Author Archives: Marc Snetiker

Incredibles 2 debuts new cast and characters

By | January 22, 2018

Scandal in Metroville: New secret identities have just been leaked!

Incredibles 2, Pixar’s long-awaited follow-up to its 2004 superhero smash, has kept both cast and plot as closely guarded as the blueprints to an underground lair, but the animation studio has now released a slew of new photos and details about the cast of characters flying into Incredibles 2 this June.

The core incredibly-powered Parr family — Holly Hunter, Craig T. Nelson, Sarah Vowell — is back, save for young Dash, who is now voiced by Huck Milner. Samuel L. Jackson’s loyal Frozone is also returning, as well as fashionista Edna Mode (voiced by the film’s writer and director, Brad Bird).

This time around it’s Elastigirl who finds herself in the fore of the adventure (and the danger), becoming the face of “a campaign to bring Supers back into the spotlight.” You’ll remember, from the first film, that Supers were forced to go underground, but perhaps Elastigirl and Mr. Incredible’s very public heroism during the movie’s climactic finale has since helped change public opinion. Meanwhile, Mr. Incredible is preoccupied with his own adventure at home managing baby Jack-Jack’s emerging powers.

Playing with last week’s mischievous art-history meme, Disney and Pixar have announced a handful of voice actors and characters joining the film. First up: Bob Odenkirk, playing a rich, suave telecommunications bigwig named Winston Deavor. He’s described as “big in everything he does—including his infatuation with Supers.” (An obsession that can never go wrong, right?) Linger over this juicy plot tease: “He has been a supporter of Supers returning—all he needs is a hero (or three) to help him change public perception and bring them back into the sunlight.”

Catherine Keener will play Winston’s genius sister, Evelyn, a tech-happy problem-solver and evidently the real brains behind the Deavors’ successful company.

A familiar face from the first film, Super Relocation Program agent Rick Dicker is now voiced by Odenkirk’s Better Call Saul costar Jonathan Banks (animation veteran Bud Luckey provided the character’s original gruff vocals). Tasked with keeping Super identities secret, “Rick takes his job very seriously — at least until his division is shuttered, leaving the Parrs all on their own.”

Another Super joins the mix with Sophia Bush, playing an overeager young Super and Elastigirl obsessive (which, again, definitely didn’t backfire last time). As her name suggests, Voyd’s abilities allow her to “divert and manipulate objects around her by creating voids that allow the objects to appear and disappear, and shift in space.”

Finally, rounding out the new cast is a foreign dignitary known only as Ambassador, played by Isabella Rossellini. Like Incredibles fans, she is very much in favor of the legal return of Supers.

Incredibles 2 flies into theaters June 15, 2018.

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Bernadette Peters debuts in Hello, Dolly! — first look

By | January 19, 2018

In one of the most anticipated Broadway casting replacements since the 45th Elphaba, one stage legend is stepping in for another as Bernadette Peters officially takes over the high, high headpieces of Bette Midler in Broadway’s still-hot Hello, Dolly! revival.

A first-look photo has been released as Peters prepares to officially begin performances in the Tony-winning production on Jan. 20 (Midler departed the show earlier this week). With her inheritance of the Dolly Levi mantle, Peters joins a list of former Dollys that includes Donna Murphy, Carol Channing, Ethel Merman, Ginger Rogers, Phyllis Diller, and other beloved actresses of the stage.

The cast as it stands now includes original members Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin, Will Burton, Melanie Moore, Jennifer Simard, and Kevin Ligon; Victor Garber has since stepped into the Horace Vandergelder role played by David Hyde Pierce, with Molly Griggs having taken over Minnie Fay from Lady Bird breakout Beanie Feldstein and Charlie Stemp making his debut as Barnaby Tucker as Taylor Trensch prepares to lead Dear Evan Hansen beginning Feb. 6.

Hello, Dolly! opened at Broadway’s Shubert Theatre on April 20, 2017.

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Aladdin soars on tour in Los Angeles

By | January 12, 2018

It’s not until the top of Aladdin’s second act that “A Whole New World” — the most famous song from the original 1992 animated classic and arguably the most well-known duet in Disney’s musical canon — arrives, and with it, a bit of still-inscrutable stage magic as incognito ruffian Aladdin and princess Jasmine fly a magic carpet across a bedazzled night sky. The stage effect and its effect are both tremendous, even for adult theatergoers but especially for young ones. Sitting beside a little boy of no more than seven, I watched out of the corner of my eye as awe visibly struck him when Aladdin and Jasmine took flight; he had, of course, expressed similar fascination during earlier moments in the show, like the Genie’s marathon musical introduction in act one. But it wasn’t until this ballad began, and the carpet’s aerial dance surged with a particular flourish both musical and technical, that the boy finally let a tear loose. And my first wish is to be able to say I didn’t almost shed one then, too.

Musicals, at their best, are defiant acts of wonder, but specifically with Aladdin, which opened the Los Angeles leg of its national tour at the Pantages Theatre on January 11, I was reminded of the restorative power of the musical stories that have emerged from Disney’s prized animation arm. Translated onto the Broadway stage in 2014, Aladdin followed other successful theatrical adaptations like The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, all bearing a sturdy story with memorable characters and more than a handful of beloved tunes. Aladdin, as one of the early favorites in the Disney Renaissance of the ‘90s (and one which just celebrated its 25th birthday in November), was more than well-primed for a new life on stage. Around town, I recall the show’s critical reception on Broadway falling closer to the temperature of a cool desert night than a sizzling day, but Aladdin has nevertheless proven itself as a successful mainstay on 42nd Street, playing above 98% capacity on average since opening almost four years ago.

Revisiting the show now on tour, it’s evident that age has not weathered any of the magical spirit that Aladdin brings, whether to Los Angeles or beyond. It’s a show built on a non-stop whirligig, with a book laced with hummus jokes (for the adults) and slapstick (for the kids, and maybe the adults, too) and a score that fills in Alan Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice’s existing suite with a few rich new baubles (“Babkak, Omar, Aladdin, Kassim” and “High Adventure,” both sung by Aladdin’s newly-created coterie of street buddies, are standouts). Chad Beguelin’s is a fast, funny script that may roll a few more eyes than heads, but to its great credit, it never lets up the pace, which in turn makes the slow moments (like villain Jafar and sidekick Iago’s vaudeville proscenium asides) slower, but also allows its dizziest runs—e.g. anything emerging from the show’s Genie du jour, Michael James Scott—to fly even faster.

