What Matters in Hollywood Today

7:26 AM 3/24/2018

by Ray Rahman

National Student Walkout - Getty - H 2018
Karen Ducey/Getty Images

The Weekender: Hollywood watches as the March for Our Lives takes place across the country. Plus: A non-Black Panther title is finally poised to win the box office, Cannes explains its new Netflix rule and Baldwin Hills makes a splash in the Los Angeles real estate market. — Ray Rahman

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  • March Day

    Hollywood's subtle support: A-listers from Oprah Winfrey to Steven Spielberg are signing checks and stepping back for today's massive March for Our Lives, 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. Read more.

    Hollywood's not-so-subtle support...

    Taylor Swift's donation: The singer, typically not one to make political statements, took to social media to voice her support from the rally, writing: "No one should have to go to school in fear of gun violence. Or to a nightclub. Or to a concert. Or to a movie theater. Or to their place of worship. I’ve made a donation to show my support for the students, for the March For Our Lives campaign, for everyone affected by these tragedies, and to support gun reform."

    George Clooney's letter: Writing in a special edition of The Guardian guest-edited by the Stoneman Douglas students, the actor congratulated the students on their advocacy so far, writing: "Amal and I stand behind you, in support of you, in gratitude to you. You make me proud of my country again."

    Lin-Manuel Miranda's and Ben Platt's song: The Broadway favorites announced that they'll be part of the performance lineup at the D.C. demonstration. Together, they'll perform "Found/Tonight," a mashup of songs from Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen.

    Other performers: Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Hudson, and Vic Mensa are among the acts expected to play today.

    Bill Murray's essay: In an NBC News op-ed, Murray wrote. "I was thinking, looking at the kids in Parkland, Fla., who have started these anti-gun protests, that it really was the students that began the end of the Vietnam War. It was the students who made all the news, and that noise started, and then the movement wouldn't stop."

    What the day will look like...

    Schedule: Across the country, marches are already beginning. Per the Washington Post, the main demonstration in D.C., is officially scheduled to run from noon to 3 p.m. on Pennsylvania Avenue, though the streets will be full of demonstrators well before and after the official schedule.

    Los Angeles' March will commence downtown at 9 a.m. PT (Santa Monica has its own march at 10:30 a.m. PT), while several other cities are participating including New York and Chicago.

    Internationally, American students in London are organizing as well. 

    How to watch: On top of wall-to-wall coverage from the usual cable-news suspects, the event will be broadcast throughout the day everywhere from MTV to Twitter. See the live breakdown.

    Where Trump will be: The president may or may not watch the D.C. event, but he definitely won't be near it: He's decided to spend the weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

    The movement's future: "In an undisclosed strip-mall location, the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High shooting — and a few key alumni allies — are building a social-media content studio that just might reform America’s crazy gun laws," Dave Cullen writes in a Vanity Fair piece that goes "inside the secret meme lab designed to propel #NeverAgain beyond the march."

  • 'Black Panther' Dethroned

    Receipts: Pacific Rim: Uprising is on its way to unseating the historic Marvel film, writes Pamela McClintock:

    The big-budget tentpole may not open to much more than $23 million in its U.S. debut, according to early Friday returns, but that'll be enough to win the weekend. The film was on course to gross $9 million-plus on Friday, including $2.4 million in Thursday previews.

    Black Panther, meanwhile, is expected to earn $17 million to $18 million, while Sherlock Gnomes is tracking for a muted $12 million debut. Read more.

    A new record: Speaking of Black Panther, it's now official — the Ryan Coogler movie has become the top-grossing superhero film of all time in North America, not accounting for inflation.

    It reached the milestone today after passing up fellow Marvel title The Avengers, which grossed $623.4 million in 2012. Black Panther is only one of seven films to ever earn $600 million or more domestically (it currently ranks No. 6 on the list). 

    The Cannes ban: Festival head Thierry Fremaux explains the decision to keep Netflix out of the fest's competition lineup. Rhonda Richford writes:  

    Last year when Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories were allowed in competition, the decision sparked a worldwide uproar. French filmmakers and unions condemned the move and vowed protests.

    Fremaux admits in an interview with Le Film Francais that he overplayed his hand with Netflix, thinking they would bend their rules for the festival. “Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in cinemas. I was presumptuous, they refused.”

    As a result, the festival has changed the rules to require theatrical release in France. “The Netflix people loved the red carpet and would like to be present with other films," he said. "But they understand that the intransigence of their own model is now the opposite of ours." Full story.

    Elsewhere in film...

    ? Matt Damon talks inclusion riders: “There have been a lot of back channel conversations that have been going on,” Damon told THR. “I would say most of the people I know are activated around this and talking about this. There’s no reason our industry shouldn’t look like our country demographically.”

    He continued: “We hired Fanshen [Cox DiGiovani, head of strategic outreach at Damon and Ben Affleck's Pearl Street films] a few years ago with issues of inclusion because we needed to do better. And she brought us the Annenberg study that was done out of USC, which was just the data collection on the real numbers industry-wide. And they were horrible. It was alarming and embarrassing. So she kind of challenged us with that.” Read more.

    ? MoviePass lowers subscription price: The 3 million-strong subscription service that seems intent on confounding theater chains and film studios with its curiously low price shaved yet another dollar from its monthly fee. For $6.95 per month, new subscribers will get one movie ticket per day, a minor catch being that users must pay for a year up-front; there's also a one-time $6.55 processing fee.

    ? Tiffany Haddish goes Lego: The actress is joining the voice cast of Lego Movie 2 as a key new character, though plot details are still under wraps. 

