The Last Jedi’ Lifts Box Office 3% to $39.9 Billion – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Worldwide box office for 2017 has jumped 3% to a record $39.92 billion with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” providing the final push.

Box office tracker comScore, which issued the number Sunday, said that the improvement was due to a variety of strong performances — including the Chinese blockbuster “Wolf Warrior 2,” which has grossed $870 million. The gain came despite a 2.3% slide in US box office, slammed by the worst summer in a decade as international box office jumped 5%.

The final totals were $28.8 billion internationally and $11.12 billion in North America for the third consecutive $11 billion-plus year. Worldwide box office had hit a record $38.9 billion in 2015 and then edged down slightly in 2016 to $38.8 billion, so Disney-Luscasfilm’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” provided nearly all of the gain for 2017.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is the fourth 2017 title to go past $1 billion worldwide, along with Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” at $1.26 billion, Universal’s “The Fate of the Furious” at $1.24 billion and Universal-Illumination’s “Despicable Me 3” at $1.03 billion. Disney-Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” its “Thor: Ragnarok” and Warner Bros.’ “Wonder Woman” all took in more than $800 million each on a worldwide basis.

“Going to the movies is truly a worldwide phenomenon,” said comScore’s Senior Media Analyst, Paul Dergarabedian. “The ‘big screen’ experience was bolstered by a unique and compelling slate of titles in 2017 that sparked an exceptional level of enthusiasm by patrons who flocked to movie theaters around the globe.”


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DiLee’s New EP & Spoken Album Submitted to Grammys

Thanks to each and every pledging friend on her brand new EP is being released Sept 29th. All 3 songs were re-recorded, mixed, mastered and now being manufactured to send out to all buyers of the CD by next week. Her spoken word album was released just in time for Sept 11 and is entitled “Love For Peace.” DiLee was simply happy to submit both her EP and spoken word album to the Grammys for nomination consideration as a new member this year. Physical world-wide distribution through Amazon now available for the EP and digital downloads available through both Amazon as well as iTunes (Amazon: digital for purchase and physical distribution through Amazon). Amazon distribution for the spoken album will be available later in the year.
EP Front

EP CD (with border)

EP Back Cover

EP Inside

EP Behind CD

Spoken Word Album “Love For Peace” is available on Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes and more.

Spoken Word (iTunes2)

Obama’s Year-End Playlist Includes Hits by Camila Cabello, DJ Khaled – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Former U.S. President Barack Obama is keeping his annual new year’s tradition alive by posting a year-end list of his favorite books and songs from 2017.

Among the artists that made the cut are Harry Styles, Camila Cabello, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Mavis Staples, Chris Stapleton, U2, Chance the Rapper and Portgual the Man. Obama also threw in a bonus: Bruce Springsteen’s bluesy version of “Born In the U.S.A.,” which The Boss performs during his Broadway show. Obama notes that the track is “not out yet.”

Clearly up on his Top 40 hits, Obama’s playlist includes the smashes “Havana” by Cabello, “Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled, “Unforgettable” by French Montana, and “Feel It Still,” by Portugal the Man.

Read the full list below:

“Mi Gente” by J Balvin & Willy William
“Havana” by Camila Cabello (feat. Young Thug)
“Blessed” by Daniel Caesar
“The Joke” by Brandi Carlile
“First World Problems” by Chance The Rapper (feat. Daniel Caesar)
“Rise Up” by Andra Day
“Wild Thoughts” by DJ Khaled (feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller)
“Family Feud” by Jay-Z (feat. Beyoncé)
“Humble” by Kendrick Lamar
“La Dame et Ses Valises” by Les Amazones d’Afrique (feat. Nneka)
“Unforgettable” by French Montana (feat. Swae Lee)
“The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness” by The National
“Chanel” by Frank Ocean
“Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man
“Butterfly Effect” by Travis Scott
“Matter of Time” by Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
“Little Bit” by Mavis Staples
“Millionaire” by Chris Stapleton
“Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles
“Broken Clocks” by SZA
“Ordinary Love” (Extraordinary Mix) by U2
*Bonus: “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen (not out yet, but the blues version in his Broadway show is the best!)


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Where to Live Stream – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Here’s how to live-stream the Times Square New Year’s Eve festivities — including the iconic ball drop and musical performances by Mariah Carey, Andy Grammer and others — even if you don’t have a television or pay-TV service.

The official Times Square 2018 webcast will kick off at 6 p.m. ET on Dec. 31, 2017, and end at 12:15 a.m. ET on Jan. 1, 2018.

