‘Sweet/Vicious’ Producers “Incredibly Hopeful” Series Will Find New Home After MTV Cancellation – ATX

Sweet/Vicious only enjoyed one season on MTV before it was canceled, much to the chagrin of its fans. At the ATX Television Festival today, EP Stacey Sher explained what happened.

“MTV took a really long time,” she said. “It killed us slowly and not so kindly, but they said to us, ‘If you can find a studio that will partner, we will go forward,’ which ultimately didn’t happen. We found four studios, and all we really need is a network now, and we’re still incredibly hopeful.”

“They’ve been very gracious,” Sher said of MTV, “and have said they’ll make it very easy for us, because they were very proud of the show and many people there cheerlead the show. They had a lot of regime changes, which was challenging.”

The show tackles the topic of campus rape, and features two lead female characters – Ophelia (Taylor Dearden) and Jules (Eliza Bennett) – who take vigilante action against the perpetrators of sexual assault.

Bennett, whose character is a sexual assault survivor, said the impact of the show has been immense, for herself and survivors with whom she spoke.

“I’m playing a sexual assault survivor,” she said, “so the most important thing was listening to people. That was hard, I get so emotional, because that’s when I found out that half of my friends had been raped and had never told anyone. That was so horrific. I would never have found that out unless we’d done the show.”

Said Sher, “The thing that was really extraordinary for me was I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve never had an experience at work where everybody making decisions was a woman.

“Not to take anything away from any of the men I’ve worked with–the wonderful men–but I think the way we approached the very difficult scenes, there was kind of a cocoon in knowing what it was like because we’ve all been vulnerable in that way.”

Eliza Bennett


For creator Jennifer Kaytin Robinson, ensuring that male characters–even the perpetrators of assault–were fully-formed and complex was essential. 

“Most people were going to come at this show saying things like, ‘Oh, it’s man-bashing,” she said. “They’re probably not going to watch it, but for people who do take the time to see what it is, we wanted to make sure that they knew that was not our message, because that does a huge disservice to survivors, and does a huge disservice to everything we’re building.”

In closing, Robinson said that shows “get cancelled for reasons that have literally nothing to do with the show. That is what happened here. Unfortunately, our show is about something extremely important, and the disconnect between the business and the heart sucks.”


Donald Glover Shows Off His Lando Mustache in Han Solo

Donald Glover’s facial hair for Han Solo: A Star Wars Story has been revealed thanks to Woody Harrelson’s Instagram page. There are many iconic pieces to the Star Wars universe and one of them is definitely the sweet mustache of Billy Dee Williams that was first introduced in 1980′s The Empire Strikes Back. That mustache was used to sling Colt 45 back in the day with the popular slogan “It works every time” and has since gone on to earn legendary status.

When a Han Solo standalone movie was announced, many wondered how Donald Glover would channel his inner Lando Carissian. Now we’re getting a first look at what Glover will look like in the spin-off. The photo was taken earlier this week in Spain where the spin-off is being filmed and Glover is clearly mugging for the camera, proud of his Lando stache. This isn’t Glover’s first foray into the world of upper lip hair. Glover was seen promoting the latest Childish Gambino record with a pretty amazing mustache, which coincidentally was right around the time it was announced that Glover would be hanging with Han Solo.

Glover recently sat down with Deadline to talk about his hit show Atlanta and of course his role as Lando. Glover said the following.

“This is probably one of my favorite experiences ever. For working under, like, a huge conglomerate, it’s actually been quite an enjoyable, artistic thing. I get to play (Lando) in a way that I think is honest and true and cool…and I really respect him and I respect the actor who played him before. I’ve learned a lot about this character…”

Elsewhere in the interview Glover talks about his Lando character possibly being a little bit “more complicated” than Han Solo. Glover really seems like the most obvious choice for the role and many are starting to wonder if we might get a Lando standalone movie.

There’s no word on what Chewbacca thinks about young Lando’s mustache, but one has to imagine that he doesn’t really think it’s that big of a deal. I mean, Chewie’s whole body is just one giant mustache, but maybe he feels like Lando’s mustache is an attempt of solidarity with the Wookie? This is pure speculation and it’s unclear if any other characters will be growing out mustaches for the Han Solo spin-off, but it is clear that Harrelson does not have one. So it’s safe to say that his character will not have any facial hair unless he’s using a fake mustache, which would technically be cheating.

