2019 New York Film Festival: ‘The Irishman’ is the opening-night film

July 29, 2019

Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in "The Irishman"
Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro in “The Irishman” (Photo by Niko Tavernise/Netflix)

The following is a press release from the Film at Lincoln Center:

Film at Lincoln Center announces Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” as Opening Night of the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13), making its World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on Friday, September 27, 2019. “The Irishman” will be released in select theaters and on Netflix later this year.

“The Irishman” is a richly textured epic of American crime, a dense, complex story told with astonishing fluidity. Based on Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book “I Heard You Paint Houses,” it is a film about friendship and loyalty between men who commit unspeakable acts and turn on a dime against each other, and the possibility of redemption in a world where it seems as distant as the moon. The roster of talent behind and in front of the camera is astonishing, and at the core of “The Irishman” are four great artists collectively hitting a new peak: Joe Pesci as Pennsylvania mob boss Russell Bufalino, Al Pacino as Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa, and Robert De Niro as their right-hand man, Frank Sheeran, each working in the closest harmony imaginable with the film’s incomparable creator, Martin Scorsese.

“’The Irishman’ is so many things: rich, funny, troubling, entertaining and, like all great movies, absolutely singular,” said New York Film Festival Director and Selection Committee Chair Kent Jones. “It’s the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me. All I can say is that the minute it was over my immediate reaction was that I wanted to watch it all over again.”

“It’s an incredible honor that ‘The Irishman’ has been selected as the Opening Night of the New York Film Festival. I greatly admire the bold and visionary selections that the festival presents to audiences year after year,” said Martin Scorsese. “The festival is critical to bringing awareness to cinema from around the world. I am grateful to have the opportunity to premiere my new picture in New York alongside my wonderful cast and crew.”

Campari is the exclusive spirits partner for the 57th New York Film Festival and the presenting partner of Opening Night, extending its long-standing commitment to the world of film and art.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FLC Director of Programming, and Florence Almozini, FLC Associate Director of Programming.

Tickets for the 57th New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on September 8. Festival and VIP passes are on sale now and offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events, including Opening Night. Support for Opening Night of the New York Film Festival benefits Film at Lincoln Center in its non-profit mission to support the art and craft of cinema.

New York Film Festival Opening Night Films

2018 The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/UK/US)
2017 Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater, US)
2016    13TH (Ava DuVernay, US)
2015    The Walk (Robert Zemeckis, US)
2014    Gone Girl (David Fincher, US)
2013    Captain Phillips (Paul Greengrass, US)
2012    Life of Pi (Ang Lee, US)
2011    Carnage (Roman Polanski, France/Poland)
2010    The Social Network (David Fincher, US)
2009    Wild Grass (Alain Resnais, France)
2008    The Class (Laurent Cantet, France)
2007    The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson, US)
2006    The Queen (Stephen Frears, UK)
2005    Good Night, and Good Luck. (George Clooney, US)
2004    Look at Me (Agnès Jaoui, France)
2003    Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, US)
2002    About Schmidt (Alexander Payne, US)
2001    Va savoir (Jacques Rivette, France)
2000    Dancer in the Dark (Lars von Trier, Denmark)
1999    All About My Mother (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1998    Celebrity (Woody Allen, US)
1997    The Ice Storm (Ang Lee, US)
1996    Secrets & Lies (Mike Leigh, UK)
1995    Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou, China)
1994    Pulp Fiction (Quentin Tarantino, US)
1993    Short Cuts (Robert Altman, US)
1992    Olivier Olivier (Agnieszka Holland, France)
1991    The Double Life of Veronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, Poland/France)
1990    Miller’s Crossing (Joel Coen, US)
1989    Too Beautiful for You (Bertrand Blier, France)
1988    Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Pedro Almodóvar, Spain)
1987    Dark Eyes (Nikita Mikhalkov, Soviet Union)
1986    Down by Law (Jim Jarmusch, US)
1985    Ran (Akira Kurosawa, Japan)
1984    Country (Richard Pearce, US)
1983    The Big Chill (Lawrence Kasdan, US)
1982    Veronika Voss (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, West Germany)
1981    Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, UK)
1980    Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme, US)
1979    Luna (Bernardo Bertolucci, Italy/US)
1978    A Wedding (Robert Altman, US)
1977    One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Agnès Varda, France)
1976    Small Change (François Truffaut, France)
1975    Conversation Piece (Luchino Visconti, Italy)
1974    Don’t Cry with Your Mouth Full (Pascal Thomas, France)
1973    Day for Night (François Truffaut, France)
1972    Chloe in the Afternoon (Eric Rohmer, France)
1971    The Debut (Gleb Panfilov, Soviet Union)
1970    The Wild Child (François Truffaut, France)
1969    Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (Paul Mazursky, US)
1968    Capricious Summer (Jiri Menzel, Czechoslovakia)
1967    The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria)
1966    Loves of a Blonde (Milos Forman, Czechoslovakia)
1965    Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard, France)
1964    Hamlet (Grigori Kozintsev, USSR)
1963    The Exterminating Angel (Luis Buñuel, Mexico)


Film at Lincoln Center is dedicated to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema and enriching film culture.

Film at Lincoln Center fulfills its mission through the programming of festivals, series, retrospectives, and new releases; the publication of Film Comment; the presentation of podcasts, talks, and special events; the creation and implementation of Artist Initiatives; and our Film in Education curriculum and screenings. Since its founding in 1969, this nonprofit organization has brought the celebration of American and international film to the world-renowned arts complex Lincoln Center, making the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broad audience, and ensuring that it remains an essential art form for years to come.
Support for the New York Film Festival is generously provided by Official Partners HBO, Campari, and The New York Times, Benefactor Partners Netflix, illy caffè, and Dolby, Supporting Partner Warby Parker, and Contributing Partners Hudson New York-an SBE Hotel and IMDbPro. JCDecaux, Variety, Deadline Hollywood, WNET New York Public Media and Shutterstock serve as Media Sponsors. American Airlines is the Official Airline of Film at Lincoln Center.

Film at Lincoln Center receives generous, year-round support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. For more information, visit www.filmlinc.org and follow @filmlinc on Twitter and Instagram.