Nuance comes singularly from Adam Jacobs, who originated the part of Aladdin on Broadway and whom audiences should count themselves lucky to see reprise the title role on tour. Jacobs is a boy wonder with a million-dollar smile (not to mention vibrato) and the kind of infectious enthusiasm that makes it easy for an audience to quickly champion — and if that’s our effortless act, his is in a fluent grasp of Aladdin’s charm. (We are, after all, rooting for a serial perjurer and criminal.) With such a long history in the role, Jacobs happily avoids the pitfall of many performers who can visibly sink too comfortably into roles they’ve played for an extended period of time (see: the minimal efforts of certain merry murderesses on Broadway). But Jacobs is far from comfortable — he’s confident, and his remains a performance as energized as it is endearing.

As a worthy foil, Something Rotten! breakout Scott inherits Tony winner James Monroe Iglehart’s star-making Genie slippers once again (having originated the part in Aladdin‘s Australian production). Scott’s act-one showstopper “Friend Like Me” is as effusive and breathless a performing act as his predecessor, but what Scott does with the Genie’s comic interstitials and de facto hosting duties manages to leave a wholly singular, indelible mark on a role that, even given director Casey Nicholaw’s re-imagination, still remains a tour-de-force part that’s just adjacent to impossible. Elsewhere in the cast, Isabelle McCalla plays a steely, acerbic Jasmine, while Aladdin’s pals (Mike Longo, Philippe Arroyo, and Zach Bencal) steal the parts of the show the Genie has left up for grabs.

Having not seen this production since the week of its Broadway premiere but having spent a few years getting comfortable with its cast album, I’ve come to develop a fondness for Aladdin’s efforts to become something entirely unique on stage, and successfully at that — treasures like the original Aladdin are deemed so for a reason. But as a director of another movie-turned-musical once told me (and I paraphrase), audiences may think they want to see a movie recaptured to the tiniest detail, but what they actually want is merely to recapture the feeling of watching it. At the end of the Arabian day, such is undeniably the case with this musical, as feeling is in plentiful supply where Genies beguile, deserts turn electric, and carpets fly astonishingly across skies. A-

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Incredibles 2 first look: Holly Hunter’s Elastigirl takes the lead

By | December 8, 2017

A version of this story appears in the First Look issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now or available here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

No, your eyes aren’t duping you — this is indeed a first glimpse at Incredibles 2, which, despite 14 years having passed in the real world, will find the superpowered Parr family exactly where you last saw them way back in 2004, only much sharper and slicker.

Incredibles 2 picks up, literally, where the first film left off, with Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl battling The Underminer, while Violet and Dash are stuck with babysitting Jack-Jack,” says writer-director Brad Bird, who has kept plot details about the highly-secretive sequel to his Pixar blockbuster under tight wraps. Save for a brief tease at Disney’s D23 fan expo this summer, “that’s all we’re saying for now,” Bird continues, “but rest assured, there are a lot more superheroics in store for our ‘family dynamic.’”

Being a story of superheroes, secrets have always been part of the DNA of The Incredibles. Identities, however, are out — original voice cast members Craig T. Nelson (Mr. Incredible/Bob), Holly Hunter (Elastigirl/Helen), Samuel L. Jackson (Frozone/Lucius), and Sarah Vowell (Violet) are all returning for the June 15, 2018 sequel, with newcomer Huck Milner now stepping in to voice speedy pre-teen Dash.

On the plot front, a chain of events in Incredibles 2 sends Elastigirl into the center of the action while Mr. Incredible, at home in the family’s sleek new hideout headquarters, must contend with baby Jack-Jack’s burgeoning new powers, as revealed in November’s record-breaking teaser trailer.

“Helen’s appetite for adventure comes to the fore,” says Hunter. “Whereas before, she was driven to become Mrs. Incredible out of necessity, where she went into it to save her husband, I think this time she really meets her own ambition head-on. The ambition of being an adventure is something that we get to explore.”

For Hunter, recording the first Incredibles film was a mysterious, abstract experience, as it can often be in the lengthy, fluid process of feature animation; after seeing the “stunning” end result, the Oscar winner was more than eager to fall back into the mystery again, especially as Bird’s sequel story revealed itself over time. “It’s always interesting when you have a storyteller who can take off the way that Brad can, and in a way, I feel that his storytelling abilities acquired a different kind of lift-off with this movie,” says the actress. “This time was so much fun because I know Brad so much better, and the way the story unfolded for me in the recording sessions has been kind of stratospheric. Brad’s imagination veers off into intensely funny stuff, and I find that so fresh. And of course, that also includes the character development of Helen throughout this second movie. It just feels really rich, and like… this guy is a true feminist.”

Helen/Elastigirl’s journey is, as Hunter puts it, “full-fledged,” filling in certain blanks about the super-mom’s life that Hunter relished uncovering, including “a real incredible sense of competitiveness and ambition. She throws down the gauntlet in this one. It’s so much fun to see a woman luxuriating in those two arenas, because women have for so many generations been brought up to not be ambitious or to not be competitive, and it’s fun to see Helen basking in those two arenas in much the same way that we give men license to do.”

What’s also exciting is seeing Mrs. Incredible (who, let’s add, deserved far more cred for being a game-changing movie superhero back in 2004) reappear onscreen at a time when female icons like Wonder Woman and Battle of the Sexes’ Billie Jean King are still reverberating in cinemas. “It feels like women are reasserting their strength in different ways,” says Hunter. “I just think it’s beautiful that Incredibles 2 is allowing Mrs. Incredible to reveal all these other different colors of who she is.”

Make no mistake, though: Red is definitely her color.

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A Wrinkle in Time drops four powerful new posters

By | December 6, 2017

With just a few months to go until A Wrinkle in Time leaps into theaters, Disney has dropped a handful of new posters for its anticipated adaptation of the fantasy classic, arriving March 2018.

Please direct your attention to Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon, and Storm Reid. The first three peerless women star as a trio of powerful, mystical guides — Mrs. Which, Who, and Whatsit, respectively — who escort a gifted if wayward girl named Meg Murry (Reid) around the cosmos as she searches for her missing scientist father (Chris Pine).

As the film’s new posters betray, all of late novelist Madeleine L’Engle’s characters have been colorfully imagined onscreen — emphasis here on that word, imagined — by some twist of the mind of genre-tessering director Ava DuVernay. (Paco Delgado’s dreamy costume designs certainly also provide a key assist.)

“My whole process with this film was, what if? What if it was different?” DuVernay said earlier this year when EW unveiled a first look at her take on the characters that have deep roots in many a fantasy-lover’s childhood. “The book is written very openly. It’s not nailed down, the way everything looks or even when it . I feel like working with Madeleine’s work, with her source material, it was an invitation for interpretation within it and we really went for that.”

