October Surprise! Jared Leto Will Play Joker in the Justice League Snyder Cut.

Leto’s version of the Joker appearing in Zack Snyder’s Justice League also means that Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey exist in its universe. Jared Leto Emerges From 12-Day Meditation Retreat, Learns About Coronavirus

Tags: Leto’s Joker was not in the original Justice League, but now Snyder has free rein to execute his truest vision for the film, and that vision involves Leto in grills. As if this year couldn’t get any worse, The Hollywood Reporter just has to go ahead and reveal that Jared Leto is reprising his role as the Joker from 2016’s Suicide Squad for Zack Snyder’s reshoots of the 2017 DC superhero movie Justice League. HBO Max is financing this round of reshoots, with money that should really be going toward funding more seasons of Infinity Train, but will instead go toward a makeup artist in PPE writing the word damaged in cursive on Leto’s forehead every day. Snyder’s really going to give the fanboys everything they want in 2021. NO. Related

What Hath the Snyder Cut Released? Photo: Warner Bros.

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Quibi Quick Bites the Dust

Katzenberg pulled the plug after a restructuring firm hired by Quibi recommended shutting down as an option earlier this week. Photo: Quibi

Well, well, well. But numbers released in July estimated that just 72,000 people converted to paid subscriptions after their three-month free trials expired, finally answering our question “Is Anyone Watching Quibi?” with a resounding “No.” Maybe things would’ve gone differently if they’d called it Omakase instead? Founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, previously Walt Disney Studios chairman and DreamWorks CEO, told investors the news on October 21, according to Journal sources. Yep, Quibi Is Bad

Tags: For now, we don’t have a comment,” a Quibi spokesperson told Vulture. That development came after Quibi floated a sale last month, also reported by the Journal. Katzenberg initially blamed the COVID-19 pandemic, given Quibi’s debut about a month after it began, rather than facing initial issues like the lack of capability to screenshot. “We’ll share a statement this afternoon. A source also tells Vulture the company is holding an all-hands meeting at 6 p.m. Well, here’s to hoping Nikki Fre$h and Gayme Show can land on proper streaming services where they belong, and that Joe Biden doesn’t let CEO Meg Whitman anywhere near his Cabinet. Just over six months after it launched, short-form streaming service Quibi is shutting down, The Wall Street Journal reports. ET on October 21. Related

Is Anyone Watching Quibi? Since its launch, the service dealt with low viewership on its shows — which include such esteemed fair as The Anna Kendrick Sex Doll Show, er, Dummy; Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d; and something called Murder House Flip. Anna Kendrick in Dummy, a Quibi show.

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For Real, Though, How Old Is Emily (in Paris) Supposed to Be?

 To just sort of wave your hands about vaguely in the direction of an actress and say she could be anywhere from 22 to 31 is criminally lazy writing. Obviously, a true middle millennial would gush about living that Mary-Kate and Ashley Passport to Paris fantasy, so either she is an extremely emotionally stunted 31-year-old, or she is supposed to be much younger than that. Begin at the beginning, grounded in reality: Lily Collins is 31 years old.Without any information to the contrary, one assumes we are to believe that actress and character are the same age, non? Time to consult an expert!Let’s invite Lily Collins, star of the show, to weigh in. For some reason her number-one point of reference for Paris is Ratatouille (2007). (“Doug.”) Their situation is apparently serious enough that, when she’s supposed to move to Paris, she assumes they will make it work long distance. We are talking about two completely different life stages! We leave reality and enter the “Paris” of the show’s title, where Emily’s behavior would suggest she is … 24? I have exhausted my own resources. Did she not tell Pierre that she and her friends were obsessed with Gossip Girl? (Though still, I think, older than Emily is supposed to be.) There was so much I did not know then, even things I didn’t know I didn’t want to know, like for instance how Jeffrey Toobin occupies himself during meetings. My early note regarding the ambiguity of Emily’s age has, in my mind, become the stuff of lore — like a meet-cute, but for a reporter and a mystery. Without anything else to justify why this marketing firm would send Emily to Paris in Madeline’s stead, we have to assume that Emily is not a recent college graduate who hasn’t even made it through her first performance review. Speaking of experts, I also reached out to Netflix for comment… but they have not gotten back to me. So wouldn’t she at least be seeing herself as Blair galavanting about Paris, instead of a cartoon kitchen rat? What do we even really know about Emily? You might not be 22, but I gotta say – you do act like it sometimes!!!”

Okay, cool fine awesome, but … LITERALLY HOW OLD IS SHE THEN? Probably they thought it would be too wink-wink to have her talking about Carrie Bradshaw in Paris, but what adult is like, “When I think of Paris, I think of a Pixar movie for children that was released in 2007”? During the premiere, it seemed unlikely that this marketing gig was Emily’s first job out of college, because Madeline, her much older and wiser and more experienced boss, insisted that Emily had done the requisite work and dues-paying to deserve this (hilarious, so beyond her, honestly can you EVEN) promotion. If she was 10 years old in 2007, she’d be 22 years old in 2019 — this, I believe, is the absolute youngest we can believe her to be, given her aforementioned master’s, and even that is pushing it. The strongest case in favor of Emily being 22: How she feels about Gabriel.For me, the most “I don’t know about you, but you could be 22” tell is that, when Emily found out Gabriel had a girlfriend that he hadn’t told her about, she did not IMMEDIATELY clock that he was a fuckboy who was unworthy of her time or energy, but instead rationalized his lie by omission (it just never came up! We are seeking an answer that does not exist. Maybe this is her first year after graduation. Fifteen? She’s had enough experience at her company in Chicago to have earned the respect of her boss. Their actions observed the laws of physics within the show’s internal universe. Also to make matters more confusing, Gossip Girl premiered in 2007 … which makes sense if Emily is 31 but way less sense if she is 22 … though of course she could have binged it at a later date … the mind reels, the timeline collapses in on itself, the center cannot hold. Tags: She’s gone to school for this, and she’s completed internships. Yet we will work with what we have and unearth what we can. See: Her complete cluelessness re: how to conduct herself in a professional setting; how easily she is scandalized by not-actually-that-scandalous dating and marital practices; the naïveté of bursting into a workplace with zero regard for its culture, norms, or language and expecting everyone to just be super-happy to hear all your (rude) ideas; every other dopey thing she does that made me, in my more forgiving moments, believe it was entirely possible that our (anti-)heroine had experienced blunt head trauma shortly before our series began. This introduces a NEW mystery, which is: Who told Lily Collins she had to “correct” the record, and if they were going to be so adamant about that … why didn’t they tell her what age to state publicly instead? We Couldn’t Help But Wonder: How Does Darren Star Define a Darren Star Show? Related

Emily in Paris’s Biggest Faux Pas Is Emily Herself

Would Emily in Paris’s Bot-Like Instagram Actually Go Viral? I was much younger then. If she had gone to a different company in Chicago, she would have been taken seriously – but in Paris, she’s not prepared for the cultural shift that she experiences at Savoir. Plus, at one point Emily mentions having a master’s in marketing, which would, at minimum, put her in her mid-20s. A very reasonable office ensemble for someone who is … 24? Will this question be answered when season two rolls around? Presumably I have endeared myself to Netflix with my adoring coverage of this series. She’s a smart cookie and really innovative – and this is not her first rodeo doing what she does. However, even in the event Emily Cooper was born in 1998, I still don’t believe that she would be talking about Ratatouille this much and that she wouldn’t have other, more sophisticated and/or relevant references to draw on for this journey. Basically, she’s always kind of been a big fish in a small pond – and then suddenly in Paris she’s a fish out of water. Of course, this is a bad idea because that kind of universality only arises out of specificity, so instead of getting a character to whom any human could relate we just get this vague idea of a girl/woman, wearing crop tops to the office. In an interview with British Vogue, she said (emphasis added):

“I don’t believe we’ve ever given her a specific ‘number’ for her age, but I believe that she’s pretty fresh out of college. Assisting — though also sometimes obfuscating — this effort will be extratextual intel provided by Lily Collins and (in my opinion) some very telling nonresponses from Darren Star and Netflix. For now let us cling to the possibility that we have figured it out, that the case is cracked like Emily’s fragile brain may have been before our series began: We can estimate that Emily is approximately 22 years old. 31, but with blunt head trauma? It was simply an observation, innocuous and small. Hang on, Lily Collins would like to issue a clarification:Within a day of the British Vogue story going live, Collins posted an Instagram story walking her assertion back: “Emily looking at me when I get her age wrong,” she wrote with a screenshot from the show in which, I guess, it’s supposed to look like Emily is giving a condescending, sassy look? If Emily is 31, she was a high-school senior when Ratatouille came out. Aiding this suspicion is her relationship with the Human Plot Device: the Chicago Boyfriend. This was late September, and I was still young enough to believe that Emily in Paris would get around to making any sense at all and that Emily’s age would become clear in time. I want to say she’s like, 22-ish. It’s really just “smiling with teeth” and “beautiful yet impassive, mouth closed, no teeth.” Anyway, Collins goes on to say: “Sorry girl. But instead things only got murkier, and the inscrutability of Emily’s age endured. She was really, really focused on her jobs in the Midwest, and I don’t think she’s been abroad. Also also, on Younger (which is great) we know how old everyone is, for obvious reasons. But most of Emily’s facial expressions look the same! It is time for me to put on my investigative journalist hat (NOT to be confused with a bucket hat, which I do not own and will not be acquiring) and dig into this, the great unanswered query of our time. WELL. As Emily would never say because she still cannot speak a single syllable of French: qui vivra verra! I know that these are all very human mistakes that one could make at any time, but back-to-back-to-back like that, I want to believe that these are the foibles of a just-out-of-college child, not a 31-year-old woman. Let’s say we are supposed to believe, based on her devotion to Ratatouille, that she was a child when the movie was released in theaters and it is to her what, say, The Lion King is to the average 31-year-old. Also at one point she says they are “engaged to be engaged” which … is not a thing, but feels like the kind of made-up mantra a delusional 31-year-old, who has been in a dead-end relationship for some considerable and borderline-embarrassing length of time, might have to say to herself to create the perception that she did not waste years of her life on someone who will never actually marry her. From the jump, Emily appears to be a classic middle millennial: someone who remembers dial-up internet but not rotary phones, is active on (an extremely, aggressively lame, implausible that it could be the work of a social-media professional) Instagram but has no TikTok. I trust they will return my emails soon! We go forth knowing nothing, understanding less.Here is what I believe: It is impossible to discern for sure how old Emily is supposed to be, because Emily is not “supposed” to be any age, because nobody involved in the writing or production of this show ever bothered to give her an age around which a significant part of her identity, perspective, and voice could be built. And I assume this is because the Emily in Paris powers that be (mistakenly) think that if Emily is no age then Emily is all ages, and viewers who are 22 and 31 and everything in between will be able to see themselves in Emily. Very little, it turns out! Super innocent!) and his incessant flirtation (okay, wow, guys and girls can be JUST FRIENDS) and his kissing her back when she kissed him before she knew about the girlfriend (it’s just being POLITE, who among us doesn’t accidentally kiss people back when we’re in committed monogamous relationships with other people??) and his continued emotional and sometimes physical pursuit of her even after she and Camille met and became friends (it’s fine, we’re all friends here!!! 15? Collins has denied that Emily is 22 but she has not confirmed that Emily is … whatever age she is?! As I wrote, “It’s … unclear to me how old Emily is supposed to be.”

Well. Thirty-one, but with blunt head trauma?Emily’s conduct is so consistently juvenile that it pains me to believe she and I (and Lily Collins) are intended to be peers. Literally, a 22-year-old is in a different generation (Gen Z) from a 31-year-old (millennial, no longer a synonym for “kids these days”). Also, we knew how old everyone was supposed to be. Again, I maintain this is because there IS no age, that Emily is untethered from the time-space continuum as we know it. Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

In my recap of the series premiere of Emily in Paris, I raised a concern. Using the limited biographical information we’ve been given, combined with the sum total of Emily’s incoherent and deeply frustrating choices, actions, mannerisms, and outfits, I will do my damndest to triangulate what year Emily Cooper entered this burning world. Her only real experience of Europe is through movies and TV.”

This feels like as good a place as any to note that the age of the main character is an EXTREMELY basic detail, critical to the entire series making any sort of coherent sense, and it is embarrassing for all parties involved that when asked point-blank about Emily’s age, the person who is tasked with bringing said character to life can offer little more than a guess that starts with “like” and ends in “-ish,” which is to say:  ¯_(ツ)_/¯. Some Vulture recap readers felt I was being too hard on a show that was just trying to be Sex and the City lite, but I think this standard unfairly maligns Sex and the City, which was, in fact, an excellent television show — I’ll let Emily Nussbaum take that point from here — and even when its characters were obnoxious or wore absurd outfits or made bad romantic choices, all of those choices came from clearly defined characters whose behavior (mostly) tracked! This is how they do things in PARIS), and how, when he unceremoniously broke up with Camille and made this enormous career decision without even consulting his longtime serious girlfriend, he shrugged it all off like, oh well, guess there was nothing we could do to make it work, may as well have sex with the American neighbor I have been hitting on for months. However, she’s not the person who travelled during college. OFF WE GO. It wasn’t even a question yet.

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How the Sitcom Mirrored, and Shaped, Public Perceptions of New York City

In its seven-plus decades, the sitcom has uncannily mirrored, and shaped, public perceptions of New York City. In the show’s one surviving episode, Johnny chides Mary Kay for buying a small brush from a door-to-door salesman, only to get suckered into buying a much more expensive vacuum when the salesman returns. It was an ongoing comedy about an American family at home and featured short, funny stories about domestic life and minor marital squabbles. It was the first American television sitcom, appearing several months before the first officially programmed season of network television, and it was unlike anything viewers had seen before. But Mary Kay and Johnny returned every night to the same two characters (played by real-life couple Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns) in the same tiny New York apartment. In 1989, Seinfeld began to promulgate the idea that New York City existence was principally about having wacky, if venal, neighbors, and it conveyed local references— H&H bagels, black-and-white cookies, subway seat-stealers, George Steinbrenner as perpetual white noise—to a national audience. 269, Walt Disney Television/ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images (Taxi); Getty Images (Friends); FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images (I Love Lucy); Castle Rock Entertainment/Everett Collection (Seinfeld); HBO/courtesy: Everett Collection (Sex and the City); Bettmann/Contributor (All in the Family)


It Came From New York

Tags: The 1970s impulse toward social conscience, told through two generations at a Brooklyn high school, made itself seen on Welcome Back, Kotter. Photo: The Encyclopedia of New York

In November 1947, the DuMont television network aired the fifteen-minute premiere of a show called Mary Kay and Johnny. Since then, sitcoms have helped America reconceive New York not as somewhere to get stabbed but as a place where you could live your best life. (The set had only one room, which had to be redecorated depending on whether the day’s episode called for the living room or the bedroom.)

