What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:05 AM 11/6/2017

by Ray Rahman

Will Heath/NBC

What's news: Thor and his pals smashed weekend ticket totals, adding some much-need spark to the box office after a lifeless October. Plus: Larry David ignites controversy at SNL, Hannity not deemed "impartial" by the U.K. and a death in the Fallon family prompts The Tonight Show to cancel this week's episodes. — Ray Rahman

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  • Did Larry David Go Too Far?


    No, it wasn't Larry David's uncensored, boundary-pushing premium-cable comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm that made headlines and upset various groups this weekend. It was his stint as host on NBC's Saturday Night Live. 

    + The monologue: David took his opening minutes at Studio 8H to make off-color jokes about the recent sexual harassment storyline roiling Hollywood. That's a dicey enough proposition as it is, as prior attempts from James Corden and others have proven, but David brought a new element to it. “I couldn’t help but notice a very disturbing pattern emerging, which is that many of the predators, not all, but many of them are Jews,” David said. This served as a launching point for riffs on who he considered to be good Jewish representatives (Einstein, Salk > Weinstein) as well as dating women at concentration camps.

    + The reaction: Well, let's just say it wasn't uniformly positive. "Awkward," said The New York Times, which added Alec Baldwin's shirtless appearance as Donald Trump into its assessment. The Guardian questioned whether David was "still funny" at all. The AV Club deemed the whole thing a "misfire." "What will it take to make men stop making the wrong jokes about rape?" asked Quartz.

    + The ADL: Perhaps the harshest critique came from the Anti-Defamation League. "He managed to be offensive, insensitive & unfunny all at the same time," tweeted ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. "Quite a feat." 

    + The ratings: And yet ... the numbers were strong, with SNL hitting a season high according to Nielsen's early numbers. David's episode drew in a 4.7 household rating, besting 4.6 for the previous winner, Oct. 14's Kumail Nanjiani episode. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    U.K. media regulator rules that Fox News breached impartiality rules. British media regulator Ofcom said on Monday that Fox News shows hosted by Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson violated the British broadcasting code's impartiality rules. 21st Century Fox pulled the plug on Fox News in the U.K. back in August, but Ofcom said it continues to investigate complains about the network that in before it stopped airing in Britain.

    Lin-Manuel Miranda to receive President's Merit Award at Latin Grammys. To be clear, it’s not from Trump: The award comes from Gabriel Abaroa, president and CEO of the Latin Recording Academy. Miranda will receive the award for “outstanding and numerous contributions to the Latin community” — which is not a yearly honor and has been given only to a very limited group of individuals — during the Latin Grammy telecast, airing Nov. 16 on the Univision Network.  

    Jimmy Fallon takes week off Tonight Show after mother's death. The late-night host's mother Gloria Fallon, who attended her son's first night as the Tonight Show host, died on Saturday at the age of 68. As a result, Tonight Show tapings for the week of Nov. 6 have been canceled.

    + NBC sent the following statement: "On behalf of everyone at NBC, we extend our deepest condolences to Jimmy and all his family at this time of enormous loss. Our hearts go out to Jimmy and everyone else whose lives were so touched by Gloria Fallon’s love, kindness and support." 

    ^Critic's Notebook: Fake punks, Hook and the 'Lost Sister' episode of Stranger Things. The Netflix series took a polarizing detour to Chicago with Eleven meeting a group of punks who resemble the Lost Boys in Hook, writes Daniel Fienberg:

    I thought of Rufio and of Hook a lot when I was watching the season — especially the seventh episode, "The Lost Sister," which has become something of a whipping boy online, the obligatory "but" following a consensus "I really enjoyed the second season…"

    When I watched the episode, I barely paused. It wasn't my favorite episode, but it also didn't slow me down. I thought it was a fun break from the show's normal rhythms and storylines. I missed the interactions with the main narrative, but my greatest disappointment was that somehow the Duffer Brothers took the show to Chicago and didn't make any John Hughes references at all. Read more.

    Diddy isn't Diddy anymore. The man occasionally known as Sean Combs has changed his name once again: The rap mogul and former Making the Band host now wants to be called Brother Love. "I'm just not who I am before," the many-named man said in a video posted to his Twitter. "I'm something different." 

