Reports revealed earlier this week that when Ben Affleck appeared last year on Henry Louis Gates's Find Your Roots for PBS, the newest Batman actor tried to mask the fact that he's a descendent of slave owners. Affleck weighed in on the allegations Tuesday on his Facebook page, writing that he was "embarrassed. The very thought left a bad taste in my mouth." While he lobbied to have those particular ancestors excluded from the show, now he says he's happy his story is contributing to our discussion of the "terrible legacy of slavery." Basically, he had the Anderson Cooper/Ken Burns reaction he probably should have had initially.
Treat yo’ self to some potentially amazing news: Aziz Ansari is teaming with Parks and Recreation writer Alan Yang for a half-hour Netflix comedy series starring Ansari, Archer voice H. Jon Benjamin and Tim and Eric’s Eric Wareheim. Vulture hears the streaming giant has ordered 10 episodes of the series, which will film in New York and will be exec produced by Ansari, Yang and Parks co-creator Michael Schur (along Dave Becky and David Miner.) In addition to Ansari, Benjamin and Wareheim, the show’s cast also includes former SNL regular Noel Wells, Lena Waithe (The Comeback) and Kelvin Yu (Popular). The project has been in the works for months now, but Netflix is only now confirming its existence. Our sources say writers have been working on the project for some time now, though Netflix and Ansari aren’t talking about plot details. Honestly, though, what the show is about seems less important than the fact that this many talented folks are being assembled on one show… not to set expectations too high or anything.
Netflix loves comic-book franchises as much as the next content purveyor, so it's no surprise that a second season of Marvel's Daredevil is coming in 2016. The second chapter, following a mostly critically successful first season, will see new showrunners in Doug Petrie (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and American Horror Story fame) and Marco Ramirez (Sons of Anarchy). Though Steven DeKnight won't participate much next year because of previous commitments, series creator Drew Goddard will stay onboard as an EP. Despite the shift, don't worry, you can expect more punches, pain, and — yeah — probably law. All dark and gritty, of course.
Can we please get this straight, Broadway? Sprawling European novels do not make great musicals. Sorry, Les Miz partisans and Phantomaniacs, but whatever the virtues of those shows — and they are probably the best of the genre — they are mere patches on the originals. How could they not be? When you’re adapting a doorstop saga for the stage you’re obviously going to be making huge cuts. Usually this will mean excising the poetry, philosophy, and psychology in order to preserve a series of action highlights that will then stick out like angry pimples. The result is usually more of a medley than a narrative — Don Quixote’s greatest hits! — and thus unsuited to the musical’s work of grounding song in character and situation. Indeed, when New York convened a panel to come up with a list of the greatest musicals ever, not one of the top ten was based on a thick slab of fiction by Hugo or Stevenson or Cervantes or Tolstoy or Dumas or Dickens or Du Maurier. (Only two were based on novels at all, and both were American.) Original tales, or small-scale works like plays and short stories, generally produce more successful results, and give the librettist something better to do than rip out pages and jimmy the segues.
Daredevil sometimes feels like two shows – the gritty, dark superhero story with a surprisingly emotional heart, and a really boring law drama. The latter has only really slipped in the past few episodes, but it’s a far fall; after the suspense and crackle of Wilson and Matt’s backstories and action, Karen and Foggy and Urich feel more than a little foolish in their endeavors. But when Elena is killed in connection with their case – a case they’ve connected directly to Wilson Fisk – it demonstrates a serious dissonance between Matt’s two worlds. Matt’s inner knowledge of Wilson Fisk isolates him more and more. You can actually feel him recede from them when Foggy and Karen mourn Elena in the bar.
You’ll Be Able to Buy a BB-8 Toy for Christmas, Because Disney Is Not About to Turn Down Truckloads of MoneyBy Nate Jones
The people demand a BB-8 to call their own and Disney will quite happily sell it to them. The Times has the rundown on the studio's attempts to create a freewheeling BB-8 toy for the droid's new legions of fans — a harder task than it might seem, as the robot in the movie was pushed around by a crew member. According to the Times, Disney's solution was to team with Sphero, the company whose smartphone-controlled ball forms the basis of that BB-8 replica that went viral this week. Sphero's BB-8 will be about the size of "a large Granny Smith apple" and be in stores in time for Christmas, but the company is keeping mum on pricing, as well as how exactly the thing works. If you want one, consider signing up for the mailing list here. As Han Solo always said, hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for an adorable soccer-robot in your hands.
