What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:20 AM 1/23/2018

by Ray Rahman

Oscars Statues - Getty - H 2017
By Kristian Dowling/Getty Images.

What's news: Oscar nominations have been revealed, and there's a few surprises. Plus: Netflix touts blockbuster numbers, more news and deals out of Sundance, Rupert Murdoch has a suggestion for Facebook and Steve Capus is out at CBS Evening News. — Ray Rahman

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  • Oscar Nominees Are...

    They're finally here! Let the parsing begin...

    Best Picture nominees: Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Dunkirk, Get Out, Lady Bird, Phantom Thread, The Post, The Shape of WaterThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

    Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, Guillermo del Toro, Greta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan, Jordan Peele.

    Actress: Sally Hawkins, Frances McDormand, Margot Robbie, Saoirse Ronan, Meryl Streep.

    Actor: Timothée Chalamet, Daniel Day-Lewis, Daniel Kaluuya, Gary Oldman, Denzel Washington.

    By the numbers: Shape of Water leads all contenders with 13 total nominations, while the likes of Dunkirk (8), Three Billboards (7) and Phantom Thread (6) also posted strong showings. Meanwhile, Lady Bird nabbed 5 and Get Out managed 4 noms. Full nominations list.

    The narrative: Gregg Kilday writes: "The Academy embraced outsiders with the nominations it announced today for the 90th Oscars as it lavished 13 nominations on Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, a romantic fantasy in which a mute woman, a black cleaning lady and a gay man join forces to save a mysterious sea creature from ominous government forces." Read more. 

    #OscarsSoWhite not as much: Four black actors were included in the acting categories — Daniel Kaluuya, Denzel Washington, Mary J. Blige and Octavia Spencer. This year's directing nominations were especially diverse, with Guillermo del Toro, Jordan Peele and Greta Gerwig — only the fifth ever woman to be nominated — all in the running. Read more.

    Lots of firsts, surprises and snubs: 

    + James Franco shut out after sexual misconduct claims. Thought to be at least nominated, the accused Disaster Artist star and director was left out of the nominations. 

    + Snubs: No Florida Project for best picture? No love for Armie Hammer or the ubiquitous Michael Stuhlbarg? And Martin McDonagh left out of the directing category? Also noteworthy: No Steven Spielberg or Wonder WomanSee all the snubs here. 

    + Firsts and surprises: Denzel Washington slipped into the best actor race for Roman J. Israel, Esq. Rachel Morrison (Mudbound) became the first woman to be nominated in the cinematographer category. Kobe Bryant is an Oscar nominee. And Logan became the first ever live-action superhero movie to be nominated for best adapted screenplay.

    In Sundance news...

    ? Terry Crews talks sexual assault: “I was prepared to go it all the way alone because that’s what women have normally gone through,” he said at the festival, adding: "By talking about it, you free other people — that was my whole goal.”

    ? Sony Worldwide grabs nabs John Cho-Debra Messing thriller Search. A source pegged the worldwide rights deal at $5 million for the Aneesh Chaganty-directed film.

    ? Neon nabs police shooting drama Monsters and Men. The movie, which made its world premiere on Friday to a strong reception, marks the feature directing debut of Reinaldo Marcus Green.

    Danish thriller The Guilty lands at Magnolia. Directed by Gustav Moller, the film centers on an alarm dispatcher who answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman, but the call is suddenly disconnected, setting in motion the search for her.

    ? Starz scores Steve James' America to Me: The premium cable network picked up the unscripted 10-part docuseries from Hoop Dreams director Steve James.

    ? Reviews: Ophelia, a reshaping of Hamlet starring Daisy Ridley and Naomi Watts ... Beirut, featuring Jon Hamm and Rosamund Pike as foreign-service officers trying to rescue a colleague ... Studio 54, a doc charting the rise and fall of the famed disco ... The Miseducation of Cameron Post, the Desiree Akhavan-directed comedy-drama starring Chloe Grace Moretz as a teenager sent to a Christian conversion camp to cure her of her lesbian tendencies.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Specialty box office: Darkest Hour slides by Big Sick, Lady Bird. Sometime today or tomorrow, the Winston Churchill film will pass 2017 indie hits Big Sick ($42.9M) and Lady Bird ($39.1M) to become the most successful specialty release of the past year after galvanizing older moviegoers. 

