Tyler Perry Interview @ MVAAFF: ‘A Jazzman’s Blues’, His Jazz Music Inspirations, And His World War II Film

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August 7, 2022 1:43pm

A Jazzman’s Blues, Director Tyler Perry and Joshua Boone as Bayou.
Cr.
Jace Downs / ©2022 Netflix

I sat in the green room waiting for actor and director Tyler Perry to arrive backstage at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center for the Colors of Conversation event during the Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival. Before he hit the stage for the panel, there was only a short window to interview him about his new project, A Jazzman’s Blues, a script he had written in the 1990s. 

Many know him from the Medea movies, which some think has limited his cinematic scope in terms of what he can do, but Perry is out to prove the naysayers wrong. “Filming this was very much like, ‘I know something you don’t know,” he said. “For my whole career, people would say that Madea is all I can do. Now, 26 years later, I have The Jazzman’s Blues.”

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It’s an idea that he couldn’t shake. Imagine what it’s like to hold on to an idea and then finally be able to execute said idea all these years later. According to Pretty, right here, right now, is the best time to present his story to the world. “At this time in America, t1=here’s an assault on our history. I feel wonderful that I could do that right now.”

The Jazzman’s Blues follows Bayou (Joshua Boone), a singer from the deep south who falls in love with Leanne (Solea Pfeiffer) and follows the group through forty years of secrets and lies. The director pulled all the stops by hiring legendary dancer/actress Debbie Allen to choreograph and Terrance Blanchard to arrange and produce the music. When describing the emotional trajectory of the main character from the beginning to the end of the film, the director was very passionate about displaying all of the hardships and emotions that come with being a Black man in the deep south.

“[Bayou] entire arc is about the emotions, love, anger, and the frustration most of us carry throughout life at some point or another. Joshua Boone does an amazing job at delivering a strong performance. Watching him be able to express all of those different emotions and get to this reunion of sorts is extremely powerful to watch.” 

Perry grew up in the deep south, in rural Louisiana, which Jazz was an influence on him. This experience gave him a special connection to the material. “Jazz was very much the soundtrack of my life,” he said. Many of the pillars of the music genre that inspired his upbringing have music featured in the film. Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughn, Duke Ellington, and all these incredible, amazing voices inspire me.”

As our time together drew to a close, I had to ask Perry if he planned to work on other projects. A Jazzman’s Blues exists outside of the Medeaverse and anything else he’s done until now. However, he understands that his recent filmography shouldn’t be ignored, as it helped him get to where he is. “The Madea films were for my target, my audience. I made sure to serve the niche, which put me in a position where I could take the time to write and execute other stories.”

As I pressed him a bit more about what we can expect from future Tyler Perry, you’d be surprised as to what he’s up to. “The next film I’ve just written is a World War II movie. I’ll be playing with space and bigger sets for sure.”

There is no release date for A Jazzman’s Blues (which will stream to Netflix). Also, there are no specific details on the WWII film just yet. However, he did announce during the Colors of Conversation event that the film would debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022. 

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‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’ Shows Heat For A24 – Specialty Box Office

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August 7, 2022 12:53pm

‘Bodies Bodies Bodies’
Gwen Capistran/A24

A24’s Bodies Bodies Bodies hit theaters with the highest per-screen average this weekend in a limited opening, and the second best of the year. That record was set last spring with Everything Everywhere All at Once as this indie distributor piles up successes.

Halina Reijn’s Gen-Z whodunnit comedy grossed $226,526 on six screens in NY and LA for a PSA of $37,754. Everything Everywhere opened to over half a million dollars on 10 screens in NYC, LA and San Francisco in late March for a PSA of $50,965, a pre-Covid kind of number.

Bodies, a fresh take on the murder mystery in a stormy house party game gone awry, with a young ensemble cast of Amandla Stenberg, Maria Bakalova, Pete Davidson, Rachel Sennott and Lee Pace, expands to about 1,200 screens next weekend.

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The film, which premiered at SXSW, had sellouts on both coasts where it played NYC’s Lincoln Square, Union Square, Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn, and LA’s AMC Century City, Grove and Burbank. With a 91% from critics and an 80% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, Bodies looks well set up for a strong run through the rest of summer and beyond for A24, which has had tremendous success slinging arthouse fare for key younger demos.

Breakdown: Friday – $94,762; Saturday – $71,224; Sunday – $60,540.

Tribeca Film Festival

Oscilloscope’s Claydream, Marq Evans’ documentary about Oscar-winning claymation pioneer Will Vinton, grossed a solid $4,550 in an exclusive opening at New York’s Quad Cinema, easily taking the spot in complex. It expands to LA next week, as well as Portland. where Will Vinton Studios was based and the film has hefty presales. It’s 100% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

Claydream will have a full theatrical window and expand to top markets throughout August and beyond.

Holdovers: Focus Features presentation of Blumhouse’s Vengeance grossed $710,000 (-60%) in week two in 1,001 theaters for an estimated cume to date of $3.3 million.

Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris, also from Focus, grossed an estimated $560,000 (-40%) at 669 theaters in week four for a domestic cume of $8 million.

Focus and the Angelika Film Center just announced an initiative call “See More To Earn More” that gives members of the cinema chain’s new, free loyalty program bonus points, popcorn and merchandise for seeing Focus Features films including  Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, Vengeance and upcoming Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul (Sept. 2), The Silent Twins (Sept. 16); TÁR (Oct. 7), Armageddon Time (Oct. 28) and Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies (Dec. 2).

Bleecker Street’s A Love Song, in week two, earned $19,075 on 18 screens for a weekend PSA of $1,059 and a domestic cume through Sunday of $40,375.

Lena Dunham’s Sharp Stick from Utopia grossed $20,195 in week two on 54 screens for a PSA of $374 and cumulative gross of $42,968.

Back to A24, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On took in $318,150 on 498 screens in week seven for a cumulative gross of $4.91 million. Everything Everywhere — the distributors highest grossing film ever — stood at  at $129,350 on 347 screens in week 20 for a cume of $69.5 million.

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‘Doc Hollywood’: In A Twist, Democrats Attack A Senate Candidate, Mehmet Oz, For His Showbiz Ties

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August 7, 2022 12:47pm

Senate hopefuls Dr. Mehmet Oz and John Fetterman
GI; Mega Agency

In a recent ad spot from John Fetterman, the Pennsylvania lieutenant governor running for an open U.S. Senate seat, he attacked his rival, Mehmet Oz, as “not one of us” and part of the wealthy entertainment elite.

“Hey, Doc Hollywood, save your money, Pennsylvania is not for sale,” Fetterman said in the spot, as video ran of Oz, the longtime syndicated daytime TV host, kissing his star on the Walk of Fame.

