Slate's Culture Blog

Jan. 27 2015 7:21 PM

Watch Stevie Nicks’ Wrenching, Candid Piano Performance of “Blue Water”

For the first time in a long time, all is well in Fleetwood Mac land. The band is fully reunited for a self-proclaimed “last act,” and they’ll be going on tour and releasing a new album this year. Of course, the reunion would mean little without Stevie Nicks, and Rolling Stone recently paid obeisance to the singer’s sprawling career with a 7,000-word cover story. The magazine also got Nicks to play some songs in a stripped-down setting, just her and a piano, and her moving, meditative performance of “Blue Water” is well worth a watch.

The song is off 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault, Nicks’ most recent solo album. In case there was any doubt, that voice—twangy, full-throated, clear as a bell—is good as ever.

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Jan. 27 2015 5:20 PM

The All-Female Ghostbusters Cast Has Been Announced

Thanks to The Hollywood Reporter (and a tweet from director Paul Feig), the cast for the all-female reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise has been unveiled. It's a predictable but delightful band: Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, and Saturday Night Live players Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon. 

Almost as soon as the project was announced, many people (including Bill Murray) assumed Wiig and McCarthy were shoe-ins for the lead roles. Just a few weeks ago, reports circulated that the entire production schedule of the film, which is expected to shoot this summer, revolved around accomodating McCarthy's packed schedule (which includes another Paul Feig-directed comedy, Spy, set to come out May 22). The addition of McKinnon and Jones is the real news here, as their donning of the proton packs ends speculation around many, many (many) other female stars, including Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone.

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McKinnon and Jones have been standout players on SNL, and the Wiig/McCarthy chemistry was one of the most memorable elements in Feig's Bridemaids, so this should be fun.

Jan. 27 2015 5:00 PM

Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright Explain Why Scientology Appeals to Aspiring Actors

Going Clear, director Alex Gibney’s film adaptation of Laurence Wright’s bestselling book about the Church of Scientology, was one of the most anticipated premieres of Sundance. But it’s not the only recent film to look at the checkered history of the church—P.T. Anderson’s The Master was widely understood to be a fictionalized portrait of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

In the second part of our interview with Gibney and Wright, we asked them what they thought of The Master—they were fans—and they explained why the church appeals to aspiring actors.

Jan. 27 2015 4:02 PM

The Real Reason People Keep Plagiarizing Tom Petty

Tom Petty’s copyright settlement with Sam Smith, announced Monday, marks at least the third time that Petty has heard similarities between his own songs and more recent hits by other artists. I think there’s a reason this keeps happening to Petty in particular: His music is so simple that a song can hardly play with the building blocks of rock ’n’ roll without evoking a Petty hit.

Jan. 27 2015 3:41 PM

Louis C.K.’s New Stand-Up Special Is Streaming Now. Here’s How to Watch It.

On Monday night, Louis C.K. was forced to cancel his latest show at Madison Square Garden due to the forecasted (and ultimately overhyped) blizzard: “I’m not one to defy future historic events,” he joked in an email to fans. Buried in that same email, C.K. also announced a stand-up special to be “historically available” on his website “very soon.” As promised, today he’s released Louis C.K.: Live at the Comedy Store, and you can download or stream it now.

Jan. 27 2015 3:16 PM

It Is 2015 and Some Crazy Blink-182 Drama Is Happening

Something is rotten in the kingdom of pop-punk. After a tense, several-hour-long volley of announcements and denials yesterday, Blink-182 members Travis Barker and Mark Hoppus confirmed to Rolling Stone that the group’s third member, Tom DeLonge, had “indefinitely” left the band.  He will be replaced by Alkaline Trio guitarist Matt Skiba for an upcoming appearance at the Musink festival, which is co-owned by Barker.

The band initially announced the split by a press release to Radio.com. The announcement was then denied by DeLonge on his Instagram account, only to be reaffirmed by Hoppus and Barker in the rather scathing Rolling Stone interview. In that piece, the bandmates describe a stilted reunion and subsequent break-up that sounds equal parts confusing and sad: According to Barker, the decision to get back together in 2009 felt perfunctory, and maybe only happened “because I almost died.” (Barker was involved in a plane crash in 2008). After then deciding to record new music, the group spent two years shopping around for a label at DeLonge’s insistence. When they found one, they say they received an email from DeLonge’s manager (Barker and Hoppus say they haven’t spoken to DeLonge in months) notifying them that “Tom. Is. Out.” The remaining Blinks describe DeLonge as “disrespectful and ungrateful,” express relief to finally be publicly rid of his equivocation, and convey an air of weariness and melancholy that feels tragically at odds with a band as silly and frivolous (but still totally enjoyable) as Blink-182.

