“Instead of a first impression rose to keep a guy, can there be a first impression garbage bag to get rid of one?”
“Instead of a first impression rose to keep a guy, can there be a first impression garbage bag to get rid of one?”
Zack Snyder, one of the foremost directors in the DC Cinematic Universe, announced on Monday that he will be stepping down from directing Justice League in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. He’ll be taking time away from the project to deal with the death of his 20-year-old daughter, Autumn, who killed herself this past March. Snyder’s wife, Deborah Snyder, will also be stepping down from her role as producer on the film. Joss Whedon — acclaimed director of Marvel’s The Avengers and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, and of DC’s upcoming film adaptation of Batgirl — will take over Justice League‘s post-production and shooting additional scenes.
After Autumn’s death, production on Justice League was put on a two-week hiatus for the Snyders to deal with the tragedy. “In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was way through it,” Snyder told THR. But due to the “all consuming” nature of his job, Snyder, who has seven other children, “decided to take a step back from the movie to be with my family, be with my kids, who really need me. They are all having a hard time. I’m having a hard time.”
He originally planned to shoot the additional Justice League scenes, which are scheduled to film in England, but ultimately decided against leaving home at this time. “I never planned to make this public,” Snyder told THR of his daughter’s death. “I thought it would just be in the family, a private matter, our private sorrow that we would deal with. When it became obvious that I need to take break, I knew there would be narratives created on the internet. They’ll do what they do. The truth it…I’m past caring about that kind of thing now.”
Autumn was attending Sarah Lawrence College at the time of her death. Deborah Snyder told THR that Autumn had recently finished a manuscript for a sci-fi fantasy novel that the Snyders would like, one day, to publish and give the proceeds to charity. “In the end, she didn’t make it, but her character does and I think there would be something cathartic for people,” said Snyder.
As for Justice League, Snyder told THR: “I know the fans are going to be worried about the movie but there are seven other kids that need me … In the end, it’s just a movie. It’s a great movie. But it’s just a movie.”
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Whedon and Warner Bros. for further information, but according to THR, Justice League is still set to maintain its original release date, Nov. 17, 2017.
In late-night, being politically engaged and enraged has allowed the once faltering Stephen Colbert to challenge Jimmy Fallon in ratings, and on streaming, series like The Handmaid’s Tale and Dear White People have garnered significant attention for tackling issues of gender and race.
But, at least for this forthcoming season — the first since President Trump was voted into office — network TV appears to be heading in the other direction, toward the safety of the already known or the feels-like-you-already-know-it.
At least that’s what was suggested by the first round of new shows announced in the past week. The big networks — ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox, and NBC — all held their upfront presentations in New York City this past week, glitzy annual events where new series and fall schedules are presented to advertisers, who are treated to footage and appearances from talent.
What was unveiled were programming choices that seemed designed to evoke the familiar — sometimes literally. One of the biggest surprises the week had to offer was that the previously announced Roseanne return would go to ABC for an eight-episode season to air in 2018. “There’s really no one better to comment on our modern America than Roseanne,” ABC president Channing Dungey said in a statement about the show, expressing the kind of “now more than ever” sentiment with which all kinds of content has been anointed ever since Trump’s win.
In this case, though, it’s not clear exactly what Dungey meant by that. No one better because the original Roseanne, which ran from 1988 to 1997, was progressive in its tackling of issues like LGBT representation and abortion? Because it’s a portrayal of the white working class that became so central to the election? Because of Barr’s present-day stance as someone who made a Green Party presidential candidate bid and who told the Hollywood Reporter that “we would be so lucky if Trump won. Because then it wouldn’t be Hillary”? Or is it just because we’ve heard from Barr before? As with all network presidents, Dungey is unlikely to give a clear answer (particularly in the wake of all the flak ABC got for canceling the conservative-leaning Last Man Standing).
