Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’: Yes, Hands Across America Was a Real Thing in the ’80s

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For those of you who just saw Jordan Peele’s “Us” and wondered where the writer-director got that ingeniously insane idea for Hands Across America in the 1980s-set portion of the film, wonder no more.

It came from history. Hands Across America was a real thing that totally actually happened in 1986. Like, for real.

The idea was hatched in 1985 by Ken Kragen, a music manager and film and TV producer. Kragen was a founding member of USA for Africa, of which Hands Across America was a part. It followed the famed charity single “We Are the World” that featured artists such as Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner and a host of other popular musicians during that era.

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USA for Africa, as the name suggests, was established to ease the pain of poverty in Africa and the U.S.. The idea behind Hands Across America was that by gathering roughly 6 million people to join hands across the continental United States — across four time zones through 16 states and Washington, D.C., from Long Beach, Calif., to New York City — they could raise awareness for poverty and homelessness.

Participants donated money to reserve spaces in the line, which stretched 4,124 miles from coast to coast, and the benefit raised $15 million for the cause, after costs, according to the New York Times.

President Ronald Reagan, then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and a host of celebrities from Michael Jackson to Robin Williams to Kathleen Turner all took part.

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Peele’s film begins with a commercial from 1986 promoting Hands Across America — and the idea resurfaces later in the film as well as a brutally poignant metaphor about poverty, homelessness and the discarded.

“Us” isn’t the first film or TV show to mention the event, which has been referenced in movies like the 1989 Shelley Long comedy “Troop Beverly Hills” and on shows like “Cheers,” “The Golden Girls,” “Seinfeld” and “30 Rock.”

The point is, Hands Across America really did happen.

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Issa Rae-led ‘The Photograph’ Adds Chante Adams, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Y’lan Noel and Kelvin Harrison Jr

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Universal Pictures is spreading the love, announcing on Friday that the studio has added Chante Adams, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Y’lan Noel and Kelvin Harrison Jr. to the cast of its upcoming film “The Photograph.”

The film, which stars “Insecure” creator Issa Rae alongside Lakeith Stanfield (“Sorry to Bother You”), is a romantic drama centered on intertwining love stories in the past and present.

“The Photograph” was written, and will be directed by “Everything, Everything” director Stella Meghie, who has worked with Rae in the past, directing the season three “Insecure” episode “Fresh Like.”

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Rae has also worked before with new “The Photographer” cast member Y’lan Noel, who plays Daniel on HBO’s “Insecure.” Noel also starred in 2018’s “The First Purge.”

Chante Adams recently starred in “Monsters and Men” along with John David Washington, and she’s most known for her role as ’80s and ’90s rapper  Roxanne Shante in Netflix’s “Roxanne Roxanne.” Fellow “Monsters and Men” co-stars Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Jasmine Cephas Jones, of “Hamilton” fame, also joined the cast.

What roles they will play wasn’t revealed.

“The Photograph” is based on an original spec script that Meghie wrote. Will Packer will produce the film along with James Lopez under his company Will Packer Productions.

Also Read: Paul Feig Inks First-Look Production Agreement With Universal

Universal’s senior vice president of production Sara Scott and creative executive Mika Pryce will oversee production for the studio. Rae will serve as executive producer.

Adams is represented by WME and Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Jones is represented by ICM, Ryan LeVine at Jackoway Austen Tyerman and Andrew Tetenbaum at ATA Management.

Harrison Jr. is represented by WME, Stride Management and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano, and Noel is represented by WME, Stride Management and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush & Kaller.

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STX Entertainment Chief Brand Officer Patti Röckenwagner Exits Company

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Patti Röckenwagner is leaving STX Entertainment as the company’s chief brand officer, CEO Robert Simmonds wrote in a memo to staff on Friday.

“While I support her decision, personally I will miss her expansive worldview, strategic counsel and deep connections in the global media and business worlds,” Simmonds wrote in the email. “Those of you who have worked closely with Patti can no doubt attest to her insightful professional advice, expert leadership, and her effective oversight of our brand strategy and positioning.”

Röckenwagner joined STX in 2016 as the media and entertainment company’s chief communications officer before being promoted to her latest role in 2018.

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Simmonds said in the memo that Röckenwagner is leaving to pursue “another opportunity,” though where she’s heading now was not announced.

Röckenwagner will stay with STX through a transitional phase. Simmonds said the company will have more to announce soon.

“It has been a fun, intense and rewarding time for STX and our industry, and there’s no other team I’d want to be on the ride with than with you,” Röckenwagner said in a statement. “I’m excited for your continued success and will be rooting for you.”

