What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:22 AM 3/13/2018

by Ray Rahman

Left, Jesse Grant, right, Jon Kopaloff, both Getty Images

What's news: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's company joins the inclusion rider movement. Plus: Nancy Dubuc is poised to be Vice's next chief, the major streamers land big deals and Eddy Cue opens up about Apple's TV strategy. — Ray Rahman

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  • Another Inclusion Rider Win

    Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

    The movement sparked by Frances McDormand's Oscar speech keeps gaining steam, Patrick Shanley writes: 

    Goodwill: Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are adopting inclusion riders for projects made through their Pearl Street Films, according to head of strategic outreach at the production company, Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni.

    "On behalf of Pearl Street Films, Matt Damon, @BenAffleck, Jennifer Todd, Drew Vinton & I will be adopting the #InclusionRider for all of our projects moving forward," Cox DiGiovanni tweeted Monday, responding to Michael B. Jordan's tweet from last week in which he announced that his production company, Outlier Society, would also begin adopting inclusion riders. Full story.

    Wrinkle in Time box-office breakdown...

    Why did the movie underperform? "Fantasy adventures often have a very tough time finding an audience once they move to the big screen as most are not sequel-based and don't fall easily into clearly defined categorization and are greeted with the same audience reticence as videogame-based movies that also contend with similar challenges," says comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    Mirren and McKellen: Director Bill Condon has teamed up with stars Ian McKellen and Helen Mirren for The Good Liar, a cat-and-mouse thriller from New Line Cinema. 

    Netflix's mouthful of a movie: The streamer picked up Mike Newell's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a post-WWII historical drama starring Lily James and Game of Thrones' Michiel Huisman. 

    Tommy Wiseau's extremely disturbing Joker audition tape: You can watch it if you dare here.

    Alex Wolff goes behind the camera: The actor, who recently starred in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, has found his cast for his directorial debut The Cat and the Moon, which boasts a cast that includes Mike Epps and Mischa Barton.

    R.I.P., Hubert de Givenchy. The fashion designer and founder of the house of Givenchy — and best known in Hollywood for his relationship with Audrey Hepburn — died Saturday at his home. He was 91. 

  • Dubuc's Next Move

    Jesse Grant/Getty Images

    A+E Networks chief Nancy Dubuc may soon be running Vice, Lacey Rose writes:

    What's happening: Change is coming to Vice Media, where cable TV veteran Nancy Dubuc is in talks to assume the CEO role long held by co-founder Shane Smith. Dubuc announced Monday that she was stepping down from her position at A+E.

    Backstory: Recognizing that the company, plagued by #MeToo-era turmoil, could benefit from a powerful female at its helm and already having a shorthand with Dubuc, Smith is said to have recruited her to the top position. The talks are believed to be in the late stages but not yet formalized.

    Smith's role in all this: Assuming Dubuc does step into the CEO role, Smith would scale back more than he already has in recent years, though he will remain involved in content. Full story.

    American Idol premiere ratings...

    Solid return: In its first outing, the former Fox juggernaut delivered ABC an average 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 and 10.3 million viewers over two hours. It's a solid restart for the franchise, which has a lot riding on it — while also being subjected to slightly less pressure than during its original run.

    Compared to itself: The first episode of the show's final season on Fox pulled an average 3.0 rating in the key demo and just shy of 11 million viewers. That adds up to initial same-day losses of roughly 23 percent among younger viewers and a scant 6 percent among total viewers from little more than two years ago.

    Compared to The Voice: The NBC darling returned for its latest season with a 2.8 rating among adults 18-49 and 12.3 million night of viewers, so Idol still hasn't made up the gap. 

    Stormy watch...

    Update: CBS News president David Rhodes confirmed yesterday that CBS will indeed air its 60 Minutes interview with porn star Stormy Daniels. He did not, however, say when the interview would air. 

    Speaking of...

    Trump's Beverly Hills trip: It's looking like the president's fundraising dinner party tonight (to be held at an undisclosed location) will be very un-Hollywood compared to similar soirees honoring his predecessor, Barack Obama, where the entertainment industry’s elite would show up en masse. "You'd be surprised at the lack of star power," said one person familiar with Tuesday night's guest list. Read more.

    Scientology TV launches...

