Alfonso Cuarón, Kenya Barris, Tina Fey and 750 More Sign Letter Backing WGA in Battle Against Agencies

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More than 750 screenwriters and showrunners, including Alfonso Cuarón, Kenya Barris, Tina Fey and Adam McKay, have signed a letter supporting the Writers Guild of America in its battle against and the Association of Talent Agents over packaging fees and conflicts of interest.

“We are voting YES to support Guild implementation of an Agency Code of Conduct after the current AMBA expires on April 6th, if there is no negotiated settlement,” read the letter. “We agree a new agency agreement should 1) Confront practices that constitute a conflict of interest: agency packaging fees and agencies functioning as producers and 2) Require the agencies to work with the Guild to protect writers’ interests by providing writer contracts, invoices and other information.”

Fede Alvarez, Ike Barinholtz, Amy Berg, Greg Berlanti, Kay Cannon, Peter Farrelly, Simon Kinberg, Mindy Kaling, Barry Jenkins, Patton Oswalt, Amy Poehler, Issa Rae and Colin Trevorrow, among many more, signed the letter as well.

Also Read: ATA Sticks With Packaging Fees in Latest Counterproposal to Writers Guild

Over the past week, the WGA and one of the top agencies in Hollywood, United Talent Agency, have published dueling reports on the impact that packaging fees have had on how much writers get paid. UTA argues that by including writers in packaging deals instead of taking a 10 percent commission, they have been able to save their writer clients an average of $2,439.

But in its own report published Thursday, the WGA argued that TV writers with producer credits have not seen their pay increase in relation to inflation rates over the past 20 years.

For example, the WGA report notes that a supervising producer on a one-hour drama in the 1990s made an average $17,500 per episode, “That would be $27,300 in today’s dollars,” the report said. “But again, 17 years later, supervising producers at the median were making only $17,500 per episode.”

The WGA also said that while its members’ total earnings hit an all-time high of $1.4 billion in 2017, median wages are dropping. That is something the guild blames agencies for, claiming that agents “have not kept up their end of the bargain by fighting for increases in their clients’ over-scale payments.”

Also Read: Writers Guild Casts Doubt on UTA Report in Packaging Fee Dispute: ‘A False Premise’

ATA’s counterproposal, posted to its official site Thursday, doesn’t differ much from the informal counterproposal made public on March 12. Talent agencies aren’t backing down on their commitment to package deals. However, the latest document explains in greater detail how agencies would provide transparency and greater consent for writers when it comes to packaging.

Packaging fees, the guild argues, have allowed agencies to capitalize on the demand for more TV programming by increasing the fees they receive for packaging deals for shows that can run for years, rather than operate on a commission system that directly ties how much agents earn to how much money they secure for their writers.

The WGA has scheduled a four-day membership vote that will begin on March 27 to authorize the guild to enforce a new Code of Conduct requiring agencies to remove all package fees from their deals in order to represent writers. If the vote is approved, the Code will be enforced on April 7, with the WGA calling on its members to leave any agency that refuses to comply.

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Barbra Streisand on Michael Jackson’s Accusers: ‘It Didn’t Kill Them’

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Barbra Streisand said in an interview that while she believes the two men who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” she also has some sympathy for Jackson.

In a wide-ranging Times of London interview published Friday, Streisand said of Jackson: “His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has.” She also said that on the few occasions they met, Jackson, who died at age 50 in 2009, was “very sweet, very childlike.”

Streisand told The Times that she “absolutely” believes the accounts of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and said that watching “Leaving Neverland” was “too painful.”

But she added: “You can say ‘molested’, but those children, as you heard [the grown-up Robson and Safechuck] say, they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

Also Read: Michael Jackson’s Molestation Trial: 10 Bizarre Details You Didn’t Know or Totally Forgot

Streisand also told the Times that she has “combination of feelings” about the accusations. “I feel bad for the children. I feel bad for him, ” she said. “I blame, I guess, the parents, who would allow their children to sleep with him? Why would Michael need these little children dressed like him and in the shoes and the dancing and the hats?”

In the documentary, Robson and Safechuck said Jackson spent years grooming both them and their families, gaining their trust so he could betray it.

Jackson’s estate has denied the accusations. Jackson also denied child molestation accusations for years, and was acquitted in a child molestation case in 2005.

Representatives for Streisand did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.

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Jim Carrey Takes on Attorney General Barr in Post-Mueller Report Political Cartoon

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on possible Russian interference in the 2016 election is in — and so is Jim Carrey’s latest artistic assessment of the political landscape.

Shortly after Mueller submitted his report to attorney general William P. Barr, actor/artist Carrey unveiled his latest work, and it’s clear that he’s waiting to see what Barr will, or won’t, do with the report.

Carrey offered his rendering of Barr with the message, “The Mueller report is out! The question now is…how low will this Barr go?”

Also Read: Jim Carrey Digs Into ‘Crypt Keeper’ Kellyanne Conway’s Marriage in Latest Political Cartoon

Carrey wasn’t the only show business denizen to weigh in after Mueller submitted his report.

