What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:06 AM 5/18/2018

by THR Staff

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What's news: Cannes buyers say they don't need Netflix this year. Plus: sifting through the chaos of TV pilot season, behind the battle over dueling Leonard Bernstein biopics, a notable overhaul for YouTube's premium business and an inevitable show that isn't a reality (so far). — Erik Hayden

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  • TV Upfronts Scorecard

    Michael Parmelee/CBS

    For the second year in a row, CBS Television Studios remained atop the studio pack this upfront season, Lesley Goldberg writes: 

    The David Stapf-led studio delivered four shows to CBS and boarded two at its home network from Universal Television (including co-pro FBI, pictured) and a few more from CW partner Warner Bros. TV. Many studios saw upticks this season thanks to co-productions as that becomes the new lay of the land to get a show on an outside network.

    On the flipside, Sony TV had a challenging season with its new executive regime going 0-for-5 among its pilot crop that included former sure-thing L.A.'s Finest. The indie studio's lone new series is ABC's Schooled, which was redeveloped from last season and is a co-production with ABC Studios. Full story. 

    + Series ordered this year: CBS Television Studios: 12 Universal Television: 11 Warner Bros. Television:ABC Studios:20th Century Fox Television:Sony Pictures TV Studios: 1. 

    + Scripted series ordered: 2012: 37 2013: 54 2014: 54 2015: 49 2016: 42 2017: 39 2018: 37.

    + This year: Dramas: 24 Comedies: 13 Single-camera: 5 Multicam: 7. More stats.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    CBS board votes to dilute National Amusements control. The board on Thursday voted in favor of a dividend that would reduce the voting power that Viacom and CBS controlling shareholder National Amusements has at the latter.

    + National Amusements, controlled by Shari Redstone and her ailing father, Sumner, was quick to denounce the move, which CBS had designed in order to prevent a merger with Viacom, which is also controlled by the Redstones. Full story. 

    Showtime orders Kevin Bacon drama. The cabler has handed out a 12-episode series order to the Boston crime drama City on a Hill exec produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Starring Bacon and Aldis Hodge, it will premiere in 2019.

    Amazon picks up Jordan Peele Nazi drama. Drawing from real-life events, the 10-episode hourlong series will tell the story of a group of Nazi hunters living in New York City in 1977. David Weil created the series, which is being produced by Peele.

    ► MTV suspends Catfish over misconduct claims. The cabler has halted production on the reality series following allegations of sexual misconduct made against exec producer and host Yaniv "Nev" Schulman, with an investigation pledged.

    Sony Crackle lays off employees. Among the 12 staffers let go at the ad-supported streaming service were two senior level executives within the digital media sales division, part of a larger merging of teams. 

    YouTube overhauls subscription business. The streamer is planning to introduce a music service May 22 that will help it take on competitors Spotify and Apple Music and revamp how it delivers original programming like Cobra Kai and Step Up: High Water.

    + Now, those who want to watch the ad-free videos and original programming once offered through YouTube Red will pay $12 per month for YouTube Premium. Full story.

    Quoted: "Put another way: if you were to take over a show I'd originated and worked on for two years and didn't reach out to me before taking the job you're either an idiot, a coward, or a vichy motherfucker." — Josh Friedman, the former showrunner for TNT's Snowpiercer criticizing his successor, Graeme Manson.

    ^CW's upfront: Jared Leto in hot pants and Riverdale fever. The spin: The CW was multiplatform before, well, everyone else was multiplatform, and CW brass was dead-set on making that clear Thursday. "We introduced our convergence initiative eight years ago," said exec vp national sales Rob Tuck, adding: "We're happy that the rest of the industry is finally catching up with us." Full scorecard. I CW trailers.

    NBC's passed over pilot could find home. L.A.'s Finest, the pilot many insiders expected to be the biggest slam-dunk of the season, could find new life at Charter Communications. Sources say that the company is in preliminary talks to potentially pick up the Bad Boys TV spinoff.

    Viceland is headed to Hulu. The channel has inked an expansive licensing deal that will make the streamer the home of 15 of its shows, including Ellen Page's Gaycation and Action Bronson's Fuck, That's Delicious.

    ► Netflix books Gillian Anderson in dramedy. The X-Files and American Gods alum has been tapped to star in the dramedy Sex Education. Asa Butterfield co-stars in the series, set for 2019.

    Fox News names new CEO. Suzanne Scott has been promoted to lead of FNC and Fox Business Network. She had served as president of programming for both networks.

    *R.I.P., Joseph Campanella. The ever-present character actor who appeared on scores of TV shows, including The Bold Ones, Mannix, One Day at a Time and The Colbys, has died. He was 93. Full obit.

    Also: The inevitable show that won't happen (yet). Networks have been pitched a show concept starring Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti and Trump confidante Anthony Scaramucci, though no deal has been struck. UTA co-president Jay Sures made the pitch.

  • Dueling Biopics

    Getty Images(2); Courtesy of Photofest

    Not one, but two biopics are in the works about Leonard Bernstein, with both Bradley Cooper and Jake Gyllenhaal working behind the scenes for their projects. Pamela McClintock writes: 

    On May 1, Jake Gyllenhaal announced he'll play Leonard Bernstein in The American, a biopic about the legendary conductor and West Side Story composer that director Cary Fukunaga intends to start shooting this fall for Bron Studios.