More to come…

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Anthony Pellicano, Longtime Hollywood Fixer, Released From Prison After 15 Years

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Notorious Hollywood fixer and private investigator Anthony Pellicano was released from prison on Friday — his 75th birthday — after serving 15 years at Terminal Island Federal Correctional Institution in San Pedro, California.

Pellicano had an A-list clientele of Hollywood stars and executives that included Michael Jackson, CAA co-founder Michael Ovitz and Tom Cruise. Pellicano spent more than a decade in prison after being convicted of 78 crimes, including wiretapping, racketeering and wire fraud.

In 2017, a judge upheld Pellicano’s 15-year prison sentence, calling it “reasonable and sufficient” despite a technical error in the 2008 trial which resulted in two of Pellicano’s charges being vacated by an appeals court in 2015.

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Pellicano faces three years of supervision.

In December 2008, a federal judge sentenced Pellicano to 15 years in prison and ordered him and two other defendants to forfeit a total of $2 million.

Pellicano was accused of bribing police to run the names of celebrities including Garry Shandling and Kevin Nealon through law enforcement databases, and of tapping others’ telephones and recording the conversations of his clients’ business and litigation opponents.

The FBI investigation into Pellicano’s activities began in 2002 when then-L.A. Times journalist Anita Busch reported finding a dead fish with a rose in its mouth and a note reading, “Stop” on her car’s windshield after she wrote articles about Ovitz, who was one of Pellicano’s most powerful clients at the time.

Busch settled her longstanding legal dispute with Ovitz in January 2018.

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Disney Keeps Key Leaders in Place After Day of Layoffs at Fox

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

After a day of layoffs that are expected to claim roughly 4,000 jobs at Fox, Disney attempted to restore a sense of calm Thursday afternoon by listing several key personnel who will keep their jobs, including Emma Watts, vice chairman and president of production at Twentieth Century Fox.

Disney had previously announced some of the people who would make the jump from Fox to the Mouse House, following the company’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox’s film and TV entertainment assets, including Watts and Fox Searchlight co-chairs Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula. Thursday’s announcement, however, provided a more complete look at the new management structure on the Disney lot.

Watts, Utley and Gilula will report directly to Disney Studio chairman Alan Horn. Fox Family will continue to be led by president Vanessa Morrison, who will report directly to Watts.

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

The company said that Elizabeth Gabler, president of production of Fox 2000, will come over to oversee the completion of the current slate of films before the studio closes the door on the label.

Andrea Miloro and Robert Baird will continue to lead Fox Animation, including Blue Sky Studios, as co-presidents. They will report to Horn along with Walt Disney Animation Studios chief creative officer Jennifer Lee.

The rest of Disney’s senior management will remain intact, including Disney live action president of production Sean Bailey, Pixar chief creative officer Pete Docter, Marvel president Kevin Feige and co-president Louis D’Esposito, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, Disney Music Group president Ken Bunt and Disney Theatrical Group president and producer Thomas Schumacher.

Disney’s communications team will be led by Paul Roeder and Carolyn Wilson will oversee human resources.

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

Disney Animation president Andrew Millstein and Pixar Animation president Jim Morris will continue to report to Disney Studios president Alan Bergman.

“At the core of The Walt Disney Studios is the world-class content we produce – from unforgettable experiences for the screen and stage, to stories and characters that find their way into the hearts and homes of fans everywhere,” said Horn in a statement. “Bringing together the legacies, talent, and capabilities of Disney and Fox greatly expands our ability to create a wide range of transportive storytelling experiences for audiences the world over, and we are thrilled to get to work together.”

The announcement of Disney’s leadership structure comes in the aftermath of a trying day on the Fox lot. The studio’s top executive ranks suffered mass layoffs with longtime studio veterans such as Chris Aronson, Andrew Cripps, Pam Levine and Fox TV president Greg Meidel all getting the call that they no longer had a job.

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

Disney also announced on Thursday who would head up the marketing, distribution and business operations side of the studio.

Marketing will be led by president Asad Ayaz. Cathleen Taff will serve as president of Disney distribution, franchise management and business and audience insights. Jeff Miller will lead studio operations, while Bernardine Bradis serves as executive vice president of business affairs and Steve Bardwil leads legal affairs as chief counsel.

Paul Shurgot will serve as executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Jamie Voris will serve as senior vice president and chief technology officer.

Disney’s labor relations will be led by Robert Johnson. All marketing, distribution and business affairs roles will report to Bergman.

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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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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.

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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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‘Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles’ Doc Acquired by Roadside Attractions, Samuel Goldwyn Films

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The worldwide rights to “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles,” Max Lewkowicz’s new documentary, has been co-acquired by Roadside Attractions and Samuel Goldwyn Films.

