What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:12 AM 9/27/2017

by THR Staff

Frank W. Ockenfels 3

What's news: James Cameron reveals why he's planning a new Terminator franchise. Plus: The Academy Museum is unveiling a new $50M cash infusion, Apple's prestige TV strategy is taking shape and a Narcos death has location scouts questioning risky assignments. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman

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

On the cover: James Cameron and Deadpool director Tim Miller sit down with THR to talk for the first time about how they will reboot a storied but troubled franchise. Matthew Belloni and Borys Kit write: 

Calling it "a return to form that I believe fans of the franchise have been wanting since Terminator 2: Judgment Day," David Ellison, 34, has for the past year worked secretly with Cameron and Tim Miller, who will direct the untitled sequel for a July 26, 2019, release.

They assembled a writers room with scribes David Goyer, Charles Eglee, Josh Friedman and Justin Rhodes as well as Ellison, a lifelong Terminator fan (Cameron himself shows up once a week), and have crafted what they want to be a trilogy with Schwarzenegger, 70, and original star Linda Hamilton, 62, passing the torch to a young female lead.

The team hopes it's launching the equivalent of the new Star Wars trilogy — but with the most successful filmmaker of all time pulling the strings. Cover story.

Also: Cameron speaks with Kim Masters about those Avatar sequels and his critique of Wonder Woman. 

THR: Well, you opened the door for the inevitable Wonder Woman question, so … you recently said in this summer's film, Gal Gadot was playing an "objectified icon."

Cameron: "Yes, I'll stand by that. I mean, she was Miss Israel, and she was wearing a kind of bustier costume that was very form-fitting. She's absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. To me, that's not breaking ground. They had Raquel Welch doing stuff like that in the '60s. It was all in a context of talking about why Sarah Connor — what Linda created in 1991 — was, if not ahead of its time, at least a breakthrough in its time. I don't think it was really ahead of its time because we're still not [giving women these types of roles]." Full Q&A. 

  • Oscars Museum Takes Shape

    Photographed by Spencer Lowell

    ...and it features a Death Star-under-construction look so far. With a cash infusion from Haim and Cheryl Saban and a new board of trustees, the long-in-development project moves closer to a targeted opening in 2019, Gregg Kilday reports: 

    If the creation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' museum were itself a movie, then the long-running saga could be said to, finally, be entering its climactic third act as it heads for a planned opening in the middle of 2019.

    At the $388 million museum's site on Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue, the old May Company building has been hollowed out and seismically retrofitted while, beside it, the Renzo Piano-designed sphere that will house a 1,000-seat theater is taking shape.

    Right now, mid-construction, comparisons to the Star Wars Death Star are inescapable, though when complete, it's meant to take on a less threatening profile. And, as work continues on what is officially to be called the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, on Sept. 27 AMPAS is set to announce that investor and philanthropist Haim Saban, who made his fortune off the Power Rangers franchise, and his wife, Cheryl, are donating $50 million to the project.

    It's by far the largest gift the Academy has received — the May Co. building will be renamed the Saban Building — bringing the museum's fundraising to date to $288 million, nearly 75 percent of its goal. Full story. 

    Elsewhere in film...

    ► Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese reteam for Teddy Roosevelt biopic. Titled Roosevelt, the Paramount drama will feature a script by Scott Bloom. DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson are producing through their Appian Way banner. 

    Chinese investors unload stakes in Wanda's Legendary Entertainment. Under the terms of an earlier fundraising agreement and failed merger plan, Wanda was forced to buy back two companies' combined $237M stake in the studio.

    + Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin has dispatched one of his top film execs, Zeng Maojun, to L.A. this week to reassure his Dalian Wanda Group conglomerate's Hollywood partners that he remains committed to the entertainment business. Details.

    Alamo Drafthouse chain in crisis over harassment, assault allegations. Troubling allegations continue to surface regarding the Austin, Texas-based movie empire currently embroiled in a sex assault and sexual harassment scandal involving several employees and business partners.

    + Ain't It Cool News founder Harry Knowles is stepping away from the influential movie site as allegations of a sexual assault and inappropriate conduct continue to swirl around him.

