Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Feb. 8 2016 10:43 AM

Watch James Corden and Elton John Do a Special Carpool Karaoke (Now With 200 Percent More Boas)

On Sunday, Elton John joined an obviously giddy James Corden for one of the Late Late Show’s best rounds of carpool karaoke yet. In this 11-minute extended Web version, the two jam out to all the classics—from “Your Song” and “Crocodile Rock” to “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” and “The Circle of Life.”

They also brought something that many Carpool Karaokes have been sadly lacking: elaborate costume changes.

Feb. 8 2016 10:03 AM

Watch Will Ferrell Try Out to Be Stephen Colbert’s “Exotic Animal Expert,” Make Everyone Lose It

From the moment Will Ferrell stepped onto the Late Show set in a Crocodile Dundee get-up to the tune of “Hotline Bling,” we knew things were going to get weird. “I’m curious about your outfit tonight,” Colbert said before much time had passed. Ferrell noted that in its nascence, the Late Show still has yet to find an exotic animal expert—a role he’s eager to fill.

Feb. 8 2016 9:43 AM

Key and Peele Brought Back Their Classic “Hingle McCringleberry” Sketch, With Help From Stephen Colbert

Among Key and Peele’s most beloved sketches is “McCringleberry’s Excessive Celebration,” in which football star Hingle McCringleberry (Keegan-Michael Key) can’t stop, won’t stop dancing every time he scores a touchdown—much to the chagrin of the stern, humorless referee (Jordan Peele). In the spirit of the past weekend’s Super Bowl festivities, the comedy duo resurrected these two adversaries—only this time, McCringleberry’s celebrations are even sillier and more excessive, and find him teaming up with (Kimble Mathias, who also provides some deadpan commentary).

Super Bowl 50 may have been the worst in years, but at the very least, we got another classic Key and Peele sketch out of it.

Feb. 8 2016 8:32 AM

Jonathan Krisel on Building the Visual Worlds of TV’s Weirdest Comedies

This article originallly appeared in Vulture.

During his 12 years of working in cable, director and producer Jonathan Krisel has guided many successful boutique TV projects with a remarkably wide range of tones. To date, his résumé includes the gonzo public-access hallucination Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, liberal comedy of manners Portlandia, character-driven parody program Kroll Show, sketch-based relationship comedy Man Seeking Woman, and the new FX dramedy starring Zach Galifianakis, Baskets. Krisel has a seemingly preternatural ability to amplify the unique voices of those behind these very disparate shows. Here, he reflects on the creative process behind each of them.

Feb. 8 2016 8:02 AM

A Doubter’s Almanac Nails the Mid-Book Perspective Shift in a Way No Novel Has Before

Milo Andret can’t get lost. He first discovers this ability as a boy on a boat in Lake Huron, summertime, the water “smooth as oil,” when he realizes that his father is rowing his family out to sea. Surrounded by water, and without a visual marker to guide him, Milo leads them home. Years later, Milo abandons his children in a park, challenging them to find their way back to the car. They do. Forty or so years after that summer day on the lake, Milo’s granddaughter will prove herself a natural orienteer during a school hike. But by then, far deeper into the novel, this talent, which leads all the characters to varying levels of isolation and self-destruction, reads less like a blessing than a curse.

Ethan Canin’s latest and longest novel, A Doubter’s Almanac, is about this extraordinary family, and especially Milo himself, the brilliant, alcoholic mathematician who is the novel’s axis. (After reading A Doubter’s Almanac, I was so impressed that I asked to interview Canin for Publisher’s Weekly.) It’s fitting, in an intuitive and satisfying way, that this novel about people who always know where they are on the world’s surface, as Milo might say, has a bold and unconventional structure. A Doubter’s Almanac opens in a briskly written third person, following Milo from his first early flashes of genius in the northern Michigan woods, when he carves a miraculous chain from a fallen tree, all the way to Berkeley and then Princeton, from love affair to love affair and drink to drink, and most impressively, through the tangle of his singular mind, as he develops a proof of the Malosz’s conjecture and in doing so solidifies himself as one of the pre-eminent mathematicians of his time. But then, about two hundred pages in, there’s the dizzying intrusion of a new narrator. It occurs in media res, mid-assault (Milo has just attacked the Nobel Prize-winning husband of one of his lovers), without signpost or warning. In intimate, present-tense first person, Hans Andret, Milo’s son, announces himself, and in doing so, claims the story we’ve just read as his work.

