Jennifer Lopez worked the dance track ‘Let’s Get Loud’ into her inauguration medley. It actually made perfect sense. #SootinClaimon.Com

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Jennifer Lopez worked the dance track ‘Let’s Get Loud’ into her inauguration medley. It actually made perfect sense.

EntertainmentJan 21. 2021Jennifer Lopez sings before Joe Biden is sworn in as president on Jan. 20. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jonathan NewtonJennifer Lopez sings before Joe Biden is sworn in as president on Jan. 20. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Jonathan Newton

By The Washington Post · Bethonie Butler · NATIONAL, ENTERTAINMENT, POLITICS, WHITEHOUSE, MUSIC 

Jennifer Lopez had already sung the famed folk song “This Land is Your Land” and was midway through “America the Beautiful” when she paused to deliver a patriotic message at President Biden’s inauguration: “One nation, under God,” she said in Spanish. “Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

Then Lopez started singing again, but it wasn’t either of the numbers she had previously announced. “Let’s get loud!” she belted as the United States Marine Band soared into a crescendo.

Lopez has been singing “Let’s Get Loud” for decades. The dance track, which first appeared on her 1999 debut studio album “On the 6,” has since become a signature song for the multihyphenate entertainer – despite the fact that it was actually written by Gloria Estefan.

The reaction on social media was swift and collective. (To paraphrase: Did that really just happen?) “Let’s Get Loud” is a definitive party song, the kind that might get wallflowers onto the dance floor or amp up an early-morning Zumba class. The up-tempo dance track has an important message – calling us to live in the moment and be comfortable in our own skin – but it’s not necessarily the music we associate with inauguration performances. But this was an inauguration like none other.

Wednesday’s ceremony celebrated the transition of power from President Donald Trump to Biden at a pivotal and largely solemn moment for the country. Biden and Vice President Harris took their oaths of office in front of the U.S. Capitol, exactly two weeks after a violent mob – buoyed by Trump’s persistent efforts to undermine the results of the presidential election – stormed the hallowed building.

During his inaugural speech, Biden asked the nation to join him in silent prayer for the “400,000 fellow Americans” who have died of covid-19. On his first day in office, Biden signed executive orders aimed at getting the pandemic under control and undoing controversial measures enacted by the previous administration, including hard-line immigration policies that left hundreds of migrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Despite all of the challenges faced by the Biden administration, the inaugural ceremony struck a hopeful tone – not least because it featured Harris’s historic inauguration as the first woman, first Black person and first person of South Asian descent to become vice president.

Lopez’s presence – alongside other celebrities including Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem, and Garth Brooks – was itself a signal that change is on the horizon. Despite his long-looming presence in pop culture, Trump never attracted A-list celebrities to the White House. Biden, meanwhile, was vice president during an administration that was groundbreaking in its embrace of pop culture.

In that regard, “Let’s Get Loud” wasn’t as out of place in Lopez’s medley as it might have seemed at first listen. It was the song Lopez mashed up with Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” at last year’s Super Bowl halftime show, which she co-headlined with Shakira. That performance, which featured Lopez’s daughter Emme, made less-than-subtle statements about the Trump administration’s policies on immigration and aid to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. Children sat in illuminated cages as Lopez, clad in a large Puerto Rican flag, shouted out “Latinos!”

A children’s choir, wearing hoodies that evoked the U.S. flag, crooned a snippet of “Let’s Get Loud”: “Every feeling, every beat can be so very sweet you got to taste it,” they sang. “Let’s get loud, let’s get loud, turn the music up / let’s do it / come on people / let’s get loud.”

If the Super Bowl performance was a call to action – a demand to be heard – Biden’s inauguration marked a fitting reprise. On Wednesday, Lopez seemed to take in the magnitude of the moment as she sang out the familiar line from one of her most popular songs. It was unexpected and very J-Lo. It was anything but meaningless.

New Batwoman Javicia Leslie always wanted to be a superhero #SootinClaimon.Com

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New Batwoman Javicia Leslie always wanted to be a superhero

EntertainmentJan 18. 2021With Kate Kane gone, Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) is the new Batwoman. MUST CREDIT: CWWith Kate Kane gone, Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie) is the new Batwoman. MUST CREDIT: CW

By The Washington Post · David Betancourt

Last year, Javicia Leslie was asked on a podcast what she wanted her next acting role to be.

“I said I wanted to be a superhero,” Leslie recalled recently toThe Washington Post.

In July, just two months after stating her desire, the star of “God Friended Me” and “The Family Business”answered the call to a bat-signal put up in the sky just for her – finding out she was the new star of the CW’s “Batwoman.” The announcement instantly made her the new face of the network’s successful tradition of televised superheroes.

The black-and-red cape and cowl of the DC Comics-inspired character had become available in May, when actress Ruby Rose made the shocking announcement that she was leaving the titular role(due to both injury and rethinking her future while isolating during the pandemic). Leslie self-taped her audition in her Los Angeles home due to covid-19 restrictions.