That idea, the small residential space serving as a regular backdrop for mundane but meaningful, humorous stories about everyday life, became a foundational piece of sitcom DNA. ‘The Encyclopedia of New York,’ by the Editors of ‘New York’ Magazine


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Photo: New York Magazine


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Source photos (top image): Columbia TriStar Television/Everett Collection (The Jeffersons); Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images (How I Met Your Mother); Chris Haston/NBC/Everett Collection (Will & Grace); courtesy Everett Collection (The Honeymooners); Moviestore Collection Ltd./Alamy Stock Photo (The Goldbergs); Collection Christophel/NBC Universal/Alamy Stock Photo (30 Rock); p. Mary Kay and Johnny were supposed to live in Greenwich Village, but the show was broadcast live from a small set in the Wanamaker’s department store at 770 Broadway. Yet it again (like its millennial successor, Girls) is attuned to certain aspects of real-life urban existence: Your closest friends become a family of choice, and New York can, against all evidence, be conquered into livability. Most early experimental shows were either adaptations of radio programming, coverage of sporting events, variety shows, or stand-alone fictional stories like those on Kraft Television Theatre. The world’s teenagers saw their lifestyle—and still do in reruns—and liked it, and upon graduation, they and their futons began to descend upon Murray Hill and Boerum Hill and Carnegie Hill in droves. Like the best sitcoms, Mary Kay and Johnny balanced small, easily resolved conflicts with a longer-term fondness for its lead characters, and cramped New York apartments like theirs would become a familiar, stagelike setting for dozens of sitcoms over the next several decades. And the city continued as a go-to setting even after most TV production moved to Los Angeles and sitcoms branched out into workplace backdrops and single-cam setups. Jerry Seinfeld once described the premise of the show like this: “In New York, you can do nothing, and it’s very entertaining.”

Starting in 1994, the six friends of Friends took that premise further, conveying merely by their existence that New York was the place you ought to live if you wanted to enjoy your young adulthood. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo, in later seasons, moved from Manhattan to the suburbs like hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers did. As those young people reach thirty or so, another show in endless syndication often starts to resonate with them: Sex and the City, about another tight-knit group, this time four single women seeking love. It’s there in The Goldbergs, the long-running radio sitcom that transitioned to television in 1949, and in The Honeymooners, the 1955 Jackie Gleason sitcom about a New York bus driver. During the urban-decay years, angry white conservatism in Queens made itself known on All in the Family, and as Black Americans made their way into the upper-middle class, so too did George and Louise Jefferson, movin’ on up from Queens to Manhattan. They too live beyond their ostensible means; their New York is principally built on commerce and glitz, a fantasy of pink cocktails, over-the-top fashion, and the social whirl, somehow undergirded by a mysteriously substantial income. I Love Lucy, set on the Upper East Side through most of its run, was shot entirely in California. Never mind that the characters live in apartments their careers could not possibly pay for; never mind that they seem to work half as much as any actual New Yorker with a job does.

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Enough With the Chris Discourse

Berg’s tweet gave people an opportunity to voice and reaffirm this opinion. And besides, we all know there are only two good Chrises in the world: Chris … pin Glover and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. Marvel, weigh in, and see which actor the internet is giving the boot to (👀) at the link in our bio. Contrary to popular conservative conspiratorial belief, Hollywood isn’t one big liberal cesspool; as Katharine McPhee, Ice Cube, and Kirstie Alley have demonstrated, there are many Republicans and Trump supporters in their ranks. It feels redundant to even outline the concept, so ubiquitous is the worst-Chris discourse — or Chriscourse. Every few months, someone makes the same revelation, that gee, there sure are a lot of often-shirtless white dudes named Chris working in movies nowadays. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Shutterstock

Here we go again. That so many of these Marvel movies — as well as parallel hits at the time like J.J. When Berg’s “One has to go” post went viral, Schwarzenegger came to her husband’s defense, responding in the comments to an E! There’s so much going on in the world and people struggling in so many ways. This is a distraction. They are: Hemsworth, the Australian one; Evans, the nude-leak one; Pine, the aforementioned one; and Pratt, the more conservative one. Delete your social media accounts, sit with your OWN defects of #character, work on THEM, then celebrate your humanness… Two Chris vehicles — Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger — were both released in 2011; Avengers would follow the next year, weaving them together and nailing down the MCU’s serialized, intertwining approach to its blockbusters. He is just not overtly political as a rule. But do we need to have a twice-yearly referendum on whether or not this solidifies him as the worst of his tribe? There’s enough room to love all these guys. Tags: For those who don’t follow these things because they lead fulfilling lives, the perceived strikes against Pratt include but are not limited to: his Don’t Tread on Me shirt, his attendance at an Evangelical megachurch with intolerant beliefs about LGBTQ marriage and other religions, and his stubbornly quiet political stance, which recently included skipping an Avengers fundraiser for Joe Biden featuring many other cast members (including Democrat Chris Evans). No matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up and handle it.-Tupac You got this @prattprattpratt. A real #Christian who lives by #principle, has never demonstrated anything but #positivity and #gratitude… Let’s keep our eyes on the prize, friends. It’s great that Chris Evans is an outspoken Democrat, but the job of all of these guys is to be a himbo onscreen and a millionaire off, and it’s weird to want more from them instead of amplifying the voices of actual activists who do politics as their job. pic.twitter.com/HUWnbQOA43— Amy Berg (@bergopolis) October 17, 2020

This is what sportsmen in basketball call an “easy bucket” (I made that up, don’t look it up). @prattprattpratt I #gotyerbackbackback (📸 @jimmy_rich ) A post shared by Robert Downey Jr. Two weeks away from the election, and the nation is gripped by a divisive, political discourse; one that comes around cyclically, as if by constitutional mandate. It’s not funny and it’s nothing new. The discourse was once a useful rhetorical tool for processing what movies looked like; now they no longer serve that function, particularly in a year when there aren’t even any Marvel movies at all. Related

Which Ryan Murphy Show Is This Hot White Guy In? And of course, there’s the fact that Pratt and beloved actress Anna Faris divorced following eight years of marriage, after which Pratt quickly got engaged to and married Katherine Schwarzenegger. Berg’s proposition is rhetorical, meant to line up quick-dunks (another basketball term, don’t fact-check this) because Chris Pratt is widely acknowledged to be the Worst Chris. Abrams’s Star Trek reboot — were fronted by similar-looking buff boys named Chris was a perfect encapsulation of our fascination and unease with this changing movie landscape. Let’s try that. 🙏♥️

View this post on Instagram It's an age-old debate: Which Hollywood Chris is the best? It’s hack. We are so close now.— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 20, 2020

View this post on Instagram What a world… Want viral engagement and some RTs? (📷: Getty) A post shared by E! Your family, friends, colleagues & everyone who’s ever crossed paths with you knows your heart and your worth!— Zoe Saldana (@zoesaldana) October 21, 2020

You all, @prattprattpratt is as solid a man there is. Being mean is so yesterday. Another reason why we have to put the Chriscourse to bed once and for all is that Chris Pratt isn’t actually that much of an outlier in the assumed conservatism with which some fans take issue. To continue to fixate on these four bland vanilla wafers is to perpetuate their centrality in Hollywood, and I, for one, would really rather not. Fire up the Chriscourse. The question refers, of course, to the white Hollywood Chrises who star in mostly Marvel superhero blockbusters (the exception being Star Trek and Wonder Woman Chris, Pine). Many critics felt that this almost television-inspired approach to moviemaking led to a certain, numbing sameness, structurally and aesthetically. When it comes to the Chrises, it’s fine to ponder how the once-dopey puppy poster boy Andy Dwyer managed to take the Star-Lord role away from Glenn Howerton, thus setting us on a different, darker timeline where Glenn Howerton is not a movie star and instead, we have Trump and COVID and the lame Jurassic reboots. The Chriscourse was a way to point it all out and process it. I’d argue “no.”

People still making “best Chris” tweets in the year of our lord 2020 pic.twitter.com/JNRX45bwnB— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) October 20, 2020

The Chris Discourse is stale and tired. To rank Chrises is cringe. It’s a vestigial limb leftover from the days when the words “internet boyfriend” were a thing. Love is what we all need not meanness and bullying. Fast-forward and films like Black Panther and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse have made the term “Marvel movie” far less white and homogenous than what the Chrises once symbolized. A decade ago, we were in the early throes of the Marvel-fication of Hollywood, a shift that forever changed tentpoles. Still, as though she were the first person to realize that “ew, moist sure is a gross word, isn’t it?,” TV writer Amy Berg tweeted a grid of the Four Chrismen of the Chrispocalypse with the caption, “One has to go.”

One has to go. Twitter wants to know: Who is the “worst Chris”? The “sinless” are casting stones at my #brother, Chris Pratt… News (@enews) on Oct 19, 2020 at 8:01pm PDT

Pratt’s co-stars also came to his defense, with Zoe Saldana supportively quoting Tupac, Mark Ruffalo trying to draw our collective attention back to the election, and Robert Downey Jr. AND he just married into a family that makes space for civil discourse and (just plain fact) INSISTS on service as the highest value. News Instagram post about the Chriscourse, calling this whole thing “so yesterday”:

Is this really what we need? We have evolved past the need. If you take issue with Chris,,, I’ve got a novel idea. That’s not to say we should just remain silent when celebs are being actively harmful, dumb, or fascist-adjacent. I know him personally, and instead of casting aspersions, look at how he lives his life. endorsing most of Pratt’s beliefs. Official (@robertdowneyjr) on Oct 20, 2020 at 2:53pm PDT

Schwarzenegger is right, actually: The Chris discourse really is “so yesterday.” Maybe there was a time when the “worst Chris” conversation was necessary, but we are well past that moment.

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Matthew McConaughey Reveals He Was Blackmailed and Sexually Abused As a Teen

“I was certain I was going to hell for the premarital sex. “Page Six” reports that in the book, McConaughey reveals that he lost his virginity at age 15, due to blackmail. I couldn’t believe it. Matthew McConaughey
Photo: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Matthew McConaughey’s memoir, Greenlights, was released on October 20, and in it, the actor shares “stories from the past” and “adventures in my life,” beginning in his early years, before he broke out as a star. He’d always told me and my brothers, ‘Boys, when I go, I’m gonna be makin’ love to your mother.’ And that’s what happened. According to Vanity Fair, McConaughey also claims in the book that his father died while having sex with his mother. Nobody or nothing could kill him. Sources

Page Six

Vanity Fair


Matthew McConaughey Shared an Essential Fourth of July Message

Tags: He had a heart attack when he climaxed.’” If you gotta go, that’s the way to go. These are not the only instances of sex and trauma in McConaughey’s memoir. “I was blackmailed into having sex for the first time when I was 15,” McConaughey writes. Except for mom. Today, I am merely certain that I hope that’s not the case.” McConaughey also writes that he was “molested by a man when I was 18 while knocked unconscious in the back of a van.” According to “Page Six,” the actor gives no further details elaborating on these cases of teenage sexual abuse. He was my dad. McConaughey writes: “’My knees buckled.

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Get in the Tub, We’re Watching What Lies Beneath

While it may not wear the label on its sleeve, What Lies Beneath can seem more like a genuine haunted-house movie. Twenty years later, I’m left to wonder, What movie did these people watch? At the end of the day, I tend to plop What Lies Beneath into the hybrid subgenre of adult contemporary horror. What Lies Beneath is available to stream on Hulu or Prime Video with a Showtime subscription and to rent on Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, and iTunes. By design, erotic thrillers feel like voyeurism, with extremely attractive celebrities on the other end of your Rear Window spying. A “morass of absurdity,” said Roger Ebert. There’s also a significant amount of gaslighting horror going on in What Lies Beneath, as in The Lodge, Unsane, and, of course, Gaslight. There’s something chaste about its marital tensions as opposed to the Bound-style movies. And adult contemporary horror is the perfect subtype in which Serious Actors can play. They’re movies that make you feel good and tawdry — like you’re carrying on a torrid affair that isn’t hurting anyone. It’s a wonder anyone makes it out unscathed when running up against the sheer cliffs of Pfeiffer’s cheekbones and jawline, and Ford is at the zenith of his handsome-disciplinarian middle period, perfectly weaponizing his heroic legacy to charm the audience away from seeing the villainy at his core. But scattered amid his filmography are other titles, like Dream House and the classic Don’t Look Now. Deploy a well-placed, aggrieved spirit. Such a description would conjure a movie like The Others or The Haunting, when it isn’t that at all. The adult contemporary horror movie still feels like what Nicole Kidman considers a “sexy date-night movie,” with an edge. (Truly, the subgenre could alternately be referred to as “adults dealing with shit.”)

Twenty years on, What Lies Beneath still reigns supreme in this category. The point of What Lies Beneath isn’t to spook you with ghouls, even if it has fun doing so from time to time. Yet it does manage to serve up plenty of sex appeal thanks to its stars absolutely soaking the screen with their unquantifiably hot respective presences. We deserve to see class and trash collide once again in mid-tier-budget movies with stars of a certain age giving us their best spurned-spouse meltdowns. Embarrassingly, obviously wrong. Today, horror movies are destination events for some of our best thespians looking to go bigger onscreen, their range on display in primal-scream situations. More From This Series

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In The Ring, the House Haunts You

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Tags: There’s a real-ass ghost filling the movie’s negative space (a dead body reanimates and attacks someone), yet to call What Lies Beneath a supernatural thriller doesn’t feel accurate either. ET on Twitter. Sometimes critics are just wrong. Except for a frisky moment between Pfeiffer’s Claire and Ford’s Norman early on in the movie, Beneath is a story that revolves around a sexual transgression but doesn’t feel all that transgressive. Claire suffered a trauma before the timeline of the film begins, providing an easy excuse for people around her to dismiss her troubles as PTSD. It was directed by Zemeckis (in between Castaway shoots), as an homage to Hitchcockian suspense at the dawn of a new century, and written by Clark Gregg (most famous for playing Agent Coulson in every corner of the Marvel Universe), and perhaps the instinctual response is to lump What Lies Beneath in with the erotic thrillers that came before it. Photo: DreamWorks Pictures

Every week for the foreseeable future, Vulture will be selecting one film to watch as part of our Friday Night Movie Club. This subgenre revolves around unmistakably grown-up problems — the crisis of aging, the terrors of past mistakes, marriage problems, issues of motherhood and domesticity — that are a bit more polite than the woes of your cut-and-dried erotic thrillers. But that’s not exactly right. Boil the bunnies. A second question: Has there ever been another movie quite like it? Surely not the Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer popcorn delight I saw, which cleaned house at the box office and is warmly remembered by anyone I’ve ever discussed it with. We deserve to see more class and trash collide in mid-tier-budget movies with stars of a certain age giving us their best spurned-spouse meltdowns. I’m not saying it’s qualitatively better than, say, one of Nicolas Roeg’s masterworks, but I am saying that, for its combination of entertainment value and breezy watchability, its grasp of intrigue, supernatural spookiness, and domestic drama — plus its audience-friendly PG-13 sexiness and a Hollywood Hall of Fame duo bringing prestige performances to the proceedings — the film deserves a critical setting the record straight. Make it feel like a scintillating paperback come to life. This week’s selection — the fourth in a special monthlong celebration of horror — comes from Vulture contributor and Disaster Girls podcaster Jordan Crucchiola, who will begin her screening of What Lies Beneath on October 23 at 7 p.m. As the ghostly presence starts to feel increasingly menacing to Claire, she is waved off as delusional by her husband with increasing hostility. Mike Flanagan is presently one of the foremost purveyors of adult contemporary horror, famous for works like his Haunting Of anthology for Netflix, Gerald’s Game, and Before I Wake — almost all of which go heavy on the ghouls. Head to Vulture’s Twitter to catch her live commentary, and look ahead to next week’s movie here. Friday Night Movie Club

Spend an evening with Vulture, every Friday at 7 p.m. But that classification too feels amiss. Claire cannot escape the specter that terrorizes her in the bathroom mirror and the reflective surface of the bathwater, the one that opens doors before she can touch them and turns on the computer for some light browsing. A subgenre that the ’80s and ’90s solidified and that has since been tragically abandoned along with the rest of mid-budget Hollywood, the erotic thriller is most closely aligned with selections like Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, Disclosure, and Wild Things. Maybe it has ghosts, but it’s not about ghosts. “What Lies Beneath glazes over faster than a Krispy Kreme doughnut,” the New York Times wrote in 2000, “and neither is very flavorful.” “Unconvincing,” the Los Angeles Times claimed of Robert Zemeckis’s thriller. ET.