The Han Solo spin-off movie will be released on May 25th, 2018 so we’ve still got quite a while to wait, but hopefully some kind of teaser trailer will be ready in time for the release of The Last Jedi in November. In other news, Glover has said that his Childish Gambino will only release one more album and then call it quits, which has come as a shock to many since the last Childish Gambino record was such a hit. Maybe a Lando-themed band will come next: Lando and the Carissians.


Tom Hardy Wanted as Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin Live-Action Remake?

Sources are saying that Tom Hardy is in talks to portray Jafar in Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin remake. It was already a big surprise when Disney announced Richie’s involvement in this live-action update of the beloved animated movie, and there are apparently a lot more surprises in store. Currently Will Smith is also rumored to be in the remake, possibly playing the Ritchie was recently asked about the possibility of Smith’s involvement, but the filmmaker just smiled and said that he can’t reveal much before saying, “I love Will Smith very much. It would make me very happy to be making it with him.”

Which leads us to today’s new rumor. The UK paper TheSun is reporting that Richie has been in talks with Hardy to play the villain Jafar in the upcoming movie. According to a source close to The Sun (no pun intended), Ritchie is a big fan of Hardy’s work. Read what the anonymous source had to say below.

“Guy is a huge fan of Tom’s work and securing him would be a major coup. There have been conversations and, although nothing is set in stone and things are subject to change, he’s certainly one of Guy’s favored choices. It just depends on schedules whether he’ll be able to sign up.”

Now it should be noted that TheSun is probably not the most reliable source, so we’ll take this news with a decent grain of salt. Hardy and Ritchie do have a history together. Tom Hardy played Handsome Bob in Ritchie’s 2008 movie RocknRolla, which was not a box office smash and has had mixed reviews to say the least. One thing that most critics could agree upon was Hardy’s small role in the movie was outstanding. The role solidified Hardy’s in-demand status that he commands today, but will he make a good Jafar in a Guy Ritchie remake of Aladdin? Nonetheless, the thought of seeing Hardy as a villain again is exciting on its own.

The anonymous source also revealed that British girl group Little Mix’s Jade Thirwall is in talks to play the role of Princess Jasmine. Apparently talks have been going on far quite a while with Thirwall. The source says that.

“Jasmine is Jade’s perfect role, so she’s delighted to have got this far in the process.”

Again, take this information with a grain of salt. There really is nothing else to go off of except that Thirwall is a huge Disney fan that frequents the amusement park. The same can be said about a lot of people of all ages. But if it does, the rest of the band reportedly has their “fingers crossed” for Thirwall.

Ritchie’s Aladdin musical remake appears to be a pretty big gamble on Disney’s part, but with the success of the Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast live-action remakes it seems that Disney can do no wrong. Aladdin is expected to begin production soon with a release date to follow soon. Let’s just hope it’s better than Ritchie’s latest movie King Arthur.


Adam West Remembered as Hollywood Mourns the Loss of TV’s Batman

Adam West, the actor best known for his role as Batman in the 1960s television series, has died at the age of 88 from a battle with leukemia late on Friday night. West’s family shared a statement with Variety to confirm the news. The family offered this to fans.

“Our dad always saw himself as the Bright Knight, and aspired to make a positive impact on his fans’ lives. He was and will always be our hero.”

For many, Adam West was their introduction to the world of Batman, and for some, he was the only Batman that mattered. One of West’s many talents as an actor was not taking himself too seriously. He could keep a straight face through the most absurd moments, while keeping the fun going on the campy 60′s television show. He could surf with the joker, dance with Catwoman while doing the “Batusi,” campaigning for mayor of Gotham alongside the Penguin, or not being able to find a safe place to throw a bomb, just to name a few. West performed all of these acts with tongue pressed firmly in cheek, bringing joy to millions over the decades.

West’s portrayal of Batman was much different than what came afterwards. Michael Keaton started with a dark version of the hero that has stuck all the way through to Ben Affleck. West was asked to rank the many different versions of the caped crusader on an episode of The Big Bang Theory and his ranking was as follows: “It should be me, Keaton, Kilmer, Lego, Bale, and that pretty boy Clooney.” West was always able to keep his sense of humor intact while watching other actors step into his shoes. And new fans of Batman were always in for a treat to get introduced to the lighthearted 60s version through numerous home video releases as well as constant reruns of the campy show.

