The teaser for the upcoming Starz series Gaslit is here. Gaslit stars the incomparable Julia Roberts as Martha Mitchell, the outspoken wife of Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell. Inspired by Leon Neyfakh’s podcast Slow Burn, Gaslit tells the story of Martha’s attempts to raise alarm bells over the Watergate scandal – and the lengths to which Nixon and his henchmen would go to silence and discredit her. The supporting cast, featuring folks like Betty Gilpin, Shea Wigham, Allison Tolman, Chris Messina, Hamish Linklater and Anne Dudek, is wonderful. No doubt, though, the main event will be Roberts in a rare television appearance. Her Martha Mitchell looks like an absolute boss. If I can get past Sean Penn’s astonishingly awful makeup (if I can just get past Sean Penn, period), Gaslit looks like it could be a fun romp.
Hubby and I started watching Amazon’s Reacher and Hulu’s Pam & Tommy this past weekend. Based on Lee Child’s debut novel, 1997’s Killing Floor, Reacher is big, bone-crunching fun. Alan Ritchson is affable and charming (not to mention buff in an “I can’t believe he’s not CGI” kind of way) as the titular military police major turned knight errant. The supporting cast is solid and the storyline is engaging enough, if a little unoriginal. I’ve never read any of the books, nor have I seen either of the Tom Cruise movies, but Reacher feels like a good introduction to the character. Pam & Tommy is wildly entertaining. The story of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee’s whirlwind romance, which culminated in a beach wedding four days after they met – and a honeymoon sex tape – Pam & Tommy stars Lily James and Sebastian Stan as the pair, as well as Seth Rogen and Nick Offerman as the men who release the sex tape to the internet. It’s a pulpy blast, and I’ll never get over how much James and Stan resemble their real-life counterparts.
The Academy Award nominations have been announced. The Power of the Dog leads the pack with twelve nominations. The Oscar broadcast will take place on Sunday, March 27. Here’s the list of nominations:
Good Times premiered on this day in 1974. A spin-off of Maude (which itself was a spin-off of All in the Family), Good Times starred Esther Rolle and John Amos as Florida and James Evans, who live in a Chicago housing project with their three children, James “JJ” Junior, Thelma and Michael. Created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans (at a time when few people of color found work behind the camera), Good Times was one of the first programs to present an authentic portrait of a working-class black family. The series was also notable for kick-starting the career of an eleven-year-old Janet Jackson. Good Times is available for streaming on Peacock.
Taxi Driver was released on this day in 1976. Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Robert DeNiro as Vietnam vet turned vigilante Travis Bickle, Taxi Driver was a critical and commercial success but not without controversy. Not only was Taxi Driver shockingly violent, it co-starred twelve-year-old Jodie Foster as Iris, the child prostitute Bickle vows to protect (more controversy was generated five years later when John Hinckley Jr., inspired by the film and obsessed with Foster, attempted to assassinate President Reagan). At the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, Taxi Driver was booed by the audience for its graphic depiction of violence – then won the festival’s highest honor, the Palme d’Or. At the 49th Academy Awards, the film received four nominations: Best Picture, Best Actor for DeNiro, Best Supporting Actress for Foster, and Best Original Score (posthumously) for Bernard Herrmann. You can stream Taxi Driver on Netflix.
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee premiered on TBS on February 8, 2016. Bee, TheDailyShow‘s longest-serving correspondent (she appeared in 332 episodes!), departed the show in 2015 just before Jon Stewart stepped down as host (if TDS had been smart, they’d have given Bee his job). Bee brings a distinctly feminine – and feminist – perspective to a genre almost completely dominated by men. Full Frontal has been a ratings success and recently began airing its seventh season. The show has also won plenty of awards, including an Emmy, a WGA Award and a GLAAD Media Award. With a quick wit, a foul mouth and an endless supply of pantsuits, Bee is the leading lady of late night.
James Dean was born on this day in 1931. Dean grew up in Indiana and moved to Los Angeles after his high school graduation. After studying pre-law at Santa Monica College and then UCLA, Dean changed his major to drama. In 1951, he left UCLA to work full-time as an actor. Commercials, television roles and uncredited bit movie parts led to Dean’s big break, playing Cal Trask in Elia Kazan’s adaptation of John Steinbeck’s East ofEden. East of Eden was the only one of Dean’s movies released during his lifetime. He starred in two more iconic films, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. On September 30, 1955, Dean – who had developed a passion for car racing – crashed his Porsche 550 Spyder into another vehicle on U.S. Route 466. He died instantaneously at the age of just twenty-four. Dean received two posthumous Oscar nominations for Best Actor, for East of Eden and Giant. He left an enduring cultural legacy, inspiring actors like Martin Sheen, musicians such as Bob Dylan and generations of misunderstood teens. Popular culture is riddled with references to Dean and his films (see a few examples below). Fun fact: at the time of his death, Dean was set to appear in Somebody Up There Likes Me as boxer Rocky Graziano. Paul Newman, whom Dean had beaten out for the role of Cal in East of Eden, ended up playing Graziano.
John Williams is celebrating his 90th birthday today. Williams was born in Flushing, Queens. At sixteen, Williams moved with his family to Los Angeles, where he attended North Hollywood High School. In 1951, he joined the Air Force, where he played piano and arranged music for the U.S. Air Force Band. After completing his service, Williams moved back to New York City to attend the prestigious Julliard School. His original goal was to become a concert pianist, but while at Julliard, Williams decided to focus on composition instead. He returned to Los Angeles and began composing music for film and television. He received his first Oscar nomination for 1967’s Valley of the Dolls. In 1974, Williams was approached by an up-and-coming filmmaker named Steven Spielberg to score his debut feature film, The Sugarland Express. In the almost fifty years since, Williams has composed music for a total of twenty-eight Spielberg movies, including the Oscar-winning scores for Jaws, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Schindler’s List. In 1976, Spielberg introduced Williams to his friend George Lucas, who needed a composer for Star Wars. Williams has scored a total of six films in the Star Wars franchise; he received an Oscar nod for every single one. In fact, Williams has earned a total of fifty-two Oscar nominations (and five wins); he is the second-most nominated person in Oscar history, after Walt Disney (he’s also the only person to have secured Oscar nominations in seven consecutive decades). He has been nominated for six Emmys, twenty-five Golden Globes, seventy-two Grammys and sixteen BAFTAs. Williams is an absolute legend, and nothing less than the most iconic film composer of all time. Happy birthday, Mr. Williams!