With Apple TV+ launching this weekend, along with another of HBO’s prestige dramas in His Dark Materials, life in the entertainment world was fairly tame. I take that back – news­ was fairly tame. The industry is, well, not so much. We’ll talk about that later on as Hollywood assistants begin to fight back against an oppressive system. Then, we’ll lighten up with news on a collaboration between Trevor Noah and Paramount Pictures, Channing Tatum’s rekindling his old Dear John flame and some merch! Finally, a trio of trailers to prepare for the rest of the work week.

But! Before all that, a few headlines and the tiniest grain of an update on Rian Johnson’s Star Wars project.

  • Director of The Best Star War Rian Johnson spoke to Deadline this weekend, revealing that the vitriol he faced after The Last Jedi was funneled directly into his upcoming movie, Knives Out and even spawned an entire character. Relatedly, after the blessed news that Benioff and Weiss would no longer be helming a Star Wars trilogy, Johnson added that, even though his own future in the far-off galaxy has been quiet, he’s still in discussions with Lucasfilm.
  • Tamora Pierce‘s Tortall Universe book series is coming to television, thanks to Lionsgate and Playground Entertainment (Little Women, King Lear). Although a showrunner is still up in the air for now, Colin Callender, Scott Huff and David A. Stern will executive produce
  • YouTube series Hot Ones is getting even hotter with a cable TV gameshow on, what other network but TruTV. Sean Evans will host 20 episodes of the recently ordered Hot Ones: The Game Show. In it, teams of two will face off in pop culture trivia/chicken wing eating challenges. Look for this order to be up in Fall 2020.
  • Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Alita: Battle Angel, Sin City) has set his eyes on his next project which, coincidentally, is also the first in a strategic collaboration between Solstice and Studio 8. The film itself, called Hypnotic, is a sci-fi drama following a detective on the hunt for his missing daughter. He finds himself entangled in a secret government program and even investigates a series of heists. Holy buzzwords!
  • As if airlines weren’t bad enough, Delta flyers reported that in-flight versions of Booksmart and Rocketman were purged of their same-sex love scenes. Rightfully, the internet raged and, for once, someone listened. Delta announced that the censorship on these films would be lifted and a spokeswoman told Variety that the company is “immediately putting a new process in place for managing content available through Delta’s in-flight entertainment.”

And, since we’re on the topic of industry woes…

Hollywood assistants are sick of the status quo

The industry airs more of its dirty laundry this weekend as TV and film assistants speak out. Statistics and an overwhelming amount of testimonials reveal that they’re vastly underpaid for the cost of living in L.A. and utterly unappreciated. It’s all come to a head as assistants call for real change with #PayUpHollywood.

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According to a recent survey, assistants pull in just over $3,000 a month, in a city where the average income is double that amount. It doesn’t help that, even though most work 50 hours or more a week, they’re discouraged from asking for appropriate overtime pay. But that’s only considering the ones are actually paid. Half of Hollywood assistants working right out of college work unpaid internships and have to rely on someone else, or are working two or three more jobs.

Of course, as in many other industries, this has all become ‘part of the job.’ Those who can’t deal with it are told they’re in the wrong field – but #PayUpHollywood is turning the tables on that concept. Keep an eye on Liz Alps and Deirdre Mangan as they stoke the fires and campaign for fair wages and treatment of Hollywood assistants.

The Mandalorian tracks down Ming-Na Wen as a dangerous assassin

ming-na wen star wars

Vanity Fair had the exclusive reveal on Monday that Ming-Na Wen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Mulan) is set to appear in Disney+’s The Mandalorian. Her character, Fennec Shand, is an assassin who our titular bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) meets along his journey.

According to the interview, Fennec takes more than a name form the animal she’s associated with. Wen says her character is “tricky, and yet she’s able to maneuver and survive, and be stealthy—so very graceful and agile,” and even her braids are meant to evoke a fox’s ears. Her outfit, too is designed with the animal’s orange and black color scheme.

In a time when Disney is purging Rose Tico from its merch, Wen is also sure to bring up the importance of her character in the Star Wars canon. Fennec Shand, aside from being an apparent badass, is also the franchise’s first Asian woman to lean towards villainy. She tells VF “any sort of representation is important and necessary. And I’m just happy that I got chosen.”

