What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:22 AM 1/12/2018

by Ray Rahman

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

What's news: HBO and Turner meet the TCA press. Plus: The Shape of Water charms critics, the Williams-Wahlberg pay gap prompts industry outrage and the #MeToo movement spawns a cottage industry. — Ray Rahman

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  • HBO Faces Press

    Courtesy of HBO

    As HBO took the stage at TCA, programming president Casey Bloys talked to Lesley Goldberg about Big Little Lies, Deadwood and the long wait for more Game of Thrones:

    Thrones prequels: "There are five of them. If we do a pilot and series, nothing is going to air on HBO until at least a year after the final season [which will air in 2019]. We're not doing a final season and then, 'Following it at 11 p.m. … .' I've seen some exciting material. We have really great writers working on these; it's very exciting. But there's no timetable about when a decision would be made about any of them."

    Big Little Lies: "They start shooting in the spring. It's not going to air in 2018. In general, I don't think anybody involved is thinking we're going to do the same thing. In any second season of a show, people want to see growth in the characters and storylines."

    Deadwood movie: "David Milch is doing a rewrite that he and the producers were talking about. If they can get all the actors together, which they're trying to do — and everybody wants to do it — if they can get everybody back together, we're looking at fall 2018 to shoot something." Full Q&A.

    + David Simon addresses James Franco misconduct claims: "I am still reading it the same as everyone else, trying to discern what is or isn't there," the Deuce co-creator said. "Personally, I can only speak knowledgeably to The Deuce. I've checked with all my fellow producers and other personnel. We have no complainant or complaint or any awareness of any incident of concern involving Mr. Franco."

    + Bill Hader draws on SNL experience for Barry: The comedian revealed that the dark comedy he created with Silicon Valley exec producer Alec Berg was inspired by his own time on SNL. "It's the idea that this thing you’re really good at is actually kind of destroying you," Hader said. "And I kind of related to that on SNL."

    + Updates on Fahrenheit 451, Divorce season 2, upcoming drama Succession (which is not about the Murdochs, wink wink), a new Flight of the Conchords special and Judd Apatow's four-hour documentary The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.

    Turner was the other main event, with TBS and TNT president Kevin Reilly speaking to Michael O'Connell about refreshing its cable portfolio:

    Banking on TNT's The Alienist: "For talent, for producers, for a network, when you get something that's really special, like Big Little Lies, you don't want to give that gig up. It is hard to get lightning to strike twice — but if The Alienist goes over well, we're probably going to put some brainpower behind trying to do at least another chapter of it."

    More Samantha Bee: "You can anticipate more specials. And we're almost ready to roll out a lot more digital content — not one-off segments but a steady pulse of content between the weekly shows. Sam has carte blanche to do whatever she wants and has from day one." Full Q&A.

    + TNT & TBS news and notes: Full Frontal With Samantha Bee was renewed for two more seasons ... American Dad, The Joker's Wild and Drop the Mic all got renewals as well ... Tracy Morgan's scripted comedy The Last O.G. will premiere April 3.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Ronan Farrow inks HBO deal: Farrow finalized a three-year deal with the network, where he will develop and front a series of investigative documentaries.

    + NBC's loss: Farrow's contract with NBC News lapsed last summer, and he's been open about his frustration with them after they passed on his Weinstein reporting.

    + HBO has a history of signing high-profile news talent, though not always to great success: Bill Simmons’ sports-talk series was short lived, and Jon Stewart has barely been seen.

    U.K.'s Channel 4 orders Harvey Weinstein doc: The unnamed new feature will be the country's second, as the BBC already has one in the works. It could become a race: Neither network has yet to announce an air date.

    Megan Ganz accepts Dan Harmon's apology: The Community creator used his Harmontown podcast to offer a lengthier apology to his former writer Ganz, whom he initially apologized to on Twitter for having treated her like "garbage." Ganz accepted, and even called the podcast episode "a masterclass in How to Apologize." 

    Jim Acosta vs. Sarah Huckabee Sanders: The two old rivals went at it again during yesterday's White House briefing when CNN's Acosta asked point blank whether there was "cause and effect" between Fox & Friends programming and Trump's tweets.

    + The exchange: "I'm sure you're disappointed he's not watching CNN," Sanders said. Acosta begged to differ: “I think he watches a lot of CNN.” Sanders countered, “I don't think that's true — your numbers would be higher,” prompting gasps from the room.

    ^Polishing an expletive: Cable news responds to Trump's bad word. The president called certain nations "shithole countries" yesterday, prompting networks to figure out how to report on the vulgarity. Per a New York Times tally, CNN and MSNBC used the full word in its chyrons, while Fox News cleaned it up with asterisks.

    + Primetime reactions: Anderson Cooper fought back tears. Don Lemon called the president a racist. Tucker Carlson took a different tack: "Why can't you say that?"

