What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:15 AM 12/27/2017

by Ray Rahman

Baywatch -Still 4 -Zac Efron- H 2017
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

What's news: Could a Mad About You revival be in our future? Plus: Ridley Scott and Aaron Sorkin enter the year-end box office race, Mark Hamill regrets his public Last Jedi criticisms and THR ranks the year in (really) bad movies. — Ray Rahman

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  • Still 'Mad About You'

    There’s a revival in the works, and, yes, Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt would be attached. Lesley Goldberg writes:

    Almost two decades after its seven-season run wrapped, producers Sony Pictures Television Studios are eyeing a potential revival for NBC's beloved Mad About You.

    Sources confirm that the independent studio has had informal talks for a potential eighth season of the Emmy-nominated comedy that starred Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt. Both Reiser, who co-created the series alongside Danny Jacobson, and Hunt would return for the revival.

    NBC, which aired all seven seasons of the comedy, is not currently in the mix for the reboot, which would be set in the present day and follow Paul and Jamie in the wake of their 17-year-old daughter, Mabel's college acceptance. (That would also indicate that the series finale, which jumped ahead two decades, would be totally disregarded a la the Will and Grace and Roseanne revivals.) Full story.

    + Early reactions so far have been positive. Joshua Safran, creator of ABC's Quantico, summed up the feeling on Twitter: "While I do not welcome reboots, this show's loose vibe and deep dive into one relationship was so ahead of its time, it still holds up," he wrote. "I am very excited."  

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? John Oliver wishes his Dustin Hoffman interview had gone differently. “It wasn’t ideal but it became such a big story — but it became about my questions rather than his answers," Oliver told Sky One’s Russell Howard of his heated exchange with Hoffman. "The questions weren’t particularly remarkable, but his answers were — not great. ... It didn’t really go anywhere constructive, so the whole thing just made me feel sad.”

    ? Corey Lewandowski hit with sexual assault complaint. Singer Joy Villa, a Trump backer who wore a "Make America Great Again" dress at the Grammys this year, is claiming that the former Donald Trump campaign manager and CNN contributor hit her twice on her behind during a Washington gathering.

    ? Could the royal wedding set off an international crisis? That's what Prince Harry's minders are reportedly worried about if he decides to invite Barack and Michelle Obama but not the Trumps. "It's causing a lot of nervousness," one "senior government official" told the U.K.'s The Sun. "Trump could react very badly." 

    + That prospect seemed to hasten just this morning, when an interview between Prince Harry and Barack Obama was released on BBC Radio. Although it was recorded in September, Harry did address the issue in a brief live segment: "I don't know about that, we haven't even put the invite or the guest list together, who knows if he's going to be invited or not. I wouldn't want to ruin that surprise."

    ? And Melania Trump's favorite TV show is... How to Get Away With Murder, according to a chat among New York Times White House reporters. Adds Katie Rogers: "She also enjoys Empire. And reality TV did not come up once." 

    + As for Donald, Jack Healy described his movie-viewing habits: "Trump once told me that he had trouble sitting through movies. That he knew in the first five minutes if he’d enjoy it or not. And he had no problem getting up and leaving."

    ^It's Retta time. Thanks to NBC’s upcoming Good Girls, the Parks and Recreation fan favorite becomes a leading lady after a more than 20-year wait. Chris Eggertsen writes:

    If the mononymic actress isn't quite a household name yet, she's well on her way to becoming one: Her NBC comedy-drama Good Girls (from Grey's Anatomy and Scandal alum Jenna Bans) was picked up for a midseason bow. Not only is it her first leading role on a series, it's primed to expand the way audiences see her: as a capital "A" actress. Read more.

    ? The NBA's very merry Christmas: Facing less appealing NFL games this year, early scores for ABC's and ESPN's Christmas Day basketball coverage climbed an impressive 39 percent from 2016's ratings.

    ? "I wanted to date the Vanderbilt boy": Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper discuss their long history together over at the Times. It's as glamorous as you think, maybe even more. 