    ^Disney's Incredibles 2 reveals new cast, character details: The newcomers: Better Call Saul's Jonathan Banks as Rick Dicker, a government leader who helps the Parr family keep their superhero identities secret, and Sophia Bush as Voyd, a young Elastigirl fan who aspires to be a superhero and has the power of creating voids.

    + Other new details: Previously cast actors Bob Odenkirk and Catherine Keener will be playing a brother-sister duo who lead a telecommunications company.

    ? Ryan Reynolds signs first-look deal with Fox. The studio has signed a three-year first-look deal with the star and producer behind Fox's Deadpool movies.

    + The first project our of the gate: Clue. The live-action feature will be written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who penned Deadpool.

    ? John Cena is gonna Duke Nukem: The actor is in talks to star in a big-screen adaptation of the popular video game franchise, which follows a politically incorrect action hero of the same name. The movie is set up at Paramount and will be produced by Platinum Dunes. 

    ? Motley Crue movie finds its rock stars: The metal-band biopic The Dirt is in talks for Game of Thrones' Iwan Rheon and The Punisher's Daniel Webber to play guitarist Mick Mars and frontman Vince Neil. They'd join Douglas Booth (as Nikki Sixx) and Machine Gun Kelly (Tommy Lee).

    Brett Ratner defends defamation lawsuit against accuser. "This case is very simple," Ratner's attorney wrote in a filing on Monday. "Defendant publicly accused Mr. Ratner of raping her — an allegation which he vehemently denies. As a result, Mr. Ratner filed this lawsuit against Defendant for defamation based on her false accusation of rape." Full story.


  • Netflix's Big Quarter

    The company released its Q4 earnings, and the news was very good, writes Natalie Jarvey: 

    Netflix reported Monday that during the fourth quarter it grew revenue by nearly 33 percent to $3.29 billion. 

    The streamer continued to add new subscribers, too: 8.33 million new members total during the period, including 1.98 million additions in the U.S. That's a growth of 25 percent year over year. All told, the company now has more than 117 million total members worldwide and more than 110 million paid members. Read more.

    + The lost $39 million: The earnings report also revealed that Netflix took an "unexpected" charge "for unreleased content we've decided not to move forward with" — a.k.a., Kevin Spacey content such as House of Cards and his scrapped Gore Vidal biopic.

    + What about BrightNetflix said the Will Smith sci-fi film was one of the most-viewed original titles on the platform, despite having only a 27 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Asked about the movie's bad reviews during a call with investors, CEO Reed Hastings said "critics can be pretty disconnected from the mass appeal."

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Steve Capus out at CBS Evening News. The transition comes as Jeff Glor recently assumed the anchor role on the broadcast. It’s the second exec move in as many weeks; last week NBC News said that Don Nash would step down as executive producer of the Today show.

    ? Rupert Murdoch: Facebook should pay for news. The media mogul's idea, boiled down: "If Facebook wants to recognize 'trusted' publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies." Read his full statement.

    ? U.K. regulator says Fox-Sky deal "not in public interest." The preliminary report raised concerns about the influence of the Murdoch family trust, which controls Fox and News Corp, over the U.K. media landscape.

    ? Megyn Kelly blasts Jane Fonda: The beef between Fonda and Kelly began last September, and Kelly upped the ante yesterday when she used Fonda’s actions during the Vietnam War to make her point. “This is a woman whose name is synonymous with outrage,” Kelly said. “Look at her treatment of our military during the Vietnam War." Full story.

    ? Bill Cosby returns to the stage. "I used to be a comedian," he deadpanned during his first public performance since 2015, playing with a jazz band in his hometown of Philadelphia. Read more.

    ? Jake Paul talks brother Logan's suicide forest video: “He did not mean to offend or hurt anybody, or create such a big frustration," Jake said. "And he is honestly, truly, truly sorry.” 

    ^2 Dope Queens, reviewed. "A television expansion of Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson's wildly popular podcast, HBO's 2 Dope Queens plays as nothing less than an extended audition for a talk show or comedy showcase that you're going to be upset isn't airing weekly, or even nightly, in perpetuity," Daniel Fienberg writes. Full review.

