What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:19 AM 2/15/2018

by Ray Rahman

Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios

What's news: Black Panther's reign begins. Plus: Hollywood absorbs the Ryan Murphy mega-deal, Universal's marketing department gets in trouble and Berlin Film Festival sees plenty of buzz. — Ray Rahman

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

  • 'Black Panther' Arrives

    Courtesy of Marvel Studios

    Tonight, the public will start pouring into theaters to see Marvel's latest entry, which is set to make history. Pamela McClintock writes: 

    If the latest tracking is correct, the critically acclaimed superhero film will take in $165 million-plus over the long four-day weekend in North America, the top showing ever for both the holiday and the month of February. Black Panther will usurp the record from another superhero film Deadpool, which took in $152.2 million over Presidents Day weekend in 2016.

    A $165 million-plus opening would also be one of the top five or six domestic openings ever for a superhero film, not accounting for inflation. Some box-observers believe $165 million is too low an estimate. Read more.

    Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sits with Ryan Coogler to assess the movie's significance: "If this film can give people who are of African descent a feeling of pride, even in the theater, that's a bonus I wouldn't even be able to comprehend as an artist," Coogler says.

    He continues: "I think that Wakanda is the ultimate African fantasy, a place that was able to maintain dominion over their natural resource, able to control it, able to use it to grow, scientifically and culturally, and able to defend it from people who want to take it." Read more.

    Yara Shahidi: "Black Panther is breaking barriers as a movie and as a cultural moment," the Grown-ish star writes in a guest column, "making me feel like I have permission to celebrate our diverse culture, while demonstrating to corporations and studios alike that our art is important and profitable.

    Watershed moment for black studio films? Tatiana Siegel: "How exactly Black Panther influences the major studios' willingness to greenlight a black-focused movie at a significant budget remains to be seen. So far, only one film with an African-American director, a mostly African-American cast and a mega-budget awaits: Ava DuVernay's A Wrinkle in Time, a $100 million-plus gamble for Disney that opens March 9. Still, the dam may be poised to break ..." Full story.

    Kevin Feige: "Myths of what plays overseas or what doesn’t, or what type of person someone wants to see in a lead role … that’s all noise until somebody comes and disproves it," the Marvel boss told Vulture

    African premiere: BuzzFeed reports from the event held in Lupita Nyongo's hometown of Kisumu, Kenya, writing, "The lounge, clearly labeled as being for the VVIP crowd was brimming with Kenyans from all walks of life, from county government workers to radio personalities."

    Universal exec fired ... 

    Seth Byers out, Josh Goldstine on ice: The studio has parted ways with Byers, executive vp creative strategy and research, while Goldstine, president of marketing, has been placed on administrative leave while an investigation takes place following allegations of "inappropriate conduct" reported in Universal's marketing department.

    The decision was detailed in a note sent Wednesday to staff from Jeff Shell and Donna Langley, which says that they have found the allegations to be "both credible and indicative of an unacceptable climate." Full note.

    Natalie Portman addresses Annihilation whitewashing claims ...

    Portman says she was unaware: “Well, that does sound problematic,” Portman told Yahoo of the whitewashing news, “but I’m hearing it here first." She added: "We need more representation of Asians on film, of Hispanics on film, of blacks on film, women and particularly women of color, Native Americans — I mean, we just don’t have enough representation. And also these categories like ‘white’ and ‘nonwhite’ — they’re imagined classifications but have real-life consequences."

    Elsewhere in film ...

    The Incredibles 2 debuts new footage: Disney debuted scenes from the upcoming film during the Olympics last night. Bob Odenkirk fans will be happy. Watch.

    The Last Men in Aleppo team can't come to the Oscars: The Syrian government has refused to expedite the travel visa process for producer Kareem Abeed and White Helmets founding member Mahmoud Al-Hattar, who is featured in the film. Director Feras Fayyad's explanation: "Kareem, my producer and fellow nominee, cannot come to the U.S. because of the Trump travel ban. Barring a miracle, he will not be at the Oscars with me."

    Amy Schumer's I Feel Pretty moves: STX is bumping the movie up to April 27 from June 29, citing a positive reception to the trailer.

