Author Archives: Marc Snetiker

Reese Witherspoon on film inclusion: ‘It’s not just the art you make, it’s how you make the art’

By | March 7, 2018

To read more about A Wrinkle in Time, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy it here. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

In front of the camera, director Ava DuVernay assembled a diverse trio of women to play the three celestial guides of A Wrinkle in Time; on screen, they help a young girl, played by Storm Reid, traverse the cosmos — itself a historic sight for a fantasy-lover like DuVernay. “I loved The NeverEnding Story,” she says. “I wanted to fly on the dog. But there was no girl with glasses flying on the dog… all the films where kids would fly, I would never see a girl like me. And Storm was present for me and for all the women and girls before me who never got a chance to do that.”

Behind the camera on A Wrinkle in Time, the director also strove to fill her team with the same representation of population that she’s consistently urged Hollywood to make the norm. Audiences will never see it — but DuVernay’s off-screen assembly will have left its mark, insofar as the impact it’s already made on a seasoned star-turned-producer like Reese Witherspoon and a bright newcomer like Reid.

“I don’t think you think about the consciousness with which movies are made, but for me, it was profound,” Witherspoon told EW during a recent roundtable with the cast. “Ava set the tone for everybody behind the scenes. It’s not just about what you see on the camera that’s so inclusive…it’s behind the scenes, too. I’ve done a lot of movies, and I’ve never seen a crew like that where everybody is represented. It looked like the world we live in.”

Oprah Winfrey, who costars with Witherspoon (and Mindy Kaling), asked the actress, “Has it changed the way you look at putting movies together?”

“One hundred percent,” Witherspoon replied, citing filmmakers like DuVernay, Shonda Rhimes, and Ryan Murphy as guiding lights as she strives to implement similar representative parity on her upcoming productions (of which there are many, and growing). “It’s not just the art you make, it’s how you make the art that brings consciousness to the audience,” Witherspoon continued, incidentally mirroring a sentiment that Witherspoon’s character, the inquisitive Mrs. Whatsit, actually posits to Meg (Reid) and Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) when she first meets them in the film. “We can’t take any credit for our talents,” she says. “It’s how we use them that counts.”

Reid, to her credit, is picking up on the lesson early. She’s a promising up-and-comer in Hollywood, but she’s worked on enough sets to recognize the rarified air that defined the New Zealand (and change) set of Wrinkle. “This was the first set I’ve been on with so many women,” says the 14-year-old. “I felt like everybody was represented on that set — it looked, like Miss Ava said, like the United Nations there. I hope that I’ll get to experience that again and I hope that Hollywood can normalize that, but I’m just not sure if I will have the privilege to experience that on the next set I go onto, which is unfortunate, but it may be true.” The momentum grows, however, and between the immediate conversations — like Frances McDormand’s internet-shaking plea for filmmakers to consider inclusion riders — and longer-term vows from Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine production company and other growing power players, perhaps that future is not so far ahead in time.

A Wrinkle in Time arrives in theaters this Friday.

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You may cry watching this A Wrinkle in Time love-fest

By | March 6, 2018

Oprah praises Reese, Reese praises Mindy, and so on and so forth in that fashion until all the principal players of A Wrinkle in Time — including director Ava DuVernay and star Storm Reid — have been duly complimented for their work on- and offscreen making the fantasy film.

Both in Madeleine L’Engle’s classic novel and in Disney’s live-action adaptation (out Mar. 9), a key theme of A Wrinkle in Time is finding inspiration—Meg Murry learns to look inward and draw strength from herself, but she’s stimulated in that introspective journey by helpful wisdom from her peers, both celestial and classmate.

It takes barely a moment to recognize that the spiritual camaraderie of Meg and her guides Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit is just as pure and present among the actresses who play the roles: Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon. Joined by their director, DuVernay, the women sat down with EW ahead of the film’s release for a candid roundtable that addressed, among other topics, the way each of them found inspiration from each other on set.

We asked the Wrinkle team to address the person seated next to them and reveal a time that they were particularly inspired or moved by her.

