What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:23 AM 3/2/2018

by Ray Rahman

Alec Baldwin Trump 'SNL' 02-03 - H Screengrab 2018

What's news: The Time's Up movement offers a progress report on its efforts in Hollywood and beyond. Plus: The Weinstein Co.'s buyers finally reach a deal, Fox is unearthing its buried O.J. interview, Trump responds to Alec Baldwin and a look at how stars are preparing for the potentially dreary Oscar weekend weather. — Ray Rahman

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

  • Time's Up, 60 Days In

    Bad Robot co-CEO Katie McGrath joined seven other Time's Up leaders to deliver a 60-day progress report to the press Thursday. Rebecca Sun writes:

    Although the tidal wave of public sexual misconduct allegations have served as the inciting incident for the movement, Time's Up, which is forming as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, is about "basic fairness in the workplace," said McGrath.

    "Sexual harassment is the issue that's gotten all the coverage, but if we just focus on that, we run the risk of not solving the core problem," added attorney Tina Tchen. "You have to get at these structural issues: equal pay, paid leave, diversity and inclusion, and fair promotion policies."

    StoryCorps partnership: Time's Up is partnering with the nonprofit to enable women to record their stories about being on the job and upload them to the Library of Congress, "where it will live forever as a narrative of working women and mark this moment," McGrath said. "It's going to be astounding to have this archive and help demonstrate that [workplace inequality] is such a pervasive condition for women and for men." The partnership launches this morning with a story from Ashley Judd; Jane Fonda and America Ferrera have also contributed their own tales.

    Legal defense fund: Two months in, the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund has fielded more than 1,700 requests for assistance from individuals working in more than 60 different industries. Just a small percentage hail from entertainment, said political consultant Hilary Rosen.

    The numbers: Housed at the National Women's Law Center, the fund has so far raised $21 million from 20,000 donations ranging from $5 to $2 million. To date, 1,250 callers to the fund have been connected with legal resources.

    Impromptu meetings: "If you want to join, you can make it happen wherever you are," said Laura Dern, who said that meetings formed while she was on location in Atlanta because a crew member suggested it. Added Tessa Thompson: "We've had questions about if there is de facto leadership here, and the truth is that it's just people who continue to show up and do the work." Full story.

    A new campaign for men...

    #AskMoreOfHim: A group of writers, producers and stars (including David Arquette and David Schwimmer) are coming together ahead of the Oscars with an open letter to support survivors of harassment and abuse and demand more accountability and action from men in entertainment and beyond.

    The letter: "One of the most powerful things that men can and must do is make it clear to other men — including their friends, colleagues, and co-workers — that sexual harassment and abuse are never acceptable. This goes for everything from sexist and degrading comments, right up to domestic violence and sexual assault." Full letter.

    Guest column: "It has been each of our life’s work to include men in this conversation — not because men need to be the center of yet another movement (they don’t), but because men are both a part of the problem and an even bigger part of the solution," write #AskMoreOfHim leaders Jackson Katz and Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Read more.

    Weinstein deal reached...

    Finally: After a tumultuous process, Maria Contreras-Sweet announced that a $500 million deal has been reached for the investor group she and billionaire Ron Burkle lead to buy The Weinstein Co. after a sit-down between all sides with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman earlier in the day. Several hours later, the board of The Weinstein Co. confirmed the news.

    Schneiderman: "As part of these negotiations, we are pleased to have received express commitments from the parties that the new company will create a real, well-funded victims' compensation fund, implement HR policies that will protect all employees, and will not unjustly reward bad actors."

    Terms: According to sources, the buyers have agreed to establish a victims' fund of $80 million to $90 million, as much as two times higher than originally planned. Also, there appear to be no plans now to retain David Glasser as CEO of the new company. The buyers will assume $225 million in debt.

    What's next: The sale, which rescues TWC from having to declare bankruptcy, is expected to take 40 days to close, presuming there aren't any obstacles. Full story.

    Disney's schedule changes...

    Avengers: Infinity War moves: The Marvel movie's release date will now unfurl a week earlier, April 27 (from May 4) — which means it'll open at the same time all around the world, reducing the potential spoiler factor. The move also gives it a little more breathing room from Deadpool 2 (May 18).

    Postponed: Director Niki Caro's live-action Mulan, originally given a Nov. 2, 2018, release date, is being moved to March 27, 2020. Disney has long been aware that it wouldn't meet the first release date — it took more than a year to find the film's star, Chinese actress Liu Yifei, also known as Crystal Liu, after an extensive worldwide search that concluded with her hire last November.

