COMMENT: So Meghan Markle is reportedly attending the Met Gala in May. Because where better to celebrate your newfound privacy and “space” than at “the Oscars of the East Coast”, “the Super Bowl of red-carpet events”?
What could be more perfectly suited to anyone fleeing “intense scrutiny” and “commoditisation” than a mega-bash to which anti-commodification activist Kim Kardashian once turned up dressed in a nude-effect wet-look dress? A celebrity Pavlova, where the 225 photographers will take an estimated 50 shots a minute, before blasting millions of images out into the ether? Although why this is more appealing than a royal visit to the Mumbles Lifeboat station in South Wales is anyone’s guess.
Has Meghan Markle lost the sympathy of the public?
According to sources at the weekend, Markle is to leave Prince Harry at home for the night, so “she can establish herself once more in Hollywood”, apparently attending the Met Gala with Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful. This makes about as much sense as a woman who craves the quiet life asking her LA agent to find her a leading role in a superhero film, “something that pays big” – which is exactly what one Sunday paper claims Markle has done.
As the Sussexes fly back to Britain to complete their final engagements as working members of the Firm – and face the Royal family for the first time since The Statement, the petulant Instagram post from a fortnight ago in which they whined about being made to drop the “SussexRoyal” brand despite there being nothing legal to stop them using it – the pair may have no choice but to brazen it out.
I’m not sure the Sussexes will understand just how colossal a miscalculation that statement was. After all, you have a young man and his wife turning on a 93-year-old grandmother at one of the toughest moments of her life. You have them disregarding the pain and sadness prompted by Prince Philip’s ill health, Prince Andrew’s involvement with a paedophile and her beloved grandsons falling out – all because they have a brand to promote. Is there any way back from that?
Had you asked me a month ago, I would have said yes. Despite the acts of clumsiness and the missteps we’ve witnessed over the past two years, I would still have said yes. So they invited a bunch of A-listers that they’d only met once to their wedding. How many of us would do the same if we knew George and Amal would actually come? Was their dispensing of certain royal traditions really so bad? The insistence on Archie’s christening remaining private and the setting up of their own “breakaway” website?
Harry has always been his own person. At this point, one could still push a convincing narrative that these two were “breathing new life” into an outdated institution.
But the precise moment the couple began to lose the public’s sympathy wasn’t when they chose the hospitality of a billionaire in Vancouver Island over that of the Queen at Christmas, or indeed when they decided to make the desired “break from royal duties” permanent. No – that moment can be charted back to a lament the misty-eyed Duchess of Sussex made in the ITV documentary charting the couple’s African tour last year: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”
Because that single sentence managed to eclipse everything the couple were in southern Africa to highlight – from the 1,000 minefields that have yet to be cleared in Angola, to the abject poverty in Malawi and HIV-hit children in Botswana – and make it all about Markle.
Prince Harry Meghan Markle met with crowds when they visited Auckland.
It may be unfair to blame Meghan any more than Harry for these recent missteps. But one thing is certain: neither the words nor the sentiments in The Statement appear to be those of a happy young couple, revelling in the joy of each other and their nine-month-old baby.
And I worry that something is unravelling behind the scenes. Because if their intention were really to enjoy a quiet life, why would they care about a title that can only ever be used for professional profit and status?
Why would the team of LA-based agents, lawyers and publicists be necessary and the showbusiness parties and blockbuster film roles so appealing?
You don’t need those things or grand branding to live a serene and peaceful life. But solid family relationships? They’re essential.
‘And the winner is …’ It’s time to start making your Oscar night plans, Louisville
Louisville Courier Journal
Published 10:48 AM EST Jan 7, 2020
The 77th Golden Globes on Sunday night kicked off the 2020 season of entertainment awards shows. Now, with that glittery and booze-soaked celebration fading in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look forward to February to the opulence of the 92nd Academy Awards.
Who will win the golden Oscar for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture and Director? Find out the answer to these Academy Awards night nail-biters in the company of friends, new and old, at the seventh annual Oscar Watch Party presented by Louisville Film Society Feb. 9.
With a little over one month to go before the famous words “and the winner is” are heard around the world, the Louisville Film Society is hosting its own award-worthy Oscar Watch Party at Rabbit Hole Distillery in NuLu at 711 E. Jefferson St.
Guests are invited dress to dazzle and walk the red carpet starting at 7 p.m. then join the fun and festivities. Christine Fellingham (Louisville Magazine) and I will again serve as Masters of Ceremony and will welcome guests on the red carpet before the live broadcast begins at 8 p.m. Multiple large-screen TVs will be placed throughout Rabbit Hole to view the awards streaming live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.
