Jerry Garcia Feted by Heartbreakers, Indie Rockers. Bluegrass Greats – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Maybe Hiss Golden Messenger said it best, in a tweet after Friday night’s tribute to Jerry Garcia at downtown Los Angeles’ Theatre at Ace Hotel (at which lead singer MC Taylor was one of the performers): “Seeing Stephen Malkmus, Benmont Tench and David Hidalgo onstage together creates a hugely enjoyable cognitive dissonance.” In this particular Dead-related case, “cognitive dissonance” was not even intended as a synonym for tripping, but just the fun of seeing celebrity fans from different disciplines focus attention on some of Garcia’s under-celebrated sides. At the end of the three-hour show, you could even say: What a long trip of strange bedfellows it’s been.

The guest singers might have been the ones with their names on the souvenir poster, but the highlight of the night, for many, was a semi-reunion of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers or Mudcrutch, take your pick), with Tench, the house keyboard player and ringmaster of the band, Tench, joined on several incendairy occasions by guitarist Mike Campbell. When they first appeared together early in the show, backing Hiss’ Taylor on a seven-minute version of “Loser,” a song from Garcia’s seminal 1972 solo album, the world felt more set aright than it has been for about five months.

Of course, a lot of Garcia fans in the house have had their hearts broken for about 23 years. Dead & Company shows fill a void, but this warm and savvy tribute show filled a different one, aimed slightly more at the kind of intelligentsia who would’ve just as easily gone to a Garcia/David Grisman side project gig as a mothership show. It wasn’t entirely clear in advance what the focus of the set would be, but it’d become more or less evident by the time house guitarist Sean Watkins (of Nickel Creek fame) put words to it toward the end. Their intention, he explained, had been to assemble the playlist kind of in thirds, roughly equally divided between Dead staples, material from Garcia’s solo catalog, and traditionals that he’d played along the way.

The setlist math didn’t turn out to be quite as exact as Watkins suggested, since nine of the 20 selections were Garcia/Robert Hunter compositions originally recorded by the Dead. But even the part of the crowd that delighted most at the revival of deep, deep, deep cuts wasn’t exactly complaining about the imbalance… not when the slight tilt toward Dead classics after all resulted in modern country heroine Margo Price singing both “Friend of the Devil” and “Casey Jones” (while, on the latter, also taking over the drum kit), or Amos Lee doing a sublime “Black Muddy River” (which, he pointed out, Garcia sang at the very last Dead show), or house fidder Sara Watkins beautifully building “Brokedown Palace” right back up into a gospel-roots hymn.

If ever there were a show filled largely with Dead material that would appeal to a non-Deadhead, this was it, though, with a substantial focus on Garcia as both a bluegrass nut and a practitioner of the basic singer/songwriter form (with a little help from Robert Hunter, whose lyrics never rang loud and poetically clear as they did Friday night). Jam-band types couldn’t exactly feel like they were getting short shrift, though, on a night that not only had Campbell filling Garcia’s shoes and hands in some free-form-feeling solos and codas, but unlikely sights like a mandolin/guitar duel between bluegrass legend Sam Bush and Los Lobos’ Hidalgo.

Hidalgo, incidentally, was the only participant who got to sing a song he’d actually written, since Los Lobos’ 1984 track “Evangeline” became a staple of Jerry Garcia Band performances before and after it turned up on a 1991 live album.

The other “cover songs” that Garcia once did and were revived here date back a little further than the ‘80s… some of them maybe to the 1880s. Among the folk songs that Garcia played with or without the Dead that made it into the tribute set were “Shady Grove” (which Tench and Campbell also recorded, with Mudcrutch), “Jack-a-roe,” “I’ve Been All Around This World,” and the closing full-cast sing-along, “Going Down the Road Feeling Bad.” On top of those, there were two more picks during a bluegrass sub-set in the second half that might have stumped even most of the hardcore cultists in the crowd:  “Legend of the Johnson Boys” and “Long Lonesome Road.” Those are both included on a four-CD set that’s coming in May, “Before the Dead,” which contains recordings of Garcia’s jug-band versions of those tunes from ’61-62, when he was a member of the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers. (Luckly for miracle ticket seekers in the decades to follow, they never had to hear themselves referred to Hog Stomper-heads.)

