What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:24 AM 3/22/2018

by Ray Rahman

TV Pilot Season Confidential Casting Executives on Hiring Talent -Photo Illustration - H 2018
Getty Images

What's news: After a long silence, Mark Zuckerberg talks to the press. Plus: Pacific Rim Uprising has a chance to unseat Black Panther at the box office, Fred Savage battles claims of abuse and Ryan Reynolds unveils the Deadpool 2 trailer. — Ray Rahman

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  • A New Box-Office Winner?

    This could be the weekend Black Panther finally falls from the top spot, writes Pamela McClintock: 

    Preview: Pacific Rim Uprising is tracking to open to a modest $25 million or less in North America. The $150 million film should have a much bigger footprint overseas, where the sequel should cross $100 million in its international debut, which includes China. (The first Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro, took in $37.3 million in its domestic debut back in 2013.)

    The runner-up: Black Panther is expected to bring in $17 million to $18 million, enough to pass up fellow Marvel film The Avengers in terms of overall gross. 

    The rest: Sequel Sherlock Gnomes could actually vie for second place over Panther if it overperforms; Paramount is predicting a low- to mid-teens debut. Steven Soderbergh's iPhone-shot Unsane is projecting a $3 million to $6 million debut, as is the faith-based, Easter-positioned Paul, Apostle of Christ and the romantic drama Midnight Sun. Full story.

    Academy president lawyers up...

    Fighting back: Film Academy president John Bailey is arming himself with top legal firepower to defend him over harassment claims. Attorney David Schindler, a Los Angeles-based partner at Latham & Watkins who formerly co-chaired the firm's white collar defense and civil litigation practice, has been enlisted by Bailey as the Academy reviews allegations leveled last week at the executive. Details.

    Weinstein Co. post-NDA...

    New claims coming? "We’re going to see the floodgates open," one attorney says now that current employees and former staffers, numbering in the hundreds, won't be legally prevented from speaking out. “Whatever misconduct occurred, there isn’t anything legally preventing victims from disclosing misconduct.”

    Who it affects: According to a spokesperson in New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, the agreement only applies to NDAs struck between TWC and its current employees and former staffers. TWC does not have the ability to release individuals from NDAs that were reached with the disgraced mogul directly. Read more.

    Tessa Thompson, queen of sci-fi...

    New franchise: Thompson — star of such genre titles as Annihilation, Thor: Ragnarok and HBO's Westworld — is joining Sony's Men in Black reboot. The casting means she'll be reuniting with Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth.

    What Fellini told Spielberg...

    Advice: While accepting a lifetime achievement award in Italy, Stephen Spielberg revealed what Federico Fellini told him about dealing with the press back in 1971: "You must never give the same answer to the same question, otherwise you will go crazy." He added: "It's important to entertain the public, but even more important to entertain yourself." Read more.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Dakota Johnson and Zazie Beetz find a thriller: The actors are in talks to join Armie Hammer in an untitled Annapurna feature from Under the Shadow filmmaker Babak Anvari.  

    ? Chace Crawford boards Charles Manson flick: The Gossip Girl alum will play a Manson family member in the indie Charlie Says, starring Matt Smith as the cult leader.

    ? The Deadpool 2 trailer is here: "Falling somewhere between The Godfather 2 and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights," Ryan Reynolds tweeted about the action- and joke-packed preview. Watch.

    ? More trailers: A skinny Andrew Garfield traipses around L.A. in Under the Silver Lake, from It Follows director David Robert Mitchell; Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon race across Europe in The Spy Who Dumped Me; and Margot Robbie struts creepily around a dark place in Terminal.

  • Fred Savage Fights Claims

    Both the actor and Fox TV are battling accusations that they say are untrue, writes Ashley Cullins:

    The complaint: Young-joo Hwang claims Fred Savage was verbally abusive and had a reputation for tormenting female crewmembers while on the set of Fox's The Grinder. Hwang and her attorney also say that Savage yelled at Hwang not to touch him while she was dusting dandruff off of his suit on set and "violently" struck her arm. The complaint filed against Savage and Fox is for assault, battery, discrimination and gender harassment, among other claims.

    Savage: "None of her claims could be substantiated because they did not happen," Savage said in a statement. "While none of the accusations being leveled at me are true, I wholeheartedly support all people who feel they are being mistreated come forward and speak to human resources and those in charge."

