What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:29 AM 1/10/2018

by Ray Rahman

Ronan Farrow -Photographed by Miller Mobley -Splash-2018
Photographed by Miller Mobley

What's news: NBC addresses the Catt Sadler controversy — and Sadler responds. Plus: Behind the scenes of the Weinstein Co. sale, a fired Netflix exec makes his case and Ronan Farrow tells all in the THR cover story. — Ray Rahman

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On the cover: Ronan Farrow, the Hollywood prince who torched the castle. A child of entertainment royalty and an early witness to "power used for ill," the son of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow opens up about helping bring down Harvey Weinstein, the NBC News debacle and what's next (a big HBO deal), writes Marisa Guthrie:

During nearly a year of reporting, 10 months of it at NBC News, Farrow would interview more than 300 people. Upon publication, even as the piece shook Hollywood to its core, it catapulted the author's own media profile. Farrow is now a hot commodity, aggressively pursued on the speaker circuit, and though he only has one short-lived TV news-hosting gig under his belt, he is being courted by a wide array of outlets.

Sources say he is close to a multiyear HBO deal that will include an investigative documentary component. Meanwhile, he has joined the contributing staff of The New Yorker and is finishing a book about foreign policy, due in April from W.W. Norton. (During one interview in mid-December at The New Yorker's offices, Farrow keeps his iPhone on the table, awaiting a call from Madeleine Albright.)

+ As to whether Hollywood finally will turn its back on Allen, Farrow says: "It's not for me to say what Hollywood will or won't do. I will say that in every industry there are still powerful men facing credible allegations of wrongdoing who continue to evade accountability. As empowering a moment as this moment is, there's still a long way to go." Read more.

  • Inside the Weinstein Sale

    Female empowerment and a key backer's baggage: Maria Contreras-Sweet and a women-majority board could bring a fresh start for the House of Harvey, but investor Ron Burkle's background isn't totally on-message, writes Tatiana Siegel:

    The leading bid — fronted by Obama administration alum Contreras-Sweet and backed by billionaire Burkle — is raising eyebrows in Hollywood. Sources say Burkle has remained in contact with Harvey Weinstein, who has been keeping a low profile.

    And if Contreras-Sweet's bid wins at auction, it gives Burkle, who would be a minority investor, a foothold in a company that has been rocked by dozens of women claiming that the disgraced mogul sexually assaulted and harassed them. "I find it profoundly disturbing, leaning toward sociopathy," says Rose McGowan. "It makes me despise these replicants even more."

    Although the Contreras-Sweet bid could fall through, insiders say it is expected to close by the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. She is competing against several suitors, including Lionsgate (which is eyeing piecemeal assets rather than the company as a whole) as well as a Killer Films-Abigail Disney bid and one from Len Blavatnik, who is owed $49 million by TWC and likely would take assets in a debt swap. There are other bids on the table that are bankruptcy-contingent, though TWC is trying to avoid that scenario. Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Warner Bros. shake-up: Sue Kroll is stepping down as the president of worldwide marketing and distribution, while Toby Emmerich has been named chairman of the Warner Bros. Pictures Group with full oversight of worldwide theatrical production, marketing and distribution.

    + As part of the reorg, Blair Rich will head global theatrical and home entertainment marketing, and Ron Sanders will assume responsibility for global theatrical distribution. Full story. 

    ? Women in film study: In a survey of the 250 top-grossing films, a new study found that women comprised only 18 percent of directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers. That number was virtually unchanged from the 17 percent who held such roles 20 years ago in 1998.

    ? Michelle Williams stiffed? Outrage is brewing over a USA Today report that Williams was paid "over 1000 times less" than Mark Wahlberg — $1,000 for her compared to his $1.5 million — to reshoot scenes of All the Money in the World

    ? James Franco makes his case: The actor/director was pressed by Stephen Colbert last night about sexual harassment claims made about him online. "The things I heard are not accurate, but I completely support people coming out because they didn’t have a voice for so long," Franco, who wore a Time's Up pin to the Globes on Sunday, told Colbert.

