What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:17 AM 10/31/2017

by Ray Rahman

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What's news: Netflix announces the final House of Cards season (and potential spinoffs) amid Kevin Spacey's sexual assault scandal. Plus: The PGA issues a lifetime ban on Harvey Weinstein, Paris rejects Roman Polanski, huge profits for Sony films, and a new Scandal hits the Watergate Hotel. — Ray Rahman

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  • 'House of Cards' Falls

    Courtesy of Netflix

    When House of Cards first debuted on Netflix in 2013, it was a huge deal. This was pre-peak TV, with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and early Homeland sucking up all the critical oxygen. Then came this dark, brooding, David Fincher-directed streaming drama, and just like that Netflix became a prestige player and streaming television became the kind of thing you could bring home to your parents (or the TV Academy). Now the series is coming to an end under the most unceremonious of circumstances, writes Michael O'Connell:

    The sixth and final season of House of Cards, which stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as a ruthless beltway couple, will run its last 13 episodes in 2018. Executive producers Melissa James Gibson and Frank Pugliese, who replaced exiting creator Beau Willimon last year, are both expected to return as co-showrunners.

    Official word on its conclusion, which has been in the works since the summer, comes at a problematic time for Spacey. The star and executive producer is embroiled in sexual assault scandal, with an actor alleging that Spacey made aggressive advances towards him when he was just 14. Spacey responded, in turn, by apologizing for "inappropriate drunken behavior" and coming out as gay. Neither the apology nor the admission have been met with a positive response. Full story.

    + WHAT'S NEXT FOR THE SHOW The final runs of Mad Men and Breaking Bad were treated as national events, with critics penning critical appreciations and fans breathlessly guessing what might happen to whom in the end. Will House of Cards get the same treatment now that its star has been tainted by scandal? Hard to say, though Netflix is already exploring ways to keep the train going with multiple spinoff ideas, Bryn Elise Sandberg and Tatiana Siegel write: 

    Spinoff ideas that have been discussed include ones revolving around loyal chief of staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) and the journalists and bloggers who have tried to expose the power couple's criminal behavior, like Janine Skorsky (UnREAL Emmy nominee Constance Zimmer) and her former editor Tom Hammerschmidt (Boris McGiver). Another idea being bandied about is a House of Cards-esque incarnation set against the backdrop of the Wall Street power brokers that wield enormous political clout behind the scenes, such as Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney), the billionaire businessman whose tentacles reach deep into the White House and Congress. 

    One possibility that is not currently on the table is turning House of Cards into a feature film in the vein of hit series such as Sex and the City and Entourage (Game of Thrones also has been discussed as having big-screen potential). "Even if a writer had a great take, it would be done as a two-hour, two-part episode rather than a movie," a source said. "There's just no interest there the way there is at HBO." Full report.

    + DEEP TROUBLES As for Spacey's alleged behavior and subsequent fumbled apology/coming-out announcement, a number of interested parties had things to say. Netflix and HoC producer Media Rights Capital said they were "deeply troubled," and executives from both companies went down to the set in Baltimore to meet with cast and crew. (Spacey was not present.) Series creator Beau Willimon used similar language, calling the accusations "deeply troubling." Meanwhile, the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced that they would no longer be presenting Spacey with the 2017 International Emmy Founders Award as planned. Other prominent commenters: GLAAD, George Takei, and Zachary Quinto

    + FUTURE PROJECTS A still-open question is how the scandal might affect Spacey's upcoming works. Promotion for All the Money in the World is likely to be affected. On top of that, Spacey is set to star as Gore Vidal in Netflix's Gore, an original film shooting in Europe; a 2018 release is planned.  

    Elsewhere in TV...

    November SNL hosts, musical guests announced. Studio 8H will welcome Larry David and Miley Cyrus on Nov. 4; Tiffany Haddish and Taylor Swift on Nov. 11, and Chance the Rapper and Eminem on Nov. 18. 

    + This will be Haddish's first time hosting, solidfying what's been a banner year for her between Girls Trip, a Showtime comedy special, and praise for her work on NBC's now-canceled Carmichael Show.

