Look to the individual episodes, and there’s the gorgeous queer romances of Black Mirror (“San Junipero”) and Easy (“Vegan Cinderella”), the powerful finale of Looking, and that exceptionally funny Stonewall installment of Drunk History. Check out the full list of nominees here. Not long ago, FX and HBO were pioneering content in the realm of LGBTQ storytelling, but as I wrote specifically about HBO last year, their rapid evolution has taken them backwards in some respects. This is an incredibly encouraging sign, obviously, but also a slightly alarming one. There are old-timers like Grey’s Anatomy and Shameless, recent breakouts like Transparent and The Fosters, and thrilling freshmen like Tig Notaro’s One Mississippi and Seeso’s Take My Wife. Television’s shift toward more equitable representation has continued into 2017, and GLAAD’s nominations from the past year reflect that. Typically, a decent show with a decent queer component would be all but destined for GLAAD recognition; in years past there just hadn’t been the depth of programming to allow for selectivity. But just two years later, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation expanded its television award categories to meet the content explosion of Peak TV, a move which welcomed a far more diverse slate of characters from Looking, Orange Is the New Black, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Transparent, and other series. Safe to say, we’ve come a long way in a relatively short timespan. The GLAAD Media Awards are less an arbiter of quality than an industry snapshot—a chance to observe LGBTQ representational trends, and evaluate where the culture is improving and where it isn’t. In 2014, the nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series were Glee, Go On, Happy Endings, Modern Family, and The New Normal—an overwhelmingly male and white group. There was, in other words, a lot to celebrate in 2016. There’s Michael K. This year’s GLAAD nominations paint a picture of an industry that is telling more queer stories than ever—while also providing a crucial reminder that progress isn’t always permanent. Of the 20 series nominated, 13 networks are represented, with first-timers like SundanceTV and Seeso placed right alongside Netflix, Amazon, and Showtime. But this year, the faded Orange Is the New Black and muddled Empire were left off alongside the ineligible Please Like Me, among many others. Williams’ Leonard Pine of Hap and Leonard, a black, gay Vietnam vet in Reagan-era America; the androgynous Stevonnie of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe; and the late-life romantic pair of Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston in Grace and Frankie. There are 20 shows nominated between Best Comedy and Best Drama, and they collectively stand out for their sheer variety. For once, being a good gay show wasn’t all that mattered. With new outlets continuing to push into original programming, the pressure to innovate, stand out, and reach particular audiences is a big reason for this major—and somewhat sudden—improvement. Indeed, FX and HBO—TV’s two most respected “prestige” networks, if the Emmys and critics provide any indication—are completely absent from the nominations.
For more on the ban, Noah turned to TDS Muslim correspondent Hasan Minhaj, who had some words for the “Republican friends” who assured him that Trump would never follow through on his Islamophobic rhetoric. “Usually, being a Muslim at an airport sucks,” he said. But he doesn’t hate Trump for doing so—in fact, the ban actually resulted in a great experience when Minhaj flew into JFK International Airport on the day the ban was implemented. Now go back to watching CNN. Despite being a U.S. Muslims were publically praying, and people were cheering them on!” noted Minhaj. “But this weekend, it was like I was the Weeknd […] Literally three white people ran up to me to thank me for being Muslim.”
Turns out that Trump’s immigration ban, rather than halting the spread of Islam, seems to be doing the exact opposite. We’re in our second week of the Trump administration, and people are protesting in airports around the country. “Just look at what he’s done at the airport: White women were turning their scarves into hijabs. Even though you said that ban was to protect America from outside threats, that ban
included people with green cards and and even seemed to include dual citizens of Canada or Britain or any other country you didn’t plan to ban, you silly billy. But in case you’re someone who still can’t understand what the problem is with the so-called “Muslim ban”—like, specifically, if you’re the man who signed it—The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah is here to break it down in the simplest of terms:
You banned everyone from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. “Congratulations, Mr. citizen, Minhaj is worried that Trump has taken such a drastic step just 11 days into his presidency. President. Mission accomplished.”
Triplicate, which has just been announced for a March 31 release, will be the first triple album of Dylan’s career, with 30 songs spread across three individually titled discs, called “’Til The Sun Goes Down,” “Devil Dolls” and “Comin’ Home Late.” Like last year’s Fallen Angels and 2015’s Shadows in the Night, Triplicate focuses on songs popularized by Frank Sinatra, with, to quote the announcement on Dylan’s website, “hand-chosen songs from an array of American songwriters including Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (“Once Upon A Time”), Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler (“Stormy Weather”), Harold Hupfield (“As Time Goes By”) and Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh (“The Best Is Yet To Come”).” (If you’re keeping track, that makes five years since Dylan’s last album of original songs, 2012’s Tempest.) Sinatra himself isn’t mentioned by name in the announcement. Whether that has anything to do with the new president’s choice of a first-dance tune is anybody’s guess, but here’s hoping the writer of “Masters of War” doesn’t spend the next four years crooning standards. Here’s the first single from Triplicate, “I Could Have Told You,” written by Count Basie and Arthur Prysock and released by Frank Sinatra in 1965. As if Bob Dylan’s ambivalence about being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature wasn’t clear enough from his deciding to skip the ceremony, he’s commemorating the honor by releasing his third consecutive album of songs written by other people.
12. No word has officially come from Warner Music Group, which struck a deal with the legendary musician in 2014, but the New York Post quotes a “music insider” who says that the release will coincide with the Grammy Awards on Feb. A few months after the singer’s death in April of last year, his estate sued Roc Nation in a dispute over which albums Tidal was allowed to stream per their contract. Since 2015, Tidal has been the sole platform to stream many of Prince’s biggest hits, including Purple Rain. It appears that a purple rain will finally fall down upon the major streaming platforms not named Tidal. On Monday, Pitchfork reported that sources have confirmed much of Prince’s extensive catalog will be available on Apple Music and Amazon “very soon,” while Billboard noted that purple-colored Spotify ads can now be found in Manhattan’s Union Square subway station.
“In just the first week of his presidency,” Meyers explained, “Trump has dropped to record low approval ratings, had two straight weekends of massive nationwide protests, and lost a court battle over a sloppy and discriminatory executive order.” President Trump’s immigration ban took up much of the weekend news, from devastating stories of families being kept apart to massive protests that broke out in airports around the country. “Last week it was parks, this week it was airports—next week people are going to march for gay rights at the DMV,” he quipped. For Meyers, this was very much part of a pattern involving people protesting at places no one in their right mind would spend time at for any other reason. (On that point, at least, it appears Trump has retreated from a rumored executive order that would legalize discrimination against federal LGBTQ employees.) Indeed, while Trump seems to be reveling in wreaking as much havoc as possible—without much regard for process or actual effective lawmaking—his opponents can rest easy on one point: It isn’t going so well. By the time Seth Meyers had a chance to weigh in on Monday’s episode of Late Night, the dust had settled just a bit—and accordingly, the host took a step back, intending to provide “context” for the latest scandal of the Trump Administration.
Here’s what she said to open Monday’s show:
I don’t get political so I’m not going to talk about the travel ban. Ellen DeGeneres will be the first to tell you that she tries not to get political. DeGeneres’s co-star, Albert Brooks (who does indeed sound “a little Jewish”), also had this to say:
Maybe President Trump learned something during the screening? Yeah, maybe not. But the other animals help Dory—animals that don’t even need her, animals that don’t even have anything in common with her. I don’t know what religion they are, but her dad sounds a little Jewish—doesn’t matter. Even though Dory gets into America, she ends up separated from her family. And they all have to get over the wall. Dory arrives in America with her friends Marlin and Nemo, and she ends up at the Marine Life Institute behind a large wall. Some form of response was inevitable, and fortunately, Ellen rose to the occasion. But Monday’s episode of her daily talk show was likely to go a little differently, given the horrors of the past weekend and the fact that, amidst them, President Trump screened the Ellen-starring Finding Dory at the White House. And you won’t believe it, but that wall has almost no effect in keeping them out. I’m just going to talk about the very nonpolitical, family-friendly, People’s Choice Award-winning
Finding Dory. She incisively took the subject matter of Dory as a way of crafting some surprisingly sharp political commentary. You help them. Of course,
Finding Dory is about a fish named Dory, and Dory lives in Australia … Her parents … live in America. They help her even though they’re completely different colors, because that’s what you do when you see someone in need.
