Review: ‘Sing 2,’ starring the voices of Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Scarlett Johansson, Tori Kelly, Taron Egerton, Bono and Halsey

November 28, 2021

by Carla Hay

Pictured in front row, from left to right: Klaus Kickenlober (voiced by Adam Buxton), Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), Porsha Crystal (voiced by Halsey), Clay Calloway (voiced by Bono), Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), Darius (voiced by Eric André), Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) and Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll) in “Sing 2” (Image courtesy of Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures)

“Sing 2”

Directed by Garth Jennings

Culture Representation: Taking place in the fictional U.S. city of Redstone City and briefly in the fictional U.S. city of Calatonia, the animated film “Sing 2” features a predominantly white cast of actors (with a few black people) voicing the characters of talking animals that are connected in some ways to showbiz.

Culture Clash: The owner and star performers of Calatonia’s New Moon Theater take their act to Redstone City, the nation’s entertainment capital, in the hopes of becoming bigger stars, but the ruthless mogul who can give them their big break expects the group’s act to include a reclusive rock star who hasn’t performed live in 15 years. 

Culture Audience: Besides appealing to the obvious target audience of “Sing” fans and fans of the movie’s voice cast members, “Sing 2” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching a “jukebox musical” with a poorly constructed, flimsy plot.

Pictured from left to right, beginning second from left: Jimmy Crystal (voiced by Bobby Cannavale), Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll), Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) and Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) in “Sing 2” (Image courtesy of Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures)

Plagued by “sequel-itis,” the animated musical “Sing 2” sacrifices character development for a plot that sloppily rushes storylines and then turns into a commercial for Bono and U2’s music at the very end. The movie loses much of the charm of 2016’s “Sing” by having the main characters go off on different tangents and by introducing several new characters that are presented in a very superficial way. The “Sing” movie series (which is about talking animals, many of which can sing) also loses a lot of comedic appeal with “Sing 2,” by introducing a murderous villain that drags down the story with soulless acts of evil.

This decline in quality can’t be blamed on a change in filmmaker leadership. “Sing” and “Sing 2” were both written and directed by Garth Jennings and have the same producers (Janet Healy and Christopher Meledandri), as well as the same chiefs of certain departments, such as film editing, visual effects and music. The voice actors of most of the lead characters in “Sing” reprised the same roles for “Sing 2.”

Considering all of the talented people involved, it’s a disappointment that so much of “Sing 2” seems like a lazily conceived cash grab that does nothing innovative. The entire movie lacks suspense (there are absolutely no surprises) and over-relies on stringing together what are essentially separate animated music videos and trying to make it look like it’s all part of a cohesive plot. The visuals of “Sing 2” are perfectly fine, but there should be more to a movie than it just looking good.

Sequels are supposed to tell you more about the main characters, but “Sing 2” fails in this regard because you won’t learn almost anything new about the main characters from watching this sequel. “Sing 2” continues to have an overload of pop hits (original recordings and cover versions), but it’s less effective in this sequel, compared to the first “Sing” movie. That’s because “Sing 2” is essentially a mediocre “jukebox musical,” where song placement is more important than having a well-written storyline and memorable dialogue. Most of the new characters in “Sing 2” have hollow and stereotypical personalities.

“Sing 2” also follows a predictable plot formula for the second movie in an animated series: The main characters travel out of their home environment and get involved in new adventures somewhere else. And there’s nothing inherently wrong with that formula if it’s done with an engaging story. (It’s a formula that Pixar Animation has mastered with many of its sequels.) Unfortunately, “Sing 2” does not have a story that’s very interesting.

“Sing 2” is also one of those sequels that doesn’t do a very good job of introducing the main characters to viewers who didn’t see the first “Sing” movie. “Sing 2” assumes that people seeing this sequel are already familiar with the main characters. But that’s an assumption that just makes the screenwriting look even lazier than it needed to be.

Some of the characters in the first “Sing” movie struggled with different personal issues. For example, one character has a criminal parent who discouraged him from being a singer, and that parent ended up being incarcerated for a robbery. Another character suffered from stage fright. If any those issues are mentioned in “Sing 2,” they’re vague references when they should be a little more detailed, to give the characters more depth. In addition, “Sing 2” doesn’t really mention that all of the main characters that are singers met each other through a talent contest that was the focus of the first “Sing” movie.

If you must waste your time on the inferior “Sing 2,” it’s best to see the first “Sing” movie so you can understand the backstories of the main characters and see their real personalities. In “Sing 2,” almost all of the main characters’ personalities are reduced to soundbite-like dialogue in between singing songs. The good news is that all of the cast members who sing do a very fine job with their performances.

In “Sing” (which takes place in the fictional U.S. city of Calatonia), an ambitious koala named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) owns an inherited theater that’s in danger of shutting down due to his financal problems. In order to get publicity for the theater and increase attendance, Buster holds a talent contest that attracts several Calatonia residents, and some of these characters end up being the stars of the contest. In “Sing 2,” Buster wants to take his productions out of regional theater and into the big leagues of a Vegas-styled musical show.

These singing stars from the “Sing” talent contest make their return in the “Sing 2” movie:

  • Rosita (voiced by Reese Witherspoon), a pig who’s a harried housewife and a mother of 25 piglets.
  • Ash (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), a porcupine who’s a rock singer/guitarist and a feminist.
  • Johnny (voiced by Taron Egerton), a gorilla who can play sing and piano a lot like Elton John.
  • Meena (voiced by Tori Kelly), an elephant who’s shy and insecure except when she’s singing.
  • Gunter (voiced by Nick Kroll), a pig who’s flamboyant and an occasional duet partner with Rosita.