    + Late night's scathing reviews. Colbert: "Sir, they're not shithole countries. For one, Donald Trump is not their president." Kimmel: "We voted for a racist." Noah: "As someone who is from South Shithole, I'm offended." Meyers: "I don't ... I just ... I mean ..." Watch them all here.

    Super Bowl commercials: $5 million for 30 seconds? That's what NBC says prices have reached for a half-minute ad, adding that there are fewer than 10 spots left.

    + Cindy Crawford returns: Pepsi revealed that the supermodel will star in the brand's upcoming Super Bowl commercial. Crawford and Pepsi go way back, of course: She showed up in a steamy Super Bowl ad in 1992, and reprised her role on the commercial's 10th anniversary in 2002.

    Carrie Brownstein's next show: The comedian-musician is adapting her memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl into a comedy pilot called Search and Destroy for Hulu; Annapurna Television is producing.

    + Also at Hulu, the best-selling novel The Wangs vs. The World is being developed into a half-hour series, with Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians) attached to direct.

    In the works: Jennifer Lopez is returning to Will & Grace as a guest star — both as herself and as her Shades of Blue character ... Brad Garrett is set to recur in season 2 of Showtime's I'm Dying Up Here ... ABC is developing a Selena-inspired "music driven, Latino family drama."

  • Wage Gap Outrage

    Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Amid the spotlight now being trained on gender inequity in Hollywood, the fact that Mark Wahlberg made $1.5 million more than co-star Michelle Williams on All the Money in the World reshoots has provoked outrage industrywide, writes Gregg Kilday:

    According to a new report in USA Today, Wahlberg had co-star approval and would not approve Christopher Plummer’s casting in the reshoots until his salary demand was met.

    Possibly further complicating the controversy is the question of whether the film’s principal stars had agreed to make themselves available for necessary reshoots in their original contracts, as is often customary. One source insists that unlike his co-stars, Wahlberg was not contractually obligated to do reshoots, while other reports have said that all the actors in the film had contracts that provided for reshoots.

    It’s also unclear whether or not Williams knew that Wahlberg hadn’t yet committed to the reshoots when she agreed to participate. Read more.

    + How stars are reacting: “She has been in the industry for 20 years. She deserves more than 1% of her male costar’s salary," Jessica Chastain said. "This is totally unacceptable," Amber Tamblyn wrote. Judd Apatow tweeted: "This is so messed up that it is almost hard to believe. Almost. This is how this business works. I wonder if the studio or Wahlberg will do something to make the situation less insane."

    Elsewhere in film...

    Critics' Choice Awards: The Shape of Water proved to be the big winner on the film side of last night's ceremony, with the film winning Best Picture and Guillermo Del Toro taking Best Director. See the full list of winners.

    + James Franco also won Best Actor for The Disaster Artist, but he was not in attendance.

    + Host Olivia Munn, joined by Niecy Nash, got in a Wahlberg dig: "I want to say 'thank you' to the producers for paying Niecy and I the same amount of money and Mark Wahlberg a million dollars." (He wasn't there either.)

    DGA Awards breakdown: Do its diverse nominations point to Oscar noms? Scott Feinberg writes: "After sure-bets Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro, the DGA filled its final top spots with Martin McDonagh, Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig. What makes these selections hugely significant is the fact that no guild has a longer or stronger track record of anticipating the nominees for both the best picture and best director Oscars.” Full analysis.

    WGA unveils film, TV nominations. Original screenplay shortlist: Big SickGet Out, I, Tonya, Lady Bird and Shape of Water. Adapted screenplays: Call Me By Your Name, Disaster Artist, Logan, Molly's Game and Mudbound. See the full list.

    + Notably absent from both the DGA and WGA lists: Steven Spielberg and The Post.

    Shape of Water, Lady Bird top L.A. Online Film Critics Society Awards: The first critics group to separate directing honors by gender named del Toro and Gerwig best male and female director, respectively. Lady Bird also won for best independent film.

    ^Proud Mary, reviewed: "The mob-war stuff here could not possibly be more rote," John DeFore writes of the Taraji P. Henson starrer. The takeaway: "A dud crime flick that barely even tries to muster the Blaxploitation cool its title sequence evokes." Full review.

    + Taraji's next move: The actress is attached to star in and produce a movie about Emmett Till, playing his mother. The film is being developed by Henson's TPH Productions and will be directed by John Singleton.

    Fox cancels James Mangold's Patty Hearst biopic. “Twentieth Century Fox Film and its production partners have decided to cancel the studio’s planned project based on the book American Heiress,” the studio said Thursday in a statement. The move comes after Hearst blasted Jeffrey Toobin, the author of the book in question.

    Fox's Gambit loses Gore Verbinski: The director has exited the Channing Tatum-staring X-Men spinoff.

