Source: BBC News - Entertainment & Arts | 26 Jan 2023 | 4:36 pm
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The third episode of Poker Face, “The Stall,” may feel awfully familiar.
The title refers to the process of barbecuing meat at low temperatures for long periods of time, during which “a kind of alchemy takes place,” according to George Boyle (Larry Brown). George owns and operates Boyles’ Barbecue, a popular family-run joint in Texas, with his brother, Taffy (Lil Rel Howery). That is, until George has a sudden change of heart after watching the film Okja, decides to become vegan, and asks to be bought out of the family business. That doesn’t sit too well with Taffy, who is mired in dire financial straits. So he follows the only logical course of action: murder his brother.
The plot smacks of another murder mystery episode: Columbo’s “Any Old Port in a Storm.” This time, Adrian (Donald Pleasence) and his half-brother, Rick (Gary Conway), share a family winery, and Adrian is about to be named Wine Society’s Man of the Year—until Rick announces that he wants to sell the land to mass-market wine producers. And Adrian decides, of course, to kill him. (Don’t worry, these aren’t spoilers. Both shows are inverted mysteries, or “howcatchems” rather than “whodunits.” The beginning reveals the murder and the perpetrator, and the suspense lies in how the detective will crack the case.)
Even the murder methods are similar: George and Rick are both knocked out, then suffocated in grisly ways. Undoubtedly, Columbo’s fingerprints are all over Poker Face—creator Rian Johnson, the director behind Glass Onion and Knives Out, has cited “Any Old Port in a Storm” as one of his favorite episodes of past detective programs.
“It gets to the heart of what I think the actual appeal of Columbo is, which is that it’s stealthily a hangout show with Peter Falk,” Johnson told the New York Times about the episode. “You’re tuning in to see Columbo and the guest star interact with each other and hang out.”
Peter Falk played the iconic blue-collar homicide detective Columbo for 10 seasons, between 1968 and 2003. (The original NBC installment aired between 1968 and 1978.) In Poker Face, Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll, Orange Is the New Black) plays Charlie Cale, a former casino worker with a knack for spotting lies who also solves “case-of-the-week” mysteries. (Like Columbo, the show features a roster of guest stars, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Stephanie Hsu, Hong Chau, Dascha Polanco, and Chloë Sevigny.)
Columbo and Charlie have a lot in common: unpolished and unassuming, they downplay their intelligence and ability as they close in on the suspect. They pay close attention and catch lies quickly, then work backward to deduce the how and why. Johnson sees Lyonne as a kind of “modern-day Peter Falk,” he told Rolling Stone: “A strong enough personality to be the center of a show that isn’t one long story.”
But differences abound, too, and Johnson has pointed to a whole host of older shows and characters—including Quantum Leap, Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck) in Magnum P.I., and Jim Rockford (James Garner) in The Rockford Files—as Poker Face inspirations. These are the shows that raised Johnson, and for which he and Lyonne share a mutual love.
“There’s a whole bunch of shows from that era that are just the idea, really, of a case-of-the week puzzle box,” Lyonne told TIME. “It’s such an iconic character that we’ve seen permutations on that idea for, I don’t know, probably seven decades now, whether it’s Humphrey Bogart or Elliott Gould or Jack Nicholson, and so many others—or Peter Falk.”
Falk’s Columbo was, as Columbo co-creator William Link put it, “a regular Joe.” Columbo is a true everyman: audiences can identify with him, and they like that. Christyne Berzsenyi, the author of Columbo: A Rhetoric of Inquiry with Resistant Responders, has noted that Link denied the show was making an intentional class commentary.
But in Link’s book with Columbo’s other co-creator, Richard Levison, “they talk about how they wanted the everyman, working-class cop going into these contrastive environments; the super wealthy,” Berzsenyi says. “And then he even plays it up more, that he’s kind of folksy and not particularly educated or cultured.”
In Columbo, the suspect and killer—and those surrounding them—are usually upper-class, wealthy, and powerful. Think: a vineyard owner, a famous author, a conductor. Poker Face differs slightly. The murderers in each episode aren’t always wealthy, but they do tend to hold power in some way: a beloved radio show host, retired but famous actors, band members whose hit song everyone knows.
Mathieu Lilian, the author of Columbo: Class Struggle on TV Tonight, says that Columbo “reminds us that all societies are divided in classes, and that there are inequalities between those classes. And it is political, such an idea.”
While Columbo is the type of guy you might sit down and have a cup of coffee with, Lyonne’s Charlie is more likely to crack open a Coors Light with you. Slightly more frayed around the edges, Charlie is on the lam from the law (and a casino magnate), whereas Columbo is a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department.
“Columbo is a police officer, but he is challenging authorities: political, economic control,” Lilian says. “For the TV viewers, people who liked the series, it’s joyful to see such arrogant authorities being challenged.”
Columbo does elicit joy in its viewers, who keep coming back to it 50 years later—perhaps because it feels good to see justice served. Poker Face, on the other hand, achieves a sense of justice in each episode outside of the legal system—something contemporary viewers may find appealing, since it veers from traditional storytelling’s reliance on the carceral system. Either way, both shows leave audiences with a sense of goodwill.
“Genre stories like the crime and detection, the comedy, the historical piece, science fiction, all of these genres, they have certain things that are formulaic about them, and that brings a kind of predictability,” Berzsenyi says. “Or you know what to expect. And you keep going back to something that gives viewers pleasure.”
In Berzsenyi’s studies, she’s come across others—physicians, financiers, preachers—who use the “Columbo method” with their patients, clients, or congregants. They ask a lot of questions, pay very close attention, and then watch for details and inconsistencies. David Martin-Jones, who wrote Columbo: Paying Attention 24/7, says that Columbo taught us how to live in a way that anticipated the modern 24/7 attention economy.
“Consider how Columbo spends hours and hours going over security footage to find the one clue which will catch the murderer,” Martin-Jones wrote in an email. “This intensity of attentive labor anticipated our lives now, paying attention to screens for so much of our working and private lives.”
