What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:18 AM 2/16/2018

by Ray Rahman

What's news: Jeffrey Tambor has been removed from Transparent (for real this time). Plus: Universal's marketing department finds itself in chaos, Ronan Farrow's latest report details another Trump affair and Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs charms critics at Berlin. — Ray Rahman

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  • Tambor Out

    Getty Images

    It took three months, but Jeffrey Tambor has officially been dropped from Amazon's Transparent. Lesley Goldberg writes:  

    Amazon confirmed the news Thursday, noting that it had completed its internal investigation into the Emmy-winning actor. Tambor will have no role in the forthcoming season of the Jill Soloway critical darling.

    Soloway says: "I have great respect and admiration for Van Barnes and Trace Lysette, whose courage in speaking out about their experience on Transparent is an example of the leadership this moment in our culture requires. We ... remain heartbroken about the pain and mistrust their experience has generated in our community."

    Tambor begs to differ: "I am profoundly disappointed in Amazon’s handling of these false accusations against me. I am even more disappointed in Jill Soloway’s unfair characterization of me as someone who would ever cause harm to any of my fellow castmates. In our four-year history of working together on this incredible show, these accusations have NEVER been revealed or discussed directly with me or anyone at Amazon ..." Full story.

    NBC replaces Jennifer Salke with ...

    Two people! Drama head Lisa Katz and comedy topper Tracey Pakosta will together serve as co-presidents of scripted programming for the network. The duo, who formerly reported to Salke, will now answer to Bob Greenblatt. Pakosta and Katz will also oversee business affairs on the scripted side, with scripted production now overseen by Universal Television president Pearlena Igbokwe. 

    CBS earnings ...

    Good news: Courtesy of rising licensing and subscription fees, CBS narrowly beat profit expectations by posting $1.15 per share on an adjusted basis in the most recent quarter and exceeded revenue expectations by about $200 million.

    Streaming success: Les Moonves said Showtime's streaming service and CBS All Access now boast nearly 5 million subscribers combined — roughly 2.5 million per service — and that he expects a combined 8 million by 2020. Entertainment Tonight's streaming service comes in the fall, he added.

    Ryan Murphy thoughts: Everyone's got 'em, Moonves included: "Look, Ryan Murphy is an extraordinary talent, one of the greatest creators out there; they offered him hundreds of millions of dollars, he had to take it. But ... Chuck Lorre has three shows on CBS and he also has a couple of shows over on Netflix. So, we have a lot of the talent; there's a lot of room, the landscape does change, but we find new talent and we also continue to be in business with the best talent."

    Playing the Netflix guessing game ...

    First Rhimes, then Murphy — which mega-producer could be next? Lesley Goldberg weighs the odds:

    Greg Berlanti: Sure, he’s not immediately available given that his Warner Bros. deal doesn't expire until June 2020, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be high on Netflix’s wish list. "Greg might be one who you could make a case for because he's so young and has so much ahead of him that he may want to take more control of his destiny," one top showrunner agent says.

    Seth MacFarlane: His deal is up in June 2019. What's more, MacFarlane is already tight with Scott Stuber, who was tapped last March to oversee Netflix's film division, (they worked together on Ted and A Million Ways to Die in the West). A Netflix deal would give MacFarlane the ability to do television, animation and features. See the rest of the list.

    + Speaking of MacFarlane: Family Guy showrunner Rich Appel is re-upping at 20th Century Fox TV with a new overall deal that'll keep him at the soon-to-be Disney-owned company for another three years.

    Ronan Farrow's latest ...

    Another Donald Trump affair? On top of the alleged Stormy Daniels saga, Trump also had an affair with former Playmate of the Year Karen McDougal, Ronan Farrow writes in an article for The New Yorker. And according to the article, it all goes back to a party for The Apprentice

    The affair began after Trump met McDougal at a shindig for the NBC show held at Playboy Mansion in June 2006. At the time, he had been married to Melania for less than two years. McDougal wrote that Trump “immediately took a liking to me, kept talking to me — telling me how beautiful I was etc. It was so obvious that a Playmate Promotions exec said, ‘Wow, he was all over you — I think you could be his next wife'.” Full story.

