The streaming giant’s delay in addressing problems — some of which it had known about for months, if not years — has left it to contend with some bad press and a major rebuilding project, Kim Masters writes:
There’s been quite a housecleaning at Amazon Studios in recent weeks. Content chief Roy Price was ushered out Oct. 17 following allegations that he had harassed the executive producer of The Man in the High Castle. Joe Lewis, the head of original series, soon followed, as did reality chief Conrad Riggs.
When outsiders with big money like Amazon venture into Hollywood, the community finds a way to take advantage. And it’s easy to make a bad choice when newcomers look to hire. Many in the industry can spin a good yarn about their key role in making hit movies or shows, but those tales don’t always withstand scrutiny. Only real insiders can see behind the curtain.
Price and some of his top execs had less experience than those typically charged with running a major studio. How did this happen? Several sources say the Seattle-based online giant’s overall approach to hiring, which involves an extensive interview process known as “the Loop” as well as a basic background check, is not designed for Hollywood. “It’s all about how you perform in interviews as opposed to doing a deep dive,” says one person with firsthand knowledge of the process. That helps explain, for example, why Lewis was hired in 2013 despite having flamed out at two of his previous jobs. Full story.
Elsewhere in TV…
► The Kevin Spacey fallout continues. Netflix had already announced that the next House of Cards season would be its last, but now they’re suspending production of the show indefinitely in order to “review the current situation and to address any concerns of our cast and crew.” Elsewhere, MasterClass canceled an online acting course taught by Spacey. And NBC’s This Is Us removed a reference to the actor from last night’s episode — the scene originally involved one of the show’s main characters being invited to a cast party for a Spacey movie.
+ Jeremy Piven: CBS is “looking into” sexual harassment allegations against its Wisdom of the Crowd star. In a series of tweets Tuesday, actress Ariane Bellamar alleged that the actor groped her on the set of HBO’s Entourage. Piven’s current TV home CBS said in a statement, “We are aware of the media reports and are looking into the matter.” HBO also released a statement saying they were unaware of the alleged incident.
+ Hawaii Five-0: CBS was also hit with a lawsuit from a Five-0 locations assistant who says Jake Downer, a scout for the series, “acted aggressively, unprofessionally, offensively, abusively and/or in a threatening manner.” She also claims his father, Five-0 executive producer Jeffrey Downer, retaliated against her.
+ The Affair: Showtime is fighting back against a lawsuit from a body double hired for The Affair who claims she was harassed and discriminated against.
► Bad Boys spinoff starring Gabrielle Union lands at NBC. Based on the Will Smith-Martin Lawrence franchise, the show will find Union reprising her role from the movies: Syd Burnett, now an LAPD detective paired with a new partner. NBC has given the project a pilot production commitment; Brandon Sonnier and Brandon Margolis (both of The Blacklist) will write, while Jerry Bruckheimer, Jeff Gaspin, and Union are among the list of exec-producers.
► Dismal TV diversity numbers. A study from Jose Antonio Vargas’ Define American found that half of Latino immigrant characters on TV are portrayed as criminals. A separate report, from Color of Change, revealed that just 4.8 percent of TV writers are black.
► Paul Feig, Kim Rosenstock developing Girl Code at Freeform. After finding success with The Bold Type, Freeform is pursuing another women-in-the-workplace series: Girl Code, a comedy from Feig and Rosenstock (Glow) about an anti-social tech CEO and an outspoken feminist warrior who team up for a groundbreaking, all-women tech incubator.
► Fox News employees tell CNN they hate Fox News. Some of them, at least — according to an Oliver Darcy report, multiple people from inside the network have been “embarrassed and humiliated” by their employer’s coverage of the latest Russia investigation developments. A sample quote from one Fox News personality: “I want to quit.”
+ But is it just Fox News? From a New York Times media analysis: “The collective coverage from The Wall Street Journal editorial page, The New York Post and Fox News — not including the straight-ahead coverage by the likes of Shepard Smith and Bret Baier — was testament to the Murdoch empire’s ability to make its own journalistic weather.”
^The Good Doctor is Monday’s best. A true force to be reckoned with, the Freddie Highmore medical drama upped its bragging rights on Monday night and topped all other broadcast series (including NBC’s reliable The Voice) across demos. Since debuting in September, the freshman entry has quickly become one the most-watched shows on television.
► Marvel’s New Warriors won’t air on Freeform. Marvel’s highly anticipated half-hour scripted comedy will no longer air on the Disney-owned cable network. Instead, sources say Marvel will shop the live-action show — which stars Baby Daddy grad Derek Theler as Mister Immortal and This Is Us‘ Milana Vayntrub as fan-favorite Squirrel Girl — to other outlets.
+ The pilot is said to have tested through the roof, catching the attention of high-level Disney executives. Insiders note that Freeform couldn’t find a slot for the show next year as it had originally intended — so they gave the series back to Marvel.
► HBO nabs Kit Harington miniseries Gunpowder. The pay cabler re-ups on their Game of Thrones star by acquiring his latest TV project, a (very) BBC production that depicts the 17th-century events that led to the Gunpowder Plot and Guy Fawkes Day. Harington stars as Robert Catesby, a key figure in the true-story drama who also happens to be one of Harington’s ancestors.
+ The three-part series, which also stars Liv Tyler and Mark Gatiss, will air on HBO Dec. 18-20. The show is already out in the U.K., where The Guardian noted that many viewers found some scenes “unnecessarily gruesome and brutal.”
► Stranger Things 2: Bob is the new Barb. The internet has developed full-on Bob-mania. In a piece called “We Need to Talk About Bob,” The Ringer declared the Sean Astin-played character “a surprising beacon of lovable goodness.” Buzzfeed, ever more casual, ran with “We Gotta Talk About Bob” and branded the man a superhero. A L.A. Times headline asked, “What About Bob?” And Vulture published “A Salute to Bob Newby,” calling him “dad jeans in human form” (a good thing). Astin has turned in plenty of fan-favorite performances before, but it looks like his latest role has given him a whole new legacy to look after.
+ Did you like the Stranger Things 2 aftershow? Netflix’s Ted Sarandos says he’s open to doing more: “I think [it’d work for] shows like The OA that are super layered, where people can really tear apart what they think they just saw. And Black Mirror would be fun, too.”
► Casting Notes: Diane Lane heads to Matthew Weiner’s Amazon show The Romanoffs; she’ll guest star in the anthology series. Caitlin FitzGerald, Paul Sparks and Tom Sturridge board Starz’s Sweetbitter adaptation.