DuVernay, kicking off our strange exercise in admiration, pointed to the legacy that Reid leaves by virtue of being a young black girl inhabiting a space-hopping, fantasy-sprawling role like Meg Murry: “It’s hard to explain how it feels to have Storm say to , Meg say to Calvin, ‘Do you trust me?’ — a little black girl to a Caucasian boy. And he says yes, and he follows her. You’ve never seen that before on film. And so those are transformative images, and to watch her through my camera, through my lens, doing those things so powerfully, so bravely, so boldly, so openly. ‘Miss Ava, what do you want me to do?’ And she would go do it, and I don’t think she understood how many decades and generations of women were also watching her do that. So full of joy, to watch her do the things that have never been done before on camera.”

Reid, seated between DuVernay and Winfrey, cited a memorable conversation she shared with Oprah on the set of their Essence cover shoot during the early days of their press tour. “We were sitting on the couch, and… I can’t remember her exact words, but basically said that she had never met a young girl like me, and saying that as in how my mom raised me and all that we’ve been through and how much faith we had, and it’s not about my acting. Her recognizing that, it just made me feel proud of myself.” (Winfrey’s reply: “I said the future’s so bright for you, it burns my eyes.”)

Winfrey took on Witherspoon, one multi-hyphenate lauding the other but pointing out the special nuances of Witherspoon’s additional role as mother. “I marveled every day her ability to be so one thousand percent present for all of us, and then when she said, ‘Bye, y’all!’, taking her wig off, I would think, ‘She’s getting in a car and she’s going home to a completely different life where children are waiting for her to appear in the door as their mom,’” said Winfrey. “Not as Reese Witherspoon, the famous Academy Award-winning actress. Not as the producer of Big Little Lies. Not as the women who’s been hanging out on the wires with us all day… and then she’d come in in the morning, ‘Morning, y’all!’, and just be one thousand percent there for us. I think that mothering is the most sacred job on earth. It’s a holy thing when you do it well. And I just have nothing but praise for the women who do both.”

Witherspoon, speaking about Kaling, said that not only did the Mindy Project star frequently shout out the writers of the film and book, but that her love of language elevated the very tricky role of Mrs. Who. “I remember reading the script and thinking, ‘I couldn’t do that,’” said Witherspoon. “She speaks in famous quotes. This is one of the funniest women in the world, honestly. If you go to lunch with her, she will crack you up. And she writes the best books. But she’s also got this brilliant mind that’s exploding with ideas and funny little bon mots all day and on Twitter, and she can’t say any of them! She can literally just express Rumi quotes, OutKast quotes. And it’s brilliant, too, that she brought her beautiful joy and energy to those beautiful words.”

It was Kaling who swung the circle back around to DuVernay, whom she praised for one particular night on set (watch the video above) and an overarching sense of optimism and love in the making of Wrinkle. “Every day, she says this thing, which is so accurate, which is that there’s love in every frame of this movie. And it’s her love,” said Kaling. “And she made us fall in love with it by doing it.”

Watch the video above—we dare you to feel the love.

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Wreck-It Ralph 2 directors break down the sequel, new trailer

By | February 28, 2018

For an animated film, five years is average; in internet years, it’s a whole generation.

Filmmakers Rich Moore and Phil Johnston faced down the exponential growth of cyberspace as they found themselves carving out a little slice of the web into which to send redeemed video game villain Ralph (John C. Reilly) and his royal racing sidekick Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, the follow-up to Disney’s 2012 smash about the not-so-little game engine that could.

With memes and trends coming and going at lightspeed, the directors had to decide just which URLs they wanted to address. “It was a huge challenge and something we talked about from the very beginning — what on the internet is going to be relevant when this movie comes out in 2018?” says Johnston, who co-wrote the first film and now co-directs with the original’s helmer, Moore. “There are early iterations of this movie where there are jokes and gags based on memes and videos that were popular then which, I’m sure if I said now, you wouldn’t even remember.” One such victim? “There was a point when we thought, ‘We’ve got to get Ken Bone into this movie,’” laughs Moore. “The next week, we were like, ‘Nope, Ken Bone isn’t going to be in this movie.’”

