Hiring Pete Davidson seems to have worked out for Saturday Night Live last year, so now the late-night show has recruited yet another young stand-up who probably cannot remember the O.J. Simpson trial: SNL's latest featured player is 25-year-old comedian Jon Rudnitsky, a USC alum and the winner of the Laugh Factory's college comedy competition all the way back in 2012. Here's his winning routine, which features a memorable bit about his brother's huge dick:
Despite his chiseled chest and absurd abs and bionic biceps and generally jocular demeanor, Zac Efron didn't make many friends at the box office this weekend, as We Are Your Friends, also known as the Zac Efron DJ Movie, had the fourth-worst wide release opening in history. It made a piddling $1.8 million, which is worse than Eddie Murphy's notorious flop The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Maybe We Are Your Friends should go eat a can of worms. Meanwhile, Minions, a movie about little yellow creatures that babble unintelligibly, crossed the $1 billion mark worldwide.
The Richard Pryor biopic has been gestating for a long time. Director of 48 Hours Walter Hill was set to co-write and direct the movie back in 2005, when Pryor was still alive. Mike Epps gave a killer audition and won Pryor's approval. Pryor died shortly thereafter, and the movie went stagnant. Then Epps was supposed to play Pryor in a Nina Simone biopic that's had so many problems it might as well be cursed. Now the Pryor film has finally been green-lit, Deadline reports. Lee Daniels is at the helm, filming a script by Bill Condon and Empire collaborator Danny Strong. The cast is stellar: Oprah Winfrey will play Pryor’s grandmother, Eddie Murphy Pryor’s father, and Kate Hudson Pryor’s widow. Pryor, the man who once said, “I’m not a movie star, I’m a booty star,” will still be portrayed by Epps, ten years after he initially won the role. Marlon Wayans briefly had the role when Condon was slated to direct and Adam Sandler was slated to produce, but that didn't work out. (Imagine a Richard Pryor movie produced by Adam Sandler. That'd be like a Beatles biopic produced by Nickelback.)
Michelle Pfeiffer has signed up to join Robert De Niro for HBO Films' long-awaited Bernie Madoff movie, Wizard of Lies, the network announced Thursday. The project, which saw some initial buzz in 2011, has been moving at a glacial pace, but the addition of Pfeiffer is a welcome sign things are finally picking up. Pfeiffer will play De Niro's onscreen wife, Ruth Madoff, and they'll be joined by Alessandro Nivola, who will take a turn as Madoff's older son, Mark. (That is what you call picture-perfect casting — even before all the makeup!) The story follows Madoff's infamous Ponzi scheme; Barry Levinson will direct, based on Diana Henriques's book of the same name, as well as Laurie Sandell's Truth and Consequences. Sam Baum, Sam Levinson, and John Burnham Schwartz are attached as writers for the script. Other production details, most notably with regard to timeline, are unavailable at the moment. Like everyone, De Niro & Co. are probably just hoping this thing gets made before Madoff gets out of jail — which, I guess, would be sometime in 2159. Fingers crossed.
Jon Hamm Might Star in the Sci-Fi Dramedy Marjorie Prime Because He Is Feeling Adventurous Enough to Be a HologramBy Sean Fitz-Gerald
After spending several years in the 1960s playing Don Draper (and not taking home any hardware yet), Jon Hamm is kind of like, Well, I guess I could maybe play a hologram? Sure, why not? Deadline reports that the actor is in talks to co-star in an adaptation of the sci-fi dramedy Marjorie Prime, the story of an ailing violinist enduring the rest of her existence in an assisted-living facility with a therapeutic, holographic companion. The holograms from the original play, which was written by Jordan Harrison and was a 2015 Pulitzer finalist, take the form of predeceased loved ones. Hamm would reportedly play (if the movie is to be anything like the source material) the hologram of the titular Marjorie's husband — but probably in his 30s or 40s — there to either revisit or rewrite memories with her, so as to prevent her mind from atrophying before death.
Here’s one big mystery that won’t be resolved by the season-one finale of Mr. Robot, set to air next Wednesday: How in Monk’s name did a show so complex, twisted — and critically acclaimed — end up on USA Network? The cable giant has been cranking out summer hits for more than a decade, but starting with the aforementioned Tony Shalhoub vehicle and continuing with series such as Psych, Covert Affairs, and the still-chugging Royal Pains, those successes have mostly been popcorn procedurals, the video equivalent of beach reading. Mr. Robot, by contrast, may be TV’s most beautifully byzantine mystery-thriller since the first season of Lost, a show that encourages its audience to debate subtext and obsess over detail. It’s all very much off-brand for USA, and as execs at the network see it, that is exactly the point.