In Poker Face, though—a great homage to Columbo and shows like it—Charlie is forced to go off the grid, leaving her phone behind. For as much as this new show has to say about its predecessors, it’s still creating a new world entirely its own.
—Judy Berman contributed reporting
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 26 Jan 2023 | 2:31 pm
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If you know anything about Natasha Lyonne, Rian Johnson, and 1970s television, then you’ll immediately understand why Peacock’s Poker Face, which casts the singular performer in a Columbo-style, case-of-the-week detective show created by the Knives Out and Glass Onion filmmaker, is among the most anticipated TV series debuts of the year. (For those who are fuzzy on any of the above, suffice to say that the tough-talking Lyonne was born to play this role—which also very believably endows her character with an infallible B.S. detector—and mystery-box master Johnson was born to write it). But how does a project this perfect come about? Like so many other highlights of Lyonne’s recent career, from her collaboration with Amy Poehler on the Netflix hit Russian Doll to Animal, the production company she co-founded with Maya Rudolph, Poker Face, whose 10-episode season premieres on Jan. 26, grew organically out of a friendship.
The collaborators met through Johnson’s wife, Karina Longworth, the film critic and You Must Remember This podcaster, whose work Lyonne had long admired. At a reading for one of Longworth’s books, Lyonne recalls, “Rian and I were on the sofa while she signed books, riffing on how fun this [project] would be, and our shared love of mysteries.” A subsequent series of “funny dinners” where creator and star casually hashed out ideas culminated in Johnson sending her a script. “It was one of the best things I’d ever read,” she says. “I was so moved.”
Stories like this one suggest that working side-by-side with like-minded pals has done more than catalyze a career renaissance that’s been going strong since she joined the cast of Orange Is the New Black a decade ago; it has also made Lyonne, whose struggle with addiction as a young adult in the mid-aughts fueled nasty tabloid headlines, a more satisfied person. “I’m someone who thrives on collaboration,” she explains. “You get out of the competition business and into the inspiration business, which is obviously a more buoyant place to exist. Ultimately, the resource [in creative work] is ideas, and the greater the amount of collaborators, the more infinite that resource becomes.”
Speaking by phone from Los Angeles, where she’d presented an award at the Golden Globes the previous evening, Lyonne discussed Poker Face, creating characters who subvert leading-lady tropes, and why she’s happier in her 40s than she’s ever been before. Here are edited excerpts of that conversation.
TIME: What appealed to you and Johnson about the sort of rumpled, seen-it-all protagonist that Peter Falk played in Columbo?
Lyonne: We have a shared love for [Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective] Philip Marlowe. It’s such an iconic character type that we’ve seen permutations of it for, probably, seven decades now, whether it’s Humphrey Bogart or Elliott Gould or Jack Nicholson.
The women you play in Poker Face, Russian Doll, and many other project have a rugged, idiosyncratic independence that’s still largely reserved for male leads. Have you always been drawn to more traditionally masculine archetypes?
I’m very self-taught. I dropped out of the filmmaking program at NYU when I was 16 and decided to just watch a bunch of movies at Film Forum and read every book on filmmaking I could get my hands on. And as much as I love Bette Davis and Mae West and Gena Rowlands, I often found myself identifying with the Peter Falks and the Joe Pescis and the Jimmy Cagneys–all the boys. Certainly, by the time I was writing Russian Doll, I saw a character who was the perfect mix of feminine and masculine.
Do you think that androgynous quality liberates your characters from the typical story lines we see female protagonists saddled with, like the romance plot?
For sure. You get to circumnavigate all the traditional, overused tropes surrounding how we think of female characters. Especially when they’re the central character, it seems that they’re defined by an outer life. I remember, as a teenager, seeing Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now looking up at the ceiling fan while the Doors’ “The End” was playing. It’s so fascinating to watch a human being in process, ruminating, that we trust that to hold an audience’s attention. So whenever I have a measure of say-so in a character’s creation, I try to see to it that they’re able to have their inner beat be the thing leading them around by the nose, rather than society’s expectation of what a life should look like.
2022 was a rough year for streaming. As a creator and star of smart, offbeat TV shows, does that worry you?
The landscape is always changing, in terms of what is or isn’t getting made. And the hope is always that you can sneak things through. It’s never been easy to get original things made. We always need a champion to fight for it.
Animal works with a lot of emerging artists, like Sammi Cohen, who directed Hulu’s queer teen rom-com Crush. As someone who’s had a lifelong career in Hollywood, is it rewarding to shepherd newer creators through the industry?
I love that I get to help raise up so many brilliant young women. I love young people, just in general. But I also love growing up–I wouldn’t go back in time for anything. I can’t tell you that I’m a 100% happy person, but I’ve never been happier in my whole life. And it’s been hard-won.
Are you surprised that you feel as fulfilled as you do, at age 43?
The only surprise is how false the bill of goods is that we’re sold as young women. We’re supposed to be terrified of anything after 17 or 21. So it’s a revelation to discover what a lie that was. The truth of the matter is, it’s way better over here. I’m sure any woman in her 40s is gonna tell you, that’s when it all starts clicking, because you get to let go of so much concern about what other people think, and you get to focus on what you care about. And, of course, life being that funny karmic beast that it is, as soon as you let go of certain things, those are the very same things that come to you.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 26 Jan 2023 | 7:01 am
Source: BBC News - Entertainment & Arts | 26 Jan 2023 | 4:31 am
Source: BBC News - Entertainment & Arts | 26 Jan 2023 | 1:29 am
CANBERRA, Australia — A senior Australian government minister said Wednesday that rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, could be refused a visa due to antisemitic comments if he attempts to visit Australia.
Education Minister Jason Clare was responding to media reports that the U.S. celebrity intends to visit the family of new Australian partner Bianca Censori in Melbourne next week.
Clare said he did not know if Ye had applied for a visa but that Australia has previously refused them to people with antisemitic views.
“I expect that if he does apply, he would have to go through the same process and answer the same questions” as others who’ve aired such views, Clare told Nine Network television.
Last month, Ye praised Hitler in an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Twitter later suspended Ye after he tweeted a picture of a swastika merged with the Star of David.
