What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:15 AM 5/15/2018

by THR staff

'BlacKkKlansman' press conference in Cannes with Spike Lee, Adam Driver etc - H 2018
Courtesy of Getty Images

What's news: Spike Lee wowed and Lars Von Trier bewildered (and outraged) festgoers at Cannes. Plus: The Deadpool 2 review embargo lifts (good news for Ryan Reynolds so far), NBCU and Fox spin advertisers in New York and Warner Bros. shakes up its exec ranks. — Erik Hayden

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  • Spike's Big Splash

    In his long-awaited return to the Croisette, Spike Lee drew a 10-minute ovation at the world premiere of his latest film, BlacKkKlansman, Chris Gardner and Gregg Kilday write:

    The evening was poised to be dramatic if not redemptive given that Lee was famously overlooked for the Palme d'Or in 1989 for Do the Right Thing. And the final sequence of BlacKkKlansman was one of the most emotional finales to screen in Cannes in recent memory, splicing in real footage from the events in Charlottesville.

    Although the film is set in the early '70s, Lee commented, "Our job as filmmakers and as storytellers was to connect this period piece to the present day." Audience reaction I Spike's presser I Trailer unveiled. 

    + Winning critics so far: Hollywood Reporter: "Spike Lee’s most flat-out entertaining film in quite a long time, as well as his most commercial." New York: "Stylish, hilarious, and utterly uncompromising." The Guardian: "Broad and unsubtle, but hits its targets effectively." Vanity Fair: "Takes some broad strokes - but there’s a grander and subtler commentary being made, too."


    + Lars Von Trier's Cannes return sparks walkouts. Alex Ritman writes: When Lars von Trier walked into the Palais well past 10 p.m. on Monday night, the Danish filmmaker — making his first appearance at the Cannes Film Festival since 2011 when his controversial press conference comments led to a seven-year ban — was greeted by a generous standing ovation. 

    The cheers soon turned to groans as several audience members fled for the exits in the middle of von Trier's world premiere of The House that Jack Built, playing out of competition. The film stars Matt Dillon as Jack, a serial killer who views his murders as elaborate works of art and the cast includes Siobhan Fallon Hogan (pictured above with Von Trier and Dillon). Full story I Film review. 

    Elsewhere in film... 

    ? Fox's Deadpool 2 review embargo lifts. And critics are liking it so far, the title boasts an 83 percent Rotten Tomatoes score from 76 reviews counted. 

    + Early takes: Hollywood Reporter: "Another laugh-stuffed remedy for superhero fatigue." L.A. Times: "Churns out overly familiar eccentricity." Rolling Stone: "Smart-ass superhero returns in superior sequel." EW: "Might not be exactly the sequel we need, but it feels like the one we deserve."

    ? Meryl Streep to star in Panama Papers film. The screen legend will topline The Laundromat, a drama that Steven Soderbergh will direct. No distribution is on board but sources say that Netflix is eyeing it.

    ? Universal finds writer for Fast 9. Daniel Casey has been tapped to pen the latest installment of the billion-dollar franchise, becoming the first new writer on the movie series in over a dozen years. 

    ? Quoted: "Would you put in a good word for me? Oh my god, I’ll bring you to a party tonight if you’ll get me into a Tarantino film." Jane Fonda, speaking with Tarantino collaborator Michael Madsen, at L’Oreal’s Worth It event in Cannes. ?

    ^This year's Cannes photo portfolio. While on the Croisette, the Everybody Knows team — Javier Bardem, Ricardo Darin and Penelope Cruz — posed for THR portraits along with Cate Blanchett, Carey Mulligan, Simon Kinberg and more. Full gallery.

    ? Warner Bros. exec shake-up. After a three-decade career, WB Pictures distribution executive Veronika Kwan Vandenberg is leaving the studio. The move comes as worldwide theatrical distribution president Ron Sanders and worldwide marketing president Blair Rich remake the division.

    ? Kevin Hart to star in Uptown Saturday Night remake. Will Smith, who at one time was circling the project as a possible starring vehicle, is set to produce via his Overbrook banner. Black-ish creator Kenya Barris wrote the most recent draft of the movie that is set up at Warner Bros.

    ? CBS Films lands Willem Dafoe's Van Gogh drama. Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) directed the film, At Eternity's Gate, about the doomed artist behind such iconic works as The Starry Night.

    ? Amazon Studios' Suspiria lands awards release. Luca Guadagnino's remake of the cult Italian horror film, the director's follow up to Call Me By Your Name, will get a Nov. 2 theatrical debut. 

    *R.I.P., Margot Kidder. The film and television actress, perhaps best known for her role as Lois Lane on 1978's Superman, died on Sunday. She was 69. Full obit. 

    Also: Lamborghini biopic to be co-financed with blockchain tech. In a deal unveiled at Cannes, the film, starring Antonio Banderas and Alec Baldwin, is now being backed by new blockchain-based social entertainment outfit TaTaTu. Details. 

  • "That's So New Fox..."

