What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:12 AM 6/21/2018

by THR Staff

Universal

What's news: Universal's latest Jurassic sequel is set for a $130M-$140M stateside bow, lower than its predecessor. Plus: Meet the men defending Harvey Weinstein, a close look at MGM's $260M payout to Gary Barber, and Shaq shares his hectic showbiz plans. — Erik Hayden

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  • MGM's $260M Payout

    iStock; Getty Images

    MGM's eye-popping payout to former chairman Gary Barber as part of his exit arrangement, following his abrupt firing in March, is getting more of an explanation. Stephen Galloway writes:

    + The question. Was this just the latest salvo in an epidemic of increasing executive fees and exit payments? Or was it somehow justifiable? The answer is both.

    + Details: The board made a calculated move to buy back his ownership stake in order to prevent him from moving forward with a rumored hostile takeover. The deal includes 274,392 shares of common stock and 3,883,529 stock options, and Barber agreed to have no connection to MGM for three years. Purchasing his shares, rather than just giving him a golden parachute, "is an important and valid distinction," notes analyst Hal Vogel.

    + Historic exec payouts: Jeffrey Katzenberg received at least $280M from The Walt Disney Co. And Disney president Michael Ovitz received some $140M after he was dismissed. Viacom chairman and CEO Philippe Dauman was granted $72M when he stepped down. Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    Box office preview: Prerelease tracking suggests that Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will debut to $130M-$140M in North America. That compares to a mega-debut of $208.8M for Jurassic World in summer 2016. Preview I Jurassic marketing

    Paramount developing new Ninja Turtles movie. Michael Bay, Andrew Form and Brad Fuller will produce the feature via their Platinum Dunes banner. Andrew Dodge will write the script.

    Universal's Welcome to Marwen unveils trailer. From Robert Zemeckis, Steve Carell stars as a man who endures a devastating attack from a group of Nazis and suffers PTSD. The film arrives Nov. 21. Watch.

    ► Paramount Players enlists Mary J. Blige for thriller. The singer has signed on to star in Body Cam, a horror thriller directed by Malik Vitthal. The story has been described as a tonal blend of Get Out and End of Watch.

     Sony's Sicario: Day of the Soldado, reviewed (opens next Friday). Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro reprise their roles in this follow-up to the 2015 drug cartel thriller. The takeaway: "A worthy, rough-and-tough sequel."

    The list: Hollywood Reporter critics pick the top 10 films of 2018 so far. The titles: Annihilation, Beast, Black Panther, En El Septimo Dia, Hereditary, Incredibles 2, Lean on Pete, Leave No Trace, Let the Sunshine In and The Rider.

    ^Meet the men defending Harvey Weinstein. Private investigator Herman Weisberg (at right) has received death threats for his work with the disgraced mogul, but he maintains his integrity is intact. Full story.

    ► Paramount rounds out cast of Elton John biopic. Jamie Bell is in talks to join Taron Egerton (who is playing the singer) in Rocketman. Bell would play Bernie Taupin, the songwriting partner of John.

    Sony Pictures Classics condemns Peter Fonda's Barron Trump tweet. The studio is moving forward with plans to release the indie Boundaries, in which Fonda has a supporting role, even as it described his remarks as "abhorrent, reckless and dangerous."

    Academy elects Jennifer Todd for producers branch. In the earlier round of board voting, she had tied with Jason Blum, and so the two then competed in a run-off election, with members of the producers branch casting votes.

    + Academy denies invite to Kobe Bryant. A committee apparently felt that the NBA star (and Oscar winner) does not yet possess a substantial enough body of work to merit an invitation, since Dear Basketball was his first filmmaking venture.

    *R.I.P., Richard Alan Greenberg. The Oscar-nominated effects artist, who took main titles for movies to another level with his designs for such films as Superman, Alien and The World According to Garp, has died. He was 71. Full obit.

    In THR, Esq: Mel Gibson loses bid to reclaim rights to Madman film. A Los Angeles judge doesn't see enough evidence that Voltage Pictures breached a contract to a motion picture about the origins of the Oxford English Dictionary. Details. 

  • Last-Minute Emmy Pleas

    Courtesy Photos

    Voting check-in: As ballots are cast through June 25, critics Tim Goodman and Daniel Fienberg debate the hottest Emmy races, push for a few underdog shows and rally for one contender in particular: 

    Daniel Fienberg: Last year, an influx of buzzy new shows forced Emmy voters to look innovative. This year should see some category turnover as well, with Veep and Master of None leaving a comedy vacuum and Better Call Saul and House of Cards not airing in the eligibility window for drama. Let's start with outstanding drama series. Is it going to be as simple as former winner Game of Thrones and departing favorite The Americans sliding in to join the sparkly 2017 freshman class?