She spoke to The Post from Vancouver, where Season 2 of “Batwoman” is filmed – but had arrived from the United States three days prior, so she was in a required quarantine. Leslie’s official superhero debut is Sunday, when the season premieres on the CW at 8 p.m. ET.

Leslie says she’s always been a Batman fan. Which Batman? Val Kilmer in 1995′s “Batman Forever.”

Leslie and Kilmer are kindred acting spirits of sorts, both having dealt with the attention that comes with replacing a high-profile Bat-person upon their departure. Kilmer’s solo venture as Batman followed Michael Keaton’s two-film run as the Dark Knight just as Leslie must now cast a new shadow over the one Rose left behind.

And just like Kilmer’s blond Batman didn’t attempt to mimic what Keaton accomplished under the mask a quarter century ago, Leslie isn’t trying to do what’d been done before.

“What makes me me will always be different than what makes someone else who they are,” Leslie said. “We’re talking about two completely different characters that are obviously going to be two completely different Batwomen.”

Despite a change in secret identities from Rose’s Kate Kane to Leslie’s Ryan Wilder, Batwoman will remain a gay character. Leslie, who identifies as bisexual, says that was a key characteristic that had to be kept.

“Batwoman (is) gay in the comics. I think that is really important that (it) continues to be represented in our iteration of Batwoman as well,” Leslie said. “Representation is so important. I can’t wait until there is a trans superhero that is live-action. I think that … this role and other roles like this are constantly breaking the barriers of what normalcy is. And it’s creating a new normal that should represent everyone and not just what people think is the majority.”

One norm going away is the trademark black eye makeup that every on-screen bat-hero since Keaton has worn under the mask – Rose eventually parted with it and Leslie will also decline.

“Being a woman of color, it was important that we didn’t black out my eyes,” Leslie said. “We wanted to play with light instead of playing with darkness to help accentuate me being a black woman in playing this role.”

Leslie auditioned to be Batwoman while the Black Lives Matter movement was protesting the death of George Floyd, which happened on thesame day in May that Christian Cooper was racially harassed while birdwatching in Central Park. “Batwoman’s” new season debuts less than two weeks after the violence and death that took place at the Capitol, a day where a noose and Confederate flag breached the United States’ beacon of democracy not far from where Leslie grew up in Upper Marlboro, Md.

The significance of being Batwoman now is not lost on Leslie.

“I’m really saddened by the events that have happened within the last year. But it really just revealed that we have a lot of work to do as a world, more specifically as a country,” Leslie said. “Life imitates art, so it’s very important that what we see on television represents who we really are and that it continues to inspire people that may be voiceless or scared to (be) who they are.”

Diversity in comic storytelling has shown gradual improvement over the years. It has been almost a decade since Miles Morales debuted as the half-Puerto Rican, half-African American Spider-Man over at Marvel Comics. Since then, the wall-crawler has starred in an Academy Award-winning animated film and is currently the star of one of the most popular video games on the PS5.

DC is finally catching up to Marvel’s progress. Leslie is the CW’s second Black superhero in a lead role, after DC’s “Black Lightning.” Her character’s alter ego, Ryan Wilder, recently made her comics debut. The company also just introduced a Black Batman and a Brazilian Wonder Woman in the pages of its new publishing initiative, “Future State.” Milestone Comics, a DC imprint, will resume publishing some of the world’s most popular Black superheroes after a long hiatus, with plans to grow on big and small screens.

Leslie is proud to take part in such bold ideas.

“To be a part of (the Batman franchise) in the capacity where I’m the one saving the day … I think it’s so powerful,” Leslie said. “I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that my version of a superhero would have been something that was so groundbreaking.”

‘The Dig’ is a movie about archaeology, but it’s also a lovely meditation on what lasts #SootinClaimon.Com

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‘The Dig’ is a movie about archaeology, but it’s also a lovely meditation on what lasts

EntertainmentJan 14. 2021From top, Carey Mulligan, Archie Barnes and Ralph Fiennes in From top, Carey Mulligan, Archie Barnes and Ralph Fiennes in “The Dig.” MUST CREDIT: Larry Horricks/Netflix Photo by: Larry Horricks — Netflix

By The Washington Post · Michael O’Sullivan 

On the eve of World War II, a self-taught English archaeologist, working at the behest of a Suffolk widow with a curiosity about what lay beneath several earthen mounds on her property, made what is considered to be one of the more significant discoveries in British archaeology.

That may be the summary description of the plot of “The Dig” – or at least the historical facts on which the film, and its source material, a 2007 novel by John Preston – is based. But it doesn’t begin to describe what this poetic little film is really about, or what it manages to say about the human condition. Gradually, and with the methodical patience of someone unearthing buried treasure with a tiny brush, “The Dig” reveals itself to be a story of love and estrangement, of things lost and longed for, of life and death – of what lasts and what doesn’t.

Directed by actor/filmmaker Simon Stone, from a richly allusive screenplay by Moira Buffini (“Tamara Drewe”), “The Dig” begins in a straightforward manner: Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) has just engaged the services of Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), a local man who hides his sharp archaeological instincts behind his job description: “excavator” – a designation he has chosen for himself that, like the film itself, engages in misdirection.