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And even though this is a party, don’t worry if you’re a “serious” Oscar viewer. There will be a special designated area for serious Oscar watchers set in the active distillery.
Throughout the broadcast, you’ll enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts and a full open bar, including custom cocktails designed by Rabbit Hole, all served in an ambiance reflecting the glamour of Hollywood’s biggest night.
Be sure to bring extra cash to test your skill at predicting the winners in a $250 ballot competition. Plus, there will be raffles and a silent auction with film-related items and more.
Tickets to Louisville Film Society’s Oscar Watch Party are $100, which includes a one-year $50 Louisville Film Society membership. They may be purchased at louisvillefilmsociety.org.
The Louisville Film Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing resources and support to local filmmakers as well as enriching the Louisville community through exposure to engaging and innovative films and cinematic programming. The Oscar Watch Party is the organization’s primary membership drive and fundraiser helping to support the organization’s programming and operations throughout the year.
For more information, contact Nancy Tafel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-593-1243.
Oscars 2020: Here are the films and actors leading the race
Reach Kirby Adams at email@example.com or Twitter @kirbylouisville. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/kirbya.
The movie space is one where creatives come together to make magic. From scripting to a selection of the perfect fit for a role, to production and then the final result of having an interesting movie that can attract audience attention and do well in box offices, Nollywood is a highly competitive industry.
There are some actors who sync like beans and plantain or better still bread and butter. Whenever they are paired in a film, the duo can bring a script to life with their expertise.
Below are some actors who have been paired countless times on movie sets. In no particular order, check these ones out and let us know if we got the combination hook line and sinker or if you have your reservations and want to include others, tell us in the comment section.
Genevieve Nnaji & Ramsey Nouah
Genevieve Nnaji and Ramsey Nouah are an item not to be overlooked when romantic scenes are involved. The duo plays the roles so well you would think they were actually lovebirds in real-time. Movies like ”Power of Love, Break Up, Valentino” and many more will remain green in the minds of fans.
49-year-old Edo born Ramsey directed his debut with the film ”Living in Bondage: Breaking Free” in 2019 while Genevieve’s directorial debut movie, Lionheart, is the first Netflix Original from Nigeria, and first Nigerian submission for the Oscars. The movie was disqualified for having most of the dialogue in English.
RMD & Stella Damasus
The 58-year-old actor and model Richard Mofe Damijo aka RMD and beautiful mum of two Stella Damasus have both featured in movies like ”Engagement Night, The Bridesmaid, Burning Desire” e.t.c. It was almost impossible to not see these two in a love relationship. Nollywood definitely knows to bring their A-Game when pairing characters.
Chinedu Ikedieze aka Aki & Osita Iheme aka Paw Paw
Aki and Paw Paw are Nollywood twins when it comes to comedy. These two will crack you up with their gimmicks and scheme in roles assigned them. Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme are mostly together when acting due to their similarities and skill. Thumbs up to Nollywood for always pairing this duo.
Nadia Buari with Van Vicker
Ghanaian actors Nadia Buari and Van Vicker are like the Siamese in the movie industry. Producers like to bring these two together as lovers and it always works so well. Van knows how to win a woman’s heart, even though Nadia tries to pull her stunts. Little wonder he is a ladies man.
Jim Iyke and Rita Dominic
It is still surprising that these two did not end up with each other like a real couple. The love between Rita And Jim cannot go unnoticeable. They come off so well when acting and we always look forward to a scoop of Riri and a dose of Jimmy in the movies.
For Oscar voters, what makes a great performance has disturbingly narrow criteria for non-white performers. The observation that people of colour are only ever recognised for playing slaves and criminals, that their stories are only ever seen as important when they deal with tragedy and suffering, does not strictly belong to the unenlightened past. This week’s Oscar nominations prove that such judgments are planted firmly in the present.
Oscars 2020: shallow Joker squats on top of patchy and infuriating nominations | Peter Bradshaw
The kinds of roles being written for people of colour over the past decade have begun to expand to encompass a wider range of experiences. Just recently we were graced with the luminous Jennifer Lopez as savvy stripper Ramona in Hustlers; newcomer Nora Lum (Awkwafina) as the conflicted granddaughter of a dying matriarch in The Farewell; Lupita Nyong’o in a remarkable two-in-one turn in Jordan Peele’s Us. This all goes without mentioning the incredible performances that never quite picked up steam: Alfre Woodard in Clemency, for instance, or Song Kang-Ho in Parasite. But never mind the fertile pickings. This year the Academy has nominated one person of colour – Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman in Harriet. This outcome is dismaying, partly because it falls neatly into a familiar pattern: a person of colour performing a racially specific form of suffering, the outlier in a sea of white nominees.
