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The Hollywood Reporter – October 4, 2017 part 2

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The Evolving Business of YouTube
With ad revenue growth expected to slow, the world’s biggest video platform is diversifying into subscriptions By Natalie Jarvey
APP
YouTube
YouTube Red
YouTube TV
PRICE
FREE
$10/MONTH
$35/MONTH
WHAT
YOU GET
Ad-supported
original series
including
competition show
Best.Cover.Ever.
and Kevin Hart’s
What the Fit?
will join billions of
hours of usergenerated videos.
Ad-free viewing,
access to Google
Play Music and
original series
featuring YouTube
stars (Foursome,
The Thinning) and
traditional talent
(Step Up: High
Water, Cobra Kai).
Around 50 live TV
feeds — including
all the broadcast
networks and such
cable channels as FX
and ESPN — along
with unlimited cloud
DVR storage and
access to YouTube
Red originals.
YouTube Ad Revenue
YouTube ad revenue (billions)
YouTube ad revenue as a percentage of total digital ad spending
$4B
$3.96B
3
$4.39B
$3.5B
$2.92B
2
$2.24B
1
4.1%
4.2%
4.2%
4.2%
2016
2017
2018
2019
3.8%
2015
Source: eMarketer
existing IP (including Step Up: High Water,
an offshoot of the dance movie franchise,
and The Karate Kid spinoff Cobra Kai) with
projects fronted by its homegrown digital
stars. Among the shows in the works are a
musical comedy with Rudy Mancuso (3 million YouTube subscribers) executive produced
by Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and
Anthony Russo, an Anna Akana (1.9 million)
drama executive produced by Mark Gordon
and a Liza Koshy (11.7 million) vehicle. It even
launched its own version of a skinny bundle,
YouTube TV, offering access to channels
including FX and ESPN over the internet for
$35 a month. “Television is changing a lot, and
there are opportunities to reinvent parts of
it,” says Wojcicki. “We’re going to continue to
invest more in it.”
Y
ouTube and Hollywood haven’t always
been so chummy, of course. As the
original digital video disrupter, the
site was a pariah during its early years when
uploaded clips made up the bulk of its database. Viacom sued for $1 billion over copyright
infringement of footage from The Daily Show
and South Park (it was settled in 2014), and the
company still regularly wars with the music
industry over royalties. So three years ago,
4
when chief business officer (and Netflix alum)
Robert Kyncl began to plot the launch of a service that would give users the best of YouTube
without the advertising, he knew how important it would be to get Hollywood on board.
“YouTube Red was something the creative
industry always wanted us to do,” says Kyncl.
“I’d been on the receiving end of those calls
pretty much every week.”
Enter Daniels, who had spent years tapping into the minds of teens at WB Network
and later MTV. Early YouTube Red offerings
starring the platform’s biggest stars (think a
reality series with PewDiePie) drew eyeballs
but not much notoriety. Now that strategy has
changed. This summer, YouTube Red went
head-to-head with Netflix, Hulu, AMC and
Amazon to land Sony TV’s Karate Kid reboot,
set 30 years after the coming-of-age classic,
with Ralph Macchio and William Zabka reprising their roles. Most involved expected the
half-hour Cobra Kai — from Harold & Kumar
duo Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg and
Hot Tub Time Machine writer Josh Heald — to
land at Netflix. But Daniels’ aggressive 10-episode straight-to-series offer sealed the deal.
Why? “Netflix is breaking a show every other
week,” says Macchio. “With the passion that
YouTube and Susanne Daniels have, this show
is not going to get lost. They want it to be that
first big show that puts them on the original
content map.”
YouTube isn’t really part of the prestige TV
conversation yet, and Kyncl declines to disclose
how much the company is willing to spend on
its originals business. But sources indicate it’s
more likely in the hundreds of millions annually, nowhere near the $6 billion that Netflix
pledges. (EMarketer estimates that YouTube
ad revenue, which Google doesn’t break out in
its earnings reports, will be about $3.5 billion
this year, and Google had $86 billion in cash
on hand in 2016.) While YouTube is willing to
spend like any cable outlet (around $2 million
an episode for dramas), say people familiar
with its deals, it’s not quite ready to stretch
beyond the $5 million an episode of some
premium dramas, except for a handful of
marquee projects.
YouTube also is said to have beat out others to land the Mancuso project, which has
Pitch Perfect’s Jason Moore attached to direct
the pilot. But for other pickups, Daniels and
her 30-person staff in the company’s Playa
Vista office have had to get more creative. She
landed the series reboot of Step Up after running into Lionsgate’s Erik Feig at a New Year’s
Eve party. “Whatever was in the champagne
that night, the call came in Monday, and it was
like, ‘Let’s figure out how to do this,’ ” recalls
Lionsgate Television chairman Kevin Beggs.
Meanwhile, she piloted the Doug Limanproduced Impulse, based on a novel in Steven
Gould’s Jumper series, before ordering it to
series. “It’s my preference always to do a pilot,”
says Daniels. “But in this crazy, competitive
environment — more competitive than I’ve
ever seen it before, ever — I don’t always have
a choice.”
That competition will only become fiercer
as Apple, Facebook and perhaps someday soon
Snapchat or Twitter or Instagram get into the
premium video game. While a meeting with
Netflix, Amazon or Apple may be a creator’s
goal among the streamers, persuading a top
writer or producer to make the trek to Playa
Vista — YouTube’s Hollywood outpost — isn’t
as easy. But Daniels hopes that’s changing as
she starts to make more high-profile pickups.
Agents say the streamer’s hybrid approach of
working with both YouTube celebrities and
more traditional TV talents has led to some
confusion over what the outlet is looking for.
However, developing a “brand” of shows is a
notion that Daniels pooh-poohs: “Short of
choosing a really specific lane to play in, how
do you really define ‘brand’? How is Amazon’s
brand different than Netflix’s brand different
than HBO’s brand different than Showtime’s
brand?” She does acknowledge that she is
focusing on the 18-to-34 demographic with
youthful but edgy fare. On her wish list is a
Hear Lovato’s and Daniels’ favorite viral video and the last thing they googled at THR.COM/VIDEO
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
79
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
Disney Kid to
Pop Diva to
YouTube Star:
Demi Lovato
The ‘Sorry Not Sorry’
singer spearheads
the platform’s push into
original content with a
music documentary about
recording her sixth album:
‘It’s about me thriving’
By Natalie Jarvey
On a bright summer day at
Google headquarters
in Mountain View, California,
young programmers in sandals and carrying backpacks
are strolling the immaculately
groomed grounds. But they
stop and stare as Demi Lovato
comes striding across the
lawn, trailed by a photographer and a flock of Google
executives and assistants.
Silicon Valley, meet
Hollywood.
The 25-year-old former
Disney star turned pop diva
is visiting the Google campus
for a photo shoot promoting Simply Complicated, her
YouTube documentary that
starts streaming Oct. 17.
The idea is to give her fans
— some 1.3 million Lovatics,
as they call themselves,
subscribe to her channel
— an intimate look at her life
and her process for making her sixth album, which
was released Sept. 29. The
cameras follow her into the
recording studio to watch
her rehearse, onto the set of
her latest music video (a wild
house-party-themed affair for
the single “Sorry Not Sorry”)
and into the gym, where she
unwinds after work (wearing, not incidentally, the gear
from her own fitness clothing
brand, Fabletics). There are
moments of her riding in cars
with friends; playing with her
dogs, Batman and Cinderella;
and in general doing the
sorts of everyday, mundane
things that have made so
many other YouTube stars
(the ones that can’t sing or
dance) incredibly famous.
“I hope fans get to see a
lighter side of me,” says
Lovato, who got her start on
YouTube nine years ago by
posting vlogs with fellow former child star Selena Gomez.
“It’s something that I haven’t
shown before. I like to think
I’m funny, and I’d like to think
that I have positive energy.”
The nearly 80-minute
special joins a growing roster
of programming that YouTube
is bringing to its 1.5 billion
global users — Katy Perry
family show with religious overtones (she
recently met with Touched by an Angel scribe
Martha Williamson), and sources say she also
is looking for a broad, multicamera comedy,
a female ensemble in the vein of Girls and an
action drama that would appeal to YouTube’s
large gaming community — in other words,
something for each of YouTube’s core demos.
While nearly all of the streamers are competing for awards recognition and prestige,
only Facebook, with its 2 billion monthly users
worldwide, and YouTube truly can duke it out
did a 96-hour live stream for
the platform in June, viewed
more than 50 million times.
Lovato will spread her energy
around YouTube in other ways
as well. She’s appearing as
a judge on Best.Cover.Ever.,
Ryan Seacrest’s upcoming
YouTube competition show in
which musicians invite fans
to post cover performances
of one of their hit singles (in
Lovato’s case, “Confident”).
“I used to [sing] covers as a
kid,” she says. “I used to sing
to Kelly Clarkson and Christina
Aguilera and Aretha Franklin.
Those songs became such
an important part of my life,
and now I get to be that for
other people.”
Simply Complicated will act
as a sequel of sorts to Lovato’s
last documentary, 2012’s Stay
Strong, and show how she
has overcome struggles with
an eating disorder and drug
abuse that led to a stint in
rehab at the age of 18. “The
last documentary, it was about
me surviving,” she says with
a smile. “This documentary is
about me thriving.”
over sheer audience scale. For now, YouTube
has a clear head start on video, with more than
1 billion hours watched daily throughout the
world. But through Watch (which currently is
only available in the U.S.), Facebook is gunning for a larger slice of the $11.7 billion in ad
dollars expected to flow into the digital video
business this year.
Already, the two have gone head-to-head
on programming. Facebook also considered
working with Katy Perry on her 96-hour
live stream, but YouTube ultimately landed
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
80
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
the ambitious project, which drew more
than 50 million views in 190 countries. (Per
sources, MTV also bid, but the show would
have aired only in the U.S.) “I’m so glad we
swung for the fences on that and tried it,”
says Daniels. “We need to be thinking about
community and interactivity and live and
international and all the things that we are
that a TV network isn’t.” Witness was the first
in a small slate of unscripted originals that
YouTube has developed separately from its
Red programming and will release outside the
paywall in the hope of attracting blue-chip
advertisers. “One of the things that I grew
uncomfortable with was the fact that we were
not creating original content for our biggest
partners,” says Kyncl, noting that he’s hoping
to tap into the demand that has been created
by the nearly 20 percentage point drop in
ad-supported originals in the traditional TV
business over the past five years as subscription streaming services have flourished.
Plus, there’s the assurance that an ad on a
Kevin Hart or Ryan Seacrest show won’t run
alongside anti-Semitic, violent or other controversial videos often found on YouTube (and
that prompted an advertiser revolt dubbed the
“ad-pocalypse” earlier this year). So far, L.L.
Bean and STX Entertainment have signed on
for DeGeneres’ behind-the-scenes series Show
Me More Show. The rate card for the series,
which has averaged around 500,000 views per
video since its Sept. 19 launch, is said to range
from $500,000 to $1.5 million, though other
shows have packages that are more expensive.
Ulta Beauty is on board for Lovato’s Simply
Complicated (Oct. 17), and Johnson & Johnson
is the exclusive sponsor of the Seacrestproduced singing competition Best.Cover.Ever.
Talent, meanwhile, has been lured by the
potential to reach fans no matter what country they live in. “YouTube is the O.G. of video
content on the internet,” says Lovato, the
25-year-old pop star (for those over 40, she’s
referring to the “original gangster”). “When
they came to me with the idea, I just couldn’t
say no.”
But as YouTube sets its sights on higher-profile projects, it risks alienating the community
of digital talent who came to fame on its
platform (and subsequently helped raise production values and CPMs), especially because
projects like the Logan Paul-fronted sci-fi film
The Thinning and Joey Graceffa’s reality series
Escape the Night are said to be some of the
most popular on Red.
Creators are watching YouTube’s moves
closely. “It makes sense for them to do both,”
says Rhett McLaughlin, one half of hosting duo Rhett & Link, who have both a YouTube
Red series (Buddy System) and an ad-supported
show (Good Mythical Morning). “This is ultimately a battle for people’s eyeballs.”
Facebook already is exploiting the tension,
ORANGE: CARA HOWE/NETFLIX. TRANSPARENT: JENNIFER CLASEN/AMAZON STUDIOS. HANDMAID’S: GEORGE KRAYCHYK/HULU.
offering upfront deals to digital influencers to post their videos on Watch, though the
social network says it eventually wants to stop
funding content altogether in favor of a revenue-share arrangement (the split is the same
as YouTube’s, with 55 percent of ad revenue
going to the creator). YouTube execs, however,
say they won’t abandon the site’s homegrown
stars. “We focus on both YouTube native talent
and Hollywood talent,” says Kyncl.
Of course, there are quirks to working
with a technology company. At YouTube,
the main challenge is its uniquely annoying
platform architecture, in which each original series must live on a designated YouTube
channel. For Step Up, for instance, YouTube is
creating a whole new channel, which it will fill
out by licensing the original films and offering collections of dance videos. “Some of these
things are really new to us and require a whole
different approach,” says Lionsgate’s Beggs. “A
lot of people who are not normally in the same
room together have met multiple times over at
YouTube to compare notes.”
One benefit of having all those engineers
working behind the scenes, though, can be
the troves of data about the intimate viewing
habits of billions of people. Daniels came to
the Cobra Kai pitch armed with the knowledge
that Karate Kid videos had yielded more than a
billion views on YouTube. And platforms that
rely on advertising typically aren’t as precious
about data as Netflix or Amazon. Although
YouTube doesn’t release subscriber figures
or ratings for Red (the only number that executives have shared is that its first 37 originals
have been viewed 250 million times — or an
average of about 6.7 million views per show),
creators with channels on Red receive monthly
reports detailing how long people have watched
their videos (important since YouTube shares
subscription revenue with its creator partners)
and other performance metrics.
In the subscription space, no one seems
poised to catch Netflix, which has a five-year
head start and series slate that included
43 scripted originals in 2016. But as Netflix
and others look to own more of their shows,
YouTube (and Apple) could get a boost.
“Netflix wasn’t even in the original programming game four years ago,” says BTIG’s
Greenfield. “If Apple wants to be a major
player, if Google wants to be a major player,
this is the beginning.”
Sitting in her Playa Vista office in August
after her weekly production update meeting, Daniels contemplates just what it will
take to turn YouTube into the kind of platform that gets mentioned in the same breath
with Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. “I want our
shows to resonate in a big way with audiences,” she says with a gleam in her eye. “And
once that happens, we’ll be on that list — like
it or not.”
The Push for Property (and Profits)
Netflix and Amazon are putting greater emphasis on owning their
scripted originals, while Hulu continues to lean on the major studios
By Lesley Goldberg
T
he race for talent among the big three streamers is a clear sign of a
larger overall push for ownership in TV. After making deals with networks
and the major studios alike to license a library of scripted films and series,
Netflix, Amazon and Hulu began buying from pretty much everyone as they
stocked up on originals. But that strategy has started to shift as deep-pocketed
Netflix and Amazon are making a clear push to own their scripted fare, while Hulu
remains focused on buying both from studios — including Sony, Warner Bros.
and Universal — and from indies like The Handmaid’s Tale producer MGM. Here’s
a look at how the ownership pie breaks down at all three services.
NETFLIX
Orange
Is the
New Black
(Lionsgate
TV)
13
6
3
3
3
3
3
21
Owned
in-house
ABC
Studios
Fox
Studios
Paramount
Television
55
Universal
Television
SHOWS
Warner
Bros. TV
Sony Pictures
Television Studios
Other
studios
The streaming giant signed prolific showrunner Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal) to
a sizable overall deal in its most telling push for ownership yet. Content chief Ted Sarandos said
in September that Netflix Studios is now producing 75 percent of the company’s new projects.
AMAZON
Transparent
(Amazon
Studios)
12
3
3
2
2
11
Owned
in-house
The
Weinstein Co.
33
Paramount
Television
SHOWS
Sky
Studios
Universal
Television
Other
studios
Roy Price’s Amazon Studios also is locking up talent, landing The Walking Dead
creator Robert Kirkman from AMC as well as Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino,
among others, as the retail giant/streamer searches for an all-audience hit.
HULU
The Handmaid’s
Tale (MGM TV)
1
2
3
11
Owned
in-house
17
SHOWS
Sony Pictures
Television Studios
Universal
Television
Other
studios
A joint venture of Disney, Fox, Comcast and Time Warner, the platform has put a
larger emphasis on spreading the wealth to its parent companies and establishing itself
as a home for originals beyond library titles before it focuses on ownership.
*Scripted series currently in production or preproduction. Does not include kids programming, unscripted or documentary fare. Source: Amazon, Hulu and THR research.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
81
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
programming during the fourth
quarter last year. Driving that
growth are shows like BuzzFeed’s
AM to DM, which streams live
every weekday morning for an
hour, and Circuit Breaker, a weekly
gadget review show from Vox
Media that debuted Oct. 3. Twitter
also streams WNBA games, and
a 24/7 channel from Bloomberg is
in the works.
“We think we have a unique
medium, where there’s an audience already talking about what’s
happening, and we’re building a
video experience on top of that to
strengthen that discussion,”
says Twitter COO Anthony Noto.
Indeed, the shows that are
working best on Twitter are those
that leverage conversations taking place on the platform. To
wit, Talk the Thrones, the Game of
Thrones after-show produced
by Bill Simmons’ The Ringer that
was canceled at HBO after one
season, averaged nearly 600,000
unique live viewers per episode
across the eight weeks it streamed
this summer. “A reaction show
makes the most sense for us to do
on Twitter,” says Ringer president
Eric Weinberger. “That’s where
the conversation is immediately
after Thrones airs.”
Despite lagging user growth
(Twitter reported 328 million
monthly active users in July), shows
have the potential to reach viewers who don’t have an account via
Twitter’s TV app and video player.
That has been enough to draw interest from advertisers like Verizon
(Talk the Thrones) and Wendy’s (AM
to DM). In most cases, Twitter is
sharing ad revenue with its partners.
“We’re not trying to disrupt or
replace anyone,” Noto says. “We’re
trying to be a complement to media
companies and help them reach
an audience they wouldn’t otherwise reach.”
Twitter’s TV
Push: ‘There’s an
Audience Already
Talking About
What’s Happening’
The social network boosts its
live video business by 300 percent
as advertisers test its slate
of morning shows, live sports
and other news-driven fare
By Natalie Jarvey and Jeremy Barr
D
oes Twitter want to be a TV
network? A new crop of live
programming on the social
network certainly seems to indicate
that it does.
Over the past several months,
the platform better known as the
place to read the latest musings
of the American president or to
share thoughts on last night’s
Scandal also has become home to
a growing slate of current eventcentric shows and live sports that
are not only driving conversations but also attracting interest
from advertisers. During the third
quarter of this year alone, Twitter
is expected to broadcast some
2,000 hours of live programming,
according to BTIG estimates,
up from just over 500 hours of
SOCIAL MEDIA’S FIGHT FOR U.S. AUDIENCE
2016
Facebook
68.5M
Snapchat
61.7M
Pinterest
63.2M
Twitter
52.3M
50M
77.9M
$6B
Netflix
and the streamer
expects that
number to grow to
$7 billion in 2018
$4.5B
Amazon
with an increasing
portion going toward
event series
$2.5B
Hulu
without a global
reach, Hulu’s spend
includes only
domestic content
$1B+
Apple
the deep-pocketed
tech giant hopes
to establish itself as
a premium buyer
N/A
YouTube Red
YouTube is said
to be willing to spend
hundreds of millions,
if not billions
N/A
Facebook
It’s prepared to pay
$3M for some dramas,
around $50,000
for shortform
Amazon’s Secret
Shortform Video Surge
Half the U.S. population was
on Facebook last year, and the
pioneer of social media will
dominate the industry for the
foreseeable future.
55.7M
100M
CONTENT BUDGET
182M
94.4M
86.6M
PLATFORM
2020
166.8M
Instagram
A Seller’s Guide to the
Streaming Universe
150M
Source: eMarketer
Illustrations by Rami Neimi
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
82
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
The e-commerce giant has paid ‘tens
of millions’ to partners through its
little-known Video Direct program
By Natalie Jarvey
With Apple the newest entrant in the increasingly competitive arms race
for prestige programming, creators and agents weigh in on the perks, the problems and what each of these
digital disrupters wants most from Hollywood By Bryn Elise Sandberg and Lacey Rose
TOP DECISION-MAKERS
LOOKING FOR
THE ALLURE
THE KNOCK
CCO Ted Sarandos and
No. 2 Cindy Holland
have empowered a
vast team, though big
moves still fall to
these two.
Everything, though
sellers cite YA horror,
multicam comedies (like
The Ranch) and
even a musical.
Netflix maintains its “cool kid” rep, notes one source,
with a massive global footprint, an unrivaled content
budget and baked-in prestige. Plus, it will stick with
properties it likes (see Will Arnett’s Flaked) and pay big
for hot for talent (Shonda Rhimes’ $100 million deal).
With so many series rolling out weekly, it’s easy
for new ones to get lost. Also working against Netflix:
Deals mostly preclude sharing meaningfully in a hit
and there’s a growing maze of executives. “Sometimes
I’m like, who do I even call?” groans one agent.
Genre plays, with
Tal Yguado’s
group making big
swings to land Amazon’s
own Game of Thrones.
Though it recently pivoted to focus on world-building
fare, its output and ability to spend (i.e., $160 million
on David O. Russell’s Robert De Niro-Julianne Moore
drama) is more significant than any of its peers’, save for
Netflix. Says a rep, “They’ll spend a shitload of money.”
That strategy shift, which had Amazon backtracking
on renewals, along with what one top rep describes as
“leadership challenges.” And though it has made deals
more transparent with rewards for success,
backend potential remains limited.
Though Mike Hopkins
and his board are hands
on, creative falls
to Joel Stillerman,
Craig Erwich and
Beatrice Springborn.
Big tentpole IP, which
can make noise a la
The Handmaid’s Tale,
and more animation and
edgy comedy voices.
Big momentum with Handmaid’s, which proved that
Hulu could nurture and market a bona fide breakout.
Its best drama Emmy — the first for a streamer — was
not lost on the town’s sellers, who love the idea
that they can still own and profit big off of Hulu shows.
It’s a smaller platform than Netflix or Amazon,
which means less output and less real estate.
One agent references a “bottleneck,” as
writers and reps wait on projects’ fate, though word is
Stillerman is looking to speed things up.
Sony alums
Zack Van Amburg and
Jamie Erlicht head
programming, with
Matt Cherniss manning
development.
At least to start, big,
sweeping, prestige
dramas (think:
Game of Thrones and
The Crown).
It’s the biggest and arguably most innovative
company in the world, so the opportunity to be on the
ground floor — what Mad Men was to AMC or House
of Cards to Netflix — has the town salivating. Added
bonus: a licensing model and a team of familiar execs.
It’s not interested in working at the pace or scale of
Netflix, which means leadership passes on the majority
of what’s come at them. And at least for now, there are
plenty of questions, such as how will their shows be
distributed and what does a deal with Apple look like?
Sellers are excited
about new hire
Jon Wax, but ultimately,
Susanne Daniels’
opinion matters most.
Female ensemble shows
like Sex and the City, a
John Wick-esque action
drama and a family
show like 7th Heaven.
While the industry isn’t bum-rushing Daniels’ office
just yet, sellers can’t ignore its reach (1.5 billion free
active users). The platform’s play for 18- to 34-year-olds
is betting on fare that’s edgier and more grounded
than Freeform’s conventional, frothy programming.
An unproven mandate change (swapping digital
stars for Hollywood names) and a limited track record.
And though it landed a sought-after Karate Kid
sequel, it hasn’t become a must-stop for sellers. Snipes
one, “It still feels like a second-tier cable network.”
Content moves fall to
global creative strategy
head Ricky Van Veen
and his development
chief, Mina Lefevre.
