What Matters in Hollywood Today

9:33 AM 1/18/2018

by Ray Rahman


What's news: Dylan Farrow speaks out in a TV interview. Plus: Shari Redstone makes waves at CBS, HLN's Ashleigh Banfield escalates the Aziz Ansari debate and Hollywood actresses start sharing salaries. — Ray Rahman

[Note: To receive this Today in Entertainment newsletter by email each weekday, click here.]

  • Oscars on Eggshells

    Illustration by Riki Blanco

    Will offscreen controversies impact nominations? Amid renewed focus on the personal behavior of actors and others, potential nominees like James Franco and Gary Oldman are already drawing criticism, writes Gregg Kilday:

    There's no way of knowing if the current uproar surrounding Franco will cost him an Oscar slot, since nominations only closed last Friday. But if he does make the list when noms are revealed Jan. 23, it will become problematic.

    Last year's best actor winner Casey Affleck was saddled with stories about two 2010 lawsuits accusing him of unwanted sexual advances and harassment that were settled out of court. Given the current climate of heightened awareness, it's an open question whether Affleck could have prevailed this season — and if he participates in the March 4 Oscar ceremony, it's likely to trigger another outpouring of outrage. Read more.

    In other news...

    London police open new investigation into Kevin Spacey. Scotland Yard confirmed that it had opened another case into the actor for sexual assault, bringing the total number of investigations to three.

    Dylan Farrow opens up about alleged Woody Allen assault in first TV interview: Speaking with CBS This Morning's Gayle King, the adopted daughter of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow described in graphic detail how Allen allegedly sexually assaulted her, and also responded to claims that she was "brainwashed and coached" by her mother. See the interview.

    Natalie Portman, Connie Britton, Eva Longoria to speak at L.A. women's march: They'll be joined by Viola Davis, Allison Janney and Mila Kunis at the event this Saturday at Pershing Square. The Women's March L.A. Foundation also announced that Sen. Kamala Harris, Ellen Barkin, Rob Reiner and Mary Steenburgen will take the stage.

    Elsewhere in film...

    Box office preview: 12 Strong looks to challenge reigning winner Jumanji for the top spot, with both films looking at the $15 million range for the weekend. The Post, meanwhile, should slot in at third with around $13 million. Full preview.

    + How Jumanji saved a broke billionaire: Producer Ted Field, once named one of the world's richest, was swimming in debt and living in an Airbnb before the surprise smash reversed his personal fortunes. Full story.

    Average movie ticket price soars: $8.97. That's the number that the average movie ticket reached in 2017, an increase of 3.68 percent, reports the National Association of Theater Owners. Still, total domestic box office in North America dropped 2.55 percent to $11.091 billion.

    AARP's Movies for Grownups awards: The Post leads the way, a win for the film after being shut out of the WGA and DGA nominations. The ceremony, hosted by Alan Cumming, will take place Feb. 5 in L.A. and for the first time be broadcast, airing Feb. 23 on PBS. See the full list of nominees.

    ^Bleecker Street CEO on Sundance after Weinstein and the future of indie films: "The good news is more people are seeing independent film than ever before," says Andrew Karpen. "The difficult part is there's so much content out there that connecting the content with audiences and having them see a film, whether it's in a theater or streaming, is changing." Read more.

    Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer reunite for new film: The Help duo Chastain and Spencer are teaming up for an untitled holiday comedy at Universal. The project, described as in the vein of Planes, Trains and Automobiles, was nabbed in a bidding war that also included Fox and Paramount.

    Pixar's Darla K. Anderson set to receive the Harold Lloyd Award: The Coco producer will be honored at the Advanced Imaging Society's annual Lumiere Awards Feb. 12 at Warner Bros.' Stephen J. Ross Theater.

  • CBS Drama?

