Olympic Moments That Ring True as Among the Most Memorable in History
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Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 13 Jul 2024 | 3:00 am

Pregnant Lea Michele Reunites With Scream Queens Costar Emma Roberts
Lea Michele, Emma Roberts, Scream Queens The Chanels are back in action. It was one for the books as Lea Michele gave a glimpse into her Hamptons reunion with Scream Queens costar Emma Roberts. The Glee alum posted a slew of photo...

Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 8:18 pm

Matthew McConaughey Says He Is Still Mulling Future Run for Political Office
Matthew McConaughey

Salt Lake City — Actor Matthew McConaughey continued to tease he might run for political office to a room full of governors Friday, joshing about drinking his brand of tequila with at least one of them the night before and taking advice from another to be himself if he ever does run.

Whether the star known for “Dazed and Confused,” “A Time to Kill” and “True Detective” would run as a Democrat or Republican, and for what office, remained unknown. McConaughey has been vague about his political affiliation and didn’t tip his hand at the National Governors Association meeting.

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“I’m on a learning tour and have been for probably the last six years,” McConaughey told New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who asked about his plans. “Do I have the instincts and intellect that it would be a good fit for me and I would be a good for it. You know, would I be useful?”

He was learning a lot at the governors’ annual summer meeting, he told Murphy.

“I learned a lot from you last night through that tequila, sir,” he kidded Murphy, who’d brought up drinking McConaughey’s tequila with him.

McConaughey took part in a panel discussion with Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, a Republican, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, about how to promote civility in politics.

Cox, the genial governor of famously polite Utah, has led a “Disagree Better” campaign to counter harsh rhetoric and combativeness in government — a project that has caught the attention of McConaughey, who’s also been outspoken about U.S. leaders practicing more respect.

The three discussed how politicians’ need to grab attention — and clicks online — drive extreme rhetoric. McConaughey said that extreme polarization has bled into Hollywood as well.

“My industry has to watch its tongue out of the gate because it’s coming from the left. We have to open that conversation with our opening statements and not invalidate a moderate or conservative at the gate, which we’re guilty of to an extent,” McConaughey remarked of actors and directors weighing in on politics.

McConaughey hinted in 2022 he might run for governor in his home state of Texas. He has meanwhile been outspoken on gun control, urging Congress from the White House after that year’s school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, to pass legislation to bolster background checks for gun purchases and raise the minimum age to purchase an AR-15-style rifle to 21 from 18.

Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, a Democrat, encouraged McConaughey to someday run and offered advice.

“Don’t fall into the trap to think you should be just one thing,” said Green. “A lot of Republicans will want you to be Republican and a lot of Democrats will want you to be a Democrat, just be you because that might be something special for all of us.”

___

Gruver contributed from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Jul 2024 | 7:31 pm

Antonio Banderas and Stepdaughter Dakota Johnson Reunite in Cute Pic
Antonio Banderas, Dakota Johnson, Hollywood Film Awards, 2019 Dakota Johnson is back with her Paponio. The Madame Web star recently reunited with her stepfather Antonio Banderas in his hometown of Málaga, Spain, where he is directing a Spanish version of the...

Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 6:36 pm

Alec Baldwin’s Involuntary Manslaughter Case Dismissed and Cannot Be Filed Again
Baldwin Set Shooting

Santa Fe, N.M. — A New Mexico judge on Friday threw out the involuntary manslaughter case against Alec Baldwin in the middle of his trial and said it cannot be filed again.

Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer dismissed the case with prejudice based on the misconduct of police and prosecutors over the withholding of evidence from the defense in the shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film “Rust.”

Baldwin cried and embraced his attorneys after the decision was announced.

___

Dalton reported from Los Angeles.

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Jul 2024 | 6:23 pm

Alec Baldwin's Rust Shooting Trial Dismissed With Prejudice
Alec Baldwin, Rust Trial Shooting, July 10 Alec Baldwin's involuntary manslaughter trial in connection to the 2021 death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins has come to a shocking end. A New Mexico judge dismissed the case with prejudice on...

Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 6:21 pm

Eddie Murphy and Paige Butcher Get Married in Caribbean Wedding
Eddie Murphy, Paige Butcher Hercules, Hercules, Hercules—Eddie Murphy is married! The comedian tied the knot with longtime love Paige Butcher at a private ceremony in Anguilla on July 9, as seen in photos obtained by...

Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 5:55 pm

The Biggest Bombshells From Alec Baldwin's Rust Shooting Trial
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Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 5:55 pm

Euphoria Finally Confirms Plans for Season 3 Production. Here’s Why It’s Taken So Long

Euphoria fans have long awaited the return of the hit HBO series. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the show is finally on its way back. On July 12, the publication reported that the show is gearing up to start production again in January 2025, three years after the second season premiered. Additionally, the majority of the main cast members are set to return after reaching new heights in their careers since they last appeared on the series. Hunter Schafer, Zendaya, Jacob Elordi, and Sydney Sweeney are all poised to come back to the show that helped launch their careers.

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It’s unclear exactly when the show will be returning to television screens. Earlier this year, there was hope that it might return next year, sources close to the situation told THR. But the show was put on hold indefinitely. THR reported that the new season will most likely have a time jump into the future and show the characters after high school.

It’s unusual for a wildly popular show like Euphoria to have this much time between seasons, especially after being renewed during the run of a previous season. However, the production was up against multiple obstacles. Here is everything that might have played a role in delaying production on the hit television show.