Another way that West broke through to new generations was through his hilarious voice acting work on Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy series. West took on the role of Mayor Adam West, a highly delusional, odd politician that eventually became Peter Griffin’s brother-in-law after marrying Lois’ sister. West also voiced characters on Adventures of Batman, Legends of the Superheroes, and The Simpsons. In addition, West lent talents to DC Comics comedy series Powerless, where he played the character Chairman West as well as narrating the show.

In addition to West’s family, Hollywood has taken to social media to mourn the loss of Adam West. Burt Ward, who played the role of Robin alongside West shared that he was “devastated at the loss of one of my dearest friends.” Ward says this.

“Adam and I had a special friendship for more than 50 years. We shared some of the most fun of our lives together… there were several fine actors who have portrayed Batman in films, in my eyes there was only one real Batman and that is and will always be Adam West; He truly was the Bright Knight.”

Another Batman costar Julie Newmar, aka Catwoman, shared a statement as well on the actor’s death.

“Stellar, exemplar, a king to the end. He was bright, witty and fun to work with. I will miss him in the physical world and savor him always in the world of imagination and creativity. He meant so much to people.”

Seth MacFarlane, Mark Hamill, Conan O’Brien, James Gunn, Michael McKean, Will Arnett, George Takei, Kumail Nanjiani, Jamie Lee Curtis, Elijah Wood, Neil Gaman, Val Kilmer, LeVar Burton, Stephen Glickman, Edgar Wright, Robin Lord Taylor, Ben Sherman, and many, many more took to social media to share their thoughts on the passing of Adam West. You can read those posts below.

— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) June 10, 2017

#AdamWest was such a wonderful actor & so kind, I’m so lucky to have worked w/ him & tell him how much he meant to me & millions of fans.

— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) June 10, 2017

God Bless Adam West

— Conan O’Brien (@ConanOBrien) June 10, 2017

Although I haven’t often talked about it, before I could barely read, YOU were the reason I fell in love with superheroes.

— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) June 10, 2017

Farewell, Adam West.

— Michael McKean (@MJMcKean) June 10, 2017

RIP Adam West. You will always be Batman

— Will Arnett™ (@arnettwill) June 10, 2017

RIP Adam West. You’ll always be Batman to me.

— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 10, 2017

RIP Adam West. First person I saw who was funny, badass & cool all at once.

— Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn) June 10, 2017

Holy heartbreak Batman. Adam West was a big part of my childhood. We were acquaintances in my adulthood. A wonderful man who will b missed.

— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) June 10, 2017

Sad to hear of Adam West’s passing. A legend as Batman but also, Ty Lookwell

— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) June 10, 2017

Rest in Peace Adam West. We met once in 1987 and I was too embarrassed and too foolishly “cool” to tell you what you meant to my childhood.

— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) June 10, 2017

Ah dear Adam West. He was always so kind when we met. A real gent. Once when I was a kid we found ourselves in front the batmobile. I got in

— Val Kilmer (@valkilmer) June 10, 2017

Noooo… not Adam West! What a good man!#genuine

— LeVar Burton (@levarburton) June 10, 2017

So sad to hear about the passing of Adam West. Such a huge loss today. He was a legend. The greatest Batman of all time.

— StephenGlickman (@StephenGlickman) June 10, 2017

Farewell Adam West. You were MY Batman. Such a super funny, cool, charismatic actor. Loved the show as a kid, still love the show now. POW!

— edgarwright (@edgarwright) June 10, 2017

Gotham City has lost a legend. Adam West was every bit as gracious and loving in person as you’d expect. @therealadamwest

— Robin Lord Taylor (@robinlordtaylor) June 10, 2017

“That’s one trouble with dual identities, Robin. Dual responsibilities.” – Adam West #RIPAdamWest#Batman

— Ben Sherwood (@bensherwood) June 10, 2017


DC Films Boss Praises Black Panther Trailer

DCEU president Geoff Johns has shared his love for Marvel’s Black Panther trailer. Last night was an exciting night for comic book fans, and an underwhelming night for basketball fans. The world premiere trailer for Black Panther took place during game 4 of the NBA Finals, finally giving fans a peek at what director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther will bring to the big screen. And it looks fantastic. Coogler’s vision of Wakanda is stunning, something that will have to be seen on the big screen to fully appreciate. Fans were immediately excited about the 2 minute trailer as social media was set ablaze seconds after the initial airing of the clip.

