Why Kurt Russell Is Still a One-of-a-Kind Movie Star

At certain points in his life, Kurt Russell just stops making movies. Few actors possess obvious self-awareness about their own changing place in the industry, but Russell has always been someone who takes a hint. After breaking into Hollywood in 1979 by playing Elvis Presley in the TV movie Elvis, he spent two decades as one of the industry’s most charming leading men. But after the action epic Soldier flopped in 1998, he vanished for three years, returning in 2001 to play middle-aged characters for smaller-budget movies like Miracle, Dark Blue, and Death Proof. Then, in 2007, he disappeared again. Bored of acting, he wanted to open a vineyard.

We are now in the third Russell renaissance. Starting with Furious 7 (2015), he’s returned to the cocky, ultra-charismatic persona that defined him as a younger actor, taking roles in the kind of big-budget Hollywood schlock he avoided for most of the 2000s, and embracing his status as an elder statesman of action filmmaking. It’s been one of the most fruitful periods of his career, even when he’s popping up in tentpole sequels. In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the latest episode of the Marvel Cinematic Universe out Friday, he fittingly plays a comic-book version of a movie star: a celestial alien being.

His character in Guardians 2 is a “living planet” named Ego; a charismatic, god-like creature with a greying pompadour as bouffant as it was in Russell’s ’80s heyday. But he might as well be a celebrity, waltzing into the carefully balanced Marvel world and throwing it gleefully out of whack. It’s the same role he plays in the Fast & Furious franchise, where his “Mr. Nobody,” an anonymous government agent working for some mysterious organization, serves as a walking deus ex machina, allowing Vin Diesel’s gearheaded band of misfits to travel around the world in various absurd vehicles.

Unsurprisingly, Russell is terrific in Guardians 2, imbuing the film with the same jolt of energy he gave the Fast & Furious movies. Even more interesting, though, is the clash of eras he represents—to see him interact with the Guardians hero Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), who is Ego’s son, is to see someone from an entirely star-driven era do on-screen battle with someone from the current more brand-focused one. Pratt is an A-list actor, but mostly because of the major titles he’s worked on (The Lego Movie, Marvel films, Jurassic World). It’s as if Kurt Russell is visiting him from a time before global brands even existed in Hollywood, as an ambassador for his own one-of-a-kind, more character-focused screen presence.

Russell was a journeyman actor starting in the early ’60s (his teenage years). When John Carpenter cast him as the lead of his sci-fi dystopia Escape From New York (1981), the film’s backers considered Russell not tough enough for the role of renegade super-soldier Snake Plissken. He eventually bulked up and suggested Plissken wear an eye patch. And yet Plissken is one of cinema’s most iconic antiheroes not because of his look, but because of how Russell keeps him grounded amid Escape From New York’s futuristic chaos. Russell had been considered to play Han Solo a few years earlier in Star Wars, but lost the part to Harrison Ford—with Snake, he gave a glimpse of the harder-edged performance he could have offered.

Russell’s greatest collaborations are all with Carpenter, who, like him, eschewed much of the tedious formula of expensive Hollywood action movies. The Thing (1982) is a jarringly violent cross of horror and sci-fi that never risks a wink at the audience, even when spider-limbed aliens are wreaking bloody havoc onscreen. Russell’s bearded MacReady is an ordinary Joe and marquee superhero wrapped into one, letting the movie’s scares play to the back of the theater while he reminds viewers this chaos is happening to real people.

Unlike so many of his ’80s action counterparts (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood), Russell was happy to play second fiddle (as he did to Meryl Streep in Mike Nichols’s real-life drama Silkwood). Even better, he was glad to be in on the joke, as he is in his third collaboration with Carpenter, Big Trouble in Little China (1986). That throwback piece of adventure filmmaking stars Russell’s square-jawed hero Jack Burton, who thinks he’s the center of the story, but keeps causing more harm rather than saving the day (the real protagonist is his buddy Wang Chi, played by Dennis Dun).

Often, Russell’s movies wouldn’t hit as squarely at the box office as the more generic offerings of Schwarzenegger and Stallone, who churned out sequels to their biggest hits while also making stand-alone action movies (like Cobra or Commando) that obeyed a very simple “cool hero beats up the bad guys” formula. His collaborations with his eventual wife Goldie Hawn (Swing Shift, Overboard) showed how easily his charismatic persona could translate to comedy. In the ’90s, he focused on more ensemble-heavy pictures like Stargate, Backdraft, and Executive Decision, but quickly tapped out of the leading-man business after Carpenter’s attempt to revive Plissken with Escape From L.A. (1996) bombed with critics and audiences.

Since then, Russell seemed to take only sporadic interest in making movies at all, and he really did go all in on founding a high-end winery. When Quentin Tarantino cast him as the villain of his faux-grindhouse flick Death Proof (2007), it seemed like the start of the kind of career revival Tarantino pioneered with John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. Instead, Russell didn’t appear in another major theatrical release until Furious 7. What changed? Distractions aside, it seems that Russell simply waited until he got the itch to act again. It also seems, at least from the wide-ranging, fascinating interview he gave to Bill Simmons’ podcast, that he could bow out again just as quickly.

Until then, moviegoers are experiencing a joyous revival. As Mr. Nobody, Ego, the hard-bitten “Mr. Jimmy” in Deepwater Horizon, and “The Hangman” John Ruth in Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Russell has been consistently extraordinary, commanding the screen with the same easygoing, grounded presence that made him so special in the first place. The best way to describe Russell’s work is that it never seems like he’s trying to be a movie star, even when reading Tarantino dialogue or zapping energy bolts at the Guardians of the Galaxy. Anything he does seems wholly natural, no matter how heightened his trappings.

It’s the kind of invaluable skill many current movie stars could stand to learn from. Ben Affleck is not a bad actor, but when he’s Bruce Wayne in Batman v. Superman, you can’t help but think that Affleck is playing some version of himself—offering some meta-commentary on his own tabloid life (the same goes for stars like Brad Pitt or even latter-day Tom Cruise). Others, like the various “Chrises” (Pratt, Evans, Pine, Hemsworth) are defined by the iconic roles that made them famous. When Evans speaks out on a real-life issue, people practically treat him as if he is Captain America.

Russell is never himself, yet he always is—he’s got a persona and a certain indefinable swagger, but even his silliest roles are fully realized creations, from an actual nobody to a literal planet. At some point, he’ll certainly tire of these new, carefully managed mega-sequels and retreat back to his winery. For now, Hollywood’s all the better with him back on board.

Exclusive: Joe and Mika Are Getting Hitched

It was a tough week to sneak away, with Donald Trump careening toward his 100-day milestone, playing a bizarre game of chicken with Kim Jong Un, puzzling over ways to revive his health-care bill and reform the tax code. But Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski decided to step off the 24-7 news cycle and jet to Cap D’Antibes on a jaunt that was a bit mysterious, even to Brzezinski.

The hosts of Morning Joe, which debuted in 2007 and more or less dominated the cable-news chatter machine ever since, have long been known for their highly flirtatious office-spouse badinage, squabbling and then making up. In some ways, they were an odd couple: Republican former Congressman with daughter of Jimmy’s national security adviser; red-state quarterback live on air with a D.C. heiress. But both feel at home at the center of the Washington echo chamber, both deeply understand power, and, as another national security adviser notably observed, power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.

VIDEO: Why Is Lying the New Normal in the Trump Era?

When the show debuted, both co-hosts were married: Scarborough to his second wife, whom he divorced in 2013, and Brzezinski to her former husband of 23 years. But long before they were an item, they made a lot of sense. Their chemistry—the way they bickered, and eye-rolled, and flirted in the I-can’t-stand-you-but-I-love-you way that elementary schoolers do—fueled speculation about their relationship off camera for years, a kind of reality show within a talk show. “Media matrimony,” Felix Gillette called it in 2009 story for The New York Observer. In Washington parlance, there was a lot of smoke.

Was there fire? The two are adamant that there was no impropriety in their relationship, that their marriages ended of natural causes. But something shifted about a year and a half ago. “Everyone talks about how there was always something there,” Brzezinski told me. “Over the past year and a half, I realized I had to face these feelings and that it was time to stop putting them in a box. It was not an easy process and it was not an easy set of decisions for either of us. It was something I couldn’t deny anymore.” In December of 2015, Brzezinski officially split with her ex-husband. “Mika’s divorce was finalized in the past year. She’s really grateful that it was done amicably and in private,” an MSNBC spokesperson told the New York Post’s Page Six.

The trip to the Hotel du Cap in Antibes was ostensibly for Brzezinski’s 50th birthday, which was on May 2, but there was a hidden purpose at play. On the final evening of their trip, the couple ascended the hotel’s palatial walkway from the pool and restaurant to its mansion overlooking the Mediterranean. They were en route to the Bellini bar in its lobby when Scarborough paused and stopped Brzezinski. “Halfway up the hill, he said he needed to sit down,” she told me. “We hadn’t been feeling well, so I thought, Oh, poor guy, he can’t make it up the hill.”

