James Lipton steps down as host of Inside the Actors Studio

Who is your favorite host? If you answered James Lipton, you’re going to have to find a new one. The longtime moderated of the Hollywood interview program Inside the Actors Studio is stepping down from the job.

Since 1994, Lipton has presented fascinating discussions with some of entertainments’ biggest stars at Pace University in New York City. Bravo has aired the series since 1990, but when it moves to Ovation TV in 2019, Lipton will not be going with it. Instead, Inside the Actors Studio will feature a rotating panel of guest hosts.

There is, however, a chance that Lipton will make the occasional appearance. “James Lipton’s future involvement will be determined based on his availability,” executive vp programming and production at Ovation Scott Woodward told The Hollywood Reporter. “But we’d love to have him involved.”

Lipton shared his own statement regarding his retirement, saying,

“It’s very gratifying to see the legacy of Inside the Actors Studio being carried forward for a new generation to appreciate and enjoy. I made a vow early on that we would not deal in gossip — only in craft, and Ovation, as a network dedicated to the arts, will continue that tradition with the next seasons of the series. I’m excited to see the new hosts engage with the guests and students and continue to entertain viewers in the U.S. and around the world.”

Lipton held iconic interviews with individuals such as Tom Hanks, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep, Robin Williams, George Clooney, Dave Chappelle, and even the animated cast of The Simpsons during his tenure at Inside the Actors Studio. With Lipton at the helm (also writing and executive producing), the program garnered 20 Emmy nominations, winning Outstanding Informational Series or Special in 2013.

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Pete Davidson responds to Chevy Chase’s SNL criticism: “He’s a fucking douchebag”

Chevy Chase has a long history of taking bites of his career with his mouth. He did so again in a recent interview in which he had some pointedly unkind words for the show that made him, Saturday Night LiveSpecifically, he called the current run of the long-running variety show “the worst fucking humor in the world…” Well, current star and future Mr. Ariana Grande, Pete Davidson, wasn’t having any of it.

Appearing on The Howard Stern Show (via PageSix) to talk mostly about his fiancé, Davidson held nothing back when addressing Chase and his remarks. “He’s a fuckking douchebag,” the 24-year-old comic said. “Fuckk Chevy Chase… he’s just a genuinely bad, racist person and I don’t like him. He’s a putz.”

He wasn’t done, either:

“What has he done since ’83? Nothing. He had a big career and then it stopped because everybody realized he’s a jerkoff. He should know more than anybody. It’s disrespectful to Lorne [Michaels] too, a guy who gave you a career. No matter how big you get, you can’t forget what that guy did for you.”

Well, in Chase’s defense, he did have Community in the late-’00s/early-’10s. But we all know how that ended.

Saturday Night Live returns for its 44th season on September 29th. Adam Driver hosts while Kanye West makes his seventh appearance as musical guest.

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Love It or Hate It, You’ll Never Forget Netflix’s Maniac

One’s enjoyment of Maniac is really going to depend on personal experience, and that reality exists on a few different levels. For one, an appreciation of creator Patrick Somerville‘s series is going to require at least a passing awareness of the Golden Era of Television, and how many different experiments have been performed on traditional episodic storytelling in the last five years alone. Maniac also deals with mental illness and its associated public manifestations in such a bracing manner that, good or bad, those who can relate to it will have a great deal to say. At large, that emotional connection is another key to enjoying the show, because if you don’t connect to it in some way, Maniac might otherwise be quite a chore to get through.

Maniac is trying in several different aspects, but that’s not always a bad thing. Except for when it decidedly is, anyway. Loosely (we stress very loosely) based on a 2014 Norwegian comedy series, Maniac enters the late stages of a pharmaceutical trial in order to spiral through the looking glass. Using a bio-organic super-computer with a personality of its own, and the latest in chemical breakthroughs, Neberdine Pharmaceutical Biotech is closing in on a world-changing discovery: a medication capable of curing any and all mental traumas. It would “heal the brain,” in so many words. Everything from PTSD to family trauma to everyday sadness would be instantly mendable.

Maniac, Netflix

Maniac, Netflix

The only flaw? It’s a drug for humans, thus requiring human test subjects, and Maniac makes clear from its earliest scenes that the biggest danger to the experiment isn’t GRTE, the super-computer invented by James K. Mantleray (Justin Theroux) to develop physiological connections with the test subjects. It’s the simple, unavoidable thing that ruins most science: human error. Maniac turns surreal before long, but its protagonists are always fallibly human, on both sides of the experiment.