DCEU president Geoff Johns can be counted as one of those fans. Johns worked for Marvel in their comic division in the early 2000s, writing most notably for The Avengers. Johns took to his official Twitter page to share his feelings about the trailer, even sharing that Black Panther was one of his favorite characters to write for when he worked for Marvel. Read what Johns had to say below.

“This looks unreal. Panther was one of my favorite characters to write when I was at Marvel.”

Johns tagged Marvel and actor Chadwick Boseman in his post. Marvel and DC have been patting each other on the back quite frequently lately, much to the chagrin of fans looking for a feud between the two universes. DC’s Wonder Woman opened last weekend to rave reviews from critics and fans alike while simultaneously garnering respect from the Marvel team. And now DC is returning the accolades with Johns leading the way. The excitement for Black Panther is just getting started and the trailer last night has brought anticipation to an all-new high.

The Black Panther trailer sets up some of the major plot points for the movie and shows off some action like the fact that the world around Wakanda is changing as more focus is thrust upon the advances of Wakanda. Within Wakanda, T’Challa is shown dealing with Erik Killmonger rebelling against the royal family. The Dora Milaje looks like it’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. The end of the trailer shows Black Panther doing an incredible flip from one moving vehicle onto another. The finer plot points are still unclear, which is a good thing. We don’t need to see all of the best bits in a 2-minute trailer.

Black Panther will also be seen in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War alongside Man-Ape, but details are scarce on what exactly Man-Ape will be doing in the movie, though it has been speculated that Thanos may come to Wakanda on his quest for Infinity Stones and might get into a scuffle with Man-Ape and Black Panther. Marvel’s Black Panther opens in theaters worldwide on February 16th, 2018 and is sure to be another hit for the MCU. Chadwick Boseman’s portrayal of T’Challa is already looking impressive, even in a 2-minute clip.

This looks unreal. Panther was one of my favorite characters to write when I was @[email protected]://

— Geoff Johns (@geoffjohns) June 10, 2017


Buzzard Hollow Beef Review: A Gory, Teeth-Gnashing Cannibal Classic

With a title that could very well be a product at a local A&P in Connecticut, it would be easy to dismiss Buzzard Hollow Beef as one of ‘those’ horror movies. People in the woods. Cannibal hillbillies. A story that only exists to deliver a kill count. And in some ways, Buzzard Hollow Beef is ‘one of those horror movies’ and that is precisely why it works.

Buzzard Hollow Beef follows the classic scary movie trope of people going to a home in a remote area for a little R&R. There’s obviously two guys and two girls as well some other people thrown together in this idyllic setting. Amidst this setting are the townies who are, of course, a bit weird. The fact that they will eventually confront a family of cannibalistic hillbillies (or is it each other?), who also happen to control the local meat supply, only adds to this film’s genre deconstructing cachet.

Add to this that Buzzard Hollow Beef has some fairly disgusting imagery, and you have a horror movie that is as odd as it is terrifying. Amidst the scenes of gore, crafty dialogue, and random shots of meat that most viewers will be familiar with, there is also imagery of childbirth and babies that is downright disturbing. In fact, Buzzard Hollow Beef so oddly recalls 1980′s Motel Hell, it is as if these films are somehow related through decades of horror movie synergy and fandom.

Probably the most interesting aspect of Buzzard Hollow Beef is the almost David Lynchian element of psychedelia. It isn’t like there are lava lamps and crazy lens effects at every turn. This film simply takes things from the every day and skews them a bit. It does it every turn. From the opening scene in which we are introduced to what appears to be a meat packing plant. To the slo-mo scenes of guns being fired and bullets leaving the chamber. (Adding a cover of KISS’s “Love Gun” was a nice choice in this scene). Aspects of these scenes are slowed down a bit. This really creates a sense of menace and foreboding. We know that something bad is going to happen. The rules of horror movies dictate that this has to happen. We just don’t know how or when. Then you factor in this weird element to the visuals and that makes the Buzzard Hollow Beef  different kind of horror movie.