“Star Trek” alum and frequent Trump critic George Takei also offered his thoughts on Friday, tweeting, “No matter what Mueller’s report contains, we already know three things: Trump surrounded himself with felons, he obstructed justice on behalf of those felons, and he faces multiple federal and state investigations for other criminal activity … The wheel of justice has many spokes.”

See the latest product of Carrey’s artistic wheel-turning below.

The Mueller report is out! The question now is…how low will this Barr go? pic.twitter.com/IveGZzlcRo

– Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) March 22, 2019

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Fox Employees ‘Walking on Eggshells’ as Heavy Layoffs Continue Under Disney

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

When Disney executives visit the Fox lot in Century City, the home of their newly acquired TV and film studios, they’re greeted by a big new banner that says “Welcome to Fox” and doors newly painted with the word “FOX.”

It’s not so much a welcome as a way of marking territory, one Fox insider told TheWrap Friday, three days after Disney closed its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets — and two days after it started layoffs that are expected to cost as many as 4,000 Fox employees their jobs.

The insider said the banner and “FOX” logos, which went up Thursday, were a way of reminding Disney that under the new deal, it is renting the Century City property from Fox: “This is still our lot.”

Also Read: Dana Walden Pumps Up New Disney Staff in Memo: ‘Overwhelmed By the Excitement’ for Future

The person said a “surreal” day of layoffs Thursday began with the unfamiliar sight of two black Teslas parked in front of Fox film’s Building 88 in spots that are not normally reserved.

To some Fox employees, they were harbingers of a dark day to come.

Among those let go were Fox head of distribution Chris Aronson and president of international distribution Andrew Cripps. The marketing team at the studio was also gutted and the Fox 2000 label, run by Elizabeth Gabler, will shut down after its films that are currently in production are done.

Now, those who still work beyond that big banner are in “wait and see” mode, one employee said.

“When you reached out to me this morning nothing had changed and about an hour ago everything changed,” a Fox film executive told TheWrap on Thursday.

The executive remembered scrambling to inform employees of the coming bad news via video conference, only to have a news story break it first.

“I give [Disney] credit for having our guys in HR make the call, rather than getting that call from some stranger, but that’s about all I give them credit for,” the executive said.

Also Read: Disney-Fox Layoffs Continue: 20th Century Fox TV Distribution Chief Mark Kaner Out

Though the layoffs on Thursday were particularly heavy on the film side, another Fox employee told TheWrap on Friday that many of these departures were expected and unavoidable, though the impending end of Fox 2000 seems “particularly unfair.”

“That really hurts,” the employee said.

People on the TV side feel “very much in the dark” about what will happen next, even as the film department was “licking its wounds” Friday, another employee said.

The biggest TV executives to lose their jobs so far were 20th Century Fox Television Distribution president Mark Kaner and Twentieth Television president Greg Meidel.

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

The employee said 20th TV veterans were “walking on eggshells” trying to make a good impression on their new Disney bosses. But the employee was confident TV would be spared many more layoffs since Disney has already said senior Fox veterans Peter Rice and Dana Walden, will have leadership roles post-takeover.

Walden will serve as chairman of ABC Entertainment and the newly named Disney Television Studios, which encompasses ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox TV and Fox 21. John Landgraf and Gary E. Knell, who serve as the chairs of FX and Nat Geo Partners, respectively, will report to Rice, who is chairman of Walt Disney Studios and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. Warner Bros. veteran Craig Hunegs was hired to run the newly-combined Disney Television Studios.

It was announced months ago that Ben Sherwood would exit as co-chair of Disney Media Networks and the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group.

Also Read: Twentieth Television President Greg Meidel Out as Disney-Fox Layoffs Continue

In a memo to staff on Friday, Hunegs called out individual studio heads — Patrick Moran at ABC Studios, Jonnie Davis and Howard Kurtzman at 20th Century Fox TV, and Bert Salke at Fox 21 — a strong sign they will remain in their posts.

“Disney brought over Dana and Peter to run the TV side and Dana and Peter brought over their people and intend to keep them,” the employee familiar with the TV changes told TheWrap. “Disney was interested in Fox more for TV to begin with because we were a missing piece, as their studio is smaller and 20th is very well established and brings so much to them. So there were always going to be fewer cuts on the TV side, with the bigger redundancies being a concern for the film studio.”

“Dana is assuring her direct reports they are safe and wants to keep them happy during this transition,” the person said.

On the film side, Emma Watts, as well as several other Fox film executives, will make the move to Disney’s studio entertainment management team. Watts will report directly to Disney studio head Alan Horn and will serve as vice chairman for 20th Century Fox Film and president of production at Fox. Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula will stay on as co-chairs for Fox Searchlight and will also report directly to Horn.

Elizabeth Gabler will serve as president of production at Fox 2000 — for as long as there is a Fox 2000.

Umberto Gonzalez contributed to this story.