The writers and actors strikes

Hollywood saw a historic dual strike last summer, with the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA calling for a work stoppage to gain better protections and working conditions for unionized members. The two unions fought for a fair deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and members paused their work for struck companies until their contract was ratified. Though Euphoria wasn’t filming at the time, it’s fair to say that the strikes certainly did not bring a new season any closer.

The actors finding major success outside of the show

The principal cast have become major movie stars in their own right following the second season of Euphoria. Zendaya is one of the most in-demand movie stars in Hollywood right now after nabbing her first Emmy in 2020 for her work as the lead actress on the show. Since then, her name is rarely left out of any conversation about the new Hollywood A-list. She’s been in both Dune movies, starred in Luca Guadagnino’s zeitgeisty Challengers, and become a burgeoning fashion icon and red-carpet mainstay. 

Another major fashion it-girl, Hunter Schafer began making her foray into movies as well, appearing in the latest addition to the Hunger Games franchise and Yorgos Lanthimos’ Kinds of Kindness, with a horror movie, Cuckoo, due in August. Sydney Sweeney found success with the playful rom-com Anyone But You, starring opposite Glen Powell, and Jacob Elordi became a leading man in Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn and played Elvis in Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla.

Angus Cloud’s death

Cloud, who played Fezco, died of an accidental drug overdose in July 2023. The star had struggled with drug addiction and was said to have been supported by Euphoria creator Sam Levinson and the team at HBO. Levinson told People that he encouraged Cloud to go to rehab. “I just said to him, ‘I love working with you and we’ve got this amazing season planned and stuff, but I need you to be sober because I got to be able to rely on you,’” he says in the interview. He says that HBO paid for his rehab treatment. Losing one of its key cast members, in addition to taking an heavy emotional toll on the cast and crew, clearly presented new challenges for formulating how the story would continue.

Controversy on set of The Idol

Back in March of 2023, The Idol, another HBO show that Levinson created in the wake of Euphoria’s success, became embroiled in controversy. Rolling Stone published an investigative exposé into the making of The Idol, which starred Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd. According to the publication, the show was originally set to be a feminist commentary on the trappings and pitfalls of the entertainment industry. It was originally helmed by Amy Seimetz, who then left due to conflicting contractual obligations. Levinson overhauled the show, which became, according to one source from the story, a “rape fantasy.” The show “went from satire to the thing it was satirizing,” they claimed. (And many critics ultimately agreed with that assessment.)

One source blamed The Weeknd, whose real name is Abel Tesfaye, for wanting to “tone down the cult aspect of the storyline and pivot into something else entirely, dropping the ‘feminist lens’ through which the show was being told as a result.” According to Rolling Stone, Levinson’s version of the show was more disturbing than the original. There were more sexually graphic scenes that were described as “sexual torture porn.”

Though Tesfaye seemed unbothered by the criticism, the response to the show was no better than the criticism leading up to it.

Barbie Ferreira’s supposed fallout with Levinson

An alleged feud between Barbie Ferreira, who played Kat Hernandez, and Levinson, also loomed over Euphoria. In August 2022, Ferreira announced that she would not be returning for a third season. This came after rumors that she walked off set during the filming of the show after she got into an argument with Levinson. During an interview on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast, she shut down the rumors and said she did not walk off set but did sprain her ankle and needed to get an x-ray.

However, she said the decision for her to leave the series was mutual because both she and Levinson felt there wasn’t anywhere else her story could go. “I think there were places she could have gone. I just don’t think it would have fit into the show. I don’t know if it was going to do her justice, and I think both parties knew that,” she said on the podcast. “I really wanted to be able to not be the fat best friend. I don’t want to play that, and I think they didn’t want that either.”

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Jul 2024 | 5:10 pm

Eminem Calls Out Sean “Diddy” Combs For Cassie Incident in New Song
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Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 4:45 pm

Touch Is a Moving Romance Built Around the Search for a Long-Lost Love
TOUCH

We make space in our brains for lots of things these days: Instagram influencers and TikTok stars, series binge-watching, obsessive attention to the news cycle. Sometimes, in that endless reshuffling of attention-grabbers, we lose sight of essential pleasures that have served humankind ably for centuries. When we look at the movie landscape, in particular, almost nobody sighs and says, “I wish we had more romantic melodramas,” because we’ve nearly forgotten they’re even a genre. With Touch—adapted from the novel by Olaf Olafsson—Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur gives us the thing we didn’t know we wanted: a cross-cultural romance that spans decades, built around one man’s search for a long-lost love. This is a movie of gentle but resonant pleasures; it slows the world down, a little, for the span of time you’re watching it. And couldn’t we all use a little of that these days?

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Veteran Icelandic actor Egill Ólafsson plays Kristofer, an older man who’s had what could reasonably be called a happy life: He’s the owner of a seemingly successful seaside restaurant. His wife is now deceased, and there’s every indication that theirs was a good marriage. He has a stepdaughter who calls frequently to check up on him. But he’s recognizing that his time is limited, and there’s something he’s got to do. So he leaves his home in Iceland and travels first to London and then to Japan, in search of the woman—or at least news of the woman—who slipped out of his life many years earlier.