    Streaming clear: The first thing to broadcast on the network yesterday? Church leader David Miscavige saying this: "We're not here to preach to you, to convince you or to convert you. No, we simply want to show you, because after all, the first principle of Scientology is that it's only true if it is true to you. So, take a look and then decide for yourself." That was followed by an hourlong special showing viewers the inside of their churches. Read more.

    There may be a 90210 revival...

    Going back: Nearly two decades after wrapping Beverly Hills, 90210, former co-stars Tori Spelling and Jennie Garth are in the early stages of developing a project based on the old teen drama for CBS Television Studios. The project, according to People, would feature Spelling and Garth playing exaggerated versions of themselves. Full story.

    Fuller House's new bosses...

    The replacements: Steve Baldikoski and Bryan Behar will take over the Netflix comedy after creator Jeff Franklin was ousted following behavioral complaints. They'll start on the show's upcoming fourth season, which begins production later this year.

    Jane the Virgin news...

    End is near? The star of the CW series said during a SXSW panel that she hoped to "do more [directing] next year — in our final season." So what does this mean? Unclear so far, but Rodriguez's comments come as The CW has yet to renew anything for next season. The network declined comment on the future of the series.

    All sorts of big streaming news...

    Apple's new animated series: The tech giant has added yet another high-profile series to its roster by handing out a straight-to-series, two-season order for Central Park, an animated musical comedy from Bob's Burgers creator Loren Bouchard as well as Nora Smith and Josh Gad. The crowded cast: On top of Gad, the show boasts Leslie Odom Jr., Titus Burgess, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci, Daveed Diggs and Kathryn Hahn.

    Hulu's hot literary adaptation: Following a bidding war, the streamer has handed a straight-to-series order for the adaptation of Celeste Ng's bestseller Little Fires Everywhere, with Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington attached to star and executive produce. A premiere date for the eight-episode drama has not yet been determined.

    Amazon's big new comedy: Cazzie David, social media star (and daughter of Larry), is set to star in, write and exec produce a comedy titled Half-Empty for Amazon Studios. The series follows a sardonic girl in her final year of college whose overactive imagination leads to catastrophic thinking and hilarious mishaps.

    Nicole Kidman's next project...

    Another limited series: Kidman, who starred in Top of the Lake: China Girl and Big Little Lies (now a regular series, of course) will star in The Undoing, an HBO psychological thriller limited series from David E. Kelly.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Robin Tunney lands Marcia Clark drama: The actress will topline ABC's pilot The Fix, billed as a legal thriller from Clark and writers Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain.

    Anna Paquin goes Pop: The Oscar-winning actress will star in Pop TV's upcoming six-episode limited series Flack, about a competitive, London-based public relations connoisseur. 

    Nina Dobrev's CBS pilot: The former Vampire Diaries star will lead the network's comedy pilot Fam, about a woman (Dobrev) whose dreams of an upstanding life with her new fiancé are dashed when her trainwreck half-sister comes to crash with her.

    Vincent Kartheiser returns to TV: The actor, best known as Pete Campbell from Mad Men, will star in Fox's untitled legal drama from Empire's Danny Strong and David Elliot (Four Brothers).

    Sarah Wright Olsen heads back to The CW: The 7th Heaven vet has landed the leading role in the network's drama pilot Skinny Dip, based on the Carl Hiaasen novel.

    NBC renews The Wall: The game show will return for another 20 episodes.

    Kareem's column...

    Review: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar digs into the new book Bachelor Nation — as well as the "emotional harassment" he recently witnessed on the show. His main question: "Will the producers learn from their hubris, or do they think they’ve gotten away with something and it's back to business as usual?" Read more

    + 7 surprising revelations from Bachelor Nation. From pre-categorizing contestants to creating a game of cash incentives, a self-proclaimed Bachelor fanatic dives into the inner mechanics behind ABC's hit franchise. Read more.

  • Conference Talk

    Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

    SXSW rages on down in Texas...

    Star Wars: Three months after The Last Jedi hit theaters, director Rian Johnson turned up for a panel to discuss a new documentary, The Director and the Jedi, coming out about the making of the blockbuster film.

    And then he was interrupted by a friendly force: "This is just a cameo at the end; I’m good at that,” Mark Hamill joked when he surprised fans, before they went on to discuss Carrie Fisher and a new trilogy. Read more.

    Apple's Eddy Cue: The senior vp sat down to discuss the growth of Apple News — including the company's acquisition of the magazine subscription startup Texture — and also addressed the company's original programming plan.