The congregation of three powerful women, DuVernay says, “is a great archetype in literature, and I wondered, could we make them women of different ages, body types, races? Could we bring in culture, bring in history in their costumes? And in the women themselves, could we just reflect a fuller breadth of femininity?”

That’s reflected in the refreshing contrast between Wrinkle’s three A-list leaders (none of whom you’d be likely to find typecast for the same role), supporting actresses like Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bellamy Young, and Rowan Blanchard, and most importantly, in the movie’s young new warrior: Reid, a 14-year-old rising star about whom DuVernay speaks with a clear, almost infectious enthusiasm. “She’s a wonder. She’s trained, but she’s also a natural, so here you’ve got this natural ability that’s within a girl who really studies and takes it seriously as well. She cared about this character and she goes so deep in it. I saw a lot of girls, but there was only one Meg and she stood out early. And the world is in for a treat. Get ready. Get your umbrellas out. There’s a storm coming. All the Storm one-liners, I got ‘em all.”

A Wrinkle in Time thunders into theaters on March 9.

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Here are the next Pixar movies after Coco

By | November 23, 2017

Superheroes, toys, and suburban trolls are next up on the slate at award-winning animation studio Pixar, which released its first original film in two years — the Día de los Muertos-set adventure Coco — on Nov. 22.

Coming up: The first sequel to the superpowered comedy The Incredibles, followed shortly thereafter by the furtive third sequel to Toy Story. By 2020, we’ll be back in prime Pixar original territory, with director Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) working on a new feature set in a fantastical suburbia; meanwhile, directors Pete Docter (Inside Out) and Brian Fee (Cars 3) have also confirmed their work on new originals, although both projects should be considered strictly in the abstract until an official announcement comes down from Pixar. As it stands, the studio’s schedule holds three unassigned release date slots (March 13, 2020; June 19, 2020; and June 18, 2021). Here’s what we know:

INCREDIBLES 2Release Date: June 15, 2018
It’ll have been 14 years since we met the incredible Parr family, but things pick up exactly where they left off — seriously, exactly — when the family returns (with its original voice cast intact, save for young newcomer Huck Milner now playing the role of Dash). The sequel will shift its narrative gears ever so slightly, with Elastigirl stepping more into the “forefront of the action” (according to director Brad Bird) while Mr. Incredible takes on responsibilities at home, likely to do with his newfound discovery of baby son Jack-Jack’s powers. Meanwhile, the family’s sleek new house (perhaps now headquarters?) has been re-imagined as “a cross between a dream house and a super lair, secret agent hideout,” and Edna Mode has never been more popular. Excited? We can tell.

TOY STORY 4Release Date: June 21, 2019
A love story? A family road trip? A star vehicle for Bo Peep? All those elements may be at play in the fourth installment in the franchise, which ended its Andy trilogy and seemingly begins anew with Woody and the rest of the toy box now happily in the possession of young Bonnie. Details from the script are scarce, save for the promise of at least one romantic subplot as well as a behind-the-scenes video at D23 that teased the filmmakers’ curiously suggestive research trip: An RV vacation. Behind the camera, the movie also marks another kind of growing up: It’ll be the first time two former Pixar interns produce and direct one of the studio’s films together, with Jonas Rivera (Inside Out) producing while Josh Cooley, who was previously hired as co-director to John Lasseter, now directing Toy Story 4 full-time.

Goblins go grocery shopping and unicorns pillage your trash in director Dan Scanlon’s original film, a “modern suburban fantasy” that takes place in a humanless world reminiscent of everyday suburbia — except it happens to be populated by elves, trolls, and their fantastical ilk. Magic once existed here, but has essentially vanished; instead, the population here has allowed machines to accomplish both the mystical and the mundane in their lives. As they revealed at D23, Scanlon and producer Kori Rae’s film follows two teenage brother creatures as they embark on an adventure in search of a way to spend “one last magical day” with their late father. Prepare your tissues, because the movie is inspired by the Monsters University director’s own quest to learn about his father, who passed away at a young age.

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Lord of the Rings prequel: Should young Gollum be hot?

By | November 14, 2017

Nobody who watched The Empire Strikes Back ever really expected that young Darth Vader would one day look like Hayden Christensen, or that young Lord Voldemort would begin his Hogwarts tenure looking like this smokeshow, or that evil Magneto would be portrayed in his youth by problematically well-built actor Michael Fassbender.

Villains always start out hot, evidently, with the common trajectory appearing to follow these beautiful troubled men with splintered morals getting progressively less attractive over time. Nowhere in literature or pop culture has that journey been more physically manifest than in the granddaddy of descents into Dorian Gray-levels of disgusting: Gollum.

As you’ve no doubt heard, Amazon is unearthing Lord of the Rings for a big-budget TV series that, according to the network, will “explore new story lines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.” That means the series could theoretically place us in prime Hobbit years, when the mead flowed and the One Ring was an indie legend and everyone’s favorite halfling was still a walking, talking, stalking hobbit named Smeagol — and not, as he would later become after centuries of mystic influence, a waterlogged Shelley Duvall.

Gollum’s former life as humanoid Smeagol is one of those things that seems like an easily fathomable concept to at least glimpse in a prequel like this, wherein all you really need to satisfyingly tie a new series into the original IP is one key character return. (Even a mention will work; do you really think any of those independent Game of Thrones prequels won’t at least drop the name Targaryen, Lannister, or Baratheon in the first five minutes?) It’s pure fan service, but crossover characters are also smart marketing for Joe Elf from the flyover shires who casually saw every LOTR movie in theaters and would love to engage in this prequel, if Amazon will allow him at least one little familiar nugget to latch onto.

So the question is not so much what new territory will be explored in the prequel, but rather, which old characters will be introduced anew — and there’s frankly no Lord of the Rings without some version of Gollum. He comes part and parcel with the Ring, at least during the pre-Frodo centuries that the series would be wise to explore. And yes, your Gandalfs and Gimlis could also have their youthful moments, but best accept it now that young Smeagol is probably going to pop up on this show. And don’t be surprised if, when he does, producers have decided to make him a certified CW babe to make his eventual downfall all the more tragic.

“This isn’t surprising,” you cry. “Of course he was cute before the One Ring! He was a thriving hobbit before a descent into madness literally and figuratively sucked the beauty from his life!”

“NO,” you shout louder. “We already saw him in flashbacks and he was a 5, at best!”