    + As for Chance, he's been a musical guest before but is graduating to host-only status ... although it's hard to imagine he and Eminem wouldn't team up on something musically. 

    Supergirl debuts new look for villain Reign. The CW superhero drama revealed a first look at the season-three baddie, played by Odette Annable, and it seems the series is taking her mythology in a different direction from the comics.

    Laura Ingraham's Fox News premiere makes headlines. The Ingraham Angle debuted last night with John Kelly as the first big guest. The White House chief of staff raised a lot of eyebrows with his thoughts on the Civil War and Robert E. Lee. Quite a start for Ingraham.

    + In related political TV news, late-night had a lot to say about Mueller Monday. The usual suspects — Colbert, Meyers and Noah — all devoted segments to the indictments.  

    ^Did we mention that it's Halloween? You know what that means: all your favorite creepy classics will be playing on TV today, as demonstrated by our handy spooky guide. If you miss the Hocus Pocus marathon, you're banned from this newsletter forever.

    + How and where to stream this year's top horror movies, from Get Out to Split

    USA cancels Playing House after 3 seasons. "We had three beautiful seasons and we wanted to thank you guys," Lennon Parham said in a video message with co-star Jessica St. Clair. The duo had previously discussed plans for a potential season 4 ... perhaps it could find a home somewhere else? 

    Ex-Bachelor staffer sues Warner Bros., show producers for sexual harassment. Becky Steenhoek, a former segment producer on the franchise, has filed a complaint against Warners and five of the show's producers, alleging sexual harassment, hostile work environment, sex discrimination, retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful termination.

    + Steenhoek says she was repeatedly asked "pervasive and persistent sexual inquiries" designed to embarrass her because of her "sexual inexperience and conservative views about sex."

    Nash Bridges writers room, Thirtysomething cast and crew reunions set for ATX Festvial. The formidable former writers of Nash Bridges — including Carlton Cuse (Lost), Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead), John Wirth (Hell on Wheels), Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Pam Veasey (CSI: NY) — will reunite at the Austin festival next June, as will the the creators and cast of thirtysomething.

    ► Chicago P.D. sets Chicago Fire crossover for 100th episode. Not to be left out, the cast of Chicago Med will also appear in P.D.'s two-part 100th episode. NBC has yet to confirm a date for the Dick Wolf-palooza, but P.D. is expected to hit the 100 mark early next year. 

    PBS orders food series No Passport Required from Vox Media. Hosted by chef Marcus Samuelsson, the six episode, hourlong series — which will find the chef traveling America to spotlight the cuisines of immigrant communities — will debut on PBS in 2018. No Passport is one of the first TV projects to originate from Vox Entertainment, the studio arm of the publisher behind The Verge, Recode and SB Nation. All hail the pivot to video

    Endeavor, Chernin pact for TV drama development. The two companies have teamed to develop scripted dramas for a global audience. Chernin Entertainment will produce all projects under the agreement, while Endeavor Content will handle international sales and provide advisory services.

  • Harvey Banned for Life

    Getty Images

    Harvey Weinstein's expulsion from polite society continues gradually but surely, as more and more organizations make official what was already implied: Weinstein's not welcome anymore. The latest such move comes from the Producers Guild of America, writes Gregg Kilday:

    Harvey Weinstein has resigned from the Producers Guild of America, the PGA announced Monday, and is now banned for life from being a member of the organization.

    The guild had voted on Oct. 16 to begin the process of expelling the disgraced mogul, but his expulsion was not immediately effective since the guild, according to its bylaws, was required to go through a termination process. According to its rules, it is required that a member be given 15 days' notice before disciplinary action is taken. But the PGA received notice that rather than face the guild's charges, Weinstein elected to resign his membership.

    The guild released a statement, saying, "In light of Mr. Weinstein’s widely reported behavior — with new reports continuing to surface even now — the Producers Guild’s National Board has voted unanimously to enact a lifetime ban on Mr. Weinstein, permanently barring him from PGA membership. This unprecedented step is a reflection of the seriousness with which the Guild regards the numerous reports of Mr. Weinstein’s decades of reprehensible conduct. Sexual harassment can no longer be tolerated in our industry or within the ranks of Producers Guild membership. As stated previously, the PGA's Officers and National Board of Directors have created the Anti-Sexual Harassment Task Force specifically charged with researching and proposing substantive and effective solutions to combat sexual harassment in the entertainment industry.” Full story.