Feb. 8 2016 7:32 AM

The Real-Life Inspirations Behind Hail, Caesar!: A Star-by-Star and Movie-by-Movie Breakdown

In a recent interview with Variety about their new film Hail, Caesar!, Joel and Ethan Coen were asked point-blank if the characters in their 1950s-Hollywood fantasia were based on real people. Ethan answered, somewhat evasively, “Is Scarlett Johansson Esther Williams? Not really. We don’t know anything about Esther Williams.” “We’re not big on research,” added Joel, explaining, “You can go down the rabbit hole really fast.”

With all due respect to the Coens, let’s go down that rabbit hole! The duo may not have done extensive additional research while preparing for the movie, but their grasp of movie history still comes through loud and clear. Here are the inspirations behind all the movie’s main characters and key events, as best as we can tell. (Spoilers for both Hail, Caesar! and Hollywood history follow.)

Feb. 7 2016 10:31 PM

The Good Wife Will End in May, Announces Saddest Super Bowl Ad

After seven seasons on the air, The Good Wife will end on May 8. CBS announced the long-rumored news in a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday night. Though the show is no stranger to unceremonious deaths, many fans still weren’t prepared for the news.

Slate television critic Willa Paskin called the series the best drama on television a little more than a year ago, and for many there will be no replacing it. However, there is some good news: The show’s creators, Robert King and Michelle King, have a new show that’s expected to premiere later this year.

Feb. 7 2016 10:06 PM

Beyoncé Just Announced a New World Tour, Immediately After Her Super Bowl Performance

In the minutes following Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance, she surprised fans once again by announcing a new world tour. The Formation Tour, named after her new, Black Lives Matter–inspired single, will take her to stadiums across North America this spring, with shows following in Europe this summer. It’s not immediately clear whether this means more new material is imminent, though it certainly seems like a good sign.

Tickets go on sale next week. Watch a teaser below.

Feb. 7 2016 9:09 PM

Watch Beyoncé Seamlessly Blend Activism and Swag in Her Super Bowl Halftime Performance

Twenty-four hours after Beyoncé surprise-released her new single “Formation,” our greatest living pop star took the stage to give the song its live debut on music’s biggest stage. Beyoncé had a lot to live up to after giving one of the all-time great halftime performances in 2013, but she sidestepped expectations by going in a slightly different direction, and bringing her #BlackLivesMatter-inspired single to television’s most-watched event.

Feb. 7 2016 7:01 PM

Watch Lady Gaga Sing the National Anthem With Great Vocals, Only Moderate Gaga-tude

Lady Gaga has always been a great singer, but in the two or three years since the disappointing commercial performance of her last solo album Artpop, she has reinvented herself as a more restrained singer of jazz and pop standards. So it made sense when she was chosen to sing the always challenging “Star-Spangled Banner” at the 2016 Super Bowl.

While Gaga’s surprisingly operatic vocal performance, belted over piano accompaniment, did not disappoint, Gaga did surprise somewhat with her fashion choices, which were not so toned-down as they have been in other recent performances. Though she left her meat dress at home, Gaga took the stage in red-white-and-blue platform shoes and a hairdo seemingly borrowed from Jareth the Goblin King. Perhaps she was already preparing for her Grammys tribute to David Bowie? We’ll see soon whether this is the beginning of the return of weirdo Gaga.