    ^Behind a box office hit: During It's opening weekend, 15 percent of ticket buyers were between the ages of 13 and 17, according to comScore. The second weekend, that number jumped to 21 percent, an almost unheard-of share for any movie these days. Full chart.

    ► Phil Lord and Chris Miller to direct Artemis. The adaptation of Martian writer Andy Weir's upcoming book, released by Crown Publishing on Nov. 17, will be as a near-future thriller. The book was picked up preemptively by Fox in May. 

    ► Trailer watch: John Travolta's Gotti. The first trailer at the crime drama debuted on Good Morning America, offering the first main look at the titular John Gotti (Travolta) and his family. Watch.

    House With a Clock in Its Walls nabs fall 2018 release. The movie, directed by Eli Roth, will open in theaters on Sept. 21, 2018 from Universal and Amblin. Jack Black and Cate Blanchett star in the adaptation of the 1973 Gothic horror novel. 

    ► Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody rounds out cast. Aidan Gillen and Tom Hollander will play Queen managers alongside Rami Malek as frontman Freddie Mercury in the Queen biopic for 20th Century Fox and New Regency.

    Orion Pictures makes first significant hire since being relaunched. Dan Kagan, who just left Sony Pictures Entertainment, had been named vp, production and acquisitions, reporting to Orion president John Hegeman.

    New! Hollywood's 25 top business managers of 2017. Here's the seventh annual THR list of entertainment's top financial advisers — the experts who guide investments, thwart hackers and stop you from buying that helicopter. Details.

  • Apple's Prestige TV Strategy

    Illustration by Victor Kerlow

    The world's biggest company is officially taking meetings and everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Steven Spielberg salivates to sell the first big show, Lacey Rose reports:

    Apple's Los Angeles-based execs are busy lining up the first batch of potential shows. In recent weeks, Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, poached from Sony Television in June to spearhead Apple's content acquisitions and video strategy, have been spotted all over town making their pitch to agents and studio executives.

    At press time, the company had bids out on only a handful of projects, including an update of Steven Spielberg's 1980s sci-fi, horror, fantasy anthology series, Amazing Stories, and a morning show drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, according to several involved. Van Amburg and Erlicht will have to make decisions, too, about a cadre of projects that preceded them from such producers as Dr. Dre and Harvey Weinstein.

    There's an allure to being on the ground floor, too. "Who wouldn't want to be the Mad Men or House of Cards on Apple?" says one studio chief, referencing the first breakouts on AMC and Netflix, respectively. Full story. 

     Elsewhere in TV...

    ABC's Jimmy Kimmel sees ratings rise with health care fight. Jimmy Kimmel Live! averaged a 0.6 rating in the key demo Monday following his week of political monologues, boasting his best rating among households for the past six months. 

    CBS' Young Sheldon marks biggest comedy premiere in four years. Monday's sampling of the new comedy likely set this season's high bar for fall premieres. The Bang Theory spinoff averaged 16.6M viewers.

    NBC's Megyn Kelly lifts third Today hourMegyn Kelly Today brought in an average 2.9M viewers to her debut. In the key news demo of adults 25-54, she earned 970,000 viewers, a solid improvement from the hour's showing without her last week.

    Fox News' Hannity tops Maddow. With his timeslot move on Fox News, Sean Hannity won the battle for both total viewers and key news demo, outperforming MSNBC's formidable Rachel Maddow in their first head-to-head match. 

    ^NBC's Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders, reviewed. The story of Erik and Lyle Menendez has gripping elements, but the first two hours of Dick Wolf's NBC miniseries are full of filler. The takeaway: "The Menendez brothers are no O.J. Simpson."

    + Early takes: EW: "bungles its opening statement." The Atlantic: "a staid, tedious affair." NPR: "the characters are disappointingly flat."

    Comedy Central's The Opposition With Jordan Klepper, reviewed. The cabler updates The Colbert Report for the Trump era. The takeaway: "A worthy experiment whose stamina is yet to be tested."

    + Early takes: USA Today: "a solid performance from Klepper." A.V. Club: "ambitious, risky, and, in this first outing, promising." IndieWire: "already in danger of becoming one-note."