    ? Michael Showalter's next comedy: The Big Sick director will helm an untitled holiday comedy from Universal starring Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain. The plot: Two women fight the elements to make it home in time for Christmas.

    ? Nate Parker's return: The director's first film since Birth of a Nation — and its derailment thanks to resurfaced rape charges — will be Black & Blue, a drama about LAPD hero Ralph Waddy, who worked through a racially charged period in L.A. that included the Watts riots. 

    ? Megan Fox and Josh Duhamel reunite: The Transformers alums are set to star in the upcoming family film Think Like a Dog, directed by 10 Things I Hate About You helmer Gil Junger.

    ? Nahnatchka Khan's feature debut: The Fresh Off the Boat creator will direct an untitled romantic comedy for Netflix that'll star her FOTB star Randall Park alongside Ali Wong.

    ? FilmRise acquires Miseducation of Cameron Post: The New York-based distributor is planning a late-summer release for Desiree Akhavan's Sundance Grand Jury prize winner, starring Chloe Grace Moretz.

  • FremantleMedia Pay Gap

    Money matters: The production company's U.K. gender numbers aren't great, writes Scott Roxborough:

    FremantleMedia in the U.K. pays its male employees on average 32 percent more than its female employees, a gender pay gap that rises to 84 percent if bonuses are included.

    The company, producer of such television shows as American Idol, The X Factor and The Young Pope, published the figures Friday as part of new regulations requiring British companies to report disparities in pay according to gender.

    "These issues are not unique either to us or to our industry," said Nicky Gray, human resources director for FremantleMedia Group. "We therefore need to be realistic about the time and collective effort it will take to bridge the gap … we are committed to playing out part." Full story.

    Elsewhere in TV...

    ? Russell Simmons sued for $10M over alleged rape: Less than two months after he was hit with a $5 million-dollar lawsuit from a woman accusing him of rape, Simmons is being hit with another anonymous woman asking for at least $10 million in punitive damages. Details.

    ? Michael Stuhlbarg joins Channel 4's Jerusalem: The Shape of Water star joins the upcoming period spy drama's cast alongside Matt Lauria, Brandon P. Bell, Emma Appleton and more.

    ? Time and Blumhouse Television tackle gun violence: The media companies are teaming up to produce two docs, The Walkout (currently in production) and Enough (planned for April 2019, Columbine's 20th anniversary), about the history and impact of gun violence in schools.

    Guest column: Zen and the art of the jump shot: Actor and writer Suli McCullough, who became a close confidante of Garry Shandling while guest starring in The Larry Sanders Show, reminisces about his experiences with the late comedy legend:

    Garry Shandling was like a brother. At the time of his death, we were quietly working on stand-up material for a comedy special and a TV series idea based on his journals, tentatively titled Halfway to Hawaii. Garry would often sum this show up by saying, “It’s not about me…but then again, it is!”

    When we first met, we connected thanks to a mutual admiration of Muhammad Ali, which led to a deep discussion about race relations in America. Our talk was the opposite of one of those patronizing, “So, do think O.J. was guilty?” conversations. Garry had genuine empathy regarding the difficulty of being black in Hollywood and in America.

    I remember him saying, “Man, I wish I would have met you earlier. We could have explored some of these things on the show.” Garry Shandling was “woke” long before that was a thing. Read more.

  • South L.A. Rises

    Weekend read: Beyond the "Black Beverly Hills," South L.A. real estate is heating up with a new Hollywood generation, writes Peter Kiefer:

    Issa Rae isn’t the only industry player putting down roots in neighborhoods where Lenny Kravitz and Tina Turner have lived — prices are soaring and diverse buyers are discovering historic homes, A-list views and "strong family feel."

    The most intriguing theory of the boom centers on Barack Obama, who attended a 2012 fundraising breakfast in View Park hosted by real estate developer Charles Quarles. For many of the 300 influencers who attended, from Jamie Lee Curtis to Ted Sarandos and Nicole Avant, it was their first exposure to the area’s historic architecture and breathtaking views. Full story.

    + Apartments for rent: Scandalous Hollywood history included. Villa Carlotta's $5.5 million renovation restores the property — a favorite haunt of rock bohemians such as Jim Morrison — and its 1920s details as 50 units will hit the market soon. Read more.

    What else we're reading...

    — "Chloe Sevigny wants to 'smash the patriarchy." Amy Zimmerman talks to the actress about her new movie and sexism in Hollywood. [Daily Beast]

    — "The stench of it stays with everybody: Inside the Super Mario Bros movie." Keith Stuart revisits the 1993 disaster with the movie's principals. [The Guardian

    — "Genius Junior and the genial throwback kitsch of the game-show revival." Troy Patterson goes deep on the genre. [New Yorker]

    — "Smashing Pumpkins say they're happy now. Can they keep it together?" Joe Coscarelli profiles the reunited '90s band. [New York Times]

    — "Wes Anderson's greatest meals." Chris Fuhrmeister ranks the director's best food scenes, from Rushmore to Grand Budapest Hotel. [Eater]

    What else we're hearing...

    + "Judd Apatow: Interview." The director discusses comedy in the age of #MeToo. [I Have to Ask / Slate]

    + "Billions and Rounders with Brian Koppelman." The writer-producer talks to Bill Simmons about his work, plus HBO's Andre the Giant. [Bill Simmons Podcast / The Ringer

    Today's Birthdays: Finn Jones, 30, Lake Bell, 39, Jessica Chastain, 41, Alyson Hannigan, 44, Jim Parsons, 45, Tig Notaro, 47, Lara Flynn Boyle, 48, Star Jones, 56, Louie Anderson, 65, Tommy Hilfiger, 67.