Adele To Host ‘Saturday Night Live’ Next Week With Musical Guest H.E.R.


October 18, 2020 11:08am


Grammy and Oscar winner Adele will make her hosting debut on the October 24 episode of Saturday Night Live.

The English singer-songwriter previously served as musical guest on the NBC sketch program on October 18, 2008, also on the eve of a Presidential election, and on November 21, 2015.

Adele will be joined by H.E.R. who will make her musical guest debut on SNL next week. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter has accumulated over 7.5 billion streams worldwide to date.

Saturday Night Live is three weeks into a stretch of five consecutive originals in the run-up to the November 3 election. Chris Rock hosted the Season 46 premiere, followed by fellow comedian Bill Burr, who hosted the Week 2 show, and Issa Rae, who carried on hosting duties last night.

SNL is produced in association with Broadway Video. The creator and executive producer is Lorne Michaels.


Kanye West Responds To SNL Sketch, Claims Show Uses Black People “To Hold Other Black People Back”


October 18, 2020 11:00am


Kanye West has fired back at Saturday Night Live for putting him down during one of last night’s sketches.

In the sketch, which featured SNL host for the evening Issa Rae along with Kenan Thompson and Ego Nwodim, the imaginary talk show Your Voice Chicago asked about election candidate choices. Rae slammed the chances of Kanye West as president. She said, “Kanye? F him!” The remark followed her saying she would vote for everyone Black, a play on her remarks at the 2017 Emmys, when she said she would root for everyone Black.

West gave his take on the remark on Sunday morning via Twitter. “I’ve always said SNL uses black people to hold other black people back,” he wrote. “My heart goes out to Issa Rae. I’m praying for her and her family. I know that the twenty years of service that I’ve paid in the entertainment field has furthered our ability to be more successful.”

Ive always said SNL uses black people to hold other black people back My heart goes out to Issa Rae I’m praying for her and her family I know that the twenty years of service that I’ve paid in the entertainment field has furthered our ability to be more successful

— ye (@kanyewest) October 18, 2020

‘Saturday Night Live’ Ratings Slip With Host Issa Rae, Remain Above 2019 Levels


October 18, 2020 10:30am


The Oct. 17 telecast of Saturday Night Live, with host Issa Rae and musical guest Justin Bieber, drew a 4.5 rating household Live+Same Day rating in the 44 metered local markets and a 2.0 adults 18-49 rating in the 25 markets with local people meters.

That was down a notch from last week’s show hosted by Bill Burr (4.7, 2.2), which in turn was off from the season premiere two weeks ago emceed by Chris Rock (5.6, 2.9). Despite the week-to-week slide, SNL, buoyed by the final stretch in the Presidential election cycle, remains up double digits over last year’s October average (+15% in households, +18% in 18-49).

SNL is a big delayed viewer gainer. The Oct. 3 season opener has already more than doubled its 18-49 rating with delayed viewing, growing by +130% with digital and linear viewership to date, from a 1.84 in Live+ Same Day to a 4.24. The season premiere also has added +6.0 million viewers overall, going from 8.2 million to 14.2 million.

In addition to the Cold Open skewering the two dueling Town Hall specials, the most popular videos from last night as of Sunday morning include the opening segment of Weekend Update focused on Donald Trump, and the Weekend Update skit featuring impersonations of three of Trump’s adult children.

George Clooney Talks Importance Of Dissent, Upcoming Netflix Pic ‘The Midnight Sky’ & Time He Almost Starred In ‘The Notebook’ With Paul Newman


October 18, 2020 9:50am

George Clooney on the set of ‘The Midnight Sky’ with David Oyelowo and Tiffany Boone
Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX

During a virtual screen talk today at the 64th BFI London Film Festival, George Clooney discussed the importance of journalistic integrity, the COVID-19 pandemic, his upcoming Netflix film, The Midnight Sky, and the highlights of his illustrious career.

Throughout the hour-long conversation with Scottish broadcaster Edith Bowman, which centered on a selection of his iconic films—including Out of Sight, O Brother, Where Art Thou? and Good Night, and Good Luck—a prevailing theme was the importance of kindness, and of speaking truth to power, in today’s world.

Speaking to the directors who have most affected him and shaped his career, while taking a break from post-production on his sci-fi pic, Clooney referenced the COVID-19 pandemic, and what it has revealed to him. “We’re sitting in this completely changed world, [where] we find it’s not just about coronavirus, about all the anger and hatred and stuff. You find that you’re really looking for kindness and support around the rest of your life,” said the two-time Oscar winner. “The directors that I’ve enjoyed working with always have had that as a quality.”