Also returning for “Sing 2” is Buster’s eccentric administrative assistant Miss Crawly (voiced by writer/director Jennings), an iguana with a glass eye that often falls out and causes mishaps. Making cameos in “Sing 2” are two other characters from the first “Sing” movie: Johnny’s gorilla gangster father Big Daddy (voiced by Peter Serafinowicz) and elderly sheep Nana Noodleman (voiced by Jennifer Saunders), who is a wealthy benefactor and former theater diva.

In the beginning of “Sing 2,” New Moon Theater (the venue owned by Buster) is presenting a musical production of “Alice in Wonderland,” with Meena in the starring role of Alice. The show is a local hit that plays to sold-out audiences. During a performance, Buster is excited to see that an important talent scout named Suki Lane (voiced by Chelsea Peretti) is in the audience and taking notes.

Suki (who is a brown dog that can walk upright and has human-like arms and legs ) works for the mega-company Crystal Entertainment in Redshore City, the entertainment capital of the nation. Redshore City is designed to look a lot like Las Vegas. Miss Crawly tells Buster that Suki has been paying attention to the show and seems to be entertained.

After the performance, Buster rushes after Suki to talk to her before she can leave. He asks her what she thought of the show. Suki haughtily replies, “It’s a cute little show, but it’s not what we’re looking for. You’re not good enough. You’ve got a nice little local theater here, and it’s great for what it is, but trust me: You’d never make it in the big leagues.”

Buster is stung by this criticism, but he’s not ready to give up so easily. Even if his productions are considered regional theater, he knows that these shows have value because they frequently sell out. Suki gets in a chauffeured car to leave. Buster chases after the moving car on his bike, and he holds on to the car door to continue to talk to Suki.

Suki thinks that Buster is crazy and tells the driver to speed up, in order to get rid of Buster. Buster is essentially run off of the road, and he lands in a nearby canal. This debacle is witnessed by several residents who are near the canal. It’s a humiliating moment for Buster, but it’s played for laughs in the movie.

A discouraged Buster tells Nana about Suki’s rejection. He moans, “I’m a failure!” Nana scolds Buster for letting this setback make him think that he should give up. She tells him that if he doesn’t believe in himself and what he has to offer, then no one else will. Buster takes this advice and decides to round up Meena, Rosita, Ash, Johnny, Gunter and Miss Crawly to go on a road trip with him to Redstone City. The goal is to convince Crystal Entertainment to let them do a musical at the much-larger and more famous Crystal Tower Theater.

Ash already has a paying gig at a local rock club in Calatonia, but she’s being underpaid. When Buster meets up with Ash to ask her to go on the trip, he sees her backstage after a performance, right before she’s supposed to do an encore. The club owner/manager hands Ash a paycheck, and she’s annoyed because the amount is far less than what other artists at the club are getting paid.

Ash says to the club owner/manager: “I have a rule about not letting guys like you tell me what I’m worth. Unless I get paid like everyone else, I’m outta here!” And with that, she walks out of the building with Buster, without doing the encore.

The owner of Crystal Entertainment is Jimmy Crystal (played by Bobby Cannavale), who is literally and figuratively a wolf. He’s a hard-nosed, ruthless business mogul who insists that people call him Mr. Crystal. He is first seen judging auditioners at Crystal Tower Theater and giving red-buzzer rejections to every act, no matter how talented the act is.

Meanwhile, Buster and his group have arrived at Crystal Entertainment headquarters, but they don’t make it past the reception area because they don’t have an appointment. However, they go in a side employee entrance, find some sanitation worker uniforms, and disguise themselves as sanitation workers, in order to sneak into the auditions.

After a quick change back into their regular clothes, this enterprising group sneaks onto the audition stage. Buster makes an earnest pitch to offer his theater group for a musical show at Crystal Tower Theater. Mr. Crystal rejects them, of course. Buster tries to get Mr. Crystal to change his mind, but Mr. Crystal doesn’t want to hear it and is infuriated that these rejected auditioners don’t want to leave the stage.

Just as Mr. Crystal is about to have them thrown out, he overhears Gunter say that Gunter is a fan of Clay Calloway, a rock superstar lion who has been in seclusion for the past 15 years. Mr. Crystal asks if they know Clay. Buster lies and says yes. Mr. Crystal then changes his mind and says that he’ll agree to let Buster’s group do a show at the Crystal Tower Theater, on one condition: Clay Calloway has to be part of the act too.

Buster continues to lie and says it won’t be a problem because he and Clay are friends. When Mr. Crystal asks what the name of the show is, Gunter comes up with a title on the spot: “Out of This World.” It’s described as an outer-space musical. Mr. Crystal doesn’t care about the details because he just wants Clay Calloway to perform at the Crystal Tower Theater.

Mr. Crystal gives Buster and his group just three weeks to produce the show. He puts them up in the Crystal Tower Hotel and pays for all of their expenses. Buster is elated and decides he’ll figure out a way to convince Clay Calloway to be a part of the show. Ash is a big fan of Clay’s and she wants to go with Buster for this persuasive visit. Ash explains that Clay has become a grieving recluse ever since the death of his wife Ruby, who was his muse.

In the meantime, Buster works with Gunter on the concept for the “Out of This World” musical. They come up with the idea to have Rosita star as an astronaut looking for an outer-space explorer, with Gunter as a robot sidekick/aide. During this mission, she will have to visit four planets that have four different themes: war, love, despair and joy. This idea is as poorly conceived as it sounds.