2019 51Fest: movie reviews and recaps

July 22, 2019

by Carla Hay

Civitas Public Affairs Group partner Katherine Grainger, Supermajority co-founder Ai-jen Poo, Women in the World founder Tina Brown, Supermajority co-founder Cecile Richards, filmmaker Raphaela Neihausen, filmmaker Yoruba Richen and 51Fest program director Anne Hubbell at the Supermajority panel during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 19, 2019. (Photo by Lou Aguilar/51Fest)

The inaugural 51Fest, a New York City film festival aimed at promoting movies about women, was an inspiring experience and a resounding success: All of the offerings (which took place at IFC Center, except for one screening at the SVA Theatre) sold out, and several stars attended the event, which took place from July 18 to July 21, 2019. The festival, which is presented by feminist organization Women in the World and the independent arthouse cineplex IFC Center gets its name from the fact that women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population and at least half of all moviegoers. All of the selected projects for 51Fest have at least one female producer or a female director. Each screening had a post-screening Q&A with the someone involved in the film, whether it was a star of the movie, a director, a writer and/or producer.

Most of the movies in the first 51Fest lineup already had their world premieres at the Sundance Film Festival or South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, but there are a few offerings that had their world premieres at 51Fest: The first episode of the Netflix limited series “Unbelieable,” a drama starring Toni Collette, Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever, as well as the Netflix comedy film “Otherhood,” starring Angela Bassett, Patricia Arquette and Felicity Huffman.

Tina Brown and Kathy Griffin at the New York premiere of “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story” during 51Fest at SVA Theatre in New York City on July 18, 2019. (Photo by Carlos Sanfer/51Fest)

The opening-night film was “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story,” a documentary chronicling controversial comedian Kathy Griffin’s comeback tour after being blackballed from most of the entertainment industry in 2017 because she posed for a photo holding a fake, bloody head of Donald Trump. “Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story” got mostly positive reviews after its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival. Griffin did a post-screening Q&A with Women in the World founder Tina Brown.

On July, 19, there was a panel called “Women in the World Spotlight: Supermajority,” also moderated by Brown . The panel featured former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards and Ai-jen Poo, the co-founders (along with Alicia Garza) of Supermajority, an activist organization aimed at empowering women. Also on the panel was Civitas Public Affairs Group partner Katherine Grainger. At the panel discussion, filmmaker Yoruba Richen previewed an exclusive clip of the forthcoming documentary “And She Could Be Next,” about a movement of women of color claiming political power.

According to a 51Fest press release: “The conversation highlighted the new organization and centered on the panelists’ personal stories of activism, their plan to shape a ‘New Deal’ for women and elevate women’s stories to where they belong — the center of the stage, the debate and the forefront of change.”

Women in the World founder Tina Brown, and Julianne Moore at the New York premiere of “After the Wedding” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 20, 2019. (Photo by Lou Aguilar/51Fest)

Oscar-winning actress Julianne Moore did a Q&A with moderator Brown after the New York premiere of her dramatic film “After the Wedding.” (Click here to read the entire interview.) “After the Wedding” (a remake of the 2006 Danish film directed by Susanne Bier) is an emotionally riveting movie about three people (played by Moore, Michelle Williams and Billy Crudup) and how they are connected to a family’s secrets and lies that get exposed in the story. The movie is set for release in select U.S. theaters on August 9, 2019.

Several of the movies had their New York premieres at 51 Fest and are based on true stories. They include the dramedy “Brittany Runs a Marathon,” starring Jillian Bell as a woman who enters the New York Marathon to improve her health; the drama “A Girl From Mogadishu” (starring Aja Naomi King), which tackles the difficult subject of female genital mutilation; “Official Secrets,” starring Keira Knightley as British whistleblower Katharine Gun, who exposed U.S. political corruption behind the war in Iraq. All three of the real-life women who inspired these respective movies (Brittany O’Neill, Ifrah Ahmed and Gun) did Q&As after each respective screening.

Besides the Griffin documentary, other non-fiction films at 51Fest were the award-winning documentary “For Sama,” set in war-torn Syria; “Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins” about the late columnist/outspoken political commentator Molly Ivins; and “Untouchable,” an examination of the rise and fall of disgraced entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein and the female accusers who say that Weinstein sexually harassed or sexually abused them.

As for the two world premieres at 51Fest (“Unbelievable” and “Otherhood”), they’re both from Netflix, but these two projects couldn’t be more different.

The Netflix limited series “Unbelievable” is a taught, well-acted thriller, based on the first episode that screened at 51Fest. In the series, which is inspired by a true story, Kaitlyn Dever plays Marie Adler, a troubled teenager in Lynnwood, Washington. Marie has spent a great deal of her life in foster homes and is now old enough to live on her own. In the beginning of the episode, Marie files a police report, claiming a masked intruder raped her in her home, where she lives alone.

The problem is that Marie keeps changing her story, by saying that she could have imagined the rape, and then changing her mind again. She also changed several details of what happened, leading to further confusion. The investigating police become increasingly frustrated with her, and even Marie’s closest confidants begin to wonder that the truth is.

Sarah Timberman, Susannah Grant, Kaitlyn Dever, Merritt Wever, Danielle Macdonald and Lisa Cholodenko at the world premiere of “Unbelievable” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 19, 2019. (Photo by Lou Aguilar/51Fest)

A good deal of the series is also about detectives Grace Rasmussen and Karen Duvall (played Toni Collette and Merritt Wever), who are hundreds of miles away, and are investigating a case that is similar to what Marie has reported.  The first episode of “Unbelievable” focuses primarily on introducing Marie’s storyline, but a teaser for the season shows that Emmy winners Collette and Wever give compelling performances. Dever does an outstanding job of portraying the complex character of Marie.

Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein and Danielle Macdonald at the world premiere of “Unbelievable” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 19, 2019. (Photo by Lou Aguilar/51Fest)

After the premiere of the first “Unbelievable” episode, there was a Q&A with showrunner and executive producer Susannah Grant, executive producer Sarah Timberman, executive producer and episode director Lisa Cholodenko, and cast members Dever, Wever and Danielle Macdonald, who plays another rape victim in the story. (In the audience was Beanie Feldstein, Dever’s best friend and co-star in the 2019 comedy “Booksmart.”) During the Q&A, Dever said that she didn’t consult with the real Marie because “I wanted to respect her privacy.” Dever added that in her portrayal of Marie, she didn’t want to do a “carbon copy” of her, but wanted to do an interpretation of what Marie was like.

“Unbelievable” is inspired by the real events in The Marshall Project and ProPublica Pulitzer Prize-winning article, “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” written by T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong, and the “This American Life” radio episode “Anatomy of Doubt.” Netflix will premiere “Unbelievable” on September 13, 2019.