    + The John Oliver effect? Oliver memorably pressed Dustin Hoffman on his own harassment allegations during an interview back in December, a sign of how late-night hosts are evolving with the times. 

    + The New York Times canceled a scheduled TimesTalk with Franco over the "recent allegations."

    ? Catherine Deneuve criticizes the #MeToo movement: “Rape is a crime, but insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a macho aggression,” read the open letter that ran in Le Monde and signed by over 100 prominent French women, including actress Deneuve. The editorial went on to say that while the fallout from the #MeToo movement has raised awareness of legitimate sexual violence, the ensuing shaming of men has become a "Puritanical" witch hunt.

    ^How the #MeToo movement could kill some sexy movies: With Fifty Shades Freed poised to hit theaters as the town navigates the post-Harvey Weinstein landscape, an early casualty of the climate shift may be big-screen erotica, writes Tatiana Siegel:

    The Bradley Cooper-helmed A Star Is Born remake at Warner Bros. has morphed from steamy to something far more chaste, say insiders. The Hugh Hefner biopic that once was set up at Warner Bros. is all but dead — even without the now-disgraced Brett Ratner at the helm. And lit agents and managers, who typically have their finger on the pulse of what is in demand at the majors, are telling their clients, "Not now," when it comes to overtly sexual material. Read more.

    ? Martin McDonagh just doesn't care: “There’s something kind of exciting when people are free to speak as they really do in the real world," the Three Billboards director said in an interview with Yahoo Movies UK when asked about his pushing his films to the limit. "I think there’s a bit too much bland PC filmmaking going on and you never really want to watch those films twice, so I prefer this kind."

    ? Orion Pictures nabs a zombie Christmas musical: Anna and the Apocalypse, directed by John McPhail and starring Ella Hunt, is slated for a holiday 2018 release.

    ? Millie Bobby Brown's next act: The actress inked a deal with Legendary Entertainment to star in a film series based on Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes Mysteries book series.

    ? Finn Wolfhard goes with CAA. Speaking of those Stranger Things kids: Wolfhard has signed with CAA after leaving APA in October when his agent, Tyler Gresham, was accused by multiple men of sexual harassment and assault.

    ? Ansel Elgort vs. Timothée Chalamet. The actors, both alums of New York's LaGuardia High, each insist the other one was the bigger campus celebrity.

    ? Tonya Harding and Tommy Wiseau partied together: In a story that only the 2018 awards season could produce, the former figure skater and the The Room director were seen hanging out together on Golden Globes night.

    Meryl Streep's message of female empowerment. “I know it’s the year of the woman and everything, but oh, my god, the men,” Streep said at the NBR awards gala in New York, where Angelina Jolie, Gal Gadot and Greta Gerwig also received honors. “Our film, in this very fraught moment, is about the best working situation between a man and a woman where respect and devotion to the work and to the honor of the work is paramount."

  • NBC Talks

    The Peacock and its related networks were in the spotlight at TCA yesterday, where they answered a number of questions — including some regarding the Catt Sadler saga, writes Bryn Elise Sandberg:

    NBCUniversal's president of Lifestyle Networks Frances Berwick took the stage to clarify the issue. "There is a lot of misinformation out there," said the exec, who oversees Bravo Media, Oxygen Media, Universal Kids and E! Entertainment in her role.

    "Catt Sadler and Jason Kennedy had different roles and therefore different salaries. Catt was focused on daytime. Jason Kennedy is on prime, evening news, plus red carpet," Berwick continued. "Our employees’ salaries are based on their roles and their expertise, regardless of gender. So we wish Catt well, but I hope that sets the record straight on that." Full story.

    + Sadler's response: "My experience, frustration and disparity was based on Jason Kennedy and myself being apples to apples," she told THR in a lengthy interview. "We came to the network at the same time and did similar jobs. For people to use the argument that Giuliana somehow made more money than Jason, that comparison doesn't work." Q&A.