But that cozy preconception is challenged by the presence of John Hume, a South African rancher who has dedicated the latter part of his life and apparently all of his substantial fortune to ensuring the survival of the African white rhino. Trump’s presence is threaded all through the film, with radio and TV broadcasts serving as periodic reminders that the country has just elected a man who has asserted that climate change was a fiction created by the Chinese government. But Nicks’ POV isn’t wedded to any particular character, which allows him room for both (cautious) praise and cutting criticism. But in posing questions larger than the answers it has, Trophy forces us to consider that the most effective solutions may not be the most obvious ones, and that achieving them may require making common cause with people whose politics otherwise diverge in every conceivable way. Sundance’s fiction films were mainly active in the realm of cultural politics. He admits that there are times when he considers the environmental movement’s lack of progress to be a “personal failure,” but in other moments there’s a fire in his voice, a low rasp that occasionally breaks through his calming monotone. But that idea runs afoul of traditional conservationists who see him as no more than a profiteer, increasing the number of rhinos but only on his own private property. Its point of view is diametrically opposed to the one in Whose Streets: Here, we’re following cops, and civilians are in the background. A few characters recur, including David Whitt, a member of the Ferguson chapter of Copwatch, and Brittany Ferrell, of Millennial Activists United, but it’s not a movie that prizes the individual over the collective, just as Black Lives Matter avoids elevating the leader over the group. Although periodic title cards bring in both national and historical context, charting the protests’ amplification through social media and their resonance with the writings of Frantz Fanon and others, the movie’s perspective is overwhelmingly first-person, without the tidy frames of media reports or official statements. Hume, who weeps as he talks about “my rhinos,” seems sincere in his belief that his is the only viable way to keep them alive, and in the movie’s climactic public debate with a more conventional animal-rights crusader, his pragmatism trumps his opponent’s platitudes, even if he doesn’t win over the audience of British liberals. There’s no climactic victory like the moment where Gore calls the CEO of a solar energy company and gets him to soften the Indian prime minister’s resistance to the Paris accords, but as protests against the current administration continue to spring up at a moment’s notice, it’s easy to see them following the template established by BLM and Occupy Wall Street, who’ve done the groundwork for the anti-Trump movement even if not all their short-term objectives have been met. Given the subject matter, it could easily have been a movie whose primary purpose is confirm what its viewers already believe: Hunting is inhumane, the people who do it are monsters, etc. At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, resistance was in the air. Although the movie presents Gore as the leader of a movement, with onscreen captions touting the thousands of people he’s personally trained to go and do likewise, it focuses almost exclusively on him, for both better and worse. At Sequel’s Sundance premiere, Gore declined to discuss the specifics of his conversation with Trump, saying “this story has many chapters yet to unfold.” But it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for the wait-and-see approach when Trump is vowing to undo decades of progress, including the Paris Agreement Gore helped broker in 2015 that serve as Sequel’s triumphant climax. The Force sometimes loses the thread, especially as the city’s chiefs of police start resigning and being hired faster than the film can keep up. Directed by franchise newcomers Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk—An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Guggenheim ets an executive producer credit—Sequel is part instructional video, part travelogue, following Gore around the globe as he consults with climate scientists and gives the newest version of his famous Keynote presentation to new recruits. “Truth to Power” was, in fact, the subtitle of the festival’s opening-night film, the Al Gore-starring An Inconvenient Sequel. Dee Rees’ sprawling Mudbound, which tells the story of two families, one black, one white, as they each struggle to find their footing in the American South after World War II, begins with the sons of an elderly bigot accidentally burying him in a slave’s grave, and the movie is marked by the sense that the legacy of racism is so deeply embedded—literally part of the ground the characters walk on—that it’s impossible for anyone to escape. That achieving change is harder than calling for it is the subject of Peter Nicks’ documentary The Force, which won Sundance’s documentary directing prize. Times, a sharp, stylish debut by actor and screenwriter Michelle Morgan, is its virtual inverse, a portrait of privileged, largely white people whose bids for happiness are undermined by their unflagging narcissism. It’s a savage satire, like a Whit Stillman movie without the upper-crust ambivalence, the kind of movie where palm trees are described as “condescending” and a character whose TV is being stolen muses, “It has shitty blacks anyway.” It’s tremendously funny and terribly sad, with a vicious streak just underneath its glossy surface. But that disorientation also serves as a warning that positive change is both difficult to achieve and easy to lose, especially when the institutions meant to keep it in place no longer function. From the plains of South Africa to the streets of Missouri, and Utah, the lesson is the same. But that “my” sticks in your throat, as does the movie’s relative lack of black South African characters, who appear mainly as ranch hands and poachers. Sundance’s documentaries offered plenty of other models for change—or, if you like, #resistance. Sabaah Folayan’s Whose Streets is an on-the-ground chronicle of the protests in Ferguson, Mo. The tricky bit is that he does it by harvesting their horns for sale, at least until the South African government bans the practice in an attempt to thwart poachers. At times, it seems like the OPD is making genuine progress, but then it slips away: They go months without an officer-involved shooting, then several stack up all at once. Based on the real-life story of co-writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon, audience favorite The Big Sick was a deft portrait of a budding romance strained by cultural differences and catastrophic illness: Although Nanjiani, playing himself, battles with his Muslim family over his decision to forgo an arranged marriage for a relationship with a white woman (played in the film by Zoe Kazan), the movie doesn’t caricature either side. Perhaps Gore’s offer is itself merely for show, but it goes beyond reaching across the aisle into credulousness: Even suggesting that Inhofe, who wrote a climate-change book called The Greatest Hoax, can be reasoned with legitimizes beliefs—or at least public stances—that ought to fall well outside the Overton window. This Gore is both humbler and more fired-up than the star of the first Inconvenient Truth. Given that it’s more commonly associated with political activists than career politicians, the phrase, which was added only shortly before the premiere, seemed more designed to capture the spirit of the times than the film itself. But Gore took an audience with him anyway, stoking hopes that Trump might be open to alternate points of view—at least until two days later, when Trump announced a virulent anti-environmentalist as his pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Shot from 2014 to 2016, the movie follows the attempts to reform the troubled Oakland Police Department after more than a decade under federal supervision. That goes, too, for Gore’s meeting with Donald Trump, to which An Inconvenient Sequel alludes in its closing frames. that erupted after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. The motto of Hume and his like-minded businessmen is “If it pays, it stays,” meaning that endangered species can be repopulated if there’s a way to turn a profit doing it. The most genuinely provocative of Sundance’s documentaries was Trophy, directed by Christina Clusiau and Narco Cultura’s Shaul Schwarz, about the world of big-game hunting. It was the movies themselves, which offered a wide range of methods for speaking truth to power—and a few cautionary tales. In some segments, one wants more of that anger, as when he squares off against James Inhofe, the Senate’s climate denier-in-chief, and calmly suggests that they might be able to come to an understanding if they could meet away from the lights and the cameras. It wasn’t just the Women’s March, which took over Park City’s Main Street on the festival’s first Saturday morning, drawing stars like Jessica Williams away from promoting their movies. L.A.
Instead of playing it safe, he swings open the cage door and lures a grown kangaroo out as if it were a kitten. Damon’s Ripley, meanwhile, is a clumsy mess, devoid of any of the deviant lust that makes Highsmith’s creation so magnetic. He goes on for nearly three whole minutes talking about the virtues of his treasured appendage. His expression here lands somewhere between resolve and deep interest. Of course, he makes it look easy: Law is the ne plus ultra of actors who innately understand how beauty can add complexity to a role. Law’s signature dark charm and confidence, bordering on narcissism, is necessary for the film to maintain its urgency. He’s more than game, lending Lenny a cocky aggression, arms splayed wide as he’s addressing a hungry crowd or handling a cigarette as if to punctuate his sentences. Law embraces this aesthetic, while adding enough darkness and unpredictability to deepen his work beyond mere classic-Hollywood, leading-man pastiche. The assumptions and suspicions you may have about men that good-looking complicates the experience of watching the film. He’s cunning, elegant, playful, all wrapped up in a devastating package. Director Anthony Minghella, with whom Law worked on The Talented Mr. (It’s a brief cameo, but Law is light on his feet, altering his voice enough to sound akin to Flynn without falling into caricature as Cate Blanchett did with Katharine Hepburn.) Flynn was one of many to believe his good looks ruined his chances of being a serious actor. But in Law’s hands, Dickie isn’t just an impetuous, simplistic pretty boy delaying adulthood. The average best supporting actor is 50, while the average best supporting actress is 40.” This only reinforces the idea that being a young, beautiful object of desire as an actor is antithetical to more acclaimed roles. “I love myself more than God.”)