“His glasses were fogging up he was so nervous. I kept thinking he really must not have felt well,” Brzezinski said.

Scarborough then plopped down on one knee with an oval-shaped diamond ring set in platinum that he’d been hiding in his suitcase for days and asked her to marry him. “When I saw him on one knee, I started laughing nervously, almost hysterically,” she said. “And then he asked, and I said, ‘Absolutely.’ ”

Mika says she suspected the trip’s secret purpose when she saw the hotel, a fairy-tale spot that they said was the nicest place they’ve ever been. But when the first night came and went, and nothing happened, she told herself to stop being crazy. “He can’t keep a secret,” she said. “He just can’t. He always blurts stuff out.”

Scarborough concedes the point. “It would have been more like me to tell her on the way over,” he said. He thought about doing it when he drove her to Monaco in a convertible for a few hours, bringing the ring with him on the ride. But he didn’t feel it was the right place once he got there, and he was happy that he waited. When he put the ring on her finger, he said it looked perfect. “It looked like it was meant to be there.”

Scarborough, who said he broached the topic of marriage with Brzezinski casually a few months ago, said it’s been quite a long ride, and an unexpected one, given that he has been married two times before. “It’s the one part of my life that unfortunately I haven’t gotten right in the past,” Scarborough told me. “I thought after the last time that I would never, ever do this again in a million years,” he said. “Then it occurred to me that with us working together and being live on the air every day for three hours that we were forced, no matter what disagreements we had, what misunderstandings we had, to work through it and get right with each other by 5:59 A.M.”

He continued: “I was talking to a friend a couple months ago, asking if this was stupid. Am I making a terrible mistake? They said that no, that we had extraordinary training on getting through difficult times together, and it’ll only make us a stronger couple and stronger in married life.”

As many in their station know, secrecy can make public life easier. And days later, they are still somewhat uneasy about their decision to bring their relationship public for the first time. Between them, there are six children, several exes, executives, not to mention their little universe of politics, and their audience. “We know that our kids have a lot of options about what they read about us. We wanted to do one interview on the record. To answer the question is just as important for them as it is for us, to say it once that we’re together and we want to be together forever.”

After the one question come many others. Scarborough and Brzezinski still do not officially live together. The couple says they are right now doing a lot of racing around, wondering how to blend their households, where they will find space for their combined three dogs, three cats, two rabbits, and chickens. They have no idea if the news will alter the show’s dynamic now that that alluring, flirty, are-they-aren’t-they tension balloon will be popped for them. Nor do they know how it will impact the newsroom. As one longtime cable-news executive familiar with conversations within MSNBC told me, this certainly makes managing the show trickier. “Joe is MSNBC,” he said. “He’s as important to the network as anyone. And no one wants to be the one to give the most important guy’s wife notes.” (MSNBC declined to comment for the story, as it is about the anchors’ personal life.)

But for two people whose professional lives have been engulfing, this is one moment when other concerns are central. “We want to spend the rest of our lives together and that’s more important than what management will think and critics will think or anybody else,” Scarborough said.

Wedding plans are still up in the air, too. They have already ruled one idea out, however. In January, when they went to visit Donald Trump in the White House just a little more than a week after his inauguration, Scarborough and Brzezinski sat down for lunch with the president, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner, ostensibly to talk to their longtime friend about his first week in office and issues related to women. Once the fish and scalloped potatoes had been served, and special sauces delivered directly to Trump were placed on the table, the couple said that the president came up with an idea: If they planned on getting married, they should consider doing so at Mar-a-Lago or the White House, they recalled. “That’s when Jared interrupted and said, ‘Hey, you know what? I’ve got my license. I could marry you,’” Scarborough said. (A White House spokeswoman had no comment.)

According to Scarborough, that’s when Trump snapped from the end of the table, saying: “Why would you marry them? They could have the President of the United States marry them.”

I asked them if they would consider the offer now that they are engaged. “The White House that I grew up in was an amazing place. If it weren’t Trump, it might be something to think about,” Brzezinski said. “The mental picture is just fascinating, but the reality is just . . . no. No, no, no, no, no.”

Full ScreenPhotos:Famous Couples Who Pulled Off Secret Weddings

Amanda Seyfried and Thomas Sadoski

“We eloped. We just took off into the country with an officiant, and just the two of us, and we did our thing,” Sadoski told James Corden in March 2017. “It was just the two of us talking to each other,” the actor continued after Corden asked if they wrote their own vows. “Then you take the dog, and you walk through the country. And you go home, and you have your life.”

Photo: by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivier Sarkozy

According to Page Six, attendees at Sarkozy and Olsen’s November 2015 wedding were required to turn in their cell phones before the wedding. Their nuptials are now infamous for reportedly featuring “bowls and bowls of cigarettes” on the tables.

Photo: by James Devaney/WireImage.

Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston

“It was just everything we wanted it to be, and [we are] very happy that we didn’t have to see our faces on the cover of a magazine,” Aniston told Yahoo Beauty about her wedding to Theroux in August 2015. They were so serious about privacy that they reportedly told guests they were attending a party for Theroux’s birthday. The ol’ wedding bait-and-switch. “Guests were certainly surprised,” a source told People.

Photo: by Kevin Mazur/VF13/WireImage.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher

“It was a ninja effort,” Kutcher told Ellen DeGeneres about the couple’s July 2015 wedding. “We really didn’t want helicopters at our wedding and it’s a legitimate concern. So I was like posting things on social media that we were in different locations to avoid [people and noise]. We didn’t want to be screaming our vows at each other . . . We went really under the radar with it.”

Photo: by Noel Vasquez/GC Images.

Jay Z and Beyoncé

The number four is of extreme importance to Jay and Bey. Her birthday is September 4, his is December 4, and they were married on April 4, 2008 (as in 4/4). They both have IV (the Roman numerals for the number) tattooed on their ring fingers. They hadn’t yet confirmed their nuptials when news of the top-secret ceremony broke weeks after it had happened, and they had even attended his assistant’s wedding just three days before their own—perhaps to throw the media off the trail. Years later, they shared never-before-seen footage of their wedding during the On the Run tour.

Photo: by Lester Cohen/Getty Images.

Danny Moder and Julia Roberts

Friends and family members responded to an invitation saying they would be celebrating Independence Day, and arrived at Roberts’s ranch in New Mexico to do just that. After hours of frolicking in the hot sun, Roberts asked the guests to stay later. Per People, the actual wedding took place around midnight, after Moder got down on one knee and asked Roberts to marry him in front of everyone they love. Their “stealth nuptials” were on July 4, 2002.

Photo: by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.

Charlie Hunnam and Katharine Towne

In an April 2017 interview, Hunnam revealed that he and Towne, whom he had met at a Dawson’s Creek audition and had known for three weeks, got hitched in a quickie ceremony in Las Vegas. Hunnam described their marriage as “three terrible, painful expensive years.”

Photo: Right, by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images; right, by Charley Gallay/WireImage via Getty Images.

Amanda Seyfried and Thomas Sadoski

Amanda Seyfried and Thomas Sadoski

“We eloped. We just took off into the country with an officiant, and just the two of us, and we did our thing,” Sadoski told James Corden in March 2017. “It was just the two of us talking to each other,” the actor continued after Corden asked if they wrote their own vows. “Then you take the dog, and you walk through the country. And you go home, and you have your life.”

by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivier Sarkozy

Mary-Kate Olsen and Olivier Sarkozy

According to Page Six, attendees at Sarkozy and Olsen’s November 2015 wedding were required to turn in their cell phones before the wedding. Their nuptials are now infamous for reportedly featuring “bowls and bowls of cigarettes” on the tables.

by James Devaney/WireImage.

Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston

Justin Theroux and Jennifer Aniston

“It was just everything we wanted it to be, and [we are] very happy that we didn’t have to see our faces on the cover of a magazine,” Aniston told Yahoo Beauty about her wedding to Theroux in August 2015. They were so serious about privacy that they reportedly told guests they were attending a party for Theroux’s birthday. The ol’ wedding bait-and-switch. “Guests were certainly surprised,” a source told People.

by Kevin Mazur/VF13/WireImage.