Other performances on the more rock side included Josh Ritter’s show-opening “Dire Wolf”; a slow and stately but highly crowd-rousing “To Lay Me Down” from Billy Strings; a “New Speedway Boogie” that had Mary Beth Richardson, a singer from the Alabama band Banditos, expertly channeling Janis Joplin; and Pavement’s Malkmus literally kicking out the jams — as in, putting his foot aloft every once in a while — and breaking out the boogie on “Bertha,” joined by soloist Hidalgo.

The show was co-presented as a chartiable effort by the Jerry Garcia Family (several daughters were in attendance) and the Bluegrass Situation, whose Americana-leaning shows don’t always live up quite so literally to the org’s name as this one sometimes got to, thanks to Garcia’s lifelong string-band fixation.

Bluegrass Situation founder Ed Helms introduced the show by pointing out that he was “totally tripping right now,” but only because he was sleepless from having an infant at home. The actor also pointed out the rightness of their Garcia tribute taking place at L.A.’s former United Artists Theatre, which to him, with its weird stalagmites hanging from the proescenium over a Spanish gothic interior, is “the most psychedelic theater in Los Angeles.”


Source link

‘Magnum PI,’ ‘Cagney and Lacey’ Reboots Among Six Pilot Orders at CBS – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


CBS picked up six pilots for the 2018-2019 season, including reboots of “Cagney and Lacey” and “Magnum P.I.”

“Magnum P.I.” is described as an updated version of the original series that follows Thomas Magnum, a decorated ex-Navy SEAL who, upon returning home to Hawaii from Afghanistan, repurposes his military skills to become a private investigator. Tom Selleck played the mustachioed Magnum in the original series.

Peter Lenkov, the writer and producer behind current CBS reboots of “Hawaii Five-O” and “MacGyver,” will serve as the writer and executive producer on the new version of the classic 1980s series, which had previously gotten a pilot production commitment at the network. Eric Guggenheim, an executive producer and writer on Lenkov’s “Hawaii Five-O,” will also write and executive produce. John Davis and John Fox of Davis Entertainment will also executive produce. CBS Television Studios will co-produce with Universal Television.

The original “Magnum P.I.” aired from 1980-1988 for eight seasons and 158 episodes on CBS.

Cagney and Lacey” will follow the titular female police detectives and friends as they keep the streets of L.A. safe. Bridget Carpenter will serve as writer and executive producer. CBS Television Studios will produce with MGM Television.

Carpenter, who is under an overall deal at CBS Television Studios, recently worked as a consulting producer on HBO’s “Westworld” and has previously produced and written shows like “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood.” She also developed the Hulu series “11.22.63.”

The original “Cagney and Lacey” ran for seven seasons and 125 episodes on CBS from 1982 to 1988. The series also spawned four made-for-TV movies in the mid-90s. Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly played the title roles for the vast majority of the series, though Loretta Swit played Cagney in the original two-hour pilot and Meg Foster played Lacey for the first season.

CBS also picked up one other drama with this batch of pilot orders, titled “Chiefs.” The project explores the professional and personal lives of three driven, successful, but very different women who are each Chiefs of Police of their own precincts in L.A. County.

David Hudgins will write and executive produce “Chiefs” with Carol Mendelsohn and Julie Weitz also executive producing. Sony Pictures Television will produce with CBS Television Studios. Hudgins, who is under an overall deal at Sony, previously developed the NBC series “Game of Silence.” He also produced and wrote for “Parenthood,” “Friday Night Lights,” and “Everwood.” Mendelsohn was also an executive producer on “Game of Silence” and served as an executive producer on every iteration of the “CSI” franchise.

CBS has also ordered three multi-camera comedies to pilot.

The first is titled “Here Comes the Neighborhood,” and would follow the nicest guy in the Midwest who moves his family into a tough neighborhood in L.A. where not everyone appreciates his extreme neighborliness. Jim Reynolds will write and executive produce, with Aaron Kaplan, Dana Honor, and Wendi Trilling also executive producing. CBS Television Studios will produce.