Ralph Fiennes and Carey Mulligan in “The Dig.” MUST CREDIT: Larry Horricks/Netflix

Photo by: Larry Horricks — Netflix

Soon Basil’s discovery – that Edith’s estate is a burial ground of sorts – is laid bare, and the film proceeds with the standard fare of so many prestige British dramas. The coming war threatens the project, along with inclement weather and academic snobbery, personified by a pompous archaeologist from the British Museum (Ken Stott), who attempts to bigfoot Brown, commandeering his work site and dismissing his expertise, when word of the dig leaks out.

But slowly, slyly, the film deepens, becoming so much more than a period drama with pretty costumes, plummy accents and petty melodramas. In a sense, the tale of Brown’s work – while momentous both historically and personally, as a tale of stolen credit – is, like what has been dug up in the dirt, merely a vessel for larger meaning.

Subplots involving Edith’s health, her worries for her cousin (Johnny Flynn), who is about to go off to battle, and the unhealthy marriage of a couple hired to work on the dig (Lily James and Ben Chaplin) enrich the sidelines of the story. What might have been mere embellishments, meant to juice up a dusty narrative, are, in the hands of Buffini and Stone, by the end of the film, the whole point.

And what is that point?

On the most superficial level, it’s that archaeology – even when the practice is explicitly being undertaken in a place where a corpse has been lain – isn’t about the dead, but the living. “The Dig” is about the yearning, so human and, yes, so elusive and so futile, to fix the past so that it can be preserved.

Of course, it can’t, in any literal sense. Even the bits of iron, bronze and gold that get saved in museums won’t last forever, any more than the people who made them, or the emotions we feel, and sometimes fail to show, for a loved one.

Brown’s dig dispelled myths about the “Dark Ages,” but “The Dig” explodes another greater and more haunting illusion, with grace and at times exquisite sadness: that we are anything more than ghosts.

– – –

Three and one-half stars. Rated PG-13. Available Jan. 29 on Netflix. Contains brief sensuality and partial nudity. 112 minutes.

Ratings Guide: Four stars masterpiece, three stars very good, two stars OK, one star poor, no stars waste of time.

Judy and Mickey would have loved the TikTok ‘Ratatouille’ – 2021’s answer to ‘Let’s put on a show!’ #SootinClaimon.Com

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Judy and Mickey would have loved the TikTok ‘Ratatouille’ – 2021’s answer to ‘Let’s put on a show!’

EntertainmentJan 03. 2021

By The Washington Post
Peter Marks

Like every other place in Theater Land, Tryout Town has resettled on the Web. It actually proves to be an advantageous setting for works-in-progress like the embryonic and revolutionarily assembled “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” that made its debut Friday, in a benefit digital production for The Actors Fund.

At a running time of 51 minutes, and with perhaps only half the numbers required for a full adaptation of the 2007 animated Oscar-winner, this “Ratatouille” is a mere appetizer. But with a winning Tituss Burgess as the human embodiment of Remy, the Parisian rodent who can stir up a mean beef bourguignon, it is a promising first course. And the harbinger of a future property on the school circuit or maybe even in some professional incarnation. (Another leading indicator: The Actors Fund announced that the production surpassed $1 million in ticket sales on its premiere night.)

Let’s acknowledge the affirmative circumstances of this virtual performance, which also offers up the talents of Wayne Brady, Ashley Park, Adam Lambert, Andrew Barth Feldman and André De Shields as Anton Ego, the restaurant critic whose effete heart Remy melts. It augurs the arrival, in the midst of a fraught time for theater and other performing arts, of a bona fide new musical. Even more remarkably – as its title suggests – it came together via TikTok, the digital platform on which users create videos of up to a minute.

Emily Jacobsen, a Disney-adoring teacher in Hartsdale, N.Y., prompted other contributors to add their imaginations to a “Ratatouille” musical on TikTok. A result was the 11 numbers for this production by nearly a dozen songwriters – including one, “Anyone Can Cook,” by Broadway actor Kevin Chamberlin, who performs it himself, as the story’s venerable chef, Auguste Gusteau. The material, massaged into a skeletal narrative by Michael Breslin and Patrick Foley, was handed over to a capable team including director Lucy Moss, orchestrator Macy Schmidt, music supervisor Daniel Mertzlufft and choreographer Ellenore Scott.

David Bengali’s video design provides a coherent scaffolding for the story, which relates the arc of Remy’s culinary coming-of-age, with the help of kitchen staff played by Feldman and Park. (The idea of multiplying the images of a pair of male and female dancers to make a full chorus is delightful, and the accompaniment of the 20-piece Broadway Sinfonietta – all female-identifying and mostly women of color – applies a welcome orchestral polish.)

This live-action version suffers a bit from the pandemic-imposed limitations on performers recorded in isolation. (The show remains online until Monday.) Still, one is inclined to adjust one’s expectations, allowing both for the novel manner in which this project has come to fruition and an understanding that gaps in the storytelling have yet to be filled. An interlude definitely in need of elaboration: The moment that De Shields’s Anton tastes Remy’s ratatouille. The movie’s depiction of the critic’s ecstasy was a cartoon coup – and served as inspiration, in point of fact, for one of “Hamilton’s” most spectacular numbers, “Satisfied.” Here, in RJ Christian’s song, “Ratatouille,” Anton’s epiphany feels insufficiently theatricalized.