As Law’s career has progressed, he’s played a variety of roles, including cheating obituary writer (Closer), a rougher, dashing version of John Watson (Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films), a humorous spin on the James Bond–brand of super spy (Spy), cunning mob enforcer (Road to Perdition), and Hamlet on Broadway, to name a few. For many, The Talented Mr. Even in The Young Pope, when he smokes with such flourish or saunters through the opening credits, his keen understanding of physicality as emotion is evident. The Washington Post did a study on the age dynamics at play for men and women at the Academy Awards, writing, “The average age of best actor winners was 44, compared to the best actress average of 36. The film begins as a fun, slapdash, nasty piece of work before turning into a Guy Ritchie knockoff. Even if Law didn’t gain the weight, his performance as Hemingway would still sing. In his early ingenue roles that clearly capitalize on his beauty, Law found ways to add texture and gravitas to what could have been mere Adonis figures. He glides, jumps from objects to the ground, and moves differently from anyone else in the film, using his movements to communicate the technological nature of his character. His movements have an ease that feels natural, yet at the same time too smooth to be exactly human. (For the record, he works great in close-ups, too, as the beginning of The Young Pope’s third episode illustrates when he lasciviously and passionately conducts a monologue. His performance crystallizes his greatest strengths as an actor—his leonine physicality, his ability to deliver lines with equal parts charm and venom, and the ways he’s weaponized his good looks. Even before Law is seen with grimy teeth, a paunch, and a dramatically receding hairline, his disembodied voice alerts us to how different he will be. He isn’t just unorthodox, complicated, and dangerous in the way that has come to be expected of so-called antiheroes in lush TV productions. This article originally appeared in Vulture. The Young Pope is compulsively watchable because of Law, where another actor might have tilted too far into the character’s wackiness or darkness. Law plays a psychiatrist whose patient (Rooney Mara) kills her husband in a sleepwalking stupor, which she blames on her medication as part of an elaborate plot. His performance couldn’t be more different from Damon’s approach to the character. It alludes to the idea that, at the start of his career, Law was lovely to look at, but offered little beyond leading-man good looks. This tactic is clear particularly in the tradition of femme fatales of the 1940s, or even today: Rosamund Pike’s patrician blonde visage is useful in how it contrasts with the pure psychopathy of Amy Dunne in David Fincher’s Gone Girl. As a viewer, to watch him is to be seduced and frightened in equal measure. Instead, his voice is rough, clipped, and aggressive. This isn’t to say Law has never been praised or awarded, especially in his early career, when his beauty was at its peak. In each, he mines the contradictions between his spellbinding good looks, dangerous cunning, and natural warmth. It’s a rip-roaring, slovenly, gleefully deranged work that is as transformative within as it is without. Tyrone Power, Paul Newman, and others have expressed the idea that being genetically blessed made it harder to get meatier roles. But the 44-year-old English actor has never been revered and studied in the ways his peers, like Daniel Day-Lewis or Philip Seymour Hoffman, have been, which is a shame. In recent years, it’s that smarminess in particular that he’s used to great effect. It isn’t a coincidence his career would gain esteem as his looks have changed in middle age. But for the film to work, Law’s innocence must always be in question. See also: How Trumpish Is The Young Pope? Even the most blessed among us have some imperfection that underscores our inherent humanity. Law’s line about his handsomeness in The Young Pope could easily have been said by any number of actors who felt ill at ease with their own beauty, like Errol Flynn, whom Law played in Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator. As the titular figure in The Young Pope, Law’s American-born Pope (real name: Lenny Belardo) is vaulted to the position thanks to much-mentioned but never fully explained manipulation. At times, his compliments and kind gestures don’t fully feel sincere because they’re tinged with bitterness. Ripley was their first introduction to Law. Sometimes he’ll toss off clever one-liners like bombs, other times discarding them like day-old trash. At 44, Law is still attractive, but not in the near-perfect way he was in his youth. “I love myself more than my neighbor,” he extols with only the upper half of his face filling the screen. But Law is an actor begging to be seen wide. The 1999 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s unnerving mystery sees Law playing Dickie Greenleaf, a spoiled trust-fund kid who Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley is tasked with bringing back to the United States. The director frames Law with a sort of movie-star grandness that only the right presence can adequately fill. It can sometimes seem modern directors rely a bit too heavily on close-ups in order to telegraph the grandest emotions. He’s an actor of such stunning beauty and grace, he feels like a genetic fluke. In the blink of an eye, his gaze will move from compassionate to cruel scrutiny. This doesn’t mean he hasn’t also leaned away—just look at his lead performance in the 2013 film Dom Hemingway. There is a darkness on the margins of his identity far more compelling than that of Damon’s Ripley. Lenny leads them to the noise: It’s from a cage holding a wild animal donated by the Australian foreign minister. An intelligent actress can use her looks in a way that enriches her work, rather than depending on or trying to downplay them. Delon typically carried an iciness and unreadability that belied his boyish good looks, while Law has a warmth to him that at times feels genuine (like in Nancy Meyers’s The Holiday), and other times is just a front to disguise his self-absorption (Closer). But Law actually does meld these wildly different aesthetics. When Law is called an ingenue, it’s because of roles like this. He’s the ultimate cinematic fantasy and nightmare you’re not sure you ever want to wake from. He’s a cigarette-smoking, Cherry Coke–guzzling maelstrom. One such figure is French actor Alain Delon, who also starred in an adaptation of Highsmith’s novel decades earlier, in the 1960 René Clement film Purple Noon. It’s the sort of achingly beautiful, aspirational movie-star entrance that’s rare to see these days. There are none of those touching imperfections in Gigolo Joe, which isn’t a matter of special-effects trickery, but of an actor with a supreme understanding of his own physicality. In 2001’s A.I., Law demonstrates a more heightened version of this balletic physicality, as the male-prostitute robot aptly named Gigolo Joe. He’s being manipulated, of course, and what follows is a series of double crosses and hidden agendas. In contrast, actors historically are given better parts and awarded as they age out of their ingenue phases. Delon is a clear antecedent to Law, even though in Purple Noon he isn’t playing Dickie, but Ripley himself. But Delon is just as clever in how he wields his beauty in films like Purple Noon: as a source of power that, to the audience, is like a mesmerizing spell. The Young Pope is full of moments like this, where it spins off into odd tangents, none of which would work without Law, who makes a meal out of every scene. At one point in The Young Pope, Lenny says, “I know I’m incredibly handsome. Lounging on a crowded beach, his body, tanned and taut, stretches under the bright sun. In many ways, modern actors obscuring their beauty is an attack on what classic Hollywood valued—strong star persona, gorgeousness, and a sense of play. Their careers are often curtailed in their 30s, even as their skills grow. He lends a perverse delight to Ripley as he tries on various identities. Over a red screen, he asks, “Is my cock exquisite?” In his introduction, he looks directly at the camera while obviously getting a blowjob. His eyes will unexpectedly grow dark and shark-like, as if he’s figuring out ways to use you. Actors in classic Hollywood didn’t have the opportunity to put on weight or drop it to perilous lows, since the studio system prized their sex appeal. Here, his beauty isn’t an inward quality, but a mask hiding his more damning inhibitions. Because to categorize Law as an ingenue misunderstands a truth that has been evident since the very beginning: His presence and striking good looks don’t enchant so much as they ensnare. Early in the second episode while tending to his new duties with some archbishops and Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), the nun who raised him and now acts as his personal secretary, a strange rumbling is heard. At first this seems a bit odd, given how different Astaire and Kelly are. The series—created, written, and directed by Paolo Sorrentino—is weird, ostentatious, and deliriously hilarious. Astaire is the picture of grace: He doesn’t so much walk and dance as he does float. But throughout, Law is utterly mesmerizing. This is what makes him one of the most entrancing modern actors: He’s at his best when he doesn’t obscure his good looks, but leans into them. It’s actors, though, who are often more vocal about the struggles of being an object of sexual desire while trying to carve out a fulfilling career. As the titular character in the uneven crime drama/black comedy, it’s Law’s voice that is heard before he’s ever seen. This isn’t a typical Oscar-bait role full of carefully curated suffering and an arc predicated on overcoming great struggle. He’s bursting with quicksilver moods, cocky brio, and joyful violence. Director Anthony Minghella wrings as much sumptuous beauty from the Italian landscape as possible, but from the moment he’s introduced, Law’s face is what remains his most enchanting subject. This understanding of his own body can be traced throughout Law’s career. Gone is his usual posh, eloquent purr. Please, let’s try to forget about that.” But Sorrentino never does (neither does Law, for that matter). Take Steven Soderbergh’s 2013 film Side Effects. (Casting Law as this character almost feels like a way of poking fun at his own image as desirable leading man.) His more robotic movements are a bit too sharp or too quick to feel natural. Ripley and Cold Mountain, once said about the actor, “Jude is a beautiful boy with the mind of a man. A true character actor struggling to get out of a beautiful body.” A-list actresses of this kind of great, overpowering beauty have learned to use their looks to inform their performance. A common refrain when discussing HBO’s new series The Young Pope is that it’s a showcase for Jude Law, who, as Pope Pius XIII, has finally shed his ingenue beginnings. In the hands of a great actor, physical beauty can bring unexpected complexity to a role. The warmth of his smile never quite reaches his eyes. As Kelly himself once said, “Fred Astaire represents the aristocracy when he dances, and I represent the proletariat.” Kelly is grounded to the Earth with raw energy and sexuality brimming in his every move. Law moves nearly imperceptibly between the earthy lustfulness of Kelly and the supreme grace of Astaire. Even in uneven films like Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina he brings enough heartbreaking interiority to his work to make at least his own performance magnificent; or in the unmemorable 2004 remake of Alfie, where there’s a smarminess to his performance that prevents it from being trite. And long before Dom Hemingway, Law had been doing great, even subversive work. What separates Law’s transformative turn in Dom Hemingway from the countless other examples of pretty-boy actors who obscure the good looks that got them noticed in the first place is a single factor: the sheer exuberance of his performance. While Delon and Law both use their beauty to deepen their performances, there are fundamental differences in their techniques. As stated in one of the DVD extras of the film, Law studied the work of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly in preparation for the role. But for leading men todaywho want to be taken more seriously, transformation is key—taking on tricky accents, losing and gaining weight to a dangerous degree, uglifying themselves. For actresses, beauty and a degree of sex appeal are arguably non-negotiable if they want to achieve major fame.
