HBO programming chief Casey Bloys gave a really interesting interview to The Hollywood Reporter, talking about the very impressive influence of Big Little Lies and Reese’s role within this:
HBO Boss on ‘Big Little Lies’ Impact, “Earned” Raises and Addressing Pay Parity
When Casey Bloys got his first of two major promotions in early 2016, the HBO executive took a good hard look at the suite of dramas he had inherited and wondered just one thing: Where were all the women?
On the comedy side, where Bloys had been in charge since 2013, he and his team had championed such female-fronted series as Enlightened, Veep, Getting On, Insecure and, of course, Girls. But now the drama lineup that he was suddenly responsible for skewed heavily male, with a mix of series that included True Detective, Game of Thrones and, then, the forthcoming Westworld. “The fact was we hadn’t really had a female-skewing drama since Big Love,” he says, referencing the polygamy hour that ran from 2006-11. “And so we became very interested in diversifying the slate.”
Two years later, much has already changed. In fact, Bloys, who was upped to president of programming later that spring, is coming off a months-long awards season in which his first big female drama, Big Little Lies, swept nearly every category it was in. The accolades followed record ratings and an enviable spot at the center of the cultural conversation — and proceeded significant raises for a cast led by producer-stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, who are said to be earning in the $1 million per episode range for season two. “A show like that is a gift to a network,” says Bloys, who credits Witherspoon and Kidman for identifying its potential and bringing it to the network. His boss, chairman and CEO Richard Plepler, lavishes similar praise: “Reese and Nicole had the vision to know what this could become,” he says. “They brought us a jewel and their enthusiasm became infectious, not only with the Big Little Lies team but throughout all of HBO.”
And when the limited-turned-ongoing series returns in 2019, with the original cast plus Oscar winner Meryl Streep, it’ll join a lineup that’s lighter on testosterone — or at least heavier on estrogen. In July, HBO will introduce Sharp Objects, centered on an even more complicated woman played by Amy Adams; and after that, My Brilliant Friend, about a lifelong female friendship. There are others, too, including projects from Misha Green (Underground) and Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley) as well as a second collaboration between Kidman and Big Little Lies’ writer/producer David E. Kelley. Bloys has been similarly focused on moving more women behind the camera, too, with his ratio of female to male writers and directors working its way to 50 percent.
With Big Little Lies back in production, Bloys sat down at the company’s corporate headquarters in New York and talked about those hefty raises, the impact of the Time’s Up movement and how he intends to remain competitive without writing nine-figure producer checks.
One of your execs found herself in hot water last month when she sat on stage at a conference in Israel and said, “From a budget standpoint, going into season two of Big Little Lies without any options in place we’ve been … short of raped.” I’m hoping you can clarify the point that she was trying to make, since it got lost in the drama of her word choice.
Here’s what I will say: obviously it was a really unfortunate statement, not just the choice of words but also the statement because it’s not reflective of how we feel as a network. Let me just say this about Big Little Lies season two. Whatever anybody was paid was 100 percent earned and well worth it. This show was a giant hit for us and for the industry. I know there’s fascination with the negotiations but, listen, they earned it. So, [the comment] was not reflective of how we feel, or how [Francesca Orsi, HBO’s drama chief] feels. And she feels terrible. I know she’s reached out to all the players on the show, and I will say while they were not happy about it they have been incredibly gracious and it actually has led to larger conversations about the choice of the word [raped] and why it’s used.
Will it change the way you go about making deals going forward? As in, will you move away from the one-season contracts?
Not really. Look, Big Little Lies is a unique case. But our business affairs group has been doing this a long time and we tend to do fair deals that people feel good about on both ends and that was absolutely the case here.Continue reading this entry »
Big Little Lies has been nominated for Best International TV Show at the BAFTA TV Awards – congratulations to the cast and crew again! The BAFTA TV Awards will be held on May 13th.
BIG LITTLE LIES Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Bruna Papandrea, Per Saari – HBO / David E. Kelley Productions / Pacific Standard / Blossom Films / Sky Atlantic
FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN Ryan Murphy, Dede Gardner, Tim Minear, Alexis Martin Woodall – Fox 21 Television Studios / BBC Two
THE HANDMAID’S TALE Bruce Miller, Warren Littlefield, Kari Skogland – MGM / Channel 4
THE VIETNAM WAR Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, Geoffrey C. Ward , Sarah Botstein – BBC / Florentine Films / BBC Four
Reese Witherspoon-Jennifer Aniston Apple Drama Replaces Showrunners
Apple has yet to launch a scripted series, but it has already replaced two showrunners.
Kerry Ehrin (Bates Motel) is poised to sign Apple’s first overall deal and take over for Jay Carson (House of Cards) on the tech giant’s Jennifer Aniston-Reese Witherspoon morning show drama.
Apple and production studio Media Res have parted ways with Carson following “creative differences” on the drama that offers an inside look at the lives of two morning show hosts. Carson was poised to pen the script and serve as showrunner.
Following the end of her deal with Universal Television, Ehrin will move to Apple with an exclusive overall development and production deal that includes showrunning duties on the untitled morning show project starring Aniston and Witherspoon. (She most recently reunited with Jason Katims and served as a consulting producer on NBC’s midseason musical drama Rise.)
