What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:16 AM 6/6/2018

by THR Staff

Ramona Rosales

What's news: Universal's Jurassic sequel is readying a massive overseas bow as the film's review embargo lifts. Plus: Stacey Snider is walking a tightrope amid corporate consolidation, Jared Leto is producing a stand-alone Joker movie and Shari Redstone may look to sell CBS-Viacom. — Erik Hayden

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On the cover: Jessica Chastain. Like the strong women she plays onscreen, the actress has emerged as a powerful force for change, both as a producer and a vocal preacher for Time's Up. Anna Peele writes:

+ Equal pay among stars in her new film. It was Chastain's idea for spy film 355's stars to be paid equally in a deal orchestrated by CAA. Chastain had employed a "favored nations" deal, where actors with equivalently sized parts tie their salaries together and make the same amount of money. The film was the biggest sale at Cannes, with Universal paying more than $20 million for the movie, plus large foreign distribution deals.

+ Breaking out as a producer. "There is an entrepreneurial side of Jess," says collaborator Simon Kinberg. "It's not just about wanting to make sure women are treated as fairly as their male peers. It's not just about power and control. It's about wanting to shake up a system that's a little creaky and makes movies the way they were made in the '20s and '30s."

+ Public activism. She has became a vocal participant in the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, which provides support to women who have experienced workplace sexual harassment, abuse and assault. The group has raised $21.7 million to date. "The socially conscious part [of me] is just everywhere," Chastain says. "In my personal life and in my work life. I don't think that's a different hat. It's just who I am." Full cover story. 

  • Snider's Tightrope Walk

    Illustration by: Matt Collins

    As consolidation looms, Fox Film chairman and CEO Stacey Snider, like many, is stuck in executive limbo, actively plotting her next move while playing a precarious waiting game. Pamela McClintock writes:

    + She isn't likely to join Disney, which has yet to state its plan for the Fox film and TV studios if its $52.4 billion bid is accepted over a rival from Comcast. But she can't be seen as campaigning for another job while also running the day-to-day at her studio. And 21st Century Fox president Peter Rice, who is expected to move over to a top job at Disney, has said publicly he doesn't know what his game plan is.

    + Another studio? If the AT&T merger goes through, there could be a change in ranks at Warner Bros. Stankey has said Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara is "a talented guy," but should Tsujihara depart post-merger, AT&T could bring in a replacement above Motion Picture Group chairman Toby Emmerich. Sources say Snider has been informally pitched to AT&T brass but stress that no overtures have been made by either side.

    + Or tech? Another possibility: Snider could decide to join one of the tech companies, which are still figuring out how to navigate Hollywood culture and talent relationships. Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    Warner Bros plans Jared Leto Joker movie. The actor would star in and exec produce the solo pic that is set in the Suicide Squad universe. The studio is still developing another Joker movie directed by Todd Phillips and potentially starring Joaquin Phoenix.

    MGM enlists star-studded cast for Addams Family. Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Bette Midler, Allison Janney will lead the voice cast for the new animated take. Sausage Party filmmaker Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan will direct.

    Lee Daniels in talks for Billie Holiday biopic. The director may helm Billie, from a script by Suzan Lori-Parks, a Pulitzer Prize winner, for producers Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum. No studio is attached currently.

    Quoted: "On social media a few unhealthy people can cast a big shadow on the wall, but over the past 4 years I’ve met lots of real fellow SW fans. We like & dislike stuff but we do it with humor, love & respect." — Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, tweeting after star Kelly Marie Tran left social media over harassment.

    ^Universal's Jurassic World sequel to launch with $140M overseas. The film, which begins rolling out Wednesday in its first raft of markets, is opening offshore in advance of its June 22 debut in North American theaters. Full preview.

    + Early reviews: Hollywood Reporter: "A thrill ride that finally escapes the theme park." LA Times: "These movies will go on and on, but some of us are still waiting for them to evolve." AP: "gets away with its unoriginality for the most part."

    Ocean's 8, reviewed. Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett head an all-female crew out to lift $150M worth of rocks from the Met Gala in this spinoff of the heist franchise. The takeaway: "More gloss and glitter than actual jewels." Rotten Tomatoes score: 77 percent so far. 

    Hotel Artemis, reviewed. Jodie Foster leads an ensemble that includes Sterling K. Brown, Jeff Goldblum and Sofia Boutella in a noirish crime drama. The takeaway: "Richly imagined, but less than the sum of its tantalizing parts." 

    Trailer watch: Oscar Isaac chases Nazis in MGM's Operation Finale, Peter Jackson's next franchise roars to life with Mortal Engines, Paramount goes '80s with Transformer spinoff Bumblebee

    In THR, Esq: Harvey Weinstein employment deal becomes public. He was earning a base salary of more than $2.6M and 25 percent of annual net profits. He was also under obligations to reduce overhead at the company. Plus: "code of conduct" section.

  • Shari's Options

    Getty Images; iStock

    How can Shari Redstone position CBS and Viacom to compete with Facebook, Google and Netflix? Maybe she won't try. Here are ways the merger scenario might eventually resolve itself, Paul Bond and Georg Szalai write:

    1. CBS goes cherry-picking. Moonves is said to hate the idea of acquiring all of Viacom's cable channels, even rebounding MTV and Comedy Central; but Viacom might be willing to sell itself off piecemeal, prompting CBS to bid on Paramount Pictures for access to movies and to help populate its CBS All Access OTT service. Moonves also might want Nickelodeon.

