What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:15 AM 12/19/2017

by Ray Rahman

The Office Promo Season 1 - Photofest - H 2017

What's news: John Skipper steps down from his role as president of ESPN. Plus: An Office revival is underway at NBC, a slew of new movies crowd the holiday box office and stars like Armie Hammer and Margot Robbie sit down for our first-ever live actors roundtable. — Ray Rahman

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  • Live Movie-Star Roundtable

    It's THR's first-ever live roundtable: Bryan Cranston, Armie Hammer, Robert Pattinson, Diane Kruger, Margot Robbie and Octavia Spencer sat down with Matthew Belloni before a studio audience to chat about everything from harassment to nude scenes to working with people they hate.

    BRYAN CRANSTON Have you worked with someone you’ve despised?

    OCTAVIA SPENCER I have. But I was only on the set for one day so … (Laughter.)

    ARMIE HAMMER ’Cause you got fired?

    SPENCER When a person looks past you and doesn’t address you and they close the door in your face, it’s like, “I hate you with all of my heart.” And, you know, that person is a miserable person. Years later I met that person again.

    DIANE KRUGER Did you tell him?

    SPENCER No. They literally walked up to me as if they had been kind, and I’m like, “No.” Read (and watch!) more.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Matt Damon's harassment conversation. The actor, currently trying to promote his new movie Downsizing, just can't seem to stop talking his way into trouble. It began last week when, during an interview, he made his "spectrum of behavior" comments when discussing the harassment reckoning.

    He got some flack for that — Minnie Driver and Alyssa Milano, among others, weren't thrilled with him — but there was still a chance it might've blown over ... until he decided to double down this week in another interview, in which he says, "I think one thing that's not being talked about is there are a whole shitload of guys — the preponderance of men I've worked with — who don't do this kind of thing." It's not being received well.

    + Flashback: Damon got in some trouble a few years ago when he discussed diversity during a Project Greenlight episode. 

    ? Dustin Hoffman accuser: "I don't think we should feel sorry for him." Kathryn Rossetter joined two other women who called the actor out for sexual misconduct for an NBC News interview last night. 

    ? Meryl on Rose: Streep responded to Rose McGowan's widely panned tweet denigrating actresses planning to wear black to the Golden Globes. "It hurt to be attacked by Rose McGowan in banner headlines this weekend," Streep told the Huffington Post, "but I want to let her know I did not know about Weinstein's crimes..." Read her statement in full.

    “I kind of knew I was going to do it even if I hated the script”: Christopher Plummer talks to THR about the whirlwind journey of shooting All the Money in the World in just nine days. The movie, sans Kevin Spacey, is somehow still on track do open in theaters on Christmas Day.

    ^Holiday box-office preview: Can the Christmas glut rescue 2017’s ailing ticket sales? Pamela McClintock writes:

    A spirited year-end battle at the box office commences Wednesday when Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Greatest Showman, starring Hugh Jackman as P. T. Barnum, open nationwide opposite ruling champ, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Then the crowded Christmas parade grows on Friday with the addition of Pitch Perfect 3, Downsizing and Father Figures.

    If all goes well, the lineup of films could significantly narrow the revenue gap at the 2017 box office, the scene of a nausea-inducing roller coaster ride for Hollywood studios and theater owners. The Last Jedi is already proving to be a force after opening to $220 million, the second-best domestic launch of all time. Heading into the Dec. 15-17 weekend, revenue trailed last year by 4 percent. Thanks to the Last Jedi, the revenue gap is now 2.9 percent. Full story.

    ? The first Ocean's 8 trailer is here. In which Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Rihanna, Cate Blanchett and the rest of the crew target the Met Ball to the tune of Nancy Sinatra. Watch here.

    ? Pitch Perfect 3, reviewed: “Franchise fatigue is evident throughout this mechanical enterprise, which squanders the good will engendered by the original 2012 sleeper hit and, to a lesser extent, its even more commercially successful 2015 sequel,” Frank Scheck writes. Full review.

    ? The Room finally gets a wide release: Fourteen years after Tommy Wiseau released his passion project in two L.A. cinemas, the movie that inspired James Franco's The Disaster Artist will play in 600 theaters nationwide for a one-night engagement on Jan. 10. The screenings will also include a trailer for Wiseau and Sestero's latest film, Best F(r)iends

    ? The best documentaries of 2017. From a French cinema legend's bittersweet road-trip chronicle to examinations of the Rodney King case, Istanbul cats, Baltimore rats and more, critics pick the best non-fiction films of the year. See the full list.

    ? Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations reveal disruption of Trump era in Oscar race. With the actors guild's snub of the old guard honored by the Hollywood Foreign Press, the us-versus-them of our political system has reached Hollywood. Will it upend the Academy Award nominations, too? Stephen Galloway’s latest column.


  • Back to Work

    Hot on the success of the return of Will & Grace, NBC is looking to revive another of its beloved comedies: The Office. But it'll be without its star, Lesley Goldberg writes: 

    Sources confirm that the network is looking to bring back the former Steve Carell-starring sitcom for another season. Carell, however, will not return. A search is underway to find a new star to take over as the show's Michael Scott-like regional manager of paper supply company Dunder Mifflin. NBC and producers Universal Television declined comment. 