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We see episodes from Kristofer’s past as he reflects on it: The younger Kristofer is played by Palmi Kormákur (the director’s son), an earnest beanpole of a kid who’s studying economics in 1970s London. He and his friends enjoy theoretical conversations about economic injustice; impulsively, Kristofer decides to quit school and join the proletariat. He charmingly if tentatively talks his way into a job washing dishes at a Japanese restaurant—the owner, Takahashi-san (Masahiro Motoki), takes a liking to him. Before long, Kristofer meets Takahashi-san’s bright, intriguing daughter, Miko (Kôki); he’s a goner even before she surveys his face and tells him that he reminds her of John Lennon. It takes a while for their romance to bloom—Miko already has a suitor, and other complications are gradually revealed—but once it does, there seems to be no separating them. Or so Kristofer believes, until one day Miko disappears.

Read more: The 100 Best Movies of the Past 10 Decades

In old age, with nothing left to lose, Kristofer sets out to find Miko; the trail goes cold more than once. But there’s more to this story than the search for a lost love—because those stories are almost always mostly about the person who’s doing the searching. Touch is also about all that Kristofer doesn’t know about Miko and her father, circumstances that aren’t so much conventional secrets as bits of sorrowful history embedded in DNA. This is a love story where the ghosts of Hiroshima bear witness. Kristofer learns truths as an old man that he might not have been able to comprehend fully as a young one. Touch is about learning the necessary things at the right time—and sometimes even the last minute is the right time.

Yet this is in no way a jarring picture, or one that seeks to punish us with harsh truths. Maybe, more broadly, it’s a story about how we’re all required to live in our own time—memory offers only the briefest escape. As a director, Kormákur has made the loudest noise—in the United States, at least—as a director of action or adventure films, among them Contraband (2012), 2 Guns (2013), Everest (2015), and Beast (2022). But he’s just as skillful, and maybe even better, at this kind of filmmaking. He knows how to make the most of each setting. Iceland looks so mournfully beautiful you feel a little sad when Kristofer leaves it, but the London of the 1970s (and of the present day) holds just as much allure: Kristofer discovers that Takahashi-san’s restaurant is now a tattoo parlor, but he embraces its new identity rather than treating it as a sacrilegious invasion.

TOUCH

Kormákur and his cinematographer Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson give a sense of the way, if we’re aware enough, glimmers of the past can permeate the present, as if shining through a translucent overlay. The mood of the film is wistful, a little sad, but ultimately quietly galvanizing, thanks in large part to the actors: Palmi Kormákur plays the young Kristofer as guileless but not clueless, feeling his way along as young people do. As the older Kristofer, Ólafsson recaptures some of that uncertainty: he’s an old man in surroundings that are no longer familiar, but he also realizes he has the chance to pick up the pieces of a mystery he’s lived with his entire life.

And as the older version of Miko, Yoko Narahashi has a kind of buoyant gravitas—as if the burdens she’s had to live with are lightened by the privilege and pleasure of just being able to breathe the air each day. Narahashi was also Kormákur’s casting director on the film. As she was reading lines with various performers, he realized that she was the only one for the role. Touch is the kind of movie you get when a filmmaker thinks like that, on his feet and with his heart—and in so doing, he makes us believe we can, too.

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Jul 2024 | 4:08 pm

RHOA Alum NeNe Leakes Addresses Kenya Moore's Controversial Exit
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Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 4:00 pm

Alec Baldwin’s Rust Involuntary Manslaughter Trial Takes Sudden Twist
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Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 3:58 pm

Channing Tatum Reveals the Sweet Treat Pal Taylor Swift Made for Him
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Source: E! Online (US) - Top Stories | 12 Jul 2024 | 3:42 pm

Making Sense of Longlegs‘ Terrifyingly Ambiguous Ending
Maika Monroe as Lee Harker in 'Longlegs'

Warning: This post contains spoilers for Longlegs.

When a horror movie generates as much hype as Longlegs, it’s bound to inspire some polarizing reactions. Leading up to its July 12 release, the new feature from writer-director Osgood Perkins (The Blackcoat’s Daughter, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House) has alternately been called “the scariest film of the decade” and “misfiring hokum.”

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Still, the hotly-anticipated thriller currently boasts a 91 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and, thanks to buzz drummed up by a viral marketing campaign and strategic advance screenings, is headed for what could be a $10-15 million opening weekend. On TikTok, videos related to Longlegs have racked up over 51 million views, setting the Satanic Panic-fueled genre film up to either cement itself in horror history or fall victim to the dreaded “overrated” label.

Putting a supernatural spin on elements of a variety of iconic genre predecessors—from The Silence of the Lambs to Se7en to ZodiacLonglegs stars It Follows breakout Maika Monroe as Lee Harker, a psychically-gifted FBI agent who’s drawn into the hunt for an elusive serial killer (Nicolas Cage) known only by the film’s titular moniker. Teaming with her superior, Agent Carter (Blair Underwood), Lee begins to slowly uncover the means and motive of the grotesquely made-up Longlegs—ultimately discovering an insidious connection to her own past.

The movie’s final act—which reveals how Lee’s mother, possessed dolls, and the devil himself all played a role in Longlegs’ reign of terror—seems designed to be ambiguous, leaving the ending up to viewer interpretation. But according to Monroe, there’s one clear takeaway. “Evil isn’t going anywhere,” she told TIME. “That’s just the reality. There really is no end.”

Read More: Maika Monroe on Her Obsession With Longlegs‘ Sinister World

What does Longlegs‘ ending mean?