The ninth annual New Year’s Eve live-stream from New York City will be available free worldwide on multiple websites, including, and In addition, it will be streamed on Facebook ( and Twitter (

The Times Square 2018 webcast also will be available on Android and Apple iOS mobile devices via the official Times Square Ball App. The six-hour live programming event is being streamed by Vimeo’s Livestream.

The evening’s lineup — book-ended by the Ball Raising at 6 p.m. ET and the Ball Drop at midnight — will feature live musical performances, hourly countdowns, behind-the-scenes features, and celebrity interviews. Pushing the button at 11:59 p.m. to drop the world-famous Waterford crystal ball will be special guest Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, joining New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to lead the 60-second countdown to ring in 2018.

Typically, a crowd of around 1 million revelers descends on New York City’s Times Square on Dec. 31. But frigid temperatures in the Big Apple — with the wind chill expected to be near or below zero — may suppress turnout on one of the city’s coldest New Year’s Eves on record.

The Times Square 2018 live performances are scheduled to include:

  • Mariah Carey, Sugarland, Camila Cabello, and Nick Jonas on ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest”
  • Andra Day and Neil Diamond on Fox’s “New Year’s Eve with Steve Harvey”
  • Andy Grammer, who just before the Ball Drop at midnight will perform “Honey, I’m Good” and “Good to Be Alive”; his latest single, “Smoke Clears”; and John Lennon’s “Imagine”
  • Lauren Alaina, set to perform “Road Less Traveled,” “What Ifs” and Katy Perry’s “Firework”
  • Chyno Miranda and Leslie Grace with Play-N-Skillz on Univision’s “¡Feliz 2018!”
  • The USO Show Troupe, performing a military salute to the U.S. armed forces
  • The Sino-American Friendship Association, which will present the Tongliang Athletics Dragon Dance from Chongqing, China

Live hourly countdowns on the Times Square 2018 stream will be presented by Fox New Year’s Eve host Steve Harvey, Tarana Burke, Fox News Channel hosts Lisa Kennedy Montgomery and Jesse Watters, and Univision host Raúl de Molina.

The live-stream is produced by the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, the co-organizers of Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration. The webcast’s sponsors include Planet Fitness but otherwise the live-stream will run commercial-free.

Returning as the Times Square New Year’s Eve event host for her sixth year is Allison Hagendorf, a television and radio personality who also is global head of rock at Spotify. Jonathan Bennett, star of “Mean Girls” and host of “Cake Wars,” will serve as webcast host for the second year, joined by correspondents Andrea Boehlke and Jeremy Hassell.

The gathering in Times Square on New Year’s Eve continues a tradition that dates back to 1904, when the owners of One Times Square threw the first rooftop celebration on New Year’s Eve. The first ball-drop occurred in 1907.


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It’s Defiantly Uncool – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


I just got back from seeing “The Greatest Showman” a second time, and found it to be every bit as enthralling as I did the first time — in some ways, even more so. It’s an enraptured, live-wire, old-school-with-a-kustom-makeover retro musical that takes you back to the feeling you had as a kid the first time you ever saw a movie that made you go “Wow!” Yet I realize that just by saying that, I have made myself sound faintly ridiculous. To call “The Greatest Showman” a movie that has gotten no respect would be to understate the royal kneecapping the critics have given it. I’m on a lonely island of enthusiasm here (though not an entirely isolated island: Stephanie Zacharek of Time and David Ehrlich of IndieWire have both signed on as “Greatest Showman” enthusiasts).

The critics have been naked in their hostility. “The Greatest Showman,” it has been declared, is a pile of wholesome conventional movie-lite squareness. The way the film turns P.T. Barnum’s circus of human oddities into a freak-show cavalcade of identity politics, all standing tall to claim their pride and dignity (you go, Bearded Lady!), is a pious and sentimental 21st-century anachronism. The film whitewashes Barnum himself, taking someone who was an exploitative profiteer and transforming him into a saintly grinning maestro-with-a-dream played with rambunctious gusto by Hugh Jackman. And I haven’t even mentioned all that catchy Broadway dance pop, staged in music-video numbers that look like something out of a family-friendly version of “Moulin Rouge!”

In reaction to these criticisms, I can only say: Yes, yes, yes, and yes. “The Greatest Showman” is, does, and commits each of those mortal cinematic sins. It’s an ultra-square movie. It salutes the Bearded Lady, Tom Thumb, and the rest as if they were members of some persecuted minority group united in a chorus of “What I Did for Love.” And if you’re looking for “reality,” you’d be better off saving your ticket money and spending 20 dutiful minutes perusing the P.T. Barnum page on Wikipedia.

