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James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis are all starring in the third installment of the Unbreakable trilogy.
The first trailer for Glass, the third film in M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable series, debuted at San Diego Comic-Con on Friday.
The film, a sequel to 2016's Split and 2000's Unbreakable, sees James McAvoy return as Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man with 24 split personalities, including the animal-like The Beast, who abducts and devours women.
Also receiving top billing is Bruce Willis as David Dunn, the security guard from the 2000 film who survived a deadly train crash to discover he has superhuman strength.
And, of course, Samuel L. Jackson is back as Elijah Price, aka the super smart, yet super fragile, Mr. Glass.
Jackson told fans at a Comic-Con panel he was proud to sign on to the film because of the complexity of the character.
Sarah Paulson from American Horror Story also makes her debut in the series as a doctor treating people with delusions of being superheroes.
When it was released in 2016, Split wasn't marketed as a sequel to Unbreakable, but (spolier!) Willis's surprise appearance at the end of the film confirmed they take place in the same universe.
The Walking Dead Has Always Been Rocky Behind The Scenes. Here’s A Look At Everything That’s Gone Wrong.
The Walking Dead has, for eight seasons, been a ratings machine for AMC as millions of viewers tune in each week to see how Rick Grimes and company will overcome the latest zombie-inspired horror.
But all of that massive success has come despite a wave of behind the scenes controversies that show no sign of abating. From legal battles of profits and rights, to an onset death of a stuntman and internal strife, Walking Dead has somehow managed to keep the onscreen drama front and center.
Now, however, new challenges await as the show prepares for the departure of its lead star, Andrew Lincoln, whose character, Rick Grimes, has been a constant presence on a cast that has been dealt one shocking death after another. Lauren Cohan, whose character Maggie became central to the series after her debut in the second season, is also reportedly leaving after signing on to star on a new ABC show.
Here’s a look at all the major behind-the-scenes drama television’s top drama has faced and will continue to grapple with:
Andrew Lincoln in Season 1.
Frank Darabont plans to fire the entire writers' room (December 2010)
The Walking Dead was the kind of industry-shifting hit no one expected, so it was a bit of a shock when Deadline reported that showrunner Frank Darabont planned to fire the writers' room who worked with him on the successful debut season — especially executive producer Charles “Chic” Eglee, who worked as his second in command — and replace them with freelancers.
Executive producers Gale Anne Hurd and Robert Kirkman (who, in addition to creating the comic the show is based on, was one of the writers on the first season) both had to make statements — to Entertainment Weekly and TV Guide, respectively — explaining that the only person who was leaving for certain was Eglee, who was looking for his own show to be fully in charge of.
Frank Darabont speaks at AMC's The Walking Dead panel during Comic-Con 2011.
Frank Darabont mysteriously leaves showrunner position (July 2011)
Midway through production on the second season, and only days after participating in the San Diego Comic-Con panel for the show, Frank Darabont mysteriously left his position as showrunner, despite the fact that he had spent five years trying to get the show made.
Darabont and AMC were unclear about the circumstances surrounding his exit, however, court filings in his lawsuit over profit sharing stated that he was fired for his "erratic and unprofessional performance."
Within a day, Glen Mazzara, one of the writers who survived the first season of the show, was announced as the new showrunner.
Glen Mazzara attends the 2016 Television Critics Association Press Tour.
Glen Mazzara leaves in what’s said to be a mutual decision between him and AMC (December 2012)
While Season 3 of The Walking Dead broke cable records and doubled the audience of the series premiere, new showrunner Glen Mazzara, who had been with the show from the beginning, announced in a joint statement that he would be leaving after one-and-a-half seasons.
The statement noted that Mazzara’s departure was the result of a mutual agreement, but it also acknowledged that a difference in opinion between the showrunner and the network played a role.
The Hollywood Reporter cited sources who said Mazzara and co-creator Frank Darabont had been clashing over the direction of the show.
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier in Season 6.