One of my colleagues suggested leaving an empty front-row seat for the absent filmmaker, and that strikes me as a good thing to do (though the efficacy of empty-chair rhetoric is, let’s say, questionable), but it’s not sufficient. Littlefeather might not have moved the needle any more than Moore did—though in retrospect, her full statement seems dead right—but the one thing you can’t accuse Brando of is making the night about himself. (See the cast of Orange is the New Black the same night, if you can stand it.) Asking an actor to make a coherent, effective political statement, moments after they’ve won one of the highest honors in their career, is asking for trouble. What I’d suggest in addition is pretty simple: awards nominees could send ex-refugees in their place to accept their awards. The question to ask, though, is who else would be hurt. it’s not like that large audience is dying to hear what Hollywood luminaries think about politics. Abandoning it to make a political point (to a man whose fondest wish is for some films in particular not to be preserved) would be counterproductive. Here’s a sampling (including a tweet from Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg):
It’s easy to see why canceling the ceremony entirely is an appealing option; it’s principled, it sends a clear message, and it’s a drastic action in response to a drastic threat. You might be able to make the case that Native American stereotypes in Hollywood were a more directly relevant cause to address at a film industry event than the war in Iraq (Michael Moore, 2003) or the Trump administration, except for the fact that Farhadi, a brilliant filmmaker and an Oscar nominee this year, won’t be attending his own awards ceremony because of Trump’s reckless and immoral actions. This approach has several advantages over the scattershot political speechifying we saw at the SAG Awards. (This would require a rule change from the Academy, since they prohibited proxies after Littlefeather, but desperate times, desperate measures.) The nominees’ proxies should use the time between getting to the microphone and being played off by the orchestra not to rail against Trump or condemn those who voted for him, but to introduce themselves to the world, say who they are, where they came from, what they fled, what kind of life they built in the United States, and how the immigrant ban would have affected them. The Academy prohibited Littlefeather from reading her full statement, and then she got booed by the audience (perhaps apocryphally, the booing allegedly started with John Wayne), but the arguments against her speech—it’s not what the night was about, it was rude, no one understood the message—are pretty different from the traditional right-wing spiel about arrogant liberal Hollywood presuming to tell Americans what to do. (To quote one representative tweet, “CANCEL THE OSCARS YOU IDIOTS, PLEASE! Would it change people’s minds? There’s no way the night won’t be about Farhadi and the immigrant ban, at least in part. (Trump, in this analogy—as in virtually every Trump analogy—is serial killer Buffalo Bill.) Nominees could pick a single person as their designated recipient for the entire category, or each person could choose their own. But although it’s essential that Hollywood, like the rest of the country, respond to Trump and the Republicans’ sustained attack on American values, canceling the Oscars surely isn’t the best way. Maybe a complete unwillingness on the part of Hollywood to behave normally would get through to some slightly-less-crazy Trump voters just how much work we all have to do now to clean up their mess. Hollywood would still get to throw itself a party and the winners would still get their gold statues. And although it’s true that occasionally an actor can make a political argument in a personal, not-sanctimonious way—see Juila Louis-Dreyfus’ speech at the Screen Actors Guild Awards this weekend for an example—more often, it’s a mess. It would illustrate a direct and easily understandable straight line between a specific Trump policy and its consequences, rather than a wide-ranging assault on the right wing (or, say, mixed martial arts). It would generate more coverage than a cancellation, and that coverage would probably include follow-up stories on the proxies who accepted awards, instead of, say, caterers who didn’t get to sell their canapés. You can see this in the Stranger Things acceptance speech from the SAG awards; the best way the cast can fight injustice is, apparently, by making a second season of Stranger Things. Unlike an actor discussing politics, no one can tell an ex-refugee that they’re out of their lane for telling their own life story. (It seems likely that it will include a certain celebrity-impressed President). Winners wouldn’t have to be serious at the exact moment when they’re jubilant about their new Oscar. And then there’s this:
Marlon Brando’s decision to send Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather to accept his Academy Award for The Godfather is often held up as an example of self-absorbed Hollywood straying where it didn’t belong, but watch it again. And cancelling the Oscars wouldn’t just leave money on the table while abandoning important work. The answer turns out to be: A lot more people than just Trump voters and the cast and crew of La La Land. Maybe not! Brando wasn’t using the spotlight to self-aggrandize or claim that his contribution to the cause of Native Americans was The Godfather. They’re not entirely wrong about art, but patting themselves on the back for their great humanitarian achievements in the world of streaming television is not very convincing. Surely not! Instead, he gave his platform to someone else entirely and went to Wounded Knee. Plus, nobody feels much like throwing a party these days. The tricky question is what form these messages should take in order to be most effective. The model here is Senator Martin in The Silence of the Lambs, pleading for the life of her kidnapped child: put human faces on a single Trump policy that has directly attacked the film community by blocking Farhadi. What’s more, if you ask an artist what’s most important in a time of disaster, their answer will almost always be “more art.” This is the Don Draper rule: what people most want to hear is that whatever they’re doing right now is okay. People shut down, they don’t listen, they tell actors to stay in their lanes, and nothing gets accomplished. What’s more, it’s something that might make more of an impact than canceling the show altogether. While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences offered a statement calling the development “extremely troubling,” some critics think they should go farther still. The glib reason the show must go on is that cancelling it would violate the Br’er Rabbit Principle: you can’t hurt a rabbit by throwing him into the briar patch where he was born and raised, and you can’t hurt Trump’s most vocal supporters by cancelling a cultural event, no matter how gauche. With the news that that the latest disaster in Donald Trump’s Lizard Brain Jamboree will bar Oscar nominee Asghar Farhadi from attending the Academy Awards (and Farhadi’s later decision to skip them whether he is allowed to come or not), the film community has been scrambling to find an effective response. The worldwide size of the show’s audience is tough to be precise about, but it’s enormous, and it’s larger still when you consider the news coverage the next day. First, there’s the money. It wouldn’t be sacrifice-free: we’d all have to give up the fun of watching America’s best-looking people try to remember their high school drama teacher’s name. Would Hollywood actually do this? But if we make it to Oscar night, we should do something, and this is something. A lot of people in Hollywood clearly have very strong feelings about where the country is going, and the chance to express that to millions is not something to scoff at. #weALLwin #HollywoodSucks #TrumpTrain #NoBreaks.”) Of course, Trump got plenty of support from middle-class suburban whites, many of whom presumably enjoy movies. As the president of the Academy explains every year in the part of the Oscars everyone tunes out, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is more than just an awards show. They have a world-class film archive, an extraordinary library with extensive special collections, a wide array of film preservation projects (prints of which screen all over the world), and are in the process of building an enormous museum. The other parts of the ceremony—the In Memoriam reel, the Academy President’s song and dance, presenters trying to explain, once again, the difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing—could go on as usual. It’s essential, time-sensitive work, and it gets paid for by the Oscars, which netted nearly $70 million in 2016, according to the Academy’s financial report. It would also involve walking away from an enormous global platform to protest what Donald Trump and the Republicans are doing to the country and the world.