Younger and (hopefully)
hipper programming,
including high school
fare — a turnoff at most
other outlets.
Two billion eyeballs is hard to turn your nose up at, even
if Facebook’s Watch platform is only available in the U.S.
Though there are lots of questions lingering (including
whether the service is really going to pony up),
most sellers at least have Facebook accounts.
A still elusive strategy, which several describe as
smaller, cheaper and less prestige-based, has sellers
skeptical. “If they know what they want, they’re
doing a bad job messaging it,” says one development
executive. “No one is clamoring to be at Facebook.”
It’s “the Roy
Price show,” as
one rep puts it, but
Joe Lewis and
newcomer Sharon Tal
Yguado have latitude.
DROPPING: COURTESY OF GLASS HOUSE DISTRIBUTION. VAN VEEN: JEMAL COUNTESS/WIREIMAGE FOR IAC. RANCH: GREG
GAYNE/NETFLIX. STILLERMAN: COURTESY OF YOUTUBE. ERLICHT: CHARLEY GALLAY/GETTY IMAGES FOR WGN AMERICA.
Lynch won an Emmy
for her role in Amazon’s
Dropping the Soap.
W
hen Jane Lynch took home a
shortform Emmy on Sept. 10 for her
performance in soap opera satire
Dropping the Soap, she shed light on an underthe-radar program at Amazon that is driving
audiences to projects that would normally get
lost in the glut of video available online.
Amazon Video Direct, a self-service platform
where anyone can upload a video and make
money off of its distribution, is giving a number
of filmmakers and digital companies access
to the same audiences watching Transparent
or The Man in the High Castle. In the 16 months
since its launch, the program has paid out
“tens of millions” to its partners, executives
say, as it has caught on with such firms as
Funny or Die and several dozen indie filmmakers.
Amazon Video director Eric Orme says the
program has led to “billions of minutes” of video
streamed: “We’re seeing more and more providers coming on [to the platform].”
Partners can release projects via Amazon
Prime, sell them through a stand-alone subscription, charge for rental or purchase, or offer
them free with ads. Terms vary based on the
release strategy, but in general, Amazon pays
U.S. partners either 15 cents per hour streamed
or 50 percent of revenue generated. And there
are bonuses for creators who participate in
AVD’s Film Festival Stars program, in which indie
filmmakers can earn up to $100,000 in bonuses
for premiering their films on Amazon. To date,
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
83
the program has paid $3.75 million for exclusive
streaming rights to more than 75 films.
The appeal for many is the scale of Amazon
Prime, estimated at 80 million in the U.S. alone.
“It gives us so much access to customers,” says
Dropping the Soap creator Paul Witten.
For Funny or Die, which has made Amazon a
primary distributor (outside of its own website) for its digital videos, it was attractive that
projects would live alongside fare typically
found on TV. The company even released a web
series starring Justin Long on Amazon (and not
its own site) in July. “It’s all about the way the
content is experienced,” says Funny or Die vp
partner content Brian Toombs. “It’s behind the
paywall, so it feels premium in nature.”
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
Who Wins and Loses in
the Great Pivot to Video
T
Digital media’s latest shift away from words reveals the same
old obsession: Steal some of TV’s $70 billion ad pot. Can even
Facebook succeed amid a tsunami of new content? By Michael Wolff
The transformation of digital
media from a largely text-based
format to a predominantly video
experience has been underway
for half a decade. In 2014, more
because it was obvious than
that I was prescient, I wrote a
book called Television Is the New
Television, the thesis being that
every digital showboat really
wanted to be in the TV business.
So the larger question about the
overnight fixation on the “digital
pivot” (“We will be shifting our
resources and business model
away from written content and
instead focus on our fans’ growing appetite for premium video
across all platforms,” declared
Fox Sports then-president Jamie
Horowitz this summer) is why
everybody is acting like it’s new.
Along with Fox Sports, Vice,
Mashable, Vocativ, MTV News,
Mic and in some fashion almost
everybody else has shifted
resources from written content
to video production. Things move
in a clunky manner in the digital
media business, until everybody
wakes up and realizes it is now
or never. Like social media, like
mobile, like apps. Like so many
other transformative moments
come and gone. It should be
obvious to anybody who has been
alive longer than a bug that the
pivot to video is another risible
internet chapter that will make a
few fortunes and sink most everybody else. But that is really beside
the point. There is just, suddenly,
manifestly, no other option.
The video future may be uncertain, but that’s more hopeful than
an almost moribund text-based
present. It’s the old math: In
text-based digital media, CPMs go
down and the cost of traffic goes
up. Arguably, the math is no better in video-based digital media,
but calculations for the future are
hopeful — and projected growth
remains the real digital currency.
But even that is hardly the
point. It is more that the nature
of the medium itself has shifted.
One would barely know how to
have a conversation with someone
proposing a text-based startup:
“We’re going to hire great writers!” Try that on someone. And if
you do have great writers now or,
even better, game and cheap ones,
you are still saying — and have
been for a while — “Yes, yes, we’re
working on our video strategy.
Amazing stuff!”
Indeed, every digital media
business is now being valued
in good part on how efficiently
it is deploying and monetizing
video. You couldn’t sell a digital
media company, or attract new
investment for it, at a reasonable multiple without a video
growth plan. The nature of the
medium is, of course, dictated
by the big platforms, most
singularly Facebook. In 2014,
Mark Zuckerberg, still running a
mostly text-based site, began to
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
84
talk about an upgrade that in five
years would transform Facebook
into a product that was “mostly
video.” That alone would mostly
be the ballgame: If you had a digital business that depended on the
traffic skimmed off of Facebook,
as virtually all do, then you had
better be sharing video.
But perhaps as important was
a change in language and media
perspective. In the past, there
were two media disciplines —
print on the one hand, film and
television on the other. Over
50 or 60 years, the balance of
power might have tilted to film
and TV (particularly TV), but
print continued to command
even more total ad dollars than
TV. Then the digital text-based
business — searchable, shareable and immediate — grievously
undermined the print business. Functionality became the
medium instead of specifically
print or video. Text-based digital
media could, with relatively
simple functionality, transmogrify into video-based media.
If you had a video function
and video could be produced as
cheaply as text, why wouldn’t
you use video? Indeed, the act of
publishing suddenly had nothing necessarily to do with print.
Now you published video.
Video was an upgrade. Video
was merely better technology. It
didn’t matter, for instance, that
for more than 150 years, The New
York Times was a print publisher
that, when it might have had the
opportunity, did not go into TV
— that, in fact, it knew nothing
about the TV business. Now it was
a video publisher.
But the other aspect of platform
hegemony, beyond Facebook’s
specific encouragement of video,
was TV itself. TV remained the
only medium where ad rates
reliably went up instead of down.
What’s more, people paid for
content. Digital was a fraught
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
The Battle for Buzz, Eyeballs and Big Money
Netflix’s $6B spend may have the industry’s attention, but YouTube is still the
biggest video provider as viewers increasingly turn to the web By Paul Bond
WHO’S WATCHING WHERE — AND HOW THAT’S CHANGING
4 hr.
10 min.
4 hr.
5 min.
3 hr.
58 min.
3 hr.
52 min.
3 hr.
47 min.
4 hr.
3
2
1 hr.
22 min.
1 hr.
17 min.
1 hr.
10 min.
1 hr.
1 min.
1 hr.
26 min.
1
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
Source: eMarketer
AND THE MOST POPULAR
STREAMING SERIES IS …
YOUTUBE’S UPPER HAND
YouTube and Netflix will remain the dominant providers
of over-the-top (OTT) video for many years, though when it
comes to U.S. users, Amazon is growing faster.
YouTube
Netflix
Amazon
The streamers don’t share
ratings, but Parrot Analytics
developed a “demand expressions”
measurement based on streams,
viewers, engagement and more.
Via that formula, these are the
most popular original shows for
for the three primary streamers:
Hulu
U.S. Users
180.1M
120M
76.2M
32.6M
2017
185.9M
128M
85.3M
34.7M
2018
190.9M
132.6M
90.3M
36.1M
2019
195M
136.4M
93.6M
37.4M
2020
198.7M
139.1M
96.5M
38.6M
2021
business model, sustained only
by ever increasing the size of the
audience. TV, after all these years,
still was able to increase the value
of its existing audience.
Digital media had, in its 20-year
run, undermined and stolen print
advertising, but it had not gotten
much of the $70 billion TV ad pot.
If digital media was to continue
its growth promise — if Facebook
was to continue its growth promise — it had to get a meaningful
piece of TV ad revenue. There was
a larger dread out there, too. If
programmatic advertising sales
had taken much of the profit out
of text-based digital advertising, what would happen when it
did that to commoditized video,
too? It was already doing that.
Worse, ad blockers, which had
undermined text-based advertising, were now onto video.
Moreover, the very nature of the
digital attention span, as well
as its audiences based on size
rather than quality, threatened
the long-term prospects for the
digital ad business. Advertising
had a troubled future.
This created a two-class
digital video world. Platforms like
Netflix and Amazon, eschewing
advertising, were making and
selling high-end video — vastly
expanding the scripted video
market — and trying to challenge
TV. YouTube was trying to find
its premium strategy. AT&T, with
its proposed acquisition of Time
Warner, was betting on a highend content future. And then the
rest was low-end, ad-supported,
commoditized video — the tsunami of it. In this, Facebook was
faced more and more with something of an existential crisis. Was
the future social media or TV?
Shared videos or paid-for videos?
Could Facebook achieve world
dominance without Hollywood
dominance?
At any rate, that’s it, there’s
only video.
2016
MONEY: ISTOCK. NARCOS: JUAN PABLO GUTIERREZ/NETFLIX.
When it comes to time spent watching video, TV will dominate for years to come, but digital is closing the gap.
The following represents the average time per day, real and projected, spent by over-18 adults:
201.7M
141.5M
98.8M
39.5M
50M
100M
150M
Amazon
1 The Man in the High Castle
2 The Grand Tour
3 Transparent
4 Comrade Detective
5 The Last Tycoon
Netflix
1 Narcos
2 Stranger Things
3 Ozark
4 Orange Is the New Black
5 Marvel’s The Defenders
Hulu
1 The Handmaid’s Tale
2 11.22.63
3 The Path
4 Chance
5 Harlots
200M
Source: eMarketer
A TALE OF
TWO BUDGETS
2015
2013
$4.9B
$6B
5B
4B
3B
2B
1B
$1.2B
Emmy
Noms
85
$4.5B
$2.7B
$2.4B
14
12
Amazon
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
2017
$6B
Netflix and Amazon
are the two most
established players
in subscription
streaming media.
Here’s how their
spending has
grown (and led to
Emmy noms):
Netflix
Source: Parrot Analytics
34
12
91
16
Source: Business Insider, Netflix, Amazon, Statista, JP Morgan, IHS Markit, THR research
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
Hefner’s favorite film was Casablanca,
and for two decades, the film buff
celebrated his birthday with a
viewing party at the mansion. He
was photographed Aug. 23, 2011,
at the Playboy Mansion’s library.
Hef’s
Hollywood
Hugh Hefner may be a publishing icon — one whose legend is being debated (and
decried) in the wake of his Sept. 27 death at 91 — but his mythology and biography
are pure showbiz. Now, one of his close friends reveals how the weekly movie nights
at the Playboy Mansion opened a window into a man whose life was defined by film
By Jeremy Arnold
I
will always associate
my late pal Hugh Hefner
first and foremost with
classic movies. He called
them the major influence in his life. And he
meant it.
Vintage films consumed his
life on a daily basis, whether
he was watching, cataloging,
discussing or writing about
them. I discovered this in 2002,
when I profiled him for Premiere
magazine. He greeted me at the
mansion in his satin pajamas and
silk bathrobe, and a scheduled
one-hour interview turned into
a two-hour gabfest as we bonded
over the old-time movies and
music we both loved. A day or two
later, I returned for a movie night
screening of Billy Wilder’s Love in
the Afternoon. “Good at any time
of day,” Hef said with a smile. He
would later joke that I “never left.”
Over time I learned that
Hef liked to collect friends who
shared his passions and had
interesting points of view to offer.
One night Patricia Ward Kelly
dropped by for An American in
Paris, starring her husband, Gene
Kelly, and stayed to talk with us
as Hef and his then-girlfriends
went out on the town; when they
returned well after midnight, we
were all still there, talking about
Gene Kelly. Hef laughed long and
hard over that one, and Patricia
became a regular guest.
But mostly, the movie night
crowd of anywhere from a dozen
Photographed by Joe Pugliese
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
86
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
to about 60 people comprised
Hef’s long-standing friends: actors
Don Adams and Chuck McCann,
actresses Terry Moore and Colleen
Miller Ralphs and director Elliot
Silverstein, for instance. Other
folks dropped in if they were connected to the evening’s movie:
Producer Dana Brunetti came for
The Social Network and Captain
Phillips; Martin Landau regaled
us with stories at a screening of Ed
Wood; film editor Anne V. Coates,
director Vincent Sherman, Kevin
Spacey, Bettie Page, Tony Curtis
and Shirley MacLaine all turned
up at one time or another.
Occasionally it got bizarre.
One night in 2005, as we watched
Capote, a cellphone started ringing over and over. Eventually
some of us realized it belonged to
Mike Tyson, a guest that night.
But he had fallen asleep. And
nobody wanted to be the one to
startle him awake!
Through it all, Hef was the consummate host. He laughed a lot on
these nights, and when he wasn’t
laughing, he was smiling.
Mansion movie nights commenced with cocktails and a buffet
dinner starting at 5:30 p.m.,
with Hef calling “movie time” at
7. The nights were so important
to him that he spent hours each
week honing meticulous introductions in longhand (working
from research notes supplied by
his friend Richard Bann) that
he would read aloud before the
Friday movies. Saturdays brought
more classics, and Sundays were
for first-run movies, with 35mm
(and eventually digital) prints
supplied by the studios.
On Mondays, he convened a
dozen close male friends for
“Manly Night,” which I joined in
2012. The evening consisted of
dinner; conversation about Old
At movie
nights in
the mansion’s
screening
room, Hefner
typically read
aloud intensely
researched
introductions
for each film.
Hollywood, baseball, politics and
anything on Hef’s mind; followed
by any movie that we voted to
see. The last Monday picture we
watched with Hef was Alias Nick
Beal nine days before he died.
Hef’s oldest friend, trumpeter
and big-band leader Ray Anthony,
always sat to his right, with Hef’s
brother Keith to his left. Other
regulars were actor and football
veteran Fred Dryer, Rifleman
star Johnny Crawford, producer
Kevin Burns, film historians
Richard Bann and Ron Borst and
jazz expert Mark Cantor. Past
members included Robert Culp,
Jerry Vale and Mel Torme.
Hef would say Mondays were
for us, and he wouldn’t take part
in the voting except to break a
tie. But in truth, his favorites
tended to be our favorites: the
bread-and-butter movies of his
childhood years. Typically we’d
choose a film noir, a Bing Crosby
musical, or maybe a Sherlock
Holmes or Charlie Chan feature,
though anything was possible. Showbiz documentaries,
Radio Days and Marilyn Monroe
made frequent appearances.
Sometimes we’d begin with
an Our Gang or Laurel and Hardy
short or a vintage big-band
soundie. More than once we
screened the serial Flash Gordon,
a chapter each week, whose
leading lady Jean Rogers was a
childhood favorite of Hef’s.
In fact, when he discussed his
formative years, it was often
through the prism of the films of
that era. On his first date, he once
vividly recounted, he took a girl
to see Jesse James. His childhood
crushes on Alice Faye, Deanna
Durbin and Toby Wing were still
potent at 91. He told me one night
of being struck, at age 8, by the
“eroticism” of Tarzan and His Mate
and its vision “of living with your
mate in harmony with nature and
animals, an early fantasy for me.”
But Hef’s favorite picture was
Casablanca. Starting in the 1990s,
he celebrated his birthday every
year with a screening of that
romantic classic. Guests all wore
bow ties and white dinner jackets,
or vintage dresses and evening
gowns. And after the movie, the
caviar and champagne flowed as
it had onscreen, in a dining room
transformed by candlelight into
Rick’s Cafe. Casablanca Night
was by far the most special night
of the year at the mansion. Hef
THANKS FOR THE EXPOSURE
The Oscar-winning actress recalls her nude shoot — and the complicated man who made it happen
BY KIM BASINGER
remember when my
Playboy pictorial came
out in 1983. Some folks
in high places said, “I saw
some beautiful pictures of
you in — I think Vogue.” Of
course, I knew I had not been
in Vogue or any other fashion
I
magazine at that time. I simply said, “No, that must have
been Playboy.”
There were many people
who still would not admit that
they would occasionally, or on
a monthly basis, look forward
to popping open the pages of
Playboy. The interviews
were brilliant, and the women
— well, what can I say!
I found there were many
sides to him, but the Hugh
Hefner I knew was a highly
intelligent, sensitive, funny,
caring and compassionate
88
Basinger graced
the cover of the
February 1983
issue of Playboy
and a nude
pictorial inside,
all of which
promoted her
role in Never Say
Never Again.
HEFNER: KEN HIVELY/LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES. HOPPER: KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES. HODGE: BENNETT RAGLIN/WIREIMAGE. MONROE:
COURTESY OF BRETT RATNER. LETO: CHARLEY GALLAY/GETTY IMAGES FOR AMAZON. CLUB: MATT DINERSTEIN/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK.
once invited star Paul Henreid’s
daughter Monika to the evening;
she shared her father’s tales to
a room of captivated movie fans
and became a frequent guest.
Beyond hosting his beloved
movie nights, Hef was a serious
force in the world of film preservation. He donated millions
to the UCLA Film and Television
Archive and George Eastman
House to preserve such classics
as The Lost World, The Mysterious
Fu Manchu, The Benson Murder
Case, the original cut of The Big
Sleep, 12 vintage Sherlock Holmes
films and several pictures made
during the mischievous pre-Code
era, including Too Much Harmony
and Murder at the Vanities. He
also endowed a film studies chair
at USC and donated heavily to its
School of Cinematic Arts.
Hef saw film preservation as
a way not just to help secure a
vital but disintegrating American
art form (more than half of all
films made before 1950 are gone)
but also to safeguard the screen’s
enduring representations of
America itself: its history, culture
and dreams. Hef also was preserving his own dreams, forged by
Hollywood’s most romantic era.
Ultimately, his movie nights
represented the underlying reason for anyone to preserve films
in the first place: so they can go
on being exhibited. What Hef
did along the way was turn his
own handpicked audiences into
a family that spanned decades.
Just as Casablanca ends with “the
beginning of a beautiful friendship,” Hefner’s life faded out with
countless friendships in its wake.
They can all be traced to a boy’s
passion to hang on to the celluloid
dreams of his childhood as he
grew up into a kind and generous
man. Here’s looking at him.
man. He loved animals
and cherished his exotic bird
menagerie, as I found out
when he invited me to come
over one afternoon to the
mansion after he agreed to
participate in a documentary that we were making
on the illegal importation of
exotic birds and macaws up
through Mexico.
He was not only a fearless
WHEN HEF
PLAYED HEF
Chad Hodge,
creator of
NBC’s failed
drama The
Playboy Club
I had written a
voiceover for a
young Hefner
to start and end
the pilot. I listened to so many
auditions from
actors doing
his voice — and
nobody sounded
authentic. So
I asked Hef to
do it himself.
I’ll never forget
going to the
mansion and
giving Hugh
direction on how
to best sound
like himself. And
after I screened
the finished
product for Hef,
he clapped and
said he wanted
to host a party
for the premiere.
In that moment,
I thought
that if Hef liked
it, it didn’t matter if anybody
else did. (Alas,
not a lot of other
people did!)
Amber Heard in
The Playboy Club.
pioneer but a generous one
who saw potential in girls
like myself when the timing
in their careers was perfect
for that particular kind of
exposure (pun intended) that
was catapulting, not exploitative. I will always be thankful
to Mr. Hefner and Playboy
for helping me at a very crucial period of time in my life
and career.
‘The Consummate Optimist’
The producer of the upcoming Hefner biopic believes the Playboy founder
‘was trying to make this country a better place’ By Brett Ratner
ef was my friend. He was the
coolest. And the hippest. And the
squarest. While he transformed
from an Illinois prude to the ultimate
sophisticate, he never lost the Midwest
values on which he was raised. His word
was bankable. His heart was full of
emotion, open for all to see. He was the
least prejudiced man I ever knew. He
had deep pockets and long arms.
I admired him differently at different times. When I was a kid, he was the
embodiment of everything I wanted but
seemed out of reach: beautiful women,
a kingly mansion, a bunny-emblazoned
DC-9. He smoked a pipe and wore pajamas day and night. So did my uncle
Mario, but he was a doctor and unfortunately wasn’t dating Barbie Benton.
In those days, Hef’s name was synonymous with sin. For me, like most
young American boys, getting my hands
on a Playboy was the ultimate forbidden fruit … the joys of living before the
internet. But in those days, I thought the
interviews with Norman Mailer, the short
stories by John Cheever or the poems
by Allen Ginsberg were mere fillers that
kept The Girls of the Big Ten from slamming directly into Miss November.
In my 20s and 30s, when fortune smiled
on me and I actually came to know Hef,
spending time at the mansion, I admired
his hospitality, how he made this Jewish
kid from Miami Beach with a couple of
movies under his belt feel as if he’d made
it in a town that can be both magical and
difficult. I also realized that by his fostering the literary and performing arts, by
putting the wealth of his organization and
the power of his convictions squarely on
the side of civil liberties for all of our citizens, he was trying to make this country a
better place.
Now that he’s gone, I realize more
than ever that he didn’t have to do those
things. Many titans of industry have no
interest in contributing to the Greater
Good. Certainly Hef enjoyed money and
what it could buy. But his most treasured
acquisitions were friends of whom there
are too many to count and causes that
were unabashedly progressive.
My personal relationship with Hef
started when I read that Brian Grazer
was to produce a biopic about him.
I sent Brian my classic 1970s playboy
pinball machine with a note declaring
that he’d found his director. After
Brian capitulated, I had a series of
H
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
89
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
After RatPac secured the rights to develop
a Hefner biopic, Hefner sent Ratner an inscribed
copy of Playboy’s first issue.
meetings with Hef, desperately trying
to crack how to tell the story, the odyssey of his life. The development process
went through many incarnations —
Imagine, Universal (with Robert Downey
Jr. attached), Jerry Weintraub at Warners,
and then, thankfully, a dream came true:
I bought it for RatPac. There will never be
another Hugh Hefner, but a movie about
his life is the next best thing.
The America into which Hugh Hefner
was born was in many ways intolerant
and repressive. He, among only a handful of men in our history, made it less so.
It saddened him to see the pendulum
swinging the other way. But Hef was the
consummate optimist. I’m sure he passed
on believing that the pendulum will swing
back, that the progress he was committed to will ultimately become a permanent
part of our national character.
JARED LETO TO PLAY HEF
Ratner discloses that Leto has been cast
to play Hefner in his biopic project. “He’s
an old friend,” says Ratner. “And I really
believe he’s one of the great actors today.”
A ‘STRANGE JOKE’
The pro-sex feminist on the meaning behind
the ‘childlike’ Playboy Bunny costume
BY CAMILLE PAGLIA
hen it came to that infamous
Playboy Bunny costume, the one
that Gloria Steinem wore undercover at the Playboy Club for a Show magazine
exposé in 1963, second-wave feminists
were irate. They felt that it reduced women
to animals. Yes, it’s animal imagery, but
a bunny is charmingly harmless. Hugh
Hefner’s iconic creation could certainly be
criticized as infantilizing to women, but
it’s the type of animal here that is key to his
unique sensibility.
“Multiplying like bunnies,” we say:
Hefner was making a strange joke about the
procreative process. It seems like a defense
formation — Hefner turning his Puritan
guilt into humor. It suggests that, despite
his bland smile, he may always have suffered
from a deep anxiety about sex.