Reynolds has worked on “Big Bang” since Season 3. In addition to writing, he has worked on the show as a producer, supervising producer, co-executive producer, and now executive producer. His other credits include “Samantha Who?,” “That’s So Raven,” and “Rodney.”

The next project is called “Fam.” In the show, a woman’s dreams of an upstanding life with her new fiancé and his upstanding family are dashed when her younger train wreck half-sister comes to live with her to escape their train wreck of a father.

Corinne Kingsbury will write and executive produce. David Rosenthal will also executive produce with Kaplan, Honor and Trilling also executive producing.

Finally, the comedy “Pandas in New York” follows a family of Indian doctors with a successful group practice in New York City who embark on a project to arrange their youngest son’s life, unaware he’s made plans of his own.

Ajay Sahgal will write and executive produce. CBS Television Studios will produce. Sahgal has previously wrote for and co-executive produced “The Carmichael Show.”


Source link

Garry Shandling’s Twitter Account Revived by Friends – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Fans of the late, great Garry Shandling can look forward to some new material.

According to a tweet on Shandling’s Twitter account, friends of the comic are working with his estate to “open up” his Twitter.

“We will occasionally tweet material from the writings, notes and journals he has left us,” the tweet reads. “‘Let life live through you. Presence. Compassion. Kindness.’”

Since the tweet, three further jokes have been posted to the account, with one linking to the HBO website for Judd Apatow’s new Shandling documentary “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.” The film explores Shandling’s life and career as a stand-up comedian through the vast archive of diaries the comic kept. HBO released the documentary March 26, two days after the two-year anniversary of Shandling’s death.

At the “Zen Diaries” premiere, Apatow remarked on Shandling’s intentional mentoring of younger comics, including himself. “I knew he was available to people and he was really kind and if you said, ‘Will you read my script?’ he would give you notes. But he wrote in his journals that he wanted to help people and he thought that was the win in life, to help people.”

“I was able to get an enormous amount of footage from different people and then I realized ‘Oh, this would make a great Bob Dylan-type two-part documentary’ so we spent about a year searching for footage and just watching footage and then a year editing it,” Apatow added. “It was a pretty massive job but really fun.”

Shandling, who worked on “The Larry Sanders Show” in addition to numerous other credits, died suddenly in 2016 as the result of a pulmonary embolism.


Source link

Laura Ingraham Says She’ll Take Vacation Amid Controversy – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Laura Ingraham is taking avacation next week. Now the question is whether a controversy swirling around the host will go on hiatus as well.

The popular Fox News Channel host  – her “Ingraham Angle” was the fourth most-watched cable-news program in February – told viewers Friday night she would not appear on air next week as she took what she described as a pre-planned break around the Easter holiday with her children. Substitute hosts are expected to fill in for her on the program.

She leaves in the midst of heightened scrutiny. Ingraham set off an imbroglio Wednesday with a Twitter post mocking Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg, one of the students who has spoken out about gun control prominently since a February 14th shooting incident at the Parkland, Florida school left 17 people dead. Her tweet linked to a report noting Hogg had been rejected from four California colleges.  Her tweet also said Hogg “whines about” the rejections. In response, Hogg posted on social media a list of recent advertisers in her program culled from Media Matters, a left-leaning watchdog group, and urged followers to pressure them to remove their commercials from Ingraham’s show. Nestle, Johnson & Johnson,  TripAdvisor, Nutrish, Expedia and Hulu – a video-streaming company partly owned by Fox News parent 21st Century Fox – are among the advertisers who have said they would no longer advertise in her program.

Ingraham apologized Thursday via Twitter, noting that she was sorry “for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.” She invited the student to appear on her program.  Hogg said he would not accept her apology.

Many advertisers appeared to keep their distance from the program on Friday. The only blue-chip advertiser to appear over the course of the hour-long broadcast was IBM. Otherwise, many of the sponsors were direct-response advertisers like, or lesser-known entities such as the American Petroleum Institute, Interstate Batteries and KT Tape. Fox News also filled commercial breaks with promos for hosts like Bret Baier, or the mid-morning team of Bill Hemmer and Sandra Smith.