Maika Monroe as Lee Harker in 'Longlegs'

After Longlegs—or Dale Cobble, as his real name turns out to be—is arrested and kills himself by repeatedly smashing his face into the FBI’s interrogation table, Lee is left to put together the final pieces of the occult puzzle surrounding his crimes. She finally comes to understand that her mom, Ruth (Alicia Witt), is the accomplice who was working with Longlegs to deliver the dolls to his targets’ houses. It’s revealed that Ruth would make the drops disguised as a nun and pretend she had been sent by the church with a gift for their daughters’ birthdays (always the 14th of the month). She would then sit and watch as the evil orb inside the dolls’ heads, imbued with Longlegs’ hypnotic power, compelled the families’ fathers to violently kill their loved ones and themselves.

Of course, Longlegs himself was apparently simply a pawn of Satan, a.k.a. “the man downstairs”—hence all the references to the Book of Revelations and glimpses of demonic phantoms. “[Longlegs is] someone who was a person and is a person, and whose life was sort of hijacked by the devil,” Perkins told Den of Geek. “You go into the service of that and it sucks, and you do your best to sort of be evil through it, with it, as a result of it, but in the end you’re also a person who gets tired.”

When Lee returns to her mom’s house, Ruth shoots Lee’s fellow agent (Michelle Choi-Lee) before finally telling her the truth: Lee was intended to be one of Longlegs’ victims on her ninth birthday (what we saw in the film’s opening flashback), but Ruth prevented it by agreeing to help Longlegs carry out his horrors and letting him use her basement as his workshop. She also shoots Lee’s own doppelgänger doll, causing Lee to fall unconscious and severing the psychic bridge that connected her to Longlegs while making her blind to the truth all those years.

According to Perkins, this twist was born from the relationship he had with his parents, horror icon Anthony Perkins and actor Berry Berenson, as a kid. “I try not to tell my children any protective lies, having grown up in a family where certain truths were curated, not maliciously and with any kind of cruelty or dismissiveness, but rather as a move to sustain the family and keep things together,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. “So the idea that a mom, in this case, can create a story, a lie, a narrative, a version and dress their children in it like a hazmat suit, is definitely where the movie came from. That’s the kernel of truth that started the process.”

Blair Underwood as Agent Carter in 'Longlegs'

‘As bad as it could have turned out’

When Lee wakes up, she realizes that her mom intends to continue Longlegs’ work in order to uphold her end of the bargain and keep Lee safe from the devil. Lee rushes over to Agent Carter’s house for the ninth birthday party of his daughter, Ruby (Ava Kelders), and finds that Ruth has already arrived with Ruby’s doll and allowed the Carter family to fall under its spell. Agent Carter kills his wife before Lee shoots him, and then, her own mother. But when she attempts to shoot Ruby’s doll and free her from its influence, the gun clicks empty.

Some viewers have taken this ending to mean that Lee is now possessed and will take up Longlegs’ mantle. Whether or not that’s the case, according to Perkins, the moment is intended to serve as metaphor for the consuming nature of evil and how people are often complicit in their own destruction.

“The ending for her is about as bad as it could have turned out,” he told Den of Geek. “Like shooting her mom in the head, that’s about as bad a day as a person can have. So I think that ultimately one could say that the entire movement of the movie—or the entire movement of all of Longlegs’ crimes, starting from crime number one all the way to the Carter family—it’s all about getting this poor girl to a place where she shoots her mom in the head. Like that’s kind of the flourish, the devil’s ‘Yep, I did that.'”

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Jul 2024 | 3:11 pm

The Imagination Flies Free in Sing Sing’s Maximum-Security Prison
Sing Sing

Out of sight, out of mind is how most Americans probably think about incarcerated individuals—until an acquaintance or a loved one lands in a correctional facility, after plotting a crime or perhaps just acting impulsively in a heated moment. It’s easy, and comfortable, to pass judgment. But Greg Kwedar’s true-to-life prison drama Sing Sing asks more of us: If we believe in our own capacity for growth and change, how can we not extend that good faith to other individuals who have made mistakes?

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Colman Domingo stars as John “Divine G” Whitfield, serving time at the infamous New York prison Sing Sing for a crime he didn’t commit, though he’s hopeful that an upcoming clemency hearing might clear his name. In the meantime, he’s become deeply invested in a prison theater program, not only performing but also serving on its steering committee, helping to determine who joins the program and what productions get mounted. He’s also written a play himself, one that he hopes might someday make it to the stage.

He and his closest friend Mike Mike (Sean San José) are always looking for new men who might benefit the group—and benefit from it. They approach Clarence “Divine Eye” Maclin (a real-life alumnus of a similar arts program, playing himself), who has a reputation as a tough guy around the yard. Divine G knows his instincts about Divine Eye are right when the latter rattles off a passage from King Lear, proving he’s taken the play to heart. But it takes a while for Divine Eye to recognize that part of the troupe’s aim—which it achieves through a mix of acting exercises and just plain yakking, led by the group’s coach, Brent (Paul Raci)—is to get the men to explore feelings they usually keep locked down tight. He resents Divine G’s efforts to help him open up, and the two clash, though Divine G’s ego is part of the problem too.

Sing Sing

Prisons are self-contained societies, and Sing Sing underscores just how complicated interpersonal relationships can be when you’re being watched every waking and sleeping moment. Even the movie’s production design suggests how these men strive to preserve their individuality: their cells’ narrow windowsills might be stacked with books or small boxes of favorite foods; the drawings they’ve hung on their walls may have been done by their kids, or by themselves. Even the smallest assertion of self has meaning and value.

