What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:17 AM 12/20/2017

by Ray Rahman

The Greatest Showman - Still 1-Hugh Jackman- Publicity-H 2017
Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum in 'The Greatest Showman'

What's news: Tom Hanks has some strong words for the Trump administration. Plus: Val Kilmer opens up about his cancer battle, T.J. Miller finds himself in hot water and The Greatest Showman gets reviewed. — Ray Rahman

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  • Best Foreign Films 2017

    From a Chilean character study about a grieving trans woman to a French cannibal flick, a scathing indictment of Israeli military culture, a hushed Japanese family drama and more, THR critics pick the best foreign-language movies of the year:

    1. A Fantastic Woman Chilean director Sebastian Lelio's film is a work of searing empathy, tracing the emergence from devastating grief of a transgender protagonist (the superb Daniela Vega) who's treated like a criminal in the wake of her older partner's abrupt death. Shocking and enraging, funny and surreal, rapturous and restorative, this is a film of startling intensity and sinuous mood shifts wrapped in a rock-solid coherence of vision. ??

    2. BPM (Beats Per Minute) France's Robin Campillo mines his past as a member of AIDS activist organization ACT UP in 1990s Paris in this moving drama of politics, passion and loss. But it's the gently blossoming romance between a newcomer (Arnaud Valois) and a radical (the superb Nahuel Perez Biscayart)  that gives the film its human heartbeat. See the full list.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Former Weinstein assistant recounts "trauma" of her job in first TV interview. Zelda Perkins opened up about her relationship with the disgraced mogul and called out the legal system and nondisclosure agreements as tools that allowed him to operate with impunity during an interview with BBC’s Newsnight.

    + WGA West is developing a mission statement on sexual harassment in 2018. The writers' union convened a 10-person committee to address sexism in Hollywood, with specific proposals due by "early in the new year."

    + Someone is plastering L.A. with posters of Meryl Streep with Harvey Weinstein and the words "She knew."

    ? Tom Hanks vs. the White House: “I don't think I would,” Hanks said when asked during an interview with THR if he’d screen The Post at the White House. “I would not have been able to imagine that we would be living in a country where neo-Nazis are doing torchlight parades in Charlottesville and jokes about Pocahontas are being made in front of the Navajo code talkers. And individually we have to decide when we take to the ramparts. … So I would probably vote not to go.” Full Q&A.

    ? Star Wars merch woes? The Last Jedi is a box-office hit, crossing $500 million globally, but The Force may not be as strong for Disney when it comes to merchandise sales this year thanks to a shifting market and the recent bankruptcy of Toys R Us.

    ^The Greatest Showman, reviewed: “Hugh Jackman seems incapable of giving an unappealing performance, but there's just no texture to his role,” David Rooney writes, adding: “The script so sanitizes and simplifies the flamboyant showman that you wonder how anyone could possibly object to what he's selling.” Full review.

    + So maybe watch All the Money in the World instead: "Christopher Plummer delivers the best screen performance ever given by an actor who, a month before the film's debut, hadn't even been cast yet,” Todd McCarthy writes in his review. “It's a true-life yarn loaded with extremes, of wealth, personal eccentricities, grief, tension, daring, criminal means to political ends, maternal drive and luck, both bad and good.” Read more.

    ? "One of them is a Marvel superhero now and I can't get a small role in an indie": A New York Times profile explains Elizabeth Banks' move to more behind-the-scenes work: "Her castmates from Wet Hot American Summer all went on to big careers, but the men scaled quicker ... Paul Rudd, a friend, gets '70 percent more at-bats than I do,' Banks says. 'He has that many more chances to improve his quote. There’s a lot of material that stars men between the ages of 20 and 50. There is not that amount of material for all of us actresses. It was a great epiphany.'"

    ? Saban Films wins Jennifer Aniston war drama: Saban has nabbed North American rights to The Yellow Birds, starring Alden Ehrenreich alongside Aniston and Jack Huston, with plans to release in the spring. 

    ? A new Reno 911! movie? Nicey Nash says it's in the works

    ? Sundance additions: The Lynne Ramsay-directed, Joaquin Phoenix-starring film You Were Never Really Here has been added to the slate, as was a retrospective of RuPaul's Drag Race

    New! L.A. power dining for December. Gary Baum is ready with his latest ranking of the city's hot restaurants: Say hello to Tintorera and Cal Mare, while Verlaine and Alta Nordic have fallen off the chart. Full map.

  • Great TV Performances 2017

    From Carrie Coon's double-whammy through Michael McKean's sly scene-stealing on Better Call Saul, these actors delivered work worth celebrating.

    Carrie Coon (The Leftovers, Fargo) From April to June, Carrie Coon had one of the most remarkable stretches any TV actress has ever had. Full stop. Every Sunday night, she could be seen grappling with loss and experiencing alienation in foreign hotel rooms as she wrapped a three-season run as Nora Durst on HBO's confounding The Leftovers. And then there she was every Wednesday, boasting a chirpy Midwestern accent and grappling with a world run amok as Gloria Burgle in the third season of FX's Fargo. Whatever darkness 2017 provided, it also gave us The Spring of Carrie Coon. — Daniel Fienberg

    Frankie Shaw (SMILF) Shaw, like other extremely talented writer-actors with personal stories to tell (Donald Glover, Aziz Ansari, Issa Rae, Pamela Adlon) infuses SMILF and her loosely autobiographical character Bridgette with hurt, vulnerability, feistiness and burgeoning determination to wonderful, subtle effect. The deepening vulnerability and rising spirit in the character gives Shaw a chance to shine, doing it with a simplicity that belies the emotional complexity. — Tim Goodman See the full list.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? T.J. Miller denies claims of sexual assault and violence. The former Silicon Valley star says that the anonymous woman, who claims Miller hit and sexually assaulted her during college in 2001 is "using the current climate to bandwagon and launch these false accusations."