Google also shared a quote by Korematsu:
You can donate to the ACLU here. In 1976, Gerald Ford formally apologized for and terminated the order that forced tens of thousands of Japanese Americans from their homes. Monday, he would have been 98. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in 1942, more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent—most of them Japanese American—were relocated to internment camps throughout the United States. Trump surrogates have used the internment of Japanese Americans as a possible legal precedent for Trump’s proposal for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims” entering the country. Korematsu, the son of Japanese immigrants, was arrested and convicted for resisting incarceration. Korematsu’s conviction was overturned in 1983, and in 1998, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom. United States, but he lost. The company has set up a $4 million crisis campaign. Korematsu, who opposed the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, died in 2005. After Franklin D. On Friday, Donald Trump signed an executive order suspending the admission of refugees and preventing citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Google’s Doodle shows Korematsu wearing his Medal of Freedom, the barracks of an internment camp behind him, while surrounded by a border of cherry blossoms, symbolizing peace and friendship. Its Monday Doodle may have been timed to coincide with Korematsu’s birthday, but the decision to honor him specifically, at a time like this, is fundamentally political. He proclaimed:
I call upon the American people to affirm with me this American Promise—that we have learned from the tragedy of that long-ago experience forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American, and resolve that this kind of action shall never again be repeated. In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai spoke out against the ban and ordered more than 100 employees affected by it to return to the United States. With the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, he appealed to the Supreme Court in Korematsu v. Google’s Doodle on Monday celebrated the birthday of Fred Korematsu, a civil rights leader remembered for defying an American president’s executive order, one that targeted specific ethnic populations under the guise of protecting national security.
Labels came, and labels went. But as Eitzel assures Mr. It begins with two songs I suspect might make quick converts, “Johnny Mathis’ Feet” from 1993’s Mercury and “Patriot’s Heart” from the 2004 AMC reunion album Love Songs for Patriots, then runs roughly chronologically to Hey Mr. They are able to convey the singer from one bank of mortality to another and to offer listeners in need a promise that we will be carried along. Mark Eitzel is younger, but decidedly no longer young, and outside of a tiny following he’s never received anything like Cohen’s recognition. Often, though, he wrote from the viewpoint of a would-be lifesaver—most potently, perhaps, in 1996’s almost unbearable “Mission Rock Resort.” It’s about having a margarita with a friend who has become a heroin addict (likely “Kathleen,” who Eitzel has called the only woman he ever loved and who died in 1998). Eitzel’s mordant tone was improbable stuff for big halls and arenas. Listening back to it now, the figures of the chaotically whoring, performing leader and of his hungry spectators feel even more dead-on and devastating than they did in the early years of the Iraq war. Ferryman. AMC’s name (and the knowledge that the band included a pedal-steel player) made me expect a more heartland-rock kind of outfit. My mistaken impression of him as an overly arch stylist was exploded. He knows his vessels are bound to sink and fail, like every human thing. Ferryman is more set by the lilting “An Answer,” about dancing with a friend or lover, “right here in your merciful kitchen … You make me want to stick around and find if there’s an answer.” There are a couple of disturbing songs about domestic abuse, in “Nothing and Everything” and “La Llorona” (based, pointedly given the political moment, on a Mexican ghost story), but there is also the salvation-bestowing tune for a widowed gambling addict, “An Angel’s Wing Brushed the Penny Slots.”
If this album has a centerpiece, it is “In My Role as Professional Singer and Ham,” its title a much less bitter callback to Eitzel’s early-’90s song, “In My Role as the Most Hated Singer (in the Local Underground Music Scene).” Over a very Cohenesque acoustic-picking pattern that’s gradually engulfed in Butler’s rising guitars and horns, Eitzel addresses a conservative relative at Thanksgiving dinner, with “a mouthful of gravy and turkey and truth,” who “only hears you when you say ‘Amen’/ Can’t hear a thing from under his burden of proof.” It quickly becomes apparent that this vexing cousin or uncle is a microcosm of Trump Nation, playing out scenes with a soundtrack “played by those hacks from the Titanic.” Eitzel proclaims that he stands “with the deaf and the dumb” and counsels, “Look away, look away.”
Yet the very next track is a sweet, waltz-time tribute to a fellow old man of showbiz—improbably enough, Mr. Eitzel’s outlook today seems very different. It’s queer, bold, and venomous, portraying a male stripper in star-spangled undies, selling himself to all, well, comers. Eitzel, it’s clear, knows exactly how the tired thespian feels, but he circles back again and again to that last virtue-vice from Pandora’s box: “Just keep hoping, hoping.”
None of this, obviously, is firebrand, rebel music. Like Cohen, too, Eitzel has a sharp social conscience balanced by a poet’s intuition that it’s a shill any time another human starts promising you redemption. Speaking of lost time, I will confess I mostly zoned out on American Music Club’s initial run, which ended with the weak San Francisco album in 1994, and on Eitzel’s early solo career. Eitzel reportedly came in expecting to do a mostly acoustic album like his last release, 2012’s excellent Don’t Be a Stranger, until Butler argued, “Why don’t we do a record with music on it?” With uncharacteristic relaxation, Eitzel turned over the demos and let Butler have at it. Gladly, Eitzel’s vocal verve proves more than up to Butler’s settings, even as he ironizes them with his trademark whiskey-sour urbanity. Perhaps you are one of the few who have been following Eitzel since AMC was making mild ripples in the alternative-rock world. I heard some songs in passing, but likely the wrong ones. He has a post-liberation sense of camp that never leaves irony behind but is also never in full drag—he wants to tell the truth, in whatever shade of rouge he needs to wear to get it. (Bars and their surrounds have been Eitzel’s favorite song locations ever since “Room Above the Club,” the first track on the first AMC album, 1985’s The Restless Stranger, not to mention perhaps his first really terrific song, “Outside This Bar,” on 1987’s follow-up, Engine.)
The first verse, going into the chorus, outright deserves quoting, though putting the lines into print misses the way that Eitzel extends, contours, and punctuates them vocally, like some contemporary Sinatra of post-imperial masculinity, in the very, very, wee small hours:
The ferryman who takes me to my rest, He don’t give a damn who’s cursed or blessed. (Considering that I was into bands like the Silver Jews, I’m not sure how I was making this distinction.)
Two things, in this century, finally got my attention. He was on stage in a dress shirt and a trucker hat, with an accompanying pianist, and gave a recital in full torch-singer mode, making clownish, self-deprecating cracks in between unrestrained, passionate, down-on-one-knee renditions of many of his best songs. The heart of the world is drawing near. Ferryman” who is at once Charon, conveying souls between the living realm and the underworld, and a cabbie driving a dead-drunk narrator home after last, last, last call. Eitzel’s rich lyric baritone and his gifts for unforgiving observation and insight were undeniable. And the album he released this weekend, Hey Mr. The punchline of that chorus, not just about how time becomes distended on a binge but about the effects of that kind of dead end–seeking on the passing of a lifetime, brings us back to Eitzel’s particular, red-light antechamber of purgatory. But they were too often compromised by his lazier verses, by performances as anxious as his characters were, and by tentative musical choices. Ferryman, it’s a surprise to hear the smooth, big-guitar reverb and choral backing vocals—almost yacht-rock, perhaps in line with Eitzel’s recent relocation from San Francisco to Los Angeles—that U.K. It makes me think of something Eitzel said recently about a Cohen concert he attended years ago: “I saw him and thought, ‘Man … he just rides these songs like they’re luxury liners.’ I want to do that.” On this album, more than any other, Eitzel (with Butler’s help) has worked his musical crafts until the songs are that sturdy, that broadly inhabitable. I spent the last 10 years (yeah …) Trying to waste half an hour. Anyway, I give him all my cash—I’m like some tragic hero: A lightning flash, followed by a million zeros. In these days of emergency, both real and manufactured, I keep ruminating, as I knew I would, on the late songwriting giant Leonard Cohen singing “The Future” a quarter-century ago. Ferryman in that very first song, he always makes it home when the party’s over. Where available, I’ve also put them in this YouTube playlist—check out the horribly dated music video for “Can You Help Me?” from AMC’s 1994 swan song San Francisco, a good illustration of why Eitzel was always an unlikely alt-rock star: He sits awkwardly on a brambly hill in a cowboy hat, singing to a vamping model, “My old friend rigor mortis starts to breathe in my face.” These are middle-class, middle-aged, caucasian mediations in an emergency. More likely not, because the group’s much-predicted breakthrough never happened. Everything about his songs now is less claustrophobic, resounding and reverberating across a wider vista. It begins, “Try and be kind to Mr. A Mark Eitzel Primer