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher

“It was a ninja effort,” Kutcher told Ellen DeGeneres about the couple’s July 2015 wedding. “We really didn’t want helicopters at our wedding and it’s a legitimate concern. So I was like posting things on social media that we were in different locations to avoid [people and noise]. We didn’t want to be screaming our vows at each other . . . We went really under the radar with it.”

by Noel Vasquez/GC Images.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

“No one in Correns knew a thing,” an official from the French village told People about the couple’s August 2014 wedding at Château Miraval, the then-couple’s vineyard. At the time, Pitt and Jolie had been engaged for two years and had six children.

by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Adam Brody and Leighton Meester

Adam Brody and Leighton Meester

Neither Brody nor Meester publicly commented on their courtship, engagement, or wedding. Us Weekly relied on “multiple sources” to confirm that the two (a match between The O.C.’s Seth Cohen and Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf made in millennial television heaven) had wed in February 2014. They also kept quiet about Meester’s pregnancy until after welcoming daughter Arlo Day Brody in September 2015.

by Todd Williamson/Getty Images.

Kerry Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha

Kerry Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha

The couple wed in an extremely private ceremony in Hailey, Idaho, in June 2013. Washington’s parents were listed as witnesses on the marriage license.

by David X Prutting/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds

Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds

Lively and Reynolds kept their relationship a secret, and their wedding followed that protocol. Neither of their reps would confirm they’d tied the knot in September 2012, although photos from the event would later appear in Martha Stewart Weddings, though even they couldn’t include actual pictures of the bride and groom .

by Anthony Harvey/FilmMagic.

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz

Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz

Another famously private couple, Weisz and Craig married in front of just four people in New York in June 2011. The Daily Mail, which was first to report that the couple had wed, noted that the two “strenuously denied they were together” when first linked in November 2010.

by Alberto Rodriguez/NBC/NBC.

Jay Z and Beyoncé

Jay Z and Beyoncé

The number four is of extreme importance to Jay and Bey. Her birthday is September 4, his is December 4, and they were married on April 4, 2008 (as in 4/4). They both have IV (the Roman numerals for the number) tattooed on their ring fingers. They hadn’t yet confirmed their nuptials when news of the top-secret ceremony broke weeks after it had happened, and they had even attended his assistant’s wedding just three days before their own—perhaps to throw the media off the trail. Years later, they shared never-before-seen footage of their wedding during the On the Run tour.

by Lester Cohen/Getty Images.

Danny Moder and Julia Roberts

Danny Moder and Julia Roberts

Friends and family members responded to an invitation saying they would be celebrating Independence Day, and arrived at Roberts’s ranch in New Mexico to do just that. After hours of frolicking in the hot sun, Roberts asked the guests to stay later. Per People, the actual wedding took place around midnight, after Moder got down on one knee and asked Roberts to marry him in front of everyone they love. Their “stealth nuptials” were on July 4, 2002.

by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images.

Charlie Hunnam and Katharine Towne

Charlie Hunnam and Katharine Towne

In an April 2017 interview, Hunnam revealed that he and Towne, whom he had met at a Dawson’s Creek audition and had known for three weeks, got hitched in a quickie ceremony in Las Vegas. Hunnam described their marriage as “three terrible, painful expensive years.”

Right, by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images; right, by Charley Gallay/WireImage via Getty Images.

The Flash: Savitar’s identity revealed

Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Tuesday’s episode of The Flash. Read at your own risk!

Savitar’s identity was finally revealed during Tuesday’s episode of The Flash — and it’s safe to say that the hero has truly become the villain.

After finally putting the pieces together, Barry Allen came to the realization that Savitar is actually a future version of himself. Thus, he’s a future Flash, if you will. The “future Flash” bit plays heavily into why viewers should’ve seen this coming all along. Several times this season, Savitar has said things along the lines of, “You are the past, whereas I am the future, Flash.” But if you remove the punctuation, Savitar was literally just telling past Barry his identity.

The reveal somewhat explains how Savitar knew so much about Team Flash, but does not yet fully explain why a future version of Barry would want to kill Iris West (Candice Patton). “You get that in the next episode, and the mystery is ongoing, but obviously Savitar is a version of Barry Allen, a heavily scarred version,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg tells EW.

“What’s really cool for anyone who thought that there wasn’t a plan, or we didn’t know, or we were making this up as we go, this was always where we were heading,” Kreisberg says. “The idea that the darkest villain we could come up with was actually a very damaged version of our hero was interesting and fresh to us. We’re not only competing with all the stuff that we’ve done on Flash, but we’re always competing with everything we’ve done on all the other shows. So to have our lead actor be both the hero and the villain isn’t something we’ve done before, so that was exciting for us as storytellers.”

While upcoming episodes will provide answers, they will also raise an interesting conundrum for the current Barry Allen. “In an upcoming episode, when Barry is talking about Savitar, he says that so many of these bad guys that we’ve fought, I didn’t understand why they were doing what they were doing,” Kreisberg says. “They just seemed to be filled with so much hate and anger and did terrible things, I would look at them and be like, ‘Why are you doing this?’ But when Barry looks at Savitar, he sees it and he kind of understands it.”

Pointing to stories throughout history, Kreisberg says, “Usually the hero and the villain have the same backstory, just one took the pain and tragedy that they were subjected to and it girded them into wanting to do good and become a hero, and with the villain, it damaged them so badly [that] they wanted to make everybody hurt as badly as they did. Barry sees in Savitar that he could’ve gone down that path, too, but he had Iris, Joe, Cisco, Caitlin, his father, he had the memory of his mother — he had all of these things that helped mold him into the hero that he is. Savitar lost all that.”

“It’s a real ‘There but for the grace of God go I,’” Kreisberg continues. “It creates an interesting paradigm because Savitar has probably done as much, if not more, to hurt them as any villain they’ve ever come up against, and yet Barry has a measure of sympathy for him. It’s a really interesting new dynamic that’s certainly very different from his relationship with Wells/Thawne in season 1 and Zoom in season 2.”

The dynamic also provides a unique opportunity for Gustin to continue acting off himself after a stellar performance during The Flash‘s recent trip to the future. “What’s so amazing about these last few episodes, especially when you think about it in terms of ‘Once and Future Flash,’ is Grant made the future Flash a very distinct character,” Kreisberg says. “He does the same with Savitar, especially in scenes where he has to act with himself. If everything Grant has done up until now, including the musical, hasn’t blown you away with his talent, I think when you see scenes of him and Savitar together, you’re really going to be blown away because he’s found a whole new speed for him.”

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

Mulvaney responds to Jimmy Kimmel’s health care plea

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney responded Wednesday to a heartfelt appeal to lawmakers by late-night host Jimmy Kimmel that children not be denied care because of pre-existing conditions – with Mulvaney saying he agrees, and Republicans aren’t looking to kick people off their health care. 

“Everyone, I think, agrees with Jimmy Kimmel that we have enough money in this country to provide care for those type of folks,” he told “Fox & Friends.” 

Kimmel, host of “The Jimmy Kimmel Show,” choked up Monday night as he told the story of his son’s birth and subsequent health scare, which revealed he had a heart defect requiring urgent surgery. After telling his story, he urged lawmakers discussing health care reform on Capitol Hill to work together to make sure no child can be denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition.

“Before 2014, if you were born with congenital heart disease like my son was, there was a good chance you would never be able to get health insurance because you were born with a pre-existing condition,” he said.

“If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that if you’re a Democrat or a Republican, we all agree on that, we do,” he said, adding that lawmakers in Washington need to understand that.

“Don’t let their partisan squabbles divide us on something every decent person wants, we need to take care of each other,” Kimmel said. “No parent should have to ever decide if they can afford to save their child’s life, it just shouldn’t happen, not here.”

Democrats leapt on Kimmel’s viral remarks – which had already picked up over 7 million hits on YouTube alone – to pressure Republicans over a new health bill in the works which is struggling to attract enough support.

“Well said, Jimmy. That’s exactly why we fought so hard for the ACA, and why we need to protect it for kids like Billy. And congratulations!” former President Barack Obama tweeted.

Hillary Clinton also weighed in on Kimmel’s remarks.

But Mulvaney said on “Fox & Friends” that Kimmel’s call is something that everyone agrees on.

“I don’t think the logical conclusion is that, ‘Oh, by the way, Republicans are going to kick these people off of health care.’ That’s not the point,” he said. 

Kimmel’s remarks have drawn focus in particular to Republican plans to allow states to weaken protections that prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

The current bill includes a provision by which companies can charge more, or deny coverage, to those with pre-existing conditions as long as states create high-risk pools for those affected. Some more centrist Republicans have declined to back the bill in the House because of the provision, making it unclear if the bill can pass before a looming recess.

But Mulvaney said the plan wasn’t so much about weakening protections, but giving states more power to take control of health care for their people.

“The point behind the state waiver program is that state governments know how to treat children like the Kimmel baby better than the federal government does,” he said.

“If we give more control to the states they can figure out a way to best provide for children like Mr. Kimmel’s baby,” he said. 

Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.

Hulu Announces Marvel’s Runaways and Much More!

Hulu Announces Marvel's Runaways, Handmaid's Tale Season 2 & More!