Australia’s Migration Act sets security and character requirements for non-citizens to enter the country. Any decision on whether Ye gets an Australian visa would be made by Immigration Minister Andrew Giles, whose office said he could not comment on individual cases due to privacy reasons.
Peter Wertheim, co-chief executive officer of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, met government officials on Tuesday to argue for an entry ban.
“We had a sympathetic hearing,” Wertheim said on Sky News. “We’ve made the case that this particular individual does not meet the character test and that it would be in the national interest not to grant him a visa and we set out our reasons in some detail.”
Opposition leader Peter Dutton said if he were in government, he would be inclined to bar Ye on character grounds.
“My inclination would be not to allow him in,” Dutton told Melbourne’s Radio 3AW on Tuesday.
“His antisemitic comments are disgraceful, his conduct and his behavior is appalling, and he’s not a person of good character,” Dutton added.
Ye and Censori intend to visit her family who live in the northeast Melbourne suburb of Ivanhoe next week, Seven Network News reported.
Ye and Censori recently married less than two months after he finalized his divorce from Kim Kardashian, entertainment news website TMZ reported two weeks ago.
The AP asked Ye’s representative whether he had married Censori and planned to visit Melbourne, but did not get an immediate response.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 26 Jan 2023 | 12:26 am
Source: BBC News - Entertainment & Arts | 25 Jan 2023 | 8:47 pm
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Last week, several influencers known for uploading makeup and lifestyle content began posting that they were heading to Dubai with Tarte Cosmetics for the launch of a new foundation product. They included TikTokers like Meredith Duxbury, a makeup influencer with over 16 million followers; Alix Earle, a relatively new influencer who recently gained popularity for her “get ready with me” content and has over 4 million followers; and Monet McMichael, a beauty and lifestyle blogger with over 2 million followers. As the creators started posting their travel vlogs on their way to Dubai, people began noticing they were sitting in business class. Once they got to their destination, they showed off their own personal villas at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah and a wealth of beauty products, clothes, and gifts that awaited them.
it’s been TOOO REAL 🏾💕 last day in the life #trippinwithtarte
Shortly into their trip, questions began to arise online. One of the first videos to call the trip into question was from a creator named Jack McGuire, which he uploaded last Thursday. In two separate videos, McGuire, who works for Barstool, attempted to poke holes in the trip’s feasibility. These videos and many others began circulating on the platform, gaining hundreds of thousands of views. Some followers on TikTok wondered how much money the extravagant trip cost the brand and whether Tarte paid the influencers in addition to travel, room, and board (its CEO later confirmed that they did not). Some took it upon themselves to “investigate” exactly how much money Tarte spent on the trip. Others shared their opinions about how the trip was “tone-deaf” as the United States is on the verge of a recession. All of the conversations, commentary, and questions surrounding this trip did exactly what the company set out to do: get people talking about their brand. The hashtag #TrippinWithTarte has over 140 million views, and #TarteDubaiTrip has over 20 million views.
Brand trips are not typically this widely discussed, especially back in the early days of YouTube. In fact, they were staples among the beauty and lifestyle vloggers who were invited by brands like Benefit to different destinations where they could create content while using the brand’s products. Even Tarte has done many similar brand trips in the past. But to social media users who were not deeply aware of the height of beauty and lifestyle YouTubers in the 2010s, these extravagant trips can feel off-putting and seemingly wasteful. For the brand, however, even the bad press may be paying off.
the amount of money that tarte is putting into this dubai trip is quite baffling fr 🤯 pic.twitter.com/S1NmhP1z9P
— big tek (@claireateku) January 20, 2023
The trip inspires strong reactions, followed by explanations
Brands have understood, long before the influencer age, that traditional advertising is not the only way to promote their products; now, it’s hard to find a major brand that hasn’t partnered with an influencer or celebrity whose social media following can translate into dollars when they hawk their wares.
In the case of the Tarte trip, the makeup brand invited a group of 50 influencers and their plus ones from eight different countries around the world to join them in Dubai for the launch of their foundation. But rather than sheer excitement, one of the predominant reactions to the resulting content inspired was shock at the overwhelming extravagance of the trip. Fueling these reactions were, naturally, a lot of unchecked assumptions.
Some creators jumped in to dispel those assumptions. One TikTok creator who says she used to manage influencer trips, @jill_justine, uploaded a video in which she explains that in her experience, “these types of trips are a lot more affordable than you think.” In the video, she says that trips she organized included destinations like the Bahamas, Grand Cayman Islands, and Jamaica, where guests would stay in places like the Ritz-Carlton and go on various local excursions. “Most of the time, all of those things were free because we were partnering with the hotels, with the event, with the experience, because all of them are getting exposure as well,” the creator says.
The brand also got exposure from the creators without having to pay them per post. Someone like Earle, who is estimated to charge anywhere between $40,000 to $70,000 per brand-sponsored post, uploaded 15 posts from her trip. Maureen Kelly, the founder and CEO of Tarte, spoke exclusively with Glossy and confirmed the brand did not pay the content creators in addition to the trip, nor did they have any requirements for posting. Some noted that the creators who went were not creating content solely with Tarte products, which has been customary for other brand trips in the past.
Kelly also spoke about the perceived controversy surrounding the trip and countered many of the rumors that loomed over the trip. She first explained that Tarte has long “prioritized their marketing budget into building relationships with influencers.” Although she declined to share the total amount spent on the trip, she confirmed the brand partnered with Sephora Middle East. Glossy writes that the rooms are “filled with gifts from other like-minded brands, many of which Tarte has now partnered with for years.” As for the flight, whose expense had become a focal point after McGuire estimated that it would cost upwards of $22,000 per ticket for each influencer and their plus one, she argued that these influencers were putting their lives on pause to get on a 14-hour flight, so they wanted to “make this as seamless and pleasant [an] experience for everyone.”
The evolving optics of the extravagant influencer trip
A common feeling among influencers’ critics is that they make too much money or are afforded opportunities by doing little to no work, deeming them unworthy of the perks they receive. On the surface, it seems like an easy job to be an influencer. But while it’s certainly not hard labor, there’s still plenty of work that goes into creating content—coming up with original ideas, filming, editing, brand deals, travel, and more. This Tarte trip to Dubai is yet another example of that feeling manifesting online.