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Tekashi 6ix9ine Sued by 13-Year-Old in Sex-Video Case

Asked for comment, Hernandez’s lawyer, Dawn Florio, said in a text: “Danny has not been served with the lawsuit but will vigorously defend it.”


Tekashi 6ix9ine Is an Unworthy New York Rap Villain

Tags: In January 2019, Hernandez pleaded guilty, agreeing to help the Feds in the hopes of securing a more lenient sentence. Hernandez and Anderson were 18 and 21 years old at the time, respectively. Hernandez did not stay out of trouble. The judge in this proceeding was swayed, however, by Hernandez’s claims that he helped the community in the years following the incident, sentencing him to just four years’ probation and saying he had to complete 1,000 community-service hours. That wasn’t the end of Hernandez’s legal woes, however. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Tekashi 6ix9ine was sued Tuesday by the minor who is shown participating in sexual activity with adults in videos he put online. His cooperation culminated in several days of snitching against two purported Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods associates during a trial in September 2019. He was released in April, however, after a judge agreed that the asthmatic rapper was particularly susceptible to the coronavirus behind bars. When Hernandez pleaded guilty, he was able to avoid jail time on several conditions: He had to stay out of trouble, get his GED, and serve 300 community-service hours. During an October 2018 court proceeding on the issue, prosecutors reiterated details of the Harlem party incident. He was arrested in May 2018 for allegedly assaulting a police officer and then arrested in July 2018 in relation to an alleged assault of a 16-year-old. In October 2015, Hernandez pleaded guilty in relation to this incident, copping to one count of using a child in a sexual performance, the suit states. The defendant was filmed fondling this child’s breasts and smacking her on her buttocks at the same time she was being penetrated by two adult males, she was being penetrated orally and vaginally.”

“She was in the seventh grade,”  prosecutor Sara Weiss said during an October 2018 court proceeding. Hernandez was sentenced to 24 months in prison in December 2019. This victim, who was 13 years old during the incident, said that the rapper and fellow performer Tauquan “Tay Milly” Anderson brought her to a party in Harlem on February 21, 2015. Hernandez was also given “youthful offender” status, which sealed his state criminal record. Tekashi, legal name Daniel Hernandez, and Anderson gave her alcohol and drugs, then recorded video of her nude and engaging in sex acts. “During that encounter, there was also the creation of sexually explicit videos of that encounter. They then uploaded these videos to social media, her Manhattan Supreme Court civil lawsuit said. The videos showed disturbing images, such as the girl naked while performing oral sex on Anderson with Hernandez behind her, thrusting his pelvis and slapping her backside. He was arrested in November 2018 on a federal racketeering rap involving his association with the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang. They also showed the girl  on their laps as Anderson groped her. “In late February of 2015, the defendant participated in the sexual violation of a child,” prosecutors said. The lawsuit alleged that during this party, “at least” three videos were recorded of the girl with Hernandez and Anderson. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said that because of these arrests, Hernandez hadn’t held up his end of the no-jail deal; it pushed for him to be locked up. “By reason of her age, and being given drugs and alcohol which caused her to be in an impaired mental state without her knowledge, permission or consent, the plaintiff was incapable of consenting to the recording of Video #1, Video #2 and/or Video #3,” the suit maintained.

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Barry Jenkins Is Dropping Underground Railroad Hints

“Well, who builds anything in this country?” another voice replies. The short teaser gives us our first glimpse at actress Thuso Mbedu as Cora. Cora Randall,” we get into Whitehead’s tale of Cora, a runaway slave who uses the Underground Railroad, depicted as a literal underground train system with tracks, conductors, engineers, and tunnels, to search for freedom after escaping her Georgia plantation. Watch the teasers now and keep an eye out for more from Vimeo-er Barry Jenkins. Jenkins, who directed every episode of the limited series, started tweeting clips from the upcoming Prime Video series on October 19, beginning with “Preamble,” a slow gaze across a crowd of Black people in a train station, staring right back. Related

Barry Jenkins Is Directing a Live-Action Lion King Sequel

Tags: In the latest clip posted to Jenkins’s Vimeo Pro account, titled “Randall. Barry Jenkins acolytes will know that the Moonlight team’s adaptation of Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Underground Railroad has been highly anticipated since before La La Land was mistakenly named the Best Picture at the 2017 Oscars, which makes Jenkins’s slow trickle of teasers all the more thrilling. Chills. “Who built all this?” a voice says over composer Nicholas Britell’s soul-gripping score.

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The Animaniacs Are Totally Insaney and Never Mansplainy in Their Reboot Trailer

And sledgehammers! Mostly, though, it’s just nice to know that the Brain keeps trying and failing to take over the world, even amid a pandemic. It’ll be zany to the max. To quote the eternally wise Yakko in the new Animaniacs trailer, “Reboots are symptomatic of a fundamental lack of originality in Hollywood.” That is until Hulu wants to give you a two-season deal worth millions of dollars. Along with Wakko, Dot, Pinky, and the Brain, our Animaniacs crew (with its original voice actors in tow) is back and enjoying its typical nonsense in its water tower. All 13 new episodes will premiere on November 20. Related

Life and Steven Spielberg Find a Way In New Animaniacs Jurassic Park Teaser

Tags: You really should see their new contracts. And red noses!

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Iconic Alert: Ziwe Fumudoh to Star in Showtime Variety Series

Ziwe Fumudoh’s Comedy Is Iconic, Folks

Tags: I can’t wait to make an iconic show with even more iconic guests.”

In addition to the Showtime project, it was announced in August that Fumudoh is writing a book of essays called, naturally, The Book of Ziwe, which is set to be released sometime in January 2022. “She has turned all of our heads here at Showtime, and we’re excited to be the home for her new series as she continues to grow her edgy and hilarious brand of commentary on race, politics and everything in between.”

Added Fumudoh: “I am beyond excited to make my dream a reality with the brilliant minds at Showtime and A24! The comedian is about to level up from serving as a writer on two Showtime series to becoming the star of a Showtime series of her own. Ziwe! The network announced today that the Desus & Mero writer and quarantine-era Instagram Live favorite will executive-produce and star in an untitled variety series produced by A24, which has been given a straight-to-series order. Photo: Taylor Hill/FilmMagic

It looks like we were right to argue this week that Ziwe Fumudoh is on the verge of being a known name to a much wider audience. The show will be a mix of interviews and sketches, “including unscripted and unpredictable real-world rendezvous between everyday people and Ziwe.”

“Through her addictive online series and her work for our own Desus & Mero and Our Cartoon President, Ziwe has clearly emerged as an auteur voice in comedy and culture,” said Showtime exec Vinnie Malhotra in a press release. Related

Who’s Afraid of Ziwe Fumudoh? She is truly a comedian you should — and will — know.

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Outsiders, Girls on Porn, and 6 More Podcasts Worth Trying

Photo-Illustration: Vulture

Quick thing before we get started: Halloween is next week, and I’m planning to do an all-spooky issue for the next edition of 1.5x Speed. Outsiders is produced by the Tacoma station KNKX in partnership with the Seattle Times. Which means that I’m on the prowl for stuff that I’m going to regret listening to when I’m trying to go to bed. (As you might remember, Washington was the first American state to be hit by the coronavirus.) Publication resumed earlier this month, and the show releases its tenth and final episode today. Hope you enjoyed it. We’re back next week, but in the meantime: Send podcast recommendations, feedback, or just say hello at nicholas.quah@vulture.com. But in my opinion, the show more effectively functions as an accessible, sex-positive guide through the complex, esoteric, and often obscure world of digital pornography, rich with increasingly specific subcultures and enmeshed in its own interior political fault lines. Find me on Twitter or reach me over email: nicholas.quah@vulture.com. Now, I can’t speak for folks who are better versed in the world of pornography, having possessed just a superficial understanding of the topic when I first picked up the show, but I do believe that Girls on Porn is a solid example of something that podcasts are uniquely good for: elevating a specific niche — historically underserved for whatever reason — and carving out a space in which that niche can be better understood, explored, and appreciated. The first seven episodes were released from January through March, but the show abruptly went on hiatus after the pandemic threw everything for a loop. Meanwhile…

• One other quick thread to pull from Outsiders: that show also turned me on to Welcome to Olympia, an independent and locally produced narrative series about the city in question. A heart-wrenching twist midway through the series gives it an even deeper meaning, as Cerrotti looks to her grandmother’s life for guidance on how to ‘live a life narrated by death and empowered by grief.’” —Joshua M, Princeton, NJ

And that’s a wrap for 1.5x Speed! Email

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Terms of Service apply. Outsiders is outstanding for the simple reason that it’s able to take something that can feel amorphous and break it down to its core systems, while never losing its sense of the people at the center of the whole thing. I’m still working my way through the archive, and it’s pretty lovely. 1.5x Speed: A Weekly Newsletter of Podcast Recommendations and Reviews
Listening notes for the top shows, from Vulture’s critic Nick Quah. Reader Pick: We Share The Same Sky

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Website

“In this moving seven-part podcast, Rachael Cerrotti retraces her grandmother’s journey as a Holocaust refugee through Central Europe, Scandinavia, and across the United States. • If you’re longing for travel to far-flung places, TED’s Pindrop is back with a new batch of episodes. Girls on Porn

Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Now for something a little out of the blue. This article was featured in 1.5x Speed, New York’s podcast recommendation newsletter. The podcast is effective partly because it keeps things relatively simple: The show’s narrative focuses on the experiences of one city — Olympia, Washington — over the course of a single year. Tags: The series opens at the outset of an experiment in which Olympia’s local government sought to establish a formal encampment in the middle of the city; the question of whether or not that effort will be successful plays out over the rest of the episodes. • Thunder Bay, the Canadian true-crime series about the titular city’s systemic failure to protect its Indigenous community, which first dropped in 2018, is returning with new stories next month. I stumbled onto this show a few months ago when I was working on an episode about audio erotica for my podcast about podcasts, Servant of Pod, and while it’s not exactly the type of show I would’ve naturally picked up if it wasn’t for work — truth be told, I am dispositionally a prude — I’m glad I did, because it’s utterly fascinating. • David Mandel, the famed showrunner of Veep, and Ryan Condal, who’s showrunning the upcoming Game of Thrones prequel, are launching a podcast this week called The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of, which isn’t about showrunning but about movie memorabilia. Okay, let’s get to the picks. Meanwhile, the team stays close to a select group of unsheltered individuals, layering their stories into the larger arc of the city’s efforts. The educational quality of this show comes across particularly when expert guests are invited on to talk about pornography as a site of labor, advocacy, and change, as was the case in the most recent installment that featured SX Noir, the vice president of the Women of Sex Technology, to discuss the phenomenon of deepfakes. Distributed by Headgum, Girls on Porn is pitched as a “porn review podcast,” in which hosts and self-described porn enthusiasts Laura Ramadei and Rachel Napoleon pick a different search term each week and review a few ethically sourced listings from that category. It’s a distribution that emphasizes the surreality of America’s homeless problem, embodied in the split image of how cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles are so abundant with wealth and industry yet perpetually fail to serve large groups of people in structural need. If you live in any city that’s dealing with increasing unsheltered populations, you probably know that it’s a massive and emotionally charged topic. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. We interviewed them last week about why they’ve decided to make a show about their shared esoteric passion. It’s a real feat of narrative balancing, flowing between effectively communicating the way in which homelessness is a problem of fluid systems and grounding the narrative in the lived experiences of unsheltered people. She tracks down the descendants of people who saved her grandmother’s life, moves in with them, and learns about each family’s World War II experience and its intergenerational impact. Sign up here to get it weekly. Outsiders

Apple Podcasts | Spotify

As Outsiders opens its first episode, host Will James tells us that two-thirds of all unsheltered people in American can be found in the three westernmost states of the Lower 48: California, Oregon, and Washington. • Yes, this newsletter comes from the New York Magazine family, but I’m still moved to recommend last week’s episode of The Cut podcast, called “Am I Radical Enough?” Host Avery Trufelman talks to three guests about how to answer that question, and if you’re following politics right now, it’s extremely satisfying listening. Consider this an invitation to ruin my life — give me your picks for the scariest podcast episodes you know.

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Raya and the Last Dragon Trailer: Kelly Marie Tran Has a Sword and an Armadillo

Hurry up and finish that Legend of Korra rewatch before Disney introduces you to a new heroine, Raya. In the teaser trailer for Raya and the Last Dragon, she leaps, kicks, and all but bends elements like the feisty Avatar we’ve grown to love from the Avatar: The Last Airbender sequel. Raya and the Last Dragon comes from directors Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, co-directors Paul Briggs and John Ripa, and producers Osnat Shurer and Peter Del Vecho. “Now, to restore peace, I must find the last dragon,” she declares. The quest is set to begin in theaters in March 2021. Related

Here Are All the Movies Delayed Because of the Coronavirus

Tags: We’ll take 15 plushies, thank you very much. Starring Kelly Marie Tran, the Walt Disney Studios animated film blends Southeast Asian cultures from the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and more to tell the story of Raya, a highly trained guardian of the dragon gem (not a princess!), and her divided people as they battle an evil force. “My name is Raya.” Joining her on the quest to find the last dragon, which is voiced by Awkwafina, is her adorable armadillo sidekick, Tuk Tuk.

