What's news: With AT&T-Time Warner getting a greenlight, the path is now clear for Comcast to unveil a bid for Fox's assets. Plus: piecing together DC's movie jigsaw plans, Amazon's new talent war with Netflix and a close look at the most powerful people in comedy. — Erik Hayden
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On the cover: Tiffany Haddish. The new queen of comedy opens up to Lacey Rose about her career plans (a Judd Apatow film, her own TV show, Girls Trip 2):
+ Post-Girls Trip success. "I could've been paid $80K, probably $90K, a show, but because we booked those before Girls Trip came out, I was getting paid like $20K, $15K, and it fucking sucked," she says of sold-out comedy shows booked before the Universal comedy became a breakout hit.
+ Her DiCaprio story. "Yeah, I met him at a party two, three months ago, and I asked him if he'd let me hit that," she begins. "He's like, 'Tiffany, you're so funny.' I'm like, 'I'm serious.' And then he goes, 'I mean, I'd do it, but …' I was like, 'Come on, wasn't you in a squad? The coochie squad or something?'"
+ Her connection to fans. "Most artists, when they're doing their art, they're onstage, so they're always a bit above their audience," says Chris Rock. "But then you got people like Tiffany, who's literally in the audience — she's not above them on any level, she's right there. You feel like she's sitting with you watching the show."
+ Projects in the works. Haddish says she'd like to make at least 50 movies by the time she turns 50, which, if you're counting, is only 12 years away. "And I want to get $10 million a movie," she says, "$100 million, eventually." Full story.
What it means: During the antitrust trial where the Justice Department argued against the $85B merger between AT&T and Time Warner, there were plenty of naysayers who wondered whether the government truly had a winning strategy, Eriq Gardner writes:
+ The 172-page opinion. In his ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon runs through the structure of the video programming and distribution industry. He outlines trends including the rise of over-the-top video content services and clearly seems swayed by the sweep of revolution in the air as he quotes Bob Dylan's observation, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." Legal analysis.
+ Path clears for Comcast. Disney, of course, has already agreed to pay Fox $52.4B for most of Fox, including the film and TV studio. Comcast has already muddied the waters by offering roughly $31B for all of Sky, and it likely will further disrupt Disney's plans by upping its bid. Full deals story.
+ "Shows a need to reboot antitrust laws." "A chorus of antitrust experts has already been calling for a fundamental rethinking of the prevailing laissez-faire approach to vertical mergers, and Judge Leon’s ruling is likely to amplify their critique," James B. Stewart writes. [New York Times]
+ "The case was idiotic," Holman W. Jenkins writes, "and yet it hung over the entire industry as a signal of what might be expected from the unpredictable and woolly Trump administration in a slew of deals coming down the pike. Let’s not over-intellectualize this: If a court had sided with the Justice Department in a case involving CNN’s parent company, Trump trustbusters would be tempted to play the same antibusiness, populist card against a bunch of proposed deals." [Wall Street Journal]
Elsewhere in TV...
► New Amazon chief steps up talent war with Netflix. Jennifer Salke's plan includes a strategy to use her deep relationships to build an "alternative" to the "volume" of its competitor. Full story.
► Starz renews Vida for season two. The cabler says the drama has earned the largest Hispanic audience composition for a premium series this year. A return date and episode count has not yet been determined.
► Comedy Central plans Reductress late-night show. The cabler has handed out a pilot order for The Reductress Hour, teaming with co-creators Beth Newell and Sarah Pappalardo. Abby Elliott will star as the show's in-character host.
► Sony TV reups Good Doctor showrunner's deal. David Shore has renewed his overall deal with the indie studio. Shore, whose deal expired in May, will create new projects while overseeing ABC's hit.
► FX nabs The Changeling. After a competitive situation with multiple outlets bidding, the cabler is adapting Victor LaValle's novel. The project hails from Annapurna TV and will be penned by Kelly Marcel.
^TNT's Alienist stars on how the show spotlights the Gilded Age. Series director Jakob Verbruggen and castmembers Daniel Bruhl, Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans discuss prospects for a new season and how the Time's Up movement impacted the dark thriller. Q&A.
► Netflix orders three new unscripted series. The streaming giant has ordered ten episodes of comedy series The Fix, eight episodes of music series Westside and eight episodes of baking competition Sugar Rush. Details.
► FX inks Amy Seimetz to overall deal. The writer and helmer, who co-created The Girlfriend Experience and directed multiple episodes of Atlanta, will develop new TV projects for FX Productions.
► Showtime enlists Tara Lipinski for Kidding. The Olympic gold medal-winning ice skater has booked a story arc on the forthcoming Jim Carrey comedy series. Lipinski will play herself and appear in multiple episodes.
► Sony Pictures TV exec exits. Jeff Lerner is leaving his post as executive vp scripted development and international production to focus on production. His credits include Ugly Betty and The Nanny.
