What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:08 AM 1/16/2018

by Ray Rahman

Aziz Ansari - Master of None Season 2 Premiere - Getty - H 2017
Noam Galai/WireImage/Getty Images

What's news: Aziz Ansari finds some defenders in the debate about claims against him. Plus: Eliza Dushku gets support from her former co-stars, Ava DuVernay and Kathryn Bigelow win big at the NAACP Image Awards and a running guide to all of Sundance 2018's parties and events. — Ray Rahman

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  • NAACP Image Awards

    The NAACP Image Awards wrapped up last night, but not without leaving us with plenty of memorable moments — including six actresses standing for #MeToo, Kate Kilkenny writes: 

    Kerry Washington, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lena Waithe, Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Angela Robinson and Laverne Cox shared a message encouraging viewers to "stand by us, stand for us, stand with us."

    In a group message about the #MeToo Movement delivered before the best actress in a drama series prize, each woman delivered a sentence of the statement before passing it on to the other. "We are America's black women," Washington said, starting off the message. "Forces of nature," Ellis Ross added. Read more.

    + Danny Glover talks race, labor rights while accepting President's Award: "Labor rights are civil rights," Glover said during his acceptance speech, adding: "Whatever my activity as a citizen working with unions or other work, I'm still an actor, and I love acting as much as I loved it from the first moment I decided it was the profession I wanted to be in."

    + Kathryn Bigelow criticized Trump: “Given the racist and xenophobic views emanating from the White House this week, largely unchallenged in the halls of power, we must remain vigilant and uncompromising in demanding our leaders reflect our highest ideals as an inclusive democracy," the director said.

    + The winners: Ava DuVernay won Entertainer of the Year, while Get Out dominated the show, winning awards for outstanding actor, writing and directing. Girls Trip and Detroit also performed well. See the full list.

    + What you didn't see: A ton of excitement for Marvel's Black Panther, a strong statement from Maxine Waters, a Key & Peele reunion and a Stranger Things star's sweet dance moves. Here's what the cameras missed.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Arnold Schwarzenegger backs Eliza Dushku"You bet your ass all of us would have done something," the former California governor tweeted. "I’m shocked and saddened for Eliza but I am also proud of her - beyond being a great talent and an amazing woman, she is so courageous."

    + Jamie Lee Curtis wrote: "We have all started to awaken to the fact that the terrible abuses now commonplace in daily news reports have been going on for a very long time ... Eliza's story has now awakened us from our denial slumber to a new, horrific reality: the abuse of children."

    + Two more women have joined Dushku in accusing stunt coordinator Joel Kramer of misconduct.  

    ? Leah Remini defends Paul Haggis against misconduct allegations, takes aim at Scientology: "Claims of anonymous accusers who have NOT gone to law enforcement are not credible," Remini, along with her A&E co-host Mike Rinder, said in a lengthy open letter. Read it here.

    ? Timothée Chalamet donates salary from Woody Allen movie to Time's Up: Joining the likes of Rebecca Hall before him, the actor explained his decision: "I am learning that a good role isn't the only criteria for accepting a job. That has become much clearer to me in the last few months, having witnessed the birth movement intent on ending injustice, inequality and above all, silence."

    ^Sundance cheat sheet: Your guide to all the events, parties and more. As Hollywood takes over Park City, Chris Gardner and Ramona Saviss have all the intel on what to do and where to be during the annual film festival:

    Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures and Freestyle Digital Media Hospitality Lounge with Extra 632 Main St., daily Jan. 18-21, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m. Hospitality lounge featuring appetizers, drinks, swag and networking — and some sun on a rooftop deck. Partners include Kühl, Extra and Tesla.

    The IMDb Studio & Private Celebrity Lounge 570 Main St., daily through Jan. 22 IMDb's invitation-only video and photo studio, and celebrity lounge. Upstairs, filmmaker Kevin Smith will host on-camera interviews with actors, writers and directors; downstairs, stars and industry VIPs can chill in IMDb’s private lounge featuring gifting and beverages. See the full list.

    ? Creed 2 casting: Boxer Florian Munteanu has been cast as the son of Ivan Drago, the memorable Russian villain portrayed by Dolph Lungdren in Rocky IV

    ? R.I.P., Richard Venture: The prolific character actor, seen in films such as Scent of a Woman and Being There, passed away at the age of 94.

  • Paramount Network Preview

    Spike rebrands on Thursday, when Viacom launches its general entertainment destination Paramount Network. At TCA, the executives, showrunners and stars from the cabler's first four scripted shows previewed what's to come, writes Lesley Goldberg:

    "We want to be the definitive new home for premium storytelling," said president Kevin Kay. "Our goal is to change the game of how viewers experience high-end scripted on basic cable. … We're a premium network without the premium subscription price."

    Paramount Network will officially launch Thursday at 9 p.m. with a live, Michael Jackson-themed installment of Lip Sync Battle, Spike's signature show. Its unscripted offerings also include Spike holdovers Ink Master and Bar Rescue.

    On the scripted side, its first offering will be Waco, the six-part miniseries about David Koresh and the Branch Davidians starring Michael Shannon and Taylor Kitsch. That will be followed by Heathers, an hourlong dark comedic reboot of the cult hit 1988 movie; the half-hour 1970s-set feminist comedy American Woman starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari; and Kevin Costner starrer Yellowstone. Read more.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? HLN host slams Aziz Ansari accuser. Ashleigh Banfield had some harsh words for the anonymous woman: "The #MeToo movement has righted a lot of wrongs and it has made your career path much smoother ... what a gift. Yet, you looked that gift horse in the mouth and chiseled away at that powerful movement with your public accusation …  The only sentence a guy like that deserves is a bad case of blue balls.” Watch her speech here.

