‘Will and Grace’ Revival: Co-Star Leslie Jordan Says NBC Has Ordered 10 New Episodes

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If you needed yet another reminder that we’re living in the revival era, here’s one: “Will & Grace” will be joining the likes of “Gilmore Girls” and “The X-Files,” as NBC is said to have ordered 10 more episodes of the sitcom starring Debra Messing, Eric McCormack, Megan Mullally and Sean Hayes. Not joining them, unfortunately, will be Debbie Reynolds, who played Messing’s mother on the long-running show and died earlier this week at the age of 84.

READ MORE: ‘Will & Grace’ Stars Reunite to Debate Clinton vs. Trump in New Web Short

The news has yet to be confirmed by NBC. It comes from Leslie Jordan, who said during a radio interview with San Diego’s KPBS station that “It’s back. Here’s the way it works: [NBC] has ordered 10 [episodes]. It’ll be for next season, so they’ll go in in July.” The main quartet was most recently seen during an election video in which Messing, McCormack, Mullally and Hayes endorsed Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency.

READ MORE: R.I.P. 2016: Remembering the Dead TV Characters We’ll Miss the Most

“Will & Grace” originally ran between 1998 and 2006, airing 194 episodes over eight seasons. It has been recognized for its portrayal of gay characters, namely those played by McCormack and Hayes; during a 2012 “Meet the Press” interview, Vice President Joe Biden said the show “did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has ever done. People fear that which is different. Now they’re beginning to understand.”

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‘The Masterpiece’: Bryan Cranston Plays Himself in James Franco’s Wacky ‘The Room’ Feature

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James Franco remains ever busy both in front of and behind the camera. His next project, which seems very much in his wheelhouse, is a fictionalized version of the making of Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” called “The Masterpiece.” Franco both directs and stars in the adaptation of Greg Sestero’s book “The Disaster Artist,” and among the many others appearing in the film — like his brother Dave, Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Zac Efron, Hannibal Buress and Jacki Weaver — is Franco’s “Why Him?” co-star Bryan Cranston, who will play…Bryan Cranston.

READ MORE: ‘The Masterpiece’ First Look: James Franco & Seth Rogen Get to Work in Making-of Film About ‘The Room’

“It took eight months for [‘Why Him?’] to go ahead and I asked Bryan to play Sheriff in ‘In Dubious Battle,’ and then I directed ‘The Masterpiece’ and he did that too,” Franco explains in an interview with the South China Morning Post. “I asked if he would play himself, and he actually plays a version of himself from the early 2000s, so it’s Bryan Cranston from ‘Malcolm in the Middle.’ It just speaks to his love of cinema that he supports his fellow artists.”

READ MORE: ‘Best F(r)iends’ Trailer: Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero of ‘The Room’ Reunite for Bizarre Mortician Adventure

Though the casting might seem unusual, Franco is quick to point out that Cranston was best known for his comic chops before introducing the world to Walter White. “After ‘Breaking Bad,’ I think people had forgotten how Bryan is this great comedic actor — as that’s what he did for years and years,” Franco continues. “When we were filming ‘Why Him?,’ Bryan said to me, ‘This is the most fun I’ve had in a decade.'”

Warner Brothers will release “The Masterpiece” in theaters sometime in 2017.

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‘Generation KKK’: Ku Klux Klan Leaders Claim Producers Paid for Fake Scenes in Canceled A&E Series

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Without a single episode ever airing, “Generation KKK” has proven to be among the most controversial, talked-about shows of the year. The latest in the A&E docuseries’ saga — it had its title changed to “Escaping the KKK: A Documentary Series Exposing Hate in America” after public outcry and has since been canceled altogether after it was revealed that producers had paid interviewees — comes from Variety, who report that members of the Ku Klux Klan now allege that producers of the show paid them to fake scenes.

READ MORE: A&E Cancels Ku Klux Klan Series After It Stumbles with Another Holiday Headache

“We were betrayed by the producers and A&E,” said Richard Nichols, a Klan member who was to be featured on the series. “It was all made up — pretty much everything we said and did was fake and because that is what the film people told us to do and say.” He and others claim they were paid hundreds of dollars per day to distort the truth in a way that fit with the show’s preconceived narrative, which apparently emphasized the tension between members of the KKK and their relatives who wanted to leave. Variety spoke to more than two dozen participants of the show.

READ MORE: ‘Generation KKK’: A&E Changes Docuseries Title After Controversy, Partners With Civil Rights Leaders

Among the fabrications, according to those interviewees: being encouraged not to file taxes on the cash payments they received, being told what to say on camera and lie about their identities and being told that the documentary would represent what being part of the KKK is actually like. Multiple sources even claim the production team paid for material and equipment used to build and then burn wooden crosses.

“This show is not rehearsed or prepackaged,” Rob Sharenow, executive vice president and general manager of A&E and Lifetime, told the Hollywood Reporter on December 19. “These filmmakers knew that they weren’t going in making a reality show, they were making a hard-hitting series about a provocative subject.”

“Escaping the KKK” was originally scheduled to air its first episode on January 10. Variety’s full report may be found here.