Where the Emmy race stands right now. Scott Feinberg is out with his latest heat index of the top contenders. The comedy series category is now led by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Atlanta, Barry, Black-ish, Silicon Valley, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and GLOW. Full forecast.
Walter Hamada, named president of DC Entertainment-based film production at Warner Bros. in January, has quietly spent months sorting through projects. Borys Kit's new intel on his plans:
+ The Flash revamped: The standalone film, which will finally begin production in early 2019, has abandoned the somber themes it had been expected to tackle and it's looking to Back to the Future as a touchstone.
+ A cheaper Joker movie: Todd Phillips' movie, expected to begin shooting in the fall, is budgeted at about $55 million, a fraction of most superhero pics, and may be launched under a new label that could be branded with a name like "DC Dark" or "DC Black."
+ The future of Batman: Writer-director Matt Reeves turned in the first act of a new screenplay during the Memorial Day weekend. It's said to focus on a young caped crusader, and while the studio would not comment, it's unlikely that Ben Affleck will again don the cowl. Full story.
Elsewhere in film...
► Disney's Infinity War crosses $2B globally. The Avengers title is the fifth-biggest ever domestically, and the third-biggest internationally. The movie's total haul includes nearly $370M from China, where it is the third-biggest Western film of all time.
► Jackie Chan, John Cena team for thriller. The duo are set to star in an action thriller from Need for Speed director Scott Waugh, with Cena replacing Sylvester Stallone. Arash Amel wrote the screenplay.
► Superfly, reviewed (opening today). Music-vid helmer Director X remakes the 1972 blaxploitation pic with Trevor Jackson in the lead. The takeaway: "A stale remake with nothing new to say."
► One Last Thing, reviewed (opening today). Wendell Pierce and Jurnee Smollett-Bell star in Tim Rouhana's drama about a lonely man who finds his long-lost daughter. The takeaway: "Sappy and unconvincing."
Quoted: "You’re not entitled to politeness when your approach is rude. Even if you paid for a ticket!" — Last Jedi actor John Boyega, reacting to harassment that led co-star Kelly Marie Tran to quit social media.
^Disney unveils live-action Dumbo teaser trailer. The Tim Burton movie will follow a former circus star, played by Colin Farrell, who returns to the big tent after coming home from war. The film hits theaters next March. Full clip.
► Major studios tout their slates at CineEurope. Film executives talked up titles like Mission Impossible, Alita, Bumblebee and The Grinch at the Barcelona trade show for an audience of European exhibitors. The pitches: Universal I Fox I Paramount.
► Fired Queen biopic helmer to get directing credit. Bryan Singer, fired in December from Fox's Bohemian Rhapsody, argued that the studio refused to allow him time off to care for an ill parent. Dexter Fletcher replaced Singer.
► American Film Institute fest gets new director. Michael Lumpkin will succeed Jacqueline Lyanga, who headed the fest since 2010. Lumpkin's new title is director of AFI Festivals, as the organization combines programming and operations staff.
► Society of Cinematographers reelects president. Kees Van Oostrum has been given his third consecutive one-year term as president of the organization as the society gets ready to celebrate its centennial.
► After 42West exit, three publicists launch new firm. Amanda Silverman, Meredith O'Sullivan Wasson and Sarah Levinson Rothman have brought over clients including Rihanna, Will Smith and Reese Witherspoon to The Lede Co. Details.
It's here: Meet the TV auteurs, the stand-ups scoring $20 million Netflix specials and the ventriloquist booking arenas (for real!) as THR profiles the players behind billions in funny money in its first comedy power list.
What else we're reading...
— "The trouble with Hollywood’s gender flips." Amanda Hess writes: "Hollywood’s female-focused reboots require women to relive men’s stories - and to fix their politics, too." [New York Times]
— "Old-school effects make a comeback." Darryn King writes: "Puppetry and animatronics rekindle filmmakers’ interest in 'practical effects'; 'the performance is better when you act before something real.'" [Wall Street Journal]
— "Can Hollywood kill the casting couch?" David Sims writes: "The country’s biggest actors’ union has struck a deal to eliminate the kind of private auditions that can lead to abuse." [The Atlantic]
— "The golden age of plot twists." Matt Zoller Seitz writes: "Jane the Virgin, The Americans, The Bachelor, and Star Trek: Discovery surprised us all, even detectives on the internet." [Vulture]
— "Women comprise just 35% of 'high-status employees' at markets." Tom Grater writes: "A report has revealed the gender split of attendees at three of the world’s most significant film markets, the EFM in Berlin, the Cannes Marche du Film, and the AFM." [Screen Daily]
+ On June 13, 1986, Rodney Dangerfield's comedy Back to School hit theaters nationwide before becoming a summer hit.
Today's birthdays: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, 28, Kat Dennings, 32, Chris Evans, 37, Greg Daniels, 55, Ally Sheedy, 56, Tim Allen, 65, Stellan Skarsgård, 67, Malcolm McDowell, 75.