But she did did share, in a conference call with press, that what “the mood of the country has told us is that television is a little bit of an escape,” which speaks to the nostalgic tendencies seen all around. Roseanne isn’t the only show arising from the grave — Will & Grace is also back this fall with its original cast, a fact heralded with a video that confusingly suggested that Eric McCormack’s Will and Debra Messing’s Grace existed in the real world, while Karen (Megan Mullally) and Jack (Sean Hayes) somehow did not. Then there are the reboots and remakes, like The CW’s Dynasty, a new take on the ’80s Aaron Spelling primetime soap, and CBS’s S.W.A.T., based on another Spelling show, as well as the 2003 movie of the same name it inspired.
There are prequels like Star Trek: Discovery, which will stream on CBS’s digital subscription VOD service CBS All Access, and Young Sheldon, which will follow the long-running Big Bang Theory it plays off of, exploring the childhood of Jim Parsons’ persnickety genius Sheldon Cooper.
And then there are the shows that merely feel like something we’ve seen before. Seth MacFarlane’s Fox sci-fi satire The Orville is reminiscent of Galaxy Quest, while NBC’s Rise, with Josh Radnor and Moana‘s Auli’i Cravalho, looks like a more serious Glee. The Fox airline comedy LA to Vegas has Dylan McDermott doing what appears to be a Will Ferrell impression, while ABC’s The Gospel of Kevin comes across as a sibling to Joan of Arcadia, Eli Stone, and My Name Is Earl in its regular-joe-gets-a-divine-mission setup. There are two medical series about brilliant doctors who have a harder time socially: One, ABC’s drama The Good Doctor, which stars Freddie Highmore as surgeon with Asperger’s, is actually from the creator of House; the other, Fox’s The Resident, is just House-like, with Matt Czuchry as a tough truth-teller mentoring an idealistic newcomer (Manish Dayal).
Mark Feuerstein’s autobiographical CBS sitcom 9JKL resembles Everybody Loves Raymond. ABC’s Deception (magician) and CBS’s Instinct (writer/professor) fall into the well-established formula of unlikely consultants helping to catch criminals — see The Mentalist, Castle, Lucifer, and on and on. And in the most centrally backwards-looking (but intriguing) concept of them all, Justin Theroux and Jimmy Kimmel will have a live ABC special in which stars read classic TV scripts from the likes of Norman Lear and James L. Brooks.
This is not to say these shows, considered on the very early basis of their network-provided cutdowns and loglines, look bad. In fact, the most-watched trailer from the bunch, for Fox’s X-Men drama The Gifted, manages to give off a serious whiff of Heroes while also looking like a promising small-screen superhero saga. But there’s a general conservatism in the announced aims of so many of these new series — not politically so much as in terms of ambition.
While hardly daring, steering into strengths may be the smartest move for networks that haven’t been able to compete with the freedoms of cable and streaming. Especially at a time in which ratings are lower than ever, the TV equivalent of comfort food has a powerful pull.
Of course, there are still the odd blips in the lineup of shows with potential to do more than offer entertainment and escape — like ABC’s The Mayor (Brandon Micheal Hall), which flips the script on the idea of a Trump-style outsider winning a campaign by having a struggling rapper find himself in office after a publicity stunt goes a little too well. Or The CW’s Black Lightning, with its superhero turned principal turned superhero battling gang violence. And then there’s that S.W.A.T. reboot, which in its surprising trailer acknowledges that the whole cops-kicking-ass premise of the original hasn’t aged so well, and gives glimpses of a police shooting of an unarmed black teenager and a protagonist (Shemar Moore) focused on rebuilding trust with the community.
Of course, it also involves running around with massive guns and shooting what looks like a rocket launcher. You can’t go too far off book, after all — you’ve still got to give the people what they want.
Casting director and producer Michael Streeter was “furious and dumbfounded” when he was told he couldn’t cast a black actor in his planned production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in Portland, Oregon. “The [Edward] Albee Estate called and said I need to fire the black actor and replace him with a white one,” he posted on Facebook. Streeter declined and decided to cancel the production entirely.