The comedy film “Otherhood” is the feature-film directorial debut of writer/director Cindy Chupak, who’s best known for being part of the “Sex and the City” team. The story is about three longtime friends—Carol Walker (played Angela Bassett), Gillian Lieberman (played by Patricia Arquette) and Helen Halston (played Felicity Huffman)—who spontaneously take a road trip together from their homes in suburban Poughkeepsie to New York City, in order to reconnect with their adult sons, who have a habit of ignoring their mothers. The sons, who are in their 30s, have become so emotionally distant from their mothers that they don’t return calls, email or texts, and they even forget to contact their mothers on Mother’s Day, which is a snub that triggers the road trip.

The catch is that the mothers haven’t told their sons in advance that they’re coming to visit—and the plan is to stay at their bachelor sons’ homes for a few days—so the meddling mothers aren’t quite sure what to expect. All three sons appear to be the only children in their respective families, since the mothers don’t mention any other siblings for their children. The movie gets its title because the mothers’ alienation from their sons doesn’t feel like motherhood to them. It feels like “otherhood.” As Gillian says, a mother being ignored by a child is like “inhumane emotional waterboarding.”

Angela Bassett, Felicity Huffman and Patricia Arquette in “Otherhood” (Photo by Linda Kallerus/Netflix)

All three of the mothers (who met through their sons when their sons were kids) are clingy and neurotic, in different ways. Carol, a widow who lives alone, is the biggest worrywart of the group. Carol’s son Matthew (played by Sinqua Walls), an art director at an upcoming magazine that’s similar to Maxim, has a tendency to date barely legal women, and he lives in a trendy loft in Manhattan.

Gillian is a hippie-ish, earth-mother type who has a loving and supportive husband, and she’s the type of mother who will clean her son’s apartment and make comfort-food meals without him even asking her. Gillian’s son Daniel (played by Jake Hoffman), a struggling writer who lives in a dumpy apartment in the working-class Long Island City neighborhood, has recently gone through a messy breakup with a woman he had hoped to marry.

Helen, who’s been divorced and is on her second marriage, is uptight, critical, and hates the idea of aging and becoming a grandmother. Helen’s openly gay son Paul (played by Jake Lacy) is a window dresser and is in a relationship with a guy that’s somewhere in between “friends with benefits” and “serious romance.” Paul lives in an upscale town home in Manhattan and comes from a privileged background.

Patricia Arquette, Angela Bassett and Felicity Huffman in “Otherhood” (Photo by Linda Kallerus/Netflix)

Carol and Gillian are desperate for their sons to find a nice woman to settle down with and marry. The two mothers try to play matchmaker with their sons, which (not surprisingly) doesn’t go over too well. Gillian, who converted to Judaism when she married Daniel’s father, is the most aggressive about her matchmaking, and makes it clear that she prefers that Daniel choose a wife who is also Jewish. Gillian sets up a reluctant Daniel on a blind date, which is one of the funniest scenes in the movie. Carol invites herself to a work-related party that Matthew’s company is having at a hip nightclub. She gets drunk, and she zeroes in on a potential girlfriend for Matthew who’s close to his age, even though she knows that he might not be interested because he prefers to date much-younger women.

Meanwhile, pill-popping, booze-swilling Helen (who is by far the least likeable character in this story) still has lingering resentment that Paul never officially came out as gay to her (she figured it out on her own), and she hates that Paul told his father (Helen’s ex-husband) instead. It’s easy to see why Paul doesn’t like communicating with Helen, because she likes to pick fights over imagined insults, and she’s constantly accusing Paul of the emotional sabotage that Helen herself is inflicting. Paul spends quite a bit of time having to make apologies to Helen. He’s a lot more patient with her than other people would be.

Michael Berman, Cathy Schulman, Mario Cantone and Cindy Chupack at the world premiere of “Otherhood”during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Carlos Sanfer/51Fest)

If you’ve seen enough comedy films (especially the ones on Netflix), you can easily predict how this story is going to go. At a post-screening Q&A with Chupack and producers Cathy Schulman and Jason Michael Berman (the Q&A was moderated by “Sex and the City” alum Mario Cantone, who has a small role in “Otherhood” as one of Paul’s acquaintances), Chupak said it took about 20 years for “Otherhood” to get made because it’s the kind of movie that most movie studios don’t want to make anymore. She added that Netflix and other streaming services are a boon for creators who want their projects to get made.

Even though “Otherhood” is set in the present day (and has lots of references to social media), there’s still kind of an outdated tone to much of the screenplay, because the mothers in the movie are so old-fashioned in how they’re desperate to get approval from the men in their lives. Showing up unannounced at an adult child’s home and expecting to stay over for a few days—it’s all just so rude and cringeworthy, that it kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth because it’s not cute at all. (Although, to be fair, two of the mothers initially can’t go through with ambushing their sons to crash in their homes as uninvited guests, so these two mothers check into a hotel at first.)

The loyal friendship between the three women is admirable, and it’s great to see what seems to be natural chemistry between the three lead actresses, who all do a fine job with the mediocre screenplay that they’ve been given. A better movie would have had the three mothers focusing less on trying to manipulate their son’s love lives and more on the mothers trying to genuinely reconnect with their sons by trying to understand what makes them happy in their current lives. This is such a “made for Netflix” comedy movie, right down to the sitcom-ish musical score. “Otherhood” isn’t going to be nominated for any awards, but there are worse ways to spend 100 minutes of your time. Netflix will premiere “Otherhood” on August 2, 2019.

Here are some other photos from the inaugural 51Fest:

Kathleen Turner and director Janice Engel at the New York premiere of “Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 20, 2019. (Photo by Carlos Sanfer/51Fest)
Comedian/actress Ophelia Eisenberg (panel moderator) and Brittany O’Neill at the New York premiere of “Brittany Runs a Marathon” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 20, 2019. (Photo by Carlos Sanfer/51Fest)
HuffPost editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen (panel moderator), Katharine Gun and “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman at the New York premiere of “Official Secrets” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 20, 2019. (Photo by Carlos Sanfer/51Fest)
Moderator Anne Barnard, co-director Waad al-Kateab, Dr. Hamza al-Kateab and co-director Edward Watts at the New York premiere of “For Sama” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Carlos Sanfer/51Fest)
Director Mary McGuckian, actor Barkhad Abdi and activist Ifrah Ahmed at the international premiere of “A Girl From Mogadishu” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Lou Aguilar/51Fest)
Harvey Weinstein accusers Hope D’Amore and Erika Rosenbaum with director Ursula Macfarlane at the New York premiere of “Untouchable” during 51Fest at IFC Center in New York City on July 21, 2019. (Photo by Lou Aguilar/51Fest)

2019 Comic-Con International: Netflix activities and exclusives

July 1, 2019

The Witcher
“The Witcher” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

The following is a combination of press releases from Netflix:

  • Netflix today launched official social handles for highly anticipated new series The Witcher, along with first looks at the three lead characters; Geralt (Henry Cavill), Yennefer (Anya Cholatra), and Ciri (Freya Allan). Fans can follow official show news on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
  • The series is headed to San Diego Comic Con with a panel at 2:15 PM on July 19 in Hall H. Moderated by accomplished actress and host and beloved sci-fi fan Yvette Nicole Brown (“Community,” “Mom”), the panel will include cast members Cavill, Chalotra, and Allan alongside showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich. NX, the @netflix space for everything super, sci-fi, gaming, fantasy, anime, and beyond will be the place for fans to track all news on the series out of the convention on @NXonNetflix Twitter and Instagram handles.
  • Logline: Based on the best-selling fantasy series of books, The Witcher is an epic tale of fate and family. Geralt of Rivia, a solitary monster hunter, struggles to find his place in a world where people often prove more wicked than beasts. But when destiny hurtles him toward a powerful sorceress, and a young princess with a dangerous secret, the three must learn to navigate the increasingly volatile Continent together.
  • Henry Cavill (Mission Impossible – Fallout, Justice League) leads the cast of The Witcher saga, playing the role of Geralt of Rivia, alongside other main cast members, Anya Chalotra (The ABC Murders, Wanderlust) as Yennefer and Freya Allan (The War of the Worlds, Into The Badlands) as Ciri. Other previously announced cast include Jodhi May (Game of Thrones, Genius) as Calanthe, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson (Fortitude) as Eist, Adam Levy (Knightfall, Snatch) as Mousesack, MyAnna Buring (Ripper Street, Kill List) as Tissaia), Mimi Ndiweni (Black Earth Rising) as Fringilla, Therica Wilson-Read (Profile) as Sabrina, and Emma Appleton (The End of The F**king World) as Renfri, Eamon Farren (The ABC Murders, Twin Peaks) as Cahir, Joey Batey (Knightfall, Strike) as Jaskier, Lars Mikkelsen (House of Cards, Sherlock) as Stregobor, Royce Pierreson (Wanderlust, Judy) as Istredd, Maciej Musiał (1983) as Sir Lazlo, Wilson Radjou-Pujalte (Jamillah & Aladdin, Dickensian) as Dara, and Anna Shaffer (Harry Potter) as Triss.

Other Netflix panels at San Diego Comic-Con 2019:

July 18, 2019

12:30-1:30 p.m.

“The Order” 
Join the cast of Netflix’s “The Order” at their first ever San Diego Comic-Con appearance. Stars Jake Manley, Sarah Grey, Adam DiMarco, Devery Jacobs, Thomas Elms, Louriza Tronco and Katharine Isabelle will join series creator/showrunner Dennis Heaton, writer/EP Shelley Eriksen and executive producers Mike Frislev and Chad Oakes in a Q&A moderated by Bevin from Den of Geek. (Indigo Ballroom)

July 19, 2019

3:30-5:15 p.m.

“The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance” 
Netflix presents an exclusive sneak peek at the highly-anticipated fantasy series, “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance,” based on Jim Henson’s groundbreaking 1982 feature film, “The Dark Crystal.” In this stunning new prequel, three Gelfling discover the horrifying secret behind the Skeksis’ power, and set out on an epic journey to ignite the fires of rebellion and save their world. Realized using classic puppetry with cutting edge visual effects, the cast and creators discuss all of your burning questions about bringing Thra to life. (Hall H)

Netflix announces ‘The Chef Show’ starring Jon Favreau and Roy Choi

May 19, 2019

Jon Favreau, Samin Nosrat, Roy Choi and Antoni Porowski at the Netflix FYSEE Food Day at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles on May 19, 2019. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Netflix)

The following is a press release from Netflix:

Cooking is a journey. And making a meal is about more than just food. It’s about appreciating friends, family and tradition. An opportunity to come together. To learn, to share and to celebrate different flavors, cultures and people. In “The Chef Show” (premiering June 7, 2019), actor/director Jon Favreau and award-winning Chef Roy Choi reunite after their critically acclaimed film “Chef” to embark on a new adventure. The two friends experiment with their favorite recipes and techniques, baking, cooking, exploring and collaborating with some of the biggest names in the entertainment and culinary world. From sharing a meal with the “Avengers” cast in Atlanta, to smoking brisket in Texas with world-renowned pitmaster Aaron Franklin, to honoring the legendary food critic Jonathan Gold in Los Angeles, Favreau and Choi embrace their passion for food, but more importantly their love for bringing people together over a delicious meal.

Guests on “The Chef Show” include:  Gwyneth Paltrow, Bill Burr,  Robert Downey Jr, Tom Holland, Kevin Feige, and the Russo brothers,  Andrew Rea, Evan Kleiman, Jazz Singsanong, Robert Rodriguez, David Chang, Aaron Franklin and many more.

“During the production of ‘Chef,’ I developed a much deeper understanding of the ways in which we express our emotions, share our cultures and seek meaningful connections through the act of cooking and eating,” says Favreau. “I am so nostalgic about that time and those experiences — this series gives me the perfect opportunity to get back in the kitchen and create some new memories.”

“I’ve always wanted a straight up cooking show since I was a child,” said Choi. “I grew up on Julia Child, Paul Prudhomme, Sara Moulton, and obviously Emeril’s first show had a huge impact on my life. There is something timeless and beautiful about cooking straight to camera. The only snafu was, I’m not a natural born entertainer so doing it alone was always out of the question! But then I met Jon and we built such an amazing friendship over the movie ‘Chef.’ We both kinda didn’t want it to end. And through this friendship I found my cooking soulmate and a child’s dream is now a reality. Julia and Jacques meet Jon and Roy!”

“The Chef Show” is executive produced and directed by Jon Favreau.  Roy Choi and Annie Johnson also serve as executive producers.

Netflix announces ‘Next in Fashion’ competition show, hosted by Tan France and Alexa Chung

May 17, 2019

Tan France and Alexa Chung of “Next in Fashion” (Photo courtesy of Netflix)

The following is a press release from Netflix:

“Next In Fashion” is a high-stakes competition series coming soon to Netflix featuring some of the world’s best and quietly innovative designers who compete for a chance to become the next big name in fashion. Hosted by fashion designer and TV personality Tan France (“Queer Eye”) and designer, model and global style icon Alexa Chung, “Next in Fashion” begins with 18 designers who face challenges centering on a different trend or design style that has influenced the way the entire world dresses.

These talented contestants have worked for major brands and dressed A-list celebrities, and will now compete head-to-head to see who has the skill, originality and determination to win the grand prize: $250,000 and an opportunity to debut their collection with luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter.