The morning show drama landed at Apple in a competitive situation with multiple outlets bidding. Apple handed out a two-season, 20-episode order for the series — marking its first order under new heads of video programming Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht. Brian Stelter’s book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV — which was previously in development at Lifetime as a TV movie — will provide additional background for the show, which is based on an original concept by Media Res’ Michael Ellenberg. Witherspoon and Aniston will also executive produce and co-own the show. Sources note the two stars are earning more than $1.25 million per episode for their starring and exec producing roles on the series and will also receive a cut of the show’s back-end. The project marks Aniston’s return to scripted television more than a decade after Friends.
For Ehrin, the move comes after she served as co-showrunner alongside Carlton Cuse on A&E’s Psycho prequel TV series Bates Motel. Sources say Ehrin landed at Apple in a competitive situation with other studios vying to sign the veteran writer, producer and showrunner, whose credits include Friday Night Lights and Parenthood.
The morning show drama becomes Apple’s second scripted original to change showrunners. Bryan Fuller (and Hart Hanson) exited Apple’s Amazing Stories anthology in February. A replacement has yet to be named.
Ehrin’s deal comes as streaming giant Netflix has been making an aggressive push to sign top producers to overall deals after forging nine-figure pacts with Shonda Rhimes (Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy) and Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Crime Story). Rhimes and Murphy had both been in the broadcast studio system for more than a decade, at ABC Studios and 20th Century Fox Television, respectively. Netflix’s aggressive payday has only intensified the war for talent among broadcast, cable and streaming outlets.
Ehrin is repped by Rothman Brecher.
Since hiring Van Amburg and Erlicht from Sony Pictures Television Studios, Apple has been on an aggressive buying spree, landing series from M. Night Shyamalan, Outlander’s Ron Moore, La La Land’s Damien Chazelle and a couple more from Witherspoon, among others.
Reese and her A Wrinkle In Time co-stars appeared on UK morning chat show Lorraine on March 14th – here are some clips, and we’ll have screencaptures for you asap:
Reese and her A Wrinkle In Time co-stars and director can be seen on the cover of the March 21st issue of UK Stylist magazine – with a fantastic new book-themed interview and photoshoot! Read the interview below, find the photoshoot in our Gallery, and pick up a copy if you can….
Ava DuVernay, Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling on rewriting the story books and the power of the written word.
“I recently got hate-tweeted by the President,” begins Oprah Winfrey, looking like the most relaxed woman in the USA. “Since then, I’ve been asked, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ Well, did you see that meme a couple of years ago: ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that’? I don’t have time for that. I’m not going to focus one minute of my energy on that. I’m going to stay in the light.”
“Things I don’t have time for: that,” laughs Reese Witherspoon, sitting opposite her. Mindy Kaling interjects: “If you’ve been to the Promised Land, which is where Oprah lives, and you think about whether she is going to spend time thinking about a tweet or if she’s going to live her life, you would understand why she doesn’t have time for that.”
As storytellers go, Oprah Winfrey is one of the greats (and yes, her home in Montecito, California, is called The Promised Land). But she’s also a long-time supporter of other storytellers, having launched the influential Oprah’s Book Club back in 1996 via her incredibly successful TV show.
In fact, in this room there’s a power quadrant of women who are determined advocates of books – Reese Witherspoon via her monthly Instagram book club and adapting numerous titles for the big and small screen (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber) through her production company Hello Sunshine; Mindy Kaling, author of New York Times bestsellers Why Not Me? and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?; and Ava DuVernay, the director of A Wrinkle In Time, in which all three star.
The trio play Mrs Which (Winfrey), Mrs Whatsit (Witherspoon) and Mrs Who (Kaling), three celestial beings and superheroes who guide a young woman of dual heritage across space to search for her father. It’s based on the book of the same name, which was finished in early 1960 but initially rejected by many publishers for being, as hypothesized by the author Madeleine L’Engle, a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist and blurring the lines between a children’s and adult’s book. Finally published in 1962, it went on to become a classic. As I write, the film is second in the US box-office charts to Black Panther – proof, should Hollywood need it, that films telling diverse and fantastical stories, that are told by all voices, are both necessary and profitable.Continue reading this entry »
Here’s a third batch of A Wrinkle In Time press interviews:
Another 120+ high quality photos from last month’s A Wrinkle In Time LA premiere have been added to the Gallery today. I love Reese’s sparkly red gown, and this batch of photos includes more great shots with Ava, as well as with her Wrinkle In Time co-stars. Enjoy!
• “A Wrinkle In Time” LA Premiere x125 more
On behalf of all Reese fans, we’d like to wish Reese a very Happy Birthday today!! She celebrates her 42nd birthday today, and after the year she’s had we hope she has a very special day today – with a few celebratory coffee’s thrown in! Reese has had an extraordinary year, with the success of Big Little Lies, her production company (and other businesses!) blossoming and the trailblazing lead she’s taken in empowering women not just in entertainment but in wider society around the world. Our hearts are filled with love and respect for this wonderful woman, and we thank her for everything she’s doing. We can’t wait to see what she’ll do next, and we’ll be here to support her along the way. Happy Birthday, Reese!