Though the insider musical-theater jokes are fun – Priscilla Lopez, for instance, makes a cameo to send up her own performance in the original “A Chorus Line” – more attention must be paid to the basics of plot development. One would hope for deeper exploration of the magnetism between the buoyantly matched Feldman and Park, as Linguini and Colette. With Moss’s guidance, they both leap wittily from animation to three dimensions. Brady provides a charismatic rat-father for Remy, and the more screen time accorded Mary Testa, as a cantankerous Gallic cook, the better.

Burgess is no stranger to anthropomorphic portrayal: he originated the role of Sebastian the crab in Disney’s Broadway rendition of “The Little Mermaid.” Here in gray turtleneck and trademark self-dramatizing ebullience, he’s promoted from supporting crustacean to leading mammal. “I won’t let a narrow-minded view determine what vermin can do,” Burgess sings, in the musical’s best number, Mertzlufft’s “Remember My Name.” It’s a safe bet that as “Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical” makes its way in the world – digitally or otherwise – the producers will remember his.

– – –

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical, by numerous songwriters, directed by Lucy Moss. About 51 minutes. Contribute-what-you-can tickets start at $5. Available on demand through Monday at 7 p.m. todaytix.com.

Phyllis McGuire, star of popular 1950s vocal trio the McGuire Sisters, dies at 89 #SootinClaimon.Com

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Phyllis McGuire, star of popular 1950s vocal trio the McGuire Sisters, dies at 89

EntertainmentJan 03. 2021

By The Washington Post
Matt Schudel

In the 1950s, when Elvis Presley was leading the rock-and-roll revolution, the McGuire Sisters were genteel holdovers from an earlier time.

In their proper, unthreatening way, Christine, Dorothy and Phyllis McGuire had a popularity rivaling that of Elvis himself. They were on countless magazine covers and TV shows, appeared in nightclubs and concert halls, and had 10 songs in the Billboard Top 20.

Their two No. 1 hits – “Sincerely” and “Sugartime” – reflected the trio’s sweet, earnest image. The sisters, who began singing in church in Ohio during the 1930s, had an uncanny sense of timing and close harmony, matched by a perky, ever-smiling stage manner.

They were so close that they sometimes held hands as they sang or took their bows. Yet the spotlight seemed to shine the brightest on Phyllis McGuire, the youngest sister, who always stood in the center and sang the lead.

McGuire, who was 89 and the last surviving McGuire sister, died Dec. 29 at her home in Las Vegas. Her death was announced in a paid notice in the Las Vegas Sun newspaper. The cause was not disclosed.

Even as musical tastes began to change, the McGuire Sisters kept going strong. By 1960, each of the sisters was earning more than $1 million a year.

After a final appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1968, they parted ways. Christine and Dorothy were married and raising families. Phyllis, who had been married once in the 1950s, was single and raising eyebrows.

Rumors began circulating, then were confirmed without apology by McGuire that she was the girlfriend of Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana.

They had met in 1959, when McGuire and her sisters were performing at the Desert Inn, one of the Las Vegas casinos run by Giancana. “Who’s the one in the middle?” he reportedly asked.

McGuire, who had a weakness for the blackjack tables, ran up a debt of tens of thousands of dollars at the Desert Inn. Giancana, watching from afar, told his casino boss to “eat it” – or forgive the debt.

Thus began one of the most unlikely romances in show business. Giancana, who got his start as Al Capone’s driver in Chicago, was widowed, bald and in his 50s. He had been arrested dozens of times, linked to crimes from illegal gambling to murder, and had served time in prison.

McGuire was still in her 20s and had a public image as benign and carefully arranged as one of the McGuire Sisters’ hit songs. Giancana sent her lavish gifts of jewelry and furs and often met her overseas, wherever the sisters were performing. Strange as it may seem, everyone who knew them agreed they were in love.

“It’s amazing that it ever took place,” William Roemer, an FBI agent who tracked Giancana for years, told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “She had everything. She had beauty. She had money. Yet, she fell in love with this gangster. I could never figure it out.”

In 1961, FBI agents wiretapped their room in a Phoenix motel. Later, after being questioned about Giancana’s activities, McGuire pleaded ignorance. Federal authorities asked her to cooperate, with the implicit threat that her career would be ruined if her affair with a mafia kingpin were exposed.

“She said she would, but she never did,” Roemer said. “She never cooperated with us. She double-crossed us really.”

In 1965, McGuire testified before a grand jury investigating Giancana for racketeering. She admitted that they had a relationship and that she was aware of his reputation, but maintained she knew nothing about his life of crime.

The revelation “really hurt our career,” McGuire told the Chicago Tribune in 1989. “We were blacklisted for a while on TV. . . . We were America’s sweethearts, and for one of America’s sweethearts to be with that man . . .”

