'60 Minutes' Payouts; 'Aquaman' Ruling China; Academy's Hart Fiasco; Long-Running Shows Thriving; Sorkin's 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

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What's news: The leaked 60 Minutes report reveals troubling details of past culture around the CBS news magazine. Plus: Aquaman hits $25 million in its opening day in China, a new DC superhero film and the golden age of long-running shows. — Will Robinson

December 08, 2018
What's news: The leaked 60 Minutes report reveals troubling details of past culture around the CBS news magazine. Plus: Aquaman hits $25 million in its opening day in China, a new DC superhero film and the golden age of long-running shows. — Will Robinson
^Hush payments?: 60 Minutes insiders expressed relief that the report was made public, but one noted, "The company culture was, pay some money and get rid of the problem," Marisa Guthrie reports:
+ Follow the money: CBS has been paying, for more than 20 years, a former staffer who was allegedly repeatedly assaulted by show creator Don Hewitt in the 1990s, per the report published by The New York Times. The original $450,000 settlement has been renegotiated several times, including this year, and the total amount she has received has exceeded $5 million, and includes annual payments of $75,000 for the rest of her life.
+ Atmosphere had shifted: "You can’t change a culture overnight," said one female staffer. "But it shows that Jeff did change things." The report found that the company was justified in firing Fager for sending a threatening text to a CBS News correspondent reporting on the accusations of misconduct against him in Ronan Farrow’s reporting in The New Yorker. Those reports also included accusations of misconduct against producer Ira Rosen and former producer Michael Radutzky.
+ Revised reporting structure: According to the Times, the report recommended that the next executive producer of 60 Minutes report to the president of CBS News. “Mr. Fager reported to [CEO Leslie] Moonves,” according to the Times. But sources with knowledge of Fager’s contract say that he actually reported to both CBS News president David Rhodes and Moonves, though clearly, as CEO Moonves was atop the hierarchy. Full story.
New Boardmembers?
Lean in: A new law mandating all public California companies have at least one female board member is creating big demand for worthy female execs, so Rebecca Sun and Natalie Jarvey vetted the under-the-radar corporate stars who can take the plunge:
+ Channing Dungey (former ABC president): A Disney policy prohibiting execs from outside corporate board seats kept this 15-year TV veteran from past directorships, but recruiters are ready to pounce now that she is a free agent.
+ Anjali Sud (CEO, Vimeo): The onetime Amazon director vaulted into board consideration when she was named CEO of Vimeo after three years as a senior executive. Her youthfulness and digital focus are what many firms lack.
+ Sarah Barnett (president, AMC Entertainment Networks):  November promotion gives the former BBC America head a higher profile and more operational experience, key for a programming-focused executive. Top 20.
Elsewhere in film...
-> Column: Kevin Hart debacle proves ABC and the Academy aren't learning. If past experiences with Roseanne Barr and Brett Ratner haven't taught ABC and the Academy anything, Daniel Fienberg asks what else needs to happen to prevent future Hart-style fiascos. Read.
► Aquaman makes $25M opening-day splash. With a 86 percent share of the total market Friday, early data provided by the studio showed a RMB 169.5 million ($24.6 million) haul from approximately 30,500 screens, making it the biggest opening day ever for a Warner title in China and the biggest-ever December opening day overall.
* Ralph 2, Grinch leading sleepy pre-Christmas frame. The Disney Animation Studios pic is on course to earn as much as $15 million domestically for the weekend, followed by Illumination/Universal's holiday-themed offering with a projected weekend haul of $11 million-$12 million.
► Luc Besson's EuropaCorp partners with Pathe for French distribution. Besson's Anna, starring Helen Mirren, will get a French release even as the beleaguered company faces financial troubles. Nous Finerons Ensemble, starring Guillaume Canet will also fall under this deal.
► Brian K. Vaughan inks eight-figure overall film, TV deal with Legendary. Under the three-year deal the comic book great behind titles including Y: The Last Man and Saga will bring his creator-owned comics and new titles to the big and small screens.