    Removed: Disney also removed Nicole, starring Anna Kendrick as a female Santa Claus, from its calendar. It'd been set for Nov. 8, 2019; sources say Disney plans to include the film on its upcoming streaming service, which it plans to launch in 2019.

    Added: Six dates for untitled Marvel movies: May 7, 2021; July 30, 2021; Nov. 5, 2021; Feb. 18, 2022; May 6, 2022; and July 29, 2022. 

    Viola and Lupita join forces...

    Co-stars: Oscar winners Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong'o will play onscreen mother and daughter in The Woman King for TriStar Pictures.

    Logline: Inspired by true events that took place in the Kingdom of Dahomey, the film tells the story of Nanisca (Davis), general of an all-female military unit, and her daughter, Nawi (Nyong’o), who together fought the French and neighboring tribes.

    THR about town...

    What do you do if you're halfway done shooting a movie and it's terrible? Editorial Director Matthew Belloni hosted an interesting AFCI panel yesterday with physical production execs. Details here....

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Bryan Cranston joins Disney's The One and Only Ivan: He'll appear alongside stars Angelina Jolie, Sam Rockwell and Brooklynn Prince in the YA adaptation.

    ? The Bright team inks a deal with Netflix: Eric Newman and Bryan Unkeless have signed a multiyear first-look deal with Netflix via their newly formed Screen Arcade shingle, giving the streamer first-look rights at any feature film that Newman or Unkeless want to produce.

    ? Danny Boyle, Richard Curtis team up for a mysterious Universal comedy: The director and the Love Actually screenwriter are working on an under-wraps music-inspired film that's said to be set in the 1960s or '70s.

    ? Kevin Smith talks heart attack: The director talked to Ralph Garman for his first interview since hospitalization, telling him he felt like he was "living on borrowed time....I don't want to say I feel like a dead man walking, but I do feel like I'm not supposed to be here anymore, and it doesn't make me want to leave, but it makes me appreciate how...like, all right, let's do everything." Read more.

    On Quentin Tarantino...

    Can he get away with a Sharon Tate movie in 2019? "While it may be harrowing but potentially intriguing to watch a film set at the height of the Manson murders, one that may end up featuring Sharon Tate as a supporting character, it's also very concerning to imagine Tarantino behind the camera to tell that story," writes Josh Spiegel. "Being more aware of how Tarantino has interacted with actresses and his earlier stance on a director like Roman Polanski (who might well appear in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood as a character), suggests something fairly discouraging." Read more.

  • Fox's O.J. Special

    The network is ready to show you its O.J. special...

    Unaired: Twelve years after the fact, O.J. Simpson's bizarre interview with Judith Regan will finally see the light of day on Fox. Set to premiere March 11, the special — titled O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession — focuses on the axed interview in which Simpson was set to plug his book If I Did It.

    What happened: The interview was originally set to air in 2006, but Fox faced huge criticism from the families of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, prompting an apology from boss Rupert Murdoch. This time, however, there will be no such criticism. Sources say that both families have approved its release.

    What you'll see: A release from Fox describes the interview as "no-holds-barred" and says that Simpson, "in his own words, offers a detailed — and disturbing — description of what might have happened on that fateful night of June 12, 1994." Soledad O'Brien will host.

    Trump responds to Alec Baldwin...

    Tweet: "Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing me was agony," the president wrote, referring to Baldwin's interview with THR this week. "Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch. Bring back Darrell Hammond, funnier and a far greater talent!"

    Ryan Seacrest update...

    Kelly Ripa supports: "I cannot wait to see you [at the Oscars]," Ripa told Seacrest to applause on air yesterday. "I just want you to know that you are a privilege to work with, and I adore you. I'm speaking on behalf of all of us here, I know what an easy, professional, great person you are, and I feel very, very lucky to work with you each and every day. And we all do, we all do."

    Jennifer Lawrence unsure: "I don't know about the Ryan Seacrest thing," the actress told Howard Stern. "I think it is scary, you know. He has not been to trial for anything. I am not a judge. I am not a jury…that is where this stuff gets tricky."

    Fox News exit...

    John Moody out: The veteran Fox News executive who wrote an inflammatory column about the U.S. Winter Olympic team last month (which was eventually taken down) has left the company. "John Moody has retired from Fox News," the network said in a statement.

    Waning influence: Moody was a key lieutenant to the late Fox News executive Roger Ailes, but his impact and oversight had receded in recent years. Still, he held the titles executive editor and executive vp for Fox News, which spoke to his seniority at the company.

    Changes at Discovery...