On the one side is Dr. Azumi Fujita (Sonoya Mizuno), the head researcher on the GRTE project and the standard-bearer of Mantleray’s years of research. On the other are six people, four of whom met the many detailed requirements for participating in the study, which involves being sequestered in a lab for an indeterminate period and having your reactions to the new drug closely studied. The other two are the kind of wild variables for which no researcher could possibly account. There’s Owen Milgrim (Jonah Hill), the deeply troubled youngest son of a privileged family, who struggles to distinguish his innate lapses in reality with the years of abuse and trauma heaped on him by his WASPy family. And there’s Annie Landsberg (Emma Stone), who managed to get her hands on enough of the drug on the black market that she’s now addicted to its powerfully hallucinatory properties. But for both Annie and Owen, that’s not the only reason they’re there.

To get into the motives driving each of the show’s troubled dual protagonists is to give away much of the disorienting joy of working through Maniac. The series, as created by Somerville and directed in full by Cary Joji Fukunaga, is of a piece with so many other recent narrative experiments in how far off the reservation a show can run from its initial premise before it begins to grow tiring. Unlike a great number of those, however, Maniac exists at a strange intersection between dramatic highs and off-putting lows, occasionally hitting each within minutes of one another. Its influences will undoubtedly be listed in the coming months and years, but it most immediately recalls Legion, another series obsessed with neon colors and seemingly random digressions and the interior lives of deeply flawed people. Like that show, it’s sometimes transcendent in its emotional power. Also like that show, it’s sometimes too precious by half, which can work in some storytelling contexts and usually struggles in ones involving profound trauma.

Fukunaga’s direction will undoubtedly find its following, but it’s the kind of showy visual filmmaking that some audiences will love and others will absolutely loathe, without allowing for too much room in between. From the VHS-tinted introduction starring an aloof Theroux to Owen’s anachronistic office full of IBM-style word processors to the Blade Runner shadings in his vision of a near-futuristic New York City, Maniac is designed to be embraced with open arms by film school types who privilege aesthetic over all. But by the time the series reaches the lab, all Logan’s Run opacity and Refn swatches of primary color, Maniac has done a great deal of both showing and telling while occasionally struggling its way to a salient point.

Maniac, Netflix

Maniac, Netflix

That’s the series in microcosm, really: it’s beautiful, it’s stylish as hell, and at points it’s as interesting as anything on TV all year. When it goes off the rails, however, it’s hard to tell which way is up, or why one should care. To the point of the former, at least, Maniac‘s best attributes are front and center. Much has been made of Stone and Hill reuniting onscreen for the first time since Superbad 11 years ago, but in that time, both have changed substantially as performers. Hill recalls Adam Sandler’s poignant work in Punch Drunk Love here, turning Owen into the kind of man who’s been beaten into submission (figuratively and literally) for so many years that he can barely speak above a mumble or function on his own. Stone does some of her best work to date here as Annie, offering a more convincing version of her caustic Birdman mode as somebody who’s found a very particular way of dealing with trauma and finds herself holding onto it for dear life, no matter where it takes her.

The parts of Maniac left to interpretation tend to be the show’s best, because that’s where Somerville and Fukunaga find the show’s messy soul. Maniac is as much a show about the wounds we can’t close (or refuse to), and in each of the heady “trip” sequences kicked off by the pills, only a few things tether the viewer to the familiar. There’s always either Hill or Stone, and the people they recognize. For Owen, it’s his severe father Porter (Gabriel Byrne) and his shitheel older brother Jed (Billy Magnussen, terrific). For Annie, it’s her sister Ellie (Julia Garner), from whom she’s been estranged for some time. When Maniac really digs into the roots of the trauma driving both Owen and Annie mad, it recalls the most evocative sequences of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: trips through the consciousness that drive at how the mind will never ultimately win out over the heart.

When it leaves the hallucinations, things get shakier. Maniac works in a riot of themes and modes as it unfolds, and by far the least engaging of them is the psychology going on behind the control panel. While Mizuno and Theroux both do terrific work, as scientists from wildly different schools of thought hoping to change the world as it’s going mad around them, the lab sequences leave some of the season’s later emotional revelations feeling flatter than they should. Where Annie and Owen’s adventures are at least enthralling whether or not they work (it’s about a 60/40 ratio in favor), Fujita and Mantleray’s struggles to figure out why GRTE isn’t working the way they want seem to be present for the sole sake of filling in the dramatic blanks that the hallucinations leave so thrillingly vague. Sure, it’s their arc that leads to a fantastic cameo performance down the stretch, but it often struggles to match the freewheeling verve of the central story.

