What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:02 AM 8/18/2017

by THR staff

James Murdoch -CEO of 21st Century Fox  - Getty-H 2017
Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

What's news: James Murdoch is the latest executive to criticize Trump for his reaction to Charlottesville. Plus: Ryan Kavanaugh gets hit with a fraud suit, Lucasfilm is developing an Obi-Wan Kenobi movie, Tina Fey appears on Weekend Update and Tom Cruise's thriller American Made is receiving mostly positive early reviews. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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  • CAA Gets Real on Diversity

    Agency insiders are revealing the insights — and frustrations — of a core team's decade-plus effort to bring more female and nonwhite talent to its client roster and ranks, Rebecca Sun writes: 

    For more than a decade, a team of employees at CAA has been working to address the agency's (and Hollywood's) dearth of female and nonwhite voices. Led by Christy Haubegger, these agents and executives realized that in order to change the industry, it had to start from within — and at the bottom.

    Today, 44 percent of the agency's motion picture department is female, and 22 percent are people of color, while the TV department is 46 percent female and 18 percent diverse. Nine of the 15-member core multicultural business development team gathered for a discussion about the lessons, successes and roadblocks so far.

    + Full conversation I How the agency convinces studios to hire diverse talent. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? 21st Century Fox exec James Murdoch pens memo criticizing Trump stance. In pledging to donate $1M to the Anti-Defamation League, he wrote: "I can’t even believe I have to write this: standing up to Nazis is essential; there are no good Nazis."

    ? ABC plans The Jetsons live-action reboot. The network is teaming with producer Warner Bros. Television to develop a modern take on the '60s cartoon family. The comedy will be written by Gary Janetti, who exec produces alongside Jack Rapke and Robert Zemeckis

    Amazon's Galaxy Quest TV revival back on track. Writer-actor-comedian Paul Scheer has been tapped to pen the script for the Paramount Television-produced series, taking over for the film's original scribe, Robert Gordon.

    ? Fox, Amy Poehler developing animated comedy. The network ordered a script from The Simpsons duo Mike and Julie Scully. The pitch: Teenager Duncan Harris is an average kid with dreams of  any job where you make a ton of money and don’t have to wear a tie. 

    ^The Defenders, reviewed. Despite glaring flaws, the new Marvel show, on Netflix today, becomes an enjoyable mashup of disparate heroes trying to save New York. Chief critic Tim Goodman's takeaway: "Leaden fist aside, this really works."

    + Early takes: NYT: "less than the sum of its superheroes." Vulture: "a grim slog." The Guardian: "Sigourney Weaver shines in Marvel's humdrum Avengers-lite." 

    ? Netflix's Maniac adds Justin Theroux. The Leftovers grad joins Emma Stone and Jonah Hill in the dark comedy based on the 2014 Norwegian TV series that centered a mental patient at a psychiatric ward who escapes reality.

    ? TruTV renews I'm Sorry for second season. Andrea Savage's scripted comedy partially inspired by her life will return in 2018.  Season one has been averaging 454,000 viewers with three days of delayed viewing factored in. 

    ? Fox plans Revival with Michael Showalter and Nahnatchka Khan. The network has given a put-pilot commitment to the comedy about a former child star from a beloved '80s family sitcom who gets sucked back into the show's revival. 

    Sony Pictures TV taps new head of current programming. 20th Century Television vet Jeffrey Glaser will replace Kim Rozenfeld at the studio as it restructures the exec team following the departures of Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht to Apple.

    New! Updated Emmy standings. Where does the race stand as of now for top contenders? Scott Feinberg weighs in as final-round voting continues, spotlighting This Is Us and Veep. Full forecast.

  • Star Wars Universe Expands

    Disney and Lucasfilm are adding to the Star Wars universe with plans for a stand-alone movie centering on Obi-Wan Kenobi, Borys Kit scoops: 

    Oscar-nominated director Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliot, The Hours) is in early talks to helm the stand-alone. Sources say talks are at the earliest of stages and that the project has no script. Ewan McGregor, who played the younger Kenobi in the prequels, has said he would be open to playing the character again. 