    Getty Images

    Shari Redstone is reportedly pushing for a new board at CBS, Paul Bond writes:

    If the board of directors at CBS isn't keen on merging the company with Viacom, then some of the directors apparently need to be replaced. At least that's what Shari Redstone might be advocating, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

    Redstone and her family control both Viacom and CBS through their large stake in National Amusements, and insiders say she's been getting serious about her desire to see the two media companies combined again, as they were prior to splitting Viacom in two back in 2005. CBS CEO Les Moonves and some others on the board, though, have been resisting, and CBS investors appear to be siding with them. Read more.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Katie Couric to co-host NBC Winter Olympics opening ceremony: The erstwhile Today show anchor will be joined by NBC Sports anchor Mike Tirico for the festivities. This won't be her first: She's previously presided over the Opening Ceremonies at Sydney, Salt Lake City and Athens.

    Justin Timberlake revisits Super Bowl gaffe: "I had my wires crossed, and it’s just something that you have to look back on and go, like, OK, well, you know, you can’t change what’s happened, but you can move forward and learn from it," Timberlake said.

    Kevin Hart, Fergie and Pharrell Williams will headline the NBA All-Star Game: Hart will be the opening act at the Feb. 18 Staples Center game and introduce the players, Fergie will sing the national anthem and Williams and his band N.E.R.D. will play at halftime. 

    The Fake News Awards: They happened last night, but only online — and if that. The site crashed shortly after they went live, but the results were revealed nonetheless: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman came in first, followed by ABC News' Brian Ross and CNN's Manu Raju.

    ^The feud between Ashleigh Banfield and the Aziz Ansari story reporter escalates: On her show Crime & Justice yesterday, the HLN anchor shared a letter that Babe.net reporter Katie Way sent to a show producer that disparaged Banfield. She read an excerpt: "Ashleigh, someone who I'm certain no one under the age of 45 has ever heard of … I hope the 500 retweets on a single news writeup made that burgundy lipstick, bad highlights, second-wave feminist has-been really relevant for a little while." The email.

    Amazon cancels One Mississippi, I Love Dick and Jean-Claude Van Johnson. All three canceled comedies had been picked up under ousted executives Roy Price and Joe Lewis.

    The Tick survives: Amazon did pick up the superhero comedy for a 10-episode second season to premiere in 2019.

    Apple lands Kristen Wiig comedy from Reese Witherspoon: The untitled ten-episode series, inspired by Curtis Sittenfeld's upcoming short-story collection You Think It, I'll Say It and produced by Witherspoon's Hello Sunshine banner, marks Apple's first scripted comedy pickup. Colleen McGuinness (30 Rock) created the series and serves as showrunner, while Sittenfeld will be a consulting producer.

    + Reese's List: On top of this, Witherspoon also has a Jennifer Aniston drama at Apple, two book-to-movie adaptations and, of course, HBO's Big Little Lies, which will return for a second season.

    Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury will become a TV series: Endeavor Content has purchased film and television rights to the best-selling book, with plans to adapt it into a TV series. The deal is said to be in the seven-figure range; no network is attached yet.

    + Casting Fire and Fury: Nicolas Cage as Donald? Timothée Chalamet as Jared? Katherine Heigl as Ivanka? Cast recommendations.

    Damon Lindelof inks new overall deal with Warner Bros. TV: The prolific producer, currently working on HBO's Watchmen, has signed a sizable new overall deal with the studio. The pact will keep the Leftovers creator there for an extended period of time as the exclusive deal covers multiple years.

    CBS All Access taps Rupert Friend for new drama: The actor joins the cast of Strange Angel, marking his first follow-up role to Showtime’s Homeland. He joins lead Jack Reynor in the new series, which doesn’t have an official premiere date yet.

    Who Wants to Be a Millionaire forever: The game show, currently hosted by The Bachelor's Chris Harrison, has been renewed for a 17th season on ABC-owned stations. Fun fact: Since its syndication debut in 2002, the show has given out more than $95 million to contestants.

    Lena Waithe heads to This Is Us: Waithe, creator of The Chi and Emmy winner from Master of None, will be a guest star in a pet-adoption storyline for next week's episode.

    CW's Black Lightning debuts strong: The premiere pulled in a promising 0.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 2.3 million viewers, quite sound by CW standards.