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Dana Walden Pumps Up New Disney Staff in Memo: ‘Overwhelmed By the Excitement’ for Future

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Dana Walden, the newly-entrenched chairman of ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios, attempted to rally her new staff on Friday, amid company-wide layoffs following the close of the Disney-Fox merger.

“I am almost overwhelmed by the excitement I feel for our future,” Walden wrote in an internal memo. “We are now positioned to win, big time, and I am grateful to Bob [Iger] and Peter [Rice] for giving me this opportunity.”

Walden’s memo comes as many Fox employees — mostly on the film side — are being laid off as Disney integrates Fox into its operations. The layoffs have affected a couple of major TV executives — Twentieth Television president Greg Meidel and 20th Century Fox TV Distribution president Mark Kaner.

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

“Please know that we are all here for you and that we too are experiencing both the exhilaration and anxiety that accompany change,” Walden continued.

On Wednesday, Disney completed its $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s film and TV assets.

Disney set most of its senior leadership on the TV side prior to the close of the deal. Along with Walden, Peter Rice has moved over and serves as chairman of Walt Disney Studios and co-chair of Disney Media Networks. Hunegs was brought in to oversee the newly-named Disney Television Studios, which encompasses ABC Studios, ABC Signature, 20th Century Fox TV and Fox 21.

John Landgraf and Gary E. Knell who serve as chairmen of FX and Nat Geo Partners, respectively, will report to Rice. Ben Sherwood, who had been serving as co-chair of Disney Media Networks and the president of the Disney-ABC Television Group, is leaving now that the merger is closed.

In a memo of his own, Hunegs confirmed that the leadership at each of the individual studios would remain in place:

“As we go forward, each of our studios – ABC Studios led by Patrick Moran, 20th Century Fox Television led by Jonnie Davis and Howard Kurtzman and Fox 21 led by Bert Salke – will continue to carve out unique identities with their own distinctive creative taste,” he wrote. “I’m here to help bring it all together, to have us work seamlessly as a group. It’s a time of rapid, fundamental change in television and I’ll work with all of you to make sure we have what we need to grow and succeed.”

Read Walden’s full memo below:

Day three, and the energy and excitement inside our newly merged organization is palpable! I’m so happy to be starting this journey with all of you. To say I’ve been looking forward to this week would be an enormous understatement, and I want to start by thanking you for the warmth, thoughtfulness and goodwill many of you have already extended to your new colleagues.

Over the past few months, I have had the good fortune of getting to know some of you on the Disney side, and throughout my 26 years at Fox I’ve been lucky to work with many of you for decades. The combined companies represent a dream team of executives and staff, and we all share the same goal — to be the best by creating the best environment for our people and our extraordinary creative partners.

When you look across the Disney Television Studios, ABC Entertainment, the ABC Owned TV Stations and Freeform, many of us have already worked together in the past. Our companies have a long history of teaming up to do spectacular things together. Look no further than multiple Emmy and Golden Globe winner Modern Family for an example of the extraordinary work that resulted when we joined forces. That happened when we were completely separate companies — just think about how much we can achieve now that we are united. There is no greater bonding experience than shared success, and I know that going forward we will have much to celebrate together.

I am genuinely thrilled to be embarking on this new chapter in my career with a stellar leadership team — Karey [Burke, ABC Entertainment president], Craig [Hunegs, Disney Television Studios president], Tom [Ascheim, Freeform president] and Wendy [McMahon, ABC Owned TV Stations Group president]– who understand that a winning business starts with a winning culture. The five of us realize that bringing our businesses together will require strategy and patience. Please know that we are all here for you and that we too are experiencing both the exhilaration and anxiety that accompany change.

Throughout my own transition to becoming a Disney employee, I have been thoroughly impressed with The Walt Disney Company’s Human Resources team. They are compassionate and highly skilled executives who are here to help us all through the integration. Each business unit has a dedicated HR business partner, with whom you can be connected through your supervisor. They’ve provided this five-minute video that highlights how you can think about and embrace change. I hope everyone will take the time to watch it.

Finally, I am almost overwhelmed by the excitement I feel for our future. We are now positioned to win, big time, and I am grateful to Bob and Peter for giving me this opportunity. I am especially proud to be working with all of you.

Warmest regards,

Dana

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

Read Hunegs’ full memo below:

For those of you I haven’t met, I’m Craig Hunegs, President of Disney Television Studios. I feel so fortunate to join Disney, to work for Peter and Dana and to lead our exceptional TV studios.

I’m sure you agree, it’s a truly unique time to create television and we enter it with great strength. Across our studios, we have an unmatched roster of executives and talent, the highest quality programs and an exciting lineup of development projects. Disney has networks and streaming services with an insatiable need for high quality, diverse programs. We have unprecedented opportunities for our creators to tell stories and touch audiences.