Hulu announces Marvel’s Runaways, Handmaid’s Tale Season 2 & more!

Today at the Hulu Upfront Presentation at Madison Square Garden Theater, the company announced a multitude of innovative advertising tools, original series orders and content licensing agreements, and reported significant audience growth to 47 million total unique viewers. Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins, SVP of Advertising Sales Peter Naylor and SVP and Head of Content Craig Erwich took the stage to unveil the company’s newest advances in technology, content and advertising, alongside Hulu Original Series like Marvel’s Runaways, with talent including J.J. Abrams, Elisabeth Moss, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Sarah Silverman, Mindy Kaling, Jeff Daniels and Josh Hutcherson.

“As we expand our business to offer live TV, we’re also more than doubling our investment in original programming and exclusively licensed content to continue growing our premium streaming library,” said Hopkins. “Coupled with all of the new product and measurement solutions we’re offering advertisers, Hulu is delivering the most compelling, engaging and valuable TV experience to consumers and brands alike.”

Hulu’s 2017 Upfront announcements include:

Hulu Original Series The Handmaid’s Tale Renewed for Season 2

On the heels of its extraordinary week one premiere, Hulu is pleased to announce that it has picked up The Handmaid’s Tale for a second season, set to debut in 2018.

Based on the award-winning, best-selling novel of the same name by Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale premiere has been watched by more Hulu viewers than any other series premiere – original or acquired – on the service, drawing acclaim from both fans and critics.

“The response we’ve seen to ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ in just one week since its premiere has been absolutely incredible. It has been an honor to work with this talented team of cast and creators to develop a series that has struck such a chord with audiences across the country,” said Erwich. “As we continue to expand our strong slate of original programming, The Handmaid’s Tale is exactly the type of gripping and thought-provoking storytelling we want to bring to viewers. We can’t wait to explore the world of Gilead and continue Margaret’s vision with another season on Hulu.”

The Handmaid’s Tale follows the story of life in the dystopia of Gilead, a totalitarian society in what was formerly part of the United States. The series is created, executive produced and written for television by Bruce Miller (The 100), who serves as the series’ showrunner. The Handmaid’s Tale is executive produced by Miller, Warren Littlefield (Fargo), Daniel Wilson, Fran Sears and Ilene Chaiken. Margaret Atwood is a consulting producer for the series. The Handmaid’s Tale is produced by MGM Television and marks the first collaboration for an original series between Hulu and MGM.

 

Gripping Drama Series The First and Marvel’s Runaways Ordered to Series

Today, Hulu announced the addition of two new series to its slate of original programming.

The streaming service has picked up Marvel’s Runaways in its first series order with Marvel Television. The fan-favorite and groundbreaking comic book series will be brought to life on Hulu by the team behind The O.C. and Gossip Girl, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage. Schwartz and Savage will serve as Co-Showrunners/writers and will executive produce the series along with Marvel’s Jeph Loeb and Jim Chory.

Marvel’s Runaways is the story of six diverse teenagers who can barely stand each other but who must unite against a common foe – their parents. The popular classic explores the younger side of the Marvel Universe in a coming of age, new action series that will premiere on Hulu in the winter.

In addition, Hulu announced a straight-to-series order for The First (working title), a drama set in the near future about the first human mission to Mars. The series is created and written by Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe, and BAFTA Award-nominated Beau Willimon (House of Cards, Ides of March), who also serves as executive producer alongside his producing partner Jordan Tappis.

The First explores the challenges of taking the first steps toward interplanetary colonization. “It’s a story about the human spirit,” said Willimon. “About our indomitable need to reach for unknown horizons. About people working toward the greatest pioneering achievement in human history. And about the cost of that vision, the danger and sacrifice – emotional, psychological, and physical – that’s required to achieve it. How ordinary, imperfect people band together and overcome a myriad of obstacles to grasp the extraordinary.”

The series will go into production later this year and is slated to premiere on Hulu in 2018. Westward Productions – founded by Willimon and Tappis – will own and produce The First. The series will be co-financed by Hulu, Channel 4 and IMG.

The First and Runaways join Hulu’s growing original programming slate, which includes The Handmaid’s Tale, The Looming Tower, Future Man, The Mindy Project, I Live You, America, National Treasue, Casual, The Path, Difficult People, Shut Eye and Chance.

Award Winning FX Series Atlanta to Stream Exclusively On Hulu

Today, Hulu also announced that it will be the exclusive subscription streaming home to FX’s award-winning, breakout freshman comedy series, Atlanta.

Following its critically-acclaimed first season on FX, Atlanta took home two 2017 Golden Globe Awards for Best TV Comedy series and Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy for star Donald Glover. The complete first season of the series will become available to stream exclusively on Hulu ahead of its second season premiere, slated for 2018 on FX, and subsequent seasons will become available to stream on Hulu following their run on FX.

Atlanta follows two cousins who work through the Atlanta music scene in order to better their lives and the lives of their families. The series stars Donald Glover, who also serves as Executive Producer, along with Paul Simms and Dianne McGunigle. Atlanta is produced by FX Productions.

The series comes to Hulu through a robust, multi-year output agreement with Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution that was first announced in December 2014. The landmark agreement granted Hulu the exclusive subscription video on-demand rights to FX Networks’ Original Series produced by FX Productions. In addition to Atlanta, the deal locked in the subscription video on-demand rights to popular series including You’re The Worst, Baskets and more.

Alec Baldwin Cast as a Guest Star in Hulu’s Original New Drama Series The Looming Tower

Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Alec Baldwin has been cast to guest star in Hulu’s The Looming Tower as George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence for the CIA. He is Richard Clarke’s (Michael Stuhlbarg) partner in fighting al-Qaeda, though he may know more than he is letting on. Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning 9/11 expose will be adapted for television in a new drama series from Legendary Television.

The Looming Tower will be adapted for Hulu as a 10-episode, hour-long drama series from Academy Award-nominated Writer Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher, Capote) and Academy Award and Emmy Award winning Director Alex Gibney (Going Clear: Scientology and The Prison of Belief, Taxi to the Dark Side, and We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks). Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning exposé by Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower traces the rising threat of Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, and takes a controversial look at how the rivalry between the CIA and FBI may have inadvertently set the stage for the tragedy of 9/11 and the war in Iraq.

Futterman, Gibney and Wright will serve as executive producers. The Looming Tower is a Legendary Television production for Hulu in the U.S. Legendary Television Distribution will distribute the series worldwide.

The cast of The Looming Tower includes Jeff Daniels (John O’Neill), Tahar Rahim (Ali Soufan), Peter Sarsgaard (Martin Schmidt), Michael Stuhlbarg (Richard Clarke), Bill Camp (Robert Chesney), Virginia Kull (Kathy Shaughnessy), Louis Cancelmi (Vince Stuart), Ella Rae Peck (Heather), Sullivan Jones (Floyd Bennet) and Wrenn Schmidt (Diane Priest). Principal photography began today in New York.

hulubar

Hulu Launches New Live TV Streaming Service

This morning, during its annual Upfront presentation, Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins announced the launch of the company’s brand new live TV streaming beta service, along with its groundbreaking new user experience, to the public. Beginning today, viewers who subscribe to the Hulu with Live TV (Beta) plan can enjoy live and on demand programming from more than 50 popular sports, news, entertainment and kids’ channels — plus Hulu’s deep existing premium streaming library — all for $39.99 per month, with no setup costs or hidden fees. This includes 50 hours of recording storage, up to six individual profiles and two simultaneous streams per account, with options to upgrade to an enhanced Cloud DVR and unlimited in-home screens.

The company also announced a new affiliate agreement with lifestyle media leader Scripps Networks Interactive to bring its popular networks, including HGTV, Travel Channel and Food Network, to both Hulu’s new live service and existing premium streaming offering.

“Nearly a decade ago, Hulu forever redefined the way people watch TV. Today, as we add live sports, news and entertainment and introduce a more intuitive Hulu, we want to redefine the way people experience TV,” said Hopkins. “By bringing together thousands of live, on-demand and library shows and movies — and serving them up in a uniquely personalized way – Hulu can now be a viewer’s primary source of television. It’s a natural extension of our business, and an exciting new chapter for Hulu.”

“We have always believed that TV should fit your lifestyle, not the other way around,” said Ben Smith, Hulu’s SVP and Head of Experience. “You shouldn’t have to think about whether something is live, recorded or on demand, or care about which device you’re using. TV is about connecting with the shows, movies and sports you love – and we want to make that really easy for you, no matter where you’re watching.”