There was nothing dark or threatening
in Hefner’s opulent sexual universe. It was a
childlike vision, sanitizing all the conflicts
W
1
2
That Time Everyone Got
Naked at the Mansion
The first party THR’s correspondent attended at Hefner’s estate was also the best
By Bill Higgins
he first time I set foot
on the Playboy Mansion’s
grounds was in 1988.
I was sent by the now-defunct
Herald Examiner to cover a
performance at the Music
Center and an afterparty at the
mansion for a visiting troupe of
French ballerinas. I remember
being really impressed by the
house. It was the picture of East
Coast covered-in-ivy formality.
T
Steinem undercover at the Playboy Club in ’63.
and turbulence of the sex impulse. Everybody
knows that Hefner’s sexual type was the girl
next door: the corn-fed, bubbly American girl
who stays at the borderline of womanhood
but never crosses it. She was like an ingenue
in a postwar musical comedy like Oklahoma!
— uncomplex as a personality, but always
warm and genuine.
Hefner’s bunnies were a major departure
from historical female mythology, where
women were often portrayed as animals of
prey — tigresses and leopards. Hefner was
good-natured but abashed, diffident and shy.
So he re-created women’s image in a palatable and manageable form. I don’t see
anything misogynist in that. A woman as a
cozy, cuddly bunny is a perfectly legitimate
modality of eroticism. I think feminism
goes wildly wrong when it portrays men
as oppressors. What I see is Hefner’s frank
acknowledgment of his fear of women’s
enormous power.
At its imposing door, I
learned the first rule of events
held at the Playboy Mansion:
You don’t get to go in the
house. You’re shown around
back to the pool. I guess if
you’re Hugh Hefner, you don’t
want a bunch of strangers
trooping through the den looking for bunny memorabilia.
While waiting for the ballerinas to arrive, we were left
to have drinks and wander
the grounds. It’s odd, but
what I remember most clearly
was there being a chain still
wrapped around a massive tree
that had once been attached
to a pet chimpanzee. I’d heard
stories about the monkey and
that a person had to be careful
because he was a biter.
A classic arts patron crowd
assembled near the pool. I
Hef Was My Boss for 34 Years
The longtime deputy editor of Playboy recounts working for a man who was obsessive
about details, family and separating business from pleasure By Stephen Randall
I
n February 1981, L.A. was being
pounded by rain, a regular monsoon that affected every aspect of
daily life. It was during that deluge that I drove up to the Playboy
Mansion, ready to attend my first
editorial meeting as the new West
Coast editor of Playboy. This was
my first job at a national magazine,
so I dressed accordingly. Slacks.
Tie. Sports coat. Not the jeans and
T-shirts I’d worn at my last job.
← Hefner reviewed Playboy layouts in his
Chicago office in 1961, eight years after he
founded the magazine.
JON PETERS
MEETS PAM
ANDERSON
3
The Rise and Fall of
the Big Bunny
Imagine a Playboy Mansion at 35,000 feet. That’s
exactly what Hefner did By Benjamin Svetkey
4
CAAN: DONALD MIRALLE/GETTY IMAGES. STEINEM: BETTMANN/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES. GROUP: PAUL DRINKWATER/NBC/NBCU PHOTO BANK VIA
GETTY IMAGES. JET: HULTON-DEUTSCH COLLECTION/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES. PETERS: VINCE BUCCI/GETTY IMAGES. ANDERSON: JEFF KRAVITZ/
WIREIMAGE. MAHER: CHARLEY GALLAY/GETTY IMAGES FOR PLAYBOY. MAGAZINE: AP PHOTO. HARRIS: CHARLEY GALLAY/GETTY IMAGES FOR PLAYBOY.
didn’t see Hefner. There was a
sense of playfulness about having a classy event like this at
the mansion, but it was pretty
sedate. This was the wealthy
do-gooder/dance aficionado
stratum of L.A. society.
Then the ballerinas arrived,
and the first thing they did
was take off their clothes and
jump in the pool. That changed
things. So everybody took off
their clothes and jumped in the
pool. There was a lot of chatter
among the guests about how
this was much better than the
usual Music Center afterparty.
I’d be back to the mansion
a dozen times in the next few
decades, but that’s the only
time I saw anyone nude.
1 Hefner (right) and his
longtime friend James Caan
shared a laugh at a 2003
Fight Night at the mansion.
2 Hefner surrounded
by 13 Playmate models
celebrating the magazine’s
25th anniversary in 1979.
3 Cooper Hefner (right),
Hugh’s son and Playboy’s
current chief creative officer,
broke out the pajamas in
2015 along with Bill Maher, a
regular at mansion parties.
4 Hefner and his wife,
Crystal, appeared at a 2013
luncheon celebrating Raquel
Pomplun, the first-ever
Mexican Playmate of the Year.
There, sitting around a huge table,
were my new colleagues from Playboy
HQ in Chicago and the satellite office
in New York. These were giants in
the business — people who hung out
with Norman Mailer and Helmut
Newton. But they were dressed like
slobs. I was puzzled. Is this how the
best and brightest dress for meetings
with the boss?
As Hefner entered at warp speed,
I had a realization about Playboy:
It’s impossible to underdress if your
boss wears pajamas. As Hef spoke
(“Someone just told me it’s raining.
Is that true?”), I had another realization: This is a man who exists in
such a rarefied realm that he doesn’t
even experience weather.
For 34 years, Hef would be a factor
I
t was, in the early 1970s, the most recognizable private jet
in the sky. For one thing, it was painted black like a stealth
fighter. For another, it had a rabbit painted on the tail fin.
The Big Bunny, Hefner’s personal DC-9, wasn’t so much
an aircraft as it was the Playboy Mansion at 35,000 feet. It
had a living room with leather sofas, a full galley where flight
attendants — “Jet Bunnies” — whipped up lobster and roast
beef dinners and a discotheque for dance parties. Hef could
relax in his salon, lounging on an oval bed covered in silk
sheets and opossum fur bedspreads.
“There wasn’t anything else like it,” says Katharina
Leventhal, who as a 21-year-old became one of the first Jet
Bunnies (and wore a black leatherette miniskirt and kneehigh boots) after Hefner bought and renovated the plane in
1969 for $6 million. Leventhal, now 69, recalls mingling with
some of Hef’s travel buddies. “Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley,
Tom Jones, Connie Stevens, Raquel Welch, James Caan —
there were always celebrities on board.”
Alas, what goes up typically comes down, and Hefner
unloaded the plane in 1975. Stripped of its luxury appointments, it served as a commercial aircraft until 2004, when
Aeromexico put it in storage. But in 2008, it returned to
service; the fuselage was donated to a park in Queretaro,
Mexico, where the onetime symbol of aviatic hedonism
found new purpose as a children’s educational tool.
in my life. Casual, down-to-earth,
funny — but also one who regularly
expected the impossible. It was not
unusual for a story to go through 12
or so rewrites to meet his exacting
standards. (Yes, he cared as much
about the words as the pictures.) If I
ran a magazine, I would hire Hef as
the copy chief. No detail escaped his
eye; every caption had to fit exactly.
The magazine was the great love of
his life. It had to be perfect.
Despite his image, he was devoted
to his family. Even his ex-wife
worked for him. His father was too
conservative to read Playboy but not
too conservative to act as his CFO.
His daughter was CEO. His son is
chief creative officer. It was the same
at home — he had family dinners
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
91
more often than the Duggars.
Of course, then there’s the other
Hef. The nude women. The pajama
parties. The grotto. The celebrity
friends. The seven girlfriends. Even
after 34 years, I didn’t know that Hef
well. Party Hef wasn’t keen to mix his
business life with his personal life.
Still, the business Hef was no
normal editor — he was the first
celebrity editor. Does any other
magazine have theme music written
by Cy Coleman? There were reminders of work and Hef wherever I went.
On my desk still sits my favorite
memento: the Hef bobblehead that
was popular during The Girls Next
Door’s run on E! Name one other editor who was famous enough to be a
bobblehead. You can’t.
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
The first time I
went to the mansion, I saw this
angel sitting at the
bar. It was Pammy.
She was like 19.
I knew she would
be a star. We
ended up living
together. Pamela
was a girl who
with no makeup
was gorgeous.
I tried to talk
her out of doing
Playboy. I said,
“Focus on a
serious career.”
She said, “You’re
nuts.” Pamela
knew what she
wanted to do, how
she wanted to do it
Hefner and
Anderson, who did
13 Playboy covers.
— she was like an
early Kardashian,
a modern-day
Marilyn Monroe.
And I think that’s
why Hefner
gave her 13 covers.
He really loved
her and saw her
beauty. I had total
respect for Hefner
(and identified
with him because
I worked out of
my house in my
pajamas). People
think he was a
playboy. The way
he handled himself, he was ahead
of his time.
Peters is
former Sony
Pictures
chairman.
MEET THE
PRIME
OF PEAK TV
THR unveils the 50 writer-producers with the sharpest pens, the wildest visions
2017 POWER
SHOWRUNNERS
← “I love TV, but you can get worn down,” says
Joy, photographed with Fuller on Sept. 22 at
City Market South in downtown Los Angeles.
“With Bryan, that’s never happened.”
•
MOVERS
and, yeah, the richest deals
By MICHAEL O’CONNELL
S
he joined the
staff of his whimsical ABC drama
Pushing Daisies in
2007, but Westworld
co-creator Lisa Joy
first met American
Gods showrunner
Bryan Fuller well
before that — they
just can’t agree on
exactly how. He says:
It was on the dance
floor at the roving
weekly party Bootie
L.A. She says: It was
on the set of NBC’s
Heroes, where Fuller
was a writer, when
Joy, then a law student with TV-writing
aspirations, visited
a friend there. Either
way, the prestige
pair have landed in
vastly different gigs
now. Discuss.
JOY HAIR AND MAKEUP BY BRENDAN ROBERTSON FOR MAC COSMETICS AT STATE MGMT. FULLER GROOMING BY HARPER FOR ORIBE HAIRCARE AT EXCLUSIVE ARTISTS. GODS: JAN THIJS/STARZ. WESTWORLD: JOHN P. JOHNSON/HBO.
What does it take for a
television show without
dragons, zombies or
Sterling K. Brown to get a little
attention? More than 400 U.S.
scripted series are set to air in
2017 — thanks for the sobering
stats, John Landgraf — and
getting lost in the logjam is the
new normal. So in highlighting
the most impactful writerproducers working in TV right
now, THR focused on a few
key factors. These 50 power
showrunners rise above the
churn with unprecedented deals
(ka-ching, Shonda Rhimes),
surging output, cultural cachet
and legit “hits.” Most have paid
their dues (witness the reunions
of two pairs of past collaborators),
a few struck gold early (hear
from Stranger Things’ Duffer
brothers ahead of their sure-to-bescrutinized sophomore season)
and all have a few choice words to
say about the challenges of
making TV today.
When you’re catching
up with other writers,
what do you talk about
lately?
FULLER The complete
shift of American
politics toward
something farcical.
The metaphor of
that has potential to
be expressed through
both of our shows.
That and my rage
quotient, which has
risen dramatically.
kind of a dark exploration. (Laughs.)
FULLER I’m telling
you, you have to write
and direct Amazing
Stories. [Fuller is
developing a reboot
of the anthology.]
That’s the goal with
Amazing Stories — to
get people like Lisa
to give you the experience of a summer
movie in the ’80s.
LISA JOY
Westworld (HBO)
BRYAN FULLER
American Gods (STARZ)
What have you
fought the hardest for
in the past year?
JOY Time. That’s the
one thing. No matter how benevolent
the network, they
can’t break the spacetime continuum
and give you more
time to write and
shoot every episode.
FULLER I had two
experiences in the
last year — one
where the studio
and network understood the value of
TV, your own series
included, is much
darker these days.
Do you see room for
lighter dramas like
Pushing Daisies?
JOY When I look at
Stranger Things, even
though it’s horror,
there’s a lightness
to those kids and
it being the 1980s.
There’s room for more
of that playfulness,
levity and fun. But
my show right now is
time, and one where
they didn’t. Even
on the one where
they did understand
and gave us more,
it still wasn’t enough.
Wondering why we
can’t have two more
days to find that shot
is when it’s most
maddening, even if
you’ve already burned
through three additional weeks.
What’s changed the
most about your jobs
in the past 10 years?
FULLER The networks
have taken on the
mantle, at least in
some respects, of the
artist’s vision. On
Pushing Daisies, we
couldn’t show a toilet!
Now both our shows
have a lot of cock.
Times are changing.
JOY There’s a big
difference between
first and second seasons. In cable, they
want you to go bold
— but you’re trying
to define something
new and carve out
a space. It’s not until
everyone is on the
same page about
what show you’re
making that everyone really pushes for
it together.
FULLER With American
Gods, there was a
time when the network had no idea
what we were doing.
They disengaged
from the show.
“We’re not being
helpful, because we
don’t understand.”
They reengaged when
they got it. That’s not
an isolated incident.
← From top: Ricky Whittle
(left) and Pablo Schreiber in
American Gods; Westworld’s
Thandie Newton.
Photographed by Coral Von Zumwalt
93
AZIZ ANSARI AND ALAN YANG
Master of None (NETFLIX)
•
Their Netflix series, more of an experiment in tone than a traditional comedy,
continues to earn raves and Emmy adoration (eight noms in 2017 and a key writing
win for Ansari, 34, and rising star Lena
Waithe). Yang, 35, and much of the writing
staff now turn their attention to a buzzy
Amazon vehicle for Fred Armisen and Maya
Rudolph — part of Yang’s own deal with
Universal TV.
Best thing I saw this year Yang: “Wings
of Desire, by Wim Wenders, and Logan, by
James Mangold.”
Dream casting goal Yang: “Aziz and I are
both continuing to say Hugh Jackman
constantly until he responds in some way.”
KENYA BARRIS
Black-ish (ABC); Grown-ish (FREEFORM)
•
Heading into season four, Black-ish
is considered the gold standard for
broadcast comedy — with an average
2.1 rating among adults 18-to-49, two Emmy
noms and a Golden Globe for star Tracee
Ellis Ross. Barris, 43, has diversified his
portfolio by setting younger-skewing
spinoff Grown-ish (starring breakout Yara
Shahidi) at Freeform. Oh, and he wrote a
little summer film called Girls Trip.
Most discussed series in our writers
room Game of Thrones
Dream casting goal Eddie Murphy
Right now, TV viewers need …
“Perspective outside of their own.”
DAVID BENIOFF AND D.B. WEISS
Game of Thrones (HBO)
With its brief seven-episode return for
summer 2017, GoT reaffirmed its status as the biggest TV series in the world,
pulling an average 31 million U.S. viewers
alone. Benioff, 47, and Weiss, 46, head into
the final run with a controversial follow-up
gestating at HBO (revisionist history slave
drama Confederate) and the continued
adoration of their peers. Their show tops
the list of most discussed series in other
showrunners’ writers rooms.
Best thing I saw this year Weiss: “The
‘Ricklantis Mixup’ episode of Rick and
Morty. Benioff: “The ‘Pickle Rick’ episode
of Rick and Morty.”
GREG BERLANTI
Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl,
Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale,
Black Lightning (THE CW); Blindspot (NBC);
Deception (ABC); and You (LIFETIME)
•
The undisputed king of TV, at least
in terms of volume, Berlanti, 45,
essentially owns The CW with more than
half of its primetime lineup this season,
plus dramas at NBC (Blindspot) and ABC
(Deception) and soon a cable entry with
the Lifetime thriller You.
Best thing I saw this year “The second
season of Master of None.”
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
“They tell you they love it but don’t say in
the room that they want to buy it.”
Right now, TV viewers need … “To watch
more shows live.”
RACHEL BLOOM AND ALINE BROSH MCKENNA
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (THE CW)
•
With each having locked her own big
deal with CBS Studios and now developing separate projects, the duo have a
third season of their critically beloved musical comedy arriving on The CW. Ratings
pressure is low — good thing, because it’s
broadcast’s least watched series — but the
show remains a favorite of network boss
Mark Pedowitz. Bloom, 30, is now a bona
fide CBS star, featured at the net’s telecast
of the Tonys and Emmys.
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
McKenna: “They say, ‘Thank you for coming in,’ at the end.”
Right now, TV viewers need … Bloom:
“Commercials for SunnyD. Remember
those? Those were fun.”
Clockwise from left: K.J. Apa on The CW’s Riverdale; HBO’s Game of Thrones;
Shahidi (right) on ABC’s Black-ish.
Photographed by Amanda Marsalis
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
94
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
T
GROOMING BY MICHELLE BEAR. RIVERDALE: KATIE YU/THE CW. GAME: COURTESY OF HBO. BLACK-ISH: RON TOM/ABC VIA GETTY IMAGES. GOOD: RON BATZDORFF/NBC. INSECURE: JUSTINA MINTZ/HBO.
•
wo comedy writers walk into a
bar and … Two years
after their first collaboration, Brooklyn
Nine-Nine and Good
Place creator Michael
Schur, 41, and Insecure
showrunner Prentice
Penny, 43, are sharing
a drink for the first
time in, well, too long.
(You can blame the
four series and five
children they have
between them.) But
when they do, there’s
plenty to discuss,
including topic A:
how there’s no way to
really tell what works
these days.
Is staffing as hard as
it was a few years ago?
PENNY No. The way
shows are limited
2017 POWER
SHOWRUNNERS
← “Everyone’s wildly flailing around, trying to project
confidence,” says Schur (left), who was
photographed with Penny on Sept. 21 at Harlowe in
West Hollywood. “But no one actually has any
idea what television is going to look like in five years.”
ROBERT CARLOCK AND TINA FEY
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (NETFLIX);
Great News (NBC)
•
The post-30 Rock years continue to
be a boon to Carlock, 45, and Fey,
47. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was just
renewed for a fourth season on Netflix,
while Fey agreed to step in as a recurring
guest to boost attention for their NBC
sophomore Great News. They continue
to have one of the busier development
slates in broadcast, and Fey is never too
far from Saturday Night Live, where her
Aug. 17 “Weekend Update” appearance
went viral.
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
Fey: “You have to quietly put your shirt
back on.”
Most invaluable person in my career
Carlock: “Tina and Lorne [Michaels]. I’ve
never seen them together and am pretty
sure they are the same person.”
Right now, TV viewers need … Fey:
“Jack Donaghy.”
ILENE CHAIKEN, LEE DANIELS
AND DANNY STRONG
Empire (FOX)
•
Detractors may knock Empire for its
fall from No. 1 status on broadcast, but
it remains a powerhouse — so much so
that Fox is finally embracing Daniels’ other
drama, Star, as a spinoff. Empire moved time
slots for its fourth season opener, retaining
MICHAEL SCHUR
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX), The Good Place (NBC)
Master of None (NETFLIX)
PRENTICE PENNY
Insecure (HBO)
runs or off-cycle, we
have writers on our
show who went off
and did Great News
and Vice Principals
during the break. It
never affected us.
SCHUR Everybody has
two jobs now. People
are still working
on 22 episodes a year;
they’re just doing it
on different shows.
Showrunners have
had to get flexible,
letting their people
leave [a season] early
or come back late. It
would be inhumane
to tell someone who’s
on an eight-episode
season to remain
dormant the rest of
the year.
Higher-ups are cool
with that flexibility?
SCHUR I think they
are. There’s still
weird turf battles
at Netflix or HBO
or whatever. I don’t
know. But there
aren’t those hard
and fast rules about
exclusivity — same
for actors. In the
1980s, it was like,
“If you want to see
Richard Mulligan,
you can only see
Richard Mulligan on
our show!” For the
most part, that’s over.
What expectations
are there on your
shows to perform?
PENNY People care
more about just
cracking the marketplace. It’s more
important that the
show has resonance
than 10 million people watching it. TV
is becoming bespoke.
And the more specific you are, the more
of a talking piece you
become. The days of
the wide net are over.
SCHUR No one has any
idea who’s watching. Everyone lies to
you all the time. The
amount of money
that networks and
studios are making has never been
higher; the amount of
money they’re losing
has never been lower.
So there’s no incentivization to tell you.
PENNY For sure. None.
SCHUR It’s unclear
that it even matters.
On The Good Place,
[NBC] picked up
the show for season
two and made a deal
for the show to air
on Netflix. That pays
instantly to make
the new episodes. It’s
insane. [By comparison,] after Parks and
Recreation ended, I
got an official letter
from NBC that said,
“Here is your first
profit statement as
a part owner of this
100 percent of the spring finale audience
and boosting its sibling lead-out.
Best thing I saw this year Chaiken:
“Casablanca, for the 57th time.”
Dream casting goal Daniels: “I don’t discuss dreams. Especially when actors are
involved. It hurts the negotiation.”
New streaming platform I’m most excited
about Strong: “Betamax!”
CARLTON CUSE
Colony (USA); Jack Ryan (AMAZON)
•
ABC Studios signed its old Lost showrunner to a rich ($20 million!) overall
deal in August, one that will have Cuse, 58,
developing originals for the now-Shondaless production house for at least four
years. That’s on top of current USA drama
Colony and Amazon’s long-in-the-works
Jack Ryan, plus a potential Hulu take on
the comic property Locke & Key.
Best thing I saw this year “Season three
of The Leftovers.”
In five years, Netflix will be … “Fighting it
out with some other very powerful streaming competitors.”
MATT DUFFER AND ROSS DUFFER
Stranger Things (NETFLIX)
•
Overnight celebrity scribes Matt and
Ross Duffer followed Stranger Things’
blockbuster 2016 launch with a surprisingly robust awards showing: 18 Emmy
nominations and key victories with SAG
asset.” It had the
total number of episodes and the total
cost, and we were
$145 million in the
hole. It was almost
like, “Do I owe you?”
PENNY It’s like when
you get your taxes.
This is not a bill!
(Laughs.) Can you
imagine what John
Wells owes?
SCHUR What about
Shonda Rhimes? She
must be $4 billion
in the red. The good
news for people like
us is that it matters
less, in the short
term, how much
they’re lying. They
used to lie and cancel
things. At least they
don’t cancel things
anymore. But it is
getting harder for
these companies to
cry poverty because
they are making so
much money. It’s
absurd. The one time
they didn’t was Parks
and Recreation.
From left: Kristen Bell on The Good Place; Insecure’s Issa Rae.
→ Is there a viral replacement for “Barb” (played by
Emmy nominee Shannon Purser) in Stranger Things 2?
“I’m sure there will be something people pick up on
that we weren’t thinking about,” says Matt Duffer
(right), “just as I’m sure there’ll be things maybe we
think will catch on and don’t. It’s just hard to predict.”
(outstanding drama ensemble) and the
PGA (best episodic drama). Now the twin
brothers just have to keep fans — and the
industry — interested in the follow-up.
Best thing I saw this year Matt: Big
Little Lies
Most discussed series in our writers
room Ross: Freaks and Geeks
Dream casting goal Matt: Riz Ahmed
JAY DUPLASS AND MARK DUPLASS
Room 104 (HBO)
•
The indie darlings remain hugely committed to TV. The renewal for their
anthology Room 104 was accompanied by
a choice overall deal at HBO, where they’re
developing another serialized project.
Elsewhere, Jay, 44, remains a regular on
Amazon’s Transparent, and Mark, 40,
earned raves for playing Ted Kaczynski
in the Discovery miniseries about
the Unabomber.
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
Mark: “That cane hooks you by the neck
and yanks you offstage mid-softshoe.”
Dream casting goal Jay: Frances
McDormand
Right now, TV viewers need … Jay:
“A book.”
AVA DUVERNAY
Queen Sugar (OWN)
•
The Oscar-nominated filmmaker
does nothing small. So it’s no
surprise that DuVernay, 45, followed the
critically lauded family drama Queen
Sugar (renewed through season three)
with a big pact at OWN and a hot new
project at Netflix (home of her Oscarnominated 2016 doc 13th). She’ll attempt
to fix the streamer’s lack of limited series
with a highly anticipated narrative about
the Central Park Five.