As we go forward, each of our studios – ABC Studios led by Patrick Moran, 20th Century Fox Television led by Jonnie Davis and Howard Kurtzman and Fox 21 led by Bert Salke – will continue to carve out unique identities with their own distinctive creative taste. I’m here to help bring it all together, to have us work seamlessly as a group. It’s a time of rapid, fundamental change in television and I’ll work with all of you to make sure we have what we need to grow and succeed. I’ll also focus hard on making DTS the absolute best place to work for talent, for executives and for all our employees.

An important measure for us will be the compelling, breakout series we create for our sister platforms, ABC, Disney+, Freeform, FX, Hulu and NatGeo. Our relationship with them will figure hugely in our success, and across creative and business affairs we will aim for a true, friction-less partnership.

I feel incredibly lucky to do what we do. We touch and entertain audiences all over the world and together we can do it in an even more impactful way.

Over the coming weeks, I look forward to meeting and getting to know each and every one of you.

Best,

Craig

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Discovery’s David Zaslav Made Nearly $130 Million Last Year

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav hauled in almost $130 million in 2018, more than tripling his 2017 executive compensation, according to a Friday SEC filing.

That huge all-in number was mostly thanks to an enormous increase in Zaslav’s options award. In 2018, that category alone surpassed $100 million.

Zaslav’s annual salary remained unchanged at just $3 million per year. His stock awards, which tallied $14.8 million, were down slightly from 2017. But those options skyrocketed from $15.6 million in 2017 to $102.1 million in 2018. Finally, Zaslav’s non-equity incentive plan compensation rose a bit last year to $9 million.

Also Read: TLC ‘Long Lost Family’ Host Chris Jacobs Joins Discovery’s ‘Egypt Live’ Team (Exclusive)

To add a little perspective, Discovery Inc.’s next highest-paid executive was Chief Development Officer Bruce L. Campbell, who took home $12.3 million in 2018.

Zaslav’s huge number comes about as the result of a new contract, one that goes through 2023. For Zaslav to ever actually realize those options awards as cold, hard cash, Discovery stock (DISCA) would have to grow by 5 percent or more each year through the end of his contract.

In March 2018, Discovery closed a near-$15 billion acquisition of Scripps, which had been the owner of popular cable channels like HGTV and Food Network. That sure helped shore up Zaslav’s new deal.

Zaslav has always been among Hollywood’s highest-paid executives, though last year he sat behind former CBS chief Les Moonves and Disney boss Bob Iger.

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‘Supernatural’ to End After 15th Season on The CW

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“Supernatural” will end with its upcoming 15th season on The CW, TheWrap has learned. The final run of the Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles-led drama will consist of 20 episodes.

Padalecki announced the news on behalf of himself, Ackles and co-star Misha Collins via Twitter on Friday, writing: “Hey #SPNFamily here’s a little message from @JensenAckles @mishacollins and me. I’m so grateful for the family that’s been built because of the show. Excuse me while i go cry.”

“Supernatural” is the longest-running sci-fi/genre series in the history of American broadcast television. By the time the Warner Bros-produced show comes to an end, it will have aired a total of 327 episodes.

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The Eric Kripke-created show launched on The WB network on Sept. 13, 2005 and is the only series from that network remaining on The CW.

“Firstly, we would like to thank all the people who have been involved with the show both in front of and behind the camera. For us it has been an experience of a lifetime,” executive producers Robert Singer and Andrew Dabb said in a statement. “The support we have had from both Warner Bros Television and The CW has been incredible. We’d like to give special thanks to Jensen, Jared and Misha for making this journey so special. It is now most important to us to give these characters that we love the send off they deserve.”

The “Supernatural” Season 14 finale will air on Thursday, April 25 at 8/7c on The CW.

Hey #SPNFamily here’s a little message from @JensenAckles @mishacollins and me. I’m so grateful for the family that’s been built because of the show. Excuse me while i go cry. pic.twitter.com/QDXDsAyIfK

— Jared Padalecki (@jarpad) March 22, 2019

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Trump Nominates Former CNN Contributor Stephen Moore to Federal Reserve Board

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

President Donald Trump nominated Stephen Miller, a former CNN contributor and campaign advisor, to the Federal Reserve Board, he announced in a tweet on Friday.

“It is my pleasure to announce that @StephenMoore, a very respected Economist, will be nominated to serve on the Fed Board,” Trump tweeted. “I have known Steve for a long time — and have no doubt that he will be an outstanding choice!”

Moore, who is a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation, co-authored a 2018 book titled, “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy.” He was also a CNN contributor until recently.

Also Read: Trump Derides Fox Business Anchor Maria Bartiromo as ‘Fake News’ Over John McCain Questions

CNN did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. However, CNN media reporter Brian Stelter tweeted on Friday that Moore was no longer with the network.

Moore joined CNN as a contributor in early 2017. Given this news, he is no longer with the network, a CNN spokeswoman confirms. https://t.co/v2donxatUE

— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 22, 2019

Last week, Moore, who is a member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board, wrote an op-ed titled “The Fed Is a Threat to Growth,” which criticized the Fed for its rate hikes.