    + X-Men shakeup: Following the Verbinski news, Fox updated the franchise's release schedule. Deadpool 2 moves up to May 18 (from June 1) — bold, given that it's just one week before Disney's Solo: A Star Wars Story. Meanwhile, the horror-tinged The New Mutants jumps to Feb. 22, 2019 (from June 7), and Gambit gets pushed to June 7, 2019 (from Feb. 14).

    Sony's Venom first-look is... a little disappointing, fans are grumbling, since it's more or less just an image of Tom Hardy.

    In development: Natalie Portman is in talks to star in Pale Blue Dot, the Noah Hawley astronaut drama that was once slated to star Reese Witherspoon; Witherspoon will still produce ... Bob Odenkirk will star in and co-produce Nobody, a revenge thriller from STXfilms and John Wick writer Derek Kolstad ... John Malkovich joins the Ted Bundy thriller Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, which stars Zac Efron as the serial killer.

    Nicolas Cage signs with WME. The Oscar winner, previously with CAA, has signed with WME in all areas.

    ► CAA sued for fraud by Worldview Entertainment: The financier claims the agency set it up to fail by recommending poor-performing projects that no one else wanted to fund. "Relying on CAA's promises, expertise and advice, between 2010 and 2015, Plaintiffs invested more than $55 million in more than 20 different film projects that were suggested by CAA," reads the complaint

     

  • #MeToo Inc.

    Illustration by Jacob Myrick

    Welcome to the new #MeToo economy, where Hollywood lawyers and crisis PR pros are seeing an "unprecedented uptick" in business, write Ashley Cullins and Rebecca Sun:

    LAWYERS It's no surprise that litigators who handle harassment claims have seen an uptick, but for some the size has been remarkable. "I'd say it's easily a 300 percent [increase]," says Marina Fraigun, a plaintiffs' lawyer specializing in harassment. "This is unprecedented in volume and duration."

    CRISIS MANAGERS Publicists who specialize in crisis PR have scarcely found a moment's rest. "Sadly, the phone has been ringing quite a bit with those seeking rep­utation help and crisis communications," says a consultant working with one of the accused A-listers, adding that the firm has declined most requests to represent more people. "The workload can be relentless, involving waves of stories sometimes breaking at 4 in the morning." Read more.

    + How the harassment fallout could finally sober up Hollywood. With alcohol and drugs emerging as worrisome throughlines in many harassment cases, employers like CAA and WME are changing their parties, and addiction centers are seeing a "huge" boon. Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Can Scott Cooper's winning Western wrangle an Oscar nod?" Rebecca Keegan writes: "Christian Bale shines - but with an old-fashioned format and a brand-new distributor, it's an uphill climb for Hostiles." [Vanity Fair]

    — "Is Sony ashamed of Proud Mary?" Chris Lee writes: "The action-thriller starring Taraji P. Henson as a badass, wig-wearing, Maserati-driving assassin for the Boston mob hasn’t been screened for critics or even reporters attending its press junket by the studio’s genre division, Screen Gems." [Vulture]

    — "Hulu is Hollywood's last line of defense against a tech takeover." Victor Luckerson writes: "The streaming service has finally forged an identity distinct from Netflix’s, which will be key to stopping Silicon Valley’s Hollywood landgrab." [The Ringer]

    — "Inside the feedback loop between the president and Fox News." Gabriel Sherman writes: "According to conversations in recent days with current and former Fox executives, producers, and hosts, Trump looms almost as large in the minds of employees as Ailes did." [Vanity Fair]

    — "Facebook overhauls news feed to focus on what friends and family share." Mike Isaac writes about the social media platform's sweeping new changes: "Users will begin seeing fewer viral videos and news articles shared by media companies." [New York Times]

    — "Treadmill meetings are Wall Street's new steak dinners." Kate Krader and Arie Shapira write: "The trend has been building for a while now among professionals in media relations and the entertainment industry in cities like New York and Los Angeles, with bankers slowly beginning to jump on the model over the last year." [Bloomberg]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Jake Tapper talks about his Stephen Miller interview." [Late Night]

    + "Jimmy embarrasses Annette Bening with Miami Vice clip." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Matt Smith got a little tipsy at James Corden's wedding." [Late Late Show]

    + "Saoirse Ronan: "When Greta and I came together, Lady Bird was born.” [THR]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Mary J. Blige: Interview." The musician and Mudbound star reflects on her music, struggles with substances and her attraction to acting. [Awards Chatter / THR]

    + "Jeffrey Toobin and the breakneck speed of breaking news." The legal analyst chats with Larry Wilmore about Trump, the media and more. [Black on the Air / The Ringer]

    + "Oprah 2020." Hanna Rosin, Noreen Malone and June Thomas assess Oprah's possible presidential run. [Double X / Slate]

    Today's Birthdays: Zayn Malik, 25, Issa Rae, 33, Ali Wentworth, 53, Rob Zombie, 53, Christiane Amanpour, 60, Howard Stern, 64, Kirstie Alley, 67, Haruki Murakami, 69.