Kwedar co-wrote the Sing Sing script with Clint Bentley (the duo also made the affecting 2021 drama Jockey), and the story they tell is drawn from the real-life Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA) program. The film features several actors who got their start through that initiative, including Maclin. His performance has a nervy kind of electricity: Divine Eye has been bruised by life, and by the system, but we can see his desire to climb back into the world as a new person, a more open and self-aware one. Domingo gives Maclin all the air and space he needs to create that character. That’s what a truly terrific actor does: he steps back and listens, instead of merely relishing his own lines. 

And even if Sing Sing shoulders some heavy-duty ideas about forgiveness and redemption, Kwedar also recognizes the value and delight of pure play. The troupe prepares a nutty, clever comedy Brent has written for them (adapted from a work that real-life RTA teacher Brent Buell developed for his students) that’s peopled with pirates, Egyptian kings, gladiators, and more—basically, a part for everybody. To watch this movie’s actors, many of them playing versions of the men they used to be not so long ago—to see them incorporating classic pop-locking moves into their swordplay, or tinkering with the phrasing of Hamlet’s soliloquy until it rings true to their experience—is to witness a cautious but joyful reawakening. If a group of forgotten men can pull this sort of thing off, then what excuse do the rest of us have? Outside prison walls or within them, those who stop growing have only themselves to blame.

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Jul 2024 | 7:00 am

Separating Truth From Fiction in the New Space Race Movie Fly Me to the Moon
'Fly Me to the Moon' movie still

In the walk-up to the 55th anniversary of the history-making Apollo 11 mission on July 20, Hollywood is hoping that a new movie about NASA staging a fake version of the moon landing will take off at the box office.

In Fly Me to the Moon, launching in theaters July 12, a Nixon White House aide (Woody Harrelson) sends NYC ad executive Kelly Jones (Scarlett Johansson) to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to oversee a fake version of the first moonwalk on a sound stage in case the real version doesn’t pan out. The idea is that the U.S.—then in the middle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union—can’t afford to fail. The White House wants the American people to see a win, and so goes full steam ahead in its race to be the first country to send a man to the moon more than a decade since the communist nation sent the first artificial satellite into orbit in 1957.

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People leaving the theater after Fly Me to the Moon may have two questions: Was there really a PR maven hired to “sell” the moon to the American people? And did the U.S. government really stage a fake moonwalk in case the actual Apollo 11 mission didn’t go to plan? Here’s the real history that inspired the movie. 

The real PR for the moon landing

To be clear, the government did not hire a PR maven to oversee the filming of a fake moon landing in case it could not pull off the mission.

“There was no special effort to ‘sell’ the Apollo program—especially not one aimed at raising funds for the agency either directly or indirectly,” Bill Barry, NASA’s chief historian from 2010 to 2020, who consulted on the script, tells TIME.

Of the roughly 400,000 people who worked on the moon mission, about three-quarters of those people worked for private contractors, who were providing services that they were allowed to market, according to Richard Jurek, co-author of Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program.

“They were the ones who built up NASA’s press kits and did advertising campaigns,” Jurek tells TIME. “They had to get NASA’s permission to do it, but they themselves were doing those [advertising] campaigns.”

It’s true that the astronauts wore Omega watches because the devices withstood all kinds of tests in different weather conditions. In the movie, Jones is approaching companies like Omega to set up marketing campaigns, but that’s not how it would have happened. The movie also implies that money from sponsorship deals was helping pay for the Apollo 11 mission, but that also did not really happen, according to Jurek.

'Fly Me to the Moon' movie still

It is stipulated on NASA’s website that “as a government agency, NASA will not promote or endorse or appear to promote or endorse a commercial product, service, or activity.” So sponsorships were definitely not part of the Apollo 11 PR campaign, Barry notes. Some astronauts have endorsed products, but only after they were no longer on NASA’s payroll.

“Among the NASA employees that I talked with about the script, this was the thing that caused the most laughs,” says Barry. “In dealing with the public in any form, I was regularly reminded by our legal folks that giving even the appearance of an endorsement for a commercial product would get me in big trouble.”

The real head of NASA’s public affairs division in the walk-up to the Apollo 11 moon landing was a journalist named Julian Scheer. He oversaw a team of ex-journalists who helped the news media cover the space program and profile the staffers and astronauts. Scheer was the one who insisted the first steps on the moon be broadcast on live television. In contrast to the Soviets, who did not let journalists in on the inner workings of the space program, NASA allowed their staffers and astronauts to speak freely.

In the walk-up to the moon landing, the PR gurus at NASA were largely concerned with what NASA would tell the world if the astronauts died during the mission, so countless statements were prepared that never got used. Once the Apollo 11 astronauts safely returned to the moon, NASA’s PR focused on convincing the public that the space program was still necessary to go back to the moon and explore other planets. As Jurek puts it: “Most people view NASA as just existing to get astronauts to the moon. So once we did that, it’s like, ‘Okay, now what?’”

The origins of the moon landing hoax theory

When it comes to the idea of a staged moonwalk being filmed, the answer is a little clearer. To most, at least.

“There’s no evidence whatsoever that NASA ever faked a moonwalk,” says Barry.

It’s true that there was a space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. American leaders feared that if the Soviets got to the moon first, then the communist government would be seen as the superior form of government, compared to the United States’ democracy. However, nothing suggests that the U.S. were so desperate in their mission that they contemplated faking a moon landing for the American public.