“Next in Fashion” is created and produced by theoldschool and is Executive Produced by Robin Ashbrook and Yasmin Shackleton with co-Executive Producer Adam Cooper.

Additional Details:

  • Co-Hosts: Tan France and Alexa Chung

  • Guest Judges: Elizabeth Stewart and Eva Chen are recurring guest judges with additional guest judges to be announced at a later date

  • Executive Producers:  Robin Ashbrook, Yasmin Shackleton and co-executive producer Adam Cooper

  • Season 1 # of episodes: 10

Instagram:  @NextInFashion

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘See You Yesterday’

May 5, 2019

by Carla Hay

Eden Duncan-Smith and Danté Crichlow in “See You Yesterday” (Photo by Linda Kallerus/Netflix)

“See You Yesterday”

Directed by Stefon Bristol

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on May 3, 2019.

“Back to the Future” meets “Black Lives Matter” could be a superficial way to describe “See You Yesterday,” a time-traveling drama about a teenage girl who goes back in time to prevent the police-shooting death of her older brother. But “See You Yesterday” is not a “Back to the Future” ripoff—it’s a compelling social commentary seen through the eyes of intelligent African American teenagers who are the central characters in the movie.

“See You Yesterday,” the first feature film from Spike Lee protégé Stefon Bristol, is a longer version of Bristol’s short film of the same name, and the movie has the same two lead actors from the short film. Eden Duncan-Smith is Claudette “CJ” Walker and Danté Crichlow is Sebastian Thomas, CJ’s best friend—two high-school students who live in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood in New York City. Both teens are aspiring scientists who have been working on a time-traveling machine that can be worn in a backpack. CJ is the type of student who likes to read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” in class, and she’s essentially the brains behind the time machine.

As with most scientific experiments, things are done with trial and error. The movie begins with CJ and Sebastian’s botched attempts to get the time-traveling invention to work. It’s only a matter of time before they broach the subject of time traveling with their science teacher Mr. Lockhart (played by “Back to the Future” star Michael J. Fox, in a brilliantly cast cameo), who tells them that if time travel were possible, it would be one of the greatest ethical conundrums that people would face, before declaring, “Time travel. Great Scott!” Fans of “Back to the Future” will get this inside joke. (In a Q&A after one of the Tribeca Film Festival screenings of “See You Yesterday,” Bristol said that Fox agreed to be in the movie after Bristol wrote him a letter, and Fox hadn’t even seen the script yet. Before filming was set to begin, Fox broke his hand, but they were able to reschedule filming for Fox several weeks later after he recovered from his injury.)

On their fourth attempt at time travel, CJ and Sebastian succeed on June 29, 2019, and go back in time and then back to the present day. The date that they begin to time travel is significant because of what will happen less than a month later. For now, the two budding scientists decide to keep their time-traveling secret to themselves.

Being a science nerd in tough East Flatbush isn’t easy. CJ and Sebastian constantly have to dodge the crime and street fights that plague their neighborhood. Her 19-year-old older brother Calvin (played by Brian Bradley, also known as Astro or Stro) is a bit of a rebel, but he’s very protective of CJ.  She is also dealing with moving on from ex-boyfriend Jared (played by Rayshawn Richardson), a bully who flaunts his new girlfriend in front of CJ. It’s clear that when Jared and CJ were together, he did not treat her well, and their relationship ended badly. But Jared keeps doing things to irritate CJ, so it isn’t long before big brother Calvin gets involved. When police arrive, an unarmed Calvin reaches for his cell phone, and gets shot to death by a cop. The date is July 14, 2019.

After going through this devastating loss, CJ comes up with the idea to go back in time to prevent Calvin from dying. Sebastian is extremely reluctant at first, but he goes along with the plan when he sees that there’s no talking CJ out of it. What happens next in the movie can’t be described without giving away spoilers, but it’s enough to say that “See You Yesterday”—like other stories about time travel—does treat the issue of changing the past in order to alter the future as a serious ethical dilemma that can have unexpected consequences. The movie also has a message that unnecessary police brutality is not going away anytime soon.

Bristol, who co-wrote the screenplay with Frederica Bailey, authentically captures modern-day Brooklyn, with the young characters talking like how real teenagers would talk, including a fair amount of cursing. If you watch “See You Yesterday” closely, there’s also a scene in the movie that’s a nod to Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” It’s refreshing that the inventor of the time machine in this story is a teenager, because an adult would be more likely to seek fame, riches and/or glory from such an invention, whereas a teenager would be more likely to keep it a secret from adults. Above all, “See You Yesterday” shows people, no matter what their age, that life is not about changing the past but how we move forward.

Netflix will premiere “See You Yesterday” on May 17, 2019.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘It Takes a Lunatic’

May 4, 2019

by Carla Hay

Wynn Handman (pictured at right) in "It Takes a Lunatic" (Photo by Cliff Lipson)
Wynn Handman (pictured at right) in “It Takes a Lunatic” (Photo by Cliff Lipson)

“It Takes a Lunatic”

Directed by Billy Lyons

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on May 3, 2019.

Wynn Handman might not be a household name, but as an acting teacher and as a co-founder/artistic director of the American Place Theatre in New York City, he’s had an enormous influence on numerous actors who are world-famous and/or highly respected. This talky documentary takes an in-depth, sometimes overly fawning look at Handman’s accomplishments. Even though there’s an impressive array of famous actors who share the experiences they’ve had with Handman, be prepared to sit through a documentary where there’s plenty of interviews and archival photos but unfortunately not enough archival film footage to make it a more vibrant movie.

Handman, who was born in 1922, is also interviewed in “It Takes a Lunatic.” He describes his childhood growing up in Manhattan’s Inwood neighborhood as happy. He wanted to be in the Navy, but enrolled in the Coast Guard instead. As a mentor/leader in the profession of acting, Handman is described as both “rough and tumble” and “intellectual” by past colleagues. The movie describes Handman has having two lives and two legacies: first as an acting teacher and later as artistic director of the off-Broadway American Place Theatre.

The celebrities who give testimonials about Handman as an acting coach or American Place Theatre artistic director include Richard Gere, Alec Baldwin, Susan Lucci, Michael Douglas, James Caan, Chris Cooper, Marianne Leone Cooper, Andre Bishop, Connie Britton, Lauren Graham, John Leguizamo and Aasif Mandiv. Lucci says that as an acting coach, Handman was “so encouraging, never destructive.” Baldwin adds that Handman “never gave someone a critique they couldn’t handle.”

