What's news: Bill Clinton is hitting the town to talk A-listers into adapting an upcoming novel for the big screen. Plus: CNN wins a racial bias case, Nat Geo is teaming with Leonardo DiCaprio for a Right Stuff series and Olivia de Havilland is looking to expedite her Feud lawsuit against FX. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman
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A heated battle is brewing in Hollywood for film rights to Bill Clinton's upcoming novel, and A-list meetings are on the schedule, Rebecca Ford and Kim Masters report:
Former President Bill Clinton and author James Patterson will be meeting producers to talk about an adaptation of their novel The President Is Missing, out June 2018. Sources say that Clinton and Patterson will meet with interested producers this week.
Taking meetings: J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg and George Clooney are among those who will be talking in-person with the pair. Producer Steve Bing, known to be a close friend of Clinton, is also said to be getting a meeting.
The project would be the first book-to-film adaptation for Clinton, who has written three books since leaving office in January 2001. Plot details on The President Is Missing are scarce, but a May 8 statement announcing the book promised "insider details that only a president can know."
Elsewhere in film...
► Nicolas Cage criticized by Human Rights Group. Photos of the actor dressed in traditional garb in Kazakhstan, attending the Eurasia Film Festival, have gone viral. But a human rights group is taking Cage to task for ginning up positive press coverage for an authoritarian regime.
► Wonder Woman 2 sets 2019 release date. Gal Gadot will return for a sequel, which will hit theaters on Dec. 13, 2019. Talks with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins are ongoing.
► Lionsgate plots possible John Wick universe. After a bidding war, Lionsgate has picked up a female-centric spec action script titled Ballerina that will serve as a platform for a possible spin-off. Basil Iwanyk will produce.
► Rick Famuyiwa in talks to tackle Sons of Shaolin. The Dope director is in negotiations to direct the teen martial arts feature project that is set up at Columbia Pictures. Sony execs Matt Milam and Maia Eyre are overseeing for the studio.
► Nicholas Hoult in early talks to play young J.R.R. Tolkien. The actor, who will star as J.D. Salinger in Rebel in the Rye, is in talks to play the author of The Lord of the Rings trilogy in the movie Tolkien. The project is being written by David Gleeson and Stephen Beresford.
► Jared Leto circling Sony's Bloodshot. Sony Pictures is courting Leto to star in the adaptation of the comic from Valiant Entertainment with Dave Wilson is attached to direct. The star has the offer to play the title character but dealmaking has yet to begin.
^Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham for Pentagon Papers movie. The Oscar winner has debuted her take on the former Washington Post publisher for her role in Steven Spielberg's upcoming film The Papers, courtesy of a photo that has emerged of Streep on set.
► Melissa McCarthy, Ben Falcone reteam with Steve Mallory. The screenwriter is partnering with the couple for his next script, Super-Intelligence. New Line has preemptively purchased the spec screenplay by Mallory, and McCarthy and Falcone will produce.
► Blumhouse thriller adds Brian Tyree Henry, Alfred Molina. Mykelti Williamson is also joining the cast of Only You, starring David Oyelowo and Storm Reid. The film, now shooting in L.A., involves a police officer (Oyelowo) whose family was killed, a niece (Reid) in danger.
► Olympus Has Fallen follow-up finds director. Ric Roman Waugh, who wrote and directed the Stephen Dorff-starrer Felon, will helm Millennium Films' Angel Has Fallen, a threequel that will star Gerard Butler reprising his Olympus role.
► Studio 8 to remake The Fury of a Patient Man. Albert Hughes, the director of the upcoming epic Alpha, will helm the remake, with Javier Gullon, who wrote Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, penning the script. The original won several Goya Awards, Spain’s version of the Oscars.
► Toronto Film Fest unveils big lineup. High-profile releases headed to the fest include Jennifer Lawrence's Mother!, George Clooney's Suburbicon, Steve Carell and Emma Stone's Battle of the Sexes, and Margot Robbie's Tonya Harding film, I, Tonya. Full list.
► New York Film Fest plans Woody Allen movie to close. The 1950s-set Wonder Wheel, which stars Kate Winslet, Juno Temple, Justin Timberlake and James Belushi, has been selected by the fest, often seen as a springboard for awards-season play, sources say.
► R.I.P., Barbara Sinatra. The wife of legendary singer Frank Sinatra for nearly 22 years died of natural causes at her home in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 90. Full obit.
► Chelsea Handler to host HFPA banquet. The comedian will host the annual Grants Banquet, which will be held Aug. 2 in Beverly Hills. The organization, which also presents the Golden Globes, plans to hand out $2.6 million in grants and scholarships at the event. Details.
A year after stunning industry observers with the abrupt cancellation of The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore, Comedy Central is starting to find its late-night footing, Lesley Goldberg writes:
Rookie weekly series The President Show, featuring Anthony Atamanuik, has helped improve Comedy Central's footing in Wilmore's former 11:30 p.m. slot by 17 percent among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic since its April 27 premiere. (When factoring in total viewers, The President Show is up 140 percent vs. a year ago.)
