What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:19 AM 3/27/2018

by Ray Rahman

LOBBY HERO - Chris Evans, Michael Cera -Publicity-H 2018
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

What's news: FX's Feud with Olivia de Havilland comes to a conclusion. Plus: 60 Minutes scores huge ratings, Amazon finds its next big show and Chris Evans makes his Broadway debut. — Ray Rahman

  • FX Wins

    A California appeals court has reversed Olivia de Havilland's early court win against the network, writes Ashley Cullins:

    Victory: In a major win for docudrama creators, a California appeals court on Monday ruled that Olivia de Havilland's lawsuit against Ryan Murphy and FX should have been tossed because it's precluded by the First Amendment.

    What happened: The 101-year-old actress sued in June, claiming the series Feud: Bette and Joan makes her seem like a vulgar hypocrite and gossip. Judge Holly Kendig found Feud is protected speech, but also that de Havilland showed a minimal probability of prevailing on the merits of her claims and she allowed the matter to proceed.

    Ryan Murphy: "The reversal is a victory for the creative community, and the First Amendment," the producer said in a statement. "Today's victory gives all creators the breathing room necessary to continue to tell important historical stories inspired by true events. Most of all, it's a great day for artistic expression and a reminder of how precious our freedom remains." Full story.

    U.S. v. AT&T update...

    The death of skinny bundles? That's what Dish programming executive Warren Schlichting testified could be the result of an AT&T-Time Warner merger, thanks to less negotiating power companies like Dish would have against a hypothetical combined company that would own DirecTV.

    "It's easy to imagine someone with this clout saying you need to take all eight [of their networks],” said Schlichting. "That breaks our model." Read more.

    Amazon's big play...

    Cortes: Amazon Studios has handed out a straight-to-series order for a four-hour miniseries based on the saga of legendary conquistador Hernan Cortes, with Javier Bardem set to star.

    Bardem isn’t the only big named attached: Created for television and written by Steven Zaillian (Schindler's List), Cortes is based on the screenplay from the late Dalton Trumbo. Amblin Television and Steven Spielberg will exec produce the miniseries.

    Connie Britton's next big role...

    Dirty John: The actress is set to star in and executive produce the first season of Bravo's Dirty John anthology, based on the popular L.A. Times podcast about "Dirty" John Meehan and his relationship with Debra Newell, who'll be played by Britton.

    Steven Soderbergh does another Starz show...

    Straight to series: The premium cable network has handed out a 10-episode order for the half-hour comedy Now Apocalypse, which hails from the Girlfriend Experience executive producer and is created and exec produced by Gregg Araki. The coming-of-age comedy follows a group of friends in the city who are on various quests pursing love, sex and fame.

    Roseanne talks Roseanne...

    Ready for more? Her updated show hasn't even aired yet, but Roseanne Barr is already looking to the future: “We all want to definitely [do more seasons]. We had such a blast. And it was just so fun to be together again,” she said during a Monday night Paley Center panel. “We remember all the old jokes and all the old things that we used to do and they were so funny and still fun.” Read more.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Netflix's unscripted renewals: The streamer picked up another season of the hit reboot Queer Eye, as well as four other unscripted titles: Dope, Drug Lords, Nailed It! and The Toys That Made Us.

    ...and one scripted renewal: The rebooted Norman Lear comedy One Day at a Time will return for a 13-episode third season for 2019.

    ? Trevor Noah's big deal: Viacom is launching an international production and distribution company with the Daily Show host called Day Zero Productions. The multiyear partnership gives Viacom the first-look rights to Noah’s future projects, be they television, feature films or shortform video content — similar to the deal the company struck last year with Tyler Perry.

    ? Bad Boys finds its villain: The NBC spinoff has cast Zach McGowan, known for The 100 and Shameless, to play the show's main baddie.

    ? Nickelodeon departure: The network and prolific TV producer Dan Schneider — the longtime showrunner of hit TV shows like iCarly, Drake & Josh and Victorious — have opted to end their longtime partnership. Details.

    About that 60 Minutes interview...

    Ratings blockbuster: At least by the show's standards. The Stormy Daniels sitdown drew in the highest audience the program has seen in a decade, topping 22 million viewers during its high-profile porn star interview Sunday night.

    For comparison's sake: Daniels drew in more viewers than Trump's interview episode in 2016 (20 million) but less than Obama's sitdown in 2008 (25 million).

    Galloway: Does TV's Stormy obsession distort what really matters? "Landing an interview with the porn star was a terrific scoop for Anderson Cooper, but it further lowered an already-low bar," writes Stephen Galloway. "It was the kind of thing once reserved for the tabloids, until the dividing line between tabloid and mainstream vanished with the Monica Lewinsky scandal that came to light exactly a quarter-century ago." Read more.

  • Finding 'Carmen Sandiego'

    Gina Rodriguez plans to wear the red fedora, writes Mia Galuppo:

    Carmen Sandiego: Rodriguez will play the iconic '90s character Carmen Sandiego in a live-action adaptation of the franchise for Netflix. Rodriguez will also produce via her I Can and I Will productions.

    The Golden Globe winner seems to have a knack for the role: Rodriguez is also attached to voice star in a rebooted Carmen Sandiego animated series for the streamer that's set to debut next year.

    The next big Broadway adaptation...

