Election Day 2017: Dems Get Morale Boost With Governor Wins; Transgender Candidate Makes History

It was one year ago Wednesday that American politics were shaken to the core with the stunning upset victory for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Fast-forward 12 months and the Democrats have some renewed swagger, winning two governorships by big margins as voters thumbed their noses at extreme nationalism.
The Dems’ big night certainly could bode well as political junkies — and average Americans — start to look ahead to the 2018 midterm elections.
Ralph Northam

‘The Deuce’ Star Emily Meade on ‘Heartbreaking’ Finale Death, Season 2’s New ‘Perspective’

(Warning: Spoilers from the Season 1 finale of “The Deuce”)

“The Deuce” delivered a shocking death in its Season 1 finale on Sunday, and the scene wasn’t an easy one for the show’s team.

Emily Meade, who plays prostitute-turned-porn actress Lori on the HBO drama, told TheWrap that it was tough to watch from set as Ruby (Pernell Walker) was pushed out of a window to her death by a john.

Also Read: ‘The Deuce’ Star Dominique Fishback on Darlene’s ‘Questionable’ Choices, Big Finale Twist

“It’s heartbreaking,” Meade said. “Ruby’s obviously one of the most likable and charming, sweet characters, so that’s obviously really upsetting to see. I was actually there the day they were shooting it, and it was such a disturbing scene to see her being so objectified as a human — really heart-wrenching.”

As for how the twist will change things for the characters on the show that also stars James Franco and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Meade points out that the impact of Ruby’s demise might prove to be muted.

“I think it’s an interesting reflection of seeing that these characters are so desensitized that a lot of them aren’t even as deeply affected by it as they should be, and I think that’s one of the most effective things about it is the lack of effect it has on a lot of people living in this life,” she said.

Also Read: Maggie Gyllenhaal on How ‘The Deuce’ Uses Porn, Prostitution to Look at Current Political Reality

The finale shows Lori getting more success in the porn world, which Meade said is a “dream come true” for the fame-craved character — for now, at least.

“I hope that Lori becomes the porn star she thinks she wants to be, but then realizes the consequences of that and the reality of it,” Meade said. “I think that would be a very interesting thing to play with. Especially in today’s climate with everything going on with sex harassment and consent, it’s a really interesting time to question what is sexual empowerment and what is being sexually taken advantage of.”

Meade, who is currently filming the Edward Zwick-directed movie “Trial by Fire,” teases that the second “Deuce” season will involve a time jump to progress further into the evolution of the porn industry. And though she hasn’t seen any scripts yet, she imagines that the recent real-world accusations of sexual misconduct and assault against Hollywood figures will give new “perspective” to the storylines.

“On ‘The Deuce,’ we’re dealing with pimps, people who are making porn, prostitutes and porn stars — modern society understands that it’s clear what their intentions are, and it’s clear what they re doing,” Meade said. “And now we’re realizing the very blurred lines of industries that aren’t meant to be about sex and how sex plays a role. Ultimately, we’re not really even doing as much of an expose on the sex industry as is now happening in the film industry.”

“I don’t know how it will play out, but it feels like a very exciting timing for them both to be existing at once,” she added.

Related stories from TheWrap:

What Is HBO’s Next Breakout Comedy Hit?

‘Game of Thrones’ Star Maisie Williams Cannot Wait to Be ‘Free’ of Hit HBO Show

How HBO’s ‘The Deuce’ Avoids Crossing the Line Into Sexual Exploitation

‘The Orville’ Lands Season 2 at Fox

Seth MacFarlane’s “The Orville” has been renewed for a second season by Fox.

“Once again Seth has struck a powerful chord with viewers,” said Fox Broadcasting Company president of entertainment Michael Thorn. “He has delivered a series full of optimism, drama and his trademark humor. We want to thank him and the rest of the talented cast, as well as the producers and crew, for an incredible first season. We can’t wait to see where The Orville travels in the second.”

Executive producers are MacFarlane, Brannon Braga (“Terra Nova”), David A. Goodman (“Family Guy”), Jason Clark (“Ted”) and Liz Heldens (“Mercy”).

Brett Ratner Sues Woman for Libel Over Rape Accusation Made on Facebook

Director Brett Ratner has filed a libel lawsuit in Hawaii against a woman who, in a Facebook post, accused him of raping her.

In the Oct. 20 post, Melanie Kohler said Ratner “was a rapist on at least one night in Hollywood about 12 years ago,” and that he “preyed on me as a drunk girl [and] forced himself upon me,” according to quoted excerpts in the lawsuit.