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Blackpink Served a Performance From a ’50s Diner on Kimmel

The girls performed the song, off their debut album The Album, on a ’50s-inspired neon set with a diner (that has ice cream, of course) and a swanky convertible. And how fitting, because they served. The on-point dance moves and that perfectly shoutable chorus from this thematic set had us reminiscing about The Tour that could’ve been, but in the meantime, it was a performance you’ll surely fall in love with. The Blinks have officially been fed. Blackpink took the stage live from South Korea on the October 20 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, bringing a bright performance of their new song “Lovesick Girls” from an equally bright stage. Related

Blackpink’s Debut Album, The Album, Is Here With Surprise Cardi B Track


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We Should Be Glad Borat Still Exists

It now appears that Sacha Baron Cohen has created his own insane twist on Lear during this current pandemic.)

There is plenty of political outrage here, too, if that’s what you’re looking for — and let’s face it, it is. The scenes in his hometown were shot in a Roma village in Romania, using local extras. It’s a weirdly heartwarming scene, until you realize that she probably knows how to defuse the situation because she’s been here before. A plastic surgeon, prompted only briefly by Borat, goes into a long analysis of what a Jewish nose looks like. So, no, we don’t actually need Borat anymore. A visit to a crisis pregnancy center demonstrates the extent to which they’ll go (and the actual crimes they’ll overlook) to try and convince women not to have abortions. After initially taking offense at the character, Kazakhstan appears to have made its peace with him. So Borat decides to gift his daughter to Pence, America’s “Vice Pussy Grabber.” This news makes Tutar much excite: Having grown up watching Cinderella-style animated fairy tales of the Donald-Melania romance, she has dreams of marrying a rich old American politician and being kept in a nice cage just like Queen Melania. He’s still fake and we’re still real. Only he was a fake man from a fake land and they were real people from a real society. And yes, the owner does high-five Borat about all the Mexicans Donald Trump can fit in one cage. The monkey never arrives in the U.S. As a result, the Borat-Tutar dynamic has real tenderness. As a result, much of the film features Baron Cohen as Borat in disguise as other people — usually, some variation on a lumbering, bearded American rube with a Prince Valiant haircut, which is somehow both on point and not quite as funny as Borat himself. Photo: Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Fourteen years ago, Sacha Baron Cohen slid the cathartic comic dagger of Borat into the soft tissue where American civility met American bigotry. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan offers its share of shameless stunts and at least one climactic earthshaking self-immolation from a major political figure (I won’t spoil it here, even though you’ll be hearing about it soon enough), but it also reveals the limitations of Baron Cohen’s shtick. For starters, people recognize his character now. Especially given the wink-wink, larger-than-life self-awareness of Baron Cohen’s performance (which is why it’s still incredible that anyone takes Borat seriously), Bakalova’s total commitment to the bit sometimes lulls us into thinking of Tutar as a real person caught in one of the comedian’s ridiculous ruses. But of course, Borat was never actually Kazakh. Baron Cohen’s character speaks a combination of Hebrew and Polish. In one of the movie’s most remarkable sequences, Borat shacks up for a few days with a couple of right-wing conspiracy nuts who, in between explaining to him what QAnon is, describe how the Democrats and the Clintons created the coronavirus. The movie was banned across much of the Arab world. only has 15 coronavirus cases. When Borat, having been released from a gulag by Kazakh strongman Nursultan Nazarbayev (Dani Popescu) and sent to America on a mission to give Vice-President Mike Pence a pet monkey, first arrives in Texas, people chase him down the street and ask for his autograph. And now here he is again. In fact, her performance goes even further: She makes the film’s most absurd moments work dramatically, bringing real emotional gravity to the role of a young woman learning that her vagine will not in fact suck her in and kill her if she dares touch it. A brief stop at a CPAC convention (filmed in late February) lets us glimpse Mike Pence just long enough to hear him smugly puff his chest about how the U.S. That, of course, allows Borat to grow, as his daughter discovers that women can in fact drive cars and read books and drink out of things that aren’t doggy bowls. Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan landed like a cinematic neutron bomb back in 2006, even launching a series of lawsuits from some of its unsuspecting, humiliated subjects. That film still holds up, only today it plays like both a time capsule and an unheeded warning about just how fucked up we truly were. So, now that we’ve fully become a nation of busybodies who outright despise each other, is there any room left for a Borat sequel? This would be a deadly narrative choice — it’s a mockumentary designed to get real people to reveal themselves as ignorant dolts, who cares about two actual performers play-acting against each other as ignorant dolts? If his bite isn’t quite as sharp as it was before, it’s because the world has caught up to, and in some cases surpassed, his phony lunacy. And yes, they do go to a farm supply store to buy a cage for her. Borat himself feels like he was modeled after Mahir Çağrı, a mustachioed, Speedo-friendly Turkish journalist whose goofy home page turned him into one of the world’s first internet celebrities back in the late 1990s. But we should still be glad he exists. Sure enough, she turns out to be a Holocaust survivor. (Mahir actually sued Baron Cohen at one point — but then again, who didn’t?)

In other words, Borat always represented an imaginary Pan-Balkan–Central Asian–Middle Eastern other who embodied the prejudices and retrograde beliefs the West often unfairly ascribed to those cultures. Borat 2 may not hit quite as many shocking comic highs as the first Borat, but it probably coheres more as a film — ironic, given that it appears to have been written, produced, and edited in record time, during a global crisis — and it also manages to walk a fine line between offense and revelation. Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Much of the music used comes from Croat-Serb composer Goran Bregović’s sublime scores for the films of director Emir Kusturica, who still considers himself Yugoslav. And yes, Borat does look at some propane tanks and asks the owner, “How many gypsies can I finish with one canister?” And yes, the owner does reply, “How many you got in the van?”

This is the Borat shuffle, and it still works in a country where everything is transactional and the customer is always right. His marks were often passive, acquiescent, polite, even when they had their suspicions … but then, their guards lowered and their ids unleashed in the presence of this dim-witted foreign journalist with his monstrously medieval beliefs, they hanged themselves with their own horrific words and actions. Secondly, this Borat has an actual story, with actual character arcs and actual emotional turning points and whatnot. (This is why I broke out in hives when I first saw him on Da Ali G Show.) And his gambit was always to turn the tables on those who dared judge him, to show how once you scratched their amiable surfaces, America’s supposedly enlightened etiquette consultants and southern gentlemen and sales associates and college students and doctors and politicians turned out to be just as bigoted and primitive as Borat was. A tanning-salon attendant gamely answers the question of what spray-tan color is best “for a racist family.” A dress-store owner chuckles when Borat asks for “the ‘No Means Yes’ section.”

Amid all the antics involving real-life people, however, the film finds a surprising amount of room to explore the Borat-Tutar relationship. Yes and no. All that outrage is offset by some humanity, too: When Borat visits a synagogue, dressed in a truly bizarre “Jew” costume (hook nose, long claws, black tights, money bags), a kind elderly woman immediately engages him. Borat and Tutar go into a bakery and ask for a cake with the words “Jews will not replace us” on it — no problem. (People have noted Shakespeare likely wrote King Lear during a long-ago plague. — were it not for Bakalova’s voracious energy and immersion in the part. There’s been a lot of talk over the past few years about whether a movie like the original Borat could be made in today’s hypersensitive times. because it is eaten by Borat’s 15-year-old daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova), who has stowed away in the same shipping container as the creature. More Movie Reviews

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Even Paul McCartney Has Made a Quarantine Album

I had no idea this would end up as an album.”

The project follows McCartney’s 2018 solo album, Egypt Station, which became his first No. “I had some stuff I’d worked on over the years, but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished so I started thinking about what I had,” he said. McCartney III is out December 11 and follows the former Beatle’s prior self-titled efforts — his 1970 solo debut, McCartney, and his 1980 cult favorite, McCartney II. But an album celebrating the 50th anniversary of his going solo wasn’t initially part of Macca’s plan, he explained in a statement, saying McCartney III grew out of working on music for a film on his family farm during lockdown. So I just did stuff I fancied doing. “Each day, I’d start recording with the instrument I wrote the song on and then gradually layer it all up; it was a lot of fun. Maybe I’m amazed at the way he made an album during quarantine. The opening and closing tracks are built on an unreleased song from the ’90s, “When Winter Comes,” according to the release. It was about making music for yourself rather than making music that has to do a job. Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

The list of artists who drew on their quarantine experiences for new music this year would already have been properly stacked with Taylor Swift, Charli XCX, and Ariana Grande. 1 in 36 years. What better timing for a new album, then? Related

Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney Are Still Beefing About Who Had the Better Band

Tags: Given the circumstances of lockdown — or “Rockdown,” as his release calls it — McCartney III is set to be a sparser album performed only by McCartney in mostly live takes of the songs. Now that list is about to become infinitely more stacked with a new Paul McCartney album, recorded under lockdown, joining the mix.

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If You Can’t Write a Good Joke, Jay Jurden Isn’t Listening

I like JOKES. (You can read more about our methodology at the link above.) This year, for the first time, we asked the comedians on this list to answer a series of questions about their work and comedy under quarantine. Who is putting out work that excites and inspires you?I love so many people and this is not an exhaustive list but my peers: Chanel Ali, Kenice Mobley, Shalewa Sharpe, Marcia Belsky, Yedoye Travis, Gianmarco Soresi, and Zach Zimmerman are all comics that make me scream out loud. Especially if you’re a Black comedian. And Mulaney because he looks like my boyfriend. A fun one. I think Kylie Brakeman is doing some of the sharpest satire in video form. Who are some of your favorite comedians right now? (Shout-out to Whitney Houston.)

Not to be too mastubatory in this but I really do love my Tonight Show set because it was unapologetically me. I say that both to be silly and catty. What have you done in quarantine for comedy that you thought you would never do?A wise man once said: “People always make fun of front-facing videos until you get paid to do a few.” I had a lot of people reach out to me regarding my “Questions to Stop Asking Bisexual People” video with Freeform and it was ALL LOVE! You really wanna do the straight white man’s work for free? Describe your comedy in five words.Black, queer, Southern, nerdy, well-written (is a hyphen cheating?). Related

The Comedians You Should and Will Know in 2020

Tags: When did you feel that you were funny enough to make a legitimate go at comedy?I thought that I was funny enough to make a career out of comedy around late 2017. Jay Jurden. Summer shows outside could be fun next year too — as a feature, not a necessity. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Photo courtesy of comedian

This week, we’re highlighting 20 talented writers and performers for Vulture’s annual list “Comedians You Should and Will Know.” Our goal is to introduce a wider audience to the talent that has the comedy community and industry buzzing. If you weren’t a comedian, what would you be doing?I would be a personal trainer (just like I already am some mornings right now) or a college professor. I got away with a group sex joke on network TV and then got to laugh about it. That’s a lot of people. So I’ve always liked surprising people with words. Then there are people who inspire me like Amber Ruffin, Chloé Hilliard, Solomon Georgio (he’s gonna think I’m calling him old BUT I’M NOT), Ryan Beck, Matthew Broussard, Joel Kim Booster, Roy Wood Jr., Kyle Kinane, Maria Bamford, Jim Gaffigan, and Wanda Sykes. Next up is Jay Jurden. Not the industry itself, but our inability to endure when the industry punches you in the chest. Be cool and kind. Assuming quarantine ends at some point, is there anything about the way that comedy or the industry in general has changed that you hope continues post-quarantine?I hope that kindness is still trendy. My current comedy being good enough to entertain via Zoom and eventually also succeed in the parks around the city was a welcomed challenge. But I mean it. The fact that I did something to affirm and uplift members of my community during all of this mess was really moving. Mark Phillips and his crew are the only reason to have a Twitter account. Which it will. I also would love it if comedians stopped attacking transwomen and queer people in their sets because it’s 2020. Repeatedly.” And that was motivational and scary all at the same time. The patriarchy will have your ass out here looking very silly. How has quarantine affected the way you approach your comedy and your audience?Precision and execution of a good material has always been very important to me. I had won a few competitions and was confident enough to say “I can definitely do this … and personal training.” I came from a theater background and loved the career autonomy I had in comedy. I want people’s stuff to be good and of good. What of your work do you think you’re best known for?Jokes. He said: “Our own mental state is the only true hurdle in comedy. I very rarely listen to people who can’t write a good joke. I could also see myself being a director of (insert nebulous 9–5 work term here) who says “That’s the kind of energy I like!” way too much for it to be genuine. What is the best comedy advice, and then the worst comedy advice, you’ve ever received, either when you were starting out or more recently?The best advice I ever got was from Roy Wood Jr. People came out to me! The worst comedy advice I ever got was to “dumb down my set.”

Tell us one story from your childhood that is a good representation of your life.I was a very small and somewhat shy kid for a while and my pre-K teacher thought she would have trouble getting me to open up, but when she asked what I liked I said “I’m fascinated by dinosaurs” like a little precocious paleontologist.

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Shonda Rhimes Left ABC for Netflix After a Disneyland Ticket Snub

Rhimes collected herself, hung up, and called her lawyer with a simple directive: She was going to move to Netflix, and she’d “find new representatives” if that couldn’t be accomplished. After receiving some pushback (“We never do this,” she was repeatedly told), Rhimes got the pass, but it failed to work when her sister, with her children and nanny, arrived at the park. And she wouldn’t want it any other way. “Don’t you have enough?” he allegedly responded. Rather, in 2017, Rhimes asked for an additional all-inclusive pass to Disneyland (one of her perks for working at the House of Mouse-owned network) to give to her visiting sister. Rhimes proceeded to call a “high-ranking executive” at the company to figure out the issue, but he showed no interest in giving television’s most prominent showrunner a $154 ticket to the park. Speaking with THR about her decision to switch from her creative home of 15 years, ABC, to the streaming service, Rhimes revealed that the pace and constraints of network television had become too stringent for her life. Related

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Tags: “Like I’d been pushing the same ball up the same hill in the exact same way for a really long time.” Her breaking point, however, didn’t involve a meeting or a writers’ room, even if one ABC executive was determined to “drive down the price tag” of her contract renegotiations. Photo: George Pimentel/Getty Images

Three years, numerous projects, and a male copycat later, Shonda Rhimes is finally set to debut her first series for Netflix (a sexy, gossipy period drama) under her lucrative development deal. “I felt like I was dying,” she explained. Given that she reportedly inked a $300+ million deal, we’d say Rhimes made the right call.

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A Willow Series Will Journey to Disney+


Ron Howard Could Be Taking Us Back to the World of Willow for Disney+

Tags: Disney said in a release that the “production plans to return to the dramatic and enchanted landscapes of Wales, where much of the original film was shot.” Ah, yes. Chu will also be an executive producer and direct the pilot episode, which was penned by Solo writer Jonathan Kasdan. That’s the thinking, maybe, we guess (why not?), behind Disney’s announcement that it has ordered a series adaptation of the high-fantasy Lucasfilm adventure movie Willow for its Disney+ streaming service. Photo: Metro Goldwyn-Mayer

Before there was Baby Yoda, there was … the baby from Willow. Warwick Davis will be back as Willow from Willow in the upcoming Willow. Warwick Davis will return to reprise his role as the heroic Willow Ufgood. Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. This series will take place in the same medievalish fantasy world conceived by George Lucas and director Ron Howard for the 1988 original, and Howard will return to this series to executive produce. Dramatic and enchanted.