There was also the question of the optics of the ostentatious trip. Kelly did not address criticism over tone-deafness during the interview. But the Tarte trip is hardly doing anything unique here when it comes to lavishness—beauty and lifestyle YouTubers like Emma Chamberlain have gone on brand trips with cosmetic or beauty brands in the past. Now, though, in the age of TikTok, and following an uptick in the app’s popularity during the pandemic, the concept is new to many users who did grow up watching these influencers. For years, it was expected that influencers would live a certain lifestyle and receive certain once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to make content out of them. But as that style of content creation has spilled over to TikTok, it’s facing more criticism with a more politically and socially aware Gen Z audience, prompting conversations and controversy.
In the end, though, even if the optics of trips like Tarte’s Dubai experience are becoming strained, the attention this trip received suggests that we’re not quite finished with them yet. Both the brand and the influencers got exactly what they wanted—for people to talk about them.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 25 Jan 2023 | 5:14 pm
Remember the name Emma Moran, for she has achieved what once seemed impossible: She’s created a superhero comedy that’s actually funny. The premise of her debut series, Extraordinary, is not revolutionary. Like Disney’s Encanto and, to a lesser extent, the recently canceled Peacock teen drama Vampire Academy, it’s set in an alternate reality where every young person, upon reaching a certain age, develops a superpower—except for the unfortunate protagonist. The failure-to-launch metaphor is so obvious, it even resonates with toddlers. What makes Moran’s show, well, extraordinary is the irreverent panache with which it’s executed.
Extraordinary, whose eight-episode season is now streaming in full on Hulu, follows the hapless Jen (Máiréad Tyers), a 25-year-old Irish girl living among Londoners who almost all received a supernatural enhancement sometime around their 18th birthdays. As she works an ironically depressing job at a party store and hooks up with people who don’t really care about her, Jen’s perceived deficiency constantly gnaws at her. Even a date with a guy who has the power to give anyone an orgasm simply by grazing their skin with his hand somehow winds up unsatisfying. (One thing that sets Extraordinary apart from Encanto is its enthusiastic raunchiness.)
Jen’s greatest source of comfort is her lifelong best friend and housemate, Carrie (Sofia Oxenham), a fledgling lawyer who can summon the dead. Spirits can even speak through her mouth, which comes in handy for clarifying contested wills. Carrie’s live-in boyfriend Kash (Bilal Hasna) is a slacker who can rewind time; his real life is essentially a VHS tape. He dreams of parlaying that ability into some ill-defined sort of vigilante group—but isn’t a team of do-gooder superheroes kind of redundant in a world where just about everybody is a superhero of sorts?
Moran uses the superpower conceit brilliantly. While the urban skies are dotted with people who can fly, and muggers capitalize on invisibility, humans remain as neurotic as ever. In the series’ opening scene, Jen answers a polite job-interview question—”How was your journey?”—with a deluge of TMI regarding tampons, masturbation, antidepressants, and her explosively anxious stomach. She has, unfortunately, encountered an HR rep who is the human embodiment of truth serum. Meanwhile, some people end up with gross or inane powers; “I can summon sea creatures,” one guy announces, as a wet, writhing fish smashes through a window into his outstretched hand. A character who can kinda, sorta walk through walls, but only when he’s naked, gets stuck in a brick facade with his bare butt hanging out for much of an episode.
Ribald, kinetic, and rooted in the misadventures of flailing young-adult friends, Extraordinary feels closer to zany millennial-underachiever farces like Broad City and Search Party than it does to any superhero show I’ve ever seen. The sight gags are on point, but the dialogue is even sharper. “I’m playing the world’s smallest violin,” Jen scoffs, scrunching her hands into a miniscule air violin, when her perfect younger sister Andy (Safia Oakley-Green), a smug musical prodigy, throws a tantrum upon failing to discover her power the moment she turns 18. Andy: “I’ve actually played the world’s smallest violin, and it’s much bigger than that.” (In a glorious casting choice, the girls’ mom is played by Derry Girls’ deadpan nun, Siobhán McSweeney.) The soundtrack is all witty misfits: Devo, Wet Leg, Mitski, The Clash.
But it’s the superhero stuff that saves this Gen Z comedy from merely rehashing the angsty-young-woman humor of its recent predecessors. By situating Jen, Carrie, and Kash (yes, they’re a couple named Kash and Carrie) in such a complicated and absurd reality—one of Jen’s love interests literally spent the last several years of his life as a cat—Moran gently sends up the low-stakes narcissism of the pre-Trump, pre-pandemic, pre-climate-panic Girls era. True to its title, Extraordinary combines and tweaks familiar tropes into something genuinely unique. That it also makes Deadpool look about as audacious as The Incredibles is just a bonus.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 25 Jan 2023 | 4:58 pm
Source: BBC News - Entertainment & Arts | 25 Jan 2023 | 2:30 pm
Source: BBC News - Entertainment & Arts | 25 Jan 2023 | 1:49 pm
If, somehow, you managed to hit play on the new Peacock series Poker Face without absorbing any of the advance hype surrounding it, you might be in for quite a shock. For the first eight minutes or so, it seems as though our hero will be a casino housekeeper named Natalie (Dascha Polanco from Orange Is the New Black), who stumbles upon some scandalous information while cleaning a high roller’s suite and reports it to her superiors. But by minute nine, Natalie is dead—gunned down in her own home by the casino manager’s right-hand man.
This is not a spoiler, I promise. Because, as anyone who’s seen so much as a trailer already knows, the real amateur detective at the center of Knives Out and Glass Onion mastermind Rian Johnson’s wonderful Poker Face is played by Natasha Lyonne. Premiering Jan. 26, the show is an unapologetic tribute to classic mystery-of-the-week television—namely, ’70s touchstone Columbo, which kicked off each episode by walking viewers through the murder. First we met the victim and the perpetrator; some time later, Peter Falk’s eponymous scruffy detective would arrive on the scene. Instead of playing along from home, fans got to watch an odd, unassuming, yet brilliant sleuth conduct interviews, interpret clues, and sniff out motives.
