What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:19 AM 2/24/2018

by Ray Rahman

Jennifer Lawrence and Catt Sadler - Split - Getty - H 2018
Left, Vera Anderson, right, Tommaso Boddi, both Getty Images

The Weekender: Tesla may be falling behind in the luxury electric car race. Plus: Where the Oscar race stands now, Jennifer Lawrence and Catt Sadler plan a #MeToo docuseries, Veena Sud comes back from The Killing and Brendan Fraser's sexual assault claim gets investigated. — Ray Rahman

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  • Is Tesla Falling Behind?

    Weekend Read: Complaints of delays and poor quality on the Model 3 may deter brand fans as Porsche, Jaguar and Mercedes race to muscle into the electric auto market. Jon Alain Guzik writes: 

    Something's awry when the usually tight-lipped Tesla — the leader in the luxury-electric auto market — goes to the trouble of refuting media stories. On Jan. 25, the Elon Musk company pushed back against a report citing its new Model 3 four-door sedan for poor quality and production target woes.

    The Model 3 — with a 220- to 335-mile range — is positioned as the everyman's Tesla with a starting price of $35,000 (compared with $74,500 for the Model S, owned by Cameron Diaz, Robert Redford and Mark Ruffalo, and $79,500 for the Model X, a vehicle of choice for Will Ferrell and Snoop Dogg).

    For CEO Musk, the stakes are high: His new contract, announced Jan. 23, lays out performance milestones that would pay him $55 billion if, among other things, he increases Tesla's market cap to $650 billion within 10 years, a huge jump from today's $54 billion valuation. Read more.

    + The $200,000+ SUV craze: New ultra-luxury offerings from the likes of Lamborghini, Rolls-Royce and Bentley are hitting the market as sales of "curb-scraping" sedans decline, and the likes of Mary J. Blige, Trevor Noah, Diane Keaton and Arnold Schwarzenegger are buying in. Full story.

  • Dressed to Kill

    Costume drama: How did Red Sparrow's costume designer dress Jennifer Lawrence for espionage and seduction? Whitney Friedlander writes:

    With such credits as The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, it’s obvious costume designer Trish Summerville has proved her knack for creating wardrobes of women warriors.

    “I’ve been lucky to work with directors who work really well with strong female characters,” says the two-time Costume Designers Guild award winner. Creating costumes for Red Sparrow, out March 2 — based on Jason Matthews’ novel about a Russian ballerina pulled into espionage — meant reteaming with Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence and star Jennifer Lawrence.

    For Sparrow, Summerville used a wintry palette of blacks, camels and wines mixed with ’70s-style A-line skirts, berets and turtlenecks, allowing the actress’s Dominika to look chic while hiding her motives. Working with production designer Maria Djurkovic and studying street fashion in Budapest and Vienna led to costumes that, Summerville says, “could be a bit timeless” and had an ambiguous location. Read more.

    + Jennifer Lawrence and Catt Sadler are prepping a #MeToo, Time's Up movement TV docuseries. Although you're not supposed to know that, writes Chris Gardner:

    During a stop at women's workspace The Wing in New York City on Friday, Jennifer Lawrence — speaking to The Wing co-founder Audrey Gelman promoting her new film for 20th Century Fox — let it slip that she has partnered with former E! News anchor Catt Sadler on a series project. When asked to elaborate, Lawrence declined further comment, offering only, "I wasn't supposed to announce that but I am."

    One source says Lawrence and Sadler are developing a series inspired by #MeToo, Time's Up and gender wage gap conversations in Hollywood. Further, the source continued that the pair are looking to take a deep dive into issues facing women today and have brought Stephanie Soechtig into the mix to direct. Read more.

    ^Auteur theory: Does Annihilation suggest an auteur in the making? The ambition of director Alex Garland's latest vastly exceeds that of Ex Machina, writes Josh Spiegel:

    After years of working solely as a writer (both a novelist and screenwriter), Alex Garland shifted into being a director in 2015 with his debut feature, Ex Machina, a chilly morality tale about how two men exploit the technology of artificial intelligence to subjugate women.

