What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:19 AM 1/29/2018

by Ray Rahman

kendrick lamar and kesha_Performing_Grammys_Split - Getty - H 2018
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

What's news: The Grammys telecast takes a ratings dive. Plus: Sundance hands out its best-in-show awards, Jay-Z sparks a feud with Donald Trump on CNN and Omarosa heads to a new reality show. — Ray Rahman

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  • Sundance Winners

    This weekend saw the Sundance Film Festival come to an end — but not before some awards were given out, writes Gregg Kilday:

    The Miseducation of Cameron Post, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and set in a gay conversion therapy center that tries to turn several young lesbians straight, claimed the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Award at the Jason Mantzoukas-hosted awards ceremony Saturday night.

    The Documentary Grand Jury Award was presented to Derek Doneen's Kailash, while Audience Award winners included the dramatic feature Burden, writer-director Andrew Heckler's film starring Garrett Hedlund about a Klansman; and the documentary The Sentence, whose director Rudy Valdez recounts the case of his sister, who received a 15-year mandatory sentence for a crime in which she was only tangentially involved. Read more.

    + Critical consensus: This year's edition struggled to measure up to last year's, but provided proof of the festival's commitment to diversity — with many of the strongest, most provocative movies directed by or revolving around women. Read our critics' chat here.

    + HBO's deals: The networked picked up the controversial Israel-Palestine doc Oslo Diaries as well as the prizewinning feature doc The Sentence (see above).

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Weekend box office: Maze Runner: The Death Cure topped the box office in its domestic debut, unseating Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle with $23.5 million to Jumanji's $16.4M. Hostiles placed at No. 3 with $12.1M. Read more.

    + Oscar bump: The Shape of Water, nominated for 13 Oscars, took in $5.7 million, by far its strongest weekend to date (it shot up 160 percent from the previous weekend).

    ? Three Billboards tops London Critics' Circle Awards: Martin McDonagh's Oscar contender won three awards — film of the year, actress of the year (for Frances McDormand) and scriptwriter of the year (McDonagh). The night's other key winners included Timothee Chalamet, Sean Baker and Dunkirk (for British/Irish film of the year). See the full list.

    ? Art Directors Guild winners: Blade Runner 2049, Logan and Shape of Water topped the live-action feature categories, while Coco won the inaugural ADG Award for an animated feature. See the full list.

    ^Oscar pros and cons: What does each best picture nominee have going for and against it? Gregg Kilday lays it all out:

    DARKEST HOUR Strengths: It speaks with a properly stiff upper lip to those Anglophiles wanting another Winston Churchill fix. It scored eight BAFTA noms, and Oldman already has picked up a Globe and a SAG. Weaknesses: Joe Wright was snubbed by the directors, and it also failed to secure a film editing nom, which usually accompanies a best picture winner.

    GET OUT Strengths: By design, it's a horror-movie version of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner that speaks to current racial anxieties. Directing nominee Jordan Peele won the Stanley Kramer Award at the PGA Awards, and the film won an Audience Award at the Gothams. Weaknesses: There's still that horror-film stigma to overcome, since the only horror movie that has won best picture laurels is 1991's The Silence of the Lambs. See the full list.

    ? Actor roundtable: The full THR actor roundtable conversation with Tom Hanks, Sam Rockwell, John Boyega and more aired on SundanceTV. Watch it here.

    Rep Sheet Roundup: Dee Rees has signed with Anonymous Content for commercial representation.… The Deuce’s Dominique Fishback, star of the Sundance drama Night Comes On, has signed with UTA, as has Lenny Kravitz.… Stand-up comic Bill Burr has signed with WME in all areas.… ICM Partners has acquired D.C.-based literary firm The Sagalyn Agency. More here.