Live and On Demand Channels, Originals and Library TV — All in One Place

With today’s launch, Hulu becomes the only pay-TV service to offer live and on demand channels, original series and films, and a library of premium streaming TV shows and movies, all in one place. This includes content from the four major broadcast networks, ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, with local live broadcast affiliate programming immediately available in many markets, with more to follow; the biggest live sporting events from top pro and college leagues on channels including CBS Sports, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports and TNT, as well as regional sports networks available in many markets; top news channels CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and MSNBC; popular lifestyle programming from Bravo, E!, Food Network, HGTV and Travel Channel; and fan favorites like A&E, Cartoon Network/Adult Swim, Disney Channel, Freeform, FX, HISTORY, Lifetime, National Geographic, TBS, USA Network, Viceland and more.

In addition, the $39.99 per month base package includes Hulu’s existing $7.99 premium streaming offering with limited commercials, which offers more than 3500 TV and film titles — and now includes full seasons of Scripps Networks series — as well as acclaimed Hulu Originals such as The Path, The Mindy Project, Golden Globe-nominated comedy Casual, and 2017’s most talked-about new series, The Handmaid’s Tale. Viewers who wish to watch their Hulu Originals, movies, and library content without advertising can subscribe to the company’s on-demand No Commercials plan for an additional $4.00 per month.

TV That Gets You

Hulu now features an easy-to-use, intuitive interface that seamlessly blends together live, recorded and on-demand content. From creating a personal profile to picking favorite TV shows, news channels and movies, Hulu makes it easy for viewers to watch what they love and enjoy the same personalized experience whether they’re at home on the couch or catching up on the go. The more a viewer watches, the more tailored the service gets, adjusting its recommendations based not only on the content they consume, but also time of day and which device they’re using.

For sports lovers, it is especially easy and convenient to customize the Hulu experience. Subscribers to the Hulu with Live TV (Beta) plan can follow their favorite major pro and college teams from leagues including the NFL, NBA, NCAA, MLB, MLS and NHL — and Hulu will surface and record those games live, subject to availability. There is no longer any need to know what channel the game is on.

Hulu also offers a “Kids Mode” for families with children. Setting up a profile in Kids Mode allows young viewers to enjoy Hulu’s full array of kid-friendly programming, without the ability to search or browse the rest of the Hulu catalogue.

All subscribers to the Hulu with Live TV (Beta) plan will automatically get to experience Hulu’s new interface. For Hulu subscribers who do not opt for live TV, the new interface is currently available on Xbox One, Apple TV (4th Gen.) and Android mobile devices.

Premium and Feature Add-Ons

Hulu viewers who choose the Hulu with Live TV (Beta) Plan can further enhance their Hulu experience by choosing premium content or feature add-ons that best fit their lifestyle:

Enhanced Cloud DVR ($14.99/month): Subscribers can upgrade to 200 hours of recording storage and more powerful cloud DVR capabilities, allowing them to record as many shows as they want to at the same time and watch from anywhere — no clunky boxes needed. With the Enhanced Cloud DVR, Hulu will record new episodes of any show or games of any team that viewers have designated as a favorite, and they will be able to fast forward through recorded ads.

Unlimited Screens ($14.99/month): Hulu’s Unlimited Screens add-on gives viewers as many simultaneous streams as they want in the home, and three outside the home, so the entire household can enjoy Hulu at any time.

Enhanced Cloud DVR + Unlimited Screens ($19.99/month): Viewers can bundle both product add-ons together and save $10.00.

SHOWTIME ($8.99/month): Fans of SHOWTIME can add the channel, giving them unlimited, on-demand access to all of SHOWTIME’s award-winning original series, box office hits, documentaries and specials.

‘The Dark Tower’: What You Need to Know

Photo

Idris Elba in “The Dark Tower,” due in August.

Credit
Columbia Pictures

It would be tempting to say Hollywood is once again in the Stephen King business but for the fact that it has never left it. In the four decades since the release of “Carrie,” there have been dozens of movie and television adaptations of his novels and short stories. This year alone, we will see the evil clown-centric movie “It,” the bondage-gone-wrong Netflix film “Gerald’s Game,” a Spike TV series based on the monster-insect novella “The Mist” and “The Dark Tower.”

Oh, “The Dark Tower.” What many loyal readers of Mr. King see as the magnum opus of his career has had a tortuous road to the big screen. The film, due Aug. 4 after several delays, stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey and is directed by Nikolaj Arcel, whose last film was the 18th-century Danish drama “A Royal Affair.”

Sony Pictures hopes that this is but the first entry in a franchise that can span both movies and television. The story of how “The Dark Tower” was made covers many years. The story of “The Dark Tower” is even more complex. Here are the basics:

What is ‘The Dark Tower’?

It’s a sprawling series of seven novels written between 1982 and 2004. (An eighth interstitial novel was released in 2012.) The first four books were published every four to six years. But after Mr. King was hit by a minivan in 1999 and almost died, he decided to finish the saga lest another accident finish the job. The final three books were published in 2003 and 2004.

Characters from the “Dark Tower” books have frequently appeared in other stories by Mr. King (one of the series villains is also the main antagonist of “The Stand”), and vice versa, effectively making the series the backbone of the author’s oeuvre. Mr. King himself also makes an appearance in the novels, which still comes as a surprise even if you know about it beforehand.

THE DARK TOWER – Official Trailer (HD) Video by Sony Pictures Entertainment

O.K., but what is it actually about?

It is an epic tale about Roland Deschain, a “gunslinger” (think a medieval knight, but with the outward trappings of an American cowboy) who lives in a place called Mid-World, which runs parallel to our own. In that world is a giant black tower that serves as the center of all universes, including our own. But Mid-World has begun to fall apart and, in an effort to save it, Roland must pursue both a bad guy who dresses all in black and the Tower itself.

Photo

The author Stephen King in Paris in 2013.

Credit
Kenzo Tribouillard/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In the film, Mr. Elba plays Roland and Mr. McConaughey plays Walter O’Dim, a.k.a. the Man in Black. They are able to cross back and forth between their world and modern-day Earth, where they encounter Jake Chambers (the newcomer Tom Taylor), a boy who has been having visions of Mid-World.

So it’s a western? a fantasy?

Both! It’s also a sci-fi story and a horror story. There are evil wizards and crystal balls, people who come back to life and vampires and creatures with animal heads who wear human faces. It’s a lot. Mr. King incorporated as many genre elements as possible, and it makes for a fun, though not easy to categorize, experience.

This is still a little confusing. Should I read any of the books beforehand?

Feel free. You should be aware, though, that the film is not a straight adaptation. Rather, it seems to be some combination of the first novel (“The Gunslinger”) and the third (“The Waste Lands”), while also incorporating significant story points from the last book. Reading all seven novels would also mean plowing through nearly 4,000 pages. So there’s that.

There are so many Stephen King movies. Why hasn’t someone tried to make this one before?

Someone has. Several someones. It was initially set to be adapted by the “Lost” collaborators Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof and J. J. Abrams. Then in 2010, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and Brian Grazer — the trio behind “The Da Vinci Code,” among other films — decided to try their hands with a plan to make three movies with Universal starring Javier Bardem as Roland as well as several television seasons that would bridge the story between films. That deal fell apart a year later. But the team found a new studio (Sony) and a new star (Mr. Elba). And while the film’s release date has been twice delayed (from February to July to August), footage screened in April at the annual CinemaCon convention proved that, at the least, Mr. Elba looks tremendous in a leather duster.

Continue reading the main story

Stephen Colbert finally responds to the #firecolbert backlash over Trump joke

Stephen Colbert finally responded Wednesday to online criticism of his off-color joke about President Trump that led to the hashtag #firecolbert and a call to boycott advertisers of the “Late Show,” which the comedian hosts.

“So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” he said during the taping of Wednesday’s broadcast, according to a transcript released by CBS.

“I had a few choice insults for the president … I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight.”

Colbert’s brief response comes after criticism from Trump supporters and conservatives spread on social media in the past two days.

Though President Trump has for months been the target of Colbert’s pointed jokes and mockery, many on social media believe he went too far Monday night in making an oral-sex joke regarding Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

#FireColbert was trending on Twitter Wednesday morning. A new Twitter account called @firecolbert tweeted: “It’s time to #FireColbert! It’s time he be removed from CBS. Let your voice be heard! #Boycott all of Stephen Colbert’s advertisers.” There is also a new website, firecolbert.com.

Colbert made the remark during this monologue Monday night after the president walked out of an interview with CBS News political director John Dickerson, whom Colbert has called a friend.

“Mr. Trump, your presidency, I love your presidency. I call it “Disgrace the Nation.”

“The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c— holster.”

Trump supporters immediately took to Twitter, saying Colbert’s jokes are homophobic.

A spokeswoman from CBS’s “Late Show” and Colbert’s agent did not respond to requests for comment.

Colbert’s monologues have largely focused on Trump, his aides and their gaffes. And his lampooning of the president seems to have paid off.