Keeping up with the internet’s constant evolution also involved figuring out exactly what path through the web would prove most interesting for Ralph and Vanellope to browse as they travel the Ethernet ether in search of a replacement part for Vanellope’s game, Sugar Rush. (Broken…yet again!) The directors equate the endless narrative opportunity to the way ambitious auteur filmmakers fancy Manhattan. “It’s like if you said, ‘I want to make a movie about New York. We’re going to tell a New York story.’ That can go a million different ways,” says Moore. “But what type of story do you want to tell in New York? So we really started with our two main characters’ friendship and the difference in their approach.”

Wreck-It Ralph 2 finds the pair leaving behind one technological world (Litwak’s Arcade and the game machines that populate it) and entering another, where they encounter clickbait, e-commerce, viral games and videos, a hip algorithm named Yesss (Taraji P. Henson), and even the reaches of Disney’s online presence (one particularly anticipated moment screened for fans in the summer of 2017 involves Vanellope discovering her place as a princess in Disney’s famed line-up).

As Moore puts it, “Ralph and Vanellope are two people from this little town, this arcade world, who seem to everyone else that they’re exactly the same in their point of view, but upon going to a bigger place, we start to see what cracks develop between these two. We very quickly come to realize they don’t have the same point of view. Ralph likes the comfort of his small town. And Vanellope, upon going to the Internet, starts to think, ‘Just being here is expanding my horizons.’ We bounce the story off that dynamic between the old and the new.”

The discrepancy between generations will likely wash away, though, when audiences uncover the bigger themes in Wreck-It Ralph 2: universal messages about anxiety and self-esteem that promise to be equally meaningful across age lines. Moore and Johnston agree that their time spent on the Oscar-winning flick Zootopia, which they both worked on between Ralph films, unlocked certain thematic possibilities. “For me, working on the first Ralph and Zootopia, they both dealt with heady themes that could be complicated for kids,” says Johnston. “My experience on Zootopia was taking a complicated theme and trying to boil it down in a way that allowed for families to talk about racism and bias, and while Ralph 2 is not doing that, there are themes about self-esteem and insecurity that I think maybe aren’t that common in kids’ movies. We’re trying to deal with ideas that we can all relate to but maybe don’t talk about as much. Depression and anxiety and stuff like that. And Zootopia was a good reminder that you can do seemingly tough adult themes but make sense of it for kids and families.”

“It just reinforced to me that people are hungry for these films to be more than just entertainment,” echoes Moore. “They’re hungry for discussions that they have in their car as they’re driving home from the movie theater. They don’t want to just go to laugh or to cry. They want them to mean something.”

Check out the new trailer for Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, which will hit theaters Nov. 21, 2018, above.

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Wreck-It Ralph 2: Watch the first full trailer now

By | February 28, 2018

If 2012 seems like a lifetime ago compared to the internet of today, imagine how Wreck-It Ralph feels.

The classic video game ‘villain’ is forced to leave behind the comfort of his retro arcade and traverse the strange new world of cyberspace in Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (in theaters Nov. 21). Disney Animation’s sequel to the original 2012 hit reunites John C. Reilly’s good-guy-bad-guy protagonist with his partner-in-pixels Vanellope von Schweetz (Sarah Silverman) as they zap into a new frontier, filled with memes, games, apps, clickbait, and — hopefully — the one item Ralph needs to save the day.

“A part in Vanellope’s game Sugar Rush breaks, and in order to preserve that and save the way of life they have in the arcade, they go to this very modern place” — the internet! — “which is going to put their friendship to the test,” explains Rich Moore, who helmed the first Wreck-It Ralph and now co-directs with Phil Johnston (one of two screenwriters of the first Ralph, as well as one of the co-writers of 2016’s Zootopia, which Moore also co-directed… it’s a whole thing).

Johnston says the temptations of the internet bring out drastically different, perhaps unexpected POVs for our two main heroes. “Ralph is this older video game character who’s thrust into this world that’s confusing and constantly changing, and we lean into that notion that the internet is different today than it was yesterday, and it will be different tomorrow than it was today,” explains Johnston. “That’s part of the challenge that Ralph in particular faces. Meanwhile, Vanellope’s much more equipped to deal with that than Ralph is. She’s younger and more spirited, and he’s sort of a big, oafish doofus who can’t quite handle it.”