Giancana went to prison for a year in 1965, then lived in Mexico and South America, where he was visited by McGuire. He later moved back to suburban Chicago and was cooking in his basement in 1975 when an assailant entered and shot him seven times in the head. The murder was never solved.

“I just knew that I liked the man,” McGuire told the Los Angeles Times in 1986. “He was very nice to me. And if he had done all those things they said he did, I wondered why in God’s name he was on the street and not in jail.”

Phyllis Jean McGuire was born Feb. 14, 1931, in Middletown, Ohio, and grew up in the nearby town of Miamisburg.

Her father was a steelworker and her mother was a minister. Phyllis was 4 when she and her sisters began singing in their mother’s church. (Christine was five years older than Phyllis, Dorothy three years older.) Before long, they were performing at weddings, revival meetings and the USO. They had a long engagement at a hotel in Dayton, Ohio, and appeared on radio and television.

In 1952, the McGuire Sisters moved to New York and landed an eight-week engagement on Kate Smith’s radio show. They later won a talent contest and were featured on Arthur Godfrey’s popular TV show. Their first Top 10 hits came in 1954, with “Goodnight, Sweetheart, Goodnight” and “Muskrat Ramble,” and “Sincerely” reached No. 1 in 1955.

Two years later, they recorded “Sugartime,” by Charlie Phillips and Odis Echols, which climbed to No. 1 in 1958 and became the sisters’ signature tune:

Sugar in the mornin’

Sugar in the evenin’

Sugar at suppertime

Be my little sugar

And love me all the time

Even before the sisters broke up in 1968, Phyllis McGuire began to work on her own, including an acting role in the 1963 Frank Sinatra film “Come Blow Your Horn.”

By 1985, the McGuire Sisters were ready to launch a comeback, but they struggled to re-create the instinctive harmonies they had in their youth.

“We rehearsed eight hours a day, five days a week for six months,” Phyllis McGuire told the Tribune in 1989. “Then one day, after perspiring and toiling and worrying, we started rehearsing and all in the same instance we looked at each other and said, ‘My God, thank you, that’s it.’ We had it back.”

Wearing matching dresses and hairstyles, the sisters performed in nightclubs and concert venues until 2004. Dorothy McGuire died in 2012, Christine McGuire in 2018.

Phyllis McGuire’s early marriage to Neal Van Ells ended in divorce. After Giancana’s death, she was occasionally linked to wealthy men, but she never remarried and had no immediate survivors.

A 1995 HBO film, “Sugartime,” starring Mary-Louise Parker and John Turturro, portrayed McGuire’s life with Giancana. She denounced it as “riddled with blatant inaccuracies, exaggerations and distortions.”

In 1999, after Las Vegas police stopped her limousine and questioned her driver, the 68-year-old McGuire emerged from the car “screaming, waving and flailing her arms” and was arrested for head-butting and kicking a police officer. Charges were dropped after a plea deal.

McGuire was an astute investor, and it is widely believed that much of Giancana’s fortune came into her hands. She had a jewelry collection said to rival those of Elizabeth Taylor and Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos.

She lived on one of the grandest estates in Las Vegas, in a house that contained, under its roof, a 40-foot replica of the Eiffel Tower and another of the Arc de Triomphe. Steel shutters could cover the bulletproof windows with the touch of a button. She had five gardeners and a pond with black swans floating by.

“I’m not ashamed of my past,” she told Vanity Fair, describing everything from music to the mob. “I was doing what I honestly felt.”

Wonder Woman survives a pandemic and polarizing reactions to remain one of the top superhero franchises #SootinClaimon.Com

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Wonder Woman survives a pandemic and polarizing reactions to remain one of the top superhero franchises

EntertainmentDec 29. 2020

By The Washington Post · David Betancourt

The Wonder Woman franchise isn’t going anywhere.

Despite a limited theatrical release, lukewarm reviews and social media chatter that can best be described as polarizing, “Wonder Woman 1984” opened to $16.7 million domestically at the box office this past weekend, beating all other three-day 2020 pandemic releases and boosting its worldwide total to $85 million. The film also debuted simultaneously on HBO Max and was viewed by nearly half of the streaming service’s subscribers on the day of arrival according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Warner Bros. studio chief Toby Emmerich announced on Sunday that the studio and DC Entertainment are moving forward with a third film, with director Patty Jenkins and star Gal Gadot returning.

So the franchise has come out pretty well, all things considered. And the announcement puts it into rarefied air.

A trilogy has been an uncommon feat for DC Comics on film in the modern superhero cinema era that clocks back to Fox’s first X-Men movie in 2000.

There’s Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy. And that’s it.

Gone are the days of four Superman movies and four Batman movies that both marveled and disappointed from the ’70s to the late ’90s. Post-Nolan, DC has struggled to find respectability in the shadow of Marvel Studios’ decade-long reign, but salvation finally arrived with the first “Wonder Woman” film that wowed audiences to the tune of $822 million worldwide in 2017.

