What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:15 AM 2/22/2018

by Ray Rahman

Screengrab/CNN

What's news: CNN held an emotional town hall where students took on politicians on live TV. Plus: Meryl Streep objects to the use of her name in a Harvey Weinstein statement, studios gamble their potential duds on Netflix and the #MeToo movement fails to reach the Teamster community. — Ray Rahman

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  • Meryl vs. Harvey

    Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

    Another day, another round of Weinstein drama... 

    Streep vs. Weinstein: Meryl Streep is firing back at Harvey Weinstein after the disgraced film mogul's lawyers used her name and one of her statements in an attempt to dismiss a sexual misconduct lawsuit against him.

    Her statement: "Harvey Weinstein’s attorneys’ use of my (true) statement — that he was not sexually transgressive or physically abusive in our business relationship — as evidence that he was not abusive with many OTHER women is pathetic and exploitive...." Read more.

    David Glasser's fight: Ousted just a week ago from his position as TWC president and COO, Glasser is planning an $85 million suit against the company and its board members for wrongful termination, retaliation, breach of contract and defamation. His attorney says he aims to prove that it was TWC's board of directors that failed to stop Harvey Weinstein's abusive workplace behavior.

    Could a sale be salvaged? It may not be dead, writes Pamela McClintock: Maria Contreras-Sweet and Ron Burkle met with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and 10 of his lawyers Wednesday to talk about a revamped company, with a particular focus on the issue of a victims' fund. Sources on both sides say that "progress was made" and that the discussions were productive.

    Another speed bump: Canadian distributor eOne has appeared in court and is demanding that a California federal judge effectively place a lien on TWC company to ensure that assets are not dissipated. It all stems from a $7.2 million balance eOne says TWC owes for Paddington 2.

    Problems at Disney...

    Thomas Schumacher accused: The veteran studio executive behind multimillion-dollar stage productions of The Lion King, Aladdin and the soon-to-open Frozen has been accused of workplace sexual misconduct and harassment. The report comes from The Wall Street Journal, which spoke with former employees who described Schumacher's use of inappropriate language, unwanted advances and lewd remarks about their appearance.

    Copyright misuse: A California federal judge has denied Disney's motion for a preliminary injunction that would have enjoined Redbox from selling movie download codes separate from its Blu-ray combo packs. Even worse for Disney is the fact that in rejecting the injunction bid, the judge came to the conclusion that Disney is leveraging its copyright monopoly beyond the scope of its rights.

    Not a problem for Disney? Black Panther, weekend 2...

    Box-office preview: Guess who'll win! You guessed right: Black Panther is projected to earn anywhere from $90 million to north of $100 million in its second outing, more than enough to win the weekend. Game Night is tracking to follow with $12M to $14M, while Annihilation is looking at $10M to $12M. The female-targeted Every Day will settle for something in the $3M range.

    + What's next for the Black Panther cast? Michael B. Jordan is starring alongside Michael Shannon and Sofia Boutella in the HBO adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 this spring, and is currently working on Netflix's superhero family drama Raising Dion. Letitia Wright, meanwhile, will return as Shuri in May's Avengers: Infinity War, but she’s also set to star in the highly anticipated Ready Player One from Steven Spielberg, opening March 29. See the rest.

    + A village called Wauconda: It's in Illinois, and it's been getting a lot of unusual attention in the wake of Black Panther's release. "At first, I was like, is there a full moon out?" says an assistant to the mayor. "Someone called and asked how we pronounced the village name and when I told him, he began yelling, 'Wakanda forever!' which I am guessing is from the film." Full story.

    New study says...

    Downward trend: Despite hits like Wonder Woman and Girls Trip, female representation onscreen actually dropped last year. According to SDSU's Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, females comprised 24 percent of protagonists featured in the 100 top domestic grossing films of 2017, a decline of 5 percent from 2016.

    The Netflix gamble...

    Hollywood's new dilemma: Gamble at the box office or sell to Netflix? Mid-budget titles that would've been theatrical fare in years past are going direct to streaming as studios minimize risk, write Tatiana Siegel and Borys Kit — but is it worth it?