It’s certainly not a novel for a campaign to try to tar a rival for for Hollywood ties, but this time it’s a Democrat, Fetterman, trying to tar a Republican, Oz, for his showbiz embrace. It’s a bit of a twist on a common campaign tactic used by the right against their leftward opponents, who have for generations enjoyed a dominance in Hollywood fundraising and endorsements.

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In countering Oz’s name recognition, Fetterman even has tried to weaponize celebrity, as when his campaign enlisted Snooki from Jersey Shore to troll Oz in a Cameo spoof, meant to highlight his move from New Jersey to Pennsylvania and play on the disdain that the Keystone State has for its neighbor.

Mehmet Oz at the Walk of Fame ceremony in February.
(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

Oz has been trying to take a page from the playbook of Donald Trump, who has endorsed him, by touting his personal brand as just what is needed to take on the Washington establishment. His campaign logo features the same squared off box as his TV show.

Like Trump, Oz also has relished the limelight, serving as Grand Marshall of the Hollywood Christmas Parade, attending red carpet events and Daytime Emmy Awards, for which he has won three times for hosting and the show four times as outstanding talk show.

Even after announcing his Senate run, Oz appeared on the Wall of Fame for a ceremony in February to unveil his star, or which recipients are responsible for a $50,000 sponsorship fee.

At the event, Oz connected the Walk of Fame ceremony itself to his Pennsylvania campaign. He told TMZ, “I think that our state is a wonderful microcosm of the entire country, that you actually have to get people on both sides of the aisle to talk to each other. That’s why I kept talking about the fact that, the glint of that star that Hollywood star, reflects the divine spark, the divinity in our eyes, when we look at each other we see it, so love each other and respect each other.”

His chief rival for the Republican nomination, David McCormick, took note, as his campaign attacked Oz as spending his life putting Fame and Hollywood First.”. A McCormick affiliated PAC already had been up with a spot pegging Oz as a “Hollywood liberal.” “Dr. Oz may be right for Hollywood, but he’s wrong for Pennsylvania.”

John Fetterman in a recent ad.
Screenshot

The Trump endorsement, however, helped Oz narrowly defeat McCormick in the primary. Fetterman has, to a certain extent, picked up where Oz’s former rival left off. That has meant continued attacks on Oz’s background as a longtime out-of-state resident of Cliffside Park, NJ. As he tries to make inroads among rural and working class voters, Fetterman, often in hoodie and showing off his tattoos, also is attempting to contrast himself to Oz, with the implication being that “Doc Hollywood” is out of touch.

Fetterman has called for raising the minimum wage, protecting unions, addressing climate change, preserving abortion rights and advocating for “compassionate response to immigration reform,” all issues in sync with most Democrats.

Sean Parnell, who dropped out of the GOP Senate primary race last year, told NBC News in May that Fetterman is “sort of Democrat blue-collar hammer-swinging folk hero. He’s not that. So it’s going to be the Republican nominee’s job to point that out and to show that.”

Polls suggest that Fetterman has made inroads. The RealClearPolitics average has him up more than eight points over Oz. A recent Fox News poll, which showed Fetterman with an 11 point lead, showed that fewer Republicans were staying loyal to Oz, 73%, versus Democrats to Fetterman, at 89%.

Dr. Oz ad screenshot

“The juxtaposition of Fetterman as someone who was born in the state, went to school in the state, was a mayor in the state, against an opponent who has lived in New Jersey and has come [into the public eye] through television — the connection to Hollywood is pretty potent,” said Christopher Borick, professor of political science at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

Borick noted that Fetterman is essentially linking Oz’s Hollywood connections to his New Jersey residency, both places that aren’t quite “beloved” in Pennsylvania.

“Certainly celebrities here, like anywhere, can help bring attention and, speaking to the right audience, can bring energy to a campaign,” he said. “Their role isn’t always one that is damaging. But it can have a downside, particularly if you are linked to a place that is not a positive to voters.”

Republicans have for some time tried to turn a rival’s Hollywood ties into a negative. Josh Hawley tried to link Claire McCaskill to Harvey Weinstein in his 2018 Senate race. Four years earlier, allies of Mitch McConnell fashioned a mock Hollywood Squares graphic to connect his rival Alison Grimes to Hollywood liberals.

Like other Democrats in hotly contested Senate races this cycle, Fetterman has drawn on Hollywood donors. They include Barbra Streisand, Don Henley, Damon Lindelof, David Mandel, Christian Bale, Marg Helgenberger, Mark Ruffalo, Heather Thomas and John Leguizamo.

Mathew Littman, Los Angeles-based Democratic political strategist, said that Fetterman is not trying to say that “people in the entertainment industry are bad people, but that Oz is a showman, that he is not sincere and that he is out of touch with reality.”

On Ted Nugent’s podcast last spring, Oz argued that his background is an asset. “It’s not bad to be in entertainment. I never lived in Hollywood. I refused to move out there. I like where I live now. But fundamentally, you learn to wage wars against woke ideology, against media that has been perverted. You have to hold your own. The values I have are shared with my fellow citizens of Pennsylvania, and they know that I will fight for them.”

Oz’s campaign has tried to characterize Fetterman as a socialist, pointing to his past support for Bernie Sanders, while trying to undercut his image as a “blue collar tough guy.” Oz has called him a “pretend populist,” but also is trying to make an issue of Fetterman’s absence from the campaign trail. After suffering a stroke just before the Democratic primary, Fetterman plans to return to the trail on Friday at a campaign rally.

A spokesperson for Oz’s campaign told Deadline, “No amount of memes or attacks will distract Pennsylvanians from the paychecks, safety, and job security stolen from them by the radical Biden-Fetterman agenda.” The spokesperson added, “It has been 84 days since John Fetterman’s last public campaign event. He’s been hiding in his basement, avoiding having to publicly answer for his radical, liberal views.”

Borick said that Oz has to be “very careful about not to capitalize on someone’s personal health struggles,” but said that his attacks on Fetterman’s suburban upbringing and parental support as an adult was “probably a better avenue to go down.”

Kathryn Cramer Brownell, associate professor of history at Purdue University and author of Showbiz Politics: Hollywood in American Political Life, noted that “the Republican party has been more successful at turning celebrities into candidates, and the Democratic party has been more successful as getting celebrities to raise money.”

When he entered politics, Reagan, too, faced attacks that he was too much style over substance, she said, but tried to turn his showbiz past into a strength. He recast himself as a “citizen politician” who can “connect more intimately with a voter.”

Trump took his celebrity to another level, seeing ratings as currency and his ability to perform as one of his greatest assets, particularly when it came to stoking resentment. Unlike Oz, he never won an Emmy, but he also tried to use that grievance to his advantage. At one of their presidential debates in 2016, Hillary Clinton mocked Trump for accusing the Emmys of being rigged, and he responded, “I should have gotten it.”