Moore is the latest television personalities to be appointed by Trump for a government post, joining Larry Kudlow, Heather Nauert, John Bolton and former Fox News co-president Bill Shine.

A CNN panel in January got heated after Moore suggested that federal workers were treating the government shutdown as a “paid vacation.”

Also Read: Trump Threatens ‘SNL’ With Federal Investigation Because They Mock Him

Trump repeatedly slammed the Fed, specifically its chairman, Jerome Powell, his own appointee, for raising rates four times last year.

On Friday, Trump renewed his attack on the Fed, telling Fox Business that the country’s gross domestic product would have been higher had it not been for the interest rate spikes.

“If we didn’t have somebody raising interest rates and do quantitative tightening we would have been over 4 [percent] instead of at 3.1 [percent],” Trump told host Maria Bartiromo. “I’m not happy with it.”

It is my pleasure to announce that @StephenMoore, a very respected Economist, will be nominated to serve on the Fed Board. I have known Steve for a long time – and have no doubt he will be an outstanding choice!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2019

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Jack Davenport to Star With Lucy Liu on CBS All Access’ ‘Why Women Kill’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Smash” alum Jack Davenport is set to star opposite “Elementary” actress Lucy Liu on the dark comedic drama series “Why Women Kill” via CBS All Access, a spokesperson for CBS told TheWrap on Friday.

The series shares the same creator as “Desperate Housewives,” with Marc Cherry of Imagine Television Studios and CBS TV Studios at the helm.

Taking place across three decades, the series follows the lives of three women: a ’60s housewife (Ginnifer Goodwin), an ’80s socialite (Liu) and a lawyer in 2018 (Kirby Howell-Baptiste). As each woman deals with infidelity in their marriages, the series examines how the roles of women have changed while their reactions to betrayal haven’t.

Davenport will play Karl, seen in 1982. Karl is described as handsome, well-mannered and “endlessly amused by his wife” Simone (Liu), whose extravagance he indulges. “He knows he’s a supporting player in his wife’s life, but happy to play his part,” according to a character description, and he’s devastated when Simone uncovers a part of his life that he has tried to keep hidden from her.

Also Read: Kirby Howell-Baptiste Joins Marc Cherry’s CBS All Access Series ‘Why Women Kill’

Davenport is perhaps best known to American audiences for his role as Norrington in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise and as Derek Wills on the TV series “Smash.” He also starred in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and recently appeared in indie film “A United Kingdom” with Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo, as well as “The Wilde Wedding,” alongside Glenn Close and John Malkovich. In addition to “Smash,” his TV credits include Showtime’s “White Famous,” “Flash Forward” and “Swingtown.” Davenport is repped by Gersh, Thruline Entertainment and Hamilton Hodell.

“Why Women Kill” is produced by Imagine Television Studios and CBS Television Studios, with Cherry executive producing along with Imagine’s Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo, and Acme Productions’ Michael Hanel and Mindy Schultheis. Marc Webb will direct as well as executive produce.

Deadline first reported the news.

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HBO’s ‘Perry Mason’ Limited Series Gets Greenlight, Tim Van Patten to Direct and Executive Produce

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

HBO has given the greenlight to its long-gestating “Perry Mason” limited series, which will be directed and executive produced by “Boardwalk Empire” alum Tim Van Patten.

Matthew Rhys stars as Perry Mason “at a time in his life when he is living check-to-check as a low-rent private investigator. Mason is haunted by his wartime experiences in France and is suffering the effects of a broken marriage.” Rhys, who wrapped up his starring role in FX’s “The Americans” last year, stepped in for “Avengers” star Robert Downey Jr., who departed the project as an actor earlier this year. Downey remains on board as an executive producer.

Van Patten was a director, executive producer and writer for HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and also helmed episodes for “The Sopranos” and the pilot for “Game of Thrones.”

Also Read: Matthew Rhys Takes Over Title Role From Robert Downey Jr. in HBO’s ‘Perry Mason’ Limited Series

Here’s logline for the series, per HBO: 1932, Los Angeles. While the rest of the country recovers from the Great Depression, this city is booming! Oil! Olympic Games! Talking Pictures! Evangelical Fervor! And a child kidnapping gone very, very wrong! Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner, this limited series follows the origins of American Fiction’s most legendary criminal defense lawyer, Perry Mason. When the case of the decade breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and just maybe, a pathway to redemption for himself.

The series is based on the characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner. Raymond Burr starred as the character on CBS’ “Perry Mason” which ran from 1957 to 1966.

“Perry Mason” has been in development since 2016, with “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto originally on board to pen the script, before departing to work on the third season of his HBO drama. Rolin Jones and Ron Fitzgerald, who were brought in to replace him, will serve as showrunners. Downey will executive produce alongside Team Downey’s Susan Downey and Amanda Burrell.

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United Becomes First US Airline to Offer Non-Binary Gender Booking Options: ‘Welcome Aboard, Mx.’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

United Airlines will now offer passengers non-binary gender booking options, the company announced Friday. The move makes United the first U.S. air carrier to offer options inclusive of gender non-binary flyers. Functionally, the move means that passen…

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

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

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.

