What's news: Major networks are joining forces to host a star-studded Hurricane Harvey telethon. Meanwhile, Jennifer Lawrence's mother! meets critics, Marvel's Inhumans disappoints in Imax and Showtime's Twin Peaks wraps with plenty of unanswered questions. — Matthew Belloni, Erik Hayden and Jennifer Konerman
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Filmmakers' socially minded work was on display over Labor Day weekend at 44th edition of the Telluride Film Festival, chief critic Todd McCarthy writes:
Ever since the world's highest-altitude film event acquired a reputation for spotting year-end awards contenders a dozen years ago, the industry has scrutinized Telluride's picks with heightened attention, so it's not surprising that most of the talk going in focused on the likes of Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water, Alexander Payne's Downsizing and Joe Wright's Darkest Hour, all of which have political components.
But then so does Battle of the Sexes, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton's immensely engaging account of the momentous 1973 tennis match between self-styled male chauvinist pig Bobby Riggs and female-equality-in-sports crusader Billie Jean King, who herself was on hand and basking in adoration all around. In terms of sheer audience pleasure, this Fox Searchlight release would look to have taken the Telluride trophy for 2017.
Scott Cooper's Hostiles starring festival honoree Christian Bale is a tough, fine, violent Western that takes place at the end of the Indian wars. Potent in its own very personal way is Paul Schrader's return to form, and to his religiously penetrating roots, with First Reformed.
Then there was the winning directorial debut made by Greta Gerwig with Lady Bird, in which a scintillating Saoirse Ronan stars as the teenage Gerwig agonizing her way through senior year of high school in 2002 Sacramento. It's snappy, funny, observant, poignantly personal and there's hardly a scene that's more than two minutes long. More standouts.
Elsewhere in film...
^Jennifer Lawrence's mother!, reviewed. Darren Aronofsky's secretive film stars Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple whose lives start unraveling when unexpected guests arrive at their home. McCarthy's takeaway: "A Rosemary's Baby for these times."
+ Early takes: Screen Daily: "a personal, end-of-days statement which expresses the angst of these times as well as a deep-seated and bloody loathing for them." Variety: "It’s a baroque nightmare that’s about nothing but itself."
? Angelina Jolie plans to return to work after taking "over a year off." The actress and director spoke at length with Stephen Galloway at the Telluride Film Festival, where her new movie about Cambodia, First They Killed My Father, screened to positive reviews. Highlights from the Q&A:
Q: What will you do next? JOLIE: "Maleficent, we're working on, most likely. And I look forward to having some fun with that. Cleopatra, there is a script. There's a lot of different things floating around. But I haven't committed."
Q: But you're planning to act and not move into directing? JOLIE: "I would love to at some point. At some point, I'll probably just direct. If I'm allowed to. But you just don't know if you can have a career as a director. You don't know how things are going to be received."
Q: Will your film qualify for the foreign-language Oscar? JOLIE: "I believe it will qualify, yes. It's just, will they choose us? Will we be the country's selection? We don't know."
? U.S. box office: Worst Labor Day in 25 years. Pamela McClintock notes: Revenue for the four-day holiday weekend will land between $93M and $96M, down as much as 26 percent from 2016 and marking the worst Labor Day frame since 1998 or 1996, when revenue topped out at $95.2M and $90.6M, respectively, according to comScore.
+ The Hitman's Bodyguard, Lionsgate's action-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, benefited from the lack of competition by earning as much in its third outing as it did last weekend, grossing $10.5M from 3,370 theaters for the three days and $13.4M for the four for a $58.1M total. Full U.S. wrap.
+ Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk marched to an easy win at the Chinese box office, opening to $30M. Meanwhile, Luc Besson's Valerian plummeted 78 percent in its second weekend, earning $6.2M. After 10 days on Chinese screens, the pricey indie sci-fi epic has totaled $58.2M. Full China wrap.
? New MPAA chief prioritizes anti-piracy effort. The Los Angeles Times' Ryan Faughnder speaks with industry veteran Charles Rivkin as he starts on the job today.
+ "Rivkin says the entertainment industry is more aligned with the president’s agenda than it seems. 'What we need to do is get the word out and help everyone understand that when you invest in this industry, you invest in American jobs,' he said. One of his key priorities at the MPAA will be to ramp up the organization’s anti-piracy efforts, both in the U.S. and abroad." Full profile.
? WB in talks to buy Universal's stake in China's Oriental DreamWorks. Per The Financial Times: "Universal Pictures, the movie studio owned by Comcast’s NBCUniversal, is on course to offload its stake in Oriental DreamWorks, the animation group, following disagreements over strategy with one of the company’s other main backers, Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital." Full report.
? R.I.P., Elizabeth Kemp. The actress and admired teacher at the Actors Studio who had a profound effect on Bradley Cooper and coached him and Lady Gaga for the upcoming version of A Star Is Born, has died. She was 65. Full obit.
Oscar watch: Downsizing loses momentum at Telluride. Scott Feinberg emails: The general consensus was that Paramount's Downsizing, the latest dramedy from Alexander Payne, took a bit of a hit at the fest — it arrived from its world premiere in Venice with glowing reviews and screened in the most prestigious slot on Telluride's schedule, the Patron's Preview screening, but failed to sustain its buzz from the Lido. Full take.