Poker Face maintains that howdunit-not-whodunit structure, but swaps out Columbo, who derives his authority from the LAPD, for Lyonne’s rootless casino employee Charlie Cale. Quippy, scrappy, and disarmingly caring, Charlie has a superpower befitting Lyonne’s street-smart persona: she can always tell when someone’s lying. Before getting hired at the casino (because its owner was motivated to take her away from his own tables), her hidden talent won her poker games across the country. The manager (an unctuous Adrien Brody), who happens to be the owner’s black-sheep son, can’t understand why she’d give up a lucrative hustle to serve drinks to tourists in a campy cocktail-waitress getup. “I’ve been rich,” she explains. “Yeah?” he says. “How was it?” “Easier than bein’ broke, harder than doin’ just fine.”
The attitude serves her well once things go south at the casino, after Charlie starts digging into the death of Natalie, who had been her close friend. By the end of the premiere, she’s on the run, picking up random gigs to finance her flight from her former employer, and Poker Face becomes a great American road-trip adventure as well as a mystery show. Each hour-long episode drops her into a different milieu, from an auto repair shop in New Mexico to a barbecue joint in Texas. And, wouldn’t you know it, Charlie rolls up to each new location just in time to solve a murder.
Though both have been popular and widely acclaimed, some viewers in our era of endless reductive discourse have reacted somewhat strangely to Johnson’s Knives Out movies. Instead of enjoying them for the self-consciously silly, low-stakes, Agatha-Christie-style mysteries that they are, a certain subset of the audience has insisted on interrogating their vaguely progressive politics, only to conclude that they’re insufficiently rigorous. The good news is that—unless I’m underestimating Twitter, which is a distinct possibility—Poker Face is simply too fun, and Lyonne too endearing, for the show to get mired in that conversational morass. Like Columbo, it’s a magnet for great guest stars, from Brody and Polanco to Ellen Barkin, Lil Rel Howery, Tim Blake Nelson, Luis Guzmán, and Everything Everywhere All at Once Oscar nominee Stephanie Hsu.
And if the format is lovingly pinched from Columbo, along with some memorable plot points, the social worlds Charlie dips into are not just inspired, but also vividly fleshed out. In my favorite of the six (out of 10) episodes sent to critics, Chloë Sevigny plays the frontwoman of Doxxxology, a struggling, one-hit-wonder metal act that peaked in the ’90s and would do anything for another shot at fame. (Like many of Charlie’s cases, this story smuggles in delightful under-the-radar cultural Easter eggs, from a band named after a Nell Zink novel about a band to an appearance by metal-loving Mountain Goats main man John Darnielle as the group’s guitarist, but would also be fully comprehensible to viewers who’ve never heard of either.) A close second is the one that casts Judith Light and Law & Order legend S. Epatha Merkerson as ’70s radicals in the Weather Underground mold, who now routinely scandalize their assisted-living community.
Of course, as the cult that formed around Lyonne when she was the thinking girl’s teen idol in the ’90s and recommitted after her comeback in Orange and then Russian Doll already knows, the best reason to watch Poker Face is its singular star. Though her performance certainly owes something to Falk’s shambling savant, she also calls to mind the larger-than-life personalities of Old Hollywood; Lyonne obviously has talent and beauty, but more than that, she has a distinct onscreen charisma that makes you want to spend time in her presence.
Which makes her the perfect collaborator for Johnson, who—whatever you think of his skills as a satirist—excels most at creating distinctive characters. With Charlie, he plays up Lyonne’s unusual combination of jaded affect and humanistic warmth, and he frees her from ill-fitting feminine tropes without drawing excessive attention to the character’s identity markers. She’s a natural detective not just because she’s an outsider who can sniff out lies, but because she cares about people and is fascinated by their psychology. “Everyone, they lie constantly,” she marvels in the premiere. “And they usually don’t lie to cover up some deep, dark secret, but about just stupid, meaningless sh-t. The real trick of it is figuring out why.” Of the many bespoke touches that make Poker Face a true midwinter gift, the greatest pleasure is in watching an extraordinary character, played by an extraordinary actor, puzzle her way through the bottomless mysteries of the human psyche.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 25 Jan 2023 | 11:00 am
Salman Rushdie’s last novel, 2019’s Booker Prize–short-listed Quichotte, blended elements of Don Quixote with a contemporary narrative to tell a modern parable about “junk culture” and the opioid crisis in America. His new, much different novel, Victory City, to be released Feb. 7, as he recovers from an attack before a lecture last August, abandons the modern age and idiom entirely, starting the clock in 14th-century India, where a young girl, possessed and empowered by a god, will found a city and shepherd it into an empire.
After a minor conflict between two kingdoms in Hindustan (“nothing particularly special about the battle without a name”), the women of the vanquished kingdom follow their husbands into death by marching into a bonfire. A 9-year-old girl named Pampa Kampana watches, and for the rest of her life “would carry the scent of her mother’s burning flesh in her nostrils.”
Into the void of Pampa’s grief steps the goddess Parvati, who, speaking through Pampa’s own mouth, tells her that “in this exact place a great city will rise, the wonder of the world, and its empire will last for more than two centuries. And you … will see it all and tell its story.” The goddess adds that in this new empire, women are no longer to be treated like chattel. As a king will tell her later, Pampa’s ideas are “a little ahead of your time.”
After nine years spent in a cave with a lecherous monk, Pampa instructs two passing shepherds to scatter some seeds at the site of her mother’s pyre. These seeds sprout into the palaces, temples, and hovels of a sprawling city that will be named Bisnaga; people emerge, “born full-grown from the brown earth, shaking the dirt off their garments, and thronging the streets in the evening breeze.” The shepherds, Hukka and Bukka, correctly reckon they will become the first kings of this new empire, and Hukka has the idea to tell the freshly sprouted citizens that he and his brother are gods, descended from their father, the moon. “No,” replies Bukka, “we’ll never get away with that.”