Filed in Hawaii federal court by Ratner’s attorney, Eric Seitz, the suit “contends that the Defendant’s aforementioned statement is entirely false, fabricated and fictional.” The lawsuit also asserts that Kohler’s statement was published “with knowledge of its falsity, maliciously, and with the intent to harm plaintiff’s reputation and standing.”

Also Read: Brett Ratner Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 6 Women Including Olivia Munn, Natasha Henstridge

The suit seeks special and general damages, punitive damages, and reimbursement of court costs.

The libel lawsuit comes on the same day the Los Angeles Times reported that six women accused Ratner of sexual misconduct ranging from harassment to assault, among them actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge.

After the story, Playboy halted development of a Hugh Hefner biopic Ratner was to direct, and Ratner announced he would “step away” from his relationship with Warner Bros. Shortly after, individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap that the studio would not be renewing its first look deal with Ratner.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Why Warner Bros. Was So Willing to Split With Brett Ratner

Nashville Firm Webster PR to Change Name After CEO Accused of Sexual Assault

UK Police Widen Harvey Weinstein Investigation: 11 Sexual Assault Claims

GLAAD Slams Kevin Spacey for Coming Out in Response to Sex Assault Allegations

Here’s Every Harvey Weinstein Accusation of Sexual Harassment and Assault

Why Warner Bros. Was So Willing to Split With Brett Ratner

Now that Warner Bros. is severing its ties to Brett Ratner and his RatPac Entertainment in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against the “Rush Hour” filmmaker, the tough part is working out the details of that separation.

That’s particularly true of the $450 million co-financing deal that has underwritten much of the studio’s film slate since 2013.

Barry Sine, a Wall Street analyst at Drexel Hamilton, said that the studio would be able to absorb the impact of unwinding the deal, which was expected to end in March 2018. “If they part ways, they’ll survive,” he said of Warner Bros. “‘Justice League’ is ready for distribution, and the company has a deep slate of talent to step in on future productions.”

Also Read: Brett Ratner to ‘Step Away’ From Warner Bros. Projects Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

According to an individual with knowledge of the situation, the studio still plans to release five more films that RatPac helped to finance, including this month’s “Justice League” and next year’s Steven Spielberg film “Ready Player One.”

But Ratner will no longer have studio space on Warner Bros.’ Burbank lot and RatPac’s first-look deal with the studio, which recently expired, will not be renewed, the individual said. The filmmaker has also been removed as a producer of “The Goldfinch,” an adaptation of Donna Tartt’s best-selling novel that was his only active project at the studio.

To several analysts, Warner Bros. had little choice but to cut ties with Ratner following the Los Angeles Times expose on Wednesday in which six women, including actresses Olivia Munn and Natasha Henstridge, accused the producer of sexual harassment or assault. (Ratner’s attorney Marty Singer has denied all allegations.)

“There’s no way they can close their eyes and go back to business,” Ross Gerber, president and CEO of wealth and investment management firm Gerber Kawasaki, told TheWrap. “The bigger issue for them is money: How do we exercise ourselves out of this deal and how do we separate ourselves from what makes us look bad?”

Also Read: Brett Ratner Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 6 Women Including Olivia Munn, Natasha Henstridge

While the studio has made no decision about renewing its co-financing deal with Ratner, there’s no denying that RatPac-Dune has been one of the biggest financiers of Warner Bros. and New Line films, underwriting such hits as “Gravity,” “The LEGO Movie,” Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “The Conjuring 2,” “Wonder Woman,” “Dunkirk” and “It.”

This year, films co-produced by RatPac have accounted for 54 percent of Warner Bros.’ $1.76 billion in domestic revenue at the box office. When films financed by RatPac with New Line are included, that figure increases to 82.8 percent, or $1.46 billion. The only 2017 WB release that grossed over $100 million domestic that was not financed by RatPac is “Kong: Skull Island,” which grossed $168 million.

“My assumption is that they won’t finance any future movies, whatever they’ve spent, they’ve spent and they’ll just write it off,” Gerber said.

Also Read: Patty Jenkins ‘Distressed’ Over Brett Ratner Accusations Days After Giving Him Award

Analysts also dismissed the idea that the negative publicity surrounding Ratner and his financial ties to the studio could negatively impact AT&T’s planned $85 billion acquisition of the studio’s parent company, Time Warner, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

“AT&T and Time Warner is going to be such a large entity that I don’t think any single producer is going to have a material impact,” Sine said. “Time Warner seems to be handling recent industry issues well, and we expect that AT&T will give them wide leeway to continue to do so post-closing.”

