What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:16 AM 9/26/2017

by THR Staff

Chris Haston/NBC

What's news: NFL TV ratings may be scrutinized more than usual today after Trump escalated his culture war over kneeling players. Plus: SAG-AFTRA's video game strike has ended, first reviews for the Will & Grace revival arrive and Veep's creator is returning to HBO for a space comedy. — Matthew Belloni and Erik Hayden

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  • 'Will & Grace' Returns

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    Airing Thursday, NBC's Must-See TV revival avoids its worst-case scenario by concentrating on Will, Grace, Jack and Karen, forgoing big-name cameos and acknowledging the passage of time, critic Daniel Fienberg writes: 

    By the time Will & Grace ended in 2006, I found it nearly unwatchable. A show that was boundary-pushing and fresh when it premiered had fallen into lazy comic rhythms, its characters had become calcified and rather than trying to remain relevant by evolving its worldview, Will & Grace was staving off stagnation with a desperate procession of guest stars.

    Approaching the new Will & Grace as an extension of where it left off, rather than where it began, makes it possible to look at the first three episodes and feel like creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan did a few things surprisingly right. Full review. 

    + Early takes: TV Line: "As funny as you hoped, maybe funnier." Daily Beast: "Woke, anti-Trump, and still funny." Indiewire: "Has something to say, and it's a treat to hear them say it."

    Elsewhere in TV...

    HBO teams with Veep creator for space comedy. Armando Iannucci is returning to the pay cabler, which has ordered a pilot for a space comedy from the acclaimed writer. Avenue 5 (working title) is described as a comedy set in the future. 

    CBS' Star Trek gets promising ratings sampling before streaming move. The show reached 9.6M viewers in its premiere telecast. That's ahead of anticipated multiplatform lifts, which CBS research touted as a potential gross 15M viewers. 

    Vimeo acquires Livestream, launches live video product. The ad-free video platform has acquired technology provider Livestream to power its own live video business among its nearly 830,000 person creator community.

    Pinewood to sell stake in TV joint venture. Just over a year and a half after it was set up, the Pinewood Group is set to sell its 50 percent stake in its TV drama production joint venture, StoryFirst, owned by U.S. media entrepreneur Peter Gerwe

    ^CBS' Me, Myself and I, reviewed. Despite an ambitious premise, the new Bobby Moynihan and John Larroquette comedy ends up being forgettable. The takeaway: "The three-tiered structure is more gimmick than asset."

    + Early takes: N.Y. Times: "the execution is confounding." Vulture: "mostly endearing, and it wins bonus points for adopting a structure you don’t see every day." A.V. Club: "could be funnier, but its central conceit is refreshing and resonant."

    Freeform orders Pretty Little Liars spinoff. The Disney-owned cabler has handed out a pilot order to Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, with Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish set to star and reprise their roles from the flagship show.

    Comedy Central's South Park to tackle white oppression.preview for Wednesday's episode “Holiday Special" includes characters finding a genealogy site, DNA and Me, which leads them discover a small percentage of minority ancestry.

    Sky event series Das Boot enlists Mad Men veteran. Vincent Kartheiser, who played Pete Campbell on the AMC show, has joined the cast of the WWII series. Shooting has already begun in Prague.

    R.I.P., Tony Booth. The English actor, who starred in the BBC sitcom Till Death Us Do Part in the 1960s and 1970s, has died. He was 85. Full obit.

    In THR, Esq: Viacom loses bid to avoid defamation trial over VH-1 biopic. Eriq Gardner writes: Unless Viacom strikes a settlement or something else unexpected occurs, it is heading to a rare defamation trial concerning 2013 docudrama CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. Details.

  • AICN Staff Exodus

    Wesley Mann

    Several writers have resigned from movie site Ain't It Cool News (AICN) after a woman came forward to accuse that site's founder, Harry Knowles, of having sexually assaulted her nearly two decades ago, Seth Abramovitch and Abid Rahman write: 

    In a statement posted Monday to Twitter, Steve Prokopy, a Chicago-based writer who signs his reviews "Capone," called the choice to leave the site "a remarkably easy decision to make." Eric Vespe, who wrote for decades as "Quint" on the site (a nod to the shark hunter character from Jaws), has also stepped down.

    Additionally, theater chain Alamo Drafthouse is severing all ties with Harry Knowles in the wake of the allegations. Drafthouse CEO Tim League released a statement on Monday night which said "he is no longer affiliated with the company in any capacity." 

