What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:23 AM 12/7/2017

by Ray Rahman

Jennifer Lawrence WIE Getty - H 2017
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

What's news: Inside the potential Disney-Fox power play. Plus: Jeffrey Tambor might not be leaving Transparent, Harvey Weinstein faces a class-action suit, directors get vulnerable in a roundtable interview and highlights from THR's star-studded Women in Entertainment event. — Ray Rahman 

[Note: To receive this Today in Entertainment newsletter by email each weekday, click here.]

  • Director Roundtable

    Six top filmmakers — Guillermo del Toro, Greta Gerwig, Patty Jenkins, Angelina Jolie, Denis Villeneuve and Joe Wright — open up to Stephen Galloway about managing actors, firing staff and what it feels like to direct a movie that bombs: "People think you move on, but you don't."

    On picking the right projects:

    DEL TORO: In 25 years, I have had one single bad experience: [Mimic] in 1997 at Miramax/Dimension. I learned that great word, which was "no," which is the same in every language, but I learned it. It's like adopting a baby tiger. A year later, that baby tiger eats your face.

    On directing for the first time:

    GERWIG: I learned that I could do it. I don't think you quite know until you are on the other end of something like that. You take the leap and hope there is a parachute attached. 

    On having to be the bad guy:

    JOLIE: When I started, I wanted everybody to feel this is the greatest experience. And then I realized, there can be days they don't like me. I would rather them not like me and be proud of the end result.

    VILLENEUVE: You are not there to make friends. Read more.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? The Harvey Weinstein saga had another eventful day. For one, Harvey, Bob Weinstein, The Weinstein Company and Miramax were all hit with a class action lawsuit by a group of six women, whose claim includes a R.I.C.O. charge. The New York Times also sued Weinstein Co. over $229,567.68 in unpaid advertising bills. And the L.A. Times reports that Weinstein's former assistant Sandeep Rehal is also gearing up to sue Weinstein for alleged sexual harassment that included providing him with erectile dysfunction medication and stocking his apartment with women's lingerie.

    + Bloomberg Businessweek has a new profile of David Boies titled "The superstar lawyer tied to Harvey Weinstein isn't panicked." Snippet: "Boies and Weinstein couldn’t be a more incongruous pair: The lawyer is lanky and cerebral, the producer paunchy and volcanic. Boies, born in Sycamore, Ill., looks like a disheveled professor. Weinstein, from Queens, N.Y., comes across as a bull shark." 

    + The harassment reckoning also claimed a few names from East Coast cultural institutions yesterday: Lorin Stein, the influential editor of The Paris Review, stepped down amid an internal inquiry, and Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz of WNYC were placed on leave

    ? The Academy's new code of conduct: The Oscar organization's board of governors approved a new "Standards of Conduct" that its 8,427 members will be expected to adhere to. It's only a couple paragraphs long and includes the key line: "There is no place in the Academy for people who abuse their status, power or influence in a manner that violates recognized standards of decency."

    ? And Bryan Singer's replacement is... Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle) will take the reins on Bohemian Rhapsody, the Rami Malek-starring Queen biopic that Singer was fired from.

    ? All the Money in the World's new release date: Monday, Dec. 25. The movie, which Ridley Scott is currently reworking sans Kevin Spacey, was originally slated for Dec. 22 (a Friday), a date that was touted by trailers as recently as last week. 

    ? L.A. wildfires: Regular order was suspended for many in the Los Angeles area yesterday when wildfires spread across Southern California, prompting the mayor to order 150,000 to evacuate their homes, including large swaths of Bel Air. The Getty Center closed as a result, and Rupert Murdoch confirmed that his vineyard estate experienced damage.

    + Lea Michele shared her evacuation experience: "I grabbed my cat and that's all." 

    ^The Phantom Thread, reviewed. “Less grandiose than the writer-director's last three features, as well as more precision-controlled, this is a melodrama of love, desire and gamesmanship among three control freaks played out in a veritable hot-house in which the winner will be determined by who wilts last,” Todd McCarthy writes. Full review.

    ? Critics' Choice Awards: The Shape of Water leads with 14 nominations, giving the film another boost in momentum; del Toro was also named best director by the LA Film Critics Association this week. See the full list of nominees.

    ? Sundance Festival, Black Mirror-style: This year’s New Frontier program will feature VR works from such high-profile filmmakers as Darren Aronofsky and Megan Ellison, as well as an interactive project called Frankenstein AI: A Monster Made by Many, which reimagines Mary Shelley’s literary classic.

    ? Ryan Reynolds is going to star in the Pokemon movie Detective Pikachu. Reynolds joins Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and Big Little Lies actress Kathryn Newton in the live-action film, due to start filming in mid-January.