    Aaron Couch writes: If hired, the three-time Oscar nominee would buck the trend of Lucasfilm tapping less established directors for its stand-alone films. Rumors of a Kenobi spin-off have long swirled, alongside with talk of a Boba Fett movie. This is a big step for Obi-Wan, but as the film is still in very early stages of development, it's still up in the air if the Jedi most recently played by Ewan McGregor will be the first film past 2019's Episode IX. What the plot could draw from. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Box office: It heading toward record September debut. The R-rated film adaptation of Stephen King's It could clear $50M or more in its first weekend, besting Hotel Transylvania 2 to score the biggest start ever for September, not adjusting for inflation. 

    ? Ryan Kavanaugh hit with fraud suit from Relativity investor. Hedge fund investor Carey Metz says Kavanaugh duped him into lending $2 million. He is suing for fraudulent inducement, breach of oral contract and unjust enrichment, among other claims.

    ? Zazie Beetz mourns death of her Deadpool 2 stuntwoman. The Domino actress released a statement on Instagram, sharing her heartbreak over the loss of 40-year-old SJ Harris: "My heart has been breaking the past two days."

    ? Peter Guber, Steve Richards form new film benture. The industry veterans have partnered to launch Mandalay Endurance Media Ventures, a new film production, financing, and distribution platform with a focus on star-driven projects for the worldwide market.

    ? Michael B. Jordan, Jennifer Yuh Nelson Circling Mobster Thriller. The actors would join A Bittersweet Life, a Fox remake of a 2005 Korean film. It will be produced by 21 Laps’ Shawn Levy, Dan Levine and Dan Cohen.

    ^American Made, reviewed. Tom Cruise and Doug Liman reteam for this dark comedy-thriller about pilot Barry Seal, who worked for both the CIA and the Colombian cartel in the 1980s. The takeaway: "Entertaining, if familiar."

    + Early takes: IndieWire: "isn't perfect, but it gives Cruise one of his best roles in a long time." Screen Daily: "The star’s characteristic hard work and extensive amount of screen time goes a long way towards making American Made work."

    ? Tim Burton's live-action Dumbo adds Alan Arkin. The reimagined story also stars Collin Farrell, Eva Green, Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito, with Arkin playing a Wall Street tycoon. Dumbo is slated to hit theaters March 29, 2019. 

    Paramount Players lands Vacation Guide to the Solar System. The studio's new production division run Brian Robbins has acquired its first project, which will be adapted by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley (Horrible Bosses).

    Magnolia acquires Andre Leon Talley docThe Gospel According to Andre from director Kate Novack chronicles his career from Andy Warhol's Factory in the '70s to the pages of Vogue. Anna WintourTom Ford and Valentino are interviewed in the feature. 

    ? Universal's Night School enlists Tiffany Haddish. The Girls Trip breakout is joining the comedy starring Kevin Hart that follows a group of misfits who are forced to attend adult classes in the longshot chance they’ll pass the GED exam.

    ? R.I.P., Eric Zumbrunnen. The inventive film editor who worked with director Spike Jonze on several films, music videos and commercials, has died at 52. Full obit

  • Tina Fey Returns to 'SNL'

    Saturday Night Live alums Tina Fey, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon all made a return to the news desk on the second episode of the show's "Summer Edition" of Weekend Update last night. Fey talked about neo-Nazis and Trump, asking Americans to skip rallies and eat a sheet cake instead. Watch here. 

    What else we're reading...

    — "Does the world really want content from Apple?" Miriam Gottfried writes: "Big money can’t guarantee Apple success in Hollywood, especially when competitors are spending more." [The Wall Street Journal]

    "MoviePass wants to save moviegoing - if theaters will let it." Brian Barrett writes: "Is MoviePass snake oil or a glimmer of hope amidst one of the worst summer box office declines in years?" [Wired]

    "Crunchyroll cultivates a streaming community with a novel idea." Glenn Kenny writes: "As Netflix and Amazon take different approaches to theatrical releases, sites like Crunchyroll and Shudder are giving fans the gift of screenings." [The New York Times]

    "Against Instagram." Josephine Livingstone notes: "Ingrid Goes West points a finger at the proximity of Silicon Valley and venture capitalism to domestic aesthetics." [The New Republic]

    "Getting hate speech off music-streaming services." Spencer Kornhaber notes: "Spotify has pulled a number of bands from its platform in yet another example of tech companies grappling with white supremacy." [The Atlantic]

    Today's birthdays: Andy Samberg, 39, Edward Norton, 48, Christian Slater, 48, Madeleine Stowe, 59, Denis Leary, 60, Robert Redford, 81.