The documentary tells the story behind Broadway musical Fiddler on The Roof” and its creative roots in early 1960s New York. “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” includes interviews with the Broadway show’s Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning lyricist Sheldon Harnick, legendary producer Hal Prince, original cast members, such as Austin Pendleton, as well as rare archival footage of choreographer Jerome Robbins.

“Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” also features new interviews with Broadway luminaries and cultural influencers including “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Chaim Topol, Harvey Fierstein, and famed authors Fran Lebowitz, Calvin Trillin and Nathan Englander.

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“Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” was directed by Max Lewkowicz — who was nominated for an Emmy for his 2016 documentary “Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro” — and co-written with Valerie Thomas. The film was produced by Lewkowicz, Thomas, Ann Oster, Rita Lerner, and Patti Kenner.

“Fiddler is a show very near to our hearts,” said Roadside co-founders Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff, “This film is a must-see for anyone who loves this show and wants to better understand why it remains such a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring countless student and professional productions and generations of performers.”

Opening in 1964, “Fiddler on the Roof” held the record for the longest-running musical for almost 10 years. The play won nine Tony Awards, and has spawned five Broadway revivals. Based on the stories of Yiddish author and playwright Sholem Aleichem, it is among the most well-known musicals in the world.

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The musical tells the story of Tevye the Milkman and his struggle to find grooms for his five daughters under the oppression of Czarist Russia and the early-20th-century pogroms threatening the Jewish community and the mythical village of Anatevka. Few, however, understand the context against which the show was created, during another time and place of tremendous social change: the creative and intellectual milieu of 1960s New York. It was a time when virtually every aspect of society was being questioned, including gender roles, sexuality, race relations, and the role of religion in public life.

“Fiddler is a show with themes that remain hugely relevant today,” says Peter Goldwyn of Samuel Goldwyn Films. “This documentary offers profound insight into the historical and cultural movements that inspired Fiddler as well as its enduring appeal around the world.”

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The deal was negotiated by Peter Goldwyn of Samuel Goldwyn Films, Angel An from Roadside Attractions, and Adam J. Greene on behalf of the filmmakers.

Roadside and Goldwyn will release “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” in theaters this summer.

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Lionsgate Names Jen Hollingsworth Chief Operating Officer of Motion Picture Group

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Jen Hollingsworth has been named chief operating officer of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group effective immediately, Lionsgate Motion Picture Group chairman Joe Drake announced on Wednesday.

Hollingsworth, who previously served as executive vice president of strategic planning and operations, will work closely with Drake in her new role.

“Jen is one of the most exceptional and talented motion picture business strategists working in our industry today,” Drake said in a statement. “She knows this Company inside and out, is skilled, experienced and is the ideal chief operating officer. She has spearheaded many of Lionsgate’s successes within the motion picture group and is the best at understanding the marriage of business opportunities and the creative aspirations of filmmakers.  Our company just got stronger with Jen in this role.”

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As COO, Hollingsworth will head up the motion picture group’s finance department, manage a strategic planning and analysis team and oversee daily operations as the division positions itself for growth. She will also engage in cross-company initiatives designed to maximize and fully monetize Lionsgate’s film assets.

“I am enormously excited about what is happening within the motion picture group, from the outstanding filmmakers we are partnering with to the innovations we are pioneering with the Lionsgate data center,” Hollingsworth said in a statement. “Our data-first strategy approach and the effective impact it has throughout the company is especially dynamic, and I feel honored and privileged to take on this role at this time with this incredibly talented team.”

In her previous role, Hollingsworth was responsible for worldwide deal analysis, operational management and strategic planning for the Lionsgate’s film slate across multiple film labels, including Summit Entertainment, Good Universe and Pantelion Films.

She joined the studio in 2007 as vice president of finance and business development, when Lionsgate acquired Mandate Pictures. She began her entertainment industry career in business development at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

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In January, Drake sent an email to staff announcing a restructuring in the studio’s business operations that resulted in approximately 25 people losing their jobs. Earlier this month, the studio’s television division let go of 20 staffers, impacting mostly business jobs and a small number of TV roles.

The majority of the changes were a result of Lionsgate consolidating its marketing and distribution under one roof. The marketing division is run by Damon Wolf, who joined from Sony Pictures and started Jan. 1.

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Gary Barber’s Spyglass Media Group Lays Off 15, Closes Lantern Entertainment’s NYC Office (Exclusive)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Gary Barber’s Spyglass Media Group has shuttered the New York offices of Lantern Entertainment and laid off 15 people in all divisions of what had been The Weinstein Company.

The New York office was closed to streamline operations out of the company’s Los Angeles headquarters, according to a spokesperson for Spyglass Media Group, which this month announced a partnership through which Barber’s Spyglass will own and control all of Lantern Entertainment’s current assets — including the remnants of The Weinstein Company that Texas-based Lantern Capital acquired in bankruptcy last July for $289 million.

