What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:31 AM 10/6/2017

by THR Staff

Christian Alminana/Getty Images

What's news: Is this it for Harvey Weinstein? The Weinstein Co. board is expected to reconvene its emergency meeting today to deal with the fallout from the New York Times investigation. Plus: New details in a Roger Ailes lawsuit, Sally Field is returning to television and Universal pulls Bride of Frankenstein from its schedule. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman. 

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  • Weinstein's Reckoning

    An explosive investigation by The New York Times paints a toxic picture of one of Hollywood's most notorious film executives. It also brings to light many long-standing rumors about Harvey Weinstein's conduct, both in the office and outside, Chris Gardner writes: 

    + The initial Times exposé. Bylined by investigative reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, it opens with Ashley Judd's account that she had been sexually harassed in a hotel room at the Peninsula Beverly Hills two decades ago. By naming him, Judd confirms that a story published in Variety two years ago on this exact date was about Weinstein. The Times reports that in total, eight women shared stories similar to Judd's, that Weinstein had a pattern of alleged misconduct.

    + The initial Weinstein statement. In a rambling, several grafs long response published after the Times report, the mogul said "I came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then. I have since learned it’s not an excuse, in the office — or out of it. To anyone." He then cited a Jay-Z lyric (not accurately) and turned his focus on campaigning against the National Rifle Association and President Trump.

    But then...

    + Weinstein's lawyer says he's suing the Times. The mogul's attorney Charles Harder (who represented Hulk Hogan in the fight against Gawker) said he's preparing a lawsuit against the paper, claiming "The New York Times published today a story that is saturated with false and defamatory statements about Harvey Weinstein." The Times defended the report, saying "We are confident in the accuracy of our reporting."

    + Weinstein defends himself in Page Six interview. Hours after the Times piece broke, Weinstein granted an interview to Page Six editor Emily Smith that is nearly as incendiary as the day's earlier news. While he admitted some responsibility for his misconduct, he doubled down on his threats to file a lawsuit: “What I am saying is that I bear responsibility for my actions, but the reason I am suing is because of the Times’ inability to be honest with me, and their reckless reporting. They told me lies."

    + Weinstein Co. board calls emergency meeting. On Thursday evening, the board of The Weinstein Co. was said to have met to address the situation involving the mogul, who told the Times he is taking a leave of absence. Multiple sources say that the story has emboldened Weinstein's brother, Bob Weinstein, who serves as co-chairman, and David Glasser, the COO, to take control of the board, under one proposal being discussed. The board is expected to reconvene today. 

    The fallout...

    + Will USC accept Weinstein's women's program donation? Harvey Weinstein’s response Thursday to the investigation ended by announcing: “One year ago, I began organizing a $5 million foundation to give scholarships to women directors at USC. While this might seem coincidental, it has been in the works for a year. It will be named after my mom and I won’t disappoint her.” In light of the claims, USC declined to respond whether it would continue the relationship. 

    + Politicians give away Weinstein donations. A spokesperson for Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich's re-election campaign said that a $5,400 donation from Weinstein in April has been given to a New Mexico non-profit organization that offers a 24-hour hotline for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Sen. Patrick Leahy has also given away a campaign donation from Weinstein.

    + How does it affect the Weinstein Co. film slate? The controversy now surrounding Weinstein caps a bumpy two years for TWC's film operation, which has endured a tough stretch at the box office. Notable exceptions are Wind River, now in theaters, Lion and The Hateful Eight. TWC's upcoming slate includes The Current War (Nov. 24), an industrial-age drama starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Thomas Edison and Michael Shannon as George Westinghouse; Paddington 2 (Jan. 2); The Upside (March 9); and Mary Magdalene (March 30).

    + Weinstein had been adapting his lawyer's book for TV. Lisa Bloom, the attorney advising Weinstein in the wake of the exposé, is also on The Weinstein Co.'s payroll for an upcoming docuseries. Bloom's 2014 book Suspicion Nation is one of two titles being used as source material for the TWC-produced docuseries Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ► MGM gives Gary Barber five-year contract extension. The chairman and CEO's new deal runs through December 2022. Barber first joined the studio in 2010 and has grown its film and TV businesses and expanded its distribution footprint.

    ► Universal postpones Bride of Frankenstein remake. Originally slotted for Feb. 2019, the Bill Condon-helmed monster movie has been removed from the studio's release schedule. "None of us want to move too quickly," the studio said. 

    Fast and Furious spinoff gets 2019 release date. The spinoff film intended to be a starring vehicle for Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham is now officially on Universal's calender with a July 26, 2019 opening.

    ► Channing Tatum's Gambit finds its director. Gore Verbinski, the director behind the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films, is in talks to helm the X-Men spinoff with Tatum attached to star.

    ^Trailer: Molly's Game. Jessica Chastain stars in the film, which premiered in Toronto, as a skier who ran the world's most exclusive high-stakes poker game for a decade before being arrested. Watch I Film review.

    + STXfilms is moving Molly's Game from a Thanksgiving to a Christmas release date. The Aaron Sorkin-directed drama will have a limited release on Dec. 25 and then expand wide on Jan 5.

    Trailer: Replicas. Keanu Reeves brings his family back to life in the first trailer that debuted at Comic Con. Thomas Middleditch and Alice Eve also star. Watch.

    HBO's Spielberg, reviewed. Steven Spielberg spoke at length with director Susan Lacy for her portrait of the man and his career. The takeaway: "Insightful and surprisingly intimate."