    + In the works: James Mangold (Walk the Line) will direct an untitled Patty Hearst movie, with Elle Fanning in talks to star in the title role ... Sally Field is writing a memoir called In Pieces, slated to be published next fall ... It star Jack Dylan Grazer will joins the cast of the DC Comics movie Shazam! ... 

    Apple enlists Jason Katims producing partner Michelle Lee. The tech giant continues to round out its creative team: Lee, who oversaw Katims' Universal Television-based production company, will serve as a creative executive starting Jan. 1.

  • Murdoch vs. Iger?

    How much power could Rupert and sons wield at Disney? Robert Iger, 66, is set to exit in 2019, though he could stay longer if a purchase of 21st Century Fox's major assets is struck, write Paul Bond and Georg Szalai:

    A deal in the works that could have The Walt Disney Co. purchasing up to $60 billion worth of 21st Century Fox’s assets would make Rupert Murdoch and his sons major Disney shareholders with outsize power over important decisions, including who would succeed current CEO Robert Iger, industry observers speculated on Wednesday.

    Insiders say that behind the scenes the Murdochs are jockeying for as much power as they possibly can extract from Disney, which is anxious to acquire Fox’s rights to some Marvel movies, Avatar sequels and TV brands like FX as the company gears up to launch a streaming offering meant to compete with Netflix and Amazon.

    Just as Jobs was added to the board, analysts speculate that Disney would add both James and Lachlan Murdoch, Fox’s CEO and co-executive chairman, respectively, and possibly also add Rupert. Several outlets are reporting that James, who, at 44, is 22 years younger than Iger, might want the position while Lachlan and Rupert take control of what’s left of Fox. Full story.

    + Rupert's request: According to the Wall Street Journal, the elder Murdoch is said to have specifically requested that Iger stay on past his planned retirement date as part of the potential sale to help with the integration. 

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Jeffrey Tambor is back? In Transparent, that is — according to the New York Times' look into the Amazon show's situation, Tambor's reps told the paper that the accused actor has no plans to quit the show, which contradicts a Nov. 19 statement in which Tambor himself strongly hinted that he would be leaving the series. Amazon's investigation into the harassment claims is still underway.

    ? Al Franken is scheduled to make a televised statement today at 11:45 a.m. E.T as calls for his resignation intensify. Will the former SNL star announce he's leaving the Senate? Maybe: Yesterday, Minnesota Public Radio reported that Franken planned to step down, per a Democratic official. 

    ^Dick Van Dyke star Rose Marie: What happened when I publicly shamed my harasser. The trailblazing actress pens a guest column revealing how a producer's sexual harassment impacted her career: “I realized then that the rumors of the casting couch weren't jokes and why some actresses were getting breaks and why others, sometimes way more talented, weren’t.” Read more.

    ? AMC's Dietland enlists Tangerine breakout Mya Taylor. The transgender actress will recur on the Marti Noxon-developed, Julianna Marguiles-starring drama, playing a transgender character.

    ? Jordan Peele's Twilight Zone gets official order from CBS All Access. The subscription video service handed the reboot a series order, though there's no official episode count or premiere date yet.

    ? Stranger Things producer gets massive Netflix deal. The streaming giant has signed Stranger Things director-producer Shawn Levy and his production company to what sources say is a four-year, seven-figure deal.

    ? Atlanta breakout Stephen Glover inks overall deal with FX. The cable network has signed an overall deal with the writer-producer, who is the younger brother of the show's star Donald Glover. The pact, which will see him develop projects for FX and other outlets, comes as he's readying an animated Deadpool TV series for FXX and Marvel.

  • Women in Entertainment 2017

    Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter threw its annual Women in Entertainment breakfast in Los Angeles, where the likes of Angelina Jolie and Shonda Rhimes spoke to female solidarity and Jennifer Lawrence received the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award, given annually to a woman who has been a pioneer and philanthropic leader in her industry. Highlights: 

    ? Sarah Silverman's opening monologue: "I just want to say before I start, I've been asked a lot about my stance on sexual assault in Hollywood, and this is as good a time as any to express exactly how I feel on it: I’m against it."

    ”We have a responsibility as women to reject this toxic drug in the air that makes us feel like the success of one woman can only come at the failure of another. It's not true — except for on The Bachelor, one of the great feminist shows of our time." Watch.

    ? Angelina Jolie's keynote speech: “Art influences. Art catches the imagination. Art challenges orthodoxy and societies where women are denied freedom of expression are being shaped without the voice and influence and wisdom of women.” Watch.

    Shonda Rhimes' on guest-editing THR: "My daughter told me to ask for a story on powerful women and their teenage daughters. I heard horror stories at a baby shower and that turned into an article on how working women are treated in this business when they are pregnant. I railed against what turned out to be a really great story about boots. I did a big interview. I tried as hard as I could to stalk Jennifer Lawrence to find out how she does it, but THR got a restraining order. And I loved every single minute of all of it." Watch.