    Elsewhere in TV ...

    HULU

    Bradley Whitford joins The Handmaid's Tale: The Get Out star and West Wing O.G. will have a major recurring role in season two as Commander Joseph Lawrence, the architect of Gilead's economy. 

    CW

    Julie Plec goes to Roswell: She'll direct the reboot's pilot and will serve as exec producer if the drama moves to series. 

    CBS

    Bokeem Woodbine will topline Main Justice: The Fargo grad is the first to be cast in the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama, based on the life of former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. 

    ABC

    Kat Dennings' next show: It's on ABC. The 2 Broke Girls alum will star in the pilot for an untitled Justin Noble comedy based on the book and blog How May We Hate You.

    NETFLIX

    Guy Pearce will star in a supernatural teen show: It's British, it's called The Innocents and it will feature Pearce as its star alongside Percelle Ascott and Sorcha Groundsell. 

    Speaking of supernatural Netflix teen shows: The streamer's upcoming Sabrina the Teenage Witch drama has added Michelle Gomez and Chance Perdomo to appear opposite Kiernan Shipka in the Riverdale companion series.

    TNT

    Lily Rabe's Deadlier Than the Male goes to series: Described as a morally complex thriller, the series will be overseen by Big Little Lies EP Bruna Papandrea as well as creator Harriet Warner. 

    APPLE

    Carpool Karaoke gets a second season: Les Moonves announced the renewal during his earnings call.

    Everything Sucks!, reviewed. Tim Goodman writes: Netflix's coming-of-age comedy, out today, isn't really funny — and much of it has been done elsewhere (on Netflix, even) — but what works is good enough to give you hope. The takeaway: Cribs from Freak and Geeks and Stranger Things, yet has potential. Full review.

  • Universal Turmoil

    From left to right: Angela weiss, Tommaso Boddi, Stephen Lovekin, all Getty Images

    The studio's marketing department shake-up is not over, Kim Masters writes:

    One day after top execs Jeff Shell and Donna Langley fired marketing executive Seth Byers for “inappropriate conduct” and placed Josh Goldstine, the president of the department, on leave, sources say an investigation is still ongoing and further disciplinary action is likely.

    Another firing? Sources say that in late November, Universal launched an investigation of another marketing-division exec — senior vp creative advertising Scott Abraham. He was terminated for alleged sexual misconduct.

    "That is categorically untrue," Abraham said. "My contract was up and I moved on and have no ill will about Universal." The studio had no comment.

    Culture problem: The department-wide review and mandatory in-person respect-in-the-workplace training is meant to address what one source called the department's "Mad Men atmosphere."

    What's next: Investigators have been brought in from NBCUniversal and parent company Comcast. Goldstine will remain on leave while the inquiry continues, but could face further discipline. Other employees could face reprimands, cuts in their bonuses or more severe action. Full story.

    The Cloverfield ratings ...

    Niesen's (unofficial) numbers are in: And they're OK. The three-day haul for Netflix's surprise Super Bowl night release The Cloverfield Paradox was 2.8 million viewers, roughly one-fourth the size of the audience for Will Smith's Bright. Seven days on the service lifted the audience to 5 million viewers. And, apparently, the night-of audience was 784,579 viewers.

    Less than Bright: By Nielsen's count, the Will Smith movie earned 11 million viewers in its first three days of viewing.

    One caveat: Cloverfield was released late on a Sunday night on the eve of a new work week, while Bright was released on the Friday of a Christmas holiday weekend.

    Black Panther box-office ...

    Overseas numbers: The Marvel movie, which was rolled out midweek in certain markets (including the U.K., Taiwan and Hong Kong), has brought in a big $23.2 million internationally so far. 