    92 countries vie for foreign-language Oscar nod. A record number of nations have submitted to the foreign film category. Haiti, Honduras, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Mozambique, Senegal, and Syria are the first-timers.

    Roadside Attractions nabs Richard Loncraine comedy. The company is partnering with Stage 6 Films for Finding Your Feet's domestic distribution in theaters in spring. Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall and David Hayman star.

    ► George Clooney to get AFI lifetime achievement award. The actor becomes the 46th person to receive the prize, joining the ranks of past honorees Diane Keaton, Morgan Freeman, and Harrison Ford. Details.

  • New Details In Ailes Lawsuit

    Getty Images

    Former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros has new lawyers, and the first order of business is requesting a judge permit her to add the Roger Ailes Estate as a party to her ongoing lawsuit alleging she was emotionally tortured, Eriq Gardner reports: 

    Tantaros, after suffering a setback in her first lawsuit against Fox News claiming sexual harassment, filed a second suit in March. According to her new complaint, Ailes (pictured above with wife, Elizabeth) ordered the hacking of her personal computer and more. Tantaros claims she was terrorized on social media through "sock-puppet" accounts.

    Fox is moving to dismiss. The media giant is denying some accusations while also insisting upon arbitration. Ailes originally was a co-defendant, but after the former Fox News chief died on May 18, he was dropped from the case.

    Late last month, Tantaros had a falling out with her then-attorney, Judd Burstein, who told the court there was an "irretrievable breakdown in the attorney-client relationship." Now appearing in court on behalf of Tantaros is Martha Stolley at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Netflix's Maniac enlists Sally Field. The actress returns to television with a recurring role in the Cary Fukunaga-directed dark comedy, which already boasts Emma Stone and Jonah Hill as stars. 

    Fox buys futuristic medical drama. The network has handed out a put-pilot commitment to Strange Conditions, a medical drama from Empire co-creator Danny Strong and This Is Us duo John Requa and Glenn Ficarra.

    YouTube Red inks deal with Van Toffer's studio. Toffer's Gunpowder & Sky gains exclusive worldwide distribution rights to the subscription streaming service's early slate of original projects. 

    CBS freshman SEAL Team sees solid ratings. The military drama's 8.4M viewers on Wednesday compensated for its dip to a 1.2 rating among adults 18-49. Meanwhile, ABC's Modern Family topped its demo competition among total viewers.

    ^TV bosses reveal favorite euphemisms for "canceled." Chalk it up to millennial coddling or a refusal to admit defeat, but dead shows now go into hibernation while remaining "in consideration." Here are some showrunners thinking up alternatives.

    ► ABC's Scandal premiere saw one key change. The Shonda Rhimes drama opened its final season with some major plot changes, but between all the backroom dealings, there's another that viewers may have missed: the music. Details.

    Amazon/BBC's King Lear casts Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson. The pair will headline a new Shakespeare adaptation set in a fictional present. The project will debut on BBC Two next year.

    Netflix sets Michael B. Jordan superhero family drama. Raising Dion is based on the short film from commercial/music video director Dennis Liu, who also will direct the pilot. Carol Barbee is attached as showrunner.

    CBS' Late Show hashtag raises funds for Puerto Rico. Nick Kroll had encouraged fellow stars to tweet pictures of themselves during their "awkward phase." Colbert revealed last night that the sensation has collected $1M for relief.

    Two casting directors plead no contest in pay-to-play audition scandal. Scott David and Ricki Maslar receive probation and agree to community service to avoid charges of violations against a California labor law.

    In THR, Esq: Sumner Redstone's ex-companion asks court to toss lawsuit. Manuela Herzer's attorneys are asking the court to toss an elder abuse lawsuit against her because he won't testify in support of his claims, according to a heavily redacted motion for summary judgment filed Thursday. Details. 

  • American Film Institute Turns 50

    Austin Hargrave

    Fifty years after its establishment, Patty Jenkins, David Lynch and George Stevens Jr. recall how far AFI has come and the inspiration for the Life Achievement Award. Full storyWill Citizen Kane stay No. 1 on AFI's movie list? 

    What else we're reading... 

    "How Michael Clayton presaged 2017." James Parker's new column: "Ten years after the film’s release, the world has caught up to its bleak vision." [The Atlantic]

    "Michael Shannon won't tone it down." Eric Sullivan's profile: "He has been in more than sixty movies, more than forty plays, and all five seasons of Boardwalk Empire ... Now he’s about to have his biggest year yet." [Esquire]

    "Hollywood's original Gone Girl." Joe McGovern's feature: "In Tinseltown's Golden Age, celebrated screen siren Marie 'The Body' McDonald shocked the nation with her sensational story of being kidnapped." [EW]

    "Guns N' Roses stadium run earns $53 million." Bob Allen reports: "With concerts set in 15 stadiums during the seven-week summer run, the band performed for more than 535,000 fans." [Billboard]

    "Hugh Hefner: the sad secrets of his final years revealed." Stephen Galloway writes: "He'd cultivated his image as a notorious womanizer throughout his life, but he had become an elderly man, living amid the clutter of his past." Full story.

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Morgan Freeman likes the same sci-fi as Stephen." [Late Show]

    + "Michael Fassbender is ready for Carpool Karaoke." [Late Late Show]

    + "Jeff Bridges Breaks into song about King Kong." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    Today's birthdays: Scarlett Byrne, 27, Olivia Thirlby, 31, Jeremy Sisto, 43, Ioan Gruffud, 44, Elisabeth Shue, 54, Les Moonves, 68.