What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:30 AM 11/28/2017

by Ray Rahman

2018 Grammy noms split - H
Getty Images

What's news: Tons of awards-season developments, including the newly unveiled Grammy noms and the big film winners from last night's Gotham Awards. Plus: Michael Wolff on the "Death Star theory" driving media mergers, CBS cancels Jeremy Piven's freshman series and early critical reaction to Steven Spielberg's The Post. — Ray Rahman

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Jay-Z leads the 2018 Grammys pack. The rapper and Beyoncé spouse received nods in eight categories, including record and song of the year. Kendrick Lamar and Bruno Mars also came up big, with seven and six nominations respectively. The James Corden-hosted ceremony will air Jan. 28 on CBS. See the full list of nominees.

+ Hip-hop and R&B finally complete Grammys takeover. Legitimate change is finally underway at the Grammys: "The major categories are dominated by rap and R&B and the night's big showdown falls to Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z — two of the industry’s titans, neither of whom have ever won in a major Grammy category," writes Billboard's Andrew Unterberger. Full analysis.

+ Snubs and surprises: The Grammy noms brought great news for Donald Glover but weren't as kind to the likes of Ed Sheeran or Lady Gaga. Read more.

  • Gotham's Winners

    The awards, handed out at a John Cameron Mitchell-hosted ceremony at New York's Cipriani Wall Street last night, added some heat to the Oscar race, writes Hilary Lewis:

    Jordan Peele's Get Out, which went into the show with a leading four nominations, was the night's big winner, with three wins including best screenplay and the audience award. Call Me by Your Name, the story of a gay romance between a 17-year-old and a 24-year-old grad student, also had a big night and took home the best feature honor.

    Meanwhile, Dee Rees' Mudbound earned two trophies, including a special jury award for ensemble performance, and the night's big solo performance awards went to James Franco for The Disaster Artist and Saorise Ronan for Lady Bird.

    On the TV side, the Gothams, which only started recognizing small-screen fare two years ago, handed Atlanta an award for its breakthrough series – longform award. Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Lady Bird makes Rotten Tomatoes history. The review aggregator announced that the Greta Gerwig film has a 100 percent score after 170 reviews — a record, beating 1999's Toy Story 2, which boasted 100 percent based on 163 reviews. 

    What does the future of Marvel look like? To hear Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige tell it in Vanity Fair’s new cover story, the post-Avengers 4 Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to be a very different place, with new characters taking the place of existing favorites. Will the studio truly be able to stay away from its marquee names in the long term? Graeme McMillan breaks it all down.

    ^Reactions to Steven Spielberg's The Post are pouring in. The Pentagon Papers film, starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep as the Washington Post editor and publisher, respectively, is thought to be a leading Oscar candidate. And while the review embargo doesn't lift until Dec. 6, critics were allowed to give their opinions on social media Monday night. Opinions like:

    + "It's the best Streep in ages" — Alyssa Wilkinson, Vox

    + "The Post is fantastic, it'll probably win a bunch of Oscars, it's Meryl's best performance since Devil Wears Prada." — David Sims, The Atlantic.

    + "I pretty much loved The Post. Streep: Her best perf in years. Hanks: Delightfully irascible." — Adam B. Vary, BuzzFeed.

    + "The best Spielberg movie since Munich." — David Ehrlich, Indiewire. More reactions.

    ? Harvey Weinstein's first civil suit over sexual harassment filed in U.K. The claim has been made against Weinstein, alongside the The Weinstein Co. and The Weinstein Co. U.K. The disgraced producer was also accused of sex trafficking in a law suit filed in New York. Weinstein resigned from the Directors Guild of America on Monday.

    ? WME's Adam Venit returned to work after his suspension over Terry Crews groping claim. The agent had been disciplined in late October over a February 2016 incident in which he allegedly grabbed agency client Crews' genitals. Crews didn’t seem happy about Venit's return: “SOMEONE GOT A PASS,” the actor wrote on Twitter.

  • CBS Axes Piven's 'Wisdom'

    Jeremy Piven's Wisdom of the Crowd is done after 13 episodes on CBS. The news comes as the network is "looking into" the actor following sexual harassment allegations, writes Lesley Goldberg: 

    The decision to conclude the drama, which stars Piven as a tech innovator who creates a crowd-sourcing hub to revolutionize crime solving in San Francisco, comes as CBS had been "looking into" the actor following allegations of sexual harassment. Actress Ariane Bellamar accused Piven of groping her while the duo were on HBO's Entourage. Other women have since come forward with similar allegations against the actor, who called the claims "absolutely false and completely fabricated."

    Many will be quick to blame the likely cancellation on Piven's current predicament, but the fact of the matter is that the show never really performed for the network. Wisdom of the Crowd was mediocre out of the gate, and even Sundays, where CBS had late-running football coverage, couldn't really lift the drama. The series ranks as the least-watched series on CBS' Sunday lineup, narrowly trailing Madam Secretary — which has critical favor and an affluent audience in its corner. Full story.

    + CBS also announced some more positive news: The network's sophomore sitcoms Man With a Plan and Superior Donuts both scored full-season orders. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? CNN gives Van Jones his own show. Titled The Van Jones Show, the new hourlong primetime program will be taped in front of a live studio audience and air twice a month. It's slated to debut in January. 