Spyglass Media Group, in which Lantern is also a majority investor, is primarily focused on developing, producing, financing and acquiring premium content worldwide for theatrical, network, cable and streaming platforms.

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Thanks to the partnership with Lantern co-presidents Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic, as well as with strategic investors Eagle Pictures and Cineworld Group, Spyglass is now home to more than 250 film library titles, scripted and unscripted television series.

The newly formed company is now in the process of putting in place and executing its business plan, as well as evaluating the company’s operations.

When Lantern acquired TWC, it held on to and kept operations in both TWC’s old New York and Los Angeles offices. At the time, the company said it would look for new office space but likely keep a home base in both cities.

After the TWC estate fired the remaining 70 employees at TWC ahead of the deal closing, Lantern re-hired roughly two-thirds of those employees back.

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Now that Spyglass is steering the ship, the company is planning to ramp up hiring for senior leadership positions in hopes of positioning Spyglass for growth.

Since launching March 13, Spyglass has hired former MGM executives Cheryl Rodman to serve as chief legal officer and Kristin Cotich as the company’s executive vice president of worldwide communications. More executive hires are on the way, and Spyglass plans to increase headcount and create new positions to be based out of the L.A. office.

Jon Levine contributed to this reporting.

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‘BlacKkKlansman’ Star John David Washington to Lead Christopher Nolan’s Next Film

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

John David Washington is set to star in director Christopher Nolan’s next event film from Warner Bros.

The film is currently untitled and the plot for the film has been kept under wraps, but it has been described as an “event film,” with one insider calling it a massive, innovative, action blockbuster that will screen in Imax.

Nolan wrote the script and is directing. He will also produce the film along with his producing partner Emma Thomas. The project is still in the pre-production stage.

The film has been given a July 17, 2020 release date.

Also Read: New Christopher Nolan Imax Film Set for Summer 2020 Release

Nolan most recently wrote, directed and produced “Dunkirk” at the studio in 2017. The film went on to win three Oscars and gross $527.0 million at the box office worldwide.

Washington, who stars in the HBO series “Ballers” alongside Dwayne Johnson, broke out last year in Spike Lee’s for real, for real joint “BlacKkKlansman.”

“BlacKkKlansman,” pulled in $90.9 million worldwide, on a $15 million production budget. It also garnered six Oscar nominations, and earned Lee his first Academy Award for best adapted screenplay.

Also Read: Denzel Washington in Talks to Join Warner Bros’ ‘Little Things’

In “BlacKkKlansman” Washington plays Ron Stallworth, the first black police officer in the Colorado Springs police department who successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan branch.

Both the film and Washington’s performance received critical acclaim, earning him a SAG and Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a drama.

Washington and Nolan are repped by WME.

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Cardi B, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Julia Stiles Join Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Hustlers’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Cardi B, Lili Reinhart (“Riverdale”), Keke Palmer and Julia Stiles have joined Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu in the upcoming film “Hustlers,” STXfilms announced on Tuesday.

Inspired by a viral 2016 New York Magazine article, the film follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. They get their revenge on wealthy, drunk and abusive clients by maxing out their credit cards after they’ve passed out.

The film begins shooting on March 22, 2019 in New York City.

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Mercedes Ruehl (“Broadway’s Torch Song”) also joined the cast, and Mette Towley (“Cats”) and Trace Lysette (“Transparent”) are in negotiations to join the film.

“We could not have asked for a more exciting or talented lineup of performers to join our cast,” STXfilms chairman Adam Fogelson said in a statement. “STX is thrilled to reunite with Jennifer, Elaine (Goldsmith-Thomas) and Benny (Medina) to bring this unexpected, entertaining and often shocking story to the big screen for audiences worldwide.”

“Hustlers” was written and will be directed by Lorene Scafaria (“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”).

STXfilms is producing “Hustlers” alongside Lopez, Goldsmith-Thomas and Medina, who previously collaborated with the studio on the 2018 romantic-comedy “Second Act,” as well as Adam McKay, Will Ferrell and Jessica Elbaum for Gloria Sanchez Productions.

Also Read: ‘You’ Star Elizabeth Lail to Lead STXfilms’ Horror Movie ‘Countdown’

Kate Vorhoff and Catherine Hagedorn are overseeing the film’s production for the studio. STXinternational is handling international distribution and distributing directly in the U.K. and Ireland.

“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with this dynamic group of women,” Scafaria said in an announcement. “We’re grateful to have assembled such a powerhouse cast and can’t wait to start filming at the end of the week.”

