EXCLUSIVE: Looks like Paramount’s plan to next make the “Star Trek” movie that Noah Hawley wrote and plans to direct has been put on pause for a moment. New film chief Emma Watts, who managed many a franchise at Fox, is in the process of figuring out which way to go.
The pause on the Hawley project, which had been in soft prep, prompted rumors this week that the filmmaker might exit, but that has not happened yet, sources said. Deadline revealed in 2019 that Hawley made a deal on “Trek” — the “Fargo” and “Legion” EP was driven by his love for the original series, just like JJ Abrams when he directed the first installment. The other two possibilities are the one that “The Revenant”’s Mark L. Smith wrote for Quentin Tarantino to direct (Deadline broke that one late 2017), and another that was going to bring back the original cast — at one time with talk that Chris Hemsworth would return and play Chris Pine’s father in a time travel narrative. S. J. Clarkson was attached to direct but exited for “Game of Thrones.”
What we’re hearing is that both the Hawley pic — which calls for a new cast and might be about a deadly virus which might feel awkward given current circumstance — and the Smith version — Tarantino dropped out as director, but the project is still viable based on an episode of the classic “Star Trek” series that takes place largely earthbound in a 30s gangster setting — might serve the franchise best as “Logan”-like spinoffs when the core franchise has been revitalized. But that the other one might have the cleanest path toward a relaunch, with an emphasis on boosting overseas gross numbers which have never been the franchise’s strong suit. These decisions will take place over the next few weeks.
“Star Trek” continues to be a monster franchise for ViacomCBS, so they want to make sure they get it right. One reason the Hemsworth-Pine version stalled is the high price of keeping the original cast in place. Between “Fargo” and a book he is completing, Hawley (who made his directing debut on the arthouse pic “Lucy in the Sky”) has plenty to keep him occupied. Stay tuned.
Two people take a wild ride through the Australian desert in “Upright,” a dark comedy on Sundance Now.
The eight-episode series, which originally aired on Australia’s Fox Showcase and the UK’s Sky Atlantic, was co-written and co-directed by star Tim Minchin. He plays Lucky Flynn, a depressed musician driving to visit his dying mother, his treasured piano attached by trailer to his car. Distracted, he smashes into a Toyota truck driven by Meg (Milly Alcock), a feisty, foul-mouthed 16-year-old whose wrist is fractured in the crash. They strike up a grudging friendship and, with Lucky’s piano on the back of Meg’s truck, embark on a cross-country journey that detours into humorous and dramatic territory.
Minchin, 44, the provocative, multi-hyphenate Australian comedian, is best-known in the US as the composer/lyricist of Broadway’s “Matilda The Musical” and “Groundhog Day” and for his role as Atticus Fetch on Showtime’s “Californication.” He spoke to The Post from Sydney, where he lives with his wife and two young children, about Lucky and about working with Alcock.
Is this a story based on someone you know or on a personal interaction?
It’s a great set-up, but it’s not mine. The [series] creator, Chris Taylor, who’s known in Australia as a comedy satirist who doorstops politicians, had been trying to move into narrative television … and he sent me this one-page pitch, trying to make something that felt a bit like “Seinfeld” or “The Trip” with Steve Coogan. I thought the premise was great … and I recognized in myself the desire to make a drama. I wasn’t in the mood for comedy and didn’t want my next project to be flippant. I wanted to make something special.
Tim Minchin and Milly Alcock in “Upright.”
Why weren’t you in the mood for comedy?
I’d moved to LA and given up my touring career for a huge project I worked on for years, an animated feature [“Larrikins”] at DreamWorks. I’d be acting, composing, directing. Then Universal bought DreamWorks and trashed four years of my life. I’d turned 40 and then “Groundhog Day” closed early on Broadway. I was a bit battered. We’d been living away from Australia for 12 years … and I guess I was really thinking a lot about going home and about spending so much time away from my family. So the story of a guy carrying a burden across the desert to his home, where he hasn’t been for eight years…I felt I brought a bit of emotional complexity to the role.