Yet, conspiracy theories persist today, with some doubting the successful Apollo 11 mission involving astronauts Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin took place at all. There are people who falsely believe that NASA staged the first moonwalk. Barry points out that if the U.S. faked the moon landing, the Soviet government would have been all over that.In fact, Soviet scientists did not question the legitimacy of the feat. The U.S. was also working with countries across the world to communicate with the Apollo spacecraft.

With that said, despite all of the physical rock samples brought from the moon and analyzed by a consortium of highly-respected scientists, a small minority of Americans still think that there was no way NASA had the budget or the time to fulfill President John F. Kennedy’s pledge to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. One 2021 University of New Hampshire poll found 10% of Americans believe NASA did not land on the moon.

'Fly Me to the Moon' movie still

“There’s only one week in the 1960s when everybody was in favor of spending more money on the space program—over 50% of Americans. That’s the week we landed on the moon,” says Barry.  

According to Peter Knight, author of Conspiracy Culture: From the Kennedy Assassination to “The X-Files,” the conspiracy theory that the moon landing was a hoax can be traced back to a self-published 1976 book We Never Went to the Moon: America’s Thirty Billion Dollar Swindle by Bill Kaysing, a former U.S. naval officer. The basic premise is that NASA couldn’t make JFK’s deadline so they sent astronauts into Earth’s orbit and staged a moonwalk in a film studio. To some, Kaysing’s military credentials made it seem like he had some kind of inside knowledge. 

The book also fit with the culture of the times. The 1970s marked the beginning of years of decline in trust of the U.S. government—between the bungled Vietnam War and Watergate scandals. Conspiracy theories about the sudden assassination of JFK in 1963 had been swirling for years.

“For many people, there was a feeling that the government had been lying,” Knight tells TIME. “That’s the context in which the Kaysing book comes out.” 

The 1978 fictional film Capricorn One, about NASA staging a fake Mars landing, only fanned the flames. And then Kaysing’s ideas gained popularity in the 1980s among “flat-Earthers,” conspiracy theorists who falsely believe that the Earth is flat. Over the years, his false theory spread through talk radio, zines, books, and gun shows in the era before social media. 

Moon landing hoax conspiracy theories may be more widespread among Russian citizens than U.S. citizens. A 2020 Russian Public Opinion Research Center poll found half of Russians believed the 1969 moon landing never took place. Offering an explanation as to why the moon landing hoax conspiracy theory endures among some Americans, Knight says: “A lot of people felt if we can’t cure our problems at home, what are we doing trying to engage in some kind of fantasy idea of space exploration? So I think the conspiracy theories speak to some of those concerns.”

When asked whether a movie featuring a staged moon landing could make people wonder if the entire moon landing was a hoax, Barry says he believes anyone who sees the movie will see right off the bat that the film is not a documentary, but a clear parody of conspiracy theorists and a romantic comedy. And for the skeptics, there is plenty of online evidence that “we did land on the moon, not just once, but six times.”

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 12 Jul 2024 | 7:00 am

Shelley Duvall, Star of The Shining and Nashville, Dies at 75
Shelley Duvall in a scene from the movie '3 Women', 1977.

Shelley Duvall, the intrepid, Texas-born movie star whose wide-eyed, winsome presence was a mainstay in the films of Robert Altman and who co-starred in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, has died. She was 75.

Duvall died Thursday in her sleep at her home in Blanco, Texas, her longtime partner, Dan Gilroy, announced. The cause was complications of diabetes, said her friend, the publicist Gary Springer.

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“My dear, sweet, wonderful life, partner, and friend left us last night,” Gilroy said in a statement. “Too much suffering lately, now she’s free. Fly away beautiful Shelley.”

Duvall was attending junior college in Texas when Altman’s staff members, preparing to film Brewster McCloud, encountered her as at a party in Houston in 1970. She would go on to become Altman’s protege.

Duvall would go on to appear in Altman films including Thieves Like Us, Nashville, Popeye, Three Women” and “McCabe & Ms. Miller.

“He offers me … good roles,” Duvall told The New York Times in 1977. “None of them have been alike. He has a great confidence in me, and a trust and respect for me, and he doesn’t put any restrictions on me or intimidate me, and I love him. I remember the first advice he ever gave me: ‘Don’t take yourself seriously.’”

Duvall, gaunt and gawky, was no conventional Hollywood starlet. But she had a beguiling frank manner and exuded a singular naturalism. The film critic Pauline Kael called her the “female Buster Keaton.”

At her peak, Duvall was a regular star in some of the defining movies of the 1970s and 1980s. In The Shining, she played Wendy Torrance, who watches in horror as her husband, Jack (Jack Nicholson), goes crazy while their family is isolated in the Overlook Hotel. It was Duvall’s screaming face that made up half of the film’s most iconic image, along with Jack’s axe coming through the door.

But Duvall disappeared from movies almost as quickly as she arrived in them. By the 1990s, she began retiring from acting. Her last film role was in 2002’s Manna From Heaven. Duvall retreated from public life. Earlier this year she gave her first interview in years.

“How would you feel if people were really nice, and then, suddenly, on a dime”—she snapped her fingers—“they turn on you?” Duvall told the Times. “You would never believe it unless it happens to you. That’s why you get hurt, because you can’t really believe it’s true.”