    Fox: “Fox takes all allegations of improper conduct very seriously. We conducted a thorough investigation into these allegations and found no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Savage. We will vigorously defend against these unfounded claims.” Read more.

    YouTube developments...

    New title: The streaming platform has picked up Vulture Club, a terrorist thriller from director Maryam Keshavarz that stars Susan Sarandon, Edie Falco and Matt Bomer. The movie will get a theatrical release later this year before debuting later on YouTube Red. 

    New trailer: YouTube also released the trailer to its upcoming Karate Kid spinoff series Cobra Kai, which brings Ralph Macchio and William Zabka back to the dojo. Watch.

    Some backstory: "We know from our search data that titles like Step Up and Karate Kid are extremely popular on YouTube," YouTube's Susanne Daniels told Vulture in an interview. "Karate Kid–related content has been watched over one billion times on our platform."

    Music strategy: In a Bloomberg interview, Lyor Cohen says YouTube plans on annoying users with increased ads between music videos to get them to pay upcoming subscription music service: "You’re not going to be happy after you are jamming ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and you get an ad right after that."

    Banning firearm videos: Per Bloomberg: "YouTube will ban videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories, including bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire faster. Additionally, YouTube said it will prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms."

    Sheila Nevins' future...

    What's next: "I don't really know," the outgoing president of HBO documentary films (a division she's overseen since 1979) said at an event last night. "I'm too energetic and ambitious to retire! I hate that word more than any other word. Read more.

    Pilot season confidential: Casting execs tell all...

    Pay disparity? "We are being more cognizant of it," says Sharon Klein. "When we put a two-hander in place, that is the first conversation. Look at the cast for Single Parents [Taran Killam, Leighton Meester and Brad Garrett] — they're getting the same amount."

    Time's Up effect: "We've done more examining of gender in specific roles," says Tess Sanchez. "Like, why can't that be a female police chief? Why can't that governor be a woman? It was reflected in the pilots we pick because we had so many female leads." Full story.

    The "no quotes" law...

    How actors are benefiting: California's new law banning employers from asking potential hires about their previous salary is helping to close the gender pay gap among actors this pilot season. It's also uncovering a pervasive inequality in what non-white stars were earning as well as boosting the paydays for below-the-line employees. Read more.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Big Bang Theory adds Jerry O'Connell: The actor will appear at Sheldon's (Jim Parsons) upcoming May wedding episode as his brother, a central character in the Young Sheldon prequel.

    ? Indy 500's new home: After 54 years on ABC, the annual car race and all other IndyCar events are moving to NBC in 2019 thanks to a new three-year deal that also includes digital and, well, mobile. 

    ? #MeToo TV: An Israeli production company is launching The Silence Breaker, the first-ever reality TV format inspired by the #MeToo movement. Using hidden cameras, the show will go undercover to document harassment while also telling the victims' stories; each story will end with an on-camera confrontation with the harasser.

    ? 13 Reasons Why addressing suicide controversy with new warning video: In response to a study on how the hit drama influenced teens, Netflix launched a custom video and website of resources.

    ? Suits promotion: The USA drama is bringing back Amanda Schull as a series regular for the show's eighth season.

    ? Samantha Bee's tour bus: She's taking it out of the garage and bringing it to Washington, D.C., for the March for Our Lives event this Saturday, Bee announced on her show last night.

    ? Kevin Hart renews Kevin Hart's Cold as Balls: Or something like that — the Hart-launched Laugh Out Loud network has renewed the Hart-hosted talk show, which features him interviewing sports-world figures while taking ice baths. 

    ? Daytime Emmys: The nominations are here, and General Hospital scored 26 of them. Other notable contenders include Megyn Kelly Today and Live With Kelly and Ryan. See the full list.

    Warner Bros. shake-up: The company has tapped Time Inc. veteran Patty Hirsch as its new senior vp and general manager for Warner Bros. Digital Labs, the product and technology group that powers over-the-top offerings DramaFever, FilmStruck and Boomerang.

    FX's Trust is on its way...

    Review: "Trust is visually uncertain, but director Danny Boyle is quick to try to punch things up with a pounding rock soundtrack," Tim Goodman writes of the Getty family saga. "And yet, even here the tone sometimes feels off." The takeaway: "Intriguing, but hard to connect with." Full review.

    About last night (spoilers ahead)...

    The American Crime Story finale: Have thoughts on how the season ended for killer Andrew Cunanan? So does star Darren Criss: "This is a guy who could have gone to court," Criss says."He could have been Charles Manson. He could have been incarcerated and continued to be on magazines for the rest of his life." Read more.

