Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Sept. 28 2016 12:10 PM

Stephen Colbert’s Famous Friends Want You to Know That Registering to Vote “Doesn’t Cause Nosebleeds”

Joss Whedon released a star-studded voter public service announcement last week, and Stephen Colbert, not to be outdone, is showing off his famous friends in a humorous PSA of his own. Since Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day, the Late Show host made a video to show how important voting is—so important that the whole thing is in shot in black and white. Colbert is joined by George Takei, America Ferrera, Tituss Burgess, and more to urge you to register so you too can share the joy of doing something that is “better than losing your virginity on Christmas morning.”

So go register to vote (not boat), and make your children—or at least, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s children—proud.

Sept. 28 2016 11:48 AM

Jon Favreau and Disney Are Remaking The Lion King, and We’ve Got Questions

Disney announced Wednesday morning that the studio will be teaming up yet again with director Jon Favreau, this time for a “reimagining” of The Lion King. The remake will serve as a follow-up to Favreau’s live-action update of The Jungle Book. Favreau confirmed the news, rather cheekily, on Twitter:

Sept. 28 2016 11:29 AM

The New Trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Will Reignite Harry Potter Nostalgia

A new trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the first installment of a new cinematic trilogy penned by J.K. Rowling, arrived on Wednesday morning, debuting on Ellen.* The trailer shows off the film's promise and nostalgic appeal to Harry Potter fans from the moment Eddie Redmayne's Newt Scamander, a hero who shares a lot in common with Potter, emerges out of a tiny suitcase before the Magical Congress of the United States of America.

Sept. 28 2016 10:41 AM

Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling Will Star in a Film Described as “The Devil Wears Prada Meets Broadcast News

Emma Thompson has been cast as a veteran late-night comedy show host in a new movie written by and set to co-star Mindy Kaling, Variety reports. Kaling is also confirmed to produce alongside Scott Rudin and Howard Klein, who have begun to attract studio interest. Although the untitled film has yet to attach a director or studio, it’s expected that this major talent package will ignite a competitive bidding war in the coming weeks.

Sept. 28 2016 8:32 AM

Is This the Best Fall TV Season in Recent Memory?

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Are we currently experiencing the best fall TV season in several years?

Considering the reception that has greeted many of 2016’s new network, cable, and streaming series, it certainly feels that way, which is a little unusual. Typically, as we inch toward the beginning of October, professional and nonprofessional TV viewers are more likely to be criticizing network executives’ programming decisions and placing bets on how many heavily hyped fall shows will make it past Christmas, not drowning in more great comedies and dramas than they can handle.

Sept. 28 2016 8:02 AM

How Peak TV Brought Us the Weird, Nichey Brilliance of Documentary Now

As an ever-increasing number of networks and streaming providers try to claim their place at the scripted-content table, Peak TV’s embarrassment of riches can tip into straight-up embarrassment. (Any minute now we’ll get word of an edgy antihero drama being developed for Nick Jr.) But it’s also allowed some exceptionally strange and rare flowers to bloom, shows whose very existence, to say nothing of their success, would have been unimaginable even a few years ago.

Those flowers don’t come much stranger than Documentary Now, which is currently in its second season on IFC. Conceived by former Saturday Night Live compadres Bill Hader, Fred Armisen, and Seth Meyers, Documentary Now is based on what would have been considered, under different circumstances, an insanely niche idea: It’s a comic anthology devoted to sending up documentaries—not the form as a whole, as innumerable mockumentaries had done before it, but individual films, with a faithfulness and specificity that only fans of the sometimes obscure originals would truly appreciate.

Sept. 28 2016 12:12 AM

TV Is So Good Right Now That Annapurna Pictures Is Starting a TV Division

Since its founding in 2011, Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures has made a name for itself with a steady stream of excellent and interesting films. Ellison, the daughter of Oracle’s Larry Ellison, has the deep pockets to fund things like Paul Thomas Anderson’s 65 mm cinematography in The Master and the taste to know that giving directors like Anderson, Spike Jonze and Ana Lily Amirpour room to run would pay off artistically. (The trailer for Mike Mills’ 20th Century Women, an Annapurna production that looks typically ambitious and interesting, was released just today.) Now Ellison moving into television, according to Variety, bringing former HBO president of entertainment Sue Naegle aboard to head the new division.