Most invaluable person in my career
“My late aunt, Denise Amanda Sexton,
who gifted me with a love of movies and
TV that led me to this career in the first
place.”
Dream casting goal “Samantha Morton in
anything.”
New streaming platform I’m most
excited about “I’m wildly interested in
Tidal. I think it occupies a unique place in
the market — a potent brew of authentic cultural leadership, technology and
inclusion.”
SAM ESMAIL
Mr. Robot (USA)
JOEL FIELDS AND JOE WEISBERG
The Americans (FX)
•
Now in the homestretch, the duo
behind FX favorite The Americans has
the daunting task of giving a satisfying ending to one of the most critically cherished
series of the past decade. What’s next is up
to them. Fields, 53, and Weisberg, 51, are
widely acknowledged as two of the sharpest scribes in town.
Best thing I saw this year Weisberg:
“Oliver Stone’s interviews with Putin.”
Most discussed series in our writers room
Weisberg: “Our median age is … not young.
Bochco comes up a lot.”
DAN FOGELMAN
This Is Us (NBC)
•
One of TV’s more prolific creators,
Fogelman, 41, finally struck gold
with NBC and 20th TV’s This Is Us.
The drama’s power freshman run averaged 17 million viewers and scored
an Emmy for star Sterling K. Brown
— unprecedented in an era of cable
and streaming drama dominance. Its
Sept. 26 return, which saw ratings climb
to another high, rejects the idea of a
sophomore slump.
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
“True story: In an early movie pitch of
mine, the producer sighed, stood up and
sadly announced to his assistant, ‘I guess
you should call my wife and tell her I’m
gonna be home late — this seems like it’s
gonna take forever.’ ”
Most discussed series in our writers
room “Ken Olin won’t shut up about
thirtysomething.”
THE DUFFER BROTHERS’
SOPHOMORE SCARES
ALEX GANSA
Homeland (SHOWTIME)
•
As Showtime has struggled to launch
new hits, it’s got at least two seasons
left from old faithful. Gansa, 56, is steward
of Homeland, which is still the cable
outlet’s most watched series. Even without
awards luster, it stays in the conversation
with its often prophetic “ripped from the
headlines” plots.
Best thing I saw this year “The end credits of our finale. Meanwhile, the pilot of
The Crown was the best written, directed
and acted episode of television I’ve seen in
a long time.”
Network notes are most helpful when
… “They end with, ‘Well, we trust your
judgment.’ ”
The Stranger Things duo talk season-two pressures and why they
won’t join a franchise soon: ‘We don’t have that J.J. Abrams gene’
SCOTT M. GIMPLE
The Walking Dead (AMC)
•
It might be on the decline, but The
Walking Dead still pulls the type of
numbers — a 7.9 rating among adults
18-to-49 and 15.4 million viewers for its
most recent season — that most TV execs
see only in their dreams. Gimple, 45, runs
an apocalyptic empire. (He’s also blissfully
•
Mr. Robot’s second season proved
more divisive than the first — but, on
the eve of the USA drama’s Oct. 11 return,
creator Esmail, 40, remains as wanted as
ever in TV. He’ll next tackle a TV spin on
the podcast Homecoming (starring Julia
Roberts) for Amazon and is bubbling a mini
based on the silent classic Metropolis.
Network notes are most helpful when …
“They’re not trying to predict what audiences will or will not like.”
Right now, TV viewers need … “More
Twin Peaks.”
unaffected by the potentially devastating
lawsuit against AMC from other EPs seeking a big share of those massive profits.)
Most invaluable person in my career
“George Lucas. Er, we’ve never met.”
Most discussed series in our writers room
Family Ties
DONALD GLOVER
Atlanta (FX)
•
From left: The Americans’ Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell;
Sterling K. Brown on This Is Us.
Photographed by Austin Hargrave
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
96
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
Already a successful rapper and
actor, Glover, 35, didn’t need to prove
anything — but he did with Atlanta. The
auteur-ish dramedy set in his hometown
surprised critics and viewers with its 2016
launch, earning the in-demand multihyphenate two Emmy Awards (for directing
and acting). Next up: a sophomore run and
a turn in the Star Wars stand-alone Han
Solo film as a young Lando Calrissian.
Best thing I saw this year “O.J. Simpson:
Made in America. The story is incredible.
We’ll never see anything like that again.”
Matt and Ross Duffer have little experience with expectations. The 33-year-old
twin brothers, writers and directors of 2016
Netflix breakout Stranger Things, had barely
worked in Hollywood when their throwback horror series became a hit out of nowhere. Season
two is another matter. Still wrapping postproduction ahead of their Oct. 27 release, the Duffers
share insights into how Things will evolve and why
they think they’ll know when to call it a day.
Is there any truth to reports you’ll film seasons
three and four simultaneously?
MATT I think it came from an actor. It honestly
could not have been Netflix. They know, the way
that Ross and I work, that it would destroy us
mentally. It was not a realistic proposition ever.
But does the fact that these kids are aging put any
pressure on you to work at a certain pace?
ROSS It’s better to adjust the narrative to fit the
ages than to try to rush the process. They grow
so fast, we would have to move at such a speed to
keep them young. Even over the course of these
nine episodes, you can see them getting older.
That’s something that plays over a week. We want
to move as fast as we can, but it’s not really dictated by the kids.
MATT Even if I had the choice to freeze them in
time, I wouldn’t. We don’t want to be repeating
ourselves. This show is going to naturally evolve
and feel different year to year, and that to me is
a good thing. I like that we’re able to watch them
grow. Look at Harry Potter. How powerful was
that to grow up with those kids? For me, that
made that series especially potent.
Do you need this cast to make Stranger Things —
or could it exist as an anthology?
ROSS It’s not Star Wars. You’re not really creating
this giant universe. Right now it’s very specific to
this town of Hawkins and these kids.
MATT The title means it could carry over into
Dream casting goal “Depends. But a
safe bet would be Tracee Ellis Ross and
[Chewing Gum star] Michaela Coel.”
AMERICANS: PATRICK HARBRON/FX. THIS: RON BATZDORFF/NBC. STRANGER: JACKSON DAVIS/NETFLIX.
ADAM F. GOLDBERG
The Goldbergs (ABC)
•
More valuable to Sony Pictures
Television Studios than ever, the
comedy writer scored a massive twoseason renewal for his autobiographical
ABC sitcom in 2017 — more than making
up for the one-and-done midseason
entry Imaginary Mary. (Goldberg, 41, also
got some social flack for thinly veiled
Twitter commentary about the president
— but who hasn’t?)
Most discussed series in our writers
room “The failed pilot for Poochinski,
about Peter Boyle, a streetwise cop who is
reincarnated as a dog.”
Right now, TV viewers need … “A
reboot of Who’s the Boss? to air after the
Roseanne reboot.”
2017 POWER
SHOWRUNNERS
other supernatural-style stories that
aren’t specifically related to these events,
but it’s hard to know. We’ve spent maybe
10 minutes talking about that.
ROSS You see a lot of that in Hollywood.
It’s dangerous because everyone is trying
to create these universes that span multiple films, but they haven’t even built
the foundation. Star Wars had to be built.
We’re looking at those mistakes.
MATT Let’s do one good series. Then, if
we don’t manage to mess that up, we can
talk beyond that. We don’t have that J.J.
Abrams gene — for good or bad.
When a project is successful now, even if
it’s intended as a one-off, the immediate response
is to make more. What’s your take on that?
MATT It’s so hard to strike a chord with audiences
that, when it happens, everyone is coming to you
immediately to do it again and again. They don’t
want to leave it alone. In our case, as soon as we
started developing with Netflix, it was always
supposed to be a multiseason arc. As long as it’s
creator-driven, I don’t really have an issue with
it. So if Steven Zaillian thinks there is more that
he can mine from The Night Of, I say, “Hell, yes!”
I’m into that. Big Little Lies is the same thing. You
fall in love with these worlds and these characters, so I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It’s also not
a bad thing to just leave things alone.
How will you be feeling on Oct. 26?
MATT This a very different feeling than last year
when we were afraid that it was going to get
lost. Now we know that people will watch and,
of course, everyone has expectations. We will be
scouring social media to see the response.
You’ve been in touch with Stephen King about
his influence on the show. Any feedback from
Steven Spielberg?
ROSS I’m going to have to plead the Fifth on that.
PETER GOULD AND VINCE GILLIGAN
Better Call Saul (AMC)
•
Even in an era when your dry cleaner
could successfully pitch a show, carte
blanche doesn’t come easy — but that’s
what Gould, 57, and Gilligan, 50, earned by
following Breaking Bad’s run with three seasons of the Emmy-nominated Better Call
Saul. When they’re ready to move on, they’ll
be greeted with a lot of open arms.
Best thing I saw this year Gould: “Ken
Burns’ The Vietnam War.”
New streaming platform I’m most
excited about Gould: “Apple. The trick
will be for a company known for hands-on
perfectionism to give creators room to
succeed — and even fail.”
BRYAN FULLER AND MICHAEL GREEN
American Gods (STARZ)
•
Starz CEO Chris Albrecht has been
anxious for shows that offer buzz in
addition to pulling in subscribers, and
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
that’s what they’ve found in Fuller, 48,
and Green’s heady stab at adapting Neil
Gaiman’s beloved American Gods. The
project, which Fuller ultimately chose
over CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery,
premiered to near-network highs and gave
Albrecht some watercooler cred.
Network notes are most helpful when
… Fuller: “They are over wine. Thank you,
Suzanne Patmore Gibbs.”
Right now, TV viewers need … Green: “A
news outlet that doesn’t rely on ratings.”
NOAH HAWLEY
Fargo, Legion (FX)
•
Fargo may be on the back burner
after three successful seasons, but
Hawley, 50, is not skipping a beat. His
experimental Legion returns to FX in
2018, and he’s developing a Dr. Doom
feature for FX corporate sibling 20th
Century Fox film. Comic book IP snares
everyone eventually.
97
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
↑ Stranger Things’ second-season trailer has
been viewed 11 million times on YouTube.
MITCH HURWITZ
Arrested Development, Lady Dynamite,
Flaked (NETFLIX)
•
Netflix’s alt comedy king is finally
getting the fifth — or is it second?
— season of Arrested Development. The
cult favorite returns in 2018 with the entire
cast, as Hurwitz, 54, continues to tackle
niche projects like Will Arnett’s Flaked,
which dropped a second season in 2017,
and Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite
(returning Nov. 10).
LISA JOY AND JONAH NOLAN
Westworld (HBO)
•
Production on HBO’s pricey
Westworld caused concern for more
than a few, but the finished product obliterated doubts. Gross viewership climbed
past 12 million viewers, and the drama
took 22 2017 Emmy nominations — tying
Saturday Night Live for the most mentions. For their part, married duo Joy, 40,
and Nolan, 41, are being praised as HBO’s
next big creatives.
Best thing I saw this year Nolan: Dunkirk
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
Nolan: “The network president falls asleep.
True story.”
Right now, TV viewers need … Joy: “Less
tragedy on the nightly news.”
MIKE JUDGE AND ALEC BERG
Silicon Valley (HBO)
•
Silicon Valley, still relatively young in
its life cycle as it gears up for season
five, is all the more important to HBO
now that Veep is officially ending with its
seventh season. The tech comedy offers
a rare combo of viewers and awards
attention while minting big stars — from
now-departed T.J. Miller to Big Sick
breakout Kumail Nanjiani.
Most discussed series in our writers room
Berg: Beavis & Butt-head Judge: Seinfeld
Dream casting goal Berg: “When we got to
cast Stephen Tobolowsky, that was a big
dream come true. What a legend.”
JASON KATIMS
The Path (HULU); Rise (NBC)
•
Katims hasn’t had an impactful hit like
Friday Night Lights or Parenthood in
several years, but he remains one of the
best pitchmen in Hollywood. In addition to
Hulu drama The Path, which he produces
Globe-winning Goliath, produced the AT&T
surprise critical hit Mr. Mercedes and wrote
the Emmy darling and pop culture sensation Big Little Lies for HBO. Kelley, 61, and
BLL author Liane Moriarty still are in talks
about a follow-up.
Dream casting goal “Adding Tom Hanks
and Meryl Streep to Big Little Lies.”
Right now, TV viewers need … Walter
Cronkite
GLORIA CALDERON KELLETT AND MIKE ROYCE
One Day at a Time (NETFLIX)
COURTNEY KEMP
Power (STARZ)
•
•
How do you make a multicamera sitcom culturally (and critically) relevant
in 2017? Team with the man who made the
genre an art form. Calderon Kellett, 42, and
Royce, 53, are the shepherds of Norman
Lear’s update on One Day at a Time, a show
that instantly made the pair hot scribes
and got Netflix kudos for putting on an alltoo-rare show fronted by a Latino cast.
Best thing I saw this year Calderon
Kellett: The Handmaid’s Tale and Fleabag
Right now, TV viewers need … Royce:
“An app that puts all your shows — DVR,
streaming, whatever — on one page. One
big list of all your shows, regardless of
where they are.”
Dream casting goal Calderon Kellett:
Gloria Estefan
DAVID E. KELLEY
Big Little Lies (HBO); Mr. Mercedes (AT&T);
Goliath (AMAZON)
•
The once and future king of TV — you
may remember him as the only showrunner ever to win simultaneous Emmys
for best comedy (Ally McBeal) and drama
(The Practice) in 1999 — returned in a
big way. He launched Amazon’s Golden
Power is exactly what Kemp has. In
the midst of a two-season renewal
and a nice new overall deal with Starz
and Lionsgate, the 40-year-old writer
sold a drama to ABC and is developing other projects for her cable home,
where her drama pulls in 8 million
viewers. (It also doesn’t hurt that she’s
a trusted confidant for Curtis “50 Cent”
Jackson, her oft-outspoken star and
executive producer.)
Network notes are most helpful when …
“You are too close to a line of dialogue to
realize it’s stupid and no one likes it.”
New streaming platform I’m most
excited about “Apple. Matt Cherniss is
really smart.”
NAHNATCHKA KHAN
Fresh Off the Boat (ABC)
•
Development season started early
for Khan, 44. The prolific favorite
at 20th Century Fox TV and boss on
ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat quickly sold
two buzzy projects to Fox in August.
As for FOtB, it continues to help ABC
plant a comedy flag on Tuesdays.
Best thing I saw this year “Please Like
LACROIX FLAVOR FACE-OFF
IN THE WRITERS ROOM
The majority of polled showrunners who
admit to consuming the trashy-classy
fizzy water say their staffers favor
grapefruit, while coconut has its fans
5%
LEMON
5%
LIME
Me. It somehow manages to be extremely
funny and realistic while also dealing
with the subject of mental illness in a very
powerful and moving way.”
Network notes are most helpful when …
“They’re being given to someone else.”
self-deprecating he needs to be to lay
down the most withering attacks, and it’s
never anything but funny.”
I. MARLENE KING
Famous in Love (FREEFORM)
•
•
Since Freeform clearly could not
envision a life without former flagship
Pretty Little Liars, it has done everything
it can to stay in the good graces of Warner
Bros.-housed King. The writer, 50, got a
second season for Famous in Love, sold a
PLL spinoff and is working on an additional
project with another PLL alum.
Best thing I saw this year “Hands down,
The Handmaid’s Tale.”
New streaming platform I’m most
excited about “Facebook. Mina Lefevre is
a trendsetter. ”
JENJI KOHAN
Orange Is the New Black, GLOW (NETFLIX)
•
Netflix’s original leading lady does not
waver in her strength at the streamer.
On top of Orange Is the New Black, a
perennial hit, the launch of the Kohanproduced GLOW made noise in a summer
when few entries managed to break
through. Kohan, 48, also remains a vocal
force against Hollywood sexism.
Best thing I saw this year Difficult People
Most invaluable person in my career
“My husband and my nanny.”
AARON KORSH
Suits (USA)
•
At the halfway point of its seventh
season, Korsh’s Suits (a vestige of
USA’s Blue Sky past) is nearing a renewal
for an eighth and potentially ninth season,
while seeds for a backdoor spinoff (one
of several projects) are being sowed in a
2018 episode starring Gina Torres. USA
may be getting darker, but on sunny days,
it’s still 50-year-old Korsh’s sandbox.
Best thing I saw this year “Man in the
High Castle. It’s operating at such a high
level, it actually makes me sick.”
Network notes are most helpful when …
“Given with the spirit of helping clarify and
elevate what you’re trying to accomplish.”
STEVE LEVITAN AND CHRISTOPHER LLOYD
Modern Family (ABC)
11%
COCONUT
•
Strange bedfellows Levitan, 55, and
Lloyd, 57, share duties on ABC’s No. 1
series — and will continue to do so for two
more (likely final) seasons, with the show
renewed through 2019. Levitan, for his
part, is diversifying, directing the pilot (and
nabbing a lucrative EP credit) on the Fox
midseason comedy LA to Vegas.
Network notes are most helpful when …
Levitan: “Presented in song form with
uplifting choreography.”
Most discussed series in our writers room
Lloyd: “Last Week Tonight With
John Oliver because his persona is
so bulletproof: He knows just how
63%
PAMPLEMOUSSE
16%
PASSIONFRUIT
“We are all convinced
coconut is actually
suntan lotion.”
Kenya Barris
“We fuck with Perrier.”
Issa Rae
“What on earth is
LaCroix? I drink tea.”
Peter Morgan
CHUCK LORRE
The Big Bang Theory, Mom,
Young Sheldon (CBS); Disjointed (NETFLIX)
With Big Bang atop broadcast rankings and spinoff Young Sheldon
seeing a boffo preview (followed by a quick
full-season order) on Sept. 25, Warner
Bros.-housed Lorre, 63, is laughing all the
way to the bank. He also recently broke
out of his broadcast mold with the Netflix
launch of the pot comedy Disjointed.
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
“You’ve managed to bore yourself.”
Right now, TV viewers need … “One
comedy series about a 9-year-old genius
growing up in Texas and one about a pot
dispensary in California.”
DAVID MANDEL
Veep (HBO)
•
In the wake of what could be comedy
writing’s greatest torch-passing of all
time, Mandel, 47, returns to Veep for his
third and final season running Armando
Iannucci’s beloved creation. The Emmys’
top comedy for three straight seasons also
just minted a new acting streak for sixtime winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus. HBO has
said it will be ending in August 2018.
Most invaluable person in my career “I
used to say Larry David but starting to
think it was actually Armando Iannucci.”
Right now, TV viewers need … “More
Israeli format shows.”
ERICA MESSER
Criminal Minds (CBS)
•
Messer, 43, is doubling down on future
projects, forming her own production
shingle as part of her latest deal with ABC
Studios — one that saw her sell a family
drama to ABC in October. As for her day
job, Criminal Minds (No. 3 on CBS, just
behind NCIS) remains a fruitful constant
for its network as new hourlongs prove
harder and harder to launch.
Network notes are most helpful when …
“We’re snow blind and they’re not and can
give perspective.”
Most discussed series in our writers
room The Twilight Zone
BRUCE MILLER
The Handmaid’s Tale (HULU)
•
Miller, 52, who’s been consistently
working without much fanfare since
mid-era ER, has TV’s current darling in
The Handmaid’s Tale. Eerily relevant and
slick as all get-out, the Hulu game-changer
earned top drama honors at the 2017
Emmys (and an actress win for star and
producer Elisabeth Moss), instantly driving
at least 7,500 new subscriptions.
Best thing I saw this year “The eclipse.”
Most discussed series in our writers room
“Definitely Outlander.”
Right now, TV viewers need … “A reboot
of Cop Rock.”
LACROIX: VIVIEN KILLILEA/GETTY IMAGES (2). MORGAN: DAVID M. BENETT/GETTY IMAGES. RAE: KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES. BARRIS: DAVID LIVINGSTON/GETTY IMAGES. DUPLASS: MICHAEL TULLBERG/GETTY
IMAGES. FEY: JOHN SHEARER/WIREIMAGE. CUSE: GREG DOHERTY/GETTY IMAGES. KOHAN: JASON LAVERIS/GETTY IMAGES. BLOOM: GREGG DEGUIRE/GETTY IMAGES. FLAHIVE: MATT BARON/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK.
alongside creator Jessica Goldberg,
Katims, 56, has the NBC freshman Rise
(under Universal TV, where he has a big
deal), which will premiere in midseason.
Network notes are most helpful when …
“I love when notes calls have clarity. It’s a
misnomer that notes are bad, but sometimes they can be more efficient.”
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
“Glazed eyes and frozen smiles.”
2017 POWER
SHOWRUNNERS
WE DON’T SAY ‘CANCELED’ AROUND HERE
The C-word decidedly passe, showrunners share a selection of the euphemisms they’ve heard
from conciliatory network execs (and a few choice phrases they invented themselves)
JOEL FIELDS
MICHAEL GREEN
“THREE IS A VERY
RESPECTABLE NUMBER
OF EPISODES.”
“ELIGIBLE FOR
NETFLIX REVIVAL.”
↓ CARLTON CUSE
“ ‘They’re going to call you.’ I
still have not gotten an official
call from Fox on The Adventures
of Brisco County Jr. But that
was only 1994. I’m still hoping.”
↓ MARK DUPLASS
“We feel like the show
really, uh, creatively ran its
course — so this is actually
a bit of a mutual decision in
some ways, right?”
is topping cable ratings, and their Crime
Story follow-up about the death of Gianni
Versace is creating feverish buzz. They’ll
next try to remedy Fox ratings with the
Angela Bassett drama 911. On his own,
Murphy has Feud and a Netflix commitment for Ratched — a showcase for
repertory MVP Sarah Paulson as the
infamous One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest nurse.
Best thing I saw this year Falchuk: “The
Handmaid’s Tale and Westworld.”
Most invaluable person in my career
Falchuk: “Ryan.”
MARTI NOXON
Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce (BRAVO);
UnREAL (LIFETIME), Sharp Objects (HBO)
•
↑ TINA FEY
“ABRUPTLY
LIMITED SERIES.”
↓ RACHEL BLOOM
“SEEING IF
AMAZON OR HULU
IS INTERESTED.”
DARREN STAR
“IT’S TOO GOOD FOR
OUR NETWORK.”
JASON KATIMS
“We’re going to see how
our pilots come in
before we make a decision
about next season.”
SCOTT GIMPLE
“RE-GESTATING.”
DAN FOGELMAN
“JUST TAKING A LITTLE
“PERMANENT HIATUS.” BREAK, FOREVER.”
↑ JENJI KOHAN
With UnREAL on the back burner
and Girlfriends' renewed for a final
season, the ever-in-demand Noxon,
53, next will go to Dietland at AMC and
try to make some Big Little Lies-level
magic at HBO. Her adaptation of Sharp
Objects, starring Amy Adams, arrives
in 2018.
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
“What’s that old joke? Somebody answers
the phone during sex and says, ‘Nothing,
what are you doing?’ It’s like that.”
Right now, TV viewers need … “More
vitamin D.”
PRENTICE PENNY AND ISSA RAE
Insecure (HBO)
•
If you’re looking for evidence that
time slots aren’t dead, look no further
than Insecure. HBO’s celebrated drama
from Rae, 32, and comedy vet Penny,
could not have less in common with Game
of Thrones. But sharing a Sunday night
with TV’s biggest series helped bring a
34 percent audience spike to Insecure.
Most discussed series in our writers
room Rae: “Sex and the City in a ‘Did they
already do this?’ way.”
In five years, Netflix will be … Penny:
“The biggest producer of live content and
hopefully still part of a euphemism for
casual hookups.”
TYLER PERRY
If Loving U Is Wrong,
The Haves and the Have Nots (OWN);
Too Close to Home (TLC)
•
RONALD D. MOORE
Outlander (STARZ)
•
Starz didn’t underestimate its lusty
viewers, 5.1 million of whom tune in
to the steamy romance. With a sprawling job (production spans 6,300 miles
from Scotland to South Africa), Moore,
53, continues to get credit for translating
Diana Gabaldon’s beloved book series
(28 million copies sold) and has Philip K.