STX picked up the film last October after it was dropped in the script phase by Annapurna over creative differences.

Cardi B is represented by CAA; Reinhart is represented by UTA and Anonymous Content; Palmer is represented by 3 Arts, UTA and Cari Davine at Hertz Lichtenstein & Young; Stiles is represented by Untitled Entertainment, The Gersh Agency and Sloane, Offer, Weber & Dern; and Ruehl is represented by Sue Leibman/Barking Dog Entertainment and Peikoff-Mahan Law Offices.

Also Read: Gerard Butler Disaster Thriller ‘Greenland’ Acquired by STXFilms

Towley is represented by 3 Arts and WME and Lysette is represented by ICM Partners and Del Shaw Moonves Tanaka Finkelstein & Lezcano.

Wu is represented by UTA, Principal Entertainment LA and Hansen Jacobson. Lopez is represented by CAA, The Medina Co. and Hirsch Wallerstein. Scafaria is represented by UTA.

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Warner Bros Taps Toby Emmerich, Peter Roth, Kim Williams as Interim Leadership Team

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Warner Bros. Entertainment has picked its team to steer the ship until a permanent replacement for former CEO and chairman Kevin Tsujihara is found. The team will consist of motion pictures group chairman Toby Emmerich, television group president and CCO Peter Roth and CFO Kim Williams.

The interim team of executives will handle day-to-day operations until a replacement is found for Tsujihara. On Monday, Warner Bros. parent company WarnerMedia announced that Tsujihara would step down. The decision, came in the midst of an investigation into a sexual relationship Tsujihara had with actress Charlotte Kirk and whether there was any impropriety in the casting of Kirk in Warner Bros. films.

Tsujihara and WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey said the decision for Tsujihara to step down was a joint one, and Tsujihara told Warner Bros. staff in a email on Monday that “it has become clear that my continued leadership could be a distraction and an obstacle to the company’s continued success.”

Also Read: After Kevin Tsujihara’s Ouster, What’s in Store for Warner Bros.?

Tsujihara, who has worked for two decades at the studio and served as chairman for the last six years, has denied any wrongdoing connected to his past intimate relationship with Kirk. On March 8, after The Hollywood Reporter published texts between the two that indicated she sought his help in obtaining acting jobs, he wrote a memo to staff in which he said he deeply regrets mistakes that he’s made in his life.

Emmerich ascended to president of Warner Bros. in 2017, taking over for Greg Silver. Emmerich had held a president and COO title at New Line Cinema since 2008. In his president role at the broader studio, Emmerich shared greenlight power with Tsujihara.

Roth has been with Warner Bros. for two decades, first joining in 1999. He’s been in the chief executive for Warner Bros. TV Group, which includes Warner Horizon and its animation studio, since 2013. Under Roth, Warner Bros. has been the top supplier of programming to the U.S. broadcast networks for 14 of his 20 years at the studio, including hits “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory.” Prior to joining Warner Bros., Roth was president of Fox from 1996 to 1999.

Williams has served as Warner Bros. CFO since 2014. Prior to joining Warner Bros., she served as CFO for CORE Media Group and chief operating officer of NFL Network, responsible for the NFL’s cable television assets as well as administrative oversight of the NFL’s facilities and studios, before that.

Also Read: Kevin Tsujihara to Step Down as Warner Bros CEO and Chairman Amid Investigation Over Ties to Actress

The task now for Warner Bros. will be to find someone who can lead the Hollywood studio as it enters a new phase after AT&T acquired Time Warner in a deal worth $85 billion.

At this juncture there’s no indication when Warner Bros. plans to formally begin its search or install a permanent CEO, but the name that has been on everybody’s lips is Fox film chief Stacey Snider, who, after Fox’s deal with Disney closes this week will be up for grabs.

Beatrice Verhoeven and Brian Welk contributed to this reporting

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After Kevin Tsujihara’s Ouster, What’s in Store for Warner Bros.?

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

It was all good just two weeks ago: WarnerMedia had just announced it was solidifying its ranks and Kevin Tsujihara was set to take on an expanded role as the studio’s chairman and CEO.

In a moment of nostalgia and celebration, Tsujihara and his wife, Sandy, greeted with a bear hug former Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes and his girlfriend Lisa Carco at a dinner in Brentwood. The warm hug meant a certain passing of the torch, and an affirmation that with all the changes from AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition taht Tsujihara had emerged intact, with even more power.

But in the aftermath of a The Hollywood Reporter article detailing a sexual relationship with actress Charlotte Kirk and an ongoing investigation into that relationship, Tsujihara has stepped down, sparking questions about the future of Warner Bros. as the studio prepares for its new life under its new telecom owner.