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Tyler Perry Says Backlash Against His TLC Show’s White Cast Members is ‘Reverse Racism’

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Tyler Perry’s most recent television project, “Too Close to Home,” received backlash for having a predominately white cast. The filmmaker is known for creating projects that feature African-American actors and the change made some of his fans criticize his TLC show on social media.

Now, Perry is responding to those who have questioned his casting decisions by saying, “That’s totally reverse racism, because it was coming from African-American people,” he told The Associated Press.

“I don’t know if it was because they thought I should only be giving jobs to black people. Well, I think that’s ridiculous,” Perry added. “If you look at the hundreds of black people I’ve given jobs to and even the ones I’ve made millionaires, people of color, I just think it’s unfair.”

READ MORE: Tyler Perry Says He Still Has ‘Issues Getting Screens in White Neighborhoods’

Perry stated that his time traveling and interacting with different people has made him color-blind.

“I’m just finding out more as I travel the country and world, the more I meet people, we’re all the same,” he explained. “We all got the same dramas. So I’m not seeing color as much as I did anymore in the sense of our stories. Our stories are so similar.”

“Too Close to Home,” which premiered on TLC in August, tells the story of a Anna (Danielle Savre), a young woman who moves back home to Alabama after word gets out that she had an affair with the US president, and is forced to leave Washington, D.C. The series co-stars Kelly Sullivan, Brock O’Hurn, Matt Battaglia and Heather Locklear.

Perry’s most recent film was “Boo! A Madea Halloween” and he currently has the series “The Haves and the Have Nots” on OWN. The second half of the first season of “Too Close To Home” premieres January 4 on TLC.

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Box Office 2016 Wrap: How a Record Year-End Total Masks Big Troubles for Studios

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Surprise! The 2016 North American box office total is slightly higher than 2015’s $11.13 billion. Yes, the record has been broken (it should reach $11.4 billion). But that doesn’t mean record-breaking attendance; ultimately, it’s increased ticket prices that get the credit.

With minor inflation this year, theaters sold slightly more tickets in 2016. After a summer dip, it looked unlikely that the year could catch up with last year’s jumbo summer and holiday seasons, led by the year-end “Star Wars” reboot.

Check out why 2016 beat 2015 below, along with our box-office charts revealing the surprising theatrical winners and losers of the year — based not on grosses, but on real profits and losses.

“Finding Dory”

Disney/Pixar

The Good News

Smart opening dates elevated a majority of the top-grossers that were released outside the five prime months (May-July, November-December). That allowed more appealing films to thrive for longer periods with less competition, as well as fill in months often saddled with minor product. In this case, studios gave theater owners what they want.

Studios found fresh ways to avoid repeating old formulas within the tried-and-true parameters of high-budget projects. Many animated smashes (“Finding Dory,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Trolls,” “Zootopia” and “Sausage Party”) added more adult appeal and major stars to their worlds. Marvel took “Deadpool” in an R-rated, rom-com direction. D.C. Comics pushed dark “Suicide Squad” toward strong minority audience appeal and brought Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman together in the same film. Warner Bros. successfully reignited the gigantic Harry Potter audience by giving them a movie more aimed at grownups: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” And Lucasfilm opened up the Star Wars universe, starting with offshoot “Rogue One,” which will be the top 2016 release, both domestic and foreign.

Bringing in less coin were studios that showed less innovation on direct sequels such as the Jason Bourne, Star Trek, X-Men, and Independence Day franchises. All neared or surpassed $100 million, as did new wine from vintage classics “Ghostbusters,” “The Legend of Tarzan,” and “The Magnificent Seven.”

However, that doesn’t mean they all made money. “Ghostbusters” joins a rogue’s gallery of sequels and reboots that lost more than $100 million. And “The Magnificent Seven” could lose as much as $80 million.

Kids rule. Four of the top seven releases were either family-driven animation or live action. More than any other demographic, younger moviegoers with adult companions made the difference. But the older audience also remained steady, supporting a wide range of films with broad appeal. They had to make up for the ongoing decline in movie interest from older teens and millennials, who show up only some of the time.

“Deadpool”

The Bad News

Studios stake the future on narrow choices. Even as the two-hour movie is increasingly threatened, the studios continue to draw from the same pool of possibilities. So far, the year’s Top 20 releases mark a clear majority of the tickets sold. They include little variety. Seven are animated, seven are sequels, six are Marvel or D.C. Comics, two are remakes, one each build on the Harry Potter and Star Wars empires (several fall in more than one camp). Only one — original live-action comedy “Central Intelligence” — fell outside those categories.

Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood

Tom Hanks and Clint Eastwood

Shutterstock

Dramas are niche items. The year’s top drama is Clint Eastwood’s “Sully.” It’s certainly a success, but it’s not among the 20 highest grossers. It’s based on a true story. That leaves only one original, fictional, non-horror drama in the Top 50: “The Accountant.” That’s it.

The original drama is now, in theatrical release terms, a specialized offering. Qualifying are Oscar contenders “Manchester by the Sea,” “Hell or High Water,” musical “La La Land,” “Moonlight” and “Loving.” But they are not mass-market movies.