Erivo’s nomination for Harriet, a film that received middling reviews, is not a preposterous decision. Actors are often recognised for individual work that might stand out in an otherwise mediocre film (take Renée Zellweger in Judy). I’m not bothered by the quality of Erivo’s performance. There are far more egregious entries on that front, with the likes of Charlize Theron for Bombshell, or Scarlet Johansson for Jojo Rabbit, reaping nods (have the Oscars ever been a legitimate meritocracy?). Far more worrisome is what Erivo’s nomination suggests about the way Academy voters evaluate performers of colour, who seem to be the most visible, and taken the most seriously, within the trappings of white pity.
For your consideration: this season’s most overlooked film performances
That voters overlooked a performance like Nyong’o’s in Us, a chilling interpretation of two sides of the same self, is telling. It doesn’t matter that this performance matches, if not surpasses entirely that of Joaquin Phoenix’s in Joker, even though both actors play, with tremendous physical commitment, psychologically tormented characters in genre films. Instead, the Academy prefers the Nyong’o who starred in 12 Years a Slave (2013), a film in which she is a slave, raped and humiliated. For these efforts, so difficult for the conscience to ignore, she was awarded best supporting actress.
In the last decade, only 14 women of colour were among the 100 women nominated by the Academy for the best actress and best supporting actress awards. There were even fewer men of colour (nine out of 100). That the same types of roles – slaves, nannies, and maids – continue to be the magic ticket to the red carpet, feels particularly ugly considering the range of parts played by white nominees. This year, for instance, the characters of Erivo’s fellow best actress nominees include a Fox newswoman, an icon of classic Hollywood, an aspiring young writer, and a hopeful divorcee. In 2019, Yalitza Aparicio was nominated for her performance in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. Aparicio is one of the few Latin American actresses to receive the honour, joining Adriana Barraza as a deported nanny in Babel, and Catalina Sandino Moreno as a drug mule in Maria Full of Grace.
As moving as these performances are, these films leave a bitter taste as they reaffirm tired conceptions of Latin American women. Aparicio plays a housemaid silently enduring racism and neglect, which recalls another Academy favourite – Tate Taylor’s The Help (2011), which stars Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis as resilient maids, as well! Such slim parameters betray the desire, perhaps even the need by Oscar voters, for a particularly cheap form of pathos, one that simplifies and minimises the experiences of non-white people by placing them on the margins or in the past. Those performances that don’t square with this mould are often considered too “light,” too niche, or too subversive for the Academy, all of which indicates the incredible myopia of its voting body and the thinly veiled racism that guides it.
Perhaps hoping for a consistently diverse pool of Oscar nominees is blind optimism; the more time passes, the anomalous triumphs of films such as Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, feel like a fever dream. By opening up its membership to more women and people of colour, and enlisting diverse talent such as John Cho, Issa Rae, and Tiffany Haddish to present its nominations, the Academy has attempted to create an image of inclusivity. But given this year’s batch of nominees, that commitment has proven to be both superficial and a bad joke.
Ricky Gervais opened the 77th annual Golden Globes with what amounted to a trigger warning, before launching into a ruthless takedown of the Hollywood crowd.
“You’ll be pleased to know this is the last time I’m hosting these awards, so I don’t care anymore,” the British comedian said, noting he had hosted for the four previous years. “I’m joking. I never did.”
In case anyone had missed his point, Gervais added, “Let’s have a laugh at your expense, shall we? Remember, they’re just jokes. We’re all gonna die soon, and there’s no sequel.”
Gervais’ first target was Hollywood awards shows themselves. He recalled the scandal over Kevin Hart’s old anti-gay tweets, which led the actor to fire himself from hosting the 2019 Academy Awards.
“Kevin Hart was fired from the Oscars because of some offensive tweets. Lucky for me, the Hollywood Foreign Press can barely speak English, and they’ve no idea what Twitter is,” he said, implicitly acknowledging his own politically incorrect Twitter activity.
Gervais next took aim at Hollywood entitlement in the form of actress Felicity Huffman, who recently spent two weeks in prison for her involvement in a nationwide college entrance exam cheating ring.
“I came here in a limo tonight, and the license plate was made by Felicity Huffman,” Gervais said. “It’s her daughter I feel sorry for. That must be the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to her, and her dad was in ‘Wild Hogs.’”
Ricky Gervais shows Hollywood his Golden Globes
After calling “The Irishman” actor Joe Pesci “Baby Yoda,” Gervais warned all the Hollywood executives in the room that they could be the next casualty of the #MeToo movement.
“In this room are some of the important TV and film executives in the world, people from every background. But they all have one thing in common. They’re all terrified of Ronan Farrow,” he said, referring to the investigative journalist who made a name for himself with exposes about sexual harassment and abuse. “He’s coming for you.”