After Vulture’s Mark Harris shared Streeter’s post on Twitter, it started gaining traction. Performer Brian Lobel tweeted, “Edward Albee’s Estate is racist. Decolonize the curriculum. Make work which is relevant, not racist. Time to find some new idols.”
While Streeter’s account might sound like a clear example of discrimination — and there’s certainly a moral argument to be made against the Albee estate’s decision — from a legal perspective, it’s more complicated than that. Producers have to get rights before they can put on a production, and many in the theater community believe that playwrights or their estates can withhold those rights to their plays for any reason they see fit. The Dramatists Guild Bill of Rights states, “You have the right to approve the cast, director, and designers … This is called ‘artistic approval.’” And yes, in some cases, that means approving or rejecting an actor based on race.
“I don’t see this as being racist,” Streeter told BuzzFeed News. “I think that they are operating from some fealty to a sense of integrity, of retaining what Edward Albee would want. And I understand that.”
He said he never questioned the legality of the Albee estate’s choice. “They certainly are within their rights to do it, and they did it. … I’m disappointed that they made that choice.”
The concept of “artistic approval” doesn’t exclusively benefit white actors; it also serves to protect playwrights who have written characters to be played specifically by actors of color. In 2015, the Dramatists Guild spoke out in defense of playwrights Lloyd Suh and Katori Hall, whose work was being produced on college campuses with white actors playing roles that had been written as nonwhite. And while race is central to these examples, playwrights have railed against other “nontraditional” casting choices: In 2014, representatives for David Mamet sent a cease-and-desist letter to a production of Oleanna that cast a man in a female role. That production shut down after one performance.
In the case of Streeter’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the concern seems to be over how casting a black actor as Nick fundamentally changes the text. Nick is one-half of the younger couple in the play who intrude on the fractured marriage of George and Martha. In a letter sent to Streeter and provided to BuzzFeed News, a representative for the office of Edward Albee writes, “It is important to note that Mr. Albee wrote Nick as a Caucasian character, whose blonde hair and blue eyes are remarked on frequently in the play, even alluding to Nick’s likeness as that of an Aryan of Nazi racial ideology. Furthermore, Mr. Albee himself said on numerous occasions when approached with requests for non-traditional casting in productions of Virginia Woolf? that a mixed-race marriage between a Caucasian and an African-American would not have gone unacknowledged in conversations in that time and place and under the circumstances in which the play is expressly set by textual references in the 1960s.”
The letter also notes that Streeter went against protocol by hiring actors without prior approval by the Albee estate, and by advertising the production before receiving the rights to the play. (In his Facebook post, Streeter said that he requested the rights in November, but said the estate requires a venue and cast to be set in order to grant the rights. He also said he only created images for casting purposes, not to advertise the production.)
Streeter is taking the Albee estate’s word when it comes to the reason for wanting Nick to remain white. At the same time, he noted, there is some inconsistency within their response. A 2002 Oregon Shakespeare Festival production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? cast black actor Andrea Frye as Martha alongside white actor Richard Elmore as George, going against the Albee estate’s current assertion that one of their objections is to the portrayal of an interracial couple. But Albee was alive to give his approval at the time of the Shakespeare Festival production — the playwright died in 2016 — and Streeter believes some of the resistance now might reflect a more restrictive approach designed to preserve the intent of an author who is deceased.
“I think now that Albee is gone, they should let go of some of that and open up to the idea,” Streeter said. He’s sympathetic, but he believes Albee’s death could actually allow for more diverse productions of his plays. “I was hoping the negative elements with Edward Albee would have died with him,” he said. “You’ve got years of situations where black actors have not had the opportunities to play those great roles.”
The controversy over Streeter’s planned production and the Albee estate’s response has also drawn attention to the difference between colorblind versus color-conscious casting. Both are intended to increase representation in theater, but while the former reflects a belief that any actor can play any part, the latter viewpoint is that casting actors of color in traditionally white roles does change the meaning of the work. Hamilton, for example, is held up as color conscious: Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the musical to be performed by nonwhite actors as the Founding Fathers with specific artistic intent. Similarly, Streeter was only considering actors of color for Nick in his Virginia Woolf, which he described as “color conscious.” In a second Facebook post, he explained his thought process behind casting Nick as black. “The character is an up and comer,” he wrote. “He is ambitious and tolerates a lot of abuse in order to get ahead. I see this as emblematic of African Americans in 1962, the time the play was written.”