“They are buying it for CNN and HBO,” Gerber added. “But what someone might want to be concerned about is how the movie industry is dying. This could be a bullet through a heart as to how we go to the movies on a Friday night.”

Also Read: Playboy Puts Brett Ratner’s Hugh Hefner Biopic on Hold (Exclusive)

For Warner Bros., the optics of maintaining a connection to Ratner were unsustainable after recent accusations of sexual misconduct led to the very public ousters of The Weinstein Company CEO Harvey Weinstein and Amazon Studios head Roy Price.

According to the Associated Press, Warner was the only major Hollywood studio to release a statement about its sexual harassment policies in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein accusations.

“Warner Bros. says harassment and retaliation are not tolerated on its projects and that policies are constantly being reviewed to make improvements and changes as needed,” the studio said. “Warner Bros also requires management level executives to participate in regular training and encourages all employees to report concerns regarding harassment and retaliation.”

Also Read: Hollywood Declares Brett Ratner ‘King of the Pigs’ on Twitter

For Gerber, the separation of Ratner is a welcome sign of change in an industry that has long turned a blind eye to inappropriate behavior.

“There are a lot of sick people and they should not be in a position of power,” he said. “There are plenty of nice people in Hollywood to replace them with and I think we’re going to see a change.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Playboy Puts Brett Ratner’s Hugh Hefner Biopic on Hold (Exclusive)

Hollywood Declares Brett Ratner ‘King of the Pigs’ on Twitter

Director Brett Ratner Says Rotten Tomatoes Is the ‘Destruction of Our Business’

Brett Ratner to ‘Step Away’ From Warner Bros. Projects Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

ABC Seeks as Much as $2.6 Million for 2018 Oscars Ads (EXCLUSIVE)

Viewership for TV’s annual Oscars broadcast is at a relative low, but that isn’t keeping ABC from seeking some of the highest costs possible to advertise in next year’s broadcast. The Disney-owned network, which last year renewed a deal to broadcast the glitzy event through 2028, is seeking as much as $2.6 million for a […]

John Huddy, Fired by Fox News After Sister Accused Bill O’Reilly, Lawyers Up (Exclusive)

John Huddy, a former Fox News correspondent who was fired after his sister spoke out against Bill O’Reilly, has hired a lawyer, he told TheWrap.

Huddy, who worked in Jerusalem, was terminated on Oct. 23, the same day his sister, former Fox News anchor Juliet Huddy, talked about her experiences with O’Reilly to NBC’s Megyn Kelly. Juliet Huddy settled a sexual harassment suit against O’Reilly earlier this year.

“At this point I’m retaining a lawyer to fight Fox’s false accusations,” John Huddy said. “In my experience at FNC and to my knowledge I have never seen someone summarily fired the way I was. What I have seen is Fox renewing the contracts of people accused of sexual harassment, assault, lewd behavior and fabricating stories.”

Also Read: Fox News Fires Bill O’Reilly Accuser’s Brother John Huddy

The network has maintained that the dismissal was related to a “physical altercation” involving John Huddy earlier this month. He denied any altercation had occurred.

“There was never any ‘physical altercation’ as alleged by Fox. The first I heard I was terminated for a ‘physical altercation’ was by reading it in the news. It simply didn’t happen.” he said.

Huddy said the incident Fox News appeared to be referencing was an argument he had at the Barcelona airport on Oct. 12, after a freelance photographer pushed an equipment cart at him. Huddy said that there was nothing physical about the exchange.

Also Read: Bill O’Reilly Sues Ex-New Jersey Rep for $5 Million in Defamation Case

He called Fox News “a company that specializes in deceit. It is a company that tries to silence people who speak out by intimidation, slander and threats. They did it to my sister and now they’re trying to do it to me.”

Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Huddy added that part of that effort included Fox News’ seizure of all his communications equipment.

“Fox confiscated all means of communication I had — phones, computers and even my car,” he said.

O’Reilly was forced out of Fox News after numerous sexual harassment settlements came to light. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that he paid out a whopping $32 million to a woman who accused him of “repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her.”

O’Reilly has denied any wrongdoing, and said he paid the settlement to spare his children from embarrassment.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Fox News Fires Bill O’Reilly Accuser’s Brother John Huddy

Why Did Bill O’Reilly Pay $32 Million? One Accusation May Be Key

Megyn Kelly Slams Bill O’Reilly, Fox News PR Chief for ‘Vindictiveness’ to Harassment Accusers

Timeline of Fox Sexual Harassment and Other Scandals, From Roger Ailes to Bill O’Reilly (Photos)

15 Survivors of Weinstein Sexual Abuse Share Experience, Hope at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast Los Angeles (Video)

Fifteen survivors of alleged sexual abuse by disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein gathered at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in Los Angeles on Thursday to share their experiences and urge the entertainment industry to change its culture.