    The Orchard, MoviePass give American Animals a release date: The Sundance acquisition will hit theaters June 1.

    ^#MeToo: Hollywood guilds grapple with how to represent accuser and accused. Jonathan Handel writes:

    Only the SAG-AFTRA code says that members can be disciplined for harassment. It implies that the union might find itself occasionally wearing three hats as it serves as judge of a complaint by one member against another and concurrently represents both accuser and accused.

    Those tri-cornered situations may require the union to firewall staff members from each other to ameliorate the conflict of interest. The whole thing could be extremely awkward, especially if the accused is a high-profile actor — the kind the union often relies on for leverage during collective bargaining. Read more.

    News out of Berlin ...

    Gus Van Sant: The director, who'll be at the festival with Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot, talks about his latest work, his penchant for acting and the avalanche of accusations hitting Hollywood: "a really polarizing moment." Q&A.

    Berlin market strategy: International buyers are thinking small. Intimate relationship dramas, real-life stories and female-driven projects are high on the list of targets as dealmakers sour on pricey tentpoles and shallow genre fare, writes Scott Roxborough.

    Berlin says no to having a #MeToo red carpet: The festival rejected a call to replace the traditional red carpet with a black one and put the #MeToo movement at the center of Thursday's opening night gala. “We made a conscious decision not to engage in symbolic politics to delve deeper into the #MeToo discourse with our festival program, deeper than our carpet allows,” says festival director Dieter Kosslick.

    Dev Patel is doing an Armando Iannucci movie: The Lion actor has landed a role in the Veep creator's take on Charles Dickens' The Personal History of David Copperfield.

    Josh Hutcherson and Suki Waterhouse get a thriller: Waterhouse's hot steak continues — she and the Hunger Games alum will star in Plume, the drama revolving around a gas-station robbery.

    Henry Rollins returns for horror sequel: He'll reprise his role as the immortal, cannibalistic loner Jack in He Never Dies 2.

    Isabelle Huppert, Greg Kinnear take A Family Vacation: The duo will star in the new film from director Ira Sachs (Little Men, Love Is Strange).

    First look: See Robert Pattinson in Claire Denis' English-language debut High Life here.

    Extra! The Berlin Film Fest daily newspaper has arrived. For industry insiders, there's 62 pages of deals, news, exec interviews and reviews along with a screening guide and a look back at how Wes Anderson's 2005 film Life Aquatic almost sank Berlin. Download here.

  • Ryan Murphy Chatter

    Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

    The industry is still absorbing the news of Ryan Murphy's $300 million defection to Netflix. Lesley Goldberg writes:

    FX CEO John Landgraf, hours after the move, weighed in with a reminder that his network still has a deep bench of talent: "FX has a very successful track record of identifying and developing talented writers who have produced award-winning hit shows and it will continue to do so. The network has an outstanding slate of development, and FX Productions has the finest roster of producers in our history. We will continue to provide creative freedom and support for artists of all backgrounds to tell diverse stories and do their best work.” Read more.

    Dana Walden's take: The Fox TV co-president told The New York Times, "What Ted [Sarandos] did was extremely disruptive and sent a message to the entire talent community: These old deals that seemed incredibly lucrative at the time, there’s a new template in town. For any uber-premium creator, the value has gone up 10 times. And Ryan is a once-in-a-lifetime creator."

    Murphy really loves of Netflix: According to Walden, "All Ryan has watched for the last year has been Netflix. He loves their Y.A. series, he loves their documentaries, he watched The OA and loved it, he loved 13 Reasons Why, he admires the brand, the programming."

    WSJ: "There is speculation from people close to [Walden] that she may opt to join Mr. Murphy’s production business."

    L.A. Times: "Only producers Greg Berlanti, Rhimes and Steven Moffat are responsible for more hours of scripted dramas than Murphy," the paper reports.

    James Poniewozik: "Murphy was, in a way, the Netflix-iest of producers to begin with," the Times TV critic points out. "He’d made everything from a broadcast network sitcom (The New Normal) to an action show (9-1-1) to a marquee cable drama (Feud) to an HBO film (The Normal Heart)."