Even the ending denouement between two characters that you wouldn’t suspect would be in this position was like a breath of fresh air. I am not going to ruin the ending or give it away here. Just know that Buzzard Hollow Beef seems very intent on subverting what we know horror movies to be. The film has solidly done visuals, a very strong cast, good dialogue, an odd but refreshing soundtrack and very firm direction. It starts off as one thing, slowly becomes another, but in the end it gives a very satisfying conclusion. Is the most audacious horror movie that’s ever been lensed?

No. However, for what Buzzard Hollow Beef is, this film stands out from an often boneless pack. Buzzard Hollow Beef arrives from A Man & A Woman Productions. It was Directed by Joshua Johnson from a script by Johnson and Tara C. Hall. The movie stars Bruce Jennings, Nadia Kamil, Scott C. Brown, Emily Letts, Janet Chiarabaglio, Amanda Spinella, Will Frazier, Gabriel Caste and Doug Perkins. The movie doesn’t have a release date yet, but we’re sure it will be banned by butcher shops and grocery story meat departments soon enough.

<em>Buzzard Hollow Beef</em> Poster


Will Netflix’s Okja Be This Summer’s Stranger Things?

Will Okja be this summer’s big phenomenon that everyone is waiting for? Quite possibly we’re looking at the next Stranger Things, which took last summer by storm. If Netflix’s dominance in the streaming, home media entertainment market wasn’t enough, they are now going after long held studio concepts. By this, I mean they are trying to make event television with their original feature films.  Actually, they are trying to make ‘tentpole TV’. You know, those shows and movies that are more than just the sum of their parts. There can be sequels. There can be spin-offs. These Netflix Original Movies can be just about anything you can think of. And they are talked about all summer long. That certainly rings true of Okja, Netflix’s first attempt at a Hollywood summer blockbuster. And they’ve succeeded!

Believe it or not, there was a time when movies in theaters didn’t come to us from comic books. There was a time when big movies weren’t sequels to previous blockbusters. There was a time that a movie could open, not be the most anticipated film, yet (gasp!) it would not die on the movie distribution vine. In fact, like the bigger movies playing in theater, this film could play all summer and beyond. We would continue talking about, dissecting it and we would see it more than once. Nowadays, the biggest movie will be number one for two weeks and then be forgotten before it starts its third. And that’s after breaking all kinds of pumped up records at the box office.

Last Summer, Netflix wowed us with Stranger Things. This piece of throwback, 1980s nostalgia, was a mid-summer offering that took the internet and the world of TV (and movies) by storm. Viewers tried to figure out the meaning behind this oddball, 80s mashup. They tried to look for clues to make sense of its ambiguous ending. The conspiracy theorists saw this show as a metaphor for all the ills that our government is slyly laying upon us. In short, it was everything to all people and Stranger Things was a bonafide phenomenon. It was the talk of the summer and continues to generate excitement as its second season looms.

So this summer, Netflix gives us the (somewhat) equally high minded Okja. This story follows Mija. She is a young woman who is trying to protect a very lovable animal called Okja. A large company wants to take Okja, mass produce this animal, and turn it into food and whatever else humanity can use from its innards. This Netflix Original film is billed as an action, adventure, drama. Based on the trailer there’s a larger political message. This message is so overpowering it almost seems like Okja is a dark comedy. Making this more amazing is that Okja is being marketed as a kids’ movie. It literally is this summer’s E.T., The Goonies and Gremlins all rolled into one.

The big question is, can this offbeat tale (which features an odd yet adorable new animal, a very different looking Tilda Swinton, and an almost unrecognizable Jake Gyllenhaal) be this summer’s Stranger Things? Can it resonate with audiences in the same way and a have a life far beyond our HD TVs? Will we see Super Pig Monsters at Comic Con and other fan fests?