  • Jay-Z vs. Trump

    When the musician sat down with Van Jones for the premiere episode of the CNN host's new show, he had a lot to say about the current president. Patrick Shanley writes:

    “It is disappointing and it’s hurtful," Jay-Z said of Trump's infamous "shithole" comments. "Everyone feels anger, but after the anger, it’s real hurtful. Because it’s looking down at a whole population of people, and it’s so misinformed.... This is the leader of the free world speaking like this...somewhere along his lineage something happened to him. Something happened to him, and he is expressing it in this sort of way.”

    Jones asked Jay-Z whether Trump's claims about "dropping black unemployment" might make him a good leader. "No, because it’s not about money at the end of the day," the rapper responded. "Money doesn't equate to happiness. You treat people like human beings. That's the main point." Read more.

    + Trump's response: "Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!" the president tweeted Sunday morning.

    + Kendrick Lamar's two cents: "Jay-Z for president!" the rapper said as he accepted an award at last night's Grammys.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Charles in Charge star Nicole Eggert claims Scott Baio molested her as a minor: In a series of tweets Saturday morning, Eggert described herself as a "molested child" and said that she was 14, 15, 16 and 17 when the alleged incidents occurred.

    Baio defends himself: "Nicole Eggert has been claiming I had sex with her before she was 18 at least since 2013. She is provably wrong, and because we have been telling her that since last year without results, our only conclusion is that she is deliberately lying." Full story.

    ? Three more women accuse Jeremy Piven of sexual misconduct: In the story published by BuzzFeed, one background actor said Piven forcefully pinned her down on a couch after following her to her trailer, another said Piven became physically aggressive with her during an intimate encounter, and a third woman said the actor pushed her against a wall and tried to force her to engage in sexual intercourse. Read more.

    ? Alec Baldwin compares Dylan Farrow to To Kill a Mockingbird character: "[One] of the most effective things Dylan Farrow has in her arsenal is the 'persistence of emotion,'" Baldwin tweeted. "Like Mayella in [To Kill a Mockingbird], her tears/exhortations [are] meant [to] shame u [into] belief in her story. But I need more than that before I destroy [someone], regardless of their fame. I need a lot more."

    + That's not all: Baldwin went on to say: "To say that @RealDylanFarrow is telling the truth is to say that (brother) @MosesFarrow is lying. Which of Mia’s kids got the honesty gene and which did not?" and "If my defense of Woody Allen offends you, it’s real simple. Unfollow. Condemn. Move on."

    + Speaking of Woody Allen... After winning an award in London, Wonder Wheel star Kate Winslet said she had "bitter regrets" over the "poor decisions" she had made to work with certain filmmakers. "It has become clear to me that by not saying anything, I might be adding to the anguish of many courageous women and men," Winslet said. "Sexual abuse is a crime." She never named names, however.

    ? "People are desperate for this kind of storytelling about the female heroes": Reese Witherspoon gives the New York Times an inside look at her production company Hello Sunshine, which has struck huge deals with Apple and HBO. "I thought about my mom, who said, ‘If you want something done, do it yourself,’” she says. “You can sit there and complain about it, or you can do something about it."

    ^Omarosa goes to Celebrity Big Brother: That's right, the former Trump administration official and Celebrity Apprentice star will return to reality TV via the CBS franchise. What, if anything, will she say about Trump on the show?

    + The rest of the cast: Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie), Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray), Keshia Knight Pulliam (The Cosby Show) and more. See the full list.

    ? Trump talks to Piers Morgan: During the president's first international TV interview, the old Celebrity Apprentice friends talked burgers, Michael Wolff's "fake book" and why climate change isn't really happening at all (the ice caps are at a "record level," apparently). Read more.

    ? Bravo orders Dirty John anthology series: The network gave a two-season, straight-to-series order for a scripted drama anthology based on the Los Angeles Times' investigative feature and corresponding podcast.

    Power Lawyers is back! Do you know a Power Lawyer? The Hollywood Reporter's 12th annual issue spotlighting the best entertainment attorneys in the country will publish April 4 — and nominations are now open. Submissions are due by March 1. Find out more here.