Meanwhile, there’s more to Mr. Crystal than meets the eye. When an uninteresting movie like this is filled with hackneyed stereotypes, here’s one more: Mr. Crystal is really a gangster. A Vegas-styled hotel/casino owner who’s involved with illegal activities? Where did the filmmakers get this idea?

“Sing 2” starts to go off the rails in how it presents the preparations for this horrendous “Out of This World” musical production, by having the stars of the show go off in different directions with silly subplots. Rosita decides to invite her husband Norman (voiced by Nick Offerman) and their 25 kids to Redstone City. (After all, Mr. Crystal is paying for everything.) And so, there’s a scene of the kids being brats as they invade a food buffet area in the hotel and cause all types of chaos.

Rosita is playing an astronaut who has to do some high-flying stunts on stage. And therefore, it’s not a good time for Rosita to find out that she’s afraid of heights. Around the same time, Mr. Crystal insists that his daughter Porsha Crystal (voiced by Halsey) will be the star of the show. Buster is put in the awkward position of telling Rosita that she’s being replaced in the starring role. Porsha is a spoiled airhead who sounds like she’s spent too much time watching “Jersey Shore.”

Johnny is supposed to play a dancing gladiator-type of warrior in “Out of This World,” but Johnny doesn’t know how to dance. And so, the show’s uptight and mean-spirited monkey choreographer Klaus Kickenklober (voiced by Adam Buxton) makes Johnny’s life a living hell. But what do you know: One day, Johnny sees a sassy lynx street dancer named Nooshy (voiced by Letitia Wright), who attracts an enthusiastic crowd. Johnny is impressed with Nooshy’s talent, so he hires her to give him private dance lessons.

Meena, who is very inexperienced when it comes to dating, is paired with a conceited yak actor named Darius (voiced by Eric André), so she’s dreading the love scenes that they have to do in the musical. “Sing 2” has such slipshod screenwriting, Meena’s and Darius’ character roles in “Out of This World” are never clearly defined, except to show that they’re supposed to play each other’s love interest in “Out of This World.” Darius could have been breakout “Sing 2” character as a hilarious buffoon, but he’s mainly brought out for some underwhelming scenes where the jokes fall flat.

Meanwhile, Meena catches the eye of a mild-mannered elephant named Alfonso (voiced by Pharrell), an ice cream truck vendor. It’s obvious that Alfonso wants to date Meena, but she’s bashful about how to handle it. Alfonso compliments Meena on her singing talent, but she’s afraid to have conversations with him. None of these new supporting characters in “Sing 2” has a backstory or fully developed personality.

Meanwhile, there’s a time-wasting scene where Miss Crawly drives to reclusive rock star Clay’s estate (while System of a Down’s “Chop Suey!” is playing), to find out if she can get access to him. Some more problems ensue involving her glass eye, because the filmmakers seem to want to make Miss Crawly’s glass eye the main gimmick for the slapstick comedy about her. Needless to say, Miss Crawly is unsuccessful in getting to Clay. Buster and Ash decide to give it a try.

The second trailer for “Sing 2” already revealed that Clay (voiced by Bono, lead singer of U2) does come out of seclusion to perform on stage. But even if this major plot development hadn’t already been disclosed, it would be very easy to predict. The movie blandly and vaguely handles how Clay is convinced to come out of seclusion.

“Sing 2” is Bono’s animated feature-film debut as an actor. Bono’s speaking voice in this role is lowered one or two octaves from his real speaking voice. It seems like he’s trying to sound like a husky-voiced American rock star (somewhat like a combination of Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits), but Bono’s natural Irish accent can still occasionally be heard in the dialogue.

As for the music of “Sing 2,” just like the first “Sing” movie, a lot of it comes in snippets of one minute or less per song. Songs that drop in for a longer than a minute (but still quickly) include Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” Mercury Rev’s “Holes,” Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy,” DNCE’s “Cake by the Ocean,” Shawn Mendes’ “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” Eve’s “Who’s That Girl” and Camila Cabello and Mendes’ “Señorita.”

The longer musical numbers are serviceable, although there are a few standout moments. Halsey shines in her biggest number, when she sings a rousing rendition of the Struts’ “Could Have Been Me.” Halsey’s version of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” is also impressive. Johansson does nicely with her cover version of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”

However, the Tori Kelly/Pharrell Williams duet of Dionne Warwick’s “I Say a Little Prayer” has no heat. It’s also a very tame song selection for the characters of Meena and Alfonso, who are supposed to be in the early stages of a romance. Their first duet should’ve been more of a passionate love song or a more emotion-filled song about longing for love.

It seems like the “Sing 2” filmmakers bent over backwards to make Bono and his Clay character overshadow the movie’s last 15 minutes to steal the show. In the first “Sing” movie, main characters Rosita, Meena, Ash and Johnny all had their big individual singing moments in the spotlight. In “Sing 2,” everyone seems to have to clear a path for Bono/Clay.

In “Sing 2,” the Johnny character is woefully under-used as a singer. The movie seems more concerned about showing him awkwardly learning dance moves. It’s a shame, really, because Egerton is such a talented singer. His rendition of Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” in the first “Sing” movie was one of the catalysts to Egerton being cast in John’s 2019 musical biopic “Rocketman.”