Dick’s Electric Dreams up next at Amazon.
Most discussed series in our writers room
“Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones.”
Right now, TV viewers need …
“Something that breaks the format and
establishes a new way of storytelling.”
PETER MORGAN
The Crown (NETFLIX)
•
The scope of storytelling possibilities
continues to expand, and few series
better showcase that than The Crown.
Morgan, 54, is trying to tell six decades
of Queen Elizabeth II’s life, an endeavor
that will see multiple cast changes and
already has cost a reported $60 million. The
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
filmmaker’s series has locked in Emmy noms
and a drama win at the 2017 Golden Globes.
You know a pitch isn’t going well when …
“George Lucas leaves the room and puts
you on his private jet back to London.”
Most discussed series in our writers room
The Sopranos
RYAN MURPHY AND BRAD FALCHUK
AHS, ACS, Feud (FX); 911 (FOX)
•
Alone or together, Murphy, 51, and
Falchuk, 46, seem infallible. The
current season of American Horror Story
99
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
Having made OWN profitable with
his primetime soaps, Perry, 48, soon
will try to save another (bigger) cable
giant: Viacom. The ever-rebranding suite
of channels will be home to Perry’s voluminous output come 2019 in a massive
deal encompassing television, film and
shortform video. Already planned are 90
hours of annual original television on BET,
which Perry will be producing from his
new, sprawling Atlanta studio.
Best thing I saw this year Taylor
Sheridan’s Wind River
Most invaluable person in my career
Oprah Winfrey
Right now, TV viewers need … “Laughter,
love, hope and encouragement.”
2017 POWER
SHOWRUNNERS
ONES TO WATCH
8 novices, many fostered by established EPs, made big impressions in 2017
ROBERTO AGUIRRE-SACASA
His Riverdale, under Greg Berlanti,
may be in hot water over star K.J.
Apa’s recent post-work car wreck, but the
show signals a new future for The CW.
The drama is said to have been an unprecedented hit for CW streaming and Netflix.
A sister series (a Sabrina the Teenage Witch
reboot) is in the works.
SHONDA RHIMES
Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy,
How to Get Away With Murder (ABC)
•
•
The megaproducer who launched a
thousand ships, Rhimes, 47, essentially
set fire to broadcast in August when she
said she was leaving longtime home ABC
Studios for a rich deal — read: the richest in
TV history — with Netflix. The pact will give
her backend and a venue to ramp up her
output. Meanwhile, her trio of ABC dramas
continues to do ratings gangbusters on
Thursdays, even if more recent production
attempts (The Catch, Still Star-Crossed)
haven’t shared that fate.
Best thing I saw this year The Crown
Network notes are most helpful when …
“They tell you the problem and don’t pitch
a solution.”
Dream casting goal “It’s always the same:
Idris Elba and Meryl Streep.”
DAVE ANDRON
John Singleton’s pick to shepherd his
FX cocaine drama Snowfall is finally
in the driver’s seat after a successful tenure writing on Justified. The drama, not
yet at the level of his network’s critically
beloved mainstays, returns for a second
season in 2018.
•
MICHAEL SCHUR
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX);
The Good Place (NBC);
Master of None (NETFLIX)
SARAH-VIOLET BLISS AND CHARLES ROGERS
These TV newcomers created
TBS’ Search Party, back for season
two Nov. 19, alongside director Michael
•
•
As SNL writing alums go, Schur,
is among the most prolific. The
mastermind behind Parks and Recreation,
currently focusing on NBC favorite The
Good Place while also lending a hand to
Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Master of None,
is always growing his Fremulon shingle
at Universal TV. Potentially joining his
robust roster are two new sales at NBC —
which clearly likes what he’s doing.
Best thing I saw this year “The Leftovers.
A close second was Anthony Atamanuik’s
two-minute improvised monologue, as
Trump, watching a truck drive by in the
pilot of The President Show.”
Dream casting goal “Someday I am going
to write a role worthy of Jackee [Harry].”
From left: Rashid, Aguirre-Sacasa, Flahive and Mensch
Showalter. The dark comedy is niche,
for now, but people really like what
they’re doing and they’re among the few
fresh showrunners to have gotten a nobrainer renewal in the last year.
LIZ FLAHIVE AND CARLY MENSCH
The Jenji Kohan empire at Netflix
made a big move this summer
with the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling
(GLOW). Created by Flahive and
Mensch, two writers who met working
on Nurse Jackie, it is currently topping the list of Netflix’s most eagerly
awaited returns.
•
ROBIA RASHID
After fine-tuning her comedy chops
on How I Met Your Mother, Rashid
scored a TV series of her own, Netflix’s
Atypical, which got a huge push — even
by the streamer’s standards. Tackling
autism in the half-hour format helped
distinguish the show and earned it a
quick renewal.
•
SARAH WATSON
This Jason Katims disciple (credits on Parenthood and About a Boy)
finally launched her own show in
Freeform critical breakout (yes, really)
The Bold Type — a loose spin on the
life of former Cosmopolitan editor-inchief Joanna Coles.
•
JILL SOLOWAY
Transparent, I Love Dick (AMAZON)
embattled parent Viacom, Younger had
an average 1.3 million viewers for its fourth
season, its most watched so far. And he’s
staying put at Viacom, where he’s setting
his next project.
Network notes are most helpful when …
“They are fans of the show. You can’t
ignore a note from an exec who is invested
in the story and characters.”
In five years, Netflix will be ... “The model
for every network.”
Amazon may be desperate for a
mainstream hit, but at least it’s got
Soloway. The Transparent creator, 52,
appears happy there, extending her pact
in May after launching the comedy I Love
Dick. With the future of that project still up
in the air, Soloway was back to work on a
fifth season of Transparent almost as soon
as the fourth dropped Sept. 21.
Most discussed series in our writers
room “The Los Angeles County Board
of Supervisor five-hour-long meetings,
weekly on KLCS at 10 p.m.”
Right now, TV viewers need ... “Battle of
the Streaming Stars. Elisabeth Moss in a
giant, sweaty ropes course against Robin
Wright, with a cheering live audience.”
JENNIE SNYDER URMAN
Jane the Virgin (THE CW)
•
DARREN STAR
Younger (TV LAND)
•
Few have a better track record at network-defining hits than Star, 56. With
Younger — Star’s latest tube contribution
after giving the world Beverly Hills, 90210;
Sex and the City and others — TV Land
has a rare success. A lone scripted hit for
The 42-year-old brain behind Jane
is one of the most valued in CBS
Studios’ growing stable of writer-producers. Currently trying to crack the Charmed
reboot still in development at The CW,
Urman also has an aggressive slate of
projects she’s shepherding elsewhere for
several of her Jane writers.
Most discussed series in our writers room
“Every iteration of the Bachelor/
Bachelorette.”
Dream casting goal “Lin-Manuel Miranda.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
We need him on Jane the Virgin. Lin? Are
you reading? We need you.”
JOHN WELLS
Shameless (SHOWTIME);
Animal Kingdom (TNT)
•
With Shameless now anchoring fall
for Showtime and Animal Kingdom reupped for a third season at TNT, Wells, 62,
is busier than ever. He’s got a TNT pilot, a
Netflix movie about the Panama Papers,
and his Alicia Silverstone starrer American
Woman will help launch the Paramount
Network in 2018.
Dream casting goal “Paul Newman and
Elizabeth Taylor. That isn’t happening any
more than the majority of the ‘dream list’
suggestions we get from network execs.”
100
METHODOLOGY
DICK WOLF
Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D.,
Chicago Med, Law & Order: SVU,
Law & Order True Crime (NBC)
•
The Wolf, 70, of 2017 is a showrunner more focused than ever on
diversifying his television offerings. He
delved into anthologies with Law &
Order True Crime, a clear prestige play
starring Edie Falco. He also scored
a straight-to-series order for an FBI
drama at CBS. (But don’t worry about his
relationship with NBC, where he has
five dramas — the network just ran out
of room.)
Best thing I saw this year Super Bowl
Most invaluable person in my career
Brandon Tartikoff
Eligible showrunners had at least one current scripted (not animated) series air
new episodes between August 2016 and July 2017 (sorry, Seth MacFarlane!).
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
AGUIRRE-SACASA: JASON MERRITT/GETTY IMAGES. RASHID: JONATHAN LEIBSON/GETTY IMAGES.
•
CONGRATULATES
ALL OUR 2017 NEWS & DOCUMENTARY EMMY® AWARD NOMINEES
A GIRL IN THE RIVER:
THE PRICE OF FORGIVENESS
VICE NEWS TONIGHT
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR SHARMEEN OBAID-CHINOY
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS TINA BROWN, SHEILA NEVINS
SENIOR PRODUCER LISA HELLER
OUTSTANDING MUSIC & SOUND
COMPOSER WENDY BLACKSTONE
SOUND EDITOR/RE-RECORDING MIXER CHRIS BERTOLOTTI
SOUND RECORDIST/SOUND ENGINEER NADIR SIDDIQUI
“RETAKING MOSUL”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS MADELEINE HAERINGER, SHANE SMITH,
JOSH TYRANGIEL
SENIOR PRODUCER NOREEN JAMEEL
SUPERVISING PRODUCERS JUSTIN DIAL, CHRISTINA VALLICE
PRODUCERS ADAM DESIDERIO, BEN FOLEY, MARTINA VELTRONI
LINE PRODUCER MARAL USEFI
CORRESPONDENT SEB WALKER
ONLY THE DEAD
SEE THE END OF WAR
OUTSTANDING CONTINUING COVERAGE
OF A NEWS STORY IN A NEWSCAST
BEST DOCUMENTARY
OUTSTANDING SHORT DOCUMENTARY
OUTSTANDING CURRENT AFFAIRS DOCUMENTARY
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER MICHAEL WARE
DIRECTOR BILL GUTTENTAG
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS ROSS COWLEY, CHRISTOPHER JOHNSTONE,
JUSTINE A. ROSENTHAL
PRODUCER PATRICK MCDONALD
UNDERFIRE: THE UNTOLD STORY
OF PFC. TONY VACCARO
OUTSTANDING HISTORICAL DOCUMENTARY
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER MAX LEWKOWICZ
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS GIANNA CERBONE-TEOLI, SHEILA NEVINS,
ANN OSTER, TIM VAN PATTEN
SENIOR PRODUCER JACQUELINE GLOVER
PRODUCER VALERIE THOMAS
THREE DAYS OF TERROR:
THE CHARLIE HEBDO ATTACKS
BEST STORY IN A NEWSCAST
OUTSTANDING CONTINUING COVERAGE
OF A NEWS STORY IN A NEWSCAST
“PHILIPPINES DRUG WAR”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS MADELEINE HAERINGER, SHANE SMITH,
JOSH TYRANGIEL
PRODUCERS ORLANDO DE LA CRUZ, ADAM DESIDERIO,
MARTINA VELTRONI
CORRESPONDENT SEB WALKER
OUTSTANDING FEATURE STORY IN A NEWSCAST
“COST OF THE GAME: THE DANGERS OF YOUTH FOOTBALL”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER RICK BERNSTEIN
SENIOR PRODUCER JOE PERSKIE
PRODUCER NICK DOLIN
COORDINATNG PRODUCERS NICK DOLIN, TIM WALKER
ADDITIONAL PRODUCERS BRIAN DERR, NISREEN HABBAL
CORRESPONDENT BERNARD GOLDBERG
EBOLA: THE DOCTORS’ STORY
OUTSTANDING SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
DOCUMENTARY
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR STEVEN GRANDISON
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS KAREN EDWARDS, LUCIE KON,
SHEILA NEVINS
SENIOR PRODUCER NANCY ABRAHAM
BODY TEAM 12
OUTSTANDING SHORT DOCUMENTARY
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER DAVID DARG
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER PAUL G. ALLEN
CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS CAROLE TOMKO, OLIVIA WILDE
PRODUCER BRYN MOOSER
COORDINATING PRODUCERS JANNAT GARGI, MOLLY SWENSON
OUTSTANDING HARD NEWS FEATURE STORY
IN A NEWSCAST
EDITOR DAVID DARG
PRODUCER/DIRECTOR DAN REED
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS SAM BAGNALL, LUC HERMANN,
SHEILA NEVINS
SENIOR PRODUCERS NANCY ABRAHAM, SARAH WALDRON
OUTSTANDING RESEARCH
OUTSTANDING EDITING—NEWS
RESEARCHERS LUCILE BERLAND, MARION GUÉGAN,
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OUTSTANDING INVESTIGATIVE REPORT
IN A NEWSMAGAZINE
“FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS MADELEINE HAERINGER, SHANE SMITH,
JOSH TYRANGIEL
SUPERVISING PRODUCERS JONAH KAPLAN, JESSICA WEISBERG
PRODUCER ROLAKE BAMGBOSE
CORRESPONDENT JAY KANG
“THE RISE OF CARFENTANIL”
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS MADELEINE HAERINGER, SHANE SMITH,
JOSH TYRANGIEL
SENIOR PRODUCER JAVIER GUZMAN
SUPERVISING PRODUCER JONAH KAPLAN
PRODUCER ISABEL CASTRO
CORRESPONDENT DEXTER THOMAS
OUTSTANDING INVESTIGATIVE DOCUMENTARY
REAL SPORTS
WITH BRYANT GUMBEL
OUTSTANDING EDITING—DOCUMENTARY
ORPHANS OF EBOLA
OUTSTANDING EDITING—DOCUMENTARY
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“PHILIPPINES DRUG WAR”
EDITOR KIMMY GORDEN
THANK YOU, TELEVISION ACADEMY MEMBERS, FOR OUR 18 NOMINATIONS
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AFI
50
Years
‘MAKING
MOVIES IS
T H E O N LY
THING I
KNOW HOW
TO DO’
David Lynch, Patty Jenkins and more
American Film Institute alums and friends
celebrate a half-century of scholarship, wild
Life Achievement ceremonies, top 100 lists and the
time Richard Nixon gave an award to John Ford
P h o t o g r a p h e d by AU S T I N H A R G R AV E
Patty Jenkins (class of 2007) and David Lynch (1972) were
photographed Sept. 27 in the Louis B. Mayer Library at AFI in
Los Angeles. When Lynch attended, AFI was housed at Greystone
Mansion in Beverly Hills, where, he revealed at the photo shoot,
he spent much of his time in the old stables (Lynch later filmed
some interiors for Eraserhead there). “AFI helps you find your
cinematic voice — it’s support, encouragement and inspiration.”
O
n Sept. 29, 1965, President
Lyndon B. Johnson invited
a collection of leaders
from the arts, entertainment and politics to the
White House Rose Garden
for the signing of the Arts
and the Humanities Act. He promised the creation
of a National Theater, a National Opera Company,
a National Ballet Company and “an American Film
Institute, bringing together leading artists of the
film industry, outstanding educators and young
men and women who wish to pursue the 20th century art form as their life’s work.”
Most of those Rose Garden promises never came
true. But AFI, formally established 50 years ago in
1967, proved the exception. “It was a great experiment that blossomed into something that paid off
in a culturally seismic way,” says Bob Gazzale, who
has served as AFI’s president and CEO since 2007.
Operating on an annual $32 million budget — entirely dependent on private donations,
a big chunk of which is raised by its annual Life
Achievement Award gala — AFI has been active in
film preservation (the AFI Collection in the Library
of Congress numbers 60,000 films), historical
research (its AFI Catalog of Feature Films provides
a database of movies going back to 1893), education
(AFI’s 100 Greatest Movies lists provoke debate)
and discovering new films and filmmakers (at its
annual AFI Fest and AFIDocs). Its board of trustees is chaired by former Warner Bros. head Robert
Daly and includes such power players as Disney’s
Alan Horn, NBCUniversal’s Ron Meyer, Lucasfilm’s
Kathleen Kennedy, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, Steven
Spielberg and Shonda Rhimes.
But AFI’s cultural influence is most evident at
its Hollywood Conservatory, which offers a twoyear graduate film program (5,112 attendees so
far). Its first 18-member class in 1969 included
Terrence Malick, Caleb Deshcanel and Paul
Schrader (“Screenings three times a day, cocktail parties with Hitchcock, Ford and Capra — it
was pretty great,” recalls the Taxi Driver writer).
David Lynch would arrive in 1970, followed in
later years by Darren Aronofsky, thirtysomething
creators Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick,
Spielberg’s cinematographer Janusz Kaminski
and Game of Thrones helmer Jeremy Podeswa
— not to mention class of 2007’s Patty Jenkins,
who this summer rewrote the record books with
Warner Bros.’ Wonder Woman grossing $821 million worldwide.
Says Jenkins of her Conservatory days, “AFI was
the one and only pocket of time where I was able
to steal all of my focus away from making a living
and the realities of survival and focus solely on the
kind of filmmaking I loved.”
7 C L AS S I C
M O M E NTS F RO M
AF I ’ S LI FE
AC H I EVE M E NT
AWAR DS
TRICKY DICK SALUTES
JOHN FORD, 1973
President Richard Nixon
presented director John
Ford with the Presidential
Medal of Freedom at
the very first ceremony,
also attended by Jimmy
Stewart, Danny Kaye and
Charlton Heston. A week
before the event, the
Watergate burglars had
been convicted. A week
later, John Dean would
begin to cooperate with
the Senate investigators.
1
Cracking
Hollywood’s
Glass Ceiling
Since 1974
AFI’s female-focused
workshop has been
taking on director
inequity for more than
40 years — eight
filmmakers at a time
BY R E B E C CA S U N
1 Grant behind the camera for
DWW’s first workshop in 1974.
2 Sarah Gertrude Shapiro (right)
working on her DWW short in 2012.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
104
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
AFI 50 Years
SINATRA SINGS FOR
ORSON WELLES, 1975
Frank Sinatra serenaded
the Citizen Kane
director with a reworded
version of “The Lady
Is a Tramp” in honor of
Welles’ infamous radio
broadcast that had many
thinking Martians had
invaded. “In ’38, with a
radio play,” sang Sinatra.
“War of the Worlds filled
us with much dismay.
And he scared the
shhhh … adows away!”
A PRINCESS BOWS FOR
JIMMY STEWART, 1980
Grace Kelly left
Hollywood at 26 to
become princess
of Monaco, but she
returned some two
decades later for a
ceremony honoring her
Rear Window co-star
Jimmy Stewart. “It’s nice
to be back,” she told the
crowd from the stage.
Two years later, at the
actress’ funeral, Stewart
delivered her eulogy.
2
ROSA PARKS STANDS
UP FOR POITIER, 1992
When Sidney Poitier
became the first
African-American
recipient of the award,
civil rights legend Rosa
Parks — the activist who
refused to sit in the back
of the bus — was on
hand for the ceremony.
James Earl Jones,
Denzel Washington,
Morgan Freeman and
John Singleton also
were present.
MIKE MYERS
DONS A KILT FOR
CONNERY, 2006
The Austin Powers star
came onstage at Sean
Connery’s ceremony
accompanied by bagpipe
music, flanked by Scottish
dancers and wearing a
kilt with knee-high socks.
He said Connery was a
favorite of his Scottish
father’s: “My dad would
say, ‘See that Sean
Connery? That is bloody
me on the screen.’ ”
BETTY WHITE DRIVES
FREEMAN NUTS, 2011
White rolled onstage
in a Hudson Commodore
(a la Driving Miss
Daisy) for a threeminute musical number
honoring Morgan
Freeman. Surrounded
by six tuxedoed backup
dancers, the actress sang,
“So let’s all clap, Morgan.
Even though you’ve
made some crap, Morgan.
Please don’t ever make
Hard Rain again!”
WOODY ALLEN GOES
LA-DE-DA, 2017
The famously L.A.-averse
director — he doesn’t
even come for the Oscars
— made a rare visit to
Hollywood to honor his
longtime co-star and
muse Diane Keaton. “She
has been involved romantically with a half-dozen
of the most gifted, charismatic, attractive men in
Hollywood,” he said. “And
every one of them has
dumped her.”
I
n 1974, less than a decade
into the institute’s existence,
Mathilde Krim, the wife of
United Artists head Arthur Krim
and future co-founder of amfAR,
wrote a letter to AFI founding
director George Stevens Jr. asking a simple question: “Why are
there no women directors?”
“Not only did she have the idea
[for the Directing Workshop
for Women], she got the money
for it [from the Rockefeller
Foundation],” says Jean Picker
Firstenberg, who served as
AFI’s CEO and director from
1980 to 2007. The inaugural
class launched with a student
body made up of mostly famous
actresses who wanted to direct,
including Ellen Burstyn, Lee
Grant and Margot Kidder,
along with poet Maya Angelou.
Says Firstenberg, “There was
a theory when we started
that women of note should be
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
Burstyn
Angelou
invited so we would get traction.
It worked.”
Today, the workshop accepts
up to eight applicants — women
who have worked in the arts for
at least three years but do not
yet have professional narrative
directing credits — to participate
in a tuition-free yearlong program
centered on a three-week, fulltime course of intensive classes
and hands-on training. It culminates in a completed narrative
short that screens at a showcase
for reps, producers and executives.
One gauge of the workshop’s
success: the top Hollywood talent
it has attracted as guest lecturers, including Paul Feig, Patty
105
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
Firstenberg
Kidder
Jenkins, Gina Prince-Bythewood
and Issa Rae. But Firstenberg
believes the workshop still has a
lot of work ahead. “The sad issue
is that we still need a directing
workshop for women,” she says,
although the success stories
among the program’s 316 alumnae keep her optimistic about
the future. “In 1982, we had this
application from a woman working in Japan as a choreographer,”
she says. “She told us this story
she wanted to tell. No one knew
who she was, but we admitted
her.” She was Lesli Linka Glatter,
and her Oscar-nominated DWW
short preceded DGA noms for
Mad Men and Homeland.
PREVIOUS SPREAD: JENKINS HAIR BY ERICK ORELLANA, MAKEUP BY DANA DELANEY AT FORWARD ARTISTS, STYLING BY ERICA CLOUD AT THE ONLY AGENCY. NARCISO RODRIGUEZ DRESS, ALDO SHOES. THIS SPREAD: GRANT, SHAPIRO: COURTESY OF AFI. NIXON: BETTMANN/GETTY IMAGES. SINATRA: AP PHOTO. KELLY: MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES/GETTY IMAGES. POITIER: AP
PHOTO/KEVORK DJANSEZIAN. MYERS: MARK MAINZ/GETTY IMAGES. WHITE: KEVIN WINTER/GETTY IMAGES FOR AFI. ALLEN: MICHAEL KOVAC/GETTY IMAGES FOR AFI. BURSTYN: MICHAEL LOCCISANO/GETTY IMAGES FOR HBO. ANGELOU: MATHEW IMAGING/FILMMAGIC. FIRSTENBERG: FREDERICK M. BROWN/GETTY IMAGES FOR AFI. KIDDER: ALBERT L. ORTEGA/GETTY IMAGES.
Since 1973, one influential artist (think Beatty, Spielberg, Fonda) has been singled out
each year in a ceremony that has become the hottest ticket in Hollywood BY M I A GA LU P P O
AFI 50 Years
1
IS
C ITIZ E N K AN E
STI LL
N O. 1?
AFI’s prestigious 100 Movies
list hasn’t been refreshed
in 10 years, though another
ballot seems likely
The ballot from the
2007 update of AFI’s
100 Movies list.
2
How AFI
Became a Major
Player in
the Oscar Race
1 From left: Oprah Winfrey, Ava DuVernay and David
Oyelowo at an AFI Q&A for Selma in 2014. 2 Charlton
Heston at the 1996 AFI Fest at Mann’s Chinese Theatre.