The Mark Eitzel/American Music Club discography covers more than three decades now, and given their vexed history, it includes multiple albums that are out of print and not on the main streaming services. The idea of sarcastic slacker distance was—well, not gone, but not adequate: He was at once a distanced sarcastic slacker, from that hinge generation between boomers and Gen X (who got arguably the worst shake of anyone, at least until the next hinge, between Gen X and millennials) and a man who loved music unconditionally. First, there was AMC’s 2004 reunion album, Love Songs for Patriots, and especially its core track, “Patriot’s Heart,” which remains one of the most unforgettable political songs of the Bush era. Ferryman (on the venerable North Carolina label Merge), is the fullest realization yet of the mature power Eitzel has been accumulating for more than a decade. It’s about playing a show to a nearly empty room, on “that kind of night/ when no one’s buying,” an experience Eitzel has endured more often than most artists who can claim his critical plaudits and industry dalliances. Like the middle- and later-era Cohen, Eitzel today might be described as purgatory’s lounge singer: He is a touch louche, an unreliable narrator, but one striving to expiate both his own sins and those of his listeners, with nothing but the meager (if not exactly humble) tools of his verbal facility and his immersion in the sacred rites of song. The scenario of “The Last Ten Years” is Cohenesque in its secular-spiritual mix, in the vein of The Future’s “Closing Time”: It’s addressed to a “Mr. However, out of ambition and uncertainty, the band also made a lot of detours and feints at overproduced alt-rockitude. But Eitzel is a more thoroughgoing unbeliever, from a more skeptical age, especially as an AIDS-era gay artist who spent a fair slice of his career half in and half out of the closet. The third song, “The Road,” finds him making a kind of peace at last with his own vocation. In fact it was a shambling, jazzy ensemble, with some superb musicians. In the first moments of Hey Mr. He’s covered songs by the Carpenters, Barbra Streisand, and Phil Ochs. His faith that there must be some greater meaning was checked by a constant, droll acknowledgment that, like most of us, he was nowhere near up to finding it. I never zeroed in, despite the urging of some friends whose tastes I must have thought too West Coast or somehow too precious for me. But within the limits of Eitzel’s solipsistic aesthetics, Hey Mr. The lyrics now sound like reportage more than prophecy: “Things are going to slide, slide in all directions/ Won’t be nothing, nothing you can measure anymore.” Much more than political diagnosis, though, I miss the unanswerable yearning that Cohen brought to his music. Nonetheless, stepping to the mic for the thousandth time, Eitzel summons every ounce of his crooning potency and nudges into the territory of Cohen’s “Tower of Song”:
In the song, everything’s clear. If you, too, have been feeling abandoned since Cohen’s death in November, allow me to introduce you to a singer-songwriter who can step into a part of that void, though his style is a couple of leaps and staggers removed. But there was still something about Eitzel I didn’t quite trust yet. The song concludes:
All I can do is follow stupidly behind And watch you walk to the ocean in your mind, And there’s always more, more ties you could sever, And nothing changes, nothing changes, while nothing changes … Not ever. My next encounter was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at Merge Records’ 20th-anniversary festival in 2009, where I saw Eitzel perform for the first time. government and all its victims—it ends on a compassionate note for the sex worker, who “does it for the money, but he gives more than he’s given,” but much less so for the buyers who “all want a patriot’s heart” (among whom Eitzel includes both himself and the listener). Moreover, save for a few peaks (such as AMC’s 1991 and 1993 albums, Everclear and Mercury), the material wasn’t always solid. The stripper is at once the U.S. Humphries in Room 5/ Because he gets grumpy trying to keep hope alive.” Mr. An Army brat, Eitzel grew up in England, Japan, and Columbus, Ohio, before, pivotally, relocating to San Francisco, where he formed the mid-1980s–to–early-1990s cult band American Music Club, or AMC. producer-arranger Bernard Butler has brought to “The Last Ten Years.” Butler is best known as the guitarist from Suede, and he’s collaborated with Eitzel here for the first time, from a London studio. And for the song, there’s always more Than you have, there’s always more, And you know there’s no end, There’s no end to the road. Ferryman is as thoughtfully engaged as it gets. 30), the same age Cohen was when The Future came out. He turns 58 this week (Jan. Then there was his chronic bent for self-sabotage, which turned with quick, hypersensitive bitterness against band members, business partners, and live audiences alike. Humphries from the British sitcom Are You Being Served? The tone on Hey Mr. For years, Eitzel’s most frequent descriptor for his characters was “lost.” Later, he came to rely on an image out of post-Holocaust writer Primo Levi, of the gulf between “the drowned” and “the saved”—though it was never obvious in which group he counted himself. With the help of some longer-standing Eitzel-fan friends, I’ve compiled this top 40 from what’s available on Spotify, which required drawing on the 1991 Eitzel solo live album Songs of Love for versions of many 1980s AMC classics, such as “Outside This Bar,” which also gives you a taste of his early, riled-up, Springsteenish style.
Bee says that TBS, the network that airs Full Frontal, will probably also broadcast her “alternative” correspondents’ dinner “in some form,” although neither a network nor lineup has yet been officially announced. Donald Trump, who notoriously sat stone-faced when he was lampooned by Seth Meyers at the 2011 dinner, isn’t much of a fan of the media, or criticism, or freedom, or humor, so it’s anybody’s guess how this year’s dinner will go on April 29, or whether he’ll even attend. Proceeds from the evening will go toward the Committee to Protect Journalists. “We just want to be there in case something happens—or doesn’t happen—and ensure that we get to properly roast the president.”
That’s not to say that the comedians who host the WHCD are always chummy with the guests. In 2006, Stephen Colbert famously spent half an hour roasting the Bush administration and a mostly unamused crowd of journalists for, among other things, their lack of skepticism about the president’s claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner is traditionally a chance for the press and the president of the United States to make fun of themselves and each other. On the night of the official White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Bee will host her own “alternative gala,” appropriately called “Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” at the Willard Hotel. But Trump’s unusually thin skin and penchant for Twitter rants could make for a very tense evening, unless the Association gets, say, Jimmy Fallon. But one person who definitely won’t be there is Samantha Bee, who has already made other plans. “We’re not trying to supersede it,” said Bee of the official dinner thrown by the White House Correspondents’ Association. Bee told the New York Times that the idea for the event, which will feature like-minded comedians mocking the commander-in-chief, stemmed from a conversation with her producers on her TBS show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
Whether he can build on Finch’s original performance to create something distinct remains to be seen. But with Cranston on-board and the adaptation unfortunately well-timed, this Network will almost certainly be one to watch. Outlets ranging from Newsweek to the Ringer to Inverse argued that the film “predicted” the election’s result, while others saw Trump as channeling Peter Finch’s iconic performance as Howard Beale—and particularly that famous line, “We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take this anymore!”
Perhaps capitalizing on Network’s renewed place in the zeitgeist, the National Theater in London has announced a new stage adaptation of the film, which will premiere in November. The media circus surrounding the rise of President Donald Trump at times seemed like a natural extension of Network, Sidney Lumet’s satirical classic from 1976. Paddy Chayefsky’s Oscar-winning screenplay is being adapted by Billy Elliot scribe Lee Hall, while globally lauded theater director Ivo van Hove is confirmed to helm the production. Cranston, of course, is no stranger to this kind of repressed, raging, increasingly unhinged character—setting aside Breaking Bad for a moment, the actor even does a pretty good Trump impression. Here’s to hoping it lands stateside before too long. But most inspired is the theater’s casting choice to reimagine Howard Beale: Bryan Cranston.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’d better listen closely: According to the author of Episode VIII, the song is canon now. The Mountain Goats’ singer-songwriter John Darnielle has spent years trying to convince Star Wars: Episode VIII writer-director Rian Johnson that the perfect subtitle for the new trilogy’s second installment would be “The Ultimate Jedi Who Wastes All the Other Jedi and Eats Their Bones.” And while we now know that Darnielle has sadly fallen short of his goal, he’s done the next best thing and, at Johnson’s encouragement, whipped up a song to fit his preferred title. Given that Darnielle isn’t working with any more information than the rest of us, “The Ultimate Jedi…” doesn’t have much to offer in the way of plot revelations, but it does have some handy information on the calcium content of Jedi bones, along with a bonus name-check for both Johnson and his high-res cameras.
The best running gag of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s second season by far has been the promise of “Period Sex,” the song that is instantly cut off every time someone so much as hums a few bars:
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend producer Aline Brosh McKenna had previously warned that though the show has been teasing the ditty all season, they couldn’t really debut it on the CW because it’s “actually one of the filthiest things ever.” But that hasn’t stopped Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star and creator Rachel Bloom from finally releasing the full music video for “Period Sex” online, where fans can bask in all of its messy glory. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has always embraced the not-so-sexy aspects of sex—after all, this is the same show that has also memorialized urinary tract infections and the risks of STDs in song. “Period sex, period sex/ It’s a little gross but I’m less/ Likely to get pregnant during/ Period sex, period sex.” But with lyrics like “it must be summer ‘cause we’re gonna slip and slide,” “Period Sex,” a celebration of just that, might just be the most deliciously crude tune Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has ever put out. And it’s educational, too!