    And more TV... 

     NBC's SNL adds featured players for season 43. Chris Redd, Heidi Gardner and Luke Null will help fill the void created by the departures of Bobby Moynihan, Vanessa Bayer and Sasheer Zamata when the show returns Sept. 30.

    HBO's Game of Thrones sets final season directors. The final six episodes may not arrive until late 2018 but the cabler has revealed who will be leading the charge: Miguel Sapochnik, David Nutter, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. 

    ► Fox apologizes to L.A. county sheriff over Biggie, Tupac special. The sheriff demanded an apology over what the department called a defamatory photograph of a commander used in the crime special, Who Shot Biggie & Tupac?

    HGTV loses Fixer Upper. Hosts Chip and Joanna Gaines said that the upcoming fifth season of the home renovation series will be its last. Debuting on HGTV in 2013, the makeover series has become one of the cabler biggest hits.

    ► Netflix plans Marlon Wayans standup special. The actor, who stars in his own NBC comedy Marlon, will tape the program this fall in Washington, D.C. The special will be produced by Wayans, Rick Alvarez, Steve Harris and Michael Rotenberg.

    ABC plots Get Christie Love reboot. The network is teaming with Power creator Courtney Kemp, Debra Martin Chase and Vin Diesel to reboot 1970s cop drama. ABC has handed out a sizable pilot production commitment.

    Paramount Network's Waco unveils trailer. The footage for the upcoming series, starring Taylor Kitsch as the Branch Davidian leader, takes a second look at one of the most infamous standoffs in U.S. history. Watch

  • 'Narcos' Death Fallout for TV Scouts

    Juan Pablo Gutierrez/NETFLIX; Instagram/charlesdasecond

    The tragic death of a Mexican location scout on the hit Netflix show Narcos has led to soul-searching in the scout community, even as questions remain about the circumstances of the shooting, Scott Johnson and Jackie Strause write: 

    Carlos Munoz Portal, 37, likely was a victim of a random act of violence, according to a production source on Narcos apprised of the ongoing local investigation. The scout was found in his car Sept. 11 on a remote stretch of road near Temascalapa, about 40 miles northeast of Mexico City. According to local reports, his body and car were riddled with bullets. The area is one of Mexico's most dangerous, with cartels and criminal gangs vying for turf and the spoils of an ongoing drug war. 

    "Usually you don't scout dangerous places, not for your safety, but you wouldn't want to take a crew into those places," says Bill Bowling, a longtime scout who has made a career of specializing in exotic foreign locales on huge productions like Batman v. Superman.

    "The producers on Narcos, if they're the ones who sent him out there to scout and go there, that was reckless on their part," says Eric Hooge, a scout who has worked on the Fast & Furious franchise and Superman Returns. "And it was reckless for him to agree to it." Full story. 

    What else we're reading...

    "mother! and the new genre-of-meaning cinema." Steven Zeitchik writes: "These movies' unwillingness to absolve their audience is also a crucial feature separating them from earlier work." [The Los Angeles Times]

    — "The transformative experience of writing for Sense8." Aleksandar Hemon writes: "I had great difficulty remembering exactly which scenes of the show had begun their evolution in my head. I was everywhere and nowhere in it." [The New Yorker]

    "The Rolling Stone plan to save Rolling Stone." Gabriel Sherman reports: "they are pitching an austere business plan that includes cutting the editorial budget by 30 percent and converting the biweekly magazine to a monthly." [Vanity Fair]

    "New edits and director's cuts: are they lost gems or simply second best?" Nathan Rabin notes: "A three-hour extended cut of Superman: The Movie is being released for the first time." [The Guardian]

    — "Ali Fazal, the Bollywood star who charmed the crown." Charles Bramesco's profile: "The star of Victoria & Abdul on sipping tea with Judi Dench, making the leap from India to America, and the rapidly shifting global film industry." [New York]

    Today's birthdays: Lola Kirke, 27, Anna Camp, 35, Carrie Brownstein, 43, Gwyneth Paltrow, 45, Marc Maron, 54.