“This is a mindset. This is how Donald thinks, and it’s funny, but it’s also really troubling,” Clinton said.

Oz has noted that his Walk of Fame star is “next to Ronald Reagan’s, and just down the road from Donald Trump’s,” but it’s an open question as to whether he shares with them the same political savvy or ability to connect with voters.

Fetterman is betting that he can neutralize Oz’s fame and withstand Democrats’ midterm challenges with something different and even a bit irreverent. “I do not look like a typical politician,” he said in one of his first ad spots. “I don’t even look like a typical person.”

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Roger E. Mosley Dies: ‘Magnum P.I.’ Actor And Film/TV Veteran Was 83

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August 7, 2022 12:27pm

Getty Images

Roger E. Mosley, best known as the helicopter pilot Theodore “T.C.” Calvin in the CBS television series Magnum P.I., died early Sunday morning. No cause of death was given.

Mosley was on the original Magnum P.I. for its eight-year run, appearing in 158 episodes, then came back to the rebooted CBS series for a cameo as a different character.

Born in Los Angeles, he lived in the Watts neighborhood and attended Jordan High School

In addition to Magnum P.I., he appeared on the television shows Love Boat, Night Gallery, Sanford and Son, Kung Fu, Kojak, McCloud, The Rockford Files, The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams, Starsky and Hutch, You Take the Kids, Night Court, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, Walker, Texas Ranger, Rude Awakening, Las Vegas, Fact Checkers Unit and many more.

Mosley’s film credits included several Blaxploitation films, including The Mack, Hit Man, Sweet Jesus, Preacherman, Darktown Strutters and The River Niger.

He was also in the films McQ (with John Wayne), The Greatest (as Sonny Liston), Semi-Tough, Heart Condition, and Pentathlon. and A Thin Line Between Love & Hate (with Martin Lawrence(

Survivors include three children.

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Senate Passes Climate, Health And Tax Package After Marathon Session; Legislation Heads To House

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August 7, 2022 12:22pm

UPDATE: The Senate on Sunday passed a $700 billion package to address climate change, curb the rising cost of prescription drugs and extend Affordable Care Act benefits.

Senate Democrats broke out in applause after Vice President Kamala Harris announced the 50-50 vote and broke the tie for passage.

The Inflation Reduction Act, a compromise forged by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), next heads to the House, expected to vote on Friday.

The legislation will raise revenue in part through a 15% minimum take on major corporations that make profits of $1 billion a year.

The passage came after an all-night and all-day long series of votes on amendments to the legislation, a process that has been dubbed “vote-a-rama.”

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“It has been a long sought winding road, but at a last we have arrived,” Schumer said on the floor before the final Senate vote. “I know it has been a long day and long night, but we have gotten it done.”

After passage, he predicted that the bill would “change America for decades.” “To those of you who have lost faith that Congress can do big things, this bill is for you,” he said.

It marks the largest federal investment in fighting climate change, at about $400 billion. It also extends additional Affordable Care Act subsidies, and allows Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices. The latter is a provision that has been a long-sought Democratic priority that has been opposed by the pharmaceutical industry. The bill also caps seniors’ out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs at $2,000 annually.

The legislation also includes $300 billion for deficit reduction.

The passage was a key victory for Schumer and Democrats, who for more than a year debated over a giant package, at one time as large as $3.5 trillion. But Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) held out on supporting such a package, called the Build Back Better Act.

By mid-afternoon on Sunday, it appeared as if the legislation may be in jeopardy, as Sinema had misgivings about provisions of the corporate minimum tax. She backed an amendment offered by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) to narrow the scope of the minimum tax. Although it passed, Democrats followed it up with another amendment to raise more revenue by extending limitations on deductions for corporate losses.

Democrats fell short in an effort to include in the legislation a $35 cap on the cost of insulin. Seven Republicans joined with all Democrats on the cap, but that was three short of the 60 needed.

The fact that the legislation got no Republican support was little surprise. Democrats had from the start pursued the bill through the budget reconciliation process, in which certain types of legislation can advance by simple majority and avoid a filibuster.

The pressure was on Democrats to pass legislation before the midterms, which typically sees the party in power suffer a loss of seats, if not their majority.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) chided Democrats for passing such a massive bill with no Republicans votes. “The last time Senate Democrats tried to remake the economy on party lines, they shoved American families into the worst inflation in 40 years,” he said. “Democrats got all-you-can-eat liberal spending and working families got stuck with the bill.”

But when Senate Republicans were in the majority in 2017, they passed a $1.5 trillion tax reform bill along party lines, also using the budget reconciliation process.

PREVIOUSLY: The Senate on Saturday voted to advance a $700 billion package to address climate change, curb the rising cost of prescription drugs and extend Affordable Care Act benefits.

The bill also will make a number of changes to the tax code, including the establishment of a 15% corporate minimum tax, intended to target major conglomerates that avoid paying taxes through a mixture of loopholes and other accounting maneuvers.

The legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act, now likely has the votes for final passage, a big victory for a centerpiece of President Joe Biden’s agenda, which looked to have stalled out earlier last month. The vote was 50-50 to bring the legislation to the floor, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking the ties.

Before it clears the Senate, the legislation will have to go through a lengthy process of debates and what is referred to as vote-a-rama, in which Republicans and Democrats are expected to offer an array of amendments can be offered. That is expected to last until early in the morning on Sunday. Democrats have been working toward passage of the bill through the intricate legislative process of reconciliation, which allows bills to get to the floor by simple majority rather than the usual 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster.

Once the legislation passes, it will head to the House, where a vote is scheduled for next Friday.

“The Inflation Reduction Act is a groundbreaking bill for the American people: for families struggling to pay the bills, for seniors struggling to pay for medications, for kids struggling with asthma,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the floor of the Senate before the vote to proceed. “This bill is for them.”

Schumer and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) surprised Capitol Hill last week when they announced agreement on a proposal for $300 billion in deficit reduction and $370 billion in climate change and energy programs over the next decade. Manchin had been a holdout on Democrats’ more ambitious Build Back Better legislation, leading many Republicans to believe that any kind of major bill was dead.

The bill also would extend an expansion of the Affordable Care Act through 2025, and allow for Medicare to negotiate for prescription drugs.

The 15% minimum tax, meanwhile, would apply to companies that report $1 billion in profit, and impact those conglomerates who have been paying well below the 21% corporate rate. The legislation also anticipates increased IRS enforcement.

There have been some additional changes to the legislation to win the support of another Democratic centrist, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), who demanded that the legislation remove a tax provision that would have limited the carried interest loophole. She also sought a preservation of bonus depreciation for companies.

Instead, a new provision was added to the legislation to add a 1% tax to stock buybacks.