After years as a successful acting teacher, Handman took a big career risk by co-founding the American Place Theatre in 1963, with Sidney Lanier and Michael Tolan, at the location that formerly housed St. Clement’s Church in midtown Manhattan. Handman was told that “it would take a lunatic” to operate this unusual theater, because it was a non-profit company, and its business model was to make money from customer subscriptions, not from individual ticket sales. This uncommon approach to operating a theater allowed Handman and the other theater decision makers to take more artistic risks in the theater’s productions, since the sales were already pre-paid through subscriptions.

The American Place’s first full production in 1964 was “The Old Glory,” a trilogy of one-acts by poet Robert Lowell and starring Frank Langella. “The Old Glory” ended up winning five Obie Awards, including Best American Play and Best Actor for Langella. Another notable production in the American Place’s early years was 1967’s “La Turista,” a two-act play by Sam Shepard and starring Sam Waterston and Joyce Aaron. (The documentary includes an interview with Shepard, who died in 2017.)

But the American Place was also known for controversy. Ronald Ribman’s 1965 play “Harry, Noon and Night,” starring Dustin Hoffman as a transvestite Nazi, was controversial, mostly because the play had a live decapitation of a chicken. After those live beheadings sparked a lot of public outrage, the play switched to using fake chickens. “The Cannibals,” George Tabori’s 1974 play about the Holocaust, was one of the American Place’s most divisive productions. The documentary points out that the play was more controversial in the United States than it was in Germany. In the documentary, Handman remembers getting a lot of hate mail every time the American Place was embroiled in controversy.

The words “true,” “truth” and “truthful” are used a lot in the documentary to describe Handman and the people he inspired. Eric Bogosian, whose third one-man play “Drinking in America” was produced by the American Place, says of Handman: “He’s not a lunatic. He’s a true believer.”

Even with interviews and testimonials that talk about all the brilliant work that Handman can take a lot of credit for influencing, there simply isn’t enough filmed footage of a lot of these stage productions. Plays, rehearsals and acting classes in Handman’s heyday were usually not filmed for posterity, so it’s not director Billy Lyons’ fault that still photos are the main visuals he has to work with to show what people are discussing in the documentary. (And thankfully, Lyons chose not to film re-enactments for “It Takes a Lunatic,” which is his first feature film.) Perhaps “It Takes a Lunatic” would have been better-suited as a podcast instead of a movie.

The lack of archival film footage isn’t the documentary’s main shortcoming. By putting Handman on such a high pedestal, the documentary feels like it was made by a star-struck fan instead of a more objective filmmaker. For example, the controversy that Handman created with some of American Place’s productions is acknowledged in the film, but the movie doesn’t interview any of Handman’s critics, rivals or people he inevitably alienated in his career. The constant praise of Handman is repetitive and the movie’s slow pace makes the documentary duller than it needs to be. “It Takes a Lunatic” should be commended for gathering so many well-respected actors to share their admiration of Handman, but the documentary probably won’t be very appealling to people who have no interest in acting or theater productions.

UPDTAE: Netflix will premiere “It Takes a Lunatic” on October 25, 2019.

2019 Tribeca Film Festival movie review: ‘Circus of Books’

May 3, 2019

by Carla Hay

Circus of Books
Rachel Mason with parents Barry and Karen Mason in “Circus of Books” (Photo by Gretchen Warthen)

“Circus of Books”

Directed by Rachel Mason

World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 26, 2019.

“Circus of Books” is a truly unique documentary that tells the behind-the-scenes story of Circus of Books, the Los Angeles-based company that got most of its profits through gay male pornography and operated multiple stores and a production company. Circus of Books—which had the same owners from 1982 until the business closed in February 2019—was literally a “mom and pop” operation, since the business was owned by married couple Karen and Barry Mason, who are the parents of three children. Their middle child, Rachel, directed this film to chronicle the history of Circus of Books and the last days before the business shut down.

Rachel takes the Werner Herzog/Michael Moore documentarian approach of being the narrator, on-camera interviewer and one of the stars of the movie. The documentary begins by showing the history of the bookstore before the Masons owned it. The LGBTQ activist Black Cat demonstration in 1967 in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood preceded the Stonewall demonstrations in New York City by two years, but both were important events in gay civil rights that had similarities, because both were sparked by LGBTQ people fighting back against police harassment and raids of gay nightclubs.

The Black Cat nightclub and the New Faces nightclub were part of the Los Angeles gay nightlife scene in the 1960s. New Faces would eventually become the gay bookstore Book Circus. When Book Circus went out of business, the Masons took it over and renamed the space Circus of Books, which carried a wide array of family-friendly inventory, but it was outsold by what was in the adult section of the store. So how did this straight Jewish couple end up in the gay porn business?

Karen, whom many people in the documentary describe as bossy and domineering, started off as a criminal-justice journalist, who worked for publications such as the Wall Street Journal (in the Chicago bureau) and the Cincinnati Enquirer. Barry, who’s described as gentle and laid-back, used to work at the University of California at Los Angeles’ film department in the mid-1960s, when the Doors members Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek were briefly students there, before the Doors became a world-famous rock band. Barry worked in special effects and had credits that included the original “Star Trek” TV series.

Barry applied his skills in special effects to invent dialysis equipment in the early years of his marriage to Karen. The couple then went into the business together to sell the equipment and were doing well financially. But then they made the mistake of selling the rights to the equipment, and they began to have financial hardships. It was during this challenging time in their marriage that Karen saw an ad seeking distributors for porn magazines. She answered the ad, thinking that it was a temporary way to make money until they could become more financially stable.

When the owner of the West Hollywood store Book Circus was facing eviction because he wasn’t paying his rent, Barry jumped at the chance to take over the business, and he and Karen changed the name of the store to Circus of Books. The business became so successful that they opened a second location in the Silver Lake neighborhood in 1985. (The Silver Lake location closed in 2016.) A third Circus of Books location opened in Sherman Oaks in the late 1980s, but lasted for only two years; it was shut down because of too many neighborhood complaints about the store’s adult content and the clientele it attracted. The Masons further expanded the business by starting a gay porn film-production company. Porn star Jeff Stryker, porn director Matt Sterling and Hustler publisher Larry Flynt are among the Masons’ former colleagues who are interviewed in the movie.

Karen describes herself as religious, while Barry says that he’s not. (Because of their differing views on religion, she calls their relationship a “mixed marriage.”) Even though she and Barry made their living from hardcore porn, Karen says she never really liked to see any of the porn that they sold. She also didn’t want to hear details about the cruising and sexual activities that were going on at Circus of Books. (In 1989, the city of West Hollywood ordered that the store shut down between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., in response to complaints about hustlers at Circus of Books.) Karen’s ability to separate her religious beliefs from her business activities is demonstrated in a scene where she goes to a convention for sex toys and looks over products in a sales-minded, detached manner. It’s almost like she’s the owner of a hardware store who’s shopping for tools and pondering the sales value of what she might buy.