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Wicked Loses Its Director … for Good

Deadline reports that Daldry’s exit is “amicable” and a simple creative casualty of the coronavirus pandemic — but also that the film was moving at a “quicker” pace than Daldry was comfortable with. (Which is crazy to think about, given that Daldry was attached to direct Wicked as early as 2012.) A search for a new director has already begun. Related

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Tags: Photo: Ian West – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images

Maybe call it the Cats ripple effect: The film adaptation of Wicked has lost director Stephen Daldry, making it the latest turn for an adaptation that has seemingly been in the pre-production stage for years. Universal, the studio producing the film, confirmed earlier this year that Wicked’s planned December 22, 2021 release date has been pushed back to an undefined time in 2022 “or later,” presumably to ensure that Kristin Chenoweth and Ariana Grande can clear their schedules.

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Every Halloween-Themed Disney Channel Original Movie, Ranked

4. They hit all the right candy buttons: They’re nostalgic, they’re easy to stream on Disney+, and they’ll get you in the Halloween spirit without scarring your brain. It’s very much in the spirit of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland: It’s Baby’s First Macabre Memento Mori. Twitches. This next entry expanded the franchise’s universe and lore and gave tween viewers everything they wanted with the menacing hottie love interest–slash–secret villain, Kal (Daniel Kountz). Twitches (2005)

Twitches really plugs into the teen fantasies of finding a long-lost identical twin sister and learning that you’ve got a magical destiny in another land. 9. It has an arch sense of humor and a cast of comedy heavy hitters that elevate the material. 7. It’s just as festive but entirely defanged. What doesn’t make total sense is that the twin witches in question are 21 and not, you know, tweens. It’s like Pleasantville, if Pleasantville involved Reese Witherspoon turning into a goblin. Three years after the first movie, Halloweentown had already become a fall-time staple. Pairs well with fun-size candies and rainy weather. Spooky Halloween DCOMs can be watched at any age, and they run an aesthetic gamut of styles ranging from “obviously filmed in Canada” to “more sneakily filmed in Canada.” They usually center around tweens happening upon a fantastical discovery that they have to keep hidden from the grown-up world and/or the rest of the school. Under Wraps (1997)

Under Wraps earns points for being the first-ever Disney Channel Original Movie and loses points for being less of an in-Mouse production. This is the last Halloweentown movie with the dream team of Debbie Reynolds and Kimberly J. Spoiler alert, but there’s a happy ending where the annoying servant-sidekicks get married and don’t kiss. That’s what spooky-but-not-scary movies are for. Girl vs. Finn Wittrock plays the love interest! If you thought Disney kept its Mickey gloves off the world of the dead, save for the contractually obligated dead parent that every other DCOM protagonist has, you thought wrong. Not a dollar went to the special effects. Sheffield from The Nanny is the titular vampire. Halloweentown High (2004)

Before zombies went to human high school or villains went to good-guy high school, the Halloweentown franchise arranged an exchange program for some monster kids, including some High School Musical backbenchers like Lucas Grabeel and Olesya Rulin. Monster are the bops! The Wikipedia page says that Twitches Too had a $26.5 million budget. The stakes feel much higher and the villain more menacing in the sequel, and with a name like Kalabar’s Revenge, how could it not? Related

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Tags: It’s the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland, and jack o’-lanterns, and any number of Scoobys-Doo. Photo: Disney Channel

There is a huge difference between scary and spooky. 5. 10. Here, a ranked guide to every Halloween-themed Disney Channel Original Movie for your viewing pleasure. Return to Halloweentown (2006)

The Sinister Sisters walked so the Weird Sisters could run, sure, but replacing Kimberly J. Scary is horror: jump scares and nightmares and Blumhouse. Sex and the City Bat Mitzvah–girl era Kat Dennings stars alongside Eric Idle, Tommy Davidson, and Kathy Najimy, who are ghosts. 3. Monster (2012)

Olivia Holt is a fifth-generation monster hunter in this spooky Halloween DCOM. Just because you don’t have a stomach for horror films does not mean you have to sit out on the wonderful October tradition of ignoring trick-or-treaters and watching seasonal, thematically resonant movies. I loved this movie as a kid, but upon rewatch, it makes less than no sense and the plot is writing special-effects checks that its budget can’t cash. Disney Channel has its fair share of supernatural Halloween movies, and this one isn’t the strongest, but what really matters in Girl vs. They do this by reenacting the Buffy episode where everyone is turned into their Halloween costumes. And that’s who it’s for, after all, even if it’s about adults. Scream Team is all about a band of kids venturing to the afterlife to visit their late grandpa, aided by the help of a corpse bride and disgraced arson ghost. 1. And the CGI special effects are always, always devastatingly bad, but, as the list below demonstrates, in a fun way. Why wasn’t Twitches made in the ’90s, when Tia and Tamera were at the height of their Sister, Sister powers and Sabrina the Teenage Witch made witches a whole thing? When the dark lord Thantos is released, the Twitches put a stop to him by making him fall down a well. Also: “Larry Houdini.”

6. The effects are corny, the costumes goofy, but it’s so sincere and full of heart that it’s the rare nostalgia-bomb that works every time. Brown with Sara Paxton was so rude I don’t even want to finish this sentence. Despite watching it, I can barely tell you what actually happens. “Monster Mash” who? But also their wizard-dad (not their adopted Muggle-dad) is dead but also trapped in shadow land. The kids elicit a big shrug, but the adults are fun. This movie about kids who discover a mummy and reunite it with its lost mummy love is a decent first effort, but it pales in comparison to Disney Channel’s later kiddie-macabre fare. Don’t Look Under the Bed (1999)

Don’t Look Under the Bed was so scary, apparently, that it got a rare PG rating and eventually stopped being played on Disney Channel altogether. And no studio since the Golden Age of Universal monsters has peddled more ably and creepily in the world of spooky movies than Disney Channel’s Original Movies outfit. 11. Brown, though, so it’s a significant milestone in DCOM history. Mummies just aren’t vampire or mermaid-tier monsters. Twitches Too (2007)

The sequel to Tia and Tamera Mowry classic Twitches is so very overladen with such a tiresome plot: In the magical land of Coventry, there is a shadow from the shadow realm attacking other shadows. Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001)

This Halloweentown sequel is, I’ll say it, even better than the first one. The Scream Team (2002)

Before I set out to make this list of DCOMs, I had never heard of The Scream Team, but it’s somehow an even better Halloweenie movie than Halloweentown (the first one, anyway). (And they were 30 when the sequel came out.) The characters act like teens, and the plot feels so much more like teenage wish fulfillment. As a Harry Potter–obsessed tween, I remember liking Twitches a whole lot. When Halloweentown is blasted with a spell that makes everyone boring, the Piper siblings and Debbie Reynolds have to save the day. Oh, well. Mom’s Got a Date With a Vampire (2000)

Caroline Rhea plays the titular mom, and Mr. The concept of there being a whole world under the bed where the bogeyman lives is a good one; it’s a shame that they saved it for the last 20 minutes of the movie. Their mom has renounced magic for the real world, but the kids connect with their roots to save the day from an evil(?) mayor(??). Halloweentown (1998)

Debbie Thee Reynolds plays the Miss Frizzle–esque grandma to three children who learn they are part of a powerful magical family in an alternate dimension called Halloweentown. This would make an excellent double feature with Hocus Pocus or the Hillary Duff Casper, neither of which, shockingly, are DCOMs. 8. 2. So much of this movie stops making sense when you realize that Tia and Tamera Mowry were almost 30 when they made this. Spooky, on the other hand, is every bit as Halloween-y and supernatural without the associated terror. The movie was produced by Hallmark Entertainment, and the rights are now held by Universal, which would explain why it’s not available on Disney+.

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How One Joke Changed the Way the World Saw Guy Fieri

Now I hope it’s truthful in a way that’s not cheesy. Even beyond that, he was a dyed-hair symbol for a person people hate. I think I kicked my chair over. And I want it to elicit laughter, but I want it to be an emotional response that is thoughtful. It was heckling. He’s literally doing my shit. I’m a fan of one-hit-wonder bands who happened to be amazing and they just never made a second splash. You can read some excerpts from the transcript or listen to the full episode below. I really hope it’s seen as not being dark for the sake of being dark, which I think, when I was a much younger comic, it was. On Truth in Comedy

Early on in my career, maybe I was trying to be dark. You might as well just watch a black-and-white video camera’s security footage. In July 2017, for one reason or another (or no reason at all), people hated Guy Fieri. But no matter the amount of late-night-show jokes or tweets, it’s not necessarily the power to bring down a president. More From This Series

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Tags: He was drunk, laying in a door jamb on the ground. So I really hated that. I think very few comics do that. On Vulture’s Good One podcast, Torres discusses the Fieri joke, how often it gets stolen, why he wants his comedy to be seen as art, and more. And the line was “As far as I can tell, all he ever did was follow his dreams.” And it got a huge pop. He does the whole bit, and his friends are laughing, like, “Doug’s the funniest!” And I’m like, Fuck Doug. I think Chappelle makes art with his comedy. It’s not truthful to me if there is no emotional weight in it. It’s mine. And it was weak writing, and it wasn’t even criticism. Truth is just the thing you did. Shane Torres. Over the past decade, at least in my opinion, there has been one shining example of the power of comedy, and no, it’s not political in the least. It can say, “Hey, look at this thing that’s incorrect.” It can give us the vocabulary necessary to discuss a topic. Being negative, at some point, became a valid opinion without having any support for it. In August 2017, Vulture posted a preview of Torres’s album that included his defense of the “Mayor of Flavortown,” and it went viral. Tune in to Good One every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts. It’s about Guy Fieri. It’s not that I’m not proud of it, but I want you to be like, “His first one was great, but his second one was even better.” There’s more to it. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Getty Images

Comedy does have power. On Joke Stealing

I’m very proud of the joke, and I’m happy I wrote it. And I’m a person who doesn’t like a lot of things, but I don’t like the dismissal of things without any support of it. I was like, “Oh, you mean he defended himself?” I didn’t even know it was him. Good One
A Podcast About Jokes

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On the Origin of His Guy Fieri Joke

First it was just a one-liner, where I would come out and go, “Can someone please explain to me what the fuck Guy Fieri ever did to anyone?” And there was this chuckle. That’s the thing you always read when someone gets interviewed about a new special or whatever they’re putting out: “This one’s a lot more personal.” Like, fuckin’ here we go. I think that’s part of it too. Yet it can shine light on an issue. And I’m like, Goddamn it! But in walked Shane Torres and one of the great jokes of the past ten years. I sincerely believe people pick up on that. I really think Louis [C.K.] did it for a while too, despite all the stuff he has done and whatever people think of him. Like, “You know who Shane Torres is?” “Yeah, he’s the guy who did the Guy Fieri joke.” I know that’s the first thing. When Torres performed the joke on Conan a few weeks later, it went viral again. I think I’ve said that before. I think Maria [Bamford] does that as well. And these people are laughing and losing their fucking minds. He doesn’t lip-sync it. I think an audience can feel when you’re actually being personal in a bit and truthful and not just putting it out there. On Wanting His Comedy to Be Art

I want to make comedy that people call art. But culturally, there was this time where it was just fashionable to shit on stuff. But I was like, This is fucking obscene that people are this ready to not like this guy. As I’ve moved forward, if it’s funny and it’s dark, I have no problem saying it as long as it’s funny. I want to be able to do that too. Guy is sitting in a car, and someone was attacking him and he’s shoving them off of him. Sometimes that can lead to being darker. By October 2017, the perception of Fieri had forever been changed. There’s some bands that are great, but they’re only a one-hit wonder. And I get defensive of it when I see some guy literally steal it and put it on TikTok and get 400,000 views, which is a thing that happened like two weeks ago. I don’t know if this is true or if I’m blowing smoke up my own ass, but I felt like they wanted more of it so I was like, Okay, I have to go write this joke. There’s a few people I could list. It’s a trope. I think the good thing is that that joke is in the ether so much that no one will think he wrote it. I remember when I was working on it, my buddy was like, “No, he sucks!” I was like, “What do you mean?” He goes, “Have you ever seen that video of him getting in a fight with a guy at the airport?” He showed me this video, and you can’t even see him.

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Stockard Channing Answers Every Question We Have About Practical Magic

