What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:11 AM 6/12/2018

by THR Staff

What's news: It's likely to be decision day over the far-reaching AT&T and Time Warner deal. Plus: Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke outlines her plans, The Incredibles 2 gets good news after the review embargo lifts and DC Entertainment shakes up its exec ranks. — Erik Hayden

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+ "The antitrust trial of the century." That's how THR legal expert Eriq Gardner in March described the showdown between the Department of Justice and AT&T as the fate of the telecom company's $85 billion deal for Time Warner hangs in the balance. His full legal analysis.

+ Today is likely to be decision day. "The case will be decided by Richard J. Leon, a plain-spoken judge appointed by President George W. Bush. He is expected to give a shortened version of his opinion in remarks around 4 p.m. on Tuesday," per a triple-bylined N.Y. Times curtain-raiser. 

+ The stakes. "A win for AT&T and Time Warner will vindicate their leaders’ survival-of-the-biggest philosophy, creating a vertically integrated giant with movie studios, television channels, satellites, cellphone networks and fiber-optic cables all under the same roof," the Wall Street Journal's Drew FitzGerald and Brent Kendall write in their evaluation.

+ Possible outcomes. "He can rule in AT&T’s favor and deny the government’s request for an injunction, side with the Justice Department and block the deal on antitrust grounds, or rule it illegal, but allow it to go forward by meeting conditions aimed at protecting competing pay-TV companies that want access to Time Warner programming," Bloomberg's David McLaughlin reports.

+ This could impact a Fox deal, too. As THR editors Paul Bond and Georg Szalai wrote in early May in a feature titled "Comcast's Last-Ditch Plan to Snatch Fox From Disney," that plan from Comcast executives to outbid Disney for Fox assets is seen to be contingent on a judge ruling in favor of AT&T. 

  • Salke's Amazon Plans

    Courtesy of Amazon

    Jennifer Salke's plans to spend Amazon Studios' $4.5 billion war chest are coming into focus. The former NBC Entertainment president talks with Lesley Goldberg about her overall deals strategy. An excerpt:

    How big do you see that overall deal stable being?

    "We have unlimited resources to build the kind of writer's stable and creator's stable that will lead to success. I don't feel any limits on having to work within a budget. You're going to see an alternative to Netflix's volume..."

    If you could poach one showrunner that you don't already have for Amazon, who would it be and why?

    "I would have loved to have been here as the Ryan Murphy thing was starting, which was a long time ago. Maybe that would have ended up differently." Full interview. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    MTV plans live-action Aeon Flux reboot. Teen Wolf showrunner Jeff Davis is on board to pen the script and exec produce the drama alongside The Walking Dead's Gale Anne Hurd.

    HBO renews Succession for season two. The media mogul series has garnered a generally strong reaction from critics but early linear returns for the first episodes have been modest. With live-plus-3 tallies, the first episode averaged 785,000 viewers.

    Netflix orders Greek mythology drama. The streamer has given a 10-episode series order for Kaos, which hails from Charlie Covell and marks his second series for the platform after The End of the Fucking World.

    Quoted: "[I]f you have been following along, you know that we started with four, and eventually went to five. One of those has been shelved." — Game of Thrones creator George R.R. Martin, saying that one of the five unnamed successor shows is no longer active.

    ^CBS' Strange Angel, reviewed. The All Access new drama (premiering Thursday) delves into the life of Jack Parsons, rocket science pioneer and occult devotee. The takeaway: "An intriguing (slightly too) slow burn."

    ► Amazon plans Modern Love anthology. The streamer has handed out an eight-episode straight-to-series order for an anthology based on the New York Times column. John Carney (Once, Begin Again) will write and direct.

    Netflix directors ask judge to reject shareholder lawsuit. The plaintiff accuses the streamer's board members of not disclosing the streamer's liability on the tax front after allegedly rigging its compensation system with sham bonuses.

    Endeavor poaches Bozoma Saint John from Uber. The high profile exec is leaving the ridesharing app to join the parent company of talent agency WME as its new chief marketing officer. Details. 