    ? Errol Morris on Wormwood: A deep-dive Q&A with the prolific documentarian about his first ever Netflix series, which details a 60-year cover-up by the CIA. 

    ? MTV Unplugged co-creator Jim Burns dies at 65. The longtime writer and executive producer, who co-created MTV’s long-running acoustic performance series, was struck by a taxi cab in New York on Dec. 23 and passed away later that afternoon.

    In THR, Esq: The Feud suit: 101-year-old actress Olivia de Havilland's is suing over her portrayal in the FX series Feud: Bette and Joan. Could this test the boundaries of storytelling in docudramas? Read more.

  • 2017's Worst Movies

    From inept tentpoles to an auteur misfire, laugh-free comedies to a particularly exploitative disaster flick, there were a lot of bad movies this year. Here are the worst, as picked by THR film critics: 

    10. Home Again A wan star vehicle for Reese Witherspoon (as a single mother who gets involved with a younger man), Hallie Meyers-Shyer's directorial debut is also a feeble stab at romantic screwball — a bland simulacrum of the cinematic comfort food her parents, Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer, have been serving up over the past few decades. Flatly staged, patchily acted and hobbled by a script that substitutes strained cuteness for wit and texture, it’s a feature-length sitcom sans laughs. 

    9. Queen of the Desert Werner Herzog's passionless trudge traces the life of British explorer Gertrude Bell (Nicole Kidman), whose understanding of Bedouin cultures helped reshape the Arab world in the early 1900s. So why are all those tired camels onscreen not the only ones groaning? Mainly because despite the director's mission to liberate the poetry in his material, this is a literal, flat epic that keeps telling us of its spiritual dimension without actually generating evidence of it. The full list.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Box office update: Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World finally arrived in theaters on Monday, debuting to a decent $2.6 million Christmas day total and a B CinemaScore from 2,068 screens. Meanwhile, Aaron Sorkin's Molly's Game opened in far fewer theaters, earning $1 million (and an A- CinemaScore) from just 271 theaters. Full story.

    ? Could the Disney-Fox deal actually be a good thing for movie lovers? The Wall Street Journal's Ben Fritz makes the case: "Disney released only eight films in 2017. Now that Bob Iger needs more stuff, he may not care so much whether each movie his company makes is as profitable as Zootopia or Thor: Ragnarok. In the digital subscription world, content is produced to attract and retain subscribers, not necessarily to make a profit on its own."

    + In other words, the long-mourned "middle-class movies" of yore (i.e. adult-driven, mid-budget flicks that, say, James L. Brooks used to make regularly) could be due for a comeback.

    ? Bright controversy brewing? Around 60 of the makeup artists involved with the movie claim they were left out of the film's end credits, which is an even bigger deal since the movie's on the shortlist for a hair & makeup Oscar. 

    ^Mark Hamill rethinks his position: After making known his initial concerns with Rian Johnson's vision of Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi — and thus perhaps unintentionally setting off a fan backlash — Hamill is walking back his criticisms. "I regret voicing my doubts & insecurities in public," he tweeted. "Creative differences are a common element of any project but usually remain private. All I wanted was to make good movie. I got more than that- @rianjohnson made an all-time GREAT one! #HumbledHamill" Full story.

    ? Case closed: Die Hard is a Christmas movie. Yes, every film nerd's favorite bar argument has finally been settled — and by none other than the movie's screenwriter himself. “DH is about love, devotion, sacrifice, generosity, and resisting evil — how could it not be a Christmas movie?” Steven E. de Souza wrote on Twitter. He added: "The studio rejected the Purim draft." Read more.

    ? Steven Spielberg's advice to Laura Dern: From New York Magazine’s new profile of the actress: “'When I was 23,” says Dern, “right before a close-up on Jurassic Park, Spielberg said to me, ‘People will tell you what you could do to your face years from now. Don’t you ever touch your face.’ He was saying, ‘Your face is perfect, it’s female, it’s emotional.’?I am determined to be human in my acting, and when you own your power and your womanhood, you grow into your beauty. Your face finds you.”

