What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:45 AM 12/13/2017

by Ray Rahman

I, TONYA Still 1 - Margot Robbie - Publicity-H 2017
Courtesy of NEON and 30WEST

What's news: The 2017 SAG Award nominations are here. Plus: Disney-Fox details emerge, trouble for The Conjuring franchise, more Mario Batali fallout and Star Wars: The Last Jedi gets reviewed. — Ray Rahman

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  • 2017 SAG Awards

    This year's SAG Award nominations were announced just moments ago, and the Oscars parsing has already begun. 

    ? In the film category, outstanding female actor in a leading role nominees included: Judi Dench (Victoria & Abdul), Sally Hawkins (The Shape of Water), Frances McDormand (Three Billboards), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya) and Saorise Ronan (Lady Bird). 

    + For outstanding male actor in a leading role, nominees included: Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name), James Franco (The Disaster Artist), Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour) and Denzel Washington (Roman J. Israel, Esq.). 

    + The supporting nominees: Mary J. Blige (Mudbound), Hong Chau (Downsizing), Holly Hunter (The Big Sick), Allison Janney (I, Tonya) and Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird) for female actors; Steve Carell (Last Flag Flying), Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project), Woody Harrelson (Three Billboards), Richard Jenkins (The Shape of Water) and Sam Rockwell (Three Billboards) for the males. 

    + And the full casts nominated: The Big Sick, Get Out, Lady Bird, Mudbound and Three Billboards.

    + Three Billboards was the most nominated film with 4 nominations. Meanwhile, Lady Bird had 3 noms, and Mudbound, Big SickShape of Water and I, Tonya had 2. In a surprise to some, only 1 nomination went to Call Me by Your Name — it was for Chalamet, not Armie Hammer.

    + Snubs: A number of films were left out completely, including surprises like The Post, Greatest Showman and Phantom Thread. See the full list of nominees here.

  • Deal Time

    The New York Times has new details on the Disney-Fox deal, which is expected to happen as soon as Thursday:

    “Under the current contours of the discussions, which could always hit a last-minute snag, Disney would buy the 20th Century Fox movie and television studios; 22 regional cable networks dedicated to sports; Fox’s stake in Hulu; cable networks like FX and National Geographic; and stakes in two behemoth overseas television-service providers, Sky of Britain and Star of India. That would leave Mr. Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox with three properties: Fox News, FS1, and a broadcasting unit formed by the Fox network and local TV stations.”

    “Analysts said that Disney’s two biggest governmental hurdles would most likely involve the regional sports networks, which would add to ESPN’s dominance, and the 20th Century Fox movie studio, which employees 3,200 people and has been controlled by Mr. Murdoch since 1985. Together, Disney and Fox last year controlled about 40 percent of the movie tickets sold in the United States.”

    + Disney's upper hand in the battle against Netflix: “The fact is that Disney is the only company out there that can go toe-to-toe with Netflix, and Star Wars is a huge part of that,” one industry analyst tells the L.A. Times.

    Elsewhere in TV…

    ? Netflix fires exec who told Danny Masterson accuser "we don't believe" rape claims. Andy Yeatman, director of global kids content at Netflix, was let go on Monday over his early December comments, made on the sidelines of a children's soccer game. The Netflix exec is said to have not known that he was speaking to one of the accusers.

    ? Mario Batali fallout: After an Eater exposé reported harassment allegations against the celebrity chef, Batali is now being accused of groping by two former employees. On top of that, a fifth woman — comedian and actress Siobahn Thompson — has come out to accuse Batali of misconduct. 

    + Eataly has removed all Batali products from its shelves. However, the claims appear to have had little impact on the brand's flagship store. Target, meanwhile, is being hit with a petition to drop Batali's products from its store. 

    ^Big Little Lies season 2: David E. Kelly talks. The Emmy-winning creator discusses new material he's received from author Liane Moriarty and addresses the show's initial "limited series" label. "We conceived a limited series and that's what we produced," Kelley says. "It feels more right to me to reclassify going into the future than to go back and redefine what we were." Full Q&A.

    ? And the 2018 Emmys will be on... Monday, Sept. 17 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, a date designed to avoid any interference with Sunday Night Football. The last time the event was held on a Monday was in 2014, which ended up being the second-most-watched Emmys in a decade. 