    Other harassment news...

    + MORE ACCUSERS Four new claims against Weinstein came to light in the New York Times' latest investigative piece, which stretches the timeline back to the 1970s. All the women were on the record; two of the women say he raped or assault them in the '70s; another claimed that Weinstein's lawyer had threatened to "drag [her] through the mud by [her] hair" if she chose to go public. 

    + U.K. POLICE EXPANDS CASE Citing unidentified sources, the Independent newspaper, Press Association and Sky News say London's Metropolitan Police are now investigating allegations by seven women over incidents that reportedly took place from the 1980s to 2015.

    + ANDY DICK FIRED The 51-year-old actor has been dropped from the independent film Raising Buchanan following accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct on set. Two sources detailed Dick’s inappropriate behavior, which included groping people’s genitals, unwanted kissing/licking and sexual propositions of at least four members of the production. It’s unclear if those involved were actors or crew. In an interview with THR, Dick confirmed the news but denied the groping claims. 

    + PARIS PROTESTS POLANSKI Activists disrupted the opening ceremony of a planned retrospective of Roman Polanski's work by the Cinematheque Francsaise as the director appeared to present his latest film, Based on a True Story. The activists entered the theater bare-chested with slogans reading “VIP – Very Important Pedocriminal” painted across their backs and chanted “No honor for the rapists” as Polanski signed autographs. 

    + L.A. MARCH PLANNED A "Take Back the Workplace" march to protest sexual harassment is planned for Sunday, Nov. 12, in Hollywood. Hundreds on Facebook have said they were going or were interested.

    Elsewhere in film...

    Sony film unit posts $68 million in quarterly profit. Sony Corp. raised its full-year profit forecast to a record $5.6 billion following a strong quarter for the pictures division, driven partly by the strong global performances of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Baby Driver

    Rose McGowan arrest warrant issued in relationship to drug charge. "An arrest warrant has been obtained for the actress for felony possession of a controlled substance," the Associated Press reports. "The felony charge stems from a police investigation of personal belongings left behind on a United flight arriving at Washington Dulles International Airport on Jan. 20."

    Pet Semetary movie finds its directors. Yet another Stephen King adaptation is getting set to hit theaters as Paramount announced today that directors Dennis Widmyer and Kevin Kolsch (Starry Eyes, MTV’s Scream) have been tapped to helm the upcoming Pet Semetary film. 

    Failed Fyre Fest getting documentary treatment. Billboard has teamed with The Cinemart and Mic to develop a multi-part documentary covering the infamously failed music festival. The untitled docuseries will examine the currently ongoing investigation into the supposed "luxury" music fest, which had been set to occur on a private Bahamian island until production fell apart.

    ^Christina Aguilera to honor Whitney Houston with a Bodyguard tribute at the American Music Awards. Dick Clark Productions and ABC announced that Aguilera will honor the late singer and her film with a tribute featuring songs from The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album. Viola Davis will introduce Aguilera at the show, slated to air live on Sunday, Nov. 19, on ABC. 

    Amazon Studios plots move to Culver Studios. While the mothership is still on the hunt for a suitable location for HQ2, Amazon's Los Angeles entertainment arm has announced it would move into Culver Studios by the end of the year. The new location has a long history in the entertainment industry, serving as the filming location for Citizen Kane, E.T., Gone With the Wind and The Matrix, among other films.

    + Take that, Apple: The Financial Times previously reported that Apple was also eyeing the property for its growing video effort.

    Vanessa Morrison takes on new role as president of Fox Family. Having served as president of Fox Animation since 2007, Morrison is now moving into a new role at Twentieth Century Fox Film, where she will serve as president of Fox Family, a newly created division that will develop and produce films aimed specifically at family audiences.