While Maniac‘s hyper-stylization occasionally works to heighten the stakes between each of its blissfully short episodes (it runs the gamut from about 25-45 minutes per), it also occasionally steers the show into lurid places that exist at odds with its moments of genuine, earned sentiment. Maniac occasionally deals in the kind of hyper-violence that both prestige TV and Netflix in particular have made so fashionable of late, but Fukunaga carries several of these sequences to such a vicious extreme that they feel culled from an entirely different series. There’s a clear thread being drawn between interior anguish and exterior savagery, but it’s never defined well enough to make a man being cleaved in half by a shotgun blast seem like it belongs in the slightest.

Maniac, Netflix

Maniac, Netflix

It also tends to diminish one of the series’ biggest conflicts, and the one that earns most of its power: Are people like Owen and Annie capable of being “all right”? Maniac has a couple of genuinely stunning sequences that engage with this concept, but it also ultimately adopts a strangely ambiguous attitude about the value of medication in mending emotional wounds that’s disarming at best and reminiscent of Garden State‘s insufferably smug “quit the pills, maaaaaan” attitude at worst. Maniac is certainly far less simplistic in its examination of mental illness and the various forms of suffering it can inflict on those with it, but that shouldn’t allow the show to entirely sidestep the issue of it flirting with the suggestion that more illness is psychosomatic than not.

As you’ve probably worked out by now, Maniac is what the kids on Twitter refer to as “a lot.” It’s personal and broad, emotionally raw and visually indulgent, compelling even when it’s infuriating from time to time. In that sense, it’s exactly the kind of series that could only exist in this particular moment: an audacious challenge that’s also at least a little bit up its own ass, and knows and acknowledges it with frequency. It’s not going to be for everybody, but it’s absolutely going to stick with everybody for a while. Whether they love or hate it might just depend on what they can see of themselves in it.

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Buckle up! An Anderson .Paak and Kendrick Lamar collaboration is coming next month

Earlier this month, Anderson .Paak offered fans an update on Oxnard, his new album and the follow-up to 2016’s Malibu. Not only was Dr. Dre “heavily” involved, but DOOM and Freddie Gibbs producer Madlib also had a hand in the hotly anticipated LP, which .Paak is hoping will take today’s music to the next level.

“I feel like ambition is missing from today’s music,” he told Rolling Stone. “This is the album I dreamed of making in high school, when I was listening to [Jay-Z]’s The Blueprint, The Game’s The Documentary, and [Kanye West’s] The College Dropout.”

If the aforementioned guests weren’t enough to help .Paak capture this “ambition,” this one certainly might: Kendrick Lamar. In an Instagram post over the weekend, .Paak teased a forthcoming collaboration with Compton’s Kung Fu Kenny. It’s unclear whether their joint effort will be a song, video, or what, but we do know this gift is officially dropping October 4th. Mark it on all your calendars.

(Read: The 25 Most Anticipated Albums of Fall 2018)

Oxnard serves as .Paak’s first release on Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment and last of “his beach series.” Although a firm release date has yet to be revealed, it’s expected to hit shelves sometime in 2018. A social media post suggests Dre just put the finishing touches on the LP a couple of days ago.

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

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Spotify now offering custom playlists based on your DNA

Blink and you’ll likely miss a new update from Spotify. Over the past few weeks, the streaming giant has increased the number of downloads users can possess and opened the hatch for independent musicians to upload their music directly. Now, Spotify is doing stuff with DNA!

Spotify has partnered up with Ancestry.com to offer playlists based on one’s genetic heritage. In other words, a collection of music that’s based on all the different regions in one’s genetic code. So, if you’ve got German blood, get ready for Kraftwerk.

Of course, as with anything involving two conglomerations, there’s a catch. As Spin notes, Ancestry’s terms of service requires you to give up partial rights on how the company uses your DNA, and anyone who’s read a Michael Crichton novel knows that ain’t good.

Stay tuned next week when Spotify starts delivering bands to your doorstep.

