What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:12 AM 5/22/2018

by THR Staff

Courtesy of Marvel Entertainment/Marcos Martin

What's news: Fox is nearing a $1 billion, five-year deal for WWE's SmackDown. Plus: TV studio chiefs sound off on upfronts season, Netflix officially lands the Obamas in a producing deal, Ryan Kavanaugh is back advising Relativity and Sony's Spider-Man universe snags Jake Gyllenhaal. — Erik Hayden

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  • 'SmackDown' Deal

    Courtesy of USA Network

    Fox will be the anticipated home of WWE's SmackDown Live in a massive new five-year deal worth more than $1 billion, sources tell Marisa Guthrie, who writes: 

    The new deal, which is nearing completion and is worth $205 million annually, is expected to begin in October 2019 and will mark a three-fold increase over what NBCUniversal is currently paying WWE to air SmackDown on its USA network.

    WWE is said to have had an even higher bid from a third party — and enthusiastic interest overall. But WWE execs are said to have embraced Fox's commitment to heavily promote SmackDown across a robust sports portfolio that includes the NFL and Major League Baseball.

    The deal would split WWE programming rights with NBC, which is expected to retain Raw. SmackDown is averaging 2.59 million viewers a week so far this year, while Raw is pulling about 3 million. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Upfronts aftermath: Warner Bros. TV's Peter Roth, CBS TV Studios' David Stapf and other top execs weigh in on the most surprising thing about last week's upfronts, the most frustrating trend and the new show they wish was theirs. What they're saying.

    Amazon Studios reviving The Expanse. The streamer is in talks to save one of CEO Jeff Bezos' favorite properties, nearing a deal to revive the space drama for a fourth season just 10 days after Syfy canceled the series.

    + Amazon enlists former NBC exec to co-head TV. Jennifer Salke has brought in a familiar face from her NBC days to join her at the retailer/streamer, tapping former NBC head of current programming Vernon Sanders to serve as co-head of television and work alongside Albert Cheng. Details. 

    Lifetime's UnREAL expected to end with season 4. In a rare move, the female-focused cable network will have the second window, Hulu, air the drama from Sarah Gertrude Shapiro and Marti Noxon.

    + Hulu is said to have paid producers A+E Studios a larger sum for SVOD rights to season four in order to secure the first window for the drama. Full story. 

    Quoted: "Learning to deal with failure is one of the most important lessons you’ll deal with in your life. Guess what? Failure is mandatory." — Dave Annable, after learning he'd been recast on CBS' The Code.

    ^Netflix inks producing deal with Obamas. The former President and First Lady have officially entered into a multiyear agreement to produce films and series with the streaming giant. 

    + Deal context: Netflix's recent pact with mega-producer Ryan Murphy is said to be worth as much as $300 million. The Obamas also have a $65 million deal with Penguin Random House to publish individual books. Details.

    ► ABC's first American Idol winner crowned. The 16th season, and first on the Disney-owned network, came to a close on Monday night when Maddie Poppe was named the winner of the singing competition in a two-hour finale.

    Daily Show plans Trevor Noah book. Penguin Random House imprint Spiegel & Grau will publish The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library in exhibition catalog form akin to the original project, a 4,000-square-foot exhibit of Trump tweets.

    Nick finds host for Double Dare reboot. YouTube star and actress Liza Koshy has been tapped to host the revival of the classic game show. Meanwhile, original host Marc Summers is set to return to the new version of the show.

    Animal Planet greenlights new series Extinct or Alive. The show follows wildlife adventurer Forrest Galante as he explores the real stories behind animals thought to be gone forever and tries to prove their existence.

    New Drama Actress Roundtable clip: Claire Foy. In the upcoming THR Roundtable, the actress talks about taking her leading role as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown, a performance for which she earned the best actress Golden Globe. Watch.

  • New 'Spidey' Villain

    Getty

    Sony's Spider-Man universe has signed up an A-list recruit, Borys Kit writes: 

    Jake Gyllenhaal is in talks to play the classic Marvel villain Mysterio in the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming. Spider-Man creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduced Mysterio in the comics in 1964.