    The Cloverfield Paradox paradox: How would Paradox have performed at the box office if Paramount had stuck with a theatrical release? That's impossible to say definitively. If viewers who checked out the film during its first three days online had shown up at the box office at the average 2017 price of $8.97, it would have had a debut of more than $25 million (Netflix paid the studio $50 for it). But that's a big "if."

    One film exec's opinion: "This will hurt the studios in the long run." Read more.

    Elsewhere in film...

    Jurassic World 3 is coming: The second one is still four months away from release, but Universal is already laying down track for the third. The studio has set a June 11, 2021, release date for the film, which will be penned by Emily Carmichael (Pacific Rim) along with Colin Trevorrow.

    Lupita Nyong'o will headline Trevor Noah's Born a Crime: She'll star in the adaptation of the Daily Show host's memoir, which weaves the story of his childhood in South Africa during apartheid. Nyong'o will play Noah's mother, who, as those who've read the book know, is the central figure in the story — bigger than Noah himself.

    Rebel Wilson's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels remake gets a new name, release: The movie, co-starring Anne Hathaway, will now be called The Hustle, Wilson says. The movie will hit theaters June 29 (up from Aug. 10).

    The Duplass Brothers head to Netflix: Indie stalwarts Jay and Mark Duplass have signed a four-movie deal with the streamer, starting with an untitled project starring Ray Romano to be released later this year.

    Kareem's column...

    Race and redemption in Three BillboardsThere's been a fair amount of backlash to the film, but Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sees it a different way: focusing on how the Oscar-nominated movie trivializes racist police brutality misses its bigger message, he writes. Full column.

  • CNN's Town Hall

    Screengrab/CNN

    If you haven't heard, CNN held a town hall last night...

    What happened: A lot. Students and parents of victims from Stoneman Douglas took Marco Rubio, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch and Donald Trump (not in attendance) to task on live TV during a Jake Tapper-moderated town hall. It got intense, with the crowd quick to boo forcefully at answers it didn't like.

    Rubio gets hammered: "Your comments, and those of our president's, have been pathetically weak," Fred Guttenberg, whose child died in the shooting, told the senator. "Look at me and tell me you will do something about guns." Watch. Rubio also got grilled by a 17-year-old student about accepting NRA donations. Watch that, too.

    Critic's notebook: "A profoundly moving and powerful televised event," writes Frank Scheck. Read more.

    Meanwhile at YouTube...

    Conspiracy video: YouTube came under fire for promoting a false conspiracy video at the top of its Trending tab that suggested one of the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting is an actor. The video, titled "David Hogg the Actor," became the No. 1 trending video on the site, racking up a reported 200,000 views.

    The quick fix: YouTube removed the video from the site and said the system misclassified it because the video featured footage from an "authoritative news source."

    The bigger problem: The site came under similar scrutiny last October after the Las Vegas shooting, when several conspiracy theory videos and fake news clips started showing up at the top of search results. At the time, YouTube said it was making changes to its algorithm that would give search result priority to videos from mainstream news outlets and other verified sources.

    The backstory: "I just noticed it started to take off," the person who uploaded the video tells the New York Times. It's a strange read.

    CBS's new initiative...

    Eye Speak: That's the name of CBS Corp.'s new female-empowerment program, designed to forge a path of growth and opportunity for women at CBS and the industry at large. It all kicks off March 14 with an L.A. event featuring Maria Bello, Gina Rodriguez, Sonequa Martin-Green and more. 

    Wendy Williams health news...

    Hiatus: The talk-show host announced that she's taking a breaking from The Wendy Williams Show because of her diagnosis with Graves’ disease. "My doctor has prescribed — are you ready? — as of today, three weeks of vacation," Williams said on her show. "What? Who are you? I was pissed. I’ll be back in two. I’m not an heiress. Who is going to pay my bills? Are you serious? I’m just saying, I come from working class."

    David Cross stands by Jeffrey Tambor...