Its film festivals and awards lunch
have made the institute a must-stop
destination on the road to Oscar
T
hey may not have the buzz of
Sundance, the prestige of Telluride
or the fashion wackiness of Cannes,
but AFI’s film festivals and other events are
making the institute an increasingly important player in Hollywood’s awards season.
AFIDocs takes place over five days in
June in Silver Spring, Maryland (home of
the AFI Silver Theatre), and is arguably the
world’s pre-eminent documentary showcase. This year, it opened its 15th season
with Netflix’s Icarus, a docu-thriller about
sports doping that’s already regarded as an
Oscar frontrunner.
In November, there’s AFI Fest, which
celebrates films of all genres and nationalities. An outgrowth of the Los Angeles
International Film Exposition, or Filmex,
it is now entering its 31st year as a standalone event. Its timing has always been
problematic; in November, many on the
awards circuit are returning home from
a marathon of far-flung festivals before
the Thanksgiving break, and most of the
buzziest films have already premiered,
leaving AFI Fest with slim pickings.
Still, every year, at least a few movies
debuting at AFI Fest go on to become major
contenders, like 2003’s Monster (which
got an Oscar for Charlize Theron), 2010’s
The Fighter (an Oscar for Christian Bale)
and 2014’s American Sniper and Selma (best
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
106
picture nominations). This November, the
fest will open with the world premiere of
Ridley Scott’s All the Money in the World.
Along with world premieres, AFI Fest
unspools a slew of smaller films in more
modest screening rooms that have sometimes planted the seeds of award-winning
careers. Before Damien Chazelle and his
composer Justin Hurwitz showed their
Oscar-nominated musical La La Land at
the fest in 2016, they came to AFI Fest with
their first film, 2009’s Guy and Madeline on
a Park Bench. Hurwitz recently recounted
how back then he and Chazelle snuck into
the main theater and “dreamed one day
we’d be here,” fuel for the ambition that
ultimately earned them a slot in the big
room (and, for about 30 seconds, a best
picture trophy).
In January, on the Friday before the
Golden Globes — right in the middle of
Oscar nomination voting — comes the AFI
Awards luncheon, with honorees announced
in advance (the year’s top 10 films and TV
shows, as determined by juries of film
industry types). Only a small press pool
is allowed, which partly explains why it’s
one of the most star-studded events of the
year. Emma Stone, Denzel Washington
and Mel Gibson were among the attendees
in January, when AFI president Bob Gazzale
welcomed them with a brief speech. “This
is a campaign-free zone,” he insisted. “You
don’t have to thank anybody. We’re here to
thank you.” — SCOTT FEINBERG
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
DUVERNAY: TIMOTHY NORRIS/COURTESY OF AFI. HESTON: COURTESY OF AFI.
• • • “It’s like the Good Housekeeping Seal
of Approval,” says film historian Leonard
Maltin of American Film Institute’s list of
the 100 greatest movies of all time, which
in Hollywood is at the top of everyone’s list
of favorite movie lists.
The ranking began in 1998 with AFI’s
100 Movies, and in subsequent years, the
AFI issued one new list a year, branching
into subcategories like 100 Laughs, 100
Thrills and 100 Cheers (for inspirational
flicks). However, a new list has not been
compiled since 2007, when the flagship
list of 100 Movies was last updated: Back
then, 1,500 Hollywood insiders — Maltin
was one, along with Steven Spielberg and
Martin Scorsese — were polled on their
big-screen favorites. They were mailed a
ballot containing the names of 765 movies and asked to number their top five,
then check off 95 others in no particular
order; write-ins were welcome.
In 1998 and 2007, Citizen Kane came
out on top, while Casablanca — Maltin’s
all-time fave — and The Godfather took
turns in second place. But the list is long
overdue for a refresh — a lot of great
movies have come out these past 10
years — especially considering the 20th
anniversary of the list’s inception is right
around the corner. “It’s a concept we’re
committed to because it’s designed to
catalyze conversations about what is
excellent and why,” says AFI president and
CEO Bob Gazzale, “and we’ll be announcing something soon.”
Couldn’t be soon enough for Maltin,
who looks forward to a whole new round
of arguing among cinephiles. “That seems
to be part of the attraction,” he says.
“BuzzFeed has built a whole business on
it.” — SETH ABRAMOVITCH
David,
You were a larger than life presence
at Fox and made a huge mark
on everyone who was lucky enough
to know you and work with you.
We’ll miss you.
David LyleǥǭǩǤɝǦǤǥǫ
AFI 50 Years
‘ MAKE TH E
M OVI E
YO U WANT
TO S E E ’
AFI’s Harold Lloyd Seminars
have been bringing masters
and students together long
before James Lipton did
• • • Robert Altman, Bernardo Bertolucci,
Mel Brooks, Robert De Niro, Clint
Eastwood, Federico Fellini, Martin
Scorsese — scores of cinematic geniuses
have given guest lectures at AFI over the
past 50 years and answered questions
from classrooms full of future cinematic
geniuses. THR was given access to
the archives for a few choice highlights.
ALFRE D
H ITCH COCK
↑ Hitchcock lectured in 1970, teaching Suspense 101. “Four people are sitting
around a table talking about baseball. … Very dull. But tell the audience there’s a
bomb under the table, and the whole emotion of the audience is different.”
JAN E
FON DA
→ Fonda told
students in 1985 that
she’d just been sent
a script about a
woman raped in front
of a cheering crowd
in a Boston pool hall.
“I think I’m going to
have to say no,” she
said. “I’m scared it’s
titillating, that it’s
going to encourage
[rape].” Jodie Foster
ended up with the
part in The Accused
and won an Oscar.
BILLY
WILDE R
ROBE RT
DE NIRO
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
108
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
← “A lot of times the writer doesn’t
know much more about the
character than you do,” De Niro said
of acting when he was a guest
lecturer in 1980, just before filming
King of Comedy. “Then you have
to just go on your own because you
know he doesn’t know. In other
words, it’s up to you as an actor to
make these details work.”
COURTESY OF AFI (4).
↑ The Oscar-winning
filmmaker’s lecture in
1978 focused on the
importance of directors
paying attention to the
script. “It’s not important
for a director to be able
to write,” he told
students. “But it is very
important that he knows
how to read.”
AFI 50 Years
STEVE N
S PI E LBE RG
→ “My advice,” Tarantino told students in 2017, “is to
make the movie you want to see. A whole lot of films
have been made. What’s the movie we haven’t
seen because you haven’t made it? Make that movie.”
← “I suffered
through elementary
school, high school
and college as a
wimp,” 29-year-old
Spielberg told
students in 1975. “I
can’t fix cars
— making movies
is the only thing
I know how to do.”
QU E NTI N
TAR ANTI NO
From Johnson to Reagan, from Bush (one and two) to Obama,
AFI has always had a friend in the White House (until Trump)
• • • Ever since LBJ launched AFI in
the Rose Garden, the institute has had
a special place in the hearts of U.S.
presidents — until now, that is.
Barack Obama hosted AFI’s Student
Film Festival at the White House for
the last three years of his administration. Bill Clinton spoke at Warren
Beatty’s Life Achievement Award
event in 2008, while both Bush
presidents turned up at AFI events
and Ronald and Nancy Reagan came
to AFI’s Preservation Ball in 1988. Even
Richard Nixon, despite the mounting
Watergate scandal, managed to attend
John Ford’s Life Achievement Award
ceremony in 1973.
Donald Trump, however, apparently is not such a bigly fan. Sources
say the White House has not returned
1
AFI’s phone calls. That puts AFI in
good company — Trump also has said
he’ll skip December’s Kennedy Center
Honors and proposed eliminating
funding for the NEA and PBS — so AFI
CEO Bob Gazzale is not feeling too hurt.
While the student fest isn’t returning
to the White House this year, says
Gazzale, “We’re going to build something bigger now.”
3
2
1 From left: Jean Picker Firstenberg with Ronald and Nancy Reagan at AFI’s Preservation Ball in 1988. 2 Obama spoke
at AFI’s 2014 White House Student Film Festival. 3 George H.W. Bush at the institute’s 25th anniversary in 1989.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
110
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
TARANTINO: SETH PIERSON/COURTESY OF AFI. SPIELBERG, REAGAN, OBAMA, BUSH: COURTESY OF AFI.
SO M E
PR E S I D E NTS
LOVE AF I ,
SO M E DO N ’ T
Why did you choose Greystone Mansion as
the first site for the film studies center?
I believed the center should belong in Los
Angeles because we had the idea of a tutorial tradition where we would have the great
filmmakers pass on their knowledge to the
fellows, as we called the students. George
Seaton, the director, producer and writer,
was on the board at AFI, and his wife was
the mayor of Beverly Hills. Greystone was
on their hands, and after a series of negotiations, they provided it to us for $1 a year.
What was the inspiration for the Life
Achievement Award?
except for Alfred Hitchcock and Cecil B.
DeMille. You’d go to Rizzoli Bookstore
in New York, and there’d be one little shelf
of film books.
What was AFI’s first order of business?
Founding director George Stevens Jr.
recalls the early days — like how
Cary Grant turned down a planned
tribute because he wouldn’t do TV
B Y G R E G G K I L D AY
G
eorge Stevens Jr. — son of Giant
director George Stevens — was in
the Rose Garden the day Lyndon
B. Johnson established the National
Endowment for the Arts and, along with
it, the American Film Institute. Stevens,
now 85, went on to become its founding director, from 1967 to 1980, and set
up its first home in Greystone Mansion
in Beverly Hills (the campus moved to
Hollywood in 1981). Fifty years later, he
sits down with THR and remembers how
it all began and how far it has come.
How did the idea for AFI come about?
I had seen the first legislation for the
National Endowment for the Arts. It listed
theater, symphony, painting — with no
mention of motion pictures. So I wrote to
Senator Hubert Humphrey, whom I knew
and who was one of the major sponsors,
and made the case that motion pictures
was an indigenous art form. So he added
motion pictures. Film did not have the
stature in this country that it has today.
Nobody knew who directed movies
Film preservation. Very few people were
paying attention to the problems of
films being lost. In 1962 at Cannes, Henri
Langlois [head of the Cinematheque
Francaise], with his mop of gray hair, had
cornered me on the Croisette and gave
me a scolding about what was happening with American films. He told me John
Ford’s first feature, Straight Shooting, was
lost, and nothing remained of Greta Garbo
in The Divine Woman.
How did you go about setting up the
AFI Conservatory?
I went and looked at the Czech film
school, the Russian school, the Polish film
academy. Not that we were going to imitate them, but they were doing interesting
work. It was the time of Milos Forman,
Ivan Passer, Jan Kadar and all those
wonderful filmmakers. When I arrived in
Czechoslovakia, the Russian tanks were in
the street. It was a very tense time, to say
the least. One of the teachers, Frank Daniel,
was assigned to show me around, and we
got along very well. I asked him if he would
come and help set up the center. He said he
would, but he didn’t know if he could get out
of the country with his children. Working
with the State Department, we were able to
get him out. I think his was one of the last
families to get out.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
112
Ford, flanked by Richard Nixon (left) and Charlton
Heston, accepted his Life Achievement Award in 1973.
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
POITIER: COURTESY OF GEORGE STEVENS, JR. STEVENS, NIXON: COURTESY OF AFI.
How AFI Began:
‘So I Wrote to
Hubert Humphrey’
From left: AFI’s Roger Stevens, Stevens Jr., Gregory Peck
and Poitier in 1969 at Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills.
I had this idea to do an event at the Kennedy
Center where we would honor Cary Grant
and show clips from his films. I called
Cary, whom I knew slightly since he’d made
three films with my father, and we had
a wonderful conversation. So I told Bob
Wood, [president] at CBS, who offered to
broadcast it. But when I called Cary back
to get a date, he said, “Television? George, I
don’t do television.” So that idea was dead.
But a couple of years later, we’d made a
film called Directed by John Ford that Peter
Bogdanovich directed. John Ford was a
Republican, so I called Leonard Garment
at the [Nixon] White House and said we’d
like to honor John Ford at the Kennedy
Center. “Do you think the president would
like to be involved?” Well, nothing came
of it, but six months later, Garment called
back and said, “The president will come
to your event for John Ford on March 29
in Los Angeles.” I said, “But Leonard, we
were talking about the Kennedy Center.”
And he said, “The president will be in Los
Angeles.” So suddenly the idea became
a reality, and we passed a resolution in
February of ’73, and five weeks later, the
event happened. It was a real turning point
for AFI. It enabled us to raise money. The
second year, we honored James Cagney. It
was a fabulous night that Sinatra hosted,
and I believe the telecast got a 56 share on
CBS and absolutely put AFI on the map.
International
TV Producer
of the Year
From left: de Mol, Carson Daly and
Mark Burnett celebrated The Voice’s first
reality competition Emmy win in 2013.
R
eality TV
might be in
a tough spot
these days,
but the same
can’t be said
for the man
who helped
invent it. From his home base in
tiny Hilversum, Holland, Dutch
billionaire John de Mol, 62, CEO
of Talpa Media and creator of Big
Brother, Fear Factor and The Voice,
continues to show the world how
to play the nonscripted game.
After getting his start in media
as a teenager, editing highlights
of Dutch soccer matches for the
national public broadcaster,
de Mol founded Endemol in 1994.
He sold his stake in 2005 to launch
Talpa, which now has 180 formats on the air and estimates the
worldwide audience for its shows
at roughly 500 million. The Voice,
which just picked up its fourth
reality series Emmy in five years,
is the last global unscripted hit
left, with 65 local versions worldwide. De Mol recently secured
full control, in a $280 million
deal, of SBS Network Group,
which operates four free-to-air
channels in the Netherlands,
giving Talpa a platform for new
shows. His pact with British
giant ITV, which bought Talpa
for $530 million in 2015, could
net the divorced father of one
son up to $640 million more if
he stays at the company through
2020 and hits growth targets.
De Mol — whose estimated net
worth is $1.62 billion — spoke
with THR about keeping The Voice
fresh, why Holland is a great testing ground and the importance
of taking risks.
114
Reality
TV’s Great
Risk-Taker
JOHN DE MOL, CREATOR OF THE VOICE, BIG BROTHER AND
SHOWS THAT REACH 500 MILLION GLOBAL VIEWERS, IS
HUNGRY FOR MORE: ‘I AM WORKING DAY AND NIGHT TO
COME UP WITH THE NEXT BIG THING’ By Scott Roxborough
What are The Voice U.S.’ challenges
going into the new season?
De Mol, photographed in his
Talpa office in Hilversum,
Holland, says his initial plan
to slow down following
the ITV sale hasn’t worked
out: “I’m afraid my golf
handicap is back up to 36.”
We won our fourth Emmy this
year, and The Voice is still the
most successful nonscripted
show in the U.S. The objective is
the same: We are always focused
on keeping the show fresh, and
we’ll be carefully adding some
new elements to keep our audience engaged. But we are also
careful to not damage the basis
of the format. It’s an ongoing
process in which we always need
to ask ourselves, “Will this add
to the format or put the format
in danger?” I can’t tell you yet,
but we’ve worked on something
new in the auditions and the
button will be a highlight of that
new element.
What do you think about ABC’s
plans to reboot American Idol?
DE MOL: GREGOR SERVAIS/PHENSTER. DALY: FRANK TRAPPER/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES. SING!: COURTESY OF STAR CHINA.
I always say that there is room for
multiple singing competitions,
like there are a lot of game and
reality shows that have lived next
to each other for years. I personally think it will be a challenge to
get Idol back to the success it once
had. Idol is a strong brand in the
U.S., but it’s also an older brand.
You saw the ratings at Fox in the
last seasons, and for the network,
it was tough to keep the show
financially healthy as these shows
are expensive. But you never
know. In Holland, the network
tried a reboot of Idol, and it did
fairly well for the first episodes,
but ratings went down fast again
after that, and eventually the
reboot was not recommissioned.
Let’s see what happens.
Was there a battle to secure Kelly
Clarkson as a coach on The Voice?
American Idol was rumored to be
chasing her.
Kelly has been part of The Voice
family as an adviser to the
coaches in the battle rounds. We
love her, and she is extremely
funny and cares about the artists
on the show and the process.
We always wanted to have her
in one of the red chairs, and this
time we could make the dates
work and got her on. I can’t wait
to see Kelly and Blake [Shelton]
in one season. For the first
time, Blake will have some real
country music competition. It’ll
be interesting.
There hasn’t been a new “home
run” in reality TV — a truly global
hit — since The Voice launched in
2010. What do you attribute that to?
Creating a global hit these days
is a bigger challenge than ever due
to the decline in linear watching
and the huge variety in watching content online anywhere and
in any way. We should look at
what defines a hit. There are so
many options for people to watch
specific content at different times
that I feel the next-day ratings
will never be what they were, so a
ratings number to define “a hit” is
much harder.
Finding the new hit is also a
matter of trying out new shows
and not being scared to fail.
When I created Big Brother, every
network rejected the show, and
it was the same story for The Voice.
I needed to financially invest and
take a huge personal financial risk
to get them on air. That is risky,
but it seems to be what it takes
to get that big hit show. You need
to be willing to take a chance on
a new format that is not more of
the same, and when you believe in
it, you need to keep going to get it
on air.
I just got 100 percent ownership of the SBS Network Group in
Holland, where we operate four
linear networks. I have decided
to give American producers,
HOW DE MOL CRACKED CHINA’S
TV MARKET — THEN DIDN’T
The Chinese version of The Voice was a massive hit until a similar
show popped up and regulators shut down foreign programming
T
alpa was one of the
first Western companies to crack
the Chinese market. On
July 13, 2012, The Voice
of China, a local-language version of Talpa’s
iconic spinning-chairs
singing competition
show, launched on satellite network Zhejiang
Television and was an
instant success, drawing
upward of 120 million
TV viewers and some
400 million online.
The show’s status
only grew from there.
By season four, which
aired in 2015, The
Voice topped the ratings virtually every
week. The season
finale was watched
by nearly a third of all
TV households in the
country of 1.2 billion
people. Buoyed by the
success, Talpa lined
up multiple deals for
the Middle Kingdom,
including with internet
giant Tencent, to
produce an online-only
version of the Dutch
group’s social experiment format Utopia,
renamed The 15 of Us
for China.
Then Talpa ran into
the roadblocks familiar
to any foreign company
working with China:
those of government
regulation and copyright theft. The alleged
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
115
Star China produced four seasons of The Voice before
launching the comparable Sing My Song, above.
theft came from Star
China, the local group
that produced four
seasons of The Voice of
China but then launched
its own, strikingly similar
competition format
Sing My Song. Talpa
sued and signed a new
deal with media group
Zhejiang Tangde to
produce seasons five
to eight of The Voice
of China and to
develop and produce
some 200 new shows
for the market. But
before anything could
happen, the government
cracked down, effectively banning imported
television formats in
favor of “domestically
invented TV programs
that convey the Chinese
dream — core socialist values, patriotism
and Chinese traditions.”
“We’ve been a forerunner in the Chinese
industry, and I think our
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
experiences have been
very positive, but if
you look at the current
situation, not just for
us but for all international players, you see
that the current developments have quite an
impact on our business,”
says Maarten Meijs,
managing director of
Talpa Global. “[Beijing]
has essentially closed
down the domestic market for foreign formats.”
Despite the setbacks, Meijs remains
optimistic about the
Chinese market and
Talpa’s place in it. “We
aren’t turning our backs
on China,” he says.
“It’s a difficult market,
but you can’t afford to
ignore it. We’ll find a
way to work with China,
to find a way to adapt
and produce for the
market without running
afoul of the regulations.” — S.R.
International
TV Producer
of the Year
Several Talpa shows such as I Love
My Country do very well in Europe
but haven’t cracked the U.S. What
makes the U.S. market different
from, say, Europe?
I always say, a great format works
everywhere — look at The Voice
and Big Brother. They literally
run on every single network in
the world and have been successful in both Europe and the U.S. I
am mainly focused on developing these global hits, and if done
right, they tend to work everywhere. In Europe, nonscripted
is the bigger part of any network’s
programming, so there is much
more shelf space and more room
to experiment. Some formats
that are considered primetime
in Europe are considered “too
soft” for American primetime.
However, you slowly see the landscape changing, and I hope some
nonlinear players and also networks will start experimenting
De Mol, circa June 2000, on the Studio City
set of the first season of Big Brother.
Talpa Reaches for the
Gold Ring of Unscripted TV
DE MOL’S NEW TRIVIA SERIES HOPES TO BREAK
THE CURSE OF INTERACTIVE GAME SHOWS
W
ith 5 Gold Rings, Talpa thinks it may have
cracked the toughest nut in reality TV: the
interactive format.
Every major player in the nonscripted space has been
trying to make reality TV interactive, to stitch together
the AARP-heavy live TV audiences with millennialfriendly multiscreen viewers. Everyone, so far, has failed.
(Remember ABC’s short-lived Rising Star? Didn’t think so.)
5 Gold Rings is Talpa’s big interactive play. The trivia
show, in which contestants place gold rings over their
answers on a giant LED screen while viewers play along at
home on their phones, has just been renewed for a second
season on Britain’s ITV and is also on the air in France
and the Netherlands.
with these kinds of shows that
run well in Europe but haven’t
had that same success in the U.S.
— yet. I think with big names
now wanting to host primetime
nonscripted shows, like Steve
Harvey and Ellen DeGeneres, we
are closer to making these kinds
of European hit shows work in
the U.S. They need big talent to
work, and I feel the time is now to
try them out. A show like I Love
My Country has traveled the world
and has seen similar success to
The Voice, just not in the U.S. yet.
What shows do you have in
development now? Where do you
see the new trends?
Brother, Fear Factor, The
business model —
Voice and Deal or No
which tends to be a
Top 5 Talpa
Deal, and I am deterbuy-out model with
Formats
mined to add at least
no future upside for
Worldwide
one, preferably two, to
producers?
Current shows’
that list of global hits.
global markets
A global hit show on
The Voice
I’m still hungry — I
linear television is
want that fifth Emmy
still the most lucrafor The Voice, I want
tive option in terms
my first Emmy for
of financial revenue
The Voice Kids
another show, and I
in the long term. I
want to create a new
think the business
format that everyone
model of nonlinear
I Love My Country
stays home to watch.
is still in an ongoing
… For sure the next
development phase;
big thing will not
we’ll see where it
Dating in the Dark
look like the last big
ends up. For the nonthing: It has to be
linear platforms, I feel
original and it has to
it would be great to
Divided
rise above anything
do a main show that’s
else that has been
English language and
done. Something that
have spinoff versions
Total worldwide
you simply cannot
that are local and have
audience for Talpa
shows currently
miss because everya local language, host
on air
one will talk about it
and contestants. I
the next day. And this
think that will become
involves taking risks,
very interesting for
which is something
the platform — as I
not all broadcasters are prepared
feel it would add subscriptions —
to do but is something crucial.
and it will be interesting for us as
producers in terms of financial
upside. In general, there have
When we last spoke two years
never been this many outlets that
ago, you correctly predicted that
need clever content, so as a prostreamers like Netflix and Amazon
ducer of formatted content, it’s a
Prime would begin investing in
great period to be developing fornonscripted programming. What’s
mats and producing shows.
your opinion on the streamers’
67
37
33
25
I always focus on heavily formatted concepts. Over the years, the
biggest successes have been social
experiments, game shows, dating
shows, dance and music competitions, and weight-loss shows. With
my team, I am working day and
night to come up with the next
big thing in these areas. When I
created The Voice, everyone said,
“You’re crazy. There is no room for
a new singing competition.” We
proved our critics wrong. And I
know I will do that again in one of
these spaces. It’s just a matter of
time. I have been fortunate to create four of the top 10 nonscripted
shows in the world with Big
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
“We really focused on embedding interactivity in the
initial phase of the content process, so it doesn’t come as
an afterthought but is truly integrated and feels natural,”
says Maarten Meijs, managing director of Talpa Global.
“There needs to be a level of interactivity and connectivity
to reach our viewers where they are.”
