What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:02 AM 7/12/2017

by THR Staff

Austin Hargrave

It's magazine day! War for the Planet of the Apes star Woody Harrelson is on the cover, getting very candid about his career arc. Plus: New details from Murdoch-world about Fox's approach to its harassment scandals, an in-depth look at how Fox and Friends actually works and full category-by-category Emmy predictions. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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In the latest issue, Woody Harrelson speaks out in his own words about his career arc from "anonymous and poor" to Cheers, Oscar noms and his upcoming films, including Planet of the Apes and the Han Solo spinoff. An excerpt on Han Solo: 

Harrelson: "I turned down Hunger Games twice. I didn't have any idea it would be that big, but I didn't think it was a good part. I was wrong. It was a terrific part, and it was a terrific thing, but thank God [director] Gary Ross called me. And [executive] Alli Shearmur, too. I turned [the Han Solo movie] down twice, too, and the same person, Alli, wouldn't take no for an answer.

Definitely [Star Wars] has more secrecy than anything ever. You get an e-reader; you don't get a script. They give it to you, and you give it back after you read it. But I was like, 'I've got to be with my family, I got to go home.' I'd been home in Maui one week since November.

But I met with [directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller] one night, and we hung out and we went over to Matthew Freud's and played pingpong and just had a great time. They were really good guys. I've been enjoying it [since then], especially because we just went to [shoot at] the Dolomites in Italy. [Co-star] Thandie Newton said, 'It's like being at camp 'cause you got everybody together,' and we had a couple of epic parties.

Alli gave me the word on [Ron Howard replacing the directors]. He's a wonderful guy. And we did shoot one day with him — we had to shoot because Thandie had to leave. We start again July 12. I think I read some stuff where people were worried about the fate of this movie. I wouldn't worry. The Force is still very much with it."

Full cover story | Video: Harrelson on Hollywood "misconceptions."

  • Inside Fox's Harassment Purge

    Illustration by Scott Anderson

    Ousted exec Jamie Horowitz is prepping a lawsuit and anchor Charles Payne vows to fight allegations as the Murdochs adopt a "zero tolerance" policy in the wake of the Bill O'Reilly scandal, Marisa Guthrie and Ashley Cullins report:

    Sources within Fox Sports say the Horowitz firing came after more than one allegation of misconduct with a female employee and that the specifics of the interactions made immediate termination a necessity.

    But Horowitz's attorney Patty Glaser is said to be preparing a lawsuit and conducting her own investigation with an eye on arguing that Fox, hypersensitive due to the Fox News scandal and nervous about regulatory scrutiny of its planned acquisition of Sky Television in the U.K., acted impulsively and without all the facts.

    According to sources, Horowitz also is being accused of an inappropriate incident with another woman, who came forward during the investigation, which took less than a month and was handled by an outside investigator, not a law firm (as is the case in the New York-based probe at Fox News). Fox Sports hired Daniel Petrocelli and his firm, but only after Glaser began representing Horowitz.

    Daniel Petrocelli, the top litigator who was hired to represent Fox Sports in the matter, tells THR: "We are confident that Mr. Horowitz knows why his employment was terminated, and we presume that he would prefer that the matter not publicly be discussed." Behind the scenes at Fox. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Showtime moves Homeland shoot to Virginia. The drama is relocating production to the state for its upcoming seventh season. Filming will begin in the Richmond area this fall, with the network eyeing a 2018 premiere.

    Showtime plans The L Word sequel. Eight years after the show wrapped, series creator Ilene Chaiken will exec produce alongside original stars Jennifer Beals, Kate Moennig and Leisha Hailey, who will connect with a new ensemble.

    Netflix sets Umbrella Academy live-action TV series. The 10-episode drama, set to launch in 2018, is based on Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba's beloved comic of the same name.

    Comedy Central's Daily Show adds correspondent. Michael Kosta, a former pro tennis player, is joining the late night show, and made his first appearance last night. He's likely filling in for Jordan Klepper, who now has his own series.

    ► "Sean Hannity throws nothing but softballs in interview with Donald Trump Jr." Frank Scheck takes a closer look at the interview that everybody's talking about this morning: "The Fox News Channel host acted like a defense attorney who's put his client on the witness stand." 

    ^At Fox & Friends, America's most influential news program (seriously). Marisa Guthrie visits the studio for an in-depth profile on the morning show that the rest of the media loves to hate as it becomes the eye of the presidential hurricane: "We were doing Donald Trump issues before Donald Trump was Donald Trump."