The corporate minimum tax is aimed at companies that pay less than the 21% corporate rate using tax loopholes. When a 15% minimum was proposed tax last year, its chief backers Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Angus King (I-ME) singled out Amazon, noting that it paid 4.3% in federal tax on the $45 billion in corporate profits over the past three years.

Content and media companies also have had varying effective tax rates, which factor in deductions and state and local taxes. Netflix’s effective rate was 12.39% in 2021, while Comcast’s was 27.54%, according to CSI Market data.

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‘Bullet Train’ Clocks $62.5M Global Bow; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Overtakes ‘Doctor Strange 2’ & ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Crosses $1.35B WW – International Box Office

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August 7, 2022 9:33am

Sony Pictures

Refresh for latest…: Coming in just slightly ahead of pre-weekend projections, Sony’s Bullet Train pulled into 57 overseas markets for a $32.4M international box office launch. When including the domestic start, the global debut is $62.5M.

The Brad Pitt-starrer rode to the biggest offshore opening for a non-IP studio film since Tenet, and is tracking similar to Murder On The Orient Express and Kingsman: The Secret Service.

As with Stateside, audience reactions are beating critical notes abroad, and there are still several key markets to come as the holidays continue.

This is a significant weekend given Bullet Train is the last major studio tentpole of the summer. Since May, we’ve been spoiled with near-weekly milestones on several titles, and notably as Top Gun: Maverick has continued to defy the laws of gravity.

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Before we dig deeper into Bullet Train‘s overseas scores, let’s take a beat and note that Jurassic World Dominion has become the No. 2 worldwide grosser of 2022 (aided by China where few others have had access). JWD is second to Top Gun: Maverick which has crossed $1.35B (without China). Thor: Love And Thunder (also sans China) is essentially at $700M.

Now comes Bullet Train, which has a chance to leg out decently. We hear that some of the individual characters are helping propel certain markets outside the older-skewing demo (think Bad Bunny in Latin America). Let’s see what happens as there are still markets to come amid the next few quiet weeks in the latter part of summer — which is devoid of new major wide releases from the studios (Uni/Focus’ Nope will be new offshore next week, however). Outside the studios, local titles have helped keep overall moviegoing humming, though some of that is happening in China where U.S. relations soured even further this past week.

For Bullet Train, overseas play was led by the UK with a $3.5M start, followed by France at $3.1M, Mexico delivering $3M, Australia rolling to $2.2M and Saudi Arabia clocking $1.9M.

Other market debuts include the UAE‘s $1.3M. Germany‘s $1.5M, Spain‘s $1.4M and Taiwan‘s $1.3M. The IMAX portion of the global bow is $4.1M.

Key markets still to release: South Korea (24-Aug), Italy (25-Aug), and Japan (1-Sept). 

MINIONS: THE RISE OF GRU
Universal

Elsewhere, Universal/Illumination’s Minions: The Rise Of Gru had a solid hold, down 42% in its 7th offshore frame for a $15.9M weekend in 80 markets. The overseas total is now $423.3M for $757.9 global. Internationally, the origins story is performing in line with Minions and Despicable Me 3 at the same point of release.

The top holdover market this session was Korea where there is a host of big local competition. The cume to date is $14.6M to overtake the lifetime of the first Minions as well as Soul, making this the market’s biggest Hollywood animation of the pandemic (in restated dollars). In Australia, where Gru released early, it is now the top movie of the entire franchise at a running cume of $28.3M.

Other standout markets include the UK ($44M), Brazil ($28.3M), Germany ($26.1M) and Japan and France each at $20M. Italy is still to release later this month.

WB

Warner Bros’ DC League Of Super-Pets woofed up another $11.4M this weekend in 67 markets (-41% hold). The offshore cume is now $38.3M with the worldwide tally at $83.4M. Particularly strong market drops included Germany (-23%), Colombia (-27%), France (-29%), Poland (-30%) and Mexico (-39%).
 
Netherlands kicked off with $575K on 192 screens, topping Lightyear by 40% and Encanto by 33%. Top markets to date are the UK ($7.6M), Mexico ($4.3M), France ($3M), Spain ($2.1M) and Germany ($1.8M). Korea and Taiwan set the pooches loose next weekend.

‘Thor: Love and Thunder’
Everett Collection

Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love And Thunder is on its way to $700M worldwide with an estimated $699M through Sunday. Last session, it had already overtaken Thor: Ragnarok as the top pic of the four-title franchise (based on current rates and excluding Russia and China). Internationally, the gross is $382.8M in 48 material markets including this weekend’s $11.1M, a 50% drop from the earlier frame.

Among major markets, the Taika Waititi-directed entry is still No. 1 in Italy and No. 2 in France and Australia.

The Top 5 markets are the UK ($40.3M), Australia ($28.6M), Mexico ($27.5M), Korea ($22.6M) and Brazil ($21.2M).

Paramount

Paramount/Skydance’s Top Gun: Maverick still has heat in those engines with a 28% drop internationally for a $10.3M weekend (its 11th) in 64 markets. The offshore cume is now $690M for $1,352.5M global.

Holds are still strong overseas for Tom Cruise’s juggernaut. The UK has reached a stratospheric $96.2M with Japan (off just 12% from last session) now at $78.7M and Korea at $61M. Australia has cumed $60.9M and France $51.6M. Notably in Australia, TGM is the No. 3 highest-grossing film ever, behind Avatar and Star Wars: The Force Awakens to unseat Avengers: Endgame which had held the position since 2019.

Universal

Universal/Amblin’s Jurassic World Dominion this weekend surpassed Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness to become the 2nd biggest Hollywood release of 2022 worldwide. The global cume through Sunday is $960.1M including $588.2M overseas. The latter figure puts it about in line with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom at the same point and when excluding China and Russia. The international weekend was $6.2M in 86 markets.

Biggest markets to date are China ($157.4M), UK ($41.7M), France ($28.4M), Germany ($23.3M) and Japan ($20.2M).

MORE…

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The Rock Rolls Out Full Post-Credit Scene For ‘DC’s League Of Super-Pets’ In Social Post

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August 7, 2022 9:03am

‘DC League of Super-Pets’
Warner Bros. Animation

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is done with teasing. He jumped into the social media universe Saturday with a full post-credit scene from the animated DC’s League of Super-Pets.

The social media-posted scene features Johnson as multiple characters – he provides the voice of Superman’s dog, Krypto, but also voices Black Adam and Black Adam’s dog, Anubis.

Johnson copped to the multiple roles in his caption.

“The world is starting to simmer with excitement about the earths shattering SUPERMAN vs BLACK ADAM⚡️showdown one day,” Johnson wrote.”But until then… BLACK ADAM’S DOG ~ ANUBIS⚡️ has a few choice words for SUPERMAN’S DOG ~ KRYPTO. The definition and philosophy of ANTIHERO is quite intriguing….And YES…. If you listen closely, I voice BOTH DOGS AND BLACK ADAM in this scene.”