Less than a week after it was announced Shondaland was developing a comedy for ABC, Variety reports that Shonda Rhimes's production company will also be working on a religious drama for the network. The 60-minute project, which comes from scribe and executive producer Alison Schapker (Fringe, Lost), has no title yet, but it will focus on an ensemble of Catholic nuns that have to keep sketchy secrets and contest the closing of their Bronx convent. (Think Desperate Housewives meets Jesus meets Up, maybe.) Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers will also reportedly executive-produce. No other details were immediately available — aside from the fact that Shondaland is officially on a roll this season.
Don’t Worry — You Will Get to Go Back to the Xander Zone Because Vin Diesel Has Confirmed Another xXx MovieBy Sean Fitz-Gerald
Your days of missing Xander Cage are almost over because Vin Diesel has just announced that he's really getting ready to do his third xXx movie. (Production, even! It has been rumored for years.) Diesel revealed the news on his Instagram, with a snazzy pic of him punching a couch, without even looking. (Xander Zone, here we come!) The caption reads, "While I was filming XXX, guys on set called me Air Diesel... The time to return has come. Filming starts December in the Philippines." Then he hashtagged the pic with #ILiveForThisShit because he is Vin Diesel and someone has to do it. Plot and personnel details for the third xXx, which may or may not be titled The Return of Xander Cage, are unknown at the moment. Vin Diesel notably skipped the first sequel, xXx: State of the Union; however, he created an onscreen legend with the 2002 original, one long overdue for a comeback.
Katherine Heigl will attempt another stab at TV with a starring role in a pilot for CBS's Doubt. TheWrap reports that Heigl will play a defense attorney named Sadie, who "becomes romantically involved with one of her clients charged with a violent crime." KaDee Strickland was reportedly attached as the show's original star, but Heigl will replace her in a reworked script fashioned by Grey's Anatomy's Tony Phelan and Joan Rater, and directed by Adam Bernstein. Other initial castings — including Laverne Cox, Elliott Gould, Dulé Hill, and Dreama Walker — will remain intact, according to the trade, and Phelan, Rater, Bernstein, Carl Beverly, and Sarah Timberman will be executive producers. Heigl's last starring TV role was in NBC's State of Affairs, which was canceled after its first season in May. If this shot doesn't work out, no word yet whether Katherine intends to say "bye-gl" to television.
The Wrap reports that Forest Whitaker will take his first turn on a Broadway stage as one of the stars in Hughie, a revival of a two-character Eugene O'Neill drama. In the short play, according to the trade, the Oscar-winning actor will appear as Erie Smith, a hustler who lives in a midtown New York hotel and tells stories of the deceased, titular Hughie and his glory days. (In other words, it's kind of like A Long, Glorified, But Very Good Monologue Starring Forest Whitaker and Friend/Talented Listener.) Michael Grandage is reportedly set to direct the production, which will debut next spring at the Schubert Theatre. The other role has not yet been cast.
N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton held on to the top spot at the domestic box office, making $26.7 million in its second week. This is the 13th time Universal Studios has won the weekend box office in 2015. Compton has made $111.4 million in two weeks. Meanwhile, remaining in second place for the second straight week is Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, making $11.7 million for a total of $157.7 million. Tom Cruise has proven that he's deft at holding on to stuff — planes, trains, automobiles, rocks — so it should be no surprise that he's managed to cling to the top two for four straight weeks.
ABC and Marvel are pursuing an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.–related project that would focus on Adrianne Palicki's Mockingbird and Nick Blood's Lance Hunter, Variety reports. The network has ordered a pilot from the potential series, titled Marvel's Most Wanted, and hopes to fashion a story that's less a spinoff and more a stand-alone. Plot and logistical details are slim, but the trades note there's a possibility the show could bow as a backdoor pilot in the forthcoming season of S.H.I.E.L.D. just in case. That episode and (maybe) ensuing series would solely follow Mockingbird and Lance Hunter's espionage adventures. (If only Riggins could see Tyra now.) S.H.I.E.L.D. producers Jeff Bell and Paul Zbyszewski co-created Most Wanted and co-wrote the pilot; they'll also be showrunners and, along with Jeph Loeb, executive producers if the show gets picked up.
Hulu has called dibs on a half-hour sci-fi comedy pilot coming from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, The Hollywood Reporter writes. Titled Future Man, the show, according to the trade, would involve a janitor who moonlights as a world-ranked video-gamer "tasked with preventing the extinction of humans after mysterious visitors from the future declare him to be the key to defeating the imminent super-race invasion" — so, imagine Pixels and Good Will Hunting came together and had a baby for a streaming service. Interesting. Deadline adds that the pilot was originally constructed as a feature script a few years ago, but was tweaked after further consideration. Rogen and Goldberg will produce and direct the project, which was written by Kyle Hunter and Ariel Shaffir (The Interview, This Is the End).