Also Read: Former LA Times Reporter Anita Busch’s Suit Against Hollywood PI Gets June Trial Date

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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TLC ‘Long Lost Family’ Host Chris Jacobs Joins Discovery’s ‘Egypt Live’ Team (Exclusive)

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Chris Jacobs is joining Josh Gates’ team for Discovery Channel’s “Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live,” TheWrap has learned exclusively. Bring a flashlight, Chris.

Also added to the squad, we’re told, is Egyptologist Ramy Romany, who has dedicated his entire career to uncovering rare artifacts using the latest technology. The team also consists of Egyptologist Dr. Zahi Hawass, and Mostafa Waziri, the secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt.

Jacobs has a long history with Discovery live events, serving as the digital host during Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk over the Grand Canyon in “Skywire Live” and Chicago’s “Skyscraper Live.” Jacobs has also hosted “Discovery Live: Into the Blue Hole,” “Chopper Live,” “Gold Rush Live” and the live broadcast of the Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction for Velocity (now MotorTrend). In addition, he is the regular host of TLC’s “Long Lost Family” and serves as host of the popular automotive makeover show “Overhaulin’” on MotorTrend.

Also Read: ‘Expedition Unknown’: Josh Gates Is Going All ‘Indiana Jones’ in Season 5 (Exclusive Video)

On April 7’s “Egypt Live,” which airs live coast-to-coast starting at 9/8c (so, 6 p.m. PT), viewers will see the inner chambers of an excavation site, where archeologists recently uncovered a network of vertical shafts leading to an underground network of tunnels and tombs with 40 mummies believed to be part of the noble elite. The massive underground complex of chambers is a treasure trove of antiquities — all laying undisturbed for thousands of years. But there are several chambers yet to be explored — and many more discoveries to be revealed, including a mysterious limestone sarcophagus found buried deep within the complex, per Discovery’s logline. The identity of the mummy inside has been a mystery for 3,000 years… Possibly until now.

“Egypt Live,” which will be simulcast on Science Channel and Travel Channel, is produced for Discovery Channel by Discovery Studios and Ping Pong Productions in association with Big Dreams Entertainment. For Big Dreams Entertainment, Leslie Greif is executive producer. For Discovery Studios, Sandy Varo Jarrell, Peter Isacksen and Jason Sklaver serve as executive producers. For Ping Pong Productions, Gates, Brad Kuhlman and Casey Brumels are executive producers. For Discovery Channel, Howard Swartz is executive producer.

The April 7 live special will (kind of) serve as the kick off for the new season of “Expedition Unknown.” The regular season of Gates’ exploration and adventure series starts April 10 at 9/8c on Discovery Channel.

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Kristin Cavallari to Host Fox’s ‘Paradise Hotel,’ Reality Series Gets Spring Premiere Date

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Fox has tapped reality star Kristin Cavallari to host its upcoming revival of “Paradise Hotel.”

The series will debut Thursday, May 9, with a two-hour premiere from 8 to 10 p.m. and will air three nights a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, the latter being a two-hour show including live elements.

“Kristin grew up on the frontlines of reality television and is the perfect host to introduce ‘Paradise Hotel’ to a new generation of viewers,” Rob Wade, president, alternative entertainment and specials, Fox Entertainment, said in a statement. “The show is a fun balance of romantic love, cutthroat competition and humor, and Kristin’s unique experience, especially with live television, makes her the best person to navigate the wild, unpredictable moments.”

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

“Paradise Hotel,” which first aired on the network in 2003, puts a group of singles in a “Temptation Island”-style tropical resort where they vote each other off each week to make room for a new guest. The longer they stay on the show, the more money they make. The new iteration of “Paradise Hotel” will encourage viewers to play along at home, using social media to try and influence what happens on screen, including who stays and who goes.

“I’m so excited to be hosting ‘Paradise Hotel’ this summer!” Cavallari said. “This show literally has everything – dating, love triangles, alliances, competition – and I can’t wait to stir the pot and have a front-row seat to all the drama!”

Cavallari first came to prominence on MTV’s “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills.” She now has her own reality series, “Very Cavallari,” which airs on E!. Cavallari is also the wife of former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler.

“Jersey Shore” producer SallyAnn Salsano of 495 Productions will executive produce alongside Becca Walker and Celia Taylor of Mentorn Media, the original creators of the “Paradise Hotel” format.

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Ratings: NCAA Tournament Makes CBS a 1 Seed

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The NCAA Tournament made CBS a 1 seed last night, and “Grey’s Anatomy” did the same for ABC. If the Disney broadcast channel’s “For the People” wasn’t so low-rated, ABC would have won Thursday primetime outright.

Due to the nature of live sports, the fast-national Nielsen numbers for CBS in this story should be considered subject to adjustment.