What happens from here is less of a plot and more a progression of history, all witnessed and influenced by Pampa, who carries the curse of long life (about 250 years). She is Bisnaga’s first and second queen, then twice exiled and returned. Palace intrigues roil as the borders of the empire expand and contract under subsequent monarchs: some conquerors, others managers, and some religious zealots. Royal succession is complicated by Pampa’s children. An underground resistance movement called the Remonstrance sows dissension. Through it all, Pampa, like Athena to Athens, makes her best attempts at divine intercession.
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Rushdie’s relentless creative energy pairs well with his understanding of how history “works,” and (excepting the occasional magic spell or gift of flight) this book can read almost more like a work of history than a fairy tale. So call it a feat of fidelity that later sections grow confusingly byzantine and the history lesson drags at points.
What Rushdie re-creates convincingly is the way that the divine is a necessary component in the creation myths of great cities and societies. The urge to understand ourselves in sacred terms developed not from the invention of history, but alongside it. It’s as if Rushdie has dropped a molecule of divinity into a petri dish containing the other basic stuff of life, and watched a civilization cultivate.
Mancusi is the author of the novel A Philosophy of Ruin.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 25 Jan 2023 | 10:54 am
With Rick and Morty co-creator Justin Roiland awaiting trial on domestic violence charges, the future of the animated comedy series has been hanging in the balance.
Now, Adult Swim, the network where Rick and Morty airs, has announced that it has cut ties with Roiland and will be recasting his voice roles on the show. Adult Swim’s decision arrives less than two weeks after NBC News first reported on Jan. 12 that Roiland had been charged with felony domestic violence in Orange County, Calif., in connection with a January 2020 incident involving an unnamed woman he was dating at the time. The news broke the same day that Roiland appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing in the case.
“Adult Swim has ended its association with Justin Roiland,” Marie Moore, senior vice president of communications for Warner Bros. Global Kids, Young Adults, and Classics division, said in a statement on Tuesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
What charges is Justin Roiland facing?
Roiland was charged in 2020 with one count of domestic battery with corporal injury and one count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud, or deceit following an alleged incident that year with an anonymous Jane Doe whom he was dating, according to a criminal complaint filed in May 2020 by the Orange County District Attorney. He was arrested and released on a $50,000 bond in August 2020 and arraigned in October 2020. A protective order was also filed in October 2020 that prevents Roiland from going within 100 feet of the alleged victim.
Roiland has pleaded not guilty and, in a statement, his attorney T. Edward Welbourn called the media coverage of the case “inaccurate.”
“To be clear, not only is Justin innocent but we also have every expectation that this matter is on course to be dismissed once the District Attorney’s office has completed its methodical review of the evidence,” Welbourn said. “We look forward to clearing Justin’s name and helping him move forward as swiftly as possible.”
In the days following the Jan. 12 hearing, multiple people came forward on social media with additional allegations of abuse—including predatory behavior toward minors—against Roiland.
The next pre-trial hearing is set for April 27.
What do Justin Roiland’s charges mean for the future of Rick and Morty?
As a co-creator, executive producer, and star voice actor of Rick and Morty, Roiland has played an outsize role in the massively popular series. The show’s sixth season, which brought in an average of 560,000 live viewers per episode, concluded in December 2022, and a seventh season is already on the way as part of a long-term deal for 70 new episodes commissioned by Adult Swim in 2018.
Now, Roiland’s voice roles, including those of the titular Rick and Morty, will reportedly be recast as the series, which is booked through season 10, moves forward. Roiland’s fellow co-creator, Dan Harmon, will be the lone showrunner.
In the wake of Adult Swim’s decision, Hulu also dropped Roiland from his two ongoing projects with the streamer, the animated comedy series Solar Opposites, which was renewed for a fifth season in October, and Koala Man, which debuted Jan. 9. Both shows will continue without Roiland’s involvement.
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 24 Jan 2023 | 9:11 pm
During the opening scene of Power Slap: Road to the Title, the TBS show debuting last week that features the emergent sport of slap fighting, striker Chris Thomas steps into a square and calls “right three.” He’s indicating to the official that on a count of three, he will wind up and smack his opponent, Chris Kennedy, with all the velocity and power available to him in his right hand. Kennedy, meanwhile, holds his hands behind his back, clutching a sort of stick to ensure that he won’t raise his hands to defend himself from this assault.
One, two … SMACK! The chalk that Thomas put on his hand before the blow flies off Kennedy’s face, as Kennedy falls to the mat. Ohhhh! the people in the crowd yell. Someone curses. Though the words are bleeped out, it’s easy guess what was said. Something that rhymes, perhaps, with “holy spit.” Or “oh, puck.”
The force sends Kennedy careering so fast, the two men standing behind him—whose job is to catch him before his head bounces off the mat—don’t seem to make it on time. The ref calls the “fight” immediately. (Is it a fight if, by rule, a combatant can’t defend himself?) The ref summons a doctor. Kennedy’s eyes appear to be rolling to the back of his head. Thomas flexes for the camera and screams, “That’s what I’m about!” Power Slap producers replay the strike in slow motion, from three different angles: you can see Kennedy’s skin, and picture his brain, quaking.
Kennedy comes to. But he can’t recall his whereabouts. An official told him he got knocked out. “Was I fighting?” Kennedy asks a medic.
And with that, many Americans were introduced to slap fighting and Power Slap, the new combat sports outfit backed by the UFC and its lighting-rod president, Dana White. With Power Slap, White hopes to do for slap fighting what the UFC did for mixed-martial arts: organize and promote it to the masses. The timing of Power Slap’s launch, however, has proved problematic. For one, Damar Hamlin’s near-death experience on the football field, on Jan. 2, reminded millions of risks involved in violent sports. Marketing defenseless blows to the head, after science has shown that concussions and brain injuries suffered in sports can lead to serious long-term cognitive damage, comes across as especially egregious.