For a first look at the character, head on over to VF, where they have an exclusive new teaser.

Trevor Noah and Paramount are bringing a young refugee’s story of chess success to silver screens

trevor noah paramount
Daily Show host Trevor Noah is working with Paramount Pictures on his next film endeavor.

Trevor Noah and Paramount Pictures have set their sights on a refugee’s story with acquisition of film rights. If you watch your local news, you might remember Tanitoluwa Adewumi and his family. Fleeing persecution, they immigrated to the States. Tanitoluwa, who was 8, enrolled in a public school, where he began learning chess and, just two years later, became renowned as one of the best players in his age group and going on to win the 2019 New York Chess Championship.

Noah and Paramount aren’t the first to notice the storytelling potential here, either. HarperCollins’ imprint W Publishing is planning three books following the Adewumis, set for a 2020 release. The movie will also lift scripting elements from those.

Noah of The Daily Show is set to produce the untitled project with fellow Day Zero Productions’ backer Haroon Saleem and a handful of others from State Street Pictures and Mainstay Entertainment. Together, this team’s resume includes Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood (another Noah and Paramount collab) and The Hate U Give.

Channing Tatum hooks up with Dear John writer for Soundtrack of Silence

channing tatum dear john

A Variety exclusive revealed that 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike star Channing Tatum is reuniting with the Dear John team for another romance flick; Soundtrack of Silence. If that title doesn’t already get the old tear ducts flowing, the premise probably will. Tatum plays college sophomore Matt Hay who finds out that his hearing is beginning to decay and will eventually be gone for good. He takes it upon himself, then, to commit each of his favorite songs to memory – especially those he connects with his current girlfriend (and future wife) Nora. And, yes, it’s a true story.

Jamie Linden, who adapted the Dear John screenplay, steps into scripting role here marking the first time he and Tatum have worked together since 2011’s Ten Year. Producers on Soundtrack of Silence include Free Association’s Reid Carolin and Peter Keirnan, Temple Hill’s Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner and John Fischer as well as Tatum.

Now, it’s not just cool to be a nerd – it’s Fashionable, too!

star wars/betty boop merch

In a galaxy far, far away, but still close enough that jeans exist, Levi has teamed up with Star Wars for some exclusive merch. It’s a limited edition collection, featuring streetwear-inspired clothes, accessories and more. The Star Wars x Levi collection’s vintage look is available online and in stores while supplies last. So, if you’re included in the Venn Diagram of jeans and jedi, you may want to head over for your very own denim jacket with the classic Star Wars poster design on the back.

In our own side of the galaxy, Betty Boop is celebrating her 90th anniversary in style thanks to the Nike x Olivia Kim No Cover collection. Nike announced that it’s rolling out a small line of Betty Boop themed apparel, as part of its collaboration with Nordstrom’s Creative Projects VP, Olivia Kim and Betty Boop brand owner, Fleischer Studios. If you’re a fan of the Jazz Age parody cartoon, make sure you check the hats, shoes and shirts coming out in 2020. Look closely and you’ll even notice Betty Boop’s iconic wink is replaced with the Nike swoosh!

Out with the young and in with the new to kick off this weekend’s trailer selection

HBO’s papal drama, The Young Pope is seeing a major shakeup with its latest trailer as Pius XIII (Jude Law) enters a coma. To replace him, in walks The New Pope, none other than John Malkovich. Based on this look, showrunner Paolo Sorrentino is determined to make this nine episode season just as trippy as the first. The white smoke will rise in January 2020.

Hoping to jumpstart its launch earlier this weekend, Apple TV+ dropped a trailer for its live-action kids’ show, Ghostwriter. The story begins when a ghost haunts a local bookstore and, in doing so, unleashes a whole slew of famous literary characters. It’s a remake of a PBS show of the same name that aired in the early ’90s and is available to watch now for subscribers.

Lakeith Stanfield. That is all.

Okay, not really. The Photograph is a sugary romance with a superstar cast, including two Insecure stars in Issa Rae and Y’lan NoelGet Out’s Lil Rel Howery and American Crime Story’s Courtney B. Vance. It’s produced by Will Packer (Girls Trip, Ride Along) and hits theaters next Valentine’s Day.

That’s a wrap for us! See you back here on Friday, with Edward Douglas’ overflowing entertainment knowledge.

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