That ground has been shifting for a long time. It’s not that original dramas, including standalone non-series events, no longer exist. We’re in a golden age for creative writing in filmed media — but in television, not motion pictures. And with this shift, creative talent follows, depriving the movie industry of some (hardly all) of both current and future talent.

The gap between cinephile and popular taste has never been greater. Look at IndieWire’s survey of critics’ Ten Best lists. The total gross of the top 50 titles comes in at about three percent of box office receipts. No film on that list has grossed over $100 million (eventually, awards contenders “Arrival” and “La La Land” could make it).

Where’s the critical excitement as measured by today’s water cooler, social media? They’re sharing reactions to the latest streaming event on Netflix, FX, or HBO, from “Stranger Things” and “The Crown” to “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” and “Game of Thrones.” Yes, Star Wars, Marvel, Pixel and other movie events capture attention. But they are expensive investments that need reinvention to keep the excitement going.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”

The U.S. Comes Closer to the World

The Top 10 domestic and foreign almost match in 2016. In recent years, there have often been dramatic disparities between domestic and international rankings. That stabilized somewhat last year — did you know that “Furious 7” outgrossed “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” overseas?

This year, only the #9 and #10 domestic successes — “Suicide Squad” and “Doctor Strange” — didn’t make the international Top Ten.  (They placed #11 and #12.) And the current domestic #11, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” did only a tad better foreign.

The discrepancies come from the animated hits. “Finding Dory” likely ends up #2 at home, but #7 worldwide. For just about everything else, one size fits all. Which is the way the studios like it.

China makes a global hit. The #6 film in international totals is “The Mermaid.” The Chinese fantasy romantic comedy grossed $3.2 million in North America, placing #172 right now, with virtually no viewing outside theaters that cater to Chinese-Americans. Internationally they managed to top films like “Finding Dory,” “Deadpool,” and “Suicide Squad.” Chinese producers are making attempts to break into world markets — and American theaters — with films like Matt Damon vehicle “The Great Wall,” a holiday release at home, set for North American February 17 release from Universal. Domestic U.S. loser “Warcraft” was a global hit at $433 million, close to 60 percent from China.

Meantime, the studios are still homogenizing film production to a one-size-fits-all model. And that means less concern with the idiosyncrasies and demographics of American audiences. The 10 worst performers of the year each lost at least $100 million, and cost top executives at Paramount and Warner Bros. their jobs. Meanwhile, that variegated public is still out there, particularly among younger viewers, ripe for the picking by Netflix, cable networks, and other program providers.

2016 Winners

These figures are based on theatrical release profits, determined by estimating the final film rental (the percentage of the gross returned to studios, usually slightly less than half) versus production and marketing costs. “Rogue One” is an estimate of its ultimate gross. Other grosses are known. Production budgets are reported, but not always confirmed. Marketing costs are the least reliable figure. After each film’s title is listed the total worldwide gross and the budget. All films earn significant further earnings later non-theatrical revenues. Each of these winners accrued at least $250 million profit from ticket sales.

Top five most profitable films (worldwide, estimated and projected)

1. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Disney) – $est. global gross: $1.3 billion/budget: $200 million

2. Captain America (Disney) – $1,153 billion/$200 million

3. Zootopia (Disney) – $1.053 billion/$150 million

4. The Secret Life of Pets (Universal) -$875 million/$75 million

5. The Jungle Book (Disney) – $967 million/$175 million

Five less-expensive films with major profits

These films stood out among those that had significant worldwide grosses compared to their budgets. They are listed based on a combination of actual profits as well as multiple of gross to budget. Again, the worldwide gross and production budget are listed after the distributor. Sony is listed as distributor for “The Mermaid” since they released this Chinese film in the U.S., but it was not their production. The future wild card here is “La La Land,” which with its budget of $30 million, if it were to gross over $300 million, would qualify for inclusion.

1. The Mermaid (He He Pictures/Sony) – global gross: $553 million/budget: $61 million

2. The Conjuring 2 (Warner Bros.) – $320 million/$40 million

3. Me Before You (Warner Bros.) -$207 million/$20 million

4. Lights Out (Warner Bros.) – $149 million/$5  million

5. Don’t Breathe (Sony) – $153 million/$10 million

Losers

10 films that could lose $100 million

These assessments are conjectural, and with”Allied” and recent release “Assassin’s Creed” —  yet to open in some major territories — speculative. Again, all films will accrue revenues from later non-theatrical play.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (Disney) – global gross: $299 million/budget: $170 million

Allied (Paramount) – est. $120 million/$85 million

Assassin’s Creed (Warner Bros.) – est. $180 million/$125 million

Ben-Hur (Paramount) – $94 million/$100 million

The B.F.G. (Disney) – $179 million/$140 million

Deepwater Horizon (Lionsgate) – $119 million/$110 million

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Lionsgate) – $179 million/$110 million

Ghostbusters (Sony) – $229 million/$144 million

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (Universal) – $164 million/$115 million

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount) – $245 million/$135 million

 


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