The tone is a little all over the place.It’s very unusual. I was with this woman of a certain age who was very strict, and the minute I opened my mouth, I knew I was in trouble. Those were the exteriors. The people who do those movies all the time have my admiration. This enormous amount of black lipstick, this, that, and the other. The wonderful Judianna Makovsky did the clothes. I try to avoid myself! So I hope it isn’t wrong to say this — it didn’t look as much like a drag queen as it did probably in life! Somewhere in the world — or not! What do you remember about working with the child actors? So I immediately, being ridiculous, said, “I can speak French.” Mainly because I felt like going to Paris. And I think the fact that people can pick and choose what they want to see, and it’s in the privacy of their own home, their friends’ homes, that’s the phenomenon that came on only when this duplication was possible. But I am aware that, over the years, a lot of people like yourself have been crazy about it. She wasn’t unattractive — she was quite attractive at times. I think de facto we have to believe in it. Role Call is a series in which Vulture talks to actors about performances they’ve probably forgotten by now, but we definitely haven’t. Especially from women, which, I don’t really know why that is, but it’s great. Tags: It did happen extremely quickly, for whatever reason. Yes! The actress on nailing her spooky look, getting drunk on tequila with her co-stars, and filming the movie’s climactic séance scene. One of the stupidest things I’ve ever done in my entire life. Relatable. She wasn’t young or old. Otherwise, we could all plot and plan and there wouldn’t be any surprises. So she and her two daughters (one of whom is baby Evan Rachel Wood) move back in with the aunts. I’m sure the minute I left, they hired someone else to do it right. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Warner Bros. When Practical Magic was released in 1998, it opened at No. She was incredible. I’d seen a script. Had you read a script? Please tell me everything about that.I don’t know how drunk we were, but we decided to spiff it up with a drink. All this is to say that Practical Magic is a chaotic, completely deranged movie about six different things at once: a coming-of-age tale of tragically orphaned sisters who react in divergent ways to the trauma of their youth; a spooOOooOky flick about generations of witches whose love is literally fatal to any man; a rom-com about a woman who commits manslaughter, then murder (of the same guy! But he worked so well with the eccentricity of the looks, so it became otherworldly. I think what I remember most about preparing for it was the look of these witches. It has this domestic-violence and abuse plot in the middle and then it’s also this sister-family-bonding story and a love story. I do think that coincidence is fascinating, and that is the magic of life. Or maybe it did? Well, even just normal-life magic — jinxes, coincidences, destiny. The men in this movie are more like plot devices. It’s a favorite for a lot of people. I remember a makeup and hair test that didn’t work out because I wasn’t wearing much makeup. It’s well made, and the performances are wonderful. It wasn’t a full-on thriller.It was really about the relationships of all these women — the aunts and the nieces and all that. Their mother eventually dies of a broken heart — sure! As a lifelong fan of the movie, which I had always remembered as more of a VHS slumber-party favorite than a major blockbuster, I was stunned by this information. I think it was difficult to market, honestly, because it’s not a totally spooky-horror-magic film. I really did want to shoot myself. Everyone in town thinks the aunts are weird as hell, but who cares? To me, it’s one of the weirder things about being an actor, that your co-worker could be like, an 11-year-old. Like do I believe in real magic? Probably the one I mentioned earlier, where [Nicole] is sort of taken over and possessed, because there’s a lot of people in the room and it had to go all the way around. Sandra Bullock says as much in the DVD commentary, according to IMDB. I’ve read that for the midnight margaritas scene, you were all actually drunk. At the aunts’ place, they try to use magic to bring him back to life, but when he obliges, he is somehow even worse than before. Sandy is very, very funny and smart, and Nic was just lovely. That scene where Nic was on the floor writhing around, it went on for days. And God love the VHS and all the technology. I think maybe they use the word chick flick, which would hopefully be politically incorrect these days. We weren’t playing witches; it was more like we were playing the relationships. Surely, you already know this: Channing played Rizzo. Were you consciously trying to reference any witches from pop culture?No, not at all! Whether you like it or not, it’s there. That very female, feminine thing — all those fabrics and floating things — that was especially Judianna Makovsky. It felt a little Stevie Nicks–y to me. I would totally agree with you. What was it like meeting the rest of the cast? I’ve been here since December. She just went for it every time, even when she wasn’t on camera. — so they live with their aunts, practicing witches Jet (Dianne Wiest) and Frances (Stockard Channing). And she was incredible about it. I think also because, with my background in theater, I’ve done my makeup over the years, and I’ve done strange ones. Lots of beads and jewelry. At the end, she said that I basically had a Bulgarian accent. I remember the wig was curly and long and everything, and we just went way out on a limb with the crazy fabrics and clothing. I don’t think any of us had any objections, I’ll put it that way. That’s what makes things magical. He comes back from the dead, it’s a whole thing) and then falls in love with the man sent to investigate the homicide(s); a serious drama about abusive men and the violence they inflict on the women they claim to adore; a saga of outsiders cast aside by a small-minded community for being different; and a treatise on destiny. Maybe at the premiere. Did it remind you of anyone? Where are you riding out the pandemic?I’m living in London. But that same sense of timelessness. This is not a bad time to be … not living in the U.S.I won’t say anything about that, but I basically live here now. The sisters grow up to be Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock, with absolutely perfect hair, and while Nicole/Gillian leaves the island to date around and be free, Sandra/Sally stays and marries a man, with a magical nudge from the aunts, who dies (again, curse). You’re playing somebody who is hundreds of years old. Did you move because of the pandemic? We revisited this VHS tape more than once. It was kind of marvelous because it lifted [the character] out of time, if that makes sense. If you looked at the movie Grease, if it wasn’t for the technology of VHS and DVDs — that’s responsible for a lot [of the success]. So it’s lived on, which is interesting. The actress who just did Kajillionaire —

Evan Rachel Wood, who plays Kylie, one of Sandra’s character’s daughters.She was just a little girl. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. That’s what I’ve heard when people have mentioned it to me over the years. But it was a strange thing — you don’t want her to look old and haggard, because that’s not who the character is. I think it worked. But I won’t see anything I’m in. Yes, my sister and I watched it together growing up. She was lovely. But, of course, fans were into director Griffin Dunne’s supernatural romantic-comedy-drama from the jump, even though critics had little clue what to make of its hodgepodge of genres all stuffed inside a story that centers the relationships of women and treats men mostly as plot devices who have to, for the most part, die. And people can access it now even more so, to the point that they’ll see it and resee it. So I was very aware of how artificial we looked, but the DP [Andrew Dunn] was wonderful and everything was very soft and beautiful. Not as mobile as Stevie Nicks, probably. That’s the stuff we can’t control even if we would like to. No slouches here. The next evening, he rang, and I said, “I want to do it.” And it happened. But I made a real horse’s ass of myself, I will tell you that. I was in Los Angeles, and actually Griffin [Dunne] was an acquaintance of mine and, to be perfectly honest, I had a party with a lot of mutual friends and something about that movie came up. But whatever it was — what do you think? I think it’s uniqueness, probably. And witches? Generations later, young sisters Gillian and Sally Owens (childhood Sally is played by baby Camilla Belle) lose their father (see above curse), so Sally decides to cast her own spell (those who do not learn from history, etc.), conjuring a man who doesn’t exist with whom she can fall in love. Where were you shooting? And I don’t know why that would be. No, I don’t. My recollection, which may or may not be accurate, is that it had a greater life after it first opened. When I called up Stockard Channing just before the 22nd anniversary of the movie’s premiere, she confessed that she hadn’t seen it in about as many years — she doesn’t like to watch her own work. Did you have a sense of the movie’s reception when it came out? Probably it would come up — people stop you in the street and say they love the movie. But the more eccentric it was, the more it worked. Of all your work, is this something you hear about a lot?It’s up there being mentioned. It was otherwise just the usual challenges of getting a scene right, choreographing it and so on. Otherwise, you’d have to go to the movies. I try to avoid watching myself as well, which is a little tricky because I had to do the narration. — there is a copy of me dubbed in French in Practical Magic. 1 at the box office. Was there anything in particular that was challenging to shoot?Once we had the look down, in terms of my situation, I was very relieved and could just go with it. What was going on in your life and career when this movie came about?It was a very good time in my life. More From This Series

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The 1993 movie stars Channing, Will Smith, and Donald Sutherland. Over the years, it’s interesting, I hear that a lot. Do you remember having to calibrate how “witchy” to make things, seeing as the movie needed to stay grounded in reality? Where am I finding you? Do you read reviews as a general rule? I think one of the hardest things to do is a fun, raucous party scene. She was pregnant (!), but the baby’s father never showed up to rescue them; offended deeply by this ghosting, Maria cast a spell dooming any man who would ever love an Owens woman. And the rest was pretty much on a soundstage and then there were locations for the stuff Dianne and I weren’t in. Mainly by women, definitely. That was Griffin’s focus. (This is not super-relevant, but you should know that Margo Martindale plays one of their neighbor-frenemies.) Meanwhile, Gillian gets into a tight spot when her boyfriend, Jimmy (Goran Visnjic), reveals himself to be abusive; Sally comes to save the day, but in the process — oops! What went into that?I can only speak for myself — Dianne had her own situation — but I remember a lot of conversation about how this character should look. (A particularly cringeworthy Entertainment Weekly review lamented, “The witch sisters get empowered, all right — into wild and crazy girls.”)

Here’s the gist: Many moons ago, the first Owens woman, Maria, was outed as a witch and sent to live in exile on an idyllic-looking island. Okay, so let’s talk about Practical Magic.I hear that this is one that people really love. That was one of the interesting things about it. Everything really hinges on the way these women relate to one another, which is true in life all the time but isn’t depicted all that often onscreen.Yeah, that hasn’t changed very much either. It’s very uncomfortable. I [also] remember the green-screen flying around — wearing a harness. And also she didn’t speak a whole lot of English, so the two of us, plus the technicians — it was a couple of very long days, and I learned my lesson. It was a very, very congenial time, and all that coven-y thing of running around. They were really beautiful children in every way. When was the last time you saw the movie? Did anything about the movie feel special or different to you while you were working on it?I will tell you one thing: When it came to releasing the film abroad, there was this clause in the contract saying that if [an actor can] speak a certain language, you can dub [the movie]. They both turned out very well. But it’s hard work! By take 28, it is very hard to keep that up. It certainly is a very unusual film. Were you in a real house? Jet and Frances live in a fantastic house with a massive garden, eat ice cream for breakfast, and are as committed to dramatic eyeliner as Jennifer Lopez is to a nude lip. I also read that it was Nicole Kidman who provided the tequila.I don’t remember. It’s great. I felt so stupid. The makeup artist — who’d worked with me and Dianne before — we had a very candid conversation, and we came up with the idea together: ballet makeup. — they kill Jimmy. Or was it just this party conversation where you were like, “Sure, sounds great!”?It was a lot of conversation. I think it was rare then, and is still rare now, for a movie to have as its central relationships the connections between women — between sisters, aunts, and nieces — and for their entanglements with men to be happening on the side. But to be honest, because it wasn’t as high profile in its initial release as many other things I’ve done, I was struck over the years by how many people would mention it to me. I couldn’t tell you if it made money; I wouldn’t be aware of that at all. Because they do it in French script across the bottom of the screen, and I had to narrate the beginning. It was out in Friday Harbor, off Seattle. Both Nic and Sandy were enormously warm. It was this gorgeous house. It was a very happy time. Had you worked with any of them before?It was a very, very congenial situation, playful. In the midst of all this, cute state investigator Gary (Aidan Quinn) shows up and, unfortunately for Sally, seems to fit the bill of that impossible man she conjured as a kid, which means she is doomed to fall in love with him … and therefore he will die. And it’s very beautiful to look at. I wasn’t a child actor, and I wonder how it comes around to happen like that. People stayed home and watched it. She’d done Six Degrees of Separation, and she’s just miraculous. Do you believe in any of the magic in the movie? But she patiently indulged all my questions about nailing the just-right witchy aesthetic, drinking tequila with her co-stars, and why Practical Magic persists as a seasonal classic. In this climactic sequence, Nicole Kidman’s character is possessed by the ghost of her ex-boyfriend, whom she and her sister have murdered (and then brought back to life with magic, then killed again), and all the women on the island have gathered to perform an exorcism.

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The Trailer for Netflix’s Shawn Mendes Doc Is a Himbo Elegy

He’s good-natured, he’s deeply sincere, he’s often sweaty, he’s become pretty jacked, and he seems to hold some sort of vendetta against sleeves. Is Shawn Mendes a himbo? Related

Shawn Mendes Announces New Album, and You Know Camila Cabello Is Involved

Tags: The doc premieres on Netflix on November 23. And, of course, there’s plenty of Camila Cabello, onstage and off. The trailer is set to Mendes’s new single “Wonder,” and shows the 22-year-old Canadian artist grappling with the physical and emotional strain of headlining a 104-show tour. That will be the question on your mind after watching the trailer for the singer’s upcoming Netflix documentary, Shawn Mendes: In Wonder. Mendes narrates over concert and backstage footage, as well as home videos showing him “performing” in the living room.

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Ice Cube Puts Eric Trump on Thin Ice Over Fake Trump-Hat Photo With 50 Cent

Responding to Eric Trump’s tweet, Ice Cube simply quote-tweeted, “N- – -a please …” And the ice just keeps on melting. In the photo, Ice is wearing a “Big 3” hat and 50 is wearing a Yankees hat. https://t.co/1oPGAmzgvQ— Ice Cube (@icecube) October 20, 2020


Ice Cube in Hot Water After Revealing He’s Working With the Trump Administration

Tags: For the record, that hat says “L.A.”
Photo: Getty Images

These past few days have been decidedly not good ones for fans of hip-hop giants like Ice Cube, who admitted to working with the Trump administration, and now 50 Cent, who recently endorsed President Trump. Happy birthday to the homie ⁦@50cent⁩ pic.twitter.com/mkv1WAF7FQ— Ice Cube (@icecube) July 6, 2020

Nigga please… (Ice Cube insists he’s not endorsing the Trump campaign.) And now, right on cue, Eric Trump has entered the chat: On October 20, the president’s son and adviser tweeted (and has since deleted) an edited photo of Ice and 50 wearing hats that say “Trump 2020.” The Associated Press deemed the photo “false,” writing, “The photo was altered to add a ‘Trump 2020’ message to the hats.” The fake edit took off on Twitter, but the real photo came from a July tweet by Ice Cube for 50 Cent’s birthday.

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T’Nia Miller Is Happy She Was Wrong About Bly Manor Episode 8

It’s very sad, though. I had finished early one day, and we kept passing this little vintage shop, and I said, “Oh Dave, do you mind if we stop in there?” He was like, “No, not at all!” He’s like this middle-aged guy, plain clothes, doesn’t have a lot of fashion sense. I have! She was scarred! It’s great — I’ve had lots of tapas and wine [laughs]. There’s no doubt — I’ve fucked them up 100 percent. I’m so simple! How do you feel about being tied to her? I think I would’ve spoken up a little sooner than her. It’s fine. I’m well. She flew back on the sofa laughing. And I think that’s why he’s so successful at what he does. It was spectacular. Lovely, but a bossy boots. My favorite episodes were six and seven, with Ben [Howling] and Yolanda [Ramke, the episodes’ directors]. I’m on social media, and the response has been overwhelming. Related

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A Scaredy-Cat’s Guide to The Haunting of Bly Manor

