Weinstein's 'judgment day;' Freeman accused; the fallout; Netflix briefly surpasses Disney; Facebook's new ad tools; "Solo" takes flight

By Brian Stelter and CNN's media team
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Exec summary: Reactions to Elon Musk's rant, Debra Lee leaving BET, John Avlon joining CNN, plus the rest of the day's media news... but first...

Weinstein will be arrested on rape charges

231 days have elapsed since the NYT's first story about Harvey Weinstein's treatment of women.

Variety's headline right now: "JUDGMENT DAY."

The NYT's headline: "Weinstein, Accused of Sex Assault, Is Facing Arrest."

CNN's Brynn Gingras confirms that Weinstein is expected to turn himself in to the NYPD Friday morning...

Camera crews will be there

Weinstein "will almost certainly be doing a perp walk," Deadline's Dominic Patten and Dawn C. Chmielewski report. 

They say Weinstein is estimated to arrive at a precinct at 7am Friday. After surrendering and going through the booking process, he will be "transferred in handcuffs to a Manhattan criminal court..." They quote a law enforcement official saying "this guy doesn't get to hide from the cameras for what he's done..."

What we know about the charges

More from Gingras: Weinstein is expected to face charges that "he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex on him, a source familiar with the investigation tells CNN. The first-degree and third-degree rape charges are from one case and the first-degree sex act charge is from a second case, according to the source." Read CNN's full report here...

Ronan's brand new story

Ronan Farrow just published this on The New Yorker website. He reports that "detectives from the NYPD's Special Victims Division Cold Case Squad, which handles unsolved crimes, led the effort to secure evidence against Weinstein." 

As Farrow and others have previously reported, there's been severe tension between the NYPD and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance's office. But Farrow says Vance's office "took the lead" in developing one of the two cases that "underpins" the expected arrest...

 --> Today in "things that are not a coincidence:" Local prosecutors are taking action barely 24 hours after the existence of a federal investigation was revealed...

 --> Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan will be on "Megyn Kelly Today" Friday morning...
CNN EXCLUSIVE

Morgan Freeman accused of inappropriate behavior, harassment

Chloe Melas emails: An Phung and I discovered a pattern of inappropriate behavior and harassment by Morgan Freeman during a months-long investigation that included interviews with 16 people. 

Eight of the 16 said they were victims of what some called harassment and others called inappropriate behavior by Freeman. The other eight said they witnessed Freeman's alleged conduct, which included unsolicited touching and staring.

One of the women claims Freeman attempted to lift up her skirt repeatedly on the set of the 2015 film "Going In Style," and asked if she was wearing underwear. A male employee claims he witnessed Freeman massage an intern, while another woman claims Freeman pressed himself up against her at a recent wrap party for a movie.

The pattern of the alleged behavior shows another example of the systematic problems that exist in the entertainment industry. The allegations against Freeman are not only about things that happened in private -- some of this allegedly happened in public, in front of witnesses, even in front of cameras. Read the full story here...

What prompted this investigation

Freeman made sexual comments to Melas during a movie junket interview last year. The incident is detailed in the story. "After the encounter with Freeman, Melas started making calls to see if other women had experienced anything similar, or whether this was an isolated incident. She soon learned that other women had similar stories -- and so she, and later her co-author, began this months-long reporting process..."

TheWrap wrote about the ethics of the decision here. CNN said in a statement: "Her efforts were supported by a robust editorial team, as well as her co-author An Phung, and together they carefully reported this story out over many months. Per CNN standards, it was rigorously vetted by senior editors throughout the process. Their piece is an example of investigative journalism at its finest."

Freeman's apology

A few hours after the story landed, Freeman issued an apology. He said "anyone who knows me or has worked with me knows I am not someone who would intentionally offend or knowingly make anyone feel uneasy. I apologize to anyone who felt uncomfortable or disrespected — that was never my intent."