    National Lampoon on stage: Producers Ken Davenport and Kurt Deutsch announced that they’ve optioned the rights to develop a musical based on the iconic Vacation film franchise with Warner Bros. Theatre Ventures. According to Davenport, the production, titled Broadway Vacation, will follow Clark Griswold and his family as they touch down for the first time in the heart of New York City’s theater district.

    Former festival director talks Weinstein...

    "Lynch justice": Moritz de Hadeln, the former director of the Berlin and Venice film festivals, is publicly defending disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in a Swiss op-ed, in which he calls Wesintein "one of the few Hollywood producers who truly love film," writing that "no one has done as much for European cinema as he has. … The lynch justice he's now experiencing is just disgusting." 

    Slamming Cannes: "More than anyone else, they should understand the important role that the Weinstein brothers, Harvey in particular, have had in supporting European cinema," he wrote of the Cannes, Berlin and Venice fests. "Banning Harvey means European cinema loses an important trump card, a person...whose expertise has made it possible for many important works to succeed." Read more.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Why isn't there an Aquaman trailer yet? Director James Wan has the answer: "I am simply not ready yet to share. This movie is filled to the gills with VFX, and the process is as slow and laborious as a sea-slug! Yes, even shots for the trailers take forever to do, and I refuse to put out anything that might be construed as subpar."

    He concluded: "I know it seems like nothing much is brewing above the surface, but I can assure you, we’re working nonstop under the waves."

    ? DC's leave of absence: Diane Nelson, president of DC Entertainment and president of Warner Bros. Consumer Products, is taking a leave of absence, as announced by CEO Kevin Tsujihara in a memo to employees. The move comes after Nelson decided to set new priorities for herself and her family in the wake of a series of personal situations. Full memo.

    ? Captain Marvel fills out its cast: And with familiar faces. Perhaps most noteworthy will be the return of Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Coulson. On top of that, Lee Pace will once again play Ronan the Accuser and Djimon Hounsou will reprise Korath the Pursuer.

    ? From Ready Player One to ROM: Screenwriter Zak Penn, who penned Spielberg's upcoming film, has been tapped to adapt the ROM: Spaceknight toy and comic book universe for Hasbro and Paramount.

    ? Whoopi Goldberg teams up with Tiffany Haddish: Goldberg will join her in the upcoming Tyler Perry film The List.

    ? Joe Wright's next movie: The Darkest Hour director is attached to helm The Woman in the Window, a Hitchcockesque chiller with Scott Rudin and Eli Bush producing for Fox 2000 Pictures.

    ? Charlie Says recruits another: Sosie Bacon, star of HBO's Here and Now, is joining Mary Herron's upcoming Charles Manson film in the lead role of Patricia Krenwinkel, considered his right-hand girl. (Krenwinkel is currently the longest-incarcerated female in the California penal system.)

    ? Kevin Bacon's Blumhouse thriller: The actor is teaming up with David Koepp to adapt the Shining-esque You Should Have Left, based on the novel of the same name. Bacon will star and produce while Koepp writes and directs.

  • Chris Evans on Broadway

    Captain America makes his Broadway debut alongside Michael Cera, writes David Rooney:

    Let's get the obvious question out of the way up front: Does Chris Evans cut it in his leap from the superhero universe to the naturalistic comedy-drama of Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero?

    Absolutely. Evans fully inhabits his character of a vain but well-liked New York City career cop on track to make detective, who is quite comfortable rationalizing to himself abuses of power large and small in a profession where gender inequality and toxic masculinity come with the badge. Full review.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Lights, camera, artificial action: Start-up is taking A.I. to the movies." Cade Metz writes: "This new type of artificial intelligence, which is also being developed by the software giant Adobe and in other technology industry research labs, could ultimately replace many of the specialists who build such effects." [New York Times]

    — "Kiddie YouTube: Companies are cashing in on reality TV for tots." Caitlin Harrington writes: "While the strategy carries risks, if it pans out, you could soon see more kids in their own Netflix series or on smartphone apps — or wherever kids are. " [Wired]

    — "How John Legend became the black Jesus we need in Jesus Christ Superstar Live!" Kevin Fallon profiles the singer ahead of the live musical. [Daily Beast]

    — "There's something funny about Tiffany Haddish." Caity Weaver profiles the star on a whale-watching expedition: "By the end of the tour, the white women on the boat will feel so close to Tiffany that one of them will simply reach over and feel her hair without asking permission." [GQ]

    — "Virtual reality is the next battleground for your data." Elissa Redmiles writes: "As the internet-connected world reels from revelations about personalized manipulation based on Facebook data, there’s an even bigger crisis of trust on the horizon." [Daily Beast]

    — "Asexuality is still hugely misunderstood. TV is slowly changing that." Sarah Ghaleb writes: "TV is gradually making room for more asexual characters — but few shows are up to the challenge." [Vox]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Sean Penn's favorite thing about writing: No collaboration." [Late Show]

    + "Tyler Perry refused to let Blue Ivy Carter outbid him on a painting." [Tonight Show]

    + "Zach Quinto was busted for his fake Starbucks name." [Late Late Show]

    From the archives...

    Today in 1968: Planet of the Apes arrives in Los Angeles. “Heston, performing in the buff for the greater portion of the footage, is outstanding in the classic situation of a man pitted against the elements, and, in this case, left to reinstate vestigial human virtues in an animal kingdom that man himself has perverted." Read more.

    Today's Birthdays: Fergie, 43, Nathan Fillion, 47, Mariah Carey, 48, Elizabeth Mitchell, 48, Quentin Tarantino, 55, Stephen Dillane, 61.