    Europe: The film debuted to $3.7 million in the U.K., the biggest single-day gross of the year so far. In France, it turned in $1.6 million and became the top title in Paris. Full breakdown.

    Fifty Shades money...

    Half a billion in profit: That's how much insiders say the female-fueled Fifty Shades franchise will generate in total for Universal, making it one of the studio's most profitable film franchises in recent memory. 

    Elsewhere in film ...

    Robert Pattinson enters The Lighthouse: The actor will join Willem Dafoe in the upcoming fantasy horror film from The Witch writer-director Robert Eggers.

    The latest full Ready Player One trailer is here: It's set to Merethe Soltvedt's cover of "Pure Imagination" from 1971's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Watch.

    The Last Movie Star trailer: Burt Reynolds takes on a meta-role as a former stuntman and movie star who agrees to get feted an amateur film festival in the upcoming A24 title. Watch.

    Jeff Daniels, Aaron Sorkin tackle To Kill a Mockingbird: On Broadway, that is. The play will begin previews Nov. 1 and open Dec. 13.

    Neil LaBute fired: The playright and filmmaker (In the Company of Men) has been terminated from his residency at the top-tier MCC Theater in New York; the reasons are unclear so far. 

    Maze Runner author ditched by publisher: Three Penguin Random House imprints parted ways with Maze Runner franchise author James Dashner, the best-selling YA author who's been accused of sexual misconduct. 

    Straight outta Berlin ...

    Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs opens the festival. David Rooney's review: "Returning to the stop-motion form of Fantastic Mr. Fox, the director delivers an even wilder, more distinctive experience with this thoroughly captivating tale of a 12-year-old Japanese boy's quest to rescue his beloved pet." Takeaway: Four paws up. Full review.

    + The party! Greta Gerwig, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray and others joined Wes Anderson at the star-studded gala for the film. See it here.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger joins Kung Fury: It's a match made in '80s heaven — the action icon will play the American president in the follow-up to David Sandberg's cult short film, which already boasts Michael Fassbender and David Hasselhoff as castmembers. 

    Christopher Walken and Elizabeth Debicki's neo-noir thriller: The pair will star in The Burnt Orange Heresy, director Giuseppe Capotondi's adaptation of the cult novel.

    Scott Eastwood gets a thriller, too: He joins Morgan Freeman in The Manuscript, with Nick Cassavetes (The Notebook) attached to direct. 

    Deals: Saban Films has picked up North American rights to the sci-fi action film Occupation ... Pathe nabs French rights to Paul Verhoeven's Blessed Virgin ... HBO Europe greenlights Hackerville, a German-set cyber-thriller from the Deutschland 83 team.

    First look: Salma Hayek and a bald Alexander Skarsgard! See both in an exclusive image form their upcoming film The Hummingbird Project.

    Extra! The Berlin Film Fest daily newspaper, day 2. For industry insiders, there are 48 pages of deals, news, exec interviews and reviews along with a screening guide and an interview with Rupert Everett on his Oliver Wilde biopic. Download here.

  • South Korea's #MeToo

    Following a number of high-profile cases of sexual misconduct, the country’s entertainment sector is launching multiple initiatives to address the issue head-on. Lee Hyo-won writes:

    While the anti-harassment #MeToo movement has spread globally in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, in South Korea, the entertainment industry has been grappling with the issue for years.

    In 2009, actress Jang Ja-yeon, who was 29 at the time, sent shock waves across the country when she committed suicide, leaving behind a handwritten letter chronicling how her agent forced her to have sex with a string of broadcasters, execs and filmmakers to advance her career. The case prompted a large-scale police probe and had a local impact comparable to the Weinstein scandal. Full story.