    ? Taylor Kitsch talks: The actor discusses the upcoming Waco, misfires like John Carter and the long-rumored Friday Night Lights movie. "I said from day one that I don't want to play him again," he says. "You play a guy for four-plus years, and I feel we dived into it enough and explored that whole thing of not just Riggins but the stories in Dillon." Read more.

    FX sets What We Do in the Shadows pilot. The TV version is based on Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's 2014 mockumentary of the same name. The duo will exec-produce (alongside Scott Rudin and Paul Simms), but with a new cast.

    ? CBS orders three pilots from female writers: Bucking criticism for its lack of inclusion, the network has handed pilot orders to: History of Them, a comedy from One Day at a Time showrunner Gloria Galderon-Kellet; I Mom So Hard, a comedy written by and starring Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley; and the drama Murder, from Amanda Green (Lethal Weapon).

    ? The Mighty Ducks return: The franchise may return to television soon, as sources are saying ABC Studios is currently in early development. No network is attached yet, but the trilogy's original screenwriter Steven Brill will be involved. The only question: Will it be a reboot or a sequel?

    ? Epix revives Mark Burnett's The Contender: The network will bring back Burnett's boxing competition format, making it the fourth network (after NBC, ESPN and Versus) to carry the series after nearly a decade off the air.

    ? Natalie Portman will host SNL. She'll return to the show for the first time in more than a decade on Feb. 3.

  • Media's Trump Trap

    Is "Trump trauma" crippling the news media? In a new book excerpt, Howard Kurtz argues that press misjudgment has upended coverage of?the White House and boosted the president's agenda:

    "Donald Trump is staking his presidency, as he did his election, on nothing less than destroying the credibility of the news media; and the media are determined to do the same to him. This is not just a feud or a fight or a battle. It is scorched-earth warfare in which only one side can achieve victory.

    To a stunning degree, the press is falling into the president's trap. The country's top news organizations have targeted Trump with an unprecedented barrage of negative stories, with some no longer making much attempt to hide their contempt.

    Some stories are legitimate, some are not, and others are generated by the president's own falsehoods and exaggerations. But the mainstream media, subconsciously at first, has lurched into the opposition camp and is appealing to an anti-Trump base of viewers and readers, failing to grasp how deeply it is distrusted by a wide swath of the country." Read more. 

    Excerpted from Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth by Howard Kurtz (Regnery Publishing, Jan. 29), copyright Regnery Publishing.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Netflix original movies to look out for in 2018." Orlando Parfitt highlights "a snapshot of how Netflix has been investing in film for 2018." [Screen Daily]

    — "A #MeToo reckoning is about to hit the Grammys." John Norris writes: "Kesha will perform ‘Praying’ specifically as a nod to #MeToo, the awards show’s producer confirms. Will other artists join her in taking a stand?" [Daily Beast]

    — "The astonishing success of The Greatest Showman." David Sims writes: "And it’s only going to rise; the film is still playing on 2,800 screens and Fox is now promoting 'singalong' screenings with subtitles for the musical numbers." [The Atlantic]

    — "How Russia's hilarious, homoerotic 'Satisfaction' became a meme of solidarity." Masha Gessen writes: "Given Russia’s official and highly politicized homophobia, these parodies are pure protest, raunchy and playful." [New Yorker]

    — "What if a healthier Facebook is just … Instagram?" Kevin Roose writes: "Why doesn’t [Zuckerberg] make his beleaguered blue app more like Instagram, the Facebook-owned app that isn’t destabilizing society?" [New York Times]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Selma Blair is hopeful about the #MeToo movement." [Late Night]

    + "Ann Curry: I learned to cuss in the newsroom." [Late Show]

    + "Zach Galifianakis on Baskets and the Emmys." [Jimmy Kimmel Live]

    + "Rory Culkin worked on "inflating his ego" to prepare for Lords of Chaos." [THR]

    Today's Birthdays: Derek Cianfrance, 44, Norah O'Donnell, 44, Tiffani Thiessen, 44, Mark Boal, 45, Mariska Hargitay, 54.