What’s more, on Jan. 2 TMZ released a video showing White and his wife, Anne, slapping each other at a New Year’s Eve party in Mexico. White told TMZ she was “embarrassed” by the incident, and shared that he and his wife have apologized to each other and to their children. “To say this is out of character for him is an understatement,” Anne said in a statement to TMZ. “Nothing like this has ever happened before.” They said that excessive alcohol consumption contributed to the the spat, though White told TMZ that drinking should not excuse his behavior. TBS pushed back Power Slap’s premiere by a week. A UFC spokesperson did not make White available for an interview.
Sports-medicine experts have criticized Power Slap. “There’s no justification for it,” neuroscientist Chris Nowinski, co-founder and CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, and a former WWE wrestler, tells TIME. In a recent interview, White mentioned that while Power Slap athletes sustain three-to-five blows in their matches, boxers may take 300 to 400 blows to the head in a bout. “He’s missing the point,” says Nowinski. “He knows what he’s selling is garbage, but he’s trying to make money on other people’s suffering. This combines all the worst elements of any sport. No drama, no art, and just trying to test human limits that lead to permanent damage.”
“I hope the sport doesn’t last very long,” says Dr. David Abbasi, a sports-medicine specialist who has worked as a ringside physician at pro boxing and MMA matches. “Because these athletes’ brains are at serious risk.”
Even some MMA fighters lashed out against slap fighting. “This type of event (I won’t doing to call it a sport) is the dumbest thing there is going,” fighter Josh Barnett wrote on Twitter, in response to a clip from a Romania-based promotion showing a slap fighter with a swollen, disfigured face sustaining another blow. “Why do people support this s–t?” Matt Frevola, a rising star in White’s UFC, blasted Power Slap after its debut. “I don’t want to know how much money went into this Power Slap s–t,” Frevola wrote on Twitter. “Why not put that money towards making the UFC a better overall product and legitimizing the sport? It’s also dumb af lol”
Slap fighting first came to White’s attention in 2017, when he saw online clips of the sport originating in Russia and eastern Europe. The page views impressed him, so he decided to invest, along with former UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, in organizing, regulating, and promoting the sport. Power Slap is sanctioned in Nevada, and the TBS show will feature fighters training and competing in the sport, with a debut live pay-per-view event to follow.
Power Slap fights consist of three to five rounds, with one slap per round. If no fighter is knocked out, the judges declare a winner based on “the strikers effectiveness, as well as the defender’s reaction and recovery time.” Fighters must stand still in a box before striking an opponent; a combatant can’t, say, get a running start to increase the force of the strike. Hits must be open-handed, and the cheek is the target area. Blows to the ear and temple, for example, are illegal. Hard strikes anywhere on the head, however, can do damage. “If you’re able to get their head to rotate, if you’re able to hit them off center, then you’re talking about the potential of physically damaging their brain,” says Nowinski. “Because you get centripetal force and shearing injury because parts of the brain are going to twist at different speeds.”
Power Slap president Frank Lamicella points out that before each bout, the strikers undergo a battery of tests—physical exams, MRIs, performance-enhancing drug screening—to ensure that they are fit to compete. Multiple physicians and first responders and ambulances are on-site at fights. “There’s inherent risk in the sport,” Lamicella tells TIME. “Our job—and this is what we’ve done with the UFC—is to make sure that the health and safety guidelines are as premier as they can get, and they are followed each and every time there’s a match.” Lamicella says that in the more than 50 Power Slap matches that have already taken place, “there has not been one serious injury.”
The second episode of Power Slap: Road To The Title airs Wednesday night on TBS, at 10 p.m. E.S.T. The program drew 295,000 viewers in its debut, making it No. 45 out of the top 50 cable telecasts for Jan. 18. Power Slap, however, lost a majority of its lead-in audience: AEW Wrestling, which airs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on TBS, was the No. 3 cable show on the night, with 969,000 viewers. A TBS spokesperson did not make any executives available to speak to TIME about Power Slap.
Power Slap did attract more than 1 million viewers on Rumble, the video-sharing platform that streams Power Slap: Road to the Title outside the United States. One Power Slap clip on TikTok—featuring a knockout blow—now has more than 100 million views.
Chris Thomas, whose ferocious strike was highlighted at the top of the Power Slap premiere, was dabbling in MMA when he saw slap fighting on Facebook. “They posted something about Power Slap and I was like, ah, this s–t ain’t real,” Thomas, 31, tells TIME. “This stuff’s dumb, whatever. Then I was like, f–k, maybe I’ll take a slap if it’s real. Because I can take a hit. I haven’t been knocked out a day in my life.”
After his stunning debut, Thomas was selected to train with other fighters pursuing a Power Slap career. He won’t disclose how much he earned to appear in Power Slap, or his prize money for victories. But he insists the sum “changed my life.” (Former UFC fighter Eric Spicely said on Twitter that he was offered $2,000 to appear in a fight and another $2,000 if he won. A Power Slap spokesperson did not reply to a request for comment.)
Thomas gets more of an adrenaline rush from defense than offense. “You’re like, let’s go,” he says. “I’m going to eat this s–t and spit it out. Every time I get hit, all my power, all my focus, comes into point. If they hit me, they will not survive after it.” There’s an art to absorbing force, according to Thomas. “Right before I take a hit, I clench,” says Thomas. “At the same time they’re hitting me, I’m clenching in, and moving with it. I’m absorbing the impact a lot more than if I was just being stiff or being soft.”
Thomas says he grew up Idaho, in and out of the foster-care system. He did his first line of drugs when he was 11, he says. He stole food to survive. Thomas says his difficult upbringing has inured him to any fear in the ring. “I’m not scared,” he says. “If you can survive that, you can survive anything.” He believes slap fighting has powerful allure. “You’re going to see a lot more damage, a lot more testosterone being thrown around,” says Thomas. “If you watch the show, you’ll see a lot of real life stuff. It’s not just about Power Slap. It’s about people’s lives.”
He also feels like it’s the Power Slap critics who are missing the point. “If anybody is out to make the sport a bad thing or have something bad to say about it, just realize that there’s people out here who really enjoy it and have love for it and have love for the people who are in it,” says Thomas. “It’s kind of selfish to say that somebody can take a stick, stab it in the ground, flick themselves over another stick and land on a bed and call that a sport, but we can’t call Power Slap a sport.”