The TV host, who now has six shows — including a new daytime talker he owns — shares what Oprah taught him and how he dealt with "vicious" backlash to his private meeting with the president: "I haven't talked to him since."
Lacey Rose writes: The last time Steve Harvey called Los Angeles home, he was in what he calls the "pick me" phase of his career. "Back then, I was trying to make it," he says, fiddling with a cigar on the table. "I was trying to get picked. 'Hope I get on this.' 'Hope I get on that.' This trip back is very different." Indeed, the 60-year-old Harvey, who has lived in Chicago for the last five years, is here in Hollywood to add a new daytime talk show to a vast empire that includes five game shows, four books, a clothing line, a foundation and a popular syndicated radio show.
Harvey's new midday entry, Steve, rolls out today and promises to bring "late night to daytime" — which is to say it's comedy-based and will lean on celebrity guests. (Atop his wish list: Beyonce and Jay Z.) Even with its highly bankable star, however, Steve isn't without hurdles. Not only is the daytime landscape increasingly fractured — his last daytime program, which recently wrapped after five seasons, was a top-five show with just 1.8M viewers — but Harvey, who is the majority stakeholder, also is still dealing with fallout from the leak of a scorching memo he sent to his former staff. "I write like I talk," he says. "So hell, obviously that ain't good." Full Q&A.
Elsewhere in TV...
? Networks join forces for Hurricane Harvey telethon. ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and CMT have joined forced to air a Hurricane Harvey relief telethon, with George Clooney, Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand and Reese Witherspoon set to appear on Sept. 12. Details.
? ABC's Marvel drama Inhumans underwhelms in Imax bow. The straight-to-series is produced in partnership with Imax and, in a groundbreaking deal, launched this weekend in 676 Imax theaters around the globe, grossing an estimated $2.6M. That included an underwhelming $1.5M from 393 theaters in North America.
? Showtime's Twin Peaks finale reaction. Now that Twin Peaks: The Return has come to a close, it's time to look back at where each major character ended up at the end of David Lynch and Mark Frost's story.
+ Exit interview: Kyle MacLachlan. "What are we left with? I'm still asking myself those same questions," the erstwhile Agent Cooper says about the revival's controversial ending. Q&A.
+ Burning questions: "What year is this?" That's just one of many looming mysteries destined to haunt franchise diehards after Sunday's mystifying finale. More Qs.
? Column: Kareem spends days in the swamp with Fox News. "If you worry that systemic racism might be a problem in America because of the hundreds of studies that say it is, don't worry. They're all wrong. That's what I learned when I tuned in to watch America’s News HQ."
? Column: TV's new military shows, reviewed by a military member. With the forthcoming influx of military-themed series hitting the small screen, the obvious question is how accurate are they? A six-year veteran of the U.S. military assesses just that.
? Comedy Central's South Park looks past rough Trump season. Following a 20th season that became disjointed due in part to the outcome of the presidential election, Matt Stone and Trey Parker are ready for a fresh start.
New oral history: Creator David E. Kelley as well as stars Calista Flockhart, Lucy Liu, Peter MacNicol, Gil Bellows, Greg Germann and Jane Krakowski, among others, share secrets with Craig Tomashoff about the former Fox favorite. Full story.
What else we're reading...
— "Best pictures, maybe, but Telluride is not about Oscars." A.O. Scott's fest wrap: "The sense that we might, at any given screening, find ourselves at the start of a path that will terminated next March at the Dolby Theater ... puts scribblers in a bit of a bind." [The New York Times]
— "Meghan Markle, wild about Harry!" Sam Kashner's cover story: "Battered by the tabloids - to the point where her boyfriend, Prince Harry, issued a statement defending her - actress and activist Meghan Markle has largely ignored the media storm." [Vanity Fair]
— "Kevin Smith’s celebrity reboot." Abraham Riesman's profile: "After years in critical exile, the onetime poster boy for slacker filmmaking reinvents himself for an era of narrowcast fame." [New York]
— "Verizon wants to build an advertising juggernaut." Ryan Knutson writes: "The company offers concert tickets and other rewards in exchange for customers’ personal information." [The Wall Street Journal]
— "Tom Cruise still flying high at UK box office." Charles Gant notes: In its second outing, "Doug Liman’s CIA thriller took less than £1m at the weekend yet still ended up on top, while indie God’s Own Country charmed British cinemagoers." [The Guardian]
What's ahead this week..
Monday: Venice Film Festival continues through Sept. 9.
Tuesday: New Line hosts It premiere event in L.A. ... FX's American Horror Story: Cult premieres.
Thursday: Toronto International Film Festival kicks off with Shia LaBeouf's Borg/McEnroe as opener ... HBO hosts The Deuce premiere event in N.Y. ... SundanceTV hosts Top of the Lake: China Girl premiere in N.Y.
Friday: New Line's It, Open Road's Home Again hit theaters in wide release, 9/11 hits theaters in limited release ... THR's TIFF interview lounge opens.
Saturday: Creative Arts Emmys Night One held in L.A.
Sunday: Creative Arts Emmys Night Two held in L.A. ... Fox's The Orville premieres.
Today's birthdays: Carice van Houten, 41, Rose McGowan, 44, Michael Keaton, 66, Werner Herzog, 75, George Lazenby, 78.