“Sing 2” is essentially a vehicle to promote U2’s music in the latter half of the movie. There are four U2 songs in “Sing 2”: the aforementioned “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” and “Your Song Saved My Life,” which was written for the “Sing 2” soundtrack. Obviously, “Your Song Saved My Life” is supposed to be Clay’s big moment. “Your Song Saved My Life” isn’t bad, but it’s not outstanding, and it won’t be considered a U2 classic.

If you want to know another reason “Sing 2” is such a disappointing mess, the filmmakers made Bono—one of the most charismatic rock stars on the planet—a dull and dreary character in this movie. The Clay character could’ve been played by almost anyone, but it seems like in order to get U2’s music for this movie, the filmmakers had to cast Bono in this role. It’s too bad that Bono and the rest of the talented voice actors are stuck in this hack karaoke project that has a major studio budget.

Universal Pictures will release “Sing 2” in U.S. cinemas on December 22, 2021.

2021 Academy Awards: presenters and performers announced

April 23, 2021

The following is a combination of press releases from ABC:

Oscar® nominee Steven Yeun will join the ensemble cast slated to present at the 93rd Oscars®, show producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh announced today. “The Oscars” will air live on Sunday, April 25, 2021, on ABC.

“Surprise! We’re so excited to welcome Steven to the crew, and he completes our Oscars cast. No, really, this is it,” said Collins, Sher and Soderbergh.

The previously announced lineup includes Riz Ahmed, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Viola Davis, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Bong Joon Ho, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger and Zendaya.

Celeste, H.E.R., Leslie Odom Jr., Laura Pausini, Daniel Pemberton, Molly Sandén and Diane Warren will perform the five nominated original songs in their entirety for “Oscars: Into the Spotlight,” the lead-in to the 93rd Oscars. One performance will be recorded in Húsavík, Iceland, and four at the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Hosted by actors Ariana DeBose (“Hamilton”) and Lil Rel Howery (“Bad Trip”), the 90-minute “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will highlight the nominees’ journey to Hollywood’s biggest night, give fans around the world the ultimate insiders’ sneak peek to the party and, for the first time, bring Oscar music to the festivities. The show will feature a special appearance by DJ Tara. “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will air Oscar Sunday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. EDT/3:30 p.m. PDT.  

The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby® Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and international locations via satellite.  “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will air live on ABC at 6:30 p.m. EDT/3:30 p.m. PDT. “The Oscars” will be televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT and in more than 200 territories worldwide.  “Oscars: After Dark” will immediately follow the Oscars show.

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 10,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

2020 Golden Globe Awards: presenters announced

January 3, 2020

by Carla Hay

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (the organization the votes for the Golden Globe Awards) and Dick Clark Productions (which co-produces the Golden Globes telecast) have announced the presenters of the 2020 Golden Globe Awards ceremony, which takes place January 5 at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills California. NBC will have the U.S. telecast of the show, beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time/5 p.m. Pacific Time.

Here are the presenters in alphabetical order:

  • Tim Allen
  • Jennifer Aniston*
  • Christian Bale*
  • Antonio Banderas*
  • Jason Bateman
  • Annette Bening*
  • Cate Blanchett*
  • Matt Bomer
  • Pierce Brosnan
  • Glenn Close
  • Daniel Craig*
  • Ted Danson
  • Ana de Armas*
  • Leonardo DiCaprio*
  • Ansel Elgort
  • Chris Evans
  • Dakota Fanning
  • Will Ferrell
  • Lauren Graham
  • Tiffany Haddish
  • Kit Harington*
  • Salma Hayek
  • Scarlett Johansson*
  • Elton John*
  • Nick Jonas
  • Harvey Keitel
  • Zoe Kravitz
  • Jennifer Lopez*
  • Rami Malek*
  • Kate McKinnon
  • Helen Mirren
  • Jason Momoa
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Amy Poehler
  • Brad Pitt*
  • Da’Vine Joy Randolph
  • Margot Robbie*
  • Paul Rudd*
  • Wesley Snipes
  • Octavia Spencer
  • Bernie Taupin*
  • Charlize Theron*
  • Sofia Vergara
  • Kerry Washington
  • Naomi Watts
  • Rachel Weisz
  • Reese Witherspoon*

*2020 Golden Globe Awards nominee

Ricky Gervais is hosting the show. Tom Hanks will be receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award for career achievement, while Ellen DeGeneres will be getting the Carol Burnett Award, which is given to people who have excelled in comedy. The Carol Burnett Award debuted at the Golden Globes in 2019, and Burnett was the first recipient of the prize. Dylan and Paris Brosnan (sons of Pierce Brosnan) will serve as the 2020 Golden Globe Ambassadors.

Click here for a complete list of nominations for the 2020 Golden Globe Awards.

Apple announces Apple TV+ with Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and more

March 25, 2019

The following is a press release from Apple:

Apple today announced Apple TV+, the new home for the world’s most creative storytellers featuring exclusive original shows, movies and documentaries, coming this fall. Apple TV+, Apple’s original video subscription service, will feature a brand new slate of programming from the world’s most celebrated creative artists, including Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Octavia Spencer, J.J. Abrams, Jason Momoa, M. Night Shyamalan, Jon M. Chu and more. On the Apple TV app, subscribers will enjoy inspiring and authentic stories with emotional depth and compelling characters from all walks of life, ad-free and on demand.

“We’re honored that the absolute best lineup of storytellers in the world – both in front of and behind the camera – are coming to Apple TV+,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “We’re thrilled to give viewers a sneak peek of Apple TV+ and cannot wait for them to tune in starting this fall. Apple TV+ will be home to some of the highest quality original storytelling that TV and movie lovers have seen yet.”