    + Rose McGowan takes the stage: "I have to sell my house right now to pay legal bills fighting the monster," the actress and activist said during the presentation for her upcoming series Citizen Rose. Among the other topics she discussed: the Sadler situation, equal pay and the Time's Up movement.

    + Jason Katims on Rise: "I think having a show like This Is Us that's had the success it's had has cleared the path in a way for doing shows like Rise," Katims said of his upcoming musical theater drama. "Shows that are very character-driven and have a deep emotional core to them and are ultimately just shows about people. Those are definitely the shows that appeal to me as a viewer, but it's also the kinds of stories I like to tell." Read more.

    + Recasting Good Girls: How did Christina Hendricks come to replace Kathleen Rose Perkins in the upcoming midseason drama? Creator Jenna Bans explains

    + NBC news and notes: Ellen DeGeneres' Game of Games renewed for season 2 ... The Super Bowl telecast will show kneeling (if kneeling happens) ... NBC ordered the apartment drama pilot The Village from Sons of Anarchy alum Mike Daniels ... The network is accepting applications for its Female Forward directors program

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Trump on Oprah: "Yeah, I'll beat Oprah," the president said. "Oprah would be a lot of fun." But he added: "I don't think she's going to run."

    ? Hulu's big number: 17 million. That's the number of subscribers Hulu said it surpassed in 2017, an increase of 5 million (42 percent) from the last reported tally for 2016.

    + The streaming service is clearly in the mood to show off these days: It released those numbers just days after it walked out of the Golden Globes with two trophies.

    + Interesting nugget: Hulu also said that South Park and Law & Order: SVU were the most-watched comedy and drama on its service last year.

    + One bit of bad news: Hulu canceled the Hugh Laurie series Chance, which lasted for only 2 seasons.

    ? Discovery is moving: The network announced that it would relocate its Maryland headquarters to New York by the end of next year, though a "Maryland hub" will still be maintained. 

    ? Jimmy Fallon's post-Super Bowl guests: Justin Timberlake (surprise!), The Rock and the cast of This Is Us will show up for the special Super Bowl night edition of The Tonight Show, which will air after the This Is Us midseason premiere and the local news.

    + It's a bit remarkable for Timberlake, the Super Bowl halftime act, to be on The Tonight Show immediately afterward — has a live interview ever happened so quickly following the main event? — but speaks to his close relationship with Fallon. Will he be ready to address any gaffes that may occur?

    ? More John Dickerson details: Not only will he be the new co-anchor of CBS This Morning (in New York), but he'll be leaving Washington and Face the Nation as well. And so begins the next big TV horse race: Who will assume his duties on the venerable Sunday morning program that the president memorably nicknamed "Deface the Nation"?

    ? Tonya Harding battles Piers Morgan: In a very tense interview with Morgan on Good Morning Britain, a visibly frustrated Harding tries to cut the interview short when he presses her on "playing the victim" in the Nancy Kerrigan saga.

    ^"I was ousted from Netflix for a comment on a soccer field": An executive's mea culpa. "Just as the game was starting and I was making sure the girls knew their positions, a woman I didn't know approached me and asked if I worked at Netflix," writes Andy Yeatman, the man fired for his comments he made to one of Danny Masterson's accusers. "She then inquired about The Ranch, a show that I had nothing to do with." Read more.

    ? "I asked myself, is this worth dying for?" Salim Akil, showrunner of CW's upcoming DC superhero series Black Lightning, tells the New York Times about getting pulled over outside his office and how the experience influenced the show.

    ? Modern Family plots the end (and maybe a spinoff): With the series approaching its 200th episode, showrunners Steve Levitan and Christopher Lloyd open up about the show's future.

    ? BoJack Horseman on cable? In a move that may appear counterintuitive in the 2018 TV climate, the show’s Netflix library is being shopped for off-net syndication on traditional basic cable. (Then again, it’s not hard to imagine the series finding a second home on, say, Adult Swim, Comedy Central or even TBS.)

    ? TNT picks up Snowpiercer series: The network announced it was moving forward with a reboot of the movie, with Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly set to star.