“Talking of you perverts, it was a big year for pedophile movies,” Gervais continued.” “Surviving R Kelly.” “Leaving Neverland.” “The Two Popes.”
Having highlighted Hollywood’s dirty underbelly, Gervais went after its self-conception as a place that promotes equal opportunity for minorities.
“Many talented people of color were snubbed in all major categories. Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about that. The Hollywood Foreign Press are all very, very racist,” he said.
“We were gonna do an en memoriam this year, but when I saw the list of people that had died, it wasn’t diverse enough. It just, no. It was mostly white people, and I thought, no, not on my watch. Maybe next year. Let’s see what happens.”
Continuing to literally and figuratively shrug at himself, Gervais quipped that nobody was watching the Golden Globes anyway, saying, “Everyone’s watching Netflix.
He offhandedly suggested that Jefferey Epstein had not killed himself in prison in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
When the crowd moaned, Gervais added, “I know he’s your friend, but I don’t care.”
Pushing on, Gervais joked that Americans only turn to Hollywood these days for superhero blockbusters, which he said have transformed actors in nothing more than buffed drug addicts.
“All the best actors have jumped to Netflix and HBO. And the actors who just do Hollywood movies do fantasy adventure nonsense,” he said.
“They wear masks and capes, and really tight costumes. Their job isn’t acting anymore. It’s going to the gym twice a day and taking steroids. Have we got an award for most ripped junkie?”
Gervais then called out a few more celebrities by name.
He hit Leonardo DiCaprio for his affinity for young women.
“‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ nearly three hours long. Leonardo DiCaprio attended the premiere, and by the end, his date was too old for him,” he said, before comparing the actor to the British prince disgraced by the Epstein revelations. “Even Prince Andrew’s like, “Come on, Leo, mate. You’re nearly 50, son.”
Gervais wrapped up his monologue with an epic rant about the hypocrisy of liberal elites in Hollywood and Silicon Valley alike.
“Apple roared into the TV game with The Morning Show,” Gervais said. “A superb drama about the importance of dignity and doing the right thing, made by a company that runs sweatshops in China.”
Gervais then turned his attention to all the actors, writers and directors in the room.
“Well, you say you’re woke, but the companies you work for…unbelievable. Apple, Amazon, Disney. If ISIS started a streaming service, you would call your agent, wouldn’t you?”
As the audience laughed nervously, Gervais, offered some advice to the nominees.
“So if you do win an award tonight, don’t use it as a platform to make a political speech, right?” he said. “You’re in no position to lecture the public about anything. You know nothing about the real world. Most of you spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.”
Actor Tom Hanks’ shocked expression subsequently went viral online.
All of Hollywood when Ricky Gervais tells them that no one cares about their political opinions: pic.twitter.com/CQreakKKTg
— Kyle Morris (@RealKyleMorris) January 6, 2020
Despite Gervais’ admonition, though, the evening was filled with liberal politics.
Patricia Arquette, in accepting a supporting actress in a limited series award for her role in Hulu’s “The Act,” pleaded with the audience to consider the threat of another extended conflict in the Middle East.
Michelle Williams, who won best actress in a limited series for the FX’s “Fosse/Verdon,” delivered a feminist pro-abortion acceptance speech.
And Sacha Baron Cohen, who appeared onstage as a presenter, took a shot at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allegedly allowing Nazis to run rampant on the platform.
Meanwhile, according to People magazine, the crowd for the first time dined on an entirely vegan dinner in the name of fighting climate change.
Cover image: Ricky Gervais hosts the 77th annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony in Beverley Hills, California, on Jan. 5, 2020. (Twitter)
Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski has threatened legal action over claims by a former actor that he raped her in the 1970s.
The 86-year-old film-maker denied the allegation, but pressure is mounting on Polanski, who fled to France in 1978 after admitting to the statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl in Los Angeles.
Jean Dujardin, the star of Polanski’s latest film, which comes out in France on Wednesday, abruptly cancelled a prime-time interview on the TF1 television station, which was set for Sunday.
And the French artists’ guild ARP could meet soon to discuss his exclusion, its vice president told the Parisien newspaper.
An ARP spokesman later told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that although no board meeting had yet been organised, “if we are going to decide on Roman Polanski’s membership, we will do so with the approval of film-makers”.
Valentine Monnier, a photographer and former actress, has accused Polanski, who is French-Polish, of an “extremely violent” assault and rape at his chalet in the Swiss ski resort of Gstaad in 1975, when she was 18.
Monnier claimed he tried to make her swallow a pill during the attack, and later made a tearful apology while demanding a promise that she never tell anyone.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said in an open letter published by Le Parisien, which also interviewed her.