Yet the historical-accuracy point, which has been made by more than a few critics, raises a telling question. Namely: Who in God’s name goes to a kaleidoscopic musical about P.T. Barnum looking for a chronicle of the complex historical figure he really was? As someone who has often argued for greater reality in movies, I might feel differently if the film were some epic dramatic P.T. Barnum biopic. But it’s not. It has roughly the same relation to the P.T. Barnum story — glancing, affectionate, fanciful — as “Singin’ in the Rain” does to the history of the waning days of silent film. “The Greatest Showman” is unabashedly a concoction. But here’s the thing: It’s a passionate and bedazzling one, a gracefully crafted tall tale that glides by without belaboring a moment. It’s as if Baz Luhrmann went back in time and made a musical for MGM in the late ’40s.

Here, I think, is why the reviews have been so united in their hate. The points raised above can all be debated, but what the critics are really saying is what they’re not actually coming out and saying: that “The Greatest Showman” is fataly uncool. It’s a splashy but chaste PG revel, with the barest hint of a dark side. It’s like a Blue State musical made for an audience of Red State potluck geeks.

Yet on that score, it’s an entrancing romance-of-showbiz bauble, with songs so infectious they soar. “Moulin Rouge!,” for all its visionary passion, was laced with puckish irony, and “La La Land” embedded its sincerity in a heady look-we’re-making-a-musical! meta splendor. “The Greatest Showman” never gets within a country mile of irony. It serves up its wide-screen emotion in big, sincere slabs. And that, let’s just say it, is something that now makes certain people cringe.

The cool factor has bled into film criticism from pop-music criticism, where enthusiasm for uncool acts — like, say, Coldplay — is frowned upon, unless it’s positioned as some sort of semi-apologetic guilty pleasure. And you can feel the influence of the cool factor in the way that certain films that might once have been power players have been tossed onto a slag heap of diminished respectability. “Darkest Hour,” starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, met with an early burst of acclaim, but it’s so straight-down-the-middle in its inspirational nobility that it began to be treated by the press as uncool. That’s why Oldman, once considered a lock for an Academy Award win, is no longer a lock; there’s no hipster quotient to his highly traditional bravura-under-latex performance. And a tastefully intelligent physical-deformity weeper hit like “Wonder,” which would once have been a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination, now doesn’t even seem to be in the right ballpark. Even its box-office success doesn’t work for it. It’s hot…but it’s not cool.

I’m not saying these movies should be winning Oscars. But I’m taking note of a shift away from middlebrow taste on the part of the film-critic establishment that’s now made itself part of the awards machine. When applied to a movie like “The Greatest Showman,” that anti-middlebrow fervor becomes a lethal dart. As a drama that expresses itself in joyful bursts of pop passion, “The Greatest Showman” is twice the movie that “Baby Driver” was, yet “Baby Driver,” for all its stitched-together faux-Tarantino overkill, was rhapsodized over as the coolest movie of the year. “The Greatest Showman” is one of the uncoolest, because it’s a wholehearted musical that’s neither kitschy nor ironic nor hip.

Yet audiences are responding to it. For a movie that started slow out of the gate, it’s enjoying a surprisingly robust second weekend — an indication that the word of mouth on it is creating some ripples. I feel like I know why. It’s a picture with so much to savor, from the barroom drinking duet between Jackman and Zac Efron that’s a giddy tour de force of tossed shot glasses to the glory of Zendaya’s trapeze moves and the burnt-in hurt of her tears; from Rebecca Ferguson-with-the-voice-of-Loren Allred’s incandescent performance of “Never Enough” to the exquisite way that Jackman, in the last scene, throws away the line “The show must go on!” If you see “The Greatest Showman” with an open heart, I promise the movie will sweep you up. You just won’t feel cool about it.


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Teen Trauma Resonates Through a Notable Debut – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Its fractious tale of father-son bonding may be familiar, but Argentinian helmer Natalia Garagiola’s debut impresses with its sober mood and emotional tenor.

There’s a regal, rolling sense of great-outdoors scale to “Hunting Season,” a confident, clean-lined debut from Argentinian writer-director Natalia Garagiola, that only puts the internal shuttering of its young protagonist in starker relief. Hitting its emotional marks with mature clarity — if little in the way of surprise — this quietly bruised coming-of-age story sees a volatile, rugby-playing schoolboy through his grief for one parent and his estrangement from another, while treating his healing process as a work in progress to the end and beyond. If there’s a slightly pat arc to the tetchy father-son bond driving the narrative that smacks of indie script workshopping, Garagiola’s direction is more impressively watchful and flinty, drawing keen, complex performances from her two well-matched leads.