    ? Fox picks up L.A. to Vegas for three more episodes: The order brings the freshman comedy's first-season episode count to 15.

    ? Netflix orders supernatural drama Chambers: The 10-episode series, created by Leah Rachel, tells the story of a heart attack survivor who becomes focused on the mystery of the heart that saved her life; the more she learns about her donor's sudden death, the more she starts to take on the characteristics of the deceased.

    ? BBC casts David Oyelowo, Dominic West in BBC-Masterpiece's Les Miserables: They'll join Lily Collins in the six part miniseries, directed by Tom Shankland.

    ? Trailers: New previews were released of FX's Trust, Showtime's Billions season 3 and Syfy's Kypton.

    ? Mark Hamill, Ron Perlman join Transformers: The cult icons will voice characters in the upcoming Power of the Primes animated miniseries, airing later this year.

    ? Tom Brady's TV play: A six-part Facebook Watch docuseries called Tom vs. Time promises to follow the 40-year-old New England Patriots quarterback's quest for a sixth Super Bowl ring as well his off-the-field challenges, including family and personal struggles.

    ? Something fun: Want to see a BBC reporter mobbed by lemurs? Of course you do.

  • CES: 'Downsizing' For Real

    Sort of. The first official day of CES kicked off with the opening of the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center, writes Natalie Jarvey and Carolyn Giardina:

    To help startup Mira launch its Prism augmented reality device, the studio helped Mira create a unique AR experience using assets from the Alexander Payne film Downsizing.

    Paramount futurist Ted Schilowitz explains that users see trailer material in the headset and can select and "downsize" certain items that appear. In following the film's theme, the experience ends by displaying how much money the viewer would have saved with the downsized items. Said Schilowitz of AR: "I'm encouraged by what we have seen with this, and we continue to explore [AR]." Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — "For the men #MeToo has toppled, redemption will take more than an apology." Elizabeth Blair writes: "For those who can afford it, redemption can be a legal process." [NPR]

    — "In writing The Post, self-doubt and insecurity align perfectly with the story that needed telling." Liz Hannah, one of the writers behind the Steven Spielberg film, writes: "In the spring of 2016, I was struggling to make a career out of writing, and was considering what to do next." [L.A. Times]

    — "WWE is letting you step inside the ring with its new VR partnership." Josh Sternberg writes: "It's been 33 years since World Wrestling Entertainment brought a million viewers ringside with its inaugural pay-per-view event, Wrestlemania. Today, the entertainment company is bringing you inside the ring through virtual reality." [Adweek]

    — "He made kids' music and albums about Lucifer. Now his work is a rock opera." Elisabeth Vincentelli writes: "In 1968, a mild-mannered musician named Bruce Haack appeared on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and explained how his homemade electronic instruments worked. A group of children arrived and in a surreal scene, started dancing with Haack’s associate Esther Nelson to the burbles and gurgles erupting from the prehistoric synthesizers." [New York Times]

    — "How Scripto, the app the Stephen Colbert helped build, became a fixture of late-night comedy news." E. Tammy Kim tells the fascinating but incredibly inside-baseball story of how comedy writers and coders developed a tool used by a new breed of late-night shows. [The New Yorker]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Jimmy Kimmel interviews super humble Ricky Gervais." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Trump sings the National Anthem." [Late Show]

    + "Samantha Bee announces The Apology Race." [Full Frontal]

    + Ronan Farrow talks post-Weinstein Hollywood. [THR]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Al Gore: Interview." The former vice president discusses why, after the 2000 presidential election, he decided to devote himself to raising awareness of climate change; how he wound up the subject of the Oscar-winning 2006 doc An Inconvenient Truth and its sequel; and why he thinks Donald Trump needs to resign immediately. [Awards Chatter / THR]

    + "Leave Oprah alone!" Ira Madison III talks Golden Globes, Woody Allen and, yes, Oprah. [Keep It / Crooked Media]

    Today's Birthdays: Jared Kushner, 37, Jemaine Clement, 44, Evan Handler, 57, Pat Benatar, 65, George Foreman, 69, Rod Stewart, 73.