Gadot and Jenkins became DC’s true heroines, helping the brand become a legit contender for the crown of best superhero movie maker that was once theirs alone. Gadot had the gargantuan task of following in the footsteps of Lynda Carter, the world’s forever Wonder Woman. She passed that test memorably, and is equally impressive in “Wonder Woman 1984” despite not being handed as strong a script as in her first go-round with the Lasso of Truth.

Before the first film, Jenkins had the outsized expectations that came from telling a tale with not only DC’s top female superhero, but the female superhero, and had to make it work when DC was building a reputation for being too moody on screen. A movie had been devoted to Batman and Superman beating each other up, after all. Jenkins made a film full of light and hope. It’s DC’s best film post-Nolan, and set the franchise on firm footing, making it a good bet to join DC’s trilogy club.

Even if the reviews for “Wonder Woman 1984” haven’t been as universally praising as the first film’s, it’s bright (maybe too bright, but it is the 80s) and shiny and very expensive, and helps add to a world that’s worth revisiting. Perhaps it is finally time to bring Wonder Woman to the present day, as Jenkins has hinted at previously, while keeping the character as far away from the Justice League as possible until that on-screen brand has been repaired.

But one question is when Gadot and Jenkins will have the time.

The daughter of a fighter pilot, Jenkins is scheduled to direct “Rogue Squadron,” a movie centered around the coolest pilots of the Star Wars universe. Gadot is also set to star as the queen of Egypt in “Cleopatra,” once again working alongside Jenkins.

This could be a situation reminiscent of the long four-year gap between Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” that allowed him to film “Inception.” At that point Nolan had the power to do the projects he wanted to do. He didn’t need Batman. Batman needed him. Gadot and Jenkins are now in similar territory with Wonder Woman.

Another factor is: Will theaters return to their pre-pandemic audience levels by the time a new Wonder Woman film comes out? In his statement, Emmerich said Gadot and Jenkins would return to conclude “the long-planned theatrical trilogy.” The key word being theatrical. That makes it seem like Warner Bros. is betting on this movie arriving in a post-pandemic, vaccinated world a few years from now. Those words also give the vibe that a trilogy was always in the cards.

And then there are the optics to consider. Trilogies are old hat for Marvel Studios. Look at all the Avengers that have had three solo films. Iron Man. Captain America. Thor (with a fourth on the way). Heck, even Ant-Man has a third movie in the works. Seriously. It’s called “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.”

For DC to maintain respectability in the shadow of all that Marvel Studios has done, its superheroes need equal longevity on the big screen. And while other contenders at DC have arisen with trilogy potential (“Shazam,” the billion-dollar grossing “Aquaman,” a promising “Black Adam” franchise starring Dwayne Johnson that will soon be in production, and even “The Suicide Squad” with director James Gunn at the helm), DC’s current top hero on film was the obvious choice to begin a new trilogy streak.

However long it takes, we will see Princess Diana one more time. Warner Bros. and DC just need to hope the third time can charm like the first one did.

Hospital discharges Toon Bodyslam #SootinClaimon.Com

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Hospital discharges Toon Bodyslam

EntertainmentDec 28. 2020

By The Nation

Rock-star Artiwara “Toon” Kongmalai is on the way to recovery after being released from hospital on Monday, his girlfriend Rachwin “Koi” Wongviriya said on Instagram.

On December 14, lead singer of the group Bodyslam was rushed to Bangkok’s Phramongkutklao Hospital after suffering a bulging disc in his cervical vertebrae.

The 41-year-old rock star created history last year when his epic, 55-day run across the country raised Bt1.2 billion for cash-strapped public hospitals.

Cervical herniated disc is a recognised condition among athletes, though it is not known whether Toon sustained the injury through running.

A nephew of Aed Carabao, Toon founded Bodyslam with Thanadol Changsawek and Nathaphol Phannachet in 2002. The band have released seven hit albums so far, mostly under GMM Grammy.

Book World: Dissecting athletic greatness: Nature, nurture, lucky breaks and a ‘quiet eye’ #SootinClaimon.Com

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Book World: Dissecting athletic greatness: Nature, nurture, lucky breaks and a ‘quiet eye’ (nationthailand.com)

Book World: Dissecting athletic greatness: Nature, nurture, lucky breaks and a ‘quiet eye’

EntertainmentDec 12. 2020

The Best
Photo by: Nicholas Brealey — Handout

The Best Photo by: Nicholas Brealey — Handout 

By Special To The Washington Post · Liz Robbins 

The Best: How Elite Athletes Are Made

By Mark Williams and Tim Wigmore

Nicholas Brealey. 353 pp. $24.95

– – –

When Brandi Chastain scored the winning penalty kick in the 1999 Women’s World Cup and ripped off her jersey to celebrate victory for the United States, she sent a thunderous thrill through the Rose Bowl crowd and inspired generations of athletes to come.

I was fortunate to witness such unbridled moments of triumph, superhuman feats from once-in-a-generation athletes like Roger Federer and LeBron James, in my years as a sportswriter. Journalists, fans and fellow athletes alike cannot help but marvel at greatness as something often intangible.