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Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX

Later on, the conversation turned to Good Night, and Good Luck, and Clooney recalled the impetus for making the film—that being the time in the early 2000s when he drew controversy for openly protesting the war in Iraq. “In 2003 and 2004, there were like five or six of us saying this is a terrible idea, and everyone else who thought [that] was keeping quiet,” the actor said. “I just remember that feeling, the idea that the most patriotic thing you can do in the world is to question your government.

“I believe that, and will always believe it,” Clooney added. “I was raised the son of a newsman.”

Referencing the pivotal presidential election in the US that is now just a couple of weeks away, Clooney stressed the importance at this point in time of credible journalism, noting a key difference between the America of today and that of 1953, when the events of Good Night, and Good Luck took place. “It’s an interesting thing because at that time, we had three channels for television news, and they all started with the same set of facts. Now, that’s completely different,” the actor said. “We have the President of the United States trying to say that our mail-in ballots could be fraudulent, which of course, is a felony. And there’s been something like nine [cases of fraud] of a mail-in ballot over the last 40 years. We’re just working with different sets of facts, and I worry about that, because it makes people very sure of themselves.”

In conversation with Bowman, Clooney also went in deep on The Midnight Sky, a film which he had hoped to show on the biggest of screens, prior to the onset of the pandemic. “We shot it on 65[mm] so that we could take it to IMAX,” he told Bowman with regret. “And you got to watch it on a screen about [the size of an iPad].”

Based on a novel by Lily Brooks-Dalton, The Midnight Sky is directed by Clooney, from a script by Mark L. Smith. The post-apocalyptic tale centers on Augustine (Clooney), a lonesome scientist in the Arctic, who races to stop a group of astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.


Noting that he misses the theatrical viewing experience that has been lost throughout much of this year, Clooney said that the novel initially came to him via the team at Netflix. “The guys at Netflix sent it over to me to act in it. I read it and loved it, and thought I’d actually rather take a swing at directing it,” he explained. “I’d done a couple of space movies, so I knew how complicated the space stuff was going to be, but this one felt like a really intimate story about what mankind is capable of doing to mankind. I also liked the idea of a story of redemption, and this was kind of the ultimate story of redemption.”

The first part of the shoot took place in Iceland, and posed a test of physical endurance, with 70 mph winds, at 40 degrees below zero. An added challenge came when Clooney learned that his co-star Felicity Jones, who was set to portray an astronaut, was pregnant. “I was in the middle of Iceland, really miserable, and she goes ‘So, there’s news. I’m pregnant.’ I’m like ‘Great.’ And then I go, ‘Okay, that complicates things,’” the director shared. “She was so gung-ho. She wanted to do all the wirework. But I was like ‘No, we’re not putting anyone pregnant on a wire.’”

When Clooney learned of Jones’s pregnancy, he initially considered VFX head replacement for some of the actress’s more physically demanding scenes. Ultimately, though, he leaned in and adapted, revising the narrative so that Jones’s Sully had gotten pregnant while in space. “And it changed everything for us,” he said. “It gave us something to lean into for the end of the movie, which I think ends up being a big bonus for us, along the way.”

Noting Clooney’s repeated comments about the importance of having a voice, and not being scared to confront different kinds of material—as he did, once again, with The Midnight Sky—Bowman suggested that his courage and versatility were perhaps the keys to his success, as a director. Clooney agreed. “By the time I got to Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, which was the first thing I directed, I knew specifically what I wanted to do, and how I wanted to do it,” the actor-turned-director said. “And what I never wanted to do was be caught playing things safe.”

Philippe Antonello/NETFLIX

Among the choice career anecdotes Clooney shared from his 42-year screen career was a story about his friendship with actor Paul Newman, toward the end of his life. “We were going to do The Notebook together,” Clooney revealed. “Basically, I was going to play him as a young man, and it was funny. We met and said, ‘This is it. It’s going to be great.’”

Subsequently, the actor went home, watched a number of Newman’s iconic films and got intimidated. “He’s one of the handsomest guys you’ve ever seen. We met up [again] and I said, ‘I can’t play you. I don’t look anything like you. This is insane,’” Clooney recalled. ‘We just wanted to do it because we wanted to work together, [but] it ended up being not the right thing for us to do.”