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The Joker-Harley Quinn movie sounds dumb as hell

With all the news coming out about Joaquin Phoenix’s The Joker over the last few weeks (including our first look of the star in and out of the makeup), we almost forgot there was another Clown Prince of Crime flick in the works. And then new details about the film’s potential plot came out and we wish we’d never remembered it existed.

Set to star Jared Leto and Margot Robbie reprising their Suicide Squad roles of Joker and Harley Quinn, the movie is being penned by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa. The pair wrote Bad Santa and are executive producers on This Is Us, and it seems like they’re marrying both those productions in an unholy, DC-based union.

“It was sort of like, we wrote Bad Santa a couple of years ago, and it was that sensibility mixed with our This Is Us sensibility. We kind of meshed them together,” Ficarra told Metro. “We were doing a relationship movie but with the sensibility of a Bad Santa, f—ed up, mentally deranged people. It was a lot of fun.”

(Read: 10 Other Female Comic Book Characters That Need Movie Adaptations)

A twisted Harley/Joker romance sounds decent enough for a movie, but something about This Is Bad Santa doesn’t strike as terribly appealing. Especially when you hear Ficarra describe the opening scene: “The whole thing starts with Harley kidnapping Dr. Phil. Played by Dr. Phil, hopefully. Because her and the Joker are having problems with their relationship.” Because nothing says “trendy superhero blockbuster” like a Dr. Phil cameo.

Still, there’s a chance we might never even see this version of the movie. “We handed the script in and everybody loved it, but I don’t know when they are going to do it,” Ficarra explained. He added it’s likely that the Harley/Joker film will depend on the reception to Robbie’s Birds of Prey spinoff.

Speaking of which, the Cathy Yan-directed Birds of Prey has been given at February 7th, 2020 release date by Warner Bros. (via The Hollywood Reporter). The studio has also reportedly been testing actresses to star alongside Robbie’s Harley Quinn in the all-female team-up. It looks like they’ll be changing the race of Black Canary to better suit her name, as Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (A Wrinkle in Time), and Jurnee Smolett-Bell (TV’s Underground) are up for the part. Meanwhile, The LeftoversMargaret Qualley10 Cloverfield Lane’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Cristin Milioti of TV’s Fargo are contending to play Huntress.

According to THR, actresses are also being sought for the roles of detective Renee Montoya and Cassandra Cain, a character who once wore the Batgirl digs but now goes about as Orphan.

(Read: 20 Years Ago, Blade Made Comic Book Movies Credible)

Birds of Prey is just one of several DC projects in the works. Aquaman opens December 21st, while 2019 will see the release of Shazam! (April 5th), The Joker (October 4th) and Wonder Woman 1984 (November 1st). Ezra Miller is set to film his Flash solo film with Spider-Man: Homecoming writers John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein in February with hopes for a 2020 release. Matt Reeves wants to lens his Batman film in the first part of 2019, as well, but there’s still the matter of who will wear the cape and cowl. Meanwhile, we may have seen the last of Henry Cavill as Superman, as DC/WB are focused more on getting their Supergirl movie off the ground with writer Oren Uziel.

We can only assume The Green Lantern Corps. and a Cyborg film are still in the mix somewhere, as well.

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Mel Gibson to produce, co-write, and direct remake of The Wild Bunch

Mad Mel will ride once again: According to Deadline, Warner Bros. has tapped the Oscar-winning director to produce, co-write (with Bryan Bagby), and direct a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s iconic 1969 Western, The Wild Bunch.

True to its name, the original starred Hollywood badboys Wiliam Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, Warren Oates, Jaime Sanchez, and Ben Johnson as an aging group of outlaws on the lookout for one last big score.

At the time, Peckinpah’s film was seen as incredibly violent, which is essentially Gibson’s forte. His last outing, 2016’s World War II epic, Hacksaw Ridge, hardly shied on the gore, and one has to imagine this reimagining will be plenty wild.

Odds are we probably won’t see Gibson on the saddle, though it would be nice if he tagged some old pals, namely Danny Glover, Jodie Foster, Rene Russo, Vince Vaughn, James Caviezel, Brendan Gleeson, and/or Brian Cox. We’ll see.

In the meantime, Gibson remains hard at work on his next film, another World War II drama, titled Destroyer. Based on John Vukovitz’s novel, the film will star Mark Wahlberg, who recently shared the screen with Gibson in Daddy’s Home 2.