Now a new book breaks down the championship process, from birth to retirement, and the practice hours in between, making it at least relatable. In “The Best: How Elite Athletes Are Made,” British sports scientist Mark Williams and sportswriter Tim Wigmore offer an engrossing guidebook for youth athletes, parents, coaches and perhaps even fantasy-league fans looking for a little insight.

It should not be taken as a bible. Sports do involve variables – a lucky bounce here, a freak break there. How athletes react to such changes, the authors argue, is a measure of their training and their will.

“We do not claim there is a simple template to becoming the best, or even maximizing your chances of becoming the best you can be – sport, like life, is altogether more complicated,” they write in the prologue. “Leading athletes benefit from a complex, and interrelated, mixture of nature and nurture.”

For readers used to literary sports narratives in the vein of John McPhee or David Halberstam, this is a much more academic enterprise. At times, the work is reminiscent of Malcom Gladwell’s “Outliers: The Story of Success,” which it references.

The strength of “The Best” is in its synthesis of hundreds of sports science journals, which Williams and Wigmore condense into clear sections amplified by original interviews with stars such as Steph Curry, Annika Sorenstam and Pete Sampras. The book covers sports as diverse as the National Football League and Norwegian cross-country skiing, soccer’s Premier League and England women’s field hockey. Even the underhanded free throw shooter Rick Barry gets a couple of pages.

Easy to follow, the chapters are divided into three sections, starting at the beginning: who becomes a champion based in part on siblings, birth date and community support.

“Part Two: Inside the Minds of Champions” is the meat of the material, showing the training and mental makeup athletes need under pressure. The best athletes have intense focus, but where they direct that focus is illuminating.

Joan Vickers, a scientist at the University of Calgary, introduced the concept of the “quiet eye,” when in the final milliseconds of preparation for a shot, athletes fixate on one target – like the rim of a basket or the upper corner of the goal. The longer the duration of the “quiet eye,” the more successful the outcome.

The tips range from useful to delightful in chapters like “The art of the con” (not a political reference) and “How to hit a ball in 0.5 seconds,” which shows how athletes study their opponents’s tics that might provide clues in returning a serve in tennis or hitting a ball in baseball or cricket. The Zen master Andre Agassi solved Boris Becker’s serve by figuring out that Becker stuck his tongue out on his lip, literally pointing to where he was going to place it in the service box – center, left or right. The chapter “How to win a penalty shoot-out” does not mention Chastain but relays how England’s men’s soccer team overcame its penalty-kick curse. The little black book of opposing players’ tendencies kept by Britain’s field hockey goalie Maddie Hinch is a rich detail.

“Why athletes choke” had me nodding in sympathy. What golfer does not remember Jean Van de Velde’s epic meltdown in the 1999 British Open? With a three-shot lead coming into the 18th hole, he somehow ended up in a river with no socks and shoes, trying to play the ball from there. Van de Velde lost the tournament in a playoff.

“When athletes are anxious, they reinvest attention on the technical execution of the skill, those aspects of the movement that have generally become automated – ‘paralysis by analysis,’ ” the authors write. (It is a phrase they repeat often.)

And it relates to the “quiet eye” concept: “Athletes weighed down by anxiety also use their eyes less efficiently, in both dynamic and static tasks.”

Although the lessons here are widely applicable, a caveat: This book does have a distinct British accent. When talking about the National Basketball Association in the chapter on neighborhood pickup games, the authors refer to them as “ad-hoc games.” They call a playoff game a “match.” There is football (never soccer) and American football. And spellings have not been changed for American readers, so we have the British versions of some words: practise and defence. And there is a whole lot of cricket.

The authors couldn’t include everything, yet there is only a half-page mention of doping. It comes in a brief section on mental health. Athletes cheat for reasons beyond internal pressure; they often face financial incentives and government mandates. Then again, this game within the game could be – and has been – worthy of many separate books.

Part Three concludes with training methods and the science of success. I was pleased to see the authors include the famous team-bonding dinners led by Gregg Popovich, the oenophile coach of the five-time champion San Antonio Spurs, and the intense practice techniques of Women’s National Basketball Association star Elena Delle Donne, who led the Washington Mystics to their first WNBA championship in 2019.

In “The next frontier,” the final chapter about technology, the authors leave us, appropriately, with an eye to the future. Analytics make the scene, but the discussion of how teams are using virtual reality to assist injured players and simulate pressure situations left me thinking of the next generation of champions.

Still, for all the technological advantages of the Nike Vaporfly shoe, which has transformed the running world, the authors include the benefits of a low-tech training solution for any athlete: naps. Finally, something attainable for us mere mortals.

– – –

Robbins is a freelance writer in New York. She covered tennis for the New York Times from 2000 to 2010.

The Game Awards hosted Zoom calls with hundreds of fans. They were surprisingly orderly. #SootinClaimon.Com

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The Game Awards hosted Zoom calls with hundreds of fans. They were surprisingly orderly. (nationthailand.com)

The Game Awards hosted Zoom calls with hundreds of fans. They were surprisingly orderly.

EntertainmentDec 11. 2020

By The Washington Post · Gene Park

The Game Awards have always been distinct from peer shows in the entertainment industry. With less formality and more announcements than any other prestige show, the video games industry has an awards show that tries to be its mirror.