Honestly, for as weird as Okja looks, it upholds the classic elements of 80s cinema while being its own thing. It also carries that cool factor Stranger Things held so dearly. Sure, Okja is bizarre. At the same time, Okja is a bold film. It is actually, in many ways, a 21st Century E.T.. It’s just a lot, lot darker. Stranger Things played on nostalgia to drive it’s story. As good as it was, it followed the A, B, C’s of 80s movies quite routinely. Okja turns that notion to its advantage, and becomes this wholly original beast. You’ve never seen a creature like this on the screen before, nor this type of story wrapped around it. This is another way Netflix is bringing back the old time, moviegoing experience, yet, they are doing it in our homes and not at the multiplex. Ironic that that this forward thinking company is actually using an old business model…And succeeding.

 Stranger Things was only really odd if you were new to that genre of filmmaking. For the people, like myself, that came of age in the 1980s, this show was awesome because of how well it seemed like it could have been from that time. Okja is tamping on similar ground. The plot is interesting, spreading a solid message about the sanctity of life and the vagaries of greed. It is a film filled with imaginative ideas. It is also a film filled with grand adventure and enthralling action. It’s the kind of spirit that Stranger Things reveled in. Though, Okja doesn’t quite have time to build in the same way as Stranger Things.

Stranger Things was basically an 8 hour 80s movie. Okja is just about 2 hours in length. No matter how much Okja could cram into it’s nearly 2 hour time frame, it doesn’t have the canvas that Stranger Things did. In fact, as most of you know, that canvas is expanding as the second season of Stranger Things will have 9 episodes instead of 8. Okja doesn’t have the room to explore the ideas that Stranger Things takes on, sure. Also, because it only has two hours, by design Okja can’t be filled with as many ideas as it would like to be. What we have here is an issue between dueling mediums. And in this race, TV is going to win this marathon every time. But on that note, it takes less time to devote to Okja, and it truly upholds the notion that Stranger Things tried to kick forth. In essence, it’s the type of movie that Stranger Things would have stolen from had it been released in the 80s instead of 2017.

Which is what makes Okja so impressive. It doesn’t really need to expand beyond its self-contained story. This is a Netflix Original film. Even though it is like other movies from back in the day, it is very much of this day and time. This brings us to the question of fairness? Is it even right to compare Okja to Stranger Things? Are we setting Okja up for failure by even doing so?

Well, the reality of this situation is that if Stranger Things did not exist, we probably wouldn’t be scrutinizing Netflix’s summer offerings how we are. However, the genie is out of the bottle. Netflix has been such a powerful entertainment juggernaut, that we have come to expect greatness from it. It’s very similar to how we expect similarly solid programming from HBO and AMC (after the mega-success of Breaking Bad). And Netflix has made fans and viewers quite happy in this regard.  And all of this goes back to the freedoms that writers, producers and directors are afforded by companies like Netflix.

Talent loves Netflix because they can literally do anything they want. It sort of reminds one of how studios dealt with the changing Hollywood system in the 1970s. The studios back then didn’t know what to do. They were desperate. They didn’t know what audiences wanted. Then suddenly independent films started to appear. Studios had to start taking chances because people wanted something new and fresh. As a result we got Easy Rider, Dog Day Afternoon, Mean Streets, A Clockwork Orange and a host of other unforgettable films that continue to be talked about years after their release. People also remember that studios who released them, too. There was no Netflix or Amazon Studios in 1975.

In 2017, the only studios with any real guts, with any real desire to release movies (not TV) that aren’t from the same cookie cutter mold we have all seen before are places like Netflix and Amazon Studios, and smaller low budget production houses like Blumhouse and A24. They are creative dens where iconoclastic directors like Bong Joon Ho can make films like Okja. Directors of this ilk can make the movies they want without the studio interference of the homogenous “development process.” It’s why so many directors are flocking to these alternative places to make their films. The reality is that the big studios are slowly becoming what they were in the 1970s. Clueless places of content that were ultimately usurped by the creative types they would have to give free reign. And because of this, we’re getting one of this summer’s coolest, best blockbuster movies on a streaming service. But perhaps there, it will have more time to be discovered and become the true summer phenomenon it deserves to be.

Of course, Netflix could always become an unwieldy behemoth. And if that happens the power will shift again as it shifted back to the studios in the 1980s. Ultimately, this led to the Blockbuster/McMovie mentality that has ebbed and flowed throughout various decades. Netflix is a shrewd company. They have an unholy amount of content. They’ve afforded many creative types a wide birth. Something tells me that in addition to Okja, the show that is really going to be this summer’s Stranger Things may not even on our radar yet. Or, is it? Is Okaj the brilliant film that will save and uplift the summer? Only time will tell but the deck seems strongly stacked in its favor. Okja is a one of a kind in a sea of faceless blockbusters. We have a feeling people will be talking about it well into September.