“This causes issues. This guy was doing pretty well,” said Ross Gerber, CEO of media investment firm Gerber Kawasaki. And just as the studio begins its transition, he added, “Warner has no captain on a shaky ship.”

Also Read: Kevin Tsujihara to Step Down as Warner Bros CEO and Chairman Amid Investigation Over Ties to Actress

Warner Bros. is at a critical juncture as AT&T takes the reins. And investors may now question the lack of stability at the company’s new entertainment division which has seen the abrupt exit of not only Tsujihara but also longtime HBO boss Richard Pleper and Turner president David Levy.

“It’s fair to say the development is quite surprising, to say the least, coming so soon after the leadership shakeup at WarnerMedia — and especially for reasons unrelated to the reorganization,” CFRA Research analyst Tuna Amobi said.

The THR story on March 6 came two days after WarnerMedia announced Tsujihara would continue to lead Warner Bros.’ film, television and games operations and add a new Global Kids & Young Adults business to his purview. The new business would bring together the family, kids and animation efforts from across WarnerMedia, which include Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Boomerang. Warner Bros. would also be home to Otter Media, which AT&T acquired last August, Turner Classic Movies and all activities around licensed consumer products development for WarnerMedia properties.

To most appearances, the studio had been doing well under Tsujihara. For the last three years, the Burbank studio has been No. 2 in market share, behind only Disney. In 2017, Warner Bros. crossed the $2 billion mark at the domestic box office and finished last year just shy of that mark, with $1.94 billion in ticket sales.

Also Read: Hollywood Has a Favorite for Warner Bros After Kevin Tsujihara’s Exit – Stacey Snider

The box office success comes after a period of some struggle, particularly with attempts to adapt the company’s DC Comics unit into film franchises to rival Disney’s Marvel Studios. But Patty Jenkins’ 2017 hit “Wonder Woman” grossed $821.8 million worldwide, and last year’s “Aquaman” has earned $1.1 billion worldwide.

“At this point they’re almost running on cruise control. It’s like a big train that’s already moving,” one knowledgeable executive at a rival Hollywood studio said. “They’re in great shape. The marketing is great, the franchises are great — ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Wonder Woman’ righted a lot of the wrongs at DC. They just need to figure out Batman, but I think they’re really in great shape.”

As part of its leadership announcement earlier this month, WarnerMedia said that former NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt would join the company as chairman of WarnerMedia’s entertainment and direct-to-consumer businesses, overseeing HBO, Turner and the upcoming streaming service.

Following WarnerMedia’s announcement that Tsujihara would take on a larger role, the then-studio head sent a memo to staff assuring them that recent moves and leadership changes at parent company WarnerMedia will “fully maximize our companies’ assets and efforts.”

Also Read: Read Kevin Tsujihara’s Memo to Staff: ‘Became Clear My Leadership Could Be a Distraction’

“While change is never easy, a realigned WarnerMedia will be better-positioned, better-resourced and better able to compete on all fronts,” Tsujihara said in the email. “We are literally entering a new chapter in our company’s history.”

It’s unclear how Tsujihara’s exit changes any of WarnerMedia’s plans. The company is expected to announce an interim team to lead the studio’s operation on Tuesday. It’s likely that motion pictures group chairman Toby Emmerich and television group president and CCO Peter Roth, the two highest ranking executives at Warner Bros.’ film and TV divisions, will step into that role at least temporarily.

As for who would take the helm at the studio long term, it’s too early to tell. Warner Bros. has yet to begin its search for a successor, however industry insiders suggest Fox film chief Stacey Snider would be the most likely candidate once Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox’s film and TV entertainment assets closes later this week.

Also Read: Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara: ‘I Deeply Regret That I Have Made Mistakes’

“Given Tsujihara’s extensive background across film/TV verticals, I can’t immediately think of a potential successor to fill the void,” Amobi said in an email. “However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Warner Bros. studio ends up reporting directly into Robert Greenblatt — much like Turner and HBO (post-reorganization) — though the sprawling studio seems like the one area that could use an industry veteran, especially on the film side (perhaps akin to Disney).”

One Hollywood studio executive told TheWrap that while Snider makes the most sense, even Emmerich would be good for the job if Warner Bros. wanted to promote within. “He’s such a creative. I don’t know if it’s the right move, but he could definitely do it,” the executive said.

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Lakeith Stanfield Joins Issa Rae in ‘The Photograph’ From Universal

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Sorry to Bother You” star Lakeith Stanfield and “Insecure” creator Issa Rae will star side-by-side in “The Photograph,” a new film for Universal Pictures.

The film is based on an original spec by “Everything, Everything” director Stella Meghie. Her directorial debut, “Jean of the Joneses,” premiered at the 2016 South-by-Southwest Film Festival.