“Mr Polanski disputes in the strongest terms this rape accusation,” his lawyer Hervé Temime told AFP in a statement.
“We are working on the legal action to bring against this publication,” he added.
Polanski and his new film, An Officer and a Spy, had already courted controversy in September when it was included in the Venice film festival, where it won the grand jury prize.
Monnier, who acted in films in the 1980s, said the release of the film, about one of the most notorious errors of justice in French history, the Dreyfus affair, had prompted her to speak out.
“How could he benefit from public funds to instrumentalise history, and in doing so rewrite his own to cover up his criminal past?” she wrote, referring to French subsidies for film productions.
“He pummelled me until I gave in and then raped me, making me do all sorts of things,” she added.
She had previously written to France’s first lady Brigitte Macron, who forwarded two letters to France’s equality minister Marlène Schiappa, who has pushed for new measures to combat sexual abuse.
Schiappa wrote to Monnier in March last year and hailed her courage “in daring to break the silence”, but stressed that the allegations had to be dealt with by the judicial system.
But her account may prove a turning point for French cinema, where the #MeToo movement that roiled Hollywood has not prompted as deep a reckoning of alleged abuses in the industry.
Monnier is the first Frenchwoman to accuse Polanski of rape. Since he was arrested in California in 1977 on charges of drugging and raping Samantha Gailey, now known as Samantha Geimer, five other women including Monnier have come forward to allege that he either raped or sexually assaulted them.
Polanski has denied all of the claims, but in 2017 he left his post as president of the Cèsars, the French equivalent of the Oscars, and the following year he was expelled from the US Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Alain Terzian, president of France’s APC film promotion association, which oversees the Cèsars, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Both France and Poland have refused to extradite Polanski to the US, where California prosecutors are pressing their case even after Polanski paid Geimer $225,000 in an out-of-court settlement in 1994.
On Twitter, Geimer criticised Monnier for not speaking sooner, writing on Saturday:
“Taking heat for not being more supportive of accusers who use film release dates to schedule their revelations with the press & sat silently while I was called a liar & a gold digging whore in 1977 knowing they may have prevented it, if they had the truth & my mom’s courage.”
The entire Nollywood is to be blamed for the disqualification of Nigeria’s Oscar choice “Lionheart’’, a movie producer, Chima Okereke, said on Wednesday
“Lionheart”, directed by Genevieve Nnaji, was Nigeria’s first-ever Oscar submission for best international feature film.
It was disqualified on Monday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for not having “a predominantly non-English dialogue track”.
Films for the must have a predominantly non-English dialogue track but the 95-minute Lion Heart is largely in English, with an 11-minute section in the Igbo Language.
Okereke, the Managing Director of the Fresh Talent Production, a movie company, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the structure was flawed.
“In the opinion of the screeners, the film should have used majorly the Igbo Language than the English Language, and the blame game started flying.
“It is important to understand that profit considerations cannot allow a big film of that status, shot in Nigeria, to be shot majorly in Igbo or any other Nigerian Language.
“It will most likely lead to loss of capital investment; people might not want to watch because it was done in a local language; sentiments, politics and ethnic nuances will kill its potential patronage no matter how great the film is in terms of theme, interpretation, value and impact,’’ he said.
He saidd that the committee that nominated “Lionheart’’ did not want an opportunity to slip by.
“The gamble did not fly; now, we should learn from it.
“At least, thousands of filmmakers who lampooned some of us for not aiming for Oscar will now see the reason.
“King of Boys’’, “Trip to Jamaica’’, “Wedding Party’’ and others that made huge profits as we gathered, would not have made it to Oscar because they were not shot in Yoruba or Igbo language and then
subtitled in English,’’ he said.
He noted that some years back at a seminar organised Directors Guild of Nigeria, the issue of nomination for Oscar came up.
“I told everyone who nursed that idea to do that in indigenous language. You see it now.
“Only one category is reserved for films made outside Hollywood, and to be qualified to win Oscar, the language must be indigenous.
“It could be Spanish, Portuguese, Igbo, Efik, Mandarin, Yoruba, etc., targeting at least 60-65 per cent indigenous language.’’ he said.
READ ALSO: Genevieve Nnaji’s ‘Lionheart’ is Nigeria’s submission for the Oscar
Okere said that filmmakers working toward entrance for Oscar would have no choice than to use non-English language.
Use your local language; shooting a film with American or British Language will not get you a nomination,’’ he said.
Okereke, however, said that a film shot in English Language could make it to Oscar if co-produced with a Hollywood producer.