    The film received plaudits and decent box office; while other filmmakers would use success in an independent genre piece to step into the world of big-budget blockbusters, Garland has instead continued to follow in the footsteps of more auteurist filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick with his second directorial effort, the disturbing Annihilation.

    Ex Machina and Annihilation have some similarities in the broad strokes; both are moody sci-fi films with splashes of blood and horror, both are inspired in some respect by seminal examples of the genre from decades past, and both feature striking production design and special effects that conjure up unforgettable images. Read more.

    In other film news...

    ? HFPA investigating Brendan Fraser's sexual assault claim against former president: In his candid interview with GQ this week, the actor alleged that former HFPA president Philip Berk sexually assaulted him, which led to his disappearance from the spotlight. “His left hand reaches around, grabs my ass cheek, and one of his fingers touches me in the taint. And he starts moving it around,” Fraser revealed to the publication. "I felt ill. I felt like a little kid. I felt like there was a ball in my throat. I thought I was going to cry. I felt like someone had thrown invisible paint on me."

    + HFPA response: "The HFPA stands firmly against sexual harassment and the type of behavior described in this article. Over the years we’ve continued a positive working relationship with Brendan, which includes announcing Golden Globe nominees, attending the ceremony and participating in press conferences. This report includes alleged information that the HFPA was previously unaware of and at this time we are investigating further details surrounding the incident." Full story.

    ? Harvey Weinstein is living it up in exile: Per the Los Angeles Times: "Weinstein is no longer part of the glamorous Hollywood inner circle but his exile is indisputably expensive, consisting of high-end hideaways, posh restaurants and even hypnotherapy sessions."

    Where he's living: According to the report, he's been residing temporarily in "a luxury apartment complex in nearby Scottsdale" described as "a modern, multi-building facility with colorfully painted exteriors and balconies featuring hanging foliage. ... The complex offers amenities including an indoor lap pool, a 24-hour gym with an indoor basketball court, spas and concierge service."

    + David Mamet says he's writing a play about Harvey Weinstein: "I was talking with my Broadway producer, and he said, 'Why don’t you write a play about Harvey Weinstein?' And so I did," Mamet said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. "Every society has to confront the ungovernable genie of sexuality and tries various ways to deal with it, and none of them work very well."

    ? Octavia Spencer, Tig Notaro team up with Mark Wahlberg: Spencer and Notaro, along with Iliza Shlesinger, have all joined the cast of Paramount's comedy Instant Family, starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as a couple who adopt three "wild kids" through the foster-care system.

    Feinberg Forecast: A mid-voting read of the Oscar race. The ceremony is just a week away. What do the standings look like right now? Find out. I Quiz: How well do you know the nominees?


  • Veena Sud's Comeback

    Lesson learned: How The Killing backlash influenced Veena Sud and her new Netflix drama. The showrunner talks with THR about how the divisive season one finale played a role in the anthology-style format of Seven Seconds, her new Regina King starrer.

    Still expecting a mea culpa from Veena Sud about The Killing? Don't hold your breath.

    "I was saddened and surprised by some of the reaction, especially on social media," Sud when asked to reflect, six and a half years later, on the show's divisive season one finale. "Look, at the end of the day, creators make artistic choices. That's what we do. What I learned, though, [is that] when you're a woman creator and you make a choice that may not be popular, the endless demand for public apology is something that male creators don't go through."

    Certainly, Sud is hoping for a less-critical reaction to her forthcoming Netflix series Seven Seconds, her first since The Killing signed off after moving from AMC to Netflix in 2014. Read more.

    In other TV news...

    ? InfoWars in hot water: The YouTube channel run by far-right Infowars leader Alex Jones has received a "strike" against it from the video site after posting a conspiracy-theory video about the Stoneman Douglas shooting. YouTube has a three-strikes policy if it happens with the space of three months.