    Knowles, who along with League co-founded the wildly popular Fantastic Fest genre film event, was accused over the weekend of sexual assault by a former Drafthouse employee Jasmine Baker. “Harry Knowles groped me, opportunistically, on more than one occasion,” Baker told Indiewire. “I cannot just stay silent. I am not interested in remaining silent.”

    Elsewhere in film... 

    It sequel already gets release date. New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. said that a sequel to the horror blockbuster will hit theaters, including Imax locations, on Sept. 6, 2019. The title has earned $478M globally to date.

    Disney musical enlists David Oyelowo. The actor is set to star in a live-action musical penned by Moonlight playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney. The project, titled Cyrano the Moor, will take from Othello and the French play Cyrano de Bergerac.

    Romeo and Juliet reimagining in the works. Kaya Scodelario and Josh Hutcherson are set to play lovers for a Mark Gordon Co. project called Die in a Gunfight, directed by Collin Schiffli. Shooting will begin next month in Boston.

    Paramount's Clifford the Big Red Dog finds director. Walt Becker, who directed Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip, has come aboard to helm the feature, which is intended to be a live-action hybrid.

    ^Marshall, reviewed. Chadwick Boseman plays the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, in Reginald Hudlin's biopic. The takeaway: "A conventionally made cinematic footnote to the career of a legal titan."

    ► SAG-AFTRA video game strike ends. The strike, the longest in the union’s history, has ended. The deal was made between the union and 11 video game companies including Activision, Electronic Arts, and Disney and Warner Bros.

    + Jonathan Handel notes: The agreement, which will next be reviewed by the SAG-AFTRA National Board at its October meeting, includes a new bonus structure based on the number of sessions worked on each game, beginning with a $75 payment on the first session and totaling $2,100 after 10 sessions worked. Full story. 

    Monster movie ticketing service formed in China. A new Tencent-backed service will control as much as 50 percent of online ticket sales in China, where more than 85 percent of all movie tickets are already bought over the internet.

    Hong Kong cult movie Infernal Affairs to get Indian remake. Andrew Lau’s Hong Kong gangster film, which The Departed is based on, is getting another remake from Warner Bros. India and Mumbai-based banner Azure Entertainment.

    Sony film PR chief exits for Fox broadcasting. Jean Guerin is departing at the end of October for Fox, where she will serve as executive vp publicity and corporate communications. In her new gig, Guerin will be the chief media strategist for Fox.

    It's a deal: Temasek buys stake in CAA. Entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency said Tuesday that Temasek, a Singapore-based investment company, has acquired a stake. The companies didn't disclose the size of the stake. Details.

  • Trump's NFL Ratings War

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    Today's culture war, escalated: President Trump took aim at the NFL and its television ratings in several tweets this morning, seemingly intent on the issue...

    Trump tweets: "Ratings for NFL football are way down except before game starts, when people tune in to see whether or not our country will be disrespected! ... The booing at the NFL football game last night, when the entire Dallas team dropped to its knees, was loudest I have ever heard. Great anger. ... The NFL has all sorts of rules and regulations. The only way out for them is to set a rule that you can't kneel during our National Anthem!" 

    About those ratings. Michael O'Connell notes: The Sunday night NBC match-up between Oakland and Washington averaged an overnight 11.6 rating among households. The preliminary score, a low for this season, was down 11 percent from early scores the same night a year ago and 9 percent from the week before.

    What else we're reading... 

    "Coming soon to AMC theaters: Virtual reality." Brooks Barnes writes: "The theater chain has invested $20 million in the start-up Dreamscape Immersive and will open six locations offering V.R. experiences." [The New York Times]

    "Megyn Kelly's perniciously 'politics-free' morning-show debut." Megan Garber writes: "the apolitical stance ... is as disingenuous in the context of morning television as it is anywhere else." [The Atlantic]

    "Will Ben Stiller’s characters ever grow up?" Bilge Ebiri writes: "The secret of Stiller's success: His perennial man-children connect with a universal sense of inadequacy within us all." [Vulture]

    "How one election changed Disneyland’s relationship with its hometown." Daniel Miller's latest: "The new majority, led by Mayor Tom Tait ... says it wants to focus on making life better for locals." [The Los Angeles Times]

    "Law & Order tries to get real." Willa Paskin writes: "With The Menendez Murders, the august franchise can’t quite pull off its own splashy true-crime story." [Slate]

    Today's birthdays: Jim Caviezel, 49, Jill Soloway, 52, Linda Hamilton, 61, Olivia Newton-John, 69.

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