As the directors tell EW, Ralph thinks the journey online will help keep life the way it is… but Vanellope, upon seeing the wider world beyond the arcade, may seize the opportunity to find her tribe. (She is technically a Disney princess, after all, and they’ve got quite the popular presence online.)

While the first full trailer shows a glimpse of Ralph and Vannelope’s arrival into a world populated by avatars, missing from the trailer is Taraji P. Henson’s new character, Yesss, a trendy algorithm who encounters Ralph and Vanellope online, as well as familiar faces from the first film like Fix-It Felix (Jack McBrayer) and Calhoun (Jane Lynch). “We’ll see them for sure,” promises Moore. “They have an important role in the movie, which we can’t discuss now, but they’re definitely in there.” After a burst of laughter, he adds, “Jack McBrayer called Phil constantly, saying, ‘When am I gonna be in the movie? What is Felix doing?!’ He wore us down.”

Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 will hit theaters Nov. 21, 2018. Head here for more details on the sequel from Johnston and Moore.

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A Wrinkle in Time soundtrack taps Sade, Sia, Game of Thrones composer

By | February 20, 2018

A movie starring Oprah deserves a score of equal stature, and Disney has delivered with a unique soundtrack set for its upcoming release A Wrinkle in Time.

Due out March 9, right alongside Ava DuVernay’s film adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s seminal sci-fi novel, the Wrinkle in Time soundtrack will feature a score by Game of Thrones and Westworld composer Ramin Djawadi, as well as six original songs from quite the varied line-up of artists. Perhaps most notable to music lovers: a brand new song by Sade, marking the musician’s first new tune in almost eight years.

The tracklist also includes songs by Sia and grown-ish stars Chloe x Halle, as well as a coincidental collaboration for Demi Lovato, DJ Khaled, and Kehlani, who will all embark on Lovato’s world tour together this spring.

Here’s the full list of original songs:

“Flower of the Universe” – Sade (plus a No I.D. Remix version)
“I Believe” – DJ Khaled feat. Demi Lovato
“Magic” – Sia
“Let Me Live” – Kehlani
“Warrior” – Chloe x Halle
“Park Bench People” – FreeStyle Fellowship

You can hear a snippet of the Kehlani jam in the new TV spot above.

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To Kill a Mockingbird: Jeff Daniels to lead Aaron Sorkin adaptation on Broadway

By | February 15, 2018

The Great American Novel heads to the Great White Way as producers have announced the cast for Aaron Sorkin’s new play based on Harper Lee’s seminal classic To Kill a Mockingbird, opening on Broadway this fall.

Jeff Daniels, the two-time Tony-nominated actor who was last seen on Broadway in 2016’s intimate Blackbird, will star as Atticus Finch, the heroic attorney and father figure in Lee’s groundbreaking novel (a role famously immortalized onscreen in 1962 by Gregory Peck). The star turn marks a reunion of sorts for Daniels and Sorkin, who tapped the actor to lead his 2012 HBO drama The Newsroom, as well as Scott Rudin, who executive produced that series and will produce Mockingbird on Broadway alongside Lincoln Center Theater.

Joining Daniels in the Finch household are two adults who will channel Atticus’s children: Celia Keenan-Bolger will play Atticus’s fearlessly curious daughter, Scout, and Will Pullen will play her protective older brother, Jem. Supporting the trio, a cast of true stage actors populates the world of Maycomb, Alabama, including Gideon Glick (as Dill), LaTanya Richardson Jackson (as Calpurnia), Dakin Matthews (as Judge Taylor), Stark Sands (as Horace Gilmer), Frederick Weller (as Bob Ewell), Erin Wilhelmi (as Mayella Ewell), Gbenga Akinnagbe (as Tom Robinson), Stephen McKinley Henderson, Phyllis Somerville, and Liv Rooth. Additional casting will be announced.