Her Friday announcement drew eerie parallels to another Fox News host who came under the microscope. Last April, Bill O’Reilly announced a pre-planned vacation just before Easter weekend in the midst of an even greater controversy. Advertisers were moving commercials elsewhere on the network after a New York Times report detailed accusations of sexual harassment levied against the host who was at the time the linchpin of the Fox News primetime lineup. He never returned to the air, fired eight days later in a letter signed by the three members of the Murdoch family most active in running Fox News’ parent company, 21st Century Fox: Rupert Murdoch, Lachlan Murdoch and James Murdoch.

There is no indication at this point that Fox News executives want Ingraham to remain off air. Her program has fit seamlessly into a primetime lineup that was re-calibrated last fall, and is now flanked with programming anchored by two other female hosts, Martha MacCallum and Shannon Bream. Ingraham, a longtime contributor to the network, built up her own audience base with her long-running radio program.

Fox News is working with advertisers, says a person familiar with the network’s ad sales strategy, accommodating sponsors who wish to move commercials elsewhere, but also maintaining a long-term view about the program and its connection with Madison Avenue. In February, “The Ingraham Angle” drew an average of more than 2.6 million viewers, according to Nielsen. Only Fox News’ “Hannity,” and “Tucker Carlson Tonight” and MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” attracted more viewers that month. With that size of an audience and following – Ingraham is also a longtime radio host – advertisers could find her program difficult to ignore in the future.

Ingraham has not addressed the social-media controversy on air, and avoided the topic on Friday night’s program. The broadcast was billed as a “special,” and Ingraham devoted the episode to segments that examined “culture wars in the age of Trump.” Her return to the Fox News lineup will determine if she’s caught in one of her own.




Source link

Hot-Button Topics Mostly Avoided as Academy Toasts Honorary Oscar Recipients – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


As awards season launches underneath a shadow for the second year in a row, Oscar contenders aplenty turned out to salute four cinema legends and a bold work of immersive art Saturday night.

But the current headline-making ills plaguing the industry failed to creep into an evening dedicated to celebration. Gary Oldman (“Darkest Hour”), Saoirse Ronan (“Lady Bird”), Willem Dafoe (“The Florida Project”) and Allison Janney (“I, Tonya”) were just some of the names on hand to raise a glass to filmmakers Charles Burnett and Agnes Varda, cinematographer Owen Roizman and actor Donald Sutherland at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ ninth annual Governors Awards ceremony.

Also honored was filmmaker Alejandro G. Inarritu, for his virtual reality installation “Carne y Arena.” The Oscar-winning director of “Birdman” and “The Revenant” received a rare special commendation from the Academy for his efforts.

Luminaries such as Lawrence Kasdan, Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Chastain, Angelina Jolie and Ava DuVernay dropped into the program to pay their respects to the quintet as the non-televised satellite Oscars event unfolded at the Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood, just a few flights above the very spot where new Oscar winners will be crowned in four months’ time.

“Tonight’s honorees have each added a single voice to the chorus of world cinema,” AMPAS president John Bailey said in his opening remarks. Indeed, as the Academy softly pivots to the internationalization of the organization amid an ongoing inclusion debate, this year’s lineup of honorary Oscar recipients was one of the most diverse ever.

Roizman’s honor kicked off the evening. Kasdan noted that the “genius brew” conjured by the celebrated cinematographer and director William Friedkin on early 1970s films like “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist” changed movies forever. “We all wanted our movies to look like that,” Kasdan said.

Hoffman, who worked with Roizman on Sydney Pollack’s “Tootsie,” had the honors of presenting, noting that the lenser “sees not only a picture, an image — but a story.”

Visibly touched, the five-time Oscar-nominated Roizman paid tribute to the collaborative nature of the medium. “Film is made up of many silver particles,” he said. “Each one represents someone working on a film.”

The comedy portion of the evening came next, courtesy of Academy directors branch governor Kimberly Peirce. In a long and hilarious ode to filmmaker Agnes Varda alongside documentary branch governor Kate Amend, Peirce probably broke a record at the buttoned-up event for most mentions of the word “orgasm.”

Chastain, meanwhile, noted that “the difference between being an iconoclast and an icon is time, and Agnes Varda has somehow managed to remain on the cutting edge.” Jolie followed, adding that “‘female director’ is a label [Varda] might resist. She is first and foremost an artist. When she started making films, they were not films women weren’t making — they were films no one was making.”