    + Two Ansari-defending op-eds are also adding fire to the issue: "The humiliation of Aziz Ansari" by Caitlin Flanagan in The Atlantic and "Aziz Ansari is guilty. Of not being a mind reader" by Bari Weiss in the New York Times.

    ? Margaret Atwood faces backlash over "bad feminist" op-ed: Writing in Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper, Atwood outlined her concerns regarding the #MeToo movement: that it might overreach and override legal avenues and due process. Reaction was swift, and after relentless criticism, Atwood tweeted that she would be stepping away from social media for awhile.

    ? Versace primer: How the FX drama tackles homophobia — and the family's main point of contention. Writer Tom Rob Smith weighs in on Maureen Orth's reporting (which the Versace family is contesting), while Edgar Ramirez and Ricky Martin sound off on the institutionalized homophobia that led to Versace's murder. Full story.

    ^Black Lightning, reviewed: "The pleasant surprise is that CW's Black Lightning, based on yet another DC Comics property, is smart and relevant and full of an attitude that's all its own," writes Daniel Fienberg. "It takes its characters and their world seriously, but thus far doesn't take itself too seriously." Full review.

    ? Snapchat's scripted plan: "I'm fascinated by how serialized is going to work on Snapchat," head of original series Sean Mills told TCA, adding that the app — known for its disappearing messages and Shows that only last 24 hours — will make it possible for users to rewatch episodes. "We're just at the very beginning. We're learning alongside our partners."

    ? Lifetime announces a Prince Harry-Meghan Markle movie. The movie, to be titled Harry & Meghan: The Royal Love Story, promises to “chronicle the courtship and love story between a beloved prince and his new fiancée.” The network has yet to cast the royal duo.

    ? Comedy Central re-ups The Jim Jeffries Show: The Australian comedian’s late-night series will return with a 20-episode second season.

    + The network also announced that it will be launching You Up With Nikki Glaser, its first-ever live daily morning show on SiriusXM's Comedy Central Radio. The show, which will feature Glaser and her best friend and touring buddy Tom Thakkar oversharing about their personal lives, will premiere in February.

    ? The Carol Burnett Show is set to stream: CBS Television Distribution has inked a deal to acquire digital multicast rights to the series' entire 11-season run. That's 276 hours worth of the celebrated CBS variety show, many of which have not seen the light of day since their original air date.

    + Burnett: “I’m thrilled to be back home at CBS, and I’m so happy that future generations will be able to see and enjoy the fun we had in those 11 wonderful years,” the comedian said.

  • What Is "Prestige Popcorn"?

    AMC, the network behind The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad, told TV critics they're trying to make "prestige popcorn" television, but what does that even mean? Daniel Fienberg writes:

    I enjoy classification and "prestige popcorn" is a good name, not necessarily for what AMC is aiming for any more or less than any other cable or streaming network. But it's a great way to avoid just saying, "We're looking for the next Game of Thrones," even if that's exactly what it really means.

    But what do we mean when we say "prestige"? This is tougher. Is there a pretension of "quality"? Are the creative auspices elevated? Is the source material of repute? But that's all about intent. So then ... Is it actually good? Are reviews good? Is it in award conversations? Probably not all of these are required, but it helps. Read more.

    What else we're reading...

    — "HBO to talent: You won't get this much love at Netflix." Joe Flint writes: "As other channels stockpile content, HBO is trimming its development pipeline: 'More is not better, only better is better.'" [Wall Street Journal]

    — "Improving workplace culture, one review at a time." Lizzie Widdicombe writes: "With its emphasis on transparency, the jobs site Glassdoor aims to upend corporate power dynamics." [The New Yorker]

    — "How Mark Zuckerberg's divorce from media could backfire." Maya Kosoff writes: "In early tests in post-conflict countries, Facebook’s News Feed surfaced more news stories from friends and family - and fake news increased." [Vanity Fair]

    — "Jane the Virgin has the best family on TV." Kathryn VanArendonk writes: "Do not be put off by the fact that they’re occasionally thrown down stairs, caught up in international drug rings, being kidnapped, or are pushed into other hypermelodramatic circumstances." [Vulture]

    — "Can you ever love Jimi Hendrix too much?" David Freedlander writes: "Two plays, about the rock critic Lester Bangs, and about Jimi Hendrix, are brilliant for fans - but as pieces of theater labor under too much reverence for their subjects. " [Daily Beast]

    — "Why the Cranberries' 'Dreams' is one of the greatest songs of all time." Following news of singer Dolores O'Riordan's death, Andrew Unterberger writes: "The best example of O'Riordan's gift for blending stunning strength with exquisite fragility was likely 'Dreams,' a strikingly lush love song that served as the group's 1992 debut single." [Billboard]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "James Taylor sings 'Fire and Fury.'" [Tonight Show]

    + "Don't fire the Hawaiian who hit the emergency alert." [Late Show]

    + "David Duchovny thinks Agent Mulder is a horrible FBI agent." [Late Night]

    + "Ava DuVernay: For me to say no - in my mind, there may not be another chance." [THR]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Bambadjan Bamba comes out as undocumented." The actor, best known for The Good Place and the upcoming Black Panther, says Hollywood should fight DACA." [Slate Represent]

    + "Johnny Cash's unlikely collaboration with a Folsom Prison inmate." A look back on how Cash recorded on his most enduring albums. [The Frame / KPCC]

    Today's Birthdays: Lin-Manuel Miranda, 38, Kate Moss, 44, James May, 55, Sade, 59, John Carpenter, 70.