It’s still too early to say whether 5 Gold Rings will be
the interactive breakout the market has been waiting for.
Compared to Talpa juggernauts like The Voice, it is still a
minnow, sold to just a handful of territories. NBC commissioned a U.S. pilot of the format but passed on the series,
and Talpa is currently rethinking its American strategy.
“It’s a very technical show, and we are attempting
to have the exact same game on mobile devices as we
have on live TV,” says de Mol. “The challenge is to get
the viewer to download the app and play along, but the
penetration [for the U.K. version] was very high and
will hopefully grow in season two.”
Interactive or not, Talpa is betting big on a game show
revival at this year’s MIPCOM, with an array of formats,
including The Big Picture, Divided and What Do I Know?,
tapping into a new vogue for the genre (think ABC’s
revivals of Match Game and Pyramid).
“You see that this genre, one of the oldest genres
on television, is coming back,” says Meijs. “The challenge
is always to be original, to add interactive technology
components when they make sense and, most of all, to
take risks.” — S.R.
116
20
500M
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
RINGS: XANDER MOUTHAAN/COURTESY OF ITV. BROTHER: LUIS SINCO/LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES.
and other producers
around the world, a
chance at fast access
to broadcast on my
networks in Holland. I think
some ideas in the U.S. don’t come
to fruition because there is limited shelf space at the networks,
or because the formats seem too
risky for buyers. I am willing
to take these risks, as they have
paid off for me, so I am seeing if
we can bring some of these great
ideas from American producers
and established production companies to my networks in Europe.
We’ll help them get the next big
thing on air. Holland has been the
premiere territory for global hit
shows such as Big Brother, Deal or
No Deal, Fear Factor and The Voice
as it’s proved itself to be a fantastic breeding ground for creativity.
P R O M OT I O N
1
2
3
O
n , S e pt. 14, T h e H o lly wo o d Re p o r te r a n d
SAG-AF T R A invite d th e te levisio n in dus tr y’s
e l i te to r a i s e a g l a s s i n c e l e b ra t i o n of t h i s ye a r’s
E m my Aw a rd c o n te n d e r s a t t h e i r E m my N o m i n e e s
N ig h t eve n t. P re s e n te d by A m e r i c a n A ir lin e s ,
B re g u et , a n d D a c o r, t h e g a t h e r in g s e r ve d a s t h e
4
f ir s t re d c a r p et eve n t h e l d a t t h e J e a n- G e o rge s a t
th e Wa l d o r f A s to r ia B eve r l y H ills . T h ro u g h o u t th e
eve n in g, g u e s t s e n j oye d c u s to m c o c k t a ils a n d
s a m p l e d J e a n- G e o rge s’ si g n a tu re d ish e s w h il e
e n j oy i n g m u si c p rov i d e d by DJ M y l e s H e n d r i k .
5
7
6
8
9
10
1. From left: Natalia Dyer, Joe Keery, Finn Wolfhard
and Gaten Matarazzo enjoyed a Stranger Things reunion
inside the event. 2. This Is Us star Chrissy Metz arriving
at the fete. 3. Carly Hughes (left) and Jennifer Neetles
were all smiles in the photo booth, presented by American
Airlines. 4. From left: Ryan Michelle Bathe, Sterling K.
Brown, Brian Tyree Henry and Shanola Hampton shared
a laugh. 5. Breguet illuminated Nominees Night with its
branded vitrines and luxury timepieces. 6. Moms star
Allison Janney and SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris.
7. Westworld’s Leonardo Nam leaving some “words of
wisdom” on SAG-AFTRA’s signing wall. 8. Dacor was at the
center of the excitement thanks to its sponsorship of both
event bars, custom Cocktail Ice from the Modernist column
freezer, branded cocktail napkins, logo inclusion on cocktail
menus, and a custom refrigerator installation 9. Guests
enjoyed signature dishes from the renowned Jean-Georges.
10. THR and SAG-AFTRA’s Nominees Night event, held in
the Jean-Georges in the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.
Join us
O C TO B E R 2 0 , 2 017 at the BEVERLY HILTON HOT E L
6:00PM COCKTAIL RECEPTION & SILENT AUCTION + 7:30PM DINNER & AWARDS PRESENTATION
H O NO R IN G
H OST E D BY
T R AVI S VAN WI N KLE
BIG BROTHER | TNT’S THE LAST SHIP
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NETFLIX
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RITA TUZON
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Reviews
Film
Blade Runner 2049
A fantastically fierce Harrison Ford joins Ryan Gosling in Denis Villeneuve’s
stylish but bloated sequel to the Ridley Scott sci-fi classic By Todd McCarthy
OPENS
Friday, Oct. 6
(Warner Bros.)
CAST
Ryan Gosling,
Harrison Ford,
Ana de Armas,
Sylvia Hoeks,
Robin Wright,
Mackenzie Davis,
Carla Juri,
Lennie James,
Dave Bautista,
Jared Leto
DIRECTOR
STEPHEN VAUGHAN/ALCON ENTERTAINMENT
Denis Villeneuve
Rated R, 164 minutes
For fans who have been waiting
35 years for a sequel to Ridley
Scott’s mesmerizing sci-fi landmark Blade Runner, the good news
is that director Denis Villeneuve
achieves something close to
the same narcotic effect in Blade
Runner 2049, with a voluptuous
mood bath sustained from beginning to end. The problem is that
164 minutes occupy the distance
between that beginning and
end, another example of directorial excess where self-discipline
would have been a benefit (the
release version of the original ran
118 minutes).
The French-Canadian
Villeneuve has developed —
through Prisoners, Sicario and
Arrival — into one of the more
formally expressive directors
now working on big Hollywood
films; his elegant, often portentous style suggested him
as an excellent match for this
second cinematic go-round
with Philip K. Dick’s postapocalyptic noir featuring detective
Rick Deckard.
The opening few minutes offer
immediate assurance of being
in good hands. California by 2049
has turned far more toxic and
congested than it was in the 2019
envisioned by the first film in
1982. Ravishing images reveal a
thick, smoky atmosphere through
which you can barely see; population density in the vast expanses
of Los Angeles makes modern Sao
Paulo look like a ghost town; and
atmospheric cooling, not warming, has asserted itself, to the
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
121
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
↑ Gosling is
an L.A. cop
looking for
renegade
old-school
“replicants”
that have
been
replaced
by more
obedient
new models.
point where snowfall in Southern
California is not uncommon.
The original script’s co-author,
Hampton Fancher, along with
new co-writer Michael Green
(Logan, Alien: Covenant) go light
on exposition, no doubt succumbing to the director’s own
inclination to follow Sir Ridley’s
template in emphasizing visual
impression over explanation.
LAPD Officer “K” (Ryan Gosling)
is on the hunt for renegade oldstyle Nexus 8 replicants, which
have been “retired” and replaced
by the more docile Nexus 9 series.
K, who has a Nexus 9 girlfriend
named Joi (Ana de Armas), is a
man of few words in a world where
the richest and most powerful figure is the blind Niander Wallace
(Jared Leto), who made his fortune
creating civilization-saving
genetically modified food and is
now the force behind the Nexus 9.
There are rumors of a pregnant
replicant, which K’s boss, police
lieutenant Joshi (Robin Wright),
denies is true, and we meet Luv
(Sylvia Hoeks), an attack dog
in the guise of a very tough chick
who works for Wallace. There’s
welcome time spent on the dark
streets of L.A. — moments that
expand evocatively upon similar
scenes in the original, thanks to
fine work by production designer
Dennis Gassner. And it’s all
masterfully captured by cinematographer Roger A. Deakins with
one brilliant through-a-lensdarkly composition after another.
Still, after about an hour, you
begin to wonder where the movie
is going and how long it’ll take
to get there. In stories with complex narratives, epic scope and/
or plentiful engaging characters,
long running times are welcome;
otherwise, if a filmmaker doesn’t
→ Ford reprises his role as Rick Deckard,
a former “Blade Runner” who has been
missing for more than 30 years.
keep his or her eyes on the clock,
the viewer may do so instead.
Around the 90-minute mark,
with K’s arrest, matters become
muddled and confusing, and
another issue presents itself: What
Blade Runner 2049 lacks compared
to its progenitor is the shock of
the new, which is perhaps the
main factor that made the original so resonant. What 2049
eventually offers in its place is the
shock of the old: the re-emergence
of Harrison Ford as Deckard.
Having disappeared and eluded
authorities for decades, this old
cop — who supposedly has the
solution to creating more replicants, which Wallace so desires
— makes it clear to the young
cop that he’s none too pleased to
have been found. Grizzled and
ferocious, Ford’s Deckard ups the
ante, as the action star delivers
a ragingly physical performance
that bursts through the film’s
exquisite languor. As a contrast to
Gosling’s deliberately deadened
turn, Ford energizes a movie that’s
otherwise intentionally drained of
character vitality.
Hoeks supplies her character
with some unexpected emotional
shading, but no replicant warriors
in Blade Runner 2049 can measure up to those played by Rutger
Hauer and Daryl Hannah in the
first movie. Among the other
players, Leto achieves the desired
weirdness level, while Wright is
all business as a top cop.
All manner of superlatives will
deservedly be bestowed upon the
fabulous design and tech hands
who contributed to the film’s spectacular look. And though there
was displeasure among fans
when news leaked that the original score by Johan Johannson
was being replaced by music
from the more conventional
team of Benjamin Wallfisch and
Hans Zimmer, the pair’s work
here is in a more experimental
mode than is customary from
the Zimmer factory — and is
extremely effective.
Reviews
White Famous
BLADE: STEPHEN VAUGHAN/ALCON ENTERTAINMENT. FAMOUS: MICHAEL DESMOND/SHOWTIME. CLARKE: @EMILIA_CLARKE/
INSTAGRAM. DUNHAM: ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY IMAGES. ORTEGA: STEVE GRANITZ/WIREIMAGE. KIMMEL: JB LACROIX/WIREIMAGE.
Jay Pharoah impresses in Showtime’s
comedy about a rising black comic, but the
series suffers from staleness By Daniel J. Fienberg
Watchable thanks to a charismatic lead turn by Jay
Pharoah, Showtime’s White Famous feels like a relic of the
TV landscape three years ago, before series like Atlanta,
Master of None and Better Things redefined the making-itin-entertainment small-screen comedy subgenre.
In those shows, creator-director-stars funnel familiar
stories through a uniquely personal perspective; in this
one, co-creator Tom Kapinos (Californication), producer
Jamie Foxx and recurring director Tim Story (Ride Along)
struggle to make things feel fresh.
Pharoah is Floyd, a SoCal stand-up comic content with
a level of fame one character describes as “east of the 10,
south of Crenshaw.” The alternative is to become “white
famous,” which Floyd’s agent Malcolm (Utkarsh Ambudkar)
explains as the ability to transcend color in the comedy
world, as Eddie Murphy and a handful of others have. But
compromises need to be made, and Floyd is opposed to
compromises. Meanwhile, he’s trying to be a good father
to son Trevor (Lonnie Chavis), who lives with Floyd’s exwith-benefits Sadie (Cleopatra Coleman, so good you wish
she had a real part). And Floyd still loves Sadie.
The first two episodes are so sitcom-conventional that
they feel conspicuously like NBC’s Marlon. Pharoah, underutilized for six seasons on Saturday Night Live, displays
shades of a young Murphy in his energy and comfort as
a romantic lead, but the character is lacking in depth. In
fact, White Famous only sometimes feels authentically like
Floyd’s story at all — which I think one would recognize
even without knowing the opening episodes were written by a 40-something white guy. Floyd’s battle to retain
his voice in an industry unequipped to nurture him feels
dated, as do gags like his being mistaken for the valet
as he leaves a restaurant. Even in that scene, the emphasis is the discomfort this causes for a white producer
(Stephen Tobolowsky) rather than what it means to Floyd.
Floyd also gets upstaged in the pilot by Foxx, playing
himself in a cameo lifted from
AIRDATE 10 p.m. Sunday,
the raunch-for-raunch’s-sake
Oct. 15 (Showtime)
Californication playbook. Like the
CAST Jay Pharoah,
Utkarsh Ambudkar, Jacob
rest of the show, reportedly based
Ming-Trent, Lonnie Chavis,
on Foxx’s own experiences in
Cleopatra Coleman
Hollywood, those scenes may
CREATORS Tom Kapinos,
amuse, but they reveal little about
Chris Spencer
the Oscar winner’s journey.
and Buddy Lewis
Film & Television
THR’S SOCIAL CLIMBERS
A ranking of the week’s top actors, comedians
and personalities based on social media engagement
across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and more
This
Week
Last
Week
Last
Week
Comedians
1
←
→ I
1
I
Dwayne Johnson
1
←
→ I
1
I
Kevin Hart
2
↑ I
8
I
Vin Diesel
2
←
→ I
2
I
D.L. Hughley
3
↑ I
13
I
Priyanka Chopra
3
↑ I
-
I
Jeff Dunham
4
↑ I
5
I
Jennifer Lopez
5
↑ I
-
I
Emilia Clarke
Clarke’s rise to No. 5 comes
following a photo she took
of her newly dyed blond
hair, allowing her to look
almost exactly like her
Game of Thrones character,
Daenerys Targaryen, for
which she often wears a wig.
She was up 713 percent in
Instagram favorites.
The comedian and
ventriloquist, up
387 percent in all social
conversation, received
a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame on Sept. 21
and appeared on the finale
of America’s Got Talent,
performing with eventual
winner Darci Lynne Farmer.
4
←
→ I
4
I
Joe Rogan
5
↓ I
3
I
Marlon Wayans
6
↓ I
3
I
Kevin Hart
6
↑ I
8
I
Bill Maher
7
↑ I
-
I
Deepika Padukone
7
↑ I
-
I
George Lopez
8
↓ I
4
I
Shay Mitchell
8
↓ I
6
I
Mike Epps
9
↑ I
20
I
Vanessa Hudgens
9
↑ I
-
I
Ricky Gervais
10
←
→ I
10
I
Lily Collins
10
↑ I
-
I
Kumail Nanjiani
11
↑ I
-
I
Jared Leto
12
↑ I
-
I
Leonardo DiCaprio
13
↑ I
-
I
Ashley Benson
14
↑ I
-
I
Norman Reedus
15
↑ I
-
I
Jenna Ortega
The 15-year-old Disney
Channel actress was up
221 percent in Twitter
likes and 410 percent in
Instagram favorites, mostly
due to photos of her trip
to New York with Musical.ly
star-singer Jacob Sartorius,
sparking dating rumors
among their fans.
16
↑ I
18
I
Cara Delevingne
17
↓ I
6
I
Zendaya
18
↓ I
12
I
Sabrina Carpenter
19
↓ I
11
I
Gal Gadot
20
↑ I
-
I
Holland Roden
21
↓ I
2
I
Nina Dobrev
22
↑ I
-
I
Mark Hamill
23
↑ I
-
I
Michael Rapaport
24
↑ I
-
I
Hugh Jackman
25
↓ I
9
I
Rowan Atkinson
↑ Pharoah (right) is a comic trying to boost his profile, and Steve Zissis a director he meets.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
This
Week
Actors
123
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
This
Week
1
↑ I
Last
Week
-
TV Personalities
I
Jimmy Kimmel
The death of the
Graham-Cassidy health care
bill in the U.S. Senate was
celebrated by the TV host,
who had declared his
opposition to the bill on his
show and on social media.
It led to a 2,083 percent
jump in social engagement,
helping him to his first No. 1.
2
↑ I
7
I
Chris Hayes
3
↑ I
4
I
Jimmy Fallon
4
↓ I
2
I
Joanna Gaines
5
↓ I
1
I
Tyra Banks
6
←
→ I
6
I
Stephen Colbert
7
↑ I
8
I
Bill Maher
8
↓ I
3
I
Gordon Ramsay
9
↓ I
5
I
Trevor Noah
10
↑ I
-
I
Jeremy Clarkson
Data Compiled By
Source: The week’s most active and talked-about entertainers on
leading social networking sites Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram,
Twitter and YouTube for the week ending Sept. 26. Rankings are based
on a formula blending weekly additions of fans as well as cumulative
weekly reactions and conversations, as tracked by MVP Index.
In Celebration of AFI’s 50th Anniversary!
“Documented here by the people who
lived it, this is a remarkable tale of
how a major institution, created out
of whole cloth, wove itself into the
American fabric.”
—COKIE ROBERTS, author and
political commentator for ABC and NPR
Becoming AFI
50 Years Inside the
American Film Institute
by JEAN PICKER FIRSTENBERG
and JAMES HINDMAN
“The AFI started out as an experiment
verging on a mystery. But somehow it
became an incubator for some of the
great film talent of the late part of the
twentieth century and the beginning of
the twenty-first. This is a tribute to the
dedication and insight of its leaders
and its faculty and its Fellows.”
—CALEB DESCHANEL, filmmaker
(AFI class of 1969)
Foreword by DANA GIOIA
Preface by PATTY JENKINS
Afterword by DAVID LYNCH
“This book puts you directly
behind the scenes for a
story that began with a
dream, overcame constant
challenges, and evolved into
the institution it is today.”
—STEVEN SPIELBERG
www.santamonicapress.com
Hardcover $27.95 • 9781595800947
UPCOMING AUTHOR EVENTS
10.21.17 Museum of the
Moving Image,
Astoria, Queens, NY
10.26.17 WritersBloc,
Los Angeles, CA
11.11.17 AFI Fest, Los Angeles, CA
11.13.17 AFI Silver Theatre
and Cultural Center,
Silver Spring, MD
Isabelle Huppert
FREE TALKS
Photo by Sean DiSerio
Greta Gerwig
Photo by Daniel Rodriguez
Noah Baumbach
Photo by GODLIS
Photo by GODLIS
NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL
Agnès Varda
SPONSORED BY
FEATURING DIRECTORS AND STARS FROM THIS YEAR’S LINEUP
FRIDAY, SEP 29
7:00 Ruben Östlund, The Square
8:00 VR and the Future of Virtual
Production by Lucasfilm
MONDAY, OCT 2
6:00 Directors Dialogues: Agnès
Varda & JR, Faces Places
7:00 Noah Baumbach, The
Meyerowitz Stories (New and
Selected)
8:00 NYFF Shorts Filmmakers
FRIDAY, OCT 6
7:00 Documenting Creativity:
Griffin Dunne, Rebecca Miller,
Susan Lacy, Myles Kane, and
Josh Koury
SATURDAY, SEP 30
SATURDAY, OCT 7
7:00 Gamescape: The Revenge of
7:00 Film Comment Live: Filmmakers
Full Motion Video
Chat with Claire Denis, Joachim
TUESDAY, OCT 3
8:00 IndieWire Screen Talk LIVE
Trier & more
podcast recording with Eric Kohn 7:00 Making The Florida Project: Sean
Baker & Chris Bergoch
& Anne Thompson
SUNDAY, OCT 8
7:00 Vanessa Redgrave,
WEDNESDAY, OCT 4
SUNDAY, OCT 1
Sea Sorrow
7:00 Making Call Me by Your Name:
3:00 Directors Dialogues: Lucrecia
Luca Guadagnino, Armie
Martel, Zama
MONDAY, OCT 9
Hammer & Michael Stuhlbarg
7:00 Film Comment Live: The
7:00 Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Cinema of Experience with
8:00 Directors Dialogues:
THURSDAY, OCT 5
Nicolas Rapold, Ashley Clark,
Hong Sang-soo, The Day After
7:00 Spotlight on Documentary
Farihah Zaman & Teo Bugbee
& On the Beach at Night Alone
Filmmakers
8:00 Making Mrs. Hyde: Serge Bozon
& Isabelle Huppert
TUESDAY, OCT 10
7:00 Field of Vision Presents with
Charlotte Cook, Marshall Curry,
Josh Begley, Farihah Zaman &
Jeff Reichert
8:00 Directors Dialogues: Philippe
Garrel, Lover for a Day
WEDNESDAY, OCT 11
7:00 Keeping Cultural Borders Open:
Laurie Anderson & guests
Presented with The Federation
THURSDAY, OCT 12
7:00 Real Characters: Writing Biopics
and Origin Stories
Presented with WGAE
FRIDAY, OCT 13
7:00 Film Comment Live:
Festival Wrap
8:00 Access New Audiences:
Wonderstruck & The Blind Boys
of Alabama
Presented with NYWIFT
SEPTEMBER 28–OCTOBER 15
OFFICIAL
.
FILMLINC.ORG/NYFF
B E N E FAC TO R
MEDIA
H O S P I TA L I T Y
These projects are supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Backlot
Innovators, Events, Honors
Women of
International
TV
Meet the Most Powerful Women
in Global Television 25 female execs
from around the world are rewriting the
rules of how people watch TV By Scott Roxborough
GUTHRIE: COURTESY OF SUBJECT. RAFATI: PETER HOLST.
W
omen ruled at this year’s Emmy Awards as the femalefocused storylines of The Handmaid’s Tale, Veep and Big Little
Lies dominated TV’s biggest night. And even in the real
world, outside the Television Academy and outside the U.S., opportunities for women in television have never looked better.
“It’s a great time for women to be entering the business, whether
onscreen or off of it,” says Cecile Frot-Coutaz, CEO of London-based
production giant FremantleMedia Group. But in many parts of the
world, says African television pioneer Mosunmola “Mo” Abudu, the
power of the patriarchy is still very much in force. “Bottom line,
women have to work twice as hard for the same recognition as their
male counterparts,” she says.
The women on THR’s annual list of the world’s most power female
television execs share their insights on the global landscape — “There
are increasingly varied and interesting representations of women on
TV who reflect and create new realities,” says BBC America’s Sarah
Barnett — and their advice for future generations of women who want
to make their mark on it.
AUSTRALIA
CANADA
MICHELLE GUTHRIE
Managing director,
Australia
Broadcasting Corp.
As the first female
boss of Australia’s national
broadcaster — and the first
from a non-English-speaking
background (her parents are
Australian-Chinese), Guthrie
has made on-air diversity her
mantra. Aiming to make ABC
“look and sound like Australia,”
she has introduced a “diversity
tracker” that keeps tabs on the
gender, ethnicity and regional
Illustration by Tim Peacock
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
and social demographics of the
faces onscreen. “The ABC is at an
important moment in its history,”
she told a crowd at the University
of Melbourne. “The challenges
we face as an industry have the
potential to change the way the
ABC engages with its audience and
how it remains relevant for the
next generation.”
127
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
SHAHRZAD RAFATI
CEO,
BroadbandTV Corp.
BBTV, which Rafati
founded in 2005 and
which now is the world’s largest multiplatform network, has
shifted its business model multiple times to keep up with the
transformation of the industry. “I
realized that you have to remain
nimble and use data and technology to make informed decisions
quickly,” she says. And, unlike
male-dominated Silicon Valley,
Backlot
Women of
International
TV
is not only a matter of talent but
very much a matter of hard work
and dedication.”
they think it is interesting or
easy to get famous and have an
easy lifestyle. It’s not. Young
women need to have the attitude
of a researcher, an explorer.”
DELPHINE ERNOTTE
CUNCI
Heather McQuarrie to adapt
multiple scripted drama projects for Gaumont. Trussell sees
the golden age of TV as a unique
opportunity for female talent:
“There is more content than
ever, and while this may make it
hard to find an audience, it more
importantly gives women more
opportunity to create content.”
President and CEO,
France Televisions
GERMANY
CHINA
FRANCE
REN JING
Director of business
development,
Dragon TV
After starting in the
business as a journalist, Ren has
launched some of China’s most
successful reality shows, including China’s Got Talent and the
hit variety format Go Fighting.
Even now, Ren says her goal is to
“make shows that really express
love and are socially relevant” as
well as commercially successful.