No disrespect to Andy Serkis, but Gollum’s too-brief flashback scenes in Peter Jackson’s films ought not to be treated as a canonical aesthetic that renders Amazon’s Possible Hot Gollum impossible. Consider the Harry Potter movies, which showed a made-up Michael Gambon as a youthful Dumbledore who most definitely did not look like Jude Law. There is precedent! And so it’s perfectly fine to wonder whether young Gollum will show up bearing a jawline that can cut a slice of Lembas bread. Did Smeagol have an 8-pack before he became an emaciated toad-man? Do his chiseled muscles glisten with water from the Great River? Does he bear the cheekbones of a promising European actor like Bill Skarsgard or Nicholas Hoult who will seize the role, grow out his hair, and perform with such layers of wide-eyed mania that casual LOTR fans across the world will have no choice but to lean in and say, “O, what tragic beauty can greed and power ravage!” It’ll be pretty deep.

Gandalf, meanwhile, was obviously born looking like Ian McKellen, so that’s already settled, thanks.

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Can you match the celebrity to the animal they inexplicably voice in The Star?

By | November 14, 2017

The most interesting thing about the upcoming Christmas movie The Star is not the creative interpretation that a donkey saved modern Christianity, or that a retelling of the Nativity Story includes a hot pop ballad by Fifth Harmony, but that Oprah Winfrey voices a camel named Deborah. That, in and of itself, is just the tip of a fun series of sentences that you can bray this weekend to your friends when you find yourself explaining how a questionably-budgeted biblical cartoon somehow landed the unreasonably strongest voice ensemble cast of the year.

Technically, the star power of The Star is really just the mark of good agents and Hollywood intuition: Any actor would kill to score the residuals from a holiday staple, as one cast member in particular (Mariah Carey, who voices a *** named *******) must know all too well. But the real Christmas miracle is whether you can successfully guess which A- to C-lister was convinced to lend their voice to which Old Testamenty-sounding camel or camel-adjacent desert/farm animal in the film. The list of characters is, truly, a gift.

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Watch Gael Garcia Bernal make a run for it in Coco clip

By | November 7, 2017

Reviewers have already declared Coco an emotional triumph for Pixar — but ask the skeletons at the center of Coco what they have to declare, and they’ll have a far different answer.

EW has an exclusive extended look at one of the key scenes that first caught attention in the earliest trailers for Pixar’s next film, Coco, a Dia de los Muertos-set adventure in which a 12-year-old boy named Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) accidentally finds himself imbued with the premature and problematic ability to cross over to the Land of the Dead.

As it turns out, all that separates the underworld from the real world is a bridge of marigold flowers that has more security to it than a flower-based viaduct would have you assume — and in the scene in question, Miguel’s extended (and expired) family members try to get him past the border gate and into the Land of the Dead. Meanwhile, a street urchin named Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) is doing his best to get out, but in order to cross the bridge into the Land of the Living, one must be remembered by someone on their other side. At the very least, this can be accomplished by having one’s photo displayed on the traditional ofrenda in a family home — but Hector has no such representation. Thus, the desperation.

Disney/Pixar’s Coco hits theaters Nov. 22.

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Shameless cast, creator on how the show could end

By | November 3, 2017

There’s an accidental theme running through the eighth season of Shameless (premiering Nov. 5), and it’s proof positive that the Gallagher family, once known for their endlessly shocking schemes to squeeze cash out of both the criminal and the innocent, are finally growing.

“We’re not trying to do it with exactly a theme, but it’s true: As you grow older and you move from childhood into adulthood, you realize that you have responsibilities to more than yourself if you’re going to be successful,” says showrunner John Wells, who has shepherded the bawdy comedy for almost eight years as it’s transformed from an underrated Showtime gem to a surging streaming hit. “In the past, the family has held themselves together and found ways to keep eating by depending upon each other, but your world expands as you grow up and away and out from your family. Not that your family becomes less important, but the definition of what is your family becomes larger.”

In season 8, the Gallaghers have essentially all heeded the advice of older sister Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and inherited her selfless work ethic, taking on helpful roles in their own lanes and showing just how far they’ve come: A doggedly sober Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is now playing babysitter to both his former AA sponsor and old college professor; Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) is leading the charge for a program for neighborhood drug addicts; Ian (Cameron Monaghan) intervenes to stop a local minister’s harmful gay conversion program; and Fiona, now a building owner, is continuing to exercise her maternal instinct by tackling the problems of her disenfranchised tenants.

Some of the more outrageous get-rich-quick shenanigans of early seasons are seemingly gone (emphasis on seemingly — there’s still at least one act of grave robbery that’ll have you clutching your pearls). But if it feels like the Gallagher clan has been experiencing a widespread maturation in recent seasons, perhaps it’s time to answer a question that’s been bubbling up for some time: How do you end a show like Shameless?

If the Gallaghers really are growing into better, steadier versions of themselves, their fates are a conversation worth exploring as the show enters its eighth year. Would it be more satisfying for fans to bid farewell to the series if they saw all the Gallagher kids spread their wings and fly off on their own, thriving in new communities by applying the same survival instinct that once helped them transcend their troubled circumstances? Or do fans actually want the Gallaghers to never leave each other, remaining in that house on the South Side until the series’ final shot, adding layers to their collective lives instead of departing to start entirely independent ones?

Wells admits that the pool of possible endgames has furtively crept into the writers’ minds as later seasons have arrived. With the series’ sudden surge in popularity on streaming, there’s no end on the schedule, but its logic is coming into focus. “As compared to what we did when we were doing China Beach, where their deployment ends and people go home, this show, on the other hand, these fictional characters’ lives will continue for another 60, 70 years,” says the veteran producer. “We can write it forever, because things are going to keep happening to them. I suspect on this show, we’re much more likely to just walk away on a Tuesday and let the audience feel like the Gallaghers are out there and doing okay, rather than some calamitous event — the hospital’s closing! The war is over! The president is leaving office! This is really just a story about a family’s life, and going through whatever struggles they’re going through.”

“More than likely,” Wells continues, “we’ll probably just drop out of it at some point, likely when some of the cast members decide they don’t want to continue anymore. That’ll probably be the end of the show more than anything else.”

On a recent visit to the show’s Los Angeles set, EW met a cast that showed little sign of apathy; they continue to champion the unexpected story lines, unique character growth, and tight-knit interconnectedness that the show’s little-engine-that-could trajectory has afforded its ensemble. But all good shows must come to an end sometime, and William H. Macy, who plays patriarch Frank (another character who, in an uncharacteristic act of maturity, actually gets sober this season), suspects that the show may in fact finish its sleeper-hit run in a not-quite-distant future.

“When we finished season 7, that was supposed to be the end of it, and I started to entertain the notion of life after Shameless for me,” says Macy, who earned his fourth Emmy nomination for the role this year. “I gave some thought to it — a little bit — about how we would end. But I think that’s not upon us. Not yet. I think we’ll do another season, perhaps two more.”

Loyal viewers, herein lies another question of storytelling satisfaction worth debating: Should Shameless depart this earth when Frank Gallagher does?

