Writers Are Ready to Make a Deal – Vanity Fair
It’s Tuesday, and I have yet to receive a call to audition for Universal’s upcoming Madonna biopic.
Hello from Los Angeles, where we’re counting writers’ votes, watching Netflix stream into China, and meeting Brie Larson in the Valley.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
On Tuesday, negotiators for the Writers Guild of America and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers get back to the bargaining table, rededicated to the aim of securing a deal now that a strike is a real possibility. Guild members delivered a strong mandate for a strike on Monday, backing a strike authorization by an overwhelming margin of 96.3 percent, with a historic 67.5 percent turnout. Such a decisive vote from membership could bring a deal sooner rather than later, as the studios realize the solidarity they are up against and start making concessions. For reference: 90 percent of writers voted in favor of strike authorization in the days before the 2007–2008 walkout, with 45.9 percent turnout.
VF.com’s Laura Bradley takes a look at some of the TV shows that will be among the first to feel the pain if writers strike, including late-night programs, Saturday Night Live, and scripted hits set to begin filming in May, like The Walking Dead and American Horror Story. As Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva notes, the MTV Movie & TV Awards, scheduled for May 7, will be the first major live TV event to be threatened by a potential strike. It’s not just the awards show’s writers who could be impacted—acting nominees who are SAG-AFTRA members would not be able to attend. Without stars like Emma Watson, Hugh Jackman, and Taraji P. Henson, it’s tough to put on a ratings grabber.
FROM THE MAGAZINE: BRIE’S HEROIC NEW ROLE
Brie Larson covers this month’s Vanity Fair. In an interview with West Coast editor Krista Smith, Larson discusses life after her Oscar win for Room, tackling her directorial debut, and taking on a hero-size role as Disney’s Captain Marvel. Of the decision to play the comic-book character, Larson said, “Ultimately, I couldn’t deny the fact that this movie is everything I care about, everything that’s progressive and important and meaningful, and a symbol I wished I would’ve had growing up. I really, really feel like it’s worth it if it can bring understanding and confidence to young women—I’ll do it.”
NETFLIX IN CHINA
Netflix has struck its first licensing deal in China, giving the streaming company access to the massive market through iQIYI, a platform with 500 million subscribers. But don’t expect Orange Is the New Black to be streaming in Beijing immediately. As Variety’s Patrick Frater notes, “Censors now require entire series to be approved before a show can begin to be carried by a platform… It is not clear how iQIYI will overcome this issue and still make content available in synch with Netflix’s simultaneous global release pattern.”
LIVING IN A MATERIAL WORLD
VF.com’s Yohana Desta e-mails:
Bring on the bangles, the teased bangs, and the fingerless gloves—a biopic about Madonna’s early days is in the works. Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter writes that Universal picked up the script for Blond Ambition, the hot screenplay by newcomer Elyse Hollander that made its way to the top of the Black List last year. Hollander’s script is set in 1980s New York, as a young Madge acclimates to the city and begins work on her debut album, all while fighting against the rampant sexism in the music industry. It’s an issue that is still prevalent today, giving this particular biopic a rather timely edge.
Plus, New York in the 80s is suddenly all the rage again, it seems—Ryan Murphy is making an anthology series about the era, and J.J. Abrams is teaming up with RuPaul to make a series based on the famous drag queen’s club-kid days. Madonna, given her quick rise to fame in the 80s, will certainly be a topic in both (Ru used to run into her at downtown clubs back in the day). Now the rest of us get to sit back and judge the actresses who face the gargantuan challenge of playing Madonna.
Another big May 1 deadline looms in TV land: Emmy submissions. As networks and publicists figure out how best to position their people for a win, Variety’s Kris Tapley dives into some recent category hopping, including Mom star Allison Janney switching from the supporting-actress comedy category to lead actress and Homeland’s Rupert Friend moving from supporting to lead in drama.
OOH LA LA, WILL
Will Smith will serve on the 70th Cannes Film Festival’s jury, whose full lineup was unveiled by festival organizers Tuesday. Smith joins previously announced jury president Pedro Almodóvar and juror Jessica Chastain on the team that will select the winner of the Palme d’Or. The rest of the jury includes Chinese actress Fan Bingbing , French actress Agnès Jaoui, Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, German director Maren Ade, South Korean director Park Chan-wook, and French composer Gabriel Yared.
ENVELOPEGATE: FAYE’S SIDE
In the moments after Envelopegate on Oscar night, Faye Dunaway glided by me backstage at the Dolby Theatre, nibbling from a paper plate of cashews held aloft by someone walking behind her. Amid the confusion, she seemed pretty unaffected, and in the weeks that followed Oscar night, as Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Dunaway’s co-presenter, Warren Beatty, weighed in on the debacle, Dunaway stayed out of sight. Well now the Bonnie & Clyde star has told her side of things to NBC’s Lester Holt, and confesses she feels guilty about how the night went down. “I thought he was joking,” Dunaway said of Beatty’s onstage response to opening the wrong envelope. “I mean, I thought he was stalling. Warren’s like that. He kind of holds the power and makes people—a dramatic pause. But it’s part of his charm.”
That’s the news for this sunny Tuesday in L.A. What are you seeing out there? Send tips, comments, and fingerless gloves to email@example.com. Follow me on Twitter @thatrebecca.