    + Who's the villain? Richard Newby writes: Mysterio has been clamored for since Sam Raimi’s original series, with actor Bruce Campbell even suggested by fans to be Beck, due to his returning presence as pesky bit characters in Peter Parker’s life. With many of Spider-Man’s fantastic rogues’ gallery having already appeared in Raimi’s trilogy and Marc Webb’s two films, Mysterio has the luxury of having never appeared onscreen before. Details. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    New Sony CEO outlines shift toward content. During a Tokyo strategy briefing, Kenichiro Yoshida repeatedly referred to the importance of content, citing films including the box-office hit Jumanji and the Netflix series The Crown. Anime IP, is another major element, said the exec.

    MGM revives Orion Classics label. Looking to get into the day-and-date theatrical-VOD business, MGM is relaunching the name as a multiplatform distribution label. The move comes less than a year after MGM revived Orion Pictures.

    Ryan Kavanaugh to advise new Relativity. The founder of the company, who served as its CEO only to see it file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015, has signed on to serve as a consultant to the business’ latest incarnation now that the bulk of its assets are being sold to UltraV Holdings.

    ^Charlize Theron to star as Megyn Kelly. The actress and director Jay Roach are teaming to tell the tale of disgraced Fox News chairman Roger Ailes. The movie is being financed by Annapurna and comes armed with a script by Charles Randolph, who won an Oscar for co-writing The Big Short. Details. 

    ► Halle Berry joins John Wick: Chapter 3. The actress joins Anjelica Huston and Asia Kate Dillon as new additions to the Keanu Reeves franchise. Chad Stahelski is back directing the latest title.

    Warner Bros. unveils Mowgli trailer. The film is billed as a gritty live-action/CG retelling of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and is looking to distinguish itself from Disney's 2016 adaptation of the work. Full clip.

    Miramax unveils Johnny Depp crime drama trailer. City of Lies follows the investigation behind the unsolved murder of the Notorious B.I.G., aka Biggie Smalls, following the death of Tupac Shakur. Full clip.

    Academy gets donation from George Stevens Jr. The founding director of the American Film Institute has donated a collection of documents and films chronicling his career to the Margaret Herrick Library and the Academy Film Archive.

    In THR, Esq: Gone Girl lawsuit dismissed. The author and filmmakers behind the novel and feature film adaptation are clear of claims that parts of the plot were stolen from an unproduced screenplay after an Illinois federal judge on Monday dismissed with prejudice the writer's claims. Details.

  • GLAAD 'Fails' Studios

    Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

    While Hollywood celebrated Call Me By Your Name at the most recent Oscars, studio movies actually turned away from depicting LGBTQ characters in 2017, Gregg Kilday writes:

    In a new survey of the 109 films released theatrically by the major studios last year, the advocacy group GLAAD reports that LGBTQ characters appeared in only 14 films, just 12.8 percent of the total releases, a dramatic drop from the 18.4 percent of the studio features that were judged to be inclusive in 2016.

    In fact, that is the lowest percentage of films containing LGBTQ characters since GLAAD began issuing its annual report in 2012. Full story.

    What else we're reading... 

    "Hollywood hopes for a rebound." Ryan Faughnder writes: "Studios and cinemas are expected to collect $4.3 billion to $4.4 billion in receipts during the key May-through-Labor Day period." [Los Angeles Times]

    "Low-paid women get Hollywood money to file harassment suits." Michael Corkery reports: "A case against Walmart is among the first to arise from the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, meant to broaden #MeToo beyond celebrities." [New York Times]

    "Banned from Amazon: the shoppers who make too many returns." Khadeeja Safdar and Laura Stevens report: "Customers say their accounts were closed without warning; it happens when ‘you’re creating a lot of headaches for Amazon.'" [Wall Street Journal]

    "Stepping inside David Lynch’s ring of truth." Olivia Aylmer writes: "Twin Peaks acolytes, transcendental-meditation enthusiasts, and longtime Lynch collaborators alike convened in Brooklyn this weekend for the third annual Festival of Disruption." [Vanity Fair]

    "Vegan YouTube stars are held to impossible standards." Jordan Bissell writes: "These content creators are regularly held to a standard of perfection when it comes to their diets." [The Atlantic]

    Today's birthdays: Maggie Q, 39, Ginnifer Goodwin, 40, Sean Gunn, 44, Max Brooks, 46, Michael Kelly, 49, Michael Kostroff, 57, Thomas Schlamme, 68.