Rossum told EW last year that “the show, for me, has always ended with Frank dying, because I don’t think there’s any way you treat your body that way. We’ve seen him skirt death so many times… or maybe he’s just that cockroach that will never die.” Macy, meanwhile, hasn’t yet decided whether the fate of the Gallagher family hinges on its most absent member. Perhaps it’s because Frank is far from the type of character you could ever predict, and Macy, who decided several seasons ago to stop receiving tips about Frank’s season arcs, prefers to see what shakes out. “The line has been floated several times that Frank’s a cockroach,” says Macy. “He’ll survive a thermonuclear blast. He should have been dead a long,

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How long can Kevin wait to hook up with Leah Remini? (Week 4)

By | October 16, 2017

Breaking news from Kevin Can Wait land: Vanessa has a boyfriend! Or, had a boyfriend! This is a disarmingly large development but one which, frankly, we should have seen coming. All this time, we’ve I’ve been asking ourselves the muted void, “When will Kevin move on from his wife’s network-approved death and test the romantic waters with new series regular Leah Remini?” but I’ve never once stopped to ask: What does Vanessa’s love life even look like? Does she, too, have a spouse who died in a freak network scheduling accident?

As it turns out, Vanessa has been dating a doctor — a hunky doctor, in fact, with a very ambiguously hunky name: Trent. (Of all the hills I may die on with this column, please don’t use my opinion of the name Trent as one of them.) But things don’t go well once Kevin meddles, and soon, sexy dermatologist Trent exits the picture right before he was supposed to escort Vanessa to her sister’s wedding. The high visibility of the event is especially important because Vanessa’s disproving father (Chazz Palminteri, obviously) is expecting to see his daughter with the very eligible plus-one he’s been hearing so much about. So, to help Vanessa maintain the optics of having a successful doctor boyfriend, Kevin shows up as her surprise wedding date — and pretends that he’s the Trent with the medical degree! (As any fan knows, Kevin does not have a license to practice medicine, suggesting that this will be one wacky turn of events!)

Fortunately, both because of King of Queens and because the writers have just decided that this is the new normal, Vanessa and Kevin have the instant chemistry of Shakespearean soulmates and cause quite a stir at the wedding. They dance (and definitely out-salsa Vanessa’s father!) and banter (in a comical/humorous way!) and they’re getting the perfect amount of attention on the dance floor until — uh oh — Kevin insists on dipping Vanessa. Spoiler alert: It does not go well! Vanessa falls, and it’s super embarrassing!

Vanessa’s father uses the dance floor slippage to basically announce that the whole relationship is a flop because his daughter is unreliable, an outrageous sentiment that forces Kevin to stand up for her and say, “If I had to pick one person to rely on in this world, it would be Vanessa!” Off screen, the ghost of Donna rolls over in her .

Moved that Kevin stood up for her and that he watched four hours of salsa lessons on YouTube, Vanessa gingerly touches his shoulder and thanks him. “It’s what friends do,” he replies. Their stares linger. Tension rises. This is the moment. Then Kevin makes a joke about a chocolate fondue fountain. The episode ends.

So, did Kevin and Vanessa hook up in week 4? No, of course not — but in the long journey of Kevin rebounding, the “let’s pretend to be platonic dates” episode is a major step forward. Also, the writers pulled a sneaky move here: Vanessa says she’s not ready for a relationship, and Kevin says, “It doesn’t matter if you’re ready, okay? Love doesn’t have a clock!” It’s almost as if the character is safely testing out this philosophy on someone else’s life so that viewers can count him in the clear when he no doubt applies this logic to his own life when the time comes! I don’t know — just a theory! We have fun here.

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Whoopi Goldberg to lead Damn Yankees with Maggie Gyllenhaal

By | October 13, 2017

For one night only, former fictional nun Whoopi Goldberg will switch gears and play the fictional devil in a benefit concert performance of Damn Yankees.

Maggie Gyllenhaal will play Lola and James Earl Jones will play baseball team owner Mr. Welch opposite Goldberg’s Applegate in the special reading of the Tony-winning 1955 musical, which follows a frustrated baseball fan who sells his soul to the devil in order to help his favorite team win.

The show — penned by George Abbott, Douglass Wallop, Richard Adler, and Jerry Ross — is a beloved classic musical and was last revived on Broadway in 1994 with Victor Garber and Bebe Neuwirth.

Kathleen Marshall will direct the one-night-only concert, which will take place on Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre. The reading is presented through arrangement with Jeffrey Richards, Jerry Frankel, and Scott Landis, with proceeds benefitting Roundabout Theatre Company’s series of initiatives (including a theatrical education program).

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How long can Kevin wait to hook up with Leah Remini? (Week 3)

By | October 10, 2017

There’s a formula to the new Kevin Can Wait, and it goes like this: Kevin and Vanessa have a workplace scene where they talk about something vaguely job-related (this week: Kevin has the wackiest decorations for their shared office!). Then, Vanessa inexplicably shows up at Kevin’s house in the morning as he’s shepherding his children off to school, helping herself to a cup of coffee and securing her involvement as the sole feminine adult voice of reason in the domestic sphere (“Isn’t it obvious? Sara has a boyfriend!”). Then, they’re back at the workplace again, bantering once more over office squabbles (Kevin wants to rename the firm Monkey Fist Security!) until Vanessa can swoop into Kevin’s family’s story line again to be the maternal figure that the family so tragically fired after season 1.

The interesting thing is, the kids presently don’t seem to even really notice Vanessa. Sara walks out of the kitchen in the morning without even acknowledging the woman’s presence, and later has a deep meaningful conversation in her bedroom (entirely offscreen, BTW) with her dad’s strangely comfortable new business partner. Meanwhile, young son Jack doesn’t even look in her direction, and oldest daughter Kendra, for whom Vanessa orchestrated a wedding, is nonplussed. It’s almost as if she is simply the ghost of a woman stuck in the Gable family kitchen. In unrelated news, Donna is mentioned twice this episode with another round of unconvincing “I wish she was here”s.

Anyway, there was potential for physical contact this week, as Vanessa and Kevin almost found themselves at the center of a reluctant couples’ skate routine! But no way — they’re just friends! And friends wouldn’t be caught dead on a dance floor together, no sir! Like Vice President Pence alone at a dinner with any distinguished female colleague who isn’t his wife, it just won’t happen! Instead, Vanessa and Kevin stick to a light repartee this week: Kevin claims he’s “both a mother and a father,” and Vanessa quips, “Turns out you’re one dumb motherfather!” Credit where it’s due: I giggled!

So, did Kevin and Vanessa hook up in week 3? Far from it! They wouldn’t even go skating together! Try again!