    Tim Goodman: The short answer is yes if we assume Emmy voters don't bounce out the other nominees from last season and, as you and I know all too well, it's best not to assume anything with any awards organization. That said, the Emmys are slightly more predictable and also more accurate (from a position of "are these shows critically deserving?") than the Golden Globes. Full chat. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Apple orders more international series. Weeks after acquiring the rights to Shantaram for an global drama series, the tech giant has handed out a 10-episode straight-to-series order for an English adaptation of the French short-form series Calls.

    Viacom unveils MTV Studios. The goal is to relaunch old hits — including Daria and The Real World — to sell to other networks and streamers. The slate also includes Aeon Flux and two original docuseries.

    ABC orders Lost-esque reality show. The network said that August will also bring the arrival of Castaways, a competition with 12 individuals dropped alone on a string of islets in Indonesia.

    Amazon inks first-look deal with Vince Gerardis. The genre producer, who worked on Game of Thrones, is George R.R. Martin's manager and has rights to an extensive intellectual property library from a roster of sci-fi/fantasy authors.

    Quoted: "Wow, who knew conservatives were so sensitive about the c-word? I should make a note." — Samantha Bee, talking about how I.C.E. had concerns with the term "cage" for detention centers.

    ^ABC's Take Two, reviewed (premieres tonight). A game Rachel Bilson gets very little support from Eddie Cibrian or her writers in the new gender-reversed attempt to recapture the magic of Castle. The takeaway: "The only mystery here involves a lack of creativity."

    Netflix, Starz show writers take action on border policy. The writing teams behind One Day at a Time and Vida have joined forces and are donating to RAICES Family Reunification and Bond Fund to fight against the Trump administration's policy that separates immigrant families.

    AMC's Walking Dead showrunner confirms time jump. Angela Kang remained tight-lipped about the futures of series stars Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan, but did reveal one major detail to expect when the zombie drama returns in October. 

    Sesame Workshop, Apple team for slate of children's programming. The tech giant unveiled a sweeping deal with Sesame Street producers Sesame Workshop that will include multiple live-action and animated series plus a puppet show.

    CW unveils fall premiere dates. Rolling out its new and returning series starting Oct. 9 with returns of the popular DC duo The Flash and Black Lightning, the network will air both Charmed and All American twice in the first weeks of the season. Dates. 

    ► MGM acquires unscripted indie house Big Fish. The reality producers, behind the A&E hit Live PD and VH1's Black Ink Crew, will now operate within Mark Burnett’s growing unscripted powerhouse. Details.

  • Shaq's Showbiz Plans

    Photographed By Meredith Jenks

    Armed with broad appeal, the NBA great is raising his entertainment game in an appropriately big way, Tatiana Siegel writes: 

    + First up: A co-starring role in the Lionsgate comedy Uncle Drew, which opens June 29. The film sees O’Neal playing a septuagenarian hoops has-been. He’s third lead, paid about $250,000 for the role.

    + Crowded slate: His upcoming projects include a Facebook Watch reality show Big Chicken, named after and chronicling the opening of his first restaurant chain; an animated show for Universal Kids Network based on his inspirational Little Shaq book series chronicling lessons from his childhood; and two scripted TBS comedies. Full story. 

    What else we're reading...

    "I stop celebrities from blowing their money." Charlotte Cowles speaks with accountant Kristin Lee, who "manages finances for mix of high-level artists and entertainers - actors, recording artists, producers, writers." [The Cut]

    "A Spotify for videogames?" Takashi Mochizuki notes: "one sign that videogames could follow a path already well established for movies and music." [Wall Street Journal]

    "TV networks find eloquence in starkness." Troy Patterson writes: "The messiness of the on-air talent at the border ... the emotional exhaustion, the eyes blinking back tears ... told a portion of the story." [New Yorker]

    "Instagram takes aim at YouTube." Louise Matsakis and Lauren Goode write: "The new app for long-form video will exist within Instagram’s existing app, which now has more than 1 billion monthly active users." [Wired]

    — "Beyonce & Jay-Z vs. 5 Seconds of Summer." Keith Caulfield notes: "The Carters’ Everything Is Love and 5 Seconds of Summer’s Youngblood are each vying for a No. 1 debut on next week’s Billboard 200 albums chart, according to industry forecasters." [Billboard]

    From the archives... 

    + On June 21, 1991, Disney brought Joe Johnston's The Rocketeer comic book adaptation to the big screen. Flashback review. 

    Today's birthdays: Jussie Smollett, 35, Chris Pratt, 39, Maggie Siff, 44, Juliette Lewis, 45, Lana Wachowski, 53, Michael Gross, 71.