In a morning filled with intense emotion and determination, Hollywood’s leading women executives, actresses and creative figures came together to condemn recent revelations of sexual misconduct and offer solutions.

“I’m astounded how differently women in power are treated,” said actress Claire Forlani, who has described being harassed by Weinstein on five different occasions. “We’re second class citizens and that needs to change.”

Also Read: Courage in Journalism Award Winner Saniya Toiken Doesn’t Feel Lonely Despite Constant Threats

Zoe Brock, who wrote a powerful essay about her encounter with Weinstein at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival, said she was angry that Weinstein attacked her, and equally angry at the people who let him be alone with her in a room.

“I have spent the last 20 years thinking that I was lucky for not understanding how dangerous he was,” she said Thursday. “I spent 20 years thinking he was a pathetic douchebag — nothing that dangerous.”

Nearly 300 leading women in the entertainment industry came together at the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills to talk about combatting sexism and creating inclusivity.

The 15 survivors of alleged Weinstein harassment and assault wore teal ribbons to signify their experiences. They were: Katherine Kendall, Sarah Ann Masse, Jessica Barth, Chelsea Skidmore, Alice Evans, Larissa Gomes, Louisette Geiss, Melissa Sagemiller, Louise Godbold, Kendall Rhodes, Venice Cusumano, Lauren Sivan and Leah Lamarr, as well as the aforementioned Forlani and Brock.

Many of them said they had thought they were the only ones, and were reluctant to come forward and bear the consequences. Forlani said she spoke out because she was upset at herself that she did not participate in The New Yorker piece.

“I was afraid. My conditioning was, ‘Carry on. I handled it, I’m now 45 years old, I’m safe,’” she said. “I didn’t want to deal with legal fees, I thought, Harvey is going to come after me, Harvey is going to kill anyone in his sight and I didn’t want to deal with that, so I just abstained — thinking I was being smart. The article came out and I felt shame. I thought, ‘Jesus, I’m not supporting the women.’ I was a part of this — this all happened and it’s time to join forces. It’s time to speak out.”

Lauren Sivan, a Fox 11 reporter, described why she went public with a shocking story about Weinstein masturbating into a potted plant while asking her to watch in 2007. She was disappointed when she shared the story privately.

Also Read: Universal TV Head’s Plan to Change Hollywood Culture: ‘Conscientious Men and More Women in Control’

“Whenever I told that story, anyone that knew him, they said, ‘yep, that’s Harvey.’ No one was ever shocked and it’s time to be shocked,” she said. “That’s not normal behavior. I don’t care what era you were born in.”

But, she added: “Casual harassment has been going on all the time. It doesn’t get those shocking headlines, but it doesn’t mean we don’t experience it all the time.”

Sivan said she was relieved to see an outpouring of women’s support hoping to make a change: “The Harvey Weinstein situation was so empowering to me — to see this tight-knit Hollywood be taken down by powerful women.”

Also at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast, Kelly Bush Novak, founder and CEO of ID, called for gender equality in entertainment — setting a deadline of three years from now.

“Let’s demand that our representation and inclusion in all aspects of our industry be 50/50 by the year 2020,” Bush Novak said in a fiery speech Thursday at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast L.A., crediting the idea to her client, “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway.

“Equal representation in our executives, directors, writers, showrunners, department heads, the DGA, WGA, PGA, IATSE and SAG-AFTRA. On boards of directors,” she said.

IWMF Courage in Journalism Award-winner Saniya Toiken

“We need to hold the studios, production companies and individuals complicit in these crimes accountable — legally and financially,” she said. “We need to boycott those who refuse to cooperate and perpetuate this abuse of power.”

With longstanding gender inequality in Hollywood and a renewed focus on cases of rampant sexual harassment, Universal Television head Pearlena Igbokwe said there is a secret weapon to changing the industry’s male-dominated culture.

“The key is, you need to have incredibly conscientious men and more women in control,” Igbokwe said.

Igbokwe was joined by “Friday Night Lights” executive producer Jason Katims, “Midnight Texas” producer Monica Owusu-Breen and NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke on a panel titled “Embracing Inclusion: Telling Stories That Champion the New Narrative.”