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How long can Kevin wait to hook up with Leah Remini? (Week 2)

By | October 2, 2017

Last week, Kevin Can Wait revealed how it would handle the death of Erinn Hayes’ character, Donna: not by showing tears or tragedy, but by the arrival of a random letter from Donna’s former gym that led eldest daughter Kendra to simply state the new status quo: “It’s been over a year since she died.” And that was, quite literally, all we got. Donna non grata.

Thus, Kevin Gable (played by Kevin James, which, man, I hope you knew by now) is now free to experience life in season 2 as a single dad – which could possibly mean falling for his new business partner, Vanessa, played by convenient new series regular Leah Remini. Of course, the show is not a reboot of King of Queens, so don’t get any crazy ideas!

In week two of season 2, Kevin has launched into full dad mode. He’s making lunches, over-attending lacrosse practices, and even doing laundry (but using salad tongs to fold his daughters’ undergarments, because duh, he’s a boy!). “Ever since mom passed away, you have been incredible — really involved!” says Kendra, honoring Donna’s memory with another brief mention. Still, Kevin’s overinvolvement is getting to be too suffocating for Kendra and her two other siblings who definitely have names, so she hatches a plan with older lady-friend Vanessa to get Kevin back to work — and out of their hair!

Vanessa enters, and she’s already the type of character who can walk into the family’s kitchen with a “hey hey!” and plop her stuff down on the table while revealing her story line this week: recruiting Kevin for a job to help serve someone divorce papers. Vanessa runs a private security firm, and she wants Kevin to play process server for a quick assignment. Kevin reluctantly gives up his full-time dad work and helps out, much to the delight of Kendra and the children!

Kevin and Vanessa banter their way through their first stakeout (where Kevin forces Vanessa to trade cheeseburgers with him, only to reverse the swap because hers has lipstick on it, gross!) but are unsuccessful. At Vanessa’s office, Kevin mistakenly tells one of Vanessa’s employees that he’s better at the job than Vanessa is — oops! Foot, meet mouth! Later, the duo wind up at a carnival, where they finally serve papers and complete their assignment. During one single moment of quiet vulnerability, Kevin reveals to Vanessa that he’s been “living in a cocoon since Donna” and isn’t fully ready to go back into the workforce, betraying the suffering of a shell of a man whose harrowing psychological journey as a widower has begun to take its emotional toll. And then, Vanessa says Kevin is a ‘fraidy cat, so they go on a carnival slingshot ride! And let me tell you, reader, it seems like Kevin can barely wait to get off that thing! His facial expressions suggest he would rather be anywhere else!

Did Kevin and Vanessa hook up in week 2? No. No, they didn’t.

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The 5 people you only ever Google in October

By | October 2, 2017

Do not, for one moment, pretend that the power of the smartphone does not pay off some of its greatest unnecessary dividends during the fall months. As autumn sets in, it’s simply tradition to grab your coziest chunky knit and revisit dozens of your favorite seasonal movies (or, let’s be honest, the exact same five every time), only to find yourself asking the same question each and every year: Wait, who is that guy in Hocus Pocus?!

1. Kimberly J. Brown

The numbers don’t lie. The star of 1998’s Halloweentown — who for years has been low-key selling homemade merchandise with quotes from the movie in a personal Etsy shop — is the very epitome of the seasonal Google search. To many, Brown is the Jennifer Lawrence of late-‘90s Disney Channel original movies — her work in Halloweentown as a girl who LOVES Halloween is rivaled only by her work in Quints as a girl who HATES being a big sister! — but to many more, Brown’s annual reappearance on television almost feels like a secret taunt from the gods just daring you to go look up what her Wikipedia possibly has to say. Or whether she even has one.

2. Omri Katz

The demand for the IMDb page of the accessibly milquetoast lead of Hocus Pocus tends to start in late September before hitting an inevitable, incredible peak during the week of Halloween, when drunk millennials screen Hocus Pocus for the sixth time that month and wonder aloud whether Omri Katz ever did anything interesting beyond the 1993 Kathy Najimy vehicle. (SPOILER: He didn’t, unless you count The John Larroquette Show, which you shouldn’t.) Katz’s Hocus Pocus costars — Ghost World actress Thora Birch and walking typo Vinessa Shaw — both pull in surprisingly more year-round searches, according to Google trends. If it’s any consolation, the name “Thackery Binks” tends to get the same Halloween search bump as Katz, so there’s that, but he’s also not real, so there’s that, too.

3. Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas

Do you want official proof that The Nightmare Before Christmas is a Halloween movie? Yeah? Tell me how much you love my incontrovertible evidence that people only search for Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas on Halloween — decidedly NOT on Christmas. Of course, in all likelihood, this is probably just because of the high demand for Sally costume and makeup tutorials (congratulations on your unique idea!) but the data nevertheless shows that most people only truly care about this colorful claymation Lana Del Rey during the month of October. Yes, there is a bump in searches for both Jack Skellington and the actual movie itself at Christmastime, but those festive numbers pale in comparison to the spooky traffic during Halloween, therein conclusively settling a long-simmering debate that’s torn apart many a couch of stoners for five minutes every year.

4. Robert Rusler

So technically, this one isn’t supported by Google trend statistics — but it’s only because you really don’t know what you want. I’d like to anecdotally submit and shame certain horror-loving horndogs in my life who are always guilty of Googling (and texting me about) “the shirtless guy from Nightmare on Elm Street 2.” And look, I get it. His name is Robert Rusler, and he played problematically-hot jock Ron Grady in the second Freddy Krueger movie, memorably getting sliced up in his bedroom after a brief, abdominally-blessed display that turned many a male and female gaze in 1985. And, evidently, 2017.

5. Raúl Juliá

It’s slightly surprising that The Addams Family clocks in so highly in general search terms during October — surprising, I suppose, if only because those characters are far more iconic and famous for more than just their seasonal vibes. Nevertheless, the Addams clan must be especially creepy and kooky in the pumpkin-spice months, given how internet interest in the family spikes dramatically each year around this time. On a micro level, Raúl Juliá — the greatest Gomez Addams we have until Oscar Isaac decides to grow out his mustache — gets a noticeable search bump every year, more than any other principal cast member from the 1991 or 1993 films, presumably because of the 23 years’ worth of viewers who are unfamiliar with the prolific Puerto Rican actor (who died in 1994) but still want to know who managed to dip Anjelica Huston so low.