Just last year, he was trailing far behind Jimmy Fallon’s “The Tonight Show.” Colbert managed to narrow down Fallon’s lead and eventually topped his competition. By late March, Colbert’s show was averaging nearly 3 million viewers, about 400,000 more than Fallon’s.

But as The Washington Post’s Callum Borchers wrote, by joking about oral sex, Colbert “rushed the bro-ternity” of Alex Jones, who once said that Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) “looks like the archetypal c—sucker,” and Jesse Watters, who came under fire for a not-so-subtle joke about Ivanka Trump “speaking into that microphone.”

Sitting on a panel on “The Fox News Specialists” on Tuesday, Karl Rove, who was a senior adviser in the administration of former president George W. Bush, called the jokes “lewd,” “obscene” and “inappropriate.”

“They wrote this. This was not a rant that he came up with on the top of this head. They wrote this,” Rove said, adding later: “I’m going to continue to do what I do with anything Colbert. I’m going to refuse to watch the SOB.”

Many on Twitter demanded an apology.

Others hijacked the trending hashtag with sarcastic jabs at Colbert’s critics:

Colbert began his monologue Monday night by making fun of Trump’s comments about the first 100 days in office, which the president called a “ridiculous standard.”

“Trump has repeatedly said that this 100 days is totally arbitrary, okay. Totally unimportant. And to prove how unimportant it is, he took out a TV ad, he cut a cake on Air Force One, and he held a rally in Pennsylvania,” Colbert said. “The theme of that rally, ‘Promises Made, Promises Kept.’ Which is better than the original slogan, ‘Promises made, never mind, never said it, fake news, watch Fox & Friends.’ ”

He then turned to how Trump abruptly ended the interview with Dickerson, after the “Face the Nation” host asked him if he stands by his claims that President Barack Obama had wiretapped him.

Trump’s response to the question was replayed on Colbert’s show:

“I don’t stand by anything,” Trump told Dickerson.

That’s when Colbert said: “It’s true. He doesn’t stand by anything except the dressing room door at Miss USA Pageant. … Who needs a lotion?”

But it was Trump telling Dickerson that he was a purveyor of “fake news” and calling his show “Deface the Nation” that seems to have set Colbert off.

In an interview Wednesday with Newsmax TV, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency does not get into the business of regulating content. The Supreme Court, he said, has placed some limits on the authority of the FCC, which regulates communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable.

“It’s a free country. People are willing and able to say just about anything these days,” Pai said, adding later that unless a content is indecent, obscene or profane by FCC standards, the agency’s authority is “pretty limited.”

Full statement:

CBS sent out a transcript of the top of Colbert’s Wednesday night show, which taped earlier in the day. He addressed the controversy in the opening moment, joking, “Welcome to ‘The Late Show.’ I’m your host, Stephen Colbert. Still? I am still the host? I’m still the host!!”

He went on: “Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine. So at the end of that monologue I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight.”

“So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” he concluded. “I’m not going to repeat the phrase, but I just want to say for the record, life is short, and anyone who expresses their love for another person, in their own way, is to me, an American hero. I think we can all agree on that. I hope even the president and I can agree on that. Nothing else. But, that.”

This post has been updated.

President Trump is closing in on the first 100 days of his presidency. Late-night comedians Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers and others check in with how he’s been doing. (The Washington Post)

Read more:

Colbert may support gay rights, but that doesn’t mean he gets to make gay jokes

Colbert mocks Bannon, Miller, other Trump aides: ‘It’s a rough time for the Stephen community’

Stephen Colbert taunts Trump with a picture of a little girl posing as the president

Stephen Colbert annotated Trump’s speech — and destroyed Kellyanne Conway in the process

Why Brad Pitt Won the Jolie-Pitt War by Throwing Himself on His Sword

Raw is a good look for Brad Pitt.

While we’re fairly used to female stars turning the hindsight light inward in order to publicly purge the demons of a failed relationship, fewer and far between are the moments when a man willingly steps up and flays himself for all to savor.

And Pitt didn’t have to do that. All signs pointed to him having built up enough of a pre-split reputation, both among his Hollywood peers and his fans, that even the zero-to-100 breakdown of his marriage to Angelina Jolieand the custody issues that ensued would only be a temporary blip in the court of public opinion.

His warm reception at the Golden Globes, the ovation that even the star himself looked surprised by, was an indicator back in January that no one was buying the idea of Brad-as-villain, as someone who was “terrified” for the truth to come out, as Jolie’s court documents claimed.

Jolie was the first to publicly address their divorce back in February, when she and Pitt were actually far further along on the road to rapprochement than it seemed, but Jolie’s comments had all the hallmarks of a most reluctant return to the spotlight.

Which is entirely understandable, of course. She wanted to talk about her latest directorial effort, the Cambodian-set First They Killed My Father, which son Maddox also worked on with her, and it would have been a glaring omission had she forbid the BBC or ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos from asking about her divorce.

So, she gamely yet reservedly answered a few questions about the state of her family and, more memorably, whether she still thought Pitt was a wonderful father.

“Of course, of course,” she replied, shaking her head slightly. “We will always be a family, always.”

While no one doubted that the devoted parents of six would ultimately pull it together for the sake of their kids, eventually, Jolie’s initial comments on the matter still struck a somewhat mournful tone, as if she was finally providing the proof that the Brangelina era was dead and buried.

Going from the couple who fell in love practically at first sight and remained the couple for 11 years (aka a celebrity eternity) to two removed acquaintances, communicating mainly through lawyers and headlines… it was just a sad moment.

It was also a fairly calculated moment, as Jolie also knew that speaking out first would give her—upper hand is such a cold term—the momentum in readjusting the divorce narrative so it wasn’t all about her seemingly trying to stand between Pitt and his kids.

Jolie had her reasons for initially pursuing full custody of Maddox, Zahara, Shiloh, Pax, Knox and Vivienne Jolie-Pitt, but it couldn’t have been more of a bombshell move to those on the outside. Yet the notion that Pitt must have done something really bad to deserve it—even when he was being investigated (and ultimately never charged) over the argument that occurred aboard their private plane days before Jolie filed—never took off in the public’s hearts and minds.

Angelina Jolie

i-Images/PacificCoastNews

It wasn’t that people thought Jolie was making anything up, but for whatever reason, her actions were largely perceived as punitive rather than absolutely necessary. Perhaps it was the enduring portrait of Angelina-as-villainous-vixen still lingering from a decade ago, or just the remaining problematic issue with he-said, she-said, in that it’s still easier for a lot of people to give the “he” the benefit of the doubt. That happens all too often with celebrities.

But there was also the unspoken inclination not to pile on a guy with a substance issue—as Brad has now since admitted to in his unprecedentedly revealing, literally sober look at what went so horribly wrong between him and Jolie.

Brad Pitt, GQ Style

Ryan McGinley exclusively for GQ Style

Which brings us to today and his bombshell interview with GQ Style for its Summer 2017 issue that went public Wednesday.

Pitt’s in therapy now (“I love it,” he said twice) and has quit drinking after realizing he was self-medicating with alcohol to numb himself.

“I was boozing too much. It’s just become a problem,” he acknowledged. “And I’m really happy it’s been half a year now, which is bittersweet, but I’ve got my feelings in my fingertips again. I think that’s part of the human challenge: You either deny them all of your life or you answer them and evolve.”

“Them” being his feelings, which, despite the iconic vessel they’re kept in, are just as human as anybody’s.

Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Cannes

Tony Barson/Getty Images

But despite his recent anger at Jolie for the initially public airing of their dirty laundry, even if it was confined to the hopelessly vague terms of legalese (“He was furious with her in a way he has never been furious before,” a source told E! News), Pitt noticeably did not take the opportunity with GQ to tell an “it takes two to tango” story.

Or not on the record, anyway.

Yet this could have been that time, Pitt’s version of ex Jennifer Aniston‘s infamous “sensitivity chip missing” post-split analysis of him.

Instead, Brad willingly took the blame for the implosion of Brangelina, calling the tortuous road he’s traveled since September “self-inflicted.”

Not that anyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop as far as Angelina’s parenting went, the 41-year-old Oscar winner’s devotion to her family never being in doubt for one second since she adopted Maddox in 2002 and rerouted her famously alluring intensity toward motherhood. But this interview could have been a more obstinate denial of wrongdoing on Pitt’s part.

Brad Pitt, The Lost City of Z

Cook/BEI/REX/Shutterstock

Yet it was quite the opposite. Throwing caution to the wind—and simultaneously capitalizing on 30 years of good will built up in Hollywood—Brad went for it, translating what he’s gleaned from his newfound love of therapy into a painfully self-aware, self-deprecating, oft-poetic (building a fire “makes me feel life”) and at times rambling discourse on a charmed life that veered off course and what he’s doing to right the ship.