John Lithgow on Channeling Trump in Beatriz at Dinner | EXCLUSIVE

John Lithgow is a devilish delight in the black comedy Beatriz at Dinner. Directed by Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl) and written by Mike White (Orange County, School of Rock), Beatriz at Dinner is a satire about class differences. Beatriz (Salma Hayak) is a Mexican immigrant that works as a massage therapist at a healing center. She is a Buddhist, extremely spiritual, with a deep respect for all living things. Her car breaks down at the mansion of a wealthy client (Connie Britton) and her husband. Beatriz is invited to stay for dinner instead of calling a tow truck.

The dinner is a victory lap for a billionaire real estate developer, Doug Strutt (John Lithgow). Strutt is an obnoxious tycoon with a lot of media publicity. He at first mistakes Beatriz for a maid, then proceeds to ask if she is in the country illegally. Beatriz starts drinking and gets into a verbal sparring match with Doug. She is the voice of the poor working class. He is a one percenter, a so called job creator, who sees Beatriz and her ilk as just whiners to be exploited. Their arguing hijacks the entire dinner and puts the other guests in an extremely uncomfortable situation. Just when you think it can’t get any worse between Doug and Beatriz, the story takes a hard turn into dark, unexpected territory.

John Lithgow is a master thespian, truly one of the great actors of our time. His near fifty year career spans theatre, television, and film. His eloquent persona and genteel humor has made him a favorite of mine since I was a small child. I can still remember watching Harry and the Hendersons at the movies. His portrayal of Doug Strutt in Beatriz at Dinner is the rare villain in Lithgow’s repertoire. But as in every performance, he excels and dominates the screen. He plays Strutt as a Trump-esque character, devoid of empathy, obsessed with money and power. Who is this tiny Mexican woman who dares challenge his world view? Beatriz at Dinner is truly pertinent during these divided days.

John Lithgow surpasses expectations. A towering figure, he speaks softly and gently, a professional actor in every sense. Our interview with him did uncover an interesting tidbit about the film. Amy Landecker, who plays his fourth wife, was actually the second actress in the role. She took the part after the preceding actress left because of her father’s death. A little investigative work easily uncovers who she is, but I am leaving her name out of the interview. Mr. Lithgow did not mention her name out of respect, so we will do the same. Please see our full interview with John Lithgow below:

Is there anything good about Doug Strutt? Does he have any redeeming qualities?

John Lithgow: Sure, any character you play, you’re on his side. You do have the third eye that looks at what an appalling creature he is, but you have to look at what’s good about him. I suppose it has to do with his comfort with himself. I would say he’s self satisfied not smug. He loves his life. He enjoys his power. He’s quite charming. He does have a sense of humor. He laughs a lot. He’s approachable. He’s tough. He’s not thin skinned. He can take anything you throw at him.

Do people like Doug, the 1%, have a right to complain? Are they the job creators that give the masses wealth?

John Lithgow: Of course they do, they are people as well. Doug takes about what he does and what the world needs. He absolutely believes that. The larger idea of the film is how separated we are from each other. If we are ever going to save this society and the world, there has got to be a way for us to work together. That may be more than we can ever hope to achieve, just because of human nature. It is so rare that a man like Doug and a woman like Beatriz would ever converse with each other, let alone be at a supper together. There is a gulf between segments of society. What’s gone very wrong with our politics, and I hate to bring politics…

It is pertinent though…

John Lithgow: You cannot watch the film without thinking of where we are at politically. The problem is that people are pulling farther apart, rather than make an effort to get back together. There have been remarkable moments that united this country. It makes everyone feel relieved. Then because of economic stress, political shifts, we get wrenched apart again. I think it’s cyclical. I am an optimist by nature. There are moments, the period after 9/11, the way we responded. The election of Barack Obama. There are moments where the country felt good about being American. I’m waiting for that to happen again.

Mike White is such a brilliant writer. Did the director allow any deviations from the script? Was there any improvisation here?