The post already has more than a half-million likes.

Johnson will play Black Adam in the live-action version of the film, out in October. He’ll be joined by Aldis Hodge as Hawkman, Noah Centineo as Atom Smasher, Sarah Shahi as Isis, Marwan Kenzari as Sabbac, Quintessa Swindell as Cyclone, and Pierce Brosnan as Doctor Fate.

Watch the video below.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Dwayne Johnson (@therock)

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‘Bullet Train’ Pulls Into Weekend Box Office Station With $30.1M Opening – Sunday Update

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August 7, 2022 8:06am

Sony

SUNDAY AM Writethru: Sony is calling Bullet Train at a $30.1M opening. Some rival studios saw it lower. However, knowing the Culver City studio, they like to underestimate, not overestimate, in their box office gross reporting. Worldwide was $62.5M.

Bullet Train made $12.6M on Friday, but that includes $4.6M Thursday previews. That means Friday grossed $8M. Saturday made $9.6M, +20% ahead of Friday, which is a very good sign for business. Some box office prognosticators believe that the David Leitch-directed movie can get to $100M.

The CinemaScore is a B+, which, interestingly enough, is the same as 20th Century Fox’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, one of the comps that was being floated around before Bullet Train‘s opening. That 2014 movie opened to $36.2M. PostTraks for the Brad Pitt actioner aren’t shabby at 82% positive and a 63% recommend. The pic always was going to hit with the over-35 demo, and that’s clear here, at close to 40% of the audience.

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The 18-34s are at 58%, who I hear always would be slow to come out to this movie, and the hope was that there could be more of them — this despite the fact that they’re the dominant demo. Guys over 25 are leading at 37% (81% grade), followed by women over 25 (28%, 83% grade), men under 25 (18%, 77% grade) and women under 25 (16%, 89% grade). In regards to the male-female turnout here for Bullet Train it’s very similar to Nope‘s, especially since both received four stars on PostTrak.

However, Nope brought in a very strong Black audience at 33%, as well as 35% Caucasian, 20% Latino and Hispanic and 12% Asian/other. Diversity demos on Bullet Train were 46% Caucasian, 24% Latino and Hispanic, 14% Black, 16% Asian/other.

Thirty-five percent came to Bullet Train because of Pitt, while 35% on PostTrak also cited the genre type of movie, and 33% the cast as a whole. Only 8% came because it was a Leitch film (vs. Nope, which saw 56% come for Peele). In regards to the advertisements that put butts in seats for Bullet Train: 34% came because they were enticed by the trailer, 26% were influenced by the YouTube trailer, 20% said it was the in-theater banners/posters, while 17% cited TV spots.

‘Bullet Train’
Sony

Why is Bullet Train not a super train? The pic is bit of a feathered fish when it comes to action movies: Pitt in what looks to be a stylized live-action take on an anime cartoon. While the action is relentless, bloody and fun, one of the hang-ups moviegoers have to get past is that the movie never shuts up. It’s too talky, too much backstory — and not good Quentin Tarantino talky and backstory.

Bullet Train also doesn’t take its time to tonally breathe like a Nic Winding Refn genre movie. This was evident in the 20 minutes that Sony showed off to exhibition at CinemaCon. Deadline’s Pete Hammond said Bullet Train “tries too hard to stay on track”. All that snark said, it’s well worth the price of Imax and PDF admission, and a lot of fun (both formats delivering close to 40% of the B.O. through yesterday; Imax accounting for $2.4M). For Joe Shmoe moviegoer, it isn’t exactly like Pitt’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which also starred Angelina Jolie and opened to $50.3M. You can’t fault Sony for having the guts to be original here, and as the new slogan goes in a vaccinated pandemic: better for a film to be theatrical with a window and have ancillary legs than to get buried day-and-date on a streaming menu. That’s the only way to have peace of mind here in spending $90M before P&A.

Bullet Train was fast in the West and Southwest, but its top 10 theaters were on the coasts.

RelishMix noticed that there was a mixed positive reaction to Bullet Train materials online before opening:

“Fans are loving The Bee Gees’ ‘Staying Alive’ as the trailer soundtrack, and the fun thriller tone of the film that they say was shot in a tube on a LED virtual stage at Sony during the pandemic. Others credit that the story comes from novel Maria Beetle by Kōtarō Isaka, and there’s call-outs to director Leitch’s credits: John Wick, Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, Hobbs & Shaw. Mentions for ‘waiting for streaming’ are few — as the draw of a popcorn thrill ride is clear. Some snarks are on the fence that it looks like Fight Club, but wondering if John Wick will show up.”

RelishMix says that the pic’s social awareness runs 17% above action genre norms, with a core social media universe of 224.6M across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Activity spiked on the movie’s Instagram following Monday’s red carpet premiere in Hollywood, adding 1.1K fans per day, plus a hefty stack of 21 videos on YouTube, including NBA spots, Father’s Day spots, and vertical social mobile spots, which would normally only be seen on Facebook and Instagram.

Easter Sunday
Universal

Universal/DreamWorks’ Jo Koy comedy Easter Sunday is arriving where the studio was expecting it, in the mid-single digits, that being $5.25M. The movie made $2M on Friday (which includes Thursday’s $500K) and $1.8M on Saturday. Audiences aren’t exactly falling out of their seats with laughter, giving the movie a B+. PostTraks were lower at 71% positive and a 49% recommend. Who came out? Women at 55%, with 52% between 25-44 and 29% over 45. Diversity demos were a great 37% Asian, 31% Caucasian, 15% Latino and Hispanic, and 11% Black.

RelishMix says that for a diverse comedy, Easter Sunday was tracking under genre norms on social media with 83.5M across Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, with activity on materials running at moderate levels comparatively. That said, Koy’s 5M fans are activated on social, with Jimmy O. Yang at 843K and Tia Carrera at 580K. Tiffany Haddish pushed the trailer on Instagram 13 weeks ago to her 7.4M followers, which rep 54% of her 13.7M social media fans.

A24/Stage 6 Films

A24 has the horror comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies at six locations in NYC and LA, which rang up $226,5K. That translates into a $37,75K per-theater average, which is the second-best limited screen average debut YTD, after the $50K opening weekend theater average posted by A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once. Friday was $94,7K for the Pete Davidson starring comedy. Very solid numbers, we hear, at NYC’s Lincoln Square, Union Square, Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn, and LA’s AMC Century City, Grove and Burbank. The pic expands to 1,200 locations next weekend.