6. HONORABLE MENTION: Christina Ricci

The facts may say you’re consistently looking up Devon Sawa throughout the year (LOL, okay), but there are some noticeable if not totally scientifically sound peaks for Christina Ricci during certain Octobers. And look, I don’t care what the facts say. If you’re watching Addams Family or Casper every year and aren’t finding yourself consistently deep into a Sleepy Hollow rabbit hole by the end of the night, you don’t even deserve to have Amy Brenneman float down and give you a pep talk about unfinished business.

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How long can Kevin wait to hook up with Leah Remini?

By | September 25, 2017

Erinn Hayes has a lengthy list of credits on her résumé, including guest appearances on Parks & Recreation, New Girl, The League, Two and a Half Men, and Parenthood. But most fans probably know her as the actress who was fired over the summer from CBS sitcom Kevin Can Wait. Hayes’ character, Donna, was killed off during the off-season in order to turn her onscreen husband, played by Kevin James, into a widower — a twist meant to give him more “drive” this season. And then, by total and complete coincidence, James’ former King of Queens costar Leah Remini joined the cast full-time after a well-received guest turn in the first season. With Remini now a series regular in season 2, the stage is thus set for an all-but-inevitable rekindling of that James-Remini connection — he, now a single dad just trying to keep it together, and her, now a hard-boiled detective and his new boss. The flirty banter writes itself!

But hey, listen — maybe the romance won’t happen, right? Maybe Kevin can wait to rebound. Maybe he and Vanessa (Remini) won’t do exactly what the executive producer says they’re “not trying to” do. Maybe the characters will just stay work partners, as James insists they are “at this point,” and maybe they won’t eventually mirror the romantic working-class-couple dynamic of King of Queens! And look, maybe there really won’t be any spark between the two, despite the CBS president lauding the “undeniable spark” between the two when Remini first guest starred last year!

Maybe they won’t, but they almost probably certainly definitely will.

All season long, I volunteer as tribute to keep a watchful eye on Kevin Can Wait. Out of respect for both the Ghost of Donna™ and for the millions of curious Americans who don’t watch Kevin Can Wait but still want to know how long the show will try to pretend that Kevin and Not-Carrie-Heffernan aren’t love interests, I will report back. Will Kevin and Vanessa share their first tender moment of vulnerability by the time the Thanksgiving feel-goods roll around? Will their first skin-on-skin contact — a stolen hand hold, a sustained hug — arrive with the festive coziness of Christmas or the lovelorn woe of Valentine’s Day? Which week of 2018 sweeps will betray the pair’s first kiss, or at least their wacky first attempt at it? Or will none of this come to pass and we’ll once again be forced to turn to Fuller House as TV’s best display of largely sexless situational comedy?

Kevin Can Wait‘s season premiere alone proves that our journey is not for naught, given that the premiere tilts wildly in favor of an eventual romance for one key reason: Kevin has one year of grief already under his belt. Following the off-screen demise of Donna (whose cause of death was rudely not even mentioned), the premiere finds Kevin scrapping together a quickie wedding for his daughter Kendra when her boyfriend Chale’s visa expires; Vanessa gets involved by helping Kevin and throwing Kendra an impromptu bachelorette “party,” etc. It’s exactly the kind of “You were there for me when I needed you most” situation that we could easily find ourselves referring back to later in the season. And by then, we’ll have had enough time pass in addition to the year time-jump that will thus give Kevin the benefit of the doubt that enough clocks have appropriately ticked by for him to begin the TV tango of how to tastefully rebound when the network unexpectedly kills off your wife.

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First listen: Hear three new songs from Pixar’s Coco

By | September 15, 2017

Pixar’s latest might have you dabbing your eyes, but it’s also likely you’ll catch yourself humming more than a few new tunes as you dance out of the theater in November.

Coco is not exactly Pixar’s first musical — certainly not in the traditional break-into-song sense of the word — but it is the studio’s most music-driven film yet, telling the story of a young boy with a serious penchant for guitar who traces his passion for performing back to his ancestors, by way of an accidental trip to the Land of the Dead whereupon he learns just why his family has banned music for generations.

Along the journey, there’s no lack of diegetic songs, especially by the film’s fanciful main characters: 12-year-old Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), his skeletal sidekick Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal), and Miguel’s late musical idol, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt). While Gonzalez and Bratt have both already performed one of their songs at Disney’s biennial fan expo this summer, you can thank the guise of animation for even allowing Bernal to grace us with a vibrato: “I couldn’t do that otherwise!” laughs the actor. “But singing through the character lets us non-professional singers be able to actually do it in front of people.”

Ahead of Coco’s November 22 release, EW has a first listen to three of the songs that you’ll see — well, hear — fully rendered in Disney/Pixar glory in the film (and on the soundtrack, available Nov. 10).

The first: “Remember Me,” which you’ll quickly come to know as the signature song of Bratt’s character Ernesto de la Cruz and perhaps the film itself. Why is it so catchy? The bolero ranchero-style song (an homage to the Mexican Corrido style folk ballad of the ‘20s and ‘30s) is written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, the Oscar-winning team behind Frozen.

Second: “Un Poco Loco,” a delightful tune that Miguel and Hector find themselves performing on the fly at a talent show in the Land of the Dead. Written by Germaine Franco (Dope, Shovel Buddies) with lyrics by Coco’s co-director/screenwriter Adrian Molina, the son jarocho-style song pulls in indigenous, African, and Spanish musical elements (and seems to be a prime example of director Lee Unkrich and the filmmakers’ serious dedication to its key cultural advisors and research trips).

Finally, take a listen to “The World Es Mi Familia,” a Huapango-inspired song (once again written by Franco and Molina) which Miguel sings in a bid to capture the attention of Ernesto de la Cruz. Spoiler: He gets it.

Coco hits theaters Nov. 22.

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There is only one Disney movie Easter egg worth talking about

By | September 14, 2017

Congratulations on finding the Pizza Planet truck in WALL-E! Pat yourself on the back for noticing Scar’s fur in Hercules! Go tell it on the mountain that you saw the back of Rapunzel’s head in Frozen!

All of those fun hidden gems in Disney movies have provided a wonderful and delightful diversion for the Internet over these past few decades, begetting many a “The one thing you never realized!” hot take and all sorts of “Betcha never noticed” lists of Easter eggs (that, really, you always find yourself reading and thinking, “Did people really not notice this?”).

But those all pale in comparison to what I consider to be far and away the best secret hidden in a Disney animated movie — five movies, actually — and I’m not here to tell you that they’re something you’ve never noticed. In fact, I hope exactly the opposite. I believe there has only ever been — and will only ever be — one Easter egg in Disney movies worth discussing: Directors Ron Clements and John Musker putting themselves in almost every animated movie they’ve made.

