What's news: Snapchat is the next digital giant plotting a move into scripted programming. Plus: Warner Bros. is planning a new label for movies featuring DC Comics characters, Judge Judy details salary talks with CBS and a rundown of social media stars making it big in Hollywood. — Matthew Belloni and Erik Hayden
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Snap's head of content, Nick Bell, is charged with creating video programming that will keep Snapchat's 173 million daily users engaged, the key to fighting rival Facebook for advertiser dollars, Natalie Jarvey writes:
"The biggest revelation for us out of Discover was that shortform video doesn't work on mobile," says Bell. "Mobile video is a new format." To that end, Bell isn't so much looking to replace TV as augment it. "Mobile is not a TV killer," he said yesterday during an appearance at the Edinburgh TV Festival, where he also revealed that Snapchat plans to introduce scripted programming to its lineup by the end of the year.
About those plans, Bell elaborated to THR: "Scripted is expensive, so we want to make sure that we go out with a really good first effort. We spent a lot of time thinking about what would lend itself well to Snap — how you develop characters, what the narrative and the story arcs look like when you're telling these stories in a short format, the importance of episodic content and what happens in this world where people can miss content. Do you make previous episodes available?" Full interview.
Elsewhere in TV...
► YouTube star Jake Paul responds to getting fired by Disney. The 20-year-old former Bizaardvark actor, who was let go over the summer after an incident with an L.A. news crew, says it's all being blown out of proportion.
► Showtime's Homeland creator reacts to open letter from angry fans. Showrunner Alex Gansa weighs in on the death of a character after a group called "#NotOurHomeland" paid for a scathing ad.
► Amazon renews Transparent for fifth season. Jill Soloway's Emmy-winning series will begin production next year and is expected to arrive later in 2018. Season four will premiere Sept. 22.
► NBC searches for its version of Lost. The network has handed out a sizable put-pilot commitment to a drama called Manifest, with Robert Zemeckis exec producing. It's a mystery thriller in which a plane disappears from radar and returns five years later.
► Fox nabs bus accident rom-com pitch. Grace & Frankie writer Billy Finnegan has set a project at Fox that sounds like it is a romantic comedy about a bus accident. Finnegan is partnering on the project with Nahnatchka Khan.
^Hollywood's new digital disrupters. As web video merges with film and TV, meet the breakouts — from Lilly Singh to Adam Conover — leveraging fame on YouTube and Instagram into careers on platforms their parents actually watch. Full list.
► NBC's This Is Us unveils first season 2 scene. With nearly a month left to go before the return, the acclaimed Dan Fogelman drama doesn't waste time getting to the waterworks in the first footage. Watch here.
► Epix renews Get Shorty for season two. The drama, based on the 1990 Elmore Leonard novel and 1995 Barry Sonnenfeld movie, stars Chris O'Dowd and Ray Romano. It has gotten a warm reception from critics so far.
► BBC orders new doc from Amy director. Helmer Asif Kapadia will examine the racially charged murder of Stephen Lawrence in a new doc, while Philomena scribe Jeff Pope will pen a series on the impact of British serial killer Stephen Port. Details.
► CBS pilot watch: Me, Myself and I. Critic Daniel Fienberg takes an early look at the upcoming comedy that has "an ambitious three-tiered structure and a strong cast led by Bobby Moynihan and John Larroquette."
In THR, Esq: Judge Judy goes off in profits lawsuit. In a deposition, Judy Sheindlin talks of how she went from powerless TV personality to a $47 million-a-year star and details her salary talks with CBS: "This isn't a negotiation."
Lost in the distraction of talk about new Joker movies, there's another interesting bit of news for comic book fans: Warner Bros. is creating a new label for movies featuring DC characters outside of its main shared universe, Graeme McMillan writes:
The notion of a boutique DC films imprint that allows filmmakers to play with characters from the comic publisher without having to deal with the continuity (or cast) of other movies is certainly something that fits in with the history of the company, which has told stories outside of its central timeline for decades under a variety of conceits and publishing initiatives.
Those comic book stories demonstrate the value in the idea of pulling characters outside the larger shared universe and giving them a chance to exist independently, following a particular artistic vision and being allowed the closure that would otherwise be denied them.
That said, there's no denying that such a thing could be confusing to the audience as it's being rolled out. How can Warners correctly delineate which movies are part of the Justice League shared universe, and which ones aren't, to a potential market who isn't following online chatter about upcoming releases?