Brooklynn Prince, the seven year old star of “The Florida Project” delighted the room by proudly stating that after being the first “little girl director,” she’d like to one day be the first female president of the United States.

“The Florida Project” star Brooklynn Prince at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast in Los Angeles

IWMF Courage in Journalism Award-winner Saniya Toiken, Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty, from Kazakhstan, was also a featured speaker, who spoke with TheWrap’s Founder and CEO Sharon Waxman about the constant threats in her career as a Kazakh journalist, but said she tells stories because it’s hard for women to “to get in any position.”

TheWrap in 2017 has brought its successful Power Women franchise to Washington D.C., San Francisco, New York, and now Los Angeles, building a broad network and community of professional women who are decision makers, mothers, leaders, wives, innovators and activists.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Ashley Judd on Her Silence About Harvey Weinstein: ‘I Don’t Know That I Would Have Been Believed’

Megyn Kelly Asks Harvey Weinstein Accuser to Explain ‘Forced Oral Sex’ (Video)

How Fabrizio Lombardo Became Harvey Weinstein’s Hustler

Universal TV Head’s Plan to Change Hollywood Culture: ‘Conscientious Men and More Women in Control’

With longstanding gender inequality in Hollywood and a renewed focus on cases of rampant sexual harassment, Universal Television head Pearlena Igbokwe said there is a secret weapon to changing the industry’s male-dominated culture.

“The key is, you need to have incredibly conscientious men and more women in control,” Igbokwe said at TheWrap’s Power Women Breakfast at the Montage Beverly Hills in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Igbokwe was joined by “Friday Night Lights” executive producer Jason Katims, “Midnight Texas” producer Monica Owusu-Breen and NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke on a panel titled “Embracing Inclusion: Telling Stories That Champion the New Narrative.”

They discussed how they are creating change through developing, writing and producing stories of inclusion that encourage understanding.

See Video: Watch NBC President, ‘Friday Night Lights’ EP Talk Hollywood Inclusivity Via Livestream

NBC is soon launching “Female Forward,” a new annual initiative focused on female directors among scripted series. But Salke said that this past season, NBC has felt the real need to do something to include more women in the creative processes.

“This past season, we’ve felt a real need to do something,” she said. “I kept saying, I need to get a toilet plunger and plunge through the process because it just feels constipated. [Finding] female directors as we’re trying to staff these project and finding women to helm these pilots was excruciating.”

Salke said there is a shortage of experienced women to hire. “There were six names out there, and everyone was kind of grabbing them and they were out there making a movie or a show for Netflix,” she said. “It was really sobering and had been leading up to that, but it was really frustrating.”

She added, however, that people are embracing the impending change, and praised FX impresario Ryan Murphy for inspiring her to make a difference.

Also Read: Jennifer Salke, Kelly Bush Novak, Claire Forlani, Lauren Sivan Join Power Women Breakfast LA

“We’re not just going to bring female directors into the process to shadow episodes, but they are going to leave that very season directing an episode of the show,” added Salke. “People want this. They are ready to push women to the forefront. There are a lot of bad guys in the world, but there are so many amazing men that just want to see change and I don’t think we can underestimate that there’s a great force of allies out there.”

Katims added that inclusion means “both parts of the equation: in front of the camera and behind the camera in the writers room. I think that’s an important part of the necessary change and cultural change that we’ve been seeing a lot — and that needs to continue to happen.”

He added, “For me, to see a difference from what it was and what it’s becoming is so important.”

Also Read: Catherine Hardwicke Says ‘Time Is Now’ to Fix Hollywood’s Gender Disparity (Exclusive Video)

“I agree with Jason,” Owusu-Breen chimed in, adding that in the past, the shows she’s worked on “were recognizing differences between human beings, and they were very particular histories that made the stories richer.” She added that her life has always been diverse given that her dad is from Africa and her mother is from Spain.

“My life has always been diverse — there’s no aiming for diversity, it’s just where I came from,” she said. “I feel like now shows are catching up to the world I’ve always lived in.”

TheWrap in 2017 has brought its successful Power Women franchise to Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, and now L.A., building a broad network and community of professional women who are decision-makers and mothers, leaders and wives, innovators and activists.

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Black-ish’ Star Yara Shahidi Talks ‘Revolution,’ Trump-Era ‘Regression’ at Power Women San Francisco (Exclusive Video)

Watch Olympic Medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings Speak at Power Women Breakfast on Facebook Live (Video)

Here’s How These Power Women Give Back to Their Communities (Video)