What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:17 AM 9/20/2017

by THR Staff

Photographed By Miller Mobley

What's news: James Cameron is enlisting Linda Hamilton to revitalize the next chapter of Terminator. Plus: How Lucasfilm was able to poach J.J. Abrams from Paramount to direct Episode IX, why more stars are getting paid to wear jewelry on the red carpet and what Megyn Kelly has planned for her Today hour launch. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

[Note: To sign up to receive this Today in Entertainment briefing by email each day, click here.]

On the cover: Jewelry designer Jennifer Meyer and client Jennifer Aniston, headlining the Top Designers issue, which Carol McColgin and Booth Moore introduce this way...

At a time when news is fake and Instagram and Snapchat feeds are filtered, Hollywood and fashion fans are rewarding what they see as authentic choices.

From Evan Rachel Wood pointedly wearing pantsuits on awards-season red carpets (resulting in skyrocketing sales for Altuzarra) to Emma Watson sporting a lauded Elie Saab eco-gown made of couture scraps during her Beauty and the Beast press tour, "real" is in.

Political statement pins, from ACLU ribbons to GLAAD lapel ampersands, have proven as effective in stirring social media frenzy as a stunning gown. "Especially right now, so much of what you see is fabricated moments," says Joseph Altuzarra. "People can smell the contracted dealmaking behind some of the pieces."

What brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior have "in common is that you have this sense of being there with someone," Eva Chen, Instagram's head of fashion partnerships, has said. Full feature: Hollywood's Top 20 Red Carpet Designers. 

  • How J.J. Jilted Paramount

    Illustration by: Laemeur

    The latest Star Wars director drama: Abrams is taking on the Lucasfilm gig despite a $10 million obligation to his "home" studio, leaving newly crowned chief Jim Gianopulos to ask Disney for make-good money, Kim Masters reports: 

    With the Episode IX script still unwritten, Abrams is going to be occupied for the next two years. (His deal at Paramount runs through summer 2018, long before he finishes his work in a galaxy far, far away.) The director declined comment, but a source in his camp says he was enticed by a "once-now-a-twice-in-a-lifetime opportunity," and all parties understand that.

    As for Gianopulos, the exec accommodated the move even if he was not happy, say sources. Paramount declined comment, but the studio chief is said to be irked to see Abrams get poached again — this time despite a specifically negotiated obligation.

    In these circumstances, sources say he did the best he could by extracting some money from Disney for maintaining Abrams in the style to which he has become accustomed. But the payment is said to be a one-time shot of less than seven figures, which isn't much to cover a two-year absence. And obviously, given a choice between taking that negligible payment or having a film that could make money and boost Paramount's prestige, Gianopulos would have jumped at the latter. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    ► Matt Damon to star in, produce quack doctor film. The actor has optioned the book Charlatan: America’s Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam and is developing it. Brian Koppelman and David Levien are adapting.

    ► Amblin Partners' CEO fired. Steven Spielberg will take over the CEO role as Michael Wright exits. Wright had been instrumental in establishing the overarching Amblin Partners, home of DreamWorks, and in forging Amblin’s distribution deal with Universal Pictures. 

    Studios disappear from Toronto dealmaking Tatiana Siegel notes: Not a single veteran distributor - including Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics and Focus Features - made a move. In fact, every significant acquisition deal was struck by a buyer who didn't exist five years ago, from A24 to The Orchard to Netflix. Full story.

    + Netflix buys horror film The Ritual. The David Bruckner-helmed film made its world premiere in Toronto and immediately drew the interest of buyers including Lionsgate, Annapurna, IFC and Saban Films. A source pegged the Netflix deal at $4.75 million

    ► Warner Bros. exec heads to Paramount. Creative executive Jon Gonda is jumping to Paramount as newly installed chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos reshapes the production division. He will work under production president Liz Raposo.

    ^Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger returning for Terminator sequel. Borys Kit's scoop: The actress reuniting with James Cameron, the creator of the sci-fi franchise, for the new installment being made by Skydance and Paramount. Deadpool director Tim Miller is helming. 

    + Cameron made the announcement at a private event celebrating the storied franchise, saying, "As meaningful as she was to gender and action stars everywhere back then, it’s going to make a huge statement to have that seasoned warrior that she’s become return."

    + With Hamilton’s return, Cameron hopes to once again make a statement on gender roles in action movies. "There are 50-year-old, 60-year-old guys out there killing bad guys,” he said, referring to aging male actors still anchoring movies, “but there isn’t an example of that for women.” Full story. 

    Tomb Raider reboot trailer unveiled. The full clip shows Alicia Vikander in action as the new Lara Croft for the first time. Based on the 2013 reboot of the game, the new feature also stars Walton Goggins, Daniel Wu and Dominic West. Watch

    The Lego Ninjago Movie, reviewed. The toy-branded TV series jumps to the big screen in Warner Bros. third Lego movie. The takeaway: "Gets the family-amusement job done, while hawking thousands of dollars' worth of plastic construction kits."

    The Croods sequel gets 2020 release. The long-planned sequel is back on track and is now set for a Sept. 18, 2020. The animation studio also said that Spooky Jack, a collaboration with horror master Jason Blum, will hit theaters in 2021. 

    Veep creator's Stalin movie threatened in Russia. The country's Communist Party, the second largest in Parliament, has called for a ban on Armando Iannucci's The Death of Stalin as the movie "discredits" the late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Details. 

    R.I.P., Kate Guinzburg. Michelle Pfeiffer's producing partner in Via Rosa Productions, has died at the age of 60. She and Pfeiffer had teamed on such films as Love Field, Dangerous Minds and One Fine Day. Full obit.