Deadline reports that James Foley is the top choice to direct Fifty Shades Darker, set to come out February 10, 2017. He would replace Sam Taylor-Johnson, the helmer of the first film, who notably fought the books' author, E.L. James, for creative control. Foley comes with an impressive résumé that began with such films as At Close Range and Glengarry Glen Ross, and lately includes TV episodes of House of Cards and Hannibal. (He's also the guy behind this iconic, potentially career-foreshadowing, wild roller-coaster scene in 1996's Fear.) Foley would potentially join returning stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, and work off a script penned by Niall Leonard, James's husband, also a new addition. Deadline forecasts Foley will probably stay on for the final film, Fifty Shades Freed — as long as everybody plays nicely. Well, not too nicely.
The Hollywood Reporter writes that Dwayne Johnson is set to star in an untitled Disney movie based on its Jungle Cruise safari ride — punny jokes likely included. (The last ride-to-film project Disney did in such a way was Pirates of the Caribbean.) Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were reportedly set as prior stars, because the on-again-off-again project has been marinating since at least 2004. After all that time, plot details are still unknown, but the film will be a period piece — which period is also unspecified, but THR hints it might be reminiscent of 1951's African Queen. John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Focus) are working on a script that sounds like it has a lot of room to do virtually anything, so long as it involves Johnson, a boat, and animals. Will we get Tooth Fairy Dwayne? San Andreas Dwayne? A little bit of both? Will the movie be like Jurassic Park, sans dinosaurs? Or Apocalypse Now, sans war? Or will it be more like Hi, I'm Indiana Jones's Friend Who Is Not Indiana Jones, and I Am on a Boat for the Day, Coincidentally to Save the Day? That's all unfortunately unclear at the moment.
Television is all grown up! Like Matthew McConaughey and Scarlett Johansson before her, Anne Hathaway will star in a limited TV series titled The Ambassador's Wife, based on the novel of the same name published less than a month ago. The Mark Gordon Company, which currently produces such shows as Ray Donovan and Grey's Anatomy, will finance and produce the adaptation of Jennifer Steil's book, which tells the story of a woman named Miranda, the wife of a diplomat, who's kidnapped in a fictional Middle Eastern country called Mazrooq. There's no network attached yet, but you best believe broadcasters will be clamoring for a TV series starring an Oscar winner at the height of her powers. If you think this will move her one step closer to her eventual EGOT, you're wrong! She already has an Emmy for a Simpsons voice-over performance, but she can always starting thinking about a double EGOT.
As Tracking Board first reported and The Wrap confirmed, Jennifer Hudson is in talks to star in an Aretha Franklin biopic from Straight Outta Compton producer Scott Bernstein. The biopic, which has Franklin's approval, would focus in equal parts on her singing career and her marriage to abusive manager Ted White. In 2012, Franklin told Glamour her main concern with the film was accuracy: "Let's present the facts and be as creative as possible with them." (She also said she wanted Denzel Washington or Billy Dee Williams to play her father.) Hudson has long been rumored as the possible star of a Franklin biopic; she auditioned for American Idol with a version of Franklin's "Share Your Love With Me," and performed "Baby, I Love You" during Idol's Soul Week. Meanwhile, Paul McDonald's Rod Stewart biopic still languishes in development hell.
Recall: Fox is rebooting The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen at some point. Because of how the 2003 movie went, this news might've been met with some skepticism. Collider interviewed producer John Davis at TCA, however, and discovered that the new film franchise might come with a welcome change: It will actually be fewer gentlemen and more gentlewomen. In part of their discussion, Davis acknowledged that the original movie didn't fare well. How to make this work, then? "Just by going back to the roots and making it authentic to what the fan base was really excited about," Davis said. "It's female-centric, which I think is interesting. I love female characters, point-of-view characters in action movies. I thought Mad Max was great. I think you can always find a fresh way of doing something and going back to the basics." Collider goes on to note that the source material is actually a little short on female characters — so maybe we'll get to see an Ellen Quartermain, more non-male literary characters, or some brand-new Victorian-style additions? Regardless, more badass, steampunk-y movies (that could be) inspired by Fury Road sounds divine.
What do you do when you no longer have The Office? You add in some superheroes! NBC has ordered Ben Queen's (of the short-lived A to Z) pilot for Powerless, a workplace comedy featuring characters from the DC Comics universe at "one of the worst insurance companies" in the U.S. Deadline reports that DC tentpoles such as Batman and Superman likely won't be main characters. Instead it'll be regular, white-collar workers like you and me who argue endlessly with Superman about his insurance premiums. Hope you loved the first act of The Incredibles!
- Culture Editor
- Lane Brown
- Editorial Director
- Neil Janowitz
- West Coast Editor
- Josef Adalian
- Senior Editor
- Kyle Buchanan
- Senior Editor
- Jesse David Fox
- Senior Editor
- Gazelle Emami
- Senior Editor
- Jillian Mapes
- TV Columnist
- Margaret Lyons
- Associate Editor
- Lauretta Charlton
- Associate Editor
- Nate Jones
- Associate Editor
- Dee Lockett
- Associate Editor
- E. Alex Jung