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R.I.P. Al Matthews, Sgt. Apone in Aliens and real-life decorated U.S. Marine, has died at 75

Al Matthews, character actor who portrayed the cigar-smoking Sgt. Apone in James Cameron’s Aliens, has died at the age of 75. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a neighbor found his body at his Alicante home on Spain’s Mediterranean coast this past Saturday.

Born on November 21, 1942 in Brooklyn, New York, Matthews began singing with various street-corner groups in his teens, eventually finding a place among the Greenwich Village folk scene. He was no doubt influenced by his great uncle, the legendary Cab Calloway.

During the Vietnam War, Matthews spent six years in the United States Marine Corps, earning 13 combat awards, including two purple hearts. He became the first black Marine in the 1st Marine Division in Vietnam to be promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Following the war, Matthews moved overseas to Europe, working as a folk singer and scoring a hit with the Pierre Tubbs-written “Fool”, which reached No. 16 on the UK Singles Chart. By 1978, he became the first black disc jockey to join Radio 1 in Britain.

Throughout the ’80s, Matthews made a name for himself in film, television, and theater, appearing in 1980’s Rough Cut, 1981’s Omen III: The Final Conflict, 1983’s Superman III, and eventually 1986’s Aliens. As Sgt. Apone, Matthews became a cult hero, thanks to his Marine background, which became paramount in the behind-the-scenes training for blockbuster sequel and much of his delivery.

Years later, Matthews would go on to star in both 1997’s The Fifth Element and 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies. In 2013, he reprised his iconic role as Apone for the 2013 canonical video game, Aliens: Colonel Marines.

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Zoe Kravitz to star in High Fidelity TV series

When we first reported that High Fidelity would be returning in its third medium, a TV series for Disney’s upcoming streaming platform, the immediate question was where exactly the concept could go from here. Sure, hipster gatekeepers who’re bad at dating and love will exist until time immemorial, but between Nick Hornby’s acclaimed 1995 novel and Stephen Frears’ beloved 2000 movie, the bases seemed to be pretty well-covered.

That is, until the idea of a female lead in the Rob Gordon role became part of the equation. High Fidelity is a very good book and a terrific movie, but its (deliberate) myopia about women has often been brought up in conversation around the film in the nearly two decades since its release. The upcoming series will have a chance to address that, and now it has its lead with which to do it: Zoe Kravitz. The Big Little Lies and Fury Road performer will be front and center for the upcoming series’ 10-episode first season, which will “re-imagine” the property through a distinctly different lens.

It’s also something of a great nod, as Kravitz is the daughter of Lisa Bonet, who starred in the movie as Marie De Salle, the indisputable coolest of all of Rob’s romantic interests.

Co-created by Veronica West and Sarah Kucserka, the show is expected to roll out sometime in 2019 alongside the premiere of Disney’s to-be-titled streaming service. For his part, the film’s star, John Cusack, is confident Disney will “fuck it up.”

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Millie Bobby Brown raps Cardi B’s verse on Maroon 5’s “Girls Like You”: Watch

Millie Bobby Brown is currently known for two things: being one of the breakout stars of Stranger Things, and one of pop culture’s biggest hip-hop heads. (Um, sometimes to a fault.) We’ve seen the 14-year-old actress rap about her Netflix show, impressively spit Nicki Minaj’s “Monster” verse, and even open the Emmys with a rap. It was only a matter of time before “Eleven” took her talents to a concert stage, and it finally happened last night in Nashville.

Maroon 5 were performing their headlining show at the Bridgestone Arena when they went into their hit “Girls Like You”. The song features a guest verse from Cardi B, but the rapper is currently taking some time off to be a new mom. So instead of Cardi coming out for the bars, Maroon 5 called out Brown, who unsurprisingly — but still completely amazingly — killed it. Of course, Brown was already well familiar with the track, as she appeared in the music video alongside celebs like Gal Gadot, Sarah Silverman, Ellen DeGeneres, Mary J. Blige, and Tiffany Haddish.

Brown herself posted video of the surprise appearance, which you can watch below.

Instagram Photo

Maroon 5 is set to play the Super Bowl Halftime show next February in Atlanta. Rumor has it that a deal is trying to be made to bring Cardi B along for “Girls Like You”, but the rapper wants a set of her own during the performance. If that doesn’t come together, maybe Brown can fill in again.

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