Tony winner Bartlett Sher will direct the play, which will begin previews Nov. 1 ahead of a Dec. 13 opening at a theatre to be announced. The production’s designers include Miriam Buether (scenic), Ann Roth (costume), Jennifer Tipton (lighting), Scott Lehrer (sound), and an original score by The Light in the Piazza composer Adam Guettel.

As any middle or high school student can attest, To Kill a Mockingbird has remained a ubiquitous novel in America since its publication almost 60 years ago. Lee’s masterpiece chronicles both a coming-of-age and a search for justice in a racially-charged town, in which a host of compelling characters bring to life the Deep South’s culture of intolerance in the 1930s.

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Let Paddington present at the Oscars

By | January 26, 2018

Every year, people seem to find a way to take issue with the Oscars. No matter the host nor the circumstances nor the lineup of movies that a handful of individuals have decided are Movies, the Academy Awards always seem to arrive with an asterisk, signifying some perennial need for a freshening-up. Expanding the breadth of the voter pool will have an enormous effect, of course, as will any given host’s recalibration of his or her bit-to-musical-number ratio, but there is still one solution to relevancy that the Oscars have not explored, and which I believe could change the game for this 90-year-old ceremony. It’s simple, really, but it’s become increasingly clear that it’s a crucial directive the Academy must heed: Let Paddington present at the Oscars.

Paddington is a critically acclaimed bear and an entertainment veteran with six decades of industry experience. Recently, he’s been made the star of his own record-breaking film franchise (the eponymous Paddington and Paddington 2, delightful and delightfuller) yet his lengthy list of accomplishments stretches back much further. Long before his entry into the glamorous world of British children’s film, Paddington made his debut in book form in 1958, quickly emerging as a breakout talent that year and, had it existed, he would have certainly been one of 1958’s “30 under 30” to watch. He would go on to enchant booksellers, toymakers, and television executives for decades thereafter, all clamoring to get in business with this well-intentioned, optimistic, body-positive bear.

Now Paddington is nothing short of a cultural staple, a literary icon, and one of 2018’s biggest movie stars. And still no invitation to present at the Oscars? How come, Academy?

To allow Paddington to present at this esteemed ceremony would be to allow sunshine into a dark foyer. The euphoric light which Paddington radiates from every furry little bear pore could be the missing salve needed to bring this country — nay, this world — together. If given even just a minute to share his message, Paddington could temporarily halt our entire national crisis by simply citing his Aunt Lucy’s famous mantra: If we are kind and polite, the world will be right.

Cynics have heard the sentiment before, but Paddington is not just another member of the so-called Hollywood elite preaching a message of love and equality to people who refuse to hear it. For one thing, he is actually not from California but rather darkest Peru (a common mix-up). Second, he is a bear. These two things should suggest that this he was never groomed to be in show business and boasts an upbringing with outsider appeal that some folks seem to need in their icons today. Paddington is an individual with everyman likability, the kind of bear you feel like you could really just grab a jar of marmalade with. His charisma demands an audience; his message, an open mind. (Furthermore, his unique shape would also help to dismantle Hollywood’s unrealistic beauty standards, however this is not germane to today’s argument.)

While it is important to understand the effects Paddington’s inclusion at the Oscars would have on us as moral students of the world, one must also consider what presenting could do for his career. The kind of regnant exposure afforded by the national platform of an awards show is significant for any struggling character actor like Paddington, who despite years in the business is only just tasting success at this late stage (consider: Ann Dowd?). It is a sad truth that Paddington has, up until recently, usually only registered to Americans as “that bear” from “that book” and is not considered a household name like other bears such as Corduroy or Winnie or actors suc has Judy Greer and Dylan Baker. With the spotlight finally on him, the Oscars would offer an opportunity for Paddington to show his versatile side. Perhaps he can sing, or strike a mean red carpet pose, or excel at light banter with Alfred Molina. There are elements of Paddington we do not know yet, to both his detriment and ours, which an awards show could happily draw out.