    + Miller's The Gorburger Show was canceled by Comedy Central shortly after the accusations became public. However, a network rep claims that the decision predated the allegations, with one source noting it happened as far back as July.

    ? Sinclair Broadcasting Group sued for sexual harassment and retaliation. Three former employees claim a Sinclair affiliate discriminates against women and ignored complaints about harassment.

    ? The Today show's winning ratings: Last week, Today beat Good Morning America for the third week in a row — which lines up directly with how long Lauer has been gone from the show. If the numbers remain consistent, could the Guthrie-Kotb pairing become permanent?

    ? Catt Sadler is leaving E! News after discovering that co-host Jason Kennedy makes nearly twice her salary, she says. Sadler adds that the network was unwilling to meet her demands for more equal pay during recent contract negotiations, prompting her to bolt. 

    ^Could Ian McKellan play Gandalf again on TV? Maybe! The actor revealed in an interview that he’d be open to reprising the role as the wizard for Amazon’s upcoming Lord of the Rings series, but no one has asked him yet.

    ? Narcos season 4: The Netflix drug cartel series will reset next season with Michael Pena and Diego Luna as the show's new stars. 

    + Series boss Eric Newman confirmed suspicions that the new season will shift its focus from Colombia to Mexico in an interview with THR. The show will explore “the origins of the Guadalajara cartel are in the late 1970s and early 1980s,” Newman says, “so Narcos is going back in time.” Read more.

    ? Vikings creator launches TV banner, strikes MGM deal for Ronin adaptation. Michael Hirst has set up Green Pavilion Entertainment alongside longtime producing partners Morgan O'Sullivan and James Flynn. As part of the multiyear deal, Green Pavilion will develop Ronin, a TV series inspired by the 1988 spy thriller starring Robert De Niro.

    ? Universal, Sony renew licensing deals with YouTube. The global, multi-year pact gives the video platform licenses from all three major record companies.  

    ? Homeland adds James D'arcy for season 7. The actor is set to play the recurring role of Anson, an arrogant former special ops agent to who went to The Farm (the CIA's Camp Peary) with Claire Danes’ Carrie.

    ? Heather North, voice of Daphne on Scooby-Doo, dies at 71. The actress, who also starred on the soap opera Days of Our Lives and with Kurt Russell in The Barefoot Executive, passed away Nov. 30 at her home in Studio City after a long illness.

    HBO promotions: Following news of Sheila Nevins' upcoming departure, the network has tapped department vice presidents Nancy Abraham and Lisa Heller to share the title of vp HBO documentary and family programming. 

  • Hollywood Legacies

    They're the dynasties, the establishment, the families with hundreds of film and television credits to their multigenerational names. And as the Hedren-Griffith-Johnsons, Kohans, Ladds and others in our exclusive portfolio reveal, they're just now getting started. See our interviews with the Hustons, Poitiers, Sutherlands and more showbiz families.

    + For beneficiaries of Hollywood nepotism, "you always fight that label." Those who worked their way up from outside the industry look at the children of legacies as spoiled shoo-ins — and sometimes they're right. But famous bloodlines also come with pitfalls: "You have a parent who made one or two enemies along the way." Full story.

    + When Hollywood offspring land industry internships: "There's a pay-it-forward expectation." Prized positions often go to powerful progeny as Tom Hanks' son scored a spot at Bad Robot while Katie Couric's daughter was a hard worker at HBO: "If I help your kid, maybe you'll help me or my kid down the road." Read more.

    + Bright screenwriter Max Landis: No, my dad didn't give me my big break. The hot screenwriter gets candid about his "complicated" relationship with director father John Landis and how his upbringing helped him get ahead (it's less than haters think). Read the interview.

    + Val Kilmer opens up about battling cancer and his kids' showbiz ambitions. The actor poses for THR's Hollywood Legacies issue with children Jack and Mercedes as he reveals how he's changed after battling throat cancer: "I was too serious. I'd get upset when things like Oscars and recognition failed to come my way." Full story.

    What else we're reading...

    — "At Rolling Stone, prospective buyers are in the tire-kicking phase." Joe Pompeo reports on the iconic magazine's sale (as well as its company holiday party). [Vanity Fair]

    —  "Jordan Peele's X-Ray vision." Wesley Morris gets lunch with the Get Out director. [New York Times Magazine

    — "We need a Jewish action hero now more than ever." Adam Kovac writes: "We need tough, Torah-toting heroes more than ever." [AV Club]

    — "The magic of Titanic's ending, 20 years later." David Sims writes: "James Cameron’s epic 1997 disaster film is still remarkable for how it manages to finish on a high note." [The Atlantic]

    — "The story behind the music of The Muppet Christmas Carol." Tim Greiving offers an unlikely tale of cocaine, drinking and redemption. [Vulture]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Seth MacFarlane doubts aliens have visited Earth." [Late Night]

    + "Deck the malls." [The President Show]

    + "Rebel Wilson shares the secret to her American accent." [Tonight Show]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "The Year End Roundtable." [SI Media Podcast With Richard Deitsch]

    + "Eminem's feud with President Trump goes only one way." [Damage Control / The Ringer]

    + "The Last Jedi." [Tomorrow With Joshua Topolsky]

    Today's Birthdays: Jonah Hill, 34, Todd Phillips, 47, Tim Bevan, 60, Billy Bragg, 60, Dick Wolf, 71, Peter Criss, 72.