Weekend chart with Sunday numbers:

1.) Bullet Train 4,357 theaters, Fri $12.6M, Sat $9.6M, Sun $7.85M 3-day $30.1M/Wk 1

2.) DC League of Super-Pets 4,332 (+18) theaters, Fri $3.36M (-64%), Sat $4.4M Sun $3.4M  3-day $11.2M (-51%)/Total $45.1M Wk 2

3. ) Nope (Uni) 3,016 (-791) theaters, Fri $2.52M (-57%)/3-day $8.05M (-57%)/Total $97.5M/Wk 3

4.) Thor: Love and Thunder (Disney) 3,400 (-250) theaters, Fri. $2.2M (-41%), Sat $3.1M, Sun $2.2M, 3-day $7.6M (-42%)/Total $316M /Wk 5
The fourthquel is on the verge of crossing $700M. Thor: Ragnarok finaled at $853.9M.

‘Minions: The Rise of Gru’
Universal Pictures

5.) Minions: Rise of Gru (Uni) 3,188 theaters (-391), Fri $2.09M (-38%), Sat $2.79M, Sun $2.2M, 3-day $7.11M (-35%), Total: $334.57M/Wk 6
The movie will soon overtake Minions‘ $336M domestic gross and it’s pacing 1% behind Despicable Me 2 in its sixth session which ended its U.S./Canada run at $368M.

6.) Top Gun: Maverick (Par) 2,760 (-248) theaters, Fri $1.9M (-21%), Sat $2.8M, Sun $2.3M,  3-day $7M (-16%), Total $662.5M/Wk 11

7.) Where the Crawdads Sings (Sony) 3,164 theaters (-362), Fri $1.68M (-27%),Sat $2.2M$1.76M, 3-day $5.65M (-25%)/Total $64.6M/Wk 4

8.)  Easter Sunday (Uni/DW) 3,175 theaters, Fri $2M, Sat $1.8M, Sun $1.4M, 3-day $5.25M/Wk 1

9.) Elvis (WB) 2,411 (-490) theaters, Fri $1.13M (-35%), Sat $1.55M, Sun $1.32M  3-day $4M (-30%) Total $136.5M/Wk 7

10.) The Black Phone (Uni/Blum) 1,197 (-441) theaters, Fri $450K (-42%), Sat $600K, Sun $410K, 3-day $1.46M (-42%)/Total $85.8M/Wk 7

NOTABLES:

Vengeance (Foc/Blum) 1,003 (+5) theaters, Fri $200K (-69%), Sat $300K, Sun $210K, 3-day $710K (-60%), Total $3.2M/Wk 2

Bodies Bodies Bodies (A24) 6 theaters, Fri $94,7K, Sat $71,2K, Sun  $60,5K, 3-day $226,5K/Wk 1

FRIDAY AM: Sony’s Bullet Train, starring Brad Pitt, saw $4.6M in Thursday previews which began at 3pm at 3,596 locations. The pic is estimated to bring in around $30M this weekend as summer’s last big tentpole before a two-and-month drought sans four quad movies.

Interesting to note, though not necessarily a comp since it was branded IP, is that Bullet Train from director David Leitch had previews that were not that far from what his Fast & Furious spinoff Hobbs & Shaw posted back in early August 2019, that being $5.8M.

Next to late summer Thursday previews, Bullet Train is ahead of The Meg‘s Thursday ($4M, $45.4M opening) and also last year’s The Suicide Squad at $4.1M (even though that latter title was day and date on HBO Max and saw a start of $26.2M).

Critics are sour on Bullet Train at 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, but audiences love it more at 83% on RT.

Easter Sunday
Universal

Universal/Dreamworks’ Easter Sunday starring Jo Koy saw $500K at 2,400 theaters which began at 5pm yesterday. Thursday preview comps for Easter Sunday are around that of Marry Me (even though that was day and date on Peacock) which was $525K, and ahead of August 2019’s The Art of Racing in the Rain which was $450K. The family comedy is expected to open in the mid single digits this weekend. Critics aren’t fans of Easter Sunday at 32% Rotten on Rotten Tomatoes.

Universal fired up the marketing campaign for Easter Sunday back in March which saw trailer placements in front of Jo Koy’s sold out “Funny is Funny” comedy tour to entice his fan base to see the movies in theaters. An interactive QR code was displayed on screens at his stand-up shows, sending them to the film’s Fandango page. Jo Koy also showed up at CinemaCon in late April leaving exhibitors in stitches and sharing how Steven Spielberg saw a universal comedy in the stand-up’s story.

The film campaign also included a 30-second spot in game six of the NBA Finals, placement in seven TV premieres including The Bachelorette, Better Call Saul, So You Think You Can Dance, The $100,000 Pyramid and What We Do in the Shadows. Additionally, Easter Sunday sponsored an episode of Family Feud which featured Jo Koy and his real-life family vs. Lydia Gaston and her real-life family. High-impact digital placements ran on Meta (Facebook/Instagram), TikTok Top Feed along with a digital presence on YouTube, Female Lifestyle and Cinephile sites.

There was a partnership across the AAPI community included a #GoldOpen VIP event which included a screening and Q&A which was part of Gold House’s Meta Gold Talk series. There was also a comedy showcase hosted by Jo Koy spotlighting up and coming AAPI comics and a Rise for Comedy VIP Comedy Night in partnership with Rideback Ranch which included more than 300 press, influencer and talent attendees (including Simu Liu, Awkwafina and Lisa Ling). That event featured a panel on Representation in Entertainment moderated by Kathy Lim (Director of Media & Journalism for the McCarthy Foundation), a comedy set including Ronnie Chang, Jimmy O. Yang.

WB

Among movies in regular release, Warner Bros.’ DC League of Super Pets led Thursday and the week with $2.2M and $33.8M respectively. Universal’s Nope was second with a second Thursday take of $1.56M, -26% from Wednesday, and second week of $27.4M and total of $87.3M. Uni was third with Minions: The Rise of Gru with a fifth Thursday of $1.46M, -8% from Wednesday, fifth week of $17.9M and a running total of $325.8M. Disney/Marvel’s Thor: Love & Thunder was 4th yesterday with a fourth Thursday of $1.3M, -12% from Wednesday, and fourth week of $19.9M for a running total of $306.8M. Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick in its tenth Thursday saw $1.17M, -3%, for a week’s total of $13.5M, and running total of $654.1M.

 

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Vue Cinemas’ Chain: Fall In Ticket Sales Cuts Company Value In Half To $785Bn

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August 7, 2022 6:36am

Paramount

The Vue International Cinema chain has reduced its valuation by approximately half to around £650million ($785.6million).

The Times reports that the company is being restructured in a deal that has protected it from a €130 million legal claim in Germany and allowed new funds to be injected into operations. This follows last month’s announcement that Vue’s lenders will take control of the business, replacing previous majority owners Alberta Investment Management Corporation and Omers (both Canadian pension funds).