Like Gregory Peck, Newman was an actor Clooney admired for his character, his dignity, as well as his sense of humor. “We had a very funny relationship, late in life for him. I directed a movie that just completely bombed called Leatherheads. [Newman] was still racing at the time, and raced a car, and crashed it,” Clooney said. “So, he took a photo of Leatherheads and superimposed it on the crashed car, and said, ‘I was driving your car in the race.’”

Prior to today’s screen talk, Clooney appeared at the BFI London Film Festival on numerous occasions, with films including The Descendants, The Ides of March, and Up in the Air. His animated Wes Anderson pic Fantastic Mr. Fox opened the fest in 2009, while Good Night, and Good Luck closed it out in 2005.

Produced by Anonymous Content, Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures and Syndicate Entertainment, The Midnight Sky also stars Kyle Chandler, David Oyelowo, Miriam Shor, Demián Bichir and Tiffany Boone. It is set to debut on Netflix this December.

Up next for Clooney is a feature adaptation of Calico Joe, the 2012 baseball novel written by John Grisham, which he is reportedly looking at as a directing vehicle. The multi-hyphenate will also produce, alongside Heslov and Bob Dylan’s Grey Water Park Productions.

Unemployment: Two Sides Inch Closer On Relief Compromise, Set Monday Deadline


October 18, 2020 8:48am



Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Saturday that the Senate will vote Wednesday on a new relief package that provides economic stimulus, including extended unemployment benefits.

“I just announced the Senate will vote next week on hundreds of billions more dollars for relief programs that Democrats do not even oppose,” McConnell wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin plan to speak on Monday night regarding a new stimulus after a long conversation on Saturday. The two sides have moved closer recently, with Republicans offering a $1.8 trillion package and the Democrats holding fast at $2.2 million.

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McConnell nudged Pelosi in his Twitter note, saying that “Working families have already waited too long for Speaker Pelosi’s Marie Antoinette act to stop. Let’s make law.”

The Senate bill contains $500 billion in funding for unemployment insurance, schools, plus additional COVID-19 testing. The Senate will also cast a separate vote on Tuesday regarding more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which expired in August.

On Saturday evening, Pelosi suggested a 48-hour deadline to resolve the negotiations. The proposal came after an hour-long phone conversation with Mnuchin.

“The Speaker and Secretary Mnuchin spoke at 7:40 p.m. by phone tonight for just over an hour,” Drew Hammill, Pelosi’s chief of staff, wrote on Twitter.

“There remains an array of additional differences as we go provision by provision that must be addressed in a comprehensive manner in the next 48 hours.”

The heart of the partisan disagreements on stimulus have centered on how much funding to give state and local governments and whether businesses should receive legal protections for pandemic-related issues.

I just announced the Senate will vote next week on hundreds of billions more dollars for relief programs that Democrats do not even oppose. Working families have already waited too long for Speaker Pelosi’s Marie Antoinette act to stop. Let's make law.

— Leader McConnell (@senatemajldr) October 17, 2020

‘SNL’: Michael Che Jokes About NBC Trump Town Hall On Weekend Update: “What Can We Say We Have A Type” WATCH


October 17, 2020 9:52pm



Saturday Night Live took on the competing ABC Joe Biden and NBC Donald Trump town halls during its latest episode.  The show kicked off with a cold opening that saw Alex Baldwin reprise his role as 45 and Jim Carrey transform into the Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president.

The jokes about the conflicting town halls also found their way into the latest “Weekend Update” installation. Upon bringing up the topic of the NBC town hall, Michael Che said that the Thursday program shouldn’t have been a surprise.

“What can we say, we have a type,” the comedian said. Next to Che appeared a picture of Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer and Trump, hinting at the first two men’s rape accusations.  

Che’s joke comes after NBC received backlash for running a town hall at the same time as Biden’s on ABC, despite the latter being scheduled first. As a result of the decision, a number of Hollywood stars including Wanda Sykes and and Julia Louis-Dreyfus supported the NBC blackout and urged viewers to watch the ABC town hall instead.

“Weekend Update” didn’t let up on Trump. Joining Che and Colin Jost on the desk were Mikey Day as Donald Trump Jr. and Alex Moffat as Eric Trump. With the two on set, the segment went on to mock Trump’s “sarcastic” suggestion of disinfectant as COVID-19 treatment.