Additionally, Apple debuted the all-new Apple TV app and Apple TV channels coming in May 2019. The all-new Apple TV app brings together the different ways to discover and watch shows, movies, sports, news and more in one app across iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Mac, smart TVs and streaming devices. Users can subscribe to and watch new Apple TV channels – paying for only services they want, like HBO, SHOWTIME and Starz – all on demand, available on and offline, with incredible picture quality and sound; enjoy sports, news and network TV from cable and satellite providers as well as purchase or rent iTunes movies and TV shows all within the new, personalized Apple TV app.

Beginning in May, customers can subscribe to Apple TV channels à la carte and watch them in the Apple TV app, with no additional apps, accounts or passwords required. Apple TV channels include popular services such as HBO, Starz, SHOWTIME, CBS All Access, Smithsonian Channel, EPIX, Tastemade, Noggin and new services like MTV Hits, with more to be added over time around the world.

The new Apple TV app personalizes what viewers love to watch across their existing apps and services while developing a secure and comprehensive understanding of users’ viewing interests. The app will offer suggestions for shows and movies from over 150 streaming apps, including Amazon Prime and Hulu, as well as pay-TV services such as Canal+, Charter Spectrum, DIRECTV NOW and PlayStation Vue. Optimum and Suddenlink from Altice will be added later this year.*

Additionally, the Apple TV app will become the new home to the hundreds of thousands of movies and TV shows currently available for purchase or rent in the iTunes Store.

Availability

Pricing and availability for the Apple TV+ video subscription service will be announced later this fall.

The all-new Apple TV app is coming to iPhone, iPad and Apple TV customers in over 100 countries with a free software update this May, and to Mac this fall.

Through Family Sharing, users can share Apple TV+ and subscriptions to Apple TV channels.

The Apple TV app will be available on Samsung smart TVs beginning this spring and on Amazon Fire TV, LG, Roku, Sony and VIZIO platforms in the future.

Later this year, customers with eligible VIZIO, Samsung, LG and Sony smart TVs will be able to effortlessly play videos and other content from their iPhone or iPad directly to their smart TVs with AirPlay 2 support.

Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms – iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS – provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

Editor’s note: The shows on Apple TV+ include:

  • Steven Spielberg’s reboot of the “Amazing Stories” anthology
  • Oprah Winfrey projects, including a documentary titled “Toxic Labor” about workplace harassment; a documentary (title to be announced) about mental health; and a book club-oriented program whose title is to be announced.
  • “The Morning Show,” a drama series about morning television, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, with Aniston and Witherspoon among the executive producers
  • “See,” a post-apocalyptic drama series starring Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard
  • “Little Voice,” a musical drama series, executive produced by J.J. Abrams, with original songs written by Sara Bareilles
  • “My Glory Was I Had Such Friends,” starring Jennifer Garner and executive produced by J.J. Abrams
  • “Peanuts” content, based on the beloved comic-strip characters
  • “Swagger,” a drama series based on the life of basketball star Kevin Durant, with Durant executive producing the show with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer
  • “Defending Jacob,” a drama series starring and executive produced by Chris Evans, about a father whose teenage son is suspected of killing a classmate
  • “Pachinko,” a drama series based on Min Jin Lee’s book, with Soo Hugh as the showrunner
  • A comedy series (title to be announced) about video-game company, executive produced by “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” co-stars Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day
  • “Are You Sleeping,” a drama series about how a podcast affects a cold murder case, starring Octavia Spencer, Lizzy Caplan and Aaron Paul
  • “Dickinson,” a drama series about Emily Dickinson, starring Hailee Steinfeld
  • “Bastards,” a drama series about war veterans, starring Richard Gere
  • A drama series (title to be announced) about CIA operative Amaryllis Fox, starring and executive produced by Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson
  • “Little America,” a comedy series about immigrants, executive produced by Oscar-nominated “The Big Sick” writers Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon
  • “Helpsters,” a children’s show from Sesame Workshop
  • “Calls,” an American remake of a French drama series that does reenactments of 911 calls
  • “For All Mankind,” a space drama series starring Joel Kinnaman
  • “Central Park,” an animated series from “Bob’s Burgers” creator Loren Bouchard, with a voice cast that includes Kristen Bell, Tituss Burgess, Daveed Diggs, Josh Gad, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr. and Stanley Tucci.
  • “Homes,” a docuseries about unusual homes
  • “Losing Earth,” a possible drama or docuseries about climate change
  • “Shantaram,” a drama series about an escaped prisoner from Australia who’s hiding out in India, from executive producer/screenwriter Eric Warren Singer (“American Hustle”)
  • “Time Bandits,” a fantasy comedy series from executive producer/director Taika Waititi, based on Terry Gilliam’s 1981 film of the same title
  • A still-untitled drama/thriller series from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, with a cast that includes Lauren Ambrose, Rupert Grint and Toby Kebbell [UPDATE: The series is titled “Servant.”]
  • A still-untitled drama series from Oscar-winning director Damien Chazelle, with the show’s plot and cast to be announced
  • A still-untitled sci-fi series from executive producer Simon Kinberg, who has written several “X-Men” movies
  • A still-untitled mystery drama series from executive producer/director Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”), based on real-life pre-teen reporter Hilde Lysiak (played by Brooklynn Prince), with Jim Sturgess co-starring as her father

SOURCE: Variety

*Network and streaming app availability may vary by country.