Colorblind casting has drawn its own share of controversy over the years. Black playwright August Wilson once said, “To cast us in the role of mimics is to deny us our own competence … colorblind casting is the same idea of assimilation that black Americans have been rejecting for the past 380 years. For the record, we reject it again.” The recently announced production of Carousel, which will open on Broadway in spring 2018, has earned criticism for casting black actor Joshua Henry as Billy Bigelow, the abusive, criminal male lead, against white actor Jessie Mueller as Julie Jordan. Some have suggested the casting perpetuates negative stereotypes about black men: As one tweet noted, this is the problem with colorblind casting — as opposed to the upcoming Frozen musical, which consciously cast a black actor as the romantic lead Kristoff and a white actor as the villain Hans.
Though color-conscious casting offers a more thoughtful approach to diversity than colorblind casting does, it can dramatically alter the material — and when the playwright is no longer alive, as is the case with Albee, that presents a problem for the estate trying to honor his original vision.
There’s no easy answer to that conundrum, but Streeter hopes that producers continue to broaden their visions of classic plays by casting outside the traditional restrictions. To playwrights, he offered: “Certainly it’s your work, you should exert what control you think is necessary. One thing I would say to them is, ‘Hey, after you’re gone … let it go. Just let people do what they want with it.’”
Fans of Grey’s Anatomy braced themselves for the worst before watching Thursday night’s finale: the possible death of another major character, this time Stephanie Edwards (Jerrika Hinton). And though the surgical resident survives the explosion that left viewers breathless in the penultimate episode, the reality is that her survival still comes with a bittersweet goodbye.
Hinton has been hinting about exiting Grey’s Anatomy for over a year now. In March 2016, she signed on to star in the ShondaLand comedy pilot Toast, set during a couple’s engagement dinner. ABC decided not to move forward with the show — but Hinton, who’s played Edwards on Grey’s since 2012, was still making moves toward a departure. “Shonda and I met almost a year ago,” Hinton told BuzzFeed News. “We had a phenomenal, very gratifying conversation about creative process, and work.
“She was immensely supportive of my wishes,” Hinton recalled. “I thanked her tons privately, and I’d also like to use this as a time to thank her publicly for being so supportive of the decision that was right for me at the time.”
Though it was rumored back in January 2017 that Hinton would not be back as a series regular in the show’s 14th season, it was the cliffhanger of the penultimate episode of Season 13 that really shook fans. In the episode, Edwards is held hostage by a rapist (Casey Thomas Brown). In an attempt to escape his clutches and protect a little girl, Erin, (Big Little Lies’ Darby Camp) whom they stumble on, Edwards lights the man on fire. He falls down near some oxygen tanks, and the episode ends with a major explosion — and with the fate of Erin, the rapist, and Edwards unknown.
Fan reaction around the episode was passionate and pleading. In one example of many tweets like it, @OffSeids wrote “Girl istg if they kill off Edwards I’m done with Shonda lol.” Another, @JadeCaity, tweeted “Grey’s Anatomy did not just kill Stephanie Edwards. this is not happening.”
As the Season 14 finale revealed, that indeed did not happen — though it seemed like a close call for a while there. Instead, Edwards spends most of the finale saving Erin from the raging fire. Severely burned by the end of the episode, she tells Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.) that between this and her childhood in sickle cell trials, she’s had enough of hospitals. She announces her plans to travel the world and live her life, her surgical ambitions no longer her top priority.
Hinton was very aware of the fan response to the cliffhanger last week. “I hope that [viewers] are not only relieved that she lives, but also that she gets to exit that hospital on her own terms,” Hinton said. “I hope they see that in the powerful way that it is.”