Every week, members of the Vulture staff highlight the best new music of 2015. We do not discriminate; as long as the song is worthy of your ears and attention, you will find it here. Read our picks below, share yours in the comments, and subscribe to the Vulture 2015 Playlist for a comprehensive guide to the year's best new tunes.
Ryan Adams, “Oh Sweet Carolina” (live from Carnegie Hall)
I practically cried when I heard that Ryan Adams was planning to release a forty-two track album of his two performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall. This is because I know that best Ryan Adams is the one on stage, all vulnerable, bantering about beating the final level in Angry Birds and then segueing right into “My Sweet Carolina.” Go pick him up. (Just making that reference caused tears.) — Lindsey Weber (@LindseyWeber)
When you're Rihanna, 4/20 is every day. So it's possible she just lost track of time — ransacking a Duane Reade for snacks when you have the munchies is time-consuming — and forgot to drop her new weed-themed song on the actual national day of ganja. Whatever the reason, it's here today, and while it's merely a brief mellowed-out, R&B-flavored interlude called "James Joint" from her upcoming album, it'll have to do until we finally get our hands on R8. We'd rather be smoking weed with you, too, RiRi.
By Grabthar's hammer, Galaxy Quest is the next '90s cult classic to get the reboot treatment. According to Deadline, Paramount is trying to revive the 1999 sci-fi parody as a TV series, with director Dean Parisot and writer Robert Gordon attached as producers. It's great news for the film's legions of fans, who last month launched an online petition to get the original film's stars to reunite for a Galaxy Quest convention, where they will undoubtedly be kidnapped by aliens who think they're actually out-of-work television actors.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Mortdecai's Ewan McGregor is set to sign on to play Lumière, the anthropomorphic candlestick previously voiced by Jerry Orbach, in Disney's upcoming live-action Beauty and the Beast remake. He joins Emma Watson as Belle, Dan Stevens as the Beast, Luke Evans as Gaston, Ian McKellen as Cogsworth, and Emma Thompson as Mrs. Potts. It's unclear how much of McGregor, and the other actors who are portraying housewares, will appear in the film, but given his character's unique physiology, this is the one role where McGregor is unlikely to show his penis.
Leslye Headland grabs the remote and rewinds. "Wait, something is really interesting here," she says, "because I think they may have used the F-word. It’s huge!" We're watching the beloved yet divisive 1997 rom-com classic My Best Friend’s Wedding, and Headland is right: Julia Roberts (as lovelorn protagonist Julianne) dropped the expletive while explaining why her friend George (Rupert Everett) — now posing as her fiancé — has swooped down to accompany her to the big wedding. “He just came in for a few hours," said Julianne, "to, uh, fuck me.” We scream. What we have here is not just an F-bomb, but the kind that implies actual sex.
Things are coming up Valiant: After announcing an eight-figure equity investment from Chinese company DMG Entertainment (which co-produced Iron Man 3), The Hollywood Reporter reports the recently reinvigorated Valiant Comics has announced a five-picture deal with Sony to bring two of its most popular titles, Bloodshot and Harbinger, to film, beginning in 2017. Eric Heisserer will write both titles, working with Kick-Ass 2's Jeff Wadlow on Bloodshot. John Wick's David Leitch and Chad Stahelski will helm Bloodshot, whereas a director hasn't been announced yet for Harbinger. Now the big question is whether Valiant can really break the Marvel-DC stranglehold and make this a three-party race.
As an interview subject, Christopher Nolan is an expert diplomat: He’s great at sounding forthright while not saying anything particularly revealing. But, holding forth on his career in an hour-long conversation with Foxcatcher director Bennett Miller at the Tribeca Film Festival last night, the Dark Knight and Inception director did open up at a couple of points. Maybe it was the fact that he was talking shop with a fellow filmmaker, but Nolan seemed refreshingly reflective, particularly as he discussed some of the opportunities he’d been given in his career.