Tell me about Milly Alcock, who’s terrific as Meg.
She’s an absolute scene-stealer. An actress friend of mine, Kate Mulvany, who plays the nun in “Hunters” [on Amazon] and is also a writer on “Upright,” had worked with Milly in a small role in an Australian drama … and brought her up. We auditioned loads of people and were looking for a diamond-in-the-rough, someone bolshy and intuitive. We wanted someone maybe a bit plainer and rough-around-the-edges, but her talent was undeniable. She’s incredibly independent. She was 18 when we were shooting “Upright” and she didn’t bring a friend or a chaperone or her mum or anyone to the shoot. Every now and then we’d talk her into coming out for a beer after work, but she usually went back to her room and read books or worked on learning the script. She had a boyfriend in Sydney who never came to visit. They stayed in contact online. Early on the director, Matt Saville, and I had a chat and we decided we shouldn’t get too much up in her grill or direct her too much. Her instincts were so strong.
Did you two bond offscreen like your onscreen characters?
I certainly didn’t need her to be my friend, this 40something bloke who’s going to hang out with her. But over time we got really close. We shot chronologically, so those early scenes we didn’t know each other at all.
Will see a second season of “Upright”?
It’s possible. It really does wrap up in Episode 8 … but we have a Season 2 mapped out.
As the pandemic persists, visual artists use the virtual world as source material
When the novel coronavirus hit Montreal and lockdown measures began, Maddy Mathews got into video games.
“I mean, one must do things to cope with having a lot of time,” said the artist, laughing at her choice of pandemic hobby.
Idle minds think alike, it seems, because video-game sales have mushroomed since the spring. In April, global game spending hit an all-time record; according to Nielsen SuperData, consumers dropped $10.5 billion US that month. Worldwide demand for PC, mobile and console games is still unusually high. Revenue for June hit $10.46 billion US, up nine per cent from the previous year. Per the Nielsen research, it was the second-highest monthly total since April.
The coronavirus pandemic is the easy explanation, with widespread lockdowns creating a bigger market for things best enjoyed in the great indoors — though Mathews’s interest in gaming is a smidge different from the norm.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, I was trying to play these old games,” said Mathews, who was working on her MFA at Concordia University when COVID-19 struck.
“But I don’t really care about actually winning or playing these games.”
Instead, she just wants to draw them, and she’s definitely not alone.
Plenty of artists borrow from video-game landscapes. In his 2012 series Rare Earth, American artist Mark Tribe mined first-person shooter games, taking screenshots of their more picturesque scenes and placing them next to images of real-life military scenes.
Jim Munroe, artist and co-founder of Toronto’s Hand Eye Society, dropped a law-abiding “Canadian tourist” character inside the world of Grand Theft Auto III. (That scenario played out in his 2003 short film, My Trip to Liberty City.)
Last summer, the TD Arts Wall in Toronto could have been mistaken for the world’s longest Twitch stream thanks to Wood Between Worlds, a piece by local art collective Public Studio, which lit up the corner of Bay and Queen streets from May to September 2019. The looping video mimics an “open world” video game.
‘I find them really relaxing’
While there are lots of examples of artists using game landscapes as inspiration, the subject matter still seems fresh. There’s an increasingly glitchy line between the virtual and real worlds, especially as the lockdown lifestyle pushes people to engage more with digital spaces. For some folks, those game environments are captivating, and they’re begging to be drawn or painted — if only for the joy of making art.
Mathews puts her favourite game sketches on Instagram: pencil-crayon drawings of random 8-bit environments. Like a lot of her past work, it’s big on nostalgia, though Mathews, 31, is technically too much of a ’90s kid to remember any of the titles she’s drawing: Cranston Manor (1981), Jenny of the Prairie (1983), Labyrinth of Crete (1982).