The fallout

The Screen Actors Guild says it is in the process of determining what, if any, action will be necessary regarding his Lifetime Achievement Award. And "Entertainment Tonight" just published this: "Interview footage from past ET sit-downs with the Oscar-nominated actor shows more examples of questionable behavior, as described in the CNN report..."

 --> Melas will be on CNN's "New Day" around 6:45am Friday...
For the record, part one
 -- Best media biz story of the day: Shalini Ramachandran's really deep dive into ESPN... (WSJ)
 
 -- Netflix's market cap briefly surpassed Disney's market cap on Thursday, Paul R. La Monica reports... (CNNMoney)

 -- Hadas Gold's latest: Trump 2020's campaign manager and the chair of the RNC are asking social media companies "for guarantees they won't censor conservative content..." (CNN)

 -- Recommended reads about Elon Musk's media critique: Dylan Byers, Ben Smith, Felix Salmon, Jack Shafer...

 -- About President Trump's Thursday chat with Fox host Brian Kilmeade: Erik Wemple says it shows "how 'Fox & Friends' serves Trump..." (WashPost)

Debra Lee leaving BET

It's the end of a era with Debra Lee stepping down as chairman and CEO of BET.

As Deadline reports here, Lee has been working at the cabler since 1986. She became president in 1996 and CEO in 2005. She is BET. "I leave with pride, gratitude, and joy for a life-changing professional and personal journey," she told staffers on Thursday... She didn't specify what her "next chapter" will be...

John Avlon joining CNN full time

Good news all the way around: The Daily Beast's EIC for the past five years, John Avlon, is joining CNN full time. He'll be CNN's senior political analyst. Per CNN's press release, he will "have a daily presence on CNN's morning program 'New Day.' He will also serve as fill in anchor on CNN/U.S. programming" and he "will work closely with CNN's digital teams on original reporting and commentary."

At the Beast, Noah Shachtman is taking over as EIC. Here's his memo to staffers, titled "Welcome to The Daily Beast's third chapter..."
For the record, part two
 -- Thursday was Chris Cuomo's final day on "New Day..." Next week John Berman takes his place on the morning show, and on June 4 Cuomo moves to the 9pm hour... Check out the "New Day" send-off here... (CNN)

 -- Yashar Ali's latest: "How John Carreyrou battled corporate surveillance and intimidation to expose a multibillion-dollar Silicon Valley start-up as a fraud..." (NYMag)
 -- The Student Press Law Center is drawing attention to this case: "Texas principal censors paper, bans all editorials and ousts award-winning adviser..." (SPLC)

 -- Per Jeremy Barr: ABC's Brian Ross "is returning to the air for the first time since his suspension on Friday night's episode of '20/20.' The episode will air a nationwide investigation into murders committed by individuals who had been mandated to wear ankle bracelets for monitoring at the time of the crimes..." (THR)

What FB's new ad tools tell us

Donie O'Sullivan emails: Facebook rolled out some of its new ad transparency tools on Thursday. One of the tools shows you who is running political ads in the US. According to that, the Trump campaign has run a whopping 4,400 ads on Facebook in just over two weeks! Almost 300 of the ads run by the Trump campaign have mentioned "fake news." We broke down the numbers here...

And we have all the details on the initiative here...

Check out the database here

If you want to dig into the searchable archive of "ads with political content" that have appeared on Facebook or Instagram, here's the place to do it...
Quote of the day
"I may never cover a story this big. I may never have the opportunity that I have now, and I feel that I have to give it everything that I have. I am single and I live by myself and I have no other commitments. I work and that's what I do. I don't even have food in my apartment."

 --The NYT's Michael Schmidt in one of the episodes of "The Fourth Estate," premiering this Sunday on Showtime...

VOA honors Greta

Hadas Gold emails: Spotted at Thursday's Voice of America event at the Newseum honoring Greta Van Susteren and her new show: Jason Rezaian and his wife Yeganeh Salehi, Roberta McCain, Don Graham, Sam Feist, Rep. Mark Meadows, Sen. Jean Shaheen...