    "We're completely all in," he said, adding that there's a difference between what Apple is doing and Netflix's strategy. "We're not after quantity. We're after quality. ... Great storytelling is what's important."

    Lena Waithe: "I have this theory that black people are always out of breath," the Emmy winner said during a panel. "We can never rest." As for her show The Chi: "I wanted to do something real ... We're not tap dancing, we're not trying to get out of the hood, we're not rapping or doing other things we traditionally see on TV."

    The Last O.G., reviewed: "The vein of melancholy works better than the comedy in Tracy Morgan's TV return, a TBS series co-created by Jordan Peele and co-starring Tiffany Haddish," Daniel Fienberg writes of the SXSW-launched show. Full review.

    Meanwhile, at the INTV conference in Israel...

    Buffy revival? Fox Television Group chairman & CEO Gary Newman told the crowd that Buffy the Vampire Slayer “is probably our most ripe show for a remake, it's something we talk about frequently.” But he added: “Joss Whedon is one of the greatest creatives we've ever worked with. When Joss decides its time, we'll do it, until Joss does, we won't.”

    Game of Thrones spin-offs: The new shows will have very big budgets, HBO senior vp of drama Francesca Orsi promised, saying: "$50 million (per season) would never fly for what we are trying to do. We are going big." Given the phenomenal success of GoT, Orsi also said “it feels like corporate malfeasance to not continue it,” noting the network is planning “three, four, five spinoffs” of the original series.

    And now for our 13th edition of...

    ↱The Three-Question Interview: a series of short Q&As with interesting executives and personalities. Next up: Ray Nutt, CEO of Fathom Events.

    For a lot of people, Fathom is synonymous with either opera and ballet broadcasts or faith-based movie events. What other content has the company been successful in? Last year we had the Mayweather-McGregor fight, which was one of our biggest-ticket items we had in 2017. We charged 40 dollars for that, so that was the highest ticket price we've ever charged. And switching gears, the anime category was another huge vertical for us. The biggest title that we did last year was a picture called Pokémon: I Choose You. We actually distributed that to 35 different countries. It was our biggest box-office grosser in 2017.

    What are your thoughts on MoviePass? I think there's obviously something there with subscription. I think theater exhibitors have tried subscription in the past. My hope is that there's a subscription model that actually is sustainable and works out there in a long-term basis, that both distribution and exhibition can come and be supportive of it.

    Fathom's co-owners [AMC, Cinemark and Regal] seem to have been cooler on the idea. Whatever can drive audiences to theaters, and whatever can create value for the moviegoer — I'm all for it. That's what it's all about, trying to get butts in seats.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige on the future of Black Panther, Captain Marvel, X-Men — and beyond." Anthony Breznican gets answers about the MCU's fate from of the man who controls it. [EW]

    — "'Picked apart by vultures': The last days of Stan Lee." As one person says in Mark Ebner's piece: "It’s a real fucking mess over there. I think his money will be gone in a few weeks." [Daily Beast]

    — "In conversation: Julian Casablancas." The former Strokes frontman sits down for a lengthy chat with David Marchese. [Vulture]

    — "Food and drink were the great subject of Portlandia." Troy Patterson writes that the show "has excelled at rapid characterizations, microscopically observed comedies of manners, and amiable lampoons of everyday anxieties — and never more so than when the show has considered food and drink." [New Yorker]

    — "How Gimlet Media is tweaking podcast programming for voice assistants." Lauren Johnson writes: "Shorter is better when it comes to Amazon's Alexa." [Adweek]

    — "For decades, our coverage was racist. To rise above our past, we must acknowledge it." National Geographic has a reckoning with itself. [National Geographic]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Tom Brady describes the day after losing a Super Bowl." [Late Show]

    + "Lionel Richie on embarrassing his kids." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "Jimmy and Alec Baldwin talk about their daughters." [Tonight Show]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Jersey Shore creator and former Bachelor producer discusses what makes a great reality show." An interview with SallyAnn Salsano. [Bachelor Party / The Ringer]

    + "Jon Favreau: Interview." The Obama one, not the Iron Man one. [The Axe Files]

    Today's Birthdays: Emile Hirsch, 33, Molly McNearney, 40, Common, 46, Tim Story, 48, William H. Macy, 68.

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