► Plastic Man movie in the works at Warner Bros. Up-and-coming screenwriter Amanda Idoko has been hired to pen the script for what will be a comedic action-adventure for Warner Bros. Bob Shaye, the former co-founder of New Line-turned-producer will executive produce.
► House That Jack Built ratings dispute resolved by IFC, MPAA. IFC "acknowledges that there was confusion in the marketplace" over an unrated director's cut and R-rated version, the organizations said in a joint statement.
► Cary Elwes joins superhero drama The Hyperions. The Princess Bride star boards the feature by writer/director Jon McDonald. The indie drama portrays a professor who in 1960 invents a device, the Titan badge, that offers humans superpowers, which creates an unusual family of superheroes who rise to fame and prestige.
-> Column: Belgium Oscar submission Girl is "a message of courage, bravery and compassion." "Every day, I see young, transgender people fighting for their dreams, accomplishing their goals," Nora Monsecour, whose real-life story inspired Lukas Dhont's new film, writes. "They are not weak and fragile. Girl tells my story in a way that doesn’t lie, doesn’t hide."
^What Crazy Rich Asians has done for Asian-American scribes: Similarly themed projects are advancing in the wake of the breakout hit, says co-screenwriter Adele Lim, as success no longer means having to "think and sound and write like a white dude from Yale":
+ Storytelling shift: I've spent 16 years writing on primetime network one-hour dramas, about a dozen shows in all. But the first time I got to write for a lead character who resembled me at all was when I wrote the CRA screenplay.
There are a good number of Asian-American female writers like me in the trenches, steadily working our way up the ranks, running rooms, running shows, selling and developing our own projects, but before CRA, always with leads and casts and stories that are white. Full column.
► Aretha Franklin doc Amazing Grace picked up by Neon. The doc will get an Oscar-qualifying run, followed by an early 2019 release. The concert documentary went unreleased for over three decades as it was tied up in legal issues.
► The Orchard acquires doc Meeting Gorbachev from Werner Herzog, Andre Singer. History Films has retained all television rights to the doc about the last leader of the Soviet Union.
Musical notes...
-> Critic's takeaway for the Grammy nominees. This year brought some welcome diversity and singled out some worthy artists — Pusha T, Ella Mai and more — but generally suggested it’s business as usual for the music awards, Jonny Coleman writes. Column.
► Spotify wants appeals court to decide who in music can sue for copyright infringement. Despite the passage of licensing reform, the streamer still faces lawsuits with billions on the line.
In memoriam...
► RIP Tim Rossovich. The colorful defensive end and linebacker who starred at USC and with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles before becoming an actor died Thursday at 72. Obit.
Crazy Rich Asians, On the Basis of Sex production designer shares challenges of both. Nelson Coates, president of the Art Directors Guild, talks about the Guild's latest diversity and education efforts. Listen | Subscribe
Reliable Ratings
Old and steady: The odds of long-term success are vanishingly small in network TV, but it's also a time when 10-year-plus shows are thriving, Rick Porter reports:
+ Reliable ratings: "As the number of options have just been skyrocketing and it's harder and harder to get new programs sampled, the tried and true are holding in there," said Jeff Bader, president program planning, strategy and research at NBC. "You know you have a guaranteed level of performance with some of these returning shows, so it might just be a little bit less risky to stick with some of these."
* Case in point: Grey's Anatomy has been on since the 2004-05 season and has never finished lower than 13th in the adults 18-49 demographic or 32nd in total viewers. (It's currently seventh in the demo and 23rd in viewers for 2018-19.) "From research, we know that young people are discovering Grey's Anatomy. This couldn’t have happened 10 years ago because the windowing and multi-platform places didn't exist," Andy Kubitz, executive vp programming strategy at ABC said. Full story.
Elsewhere in TV...
► Japan's anime industry worth record $19 billion, driven by streaming, exports. Sales to Netflix, Amazon and Chinese streamers have helped triple overseas sales in the last four years as the domestic market continues to shrink. Overseas sales, which also includes box office, television rights, remake rights, home entertainment sales and merchandising, grew to a record $8.81 billion.