    Paul Feig's company orders Muslim-American series. Powderkeg has greenlit the digital shortform show East of La Brea. The project, the company's first original series, follows a Black Muslim and her Bangladeshi-American roommate.

    New Comedy Actor Roundtable highlight: Tracy Morgan. The actor speaks about how his recent work was inspired by his near-death experience that put him in a coma for two weeks. "I survived the accident for a reason, to bring love." Full clip.

  • 'Incredibles' Return

    Coutesy of Disney•Pixar

    What the critics are saying: Fourteen years after the original film, The Incredibles sequel is hitting theaters. The review embargo lifted yesterday, and it is good news so far. Chief critic Todd McCarthy writes: 

    Boosted by central characters that remain vastly engaging and a deep supply of wit, Incredibles 2 certainly proves worth the wait, even if it hits the target but not the bull's-eye in quite the way the first one did. 

    It remains to be seen whether everyone who loved the original when they were 6 years old and is now 20 will rush out to catch this follow-up, but there's plenty of crackling entertainment value here for viewers from 5 to 95. Full review. 

    + Rotten Tomatoes score: 96 percent (original is at 97 percent). Early takes: New York: "delightful as an animated feature but really, really delightful as a superhero picture." LA Times: "it is as good as it can be without that shock of the new." USA Today: "bigger and bolder, if not better, than its first outing."

    Elsewhere in film...

    Gal Gadot joins Dwayne Johnson in Red Notice. Universal and Legendary's action-thriller has enlisted the actress to star in a film about an Interpol agent and an art thief. The project is set for a 2020 release.

    Gawker v. Hulk Hogan movie finds director. Hunger Games filmmaker Francis Lawrence is attached to direct the adaptation of Ryan Holiday's Conspiracy. The Big Short scribe Charles Randolph is set to write. 

    Paul Hogan to star as himself in Mr. Dundee. In the film, the Crocodile Dundee creator plays a version of himself who is set to receive a knighthood. The new comedy starts production in July.

    Orion Classics picks up Sundance drama. Bridey Elliott’s Clara's Ghost, featuring members of the Chris Elliott clan, will get a release this fall in theaters and on VOD.

    Gaumont hires former Disney exec. As it makes a big animation push, the French mini-major has added former Disney executive Kimberly Dennison as vp creative development at its U.S. division. 

    DC shake-up: Geoff Johns exits. The DC Entertainment president is stepping down from his executive post and entering into an exclusive writer-producer deal with Warner Bros. DC exec Jim Lee will assume the chief creative officer position. Details.

  • Will #MeToo Impact Emmys?

    Illustration by Joshua Budich

    With TV Academy members voting now underway, their ballots will offer up the names of several men, including James Franco and Jeffrey Tambor, associated with the recent reckoning in Hollywood, Scott Feinberg writes. Full story. 

    What else we're reading...

    "The quest of Laurene Powell Jobs." David Montgomery's profile: "She’s inventing a new brand of philanthropic power. What is her vision and where is it taking us?" [Washington Post]

    "Marketers add more podcasts to the mix." Benjamin Mullin writes: "Total spending on podcast ads rose 86 percent last year, but the format remains relatively niche." [Wall Street Journal]

    "Inside the binge factory." Josef Adalian writes: "Netflix is hiring everybody in and out of Hollywood to make more TV shows than any network ever has, and it already knows which ones you’ll like." [New York]

    "The future of television will be shaped by viewer intention." Daniel H. Pink writes: "To understand how viewing habits have changed, consider the difference between the couch show and the phone show." [The Atlantic]

    "The Simpsons jokes that never quite made it." Mike Reiss writes: "Occasionally on the show, you’ll see a scene that’s weird, even by our standards: it’s not conventionally funny, and it may have nothing to do with the story." [New Yorker]

    From the archives...

    + On June 12, 1981, America met Harrison Ford's Indiana Jones when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg brought Raiders of the Lost Ark to theaters. Flashback review.

    Today's birthdays: Dave Franco, 33, Timothy Simons, 40, Jason Mewes, 44, Rick Hoffman, 48, Frances O'Connor, 51.