What's news: John Oliver's campaign against Dustin Hoffman gets kudos from the actor's accusers. Plus: Ridley Scott disses the Star Wars franchise formula, MoviePass has big ambitions, John Mayer figures out The Accountant and our critics list the worst TV shows of 2017. — Ray Rahman
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The saga continues: One day after the John Oliver spoke out about his confrontation with Dustin Hoffman, the actor's accusers thanked Oliver for putting himself at “risk” to defend their claims, writes Lexy Perez:
Seven Dustin Hoffman accusers penned a letter Wednesday thanking John Oliver for confronting the actor over their allegations, which include claims of Hoffman's sexually harassing them in earlier years.
“We want to thank you for confronting Dustin Hoffman,” the women wrote. “While the questions you asked may not have led to the constructive conversation you hoped for, the fact that you asked them at all is what matters most.” They also emphasize that while men listen and believe women when they “recount” their experiences with sexual assault and harassment, “few men put themselves at risk” to influence change, as Oliver did. Full story.
Elsewhere in film...
? Chance the Rapper has some thoughts on Bright: Chance sparked something of a film-club debate on Twitter when he began asking his followers their thoughts on Netflix's new, generally panned Will Smith flick. "Wondering how you guys are feeling about the lynched ork [sic] in #Brightmovie," Chance asked his followers, adding that using "mythical creatures" to express America's racial issues in the film is "a little shallow." See his full critique here.
+ Will director David Ayer respond? He's done so before.
? MoviePass surges: The movie-ticket service announced that it's signed up more than one million subscribers in just four months, a growth rate faster than Netflix's first three years, according to a New York Times report.
+ But it wants your data: “The real treasure in this venture is the trove of data about consumer tastes and habits that MoviePass can collect. It hopes to sell that data to studio marketers.”
+ Millennials are in: "About 75 percent of MoviePass users are millennials, a group that Hollywood has struggled to turn into avid moviegoers.”
+ But exhibitors are still skeptical: “‘We appreciate their business,’ Adam Aron, AMC’s chief executive, said on a conference call with analysts last month. But Mr. Aron added, ‘AMC has absolutely no intention — I repeat, no intention — of sharing any — I repeat, any — of our admissions revenue or our concessions revenue.’ Regal, the No. 2 multiplex chain, has said it will take a ‘wait and see’ approach.”
? Disneyland blackout: Disneyland suffered a power outage on Wednesday, hindering many of the park's main operations, including Toontown and Fantasyland. Power was eventually “fully restored” later in the evening. See images from the scene.
^Baby Driver editing secrets: How'd they get those epic car scenes just right? Thanks to one fearless editor, writes Carolyn Giardina. When editor Paul Machliss was on location cutting Edgar Wright’s high-octane Baby Driver, it was probably "the only time you had to wear a safety jacket while editing," he says, joking, "though I always said editing is a very dangerous business." Full story.
? The Mom and Dad trailer is here: Nicolas Cage and Selma Blair star in the absolutely crazy preview of a movie in which parents go to war against their kids, from the director of the Crank films.
? Ridley Scott lets loose: In an interview with Vulture, the All the Money in the World director shared his very unfiltered thoughts on a variety of topics.
+ Getting the most attention is his response to whether he's been asked to direct a Star Wars film: "No, no. I’m too dangerous for that. Because I know what I’m doing. I think they like to be in control, and I like to be in control myself. When you get a guy who’s done a low-budget movie and you suddenly give him $180 million, it makes no sense whatsoever. It’s fuckin’ stupid."
? Is Ben Affleck's The Accountant a Batman origin story? John Mayer thinks so: "It’s a Bruce Wayne origin story,” the musician tweeted. “We see that he is both trained in fighting and accounting. His father was shot. His trailer/storage space is the first bat-cave. He is beginning to acquire great wealth. His brother will become his arch nemesis.” He's got a point.
Tim Goodman and Daniel Fienberg sift through the dreck, the colossal disappointments and the major miscalculations of the year, so you don't have to.
Marvel’s Iron Fist (Netflix) I purposefully left off this list any broadcast network series precisely because it would be too easy to populate it with that level of fare — or require one with 100 entries. Better to point out when bigger, more expensive, better-pedigreed or prestige-oriented shows that should do better end up failing. In this case, it's not like Marvel is overly concerned with greatness, but it had the resources and ambition to do better than this inanimate, directionless, banal offering. — Tim Goodman
Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS) The wisest thing the crowd did, it turns out, was largely ignore this show. Almost nothing associated with Wisdom was an especially good idea, including encouraging Jeremy Piven to play the lead role at his most sincere. Piven was miscast, the rest of the actors misused. — Daniel Fienberg See the full list.
Elsewhere in TV...
? Rocky times at NBC: Despite rising fortunes at MSNBC and higher Today show ratings post-Lauer, a Financial Times analysis of the Peacock's future is full of doubt, pointing out "steeper declines among the 25-to-54 demographic."
+ Key quote from former CBS News president Andrew Heyward: “The fundamental challenge for television news is how to attract, engage and retain the next generation of news consumers. That challenge was there yesterday and will be there tomorrow. Who is sitting in the [presenter’s] chair matters less.”
? BuzzFeed fires White House reporter. The company parted ways with White House reporter Adrian Carrasquillo, saying that he sent an inappropriate message to a colleague. The termination followed a warning by the company to cease a pattern of sending inappropriate messages to colleagues, according to a source with knowledge of the situation. Full story.