► Amazon video channels to generate roughly $1.7 billion this year, analysts say. Prime Video Channels, which allows Amazon to sell subscriptions to over-the-top services from third parties, grew from an estimated $700 million in revenue in 2017.
* Outlook. The three-year-old service — currently available in the U.S, U.K., Germany and Japan — will pay out an estimated $1.2 billion this year, per the report. By 2020, that number is expected to grow to $2.5 billion as Amazon's Channels revenue grows to $3.6 billion.
► Amazon developing female superhero series with Whip It writer. Shauna Cross is writing Deadtown, an adaptation of the novella The Refrigerator Monologues, for the streamer.
► Netflix's Ghost in the Shell series will arrive in 2020. The anime project is debuting just two years after a 2017 film adaptation sparked backlash over the "whitewashing" of the lead role.
► Hit the Floor canceled after four seasons at BET. The first three seasons aired on VH1 before moving to Viacom sibling BET for what now serves as its fourth and final season.
► California appeals court nixes new trial for Survivor consultant. Mark Burnett's former partner, Conrad Riggs, appears to win an important round in his long-running dispute with Layne Leslie Britton over cash from Survivor and Donald Trump's Apprentice.
► Gizmodo says Ex-CNN pundit Jason Miller's defamation suit built on false allegation. In a $100 million complaint, Trump's former communications chief argued that reporting on a sealed document isn't privileged. But in a motion to dismiss, Gizmodo responds that the document wasn't actually sealed.
► Remembering 41. Hosted by Jenna Bush Hager, NBC News will air the one-hour special Remembering George H.W. Bush: A Love Letter to Gampy on Saturday night that will include interviews with President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton and the late Barbara Bush. [NBC News]
^Saying goodbye: From the expected (The Walking Dead) to the surprising (Lethal Weapon), Lesley Goldberg and Josh Wigler take a look at some of the biggest on-screen exits of the year, from deaths to departures that helped create new and sometimes bold narratives on their respective shows. Top 36.
► Phoebe Waller-Bridge among honorees at U.K. Women in Film and TV Awards. Veteran actress Juliet Stevenson and I Am Not a Witch director Rungano Nyoni were also among the winners in London.
► John Krasinski, Janelle Monae & John Leguizamo honored by Smithsonian for Ingenuity. Stevie Wonder presented Monae's award and performed at the D.C. event Wednesday, where the young stars of A Quiet Place and Cheech Marin also joined the program.
Digital digest...
► Gimlet producing daily WSJ podcast. Aiming for Q2 2019, the Journal's show follows in the success of NYT's The Daily and The Washington Post's new venture, Post Reports. [Hot Pod News]
Ratings notes...
► Superstore builds for fourth straight episode. The 3.42 million viewers for Superstore are a season-high for the show, and its 0.9 rating among adults 18-49 is steady for the sixth week in a row. The 8 p.m. show is NBC's most consistent and top-rated comedy in the Thursday block.
The arts scene...
► Miami art fairs draw Jennifer Lopez, Bill Gates, Armie Hammer to beachside exhibitions. Multiple fairs this week drew collectors, A-list artists and moguls to buy (and give a little) at more than a dozen satellites built around the buzzy central event, Art Basel Miami Beach. Details.
The Grinder costumer fighting to keep gender-based claims in Fred Savage lawsuit. The court previously dismissed the claims, finding the costumer failed to prove any of the alleged behavior was motivated by her gender, Ashley Cullins reports.
Re-Creating Atticus Finch
Giant undertaking: Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin returns to his stage roots with an adaptation of the Harper Lee novel — with Jeff Daniels as Atticus Finch — exploring truths about how far we have come as a society and how far we still have to go, Suzy Evans reports:
+ Tackling a classic: "I made the mistake of going into it with timidity with the first draft," Sorkin admits. "The first draft I did took all our favorite scenes, all the scenes that you need to do to tell the story, and stood them up and dramatized them. And the best you can say about it is that it was harmless. With the second draft, I just pushed all that aside — the book, the movie, everything — and I started over again and I wrote a play." 