Vue enjoyed a record year in 2019, when it was valued at an estimated £2billion, but the chain suffered huge losses early in 2020 as a result of the UK’s Covid lockdown, and later that year when studios hesitated to release big-budget films like James Bond’s No Time To Die in cinemas.

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet, released in August 2020 struggled to recoup its $205million budget, although it has latterly enjoyed returns of $365.5million.

This year is looking brighter, buoyed by Tom Cruise’s return to fighter piloting in Top Gun: Maverick enjoying a $1.28bn global box office bonanza so far, although cinema ticket sales otherwise sit at a reported 65% of pre-Covid figures – affected by factors including Disney’s decision to release such titles as Pixar’s Turning Red directly to the Disney+ streaming platform.

 

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British Former Soap Actor Dies Suddenly On Holiday In California

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August 7, 2022 5:59am

Sam Gannon
Gannon family

British actor Sam Gannon – who appeared in TV soap Emmerdale – has died suddenly while travelling in the U.S., his family has announced.

Gannon, aged 31, was visiting relatives in California when he passed away, his family revealed. The cause of death was not yet revealed, although his mother told the BBC her son had suffered from a heart condition from birth which had “reared its ugly head” recently.

The actor played Kev in the popular soap in 2019. In addition, he appeared in TV series Tales of Bacon, and the film Babes with Blades.

Gannon’s family has created a crowd-funding page to appeal for money to help bring their son home to Yorkshire in the UK. The sum raised has already reached £7,600 ($9,175) of its £17,000 ($20,520) target.

 

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“The First Dwarf”: Paralympic Champion Ellie Simmonds Makes Strictly Come Dancing History

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August 7, 2022 5:45am

Ellie Simmonds will compete on Strictly Come Dancing.
BBC

Paralympic swimming champion Ellie Simmonds has been announced as a contestant for this year’s Strictly Come Dancing, saying she’s delighted to be the first contestant with dwarfism to take part in the show.

The competition will be returning for its 20th year in September, and Simmonds told the BBC she was embracing the “once in a lifetime” opportunity: “I’m so excited, I just want to enjoy every second and try out the sequins and costumes.

“I’ll be the first dwarf doing this show and I just want to show how positive it is – being different is okay.”

In 2008, Simmonds became Britain’s youngest ever athlete to compete in the Summer Paralympics – then aged 13 – and was named BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year the same year.

She won two gold medals at those Games, another two at the London Paralympics and a fifth in Rio in 2016.

She has since commentated on the sport, and made two documentaries, including Ellie Simmonds: A World without Dwarfism?

Strictly Come Dancing, the BBC’s flagship primetime show that has sold versions around the world under the banner Dancing with the Stars, made history last year with the first ever same-sex pairing in the show, and also featuring its first deaf contestant, Rose Ayling-Ellis, who went on to win the competition.

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Joe Biden Tests Negative, Will Return To Travel And Public Events — Update

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August 7, 2022 5:36am

Joe Biden
AP

UPDATE, SUNDAY, AUGUST 7: President Joe Biden tested negative for Covid on Sunday and will return to “public engagement and presidential travel,” his physician wrote in a memo.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote that Biden tested negative for the second consecutive day.

“I’m feeling good,” Biden told reporters as he left the White House for Rehoboth Beach, DE, where he has a home.

UPDATE, SATURDAY, AUGUST 6: Joe Biden tested negative for Covid on Saturday but will continue to isolate out of an abundance of caution, his doctor said.

In a memo, Dr. Kevin O’Connor said that Biden will continue the isolation measures pending a second negative test.

Biden “continues to feel very well,” O’Connor wrote.

After testing negative last week, Biden experienced a rebound last weekend.

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UPDATE, FRIDAY, AUGUST 5: Joe Biden continues to test positive for Covid, almost a week after it was revealed that he had a recurrence of the virus.

His physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, wrote in a memo that the president “continues to feel very well” and his cough “has almost completely resolved.”

Biden appeared early on Friday afternoon at the Blue Room balcony to give remarks on the latest jobs report and to sign two bills to address loan fraud.

UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3: Joe Biden continues to test positive for Covid and will continue to isolate, but “continues to feel well,” his physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor wrote in a memo Wednesday.

Biden is still experiencing an occasional cough, but less frequently than on Tuesday, O’Connor wrote. “He remains fever free and is in good spirits,” he wrote.

Biden tested positive again for Covid on Saturday, a rebound of the virus after he took Paxlovid.

UPDATE, SUNDAY, JULY 31: President Joe Biden continues to feel well, despite still showing as positive for Covid. He will remain in isolation, according to physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor. He will continue in isolation but will be working during that time and taking precautions to insulate staff, O’Connor said.

PREVOUSLY, July 30 AM: President Joe Biden has tested positive for Covid-19 again Saturday morning, per a letter from presidential physician Dr. Kevin O’Connor. The results are what is termed a “rebound” Covid-19 positivity. It is “observed in a small percentage of patients treated with Paxlovid,” the doctor said.

The President is not experiencing any symptoms, but will isolate at the White House. Biden is said to be feeling well and will not resume treatment, the White House said.

O’Connor claimed Biden tested negative on Tuesday evening, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and Friday morning. He then tested positive on Saturday morning. “However, given his positive antigen test, he will reinitiate strict isolation procedures,” the doctor noted.

Biden stopped his isolation on Wednesday, celebrating his return in remarks from the White House Rose Garden.

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Rachel Brosnahan On Doing All That Stand-Up In ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ – Contenders TV: The Nominees

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August 6, 2022 1:45pm

Prime Video

“These people like to keep me on my toes. Just when I think I kind of have the hang of it, or start to feel more comfortable, there’s some giant curveball, like the ‘Aristotle’ scene, or ‘imitating another comic’ scene,” said Rachel Brosnahan, star of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She’s talking about stand-up, which her trailblazing comic and Upper West Side mother of two, Miriam “Midge” Maisel, really does a lot of in the Prime Video series’ penultimate season.

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“My favorites are the ones where Midge is working through something that you, as an audience, are seeing elsewhere on screen – whether it’s the experience with Shy Baldwin and wanting revenge, or whatever is going on with her family,” Brosnahan said on the panel for the series at Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees award-season event, referring to the singer played by Leroy McClain who fired Midge from his world tour at the end of Season 3. In a poignant set, Midge talks through “what it means for someone to be on the edge of leaving you” after her father-in-law Moishe (Kevin Pollak) is hospitalized. “It was a perfect combination of storytelling and comedy in a way that makes it a little easier to perform,” she said.