Moffat’s Eric went on to drink hand sanitizer, only for Day’s Donald Jr to criticize him for it.

“Dad said it was fine,” Moffat joked. 

The “Weekend Update” segment also touched on Trump’s failure to denounce QAnon during the town hall, his surprisingly low tax returns and the president’s packed rallies.

Adult Swim Festival Brings Music & Livestreams To YouTube Channel


October 17, 2020 9:50pm


Adult Swim

The Adult Swim Festival has set Friday Nov. 13 and Saturday, Nov. 14 for this year’s free, two-day, virtual event on YouTube.

Music, comedy, panels and meet & greets with Adult Swim talent are on tap for the event, which also promises exclusive festival merchandise and “unexpected surprises.”

The weekend will feature musical performances by Robyn Presents Club Domo and Mastodon, exclusive live streams with talent from Rick and Morty and The Eric Andre Show, a world exclusive of Run The Jewels’ X Cyberpunk 2077 Music Video Premiere, Toonami Special Edition, where hosts Tom and Sarah will talk about the new Playstation PSS console. Over more than 20 music performances are on tap.

The merchandise store will offer exclusive Adult Swim Festival merchandise, including Power to the People Face Masks designed in partnership with Run The Jewels, with proceeds donated to the ACLU.


Issa Rae Likens ‘Saturday Night Live’ Debut To “Prom” During Opening Monologue


October 17, 2020 9:10pm

Issa Rae made her Saturday Night Live hosting debut and reflected on her success within the past four years. Upon her entrance the Insecure and The Photograph star said it was an honor to walk and perform on the same stage as the comedy legends that came before her, including Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Of course, that debut came with some nerves.

“I’m scared that I might throw up but I gotta hold it down because I’m the first black person to host SNL y’all,” the actress joked before she told audience members otherwise. “I’m not, but you believed it for a sec.”

She went on to say how she’s coming to host the sketch series in a peculiar moment, given the COVID-19 and the upcoming presidential election. Rae recalled how Insecure premiered on HBO around of the 2016 election and the eventual victory of Donald Trump.

“It felt really awkward for my life to be going so good. It was rude to be peaking while democracy was collapsing,” the Insecure creator said.

Rae revealed that the first year of her HBO show felt like the freshman year of high school, wherein she was still learning where she fit in and who would be in her close circle. But with Insecure having finished its fourth season back in June, Saturday Night Live feels like a celebration of hard work, she said.

“Hosting SNL is like my prom and you guys are all my dates,” she told her audience. “I’m ready to go all the way y’all.”

Justin Bieber joined Saturday’s episode as musical guest. Watch Rae’s opening monologue above.

‘Martin Eden’ Is Vividly Rendered Take On Jack London’s Novel


October 17, 2020 1:22pm

Venice Film Festival

Quite like the scorpion that stings the frog that’s offered to transport it to the other side of the river, simply because it’s in its perverse nature to do so, so does Martin Eden offer up an ultimately caustic view of human endeavor that gives the heave-ho to constant striving and the best intentions.

This vividly rendered Italian take on Jack London’s 1909 novel brandishes a cutting intelligence and a powerful star turn by Luca Marinelli, whose performance earned him best actor kudos at last year’s Venice Film Festival, and who launched his American career earlier this year with The Old Guard.

Pietro Marcello’s second feature film is shot through with vibrant imagination and a lively intelligence, but the way the story turns on itself and, ultimately, on the viewer as well, is disconcerting to the point of betrayal.

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London was an agitating political socialist and didn’t hesitate to put his views on public display in his novels and journalism. The title character at this story’s core is a striver, a lower-class dock-worker (Oakland in the novel, the more colorful Naples in the film) who is inspired by the admiration of a beautiful upper-class young lady, Elena (Jessica Cressy) to better himself in order to be worth of her and win her heart.

“So the world is stronger than me,” Martin admits at the outset, but it can’t be by much. Tall, rangy and muscular, Martin attracts Elena and her family by taking out a belligerent jerk, and further wins them over with his well-spoken sincerity and declaration to pursue self-improvement. By virtue of his domineering physicality combined with a soft-spoken intelligence and a fundamental belief he inspires in people, Marinelli strongly brings to mind the young Burt Lancaster; up to now, he’s been able to dominate with his fists, but in future he wants to prevail with his mind.