Elizabeth Arden and Reese Witherspoon announce 2019 ‘March on Pink campaign

March 7, 2019

The following is a press release from Elizabeth Arden:

Elizabeth Arden announces March On Pink, the next phase of the brand’s signature philanthropic campaign, through a $1 million pledge supporting UN Women in their work to advance women’s issues worldwide. To bolster awareness and efforts, a limited-edition lipstick signed by Reese Witherspoon in “Pink Punch” shade will be sold globally with 100% of the proceeds donated to UN Women.

Following last year’s limited-edition March On lipstick in Elizabeth Arden’s classic red, this year’s March On campaign ushers in a new, powerful pink shade. Inspired by the next generation of young women leaders and enacting great change, Pink Punch unapologetically embraces women’s boldness and femininity.

“It’s an incredible time to be a woman. The work we’re doing with Elizabeth Arden and UN Women is igniting real change and increasing possibilities for women globally,” says Reese Witherspoon, Elizabeth Arden’s Storyteller-in-Chief and female advocate. “I’m in this for all women – for my daughter, my mother, and all the amazing women in my life.”

Reese Witherspoon behind the scenes at the March On photo shoot. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Arden)

As an early supporter of women’s rights, the brand’s legacy of empowering women traces back to the suffrage movement, when Elizabeth Arden herself provided red lipsticks to the suffragettes marching down Fifth Avenue. Over one-hundred years later, the company remains a fervent supporter of women’s rights worldwide and continues to encourage the advancement of women through March On and its partnership with UN Women.

“From its inception, Elizabeth Arden has been defined by strong leadership, determination and spirit,” says Ava Huang, General Manager, Elizabeth Arden.  “Today, as much as ever, we are inspired by and committed to encouraging our future fearless leaders to March On. This campaign serves as a symbol of women’s strength and the powerful possibilities when we support one another.  We are grateful for our partnership with UN Women and their dedication and impactful work toward gender equality.”

“One of the strongest drivers of change toward gender equality is widespread awareness and participation,” explained Tia T. Gordon, Chief of Communications & Advocacy, UN Women. “The funds raised through March On will continue to fuel UN Women’s ‘Making Every Woman & Girl Count’ gender data initiative. We are proud to continue working with Elizabeth Arden to ensure that all women and girls are counted and visible, so that there is no excuse for inaction.”

The March On Beautiful Color Lipstick in Pink Punch will be available Beginning March 2019 for $26.50 on ElizabethArden.com and in department stores globally.

#TogetherWeMarchOn

ElizabethArden Facebook | ElizabethArden Instagram | ElizabethArden YouTube

About Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden has been empowering women and providing them with a diverse portfolio of products including proven, science-based skincare, signature fragrances and customized, multi-tasking color cosmetics since 1910. The brand is now sold in more than 120 countries and is proud to uphold Ms. Arden’s legacy. A legendary innovator, she was ahead of her time with a holistic approach to beauty and technology-driven skincare, values that still remain at the heart of the brand today. As an entrepreneur and founder of her own company, before even having the right to vote, she was an ardent supporter of women and famously provided red lipstick to suffragettes as they marched past her Red Door Salon & Spa on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Today, with spokesperson and female advocate Reese Witherspoon, the iconic brand proudly continues Ms. Arden’s mission to both empower women, through its signature cause platform March On, and provide them with luxurious and high performing products that leverage over 100 years of hands-on spa expertise. #TogetherWeMarchOn.

About UN Women
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life. UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls nationwide.

 

Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James fashion line partners with ELOQUII on exclusive capsule collection

March 6, 2018

The following is a press release from ELOQUII Design:

ELOQUII, the trend-driven retailer for women sizes 12-28, announces an exclusive capsule collection with lifestyle brand, Draper James. The Draper James for ELOQUII collection of 30 designs, including dresses and separates, captures Draper James’ signature Southern aesthetic while staying true to the design and fit ELOQUII’s customer loves.

The collection celebrates femininity with its colorful and upbeat details and presents a modern twist on timeless, ladylike style. Priced $55$225, the Draper James for ELOQUII collection is sold through ELOQUII stores and ELOQUII.com. The collection will also be available on DraperJames.com, through exclusive trunk show events in Draper James stores and RentTheRunway.com.

“Here at Draper James we care deeply about our customers’ feedback and they’ve consistently asked for expanded sizing. We were determined to set out to find the right partner to better serve her, which led us to ELOQUII, a brand whose fashion and fit we love,” says Draper James Founder and Creative Director Reese Witherspoon. “It’s been such a fun and rewarding experience to work with ELOQUII on this collaboration. We are thrilled to invite more women into the family with the Draper James for ELOQUII collection.”

Draper James for ELOQUII debuts with the Escape Route collection for Spring. Standout styles include the Embellished Parrot Dress ($226), Charleston Stripe Dress ($146) and Dolly Check Print Wrap Top ($86) with matching Skirt ($100). The partnership continues with the Hello Darlin’ Summer collection full of ladylike silhouettes showcasing Draper James’ signature magnolia print and denim separates alongside playful accents including Southern slogans and shoulder ties.

“When Reese and Draper James, a woman and brand we admire for Southern charm, hospitality and style, approached us to partner, we jumped at the opportunity,” states ELOQUII Creative Director Jodi Arnold. “We are so happy to create a timeless and playful collection with a brand that shares our core values that all women should have access to amazing fashion.”

Follow the conversation @ELOQUII @DraperJames #ELOQUIIxDraperJames.