    ? Roselyn Sanchez reunites with Eva Longoria: Sanchez has been tapped as the female lead in the ABC drama pilot Grand Hotel, produced by her former Devious Maids producers/co-star Longoria.

    ? Walking Dead retrospective: Looking back at Carl's best moments. Chandler Riggs' character is set to die in tomorrow's midseason premiere of the AMC show. Take a trip down memory lane to revisit his most memorable scenes.

  • Versace at Milan

    Style queen: Donatella Versace gives fashion's '80s trend the royal treatment at Milan Fashion Week, writes Booth Moore:

    If there is anyone who should be laying claim to the 1980s trend that is sweeping the runways this season, it’s Donatella Versace. After all, her brother Gianni was one of the chief architects of the powerfully sexy look that defined the decade and still rings true for many women today (just ask Jennifer Lawrence). 

    With a show set in a royal palace, it was only natural that queen Donatella would nod to Britishness and punk with patchwork tartan blazers and kilts, stretchy bustier tops worn over the season's obligatory logo T-shirts and leather mini skirts, all accessorized with berets covered in cute badges, "Versace" knit footballer scarves, and chunky gold coin jewelry. (Side question, if you are old enough to remember dressing that way the first time around, is it ok to go for round two? Asking for a friend.)

    The famed Versace baroque prints came out to play with the tartans on colorful patch worked ball and bubble skirts, parkas, catsuits and jersey dresses that leave no question what fashion clan you belong to. And although there were some glamazon heels like Donatella herself wears, there was also a Versace take on the nerd-comfy dad sneaker. I only have to wonder if Gianni would approve? Read more.

    Where Hollywood eats: L.A.'s 20 hottest restaurants right now, February 2018 edition. We have a leader, writes Gary Baum:

    1. Majordomo (1725 Naud St.)

    QUICK PITCH David Chang, the man behind the global Momofuku empire and Netflix’s new doc series Ugly Delicious, has elected to open a concept indigenous to L.A. — unlike many Manhattan chefs who simply seek to play their hits for the local audience. His in-your-face yet highly technical cooking is in dialogue with the hardcore flavors of the nearby Koreatown scene.

    INSIDE DISH Brian Grazer, Jon Favreau and Nick Kroll are early arrivals. Bill Simmons can’t stop ordering the smoked bone-in short ribs. See the full list.

    What else we're reading...

    — "The case for and against every Oscar best picture nominee." Todd VanDerWerff writes: "Predicting Best Picture this year is a total mess. We tried to make it less messy." [Vox]

    — "No matter what Rachel McAdams says, she plays for keeps." Dave Itzkoff writes: "The actress, who grew up in Canada’s Ontario province, says she has tried to keep things unpredictable in an industry that can only imagine you as the last character you played." [New York Times]

    — "Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski goes deep on A Little Life." E. Alex Jung interviews the man about those literary t-shirts he keeps wearing. [Vulture]

    — "David Chang is mainstream now." Jaya Saxena writes: "Ugly Delicious shows that after years of railing against the haters, the lauded chef has become the establishment. " [The Outline]

    — "This man helped Peter Thiel demolish Gawker." Ryan Mac writes: "Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel did not come up with the idea to covertly fund lawsuits against Gawker Media. That credit belongs to an Oxford-educated man who Thiel's inner circle calls 'Mr. A.'" [BuzzFeed]

    — "The problem with Broadway revivals: They revive gender stereotypes, too." Michael Paulson assesses the likes of My Fair Lady and Carousel. [New York Times]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Chuck Klosterman: Interview." The writer/critic on whether the politicization of popular culture has gone too far. [I Have to Ask/Slate]

    + "Could Titanic still win best picture today?" A valid question. [Little Gold Men/Vanity Fair]

    Today's Birthdays: O'Shea Jackson Jr., 27, Peaches, 52, Billy Zane, 52, Edward James Olmos, 71.