The spilling of his guts also makes for a fairly humorous juxtaposition with the accompanying photo shoot (it’s a style magazine, after all), including a pic of Pitt partially buried in the sand wearing a $240 Rick Owens tank top and $790 Bottega Veneta pants.

And we have no doubt that the humor is not lost on Brad Pitt, the guy who grew up surrounded by cornfields in Missouri who became one of the most famous humans on the planet and is now starting over in a way at 53.

Brad Pitt, GQ Style

Ryan McGinley exclusively for GQ Style

His public has never wavered, though. He’s part of the Hollywood firmament. So long as Pitt continued to produce (his Plan B Entertainment was behind both 12 Years a Slave and Moonlight), act (a “very small slice” of his life pie these days, he said) or do just about anything publicly, barring some truly disastrous revelation, his future success was never that much in question.

And neither was Jolie’s, for that matter, her public image having been incrementally set in stone over the years on its own, as she went from self-destructive wild child to full-fledged movie star, earth mother and humanitarian and came out stronger and more fascinating at every turn.

But Pitt’s come-to-Jesus interview is what people are going to remember now—for its sheer length (there’s plenty more to read aside from the divorce portion), for its introspection and philosophizing, for the mild tinge of celebrity self-indulgence, for lack of f–ks given, for the moment when he admitted that being Brad Pitt’s partner in life wasn’t always the stuff dreams are made of.

At least, this is what people will remember until Jolie digs deep. She could be talking, or sitting in hair and makeup for the accompanying glamour shoot, right this minute. Just as it’s been every time she’s gone away for a bit and then reemerged with fresh insight into a harrowing chapter in her life, the result should be nothing short of spectacular.

Fyre Festival Disaster: Industry Vets Weigh in

Like everybody else who watched the wreckage of Fyre Festival, the “luxury” event last weekend in the Bahamas marred by shoddy housing, questionable meals and overall substandard conditions, veteran managers, agents and others in the concert business tell Rolling Stone they couldn’t believe organizers neglected to supply attendees with basic food, water and lodging. Billy McFarland, who created the event with rapper Ja Rule, lamented to Rolling Stone last week that “we tried building a city out of nothing” — but those who put on Bonnaroo, Coachella and other music festivals do such a thing every year. One concert-business source called the festival “completely ass-backwards.” Another said it was “a complete disaster and a lot of people fell for it.”

“Their approach was, ‘We thought up the idea, we put tickets on sale, then we decided on marketing and talent and tried to see if the venue would work,'” says one source who wished to remain anonymous. “The traditional way of promoting a festival is: Find a great site, make sure it works, then select some talent and put together marketing and put tickets on sale. They took the traditional method and did it the opposite way. It seems like you should know if there’s running water before you put on a festival on your site.”

Fyre Festival, ostensibly featuring Blink-182, Migos, Major Lazer and other top acts, drew fans who reportedly paid up to $250,000 apiece for high-end villa packages and gourmet meals. Instead, as festivalgoer Gunnar Wilmot said last week, he and three friends arrived via chartered plane Thursday night to find tents, cheese sandwiches in Styrofoam containers and conditions “like a Syrian refugee camp.” Because a storm on the Exuma islands site canceled and delayed flights, many guests were trapped, some without lodging. Class-action lawsuits, including one for $100 million led by celebrity lawyer Mark Geragos, are starting to roll in.

“They took the traditional method and did it the opposite way,” says one industry vet

Concert-business sources were incredulous that McFarland and Ja Rule apparently neglected to hire any of the companies with experience putting on these kinds of events — from top promoters Live Nation and AEG to remote festival specialists such as CID Entertainment. “Any professional would know 30 to 60 days out that this thing wasn’t happening to the level they were advertising it,” says Bert Holman, the manager for the Allman Brothers Band which had organized the Wanee Festival, in Live Oak, Florida, for years. “I look at the audience like, ‘What are you people thinking? How could you buy tickets for something that doesn’t have a track record? Oh, man, are you guys crazy?’ I think they all got what they deserved.”

Holman has been shocked and amused to follow the Fyre Festival reports since last Thursday — a hired talent producer, who visited the Exuma site in March, deemed it a “mess” before returning home to New York and quitting. “It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable,” he says.

Dave Frey, manager for Cheap Trick who co-owns the annual Lockn’ Festival in Arrington, Virginia, received “is that you?” Facebook messages as the festival debacle was unfolding, with friends mistaking “Fyre” for “Frey.” (He was not involved in Fyre.) Frey couldn’t believe the organizers neglected to properly prepare for such an out-of-the-way gathering. “Any time you have a mass gathering in a remote place where you don’t have infrastructure and you don’t have resources, it’s hard to supply,” he tells Rolling Stone. “Even doing a show in Hawaii is challenging. If you don’t plan it properly, you can pretty much plan on not having the things that you need: ‘Oh yeah, we needed golf carts, I forgot.'”

McFarland told Rolling Stone that he and his other promoters were “a little bit ambitious” and didn’t realize their lack of foresight until a storm hit days before the festival and knocked out its water and sewage facilities.

Others in the concert business were less amused than Holman and expressed worry that the crush of negative media coverage might extend to legitimate, longtime music festivals. “To put those people through apparently what they went through, while kind of hilarious, is actually not,” one of the sources says. “It’s hilarious if you weren’t there.”

“I’m sort of hoping this is a wake-up moment for a lot of people: ‘Oh, it sounds fun launching a music festival,'” the source continues. “Hopefully, people can see it’s a hard thing to do, and maybe they should just leave it to the professionals.”

This source questions the entire concept of Fyre Festival, which made “thousands of offers representing tens of millions of dollars” for celebrity appearances, according to a pitch deck sent to potential investors. According to Fyre’s promotional material, organizers hoped to raise $25 million on “500 exclusive managers” with hopes to “expand Fyre globally.” The source received a copy of the deck earlier this year and chose not to invest: “They definitely were hitting people up for cash way before they had it all secured.”

“I’m sort of hoping this is a wake-up moment for a lot of people,” says one source

In the deck, Ja Rule and McFarland are listed as co-founders, with the rapper responsible for “overall business strategy, guiding creative and facilitating artist relations.” In a statement last Friday, the rapper declared, “This is NOT MY FAULT but I’m taking responsibility.” The Allman Brothers’ Holman wonders if the organizers took the time to protect themselves legally, given the slapdash nature of virtually everything else involved in the festival. “Sounds to me like a lot of this stuff is on the fly,” he says.

“When you look at their teaser videos, all they show is models frolicking in the sun. It barely mentions the music,” adds another concert-business source. “Something of this sort requires at least a year of intensive planning. To go to an island without any infrastructure and build something from scratch, it’s hard for me to pencil out how the finances could work effectively.”

Chloe Gordon, the talent producer who quit working for Fyre Festival in March, said Friday that producers “had a lot of warnings” and “fired everyone along the way that told them it wasn’t feasible.” In his Rolling Stone interview, McFarland was apologetic and acknowledged the promoters were “overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems.” 

Some in the concert business appreciated his contrition, but others criticized the promoters’ hubris for noticing crippling problems in advance but moving forward with the festival anyway. “The plug should have been pulled and it was reckless,” says one of the sources. “There has to be an overarching understanding that it must be safe. It just seems they didn’t even understand that basic priority.” Adds another source: “The fact that they still let people come is crazy.”

Over the last 15 years, the U.S. concert business has followed Europe’s lead in shifting the summer concert business away from traveling festivals such as H.O.R.D.E. and Ozzfest to standalone weekend festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. As these events have become big business, selling out with crowds of up to 90,000 over one or two weekends, smaller festivals have popped up everywhere, from the Roots Picnic in New York City and Philadelphia to the Eaux Claires in tiny Eaux Claire, Wisconsin. They can easily cost tens of millions of dollars to produce, especially when top headliners alone can charge as much as $5 million for individual performances.

One of Fyre Festival’s big miscalculations, says Dennis Arfa, agent for Billy Joel, Metallica and Rod Stewart, was marketing itself as an A-level event. “That’s when the shit hits the fan. This was presented as high-end, and obviously it wasn’t together,” he says. “It was promising people paradise, and they didn’t deliver on paradise.

“The Bonnaroos and the Coachellas and the Governors Balls — we know that those are all legitimate,” Arfa continues. “But then there’s a second layer, and then there’s the tertiary layer, and those are fringes. If you’re working those festivals, you have to know some of them are on a shoestring. Not everyone’s Coachella.”

Holman says the Allman Brothers Band had played questionable events over the years, and came to insist on receiving a 50 percent deposit in advance. He tells horror stories about promoters who didn’t have enough cash in the box office to pay the band the rest of its money after it performed as scheduled and wonders how Fyre Festival’s organizers will have enough assets to settle the lawsuits that have piled up in recent days. 

“I can’t figure out what this thing is. It’s not like they have other festivals,” Holman says. “At the end of the day, when you deal with bad people, bad things happen.”