    ? New SNL head writers are… Weekend Update hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost, who will share the duties with fellow co-head writers Kent Sublette and Bryan Tucker. This is a return for Jost, who served as a head writer in seasons 38-40 — but a first for Che. In fact, it’s a first for the show as a whole — Che will be the SNL’s first ever head writer of color.

    Homeland trailer turns it up: Showtime released a trailer for the show’s seventh season, and it’s noticeably more high-octane and uptempo than the show’s usual mode. Also: the Alex Jones-inspired character Brett O’Keefe seems to return as the chief villain.

    ? In the works: NBC is developing Natural History, a comedy from Chris Hardwick and Futurama’s David X. CohenJill Hennessy and seven other actors joined Kevin Bacon in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Showtime pilot City on a Hill ... Netflix renewed Marvel's The Punisher for a season season. 

    Nick Stoller inks 3-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. The Friends From College creator has brought on Fox Network alum Conor Welch as an exec and producing partner at his newly formed production company Stoller Global Solutions.

    The TV Academy's new rules: There are several of them, including a reorganization of the variety special categories to eliminate the confusion of defining "special class." They are instead now Outstanding Variety Special (Live) and Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded). Details.


  • 'Conjuring' Trouble

    There's a war brewing over The Conjuring, with disturbing claims behind the billion-dollar franchise. A legal spat reveals the real-life demonologists in the $1.2 billion-grossing horror movies may not have been nearly as pious as they're portrayed, write Kim Masters and Ashley Cullins:

    Fans of The Conjuring horror movie franchise will be familiar with the romantic tale of Ed and Lorraine Warren, real-life married demonologists who claimed their Catholic faith helped them fend off the forces of evil. The trailer for the first film sold the movie as "based on the true story of the Warrens," but according to legal filings and recordings obtained by THR, it's possible that even the simple depiction of the Warrens as a devoted and pious couple might have stretched the truth past the breaking point.

    It appears that top studio executives were made aware just weeks after the first film opened in 2013 of allegations that, in the early 1960s, Ed Warren initiated a relationship with an underage girl with Lorraine's knowledge. Now in her 70s, Judith Penney has said in a sworn declaration that she lived in the Warrens' house as Ed's lover for four decades. Read more.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Harvey Weinstein report: The disgraced producer has been accused of sexual harassment by a Hong Kong TV personality, a former aspiring host of the Asian edition of Project Runway

    + On top of that, Bey Logan, a former Hong Kong-based Weinstein Co. vp, was also accused by seven women of sexually inappropriate behavior. 

    ? Roman Polanski development: The LAPD has opened a new investigation into the director based on a woman's claim that Polanski molested her in 1975, when she was 10 years old.  

    Louis C.K.’s I Love You, Daddy leaks online. Perhaps it was inevitable that the movie, shelved after C.K. admitted to misconduct allegations, would find its way online. But the reasoning behind the leak is still interesting: “We think it would be a waste to let a great Louis C.K. go unwatched and nobody can even see or buy it,” the piracy group in question said in a statement.

    ? All the Money in the World: Brooks Barnes details "the race to erase Kevin Spacey" in the New York Times. Snippets:

    + "[Christopher] Plummer was nearer in age to the character, making it possible to forego the kind of facial disguise that [Kevin] Spacey had donned. 'There was no digital trickery required, either, contrary to the speculation,' Mr. Scott said. 'A little bit of good-morning makeup and some front lighting and he was ready to go.'"

    + “'I think it’s a fantastic change,' Mr. Scott said. 'Kevin’s performance was colder. Christopher has enormous charm — a twinkle and a smile — that makes this coldly logical character feel even more dangerous.'”

    ^Star Wars, reviewed. “There's a pervasive freshness and enthusiasm to Rian Johnson's approach that keeps the pic, and with it the franchise, alive, and that is no doubt what matters most,” writes chief film critic Todd McCarthy. Full review.

    + What others are saying: Really good things, generally. "Shockingly good," says Vulture's David Edelstein. "The Force is especially strong in this one," Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson raves. "A work of supreme confidence," says Time Out New York's Joshua Rothkopf. See our full roundup of reviews

    + Heat index: The movie currently boasts a 93 on Rotten Tomatoes and an 85 on Metacritic, though obviously those scores are subject to change. 

    + The Royal Jedi: Yesterday's U.K. premiere of the film brought out the likes of Prince William and Prince Harry, who are said to be hidden somewhere within the film. Neither Kate Middleton nor Meghan Markle attended the event. 