    Shake-up: Discovery channels group president Rich Ross is out, being replaced by Scripps' Kathleen Finch, who as chief lifestyle brands officer will add to a portfolio that already includes HGTV, Food Network and more. The moves come as Discovery Communications finalizes its acquisition of Scripps.

    Netflix's latest talk-show host...

    It's Hasan Minhaj: The Daily Show correspondent is the latest in a line of comedians to get a streaming series, though doing so makes him the first Indian American to front a weekly comedy show.

    What he'll be doing: Without offering specifics, Netflix describes the series as an opportunity for the comedian to explore the modern cultural and political landscapes with depth and sincerity. And in a major vote of confidence in the series and its host, the streaming giant has already committed to 32 episodes, which will roll out later this year.

    In good company: Just last month, Michelle Wolf — another Daily Show breakout — also defected to Netflix. Trevor Noah's going to have to make some new hires.

    Nickelodeon's new campaign...

    Girl empowerment: The kids' network is launching a monthlong series of spots for a campaign called "That's Me," which will pay homage to inspiring historical and contemporary women. On the roster: Amelia Earhart, Michelle Obama, Frida Kahlo, Carol Burnett and Beyonce.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Jim Belushi heads back to ABC: The former According to Jim star will return to the network to co-star in its sunken-treasure drama pilot Salvage.  

    ? Alyson Hannigan joins Kerry Washington's ABC comedy: She'll star in Man of the House, the multicamera comedy pilot executive produced by Washington. 

    ? From Star Wars to Facebook Watch: Last Jedi breakout Kelly Marie Tran is joining Elizabeth Olsen in the upcoming Facebook Watch series Sorry for Your Loss, about a young widow reconnecting with relationships from her past.

    ? Dick Wolf's CBS show finds its leading man: Zeeko Zaki had landed the starring role in Wolf's upcoming drama FBI, set at the agency's New York office. 

    Paul Feig's Lionsgate deal: The studio unveiled a first-look deal with the Freaks and Geeks creator and his producing partner, Jessie Henderson, to co-produce scripted and unscripted series and formats for the Lionsgate Television Group. 

    ? Hulu's MSG move: The streamer, joining the likes of the New York Knicks and Billy Joel, is carving out a permanent home at Madison Square Garden by acquiring the naming rights to the arena's theater, now formally known as The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. (It's also where Hulu holds its upfronts.) Per the deal, new signage will go up along Eighth Avenue. 

    ? ATX Fest: HBO's Gillian Flynn adaptation Sharp Objects, starring Amy Adams, will open the June 7-10 TV festival. 

    ? RIP, Bruce Margolis: The producer and former longtime production executive at 20th Century Fox Television,died Feb. 16 after a battle with cancer, a studio spokesman announced. He was 64.

    Omarosa chatter...

    Who wants to publish her White House tell-all? She says she's thinking of writing one, but someone's got to want to buy it. "Her tenure in the administration was brief, her access limited, and her reliability as a narrator has been questioned," says a skeptical Paul Bogaards, spokesperson for the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. "As such, the market potential for a book written by her seems limited."

    Veteran ICM literary agent Esther Newberg adds: "I thought no one would vote for her absurd boss, and yet they did. If he is president, then maybe someone publishes her. It’s a new world." Full story.

  • Advice for Kimmel

    THR TV critic Daniel Fienberg offers suggestions for the emcee's sophomore outing regarding #MeToo, Envelopegate and, yes, Matt Damon:

    With the Oscars’ insiderness, Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t need to make these tectonic shifts as central to his monologue as Seth Meyers did at the Golden Globes in January. Kimmel probably wants to remember, and joke about, his time on the not-so-progressive The Man Show and also keep in mind that Damon's comments about #MeToo earned him a lot of flak, so maybe that feud should be soft-pedaled.

    Besides, Kimmel has serious comedy to do and a year of well-developed gravitas to help him address the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements at an event that previously has been more than friendly to Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. Read more.

    Oscars party diary...

    Inside the events: Seated dinners with blue cheese plates and pear salads, family-style gatherings with models bundled up against the cold, shrimp-filled seafood buffets — all in Ramona Saviss' and Chris Gardner's party diary. Full story | Photo gallery

    About the weather...

    It's not looking great: Hollywood is bracing for a wet, chilly Oscar weekend. Presenter Tiffany Haddish says with a smile that she's ready: "I’m always carrying a jacket. I don’t know if you’ve noticed how I dress, but I try to stay semi-conservative — I just show my sternum.” But double-nominee Mary J. Blige says she's not changing her plans: "There could be a blizzard. I’m still gonna do what I’m doing.” Read more.