Past and present store employees say that even though Karen never really watched the porn that she sold, what she did watch closely was the financial accounting for the business, and she was a strict “taskmaster” boss, while Barry was more likely to give their employees some slack if they made a mistake. In the years before the Internet changed the porn industry, business was booming for Circus of Books.

Things also began to change for Circus of Books in 1993, when the Masons were busted for transporting obscene material across state lines, due to the mail-order part of their business. The FBI got involved, but the parents kept their legal problems hidden from their three kids. Even though Bill Clinton’s election as U.S. president meant that new prosecutors were appointed to the Masons’ case, the case wasn’t dismissed until 1995. The legal turmoil that the Masons went through had repercussions on the business for many years to come.

As the director of the documentary, Rachel is shown on camera interviewing people, including Circus of Books employees; her parents; and her older and younger brothers. Viewers get to see some of their family dynamics, as Rachel (who describes herself as an artistic free spirit) tries to figure out how her parents’ unusual line of work might have affected their family. Rachel doesn’t really interrogate as much as have conversations with the people involved in the business.

On the one hand, the family is disappointed that they have to close Circus of Books—the rise of Internet porn and gay dating apps such as Grindr essentially made Circus of Books an obsolete business. On the other hand, the business was losing so much money in its last few years (plus, Karen and Barry Mason were getting ready to retire anyway) that shuttering the business is almost a relief for the family.

What viewers won’t be seeing in this documentary are explicit scenes of gay porn, nor will they see undercover video of people cruising at Circus of Books, although there are some people interviewed in the film who talk about their cruising experiences. What’s more surprising (and revealing) is how someone as conservative and religious as Karen lasted as long as she did in the gay porn business. It’s clear from watching the film that she saw the business only as a means to make money to provide a comfortable life for her family. She didn’t see the customers as “family,” only as part of the business.

That emotional detachment explains why Karen had a difficult time coming to terms with her homophobia when her youngest child, Josh (Rachel’s younger brother), came out as gay when he was in college. (By contrast, Barry was more accepting of Josh’s sexual orientation.) In the documentary, Josh talks about the anguish of keeping his sexuality a secret.

And in case anyone is ignorant enough to think his parents’ line of work made him gay, Josh reiterates that he would be gay regardless of what his parents did for a living. According to the documentary, when the Mason children were growing up, Karen and Barry apparently went to great lengths not to expose their children to the porn that Karen and Barry sold. The spouses kept the type of business they did a secret for many years from their children and people in their straight community. In the years before the Internet existed, it was easier to keep this type of secret.

Growing up, Josh was considered the “perfect” child who excelled in school, but he was afraid to come out as gay because he knew it would upset his mother. The irony is not lost on Rachel, who confronts her mother about the hypocrisy of making a living from gay customers and yet not be willing to accept that one of her children is part of the gay community too. The documentary points out that it took years for Karen to be at the place where she is now: a proud member of PFLAG, the organization for parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays.

“Circus of Books” is a low-budget film that keeps the production values very basic in telling the story. There’s no fancy editing or arty cinematography. The movie also strikes the right balance between showing touches humor but not at the expense of addressing serious topics, such as the effect that the AIDS crisis had on numerous Circus of Books customers and employees. On the surface, the movie is about a gay porn business and how it affected the gay social scene in Los Angeles. But underneath the surface, this documentary is really about how this “mom and pop” business affected the family who owned it.

Netflix will premiere “Circus of Books” on a date to be announced.

Tiffany Haddish and Ali Wong are wacky birds of a feather in ‘Tuca & Bertie’

May 1, 2019

by Carla Hay

Tiffany Haddish, Lisa Hanawalt and Ali Wong
Tiffany Haddish, Lisa Hanawalt and Ali Wong at the world premiere of “Tuca & Bertie” at the during 2019 Tribeca Film Festival in new York City. (Photo by Dominik Bindl/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Netflix’s “Tuca & Bertie” is an animated comedy series, which the streaming service describes as being about the friendship between two bird women in their 30s who live in the same apartment building in Birdtown, a fictional place that is clearly inspired by New York City. Tuca (voiced by Tiffany Haddish) is “a cocky, care-free toucan” and Bertie (voiced by Ali Wong) is “an anxious, daydreaming songbird.”Among Tuca and Bertie’s friends, colleagues and neighbors are other animal creatures with human-like qualities. They include Speckles (voiced by Steven Yeun), a robin who is Bertie’s loving boyfriend; Pastry Pete (voiced by Reggie Watts), a baker penguin; Dapper T. Dog, a prissy neighbor; and Dirk (voiced by John Early), an arrogant rooster who works with Bertie at their job at a media company called Conde Nest—an obvious nod to Condé Nast.

“Tuca & Bertie” has several of the same executive producers as Netflix’s Emmy-winning animated series “BoJack Horseman,” including Lisa Hanawalt (who created “Tuca & Bertie), Raphael Bob-Waksberg, Noel Bright and Steven A. Cohen. Haddish and Wong are also executive producers of “Tuca & Bertie,” whose 10-episode first season premieres on Netflix on May 3, 2019. The first two episodes of “Tuca & Bertie” had their world premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, where Haddish, Wong and Hanawalt did a Q&A after the screening. Here is what they said:

“Tuca & Bertie” (Image courtesy of Netflix)

Lisa, how long were Tuca and Bertie in your head, and when did you realize they needed a TV show?

Hanawalt: I started making comics about Tuca about four years ago, and then I started making comics about Bertie a little bit later. When I was thinking of TV show ideas, they just seemed like two of my favorite characters I ever made up. They just basically write themselves. They know exactly who they are.

I just wanted to make a show about female friendship. I thought the two of them would go well together. They’re kind of opposites, but Bertie has Tuca qualities and Tuca has Bertie qualities. And you can kind of see why they’ve been friends for so long.

Tiffany and Ali, what did you first think when you heard about “Tuca & Bertie”?

Haddish: When first I heard about it, I was like, “OK, two friends. That’s what’s up. I’ve got friends. This is funny … Where do I sign up? Do I get an executive producer credit?”

Wong: I didn’t know much about it. The only things I had heard that Lisa Hanawalt created a show about two birds that were best friends, and that Tiffany Haddish, who I’ve known for a long time and hadn’t worked on anything yet, was attached to it. That’s all I needed to know. “Yes, I’ll do it right now!”

Ali and Tiffany have executive producer credits on the show, right?