Hunting Season” is especially notable as the first foreign feature backed by the U.S.-based Gamechanger Films, an enterprise dedicated exclusively to funding female-helmed projects — Karyn Kusama’s “The Invitation” and So Yong Kim’s “Lovesong” among them. Their involvement enhances the distribution prospects of a film already off to a flying start on the festival circuit: Premiering at Venice, where it topped the Critics’ Week competition, it went on to be named best in show by the Macao fest jury. The film certainly acts as a rejoinder to any developers inclined to limit distaff directors to “women’s stories.” Garagiola has a sharp, perceptive understanding of distinctly masculine insecurities, and her male leads are drawn with callused specificity.

The opening beats thrust viewers directly into the addled, angry headspace of Nahuel (auspicious first-timer Lautaro Bettoni), a strapping, scowlingly handsome teenager introduced in the middle of a violent rugby-field altercation that gets him expelled from his Buenos Aires private school. There are mitigating mental-health circumstances — Nahuel’s mother recently died from cancer — but nonetheless, his kindly stepfather Bautista (Boy Olmi) decides a change of scene is called for. The boy is effectively exiled to the expansively tangled, gorgeous wilds of Patagonia, where his long-absent biological father Ernesto (Germán Palacios) lives with his young second family, making a modest living as a game ranger.

All of the expected tensions and conflicts ensue, with the age-old city-mouse-and-country-mouse dynamic adding further friction to an already fractious family reunion. Nahuel and Ernesto scarcely know each other, and with the cut-up younger still raw from the lost of one parent, he has no room in his heart to welcome another: After describing the devastation of grief to Ernesto, Nahuel brusquely concludes, “I don’t want to ever feel that for you.” Garagiola’s script is at its best when trading in such brute, from-the-gut honesty; as these two wary, guarded men incrementally but inevitably learn from, and thaw to, each other, the film enters familiar redemptive territory that’s a little less bracing.

The actors largely keep sentimentality at bay, however. Palacios takes his time to reveal deep reserves of guilt and caring beneath an eggshell exterior, while Bettoni is a memorable find. Casting directors may take note of the newcomer’s striking, brooding initial presence, but there’s much more here than sullen attitude, as Nahuel’s pain gradually overwhelms his self-protective stoicism.

A slightly tighter edit could have tempered the predictability of “Hunting Season’s” narrative progression, however moving it is, though sparse restraint is the order of the day in other technical departments. Composer Juan Tobal aptlt wraps the solemn action in severe, resonant strings, while Fernando Lockett’s calm, overcast cinematography maximizes the scratchy, rambling sprawl of the Patagonian landscape without overly romanticizing it. Resisting the magic-hour allure to shooting in weathered limestone tones, he and Garagiola convey how the beauty of the wilderness can be as isolating to one person as it is inviting to another.


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U.K. Security Minister Ben Wallace Calls for Tech Giant Tax Fines – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Adding his voice to what bids fair to become one of 2018’s biggest trends in Europe – a political “techlash” against internet giants, U.K. security minister Ben Wallace has lashed out at Facebook, Google and YouTube, threatening to impose multimillion pound tax punishments on them for failing to fight terrorism in Britain.

“Ruthless profiteers,” but failing to address the danger of the radicalization of people online, the tech mega platforms were forcing governments to plow millions into policing the web, Wallace claimed in an interview with The Sunday Times.

The U.K. security minister took a specific swipe at messaging services such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which refuse to allow security services access to message data.

“They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically-elected government,” Wallace argued, suggesting the U.K. government could slap tech giants with tax fines over extremist content.

Google has hit back in the past arguing that it simply does not have the resources to police the web on its own, and needs the collaboration of the government and indeed users. Covering

Wallace’s comments, cited YouTube’s comments that it receives 200,000 reports of inappropriate content a day, and review 98% of it within 24 hours.

The security minister’s outburst comes just over a week after Germany’s cartel office (FCO ) issued a preliminary finding in an anti-trust case ruling that Facebook is transferring data to third-parties and abusing its dominant position in  the German market. Signing up to Facebook was conditional on the company “being allowed to limitlessly amass every kind of data generated by using third-party websites and merge it with the user’s Facebook account,” a preliminary legal finding said on Dec. 19.