    Meanwhile at the Olympics ...

    Shaun White controversy continues: After dismissing sexual harassment claims against him as "garbage," his accuser's lawyer slammed the Olympic snowboarder, saying he "minimized the problem of sexual harassment in this country" and tried to "impugn the character" of his client.

    White's apology: "I am truly sorry that I chose the word 'gossip.' It was a poor choice of words to describe such a sensitive subject in the world today," he told Today's Savannah Guthrie. "I was so overwhelmed and just wanted to talk about how amazing today was and share my experience." Full story.

    Bode Miller messes up, too: On his second day of announcing at the Olympics, skier and NBC commentator Bode Miller apologized for an on-air comment that suggested that a female skier's changed performance might be due to her recent marriage. "On Valentine’s Day, I did not mean to throw spouses under the bus," Miller said, "and I’m going to be hearing it from my wife, I know.”

    Critic's Notebook: Winter Olympics confusion forces NBC to do a lot of explaining, writes Daniel Fienberg.  Sometimes viewers don't listen — and sometimes things get lost in the shuffle. Read more.

    Is this "The Out Olympics"? From The Atlantic: "Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy show the entertainment value, and political power, of gay people embracing full visibility."

    Johnny Weir's style: It's turning the Olympics into must-see fashion TV, Sam Reed writes: "The past few days in Pyeonchang alone, Weir has served up looks, including leather Acne Studios pants, styled with Christian Louboutin shoes (naturally) and a full-on pompadour hairstyle."

    Moulin Rouge! mania: Thanks to the movie soundtrack's apparent popularity among ice dancers, the album has suddenly shot up to the fourth-best-selling soundtrack on iTunes (and 15th overall).

    Scott Baio saga continues ...

    New accuser: Charles in Charge star Alexander Polinsky, who played Nicole Eggert's brother on the sitcom, is alleging child abuse and sexual harassment. "I was sexually harassed by Scott Baio and ultimately assaulted by him between the ages of 12 to 15 years old," he said, with Eggert by his side.

    Baio's team calls it a "media witch hunt": "When you see a circumstance played out in a gigantic media tour, you have to speculate if the media itself is part of the goal," said spokesperson Brian Glicklich.

    Elsewhere in TV ...

    The CW brings back Sundays: With a network record nine new projects in the works for the 2018-19 broadcast season, the rationale for the extra orders is coming into focus. Beginning next season, Mark Pedowitz's younger-skewing broadcast net will expand originals to six nights a week when it launches scripted (or unscripted) fare on Sundays. The new schedule will launch in October.

    YouTube TV adds Turner channels, raises price: The service will now cost $40 as it adds channels including CNN, TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network to its skinny bundle.

    From Justice League to True Detective: Ray Fisher, perhaps better known as Cyborg from that last D.C. flick, will play the son of Mahershala Ali in the HBO show's third season.

    Nude zombies? Sure: Walking Dead boss Greg Nicotero teases to EW that the upcoming season will feature the show's first "fully nude" zombie.

    Julia Louis-Dreyfus is "ready to rock" after surgery: “Hoorah! Great doctors, great results, feeling happy and ready to rock after surgery," tweeted the Veep star, who's been battling breast cancer. "Hey cancer, ‘F— you!'"

    ^Netflix's Bela Bajaria on talk show plans and potential live shows. The vp content opens up to Lacey Rose about her global push and the possibility of venturing into live competition shows:

    Chelsea Handler was the service's guinea pig with her weekly talk show. What did you learn?

    We learned some logistical things, like how you turn a talk show around that quickly and globally, and a lot about social. I wasn't there for that first year where there was the [mindset of], "Oh, we don't put clips out," but we learned if you want to be part of the conversation, you have to put those out [on YouTube and other social platforms]. Full Q&A.

    Pickups, renewals, cancellations ... 


    Kenya Barris pilot picked up: The network handed a comedy pilot order to Bright Futures, a single-camera comedy from the Black-ish creator that was originally developed at ABC. (ABC still has his other pilot season entry, an untitled family comedy that once had Alec Baldwin attached.)