    Former Dodgers announcer Vin Scully says he "will never watch another NFL game." The reason? You guessed it: player protests. "I have overwhelming respect and admiration for anyone who puts on a uniform and goes to war," Scully said during a public interview in Pasadena. 

    + "Obvious followup questions again go unasked," observed NFL journalist Patrick Claybon, suggesting that statements like these should inspire more context from the person asking the question. "You learn about interviewee *and* the interviewer in these situations."

    Rep Sheet Roundup: J.D. McCrary, who will voice young Simba in The Lion King, has signed with ICM Partners ... The Florida Project breakout Brooklynn Prince has signed with UTA … David Nicholls, who is penning Showtime’s Patrick Melrose limited series, has signed with CAA, as has British actor Augustus Prew … Mudbound composer Tamar-kali Brown has signed with First Artists Management. More here.

  • Box Office: 'Thor' Flies High

    Courtesy of Marvel Studios

    The sequel Bad Moms Christmas may not have gotten lucky this weekend, but Greta Gerwig's indie Lady Bird soared at the specialty box office. And, yes, Marvel's Thor was the leader, amassing a muscular global sum, writes Pamela McClintock:

    In an era when many tentpole franchise installments have stalled, director Taika Waitii's Thor: Ragnarok is wielding nothing short of a golden hammer at the box office for Disney and Marvel Studios. The threequel opened to $121 million in North America, 41 percent ahead of 2013's Thor: The Dark World ($85.7 million). Overseas, the event pic grossed $151.4 million in its second weekend for a foreign tally of $306 million and a worldwide haul of $427 million.

    Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird also flew high, taking in $375,612 from four theaters in New York and Los Angeles to score the year's top theater average to date ($93,903). The A24 dramedy boasts a perfect 100 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges and Timothee Chalamet. The previous top average in 2017 belonged to The Big Sick ($84,315), and Lady Bird's average is the best since La La Land, which was released last December ($176,221). 

    Meanwhile, STXfilms' Bad Moms Christmas felt the pinch. The film, hampered by generally bad reviews and a B CinemaScore after deciding to open midweek, posted a weekend gross of $17 million and a five-day debut of $21.6 million. Pre-release tracking services had suggested the follow-up would open in the $25 million-$28 million range. Females made up 82 percent of ticket buyers, while 87 percent of the audience was over the age of 25. Full story.

    + Further Thor reading: How the Ragnarok ending differs from the comics ... The film's writer on the movie's bold final moments ... How the Hulk's time as a gladiator was much sadder in the original story ... Why Ragnarok felt like an extension of Guardians of the Galaxy

    Elsewhere in film...

    Stephen Galloway's latest column: Is a witch hunt brewing? "Most journalists are rushing forward without pause. And in doing so, they're increasingly stretching the limits of what's acceptable to report, breaching the thick wall between gossip and fact." Read more.

    Vice launches Broadly Films to finance female filmmakers. The multimillion-dollar initiative will place an emphasis on providing financing and distribution for projects from Middle Eastern filmmakers. Gloria Steinem, Spike Jonze, Malala Yousafzai and more will serve as mentors. 

    Jon Hamm set to star in supernatural thriller Off Season. Set in the harsh, frozen Canadian tundra, the film centers on a man looking for his elderly father, who mysteriously disappeared. The movie is being produced by Nira Park (Baby Driver) through her Big Talk Pictures and J. Miles Dale (The Shape of Water) through his Demilo Productions banner.  

    Hollywood Film Awards: Gary Oldman, Kate Winslet, Jake Gyllenhaal among winners. James Corden hosted the event, which also saw honors go to Timothee Chalamet, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Mary J. Blige, Joe Wright, Adam Sandler and Angelina Jolie. Full story.  

    + Allison Janney kisses Kate Winslet onstage. Turns out, the MTV Movie Awards isn't the only show to feature high-profile lip-locking.

    ^Will The Weinstein Co.'s Paddington 2 land at Lionsgate? StudioCanal’s lovable Peruvian bear looks like he has — maybe — found a more family-friendly home away from the currently toxic house of the Weinsteins.  

    + Lionsgate is among those expressing interest in the project, a move that would be expected given its growing relationship with StudioCanal. Lionsgate released StudioCanal’s Aardman feature Shaun the Sheep Movie in 2015 and has the animation powerhouse’s hotly anticipated Nick Park-directed Early Man due for release in January.