    But before Gyllenhaal could even put together a full orchestra, symbolically speaking, a rival Bernstein biopic was announced on May 10 – this one to be directed by and star Bradley Cooper, who will produce Bernstein alongside Hollywood heavyweights Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese, among others.

    Behind the scenes, both projects raced to secure music rights from the Bernstein estate. Cooper's team prevailed, yet Gyllenhaal is moving ahead with his project using public domain work. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    Cannes buyers: Who needs Netflix? On at least three occasions, the streamer lost out to distributors with much smaller wallets. "You're giving up theatrical and every ancillary revenue for a just slightly better upfront fee," says a sales agent.

    + The dealmakers for this year's splashiest pact, the $75 million-plus female-fronted spy pic 355, decided early against seriously entertaining a Netflix offer, holding out for a theatrical release from Universal. Full story. 

    Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio lining up new biopic. The duo, who last worked together on 2002's Catch Me If You Can, are in early talks to reteam for a Ulysses S. Grant biopic. Robin Hood scripter David James Kelly will pen the feature.

    + DiCaprio's busy schedule: He's already filming Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, and is attached to a Leonardo da Vinci project for Paramount and a Teddy Roosevelt biopic with Martin Scorsese.

    Universal's Chris Pratt actioner finds writers. To whip Pratt's Cowboy Ninja Viking into shape for a summer shoot, the studio is hiring Dan Mazeau and Ryan Engle for a script about an assassin with three personas.

    Quoted: "There’s a fluidity to Donald and Billy Dee’s [portrayal of Lando’s] sexuality. I mean, I would have loved to have gotten a more explicitly LGBT character into this movie." — Solo: A Star Wars Story screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan.

    ^Show Dogs, reviewed. Opening today, Will Arnett and a Rottweiler voiced by rapper-actor Ludacris make like Turner & Hooch in this family-friendly comedy. The takeaway: "Nice try, but you can't teach a mangy concept new tricks."

    + Rotten Tomatoes: 31 percent. Early takes: N.Y. Times: "promises talking dogs who fight crime. It delivers." L.A. Times: "It all plays out a bit randomly."

     Warner Bros. lands Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights. The film rights to the musical were nabbed by the studio after being stuck at The Weinstein Co. as it was readying for bankruptcy.

    Lionsgate names film group president. Nathan Kahane is rejoining film chairman Joe Drake at the studio after they co-founded Good Universe in 2012. Also: Erin Westerman is named exec vp production.

    Elisabeth Moss, Michael Stuhlbarg team for thriller. The duo are set to star in the psychological thriller Shirley, to be directed by Josephine Decker. Moss will play the title character, an American gothic horror writer.

    Cannes award watch: The prizes for the fest's Directors’ Fortnight sidebar were awarded Thursday evening, with Gaspar Noe's sex-and-drugs drama Climax taking the Art Cinema Award from among the 17 films in competition. Full story I Noe Q&A.

    In THR, Esq: Director sues actress for using clips of unreleased film on demo reel. Director Robin Bain is suing an actress from her 2016 film Nowhereland, alleging the actress used clips from the project on her demo reel without permission. Film Independent and L.A. MediaWorks are also defendants in the suit. Details.

  • Wedding Watch

    Eddie Mulholland/WPA Pool/Getty Images

    It's T-minus 24 hours and the world is on royal wedding dress watch, Booth Moore writes:

    + Bookies are taking bets on which designer she will walk down the aisle with (Tamara Ralph of British couture house Ralph & Russo is a strong contender, though Stella McCartney has a lot going for her, too). Fashion preview.

    + What's royally selling? A visit to the official Royal shop, a crown jewel’s throw from Buckingham Palace, boasts all kinds of goods and mementos celebrating the Queen and her fam. Merchandise watch. 

    What else we're reading...

    — "Media companies line up to gamble on sports betting." Alexandra Bruell and Shalini Ramachandran write: "Supreme Court decision opening door to legalized sports gambling could increase TV viewership." [Wall Street Journal]

    "What it takes to be Hermione Granger." Anna Silman's profile: "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child star Noma Dumezweni on life at the center of a 'benign cult.'" [New York]

    "Inside BuzzFeed’s Hollywood adventure." Beejoli Shah writes: "Current and former employees of BuzzFeed also say the studio relied too much on the value of its audience data to make stronger shows." [The Information]

    "Inside Fox News, fear of a new woke era." Gabriel Sherman writes: "Sexual harassment training, a new trans-inclusive policy, and (in Ollie North’s old office!) Muslim prayer rugs. In Roger Ailes’s old haunts, it’s not the 50s anymore." [Vanity Fair]

    "Two dudes with a camera." Dave Itzkoff writes: "In their first book, Like Brothers, the indie filmmaker siblings Jay and Mark Duplass recount their unlikely path to Hollywood and tell readers how to follow suit." [New York Times]

    "Tucker Max’s culture war." Laura Bennett writes: "How the godfather of 'fratire' went from chronicling his drunken sexual conquests to ghostwriting Tiffany Haddish’s memoir." [Slate]

    What else we're seeing... 

    + "Will Arnett & Jimmy Kimmel battle for Batman." [Live]

    + "Ryan Reynolds & Josh Brolin did a Western." [Late Late Show]

    + "Tina Fey reads the letter she wrote to her future self." [Tonight Show]

    Today's birthdays: Jack Johnson, 43, Tina Fey, 48, Chow Yun-fat, 63, George Strait, 66, Mark Mothersbaugh, 68, Albert Hammond, 74.