Frank Darabont sues AMC for breach of contract (December 2013)
While the rumor was already out that Darabont was actually fired from Season 2 of The Walking Dead, it was confirmed when he and his talent agency, CAA, filed a lawsuit against AMC in December 2013 claiming breach of contract.
When Darabont first negotiated a deal with AMC, he was entitled to 12.5% of the profits from the show. But the contract was based on a third party producing the show, and after the success of the first season, AMC wanted to produce The Walking Dead itself. The network therefore had to renegotiate a deal with Darabont that instead paid him via licensing fees.
But Darabont alleges that the licensing fee deal AMC presented was created in bad faith by using a formula that made it seem as if the show was operating at a loss, and so there were no profits to hand over.
The legal dispute has gotten increasingly ugly, with Darabont also claiming that AMC would intentionally create crisis-level problems for the show, like slashing the budget while still benefiting from the tax credit they got by basing production in Georgia. Then, in 2017, emails written by Darabont leaked, showing that he had been abusive with staff, calling one camera operator a “blind fucking moron,” while in another message threatening to start “killing people and throwing bodies out the door.”
Darabont and CAA are seeking $280 million in damages from AMC, in addition to a second lawsuit for $10 million in damages for allegedly cutting Darabont out of profits from digital sales and overseas markets.
The Sanctuary set is seen for Season 8, Episode 1.
A stuntman dies on set (July 2017)
On July 12, 2017, during production on the eighth season of the series, stuntman John Bernecker fell 22 feet headfirst to his death.
Bernecker was supposed to jump from a balcony and fall onto padding, but he did not get far enough away from the balcony, and missed the padded target by inches. It would take about 30 minutes until Bernecker was evacuated to a hospital.
He was pronounced dead that evening, but was on life support for several more days. Production was halted for almost a week.
Producers and ousted showrunner sue AMC for breach of contract (August 2017)
Right as Darabont’s case against AMC began picking up steam, The Walking Dead producers Gale Anne Hurd, Robert Kirkman, Charles Eglee, David Alpert, and, most surprisingly, ousted showrunner Glen Mazzara filed a joint lawsuit against the network.
Like Darabont, the producers claim that in shifting the show’s production to be vertically integrated within AMC, the network was able to manipulate the amount of money going in and expenses going out in order to create the illusion that the show was running on a deficit, and therefore had no money left over for the creative team.
While the lawsuit remains ongoing, Hurd, Kirkman, and Alpert continue to work as “partners” with AMC on the show. They are also facing a copyright lawsuit alleging they took the plot of the comic Dead Ahead and used it for Season 2 of Fear the Walking Dead, a spin-off that is set before the events of The Walking Dead.
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in Season 8.
Petition to fire Scott Gimple over Carl’s death (December 2017)
Scott Gimple, Mazzara’s successor, has had the longest tenure as showrunner of The Walking Dead, and was promoted to chief content officer of the franchise in January, with Angela Kang taking over as showrunner for the upcoming ninth season. However, prior to his promotion, there were calls for Gimple to be fired, with a petition signed by over 50,000 people.
Basically, fans were angry that Gimple made the decision to kill off Carl, Rick's son, who is still alive in the comics. The showrunner also apparently did not give much warning beforehand to the actor, Chandler Riggs, of his character’s pending demise, prompting his father to write a now-deleted Facebook post stating that his son was wronged by the show.
Family of stuntman killed on set sue AMC for wrongful death (January 2018)
Nearly six months after the death of stuntman John Bernecker, one of the show's production companies, Stalwart Films, was fined $12,675 — the maximum by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration — for the incident, citing the company’s “failure to provide adequate protection from fall hazards.”
Shortly afterward, Bernecker’s mother used the fine to build a case against Stalwart Films, AMC, Robert Kirkman, actor Austin Amelio, and several others involved in the production, claiming they were partly responsible for her son’s death. She notes that production strayed from the industry standard by not having an ambulance or medical transport on set, prolonging the response time. She also claims there wasn’t enough rehearsal for the scene, in which Amelio touches Bernecker and throws him off the balcony, and there was insufficient padding for the fall.