“The lesson from “Lionheart’’ disqualification is: Take your language serious; follow the rules. Hollywood takes film production as a serious business and protects it with its award system.
“There has to be collaborative efforts from filmmakers in Nigeria by putting the elements needed to win at the big stage – from story to language options and to value and marketing.
“Filmmakers have to go back to the drawing board and get it right.
“If we neglect this facts, we miss billions in not keying into global film business,’’ he said.
The Politician, the new Ryan Murphy series that hits Netflix on Friday, is a simple show. A boy named Payton, played by Ben Platt, wants to be class president and, one day, president of the United States.
Well, theres that. Theres also a bisexual love triangle, a suicide, a staged kidnapping, a murder investigation, Gwyneth Paltrow having an affair with Martina Navratilova, a deaf school principal, a whistleblower with cerebral palsy, a poisoning through cupcakes, a poisoning via BB gun, a staging of the musical Assassins, January Jones as a pill-popping former hooker, a performance of Joni Mitchells The River, a throuple featuring Judith Light, and a ghost mentor/therapist.
And thats all not to mention Jessica Langes role as a grandmother with Munchausen-by-proxy who poisons her granddaughter and tells her she has cancer.
That The Politician does SO MUCH is its fatal flaw, because scaled back to its core, to that simple logline, it is legitimately fascinating and provocative. Given the state of the world and the kind of behavior that isnt just excused, but rewardedand given who is, ahem, sitting in the White Housewhat kind of person would want to be a politician? What kind of ambition does that take? What does ambition mean, or require, in 2019? And what about us: What moral compromises are we willing to justify so that we dont have to be leaders ourselves? Its cynical and optimistic in warring ways that feel just about right given the mood of today.
Its a shame thats essentially drowned in the flood of constant lunacy. Its tonally all over the place. Respective elements of it are intriguing and occasionally fantastic. Platt is a captivating actor, capable of both Election-like camp and emotional rawness in equal measure. The storyline between him and Paltrow, who plays his mother, is remarkably tender, elevated all the more by the Oscar-winners stirring performance. And no one does big comedy with dame-like flair more skillfully than Jessica Lange.
But that the show doesnt seem to know what it is becomes clearer as the episodes continue and actors whose plot lines never meetlike Paltrow and Langeseem to think they are in entirely different shows. Paltrow is acting with the grounded sincerity of someone on a Murphy show like American Crime Story. Lange is doing broad, satirical work straight out of Glee. The large ensemble falls on the spectrum in between.
The truly remarkable thing, however, is that for how mixed and meh I feel about the series, I could not be more excited for a Season Two. The standout final episode of the show sets up a Season Two featuring Platt, Light, and Bette Midler. Other critics have wondered why the series didnt just start there.
And thats what makes this show such a captivating test case. Of the many reasons Im obsessed with the serieshello, did you catch that part about Paltrow and Martina Navratilova?the biggest is that its existence provides a window into what may be the next stage of television, at a time when the medium is in a curious stage of transition.
The Politician is Ryan Murphys first Netflix series, and he now has a massive $300 million deal with the streamer. The series is the first example of how a slew of celebrated TV auteurs will take advantage of the seemingly free rein and bottomless bank accounts they have access to while transitioning from networks to streaming services. (Shonda Rhimes and Kenya Barris first shows under their respective, massive Netflix deals have yet to air.)
With the streaming service apocalypse nighApple TV+, HBO Max, and Disney+, oh my!the ways in which these major names adapt to the new landscape is fascinating in its own right. And with The Politician especially, imperfect as it is, every decision, from the casting to the camera work to the tone and the themes merit dissection. From that standpoint, the show is as addicting as series get; its interesting to see what Murphy produces when the intention is to binge.
Is messy the new norm? Will people watch anyway? With so much content racing toward us, and as expensive and expensive-looking as that content is, is a series mere ambition and the promise of an interesting season two enough to merit endorsement? In the case of The Politician, were surprising even ourselves by voting yes.
The Jennifer Lopezaissance Is Here and Its Real
I cannot express to you how thrilling the Jennifer Lopez MOMENT we are having is for me. Her accolades for Hustlers? As moving to me as when I met my baby nephews for the first time. That she could win an Oscar? Sweet, sweet vindication for someone who loved every batshit second of The Boy Next Door and watched it twice in theaters, accounting for two of the three film screenings I bought tickets to that year. That, somehow, the news about her has somehow gotten even more exciting? I could cry.
First came the iconic moment that was her walking the runway at a Versace show in Milan in a replica of the jungle-print gown she wore to the Grammy Awards 20 years ago. It wasnt even that she looked so jaw-droppingly stunning in the dress, at age 50, or that she had the showbiz wisdom to celebrate the anniversary in that way. Its the way she wore it. (Watch it here.)