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 24 Jan 2023 | 5:07 pm
In November, fans saved up hundreds of dollars and took days off work during pre-sales so they could wait in virtual queues to buy tickets to Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour. Some waited for hours on Ticketmaster’s website, only to see tickets they’d selected disappear from their carts or be booted out of line when the website glitched. Many of those lucky enough to secure tickets were hit with costly fees, and resellers began to list tickets online for more than $20,000. Fans hoping to snag tickets in the general sale were crushed when Ticketmaster canceled it.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate took up the Swifties’ case.
In a Judiciary Committee hearing on consolidation in the ticketing industry after the 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, Senators questioned ticketing execs about whether Ticketmaster’s parent company, Live Nation Entertainment, has a monopoly in the industry. Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Republican Sen. Mike Lee, the chair and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, took lead roles, with Lee joking, “To be honest, I had hoped as of a few months ago to get the gavel back, but, once again, she’s cheer captain and I’m on the bleachers. Nice of Taylor Swift to have written a song about this very situation.”
But the parties appeared united in their suspicion of Ticketmaster, indicating renewed bipartisan interest in antitrust actions.
“I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement: You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in an absolutely unified cause,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, told Live Nation Entertainment President and Chief Financial Officer Joe Berchtold.
Tuesday’s hearing isn’t the only probe targeting Live Nation Entertainment. Ticketmaster apologized on November 18 for the Taylor Swift incident, blaming unprecedented web traffic. But on the same day, the New York Times reported that the Justice Department had launched an antitrust investigation into Live Nation Entertainment. Elected officials across the country, from President Joe Biden to progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, a Republican, raised concerns about the company’s power. And it’s not just Taylor Swift fans who have been burned by the system: fans who bought valid tickets from Ticketmaster were turned away from a Bad Bunny concert in December, leading the president of Mexico to condemn the company.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Jack Groetzinger, the CEO of SeatGeek, a competitor of Ticketmaster that also sold some tickets to Swift’s tour, called to break up its rival. “There are three things that are clear to me and are clear to many others who work in our industry,” Groetzinger said. “Number one, a lack of robust competition in our industry meaningfully stunts innovation and consumers are who suffer. Number two, venues fear losing Live Nation concerts if they don’t use Ticketmaster. And number three, the only way to restore competition in this industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation.”
The hearing was the Senate’s first this year. Many Hill interns lined up outside the hearing room before it began, hoping not only to learn the ropes of their new roles, but also to learn about antitrust, an issue some told TIME that they became interested in after trying to buy tickets to see their favorite artists.
Attorney Jennifer Kinder booked a flight to D.C. so she could demonstrate outside the Capitol. Kinder, a longtime Swiftie, jumped through all the hoops of the botched presale trying to get tickets for herself and her preteen daughter. The chaos of the process led her to work on a lawsuit against Ticketmaster that she says more than 300 plaintiffs have now signed onto. “I’ve never done this before; I’m not an expert in antitrust,” she tells TIME. “It’s just getting to a point where being unregulated, they are a five-headed beast that no one can control.”
Kinder is among the Ticketmaster critics who believe that if the company is not held accountable soon, Americans will be priced out of attending their favorite artists’ shows. If the furious fanbase of one of the biggest pop stars in the world can’t move the needle, who can? “We have a shared community, easy ways for us to communicate via social media,” Kinder says. “Think of the indie artist, the up-and-coming artist that really has no opportunity to get their music out, and their voice out unless they participate in this corrupt system… We’re all impacted. Because if they get away with it here, they will go unregulated forever.”
Unfortunately for the Swifties, Taylor did not testify at Tuesday’s hearing. Instead, musician Clyde Lawrence spoke on behalf of artists. “Due to Live Nation’s control across the industry, we have practically no leverage in negotiating [with] them,” he said. “If they want to take 10% of the revenues and call it a ‘facility fee’, they can, and have… And if they want to charge us $250 for a stack of ten clean towels, they can, and have… In a world where the promoter and the venue are not affiliated with each other, we can trust that the promoter will look to get the best deal from the venue. However in this case the promoter and the venue are part of the same corporate entity.”
He also refuted Ticketmaster’s claims that artists set pricing strategies, saying, “To be clear, we have absolutely zero say or visibility into how much these fees will be. We find out the same way as everyone else, by logging onto Ticketmaster once the show already goes on sale. And in case you’re wondering, no, we, the artists, do not get a cent of that fee.”
Berchtold said that venues, about 5% of which his company owns, set service fees. Lawrence responded that the venues he’s spoken to deny that.
Berchtold repeatedly minimized his company’s influence on the industry, estimating that Live Nation Entertainment controls 50-60% of the market, a characterization other witnesses at the hearing disputed, with some accusing Ticketmaster of being a monopoly. A November statement from Live Nation Entertainment said, “Ticketmaster has a significant share of the primary ticketing services market because of the large gap that exists between the quality of the Ticketmaster system and the next best primary ticketing system.”
Skrmetti, the Tennessee official, is currently investigating the company and tells TIME that the evidence he’s found so far “is not consistent entirely with that statement.”
This isn’t the first time Ticketmaster’s conduct has been examined by Congress. In addition to a 2009 Senate hearing ahead of the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger, in 1994, a House subcommittee held a hearing on Ticketmaster after the band Pearl Jam filed a complaint with the Justice Department. Aerosmith manager Tim Collins also testified at the hearing. “Steven Tyler, Aerosmith’s lead singer, said to me ‘Mussolini may have made the trains run on time, but not everyone could get a seat on the train,’” Collins said during that hearing. “That’s the problem that Aerosmith and I have with Ticketmaster. Yes, they have an efficient and profitable system, but its monopolistic aspects are unfair and hurtful.”
Federal authorities could take direct action by dismantling Live Nation Entertainment, but that hasn’t happened to a major company since the 1980s, when the federal government splintered AT&T.
“I think they need to tear it up,” Kinder says. “I think they need to bust the whole thing up and make it start all over again.”
-With reporting by Eric Cortellessa/Washington
Source: Entertainment – TIME | 24 Jan 2023 | 12:42 pm
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