Naegle, who started in United Talent Agency’s mailroom and rose to partner there before moving to HBO, was instrumental in the launch of Game of Thrones, Veep, and Girls. She will bring some projects she’d been developing at her own production company, Naegle Ink, with her. She’ll also take over at least one Annapurna TV project already in development, a series about classic Hollywood focusing on Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich from writers Angela Robinson and Alex Kondrake. It remains to be seen whether Annapurna can adapt its model of smart, director-driven content to the world of serial storytelling (or virtual reality, another Annapurna project), but it can certainly afford to try. Given Ellison’s track record so far, it’d be foolish to bet against her.

Sept. 27 2016 10:17 PM

Mads Mikkelsen Saves the Day in the New Doctor Strange Trailer

It’s always a smart move to cast Mads Mikkelsen, and the new trailer for Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange shows exactly why. Most of it is nothing new: Benedict Cumberbatch plays a sort of ersatz Bond—watch winders, tuxedos, and Lamborghinis—until Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One opens his eyes to a lot of mystical nonsense and special effects rather shamelessly stolen from Inception. But Mikkelsen’s dry delivery of “Mister doctor?” exchange is a breath of fresh air and gives hope that Doctor Strange might be closer to Ant-Man than humorless slogs like Captain America: Civil War, at least when Mikkelsen is on screen.

The trailer indirectly points to one of the great weaknesses of the Marvel Cinematic Universe: the lack of great villains. One thing the best Bond films excel at is casting great actors and letting them hand in truly demented performances. Marvel, on the other hand, somehow managed to suck the charisma out of Lee Pace, and, despite casting a long list of A-listers, has really only managed a couple of memorable villains—and one of them wasn’t, really. The long-teased arrival of the charisma-free Thanos does not seem likely to improve matters. Can Mikkelsen’s dry wit breathe new life into the franchise? Why not? He’s done it before.

Sept. 27 2016 3:23 PM

Watch the Very Dancey Trailer for Netflix’s Justin Timberlake Concert Film Directed by Jonathan Demme

The end of a two-year-long, record-selling music tour is the subject of Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids, Jonathan Demme’s concert film recently acquired for distribution by Netflix. The movie goes behind the scenes of the final performance of Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience World Tour at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, capturing the buildup before presenting the massive show itself.

Early reviews out of the Toronto International Film Festival premiere make clear that if you’re a fan of JT, his band the Tennessee Kids, or killer dance moves in general, this movie should hit the bullseye. But the best news here has to be the Netflix factor: Rather than awkwardly swaying in your seat with a bunch of strangers around, you can stream Justin Timberlake in the comfort (and privacy) of your own home, jamming and singing along to your heart’s content.

Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids hits Netflix on Oct. 12.

Sept. 27 2016 2:29 PM

Patton Oswalt’s Explanation of What Life—and Winning an Emmy—Is Like After Losing His Wife Is Heartbreaking

Patton Oswalt and Michelle McNamara in 2011.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

Patton Oswalt gave a lovely and incredibly touching interview on Conan on Monday night in which the comedian discussed coping with the unexpected death of his wife, true-crime writer Michelle McNamara, in April. Asked about his recent Emmy win for Best Variety Special, Oswalt explained that he had trouble capturing McNamara’s influence in his acceptance speech, which ended with a very brief tribute to her: “I want to share this with two people: my daughter, Alice, who is waiting at home, and the other one is waiting somewhere else, I hope.”

I was a different, better person from having met her and spent a life with her. And she was the reason that my comedy got better to get me to the point where someone would consider me for an Emmy. It was hard to encapsulate that in a very quick speech. Of anyone I’ve ever been with, especially romantically—people that I’ve gone out with have justifiably pulled the rip cord on me, like “This guy’s nuts.” And she was like, “I can work with this, I think.”

It’s almost impossible to sit through Oswalt’s interview dry-eyed, but if there is any silver lining to be had from all this, it's that Oswalt is honoring his promise to start telling jokes again. “I’m like every bad ’80s sitcom where the dad is raising a kid by himself,” he told Conan O’Brien. “Except my ’80s sitcom sucks. There’s no punchlines. There’s a lot of me eating Cheetos for dinner. I’m waiting for my daughter to turn to the camera and go, ‘No wonder I’m in therapy.’ ”