    On Monday, NBC's Steve Burke and Fox execs Gary Newman and Dana Walden made their annual pitch to advertisers and touted their television offerings in New York. Here was their newest pitch: 

    New Fox Spin | Sure, ratings at Fox may have fallen an additional 21 percent this season, only 12 percent ignoring sports, but that wasn’t the pitch from the Beacon stage. Instead, execs Gary Newman and Dana Walden (pictured with Fergie above at the upfront) focused on how young (a half-decade younger than that of ABC; a full decade younger than that of CBS) and social (225 million fans strong) the network is. At one point, Newman joked of a stat he had just uttered: "That’s so New Fox, I don’t even know what it means." Neither did his audience. Full scorecard. I Fox trailers. 

    NBCU Spin | With the annual promise of a "one-stop shop," NBCU chief Steve Burke rattled off reasons ad buyers should give him their money with a list of superlatives that came almost too quickly to fact-check. Many, like NBC’s No. 1 status in primetime five years running, are unassailable. Others, including Today and Nightly News as No. 1 in the morning and evening, respectively, come with caveats: Today is No. 1 for the season, but has endured a challenge from ABC’s Good Morning America of late; and Lester Holt’s news broadcast was topped by ABC’s World News Tonight in March in the critical 25-54 news demo. Full scorecard. I NBC trailers.

    Elsewhere in TV... 

    ? ABC renews Agents of SHIELD. The network has ordered an abbreviated 13-episode sixth season renewal to the Marvel title, which has averaged a 1.2 in the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic and nearly 4M total viewers. 

    ? Warner Bros. orders Greg Berlanti's Doom Patrol. DC Universe, the forthcoming subscription digital service from WB Digital Networks, has handed out a 13-episode, straight-to-series order for a live-action scripted drama based on DC Comics' title. 

    ? Fox enlists Jennifer Love Hewitt for 911. The actress will help fill the void on the Fox drama created by star Connie Britton, who had a one-year deal with the Tim Minear-led procedural.

    ? Quoted: "They don't want to know. In fact, there's great comfort that comes from not having this arbitrary apples to oranges measurement against other things on television." — Netflix exec Ted Sarandos, saying that Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes won't care about viewership stats. ?

    ^Fox's Lethal Weapon fallout: Damon Wayans shared a graphic video from an incident on the set during an episode directed by ousted co-star Clayne Crawford. In it, Wayans can be seen getting struck in the back of his head by shrapnel. Full story.

    + CBS' NCIS claims. Following her final episode on NCIS on May 8, Pauley Perrette explained over the weekend that she left the CBS show after "multiple physical assaults." In a series of tweets, Perrette, who starred on the series for 15 seasons as Abby Sciuto, tweeted about a "machine" keeping her silent.

    ? Sundance TV cancels Hap and Leonard. Showrunner John Wirth thanked those involved with the drama while also confirming the cancellation of his series that ran for a total of 18 episodes. Season three wrapped in April with 220,000 total live-same-day viewers.

    ? ESPN and Netflix partner on Michael Jordan doc series. The Last Dance, slated to premiere in 2019, will follow Jordan's stunning rise during the 1990s, the success of the Chicago Bulls and the simultaneous increase in popularity for the NBA.

    ? Freeform picks up Pretty Little Liars spinoff. The younger-skewing Disney-owned cable network has handed out a 10-episode series order for The Perfectionists. The series is expected to debut in 2019. 

    IFC leadership change in the works. President and GM Jennifer Caserta has been named chief transformation officer at parent AMC Networks. As part of the move, IFC exec Blake Callaway has been tapped to serve as exec vp and acting GM of the niche comedy-themed cabler. Details.


  • Summer Reading

    Looking for some beach novels? Andy Lewis has sifted through anticipated titles to find a dishy Sumner Redstone bio, a Parks and Rec star's essays, an unusual David Lynch memoir and a former president's novel (with James Patterson). Full preview.

    What else we're reading...

    "How to turn failure into Billions." Chris Kornelis writes: "On The Moment, hitmakers tell writer, producer and showrunner Brian Koppelman how they overcame rejection on the way to success." [Wall Street Journal]

    "A comic force of nature." David Kamp reviews Dave Itzkoff's biography of Robin Williams: "as definitive an account as we’re ever likely to have of the man." [New York Times]

    "Bomani Jones has a funny joke for you." Eve L. Ewing's profile: "How did an economics major with a small radio show became one of the country's sharpest and most influential voices on sports, race, and everything in between?" [GQ]

    "Who can replace Hugh Grant as king of romcoms?" Lucy Mangan writes: "The Notting Hill star is, in his own words, ‘older and uglier’ and ready to play more interesting parts." [The Guardian]

    "The new Hollywood Speed Racer didn't see coming." David Sims looks back: "The Wachowskis’ bizarre 2008 adaptation of the ’60s anime was a paean to creative freedom - that bombed at the box office." [The Atlantic]

    Today's birthdays: Jamie-Lynn Sigler, 37, David Krumholtz, 40, Grant Heslov, 55, Rod Lurie, 56, Dan Patrick, 62, Brian Eno, 70.