AMC hasn’t commented on the litigation, but insists the show does “meet or exceed industry safety standards.”
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene in Season 7.
Lauren Cohan and Andrew Lincoln prepare to exit
After months of rumors, The Walking Dead’s lead star, Andrew Lincoln, announced at this year's San Diego Comic-Con that he is leaving the show.
"This has been the most extraordinary, amazing, and beautiful experience of my career," he said before kicking off the panel discussion for Season 9.
The official announcement had been spoiled a day earlier by series executive producer Robert Kirkman in a taped interview for IMDb, although he didn't divulge any details of how Lincoln's on-screen exit would go. He did say, however, that "we have something amazing planned."
Robert Kirkman on a panel in 2017.
And that's on a show famous for brutal surprises when it comes to killing off main characters.
The loss of Rick Grimes, the sheriff who has led the fluctuating cast of zombie apocalypse survivors from the beginning, would be a huge blow on its own, but Lauren Cohan, one of the show's most notable female leads, is also rumored to be leaving the show after a tough contract renegotiation with AMC. The rumors were addressed in an Instagram post from one of her costars — who said, “Pay the woman” — and seemingly corroborated by the fact that Cohan booked the female lead in the pilot Whiskey Cavalier for ABC.
With Whiskey Cavalier going to series and premiering in 2019, Cohan’s negotiations with AMC ended with her agreeing to appear in six of the eight episodes in the first half of Walking Dead’s Season 9, likely giving producers a way to script a proper exit for her character.
Lincoln reportedly asked to be written off the show in the first half of Season 9 as well. It is unclear just how the show will get rid of Rick, but there have been additional reports that say once Lincoln is gone, Norman Reedus’ fan favorite character Daryl Dixon will take over as the show's lead. Reedus is reportedly set to make $20 million for his new contract as a result.
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in the upcoming Season 9.
Season 9 and Angela Kang as the new showrunner
It’s unclear how the departures of two big characters will affect the show’s ratings, especially as it approaches the 10-season mark. Season 8 averaged a reported 7.82 million viewers an episode compared with 11.4 million viewers during Season 7. For context, at its peak, The Walking Dead was averaging 15.8 million viewers for Season 5 three years ago.
But eight years after it debuted, The Walking Dead is still the No. 1-rated television drama — and, as Ad Age noted, that’s despite airing on a channel that is only available in roughly 75% of TV-watching households.
Dressed as Season 1 Glenn, complete with a baseball bat and pizza delivery uniform, Walking Dead fan Kaila Spencer told BuzzFeed News at Comic-Con that she tends to remain skeptical of the show, keeping an eye on how producers like Scott Gimple react to fan feedback. But she and others said they were happy with the promotion of Angela Kang to showrunner.
"I'm sad about the departure of Rick, but then also Angela Kang. . . I've never seen her talk before, but now seeing how excited she is about the show, I'm kind of more confident about it because I feel like having some fresh new faces running the show will make it better, hopefully."
The show is keenly aware of fan interest in the details and how behind-the-scenes actions can affect the direction. But executive producer Robert Kirkman told BuzzFeed News that's a good thing.
"If [the fans] weren't worried, then you know we'd be doing something wrong," he said at Comic-Con on Thursday. "The fact that they care about that stuff is important, and to a certain extent shows that we're doing our job.”
The Walking Dead returns for Season 9 on Oct. 7.
Andrew Lincoln Confirmed He's Leaving “The Walking Dead”: “I Love This Show — It Means Everything To Me”
Andrew Lincoln has confirmed that he will be leaving The Walking Dead, creating room on the zombie survival horror drama for a new lead.
Addressing fans at a San Diego Comic-Con panel on Friday, Lincoln said Season 9 is "my last season playing the part of Rick Grimes."
"I love this show, it means everything to me," he said. "This has been the most extraordinary, amazing, and beautiful experience of my career."
His confirmation came one day after Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead comics and executive producer of the massive AMC hit, revealed plans to write Lincoln's character off the show, saying in an interview for IMDb, "We have something amazing planned."