The E.U. is preparing its own keystone new privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, that, rolled out from May next year, will limit tech giants’ use of private data and allow it to impose huge fines on companies’ contravening its strictures.

Facebook has denied it has a dominant position. “We will be working directly with relevant data protection officials to ensure our approach meets the requirements set out by GDPR and are confident that we will be able to address the questions posed by the FCO,” Yvonne Cunnane, Facebook’s head of data protection in Ireland, is quoted as saying.


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‘Star Wars’ Composer John Williams Signs On for ‘Solo’ Theme – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


‘Solo’ will stay in the ‘Star Wars’ family with veteran franchise composer John Williams set to write the theme for the standalone film about Han Solo, slated for release on May 25. It will be Williams’ ninth assignment.

Williams revealed his involvement in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” during in an interview with Variety about his current “Star Wars” opus, “The Last Jedi.” “The present plan is that I’m writing a theme for Han Solo, and John Powell is going to write the score, which he’ll do brilliantly,” Williams says.

Powell was announced as the primary composer for “Solo” back in July. “His assignment is something I’m very happy about,” Williams adds. “What I will do is offer this to John, and to [director] Ron Howard, and if all parties are happy with it, then I will be happy. … John [Powell] will complete the score. He will write all the rest of the themes and all of the other material, which I’m going to be very anxious to hear.”

Williams has written the complete scores for all eight of the main “Star Wars” films, winning an Oscar for the 1977 original and nominations for three of the other seven. The earlier “Star Wars” standalone, 2016’s “Rogue One,” was scored by Michael Giacchino.

Last summer’s announcement about Powell indicated that it would be “scored in the style of the original ‘Star Wars’ movies but retain Powell’s distinctive voice.”

London-born, Los Angeles-based Powell, a 2010 Oscar nominee for his score for the animated “How to Train Your Dragon,” has also scored the “Bourne” action franchise, “United 93” and a number of other animated films including this year’s “Ferdinand,” as well as the “Happy Feet” and “Rio” movies.

In the new film, Alden Ehrenreich will play a young Han Solo, the beloved character immortalized by Harrison Ford in the original trilogy and then again in 2015’s “The Force Awakens.”


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A Sparkly But Superficial Gay Coming-of-Age Tale – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Trudie Styler’s sparkly but superficial directorial debut is a gay coming-of-age tale that presumes more love for its fabulous hero than it earns.

“Buckle up, darlings,” warns Billy Bloom, the adolescent protagonist of “Freak Show,” with his most salacious Bette Davis sneer. “I’m gonna take you on a little ride I call my life.” For a second, you sense some affectionate irony in Trudie Styler’s well-intentioned but woolly directorial debut: After all, many’s the privileged suburban teenager who has declared their life wilder and wackier than anyone else’s.

It doesn’t take long to realize, however, that “Freak Show” takes Billy (gamely played by British rising star Alex Lawther) entirely at his word. An out-and-proud, drag-loving high-schooler who delights in subverting masculine norms — and wears his resulting social isolation as a badge of honor — he’s certainly a beautiful misfit. Yet Styler’s surface-level adaptation of James St. James’ queer bildungsroman shows us more of Billy’s eye-popping wardrobe than his soul, as his superficially defined exceptionalism tilts ever less endearingly into narcissism; we leave this carnival-colored rallying cry to “stay true to yourself” unsure of who our hero truly is. A limited January release awaits “Freak Show” following a lengthy 2017 festival tour, but the film will presumably find its most receptive young audience online.

Styler’s peppy but thin foray into feature direction is especially disappointing following her strong track record as a producer of more singular, stylistically confident indies, from Dito Montiel’s “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” Duncan Jones’s “Moon” to Maggie Betts’s recent “Novitiate” — a polar-opposite portrait of teenage rebellion in which the ascetic life amounted to its own form of freak flag-flying. Crafted with varnished competence but little personality, “Freak Show” is instead the kind of lightweight cinematic foray one might expect from a figure embedded in A-list celebrity: As Styler calls in glitzy cameo-sized favors from the likes of Bette Midler, John McEnroe and Laverne Cox, her film offers little more than a strained “Make America Great Again” gag in the way of sociopolitical texture.