Varda capped her acceptance speech by gifting the evening with one of its most precious photo ops: Cutting a rug on stage with Jolie.

Burnett’s reach and the inspiration he has instilled was also palpable. Filmmakers Reginald Hudlin and Sean Baker, and actors Chadwick Boseman and Tessa Thompson, were among those who paid tribute to the director’s work, which has gone largely under-recognized for much of his career.

Before presenting the Oscar, DuVernay spoke about how she would often look through film history books and note that, inevitably, any section devoted to black filmmaking was grossly limited. It might be a caption, or a paragraph if you’re lucky. “Within the world of that paragraph, you are the universe,” she said to Burnett. “You have centered blackness and rendered us victorious. For that I thank you, sir.”

In accepting the award, Burnett was candid about his insecurities, which weren’t helped by being told early in life by a reckless teacher that he wouldn’t amount to anything. “This award means I’m getting further away from this stigma, this feeling that [my work is] not going to have any meaning, that I don’t have what it takes.”

He’s not sure if that teacher is still around, but if he is, “I hope he reads the trades,” Burnett said.

While the evening mostly steered clear of big sociopolitical statements, Inarritu certainly had something considerable on his mind.

“Ideologies have f—cked up the world,” the “Carne y Arena” director said. “It hasn’t been the people, but the ideas we have about those people … When the word ‘illegal alien’ or ‘rapist’ is fired, the reality of a certain human life or a community is reduced to an idea, and whoever believes or possesses and fires that idea, ends up impoverishing, misleading and degrading their perception of reality.”

He went on to speak about the state of immigration the world over, specifically noting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which was rescinded by the Trump administration in September. He also quoted Buddhist activist Thich Nhat Hanh to make his point: “‘Understanding is love’s other name.’ If you don’t understand, you can’t love.” He closed by noting that he is not interested in technology to reinvent or escape reality, but rather, to use it to embrace reality and wield it as a tool for empathy. That was the goal of his latest work.

The Academy hasn’t given out a peripheral “special” Oscar since it honored “Toy Story” in 1996, so Inarritu’s recognition was a momentous occasion indeed.

The night closed with Sutherland, who has somehow never received an Oscar nomination throughout his storied career. “The closest I ever got was I gave one away once,” the actor joked on Variety‘s “Playback” podcast ahead of the ceremony.

Colin Farrell, Ron Meyer, Jennifer Lawrence and Whoopi Goldberg all joined together in toasting the 82-year-old veteran. “As an actor, I want to make magic, and Donald Sutherland is one of the greatest magicians ever,” Goldberg said.

On stage, Sutherland — who worked with Bailey on Robert Redford’s 1980 film “Ordinary People” — recalled the phone call he received from the cinematographer giving him the news of his accolade: “He said, ‘It’s John Bailey.’ I said, ‘John Bailey? [‘Ordinary People’] was 37 years ago.’ He said, ‘I’ve been made president of the Academy.’ I said, ‘Congratulations.’ He said, ‘No, I’m calling to congratulate you!’”

The actor held court in the ceremony’s final moments with the kind of gravitas Steven Spielberg noted of him in comments delivered earlier in the evening. Standing there, finally an Oscar recipient after a career bordering on 200 credits, he looked right at home.


Source link

DirecTV Lassoes Cowboy Channel, ’48 Hours’ Revisits Waco, ‘When Calls the Heart’ Scores for Hallmark – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


In today’s roundup, Cowboy Channel launches on DirecTV, CBS sets a “48 Hours” special on the 25th anniversary of the Waco tragedy, and Hallmark Channel scores with its “When Calls the Heart” Christmas telepic.


The Cowboy Channel, a western sports and lifestyle network, has bowed on DirecTV. Airing rodeo, bull riding and barrel racing, along with western fashion, music and movies, the channel is now available on the largest MVPDs, including Comcast, Cox, Charter Spectrum and Dish Network. The deal doubles Cowboy Channel’s total distribution base, bringing it to about 30 million homes. It’s a sibling channel of RFD-TV, owned by Rural Media Group.