+ New framing: Sorkin built a nonlinear timeline for the play, weaving Tom Robinson's trial throughout the narrative so the events around it carry a weightier significance. He also has adult actors playing the child roles — Scout, Jem and Dill. In the play, the children look back at the time as grownups, whereas in the book, Scout is recounting the events of her childhood from a more innocent perspective. Full story.
What to watch this weekend...
THR critic Daniel Fienberg sends his recommendation:
Some weeks, this is a complicated question. This week, it is not. Curl up by the fire and watch and enjoy Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Sure, it can get a little narratively clunky and Amy Sherman-Palladino's dialogue is exhausting if you're not in shape for it, but nothing else is going to give you 10 hours of humor, heart and warm-fuzzies over the weekend. [If you already rushed and watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when it premiered on Wednesday, try AMC's The Little Drummer Girl and scratch your head over all the Golden Globe nominations it didn't get.] 
What else we're reading...
— "From Muse to Friend." Dana Carvey remembers President George H.W. Bush — on a White House visit: "There was definitely a sense of melancholy in the air. A new administration was coming in, and a lot of these people would be saying goodbye very soon. The president, being who he was, was only thinking about others. I was just relieved it all worked out." [The New York Times]
— "The Bloomberg 50." The site's most impactful people of the year, including Ryan Coogler, Kenya Barris and the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund: "Established in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations, the fund connects victims of workplace sexual harassment with lawyers, then helps pay legal bills with donations from 50 states and 80 countries that have swelled to $22 million from $13 million" [Bloomberg]
— "How Mary Poppins Returns Got Made." Benjamin Svetkey reports: "'It's such a nostalgic film for so many people,' says Emily Blunt, who didn't want to be the one to mess all that up. 'So when Rob Marshall called to offer me the role, my first reaction was pretty much abject terror.'" [THR]
— "Outgoing GOP Congressman Wants to Be a Hollywood Screenwriter." Paul Bond reports: "One of [Dana Rohrabacher's] completed scripts, dubbed, Baja, had been about a Vietnam war vet who teams with an archaeologist in Ensenada, Mexico, though he has updated it so that now the protagonist is back from fighting in the Middle East." [THR]
— "Should Spotify Change the Way It Pays Artists?" Tim Ingham reports: "The music industry is poised for another fiery public dispute over the money Spotify gives performers in 2019; but this time, the discussion will center on how, rather than how much, cash gets handed over." [Rolling Stone]
— "The 'Baby It's Cold Outside' Debate." Sandra Gonzalez reports: "In his 25 years in radio, [96.5 Cleveland program director Brian Figula] had never had a song elicit a reaction like the one he was receiving prior to pulling 'Baby, It's Cold Outside' off the air. ... Within 24 hours, Figula estimates they received thousands of complaints, some threatening boycotts, protests and threats." [CNN]
What else we're watching...
+ "Ice Cube dishes on becoming Scrooge in A Christmas Carol remake." [Tonight Show]
+ "Gwen Stefani doesn't know what to get Blake Shelton for Christmas." [Jimmy Kimmel]
+ "Late-Night Lately: 'thank u, next' parody, Aquaman contest, Saoirse Ronan's hidden talents." [THR]
From the archives...
+ On Dec. 8, 1978, Universal premiered The Deer Hunter in Los Angeles, a gripping post-Vietnam War movie that won five Oscars at the 51st Academy Awards, including best picture: "The Deer Hunter is a major achievement in American movies. And I fervently hope that the American public won't vote me wrong." Flashback review.
Today's birthdays: Ian Somerhalder, 40, Matthias Schoenaerts, 41, Dominic Monaghan, 42, Teri Hatcher, 54, Wendell Pierce, 55, Kim Basinger, 65, Nancy Meyers, 69.
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December 8, 2018

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