“I find them really relaxing,” she said. It’s a hobby — a break from her regular art practice and her coursework. “And I mean, that’s what video games are mostly for.”
Connor Kenney, 29, considers himself a lifelong gamer, but when he needs to unwind, he says he’s just as likely to paint. Kenney’s a resident of Wells, B.C., a town of some 200 people in the Cariboo Mountains. And for a little more than five years, he’s been making the most of his picturesque home base, learning how to paint en plein air with the guidance of another local artist.
“I just — I love painting landscapes,” said Kenney, who works at a local historical site by day. Still, at some point in 2017, he was desperate for a change of scenery.
“Basically, I got bored,” he said.
Without a vehicle, he was painting the same mountain ranges.
“So I was like, ‘Well, I have all these video games. And the technology has really expanded. So why don’t I just paint that?'”
Galleries catching on
Since then, games such as Fallout and Red Dead Redemption have been his means of travelling without travelling, and it’s a similar story for Clifford Kamppari-Miller, a web developer in Portland, Ore. Both men have work on display at the Penticton Art Gallery to Sept. 13 as part of an exhibition of game-inspired landscapes. (It’s called En Game Air — which doubles as the title of Kamppari-Miller’s blog.)
Neither he nor Kenney were aware of the other.
“I don’t really consider myself a painter,” Kamppari-Miller said. He’s more of a dedicated hobbyist, and started the habit when his son was born.
“At the time, it was hard to go anywhere,” he said. Even now, he keeps an easel by his gaming console.
“A lot of people play video games just to escape,” he continues. “This is a way to get the escapism of games, and also sort of develop a skill while doing it.”
Most of his favourite games boast photo-realistic environments. It’s the same for Kenney, though these graphics are a world away from the decades-old games Mathews loves. Depending on the title, both “en game air” painters can hike (or fly) through virtual landscapes, then tweak the settings so the light is as true-to-life as possible.
“I put my headphones on so I can hear the game sounds, like the wind and trees moving,” said Kenney. One added bonus: no bugs.
“Plein air painting’s all about the emotion that you’re feeling with the landscape,” he said. “So I try to encapsulate the feelings of these digital environments.”
If the idea of being moved by virtual vistas seems odd, it’s no joke to Aden Solway, co-curator of Let’s Play at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Over the summer, the live-streamed lecture series explored how video games shape culture (and vice versa). It wrapped Aug. 5.
According to Solway, game environments, like traditional landscapes, can “help sensitize or connect you to the world around you.” (Solway felt that way after playing A Short Hike, an indie game set in an abstracted Algonquin Park.)
Drawing on traditions of plein air painting
In the history of plein air painting — which became popular in the latter half of the 1800s — that sort of connection was key. “I think the impulse around people turning to plein air was because they were looking for ways in which they could get closer to something,” said Solway.
In part, it was about accurately capturing the light, the colour — the liveliness of nature.
“They wanted [the painting] to be more real, to retain the same sort of aura or sensibility as the landscape.”
This is a way to get the escapism of games, and also sort of develop a skill while doing it.– Clifford Kamppari-Miller, artist
To Kenney, that’s the thing.
“For me, video games are very real,” he said.
The emotions he experiences are real, he explains. For example, Firewatch is one of his favourite titles to paint; the game triggers dramatic memories of B.C. forest fires. And when he has a real-life connection to a game world, he wants to capture it.
Non-gamers might not understand, but that’s another reason why he paints.
“With the pandemic, and more people being at home and inside, [it’s] allowed a lot more people to dive into video games, and see that it’s not just this weird kind of geek culture that isn’t for everyone,” said Kenney.
“[The paintings] are a way to help that dialogue between non-gamers and gamers. To say, ‘Yeah, this is great art form. There’s lots of stuff in here and everyone should give it a try.'”
Who needs Kim Kardashian’s sister when you could have a golden girl?
After Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion dropped their sultry new track “WAP” featuring a guest appearance by Kylie Jenner, the Twitterverse decided that they wish it were Betty White who was strutting her stuff instead.
