What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:33 AM 6/16/2018

by THR staff

Oprah Winfrey arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of Disney's A Wrinkle In Time - Getty-H 2018
Michael Tran/FilmMagic

What's news: ABC is moving forward with negotiations for a Roseanne spinoff, despite some complications. Plus: Disney looks to fill the post-John Lasseter leadership void, Turner CEO John Martin is exiting as the AT&T-Time Warner deal closes and Oprah Winfrey inks a big deal with Apple. — Erik Hayden

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  • Spinoff Talks Heat Up

    New: The proposed Roseanne spinoff is still very much alive at ABC, and negotiations are said to have moved to a new phase thanks to concessions from its erstwhile star, Lesley Goldberg writes: 

    + Progress: Sources say that Roseanne Barr has agreed in principle to walk away from the characters she helped create in order to allow Roseanne’s cast and crew to pursue a spinoff in the wake of the show’s May cancelation due to her racist tweets. ABC and producer Carsey-Werner are insisting that Barr not participate financially or creatively in the proposed spinoff.

    + "Go-away money": But since Barr would be entitled to substantial fees and backend on any spinoff of Roseanne, she must waive those rights before any such show could proceed. With Barr having tentatively agreed to do so, now the negotiation is over what, if any, one-time payment she should receive as “go-away money,” as one source puts it. Full story.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    AT&T closes Time Warner deal. Turner CEO John Martin is exiting, as is former Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, who had intended to stay on as an adviser for up to a year. The new name will be WarnerMedia.

    ? Apple inks Oprah Winfrey to big talent deal. The multiyear pact includes everything from film, TV, applications, books and other content that could easily be distributed on Apple's all-encompassing platform. 

    + Tech bidders: Sources note that Winfrey landed at Apple in a competitive situation with other tech giants, likely including Netflix and Amazon, all pursuing similar deals

    Quoted: "But we each need to get $300k, at least. That's $600k total. And if I do it by myself, I need $600k." — Tiffany Haddish, on whether she wouldd host the Oscars with Maya Rudolph

    ^Epix's Deep State, reviewed (premieres tomorrow). The new thriller has a solid lead in Mark Strong, but wastes too much time on bad domestic storylines to be better than warmed-over Homeland or 24. The take-away: "Not distinctive enough to set itself apart in the spy game."

    ? Netflix revives Lucifer after Fox cancellation. The streamer has picked up the drama for a fourth season. The DC Entertainment series, which hails from Warner Bros. Television, was axed in May. 

    ? Viceland stars exiting, eyeing Showtime deal. Daniel Baker and Joel Martinez, the duo behind the daily late-night talk show Desus & Mero, are leaving the cabler hat has been their home for the past two seasons.

    ? Comedy Central scraps InfoWars-style spoof series. The Opposition With Jordan Klepper is ending after one season. But host Jordan Klepper is staying put at the cabler with a new series, tentatively titled Klepper.

    *Top TV personalities online. This week, Tyra Banks leads Gordon Ramsay, James Corden, Jake Tapper and Chris Hayes in the top five, with Mike Rowe and Stephen Colbert re-entering the social media ranking. Chart.

    Also: Do shorter TV seasons have an edge in Emmys race? Premium cable and streaming services' focus on shorter seasons (the better to binge with) has shifted the drama and comedy landscape, Scott Feinberg writes. Full column.

  • Disney's Post-Lasseter Void

    What's next? After John Lasseter's exit, a new creative team is helping to guide the company’s decisions at Pixar and Disney Animation even as two positions remain officially unfilled, Kim Masters writes: 

    + "Brain trust": Following Lasseter’s departure on a “sabbatical” in November, Pixar put in place a "creative approval team" made up initially of three men and three women that seems to have morphed to include four men and three women. This group apparently exists alongside the storied all-male “brain trust” that has long guided Pixar's creative decisions.

    + Creative heads: Sources believe it will be Pete Docter at Emeryville, California-based Pixar, though he is said to be reluctant to play the part as he prefers to focus on directing. For Burbank-based Disney Animation, one possible choice is Jennifer Lee, whose writing credits include Frozen, while Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore also is mentioned as possibly playing a role. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Incredibles 2 beating expectations, aims for $175M. It will easily score the third-best opening of the year to date behind Avengers: Infinity War, which opened to a record $257.7M, and Black Panther, which debuted to $202M, both of which are from Disney/Marvel.

    ? Jurassic sequel roars in China with $34.4M opening. Fallen Kingdom began rolling out overseas last weekend in order to avoid competing with the World Cup. Through Thursday, the sequel's gross was a hefty $202.3M from 49 markets.

    ? John Travolta's Gotti gets rare zero percent score. The mob pic is the actor's third film to nab that dubious Rotten Tomatoes distinction, joining 1983's Staying Alive and 1993's Look Who’s Talking Now.

    ? Kurt Russell, Alexis Bledel lead thriller Crypto. Directed by John Stalberg Jr., the indie film was written by Carlyle Eubank and David Frigerio and is being produced by Yale Prods.

    *Cannes Lions panel planner. The festival, which kicks off Monday, has a packed slate. From Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff to Hollywood heavyweights Ellen Pompeo and Tyler Perry, here's a breakdown of the notable events. Schedule.

    In THR, Esq: New Weinstein Co. owners give up Hotel Mumbai. After making a successful $310M bid to acquire the assets of TWC in an auction overseen by a bankruptcy court, Lantern Entertainment is walking away from any right to distribute the Dev Patel drama over a producer's fraud claim. Details.

  • The Comedy Punch-Up Gift

    New era: Gone are the salad days when studios paid comedy writers to sharpen jokes. Today, producers reward uncredited work with everything from massages to a free sandwich, Emma Specter writes:

    + Punch-up, the process in which a group of comedy writers gets together to sharpen jokes that aren't quite landing in a script, has long been routine in Hollywood. Not all of the writers names show up in the credits, though, which is where the question of informal compensation, aka the punch-up gift, comes in.

    + Getting creative. Veteran script doctors can command six-figure salaries for a week of work, but TV comedy writers who help friends funny things up on a freelance basis are thanked in a more creative — if less lucrative — fashion. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    "AT&T executive taking over HBO and CNN promises a hands-off approach." Edmund Lee's interview with media business CEO John Stankey: "Nothing replaces the creative process, and having the best creative minds and the best ideas." [New York Times]

    "The death of the TV remote." Matthew Kitchen asks: "With the speedy adoption of voice command we’re on the verge of smashing the TV clicker’s hold on us. Will anyone miss it?" [Wall Street Journal]

    — "How to fight Amazon (before you turn 29)." Robinson Meyer's profile: "Lina Khan has a novel theory about monopolies — and her sights are set squarely on the company." [The Atlantic]

    "The great Interview magazine caper." Jacob Bernstein writes: "Andy Warhol’s magazine is dead. No wait, it’s back! Inside Peter Brant’s latest magic trick." [New York Times]

    "How Pixar became a sequel factory."  Victor Luckerson writes: "Incredibles 2 is Pixar’s sixth sequel this decade and another sign that the Silicon Valley startup that valued originality over all else has been changed by Hollywood." [The Ringer]

    From the archives...

    + Forty years ago today: On June 16, 1978, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John danced their way into theaters. The film adaptation of Grease, directed by Randal Kleiser, would go on to become a summer box-office draw and enduring TV staple. Flashback review.

    Today's birthdays: Abby Elliott, 31, Daniel Brühl, 40, John Cho, 46, Laurie Metcalf, 63.