Showrunner Geoff Keighley extended this philosophy this past year after the coronavirus lockdowns kicked in. He missed the in-person interactions from traveling to expos and other industry shows across the world. So instead, he used The Game Awards platform to host weekly fireside chats with industry titans like Xbox chief executive Phil Spencer, “Elder Scrolls” legend Todd Howard or the elusive Gabe Newell, co-founder of Valve and an early key figure in the creation of Microsoft Windows.

One day during the summer, Keighley tweeted to his 1.2 million followers asking who would want to show up on a Zoom call and chat about The Game Awards, what they want to see and how the show can be improved. To be selected, viewers were asked to send an email explaining why The Game Awards or gaming means so much to them. Keighley received over 2,000 emails. He invited about 150 people on the first call.

“Everyone online was telling me, ‘Oh it’s going to be a madhouse, everyone talking over each other,” Keighley said. “It was not at all like that. It was such a polite, respectful group of people, and we just really had a great conversation about games. And I’m blown away at how global it was.”

Keighley showed some of the emails to The Washington Post, where respondents raised a range of reasons for why they love The Game Awards, including the representation it showcases and the excitement it can bring – especially as trade shows like E3 lose some of their luster. They appreciate seeing the faces behind the works, especially in a medium that’s struggled to properly recognize the hundreds of people that can stand behind the creation of a single game.

The Post was invited to one of these calls, and can confirm that they were orderly, polite conversations. Viewers and listeners would often raise their hand to speak and wait their turn.

“It was inspiring because, you know, on Twitter we often see a lot of loud voices, but in the midst, there are tons of people who are really amazing, thoughtful people that love video games,” Keighley said. “I often live in a bubble where I go to PAX and E3 and see the same people, while a lot of these fans might never get a chance to talk to Todd Howard or Phil Spencer.”

Keighley said much of the feedback was affirmation for him and his team. It was a good “temperature check” on how people felt about the show, and how it could change moving forward after this tumultuous year.

Probably the most distinctive aspect of The Game Awards is that its also a vehicle for announcements. Nintendo debuted its trailer for “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” at the 2016 show, and Microsoft made its first public unveiling of the Xbox Series X at last year’s show.

“People have crazy expectations about what’s going to be announced, and we don’t really control whether it’s going to be on the show or not,” Keighley said. “That’s always the hardest part for me, seeing games get requested that you know might not be there, but that’s not our choice.”

Keighley said the decision to run announcements or trailers largely depends on the work being done at the publisher or studio level, and this year has proven that the entire industry has struggled to meet its deadlines thanks to the pandemic.

None of these Zoom meetings are available for public viewing. Keighley said they were meant to be intimate, personal conversations, although none were really “off the record.” They were meant only as an interactive way to talk to his fans. Keighley is keen on interactivity as a core pillar of The Game Awards, and he’s worked with publishers in the past to offer free playable demos and discounts for award winners.

“I wasn’t going to turn this into a video that we were going to put up on YouTube and monetize, this was very much for the community,” Keighley said.

Despite problems relating to the pandemic ailing the world, Keighley said 2020 proved to be a banner year for gaming’s reputation.

“The wider world has really started to realize the power of this medium, whether that was the Travis Scott Fortnite concert to the new console launches,” Keighley said. “I really think the meta narrative for me is that this is a year that gaming has finally been accepted at its rightful place as the biggest form of entertainment.”

Netflix’s foreign-language shows see popularity soar in the U.S. #SootinClaimon.Com

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Netflix’s foreign-language shows see popularity soar in the U.S. (nationthailand.com)

Netflix’s foreign-language shows see popularity soar in the U.S.

EntertainmentDec 11. 2020

By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Lucas Shaw

Netflix Inc.’s investment in foreign-language shows is paying off at home, with U.S. viewership of the titles growing more than 50% this year.

Shows from Spain, Germany and France ranked among the most popular shows on Netflix, while viewership of dramas from Korea almost tripled, the company said Thursday. The fourth installment of “Money Heist,” a crime show from Spain, was one of the 10 most popular shows in 92 different countries this year.

Once reluctant to share any data on what its customers watched, Netflix has released more and more information to underscore what is working and dispel criticism that programs get lost amid the onslaught of new shows on the service.

While most U.S. media companies have historically focused on producing shows in English, Netflix has spent billions of dollars to produce shows in dozens of countries around the world. That strategy has been a major factor in the company’s success in signing up customers abroad, both over the last decade and this year in particular.

The company is on track to add the most customers in its history, and has said it will eclipse 200 million subscribers worldwide in the year’s final quarter. More than 60% of its users hail from outside the U.S., including 62 million in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, its largest region abroad.

The majority of Netflix’s most popular programs are still in English. When Netflix released a list this summer of its 10 most popular original movies, they were all in English.

The Netflix statement Thursday also revealed some viewership trends during the pandemic. Interest in home baking shows surged almost 50% in March, while searches for sad movies climbed in April. October was the year’s biggest month for comedy viewing.