After a weekend of protests around the country, President Donald Trump’s horrific, unconstitutional immigration ban continues to meet intense pushback. And during Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, artists ranging from Julia Louis-Dreyfus to Mahershala Ali to the cast of Stranger Things powerfully railed against the president’s recent actions before a national audience. The American Civil Liberties Union, which successfully fought for a court-ordered stay on part of the Executive Order on Friday night, netted $24 million in donations over the past few days, more than six times its yearly average. “We are better than the hateful people who tell us we don’t belong in our own country, that America can’t be a beacon of freedom and hope for refugees from around the world,” Penn’s Crowdrise post reads. The actor, who briefly served in the Obama Administration and currently stars in Designated Survivor, turned nasty harassment from an online troll—specifically, “you don’t belong in this country you fucking joke”—into an effective crowdfunding campaign on behalf of the International Rescue Committee. “We will turn their bigotry, along with the President’s, into love.” As of 9:00am on Monday, Penn has raised over $518,000 and is showing no signs of slowing down. The resistance also welcomed another familiar face: Kal Penn.
Fortunately for wonder-starved grownups, Amazon has just debuted the English-language version of Ronja the Robber’s Daughter, the first television series from world-class Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli. And it’s not just the young at heart who have taken notice: Take a look at Peabody Award winners of the last few years and you’ll see an uptick in the recognition children’s programing: Scottish delight Katie Morag, Disney’s revolutionary Doc McStuffins, and Pakistani superhero cartoon Burka Avenger have been among the recent honorees. Perhaps, like me, you will find yourself singing along to its empowering mantra in the dark of your bedroom late at night after a trying day: “We’re not too big!/ And we’re not too tough!/ But when we work together/ We’ve got the right stuff!”
Amazon has emerged as a leader in a crowded field of online streaming platforms rising to compete with network, cable, and public broadcasting stalwarts that have held a stronghold over kids’ TV for decades. I am 28 years old, I have no children, and my favorite TV comedy of 2016 was Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse. Ronja transports us into an immersive, sunbathed world whose rhythms are defined by its protagonist’s discoveries, both jubilant and frightening. I know I am not the only person who retreats to children’s television as both an intermezzo to intense adult programming and a meditative exercise during periods of stress. (Think Transformers, Strawberry Shortcake, et al.) The Children’s Television Act of 1990 cleared the way for more educational programming on network and cable, but online streaming is still the Wild West, a new frontier for toy manufacturers to spread their brands. And most significantly, we can do so in private, on our computer screens, without the judgment of our peers. Even so, the technological innovations and progress of educational research-based television series have led to an artistic renaissance in these toyetic programs. Expectations are higher than they were in the ’80s, and there’s more competition than ever, so these programs are upping their game accordingly. (Just ask your average Brony or Whovian.) But the mechanisms behind this trend seem to go beyond a few friends sharing a joint and watching Animaniacs, The Powerpuff Girls, or reruns of H.R. In the last year, I’ve heard friends and acquaintances rattle off their favorite kids’ programming, Steven Universe, Adventure Time, and Gravity Falls among the most popular choices, and I’ve seen enough Tumblr pages and Arthur memes to sense that we’re not the only adults partaking in nostalgia and joy. Pufnstuf in their dorm rooms back in the 1990s. It is as feminist, pacifist, and environmentalist as any of Studio Ghibli’s earlier works, weaving a message of tranquility into its soothing artistry. Shows like Netflix’s Ever After High (based on the Mattel doll series), Amazon’s WellieWishers (based on the American Girl toy brand), and YouTube’s DC Super Hero Girls employ striking animation, engaging writing, and girl-power feminism to tell their stories. It’s that sometimes, even as an adult, I still need my entertainment delivered in optically bright, narrively buoyant fun-sized portions. For adult viewers longing for small slices of gonzo absurdity, dazzling visuals, anxiety-lulling repose, or just plain goofiness, children’s television is a deep well from which to draw. In the end, love trumps hate. Children’s TV is glorious escapism for adults, but it’s also a reminder of human basics: goodness, empathy, patience, and caring for ourselves and others. (Compare her to the similarly brave Moana, who isn’t permitted a single moment of selfishness in the entirety of her otherwise gorgeous film.) What truly sets Ronja apart from Western-style children’s series, however, is that it doesn’t depend on conflict as the engine of its narrative: Instead, Miyazaki structures the story around “experience” in the style of kishotenketsu, an Eastern storytelling device that relies on a slow burn of exposition and contrast to incrementally build toward a twist and a resolution. In the rich tradition of his father’s oeuvre, from My Neighbor Totoro to Spirited Away, the younger Miyazaki’s Ronja is a classic coming-of-age story about a curious young girl who learns to adapt to a wild, magical environment. A dose of cute, a sprinkling of weird, a glimpse of the remarkable: With the worries of the world growing heavier every day, sometimes you just want to sit back and watch a little girl soar through the air. Their friendship, and their subsequent journey into the forest, craters the girl’s bond with her blustering father. From the Zen charm of Sarah and Duck to the pep of Peg + Cat¸ these shows often provide lessons in resilience. We are now seeing major growth in toy-based television series that harkens back to the unregulated 1980s, when half-hour toy commercials dominated the airwaves. But peer closely and you will notice the telltale green and blue watercolors of the intricately drawn woodland landscapes. In an age when the Sturm und Drang of the current political nightmare threatens to pull us deeper into the muck—and Peak TV’s visceral dramas and mopey auteur comedies only hasten the sinking feeling—children’s TV can do more than cleanse the cultural palate. The 26-episode series, set in medieval Scandinavia, follows the birth and childhood of mop-headed Ronja (voiced by Teresa Gallagher), the beloved daughter of a robber chieftain whose loyal band of misfits stalk the local woods for wealthy travelers. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki’s accomplished son Goro (From Up on Poppy Hill, Tales from Earthsea), and with a new English-language dub featuring Gillian Anderson as the narrator, Ronja is an emotionally stirring and visually sumptuous adaptation of the 1981 novel by Astrid Lindgren, best known for the Pippi Longstocking series. (Think of her as a gentle Arya Stark who happened to be born into an adorable Iron Islands tribe.) They live on a craggy, secluded keep at the edge of a cliff until the fateful day a rival bandit clan takes refuge nearby and Ronja meets Birk, the son of her father’s enemy. With near-boundless digital access at our fingertips, American millennials who grew up during the era of Clintonian stability can take a reprieve from the current grief-focused state of television to enjoy the simplicity of their childhoods, either by viewing the classics or enjoying newer programs with matured eyes. Ronja is just one of many delightful choices available on Amazon, which produces and licenses a range of short-form children’s programs, from its Emmy-winning in-house Tumble Leaf, a serene and mesmerizing stop-motion series intended to spur young scientists, to the Nickelodeon-produced Wonder Pets, an infectious singspiel operetta about a trio of classroom pets who save baby animals in distress. The computer animated cel shading creates a fluid, semi-photorealistic look that at first makes the world seem less delicate than its hand-painted cinematic forbears. There there are times when it seems like not a lot happens, but it’s satisfying enough to see a child frolic, swim, jump, or fly. Ronja is a magnificent protagonist: Stubborn, tempestuous, independent, and openhearted, she is also miraculously allowed to be, at times, just plain wrong. In the wake of the inauguration and the global women’s marches, Ronja acts as an antidote to despair in which a young, independent female stands her ground and triumphs over her father’s bullying and egomania. It’s not just that this Mattel-produced web series is a flawlessly constructed reality television satire, or that its jokes ping with surprising sophistication, or even that the storylines intermittently approach Kubrickian heights of technological dystopia. It has the power to ignite joy and revitalize hope.
The attacks continued for years. Trump also used Nielsen to hype golf courses he loves, and to denigrate those he doesn’t. Many. And while Trump’s Obama attacks over the years were mostly aimed at his character or policies, the man who would eventually replace Obama in the White House paid attention to his nemesis’ Nielsen numbers, too. The tweets sent a clear signal Trump has no plans to let his new job get in the way of what, over the years, has proven to be one of his favorite hobbies: amateur ratings analyst. (Fact check: The NFL did great in 2014.) You don’t think the fact Trump was upset he lost his bid to buy the Buffalo Bills had anything to do with his tweets, do you? On the one hand, that turned out to be true: Despite helping ratings surge repeatedly during the 2016 campaign, Trump ultimately drew just 46 percent of the popular vote, barely edging out infamous electoral loser—and, probably, ratings dud—Michael Dukakis’ 1988 tally. Trump has been in the White House for a week now, and to the delight of his die-hard fan base, he shows no sign of letting his new gig change him. Back in 2010, he was actually telling the truth when he said the show was doing well. Instead, based on our search, it appears another O’Donnell—MSNBC’s Lawrence—may have been the first TV type to get bashed for allegedly being a Nielsen laggard. One such incident took place in 2014, when a fan urged Trump to run for president because his doing so would produce … yup, good ratings. “Maybe it’s subconscious. Replied our future leader: “Ratings asshole.”