    And he says the Arrested Development cast does, too: “I can’t speak for everybody, but I know there are a number of us who stand behind him — from the limited amount we know, we stand behind Jeffrey — and I am one of them,” Cross says. The Netflix show is set to return for a fifth season with its original cast, including Tambor (unless Netflix changes its mind).

    E!'s new red carpet...

    Frances Berwick tells all: The E! and Bravo chief talks to Marisa Guthrie about the future of the Kardashian franchise, the Catt Sadler salary controversy and why Bravo said no to a Queer Eye reboot: "With the original version, we felt we had captured lightning in a bottle with the cast and at that moment in time. We didn't feel that could be re-created."

    As for E's red-carpet coverage: "E! moved quickly to understand where the general movement was going. But it's a balance. Is there a place for fashion on the red carpet? Absolutely. Should the conversation be about the creative endeavor of why these people are at this awards show? Yes. But the audience still wants to hear something about the fashion or at least to be able to see the fashion." Full Q&A.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Former MSNBC anchor Dylan Ratigan is running for Congress: He announced yesterday that he's running in New York's 21st district as a Democrat, hoping to unseat the incumbent Republican (if Ratigan makes it past the primary, that is). 

    Roku growth: In its quarterly earnings report yesterday, the company announced that its number of active accounts grew 44 percent to 19.3 million, while streaming hours went up 55 percent to 4.3 billion.

    ► HBO is opening a Westworld replica in Austin, Texas, during SXSW: Although, really, Austin during SXSW could easily be confused for a Westworld replica even without HBO's publicity stunt

    Ray Liotta is heading to Springfield: The Goodfellas (or, if you prefer, Shades of Blue) icon will voice Morty Szyslak, the father of Moe the bartender on an April episode of The Simpsons. EW has the first look at him.

    Alex Trebek, debate moderator? Indeed: The longtime Jeopardy! host will moderate a Pennsylvania gubernatorial debate this fall.

    Development news...

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge's next project: The Fleabag star, along with her producing partner Vicky Jones, is developing a new series, Run, with Entertainment One. Waller-Bridge will have a recurring role on the series, which is described as part romantic comedy, part thriller that centers on ex-lovers who made a pact to disappear together.

    Stephanie Allain's Black Fortunes: The Dear White People producer plans to develop Black Fortunes, a book about former slaves who became the country's first black millionaires, into a limited series.

    Renewals and pickups...

    NBC renews Superstore: The America Ferrera-starring comedy is getting a full 22-episode fourth season. It was an easy decision: In its third season, Superstore has grown 6 percent (1.7) year-over-year in the 18-49 demo and 3 percent (5.2 million) among total viewers.

    And America's Got Talent: The show will return to NBC for a 13th season this summer with its host and roster of judges all on board.

    CBS lands Damon Wayans Jr.: One of pilot season's most sought after actors will topline an untitled CBS comedy pilot that centers on a 30-something couple who, bored with their mundane life, rediscover their youth when an emerging pop star moves in with them. Wayans will play half the couple; his wife and the pop star have yet to be cast.

    HBO renews Crashing, High Maintenance: Both comedies have been picked up for a third season.

    The CW nabs a BuzzFeed star: Comedian Quinta Brunson, one of BuzzFeed's most prominent talents, will co-star in the CW dramedy pilot The End of the World as We Know It, which "explores what happens when a prison spaceship carrying the universe's most deadly aliens crashes in Southern California."

    The M*A*S*H finale turns 35...

    Oral history: Thirty-five years after the CBS military comedy ended its 11-season run, the cast and creators look back on one of the most beloved shows in TV history. "We wanted to reflect the lives of those people who lived through an experience that would rattle anybody," says Alan Alda. "There never was a situation like that on television before." Full story.

  • Does #MeToo Matter in the Teamsters?

    Sally Peterson

    Two trucker sisters are taking on the "boys club." Gary Baum and Rebecca Sun write: 

    If #MeToo is supposed to be a broad, all-inclusive movement, it seems no one told the truckers. Exhibit A: The tight-knit, male-dominated Teamster community, where twin drivers Brita McCollough and Brenda Ryan, longtime would-be whistle-blowers, have spent more than two decades fruitlessly agitating against systemic gender injustice.