CBS will air a special “48 Hours” episode titled “The Secrets of Waco,” about cult leader David Koresh, on Friday at 8 p.m. The date marks the 25th anniversary of the start of the deadly 51-day standoff between Koresh and followers of his Branch Davidians sect and the FBI at the group’s compound in Waco, Texas. The special promises to reveal new details about the incident, including an interview with a UPS driver who unknowingly delivered ammunition to the compound. Koresh and more than 70 others died after tear gas lobbed into the buildings by law enforcement caught fire.


Netflix will release original documentary series “Somebody Feed Phil” on Jan. 12. The show follows “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal on a culinary tour around the world, with stops in Lisbon, Bangkok, Tel Aviv, Mexico City, and New Orleans. Watch the trailer below.



Hallmark Channel scored on Christmas Day with the premiere of original movie “When Calls the Heart: The Christmas Wishing Tree.” The 8 p.m. telecast grabbed 3.6 million viewers, making Hallmark second only to ESPN among cablers in primetime. The movie also delivered demo gains over last year’s “When Calls the Heart” Christmas Day special.

(Pictured: David Koresh)


Source link

Amazon Prime Video Acquires More Than 40 French Shows, Films – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Amazon Prime Video has acquired more than 40 premium French series and films from several key French distribution companies to feed the library of Prime Video in France, which launched at the end of 2016.

The streaming giant signed deals with TF1 Droits Audiovisuels, France TV Distribution, AB Droits Audiovisuels, Newen Distribution, EuropaCorp, About Premium Content, Roissy Films and The Bureau Sales.

“We are thrilled to partner with such respected French content creators and distributors and will continue to add leading content to Prime Video in France,” said Jay Marine, vice president of Prime Video Europe.

The new French programs acquired by Amazon Prime include popular TV series such as “Sam,” the remake of the Danish show “Rita,” procedural “Les Innocents,” cop show “Captain Sharif,” family comedy series “Desperate Parents,” and World War II-set series “A French Village.”

Amazon Prime Video also acquired French films such as Régis Roinsard’s “Populaire,” Thomas Cailley’s “Love at First Fight” (pictured), which topped Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2014, Laurent Cantet’s Palme d’Or winning “The Class” and Martin Provost’s Cesar-winning “Seraphine.”

Julien Verley, CEO at France TV Distribution, said the three series that his company sold to Amazon – “Captain Marleau,” “Criminal Games” and “Captain Sharif” – were ratings successes in France. “We are pleased to be part of this partnership with Prime Video which maximizes the exposure of French work and original content,” Verley said.

Prime Video’s slate of original series includes “The Grand Tour,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “The Man in the High Castle,” “American Gods,” “Transparent,” “Mozart in the Jungle,” “Bosch” and “Goliath.”


Source link

A Take-Off on ‘Fatal Attraction’ – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


In “Fatal Attraction” (1987), the thriller that brought a new kind of possessed feminine rage to the screen, the Glenn Close character — a scorned Medusa — often did things that looked crazy; she stalked and terrorized, she flashed her demon smile, and she boiled a bunny. Yet there was a core of furious sanity to her lunacy. She’d been seduced and betrayed, and she stood in for all the women who had ever felt used in that way. She may have snapped, but on the movie’s terms she’d earned the right to go off her rocker.

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony” is Perry’s off-the-wall, inside-out, topsy-turvy variation on “Fatal Attraction.” The central character, Melinda, played by Taraji P. Henson in what has become her trademark mode of this-one-goes-to-eleven wrath, looks out from the screen with an anger so coldly consuming it turns her skin to ash. The film opens in a courtroom, where Melinda, in purple lipstick, scowling like a kabuki puppet, is chastised by the judge for failing to obey a restraining order. We then see her in her therapist’s office, brooding and chain-smoking as she discusses the relationship that ruined her life.

What we hear on the soundtrack (and a lot of this movie — too much of it — is Taraji P. Henson telling us things on the soundtrack) is a narrative of absolute betrayal: the con man named Robert who seduced Melinda with his lies and his soft-spoken manner, and who took all her money, and kept lying and stealing and betraying. No wonder she felt like she had to get even. With every hoarse breath, she tells us: The bastard had it coming.