In sketching out Billy’s fraught but fabulous existence, Styler, together with screenwriters Beth Rigazio and Patrick J. Clifton, wavers in her allegiance to reality or wish-fulfilment: The film’s depictions of classroom bullying don’t sit in quite the same world as a dreamy, sensitive star quarterback named Flip (Ian Kelly, as winning as can be in such a patently phony role) who can spot a real Jackson Pollock at a hundred paces. In either dimension, Billy’s immense economic privilege goes unchecked. Introductory scenes illustrate the formative influence of his hedonistic mother Mauvine (an auto-vamping Midler), described as “a living testament to grace, glamour and Gucci,” though his vast, expensive collection of drag outfits — ranging in inspiration from Adam Ant to the Little Mermaid — might just put her closet to shame.

Yet this gilded childhood — lit in suitably luxe fashion by cinematographer Dante Spinotti — soon hits a gray wall. For clunkily withheld reasons, Mauvine exits the scene, sending Billy from Connecticut to live with his moneyed but distinctly fun-free father William (Larry Pine) on a vast estate in a pocket of Southern suburbia that may as well be called Homophobiville. “Freak Show” doesn’t shy from blanket regional stereotyping, but then neither does its hero: Billy enters the local high school with such a superiority complex that he never bothers to learn the name of the one open-minded wallflower (AnnaSophia Robb) who initially befriends him. She is nonetheless entranced by his fluorescent charisma, as, in due course, is Flip, an Oscar Wilde-quoting jock-with-a-heart who acts as Billy’s no-homo admirer and protector. (We’re flirting with outright fantasy here.)

Chief among those unconverted to Billy’s brash charms is Lynette (Abigail Breslin), a self-righteous, Bible-thumping Mean-Girl-in-Chief and imminent homecoming queen who spouts Trump-style rhetoric by the lipglossed mouthful. She’s easy to loathe, but “Freak Show” practically casts as a villain anyone not dazzled by Billy’s inner light — a position that grows harder to cheer for as his own character remains so stubbornly, one-dimensionally self-oriented. “I gotta be me,” Billy insists, and rightly so — but when that state of being appears to preclude any interest in, or empathy with, even his most supportive peers, the message rings a little hollow.

It’s exciting to see Lawther, so affecting as the young Alan Turing in “The Imitation Game” and as a yearning gay teen in “Departure,” crafting such a multifaceted gallery of queer portraiture early in his career, but his brighest efforts can’t make Billy more character than concept. “Freak Show,” meanwhile, doesn’t exhibit an understanding of queer identity that goes much deeper than the sheer sequined fabulosity of Billy’s image. In an impassioned, inspirational school address — the kind to which you know the film is building from its first frame — he finally hints at broader understanding: “You’re all freaks too — isn’t that what being a teenager is all about?” It’s a tardy glimmer of solidarity in what’s otherwise aggressively, even oppressively, a glitter-strewn one-man show.


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‘Heroin(e)’ Shows What’s Missing In Addressing Opioid Epidemic – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


WASHINGTON — The new Netflix documentary “Heroin(e)” follows three women as they try to address the opioid epidemic in their own community of Huntington, W. Va.

The city has been dubbed the overdose capital of America, as over the past five years the problem “has kind of snowballed,” Jan Rader, the Huntington fire chief, tells Variety‘s “PopPolitics” on SiriusXM.

“We knew we had to do something,” Rader said.

She is one of the women profiled in the film, along with Drug Court Judge Patricia Keller and Necia Freeman, a realtor who runs a ministry for sex workers. All three women have deployed humane approaches to addressing the epidemic that focus on not giving up on those in the throes of heroine addiction. The film also features the stories of addicts who “graduate” from Keller’s court, in which she applies a mixture of strict instruction and compassion.

Elaine McMillion Sheldon, the director of the movie, said that in starting out, she wasn’t aware of “how our war on drugs is potentially starting to change, with people having more empathy. This is a new conversation to care about, to not just lock up someone and call him a criminal but to actually care about this thing they are suffering from.”

Rader said that emergency personnel respond to about five overdoses a day. The Huntington fire department this year has responded to 1,204 overdoses, a high figure for a city of 49,000. There have been about 1,800 county-wide.

“We don’t treat people poorly for eating a whole cake, and having a diabetic emergency because of it, so why are we treating people poorly who relapsed and overdosed?” Rader says. “It just doesn’t make sense. We as a society need to change the way we look at this. We need to lift people up. Kindness has fallen by the wayside.”

President Trump has declared the opioid crisis to be a national emergency, but Rader says that it remains to be seen whether that will translate into funding for such things as drug courts in other communities.

Listen here, starting at the 39:15 mark.

PopPolitics,” hosted by Variety’s Ted Johnson, airs from 2-3 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-noon PT on SiriusXM’s political channel POTUS. 


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