See also: Celebrity Apprentice Is Yet Another Part of Our Larger Landscape of Weirdness No wonder then, midway through that bumpy 2013 season, Trump suddenly turned nostalgic … Finally, Trump loves ratings tweets so much, he’s been known over the years to quote other Twitter users willing to sing the praises of his Nielsen might. (Fact check: The 2013 inauguration ratings weren’t a record low—at all. elections, like the TV business, are all about winning the key demographics—in Trump’s case, the Electoral College. He’s still playing all the hits: “Build the Wall,” “The Vote Is Rigged,“ “Mine Is Bigger Than Yours.” Best of all—at least for those of us who closely follow the TV industry—President Trump maintained his obsession with television ratings. Early Sunday morning, POTUS woke up and shared the good news about the big audience for his Friday swearing-in: “Wow, television ratings just out,” Trump tweeted, clearly thrilled to be talking about his beloved Nielsens. But as the New York Times’ James Poniewozik noted recently, U.S. You can get him sing your Nielsen praises. Trump mainly uses ratings as a way to attack his enemies. Not surprisingly, it seems as if the first time Trump talked about ratings—for himself or anyone else— it was to tout the numbers for Celebrity Apprentice. Maybe it’s will over matter.”
Long after the infamous White House Correspondents Dinner in which President Obama and Seth Meyers teamed up to ding the Donald, Trump was still nursing a grudge and used Twitter to attack Meyers—not on his actual ratings, but on his Nielsen potential. Really. Like that time he talked up NBC’s The Blacklist as a “smash”…
…or sent love to Tiger Woods and ABC’s Diane Sawyer out of the blue:
He’s been known to both bash and praise within one ratings tweet, like this one from 2012:
But those are exceptions. So. The only problem? All it takes is to invite him on as a guest, or just be nice to him. While Trump is best known for pointing out his own good ratings and belittling his enemies for their bad ratings, there’s a lesser-known side of the tweeter-in-chief. And when a fellow TV personality is involved, his favorite bludgeon has, of course, been ratings. Former Apprentice host turned president of the United States Donald J. Eventually, though, Trump’s Apprentice ratings tweets turned into propaganda. for his old ratings. Obama drew nearly 5 million more viewers than George W. Trump’s first debate appearance in August 2015 smashed all previous records. While Rosie O’Donnell has the “honor” of being Trump’s most famous verbal bullying victim—at least before he announced his run for the White House— Twitter wasn’t a thing when their spat began in 2006, and their battle wasn’t all that active when POTUS first began tweeting in 2009. (Shocker!) In May 2012, as his show notched its lowest-rated finale to date, he created his own Nielsen report:
A year later, in 2013, Trump couldn’t stop tweeting about how well his show was doing. And while he obviously has had plenty to say about his own ratings, a deep dive into Trump’s Twitter timeline shows he’s just as obsessed with OPP (other people’s performance … Bush’s 2005 sophomore swearing-in.)
Somewhat underappreciated is Trump’s role as a critic of professional sports. Enemies. Like TV shows:
And the Oscars…
and, of course, people who host TV shows:
But Trump isn’t always a ratings scold. Celebrity Apprentice was having an awful year, with numbers down over the previous season and the season finale plunging nearly 25 percent versus a year earlier. Indeed, long before he started tweeting about public opinion polls, inaugural crowd sizes or “stolen” vote tallies, Trump established himself as one of Twitter’s most prolific interpreters of Nielsen data. Not that it took long for Trump to play the ratings card with Rosie O’Donnell, too:
He even found a way to attack both O’Donnells with a very weird (even for Trump) video rant in which he bashed both personalities for their awful numbers, and speculated it was because he, Trump, didn’t approve of them. This article originally appeared in Vulture. Our president’s obsession with ratings has ultimately served him well. Every once in a while, he’s been known to randomly praise someone for being a Nielsen magnet. Two days later, he gave a shout-out to his friends at Fox News (sending congrats “for being number one in inauguration ratings”) for beating his mortal enemy (“FAKE NEWS @CNN”). Turns out @petewaite976 was quite the prophet. If there’s a golden rule for Trump, it’s probably summed up best by his response to a WWE fan wondering why Trump was appearing at an event. POTUS, it turns out, is a genuine Nielsen nerd. You’ll have your best ratings ever. “When I don’t like somebody, their shows do really badly,” the future president argued. in the Nielsens), both positive and negative. And yes, ironically, Trump once belittled Obama for his inauguration ratings. If you’re a hater or a loser, you also have really bad Nielsen numbers. Beyond creating his own alternative ratings facts, Trump’s use of Twitter to launch personal attacks on people he doesn’t like or whom he feels have done him wrong are the stuff of legend. At the time, many experts scoffed at the idea that Nielsen strength would necessarily result in electoral triumph. In 2014, he was very upset with the quality of play in the NFL, and made sure to blame it on the league’s supposedly bad numbers.
Since it is impossible to listen to what David Harbour is saying while Ryder is rolling her eyes next to him, here’s the complete text of Harbour’s speech. Second, and most importantly, there’s this:
Winona Ryder, Harbour’s Stranger Things co-star, effortlessly stole the show—not that easy when you’re next to a red-faced David Harbour yelling at the top of his lungs—looking by turns skeptical, shocked, confused, very skeptical, riled up, and very, very skeptical. And when we are at a loss against the hypocrisy and casual violence of certain individuals and institutions, we will, as per Chief Jim Hopper, punch some people in the face when they seek to destroy the weak and the disenfranchised and the marginalized. And we will do it all with soul, with heart, and with joy! We thank you for this responsibility. Thank you. There are acceptance speeches and there are acceptance speeches, and David Harbour gave one of the latter Sunday night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. First, Harbour’s delivery slowly built to a frenzy, getting louder and louder until he was yelling every word over the applause of the assembled actors. Harbour plays Chief Jim Hopper on Netflix’s 1980s retro-fest Stranger Things, which won the award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series; as fate would have it, he was the first from the show’s large cast to make it to the microphone. It seems like she was either not expecting Harbour to speak or not expecting him to give the speech he gave, and rose to the challenge the only way she knew how: acting. I’m supposed to start talking—I’m sorry, I’m sick. On behalf of this fearless and talented cast, we would like to thank—oh, it’s so heavy!—we’d like to thank Netflix, Sean, Matt, Ross and the amazing casting director Carmen Cuba. And I would like to say that in light of all that’s going on in the world today, it’s difficult to celebrate the already celebrated
Stranger Things. But this award from you, who take your craft seriously and earnestly believe, like me, that great acting can change the world, is call to arms from our fellow craftsmen and women to go deeper, and through our art to battle against the fear, self-centeredness, and exclusivity of our predominantly narcissistic culture. And through our craft, to cultivate a more empathetic and understanding society by revealing intimate truths that serve as a forceful reminder to folks that when they feel broken and afraid and tired, they are not alone. What happened next doesn’t seem that remarkable in a transcript. The last half should be read at top volume:
Oh, my god. Wow. This is unreal. This is unreal. Harbour delivered a good example of the “awards speech in a time of crisis” genre: acknowledging that entertainment didn’t seem important right now before pivoting back to describing art—and specifically Stranger Things—as a machine that generates empathy, in Roger Ebert’s memorable phrase. We are united in that we are all human beings and we are all together on this horrible, painful, joyous, exciting and mysterious ride that is being alive. Now, as we act in the continuing narrative of
Stranger Things, we 1983 Midwesterners will repel bullies. We will shelter freaks and outcasts, those who have no home. We will get past the lies. We will hunt monsters! Two things made it different.
I’m the winner, the winner is me, landslide. It was inevitable that Sunday night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards would include tons of acceptance speeches about the rolling catastrophe of Trump’s immigration ban, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus at least started things off on a funny note. After winning the first award of the night for her role in Veep, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series, Dreyfus wasted no time taking aim at Trump:
I look out on the million or even a million-and-a-half people in this room, and I say this award is legitimate, and I won! No one does narcissism like Julia Louis-Dreyfus (well, almost no one), and Dreyfus had the crowd in stitches before striking a more serious tone, sharing her family’s personal history and speaking out against the ban:
I want you all to know that I am the daughter of an immigrant. Backstage, when she was asked about her decision to focus on Trump, Dreyfus said, “There were a million people I forgot to thank, but I’m in a different place tonight.” In short, this was about as close to the platonic ideal of a political acceptance speech an entertainer could give: funny, personal, and short. And because I love this country I am horrified by its blemishes. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France. And this immigrant ban is a blemish and it is un-American. Dreyfus went on to read from a statement released by the Writers’ Guild of America, West on Sunday, condemning Trump’s ban. And I am an American patriot, and I love this country.