Perhaps you are thinking, “Is this serious?” and “Why am I still reading this?” but it is folly to think that Paddington does not deserve to be seriously considered for the Oscars, or that he would not fit in. Sure, the awards themselves rarely take into account box-office success, but on his own merits Paddington would not be out of place in the present company of his film industry colleagues. Sally Hawkins, his onscreen sort-of-adoptive-mother, is nominated this year for Best Actress for The Shape of Water; the cross-promotion alone is a worthy reason to justify his attendance. Two-time Blockbuster Entertainment Award winner Nicole Kidman, who played an evil taxidermist in the first Paddington film, will also probably be at the Oscars as well, as she is a very famous movie actress; given her limited past work with bears, she would likely recognize and vouch for Paddington if the opportunity came up. Hugh Grant, who is in Paddington 2, also seems like he would probably be invited for some reason, and Meryl Streep, another very famous actress, has almost certainly seen a Paddington 2 poster during her stagecoach travels and would likely not be disappointed by seeing a fun bear. (Recall how receptive she was to Ben Stiller dressing up as one of the Avatar things in Avatar.)

And lest we forget, while Paddington is sadly not nominated this time, other notable bears have even gone on to win Academy Awards in years past. Pixar’s Brave, a movie that’s literally about why humans don’t respect bears, won Best Animated Feature in 2012. Toy Story 3,

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A ranking of Jughead’s dramatic opening lines on Riverdale

By | January 24, 2018

In case you haven’t noticed, he’s weird. He’s a weirdo. He doesn’t fit in and he doesn’t want to fit in. That’s Jughead Jones — rogue blogger of Riverdale, dark empath of smalltown America, omniscient narrative conscience of The CW.

As the resident chronicler of Riverdale‘s endless stream of deadly and deceitful events, almost every episode of the show opens with a thematic whistle-blow from the gloomiest ex-goofball, Jughead. These opening monologues are somehow simultaneously the best and worst part of the show; they cover the gamut of elegiac expression, from meticulous descriptions of rotting corpses to generalized anxiety about Christmas, but they all carry one key ingredient: a ceaseless belief that whatever is happening right now in Riverdale is the worst thing to ever happen in Riverdale.

Digesting these opening lines all at once, one realizes just how beautiful Jughead’s leaps of logic can be in any given situation. “Jason Blossom’s body was cold… but so was the weather.” “The Black Hood could strike at any moment… and at the bowling alley, so could Veronica.” It’s like a morbid Sex and the City, punning to extremity over and over in an interminable loop until every adjective describing a dead body has comported with a normal activity in the high school calendar year.

You can’t blame Jughead, of course. He’s just written that way, and Cole Sprouse does a fine job with deadpan delivery contextualizing daily life against the town’s never-ending misery. But as it turns out, the only way Jug’s warnings become even more bonkers is when they’re read out of context. What I’ve assembled below is a curious curation of Jughead’s opening lines so far, which is to say nothing of his closing remarks, which tend to be just a series of increasingly dramatic claims that this, no this, no THIS was the week Riverdale’s innocence was truly lost. Never change, Jughead.

THE BAD

“Our story is about a town, a small town, and the people who live in the town. From a distance, it presents itself like so many other small towns all over the world: safe, decent, innocent. Get closer, though, and you start seeing the shadows underneath. The name of our town is Riverdale.” (S1, episode 1)

There’s a world in which this is easily the No. 1 opener on this list. This is not that world. So many of the wild behavioral choices that define Riverdale and its characters can, in many regards, be traced all the way back to the very first lines of the series. Jughead’s pilot-episode mantra was a tonal landgrab that didn’t just lay out the show’s sweeping promise of desecrated tranquility, but introduced (and demanded acceptance of) the kind of hyperspecific morose omens which would become Jughead’s most hilariously frustrating habit. Quite literally, once Jughead got his first taste of the euphoria of melodramatic narration, Riverdale would never be the same.

