What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:23 AM 3/21/2018

by Ray Rahman

Photographed by Ruven Afanador

What's news: The inside story of MGM's CEO ouster. Plus: Nancy Dubuc's tough road ahead at Vice, Fremantle's surprise loss to YouTube and Hollywood's stealth support of the D.C. gun-control march. — Ray Rahman

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On the cover: THR's first-ever stylist roundtable. Five top image gurus open up to Booth Moore about their candid confessions, the Battle of the Black Dress and losing money during awards season:

THR: Did Time's Up make this a difficult season, especially the all-black looks on the Golden Globes red carpet?

Ilaria Urbinati: It was more pressure, and there were more things to consider than just what's the prettiest dress.

Tara Swennen: We were all in panic mode.

Jeanne Yang: We were all on text chains.

Jason Bolden: It was the first time everyone banded together.... My client Ava DuVernay said she heard no makeup, no jewelry. Then I looked at her and said, "We're wearing makeup and jewelry." It boiled down to the battle of the best black dress.

Law Roach: It became fun to see the carpet and how we all interpreted black. Full roundtable | Video

The 25 most powerful stylists in Hollywood: Do fashion and feminism still match? Hell yes, say the tastemakers who've guided stars from Margot Robbie to Saoirse Ronan to Octavia Spencer through the most sensitive awards season ever. See the list.

+ Who's behind the red-carpet looks of Zoe Kravitz, Scarlett Johansson and Mandy Moore? These three rising stylists.

+ Who dresses Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman and Michael B. Jordan? Meet seven top Hollywood men's stylists.

+ And Beyonce's, Katy Perry's and Rihanna's glam looks? Meet music's four most influential stylists.

+ Inside THR's and Jimmy Choo's Power Stylists event: Chadwick Boseman, Gwyneth Paltrow, the Fanning sisters and more feted their red-carpet stylists during an intimate event at the Stanley House in the Hollywood Hills. Read more.

  • Inside MGM

    Beck Starr/WireImage (Mayer), Getty Images (Barber)

    Behind the scenes of MGM's abrupt firing of CEO Gary Barber—the exec is said to have clashed with colleagues and partners, writes Paul Bond:

    Multiple sources say that an unbridgeable gap had grown between Barber and board chairman Kevin Ulrich, whose Anchorage Capital Group is MGM's largest investor. When Barber was hired to run the then-struggling home of the James Bond franchise in 2010, it was on the assumption he'd whip the studio into shape, then sell it. But eight years later, Ulrich has had a change of heart, while Barber still believes a sale is in the best interest of shareholders.

    According to one source, Ulrich has said that Barber "has done a good job of stabilizing the situation financially and getting the place downsized, but he is not creative. He's not the guy to take the place to the next level."

    Foreshadowing: Barber clashed with colleagues and partners at times, including Mark Burnett — MGM's president of digital and the television group — who, insiders say, was displeased with the stagnation of the film division. And even though Barber had hits with Bond outings Spectre and Skyfall, a rift had developed between him and 007 producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. “There was a revolt,” says an insider who claims the Broccoli camp ultimately refused to work with Barber.

    How it happened: Ulrich had been sizing up an executive to replace Barber about a year ago. But, unable to find a suitable choice, the board agreed in October to extend Barber's contract through 2022, making the firing all the more surprising. Two sources say Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., an MGM banker, backed Ulrich's move to oust Barber, as did the entire board of directors. "This is obviously Kevin's board," says an insider. Full story.

    Amy Poehler goes to Netflix...

    Wine Country: That's the title of what will be Poehler's feature directorial debut, a comedy that she'll also star in and produce. The movie, written by Emily Spivey, will also feature Rachel Dratch, Paula Pell, Ana Gasteyer, Maya Rudolph and, yes, Tina Fey. The plot: Longtime friends go to Napa for a weekend getaway to celebrate a 50th birthday.

    Kumail Nanjiani and Dave Bautista team up...

    Buddy comedy: Nanjiani will star opposite Bautista in Stuber, an action comedy from Fox to be directed by Michael Dowse and produced by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley. Plot: Nanjiani will play a mild-mannered Uber driver named Stu who picks up a grizzled cop (Bautista) who is hot on the trail of a brutal killer. This will mark the second time Nanjiani has played an Uber driver in a feature film.

    Deadpool 2 alert...

    You'll probably love it: The Ryan Reynolds-starring Fox sequel is receiving very high marks in its recent test screenings, according to a source. The movie's been tested three times, in fact: It notched a 91 and 97 in its first two tests and, in the latest one in Dallas, the studio's preferred cut scored a 98. The original movie's highest score was 91.

    Black Panther's latest milestone....

    Record: Ryan Coogler's film has now been tweeted about over 35 million times, making it the most-tweeted-about movie ever — and that's according to Twitter. Panther beats out the previous record-holder, Star Wars: The Force Awakens; 2017's The Last Jedi ranks third.