What I cant stop swooning over in the video is that not only did she wear the dress, but she also worked the runway like that. She didnt just come out with a knowing smile and wave at the audience while teetering around getting applause. She treated that runway walk like a job. Perfection.
And if you think Im being histrionic about any of this, well, gird your loins, babe, youre not ready for my ecstatic mania over the news that Lopez will be performing the Super Bowl Halftime Show alongside Shakira. That is how you book a show, football people in charge of such things, whoever you are. I am not overselling it when I say that Lopez ranks among the most dynamic live performers in the business, whatever you may think about her music. (Want proof? Watch this video.)
That this will be taking place two days before Oscars voting ends is just *chefs kiss* magnificent. When her Best Supporting Actress competition is out shaking hands and answering bland questions at screening Q&As, Lopez will be setting the stage on fire on the biggest entertainment event of the year. Will such a blazing reminder of her breadth of talents win her an Oscar? Well, it wont hurt
Best Dressed at the Emmys!
I am not a fashion reporter, know nothing about labels and designers, and abjectly have no sense of style. But I am gay!!! So take it with that authority that I pronounce Mandy Moores red-carpet look at this years Emmys to be Best Dressed. I love it! She looks great! Sexy high-fashion first lady is a sensational look on her. Good for you, Mandy!
Speaking of the Emmys
The combination of these two photos taken after Fleabag swept the night, the first of creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge and the second of co-star Andrew Scott partying with A Very English Scandal winner Ben Whishaw, just about killed me.
And Speaking of Fleabag
Wendy Williams does not know what that is. Hey, not everyone has Amazon Prime. I dont know why, but this video makes me laugh so much. (Watch it here.)
What to watch this week:
Judy: What Rene Zellweger does in this film is astonishing.
Sorry for Your Loss: I bet you didnt know Facebook had an original series, or that its this good.
Abominable: It looks cute!
Transparent Musicale Finale: Judith Light sings a song called Your Boundary Is My Trigger. Out of its mind.
What to skip this week:
Transparent Musicale Finale: On the other hand, sometimes out of its mind is just out of its mind.
So, too, were male ballet dancers Robbie Fairchild, Travis Wall, and Fabrice Calmels. Besides Wall, who is outspoken about his sexuality and involved in LGBTQ+ activism, I dont know the sexual orientations of the dancers. But I do know that they have a shared experience of bullying and shame because of their passion for something that, to a larger heteronormative, mainstream culture, isnt considered traditionally masculine.
I know that because thats precisely what they told Spencer Monday morning on GMA.
The Daily Beasts Obsessed
Everything we cant stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.
The dancers were part of a combination apology package and teachable moment that was orchestrated following Fridays controversy. During a segment on the courses that Prince George will be enrolled in when he begins school, Spencer outwardly laughed as she explained that he will be taking ballet, and ad libbed jokes at the expense of the six-year-old and his parents until her co-hosts and the GMA studio audience joined her in laughter.
After a breezy, anodyne Instagram apology over the weekend, she returned to GMA Monday morning earnestly contrite as she introduced her conversation with the trio of dancers. It was a segment that got many things rightafter it aired Monday morning, Wall and Fairchild were in Times Square teaching dance to both young girls and boysbut still got some very key things wrong. The same thing that these teachable moments tend to always get wrong.
I screwed up. I did, Spencer said Monday morning. The comment I made about dance was insensitive, it was stupid, and I am deeply sorry. I have spoken to several members of the dance community in the last few days. I have listened. I have learned about the bravery it takes for a young boy to pursue a career in dance.
Fairchild, a former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet who will be starring alongside Taylor Swift and Judi Dench in the Cats movie, spoke about being in middle school when his schoolmates discovered that he was taking a dance class down the street, showed up at the window of the studio, and pointed and laughed. I cant tell you how much that hurt, he said.
Calmels, a French ballet dancer who is the lead dancer at Chicagos Joffrey Ballet, spoke about how he teaches dance to young kids, and has seen boys just drop out because of the stigma around the form. He continued, Children should be entitled to experience things without being bullied.
And Wall, who became famous as a contestant on the TV series So You Think You Can Dance and has won two Emmy Awards for his choreography on the show, spoke about the power of visibility a mainstream series can have. How many boys have started to dance because of that show makes me so proud to represent that show.
Spencer ended it all by thanking them for participating in the conversation: For me, the lesson is words hurt. It was not my intention. But it was insensitive, and I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to apologize personally to you.
It was everything you could have hoped for in the aftermath of an incident that so cruelly reminded us that boorish gay-shaming and the crushing judgment of gender norms are still intrinsically woven into the fabric of our culture. It was eye-opening to see that such harmful judgment can be espoused with casual sunniness on a popular morning show, perhaps the baseline at any given moment for our own cultural mores, for better or worse.