+ New: Joker/Harley Quinn movie in the works. Borys Kit scoops: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, directors and exec producers of the hit NBC drama This Is Us are in final talks to pen and helm the untitled movie project. Insiders say that the plan is for this feature to go after the studio makes a sequel to Suicide Squad.
Elsewhere in film...
► MoviePass touts 150,000 subscribers after price cut. It took just a few days for the site to surpass its 15-month goal after slashing its price from $50 to just $9.95, giving users essentially 30 movie tickets for the price of one.
► Ocean's 8 shoot change sparks legal battle. Warner Bros. and Octane Film Cars are battling over who breached their deal for a vintage roadster to be used in the franchise film after the car's owner backed out of the rental.
► Chris Hemsworth, Jeff Bridges joining Fox thriller. The actors are in talks to star in Bad Times at the El Royale, Drew Goddard’s contained thriller. Goddard wrote the script and is directing and producing, aiming for a January 2018 start.
► Will Ferrell to star in The 100-Year-Old Man. The actor is teaming with CBS Films to adapt the best-selling novel. Ferrell is attached to star and produce the project with Adam McKay and Jessica Elbaum.
► Sony nabs New Line founder's thriller. In a competitive situation, the studio has picked up the spec script Nightlight with Bob Shaye on board as one of the producers. Tyler MacIntyre is directing.
^Box office preview: August slowdown. Pamela McClintock forecasts: This weekend, a trio of smaller offerings enter the fray — The Weinstein Co.'s animated Leap!, martial arts pic Birth of the Dragon and All Saints, a faith-based film from Sony's Affirm label. Tracking shows Leap! grossing the most of the three, or $4M-$5M as summer revenue slips even further behind last year.
► John Steinbeck's heirs head to trial over films. The descendants of the novelist will begin a trial focused on never made movies: a DreamWorks' The Grapes of Wrath, from Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis, and Universal/Imagine's East of Eden.
► Neal Moritz plans supernatural thriller. Fast and Furious producer Moritz is reteaming with screenwriter Bragi F. Schut for an untitled project that has been described as being in the vein of Robert Zemeckis' What Lies Beneath.
► Netflix expands documentary roster. The streaming giant has added two new docs, Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold and Voyeur, based on Gay Talese's controversial story. Both will premiere later this year at the New York Film Festival.
► Maya Rudolph joins Melissa McCarthy in comedy. The Bridesmaids duo will star in the STX comedy-thriller titled The Happytime Murders. The story takes place in a world where humans and puppets coexist. Brian Henson is directing.
► David Oyelowo joins Doug Liman thriller. The actor is the latest to join Lionsgate's post-apocalyptic film Chaos Walking, which boasts a cast featuring Nick Jonas, Tom Holland and Daisy Ridley, as well as Mads Mikkelsen.
Oscars: Germany makes foreign language pick. The country has selected Fatih Akin's terrorist drama In the Fade to represent the country for the foreign-language category. Diane Kruger won the best actress prize in Cannes for the film. Details.
New: Hugh Hefner's 25-year-old son, Cooper, has assumed creative control at Playboy as he brings nude images back to the magazine while lamenting the company's involvement in lowbrow licensing and reality TV: "Nudity hadn't been the problem — it was how it'd been presented." Gary Baum's full profile.
What else we're reading...
— "The biggest action hero of the year." Alex Morris's cover story on Gal Gadot: "The former Israeli combat instructor and ex-pageant queen had given up on acting when she landed the role of a lifetime." [Rolling Stone]
— "This next song is dedicated to our therapist." Erich Schwartzel's A-Hed column: "At Rock Star Therapy in Los Angeles, bands in discord air grievances, practice coping strategies, perform trust exercises." [The Wall Street Journal]
— "Girls Trip writers make movie history." Yamiche Alcindor notes: "They say the first $100 million film from an all-black cast and creative team comes at a time when the country needs to celebrate women of color." [The New York Times]
— "Springtime for the Confederacy." Aisha Harris writes: "At Dolly Parton’s Civil War–themed dinner theater, audiences root for the North or the South. I saw it twice, because you gotta see both sides." [Slate]
— "The Los Angeles Times (still) searches for a future." Ken Doctor asks: "Can it attract a new editor of national stature with digital savvy? Or will continued chaos within Tronc scare talent off?" [Nieman Lab]
Today's birthdays: Rupert Grint, 29, Chad Michael Murray, 36, James D'Arcy, 42, Dave Chappelle, 44, Ava DuVernay, 45, Jared Harris, 56, Steve Guttenberg, 59, Stephen Fry, 60, Anne Archer, 70.