With the do-gooder, sheriff's deputy-turned-all-out-zombie-survivalist no longer leading the cast, the Hollywood Reporter has reported that Norman Reedus's character, Daryl Dixon, is in negotiations to assume the show's leading role in a deal worth $20 million. Lauren Cohan, whose character, Maggie Greene, became central to the series after her debut in the second season, is also reportedly leaving after signing on to star on a new ABC show.
But the departure of Grimes will mean the television show will be diverging further from the comic, in which Lincoln's character is still alive. Even so, Lincoln said the role will stick with him.
"I suppose what I wanted to say is, my relationship with Mr. Grimes is far from over, and a sort of large part of me will always be a machete-wielding, Stetson-wearing, zombie-slaying sheriff’s deputy from London, England," he said, referring to his home country.
He also promised fans that the show would deliver when the next season debuts in October.
"I think there are two episodes that for me are my favorite episodes since the pilot, and I also just want to commend all of these amazing actors, everybody, the rest of the cast," Lincoln said. "I think they’re doing the greatest work I’ve ever seen, and this has always been an ensemble, and it will continue to be an ensemble, and no one is bigger than the story, and the story this year is unbelievable."
Early on in Sorry to Bother You, rapper Boots Riley’s film directorial debut, there’s a scene in which protagonist Cassius “Cash” Green (Lakeith Stanfield); his girlfriend, Detroit (Tessa Thompson); his best friend, Salvador (Jermaine Fowler); and a coworker, Squeeze (Steven Yeun), are traveling in his car. When a rainstorm strikes, Cash asks Detroit to start the windshield wipers — a task that requires her to pull a system of ropes and pulleys to move the wipers back and forth. Salvador complains that he’s never allowed to handle windshield duty, while Squeeze looks on, amused.
It's a moment that captures what the movie does best: intermingling the personal and the political with a dash of humor.
For those who are unfamiliar, Sorry to Bother You is about Cash, a black telemarketer who rises up the ranks at work after discovering and wielding his literal “white voice” (supplied by David Cross). When he gets promoted to the top tier of telemarketing, Cash learns that “power callers” specialize in selling weapons and cheap labor to global elites. Cash’s promotion also puts him at odds with Detroit and their coworkers, who have formed a union. Eventually, he meets a powerful, coked-up billionaire (Armie Hammer) who reveals his scheme to genetically engineer the perfect source of cheap labor — and he wants Cash’s help. Throughout the film, there are dense layers of references to pop culture, music, and politics. In a way, the movie is always “on,” as every scene and exchange aims to be political, funny, or both.
Tessa Thompson and Lakeith Stanfield in Sorry to Bother You.
In that sense, the film is a noticeable extension of Riley’s signature style. Since the 1993 debut of his rap group, the Coup, Riley has been a consistent anti-capitalist voice within hip-hop. As an MC, Riley went beyond exhaustive soapboxing and corny conscious ballads. He also did a better job avoiding the misogynistic, anti-gay, and anti-Semitic pitfalls that mar Public Enemy and Ice Cube’s otherwise stellar early work. The Coup pulled it off by remaining true to their socialist politics, for sure, but Riley also grounded his views with humor, emotion, and impressive storytelling skills — all supported by funky, throwback beats that often were supplied by live musicians.
Sorry to Bother You marks a great moment in time to revisit the group’s back catalog. These days, more young people claim they reject capitalism, and they seem more open to socialism than older generations. This trend is perhaps best exemplified by the recent news that self-described Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, defeated an establishment incumbent Democrat in the primary elections for her New York City district. The unionization plotline also feels relevant given the recent wave of teachers strikes that have garnered national headlines. The Coup’s music offers similar themes for listeners, a soundtrack for class warfare, and anti-imperialist efforts.