    + As part of her new role, she will also oversee a ramp-up of the studio’s family animated television business as well as feature film extensions, including the recently announced Bob’s Burgers film. Her old post at the animation division will be filled by newly minted co-presidents Andrew Miloro and Robert Baird.

    Thor: Ragnarok, Aquaman fuel record $1B production spend in Australia. Foreign projects such as the Marvel and DC tentpoles spent a total of $468 million on production in the country, resulting in a record fiscal year. Films produced there also included Pacific Rim: Uprising as well as well TV productions like HBO’s The Leftovers.

    AFM: Heather Graham's directorial debut finds North American home. Arclight Film will be handling worldwide sales on Half Magic — written, directed and toplined by the Boogie Nights and Bowfinger star — and will screen the completed film to buyers at the American Film Market. A deal for North America was struck ahead of the market, with eOne's Momentum Pictures imprint set to release the film in February. 

  • Another Watergate 'Scandal'

    Courtesy of The Watergate Hotel

    Conspiracy, theft, dirty tricks, scandal. Before these themes became recurring plotlines in film and television shows, they were a real life snapshot of the goings on at The Watergate Hotel in June 1972. On the heels of the 45th anniversary of our nation’s biggest political scandal, one of Washington D.C.’s most chic and infamous addresses is making headlines again, writes Melinda Sheckells: 

    The historic Watergate Hotel recently unveiled a remodel of Watergate Scandal Room 214, envisioned by Scandal costume designer Lyn Paolo. This is the hotel room where E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy stationed themselves as a team of burglars attempted a break-in at the Democratic National Committee in The Watergate Complex.

    The hotel, which reopened in 2016 after a $125 million renovation and celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, takes a tongue in cheek approach to its sordid past. Keycards are inscribed with the phrase “no need to break in”; the phone number is a play on the break-in date, 1-844-617-1972; and expect to hear Nixon speeches as the hold music. For trivia buffs, during the remodel the room number was changed to 205, although it is still referenced as 214.

    Now it offers a chance — with a starting price tag of $800 per night — to spend some time in a location where history was made. And for those who love the ABC television show Scandal starring Kerry Washington, it’s an opportunity to see Paolo’s work up close and celebrate its final season, which debuted in early October. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — Greta Gerwig is a director, not a muse. Noreen Malone writes: "Maybe it was because of her sexy dirndl skirt of a name, maybe because of her squinting physical resemblance to indie Gen-X avatar Chloë Sevigny, maybe simply because of her distinctive delivery. But since the very beginning of Gerwig’s career, she has been a generational lightning rod of sorts." [Vulture]

    — Museums are ready for the next natural disaster. Eleanor Cummins writes: "Museums are leading the charge when it comes to bolstering up in the face of extreme weather — after all, financially speaking, they might have the most to lose." [Wired]

    — The Year of Cardi B. Brittany Spanos writes: "She went from stripping to becoming the breakout star of 2017. So what's she worried about?" [Rolling Stone]

    — How Eleven became the worst part of Stranger Things. Ira Madison III writes: "Millie Bobby Brown’s psychokinetic badass was one of the best parts of the Netflix series’ first season. But in Season 2, her story falls short." [Daily Beast]

    The Good Doctor is the perfect show for anyone who feels like an outsider, marginalized, or misunderstood. Hanh Nguyen writes: "ABC's medical series is more than an inspirational story about a doctor with autism." [IndieWire]

    — Alec Baldwin breaks his silence about James Toback. Baldwin tells Glenn Whipp: "I never had one conversation with Jimmy about his sex life." [Los Angeles Times]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Guest host Shaq interviews Mila Kunis." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Nathan Fielder brought Susan Sarandon as a back-up guest." [Conan]

    + "Billy Eichner is a banana who hates the president." [Late Show]

    + "Jimmy surprises Blake Shelton with a serenade of 'I'll Name the Dogs.'" [Tonight Show]

    Today's Birthdays: Willow Smith, 17, Piper Perabo, 41, Vanilla Ice, 50, Mike O'Malley, 51, Dermot Mulroney, 54, Rob Schneider, 54, Peter Jackson, 56, Jane Pauley, 67, Dan Rather, 86.

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