“People like to say that the death of Jason Blossom changed everything at Riverdale High. But certain things, certain traditions never change. Take Homecoming, for instance.” (S1, episode 11)

Here’s a textbook example of Jughead’s over-the-top formula in season 1. First, mention the phrase “the death of Jason Blossom.” Second, exaggerate its major conceptual effect to quasi-hyperbolic degree (“It changed everything!”). Finally, take a screeching hard left and find a way to equate the tragedy with whatever banal event is happening that week at Riverdale High. Look, I don’t make the rules; this is just how things are done. A second example:

It’s been a week since the discovery of Jason Blossom’s body, but his death is not the first nor would it be the last casualty that the town of Riverdale would suffer. The Twilight Drive-In, where I work, my home away from home, a piece of town history, is closing for good. Just when we needed a place to escape to the most.” (S1, episode 4)

A teenager was murdered, but the dilapidated drive-in movie theater Jughead likes is also closing. Why does everything have to happen to him?!

“Behold, Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe. For decades, the heart of Riverdale. Now, the latest casualty in the town’s ongoing battle against darkness.” (S2, episode 2)

A trend: It seems one of Jughead’s favorite activities is comparing the plight of buildings to the trauma of being murdered. Technically, this is not just Jughead’s fault, as Fred, Hermione, and Hiram’s storylines all suggest that Riverdale is at its core a serious show about real estate. But yes, Pop’s Chock’lit Shoppe was rudely vandalized after the Black Hood shooting — yet, to say that diner vandalization is offensively in step with murder is absolutely psychotic. If I was murdered and the next day someone vandalized the Chipotle by my apartment and people called it “the latest casualty,” I would haunt, and not in a fun Casper way.

“You know how there are just some towns where bad things always seem to happen? Well, Riverdale has become one of those towns. The most recent horror? The school janitor turned out to be a serial killer. But we were putting him away along with our Christmas decorations.(S2, episode 10)

Riverdale High could lose a basketball game and Jughead would find a way to say that the town never recovered from the loss — but here, after the second season’s winter hiatus, Jughead deviates from form and announces that the string of tragic murders from the first half of the season is actually behind them. A surprise twist!

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Tootsie musical finds its star

By | January 24, 2018

The musical adaptation of Tootsie, the cherished 1982 comedy about a struggling actor who finds success as an actress, has set its sights on a world premiere in Chicago in 2018 ahead of an anticipated Broadway run in 2019.

Producers announced Wednesday that Santino Fontana (Frozen, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and Broadway’s Cinderella) will play the leading role of soap opera star Dorothy Michaels — a.k.a. desperately unemployable actor Michael Dorsey. Fontana takes on the character(s) originally played onscreen by Dustin Hoffman in the film.

The show boasts a score by David Yazbek (currently earning raves on Broadway for his musical The Band’s Visit) and a book by Robert Horn (13). Denis Jones (Holiday Inn) will choreograph, with direction by mainstay Scott Ellis (She Loves Me).

Tootsie will play a brief run at Chicago’s Cadillac Theatre from Sept. 11 through Oct. 14, 2018, before transferring to a Broadway house in the spring of 2019. One could make the argument that it’s only posing as a Chicago show temporarily.

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Who is your Good Place moral soul mate?

By | January 23, 2018

NBC’s The Good Place isn’t just one of the strongest comedies on TV right now; it’s also the zeitgeist’s hottest new arena for the discussion of our personal morality alignments. (Five minutes ago: Facebook. Out: MySpace surveys!)

In addition to its genuine comedic merits, few other shows on television will have you regularly questioning whether you’ve done enough good over the course of your life — or just that Thursday, even — to gain entry into the heavenly Good Place. Dig even deeper, and you’ll find yourself reconciling not only whether you might belong in a Medium or Bad Place, but whether you have the capacity to isolate the most problematic moral fibers in your body before it’s too late.

Michael Schur’s The Good Place offers a handful of core characters through which we can analyze our decency of soul. They span the spectrum of human integrity, from the lawfully good, like Chidi, to the chaotically evil, like Michael (pre-reformation, at least). Every character’s moral trajectory on the series could help inform your line of introspective questioning as you watch the show, but the question is, whose righteous growth should you be monitoring closest?

Lucky for you, EW has constructed this highly-scientific quiz, meticulously designed by me (a Jason with Eleanor rising), to help you figure out which Good Place character carries your same moral compass.

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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.”

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

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

UNTITLED SUBURBAN FANTASYRelease Date: TBD
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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