    ► ABC moves: ABC comedy exec Lynn Barrie is moving over to Freeform and will serve as senior vp original programming and development, reporting to executive vp programming and development Karey Burke.

    + CBS Digital shuffle: Christy Tanner has been promoted to executive vp and GM of CBS News Digital.

  • Sharing Salaries

    Illustration by: Jenn Liv

    Amid the #MeToo movement, women are chipping away at studio leverage and a longtime taboo by talking openly about their pay. Tatiana Siegel writes:

    In the past, it would have been a major faux pas for one actress to publicly comment on another's salary as Jessica Chastain did with Michelle Williams, and even more so if it has yet to be published. But that's what happened thanks to a recent Time's Up meeting. According to a source who attended, the Wahlberg-Williams discrepancy was discussed at length, as was Tracee Ellis Ross getting paid significantly less than her Black-ish co-star Anthony Anderson.

    With negotiations for the fifth season ongoing, sources say Ellis Ross feels that if she isn't brought up to Anderson's level, she may opt to appear in fewer episodes to make up the disparity by guesting on another show. The tactic has split opinions within Time's Up, with some worried that it's more a retreat than a forward-looking solution. Full story.

    + How a new ban on asking about salary history could help (and hurt) women: Touted as a boost for gender parity, a new California law may empower female execs but could hamper talent deals. Read more.

    + Ways women in Hollywood can negotiate a better deal. "The best deals are gotten when there's a willingness to walk away," says a top talent rep about fighting the gender pay gap. Read more.


    Amazon releases shortlist of cities for second headquarters: Los Angeles was the only West Coast city to make the cut, while New York, Chicago, Austin and Toronto are also in the running. See the list.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Does Three Billboards say anything about America? Well..." Wesley Morris writes: "What’s got people arguing is whether the movie is convincingly about America (Ebbing is as real a place as Narnia) and whether this movie about America ought to be, say, redeeming one of the racist cops serving and protecting Ebbing. " [New York Times]

    — "A requiem for Spike TV." Darren Franich writes: "When you consider the network’s (lack of) legacy, you have to remember that “manhood” – as an identity self-aware enough for capitalism to sell – was in a strange place circa 2003." [EW]

    — "The true story of the Versace mansion." Katey Rich writes: "Built by a possibly closeted oil heir, and almost owned by Donald Trump, the Casa Casuarina has a history nearly as colorful as that of the man who made it famous." [Vanity Fair]

    — "2018 will be the year Hollywood stopped (only) catering to white men. Marc Bernardin writes: "This year will deliver Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, Ocean's 8, and Crazy Rich Asians — studio movies catering to historically underserved audiences, many of which are written and directed by members of those same audiences." [Syfy Wire]

    — "How TV changed our definition of 'housewife.'" Kathryn VanArendonk writes: "The idea for the Real Housewives came out of an idea not that far removed from the original June Cleaver version: After the success of the Laguna Beach reality show which focused on teens, there was an idea that a show about wealthy, infighting mothers might be a hit." [Vulture]

    — "Every time Portlandia has perfectly defined trendy food culture. Chris Fuhrmeister revisits the show's best culinary satire, from bacon to alternative milks. [Eater]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on finding Today success after Matt Lauer." [Tonight Show]

    + "Ricky Gervais: Hosting the 2018 Golden Globes would've ended my career." [Late Show]

    + "Lena Waithe popped the question in Japan. [Late Late Show]

    + "Ballers actor John David Washington on being faithful, Rihanna's Instagram and more." [THR]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Rachel Brosnahan." The newly minted Golden Globe winner reflects on a childhood divided between acting and wrestling, her turn on House of Cards and landing the role of a lifetime on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. [Awards Chatter / THR]

    + "Dee Rees." The director discusses her "unintentionally autobiographical" film Mudbound. [The Treatment / KCRW]

    + "Where's the money in online comedy?" A conversation with Jibjab CEO Gregg Spiridellis. [Recode Decode]

    Today's Birthdays: Joanna Newsom, 36, Jason Segel, 38, Dave Bautista, 49, David Ayer, 50, Dave Attell, 53, Mark Rylance, 58, Kevin Costner, 63.