‘Lovestruck’: Beth Riesgraf, Jeffery Self & Linda Park Cast In Fox’s Tom Kapinos Pilot

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Leverage and Complications alumna Beth Riesgraf, Jeffery Self (You’re Killing Me) and Linda Park (Bosch) are set as series regulars opposite Steve Kazee and Rachel Bilson in Fox’s untitled hourlong dramedy pilot, tentatively titled Lov…

How Disney Could Shake Up Fox Film Slate, Starting With Brad Pitt’s ‘Ad Astra’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Disney’s $71 billion acquisition of Fox may be complete, but the studio’s distribution team now must figure out how to integrate Fox’s existing movie slate into its own.

The Burbank-based studio plans to release all of Fox’s films, an individual with knowledge of the slate tells TheWrap, but some of the 13 Fox films slated for release in the next 12 months will be moved around in the coming weeks to avoid competing against Disney’s own 2019 slate. Disney declined to comment.

The likeliest target for a move: James Gray’s sci-fi film “Ad Astra,” starring Brad Pitt as an astronaut who chases after his father (Tommy Lee Jones) who disappeared on a failed mission to Neptune decades earlier. Fox has booked the film to open May 24 — the same day as Disney’s live-action adaptation of the animated hit “Aladdin,” making a date change all but inevitable.

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“At this point, it’s quite likely that ‘Ad Astra’ will either be moved or taken off the slate,” Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock said. “It’s coming out the same day as ‘Aladdin,’ and even before the merger there was no promotional material or trailer for this film even two months away from release.”

In addition to “Ad Astra,” the X-Men spinoff “New Mutants” is also likely to get a push. Unlike other Marvel films that Disney has released, this one is a horror movie, a genre that Disney has mostly avoided. “New Mutants” has also been pushed back twice from its original spring 2018 release to August 2019, and reshoots that were announced last year have not taken place.

It’s also possible that at least some Fox titles could bypass theaters altogether for release on Disney’s upcoming Disney+ streaming platform or even Hulu, in which the company now has a majority stake.

In some ways, Disney can easily absorb an expanded slate. Over the last few years, the studio has dominated the box office charts by releasing the fewest films of any major studio yet making every release feel like an event. Since 2015, the studio has never released more than 13 films in a single year, with 11 scheduled for 2019. Now it’s in control of a Fox operation that released 26 films in the past two years, 41 if you include titles released by Fox Searchlight.

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That output is expected to drop dramatically — especially after Disney surprised the industry on Thursday by shuttering Elizabeth Gabler’s Fox 2000 division, which has released films like “Hidden Figures,” “Love, Simon” and “The Hate U Give.” In addition, the studio on Thursday laid off many of the top distribution, marketing and publicity executives who had been overseeing the release of Fox’s upcoming movies.

With the Fox slate, Disney gains a host of more grown-up fare — a category it has avoided in recent years (the studio’s last R-rated film was 2013’s “The Fifth Estate,” one of the final releases in its now-lapsed distribution partnership with DreamWorks). But adult-skewing films could more easily fit into a schedule loaded with the studio’s mainstay family fare: James Mangold’s untitled biopic on the Ford-Ferrari motor-sports rivalry, due November 15, isn’t seeking the same audience as the following week’s “Frozen II.”

Few expect much schedule juggling at Fox Searchlight, which has enjoyed plenty of Oscar success in recent years but only has the upcoming biopic “Tolkien” officially slated for release. Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley’s division could maintain a degree of independence akin to what Harvey and Bob Weinstein enjoyed when Disney owned Oscar powerhouse Miramax (before selling off the division in 2010).

Also Read: Disney Layoffs Claim Top Fox Executives Including Chris Aronson, Andrew Cripps, Pam Levine and More

Beyond 2019, the Disney-Fox balancing act gets even more intriguing. Disney has yet to fill in much of its 2020 slate beyond date placeholders, while Fox has some titles with serious box office potential.

The biggest of them is, of course, “Avatar 2,” the sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time and which is set for a December 2020 release. That could plug a hole that Disney recently filled with new releases in the “Star Wars” franchise — which helped the studio rule the holiday box office market from 2015-17.  “Episode IX” at the end of this year.

But following the disappointing results for last summer’s “Solo,” which became the lowest-grossing “Star Wars” release ever, Disney hit the pause button on the franchise with no further plans for big-screen installments beyond this December’s “Episode IX.” Instead, Lucasfilm is now focused on developing “Star Wars”-themed shows for the upcoming Disney+ streaming service.

