Entertainment News: Queen’s Gambit, WandaVision, In & Of Itself, and more

Before we get onto our usual entertainment news here are a couple of mini reviews.

First of all the new Myaima Biaslik sitcom “Call Me Kat” didn’t get any better in subsequent episodes so you can cross that one off your list. The new Ted Danson sitcom “Mr. Mayor” has nothing going for it either. We will rate it “Skip It”.

This past week I binged the Netflix series “The Queen’s Gambit”, the fictional account of a young chess prodigy growing up in the 60s. It’s been a big hit miniseries that many people have binged during the pandemic. I can tell you that it is everything good that you may have already heard about it. One of the best acted, written, directed miniseries I’ve seen in a long time. Don’t be turned off by the chess theme. You don’t really need to know anything about the game to appreciate the story of this orphan who struggles with her genius, fears of mental illness like her mother’s, drug and alcohol addiction, and a passion to be the best in a male dominated world. The show actually brought me to tears at one point which is pretty hard to do these days. I tend to be somewhat cynical about drama. One of the amazing things I liked about it is that there is not a lot of explanation of what is going on during the chess matches. You just figure it out by looking at the actors faces. If you’ve not seen it yet, it is HIGHLY recommended.

The other recommendation this week is a documentary/filmed stage performance called “In & Of Itself”. Storyteller and conceptual magician Derek DelGaudio performed this show for over 500 performances off-Broadway in New York. It’s sort of a one man show reflection on the nature of self and identity mixed with some amazing sleight-of-hand magic tricks. I’ve heard great things about the show when it played live and was happy to see they finally put it on film. Directed by Frank Oz this film combines footage from several performances. In one sequence he picks a volunteer from the audience to read a sort of love letter written to a father, mother, son, daughter, or friend by some stranger and asked them to read it silently as if it were written to them. Watching the emotions play across their face and seeing many of them moved to tears is a very powerful experience. Because they intercut several performances of the show we get to see their reaction of more than one person to this experience. This is a deeply personal and moving reflection by the performer about his own life growing up with a lesbian mother and his own struggles with understanding himself apart from others expectations of who he is. I have to say that hearing of the rave reviews of the live performance I was a tiny bit disappointed but I can imagine how seeing this live in a small theater with perhaps 100 or so other people would be a much more intimate experience than watching at home on Hulu. It remains however a thought-provoking and worthwhile experience that I suggest you check out.

We’ve also seen the first three episodes of the new Disney+ Marvel series “WandaVision”. The Marvel superheroes Wanda and Vision are living as a married couple in some sort of alternate reality that Wanda has created for them. She is the living embodiment of the “reality stone” in the MCU and can remake reality around herself in any way she wants. Each episode is modeled after classic TV sitcoms from different eras. The first episode draws heavily on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “I Love Lucy”. Episode 2 resembles “Bewitched”. These first two shot in black-and-white and the first episode was actually shot before a live studio audience. Episode three as hints of “The Brady Bunch” and “Mary Tyler Moore Show” and is in color. It’s keeping diehard Marvel fans looking for clues as to what’s really going on. Probably not a show for everyone except diehard Marvel fans unless you want to relive the bygone era of classic sitcoms.

Renewals, Coming Soon, and Casting News

  • A third “Deadpool” movie is coming and it will be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
  • Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will guest star as a temporary host of Jeopardy. Other upcoming homes include Katie Couric, Bill Whitaker, and Mayim Bialik
  • Stephen Weber will have a new recurring role on Chicago:Med
  • HBO comedy series “Insecure” will end after its upcoming fifth season.
  • TNT have renewed “Animal Kingdom” for a sixth final season.
  • All five seasons of the original “The Muppet Show” will still be available on Disney+
  • The reboot of “Saved by the Bell” has been renewed for season 2 on Peacock
  • Tyler Perry’s series “Sistas” had been renewed for season 3 at BET
  • Warner Bros. is producing a Willy Wonka prequel film slated for 2023 release.
  • “Snowpiercer” has been renewed for season 3 at TNT before season 2 has premiered.
  • Netflix has announced that “Bridgerton” has been renewed for season 2 and will be based on Book 2 of the series. My roommate Barbara just finished binging season 1 and gives it high marks.
  • AMC announced “Eli Roth’s History of Horror” has been renewed for season 3
  • Tom Brokaw is retiring from NBC news after 55 years with the network.
  • Food Network has pulled all content for season 20 of “Worst Cooks in America” after the arrest of season 20 winner for the murder of their adopted three-year-old daughter. I guess they really were the worst in America.

Politics and Showbiz

  • SAG-AFTRA the union for movie and television workers is meeting in special session to consider revoking Donald Trump’s membership.

Miscellaneous News

  • CBS All Access will change its name to Paramount+ on March 4
  • Among this year’s Kennedy Center Honorees are Dick Van Dyke and Debbie Allen
  • Netflix now reveals they have over 200 million global subscribers.
  • NBCSN sports network will close by the end of the year with live sports being moved to either USA Network or Peacock both owned by NBC/Universal.

In Memoriam

  • Legendary interviewer Larry King. Age 87.
  • Hank Aaron baseball legend who broke Babe Ruth homerun record age 86
  • Mira Furlan who played Minbari Ambassador Delenn on the sci-fi drama “Babylon 5” and also appeared in “Lost”. Age 65. No cause of death was given but she was known to be in failing health for some time.
  • Phil Spector famous music producer who was convicted of murder. Age 81. Covid.
  • Angie Jakusz a popular contestant on “Survivor: Palau” age 40 of cancer.
  • Pilar Schneider mother of comedian Rob Schneider who appeared in several of his films. Age 91.
  • Siegfried Fishbacher of the famous team Siegfried & Roy. Age 81
  • Joanne Rogers wife of Fred Rogers. Age 92
  • David Richardson writer producer for “The Simpsons”, “Two and a Half Men” and other shows. Age 65. Heart failure
  • Richard Lindheim co-creator of the 80s series “The Equalizer” and Executive Producer of the upcoming reboot. Age 81
  • Remy Julienne famous stunt coordinator and expert stunt driver for James Bond and other films. Age 90. Covid.
  • Gregory Sierra character actor who appeared in “Sanford and Son” and “Barney Miller”. Age 83.
  • Walter Bernstein a blacklisted writer who was banished from Hollywood in the 1950s but returned to write such films as “Fail Safe” and “The Front”. Age 101
  • Perry Botkin Jr. Oscar-nominated and Grammy-winning composer known for the theme from “The Young and the Restless” a.k.a. “Nadia’s Theme” age 87

Links of Interest

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