“The Photograph” is described as a romantic drama centered on intertwining love stories in the past and present. Will Packer will produce the film along with James Lopez under his company Will Packer Productions.

Also Read: Issa Rae Will Produce Musical Romance ‘Love in America’ at Universal

Packer’s latest film, the Taraji P. Henson-led “What Men Want,” has grossed $59.7 million worldwide. Universal will release his next film, “Little,” on April 12.

Meghie, who will also direct and executive produce “The Photograph,” has worked with Rae in the past, directing the season three “Insecure” episode “Fresh Like.” She is also set to direct Rae in Fox’s “American Princess,” about an American woman who is drawn into a world of wealth and high society when she unexpectedly falls in love during a trip to London.

That film, written by “Insecure” writer Amy Aniobi, is being produced by Paul Feig’s production company Feigco Entertainment.

Rae is also producing a musical romance “Love in America” for Universal. The film, also written by Aniobi, is the first film project for Rae and Deniese Davis under their ColorCreative production banner.

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Universal’s vice president of production Sara Scott and creative executive Mika Pryce will oversee production for the studio. Rae will serve as executive producer.

Stanfield is coming off a busy 2018 in which he starred in the critical hit “Sorry to Bother You” and “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.” He will next star in Netflix’s upcoming romantic comedy “Someone Great,” also being produced by Feig’s production company, and Lionsgate’s upcoming murder mystery “Knives Out” from director Rian Johnson.

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In February, Warner Bros. announced that Stanfield would rejoin his “Get Out” co-star Daniel Kaluuya in “Jesus Was My Homeboy,” which will follow the rise and untimely death of iconic black activist, revolutionary and Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton through the eyes of the man who betrayed him.

Stanfield is represented by CAA, Stark Management and Ginsburg Daniels LLP. Rae is represented by UTA, 3 Arts Entertainment and Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren, Richman, Rush, Kaller & Gellman L.L.P. And Meghie is represented by CAA and Del Shaw Moonves.

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Spyglass Media Group Hires Kristin Cotich as EVP of Worldwide Communications

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Gary Barber’s Spyglass Media Group announced on Monday that it has hired former MGM communications chief Kristin Cotich as the company’s executive vice president of worldwide communications.

In her role, Cotich will be responsible for developing and executing worldwide communications strategies and implementing initiatives across all of the company’s divisions and content, as well as overseeing its internal and external communications.

“I am delighted to welcome Kristin to our growing leadership team,” Barber said in a statement. “She is a highly respected communications executive whose trusted strategic thinking will be a tremendous asset as we shape our narrative and position Spyglass as a formidable premium content company.”

Also Read: Lantern Entertainment Partners With Gary Barber to Launch Spyglass Media Group

Cotich previously worked closely with Barber at MGM, where she served as executive vice president for worldwide communications when Barber was chairman and CEO of the studio. Cotich left MGM last August.

Before MGM, Cotich was a vice president of national publicity and corporate communications at Overture Films before joining Relativity Media as a vice president of corporate communications. She began her career in the publicity department at DreamWorks SKG.

Cotich will be based in the company’s Los Angeles headquarters and joins Cheryl Rodman, who was recently announced as Spyglass’ chief legal officer.

Also Read: Gary Barber’s Spyglass Media Group Hires Cheryl Rodman as Chief Legal Officer

Spyglass Media Group launched last week in a partnership between Barber and Lantern Entertainment co-presidents Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic, and strategic investors Eagle Pictures and Cineworld Group. The company is primarily focused on developing, producing, financing and acquiring premium content worldwide for theatrical, network, cable and streaming platforms.

Spyglass is now home to more than 250 film library titles, scripted and unscripted television series since Lantern acquired the assets of The Weinstein Company out of bankruptcy last year. Some of the titles include “Project Runway;”  Academy Award winners “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist;” as well as box office hits “Inglourious Basterds,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Hateful Eight” and “Django Unchained.”

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‘You’ Star Elizabeth Lail to Lead STXfilms’ Horror Movie ‘Countdown’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“You” star Elizabeth Lail has been cast to star in STXfilm’s upcoming horror film “Countdown.”

The film centers around a young nurse who downloads an app that claims to predict exactly when a person is going to die — then it tells her she only has three days to live. With time ticking away and a mysterious figure haunting her, she must find a way to save her life before time runs out.

“Elizabeth Lail is an exciting young actress whose breakout performance in the wildly popular psychological thriller ‘You’ was a breath of fresh air,” STXfilms chairman Adam Fogelson said in a statement. “‘Countdown’ is a wholly original, scary and fun script and we’re thrilled to have found the perfect lead to bring this story to life for audiences around the world.”

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The film was written, and will be directed by Justin Dec.