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“‘Avatar’ is the perfect way for ‘Star Wars’ to take a break from theatrical release,” Bock said. “James Cameron has a tentpole set up for them, and who knows, maybe it’s possible that Disney tries also putting something different into that time of year for a different audience.”

Another place where Disney might step aside for Fox is Valentine’s Day 2020, where “Kingsman: The Great Game” is currently set for release and where Disney has a live-action placeholder slot. On the other hand, Disney is likely to consider a shift for “Gambit,” the planned “X-Men” spinoff starring Channing Tatum which hasn’t started production and is currently set for March 2020 release, the same month as Pixar’s “Onward” and Disney’s “Mulan” remake.

Another Fox film with big four-quadrant potential is Steven Spielberg’s upcoming remake of “West Side Story,” which seeks to capitalize on the current big-screen musical craze. No release has been set, but with filming set to start this summer, it’s likely that Disney will release that film in the latter half of 2020 as a potential awards contender.

Also Read: Elizabeth Gabler’s Fox 2000 Division to Shutter Following Disney Acquisition

With so many films in place and Disney’s future plans to continue their box office domination still under wraps, the studio’s D23 convention is becoming a big date on the industry calendar. Disney has usually made big announcements about its future plans to get fans excited, but with a streaming service to launch and a 2020 slate to unveil, the August event will likely provide answers to where exactly Fox belongs in Disney’s growing stable.

Regardless of the specifics, this much is certain: In 2018, Disney’s $3.09 billion domestic gross accounted for 26 percent of the year’s record-breaking $11.9 billion gross. Add Fox’s $1.08 billion to that total, and the mega-studio’s market share would have been 35 percent. With even more popular titles now added to its already strong IP stable, Disney is in position to further tighten its grip on the box office.

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Disney Closes Its $71.3 Billion Acquisition of 21st Century Fox

Disney Layoffs Claim Top Fox Executives Including Chris Aronson, Andrew Cripps, Pam Levine and More

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Disney dropped the hammer on Thursday, cutting jobs on the Twentieth Century Fox studio lot, starting from the top.

The layoffs, which are expected to eventually impact as many as 4,000 jobs, claimed some of Fox’s top executives in distribution, marketing and publicity including longtime studio veterans such as Chris Aronson, Andrew Cripps, Pam Levine and Fox TV president Greg Meidel.

Fox head of distribution Chris Aronson was among the first executives at the studio to get the call, putting out a statement on Thursday announcing that he had been let go.

“I am extremely grateful for my time at [Twentieth Century Fox] under the leadership of Tom, Jim, and Stacey,” Aronson said in the statement. “It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the domestic distribution team, which I consider to be the gold standard in the business. While I am disappointed not to continue, I look forward to starting a new chapter in this business during this exciting time of change.”

Also Read: Disney Expected to Lay Off 4,000 Employees at Fox

Fox president of international distribution Andrew Cripps, another well-regarded executive in the industry was also let go on Thursday. Cripps previously worked at IMAX, helping to oversee the exhibitor’s global expansion. He served as president of international at Paramount before that.

Senior leadership for the studio’s marketing team was also gutted on Thursday.

Pam Levine, Fox’s president of worldwide theatrical marketing, was also pink-slipped. Levine took over that role in October 2016, overseeing successful and award-winning marketing campaigns for a wide range of films since, including “Hidden Figures,” “Logan,” “The Post,” “The Greatest Showman” and “Deadpool 2” as well as “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Prior to rejoining Fox, Levine was chief marketing officer at HBO, for five years, leading all of the company’s marketing for “Game of Thrones,” the launch of “True Detective,” “Girls,” “Silicon Valley,” “Veep” and “Last Week Tonight w John Oliver.”

Also Read: Elizabeth Gabler’s Fox 2000 Division to Shutter Following Disney Acquisition

Co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing Kevin Campbell was also laid off. Campbell rejoined the studio in 2017 after most recently serving as Head of Marketing for Amblin Partners.

Before his role at Amblin, Campbell was executive vice president of marketing at Disney and brand lead for DreamWorks Studios titles released through the Touchstone banner. While at Disney, he oversaw the marketing campaigns for many films, including the critically acclaimed box-office hits “Bridge of Spies,” “Into The Woods,” “The Help” and “Lincoln.”

Consumer products Chief Jim Fielding got the news on Thursday that he would not be staying with company and Julie Rieger, Fox chief data strategist and head of media, was also let go.