    Midnight, Texas renewed: The supernatural drama will return for a second season, but with new some changes — producers Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder will replace Monica Owusu-Breen as showrunners.


    Lena Waithe's Twenties: TBS is entering the Lena Waithe business. The network is giving a pilot order to her long-gestating comedy project (and former YouTube series) Twenties, about a queer black woman's experiences growing up.


    A Marie Kondo show: The organization/joy guru will produce and star in an unscripted series that follows her as she transforms the homes (and lives) of people who are at a crossroads. There's no title yet, but Netflix is giving it an eight-episode first season.

    Grace and Frankie renewed: Not only is it getting a fifth season, but it'll bring on RuPaul as a guest-star.  

    Disjointed canceled: The Kathy Bates-starring pot comedy from Chuck Lorre has been rolled up after just one season.


    Emma Roberts' Betches: The actress is exec-producing and voicing an animated series based on the online humor brand. Logline: "An irreverent show about three millennial women navigating their 20s in New York, calling shit out as they see it and daring to say out loud what everyone is already thinking."

  • Iovine's Art Splash

    Courtesy of © Museum Associates/LACMA; Rebecca Sapp/WireImage

    Apple's Jimmy Iovine is becoming a presence in the L.A. art scene: He and his wife, Liberty Ross, are donating a painting by global superstar Mark Bradford to LACMA. Degen Pener writes:

    "It completely inspires me, the way some of the great music I love has inspired me. I just thought this needs to be out there and seen," says Iovine of the nearly 20-foot-tall work. While neither LACMA nor Iovine would comment on the dollar value, large-scale works by Bradford recently have sold in the $3 million to $5 million range at auction.

    "David [Geffen] got me into art collecting about six years ago," adds Iovine, who also counts friend Peter Morton as an informal adviser and often works with Sotheby's vp private sales Jackie Wachter on growing his collection. "I must admit it's addicting." Full story.

    What else we're reading ...

    — "Neither Hulu nor Netflix nor Spotify, YouTube Red is having an identity crisis." Sahil Patel writes: "According to five media executives that oversee multiple high-performing channels on YouTube, YouTube Red subscription revenues are scant compared to the money they can make from advertising." [Digiday]

    — "Tech luminary Peter Thiel parts ways with Silicon Valley." He's coming to Los Angeles. [Wall Street Journal]

    — "The arrival of Timothee Chalamet." Daniel Riley profiles the actor: "He has the body of a kid raised in New York, stovepiped like a Stroke, the sort of frame that's forged in high schools without football teams." [GQ]

    — "How the studio behind Early Man is keeping it old-school in a digital world." Kate Samuelson writes "The studio hasn’t strayed from the painstakingly slow stop-motion tradition that propelled it to fame in the 1980s." [Time]

    — "Why feminism needed Beyonce." Brittney Cooper writes: "One of feminism’s biggest failures is its failure to insist that feminism is, first and foremost, about truly, deeply, and unapologetically loving women." [Cosmopolitan]

    —  "Everything you've ever wanted to know about the Olympic figure-skating costumes." Lisa Ryan talks to two famed skating designers to answer all your questions. [The Cut]

    — "Is Justin Timberlake's album a success?" Andrew Gruttadaro tries to formulate an objective answer. [The Ringer]

    What else we're seeing ...

    + "Charles Barkley on mean tweets, Eagles win, Lakers & marijuana." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Heroes of The 15:17 to Paris interview." [Daily Show]

    + "Roseanne Barr on Donald Trump: 'We're lucky to have him as a president; he's great for comedy." [THR]

    What else we're hearing ...

    + "Jack Viertel: The secret life of the American musical." The theatrical producer talks history and influence of theatre. [The Treatment / KCRW]

    + "Million Dollar Baby with Riki Lindhome." The actress chats about her experience on the set of the Clint Eastwood film. [I Was There Too / Earwolf]

    + "The inside story of The Wire." Richard Deitsch interviews author Jonathan Abrams about his new book on the HBO show. [SI Media Podcast

    Today's birthdays: Amber Riley, 32, Miranda July, 44, Omarosa Manigault, 45, Alex Borstein, 47, Delilah, 58, Matt Groening, 64, Jane Seymour, 67.