    Laurence Olivier-Vivien Leigh dual bio in the works. Stephen Galloway is writing a dual biography of Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. A Pact with the Devil: Vivien Leigh, Laurence Olivier and the Romance of the Century will be published by Grand Central Publishing.  

    Judd Apatow hopes The Big Sick makes people more compassionate toward immigrants. Apatow revealed his hopes for the Kumail Nanjiani-starring comedy during our producers roundtable. 

    ► Orlando Bloom speaks out against Hollywood child abuse at Rome Film Fest. “A lot of people are being revealed for who they’ve been and what they are and society is now standing up,” said the actor who was in Italy to promote his new film Romans.

  • About That Surprise Cameo

    Even key members of the Thor: Raganrok team weren't informed of which A-list star had been cast for the surprise cameo, filmed during reshoots, write Aaron Couch and Mia Galuppo:

    Early in the film — spoiler alerts from here, naturally — Thor (Chris Hemsworth) returns to his home in Asgard to discover his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is posing as their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) and enjoying a play. And if you looked closely under the silly wigs and makeup, you'll recognize the actors in the play were Matt Damon as Loki, Chris Hemsworth's older brother Luke Hemsworth as Thor and Sam Neill as Odin. 

    The play-within-a-movie got huge laughs at Ragnarok's Hollywood premiere last month (where Damon was in attendance), and signaled that the film wouldn't mind poking fun at Marvel's ever-sprawling story. The play essentially recapped the ending of 2013's Thor: The Dark World, in which Loki seems to sacrifice himself, only to later be revealed to have taken Odin's throne by impersonating him.

    "I wanted to have an interesting way of returning to see Loki as Odin. Because I don’t know if people would remember him from the end of Thor: Dark World as sitting on the throne," says director Taika Waititi. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — On YouTube kids, startling videos slip past filters. Sapna Maheshwari writes: "The app contains dark corners as videos that are disturbing for children slip past its filters, either by mistake or because bad actors have found ways to fool the YouTube Kids algorithms." [New York Times]

    — The year in push alerts. The staff at Slate on "how the onslaught of breaking news has shaped our lives since Nov. 8, 2016." [Slate]

    — Crystals, puppies, sparkles, rainbows, and rage: Aidy Bryant of SNL talks comedy and style. Anna Silman writes: "Being in Bryant’s presence is an instant mood-booster; she’s like a human heat lamp, radiating good vibes." [The Cut]

    — Amazon snips prices on other sellers' items ahead of holiday onslaught. Laura Stevens writes: "The move allows the retail giant to compete more fiercely with low-cost rivals, but could hurt its relationship with big-name brands, manufacturers and merchants." [Wall Street Journal]

    — The most riveting host in late night (and the most overlooked). Jason Zinoman writes: "Conan O’Brien suddenly seems like not only the sole host in the time slot truly desperate to make you laugh, but also the most willing to take artistic risks." [New York Times]

    — Ty Dolla $ign and the redesign of R&B. Carrie Battan writes: "On his new album, Beach House 3, Ty’s spiritual change is as thorough as the transformation of his genre." [The New Yorker]

    What else we're hearing... 

    + Jenna Fischer: Interview. [WTF With Marc Maron]

    + Sexual harassment in media and politics. [FiveThirtyEight / ESPN]

    What's ahead this week...

    Monday: Rolling Stone: Stories From the Edge debuts on HBO. 

    Tuesday: Stand Up for Heroes event held in NY ... Elton John AIDS Foundation event held in NY ... 30 for 30: Nature Boy debuts on ESPN ... Damnation premieres on USA.

    Wednesday: Dark Hour premieres in L.A. ... THR Next Gen party held in L.A. ... The 51st Annual CMA Awards air on ABC.

    Thursday: SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the Artists Awards held in L.A. ... Mudbound opens AFI Fest in L.A. ... Grey's Anatomy airs 300th episode on ABC

    Friday: Murder on the Orient Express and Daddy's Home 2 hit theaters in wide release ... Sea Oak, Love You More and The Climb pilots drop on Amazon.

    Today's birthdays: Emma Stone, 29, Thandie Newton, 45, Rebecca Romijn, 45, Ethan Hawke, 47, Kelly Rutherford, 49, Gary Goetzman, 65, Sally Field, 71, June Squibb, 88.