? Fox News fends off Breitbart online: Politico reports on how Fox News' online presence is beefing up staff and resources to compete with digital competitors like Breitbart. Still, it's one arena where CNN wins: Fox News.com "usually comes in behind rival CNN.com, which boasts a staff about six times larger than Fox’s, with 600 employees. In October, CNN digital reached 119 million unique users" compared to Fox's 96 million.
? The most entertaining between-Christmas-and-New Year’s Eve cable-news event so far: CNN’s coverage of an unmarked white truck that moved back and forth solely to obstruct journalists from filming Trump golfing. This is what the slow between-holidays news week is all about, ladies and gentlemen.
^The women of Black Mirror. All six new episodes of Charlie Brooker's dystopian Netflix anthology (launching Friday) feature female protagonists. "Why not?" says executive producer Annabel Jones. Read our interview with her here.
? FX orders Ryan Murphy's Pose: The 1980s-set dance musical, which has already made American TV history by featuring the most ever trans series regular actors in a series, will get an eight-episode series order, with FX eyeing a summer 2018 debut. The show star Evan Peters, Kate Mara and James Van Der Beek; Tatiana Maslany is no longer attached after her role was reimagined during production on the pilot. Read more.
? Password sharers are on notice: Ever use a friend or parent's HBO GO password? According to a new Bloomberg report, cable companies and networks are looking to shut you down soon: "Tom Rutledge has had enough. The chief executive officer of Charter Communications Inc., which sells cable TV under the Spectrum name, is leading an industrywide effort to crack down on password sharing. It’s a growing problem that could cost pay-TV companies millions of subscribers — and billions of dollars in revenue — when they can least afford it."
? In THR, Esq: Iliza Shlesinger's girls-only show sparks lawsuit. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" is a quote that comes from George Orwell, but also from the attorney of a 21-year-old California man who's suing the comedian after being turned away from a girls-only standup show. The lawyer's 14-page complaint goes on to say his client is a victim of the comedian's "war on men." Read more.
From bike trips across the U.S. to existential escapes that never happen, this year had some pretty amazing comics, writes Graeme McMillan:
Best Mainstream Superhero Series: Batman by Tom King, Mikel Janin, Clay Mann, Lee Weeks, et al. If you read one Batman comic this year, it should be Batman Annual No. 2, which is a love story between the Dark Knight and Catwoman, and likely to break your heart just a little bit. But that issue is just part of King’s masterful undoing of the emotional lockdown of Bruce Wayne, which has included an engagement to Catwoman, an exploration of his friendship with Superman, and a flashback to what he believes is his biggest failure as a superhero.
Best Nonfiction: You & A Bike & A Road by Eleanor Davis. Sometimes, it’s the small things that count, and Davis’ travelogue of a cycle trip between states — from her parents house back home, off-road and by bicycle — is a celebration of that impulse, focusing on the tiny triumphs and the frailties of us all in such a way as to turn a specific experience into something universal, and charmingly heartwarming. See the full list.
What else we're reading...
— "Why every pop star wants a piece of Starrah." Joe Coscarelli writes: "With hits for Drake, Rihanna and Maroon 5, an intensely private woman is the secret queen of streaming." [New York Times Magazine]
— "The latest Taylor Swift 'controversy' at the end of 2017 really sums up her year." Emily Yahr's analysis begins innocently enough: "Two weeks ago, on her 28th birthday, Taylor Swift posted a picture to Instagram that her guitarist took during a recent show at an arena in London." [Washington Post]
— "America's anxious times made it a banner year for villains and bad guys in movies and TV." Jeffrey Fleishman writes: "In an era when men from Hollywood to Congress are being called to task for generations of discrimination, sexual harassment and holding power, our latest round of miscreants tend to be white, some born of privilege, others not." [L.A. Times]
— "Why is the sexual harassment rate so high in the restaurant industry?" Lauren Kaori Gurley writes: "Perhaps no other industry rivals Hollywood in profits made by men off of women's beauty, charm and sex appeal." [Pacific Standard]
— "When #MeToo becomes #YouToo." Erin Gloria Ryan writes: "The entities that enabled sexual harassers are now charged with cleanup. But will their pursuit of symbolic victories and ‘zero-tolerance’ policies cause more problems?" [Daily Beast]
— "What can dislodge Tencent as king of videogames?" Jacky Wong writes: "Predicting the success of videogames is a bit like predicting how movies will fare - much relies on the fickle winds of public taste. How, then, has China’s Tencent - now the world’s largest games company - survived and prospered?" [Wall Street Journal]
What else we're hearing...
+ "Kara Swisher reviews the media, 2017 edition." Swisher and Kafka discuss how journalism and tech are doing in the year of Donald Trump's presidency. [Recode Media With Peter Kafka]
+ "Paul Thomas Anderson on filmmaking, loving Adam Sandler, Phantom Thread, and making Boogie Nights." Bill Simmons interviews the director. [The Bill Simmons Podcast / The Ringer]
+ "Maggie Haberman" Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg talks to the New York Times reporter about her career, tabloids and covering Trump. [The Atlantic Interview]
Today's Birthdays: Sienna Miller, 36, André Holland, 38, Noomi Rapace, 38, John Legend, 39, Joe Manganiello, 41, Seth Meyers, 44, Gayle King, 63, Denzel Washington, 63, Maggie Smith, 83, Stan Lee, 95.