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 11 Jul 2024 | 12:20 pm

Teen Torture Inc. Is the Latest Documentary to Explore Abuses at Youth Treatment Centers
A scene from a new Max docu-series called Teen Torture, Inc.

For decades, troubled teens have been sent by their parents or the state to residential rehabilitation programs, where they were subject to physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Now, survivors are speaking out.

One of the most popular documentaries on Netflix is The Program: Cons, Cults, and Kidnapping, which debuted March 5. In it, director Katherine Kubler brought together fellow survivors of a remote upstate New York facility called Ivy Ridge to talk about the verbal and physical abuses they endured there.

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In a Congressional hearing June 26, Paris Hilton argued for more oversight over foster care programs. She opened up about her own traumatizing experience as a teen at Provo Canyon School in Utah, where she says she was stripped naked and kept in solitary confinement.

Now, two weeks after Hilton’s testimony, Teen Torture, Inc. begins streaming on Max starting today (July 11). In the three-part docuseries directed by Tara Malone, former Provo Canyon School residents and patients in similar facilities nationwide speak out about their experiences.

Advocates believe that there are about 100,000 teens in such residential programs each year, but the exact number is unclear because they aren’t tracked by the U.S. government. They are often a last resort for parents struggling with children with behavioral problems, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse issues. Depending on the state, these rehab centers—a multi-billion-dollar industry—have few regulations, and there are no overarching federal standards governing them. Many are faith-based facilities designed to convert teens into born-again Christians and are therefore exempt from regulation in some states. Licensed medical professionals can be scarce in these facilities, and some accused of abuse have closed and reopened under new names with some of the same staffers.

Jen Robison, who spent a harrowing year at Provo Canyon School, says staffers shaved her head without her consent and nicknamed her “Auschwitz,” after the Holocaust death camp. One day, when she was scared to get out of bed, she described two staffers grabbing her by the arms and ankles and pulling her out of the top bunk of a bunk bed, slamming her body on the floor. She recalls being dragged down the hallway by her ankles to an observation cell, a form of solitary confinement. Fast-forwarding to the present day, the series shows how Robison has overcome that traumatic experience. Cameras follow her and her partner playing with their young daughter at their home in southern Oregon. “The kid that I was at PCS could never ever have imagined that she would get to have the life that I have,” she says.

In a statement to the series, Provo Canyon School denied using solitary confinement and says it’s licensed by Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services. It also said that the program came under new ownership in 2000, so it can’t comment on the operations or student experience before that time—though Robison was first admitted in 2003.

Read more: Teen girls are facing a mental health epidemic

Many of the survivors in Teen Torture Inc. say their misbehavior as young people was actually a cry for help. Allen Knoll, who spent ages 10 to 15 in two different therapeutic boarding schools in Mississippi and Missouri, said a family friend molested him when he was 9. “I didn’t know how to talk about it, and I acted out,” he says in Troubled Teen Inc. He describes being waterboarded at Bethel Boys Academy in Mississippi, and says one staffer held him down to the floor with a foot on his chest while another dumped buckets of water on him. The film includes an interview with Esther Fountain, the daughter of Herman Fountain, a founder of the Bethel Boys Academy, who speaks out for the first time about watching her father beat the boys.

The documentary lists Fountain as one of the individuals who did not comment for Teen Torture, Inc. and Fountain did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.

Knoll got a form of justice in 2021, when Missouri governor Mike Parson signed a bill into law that Knoll lobbied for, requiring background checks for staffers and volunteers at child residential homes.

One of the most influential promoters of these programs has been the talk show host Phillip “Dr. Phil” McGraw. Parents would send their kids to Turn-About Ranch in Utah because they heard him talking it up on his show. Teen Torture Inc. focuses on one episode of Dr. Phil that went viral because of the defiant behavior of 13-year-old Danielle Bregoli who was learning she would be sent to Turn-About Ranch for six months. In fact, she says she felt ambushed. “The whole time I’m looking at him, like, this isn’t therapy,” Bregoli—now a rapper known as Bhad Bhabie who boasts 16-million followers on Instagram—says in the docuseries. The series says McGraw declined a request for comment.

Through documentaries like Teen Torture, Inc., survivors say they hope they can reach the general public directly and motivate them to support legislation to regulate residential treatment facilities for troubled teens or support reforms that help teens get access to psychiatrists and therapists closer to their homes. While these programs are designed to treat mental health issues, survivors say they came out of these facilities more troubled than when they entered. As Bregoli put it, patients “will come back with depression. They will come back with anxiety. I have to live like this for the rest of my f***ing life.”

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 11 Jul 2024 | 9:00 am

Fly Me to the Moon Is a Lighthearted Conspiracy Romp. But It Speaks to a Spiritual Sickness
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NASA made good use of the safe within a safe. The outer safe was where the space agency kept archival material, classified documents, and other papers not intended for public disclosure. The inner safe was where they kept the materials not intended even for people within NASA. It was there the Apollo 1 tape was stored—the voices from the spacecraft cockpit when astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee died in a launch pad fire on Jan. 27, 1967.

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Virtually no one ever heard the Apollo 1 tape until NASA at last lifted the classification as part of a broad release of Apollo-era recordings in 2018, and the recording found its way to the Internet. It is barely 20 seconds long, but once heard, the sounds from the spacecraft—White shouting, “Hey, we’ve got a fire in the cockpit!”; Chaffee emitting a raw and awful death cry—can never be unheard. The recording is deeply primal, deeply personal, and never should have been declassified.