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Mrs. Maisel’s creator and executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino said her father was a stand-up comedian in New York. This series “was a story I wanted to tell. It was a little bit of a love letter to my father,” she said. “I always wanted to sort of do something that capitalized on all the stories I’d heard, sitting in California, about how great New York was. I wanted to bring that fairytale, that I grew up with in my mind, back to life. I just put him in a dress.”

The show is NYC-based, with Season 4 even more five borough-centric than usual thanks to Covid travel limitations – no more Miami or Las Vegas. “We had a whole different season planned, then we all put our passports away,” said Sherman-Palladino, and it worked. “Having everyone in a room, not armed, except with words — it’s pretty great.”

The series earned 12 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress for Brosnahan, and Outstanding Supporting Actress and Actor for, respectively, Alex Borstein as Susie Myerson, Midge’s loyal manager building up a business, and Tony Shalhoub as Midge’s father Abe Weissman, revered academic-turned-Village Voice theater critic who moves back in with his daughter. Shooting is underway on the fifth and final season.

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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‘Lucy And Desi’ Team On Finding Hidden Gems To Tell Love Story Of Lucille Ball And Desi Arnaz: “We Struck Gold” – Contenders TV: The Nominees

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August 6, 2022 1:29pm

Prime Video

Mark Monroe, writer-producer of the Emmy-nominated documentary Lucy and Desi, calls Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz “the most powerful couple probably Hollywood has ever seen.”

Not only did the pair found Desilu Studios, a major independent production company, but they created one of the most beloved TV programs of all time with I Love Lucy. That show introduced all sorts of innovations that remain industry standards today, including the practice of taping sitcoms before a live audience, shooting with multiple cameras, syndication, and re-runs.

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“The innovations… we take them for granted because we’re still reaping the rewards of a lot of the things they invented,” Monroe said during a panel discussion of the Prime Video documentary at Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees event. “It’s just the way television is today.”

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Lucy and Desi, directed by Amy Poehler, earned six Emmy nods, more than any other documentary this year, including Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Special, and recognition for directing, writing, picture editing, and music composition.

Poehler and team accessed never-before-heard audio interviews with Ball and Arnaz to shed fresh light on the couple, who were married from 1940-1960.

“We struck gold very early in the process, which was kind of miraculous,” Monroe said, noting that the discovery came as producer Jeanne Elfant Festa was exploring archival materials maintained by Lucy and Desi’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz Luckinbill. “She did stumble across a box, something that wasn’t expected on the day when we were going through all the letters and pictures and all the memorabilia that they’ve kept. And that box had audiotapes. And they were pretty unique.”

Editor Robert A. Martinez not only leveraged the audiotapes, but other assets, like home movies.

“[Ball and Arnaz] didn’t live publicly — they weren’t out at parties all the time,” Martinez said. “They were very private… So those home videos were a big gift.”

Lucy and Desi tells a bittersweet story of two people who loved each other deeply but encountered marital difficulties as the demands of their growing entertainment empire seemingly pulled them apart. Composer David Schwartz was tasked with writing an orchestral score that would support the film’s fluctuating moods.

“I had 36 strings and I had some great soloists and my favorite players in the world. And I knew it had to stretch emotionally in different ways. It had to create tension,” Schwartz explained. “It had to tell the love story at times. Although most of the comedy comes from Lucy and Desi, I got to add a little bit of comedy, and the rest of it didn’t need it. I really wanted it to be sort of a classic film score that had themes.”

Monroe credits his director with framing the story in a way that touches audiences emotionally.

“People think Amy was perfect for this because she’s funny and because she’s had this great comic career. I think she was perfect for this because she’s a humanist,” Monroe said. “She was not a director who was leaning into the ‘funny.’ The funny was there. She was leaning to the human elements of these two people and trying to make sure that we brought them back to life as human beings rather than these icons that they’re held up to be sometimes.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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Lizzo On The Difficulty Of Letting Contestants Go On ‘Watch Out For The Big Grrrls’; Teases Possible Season 2 — Contenders TV: The Nominees

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August 6, 2022 1:12pm

Prime Video

Full of body positivity and lots of girl power, Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrrls proves not every reality competition series needs to be cutthroat to be “must see TV.” And the formula worked for the Grammy Award winner and her team, who were recently nominated for six Emmy Awards including Outstanding Competition Program, Outstanding Casting For a Reality Program (Lynne Spillman, Blair Kim, and Jazzy Collins), and Outstanding Directing for A Reality Program (Nneka Onuorah).

Lizzo was inspired to launch the series after facing years of challenges finding dancers. And as her productions and tour venues continue to get larger, the Detroit-born singer and performer will always be looking for more Big Grrrls to join the fold.

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In conversation with Deadline following the nominations, Lizzo revealed she was especially proud of the casting nomination after that process found the likes of Jayla Sullivan, Charity Holloway, Asia Banks, Moesha Perez and Crystal Williams.

“Outstanding casting is a testament to the girls and how incredible they were and how honest and real they were on the show, and how willing they were to go on the journey and share their stories,” Lizzo’s revealed during an appearance at Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees panel. “The casting process was…long! I feel like we were casting longer than we actually filmed the show because that was the heart of what Watch Out For The Big Grrrls was gonna be. I need dancers and I need people with good hearts, and we also need superstars. So it was kind of difficult finding people that checked all those boxes.”

What makes Lizzo’s Watch Out For The Big Grrls different is that no contestant is eliminated in the traditional sense. Going in, the competitors knew they would not move ahead in the competition if they were not ready for the stage just yet, but their journeys weren’t over.

“That was the important thing: I wanted to be able to let people go without letting them down. I didn’t want to eliminate anyone,” Lizzo said. “Originally I was like, how can we have a show where everyone is on and no one goes home? Traditionally, in competition reality shows, every week someone gets eliminated. I didn’t want that. These girls have been eliminated and rejected enough in the industry and I don’t want to add more to that. So we decided that no one goes home unless they’re not ready and I think that was important.”

She added, “The story was not over between me and the girls and that was the most important part. When they went home, it wasn’t like, ‘Bye, bitch. You were just on a TV show.’ [Instead], now here’s someone new that I know can dance and when I need you, I’m going to call you, and I make good on that.”

With all the success Lizzo and her team have found with the series, could a follow-up be in the works?

“Well, I always need more dancers. Who knows what’s going to happen next?” Lizzo said. “I think that every project I do is heart first, personal first. What do I really need in real life? And then I can create the drama or the show around it. We’re definitely thinking about it but there’s nothing official yet. This show has been more successful—and I’m not just talking about Emmy nominations—the day it dropped, the reactions on the internet were like, ‘I wish I had this when I was younger.’ ‘This inspired me to dance again.’ It’s just been incredible to watch people’s visceral reactions. So of course I want to keep it going because it’s helping people and it’s helping me.”

Check back Monday for the panel video.

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