Additionally, the fact that a socialist rap group dropped a number of acclaimed, even classic, albums should be more than a footnote in hip-hop history or an entry in a listicle. Mainstream rappers like J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar continue to infuse politics into their work, so it’s clear that a broad audience can handle music with a message. Sorry to Bother You has earned a lot of acclaim already, boasting a 95% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, and, after a promising limited release, it earned over $4 million the weekend it expanded to more theaters. This film is bound to resonate with people as it reaches more viewers. And I think the Coup’s back catalog will appeal to them too.
The Coup began as a trio comprising Riley, E-Roc, and the late Pam the Funkstress, who died in 2017 at 51. Only Riley remains in the group now. They released their debut album, Kill My Landlord, in 1993. Their lead single, “Not Yet Free,” connects the struggle of street life and its effect on one’s psyche — “And every day I pulls a front so nobody pulls my card / I got a mirror in my pocket and I practice lookin’ hard” — to how capitalism physically decimates marginalized communities — “Capitalism is like a spider, the web is getting tighter. … / It's like a noose, asphyxiation sets in.” Their two follow-ups, Genocide & Juice and Steal This Album!, have been called underground classics by outlets like the AV Club, OkayPlayer, and Pitchfork. As the former’s title suggests, the Coup mixed the West Coast funk-heavy sound with sharp political observations.
The group’s radical politics have, to no surprise, garnered controversy. The Coup’s third album, Party Music, made national news because of a controversial cover — one that suffered from very unfortunate timing due to its planned release date in September 2001. The picture, drafted months before 9/11, featured Riley and Pam detonating the World Trade Center towers with a guitar tuner, intended to represent their music destroying capitalism. The 9/11 attacks forced them to delay the release and design a new cover. It also landed Riley a panel spot on Bill Maher’s Politically Incorrect, on which Riley addressed the controversy. He held his ground against Maher and other panelists when discussing issues like corporate influence over politicians, anti-Muslim attitudes, and being a socialist. In the end, Party Music weathered all the controversy and anger and landed on several “best of the year” lists.
Political rappers and rap groups don’t always age well; they can be corny or preachy, and they often feature messy politics that compromise their messages of revolution. To quote Greg Tate’s essay on Public Enemy’s frustrating polemics (a line that, ironically, is now a bit problematic these days), “To know PE is to love the agitprop (and artful noise) and to worry over the whack retarded philosophy they espouse.” Tate further lamented that while the group showed “sound reasoning when they focus on racism as a tool of the U.S. power structure” they were prone to dehumanizing gay men, women, and Jews.
Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress at the Fillmore in San Francisco in 2002.
Indeed, one big factor that keeps the Coup’s back catalog so polished is that their politics are clearer. They’re consistently socialist and tend not to lean into misogyny or anti-gay rhetoric as hard as other acts. Riley always added a bit of humor and mischief to his lines, too, bolstered by tight, funky beats. For example, cartoon executions of businessmen accompany the song “5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO” in its official music video: “You could throw a twenty in a vat of hot oil / When he jump in after it watch him boil / Toss a dollar in the river and when he jump in / If you can find he can swim / Put lead boots on him and do it again!” There’s also “Ride the Fence” off Party Music, a teardown of political centrism and a rundown of Riley’s leanings: anti-police, pro-union, “anti-watered-down drinks in expensive glasses.”
The Coup doesn’t rely on widespread manifesto after manifesto either. They narrow down on specific issues. They have two songs focused on the repossession industry and its role in punishing poor black communities for debt. Off Steal This Album! there’s “Breathing Apparatus,” which deals with the health care industry and culminates in the idea that an uninsured patient’s life is forfeited because the patient “lost the will to pay.” It’s a death sentence that would fit well into the dystopia of Sorry to Bother You, a world in which people conscript themselves into luxury prisons run by a megacorporation.