It is to the credit of the movie Fly Me to the Moon, a new comedy starring Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum about faking the Apollo 11 moon landing, that it opens with the fire and, in effect, a tribute to the lost astronauts. It is to the movie’s supreme discredit that it uses the actual recording—not once, but twice—violating the lost men’s privacy in the service of a Hollywood confection.

The filmmakers behind Fly Me to the Moon, which was directed by TV super-producer Greg Berlanti, surely pride themselves on having done their homework in both big and small ways—with the authenticity of the tape being just one example. Multiple scenes in the movie take place at Wolfie’s restaurant and the Holiday Inn Cocoa Beach, both of which were Cape Canaveral landmarks in the early days of the space program. The average age of the engineers in Mission Control is put at 26, which is exactly what it was. When the three Apollo 11 astronauts are being led to the van that will take them to the launch pad, two of them—the two who will walk on the moon—are seen with a large gray rectangle on the back of their spacesuits, where their life-support backpacks will attach, while the third astronaut’s suit is all white. Overlooking such a fine detail would surely not be noticed by most people but would immediately give away the game to space fans and historians.

But then there is the movie’s storyline. The longstanding conspiratorial fever-dream about the moon landings being faked was based on the narrative that by 1969, NASA knew it could not make President John F. Kennedy’s end-of-the-decade deadline for having American astronauts on the lunar surface, so the celebrated first moon walk was actually shot on a sound stage. Some of the accounts have an anonymous director helming the fakery; some have Stanley Kubrick, because, um, something about 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is this narrative—sans Kubrick—that Fly Me to the Moon offers up, with Johansson as an advertising executive who is behind the fraud, Tatum as a straight-arrow flight director who at first is duped by the ruse, and Woody Harrelson as a James McCord-like functionary in the Nixon administration who presses Johansson into service.

The story moves along lightly enough. The sound stage is rendered convincingly; the mock-up of the lunar module is gorgeously authentic-looking; and the cables under which the actors-astronauts bounce to simulate the moon’s one-sixth gravity indeed give them the kangaroo-hop that was the signature gait of the actual moon walkers. When the cables tangle and the astronauts wind up suspended in mid-air, the (real) movie earns an out-loud laugh as the exasperated (fake movie) director commands, “Let them hang there and think about what they did.”

But all of this happens in the service of what, exactly? In one very telling moment, Tatum’s character learns the truth about the cosmic counterfeiting and warns Johansson’s character that if word gets out, everything positive NASA has done will be doubted, all of the good will it has built up will be destroyed. The line-reading is set in 1969, but the loss of faith in public institutions is very much of a piece with 2024.

Former President Donald Trump has made it part of his campaign currency to cast doubt on the integrity of the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CDC, NATO, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and virtually all of his political opponents. Trump, however, is merely the ne-plus-ultra of a long decline in national trust. When the moon landings were unfolding, the U.S. military was considered deeply suspect due to the depredations of the Vietnam War. The entire executive branch faced disgrace shortly afterward as Watergate unspooled. Those messes were followed by Iran-Contra, the Clinton impeachment, the faux claim of weapons of mass destruction that led to the Iraq war, and the collapse of financial markets due to the wholesale fraud that was mortgage-backed securities.

And that wasn’t all. Politicians lied about the affordable care act (death panels!), about President Obama (born in Kenya!), about the 2020 election (stolen!). Sports was beset by cheating—juicing and alleged juicing by Lance Armstrong, Bobby Bonds, Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire; sign-stealing by the Houston Astros; Tom Brady and his deflated footballs. Congress—once-august—has descended into cat-calling chaos, with presidents being heckled during State of the Union addresses, both parties retreating to their extremist corners, and the likes of Anthony Weiner and George Santos leaving in disgrace.

All of this is fresh soil for deep cynicism. Conspiracy theories have always been with us—people have been litigating the Kennedy assassination for 61 years. Flat-Earthers precede JFK by centuries. But recent generations—with climate change denialism, anti-vax nonsense, and 9/11 lies—have only seen things grow worse as social media serves as an accelerant for divisive, wholly un-fact-checked nonsense. Into this mix comes Fly Me to the Moon. Yes, it is too much to say that a simple work of popular entertainment will lead to an even greater decline in our belief in public institutions in general and NASA in particular.

“Media tends to reflect more than cause attitudes,” says Joseph Parent, professor of political science at Notre Dame University and co-author of the book American Conspiracy Theories. “In our book, we checked for causal relations between popular presentations of conspiracy theories and the prevalence of conspiracy theories. Nothing doing. I’m sure somebody somewhere was influenced, but it didn’t move the needle generally.”

If Parent is right, Fly Me to the Moon is more symptom than source of our growing doubt in our institutions. The movie can be seen as the light diversion that it is—and it’s surely entertaining enough—but also as one more sign of our cultural fever, our infection with the bug of public mistrust. NASA, it could be argued, deserves this kind of treatment less than almost any part of the culture. For 66 years now, the space agency has achieved sublime things—robots on Mars, boots on the moon, spacecraft slaloming through the rings and moons of the outer planets. NASA and America have paid a terrible price too—Grissom, White, Chaffee, the Challenger crew, the Columbia crew. The deaths were real, the triumphs are real, the nine crewed lunar trips manifestly were real. 
Fly Me to the Moon can have its fun. But it’s fun that comes at a spiritual price.

Source: Entertainment – TIME | 11 Jul 2024 | 7:00 am

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