Spencer delivered a humbled, educated, clear apology, coupled with the understanding that the incident needed to spark a conversation with those who felt wronged. But the truth is, the conversation only involved a segment of those who felt wronged.
While it was an admirable exploration of what a male dancer must overcome to keep on through childhood lessons into a career in the discipline, as well as the need to break the stigma against boys who dance, the segment failed to explore what necessitated the conversation in the first place.
Even for someone who should be considered an allyI dont think theres anyone who thinks Lara Spencer is truly homophobic, in the sense of how we typically view that wordher words were a reminder that there is a switch waiting to be flipped that reveals how embedded these hurtful clichs about gender and sexuality are.
Boys just drop out because of the stigma around the form. Children should be entitled to experience things without being bullied.
What if a major morning show like GMA, in the wake of a viral controversy like this one, actually addressed that? What if it finally brought in, alongside the straight-passing, studly male ballet dancer success stories, LGBT schoolkids and experts on the tangible effects of this latent societal bullying?
Cancel culturethe impulse to fire anyone who makes a public misstep or says something offensive, mistakenly or otherwisehas grown too rabid, voracious, and unforgiving to be effective. What is gained when, instead of conversation or contrition, all discourse and education stops? Its opportunity wasted not just for the person in question to grow, but for the entire culture to consider, debate, and evolve.
In the wake of Spencer mocking Prince George and male dancers, Broadway stars, celebrities, and dance icons posted on social media to admonish her comments on a sliding scale of vitriol, and to defend the dedication, strength, and athleticism it takes to become a dancerall attributes that fly in the face of this elemental misconception that dance is exclusively flouncy, fey, and weak.
It is admirable that Spencer seemed to internalize all those commentsat least in her public-facing, televised lifeand consider the value of translating her own education to her shows audience.
With so many of these controversies, the most that the offended hope for or desire is a conversation about it, one that almost never happens. The most infuriating aspect of the Kevin Hart Oscars hosting scandal, at least for me, was the insinuation that anyone angered or disappointed by his past homophobic jokes wanted him to be fired, no questions asked, no chance for remorse. Its myopicand, to my eye, a recent and unhealthy development in our cultureto not see opportunity in outrage.
Critics wanted to know what Hart had learned about why his past jokes could still trigger such hurt, even though they were in the past. They wanted to understand how he feels his platform could be used for the better. They wanted to understand a mindset that could lead someone away from views like the ones he had articulated in the past to a more evolved perspective today. They wanted a conversation.
But Harts defensive dismissal of the criticism silenced that potential discourse. His petulant martyrdom was maybe more telling than what he said in the first place. Spencers segment Monday may reflect her genuine education, or it may just be damage control. But it did give space to the conversation; its just time for that conversation to be taken deeper.
Its ridiculous that the idea that ballet is for sissies still exists. Men who train in ballet arguably rank among the most physically fit, strongest, disciplined athletes in the world. What they are able to accomplish with their bodies is as astounding, often more so, than anything someone might witness while watching sports.
Gene Kelly, Mikhail Baryshnikov, hell, even Channing Tatum or Hugh Jackman: How many strapping leading men will we see become major stars because of their talent for dance, while still perpetuating the idea that real men dont dance? (Oh, and if youre a talented male dancer without biceps as big as your head and a square jaw to fill a movie screen? THATS OK, TOO!)
But, ridiculous or not, that notion does still exist. Whats maybe more surprising is that we allow ourselves to forget it does.
When theres progress of any kind when it comes to gender representation, LGBTQ+ acceptance, and the celebration of identity, we forget how surface-level that can be. We forget how much deeper our feelings, conversations, and self-reflection have to burrow for change, real change, to happen.
Just look how easy it was for every single person on screen, from Spencer to her co-hosts to the audience behind her, to laugh at a little boy taking ballet class, like it was a reflex to do so. Maybe because it still is.
How many of us are woke but, when it comes down to it, are uncomfortable around anything that doesnt conform to the gender roles weve been conditioned to accept? How many of us think we are understanding, until were faced with the opportunity to prove it? How many people are there who love their gay friends, love their gender non-conforming hair dressers, love going to Broadway shows, and love marching in Pride parades who might still blanch at the idea of their own sons taking ballet, or, to take the hypothetical further, being gay?
Im not sure these are topics that could be properly delved into in a five-minute Good Morning America segment. Im glad that the small spotlight on the shame and stigma faced by male dancers, at the very least, was. But what if, this time, we can wring from the knee-jerk outrage just a little bit more?