Back in the grungy slums with his sister and her family, Martin becomes a sincere autodidact, reading voraciously with the intention of qualifying as a writer himself within two years. If the setting were today and you looked like Martin, everyone would tell him to shove the writing and become a male model or actor. But, no, this Martin is a sincere fellow, and you can tell because in his spare time he reads Herbert Spencer, promulgator of “the survival of the fittest.”

Marcello’s film is both disorienting and intriguing in that it never lets you know precisely when it’s taking place. The director makes arresting use of cascading montages of archival historical footage to summon memories of 20th century upheavals, conflicts, and otherwise notable events; cars are of distinctly different vintages, as are clothing and hair styles and other tell-tale era markers. Eventually, you come to the conclusion that Marcello is being imprecise on purpose as to when events are happening, the better to create a mash of related but deliberately disorienting images that eventually disconnect the narrative from orderly expectations.

Intriguing as this gambit may be, it nonetheless makes it difficult to gauge how much time has passed, which in turn creates wonder at how long the lovely Elena is going to wait around for her would-be suitor to finally sell a story; his hosts are curious on the same point. Bumpy storytelling dominates the film’s first half, at which point you think the young fellow ought to just give up and get a job selling Fiats.

But no sooner can you say L’oss bus a la milanesa than the former dock worker not only sells a story but soon becomes, via withered old socialist literary lion Russ Bissemden (the arresting Italian theater luminary Carlo Cecchi), a literary light himself.  Even though it’s a bit hard to be convinced at Martin’s sudden emergence as a card-carrying intellectual, with him the film enters the realm of bickering leftist intellectuals, propagandists and radicals, everyone armed with torrents of quotations and political certainties. “Socialism is inevitable!” is the order of every day in this circle.

In the wake of his literary breakthrough, the film presents Martin as the latest member of a politically and literarily trendy world. When he takes the stage at a red rally, his words incense the throng, but his influence and celebrity merely increase. His world becomes a political and intellectual roller-coaster ride on a path toward intolerable pretentiousness and dissolution; the former sweet guy has become a blow-hard, and his idol a suicide. He’s lived life so intensely that he’s now burned out, to the point where he says, “Life disgusts me.”

What the film leaves the viewer with in the end could provide a bunch of politically rabid intellectuals a full night’s worth of argument. Emotionally, it leaves one empty at best and betrayed at worst; striving brings everyone in this story to naught, every philosophy of life seems null and void, all aspirations and dreams pointless. No wonder the title character in London’s novel commits suicide in the end.

In fact, there is much to recommend in the film, but the way dedication to the arts or politics are ultimately positioned here–as endeavors that mean both everything and nothing–is more than a bit irritating, even maddening. Like a vast Italian repast, Martin Eden serves up a load of deep dish delights, but the final couple of courses are overcooked to the point where you’re tempted to spit them out.

Kino Lorber launched the film in the U.S. this weekend in theaters and virtual cinemas.

Disneyland Employees, Allies Rally Outside The Theme Park For Reopening


October 17, 2020 1:05pm

Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP

A rally was held this morning by Disneyland employees and their supporters outside of the theme park’s gates in Anaheim, calling for the entertainment attraction to reopen.

An estimated 40 people, reportedly consisting of Disneyland employees and frequent park-goers, staged the rally, holding “Not happy” signs and shouting to “Open Disneyland.”

CBS News reported that the Grafius family, comprised of three generations of Disney fans, turned out in support of the park employees.

“We’ve been coming here for years, ever since (my daughter) was like three months old,” Jennifer Grafius said. “The cast members have always been here to support us and they make us have a good time. We need to support them. It’s our turn to be out here hitting the pavement to get their jobs back.”

The rally called on the company to adopt the same safety precautions deployed at Disney World in Florida and at other theme parks that have allowed reopenings.

“If Walt Disney World can open safely, so can we,” said Jessica, Jennifer Grafius’s daughter. “We can social distance. We can wear our mask. We can be safe, and we can open our happy place…I know Walt would want us to reopen.”

The company has not issued a statement yet responding to the rally. DisneyCEO BobChapek recently criticized Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration for its  foot-dragging on providing safety guidelines that would allow reopening.

‘Windy City Rehab’ Ends Season, But Legal Troubles Linger For HGTV Series


October 17, 2020 12:47pm


The popular HGTV series Windy City Rehab has reached the end of its second drama-filled season, as host Alison Victoria Gramenos had to call a time-out in the finale to deal with some bad legal news while on camera.