John Lithgow: No, it was done exactly as written. Mike is a terrific writer. One of his great skills is offhand small talk. Dialogue that doesn’t look like it was written at all. He’s just superb.

This is a tremendous cast filming a small movie in a mansion. Please talk about the process and what it was like on set?

John Lithgow: We didn’t rehearse much. We gathered together for one afternoon. We read through the script. There was a bit of talk, but it all came so naturally. Everyone understood their role. Miguel creates a remarkable atmosphere. He’s the ultimate host. He’s kind of like a first grade art teacher. (laughs) He makes you feel so happy. He encourages you to be free. He lets the actors take the lead. It’s almost as if he’s enjoying watching the movie as it’s being made. Then he’ll come up and try the slightest different colors. It’s very often for you to try and play against type or expectations. That’s why Connie Brittons character is so brilliant. A good hearted person, with the best of intentions, creates an impossible situation.

How long was the shoot?

John Lithgow: I would say twenty-five to twenty-six shooting days, more like four weeks.

Before the election?

John Lithgow: Yes, it was last September. It was an enormous house, high up in Malibu. You’ve see the gorgeous vista. That’s where we hung out. We all worked every day because it was an ensemble piece. The only day I came in late was Salma’s birthday. I missed the mariachi band that Miguel hired. (laughs) We had little presents, games, and toys, from him, every few days. He would draw wonderful little things. Congrats on week four, we like what you’re doing, he was just an adorable man.

Are directors ever intimidated by you and your body of work? Is there any trepidation given someone of your esteem notes?

John Lithgow: Well, I don’t know. I hope not. You would have to ask them, but they have no reason to have trepidation from me. I subscribe to the great George G. Scott quote, “All actors are in trouble. Directors who don’t help are a pain in the ass”. We all need help from directors. We are all equally insecure. I was nervous at the first table reading…

Really, you still get nervous after all these years…

John Lithgow: Of course (laughs), I’m as flighty as anybody. You put a lot out there. I’ve been through the process a lot. When I play a major role, it’s my instinct to create a nice atmosphere. People in the major roles dominate the tone of an entire film. To my mind, it’s much easier to work creatively when everyone’s friendly.

Doug ignores Beatriz, think’s she’s the maid, until at dinner, after she’s had a few, she decides to speak up. That’s a great scene. How was the dinner shot?

John Lithgow: It’s great isn’t it? Miguel shot a few masters then he would come in and shoot closer in. He used people’s reactions well. David Warshofsky, who plays the head of the household, number two in the money hierarchy, has that wonderful moment when she won’t shut up. She’s a little tipsy, promising everyone backrubs. You see David go, “What the fuck is going on here. How are we going to deal with her?” (laughs) It’s so subtle, the flick of his eyes, but it tells volumes.

It’s obviously a satire, but I was shocked by how dark the film is.

John Lithgow: Yes, it darkens as it goes on.

Yes, it goes to a dark place. The turn for Beatriz is very interesting. What was it like working with Salma Hayak and watching her performance?

John Lithgow: It was perfect casting. They wrote it for her. In many ways she is like Beatriz. She has a big heart. She is very smart. She’s fearless. She will go right ahead and say what she thinks, in the best possible way. It’s never offensive, because it always is so real and true. She’s great to work with. In every case we had the script. It was interesting because there was another actress that played my wife. This hasn’t come up.

Wow, really, what happened?

John Lithgow: Yes, I can’t mention her name, but she’s a wonderful actress. Her father died. She had to leave. Things were so urgent, every shooting day was so precious. They had to replace her instantly. She’d only shot a few scenes.

So it wasn’t major because the filming had just began?

John Lithgow: No, it was pretty major. Bam, in came Amy Landecker. She had worked with Jay Duplass on Transparent. She was there the next day. It was like nothing ever happened. She was fabulous, but very, very different from the previous actress.

How did that affect the dynamic?

John Lithgow: That cast was a kaleidoscope. You move on thing and the entire picture changes. It was another equally vivid picture. There was a moment we realized things were different, but this was still it. The other actors enclosed her, and just like that, we were having a slightly different dinner party. (laughs)

Beatriz at Dinner is in select theaters and VOD on June 9th. From Roadside Attractions, the film stars Salma Hayak, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, David Warshofsky, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, and Chloe Sevigny.

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