According to Hinton, Edwards’ storyline this season is “one where if you sit back and review it on a binge-watch, there might be some threads there that you catch the second time around that weren’t evident the first time.”
That could be, in part, because of how long this has been in the works. In her initial meeting with Rhimes, Hinton said they talked about Edwards’ exit and the conversation was largely about “reaching common ground.”
“Stephanie’s journey has always existed on a bit of a back burner,” Hinton said, “and so it seemed right to have these flames come to the foreground in her departure.”
As for whether we’ll see Edwards again at Grey Sloan Memorial, Hinton thinks it’s unlikely. “The reasons why she’s choosing to leave that place are deep, profound, multi-layered reasons, and because of that, it would not make sense for her to keep checking back in to that place,” she said. “She’s seeking something much more profound for her life.”
Hinton’s post-Grey’s plan was similar to her character’s: “My plan was to conclude Stephanie’s chapter, and then, honestly, leave the country for six months and travel, and be a part of the world again, and feel reintegrated into society, and basically go on this spiritual quest,” she said. But then, an opportunity “materialized out of the ether,” as she put it: a costarring role on Alan Ball’s new HBO show, Here Now. Hinton will play one of the adopted children of Holly Hunter’s character. “It’s this wonderful thing I did not plan,” she said.
So yes, this is a goodbye to Stephanie Edwards, but Hinton wouldn’t change a thing. “Sometimes you do all of the blood, sweat, and tears, and you go home wondering if it was worth it,” Hinton said of filming her final episodes. “With this, the blood, sweat, and tears have been worth it.”
Season 2 of Netflix’s Master of None isn’t just about Dev (Aziz Ansari): Both Arnold (Eric Wareheim) and Denise (Lena Waithe) get their own episodes, and Brian (Kelvin Yu) gets a special segment with his father. There are not, however, any scenes with the whole gang back together, laughing over a meal from whatever restaurant Dev took two hours to find on Eater.
But that wasn’t intentional.
According to co-showrunner (and the inspiration for Brian) Alan Yang, it was actually “kind of just how things boiled down.” “Before the season, we just have a stack of a hundred ideas and we just try to shape the season out of our favorite ideas that we’re most excited about and we have the most passion for, and we feel like we have the most story juice behind,” he told BuzzFeed News.
Ansari, Master of None’s star and co-showrunner, echoed that sentiment. “We only had 10 episodes and we kind of just write to the stories and bring in the characters as we need them,” he said. While that translated to a deeper look at Arnold and Denise in the “Le Nozze” and “Thanksgiving” episodes respectively, there weren’t any scenes with all four friends that made the cut.
There aren’t any hard feelings though. “Aziz and I are good friends for life,” Wareheim said. “We travel the world together, we did a lot of stuff in Italy, and we filmed it, so it’s kind of this cool time capsule of us.” (Though he agreed that his scenes could use more Paro.)
Waithe too embraced the change and the opportunity to bring attention to Denise. “I think that’s what Aziz and Alan always say, they don’t want to be boxed in. They’re not like, ‘Oh, now we have to do a group shot,’” she said. “They don’t want to be conventional in any way, so it’s like, you kind of want to give the audience, not what they’re expecting, but what they don’t expect as well.”
Yu, who had the least screen time this season, noted that “what’s so special about this show is it’s sort of like a cooking show: From episode to episode, you don’t know what you’re going to get. Like one episode is about gay rights, the next episode is about cupcakes. So they wanted to tackle a whole suite of issues as well as love stories and all that, and it’s a crowded world.”
BuzzFeed News asked Yang and Yu if they could see Season 3 (if they’re renewed) shifting the focus more toward Brian, as opposed to Dev. While Yang could only say “anything is possible and we won’t rule anything out,” Yu added: “It’d be great. I mean, we need it. We need that kind of thing and I think audiences are hungry for characters and worlds that they’re not used to so yeah, who knows!”