    2. CBS merges, then shops. After a merger, Moonves could then pay cash to acquire Lionsgate, which sports about a $5 billion market cap, says Bryan Kraft of Deutsche Bank. In this scenario, he'd get the studio behind a few Netflix favorites, like Orange Is the New Black, along with film franchises like John Wick.

    3. Both companies are sold. If Redstone gets her way and CBS merges with Viacom, her next move could be to sell the combined entity to the highest bidder, and Verizon or a John Malone company — Discovery Communications or Liberty Media — should be interested, says Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger. Other options.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Netflix reshapes global entertainment economy. From a new study by PWC: Traditional TV and home video appears to have peaked in 2015 at $110.3B. This year, it will hit $102.5B and will sink to $96.1B in 2022.

    Facebook funding Fox News, CNN shows. The platform is lifting the veil on its new slate of original news shows, including the first partners who are producing shortform shows for the social networking giant's Watch video tab.

    Amazon lands Jordan Peele deal. More than a year after signing a first-look TV pact with Sonar, the writer-director has moved his small-screen deal. The news comes on the heels of Amazon handing out a series pickup to The Hun.

    Freeform teams with Joss Whedon for comedy. He is partnering with creators Siobhan Thompson and Rebecca Drysdale for a half-hour comedy called Pippa Smith: Grown-Up Detective, a rare small-screen project for Whedon. 

    Quoted: "If you have an agent who used #MeToo as an excuse for not getting the job done, please consider that it might be time for a change to your team." — Grey's Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff, writing about the notion that male TV writers are "losing" jobs to women as Hollywood attempts to remedy a historic gender imbalance.

    ^TBS to give more oversight to Samantha Bee after Trump slur. Jeremy Barr writes: Network management will have more scrutiny over Bee's show, a source says. The plan is for management to work with the show to prevent another incident that could scare advertisers and draw condemnation from both sides of the political aisle. Full story.

    YouTube Red's Impulse, reviewed. The new series is part of the Jumper family, but it's driven by a very strong lead performance from Maddie Hasson. The takeaway: "Expect more emotional trauma than exciting teleporting."

    ► HBO enlists Zendaya for Euphoria pilot. The actress is joining a cast of the teen drama about "drugs, sex and identity" that includes Maude Apatow and Storm Reid. Creators are Ron Leshem, Daphna Levin and Tmira Yardeni.

    Hulu nabs comedy hit Letterkenny. The streamer has acquired U.S. rights to the first two seasons of the Canadian CraveTV scripted original created by and starring Jared Keeso.

    NBC gets win from Stanley Cup finals. The network's NHL coverage averaged a 1.5 rating among adults 18-49 and 4.7M viewers during primetime for game 4.

    Where the Emmys race stands right now. Scott Feinberg is out with his latest take on the top categories less than a week before nomination voting. Elisabeth Moss, Claire Foy, Keri Russell, Evan Rachel Wood, Claire Danes and Mandy Moore lead the way in the drama actress category. Full Forecast.

  • Nightlife Meets Politics

    Jakob N. Layman

    First Look: Mark and Jonnie Houston, L.A. nightlife kings, are launching a new Hollywood club, Madame Siam Sideshow Emporium, where Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are targets. Where it's at: The former location of a subterranean speakeasy on Hollywood Boulevard. Details. 

    What else we're reading... 

    "Kate Spade inspired a generation of females." Booth Moore's tribute: "Often piling her hair in a beehive 'do, and wearing pedal pushers like Audrey Hepburn, she became a fixture on the scenes in New York City and in Southampton." [Pret-a-Reporter]

    "Broadway mogul redefines clout in his own fashion." Michael Paulson's profile: "Jordan Roth’s theaters are full of hits. He’s up for a Tony himself as a producer. And his provocative self-expression has made him the talk of the town." [The New York Times]

    "Brendan Fraser says the HFPA denied his claims of sexual harassment." Zach Baron writes: "The organization quietly launched an internal investigation and, according to Fraser, tried to explain that Berk’s actions were intended as 'a joke.'” [GQ]

    "How single-take shots invaded franchise movies." Jayson Greene writes: "Once reserved for auteurs like Martin Scorsese and awards season darlings, seamless one-shot sequences are starting to appear in movies like Black Panther and The Last Jedi." [The Ringer]

    "Behind the messy, expensive split between Facebook and WhatsApp’s founders." Kirsten Grind and Deepa Seetharaman report: "After a long dispute over how to produce more revenue with ads and data, the messaging app’s creators are walking away leaving about $1.3 billion on the table​." [Wall Street Journal]

    Listing of the day... 

    + Former NBC Universal vice chairman Ron Meyer puts Malibu compound on the market for $125M. The location.

    From the archives... 

    + On June 6, 1998, HBO introduced Carrie Bradshaw and Sex and the City to television audiences, with THR's critic calling the first episode "choppy and burdened with impossible dialogue." Flashback review. 

    Today's birthdays: Jonathan Nolan, 42, Danny Strong, 44, Paul Giamatti, 51, Jason Isaacs, 55, Hirokazu Koreeda, 56, Harvey Fierstein, 64, Robert Englund, 71.