    ? SNL announces December schedule. The sketch series will close out the year with James Franco and musical guest SZA on Dec. 9 and Kevin Hart and the Foo Fighers on Dec. 16.

    ? Fergie tapped to host Fox singing competition The Four. The final piece seems to be in place for Fox’s new upcoming singing competition, with Fergie set to host. She joins the previously set panel of Sean "Diddy" Combs, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and Charlie Walk.

    ^Everything we know about Black Mirror season 4. As 2017 comes to a close and the  Black Mirror season four release date approaches, the streamer is dropping season four breadcrumbs about each of the new episodes, writes Jackie Strause. Read more.

    ? Courtney B. Vance to star in, produce new crime drama for FX. The Emmy-winning actor is set to star in and executive produce the crime drama Heist 88 for the cable network. The project will serve as a reunion for the People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story star with director and executive producer Anthony Hemingway.

    + Set in 1988, the series tells the true story of arch-criminal and master manipulator Armand Moore (Vance), who persuaded four young African-American employees of First National Bank of Chicago to steal $70 million via a sophisticated take down of the banking wire system.

    ? Jersey Shore is coming back to MTV. It's the return of GTL: MTV announced that original cast members Pauly D, JWoww, Vinny, Ronnie, Snooki and The Situation will come back to the network for a revival series titled Jersey Shore Family Vacation.

    ? Marvelous Mrs. Maisel creators talk long-term plan, Amazon turnover and more Gilmore Girls. Married team Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino also discussed the surprising inspiration behind the Amazon period dramedy and why they wanted to do a series for streaming. Q&A.

  • Scale Wars

    Disney's bid for Fox and AT&T's push for Time Warner reveal a Death Star theory of media — scale for scale's sake — but what if bigger isn't always better? Michael Wolff writes:

    When you buy a lot of junk, you increase your chances of also buying gold. AT&T wants Time Warner because of HBO and therefore can somehow feel good about the declining fortunes of the Turner networks and the Warner Bros. studio. Twenty-First Century Fox now appears to be on the market with most of its cable group, film and television studio and international interests.

    The thesis here is that in the search for scale, there is, on top of basic or necessary scale, “premium scale.” In this premise, AT&T — looking to compete with both Comcast, the leading cable system, and with the fast-emerging digital platforms, led by Netflix, and to eclipse other telco competitors — buys one of the pillar content companies. Likewise, Fox becomes a target for Disney or Comcast. This is the Death Star theory of media. Full column.

    + AT&T and Time Warner extend deal deadline to April. AT&T and Time Warner have further pushed back the termination date for their planned $85.4 billion deal following the Department of Justice's decision to file a lawsuit to block it. The telecom giant reiterates it is "confident" that a court will reject the DoJ's legal challenge.

    Programming note... 

    + Prolific television creator, entrepreneur and activist Shonda Rhimes has been named guest editor of the annual THR Women in Entertainment issue. Details. 

    What else we're reading...

    — "How far will Sean Hannity go?" Matthew Shaer's cover story: "The Fox News host is willing to defend Trump at all costs — and is reaching more than 13 million people a day." [New York Times Magazine]

    — "The state of broadcast TV's superheroes." Darren Franich writes: "Cards on the table: I gave up on most of them years ago, but not because they were bad." [EW]

    — "How Funny or Die plans to conquer TV comedy." KC Ifeanyi writes: "Funny or Die is doubling down on long-form content with shows like American Vandal, but it won’t abandon the web videos that made the company’s name." [Fast Company]

    — "Why can't This Is Us tell good stories about characters other than Randall?" Todd VanDerWerff writes: "Randall’s side of the show is everything family dramas can and should be. And then there’s the rest of This Is Us, which is often good, occasionally bad, and almost always just kinda there." [Vox]

    — "The tricks Pixar used to make Coco's super slick skeletons." Mika McKinnon writes: "Like the toys, monsters, and robots Pixar has dreamed up before, the bags of bones are awfully charismatic. Unlike those creations, their phalanges took a little more finagling to get right." [Wired]

    — "Kehinde Wiley on painting the powerless. And a president." Farah Nayeri writes: "The painter of Barack Obama’s National Gallery portrait talks about representing young black men — and the man who was once the most powerful in the world." [New York Times]

    — "Betting big on mobile augmented-reality games." Cat Zakrewski writes: "The maker of the hit augmented-reality game Pokémon Go has raised about $200 million in new financing." [Wall Street Journal]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Ice T reflects on 19 years of Law & Order: SVU." [Late Night]

    + "Martin Short explains how Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving." [Tonight Show]

    + "Was Trump's Access Hollywood tape fake news?" [Opposition]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "From Black-ish, Jenifer Lewis: The Mother of Black Hollywood." [It's Been a Minute / NPR]

    + "About that Nazi next door." [On the Media / WNYC

    + "Patton Oswalt: Falling in love again was like 'getting hit my lightning twice.'" [Fresh Air / NPR]

    Today's Birthdays: Karen Gillan, 30, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 33, Armando Iannucci, 54, Jon Stewart, 55, Martin Clunes, 56, Alfonso Cuaron, 56, Judd Nelson, 58, Ed Harris, 67, Paul Shaffer, 68, Randy Newman, 74.