 >> Greta spoke: "I got fired from MSNBC and had nothing to do" before VOA came calling, she said, joking that she's not used to working with people who have won Pulitzers. "This was so much more exciting to me... It's so intellectually challenging..."

 >> Later, I asked Greta about reports that she's been talking with Sinclair and Newsmax -- she brushed them off as just conversations she's had with friends in the industry she's known for a long time....
For the record, part three
By Julia Waldow:

-- A must read: Annie Karni dives into the buzz surrounding George Conway's anti-Trump tweets, noting that "in conservative legal circles, his tweets are reverberating in a way that has not much at all to do with his wife" and a lot to do with "rebuking the silence of his fellow Federalist Society members..." (Politico)

-- ProPublica's created a newsletter about bloodstain pattern analysis to be released in tandem with "Blood Will Tell," its two-part investigation series conducted in partnership with The New York Times Magazine... (ProPublica)

-- Max Willens explains how Arc, the WashPost's tech platform, "is increasingly paying off for the newspaper company..." (Digiday)

Layoffs in San Antonio

"The San Antonio Express-News laid off 14 newsroom employees Wednesday and Thursday as parent company Hearst Corp. coordinates the operations of its newspapers throughout Texas," the paper reported Thursday. "Publisher Susan Pape attributed the layoffs to 'economic factors' and a desire to combine the company's resources across the state. She said the paper remains profitable."
The entertainment desk

"Solo" takes flight

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" opened in theaters Thursday evening. It'll do well -- but HOW well?

"The film will debut in 4,381 theaters this weekend, the widest May release ever, and industry tracking is suggesting a $130-150 million four-day opening," Box Office Mojo reports. "Given all the factors at play, a debut on the lower end of that range is currently looking like a better bet."

 >> Mojo notes that 2007's "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" set the "four-day Memorial Day weekend record, debuting with nearly $140 million..."

 >> Frank Pallotta adds: The film, which has had mixed reviews, is facing stiff competition in a crowded summer blockbuster season. Plus: It feels like there's a bit of "Star Wars" fatigue setting in, which I'll dig deeper into tomorrow...

Here's Lowry's review

"As 'Rogue One' demonstrated, there's a rich vein of material in 'Star Wars' prequels, just waiting to be mined," Brian Lowry writes.

He says "Solo" requires "considerable time to take flight, recovering from a messy, flat opening half before rallying and picking up speed down the stretch..."

New actors inhabiting old roles

Brian Lowry emails: A recent trend in blockbuster movies has been to "de-age" actors -- using digital wizardry to create younger versions of actors like Carrie Fisher, Sean Young and Jeff Bridges, and to even bring Paul Walker and Peter Cushing back from the dead. Given that, one of the simple pleasures of "Solo" is seeing Alden Ehrenreich and Donald Glover seek to inhabit the roles played by Harrison Ford and Billy Dee Williams...

Bateman apologizes

A mess for Netflix and "Arrested:" Jason Bateman found himself apologizing Thursday for seeming to not take seriously Jessica Walter tearfully talking about Jeffrey Tambor harassing her on the set of "Arrested Development," Lisa Respers France reports...
For the record, part four
 -- What's happening to Vevo? As usual, Peter Kafka can explain it best... (Recode)

-- BuzzFeed is developing a documentary on R. Kelly for Hulu...(Bloomberg)

 -- "Hair" will be NBC's next live musical... (THR)

 -- CBS has cancelled "Code Black" after three seasons... (EW)

 -- Kate Aurthur's sobering look at the many losers of the TV season: "For every Roseanne, there were 10 Valors..." (BuzzFeed)
HEY, WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THIS LETTER? Email your feedback and thoughts to brian.stelter@turner.com... the feedback helps us improve this newsletter every day... Thank you!
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