    Elsewhere in film...

    Nick Nolte's and Matt Dillon's father-son act: The duo will star in Honey in the Head, Til Schweiger's English-language remake of his hit 2014 German dramedy. Nolte will play Dillon's Alzheimer's-afflicted father in the film.

    Tag trailer: The comedy, based on a Wall Street Journal article about a very intense game of tag, has released its first trailer, with Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson and Isla Fisher all taking part. Watch.

  • Dubuc's Tall Order

    Illustration by Matt Collins

    Can new Vice CEO Nancy Dubuc take the millennial male-focused company from "puberty into adulthood?" Natalie Jarvey writes:

    As is often the case at the beginning of a marriage, Shane Smith and Nancy Dubuc have been profuse in their praise of each other, but what type of working relationship they will develop remains to be seen. "They won't last 18 months without killing each other," snipes one insider.

    Both executives are known to act swiftly, boldly and often from the hip, which can prove impactful when managing as individuals but becomes trickier when attempting to do so in tandem. Smith, in his memo to staff, characterized his pairing with Dubuc as a "modern-day Bonnie and Clyde," but, notes the insider, "everyone knows how Bonnie and Clyde ended."

    Dubuc's strategy: "She sees it as a content machine," says a Dubuc confidant, who expects she'll push more aggressively on Vice's output of documentaries, TV series and branded content.

    Changing a culture: One big part of Dubuc's job will be evaluating the effectiveness of Vice's early efforts to improve corporate culture, including the creation of a female-led advisory board and a commitment to achieving pay parity. In February, Dubuc noted that "the bro-y culture is pervasive in our business" and praised Vice for taking a stand while acknowledging that change "doesn't happen overnight."

    What Smith will do: The shuffle will "free up Shane to focus single-mindedly on what he loves — making the company's calling card, Vice News, even more engaging and provocative, as well as rainmaking the kind big revenue deals that put Vice on the map," says Tom Freston, MTV founder and Vice board member. Full story.

    The Fox News corner...

    Lawsuit: The network is fighting claims that it had defamed three women who accused former Fox News star Bill O'Reilly of sexual harassment. Details.

    Resignation: Retired U.S. Army officer Ralph Peters blasted Fox News in an email to colleagues explaining his decision not to renew his contract with the network. "I feel that Fox News is assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers," he wrote in his email. "Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed." Read more.

    Rupert Murdoch's health: "I'm doing great," Murdoch says as he recuperates from a serious back injury suffered in January. "I appreciate if anyone is worried about me but they shouldn't be. I've been busy with meetings at home but I'm looking forward to being back in the office in a couple weeks."

    Trump's Apprentice lawsuit...

    "No one is above the law": That's what New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer Schecter wrote. Her decision allows a defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump brought by season-five Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos to move forward in a case that may eventually climb the ladder all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    Fremantle's loss....

    YouTube's gain: In a shock move, Cecile Frot-Coutaz announced her resignation as CEO of FremantleMedia, one of the world's leading television production companies, to join YouTube. It's unclear whether her appointment signals a strategic shift at YouTube away from shortform clips and toward the sort of higher-end production for which Frot-Coutaz is known.

    The pay gap problem...

    Across the pond: BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of U.K. public broadcaster BBC, reported that its gender pay gap is higher than that of the BBC overall. The company said the gap amounts to 16.9 percent when focusing on the median, and 18.9 percent when focusing on the mean.

    Meanwhile, Sky reported an average 11.5 percent gender pay gap among its 25,000 employees in the U.K., a figure that rises to 40 percent taking into account bonuses.

    Ratings updates...

    Evening news: David Muir is enjoying a strong ratings run in what's shaping up to be a particularly competitive mid-season among the broadcast news telecasts. ABC's World News Tonight just wrapped its second week in a row with victories among both total viewers and adults 25–54, the first time it's enjoyed such a stretch in nearly three years.

    Primetime singing shows: In its latest head-to-head battle, NBC'S The Voice outperformed ABC's American IdolVoice scored a 2.3 rating in the demo and 10.7 million viewers, while Idol trailed with a 1.6 rating and 7.7 million viewers.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    Howie Mandel and ICM Partners buy Just For Laughs comedy group: "We see a great opportunity to work with them to grow the global comedy brand, in both French- and English-speaking comedy, while allowing the team on the ground in Montreal to continue to produce the festival as they have so successfully for all these years," the team said in a statement. Details.

    Kathy Bates back for more AHS: The Oscar-winning actress will co-star in the forthcoming season of FX's American Horror Story, joining Ryan Murphy's leading duo of Sarah Paulson and Evan Peters.