About ELOQUII

ELOQUII Design Inc., based in New York and Columbus, Ohio, is a private company that is transforming the way women sizes 12+ dress and participate in fashion. The pioneering e-commerce destination for fashion in sizes 14 to 28, ELOQUII offers trend-driven style at accessible price points. The Company – in merchandise categories including apparel, swim, wide width footwear and accessories – debuts new and exciting trend-leading collections each month. ELOQUII also offers customers access to unique content through its Style & Substance platform, an editorial catalogue, and has created an online community through its #XOQ hashtag, which allows customers to tag themselves to the Company’s site via Instagram. The brand is currently sold at their Washington D.C. Pentagon City store, The Shops at North Bridge in Chicago, Easton Center in Columbus and through www.ELOQUII.com.

About Draper James

Draper James is a Southern-inspired lifestyle brand that embodies the personal style and sensibility of its Founder and Creative Director, Reese Witherspoon. Reese named the brand after her grandparents who taught her everything she knows about gracious Southern living. Draper James brings contemporary, yet timeless Southern style to your wardrobe and home, no matter where you live. The direct-to-consumer business launched online in May 2015 followed by its flagship store in Nashville that fall. Draper James also has brick-and-mortar locations in Dallas and Lexington and Atlanta. Designed in-house, the collection consists of ready-to-wear, accessories, and home accents. For more information, please visit www.draperjames.com or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat.

Elizabeth Arden launches March On campaign with Reese Witherspoon

March 1, 2018

Behind the scenes of Elizabeth Arden’s March On campaign shoot with Reese Witherspoon, the brand’s Storyteller-in-Chief. (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Arden)

The following is a press release from Elizabeth Arden:

Elizabeth Arden announces the launch of the March On campaign, featuring a limited-edition lipstick, in the brand’s signature Red Door Red shade and signed by Reese Witherspoon, which will be sold globally with 100% of the proceeds donated to UN Women.

An early advocate of women’s rights, Elizabeth Arden famously provided red lipsticks to the suffragettes marching on Fifth Avenue in 1912. Wearing red lipstick, which wasn’t a socially acceptable practice at the time, became a symbol of the women’s movement and has remained an icon of female power to this day.  As the women’s movement remains in force over 100 years later, Elizabeth Arden continues its fearless female founder’s legacy of advocating for women and honoring their ability to be forces of change in the world with the introduction of the March On campaign.

The program, in partnership with the brand’s Storyteller-in-Chief and female advocate Reese Witherspoon, is designed to celebrate women’s achievements, encourage women to support other women and includes a pledge to donate $1 million to UN Women in support of their work to advance women’s issues worldwide.  The limited edition March On red lipstick serves as a powerful symbol of unity and advocacy and invites women around the world to signal their support for one another.

“Founded by a woman dedicated to helping women, we are inspired by our history to help change the future. March On honors this legacy not only with a philanthropic donation, but also with a campaign that asks women to unite to help each other achieve their full potential,” explains Kara Langan, Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Elizabeth Arden. “Whether by creating female-centric support systems or propelling each other in their professional lives, when women stand together they can enact great change in the world.”

“There is real strength and camaraderie in March On and the feeling that we are in this together. By bringing UN Women, Elizabeth Arden and women everywhere together we can help change women’s lives around the world for the better,” explains Reese Witherspoon. “I have the unique privilege to not only tell these women’s stories through my production company as well as my relationship with Elizabeth Arden, but I also get to encourage them to share their own stories through March On.”

“A prominent entrepreneur and supporter of women’s rights, Elizabeth Arden herself is an inspirational example of the impact women can make on the world. We are pleased to embark upon a multi-year, worldwide partnership with the iconic brand to help advocate for women and girls and make their equal participation a reality,” says Tunay Firat, OIC Head of Strategic Private Sector Partnerships, UN Women. “The funds raised by Elizabeth Arden through the March On program will help strengthen UN Women’s global programming, which will lead directly to the increased responsiveness and sustainability of field-level activities.”

The ongoing integrated marketing campaign will include social content, public relations, in-store activations and advertising featuring Reese Witherspoon, in addition to the limited edition lipstick.  The March On Beautiful Color Lipstick in Red Door Red will be available beginning March 2018 for $26.50 on ElizabethArden.com and in department stores globally.

#TogetherWeMarchOn
Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube

About Elizabeth Arden
Elizabeth Arden has been empowering women and providing them with a diverse portfolio of products including proven, science-based skincare, signature fragrances and customized, multi-tasking color cosmetics since 1910. The brand is now sold in more than 120 countries and is proud to uphold Ms. Arden’s legacy. A legendary innovator, she was ahead of her time with a holistic approach to beauty and technology-driven skincare, values that still remain at the heart of the brand today. As an entrepreneur and founder of her own company, before even having the right to vote, she was an ardent supporter of women and famously provided red lipstick to suffragettes as they marched past her Red Door Salon & Spa on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Today, with spokesperson and female advocate Reese Witherspoon, the iconic brand proudly continues Ms. Arden’s mission to both empower women, through its signature cause platform March On, and provide them with luxurious and high performing products that leverage over 100 years of hands-on spa expertise. #TogetherWeMarchOn.

About UN Women
UN Women is the UN organization dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women. It works globally to make the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals a reality for women and girls and stands behind women’s equal participation in all aspects of life. UN Women supports UN Member States as they set global standards for achieving gender equality, and works with governments and civil society to design laws, policies, programmes and services needed to ensure that the standards are effectively implemented and truly benefit women and girls worldwide.

 

 

Mattel debuts movie-themed Barbies for ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and ‘Tomb Raider’

February 19, 2018

by Jennifer Smith

Mattel has unveiled new Barbie dolls based on two fantasy adventure movies releasing in 2018: “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Tomb Raider.”