But everything that happens in “Acrimony” seems a little off-kilter, because the story the movie presents doesn’t track with the lurid fever dream of adultery that Melinda is telling us. And it’s not always clear where the disconnect is coming from. Melinda, as the film goes on, is revealed to be a deeply unreliable narrator. But the trouble with this love-story-from-hell thriller — and the reason it may leave even Perry’s fans scratching their heads — is that Perry, in “Acrimony,” is a grabby but unreliable filmmaker. He has made a scattershot drama in which overwrought feminine rage, diary-of-a-mad-woman craziness, and inept filmmaking are all but inseparable.

What makes it genuinely confusing is that for a while, at least, it seems as if Melinda is delivering the straight-up truth. In college, she meets Robert (the two are played by Ajiona Alexus, who plays the younger version of Henson on “Empire,” and Antonio Madison), and he seems the perfect handsome selfless dude. At least, until her mother’s funeral, when he exploits her grief to seduce her and then gets her to take $25,000 out of her inheritance to buy him a vintage car. Then he doesn’t call her for two days, and she shows up at the grungy trailer home he lives in, and — yes — he’s sleeping with someone else.

This is a little too much sleazy behavior too early on, but the real trouble with Robert is that he’s a flake and a sponger. He and Melinda stay together, and Robert, now played by the fascinatingly tense actor Lyriq Bent, is working on an invention that he says will make them rich: a self-charging battery he dreams of selling to the Prescott company. The company has a lottery system for looking at potential clients, and Robert spends years — like, literally, a decade — standing outside the corporate headquarters, trying to wrangle an appointment.

But if his crusade seems nuts (and it sort of does), it’s mostly in a cut-rate-filmmaking way, with Robert cast as a lazy and depressed mad scientist. After all, if he were really such a brilliant inventor, surely he could manage to land an appointment! There’s a racial-political subtext here (a black man without connections can’t just land an appointment), but the effect is to shore up the suspicion that Melinda is waiting around for a pipe dream that is destined not to happen. Robert keeps draining her finances (she’s forced to mortgage the home she inherited from her mother), and by sticking with him she appears to be colluding in the slow-motion destruction of her life. So can we really say that she’s been “betrayed”?

The hook of “Acrimony” is clear: The audience wants to see Taraji P. Henson go hog-wild with rage. And yes, that happens, once Melinda gets divorced and learns that the women who has replaced her will now reap the benefits she never enjoyed in her marriage. That’s a good subject for a domestic-jealousy thriller — except that the movie, by this point, has established that Melinda is a paranoid crackpot. And that raises the question: When the heroine of a demented soap opera has borderline personality disorder, does her anger come from the situation that allegedly provoked it — or is that just an excuse? “Acrimony” has too many coincidences, and none of it has much suspenseful grip, since the movie, which relies on Perry’s expository bluntness, isn’t crafted with enough cinematic cunning to draw us into the psychological states it depicts. It’s “Fatal Attraction” without the fateful power. By the time “Acrimony” reaches its Grand Guignol finale, it’s the movie that seems to have borderline personality disorder.


Source link

‘When People Harass Others They Should Always Be Held Accountable” – Variety – Sharing Variety Magazine


Supergirl” star Melissa Benoist has released a statement on Twitter calling for safe workplaces and for harassers to be held accountable. “Supergirl” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg was suspended Friday by Warner Bros. TV Group while the studio conducts an investigation of multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him. However, Benoist did not mention a specific name or reason in her tweet.

“I am a woman who leads a show that supports equality and feminism, empowerment, and fighting for what is right,” she wrote, “Sadly, the show and my career are part of an industry that doesn’t always mirror these sentiments.”

“When people commit crimes or harass others they should always be held accountable — no matter what industry they work in or how much power they wield.

“So this week, I’ll head back to Supergirl even more committed to being a part of changing the norm by listening when people speak up, and refusing to accept an environment that is anything less than a safe, respectful and collaborative space,” she wrote.

Kreisberg, who also is exec producer on CW shows “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” is alleged by 19 people to have asked for massages from female staff members, made continuous sexual comments, and created an extremely uncomfortable work environment, particularly for female staffers.

He denied to Variety that any inappropriate touching or massages occurred.


Source link