Sean Anders, John Morris, (“Daddy’s Home” and “Instant Family”), John Rickard (“Rampage” and “Final Destination 5”) and Zack Schiller (“Escape Plan” franchise) will produced “Countdown,” with STXfilms’ Drew Simon and Catherine Hagedorn overseeing the production on behalf of the studio.

STXinternational is handling international distribution and distributing directly in the U.K. and Ireland.

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Coming off of the box office hit “The Upside,” starring Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, STXfilms will next release “Best of Enemies” starring Academy Award nominee Taraji P. Henson and Academy Award winner Sam Rockwell on April 5.

In addition to “You,” Lail guest-starred on “The Blacklist” and played Princess Anna from “Frozen” on “Once Upon a Time.” She is represented by ICM Partners and Authentic.

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Ike Barinholtz Joins Cast of Damon Lindelof’s Action-Thriller ‘The Hunt’ at Universal

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Universal Pictures announced on Friday that Ike Barinholtz has joined the cast of the studio’s upcoming action-thriller “The Hunt.”

The plot for “The Hunt” has been kept under wraps. Deadline reported earlier this week that it’s expected to explore the escalating aggressiveness between the political right and left in America.

The script for the film is being written by “Lost” and “The Leftovers” creator Damon Lindelof and collaborator Nick Cuse.

Craig Zobel, who worked with Lindelof and Cuse on the HBO series “The Leftovers,” will direct.

Also Read: ‘Twilight Zone’: Taissa Farmiga and Ike Barinholtz Join Jordan Peele’s CBS All Access Reboot

Universal plans to release the film in theaters on Oct. 18.

It was announced earlier in the week that Emma Roberts (“American Horror Story”), Justin Hartley (“This is Us”) and Glenn Howerton (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) will star in the film.

Barinholtz was last seen opposite Tiffany Haddish in “The Oath,” which he also directed. His other film credits include “Blockers,” “Snatched,” “Neighbors” and Neighbors 2,” “Suicide Squad” and “Sisters.” He also wrote the action comedy “Central Intelligence” starring Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson with writing partner David Stassen.

Barinholtz will next be seen in CBS All Access’ “The Twilight Zone,” from “Get Out” and “Us” writer/director Jordan Peele. Among Barinholtz’s TV credits is “The Mindy Project,” for which he also served as a writer and producer, and he reunited with creator Mindy Kaling for the upcoming June release of the Sundance hit comedy “Late Night.”

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Jason Blum will produce “The Hunt” for his Blumhouse Productions alongside Lindelof for his White Rabbit shingle, while Cuse and Zobel executive produce.

Universal’s senior executive vice president of production Erik Baiers, senior vice president of production Jay Polidoro and creative executive Mika Pryce will oversee the project on behalf of the studio.

Barinholtz is represented by UTA, Artists First Inc. and Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. Zobel is represented by CAA and Alan Wertheimer, and Lindelof is represented by CAA and Myman Greenspan.

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Gerard Butler Disaster Thriller ‘Greenland’ Acquired by STXFilms

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

STXfilms has acquired the domestic rights to distribute “Greenland,” starring Gerard Butler, it announced Thursday.

“Greenland” is a disaster thriller that follows a family struggling for survival in the face of a cataclysmic natural disaster. The film will be directed by former stuntman Ric Roman Waugh, who wrote and directed Dwayne Johnson’s 2013 crime thriller “Snitch.”

Chris Sparling (“Buried”) penned the script for “Greenland,” with current revisions by Mitchell LaFortune. Principal photography on the film is set to begin in May.

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“Greenland” is produced by Thunder Road Films’ Basil Iwanyk (“Sicario,” “John Wick”), who also developed the project, with Butler and Alan Siegel via their G-BASE production company.  Anton is fully financing and producing. CAA Media Finance arranged the film’s financing and represented the project’s domestic rights alongside Anton.

STXinternational’s John Friedberg previously acquired the international rights to the film. STXinternational will handle international distribution of the film through its output partnerships and will directly distribute the film in the U.K.

Butler will next be seen in “Angel Has Fallen,” which is the final installment in the Fallen trilogy that includes “Olympus Has Fallen” and “London Has Fallen.” He produced both films, as well as the 2019 Sundance Film Festival title “Them That Follow,” starring Olivia Colman and Kaitlyn Dever.

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Roman Waugh recently produced, wrote and directed the drama “Shot Caller” and he will direct Butler in “Angel Has Fallen.”

Butler is repped by CAA and Alan Siegel Entertainment. Waugh is repped by WME and Tara Kole at Gang Tyre. Sparling is repped by UTA and Kaplan Perrone. Mitchell is repped by Verve and Kaplan Perrone.

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