“A Wrinkle in Time” Barbie dolls based on the characters in the movie played by Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon (Photo courtesy of Mattel)

For “A Wrinkle in Time,” the three new Barbie dolls are inspired by the characters of Mrs. Who (played by Mindy Kaling), Mrs. Which (played by Oprah Winfrey) and Mrs. Whatsit (played by Reese Witherspoon).  For “Tomb Raider,” the new Barbie doll is based on the character of Lara Croft (played by Alicia Vikander).

“A Wrinkle in Time” is the live-action film adaption of the classic children’s book written by Madeleine L’Engle. The movie, directed by Ava DuVernay, will be released by Walt Disney Pictures on March 9, 2018.

The “Wrinkle in Time” Barbie dolls go on sale for at a suggested retail price of about $50 each on the following dates:

  • Mrs. Whatsit: March 16, 2018
  • Mrs. Which: March 19, 2018
  • Mrs. Who: April 1, 2018

The movie “Tomb Raider,” directed by Roar Uthaug, is based on the video game of the same title. Warner Bros. Pictures will release the movie on March 16, 2018.  Angelina Jolie previously starred as Lara Croft in the 2001 movie “Lara Croft Tom Raider” and its 2003 sequel “Lara Croft Tome Raider: Cradle of Life.”

The “Tomb Raider” Barbie was unveiled at the 2018 New York Toy Fair. The doll goes on sale on March 9, 2018, at a suggested retail price of $29.99.

Crate and Barrel announces partnership with Reese Witherspoon

October 10, 2017

The following is a press release from Crate and Barrel:

Global home furnishings retailer Crate and Barrel has announced it is working with entrepreneur, Academy Award-winning actress and critically acclaimed producer Reese Witherspoon as the brand’s newest ambassador. The ongoing partnership, which will also incorporate Witherspoon’s own lifestyle and fashion brand Draper James, kicks off with the launch of Crate and Barrel’s holiday advertising campaign.

As someone who has expressed a longtime love of design and entertaining personally and, most recently, via the creation of Draper James in 2015, Reese Witherspoon was a natural partner for the brand. Both Reese and Crate and Barrel exude timelessness infused with modernity through everything they do and create, resulting in the perfect synergy for a collaboration.

“We are honored to work with Reese, who expresses so many of the best qualities of our brand—style, warmth, and optimism,” said Crate and Barrel President Steve Woodward. “Reese has shown the world she has an eye for design, and we’re thrilled for her to showcase that as an ambassador for the company. Reese truly brings the unique Crate and Barrel experience and spirit to life.”

The holiday campaign, “Make This Season Merry and Just Right,” features Reese entertaining friends and family at home, accompanied by her favorite products from Crate and Barrel. The campaign – created by Crate and Barrel’s Agency of Record Preacher – includes several national TV spots and placements across multiple digital and social platforms that will air through the end of the year.

This holiday season, Crate and Barrel will also highlight select gifts from Draper James, both in stores and online at crateandbarrel.com. As a part of their longer-term relationship, Crate and Barrel and Draper James will release co-designed collections for Spring and Summer 2018 and beyond.

About Crate and Barrel
Crate and Barrel is an industry-leading home furnishings specialty retailer, known for its exclusive designs, timeless style and superb customer service. In addition to a direct marketing division that services more than 90 countries, the company operates stores throughout the U.S. and Canada as well as international franchise locations around the globe. Working directly with European ateliers and factories, Crate and Barrel was among the first to introduce affordable household goods and contemporary home décor to American consumers. Founded in 1962, the brand’s essence has translated perfectly to the omnichannel era 55 years after opening its first store. The Crate and Barrel family of brands, which includes CB2 and The Land of Nod, is owned by Otto Group, a global retail and services group based in Hamburg, Germany. For more information, visit www.crateandbarrel.com.

About Draper James
Draper James is a Southern-inspired lifestyle brand that embodies the personal style and sensibility of its Founder and Creative Director, Reese Witherspoon. Reese named the brand after her grandparents who taught her everything she knows about gracious Southern living. Draper James brings contemporary, yet timeless Southern style to your wardrobe and home, no matter where you live. The direct-to-consumer business launched online in May 2015 followed by its flagship store in Nashville that fall. Draper James also has brick-and-mortar locations in Dallas and Lexington with Atlanta opening fall 2017. Designed in-house, the collection consists of ready-to-wear, accessories, and home accents. For more information, please visit www.draperjames.com or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat

Reese Witherspoon navigates love and an unusual living situation in ‘Home Again’

September 8, 2017

Reese Witherspoon in "Home Again"
Reese Witherspoon in “Home Again” (Photo by Karen Ballard)

“Home Again” stars Reese Witherspoon as Alice Kinney in a modern romantic comedy. Recently separated from her husband, (played by Michael Sheen), Alice decides to start over by moving back to her hometown of Los Angeles with her two young daughters. During a night out on her 40th birthday, Alice meets three aspiring filmmakers (played by Pico Alexander, Nat Wolff, and Jon Rudnitsky) who happen to be in need of a place to live. Alice agrees to let the guys stay in her guest house temporarily, but the arrangement ends up unfolding in unexpected ways. Alice’s unlikely new family and new romance comes to a crashing halt when her ex-husband shows up, suitcase in hand. “Home Again” is a story of love, friendship, and the families we create. And one very big life lesson: Starting over is not for beginners.

Here are videos and photos from “Home Again”:

 

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