Tags: I’m not a Christian, but I am spiritual, and the Bible says the sins of the father will be visited upon the sons. What do we hand down to our children and keep repeating ourselves until we can break the curse? In episodes one through four, you’ll notice she sometimes will just touch her hair, or she’ll notice the crack in the wall. Going back in time and being that more subservient woman, for T’Nia the actor … calling someone “Sir” … the last time I called someone “Sir” was at school, and even then I didn’t like it, just for the connotations, you know? I read that you weren’t a big fan of horror before you became involved. But she just pissed herself laughing. They’re grown-ups, but, I have to say, my daughter was 5 or 6 at the time and we were watching a documentary about the holocaust in Germany — the first one, with the Namibians, which is one people don’t really know about. As you got more into the part, did you have the sense that Mike Flanagan was waiting for you to figure out the twist? How are you?I’m good! I didn’t see it coming. Did you show your kids scary movies, horror movies, when they were young? This is brilliant. Oh no! Do you read reviews or responses from viewers? I was not expecting that at all. But that’s okay. She’s in the other room now! That’s the real horror. It’s falling apart. By the time we actually meet her in the present day in 1987, she fancies herself the lady of the manor. I’m sure I’m not the only one who imagines an alternate future where Hannah and Owen [Bly Manor’s cook] get to run away together. Sorry, that was a very long-winded answer! It’s No. Yes! Yeah! Anyhow, how are you? Like, I’ve fucked my children up. But I’d watched Hill House and been absolutely blown away, totally addicted. Where did you get your amazing coat? Whoops! The whole thing’s in color. Oh no, I am a fan of horror! Let them be children! I was like, She’s really, really nice. What a mistake! Okay, if you’re sure. Hannah’s a bloody trooper, man. Really? Haha!” She thought it was absolutely hilarious. You know, it’s really funny, I’ll just show you … [Miller spins her laptop over so that I can see her friend, the actress Lorna Gayle, has been sitting on the sofa next to her this whole time] I have this friend with me, to whom I owe a lot of my success, because she fought for me to have my agent. Was it hard to figure out all the different facets of Hannah? Are you someone who tries to ignore them? Those were little clues but didn’t want to make it too obvious, but you never know until it’s edited what it’s going to look like. I thought, It’s an old house. My kids are in their 20s. It was a little bit of both. But when you explained that she really sees herself as the lady of the manor, it makes sense. You thought it was going to be cheesy? They were like, “It’s going to be shot in black and white,” and I thought, Really? But I’m glad that people have stuck with it. We’re also our own worst critics, aren’t we? Because the house kills all the ladies of the manor. What is that about? Those nuances, finding them was about time. Everybody else thinks, Oh, that’s so sad. I think it’s where Tahirah Sharif [who plays Rebecca Jessel] really comes into her own. It is a drama about our own lives, and we relate to that fear because it’s our deepest, darkest secrets, our own fears, our own demons. Couldn’t sleep for weeks. So when I watch it, I think, Oh, I could’ve done that better, or, Oh, that’s a bit shit. It’s in most of our DNA, that we protect. Did you watch it recently, or before it was released? Have you watched the show? Anyhow, she wanted to stay up and watch it, and I let her because I thought, Oh, it’s educational! There’s some really good stuff there for you.” So I thought, Oh, I’m going to have a couple of really nice scenes. Not even cheesy, just bad. But she hasn’t seen episode five yet! When I spoke with Miller over Zoom, she’d just finished shooting in Madrid for the day. I’ve been fortunate in my career to play all sorts of different women, all sorts of powerful women. Anything that goes supernatural, because you just never know if it could be true, that has you looking in the corner and double-guessing things. I’ve been wondering about how scary is too scary for my own kids, who are still very little. So, yeah, I wasn’t expecting it. It’s been very hard not to notice the response! And, I have to admit, I didn’t expect to like episode eight. She’s a bit of a bossy boots, really. Just keep it real. For her, this is a safe place. And when that thing is evil, there’s a conflict within us, and I think that’s what gets us with children. No, no, she’s got some headphones on — it’s absolutely fine! She lives in this very whitewashed world, living in the countryside in England with no access to her roots or anyone that’s like her. The Haunting of Bly Manor has been out for a little bit now. I was 12 years old when I first watched it. Well, okay, in The Haunting it is also something outside their control. Too avant-garde, too indie Sundance Festival. Don’t do it. The Haunting is popular enough now that Hannah Grose will probably be the character you’re associated with in people’s minds, at least for the next little while. I had no clue! But no, I love horror. I didn’t expect that at all, and I didn’t expect the reception of Hannah’s character to be quite what it’s been. When you found out about the twist in the middle of the season [that Hannah’s been dead this whole time], did you have to reconceive what you’d thought about the character? So then I got the part (for Bly Manor), and I thought, Yes, I don’t care what the part is. Why do you think children are so scary in horror? Well, I think you’ve touched on something there, because it could very easily have just been a drama. Turns out he loves fashion — he loves shopping for his daughters! Had it been any different, it would’ve been someone else playing that part. I don’t know where her mind went, but it was bellyaching laughter. All those things I had to reconcile with, and eventually I thought, No, I’m okay with this. Masochists, we’re all sadomasochists. But anyway, he picked out this jacket for me! I don’t like slashers — I can appreciate the makeup, but all the blood and gore [winces]. How are you? I thought they were just spectacular. And yet with horror, in particular, there is that thing that kids have as well, where a part of us wants to be scared. She rules the roost. It’s so sad, and I wish she could’ve survived! She pissed herself laughing. Photo: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Images via Getty Images

In one of the breakout performances of The Haunting of Bly Manor, T’Nia Miller plays Hannah Grose, the housekeeper at a mysterious and very haunted house in England. Hannah says, “I know this sounds like upstairs-downstairs, but this is my home.” So those other things don’t matter as much, and therein lies the nuance. I’m in Madrid. But, for me, it’s all about epigenetics. The closest thing to her is someone like Owen, who is a brown man who understands the complications politically of what’s happening at that time. Before you read episode five, did you have any guesses what the crack in the wall meant? Her and Charlotte [Wingrave, the owner of Bly Manor] become friends. It’s outside of us! And then something happens when it gets turned into a literal ghost story.It’s a ghost, it’s something else! It was bloody brilliant! Did you read all the scripts before you started shooting, or did you read as you go? We’re all servants here. I’ve got some music on — I never heard it! [Laughs.] And also being a Black woman and playing basically a maid. I watched it before it came out, and I watched it with my mom, who thought it was hilarious. I was a very young mother. There’s a big twist for Hannah, a development that’s revealed in episode five, and anyone who hasn’t seen the show should know that we talk a lot about the twist in this conversation. have seen Years and Years, so they’ll know me for that, but I think you’re right that more people will have seen this. So I’m talking to you, and I’m like [Claps hand over her mouth]. “He wants to take you to Paris, but he doesn’t know you’re a ghost!”

But that’s so sad! Yes, they would’ve had such a beautiful life. Hello! She’s an awesome, awesome being. She went, “You’re a ghost and he wants to take you to Paris! And it’s not. When I accepted the part, I’d literally just got the sides. She’s a servant, but she also raises the children, and by the end of the series, she’s really running the whole house. We also discuss how Miller came to the role, her thoughts on horror as a genre and the particular brilliance of Mike Flanagan’s Haunting series, and the thing Miller is happy to admit that she got wrong about Bly Manor. What?! I just said, “Huh, no.” They said, “You need to read episode five. What Mike [Flanagan, the creator of The Haunting] is very clever at doing is he’s got comedy in there, he’s got horror, he’s got drama — he’s got all these genres blended together. She’s so divorced from her own culture. I got it on The Haunting from one of the drivers! But turning it into a ghost story gives it this very different kind of appeal. I’m shooting. He’s amazing! I think about it when I think about The Haunting, both seasons. I don’t expect it’ll be any different going forward. It’s all our own psyche, and he taps into that place. Lorna Gayle: Hi! I heard the story from my grandparents of not being allowed on the bus and seeing spray paint of the National Front of the shop windows. They did say, “Have you read episode five yet?” And I’m a bit dizzy. Not the latest version, but the original scared the shit out of me. She’s far more generous than I am. Some people in the U.S. It’s so sad. I thought, Nah, babe, this is Netflix. I’d been wrestling with why Hannah dies. The classics, like The Shining. The thing that we’re meant to protect is the very thing that’s coming to get us. In an unfortunate turn of events, I didn’t realize that Miller’s friend was seated next to her for the first half of this conversation — in spite of Miller’s reassurances, I am absolutely sure I spoiled some significant surprises in the series. They were her family. It’s an equal playing field. What kinds of horror do you like? I think it’s that, it’s: What do we carry from our parents? I was a child of the ’80s, so I know what that looked like. So then, yeah, I had to rework how I was going to play that and what clues I was going to give. It’s almost like by dying, the show proves how powerful she was. But oh my God, they know what they’re doing. Children are meant to be these beautiful, innocent beings, and you can’t help but have a maternal or paternal nature to protect them. This is not really my thing. No, that was really helpful, because I think I put something together I hadn’t really before. L.G.: No, it’s okay. Anything with children: The Omen, Insidious, Poltergeist. Did you go into shooting knowing the twist? [Huge laugh.] Oh God. But for more recent titles, things like Stranger Things, that first season. I eat my hat. Yes, everyone has their job, but she fancies herself in charge. Did you have the sense that something was up? Get Out is also quite recent. Because they’re innocent! 1 worldwide. Oh Jesus, what a mistake. It’s about that inner fear — all the bullshit that tells you that you can’t do something, you’re not good enough, you’re not allowed to do that. Or at least I can’t, because I’m a mother. Because you can imagine a version where it’s a realist drama and it’s just about these families and their trauma. Yes! I’ve got some other questions about the twist, but now I feel bad! I’m so sorry!

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Kaley Cuoco Is Crazy, Drunk, But Not a Killer in The Flight Attendant Trailer

She swears she didn’t do it, but it doesn’t help that she keeps lying to the authorities. Kaley Cuoco took the first flight out of that Pasadena nerd dungeon and hasn’t looked back since. “I’m a crazy, drunk flight attendant, not a killer.” The miniseries, which will debut on HBO Max on November 26, also stars Zosia Mamet and Rosie Perez. But following a perfect evening of being wined, dined, and (…), she wakes up to find him gruesomely murdered in their hotel room, which triggers an international investigation of the culprit. I can’t remember anything about it,” she explains in the trailer. “The whole night, it just flickers. Related

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Tags: In the first trailer for The Flight Attendant, Cuoco (in her first major role since The Big Bang Theory ended in 2019 and betrayed her character) portrays an employee of the sky who just happens to meet a handsome passenger when their flight lands in Bangkok.

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The Sci-Fi Author Reimagining Indigenous History

In The New Republic, Nick Martin, a member of the Sappony Tribe, wrote that their attacks fell into a tradition of anti-Black racism in Indian country. “This is all so violent,” she said, removing her glasses and wiping her eyes. Soon after, Roanhorse flew to Arkansas and, for the first time in her life, found herself surrounded by people who resembled her. Jemisin, the author of the Broken Earth trilogy, would become the first Black writer to win fantasy’s most prestigious honor — a Hugo Award for best novel. “I wanted to do something useful for my people,” she says. After hearing from some members of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́, a collective of Diné writers made up mostly of poets and academics, she’d changed her mind about the book. She drew on Diné stories she’d learned in law school (part of passing the bar to practice law in the Navajo Nation entails studying traditional stories). We’ve adapted to so much in order to survive. “It keeps us looking to the future. “There was family and there was community. As soon as he finished reading it, he reached out to Megibow with an offer. Some have even expressed doubts about Roanhorse’s Native ancestry and her right to tell Native stories at all. Some have compared it to the monumental achievements of N.K. These projects have only further incensed her critics, who feel she dismissed their complaints without listening. Neither had most of her mother’s extended family — conservative Pueblo Catholics from New Mexico. Going back as far as the 1700s, “blood quantum” laws written by white legislators limited who could legally identify themselves as Native; in the 19th and 20th centuries, state and local governments widely adopted these restrictions, and many tribes still use them today to determine who can become an enrolled citizen. Growing up as a biracial kid with white parents in Fort Worth, Texas, hadn’t been easy. Further complicating all this is the fact that Roanhose grew up estranged from Native communities, an outsider through no choice of her own. An article published this summer declared her the “Elizabeth Warren of the Sci-Fi set.”

And yet, even as Roanhorse’s critics suggested she was perpetuating the harms inflicted by white colonialism, a group of her defenders began to accuse them of doing the same thing. After she graduated and got a job working for Legal Aid at the Navajo Nation, she and their 1-year-old daughter moved into his family’s home. “It was strange and a little bit thrilling,” she said. But her work felt pointless. Within the week, he’d offered Roanhorse a two-book deal. It wasn’t until Roanhorse was in law school that she met a great aunt and uncle who told her that they’d grown up on the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo. When she began work on her breakout book, Trail of Lightning, a postapocalyptic tale about a monster slayer in a world populated by Native gods, she’d been reading a lot of urban fantasy, a genre heavy with “magical” Native characters written by white authors who had no connection to the cultures they sought to portray. “I read 20,000 queries a year and sign maybe three to four clients from that. Some tribes have official boards or committees that review cultural output, but the Diné Nation isn’t one of them, a fact that this group felt had left them especially vulnerable. In the traditions of many Native tribes, only certain people have the authority to grant others the right to tell sacred stories, and some stories are never supposed to be shared with outsiders — a measure meant, in part, to safeguard communal ideas and practices that have been assailed by hundreds of years of genocide, theft, forced assimilation, and distorted representations in the dominant culture. “Yes, we need to maintain the tradition and the culture. From her birth certificate, Roanhorse learned that she was half-Black and half–Spanish Indian. Although she tries to tune out her critics, she is aware of the efforts that some of them have made to prove she has no Native lineage, and finds these campaigns to discredit her alternatively frustrating and depressing. She also showed it to Debbie Reese, a prominent Native scholar who runs the website American Indians in Children’s Literature. She rarely speaks with her birth mother. But, in her late 20s, she began to dream about meeting her birth mother. Not long after she began law school, she met her husband, Michael Roanhorse, an artist who makes contemporary high-end jewelry that draws inspiration from Diné traditions. Black Sun, which was published on October 13, was one of the most eagerly anticipated titles of the fall. “We recognize Roanhorse as a Black Indigenous author,” Jake Skeets, a Diné poet, told me. “It was like coming home,” she said. “I became obsessed with this idea that I needed to find her,” Roanhorse said. “I’m always writing outsiders,” she says. They were troubled, for example, by Roanhorse’s choice to have her monster slayer use bullets filled with corn pollen, which they perceived as a violent misuse of a peaceful ceremonial element traditionally meant to restore harmony. “I certainly don’t want to walk into some kind of ambush,” she wrote to Davis. Why wouldn’t we want that?”

When Roanhorse feels anxious, she calms herself by sitting on her balcony and taking in the majestic view of the Sun and Moon mountains. The private detective worked quickly; within 48 hours, she called Roanhorse with the news that her search had been a success. As far as Roanhorse knows, her mother had also grown up disconnected from tribal life, with only a vague understanding of her Native roots. When we think about the American project of conquest and colonialism, indigenous people have been subject to erasure, removal, displacement, and extraction.” When I asked him whether he thought it was possible for anyone to write a work of commercial fantasy based on Navajo stories and do it well, he said he wasn’t sure. Roanhorse is not an enrolled member of the Ohkay Owingeh tribe, and some of her critics have undertaken efforts to prove she’s not native at all. program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, invited her to speak at the college, he heard from more than a dozen Diné writers and scholars who were caught off guard by the fact that she wasn’t an enrolled tribal member herself, and were concerned by the use of spiritual elements in Trail of Lightning. Tags: Her work has been embraced by the literary world and often appears on lists of the best “OwnVoices” fantasy novels. This doesn’t mean she believes her mother’s family didn’t descend from Ohkay Owingeh people; she is simply “trying to be more careful,” she said. programs and share a particular view of what Native literature should be. She didn’t finish her first novel until she was in her mid-40s. The conversation around her identity summons unwelcome thoughts about the messiness of her family history. A few weeks later, Reese published a retraction of her positive review. One of her aunts, a former nun, later told her, “It would be better if you went away.”