Pretty soon Whitney Cummings will be back on your TV screens: Deadline reports HBO has ordered a pilot for a comedy starring Cummings based on Maureen Dowd's controversial 2005 book Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide, as well as a stand-up special set to air next year. The show is being described as a relationship comedy about "modern relationships that focuses on human nature and social construction using documentary elements and appearances from experts to help the characters understand the biological basis of their behavior." Sounds a hell of a lot like Aziz Ansari's new book — probably with tons of dick jokes. Yay?
1970s tennis is soon going to have a Capote situation of its very own: According to Deadline, Emma Stone and Steve Carell have signed on to play Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in a Battle of the Sexes biopic for Fox Searchlight. That's not to be confused with HBO's own movie about King and Riggs, which will star Elizabeth Banks and Paul Giamatti, or the upcoming comedy Match Maker, which will star Will Ferrell and a woman to be named later. How do you want your Bobby Riggs, America — affably off-kilter, sweatily grotesque, or shirtlessly silly?
There’s a concept in poker known as being “pot committed”: basically, reaching a point at which you have so much money invested in a pot that you feel like you have to stay in a hand to the end. (The concept, when properly applied, further involves things like pot odds — essentially, the payout you can expect versus the assumed odds of winning the hand — which we won’t bother with here.) Imagine you’ve already bet $100 on a hand, and the next bet to stay in is $10: You might reasonably tell yourself, Well, I’ve already spent $100, I might as well spend another $10. Many poker experts and most economists will tell you that thinking about being “pot committed” in this way is a fallacy. Your odds of winning don’t change whether you have $10 or $110 in the pot. You have to consider each new bet against the presumed odds of winning or losing. And you should think of the $100 you’ve already spent as being already gone.
When Courtney Love gave director Brett Morgen, who was known for his sharply focused documentaries like The Kid Stays in the Picture, access to a storage room full of Kurt Cobain memorabilia to use as raw source material for his new documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, she told him he could do whatever he wanted with what he found; she didn't want to micromanage and hadn't been through the material herself. "I trusted him," she told a crowd after a recent screening during the Tribeca Film Festival. To Morgen's delight, tucked away in the storage facility was a box of unheard cassette tapes recorded by Cobain, including the 1988 sound collage he titled Montage of Heck. Morgen's one instruction from Love and executive producer Frances Bean Cobain was to humanize the son, brother, husband, and father who unwittingly became the voice of a generation. As one of the most mythologized figures in rock and roll, he says, it was not easy. Morgen set about his work by using the wealth of original art, diaries, home movies, cassette tapes, and other materials found in the storage facility as guide posts for what he describes as a "family origin story." It starts with Cobain's childhood in Aberdeen, Washington, and ends abruptly on the eve of his suicide in 1994.
Morgen has been working on Montage (at the Tribeca Film Festival this week, in theaters April 24, and coming to HBO May 4) since 2007. During that time, a protracted legal battle between Love and her daughter kept the film in limbo. "There was a tsunami of shit in between," said Love. "I caused most of it, but it's all smooth now." After he screened the film for the two of them for the first time, Morgen says he went into a bathroom and wept for 25 minutes. "It had to do with the fact that from that moment on, I was going to be drifting away from Kurt," he confesses. "That for years, he was the central focus of my work, and I felt like I spent more time with him than anyone outside of my immediate family." Vulture spoke with Morgen while he was in Amsterdam during the final night of a European promotional tour and on his way back to New York for the film's U.S. release, about making the documentary, developing an intimate relationship with Kurt, and the film's reception.
This weekend, Conan writer Andrés du Bouchet went on his Matt Albie high horse about the current state of late-night comedy, taking aim at the "games and lip-syncing and nostalgia and karaoke" that increasingly fill the airwaves after 11:30. As if on cue, Monday night brought James Corden with a perfect example of what du Bouchet was talking about. Alongside celebrity guests Tony Hale, Rosario Dawson, and Sharon Osbourne, Corden turned his Late Late Show audience into a giant game of Guess Who, and ... well, that was basically it. No jokes, just four minutes of famous people playing a childhood game. But guess what — it was pretty great, a charming, inventive idea that takes just as much creativity as a solid monologue punch line.