For now at least, CBS was first in ratings with a 1.0 rating/5 share in the advertiser-coveted 18-49 demographic and second in total viewers with an average of 3.9 million, according to preliminary numbers. Those numbers represent the averages of the Abilene Christian University vs. Kentucky and Seton Hall vs. Wofford games.

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ABC was second in ratings with a 0.9/4 and first in viewers with 5.2 million. “Grey’s Anatomy” at 8 p.m. posted a 1.4/7 and 6.9 million viewers. At 9, “Station 19” had a 0.9/4 and 5.6 million viewers. “For the People” at 10 settled for a 0.5/3 and 3.2 million viewers.

NBC was third in ratings with a 0.7/3 and in viewers with 3.3 million. “Superstore” at 8 got a 0.9/4 and 3.9 million viewers. “A.P. Bio” at 8:30 had a 0.5/2 and 2.3 million viewers.

Fox was fourth in ratings with a 0.6/3 and in viewers with 2.6 million.

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

Univision and Telemundo tied for fifth in ratings, both with a 0.4/2. Univision was fifth in total viewers with 1.4 million, Telemundo was seventh with 1.15 million.

The CW was seventh in ratings with a 0.3/2 and sixth in viewers with 1.24 million.

More to come…

‘The Conners’ Renewed for Season 2 by ABC

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Looks like the Conner family can continue to make themselves at home at ABC, as the broadcast network has renewed its highly-rated “Roseanne” spinoff series, “The Conners,” for a second season.

The cast for Season 2 includes series regulars John Goodman as Dan Conner, Laurie Metcalf as Jackie Harris, Sara Gilbert as Darlene Conner, Lecy Goranson as Becky Conner-Healy and Ames McNamara as Mark Conner-Healy. Additional cast members will be announced at a later date.

Ending on Jan 22, the 11-episode first season of the “The Conners” ranks as the No. 1 new comedy of the 2018-19 season in both total viewers, with an average of 9.5 million, and the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic, scoring a 2.2 rating average, according to the “most current” data from Nielsen.

Also Read: ‘The Conners’: ABC Boss Says ‘We Are Close’ on Season 2 Renewal

The “Roseanne” spinoff follows the Conner family — sans Roseanne, as she was fired by ABC last spring and the original revival series was canceled — as they grapple with parenthood, divorce, dating, aging and financial pressures in working-class America. “Through it all – the fights, the coupon cutting, the hand-me-downs, the breakdowns – with love, humor and perseverance, the family prevails,” per ABC.

“We are proud to be continuing the story of the iconic Conners family,” Karey Burke, ABC Entertainment president, said Friday. “This team is fearless in their willingness to tackle contemporary issues with humor and heart, and I have no doubt they will continue to outdo themselves.”

Guest stars on Season 1 included Matthew Broderick, Juliette Lewis, Katey Sagal, Mary Steenburgen, Justin Long, Jay R. Ferguson and Sarah Chalke, among others. Additionally, some fan favorites from the original run of “Roseanne” reprised their roles for the spinoff’s freshman season, including Estelle Parsons as Beverly Harris, Natalie West as Crystal Anderson and James Pickens Jr. as Chuck Mitchell.

Also Read: Ratings: ‘The Conners’ Season Finale Grows 15 Percent, But ‘This Is Us’ Tops Tuesday

“The Conners” hails from Werner Entertainment and is executive produced by Tom Werner. Gilbert, Bruce Helford, Dave Caplan, Bruce Rasmussen and Tony Hernandez also executive produce.

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NY Times CEO on Why Media Publishers Should Be ‘Leery’ of Planned Apple News Service

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New York Times CEO Mark Thompson said that he has reservations about Apple’s soon-to-be-released paid subscription news service and is “leery” about the Times’ participation in the service.

“We tend to be quite leery about the idea of almost habituating people to find our journalism somewhere else,” Thompson said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday. “We’re also generically worried about our journalism being scrambled in a kind of Magimix (blender) with everyone else’s journalism.”

Apple is expected to introduce the service at a Silicon Valley event on Monday. Media reports have described the plan as a way to create a “Netflix for News” — signing up hundreds of publishers and allowing users access in return for a single fee. The move is part of a broader plan for the company to compete in the streaming space against already well-established industry leaders like Netflix and Amazon.

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Thompson, however, suggested that broadcasters got a raw deal after signing up with Netflix in 2007.

“If I was an American broadcast network, I would have thought twice about giving all of my library to Netflix,” he continued to Reuters. “Even if Netflix offered you quite a lot of money. … Does it really make sense to help Netflix build a gigantic base of subscribers to the point where they could actually spend $9 billion a year making their own content and will pay me less and less for my library?”

Apple has floated the new service as a potential savior of the publishing industry, which in recent years has been beset by layoffs and contractions.

Earlier this week the New York Times reported that it would not take part in the service, joining the Washington Post in declining. Each paper has significantly expanded during the Trump era and boasts a large and growing base of loyal digital subscribers.

The Wall Street Journal is expected to join the service.