    Season 3: American Crime Story: Katrina is next, with star Sarah Paulson and much of the plot already in place. Here's everything we know so far.

    Meanwhile, on The X-Files: Chris Carter discusses the finale, the cliff-hangers and the show's future (without Gillian Anderson). Q&A.  

  • Zuck Speaks

    Mark Zuckerberg does his best damage control as the Facebook crisis intensifies, writes Natalie Jarvey:

    Silence broken: After four days of silence following the reveal that a data analytics firm with ties to Donald Trump's presidential campaign exploited the private data of more than 50 million Facebook users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday went on a media tour (which included the New York Times, Recode and more) in which he called the incident "a major breach of trust."

    What he told CNN: Facebook will review "thousands of apps" that had access to user data prior to 2014, when the company blocked apps from mining such information. "This is going to be an intensive process, but this is important."

    Would he appear before Congress? "I'm happy to testify, if it's the right thing to do," he said. "I imagine at some point there will be a topic where I am the sole authority."

    Time for regulation? "I actually am not sure we shouldn't be regulated," Zuckerberg admitted to CNN, adding, "The question is more, what is the right regulation, rather than yes or no."

    Paul Ford supports the idea in a Bloomberg column: "I’d like to propose something that will seem impossible but I would argue isn’t: Let’s make a digital Environmental Protection Agency. Call it the Digital Protection Agency. Its job would be to clean up toxic data spills, educate the public, and calibrate and levy fines."

    Exodus: Stars are announcing their Facebook departures and/or displeasures left and right, including Cher, Adam McKay, Kumail Nanjiani, Jim Carrey, Tea Leoni and more.

    On the Amazon front...

    Expanding Culver City footprint: The race for space in downtown Culver City continued with yesterday's announcement that Amazon will be occupying 75,000 square feet of office space at the mixed-use development known as the Culver Steps.

    The four-story project being developed  is located at 9300 Culver Blvd., lodged between the Culver Studios, the Culver Hotel and Trader Joe's — and just across the street from Apple's new space at Ivy Station. Read more.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Pacific Rim Uprising, an unlikely sequel to an American flop, is betting China will make it a hit." Ryan Faughnder chronicles the movie's unusual journey. [Los Angeles Times]

    — "Lena Waithe is changing the game." The Master of None and The Chi star gets a cover profile. [Vanity Fair]

    — "Chris Evans comes back down to Earth." Reggie Ugwu writes: "Why the linchpin of Marvel’s Avengers movies — and walking image of American fortitude — is giving it all up to play a villain on Broadway (and learn to tap dance)." [The New York Times]

    — "Inside the making of The Spy Who Dumped Me." Seija Rankin writes: "The whole crew convened on set during the summer of 2017 — in enviable locales like Amsterdam, Prague, and Berlin, no less — and by all accounts, absolutely zero buttons were pushed." [EW]

    — "The Cold War is over." Jen Chaney goes on set with The Americans stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell for the show's final season. [Vulture]

    — "How drag fueled pop culture's slang explosion." Lexi Pandell writes: "From face-beating to "yas, queen"-ing, drag slang has crossed all the way over — but is its past getting lost?" [Wired]

    — "Bill Cunningham left behind a secret memoir." The late legendary fashion photographer's family auctioned the unexpected find to Penguin Press. [The New York Times]

    What else we're seeing...

    + "Stephen works out with Ruth Bader Ginsburg." [Late Show]

    + "Jay Leno tags in to tell some monologue jokes." [Tonight Show]

    + "Firings, Facebook, and farewells." [Full Frontal]

    + "How Atlanta's Umi attracts Hollywood stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth." [THR Eats]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Frank Oz on how Disney is mishandling the Muppets: 'They don't get it.'" Kim Masters talks to the longtime puppeteer. [The Business/KCRW

    + "Obama speechwriter David Litt on the jokes the president can and can't tell." No. 44's former joke writer chats about the job. [I Think You're Interesting/Vox]

    Today's Birthdays: James Wolk, 33, Constance Wu, 36, Reese Witherspoon, 42, Keegan-Michael Key, 47, Nicole Holofcener, 58, Carlton Cuse, 59, Matthew Modine, 59, Bob Costas, 66, Wolf Blitzer, 70, Andrew Lloyd Weber, 70, James Patterson, 71, Stephen Sondheim, 88.