    In THR, Esq: Johnny Depp's sister dragged into lawsuit. The ever-escalating dispute between Depp and his former business managers doesn't seem to be nearing a cease-fire. The Management Group has added the star's sister, nephew, personal assistant and several friends as cross-defendants in the legal fight. Details. 

  • Megyn's (Mostly) Trump-Free Hour

    Nathan Congleton/NBC

    As Megyn Kelly prepares her Sept. 25 Today show hour launch, the anchor has been moving from contentious political interviews to softer programming, Marisa Guthrie writes:

    Last April, Megyn Kelly flew to Los Angeles for a sit-down with the Kardashian family, including matriarch Kris Jenner and Kim Kardashian. The hook was the upcoming 10th anniversary of E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Kelly was only days on the job as NBC’s newest anchor at the time.

    If the Kardashians expected an anodyne conversation rehashing 10 years of life in a reality TV fishbowl of their own making, what they got was a probing of their polarizing role in the culture. A source close to the Kardashians describes it as “awkward.” The episode illustrates the challenge Kelly is navigating as she sets about broadening her image. 

    Jackie Levin, exec producer of Megyn Kelly Today, positions Kelly's 9 a.m. show as an antidote of sorts to the ideological skirmishes of cable TV. "This is going to be where people can connect, where they can have a conversation," says Levin. "Will the T-word be mentioned? Yes, from time to time," she adds, referring to President Trump. "But is it going to be on a regular basis? No." Full story. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ► Hulu's Beau Willimon space drama enlists Sean Penn. The Oscar winner will make his TV series regular debut in the streamer's straight-to-series drama The First from the House of Cards creator. Details about Penn's character are being kept under wraps.

    HBO renews The Deuce for season 2. On the heels of its Sept. 10 debut, the premium cable network has renewed the '70's-set drama from George Pelacanos and David Simon. James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in the series that premiered to critical raves.

    NBC's SNL will keep nationwide live telecasts. The show is staying live coast-to-coast when it returns Sept. 30. NBC confirmed the news Tuesday, just days after the long-running show took home nine Emmys, the most of any program. 

    Amazon inks deal with Stranger Things writer. Writer-producer Justin Doble has signed an overall deal with the company, in which he will develop genre TV projects for Amazon prime video. Doble comes to Amazon after two seasons on Netflix's breakout hit. 

    ^Gwyneth Paltrow's TV plans, Goop expansion and her detractors. The lifestyle mogul invited Booth Moore to her California-casual office to discuss Goop's growth plan and why she's putting acting on the back burner. Full Q&A.

    HBO, Comedy Central lock up late-night hosts with multiyear deals. A flurry of pricey extensions for Trevor Noah, John Oliver and Bill Maher comes as the landscape grows increasingly crowded, with networks investing in new series in their collective bid to grab buzz. 

    CBS' 60 Minutes plans Oprah Winfrey as political peacemaker. The newsmagazine is planning to deploy Winfrey on key "impact" stories and looks to bridge the gap between the coasts and Trump's America with her first segment on the show's Sept. 24 premiere. 

    NBC lets Sterling K. Brown finish Emmy speech via THR ad. The This Is Us best actor winner was cut off midway through his memorable remarks during the CBS telecast and now gets a full-page ad for the rest of his speech.

    NFL TV ratings slide worries Wall Street. CBS, ESPN, Fox and NBC will generate about $2.5 billion in NFL advertising revenue this season, but a 10 percent shortfall could translate to a $200 million cut in earnings, an analyst estimates.

    Also: More stars getting paid to wear jewelry on red carpet. Laurie Brookins notes: The battle is heating up as several designers shift money in their marketing budgets to entice A-listers to wear their product: "If someone is spending $20 million a year on advertising, why not move over a half-million dollars?"

  • 'Firefly,' 15 Years Later


    "We were fighting a battle from the get-go": Stars Adam Baldwin, Gina Torres, Sean Maher, Alan Tudyk and Summer Glau as well as exec producer Tim Minear reflect on the Joss Whedon underdog 15 years after its premiere. Full feature I 2002 review: "Truly original."

    What else we're reading...

    "American Idol reboot costing advertisers $200,000." Jeanine Poggi notes: "Those figures don't not include the price of brand integrations, such as the iconic red Coca-Cola cup that was once just as much a part of the show as returning host Ryan Seacrest." [Ad Age]

    "Inside the dark future of Blade Runner 2049." Brian Rafferty's feature: "What a sequel 35 years in the making can tell us about the state of sci-fi, the dark future of futurism, and America's appetite for dystopia." [Wired]

    "Beware the open-plan kitchen." Caitlin Flanagan's feature: "There’s nothing more addictively soothing than watching someone flipping homes on HGTV. Until we end up in a real-life rerun of the housing bubble." [New York]

    "Jeff Bridges will be 'The Dude,' now and forever." Caity Weaver's profile: "Bridges is famously cool with the weighty Lebowski legacy. It's obvious why within moments of meeting him." [GQ]

    "Why ESPN is more political than before." Conor Friedersdorf writes: "The sports network’s controversial transformation is driven more by the audience and less by elites than many observers realize." [The Atlantic]

    What else we're seeing...

    + Jimmy Kimmel's new candid speech on healthcare. [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + Hillary Clinton's latest interview, with Stephen Colbert. [The Late Show]

    + James Corden, Alicia Vikander talk Tomb Raider reboot. [The Late Late Show]

    Today's birthdays: Jon Bernthal, 41, Kristen Johnston, 50, Gary Cole, 61, George R.R. Martin, 69, Sophia Loren, 83.