    Can China's tech giants restore confidence in Wanda? By buying out investors, Alibaba and Tencent helped save competitor Wang Jianlin from a looming multibillion-dollar bill. Patrick Brzeski writes:

    While the Tencent and Alibaba pacts are unlikely to affect the U.S. assets directly, the votes of confidence from China's two most celebrated tech titans probably will help assuage some of the wilder Hollywood predictions of Wanda's imminent full-fledged meltdown.

    “It allows Wanda to say, ‘We still have association and opportunities with China’s top-tier brands, so things can’t be that terrible,’” says one Beijing-based executive. Read more.

    In other news ...

    Love is real: Amy Schumer secretly got married to chef Chris Fischer over the weekend. Jennifer Lawrence was there, John Early officiated and the photos are all over Schumer's Instagram.  

    Love is dead: Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are separating. In fact, the couple revealed that the decision to split "was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year ..." Details.

    And now for our fifth edition of ...

    ↱The Three-Question Interview: a series of short Q&As with interesting executives and personalities. Next up: Anjali Sud, CEO of Vimeo.

    Vimeo recently scrapped its plan to launch a subscription-based service. Why? Yeah, we decided about four months ago to no longer pursue our own channel. Part of the reason for that was that we didn't think we could be truly differentiated in a market where there are a lot of other players dumping millions of dollars in content, and we didn't think we were solving a problem that others weren't solving.

    So what's the new strategy? Creators first. When we look at the ecosystem for video creators, what we see is that there aren't a lot of platforms out there that are really serving creators first and foremost. There are platforms that are ad-based, like Facebook and YouTube, but creators also need a home where they can get inspired, work on rough cuts, collaborate with their teams. And they need a hub where they can, with one click, distribute those videos everywhere.

    Probably the most well-known thing to come out of Vimeo is High Maintenance, now an HBO show. Did that inspire a surge of people to join Vimeo? I don't know if I would say that, but I would say that what happened with High Maintenance is emblematic of what happens on Vimeo everyday. That was just one of the more high-profile examples. We're working on a lot of ways to help our creators graduate to hopefully getting work, getting discovered, eventually getting to do their own things. It happens even when we don't invest money ourselves in a project.↲

    What else we're reading ...

    — "Streaming video is NBC's fountain of youth." Stephen Battaglio writes: "For the first time, the streaming numbers are being included in the network's total audience figures in prime time, along with coverage on its cable channel NBC Sports Network, and are counted in most of its deals with advertisers." [L.A. Times]

    —  "When bad TV is actually good: Nashville and the opposite of hate-watching." Kristen Baldwin writes: " It’s hard to admit that you like watching something that is, on paper, objectively ridiculous." [EW]

    — "Lin-Manuel Miranda, the next lion of New York." John Leland writes: "Miranda is getting ready for his next act. Fittingly, that is a break from the stage." [New York Times

    — "Tara Lipinski hasn't lost her edge." Katie Baker writes: "Twenty years after she shocked the world by winning gold at Nagano, the figure skating prodigy is still an Olympic star, matching and maybe even transcending her prior profile as part of a captivatingly dynamic broadcast team with Johnny Weir." [The Ringer]

    — "When New York sends people to Los Angeles, they're not sending their best." Ann Friedman writes: "They're bringing entitlement and aggression. They're bringing $14 cocktails." [L.A. Times]

    What else we're seeing ...

    + "Jimmy Kimmel gets emotional during gun-control monologue." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Jordan Klepper calls out NRA." [The Opposition]

    What else we're hearing ...

    + "Black Panther with Ta-Nehisi Coates." The team digs in. [Still Processing / New York Times]

    + "Wesley Snipes on Blade and Black Panther." The actor discusses black superheroes and more with Aisha Harris. [Slate Represent]

    + "Jake Tapper." The CNN host talks to David Axelrod. [The Axe Files]

    Today's birthdays: Elizabeth Olsen, 29, Agyness Deyn, 35, Mahershala Ali, 44, Christopher Eccleston, 54, John McEnroe, 59, Ice-T, 60, LeVar Burton, 61.