HUANG LAN
Producer,
The First Half of My
Life, If You Are the
One, Tiger Mom
Huang arguably is the busiest TV
producer in China, coming off
the success of serial drama The
First Half of My Life, a ratings and
online megahit that, in a first
for conservative China, focused
on a housewife who, following a messy divorce, becomes a
successful career woman. Fox
Networks Group has snatched up
the show for broadcast in the rest
of Asia. Says Huang: “A lot of people enter this industry because
ANKE
SCHAFERKORDT
Cumberbatch stars in Studiocanal’s production of The Child in Time.
Since taking the
reins of France Televisions in
2015, the former Orange executive has shaken things up at the
channel: Ernotte Cunci dismissed longtime nightly news
anchor David Pujadas and
replaced him with former talk
show host Anne-Sophie Lapix in
an effort to transform the face
of the network. Ernotte Cunci
also launched the France.tv
freemium SVOD platform that
will showcase the channels’
programs and partner with nine
French producers, including
Lagardere Studios, Newen and
Banijay, to create content. She
notes, “When I see that Netflix
is investing $7 billion a year in
creation on a global scale, we
must greatly strengthen our
investments in French fiction,
documentary or animation.”
ROLA BAUER
Managing director,
Studiocanal
As head of U.S.
television operations at French giant Studiocanal
and boss of SC’s European
co-production division, Canadaborn and Munich- and L.A.-based
producer Bauer oversees some
high-profile new productions,
including Benedict Cumberbatch
starrer The Child in Time, which
Studiocanal partner SunnyMarch
is producing for the BBC and
Masterpiece, and Brazza, a Congoset drama that Bauer’s German
group Tandem Productions is
developing with Havas Media’s
Save Ferris Entertainment and
Idris Elba’s Green Door Pictures.
ASTRID QUENTELL
Managing director/
senior vp international
production,
Sony Germany
CAROL TRUSSELL
Senior vp production,
Gaumont TV U.S.
It has been a busy
year for the U.S. division of French film and TV giant
Gaumont with the return of the
hit Colombian drug series Narcos
on Netflix; the season three
renewal of Bill Burr ’s animated
comedy series F Is for Family on
the streamer; and a series of
headline-catching development
deals, including a first-look with
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
director Christopher McQuarrie
and his producing partner
Running the production side of
Sony’s German television operations, Quentell has helped turn
the studio outlet into one of the
largest and most respected producers of small-screen content
in Europe’s No. 1 TV territory.
Sony’s The Teacher has been a
critical and commercial hit for
leading network RTL, which
recently commissioned a sixth
season of the school-set dramedy, and the launch of Lion’s Den.
Says Quentell, “Being successful
← The Gaumont TV-produced animated comedy F Is for Family airs on Netflix.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
128
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
CEO, Mediengruppe
RTL Deutschland
European TV’s uber
manager Schaferkordt surprised
many in the industry this year
when she resigned her post as
co-CEO of RTL Group, the continent’s largest broadcaster, to
focus her efforts on transforming RTL’s core German free-TV
business. German operations still
are solid — revenue of $434 million in the first half of 2017 was on
par with 2016’s results — but the
commercial network faces major
challenges as it shifts its traditional ad-funded model to adjust
to an increasingly fragmented and
on-demand audience.
INDIA
MYLEETA AGA
Senior vp/GM, India,
BBC Worldwide;
Senior vp/GM,
Southeast Asia and
India, BBC Worldwide
Aga cut her teeth on U.S. TV — her
work as an executive producer on
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
for Travel Channel earned her
a pair of Emmy noms — before
joining BBC Worldwide’s India
office in 2009 to spearhead the
network’s move into local productions. Her successes include the
shiny floor hit Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa
(based on BBC’s Strictly Come
Dancing), now in its 10th season.
“Work hard, with integrity and
passion” is her advice to women
trying to make it in the industry.
LATIN AMERICA
ANGELICA GUERRA
Senior vp/managing
director of production,
Latin America
and U.S. Hispanic,
Sony Pictures Television
Guerra’s recent successes include
Blue Demon, a 65-episode drama
JING, LAN, TRUSSELL, QUENTELL, AGA, SCHAFERKORDT: COURTESY OF SUBJECT. FAMILY: COURTESY OF NETFLIX. CHILD: COURTESY OF PINEWOOD TELEVISION/SUNNYMARCH TV/MASTERPIECE FOR BBC/MASTERPIECE. CUNCI: LAURENT VITEUR/GETTY IMAGES.
Rafati has done her part to close
the tech gender gap. “As a woman
and as a leader, I wanted to make
sure that we practice equal pay
for equal work. It gives me great
pride to say that the disparity
in pay across our male and female
employees is less than 2 percent,
and 43 percent of our employees
are now females.”
Backlot
Women of
International
TV
NIGERIA
MOSUNMOLA “MO”
ABUDU
Founder and CEO,
EbonyLife TV
Abudu has been at
the forefront of media innovation
on the continent since transitioning from a career in human
resources at oil giant Exxon Mobil
to hosting a talk show to, in 2006,
launching her own global network, EbonyLife TV (the largest
pan-African network is available
in about 50 countries). Her media
empire now extends to movies —
in 2016, EbonyLife’s film division
co-produced Nollywood romcom The Wedding Party, which
smashed local box-office records,
taking in more than $1.3 million at the Nigerian box office.
Her goal for the coming year: “To
successfully produce Africa’s first
sci-fi TV series.”
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
MARYAM EID
ALMHEIRI
CEO, twofour54
At the beating heart
of the TV hub that
has emerged in Abu Dhabi over
the past decade is twofour54,
the United Arab Emirates’
government-owned media zone
that’s home to local bases for the
likes of CNN, Cartoon Network,
Fox Channels, Nat Geo and Sky
News. And at the top, overseeing the explosive growth of the
local industry, sits AlMheiri, who
replaced Noura Al Kaabi after
she was upped to chairperson
this year.
UNITED KINGDOM
ANNE MENSAH
Head of drama, Sky
Mensah has overseen
a drama renaissance at British pay
TV network Sky with series like
Riviera, starring Julia Stiles, and
cop thriller Tin Star, featuring
Tim Roth and Christina Hendricks,
smashing ratings records for the
channel. “The confidence these
shows have given our team to go
bolder and bigger next year is
incredible,” she says, adding that
to survive, broadcasters “need
to be creatively forward-looking
and not just reactive” to stand
out in a crowded marketplace.
“Being good isn’t good enough
anymore.” Off the clock, Mensah
unwinds with a bit of reality TV
— she cites Love Island on ITV as
her indulgence of the moment
(“proof positive that audiences
love entertaining, warmhearted
shows, plus beautiful semi-naked
people”) and says she’s “obsessed”
with U.S. comedy. “Basically I
relax with real stories and work
with made-up ones.”
CHARLOTTE MOORE
Director of content,
BBC
Overseeing content
at Britain’s largest
and most trusted broadcaster,
Moore easily weathered the loss
of hit competition show The Great
British Bake Off to competitor
Channel 4 by doubling down on
drama, including the groundbreaking Three Girls, a series
based on true stories of victims
of sexual abuse, which had an
average audience of 8.1 million on
BBC One. Moore reminds young
women entering the business that
“just because you’re organized
and good at getting things done,
don’t let men tell you you’re not
the creative one.”
JANE TRANTER AND
JULIE GARDNER
Founders/producers,
Bad Wolf
Since leaving the
BBC (where Tranter,
pictured top, and
Gardner were key in
rebooting the sci-fi
franchise Doctor Who)
to set up their own production
shingle in South Wales, they have
landed a hit Emmy-winning HBO
show (The Night Of, the adaptation of the BBC drama Tranter
executive produced), lined up a
big-budget adaptation of Philip
Pullman’s best-selling fantasy
trilogy His Dark Materials with the
BBC and New Line Cinema and
started production on Sky’s fantasy series A Discovery of Witches.
Gardner says the duo’s goal with
Bad Wolf is to “unearth and
develop quality projects that speak
to the world today with entertainment, intelligence and swagger.”
SOPHIE
TURNER LAING
CEO, Endemol Shine
The world’s largest independent
production group (with a slate
that runs from Big Brother and
London-based Bad Wolf was a producer on HBO’s Emmy-winning drama The Night Of.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
130
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
THR IN CANNES:
WHAT WOMEN WANT
ON SMALL SCREENS
Executives and producers
converge to discuss the challenges
of creating content for females at
the annual MIPCOM Power Lunch
T
HR will host its annual Women
in Global Entertainment Power
Lunch on Oct. 16 at the Majestic Hotel
in Cannes. This year, Oscar winner
Catherine Zeta-Jones will add star
power to the event. The Feud actress
will discuss her experiences spanning
more than a quarter-century in the
industry. Zeta-Jones next appears
as notorious “Black Widow” drug lord
Griselda Blanco in Cocaine Godmother
from A+E Networks, one of the Power
Lunch sponsors, along with the company’s Lifetime network. Other guests
include Stephanie Laing, executive
producer of HBO’s Emmy-winning Veep
and Divorce; New Pictures co-founder
Willow Grylls, whose production credits include BBC’s award-winning limited
series The Missing; Lea Goldman,
former editorial director of lifestyle site
Refinery29 who took over as editor-inchief of A+E’s Lifetime and FYI networks
this year; and Fleur Pellerin, president
of CanneSeries, the new TV festival that
will launch in April, timed to MIPCOM
sister event MIPTV.
THR’s East Coast TV editor Marisa
Guthrie will moderate a panel at the
lunch about the challenges of creating
content that addresses all women and
how networks and producers can better
reach the female millennial audience.
Says Guthrie: “The industry is beginning to wake up to the value of diverse
voices as evidenced by the growing
ranks of women behind the camera as
directors and producers.” — S.R.
↓ Zeta-Jones plays a notorious drug lord
on A+E’s Cocaine Godmother.
LAING, GARDNER, TRANTER, ABUDU, MENSAH: COURTESY OF SUBJECT. ALMHEIRI: SAEED JUMOH. MOORE: ROBIN MARCHANT/GETTY IMAGES. NIGHT: COURTESY OF HBO. ZETA-JONES: JASON LAVERIS/GETTY IMAGES.
for Mexican TV giant Televisa
that is based on the true-life
story of iconic Mexican wrestler
Alejandro Munoz Moreno, and the
wildly ambitious El Comandante,
a co-production with Telemundo
about the life and times of late
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez.
To unwind, Guerra’s formula is
simple: “Watch series, drink wine
and do Pilates, not necessarily in
that order.”
SONY PICTURES TELEVISION
CONGRATULATES OUR 2017 HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
TOP 25 GLOBAL WOMEN HONOREES
ANGÉLICA GUERRA
©2017 Sony Pictures Television Inc. All Rights Reserved.
International Production
Latin America &
U.S. Hispanic
ASTRID QUENTELL
International Production
Germany
Backlot
as well as 10 Emmy nominations.
Says Barnett, “It couldn’t happen to a nicer and more talented
group of filmmakers.”
FremantleMedia is behind Starz’s critical hit American Gods.
MasterChef to Humans and Black
Mirror), Endemol Shine, according to boss Laing, finally has put
its 2014 merger “behind us and
[we’re] now firmly focused on the
future.” This year saw a few executive shake-ups at the company’s
U.S. operation — including the
exit of co-CEO Charlie Corwin and
unscripted topper Eden Gaha and
the closure of its short-lived digital studio — but Laing, who got
her start in the business working
on The Muppets as Jim Henson’s
secretary, says the industry giant
still is focused on “things that can
really move the dial,” whether it
be a U.S. version of cult U.K. series
Utopia, which the company has in
development with HBO, or efforts
to “establish another superbrand
in nonscripted.”
JANE TURTON
CEO, All3Media
British indie giant
All3Media went from
strength to strength
in the past year, both in scripted
drama, where the company
recently bought Fleabag producers Two Brothers Pictures, and in
nonscripted, inking a deal with
Fox for Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours
to Hell & Back, a new restaurant
reality show. Her advice to young
women entering the business: “Be
yourself. Be passionate, energetic,
dogged. Hard work pays off. Be
creative and have fun.”
KELI LEE
Young Pope (HBO) and Starz’s
American Gods and her continuing
drive to diversify and strengthen
her company for an uncertain
future. “The sobering realization
is that we all think we’ve already
been disrupted — whether by
Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple
or Netflix,” she says, “but in fact
this is only the beginning.”
POLLY HILL
Head of drama, ITV
Poached from the BBC
in 2016 (at reportedly
double her corporate
salary), Hill has been charged with
revitalizing leading commercial
network ITV in its post-Downton
Abbey phase. The initial reviews
have been positive: Season three
of the crime drama Broadchurch
was hailed as a return to form
after season two was panned, and
Hill has an impressive lineup of
top-notch dramas in the wings,
including a big-budget, seven-part
remake of Vanity Fair, starring
Tom Bateman and Michael Palin,
and the contemporary family
thriller Next of Kin featuring The
Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi. Says
Hill: “My first job was with the
incredible [Doctor Who producer]
Verity Lambert working as a script
reader. She taught me that great
work should also be great fun.”
UNITED STATES
SARAH BARNETT
CECILE
FROT-COUTAZ
When Lee segued from her role
as executive vp casting at ABC
Entertainment to running ABC
Studios International’s content and talent operation out of
London, it was an acknowledgment of her success in finding
and promoting diverse and
global creative voices. Lee’s ABC
Discovers initiative, a globally
focused talent recruiting program, served as a launchpad for
the likes of 2014 Oscar winner
Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave),
Black Panther star Chadwick
Boseman, Randall Park of Fresh
Off the Boat and Dania Ramirez
of Devious Maids. Her advice for
young women starting out: “It
sounds cliche, but work harder
than you’ve ever worked, be resilient and build relationships.”
BELINDA MENENDEZ
President,
NBCUniversal
International TV
Distribution and
Universal Networks International
As if overseeing 15 offices and
176 territories around the globe
wasn’t enough, Menendez also
has kept busy with a slew of recent
deals. On the distribution side, the
company inked pacts to bring NBC
programming to Germany and
President and GM,
BBC America
CEO,
FremantleMedia Group
Frot-Coutaz pulled
off one of TV’s biggest coups
this year when she successfully
struck a deal with ABC to bring
American Idol back to U.S. screens
in 2018. But globally, the Franceborn executive has been pushing
innovation at Fremantle, with
acclaimed scripted series The
Managing director
of international
content, platforms
and talent,
ABC Studios International
With the signoff of
the Emmy-winning
drama Orphan Black this season,
Barnett and BBC America face a
turning point, one she met headon with the big swing of nature
doc Planet Earth II, which paid off
with the highest ratings ever for
a nature show in the U.S. (2.7 million total viewers across BBC
America, AMC and SundanceTV),
→ Starz Play Arabia inked a deal with NBCU International TV for Lopez’s Shades of Blue.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
132
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
Austria through a renewed deal
with Sky; to Japan, where NBC’s
Golf Channel signed not one but
two new distribution agreements
ahead of the 2020 Olympics in
Tokyo; and to the Middle East and
Africa, where Starz Play Arabia
inked a new deal for series including Mr. Robot, Bates Motel and
Jennifer Lopez’s Shades of Blue.
Says Menendez: “I’d like to flag
that I’m very proud that Comcast
NBCUniversal was recently named
as one of the best places for women
to work in Fortune’s 100 Best
Workplaces for Women survey,”
she says. “Employee feedback cited
the company’s focus on integrity
and commitment to creating an
environment celebrating diversity
and encouraging development.”
VENEZUELA
ADRIANA CISNEROS
CEO, Cisneros Group
Harvard grad
Cisneros is the third
generation of her
family to lead the Venezuelan
Cisneros Group, one of the largest
privately held media entertainment companies in the world.
Cisneros Media, the company’s
oldest division, includes the
network Venevision and several
cable TV channels. Cisneros’ company also handles distribution,
production, record labels and
concert promoting and recently
started producing content for U.S.
networks through its MobiusLab company. Says Cisneros, “To
young women I always say, ‘If you
are in a company that doesn’t
value you as a woman, get out and
find one that does.’ ”
AMERICAN: JAN THIJS/STARZ ENTERTAINMENT LLC. TURTON, FROT-COUTAZ, HILL, BARNETT: COURTESY OF SUBJECT. LEE: ROB LATOUR/REX USA/COURTESY OF ABC. MENENDEZ: ALEX BERLINER/COURTESY OF NBC. SHADES: PETER KRAMER/NBC. CISNEROS: LARRY MARANO/GETTY IMAGES.
Women of
International
TV
NEW FROM JOHN
#1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF
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WORLDWIDE RELEASE 10.10.17
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Backlot
From left: DCD Rights’ Romper Stomper,
Sky Vision’s Britannia and Sony Pictures
Entertainment’s Counterpart.
The Search for the Next Thrones
Begins in Cannes TV creators
go high-concept to wow choosy
international buyers By Scott Roxborough
T
he global trends that will shape the TV industry of the future
get their test drive in Cannes at the annual MIPCOM trade fair.
Disruption has become a theme in recent years, as the expansion of digital and online channels shakes up traditional business
models, while local TV has gained strength, not only dominating primetime at home in Germany, Japan or Turkey, but increasingly
expanding abroad as well. A fresh focus on the demands of the global
audience is being matched by a long-overdue interest in female viewers.
The 2017 MIPCOM Personality of the Year, Discovery Communications
president and CEO David Zaslav, recently closed a $14.6 billion deal to
acquire Scripps Networks Interactive and the largely female audience for its lifestyle channels, including HGTV, Travel Channel and
Food Network. But front and center at MIPCOM this year will be the
programming, and THR has picked five new dramas that could take
international buyers by storm.
1
BRITANNIA
The most ambitious
of the international
series looking to be the next Game
of Thrones, this fantasy drama
from Amazon and Sky in Britain
is set in 43 A.D. as the Roman
army marches north to crush the
Celts, led by warrior women and
powerful druids who claim they
can channel the forces of the
underworld. Kelly Reilly, David
Morrissey, Zoe Wanamaker and
Nikolaj Lie Kaas co-star.
SALES Sky Vision
2
COUNTERPART
Oscar-winning actor
J.K. Simmons finally
gets his own small-screen vehicle: an espionage mystery with
a supernatural edge. Simmons
TELECOM COMPANIES GET IN
ON THE PEAK TV BOOM
Deep-pocketed telcos are backing new series in an
effort to drive subs to their streaming services
plays Howard Silk, a lowly cog in
the bureaucratic machinery of a
Berlin-based U.N. spy agency, who
discovers that his organization
safeguards the secret of how to
cross into a parallel dimension.
SALES Sony Pictures
Entertainment
3
DEEP STATE
5
ROMPER STOMPER
Fox Networks Group’s
This Australian drama,
first-ever series combased on the 1992
missioned specifically for its
film of the same name starring
international viewers, this spy
Russell Crowe, comes in the
thriller from Matthew
wake of the success of
MIPCOM
TNT’s Animal Kingdom,
Parkhill, creator of
another
series adapted
Audience Network’s Rogue,
Oct. 16-19
Palais des
from a cult Aussie
features Kingsman star
Festivals,
film. Original writerMark Strong as an ex-spook
Cannes, France
director Geoffrey Wright
sent back into the field
to avenge the death of his son.
updated his tale of Melbourne
neo-Nazis for the TV version,
SALES Fox Networks Group
which shifts perspectives among
Content Distribution
Aussie skinheads, the antifascists fighting them and young
GONE
Muslims caught in the middle.
Sex and the City’s Chris
Noth returns to TV with
SALES DCD Rights
4
T
he single biggest new trend in international television is the move by telecommunications companies
into original content. To compete with Netflix and Amazon
Prime, telco giants — France’s SFR, Spain’s Telefonica, the
U.K.’s BT, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and Australia’s
Foxtel, among others — are investing in original series to
drive subscriptions for their homegrown pay TV and
streaming services. Given the companies’ size, reach and
deep pockets — Deutsche Telekom had 2016 revenues of
$73 billion, Telefonica of $52 billion — their shift to original
content could be an industry game-changer.
At MIPCOM this year, buyers will get a look at
Telefonica’s first original productions for its premium pay
channel Movistar+. This will include the Oct. 16 premiere
of thriller La Zona, which is set in the wake of a meltdown
at a nuclear power plant in Northern Spain. Germany’s
Beta Film is handling world sales on the series. Just ahead
of MIPCOM, Deutsche Telekom announced its first
original series, the culture-clash comedy Germanized, a
co-production between Bavaria Fernsehproduktion and
France’s Telfrance about a sleepy French village on the
verge of bankruptcy that welcomes in a German company
along with hundreds of German workers. These new
shows are among the first in what could be the next big
boom in original production — if they pay off. MIPCOM will
be their initial testing ground. — S.R.
← Spain’s Telefonica has high hopes for the dystopian thriller La Zona.
T H E HOL LY WO OD R EP ORT ER
this procedural in which he
plays an FBI agent who teams
up with the survivor of a famous
child-abduction case (played
by Leven Rambin) to solve abductions and missing person
cases. This is the first series in
NBCUniversal’s European drama
pact with German channel
RTL and French network TF1.
SALES NBCUniversal International
134
O C T OBE R 4, 2017
ROMPER: COURTESY OF DCD RIGHTS. BRITANNIA: COURTESY OF SKY VISION. COUNTERPART: COURTESY OF SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT. ZONA: COURTESY OF MOVISTAR+.
MIPCOM
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88 Years of THR
Memorable moments from a storied history
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SNL’s ‘Lazy Sunday’ Was YouTube’s First Viral Hit
When Google bought YouTube
in October 2006 for $1.65 billion, financial commentators
pointed to News Corp’s purchase
of Myspace just one month
earlier for “only” $580 million
and noted what a great deal
that had been. But it wasn’t:
Facebook ate Myspace’s lunch,
and News Corp unloaded it in
2012 for $35 million. Meanwhile,
today almost 5 billion videos
are watched on YouTube daily.
And some credit for that success
goes to Saturday Night Live and
cupcakes. In December 2005 —
just five months after YouTube
went online — SNL’s Chris Parnell
and Andy Samberg appeared
in what was being touted as an
SNL Digital Short called “Lazy
Sunday.” Parnell and Samberg
play Beastie Boys-style rappers
who sing the praises of “bomb
frosting” on New York’s Magnolia
Bakery cupcakes (“My hunger
pains are stickin’ like duct tape /
Let’s hit up Magnolia and mack on
some cupcake”) and either going
uptown to see The Chronicles of
Narnia or smoking “chronic” pot
— it’s open to artistic interpretation. The duo’s cupcakes
rap has an aggressive intensity
that suggests imminent world
destruction. “That’s just their way
of being badass,” says Parnell,
now 50. But what turned out to be
really badass was the number of
hits the two-and-a-half-minute
video racked up on YouTube.
Within days, “Lazy Sunday” was
the first TV show clip to have
a viral second life online, with
2 million-plus viewings. That
week, YouTube’s traffic was up
83 percent. Inevitably, the site’s
success drew legal attention.
In February 2006, NBC asked
that “Lazy Sunday” and 500 other
clips be taken down. Viacom
sued for more than $1 billion (and
settled seven years later) over
“brazen” copyright infringement.
“YouTube would have found its
way without ‘Lazy Sunday,’ ” says
Parnell, “but we gave it a shot of
adrenaline.” — BILL HIGGINS
↑ Parnell (left) and Samberg in “Lazy Sunday,” which had 5 million-plus YouTube views in 2005.
The Hollywood Reporter, Vol. CDXXIII, No. 31 (ISSN 0018-3660; USPS 247-580) is published weekly; 40 issues — three issues in January, March, April, May, July, August, October and November, and four issues in February, June, September and December — with 15 special issues: Jan. (1), Feb. (1), June (4), Aug. (3),
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to MSI, PO BOX 2600, Mississauga, On L4T OA8. Direct all other correspondence to The Hollywood Reporter, 5700 Wilshire Blvd., 5th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90036. Prometheus Global Media, LLC: Vice President, Human Resources: Angela Vitacco. Advertising/Editorial Reprints: Reprints of editorial or ads can be used
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