    There was word back in August that The Office may be revived with a new cast and creator Greg Daniels attached, but at the time, NBC and producers Universal Television said those rumors were not true. That speculation has now grown more real as the network is said to be in talks for a revival. Full story.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? ESPN drama: Network president John Skipper abruptly resigned yesterday, citing "substance addiction." No further explanation was given, but the circumstances are raising eyebrows: Disney, which owns the network, was reported to have just extended his contract weeks ago. Former president George Bodenheimer will serve as acting chairman while he and Bob Iger look for a replacement.  

    + It's been a tough time for the network, which has been hit by cord-cutting, political controversies and some high-profile bad decisions (like its one-episode Barstool Sports experiment). Plus, the Boston Globe ran a bombshell story about sexism and harassment within the company. But the resignation is still shocking within the sports and media worlds; during former ESPNer Bill Simmons' NFL podcast yesterday, his phone was ringing off the hook as people called him about the news in real time. Simmons, however, stayed mum on the matter. 

    ? Trouble at HQ? The live game show app that some think could be the model for TV's future is running into some speed bumps: Recode reports that its founders Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll might have misconduct issues lurking in their pasts: “At least three prominent investors have decided against funding the startup after finding troubling conduct on the part of the founders they uncovered during due diligence.”

    ? GroupNine sells TV show: The media group has sold a show called Dodo Heroes to Animal Planet, making it the first linear series for Group Nine, which countrs Discovery Communications as an investor.

    ^Donald Trump, animated: Showtime's cartoon version of the president is coming into view thanks to a new trailer for Our Cartoon President, which comes from The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert and Chris Licht. The series premieres Feb. 11.

    + Donald Trump, animatronic: Disney's Hall of Presidents added the 45th president to its show this week. The consensus so far? It looks like Jon Voight.

    ? Issa Rae is busy: The Insecure star is working on developing two new shows for HBO — a single-camera comedy called Him or Her and an hourlong drama titled Sweet Life

    ? John Legend Superstar: The singer has been cast to play the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar for NBC's next live musical, which will air April 1 (Easter Sunday). We are giddily looking forward to Chrissy Teigan's live tweets during the event. 

    ? BBC America cancels Dirk Gently. The Elijah Wood-starring series' Dec. 16 season 2 finale will now serve as the show's series ender

    ? Amazon passes. The streaming outlet declined to pick up three of its comedy pilots: Sea Oak, The Climb and Love You More. The move marks Amazon Studios' gradual shift away from its viewer feedback model in favor of more straight-to-series orders.

  • Murdoch's Secrets

    “I ran the Fox Studio and here’s a secret: Murdoch hated movie people.” As Disney unveils a $52.4 billion deal to buy 21st Century Fox assets, former exec Bill Mechanic pens a guest column that looks back on his time at both companies.

    At various points in my career I’ve had a stake in both Disney and Fox, so 21st Century Fox’s decision to sell to Disney fills me with ambivalence. On one hand, it’s a tragedy for the movie world: there’ll be fewer films, fewer jobs, less diversity — and we’re already in arguably the worst era of film in history. A great brand will all but disappear. That’s especially heartbreaking for me, because I took Fox from worst-performing major to box office leader and hired so many of the people who will now be displaced.

    But it’s also a great moment, because we’re free of Rupert Murdoch, who hated the business. He hated movie people, thought they were pampered and bleeding hearts. I remember once he went on a diatribe about how lazy everyone was. I snapped back: “The only car I see here on the weekends is mine!” — I never saw his car there. At least that gave him a reason to hate me. Full guest column.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Glowing auras and 'black money': The Pentagon's mysterious UFO program" Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean confirm that aliens are real, basically. [New York Times]

    — "Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and the fate of the art-house multiplex in an era of streaming." Richard Brody writes: "The increased diversity of independent and art-house filmmaking coincides with the proliferation of online viewing, through streaming services — not just of TV and Web series but also of new and recent movies — like the ones shown, for weeks at a time, at Lincoln Plaza." [The New Yorker]

    — "The Peak TV era has been cruel to the Good TV Show." Willa Paskin asks, "Why is it so hard to deal with TV's good-to-great shows?" [Slate]

    — "How YouTube became the world's film school." David Pierce writes: "Many of the creators work in film; others studied it; and some are just avid fans." [Wired]

    — "How bidding for Amazon HQ2 could affect LGBTQ rights." Sarah Holder writes: “Atlanta is pushing to be the home of the tech giant's second headquarters, but Georgia's continued efforts to pass religious freedom laws could impede that plan.” [Pacific Standard]

    — "In conversation: Eminem." David Marchese sits down with the rapper for a wide-ranging interview. [Vulture]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Anna Kendrick does her impression of Kristen Stewart talking about Pitch Perfect 3." [Tonight Show]

    + "The politics of branding, meeting Obama, and Trump's first year." [Daily Show]

    + "Fred Armisen has a very popular tax plan." [Late Night]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Aaron Sorkin: Interview." [Awards Chatter / THR]

    + "Rachel Brosnahan: Interview." [It's Been a Minute / NPR]

    + "Your burning questions about pop music in 2017." [Popcast / New York Times]

    Today's Birthdays: Ronan Farrow, 30, Jake Gyllenhaal, 37, Alyssa Milano, 45, Ken Marino, 59, Criss Angel, 50, Jennifer Beals, 54.