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Ryan Murphy’s ‘The Politician’ Sets Premiere Date at Netflix

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Ryan Murphy has just revealed when his first Netflix original series, “The Politician,” will premiere. Yeah, that’s the one with an insane A-list cast, including stars Ben Platt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Lange, Zoey Deutch, and Lucy Boynton.

“My first Netflix show! So proud of this incredible project and the incredible cast. And I can’t wait for you to binge it in September,” Murphy captioned an Instagram post of the “The Politician’s” official poster, which noted its Sept. 27 launch date.

Along with Platt, Paltrow, Lange, Deutch and Boynton, the cast includes Bob Balaban, David Corenswet, Julia Schlaepfer, Laura Dreyfuss, Theo Germaine, Rahne Jones, and Benjamin Barrett.

Also Read: Ryan Murphy Sets ‘Hollywood’ as First Original Netflix Series

Here’s the official logline for the series: “Payton Hobart (Ben Platt), a wealthy student from Santa Barbara, California, has known since age seven that he’s going to be President of the United States. But first he’ll have to navigate the most treacherous political landscape of all: Saint Sebastian High School. To get elected Student Body President, secure a spot at Harvard, and stay on his singular path to success, Payton will have to outsmart his ruthless classmates without sacrificing his own morality and carefully crafted image. Full of dark comedy and sly satire, Ryan Murphy’s The Politician offers a rare glimpse into just what it takes to make a politician.”

See the poster below.

“The Politician” launches Sept. 27 on Netflix

Former ‘River Monsters’ Host Jeremy Wade Returns to Animal Planet for New Series ‘Dark Waters’

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Former “River Monsters” host Jeremy Wade is coming home to Animal Planet to lead a brand new series, “Jeremy Wade’s Dark Waters,” the cable network said Friday.

After leaving the cable channel in 2017 following a nine-season run as host of “River Monsters,” the famous biologist will return “in a captivating new series that brings him back to the water’s edge to investigate reports of the unimaginable and unexplained.”

Here’s the official description for the series, which will premiere April 21: In “Jeremy Wade’s Dark Waters,” Wade spotlights the bizarre, the weird and the mysterious as he investigates baffling, unsolved mysteries. He takes Animal Planet’s audiences on journeys beneath the water in remote areas, to islands lost in time and out into the open ocean to investigate reports that include, among others, entire fish species suddenly disappearing; unexplained sightings of mythical beasts; once thriving rivers now empty; and genetic oddities that may have produced the biggest monsters yet.

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“These are detective stories with a difference – fishy tales from remote waters, and from right under our noses,” Wade said. “If anybody thought that by now I’d seen it all, you’re in for a surprise – as I was.”

The show will also have an original four-episode digital mid-form series on Animal Planet GO, “Dark Waters: How to Catch a River Monster,” as a companion to the linear show.

Per Animal Planet: In this series, which will drop on May 14, Jeremy goes into deep detail regarding the techniques, strategy and equipment used to find some of the fish featured in the series. “Dark Waters: How to Catch a River Monster” will also be released weekly on Facebook and on YouTube. Additional social content this season will include new installments of a short-form series “Monster Moments” which will highlight the physical attributes of fish, sharks, and other marine animals featured in the linear series, as well as weekly episodic sneak peeks and Instagram stories.

Also Read: Animal Planet’s ‘Extinct or Alive’ Actually Finds Its First ‘Extinct’ Species Alive During Filming

“Dark Waters” is produced for Animal Planet by Icon Films with Laura Marshall and Andie Clare serving as executive producers with Nicholas Head as showrunner. For Animal Planet, Lisa Lucas is executive producer with Patrick Keegan as supervising producer.

Read episode descriptions for the first season of “Dark Waters” below.

Italy’s Lake Monster – According to legend, one of Europe’s most beautiful lakes guards an ancient secret. First reported in the 16th century, the Lake Garda Monster has been described as a huge humped beast – half snake, half dinosaur. Jeremy travels to Northern Italy to investigate but is faced with more than one possible culprit. It turns out these lakes and rivers, despite being in one of Italy’s most populous regions, could be hiding more than one enormous beast worthy of the monster title.

Alaska’s Lost River Kings – Jeremy Wade travels to Alaska to investigate reports of the mysterious disappearance of the majestic King Salmon. His search for answers takes him from the state’s most heavily fished rivers to the mighty Yukon River where the King Salmon is the lifeblood of the native communities and out into the ocean, following a trail of evidence that leads him to encounters with some of Alaska’s most formidable predators. Who or what is killing the kings?

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Return of the Outback Beast – A report of an underwater attack in Australia has caught Jeremy Wade’s attention. The story of a diver tangling with a colossal fish is intriguing, but according to most people, there shouldn’t be any fish of significant size in the area. Chasing a lead, Jeremy travels to eastern Australia to investigate, and discovers that the fish responsible for the attack could be a species back from the brink of extinction.

“Dark Waters” will launch globally, with the U.S. premiere airing Sunday, April 21 at 9/8c on Animal Planet.

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