber writes: "The long-awaited documentary about her life makes clear: She has escaped the demands so often place on other authors." [The Atlantic

    — Hollywood's man problem may be a matter of simple math. Meg James and Meredith Blake write: "Men overwhelmingly dominate nearly every portion of Hollywood, from movie sets to the corporate suites. Of the 100 top-grossing movies released last year, only five were directed by women. Men received nearly 87% of the screenwriting credits, the study found, and 79% of the producers were men." [Los Angeles Times]

    — Luke Skywalker speaks. Dave Itzkoff writes: "Mark Hamill has always embraced his Star Wars legacy, but when he was invited back for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, he hesitated: 'I was just really scared.'" [New York Times]

    — How we ended up in the golden age of horror movies. Scott Meslow writes: "Now that the genre is conquering not just the box office but the critical conversation too, horror is one of the last great hopes in a shrinking industry." [GQ]

    Black-ish actress Yara Shahidi is becoming the voice of a generation. Kristen Harding writes: "At just 17, the half-Iranian, half-African-American actress and activist is using her voice and platform to help empower her Gen Z peers." [EW]

    What's ahead this week...

    Monday: Superior Donuts season 2 premieres on CBS. 

    Tuesday: Game 6 of the World Series on Fox ... Halloween.

    Wednesday: Richard Linklater's Last Flag Flying premieres in L.A. ... Spotify's Secret Genius Awards held in L.A. ... A Bad Moms Christmas hits theaters in wide release.

    Thursday: Third annual Women in Entertainment Summit is held in L.A. 

    Friday: Thor: Ragnarok hits theaters in wide release ... Alias Grace premieres on Netflix.

    Today's Birthdays: Matthew Morrison, 39, Nia Long, 47, Larry Wilmore, 56, Harry Hamlin, 66, Henry Winkler, 72.