“Betty White is trending because people are saying they wish she would have been in #WAP instead of Kylie Jenner. lmaooo,” Yashar Ali tweeted Friday.
The notion is especially side splitting since Jenner, 22, is shown sexily walking down a hallway in a bodysuit that shows off her assets. Still, fans would prefer that 98-year-old White, who played the sweet but air-headed Rose Nylund in “Golden Girls,” be featured in “WAP” which stands for “Wet a– p—y.”
“WAP,” which was released Thursday along with the uber sexy music video, had already racked up over 12 million views Friday afternoon.
“Just imagine the conversation that Betty White’s social media manager has to have with her today about ‘wet a– p—y,’” tweeted Imani Gandy. “Omg please reshoot this video with a Betty White cameo. You know she’d f—ing do it.”
Another Twitter user echoed the demand, tweeting “Okay, now I NEED to see Betty White in that #WAP video. Time for a reshoot,” along with photoshopped image of White in the same hallway Jenner walks down.
After it was forced to scrub this year’s edition due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Tribeca Film Festival has announced it will return in 2021. Next year’s festival will run from June 9 to 20 in New York City.
“We look forward to celebrating the 20th anniversary and to honoring what our founders Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro have made a reality in bringing storytellers and communities together,” said Tribeca Enterprises Chief Creative Officer Paula Weinstein.
Tribeca Enterprises made the announcement Friday, noting that it reflects shifting calendars and efforts to ensure the festival moves forward in the safest environment.
Submissions will open on Sept. 8 for all categories: feature and short films, episodic storytelling, immersive, branded entertainment, and a newly added section dedicated to online premieres. The submission period has been extended by three weeks; the late deadline is pushed to January, and the eligibility rules are adjusted to include films that have previously screened at online festivals.
The 2020 festival, which had been set for April 15-26, was called off in March as the COVID-19 crisis began taking hold.
Tribeca organizers also announced Friday that they will dedicate space within the 2021 festival to the films whose premieres were not able to take place in 2020. All 2020 Tribeca-selected filmmakers have been invited to showcase their films and celebrate their postponed premieres as part of the 20th anniversary
“As we take our first steps towards the next edition of our festival, we have centered our thoughts and plans on the filmmakers and film-goers who have been so affected by the challenges of the last few months,” said festival director and VP of programming Cara Cusumano. “Whether it’s in the cinema, online, or outdoors, we look forward to welcoming everyone back to an innovative 20th anniversary festival in the spirit of our last 20 years celebrating community and storytelling in all their forms.”
Newfoundland and Labrador records 1st new case since July 26
A crew member of the television show Hudson & Rex is Newfoundland and Labrador’s first new case of COVID-19 since July 26, sources tell CBC News.
In a news release Friday afternoon, the Department of Health and Community Services said there is one new travel-related case of COVID-19 in the province.
The provincial government says the new case is a female in the Eastern Health region, between 20 and 39 years old, who was asymptomatic while travelling on a flight from Toronto on Thursday.
The release said the woman, who is not from the province and who received a travel exemption, is self-isolating, and contact tracing is underway. Anyone considered a close contact will be advised to self-isolate.
Sources tell CBC News the case involves a member of the production of the Citytv show now filming its third season in St. John’s.
The province’s total caseload moves to 267, with three deaths and 263 recoveries.
On July 27, filming on the program stopped for three hours after crew members from Newfoundland and Labrador raised concerns about a delay in COVID-19 test results for production members from outside the province.
In an email to cast and crew at the time, obtained by CBC News, producer Paul Pope apologized for an “oversight in COVID-19 testing for our come from away cast.”
“We believed that we were operating safely under the provincial COVID-19 guidelines, but now realize that it was an error in judgment,” he wrote, adding that it wouldn’t happen again.
‘Toolbox’ for mitigating risk
Earlier in July, Pope outlined to CBC Radio’s On The Go how the production was minimizing coronavirus risk on set.