  • Grammys Fashion

    Last night's Grammys saw fashion with meaning, writes Booth Moore:

    At the Grammys, fashion roared back to the red carpet, from Lady Gaga’s dramatic black lace Armani Prive jumpsuit and ball skirt, to Elton John’s spangled, sequined Gucci jacket, to Cardi B's angel-winged white gown.

    And yet, the biggest style statements weren’t on the carpet — they were on the stage. Kesha, Camila Cabello and others made a powerful show of support for the Time’s Up movement, dressing in all-white and singing “Praying.” The sartorial show of solidarity echoed the all-black wardrobe worn by Hollywood stars at the Golden Globes earlier this month. Read more.

    + The Grammys, reviewed. Inkoo Kang's takeaway: "Kesha's performance and Hillary Clinton's cameo were the highlights of Sunday's too-long, and thematically disjointed, award ceremony." Full review.

    + The ratings: The show took a steep ratings dive, according to early numbers. The show was off an unfortunate 21 percent from 2017 in early numbers; overnight returns from Nielsen Media give it a 12.7 rating among households — marking its biggest drop since 2013, the year after the show swelled following the death of Whitney Houston. Read more.

    + Where was Lorde? That was the question many were asking last night, since she was the only woman nominated for album of the year and yet didn't perform.

    Grammys executive producer Ken Ehrlich offered this explanation: "These shows are always a matter of choices, and we know we have a box and the box gets full and filled up...there's no way we can really deal with everybody. Sometimes people get left out that shouldn't, but on the other hand, we did the best we can to make sure that it's a representative and balanced show."

    In other news...

    ? L.A. Times shakeup: Per NPR: "Lewis D'Vorkin, the embattled editor in chief of The Los Angeles Times, is being replaced by veteran Chicago journalist Jim Kirk in a dramatic shakeup at the newspaper that follows weeks of tumult in the newsroom."

    What else we're reading...

    — "We will remember Kesha long after we forget the 2018 Grammys." Lindsay Zoladz writes: "The Grammys went long and felt out of step with the times, largely ignoring female artists. But one transcendent performance from Kesha, and a few of her famous friends, will resonate for years to come." [The Ringer]

    — "NBC's most beloved anchors aren't on TV, they're on Snapchat." Taylor Lorenz writes: "There’s an NBC anchor named Savannah who has a hard time going out without being recognized by teens. It’s not the Savannah who hosts the Today show." [Daily Beast]

    — "NBC Sports is about to make $1.4 billion in 22 days thanks to the Super Bowl and Winter Olympics." Jason Lynch writes: "Two years of aggressive strategy pays off for its ad sales team." [Adweek]

    — "Inside Jeffrey Katzenberg's billion-dollar bet to crack the code on mobile video." Sahil Patel writes: "Katzenberg’s pitch, according to multiple sources, is that previous attempts didn’t go far and big enough." [Digiday]

    — "The follower factory." A team of reporters goes inside "social media's black market," writing: "Despite rising criticism of social media companies and growing scrutiny by elected officials, the trade in fake followers has remained largely opaque." [The New York Times]

    — "The rare convincing teen romance." Emily Nussbaum writes: "The Netflix series The End of the F***ing World shows how young people take risks because they don’t know what they want, other than for something major to happen." [New Yorker]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "The 2018 Grammys." The NPR culture crew talks about last night. [Pop Culture Happy Hour / NPR]

    + "Rita Moreno." The showbiz legend enters Maron's garage. [WTF With Marc Maron]

    + "Chuck Todd: Interview." Kara Swisher interviews the Meet the Press host. [Recode Decode]

    What's happening this week...

    Tuesday: Trump delivers his first State of the Union address.... Citizen Rose debuts on E! 

    Friday: Winchester hits theaters nationwide.... Altered Carbon debuts on Netflix.... #MeToo, Now What? premieres on PBS.... 2 Dope Queens premieres on HBO.

    Today's Birthdays: Justin Hartley, 41, Sara Gilbert, 43, Heather Graham, 48, Ed Burns, 50, Oprah Winfrey, 64, Tom Selleck, 73.