Also Read: Disney Studio Chairman Alan Horn Tells Fox Staff to Prepare for ‘Quite a Bit of Change’

Marketing guru and chief content officer Tony Sella was laid off, along with Heather Phillips, executive vice president and head of domestic publicity; Mike Dunn, president of product strategy and consumer business development; and Dan Berger, executive vice president of corporate communications.

On Wednesday, Disney closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox’s film and TV entertainment assets. Now starts the arduous process of merging the two giant companies.

The layoffs are expected to cut deep through the Fox ranks. Some staff, the executive said, will move over to Disney temporarily in a transitional role, though it is unclear at this juncture how long some will have a job at the newly combined company.

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Elizabeth Gabler’s Fox 2000 Division to Shutter Following Disney Acquisition

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Disney is shutting down the Fox 2000 film division, run by Elizabeth Gabler.

The division will close its doors after Joe Wright’s “The Woman in the Window,” which stars Amy Adams and Gary Oldman. Disney will complete films that are currently in production, but it is unclear what this means for Gabler and the rest of her team going forward. No one got an official notice on Thursday, but the team was informed of the decision.

In October, Disney had said that Gabler would be one of the Fox executives moving over to Disney when the merger closed, and that she would serve as president of production at Fox 2000.

Also Read: Disney Expected to Lay Off 4,000 Employees at Fox

Fox 2000 has produced other hits such as “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Life of Pi,” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” Gabler helped spearhead films like “Hidden Figures,” “Love, Simon” and “The Hate U Give.”

Fox began the process of laying off about 4,000 employees on Thursday, one day after the film and TV studio finalized its multibillion-dollar sale to Disney. Fox head of distribution Chris Aronson was among the first executives at the studio to get the call, and Fox president of international distribution Andrew Cripps was also let go on Thursday, along with Heather Phillips, executive vice president and head of domestic publicity; Mike Dunn, president of product strategy and consumer business development; and Dan Berger, executive vice president of corporate communications.

Also Read: Disney Studio Chairman Alan Horn Tells Fox Staff to Prepare for ‘Quite a Bit of Change’

Pam Levine, Fox’s president of worldwide theatrical marketing, was also among those let go, along with co-president of worldwide theatrical marketing Kevin Campbell, and marketing guru and chief content officer Tony Sella.

On Wednesday, Disney closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox’s film and TV entertainment assets. Now starts the arduous process of merging the two giant companies. The Fox acquisition almost doubled the banners managed by Disney, and with 20CF and Fox Searchlight, there wasn’t room for Fox 2000.

Representatives for Disney and Fox have not yet responded to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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Disney Expected to Lay Off 4,000 Employees at Fox

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The other shoe has dropped: Fox began the process of laying off about 4,000 employees on Thursday, one day after the film and TV studio finalized its multibillion-dollar sale to Disney, a studio executive told TheWrap.

Senior-level staff will likely be the first impacted by the cuts, the executive said. Fox human resources began calling employees at the senior vice president, executive vice president and presidential level to deliver the news on Thursday.

Fox head of distribution Chris Aronson was among the first executives at the studio to get the call, putting out a statement on Thursday announcing that he had been let go.

Also Read: Disney Studio Chairman Alan Horn Tells Fox Staff to Prepare for ‘Quite a Bit of Change’

“I am extremely grateful for my time at [Twentieth Century Fox] under the leadership of Tom, Jim, and Stacey,” Aronson said in the statement. “It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the domestic distribution team, which I consider to be the gold standard in the business. While I am disappointed not to continue, I look forward to starting a new chapter in this business during this exciting time of change.”

Fox president of international distribution Andrew Cripps was also let go on Thursday, along with Heather Phillips, executive vice president and head of domestic publicity; Mike Dunn, president of product strategy and consumer business development; and Dan Berger, executive vice president of corporate communications.

On Wednesday, Disney closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox’s film and TV entertainment assets. Now starts the arduous process of merging the two giant companies.

Also Read: Bob Iger on Disney-Fox Deal Close: ‘I Wish I Could Tell You That the Hardest Part Is Behind Us’

The layoffs are expected to cut deep through the Fox ranks. Some staff, the executive said, will move over temporarily in a transitional role, though it is unclear at this juncture how long some will have a job at the newly combined company.

Disney has already set some of its senior leadership under the new structure, announcing in October that Emma Watts would make the move to the studio’s management team, reporting directly to Disney studio head Alan Horn as vice chairman for Twentieth Century Fox Film and president of production at Fox.

Disney also said that Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula will stay on as co-chairmen for Fox Searchlight and will also report directly to Horn, along with Elizabeth Gabler, who will serve as president of production at Fox 2000.