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Hoppus and Barker confirm they remain committed to playing the Musink festival, and that they just want to “go out and play Blink songs” without it getting too “lawyer-ey.” Perhaps this isn’t the worst possible outcome for an aging pop-punk act. At least Blink hasn’t split into two competing touring bands (like whatever is going on with Black Flag right now). And perhaps, with Skirba on board, it can morph into some kind of supergroup (Blinkaline 180-trio?) that discards the overly-whiney songs of its predecessors. Plus, free from the burden of Blink, DeLonge now has time to focus on his “non-musical endeavors,” which presumably means updating his alien-abduction conspiracy website.

Jan. 27 2015 12:20 PM

Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright on the Challenges of Making a Doc About Scientology

Alex Gibney’s documentary version of Lawrence Wright’s Scientology exposé Going Clear has been one of the talks of the Sundance Film Festival. After the premiere, we asked the director and author what it was like to investigate the group and produce a film version of the book. They said the many legal threats against them don’t compare to what some former Scientology members have faced. Watch the conversation below.

Jan. 27 2015 12:16 PM

Everything That’s Happened Around Adnan Syed’s Case Since Serial Premiered: A Timeline

This article originally appeared in Vulture.

Part of the strange intimacy of Serial comes from the knowledge that the murder-mystery at the podcast’s heart took place in the real world. Its players aren’t drawing-room inventions; they’re real people with real lives. But that also means that once the story stops, they don’t. Their lives go on and on. Vulture has spent months detailing the new events in the Adnan Syed case that happen outside of the podcast’s official narrative. Here they are now, in one easily readable (and constantly updated) timeline.

Jan. 27 2015 11:23 AM

Watch the First Trailer for Fantastic Four, Starring Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan

Gazing deeply into the recesses of your subconscious you glimpse a fleeting memory. You use all of your  mental energy to draw it into focus. Slowly, hazily, it takes the shape of … a casting notice: “Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan to Star in Fantastic Four Reboot.” And though the idea had faded, perhaps obscured by thoughts of Suicide Squads and Untitled DC Film (2019), here evidence appears to prove it was not some deluded fantasy, but a good and true reflection of tangible reality. A teaser trailer for Fox’s upcoming Fantastic Four reboot, set to open in June:

Jesting about superhero franchise crowding aside, this version of Fantastic Four looks promising. The cast is exciting, with Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan stepping up into the blockbuster lead roles they seemed destined for after building indie steam in films like Whiplash and Fruitvale Station, respectively. Teller will play Mr. Fantastic, with Jordan as the Human Torch, Kate Mara as the Invisible Woman, and Jaime Bell as the Thing. Director Josh Trank has proved a capable director of interesting superhero films with his widely praised 2012 found-footage superpowers film Chronicle. And most importantly: Fantastic Four is one of Marvel Comics longest running and most beloved properties, and the team’s origin story has tremendous potential for familial drama, screwball humor, and sick action sequences. It will also be interesting to watch Fox’s continued attempts to compete against Marvel with their own properties. Though we mostly see and hear vague, Neil deGrasse Tyson-like paeans to the virtues of scientific inquiry in this teaser, it’s still a welcome reminder of what’s to come.

Jan. 27 2015 9:04 AM

Shameik Moore on the Significance of Dope in the Wake of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown

Check out all Slate’s interviews from the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

In Rick Famuyiwa’s Dope, high schooler Malcolm (Shameik Moore) struggles with reconciling being a nerd while living in the rough neighborhood of Inglewood, California. One of the most impassioned moments of the film comes towards the end, when Malcolm reads aloud his college essay for Harvard—a scene that resonates in a particularly timely manner in the wake of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

All this week, Brow Beat is doing interviews from the Sundance Film Festival, and we asked Moore about how Dope fits into the current conversation on race in America.

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