All that said, storytelling may be Riley’s biggest strength as an MC, and in that sense, it’s no surprise that he made such a successful jump to film. In “Not Yet Free,” Riley showed he could connect the struggles of inner-city life to the oppression of a broader system, and he repeats this theme in “Fat Cats, Bigga Fish.” The song follows a hustler who “got game like [he] read the directions” through what begins as a regular day of pickpocketing and conning people into giving him free meals through a decrepit city. The protagonist soon sneaks his way into a cocktail party disguised as a waiter, expecting easy, lucrative targets. Instead, he finds that the owner of Coca-Cola bottling is leveraging the mayor of his city to play up crime rates and invite developers in to clean up the town with new luxury housing. The song switches from a playful grifter’s story to a realization about gentrification and corporate lobbying. “Ain't no hustler on the street could do a whole community,” raps Riley. “I’m getting hustled knowin’ only half the game.”
Riley in 2009.
In “Cars & Shoes,” also off Steal This Album!, Riley raps an ode to the broken-down jalopies in his life, similar to the dilapidated car Cash drives in Sorry to Bother You. The song is funny and relatable to anyone who’s had consistent car problems (or who’s had to rely on someone with a broken-down vehicle). But the second verse starts to hint at something deeper than Riley just being a cheapskate: He needs a car to get to work; otherwise, he could lose his job. And a dangerous, shoddy car is still more reliable than public transit: “Catchin' buses be gettin' me to work late / And you know that slow down my pay rate / Down to zero.” This song goes from a simple joke-filled rap to a realization about the hardships of the working class. The song suddenly ends with a message: With no reliable public transit, the working poor need to settle for whatever they can get, and they will still lose out in the end.
Another storytelling rap has a very direct tie to the film: “We’ve Got a Lot to Teach You, Cassius Green,” off the 2012 Sorry to Bother You album, recorded after Riley finished his screenplay. In this song, a corporation headed by literal fanged, bloodthirsty monsters tries to recruit Cash to higher ranks while they feast on human bodies — a direct stand-in for capitalists preying on their workers. The scene is a mix of gore and claws and spreadsheets, contrasted against slow, breezy instrumentals featuring synth keys, bells, and a sitar. Cash tries to leave the company, only to realize he has a monster-like tail himself. The music then shifts into a celebratory jam between an accordion and washboard as the monsters sing, “We’ve got a lot to teach you!” While the plot diverges from the film (there are no gargoyles or cannibalistic monsters in the movie), the song strikes some similar notes: The onscreen Cash also receives a warm welcome from the corporate bigwigs in the films and suffers a tragic transformation. The song seems to say that if capitalism doesn’t consume your body, it’ll twist your soul — an ominous message that can be applied to the film.
Riley and actor Steven Yeun on the set of Sorry to Bother You.
Sorry to Bother You is in many ways another contribution to the Coup’s legacy — and not just because of the soundtrack. The “bring the revolution to their doorstep” message of songs like “5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO,” “My Favorite Mutiny,” and “The Guillotine” also has a place in the movie, as workers learn they need to start fighting back (a group of mutated workers even storm a maniacal billionaire’s mansion at the very end). And while Cash isn’t a hardened hustler like the narrator of “Fat Cats,” he’s not above exaggerating, lying, or even faking his credentials to get some sort of advantage. It’s exciting to see an artist like Riley apply his artistic sensibilities to a whole new medium — and to watch him succeed.
On film or on wax, Boots Riley and the Coup are carrying on a musical tradition of revolution; they’re carrying on a hip-hop tradition of speaking truth to power. They’re also making damn good art, with a focus, a message, and tons of heart. The Coup’s discography, like many of the best political acts, proves that the revolution won’t only sound like marches, gunshots, debates, or chants; it might just sound like a party. ●
Alejandro Ramirez is a Boston-based writer and journalist whose work has appeared in Vice, the Boston Globe, Western Humanities Review, and Defunct. He is also the editor-in-chief of Spare Change News, a newspaper focused on homelessness and social justice. He received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Solstice Program at Pine Manor College.
Alejandro Ramirez is a Boston-based writer and journalist whose work has appeared in VICE, The Boston Globe, Western Humanities Review, and Defunct. He is also the editor-in-chief of Spare Change News, a newspaper focused on homelessness and social justice. He received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Solstice Program at Pine Manor College.
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