Roanhorse is speaking from her home in Santa Fe, overlooking the Sun and Moon mountains. She decided to pass on the invitation. “What critics of this sort refuse to acknowledge, or quickly brush off, is the fact that their campaign against this one artist easily fits in a pattern of ‘vetting’ Black Native people,” he wrote. But when the conversation turns toward the fracturing of her own family, she becomes overwhelmed. As she saw it, she was just helping to make “rich white dudes richer.” So she quit and moved to New Mexico to go to law school, where she studied federal and tribal law and clerked for the Navajo Nation Supreme Court. For Native readers who like Roanhorse’s work, her willingness to deviate from tradition is exactly what makes her books so exciting and important. “I sound like such an old lady, but there’s a little group of crows that come by, and I’ll chat with them.” Roanhorse has been spending a lot of time out there lately. And so Roanhorse was surprised to learn in 2018, the summer the book came out, that there were people in the Native community who were unhappy with her work. Over the past two years, she has published a sequel to Trail of Lightning, as well as Race to the Sun, a middle-grade novel based on Diné stories for Rick Riordan’s “Own Voices” imprint, and a Star Wars book. Reese had a reputation for taking writers to task for misusing Native stories. It says, Hey, we’re part of the culture too. Martin. “But what if there was a chance for them to read a contemporary action-adventure story featuring indigenous pantheons instead of Greek and Roman gods. Native identity is exceptionally complex. Reese, who is Nambé Pueblo, wrote that she’d come to understand that Roanhorse had crossed the Diné’s “lines of disclosure,” an offense that many white interlopers had committed in the past. I just fell in love,” Megibow told me. Davis said he was open to hosting the reading anyway, but he warned Roanhorse that it was likely to be an uncomfortable conversation. Back at home, when she asked her mother what it meant, she pulled out a box of paperwork. In the months leading up to publication, Roanhorse developed an active Twitter presence and became friendly with other Native writers and artists. She wanted to make sure she got the story right. It consists of hundreds of cultures, each of which has its own customs. We’re not stuck in the 1800s. Isn’t that powerful? Isn’t that affirming? Sign up here to get it nightly. “But wow. She’d never attempted to trace the ancestry herself, partly because she’d always felt rejected by her birth family. student who worked as a sensitivity reader on Race to the Sun told me. Skeets said he regretted the confrontational tone of parts of the letter, but he still felt there was an important conversation to be had about the way that traditional Diné stories should be used by contemporary writers. Roanhorse’s agent, Sara Megibow, plucked the manuscript out of the slush pile in her in-box. Jemisin and George R.R. “This is one of my favorite works,” she says, with a low laugh, her dimples showing. “If my aunt and uncle somehow got it wrong … It’s just wild,” she said, “that we’re supposed to have these pure bloodlines when our whole story is genocide.”

When Roanhorse speaks about her personal life from a legal and historical perspective, you can imagine her in a courtroom, confidently arguing on behalf of a client. She paused in front of a large canvas of a Navajo god that looked like something out of a superhero comic, brightly colored and bold, by the Diné artist Ryan Huna Smith. Her reunion with her birth family hadn’t gone as she’d hoped, but she thought that there were other ways she might be able to connect with her Native heritage. In recent months, the conversation has become more pointed. She loved the book and wrote an ecstatic review for the Barnes & Noble blog. For a few years, she spent her days taking on corrupt payday lenders and strategizing about environmental cases impacting Native land; at night, she returned home to a crowded trailer in the Chuska mountains, with five relatives and no running water. Looking around the table at the restaurant, she noticed that her mother and aunt had the same long arms as she did, the same dimples when they smiled, the same laugh. Roanhorse loved it. They took issue with Roanhorse’s decision to write a fantasy inspired by Diné stories, since she is only Diné by marriage, and wondered why she hadn’t written about her “own tribe,” referring to the Ohkay Owingeh people of New Mexico. But within Native communities, the book’s reception has been mixed. In an anecdote that sheds light on both the scarcity of Native fantasy literature and the lack of indigenous people working within the publishing industry itself, Monti told me he’d long wanted to edit a book like this, but none had ever crossed his desk. That November, they published a letter accusing her of appropriating narratives that didn’t belong to her and of misusing sacred stories. She lives there with her husband, a Diné (or Navajo) artist, and their 12-year-old daughter. After Jon Davis, the director of the M.F.A. Although Roanhorse has many Native fans who have hailed her work as groundbreaking and revelatory, she also has a number of vocal detractors. “I cannot write down my bloodline in a way that will satisfy them,” she says bluntly. In a black sweater and red lipstick, she leads me through an eclectic collection of Native art that reflects both traditional and contemporary styles — painted pottery that was gifted to her after she gave a reading at the Acoma Pueblo outside of Albuquerque, a poster of a painting of a can of mutton stew by the Diné and Chemehuevi artist Ryan Singer (his take on Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans). She showed the unpublished manuscript to several of them, including a Diné graduate student who corrected the spelling and grammar of the Diné language sprinkled throughout the book. “There’s a rising conversation among a younger generation about what it means to be Native in the 21st century,” Charlie Scott, a Diné Ph.D. “I had one of those moments, which I’ve had several times in my life, where I thought, What the hell am I doing here?” She was already on her second career by then. As a younger writer, Skeets also experimented with using Navajo stories in his work, but ultimately decided against it. But there’s always the question of what a non-Navajo reader has access to, and, in my perspective, some of that has to be protected.”

Skeets’s anxiety speaks to a debate that goes well beyond Roanhorse, or even literature, concerning the state of Native culture in America at this moment in history, exactly 400 years after the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. She wanted to write Native characters who reminded her of the people who’d become her family, to put down on the page the high desert mountains she’d fallen in love with, so she set the book in the same town where her in-laws lived. That summer, N.K. “Our ancestors did not fight for our land and culture so that our deities, figures of profound spiritual import, could be commodified, cheapened, and turned into superheroes,” they wrote. This critique didn’t disrupt Roanhorse’s career. Twenty years ago, when the fantasy novelist Rebecca Roanhorse was 29, she hired a private detective to track down her birth mother. On one of our calls, she held her phone up so that I could see her surroundings, two gentle peaks cloaked in juniper and ponderosa pine. The danger, he said, with transforming traditional stories into a commercial fantasy novel is that these narratives then become something that can be “displaced, erased, removed, or extracted from. Email

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Terms of Service apply. “They were used to breed Natives out of existence,” Roanhorse said. After graduating from Yale and earning a master’s degree in theology at Union Theological, she eventually found a job as a computer programmer working on Wall Street. She was living in New York City at the time, working a job at a financial publisher that she hated. “Roanhorse lifts Indigenous readers,” she declared, “giving us a brilliant mirror that made my Indigenous heart soar.” In the trade publications, critics added to the praise, noting that she was one of the few Native writers telling indigenous fantasy stories at the time, especially in mainstream publishing. I’d never had that easiness before, that thing you only feel when you’re among your people, where that weight of performance comes off your shoulders.”

Roanhorse had been writing fantasy stories since she was a child, but she’d never considered it a viable career path. “‘Yes, you do all the time!’ This is a contemporary interpretation, clearly.” As she reflects on why the painting moves her, it’s clear she is also talking about her own work and, in a deeper sense, herself. This is just one more way we adapt.”

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The one story you shouldn’t miss today, selected by New York’s editors. We also need to recognize that we can blend it, and that our survival is based on our ability to evolve with the time.” Scott and a number of Native writers I spoke with pointed out that the critique of Roanhorse comes primarily from Native academics, many of whom came through ivy league institutions or M.F.A. “Their journey is usually about coming home, and sometimes they wished they’d stayed away.”

After she met her birth mother, Roanhorse blew up her life. Screen adaptations of several projects are already underway. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Photo courtesy of Rebecca Roanhorse

This article was featured in One Great Story, New York’s reading recommendation newsletter. At a time when the publishing industry is throwing open its doors to authors who traditionally faced barriers to entry, the controversy over Roanhorse’s work reveals a fault line in the OwnVoices movement. Native identity is a politically fraught subject, and different tribes have different rules for determining eligibility for tribal affiliation. “I love these pop-cultural interpretations of traditional stories,” she says. She first became aware of her difference when she was around 7 years old and a white boy in a grocery store called her the N-word. But not everyone in the family was pleased that she’d tracked them down. In a departure from her earlier works, the author bio that accompanies Roanhorse’s most recent book makes no reference to any Ohkay Owingeh origins. Using the tools of the master to go after your own people, to say, ‘You’re not one of us’ …  I’m not sure that’s where we want to be as a people.”

One morning, Roanhorse shows me around her Pueblo Revival house. “I understand the history.” She paused. “I’m sure some people may come home and find joy,” she said, “but that has not been my experience.” Her new book, Black Sun, is an epic set in an imaginary world inspired by the indigenous cultures of North America as they were before European explorers invaded the shores of the continent. She was still nearly 15 years away from writing the books that would make her one of the country’s most celebrated and controversial Native authors. It is inherently controversial, says Amy Sturgis, a scholar of Native American studies who focuses on science fiction and fantasy, because it “does something different — it says, Look ahead, look beyond, imagine differently.”

As for Roanhorse, she understands the desire to protect Native stories, but believes that impulse can be misguided, “leaving us with only white Western narratives.” “Navajo kids read Percy Jackson in their classrooms, which is fun,” she said. (The phrase, which originated in 2015 as a Twitter hashtag and has since turned into a publicity tool, signifies that the author shares the same background or experiences as the characters they write.) And since entering the scene a few years ago, she’s already received many of the genre’s most prestigious awards. This complexity is reflected in her writing — both her debut and her latest work concern protagonists who are at odds with their communities. Terms & Privacy Notice
By submitting your email, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Notice and to receive email correspondence from us. “The anti-Black sentiments that colonization baked into Indigenous governing structures are still being perpetuated by Native communities.”

Some of the Diné writers that signed the letter accusing Roanhorse of appropriation say they have become uncomfortable with the way that the conversation has focused on Rebecca’s identity and strayed from the content of her work. “We have stories that are very worthy of being told, because they’re so cinematic, so epic. “I said, ‘You’re never going to find another New York editor who has actually been to the rez,’” he recalled. “They were disturbed,” he said. Her manuscript went out into the world just as the conversation about race in fantasy had reached a turning point. He’d spent a few weeks living on the Navajo reservation when he was in college and recognized the landscape. “It was a unique voice and truly superior writing.” Joe Monti, the editorial director of Saga Press, an imprint of Gallery Books and Simon & Schuster, was similarly impressed. Not long after her debut, Trail of Lighting, was published, a group of Diné writers released a letter accusing her of cultural appropriation, mischaracterizing Diné spiritual beliefs, and harmful misrepresentation. “This is what I get to see when I drink my coffee in the morning,” she said. For many years, that was all she knew. “It was so deep on the manuscript wish list that I never thought it would happen,” he said. In July of 2016, she began querying agents. “Some of my critics are like, We don’t do that with our gods.” Her voice turns flutelike, gently offering a retort. On that first trip home, she learned she’d been a “secret baby.” Her birth father, a minister, had never learned of her existence.

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Ziwe Fumudoh’s Comedy Is Iconic, Folks

But my tweets have been shared all over the internet since 2012. Maybe six months after that I got a joke on The Colbert Report as an intern. What is the best comedy advice, and then the worst comedy advice, you’ve ever received, either when you were starting out or more recently?The worst comedy advice I ever received was when I was starting out in Chicago, my favorite city in the country because it’s the only place my skin is clear. Related

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Tags: Twitter was always my domain because it centered my thoughts and jokes without any acknowledgement of my external aesthetic. Ziwe Fumudoh. Liberation is not a trend. What of your work do you think you’re best known for?Probably interviews. He told me to be myself, create as much as possible, and not take a gatekeeper’s “no” for an answer. Next up is Ziwe Fumudoh. Each facet of my art is an extension of my self-expression, and I am lucky that I get to create a wide range. I’d crack up and my boss would ask what was so funny and I’d be like … “Spreadsheets …” They really inspired me to be proud of where I’m from. Tell us one story from your childhood that is a good representation of your life.When I was a child I once ate so much tapioca pudding that I made myself lactose intolerant for years. It is one of the few things that bring me joy. It’s a lifestyle, honey. Shout-out to her. Also my poetry teacher in college, Rachel Webster, once told me that no one would take me seriously if I couldn’t write. At one point I wanted to go to law school and get a dual degree in African American studies. They are amazing writers. On multiple occasions, I was advised to make my comedic voice more like a straight white guy … which I am not. Desus and Mero have been inspiring me since 2015. The best comedy advice I ever got was from Aasif Mandvi when I was maybe 20 years old interning at Comedy Central. Who is putting out work that excites and inspires you?Janelle James, Raina, Yassir Lester, Lauren Ashley Smith, Patti Harrison, Dan Perlman, Grace Kuhlenschmidt, Rachel Sennott, Ayo Edebiri. How has quarantine affected the way you approach your comedy and your audience?Quarantine has made me extremely online, which is a throwback to my childhood when I was glued to my Windows 95. What’s some of your work that you’re most proud of?I’m proud of my collection of work. If you weren’t a comedian, what would you be doing?Pop star or a civil-rights lawyer. I will watch anything that Will Tracy or David Caspe writes. I once had an improv teacher at iO in Chicago make me cry because he said I asked too many questions and had “unnatural reactions.” It’s ironic because that’s what I’m known for. Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Photo courtesy of comedian

This week, we’re highlighting 20 talented writers and performers for Vulture’s annual “Comedians You Should and Will Know.” Our goal with the list is to introduce a wider audience to the talent that has the comedy community and industry buzzing. I never thought I would be someone that used Instagram Live. Who are some of your favorite comedians right now? When I was on jobs I hated, I used to pretend to work and watch their show on incognito mode. When did you feel that you were funny enough to make a legitimate go at comedy?When I realized I didn’t want to do the amount of reading required to be a lawyer. Assuming quarantine ends at some point, is there anything about the way that comedy or the industry in general has changed that you hope continues post-quarantine?I hope that people continue to fight for Black and brown lives. Every week, I look forward to the podcast Bitch Sesh by Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider. Larry Owens needs to drop a musical-comedy album. What have you done in quarantine for comedy that you thought you would never do? But, things change. Describe your comedy in five words.My comedy is iconic, folks. He was a staple of New York live shows and I miss seeing him perform. When I set my heart on something, I commit. (You can read more about the methodology at the link above.) This year, for the first time, we also asked the comedians on the list to answer a series of questions about their work and comedy under quarantine.

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Whose Bed Is Miley Cyrus Working on a Metallica Covers Album From?

If it’s not too late to put in Metallica requests, we can’t wait to hear her take on “Fade to Black” in its full seven-minute glory. Photo: Rob Latour/Shutterstock

To paraphrase the great Shania Twain: Whose bed have Miley Cyrus’s combat boots been under? In a conversation with designer Rick Owens for Interview magazine, Cyrus revealed that she’s been working on a Metallica covers album — from someone else’s bed. Related

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Tags: And, of course, she rocked the Cranberries’ “Zombie” over the weekend, along with the seven other covers she performed between her MTV Unplugged Backyard Sessions special and her Save Our Stages Fest. “We’ve been working on a Metallica cover album and I’m here working on that,” she told Owens. At first, it felt uninspiring and now I’ve been totally ignited.” Cyrus didn’t elaborate on whose bed, leaving us to wonder what other musician she may have set her sights on after her recent split from Cody Simpson. “We’re so lucky to be able to continue to work on our art during all of this. Call her Master of Covers. We’re not, however, wondering if she can take on the thrash metal giants — she previously scorched Black Album standout “Nothing Else Matters” at last year’s Glastonbury Festival.

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