But even though the season has reached the finish line, the host’s legal problems are apparently far from over.

People reports that the owners of a house featured on Windy City Rehab tried to freeze Victoria’s financial assets amid an ongoing lawsuit. Anna and James Morrissey, who purchased a house featured on Season 1 of the series, filed a motion October 8 seeking to prevent Gramenos from “dissipating her assets, including selling any property which she owns or controls.”

According to Gramenos’s attorney, the court has denied the motion.

The Morrissey’s sued Gramenos and her former business partner, general contractor and developer Donovan Eckhardt, in December 2019. The couple filed a new lawsuit on September 20 of this year, adding the production company for the show, Big Table Media, and Discovery Inc., which owns HGTV.

The lawsuit alleges shoddy work, including “leaks and water penetration,” a crooked front door, crumbling exterior mortar, and problems with the roof and garage.

In the Season 2 finale, Gramenos received a phone call about a second lawsuit from another couple.

“If you only knew what comes into my phone,” she said on camera. “I have people coming out of the woodwork. I have homeowners that are being contacted by the press. All I ever did, and all I’ve ever done, is design. Honestly…Sorry, guys, I’m freaking out.” She then exited the camera interview.

Later, upon her return, she admitted, “I’m just dealing with a nightmare.”

HGTV has not said whether the show will return for a third season.

Friday Ratings: ‘Shark Tank’ Season Debut Is The Night’s Big Winner


October 17, 2020 11:59am


The Season 12 premiere of ABC’s Shark Tank was the big winner in the Friday demo wars, coming in at a healthy 0.6 to top the night’s fare.

The business entrepreneur show, shot in Las Vegas for the first time, saw SparkCharge, makers of the Roadie mobile EV charging system, take home a million-dollar stake from sharks Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner to highlight the episode. But Shark Tank’s strong lead-in couldn’t hold up for ABC’s 20/20, which featured a two-hour look at John Lennon’s life and legacy. That brought in an 0.3.

Fox’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown, which usually tops the night, came in second with an 0.5. The program was highlighted by Lars Sullivan taking on Jeff Hardy, and The New Day’s farewell.

At CBS, Cedric the Entertainer’s Greatest #AtHome Videos rolled to an 0.4 tally, with Undercover Boss following an maintaining that mark by also scoring an 0.4. A Blue Bloods rerun closed the evening.

NBC saw American Ninja Warrior race to an 0.3, with Dateline rising up to an 0.4 with its look at the murder of Helene Pruszynski, a 21-year-old radio station intern who was killed in Colorado 40 years ago.

The CW had a new Masters of Illusion come in at an 0.1, followed by a fresh World’s Funniest Animals, which also drew an 0.1, followed by a repeat of that show.


Netflix Western ‘The Harder They Fall’ Stops Production Following Positive COVID Test


October 17, 2020 10:21am


Deadline has confirmed that the New Mexico shoot of Netflix’s Idris Elba-Regina King western The Harder They Fall has stopped after an actor tested positive for COVID-19. Production stopped Thursday, continued into Friday and it’s unclear when filming will resume. Production has been occurring for about five weeks.

Note this isn’t uncommon for TV and movie productions to unfortunately encounter COVID cases. This has forced some to pause, while others can continue shooting. Many productions have enforced a pod system keeping actors, directors, and primary on-set workers separate from other units and video village. Recently, Jurassic World: Dominion‘s first unit had to shutdown due to a positive COVID-19 cases, but second unit remains at work.

Elba was one of the first stars to publicly say he had come down with COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic, along with his wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba. The Harder They Fall stopped production back in mid-March like many other film shoots taking safety during the start of the pandemic.

The Harder They Fall follows an outlaw who discovers that the man who killed his parents has been released from prison. He forms a posse to help him as he seeks revenge. Jeymes Samuel directs from a script by Boaz Yakin. Jonathan Majors, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield, and Delroy Lindo also star.

Netflix reps were unavailable for comment.

Exhibition Gets A Break In The Empire State: Cuomo Allows Cinemas Outside The City To Reopen On October 23


October 17, 2020 9:37am

A shuttered AMC Theatre in New York City’s Flatiron District.

During a press conference on Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced movie theaters outside of New York City can reopen at 25% capacity, or up to 50 people per screen on October 23rd. We also hear they can sell concessions. This is in effect for all counties with infection rates that are below 2% on a 14-day average.