    And more TV...

    CBS, Michael Jackson estate team for special. The network has partnered with the estate for a new hour-long animated special for which his extensive discography will serve as the soundtrack. It's titled Michael Jackson's Halloween.

    Netflix's Ozark, reviewed. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star in this dour money-laundering drama, but it's Julia Garner who steals the show. The takeaway: "Not boring, but self-serious to the extreme."

    CBS' Salvation, reviewed. A meteor is going to hit Earth. In the meantime, you should probably watch a better drama than this CBS summer throwaway. The takeaway: "Look out — for something else."

    HBO's Westworld adds Leftovers grad. Katja Herbers will join the drama for season two, playing a seasoned guest in Westworld. The casting news comes as production prepares to begin. 

    ► History's military drama recruits Olivia Munn. The actress has joined the second season of Six, inspired by real missions of Navy SEAL Team Six. The drama debuted in January as History's second original scripted series. 

    MTV unveils new unscripted lineup. The cabler has greenlit a spin-off of Catfish, titled Catfish: Trolls; Undressed, a dating series in which contestants are tasked with undressing each other; and game show Win Big.

    ABC's Bachelorette climbs in ratings. Monday brought a pretty even split between Bachelorette and NBC's American Ninja Warrior. Both shows averaged a 1.4 rating among adults 18-49 and 5.6M viewers.

    Plus: How cable news PR staffers respond to Trump tweets. Jeremy Barr speaks with reps who've had to deal with Trump's daily Twitter attacks, and respond quickly. "I think it's incredibly important to do it in the moment," explains Matt Dornic, a CNN spokesman. "I get frustrated if it takes more than 30 minutes."

  • China Delays Big Movies

    Courtesy of Marvel

    Spider-Man: Homecoming's box-office dominance is missing one major piece of the global puzzle: China. Patrick Brzeski writes: 

    So far in 2017, most major Hollywood tentpoles have opened in China day-and-date with North America, or just shortly after their U.S. debut. But sources in Beijing say Sony's Spider-Man: Homecoming has yet to be given an official release date, which means it is unlikely to open in the world's second-largest film market until at least August.

    The same goes for 20th Century Fox’s War for The Planet of the Apes, opening in North America on Friday, and Luc Besson's Valerian, set for a North American debut on July 21. Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk, meanwhile, isn't expected to open in China until early September, well after its July 19 U.S. bow.

    The delays could cost Hollywood millions. In an increasingly integrated — and still piracy-vulnerable — global entertainment landscape, late release dates have been known to erode box office significantly. The uncertainty surrounding these much-anticipated tentpoles is the clearest indication yet that Beijing's media regulators intend to reinstate their infamous blackout on foreign film imports during the lucrative summer moviegoing season.

    Elsewhere in film... 

    ► Quentin Tarantino plans movie tackling Manson Murders. Borys Kit's scoop: The project was written by Tarantino, who would also direct. Sources say Jennifer Lawrence and Brad Pitt, who worked with the filmmaker on Inglourious Basterds, have been approached. More details. 

    Suicide Squad 2 director search heats up. Jaume Collet-Serra has emerged as the likely helmer for the film, which is eyeing a mid-2018 start for the sequel to its 2016 action movie that grossed $745.6M worldwide.

    Paramount finds star for Transformers spinoff. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. is in talks for another big project: He'll play the young male lead in Bumblebee. Hailee Steinfeld also will star in the film which Travis Knight is helming.

    Clint Eastwood casts real soldier heroes in Paris train attack film. Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone will play themselves in The 15:17 to Paris, about their experience thwarting a terrorist attack in 2015.

    ^Disney wins dismissal of Zootopia lawsuit. For now, that is. At this point, a California judge doesn't see enough similarity in work from Gary L. Goldman, the writer of Total Recall, enough to state a plausible claim for infringement.

    The Pilgrim's Progress in the works as faith-based film. The title, dubbed Heavenquest: A Pilgrim's Progress, is based on the 1678 book and is from King Street Pictures, founded by former Warner Bros. attorney Dan Mark and his partner Rachel Tan.

    That Good Night, reviewed. The late John Hurt, in his final lead performance, stars in Eric Styles' play adaptation, premiering in competition at the Scottish festival. The takeaway: "A fond farewell to a much-loved legend."

    Cartels, reviewed. Federal agents attempt to protect a Russian drug kingpin turned informer in Steven Seagal's new action movie. The takeaway: "A far cry from the star's glory days."