    Allison Williams' next TV project: The Girls and Get Out alum is joining the upcoming third and final season of Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events; details about her role are still under wraps.

    Sinbad returns to Fox: The comedian has been added to the cast of Rel, the sitcom starring Lil Rel Howery and executive produced by Jerrod Carmichael. 

    John Oliver's gay bunny book has sold out: But there will be another printing, the comedian said while on Ellen. The book has so far vastly outsold the Pence family's book.

    Nightflyers preview: A day after replacing its showrunners, Syfy's George R.R. Martin adaptation has released its first trailer — complete with Martin calling it "Psycho in space." Watch.

    ESPN's new morning show is coming...

    Debuting April 2: Get Up! is a big, costly swing for the network, including the lease of a 19,000-square-foot studio and office complex in Manhattan's South Street Seaport and nearly $15 million in host salaries ($6.5 million for Mike Greenberg; $5 million for Michelle Beadle; and $3 million for Jalen Rose, sources say).

    Sticking to sports? Exec producer Bill Wolff stresses that the show's top mandate is to cover sports as the network pivots away from a broader cultural focus. Still, "when players take a knee, then it deserves coverage and conversation," says Wolff. "If something political makes itself part of our world, we are dishonest and inauthentic if we don't discuss it.... When our president tweets about sports, now he's fair game." Read more.

  • Hollywood's Low-Key Protest

    Illustration by Alex Williamson; John McCall/Sun Sentinel/TNS/Newscom (Parkland); Bobainsworth (Gun), Jim Watson/AFP (Trump, Loesch), Alex Wong (Never Again), SAmuel Corum/Andalou Agency (Next), all Getty Images

    A-listers from Oprah Winfrey to Steven Spielberg are signing checks and stepping back ahead of the massive March for Our Lives on March 24, writes Rebecca Sun:

    Hollywood for once is ducking publicity. While much of the entertainment industry has thrown its support behind the March for Our Lives in Washington, stars, reps and execs are purposely downplaying their involvement. "It's important that this not be the 'celebrity, Hollywood-savior-coming-in show,'" says Tascha Rudder, executive director of Endeavor Foundation, which advises Everytown for Gun Safety.

    The discretion arises in part from awareness that gun-control detractors can point to Hollywood involvement as evidence of a big-money liberal agenda. And while stars like Jimmy Fallon have said they'll attend the march, others — including the Clooneys, the Katzenbergs, the Spielbergs and Oprah Winfrey, who have each given $500,000 — feel their most powerful impact begins and ends with writing a check, says one donor. Read more.

    In other news...

    NYT's TimesTalks sets its roster: Grace Jones will headline the New York Times' inaugural TimesTalks festival (April 13-15 at the NYT Building), coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the prominent TimesTalks series. Other speakers include: Margaret Atwood, Elisabeth Moss, Denzel Washington, Katie Couric and more. See the list.

    Broadway update...

    Ethan Hawke and Paul Dano go True West: The actors will play the conflicted brothers in a new production of the classic Sam Shepard drama, set to begin previews Dec. 27 and open Jan. 24. Details.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Can Steven Spielberg remember how to have fun?" Brooks Barnes profiles the director: "His serious period movies do well at the box office, but his recent would-be blockbusters have been disappointments. “Ready Player One” will be a major test." [The New York Times]

    — "Jimmy Iovine's planned exit from Apple Music raises leadership questions." Tripp Mickle and Anne Steele write: "The music executive and Beats co-founder will step back from daily involvement with Apple’s streaming-music business." [Wall Street Journal]

    — "Do critics overlook the wrong movies? The case for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle." Justin Chang writes: "There are those blockbusters that, rightly or wrongly, look so thoroughly devoid of interest at the outset as to seem unworthy of comment." [Los Angeles Times]

    — "Michelle Fields is shopping a TV show based on her dinner parties." Amanda Whiting writes: "The former Breitbart reporter and her husband, Jamie Weinstein, are pivoting to 'conversation.'" [Washingtonian]

    — "The excessive vision of Donatella Versace." Molly Young interviews Versace in an apartment that once belonged to her late brother Gianni. [GQ]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Katie Couric on taking Jimmy Kimmel for his first colonoscopy." [Jimmy Kimmel Live!]

    + "John Boyega builds his producer cred with Pacific Rim Uprising." [Tonight Show]

    + "Dakota Fanning is Hannah; Will Forte is Orville." [Late Late Show]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Trial begins over proposed AT&T and Time Warner merger." The big case gets discussed. [Screen Grab/KCRW]

    + "Nell Scovell/Bill Hader." Interviews with two comedy vets. [WTF With Marc Maron]

    Today's Birthdays: Scott Eastwood, 32, Sonequa Martin-Green, 33, Kevin Federline, 40, Matthew Broderick, 56, Rosie O'Donnell, 56, Gary Oldman, 60.