“We hit 160,000 tests in one day, which is a record number and the highest we’ve ever done. When you’re doing that level of tests you get down to the block level. And then, when you start to see a cluster, you oversample in that cluster, so you get even more data,” said Cuomo. “Beginning October 23, movie theaters outside of New York City will be allowed to reopen at 25 percent capacity with up to 50 people maximum per screen. This is outside of New York City in areas that have infection rates below 2 percent on a 14-day average and have no cluster zones.”

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Those counties not allowed to reopen cinemas include Allegany, Broome, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Cortland, Greene, Orange, Rockland, Schuyler, Steuben and Tioga.

We’re waiting on word from NATO on this great news. But this is the first step in getting New York City reopened, which is the aorta of the metro DMA which can command between 7%-10% of the national box office. A majority of major studios following the lackluster opening of Tenet moved their tentpoles out of the fall and Thanksgiving season, in part because of New York’s shutdown.

Indoor cinemas were initially in phase 4. However, as New York improved through the COVID-19 tiers and handled its cases, Cuomo decided that movie theaters would not open, given his questions about air conditioning circulation. The governor continued to reopen gyms and casinos, while sitting on theaters. This created plenty of ire among the major studios and exhibitors like Cineworld’s Mooky Greidinger, who publicly slammed the governor for choking movie theaters.

As recent as last FridayRegal Cinemas used its Times Square multiplex marquee to admonish Cuomo for being just about the last pol in the country to reopen cinemas.

“48 states have reopened theatres safely. Why not New York, Governor Cuomo?” blared from that strip of black that once upon a time displayed scrolling movies titles, then, for months, read “Temporarily closed.”

Cineworld was forced to close its UK theaters, and a majority of its US Regal Cinemas, because of the lack of major studio product and the fact that New York state and Los Angeles county remained closed. Throughout, New York State health officials always had AC questions. Exhibition has long defended that in addition to the proper COVID-19 cleaning procedures, they can enforce crowd control with checkerboard seating and staggered showtimes — the latter two guidelines are a challenge for Broadway theaters to enforce, given the fact that they depend on a full house to make their productions bank every night.

I have heard that such industry figures as Tribeca Boss Jane Rosenthal and Tenet filmmaker Christopher Nolan, among many others, have made big pleas to Cuomo to reopen cinemas during the last few months.

The fact that New York is allowing cinemas to sell concessions is also a big deal. San Francisco county isn’t permitting that, and that cuts off the financial life flow for exhibition. In response, movie theaters in San Francisco county opted not to reopen, despite the fact that they’re open and selling popcorn and soda in nearby counties like Napa and Marin. Massachusetts banned all concessions for roughly three weeks during theaters’ reopening, and recently allowed their sale.

We’ll update you when NATO issues a statement on this morning’s latest breakthrough.



Liam Neeson Action Pic ‘Honest Thief’ Nabbing $4M+ Total By Sunday; ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Awakens – Box Office


October 17, 2020 9:27am


Open Road

Updated, Saturday AM: Open Road’s The Honest Thief led Friday with $1.3M at 2,425 theaters, a figure that’s just under the $1.4M that Unhinged did on its first combined US debut-Canada Friday. The Liam Neeson film is moving toward a $3.6M three-day, and when rolling in Canada’s gross from last week, its running cume will stand at an estimated $4.1M. Honest Thief is getting an extra boost from Imax, Dolby, and PLF, formats which Neeson action pics don’t typically have access to in a highly competitive major studio tentpole environment.

As a constant reminder, movie theaters in New York State and the county of Los Angeles remain closed, as well as North Carolina. Overall 48 states have movie theaters open, but No. 2 exhibitor Regal is closed nationwide except for seven sites in California.

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Directed by Mark Williams, the co-creator of Netflix Emmy winning series Ozark, Honest Thief follows a notorious bank robber who, in wanting to lead an honest life, turns himself in, only to be double-crossed by two ruthless FBI agents. Kate Walsh and Jai Courtney also star.

On social media, RelishMix observes that Honest Thief has a campaign that’s propped by 5.7M Facebook views from 20 videos off the pic’s official page, with an additional near 10M views on YouTube from four trailers and spots.

Reports RelishMix, “Kate Walsh is loudly and clearly the social star for Honest Thief across her social media universe of 5.7M followers, with an Instagram of 3.2M, plus Twitter 900K and Facebook of 1.6k. She’s activated for the film in between posts for her Boyfriend perfume/beauty product line.”