    Jennifer Lawrence receiving the Sherry Lansing Award: "It’s not easy to speak out. It’s not easy to face criticism on a global scale. But the fact is I have been given a platform, and if I don’t use it, then I don’t deserve it.” Watch.

    ? Justin Timberlake to men: "We need to go to work." Watch.

    ? Gal Gadot surprising a student with a Wonder Woman scholarship: "I’ve had the privilege of portraying a superhero onscreen, but the young women here today are the real superheroes.” 

    + The student: "All I can think about right now are how many papers I have to write for my finals, and now I have to do it because of this!" Watch.

    ? Also in attendance: Bryce Dallas Howard, Olivia Munn, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lea Michele, Chrissy Metz, Glenn Close, Sherry Lansing, Diane Warren, Marcia Clark, Nancy Dubuc, Sterling K. Brown, Mara Brock Akil, Gillian Jacobs and many more. See the full gallery.

  • The Sheryl Sandberg Interview

    Facebook's chief operating officer talks to THR guest editor Shonda Rhimes about how to root out workplace bias and get more women comfortable with power:

    SHONDA RHIMES: You called out the problem beautifully [with Lean In]. Have we moved far enough ahead that we're ready to step into the solution?

    SHERYL SANDBERG: The solutions have to be recognizing the bias women face and the bias minorities face. That's the thing we all have to do. We know that organizations that think their system is meritocratic and people who think they are meritocratic often have the worst results because they don't correct. We have to understand that we all have a bias against women in leadership, including women, and then we need to correct for that. Recognizing the problem is a solution.

    Do you feel like you've seen progress?

    I think if you took the bias training that most of our employees have and we put it online, it's pretty hard to write into the next review of a woman who works for you that she's too aggressive. It's pretty hard to write in the next review of a Latina woman that she's emotional, or a black woman that she's angry, right? Those are the biases. Those are the stereotypes, and calling them out is a way to correct.

    We've got to not pretend that we don't think women are more aggressive than men, even though gender-blind tells us they're not. We know that women and minorities are viewed as less competent, even when they are equally or more competent. That's why the Boston orchestra can audition people behind a screen and hire more women all of a sudden — some of whom, by the way, were already subbing for the orchestra. Full Q&A.

    + Amber Tamblyn guest column: "Women supporting women is the solution to Hollywood's gender problem."

    What else we're reading...

    — "I'd never seen my fears as an African-American man onscreen." Cara Buckley talks to Jordan Peele about the concerns that almost prevented him from making Get Out. [New York Times

    —  "The Billy Bush redemption tour is confusing." Katy Waldman writes: "It is tough to know how to integrate Billy Bush into the Excel spreadsheet of victims, bystanders, allies, and harassers that has unfurled in our brains." [Slate]

    — "After Titans reveals its Robin, fans wonder: Which Boy Wonder are we getting?" David Betancourt writes: "DC Entertainment President Geoff Johns, who will help produce Titans with Akiva Goldsman, Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, referred to Thwaites’ Robin as 'Batman’s former protege,' signaling he’ll be out of the shadow of the Dark Knight." [Washington Post]

    — "Does She's Gotta Have It live up to its promise?" Adam Serwer, Adrienne Green, Brentin Mock and Gillian B. White discuss the Netflix adaptation of Spike Lee’s 1986 film, and the ways the series exceeds and falls short of its potential. [The Atlantic]

    — "Why androids like Sophia dress conservatively." Tessa Love writes: "Like the Stepford Wives, these mild-mannered robots have become accidental and disempowered spokespersons for outdated ideals of femininity and style — modest but not homely, beautiful but not sexy." [Racked]

    — "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is the ultimate 'winning the breakup' fantasy." Anna Silman writes: "It’s thrilling not just to watch Midge dominate Joel in the breakup Olympics, but to see her do so in a way that nobody expects from a 1950s housewife." [The Cut]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Even more creeps: Journalist edition." [Full Frontal With Samantha Bee]

    + "Guest host Neil Patrick Harris interviews Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Kristen Wiig struggles with 'Hallelujah.'" [Late Late Show]

    What else we're hearing...

    "Angelina Jolie: Interview." [Awards Chatter / THR]

    + Two James Franco interviews: One on NPR's Fresh Air and another on Marc Maron's WTF.

    + "Bryan Cranston on TV dads, streaming shows, and creative freedom." [The Bill Simmons Podcast / The Ringer]

    Today's Birthdays: Nicholas Hoult, 28, Caleb Landry Jones, 28, Emily Browning, 29, Shiri Appleby, 39, Jeff Nichols, 39, Mark Duplass, 41, Jeffrey Wright, 52, Tom Waits, 68, Ellen Burstyn, 85.