    History of abuse: While the twins were employed on 1994's True Lies, their boss called them over in front of eight to 10 other drivers to visually determine which one had kids "by their thigh gap," according to Ryan. "I left crying, because here I thought I was part of a team. I couldn't tell anyone because I just got in the union and needed health insurance because my youngest was in and out of the hospital with a liver disease." (Months later, her child died.)

    Broken culture: "It's a degrading business for a woman," says longtime driver Linda Draves. "They call me 'Double-D' because my breasts are large." Colleague Lysa Darden says she has been sexually assaulted on the job. "I had my breast grabbed in front of three witnesses," she notes. "I never filed a grievance, because there's no redress." Full story.

    #MeToo slowly trickles down "below the line." Female crewmembers who have been subject to the same harassment as talent say there's a long way to go, but attitudes are changing: "There's a tremendous number of guilty, fearful people." Read more.

    What else we're reading...

    — "We are in an information crisis." Joshua Topolsky writes: "There is a path out of this mess, but it has to begin with the largest technology companies in the world accepting that their algorithms really don't understand the value of information." [The Outline]

    — "Laurie Metcalf was hiding in plain sight." Willa Paskin profiles the Oscar-season favorite: "A unicorn, a monster, a phoenix, a machine, a heavyweight fighter, an astronaut, a superhero, a thoroughbred, a home-run hitter, a waitress juggling '16 entrees, 42 starters, 16 desserts,' a jazz virtuoso, LeBron James, Magellan, Snuffleupagus. Laurie Metcalf has been compared to all of these things." [NYT Magazine]

    — "The first great movie of the Trump era." Jada Yuan and Hunter Harris put together a pretty comprehensive oral history of Jordan Peele's Get Out. [Vulture]

    — "Oscar Isaac on the most turbulent year of his life." The Annihilation actor's cover interview with Zach Baron. [GQ Style]

    — "Daniel Radcliffe on Hollywood's bad actors and the rise of white supremacy under Trump." The actor has a lot to say. [Daily Beast]

    — "How an Oscar and a sex scandal rattled Gloria Grahame's career." Joey Nolfi writes: "At 29, she was already two divorces deep into a turbulent romantic life: one from allegedly abusive actor Stanley Clements, the other from boozy Rebel Without a Cause director Nicholas Ray." [EW]

    — "Netflix's Nailed It takes a humorous approach to baking competitions." Greg Morabito evaluates "a cooking show about less-than-perfect bakers." [Eater]

    — "Does the incredibly hot food guy from Queer Eye even know how to cook?" A very important investigation into the show's resident guacamole proponent. [Junkee]

    — "The Bachelor universe is officially limitless." Rodger Sherman writes: "Over the past two weeks, the spinoff Winter Games has proved that the guilty-pleasure reality show can be adapted to literally any setting." [The Ringer]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "J.J. Abrams has the script for Star Wars: Episode IX." [Late Show

    + "Jason Bateman on first talk show experience." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Allison Janney met Princess Kate while barefoot." [Late Late Show]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Black Panther's brilliant costume designer tells us how to make a supersuit." Ruth Carter reveals her secrets. [I Think You're Interesting/Vox]

    + "Wakanda Forever." More Black Panther discussion! [Keep It/Crooked Media]

    From the archives...

    Today in 1934: THR's review of It Happened One Night"Well, another swell, bang-up grand picture has dropped in our midst. The thing gallops right along, kicking up its heels in cheerful, frisky joie de vivre, and the audience gallops right along with it. There's not a dull moment, in spite of the fact that it runs a good two hours." Full review.

    Today's Birthdays: Dichen Lachman, 36, Drew Barrymore, 43, Thomas Jane, 49, Clinton Kelly, 49, Paul Lieberstein, 51, Rachel Dratch, 52, Kyle MacLachlan, 59, Nicholas Pileggi, 85.