That look u give ur #boyfriend when ya find out he’s been lying about his past and he’s actually a bank robber… 🙄 #HonestThief is now playing in theaters, kitties! Buy ur tickets today💥

— Kate Walsh (@katewalsh) October 16, 2020

Overall social media chatter is leaning positive for Honest Thief, with RelishMix further reporting, “Liam Neeson never lies. When he says he is ‘coming for you,’ he’s coming for you,’ cry fans, adding, ‘I will never understand why people continue to mess with Liam.’ Fans are finding materials on Facebook and YouTube as a week of opens chatter continues to build and the film hits calendar. And while select convo calls-out ‘giving away too much’, the trailer plot line twists are pulling positive-swinging chatter for early viewers.”

Critics may have slapped Honest Thief with a 35% Rotten score (only 40 film reviews were reviewed) but Rotten Tomato audiences enjoyed the Neeson pic at 86%.

Coming in second is 101 Studios’ War With Grandpa, with $711K Friday at 2,260 locations. Look for the Robert De Niro-Uma Thurman family comedy to come in around $2.4M, -35%.  That would put the pic’s 10-day cume at $7.1M.

Disney/Everett Collection

Disney had a one-two-punch with Halloween catalog titles in spots 3 and 4, respectively, with this weekend’s re-release of the Tim Burton production The Nightmare Before Christmas and weekend 3 of Hocus Pocus. Nightmare did $465K yesterday at 2,194 theaters, on its way to a $1M-plus weekend, while Hocus Pocus did $251K yesterday at 1,640, looking at a 3-day take around $700K.

Freestyle Releasing’s 2 Hearts, the other weekend’s wide entry in 1,683 theaters, looks to rank 5th with an estimated 3-day between $500K-$550K. 2 Hearts is 11% Rotten off 18 reviews with an audience meter of 83%.

Liam Neeson stars as “Tom Carter” in director Mark Williams’ HONEST THIEF, an Open Road Films release.
Credit : Open Road Films
Open Road Films

Friday AM: Open Road’s Liam Neeson action movie The Honest Thief posted a notable first night during the pandemic of $225K in previews.

Neeson’s action movies outside of Taken typically see largely double that or more than triple that in a healthy marketplace, i.e. last year’s Cold Pursuit posted $540K on its Thursday preview, The Commuter did $700K, and Run All Night grossed $455K on its first night, however, we need to keep in mind that the No. 2 exhibitor Regal is closed down (except for seven theaters in California) and, of course, Los Angeles and New York are still shuttered. Industry estimates hope that Honest Thief can peg a similar opening to another meat and potatoes action movie geared at older guys during the pandemic, Solstice Studios’ Unhinged, which did $4M in its first weekend at 1,823 locations (and not every exhibitor was open over the weekend of Aug. 21-23); that Russell Crowe movie on its way to doing a 5x multiple off its first wide weekend with a domestic of $20M.

Most distributors during the pandemic have opted not to report their Thursday night figures because they’ve been so low, but good on Open Road here for sharing the intel. The numbers helps both exhibitors and distributors evaluate the state of the box office, and make programming decisions.

Honest Thief last weekend got an early jump in Canada before its U.S. wide break this weekend, earning $364K at 264 sites.

Honest Thief, the first release under Tom Ortenberg’s revived Open Road, is booked at more theaters than Unhinged had in its first weekend with 2,425 locations. That includes drive-Ins nationwide, 180 IMAX sites, Dolby Vision, and all other premium formats. Forty eight states are cleared to have movie theaters open, excluding North Carolina, with San Francisco movie theaters opting not to open since local health officials prevent the selling of concessions; this despite the fact that the county and the city are in the orange California tier and can accommodate 50% movie theater capacities.

While movie theater marquees during the pandemic have typically accommodated only wide release per weekend (whenever that occurs), this weekend Honest Thief is sharing multiplex space with Freestyle Releasing’s YA faith-based drama 2 Hearts starring Euphoria star Jacob Elordi. That Lance Hool directed and co-written movie is in play at 1,683 locations.

“Open Road is proud to support US theatres with Liam Neeson in a role that audiences will love” said Ortenberg this morning,  “We know many Americans across the country are excited to be back at the movies.”

Next week Open Road has the YA sequel After We Collided available in theaters and on PVOD.