Wong: We do, but we didn’t do that much to deserve it.

Hanawalt: Yeah, you did.

Haddish: Yes, we did. I don’t know about you, but my feet hurt. I deserve it.

“Tuca & Bertie” (Image courtesy of Netflix)

How are you like your Tuca and Bertie characters in real life?

Wong: I suffer from crushing anxiety, like everybody else.

Hanawalt: You hide it well. You’re fearless.

Wong: I try. Yeah. I didn’t even know what you guys were looking for. I just went in [for the audition], and it was really short. I was like, “Oh, I didn’t get [the role], because they kicked me out so fast.”

Haddish: I was like, “Y‘all better get my homegirl, or I ain’t playing with y’all.” And ta-dah! We’re working together! That’s how you do it. I’ve been watching Hollywood. I see what y’all do.

Wong: I met Tiffany 10 years ago in San Francisco. She was so positive and so sweet then, even though it was the shittiest time. We were struggling and everything.

And then I saw her the next time in New York, when she had auditioned for “SNL” [“Saturday Night Live”]. Everybody around town knew she killed it. She knew she killed it, and she was like, “If they don’t give it to me, it’s fucked up.”

Haddish: No, I said, “If they don’t give it to me, fuck them!” That’s what I said.

Wong: “Fuck them, until I host for them!

Haddish: Yep. I said, “Next time, I’ll be hosting.”

Wong: And she did it in that white dress she’s worn a million times to maximize the value out.

Haddish: That part. It’s about saving our dollars, girl.

Wong: And then after I saw her after she auditioned for “SNL,” she had just booked a role for this movie with Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith [2017’s “Girls Trip”].

Haddish: And then boo-yah. I told you we were going to do it, girl.

Tiffany and Ali, what qualities do each of you have that bring out the best in each other?

Haddish: We balance each other out. I can be really over-the-top sometimes. And I look in her eyes and I’m reminded that I can bring it back down a little bit. It just depends. [She says to Wong] I really value you a lot.

Wong: Thank you.

Haddish: I like having her around. I wish we could be in the studio together more often, like when we made that song.

Wong: Oh my God. That was so fun. Tiffany is a good singer. I had to some training in the studio.

Hanawalt: You’re both really good.

Wong: Please don’t make me sing. I’m an executive producer. I command you to not make me sing. Please don’t make me sing!

Hanawalt: Ali has a whole musical number in Episode 4. She sings about having an anxiety attack.

Wong: We [Haddish and I] have duet that’s very catchy. I wish I wrote it so I could get residuals for it. It’s amazing. Tiffany’s really busy, if you’ve noticed. She’s doing five movies a year, all the time.

Haddish: You’re really busy too. You’re raising human beings.

Wong: That is true. When we got to see each other and work together, it was great. I hope we get to work together again.

Haddish: Yeah, more often. Season 2! Let’s go!

[Haddish and Wong then led an audience chant saying, “Season 2! Let’s go!” Wong also got up on her chair and twerked to the chant.]

“Tuca & Bertie” (Image courtesy of Netflix)

“Tuca & Bertie” is one of the few adult animated series that was created by a woman. What did you want to do differently in this show that you don’t see in other animated shows?

Hanawalt: I just wanted to make a show that I’d want to watch. I love watching adult cartoons. I’ve always loved watching animation. I wanted to see one about women and female relationships and women in the world, with stupid jokes I would laugh at and spicy chips for lunch and the kind of stuff that I want to watch.

And a lot of animated shows don’t have characters in their 30s. The characters either under 30 or over 40, right?

Hanawalt: I wanted to make a show about me and my friends and what we’re going through and right now … When you’re in your 30s, people really start to split off in drastically different directions.

Suddenly, your friends have a bunch of kids, and they own their own home and they have a husband and they seem super-stable, but inside they’re still like, “Do I really want this? I don’t know. Am I doing the right thing?” Meanwhile, I still feel like a big, sloppy baby, but I’m sure I look like I might have my shit together on the outside.

“Tuca & Bertie” tackles some serious topics, like sexual harassment and Tuca’s struggle to stay sober. Tiffany and Ali, how much of this did you know in advance before signing on for the show?

Wong: I honestly knew nothing. Lisa and the [other] writers were breaking the stories on as we were coming in to read the script. We’d just show up at the table read, and that’s when I would find out what the story was. Some of the twists and turns—you’ll see in the season—they shocked me in a really cool way. It’s serialized. That’s something you don’t usually see a lot in animation.

Hanawalt:  It starts out light and fun, but there’s definitely some darker stuff that happens. I think overall though, the show is very optimistic and feels like safe place, but we g into some darker things.  I didn’t want to tell them, because I didn’t want to scare them away.

Haddish: Yeah. I was like reading it, and I was like, “What just happened? Oh, hell no! For real? Okay, then. Continue.”

Hanawalt: There were definitely things I wanted to tackle. I like shows that are really silly and surreal and then also have some very real, relatable moments and darker themes.

What were some of the things you were most excited about in the look and design of “Tuca & Bertie”?

Hanawalt: I was thinking about things I’m not allowed to do on “BoJack.” There’s going to make talking plants. Fuck it!

Haddish: I was most excited about Tuca’s ass. In Season 2, let’s see if she can get some titties! Just putting it out there, boss lady.

Wong: I was excited to see the scenes with Tuca and me together. Also, the scenes with Steven Yeun, who plays Speckles, my boyfriend.

What do you want people to get from watching “Tuca & Bertie?”

Hanawalt: I hope people find it funny and relatable. I hope women see themselves in these characters.


Netflix announces new docuseries ‘Street Food’

April 10, 2019

The following is a press release from Netflix:

From the creators of “Chef’s Table,” “Street Food” explores the rich culture of street food in some of the world’s most colorful cities. Season one explores nine countries across Asia, highlighting the stories of perseverance that bring each country’s cuisine and culture to life.

For some of the featured local legends, creating street food began as a necessity, but through generations of refining and honoring family traditions, it became their life-long passion to continue to uplift and bring joy to their communities. “Street Food” goes beyond the delicious food to document the blood, sweat and tears that goes into each iconic dish. From Jay-Fai who taught herself to cook after losing everything in a fire to 100-year old Mbah Lindu who hasn’t changed her recipe since she started, each dish is as unique as the people who create them.

The series celebrates the following cities:

· Bangkok, Thailand

· Osaka, Japan

· Delhi, India

· Yogyakarta, Indonesia

· Chiayi, Taiwan

· Seoul, South Korea

· Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

· Singapore

· Cebu, Philippines

For more delicious content on “Street Food,” visit Netflix Food on Instagram and Twitter.