    ? Daniel Day-Lewis ducks the question: “It’s a decision made with conviction, but not full understanding,” the actor mysteriously said in a new interview about his decision to retire after Phantom Thread.

  • Unfinished Business

    Will Megyn Kelly keep up her momentum? Will Bill O'Reilly return to TV? 2017 brought more questions than answers. Jeremy Barr highlights some of the most pressing media industry questions that have yet to be answered as the year comes to a close:

    Who will replace Matt Lauer on NBC's Today and Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning? Neither network has said a peep about the succession process. On Today, fourth hour co-host Hoda Kotb has been holding down the fort and helping the early hours of the show to industry-leading ratings. Willie Geist, who hosts the Sunday version of the show, has been floated by insiders as a possible Lauer successor — but, in an interview with his hometown publication, Geist said he hasn't had "a word of conversation with anyone about it." The only consensus seems to be that neither network is likely to hire an outside star to fill the empty roles.

    Will Megyn Kelly keep up her momentum? A few weeks into Megyn Kelly Today, the narrative was that NBC probably made a mistake in giving Kelly a massive contract and an hour of the Today franchise to try to prove out her vision of a new morning show. Now, some three months into her show, that narrative has changed. Ratings are up, and Kelly has been covering the heck out of the industry-dominating story of sexual harassment by powerful people. She's re-ignited her beef with Donald Trump by bringing on four women who have accused him of sexual misconduct. "I feel like I’m in a good place right now and so is the show,” she said in a recent interview. “It’s starting to gel.” Will it continue? Read more.

    What else we're reading...

    — "How the era of the big-name news anchor crashed to an end." Lloyd Grove writes: "Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, and Bill O’Reilly’s careers ended dramatically this year, mired in scandal. With them, the era of the multimillion-dollar news anchor may also be over." [Daily Beast]

    — "Sexual-harassment scandals are reshaping CEO searches." Joann S. Lublin writes: "Boards are expanding reference checks of CEO contenders or seeking a top executive who can shake up a toxic culture that previously ignored harassment, according to executive recruiters and leadership advisers." [Wall Street Journal]

    — "Saturday Night Live's current cultural cachet is built on a mirage." Todd VanDerWerff takes the new sketch's show's big year with a grain of salt: "The more of SNL I watched this year, the more I felt like I was watching a different show than everybody else was." [Vox]

    — "Jenna Fischer: The first time I was paid to act." The actress writes about her first paid gig in a sex-ed video. [New York Times]

    — "How theater should respond to a democracy in meltdown." Charles McNulty asks: "Playwrights and their collaborators, not wanting to be the proverbial fiddler sawing away as Rome burns, have had no choice but to contemplate their responsibility in a year of stark political turmoil." [L.A. Times]

    — "The year women reclaimed the web." Issie Lapowsky writes: " If there was one bright spot in all this darkness - one series of moments when the web actually did live up to the most optimistic expectations - it was that in the year 2017, women took back the very platforms that have been used to torment and troll them for so long, and built a new-wave women’s movement on top of them." [Wired]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Kate Winslet: Interview" The actress talks to Scott Feinberg about Titanic's anniversary, hating Harvey and working with Woody on Wonder Wheel. [Awards Chatter / THR]

    + "The Post screenwriters; the best and most overlooked albums of 2017." An interview with the duo who penned the Oscar contender, plus critic Mikael Wood's take on the year in music. [The Frame / KPCC]

    + "Guillermo del Toro: The Shape of Water." The director discusses his craft — and his love of boundaries. [The Treatment / KCRW]

    Today's Birthdays: Timothée Chalamet, 23, Savannah Guthrie, 46, Sarah Vowell, 48, Salman Khan, 52, Tovah Feldsuh, 64, Gérard Depardieu, 69, Cokie Roberts, 74, John Amos, 78.