Clements and Musker are the one-two punch team who directed a wide-enough variety of the studio’s late ’80s-and-onward animated films that there’s an extremely high chance at least one of theirs is a favorite of yours. Unfortunately, when their directing tenure began with The Great Mouse Detective in 1986, Clements and Musker had not yet stumbled into what would become the legendary pair’s gleefully grand tradition of inserting ‘toon versions of themselves into their features.

Some have argued, admirably, that in The Great Mouse Detective, Basil of Baker Street bears a vague resemblance to the taller, lankier Musker, while Dr. David Dawson is more notably built like the shorter Clements. This, regrettably, is just coincidence (and a heck of a stretch anyway).

More inaccurate, though, is a widely misinterpreted pair of characters (below, on the left) in Clements and Musker’s 1989 classic, The Little Mermaid. The dead giveaway on both Mouse and Mermaid: a key lack of the “Clements” beard.

(Also, if you were going to put yourself into The Little Mermaid, would you honestly put yourself in a Vanessa scene?!)

The directors’ cameos truly began with 1992’s Aladdin, and they would only get more creative with every onscreen turn. In Aladdin, Clements and Musker appear early in the film, flanking Aladdin on the streets of Agrabah as he pushes his way through the crowd to confront a cruel prince in the street. We won’t talk about how Clements and Musker’s skin tone basically matches Aladdin’s here… but that fez is top-notch.

Five years later, 1997’s Hercules would offer the duo an unexpectedly sexy makeover, casting them as pectorally-gifted manual laborers whose marble marketplace is destroyed by Young Herc.

Treasure Planet, that 2002 movie you obviously totally for sure saw, found the directors breaking from human tradition in a clever way: Clements became a furry little alien while Musker transformed into a rail-thin robot. Really, of all the pair’s appearances, it’s this C-3PO/Ewok partnership that probably has the most interesting backstory (to say nothing of the probably-hilarious concept art).

By 2009, we revert back to the most true-to-life iterations we’ll get of the two directors. In The Princess and the Frog, the duo is rendered quite realistically when they pop up as Mardi Gras celebrants — on a King Triton float, no less — and toss out beads. One mystery we’ll never quite know is why Clements looks so maliciously excited to be there.

Finally, 2016 brings us to the pair’s last collaboration, Moana. And yes, not only is there one perfect Easter egg appearance in plain sight, but there’s a secret second cameo. You can see a surefire representation of the gentlemen in one of the many tapa cloths in the film, but the directors have also suggested that their now-classic physiological juxtaposition served, perhaps jokingly, as the original basis for the rooster Hei-Hei and the pig Pua.

So, no, there is absolutely nothing wrong with geeking out at seeing a porcelain Beast in the Sultan’s toy pile in Aladdin or nabbing a glimpse at Mickey in A Goofy Movie — that indescribable euphoria of spotting an Easter egg, especially anywhere in the cherished Disney canon, is one of the purest little feelings a movie lover can have. But catch me at the next Clements-Musker joint checking that reel frame by frame for the two most bad-ass characters in the Disneyverse.

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Ally McBeal, original queen of GIFs

By | September 8, 2017

In a lot of ways, Ally McBeal has one of the more interesting legacies of late ‘90s television. David E. Kelley’s 1997-2002 dramedy jumpstarted certain conversations about modern feminism — one TIME cover even questioned whether the show killed it — while also earning fond remembrances on more unconventional terms: Namely, its unisex bathroom, Vonda Shepard, and that damn dancing baby.

And yet, of all the inimitable TV concepts Ally gave us, considering the series from our current vantage point in 2017 makes it abundantly clear that the greatest gift of Ally McBeal is something we didn’t even know we wanted back then: GIFs. All the GIFs. So, so, so many GIFs.

Every film and movie is perfectly meme-able, sure, but Calista Flockhart’s character endured such vivid fantasy hallucinations that delighted audiences back in the ‘90s and realistically would have sent Twitter haywire if the show were a modern weekly destination. Ally McBeal was the O.G. reaction shot: Heads exploding from frustration, feet stuffed in embarrassed mouths, cannon-through-the-gut devastation. (Honestly, her literal manifestations are probably the reason we misuse the word “literally” so damn much anyway.)

As the show strode toward five seasons (and limped its way through that last one), the fantasies waned in cleverness and novelty, but thankfully many of Ally’s best and most GIF-able can be found in the first season — and even the frontloaded pilot alone.

There’s Ally, freezing up when unexpectedly asked out by a co-worker:

Ally, feeling the crushing weight of finding out her ex is married:

Ally, imagining the merits of a bigger bust:

Ally, being friend-zoned by said ex:

Ally, upon being asked out for coffee:

Look at these relatable emotions! If interpersonal and professional anxiety is the hot new thing to broadcast on Twitter (and all evidence points to this being the case), Ally signified a big move towards the empathetic illustration of constant apprehension-cum-optimism that twenty- and thirtysomethings now widely share.

The sillier aspects of Ally’s imagination extended to her friends and co-workers, perhaps most notably in a recurring Ogle The Hottie series. Tongues were big. In this case, FYI, the ogled are Dylan McDermott (for the women) and Brooke Burns (for the men):

And, long before babies and “Bygones,” Jane Krakowski was actually the show’s first recurring gag, as Ally imagined her character Elaine’s constantly inflating ego.

But of course, the granddaddy of them all is that insane dancing baby. The character — yeah, let’s call it that — made his debut in the show’s 12th episode, appearing as a fleeting vision at Ally’s bedside before his choreography started flourishing, his reputation (among Ally’s concerned friends) grew, and his metaphoric existence as Ally’s biological clock was realized. Unfortunately, the baby really would have no great use today as a GIF, but his importance as arguably the world’s first digital meme can’t be understated. Look at him!!!

Happy 20 years, Ally McBeal. No one has perfected such a soul-searching walk down the streets of Boston quite like you.

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Aladdin: Will Smith shares first cast photo from live-action remake

By | September 6, 2017

Can your friends do this?

Will Smith has shared the first photo featuring the cast from Disney’s upcoming live-action remake of Aladdin, in which the veteran comedian takes up the whimsical, wish-granting shoes of the Genie.

Smith debuted the first glimpse at his fellow Agrabah associates on the film’s London set. “We just started shooting Aladdin and I wanted to intro you guys to our new family,” he wrote. “Mena Massoud/Aladdin, Naomi Scott/Princess Jasmine, Marwan Kenzari/Jafar, and I’m over here gettin my Genie on. Here we go!”

Director Guy Ritchie and screenwriter John August (Big Fish) have already set the groundwork for their interpretation of the ancient tale of Aladdin, even beyond Disney’s 1992 film, by adding original characters created for the film (like the roles played by Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen).

Aladdin is currently in production in London; a release date has not yet been set.

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