    Universal inks deal with Dylan Clark's production banner. The studio has inked a first-look production deal with Dylan Clark Productions. The company will develop and produce Universal titles, including Scarface and Battlestar Galactica.

    Plus: Academy president race takes shape. Scott Feinberg's latest column: Oscar-nominated actress Laura Dern, Oscar-nominated documentarian Rory Kennedy and casting director David Rubin are expected to face off to succeed Cheryl Boone Isaacs. Details.

  • This Year's Emmys Predictions

    From left to right: Courtesy of FX, Hulu and HBO

    With Emmy nominations morning approaching, Scott Feinberg gives his final full predictions and outlines what he's looking for as the honors are unveiled: 

    + Who will take Game's throne? HBO's epic fantasy Game of Thrones led the Emmys field in total nominations for the past three years and in total wins in each of the last two, claiming the drama series prize in 2015 and 2016. But this year, it won't receive any recognition after, well, abdicating the throne. (It's seventh season bows July 16, missing this season's May 31 eligibility cutoff.) So which show will be the TV Academy's favorite this season? It could well be one of two other HBO offerings, the limited series Big Little Lies or the comedy series Veep; FX's limited series Feud or Fargo; Netflix's drama series The Crown and Stranger Things; or NBC's variety sketch series Saturday Night Live or drama series This Is Us.

    + Hail the conquering streamers? In the drama series category, with Game of Thrones' slot opening up and the major streaming services — Netflix, Amazon and Hulu — offering better options than ever before, we could be looking at the first instance in history in which as many as three streaming shows earn drama series noms, and maybe even more. Netflix probably can expect noms for The Crown (which won this year's best drama series Golden Globe), Stranger Things (which won this year's best ensemble SAG Award) and House of Cards (which has been nominated for all four of its previous seasons). And Hulu looks poised to snag its first series nom for The Handmaid's Tale, which has become a cultural phenomenon.

    + Signs of life from broadcast? Pay cable and streaming increasingly have dominated the Emmys landscape in recent years, particularly in the drama series category. Indeed, the last broadcast drama series to land a nom in the category was The Good Wife back in 2011 and the most recent winner was 24 more than a decade ago, in 2006. But the highest-rated new drama series in 2017, which also received widespread critical acclaim, was This Is Us, which hails from The Peacock Network and looks all but certain to land a drama series nom — and maybe even win. On the comedy side, ABC's popular Black-ish and Modern Family seem likely to receive series noms again. But broadcast's biggest ratings behemoths — the CBS comedy The Big Bang Theory and the Fox drama Empire — appear destined to watch from the sidelines.

    Category-by-category Emmys prediction list I What to watch for. 

    What else we're reading... 

    "All hail Black Panther." Anthony Breznican's feature: "For this week’s cover, welcome to Wakanda — an Afro-futurist paradise whose king is one of the most groundbreaking heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe." [EW]

    "The politicization of Jay-Z." Greg Tate's cover story: "Simply put, 4:44 is the most provocatively pro–Black Nationalist rap album since Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet." [Village Voice]

    "The end of the feature film." Ben Fritz writes: "In the age of Netflix movies, HBO TV shows and Marvel big-screen series, the 120-year-old definition of a feature film is defunct." [The Wall Street Journal]

    — "Why it's O.K. to start a TV show in the middle." James Poniewozik writes: "More and more you hear, 'It really gets good in Season 2.' So maybe that’s where you should start watching." [The New York Times]

    "Jason Bateman is ready for a dramatic transformation." David Marchese's profile: "Thankful as he is for his post-Bluth career fortunes, he’s hoping to dial back the acting and dial up the producing and directing." [New York]

    "U2 plays The Joshua Tree; Outside it's America." Sarah Larson writes: "Rarely do you love a band with your whole heart for a decade and then turn away sharply, but that’s what happened to me with U2." [The New Yorker]

    "Quincy Jones faces off with Michael Jackson's company in jury trial." Ashley Cullins reports: "The trial pits a dead music legend against a living one in what a potential juror described as 'a tragedy.'" Details.

    What else we're seeing...

    + Activists disrupt Woody Allen's concert in Germany. [Video]

    + Joe Scarborough says he can no longer be a Republican. [Late Show]

    + "Gremlins reboot starring Putin & Trump." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    Today's Birthdays: Kristen Connolly, 37, Michelle Rodriguez, 39, Topher Grace, 39, Phil Lord, 42, Brian Grazer, 66, Ben Burtt, 69, Richard Simmons, 69.