Marina Zenovich Previews What Happens in Hollywood: This Series Was Being Made at a Time of Reckoning
Marina Zenovich’s “What Happens in Hollywood,” a docuseries about sex and power behind the scenes, will premiere later this month on the Roku Channel. Part of Roku Originals, a collection of 75 short-form series originally produced for Quibi, “What Happens In Hollywood” is a candid 10-part docuseries that examines Hollywood’s role in framing society’s overall view of sex and sexuality.
The 100-minute series features forthright interviews with industry insiders including Robin Wright, Helen Hunt, Michelle Rodriguez, Minnie Driver, Melanie Griffith, Diane Williams, Karyn Kusama, Catherine Hardwicke, Maha Dakhil Jackson, Adele Lim, Freida Pinto, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Rosemary Rodriguez.
Zenovich, an Emmy winning writer-director of “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired,” interviewed subjects on a sound stage during the pandemic between June 2020 and October 2020. While the director says that convincing Hollywood A-listers to participate in the project wasn’t easy, it turned out to be exactly the right time for a film like this to be made.
“This series was being made at a time of reckoning, in terms of race, sexuality and equality,” says Zenovich. “That was what we were riding on. And everyone was stuck at home. So people who wanted to talk, they really had something. So I didn’t have to talk Robin Wright into it. She just said, “Yes.””
In the trailer, Wright reveals that a famous producer put his hand on her thigh while asking her if “she really wants this movie.” She didn’t sign on.
Originally produced for Quibi, the short-lived mobile entertainment startup led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, “What Happens in Hollywood” is among just 12 short-episode-format series that never launched on the now defunct platform.
Zenovich last helmed “Lance,” a 2020 two-part ESPN series about the life and career of Lance Armstrong. Her documentary directing credits also include “Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind” and “Fantastic Lies” in addition to “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired.”
“For far too long, Hollywood has only represented a limited perspective,” Roku’s head of alternative programming, Brian Tannenbaum said in a statement. “Through creating “What Happens in Hollywood,” we aimed to ignite a conversation on the broader cultural impacts the films we watch have on our society from gender disparity, industry power structures, sexual exploitation, fame, money and more.”
Roku unveiled the first batch of Roku Originals, a collection of 30 shows, in May. It’s not clear if “What Happens in Hollywood” will be among another batch being released in August or if the series will make a solo premiere.
In January, Roku paid less than $100 million for the Qubi’s assets and rebranded the 75 shows as Roku Originals. Roku kept the original episode lengths, about 10 minutes each that were originally designed for mobile viewing. Roku serves ads – 60 seconds or less — between Quibi episodes, not within them.
Zenovich says that while she’s “thrilled” that the series will premiere on Roku, she was never worried that the project might not stream somewhere.
“I always felt like this series was going to be seen somehow,” helmer says. “It was just a matter of when.”
“What Happens in Hollywood” will be available on the Roku Channel. In addition to Roku devices, the Roku Channel is available on Web, iOS and Android devices, Amazon Fire TV and select Samsung TVs and can be accessed internationally in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
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