    What the stars will be wearing...

    Anti-gun violence pins: According to sources, Michael Bloomberg’s New York-based gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety has created anti-gun violence pins for celebrities to wear to the Oscars on Sunday. According to one celebrity fashion stylist, the pins have been sent to The Wall Group and other key Hollywood agencies to dole out prior to the red carpet. 

    And now for our 10th edition of...

    ?The Three-Question Interview: a series of short Q&As with interesting executives and personalities. Next up: Amanda Kludt, editor in chief of Eater.

    So Eater just launched a digital series called Eating Out Loud, where Jessica Valenti shares meals with the likes of Melissa Harris-Perry and Lindy West. How'd that come about? Jessica came to us because she wanted to do a video series on food and politics. The main idea is to humanize a divisive figure over food. We weren't sure exactly how it would end up, but we knew it was going to be conversation-focused. It really reminded me of how prevalent food is to everything — political, social, everything. 

    The #MeToo movement seems to be affecting the food and restaurant industry, but maybe at a slower pace than other industries. Are you seeing more progress there? I think it's going to be a slow burn. In the fall, you did see a few big exposés come out against the major players. A lot of people in the industry had their suspicions about John Besh and Mario Batali and Ken Friedman. Over the next year, we're going to be looking into the smaller-level allegations that people are sending us. Also, I think you're going to see a lot of subtle shifts over the years to come about what kinds of restaurants are covered in the media, what kinds are getting investments and what kinds are getting awards. 

    The Oscars are this weekend. Do you have any Oscar party food or drink recommendations? Ambitious Oscar parties will have food that goes along with the movies. So I think in honor of Greta Gerwig, Cheetos and Diet Coke would be a really fun thing to have. And I think you would need peaches to reference Call Me by Your Name.?

    What else we're reading...

    — "The Oscar for best picture goes to...something you probably didn't see." Ben Fritz writes: "The disconnect between [the Academy's] 7,000-plus voters and the moviegoing public signals the love-hate relationship the film industry has with its audiences and even itself." [Wall Street Journal]

    — "On the red carpet, Ryan Seacrest is a distraction in an important year." Daniel D'Addario writes: "Given the general tone of the conversation around workplace assault and the responsibilities Seacrest bears in general, the best thing, for Seacrest and for his audience, would be to step away from the spotlight." [Time]

    — "Red Sparrow is an intriguing film about celebrity disguised as a pedestrian spy tale." Todd VanDerWerff makes the case that "Red Sparrow is, in some ways, a movie about being Jennifer Lawrence." [Vox]

    — "Jennifer Lawrence is so good. Why are her movies so bad?" Kevin Fallon writes: "Not to belabor the point, but [Red Sparrow] is the weirdest choice of project for a movie star like Lawrence to embark on." [Daily Beast]

    — "Why nobody knows what stars wore to the first Academy Awards." Nadra Nittle writes: "The images of the winners with their Academy Awards only tell part of the story." [Racked]

    — "For Sacramento, Lady Bird offers a vivid portrait of a city that revels in its 'modest pleasures.'" John Myers writes: "So far, Sacramento likes what it sees through the eyes of the 34-year-old filmmaker." [L.A. Times]

    — "NRA TV: Inside the channel activists are urging Apple and Amazon to axe." Adam Gabbatt writes: "The channel promotes itself as having the same sort of outsider status — regularly complaining that the mainstream media is untrustworthy and liberal." [The Guardian]

    — "ABC News, Atlantic among contenders for FiveThirtyEight." Benjamin Mullin reports on the Nate Silver sweepstakes. [Wall Street Journal]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Darren Criss faked a British accent for four years." [Tonight Show]

    + "Jeff Daniels just got the best review of his career." [Late Show]

    + "Oscars: All the best actor winners." [THR]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Our 2018 Oscar preview." The gang chats about the big event. [Pop Culture Happy Hour/NPR

    + "Bekah Martinez shares the whole story behind her reported disappearance." The contestant tells all. [Bachelor Party/The Ringer]

    From the archives...

    Today in 1933: THR's review of King Kong. "The yarn is a 'beauty and the beast' story, done in an entirely different setting, with much of your sympathy going to the beast. Even though he kills off anything and everything that seeks to intrude on his romance with the beauty, when he is finally killed at the top of the Empire State building in New York, by thousands of bullets from airplane guns, you almost have to choke down a tear for his passing." Full review.

    Today's Birthdays: Bryce Dallas Howard, 37, Rebel Wilson, 38, Chris Martin, 41, Daniel Craig, 50, Jon Bon Jovi, 56, John Irving, 76.