Organizers “postpone” two-weekend Bahamas fest following reports of feral dogs, threatening security, shoddy housing. Watch here.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Flashback Episode Explained

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the fourth episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundum.”]

Serena Joy’s haunting words at the end of the third episode were true: Things could get much worse for Offred.

The fourth episode of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale picked up nearly two weeks following the last installment, with Offred (Elisabeth Moss) still confined to her room as a result of Serena’s (Yvonne Strahovski) anger that her handmaid hadn’t been pregnant after all. As Offred struggled to maintain her grip on reality, she finally found the infamous saying from Margaret Atwood’s book, “Nolite Te Bastardes Carborundum,” etched into the bottom panel of her closet. (The saying, which roughly translates into “Don’t let the bastards get you down,” has become something of a mantra over the years with feminist movements.)

In a transitional move, the series also flashed back to Moira (Samira Wiley) at the Red Center etching “Aunt Lydia Sux” into the bathroom stall, explaining the importance of leaving traces of hope behind to June as they pondered what their upcoming “postings” would be like.

It didn’t take long for the women to find out, as another flashback scene showcased the handmaids learning how to take their official positions for the ceremony, an unfathomable practice to Moira and June, who subsequently plotted their escape from the center. Unfortunately, while Moira made the train to Boston, June was caught and the two were separated, and June returned to the training camp only to learn a tough lesson about anger thanks to Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd) and Aunt Elizabeth’s (Edie Inksetter) whip-happy ways.

Meanwhile in the present-day storyline, Offred also learned to deal with anger by playing whatever cards she could, including pretending to faint in order to get out of her room and see the doctor (Kristian Brunn) and using her developing relationship with The Commander (Joseph Fiennes) to eventually stop her confinement for good.

The Hollywood Reporter caught up with showrunner Bruce Miller to get his take on Moira’s big escape, the scene’s departure from the book in the wake of the show’s season two pickup, and to break down the ever-evolving rules of Gilead.


Were you aware of the doctors in Detroit being charged with genital mutilation the same week your show featured a similar scene?

Yes, it’s horrifying. Every time something like this happens, I feel slightly responsible because it’s happened in a lot of other ways since we’ve been doing the show. But that was a particularly cruel and hard one to swallow. It’s something you wish was more of an exaggeration.

Offred spends a large amount of time confined to her room this episode; what influenced that structure and storyline?

There was all this stuff in the book that I really loved about Offred exploring her world in the room and it seemed to me like this gave that a little bit of weight. It’s her only entertainment, the only territory she had to keep her sane; it gave that part of the book a little more context. I love watching Offred work her way through the system and find levers of power to pull and succeed. In a weird way, you’re looking for a win in the episode. Nick isn’t coming to her aid. She goes to Serena Joy directly, clearly she isn’t going to help her. And then she goes to The Commander, and she figures out which buttons to push to have him help her get out of her room. So at the end she has a victory. You feel this great rush, like look at this achievement she’s done, but where she is is exactly the f— where she was at the start of the season. What we considered hell at the beginning of the season is suddenly a place of victory and salvation for her to get back to. It’s interesting and really puts us in Offred’s head.

What does this say about Serena and how Offred approaches her moving forward?

We were following Serena Joy’s anger; what would Serena Joy do to Offred to punish her after she feels like she was betrayed and humiliated? Serena Joy has a very complicated, emotional life. Whatever blame she has, she’s putting on Offred. From the Serena Joy aspect, it’s saying two things: that she gets angry, and she has a lot of trouble letting go of that anger even if she wants to let go of it. It’s been two weeks and Offred is still in her room, and she can’t let it go. Offred is filing that aspect of Serena’s personality away knowing it can help or hurt, but she’s learned something about her commander’s wife: she is someone who, once she’s mad, she’s mad. And she’s going to have a lot of trouble either through pride or whatever of letting that go.


Was there ever any discussion around whether to blame Aunt Lydia for a miscarriage following the physical altercation at the house?

We did talk about it. We never thought that it would have caused a miscarriage, but after seeing it play out, we thought about it. It plays a lot more vicious than we actually wrote it. But it seemed to me that whatever the aunts use to control the handmaids is probably something that would never or could never affect their fertility, so I imagine she’s pretty comfortable that just shocking her is not going to do that. But yes — after we saw that scene it was just one of those things where we were like, “Oh my gosh, that does look a lot more harsh than we thought it might.” So we thought about it but we didn’t pursue it; we were pretty far down the road after that. I don’’t think she ever was pregnant. She certainly didn’t feel pregnant. My sense is she might have had an inkling at least; she had been pregnant before, she knows what it feels like.

In the novel, handmaids go to the doctor’s once a month. Why not make that part of the routine and use it as a stand-alone instead, and could that doctor return?

I figure she does go to the doctor every month just like in the book. We were trying to use it for a little more story and to have her be clever about trying to get herself out of the house for a break. In the book, it was incredibly impactful, but it did live off on its own. Kristian was terrific and had such a great face. It was a difficult part because he was behind the glass the whole time. Gilead’s a small world so we can see anybody else again that we need to. He had a really interesting role as someone who was an expert in an area where they really needed an expert, and maybe they would let it slide that maybe he wasn’t completely, 100 percent faithful.

This episode showcased Moira’s big escape. Why did you choose to have Offred go with her given that she stays put in the book?

The Offred we drew on the show — even though she’s a little tentative about the idea of escaping — is an updating of the character from the book. The Offred we have in this world is someone who would have joined her in the escape; it would have been something they did together. It cemented their friendship, and if that’s the last time they see each other, it’s a really complicated moment for both of them. On the one hand, you really want to see and feel the emotions of the escape and see Offred having tried it so you understand why she isn’t trying it again all the time. And the other part of it is because we want to be there with Moira. The way that it underlines how important their friendship is and how close they were to getting away together. There’s all sorts of things in there that underline the closeness of their relationship and keep that character of Moira alive as Offred’s kind of spirit animal and guide and inspiration moving forward.


They were both shocked at the outside world; how long had they been in the Red Center at that point?

They’d probably been there for at least a month, maybe a little bit longer. We’ll get more sense of the timeline of what things were like in Boston when June escaped and how long she was on the road before she got caught. It’s not overnight, but certainly the big changes all kind of came in a flood. Cutting off women’s money, passing laws that they couldn’t work. Once those things happened, Gilead showed its face pretty clearly. They started chasing down women at the border and part of that was they had a lot of time to prepare for this. So when they decided to pull the trigger, kind of going public with what was going on behind the scenes, it happened relatively quickly. It made the world fairly unrecognizable fairly quickly.

What are the rules of punishment in Gilead? Would Offred’s whipping have been worse had they hurt Aunt Elizabeth?

There are specific legal rules that they follow. They hang someone for being a gender traitor and those kinds of things, but in this kind of case it is up to the aunts to maintain discipline. If she had hurt Aunt Elizabeth or killed Aunt Elizabeth, then she wouldn’t be punished by the aunts, she would be off with the Eyes and going through trial and being executed. Or going through what they call a trial, which really isn’t a trial. This is a little bit more dealer’s choice. That is one of the reasons why Aunt Lydia turning it over to Aunt Elizabeth is a cruelty, because Aunt Elizabeth has skin in the game and has a personal agenda, so I’m sure she hit a lot harder because of that.

Did you question whether someone who fled would actually be placed in a household so high up as the Commander’s? Would he and Serena expect the “best of the best?”

My sense is that there’s a regional governing committee kind of for New England, probably, and it has a head, a governor and then a bunch of underlings. The Commander is one of the higher level, kind of counsel people. But he also is one of the original sons of Jacob and he was involved in those early decisions. So his experience does bring him a lot of respect. But when they get out of the Red Center — and I’ll bet Offred was probably kept there longer because of that — they’re considered ready to go. Once they get out of there, they need to be broken.

Will these flashbacks ever change perspective to show the world of Gilead developing through someone like The Commander’s or Serena Joy’s eyes?

We do get into that a bit. We have an episode coming up with that. Hopefully at this point, the curiosity is there as we begin to get a little more of the Commander and the politics revealed in a way that isn’t dry. This is very much an Offred story, but we do get some backstory of Serena and the Commander and what they were like before. We want every character to be fleshed out as curiosity guides us. If you start to be curious about Serena Joy, we start fleshing out that character. A lot of it is still told from Offred’s point of view, but it’s one of the great things of doing a TV show as opposed to a novel. Here we have the possibility of circling back and finding out more about everyone. You can keep expanding the world based on people who are in Offred’s world, not only based on Offred’s observations.

New episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale are released Wednesdays on Hulu, and a second season has been officially confirmed. Thoughts? Sound off in the comments below. Bookmark THR.com/HandmaidsTale for full coverage.

Twitter: @amber_dowling