    + Set drama! Sort of... "The original script had about 160 sets in it — a ridiculous number of sets," says Last Jedi production designer Rick Henrichs. "I didn't say that to Rian, because I figured on something this big, he'll find that out on his own." Read the Q&A.

    ? National Film Registry's new additions: Die Hard, Titanic and Superman were among the 25 movies added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry this year. See the full list.

    ? Joe Johnston to handle Disney's Nutcracker reshoots: The studio is gearing up for 32 days of additional photography for The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, a big-budget fantasy adaptation of the classic ballet. Johnston (Captain America: The First Avenger) is being brought in as original director Lasse Hailstorm is said to be unavailable due to scheduling issues.

    ? In the works: Jennifer Lawrence will star in the 19th century true-crime drama Brutal Rites from Call Me By Your Name director Luca GuadagninoWoody Harrelson is in talks to join Tom Hardy in VenomRegina Hall is in talks to join Samuel L. Jackson in the Shaft sequel ... 

    Rep Sheet: Kate Bosworth returns to CAA. She had signed with ICM Partners in June ... WME signs digital star Lele Pons ... Shelter PR expanding into Film, TV representation.


  • Playbills

    Chief theater critic David Rooney glances back at the best New York theater of 2017, including bold new American plays, stellar productions of vintage musicals and Bruce Springsteen, up close and personal.

    1. Jitney. Every major production of an August Wilson work is a stinging reminder of the loss of one of American drama's most uniquely resonant voices. But this belated Broadway debut of the play that launched his magnificent 10-part chronicle of African-American experience in the 20th century — directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson with penetrating emotional depth and irrepressible humor — was something extraordinary. 

    2. The Wolves. Vibrant ensemble work also is key in Sarah DeLappe's subtly crafted study of young women navigating the tricky precipice of adulthood. Lila Neugebauer directs the nine fearless performers playing members of a girls soccer team with a palpable connection to their deeply felt experiences — good and bad — providing unfiltered access to the raw volatility and fear of adolescence.  See the full list.

    What else we're reading...

    — "How Star Wars obsessives found the actual Millennium Falcon — in a field." Andrew Beaton writes: "Staring at a satellite image on Google Maps, James Burns could hardly believe his eyes. There in plain sight was a Hollywood legend." [Wall Street Journal]

    — "Love, death, and control: Paul Thomas Anderson on making Phantom Thread." Kyle Buchanan writes: "Why did the 47-year-old filmmaker head across the pond to direct his new drama with Daniel Day-Lewis? Because he hears a ticking clock." [Vulture]

    — "Why you can't find your favorite holiday movie on streaming services." Kyle Stock writes: "For Netflix and rivals, most Christmas films are too good and too old." [Bloomberg]

    — "Alexa wants you to talk to your ads." Ricki Harris writes: "As companies race to catch up to the success of Amazon’s Alexa, it’s becoming clear that the future is screenless." [Wired]

    — "6-year old made $11 million in one year reviewing toys on YouTube." Samantha Schmidt writes: "Since he was 3 years old, Ryan’s parents have been capturing videos of him opening toys, playing with them and 'reviewing' them for videos posted on their YouTube channel, 'Ryan ToysReview.'" [Washington Post]

    — "Bon Jovi, Nina Simone and, after long wait, Moody Blues are newest Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees." Randy Lewis breaks down the news. [L.A. Times]

    — “Why it’s so difficult for black comedians to be political in late-night sets, and a comedian who broke through.” Jesse David Fox compiles a tweet thread from Roy Wood Jr. about Amanda Seales’ set on Late Night With Seth Meyers (got all that?). [Vulture]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Harry Styles to the rescue." [Late Late Show]

    + "Annette Benning celebrates 25 years of marriage to Warren Beatty." [Tonight Show]

    + "Jimmy Kimmel and Dwayne Johnson settle beef." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Tom Hanks discusses The Post, freedom of the press." [Late Show]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Richard Plepler: Interview." [The Atlantic Interview

    + "The Shape of Water." [Pop Culture Happy Hour / NPR]

    + "Luca Guadagnino: Call Me By Your Name." [The Treatment / KCRW]

    Today's Birthdays: Taylor Swift, 28, Jamie Foxx, 50, NeNe Leakes, 50, Steve Buscemi, 60, Christopher Plummer, 88, Dick Van Dyke, 92.