This time, it isn’t Rod who comes to Chris’ rescue in the police car: It’s two white cops. They immediately arrest him, no questions asked at all.
Then Rod, who seems to be doing everything in his power to help Chris get out of jail, goes to visit him. But it seems Chris can’t remember the important details of what transpired in order to prove he acted in self-defense.
In a particularly poignant moment, both Rod and Chris know that it will be impossible for them to show that Chris wasn’t at fault and he hangs up the phone, accepting his fate. The clip then ends with Chris being escorted back to his cell, accused of something he technically shouldn’t be locked up for.
Set 10 years before the events of the original Star Trek TV series, Discovery was likely to tantalize fans with its references to past (or, uh, future) Trek history. The biggest nod in this trailer is Sarek (James Frain), a Vulcan ambassador and the father of Trek’s most indelible character, Spock.
Sarek appears multiple times in the trailer, speaking ominously to Burnham about “great unifiers” needing “a profound cause.” He seems to be a mentor of some sort to her. Their most curious exchange even suggests that he’s known her since she was a child, with a young Burnham wearing a classic Vulcan haircut, and Sarek telling her that she will “never learn Vulcan” because her “tongue is too human.”
So does this mean Burnham is at least part-Vulcan? Sarek sired Spock with a human mother — perhaps her parentage is similar? Spock never had a sister within Trek canon, but perhaps she’s his cousin?
[Raises single eyebrow] Intriguing.
According to CBS, Michelle Yeoh’s character, Captain Philippa Georgiou, commands the USS Shenzhou. But Burnham is supposed to be the first officer on the show’s namesake, the USS Discovery, captained by Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs).
So, where is it? The trailer ends with the Shenzhou engaging the Klingons. Perhaps that encounter does not go very well?
After the series premiere airs on CBS, Discovery will appear exclusively in the US on the network’s streaming service, CBS All Access. (In Canada, it will appear on Bell Media, and in the rest of the world, the show will air on Netflix.)
In order to make CBS All Access compete with the big streaming services, CBS plainly needs Discovery to pull in the millions of Star Trek fans who faithfully watched the many Trek TV shows during the franchise’s heyday in the 1990s. The $5.99 per month service features about 12 minutes of ads an hour, and an ad-free version costs $9.99 per month — not a small amount of money to ask fans to pay for a single TV show.
And based on the copious, feature-film-quality visual effects in this trailer, it would appear CBS is willing to spend a lot of money to convince those fans to spend theirs.
In Aug. 2016, in his capacity as Discovery’s showrunner and executive producer, Bryan Fuller told reporters that the show was set in the “Prime” Trek universe. Which is to say, it is not a part of the alternate universe of Paramount’s recent Star Trek movies starring Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto.
But then Fuller left the show to focus on his commitments to the Starz series American Gods. He still has an executive producer credit, and he did write the scripts for the show’s first two episodes, but in December he told Newsweek that he was not involved in the show’s production at all.
Meanwhile, the Trek aesthetic most evoked by Discovery’s trailer is indeed from the recent movie reboots — including swooping camera moves, sleeker uniforms and ship design, and all those lens flares made (in)famous by director JJ Abrams. (Alex Kurtzman, who co-wrote the first two of the Trek reboot movies, also serves an executive producer on Discovery.) Even if the show does remain in the classic Trek TV universe, its visual inspiration is clearly not drawn from the endearingly cheap design of those shows.
The Klingons will play a key role in Discovery, likely centering on the efforts of T’Kuvma (Chris Obi, pictured), who is described by CBS as “the Klingon leader seeking to unite the Klingon houses.”
But based on the trailer, the Klingons have gone through a rather extreme makeover.
@skylatron @StarTrek new look –who dis?! lol
— Jamar Edoho 🕴🏾 (@QuestLvLAwesome)
No, seriously, WHAT ARE THEY???
I love Trek, and I loved it.
I don’t like Trek, and I loved it.
I love Trek, and I didn’t like it.
I don’t like Trek, and I didn’t like it.
I’m just meh on all of it.