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Hours before Fox executives started getting calls about layoffs, Walt Disney Studio chairman Alan Horn and studio president Alan Bergman sent a memo to Fox staff thanking them for their patience as they prepare for “quite a bit of change.”

“Although there is much to look forward to, we know this integration will entail quite a bit of change across our organizations,” Horn and Bergman wrote. “We want to acknowledge that and assure you we are committed to engaging in this process thoughtfully and communicating changes as we are able – most importantly with respect for all involved.”

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Ratings: ‘Empire’ Sinks to Series Lows in Second Episode Since Jussie Smollet Arrest

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Empire” sunk to series lows on Wednesday, one week after an already-rough midseason premiere. Those episodes marked the first two original hours of the Fox soap since star Jussie Smollett was arrested and charged with filing a false police report in Chicago.

Last night, “Empire” managed a 1.1 rating/6 share among adults 18-49 and 4 million total viewers. The drama’s previous series lows came on Halloween 2018, when the show drew a 1.2 demo rating and 4.2 million overall audience members.

The “Empire” midseason return a week ago tallied a 1.3 rating and 4.4 million viewers, per Nielsen, which means this follow-up episode slipped an additional 18 percent in the demo and 9 percent overall. As a result of those declines, CBS was able to tie Fox for first-place in primetime-ratings averages among adults 18-49. The “Survivor” home topped the evening in eyeballs of any age.

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CBS and Fox tied for first in ratings, both with a 1.1 rating/5 share in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic. CBS was first in total viewers with an average of 6.3 million, according to preliminary numbers. Fox was fourth in total viewers with 3.6 million.

For CBS, “Survivor” from 8 p.m to 10 p.m. posted a 1.3/6 and 7 million viewers. “SEAL Team” at 10 had a 0.7/4 and 4.9 million viewers.

For Fox, after “Empire,” “Star” at 9 received a 1.0/4 and 3.2 million viewers.

Also Read: Ratings Tank for First ‘Empire’ Since Jussie Smollett Arrest

ABC was third in ratings with a 0.9/4 and in viewers with 3.8 million. “The Goldbergs” at 8 put up a 1.2/6 and 4.5 million viewers. At 8:30, “Schooled” had a 0.9/4 and 3.6 million viewers. “Modern Family” at 9 got a 1.1/5 and 4.3 million viewers. “Single Parents” at 9:30 received a 0.7/3 and 3.1 million viewers. At 10, drama “Whiskey Cavalier” closed primetime to a 0.6/3 and 3.7 million viewers.

NBC was fourth in ratings with a 0.8/4, but second in viewers with 5.1 million. A “Voice” recap from 8 to 10 averaged a 1.0/5 and 6 million viewers. A Michael Buble special at 10 had a 0.5/2 and 3.3 million viewers.

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Univision was fifth in ratings with a 0.4/2 and in viewers with 1.2 million.

Telemundo was sixth in ratings with a 0.4/2 and in viewers with 1.1 million.

The CW was seventh in ratings with a 0.2/1 and in viewers with 692,000. The “Riverdale” musical episode at 8 got a 0.3/1 and 832,000 viewers. At 9, the “All American” season finale received a 0.2/1 and 552,000 viewers.

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Ratings: NBC’s ‘The Village’ Series Premiere Tops at 10PM

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

NBC topped Tuesday in demo ratings thanks to “Ellen’s Game of Games” and “This Is Us.” Its series premiere of “The Village” wasn’t as big, but it still won at 10 p.m.

Though Fox’s debut of “Mental Samurai” at 9 o’clock wasn’t great, a “MasterChef Junior” lead-in and the network’s abbreviated primetime hours allowed it to tie for second in the key 18-49 demographic, running neck-and-neck with ABC.

CBS finished first in total viewers despite coming in last among the so-called Big 4 broadcasters in terms of demo ratings.

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NBC was first in ratings with a 1.3 rating/6 in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and second in total viewers with an average of 6 million, according to preliminary numbers.

ABC and Fox was tied for second in ratings, both with a 0.7/3. ABC was third in total viewers with 3.4 million, Fox was fourth with 2.5 million.

CBS was fourth in ratings with a 0.6/3, but first in viewers with 6.4 million.

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The CW, Univision and Telemundo tied for fifth in ratings, each with a 0.4/2. CW was fifth in total viewers with 1.33 million, Univision was sixth with 1.27 million and Telemundo was seventh with 1.1 million.

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Bob Iger on Disney-Fox Deal Close: ‘I Wish I Could Tell You That the Hardest Part Is Behind Us’

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