And, following a yearlong process that included searching for talent and developing new projects, come Sept. 25, Comedy Central will have a daily strip series to take over the 11:30 slot full-time in The Opposition With Jordan Klepper launching out of The Daily Show. Klepper told the press Tuesday that his show will satirize both the left and the right during the country's divisive political climate. The series will be more of an homage to The Colbert Report than The Nightly Show as Klepper plays a character a la Stephen Colbert.
That will lead in to additional episodes of The President Show starting Thursday, Sept. 28, in its new slot at midnight as the cabler firms up its late-night block. The new lineup was nearly a year in the making and comes after Comedy Central president Kent Alterman made the difficult decision to cancel Wilmore's Nightly Show after 250-plus episodes. Full story.
Elsewhere in TV...
► FX vs. Olivia de Havilland lawsuit update. The 101-year-old is asking the court to expedite her lawsuit against the network over her portrayal in Feud: Bette and Joan. She claims Ryan Murphy's series made her look like a gossip who exploited the personal lives of others to further her own career.
► Time Warner beats lawsuit claiming racial discrimination at CNN. A putative class action is dismissed by a judge who sees "conclusory assertions, rank speculation, confusing statements, and generalized allegations."
► Fox hit with $48M lawsuit for allegedly scapegoating exec. Francisco Cortes, a former vice president at Fox News Latino, says he was forced by contract to stay silent as Tamara Holder came forward to accuse him of assault. Details.
► Imagine Entertainment strikes $100M co-financing deal. Brian Grazer and Ron Howard's company is partnering with TVB Venture, a unit of Hong Kong-based Television Broadcasts Ltd. It will use the financing "for the development and production of television projects."
► CBS' Late Show "Russia week" pays off in ratings. For the week of July 17-21, Stephen Colbert averaged nearly 2.9M viewers. Not only is that a 14 percent jump from the same week during the prior year, but it also marks his widest margin of victory over NBC's The Tonight Show.
^Nat Geo, Leonardo DiCaprio plot The Right Stuff series. The cabler is teaming with the actor's Appian Way Productions banner and Warner Horizon Scripted TV to develop an adaptation of Tom Wolfe's book with the goal of having a multiple-season scripted drama series.
► Fox pilot watch: LA to Vegas. Critic Daniel Fienberg takes a closer look at the upcoming midseason commuter airline comedy that has a very funny pilot "and a breakout star in Dylan McDermott's mustache."
► FX's American Horror Story marketing plan. The team behind the show's interactive, hint-dropping website explains the two-month journey leading up to the anthology's premiere: "This campaign is about making the fans a part of the experience early."
► Universal TV reups deal with Danielle Gelber. The former head of development at Dick Wolf's Uni-based Wolf Films banner has re-upped her first-look deal with the studio. She will develop and executive produce new programming for a wide variety of platforms.
► Netflix's Matt Groening comedy rounds out voice cast. The streaming giant has picked up 20 episodes of Disenchantment, which takes place in a crumbling medieval kingdom called Dreamland. Abbi Jacobson, Nat Faxon and Eric Andre will voice the lead characters.
► ABC's Bachelorette borrows location from Game of Thrones. The reality franchise followed Rachel Lindsay to northern Spain, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, which Thrones fans should recognize as one of the real-life locations for Dragonstone.
► David Letterman laments sameness of late-night TV. He made a rare appearance on a talk show since retiring as the host of the Late Show when he dropped by to visit Norm Macdonald's podcast. The former CBS personality said: "I think you are bound by the pressure of who is writing the checks."
After notching a record $85M sale for his Malibu compound in May, David Geffen took a relatively small hit, at least by his standards, on the sale of the final piece of his Malibu real estate portfolio. This week Geffen unloaded a 1,500-square-foot cottage on Carbon Beach for $8M. Details.
What else we're reading...
— "What Christopher Nolan gets right about Netflix." David Sims notes: "The Dunkirk director has been loudly dismissive of the company’s policy on theatrical releases - but he’s really just arguing for a different streaming model." [The Atlantic]
— "During Hollywood blackout, domestic films dominate China's box office." Gaochao Zhang writes: "The blackouts - officially called 'domestic film protection periods' - have historically given a summer bump to local films." [The Los Angeles Times]
— "Michael Moore says he wants to change minds. So why is he on Broadway?" Dave Itzkoff writes: "His one-man show, The Terms of My Surrender, is opening at the Belasco Theater. But theater audiences in New York may already be part of his choir." [The New York Times]
— "Microsoft is hustling us with 'white spaces.'" Susan Crawford writes: "Microsoft says it wants to use spare TV bandwidth to close the digital divide. But the company has even bigger plans than that." [Wired]
— "Inside Gregg Allman's musical farewell." David Browne's feature: "Collaborators recall the emotional sessions for the singer's final LP Southern Blood - and explain how it tells his life story through song." [Rolling Stone]
What else we're seeing...
+ "Jessica Williams got a DM from J.K. Rowling." [Late Show]
+ "Kelly Ripa had a run-in with a bear." [Late Night]
+ "Edie Falco can't hide from real life Carmella Sopranos." [Late Late Show]
Today's Birthdays: Kate Beckinsale, 44, Chris Harrison, 46, Jason Statham, 50, Jeremy Piven, 52, Sandra Bullock, 53, Kevin Spacey, 58, Helen Mirren, 72, Mick Jagger, 74.