“The COVID-19 toolbox that we have to mitigate the risk is extensive,” Pope said July 17, comparing the strategy to maintaining a car.
“In order for your car to drive the engine has to work. The brakes have to work. The windshield wipers have to work. The headlights have to work and, really, you can’t drive the car without all of them.”
The Hudson & Rex “toolbox,” said Pope, includes being in a safe environment — in this case, Newfoundland and Labrador, with its low number of cases — having an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, common-sense measures like physical distancing, and also testing.
Because of cast demands, Pope said in July, each episode requires three to five people from out of province, who could only come if they were asymptomatic. They are tested upon arrival and again 48 hours later, said Pope, and are put up at a hotel closed to the general public.
As of Friday, 26,479 people have been tested across the province — 199 since Thursday.
The next briefing on COVID-19 in the province is scheduled for Wednesday.
Taping of the untitled unscripted “Friends” reunion special for HBO Max has been further delayed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Originally slated to film right after all production was shut down in mid-March because of the outbreak, it was pushed to May so the special could still be ready for HBO Max’s May 27 launch. With the country in the grips of the pandemic, the taping was postponed again and could not make HBO Max’s debut.
I hear the most recent date was Aug. 17, and there had been initial optimism that production could be pulled off until COVID cases started spiking again, prolonging the ongoing Hollywood shutdown related to the pandemic. I hear that plan was recently called off, and there is no new target date as the situation remains fluid.
In the special, “Friends” stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc and Matthew Perry, are slated to return to the iconic comedy’s original soundstage, Stage 24, on the Warner Bros. Studio lot in Burbank to film the reunion special, directed by Ben Winston. The sextet also serve as executive producers alongside Friends creators Kevin Bright, Marta Kauffman and David Crane.
In April, the stars of the show auctioned six tickets to the taping, with the funds benefiting COVID relief.
The special is designed to join all 236 episodes of the Emmy-winning 1994-2004 NBC series, recently revealed by the WarnerMedia as the top show on the streaming platform.
Winston executive produces along with Bright, Kauffman and Crane as well as Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry and Schwimmer. Emma Conway and James Longman are co-executive producers. The special hails from Warner Bros. Unscripted & Alternative Television and Fulwell 73 Productions.
Yet another Bon Appétit Test Kitchen star has resigned — but this time in solidarity with colleagues at the controversy-ridden video channel.
Molly Baz, the Senior Food Editor at Bon Appétit, announced her exit Friday to show support for three colleagues who left the channel. Bon Appétit Test Kitchen contributing writer Priya Krishna, assistant food editor Sohla El-Waylly and contributing food editor Rick Martinez — who make up half of the six people of color featured on the site — announced their departures on Thursday.
“Yesterday we lost three valuable members of our video team,” Baz wrote on Instagram. “I support their decisions unequivocally and am extremely disheartened that Condé Nast Entertainment was unable to provide them contracts that they felt were fair and equitable. I wish I had more to share with you after months of silence, as I know you have all been waiting for change along with me. Sadly, I do not. It is for this reason that I’ve asked CNE to release me from the video obligations of my contract. I will no longer appear on the BA YouTube Channel.”
She goes on to say that she will “continue to work at the magazine as it rebuilds,” explaining that it “is a separate entity from CNE.”
Krishna, El-Waylly and Martinez had reportedly been in five weeks of contract negotiations before their exits, reports Business Insider. El-Waylly will continue to write recipes and Krishna and Martinez will do editorial freelance work for the magazine and website.
The Condé Nast publication has been embroiled in controversy as of late. regarding diversity. In June, Bon Appétit’s longtime Editor-in-Chief Adam Rapoport resigned after a photo surfaced that showed him in brownface. Matt Duckor, head of Condé Nast Entertainment’s lifestyle video programming, stepped down that same month amid allegations that he didn’t feature people of color in Bon Appétit Test Kitchen videos and paid them less than their white colleagues.